Thursday, February 28, 2013

Senate District 9

We come to one our first potentially competitive districts.  Because of redistricting this district has frequently changed.  For the 1992 eleciton this district was in Dallas, Ellis, Hill, McLennan, Navarro, & Tarrant counties and represented by Republican David Sibley.  For the 1994 election, this district shrank and moved north being made up of Dallas, Denton, Ellis, & Tarrant counties.  In that election, Republican Jane Nelson and Sibley switched districts.  Nelson had previously represented District 22.  Following redistricting in 2001, Ellis County was removed and Republican Chris Harris ran and won here.  Harris had previously been the State Senator for District 10. Jane Nelson moved to Senate District 12.  2011 redistricting further shrank this district by removing Denton County.  With Harris' retirement, Republican State Rep. Kelly Hancock won the seat.  Thanks to population growth this district became more competitive over the decade, with Harris winning re-election in 2008 54% - 43%.  For a Republican State Senator in Texas, that's close.  Depending on where the growth happens, this district could once again be competitive.  Hancock won the newly redistricted 9th 58% - 38%.


Romney - 59.3%; 142,499
Obama - 39.2%; 94,117

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 59%; 140,005
Sadler - 37.8%; 89,702

Which states matches District 9?  Hint: country music

Tennessee.  In 2012, Romney won Tennessee by 20.4% and SD 9 by 20.1%.  Cruz carried this district by 21.2%.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Does the NFL Promote or Instill Homophobia?

From ESPN:
The NFL on Wednesday said it would investigate a report that at least one team at the scouting combine asked a draft prospect about his sexual orientation.

Colorado tight end Nick Kasa told ESPN Radio Denver on Tuesday that he was asked a series of questions that touched on sexual orientation at the just-completed combine in Indianapolis.

"[Teams] ask you like, 'Do you have a girlfriend?' 'Are you married?' 'Do you like girls?' " Kasa said in the radio interview. "Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it's a pretty weird experience altogether."

In the statement announcing it would check into Kasa's claim, the NFL said "teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws."

"It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation," the league said. "We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the scouting combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed the league's promised investigation in a statement Tuesday to USA Today Sports.

"I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights," Smith said. "I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline."
Those are nice words from the NFL, but the problem is the willful ignorance and likely ignoring at the top.  Five will get you ten this is not the first time this has happened and that there are people high up in the league who probably know this type of questioning is going on.  Why would the league ignore it?  I can think of one big and stupid reason:  Football is a macho man's sport and there's no room in it for sissies (i.e, gays).

No doubt, this type of questioning has gone on many, many times and the league probably does one of those "don't violate the law" statements, but then wink, wink, nod, nod, they're not going to punish a team for weeding out or closeting gays.

An investigation?  Anyone think we'll actually hear something substantive come out of this investigation?

There's probably only way homophobia is going to end in sports.  Sports Illustrated writer and NPR contributor Frank Deford mentioned it today in the first line of his story (which was on a different topic): The great social quest in American sport is to have one prominent, active, gay male athlete step forward and identify himself.

Senate District 8

Since 1993, this seat has seen only 1 senator, Republican Florence Shapiro, and only been based in 2 counties: Collin and Dallas.  Since January it has a new Republican, State Rep. now State Sen. Ken Paxton.


Romney - 61.7%; 186,753
Obama - 36.6%; 110,824

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 61%; 179,778
Sadler - 35.9%; 105,852

Which 2 states best match this district?

In 2012, Arkansas was the closest match for this district.  Romney won the state by 23.69%, and carried SD 8 by 25.1%.  Cruz carried SD 8 by by the exact same margin: 25.1%.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Senate District 7

This seat has seen a consistent string of Republicans elected here.  Through most of the 90s, Don Henderson held the seat.  After him came Jon Lindsay, who held the seat for 10 years.  Then came radio personality Dan Patrick.  What can you say about a Senator who lists 2 of his 3 proudest pieces of legislation as, "...placing 'In God We Trust' permanently in the Senate chamber for the first time in history; placing 'Under God' in the state pledge..."  Your #1 proudest moment was being the interior decorator for the State Senate.  Your #2 proudest moment was editing the state pledge.  Glad to see his priorities are in order.


Romney - 66.8%; 196,383
Obama - 32%; 94,057

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 66.7%; 194,611
Sadler - 31%; 90,504

Which state best aligns with SD 7?  Hint, just cross the Red River.

