Tag Archives: Texas

Are Texans Innately Conservative? Liberal? Or Libertarian?

Texas-flag-lone-star-state-300x288

Note: This was originally posted at Free Radical Network

There is going to be a big fight in Texas.  The Battleground Texas group is trying to make inroads into the state, in hopes of turning Texas either purple or blue.

They think the best strategy is ‘get out the vote’ campaigns.  Executive Director Jenn Brown told “The Dallas Morning News” she thought Texas is a “nonvoting state,” then claimed Texas wasn’t “innately conservative.”  She attributes her belief to the low voter turnout in the 2012 election, and election results that show a mere 18-percent of the voting population voted for Governor Rick Perry in 2010.  Her comments drew an unexpected response from Texas blogger/journalist Scott Braddock who said Texas was “innately libertarian.”

He was “dead serious“, and probably right.

Texas does have a very broad belief in freedom, and also in avoiding bureaucracy and a massive welfare state.  It’s not just rhetoric by Perry or others in power across the state; Texans have enjoyed rebelling against the “establishment” and striking back at what they saw as government intrusion.

The obvious example is the 2012 U.S. Senate race.  Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was seen as the odds-on favorite: he had the backing of the state party and pretty much everyone else in the Texas political machine.  Ted Cruz had a small coalition of people who supported him.  He was the upstart who talked up his libertarian leanings, speaking about actually obeying the U.S. Constitution, and seeking to keep the federal government out of Texans’ lives.  One of the chief reasons why “The Dallas Morning News” and “Houston Chronicle” supported Dewhurst was his coalition building.  While that is attractive in state politics, U.S. Senators are supposed to represent the interests of their states.  Cruz understood this; Dewhurst didn’t.  “The Dallas Morning News” even supported Democrat Paul Sadler over Cruz in the 2012 General Election because he’d bring money to Texas, while Cruz would only do so if it involved “roads, freeways and ports.”  You know, Constitutional reasons.

Obviously Texans rejected both Dewhurst and Sadler by sending Cruz to DC, but it shows how the state wants the federal government to leave them alone.  They’re not interested in having DC determine what Texans do.  That’s rather libertarian.

But Texans’ desire to keep the government from taking over their lives isn’t just aimed at DC.  They’ve also pushed back against attempts by the state government from doing it.

The best example may be the Trans-Texas Corridor. In short, Perry was hoping to create a “super-highway” which would span from the southern border all the way to the Red River.  Perry praised it as something which would help shippers, reduce pollution, and fix roads.  He promised the tolls would keep taxes from having to be raised and that it would “improve the interstate concept.”

Texans revolted.  They spent hours upon hours pointing out the eminent domain issues, loss of tax revenue, how the proposal was too much like California’s Route 91, and just how poorly it was designed.  The push-back was so fierce, not only did the Trans-Texas Corridor die; but Perry ended up signing stronger laws against eminent domain in 2011.

The same can be said about the current fight in the state Legislature over transportation funding.  Perry, Dewhurst and other Republicans were hoping to get a constitutional amendment passed which would have diverted oil and gas production tax money (meant for the Rainy Day Fund) for transportation, instead.  Some House and Senate members revolted against the plan over concerns as to whether there was a “floor” provision in the bill.  That would have meant if the Rainy Day Fund reached some designated floor, 100% of oil and gas production tax money would start going into it again.  Killing the bill was probably the right move because it’s a bad bill and, as with most taxes, the money runs out at some point.

There’s more to be said about Texas’ libertarian streak. “Texas Monthy’s” Erica Grieder even wrote a book pointing out how low taxes and low services helped Texas.  In a column to “The Dallas Morning News” she wrote, “Texans don’t expect that much from the state,” and she’s absolutely right.  Many people who grew up in Texas don’t expect that.  The help ends up coming from either cities or the community in a crisis.  There are parts of Texas which are struggling, like the Rio Grande Valley, but there are charities and non-profits trying to help where they can.

Battleground Texas wants to change that by getting more Democrats elected and changing how the state operates.  They want Texas to be the next Colorado, which would be horrific.

The good news is, it’s a fight which opposition groups aren’t taking lying down.  FreedomWorks plans on $8-million in spending to fight Battleground Texas, and state Attorney General Greg Abbott calls the group “far more dangerous” than North Korea.  U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s campaign manager also said Battleground Texas is a “real threat in the years to come.”

Hopefully other freedom-loving groups, and the Texas Republican Party, will actually pay attention.

 

Greg Abbott and the Art of the Twitter Townhall

 

abbottTwitter is probably one of the best ways to make connections with people across the globe, but it’s hard to have a serious political conversation at 140 characters. Despite this limitation, politicians are using a Twitter Town Hall as a way to get their message across and interact with voters. It’s not a bad strategy, but depends on how it’s used and what questions get answered.

