Property taxes in Texas are a major source of state funds. Increasing values of property in some places and decreasing values in others though, makes the property tax issue fairly complicated. R.G. Ratliffe does an excellent job of explaining the issues involved.
This is an excellent read from Josh Marshall. My summary is ordered differently than his post but here are a few points he makes. He notes, we as a country can only fight so many wars alone. Allies are needed. Some of our allies in the struggles in the Middle East maybe aren't anywhere near admirable but simply put, the enemies of our enemy are basically allies and there is a precedent for this. The U.S and Soviet Union were both needed to win W.W. II. Though they haven't cooperated on a lot since they worked together then to defeat Nazi Germany. He sheds light on the hysteria and excessive emphasis the 24 hour news cycle / cable news places on minor differences in word choice and language. He notes that some politicians say obviously false things to discredit President Obama and for the rest go to the link below.
There are over 50 posts on this site with links to stories about Canadian tar sands, the Keystone XL Pipeline and related topics. If a picture is worth a thousand words though, Robert Johnson's 2012 pictures speak volumes. Bitumen is a heavy hydrocarbon. The processes involved in processing and transporting it, whether by pipeline or rail pose serious environmental risks. The argument that bitumen transportation by a pipeline will be a job creator is only true in that pipeline workers will have temporary jobs. As this product is so corrosive, spills and leaks are not just likely but will happen. The cleanup of a bitumen leak or spill is much more difficult and complex than an oil spill and the risk to our environment is serious.
Canadian tar sands will be harvested with or without another American pipeline to the Texas Coast. The issue is:
Will the United States be a 21th century leader in preserving, protecting and possibly slowing climate change by moving toward cleaner energy sources or continue to contribute to climate degradation by facilitating the use of a heavy hydrocarbon, bitumen, tar sand, oil sand, also called bituminous sand?
At least 14 tankers ignite after West Virginia derailment. Another derailment, which could have been much worse had it happened in a heavily populated area. The link, "Trains Plus Crude Equals Trouble Down the Track," is an excellent background article on the subject.
Justice Ginsburg a pioneer as a lawyer was one of less than ten in her law school program. In those days mostly men went into professions in law and medicine. Still today as a member of The Supreme Court, she is an inspiration to many women and men in the United States.
Texas is an oil state. Many Texans employed in the industry are facing at the very least, fewer hours, or layoffs, and more oil job loses are likely follow with continued cheap oil. The good news is most consumers will save hundreds at the pump this year.
Republicans have been pushing for privatization of public functions for decades. As long there are public functions, some Republicans or a majority of Republicans will be trying to privatize them.
"In the last couple of decades, as Republicans became the dominate political party in Texas, there has been a huge wave of privatization of essential services and functions of state government to private contractors. There have been more failures than successes and it has cost taxpayers untold millions and likely billions of dollars." (K.D.F)
This article in The Texas Tribune article, "In State contracting, Failure is an Option,"
Aman Batheja writes about some of the failures. In State Contracting, Failure is an Option, by Aman Batheja
Having that coveted majority in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives means Republicans must do more than complain. The divisions in the party have become more evident. Not much has been accomplished.
The Two Thirds Rule has been a tradition in the Texas Senate since 1947. At that time and since it has been a way to get more state senators on board with a piece of legislation before a bill or bills went to the Texas Senate floor. Texas' Senate was dominated by Democrats at the time the tradition was initiated. In the changing dynamics of senate membership it has been praised by Republicans and Democrats. Dan Patrick opposed the tradition in 2007 when he entered the senate and now he's effectively moved any roadblocks to pushing through his ( 'radical' ) agenda. The opposition for the most part has been taken out of the picture. It would take the peeling away of some Republican votes this session to slow Dan Patrick on his quest to be the major player, the most powerful Lt.Governor in recent memory and maybe the most powerful elected official in Texas government. It's Dan Patrick's Texas Senate for now.
My house / home is and older structure. When I say older I mean approaching historical marker age. It needs a lot of work, is drafty, but it has possibilities. The most important thing, it's paid for. I'm fairly handy with tool and have started remodeling. The poor, the really poor, have it much harder than I can imagine.
In the 70's Republicans had a a healthy amount of respect for science. "In 74 (they) were the political group that expressed the highest amount of trust in science," Things have changed. Republicans today, "Are now the most distrusting."
Eric Holder, limiting the civil seiure process is an important check on police seizures of personal property and money. An estimated 2.5 billion has been taken from motorists since 9-11. Motorists have had to go to the courts to prove that money or property was not obtained illegally.
A good number of Dan Patrick's new advisory panel, committees, members are a drawn from basically a who's who of Republican donor land. Many already are involved in industries which have paid lobbyists to lobby the Texas Legislature. A good number of them are donors to Patrick's campaigns. Now, they are going to be on advisory panels, he has picked, to give him input about policy. What might these tycoons of industry, of whom at least 43 of them gave about "$1.94 million to Patrick's campaigns since 2005," have to offer for advice. These panels, committees, have no accountability to the people. They will be advising the governor on policy, picked from donors, not all but at least 43 of them, his, "Kitchen Cabinet, so to speak. Is this the embodiment of pay to play politics or am I completely off base. Maybe its just me, being a little suspicious. Maybe every one of them only has the best interests of the state and its people at heart and wouldn't suggest anything just to help their particular industry. Maybe Patrick, has our best interests at heart. Why do I get the feeling it's a picture of pure crony capitalism.