The Delusional Governor of our State of Texas

This may become a regular feature for me. I can't seem to get away from this. Apologizing to the rest of the world (or at least the nation) for the paucity of intellect displayed by our sitting Governor; the longest sitting governor for the State of Texas (I'd be ashamed, but I've never cast a vote for the man. The rest of you, though...) Sometimes I wonder if this man ties his own shoes in the morning, or if he has to have someone else do it.

Case in point. I'm watching Hardball last night (as I do virtually every night) and I nearly fall out of my chair as the Governor tells a New Hampshire child on national television (!?) that we teach creationism alongside evolution in Texas.


(courtesy of TFN and NPR)

Now, I know that this has been his goal for about the last decade or so, it's why he's appointed a series of young-earth creationists to chair the SBOE; but apparently he hasn't kept track of what his appointed cronies have been forced to accept recently. The entirety of intelligent design (aka, creationism) has been rejected by the SBOE in a unanimous vote. There will be no creationism taught in Texas schools. There cannot be, no matter how many times he appoints creationists to the SBOE, as it is a violation of the separation between church and state.

The Governor's campaign for the White House is a train wreck, and an embarrassment to thinking Texans (and yes, we do exist) everywhere. The national political pundits are probably drooling at the chance to have a real circus to report on; it's good for ratings.

[I can only imagine what the behind the cameras dialog was like when McCain ran against Obama or Dole ran against Clinton; "Where's the drama? I'm supposed to attract viewers with this?"
]

The kind of divisive political piety that he displays (and is detailed here for those who haven't been paying attention) Will play well in certain areas of the nation, but be alienating to the majority of voters. He'll do great in the Midwest (and a good portion of the old South) he will not favor well anywhere in the Southwest outside of Texas, and won't play at all in the North.

The outcome that the administration is hoping for is facing off against a Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann. That campaign they'll be able to phone in since neither one of them is even acquainted with "Mainstream America", and will be easy to trip up on the most basic of scientific inquiries (young earth creationists generally are) not to mention their willingness to gut all social programs, especially health care programs, in the name of fiscal responsibility. It will be the simplest of matters to rally the middle in lukewarm support of an Obama second term in the face of that kind of challenge.

The only thing Obama is terrified of is the jobs numbers not getting better; perversely, it's the only thing the opposition has to hope for, since they can't seem to find a candidate that will satisfy the crazies (Like Chris Christy points out in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=y83z552NJaw) and be marketable to the rest of us.



Jon Huntsman knows where the center is;

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, another contender for the GOP presidential nomination, took to Twitter almost instantly, seeming to mock Perry for the creationism comment, as well as for his recent statements on climate change: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."

(courtesy Texas Tribune)
Doubt seriously that the Republicans will give him the time of day, though.

AISD superintendent should "Form a Line"

The Superintendent of AISD issued a vaguely worded threat today;

At a speech Tuesday morning Austin schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said that she would not propose job cuts, declare a financial emergency or call an election to raise property taxes in the coming year as long as the school board and employees continue to ‘hold the line” on some of the tough decisions made this year.

The All Staff Convocation, streamed live to schools across the district from the Preas Theater at Austin High School, was the third such speech in Carstarphen’s three-year tenure - and the second virtual one. Teachers reported to their campuses this week. The first day of school is Monday.

"Hold the line" means sticking to the school closings and teacher layoffs that were proposed last year. A plan that is mapped out here;

An AISD task force of district staffers, parents and community members has identified nine schools that could be closed or revamped to help the district run more efficiently: Barton Hills, Brooke, Joslin, Oak Springs, Ortega, Pease, Sanchez and Zilker elementary schools and Pearce Middle School.

On January 25, Becker, Blackshear, Dawson and Govalle elementary schools were added to the list for consideration.

Under the proposals, the first schools could close in 2012-13.

I find it quite telling that all of the schools (but one, and that one in downtown) are in South and East Austin. As usual, Terrytown gets what it wants, and the rest of us must suffer for them.

But we're in a budget crisis, we have to cut somewhere!? Budget crisis? Here's my opinion on the subject.

Fire every non-teaching employee above principle. If you want to work for the school district and not teach, we'll accept your charitable donation of time, just like the board members (this goes double for the Superintendent and her assistants) If you want to keep your job at the school district and get paid, you better find a class that you can teach. We should only be paying people to staff the schools themselves, and sell those multi-million dollar facilities that the district occupies downtown. Should more than make up the shortfall. Want to tighten belts? Tighten your own first, or face a vengeful public.

Nothing worse than a bunch of hogs, lording it over the rest of the farm animals, telling the rest of us how we need to make sacrifices. You first.

Pick a President on the Internet?

Went looking for sites that took advantage of the internet in the candidate selection process recently. I knew about http://www.selectsmart.com/president/
Politicians have already indicated their 2012 presidential aspirations. This matching quiz includes President Obama, top members of his administration, Obama's most vocal critics (Boehner, Cantor, etc.) and likely White House prospects (Palin, Pawlenty, Jindal, etc.). You may select a position for every issue, or just select issues important to you. The political figures' positions are based upon their voting records, special interest group ratings and their statements in the public record. In cases where there is no known public record or statement, these politicos are not given a score on that issue. We add candidates, revise their views and include new issues as they become known or change. Check back often for updates.
...from previous elections. However, I was pointed to http://www.opencongress.org/ (hardcore debate site, I'm told) and VoteEasy (from Project: Vote Smart) as other resources that do the something similar.

The problem is, who to trust? The fractious nature of the American populace is the stumbling block. It's not just that they have different sources, it's that those sources use different facts. They think they're entitled to different facts. Reality just doesn't work that way.