For most politicians it’s easier to answer questions from supporters. For one, it helps them expound on their agenda. It also allows them to see positive messages they can play off of. Best examples are probably President Obama’s #my2k town hall in 2012 and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine’s #AskTim town hall on July 16th and 17th. Simple questions, simple answers. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s #Randchat town hall with Reason had more positive questions than negative. But some of Paul’s answers were against the standard Republican answer and helped establish his libertarianism even more. Plus Paul actually talked policy, which not everyone is willing to do.

One of the more entertaining town halls was one given by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Abbott is running for governor and used the #AskAbbott event to differentiate himself from Governor Rick Perry, especially on how contracts get handed out. He did a good job, but the best part was probably his willingness to take questions from Democrats, when they crashed the party. It’s not something politicians normally do, probably because they know the opposition isn’t going to be happy, regardless of the answers.

But Abbott was willing to play along, especially when Battleground Texas, an organization run by former Obama campaign members, stepped in. They first asked Abbott if he could speak Spanish, which didn’t get an answer. They decided to ask another one which, this time, Abbott answered.


Quick translation: Battleground Texas asked if Abbott could talk to the Latin community. Abbott said, in Spanish, his wife is Latina and he will be able to communicate to all voters. It’s a great response and pretty much shut Battleground Texas up for the night. But it shows how politicians on Twitter can respond without it disintegrating into a shouting match. It also shows a willingness to engage with people who don’t agree. Some questions aren’t worth answering because they’re either too snarky, too stupid or require an answer that’s far too nuanced for 140 characters. The nuanced answers are best for a one-on-one conversation or a column or a radio interview. But that’s Twitter.

There’s a big difference between what Abbott did and what politicians normally do. He talked to opponents without beating them over the head. Not everyone was happy, but that’s politics. It certainly beats the same ol’ questions and the same ol’ answers. If anyone still cares about that.

Misrepresenting The “Fetal Heartbeat” Texas Bill

Geoff Livingston (CC)

Geoff Livingston (CC)

 Certain parts of the Internet went started frothing at the mouth on Thursday and Friday over another Texas abortion bill. Think Progress wrote, Republicans were looking “criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.” Huffington Post wrote the glaring headline, “Six-Week Abortion Ban Introduced In Texas.” Salon said the bill would “face harsh criticism and fierce opposition from the thousands of Texans rallying against the Republican-controlled Legislature’s efforts to eliminate access to safe abortion care in the state.” Raw Story had a similar post.

 There are two problems with how House Bill 59 is being characterized:

  1. The bill won’t be debated this year: Republican State Representative Phil King released a statement saying there aren’t any hearings planned on the measure, and the bill won’t be considered until January 2015.

  2. The bill will probably never be law: The key text of the bill can be found in Section Two, where it says the subchapter can’t be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade; a federal or state court restores, expands or clarifies the authority the states have on abortion; or an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed restoring, expanding or clarifying the authority the states have on abortion.

 The Supreme Court isn’t expected to decide on abortion ever again, and it’s unlikely a Constitutional amendment will ever be passed. To Think Progress and Salon’s credit, they have edited their stories to point out Section Two of the bill. HuffPost and Raw Story have not.

 Similar outrage happened with Texas House Bill 2, where opponents claimed all abortion would be banned after 20 weeks and almost all abortion clinics in Texas would have to close. However, Subsection 171.046 says abortion can be done if “in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment,” there is a condition that affects the woman’s health or the child has severe fetal abnormality. Section 11, part b gives clinics until September 2014 to meet the new standards or else they won’t be allowed to perform abortions.

 It’s understandable the abortion issue (and any social issue) causes a ton of emotion. But people need to be armed with the facts, before debating the merits of a particular bill or law. If they don’t, then there’s no point to any debate because it will only end in harsh words, hurt feelings and damaged relationships.

Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor July 13th 2013

sncl_logocdnWhen:Saturday, July 13th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor on Blog Talk Radio

What: Saturday nights were meant for cigars and politics.

Hear Taylor and his co-host Liz Harrison talk about everything from the past week – from politics, to news, to books, and entertainment. Whatever comes to mind, and of course, sobriety is not likely.

Tonight: Tonight Taylor talks with an old CDN friend, Moriah Jovan (@MoriahJovan) about her new book Dunham, and whatever else comes to mind. (With Moriah, you never do know where the conversation will lead, whether it’s to politics, publishing, or something else…) Expect at least a few comments on the sport otherwise known as Texas politics – in particular the abortion “debate” in Austin.

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on BlogTalkRadio

 

 

 


Saturday Night Cigar Lounge July 6th

sncl_logocdnWhen:Saturday, June 29th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor on Blog Talk Radio

What: Saturday nights were meant for cigars and politics.

