Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blog numero ocho. Fin.

In response to my classmate’s blog #7, “To Shoot, or Not to Shoot.”

I am not a Texan by birth, and although I identify the state as more “home” than any other state or (global) region, I am not a Texas native through and through; i.e. I am not impetuous, gun wieldin’, antler hangin’, nor crazy like Joe Horn of Pasadena. Well, I do not know for fact that Joe Horn has a set of ridiculously large, 5,000-point buck antlers mounted above his fireplace, but in my embellished version of the story, he does. Along with a fireplace.

That said, I admire Joe Horn of Pasadena. He took a stand in defense, and however bold the stance, it was nonetheless a stance executed as he deemed necessary. I do not condone killing nor do I find it admirable in any way, but Joe’s resolute action in his own defense is commendable. I would bet that if it was me, I probably would have done it a little differently, that is, not confronting the pillagers. Joe’s story is a parable of Texan pride and identity. Ultimately, Joe felt threatened by the three burglars, maybe fearing an imminent plundering of his home. Feeling threatened, and maybe in concern for the safety of others and his neighbors, Joe saw to it that the threat to his life, his we-being and property, was eliminated. It is pretty simple, really: don’t mess with a Texan’s livelihood unless you want to get shot.

Even I knew that.

reference/classmate's post, TSNTS:

To Shoot, or Not to Shoot...
Bog Stage Seven::Here is a hypothetical question for you:You look out your window and see three men breaking into your neighbor's house. You call the police, but the crooks are getting away before the cops get there and you are outside in you front lawn and they cut across it. Do you shoot? Do you have the right to shoot the burglars?Well this wasn't a hypothetical situation for a 61 year old Pasadena resident, Joe Horn. After he heard glass breaking and saw three men breaking into his neighbor's house, he called 911 and grabbed his gun. He told the dipatcher that he had a gun and he wanted to stop them. The dispatcher begged him to stay inside the house and to put the gun away, but it was too late. Horn said, "I'm not going to let them get away with it." He also said that he knew the laws had changed in this state and he has to right to use deadly force to protect himself. so, he went out on his front lawn and fired at least two shots and killed two of the three burglars.The question is: Did he have the right to shoot the burglars? They did not break into HIS house, but they did get on his property.I believe that he did have the right to shoot because they did get on his property and he already felt threatened because they broke into the house next door. But, he should have listened to the dispatcher and not go outside. He should have let the police handle it, but he did not want them to get away before the police got there. Horn did give the burglars a warning that he was going to shoot. He yelled, "Move... You're dead!" And well, I guess they moved.Texas introduced a new law that took affect that allows a person to use deadly force to protect their own property to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night. Also, it allows them to use deadly force if their life feels threatened. I agree with this law. A person should have the right to protect themselves with whatever means necessary.http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5306638.html

Friday, November 30, 2007

Degenerate senate

Texas Senator Trent Lott announced his retirement this past Monday for his seemingly queer private endeavors. Yet another political figure who furtively partook in unorthodox sexual acts. Oh the horror. Paging Larry Craig, table for two.

Senator Lott allegedly had an affair with some male escort, “Private” Benjamin Nicholas. When asked about his relationship to Lott, Nicholas waffles by first confessing to a relationship with Lott, only then to deny the whole affair. You have to wonder why Nicholas would suddenly and completely change his story. These kind of things make my skin crawl and my body shudder. I guess senators hold some clout.

There is a blurred and almost nonexistent line between a celebrity’s personal and public life, and I am afraid that many celebs such as Lott just cannot cope with that. I realize that sen. Lott engaged in illicit affairs, and obviously that’s a no-no. But is Lott’s behavior really that deviant? Is consensual sex between two people, whether it involves money or not, ever not okay? People will participate in sexual activities as they see fit and no amount of force to the contrary can deter that completely. It’s is almost an usurped civil liberty. And we all know that when people are denied something that they feel they inherently have the right to, well, the result is not pretty. Escort systems and prostitution are together an inexorable wave that will remain pulsating irrepressibly underground.

As a guy man myself, I can conceive why Lott and other “gay”, “bi”, "whatever" men/women are forced into perchance illicit dealings. It is not enough that we as a society aren’t wholly accepting of homosexuality, but we lawfully push and expect conventional heterosexual-like relations in the gay arena. Hypocrisy abounds.

