Thursday, January 26, 2006

As below, so above? The "Texanization" of American politics.

Alot of the criticisms that have been leveled at the Bush administration ( cronyism, no bid contracts, catering to special interests) in Texas are just buisness as usual. Let me give you one really good example. You may have noticed that your credit card bill went up by 50%+. W proposed that himself. And guess which three companies contributed millions to his campaign? MBNA, Wachovia Corp, Bank of America and Citibank.

MBNA donated over 600,000( MBNA's CEO donated over 90,000 personally in addition to coporate donations), Wachovia 275,000, Bank of America 218,000, Credit Suisse of Boston 330,000, and Citigroup 320,000.

I wish I could find that link I had but the long and short of it was last year one of our state reps (D) proposed a bill that would forbid and city from offerring high speed wireless internet service for free or as a utility. Which one has to admit seems like an odd thing to do UNTIL I went digging into his campaign finances and discovered that Time Warner, SBC, and Cox were three of his largest campaign contributors. And this is just one little example of Texas' politicians selling out their constiuency to corporate interests. If you read the papers in Texas it pervades the political system in both parties.

Normally this would be called a conflict of interest. But in Texas its called buisness as usual and now that there's a Texan in the White House you're seeing the macrocosm mirror the microcosm.

It is truly sad that ethics have taken a back seat in politics. I believe Tom Delay summed it up when he said, "It wasn't illegal when we did it.". Illegal no, unethical yes. But what passes for ethics in Texas politics and national politics these days would make a loanshark uncomfortable.

And this sort of behaviour is exactly why Kinky Friedman, an independent candidate with no real experience in law or politics, is actually able to give the party financed candidates a real run for their money. Kinky is more of a statement of what voters are against than what the people are for. It'd be great for him to win for one reason; To watch both parties scramble to figure out what they did wrong. Because if an independent can wrest Texas from Republican control anything becomes possible in the House elections. Libertarians, Reformers, and Greens oh my!


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Day Care Shooting

I'm not a big believer in federal laws for handgun control as criminals tend to disregard them.
However I am a believer in gun regulation on a state level and here's why...

State's could require IQ tests (never going to happen), gun safety aptitude tests, and proof of purchase of a trigger lock before allowing a person to own a gun. Does any state require any of those? No. They do require aptitude tests for concealed carry permits though. I think making it mandatory to buy a trigger lock in order to buy a gun has significant merit.

And here's a novel law I read about a few years ago. A city (I forget which one) outlawed the ownership and sale all handguns under .38 caliber. What does that boil down to? You can own and sell handguns, you you just can't own or sell cheap little handguns (note: Most Derringers are .45 caliber). That law was never even challenged by the NRA.

Rather than turning schools and day cares into fortresses lets start where the problem really lies a few bad gun dealers and alot of stupid people.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Problem and Solution Update

So while I was busy working on the proposal to the Sierra Club I came up with a way to fund my proposal and that is this: The creation of a Conservation Impact Fee on building permits. The fee would be based on the total square footage of the buiding project. How's that for an idea?

So then I suggested that the state coordinating group of the Sierra Club compile a list of hunting clubs, fishing clubs, gun clubs, birdwatching groups, and environmental organizations along with the contact emails of their current leader. Then they contact the following two organizations Republicans for Environmental Protection and The Audubon Society and enlist their aid on this project. The list is then split up 3 ways REP contacts the gun, hunting and fishing clubs, The Sierra Club contacts the Environmental groups, and the Audubon Society the birders and enlist their aid in an E-Campaign to promote my idea. We'll have a site for Pennies for Parks set up so that visitors can email or fax the Governor, Ttate Senator and Reps. Info on the campaign will go on everyone's web site and in everyone's newsletter. And voila! An insane amount of support for the Department of Parks and Wildlife with no real money spent. Tada!

Once a year I have a really great idea. Lets hope this one comes to fruition.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Problem and Solution

We got our copy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine and inside on the very first page is a sort of State of the State Parks Address and the long and short of it boils down to this:
1: They get this much money at the beginning of the year: 51 million dollars

2: They pay back this much money in entry fees and sales per year: 32 million

3: Actual cost to the state per year: 19 million dollars for 124 parks and historical sites

4: Which averages out to a cost of 170,000 per park per year or 1 cent per park per Texan

5: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept had to fire 39 employees and eliminate 40 open positions this year due to budget constraints.

Texas ranks 48th or 49th in Park spending.

One Penny Per Park? What a bargain! I mean if I have a Park pass (60$ per year) I can visit every single state park and historcal site in texas at a cost of 61.24$ to me. However I have a son so it costs him a about a buck and a quarter too. So that's 62.48$ as park passes covers everyone in the car.

