Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dan Dodd, Collin County Democratic Party Chairperson Hospitalized

Daniel Dodd, Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Collin County, was admitted to the hospital Friday to treat a blood clot in his leg.

Often termed "deep venous thrombosis" such blood clots can quickly kill if it moves up to the lungs, where can form a pulmonary embolism. This condition make headlines every few years when seemingly healthy people collapse after long airplane flights or being in similarly cramped quarters. Vice President Cheney suffered one after a long trip in 2006. NBC correspondent David Bloom died of one in 2003 after spending days inside a tank while covering the invasion of Iraq. The surgeon General estimates that every year, between 350,000 and 600,000 Americans get one of these clots — and at least 100,000 of them die.

If the blood clot is caught early and treated properly, patients do very well with a mortality risk of less than 5 percent. A major goal of treatment is to prevent further abnormal clotting in the body and to avoid complications such as the development of a blood clot in the lungs. Blood clots are treated by administering blood thinners, like Heparin, Coumadin or others such as Lovenox injections. Treatment can depend on many factors such as the size of the clot, but most of the time patients must be on a blood thinner for several months. Contrary to popular belief, blood thinners do not dissolve a clot. They keep new clots from forming and from the clot getting any bigger, but the body actually dissolves the clot itself.

Dodd was expect to remain in the hospital for up to three days.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Melting Greenland Ice Sheets May Threaten Northeast United States, Canada

ScienceDaily (May 28, 2009) — Melting of the Greenland ice sheet this century may drive more water than previously thought toward the already threatened coastlines of New York, Boston, Halifax, and other cities in the northeastern United States and Canada, according to new research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The study, which is being published May 29 in Geophysical Research Letters, finds that if Greenland's ice melts at moderate to high rates, ocean circulation by 2100 may shift and cause sea levels off the northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches (about 30 to 50 centimeters) more than in other coastal areas. The research builds on recent reports that have found that sea level rise associated with global warming could adversely affect North America, and its findings suggest that the situation is more threatening than previously believed.

"If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea level rise," says NCAR scientist Aixue Hu, the lead author. "Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise."

Read the full story at

Texans for Better Science Education Push For SBOE Chairman McLeroy's Confirmation

Update May 28, 2009 at 5:10PM - Voting strictly along party lines, the Senate refused to confirm McLeroy on a 19 to 11 vote - two less than the two-thirds majority required for confirmation. (With one Democrat not voting)

Original Post May 28, 2009 at 12:17PM - Senate confirmation of Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education (SBOE) is expected to come up in the Texas Senate some time Thursday or Friday. McLeroy, a dentist who has no background in science or education, was first appointed SBOE chairman by Republican Governor Rick Perry in the summer of 2007. McLeroy was reappointed as SBOE chairman by Gov. Perry in 2009. Whether he can garner two-thirds approval from senators is an open question. Earlier in the session, many lawmakers believed his nomination wasn't even going to get out of committee.

The right-leaning Texans for Better Science Education, who advocates teaching creationism rather than evolution in Texas science classrooms, has sent "URGENT" messages to its members, asking them to call their senators to support McLeroy's confirmation. The group's argument?
"...He is being attacked NOT for anything done wrong during his two years as chair of the SBOE but primarily because he is Christian!"
Texans for Better Science Education contend that McLeroy is being attacked primarily [just] for being a Christian because;
As chairman of the State Board of Education, McLeroy advocates that Texas public school students should be taught "creation science" rather than biological evolution science. McLeroy is convinced that evolution taught uncritically to Texas students undermines the tenet of Christianity that people were created in the image of God.

McLeroy advocates that the Texas education standard, as set by the SBOE, must require Texas educators to have a "critical discussion" on the “strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories" with public school students.

McLeroy advocates that the science disciplines of physics, geology, biology and the archaeological study of the fossil record, which all provide evidence the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that biological processes first appeared at least 3.9 billion years ago, must be critically challenged by Texas teachers.

McLeroy advocates that teachers must engage Texas students in a "critical discussion" that archaeological evidence in the fossil record does not support the idea of natural selection as an explanation of how organisms evolved on earth over millions of years.

McLeroy wants teachers to lead students to the believe that cells and the DNA code controlling their function is so complex that intelligent design by a creator and not evolution is the only answer that can be accepted. McLeroy further advocates that the alternative "intelligent design scientific theory" should be offered to Texas students by science teachers.
In March, after a year of fierce debate about how evolution should be taught (or not taught) in Texas public schools, the State Board of Education (SBOE) voted on and passed a final version of new science education standards that will guide the content of science discussion and textbooks for the next decade.

In March, the State Board of Education removed the “critical discussion of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories" language from the official education standard. McLeroy, supported by other creationists on the board, then effectively restored the “strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories" intent with alternative language. The amended phrases ask teachers to prompt students to “examine all sides of scientific evidence and scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking.”

The SBOE's decision has a large impact across the U.S. given Texas' ability, because of its size, to influence what is printed in textbooks nationwide. The new standard, with McLeroy's new language, allows him to pressure national textbook publishers to write the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution discussion" into textbooks used nationwide.

The Texans for Better Science Education group has focused their lobbying efforts on three socially-moderate Republican Senators, Sens. Seliger, Wentworth and Averitt, who have not yet voiced support for McLeroy.

KERA: Texas Schools Lag Behind in Bioscience Education (May 19, 2009)

"Only a Theory" 2:19
Barbara Forrest, Professor of Philosophy Southeastern Louisiana University - "When creationists try to dismiss evolution as 'only a theory,' they are misusing the word theory."

Avoiding the Supernatural 1:41
Nick Matzke, Public Information Project Director National Center for Science Education - "A conservative judge isn't going to just redefine science."

Science and Religion 2:29
Ken Miller, Biologist Brown University - "What science isn't very good at is answering questions [on] the meaning and purpose of things."

On Isaac Newton 1:34

A Solid Theory 1:18
Kevin Padian, Paleontologist UC Berkeley - "I don't know where people get the idea that evolution is a theory in crisis."

Natural Explanations 1:33
Robert T. Pennock, Philosopher and Evolutionary Scientist Michigan State University - "You can't have gaps that you fill in by appeal to miracles."

