Category Archives: Houston Politics

A test for DOMA in the health care fight??

Of course the main swarm of the newsday is buzzing around the Supreme Court, but soon we’ll be talking about some big moves going on in the lower courts that will set up another Supreme Showdown. According to Chris Geidner at PoliGlot, the Obama Administration has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to fast-track it’s review of a case that alleges the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection clause. This case involves Karen Golinski, who’s wife (married in California) was denied Health Care Coverage because eventhough gay marriage was legal in California at the time, DOMA allowed the insurance company to block her coverage. The Obama administration has called it out and is now pursuing DOMA for discrimination.

Recall that the Obama Administration is no longer defending DOMA… it has already declared the 1994 law unconstitutional. Instead, our tax-payer dollars are being spent by House Republicans on the Bi-Partisan Legal Action Group, or BLAG. Don’t let the “Bi-Partisan” name fool you, this effort is entirely from the GOP, as it was approved by a 3-2 party line vote.

How does this affect the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare?? There is no mention of guaranteed coverage for domestic partners in the ACA (the House version of the Bill had domestic partner protections, but they were scrapped in the Senate version of the Bill). But if the ACA is upheld by the Supreme Court, it could potentially weaken DOMA even further by ending other broad discriminatory practices by health insurance companies. Proving that the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory would cause portions of it to be struck down, or end the law entirely. So as we all watch the showdown over the Individual Mandate, know that another big court fight is ahead… possibly before the General Election.

Zimmerman utters racist remark just before the murder of Trayvon Martin

The saga behind the murder of young Trayvon Martin has shocked and enraged the entire nation. Even more troubling is the fact that under Florida law, the alleged killer George Zimmerman is allowed to walk as a free man. But evidence continues to mount against him. Recently discovered by ABC news, Trayvon was on the phone at the same time Zimmerman placed the 911 call.

In Zimmerman’s conversation, he also utters a racial slur just as he tries to corner Martin. You can hear him whisper it during the call.

Listen very carefully at 2:23… He says “F_____ Coons”. If that doesn’t prove this to be a racial hate crime, I don’t know what else could.

Please for the sake of America’s children, this man needs to be brought to justice.

GOP Primary’s continued attendance problems

From the words of the great Former Congressman Ronald Dellums…
“The Center of American Politics is not static. It’s defined by who shows up.”

I can’t argue with that statement in the slightest, and neither can the GOP. Through all of the hoopla and noise of the Presidential Primaries, the most pervasive sound is actually silence… the unnoticed “elephant” in the room is that the majority of the electorate has yet to weigh in on a single contest. Eventhough it seems that this fight should be winding down, it’s barely even started. Lest we forget, the majority of voters in this country are actually Independents… they don’t claim loyalty to EITHER Political Party. It’s safe to assume that they are in the center of the political spectrum.

In order for one side of the pendulum to tip the scales in their favor, they have to drum up some excitement around their candidate. In essence, they kinda have to BELIEVE in him or her. And thus lies the continued issue of Mitt Romney… nobody believes that he’s going to be President. As we’ve watched vote after vote get cast, what the pundits continue to leave out are two very key factors… GEOGRAPHY and TURNOUT. Both seem to be running away from Romney and any other candidate.
As proof of this, let’s look at the results from the most diverse state in the Primary season thus far… Florida.

Romney beat Newt Gingrich in Florida by an admirable margin of 15%… not a blow-out, but certainly nothing to scoff at. But he did very little to encourage party enthusiasm, as the 2012 primary produced 400,000 fewer voters than its 2008 predecessor. Yes that’s right… 400k. Now mind you that Florida is a growing state. In 4 years there are more Floridians overall, and one would assume more registered voters. Not to mention that there isn’t even a Democratic primary to contend with this year. If the Center is defined by “who shows up”, the Romney faithful are less than impressive.

Far more is revealed when you actually look at the map of where Romney won Florida… major urban centers and their suburbs, and most of the southern counties. Gingrich ruled supreme in the north. If the Romney campaign is relying on urban centers to suddenly turn red in this year’s general election, then they are headed for trouble with a capitol “D”. Urban centers are the DEMOCRATIC strongholds. But even in that case, urban Republicans aren’t in love with Romney either, even if some of them vote his way. Turnout was DOWN in Miami-Dade, Broward and Duvall counties. For all of the money that the Romney campaign raised and SPENT in Florida, they failed at the basic principle of getting their faithful to show at the polls.
Granted, the Florida primaries were held at the very end of January. Surely the GOP is now ready to rally around the presumptive nominee and turnout will increase, right?? Well, umm… not exactly.

Take Oklahoma for example. This state is safely Republican. In fact not a single county went to President Obama in the 2008 General Election. But even the reddest of red states is not enthused for party prospects this year. Turnout for the 2012 Oklahoma primary was down nearly 50,000 from 2008. Again a very large number when you consider the increase in voters and the assumed increase in excitement of having undivided primaries for the GOP. Rick Santorum won, but didn’t excite the typical base voter. Again this is “home plate” for a Red State, but the voting public continues to produce anemic results.

