Could A ‘Green New Deal’ Work, Even For Texas??

If you ask most citizens their opinion on the state of American politics today, they’ll give your a variety of answers, based on their political leanings.  But one thing that may be in common with all of those answers?  They are not satisfied with how politics has devolved today.  From the Fringe-Right to the Far-Left, Americans are hungry for solutions.

Over the past couple of years, Republicans have had their chance to provide those solutions. With total control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, the GOP and Trump Administration had two years to truly make a substantial difference and solve some of the most pressing issues American families are facing. Instead, they put profits over people, passed major tax giveaways and further lined the pockets of those that are already rich.

From November’s election results, Americans are clearly not satisfied with the “answers” Trump and Republicans have provided. But many are beginning to listen to voices like New York Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose bold proposition for a Green New Deal is coming more into focus.  Here’s more on that from Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic

On Monday, speaking at a town hall led by Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez framed her chosen climate policy—the Green New Deal—through the lens of gallant American exceptionalism. “This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation,” she said.

The Green New Deal aspires to cut U.S. carbon emissions fast enough to reach the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious climate goal: preventing the world from warming no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. In a blockbuster report released in October, an international group of scientists said that meeting this goal could skirt the worst climate effects, such as massive floods, expansive droughts, and irreversible sea-level rise.

To actually make the target, though, the world must start reducing its carbon pollution immediately, and cut it in half by 2030. And we’re nowhere close. Global emissions levels just hit a record high, and even the Barack Obama administration’s most breakneck climate policy did not put the United States close to making its part of the goal.

The Green New Deal aims to get us there—and remake the country in the process. It promises to give every American a job in that new economy: installing solar panels, retrofitting coastal  infrastructure, manufacturing electric vehicles. In the 1960s, the U.S. pointed the full power of its military-technological industry at going to the moon. Ocasio-Cortez wants to do the same thing, except to save the planet.

The bold, Progressive plan for a Green New Deal is fundamentally simple… to pivot the current priorities of the US government from the rich oligarchy and back to the people.  By investing in guaranteed jobs, the United States could invest in its people and not only help save our planet, but fully remake our economy in the process.

To Republicans, this sounds like total lunacy.  Policies like Medicare for All and Free College Tuition, they say, would completely bankrupt the country.  But in 2018, when our nation already spends over $700 Billion on Defense like it’s a drop in the bucket, how tough would a shift in priorities really be?

So now to the true question… how possible would a “Green New Deal” be for states like Texas??

If you’re from Texas, it’s possible that you’re already halfway there.  The clean energy jobs of the future are thriving in the Lone Star State, as both Houston and Dallas- Fort Worth rank in the Top 10 metros for clean energy jobs in the United States, per a recent report by the Environmental Entrepreneurs group (E2).  The leaders of tomorrows Green revolution are already working in Texas today.

The other reason A Green New Deal could work for the state of Texas is pretty simple… need.  As a massive state where inequality has never been more stark between rural and urban areas, Texas is a state in search of solutions to grow and sustain our rural communities.  As discussed at the recent Symposium on Rural Texas by the Texas Tribune, technological and educational opportunities outside of the major metropolitan areas are struggling to keep up.  Knowing that the success of a Green New Deal would require harnessing the power of both rural and urban  communities, there’s reason to believe that Texas would be a great place to start.  As an energy powerhouse, Texas could lead the way to a prosperous, Green future while simultaneously building up rural communities.

Of course we know the reasons why Texas may be resistant to a Green New Deal, and they’re mostly political.  But now that Democrats have begun to find their footing in the Lone Star State, it’s quite possible that the Republican stifling of these ideas could soon be over.

Walking Back From Tribalism

The death of an American President is indeed a most curious time for the country. Of course the Presidency is the highest office in the land, and the only elected official that we all share, so it’s sensible that we would remember them, and reflect on their legacy in defining an era for our nation.

But each time this happens, it’s also immediately, maybe subconsciously compared to the present moment as well. Suddenly, we judge that era by the rules which are in place today, forgetting all the steps tile had to take in between to get us to the present. It’s a most peculiar form of time travel.

As Frank Bruni of the New York Times writes, this is absolutely the case at this moment, our National Day Of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush…

On Twitter over the weekend, the television writer Bryan Behar did something unconscionable.

He praised George H.W. Bush.

The former president had just died. In Behar’s view, it was a moment to recognize any merit in the man and his legacy.

Many of his followers disagreed. They depended on Behar for righteous liberal passion, which left no room for such Bush-flattering adjectives and phrases as “good,” “decent” and “a life of dignity.” How dare Behar lavish them on a man who leaned on the despicable Willie Horton ad, who nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, who did too little in the face of AIDS, whose privilege often blinded him to need.