Science Is Not Dogmatic 2:02

Science Tests Its Claims 1:12
Eugenie Scott, Executive Director National Center for Science Education - "If you teach intelligent design as a science, you are confusing students about the nature of science."

The Power of Science 1:23
Neil Shubin, Paleontologist University of Chicago and the Field Museum - "Not every idea, no matter how beautiful, qualifies as science."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Voter ID Died Quietly At Midnight Last Night

Cartoon from LoneStar Times
Good news: Voter ID died quietly at midnight last night. House rules require at least initial floor action on bills five days before adjournment. Democrats slowed up House business enough that the Voter ID was not introduced on the floor for initial action before last night's deadline.

Bad news: Other legislation behind the Voter ID bill on the calendar was not introduced on the House floor for initial action either.

So, a bill to use $550 million in federal stimulus dollars to extend unemployment benefits for 200,000 unemployed Texans died at midnight last night too. (This was to override Gov. Perry's rejection of the federal stimulus money.)

House Republicans placed partisan politics above not only unemployed Texans, but also insurance reform, energy efficiency, renewable energy initiatives, the Texas Windstorm Insurance program, air quality, expansion of the Child Health Insurance Program and more. Texas Republicans, who control the legislative calendar, placed Voter ID legislation ahead of all this other legislation, which conservative Republicans oppose, so they could blame Democrats for killing it, rather than take the heat themselves.

On the other hand, Republicans who control the House can move to ignore House rules to revive some of the dead legislation for House action. Two-thirds of the House members would have to vote favorably on such a move, but House Democrats have said they will support a two-thirds vote on all but the Voter ID legislation. So, the ball remains in the Republican House leaders' court to act on insurance reform, energy efficiency, renewable energy initiatives, the Texas Windstorm Insurance program, air quality, expansion of the Child Health Insurance Program and more in the remaining days of this session.

So now there's just the wild card - the possibility that Gov. Perry will call a special session of the legislature, after the regular session adjourns. And, if Gov. Perry does call a special session, will Republicans use that session to force another Voter Photo ID showdown.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

As Conservatives Firmly Dominate The Federal Judiciary, They Say No Non-Conservatives Allowed

President Obama has just made the first nomination to the Supreme Court by a Democratic President in fifteen years.

Even with just two justices on the Supreme Court that were appointed by a Democratic president (Breyer and Ginsburg), the rationale for Republicans to mount a filibuster against Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee extends back to post election day last November.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, is quoted on November 7, 2008, that he would filibuster Obama's appointments.

Last December Ceci Connolly, national staff writer for the Washington Post reported that, "Word on the street is that Karl Rove is going to be helping lead the fight against Obama's nominations as part of the Republican Party's strategy.

On Fox News just a couple of Sundays back Mitch McConnell explained why he's open to filibustering President Obama's (then unnamed) Supreme Court nominee. When the Bush administration was making nominations to a Republican controlled Senate before 2007, McConnell vehemently opposed any such filibuster - by Democrats.

The ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, suggested little more than a week ago the "automatic powerful deference" given to the President's Supreme Court nominees in the past is just that - something of the past. As justification Sen. Sessions claimed Democrats filibustered Bush Supreme Court nominees, preventing a him from appointing "conservative judges," therefore Republican Senators are now obligated to filibuster Obama's judicial nominees to restore judicial balance. Sen. Sessions doesn't have that quite right; While Democrats threatened to vote against cloture on ten of Bush's federal lower court nominees during his first term in 2003 and 2004, they did not filibuster Pres. Bush's Supreme Court nominees.

Sen. Kyl, again just a week ago refused to rule out a filibuster or other stall tactics to to delay or derail confirmation of President Barack Obama Supreme Court Justice nominee. Kyl spoke for many conservative Republicans when, in 2005, Republicans threatened the filibuster "nuclear option," against Senate Democrats who were being urged by their constituents to filibuster President Bush's "conservative activist" nominees to the lower federal and supreme courts.
SEN. JOHN KYL on PBS News Hour April 25, 2005: "For 214 years it has been the tradition of the Senate to approve judicial nominees by a majority vote. Many of our judges and, for example, Clarence Thomas, people might recall, was approved by either fifty-one or fifty-two votes as I recall. It has never been the rule that a candidate for judgeship that had majority support was denied the ability to be confirmed once before the Senate. It has never happened before. So we're not changing the rules in the middle of the game. We're restoring the 214-year tradition of the Senate because in the last two years Democrats have begun to use this filibuster."
That Republican threat to eliminate the filibuster rule, of course, was in 2005 after Republicans increased their control of congress in the 2004 election. The threat worked - Senate Democrats did not filibuster Pres. Bushes judicial nominees and no longer voted against cloture, thus allowing Pres. Bush and Senate Republicans to confirm extreme right-wing lower court and supreme court judges, effectively eliminating Democrats from the "advise and consent" process.

In December 2008 the Washington Post reported that George W. Bush has been enormously successful at placing his picks on federal appeals courts and that has led to Republican domination of most of the nation's judicial circuits. The numbers that demonstrate just how solidly Bush has packed the courts with Republican judges are pretty compelling:
After Bush's eight years in office, Republican-appointed majorities firmly control the outcomes in 10 of these courts, compared with seven after President Bill Clinton's tenure. They also now share equal representation with Democratic appointees on two additional courts.
That's out of a total of 13 judicial circuits (12 regular regional circuits plus the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears special national cases). In 2001, the political breakdown of the nation's appeals court was about even, with 77 judges appointed by Democrats, 74 by Republicans and 27 vacancies. The current breakdown is 66 Democrats, 102 Republicans and 11 vacancies.

In his appointments of John Roberts as Chief Justice and Samuel Alito, Jr. to replace the pivotal Sandra O'Connor, President G. W. Bush succeeded in appointing two solid conservatives to the Court, insuring a more likely conservative result in 5-4 court decisions. The pivotal position relinquished by O'Connor passed to Anthony Kennedy, who joined the conservative bloc of justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito 15 out of 20 occasions in the 2006 and 2007 court sessions. The more liberal bloc of justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer have been in the minority on 3 out of 4 "split decisions" made by the court since Justice O'Connor's departure. (Click on the Justices link if you wish to see voting data from the Court's 2007-08 term.)

