Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poisonings in Haiti = result of free flowing Chinese chemicals

Following text is an excerpt from The New York Times INTERNATIONAL / ASIA PACIFIC Edition story Chinese Chemicals Flow Unchecked to Market:

United States officials learned of problems with China’s chemical companies in the mid-1990s while investigating the fatal poisonings in Haiti. Chinese authorities took no action against the uncertified chemical company that made the poison, diethylene glycol, or the giant state-owned trader, Sinochem International Chemicals, that exported it.

A decade later another state-owned trading company, CNSC Fortune Way, exported the diethylene glycol — also from an uncertified chemical company — that ended up in the deadly Panamanian cold medicine in 2006.

Chinese officials have known for years that uncertified chemical companies are producing active pharmaceutical ingredients. In 2004 the Chinese drug authority’s newspaper cited complaints that some licensed companies “affiliate” with unlicensed ones to hide their illegal purchases, while others buy only a token amount from certified suppliers to pass inspection. “The impact of chemical products on the bulk pharmaceutical market hints at a much larger problem: a huge hole in drug safety,” the drug agency publication stated.

Since the Panama poisonings, China is considering ways to corral the chemical industry. At Panama’s request, Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, has pressed the Chinese government to step up regulation of chemical companies selling pharmaceutical ingredients.

American and Chinese health officials held their first high-level meeting in May, and hope to sign a memorandum of agreement in December. “The Chinese have finally come to the realization that their regulatory system needs repair,” said William Steiger, director of international affairs for Mr. Leavitt’s agency. But meaningful change will be difficult. Chinese authorities may not have enough investigators to weed out the many small chemical companies that are making drug ingredients.

And efforts to close the regulatory gap must overcome one particularly thorny issue: some uncertified companies accused of selling counterfeit drugs are owned by the government itself.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Howdy Neighbor - WilliamsonRepublic

Got this in the email: is a new blog dedicated to communicating the truth about the personalities, businesses, events and politics that impact our great county. I invite you to read our most recent entry regarding the T. Don Hut to immigrant detention center.

Single-Member Districts in Austin's Future?

A Charter Revision Committee has been set up (at the instigation of Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez) to look at moving Austin to a mixed single-member-district plus at-large City Council membership. The charter committee is actively reviewing proposals, and you can expect a future city election to feature a charter amendment.

Hillary Fundraising Scandal

If you're a registered voter, please take 13 minutes and 29 seconds to watch what is NOT being shown in the media!
This video will explain the relationship between Peter Paul, Stan Lee (Stan Lee is the creator of Spiderman, Hulk, fantastic 4)and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Watch in shock how "The Clinton's" have overwhelming evidence against them and are evading the law.
Note: This video link has been disrupted constantly since being posted - so keep trying. Now please answer this question:

What do you suppose the media would do with information of this nature if it was even remotely connected to any other politician or presidential hopeful no matter what their political party affiliation?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

“If OBL can admit his defeat, why can’t Democrats admit our victory?”

Just asking.

Taxpayer's Choice Act

Here's Tax Reform that we need:

It would establish a radically simplified, flatter tax for an estimated 90 percent to 95 percent of all income tax filers.

Those taxpayers presumably would accept this offer: give up all your current deductions, and your annual earnings up to $100,000 would be taxed at 10 percent, with a 25 percent rate on everything above that. But that is not all. The bill would repeal the hated Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), giving up $840 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. Government would have to get leaner.
... Under the plan, taxpayers could either continue under the present tax code or accept the simpler system. In place of deductions and credits, every taxpayer would get a generous standard exemption ($39,000 for a family of four). Nearly everybody presumably would take this opportunity to escape the scrutiny and invasiveness of the Internal Revenue Service.

Urge your local Congresscritter and the Presidential candidates to sign up for this vast improvement on the income tax.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Response to voucher distortions

Voucher myopia digs at the school choice proposal in Utah, but brings up the usual mythical arguments against school choice.

As a parent who sent our children to a private school for a while in Austin, I found the experience a complete rebuttal to tired argument of opponents of school choice.
(When we moved our kids into public schools, it only confirmed our experience.)

We found a school that could better educate our children at half the cost of a public school education, at only $3000 tuition. It served people who mainly of limited means. I found that even poor parents are motivated to make large sacrifices to educate their children, in some cases more motivated and self-sacrificing than well-to-do parents.

We also experienced a remarkably good education that was built on old-fashioned technology and teaching principles. The experience proved that effective learning has very little to do with the level of amenities in the school, such as how fancy the buildings are (the school buildings were not great, but the learning was 1-2 grades ahead of the best public schools in Austin); quality education has everything to do with how the teachers teach and more importantly how parents help motivate their children to learn. I learned that in reality, all schooling is homeschooling.

These parents who sent kids there did a double service to the community: They were sacrificing financially so that their children would have a better education, and they were saving the public schools from the $100,000 burden of taking a child through a K-12 education. We really are backwards in our thinking in not thanking or wanting more kids in private schools and less of a burden to taxpayer financed education.

In Utah, the proposed $3,000 parental voucher for education could and would indeed be used by the same kinds of parents willing to make some financial sacrifice to better their children's education. The idea that incentives only work if they are 100% is myth easily debunked by any 10% off sale. Incentives always work at the margin. There is competition today, with homeschooling and private schools being chosen even with the cost and inconvenience compared with just sending your child to public school.If 3% go to private school with no vouchers, each incremental subsidy would increase that amount. Choice and competition is limited by the financial advantage of public school subsidies, and as the playing field gets leveled more, that choice and competition will increase.

Any partial state subsidy will clearly give more educational choices to more parents, whether they are low-income parents able to spend $1,000 a year for a school that has $4,000 tuition, or spend $3,000 at a school charging $6,000, We are told "only" 14 percent of Utah schools are under $3,000 in tuition - well, that is still a choice available for some low-income parents for a no-cost education. Good luck finding even a single public school that will educate children that cheaply and yet have willing customers paying for it.

It is absurd to talk of vouchers "hurting" the public schools, as if students exist to serve schools. Schools should exist to serve students! And if vouchers provide choice for students that leads to more effective education, then it is a good thing.

Thus the bizarre conclusion:
"While vouchers will not hurt public education within the first five years, they would needlessly be giving a government handout to these families at the expense of the average taxpayer."

Giving money for the express purpose of educating a child is "needlessly giving a government handout"? Yet that is the sole purpose for the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on public education. Or is there some agenda besides educating children that drives the insistence on the inefficient, monopolistic school system.

