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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a Happy Star Wars Day as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff rounded up coverage of the voter ID appellate hearing at the Fifth circuit last week.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos weighs in on the overall disgust for the TX Governor's cowardice. The C.T Freaks Win: TX GOV Panders to Paranoia.

Socratic Gadfly wonders if, given this was not the first outbreak, having other information about the Food and Drug Administration from whistleblower Ken Kendrick and more, if we can really trust the FDA that much when it claims Blue Bell and other ice creams are safe.

Nonsequiteuse calls on Rep. Todd Smith and any other reasonable Republicans left in Texas to come collect their party.

Bernie Sanders declared for the Democratic nomination for president, and not even the events of Baltimore could keep him from extending his news cycle through the weekend.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports on the money part of the equation in the opening days of his campaign, and wonders if the stark differences between he and Hillary Clinton might actually produce a meaningful primary contest.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why so many Texas Republicans act to enable rapists.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Hooray, Obamacare is working, The Good News About Healthcare In Texas For Everyone But Republicans.

Neil at All People Have Value said as shameful as Governor Abbott is to pander to the Jade Helm paranoia, there are in fact serious reasons people believe crazy things. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

Out of the clear blue sky Greg Abbott, the recently elected Governor of the once great state of Texas, decided to outdo his usually over-the-top tea party rhetoric the other day.  I mean, is this right wing nuttery step really necessary at this point in time?  After all, the Governor is not in the middle of a heated primary campaign in which he is fighting for his political survival among the far right fringe voters.

Nor is the Governor competing with TX Senator Ted Cruz as the most paranoid and Orwellian Republican Presidential candidate in 2016.  Former TX Governor Rick Perry has already auditioned for this role as he and other Republican Presidential candidates nervously await the Koch boy's anointment of their chosen puppet.

So why did Greg Abbott insist that the state's militia must keep an eye on U.S. Navy Seals and U.S. Army's Green Berets who are training in South Texas?  Why is Greg Abbott fomenting fake fear about a U.S. takeover of the state of Texas? Worse, why is the Governor of Texas insulting and disrespecting the military service of our fellow Americans?

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed "Jade Helm 15" amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover.

The request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said "conspiracy theorists" and "fear mongers" had been in a frenzy.

Pape thanked Abbott for the letter to the Texas State Guard, which he believed helped emphasize the benefit of the military training rather than further fuel theorists.

"It's a sad when people's greatest fear is their own government," Pape said. "Think about the ramification of that. If Americans go to sleep at night worrying whether their own government is going to sell them out before morning, it'd be hard to sleep."

Suspicions about Jade Helm intensified on some conservative websites and social media after a map labeled Texas, Utah and parts of California as "hostile" for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July. Such war simulations aren't unusual, though the Army has acknowledged that the size and scope of Jade Helm makes it unique.

A former Tea Party Republican is so stunned by Greg Abbott's pander to their party's base of sociopaths that he couldn't sleep. Distraught, the former state Representative summoned the courage to write to the Governor.
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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that Blue Bell can get its act together before it's too late as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff cheered on the latest effort by the federal government to force the state of Texas to expand Medicaid already.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos wants voters to know that voting for mean and stupid people, or not voting at all, has consequences.  TX Refusal to Expand Medicaid May Result in Higher Premiums for the Insured.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme noticed a few cases of Texas law officers allegedly acting inappropriately here and here. These cases should be rare, not a daily occurrence.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The "big three" had a breakfast brouhaha this week and Dan Patrick got his feelings' hurt, Hurt Feelings and Thin Skin - Session's Getting Good.

Socratic Gadfly listed three numbers to remember ó 67, 3, $10 ó in 2016 elections.

Even the lawyer who argued -- and won -- the Citizens United case at the Supreme Court five years ago thinks our political system is broken.  But his solutions for it involve removing even more of what remains of the tattered restrictions on financial contributions, and if you want to know the specifics, "you'll have to pay him for that".  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs knows that this kind of mercenary political adviser is as large a part of the problem as the money itself.

