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Aug 24 2012

Texas is about to get worse

I usually avoid Texas political news because it makes me ill, so I’m a little late to this…but would you believe the Texas legislature took a turn to the right in the last election? The Tea Party led a wave of new lunatics right into the halls of power in that state…and what they want to do as a top priority is follow the Louisiana path of demolishing public education and vouchers, vouchers, vouchers.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the outspoken voice of the far right in the Senate, said he will be pushing vouchers that parents of school-age children could use for charter schools, online offerings or additional alternatives to the public schools.

"To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session," the Houston lawmaker said. "Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view. That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do."

If you haven’t heard about this photo ID bill, it’s a racist law passed to suppress minority voters by requiring photo ID at the polls. They say it’s to prevent voter fraud, but since that’s a nonexistent problem, you know what it’s about: preventing poor brown people from voting. It’s one strategy the Republicans have to stay in office, and that’s by suppressing voter turnout while making it easy for well-off white folks to make their preferences known.

So it’s telling that this dingleberry and his base so value fucking racism, and that now their next priority is to screw over education. That’s the second prong of the Republican strategy: keeping people stupid. They know that anyone with a brain will turn away in revulsion from the Tea Party policies, so they have to make sure no one in the electorate develops one.

40 comments

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  1. 1
    coragyps

    I have to fucking live here to support myself in the style to which I would like to be accustommed, too….

    The County Judge in Lubbock, 85 miles from me, needs to hire more deputies to help out in the civil war that will result if our current president gets elected. ( or if there’s a Category 5 hurricane there, 500 miles from the ocean.)

  2. 2
    coragyps

    “re-elected”. Duh.

    I misspoke.

  3. 3
    hexidecima

    It is very much a strategy to control people. The GOP/TP has evidently decided that they will tell lies to keep people from being able to make informed decisions. They will play to human greed and fear, using primitive superstitions and tribal stupidity to do this. They will do their best to make their victims hate and fear education and knowledge.

  4. 4
    blf

    Theys likes rilly bigs holes theres. (Texan.)
    Stop digging. (Educated person.)

  5. 5
    terrencekaye

    Those minorities also have to show photo ID to get on a plane, cash a check, rent a video, buy a bottle of wine, get a driver’s license. What a racist country we have.

  6. 6
    Pteryxx

    more horrible news from the party putting the TEA in TExAs… preventing cities from treating immigrants like people.

    The bill, approved by the Senate in the middle of the night Tuesday, would bar local governments from implementing policies prohibiting law enforcement officers from asking the immigration status of people they detain.

    Gov. Rick Perry said in putting the measure on the special session agenda that law enforcement officers need such discretion. Opponents argue that it will lead to racial profiling and hamper law enforcement by discouraging people from reporting crimes or cooperating with police.

    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Critics-speak-out-against-Texas-sanctuary-2081006.php

  7. 7
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Don’t worry. I have this under control.

  8. 8
    klancaster

    Dan Patrick almost single-handedly ruined talk radio in Houston. We had a good balance of left and right talk radio for a while. Patrick bought one station, then another, each time letting anyone go that was even slightly moderate. One of his favorites – a guy who called himself “King John”, is now in prison for pedophilia. Its no surprise that he wants to destroy education as well.

  9. 9
    culch

    A generation ago it was the hard right that thundered against ID cards. Politics.

  10. 10
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    “Those minorities also have to show photo ID to … get a driver’s license.”

    How does that work?

    The difference is that those are not rights enshrined in the constitution, idiot.

  11. 11
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    vouchers that parents of school-age children could use for charter schools, online offerings or additional alternatives to the public schools.

    Oddly, the alternatives to public education — charter schools, cyber schools and private schools — are all non-union. The GOP’s hatred and fear of unions goes so deep that they are willing to bankrupt the nation’s future to destroy the NEA.

  12. 12
    julietdefarge

    Well, maybe it’s time to construct a wholly secular curriculum
    (meeting state SOLs, of course) and set up godless charter schools. I’ll contribute to financial assistance for children of color, if need be.