"No matter how much voucher proponents claim the right of parents to use their tax money to choose where their child is educated, that money is not their own."

Education taxes are raised and spent for the ostensible benifit of the children, yet the children or their parents should have no right or claim on how it is used? That socialistic ethos leads to the unaccountable system we have today.

"Let's assume that the average private school is significantly better than the average public school. If I am middle-class, why should I subsidize a poorer family's child's opportunity to have an education far better than the one my child receives? "

So the 'logic' is that it is wiser for the middle-class to keep the poor locked into bad schools that cost twice as much to the taxpayers, than let the poor family get ahead? Apparently the win/win concept is lost on this man.

We know the way it ought to be: Schools should serve students, and the money spent on education should be focussed on what is best for the schoolchildren, not the 'system'; parents should have a choice and say in their children's education; the education system should have accountability, allow for competition, and not be a monopoly; and excellence should be the goal for all not just for some.

To be pro-school-choice is to be pro-school-children.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stop the Cancer Tax - Vote No on Prop 15

Of the five bond proposals up for vote, the one that is least accountable and least deserving support is Proposition 15, an attempt to get Texans to pay for a $3 billion cancer research boondoggle.

Even though it seems to have universal support by the 'powers-that-be', there is an organized group out there fighting for taxpayers on this and against the proposition. has the facts on the proposition and the real costs and (non)-benefits. They been able to get some airplay - a news clip on VoteNO campaign. references our previous Travis Monitor op-ed - Texas Cancer program & Proposition 15 - Not Needed. We noted earlier how this adds less than 1% to Federal and state medical research money, and does it in an inefficient (why bonds?) and unaccountable manner (why a 10-year open-ended commitment without ability to trim budgets?). It's a bad deal all around.

And it is the taxpayers here in Texas who will pay for whatever boondoggle program the tax-and-spend politicians can get the voters to support. It seems that time and again, the taxpayer is the forgotten element in the debates and discussions on these sorts of issues. It's about time we made the taxpayer the key part of the consideration.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Re-defeat Socialism in 2008

Stop Her Now.
HRC - discover the network.
Flawless campaign?

Some Inconvenient Truths For Gore

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Junk Science: Al Gore's documentary on climate disaster has been ruled a work of fiction by a British judge. In legal terms, his global warming hysteria has been assuming facts not in evidence.

Gore has long insisted that the debate over disastrous and imminent climate change induced by man-made global warming is over. A unanimous scientific "consensus" had formed, and the only doubters were "deniers" who also believe the moon landings were filmed on a movie lot in Arizona.

Click here to read the truth about Gore's claims.

Debunking the artic sea ice myth, 'another hockey stick'

Debunking the claim about hurricanes

Observed sea-level rise, is measured at only 1.31 ±0.30 mm per year, About an inch every 20 years!

The Nightmare Continues ...

DREAM ACT amnesty for illegal immigrants is getting snuck into a defense authorization bill: Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed to invoke cloture on a motion to use Senate Rule XIV to bring S. 2205, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) new stand-alone DREAM Act amnesty bill, to the Senate floor without ever having been debated in committee. The cloture vote, for which 60 YES votes are necessary to prevent a filibuster on the measure, is set for Wednesday, October 24.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Zero footprint " regulations makes ZERO sense

Austin Mayor Will Wynn wants to force homesellers to drastically upgrade energy efficiency as a requirement for sale:

The objective of the point-of-sale provisions is to improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock, which far exceeds the number of new homes that will be affected by the upcoming building code changes. "Why should only homebuyers of newly constructed homes benefit from this science and benefit from this very different affordability equation?" Wynn asked.

These 'zero-energy' guys get a Zero in economics and an F in understanding energy:

"The objective of Austin's plan is to make homes "zero-energy capable": energy efficient enough that it is cost-effective to install solar panels or other on-site electricity generation such as wind turbines. Without the energy efficiency improvements, the benefit of on-site generation is lost through leaky ducts and windows."

1) If a house uses less energy, then the price/watt-hour of generation infrastructure goes up. Putting in the batteries, electronics and controls for solar panels is not cheap, and becomes even more expensive relative to your energy bill the less you use.

2) Any 'benefits of on-site' relative to using central power are overwhelmed by the simple fact that solar and 'on-site' wind are hugely expensive and variable/unreliable relative to central power. ZERO economic consideration.

3) It is a myth that these regulations will protect anyone's 'climate'. There is practically non-existent benefit to Austin, Texas, USA or the global environment in Austin marginally reducing CO2 emissions in the next 10 years. They claim their plan will save 221,597 tons of CO2 by 2015. Even with that hugely biased and optimistic number, The world emits 7 Gigatonnes per year, so that will be 0.0028% of total CO2 emissions; yet 7 gigatonnes is itself less than .5% Of the C02 to be emitted (in next 90 years) to cause the 'dreaded' increase in temps of 2.5C on average. So even if Austin saved this amount yearly (200,000 tons) until 2100, it still would be impacting temperature no more than .000035 degrees C, an unmeasureable quantity. The impact of having these regulations between now and 2025 would be measured in a few millionths of degrees! ZERO environmental benefit!

4) A simple way for Austin to have "Zero carbon footprint" on our energy use: Replace the La Grange coal plant and natural gas usage with nuclear generation capacity. Nuclear is emissions free, doesn't pollute the air, and cost-effective. With one more nuclear plant, Austin will be almost all on non-greenhouse-gas emitting power (mostly nuclear). The reduction in CO2 by moving 1GW from coal to nuclear would be around 8-10 million tons of CO2 reduction per year, or about 50 *times* the reduction in CO2 these onerous City of Austin regulations would save.

5) To the extent that energy efficiency is good and it pays for itself, people do it already. Most new homes have the key energy efficiency features that make sense economically. Existing homes don't do as much due to the different rate of return on doing upgrades and peoples finances.

Energy efficiency that costs way beyond the economic rate-of-return ends up hurting people, and the regulations on top of it add further costs locally, with no benefits, either economically or environmentally. What should be done instead of regulations is awareness and voluntary auditing, which Austin has already.

Most economists put the cost/benefit price tag for C02 reduction at less or about $30/TCo2. So the cost of these regulations and changes should be no more than $6 million, or they are uneconomical and ineffective.

