Austin’s Problems

That liberal blue dot in the middle of Texas (that everyone wants to move to) is an inclusive and progressive place, right? Actually not so much, considering the African-American population of the city dropped as the overall population grew by 20%.

To me, this is just the latest troubling facet of a city – which i still love dearly – but has clearly grown too damn fast and is a victim of reading its own press-releases. Lets take a brief tour of where we stand:

  • Affordable housing is a damned myth in this city, with voters nixing bond issues to support it and neighborhood associations engaging in trench warfare on increased density in the form of ‘granny flats’ – allowing single family homes to add small rentals or garage apartments on their properties.
  • We prioritize heath-care for musicians over heath care for children and the families in poverty. I appreciate the benefits of a music scene in this city, but this is just stupid and morally wrong.
  • Transportation has reached a mind-bogglingly inane level of incompetence – toll lanes on Mopac, but very little actual extra road, Toll projects that make no sense, a metro-rail alignment that – holy shit where do you even start with that? We’re going to build a $600M train to take everyone from Highland Mall to East Riverside, instead of the Guad–Lamar alignment that most people asked for?
  • We’re going to run out of water.
  • Looking at Transportation on a regional level should have started years ago – that anyone can look at I-35 and say, ‘hrm yeah, that seems like an ok situation,” is border-line insane. Regional rail is starting to come into the conversation, but honestly its five-years late.
  • Seriously, we are going to run out of water – why is no one else worried about this?
  • Back to the earlier point – Austin may actually be the most racially divided city in the state. Nobody likes to talk about it, and more importantly little is being done about it (see above).

Perhaps geographic city council districts (10-1) will be the start of fixing some of this, but as someone whose been here for 12 years of boom-town, it’s hard to see a place i love turned into another characterless urban jungle. Time will tell i guess if we can address our real problems and turn this into the real city it has the potential to be, or if we just continue to focus on keeping it weird for the sake of the tourists.







Terror & Guns

Our lack of gun control policy, and blind compliance with a false interpretation  of the second amendment is becoming a national point of shame.

If a 22-year-old Muslim man stabbed his roommates to death in their sleep, embarked on a killing spree, and claimed in written and video manifestos that he acted to teach hated women a lesson, there’s little doubt that many would label him a terrorist. That label was scarcely appended to the Santa Barbara killer after his murders.

And if a Muslim couple stormed into a fast-food restaurant armed with a duffel bag full of military gear, shouted, “This is the beginning of the revolution!” and pinned a flag associated with their political movement to the dead bodies of the police officers they executed at point-blank range—then killed another innocent person and carried out a suicide pact rather than being taken alive—there is no doubt that many media outlets would refer to the premeditated attack as an act of terrorism. With a few exceptions, that’s not how this week’s news from Las Vegas played out.



So then there was that day at work when Joe Biden showed up.

The Filibuster

So, last night at 11:50 I sat and watched (with slightly misty eyes) Democracy work. It was surreal almost, movie like. From what I’ve heard form folks who were there the lines to get in the Senate chamber wrapped around the rotunda twice and spanned all three floors.

As the special session’s midnight deadline approached, Democrats used parliamentary maneuvers to try to appeal Davis’ third strike, stalling debate for about two hours. The tension escalated at about 11:45 p.m., when Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putteof San Antonio, who earlier in the day had attended her father’s funeral, objected as Republican leaders refused to recognize one of her motions.

“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” she said, sparking a chorus of cheers and screams that swelled as protesters tried to run out the clock. The pandemonium drowned out a last-minute effort by Republicans to vote on the bill, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, after about three hours of confusion on the floor over whether the bill had been approved, announced that the vote had come too late.

So. What does it matter? Another session could be called, something equally as onerous could probably be passed with more brutal-handed tactics. No, what’s really interesting is you saw David Dewhurst completely loose control of a chamber he perviously ruled with an iron fist. It showed the petty and fraudulent lengths that state Republicans were willing to go to. It made a laughing stock of cable news as a quarter-million people say glued to YouTube feeds while CNN discussed muffins. And somewhere in those shouts from the gallery were the echos of  Texas Democrats of the past and a future Texas that might yet turn blue.

Texas Cares

Coming on the heels of Texas being ranked last in service delivery in the country (yes, behind Oklahoma, Mississipi and Arkansas), and a sharp decline in Medicaid acceptance, the governor in has decided to go ahead and turn down millions of matching dollars in medicaid funding. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean Texas won’t participate in the Affordable Care Act  – the federal government will setup the exchanges, while other states will receive funding.

No person with a speck of intelligence would turn down billions in federal dollars that would be a boon to our economy and help Texans,” spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña said in a statement. “… Rick Perry’s Texas solution is to let Texans stay ill and uninsured. That is not a health care plan.”


Ironically, by turning down this funding (for purely political reasons), the governor has actually opened Texas to increased involvement form the Federal Government.

