Archive | February, 2011

This just in…

Arizona Republican Senate leader, a true patriot, avoids arrest after courageously scuffling with girlfriend, whom he obviously suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

No word yet on whether he forced her to watch a sonogram before assaulting her. Because, you know, he’s pro-life and all.

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I wonder if FoxNews…

…is covering this important breaking news story?

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Meanwhile, in United Kingdom politics…

This guy forgot he’s running the country. Oopsie.

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Q. How big a problem is it when a guy advocates deadly force on Wisconsin protesters?

A. a big problem, considering that the guy advocating for deadly force is a Deputy Attorney General in Indiana.

Update: Bozo got fired. That didn’t take long.

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TPA weekly blog round-up

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin as they bring you this week’s blog roundup.

Off the Kuff examines the Perry/Combs slap fight over Amazon’s decision to leave Texas rather than pay taxes.

Letters From Texas reports on a note a pregnant woman sent to Texas state Senator Leticia Van de Putte, as the Senate prepared to pass the sonogram bill, and as the woman prepared to leave for the hospital to deliver her baby. Surprise #1: the woman is against the bill. Surprise #2: so is her father. Surprise #3: her father is another Texas state Senator.

This week the Legislative Study Group released an updated version of the “Texas on the Brink”, Eye On Williamson had this to say about how for Texas to get off the brink, we must fight for the impossible.

A gaggle of Houston bloggateers met with Metro’s CEO and board members and discussed the many changes the transit authority has completed in the past year. PDiddie from Brains and Eggs was there and filed a report.

Libby Shaw explains what the Texas GOP means by shrinking government over at TexasKaos. Give a read to Texas GOP “To Shrink Government to fit inside a Woman’s Uterus”.

Neil at Texas Liberal looked at some early campaign advertising by incumbent Houston Mayor Annise Parker and considered if Mayor Parker’s record matched her claims.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why republicans dislike women so much.

This week at McBlogger, your punishment is your reward!

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Breaking the Quorum For Fun and Profit

Dear Wisconsin Legislators:

We Texans know a little something about quorum breaks. Because there’s no problem so big that it can’t be run from.

In 1979, a group of 12 Texas Senators, dubbed the “Killer Bees,” broke quorum over an elections bill and hid out several blocks from the capitol in a garage apartment. After a few days, then-Lt. Governor Bill Hobby, who was presiding over the Texas Senate, backed down from the legislation in question, and the bees returned to the hive. NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” took notice however, and the classic “killer bees” skit featuring John Belushi was born.

In 2003, Texas legislators staged two quorum breaks to stop Tom DeLay’s mid-decade Congressional redistricting plan. During the regular session, more than 50 House Democrats, the “Killer D’s” slipped across the Oklahoma border into the Ardmore, Oklahoma Holiday Inn for 5 days. Oklahoma was the destination because it was out of reach of Texas authorities trying to apprehend them, and 5 days was the duration because that’s how long it would take to move beyond a legislative deadline for the bill to move forward. The Democrats’ efforts were successful, and the redistricting plan was killed for the regular legislative session. This marks a unique point in American history in which the State of Oklahoma actually had a valid reason to exist.

After Texas Governor Rick Perry called a 30-day special session to revive the redistricting plan, 11 Senate Democrats were able to kill the legislation for that session by blocking it under the “two-thirds rule.” meaning that it takes two-thirds of the Senate to bring up a bill. Since there are 31 Senators, 11 Senate Democrats voting against bringing up the bill kept it bottled up.

But at the end of that first special session, it became common knowledge that the Governor would call a second 30 day special session, during which there would be no two-thirds rule protection, and 11 of the 12 Senate Democrats, the “Texas 11,” secretly left the Capitol, went to the airport, and boarded two airplanes which were standing by to carry them to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for what was ultimately a 46-day quorum break.

I was on the plane with them to Albuquerque, and stayed with them the entire time staffing the effort.

It was, unfortunately, not the longest quorum break in American history – but that’s only because a few hundred years ago, the rural farmers who constituted a state legislature in one of the original 13 colonies broke the quorum, returned to their farms, and just never came back, ever. That nobody ever looked for them or tried to get them back means the quorum breaking curve for all other state legislators for all time will be completely screwed up, so DAMN YOU FARMERS!

