Home > Link dump > Interesting articles or posting – 1/7/2012

Interesting articles or posting – 1/7/2012

Here’s a list of articles or blog postings I have found interesting from my review of subscriptions today – 1/6/2012. The news covers most of the things I follow including politics, local events, media information, and general interest. While I try to follow a lot of things, I probably miss some things. If you have something interesting add it in the comments section of this posting. If you have comments on some of the items feel free to drop them in the comments section. Just remember to follow the Guidelines.

7:37 pm

Closing remarks: Thanks for taking time out on a weeknight to come here. Texas ranks very low in terms of voter participation. In 2010, if you ranks the states, TX ranked 51st in the nation. So go beyond voting and come to participate in a town hall is above and beyond for civic participation.

7:36 pm

Thanks for Gang of Eight support. Many people feel immigration reform is increasing welfare. Talk about the actual benefits of immigrants. Answer: Over 20 years, the benefit with be over a trillion dollars according to studies within Congress. In some states, very draconian laws that shooed away immigrants. They ended up coming short of farm workers and tried to use probationers and parolees. They lasted only one day. Farm work is very hard work that have been supplied by immigrant workers.

7:32 pm

Once a year, federal retirees get a COLA. The president has been looking to change how it’s calculated. Would you support a COLA increase? Yes, you have my support.

Many Texans have no information of what they need to do, since the state is not providing an insurance exchange? With recent grants for navigators to help people to access the system. San Antonio and Austin did not get money. What can we do? Secretary Sebillius was in San Antonio and a meeting was held on that. Castro will follow up with HHS on this.

7:28 pm

How are you going to keep the moral high ground in the Democratic Party, when it looks like there was a sell-out to Wall Street? It is a shame there hasn’t been more prosecutions from the Wall Street crisis. It’s not right you will prosecute an individual on shaky evidence, but be scared to take on the big players and Wall Street banks.

7:26 pm

Since sequestration, what cuts have you taken? My salary wasn’t cut but my staff’s was, including staff expenses.

7:25 pm

If the House proposes a bill funding government, but not Obamacare how would you vote? We need to fund Obamacare.

7:23 pm

Are federal districts firmly set after redistricting? Not quite yet. There is still litigation against the maps. The maps are still underserving minority groups. Best guess is that the lines will change one more time but not drastically.

7:22 pm

How can your office get the local SBA engaged with businesses in San Antonio? Answer: Our office has a good record with small businesses. The day before we left for DC, we hosted a small business round table to hear what the issues were. Later this year, I will bring back some answers after working with agencies in DC.

7:20 pm

Questions form the audience (cards):

There’s a lot about the Lone Star commuter rail between San Antonio and Austin. How can I get it across to allow cars to be transported on the train? Answer: For 20-30 years, there has been this mythic line  and he feels it should happen. In terms of the rail line, it’s never gained the financial will to happen. The governor has turned away a lot of federal money to do good things, leaving the state challenged to finance it.

7:17 pm

Other issues in Washington:

  • Affordable Care Act – Castro and others have addressed issues. It’s coming online next year and the president pushing back the business mandate was in response to relief for business owners. In TX, health care is a big issue. A common experience for people in TX is that many do not have health care and must sit in emergency rooms for hours waiting for health care. TX has refused to expand coverage in TX. Perry, in a press conference, compared health care coverage to drug addiction. Castro feels that language has no place in public service. We need to get past the politics, this is the law of the land, and the nation should move forward. Most who go without health care coverage are hard working Americans.

7:12 pm

Some of the issues confronting Congress:

  • Immigration reform – Should pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2014. There are many businesses in this country are highly dependent on immigrants to help grow them, including Silicon Valley. This is especially important for TX. TX has the most important voice in this debate. Longest border, most trade, and other key influencers with Mexico. Castro said he has heard strong arguments on the other side. But he feels this is important to TX.
  • Fiscal issues – Castro talks about the sequester and how it has affected the economy. He shares about an incident where he came home from DC and found out his neighbor had been furloughed that day. This is affecting real families in San Antonio. All this fighting of sequester, debt ceiling and other fiscal issues are giving the nation high blood pressure. We still need to acknowledge the debt but recognizes this debt has shrunk the fastest under this president. The last thing is to have politicians in Congress to fight and pull the economy backwards. Castro said he joined an anti-gridlock group called No Labels, means you’re not going to let a label prevent you from achieving compromise and working together on a solution.

7:04 pm

“I’ve never heard anyone tell me they’ve looking for the lowest corporate tax rate,” said Castro. There are many who would neglect that through funding cuts or other means. Just like the neglect of physical infrastructure, our infrastructure of opportunity is crumbling.

