Sunday, October 29, 2006

Texas Republicans Still Running from Reality on Iraq

Sometime last spring or summer when Karl Rove and the Bush administration decided that staying the course was the best spin to put on Iraq, perhaps there was still some thought that the government propaganda about winning the war and building a democracy would be enough to cover the awful truth on the ground. It doesn't matter that our own military was telling us the present looked perilous and the future could get really ugly, really quickly. With journalists confined to the green zone, and the public beginning to tire of the whole mess, perhaps they thought they could pull it off.

But that was before the wheels came off and sectarian violence in Iraq once again became front page news. Alright, "stay the course" is no longer the Republican mantra, but other than semantics, nothing has changed. The administration still has no plans for a troop drawdown, no idea how to quell the sectarian violence, no definition for victory and no intention of admitting the truth. In the face of the recent meltdown, the Republican candidates' grim determination to keep uttering nonsense about "winning" is supposed to be viewed as being resolute. Actually, such obstinancy only serves to reinforce the reality that they cannot be trusted to manage the mess that they created or to level with the American public about our limited options. This is political posturing at its worst.

But listen to these Texas incumbents discuss the current situation in Iraq. In response to challenger Gary Page's plan to withdraw troops to a safe distance, where they can act as a deterrent force, Republican Kenny Marchant, representing Texas Congressional District 24, states:

"....such a plan would create "total chaos." "It would promote civil war and promote the insurgency," said Mr. Marchant, 55. "Our presence there is still needed and necessary for them to get new democracy."

And in District 26, incumbent Michael Burgess responded to the idea of withdrawal by saying any retreat would "embolden enemy fighters."

Well, you have to applaud Mr. Marchant for wanting to avoid "total chaos," but to Iraqis facing the daily barrage of kidnappings, bombings and beheadings that account for life as they currently know it, the choice of adjectives must seem irrelevant. As for democracy, the Iraqis had free elections and approved a constitution. At what point does that give them the right to demand an end to our occupation, which over two-thirds of its citizens currently support?

To the question of whether withdrawal would embolden enemy fighters, with 100 U.S. soldiers dead already this month, military engagements increasing on the Afghanistan border, and militias roaming unchallenged in the streets of Baghdad, isn't that already fait accompli? Iraq, formerly the cradle of civilization, now in the midst of an escalating civil war, is a breeding ground for terrorism that threatens the entire region. In the meantime, lives are lost and fortunes are made, and true solutions are still months away.

The irony is that if the Democrats win Congress and close the gap in the Senate next month, they will have to take a leading role in winding down this war. One can be certain that no matter what the outcome, and the options do not look good, forcing Democrats to make all the hard choices in Iraq will give Republicans the perfect cudgel going into the 2008 elections.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

40 Reasons to Vote a Straight Democratic Ticket

Do you need a reason to vote a straight Democratic ticket? How about 40? Here's a list of the numbers no Texans could be proud of (with a nod to Karl-Thomas Musselman of the Burnt Orange Report and the Office of the Texas Comptroller- yeah, that one.)

  1. 1st Toxic and cancerous manufacturing emissions
  2. 1st Consumption of electricity per capita
  3. 1st Number of civil rights complaints
  4. 1st Number of clean water permit violations
  5. 1st Number of executions
  6. 1st Number of registered machine guns
  7. 1st Number of home refinance loans that are sub-prime
  8. 2nd Birth rate
  9. 2nd Teen birth rate
  10. 2nd Percentage of population that goes hungry
  11. 2nd Sales tax dependency
  12. 3rd Percentage of population that is malnourished
  13. 5th Total crime rate
  14. 11th Violent crime rate
  15. 44th Percentage of eligible voters that are registered
  16. 45th Public health spending per capita
  17. 45th Rate for substance abuse treatment
  18. 45th Number of women receiving prenatal care
  19. 46th Average hourly pay rate
  20. 46th Mental health spending per capita
  21. 46th Per pupil public school state funding (2003 school year)
  22. 46th Open space protection
  23. 47th Percentage of eligible voters that go to the polls
  24. 47th Amount of welfare and food stamp benefits
  25. 48th Child protection and public safety spending
  26. 48th SAT scores
  27. 48th Number of poor covered by Medicaid
  28. 49th Number of WIC recipients
  29. 49th Water quality
  30. 49th Transportation dollars
  31. 49th Percentage of women voting in congressional/presidential elections
  32. 49th State spending per capita and tax revenue raised
  33. 49th Support of state parks
  34. 50th High school graduation rates
  35. 50th Goverment employee wages
  36. 50th State funding for arts
  37. 50th Percentage of population with health insurance
  38. 50th Percentage of insured low-income children
  39. 50th Homeowner insurance affordability
  40. 50th Residential electric bill affordability

