Texoblogosphere: Week of February 13th

The Texas Progressive Alliance declares that the number of the counting shall be three (to zero) as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the Congressional seats the DCCC says it will target in 2018.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos exposes the craven hypocrisy of Texas Senator John Cornyn. No John Cornyn we did not overwhelm your offices because we are sore losers.

SocraticGadfly takes a look at a biennial Texas Legislature tradition — peddling seemingly unconstitutional bills. This year, silencing non-duopoly voters and other vote disenfranchisement is in the crosshairs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme heard Stephen Miller and Jason Chaffetz. Texas Republicans, like the Trump apparatchiks and GOP operatives in other legislative bodies, are going after voting rights with a vengeance.

Three years, eleventh months, and one more week just like the past three, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture he took of diverse and excellent citizens of Houston protesting against Trump’s travel ban. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Lone Star Ma calls on us to make contacting our elected officials part of a daily routine.

Therese Odell rounds up the anti-Trump Super Bowl highlights.

The TSTA Blog explains how the Senate budget cuts funding for schools.

Texans Together offers some practical advice for contacting your elected officials.

Bakeyah Nelson implores Ben Carson to “first do no harm” at HUD.

Cort McMurray‘s heart goes out to poor John Cornyn for having to deal with all those pesky constituents

Held Accountable: Trump Advisor Resigns

In the flurry of events that have begun the Trump Presidency, it’s sometimes difficult to sort fact from fiction, or significance from daily bluster.  This presented a continual struggle for the news media during the 2016 campaign, and is even more of a challenge today.

But the news media is starting to figure it out.  In fact, this week has already proven an historic one for the young Trump Administration, as CBS News reports…

National security adviser Michael Flynn offered his resignation on Monday night, senior White House sources told CBS News. President Trump accepted his resignation and named a temporary replacement.

Flynn said in his resignation letter that during the course of his duties as incoming national security adviser he held “numerous” phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers and ambassadors that were “to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships” between President Trump, his advisers and foreign leaders.

“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” he said. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”

 

What was that Mr. Flynn said about Hillary Clinton?  “Lock Her Up”?

An international firestorm began to swirl around Former National Security Advisor Flynn when it was revealed that he spoke with Russian leaders about the possibility of alleviating sanctions once Trump took office.  And even after the resignation, this crisis is only deepening for the Trump Administration, as journalists continue to decipher exactly what the President may have known about these talks.

Thus why this situation is historic… it marks the first time the Trump folks have been held accountable for their questionable actions.  After a continuous succession of false statements, blatant denials and potentially dangerous missteps, the President and his team are FINALLY starting to bear consequences for their actions.  This is one complexity that a late-night Twitter rant simply will not repair.

With a Congress that seems to look the other way at every Trump misstep (where did those constant cries of ‘Executive Overreach go?!?!), the American People are now limited to the Fourth Estate as their primary watchdog in Washington.  Looks like we are starting to make use of it.

After ‘Travel Ban’, Citizens Gather, Support Texas Muslim Capitol Day

If Americans are learning anything in the wake of January 20th, it is this:  the controversy just doesn’t stop when your President is Donald Trump.  As if the proposed Border Wall plans weren’t enough for week one, the nation was left reeling late Friday from the President’s hastily announced (and apparently hastily conceived) ‘Travel Ban’ targeting persons from seven Muslim-majority countries.  The Executive Order erupted, causing mass confusion among affected travelers and barring people from entering the country.

Here’s the full text of the  President’s Executive Order:  Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, directly from the White House.  Many Trump supporters are quick to point out that the Executive Order does not explicitly ban any person of a particular religion, so it is unfair for protesters and others to label it as a “Muslim Ban”.  But like many of the actions Trump has taken thus far, his true motives were revealed in a recent interview where he doubles down saying the Ban is “meant to prioritize Christians”.  So yeah… it’s a Muslim Ban.

