Mark Twain

"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress? But I repeat myself." Mark Twain

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rick Perry's Indictment

What is actually going on, (this is opinion now) is that Perry likely crossed the line of legality. My opinion, yes, but the national media hasn't gotten below the surface on this story and it's really deep water. The Public Integrity Unit is located in Travis County. Austin is where the legislature meets. Having it there, the  Public Integrity Unit, makes sense. Perry's threat, and he did follow through on it, (vetoing the funding for an agency with ongoing investigations,) at least one of which and possibly others, involve his actions is where politics and crossing that line of legality intersect. It's very possible an ongoing investigation, one involving Perry himself might have gone away had he been able to pick, ( I'm getting into speculations now) just the perfect Republican replacement for Rosemary Lehmberg. Forcing the resignation of a public 'elected' official, also reaching way back to an obscure Texas law to try do it, doing it possibly to protect his own hide, political career, and second possible presidential run, is where the national media gets lost in the hardball politics of Texas. There's also a lot more here that most media outlets have either missed, ignored, or have just done lazy reporting about. Republican elected district attorneys have received D.W.I.'s / D.U.I.'s and all that could be heard from Perry was the sound of silence. It's about how Perry has used and abused his political power and office. Although Perry may face no consequences for this, there is an iceberg as large as the one which sunk the Titanic below the surface of this story.



Rick Perry's Indictment

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

Texas Republicans, in recent election cycles, have dominated: state-wide offices, held majorities in the Texas Senate, controlled the Texas House and also many county offices. Paul Burka has a short commentary and also provides a link to a Politico story worth a look whatever political party you more closely identify with.

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

School finance system ruled unconstitutional again – Off the Kuff

Off the Kuff blog has some more details, opinions, possible political implications, and links concerning Thursday's  ruling that Texas's school finance system is unconstitutional.



School finance system ruled unconstitutional again – Off the Kuff

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional, by Morgan Smith

 It's very likely back to the drawing board to pay for educating Texas students and public education in Texas. This ruling can be appealed one last time however ever since Perry's 2006 Tax Plan education has been inadequately funded. There are other labels to the right which have to do with public education have more information about public education finance and issues having to do with its funding. It is important to note that even before the (unnecessary) 5.4 billion cut in funding in 2011 Texas schools have been operating on less and less money per pupil for years going back at least to 2007. 



Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional, by Morgan Smith

Thursday, August 14, 2014

It’s the Loyalty, Stupid

      "On W.M.D., Bombs, Conflicts, War, The Middle-East, Oil, Meddling, Religion & Greed"
(Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent those of any political party or person other than the author.)                            Kenneth D. Franks