In an article for the New Yorker, legal analyst and former assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Toobin describes Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts as “the Supreme Court’s stealth [conservative] hard-liner.” According to Toobin, despite Roberts’ disarming charm, and his insistence he is a strict constructionist with moderate views, [as he described himself in his Senate confirmation testimony,] his actions on the bench have been those of a “doctrinaire conservative.” “Doctrinaire conservative” is just another name for an "activist judge" with conservative ideology.

Toobin writes that although Roberts calls himself as a strict constructionist and a “judicial restraint” conservative, “according to Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, ‘The Chief Justice talks the talk of moderation while walking the walk of extreme conservatism.’”

After four years as Chief Justice, Roberts’s record is not that of a “judicial restraint” "strict constructionist" conservative with moderate views, but the kind of "authoritarian conservative" that almost always defers to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.”

According to Toobin, Roberts has recently led 5-4 majorities on the Court in far-reaching decisions considered as setbacks for anti-trust and anti-discrimination lawsuits. In a recent opinion on school desegregation efforts Roberts argued that if government-mandated segregation is unconstitutional, then government-mandated integration must be unconstitutional as well — an opinion that “drew an incredulous dissent from Stevens.” (Are activist conservatives advocating a move back to "whites only" signs on drinking fountains under the "separate but equal" doctrine cherished by southern "states rights" advocates? Gov. Perry?)

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it easier for the police and prosecutors to question suspects, lifting some restrictions on when defendants can be interrogated without their lawyers present," David Stout reports in the New York Times:
In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court overturned its 1986 opinion in a Michigan case, which forbade the police from interrogating a defendant once he invoked his right to counsel at an arraignment or a similar proceeding.

That 1986 ruling has not only proved “unworkable,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, but its “marginal benefits are dwarfed by its substantial costs” in that some guilty defendants go free. Justice Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

However, "In an angry dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the 1986 decision, said that contrary to the majority’s assertion, that decision protected 'a fundamental right that the court now dishonors.'”

Back when Democrats were expressing skepticism about President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the supreme court, Republicans, who then controlled both houses of congress as well as the White House, chastised Democrats for "pre-judging" the nomination.

That doesn't appear to have been a principled stance given Republicans have been "pre-judging" Obama's nominee since last November.

And the media itself is rushing to join Republicans in "pre-judging"President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court as too liberal.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, while in Lubbock today, said her initial response to President Obama's appointee was tepid at best. The senator was among 28 Republicans who voted against Judge Sotomayor's appointment to the appeals court in 1998. Hutchison says she voted against Judge Sotomayor a decade ago because of her "judicial activism" as a district court judge.

When you hear Republicans complain about how the federal and supreme courts are "stacked" with activist liberal judges legislating from the bench, just remind them that:
Continue Reading:

Organizing for America has posted this special message video from the President on its website.

Question: What is the difference between conservative "judicial activism" as practiced by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Scalia and liberal "judicial activism?" Answer: Conservative "judicial activists" believe that the votes of the many outweigh the rights of the few or the one, whereas liberal "judicial activists" believe that the the rights of the few or the one outweigh votes of the many.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

With great respect, this goes out to all that have served in our armed forces, and those that have lost loved ones fighting for everything most Americans take for granted:

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
Dear Madam,--

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Southern Exposure" For Shrinking Republican Party

"For GOP, A Southern Exposure" - National Journal Details The Shrinking Republican Party. "Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the GOP's decline elsewhere. By several key measures, the party is now weaker outside the South than at any time since the Depression; in some ways, it is weaker than ever before." Read the full story in the National Journal Magazine (long article, but worth the read)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Democrats Use Stalling Tactics On Voter ID

KERA News (2009-05-22)

[A decision by the Republican controlled Calendars Committee late Thursday night to schedule the Voter ID bill for floor debate for Saturday, ahead of debating the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Sunset bill, clean air bill and transporting guns to work bill, dares Democrats to run out the clock on those important bills by running out the session clock to stop the Voter ID bill.]

Talkative House Democrats used stalling tactics Friday to stall the voter identification bill that has been scheduled for debate this weekend.

Democrats - who warned they would put up a fight to stop the voter ID measure - began talking at length on non-controversial legislation Friday to use up the clock. The "talking" tactic, known as "chubbing," takes advantage of procedural rules to stall House business. This puts a lot of pressure on the members who have other bills they want to pass. The Legislature adjourns June 1 so there is not much time left on the 2009 legislative session clock.

Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, leader of the House Democrats, said members of his party were willing to compromise on key legislation but would continue to use parliamentary maneuvers to keep the voter ID bill off the House floor. "We're not being obstructionists. We're not killing any bills. We're not breaking quorum," Dunnam said. "We're trying to get the House's priorities back in order."

Dunnam said Democrats would allow important bills to be taken up and passed out of order with a vote of a supermajority of legislators - two-thirds of them. But that would take bipartisan agreement, which so far has been elusive.

More in "Voter Photo ID Bill Up For House Vote, Maybe!"

Texas Legislative Study Group Recommends against Voter Photo Identification (Report PDF)

Here is the Texas House video streams link page, if you want to watch when the House gavels in at 10AM Saturday morning.

Investments In Clean Energy - Good For America, Good For Texans!

Race car driver and environmental activist
Leilani M√ľnter visits one of the largest wind
farms in the world, NextEra Energy's wind
turbine farm outside of Abilene, Texas

Denton Municipal Electric (DME), the City of Denton's municipally-owned electric utility, has entered into a multi-year power purchase agreement to purchase renewable energy from NextEra Energy Resources, LLC ("NextEra").

NextEra owns and operates the Wolf Ridge Wind Farm located northwest of Muenster, Texas and is the largest generator of wind and solar renewable energy in North America.

