Category Archives: Politics

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.

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

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.

 

If you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation.

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!!  

If you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation.

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.

 

If you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation.

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.

 

 

ICYMI: President Trump Also Tossed Out His Infrastructure Council This Week

For someone so “new” to politics, our nation’s 45th President sure seems to know what he’s doing when it comes to creating distractions and burying scandals.  As leader of the modern Republican Party, this is one lesson he’s taken well to heart.

So goes the latest example.  As our nation is consumed by a the racial firestorm set off by a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the President’s response to it, with his other hand Donald Trump is steadily ripping up his overly ambitious agenda, hoping Americans will quickly forget the frequent promises he made on the campaign trail.  Just one day after Trump gave his “big speech” to address our nation’s failing infrastructure, he turns right around and undermines that same agenda.

Here’s more, via Mark Niquette of Bloomberg News

President Donald Trump will not move forward with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The council, which was still being formed, would have advised Trump on his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion upgrading roads, bridges and other public works.

The action follows Trump announcing on Wednesday that he was disbanding two other business advisory councils. Corporate chief executive officers had started to quit the panels in protest over Trump’s remarks that appeared to confer legitimacy on white supremacists following a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.

Our Commander-In-Chief signed an Executive Order on July 19th to establish the Infrastructure Council.  But in true Trump form, he’s now proven that he can’t even Command himself to his own rules.

So how are all of those lofty goals on infrastructure going to be accomplished with no buy in from the Congress, and no advice from the outside world?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Yet another promise we can toss down the Trump Abyss Broken and Ignored Promises.

Wait… how did pop star Katy Perry‘s song go??

Swish Swish Bish— Another one in the Basket. 

 

 

Houston’s Diversity: America Discovering What Locals Already Know

If you live in or frequently visit the city of Houston, then the term “diversity” is surely nothing new.  A stop in virtually any of the city’s major stores, malls or public spaces will quickly reveal a racial/ ethnic mosaic.  Even when Houstonians are segmented in an area of town dominated by one persuasion, they are never too far from others.  This is just the lived experience of those in the city of Houston, Harris County or Fort Bend County.

But to others across the United States, Houston’s Diversity remains something of a secret.  Shrouded by poor representation by our state government, and a disengaged Texas electorate, it’s easy to see why the Houston story is so difficult to grasp for outsiders.  Luckily, jounalists like Brittny Mexia and Gary Coronado of the Los Angeles Times decided to give it a try…

Houston boomed through the mid-20th century, thanks to the oil bonanza, and most of those who came to get rich were white. Large numbers of Vietnamese refugees began arriving in the 1970s, and after an oil collapse in 1982, they were followed by an influx of Latinos driven by cheap housing and employment opportunities. Whites, meanwhile, started drifting out.

The multi-ethnic boom has occurred deep in the heart of a state that has often seemed to regard conservatism, and Texas identity, as an element of religion.

The state’s Republican leadership has helped lead the fight this year not only on sanctuary cities, but to defend President Trump’s order on border security and immigration enforcement. Texas went to court in 2015 to successfully block expanded deportation protections for young “Dreamers” and their parents who brought them here illegally.

Yet demographic experts say the Houston metro area, home to the third-largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country — behind New York and Los Angeles — is a roadmap to what U.S. cities will look like in the coming decades as whites learn to live as minorities in the American heartland.

Census projections have opened a window into the America of 2050, “and it’s Houston today,” said Stephen Klineberg, a sociology professor at Rice University.

“This biracial Southern city dominated by white men throughout all of its history has become, by many measures, the single most ethnically diverse major metropolitan area in the country,” Klineberg said. “Who knew Houston would turn out to be at the forefront of what’s happening across all of America?”

If there’s anyone in the country that knew, it’s Dr. Klineberg, as his Houston Area Survey has meticulously tracked these changes for over 35 years.  The strength of Houston’s diversity has also produced real results in other areas.  As ranked by Expert Market, Houston is currently the Best City for Minority Entrepreneurs in the United States. The rapid ascent of educational institutions like the University of Houston and Texas Southern University has been fueled by the region’s minority population growth.

But the demographics are only a small part of the story.  Even as the area swells with new energy, those folks are not being accurately reflected in state and local government.  Though the 2016 elections saw an increase in overall voter participation and the minority vote, there’s little guarantee of those results being a trend. So even if Houston looks like a city of the future,  many more aspects of the area’s way of life are rooted firmly in the past. Until these minority communities discover the true political power which they hold, they will continue to be underserved, underrepresented and under-appreciated.

As more of America looks to places like Houston to chart a successful path forward, let’s hope they see not only an example of how a big diverse community can live together, but how everyone in those communities can have opportunities for success.