First, I agree with Maureen Dowd on very little, if anything. What though was the starting point of this post was, "It's the Loyalty Stupid," an article by her in The New York Times this week. Yes, Maureen you had a point or two but stale ones and not enough of anything to write about to be paid for. This is just my humble opinion but I write for free and don't have to produce work. I write when I want to and don't have deadlines. Writing as a job might not be for me. Yes, Hillary Clinton lost to Barack Obama because of her vote, one vote. The vote for the authorization of force which lead to the attack on Iraq. He was against the war. He was right. She was wrong. Everyone's been wrong even about important things. George W. Bush let Richard "Dick" Cheney pick, Richard "Dick" Cheney for his Vice President. Now talk about a mistake. Hillary's more hawkish than the President but no Dick Cheney not close to John McCain.  McCain would likely have us in about 10 wars right now. Even Lindsey Graham likes wars almost as much as McCain especially on Sunday, and especially on television.
Ms. Clinton is going to run for President, Ms. Dowd had a deadline, questioning Ms. Clinton's loyalty to President Obama filled her allotted space until her next deadline.
For the record, I also didn't agree with most Dowd criticisms of George W. Bush either. Even when justified, the snark was just too much for my reading taste.
The Bush Administration before 9/11 was, 'well,' seemed well intentioned, at least. The President's intentions seemed to be well intentioned. Better relations with Mexico was a priority and compassionate conservation, even though I wasn't sure what it would mean, didn't sound offensive, compassion, conservative. Bush had been a decent governor in Texas working across the isle though the job isn't real demanding. Even Rick Perry faked it for about 5 years. He became entrenched by his 2006 39% landslide and he's been there, !FOREVER! it seems now. The image of the "Compassionate Conservative, was discarded after 9/11/2001 on the Christian calendar. Louie Gohmert who knows less about the Baptist tradition than myself,   uses, "In the Year of our Lord," whenever he can to show his religiosity. Somehow he became my Congressman. Charlie Wilson, now deceased, once was. That is a contrast to think about.
President Bush was first, comforter in-chief, but, "Cowboy Diplomacy quickly followed. Had we treated the 9/11 attack differently we might could have pursued and eventually obtained justice without two wars.
People around President Bush, think Cheney and his office, which in my opinion at times seemed like a shadow government, started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to invade Iraq within days if not hours of the attack. Remember the neoconservatives? It was this singular fixation with war in the long run that is at least partly responsible for the most serious danger to the Middle East and beyond, to date. The rise of The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It is a group that is a is a real danger. It's not Obama's fault although I'm beginning to wonder if American intelligence is an oxymoron. Shouldn't we have known more about this group sooner. Some of the chaos in the Middle-east simply has to do with the different versions of Islam. Much though goes back to the indiscriminate drawing of several countries lines with populations and ethnic groups being separated or combined by colonial powers. This is the fault of the West. The meddling happened a lot in the last century. It continued after World War II. and has happened in recent years. I once taught a class about differences between most Sunni followers of Islam and the majority of Shi'ite believers. When the Iraq invasion occurred I doubt many Americans even had a clue about Islam. The U.S. is again involved in Iraq and I mean right now. The fighting was supposed to be over. This time we aren't there for oil but for saving lives. For decades though it was the Middle-East's oil that kept us involved. Oil: the appetite for it, addiction to it, the wealth created by it, and the price of it was a major part of our foreign policy. Religion tells us that it's not money but the love of money is the root of all evil. The Christian Bible and other "Holy Books," remind us of this. It's the same with oil.
Here are just a few samples and examples of the tangled web of Near East and Middle Eastern entanglements of the last few decades. The long version would be a book so just stay with me for a few examples and samples from the last few decades.
Remember foreign relationships and affairs are complicated. Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the Wahhabi extremists which attacked the U.S.A. on 9/11: Individually and collectively were an offshoot group of the Mujahideen. The Mujahideen had been supported, as were Afghan natives containing various tribal groups by the U.S. through a complicated transfer of help through Pakistan to push the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980's. A good reference is the book, Charlie Wilson's War, by George Crile. Bin Laden however was no friend of the U.S. He hated the relationship between the U.S. and the Saudi Kingdom. He not only believed Israel didn't have the right to exist, his ultimate goal was to bleed the U.S. and Western powers to bankruptcy by involving them in foreign wars in the Middle East where he could pit Eastern Powers, (we will use Russia for an example here due to current events) yes, Eastern and Western powers at odds in Muslim countries. Pitting religions, cultures both East and West at odds and even war and hoping to radicalize Muslims to bend the world toward bin Laden's vision.
After the Soviets were pushed out, Afghanistan's rugged tribal regions occupied by (spellings vary for these groups): Pashtun / Pushtun, Tajiks/ Tadzhiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkman, Balock, and also others with no real democratic central government fell under Taliban control. The Taliban was / is composed of the majority Pashtuns.It was and is a repressive male dominated extremist Islamic group, brutal to women. It lost Pakistani support after the Soviet retreat, but received support from extreme Saudi's and held the most territory by its alliance with the Mujahideen. Osama bin Laden used Afghanistan as his base to attack the U.S. He by organizing from there with his mostly Saudi attackers sucked the United States into a protracted war in Afghanistan.

 The ill advised war in Iraq wasn't connected. No, al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq but there was Cheney's loyal, dedicated, gang. So loyal to Cheney that Scooter Libby was, yes, even was willing to go to jail rather than out his boss over anything, in the end. "Dick" Cheney was disappointed and probably actually angry that Bush 43 wouldn't fully pardon Libby however George W. was, by his second term beginning to realize his Presidency, if not hijacked was not what he thought it would be. It wasn't just bin Laden, but Cheney and neoconservatives with different plans. Dreaming of a new American century with the U.S. controlling what was then thought to be the second largest supply of oil in the world they busily worked up a case for an Iraq invasion. That Iraq shortly followed the war in Afghanistan would stretch the military too thin. Victory in Iraq was declared. With the Iraqi army and civilian government sent home the real resistance started after victory was declared. Iraq being a huge U.S. mistake seems an obvious understatement now but the public was led by politicians and a news media which didn't ask nearly enough questions at the time.  It was a false trap which the Bush Administration, with the urging of neoconservatives on the American right, jumped in, almost to America's bankruptcy. The path couldn't have been plotted better by bin Laden. Combine Cheney's neoconservatives and company, their almost blind lust for oil, the twisted, tangled money making schemes, the scores of private contractors, due to a lack of trained military, plus add a little touch of torture and America barely avoided the insolvency and impotence of bin Laden's dreams.