7:02 pm

Just as there is a infrastructure to help us get around, roads, bridges, highways, there should be an infrastructure of opportunity consisting of education, health care, and other human service needs. When people come to our country, they see this as the land of opportunity.

7:01 pm

Castro said there are three things that have made our nation special. Freedom is the first thing, followed by democracy. The third is one that can’t be forgotten – opportunity. Freedom and democracy have a purpose so we can live in a land of opportunity.

6:59 pm

Castro shared a suggestion with SAWS regarding his own experience. He said he got a water bill of 0 with high usage. He called, asking what the issue could be. It turns out there was a leak. Castro told them they should do for residential customers what they do for commercial customers. When water usage is abnormal, contact the customer. He hasn’t heard back yet.

6:57 pm

Castro talked about his work to help San Antonio’s economy, staying in touch with the mayor and city council, to find out what can be done to help the city. So far, the city has been faring pretty well. Castro said several decades ago, the economy was based on hospitality and the military. That has changed, adding high tech, security, and biotech sectors.

6:56 pm

Castro told the audience if anyone as a question, they can give him a call, including his staff, who are in the crowd. Castro also said if he missed something, his staff is ready to get the issue and forward it to the congressman.

6:55 pm

Castro serves on the Armed Services committee, his first request, because San Antonio is Military City USA. He also wants that committee in case there is another BRAC, wanting to make sure San Antonio has good representation in the process. Castro referred back to former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and her approach. Castro said if the DoD is going to do another BRAC round, they start by looking at overseas for excess capacity first.

6:53 pm

There is a backlog of VA cases and Castro wants to speed that up. The appeals process is taking especially long and he wants to speed that up. Working with the VA, he is looking at ways to streamline that system.

6:52 pm

Castro says he’s been in DC for 8 months and is still young, turning 39 on Sept. 16. In those 8 months he’s been focused on representing the constituents of the district. His office has fielded questions from the district, including recovering over 0,000 in VA benefits.

6:50 pm

Castro talks about the lineage of the district, talking about the Gonzalez family, Henry and his son, Charlie. He jokes about telling Charlie “I know why you retired from Congress.” He’s going to talk about the issues in DC then take questions from the audience.

6:49 pm

Rep. Castro greeting the crowd in attendance after Cary Clack’s introduction. Castro is the representative for CD-20, following many great representatives for the district including Rep. Henry Gonzales and Rep. Charlie Gonzalez. Castro talked about addressing the thousands assembled at the Lincoln Memorial for the 50th celebration of the March on Washington.

12:27 pm

Test entry for liveblogging. Testing to see if I can post later, via mobile.

2:48 pm

Lyda Arevalo-Flechas talks about “All Alzheimer’s Caregivers Are Not Created Equal”

2:45 pm

Shari Albright mentions the students at Perryville, AR working at Heifer Ranch, a part of Heifer International. and how they leveraged that experience to recognize and weigh perspectives.

2:38 pm

Shari Albright says that global competency includes investigating the world. Albirght adds global competency should include ability to recognize and weigh perspectives, communicate effectively and take action.

2:33 pm

Shari Albright is talking about global competency as a key need for students today.

2:30 pm

Shari Albright (@sharialbright) talks about “Bridging the Relevance Gap”

2:17 pm

Branco Ponomariov talks to us about “Rethinking Nuclear Energy for Sustainable Economic Development”

2:13 pm

Darryl Byrd (@dbyrd190647) talks about SA 2020 and the goals and progress that the community wants. Tells everyone to quit being just an “aimless volunteer” and to align with things you really want to see changed. Expect a return on that investment.

1:59 pm

Kathy Swanson (@SAMarketer) “The “x” apparently stands for bacteria porn” Molly Cox http://instagram.com/p/Qu7i3iRly7/

1:57 pm

The Molly Cox is waking the audience up with some great humor, mentioning this is EDx SAn Antonio. The technology seems to be missing. GREAT!

1:49 pm

Today’s TEDx San Antonio will end with a really exciting ending with the audience getting a “bang” out of the experience.

1:47 pm

We should be coming back from the lunch break with more exciting TEDx San Antonio talks. So far there have been some very good ideas. Lots of great conversations at the break about the talks. That’s half of the fun of a TEDx San Antonio day.

12:47 pm

Paul Johnson says trees are connected to everything. We need to do three things: preserve, plant, and protect. He now gives each person in the crowd a tree to plant. Now teaching tree tai chi.

