Tag Archives: Dallas Morning News

Ashley Smith Makes THE Point About “Bathroom Bill” Debate

So there’s politics, and then there’s policy, both of which can be easily become lightning rods if infused with the right social issues.

For many in the Republican party, such a calculus has been made about many issues today.  They know that for many of their voters, there is either a serious lack of understanding about LGBT issues, or just a blatant attempt to ignore them altogether.  They also know that fearful, long disproven stereotypes are still enough to motivate a large part of their base to go and vote.  It also allows an “easy way out” of actually having to debate substantive issues, or come up with policy solutions.  Basically, inflame the base, keep them scared and they’ll pay attention to the actual job that they’re doing.

Special Session?  Did someone say BATHROOM BILL??

Sadly, it is Transgender Texans that continue to be cast as the political scapegoats of the day.  Who knows how much state leaders like Governor Abbott or Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick actually believe of all the falsehoods they spout, but it is unlikely that they care about that.  As long as their voters stay scared and uninformed, they stay in office.

With all of this in the atmosphere of the Special Session, one brave Texan set out to prove a point at the capitol, with none other than the Governor as her assistant.  Here’s more on that from Kylie Madry of the Dallas Morning News…

A transgender San Antonio woman went to Gov. Greg Abbott’s re-election campaign announcement last week with one mission: to pose for a photo with him.

Ashley Smith, 45, accomplished that and then shared the image on social media with the caption: “How will the Potty Police know I’m transgender if the Governor doesn’t?”

Soon, the post, which Smith said was intended to raise awareness about opposition to a proposed “bathroom ban,” took off and went viral.

[…]

Smith said she hoped the photo helps educate others about the transgender community. “We’re just regular folks,” she said Monday. “We’re teachers, doctors and police officers in the community.”

Her photo with the governor shows “how ridiculous this legislation is and how it can’t be enforced,” Smith said.

 

 

Ridiculous as these Bathroom Bills may be, they can still cause real harm to the Transgender community, and the overall Texas economy. Anyone that has followed similar sagas from other states would know that this is a hugely expensive mistake.

But has that ever stopped Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the past? If Texans ever want to end this cycle, there’s one sure fire way to do it.

Let’s  hope for no results on this movement.  And either way, Democrats need to do all they can to try and make some progress in 2018.

 

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of August 8th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is feeling the Olympic spirit as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is pleased by the changes to voter ID requirements that were agreed to last week.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme, like the US Hispanic Congressional Caucus, is disgusted with the CEO of IBC bank doing business in South Texas while supporting Donald Trump.

Taking into account both real and hypothetical options, SocraticGadfly uses ranked choice voting to explain how he would vote, or like to vote, in this year’s presidential election.

The Green Party‘s presidential nominating convention in Houston kept PDiddie at Brains and Eggs busy most of the week. There’s also a CNN town hall scheduled for next week for the Jill Stein-Ajamu Baraka ticket.

Neil at All People Have Value walked on Houston’s fabulous Airline. Dr. with a sign regarding the need for respect for all people. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Pamela Coloff‘s 2006 story on the UT Tower shooting received a lot of attention on the 50th anniversary of that horrible day.

Better Texas Blog explains how Texas can support kinship caregivers.

Eileen Smith keeps trying to make sense of Donald Trump.

Dan Wallach contemplates election security as national security.

The Texas Living Waters Project argues that desalination could harm Texas’ bays.

Juanita is seeking support for Glen Maxey’s ballot by mail program.

The TSTA Blog sees through the latest school finance “reform” idea.

Last week the 2016 Summer Olympics commenced in Rio, and so far it has been a banner games for Team USA.  Texas Leftist wishes our amazing Texas athletes and all of Team USA good luck and a great competition in Rio.  The Dallas Morning News has a great interactive page tracking Texas athletes and what events for which they compete by day.  Hope y’all bring home the gold!!

Rio Gold

 

Dallas Republican Candidate Reveals GOP Suppression Strategy, Racist Comments

Words matter, especially to candidates during an election.  And sometimes what matters the most are not the promises that the candidate makes to different audiences, but what they’re caught saying when they think no one else is listening.  It made all the difference in 2012, that’s for sure.