Back to 2002 and the state of the Union:
In my memory I can still feel it. I watched it on television. As I think of the George W. Bush State of the Union speech of 2002, and as Bush invoked, "An Axis of Evil," my stomach fell, literally, then and when I think of it. I knew an unnecessary war with Iraq was coming. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq until later, years later. Now though, there is a real danger and it is even worse, the (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) called (I.S.I.S)  couldn't be imagined in anyone's worst imagination in 2001. Thus, Summer, 2014 there is a real danger to the region and beyond. Read: An Evil That Must be Stopped by Joe Klein in Time linked to here.
Back to before the war:

Even as Bush spoke in 2002,
I knew it wouldn't be Iran. Iran posed to many logistical problems. We wouldn't attack Iran when Iraq was though to be too easy by the neoconservatives. The population, Iran's, wasn't anti-U.S., especially not then, only the leadership. I can't speak for now. The U.S had already meddled in Iranian affairs more than once, even for decades. The coup of 1953 was a U.S. affair according to many sources. Read (Sixty Years of Middle-East Meddling) by Chris Weigant, The Huffington Post, 8/19/2013. That regime, The Shah of Iran, which the U.S. installed according to the Weigant story, was overthrown in 1979. 'It seems the U.S. actually overthrew an elected government for cheap oil for Great Britain according to Mr. Weigant's reporting on released C.I.A. documents.

It had to be Iraq.
North Korea would be two hard and it had no oil. We also had 25,000 troops in South Korea and North Korea had the bomb. Later we found out that despite what some apologists and mistaken believers and supporters of the war still say, there were NO weapons of mass destruction of the type that Cheney's allies in the administration spoke of. There had once been weapons, old chemical ones and other types of weapons not destroyed during the first Iraq war. Hell, we gave them to Iraq  and many came from us. We supported Iraq if you remember, against Iran in the eighties in their bitter wars. Have you ever seen the picture of Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein? There is one. You can find it on the internet fairly easily.

I won't go into the possible and likely secret deal with Iran by Regan's team for the release of hostages before his election / defeat of Jimmy Carter. Affairs with the Middle-East as I said are complicated. Politics, religions, greed, especially the greed of multinational companies and yes, lust for oil, seems always a part of Middle-Eastern puzzles. Arbitrary lines drawn by colonial powers of the last century, countries with sometimes likely incompatible populations will take years to resolve and solve but let's not fight over oil, or religion. We, you, your country, your group should only fight over religion only to prevent a different one from imposing their beliefs on you, me, us, or another population.

The American economy now is flooded with oil and natural gas. New drilling techniques makes Texas such a producer that ports once considered for importing compressed natural gas are likely currently being outfitted for developing technology to export it. We don't need the Canadian tar sands, the forest, Canadian boreal ancient forests from the last ice age can be preserved to prevent the speeding of global warming and maybe slow it down by conservation and careful use of resources.

A couple of hundred years ago, and this is a paraphrase, a German philosopher, (I'll look up the exact quote and attribute it.) while discussing the topic of history, actually answering a question about the human race and history, said, (and this is close enough that you will get the point,) "If there is one thing that man, (meaning mankind / the human race,) had learned from history it was that it /( man /mankind, the human race hadn't learned anything from history. It's well past time time we started learning from history. Especially the mistakes of the past.


It’s the Loyalty, Stupid

To Defeat ISIS, We Must Treat it Like a State

Recommended reading 8/14/14. Extremely radical Sunni's and their allies including former al Quada are the core of ISIS. "No, we can't take sides between the Shi'ite and Sunni." We may find though that former adversaries become allies. We also must be careful to not make enemies of reasonable Sunnis. This radical movement though must be stopped in its tracks. 

To Defeat ISIS, We Must Treat it Like a State

60 Years of Middle-East Meddling

Recommended reading for 8/14/14.

