Gay is Ok… whether you like it or not.

Let’s just say, it’s been a tough year for the Anti-Gay movement in the United States. So far this year, Washington state and Maryland have both joined the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia that officially recognize same sex marriage. Those states represent 50 million Americans… almost one sixth of our country. In just 4 short years since Prop 8 was defeated in California, same-sex marriage is legal and rapidly becoming more common among significant segments of our population.

LEGAL. As in REAL. Real husbands, real wives, real children.

As we recall from last year, a majority of Americans now support legal gay marriage, and try as they may, the Anti-Gay marriage movement is losing traction at every turn. Perhaps one of the toughest jabs at the Anti-Gay movement comes from a shocking reversal of science itself. For many years, it was believed that being gay is a “choice” and that gay people can simply choose to change themselves into straight people. This belief was held together by the work of one respected scientist, Dr. Robert Spitzer. He has now disavowed his study, and even goes so far to offer a full-scale apology to the gay community. What was now a central citation of all Ex-gay therapy, religious evidence, and even argued at the Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act is now no longer a credible study against the equality movement. Shocking indeed.

So the naysayers will have to come to a conclusion that they are WRONG. The future of our country will be one where men marry men, and women marry women. Where homosexual couples raise children, attend soccer games and PTA events, change diapers and do all of the things that heterosexual parents do. As gay marriage and families led by gay couples becomes a normal occurrence in our lives, eventually we are going to have to stand up and let our children know that it is ok to be gay. A gifted young musician named Adair Lion is taking the lead in the rap world (BTW I strongly suggest you check out his music). How can YOU contribute?

Houston’s High Flying Hobby

So just to catch up the populace, one of the hot debates in Houston is over William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Southwest Airlines is offerring the city something of a “sweet action” deal… create 10,000 jobs and make Hobby into an International Airport, while Houston enjoys the benefits of increased revenue and visitors. They’ve promised a $100 million dollar investment up front.
So far, so good, right?? Well it’s good for everyone except United Airlines, who vehemently opposes the deal. They say that it will cost jobs at Bush Intercontinental Airport and will hurt travel times due to additional strain on Customs employees. As one who can attest to this, Customs at IAH is already staffed down to the bitter bone. But frankly, Houstonians all know that there is still no love for United after the takeover of Continental in 2010. We lost thousands of jobs, a Houston Fortune 500 company and one of the best major Airlines in the US. Houstonians are nice people indeed, but on this decision, they have not forgiven, nor forgotten. Even Mayor Annise Parker herself finds no political danger in openly criticizing United as can be evidenced from this recent tweet…

Not to downplay what positives United has brought and will continue to bring to Houston. They honored their promise to make IAH the main hub of the Airline, and our city has certainly benefitted in that process. They have continued be a local “team player” by providing Corporate Sponsorship for organizations from the Houston Grand Opera to our annual Houston Pride Parade. They remain a vital part of the Houston community.

But even the best neighborhood has a couple of Desperate Housewives, right? And they never shy away from a little competition.

And here’s the kicker… Hobby is already an International Airport. It was Houston’s first Airport after all, and is the site of treasured aviation history. Since IAH came along, it’s role has slightly diminished, but is never too far away from the heart of Houston (literally and figuratively). And since we as a city have lost our own hometown Airline, I think the last thing we’d want is to deny a fellow Texas business the opportunity to grow. So in my opinion, it’s time for Hobby to reclaim some of it’s old school prominence, and give Houstonians more travel options at a more competitive price point. Just like the high-flying Astros, this too is Game ON!!

March Jobs Numbers

Drumroll please…

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US unemployment rate for March ticked down to 8.2% with a net gain of 120,000 jobs. Leading the charge with the most prominent growth were manufacturing (+37,000) and leisure and hospitality (+37,000). Healthcare also continued it’s upward march, adding 26,000 jobs. Retail jobs declined by 34,000, mostly due to job layoffs by major retailers.

As has been discussed in an earlier blog post, growth in the manufacturing sector is a targeted initiative of the Obama Administration. This month’s report was by no means a “total knockout” but it show that we continue to move in the right direction.

Obamanomics… Helping or hurting Houston?

So we see the jobs reports on the first Friday of each month, and everyone inhales and holds their breath for just a second. If the unemployment rate goes down, we breathe a sigh of relief. If it ticks up, we wonder what happened.

