Texas Will Survive the Oil Glut, Thank You.

Screwing with Putin by killing the profits of the petro-state does not seriously threaten Texas, according to this Federal Reserve Report from the Dallas Branch.

http://www.dallasfed.org/research/heart/index.cfm

The vice president of the FRB-D  says that there are large “industry clusters” around the state where the economy is stable.

She says industries with high-paying jobs – like government, technology, construction, biomedical and defense – may not grow very quickly, but they don’t tend to lose jobs.

(Researchers) look at the question of why cities tend to grow faster,” she says. “They tend to grow faster because firms tend to group into industries and specialize, so certain regions are specialized in certain industries. This increases productivity growth. It raises wages for workers and it has a lot of benefits on growth.

Orrenius says the report shows a surprising diversification in industry in places like San Antonio, one trend that mimics the nation as a whole.

You really see some interesting insights,” she says. “We know that Houston is a huge center of the oil and gas industry in the nation, but then you see that Dallas, for example, has a very large concentration of professional and business services.”

The Report says that Austin bounced back from the Recession paced by its large and fast-growing high-tech sector.  Austin currently ranks first on The Kauffman Startup Index.

The Midland-Odessa Region will contract during the Glut, but that region has faced this before, many times, so it is “mature” in its handling of the situation.

Despite Houston’s huge petrochemical industry, diversification is pronounced. The Report says that “with five metropolitan areas of 1 million or more residents, Texas has more big cities per capita than the other large U.S. states with the exception of Florida and Ohio. Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston rank among the top five largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. in terms of both population and economic output. In fact, Texas is the only state to have two metros in the top five.”

Gay Conservatives Denied ‘Official’ Spot at Texas GOP Convention

From KUT in Austin I heard the following.

The Texas Republican Party has denied the Log Cabin Republicans a space at next week’s state convention. Log Cabin Republicans represent gay conservatives and supporters of marriage equality in the party.

Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Gregory Angelo says the state party denied the group’s application for a booth at the convention because, as homosexuals, they disagree with a plank in the party platform. The plank reads, in part, that “homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.”

“It was our obligation to let the voters of Texas know and to let members of the Republican Party in Texas know that that language is in the party platform and it is being used to intentionally exclude gay Republicans from formal participation in the state GOP convention,” Angelo says.

A state party is not purely a private club.  We learned that early in the civil rights struggles for black Texans.  In Smith v. Allwright (1944), the Supreme Court ruled on a challenge to a 1923 Texas state law that had delegated authority to state conventions of political parties to make rules for their primaries. It ruled that the law violated the protections of the Constitution because the state allowed a discriminatory rule (no “negroes”) to be established by the Democratic Party.  However, homosexuals are not being excluded here per se – in fact, the Log Cabin Rs who were elected delegates will be in attendance and will be voting.  They will not be allowed a “booth”.

My own view of this bolded language in the Texas Republican platform is that it is wrong as a matter of fact and deeply prejudiced as a matter of practice. It is prejudiced as a matter of practice because no individual homosexual could be judged upon her own gifts and graces if her self-identification as a homosexual tears at the fabric of society.

The plank will not scare off any Rs in TX.  Those who disagree with it will think it is a low priority and those who agree with it will strongly approve.  There is a difference of enthusiasm here.

QB noted those of us who don’t think consenting private sexual conduct is a moral issue do so by reason of a libertarian slant.  He made the case that while he did not believe there should be legal consequences for CPA sex, same sex marriage was not itself private conduct.  This plank morally condemns private conduct and, I think, even status.  While codifying this moral condemnation into law is not a requisite, I think it would be a natural result, because it happened historically.

Imagine yourself on the platform committee of the Texas Republican Party.  Do you vote for or against this plank?  Do you argue for or against it, and if you do, do you argue on moral or political grounds?  Do you think it is an important plank or a throwaway?

 

 

 

 

A Proposal to Shake Things Up

It is time to revisit the Reapportionment Act of 1929.  That law set the number of Representatives at 435 but did not restate the 1911 provision that districts be contiguous, compact, and equally populated.  The Supreme Court eventually restored “equally populated” in the one-man one vote decisions which were key civil rights cases of the early 1960s, spearheaded by Alabama Attorney General Richmond Flowers.  We have never come back to “contiguous (and) compact.”

 
435 was set as the number because of the size of the chamber.  I suggest that limitation is a mere logistical issue that can be overcome in many ways that need not be addressed here.

 
Take the least populated state in each decennial census and give it one Rep.  Then give other states multiples rounded up so that 1.51 WY in 2010 equals 2.  Expand the House as necessary.