So if you’re watching the 24-hour news coverage and thinking that Democratic prospects are slim-to-none this year, just remember that the Silent Majority of America is still waiting to be called to the stage. Perhaps better advice could come from Nicole Scherzinger… Don’t Hold Your Breath.

Ashby’s Getting High… the price we pay for lax Houston zoning

At long last, we finally have our answer to this most ugly feud. Mayor Parker sent a letter essentially putting the “nail in the coffin” to Southampton’s vehement protests, stating that the city has reached a final settlement with Buckhead development and that Ashby High Rise will get built. After five years of bickering, frivolous lawsuits, 10 rejected city permits, and a host of adult tantrums that could compete for the best reality tv moments on Toddlers and Tiaras, the devlopers have won. And they won by doing what all Houston developers do… abiding by Houston’s laws. Sadly, some of the worst may be yet to come, as the Southampton Civic Club promises to mobilize against Parker and Council Member Ellen Cohen if they don’t get their way.

The big gaping loophole that Southampton residents don’t want to address?? The city of Houston does not have basic, comprehensive zoning laws. Granted there are some city ordinances that have cropped around parking and land size, but there is nothing to actually protect a neighborhood from having a high rise built in the middle of it. The latest attempt at a vote was in 1994, and was overwhelmingly defeated in a low-turnout referendum. Now many argue that there are big advangtages to this… of which the most prominent is affordable housing throughout the city. But then there’s the dirty side of the storm seen through fights like this one. The Ashby High Rise wasn’t just a citizen group in protest, but elevated to become a very ugly stain on Houston’s political history.

Not to be negative towards the citizens of Southampton… in fact I agree with them that the location of this development is terrible, and will add more traffic to cripplingly busy intersection. But instead of spending thousands of dollars to demonize the developers, they missed an opportunity to put zoning on the ballot and let Houstonians decide. Remember the red-light camera debacle? As many complaints as were lodged against the city then, the ballot measure has ensured their removal. Done. END OF STORY. This could have also been the fate of Ashby High Rise, if the residents of Southampton had put 1/4th the energy they did in screaming signs and transferred it to the ballot box. What we have yet to figure out… until the citizens of Houston come together and put comprehensive zoning in place, there will always be another Ashby. And in the end, the developers will win that fight too.

Fox News on Gas Prices– 2008

Part of the beauty of living in Social Media world is that the past can truly live forever. Many on Fox News have been quick to blame the Obama Administration for somehow causing rising gas prices. But back in 2008, as this poignant reminder from Media Matters shows, they were singing a different tune. Some of the commentators even advocate for GOVERNMENT spending on things like Public Transportation, and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Wha-huh?? What a shame that they’ve decided to be so hypocritical now…

Coming Back in 2012

I know I’m not a super-active Blogger. To be frank, I just haven’t had the time to do this as I’d like. But in an election year as critical and devisive as this one, I will be doing some intermittent posts. In blood-red Conservative Texas, it’s important that Liberal voices are heard (and seen). So here I am. Three cheers to Texas Liberals and Moderates in places like Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio and Austin who swim against the current to fight for the rights and protections of ALL Texans, not just the privileged few!!

Set for Battle… What White can learn from Perry

So the race for Texas Governor is finally set… incumbent Rick Perry vs. former Houston mayor Bill White. Most claim that it is Perry’s race to lose. He’s a powerful establishment-Republican that flirst with the fringe Tea Partiers when convenient. And according to Paul Burka’s blog at Texas Monthly, it’s Perry’s race to lose at this point, and much more of an uphill charge for White. Texas (as we know it) is still a staunchly Republican stronghold. But there’s one thing that Texans like much more than party affiliation or even (dare I say it) political ideology. It’s strength. Right now, that’s what hurting Bill White the most… Perry’s getting all of the “strong points” because people simply don’t know enough about him. I’m not talking the city of Houston here… we’re already in White’s corner. But the rest of the state barely knew his name until this primary was over.

So the former Mayor has got to toughen up and be CLEAR with his positions. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s downfall was her lack of clarity. Is she pro-life or pro-choice?? The primary debates exposed grave weaknesses for her on issues that should have been crystal clear. In Texas politics, you earn more salt with a voter that understands your point, even if they disagree with you. Bill White is ahead of the game on this, but there’s still some room to grow.

Secondly, don’t let Texans have a short-term memory. This was Kay Bailey Hutchison’s greatest gift to the White campaign. All of the dirt and shameful cronyism that Perry has amassed as governor is incomprehensible compared to some red ink on the Houston budget or disagreements with Harris County. The Governor’s press power is unmatched, mostly because he always knows exactly what to say, and what to leave out.  Bill White may have to get a little ugly, but voters need to be reminded that Rick Perry’s campaign talk is nothing like his governance.

Finally, White’s campaign must be built from the ground up. Pandering to the Democratic Party establishment simply won’t work in Texas. His ground team has got to be twice as diligent as Perry’s by registering voters and getting the word out about White.

So an uphill battle?? Probably so, but to those of us that are tired of Perry’s antics, it’s certainly worth it for Texas. Let’s see what Mr. White can do.