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.

March For Our Lives Houston

The sound was at once unforgettable.  So loud, so HIGH!! If you’ve ever heard the sound of a gaggle of young girls shrieking for their favorite boy band, you’ll get pretty close to what was heard. But take those same screams, and add the weight of purpose, the energy of determination and the urgency of concerns.

Crowd size estimates are in the neighborhood of 15,000 for Downtown Houston alone, which didn’t include numbers from marches in the Heights, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and other areas of Southeast Texas.  But wherever they where, those distinguished sounds were one and the same.  The shrieking sound of a crowd full of teenagers is not something one can easily forget.  And make no mistake about it… the March For  Our Lives in Houston was composed of and led by young people.  In fact, high school students were probably the median age for the crowd, as many younger children were out in full force marching to support their families, elder siblings, and of course, their own rights to go to a safe school.

And if thousands of young people can lead this movement in Houston, Texas, there shouldn’t be any doubt who led these marches across the country.

Sorry NRA TV, but you got this one totally wrong.  If y’all had been there… if you could have heard the yells, the shrieking of that crowd, this wouldn’t even been a question.

In Houston, local politicians like Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo not only attended the March, but at one point the took the front line to show full solidarity with the movement. Mayor Turner also announced the creation of a new Commission to End Gun Violence, which will focus on local research and solutions. So even in Houston, the March For Our Lives movement has already yielded substantive results.

As for what lies ahead for this new movement?  We’ll know soon enough. But as for March 24th, the history for that day has been made loud, clear, and HIGH.

 

The March For Our Lives rally in Downtown Houston, near the office of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  The Senator did not attend any March For Our Lives Events.  

High School Students Hold Inaugural “Day Of Unity” To Promote Civil Discourse

Sometimes words like “historic” just don’t get the job done. But if this weekend’s events weren’t already historic enough to show the capabilities of our nation’s young people with the March For Our Lives events on Saturday, some young Southeast Texans decided to forge yet another new path.

From Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune, here’s the story on today’s event…

BELLAIRE — For several hours Sunday, an auditorium at Bellaire High School played host to an uncommon sight in Texas politics: an organized attempt at unity.

Hosted in part by Texas High School Democrats and Republicans, the Day of Unity that was held here drew two of the state’s most well-known partisans: GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio. And it brought together the Democratic and Republican state party chairmen — Gilberto Hinojosa and James Dickey — for what was billed as their first joint appearance ever.

In describing the need for the event, one of the organizers, Adam Hoffman, a student at Robert M. Beren Academy and chairman of the Texas High School Republicans, said the country’s “being ripped apart from within. Our social fabric is tearing.”

[…]

The Day of Unity also featured appearances by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, who provided a proclamation recognizing the day. On the panel featuring Dickey and Hinojosa, the state’s party chairs, things got chippy on the topic of gerrymandering, through the two reached something of a consensus on polarization being less of a problem when elected officials are closest to their constituents.

Yep, you read that right… the living human known as Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually showed up for this event… in Texas.  An impressive feat if there ever was one.

Oh, sorry… the point of this post was Civil Discourse.  Still working on it, I guess.

In coverage leading up to the event with Houston Matters‘ Joshua Zinn, organizers Adam Hoffman and Alex Kontoyiannis discussed how the goal of the event was to be expressly non-political.  By all measures that goal was a success.  Though the first event occurred in Texas, Hoffman and Kontoyiannis also revealed that the Day of Unity Texas is quite possibly the start of a national movement, as other student leaders from across the country have already expressed interest in hosting similar events.

Austinites Search For Answers Amid Serial Bombing Threats

No matter how different the lives of Texans may be, safety is a concern which all of us share.  We all want to live in safe cities, and not have to be constantly worried about major threats.

But unfortunately for the great citizens of Austin, one bad actor is causing much concern.  Since March 2nd, a serial bomber has put the city on high alert.  And as Alex Samuels of the Texas Tribune reports, the latest attack is creating new cause for alarm…

A fourth bombing in Austin on Sunday night has placed Texas’ capital city even more on edge, with two more people seriously injured and police describing what could be a new method used to set off the most recent explosion.

“We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber,” said Brian Manley, Austin’s interim police chief.

In a press conference Monday morning, Manley said a tripwire mechanism appears to have been used in the most recent blast. That indicates a higher level of sophistication by the bomber than police had previously seen, and also a new level of randomness in the attacks, Manley said.

“What we have seen here is a significant change from what appeared to be three targeted attacks to an attack that could have harmed anyone,” Manley said.

Unlike previous bombings, the trip wire incident also occurred in a different part of town.  So the serial bomber’s reach now extends far beyond the area of South Austin.

On Tuesday morning March 20th, yet another package exploded at a FedEx facility near San Antonio.  As Bill Chappell and Scott Neuman of NPR report, this incident seems to be connected…

A package destined for an address in Austin, Texas, exploded at a FedEx distribution facility near San Antonio early Tuesday morning, reportedly resulting to a slight injury to an employee.

