Monday, June 06, 2011

The One Hundred Degree Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates all new high school and college graduates as it brings you this week's roundup.

Dr. PDiddie is now in session at Brains and Eggs, and state senator Steve Ogden is on the couch. (He ought to be in the public stocks.)

The Seliger-Solomons Congressional redistricting plan is finally out, and though it's been modified from its original form, Off the Kuff still thinks it's a joke.

Last week extremist GOP state Sen. Dan Patrick referred to public education as an entitlement. WCNews at Eye On Williamson points out it is actually part of the Texas Constitution: Education is a right in Texas, preserving the liberties of the people.

At TexasKaos, libby shaw tells us Show Horse Rick Perry fast-tracks Texas to third world squalor. The sad part is that she is NOT exaggerating!

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about the recent death of Houston police officer Kevin Will. Officer Will was killed when struck by a car that was driven by a man who was allegedly drinking and, also, not legally in the United States. Neil wrote that incidents like this one leave people with a choice to respond with hate, or with a resolve to move forward with solutions to immigration concerns.

McBlogger observes that Ambassador Jon Huntsman has apparently decided to remake Being There in real life.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The sociopathy of Steve Ogden

Teachers, parents and school administrators urged Texas lawmakers Thursday
to reject a school finance plan that would allow the state to cut
$4 billion from public schools over the next two years.

But one key senator cut off their pleas to tap into the state's $10 billion reserve fund, sending a clear message such an option won't be considered.

"It's not going to happen," said Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Ogden nearly didn't run for re-election in 2010, you may recall, but he thought he was the only person smart enough to solve the budget crisis he knew was coming. He sat in that hearing yesterday and said to those teachers and parents testifying: "It doesn't make any difference what you say. Nothing is going to change." In other words, fuck all y'all for wasting my time.

"You have a choice to use your savings but you are choosing not to," Sue Diegaard, who has two children in Houston public schools, told the House Appropriations Committee. "You cut $4 billion from public education, and you expect us to think it's a gift."

Carol Fletcher, a Pflugerville schools trustee, said her district, which has more than 50 percent of its students on reduced-cost lunch plans, is already one of the lowest-funded in Central Texas and more cuts will hurt.

Comparing her district to a car, "Right now, we're driving a '72 Ford Pinto, not a Cadillac," Fletcher said.

After hearing several witnesses urge lawmakers to use the reserve Ogden pointed his finger and told them to forget it.

"Hope is not a plan," Ogden said shortly before the bill passed the committee.


Ogden also said he doesn't believe what he called threats of "draconian" cuts to local schools.

"We're not cutting school budgets," Ogden said. "We're just not giving them as much money as they think they are entitled to."

Now that's a demonstration of sneering contempt that borders on -- no, actually goes ahead and crosses over to -- sociopathy. Anybody who knows Ogden is well aware of his opinion of everyone who hasn't reached a station in life similar to his own. And keep in mind that this is what passes for Republican moderation in Texas (Ogden was the only Republican senator opposing the carry-guns-on-campus bill). If he had not run again, there would likely be someone much, much worse in that seat.

Honestly, 'sociopath' is an understatement, since so many people are actually going to suffer and die as a consequence of his actions. The proper label for Ogden is 'psychopath'.

Psychopaths, on the other hand, often have charming personalities. They are manipulative and easily gain people’s trust. They have learned to mimic emotion and so appear “normal” to other people. Psychopaths are often educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they can have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.

And another brutal truth is that Steve Ogden is far from the only -- or even the worst -- psychopath in the Texas Legislature.

But what do I know? I'm just a shade-tree psychologist.

Update: The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sarah doesn't want to be queen, she wants to be kingmaker

Sarah Palin's bus tour took her to Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and a pizza dinner with Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, moves that may not have telegraphed serious presidential intentions but at least gave her another day of something immeasurable: attention.

Republican candidates who are intensely wooing early-state voters found themselves eclipsed for another day by the former Alaska governor, who repeated Tuesday that she was pondering whether to run. Unlike them, Palin found herself surrounded by reporters and voters, her bus tour bringing her back to the forefront of GOP politics regardless of her ultimate decision.