To me, this is just another example of why we need an election process that is more open, and publicly funded. I don't want to have to pick over Iowa's leavings when it comes to opponents for the status quo. What they select will most likely not be electable, an we'll end up with Romney against Obama as a compromise candidate; the status quo vs. the status quo. That's not a race, that's yet another yawnfest. Maybe something like this...

http://www.americanselect.org


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Elliot Ackerman
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Something more "content neutral". Rather than having to sell yourself to your nutjob left or right base (about 2/10's of the population, combined) you can appeal to the middle directly. An interesting approach to the problem, to say the least, if not exactly original (saw something similar started last election that never got any traction) let's see if it goes anywhere.

Maybe we should use this guy's theories (also on Colbert. It's been a good week for election theory there lately) to pick the candidate we need;
A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nassir Ghaemi
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


Probably the most interesting interview I've seen in awhile (Much as I like The Cars' revival album) on Colbert.

Heading off Potential Embarrassment for Texas. Again.

I'd like to disavow any association between me and Gov. Perry in advance of his declaration to run for the office of President of the United States. Word has surfaced that he's planning to announce his intention to run for the office this Saturday at an appearance in North Carolina.

I just want to make this clear, not only do we not share political views, I don't acknowledge that he comes from the same state that I do.

The State of Texas that I come from doesn't aspire to discriminate against gays, doesn't want to interfere in the health choices of it citizens, and doesn't care which religion (or lack of religion) its citizens ascribe to.

The secular State of Texas. I'm not sure if he's ever heard of it even though he's been elected to run it more often than any previous governor.

If you aren't from 'round here, and plan on writing about the governor, I recommend that you read this article in Texas Monthly (in fact, you probably should subscribe. It is the National Magazine of Texas, after all) those of us who have had the misfortune of being unfairly characterized by the press covering Texas leaders in the past will thank you for it, and it will save you from thinking he's just another version of George W. Bush. He's much worse than that.

Obamacare = Romneycare = Failure

Got an email today from one of my preferred activist efforts, concerning the effects of Obamacare, and the waivers being issued until they are phased out. DownsizeDC: "Americans Beg for Mercy in front of Unelected Bureaucrats" They reference an article at the Boston Globe, written by John Sununu (who clearly needs to take a class in creative writing. Talk about cludgy wordsmithing) that runs something like this;
Companies now face a September deadline to apply for protection. After that, they’re out of luck. According to the administration, without the special treatment, health care premiums for 3 million workers would have gone up by 10 percent or more. A note to social engineers of all parties: If you have to protect 3 million people from a brand-new law, it probably wasn’t very well written in the first place.

That this was an unintended consequence is clear from the fact that the law never contemplated a need for waivers in the first place. In a stroke of bureaucratic magic, HHS simply granted itself the power, and started dispensing the passes. Only when independent groups started pressing for transparency did things begin to shut down.

The broader lesson here is that the constant need for special waivers is symptomatic of poorly written public policy. It’s a signal that the cost of compliance is unreasonably high; the benefits are hard to measure; and either legislators or regulators have failed to do their homework.
If you want to go to DownsizeDC and send a message to Congress, by all means do so. Save all of us some money, get them to change the laws now, before we spend the next 10 years litigating a system that might work. Still...

I find this breathless hysteria about Obamacare to be a bit of a yawn. Is it bad law? Probably. It's yet another over-long bill that doesn't do what it claims to do, and wasn't written or read by the legislators who passed it, or the executive who signed it (and who's name is used to identify it) but the problem with the hysteria over Obamacare is that it is fundamentally the same as Romneycare (or a few other state level insurance systems) and the people who want us to be breathlessly terrified don't seem to have a real problem with those other programs; in all likelihood because they were created by people from their party, the Republican Party.

When it comes to stories about the problems with the Health care system in the US, I found this article to be more enlightening;
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL candidate Tim Pawlenty was right. While he backed away from the nice term he coined — ObamneyCare — the health reforms enacted by then-governor Mitt Romney in 2006 and President Obama in 2010 have much in common, although both would deny it.

Their main strength is that more people get insured. In Massachusetts, the percentage is up to 98 percent, the highest in the nation. Obama projects that about 95 percent of people will be insured nationally in a decade. But both Romney and Obama punted on crucial issues of cost and deeper systemic reform.
and
Yet there is a real debate to be had on health insurance, though not between Romney and Obama. On one side, Republican conservatives want to turn government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid into vouchers. Citizens would get a flat sum. If the cost of decent coverage exceeded the voucher, well, good luck. This approach would certainly reduce government costs. It would also reduce care.

On the other side, Democratic liberals point to nations with national health insurance, where the efficiencies are such that everyone is covered for about 10 percent of GDP compared to over 15 percent (and rising) here. Sooner or later, as costs keep exploding, the real choice for America will come down to vouchers versus true universal health insurance. It’s too bad that this debate will be largely offstage next year.

From RomneyCare vs. ObamaCare
In a nutshell, none of the systems work as intended (related this information to you ages ago) and we're going to have to re-constitute them into something completely different if we want them to work.

The real shame here is, we already wasted a year not-arguing over Obamacare (because we didn't know what was in it until after it was passed) which was essentially adapted from systems that aren't working in several states, and we'll spend an additional several years not-arguing over systems that might work that could replace the systems that are bleeding this country dry. Let's hope that someone with sense just does what needs to be done at some point, and let's the rest of us know where we can get access to it.

Personally, I'm tired of the obstructionist political maneuvering, and would relish some real debate over what is really needed to establish universal access to preventative care; as well as some realistically priced health insurance that really did provide insurance for my health, and didn't just pay my doctor bills each month.