Thursday, May 31, 2012

Range Resources judge loses primary

Here in Harris County, we have seen what happens when the wealthy try to buy themselves a judge: they win. In Parker County, they take care of business the old-fashioned way: the voters turn him out at the polls.

A Parker County judge who, in the midst of an environmental case, bragged in campaign literature that he had forced the EPA to turn tail lost his Republican primary battle Tuesday.

State District Judge Trey Loftin's next challenge will be to stay on the bench as the case involving gas drilling proceeds.

Steven Lipsky and his wife, Shyla, who sued Range Resources, filed a court motion Tuesday to disqualify or recuse Loftin. The motion says Loftin released campaign mailers urging his re-election on the basis of "rulings he had made against the Lipskys."

The motion further argues that Loftin believed that the outcome of the case would affect his re-election and "thus, the campaign mailers show that Judge Loftin believes that he had a direct financial and personal interest in the outcome of the proceeding, which requires his disqualification."

On Tuesday, he lost to Weatherford attorney Craig Towson, who captured 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns. Towson, who could not be reached for comment, previously said a judge shouldn't "ever comment about a case pending in his court."

Yes, you are correct; I did blog about this last week.

I like it when the wheels of justice grind a little faster than usual. Don't you?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Late last night (and more musings about election results)

-- Glitches push final tally into early morning hours:

There were a few problems coming up with a final tally on Tuesday’s election because of a political party oversight and mostly technical difficulties, pushing the night’s last count to at least 2 a.m. Wednesday.

After a few early-evening hiccups that led to the first results posting 90 minutes after polls closed Tuesday, midnight-hour issues emerged.

First, the Republican primary in precinct 256 had its results stored on a corrupt card, which meant workers had to pull results from another database or, as a last resort, from each e-Ballot station.

An unidentified Democratic precinct had a faulty machine, creating the need to merge results from more machines than planned to arrive at a final total.

Then around 11 p.m., Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart revealed that 1,500 to 2,000 mail ballots that had arrived since Friday still had not been processed.

As well, there’s the possibility that some of the tightest races may turn when ballots from active-duty service members arrive since they have an additional five days past the election for their votes to show up and be counted. Provisional ballots also take a few days to process.

So, there’s a huge asterisk on the Harris County results at this point early Wednesday.

It’s been a rough night.

Yes, and Stan Stanart is an incompetent fool. As you will recall, I observed this process a handful of times during Beverly Kaufman's tenure. She always had EV results posted within one minute of 7 p.m., and she always had enough ballots counted for the local network affiliates to call all but the closest races by their 10 p.m. newscasts.

Unless Stanart fired all the people who used to work for Kaufman (doubtful), the real evidence here is that the brand-new Harris County Clerk doesn't know how to run an election that ran on autopilot in the years before he was elected.

We could have had Ann Harris Bennett in that slot, who in November will challenge the guy who knocked off incumbent Don Sumners last night. Ignore the ramblings of Gadfly Bettencourt in that link.

-- It was a good night for the slate mailers and Super PACs last night. And a bad one for some of Joe Straus' henchmen (aka the 'moderates' in the Texas House).

(E)lection night results brought bad news for some key Straus lieutenants in the Texas House, including Rep. Rob Eissler, R-the Woodlands, chairman of the House Education Committee. Eissler, who lost to challenger Steve Toth, may have suffered from complacency as his campaign latest finance reports showed an unspent balance of $650,000.

In North Texas, Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Irving, another Straus chairman, also fell to a tea party challenger, Giovanni Capriglione. And in East Texas, Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton, another Straus ally paired in a redrawn district with an incumbent, lost to Rep. James White.

All the defeated incumbents were targeted by Empower Texans, a conservative group which spent close to $120,000 trying to defeat Straus by portraying him as too moderate to lead the Texas House. Financed by Midland oilman Tim Dunn, the group was behind the 2011 effort to oust Straus from the Speaker’s office.