"Whether she runs or not, Palin needs to stay relevant in order to leverage her celebrity, influence and earning capacity," said Mark McKinnon, a Republican consultant who helped coach Palin when she was preparing for her vice presidential debate with Joe Biden in 2008. "She just proved that she still can generate crowds anytime she wants. Her machine just got oiled and taken out for a test drive."

Yes, she's playing the LSM like a Stradivarius:

There is nothing that the U.S. media wants more than something it thinks it can't have. Hence the power of news leaks that manipulate the thrust of their initial presentation. Hard-to-get is a rigid rule of human behavior. Ask any teenage boy or girl.

And there are few things more sweet to Palin and her fervent supporters cheering their TV sets this week than the image of a hungry know-it-all "lamestream media" caravan of 15 or more vehicles traipsing along behind her red-white-and-blue bus enroute to they-know-not-where to do they-know-not-what.

To make it worse, each one of the frustrated, confused chasers knows that Fox News' Greta Van Susteren is riding along with the not-yet-and-possibly-never Republican presidential candidate, filing exclusive conversations for her audience to gobble up that only enhance Palin's already million-dollar value to FNC.

Can you hear the teeth grinding?

The day's best line came from a CBS News producer who tried to claim that the lack of information from Palin's lumbering bus was endangering the dozen competing media vehicles trailing behind, uninvited.

As Michelle Malkin puts it so succinctly here, "The boys behind the bus."

Speaking of CBS, Katie Couric's unemployed now. And forget that front porch in Alaska. Sarah Palin can see revenge from her rear window.

This confirms what I have suspected all along: Sarah Palin isn't running for president. Loathe to quit a job that actually pays her a comfortable living, happily bereft of any actual work, Palin is quite busy assuming her position in conservative pop culture. She is transforming herself into a Tea Party version of a Kardashian; famous for essentially nothing and getting a lot of attention -- and making a lot of money -- doing it.

Besides, it's so much more powerful to be able to dictate terms to the eventual nominee. Sarah may be dumb, but she's not stupid.

The biggest excitement in recent days has surrounded Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee. Her bus tour, which stopped Tuesday at the Gettysburg battlefield, the Liberty Bell and New York City, is equal parts carnival, photo op and breezy history lesson.

Her meeting and dinner with real estate mogul and almost-candidate Donald Trump did nothing to tamp down the frenzy and frothiness.

Palin refuses to give reporters her schedule, and then gently upbraids them for their pell-mell efforts to locate, photograph and interview her. It's not clear that she will run for president, and some suspect her "One Nation" tour is designed mainly to support her lucrative book sales and TV appearances. If Palin does run for president, many Republican strategists feel she will do poorly, as her combative nature has driven down her approval ratings among GOP voters and others.

Yet by some counts, more than 100 journalists trooped alongside Palin in Philadelphia, an entourage that Pawlenty and others can only dream of. "It's quite chaotic anywhere we get off on the bus," Palin acknowledged.

Rich Nutinsky of Chadds Ford, Pa., returned to downtown Philadelphia on Tuesday after failing to find Palin there Monday. "I wished her luck and told her I supported her," Nutinsky said. "To me, she's a breath of fresh air."

Palin said she has not decided whether to run, even as she fueled speculation by saying her bus tour eventually will reach New Hampshire and Iowa.

Palin is effectively constructing a powerful brand. She will use its populist power to control who gets the Republican nomination for president, who gets picked for vice-president, and what their campaign's message should be. If there is ever going to be a Tea Party unbeholden to the Republican Party, it will only happen when Sarah decides to get a divorce from the GOP. That split could come in the 2012 presidential cycle.

But she can't really afford to have Karl Rove, Roger Ailes, call her bluff, and they are too afraid to do so anyway. Half-successful third-party movements are so 1992.

The odds are much more favorable that Palin will continue snapping her fingers and making the Republicans heel. The dogs are just too cowed by the Mama Grizzly to do anything else. And if her "Lamestream Media" keeps running along behind her like a pack of males after a bitch in heat ... well, all the better for her.