Beginning May 1, 2009, NextEra will sell green energy to DME to supply its customers' long-term power needs and meet the utility's renewable energy objectives. This agreement will provide Denton with approximately 60 megawatts of renewable energy that comprises about 40% of its energy portfolio on an average monthly basis.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act Thursday night. This legislation, if passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama will facilitate more investment in clean energy and reductions in global warming pollution as is now happening in Denton Texas.

Not only did the bill clear a major hurdle on Thursday night--moving out of committee and closer toward the House floor. But it did so with the backing of lawmakers representing a wide range of energy needs. The bill has broad support from many environmental, business, labor, and other organizations.
Oh, and by the way, you've no doubt heard that the Republican National Committee just voted to recognize "that the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals." Denton Municipal Electric, the City of Denton's "government owned" electric utility, is a classic example of a socialist government in practice. Last time I checked, Denton was still a very Republican city in a very Republican county. Read Glenn Melancon's "Socialist Ghosts" posting in this blog.

Healthcare Reform - The Battle Of Words A memo from Republican strategist Dr. Frank Luntz lays out Republican talking points to dismantle arguments for to giving all Americans access to quality health care. Dr. Luntz, the man who developed language designed to promote preemptive war in Iraq and distract from the severity of global warming, is at it again -- this time with a messaging strategy designed to sink our historic opportunity for health care reform. - Democratic strategist Paul Begala “is circulating a point-by-point rebuttal of GOP consultant Frank Luntz’s widely read strategy memo on health care.” The memo urges “congressional Democrats to push back hard against ‘Republican Orwellian rhetoric.’” “Because they know they cannot win the argument honestly, Republicans are resorting to mendacity,” Begala wrote in the memo. “Democrats must not let them get away with it.”

Related Postings:

Republicans Block Appointment Of Judicial Nominee Due To Ruling Upholding Separation Of Church And State

Bloomberg reports today that Republicans are blocking U.S. Senate committee action on President Barack Obama’s first judicial appointment, attacking the nominee for rulings supporting separation of church and state.

Parents Battle Over Bibles "Offered" To Students In Frisco Public Schools

Updated Friday May 22, 2009 at 9:34AM - From the Dallas Morning News:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has launched an investigation into the distribution of religious materials in the Frisco ISD as well as the Marshall, Plano, Westwood (Palestine), Wichita Falls and Wylie (Abilene) districts. This follows the Bible hand-out by Gideons International at Frisco secondary schools last week.

Lisa Graybill, the ACLU of Texas' legal director said, "What we are looking at is excessive entanglement and coercion. . . When a school invites them into the classroom and allows them to walk down the aisles, they are endorsing rather than just making the material available."
Is the ACLU of Texas' going far enough in its investigation? Religious instruction in Texas public schools is not limited to school districts allowing organizations to "offer" Bibles to student in the schools.

According to a report (PDF Full/Summary) released in February by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) some Texas schools mix religious instruction and Bible study in their sex education programs. From the TFN Report Summary:
"Far too often in Texas, public schools betray the trust of families by forcing religious instruction with which they may not agree on students in their sexuality education. According to materials returned for this report, 9.5 percent of Texas secondary school districts include inappropriate religious content in their sexuality education instruction.

Consider a handout used by one district entitled: “Things to look for in a mate.”
How they relate to God (page 44 of the full report)
  1. Is Jesus their first love?
  2. Trying to impress people or serve God?
Another district turned over a series of what appear to be student handouts that lay out a scriptural case for abstinence from sexual activity. (page 41-42 of the full report)
Question: “What does the Bible say about sex before marriage / premarital sex?”

Answer: Along with all other kinds of sexual immorality, sex before marriage / premarital sex is repeatedly condemned in Scripture (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7).
See previous posting: Obama's 2010 Budget Eliminates Federal Funding For Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

Originally posted Saturday May 16, 2009 - Gideon volunteers have visited Frisco school campuses to "offer" Bibles to students as part Frisco ISD's policy that permits the religious group in Frisco schools. Frisco ISD policy says non-school literature is allowed as long as it doesn't "attack ethnic, religious or racial groups, interfere with school activities or the rights of others." Read the full story at the Dallas Morning News.

Voter Photo ID Bill Up For House Vote, Maybe!

Update Friday May 22, 2009 7:30AM: SB 362, the Voter ID bill, has been scheduled on the House Daily Calendar for floor debate on Saturday - that's tomorrow. The decision by the Republican controlled Calendars Committee last night to schedule the Voter ID bill for floor debate ahead of debating the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Sunset bill, clean air bill and transporting guns to work bill dares Democrats to run out the clock on those important bills by running out the session clock to stop the Voter ID bill.
Take Action: Ask your state Representative in the House to vote NO on SB 283. Click Here to find your State Representative's contact information.
Original Posting Wednesday May 20, 2009: State Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, who remarked, "Asians should change their names to make them ‘easier for American [election workers] to deal with," as the House Election Committee heard public comment on the bill earlier this session, had planned to hold a midday press conference Wednesday. Brown plans to try to amend SB 362, as soon as it is called to the House floor, to make photo identification at the polls an absolute requirement.

The Senate's bill allows voters to present either a government photo ID, such as a driver’s license, or two non-photo documents, such as a voter registration card and a water bill, at the polls.
Nearly 60 House Democrats held their own press conference in advance of Rep. Brown's press conference and suggested a donnybrook may ensue on the House floor if Republican House leaders (i.e. House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio) allow SB 362 to advance to the House floor.

Bear in mind, while Republicans officially control the House, 76 Republicans to 74 Democrats, that as long as House Speaker Straus continues the tradition of not voting on legislation, any straight partisan vote will be a 74-74 tie, on which legislation fails to pass, while Rep. Ed Kuempel (R) remains sidelined in the Hospital. Speaker Straus has already said he has no plans of voting on the Voter ID bill, plus, two House Republicans, Reps. Tommy Merritt of Longview and Delwin Jones of Lubbock, sided with Democrats against a similar bill in the 2007 legislative session. Neither Republican has announced a change in position this year.

It is notable that only 71 of the 76 House Republicans recently signed a "statement of principles" letter calling for the restrictive photo ID measure.