  13. 13
    Neil Rickert

    …, but since that’s a nonexistent problem …

    Of course there is voter fraud. Every vote for Obama is a clear example of voter fraud.

    You just don’t understand how the rightists think.

    </sarcasm>

  14. 14
    Pteryxx

    Well, maybe it’s time to construct a wholly secular curriculum (meeting state SOLs, of course) and set up godless charter schools.

    Good luck getting approved for that…

    BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Education has released documents showing 119 private and parochial schools are in line to accept public money to educate students who are enrolled in failing public schools or who are entering kindergarten for the first time.

    Virtually all of the schools have a church affiliation and most are Catholic. One school – Park Vista Elementary School of Opelousas – is a public school.

    http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20120725/NEWS01/120725003/

    But if your school isn’t Christian…

    Stakes escalated last week when, to the frustration of some lawmakers, the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans applied for federal funds under the voucher program. Republican state Rep. Kenneth Havard objected to the Islamic School’s request for 38 government-paid student vouchers, saying he opposed any bill that “will fund Islamic teaching,” the Associated Press reports.

    “I won’t go back home and explain to my people that I supported this,” he said.

    “It’ll be the Church of Scientology next year,” Democratic state Rep. Sam Jones told AP.

    The Islamic School of Greater New Orleans withdrew its request for vouchers before the bill went to vote.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/louisiana_n_1593995.html

    Basically, no school challenging right-wing Christian orthodoxy is ever going to be approved to receive funds under these charter programs. The Christian schools being approved can lack basic materials, be in buildings that barely pass safety code, and even be exempt from applying testing standards to their voucher students, but any secular or non-Christian school won’t get such special treatment.

  15. 15
    Jerry

    I find myself in the odd situation of agreeing with one tiny bit of what Rep. Patrick said, although my mind is reeling: “That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.” Why yes, yes it will.

    Where we disagree is that what the GOP/TeaParty/KochCo call school choice, everyone else calls the destruction of public education. The “impact on the future” is devastation of our democracy due to an uneducated electorate, not improvement. Lest you think I exaggerate, compare and contrast the state of education in modern industrialized countries (public, promotes science and inquisitiveness) vs. third world feudal or tribal cultures (private or home schooled) and dictatorships (may be public if present for the masses, but promotes superstition and myth, suppresses free thought [reminiscent of religion]).

  16. 16
    jimmauch

    The courts decided that it was not a problem that need to be solved when the deep south suppressed voter participation with literacy tests. Why do the courts not decide that the solution without a problem callled voter ID is also no more than voter suppression. What’s next, hooded knights on horseback?

  17. 17
    AlexanderZ

    I’ve lived in two countries with photo IDs and no one ever claimed that there was any problem with the IDs. Can anyone please explain to me how this is in any way racist? Or is one of those laughable American quirks?

  18. 18
    craigrheinheimer

    I guess I’m naive. I’ve followed this issue with only passing interest.

    Is getting a government issued ID really that big of an obstacle? Who can even function in today’s society without needing to present some sort of ID occasionally?

    I don’t understand how getting a simple ID is this herculean task that some people are portraying it as.

    I say just shoot everyone with a RFID tag and be done with it. Bring on the mark of the Beast, baby!

  19. 19
    cry4turtles

    The religiothugs have been trying to destroy public education since Ms. O’ Hare got prayer kicked out of school. And the American public has been their accomplices. I predict it will only get worse.