12:41 pm

@rayseggern says the world frames our expectations whether we like it our not. This is what’s expected of us. He says we can use the power of words to change those expectations.

12:37 pm

@rayseggern provides some examples of how he helps reframes people’s expectations. Power of words and sound of human voice.

12:35 pm

Ray Seggern (www.rayseggern.com) talks about “Beyond Placebo: How Expectation Guides Experience in Medicine, Business, and Life.”

12:28 pm

From SMCSA on Klose’s talk – “Being small, multiplying fast & sharing genes is key to success of bacteria. They live in a gated community inside of our bodies.”

12:23 pm

Klose mentions the “funeral ground” where bacteria #1 dies and bacteria #2 picks up those genes from #1. Sharing of genes. This is how the capabilities bacteria spread through various strains. Using some VERY humorous techniques of explaining such as “making whoopie.”

12:21 pm

Dr. Klose says we are probably more bacteria than human. Kind of interesting. Bacteria can live in so many different environments such as extreme hot and cold.

12:19 pm

Dr. Karl Klose is now talking about “Rise of the Superbug: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria.”

12:16 pm

@GagePaine asks the big thought is “can you practice silence at home and in the community so the words spoken are truly understood.”

12:15 pm

Gage Paine suggests that what if we asked people to be silent in between speakers at a town hall meeting and reflect. She suggests using a talking stick in meetings to help create silence between speakers.

12:11 pm

Paine asks when we have silence in our lives, mentioning that we often jump in the car and turn on the radio.

12:09 pm

Gage Paine taking us on a lesson in “The Sound of Silence,” taking the audience through a few moments of silence to start the presentation.

12:05 pm

Jennifer Navarrete (@epodcaster) says about Harris’ talk “In my mind, good architecture makes you feel that you are part of nature yet still safe and secure in your home.”

12:02 pm

From SMCSA at TEDx San Antonio “More people are living in nature deprived environments. Can we incorporate more of nature in our lives?”

12:00 pm

Robert Harris providing a great view of some of the architectural gems in our country that have embraced the environment in their designs. Talking about some of the great works of Frank Lloyd Wright.

11:59 am

From SA2020 “There’s only one way to walk in the woods. Slowly.” @LakeFlato#tedxsa #slowdown

11:57 am

Harris asks the question why would humans be any different than other animals in adapting to our environment. He mentions one of our first TEDx San Antonio alums, Stephen Colley, as an influencer in environmental architecture.

11:53 am

Robert Harris, of Lake/Flato Architects, talking about “Beauty, Place and the Environmental Imperative”

11:41 am

Erica Anthony, a singer/songwriter, who “Does It Upright,” giving us a good idea of what kind of great music we can get from the bass.

11:36 am

We’re coming back in a few minutes with the next set of speakers at TEDx San Antonio about to begin. More “bold ideas” for the San Antonio inspired community.

11:34 am

Found power in the balcony so hopefully I’ll be able to stay connected more throughout the day. Some great sessions at TEDx San Antonio with more to come. So far we’ve heard about getting to yes, worm composting. the Luck Archive, how military trauma care has helped advance trauma care in general, and getting kids unplugged. You can also follow the feed on Twitter at #TEDxSA as well.

11:13 am

Having to do a technology shift at lunch since my battery is going dead. I have an alternative in the car but will get it after lunch. Remember, you can follow TEDx San Antonio at the U Stream channel.

11:09 am

Steve Baskin (@steve_sir) suggests that summer camps now are probably better than they’ve ever been, unplugged from technology, teaching new skills to kids.

11:07 am

Steve Baskin (@steve_sir) talking about “Unplugging our Kids”. Baskin starts by sharing his first experiences at summer camp.

11:05 am

Santori mentions the various places where worm composting could be introduced throughout the urban space, an area where most people would not even expect worm composting to be.

11:01 am

Cassandra Santori talks to the TEDx San Antonio audience about composting and worms through “The Grassroots Guide to Worm Composting and Local Food.”

10:56 am

You can now watch the TEDx San Antonio broadcast at the UStream channel.

10:50 am

Dr. Rasmussen shows the expanded Brook Army Medical Center, known as Military Medical Center and including the Intrepid Center. Mentioning the partners with the UTHSC, UTSA, STRAC, and the National Trauma Institute, making San Antonio the military’s go to medical city.

10:48 am

Dr. Rasmussen mentions the great trauma pioneers that have helped expand trauma care through the various military conflicts, including the development of the Brook Burn Center at Brook Army Medical Center.