Over the past few months, the economy has started to pick up steam. Have we had a full recovery yet?? No, of course not. Is there still much to be done? Yes, yes yes. But as we’re in the throws of electomania, I thought it was important to see if any of the recent job growth we are having is sustainable, and how it’s affecting Houston. More specifically, have policies of the Obama administration made any difference for our city?

One of the President’s main economic goals (LONG overshadowed by the bloody healthcare fight, the oil spill, and a bunch of other things) was to get Americans actually making things again. Not only would we make more of our own goods, but actually start to sell those goods to other countries. In the 2010 State of the Union, President Obama set a goal to double US exports by 2014. So far as of 2011 U.S. exports have risen by a whopping 34 percent… well ahead of schedule to meet the original goal. China, in particular, has begun to take notice and buy American goods. According to the US-China Business Council, US exports to China have eclipsed the $100 Billion dollar mark, and it is once again our third largest export market. California is the leading state to export to the rapidly developing nation, but Texas comes in at a surprising 3rd place.

So how does this good news translate to jobs in Houston?? We were already one of the nation’s strongest exporters, but under the Obama administration, export activity in our city has continued to grow, and diversify. Take the Port of Houston, for example. A big expansion of the Panama Canal should be complete by 2014. As a result, shipping volume at the Port of Houston is expected to grow between 20 and 35 percent. it certainly was a wound on Houston pride to lose our beloved Continental to the United merger, but IAH’s new role as the lead hub for the world’s largest airline is quickly elevating our cities statue in the air travel world.

On a landmark trip to Brazil, Houston mayor Annise Parker signed major trade and cooperation deals with the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janerio. As the most rapidly developing economy in Western Hemisphere, these deals could be very lucrative for Houston and Texas’s future. Mayor Parker’s initiative in this respect will surely be remembered as a highlight of her administration.

The groundwork for Parker’s recent trade mission was actually laid by President Obama, as he visited the country last year. Though his trip wasn’t quite as “smooth sailing” as the mayor, this action and similar deals with other emerging markets are sound economic maneuvers that will continue to encourage job growth in America. Houston is a significant part of the success of the USA, and under Obama’s Presidency, Houston and Texas will continue to prosper. So the job growth we’re all seeing and feeling?? It’s no bull.

Follow the Texas money– 2012 Presidential Election

Interesting data published by the New York Times includes some staggering sums about how much money is being raised and spent for this year’s Presidential election. We get one vote at the ballot box, but campaign donations are a much different story. Let’s see how Texans have put their money where their mouth is. (Full article here)

Take a look at how Obama and Romney have faired in Texas (as of Feb. 29th)…

West Texas/ Panhandle

Obama- $88,520.00 Romney- $106,150.00

Central Texas

Obama- $323,587.00 Romney- $362,508.00

South/Central Texas (including Austin and San Antonio)

Obama- $1,419,967.00 Romney- $419,208.00

Southeastern Texas (including Houston)

Obama- $1,058,188.00 Romney- $1,998,380.00

Northeastern Texas (including Dallas and Ft. Worth)

Obama- $1,178,927.00 Romney- $960,873.00

Texas Total

Obama- $4,069,189.00 Romney- $3,847,119.00

A few quick things to note…

-53% of Obama’s donations come from donors giving $200 or less. For Romney that’s a mere 12% of the total.

-58% of Romney’s donors gave the maximum of $2500. That means that Romney has far less donors overall, but they give BIG. For Obama only 20% of his donors have given the maximum so far.

-These are official campaign dollars and don’t account for spending by the Obama or Romney SuperPACs.

So far in Texas, advantage Obama, but not by much. Granted the general election hasn’t officially started yet, so we better hold on to our lassos.

And then there was Scott… a Wisconsin Warning

So let’s take a quick trip back to January 2010. The nation was in the throws of a very contentious Healthcare brawl (the Republicans won that btw… Democrats got screwed because they were SPINELESS). Talk of Death Panels and third-world rationing filled the airwaves. The Tea Party was drawing political blood at every chance. The economy was still feeling for a pulse with jobs numbers swinging on either side of Net Zero. Osama bin Laden was still a real, tangible threat to our country, and the Arabic world had not yet capsized. Basically, Americans were seeing the Democrats as a deplorable, dithering bunch that couldn’t accomplish anything.

And then there was Scott… Brown.

Like Helen of Troy, Brown’s election in the supposed Liberal safehouse of Massachusetts launched a thousand ships. By November the Red Wave had brought nearly all to shore by sweeping the House, demolishing the Senate and completely upsizing state legislatures. To put it plainly, in 2010 the GOP got it’s swagger back.