Hear Taylor and his co-host Liz Harrison talk about everything from the past week – from politics, to news, to books, and entertainment. Whatever comes to mind, and of course, sobriety is not likely.

Tonight: Taylor is back in Texas and loving it. Tonight he’s joined by Ashley Sewell (@TXTrendyChick) to talk the sport that is Texas politics, the abortion bills, Wendy Davis and David Murphy from the Texas Rangers.

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Abortion debate returns to Texas legislature

Governor Rick Perry has called another special session in Texas to consider the abortion issue again. Protesters on both sides of the debate swarmed around the state capital, in the hope of swaying the legislators inside.

As reported by the Washington Post:

Used with permission. Copyright Felicia Winfree Cravens

Used with permission. Copyright Felicia Winfree Cravens


With 30 days and the majority of state lawmakers on their side, Republicans are almost assured success as they seek to pass restrictions that would ban abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization and require clinics performing the procedure to meet costly new requirements that could put many of them out of business.

“The Texas Legislature is poised to finish its history-making work this year by passing legislation to protect the unborn and women’s health,” Gov. Rick Perry (R) said in a statement.

In the first special session, the measure didn’t make it to the Senate for final approval until the last day, giving state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) the window — and the national stage — to filibuster the measure to defeat.

“I was lucky enough to be able to make the choices in my life that I knew would work for me,” Davis told supporters Monday, responding to Perry’s suggestion that, as a teenage mother herself, she should’ve “learned from her own example.”

The new versions of the bill — House Bill 2 by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) and Senate Bill 1 by state Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) — are headed for committee hearings.

The “costly new requirements”, if the new bills are similar to SB-5, include requirements that all clinics has physicians on staff that also have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility, and increased accountability for the clinics and their employees to ensure the safety of patients. Additionally, all penalties are levied against physicians and clinics, not patients. SB-5 cited fetal pain as the purpose of the legislation. It was not mentioned that according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, 1.5% of all abortions in 2006 were performed after the 20-week limit being considered in Texas, or that complications increase significantly the longer a woman waits to have an abortion.

The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from one death for every one million abortions at or before eight weeks to one per 29,000 at 16–20 weeks—and one per 11,000 at 21 or more weeks.

Used with permission. Copyright Felicia Winfree Cravens

Used with permission. Copyright Felicia Winfree Cravens

While protesters against this legislation may want to claim that they are for women’s health, objecting to increased oversight and accountability in clinics does not exactly square with that ideal. Also, given the low number of women that tend to have abortions at that stage of pregnancy, and the increased probability of complications, including death of the woman, the argument tends to fall flat. After the Kermit Gosnell case in Pennsylvania, it would have been hoped that all women, regardless of their opinion on abortion, would want to do anything to prevent similar situations from happening again, which is exactly what the current bill under consideration would do. Time will tell, but if there are no significant changes on the floor in the Texas legislature, this measure will undoubtedly pass, and will not be stolen again by an unruly mob.

Saturday Night Cigar Lounge June 29th

When:Saturday, June 29th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor on Blog Talk Radio

What: Saturday nights were meant for cigars and politics.

Hear Taylor and his co-host Liz Harrison talk about everything from the past week – from politics, to news, to books, and entertainment. Whatever comes to mind, and of course, sobriety is not likely.

Tonight: Taylor is finishing up his move to Texas so Sean Venkman from Real Deal Talk Radio fills in. Big thanks to Sean for doing it and Taylor is planning on calling in.

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on BlogTalkRadio

 

Abortion Rights Thugs Storm Texas Legislature; Block Vote On Limiting Abortions To 20 Weeks

Same old Pro-Death “activists”. Hey, let’s go filibuster the “outrage” of limiting abortions to 20 weeks and requiring those “clinics” to implement the same standards as any surgical center! YEA! That sounds like something that is right up there with Slavery! Hurry get your code pink outfits and meet at the Texas State Capitol!! Do these idiots know just how ridiculous they sound? Killing the unborn at any time is murder, but a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant—that’s 5 months pregnant, and they are protesting the “right” to slaughter that innocent child? Watch the video below. After “demonstrating” for over 10 hours, at 3am, the Republicans conceded the vote could not be finished on time.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout, ‘greatly disappointed’ with Boy Scouts’ gay ban lift

The Headquarters for Boy Scouts Of America is located in Irving, Texas.

Texas Governor Rick Perry earned the rank of Eagle Scout, as did his son Griffin. The Boy Scouts of America Organization honored Rick Perry with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

With the announcement yesterday that the Boy Scouts of America Organization has voted to open their membership to openly gay boys for the first time in history, Gov. Perry issued a statement.