The deadline for Senate-originating bills to be taken up on the House floor is midnight next Tuesday May 26th. It will very likely be scheduled for the House floor, but it depends on the House Calendars Committee. The Calendars Committee is made up of 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats with Republican Brian McCall in the chairman's seat and Democratic Eddie Luio III in the Vice-Chair seat. No doubt this Republican heavy committee will vote the voter ID bill to the House floor by May 26, unless, that is, Speaker Straus has a quiet word with committee chairman McCall. (Track SB362 progress in the legislature -- Check the House Calendar)

House Democrats maintain that:
Requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID to vote is a flawed solution to a made-up problem. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott spent $1.4 million in a two year investigation attempting to locate voter ID fraud and failed to identify anything more than 26 cases where people forgot to sign and address the absentee ballot envelope.

Republican maneuvering has every appearance of a disparate scheme devised to stack the deck in favor of Republicans in the 2010 legislative elections. Republicans are anxious to maintain control of the Texas House and Senate to give them the upper hand in the federal and state redistricting decisions that the Legislature is scheduled to make in 2011 following the 2010 U.S. census.
The Texas photo Voter ID bill is part of the Republican agenda to keep Republicans in office by suppressing the vote of groups that tend to vote Democratic. In the 10 states that have already passed voter picture ID laws, voter participation is down about 3 percent. However, black and Hispanic voter participation is down more than 10 percent in those states. The success of Democratic voter registration drives among these Texas groups in 2008 threatens to tip the balance of power away from Republican candidates in future elections. As the tide of Democratic voters continues to grow across Texas, voter ID legislation would be an effective way for Republicans to hold back the tide.
It is notable that only 71 of the 76 House Republicans recently signed a "statement of principles" letter calling for the restrictive photo ID measure. To date, most of the 74 House Democrats oppose a restrictive voter photo ID requirement, but Rep. Joe Heflin, a Democrat on the House elections committee who voted for the voter Id bill in committee, has reportedly said he is leaning toward supporting a photo ID law. Rep. David Farabee's (D-Wichita Falls) has also comment that he could support a voter ID bill that had a phase-in period.

There's another wild card - the possibility that Gov. Perry will call a special session of the legislature, after the regular session adjourns, should the legislature not pass the most important issue facing Texans.

The advantage for Perry in calling a special session is that it gives him another 30 days to pander to his base, as well as the chance to pick up Democrat bashing talking points, like voter ID, that fall victim to the calendar.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Speaking of Creationist Don McLeroy's Possible Sentate Confirmation As Chairman Of The State Board of Education

Related to previous posting "TX Senate Not To Confirm Creationist Don McLeroy As Chairman Of The State Board of Education, Or Maybe They Will"
KERA: Texas Schools Lag Behind in Bioscience Education (May 19, 2009)
Bioscience is big business in Texas. And it's growing at a rapid clip. A study last week said the life sciences industry injected 75-billion dollars into the state's economy last year and supported well over 200 thousand jobs. But a new national report comparing science education in public schools across the country puts Texas near the bottom of the pack. The state-by-state study of bio-science education in America, referencing data from the U.S. Department of Education, shows Texas ranked 41st on science and biology scores.
Texas Freedom Network:
Breaking: McLeroy Nomination Moves!

In a surprise meeting on the Senate floor, the Senate Nominations Committee in Austin has just approved the appointment of Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. It appears that McLeroy’s supporters plan to bring his confirmation to the full Senate early next week. Confirmation will require a two-thirds vote.

Committee Chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, had said he would not bring up McLeroy’s confirmation for a vote in committee unless he thought there were enough votes to get it in the full Senate. We don’t know at this point whether opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans has softened, but the signs are alarming.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s critical that you contact your senator and tell him or her that you oppose McLeroy’s confirmation. You can find the name and contact information for your senator here.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller has released the following statement:
“If the Texas Senate genuinely cares about quality public education, they will reject as state board chairman a man who apparently agrees that parents who want to teach their kids about evolution are monsters. And we’ll see whether senators really want a chairman who presides over a board that is so focused on ‘culture war’ battles that it has made Texas look like an educational backwater to the rest of the country.”
Gov. Perry appointed McLeroy board chairman in July 2007. Since then, the board has turned debates over language arts and science curriculum standards in “culture war” battlegrounds. Chairman McLeroy has also endorsed a book that says parents who want to teach children about evolution are “monsters” and calls clergy who see no conflict between faith and science “morons.” This spring McLeroy led other creationists on the state board in adopting new science curriculum standards that call the scientific consensus on evolution into question and no longer include references to scientific estimates of the age of the universe.

Sen. Cornyn: GOP Keeping Hutchison's Senate Seat Republican Is "No Slam Dunk"

Dallas Morning News:
Tx Sen. John Cornyn, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has speculated in the last week that Senate colleague Kay Bailey Hutchison would quit the Senate in the fall to focus on a run for governor. Cornyn said this morning that replacing her with a Republican will require "a real race" and "certainly not a walk."
"Texas is marginally a red state, but not a slam dunk," Cornyn said at a breakfast with reporters this morning. "There are strong candidates on the Democratic side, people like Bill White, the mayor of Houston, people like John Sharp, who are running and running hard."
The problem is nobody, with the possible exception of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, knows for sure when or if she will vacate her Senate seat to run against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry for the Governor's Mansion.

There are now six people gearing up for a run to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat. Plus, there are at least five or six more that have been rumored to be considering throwing their hat in the ring for that race too.

A special election would likely be held in November 2009 if Hutchison resigns her U.S. Senate seat before September 28, 2009. If she resigns late in 2009, the special election to fill her senate seat would instead be scheduled for May 2010. Hutchison's resignation timing has a huge impact on when and how the six people gearing up to run for Hutchison's can themselves actually stand for election - but that's a story for another day.

Help Teens Get Accurate Health Information

Updated Thursday May 21, 2009 - Efforts to amend SB283, that deals with state health advisory councils, with language that would require "medically-accurate" information be taught in sex-ed classes in Texas public schools failed Wednesday afternoon. Republican lawmakers used a technicality to kill the "medically-accurate information" amendment. Debate on the amendment focused on the issue of providing information on condoms and their success vs failure rates at preventing unplanned pregnancies and STD infections. In the abstinence-only sex ed curriculum, condoms, if mentioned at all, are often described as ineffective and their use is discouraged.

