All posts by L. Wayne Ashley

Thanks for visiting!! My name is Wayne, and I live in Houston, Texas. I wouldn't consider myself a "diehard" liberal activist, but I definitely have a Progressive view on most issues. I'm a proud Millennial, and I feel like the voice of my generation in Texas gets overshadowed by the older, more established groups. This is my effort to change that. Please come back and read when you can.

Summer just got cooler in Texas… Galveston’s Pleasure Pier

Now this is something we can all agree on… fun for kids of all ages!

According to Sid Kearney of the Houston Chronicle, Galveston’s Historic Pleasure Pier is open just in time for Memorial Day weekend. It’s a “soft opening” today with 13 of the 16 rides in operation. The remaining 3 will be open within a few weeks.

The historic Pleasure Pier occupies the same space as the former Flagship Hotel, which was destroyed during Hurricane Ike. Leave it to Billionaire Landry’s owner Tillman Fertitta to see a need for the Houston area, and bring us all a very cool summer surprise. Along with the Kemah Boardwalk, Landry’s corp. now operates a majority of the Houston metro’s largest amusement park attractions (Six Flags Astroworld closed its doors in 2005). Fertitta had to pony up $60 million to build this super-awesome attraction, and I suspect he’ll make his money back soon enough.

Visit pleasurepier.com for all of the info

In any accord, thank you Mr. Fertitta for your perennial investment in Galveston, the Houston area, and most importantly, FUN!!

Birther Bot: Republican Congressman Mike Coffman

This Republican Congressman has now been revealed as a birther. Funny how eloquent he is in his speeches and previous interviews, but when confronted with this question, he seems to get “stuck”… Keep in mind that the United States Government is paying him to represent the people of the great state of Colorado. And the best he can do is become a robot?? I hope this election day brings an end to his career in Congress.

The ABCs of the GOP: C is for…

Convoluted

The word Convolution has many different meanings. It could mean

1. a twisting together; a turn, twist, or coil
2. an intricate, involved, or confused matter or condition
3. any of the numerous convex folds or ridges of the surface of the brain.

Regardless of which meaning you use, Convolution is an accurate deptiction of the current Republican Party… full of impossible twists and turns, and wound into such a confusing coil of alliances that there’s really no clear way to go.

Let’s zoom back to 2010 for one great example. Remember how GOP lawmakers railed and RAILED against the Stimulus?? They called it a spending bill, they said it wouldn’t create a single job. They barked and barked about how it did nothing more than explode the deficit. Michele Bachmann was perhaps one of the most outspoken opponents, calling the Stimulus an “orgy of spending” and “fantasy economics”. Of course when it comes to the needs of her Congressional District, Ms. Bachmann is more than happy to fall in line and BEG for Stimulus funds, citing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directly. So if it doesn’t create jobs, why would she ask for the money?? It’s a very convoluted way to look at government indeed. Of course Ms. Bachmann and all of her GOP colleagues are paid by the government, and as willing as they are to cut government waste, you never hear a peep about them wanting to cut their own salaries.

Republicans continue to enrage over how government spending has ballooned during the Obama administration. They have continued to blame him for “out of control” spending and promotion of earmarks. But wait… in an era of record filibusters, secret holds for appointments, austere state budgets and histoically bad government gridlock, where is President Obama getting all of this money to spend?? It’s not coming from Congress. Funny thing about gridlock… nothing gets passed. If laws don’t get passed, then money doesn’t get spent. All of the weekly battles that flood the airwaves aren’t new legislation. They’re actually drudging routine law practice through newly created hoops. “Continuing Resolution” is a buzz word for just keeping the lights on. The GOP’s convoluted argument is that Obama is spending taxpayer money left and right, but in reality, his administration has yielded the slowest spending rate in over 30 years. Actually Obama has tried to spend more on government stimulus, and the Republicans have blocked him from doing that. They’ve also managed to starve our economic recovery so much that we’re made especially vulnerable to the shifting tides of Europe.

But who might you ask is the poster child for convoluted statements? None other than presumptive GOP leader Mitt Romney. He’s Pro-Choice in 1992… Pro-Life today. He was against gun laws as Massachusetts Governor… Now today he openly campaigns for and with the NRA. He was for universal healthcare coverage, so much so that he brought it to fruition as Governor of Massachusetts, but today he’s against… himself?? Well you get the idea. Check out the “Ultimate Flip-Flop Collection”. It’s my personal favorite to drive the point home.

Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Romney is a nice guy and very successful, but the twists and turns of his political record will leave you in a tailspin. I guess that’s why he’s the most sensible candidate for the contemporary GOP… one big convoluted mess.

RIP Donna Summer… and the Cancer fight

Another shocking bit of news from the music industry today. TMZ reports that Donna Summer, legendary Queen of Disco, has died today at the age of 63. Summer, like so many of our loved ones, succombed to her battle with Cancer this morning. Her music and spirit will live on in the hearts of her fans, and definitely in their heartbeats on the dance floor.

Here are a few tweets of rememberance from her music industry peers…

 

 

As we remember her legendary career and timeless grace, this is also a time to realize the impact of Cancer on our society. As much time and money as the world has invested to learn about and fight against it, there’s still very little we understand about Cancer. But we do know that the aging populations of the US and other Western Nations will present more complexities related to this umbrella of diseases. A recent article from KevinMD.com states the following:

As life expectancy has increased, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer has increased as well,” Gapstur and Thun wrote. “Nearly 1 in 2 men and more than 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer given the current lifespan.”