10:45 am

Dr. Todd Rasmussen talks about the “Silver Lining of War: Transforming and Translating Military Trauma Care.”  Discusses how military trauma care has helped expand trauma care throughout the medical field.

10:41 am

Mark Menjivar says he doesn’t want to perpetuate bad luck so he went on his first 4 leaf clover hunting trip and found one.

10:39 am

Mark Menjivar took a picture of 11:11 11/11/11 on his iPhone but forgot to make a wish at the time.

10:36 am

Mark Menjivar talks about “The Luck Archive” as the next presentation.

10:33 am

We are sketchnoting with Kate Howard of Sticky Knowledge. Share YOUR notes from your program with a pic and tag #TEDxSASketchNotes!

10:32 am

Dan Norris ends with the principle of “Liking” as key to gaining influence. We build trust with people we know and like.

10:30 am

Dan Norris says that scarcity is a key principle in achieving influence. When things are scarce or rare they are more attractive. Mentions the issue of the flu vaccine and the shortage, with people committed to getting it when the shortage was reported.

10:27 am

Dan Norris recommends considering using language that is indicative of a gift.

10:21 am

Turns out the hash tag for today is #TEDxSA, not #TEDxSanAntonio.

10:15 am

Trinity University is the host site for this year’s TEDx San Antonio and has been for the past three years. Thank you Trinity University.

10:09 am

The second video shown at TEDx San Antonio was “What’s invisible? More than you think – John Lloyd.” It’s from the TED-Ed series which provides a lot of great lessons to share.

10:01 am

Fun factoid: Speaker Dan Norris is a huge fan of bad monster movies. Whether Godzilla, atomic zombies, or wacky robots— the more the movie makes the average person groan, the more likely it is that Dan has seen it. From TEDx San Antonio Facebook wall.

9:57 am

Great audience here with a good cross-section of the San Antonio community. You can also follow the day’s events on Twitter by following hash tag #TEDxSanAntonio. @epodcaster, myself, and several others will be tweeting, as well, highlights from the day’s talks.

9:53 am

If you want to watch the live stream of the event you can do so at their Live Stream feed. It should running throughout the day.

9:51 am

Victor Landa (@vlanda) just informed the audience there are some technical difficulties with the live stream. We should be back and running in 10 minutes.

9:45 am

First video of the day for TEDx San Antonio is “John Maeda: How art, technology and design inform creative leaders” and the crowd is enjoying the innovative thoughts.

11:57 am

Texplainer: What Happens if UT Loses the Fisher Case?

The Supreme Court case, University of Texas at Austin v. Fisher, will be argued this coming Wednesday afternoon. It examines whether UT at Austin, and most likely other public universities, should still apply an affirmative action approach to college admissions. As Reeve Hamilton sums up, based on a report by UT, dropping back to the “top 10” approach could result in greater diversity than the current approach.

10:31 am

Who Bears the Burden of Proving a Defendant’s Incompetency?

Circuit splits are an interesting situation that occur all the time, sometimes ending up in Supreme Court appeals to resolve the matter on a national level. In this split, the issue is burden of proof about a defendant’s incompetency. In this case, United States v. Contreras, Case No. CR11-0168 (N.D. Iowa Oct. 4, 2012), the District Court noted the various splits on the matter as pointed out in United States v. Whittington, 586 F.3d 613 (8th Cir. 2009).

10:22 am

Education: The Other Infrastructure Problem

Ross Ramsey, writer with the Texas Tribune talks about a critical education issue that our lawmakers seem to be ignoring, the education of a growing minority population. As a state, we can continue to look the other way and gripe about the causes. But the problem doesn’t go away. It’s time to start dealing with the future.

10:11 am

In Pilot Program, Student IDs Track the Students

The Texas Tribune writes about the pilot program conducted by the Northside ISD on its student tracking technology using RFID. While some want to make it an issue of civil liberties and personal privacy, I’m of the opinion that if it helps save money by providing better attendance information and isn’t used in a bad manner, more power to them.

10:42 am

Tweaking the West Virginia Map (National Journal) – This one’s bizarre. Apparently the West Virginia legislature did nothing really during their redistricting process, leaving one district intact even though the population exceeds the allowed ideal size variance substantially. It’s not about race, partisan politics, or really anything of substance other than possibly preserving the existing boundaries. As I said, bizarre. As if SCOTUS didn’t have enough work to deal with.

10:33 am

Debate night undercard: Good Newt vs. Bad Newt (Politico) – I heard one commentator on election night make the comment that Newt can be a really good candidate provided he doesn’t sound like a “mean old peepaw.” I loved it, not only because of its Southern tones but because it’s pretty dead on. As Politico points out, if Newt can come out swinging without getting too nasty he can change the tone of the campaign. But it’s a real struggle with Newt these days. Let’s see if we see the “mean old peepaw” come out.