Neil at All People Have Value says it seems there are more reasons than ever for people and corporations to break and ignore our laws. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

Nonsequiteuse wants you to watch the video, or read the transcript, of Rep. Jessica Farrar's declaration that she will not yield while Republicans deny Texans human rights and dignity.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

As I posted on Facebook the other day there is a lot of stupid and mean going on in Austin these days. It seems that Governor elect Abbott is just as stubborn and as recklessly spiteful as former Governor Rick Perry. Greg Abbott is on the same cruel mission to punish the poor as hard as possible. Knowing the data and the facts that support expanding federally funded Medicaid would provide health care for millions of uninsured Texans.  These are folks who cannot afford Obamacare and are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, as it stands in Texas today.  

Greg Abbott doesn't care. The fight between Texas and the federal government over Medicaid threatens the $4 billion safety net.

Texas stands to lose some $4 billion in annual funding to care for the poor unless it can persuade federal authorities to renew a Medicaid waiver due to expire in September 2016.

But federal officials signaled last week they may no longer be willing to pay for uncompensated care for people who could be covered by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. With Texas lawmakers adamantly opposed to a Medicaid expansion, the waiver expiration creates a potential showdown between state and federal health care officials that, if not resolved, threatens to unravel the state's health care safety net.

"It would be a disaster," said Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine, which provides staffing to Ben Taub, the largest charity hospital in Houston. "I would not be surprised if safety net hospitals just folded."

Great. Close the charity hospitals and let poor and sick people just drop dead.  FL Rep. Alan Grayson wasn't kidding when he stated the GOP health care plan.  Don't get sick.  If you do get sick, die quickly.  That certainly seems to be the plan in GOP Texas.

Texas Republicans want the federal funding for Medicaid with no strings.  They want the funding in the form of block grants.  But the feds don't trust states like Texas with block grants. Republicans here cannot be trusted to use the funding for its intended purposes.  In the past Rick Perry used federal funding meant for education to plug some of the state's budget holes in 2011.

Greg Abbott's stalwart malevolence will end up shooting us all in the foot.  

The Texas Hospital Association said it supports the renewal of the waiver but would like to see the state provide insurance coverage to indigent patients rather than relying on uncompensated care funding schemes. That would allow patients to see doctors on a timely basis and avoid allowing problems to escalate until they have no choice but to seek much more costly care at the emergency room.

"We would actually prefer some of these innovations that other states have used that are private market," said John Hawkins, senior vice president of government relations for the hospital group. "Those private market solutions we think are better for the beneficiaries, and they're certainly better for providers because we're not trapped in the kind of low reimbursement setting of Medicaid."

Hawkins said even with the waiver, Texas hospitals face a $2.8 billion shortfall in uncompensated care funding for 2016. Without a waiver renewal or Medicaid expansion, that amount could reach $6.6 billion in 2017. Those costs are then shifted to patients with insurance, raising costs for everyone. Moreover, if county hospital districts experience a drastic reduction in funding from Medicaid, they may have to pursue increases in property taxes to make up the difference.

"No Texan is being benefitted by this stance that our state legislators are taking," Klotman said. "We're just shooting ourselves in the foot. It's just unbelievable that a political stance would end up actually doing harm and providing less care to people in our own state. It makes no sense."

But Greg Abbott seems OK with throwing poor Texans into an early death.  
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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

Politics in Texas can be a real challenge for grassroots activists like me.  There are so many contradictions, mind boggling ironies, silver forked tongue charlatans and snake oil chicanery to cut through before one can latch onto a message that motivates people to vote. This week  has been especially challenging on the progressive grassroots political front.  This is due to the sorry fact that seventeen Texas Democrats have decided to stand on the side of the Fracking industry over the needs, health and financial well-being of their constituencies.

What are you thinking Texas Democrats? Our Party may be a sorry minority but it doesn't mean we have to roll over and die without a fight.

Wimps never win.

For crying out loud. How many times do we have to tell Democrats that when Democrats turn tail and run as Republican Lites Democratic candidates turn off our Democratic base?  Stop listening to your handlers and crony donors and publicly stand for what you know is right. Voters will respect and vote for you. IF Democrats stand by our core values and principles. To do otherwise disappoints and discourages us.

I mean, why bother to vote when there is little difference between the two parties?  What is a grassroots activist like me to say to a non-voter.  Vote for my Party because............................???????????????  The expected response in cases like this? Both sides suck.

Grow some if you want to excite us, Democrats.  Take a paddle and blister the forces that are making life miserable for your constituents. Shining a laser focused microscope on the Fracking industry and pay day loan sharks may be good places to start.  

Sigh.