Some things are bigger than temporary political or social whims. Challenges like the battle against Cancer require us to put aside our differences, no matter how significant, and join together. To prevent and cure Cancer, we’ll have to say as a people “Enough is Enough”.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsY066wa08E]

The ABCs of the GOP: B is for…

BULLYING

As the American people, we vote for our government officials, and we elect them to go to Washington to work on our behalf. The primary responsibility of of Congress is to make the nation’s laws. But from the current philosophy of the GOP, you wouldn’t know this. Their primary objective in Washington is to defeat President Obama at all costs.

Since the day President Obama was elected, Republican lawmakers have decided to use tactics of belligerence to get what they want. Eventhough the 2008 election came with sweeping majorities in the House and Senate, the GOP already had a plan to shut down the government in place using the Senate Filibuster, and you better believe it worked. With Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, the Senate became a place of ultimate gridlock. Billions of dollars of government assistance that could have kept people in their jobs, helped states at a time of their most dire need, and spurred further economic development were kept from the American people because of a greedy few in the Senate GOP. Bills such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and even the DREAM Act were all passed by the House of Representatives under Nancy Pelosi.

Yes, the United States of America came within one breath of passing the DREAM Act. On December 8th, 2010 the US House passed the bill on a 216-198 vote. But thanks to Senate Republicans, it DIED.

It’s one thing to vote against a bill on principle… if you disagree strongly with something becoming a law, that is what the Filibuster is for. But bullying is entirely different. Take the 2010 Filibuster of Barbara Milano Keenan… an Obama nominee to the Federal Court in Virginia. GOP members of the Senate filibustered her nomination for 5 months, and what was their objection? Absolutely nothing. No one spoke against her qualifications, no one gave any reason why they couldn’t vote for her. She was unanimously confirmed by the Senate after their cry-baby move. 99-0 confirmation vote. This is more than typical bullying, but was a complete WASTE of taxpayer money.

Basically, the tactic back then was to obstruct government (and the President) from being able to accomplish anything. This slowed our pace of recovery sharply and resulted in millions of public sector job losses, just to make President Obama and Democrats look bad. We’re still feeling the effects of this today. Here’s a graph showing the history of the filibuster. Notice how its use doubles right after Obama is elected…

But the bullying and belligerence hasn’t stopped yet.

Remember Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney’s openly gay Foriegn Policy Spokesman who resigned after mounting pressure from the Far Right? No doubt that he was forced from his position solely because he was gay. But here’s the question… Mr. Grenell didn’t appear out of thin air to the GOP. He comes with a long list of foriegn policy accomplishments, and was appointed by President George W. Bush to a United Nations advisory role. He served as a spokesperson to four U.N. Ambassadors. This man was a real asset to the Romney campaign, and has been a faithful member of the GOP, but he was bullied from his position. Funny how Grenell was a Bush appointment, yet no one staged a hell-fire protest against him at the time. Maybe because they didn’t care if W supported gay people? But for some reason, if Mitt Romney does anything outside of their comfort zone, it’s unacceptable.

I have no personal dislike of Mitt Romney. Truthfully, I don’t think he would be a bad President. But it’s not Romney we should fear, it’s all the bullies that get elected with him, and his inability to stand up to them. He is now the leader of the Republican Party, yet he shows no courage to combat the wild extreme hate and rage within it. Bryan Fischer… leader of the American Family Association and a legendary bigot… says it best:

“If Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don’t think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership.”

The Rick Grenell scenario should tell us all we need to know about the current GOP. The party continues to put their own self interests ahead of the American People, and will stop at nothing to bully their way into total control.

Houston: Sports City

This weekend, history is being made in the city of Houston. With the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium, professional soccer has a permanent home in the city. The 22,000-seat facility is soccer-specific, and joins an elite few stadiums of its kind in the United States. After 6 years, the Houston Dynamo’s gamble of moving to The Bayou City has paid out in a big way.

But BBVA Compass is more than just the latest shiny pro-sports facility. It marks the 3rd stadium to come to downtown Houston, joining Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center. This type of planning is a true analomy for most American cities of today, as many professional teams (especially those in more auto-centric cities like Houston) build out in the city’s suburbs.

Houston’s facilities are not only in the urban core of the city, but are also in the core of a well-established transit network. Fans coming to the new stadium can arrive by bus, train or by their car. For citizens that may not have a car, professional soccer is a viable entertainment option for them, along with all of Houston’s other major sports franchises. The same cannot be said for FC Dallas fans, whose Frisco facility is 28 miles from downtown, and only reachable by car. Though I’m not aware of any significant study showing likely soccer fans that would use public transit, it’s reasonable to make the connection that more options could equate to more ticket sales.

So now, more than ever before, Downtown Houston is the hub of pro-sports in Southeast Texas. As alternative energy, sustainability, and regional mobility become increasingly important to American life, Houston is showing that it can be a real game-changer.

So GO DYNAMO!! And Go Houston!

(photo credit: brijonmang on HAIF)