For one Republican hopeful up in the Big D, we’re about to find out what his ‘hot mic’ moment does for him. Here’s more on the bombshell from Gromer Jeffers Jr. of the Dallas Morning News

Republican Ron Natinsky hopes residents in a southern Dallas congressional district “spend their food stamp money” on Election Day, instead of voting.

Natinsky, a candidate for Dallas County Judge, made the remark last November during a meeting of the Coppell Republican Club. His comments appear at around the 40:24 mark on the video.

“We don’t want to motivate her voters,” Natinsky said. “What we want them to think is ‘There’s no reason. She doesn’t have an opponent. I don’t need to go to the polls. I’ll go spend my food stamp money at the grocery store, or whatever, you know, on Election Day.’”

[…]

Johnson’s district is made up overwhelmingly of minority voters, and she is the first black lawmaker elected from North Texas. Her district supported the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama at a higher rate than any in the country, Johnson has said.

[…]

Natinsky is running for county judge against incumbent Democrat Clay Jenkins. Since Republicans in Dallas County generally fare better in mid-term elections than contests in presidential election years, the race for county judge could be competitive.

So in his appearance at the Coppell Republican Club, Natinsky urged fellow Republicans not a slate a candidate against Johnson because it would hurt the chances of other Republicans on the ballot.

That’s because Johnson, one of the most influential elected officials in North Texas, is in a heavily Democratic district, where it is virtually impossible for a Republican candidate to win. Natinsky theorizes that if Johnson is unopposed in the general election, she would not mount a serious campaign and base Democrats would not vote.

“We don’t need another five of ten thousand of her people going to the polls,” Natinsky said.

You can also watch the video over at DMN.

There’s no denying that Natinsky’s comments are offensive and racist.  We all know who has talking about when he says “food stamp voters”.

But the even bigger story here?  He revealed that the Texas GOP uses gerrymandering to not only ensure party control in certain races, but to depress overall voter turnout as well.

Basically it works like this… voters pay more attention when there is a contested race, for a variety of reasons.  The two candidates spend more money on TV ads and signs, they knock on more doors and make more phone calls, and of voters get to hear both sides of the issue instead of just one.  As a result, turnout is generally going to be higher in a competitive district because there is more interest in the ballot.  But if the district is not competitive, voters have little reason to wonder about, or influence the results of the race.  That means that voters are more likely to stay home, and not make their voices heard for other races.  If Congresswoman Johnson had an opponent, it would motivate turnout for her race, but many of those same voters would likely support candidates like Clay Jenkins, Leticia Van de Putte and Wendy Davis.

So there you have it.  Ron Natinsky and other Republicans know this for a fact.. if more people voted, Texas would be a competitive state.  If you ever had any doubt about this, go ahead and put it to rest.

And please VOTE.  Let’s use Natinsky’s comments as motivation to make sure that he loses his race.

 

 

Screw the DMN: Vote For Wendy!

For years now, the Dallas Morning News has been a trusted source for news coverage analysis across the state of Texas. The work of their staff reporters is often praised for sound knowledge and journalistic integrity.

The editorial board on the other hand? Well, let’s just say they seem to be suffering from a momentary lapse in judgement. Much to this reader’s surprise, the Dallas Morning News has endorsed Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas.

Or wait a minute, let me be perfectly clear… The Dallas Morning News has endorsed their hope of a “new” Greg Abbott, because the guy they talk about in this piece doesn’t actually exist. And instead of actually comparing the real records of either candidate, they appear to have sided with Abbott because they are afraid of what a Davis win would do to the state’s political climate…

Texas Republicans’ hard-right swing in recent years is troubling. Too many Texans feel alienated by a ruling party that seems indifferent, for example, to the plight of the working poor, the uninsured or youths caught through no fault of their own in immigration limbo.

As governor, Abbott must be a moderating influence and guide a realignment of his party. He has outlined plans that could advance that effort. Where Davis would be likely to encounter ideological battles at every turn, Abbott has the best chance to inspire legislative progress.