10:29 am

Rick Santorum’s risky New Hampshire primary play (Politico) – Santorum moved his campaign to New Hampshire in an attempt to compete with Romney and Paul. As Politico points out, thaty might have been a risky move by not focusing energies in South Carolina, a state that would probably favor him more. This could be chalked up to a campaign team that is in territory they’ve never been in before but it’s a big risk. As I’ve said before, the eventual nominee has one two of the three early states. IA really was a tossup between Romney and Santorum. Romney is going to win NH. If Santorum could pick up SC that pushed the contest to FL for the win.

10:50 am

On the Perry Campaign Shake Up (RedState) – Erick Erickson has been providing some interesting views on the Perry campaign and what might have gone right and wrong. I haven’t been following it as closely as he has but his views on Albaugh seem to hit at some good points. The challenge the Perry campaign has is to right itself in two weeks, stay relevant in the national media working in South Carolina while the rest of the press are in New Hampshire, and figure out how to get the money spigot turned back on. Not a simple task and probably beyond the capabilities of his current team.

10:36 am

Jon Huntsman Throws A Hail Mary Pass On Twitter (Tech President) – Jon Huntsman’s campaign is trying to use Twitter as a means to get the message out cheaply. By leveraging the tweets of Huntsman’s followers through a Twitter hub, they hope to trend Hunstman up in Twitter traffic. While the campaign is probably hitting its numbers, it’s probably not getting the message out. At some point the traffic becomes noise and people tune it out. However, if they are using it as a sort of “Occupy” loudspeaker by retweeting candidate and campaign messages it could be more effective than we think

8:29 pm

Romney should have been carrying both Polk County and Pottawattamie County (suburb of Omaha). He’s not and is trailing in third in both areas. That’s not a good sign for him since that would have been his strong areas. That should wake up the Romney campaign and have them rethink their 50 state strategy.

8:04 pm

The NY Times is reporting a high evangelical turnout in the entrance polls. That’s a good thing for Santorum. However, at this point we’re still sitting at a tie between Paul, Romney and Santorum at around 23-24%. Gingrich is in a solid 4th and Perry in a solid 5th. I don’t see those two changing but the lead will change throughout the night.

7:52 pm

We’re back to tied between Sant0rum and Paul at 24%. Romney is at 22%, Gingrich at 14% and Perry at 9%. Bachmann is still trailing and will continue to trail. She has 6% so she needs to consider closing shop after tonight. What’s interesting is to see how Santorum is picking up votes in a county that went for Romney in 2008.

7:40 pm

Results are coming in at the Iowa GOP site and Santorum continues to hold a lead. The results are early and small but there is a trend for Santorum. Currently Santorum is at 26%, Paul at 23%, Romney at 18%, Gingrich at 17%, Perry at 10%, and Bachmann at 6%.

7:21 pm

Just saw a tweet come across that said that independent numbers are coming in at 24%, up from 13% in 2008. That’s a good sign for Paul so we’re a toss-up all over the map. We should start getting real results from the map in about 30 minutes. You should expect to see Santorum filling in the center of the state except for Des Moines. If the center peppers for the top three it’s not a good chance for Santorum.

7:18 pm

Another take on the high turnout, per CNN, is if they are independent voters they could surge for Ron Paul. The percentages just came in for the early entrance poll showing Paul tied with Romney at 24%, Santorum had 18%. However, as noted, Paul supporters are always early arrivals so there’s a possibility this is not a good sign for Paul.

7:07 pm

In Twitter traffic Howard Dean is predicting Rick Santorum to win tonight. Also Ann Romney was in the same room with Rick Perry speaking to the caucus goers. Attendance at the caucuses is coming in strong which could be a negative for Ron Paul. He has dedicated caucus goers but would have preferred the turnout to be low. It’s looking much better for Romney and Santorum.

7:02 pm

Initial CNN survey of entrance polls. The top three are as expected: Paul, Romney, and Santorum. It would have been good to have had some percentages to see how this fairing but all we’re getting is just the candidates. This is mapping to the polls so expect the polls to reflect. Since the top three are so tight together it’s still a toss-up as to who the top one will be.

6:27 pm

Here is the Live Blog from the NY Times hosted by Nate Silver and Megan Liberman on what transpires tonight. Nate has a very unique perspective on polls and results, coming from years of analyzing sports and, more recently, politics.