But having been at the center of the second place effort, I do have a few tips for Wisconsin legislators:

1. If you’re not already together in the same place, you better quickly get together in the same place. A quorum break is a big commitment, in every way – psychologically, legislatively, financially, and tactically. Legislators need to look at each other in the eye on a continuing basis to measure the commitment of the others breaking the quorum, and so you can express your own.

2. If you’re not already all out of state, you’re kidding yourselves and you’ll probably fail: get out of state. As long as you remain in your home state, law enforcement officials can apprehend you and carry you against your will back to the state Capitol. They will eventually succeed. Yes, I know that you only told your spouse, your best friend, and your chief of staff where you were hiding. And I know you swore them to secrecy. And they only told 126 people, and swore them to secrecy. If you’re still in Wisconsin, I’m guessing you have about 12 more minutes to GTF out.

3. However much you think this will cost, multiply that times 10. You’re the mouse, they’re the cat. Being the mouse is more expensive. Also, being the away-team is more expensive. Good luck with that – it’s a strain under the best of circumstances. Figure out your state’s campaign finance laws to see what help you can get, then get it.

4. It is easier for your opposition to communicate their message than it is for your side. And the longer the quorum break lasts, the more that will be true. By definition, when you broke the quorum, you ceded home-team advantage to the other team. You didn’t just leave your state capitol – you also left your state’s capitol press corps behind. Your opposition can and will simply walk down the hall to chat it up to your favorite reporters in order to share their point of view. Do whatever you need to do in order to lure a critical mass of reporters to your location as well, then feed the beast. The traveling press corps will need a story every day to justify the expense to their editors of being there. In 2003, it got ridiculous – what new thing could we possibly share with reporters on day 34, that hadn’t already been shared on days 1-33? Think out-of-the-box if you have to – we even resorted to shirt ironing contests between Senators. But one way or another, find a way to hold reporters hostage or they’ll leave town, and you’ll be unable to communicate with your supporters and constituents.

5.  It’s not all policy-based – some of it is personal. Legislators are human beings, with all the trials and tribulations all folks go through. Be sensitive to that, or you’ll lose ‘em. In the case of the Texas 11, one had recently had a heart attack, and another had a baby he had never seen, and couldn’t as long as he remained in exile. A third was very concerned about his aging mother’s health. Others in the group need to be sensitive to these realities. At the least, you should demonstrate that you care. At the most, find ways to ease the stresses associated with those challenges.

6. Every individual in a quorum break has a skill, and every individual needs a role. Put each person in charge of something – they’ll feel more like they’re a crucial member of the team. Leave no one as a mere spectator to the show.

7. Even if it doesn’t ultimately become true, each of those breaking a quorum will believe that somebody’s going to be defeated in their next election because of this situation. When they’re breaking the quorum, they won’t know whether its your team, or the other team, but it’ll be somebody. Acknowledge the fear, because it contributes to the ultimate commitment. Nobody knows the true political cost or benefit to a quorum break as they’re sneaking away from their capitol building – but they know either is potentially high. That makes the least among you very principled, and very important. Acknowledge the commitment on a regular basis, and let them know that it is deeply appreciated.

8. And if all else fails, take Texas state Senator Leticia Van de Putte’s advice. She led the 2003 quorum break to Albuquerque. And she’s in favor of conjugal visits by legislators’ spouses. If some of the legislators in question don’t have a spouse? Improvise. IfyaknowwhatImean.

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If only Watson had known this was coming it could have saved him some time

State Senator Kirk Watson recently filed a sexting bill, which is a noble attempt to curb what underage teens have been doing, and fix quirks in the law which have prevented appropriate measures from being taken when it happens. It’s a good bill.

Except now, Fox News has come out in favor of sexting, which of course means that sexting is now so utterly uncool that no self-respecting teen will want to do it anymore.

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Mom weighs in against sonogram bill, just before going to the hospital to give birth