“One person was treated and released at the scene,” the Schertz Police Department says.

The FBI has agents at the site of the explosion, which comes after a string of bombings in Austin. FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee says, “We believe that the explosion is likely connected” to those earlier blasts.

“There is an army of law enforcement folks that are here,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told NPR’s David Greene. “Hundreds of federal agents, multiple federal agencies, hundreds of agents working on this outside of Austin and Texas.”

“Army” is probably not far of a stretch, as experts across the country are working hard to assist and protect the citizens of Austin.  Just yesterday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott allotted nearly $250,000 in emergency funds to help equip Texas law enforcement agencies with the most current bomb detection technology available.  Whoever this domestic terrorist is, and wherever they may be hiding, they can be absolutely sure that a lot of Texans are looking for them.  And with over $115,000 in reward money as incentive for whoever can turn them over to Austin police, It’s only a matter of time before they are found.

 

After Heinous Russian Attack, UK Action Finally Drags Truth Out Of Trump White House

In an era filled with constant streams of misinformation, a coordinated response from the United States government is becoming a rare, precious commodity. Americans can barely keep with who is on the the Trump Administration payroll, much less any definitive policy stances.

But due to a tragic event overseas, the White House has finally seems to have gotten some of the message on Russia’s malicious actions.  As Alex Ward with Vox reports, Britain’s clear messages are shining a light that even Donald Trump’s Administration cannot run from… 

Donald Trump is one of the most Russia-friendly presidents in modern history. But in less than an hour on Thursday, he rebuked Russia harder than he has throughout his entire time in the White House.

[…]

On March 4, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found on an outside bench in Salisbury, England. It turned out they had been poisoned with a highly toxic nerve agent.

Eight days later, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack on the Skripals. When asked about the event later that day, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to directly blame Russia but said that “we offer the fullest condemnation” of the attack.

But on Thursday, the White House issued a joint statement with allies to support Britain’s claim, which said: “The United Kingdom thoroughly briefed its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation.”

Moscow, however, denies it had any hand in the attack.

The sanctions that the US Treasury Department issued on Thursday have a bit more of a backstory. It all goes back to the January 2017 US intelligence community assessment that Russia did meddle in the election, and did so to help Trump win the White House.

 

So there you have it. After months of stalling, dragging their feet on Congressionally-mandated sanctions, and even defending Vladimir Putin, the Trump Administration has finally, officially admitted to some of the misdeeds that American Intelligence officials mentioned all along.

After thousands of documents, and hours of testimony from United States intelligence agencies coming under attack from the Trump Administration, they suddenly turn tail and stand in full solidarity with Theresa May and British Intelligence?

Where is the outrage among Trump supporters? Why does it take the actions of a foreign government to finally convince this White House that Russia is a threat?? This is exhibit A that they (and Fox News, Breitbart, the whole Right Wing média vortex) have been LYING to the American People. Any Trump supporters that have the audacity to be honest with themselves should have cause for concern. Instead of working for the American People, it seems more and more like the Trump Administration, is only working for itself.

Now that we all finally live in a “yes Russia did it” world, let’s sincerely hope that people take into account how many of their politicians have lied to them to protect these misdeeds. They are on record, including the House Intelligence Committee members that decided to just DROP their investigation the day before news of this UK attack broke. In light of the news from the UK, this makes House Republicans look at best like fools incapable of running the country. At worst?? Accomplices to Trump’s misdeeds. And yes… these are the same Republicans that have crowed for DECADES about the importance of National Security and a robust Military Defense, are leaving Americans and our National Security vulnerable to attack because they refuse to discover what methods of attack were used previously.

Whatever daily distractions and news cycle crises occur between now and November, let’s all  hope that voters pay attention to important developments like these, and use them to VOTE accordingly.

Washington is in dire need of some watchdogs. Here’s hoping that Democrats are up for the job.

Texoblogosphere: Week of March12th

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates the winners of last week’s primaries and thanks those who did not win for their dedication as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff gave his post-primary impressions.

Socratic Gadfly has his set of post-primary and pre-runoff thoughts, primarily on the Senate and Governor’s races.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his thoughts on the recent Texas primary with a focus on Harris County.

Stace responds to Dems and media alike regarding Beto’s South Texas performance.

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

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

G. Elliott Morris looked for predictive data in the early voting numbers.

Grits for Breakfast assessed the criminal justice-related primary races of interest.

Paradise in Hell is glad to see the end of Kathaleen Wall’s campaign.

Juanita finds her next job.

Alex Macon bemoans our state’s bad transportation policy.

After Perplexing Attack On Sarah Davis, Have Texas Women Had It With Greg Abbott?

There was a time when some Texans had high hopes for Greg Abbott’s tenure as Governor. (emphasis on the term “some”). The mostly jovial and mild-mannered former Attorney General gave the impression that, perhaps, his administration would bring forth an elevated political discourse which puts the needs of real Texans before inter-partisan bickering and personal vendettas.