They lashed out at Behar. They unfollowed him. And they demonstrated the transcendent curse of these tribal times: Americans’ diminishing ability to hold two thoughts at once.

Bush has indelible stains on his record. He also has points of light. At times he failed the responsibilities of leadership. At times he did right by them. He showed folly and he showed wisdom, cowardice and courage, aloofness and kindness.

Accentuating the positive, especially in the hours after his death, didn’t eliminate the negative.

Tribalism is a vortex that really leaves us so little room to be the complex, multi-dimensional people that we are. Whether it be arguments over President Bush 41’s record, or figuring out our current struggles in governing, we have to find our way back to creating space for common-sense solutions and compromise. Wounds from these political bunkers have grown so deep, it’s sometimes difficult for us to even speak to each other. 

Like being in a choir full of strong-willed individual voices, if none of them are listening to each other, the choir is not going to be very good.

And therein lies the first set of directions for how to get back to a healthier nation. We have to listen to each other, and maybe even remember that occasionally, good ideas can come from people that aren’t on our side.  All the time that Conservatives spend demonizing Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, that is time they lose learning about the Billions Of Dollars in new investment opportunities such a new deal could bring.

In this moment of reflection, let us hope that we can chart a path back to the listening, common sense solutions and compromise which have sustained America through the centuries, and healed us at our most fractious times.  We all know that a better, greater version of ourselves exists, and it’s time that we meet them again.

Point of Light: The Passing Of Bush 41

President George H. W. Bush’s record of achievement is unparalleled… from bravery in battle to political bravery during the height of constitutional crisis, from navigation of complex foreign relations to unprecedented champion of the disabled.

But above all, his example as a good man, devoted husband and loving patriarch continues to inspire us all.  Just as President Bush spoke of 1000 Points of Light in his inauguration speech, his incredible legacy will continue to shine bright in the hearts of Americans, and citizens of our great global community.

My sincere prayers to the entire Bush Family. 

 

Ray Hill: Never Afraid To Speak Out

Everyone has moments in their life where we are faced with an immediate choice.  When we witness an injustice, do we speak out at that very moment, or do we shy away and try to make sense of it in our individual way?  Rarely is this inner struggle an easy one.  But whether easy or not for Houston human rights activist and LGBT icon Ray Hill, we do know that he found the courage to speak out, and fight for justice over the course of decades.

Now Ray himself may have referred to this speaking out as a “performance piece” in some circumstances… he was willing to yell, scream, get arrested and perform any type of civil disobedience as needed to draw attention to issues.  But whether performing or not, Hill was known as someone that generated important results.

Over this weekend, the legendary Ray Hill passed away.  From the Houston Chronicle

Hill, who late in life eschewed leadership roles in activist circles to hone a career as a monologuist — a dramatic undertaking that gained him appreciative audiences in New York, Pennsylvania and New England — died of heart failure in hospice care Saturday. He was 78.

A legend in his own right — and in his own mind — Hill’s business card described his profession as “citizen provocateur,” a proudly worn label he received from a Supreme Court justice after a long-ago legal battle with the cops.

“I was born to rub the cat hair the wrong direction,” he once said.

A rabblerouser, a social gadfly with a sting, Hill made the issues that mattered to him matter to everyone — or at least to those in power. He launched his activist career in 1975 after returning to Houston from a four-year stint in prison for burglary and larceny.

Ever willing to fight the man, at one point Hill bested the City of Houston in the highest court in the land when he got the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an ordinance that made it illegal to interrupt police officers.

Hill’s work continues to have an impact.  Long before the days of cell phone video, Hill fought for the constitutional rights of citizens as they encountered law enforcement.  A case he won against the City of Houston in the Supreme Court not only struck down the city ordinance, but is now used across the nation as more documentation of these interactions are known to the public.  His experience as a prison inmate turned prison reform activist have caused substantive changes in an aspect of Texas that few may understand, but that affects us all.

For decades, Ray Hill showed Houston, the state of Texas, and the entire world the true power of refusing to accept one’s contemporary circumstance.  Be it through civil disobedience (and maybe occasionally un-civil), wielding drama or plain old persistence, Hill was willing to work for change when he saw the need for it.  And as a result, he left an indelible influence on a whole generation of Texas activists.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ray Hill on a couple of occasions, but the one I remember most was sitting down with him and fellow activist Jenifer Rene Pool when she was a guest of his on KPFT.  Pool was running for Houston City Council, and I served as her Social Media director at the time.  As they spoke about various topics, the notion of finding one’s place came up.  After a moment of back and forth, Hill finally said, “but it’s not always about finding your place.  If you can’t find it after a while, you better just make it.

And that was Ray Hill, a true Texas original.  Because of his work, many more of us have a place in the conversation.  But that’s no excuse to stop making new ones as well.