6:02 pm

Nate Silver of they NY Time’s FiveThirtyEight blog keeps very precise statistical models on politics. He’s the one who had the closest prediction of electoral votes in 2008. He’ll be following all the election results leading into the general election. His models, based on polls and other things, have been predicting Romney to win. Tonight he goes against his models and predicts Santorum to win.

5:21 pm

In this day and age of real time information and geodata, it’s great to see good applications integrating the technology. Google is providing a county by county map of caucus results that will be updated throughout the evening. For a perspective here is the Des Moines Register’s interactive map detailing prior caucus results. As you can see Romney should take the east and west parts of IA. If he doesn’t this is over for him. Here’s a look at the Google Media Center in Des Moines.

3:16 pm

This is indication of a campaign winding down. Michelle Bachmann had no real campaign events planned today, one of the most critical days for a caucus. Most likely she will be winding it down after tonight. She’s running low on money, polling last in IA and in single digits in SC, and she really isn’t getting the exposure she wants.

2:57 pm

Drudge Report’s informal and uncontrolled vote – 255,000+ vote. Paul – 30.46%, Romney – 24.82%, Santorum – 17.43%, Gingrich – 12.41%, Perry – 5.36%, Bachmann – 3.48%, others getting votes at 2:57 p.m.

2:37 pm

Further evidence that Ron Paul is pulling in the young vote in Iowa. Reception at West Des Moines High is like a rock concert. Students were really pumped up about his presence. Tweets revealing that Tea Party college students will be out in force at the caucus sites.

2:20 pm

Here is the Washington Post’s Live Blog from the Iowa Caucus today. They will be covering a variety of angles to the caucuses tonight.

2:13 pm

Texas Tribune’s Jay Root provides a look at the beginning of the day rally by Texas Gov. Rick Perry before sending his team out to campaign for him. Perry has pulled in a lot of his friends and fellow public servants in Texas to help campaign in Iowa. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX), and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-TX) are among those pulled in to help.

2:10 pm

C-SPAN will have their usual great coverage of the Iowa Caucus starting at 7 p.m. on both C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2. You can also follow it on their website throughout the night. C-SPAN usually puts cameras in the caucuses with live mikes so you can see how the caucus progresses.

11:54 am

Perry packs events into last day before caucus (Trailblazers – DMN) – As Christy Hoppe notes, Gov. Perry is REALLY making the most out of his final two days. We knew he was going to step up his ground game during caucus week per some indications back at the beginning of December, but now we see how he’s doing it. Forbes, Jindal, Dewhurst, and Brownback are good surrogates to have on the trail.

9:11 am

Iowa: The Longest Yard (Huffington Post) – Michael Brenner, Senior Fellow, the Center for Transatlantic Relations; Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, discusses the interesting primary timeline we see in the presidential race. As Brenner points out, the timeline, as its currently established, may not be the best path to picking a national party candidate. Even with a Super Tuesday, which attempts to lump more of the electorate into a single date, in many cases the field is narrowed to two or three candidates out of a large field.

8:53 am

How urgent is the Section 5 issue? (SCOTUSBlog) – Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog talks about the move by Kinston, NC to request a decision from the federal courts on their case in close tandem with the Shelby County, SC case currently working its way through the courts. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is being faced with its toughest challenges since first being pass in 1965. It’s at the core of Texas’ current case before the Supreme Court regarding the redistricting maps.

8:50 am

Iowa Race Tightens in Final 48 Hours (FiveThirtyEight blog – NY Times) – Today Nate takes the latest poll in the Iowa caucus from PPP and factors it into his model. What that ends up showing is that the race is essentially a dead heat between Romney, Paul, and Santorum. His odds of winning have now tightened up more than ever before. It’s really going to be a toss-up to see who wins in Iowa.

11:02 am

Texas redistricting winners and losers still unknown (Politico) – A good op-ed piece from Martin Frost on some of the issues facing Texas redistricting and some of the paths the Supreme Court might take. Based on some prior cases I’m guessing they aren’t going to push too much change, especially considering how critical time is in this situation. I’m opting for sending the case back to the DC Court for preclearance with some instructions.

9:52 am

Challenges ahead for public schools (SA Express-News) – Funding for Texas schools is going to be a serious challenge unless we deal with the structural deficit. It’s time Texans become more aware of the problems and start encouraging their lawmakers to do the right thing. Until then, mixed messages will keep kicking this can down the road.

7:58 am

How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission (ProPublica) – This is an investigative report on California’s redistricting commission. Some of the claims have already been refutted by Democrats and progressive blogs in the state. However, I’m sure there were some problems with the process. Regardless, it doesn’t deter my support of redistricting commissions. If anything, we can learn from the mistakes of others.