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What's Stopping You? Get Out and Vote!

Don't let a little drizzle keep you inside today. Get to a polling place, do your civic duty and vote. (And take a friend if you can!)

Here's all you need to bone up on the candidates and issues and find the closest early polling location.

In Denton County:
League of Women Voter's Guide

In Collin County:
League of Women Voter's Guide

In Dallas County:
League of Women Voter's Guide

In Tarrant County:
League of Women Voter's Guide

To view the League of Women's Voter Guide to statewide races, click here.

For a list of early voting locations for Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties, click here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

ballot propositions in the golden triangle

Early voting began today in Texas and will continue through Nov. 3. North Texas voters are faced with several bond elections and propositions this year. If you plan to vote, make sure you are prepared to vote up or down on each referendum.

Denton County
Denton, Sanger, Aubrey, Krum, Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Corral City, Northlake

Dallas County
Dallas, Irving, Coppell, Lancaster, Glenn Heights, Cockrell Hill, Richardson, Sachse, Wilmer

Tarrant County
Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, Azle, Everman, Samson Park, Forest Hill, Burleson

If you are aware of another proposition on any ballot in North Texas that isn't listed here, please let us know in a comment! We'll be happy to add it. Inform yourself and vote!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

media endorsements: governor's race

It's that time again: major news outlets are offering up their endorsements in the Texas gubernatorial election. Some are not surprising... after all, The Dallas Morning News is infamous for its ultra-conservative editorial board. The Austin American-Statesman apparently has more of a moderate editorial board that wanted to endorse Chris Bell, but was overridden by a conservative publisher.

Many were surprised when The Houston Chronicle came out in favor of independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Another surprise came with national men's magazine Esquire taking a sudden interest in Texas politics and endorsing Chris Bell for governor.

Here is a list of news outlets that have endorsed the race. If you know of a newspaper not on the list that has offered an endorsement in this race, please say as much in the comments section and we'll add it to the list.

Gov. Rick Perry
- (Republican)
Austin American-Statesman

Dallas Morning News
San Antonio Express-News
Beaumont Enterprise
Midland Reporter-Telegram
Tyler Morning Telegraph
El Paso Times
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Chris Bell - (Democrat)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Austin Chronicle
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Abilene Reporter-News

Carole Keeton Strayhorn - (Independent)
Houston Chronicle
Waco Tribune-Herald
Abilene Reporter-News
Victoria Advocate
Wichita Falls Times Record News

Kinky Friedman - (Independent)
Galveston County Daily News
Round Top Register
Amarillo Independent

Note: The Abilene Reporter-News recommended that readers vote for either Strayhorn or Bell.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hutchison Admits the War Was Unnecessary But Still Doesn't Want a Withdrawal

In yesterday's Senate candidate debate, Kay Bailey Hutchison made a stunning admission.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said in a televised debate with her Democratic and Libertarian opponents Thursday night that she would not have voted for the Iraq war if she had known in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.

"If I had known then what I know now about the weapons of mass destruction, I would not have voted to go into Iraq as we did," said Hutchison, a Republican seeking a third term in Washington. "But I don't think the president would have asked us to."

Maybe somebody should get her a copy of Richard Clarke's book before she goes too far with this argument. As Clarke described the aftermath of 9/11:

I expected to go back to a round of meetings [after September 11] examining what the next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq.