 It’s in this fractured and uncertain environment that the Muslim community held its advocacy event in Austin.. Texas Muslim Capitol Day.  The biennial advocacy day was organized by the Texas area chapters of CAIR– the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  Here’s more on the event from Alexa Ura and Alex Samuels of the Texas Tribune…

Participants in Tuesday’s Texas Muslim Capitol Day traveled to Austin for a day of education about the state government. But they walked away with a significant lesson in civil demonstrations.

Two years ago, the Muslim participants who visited the Texas Capitol were met with two dozen protesters who repeatedly interrupted their event. But when participants walked up to the south steps of the Capitol on Tuesday morning, they were surrounded by a massive human circle made up of at least 1,000 supporters looking to ensure the event went off without a hitch.

“Civic engagement … it is not just a privilege. It is God-given privilege, and it’s also a blessing and our duty to participate,” Sarwat Hussain, president of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the crowd gathered for the biennial advocacy day. “Lately, we have seen some demonstrations against us. That is not going to stop us at all.”

 

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Outside the Capitol, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers attending the event made their support known. “We are with you … this is your country, this is your state,” state Rep. Celia Israel of Austin told the crowd. “Texas needs you, and you belong here.”

It was a sentiment made clear by supporters who had joined arms in front of the Capitol. And it was echoed earlier that morning when the first few students who arrived for the advocacy event were met with cheers and applause from the circle of supporters.

As positive as today’s events may have been outside the capitol, the usual business of exclusion and division was alive and well among leaders of the Texas Legislature.  In Governor Greg Abbott’s State of the State Address, chief among his agenda for lawmakers was to pass a ban on ‘Sanctuary Cities’.  What this means for immigrant communities remains to be seen.

But come what may, Texas Muslim communities and those that support them and our collective freedom of religion are here to stay, here to live, here to work and here to be visible.

Trump, Congress Say U.S. Will Pay For Border Wall

Barely a week into the Trump Era and the United States has already seen one of the largest protest marches in American history, caught the new Administration telling blatant lies… or as they would like to say, “Alternative Facts”… about something as inconsequential as crowd size at the inauguration, and taken rapid moves to dismantle the American healthcare system with no signs of a replacement in sight.

Someone call Mary J. Blige, because if this isn’t the ‘Thick Of It’ then we are in for a very tough ride.

As one would suspect, the dizzying developments continue.  After the President signed a sweeping Executive Order to fast track deportations and build the infamous Border Wall,  House Speaker Paul Ryan has stepped up to support the efforts, saying Congress can approve funding for the wall.

But as Eric Werner of the Associated Press (via PBS News Hour) points out, this isn’t exactly what Trump promised on the campaign trail…

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump’s border wall will cost $12 billion to $15 billion — and Ryan says Congress will pay for it by this fall.

Congress will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the Mexican boundary, Republican leaders said Thursday at their annual strategy retreat. But they would not say how they would prevent the massive project from adding to federal deficits. Ryan said the goal is to complete that and other major bills in 2017, but the leaders offered no details on how the wall would be paid for, saying they would wait until the Trump administration proposes legislation.

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Trump has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexican leaders oppose it and have said they won’t finance it.

Congress will pay for “the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” Ryan said.

“We intend to address the wall issue ourselves,” Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Pressed on whether construction would increase federal deficits, Ryan said Republicans are fiscal conservatives. He said strengthening the economy and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care system were two of the best ways to bolster the government’s budget.

“If we’re going to be spending on things like infrastructure, we’re going to find the fiscal space to pay for that” in a budget Congress plans to write this spring, Ryan said.

Umm Mr. Speaker, saying that Republicans are fiscal conservatives is not an answer of how specifically you plan on paying for the wall without adding to the federal deficit.  And it’s certainly not an answer that Republicans would have even consider accepting if the former Administration had proposed legislation without a way to pay for it.  They didn’t support President Obama’s initiatives even when they were paid for, but now we’re supposed to “just trust them”??

Worse yet, it was Donald Trump who said that Mexico would pay for the Border Wall, but now Congress is ready to put up our tax dollars that could be going to educate our kids and pay for our roads.