After the "medically-accurate information" amendment defeat, House Democrats decided to not offer a second amendment that would've kept sex ed teachers from dissuading sexually active students from using contraception.

Democratic Rep. Mark Strama's amendment to notify parents about the content of their children's sex ed curriculum did pass, however, and SB 283 passed to third reading. SB 283 requires local ISD school health advisory councils or SHACs, to meet at least four times a year.

Original posting Tuesday May 19, 2009 at 8:02PM - What should Texas students learn about sex in schools? It's a thorny issue lawmakers may be forced to vote on on Wednesday.

A bill, SB283, dealing with state health advisory councils is likely to be amended Wednesday by Texas House lawmakers whose standalone sex-ed reform bills were stalled in committee. The amendments will require "medically-accurate" information be taught in sex-ed classes and that parents be informed of what their kids are learning in school.

Lawmakers who say the state's current abstinence-only sex ed policy isn't working are pushing for the amendments as a step toward reducing the state's high teen birth rate and the healthcare costs that stem from it.

"Teen pregnancy is really a social problem, very destructive, it's the first problem that many other social ills cascade from," said state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio.

The amendments aren't strong enough to change the abstinence-only policy, but attempt to make sure what's taught under the policy isn't bogus information. The bill to watch Wednesday is SB 283.

Texas receives more federal abstinence-only education funding than any other state in the country, yet Texas has the nation’s third-highest teen pregnancy rate. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) a Texas teen gets pregnant every 10 minutes.

According to a report (PDF Full/Summary) released in February by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) a majority of Texas schools use scare tactics and teach false information in their sex education classes. TFN's two-year study of education materials from 990 Texas school districts showed that about 94 percent of public schools use abstinence-only programs that usually pass moral judgments while giving inaccurate information on contraception and health screenings or ignoring the subjects altogether.

A recent, a large federal 2008 study, again confirms previous studies in its finding that abstinence eduction that tell teens to "just say no to sex" is not as effective as comprehensive sex education. "Taking a [abstinence] pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior, but it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking," according to Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ms. Rosenbaum's report, that appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, highlights that:
Teenagers who receive abstinence-only sex education and pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a large federal survey released last month.
Take Action: Ask your state Representative in the House to support amendments that Reps. Castro and Villarreal will offer during the debate on SB 283. Click Here to find your State Representative's contact information.

Socialist Ghosts

By Glenn Melancon
2008 Democratic candidate
U.S. House of Representatives,
TX 4th Congressional District
[ "Resolved, that we the members of the Republican National Committee recognize that the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals," reads the resolution.]

Clever politicians have turned socialism into a frightening ghost. It has replaced terrorism as the catchall phrase. Should we get our pitch forks and kill this really scary monster? Maybe, but be careful what you kill. You might just kill a friend.

Socialism simply means public ownership of property. No more. No less. Governments turned to socialism when capitalism, privately owned businesses, couldn’t deliver a necessary product or service at an affordable cost.

For example, the Federal government used socialism to electrify the rural south. Projects like the Denison dam or the Tennessee Valley Authority absorbed the huge upfront costs of bringing affordable energy to sparsely populated regions of America. Capitalists preferred the customer rich cities. Socialism not only brought economic diversity to the South but also improved our quality of life.

Closer to home, we use socialism to deliver public education. Just a few years ago Sherman tried capitalism in one school. The Edison Project was all the rage at the time. After a couple of years, the project failed, and it cost the tax payers about $1 million to clean up the mess.

Socialism also provides a valuable safety net for our senior citizens. Social Security and Medicare are public institutions, not private, and most seniors are pleased with the services. Even though they are not perfect, Social Security and Medicare has provided peace of mind. In 1959 the poverty rate for Americans over 65 was approximately 35%. Today it has dropped to 10%. That is a success.

Capitalists have also benefited from socialism. Farmers, some of the most independent minded Americans, would struggle even more if all tax payers didn’t provide Farm to Market and county roads. Before governments took over road building, farmers had to make and maintain the roads themselves. We know that private road building stunts economic growth and publicly owned roads benefit us all.

Socialism appears in unexpected places. Every community bank and depositor relies on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to protect their investments. The FDIC sells affordable insurance as well as making sure bankers are conservative with our money. Where would we be today if AIG had provided this service?

We also rely on socialism for our Fire, Police and Defense Departments. The brave men and women who protect and serve us in times of crisis don’t work in a for-profit enterprise. They do, however, ensure that capitalists enjoy the freedom and security necessary for growth.

So, where is this scary ghost that politicians call “socialism”? Not in America. Not even in America’s past. You have to look across the oceans. The ghost’s name was Joseph Stalin, a communist dictator who terrorized and murdered millions. The Soviet Union lacked both a constitutional and democratic process to keep Stalin in check. Instead, he used torture, internal spies and lies as tools to increase his personal power. There is no “Stalin” in America’s future. With all our flaws, America is still strong.

Who are the scary American socialists then? Well, do you support public schools? Do you think we need to keep Social Security and Medicare? Do you believe we are safer with publicly operated Fire, Police and Defense Departments? Do you want to keep roads in the hands of state, county and federal government instead of private corporations? If you do, then you should look in the mirror. You might be a socialist. Are you scared yet?

Green News Audio Report - 5/19

One step forward and two steps back for climate change politics. All that and more in this "Green News Audio Report" from BradBlog. Download MP3 (6 mins), or
listen online here...

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine,The Eyes Of The DNC Are Upon Texas

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Gov. Tim Kaine made a swing through North Texas Wednesday to meet and greet Organizing for North Texas volunteers at the Iron Cactus in downtown Dallas.

Read the full writeup about his visit at the

While DNC Chair Kaine was in the area, Shawn Stevens, former Democratic Party of Collin County Vice Chair, asked Kaine to encourage President Obama to produce a short video vignette for distribution to North Texas activists to emphasize the importance of their continued involvement in local politics and party support. Stevens says, "DNC Chair Kaine liked the idea and said he would take it back for consideration."