 
Done for 2010, the total membership of the HoR would now be 544.  CA would have 66.  TX would have 44.  NY would have 34.  FL would have 33.  Make the mandate “contiguous and compact, leaving entire municipalities and entire counties within a single district wherever possible.”

 
Shake things up a bit.  We might get Congress to actually support it because it makes for more Congressmen, each with somewhat more manageable districts for campaign purposes.  Of course, it would effectively end the gerrymander.

TEXAS—–OMG

I’ve been out of touch the last couple of days due to network issues with wordpress but you’ll be happy to hear I’m back….hah.  And contrary to popular opinion Scott isn’t the one who’s always bringing up abortion……I am.  You might be asking yourself, why?  I’ll tell you why, because there are at least 10 states where the legal right to an abortion has been compromised to the point where they’re threatening the health of women who are in their reproductive years.

If what’s happening in Kansas is true I think it’s one of the most outrageous backwards slide in women’s healthcare that I’ve heard of recently and that’s balanced against the fact that I just found out we’re sterilizing female prisoners apparently against their will here in CA still.

Kansas

The first is a troubling provision to  redefine what constitutes a medical emergency so that pregnant women experiencing life-threatening complications — including hemorrhaging, infection and ruptured ectopic pregnancies – would be forced to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining an emergency abortion. After signing the legislation that would imperil the lives of pregnant women in medical emergencies, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback remarked: ”All human life is sacred. It’s beautiful. With this, we continue to build this culture of life in our state.”

And that brings me to Texas from the same link above:

And while Texas’ current battle over reproductive rights has grabbed unprecedented national attention, this isn’t the state’s first rodeo. During the 2011 legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed a two-year budget cutting $73 million from family planning programs. In 2012, Gov. Rick Perry dissolved the state’s partnership with the federal Women’s Health Program and forfeited millions in Medicaid funding for low-income women’s healthcare. Republican lawmakers were unabashed about the reasoning behind such extreme measures, which was, as state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, openly  acknowledged to “defund the ‘abortion industry.”

Perhaps, as many conservatives claim, there are more women out there who support these restrictive measures than I imagine there are, and so I guess we’ll see what happens now that the GOP has picked abortion as their social issue of the decade since they’ve lost the war on gay marriage.

The occupation of the Texas state capitol by angry women caught the national imagination, perhaps due to the drama of Davis’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment, which immediately went viral over the social networks. Similar mass protests by women have taken place elsewhere, too, including last week in Ohio — a pivotal presidential election state — where the Statehouse was crowded with women dissenters.

The importance of Davis’s stand, however, is the way it has inspired a nationwide discussion about the creeping encroachment on abortion rights that has been taking place without widespread media coverage in statehouses across the nation.

And I read somewhere yesterday that a pro-life protest in Austin with about 1,000 protesters bussed in from out of state was over run with over 5,000 local women and men protesting the upcoming abortion bill that’s sure to pass the TX legislature and be signed by the Governor.  I submit that this legislation is quite possibly happening not only against the will of the people but that the Texas GOP will pay a price.  Here’s a poem an abortion activist by the name of Katie Heim read yesterday which seems oddly appropriate for Texas.

If my vagina was a gun, you would stand for its rights,
You would ride on buses and fight all the fights.
If my vagina was a gun, you would treat it with care,
You wouldn’t spill all its secrets because, well, why go there.
If my vagina was a gun, you’d say what it holds is private
From cold dead hands we could pry, you surely would riot.
If my vagina was a gun, its rights would all be protected,
no matter the body count or the children affected.
If my vagina was a gun, I could bypass security,
concealed carry laws would ensure I’d have impunity.
If my vagina was a gun, I wouldn’t have to beg you,
I could hunt this great land and do all the things men do.
But my vagina is not a gun, it is a mightier thing,
With a voice that rings true making lawmakers’ ears ring.
Vaginas are not delicate, they are muscular and magic,
So stop messing with mine, with legislation that’s tragic.
My vagina’s here to demand from the source,
Listen to the voices of thousands or feel their full force.

And honestly, I keep thinking I’m done discussing the abortion issue, and then another state passes what I consider a life threatening restriction, or another Republican lawmaker makes a bone-headed statement and here I am again pointing it out.   I’m way beyond the point of caring about the issue personally, but as a woman, I think it’s important to keep the issue front and center as long as there are conservatives trying to undermine and reverse the right to abortion that women currently have to the extreme extent they’re doing it.

Sunday Open Thread

76,000 qualified nursing school applicants were turned away in the last 12 months.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/08/03/156213925/nursing-schools-brace-for-faculty-shortage

My advice: don’t bother with the Danish raunch comedy movie, Klown.

