Category Archives: Politics

2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire

Remember when we said that in 2018, the goal is not to “Get Ready”, but to STAY Ready??

Such is the case with the TLCQ 2018:  The Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire.  This year, we are focusing on the March 6th 2018 Democratic Primary, and depending on those results, may do a second cycle for the General Election.

 

1. What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

2. Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

3. As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

4. If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

5. In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

6. Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

7.  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

8. What makes you the best candidate for this office?

9. When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

 

And there you have it… the questions for TLCQ 2018.

Happy New Year! But…

Are you READY?

Recently, I had the esteemed pleasure of once again appearing on Houston Matters for a special edition of their Good, Bad and Ugly  Hosted by Craig Cohen, fellow panelists Natalie Arceneaux, Joe Holley and myself took part in which we reflected on the many events of the year.  It was a wonderful discussion.

In Case You Missed It you can listen here.

 

Our first realization is one with which you can probably identify.  With so many twists and turns endured in 2017, it almost feels like we’ve been through several years since our last flip of the calendar.  The drama and trauma, whether from Washington, from Austin or elsewhere, has been nearly non-stop.

A big contributor to that is from the many natural disasters.  From earthquakes to hurricanes, fires and historic floods, nature has made itself known to the Americas in 2017.  The local effects of Hurricane Harvey might not always seem apparent at a quick glance, but if you stop and speak to just a few Houstonians, one is quick to realize that we are not yet out of the woods.

Not so for our smaller neighbors like Dickinson, Rockport, Port Arthur and Port Aransas.  Clean-up may be getting done, but that’s a far cry from economic and financial sustainability.  As Joe Holley says mentioned, much of our towns along the Texas Gulf Coast  depend on a healthy stream of tourists to make a living, and the lack the resources or attention that is placed on a national epicenter like Houston.  As taxpaying Texans and Americans, they are waiting and hoping for help from the government they’ve invested in all of their lives.  As we roll into the New Year, we cannot forget about them.

Which is something of a supreme irony when juxtaposed against United States’ current political climate and those occupying the seats of power.  Even as Trump and the Republicans tried each day to undermine the importance of a Federal Government, mother nature served as a constant reminder that certain needs for the American People can only be addressed when our collective resources are utilized.  At least we hope they’ll be utilized for those affected by disaster next year.

But after months of trying to take away healthcare, then months of trying to, still take away healthcare, the GOP was finally able to inflict some serious damage to the Affordable Care Act, courtesy of the only major piece of legislation they managed to pass.    As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner reports, the damage done in 2017 is just the beginning…

In the wake of the Republican victory on tax reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that his priorities for 2018 will be welfare reform, healthcare, and entitlement reform.

[…]

“I don’t think the health care issue is done,” Ryan said in an interview with the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes. He suggested revisiting the Obamacare issue as early as January. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to go after the root cause—health care inflation and entitlements. Welfare reform is going to be our next lift.”

Though conceding that Trump is opposed to tackling Medicare and Social Security, he said he would continue to push on the issue. “We’re never going to give up on entitlement reform and the things we need to do to get the debt under control,” Ryan said. “With one more reconciliation, I think we have a pretty good shot at getting some of these things done.”

Which, again, for Speaker Ryan is highly ironic.  Lest one forgets, every single member of Congress that is sent to Washington to take these votes is not only paid by the government, but they receive excellent government healthcare, retirement and pension benefits courtesy of us, the American taxpayers.  They write the laws, decide what benefits they want, and we get to pay for them.  Now that’s entitlement if I ever heard the term.

For the rest of us, he’s concerned that there just isn’t enough money in the budget to support such critical needs for Americans.  He and Republicans should be concerned… after all, they are the ones who voted to give away money which could be used to sustain and improve those same programs.  If the Speaker is so concerned about funding for vital programs, maybe he should set an example and be the first in line to donate his salary and his healthcare to the cause.   Don’t take away from others what you can’t seem to do without yourself.

Yet another reason why the upcoming 2018 Elections are going to be so important.  The decisions made by the current Congress and Presidency have already set the American People back, this year offers our a major opportunity to change direction.

So yeah… I know holiday recovery is in full effect.  Please enjoy and celebrate that you have seen 2018.  That is wonderful, and important!!   But this is not the time to ease into the important work that lies ahead.

Happy New Year.  But… Don’t Get Ready.

STAY READY.

 

 

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of December 25th

 

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it as we bring you this weeks’s roundup. From the FINAL week of 2017…

Off the Kuff looked at Democratic filings for State Senate and for races in counties neighboring Harris County.

SocraticGadfly took a look at various regional election filings by both D’s and R’s in Northeast Texas and in the Metroplex, while wondering when and how Joe Straus is going to stay active in GOP politics.

The lingering Russian obsession that has morphed into neo-McCarthyism has PDiddie at Brains and Eggs more than a little perturbed.