That's right, it's Oklahoma.  Romney scored a margin of 33.54% there, and scored a margin of 34.8% in SD 7.  Cruz won it by 35.7%.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tea Party Wins in Australia

Over the weekend, the Tea Party won a victory in Australia.

A moderate conservative, Gary Humphries, has been defeated and replaced with someone more likely to tow the party line and be more conservative, Zed Seselja.

Antony Green of ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) talked about the possibility of the LNP losing it's ACT Senate seat to the Greens with a Seselja nomination. Albeit unlikely, it could happen:
The Liberal Party is awake to the danger of losing its ACT seat and consistently spends its local advertising budget on Senate ads. The ACT is the only jurisdiction where one of the major parties devotes its advertising budget to a Senate contest. The graph above indicates the Liberal Party has been successful in convincing its supporters not to split their vote. The decision of Family First and the Christian Democrats not to contest recent ACT elections also helps the Liberal Party keep its vote above a quota.

While the Greens continue to talk up their chances of winning the second ACT Senate seat, this is only possible if the Liberal vote falls below 33.3%. While the Liberal vote has fallen at the last two election, that has been in line with national trends. The Greens vote has increased, and Labor has continued to deliver the Greens preferences, but that will not deliver victory in the ACT Senate unless there is a further fall in Liberal vote at the 2013 election.

It may be that local issues surrounding possible public service cuts under a Coalition government could bite in Canberra. However, it would unusual for the Liberal vote to fall to a record low level at the same time as it is increasing in the rest of the country.

While the Liberal Party losing its ACT Senate seat is unlikely, it is a possibility the party has to avoid. Losing the ACT Senate seat would greatly complicate the Senate position of a new Coalition government.

If Mr Seselja goes ahead with his challenge to Senator Humphries, you can expect to hear much about each candidate's level of personal support, Senator Humphries at past election, Mr Seselja at the ACT election last October.
Personally I'd prefer 2 Labor senators, but if shutting out the LNP means electing one Labor and one Green, I guess that's better than nothing.

Senate District 6

We come to our first Democratic State Senate seat, District 6.  In it's early incarnations back in the 80s, now-Congressman Gene Green held this Houston seat.  In 1992, Green moves on from the State Senate and Republican Dan Shelley wins the seat.  Unfortunately for Shelley, 2 years later he got struck by the redistricting plague and decided to not run.  That handed the seat to Mario Gallegos, Jr.  Gallegos never faced a Republican opponent until 2008.  Sadly Gallegos died this year, leaving this seat vacant, but he went out on a win, beating his Republican opponent 71% - 29%.

The new Senator for this district is going to be either State Rep. Carol Alvarado or former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, both Democrats.


Obama - 66.4%; 89,849
Romney - 32.5%; 43,931

U.S. Senate
Sadler - 63.8%; 84,914
Cruz - 33.9%; 45,140

Which state will it be?

For the 2012 election, the state that matches the presidential margin the best is Vermont.  Obama's margin in that state was 35.6%; his margin in SD 6 was 33.9%.  Sadler won SD 6 by 29.9%.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Which of these Texas Legislators is Acutally a Closeted Gay?

This being Texas, Rep. Springer isn't the only Homophobic Hero in the Texas Legislature.  His Justice League of Homophobia has many members, all Republicans.  The 4 authors of the HB 1568 along with Rep. Springer are Jodie Laubenberg, Dennis Bonnen, John Smithee, and Linda Harper-Brown.

The coauthors of HB 1568 are Cecil Bell, Giovanni Capriglione, Brandon Creighton, Pat Fallon, James Frank, Bryan Hughes, Stephanie Klick, Matt Krause, John Kuempel, Jeff Leach, Charles Perry, Larry Phillips, Four Price, John Raney, Scott Sanford, Ron Simmons, Phil Stephenson, Jonathan Stickland, Ed Thompson, Steve Toth, Scott Turner, and James White.

Very disappointing that Reps. Turner and White, both African-American, are co-authors.  One minority going after another minority.  But being an anti-gay Republican trumps all concerns.

Back to the title of this post.  Including Rep. Springer, which of these legislators is actually gay?  If history is any guide, one of these legislators will actually turn out to have a big rainbow colored secret in his or her closet.  Legislators at the state and federal level who become known for anti-gay views and legislation have a way of falling out of that closet.

