Category Archives: United States

MLK’s Dream in 2016

On this 2016 commemoration day for the Reverend Marting Luther King Jr., an assessment of his Dream can be most clearly found in a voice from the past.

The poem Harlem by Langston Hughes…

 

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

Though his writings pre-date King and the American Civil Rights movement by a generation, their message still rings clear into the 21st Century. Much progress has been made, but Americans are now living in a time where the rights that we treasure are slowly slipping away. The only way to stop this is to get involved and work for the rights of all.

#BlackLivesMatter #EveryLifeMatters

image

Is Texas Governor Greg Abbott Working With ISIS?

Is Texas Governor Greg Abbott working with ISIS?

Enquiring minds want to know.

If Liberals had a ‘Fox News equivalent’ media network, this would be a likely question asked during the news cycle this week.  The Governor of our nation’s 2nd most populous and 2nd most diverse state may not say outright that he’s working for ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) directly, but given his recent decision on those fleeing violence caused by the hate group, he may as well be on the payroll.

Here’s the story from Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune

A day after about half of the country’s governors promised to block Syrian refugees from resettling in their states, religious and nonprofit leaders warned those governors that their actions could separate families and cause irreparable damage to public sentiment toward refugees.

“To close the door on resettling Syrian refugees would be nothing less than signing a death warrant for tens of thousands of families fleeing for their lives,” Linda Hartke, president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said during a press call Tuesday. “If ISIS had hoped that their attacks in Paris would provoke the U.S. and its allies in reacting with small-minded panic, some governors are helping them get their wish.”

Following terrorist attacks in Paris that were linked with the Islamic State, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that the state would not allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in Texas. Leaders of refugee resettlement nonprofits argued on Tuesday that the actions of Abbott and governors across the country could create challenges to reuniting families that were separated as they fled their home country or during the refugee screening process, particularly in Texas which has seen some of the highest numbers of Syrian refugees.

[…]

In a letter to President Barack Obama Monday, Abbott said he would direct the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program “to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas.”

“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas,” Abbott wrote.

 As alluded in the above, ISIS leaders are counting on the very Anti-Islmaic, Anti-Syrian attitudes that Governor Abbott is displaying here.  Syria is a country of nearly 23 million people… a few million behind Texas.  Even if the estimated number of ISIS militants across the world is above 200,000, that would still be less than one percent of the population in Syria alone.  And when compared against the world’s population of 1.6 Billion Muslims, the radical beliefs of ISIS compare to any other hate group associated with major world religions.

Even suggesting that ISIS is somehow representative of all Syrians or all Muslims is basically like saying that David Koresh and the Branch Davidians are representative of all Texas Christians. Punishing refugees at the expense of a few bad actors is a painful, false representation used to stoke fear and gain political points at the expense of making our state and nation less safe.  But that is exactly what our state’s top elected official has done.

The effects of such careless politics are long-lasting, especially in today’s world of fast-flowing, information.  At some point, we have to realize that the things we say and do now are connected to our future.  Take one Timothy McVeigh for example, who was so angry at the government for their treatment of Koresh that he killed 168 innocent Americans in the Oklahoma City Bombing. Nobody had to sneak him into the country to do that.

Be assured that everything Abbott suggests is not based in fact.  For starters, he likely has no legal basis to deny refugees entry into the state, unless he’s planning on secession and rapid building of a wall to keep all Americans out.  If anyone has to even wonder about the vetting process for the very few refugees that America would even accept, check out this quick clip from ThinkProgress.  Who’s going to go on a two year waiting list, be subject to extensive background checks, questioning, immense government scrutiny and commit copious financial resources they may not even have just to come to the U.S. and commit a heinous crime?

 

So please Governor, would you please stop helping ISIS to achieve its goals?  If you love Texas, do what’s best for Texas, not what’s best for YOU.

HERO Election Results: Welcome to ‘HATE Town’?

So about last night.  Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle has the formal wrap-up…

Houston voters soundly rejected the city’s embattled equal rights ordinance Tuesday in one of the most heated local political contests in recent memory that drew national scrutiny and sparked months of impassioned back-and-forth about social issues, particularly transgender rights.

The decision leaves Houston the only major city in Texas and one of the few nationwide without some form of a nondiscrimination law. It also marks the third time Houston voters have rejected protections or benefits for gay residents, as they did in 1985 and 2001.

The equal rights ordinance, known by its acronym HERO, would have extended local protections against discrimination to 15 groups, ranging from veterans to pregnant women to gay and transgender residents, with the latter proving the biggest flashpoint for conservative opponents of the law. In recent weeks, the contest played out on a national stage, drawing comments from the White House and top state officials as well as media attention from a slew of top outlets.

Critics pinned their campaign on the controversial claim that the law would allow men dressed as women, including sexual predators, to enter women’s restrooms. Opponents’ most talked-about ad featured a man bursting into a bathroom stall occupied by a young girl as ominous music played in the background.

So that’s what happened.  And here’s what you need to remember, whether you live in Houston, or somewhere else in the United States of America…

Houston , Texas is a city of 2.3 million people.  Of that robust and rapidly growing number, 1 million Houstonians are eligible to vote.

