11 December 2007

the answer my friend is blowing in the wind


I agree with Carrie that rehabilitation for those inmates eligible for parole is a good alternative to anything else. I am against capital punishment; you know what they say: an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. I feel that life in prison without parole is a suitable punishment for those truly heinous crimes, but giving the former inmates life skills for after their release, it would seem, could lower in part the chance of repeat offenders. If the population of those in prison falls, then less money will be needed to be allocated to the system free up the funds for other use. Providing Texas prisoners with skills will also increase the overall quality of citizen.

30 November 2007

Election 2008

Signs supporting Ron Paul can be found all over Austin. From "paid for by Ron Paul" to "Ron Paul 4 Prez" graffitied on the sidewalk, the man has garnered himself a following in the area. As a voter who has yet to make up her mind for the 2008 election, I decided to give a futher look into this guy. I visited the issues section of Ron Paul website and found that while he has some good ideas about limiting government influence, his ideas about abortion and international politics concern me. He doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose, would like to overturn Roe v. Wade and believes we should not remain in the United Nations. While he belives in the power of the free market, he does not believe in encouraging NAFTA trade. So while I think the young twenty somethings are for the government staying out of thier damn lives, I think Ron Paul could do that along with some unwelcome reform.

16 November 2007

Re:Texas executions—should death row inmates have last meals?

from http://look-through-the-window.blogspot.com/2007/11/texas-executionsshould-death-row.html
In a list provided by http://www.deadmaneating.com/, we see the kinds of food death row inmates get before their execution:

Barbeque turkey legs and barbeque brisket, with a bowl of cheddar cheese and avocados to eat.

I have barbeques when I want to celebrate something or have a good time with family. Barbeque should be enjoyed and savored by a hardworking individual who deserves to relax, not for someone who killed an “ex-girlfriend he stalked before raping, strangling, and using (sic) a claw hammer to beat her to death” with.

Another man named Christopher Newton--who was executed for killing a fellow inmate because the victim kept giving up before their chess game was over--received steak, asparagus, brussels sprouts, feta cheese, a soft drink, cake, and watermelon. I only get steaks on my birthday!

Of course, these were the last meal requests given to the media. According to Brian Price, an inmate who served ten of fourteen years preparing meals for the condemned, explains in his article, The Last Supper that many of the meals that prisoners wanted were substituted with less costly items. The policy of the Texas Department of Corrections was that only food readily available in the Walls Unit kitchen commissary and butcher shop could be used. For example, if the ill-fated prisoner asked for lobster, he was given a filet of processed fish. Requests for large amounts of food were brought down to more practical portions.

Still, do death row inmates even deserve to have meals such as these?

These people murdered mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers, and sons. Should they really be allowed to spend their remaining days pleasing their palate with delectables followed by a quick and painless death?

I completely respect Ms. Gonzales' opinion but have to respectfully disagree. I think it is a fair assumption that if you are being executed you have been on death for upwards of ten years or more. I think one meal before of non prison food is justified. And as the article states, most of the food served is only what the prison has in stock- it isn't as though fillet mignon is being flown in from France. I can see where it would seem logical to take the meal away from those prisoners who have no regrets about what they had done to get to the point they are at, but who is to judge that. And as DNA evidence has shown, many of those on death row who have been executed were actually innocent. I just think the "last meal" is a very American norm as much so as executing people.

02 November 2007

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch changes


This article in the Dallas Morning News points out the fact that 4 out of 5 fifth graders who fail the TAKS are still promoted. I have never been a fan of using standardized tests as the end-all be-all of measuring students intelligence. I think too much emphasis has been placed on passing the TAKS tests. I grew up in the Texas school system, and I remember how important the TAAS test was. In the weeks before the test, we would have review sessions of TAAS questions and do practice prompts over and over. In some cases I know teachers gear their whole year toward making sure everyone passes by teaching for the test. This type of behavior robs students of learning things not asked on the test. I feel one reason, in part, that the US lags behind in education is because of standardized testing. If teachers feel the need to cheat to get their students to pass a test, we have a problem.

19 October 2007

a toll is a toll, and a roll is a roll, and if we don't get no tolls, then we don't eat no rolls

The Editorial Board's "Acceptable detour until lawmakers remove roadblocks" appearing in this week's editorial section of the Austin American Statesman comments on the Nov. 6th proposal to grant five billion dollars of state revenue to build highways. TX DOT believes this money will be spent within three years, not on new highways, but repairing old ones. The author of the article feels that instead of making changes to current blocks in funding (raising the frozen gas tax, and sadly enough for drivers, allowing more non-profit toll roads) the government is simply creating more debt for the future without fixing the problem.
I very much agree with the author, I don't think that using money that could go toward education or research should be used to build new highways. I guess it would be ignorant to think that Texas highways are not in poor condition. The author points out that Rick Perry wanted to allow toll roads to be for profit ventures. Perhaps his "trans-Texas" idea is one simply to get business owners on his side (that's probably not true, but I can't help but love conspiracy theories). I agree that some kind of increse of the gas tax is warranted after 15 years, so I for one will not be voting in favor of Prop. 12

01 October 2007

all we are is dust in the wind...

A recent article in the Austin American Statesman, or as my former government teacher ever so lovingly called it the Austin un-American Statesman, presents the Texas School Land Board's decision to give four tracts of offshore land to companies in the wind power business. The leases provide money for public education, and these leases should bring in an estimated 231 million dollars. The wind turbines are expected to generate power starting in 2012. The plan could face trouble if the government decides not to continues subsidizing and granting tax credits for wind power companies.

I am glad to see Texas looking to the future and investing in energy that is recyclable. Taking power from oil and gas is always a positive step in lessening our reliance on non-recyclable fuels. I feel Texas is doing an adequate job of looking to the future. If/when Texas isn't able to form its own country, I'll be worried.

21 September 2007

New Driving Laws for Texans

The article in the Austin Chronicle provides a summary of the laws passed and passed on by latest session of the Texas Congress pertaining to driving that took effect on September 1. Now those who are caught speeding over ninety-five miles per hour cannot have their ticket dismissed with a defensive driving class. Drivers older than seventy-nine are required to visit the DPS to renew their license and drives over eighty-five have to take an eyesight test every two years. New legislation for school buses states that students must stay in their seats and that the maximum capacity of the bus must be adhered to. By September of 2010 buses will be required to have seat belts. Some legislation passed seemed to be more for clarification and common sense. For example the adult passenger riding with a learning driver cannot be drunk or asleep, and that firearms are not allowed on school buses. Bills passed on by the governor and the senate were ones that would have stopped school buses from idling while at school events, and one that would ban the use of cell phones without a hands free device while driving. I think the article is worth a look to keep informed about the legislation our state feels is important. It surprises me how ordinary the laws passed are. When so many laws like this, seemingly trivial laws, are passed it always makes me wonder what (if any) are the larger issues that are not being focused on. Either way, anyone who was looking forward to taking their firearm on a school bus is now SOL.