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.

The ABCs of the GOP: E is for

Extinction

For all of the craziness that has gone on within the national GOP, things have been pretty standard here in Texas. After all this is one constant in the world of American politics… Texas is reliably REPUBLICAN. Now the largest state to carry that title, and certainly the one with the most political clout.

But one thing you learn very quickly living in the “Patron State” of the GOP… things aren’t always how they appear to be. If you listen carefully, there’s a stampede happening down here in Texas. And it threatens not only the political structure of Austin, but the Republican Party as we know it.

Texas Republicans are losing the demographic race. With each year, the state of Texas loses white citizens, and gains in minorities (mainly Hispanic), who tend to vote Democrat. If projections are correct, 2010 was the last Census that Non-Hispanic whites will even be the majority in the state. Literally any minute now, the single largest racial group will be Hispanic.

Rather than embrace this new reality and try to engage the rapid growth and Conservative possibilities within the Hispanic community, the Texas GOP has chosen to fight it tooth and nail. With the 2010 Census the state was awarded a whopping 4 new seats to Congress. It’s a massive reflection of the population swell. But despite the fact 65% of the states population growh was Hispanic, Texas Republicans cooked up a Redistricting process that somehow produced 3 new “majority white” Congressional seats. Only one seat will go to a very new (and very convoluted) majority Hispanic district. After an aggressive and painful court battle, there is a temporary ruling in place through the November elections. Unlike years past, the Hispanic community definitely took notice in the redistricting brawl, resulting in a surge of Democratic voters.

Along with the racial and ethnic pendulum shift, it’s no secret that Texas is also rapidly becoming more urban. Of the more than 4 million people that Texas gained between 2000 and 2010, more than 1/3rd of them were in just six of the state’s 254 counties… Harris (Houston), Dallas, Tarrant (Ft. Worth), Bexar (San Antonio), Travis (Austin) and El Paso. The same 6 counties, along with their immediate suburbs, also grew rapidly more diverse.

In the 2008 election, five of these six counties voted for Obama. This is typical for most urban areas across the country, but it’s less typical for Texas. With the state’s population clearly shifting to urban areas, it does not bode well for GOP prospects. If the trends hold, the GOP may have already lost Texas’ major cities… for good. 2008 was also the first time in Texas history that more than 3 million votes were cast for a Democratic candidate. That’s an increase of almost 700,000 Democrats from the 2004 election, and the most significant increase among the Democratic electorate in Texas. It’s just an example of the massive potential there is to be harnassed in Texas.

So is anyone surprised by the growing efforts to purge Texas voters? These actions have been unprecedented in states like Florida and Pennsylvania this year, but Texas takes the cake. The Houston Chronicle reports that 1.5 million residents are in danger of losing their voting rights unless they provide additional documentation to the state to prove that they are legal Texans. Interesting that the state of Texas, already having cut 5 billion dollars from a very needy public education system, somehow finds the funding to ensure that its voters are who they say they are by shifting the burden of proof to them. Oh, and costing the taxpayers more money in postage, records checks and verification time.

Even beyond the natural demographic shifts, let’s not forget that Republicans continue to alienate potential voters thanks to social issues… especially on immigration reform, and GLBT equality. Rather than try to be leaders and recognize the shifts within our country, the GOP has decided to “double down” on backward policies like DOMA, self-deportation and being firmly against the DREAM Act. With anemic growth prospects among it’s own ranks, Republicans have now been forced to court and legitamize the Religious Right as their only hope of beating Obama and the Democrats. Think about it… if Mitt Romney were HALF the respectful politician that John McCain were, would he really need to continue to engage Donald Trump? 2010 was the year that this painful coalition between extremists and Republicans formed, and thanks to Mitt Romney, they have now walked the plank. If changes aren’t made within the party soon, the only GOP signs we’ll be seeing will be in History books.

Disappointing Jobs Numbers: For once, Reince is right

Well there you have it folks. For the first time in many months, the US unemployment rate has climbed up to 8.2%. The net gain of the US economy was a measly 69,000 jobs during May. April’s job numbers were also revised downward. UGH.

For once, I have to agree with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus… No sense in demonizing the guy when he’s correct…

I couldn’t have said it better myself. A plurality of Obama’s jobs policies “simply are not working.” Funny thing about jobs policies though… they require a little something called ACTION, preferably by the Congress. The President can make plans, give speeches, and greet workers all he wants, but the true weight of the govenrnment lies in how Congress makes laws and applies financial resources of the United States.

If the Obama policies had been carried out, then we would be investing in our nation. All those bad roads and dangerous freeways that you drive on? President Obama’s policies would hire workers to fix them. Difficulties in our public schools? President Obama’s policies would hire more teachers and support staff to help our kids and make our schools better. Tired of having debit or credit card fraud? President Obama’s policies would empower agencies to protect consumers from an ever-growing crisis of electronic theft. Obama wants to create jobs, and he’s put for initiatives to do so since his first day in office. But Congressional Republicans have cried, whined, screamed and threw temper tantrums to stop his policies in their tracks. Yet now, they’re blaming HIM for the meager Recovery. As Steve Benen so eloquently points out, had the American Jobs Act been passed back in 2011, 1.3 million more people would be employed today. President Obama gave a rousing speech, only to have it killed by Congress. House Speaker John Boehner didn’t even bring the bill up for a vote, and it was filibustered by Senate Republicans.

Just so we’re clear, here’s a reminder of President Obama’s policies…

Mitt Romney loves to talk about “job creators”, it’s really one of his favorite phrases to cite. Though it’s odd to me that he NEVER mentions the nation’s largest job creator: the Government. Tens of millions of people work for federal, state and local government agencies. The government isn’t some evil villian just lurking around the corner to ciphon your money. It’s YOUR schools, YOUR policeman, YOUR firefighters, YOUR roads and bridges… I could go on and on. Yet Republicans have waged a war on the same government that they in fact work for. If they had their way, the government would slice and dice millions of jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, if the Ryan budget is enacted, it would eliminate 4.1 million jobs by 2014. If the current GOP plans go into place, it would be nothing more than economic genocide to our country. Romney’s “solution” to our job woes is to adopt this budget and decimate many American social programs that people depend on today more than ever. One thing is for sure… Democrats continue to lose the messaging war about government employment. If you want more of your friends and neighbors to lose their jobs, that’s what the Ryan budget seeks to do.

It’s easy for the GOP to talk tough when it comes to the economy, but they continue to flee from the truth of the matter. But on this tweet, Mr. Priebus and I do agree… Obama’s policies are not workng because they have not been applied. Think about it this way. You may buy a new treadmill and say “I’m going to get in shape.” You buy it, and put it in your room. But how are you going to get in shape if you don’t ever USE it?

The ABCs of the GOP: D is for

Distraction

The careful art of distraction has been a central tenet of the GOP campaign strategy. Modern Democrats aren’t as good at the “slight of hand” techniques, but Republicans have it down to a science. So let’s take a look at some of the more popular political distractions waged by the GOP.

Over the course of the Obama Presidency, this tactic has been used with tremendous success.

Believe it or not, Contraception used to be a widely supported issue among both parties. Many Republicans have been openly supportive of Planned Parenthood and family planning… including George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Richard Nixon, and yes, Ronald Reagan. We all know that Mr. Romney is a far cry from the days when he “sustained and supported” not only Contraception, but ABORTION(like the over-sized font there? Distracting, huh?). It wasn’t controversial at all, and candidates like Rick Santorum have always been considered “fringe” political forces. Mitt Romney was at one time in his life a Centrist, and occasionally he’s forgotten this. When asked about his views on a bill that would limit Contraception funding, this was his answer

“I’m not for that bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and wife—I’m not going there,”

Sounds like a pretty sane thing to say, right? Not anymore, at least by Republican Party standards. The GOP leaders decided that this year, despite decades of voting records to the contrary, Contraception was going to become a mainline distraction. Suddenly people are changing their positions and running to the Right. It leaves voters having to make a choice based on values, and not who would do a better job. They have been willing to sacrifice their own personal opinions or the dynamic views of their 21st century constituents in favor of that all-important directive… DEFEAT OBAMA.

Here’s why we just can’t get rid of Donald Trump. As Lawrence O’Donnell commented on his show, Trump is being used by Romney and the GOP to do the party’s “dirty work”. After all of the talk of birtherism in 2008, the GOP has revived it to be a distraction in 2012, knowing full well that Americans who voted for Obama last time think the whole thing is ridiculous. But the GOP needs racist and suspicious voters to stay on their side and be active. So instead of engaging on our nations most important issues, they continue to divide and distract by questioning the President’s legitimacy. Of course Mitt Romney’s father ran for President in the 60s and he was born in Mexico. Maybe Mr. Romney would like to explain why he thinks his father should have been President.

Wait, sorry, how did I drift over into that? What were we talking about again??

Perhaps the most controversial of distraction politics is the debt-ceiling debate… you remember right? The one where the GOP held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage unless Democrats agreed to near Draconian government cuts. It seemed ludicrous at the time, but the GOP fought hard and got much more of what they wanted than Democrats. Now this debate was and will be a distraction on a grand scale, but it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the American people. It’s actually about a debate within the Republican party itself. 20 years ago, there were too many level-headed people in Washington to be able to do something like this. Remember that most of the contention over the debt-ceiling in the final hours was between House Republicans. Boehner actually brought the bill up for several votes, only to have it fail by his own Caucus. When you have defeats on that large scale, it’s understandable that the party would rather wage massive distractions so that voters spend more time looking at the President’s faults, and maybe, hopefully forget how much of a mess the GOP has become.

But of course all of these distractions are much more than just insults lodged via Twitter or the latest fodder for Fox News. They are occurring among the 536 most powerful people in our country. If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, millions of people will lose money, some people will lose their job, and endangered seniors will have even harder choices to make as they near retirement. When you’re a nationally elected official, even the distractions could have major consequences. And in the case of the GOP, that is their intention. The debt ceiling distraction was designed to make our government operate at a continuous crisis point in order to weaken Obama’s ability to govern. It is MUCH more than ideological disagreements at play here. What the Republicans want us to believe is that the Democrats are unreasonable, but in reality they are the ones holding the government gun to our heads. Brilliant political strategist Dick Morris designed this playbook. He has experience on both sides of the political aisle, and back in 2011 he calculated the results of these fights with distinct accuracy. BTW, the BEST thing Liberals can do for themselves? Watch Newsmax TV…

There you have it… the exact motivations behind the debt-ceiling debacle, and why we’re about to fight it again. BRILLIANT.

So why do they even need all of these distractions in the first place? Do they really hate President Obama as much as they say they do??

The answer is coming up with letter “E”

College too expensive? Mitt Romney says Shop Arond

Mitt Romney told me, “you betta shop around”

So let’s just forget for a minute that Mr. Romney’s father was already the Governor of Michigan by the time he went Stanford for his first year of education. Let’s forget that unlike the vast majority of American College attendees, Mr. Romney’s parents had already invested tens of thousands of dollars in his education to attend the prestigious Cranbrook school, even if he earned scholarships to go to college. Let’s forget that Mr. Romney was afforded educational opporunities typical of the 1%. Here’s his answer to one concerned young American on how to pay for college…

Now I’m not trying to say that private schools are a bad thing… They’ve proven to be a great asset to many kids in our country. But for Mitt Romney, it’s only right to infer that he didn’t have the struggles of most of today’s young Americans in worrying about how to pay for College. Even as he admits to cutting state funding of Massachusetts institutions, he’s telling students to “shop around” and not go to colleges they can’t afford. Well sheesh if only it were that simple!!

The truth is, most people can’t afford a college education by just pulling money out of the bank. That’s why it’s an investment. I know this has become a dirty word thanks to the current Bully culture of Washington, but education is still a good investment for our kids and our country. And yes, there’s some adjustments that can and should be made on the end of colleges, but we should be willing to invest in our kids.

Even in this turbulent economic climate, unemployment among college grads is still far lower than those who just completed high school… it’s just 4.2% There’s some issues with underemployment of those grads, but so much of that has to do with baby-boomers who have held on to their jobs because of the economy, a hesitation among employers to hire, uncertainty due to government gridlock. The list goes on. But facts still remain… when the economy gets back to full steam, the FIRST people to land those new positions will be the ones most qualified to take them. That means the graduates.

Are student loans expensive?? Yes, but they’re also worth it. According to the Pew Research Center, a college graduate earns $500k more over their lifetime than someone with just a high school education. In most cases, that allows people to pay back the investment the government made in them for student loans. Even with the difficult economic cloud we’re in today, this fact still holds true. And lest we forget, the workers that have been on the leading edge of the unemployment crisis? Those without college degrees. They have no ability to advance in their field when someone with the same qualifications AND the degree comes along.

So no, Mr. Romney… I do not agree with your plans to slash education spending. It is the wrong direction for America. I suggest that you “shop around” for some better answers.

Pioneer-in-Chief: How Obama opened the door for marriage equality

Well looking back on it, we are now safe to assume that May 9th, 2012 will be a historical mile-marker in the history of GLBT Civil Rights. Sure, President Obama is one man, but he’s also the President. His stance in support of same-sex marriage rights didn’t change any laws, but it has had a firestorm of consequences.

Public Opinion on same-sex marriage was already turning rapidly, but with President Obama’s completed “evolution”, it’s now swung the other way. For the first time in history, a majority of our country now supports same-sex marriage rights. The numbers get even crazier on a state basis. Take Maryland, where Gov. Martin O’Malley and the legislature just legalized gay marriage in March. The new law is facing the ususal opposition though, and a referendum is expected to make the November ballot. But after the President revealed his opinion, opposition among blacks is literally falling off of a cliff. Last month, the black community in Maryland opposed gay marrige by 55%. Now it has swung in the other direction with 57% of black Maryland residents in favor. Almost overnight.

Following fast on the heels of Obama’s announcement, the NAACP has now formally marriage equality, stressing that “Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law.” This doesn’t mean that all black churches agree with the religious institution of homosexual marriage, but they can all agree that all citizens are entitled to civil marriage, and to let churches do as they wish. Thus, opposition to gay marriage has eroded swiftly in the black community. Again it’s not law, but where organizations like the NAACP go, so goes public opinion, and ultimately a change in the law.

And so the tide turns… prominent celebrities like Will Smith and Jay-Z have joined the President’s stance. With each day, support for equality grows, and so grows the confidence within the gay community. Perhaps you see it too.

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.