Homophobia in the Texas Legislature

Not exactly earth shattering news here in Texas, but homophobia is alive and well in the Texas Legislature.

One of the Homophobic Heroes this session is Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster).  As of right now, his only press release on his state web page is one touting his filing of HB 1568.  What is HB 1568?  According the the Legislature website it's a bill, "Relating to funding under the Foundation School Program for a school district that offers insurance benefits to a person who is not a dependent of a district employee."  In other words, we don't want gays giving their partners health insurance.  No doubt, if he could, he'd probably outlaw gays in general getting health insurance...or anything beneficial for that matter.

What bee got in Rep. Springer's bonnet?  That bee would be Pflugerville ISD and its health benefits for domestic partners.  From the Texas Tribune:
The board of trustees of Pflugerville ISD made history in December 2012 with a 5-1 vote, becoming the first school district in Texas to offer health benefits for domestic partners.

“I think the money we give to educate our kids should go to the kids and not trying to expand social benefits that we decided in 2005 was unconstitutional,” Springer said Thursday, referring to the Defense of Marriage Act of 2005, which defined marriage in the Texas Constitution as between one man and one woman. "We're not taking away all the funding, just the 7.5 percent that goes to the health benefit plan."
Here's the kicker though:
Opponents of Springer’s bill argue that it mischaracterizes the school's health plan policy. “No tax dollars are being used,” said Chuck Smith, president of Equality Texas, an LGBT lobbying group. Smith said that no money is taken from funding the classroom, but rather the policy “allows access to the benefit plan, but the employee still pays the premium.”

"It’s yet another legislative overreach, and it seeks to undermine local control,” Smith said of Springer's bill.
Just as an aside, Rep. Springer comes from that bustling metropolis of Muenster, TX.  Never heard of it?  That's understandable.  As of the 2010 Census it counted 1,544 people in its population.  Just as an FYI, the 2011-2012 enrollment figures for Pflugerville ISD listed 3 schools that had a larger student body than Muenster had people: Pflugerville HS, 2,293; Hendrickson HS, 2,291; John Connally HS, 2,008.  Another 3 schools had nearly the same student population as Muenster: Kelly Lane MS, 1,153; Pflugerville MS, 1,039; Dessau MS, 1,019.  Altogether Pflugerville ISD has 23,287 students.

This may seem like small town bashing and so be it.  There may be a time and place for small town values (like valuing mom & pop shops over Wal-Mart), but in this case Rep. Springer needs to take his small town values back to Muenster and keep them there and leave Pflugerville ISD alone.

To sum up, government intrusion and overreach is okay as long as 1) it tries to outlaw to abortion or 2) it goes after GLBT.

As an aside, just to state for the record, the Tribune listed 3 cities that have domestic partner benefits for their employees: Austin, El Paso, and Dallas.  Just like to also mention that San Antonio is one of those cities as well.

Senate District 5

During most of the 90s this seat was held by Democrat Jim Turner, who later went on to become Congressman Jim Turner.  Unfortunately he got caught in the cross hairs of Tom DeLay and his political career came to an end.  After Turner, Steve Ogden won the Senate District 5 seat.  With Ogden's retirement a new Republican takes over, State Rep. Charles Schwertner.  With Schwernter, that'll be at least 3 doctors in the Senate.


Romney - 63.1%; 181,385
Obama - 34.5%; 99,176

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 61.4%; 173,527
Sadler - 34.3%; 97,048

Which state was the closest match?

West Virginia.  Romney's margin in West Virginia was 26.76%.  He won SD 5 by 28.6% and Cruz won it by 27.1%.

After looking at 5 Senate districts, even the most densest of Democrats can begin to see the problem that plagues us in this state.  Instead of Senate districts with Republican margins of less than 10%, i.e., states like North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, & Missouri, you're seeing districts with some of the most extreme Republican margins.  The 5 states that gave Romney his largest margins in 2012 were Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho, and West Virginia.  The states most closely matching Senate Districts 1-5? Utah, Wyoming, and West Virginia.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Headline of the Day: Tampon tax a "bloody outrage"

This headline was too good to pass up without passing on.  From WAtoday:
A Perth university student's pun-ridden online petition against tax on tampons has attracted almost 40,000 supporters.