Even as the state continues to surge in population and become more concentrated in key cities and suburbs, any politician would be unwise to ignore the voices of rural Texans. Texas Leftist believes that 2018 is the year for Texas Democrats to leave their urban safe zones and reach out across all areas of the state. For those brave enough to run a true, comprehensive statewide campaign, this dedicated community of voters provides a great place to start.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about a great work of public art in Houston called Hubcap In Grass. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Jeff Balke celebrates the end of Christmas commercials on TV.

Better Texas Blog highlights the impact on Texas of a national DREAM Act.

Paradise in Hell steals a look at Roy Moore’s Christmas playlist.

Texas Vox calls for private industry to contribute to Harvey recovery.

The Lunch Tray bemoans the utter failure of “self-regulation” to limit exposure of junk food ads to kids.

G. Elliott Morris recommends the best political books he read this year.

Wired Magazine pens a long and deservedly appreciative profile of Eric Berger, the Space City Weather founder who everyone turned to for information about Harvey.

#GrandOlePriorities: After Massive Tax Giveaway, Budgetless GOP Scrambles On Short-Term Government Funding

The funny thing about our Republican leadership in Congress… for certain things they ALWAYS seem to find time.

After passing “the largest tax cut in our nation’s history”, which don’t forget is also the single largest ballooning of the deficit in our nation’s history from legislation, President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and a bunch of other GOP lawmakers were nothing short of jubilant.  Had they stayed long enough, there would’ve been dancing in the streets.

But for many millions of Americans, there’s no celebration to be had, because their representatives in Congress are not working   for them.  Here’s the story, from Rachel M. Cohen of The Intercept

IT’S BEEN 82 days since Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire. For months legislators have promised the public they would get it done — certainly by end of the year — working on a deal that would reauthorize the program for the next five years, at the cost of $8 billion.

But in a stunning turn of events, the House of Representatives released a continuing appropriations bill Wednesday that would keep the government open and extends CHIP funding only until the end of March, at the extraordinary cost of $2.8 billion. In order to avoid a government shutdown, legislators have until midnight on Friday to fund the government.

In addition to shorting CHIP, the bill also does not grant legal protections to so-called Dreamers, children brought to the United States without documents whose legal status is in jeopardy. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been pressing Republicans to include the DREAM Act as part of the spending measure. Without it, Republicans will need to find the votes to keep the government open on their own.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Pelosi told The Intercept that Democrats are whipping their members to vote against the continuing resolution.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  With Republicans in control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, they’ve went all year and never managed to pass a budget.  Since January 20th of this year, Republicans had plenty of time to take care of these issues, but instead chose to use their time (and OUR taxpayer dollars) to please their super-rich donors.  So as you see and hear all the news clips from their big legislative “win”, keep this in mind…

As they celebrate, kids and families in all 50 states are wondering how many weeks or months they will have healthcare for critical needs through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

As they celebrate, Texans in Gulf Coast communities like Rockport and Port Aransas are still waiting on Trump’s promise to help them rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

As they celebrate, American families of mixed immigrant status continue to live under the threat of being ripped apart by deportation, as comprehensive Immigration Reform now seems like a distant memory, and the Dream Act has barely been mentioned, except by Democrats.

As they celebrate, Americans are forced to walk, bike and drive on an aging infrastructure, wondering how long it will last, and if Trump really intends to keep his promise to rebuild like we’ve never built before.

Nice try TRUMP and Republicans, but the time to pass an actual  BUDGET and not a Continuing Resolution was long ago. A PATHETIC, 3-week CR for the holiday break is unacceptable. If the GOP truly cared about the American People they would have put our priorities FIRST.

So enjoy the Grand Ole Party, Republicans.  We’ll see if the American People can end it on November 6th.

 

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Part 1: Lessons For Texas Democrats In Alabama’s Big Victory?

In a week filled with fast-moving political news, the Alabama victory of Senator- Elect is still the most fascinating out there.  In his stunning defeat of Republican Roy Moore, Doug Jones became the First Democrat to win a United States Senate election in 25 years.

In an off- off year election, this particular race has dominated the national media, in part because of Roy Moore’s many, many flaws as a candidate, not the least of which is his past filled with allegations of sexual harassment.  But even with that history factored in, the election of Democrat Jones in a state that Donald Trump won by a whopping 28 points just a year earlier indicates that the pendulum may be swinging in the Democrats’ favor for 2018.

Here’s what Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times noticed after the November 2017 elections in New Jersey and Virgina…

RICHMOND, Va. — The American suburbs appear to be in revolt against President Trump after a muscular coalition of college-educated voters and racial and ethnic minorities dealt the Republican Party a thumping rejection on Tuesday and propelled a diverse class of Democrats into office.

From the tax-obsessed suburbs of New York City to high-tech neighborhoods outside Seattle to the sprawling, polyglot developments of Fairfax and Prince William County, Va., voters shunned Republicans up and down the ballot in off-year elections. Leaders in both parties said the elections were an unmistakable alarm bell for Republicans ahead of the 2018 campaign, when the party’s grip on the House of Representatives may hinge on the socially moderate, multiethnic communities near major cities.

And just one month later in Alabama, similar trends seemed to bare out. A diverse coalition of suburban voters in Alabama’s 5 largest counties put Roy Moore over the top, and completely erased Trump’s massive margin of victory from 2016.