To summarize it - the ZERO energy plan has:
ZERO economic and common sense.
ZERO environmental benefit.
ZERO consideration of better alternatives.
ZERO respect for taxpayers and home-owners.

Can we fire Will Wynn and the other promoters of this bad idea?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nuclear Energy Is a Renewable Energy

An EIA response to Senator Inhofe on the impact on energy use of a "25 by 25" renewable energy policy has a bothersome assumption - only biomass, wind, solar, etc. were treated as renewable energy. Nuclear was left out in the cold of a policy that insisted 25% of generation should be 'renewable'. Why? Nuclear energy has all environmental benefits that equal wind, solar, hydro and biomass; nuclear has a small footprint; it has zero emissions, zero CO2 generation, zero air pollution. Nuclear power is so efficient at extracting energy from the the atom that it could be used for millenia to come and we wouldn't run out of uranium and Thorium that could power them. Indeed, all 'nuclear waste' could be recycled back into fuel, extending the usefulness of nuclear fuel while eiminating one undesirable byproduct of nuclear power.

However, nuclear is feared not favored by the same environmentalists who want to cap CO2 generation and turn away from fossil fuels. Fears of accidents neglects fact of the U.S. nuclear power industry's 30 year record of safe operation. Fears of environmental damage neglects the fact that nuclear energy has eliminated more pollution (by displacing coal in electricity generation) than any other source of power. Nuclear energy in reality has been proven to be clean and safe. It's not perfect, but it's a form of energy that we can utilize significantly without damaging the enviornment.

Yet environmental shibboleths trumps reasoned decisions, and we pursue solar pipedreams and biomass boondoggles instead of a reliable and economical alternative that is even better. "25 X 25" without nuclear power is costly experiment in socialist engineering; with nuclear, it would be the nudge to take us down a path of less CO2 generation. Disregarding or discounting nuclear energy takes us down a path of higher energy prices and worse economic vs environmental tradeoffs. Let nuclear energy be labelled "Renewable Energy". Nuclear Energy is just as rewenable and just as good an energy source as wind, solar, biomass, etc. and should be treated as such by the policy-makers.

Chart - Texas sources of energy (1997):

Vote NO on Prop 12, highway bond issue

Should we give TxDOT $5 billion in bond money to build roads? Proposition 12 says: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds by the Texas Transportation Commission in an amount not to exceed $5 billion to provide funding for highway improvement projects."

Surely we do need roads and they do need funding. This authorizes but doesn't appropriate the money for projects, which would have to still be arrpoved by the legislature. Still, there are several reasons that suggest we ought to vote NO on this proposition.

The principle reason is that this bond issue doesn't fix the main problem with road construction financing and only makes the situation worse through general obligation debt-financing. This bond issue begs the question of why transportation funding is coming from general funds and not directed gas tax. Senator Wentworth and others in the last session identified diversion from gas tax to other purposes as one of the reasons we were moving in the direction of toll roads. Consider this FAQ from CTRMA on gas tax:
Texas is a "donor state" that gets less in funding than it pays in federal gas taxes. The state also does not use all its gas tax revenue directly on road projects.

In effect, we are being told that since our gax tax revenues were moved to other states and not available for our use, we've got to have toll roads. Does that make sense? About as much sense as Texas declared a huge surplus and then turning around and asking for adding a lot more debt.

Texas gets back less than 80 cents on the dollar of Federal gas tax money (combining transit and highway money), and TxDOT says that:
"For highways and transit programs combined, SAFETEA-LU shifts an estimated $13.3 billion in Highway Trust Fund dollars attributable to Texas away from the state’s mobility needs."

Texas collected $3.5 billion at the state level from gas taxes, but one-third of the amount is diverted for social programs:

More than one-third of the money Texas motorists pay in driving taxes and fees is diverted into spending on projects that do not contribute to the upkeep and expansion of the road network. Texans pay $3.5 billion into the fund annually through the gas tax and various vehicle licensing fees that apply only to drivers. Of this amount, nearly $1.5 billion is spent on items more properly funded with general revenue, including $725 million on public education and $765 million on social welfare programs including tourism and medical care.

Yett attempts to address this diversion failed and it is getting worse: " Then, after the session, news trickled out that lawmakers filched another $243 million from the State Highway Fund to plug budget holes, despite bold talk about stemming such bleeding of the fund and a $14 billion state surplus to play with."

A chart on the diversion of highway funds:

A no vote would be difficult for TxDOT's immediate construction funding, but would send a message to TxDOT and our elected officials to quit trying to make things right with multiple wrongs and instead address the issue of road financing the right way: Be more frugal and wise about utilizing the gax tax revenues in road building and mainenance; get our share of the Federal highway trust fund back to Texas; make sure that Texas gas taxes are used for the purpose they are collected for - Texas road transit needs; stop reaching into other pockets (whether it is toll booths or general funds) because you have a hole in the one where you keep your money. Fix the hole, use the gas tax, and stay out of debt!

More on other propositions.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hillary and blogging scandal

Hillary Ensnared in Bloggergate
Thursday, October 18, 2007 By: Richard Lawrence Poe

Call it "Bloggergate" — the subversion of the blogosphere by Democrat money.
To be more precise, Bloggergate is the subsidizing of left-wing bloggers with illegal Democrat campaign contributions, laundered through ostensibly “non-partisan” non-profit groups.
At a convention of left-wing bloggers last summer, Hillary Clinton announced, “We are . . . putting together a network in the blogosphere.”
Her remarks became public only three weeks ago, on Oct. 2, when an anonymous person posted a shaky, hand-held videotape of her speech on YouTube. In it, Hillary bragged that she had helped create “institutions” which had produced a left-wing “network in the blogosphere” capable of “matching” the alleged “advantage of the other side.”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Texas Cancer program & Proposition 15 - Not Needed

This is the total National Cancer Institute's Budget request for FY2008: $5,799,225 This budget is just one part of the huge budget of $30 billion for the National Institute for Health. Such huge Federal spending begs a simple question about state-level spending proposals: Why add more to it?

In a single year, the Federal Government will increase spending on cancer by $800 million, and spend more on cancer in one year than proposition 15 will spend in 10 years. It is a myth to suggest, as advocates have, that cancer spending is 'stagnant'; it's been growing. It's a myth too that the Texas incremental funding will change the pace of discovery and innovation in cancer research in any significant way. An incremental funding level of less than 5% of public and private research funding will only help in incremental way. This is not about curing cancer or not. This is about whether to saddle taxpayers at the state-level with state-directed research funding in a targetted area; and furthermore, about whether we should fund it with bonds and an endowment as opposed to other appropriations methods. Both aspects of this proposal are questionable.

