Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup August 3, 2015

The Texas Progressive Alliance prefers Attorneys General who aren’t themselves lawbreakers as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is dismayed but not surprised by the business community’s apathy about the coming effects of climate change in Texas.

Ken Paxton’s indictments broke news on Saturday afternoon, about 24 hours later than PDiddie at Brains and Eggs predicted. The one remaining question is: how long does our lazy-eyed attorney general twist in the wind before Gov. Greg Abbott cuts down his stinking carcass?

Nonsequiteuse is concerned we may never get back through the looking glass. She realizes that facts are a quaint vestige of simpler times, but cannot resist offering not one but five of them, plus a conclusion, an opinion, and even a bonus prediction about Ken Paxton’s pending felony indictment, words that give her great delight to type over and over and over again.

Socratic Gadfly talks about the initial rollout of Congress’ “new” energy plan and how so little of it is new.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme say you can thank Ronald Reagan and his greedy friends for all of the mentally ill people out on the streets. An Edinburg woman is a widow thanks to Ronnie and the new, militarized police.

Neil at All People Have Value made note of former President Carter referring to the U.S. as an oligarchy. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock analyzes the Donald Trump-inspired proxy war between Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.

Lone Star Ma prays for peace and justice.

David Ortez explains what the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is and why it matters.

Street Smart shows how sacrificing the local street grid for highways can be devastating to the surrounding area.

The Texas Election Law Blog has some hope for restoring regulatory balance to the voting rights process.

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¡Basta de Mentiras!

Watching Sen. John Cornyn and others beat up on the truth when talking about Planned Parenthood in yesterday’s debate over S.1881, which they lost, made me realize that there is no more perfect description of the GOP, and title for a book, than Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. 

I wanted to scream! I wanted to throw things! I wanted to have my rebuttal time with all of the charts and graphs and data that would disprove every last thing those anti-abortion, anti-equality, anti-American liars were saying. Enough with the lies! Americans deserve the truth! And Republicans can’t handle the truth!

What I did instead was write a blog post about it on Burnt Orange Report, which you can read over there.

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But Money’s Fungible! Another Planned Parenthood & Federal Funds Myth Explained

Since 1976, neither Planned Parenthood nor any other healthcare provider has received federal Medicaid funds for the provision of abortion services, except in very rare instances of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.

[By the way, even in those rare instances—rape, incest, life of the mother—clinics rarely receive reimbursement, or even apply, because the process is so onerous and the reimbursement so minimal.]

Cutting federal funds for Planned Parenthood, therefore, does not cut funds for abortion. It cuts funds for other medical services, like birth control (except abortion, as we’ve mentioned), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, cancer screening and early treatment, and even vasectomies.

But money’s fungible!

Helpful men on the internet have been saying this to me all day.

The point they are trying to make is this:

  • A group needs pens and pencils, but they only have $100, enough for either pens or pencils, but not both.
  • The federal government gives a clinic $100 for pencils.
  • They spend $100 on pencils, and $100 on pens.
  • The $100 from the government for pencils freed up the other $100 to be used to buy pens. It was all in the same bank account, and money is money. One could say, therefore, that the government money was used for the pens, because without it, the pen purchase would not have been possible.

Here’s a slightly more technical explanation.

And here’s why, in the case of Planned Parenthood and federal funding, money is not necessarily fungible.

Thanks to numerous federal and state laws and regulations saying Planned Parenthood clinics cannot spend federal Medicaid dollars on abortion, and a ruling in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas (and some other states)* that provide abortion are separate legal entities, entirely independent of Planned Parenthood clinics that provide all other services.

They have separate tax ID numbers, separate articles of incorporation, separate insurance policies, separate everything.

Including separate bank accounts.

They do not share funds.

If you give $100 to Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, an abortion provider, it goes into a completely different bank account than $100 given to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, and vice versa.

So, while in some instances, money can be fungible, in the instance of Planned Parenthood clinics and federal funding, money is decidedly and factually not fungible.

The argument, therefore, that any federal funding for Planned Parenthood frees up funds for abortion, so all funds for Planned Parenthood, regardless of what they pay for, should be cut, is a loser.

That’s not my opinion, that’s fact. And you can take it to the bank.

Where it still won’t be fungible.

Photo of Bea Arthur on a $10 bill taken by a olin and used without alteration in accordance with a creative commons license.

Photo of Bea Arthur on a $10 bill taken by a olin and used without alteration in accordance with a creative commons license.

*In some states, Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortion and all of the other services do not automatically have to be separate entities in order to receive federal funds for all of the other services. They still must demonstrate, however, that no federal funds provide for/subsidize abortion services.

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Five Facts, One Conclusion, One Opinion, One Prediction

Fact: Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or the necessity of saving the life of the mother.

