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Cornyn publicly still dubious on Syria attack, but voices no objections at Obama summit

By
tgillman@dallasnews.com

Sen. John Cornyn emerged from a White House summit on Syria saying he still has questions about President Obama’s strategy. But whatever qualms he might have, he apparently didn’t raise them directly.

One participant at the meeting said Cornyn expressed no concerns about the president’s plans during the meeting. Another, Rep. Eliot Engel, likewise said he heard no dissent from anyone.

“The general consensus in there very very strongly was to support the president. and it was in both parties, the leadership in both parties. The leadership in both parties very strongly will support the president,” said Engel, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I didn’t hear anyone in that room say they were going to oppose this,” he said.

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner forcefully backed Obama’s plan and called on fellow Republicans to do likewise. Senate GOP leaders — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Cornyn, the deputy leader — left the White House without speaking with reporters.

“The use of chemical weapons has to be responded to, and only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated,” Boehner said. “I’m going to support the president’s call for action. I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action.”

On Monday, Cornyn said he would oppose a strike if the…Read full story here: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/09/cornyn-publicly-still-dubious-on-syria-attack-but-insider-says-he-voiced-no-objections-at-obama-summit.html/

Texas Guard refuses to process same-sex benefits

The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday despite a Pentagon directive to do so, while Mississippi won’t issue applications from state-owned offices. Both states cited their respective bans on gay marriage.

Tuesday was the first working day that gays in the military could apply for benefits after the Pentagon announced it would recognize same-sex marriages. The Department of Defense had announced that it would recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that threw out parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Texas and Mississippi appeared to be the only two states limiting how and where same-sex spouses of National Guard members could register for identification cards and benefits, according to an Associated Press tally. Officials in 13 other states that also ban gay marriage – including Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Georgia – said Tuesday that they will follow federal law and process all couples applying for benefits the same.

Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote to service members in a letter obtained by the AP that because the…Read full story here: http://hosted2.ap.org/TXWAC/TexasNewsSectionWaco/Article_2013-09-03-Texas%20National%20Guard-Gay%20Rights/id-56ed04f82d9f4a6195dd162b726e8dfd

Video: San Antonio Faith, Legal, and Business Leaders Unite Against Radical Ordinance

Opponents of the ordinance (wearing blue) waiting to get into City Hall.
Yesterday, leaders from the faith, legal, and business community united together in opposition to the so called non-discrimination ordinance that is a direct attack on Christians and people of faith in San Antonio. Watch the full press conference from City Hall:
After the press conference, concerned citizens wearing blue swarmed the council chambers in opposition to the ordinance and for over 6 hours expressed serious concerns about how the ordinance would – Read more at: http://txvalues.org/2013/08/29/video-san-antonio-faith-legal-and-business-leaders-unite-against-radical-ordinance/#sthash.NPwdBqMB.dpuf

Ethics Commission Breaks Law, Hides From Sunlight

Attorneys working on behalf of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and its president, Michael Quinn Sullivan, today filed a lawsuit against the Texas Ethics Commission for violating the state’s Open Records laws.

The commission has become a tool of a few powerful politicians eager to silence conservative critics and punish donors, operating with very little transparency or oversight.

Acting on false accusations made by two allies of House Speaker Joe Straus, the commission is pursuing charges against both TFR as an organization and Sullivan personally – despite having disclosed in a closed-door hearing last month they had no evidence of wrongdoing. At that hearing TFR and Sullivan tried to let the public in but the Commission chairman, Houston trial lawyer Jim Clancy, refused to allow it.

“Whatever their original reason for existence, the agency now exists to extort money and silence certain political voices,” said Sullivan. “In doing so, they run roughshod over constitutional rights and state laws.”

Since the Commission refused to open to the public the August hearing on the false charges, TFR’s attorney – former State Rep. Joe Nixon – entered an Open Records Request for the audio recording. The agency did not respond to the request in the manner and time required by law, instead sending a “confidentiality” agreement.

“State law does not allow a state agency to respond to an Open Records request in this manner,” said Nixon. “It seems as if it doesn’t want the public to hear how frivolous its case is, that there was no credible evidence and its only real case is that Joe Straus doesn’t like TFR and Michael Sullivan.”

Rather than dismiss the false claims and acknowledge it had no evidence after 18 months of investigation, the commission voted to “continue” the hearing until October – without allowing attorneys for TFR and Sullivan to present their case.

Since that August hearing, the Ethics Commission has subpoenaed TFR and Sullivan for records and documents that…Read full story here: http://www.empowertexans.com/around-texas/ethics-commission-breaks-law-hides-from-sunlight/

Census: Texas has highest rate of uninsured in nation

By Juan Castillo

American-Statesman Staff

Texas leads the nation in the percentage of residents who lack health insurance, with more than 1 in 4 people younger than 65 without coverage of any kind, according to new census data released Thursday.

More than 5.7 million people, 26 percent of Texans younger than 65, were uninsured in 2011. The uninsured rate was higher — 31 percent — for working-age adults ages 18 to 64, the data show…Read full story here: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/census-texas-has-highest-rate-of-uninsured-in-nati/nZgtc/?icmp=statesman_internallink_textlink_apr2013_statesmanstubtomystatesman_launch

Texas is curtailing health costs with own program

By Chris Tomlinson

Associated Press

Republican-controlled Texas may be rejecting as much of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul as possible, but state leaders do agree with him on curtailing rapidly rising costs that are consuming more and more of the state budget.

Texas’ constitutional requirement to balance the budget and the Republican promise not to raise taxes have combined over the past three years to drive lawmakers to adopt policies similar to Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act. But it’s more a case of Republicans working in parallel rather than in partnership with Washington.