  20. 20
    Pteryxx

    Re voter IDs:

    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/11/514412/romney-supports-voter-id-laws-that-could-disenfranchise-25-of-african-americans/?mobile=nc

    A Center for American Progress investigation concluded that “these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow,” given that minorities (along the young and the poor) are more likely to be unable to acquire photo identification.
    Indeed, 25 percent of African-American voters lack the type of ID required to vote under these laws.
    Attorney General Eric Holder called the standard voter ID legislation “a new poll tax” after his Department of Justice found sufficient grounds under the Voting Rights Act to block ID laws in South Carolina and Texas due to their disproportionate impact on minority voters.
    Voter fraud, the problem Voter ID laws are ostensibly supposed to correct, is basically nonexistent. Even proponents of the legislation can’t point to any actual examples.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/05/17/whitehead-on-voter-id-laws/

    Voter ID laws which have swept the nation since 2011 effectively erode our system of representative government by blocking access to the seats of power by those who need it most: the young, the old, women and minorities. For example, Viviette Applewhite, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, has cast a ballot in almost every presidential election since she first voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960. However, as a result of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, which requires voters to present a photo ID to election officials on Election Day, this may be the first year the 93-year-old is not able to vote because she, like many others, does not have access to the required legal documents necessary in order to acquire a photo ID…

    http://www.npr.org/2012/07/18/156935624/study-many-could-face-obstacles-in-voter-id-laws

    Sponsors say that the laws are needed to prevent voter fraud and that free ID cards are available for those who don’t have them. But Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel at the Brennan center, says for many people the IDs are far from free.

    “What we discovered was that there was limited access to these ID-issuing offices,” Gaskins says, citing long travel distances and limited office hours.

    The center found that no offices that issue IDs are open on weekends in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin. In some areas, the offices are open only one day a month.

    And that’s not to mention the cost of documents — such as birth certificates and marriage licenses — that people often need to get a photo ID. The prices can range from $8 to $25, which Gaskins says is a lot for some poor people, and more than the $1.50 poll tax the Supreme Court found unconstitutional in 1966.

    “It certainly looks and feels like a poll tax,” says Gaskins.

  21. 21
    Pteryxx

    actually, I should point out those cites come from a long conversation about voter IDs that we had in the Lounge recently. This is linking my own comment, but the whole discussion’s worth reading:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/08/13/lounge-357/comment-page-1/#comment-432317

  22. 22
    charlessoto

    Yup. I’m surrounded by them.

    But one thing someone got wrong ITA is the need for vouchers to support charters schools. Charter schools are public schools, with state funds going to them based on daily attendance. There’s no need for vouchers. Voucher systems are designed to take state funding away from public schools (charter schools included) and direct them towards private (often religious, and very often subpar) schools.

  23. 23
    robro

    Wow, PZ, you must be psychic or something…this just in:

    Texas judge warns of Obama re-election

  24. 24
    markr1957

    @ charlessoto – this is my objection to the Louisiana voucher system. Public schools are required to use standardized testing whereas private schools are not, so we have little or no idea how good or bad many of these private schools are, while we know exactly how good or bad the public schools are.

    Admittedly there are some excellent private schools; even some excellent private religious schools, but the good schools aren’t playing the voucher game – they fully intend to keep out the ‘riff-raff’ and maintain their status by the tried and tested method of selection by fee payment, with scholarships limited to the select few football players (since without the scholarships Parkview Baptist High School football team would truly suck).

    @ alexanderz – one of the quirks of the Louisiana (and other states) system is that you have to buy your government issue photo ID and for many people the only place you can buy it is miles away and not served by public transport. Add to this the issue of obtaining the documents needed to allow you to buy your government issued photo ID (which typically requires that you go to yet another government office on the other side of town), and for everyone with mobility issues (i.e. old, young, mobility impaired, poor and car-less) you have nearly insurmountable obstacles.

  25. 25
    yoav

    That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.”

    Sure, it mean you will have neither.

  26. 26
    AlexanderZ

    Thanks, Pteryxx!

    Okay so this is the bad old exclusion through infrastructure idea. I get that this will disproportionally target the poor and the disabled (and by extension, non-whites and elderly).

    Nevertheless, I still think that US should grow up and start handing out photo IDs at a certain age to everybody like most other countries.

    BTW, here’s an anecdote: Many countries with photo IDs also have institutional racism, but they still hand out IDs to everyone. Not because they’re such good people, but because it makes police work that much easier. In other words, only a country which is both racist and secure enough to not be afraid of its racial minority can have Texan ID policy.