There will be more Mucus involved in the Speaker's race in the run-up to January 2013 and the opening day of the Texas Lege, but my early guess is that the Democrats provide Straus enough cover to get re-elected.

-- Ted Cruz wants five debates with David Dewhurst between now and the runoff on July 31. And Paul Sadler wants in on them, too.

First of all, nobody wants to be tortured with a debate every two weeks between these two conservatives. Not even the most hardcore TeaBagger could stand it.

Secondly, Sadler himself only got 35% of the vote in a 4-way race, so his runoff opponent Grady Yarbrough should be included if Sadler gets in. That by itself is a travesty, as the Austin Statesman notes...

Yarbrough is a perennial candidate who has run as a Democrat and a Republican in previous elections.

Yarbrough has barely any online presence, yet he ran second in the Democratic statewide primary for the US Senate. Apparently the Mensas who voted for him thought he was Ralph.

And unless this a one-party red state like Communist China, the debates should include the Green, David Collins, and the Libertarians -- all six of them. (Unless you want to hold off on the debates until they elect one of the six at their state convention, the second week of June.)

-- Lissa Squiers led wire-to-wire, finishing with 40% of the Democratic vote in CD-07. James Cargas trailed with 34, and Phillip Andrews had 24.

The absolute best results of the evening, IMHO.

-- Highs and lows locally: Lane Lewis prevailed but Steven Kirkland did not. Two bright spots in Texas House races: Lon Burnham won, Leo Berman lost.

-- I'm not going to give a damn so hard about the DA race in Harris County it will be profound.

-- These Twitter compilations must stop. If I want to read a Twitter feed, I'll go to Twitter.

More as always from the Godfather.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

EV totals: First impressions

After a delay of nearly one hour past poll closing, the Harris County Clerk managed to post some of the early-vote (EV) tallies from the Texas primary held today, and here's some first impressions of the races I have previously focused on.

-- Paul Sadler appears to be headed to a runoff with one of the two African American candidates in the race for Democratic nominee to the US Senate. Sean Hubbard is trailing in 4th statewide, and fairly badly. On the Repub side, David Dewhurst will be in a runoff with Ted Cruz. There will be blood.

-- In CD-07, Lissa Squiers has a small lead over James Cargas. Phillip Andrews is well back in third. This race will go to a July runoff.

-- In the contest for 215th District Court, Judge Steven Kirkland is losing by a 2-1 margin to the libelous Elaine Palmer.

-- The voters of Harris County weren't fooled by Keryl Douglas, however; she is losing to Lane Lewis for Democratic Party County Chair by a margin of about 55-45.

In other races of note...

-- In the GOP race for Harris Co. District Attorney, Judge Mike Anderson is trouncing incumbent Pat Lykos. And on the Democratic side, buffoon Lloyd Oliver leads Zach Fertitta.

-- Harris County tax assessor/collector TeaBaggin' Don Sumners is getting turned out by the Republicans in his race against Mike Sullivan, also by a 2-1 margin.

-- Supreme Court Justice David Medina is leading in his 3-way primary battle, but with just 39%.

-- Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, Beto O'Rourke leads incumbent Congressman Silvestre Reyes in the Dem primary. A true upset in the making.

-- At the HouChron's live-blog, the odious Texas Sparkle reports that several Republican Texas House committee chairs are losing their races: Tuffy Hamilton, Vickie Truitt, Sid Miller, Chuck Hopson, and Rob Eissler. 

-- All three state referenda on the Democratic ballot are passing handily; casino gambling by the smallest margin at 73%.

-- Romney has clinched, Obama appears to be avoiding a primary embarrassment.

Again, these are mostly EV totals only; as of 9 p.m. the Harris County Clerk's office has barely counted any votes cast today. Having worked this beat previously, I can say this has all the earmarks of a major malfunction.

We'll find if I am right or wrong about that in a few days. You can go follow the results on into the night elsewhere; I have a big day tomorrow and won't be back here until early in the morning.

Update: I should have guessed. Clerk Stanart blames the Democrats for the "technical difficulties".