Cancer is a worthwhile topic for research, but consider the bang for the buck factor: With the National Cancer Institute, over $5 billion a year is allocated and the cost to Texas taxpayers would equate (assuming Texas has 7% of Federal tax load) to about the $300 million commitment of proposition 15. Spending federal money gives a return on Texas cancer investment dollars 15 times greater than at state-level, since we are sharing the load across the U.S. If the goal is to accelerate curing cancer, incremental Federal funding would be a more equitable way to go. If the goal on the other hand is to keep research in Texas, one might well ask why not take a good slice of the $5 billion NCI funding instead. Prop 15 will cost a lot and deliver much less than what we get out of spending at NCI.

Furthermore, it is less likely that state-directed funding would focus on the best competitive research. Would a newly created state-level agency have the experience and expertise in targetting research as well as the NCI? No. The plan must be to keep the research in Texas, but would throwing money at a research center make it best-in-class? It should help upgrade research centers, but there is no guarantee this would happen.

Any problems over poor research would be limited if the $3 billion were appropriated yearly and subject to legislative oversight. But alas, that is the fatal flaw in this idea - it won't be. The funding will be on autopilot for 10 years. We are inviting a future scandal where we find out that the money was was mis-spent on inferior research. Once the votes say "aye", we are locked into a $3 billion 10-years commitment, even if the funding agency doesn't perform, even if the research opportunities to fund aren't up to par, even if we have buyer's remorse about focussing on cancer as opposed to other opportunities, even if the fiscal situation goes bad and we need to reprioritize state budgets.

These issues are compounded with the error of funding this program via bonds, which will add to costs via interest payments. So, instead of ongoing appropriations, we have an inflexible pig-in-a-poke that will lack the ability of oversight needed to keep the program efficient. For all these reasons - the excellent and well-funded Federal programs, the lack of accountability and oversight built into the proposal, and the inherent weakness in state-level directed research funding - the proposition 15 should be opposed. And it should be noted, whichever way the vote goes, it won't do anything to change our progress against cancer.

Sorry Lance, proposition 15 is not needed.

Climate Change Bills in Austin and Washington

Climate change bills before Congress propose regulating energy use intrusively and massively - at great cost and with little benefit. Heritage notes:

The current upward trend in temperatures is not unprecedented and will not lead to unprecedented catastrophes unless a very unlikely pattern appears, and this view is supported by the scientific evidence. Indeed, vir­tually all of the alarming rhetoric surrounding glo­bal warming--a massive rise in the sea level, deadlier hurricanes, the spread of tropical diseases, and other calamities--lies outside the scientific consensus. These climate bills would address real concerns, but these concerns are not catastrophic.

In addition, whatever the adverse consequences of warming, even the most stringent of the pending bills would reduce only a fraction of those conse­quences at a large cost. ... Ironically, carbon dioxide emissions in several Kyoto nations have risen faster in recent years than U.S. emissions. This raises serious questions about the efficacy of bills that mimic the Kyoto approach.

Climate legislation runs the real risk of doing more economic harm than environmental good. Congress should carefully weigh the costs of these proposed measures against the likely benefits.

This claim could be lobbed even more so against the foolish attempt by Mayor Wynn and the Austin city council to over-regulate housing construction, demanding drastic changes in energy use not only in new homes but even in existing homes that are sold.

The Austin proposal represents huge regulatory over-reach on the part of climate-crazed liberals, eager to stamp out the use of energy. Here's a simple "zero carbon footprint" solution - go nuclear for all Austin's electric needs. Then there is no reason or excuse to browbeat people into turning off their ACs or putting expensive solar panels on their house.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rate the Texas tax-and-spenders

TFR's Fiscal Responsibility Scorecard let's you check the fiscal responsibility rating of your local legislators. This judges the legislators on tax and spend issues. The bigger the tax-and-spender the lower the rating.

The Travis county legislators are all D's by party label and get Fs on fiscal responsibility:

  • Dukes (D) district 46 33.33%
  • Bolton(D) district 47 21.43%
  • Howard, Donna(D) district 48 33.33%
  • Naishtat (D) district 49 26.67%
  • Strama (D) district 50 43.75%
  • Rodriguez (D) district 51 28.57%
A sad case of fiscal irresponsibility, based on votes that included unraveling welfare reform, levying a 'granny tax' on nursing home residents, and choosing spending over tax relief, that may be spreading to Hays. Patrick Rose is better than the Travis contingent but is still flunking:
  • Rose (D) district 45 46.67%
These guys in Williamson are looking better but not great:
  • Krusee (R) 52 64.29%
  • Gattis (R) 20 66.67%
The prize for fiscal responsibility in the area must go to Nathan Macias, who represents Comal county.
  • Macias (R) 73 93.33%

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Guide to the 2007 Texas Constitutional Amendment election

Ballot language for the November constitutional amendment elections. Sources for information provided below includes info from, Texas Insider's Fresh Ink, Rep Hochberg.

Proposition 1 - HJR 103: "The constitutional amendment providing for the continuation of the constitutional appropriation for facilities and other capital items at Angelo State University on a change in the governance of the university."

What it does: This amendment updates the constitution to reflect that Angelo State University, once a part of the Texas State University System, is now part of the Texas Tech University System. Technical change. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 2 - SJR 57: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of $500 million in general obligation bonds to finance educational loans to students and authorizing bond enhancement agreements with respect to general obligation bonds issued for that purpose."

What it does: This amendment would allow the state to issue $500 million in bonds to finance education loans for college and university students. Authorizes debt-financed spending of money for a non-capital purpose, which is ill-advised. Recommendation: NO.

Proposition 3 - HJR 40: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide that the maximum appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem taxation is limited to the lesser of the most recent market value of the residence homestead as determined by the appraisal entity or 110 percent, or a greater percentage, of the appraised value of the residence homestead for the preceding tax year."

What it does: Clarifying that the appraised value of a homestead for property taxes cannot increase by more than 10% in any year, even if more than a year has passed since the home was last appraised. Technical change. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 4 - SJR 65: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects and for the purchase of needed equipment."