Seven minutes of terror:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/08/landing-mars-science-laboratory

Despite speculation, the Castro twins are the future of the D Party in TX, if it has a future.  I will go further: they represent the future of the entire D Party, if it has a future.

http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/julian-castro/despite-speculation-castro-not-eyeing-new-role/

Just why would Iranians have a “pilgrimage” to Damascus?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-rebels-say-captured-iranians-are-members-of-pro-government-militias-not-pilgrims/2012/08/05/b93a8730-df14-11e1-a19c-fcfa365396c8_story.html?hpid=z1

British jocks are performing so well in front of the home crowd.  Congrats to all the Brit medal winners.  Murray beat Federer.

Secession Today – a Texas scenario

March 30, 2012

It’s a popular idea in Texas that the Lone Star State — once an independent republic — could break away and go it alone. A few years ago, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hinted that if Washington didn’t stop meddling in his state, independence might be an option. In his brief run for the White House, he insisted that nearly anything the feds do, the states — and Texas in particular — could do better.

So we’re putting Perry’s suggestions to the test — NPR is liberating Texas. We asked scholars, business leaders, diplomats, journalists and regular folk to help us imagine an independent Texas based on current issues before the state. (Though, to be clear, no one quoted here actually favors secession.)

We begin our exercise in Austin, capital of the new Republic of Texas, where the Independence Day party raged until dawn to the music of Austin’s own Asleep at the Wheel. Lead singer Ray Benson announced to the crowd, “We have severed the ties with the United States of America. Texas is free!” and the masses roared in response.

The former state has reinvented itself as a sort of Lone Star Singapore, with low taxes, free trade and minimal regulation. It enters the community of nations as the world’s 15th-largest economy, with vast oil and gas reserves, busy international ports, an independent power grid and a laissez-faire attitude about making money.

Texas Is ‘Open For Business’

The Texas Association of Business advertises the new nation’s economic potential with a radio ad that declares, “Texas: Now it is a whole other country — and it’s open for business … C’mon over. Be part of our vibrant free-market nation.”

Driving around Texas, it’s not uncommon to spot bumper stickers that tout the idea of an independent Longhorn nation.

“What we have been able to do since we threw off the yoke of the federal government is create a country that has the assets necessary to build an incredible empire,” says Bill Hammond, the association’s president.

Imagine airports without the Transportation Security Administration; gun sales without the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; land development without the Endangered Species Act; new congressional districts without the Voting Rights Act; and a new guest-worker program without Washington gridlock over immigration reform.

Indeed, new immigration laws sailed through the Texas Congress. Immigrant workers are now legally crossing the border to frame houses, mow lawns and clean hotel rooms.

“We now have a safe and secure guest-worker program that allows immigrants to come and go as the jobs ebb and flow, and fill the jobs that Texans are unwilling to do,” Hammond says.

The new normal is a leaner government that bears little resemblance to the full-service nation it left behind. The Tea Party faithful who embraced nationhood early on say it’s a lot better than being beholden to Chinese bankers.

“What is the Republic of Texas charged with actually doing? [It’s] charged with defense, charged with education, charged with a few things that you have to do, and the rest is wide open,” says Felicia Cravens, a high school drama teacher active in the Houston Tea Party movement. “Liberty may look like chaos, but to us it’s a lot of choices.”

Under statehood, the U.S. government contributed 60 percent of all Texas aid to the poor. In an independent republic, federal benefits like food stamps, free school lunches and unemployment compensation would disappear, according to two Dallas Tea Party leaders.

“Liberty may look like chaos, but to us it’s a lot of choices.”

“The nation of Texas is a living experiment into what we call the empowerment society. It is no longer a caretaker society,” says Ken Emanuelson, founder of the Grassroots Texans Network.

Texas Tea Party member Katrina Pierson adds, “There’s a safety net that’s always been out there. We don’t have that anymore. You will be a productive member of society and our environment doesn’t allow for people to not be productive.”

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson imagines that low-wage Texas would become a new magnet for assembly plants that might have considered setting up shop in Mexico or Malaysia.

“Since Texas has become independent, we are surprised — and some are pleased — to see that maquiladora [or foreign-owned] plants are springing up on the south side of the Red River and on the Sabine [River],” Jillson says. “The American South is complaining because some plants are moving to Texas.”

With independence, the epic battles between the state of Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency would finally be over. The state sued the EPA repeatedly for telling Texas how to run its refineries and coal-fired power plants. Business experts say the new republic would rely on voluntary pollution controls with minimal oversight — a boon to the industrial sector. But how would that go over with residents of refinery towns who have to breathe the air where they live?

“I am very, very skeptical that the nation of Texas will do a good job at protecting the health and safety of the people, because the EPA is no longer in the equation,” says Hilton Kelley, founder and director of the Community Empowerment and Development Association in Port Arthur. “It’s all about petroleum; it’s all about money.”