Davis has fought valiantly. But for all her progressive promise, and alignment with this newspaper on many issues, Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate her victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington. As much as Texas needs to counterbalance its GOP hard-liners, we fear Davis would only invigorate them.

Interesting argument against Davis there, but they’ve forgotten to mention one thing.  Greg Abbott is FAR from the center of his party on any ideological scale.  While he may have a warm demeanor, envious hairline and camera-friendly smile, he hasn’t shown any indication that he would do the things DMN hopes for.  Given that this endorsement shows that the editorial board is in serious need of some education, who better to accomplish that than Texpatriate blogger and actual University of Texas student Noah M. Horwitz.  Here is an excerpt from his opinion article in The Daily Texan

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has demonstrated time and again that he is not ready for primetime. He has failed at his current job, prioritizing political grandstanding over the real work necessary to be an effective steward of the state. He maintains illogical and extreme political positions on a plethora of issues, namely those of special importance to students. Most importantly, despite feel-good ads and insincere debate performances, Abbott truly shows no signs of moving back toward the middle if elected. Make no mistake: An Abbott administration would be a dream come true for right-wingers. For all these reasons, I simply cannot recommend a vote for the Republican in good faith.

For the past 12 years, Abbott has served as attorney general of Texas. Historically a low-key post, it has been best known in recent years as serving as the main vehicle for going after deadbeat parents delinquent on their child support, as well as representing the state in lawsuits. These suits historically have been unifying exercises where the attorney general seeks justice on behalf of Texans. A major example was when a former officeholder, Dan Morales, secured more than $17 billion in a settlement against big tobacco companies. But ever since the creation of the tea party five years ago, Abbott has appeared content with using the office as his personal soapbox. Filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, Abbott brags about his wasteful litigiousness in office, saying his typical day consists of waking up, suing the president and going home.

Unfortunately, Abbott shows no signs of reforming this lacking governing strategy if elected. Stump speeches, TV ads and debate performances show Abbott’s almost pathological obsession with harping on the perceived failures of President Barack Obama rather than focusing on why people should elect Abbott and not his opponent.

On the issues, Abbott does no better. He opposes a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy,even in cases of rape and incest. He continues to harmfully defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, even after it has been ruled unconstitutional. Recently, he even made the absurd claim that banning same-sex marriage could reduce the number of children born out of wedlock. Such outdated political positions fly in the face of shifting public opinion and should not be supported.

(Check out the full article here, and be sure to also visit Horwitz’s work at Texpatriate)

 

Nor can the DMN editorial board be bothered, apparently, to read their own paper. Had they scrolled back through a few recent articles from their staff, they could a learn lot about Greg Abbott’s actual record of governance. Maybe they would have caught the piece where James Drew exposed Abbott’s merciless crusade in search of non-existent voter fraud, which resulted in an armed police raid of innocent Houstonians… guns, bullet-proof vests, unlawful destruction of property and all… only to drop the charges after decimating the organization’s ability to operate.  Using the police to bully and scare innocent citizens?? I guess that’s inspiring legislative progress, if you’re a mob boss.

And then there are all of the positions where we simply don’t know how far Greg “Boss” Abbott is willing to go.  When he says he is Pro-Life, does that mean that he would try to ban all forms of contraception?  Given his incredibly vague statements on the matter, that is a very open question.   Do Texans really want to elect a Governor that wants to ban all forms of birth control, and severely limit women’s healthcare??

But thankfully in this election, there is a real choice.  Texans don’t need an insider mob boss leading our state… we need a fighter.  And that fighter is Wendy Davis.  Though she may be best known for her 2013 filibuster to protect women’s healthcare, she also filibustered the horrendous 2011 budget cuts to state educational institutions.  At that time, Wendy said real teachers would lose their jobs, real classrooms would be over-burdened and real students would lose valuable time, resources and programs… all of this was proven to be true.

Wendy is also fighting for Texas families across the state with no access to healthcare because state leaders, including Boss Abbott, have refused any form federal healthcare expansion funds. As a result, Texas is losing out on $136 billion dollars that would not only give millions of Texans access to vital healthcare options and help lower the current cost burdens on our hospitals, but fuel.  By sending our federal tax dollars to Washington and refusing to act, we’re funding better healthcare for other states.  Davis knows that  there is a bi-partisan coalition forming in the state that supports doing what is best for all Texans.    As Governor, this is something that she can achieve.