Fact: Senator Ted Cruz and many of his colleagues are threatening to end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Fact: Any federal funds Planned Parenthood clinics receive are used to pay for care including birth control (except abortion), pap smears, cancer screening and early treatment, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Fact: Republicans, by announcing their intent to strip federal funds for Planned Parenthood, are announcing their intent to deny funding for birth control, pap smears, cancer screening and early treatment, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Fact: Two states’ Attorneys General, Indiana and Massachusetts, have already cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in investigations prompted by the release of secretly recorded, deceptively edited anti-abortion propaganda produced by a fraudulently chartered nonprofit entity.

Conclusion: Republicans, willing to defund birth control, cancer screening, and testing and treatment for STIs to score political points on the basis of baseless and inflammatory claims made by people who have likely broken multiple laws, are neither the party of small government nor the party of law and order.

Opinion: Individuals, not the state, should be free to make their own decisions about their health and their lives, especially when it comes to the decision whether or when to bear children.

Prediction: On-the-brink-of-being-indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will hold a press conference about Planned Parenthood and use the words “baby parts,” but will not hold a press conference and use the words “I committed felony securities fraud.”

"Look! Over there! False allegations about someone else who is not me and who has not been indicted on felony charges!"

“Look! Over there! False allegations about someone else who is not me and who has not been indicted on felony charges! Pay no attention to meeeeee!”




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$6K in Six Days to Fund Molly Ivins Documentary

Molly Ivins screenshot

Molly Ivins died eight years ago. Why should you care? And why should you even consider kickstarting a documentary about her life and work?

Eminently quotable, and made to be memed, Molly’s folksy writing and wry speeches, deceptively simple, were built on a foundation of the strongest journalistic standards, academic training, and decades of research, observation, and experience.

She did not aggregate or curate. Molly was a capital-W writer, an artist, a creator. She used her prodigious talent to expose the wealthy and powerful in defense of the least among us.

Let me reconsider, actually, saying she wasn’t a curator. She was, but not in the sense that she filled the Texas Observer with listicles.

She was a curator of good people, bringing them together around the table for beer, chili, and the kind of conversation that mends the torn parts of your soul. She connected her friends to the people they didn’t even know they needed to know.

When Molly Ivins passed away, she left it all on the field. Essays she published decades ago resonate still, and remind us of our obligation to call out injustice.

We owe it to her, and to ourselves, to remember. To document what she did and what she stood for, and to take the baton she offered us every time she spoke out. To give credit and pay homage to a woman who inspired so many of the journalists, writers, and bloggers carrying that baton today.

I challenge you to watch this sizzle reel without laughing out loud.

And I urge you then to donate to get this documentary made. Just a bit, or a little bit more. Six more days to get this project to $100,000, and just a little over $6,000 to go.

She’s a voice for those who didn’t have a voice. We still need that voice. Desperately. Let’s make this happen, and keep raising hell in her memory and for our future.

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Invitation-Only Democracy

Well, well, well.

Invited testimony only during the hearing next week that Senator Charles Schwertner has called, no doubt at the urging of Governor Abbott:

[T]o examine the business practices and regulatory structure of Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas, and to investigate whether state or federal laws are being broken by Planned Parenthood and/or its affiliates in Texas in regards to the donation and/or sale of fetal tissue. The committee will consider recommendations to strengthen regulations on abortion providers, including further restrictions on the sale of fetal tissue by these entities.

A pox on the person who asked me what else the legislature could possibly do post-HB 2 and HB 3994 that could make conditions any worse.

The good news? (1) They can’t keep witness lists secret. (2) No one needs an invitation to show up at the capitol.

Anyone free next Wednesday?

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Today on Burnt Orange Report: GOP Lawsuit Abuse

You know how Republicans in Texas get all in a lather about lawsuit abuse, frivolous lawsuits, and lawyers finding a way to press cases that everyone knows are losers just to suit their ulterior motives?

Well, in testimony during the legislative session, experts advised them that HB 3994 would provoke a constitutional challenge that would be just such a lawsuit, with the bill coming straight to Texas taxpayers.

They didn’t care and passed it anyway, because their voter turn-out strategy is grounded in a fetus fetish. Gov. Abbot signed it (while safely behind closed doors, far from the prying eyes or bullhorns of the #HereForJaneTX movement).

I’m waiting for Texans for Lawsuit Reform and all the other rich guys who work so diligently to strip away consumer protections from the common folk so they can grow their businesses (and vast fortunes) without regard to safety to call on the Texas GOP to stop passing bills to restrict abortion that are designed to draw the state into expensive litigation.

I am not holding my breath.

Here’s a little more about that in my piece up on Burnt Orange Report today.

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