Sophie Liley from the Women's Department of the University of Western Australia's student guild created the petition earlier this month.

Other essential items and services, such as basic food, water, education, child care and health are exempt from GST, but tampons and sanitary pads attract the 10 per cent charge as part of the goods and services tax, introduced in 2000.

The petition claims there's "no womb in society for a tampon tax," that the tax was "cramping my style" and the tax is described as a "bloody outrage," "a stain on our national image" and a "bleeding disgrace."
While the petition and it's puns are no doubt funny, the student does make a good point:
While Ms Liley has taken a humorous approach to the matter, a letter addressed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and other politicians makes some serious points.

"Charging women as a direct result of their basic biology is hugely and fundamentally sexist - especially given that condoms are classified as GST-free essential health products while sanitary items are not," the letter stated.
Now there is a female condom, but 5 will get you 10, it's probably not used to the extent that regular male condoms are.  And how many people actually think the tax free condoms are female condoms versus those used by males? Having said that, if you can classify condoms as "essential health products", how can you not say the same for tampons?

Condoms are used for sex (or sometimes as balloons), which is optional.  Tampons are used for periods, which are not optional.  You won't tax guys for having sex safely, but you will tax women for having biological functions.  I think the point has been made.  Period, end of argument.

Senate District 4

When this district was more Democratic, it was home to longtime Port Arthur State Sen. Carl Parker (D).  In 1992, he had defeated Republican Michael Galloway by a 55-45 margin.  Knowing how Republicans hold grudges, you could see the rematch coming.  Galloway ran again in 1994 and defeated Parker by a little over 8,000 votes in a Republican wave that also saw a drop-off of about 60,000 votes from 1992.  Republican Michael Galloway held this seat for one term before losing to Democrat David Bernsen.  Bernsen seemed like he could have held this seat for a good while, but he opted to run for Land Commissioner in 2006 versus a second term.  That year Republican Tommy Williams took this seat for the Republicans and has been here since.


Romney - 70%; 216,087
Obama - 28.8%; 88,832

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 69.1%; 210,826
Sadler - 28.8%; 87,824

Which state fits the bill for Senate District 4?

The lucky state is Wyoming, which gave Romney a victory by 40.82%.  Romney carried SD 4 by 41.2% and Cruz by 40.3%.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Senate District 3

Senate District 3
Since the mid 90s, this seat has been occupied by Republicans.  First Drew Nixon rode the Republican wave in 1994.  In 2000, Todd Staples won the seat and stayed here until 2006 when he ran and was elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2006.  Since 2007, Robert Nichols has been holding this seat for the Republicans.


Romney - 75.5%; 225,526
Obama - 23.4%; 69,915

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 72.4%; 212,216
Sadler - 25.4%; 74,374

Which state matches SD 3?

For the second time...Utah.  Romney carried Utah by 48.04%.  He won SD 4 by 52.1% and Cruz by 47%.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Senate District 2

As recently as 2000, Senate District 2 elected a Democrat, David Cain.  It's always funny to look at past maps of districts.  Cain held this seat through most of the 90s.  Prior to him, Republican Florence Shapiro represented District 2, when Collin County was part of this district.  Collin County got replaced with Dallas County, Shapiro moved to another district and Cain won this seat.  Then in 2002, redistricting struck and Republican Bob Deuell was elected.  Funny enough, Deuell was who Cain beat in 2000.  Although a conservative Republican, Deuell has seemed opened to facts, at least when regarding allowance of needle exchange programs.  Since coming out against Obamacare, it'll be interesting to see if Deuell, a doctor, retreats into being against a needle exchange (i.e., any type of health care program that looks liberal or Democratic).


Romney - 63.2%; 161,348
Obama - 35.5%; 90,500

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 61.5%; 154,469
Sadler - 35.8%; 89,756

Which state(s) most closely matched the margin?

One of the more newly Republican states, West Virginia most closely matched District 2.  Romney carried West Virginia by 26.76%.  Romney won District 2 by 27.7% and Cruz by 25.7%.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Legislative Districts as States, Senate District 1

What if we looked at legislative districts as states for once instead of thinking of them in terms of Democratic vote percentage vs. Republican vote percentage?

It's an intriguing concept that is currently being done in Virginia by the Not Larry Sabato blog.  The big caveat of looking at districts this way is that a district might be totally different in terms of demographics, elasticity, etc., versus a state.