Interestingly enough, Texas voters have already shown movement in this direction.  As I’ve written in the past, a big sign post for Texas to ever be considered a Swing State is not only Democrats winning in urban counties, but when they also become competitive in the suburbs.  After years of reliable Republican wins in suburban counties, that streak finally ended in 2016.  Not only was Donald Trump beaten in urban counties like Harris (Houston), Dallas and El Paso, but the suburban county of Fort Bend also went for Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump won the state of Texas by 9 percentage points, the smallest margin of victory for a Republican presidential candidate since the Bill Clinton era, and nearly 6 percentage points below Mitt Romney’s 2012 Texas victory over Barack Obama.  So the lesson here?  As with the rest of the country, 2018 is the year for Texas Democrats to get back into the suburbs, win or lose.  While urban centers are still hugely important, Democrats cannot afford to leave our suburban friends out of the political conversation.

What else was interesting from the Alabama contest?

Stay tuned for Part 2!!  

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DRAFT: Why The Fight For Net Neutrality Has Just Begun

If you’ve been a bit disconnected this week, or if your attention has been drawn to so much else occurring in the news, you can be forgiven for missing out on critical development for the fight for Net Neutrality in the United States.

But before we go there, let’s back up a bit, courtesy of ABC News‘ Lindsey Jacobson…

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs treat all content equally and not give preference to some digital content providers. That means the consumer can load every website, app, video, .gif, etc., equally, regardless of where the content is hosted. For example, an ISP may not charge more for sites that stream movies or promote a specific agenda. This is also referred to as the open internet.

When was the current net neutrality law passed?

After a request from President Obama after public comments, the FCC voted in February 2015 to classify consumer broadband service as a public utility under Title II Order of the 1934 Communications Act. Under that law, the FCC adopted no-blocking, no-throttling and no-paid-prioritization rules, according to the notice of proposed rulemaking released by the FCC. The measure controls how companies provide services to consumers. Under this order, the internet is deemed a common carrier or public utility, so ISPs are regulated. Other public utilities include electricity and phone service companies.

Yes, you read that correctly… the laws which govern Net Neutrality actually pre-date the internet as we know it by over 70 years.  And therein lies the heart of the conflict.  The Obama administration held a fundamental belief that internet access is now as vital a utility as access to telephones (you know, back when telephones only had one function) or electricity.  They set rules, via the Federal Communications Commission, that internet access should be equal and open to all.

As you can imagine, the Trump Administration, Republican Congress and many of his corporate backers feel differently.  Here’s what happened this week, via Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge

Net neutrality is dead — at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.

Today’s vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.

Within hours of the Party-line vote (the 2 Democrats on the FCC voted to uphold the rules, vs. the 3 Republicans), several states announced lawsuits that are to be filed against the Trump administration.

So sure… a ruling by the Trump-era FCC that is clearly misguided, and potentially dangerous for our ability to live our modern lives.  But remember… these are all FCC rules.  If Americans care enough about preserving an open internet, it’s time to take this fight to the ballot box so that the principle of Net Neutrality can become LAW.  Even with The current Presidency in place until 2021, there’s plenty that can be done in state legislatures, and in the courts to put pressure on the White House to change its mind.  But the true test of this fight happens in November.  This should be a question that is put to every candidate running for Congress, and adopted in political party platforms so voters have the power to choose.

So instead of worrying about the FCC’s rules, let’s work to change the law and ensure Net Neutrality will last longer than the next Administration.

 

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Victory Fund Selects Former Mayor Annise Parker As New CEO

It’s a precarious time for all of American Politics, which almost goes without saying in 2017.  But there may be no other segment which feels that precariousness quite like the LGBT community.  From historic highs like the election of Danica Roem, one of the nation’s first openly transgender state legislators, to an empowered push for discriminatory legislation, the year has been a tough one to navigate.

But if any politician knows how to traverse troubled waters, one would certainly consider Houston’s Former Mayor Annise Parker. Which may be part of the reasoning behind today’s big news.  Here’s more from John Wright of OutSmart Magazine

Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker is set to become CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Victory Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based organizations that work to elect and train openly LGBTQ candidates nationwide.

The announcement was made Friday morning, Dec. 8, during the organization’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, when CEO Aisha Moodie-Mills said she is stepping down and that Parker will replace her.

Speaking by phone from the conference, Parker told OutSmart that the move “happened quickly,” after she received a phone call last week.

“I have a passion for this work, and the stars aligned,” she said.

 

Here’s the official press release from the Victory Fund website.

Elected 3 times to lead the nation’s fourth largest city, Annise Parker’s time as Mayor brought more than a fair share of legislative accomplishments, and some controversy.  But as a Red State Democrat and common-sense pragmatist with a long record of working across party lines, Parker brings many qualities which should serve the Victory Fund well in their goal to increase LGBT voices across all levels of government.

Congratulations to Mayor Parker on this exciting new opportunity to impact national politics.  Victory Fund will be a place to watch in the coming years.