‘Peeling Back The Onion’ Of Texan Independence

As an independent country, Texas’s red granite capitol building would no longer fly the American flag, only the Lone Star. The new nationalism that breaks out inside the new government would soon be tempered by an independence hangover.

“Every day we’re peeling back the onion and finding another level of complexity that I don’t think anybody initially anticipated,” says Harvey Kronberg, longtime editor and publisher of the Texas political newsletter Quorum Report.

According to Kronberg, a modern sovereign nation requires more — not less — government than a state would. Consider all the new departments it would need to monitor things like foreign affairs, aviation and nuclear regulation. And then there are all the expenses Washington used to take care of — things like maintaining interstate highways, inspecting meat and checking passports.

“Reality is beginning to stagger the folks in the [capitol] building,” Kronberg says.

Public education is a good example. In 2011, the Texas state Legislature slashed billions of dollars from school systems at a time when Texas was already 43rd among the states in per pupil spending and dead last in the number of adults who completed high school.

Steve Murdock, the former Texas state demographer and current director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas, expects that things would not improve under the budget of a struggling infant nation.

“For Texas to be the competitive nation that we would all wish it would be, it has to make major improvements in education,” Murdock says, “because right now it’s falling short.”

Texas writer Joe Nick Patoski sits on a bench in downtown Austin, ruminating on the hassles of self-rule.

“You can’t get in the car and go to New Orleans [and] be there in six hours anymore,” he says. “Listen, have you been to the Louisiana checkpoint in Vinton? They’re extracting some kind of revenge, the way they treat us as Third World citizens.”

Patoski imagines losing a number of friends to the post-secession “Texodus,” when U.S. citizens fled Texas for the Upper 48 states. He says he’s rooting for the republic, but he’s anxious for its future.

Today, all that marks the state line between Texas and Louisiana are welcome signs. After independence, those signs would most likely be replaced with the customs and immigration checkpoints that come with any border crossings.

“I’m still proud to be a Texan,” he says, “but I wish they would’ve thought this through before they jumped and cut the cord.”

Step 1: Don’t Go To War With Oklahoma

During the state’s first run as a republic, from 1836 to 1845, Texas established diplomatic relations with England, France, the Netherlands and the United States. Today, the modern nation of Texas would find even more countries eager to build embassies in Austin, says Carne Ross of Independent Diplomat, a New York firm that advises fledgling nations.

“Because of Texas’ wealth — [it’s the] 15th-largest economy in the world — [foreign nations] do not want to have bad relations with Texas,” Ross says. “There are many countries, China for instance, that want to preserve their ability to access countries with major oil and gas reserves, so Texas fit into that.”

Unlike the first republic, a modern nation of Texas needs to have positions on things like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“But what was interesting was that Texas’ positions were often quite different from the remaining United States,” Ross says.

What would Texas’s foreign policy entail? Country singer and humorist Kinky Friedman imagines what he would do as the Texas secretary of foreign affairs.

“I think the first thing we would do is go to the Third World countries and teach the women how to grow big hair and give the men Rick Perry wigs,” he says. “I will keep us out of war with Oklahoma. And one of the first countries we’ll open free trade with is Cuba. We will be opening cigar stores all over Texas. We’re not supporting their economy; we’re burning their fields.”

From Texas To La Republica De Tejas

Texas might see itself as culturally akin to its former fatherland, but as time goes on, the nation’s destiny would be determined by its genetic ties to the south. If current demographic growth continues, Texas will become majority Hispanic within a generation. The prospect of Texas as the newest Latin American nation amuses Austin cultural marketing consultant Mando Rayo.

“Texas becomes La Republica de Tejas,” Rayo says. “The panhandle city of Amarillo becomes Amarillo, and our national pride, the Dallas Vaqueros, win the Super Bowl.”

But would the U.S. let Texas go or would there be a constitutional standoff and opposition from the remaining united states? University of Texas, Austin, presidential scholar H.W. Brands doesn’t anticipate a painful separation.

“The Texans were all set for a fight,” he says. “I don’t know, maybe they were a little bit surprised — maybe they were miffed — that much of the rest of the country said, ‘Well we’ve had enough of the Texans, let ’em go. We’ll be better off without ’em.’ ”

The premise of an independent Texas isn’t actually all that popular in the Lone Star State. Last year, Public Policy Polling asked Texans if they favored secession, and fewer than 1 in 5 were for it. As for the 18 percent that said yes — they can just consider our simulation food for thought.

John Burnett is an NPR national correspondent who lives in Austin and plays in a band, so he is not atypical of Austin. He put this together for NPR at the end of March.

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