Category Archives: United States

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!

As Grammys Take Center Stage, Music Industry Must Also Confront #TimesUp

Billed as ‘Music’s Biggest Night’, the Grammy Awards, the very public face of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, o have become a staple of awards season.  Musicians all over the planet follow the nominees with anticipation, watch the annual event and dream of one day being able to share the Grammy stage, thank the Recording Academy, and take home the gold.

The Grammy Awards also pride themselves on being much more than an award show.  As one of the most prominent representations of the Music Industry, it’s no surprise that the artists and creators within are often committed to be on the leading edge of important social change.  As TMZ reports, this Sunday’s show is no different…

The white rose movement at the Grammys has florists scrambling to fill TONS of orders … the demand is so overwhelming they’ve had to turn away business.

We talked to a bunch of NYC flower shops who tell us they’ve fielded a crazy number of requests for white roses that Grammy attendees plan to wear Sunday at Madison Square Garden. As you know … guests are wearing them to show solidarity with the Time’s Up movement. It’s music’s version of the black gowns at the Golden Globes.

Kelly ClarksonHalseyCyndi and Rita Ora are among the many artists who plan to take part. We’re told Warner Music Group alone ordered 100 white roses for their Grammy festivities.

But in the #TimesUp era, visual statements are truly just the beginning, and they alone fall far short of the systemic change needed in the Music Industry.  Much like Hollywood, the professional world of music is full of gender bias, inequity, prejudice and misogyny.  The world has watched as artist Kesha had to fight for her very career against alleged abuser and long-time music Producer Dr. Luke… just one out of hundreds of tragic stories.  But even in the less extreme, women in the music industry still have far fewer options than their male counterparts.

This may seem shocking to some, as some of the most powerful women in entertainment today– Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele– come from the world of music.  But as lead artists and mega-stars, they are brave, bold exceptions to a tragic rule.

Take the field of Music Production, where female perspectives remain woefully few in 2018.  For a music project, such as an album, a Producer is the equivalent of the Director in a film… they take the songs as written, and do what’s necessary to bring them into fruition.  In the entire 43 year history of The Grammys, a woman has never won for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.  Though music legend Janet Jackson made history in 1990 as the first woman ever nominated for a Producer of the Year award, sadly only 7 other women have been as widely recognized for their Production work… Paula Cole, Sheryl Crow, Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin and Lauren Christy. Yes, in 43 years, only 8 women have been nominated! 

This year’s nominees?? All male.

And that’s not for a lack of trying.  Industry powerhouses like Madonna, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have produced throughout their respective discographies.  Many prominent female artists have copious production work not only for themselves but also other artists, including Missy Elliott and Linda Perry, among the most prolific.  But time and again, these voices are locked out of the production booth, and therefore locked out of an important seat at music’s most powerful table.  In this arena, the non-classical sphere should take an important cue from their counterparts in classical music.

As we all know, misogyny is more than just the locking of doors to deny opportunity, favor or understanding. It also shows up in how those in how those qualities are distributed in a controversy. Speaking of Jackson, most Americans probably remember one of the biggest stories of 2004– the infamous wardrobe malfunction, and massive fallout which occurred from the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show.

In the midst of the firestorm were two artists… Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, both of whom were scheduled to appear at the Grammy Awards. Ms. Jackson, a 5-time Grammy winner multiple nominee and industry icon, was asked not to attend just before the show, while Timberlake not only kept his invitation, but went on to win major awards that night and practically laughed off the situation.  Jackson, in the midst of being lambasted by all corners of the press, also had to endure a cold shoulder from the music industry’s signature organization.

The Grammys have yet to apologize to Ms. Jackson, and she has not attended the awards show since that time.

Over the last year, a tectonic shift has begun in the very structure of American society. As we move away from the ‘default settings’ of resting power into the mostly male archetype, it’s hugely important that the music community stands up and speaks out on Grammy night. And after the celebration and parties conclude, it will be time to do some real work towards equality and respect.

Time’s Up.

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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Texoblogosphere: Week of January 15th

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks a house of cards built by a hyperactive six-year-old is more stable than Donald Trump as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best shot at getting elected.

SocraticGadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to actually take a political stance.

In a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump’s alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what’s new on Gorilla Channel viewing both run with Ken Silverstein’s Washington Babylon.

Neil at All People Have Value discussed the great Houston Democratic Socialists of America endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas communities. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

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

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

Jim Schutze observes that life as we know it has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

The Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster.

Leah Binkovitz ponders the Houston region’s transit future.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Therese Odell reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Leif Reigstad rounds up the Texans we lost last year that we’ll miss the most.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.