Since 2011, the Legislature has passed laws to reduce costs in health programs for poor, disabled, young and elderly Texans. They intend to reward healthy results rather than pay doctors per procedure.

Squeezing out those extra dollars, though, has been tough. Texas is the fifth-lowest state in the nation in per capita spending at $5,924 a year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Even then, Texans spend $146.7 billion a year on health care and costs are rising 7.3 percent a year, above the national average of 6.5 percent.

One way Texas has saved money is by privatizing management of publicly funded health care programs, such Read full story here: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/texas-is-curtailing-health-costs-with-own-program/nZft7/

Texas official preparing for independence

Barry Smitherman, head of the powerful Texas Railroad Commission, is making waves for his comments about economic collapse, energy policy and the future.

But don’t a lot of officials address those same issues?

Yes, but not the same way Smitherman does.

He talks about economic collapse as what will happen to the rest of the United States, not Texas. And he talks about energy policy as a way to make sure Texas commerce will continue, without the rest of the United States. And when he talks about the future, he focuses on Texas, because he believes there might not be the rest of the United States.

See a pattern?

“One of the things I’ve focused on in the last 10 years of my public sector life is preparing Texas to be a prosperous and safe place to work, regardless of what happens outside our borders,” he said.

“We are uniquely situated because we have energy resources, fossil and otherwise, and our own independent electrical grid. Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an ‘island nation’ if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water…Read full story here: http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/texas-official-preparing-for-independence/

Lt. Gov. candidates report dismal July fundraising figures

July proved to be a hot fundraising month for Attorney General Greg Abbott — whose gubernatorial campaign raked in $1 million — and Sen. Wendy Davis, who leveraged the fervor surrounding her potential run for the state’s top spot to haul in more than $400,000.

How did the folks running for Texas’ No.2 elected office fare in the same month?  Not nearly as well.

July fundraising figures — filed with the Texas Ethics Commission on Thursday — show the four candidates running for lieutenant governor raised a combined total of less than $154,000 in the 30-day period.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who made headlines across the state last week after a Dallas TV station released audio of him trying to get a family member out of jail, led the pack for July fundraising, bringing in about $83,000.

The vast majority of that — a total of $75,000 — came in the form of $25,000 infusions from a trio of contributors that included the Texas Association of Realtors PAC, El Paso business magnate Woody Hunt and Houston energy titan Charles Watson.

Dewhurst’s campaign explained why the sitting lieutenant governor didn’t make more of a fundraising splash during the period that covered the Legislature’s second special session.

“David Dewhurst was busy working for the people of Texas during this reporting period,” campaign spokesman Travis Considine said in an email.

The almost $83,000 haul will add to the $1.2 million Dewhurst raised in the final two weeks of June, when he reported a cash-on-hand total in the range of $1.7 million (note: Dewhurst, a multimillionaire, tends to self-fund a large portion of his campaigns).

Agriculture Commissions Todd Staples followed with a July total in the neighborhood of $37,400. Staples reported raising $1 million in the final two weeks of June and had nearly $3 million cash on hand at the time (note: special session reports do not require disclosure of expenditures or cash-on-hand totals)… Read full story here: http://blog.mysanantonio.com/texas-politics/2013/08/lt-gov-candidates-report-dismal-july-fundraising-figures/

CSCOPE debate could shape 2014 GOP primary

Looks like CSCOPE is ready for its close up.

Many Texans still haven’t heard of the collection of controversial online lesson plans. But a raucous crowd of more than 600 filled nearly every available seat Saturday night at a University of Texas at Tyler event center, spending nearly two hours watching a debate on an issue that has now become so emotionally charged it could shape the 2014 Republican primary race for lieutenant governor.

They watched a war of words between tea party-backed Sen. Dan Patrick and Thomas Ratliff, a more moderate Republican who serves as vice chair of the State Board of Education. Patrick argued CSCOPE was created illegally and contains anti-American and anti-Christian lessons. Ratliff says the lessons aren’t biased and that small school districts across Texas need CSCOPE to ensure they adhere to strict curriculum requirements.

CSCOPE was created by the 20 state-run educational service centers, which are designed to support school districts. It offered about 1,600 model lessons that districts could access for a per-student fee, and was meant to be a cost-effective way to ensure teachers in 877 school districts — most of which were too small to build their own curriculums — covered all state-mandated topics.

CSCOPE users educate about 35 percent of the state’s more than 5 million public school students. But most lessons were behind a pay wall for intellectual property reasons, making them unavailable to the public. That angered some conservatives, who worried about schools spending lavishly without public oversight.

Criticism intensified when parents discovered…Read full story here: http://www.wfaa.com/news/politics/221003161.html

Why America’s Political Destiny Hinges On What Happens Next In Texas

The political stakes could hardly be higher.

Latinos, who have leaned Democratic, demographically are surging in Texas. And if the Democrats can turn Texas blue (or even purple) they would have a huge leg up at winning control of the executive branch of the U.S. government in future presidential elections. By achieving sufficient Democratic preeminence in Texas progressives could turn the White House blue.  And they know it.

As the Democratic party’s George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall once famously said, “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”  So, too, are Plunkitt’s Democratic Party successors taking their opportunity … announcing a full court press in Texas.

But something unexpected is happening.  The more Latino Texas gets the more Republican it is trending.  Latinos are making themselves right at home in a welcoming GOP.  Red, not blue, is winning.

This is not happening by…Read full story here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2013/09/02/why-americas-political-destiny-hinges-on-what-happens-next-in-texas/