I’m sure that the Dallas Morning News editorial board means well with this endorsement.  But instead of looking at the Greg Abbott that they hope to create, they need to see Greg Abbott for who he really is.  And then they, like you, need to vote for Wendy Davis.  Make no mistake Texas… it’s all on the line for 2014.

Articles like this one today are an important reminder that sometimes just your vote is not enough.  On this Blog Action Day, Texas Leftist is proud to endorse Senator Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas.  If you needed any more convincing, just take another look at the information above.

Wendy really can win this election, but she needs your help to get it done.  Give to the campaign and help elect Wendy Davis as the next Governor of Texas.  Now is the time when your donation dollars and volunteer hours make the most difference for 2014.  Please share this post on social media and help spread the word with the hashtag #GiveToWendy.  To make a donation, click the image below.

Give To Wendy

Texas Faith Communities Respond On Border

Though it’s been a true disappointment to see how Texas’ highest elected officials are handling the situation on the border, it’s good to see that their opinions are not shared by all.  Faith communities across the state are putting politics aside, and galvanizing resources to help with the humanitarian crisis.  Here’s more from the Dallas Morning News

Across North Texas, across political divides and theological differences, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews and others in the local faith community are stepping up with assistance for the children who have crossed the border illegally without a parent. Congregations moved by the plight of the children are finding practical ways to help, even as governments and politicians argue and scramble over solutions.

“It’s a beautiful illustration of loving thy neighbor,” said the Rev. Linda Roby, an associate minister at First Methodist, patting packets of pajamas.

The pastor called the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley in Pharr to channel her congregation’s enthusiasm. With a short list of needs, donations poured in from inside and outside the congregation. A banner was unfurled this week to draw attention to the relief effort: Amo a los Niños. Love the Children, it says.

“This is not a political statement,” said Roby, who regularly runs a missionary trip to Costa Rica, which has also seen an influx of children seeking asylum. “It’s a humanitarian statement.”

Like North Texas, faith communities in Southeast Texas are also finding ways to help distressed families.  Besides basic supplies like food, clothing and shelter, other great needs facing refugee families are a severe backlog to hear immigration court cases, and a lack of legal representation.  To the first issue, the Obama Administration has begun to appoint temporary judges to address the over 350,000 pending cases.  Churches are helping to combat the second need by  hosting immigration law training sessions for attorneys interested in providing voluntary legal services.  One such training will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church Houston on August 9th, so click the link to find out more about it.

For another perspective on the border situation, here’s an excerpt from a special joint letter signed by the Texas United Methodist Bishops.  The letter has been shared in churches across the state…

We do not understand all that these children have experienced in their home countries or in their arduous journey to our borders. We do know that their plight breaks the heart of God. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of the global community. Many come seeking to survive. They all need our compassion and care. At a time of concern about a struggling economy and national security, it is easy to give in to fear and to let that fear, rather than God’s heart, shape our hearts and our response. ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.’ (II Timothy 1:7). As followers of Christ, we have the power and wisdom of God to care for these unaccompanied children.

While the political apparatus has faltered, Texas’ faith communities have taken the lead to care for the distressed on our border.   Hopefully the politicians will do the right things soon enough.

For more information on how you can help in your area, visit the Texas Interfaith Center’s response page.

 

Texas Couple Denied Adoption Of Their Own Biological Kids?!

Most everyone in the United States of America understands the concept of a blended family… A couple gets married, and each member of the couple already has child.  In order to become a more cohesive family, that couple may cross adopt each other’s children.  Given all the legal complexities associated with raising a child, this makes total sense to do with young children.

But apparently in the state of Texas, the basic rights of parenthood are not so simple for the LGBT community.  As one couple in Fort Worth found out, they can even be denied  rights when they are the BIOLOGICAL parents of the children.  Here’s more from LGBTQnation about the tangled web that one judge has woven for this family…

A judge in Texas has denied a same-sex couple’s petition to adopt their month-old twin boys.