60 Years of Middle-East Meddling

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Abbott on the Attack

Abbott is concerned enough about Wendy Davis to unfairly attack her for advocating a study of the use of the death penalty fourteen years ago. Life without parole and other changes signed into law since then give his attack no merit and prove he is more than a little concerned about his less than 10% lead in a recent poll.



Abbott on the Attack

Schools prepare for influx of immigrant students — just in case

"Just in Case," schools are getting ready and prepared to educate immigrant students.





Schools prepare for influx of immigrant students — just in case

Monday, August 11, 2014

If you read just one more story about Wendy Davis’ campaign

With  some Texas political /writers, Paul Burka comes to mind, saying that all Republicans have to do to defeat Wendy Davis and other Democrats in Texas is mention Barack Obama they have underestimated the qualified Democrats running up and down the ballot this year. Yes, Republicans still dominate political offices in most parts of the state however people are beginning to see the damage Republicans have done to public education, the poor planning for the future, and when it seems every inland lake in the state has a warning not to eat the fish maybe they will wake up to the fact we are going down the wrong road with Republicans controlling all major offices in the state.

If you read just one more story about Wendy Davis’ campaign

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Occasionally I change the background from the darker color to sand especially in the Summer. It's the same blog with just a lighter color for a while. As always, comments are welcome on this blog. Be polite please. This year I'm very impressed with not only our state wide ticket especially Leticia Van de Putte, and Mike Collier but the others as well. It's one of the best state-wide tickets Democrats have had in a long time. On the East Texas November ballot, locally, Charles Mitchell has served San Augustine, Shelby, and Sabine Counties as our District Judge with fairness and distinction. I have know Judge Mitchell for many years and his knowledge and judgement is head and shoulders above his opponent in my opinion. Living here so close to San Augustine County that I'm in it every day I also endorse reelecting Samye Johnson for County Judge for San Augustine County.
 Kenneth D. Franks

Why Texas' new abortion rules should be struck down, by Amy Hagstrom Miller

"Zip code," shouldn't be the largest factor in whether a women can have control of her reproductive life. Amy Hagstrom Miller writing for Trib Talk, a publication of The Texas Tribune, explains, "Why Texas' new abortion rules should be struck down."



Why Texas' new abortion rules should be struck down, by Amy Hagstrom Miller

Grits for Breakfast: Timid proposal on surcharges offers no solution for drivers stuck in Lege-created morass

Scott Henson, authors the blog which I consider the best on Texas criminal justice issues in the state of Texas. Maybe this is my opinion because I believe he is correct on so many issues however if you don't check it out at least occasionally and are interested in this subject you are missing out on some good writing on important Texas criminal justice issues. In this post he takes on the 'Texas Driver Responsibility Program,' again. He has emphasized in many posts the failures of this program which are simply too numerous to list in a short post. Check out the link to read what he has written about solutions to the failures of the excessive surcharges and the program that needs to be done away with completely. "Timid proposals," simply won't be enough.


Grits for Breakfast: Timid proposal on surcharges offers no solution for drivers stuck in Lege-created morass

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Guardsmen to Game Wardens, Texas Mobilizes to Patrol Border

More on the border surge in Texas from The New York Times. I guess we'll be contending with such activities until Congress has the fortitude to pass a workable solution which should include compassion for children which have never known any other country and have been raised in The United States. I blame the people and companies which took advantage of cheap labor for decades for much of this. As people were prevented from coming here to work and then going home due to a tightening border Mexican citizens which would likely not overstayed did due to the difficulty moving back and forth for seasonal work. Soon family members made their way and now some are citizens. The U.S. born children are citizens but a sibling may not be as they were brought mostly at a young age. Gridlock in Congress continues and the last real action was under the Reagan Administration. I taught American History, Civics, and English in that amnesty program to prospective new citizens.



Guardsmen to Game Wardens, Texas Mobilizes to Patrol Border

Troops on the Border

Paul Burka of Texas Monthly has just a few last words on the, "Troops on the Border." The Texas  / Mexican border years ago, used to be a great place for tourism. We drove once along the shoreline to the most southern tip of Texas hardly seeing anyone but the border towns were bustling with shoppers from both nations crossing the border for shopping or work. Politicians trying to militarize the border make the trip hardly worthwhile these days. Even a passport is required for a day trip for shopping and being stopped maybe once or several times even 75 to 100 miles away from the border happens to some visitors. We should have had comprehensive immigration reform years ago however partisan politicians mostly on the Republican side have delayed the issue so long, that what would have been one more simple fix, a decade ago, gets more complicated as time passes.