Sounds less like an ‘America First’ policy, and more like ‘Mexico First’. And Mexican citizens don’t even want the wall.

Let’s revisit some actual facts for a moment.  The United States does not need a Border Wall, because it will not stop illegal immigration to or through the country.  Last time I checked, we live in the 21st Century.  If people want to come to this country illegally, they can get here by simply taking a flight and overstaying their VISA (by many estimates, this is now the predominant mode of illegal immigration).  We can build a wall halfway to the moon and put over a million guards along the Rio Grande. If built, the whole wall project will serve to do more harm than good by fracturing the economies of border communities, seizing land from private landowners, endangering American jobs and reinforcing corrosive narratives which play into the hands of America’s enemies and undermine the values which perpetuate this nation.

Far more important than sealing our borders to keep people out, Congress must do the real work to fix our broken system and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum have tried and failed to get the real work of reform done, and it has been of great detriment to the nation.  Right now the country already spends north of $18 billion per year to enforce the border.  But if we brought our most vulnerable communities out of the shadows and forged a path to citizenship for those already here, we could not only make the American people safer, but generate billions of dollars (and lots of American jobs) in the process.

And let’s not forget, this is the common-sense conclusion that is shared across multiple political philosophies.  If you don’t believe me, take this statement on the border wall issue from the 2016 Gary Johnson campaign

“Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson understands immigration. He understands that a robust flow of labor, regulated not by politics, but by the marketplace, is essential. He understands that a bigger fence will only produce taller ladders and deeper tunnels, and that the flow of illegal immigrants across the border is not a consequence of too little security, but rather a legal immigration system that simply doesn’t work. Militarizing the border, bigger fences, and other punitive measures espoused by too many politicians are all simplistic “solutions’ to a problem caused by artificial quotas, bureaucratic incompetence and the shameful failure of Congress to actually put in place an immigration system that matches reality.”

Unfortunately for us, “reality” has been thrown out of the window for the next several years.  And soon, our view of it may be blocked from the wall.

 

Encore!! Houston Classical Music Gains Dedicated Radio Coverage

Recent years have proven challenging for Houston’s incredible Arts Scene.  After KUHF’s Award-Winning program The Front Row closed its doors in 2013, the city’s diverse collection of artists and musicians lost one of their greatest champions.  In the years since, Houstonians have been wondering what will become of the once robust local music and arts coverage that was offered on public radio.

Past live performance from KUHF’s The Front Row featuring members of the Houston Ebony Music Society, 2012.  Performers are DuWayne Davis, Adavion Wayne, Wayne Ashley and Leon Turner with Dr. John Cornelius at the piano.  

Even with excellent intermittent feature stories from the great folks at Houston Public Media’s Houston Matters and the dedicated work of Arts and Culture reporter Amy Bishop and TV8 program Arts InSight, Houston Arts have dearly missed the programming options and connectivity that our former program schedule provided, and have been left wondering if there will ever be additional options.

Luckily with 2017, part of that open question is getting answered, as Houston Public Media premieres a new program dedicated to classical music in the area.  Here’s more from Clifford Pugh of CultureMap

Fans of Houston’s classical music scene will have a new outlet as Houston Public Media debuts a new weekly radio show and podcast that highlights performances of local concert organizations. Encore Houston premieres Saturday at 10 pm, with an encore performance Sunday at 4 pm on Classical 88.7 HD-2 and online at houstonpublicmedia.org/listen-live.

The first episode features Mercury‘s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, also known as the “Choral” Symphony, from May 2016, along with commentary and details about the chamber orchestra’s upcoming performance from Houston Public Media classical host and producer Joshua Zinn.

[…]

Other classical groups that will be featured during the first season are KINETIC, Chamber Music Houston, DaCamera, Ars Lyrica, Houston Early Music, Context, Musiqa, Bach Society, Houston Chamber Choir, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, and St. Cecilia Chamber Music Society. The length of each show varies according to the concert performance; most shows will run between one and two hours.