Radnofsky was quick to jump all over the "If I'd known then..." theory, too.

The concession drew a sharp rebuke from Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky, who said key senators had intelligence reports questioning whether nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were stashed in Iraq. And she questioned whether those reports were read by many in the Senate before they cast their votes.

"Any senator who did not do what their colleagues begged them to do was derelict in their duty," Radnofsky said.

So Hutchison thinks it's finally time to admit the obvious and move on, eh? Well, no, not exactly. Now that we're in Iraq we don't want to "cut and run." Of course, we know that Hutchison has no plan to end the war. (See previous post Senator Hutchison's Plan to Get Out of Iraq.) But it's also no secret that things in Iraq are going very badly, and that President Bush plans on making adjustments to the Iraq plan just as soon as the elections are over. Of course, that's cold comfort to the families of Texans lost so far in this senseless war, or of the 72 U.S. soldiers killed in fighting so far this month.

But, hey, on the upside, Hutchison did broker a deal on the Wright Amendment, so I guess it all evens out.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

radnofsky, hutchison prepare to face off

This Thursday, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Barbara Ann Radnofsky will face two conservative opponents in a televised debate: Republican incumbent Kay Bailey Hutchison and Libertarian Scott Jameson.

Senator Hutchison, whose latest ad campaign promotes her as "A Senator for All Texans" and touts her thirteen years experience in the U.S. Senate, has polled consistently ahead this election season. Undaunted, Radnofsky plows on, debuting her first television commercials this week. Radnofsky hopes to better serve the constituents of Texas than her opponent, citing Hutchison's anti-veteran and anti-immigrant votes on the floor of the Senate.

Radnofsky has pledged to make her practice session for the debate open to the media. The day before the debate, Radnofsky will stop in San Antonio to prepare.
"We decided to give the media a chance to see unrehearsed, uncensored preparations for the debate. This kind of access is unprecedented, but we think voters deserve to see what a candidate looks like under pressure and unscripted," said Radnofsky.
The only debate between the three senatorial candidates takes place this Thursday, Oct. 19, in San Antonio. The debate is sponsored by the League of Women Voters and will air on select PBS stations at 9 p.m. Check your local listings for more information.

Monday, October 16, 2006

State Railroad an Issue in Texas Ag Commissioner's Race

Hank Gilbert, the colorful rancher running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, is trading barbs with his Republican competition, State Senator Todd Staples. At the center of the debate is the future of the historic but ailing Texas State Railroad.

It's an odd issue given that the state's next agriculture commissioner will have no direct authority over the historic landmark. But it has many voters talking because the railroad operates from the heart of Staples' East Texas Senate district, and because problems with the railroad have become largely emblematic of a park system long neglected by the Legislature....

The railroad, which was built with prison labor about 100 years ago, runs 25 miles between Palestine and Rusk. It has continued commercial operations off and on throughout much of its history - sometimes carrying freight, sometimes passengers, sometimes making money, sometimes not - and then in 1972 it was turned over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Lately, it's not only not making money, it's facing retirement if enough funds cannot be procured to cover it's operating losses and the estimated $12-$30 million needed for short- and long-term maintenance.

Tourism from the railroad generates significant revenue in Senator Staples district. Staples cites his committment to the preservation of the railroad, including the establishment of the Texas State Railroad task force and his support for various fundraisers. There is just one problem.

The railroad is in the path of the Fastrill Reservoir. Fastrill Reservoir, being pushed primarily as a water supply for Dallas, would be built astride the Neches River.

The reservoir would destroy more than 25,000 acres of forest — an area being considered for a national wildlife refuge. It also would drown much of the railroad.

Last year, the Texas Senate passed a resolution expressing its support for creation of Fastrill Reservoir.

The resolution was introduced by Staples.

Gilbert sums it up.

"The economic impact of that railroad is huge to his hometown - and the fact that it's a state park, and a historic monument - and he was willing to sacrifice it for a reservoir; that's unacceptable," said Gilbert, 48.....