  27. 27
    Jerry

    To alexandrz (who lives out of the USA) and craigrheinheimer (who guesses he is naive), both of whom are wondering why a photo ID is “such a big deal”.

    A photo ID card is not mandatory in the U.S.A. and there is no national ID system. None is required to live or work here if a person was born in the U.S. and does not relocate homes frequently. For the nit pickers, a Social Security card is not a photo ID and in most cases is not accepted as proof of identification.

    In many U.S. states, there are a limited number of organizations that can issue a valid photo ID. Typically it is one, the state driving license agency, which may also issue a “non-driver ID” when requested. The demand for non-driver IDs is much smaller than for driver licenses. The agencies have a well deserved reputation for being slow, and a mass influx of people requesting photo IDs will only crush an overloaded system.

    Due to the fact that these agencies have been set up to provide driver licenses, they are not often on the path of a bus or train line. People who do not drive will not be able to get to the location easily. The _one_ location in my county is miles (kilometers) away from the closest bus stop. (Note that there are typically 4-20 counties in any U.S. state, where a state is the size of many European countries. That means there are only 4-20 offices total for an area covering hundreds to thousands of square miles.)

    The agencies are staffed with people who have a reputation for interpreting the laws very strictly, so as to avoid giving licenses to people in the wrong name. My wife had to visit the local branch office 3 times to get her name changed when we got married. In one case, the law was clearly in our favor, but the staffer was more strict. Is a person who has limited time and resources likely to visit 3 times to get a photo ID that is only needed to vote? Several proofs of identity are required in order to get a photo ID, many of which are not available to a person who rents instead of owns a home, e.g. utility bills. One of the most common required proofs is an original birth certificate, which means a visit in person to yet another small government agency in another location.

    There was a newspaper report of an “alternate” photo ID office being open for very limited times, e.g. “every other Thursday”, but I do not have a citation.

    All this trouble to solve a problem that Does Not Exist:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/pennsylvania-admits-it-no-voter-fraud-problem/2012/07/24/gJQAHNVt6W_blog.html

    A court filing by the state of Pennsylvania, ahead of a trial starting later this week on a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups against the state’s new voter fraud law, contains an astounding admission:

    “The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.””

    and

    NY Times, April 2007
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/washington/12fraud.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    “Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews. Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.”

    That’s 120 charges and 86 convictions in one year throughout the whole country with over 200,000,000 registered voters, which could not possibly affect the end results of most elections. Hundreds of thousands of people are being required to get IDs in order to vote, and this can alter the result of an election. In fact, that seems to be the goal of passing these voter ID laws.

    http://www.politicspa.com/turzai-voter-id-law-means-romney-can-win-pa/37153/

    House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) suggested that the House’s end game in passing the Voter ID law was to benefit the GOP politically.

    “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

  28. 28
    Jerry

    Correction to my comment # 27, that’s 200,000,000 eligible voters, not registered voters. Sorry.

  29. 29
    Paul

    Nevertheless, I still think that US should grow up and start handing out photo IDs at a certain age to everybody like most other countries.

    That will not fix the problem of voter suppression through ID’s, though. It will only hinder “voter fraud”, which statistically isn’t even a thing anyway.

    If everyone had a specific photo ID issued, they would simply add additional criteria that the ID needed to vote must meet that the typical photo ID does not match. For instance, will the distributed ID have an expiration date? That is required in many of the voter ID laws bandied around, which specifically excludes student IDs which generally do not have an expiration date. This will do nothing for the people that have trouble getting the required IDs due to cost, as there will need to be costs associated with card distribution every time they expire. There will still be the same access issues for facilities not well-served by public transport. If anything, such a required ID would put more hardship on the downtrodden, if there are any penalties for not keeping their ID current.