Yes. It has been a confusing and disappointing week in Texas politics for progressive Democrats. But this week has not been one without a little dark humor.  

It seems that a new movement has emerged here.  A normally business friendly state that will impose  ALEC sponsored legislation at the supersonic speed of Mach 5 has encountered a bit of a system failure.  

One has to wonder what happened to change the state's usually over-the-top business friendly ethos. For a state that likes to brag about personal freedom, individual rights and liberty seems to have fallen prey to a force that works against these very firmly held beliefs.

A new anti-business Party has emerged, not because of worries about personal freedom or individual rights or that ALEC has been running rough shod over the rights of Texas consumers and workers for decades.  No, this Party has emerged because a group of right wing tea party extremists want to punish those who do not share their ideological and religious beliefs.  Blinded by ideology these hard right tea partiers have chosen to ignore Republican core principles that are grounded in the notion that what is good for business is good for Texas. (Not true but the GOP has been singing the pro-business hymns for decades.)

The Anti-Business Party of Texas is Born.

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Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 07:06 PM PDT

Houston Equal Rights Ordinance Upheld!

by bastrop

Reposted from bastrop by bastrop

Sometimes common sense and equality actually wins in Texas.

Today state District Judge Robert Schaffer is the voice of common sense and equality.

Opponents of Houston's non-discrimination ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, a state district judge ruled Friday, validating city officials' decision to toss out the petition foes submitted last summer.

After separate rulings from both a jury and state District Judge Robert Schaffer, attorneys for both sides entered dueling counts of the valid signatures, adding and subtracting voters as Schaffer responded to motions. By early this week, the counts were closer together than ever before, fewer than 1,000 signatures apart.

Ultimately, Schaffer on Friday ruled the final count of valid signatures was 16,684, leaving opponents short of the threshold required in the city charter of 17,249 signatures, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election.

Houston has had a vibrant GLBTQ community for a very long time. It's the cultural center of the city and is one of the things that makes Houston such a world class town. There have always been haters. I remember watching rednecks with baseball bats cruise up and down Montrose through the heart of the district looking to bash. I have countless friends who had been on the receiving end of that kind of bashing in the past. For the most part the city has grown out of that, but it still exists. The haters are there. They may not be using bats as much as the internet and the voting booth but they are there.
But opponents, largely conservative activists and pastors whose objections center on the protections the law extends to gay and transgender residents, say they will appeal the decision.
It isn't over but they aren't going to win. Haters can't control Houston anymore, and really haven't for a long time. They can't stand that a city in Texas would have this kind of ordinance. It drives them crazy that they can't control it.

Bring it, haters. Bring it!

Chalk one up for equality and reason in the Lone Star State!

From Houston abc13:

HOUSTON -- A judge has ruled in favor of the city in Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance.

The district judge on Friday declared opponents of the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on several categories including race, sexual orientation and gender identity, did not have enough signatures required to put the issue on the ballot.

"I would hope that the plaintiffs would not appeal, they lost during a jury trial and today they also lost with the judge's ruling," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "Now all Houstonians have access to the same protections."

The ruling comes in response to a jury's decision back in February.

For those who do not know, Houston Mayor Annise Parker is a major force of progressive maturity and is the natural evolution of GLBTQ history in the city as our first openly gay Mayor.
Discuss
Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

The Texas Progressive Alliance revels in the start of another baseball season as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the case to pass a state law that would enable "rideshare" services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Texas cities.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos cautions Latino voters to beware slowly starving Republican wolves that are dressed in sheep's clothing.  GOP Woos Latino Voters While Punishing Immigrants.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. As GOP Texas House passes it's budget, taxes take center stage, The Texas Way - The More You Make The Less You Pay, The Less You Make The More You Pay.

SocraticGadfly thinks that creating a national Appomattox Day could be part of dealing with all the political problems that unreconstructed Southerners have caused for America.

To quote Emperor Palpatine: "It is inevitable."  To quote the Borg: "Resistance is futile."  And to quote Yogi Berra: "It ain't over 'til it's over."  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs dissects the 'inexorable' meme that surrounds Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

Nonsequiteuse says it is time to wear orange and head to Austin (or the internet) to rally against HB 723 as the Texas House of Representatives Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence committee considers little word with constitutional consequencesfor minors who need access to safe, legal abortion services.