But curiosity got the better of me.

Senate District 1

Through the 1990s and early 2000s, this seat was occupied by Bill Ratliff.  One of that dying breed known as moderate Republicans, Ratliff became Lite Gov in 2000 after Bush became President and Perry became Governor.  In 2003, Ratliff announced he wouldn't run for re-election and instead resigned early requiring a special election.  The 2004 special election went to a runoff where now State Senator Kevin Eltife (R) defeated former State Rep. Paul Sadler (D).  The district was already hard enough to win for the Democrats.  Even in a split field of 4 Republicans, Sadler only managed 39.5% of the vote.  The runoff vote was much closer, 52% - 48%.


Romney - 72.1%; 220,140
Obama - 26.9%; 81,936

U.S. Senate
Cruz - 67.3%; 201,957
Sadler - 30.9%; 92,593

Which state(s) was the closest match in terms of margin?

The state that most closely matched the margin for the presidency was Utah.  Utah went to Romney by a margin of 48.04%.  District 1 went to Romney by 45.2% and Cruz by 36.4%.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Picks for New Pope

With the retirement of Pope Benedict, there is already speculation on who will replace less than 14 names have surfaced.  I present my nominees for Pope, in no certain order.

Friday, February 8, 2013

SOTU Responses and the Presidency

Next Tuesday the President will give his State of the Union address.  The Republicans will give their response to the address and the news networks will speculate about Marco Rubio's presidential chances.

It would behoove the networks to stop looking at the response speech as some sort of stepping stone to the presidency.  Out of the 61 Democrats to give a response to a Republican SOTU address only 1 has gone on to be president: Bill Clinton.  Out of the 30 Republicans to give a response to a Democratic SOTU address only 2 have gone on to be president: Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

That's 3.2%.  3 out of 91.

5 of the response givers have been Vice President: Hubert Humphrey*, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, & Joe Biden.  *Humphrey was VP from 1965-1969 and gave a SOTU response in 1975.  Usually SOTU responses are given before candidates try to make the leap up to president.

Several have run for president: Howard Baker, Lloyd Bentsen, Joe Biden, Bill Bradley, Robert Byrd, Alan Cranston, Frank Church, Robert Dole, Al Gore, Bob Graham, Tom Harkin, Gary Hart, Hubert Humphrey, Henry Jackson, Edward Kennedy, Patsy Mink, Edmund Muskie, Paul Simon, and Paul Tsongas.

Person to give the most Democratic responses:  Robert Byrd with 5 (1982, '83, '84, '87, & '88).  Tip O'Neill is second with 4 (1982, '83, '84, & '85).

Person to give the most Republican responses: trick question, it's a 3-way tie, with 3 men each giving 3 responses.  Gerald Ford (1966, '67, & '68), Howard Baker (1968, '78, & '79), and John Rhodes (1978, '79, & '80).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tea Party Australia

As an outsider looking in, I guess you can say the Tea Party is alive and well in Australia.

During the fight over the carbon tax in Australia, Opposition Leader, Tea Party Tony Abbott, said the enactment of a carbon tax was socialism.   During the fight over the Affordable Care Act, the Tea Party and its Republican allies said it was socialism.  Taxes = socialism = bad.  Corporate welfare = capitalism = good.

Tea Party Tony and the rest of the LNP Opposition have done nothing but be the Party of NO.  It seems that if Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Labor are for it, the Tea Party LNP are automatically against it.

Of course to be truly Tea Party, you have to have the Slaughter of the Moderates.  That requires making sure moderates in the conservative party are denied renomination.  One could argue the Slaughter of the Moderates began when Tea Party Tony defeated Malcolm Turnbull for leader of the LNP.  Turnbull had supported the Labor Government's climate change proposal. 

We have that slaughter taking place in Canberra.  Moderate LNP Senator Gary Humphries looks to become the Bob Bennett in Australia.   Flashback...Sen. Bennett (R-UT) was one of the early casualties of the Tea Party movement.  Although reliably conservative, he was caught off-guard and defeated for re-election.  Looks like Humphries is pulling a Bennett.  Humphries has been caught napping and will likely be replaced by a much more ideological and conservative replacement.

God help Australia if Tea Party Tony and his brand of LNP conservatism get to be in power.