Gilbert says the state wouldn't be in this bind if Staples and other lawmakers had provided enough money for the parks department.

But the Fastrill Reservoir may never see the light of day. It's in the path of the proposed Neches River Wildlife Refuge. You see, the railroad runs over 25,000 acres of prime bottomlands, considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be among the best remaining habitat of its kind. Staples maintains that the Fastrill Reservoir would accommodate the railroad. Putting aside the estimated $100 million that would cost, the Fastrill Reservoir is controversial for some other reasons.

Additional reservoirs on the Neches (such as Fastrill) would impact the very-water-dependent Big Thicket National Preserve, two national forest wilderness areas, a state wildlife management area, and other significant downstream natural resources that depend on upstream flood flows to maintain habitat diversity. The Upper Neches is prime habitat for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s project considering reintroduction of the endangered black bear in Texas. The refuge site is in the debris field of the wreckage of the space shuttle Columbia and has been proposed as a memorial to this national tragedy. Fastrill reservoir would also impact the Texas State Historical Railroad.

In the end, Staples would sell out the railroad and the land to satisfy the water developers. Wouldn't you like to see one state office occupied by someone who had the best interests of all Texans in mind? You can help make that happen. Click here to support Hank Gilbert for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Did Congressman Burgess Miss a Few Things at Guantanamo?

Recently Congressman Michael Burgess, the Republican from Texas' 26th district, paid a visit to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and gave a favorable assessment of the situation to the News Connection. Now a report has been filed alleging guards bragged about widespread abuse of detainees at the prison. Stephen Webster, at Gonzo Muckraker, has a "Compare and Contrast" post suggesting that Dr. Burgess' assessment of the treatment of the detainees may have missed a few things. Webster contrasts Burgess' report with stories of abuse overheard by Marine Sergeant Heather Cerveny.
Congressman Burgess says: "Even though we are dealing with some of the most vicious and dedicated terrorists, they are treated humanely, even down to the detail of having the direction of Mecca stenciled on an arrow on their bodies. This way, they know which direction to point in order to pray."[Muckraker - Is it just me, or does that make no sense whatsoever?]

Sergeant Cerveny says: One said, "I took the detainee by the head and smashed his head into the cell door," she tells ABC News. Another "was telling his buddy, 'Yeah, this one detainee, you know, really pissed me off, irritated me. So I just, you know,
punched him in the face.'"

Congressman Burgess says: "One of the things they're taught is, if they have an opportunity to speak with the Press, always claim torture. What do they have to lose? What are we going to do, take away their fingernail files? We already did.

"Sergeant Cerveny says: The guards also talked about taking away detainees' privileges "even when they're being good" and denying their requests for water. In her affidavit, she states she was told "they do this to anger the detainees so they can punish them when they object or complain."

Congressman Burgess says: "Well, you could argue that we're killing them with kindness because diabetes has become an issue in some cases. But, of course, they're not told they have to eat 4,200 calories a day. The food is specially prepared in accordance with religious tenets."

Sergeant Cerveny says: She says she was "shocked" to hear several guards from different parts of the camp speak openly of mistreating prisoners. "Everyone in the group laughed at all their stories of beating detainees," she recalled. "None of them looked like they cared. None of them looked shocked by it."
Read the rest of the post here.

In the meantime, 16 prisoners were recently released from Guantanamo Bay.
Most of the 16 released Afghans were innocent and had been turned in to the U.S. military by other Afghans because of personal disputes, said Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission. Many had been held for four years, he said.
Of the 440 detainees in Guantanamo Bay, only 10 have been charged with any crime.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Public Hearing on Drilling Permit in Flower Mound

A public hearing on a gas driller's request for waivers has been scheduled for tonight's meeting of the Oil and Gas Appeals Board:

When: Wednesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Flower Mound Town Hall, 2121 Cross Timbers Road

From Marsha Gavitt of Voters United to Preserve Flower Mound:
A gas driller has submitted a request for a "blanket drilling permit" on property north of FM 1171, east of Shiloh Road , and west of Lusk Lane. They are also asking for waivers of the town’s required setbacks from adjacent property owners and environmentally sensitive areas. Blanket permits appear to be a new way to circumvent our protective drilling ordinance and to reduce the ability of residents to be informed and to have their concerns addressed.....