What a POS.

Election Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance says "on to the runoffs!" as it brings you this holiday week and election day roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the latest strange poll results from UT and the Texas Trib.

This week WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the continuing right-wing assault on public education in Texas.

The endorsement of the three previous Democrats who lost to John Culberson is hardly a worthy vote of confidence, but that didn't deter one candidate in CD-07, who went on to suggest that he would win the November contest by 51.3%. That spin, however, was topped by his estimate of 73% of fewer than one hundred people in a straw poll at a barbecue suggesting "overwhelming" support. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reminds you that if a Congressional candidate exaggerates this wildly in May, he just doesn't deserve to be on the ballot in November.

Lightseeker explores what the triumph of Republican fear mongering and pandering means to our poitical futures here in Texas and throughout the nation. Check out Sobering Thoughts on Our Political Future over at TexasKaos.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme applauds the efforts of AACT Now in getting out the vote. Please continue through November.

Ten things you should know about the demographics of Texas

Via Vanessa Cardenas and Angela Maria Kelley at the Center for American Progress (and provided to me via Facebook by Mini Timmaraju, who will be speaking at the TDP's state convention in Houston in a couple of weeks). Republished here in whole.


1. Communities of color are driving population growth in Texas. Texas is one of five states in the country where people of color make up the majority of the population. Between 2000 and 2009 Hispanic population growth accounted for 63.1 percent of all growth in the state. Texas’s black and Asian populations — 2.8 million people and 850,000 people, respectively — were the third largest in the country in 2010.

2. The majority of children in Texas are children of color. For children under age 5 in the state, children of color outnumbered non-Hispanic white children 2.2-to-1 in 2011. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2009, 64 percent of the state’s children were of color.

3. Houston is the most racially and ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the country. According to a report from Rice University, the percentage of Latinos in the region increased dramatically from 20.8 percent in 1990 to more than one-third at 35.5 percent in 2010. This thriving racial and ethnic diversity places Houston at the head of the state’s rapid demographic changes.

4. Nearly a third of immigrants in Texas are naturalized — meaning they are eligible to vote. In 2010 immigrants comprised 16.4 percent of the state’s total population. That year there were 1.3 million naturalized U.S. citizens in Texas, approximately 32 percent of immigrants in the state.

5. Voters of color make up a growing portion of the Texas electorate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos accounted for 20.1 percent of Texas voters in the 2008 elections. African Americans and Asians comprised 14.2 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, of the state’s voters that same year.

6. Even more Latinos are eligible to vote but are currently unregistered. According to the political opinion research group Latino Decisions, there are 2.1 million unregistered Latino voters in Texas in 2012. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there are an additional 880,000 legal permanent residents (green card holders) in Texas who are eligible to naturalize and vote for the first time. Put together, this means Texas has close to an extra 3 million potential voters this fall.

7. The Department of Justice blocked a Texas voter ID law that threatened to disenfranchise Hispanics. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, far fewer non-Hispanic voters — 4.3 percent, compared with 6.3 percent of Latino voters — lack a proper photo ID, which voters would have been required to show under the law. Texas’s own state data listed 174,866 registered Latino voters without an ID.

8. Communities of color add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Texas’s economy through entrepreneurship and spending. The purchasing power of Latinos in Texas increased more than 400 percent from 1990 to 2010, reaching a total of $176.3 billion. Asian buying power increased by more than 650 percent in the same period to a total of $34.4 billion. And in 2007 Texas’s nearly 450,000 Latino-owned businesses had close to 400,000 employees, and sales and receipts of $61.9 billion.

9. Immigrants are essential to the economy as workers. In 2010 immigrants comprised 20.9 percent of Texas’s workforce. As of 2007, 21 percent of Houston’s total economic output and 16 percent of Dallas’s economic output was derived from immigrants.

10. Immigrants contribute to the state economy through state and local taxes. In 2010, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants in Texas paid $1.6 billion in state and local taxes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ripoffs at Texas gas pumps

And we're not talking about the price per gallon.