Like other HPM program offerings, each episode of Encore Houston is also available via podcast, so if you’ve missed the debut, you can always go back and check out the previous shows.  Beyond listening, you can also show your support for Encore Houston (and any possibilities of future arts coverage) by posting about the program on social media.  Host and producer Joshua Zinn is on Twitter as @HPMZinn, and though there’s no Facebook page for the specific show yet, you can always like the Houston Public Media page and like/comment on posts about the new show.

After a noticeable drought of music and arts coverage, it’s great to see those resources slowly reforming in the community.  Encore, indeed!

Texoblogosphere: Week of January 23rd

The Texas Progressive Alliance marches with the resistance as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff stays on the bathroom beat.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos attended the women’s march in Houston yesterday. Meanwhile, in that spirit, she recalls the old Republican healthcare plan. Remember the GOP healthcare plan? “Don’t get sick”.

Socratic Gadfly looks at the most recent Back the Blue support tool, and decries its flag desecration hypocrisy.

Neil at All People Have Value visited the segment of the Berlin Wall at Rice University that was defaced by graffiti supporting Donald Trump. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power laid odds on Trump’s shade of orange at the inauguration, but PDiddie at Brains and Eggs took some of their easier money.

Easter Lemming Liberal News, now on Facebook and Twitter reports Pat Van Houte is running for mayor of Pasadena, Texas. She opposed the redistricting just ruled illegal.

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

Robin Paoli and Aimee Mobley Turney explain why they marched on Saturday.

G. W. Schulz shares the lessons he has learned from hustling in the new gig economy.

Luis Hestres wonders what Trump’s election will mean for digital freedom of speech.

Equality Texas is tracking the pro- and anti-LGBT bills in the Legislature.

The Texas Election Law Blog analyzes the Pasadena redistricting decision.

The Lunch Tray says goodbye to Michelle Obama.

The Bloggess did what she could to help you get through last week.

Colin Strother advises us all to hold on tight.

And yes I know FORMER President Obama is not from Texas, but he sure fought for us for 8 years!!  We miss you already!!  🙁

Shareholders’ Meeting: ‘Women’s March’ Welcomes New President

Yesterday the National Mall in Washington, DC was the site of one of our nation’s most cherished and important traditions.

And today, the same sacred site hosted another important tradition. The Women’s March on Washington had larger than expected turnout, with some news sources reporting a crowd comparable to attendance on the actual Inauguration Day.  Whatever the final numbers, it is quite possibly the largest inauguration-related protest in American history.

Standing in solidarity with Washington were citizens across the country, with many sites beating expectations.  The Lone Star State was certainly no exception.  The Houston estimate of attendees was north of 22,000, and estimates for Austin are said to have crossed up to 50,000 attendees.

So those are the stats, and here is the why.  Sure some people showed up today because they still refuse to see Trump as a legitimate President.  It was an opportunity for them to let off some steam, and be around like-minded folks with similar complaints.

But for most, today’s march was about more than Donald J. Trump, or any one President.  It was a reaffirmation of the America that has had a place since Barack Obama was elected in 2008.  It was a reminder that one Electoral College result may have chosen a leader, but it didn’t erase the people of this nation.  It didn’t erase their values.  Of the 324 million citizens in the United States (235 million in the voting-age population), 130 million of them participated in the 2016 Election.  Of that sum, state lines and their apportioned Electors determined a winner which only 63 million of those people selected, while 66 million chose the other candidate.  So sure, what happened today across the country was a protest.

President Trump is still relatively new to governing, but he has lots of experience in business.  So instead of viewing today’s events as protests, perhaps another way to think about them is a shareholders’ meeting.  Like any major company, the citizens of the United States all have a stake in our country.  As President, Mr. Trump is the only elected official whom serves all of us… 324 million shareholders, 324 million bosses.  Like the inaugural celebrants of yesterday, we have a right to ‘welcome’ the new administration as well, and voice our interests and concerns.  Glad to see that the message is getting out.

Here are a few snaps from Women’s March Houston

 

 

A Voice for the Rest of Texas