If you cannot attend the public hearing, please email your comments by 4:00 p.m. on October 11 to the town secretary's office at or fax your comments to 972.874.6453. Correspondence should include your name and address.
For a review of some of the issues surrounding oil and gas drilling in Denton County, please see our previous post: Grapevine Company Cited for Drilling Violations in Denton County.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dallas Begins Stage 1 Water Restrictions

Even as overnight storms bring blessed rain to the Metroplex, Dallas begins implementation of Stage 1 drought restrictions. Why now? The lakes that supply Dallas city water are still suffering from the effects of this summer's record-breaking heat wave and drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a swath of Texas is still listed as D4 intensity, meaning exceptional drought conditions prevail. Current precipitation in the metroplex ranges from 47-67% of normal.
"Under Stage 1, the city is asking residents to use water as wisely as possible, by voluntarily watering their lawn with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems twice a week with addresses ending in even numbers watering on Sundays and Thursdays, and those ending in odd numbers watering on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Hand-held hoses, faucet-filled bucket or drip irrigation systems
are permitted any time."
There are additional measures for commercial enterprises.

As Dallas Assistant City manager Ramon Miguez points out,
"Should the existing weather conditions persist, more restrictive measures may be warranted."
And what are the chances of that? The outlook through the end of the year indicates some improvement in the Metroplex, with drought conditions ameliorating except in the upper northeast section of the state. Sounds good, right, until you read the fine print.
Note: the green improvement areas imply at least 1-category improvement in the Drought Monitor intensity levels, but do not necessarily imply drought elimination.
In other words, a return to normal precipitation will not alleviate the water deficit accumulated this summer. In the DFW area, that's 9-12 inches. We're not out of the woods yet.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

stream the debate online for free

Last night, four candidates vying for the governorship faced off in Dallas. KHOU has uploaded the debate for Texas voters to watch. If you missed it, check it out now. It's a few seconds shy of an hour. NTL encourages you to decide for yourself which candidate should earn your vote come November. This is likely to be the only debate between the four candidates this election season, so watch it while you can!

You must register to vote in Texas by Oct. 10.

Friday, October 06, 2006

watch the gubernatorial debate tonight

Tonight, Republican Governor Rick Perry will face three of his challengers in a debate. State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Democrat Chris Bell, and comedian Kinky Friedman will all take on the Governor of Texas tonight at the live forum. Libertarian James Werner was not asked to participate because he has consistently polled with less than 6%.

The debate will be broadcast live from the WFAA television studios in Dallas. North Texas viewers can tune in to WFAA (Channel 8) to see the action as it takes place. The debate will also be shown on TXCN and other networks around the state. The forum will take place tonight (Oct. 6) at 7 p.m and is expected to last for approximately one hour.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Garrison Keillor Comes to the Big D

Garrison Keillor, the biographer of fictional Lake Wobegone, "where all the children are above average," came to the Big D to deliver a dose of his wry midwestern humor, and left with more than the taste of Texas red clay in his mouth. As Jacquielynn Floyd notes,

Garrison Keillor must have come to Dallas itching for a fight.

He must have come here expecting – even intending – to have his worst expectations confirmed.

There's no other explanation for the deeply insulting remarks he directs in a syndicated opinion column at the fans who went to Highland Park United Methodist Church last week to hear him speak. An adoring crowd could not have been rewarded with more contempt if they had gone to see the Sex Pistols.

The metaphorical beer-spewing that Ms. Floyd alludes to was this column, written by Keillor after a visit to President Bush's former church during a book promotion for his latest book, Homegrown Democrat.

I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for "Homegrown Democrat," but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, "I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics - I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service." And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?

Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo Bay, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise. So why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?

Ms. Floyd contacted Mr. Keillor in regard to several of his comments in the column, including how Mr. Keillor would have gotten the notion that a political discourse might not be welcomed.

