Category Archives: United States

Eid Mubarak! Texans Mark The Close of Ramadan

(Originally posted on June 15th, hackers apparently  deleted this post over the weekend. So it is being reposted, with a very slight title change)

The state of Texas is home to a sizeable Muslim population, last officially noted at 422,000 persons during the 2010 Census.  As we approach the next Census, all estimates indicate that the Texas population has grown in significant number, with the majority of Muslim Texans living in the Greater Houston area.

Like Christianity, Judaism or any other of the world’s major religions, Islam is composed of many diverse groups and variations within the religion.  But one major observation that is common for all is the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and religious traditions.  At the conclusion of Ramadan comes one of Islam’s biggest holidays, Eid Al-Fitr.  It is a joyous time where the worldwide community celebrates with family, worship and fellowship.

For Muslim Texans up and down the Gulf Coast, this also marks the first observance of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr since Hurricane Harvey.  Many communities were affected, and some even devastated by the storm.  But just as common was the response of Texans answering the call to help those in need.  As the President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston and former Houston City Council Member M.J. Khan said at the time, helping Houstonians in the wake of Harvey was a “total no-brainer”.   So for a host of reasons, this year’s holiday is special indeed.

U. S. Senate Candidate Beto O’Rourke, still garnering press for the completion of his trip to all 254 of the state’s counties, was also in Houston to mark Eid Festivities  with his fellow Texans.   As expected, Beto and his team live streamed on their way to the event.

To all those who celebrate, Texas Leftist wishes you a most joyous, most blessed Eid Al-Fitr.

Eid Mubarak!

A prominent Mosque in Southwest Houston, one of few in the region flanked by the two small towers, or minarets.  

 

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The FIRST: Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth Gives Birth To Second Daughter

If you take ten seconds, and do a quick Google search of the term “An American Original”, the results that pull up first in some ways quite extraordinary.  Walt Disney was certainly so as a business magnate and visionary.  Few Americans could certainly compare to the genius of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.

In the 21st Century, those true American Original stories continue.  And thankfully for the rest of us, the great people of Illinois have sent a TRUE American Original to Washington in United States Senator Tammy Duckworth.  As if her incredible journey from serving our country in Iraq, to injury in combat as a double amputee, to being elected to the Senate isn’t inspiring enough, Duckworth never seems to be satisfied with her long list of historic accomplishments.  As Daniella Diaz and Sunlen Serfaty of CNN report, this trailblazer is far from done rewriting the rules of Washington or the history books…

(CNN) Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth gave birth to a baby girl Monday, her office announced, the first US senator to do so while in office.

“Bryan, Abigail and I couldn’t be happier to welcome little Maile Pearl as the newest addition to our family and we’re deeply honored that our good friend Senator (Daniel) Akaka was able to bless her name for us — his help in naming both of our daughters means he will always be with us,” Duckworth said in her office’s statement.
Duckworth had her first child in 2014, when she was serving in the House of Representatives.
An aide close to Duckworth told CNN she’s doing well and taking 12 weeks to bond with her new daughter and take care of her family. She’s staying in Washington, DC, for her maternity leave and is available to vote as needed.
When she gave birth to her first daughter, she took her maternity leave at her home in Chicago, but this time she and her and her husband decided that she would give birth in the DC area in case she needs to vote, the aide said.
Akaka — a Democrat from Hawaii who served in Congress for more than three decades — died Friday at age 93. He was also responsible for giving Duckworth’s first daughter, Abigail, her middle name of O’kalani. They worked together on veterans’ issues dating back to when she was a patient at Walter Reed and he asked her to testify before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee when he was chairman.
The juxtaposition of seeing someone like the Senator, who works overtime to do her job, raise her family, and address the needs of her constituents, against the constant circus that is the Trump Administration.  Thankfully for the rest of us, Duckworth herself has been quick to call the President out on his lies and inability to do his job for the American People.  She even gave Donald Trump the nickname Cadet Bone Spurs.
Sure it’s way to early to even consider 2020, at least officially.  But if Democrats want to take back the White House, I hope they’re paying attention to the folks that can truly get that job done, like Senator Tammy Duckworth.
Congratulations to the Senator and her family!!

 

 

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.

TLCQ 2018: Ivan Sanchez

In the Fourteenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Ivan Sanchez,  candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Texas’ 7th Congressional District.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

IS:  Ivan Sanchez

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

IS:  No.  I have never held public office.