Organizing for North Texas is a grassroots group that works with Organizing for America (OFA) in the DFW area. Organizing for America, the legacy successor to Obama's 2008 campaign organization, is now operated by the DNC.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

TX Senate Not To Confirm Creationist Don McLeroy As Chairman Of The State Board of Education, Or Maybe They Will

Update Wednesday May 20, 2009 - He's back - Chairman Don McLeroy got his once-imperiled nomination approved by the Senate Nominations committee this afternoon in a 4-2 vote. Lobbying effort's have apparently been under way for weeks - it worked. McLeroy's nomination could reach the full Senate for debate and a vote by Monday or Tuesday.

Senate confirmation of Don McLeroy, as chairman of the State Board of Education, is dead in the water, according to the Senate Nominations Committee chairman. (

McLeroy, a dentist, was first appointed board chairman by Republican Governor Rick Perry in the summer of 2007. Young earth creationist McLeroy, recently reappointed as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) by Gov. Perry, believes Texas students should be taught the earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old and that modern man and dinosaurs walk the earth together.

Texas State Senate Nominations Committee Chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, said that McLeroy's nomination will be left pending in committee because there is enough opposition on the floor of the Senate to block his confirmation, which requires approval of two-thirds of the senators. Senate Democrats alone could stop McLeroy's confirmation, but Republicans, too, have taken issue with the board.

McLeroy will keep his seat as a board member even if he was not confirmed as board chairman. Perry would then appoint a chairman from among the other board members who would not face Senate confirmation until 2011. Perry will likely continue to pander to the evangelical base of Texas Republicans and simply appoint one of the other creationists currently sitting on the board of education who also opposes teaching evolution in Texas school science class rooms.
Perry is playing politics with Texas Students - Perry's anti-Washington secessionist rhetoric and pandering on a range of right-wing social issues, including teaching creationism in Texas schools, is clearly working with the Texas Republican base. Perry is trying to woo the right-wing base away from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) who will oppose Perry in the 2010 GOP primary next March.

An internal poll from Perry's campaign finds Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) beating him in a Republican primary now by just 45% to 39%. A more recent Rasmussen poll shows Perry passing Hutchison 42% to 38% in the last month. Hutchison was far ahead of Perry just a few months ago.
The Texas House of Representatives approved a constitutional amendment in late April that would move the decisions about the $17.5 billion Permanent School Fund away from the state board of education to an appointed council of financial professionals. Plus, a bipartisan group of Texas State Senators introduced a bill to take away the elected board's authority over curriculum and textbooks.

The high-profile, bloody curriculum battles and controversial comments from creationist board members has Texas legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, in the mood to leave the state board of education headless and toothless after this session. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Texas legislature will have time to actually take up these measures by the time the session adjourns on June 1st.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stem Cell Prohibition Stripped From Texas Budget

The controversial budget rider prohibiting state dollars from going to medical research using embryonic stem cells, which was strongly supported by Gov. Perry, won't make it into the final version of the budget bill. Gov. Perry has been touting his support of legislation to eliminate stem cell research from Texas to religious-right conservative groups in the run up to his primary election face-off with Kay Bailey Hutchison. More at The Statesman. . .

Perry Adviser Likens Hutchison's Campaign Camp To A "Whorehouse"

Women supporting Kay Bailey Hutchison's run for the Texas governor's mansion are demanding an apology from Rick Perry for remarks that they say disparage women. In a letter to the Perry camp, the women accuse political adviser Dave Carney of likening Hutchison's campaign camp to a "whorehouse." Read more in the DMN

As if Perry hasn't been prostituting himself to religious social-conservatives with his high-profile support for a "Choose Life" license plate motto, high-profile criticism of "Washington" and Obama's economic stimulus legislation, refusal of federal stimulus money for jobless benefits, conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh to move to Texas, teaching only "abstinence" sex education in Texas schools, teaching creation in public schools by appointing a young earth (earth age only 6,000 years) creationist as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education and preventing stem cell research in Texas.

Republicans Eliminating The Straight Party Vote Option

The Republican authored bill (SB 317) that would limit voters' choices by denying them the ability to cast a straight party vote was placed on the Senate intent calendar today. (During a regular session, a bill or joint resolution may be brought up for floor debate out of its regular order by filling a notice of intent the secretary of the senate.) So, SB 317 is up for debate and a possible vote on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Texas voters, both Democrats and Republicans, have already sent a message to Texas legislators that they oppose SB 317 by voting the straight party option in record numbers during the last election. Yet, Republican proponents of this legislation suggest that a voter who casts a straight party ticket is somehow making a less educated choice than a voter who makes their selections one race at a time.

Call your State Senators and let them know you want to keep your straight party vote option. Ironically, in Collin County, Republican voters choose to cast a straight party vote in greater numbers than Democrats.

Click Here to find your State Senator's contact information.

GPS System Left To Age into Failure By Lack Of Reinvestment

Network of GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as 2010 - another legacy of the Bush presidency operating under the conservative philosophy of governance; Government can never provide for the common good of its citizens, so why make the effort to make it work? Better to just cut taxes and hope someone else will take care of it!

It has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life and warfare: using satellite navigation tools built into cars, mobile phones and the military's smart bombs. According to a study by the US government accountability office (GAO), mismanagement and a lack of investment means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year. The report says that Air Force officials [which includes the chain of command up to President Bush] have failed to execute the necessary reinvestment planning to replace 20-year-old GPS satellites as they reach the end of their expected service live.
"It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption," said the report, presented to Congress. "If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected."
Russia, India and China are deploying satellite navigation systems that could surpass the U.S. system as the commercial standard for GPS devices. So, under the conservative philosophy of governance that dictates - it's better to just cut taxes and hope someone else will take care of it - turns out Russia, India and China is that someone else! And that's good for National Security?
Read More. . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hutchison-Perry Governor's Office Race Shows The GOP's Struggle For Identity

The Hutchison-Perry governor's office race is viewed as a test of whether the GOP's social-conservative wing will shape the party's future. DMN: March 2010 Texas primary could define GOP future:
"You've got a very hard case to make that Kay Bailey Hutchison wouldn't be the stronger [November 2010] general election candidate," said Charles Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report. "To me, she projects moderation, which is great – except in a Republican primary."