6:51 am

No Surprise, Iowa Social Conservatives Are About To Shoot Us All in the Foot Again (Redstate) – Erick Erickson is lamenting the recent surge in polls by Rick Santorum. In case you haven’t seen, Santorum listed third in a CNN/Time poll released yesterday. The problem with the poll is that it only surveyed registered Republican voters. There are a number of independent voters in Iowa who could register at the caucus. Those voters have bene trending towards Ron Paul.

6:42 am

Breaking Down the New Washington Map (National Journal) – Yet another bipartisan redistricting commission has released a reasonable and fair congressional district map. Washington’s commission put out a map that doesn’t have the bizarre gerrymandering we have in Texas. As the article states, it also shows that even in a Democratic state like Washington, fair means districts sometimes aren’t favorable to your party.

6:37 am

Marching Orders for Paul’s Volunteers: Do Shave, Don’t Tweet (NY Times) – An interesting article about Ron Paul’s legion of college volunteers who have descended on Iowa for the next week. If you can imagine, a tattooed college student with piercings showing up on the steps of an Iowa farm house you can see why the campaign is working to clean up the image. The good part is that this type of effort helps build a strong campaign machine to leverage in other states down the road.

6:29 am

TXDOT presents Houston to Austin intercity rail study to H-GAC TPC (Houston Tomorrow) – It looks like TxDOT is exploring a high speed rail line to run from Austin to Houston at a price tag of around billion. Earlier this week I mentioned something about the LSTAR project for passenger rail from Austin to San Antonio. The key is to link these projects to good public transportation. Otherwise it’s easier to just drive the distance.

7:06 am

Time is right to confront Sheriff Arpaio’s bias (SF Chronicle) – Ruben Navarrete, Jr., a regular columnist in the Express-News, writes about timing of federal intervention into Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s questionable tactics. After reading the allegations I agree that Arpaio has definitely overstretched his authority in a zeal to be the nation’s warrior against illegal immigration. The problem is innocent citizens are suffering from his bullying tactics.

6:14 am

Mitt Romney in striking distance of Iowa win (POlitico) – If Paul’s recent issues start to dog him and create suspicion with some of his younger followers, Romney is poised to pick up the slack and take a win in Iowa. These last days will have everyone watching polls to see how the Paul newsletter issue impacts his campaigns. It’s also going to be interesting to see how the campaigns react if there is a bump.

6:11 am

Polling Gridlock in Iowa Could Produce Last-Minute Momentum (FiveThirtyEight – NY Times) – Nate Silver takes a look at the state of the field with the PPP poll factored in. At this point, it looks like Paul is still poised to win but the last week could yield some buyer skepticism for him, especially with the latest revelations of his past newsletter content. Paul is working to disavow himself of that content but even the suggestion of it may not sit well with a younger crowd, his biggest supporters.

5:32 am

Bicycle-sharing program will start in downtown Houston (Houston Chronicle) – Houston is getting ready to join the B-Cycle crowd with an introductory program modeled after San Antonio’s Bike Share program. Houston seems like a perfect city for Bike Share, with several areas such as Hermann Park or the Museum District. It’s good to see these programs develop and become a part of urban cores.

5:28 am

Navigating the Texas School Finance Lawsuits (Texas Tribune) – 2012 will be the year of lawsuits involving school finance. With the legislature leaving many districts with curtailed budgets and not dealing with the structural deficit facing future budgets, it will be interesting to see how this shapes up next year. The results will be facing the next legislature and could force even tougher choices in the state’s budget.

5:20 am

Progress toward regional commuter rail, but funding questions linger (Austin American-Statesman) – This seems like a good idea, considering the amount of traffic between San Antonio and Austin. However, until local transit infrastructure develops and gas prices rise again, it will be hard to find funding for LSTAR. Hopefully, the agency won’t be spinning too many wheels burning funds waiting for the environment to become more favorable for the idea.

4:21 am

What 2010 Census Tells Us About 2020 Reapportionment (Real Clear Politics) – Based on 2011 population projections, RCP extrapolated out what 2020 might look like if current population trends continue. That means Texas would pick up 3 more seats in the House, possibly giving us yet another fiasco in terms of redistricting unless we do the right thing by adopting a redistricting commission.

