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March 20th, 2011:

Weekend link dump for March 20

Are we fired up and ready to go yet?

For the record, I love Daylight Savings Time. It’s the best time of the year.

My BlackBerry adjusted to DST with no problems. Your iPhone, maybe not so much.

Why anonymous comments are bad for discourse.

It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you’re stuck with the turkeys, isn’t it?

On women in science, by a woman in science.

Even Laura Bush thinks Congressional Republicans are wrong.

Yeah, Michelle Bachmann is an idiot. Who doesn’t know much about history, among many other things.

The story of Popeye, and how he almost didn’t happen.

These shoes. You need them.

Make your own animal husbandry joke.

Why Borders Books failed (via).

Who invented baseball? Not who you think.

Why any self-respecting news organization would uncritically accept the word of a proven serial liar is beyond me. And seriously, NPR, grow a pair.

“So the governor responsible for the lowest uninsured rate is a heretic, while the governor responsible for the highest uninsured rate in the nation is a mainstream conservative.” That’s your modern Republican Party for you.

Imagine if we treated other energy-related disasters like we treat nuclear disasters.

This would impress a Ferengi.

If you’re not pro-contraception and family planning, you’re not “pro-life”.

From the “Hell hath no fury” department.

As goes the nation, so goes Ohio.

Seriously, what is it about Haley Barbour that makes anyone think “Presidential timber”?

Ezra had it right about Evan Bayh the first time.

The Tau Manifesto.

Help Sen. Rand Paul with his potty problems.

Make your Facebook and Twitter sessions more secure.

From the “Best health care in the world, baby!” files.

Do not embarrass Wil Wheaton. It just isn’t done.

Maybe this time people will remember why they hated the GOP for a little longer.

Never trust a man named Erskine. Don’t trust polluters, either.

Now this is what I call WINNING!

Dan Quayle is making sense. No, I never thought I’d say that, either.

God loves the Irish.

Don’t claim endorsements you don’t have

Seems like that lesson needs to be re-learned every cycle. We already have two examples of it this cycle. Here’s example one:

City Council candidate Eric Dick apologized for advertising an upcoming fund-raiser by sending out a mailer featuring a photo of Sheriff Adrian Garcia standing with Dick in front of City Hall.

“I didn’t mean that to suggest that he’s endorsing or that he’d be at the fundraiser,” Dick said. “I’m sorry if he didn’t want it in there.”

He didn’t.

And here’s example two, from Bill White’s Facebook page:

Houston City Council District C candidate Brian Cweren placed my photo in a local weekly, beside the words “I’m backing Brian.” Well, no. I never talked to him about the race, but I have talked about city issues with another candidate, my friend Ellen Cohen, a public servant with integrity. There will be “big shoes to fill” in that district when Ann Clutterbuck leaves. Mr. Cweren also had run against her.

Houston Politics noted it a few days later. I take both candidates at their word when they say they didn’t mean to imply anything, and I’m sure that this will be forgotten long before November. But please, all of you people who aren’t candidates for something yet, take note. This isn’t that hard to figure out.

SBOE wants its new textbooks

But it may not get them.

State board members are growing increasingly anxious that lawmakers might not provide funding for new textbooks and instructional material – even though they’re giving the Legislature $1.9 billion from a 157-year-old endowment established to help schools, including providing free textbooks for students.

Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, warns that students won’t be able to handle tougher school accountability tests without updated instructional materials.

“It’s a moral imperative that you provide the proper instructional material,” Bradley said this week in an effort to focus attention on the conflict.

A unified board insists that lawmakers spend $500 million on textbooks and instructional material for biology, chemistry and physics in high school, and for English language arts and reading in lower grades, Bradley said.

“This is non-negotiable,” he said.

Some legislative leaders, however, question the wisdom of buying new textbooks when schools face up to $11 billion in budget cuts.

“Right now it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend money on textbooks and then fire the teachers who would be using the textbooks,” said Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, vice chair of the House Public Education Committee and school finance expert on the Appropriations Committee.

Personally, I think Hochberg has the better argument here, and with the SBOE being short on friends these days, it’s not clear how they will overcome it. Sure, the new STAAR tests will require new materials, but we can always push back the implementation date on that. Given all the other upheaval that schools and school districts will be facing, that seems like the obvious thing to do. It hasn’t sunk in yet with Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Florence Shapiro yet, though, as she insists there will be at last $400 million spent on new texts. Something will have to give, that much is for sure. Martha has more.

It’s a start

Credit where it’s due, from a story about the Lobby Day effort by teachers and other public school supporters.

New member Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, reminds folks that the current budget shortfall reflects a structural deficit that began in 2006 when lawmakers cut school property taxes without raising enough money to pay for the swap.

“We see it as tantamount to an inferno going on,” he said, “and they’re giving us a garden hose with no water pressure to put it out.”

The freshman lawmaker favors using half of the rainy day fund and giving school districts more flexibility to absorb cuts more efficiently. He also favors a special session next year if state revenue picks up at least 5 percent ahead of projections. If that happens, state leaders could increase spending on education and critical health and human services.

“I understand this will have consequences for decades to come, if we don’t make the right decisions,” Larson said.

I give Rep. Larson credit for recognizing the problem, which I daresay puts him in a small minority among House freshmen, and his analogy is quite apt. It would be nice to see him call on the House Republican leadership to fix this problem they caused so we’re not right back where we started next session, though it probably wouldn’t make any difference anyway. At least he’s pointing in the right direction, and Lord knows we could use more of that.

Time for a corporate income tax?

Maybe, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said legislators should consider a constitutional amendment that would clarify that an income tax could be assessed on corporations but not individuals.

The objective would be to use the corporate income tax to replace the current franchise tax that is considered unfair by many businesses.

“Even if you lose your shirt, you still may be liable for paying the business tax because it isn’t an income tax,” Ogden said. “That business tax is a mess.”

Overcoming the visceral objection to an income tax will be tough — even if it would apply only to businesses.

“I think at least it’s something we should consider,” Ogden said. “I think the voters are reasonable people. If we propose reasonable solutions, I think they will give it serious consideration.”

If they can hear your reasonable proposals over the screeching and caterwauling that would be sure to accompany it, then sure, they’ll consider it. Good luck with all of the zombie lies that will be told. The point of this is that the much-reviled business margins tax, in addition to its other flaws, may be assessed on a business that lost money in a given year. This is because it was explicitly designed to not be an income tax, because that would be unconstitutional and Just Plain Wrong. Yeah, I don’t get it, either. Anyway, Ogden’s plan isn’t going to go anywhere because tax legislation must originate in the House, and House Ways and Means Chair Harvey Hilderbran has said no new tax bills will be forthcoming this session. So, barring anything unusual, we’re stuck with the system we have for at least two more years.