There is such an incredible disconnect between what Governor Rick Perry and the other Republicans in charge declare to be “emergencies,” and what an average Texan living his or her life deems one. This week’s episode: Dan Patrick’s sonogram bill passed the Senate today.
Senator Mario Gallegos opposes the bill. And while he’d planned on being in Houston today to be with his daughter Melissa following the birth of her daughter – his granddaughter – he’s instead in Austin to vote against the bill.
Knowing this was weighing heavily on Senator Gallegos’ mind, before leaving for the hospital to give birth, his daughter Melissa wrote Senator Leticia Van de Putte an email. Van de Putte is Gallegos’ Democratic Caucus Chair.
Melissa agrees with her father’s position on the bill, and it’s clear that she wrote the email to let her dad know that she supports him being in Austin to fight it, instead of being at home with his family today.
She isn’t a politico, like her father. She’s a mom.  When she wrote her email yesterday, she was a pregnant mom. She’s a regular Texan, living a regular life with ups and downs, and wanted to weigh in on this, since she’s among those who is actually affected, as opposed to the author of the bill and most of the bill’s supporters in the Texas Senate, who are men.
Nobody on the floor of the Texas Senate is pregnant. Maybe Melissa Gallegos thought it would be good for them to hear from somebody who is. 
Here’s her letter, which Senator Van de Putte read in the Senate during the final debate:
Dear Senator Van de Putte,

I am writing to you because I know my father might find it difficult to read this to his colleagues.

I am preparing to give birth to his 6th Grandchild and I know he wants to be here to see his grandaughter after she is born. But I would rather my father stay in Austin to vote against the Sonogram bill in its current form.

My father and I don’t always agree on issues and we have had a few heated debates on certain bills. And even though my sister currently supports Senator Patricks’ Bill in its current form, my father and I agree that this bill in its current form is not fair at all to women and their rights. 

As a pregnant woman, I believe this bill is a tool to shame women into a different choice when facing an already-traumatic decision. No matter the circumstances that bring a woman to having to decide to keep a child or not, they should not be forced in any way to hear or see a sonogram. About to give birth to my daughter, I can appreciate the value of a sonogram and the special bond it can bring to a mother and child. But I can also appreciate the fear that a sonogram brings. 

I have been in a situation where I was happy to be pregnant and went for a sonogram only to find that at four months pregnant, my unborn fetus had no heartbeat! Imagine the devastation that I felt, wanting a child and the doctor tells me that this pregnancy would not end that way. My entire world changed in 2 minutes, all because of a sonogram. Now imagine that every sonogram after that would set a whole new fear in my life and even though I have 3 beautiful children and about to give birth to my 4th, every sonogram I see holds a bit of terror for me. 

I have a wonderful supporting family that somehow always finds a way to be with me when I have a sonogram and my mom still holds my hand when the screen turns on. But imagine the thousands of women that don’t have support systems or moms to hold their hand when the screen turns on. An unnecessary fear that this bill would bring about to thousands of women should only be an option.

I know my father cares about you and the other senate ladies he serves with, such as Senator Judy Zaffirini, Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Jane Nelson, Senator Florence Shapiro, and Senator Joan Huffman. He would not want any uneccessary fear forced upon you or your loved ones. I must leave now to the hospital, I will have one last sonogram before surgery, wish me luck and don’t worry I have someone to hold my hand and I know my father will be praying for me and his granddaughter.

Cristina will be born today and will wait for Papa to come visit her after he votes against this bill. Thank you for being a wonderful mother and Senator.

Sincerely,
Melissa Gallegos
Daughter, and Mother of 4 now!
Rick Perry and the other Republicans in charge should get out more often and talk to the Melissa Gallegoses of this state. They might learn something.
And by the way, little Cristina was born in Houston yesterday, and both mother and daughter are doing just fine – without Rick Perry and Dan Patrick’s help. Her grandfather, Mario Gallegos, was on the floor of the Senate, voting against the bill.
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Dear Senator Van De Putte,