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

IS:  The purpose of government is to provide, as best as possible, a system guided by what is in the best interest of the common good.  It must protect and defend the principles of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; wherein, “all men are created equal”, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, “that among these are life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

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

IS:  As a freshman congressman, I realize I will have limited opportunity to directly introduce legislation; however, I will passionately support and advocate for legislation that: (1) acknowledges climate change and the need to control abuse of our ecosystem, including development of renewable energy; (2) is designed to implement a path to citizenship for DREAMers and other (non felony) immigrants; and (3) will provide single payer healthcare.

TL:  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.

IS:  Improving Texas’ infrastructure must be addressed as a two-fold issue—addressing current infrastructure and developing sustainable long-term solutions.  Currently, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is involved in “developing solutions to the problems and challenges facing all modes of transportation.”  This research, along with the work being conducted by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and NASA must be collaborated to maintain an effective and efficient infrastructure as we know it today.  At the same time, these same types of agencies and enterprises must collaborate to create visionary modalities of transportation and infrastructure.  The recent news items regarding the Dallas-Houston bullet train are indication that we are headed in the right direction, but the bullet train must not be the only solution.  Government must step up to partner with industry to develop urban area transportation infrastructure that does not only increase current highway capacity (adding more lanes to a highway is not a sustainable solution), but considers automation and other technologically informed solutions.  There must be paradigm shift from single-vehicle transportation as the mode to mass-transit as the mode.

TL:  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?  

IS:  The rural healthcare issues and concerns are symptomatic of a national healthcare crisis.  Providing affordable healthcare is the goal, which is to-date being compromised by the greed of huge pharmaceutical companies and the skyrocketing cost of providing healthcare.  Shifting the conversation of healthcare as a right, not a privilege implies government intervention in regulating the industry to limit excessive costs of R&D and profit-margins passed along to the consumer (patient).  Addressing the healthcare crisis will inherently benefit the rural healthcare enterprise.

TL:  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.

IS:  What the light bulb was to the 19th century, the internet is to the 21st century.  It is an everyday convenience that touches every aspect of our lives.  We are in an informational era, and the opportunity to utilize all that the internet has to offer must not be limited by corporate giants who seek to profit based on the speed of a person’s connection, or which web pages and services someone wants to access.  I am a strong proponent of net neutrality, who believes the government must ensure the Internet continues to be treated as a utility, and internet providers cannot charge different rates, or favor certain websites over others.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

IS:  I know the struggle.  I came to the U.S. as a child when my mother, seeking asylum from the violence that prevailed in Colombia, wanted to raise her children in a safe environment that would provide opportunity for her and her family.  It took me seven years, since I had to work multiple jobs, to complete a four-year program and earn my bachelor’s degree.  This great land has provided many opportunities and given me much.  I say I am DREAMer with papers, yet because of our democracy I am a candidate for the U.S. Congress.  I am passionate about being part of the solution to bring change to a compromised system, to ensure that our country maintains its edge as the greatest country on earth and continues to be the land of opportunity for all.  My passion is supported by my youth, providing an unparalleled level of energy and fresh perspective, and a contemporary of the next great generation.  And, despite my youth, I have had the great fortune to work as a senior liaison in a congressperson’s office.  I have developed a network of federal agency leaders, working to solve issues related to such areas as Social Security, immigration, and homeland security.  I am familiar with and comfortable to move throughout the bureaucracy, and challenge the status quo as needed.

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

IS:  I am committed to my family, most especially any opportunity to visit with my toddler niece.  My girlfriend and I enjoy evenings alone or among friends, enjoying fellowship.  I am energized being around people, and any chance I have to celebrate life is my greatest joy.

 

Thanks to Mr. Sanchez for the responses.

 

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

Black Panther Sets New Agenda For Hollywood

History hidden from me
To hide my identity
So I’d never feel
I am somebody

You’ve gouged my eyes
I see more clearly
You’ve tried to rob
My humanity

My spirit you tried to break
My soul you tried to take
There’s no need to be afraid
Cause I won’t do unto you now

These lyrics, taken from Janet Jackson’s iconic 1993 cut New Agenda, are but one instance of what many entertainment pioneers have worked to change for centuries… the severe under-representation (and by default, dehumanization) of people of color in Entertainment.  An yes, while much progress has been made in recent years, this weekend’s opening of the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther feels much more like a leap forward than a significant step.

Jamil Smith, writing for Time magazine, shares this excellent rationale…

If you are reading this and you are white, seeing people who look like you in mass media probably isn’t something you think about often. Every day, the culture reflects not only you but nearly infinite versions of you—executives, poets, garbage collectors, soldiers, nurses and so on. The world shows you that your possibilities are boundless. Now, after a brief respite, you again have a President.

Those of us who are not white have considerably more trouble not only finding representation of ourselves in mass media and other arenas of public life, but also finding representation that indicates that our humanity is multi­faceted. Relating to characters onscreen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn’t happen, we are all the poorer for it.

