Category Archives: Politics

Attorney General Sessions Commends Sheriffs for Upholding “Anglo-American Heritage” of Policing

Wait, what???

So we’ve all heard the phrase “assuming the worst” of a person or of a situation.  Given his history of documented, overt racism, it was certainly easy to assume the worst of our nation’s current Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.  After openly using racist slurs, and demonstrating that he cares little for communities of color, Americans would be right to not expect much progress under the law enforcement arm of the Trump Administration.

But then, there are days like today, when Jeff Sessions just gives us a new low all on his own, unprompted.

Here’s what he actually said…

Since our founding, the independent, elected Sheriff has been the People’s Protector who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to the people through the elective process.  The office of Sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American Heritage of Law Enforcement.  We must never eroode this historic office.

And here’s coverage of the same clip via C-SPAN for any doubters.

Please feel free to play the clip again, and seek out multiple networks.  He did indeed say it.  And the sad part about all of this?  He’s completely correct.  Though you don’t have to tell that to communities of color in this country.  Here’s more on that sordid history from Time magazine..

…the U.S. police force is a relatively modern invention, sparked by changing notions of public order, driven in turn by economics and politics, according to Gary Potter, a crime historian at Eastern Kentucky University.

Policing in Colonial America had been very informal, based on a for-profit, privately funded system that employed people part-time. Towns also commonly relied on a “night watch” in which volunteers signed up for a certain day and time, mostly to look out for fellow colonists engaging in prostitution or gambling.


In the South, however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests but on the preservation of the slavery system. Some of the primary policing institutions there were the slave patrols tasked with chasing down runaways and preventing slave revolts, Potter says; the first formal slave patrol had been created in the Carolina colonies in 1704. During the Civil War, the military became the primary form of law enforcement in the South, but during Reconstruction, many local sheriffs functioned in a way analogous to the earlier slave patrols, enforcing segregation and the disenfranchisement of freed slaves.

So when Langston Hughes writes in his famous poem “America was never America to me”, that’s a major part of what he’s trying to capture.  Even in the 21st century, communities of color still have many well-documented reasons to harbor fear against law enforcement agencies, despite the incredibly diligent work of some police to change and evolve this terrible history, and allow all Americans to feel safe in their communities.  The very difficulties and old wounds which Attorney General Sessions seem to be blissfully unaware are the reasons so many American citizens have taken to protest their government in movements like Black Lives Matter, and will continue to do so until citizens are treated equally under the law.

Which clearly ain’t gonna happen as long as Trump and Sessions occupy our nation’s highest law enforcement positions.  Instead, we have to suffer with an Attorney General whom uses his platform to perpetuate our nation’s torrid history of racism and violence, and can’t possibly be of help to the real work of policing in today’s complex society.

Will these folks ever learn??

Sorry Students: US Department of Education Officially REJECTS Transgender Complaints On Restrooms

Oh, how much has changed over the last 13 months.

After historic progress for the LGBT community under the Obama Administration, it seems that our nation’s 45th President, and our Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, are determined to put America’s  students and their real educational concerns on the back burner.

UGH.  Here’s the scoop, from Dominic Holden of BuzzFeed News

The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration’s year-long broadside against LGBT rights.

It’s the first time officials have asserted this position publicly as an interpretation of law. No formal announcement has been made.

For nearly a year, the Trump administration took a less clear stance, with officials saying they were studying the issue. When the Education Department and Justice Department withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017, Trump’s officials said in a memo and court filings that they would “consider the legal issues involved.” Then last June, the Education Department issued another memo saying it was “permissible” for its civil rights division to dismiss a trans student’s restroom case. However, in those statements, officials never cemented their intent to reject all restroom complaints issued by trans students.

For the past three weeks, BuzzFeed News called and emailed Education Department officials attempting to pinpoint the agency’s position.

Finally on Thursday, Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the agency, responded “yes, that’s what the law says” when asked again if the Education Department holds a current position that restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX.

