Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Back in 2003, the Republican leadership in Texas decided that funding a college education for Texas students was not one of their priorities. They decided the money would be better spent helping their rich corporate buddies. Since that time, state spending on colleges have not nearly kept up with the need.
Since they were no longer going to adequately fund the colleges and universities, they decided to dump the costs on the students. They removed the regulations on tuitions and fixed it so the colleges could raise the tuition when they wanted. Since 2003, college tuition statewide has risen 40%. That is a huge jump for only a five year period, and it all goes on the backs of already cash-strapped students.
Is it any wonder that even some middle-class students are finding they can no longer afford college. For the poor and working classes, this avenue to the American Dream is rapidly closing. Grants have not kept up with the rapidly riising costs of a college education, and loans can now put someone in debt for many years (and possibly ruin their credit rating in this failing economy).
The Republicans have fixed the economy to where only the rich can get ahead. But the failure to adequately fund education (especially at the college level) was particularly shortsighted. Many times, there is little financial return on government spending -- we just do it because it's the right thing to do.
However, spending on college educations for citizens is not only the right thing to do, it is also very cost-effective and revenue enhancing. When a person gets a college education, they make a lot more money than they would otherwise. That means they also pay a lot more in taxes. Over the long run, the extra taxes add up to a lot more than the money spent on educating that person.
If our state leaders were smart, they would fully fund our colleges and make a college education for students very cheap, or better yet, FREE. This would have the dual effect of bettering lives and increasing tax revenue (without having to raise taxes).
But I don't expect our Republican leadership to do this. They are far too busy filling the wallets of their rich corporate masters and don't have the time or inclination to help ordinary Texans.
The college presidents are probably telling the truth when they say they must raise tuitions to compete with other national colleges. But it's only because the short-sighted Republican leadership refuses to adequately fund our colleges.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The story also smacks of being a slur against her husband. Would Bill Clinton really send his wife and daughter (who was with Hillary on the trip) to a destination that was too dangerous for himself? I don't think anyone, even a Clinton-hater, would believe that.
Monday, March 24, 2008
We tend to put our Founding Fathers on a pedestal, but they were just humans who were called upon to do extraordinary things. They had their foibles and faults, but were able to rise above these in a time of great need.
Two of the most extraordinary people during that time were John and Abigail Adams, and yet today they are overlooked by many in their zeal to eulogize Washington, Jefferson and Franklin. So I was excited to learn that HBO was doing a mini-series on the Adams. But I was also afraid. HBO has done some very good things, but it has also done some unwatchable tripe.
But I shouldn't have worried. After watching the first three episodes, I have to admit that HBO (and executive producer Tom Hanks) are doing a remarkable job in retelling the lives of John and Abigail Adams. If the last four episodes are anywhere near as good as the first three, then there will have to be some Emmy nominations.
The production's creators have shown a respect for our history with an unerring eye for detail and truth. They also understand that John Adams was not a solitary hero. He and his beloved Abigail were a team, and he could not have achieved the things he did without her. She was his equal, and they had one of the greatest love stories in our history.
The casting is also perfect. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail are both believable and compelling in the roles, and these roles give them ample opportunity to display their considerable acting skills.
If you have not seen this series yet, then I urge you to do so. This is one that HBO has done right.
It must be spring here in Texas, because the beautiful wildflower we call the bluebonnet is starting to spring to life. This is the way that every true Texan knows that winter has passed. In fact, the two major strains of the bluebonnet don't grow anywhere in the world except in Texas.
Historian Jack Maguire wrote, "It's not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat. The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland."
According to the website aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu, the Texas legislature in 1901 declared one strain of the bluebonnet (Lupinus subcarnosus) to be the state flower. This touched off a 70-year dispute with those who wanted the showier strain of bluebonnet (Lupinus texenis) to be the state flower.
In 1971, the Texas legislature made all varieties of the bluebonnet the official state flower. This means that Texas actually has five state flowers, since the bluebonnet has five different strains. They are:
1.Lupinus subcarnosus, the original champion and still co-holder of the title, grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley. It is often referred to as the sandy land bluebonnet. The plant's leaflets are blunt, sometimes notched with silky undersides. This species, which reaches peak bloom in late March, is not easy to maintain in clay soils.
2.Lupinus texensis, the favorite of tourists and artists, provides the blue spring carpet of Central Texas. It is widely known as THE Texas bluebonnet. It has pointed leaflets, the flowering stalk is tipped with white (like a bunny's tail) and hits its peak bloom in late March and early April. It is the easiest of all the species to grow.
3.Lupinus Havardii, also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet, is the most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet tribe with flowering spikes up to three feet. It is found on the flats of the Big Bend country in early spring, usually has seven leaflets and is difficult to cultivate outside its natural habitat.
4.Lupinus concinnus is an inconspicuous little lupine, from 2 to 7 inches, with flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender. Commonly known as the annual lupine, it is found sparingly in the Trans-Pecos region, blooming in early spring.
5.Lupinus plattensis sneaks down from the north into the Texas Panhandle's sandy dunes. It is the only perennial species in the state and grows to about two feet tall. It normally blooms in mid to late spring and is also known as the dune bluebonnet, the plains bluebonnet and the Nebraska Lupine.
Each year the Texas Department of Transportation sews about 30,000 pounds of the seeds along Texas highways. Because of relatively dry weather in the past few months, only an average crop of bluebonnets is expected this year. However, a wet Spring could increase the yield.
It's hard to explain what a Texan feels when viewing a field of bluebonnets. It just seems to symbolize hope, beauty and everything that's good about Texas.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008