    Again, your points make sense if it’s about preventing fraud or law enforcement. It’s about disenfranchising the vote, and there will be ways even if everyone “has ID”. Especially as the laws have already been carefully crafted to exclude forms of identification that the target populations already may have.

  30. 30
    DLC

    Yup, and it’s going to get worse if these loons stay in office.
    You’re seeing how a small but violently vocal minority can swing an entire political party. The “Tea-Party” activists are merely the fulcrum. Big money is the weight on the end of the lever.

  31. 31
    crowepps

    Refer those interested to the documents available in the case:

    http://pilcop.org/applewhite-v-commonwealth/

    Many of the people who are unable to obtain photo ID are elderly, have been told their birth was never registered and with no official State birth certificate available, they are out of luck. Veterans’ records, baptismal certificates and affidavits from relatives aren’t considered sufficient. They are predominantly Black.

  32. 32
    Jadehawk

    Is getting a government issued ID really that big of an obstacle?

    yes. for one example, many black folks born in the Jim Crow era don’t have birth certificates, and you can’t get a driver’s license without one. For another example, old people tend not to have driver’s licenses, either, what with not being able to drive at 90-years-old anymore. For a third, most students have out-of-state licenses, and college ID has been banned as a valid ID for voting in many states.

  33. 33
    Jadehawk

    Nevertheless, I still think that US should grow up and start handing out photo IDs at a certain age to everybody like most other countries.

    most other countries don’t “hand out” photo ID. I’ve yet to find a place that gives out ID cards for free, rather than for a fee. and so, in a place that has a lot of extremely poor people, many will chose groceries or rent over renewing their ID

  34. 34
    AlexanderZ

    Voter fraud may not be a problem, but identity theft is. It seems to me that one photo ID (instead of a myriad of different IDs you have right now) is more comfortable and better for law enforcement.

    Having said that, I agree that a large and decentralized country like US just doesn’t have enough infrastructure to effectively distribute these IDs even if it wanted to. Countries with photo IDs are very centralized and use the same social infrastructure that they use for other means: Governmental or policing institutions in case of formal/current dictatorships (former Soviet Union, far east, middle east) or governmental and welfare institutions (EU and some of the above).
    That is why those countries don’t have a cost problem (about a dollar for your picture and up to ten bucks for an official stamp every ten years or so is not a problem for anyone in a welfare state, even one as dysfunctional as modern Russia) nor an accessibility problem (I have an Interior Ministry sub-office 200 meters away from my flat and I live on the very border of my municipality).

    But since US won’t turn overnight into a modern social-democracy I guess you’re right – photo IDs will cause more problems than it will solve.

  35. 35
    Jadehawk

    additionally, a national ID card cannot prove that you’re eligible to vote in the state that you’re voting in, anyway. nor do most national IDs have your address on it, which proves that you’re voting in the right county/at the right polling station

  36. 36
    rorschach

    In Australia, you can’t do anything without 100 points of ID. The problem in the US seems to be that to get photo ID they are erecting hurdles that directly disadvantage people of lower socioeconomic status, aka those more likely to vote Democrat. Which is kinda the end of democracy, if you think about it.

  37. 37
    Crissa

    You guys respond like the ‘you need id for beer!’ crowd is being honest in their arguments.

  38. 38
    CorvusCorax

    No photo ID at the polling station? Ok, please dip your finger in this bottle of indelible ink. Thank you for voting!

    I know this simple solution to a problem that doesn’t exist would negate the effect of voter suppression, so its beside the point.

  39. 39
    Crissa

    My solution is for the poll to have identifying information. They already know your name, address, etc. Why not some picture or fingerprint or whatever works in a five-second test? That way you can’t lose your vote to theft or forgery.

  40. 40
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    The trick to this round of voter suppression is that the photo ID that is sufficient to get you a bottle of wine or a rental car is not sufficient to let you vote. New, more stringent ID requirements have been put in place based on the kinds of ID that urban voters are unlikely to have. The procedures to get the ID are both time-consuming, in terms of having to apply and then wait for ID to be issued, and costly.

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