Let’s face folks… Even today President Obama has fallen far short of the hope and change he promised us in the 2008 campaign. His signature achievement hangs in the balance of the Supreme Court. Unemployment remains at an historic high. The signs should be obvious by now. In any other year, there is a strong case to be made for someone who could possibly do better. In any other year, a capable, charasmatic leader could unite and electrify the GOP while giving us a clear, consistent vision of how America moves forward.

And then there was Scott… Walker.

After unparalleled overreach in the state of Wisconsin, the Liberal base and Moderates have joined together to stop the radical right’s takeover. Two GOP Senators have already been recalled. Walker, the Lieutenant Governor and a few more in the Senate are set to face the political guillotine in June. Even as the GOP sets itself for winner-take-all Primaries on Tuesday, don’t be fooled… This state is showing true buyer’s remorse for the delusions of grandeur forced by Governor Walker and his administration.

But don’t take my word for it. Look at the Protests in action.

And of course, Wisconsin is merely part of the story. Radical, devisive measures have been launched by the GOP (or those radical right that claim to be GOP) all across the country. And in each case, Americans have taken to protest in front of their state capitals, city halls and via social media. The so-called “war on women” will probably be cited in the history books as one of the worst political calculations ever made. If you can’t get a measure like Personhood to pass in the Conservative stronghold of Mississippi, then it’s a pretty good warning that those measures should be untouchable across the US.

The 2012 elections are no longer about philosophical difference. Thanks to an unyielding march to social issues and nonsense gender-baiting, Radical-right Republicans have officially overstayed their welcome this year. Let Wisconsin be a warning sign. Even if voters aren’t happy with the Dems, they’re much more likely to choose a party that displays some logic and reason over one that has flown the Cuckoo’s nest.

Texas Health Scare: The Silent Majority

In watching the historic litigation over Health Care this week, many are left to wonder what the Supreme Court’s ruling will be. Three days of vigorous discussions that mostly centered on the Individual Mandate. To be certain there is much more debate ahead before the landmark ruling (full audio and transcript here via NPR).

But there is one constant in the HealthCare battle that no one is talking about… the millions of people in our country that remain uninsured. They can’t go to the Doctor, the Dentist, or anywhere to get regular check-ups and wellness visits, but instead have to wait until a crisis point occurs and be admitted to the ER. No where else is this a greater problem than in the state of Texas, with the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured people… roughly 6.3 million residents.

It should come as no surprise that Texas, having the highest percentage of the uninsured, also has some of the nation’s most dire health care crises. Houston’s Memorial Hermann was named the “Busiest Trauma Center in the US” by ABC in 2009. Sadly since then the situation hasn’t gotten much better. Houston-area ERs are still inundated by an ever-growing number of uninsured patients who have nowhere else to turn. Texas isn’t rushing to help them however… the Governor and lawmakers in Austin continue to put their political principles over the needs of real Texans, and are playing political football with the Federal Government in its attempt to help our state.

One of the most recent stunts affects the Texas Women’s Health Program. Governor Perry and Austin politicians have just recently decided to remove funding from the program if it goes to Planned Parenthood (eventhough this has never been a problem in the past). According to the State Comptroller’s Office, Texas Healthcare costs are skyrocketing faster than any time in history. Between 2005 and 2009, state Healthcare expenditures have grown by 36%. Factors cited for this growth include costs that continue to be driven by an unbridled private market, an increase of Emergency Room use across all sectors (but especially the uninsured and MediCaid patients), and a growing number of specialty tests per patient. It’s clear that Governor Perry doesn’t have the money or the time to play with ANY Healthcare funding. If we turn down funds for TWHP, where do we expect them to come from?

More of the same is at play with the Affordable Care Act. Originally a Conservative idea, the GOP has become so obsessed with defeating President Obama that they have run away from their own previous positions and forced the Supreme Court to argue the semantics of the law. Even Liberals will tell you that “Obamacare” is far from perfect, but it is much better than doing nothing, and waiting until costs and emergencies are far beyond our control. We’ll soon have longer wait times, for more severe issues.

So the question remains… Who is going to drop the politics and stand up for the betterment of all Texans?? Apparently we can’t expect our Governor or the Legislature to do so. Our fate lies only among those 9 justices in the Supreme Court. And even then, Perry will probably find a way to shoot us in the foot for the sake of politics. Great… another ER visit!!

A Voice for the Rest of Texas