What it does: This proposition would authorize the state to issue $1 billion in bonds for needed equipment and construction projects for state agencies including Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Youth Commission, and Department of State Health Services. Authorizes debt-financed spending of money for a mixed capital and non-capital purpose. Recommendation: NO.

Proposition 5 - SJR 44: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit the voters of a municipality having a population of less than 10,000 to authorize the governing body of the municipality to enter into an agreement with an owner of real property in or adjacent to an area in the municipality that has been approved for funding under certain programs administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture under which the parties agree that all ad valorem taxes imposed on the owner's property may not be increased for the first five tax years after the tax year in which the agreement is entered into."

What it does: This amendment would authorize the Legislature to allow a city with a population under 10,000 to hold an election to freeze the property taxes for properties within or near areas designated for redevelopment under the Downtown Revitalization Program or the Main Street Improvements Program administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Since the actual language is quite specific, it begs the question of which if any specific town this was written for. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 6 - HJR 54: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation one motor vehicle owned by an individual and used in the course of the owner's occupation or profession and also for personal activities of the owner."

What it does: This proposition would authorize the Legislature by general law to exempt from ad valorem taxation one car owned by an individual that was used in the individual’s occupation or profession and also used for personal activities that did not involve the production of income. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 7 - HJR 30: "The constitutional amendment to allow governmental entities to sell property acquired through eminent domain back to the previous owners at the price the entities paid to acquire the property."

What it does: This amendment allows property that was sold to the government through eminent domain to be bought back by the seller at the original sales price if the government does not use the property. Technical change. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 8 - HJR 72: "The constitutional amendment to clarify certain provisions relating to the making of a home equity loan and use of home equity loan proceeds."

What it does: This amendment adds clarification and more precise language to existing provisions for home equity loans. Among the changes are a provision for a second home equity loan on the same property sooner than one year after the first home equity loan in the event of a declared state of emergency, such as a natural disaster. Technical change. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 9 - SJR 29: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt all or part of the residence homesteads of certain totally disabled veterans from ad valorem taxation and authorizing a change in the manner of determining the amount of the existing exemption from ad valorem taxation to which a disabled veteran is entitled."

What it does: With this amendment, a disabled veteran with a service-connected disability with a disability rating of 100 percent or totally disabled may be exempted from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of their residence homestead. It also adds some clarifications regarding exemptions for disabled veterans with less than 100 percent disability. Technical change. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 10 - HJR 69: "The constitutional amendment to abolish the constitutional authority for the office of inspector of hides and animals."

What it does: This amendment cleans up the wording of the constitution to remove references to the former office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. Technical change. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 11 - HJR 19: "The constitutional amendment to require that a record vote be taken by a house of the legislature on final passage of any bill, other than certain local bills, of a resolution proposing or ratifying a constitutional amendment, or of any other nonceremonial resolution, and to provide for public access on the Internet to those record votes."

What it does: This proposition would require a vote taken in either house of the Legislature to be by record vote if the vote was on final passage of a bill or any other measure other than a resolution of a purely ceremonial or honorary nature. Open Government. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 12 - SJR 64: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds by the Texas Transportation Commission in an amount not to exceed $5 billion to provide funding for highway improvement projects."

What it does: Proceeds from the sale of bonds authorized by this amendment can be used to pay for authorized highway improvement projects, costs associated with issuing the bonds, and making payments on related credit agreements. Recommendation: NO. See op-ed.

Proposition 13 - HJR 6: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the denial of bail to a person who violates certain court orders or conditions of release in a felony or family violence case."

What it does: Allows judges to deny bail to defendents in family violence cases who violate certain conditions of their initial release on bail. Gives judges flexibility in denying bail. This was put forth after a domestic violence case where a man violated bail conditions and ended up killing his wife; while this could be abused, it would be hard to deny giving judge's discretion when needed to deny bail. Recommendation: YES.

Proposition 14 - HJR 36: "The constitutional amendment permitting a justice or judge who reaches the mandatory retirement age while in office to serve the remainder of the justice's or judge's current term."

What it does: This proposition would allow judges who had reached the mandatory age of retirement (75 years old) during their termo of office to finish their terms. If an elected state justice or judge reaches mandatory retirement age during the first four years of the 6 year term to which they were elected, the expiration of that term would be on December 31 of the fourth year of the term. This is being done for the sake of one State Judge who doesn't deserve to have his stay in office extended. Recommendation: NO.

Proposition 15 - HJR 90: "The constitutional amendment requiring the creation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizing the issuance of up to $3 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for research in Texas to find the causes of and cures for cancer."

What it does: This proposition would establish the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorize the issuance of $3 million in bonds to fund research on all forms of human cancer. Recommendation: NO. See opinion.

Proposition 16 - SJR 20: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $250 million to provide assistance to economically distressed areas."

What it does: This authorizes the state to issue $250 million in bonds to help meet the water and wastewater infrastructure needs in economically distressed areas. Recommendation: No.

UPDATE: 10/23/07 - Updated Prop 14 and prop 16 to "No" after further review.

Friday, October 12, 2007

If I die before you wake...

This slide show and accompanying ballad, "If I Die Before You Wake" is a tribute to our brave soldiers in Iraq, who daily demonstrate their commitment to us and willingness to pay the ultimate price to defend and advance freedom.

Click here: If I Die Before You Wake - Powered by FlashPoint

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Take Back the Debate on SCHIP

Take Back the Debate on SCHIP
By Randy A. Samuelson

In watching the recent debates on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), I quickly realized that liberals are dominating the debate on the issue. Republican Presidential candidates are agreeing in principle that it is a proper role of government to provide health care for children. I have to wonder why conservatives are not changing the debate to fit our principles and goals instead of changing our goals and principles to fit the debate.

At the core of the conservative argument and debate should be that we are looking out for the best interest of families and children in America and we have the same common desires as the liberals. Our goals are the same, but our method is what is different. The liberals, who are controlling the debate, wish to create and expand taxes to provide government mandated health care for children, and eventually, everybody. Conservatives wish to utilize businesses and the expansion of the economy to provide for the needed insurance. Only by expanding our national economy through incentives for business can we have the necessary prosperity to ensure that all children are insured. Only businesses produce high-paying jobs and wealth. Government seizes wealth through taxes which takes away business incentives to create wealth and therefore creates a demand for additional government services and solutions.