Neil at All People Have Value said that the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service offers useful instruction about life. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

I laughed out loud the other morning when I opened the print edition of the Houston Chronicle. The front page headline read

Koch funded Libre Initiative looks to mobilize Latino voters.
I like to read the print edition every morning.  The first thing I do is open the paper and line up the front page and the city and state sections side by side.  I look to see what section I will read first. So, when I opened the city/state section I laughed when I read the section's front page headline.  Of course none of this is really funny at all.  The plight of immigrants in this country is beyond craven, heartless and hypocritical. While the Koch GOP groups try to pretend to care about immigrants their colleagues in state houses and in the U.S. Congress are working 24/7 to keep cheap labor a permanent state of slavery in this country.
GOP again tries to repeal in state tuition law
If you click on the image below you can see a larger version.  (I'm technologically challenged).

KochBoys

I guess it has dawned on the Republican Party that it cannot rely solely on cheating, stealing, lying, fraud and treason in order to win elections.  It somehow has to find a way to woo Latino voters.

The Libre Initiative, the Texas-based organization funded heavily by billionaires Charles and David Koch, is expanding in Texas and around the country in a drive to mobilize Latino voters heading into the 2016 elections.

The growth of the Mission-based organization offers more evidence of Republicans’ determined effort to make inroads into the fast-growing Latino vote, which overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama and most Democrats in recent elections.

Since February, a separate Koch-funded group has posted openings for Libre Initiative jobs in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia - states with heavy Latino populations or likely battlegrounds in the 2016 elections.

The organization's methodology will likely rely on typical GOP scorched earth politics.  It will target groups of evangelical Christian Latinos and employ the usual wedge issues, i.e. gay marriage, abortion. It will demonize Democratic opponents by smearing and attacking their greatest strengths. Remember the Swift Boating of John Kerry?  I guess it's hard for the Party of, for and by the 1% to run on the merits of its accomplishments, agendas and ideologies.

A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Libre — the Spanish word for free — bills itself as a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that advances the principles and values of economic freedom to empower Latinos. The group provides a variety of services, from helping obtain driver’s licenses and tax filing to providing children with school supplies.
The definition of freedom in Koch GOP World means serfdom. While these grassroots groups pretend to help immigrant families their cronies, enabled by GOP politicians, will prey upon them later like sharks.  The unfettered payday loan businesses in Texas is out of control.  Greg Abbott and other Texas Republicans protect the loan sharks because of the industry's generous contributions to their campaigns.  Unfortunately it is the low income earners who fall into the traps laid by ruthless payday loan organizations.  While the politicians look the other way.  
The Latino Victory Project, a political advocacy group co-founded last year by Henry Muñoz, of San Antonio, is keenly aware of Libre’s activities. Project president Cristobal Alex said he intends to conduct a briefing on Libre in New York soon with potential donors.

"We need to have a counterweight to what the Koch Brothers are doing," he said. "They understand, and rightly so, that Latinos will decide future elections in a number of places, including at the very top, but that Latinos are not hyper-partisan."

He added: "They (Koch brothers) are not investing in Libre for the benefit of the Latino community. They are investing in Libre for their pocketbooks."

Yep.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch in Austin, Texas Republicans are hell bent on making life as miserable as possible for immigrants and their children.

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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

It seems that the once great state of Texas elected an admitted law breaker as its top cop.  
It also seems that the law breaker and his network of cronies and protectionists hoped no one would notice.

Prior to the November election several Texas newspaper editorial boards tried to warn voters about then candidate Ken Paxton's past criminal activity.  Unfortunately Republican voters didn't hear or they ignored the prediction and voted a straight R ticket, anyway.  And now this election outcome is coming back to haunt all of us. Of course, I can't blame this debacle on straight ticket Republican voters alone. Non-voters share the burden of guilt as well.

Paxton admitted in writing to the Texas State Securities Board in May that he violated the law by soliciting investment clients and accepting fees on commissions without having first registered with the securities board. Under state law, failure to register is a third-degree felony.

Paxton did it repeatedly, in 2004, 2005 and 2012 while serving as a Republican state representative. The securities board issued a reprimand, and Paxton paid a $1,000 fine for the administrative part of this violation. But the question of criminal violations has yet to be addressed. Are prosecutors willing to initiate a case against the man who now occupies the attorney general’s seat?