State inspectors have found hundreds of gas stations in the greater Houston area -- 350 or more -- that likely stiffed motorists because of poorly performing pumps.
Data from the Texas Department of Agriculture shows about one in five inspected stores or stations had least one pump, sometimes more, that failed to meet standards, according to analysis by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. In the greater San Antonio area, 99 of 509 inspected stores were operating at least one malfunctioning pump.
The cost to consumers may be nominal, as little as 3 cents, or as much as $3 per fill-up -- depending on the problems.

Yes, we have had long discussions here about this topic previously. In 2010, Democratic ag commish candidate Hank Gilbert found gas pump stickers in Tyler with Rick Perry's name on them, which meant they hadn't been inspected since 1997.

But to refresh: the regulatory body responsible for gas pumps in Texas is Weights and Measures, overseen by the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Todd Staples. Before him, that title was held by Susan Combs, another powerfully unqualified statewide office-holder. And before her... Rick Perry.

Weak regulations, shoddy compliance, lax oversight... all weighted in favor of Big Business. Where have we heard that before?

Oh, but the responsibility for enforcement of the law lies with some other incompetent Republican. Can you guess who?

The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has responsibility for suing gas station owners who intentionally defraud motorists. Over the past five years, the Attorney General's Office has filed one such lawsuit. That case followed inspections of Sunmart gas stations in July 2008. The investigation revealed that 58 percent of the company's Texas gas pumps were shortchanging customers. The Attorney General's Office sued Sunmart's owner, Petroleum Wholesale LP, and a Harris County jury ordered the company to pay $30 million in restitution to customers, penalties and fees to the state. The verdict was later thrown out on a procedural issue. Court records indicate the case is on appeal.
At least 900 Houston-area customers complained to the state during the one-year period. Stuart, the man who stopped at the Shell station near Washington and Studemont, was one of them, prompted by his surprise the day his Jeep Grand Cherokee took nearly 20 gallons of gas.

Let's be fair; AG Abbott has been pretty busy with a few other things. But not anything that might happen in 2014. No sirree.

For every conservative who has complained about weak regulations, shoddy compliance, and lax enforcement with respect to Ill Eagles: where's your outrage now? You're getting ripped off nearly every time you fill up your tank, and all you're doing is bitching about Obama.

How much more evidence do you need that Republicans just don't know how to govern? There hasn't been a Democrat elected to statewide office for 18 years in Texas, and yet conservatives still want to blame them for everything that's wrong with this state.

Hell, Republicans march in lockstep to the polls to give the most incompetent among themselves a PROMOTION.

Who is the bigger bunch of stooges -- Republican elected officials or the people who keep on voting for them?

Monday Funnies (a shout-out to Keryl Douglas and Elaine Palmer)

And especially those who would fall for their BS.

We honor all of the brave men and women this Memorial Day who gave their lives for our freedom... to eat everything in sight.

Sherwin Williams for President.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wage theft in the city of millionaires

Stace has blogged extensively about this previously; here's The Nation picking it up now.

For two years running Houston has added more millionaires to its population than any other city in the United States. Near-millionaires are enjoying some nice upward mobility, especially those involved in the oil and gas industry.

Low-wage workers, on the other hand, aren’t faring too well in the city. In fact, a recent report from Houston Interfaith Worker Justice (HIWJ) estimates that low-wage workers lose $753.2 million annually due to wage theft. Wage theft can occur in many ways, including: workers being denied the minimum wage or overtime pay; stolen tips; illegal deductions from paychecks; people being forced to work off the clock; or workers getting misclassified as independent contractors so they aren’t entitled to overtime or benefits.

“We’re not talking about a worker here or a worker there, it’s something that has a lot of ripple effects,” says José Eduardo Sanchez, campaign organizer with HIWJ. “It impacts families, communities and local economies.”

Although there are laws on the books against wage theft, there are problems with understaffing, enforcement, and jurisdiction disputes in institutions like the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the courts.