The health care provided by SCHIP will eventually drive up the cost of insurance for all of us because the children who are given the insurance are high risk applicants for non-payment, diseases due to their living situations, and other such issues. For insurance companies to continue to provide this coverage to the recipients of SCHIP will require the rest of us to pay higher costs for our own health insurance, higher costs for actual health care so our doctors can make money, and higher taxes so the government can reimburse the insurance companies. How does this benefit the children? In reality, our children are given a loan by the federal government to spend on health care, but the interest rate on that loan in indiscernibly large through higher taxes and higher insurance premiums later in life.

Once again, the intentions of the liberals are offset by their plan of action to achieve such results. This is a prime opportunity for conservatives to take over the debate on this issue and push for personal Health Savings Accounts and the expansion of the economy so that individuals can afford to pay for their own health insurance instead of looking to the government. Conservatives, take back the debate! Stop agreeing with the liberals on the need for SCHIP and instead push for the economic policies that ensure that all Americans can afford affordable insurance!

Would Rudy Split the GOP?

I'm just asking. I mean, Hannity was spinning like a top today on the radio, talking about how we wouldn't have any issues decided or get anywhere as a country if we didn't win against the terrorists. All as a way to say "Forget about those other issues, pull the lever for Rudy."

Well, for one, is Rudy any better than Hunter, Thompson, Romney, McCain, or Tancredo on Iraq or global war on terror? he tries to be Mr 9-11 but he has less experience than McCain or Hunter. So if we want to win the war on terror, why not go for Hunter? Or McCain?

If we want to beat Hillary with someone with executive experience, why not go for the tailor-made to be the anti-Hillary - Mitt Romney, who is running on the Reaganesque themes of family values, fiscal restraint and strong military, has a great resume and beat a Hillary-clone liberal Democrat in a blue state in 2002?

And if we want a unifying conservative who the base can embrace, it might well be Fred Thompson. Fiscal conservative, federalist, pro-life record, etc. proven in 8 years in the Senate. And if he's not it, it could be, well ... anyone but Rudy Guiliani.

Rudy's nomination buys nothing for the GOP but a hangover; his nomination means open wounds and platform fights on social issues, and the fracturing of the Reagan coalition as attention gets focussed on the very issues Rudy would want to avoid. That is even without the threat of a 3rd party split, which could easily take out a crucial 3-5% of the vote and cause some 'Reagan Democrats' who voted Bush for prolife reasons to vote Hillary for economic reasons.

All this will only help the liberal Democrats and hurt conservatives.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Che Guevara, leftist mass murderer

The Statesman has a recent article on Che chic. It reminded me that I had previously written about how Che Guevera was a mass-murderer. Che was the executioner in a dictatorship that murdered people Castro felt might threaten the Government. Key Che facts:

  • Chief executioner for the Castro regime, responsible for the murder of thousands
  • Was appointed Cuba's Minister of Economics in 1960; within months the Cuban peso was practically worthless.
  • Was appointed Cuba's Minister of Industries in 1961; within a year a previously prosperous nation was rationing food, closing factories, and losing hundreds of thousands of its most productive citizens, who were happy to flee with only the clothes on their backs.

So what are we to make of people who go around adoring the current Liberal icons (like Hillary and Obama) while wearing a T-shirt that declares support for a mass-murderers with a beard? Are they idiots or dangerous ideologues? Or both?

The Shrinking Deficit

Unless you subscribe to the Texas Insider (or the Wall Street Journal), you might never know.
Where is the Austin American-Statesman on this?
The Shrinking Deficit
Published: 10-09-07 by Texas Insider

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its preliminary estimates for Fiscal Year 2007 that ended September 30, and the federal budget deficit fell again, this time by 35 percent to $161 billion, says the Wall Street Journal.:

• Since 2004, deficit spending has tumbled by $251 billion, which is one of the most rapid three-year declines in U.S. history.
• The deficit as a share of the economy is down to 1.2 percent or about half the average of the last 50 years.
• This improvement is especially remarkable given the $150 to $200 billion a year of post-9/11 expenses for homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

• Americans coughed up a record $2.568 trillion in taxes to the IRS in 2007, or 6.7 percent more than in 2006.
This means federal receipts have climbed by $785 billion since the 2003 investment tax cuts, the largest four-year revenue increase in U.S. history.
• Income, dividend and capital gains tax rates were all cut in 2003, but individual income tax receipts have soared by 46.3 percent in four years, with payments by the wealthy accounting for most of the windfall. • Last year's increase in individual income payments was 11.3 percent, or more than double the rate of growth in nominal GDP.
The overriding lesson here is that the best antidote for deficits is faster growth, not tax increases. The budget deficit has declined more rapidly this decade in the wake of the Bush tax cuts than it did in the 1990s in the wake of the Clinton tax increases. CBO is still forecasting a balanced budget in 2010, but if Congress gets its way on spending and taxes, all of this progress will be short-lived, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "The Shrinking Deficit," Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2007.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Phony Soldiers For Socialized Medicine

Via FreeRepublic and Rush, it turns out the 'poster child' for SCHIP expansion, who gave the Democrat ratio address on Saturday, is actually in a a well-off double-income family that sends their kids to private school and owns an expensive house and commercial property, begging the question of why they need taxpayers to pick up the tab for them on health care:
RUSH:This 12-year-old kid that the Democrats used in the Saturday radio address to whine and moan and cry to President Bush about the S-CHIP children's health program, it turns out that the family of this kid sends its kids to "one of Baltimore's expensive private schools." This family owns a house in a neighborhood of homes valued in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. This family bought commercial property in 1999 for $160,000.

This is Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old, and Frost's father is self-employed. He owns the building in which he works. His father makes about $45,000 a year while his mother is employed is at an unspecified salary by a medical publishing house that doesn't provide health insurance coverage. Bottom line. This is from Mark Tapscott, who is an editorial page editor at the Washington Examiner, has been tracking all this on the blogs. "Two points. First, people make choices and it's clear the Frosts have made choice to invest in property and a business, but not in private health insurance. The Maryland-administered version of the federal SCHIP program, by the way, does not impose an asset test on applicants." It's one of the states where you have no asset test, so anybody can be part of the program! What the Democrats did: "President Bush used his regular Saturday radio address yesterday to explain and defend his veto of the massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) approved last week by Congress. ... An hour later on national radio, the Democrats' response to Bush was delivered by Baltimore private middle school student Graeme Frost, who along with his sister was seriously injured in an auto accident three years ago.

Tuition for the private school they attend is a whopping $19,530. They can afford private school, but they need taxpayers to foot the bill for their health insurance? It doesn't make any sense. This follows a long tradition of Democrats finding 'poster child' cases to beat up Republicans, hard-luck cases that, upon further inspection, are not so hard-up after all.

Freeper DocRock has more:

During John Kerry's nomination acceptance speech during the 2004 DNC, he trotted out his health insurance "poster child", Mary Ann Knowles. Kerry stated that she had to "keep working day after day right through her chemotherapy, no matter how sick she felt, because she was terrified of losing her family's health insurance". In reality, she had excellent coverage with 26 weeks of paid disability leave, but she chose to work through most of her treatment because her husband was unemployed.

Al Gore tried this same tactic in 2000 with Winifred Skinner: Al Gore said, "It brings tears to your eyes. Here's this adorable, elderly woman out in Iowa who's so sick and so poor, that in order to pay for medicines she needs to stay alive, she has to scavenge in a local dump yard for cast-off tin cans." "She gets a small pension," he said. "But in order to pay for her prescription drug benefits she has to go out seven days a week, several hours a day, picking up cans."

It turns out, as the statement was rectified, Mrs. Skinner goes out zero days a week, for zero hours a day, and that she was only speaking "in the name of" people she assumes must do this.

In 1994, Hillary Clinton used Kathy Bush when citing her case as an example of the high cost of medical care. Later, investigators found her mother guilty of intentionally making her daughter sick and forcing her to undergo more than 40 needless surgeries, in what prosecutors called a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Taxpayers Await Future Bondage

$3 billion for Cancer. $5 billion for Roads. And $1 billion for prisons. Yikes. Don't ask where the budget surplus went, it will be going to debt bondage.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Free Zhiwen Wang!

Zhiwen Wang suffers in a Chinese prison because he believes in certain ideas more than in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and he was willing to express that belief to a high ranking member of that Party. As a Falun Gong practitioner he was simply expressing the fundamentals of his ethical/spiritual belief in truth, compassion, and forbearance (tolerance) to those around him. But, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, talking to the wrong person, and for that he is now halfway through a 16 year prison term.

Zhiwen's daughter is unrelenting in her campaign to secure the release of her father and his fellow imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners. She will travel the Globe to take advantage of opportunities to bring their unjust imprisonment and the unjust persecution of the masses of Falun Gong practitioners in China to the attention of a seeming apathetic world, as she recently did by traveling to Australia to hold a press conference outside the APEC meetings. She endures persecution from afar, right in her home in Austin, Texas as the CCP follows up her press conferences and other media outreaches with Internet postings (in Chinese) aimed to discredit, defame, and attack her.

The upcoming 2008 "Genocide Olympics" in Beijing could be an opportunity for something to break for Zhiwen Wang and the Falun Gong, but only if the US and European countries are willing to confront the Communist authorities. Will Bush's Compassionate Conservatism translate into a rebuke of his host for such human rights abuses when he attends the Olympics? I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to hear about it. But, Danielle might hold hers.

For Zhiwen, to have a daughter like Danielle, willing to lay down her life and take on the evil of the Chinese Communist Party, indeed of the world system, assured in her heart that through her efforts you will be set free from an unjust imprisonment, now that is success as a father, whether you remain in bonds or are set free.
As a Christian, I feel that when I stand up for the downtrodden and oppressed they see Christ in me. To stand with and express Christ's love to them in this way, even though they may not believe in Christ is something He calls me to do. Please pray for Zhiwen, Danielle, and the Falun Gong of China. Please see the stories linked below to learn more and to know better what to pray for.

Select a Candidate for President

Minnesota Public Radio has put together a useful tool to help citizens link their own positions on the issues with those of candidates and to learn about where the candidates stand on the issue. Taxpayers have funded MPR, so we might as well use the tool.

I was relieved that my views on the issues, as reflected to my answers to an 11 question version of the tool which MPR affiliate, WQAD, has on its website, returned my top three picks pretty much in the order I have them in my mind.

WQAD calls their version of this tool the SELECT A CANDIDATE QUIZ
, while the MPR version is called SELECT A CANDIDATE SURVEY and currently has 14 questions, including three important questions missing from the WQAD version. I recommend the SELECT A CANDIDATE SURVEY. Just click on the words below:

Select a Candidate: President

Please use this tool to educate yourself and others on the 2008 Presidential candidates' positions so we can better hone in on the real conservative who can beat you know who and go on to lead us our great nation in the direction we know she needs to go.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Courage to Stand Up to the Chinese Communist Party

My friend Danielle Wang, a Falun Gong practitioner who lives in Austin, Texas, understands all too well the evil nature of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), even though China did not make Bush's "Axis of Evil" short list. Her grandfather was murdered by members of the Red Guard when her mom was 14 years old. Her father, Zhiwen Wang, was arrested in 1999 during the initial stages of the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Zhiwen is halfway through a 16 year prison sentence for simply being a Falun Gong practitioner in "the wrong place at the wrong time." There is growing concern that many such prisoners are being murdered in prison through the harvesting of their organs for domestic Chinese use as well as for export to the international organ transplant market.

Danielle, a civil engineer-in-training and US Citizen has been maligned and defamed on the Internet by the Chinese, simply because she wishes to secure her father's release and because she is willing to expose the evil of the CCP in the process. Her courage in standing up to the CCP is gaining the attention of communities of faith. A growing number of Christians are rallying around Danielle, holding her and her father up in prayer.

More about Danielle in a later post.

The story featured in this post is yet another example of how the CCP will not tolerate anyone who dares stand up to them and expose the truth about their continuous abuse of human rights and disregard for human life.

The Courage to Stand Up

Thoughts on Gao Zhisheng's open letter to the U.S. Congress

By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Washington, D.C. Staff
Oct 06, 2007

We all saw the man in 1989 stop the tank at Tiananmen Square. Now comes another image which in its own right is just as threatening to the communist rulers of China. On Sept. 12 while under house arrest, Beijing attorney Gao Zhisheng, wielding the power of the pen, writes a 16-page letter addressed to the United States Congress, which lays bare the moral depravity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Video on busy legislators

See legislators on youtube running around the legislature pressing all the unattended vote buttons.
"Which should bother you more, that half aren't even there, or what happens when they're not?"
Verona Thornton commented: "I asked someone who worked for a legislator about it and she says that this only happens on procedural votes, not on important votes.
I sure wish I knew which procedure this one was.”