Of course… we know how that turned out. Behind the friendly smile lies a politician that really takes that “bully” part of the bully pulpit to heart.

For evidence of this, we need look no further than last year, which found the Governor telling lawmakers that he was “keeping a list” of anyone who opposed his initiatives during the Special Session.

But while Abbott has indeed taken several retaliation measures, one particular lawmaker has received an unprecedented wave of attacks. Here’s more on that from Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle

[Sarah] Davis, a West University Place state representative, lawyer and breast cancer survivor elected in 2010, represents House District 134. She sits on the powerful appropriations committee and chairs the committee on general investigating and ethics. Her power and influence only go so far.

But she’s one of the few moderates who hasn’t given up on Texas politics, who is willing to fight the often-futile battle against motivated, moneyed ideologues who have hijacked the Republican Party.

And for that she has drawn the ire of one of the most powerful, moneyed ideologues of them all: Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor, in a rare move, has come after several moderate Republicans who aren’t inclined to carry his water, but he seems to have reserved a special vintage of vengeance for Davis.

He has not only endorsed Davis’ opponent, Susanna Dokupil, whose chief qualification seems to be that she once worked for Abbott at the attorney general’s office. He has hit the campaign trail for the elusive Dokupil,

‪Not only is HD 134 known as a notorious swing district, but it also has some other unique attributes, like being the home of the world-reknowned  Texas Medical Center, Rice University and some of the most prominent biomedical research centers in the United States. For Governor Abbott to prop up an anti-vaxxer candidate in one of the most Doctor and Medical Professional-heavy electoral districts in the country?? Well…it smacks of either total ignorance or a simple lack of concern for the real issues of Texans in this district. Your guess is as good as mine.

Or perhaps, this fight serves as a proxy for Abbott’s fight against Texas Women. Most will recall that Davis’ record on women’s issues is starkly different than her Republican colleagues. Abbott, on the other hand, has distinguished himself as an ‘anti-woman Governor’ with all deliberate speed. Why else would he veto bi-partisan legislation designed to focus on Women’s Health issues?

Here’s more on that from Sophie Novack of the Texas Observer

Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy in the United States, the highest uninsured rate in the country and an ongoing Zika outbreak that threatens pregnant women. Yet Governor Greg Abbott unilaterally ended a committee that advises the state on women’s health programs.

Abbott on Thursday vetoed a bill with bipartisan support by Senator Borris Miles, D-Houston, that would continue the Women’s Health Advisory Committee past September.

“I am shocked and frustrated by the governor’s veto,” said Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, who wrote the House companion to Miles’ bill. “At no point during the past six months had the governor’s office expressed any concerns to me over the legislation. This absentee style is disgraceful, and it is now jeopardizing the health and safety of women across the state.”

A very confusing decision, especially after the Governor himself highlighted maternal mortality as a focus of the Special Session. If he cared that much about the issue, what sense does it make to scuttle a panel devoted to research and recommendation?

And in case you’re wondering… a co-sponsor of this bill in the Texas House?  Rep. Sarah Davis.

Whatever the Governor’s motivations, one thing has become clear… Texas women are watching.  Abbott’s curious attempts to oust Davis have drawn major headlines across the state and all over the country.  But while he may believe that his efforts will draw far-right Primary voters to support Dokupil, most that actually live in the district are wondering if the attacks will ultimately serve to actually help Davis.  Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest strong turnout for Davis, including some Democrats that voted in the Republican Primary just to support her.  We’ll find out the final outcome with tonight’s Election results.

But one thing is for sure… this race has exposed a palpable weakness for Governor Abbott.  The misguided decision to meddle in this race could ultimately prove more detrimental to his agenda, and his political future than anyone else.

So back to the opening question… Have Texas Women HAD IT with Greg Abbott??  We’ll find out some opening thoughts on that tonight, with more to come in November.

Texaoblogosphere: Week of February 26th

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to get out and vote in the Democratic primary as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff puts the most recent Trump approval numbers for Texas into some context.

SocraticGadfly offers his take on the latest stupidity by former Morning News columnist Rod Dreher.

Stace says let the people vote! This, after DC insider outsiders creep into local races.

Neil at All People Have Value took note of a citizen-improved sign in a Houston neighborhood.

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

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

Transgriot and Ashton Woods presents their lists of endorsed candidates.

Rice University Magazine honors the “crazy uncle” of the MOB, John “Grungy” Gladu.

Space City Weather explains why there are so many thunderstorms in the spring.

Tim McSweeny and Dan Brooks provide an update on the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony that was hit hard by Harvey.

The TSTA Blog calls out State Senators who underfund public education then deny having done so when it is pointed out.

 

And on this final day of Black History Month, we highlight the unique Afro-Latinx experience, and remember that this bold community is still underrepresented in media and society.

 

(feature photo credit:  The Afro-Latinos documentary trailer by Renzo-Devia/ Creador Pictures)