Resource and credit to: In the Pink Texas, "Big Head Lott" blog

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Response, blog

I hate to seem like I'm always railing on Texas' politics but this is my blog, so I thought I would call into question the way elections go here in celebration of this coming Tuesday's elections. At the risk of sounding like Dennis Miller, Andy Rooney or some horrible hybrid of the two I will proceed.

First of all, who are we voting for? I understand electing the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor but some of the other stuff is absurd to me. The Attorney General? I don't really feel great about entrusting the selection of the state's top law enforcer to what amounts to a fund raising and popularity contest. Then when he or she gets elected it's only to build name recognition to run for some higher office. I didn't even know what a comptroller was when I moved here as we didn't have one in NH, but once I found out it seemed kind of foolish to be electing someone to be in charge of our tax dollars. There are a bunch of other examples but the most heinous to me is the idea of electing judges. All of these positions I mentioned require education and special skills that would seem to make selecting people for them better suited for a meritocracy than democracy. Don't get me wrong, I like being able to influence my government but I don't trust many average joes or even myself to be picking who is the best person to decide court cases, try them or manage public accounts. It's not just that... the more things people have to vote for, the less they research each one and just pick the nicest name or something equally random.

Second thing is that it seems like people try to keep the election a secret here and the paltry voter turnout is evidence that speaks to that. I hardly so any ads in the recent elections save for presidential ads in 2004. Back in NH elections - and not just the "world famous" primary election - were veritable holidays. I ask people if they voted on election day here and they look at me like I'm crazy. They either have no interest or no idea that elections are taking place. I just don't know how people can't know or aren't old an election is coming up and how important it is. I remember people standing out in 20 degree temperatures just to hold their candidates signs at the polling place or waiting in lines in that cold to go vote. Here I see no people with signs and I can scarcely find the polling place and it's usually empty when I go in. It boggles my mind.

One thing I like about the elections here and that might be skewing my evaluation of turnout and interest is early voting. I understand how a lot of people can't get out of work or get transportation to a certain place on a certain day, so stretching it out into a window of time like Texas has done is a fantastic idea to me. Anything that gets more voters to the polls is a good thing in my estimation. That way we're coming closer to a consensus on who we've elected.

So in review, I think Texas would do well to follow the model of the federal government and give the Governor the levity to appoint people to jobs that ought to be based on merit rather then have us elect them. Also I'd like to see a little more promotion of the elections, whether by the state or the individuals' campaigns. Lastly, I commend Texas on the early voting system and admit that it could be why turnout looks low to me. Overall though, I think elections could be more voter friendly here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Now that's un-American

Apparently I am mal-informed and/or slightly ignorant of Texas' current events. But, unbeknownst to me until a few days ago, there are elections this month. Not a presidential election, God no. We have to suffer through a full and long year of presidential campaigning. Up for vote this month are 16 ballot propositions. This year’s Proposition 2 will allow the “Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to issue bonds providing low-interest, low-fee student loans,” so says the TX Higher Education Coordinating Board’s propaganda sheet. Specifically, loans will have 6% interest and a six-month grace period with “income sensitive” repayment schedules.
Ideally, college should be accessible to most if not all individuals. There are many countries, as you may know, that have national universities where tuition is free. That’s right, FREE. Not thousands of dollars a semester, but free. Of course, when it comes to tuition, cheaper is better. But what are the downsides to proposition 2? If it were so easy to afford cheap loans, why start now? Reasonable student loans may increase college’s attractiveness but at what non-fiscal cost? Proposition 2 will not, purportedly, increase taxes. All responsibility rests with the borrower and not innocent bystanders. But proposition 2 runs the risk of annexing college and high school. Not actually, but theoretically. Education should be available and affordable for everyone; proposition 2 has its allure. Ideally: college matriculation and graduation increase; specialized job industry and employment increase. In summary, education should be less a matter of expense and accessibility and more a matter of necessity and desire. Graduating college students (the supposed leaders of tomorrow) shouldn’t start their careers the debt-laden burdens of society. No, that’s a paradox of American society.

Reference: In the Pink Texas blog: http://www.inthepinktexas.com/2007/10/22/come-on-down-to-crazy-tex%e2%80%99s-for-low-interest-student-loans/

Friday, October 19, 2007

"If you can't staff the prisons you've got, how can we afford to build more?"

If there is not enough money in the budget for current and new employees, then how is there enough money in the budget for the construction of three new prisons? Up for vote soon is Proposition #4, which would, amongst various other things, finance the maintenance of current state prisons as well as the construction of three new ones. Proposition #4 would call for the issuance of $1 billion in bonds. The biggest fraction would go to funding the new state prisons, $233 million, and an additional $40 million would be for the renovation of current institutions. According to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texas is projected to exceed its current prison capacity by 10,000 beds in 2009. But Texas already has the highest prison population in not only the United States, but in the world. Although expanding our prison system may seem an exigent concern, an alternate course of action that does not include the construction of new prisons is ideal. The TCJC recommends reforming the parole and probation system as an alternative. Depending on the source, the arguments for and against the proposition are conflictive. Taxpayers and the conservative group “Americans For Prosperity” argue that, with our current state budget surplus, should we be borrowing money to finance maintenance, which is an “ongoing expense?” But these groups half-heartedly sanction the construction of new prisons—just not maintenance. But Texan prison guards are wary to build upon an already unstable prison system. We will see what happens with Proposition #4.

Reference: the Grits for Breakfast web blog, Oct. 15th's post
Direct link:(http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2007/10/arguments-

Friday, October 5, 2007

SCHIP receives presidential veto

On October 3rd, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) substantially, doubling the number of kids covered from 4 million to 8 million. This is president Bush’s fourth veto as president. The bill has wide bi-partisan support and in a recent poll, 72% of people supported the expansion. With the support of Republicans, the Senate overrode Bush’s veto, whereas the House fell just short of the necessary 290 votes. Here is an overview of what the SCHIP is all about, courtesy of the Capital Annex blog: “SCHIP is a state-federal program that provides coverage for 6.6 million children from families that live above the poverty level but have trouble affording health insurance”. The administration (as well as Republicans in Congress, some from Texas) argues that the expansion would lead to “government-run health care...and would be financially irresponsible...a foot in the door to socialized medicine”.

Texas tops the list of states and number of kids uninsured, a stark 14%. Texan Senator John Cornyn and 18 Texan Congressman are among the marginal few who voted against the bill. Apparently the fact that Texas ranks the highest among states of number of children without health insurance is a nonconcern for these 19 government officials.

The proposed bill would expand SCHIP by $35 billion over the next five years. Do the math, that’s a little less than $600 million a month. This compared to the approximate $10 billion we spend in war funds a month. This dichotomy of fiscal policy, that of domestic and international affairs, is horrifying when reduced to simple numbers. Initially, the War on Terror was purportedly justified as a war for American's domestic safety. The war for domestic safety begins, of course, at home, inside our nation's borders. Millions of children will go uninsured, but the children of another nation may or may not sleep better at night (and minus 2, 3 terrorists). Sleep well, children, you may not need that health insurance after all! Oh, and a larger national deficit to boot. Sorry, kids. The administration cannot even begin to justify this embarrassing discrepancy between fundings. The only hope for the bill is an eventual override of Bush’s veto. Hopefully the bill’s proponents can garner enough support by the time it is back up for vote.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blog evaluation: Hispanic voters could change Texas politics, experts say

This article from the Austin American-Statesman covers the effects of the burgeoning Hispanic population on Texas politics. Not unlike our textbook, but with a more tangible application. “With Hispanic population exploding, the political party that captures a decisive share of the Latino vote can determine not only the state's future but also its own(.)” If a political party wants a solid political platform in subsequent elections, they should appeal to the wants and needs of the Hispanic population. Not just appeal to the Hispanic population, but devote much of their campaign efforts and time and money into procuring the Hispanic vote. Ignoring entirely the Hispanic population and thus the Hispanic vote would ensure defeat. Hispanics are increasing looking for "economic stability". Hispanics are overwhelming Democratic in the Texas Legislature.

Texas is a “majority minority” state. This simply means that Anglos are outnumbered in Texas by "minorities". Population projections foretell that by the mid 21st century, Hispanics will surmount Anglos in number in the state of Texas. But, paradoxically, “Hispanics account for about one in every six votes cast in Texas… (i)f trends continue, Texas is likely to stay a Republican state until 2030, but increases in turnout among Hispanic voters and decreases in the percentage who vote Republican could tip the balance by 2020.” We know that the Hispanic vote does not reflect their representation in number. Socioeconomic status, education and misinformation, in part, explain this.

This article highlights in a more tangible arena the undeniable Hispanic presence in Texas politics.