Click on:


It's another of those 70's things: You know, like high oil prices, housing inflation, and bell bottoms. TAX AND SPEND DEMOCRATS is a term that needs to be revived. The latest one of many new taxes the Democrats passed this year are the tax on smokers.

There is no 'good' tax. Taxes are a necessary evil, and when not necessary, taxes are merely evil.

Ronnie Earle beats chickens

Via RedState, we find out Ronnie Earle, Travis County DA, Dances Naked With Other Men While Beating Cooked Chickens. Ronnie Earle attended a weird, cult-like male weekend retreat called ManKind which coincidentally led to one man's suicide and seems to be engaging in unlicensed therapy. Earle would be familiar with that whole concept of trying to do something outside the bounds of one's real competence and legal authority - Is the DeLay witchhunt trial starting yet?

Muslim Brotherhood means to destroy US from within

The Muslim Brotherhood is an affiliation of at least 70 Islamist organizations around the world, all tracing their heritage to the original cell, founded in Egypt in 1928. Its credo: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Sayyid Qutb, hanged by the Egyptian government in 1966 as a revolutionary, remains its ideological godfather. His best-known work, Milestones, calls for Muslims to wage violent holy war until Islamic law governs the entire world.

Click here to read the full story.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Austin City and AISD budgets

Slicing up the Austin taxpayer pie...

The Austin city budget pie chart is shown below. This does not include the $300 million plus spent by Cap Metro; nor does it include the AISD budget of over $700 million; nor does it include the ACC budget of $157 million; nor does it include the Travis county budget of $400 million; nor does it include the Healthcare Tax district budget of over $50 million; nor does it include the Austin Energy slush fund. So what's left? Police, firemen, parks, and ... well, what exactly does transfer/others mean? Graft, corruption and waste?!? (the Chronicle says: "This nebulous category accounts for project funding and support staff in offices like sanitation or the law department. The budget proposes an increase for funding these offices, including council offices.")

Chart courtesy of Austin Chronicle. More on the budget here.

AISD: The AISD budget message shows the art of OBFUSCATION: What bureaucrats trying to hide the huge spending increases they are engaging in. The message says everything about the budget except the one essential thing - how big it is. Reading the full budget we find: The budget funding totals $748 million, an increase of 13% over the previous year; appropriations come in at $727 million, an increase of nearly 7%. Notably, state funding is doubling from $47 million to over $100 million, but local funding is not going down. AISD did the max tax increase they could without going to the voters, 4 points (from 1.34 to 1.37% valuation) and along with property value increases, that is keeping the local property taxpayers soaked. The cost per pupil is $9,700, but there is a chapter 41 recapture amount of $126 million for net cost per pupil of $8,000. The bottom line: A K-12 education for each single student in AISD costs over $100,000. PDF of full AISD budget.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

S-CHIP-Wreck of our Healthcare

SCHIP is just the ante into the pot for Socialized medicine. And Bush just shot down, with a veto, the Democrats' attempt to raise the ante and move us towards socialized medicine.

What exactly did the Democrats do? They grossly expanded and perverted the program in many ways: They included adults in a "children's" program; they raised taxes yet again (earlier it was on energy, now on cigarettes, tomorrow more income taxes); they increased Government spending and support for illegal aliens. One important socialistic change the Democrats want is for the Government to match based on state funding instead based on state need. That is a huge shift towards states that have over-generous programs and away from states that have more need but are more frugal. ... And for what? So the Democrats could have governmental health insurance a la Canada for " include families with incomes over $83,000 — in short, people who could buy health care but choose not to."

The SCHIP bill veto from President Bush was well-deserved. As IBD says, "Let SCHIP Veto Be Start Of A Trend":

As delivered to the White House, the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, known as SCHIP, was very bad legislation that would have created a massive new entitlement not for the needy, but for the middle class.
Democrats had portrayed SCHIP as a plan "for poor children." So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predictably called the veto "heartless." But it was nothing of the sort.
In reality, the bill was a cleverly concocted scheme to move the U.S. toward a nationalized health care system for all — the kind that Europe and Canada are now trying to undo.

IBD ends with:
Democrats like taxes and what they represent — an expansion of the government's power to take your money and spend it, leading to much higher spending and bigger government than we need.
That's why Bush's SCHIP veto is important. He's been criticized for a lack of spending restraint. Well, now he's showing it. Better late than never, we say.

The Democrats are exposing their tax-hiking, over-spending, socialistic pandering ways. If this becomes law, our healthcare system will be shipwrecked by yet more governmental spending, intrusion, taxation, and regulation. Will voters wake up in time for November 2008?

Federal Budget - the big picture

And I do mean big ... As in "billions and billions and billions" of dollars:

Is TAKS Too Easy?

Is the TAKS Test too easy? A study claims so:

The study found two national trends that apply in Texas, where the study was based on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in grades three through seven:
State reading tests are easier to pass than state math tests. Texas students pass the reading section of the TAKS more often than the math section, even though Texas students tend to do better on the math SAT, a college entrance exam, than on the verbal section.
Middle school tests are relatively more difficult to pass than tests for elementary grades.

We may be thinking our kids our better off then they are, but at least they are still 'above average' nationally speaking:
And though it raises questions about the difficulty of the TAKS, a separate set of newly released scores shows that Texas students are performing relatively well.

This year's National Assessment of Educational Progress, a reading and math test given in grades four and eight, showed that Texas scores beat the national average when comparing students from the same ethnic groups.

"Texas students seem to be outperforming their peers in most states," said Holly Eaton of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

The worry over testing, and the demand for nationalized testing is misplaced, as what really counts is whether the students are learning. Yet you don't need a national test to determine that, as even this study comparing state test shows. What we do need however, is to maintain state-level testing and make sure it is up to a rigorous enough standard to truly test academic progress.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Happy New Year! a.k.a. Hold on to your wallets.

The motto for federal employees today is “10-1!” What does this mean? Today is the beginning of the 2008 federal fiscal year and, you guessed it, bureaucrats are eager to spend your tax money! After having one month of limited spending due to the closing out of the books for the 2007 fiscal year, the shackles of fiscal responsibility are removed! Bureaucrats are on parole from spending restraints!

The amount of spending by bureaucrats in the 2008 fiscal year will determine how much money is appropriated to each agency in 2009. So, when you come across a federal employee today, wish them happy New Year and ask him “What are you doing to lower my taxes today?”