Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

PHB weekend open forum: dealing with chronic pain

I Tweeted and Facebooked this afternoon:

Battling bad, bad diabetic neuropathy today. Even capsaicin won’t tamp down pain. Can hardly walk. Dammit.

It naturally generated a lot of kind “get well” responses, but what’s noteworthy is that there were a number of people who contacted me who either knew someone living with chronic pain or experienced it themselves and were offering tips and tricks or war stories. There were enough reactions in that vein that I thought it might be worth a post so see how others are dealing with it.

Some folks were theorizing that since I’m recovering from surgery, that I might be in a heightened pain response mode in my case. It could be related to my fibromyalgia. In my case, for instance, pain from diabetic neuropathy is something that flares up many times with fibro. Not this time.

Who knows what’s going on, since pain management for those with chronic pain can be an elusive, frustrating battle.  What I do know is all the tricks in my neuropathy playbook were not helping to relieve the burning, stinging, both numb and ultra-sensitive feeling in my feet all last night. It hurts so much that I cannot put any shoes on other than some really padded slippers. Walking to the bathroom, only a few feet away, is cringe-inducing.

This may clear up on its own if I can get to sleep; since my fibro is fairly well-controlled with a combo of Lyrica and Cymbalta (it’s taken years to find the  effective drugs and dosages). Even then, flares can still occur from time to time. I take magnesium and Vitamin D supplements as well. Since I have insulin-dependent diabetes as well, juggling that, particularly before and after surgery, is also taxing. But I can say that it is in great control.

The down side is that the nerve damage in my feet is apparently permanent, since tight control hasn’t made a difference in pain levels when neuropathy decides to flare up. My magic bullet up until now has been the use of capsaicin cream, which is derived from hot peppers. It has proven to be helpful in counteracting the nerve pain, but it did jack sh*t last night.

All of this is not to make you feel sorry for me — I consider myself lucky. The fact is that millions of people out there deal with some sort of chronic, sometimes debilitating pain that common pain relievers don’t help, or don’t have health insurance to help cover the meds (or worse, have insurance that won’t cover a med). I’m also pretty fortunate that there are many days where I am nearly pain free (post-surgery pain excepted right now) when everything is in balance. But so many things can throw it out of whack – changes in weather, over-work, lack of sleep, travel – that it’s a dice roll.

Many people are dealing with pain that requires them to be on narcotics all the time. I cannot imagine that, particularly since your local pharmacy is always hypervigilant about refills of something like Percocet or Oxycodone (thanks, Rushbo!), making one feel like a criminal for filling a script for a legitimate prescription medication that is abused, sold and stolen.

So here are some discussion questions:

* Do you know someone or are someone dealing with chronic pain?

* How is it managed?

* How does it affect quality of life?

* What are any issues re: health insurance?

* What alternative medicine, holistic remedies have been tried? Success?

* How have your doctors been in terms of understanding pain management?

And feel free to share other issues about it.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Paranormal State’s Ryan Buell: Hardest Part Of Being Bi Is Dealing With What Other People Think Of It

My one friend jokes about me and he says "You got half a blue side, half a pink side. Which shirt are you wearing today?" I wouldn't say it's easier for us, I wouldn't say it's harder for us. To be honest, I don't have that many gay or bisexual friends. Here in this college town especially, where it's definitely more liberal and you see a little bit more sexual freedom and experimentation. Growing up and in college, I've met a lot of guys who are bisexual, you know, football players, athletes. Traveling in New York City and LA, you know, entertainment people who very much are bisexual. But that part is more of their secret part, that they may date a girl but then they have something on the side with a guy. My theory is, it's easier because it's not like you're lying to yourself all the way when you're dating a girl because you're generally attracted to her. It's not like that gender turns you off. I would say it's difficult in the sense that you do feel society telling you it's gotta be one thing or the other. That's kind of the hardest part right now, is saying you have to pick one.

—Ryan Buell, the 29-year-old newly out bisexual host of A&E’s Paranormal State, thinks it's still hard for bi dudes to get, uh, by

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