I also asked Mr. Keillor about the "three people" who warned him off of talking politics at the Bushes' home church.

"One was a woman from the church, the other two were friendly old men who told me that people would walk out if I did," he told me in his e-mail.

Again, Mr. Rasmussen [the minister who organizes the lecture series] says he's bewildered. Mr. Keillor arrived at the church, declined an introduction and took the stage without an opportunity to mingle with the audience, he said. So he doesn't know when these warnings might have been dispensed.

Now where would Mr. Keillor get such a notion? Well, apparently somewhere he found time to talk to a few people. And apparently so did fellow journalist David Flick. This is from the "GuideLive" section of the Dallas Morning News covering the event.

[Keillor] may have been right to avoid criticizing Mr. Bush in a neighborhood where the president remains popular.

Bill Holland, 81, a church member, said before the speech that he had never read Homegrown Democrat, but that he was a fan of Mr. Keillor's radio show, which he praised as "so homespun, so common sense. I like the way he depicts small-town life as it used to be."

But when shown passages of Mr. Keillor's book, Mr. Holland, a Bush supporter, appeared angered.

"I'm frankly surprised," he said. "If the things in this book were more widely exposed, half of these people wouldn't be here. They'd get up and leave."

Yeah, small-town life as it used to be- bucolic and serene, as long as you didn't challenge the provincial mind-set.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Torture Protests Planned for DFW Metroplex

Our previous posts highlight the hypocrisy of the Bush administration in its treatment of detainees in the war on terror. It's time for all good progressives to take a stand on this issue. Demonstrations are planned across the metroplex on October 5th to protest the Iraq war and the passage of the detainee bill that gave amnesty to torturers and made a mockery of due process.

In Denton:
Where: Corner of Hickory & Fry
When: 11:30 a.m.

In Lewisville:
Where: The offices of Congressman Michael C. Burgess
1660 South Stemmons Freeway, Lewisville, TX 75067
When: 2:00 p.m.

In Dallas:
Where: Dealey Plaza
When: 7:00 p.m.

(See previous posts Bush's Torture Flip Flop and Guantanamo Lawyer Calls Out Senator Cornyn.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Whosplayin Interviews Sheila Ford

The latest in candidate interviews is up on Whosplayin. Sheila Ford is the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Republican Charlie Geren for State Representative in District 99. In the interview, Ms. Ford highlights one of her passions in this campaign- education reform.

WhosPlayin: From hearing you speak, and reading your website, I know that improving and funding our public education system is the number one priority for you. It's also the number one issue that I hear from my neighbors, and fellow parents. In your opinion, what is going wrong with our public school system, and how do we fix it?

Sheila Ford: I have talked to many teachers lately and they say there are two main obstacles preventing them from delivering a good education. They need less standardized tests and smaller classes. I think we should listen to the teachers. Standardized testing costs money. Reducing the amount of these tests will also free up some much-needed funds for other uses. We should also re-evaluate our maximum class sizes and tailor them for each grade and subject.

WhosPlayin: The most recent legislature, after several special sessions, seemed to have taken a bit of a short-sighted approach to fixing school funding. As I understand it they spent a budget surplus, then lowered property taxes and introduced a modified business franchise tax. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it was a good compromise, or just a way to duck the issue for 2 more years?

Sheila Ford: I'm sure they think they've ducked the issue for another 2 years, but I don't see it. I think it will become apparent very soon that there is still a problem. I've already heard rumors from the Texas CPA society that changes are in the works for the next session. Until then, small businesses will bear the brunt of the modified franchise tax, while the wealthiest businesses will find loopholes and avoid paying their fair share. Teachers still do not have adequate pay or benefits, and our schools are still under-funded. Democrats need to gain some seats this November so we can make some real improvements in school funding.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

bush's torture flip-flop

The LJ Democrats group offers this gem spoken by President Bush back in July 2003:
"The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit."
What happened to Bush's convictions? For those that missed it, Congress passed the infamous "torture bill" before the election season recess.