Asked for further explanation on the department’s position, Hill said Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”

This represents a complete and total about face from policies of the Obama Administration, which sought to protect the rights and safety of all students, including the Transgender community.  Here’s an excerpt of a joint memo from the Departments of Justice and Education, dated May 16th, 2016…

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status.  The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.  I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education – and with schools across the country – to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people.”

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.  “This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX.  Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law.  We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow.  And we know that teachers and administrators care deeply about all of their students and want them to succeed in school and life,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Our guidance sends a clear message to transgender students across the country: here in America, you are safe, you are protected and you belong – just as you are.  We look forward to working with school officials to make the promise of equal opportunity a reality for all of our children.”

“Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right,” said Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.  “This guidance answers questions schools have been asking, with a goal to ensure that all students are treated equally consistent with their gender identity.  We look forward to continuing to work with schools and school communities to satisfy Congress’ promise of equality for all.”

Yet more confirmation that the Trump Administration is not only out of step with America’s school system, but that they seem to only care about the needs of certain American students.  Of course, given how much of our tax money is being given out the door to the 1 percent via the massive Tax Cut and Jobs Act, I guess sweeping Transgender Americans under the rug isn’t much of a surprise.

Elections have consequences folks.  And in this case, they are quite shameful.

So PLEASE don’t forget to VOTE in the upcoming March 6th Primary Election, and the November 6th General Election.  The only way to protect our students is to send lawmakers to Washington that care about them, which doesn’t seem to be getting done with the Republican majority.  Texans have a say on decisions like this one in November, as one of the Senators that not only supported Trump, but voted to confirm Betsy Devos, Ted Cruz, is up for reelection.

The first step in reversing tragedies like this one is to LOOSE CRUZ THIS NOVEMBER.

Bargaining CHIP: To Side Step Dreamers, Republicans Hold CHIP Hostage For Government Funding

Wow, they did it.  The Republicans really did it.

The Same Party whose current leader, and President has insulted America’s immigrant communities at every turn…

The Same Party whose Governors, Attorneys General and GOP-dominated State Legislatures sued Former President Obama’s Administration when they tried to provide sensible Deferred Action for young Immigrants and keep families together (remember DAPA, anyone??)…

The Same Party which currently holds the Executive Branch, and majorities in the House and Senate…

Are now hiding behind America’s kids.

No seriously.  What is happening in Washington right now isn’t even pathetic.  They sank below the “pathetic” standard bar a few weeks ago.  It’s just plain shameful now.

They’ll never own up to it, but the Republican leadership in Congress just held out on funding healthcare for America’s kids for months… so they could use it as a ‘bargaining CHIP’ to run around the Dream Act.

This tweet from the Senate Republicans pretty much says it all (with screenshot in case they try to take it down)…


Yep you read that right… trying to re-label their mega-mess as the #SchumerShutdown, and hoping the American People’s attention span is short and pathetic enough to buy it.  But thankfully, the internet doesn’t forget.

The ONLY party that has brought any form of immigration legislation to a vote in the last decade? The Democrat-controlled Senate PASSED an Immigration Reform bill in 2013 (which was then ignored by the Republican-controlled House, led by then Speaker John Boehner). Oh, and thanks Senator Schumer for working hard on this bill when you last had the chance.

And in 2010, the House of Representatives, led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, PASSED the Dream Act (which was quickly filibustered by Republicans in the Senate).

And as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program??  Ironically, during the 8 years that Barack Hussein Obama was President our nation’s youngest citizens and their families never had to worry if their healthcare needs would receive funding from THEIR federal government.  The health of our nation’s kids was not up for debate or political .  And mind you, there ain’t no economic crisis going on right now… the national economy is roaring at an unprecedented (and let’s be honest… borderline scary) clip.  But suddenly, Donald Trump comes to office, and the Republicans play a foolish game of delay and deny for MONTHS, pretending like the American People aren’t going to notice.  Like we forgot that CHIP funding actually ran out on September 30th, and yet Republicans JUST NOW want to freak out about it?

#SchumerShutdown?  Really??

Yeah… I’m done.


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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.





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


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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