Tuesday, June 04, 2013

True or false

Your first news item.

Texas legislator drops marijuana cigarette while speaking on floor

Texas House

While speaking during the Texas legislative session, representative Tom Alvin (R) Altruria, dropped something unexpected on the House floor. Upon picking up the item, cameras caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette.

He quickly put it back in his pocket as legislators looked on and then continued to speak. Several DPS officers were on hand but did not seem concerned about Rep. Alvin’s possession of an illegal substance.

Ironically, the bill being discussed pertained to decreasing penalties for the possession of small amounts of cannabis. If passed, the bill would change state law and no longer jail those with small amounts and would instead only require a fine.

Rep. Alvin spoke in opposition to the bill stating “marijuana is a deadly and dangerous drug. It ruins people’s lives and is so addictive that people can become hooked on it just by touching it. We have to keep in mind that allowing any steps towards its legalization will ensure that children have access to this drug. Only by keeping it illegal and imposing tough sentences can we continue to ensure that this plant is no longer consumed by people who should not have it.”

Your second news item.

Teenage Pregnancy In Decline, But Texas Still #1 For 'Repeat' Teen Births

Jajuana Thomas, 19, and her toddler son Nathan outside their apartment in Greenspoint. Thomas is five months pregnant with another child.
It's hard enough having one teen pregnancy, but what happens when you have two or more?
Public health researchers say teen birth rates are at a record low in the United States, falling 44 percent since the peak in 1991. But the problem remains, with more than a thousand teenagers giving birth every day.

Now, for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has examined a troubling sub-group: teens who give birth to a second, third or even fourth child. These are called “repeat teen births.” Of all 50 states, Texas ranks #1 for this phenomenon. (CDC Factsheet.)

Jajuana Thomas, 19, is five months pregnant with her second son.

“I wasn’t expecting to have a second child but now that I am I’m happy about it,” she said during an interview at her apartment in the Greenspoint neighborhood of Houston. “I wanted a girl, but I’m having another boy. So it’s okay.”

Here's a better question than true/false: Which news item is true but ought to be false, and which is false but likely to be true as well?

Monday, June 03, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle

The thoughts and prayers of the Texas Progressive Alliance are with the families and friends of the Houston Fire Department as we bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses why the special session won't wrap up as quickly as first thought.

We said goodbye to Michele Bachmann and Susan Combs on the same day last week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs tried hard to hold back the tears (of laughter), but ultimately submitted to the overwhelming schadenfreude in anticipation of a few Texans who might next wear the crown.

Dos Centavos provides a response to HB 5 by a statewide coalition of Latino groups who have much to say about the education assessment bill.

Texas' plan to finance roads is privatized gains and socialized losses. WCNews at Eye on Williamson writes about the poor revenue performance of corporate toll roads in Texas: But you can drive 85 mph on it.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Colin Strother joins the blogging world with a comparison of Battleground Texas today to the Assorted Republicans of Texas 30 years ago.

Concerned Citizens offers its own take on how BGT is perceived by its boosters and detractors.

Texpatriate wonders what the heck is going on in Galveston.

Texas Vox asks how ExxonMobil will adapt to the climate change it is helping to create.

Texas Leftist gives his impression of Houston mayoral candidate Ben Hall.

Mean Green Cougar Red wants to know how safe our bridges are.

Lone Star Ma is upset about the politically-motivated death of CSCOPE.

Beyond Bones celebrates the sequencing of the coelecanth genome.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Another conservative bedrock principle crumbles (or maybe melts)

Under the hot weight of reality.

One major principle of Barack Obama's presidency that his foes love to hate — that government, when it works right, can be best-equipped to aid and protect Americans — is finding fresh currency among some Republicans.

Their doctrine that smaller government is better government is being tested by pressing needs in storm-battered states, security threats that play up the need for a robust defense apparatus and offers for federal funds that are tough to turn down.


...(U)nmet needs are forcing Republicans to concede more publicly than usual that minimalist government isn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution.

To be certain there are legitimate concerns about the overreach of the executive and judicial branches that are serious, troubling, and in dire need of being checked and balanced by the legislative branch. But whatever the incessant wailing about Obamacare, the IRS, bailouts, stimulus spending, etc. blahblahblah may have accomplished outside of the conservative bubble, the argument for austerity collapses with every tornado in Oklahoma, and every hurricane on the Gulf -- or Atlantic -- coast.

Obama walked side by side this week along the Jersey Shore with Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a fiscal conservative who has shown no patience for massive government spending — except when it comes to billions in federal aid for his state after Superstorm Sandy. In fact, it was Christie and other Northeast Republicans who criticized members of their own party for insisting that Federal Emergency Management Agency aid be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.


Two days earlier, in a tornado-razed community in Oklahoma, it was Mary Fallin, another Republican governor with a stated distaste for over-the-top government spending, who welcomed Obama and the aid his administration brought to her state. She praised FEMA and Obama, reprising a scene that's played out in other disaster areas when the federal government and its considerable resources have been in high demand.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, GOP Gov. Jan Brewer is going to the mat to force lawmakers in her conservative-leaning state to embrace a dramatic expansion of Medicaid made possible by an infusion of federal dollars under Obama's health care law.

Although she joined other Republican governors in suing the Obama administration over the constitutionality of the president's health care law, she's now told the Republican-controlled Legislature she'll veto every bill they send her until they approve the expansion. She nixed five bills last week — a move that led the state Senate president to accuse her of extortion.

Texas -- much by its own hand -- remains extremely vulnerable to an imminent vagary of the weather. That's obviously different than Rick Perry believing he is immune to electoral fallout from the response to an offer of federal Medicaid funds with a raspberry (and forcing his fellow travelers in the Lege to join him in the buzzing chorus of flapping lips). But when wildfires devastated Texas a couple of years ago, and more recently when the West fertilizer plant blew up, he crammed his snout right into the federal trough. Our governor proves to us again that he doesn't even have the stones of a Tom Coburn or a James Inhofe.

Forget about having as much compassion as Jan Brewer (!!!).

But the macro point is that it becomes increasingly difficult, even ridiculous, to defend the premise of austerity when all around the world there are not just indications but examples of how badly it is failing. It is of course failing the US also; the sequester demonstrates once more the rank hypocrisy of those in Congress who make exceptions for the elite even as regular people suffer.

The administration estimates that the elderly will get 4 million fewer Meals on Wheels this year. The Head Start program has been hurt, with critics saying 70,000 children will be excluded, and one center in Georgia recently shut down. HUD will hand out 125,000 fewer rental assistance vouchers, advocates say.

I don't expect elected Republicans to get it until the people voting for them start to wake up and realize they've been had. And I don't know how long that's going to take. But it's going to happen, incrementally at first and then there will be a sudden shift, like a glacier calving an iceberg. And then a few dozen more, until the entire ice shelf fractures and melts like the cubes in a highball glass.

And a whole bunch of folks will be left with a serious hangover.