I'd pay two bucks a year in addition to the parks pass. Hell I'd cut them a two dollar check right now! And I can't think of anyone I know (including die hard Republicans who only own red ties and wear them to work every day) that wouldn't. That'd be a 61% increase in their budget.

Now lets see who I can talk into starting a Pennies for Parks grassroots lobbying campaign.

First up the state chapter of the Sierra Club and then Kinky Firiedman. Why Kinky? Why not?

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Moved from another blog of mine

Another problem with having a blog for me at least is its so hard to narrow down what to rant about first. We are living in interesting times. I'll start off with something small and simple and begin ranting tomorrow. "Never do today what you can outsource tomorrow.", thats my all American motto. So until tomorrow enjoy this previously viewed on another blog tame political post:

read a fair amount of enviroblogs regularly. And one thing I am getting tired of is how most of them lump all Republicans and conservatives in with “the radical right”. First its inaccurate, second its misleading. Third its unwise. Its inaccurate for several reasons; 1) Most Americans feel very strongly about two or three key issues and tend to vote for candidates that they feel will represents them on those issues. That doesn’t make them radicals. 2) There are many different types of conservatives and Republicans. Including non Republican conservatives.

The inaccuracy is misleading in that all it does it paint a black and white picture of the political landscape. And politics is rarely ever black and white. Additionally it helps to promote an us vs them mind set which is one of the last things we need. But maybe this is a reflection of the mind set of environmental leaders.

Finally its unwise because environmental leaders need to make new allies wherever they can. Want to shoot down a budget full of logging and oil subsidies? Fiscal conservatives are against those. Want to pass a bill to strengthen environmental protections? Many conservative evangelicals are for that. I probably just confused you on that last one. There’s a really fascinating interview in Grist with the VP of the National Association of Evangelicals (which is here) about their view on the environment.

Environmental leaders should be building new inroads and making new allies whenever and wherever possible. Not alienating moderates and other potential allies.

And so it begins:

Having a blog means that I am required to say something. I can handle that. The tricky part is saying something that no one else is saying on 100 other blogs. So here goes nothing…

I have a laundry list of problems with the current administration but one of the few I have that hasn’t been beaten to death by everyone else is this. I hate the way they pay lip service to certain theories, beliefs, and ideals like:

Free Market Economics
I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard someone in the White House say the words “free market”. Free market economics is zero government interference in business at all. And the administration uses this theory to justify getting rid of regulations and laws that restrict corporate profits (usually at the public’s expense). However they never get rid of the subsidies they give the same industries they deregulate. (Examples: We’re paying to build the oil companies roads into ANWR as well as roads for the illegal logging in our national forests) The recent energy policy is an excellent example of this. And as any free market economist or anarcho-capitalist will tell you both have to go. They are just using it as a justification to pay back their campaign contributors.

How many commandments have we seen key members of the administration and Republican party break big time over the past 5 years? I’ll start: Thou shalt not lie. Example: Shrub saying he’d work to fix the global warming problem if he was elected.
If Bushy asked WWJD every time he made a decision we wouldn’t be in Iraq right now. We’d be peacekeeping in Sudan (as the situation there predates Gulf War 2). Now, keep in mind I’m not saying the Democrats are exactly virtuous but they didn’t win their constituency by courting evangelical Christians by taking the moral high road. Also they know as soon as they screw up they’ll be crucified by their opponents in a bid to take their seat to further consolidate their power. After all its what they would do. So they are keeping their noses clean just long enough to stay alive in the political arena. And when they are in power I’ll point out their faults too.

Culture of Life
The late Pope John Paul made brought that phrase into the public consciousness and I had no problem with his definition of it, as it was consistent: No abortions, no assisted suicide, no executions, and no wars. It has a logic to it. I believe he believed in it, worked for it and I could respect him for that. But we see a pro-war, pro-execution, and anti-choice (assisted suicide and abortion) administration bandying the phrase around like they copyrighted it. So that’s what? The Culture of Half Life? What kind of message is
” It’s Ok to kill them after they are born.”? (For a quick satirical example click here )And what’s really disturbing about it is the underlying theme of,” The people can’t decide who lives and who dies. That’s the federal governments job.” Funny I don’t see that power granted anywhere in the constitution.

Its lip service and enough of us bought it to keep them in power. And now that the administration doesn’t have to worry about elections again they are exploiting the people, the environment, and the country the same way they exploited our beliefs, our ideals, and our patriotism.

Ok, I’m done. That’s it. Love it or hate it at least you won’t find it anywhere else. I hope.