Jason Hannah, 36, and Joe Riggs, 33, are the proud fathers of twins Lucas and Ethan, who were born of the same surrogate mother. Each biologically fathered one of the twins, and the boys — who are half-brothers — share an egg donor. One child is biologically Hanna’s, the other is Riggs.’

But neither Hannah nor Riggs, who were married in Washington D.C. last year, are listed as fathers on either of their sons’ birth certificates. They have petitioned to add each of their names to their biological sons’ birth certificates and to cross-adopt, or second-parent adopt, the boys, reports KDFW-TV.

But the judge, who says she “strictly follows the law,” has denied the couple’s adoption request.

Currently, only the surrogate mother — who has no biological relationship to the boys, since embryos were transferred to her — is named on the twins’ birth certificates.

In case you didn’t catch it above, Jason and Joe are the biological fathers of their children… each man fathered a child separately, found a common donor mom, and had a surrogate mother (unrelated to the children) carry them to term.  There are absolutely no disputing the facts in this either, considering that they had a fantastic profile in the Dallas Morning News before the babies were born!!  Yet the court says that not only can the men not cross-adopt, but the ACTUAL fathers of each child cannot be listed on the child’s birth certificate?  Is this even possible??  What would this judge say if a court ruled that he or she didn’t have custody of their biological children?

Whatever the outcome, this case has “United States Supreme Court” written all over it.  Hopefully Jason and Joe decide to appeal this ridiculous ruling.  Yet another example that proves the unending asininity of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban.

 

Minimum Wage Misconceptions

Like most teenagers, I was not only excited to have my first full-time job, but proud to know that I had reached a significant milestone in my life. I didn’t have to rely on my parents for every want and need anymore. By having a job, and making my own money, I was able to contribute (in a very small way) to the household income, even if it was just by asking them for less spending cash directly. The minimum wage was a staggering $5.15 per hour back then, and I thought was really living the life by getting hired at $5.25. A full 10 cents higher!! I’ll never forget going to pick up my first paycheck of thirty-two dollars and fifteen cents. No great sum by any measure, but being my sum it was great to me.

I’ll also never forget the first time I worked the day shift at my job… a Sonic Drive-In in my hometown of Benton, Arkansas. Unlike the boisterous teenagers that ruled the store at night, Sonic’s day crew was very different. Most of them were older women who were at the store all day, working as many hours as they possibly could. I remember times when I would practically beg for extra hours, and asked my manager if I could work on Saturday mornings. She would always say “not unless you’re called in.” When I asked why, and was persistent, she would say “because they need the hours more.”

I didn’t understand it very well back then, but now those situations make a lot more sense. My managers weren’t being mean. They knew that the adult crew’s hours were truly a need, and not just a teenage want. As David Cooper and Dan Essrow of the Economic Policy Institute explain, the experience most Americans had with minimum wage work in their teens does not reflect the reality of those trying to survive on those wages. A full one-third of all persons working for minimum wage are over the age of 40. That means they aren’t just working to earn money for Friday night, but are struggling to support their families and put enough food on the table so that everyone can eat. They are trying to stem the tide of a constant stream of crises… hoping the car will run until payday, praying for their child to not get sick because they can’t afford to go to the doctor, praying that the lights will stay on until the end of the month. What seems to be petty annoyances to most in the middle class are a full-blown catastrophe to those making minimum wage.

No better place to witness these struggles than the Lone Star State. According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas is “king of the crop” for minimum wage earnings. Of the 3.6 million workers making the federal minimum, 452,000 of them are Texans. And though Texas is still one of the cheapest places to live in the United States, it may not be that way for long. The cost of living in cities like Austin has risen rapidly, with the state’s other big metros not far behind. Adding insult to injury is the fact that poor Texans continue to be denied vital assistance with healthcare, thanks to Governor Perry and Attorney General Abbott’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Despite what many say to the contrary, Texas’ working poor are struggling just like those in other states.

As we enter a new year, it’s time for the country to get out of that ‘teen mindset’ on the minimum wage, and start finding the reality around us. Sure, the minimum wage is probably higher than when most of us were in high school. The problem with that? Everything else is too.