The ABCs of the GOP: O is for…

Obligation

One aspect of life that none of us can escape is our sense of obligation. Whether we like it or not, whether we agree or not, there’s just some things that we have to do. Most of us have obligations to our loved ones, to our selves, and of course to our country. And like our individual lives are filled with tasks that are obliged to, so is our government also obliged to keep the country working as best as possible.

But among Washington Republicans, there has been a growing sense of rebellion toward these obligations. As their war on government continues, many have sacrificed their obligations, and even their own principles to try and damage our country. Regardless of one’s core political beliefs, it’s starting to become clear that these obligations simply are not being met. Caught in the crossfire of the GOP’s war on government and fight for it’s party’s survival, the greatest casualty of this war turns out to be the American people.

As Paul Krugman notes from a recent New York Times piece, public investment has ground to a screeching halt at all areas of government. Federal lawmakers continue their ideological battles, which forced state and local governments to go into all-out austerity mode. As a result, we have cut back on all kinds of public employment… teachers, firefighters, police, construction contracts, and everything else that we need to keep our communities going. This is standard stuff that has never been controversial before… until Barack Obama was elected as President. As a result, we as a government (anyone that pays taxes is a PART of the government, by the way) are not meeting the country’s most basic obligations. After the Federal stimulus bill passed (with overwhelming Democratic support), any further attempts by President Obama to meet our national needs where thwarted by Senate Minority filibusters. So eventhough Democrats where “nominally” in power, the GOP was able to starve most of the legislation.

But sometimes is helps to get the laser pointer out and focus. Let’s boil it down to an issue that all of us understand… TRANSPORTATION.

If you’re reading this, and you live in the United States of America, you are our nation’s roads… and wearing them out. Even for those that don’t own a car, and live in places like New York City or San Francisco, you’re still wearing out our nation’s rapidly-declining freeway infrastructure. Every time you buy groceries at the market, everytime you buy virtually anything that you have to consume, you rely on the country’s transportation infrastructure to get those goods to you. Our country simply doesn’t “move” without our roads, railways, airports and seaports. Virtually everything that you purchase wears out our roads, and we as a nation have an obligation to not only maintain them, but improve them. Don’t forget… the US ain’t getting any smaller… we’re at 314 million and counting.

So when a new study by tripnet.org reveals that nearly half of all Texas roads have fallen into major deterioration, it should be a call to arms for people of all political stripes to step up and invest in our nation’s future. There is a reason why infrastructure spending has always been a “given” in Washington… it’s because everyone in the country depends on it to work. And not to mention, investment in America means investment in American JOBS.

Here’s the inherent danger of the upcoming election… for the GOP, this is no longer a purely ideological fight. Real evidence is now beginning to suggest that the Republican party has lost the ability to meet our country’s obligations. They have lost the ability to actually govern.

For evidence of this loss, look no further than a recent article from The American Conservative. Author Daniel McCarthy writes that the current GOP looks less like a viable party and more like a scam. A conservative himself, McCarthy write about the rapid changes that have occurred within the party, and how it has devolved into several branches that center around Religion and fear. These tactics may be useful when trying to control a militia, but they don’t serve well for governing a diverse nation like the United States. They continue to sign pledges saying that their top priorities are to ALWAYS cut taxes, reverse Roe V. Wade, and REPEAL Obamacare. Never a mention of the obligation to legislate on behalf of their contituents. The only thing that many in the GOP care about right now is the ability to advance their agenda.

As we enter the frenzy of the debates, this question for the GOP needs to be answered… if they were to actually achieve their goal of defeating Barack Obama, what then is their new goal? Would Mitt Romney really repeal Obamacare? If the defecit is their so important, will they continue to decimate infrastructure and education spending until it’s too late? Will we ever be able to meet our national obligations again? I’m kind of scared to find out.

Nothin’ but SportsNet: CSN Houston premiere

The old saying goes that “All politics is local”, but the same thing can’t always be said for sports.

The Houston region has had a sordid history of providing a full-range sports coverage channel that is locally-based. Even as Fox Sports Houston is set to close its doors and be re-absorbed into Fox Sports Southwest, there is new reason to be hopeful.

In October Houstonians welcome Comcast SportsNet Houston, a brand new venture that is co-owned by the Houston Rockets, Houston Astros and Comcast Television. Veteran media Blogger Mike McGuff writes the new network will offer “the most comprehensive sports coverage” the Houston area has ever known.

They will broadcast live from a brand-new studio in downtown’s Houston Pavilions. The main broadcast room is visible from street-level, and should allow for some interesting scenes of “fandom” in downtown, or at least a quick way for pedestrians to be on tv. The station premieres to Comcast customers in Texas, Arkansas, Lousiana and Oklahoma. Here is the channel line-up for area markets:

Houston: Comcast Channel 39 and 639, Coastal Link Channel 31 and 131, EnTouch Channel 73 and 473, Phonoscope Channel 35

Shreveport: Comcast Channel 86 and 1688

Little Rock: Comcast Channel 269 and 1687

Negotiations are still pending for DirecTV, Time-Warner Cable (the “majority provider” in the D/FW, Austin and San Antonio markets) and Dish Network customers.

Besides being the new home for the Astros and the Rockets, the network also plans to do expanded coverage of local college teams like Rice and the University of Houston, and a new Texans post-game show. The expansion is impressive, with new shows like Houston SportsNet Central, a Thursday night program devoted entirely to area high school teams, and big promo for the October 10th opening of the Houston Rockets season. Watch out for it!!

(photo from the Houston Pavilions website)

Best Political Ad Ever? WTFU2012

I think this one literally just took the cake!! It ties our frustration with elections to the approaching Holiday season. And, like every movie ever filmed, it stars Samuel L Jackson!! It was done by the Jewish Council on Education and Research, a Pro-Obama Super-PAC.