This is one of the many reasons Black Panther is significant. What seems like just another entry in an endless parade of super­hero movies is actually something much bigger. It hasn’t even hit theaters yet and its cultural footprint is already enormous. It’s a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world. Rather than dodge complicated themes about race and identity, the film grapples head-on with the issues affecting modern-day black life. It is also incredibly entertaining, filled with timely comedy, sharply choreographed action and gorgeously lit people of all colors. “You have superhero films that are gritty dramas or action comedies,” director Ryan Coogler tells TIME. But this movie, he says, tackles another important genre: “Superhero films that deal with issues of being of African descent.”

Much like that famed day in 2008 when Barack and Michelle Obama became America’s First Family- Elect, representation is truly at the heart of all the excitement which surrounds Black Panther.  Before this project, the experiences of those in of African heritage had never been explored and celebrated at such a total, multi-dimensional level.  After this weekend, that will never be the case again.

So from this point forward, where does Hollywood go from here?  Will they see potential in marketing to new audiences?  More importantly, will they continue to market more diverse projects as a top priority, full-stop picture like they have done for Black Panther?  As we know from the post- Obama era, everything wasn’t “happily ever after from Election Day 2008.  Even with a bold leap, it is still incredibly possible to take steps backwards.

But even during the missteps, Hollywood will never be the same once people across the world see Black Panther on their movie screens.  And any fears that the film might be a flop seem to be vanishing rather quickly.  After it’s first night of release, the film is already making an historic run at the Box Office, nabbing over 25 million dollars last night alone.

We’ll see what the future holds, but for today, Black Panther is here, with a New Agenda for Hollywood.  As the song says…

Amen
All that we’ve been through
Our time has come to rejoice
A new agenda’s due
Amen
It’s time to know the truth
Our time has come to rejoice
A New Agenda’s due

Rights… Violated

The Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights reads, exactly…

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

One more time…

“A

well REGULATED 

Militia, being

NECESSARY

to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

 

In the everyday tragedies of American gun violence, those that support unabridged gun rights and gun access are quick to sympathize with communities in mourning, but still very committed to their version of the Second Amendment, which somehow always seems to leave out the critical parts, noted in the above.

But those words are a part of the Second Amendment too.  The founding fathers engaged in careful debate about the Second Amendment, and the ending document is a result of that measured debate.  The idea of firearms use needing to be well-regulated, and that arms have certain necessary, but limited purposes is part of the Second Amendment for a reason.

The Declaration of Independence, on the other hand, lists a set of unalienable rights which have proven central to the development of the United States.  It is the access to these rights which have allowed for the advancement of this nation towards the ideals of inclusion and equality for all.  It is access to these rights which made the Bill of Rights  possible…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

As “the Governed” who among us has consented that the right to bear arms is more important than the rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?  And if that hasn’t happened, when will ‘We The People’ recognize our current form of governance has become destructive, and seek to alter and / or abolish it.  Unfettered gun rights, that do not even honor the actual Second Amendment, is not the government that Americans want.  A Congress which works more to appease a minority of rich donors and groups, chief among them the NRA, than it does to make laws to improve OUR rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is not the government that Americans want.

So with that in mind, I’ve started a petition.  It’s time that those elected to represent US actually start doing it.  And if they cannot, it’s time for them to go.

As citizens of the United States of America, we are tired of having our Rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness taken away by those who would seek to abuse the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms.  They are not part of a well regulated militia, and instead of using firearms to protect their home, their property or the nation, they use them to violate the unalienable Rights of other innocents citizens.  This is unacceptable.  
We demand that Congress do its job to protect the Unalienable Rights of Americans.
We demand that Congress put the American People FIRST ahead their reelection campaigns.  
We demand common sense solutions to the horrors of violent, domestic terrorism. 

 

If you agree, please sign via Change.org. 

#LABAA: Let America Be America Again!

#LABAA!!  Let America Be America Again!

How eerily these words ring true today, like the latest Twitter hashtag ready to set the internet ablaze.  But no… these words, nearly 100 years old, ring true in the 21st century due to their prophetic power.

On this February 1st, the starting day of Black History Month and the 116th birthday of famed poet Langston Hughes, here is his intriguing, revolutionary work Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

 

(America never was America to me.)

 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

 

(It never was America to me.)

 

O, let my land be a land where

Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

 

(There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

 

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

 

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek —

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

 

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

 

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean —

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

 

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home —

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

 

The free?

 

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay —

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

 

O, let America be America again —

The land that never has been yet —

And yet must be–the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine — the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME —

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

 

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose —

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

 

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath —

America will be!

 

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain —

All, all the stretch of these great green states —

And make America again!