Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roll Over, Molly Ivins! The Krait Can Kick Texas Dumbos With The Best Of 'Em!

When it comes to stupid public officials, Texas leads the nation. Even better, the loons speak aloud and betray their profound ignorance in televised interviews with the editor of The Texas Tribune, Evan Smith. This blogger couldn't make either Governor Goodhair or Senator Cornball more stupid than they reveal themselves. On top of that, today's Op-Ed column by The Krait of the NY Fishwrap is chock full of Lone Star dumbass. Of course, the current grand prize for stupidity is held by Susan Combs (R-Austin), the Comptroller of Public Accounts. This genius was playing air traffic controller instead of Comptroller when her crack technology staff placed 3.5 million files containing the names and Social Security numbers of Texas retirees on a public server that could be accessed by ANYONE! Evidently, the staffers didn't want to ask the Comptroller to approve the purchase of a server for that sensitive information. Instead, the data managers found a FREE space of all of those files. End result: 3.5 million retirees are at risk for identity theft and the best the Comptroller's office an do is to offer a deal for credit report monitoring for $29.95! The Comptroller and her staff screw up and this blogger must pay to protect himself! Here is a case of criminal negligence by a public official and no one is calling for Susan Combs' head! If this is (fair & balanced) witlessness, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
The New Anti-Abortion Math
By Gail Collins

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

One of my favorite stories about the Texas State Legislature involves the time Senator Wendy Davis [D-Fort Worth] was trying to ask a colleague, Troy Fraser [R-Horseshoe Bay], some questions about a pending bill. Fraser deflected by saying, “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.”

Really, she was standing right there on the floor. Holding a microphone.

These days in the budget-strapped, Tea-Party-besieged State Capitol, you can be grateful for any funny anecdote, no matter how badly it reflects on Texas politics in general. Like the time Governor Rick Perry [R-Paint Creek] defended the state’s abstinence-only birth control program by saying that he knew abstinence worked “from my own personal life.” [See Governor Goodhair on abstinence education here.]

Right now, the state is wrestling with a fiscal megacrisis that goes back to 2006, when the Legislature cut local property taxes and made up for the lost revenue with a new business tax. The new tax produced billions less than expected to the shock and horror of everyone except all the experts who had been predicting that all along.

Governor Perry blames the whole thing on President Obama.

Texas’ problems are of interest to us all because Texas is producing a huge chunk of the nation’s future work force with a system that goes like this:

• Terrible sex education programs and a lack of access to contraceptives leads to a huge number of births to poor women. (About 60 percent of the deliveries in Texas are financed by Medicaid.) Texas also leads the nation in the number of teenage mothers with two or more offspring.

• The Texas baby boom — an 800,000 increase in schoolchildren over the last decade — marches off to underfunded schools. Which are getting more underfunded by the minute, thanks to that little tax error.

And naturally, when times got tough at the State Capitol, one of the first things the cash-strapped Legislature tried to cut was family planning.

“It’s in total danger,” said Fran Hagerty, who leads the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas.

One of the best family-planning efforts in Texas is the Women’s Health Program, which provides an annual health exam and a year’s worth of contraceptives to poor women. For every dollar the state puts into the plan, the federal government provides $9.

The state estimates the pregnancies averted would reduce its Medicaid bill by more than $36 million next year. But when a budget expert told the Texas House Committee on Human Services that the program saved money, he was laced into by Representative Jodie Laubenberg [R-Rockwall] for using “government math.”

“You speculate that,” she snorted.

Meanwhile, on the House floor, anti-abortion lawmakers were stripping financing for other family-planning programs. Representative Randy Weber [R-Pearland] successfully moved part of the money into anti-abortion crisis centers for pregnant women.

“There’s been research done.... It actually shows the highest abortion rate is among women actively using contraceptives,” Weber insisted.

“These folks are anti-abortion, anti-contraception and anti-science,” said Representative Mike Villarreal [D-San Antonio], who tangled with Weber during the debate.

Villarreal has had a rather dark view of the rationality of some of his colleagues ever since he tried to improve the state’s abstinence-only sex education programs by requiring that the information imparted be medically accurate. It died in committee. “The pediatrician on the committee wouldn’t vote for it; he was the swing vote,” Villarreal recalled.

Welcome to the fact-free zone. This week, U.S. Senator John Cornyn [R-San Antonio] gave an interview to Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune in which he claimed that the battle in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood “was really part of a larger fight about spending money we don’t have on things that aren’t essential.” [See the interview here.]

There are a lot of fiscal conservatives in the anti-abortion movement, and it’s apparently hard for them to admit that destroying Planned Parenthood is a money-loser.

There’s also a resistance to government support for contraceptive services. “There are some people in the pro-life movement who think birth control pills of all kind are abortifacients,” said Senator Bob Deuell, a Republican [R-Greenville]. “But I don’t see any medical evidence.”

Deuell is one of those rare abortion opponents who is dedicated to the cause of helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy in the first place. He says his allies in the anti-abortion movement haven’t objected to his approach, but he admitted that they haven’t been handing him any medals either.

We’re currently stuck with a politics of reproduction in which emotion is so strong that actual information becomes irrelevant. Senator Cornyn, in his interview, was reminded of the great dust-up his colleague Jon Kyl of Arizona created when he claimed that 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood did involved abortions. When challenged, Kyl’s staff said the figure “was not intended to be a factual statement.”

So did Cornyn agree that Kyl screwed up?

“I’m not so sure,” Cornyn said. Ω 

[Gail Collins joined the New York Times in 1995 as a member of the editorial board and later as an op-ed columnist. In 2001 she became the first woman ever appointed editor of the Times editorial page. At the beginning of 2007, she took a leave in order to complete America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines. Collins returned to the Times as a columnist in July 2007. Collins has a BA (journalism) from Marquette University and an MA (government) from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.]

Copyright © 2011 The New York Times Company

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