And yes, the curse words are bleeped.

Houston’s newest Interstate

Houston has always had something of an “optics” problem, at least when it comes to maps. People read statistics about the city, and they read things like “4th largest city in the US” or “largest city in Texas”. But if they pull up a Google Map of the region, it doesn’t appear to be a big city, especially when compared to it’s northern neighbor Dallas-Ft. Worth. Much of this is because Houston has fewer interstates than D/FW, San Antonio, or even Little Rock, Arkansas.

NO, not fewer freeways… fewer interstates.

The D/FW metroplex has seven interstates. 35-East, 35- West, 30, 20, 45, 635 and 820. Up until recently Houston only had three official insterstates… 10, 45 and 610. The other main roads in the city are freeways like State Highway 288 and US Highway 59.

But that optic has now changed forever on our maps. US-59 north of 610 has now been co-designated as Interstate 69. This is only the second step in building the I-69 corridor, which will run all the way from Canada to Mexico, and is expected to be a very important trade route for North America. Unfortunately due to slow action in Congress (even by many Republicans in Congress how have LONG supported the project) and a tough economic climate, the build-out of I-69 is still years to come, but some important work on the corridor has began to pick up pace.

Within the city of Houston, I-69’s impact will be “minimal”… new road signs, and probably more traffic. Many also expect there to be an increased economic impact with the added visibility of having another interstate run through the city. But the long-term effect of this will be huge. Even once US-59 from Mexico to Houston is upgraded, it will allow for easier travel and increased capacity between Mexico and the Gulf Coast. Both the Houston energy sector and the Port will see benefits from the project. I-69 will also provide Houstonians faster car travel to cities like Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit and the East Coast.

For today, I-69 isn’t much more than some road signs, and more prominence on the road atlas. But for Houston, it is plowing the way to a more prosperous future for all. Look out!!

Paul Ryan now “supports” repeal of DADT

In an interview with Alex Saenz of WPTV Miami, GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan was asked directly about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and whether or not he thinks it should be reinstated. Back in 2010, Ryan voted against the repeal of DADT.

When asked if this action should be reversed, here was Ryan’s answer…

Now that it’s done, we should not reverse it. I think that would be a step in the wrong direction because people have already disclosed themselves. So I think this issue is past us, it’s done, and I think we need to move on.”

Very interesting take on the matter. Does this mean that he now agrees with President Obama that the repeal of DADT is a good thing? Good to know that Mr. Ryan does support of of the President’s policies, even if he didn’t have the courage to vote for them in the first place.

But how will the base of his party take this open endorsement of LGBT equality in our nation’s military? We’ll find out soon.

Mitt Romney’s “Hand Up”

From some of his recent comments, it would seem that Mr. Romney isn’t too fond of what he calls “the 47 percent”… the portion of the country that doesn’t pay income taxes. This is a much, much broader group than the GOP candidate makes them out to be, including veterans, Medicare and Social Security recipients. But yes, part of that presumed 47 percent would be families on welfare.

You know… families like the Romneys.

In a fascinating interview from 1962, Mitt Romney’s mother Lenore Romney discusses why her husband George would make a great Governor for the state of Michigan. She lists several reasons, one of which is the fact that George was on “welfare relief” as a young child. After his family fled from Mexico to the United States, our government actually helped the Mormon refugees by establishing a special welfare program for them.

But of course George Romney wasn’t on welfare forever. Like many Americans who fall on hard times, he and his family did not stay complacent. He worked in various fields from carpentry to farming. He also had the advantage of falling in love with LeNore Lafount, whom came from a family of considerable means and political connection. George even followed her to Washington DC after he had tried his hand at college in the West. These are the factors that turned the Romney story from that of welfare to a prominent executive by the time Mitt Romney was born. At its heart, the Romney story is a great American success. But somewhere along the way, Mitt Romney seems to have forgotten that. Hopefully a clip of his mother could remind him…

GOP Congressman Peter King’s “Fact-Free Zone”

On CNN’s Starting Point, GOP Congressman Peter King once again proved that he operates in a “Fact-Free Zone” when it comes to President Obama’s Foriegn Policy record. When pressed by anchor Soledad O’Brien to explain why thought Obama was apologizing for America, he continued to deny his actual speech content. O’Brien stated that FactCheck.org and other independent fact-checkers were all in agreement that Obama has never apologized abroad.

O’Brien: Everyone keeps talking about this ‘Apology Tour’ and apologies from the President…

King: It is

O’Brien: And I’m trying to find the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” in any of those speeches. I have the text of all those speeches in front of me. [It’s in] none of those speeches at all…

King: But Soledad…

O’Brien: And if you go to FactCheck.org, they’ll say the same thing…

King: Right…

O’Brien: They’ve fact-check the whole thing and they say this whole theory of apologies is…

King: I don’t care what fact-check says. I don’t care!

O’Brien Well ok you may not care, but they [are] a fact-checker.

King: But no, what I’m saying is [this]… Any common-sense interpretation of speeches shows the President is apologizing for the American position.

Umm, ok Congressman. But he never acutally said it. To most people, you have to use the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” or else it’s not an apology. Your facts come up as completely FALSE. Yet another Republican talking point… dismantled.

As entertaining as Peter King can be on the political talk show circuit, this interview reveals a systemic problem. If he’s perfectly ok saying that he doesn’t care about facts, then why is he in Congress? American taxpayers pay him a handsome 6-figure salary of over $160,000 per year. He has a top-of-the-line health plan and likely will retire with a pension. And beyond all of that, we pay him to make critical decisions that affect virtually every aspect of American life. What we don’t pay him to do is simply ignore facts and fact-checkers like they don’t exist.

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