11:22 pm

Paul maintains his lead (Public Policy Polling) – While this latest poll by PPP gives Paul a substantial lead and continues to drive Paul’s Real Clear Politics average number ahead of the others, it doesn’t represent too much of a shift since the last PPP poll. What is interesting in the poll is that 72% are commited to their candidate up from 63% in the last PPP poll. The undecided also continues to drop from 7% to 5% now. Gingrich continues to slide in the polls and Romney is holding steady. It’s unclear if the latest Paul issues associated with his newsletter will trip him up going into the caucuses.

6:38 pm

Rick Perry files federal lawsuit challenging Virginia ballot-access law (Dallas Morning News) – Perry appears to favor states rights except when those rights go against his bid for president. I expected this to happen and kind of figured Gingrich would be the one filing the suit. The problem is what limits are constitutional and what limits aren’t. I don’t see him winning this suit. Then again, who cares. He’s so far down in the polls now.

2:31 pm

Holder’s Legacy (The New Yorker) – Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker writes his assessment of the upcoming battle expected in the Supreme Court over the Voting Rights Act. The issue at hand with the challenges involves whether Section 5 of the VRA, the preclearance requirement, still has merit. As Toobin notes, in a situation in South Carolina it was apparent that the requirement for a photo ID would have hindered over 80,000 voters. Toobin’s assessment is a good read, if you are following the redistricting battle.

11:22 am

Congressional Redistricting – State by State (WaPo) – Here’s a great scorecard on where the states are at in terms of redistricting. As you can see, TX is way behind the curve and will probably lag the entire lot. CA, which used a redistricting commission, is done with no court challenges.

10:46 am

What Will Bachmann Do After Iowa Caucuses? (Human Events) – John Gizzi of Human Events, a conservative media site, speculates on what Bachmann might do if she has a very poor showing in IA. While she might return to the House, based on her success as the “sound bite queen” she would fit into Fox News very well and could give it some new lift. I don’t think she’ll follow the Palin model as that would be too many ex-mama grizzlies wandering the country.

10:32 am

Voting Rights Act still matters (Editorial, LA Times) – This op-ed piece focuses on why Section 5, the preclearance section, of the Voting Rights Act should still apply today. I agree that maybe we’ve outlived the first part which outlines a small number of states and stygmatizes the South. However, because our voting issues have changed the second part requiring preclearance of changes should stil apply, may expanded to the entire country.

10:23 am

12th Amendment hitch for Newt Gingrich, Bob McDonnell ticket? (Politico) – Gingrich seems to have a problem with the Constitution these days. Between his desire to redefine how the judiciary funcions based on our Constitution to trivializing the 12th Amendment, it appears Gingrich doesn’t like playing by the rules. He’s still battling to operate as a write-in candidate in VA, which doesn’t allow write-ins for primaries.

10:20 am

Iowa: Who will survive? (Politico) – Here’s a recent recap of the Republican candidates in the Iowa Caucus by a couple of writers for Politico. I agree with their assessment of the race and how it will shape out after IA. Remember, there’s NH and SC following very shortly afterwards.

10:15 am

GOP candidates, super PACs have spent million on TV, radio pitches in December (Des Moines Register) – Can you imagine being an Iowan during December prior to a presidential electin year? The air waves are full of campaign ads. Of course it’s a bonanza for the local media outlets in the state. Perry and Romney are leading the pack, as can be expected based on their warchests. The difference is Romney has a lot more to spend than Perry does after IA is over.

10:07 am

Perry returns to Iowa, with controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Dallas Morning News) – Looks like Perry thinks Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County will give him the needed lift in Iowa. Even with the federal allegations of abuse of power, Perry feels Sheriff Joe will play well. Possibly so since IA is over 90% Caucasian.

9:01 am

O Lucky Mitt (The New York) – John Heilemann of The New York magazine outlines why this nomination process may have bode well for Mitt Romney through the continual vetting of the debates and the intense drag on campaigns. Those organized well have fared well. Those who entered this without good organization are suffering through the most important segments.

8:54 am

A User’s Guide to the 2011 Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary (The New Republic) – William Galston of The New Republic provides a good, short synopsis of what to expect going into the Iowa Caucuses. I agree with him regarding the field of contenders being whittled down to three. Galston feels the final race through to FL will end up being between Romney, Paul, Gingrich, and possibly Perry.

8:44 am

Many Iowans struggle with political indecision (WaPo) –  With such a diverse field in Iowa, GOP voters are having a hard time locking in on a single candidate. In fact, the number of voters either undecided or who might change their minds at the caucuses is at an all time high. With only a week left for campaigning, we’ll see who ends up the final flavor of the week.

7:17 pm

Bachmann is now answering question on withdrawal of troops from region. Questions how our allies will view further involvement.

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