I am writing to you,cause I know my father might find it difficult to read this to his colleagues.I am preparing to give birth to his 6th Grandchild and I know he wants to be here to see his grandaughter after she is born. But i would rather my father stay in Austin to vote against the Sonogram bill in its current form.My father and I don’t always agree on issues and we have had a few heated debates on certain bills. And even though my sister currently supports Senator Patricks’  Bill in its current form, my father and I agree that this bill in its current form is not fair at all to women and their rights’. As a pregnant woman, I believe this bill is a tool to shame women into a different choice when facing an already traumatic decision.No matter the circumstances that bring a woman to having to decide to keep a child or not,they should not be forced in any way to hear or see a sonogram. About to give birth to my daughter, I can appreciate the value of a sonogram and the special bond it can bring to a mother and child. But I can also appreciate the fear that a sonogram brings. I have been in a situation where I was happy to be pregnant and went for a sonogram only to find that at four months pregnant,my unborn fetus had no heartbeat! Imagine the devastation that I felt,wanting a child and the doctor tells me that this pregnancy would not end that way. My entire world changed in 2 minutes,all because of a sonogram.Now imagine that every sonogram after that would set a whole new fear in my life and even though I have 3 beautiful children and about to give birth to my 4th, every sonogram I see holds a bit of terror for me. I have a wonderful supporting family that somehow always find a way to be with me when i have a sonogram and my mom still holds my hand when the screen turns on.But imagine the thousands of women that don’t have support systems or moms to hold their hand when the screen turns on.An unecessary fear that this bill would bring about to thousands of women should only be an option.I know my father cares about you and the other senate ladies he serves with such as Senator Judy Zefferini,Senator Wendy Davis,Senator Jane Nelson,Senator Florence Shapiro,and Senator Joan Huffman. He would not want any uneccessary fear forced upon you or your loved ones.I must leave now to the hospital, I will have one last sonogram before surgery,wish me luck and don’t worry I have someone to hold my hand and I know my father will be praying for me and his grandaughter.Cristina will be born today and will wait for Papa to come visit her after he votes against this bill. Thank you for being a wonderful mother and Senator. 
Sincerely,
Melissa Gallegos
Daughter, and Mother of 4 now!

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Texas loses ground again

In our latest installment of “Texas is losing ground,” we lose out to South Dakota, in the category of “Our Craziest Crazy Is Crazier Than Your Craziest Crazy.”

UPDATE: Texans aren’t taking this lying down. They’re fighting back against South Dakota.

Also, if you really want to know how Texas fares (spoiler alert: not well), check out the new edition of Texas on the Brink, brought to you by the fine folks at the Legislative Study Group.

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Texas is losing ground again

In this installment of “Texas is losing ground again,” we lose out to South Dakota, in the category of “

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Congressman Chris Lee’s Craigslist woman speaks

Remember Republican Congressman Chris Lee, who resigned about 12 seconds after his scandal started? The married Congressman had been trolling for women on Craigslist, and a woman who realized who he was, and that he was a liar, sent photos he emailed her to Gawker.com.

Turns out the woman has a blog, and after her anonymity was lost, has now written about the incident herself. Interesting stuff. (contains some language NSFW, unless you work somewhere cool)

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TPA weekly blog round-up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is slowly thawing out as it brings you this week’s blog roundup.

This week on Left of College Station, Congressman Bill Flores gives talking point answers to softball questions. Also, a look at the Republican attack on birthright citizenship both nationally and in Texas, and how Republicans are undermining Texasí economic future by cutting education funding today. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

Off the Kuff reads an op-ed about how the budget should be balanced and detects a shift in where the center of the debate is.

TXsharon says, “So what,” to another attempt by the Big Gas Mafia to avoid regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

Eye On Williamson points out that it’s not what Gov. Rick Perry said in his “State of the State” address, but what he didn’t say, Un-meaningful measures.

Lightseeker reports on the coming coverup of the multi-billion dollar shortfall in educational spending in The once and future lie: Schools are in financial trouble because they have too many paper pushers. Check it out out over at TexasKaos.

This week, McBlogger takes a look at some bipartisan craziness that’s sure to clog up our courts forever.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants every parent to know Republicans hate teachers and public education.

Rick Perry spent time in California and Washington DC over the past week, returning to Texas briefly to give his “state of the state” address. Which revealed that he lives in a state of delusion. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs points out that the emperor is unclothed.

Bay Area Houston says Trusting Rick Perry with fiscal responsibility is like trusting a convicted child molester with the keys to a daycare.

Letters From Texas observes Republican priorities around the country and in Texas, and concludes that Republicans are at war with women.

Neil at Texas Liberal notes that having planned all the harm they can on health and education, Texas Republicans are now going after history and the arts. Neil also posted on comments made by Texas State Senator John Whitmire. Senator Whitmire made the astute point that average citizens themselves are going to have to organize and fight back if they want to stop the worst of what Republicans have planned for Texas.

TexasVox notes that TransCanada has already started condemning land in Montana for the Keystone XL pipeline to bring the world’s dirtiest oil to Texas refineries: is Texas next?

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A cute little Valentine’s Day info-graphic

This romantic Valentine’s Day update brought to you by Someecards.com.

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Texas falls behind in yet another measure

This time, it’s Belgium which is leading the way, on ways to force politicians to agree.

We may well have to resort to this to pass a state budget.

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