Just over 1/4th of those 1 million Houstonians showed up to vote on the Proposition 1 issue.  15.7 percent of those eligible to vote in Houston rejected HERO, and 10 percent of voters wanted to uphold it.  And getting over 1/4th turnout for an off/off-year election is considered “historically high”.

Voter Apathy folks… the struggle is real.

As was pointed out in an earlier post, even this 25.7 percent doesn’t give the best gauge of what our city actually thinks about HERO, as over half of those showing up were in the 65 or older demographic.  Voters aged 18 to 24 came in at under 2 percent of the electorate, and when combined with those 25 to 34, the two groups were still under 10 percent.   At age 59, Mayor Annise Parker herself isn’t even in the age demographic that basically made this decision.   We saw some things in 2014 that were very similar.

And by the way… many Houstonians in that 65 and up  bracket did support equality, so we definitely don’t want assume the values of everyone.  But the demographic information is important to know.

Far from being “haters”, what we had here were a lot of good-hearted, mostly Senior Citizen folks that saw egregious TV ads and reacted as to them as many would expect.  Given those facts and the very long history of equality measures being defeated when put up for a popular vote, last night’s result seems less of a surprise.

To the titular question… Houston has absolutely NOT turned into ‘Hate Town’.  More like “we’re not ready” town, and “we were the latest forced to endure the embarrassment of an equality popular vote” town.  

Until we figure out how to increase Civic Engagement for Houston, Texas and across the country, we’re going to deal with elections where good ideas and candidates are defeated by misinformation and malice.  So before we battle for a new vote, maybe it’s time to double and triple the education effort.

 

Texas Leftist 2015 Endorsements

Here’s the Full List of Endorsements for the 2015 Houston Municipal Elections.  The Hyperlinks take you to the full-length endorsement page.  For more information on the candidates, check out the Questionnaire Responses, and be sure to also visit Off the Kuff’s 2015 Elections Page.

 

Houston Mayor
Sylvester Turner

Houston City Controller
Chris Brown

Houston City Council
At-Large Races
Position 1: Tom McCasland
Position 2: David Robinson
Position 3: Doug Peterson
Position 4 Amanda Edwards
Position 5: Philippe Nassif

District Races
District A: Brenda Stardig
District B: Jerry Davis
District C: Ellen Cohen
District D: unopposed (Dwight Boykins)
District E: unopposed (Dave Martin)
District F: Richard Nguyen
District G: Greg Travis
District H: Roland Chavez
District I: Robert Gallegos
Distrcit J: Mike Laster
District K: unopposed (Larry Green)

City of Houston Proposition 1:  Y-E-S!!!!
City of Houston Proposition 2:  No endorsement

 

And just to say one more time…

Like Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth, New Orleans, hundreds of other cities and 17 states across the county, all Houstonians deserve to live in a city that does not condone discrimination.  Please vote yes to uphold the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.  Don’t believe the lies!!

Early Voting runs now until October 30th, and Election Day is November 4th.

HUEfest Mural

Photo credit:  Gary Paul Smith from Flickr

 

Reports Rule Death of 12 Year-Old Tamir Rice ‘Objectively Reasonable’

Even as the months drag on, many across the country are still trying to make sense of acts of unspeakable violence committed against American citizens.  Perhaps none of those incidents was more disturbing than the killing of a 12-year old child last November.

But some confounding news out of Cleveland, Ohio today is only serving to further trouble the water.  Here’s the main story from Evelyn Diaz at BET.com

The police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice made headlines last year and incited the anger of the Black Lives Matter movement, but two experts are now reporting that the action was reasonable and justified.

In reports prepared for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, the action taken against Rice, who was holding a pellet gun at the time of his death, has been labeled “objectively reasonable.”

One report concludes, “There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking. However, for all of the reasons discussed herein, I conclude that Officer [Timothy] Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.”

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said a grand jury will decide whether Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, will face charges.

Prior to joining the Cleveland Police Department, Officer Loehmann had been found unfit to serve by a previous law enforcement institution, citing an inability to follow directions, and poor handgun performance.  The reports have already come under heavy criticism for failing to take the officer’s past actions into account.

As we’ve seen in Texas, there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of all Americans.  But these reports serve as a reminder that policing is only one part of a very complicated justice system.  If standards within the law can find a heinous situation such as this one reasonable, then it’s time for Americans to start changing the law.

That doesn’t happen without your V-O-T-E.

Tamir Rice

(photo credit:  The Daily Dot)

Speaker John Boehner Set To Leave Congress

Some huge news this Friday morning out of Washington.  Just one day after Pope Francis I made an historic speech before a Joint Session of Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner has plans to not only relinquish his Speakership, but exit Congress altogether. Here’s the story from Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times…

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, will resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Boehner made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.

The Ohio representative had struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members.

Most recently, Mr. Boehner was trying to craft a solution to keep the government open through the rest of the year, but was under pressure from a growing base of conservatives who told him that they would not vote for a bill that did not defund Planned Parenthood. Several of those members were on a path to remove Mr. Boehner as speaker, though their ability to do so was far from certain.