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today issued the following statement regarding the vote to admit openly gay Boy Scouts:

Eric Gay/The Associated Press

Eric Gay/The Associated Press

 The Boys Scouts of America has been built upon the values of faith and family for more than 100 years and today’s decision contradicts generations of tradition in the name of political correctness. While I will always cherish my time as a scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision.

rick_perry_signature

CSCOPE is out of Texas schools

-Marlith- (CC)

-Marlith- (CC)


CSCOPE is officially stopping from distributing lesson plans in Texas, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.

The state’s regional Education Service Centers will no longer issue lesson plans – and will forbid their use after Aug. 31 – for a popular online curriculum system that became a lightning rod for conservatives who criticized it as anti-American, legislators announced Monday.

The move is expected to leave school districts across the state, including some in the greater Houston area, scrambling to replace CSCOPE, as the program is called, before the start of next school year. Districts that lack the staff or budget to design their own curriculum tend to rely on it.

The CSCOPE plans are in use at 877 districts, or 78 percent of school districts in Texas, said Kyle Wargo, the executive director of Regional Service Center 17 in Lubbock.

“Since we are a small district, we don’t have the resources to hire specialized people in that area,” said Somerset Independent School District Superintendent Saul Hinojosa, who credits CSCOPE with helping the district raise its test scores.

However, while Hinojosa claims CSCOPE helped to increase test scores, that does not necessarily mean that it helps students learn. Debates over the efficacy of standardized tests as a metric to determine how well students learn continue to rage, and in Texas, there are at least some teachers that believe that the end of CSCOPE will mean a better learning environment for their students.

KLTV.com reports that many teachers despised CSCOPE’s rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to education. After seven years of CSCOPE, those teachers are thrilled to be set free from the tyranny of the ready-made lesson plan.

Bill Martin, director of the Tyler Sylvan Learning Center, said the end of CSCOPE means teachers “get control back over their classroom again.”

“They get to use lesson plans that they feel are best suited for their class and their students in their class,” Martin told KLTV.com.

Martin added that he doesn’t know “a single teacher that likes CSCOPE. Not a single teacher.”

If reports that parent requests to see CSCOPE materials were met with demands to pay exorbitant fees were true, the end of this program should also mean a return to school districts obeying Texas laws, requiring that parents be given course information and learning materials on request. Of course, to conservatives, this means the end of students being taught to compare Boston Tea Party Activists to terrorists.

Granbury, Tx. tornadoes – 6 dead, death toll could rise

Six are confirmed dead after severe storms and multiple tornadoes hit North Texas in the evening yesterday. Hardest hit was Granbury, Tx., where a sub-division of Habitat for Humanity homes were in the path of what from early reports, appears to have been EF-4 strength twister. There are still some people unaccounted for, and officials have stated it is possible that the death toll from this storm will rise.

Another tornado hit the city of Ennis, in Ellis County and Steve Howerton, the city manager and emergency management coordinator, released the following map showing the path of that tornado.

 

Ennis Tornado

Individuals with family or friends in the area are encouraged to use the following emergency contacts offered by DallasNews.com:

A phone bank was established for those looking for friends and family members in Hood County. Call (682) 498-8010. Alternatively, you can list yourself as “Safe & Well” or search for others that have listed themselves at the Safe & Well website operated by the American Red Cross.

Those who believe they may have a family member or friend at Lake Granbury Medical Center are being asked to call 817-579-2888.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 to provide immediate crisis counseling to people affected by the violent storms across northern Texas.

Contact the Granbury Animal Clinic at (817) 573-5553 to see if a lost pet has been recovered.

New developments will be added as needed.

TX Cheerleaders Win 1st Amendment Victory

A Texas court judge ruled today that signs displayed by high school cheerleaders quoting biblical verses were cheerleaders “constitutionally permissible,” and that the Kountze High School cheerleaders could continue to display them at the school’s football games.

The high school cheerleaders had sued the Kountze Independent School District after after they were told they could no longer display the banners with religious messages over arguments that it violated the First Amendment. Earlier in the school year, one unidentified spectator had complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The group argued that the banners amounted to a public school’s advocating a particular religion, which was unconstitutional.

The cheerleaders contention was that these banners were student led and initiated and so private speech. Attorneys for the cheerleaders argued the girls’ First Amendment rights to free speech were being violated by the school district and that the messages on the banners were not asking anyone to believe in Christianity or accept the faith.

In his ruling, State District Judge Steve Thomas said that no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events and that the banners did not create an establishment of religion in the school.

Gov. Rick Perry offered a statement on the ruling: Today’s ruling is a win for free speech and religious freedom. The Kountze High School cheerleaders showed great resolve and maturity beyond their years in standing up for their beliefs and constitutional rights. I’m proud of them and I celebrate this victory alongside them.

 
For more information watch the video below:

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