Thank you Ray.

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of November 19th

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the results of the Congressional races to find some themes about what happened and what we can learn from them.

SocraticGadfly remembers the centenary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Along with indulging in counterfactual history, he says people should stop romancing war in general.

As the results of the 2018 election are still being finalized, Texas Leftist is pretty sure that the Georgia Governor’s race will be remembered as one of the most important of this cycle. Though Democrat Stacey Abrams has ended her historic campaign, the work she does to combat Voter Suppression will have a lasting national impact.

==================

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

Better Texas Blog explains the spending cap that the Legislature adheres to.

Houston Justice League reports from the NAACP Houston chapter elections.

Houston Legal has the details of the public reprimand issued by the State Bar of Texas against former Harris County GOP Chair and notorious homophobe Jared Woodfill.

Nonsequiteuse urges Beto O’Rourke to take another run for the Senate in 2020.

Paradise in Hell tells you more than you needed to know about Trumpy Bear.

Dan Solomon is satisfied with how the Amazon HQ2 thing turned out.

Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Ends One Campaign, Begins Another

If you’ve gotten the sense over few weeks that every day seems like an election day, it’s because that sense is basically true.

Long past November 6th, we continue to see high drama play out within close races, both here in Texas, and across the country.  As analysts continue to assess the ramifications of the 2018 Elections, the Georgia Governor’s race will surely stand out as one of the most important contests in our nation’s history.

In Georgia, where Legislator, Democrat and long-time voting rights activist Stacey Abrams battled with former Secretary of State (known for his long history of voter suppression) Republican Brian Kemp.  After more than a week of suspense, the outcome of this race is finally known.  Via Vanessa Williams and John Wagner of The Washington Post

Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her campaign for governor of Georgia on Friday, lamenting voting irregularities that she said tainted the election but conceding that former Georgia secretary of state Brian Kemp would be declared the winner.

Abrams, who had hoped to become the nation’s first elected female African American governor, had worked to force a runoff with Kemp, who as of late Thursday led by 54,801 votes out of 3.9 million cast.

Kemp’s 50.22 percent of the tally put the Republican just above the 50 percent-plus-one-vote threshold required to avoid a runoff election in December.

[…]

Earlier Friday, Abrams was considering filing a separate lawsuit contesting the results and demanding a new election. That would have been based on a provision in Georgia law that allows losing candidates to challenge results.

But she said Friday evening that she did not want to gain an office if she had to “scheme” to get it.

In her speech, Abrams made it clear that she was not giving a speech of concession, but simply acknowledging that her path to victory in the race for Governor was unlikely.  But after a career of fighting despicable voter suppression tactics against the state’s minority communities, she vowed to continue the important work of making elections in the state of Georgia representative of all of its citizens.

Abrams also got real with her supporters.  She spoke out on the many heinous atrocities that Former Secretary of State, now Governor- Elect Brian Kemp employed on Georgians to impede their right to vote.  Even as the campaign for Governor ends, Stacey Abrams also announced that she is not done fighting.  Even as she pledged to pray for the Governor Elect as he prepares to take his post, Abrams also announced the creation of Fair Fight Georgia, an organization dedicated to the integrity of the state’s electoral process.

Candidate Stacey Abrams may not be the next Governor of Georgia, but she has rightly earned the title of Teacher for us all. Through her refusal to give in to a system which silences the voices of its citizens, Abrams is now paving the way for better, fairer elections across the United States.

Thank you Stacey.  Please Fight On.

Alpha Big H: GaWC Ranks Houston As Texas’ First ‘Alpha World City’

In Texas, we talk alot about the “Big D”.  But it might just be time to up the conversation about the “Big H”.

According to the UK based Globalization and World Cities Research Network, the leading academic think tank on cities in globalization, the city of Houston has been doing some B-I-G things of late.  So big that we’ve managed to garner the world’s attention.  For the first time ever, Houston has been ranked as an Alpha World City by the GaWC, and also marks the first city in Texas to claim the distinction.

The new report sees the Big H out rank  other American cities like Denver, Atlanta, Boston and even our in-state neighbor Dallas.

In previous rankings, the Texas urban titans of Dallas and Houston were both classified as Beta World Cities.  Dallas retains its ranking from the previous report.

Per the group’s own metrics, the rankings are a measurement of how well a major city and its regional economy are integrated into the world economy.  Given Houston’s continued standing as one of the world’s leading energy captials, the ascent to Alpha status in comparison to other Texas metros may come as less of a surprise.  But even outside of the immediate energy realm, Houston’s recent advances in areas like healthcare, education and transportation have also proven to have a global impact.

Photo Credit:  L. Wayne Ashley for Ingressive Media 

A Voice for the Rest of Texas