Despite the fact it was public knowledge that Paxton failed to register with the securities board three times, nothing happened. No inquiries were made.  The reason investment firms are required to register with the securities board is to protect the public from fraud and scams.  By his failure to register did Ken Paxton want to operate without detection?  

Fortunately the group Texans for Public Justice asked the Travis Co. (Austin) DA to explore the matter.  It wants answers.

Last year, the Austin-based group Texans for Public Justice asked Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to look into the case. She determined that Travis County wasn’t the proper venue and referred it in January to prosecutors in Collin County, where Paxton’s offices were based, and Dallas County, where some of the securities work occurred. Neither county appears to have acted so far.
Birds of a feather flock together.
The matter gets tricky for Collin County, where District Attorney Greg Willis could determine whether to prosecute. Willis and Paxton are longtime friends. Both are listed on the most recent board of directors online filing of Plano-based Unity Resources LLC. They are limited partners together in three firms and co-investors in another.

Against that backdrop of multiple conflicts, Willis is hard-pressed to explain why he shouldn’t recuse himself and seek appointment of a special prosecutor who can objectively weigh the merits of the case. The public’s faith in the justice system requires that there be no hint of prosecutorial bias or that staffers under Willis’ direction might fail to pursue justice to protect their boss and his friend.

Willis’ office says there has been no prosecutorial action since the case was referred from Lehmberg’s office. Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The Dallas Morning News' editorial is correct about the public's faith in the justice system.  After years of Rick Perry and his reign of crony capitalism and corruption, much of our faith in the Texas justice system is severely shaken.  
These are not nitpicky issues. State securities law imposes registration requirements to protect the public from victimization by investment frauds and scams.

The fact that Paxton violated the law repeatedly over several years suggests a troubling pattern unbecoming of the esteemed office he now holds. That’s why an independent prosecutor needs to assume control of this case.

There is a reason why the Collin Co. DA's office is stonewalling on the Paxton case.
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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks even Ted Cruz deserves affordable health insurance as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff hears the death rattle of the anti-gay forces.

Harold Cook explains how the "school choice" scam works.

Horwitz at Texpatriate makes an early pick and endorses Sylvester Turner for mayor of Houston.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos is pleased to know the Houston Chronicle called out Ted Cruz for being all about Ted. The Houston Chronicle Spanks Ted Cruz.

Houston's LyondellBasell refinery's management turned off an advance warning system near the front gates of the plant, where striking USW workers walk the picket line.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says that if this is how they demonstrate their concerns for worker safety, it's no wonder they won't end a work stoppage despite the national settlement.

Neil at All People Have Value said you should make an effort with the people in your life as part of a complete outlook on life.   APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Bad things happen when a bunch of government haters try to run the government like a business. This Is What Happens When We Turn Government Over To Corporations.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

The editorial board at the Houston Chronicle fortunately has little patience for political snake oil dealers, charlatans, hypocrites, fork tongued liars and narcissistic demagogues.  At least this is the case when a major and one of the most diverse U.S. city's major newspaper has to hold on to its standing in the credibility department.  

It is helpful to know that when an elected official blatantly abdicates his duties and responsibilities on behalf of those whom he supposed to serve in order to serve himself instead, that the press and the mainstream media will expose him.  

Open Secret.

Ted Cruz has every right, as best we can tell, to run for president, even though he was born in Canada to a Cuban father. We're happy he's the first of several potential candidates with Texas ties. We're not so happy about his disdain for 30 million Texans he was elected to represent just a couple of years ago. It's no secret that he's been running for president since the day he was elected - or maybe since he was a 15-year-old memorizing the U.S. Constitution at Houston's Second Baptist High School. But his declared candidacy in 2012 was for the Senate, not the White House.
It is true that Ted Cruz has done squat for the Texans he was elected to represent other than to bring shame, humiliation and embarrassment to all of us who didn't vote for him. And that would be many of us since few of us vote in Texas.  

It's all about Ted.

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Reposted from Libby Shaw by Libby Shaw

The Texas Progressive Alliance roots for underdogs even to the detriment of its own brackets as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff argues against having a state spending cap, much less making it tighter.

Libby Shaw writing for  Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos makes a solid case as to  Why The Right is so Wrong given the last few weeks of national political events.

The Poop Cruz is now boarding and ready to set sail, announces PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.  Or is that 'shove off'?

Neil at All People Have Value saw the real spirit of Texas at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

More news from other political blogs follows below.

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