Affordable Care

Thieves are dumb – lets just establish that as a ground-rule for this post. When an asshole spends what appears to be a significant amount of time and energy ripping a really crappy TV out of the wall, after you’ve painstakingly routed cables, tearing a massive hole in the sheetrock – all because he didn’t stop to unscrew the VGA cable? Well lets just say you start to loose some faith in this country if our criminals are throwing down this level of shoddy work. (tl;dr – We were burgled this week after just three weeks in the new house).

Solace and a glimmer of hope, that we as a people –  nay as race – may yet survive and thrive past the coming dumbpocolypse came on Thursday from an unlikely source: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. For whatever reason (and i’ve heard a few, ranging from this is a grandstand move to establish his legacy, to he was high as a kite) the court despite itself and a slew of  lawsuits based on (lets be honest) sexist and regressive policy, pushed the tide of stupid back just a bit.  From Anne Dunkelberg, Center for Public Policy Priorities writing for The Texas Tribune….

For the very first time, the U.S. will create a system to guarantee a decent standard of health care will be affordable for every lawfully present American. The sliding-scale system is not perfect, but it is a huge step to be finally starting down that road.

The second fundamental shift will change the ground rules for the health insurance marketplace, so that insurers can no longer profit by avoiding people with health care needs; instead, they will have to win business through good care management, good pricing, and good customer service. In 2014, no one can be turned down and no one can be charged more because of their health status. This profound change will also liberate Texans trapped in a job today just to keep their coverage.


What Dunkleburg captures is the core fallacy of the conservative argument: That we should let the market sort it out. Unless I’m missing something here, this bill is about as market friendly as you can get, unless you think that a Libertarian style system would work for Health Care. So setting aside that argument what Affordable Care Act opponents really oppose is expanded overage for the poor (something that has been proven to lower the overall cost of the system), expanded coverage  for preventative care  (something that has been proven to lower the overall cost of the system), coverage for pre-existing conditions (don’t be a dick) and equal coverage for women (seriously, dont be a dick).

I wasn’t around for it, but its seem like what we witnessed this week will be held in similar regard to the landmark legislation of the last century, like the Voting Rights Act. And to me it seems reasonable to group the ACA opponents in with the guy who ripped the TV out of my wall – expending a lot of time and energy, making a huge mess over something we know how to fix (just unscrew the VGA plug, dude), while putting everyones well being at risk, themselves included.

House VAWA


The bill’s passage came despite opposition from more than 320 advocacy groups, including faith-based groups, women’s organizations, civil rights groups and domestic violence workers groups. During the debate, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) pressed Adams to name groups that supported her bill.

“Well, Mr. Conyers, I can say I do,” Adams said.

“I’m glad to know that,” Conyers replied. “I think that just about tells everybody where the logic and the support for this bill is. There is none.”

That isn’t entirely correct, though: The National Coalition of Men endorsed the bill on Tuesday.


From Daring Fireball….

But it’s not like there isn’t a damn good source that suggests Apple’s plans for K-12 textbooks are anything short of ambitious and transforming. I’m guessing Apple’s pitch to the textbook companies is something like this: “Digital transformation of your industry is inevitable. Here’s our plan; we’d like you to come along for the ride. But if you choose not to, we won’t hesitate to leave you behind.”

One potential byproduct of an Apple foray into textbooks? The much needed diminishment of Texas’ influence in the content of curricula across the country.

Additionally, i imagine as we roll out ciruccula for say, a teen dating violence program nationwide, we’d neeed to be on the cutting edge of these tools to remain relevant, especially if we have any hope of engaging a youth audience.


Oh wow, Rick…

It’s not often you get to see a person implode live on national television – but wow. Really, I’d like to thank the GOP, Fox News and the Tea Party – your insistence that Rick Perry is a viable candidate – I guess be because he illegally shoots wild life while jogging –  may have just taken our eternal governor, he-who’s-hair-must-be-coifed, and shown him the slightly chared exit to the governor’s mansion.

But the Texas Job Miracle, the education reform, the balanced budget, that stand-up to Washington attitude? Here, Republican friends, who i respect and admire for your misguided fiscal conservitude, your ironic efforts to shrink government while piling money on the single largest consumer of tax dollars (defense) and your repeated beseeching of the country folk (who in all honesty are probably more liberal than you think) – here I give you…information.

The worst part of the probably-kaput-campaign: Not just the inevitable number of Aggie jokes that will come out of this, but once again Texas is represented by jingoistic, reactionary politician that represent a very small percentage to the Texans I know.

Big twelve minus three

So, the Aggies are headed east.

Some observers believe Friday’s launch of the Longhorn Network cable TV channel, a collaboration between UT and ESPN, played a major role in A&M’s decision to jump ship.

“We can’t argue with the fact that the reason they are picking up their toys and leaving is the creation of the Longhorn Network, which, on paper, they believe gives Texas a competitive advantage,” said Mike Cramer, executive director of the UT’s Texas Program in Sports and Media.

So Texas creates their own network, but still expects everyone to want to hangout. This is like the time I cooked dinner at my house for my neighbors, but everybody was required to bring their own silverware, plates, plan the menu and pay for the food. Oh wait, I never did that, as I’m not a horses ass.

At what juncture is this just going to be OU and Texas playing one game a year? Or is it already and whats the point?