Troops on the Border

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Grits for Breakfast: 'Do border surges work?' For incumbent pols, but not really the rest of us

Rick Perry is spending money that could have gone to roads or other purposes. His border surge maybe good for hotels and cafes but is not much more than a big production for a portion of the base of the Republican Party to make him seem relevant in national politics. He's spending our tax money before the legislative session which will not go to other essential services or purposes because it will already be spent for his political ones.

Grits for Breakfast: 'Do border surges work?' For incumbent pols, but not really the rest of us

Friday, August 1, 2014

Comptroller candidate Mike Collier courts the Midland vote - MRT.com: Top Stories

Mike Collier, the candidate I'm voting for in November for Texas Comptroller has been crisscrossing the state for the last two weeks. Being on the Democratic ticket in Texas in recent election cycles means a candidate is automatically an underdog no matter the qualifications. Mike is qualified. I had the opportunity to listen to him speak in Lufkin, Texas to a group of supporters and interested voters only last Sunday here in East Texas. Mr. Collier's next stop was Nacogdoches and only about 45 minutes from the time I met him however he was gracious enough to visit with me for a short while as the microphone and P.A. system were being packed away and loaded for the drive to the next speech. I asked a young woman in attendance to take a picture of Mike and myself while we talked. I was impressed. I decided to drive to Nacogdoches to listen to his next speech there also. Although the large room wasn't packed, not anticipating as many people as turned out, every chair was occupied and several people including myself stood. Mr. Collier hit some of the high points of his Lufkin speech but talked longer.
A lot of people say, including some of my friends that mostly vote Republican, that they vote for the most qualified person and not just the candidate from one party or another. If this is true for you, vote for Mike Collier for Texas Comptroller. Joseph Basco writes about Mike Collier's second trip to Midland, Texas on Mike's, "Watchdog Tour," of the state.
Kenneth D. Franks
Comptroller candidate Mike Collier courts the Midland vote - MRT.com: Top Stories

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth

The fervor of anti-immigration activists and (politicians who will take advantage of even the perception of such a crisis has crested into perception replacing reality. Yes, we have had an increase of children from Central American countries fleeing violence. Opportunistic politicians are harnessing anti-immigrant feelings of some of the public to manufacture this crisis from what is simply young refugees fleeing violence in their countries for their personal safety. Veronica Escobar writes in The New York Times, "Why the Border Crisis is a Myth." Maybe part of the problem comes from self described fiscal conservative politicians willing to spend millions and millions of dollars to reach their own personal political goals.



Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Analysis: Senate Decks Shuffled a Little Early, by Ross Ramsey

The politics of the Texas Senate just became a little more interesting with early committee chairs selections by David Dewhurst.



Analysis: Senate Decks Shuffled a Little Early, by Ross Ramsey

Dems prep for voter ID

We, as a country, support democracy through out the world yet Republicans are trying to depress voter turnout and rejecting registered voters in Texas. Republicans trying to turn the tide of real Democratic competition are doing everything possible to shrink total voter turnout with possibly the most restrictive  picture voter I.D. in the nation. With a passport and a concealed handgun license being the only alternatives to an official Texas driver's license or an official Texas picture I.D., Texas Democrats are working to prepare voters for the 2014 election by educating voters now.  



Dems prep for voter ID

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Analysis: A Border Plan — and a Political One, by Ross Ramsey

Rick Perry is trying to prove he doesn't have a heart (which seems to be essential to be a successful Republican candidate for president.) The Texas National Guard call up will be an expensive boondoggle.  It is a waste of Texas tax dollars and serves no practical purpose other than potential political capital for Perry.



Analysis: A Border Plan — and a Political One, by Ross Ramsey

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Obama admin. says health subsidies will continue - The Sacramento Bee

The Associated Press , N.B.C. and other news sources are reporting that health subsidies will continue according to the Obama Administration. There have been and are still, several cases winding their way through the courts over subsidies to people who qualify for health care subsidies due to income qualifications. Whether the state has a state exchange or not is a major issue in these cases. The count so far on just this issue and similar cases, several for and only this one against. This ruling will be big news on one propaganda network and for many right wing talking heads however it doesn't affect subsidies or stop them. Theses cases are just one of many brought to attempt to weaken The Affordable Care Act. The immediate effect is there is no change.

Obama admin. says health subsidies will continue - The Sacramento Bee