Perry has the clear advantage in the March primary, Cook said. Recent GOP primaries have averaged around 650,000 voters, and religious conservatives have dominated the outcome.

Hutchison [is not popular with religious social-conservatives because she] supports embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights, though she backs restrictions on abortion such as a ban on federal funding for organizations that perform abortion and a ban on late-term procedures.
Perry has been making a focused effort to appeal to the religious social-conservatives with his high-profile support for a "Choose Life" license plate motto, high-profile criticism of "Washington" and Obama's economic stimulus legislation, refusal of federal stimulus money for jobless benefits, conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh to move to Texas, teaching only "abstinence" sex education in Texas schools, teaching creation in public schools by appointing a young earth (earth age only 6,000 years) creationist as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education and preventing stem cell research in Texas.

Hutchison likely will not win the GOP primary next March unless she can convince independents go to their polling place, ask for the Republican primary election ballot (rather than the Democratic Primary ballot) and mark that ballot for Hutchison. "You can't win a major race without the independents, and independents are leaving the Republican Party." says Galen, a GOP political consultant, as quoted in the DMN article.

So, "the big question" for the March 2010 primary is, can Hutchison motivate enough independents to get out the vote for her? And, if they don't vote for Hutchison, will they just stay home or will they vote for one of the Democratic primary candidates for governor? All that likely depends on whether a strong Democratic candidate emerges for the governor's race. (It is not clear that "strong" Democrat has yet announce for the governor's race.) Even nine months out from when primary early voting starts in February 2010 there seems to be little doubt that Republican conservatives will be motivated enough to not only get out and vote for Perry, but also work to help get out the vote for him.

Related links:

Perry: I Don't Advocate Secession

Gov. Rick Perry, in an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, claims he never advocated or supported the idea or possibility of secession at last month’s tea part anti-tax rallies. Read Perry's op-ed at the Austin American-Statesman.

Last month Gov. Perry so incited an anti-tax "tea party" with his anti-Washington and states' rights rhetoric that the audience began to shout, "Secede!" "We've got a great union," Perry said,
"There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it - But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. "
This was less than a week after Perry appeared with sponsors and supporters of a Texas House resolution affirming the state's claim of sovereignty. Later, in response to reporters' questions, Perry said,

"At some point Texans might get so fed up they would want to secede from the union. There's a lot of different scenarios. ...if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that..."
Perry added that when Texas entered the union in 1845 it was with the understanding it could pull out. Perry got that wrong, however; Texas negotiated the power to divide into five additional states at some point, but Texas did not reserve the right to secede.

President Obama’s Notre Dame Commencement Speech

As Catholics and pro-life activists protested President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech, the President reminded people that a woman's right to choice, or not, is a serious issue and opposing opinions may never agree, but the debate should focus on facts and the difficult decisions faced by women:
“So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.” Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 and Part 4

AP transcript of Obama’s Notre Dame speech

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Chairperson Of The Denton County Democratic Party

Phyllis Wolper last week was elected to serve as the new Chairperson of the Denton County Democratic Party.

Ms Wolper, a Denton real estate agent who replaces Neil Durrance after he resigned to prepare for his 2010 run for Congress, has been active with the Denton County Party for the last 3 years.

Ms Wolper also founded and served as President of the Democratic Business Referral Club, and was the Chairperson of the Business Outreach committee of the Denton County Democratic Party.

Phyllis ran a tough, but unsuccessful race for one of the Denton County Commissioner precincts in 2008.

A Discussion With Collin County Commissioners' Court Judge, Keith Self

On Monday, May 18, from 6:45 to 9 P.M. the Texas Democratic Women of Collin County (TDWCC) will host guest speaker Collin County Commissioners' Court Judge, Keith Self.

Judge Self will discuss the workings of the Collin County Commissioners' Court and answer questions from the audience.

The Texas Constitution vests broad judicial and administrative powers in the position of County Commissioners' Court Judge, who presides over a five-member Commissioner's Court. Four Commissioners, each elected to a commissioners precinct representing approximately a quarter of the county's population, serve with the Presiding County Judge on the Commissioners Court. Judge Keith Self is the Presiding Commissioners' Court Judge for Collin County.

The Commissioners' Court approves the annual budget and all county expenditures, sets the county property tax rates, approves the tax roll and determines public works policy such as building programs and conducting elections. The court appoints most non-elected department heads and standing committees and represents the county in state and regional matters. Members of the court also serve as Trustees of the Collin County Health Care Foundation, Collin County Housing Finance Corporation, and the Collin County Substance Abuse Foundation.

Advanced questions for Judge Self may be submitted by e-mail to TDWCC Programs Chairperson, Prissy Wisnewski at '' Questions will be compiled prior to the meeting so that Judge Self can cover as many topics and questions as possible.

All are welcome to attend on Monday, May 18, from from 6:45 to 9 P.M. at Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. Frisco, in the Founders Hall building, Rm F249 for an interesting evening of conversation with Judge Keith Self.

The four county commissioners vote with the presiding county judge to:
  • Set the yearly property tax rate;
  • Approve the budget and employment level for the county;
  • Set commissioners and justice of the peace precinct boundaries;
  • Call, conducts and certifies elections, including bond elections;
  • Set employment and benefit policy;
  • Establish long-range thoroughfare, open space, land use, financial and law enforcement/jail needs plans;
  • Acquire property for rights-of-way or other uses determined to be in the public's best interest;
  • Review and approve subdivision platting and waste water treatment for rural areas;
  • Provide rural ambulance services and subsidizes rural fire protection;
  • Oversee the construction, maintenance and improvement of county roads and bridges;
  • Appoint non-elected department heads and standing committees;
  • Supervise and controls the county courthouse, county buildings and facilities;
  • Adopt a county budget;
  • Determine county tax rates;
  • Assure that county roads are maintained;
  • Fill vacancies in elective and appointive positions; and
  • Exorcise exclusive authority to authorize contracts in the name of the county.