John Boehner has represented Ohio’s Eighth Congressional District since 1990.

From an interesting statement from one of the Speaker’s spokesmen, it appears that the Fringe Right in Congress was already trying to force him out.

Whether one agrees with Bohener on most issues or not, there’s little doubt that having him in charge of the Republican majority was likely the best possible scenario to avoid a government shutdown. Congress has until September 30th to come up with a fiscal plan that will carry the Federal Government through to the next year.  As we know from past experience, most of the GOP members of Congress love to shutdown the government, and even consider it an accomplishment.  At least, until their constituents show up with pitch forks demanding to receive their hard-earned paychecks.

Hold on to your seats folks.

john boehner

Bernie Sanders and the END of ‘Apologetic Liberalism’

Before you read this post, do me a favor.  Take ten seconds, close your eyes, and listen.

What you hopefully heard was the sound of silence.

Everywhere you look across this country, from the Texas Rio Grande Valley to the shores of the Alaskan coast, a sudden silence has begun to sweep across those on the Left side of the political spectrum.  Yes it’s true… Liberals have stopped apologizing for their views.

Instead, they’ve started listening to Bernie Sanders.  You know… that Presidential candidate that gets less press coverage than more than nearly half of the Republican Presidential field.  The same Presidential candidate that is packing stadia with supporters at virtually every stop of his 50 state campaign.

But hopefully after yesterday’s event, the media will soon start to ‘Feel the Bern’.  As Jessica Taylor of NPR reports, Sanders showed just how far his message can reach.

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders was preaching to a different kind of choir at Liberty University on Monday.

[…]

“I came here today because I believe that it is important for those with different views in our country to engage in civil discourse — not just to shout at each other or make fun of each other,” Sanders began. “It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day. It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us and see where, if possible, we can find common ground and, in other words, to reach out of our zone of comfort.”

[…]

He acknowledged he had many differences with the school’s leaders and most of the student body at the largest Christian university in the country, particularly on abortion and gay marriage, and Sanders was unapologetic for his liberal views on those social issues.

But he spent the bulk of his time trying to find that common ground with the nearly 12,000 students who had gathered for mandatory convocation. He talked about the problems of wealth inequality, the absence of health care and fair wages for the poor and what America’s response should be.

For the foundation of that belief, he looked to the Gospel, quoting Matthew 7:12, commonly known as the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and Prophets.”

Yes… the Jewish Senator Bernie Sanders, on the day of Rosh Hashanah in his faith, quoted from the New Testament of the Bible.

It was from this biblical context that Sanders spoke on poverty, income inequality and the many fallacies surrounding the nation’s disparate minimum wage policies…

Put this in the context of the bible– not me.  We are living in a time when a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension.  And I’m talking about tens of billions of dollars… enough to support their families for thousands of years.  More money than they would ever know what to do with.  

But at that same moment, there are millions of people in our country… who are struggling to feed their families.  They are struggling to put a roof over their heads, and some sleeping out on the streets.  They are struggling to find money to go to the doctor when they are sick.  

Now when we talk about morality… about justice, we have to, in my view, understand that there is no justice when so few have so much, and so many have so little.  

[…]

In my view, there is no justice… when millions of people are working long hours for abysmally-low wages… Working hard, but unable to bring in enough money to adequately feed their kids.  Yet at that same time, fifty-eight percent of all new income generated is going to the top one percent.  You have got to think about the morality of that, the justice of that, and whether or not that is what we want to see in our country.  

Apologies not included.

Call it bravery, or insanity, but once again Bernie Sanders has proven that the truth has resonance across the political spectrum.

And if you’re wondering just how well received his Socialist message was at the Conservative Christian stronghold, let’s turn to Jessie Pounds of the Lynchburg News Advance who was there to gather student reactions…

“I think he did a good job of not offending,” junior Emily Murphy said. “I think he said what he believes in, but he didn’t put us down, so I respected that.”

Keila Overcast, also a junior, said she thought it was appropriate for Sanders to be as up front as he was about his support for abortion rights and gay marriage, but as someone strongly opposed herself, she wished he’d said more to explain why he feels that way.

Michael Leh, a sophomore studying Christian leadership, said he saw himself voting for Sanders if the election came to a matchup between Sanders and businessman and television star Donald Trump.

“Even though I might not agree with him, I respect him the most out of all the candidates right now, the fact that he came here and spoke with us and at the same time was very blunt with us, I really appreciated that,” Leh said.

And thus it is revealed:  the true secret to Bernie Sanders’ continued success.  He states what he believes, respects the other side even when he doesn’t agree with them, and he doesn’t apologize.

It’s been a long time since the United States has witnessed this brand of politics.  But thankfully for us all, Sanders is proving that it not only still has a place, but that people are hungering for it.

Let’s hope this message resonates with other Democratic candidates as well.

Here’s the Full Speech, including an interesting question and answer session, posted on YouTube by the Separation of Corporation and State…  

 

 

If you liked this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation