Archive | December, 2010

News quote of the day so far

No, I didn’t make this up: what did the blind man say, upon joyously being reunited with his service dog?

I was very afraid that I’d never see him again.”

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TPA weekly blog round-up

Here’s the Texas Progressive Alliance’ last weekly blog roundup for 2010.

Bay Area Houston notices that Death Panels are starting in Jan.

Off the Kuff took a look at the election contest that was filed in HD48.

Harold at Letters From Texas told a little Christmas story from his childhood, to (unsuccessfully) prove that he’s not a scrooge.

It seems the EPA and Big Gas agree on something: Hydraulic fracturing causes gas to penetrate into the water zone! TXsharon caught Big Gas shooting themselves in the foot and exposed it on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

If you want a lighter take on Texas’s 4 new Congressional seats announced by the Census this week that includes calls for reform on how we do redistricting in Texas and Lord of the Rings references, head over to TexasVox.

WhosPlayin has mostly been quiet over the holiday, but is following how one gas driller, Titan Operating has legal battles going on in two adjacent cities: Flower Mound, and Lewisville.

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker talks about a recent story out of New Mexico. He asks a number of questions about abortion, choice and reality. Between the warring camps and what real people face there is an enormous gulf. See how you would answer his questions here: Abortion, Choices, and Compassion.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about federal money being used to improve the Galveston Seawall. Galveston County voted Republican in 2010. Where are bake sales to raise the needed funds to improve the Seawall and to get the Feds out of Galveston County? Where are the citizen volunteers doing the work themselves? Where are the committed liberty loving citizens of Galveston County living up all the talk of self-reliance and local governance?

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My little Christmas story

There have been complaints in the comments section that I am a “scrooge,” and am less than completely enthusiastic about Christmas. I beg to differ – I do think Christmas is the most magical time for children, I’ll give it that.

When I was a kid, I specifically remember being deeply suspicious of this “Santa Claus” B.S. at the early age of 5. I remember as I was sent to bed on Christmas eve that year “so that Santa could come,” trying very hard to stay awake long enough to catch Dad swiping the milk and cookies we left out for Santa. I just knew Santa was a farce…fiction…a fraud perpetrated on the most innocent among us. Not dissimilar to the concept of “quality public education” in Texas, come to think of it.

However, this particular Christmas Of My Deep Santa Suspicion was also the very same Christmas in which I had asked for a shovel for Christmas – so that I could dig a heffalump trap, just like in the Winnie The Pooh books. So, yeah, Santa seemed totally fishy to me, but I had no problem completely believing in heffalumps. This, despite the fact that they never even caught a heffalump in the damn books. But it wasn’t for lack of Pooh and Piglet trying!

Anyway, of course I couldn’t stay awake that night, so presumably Dad absconded with the milk and cookies as usual. And when I awakened the next morning, not only did I get my shovel, but I also got, from “Santa,” my older sister’s hand-me-down record player. This turn of events only added to my confusion, as it intersected with my admittedly-rudamentary understanding of property rights. It was obviously my sister’s record player. But it said “From Santa” on the tag. So, I wondered, does Santa just get to waltz into my sister’s room, swipe her record player, and give it to me? WHAT KIND OF A COMMIE PINKO CON MAN IS THIS “SANTA” CHARACTER ANYWAY??!

The bottom line: the record player played records just fine, and while the shovel worked great and I ultimately had heffalump traps all over the back yard, I never once caught a heffalump. I maintain it’s because of the atrocious lack of concern for endangered species. And neither Mom nor Dad ever got caught playing Santa – I just never could stay up to catch them.

Or…who knows. Maybe there really was a Santa Claus after all. But if so, I really think he owes my sister an apology.

Here’s hoping everybody had a very merry Christmas. Happy now?

And, oh yeah, if anybody has any hot tips about where the heffalumps might be hiding in Big Bend, I’ve  got a shovel.

[Stay tuned - next time I get in the mood to share personal childhood holiday stories, I might share the time Dad came home with the little baby chicks for Easter, which didn't have the good sense to die like most Easter chicks, and became full-grown terrorist chickens]

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Let’s put things in perspective, shall we?

Just sayin’.

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Meanwhile, in celebrity news…

This happened. But it was probably for the best.

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Headline of the day so far

This will undoubtedly be of special interest to Australian women.

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We’re optimized for mobile devices

Anticipating the legislative session, during which you, the crap-reading public, will be sitting bored in the Senate or House floor or gallery, we at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, Research and Development Division, have optimized the blog for mobile devices. It will load much faster and will be more readable on your smart phone, even if you aren’t very smart.

You can check us out on your phone right now, or for a preview on your computer, here’s what it looks like.

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If you’re not currently reading from a mobile device, here’s what it looks like.

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Thinking of firing an employee during the holidays?

Perhaps you should think again.

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If Jesus had been born in 2010…

A friend sent me this. I had to share. It’s in keeping with…well, just watch.

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Why legislators shouldn’t needlessly brag, chapter 1,246,433

This week’s episode: hunting.

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Headline of the day so far

Can be found here.

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Seriously. This TSA groping thing.

Now they’ve gone too far.

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TPA weekly round-up

Here’s the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance blog round-up, with analysis on all the highly questionable stupid human tricks one always expects in the period between the election and the legislative session.

Off the Kuff covered a shoddy attempt by new Harris County Tax Assessor Don Sumners to disallow voter registration efforts at naturalization ceremonies.

Letters From Texas projected out the grim possibilities for state representative Aaron Peña as he contemplates switching to the Republican Party.

Now is the time to ask Larry Summers to do something REALLY useful. You know, for the good of the country.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks Barack Obama is a putz and Bernie Sanders is a hero. UT professor Galbraith says it all.

Edmundo Rocha’s pays tribute to the passing of civil rights activist and former San Antonio Express-News columnist Carlos Guerra. An unsung hero who never gave up hope for a better Texas.

Aaron Pena’s impending party flip is tied directly to his 2012 Congressional ambitions. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs explains.

Bay Area Houston dog piles on State Representative Aaron Pena. He could get with this. Or he could get with that.

lightseeker at TexasKaos reports on Rick Perry’s latest foray into half-truths and self-serving opportunism. This time he is whipping up a big batch of whacked out claims about the cost of providing health care to uninsured Texans. Check out the details here: Rick Perry , Rabble Rouser .

Public Citizen Texas over at TexasVox wants to remind everyone to show up to testify at the Sunset Advsory Commission meeting Dec 15th on the Railroad Commission and TCEQ. Details are at their blog.

Neil at Texas Liberal ran a post with pictures he took last spring at the Houston Ship Channel. Neil’s view is that if the world around us is at times not ideal, there are still many things to consider, learn about, and maybe even embrace. This does not mean we should be resigned to a polluted landscape. Neil has been stressing of late in his blog the need for action by average people in the face of the newly empowered Republican party in Austin and Washington. We know from the TPA posts listed here this week that things are a mess. The question is what are we going to do in reply to this mess?

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Crashing Peña’s Party

I almost decided not to weigh in on the contemplated party switch of South Texas state representative Aaron Peña. For starters, I couldn’t think of a decent pun for the headline.

“Republicans fix flat by letting the Aaron”

“Peña sees the Aaron his ways”

“Apparently, choosing a political party is a Peña the ass”

Nah. None of those headlines make the cut. But I’ll share some thoughts anyway, because this is pretty interesting stuff.

If Aaron Peña switched parties, it certainly wouldn’t be under the same political calculation as Chuck Hopson in East Texas.

Hopson, a Democratic East Texas House member who became a Republican last year, switched parties out of political necessity, and he turned out to be exactly right on that measure. His district had gone Republican around him, and his margins of victory were getting slimmer. After looking at the election results this time, there’s no doubt that if Hopson had remained a Democrat, he’d be a former House member by next month – there’s no way he would have won.

The math for Peña is different, both in his district and his county, which is heavily Hispanic. Those believing the hype that Hispanics are quickly trending Republican are reading exit polling instead of actual election results. Believing polls which depend on voters to accurately tell you what they did, versus believing election result analysis in which one can prove what they actually did, is dicey business. The fact is, while you can argue that Hispanics turn out in relatively low percentages in general elections, you cannot argue that they will soon be voting Republican in large percentages – they’re not. Peña represents a Democratic district, in a Democratic county, in a Democratic region. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t continue to win elections as a Democrat for as long as he wanted to serve.

I could make a pretty good case that one could draw Mr. Peña a Republican-leaning house district, even in that region – there is much more political diversity in Hidalgo County than many in Austin are aware. But drawing that district would make it extremely likely that Pena would face a stiff Republican primary challenge – one in which his ethnicity might be a liability instead of an asset, and in which his moderate voting record could be represented to primary voters as RINO-esque. He could lose in the primary, which is exactly what happened to Congressman Greg Laughlin in the coastal bend, in the first Republican primary after Laughlin switched parties.

And if Republicans are telling Peña that they’ll draw his district first, full of happy smiling Republicans for him to win with, they’re probably blowing smoke – there are already too many Republican incumbents in the House who will be scrambling to find every available Republican household to draw into too-many-districts. What Republican Redistricting Fairy is going to inform those other Republican incumbents that they won’t have a district to run in, because Aaron Peña, who has been a Republican for about ten minutes and has paid no dues, needs a district? This Republican Redistricting Fairy will undoubtedly patiently explain to other Republican incumbents that the Republicans in Peña’s district would have otherwise been stranded Republican households, trapped inside Democratic districts. The other Republicans, after being shown Lloyd Doggett’s hyper-gerrymandered fajita district of 2003, will know it’s not true, and will begin to suspect that the Redistricting Fairy just doesn’t know how to draw maps very well. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of that House Republican Caucus meeting.

So I have to conclude that if Peña is considering a switch, it is probably for ideological reasons – the same reason all party-switchers claim, but is hardly ever the truth. A conservative Democrat representing the border region, he may have a growing unease with what he perceives as an increasingly liberal Democratic establishment, and/or one which is tone deaf to the concerns of the border or Hispanic Texans.

We’ve all been there, buddy. It was probably between your 18th and 23rd birthdays. You were with that girlfriend you were getting tired of – the one who seemed like a great deal six months ago, but who eventually became annoying, shrill, and argumentative. Let’s face it: she was a bit of a nag. In fact, the only reason you got with her in the first place is because it’s what everybody expected you to do.

Remember the night you walked into that party with her (she’d probably been picking on you in the car ride), and there, standing on the other end of the room, was that brand new shiny hot exciting girl? The one who made you think “holy crap, I’d rather be with her!”

I bet she even gave you that “come on, baby – I’ll do things to you that she won’t do” look.

Problem is, once you move in with the new one, you discover that she’s absolutely insane – plus she’s a nag too, she just nags you about different stuff. Hanging out with the new one made you realize that the first one was…well, sane for starters. And all-around, not so bad. Maybe there was something to work with. But it’s too late – she moved on.

Bad analogy? You SO knew what you were getting into when you clicked into this site.

I’ve always been personally fond of Aaron Peña, and if he becomes a Republican I’ll be just as fond of him. The Republican Party, Democratic Party, Aaron Peña, Peña’s constituents, and the Texas House of Representatives – they’ll all be just fine no matter what decision he makes, or at least as fine as they were before this came up. But he certainly has some thinking to do.

But Aaron, take my word for it: the new girl may be hot, but she’s got some serious issues.

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