When companies don't pay their workers, that's stealing. Unless the companies are going out of business, it's criminal and should be prosecuted.

Mayor Annise Parker has expressed some empathy for the plight of the victims even as she has clarified that it is the state of Texas which has jurisdiction to address the issue.

The city’s Legal Department initially analyzed the proposal and said that wage theft is addressed by state statute. But Mayor Annise Parker’s office contacted HIWJ to express her interest. HIWJ is now working with her administration on policy proposals that would create a process for a fair hearing and link wage theft violations to the suspension and revocation of city licenses, permits and contracts. Other options to collect additional damages from employers are being explored as well.

Sanchez says the mayor’s action was “surprising” given the initial response from the city.
“But now it’s a matter of holding the politicians accountable and really pushing for enforceable aspects of this legislation,” says Sanchez. “Because there’s an easy way for this to become one of those good policies on paper—nice sentiment, nice words—but not enforceable.”

A little late for some of you, but something to consider if you're casting your ballot on Tuesday.

-- Who cares more about the companies and their owners and managers who steal from their employees than they do about the victims of wage theft?

-- Who cares about the real victims of wage theft: the families? The single parent households and the children who go to bed hungry every night? That conservative crap about "they shouldn't have had children if they couldn't afford them" no longer washes because the Republicans in Austin, as we know, are now cutting off funding for birth control, along with women's wellness exams and cancer screenings.

There's some statistics at the Nation link at the top for the United States if you scroll down a ways. Here's a few.

US poverty (less than $22,314 for a family of four): 46 million people, 15.1 percent of population.

Children in poverty: 16.4 million, 22 percent of all children, including 40 percent of African-American children and 37 percent of Latino children.

Number of poor children receiving cash aid: one in five.

Poverty rate for people in female-headed families: 42 percent.

Poverty rate for children under age 5 in female-headed families: 59 percent.

Single mothers with incomes under $25,000: 50 percent.

Single mothers working: 67 percent.

 But here's the one that really jumped out at me:

Americans with no income other than food stamps: 6 million, 2 percent of population.

You know for certain which side the Republicans are on, and it won't ever be the working poor. But what about the Democrats? Some of them are for "free markets, entrepreneurship, and liberalized trade", which should be an easy enough dog whistle to decipher. Or just look at their record, as contrasted with their challenger's.

This isn't brain surgery, folks. You can vote for a 100% plutocracy party, or one that's roughly 50%. (You can also vote for neither one.) As always -- and as my friend Neil likes to say frequently -- it's up to you.

Memorial Day Funnies

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Post EV, pre-ED snips

-- Paying to play in the GOP primary.

This election season, some prominent Republicans are calling foul on the political "slate mailers" that show up in your mailbox. Critics say the mailed advertisements -- which endorse a slate (or list) of candidates -- are textbook examples of "pay for play" politics.

Three well-known Houston Republicans -- Steve Hotze, Terry Lowry and Gary Polland -- publish newsletter/mailers that have an outsized influence on election returns. But do the endorsements involve a shakedown? In the case of the Lowry and Polland newsletters, a candidate seeking an "endorsement" usually purchases a pricey advertisement that far exceeds the cost of a mailer. Hotze's newsletter doesn't carry ads, but critics claim that candidates must employ his friend, political consultant Allen Blakemore, to win an endorsement.

Recently, Houston attorney Ed Hubbard set off a firestorm when he wrote on the political blog Big Jolly Politics that "most voters don't understand that (the mailers) are not official evaluations from the local party, but instead, are paid-for propaganda from one person or organization intended to influence the outcome of the primary." Hubbard suggested that a better system would be a party-sponsored candidate guide, much like the League of Women Voters.

"Candidates are victimized by this," said Hubbard. 

First, click on the names with links above, which will take you to the HouChron's archive of stories about the high-dollar whores in the Harris County Republican Party. Second, the link to Ed Hubbard writing on BJ has been removed, but the folks at have the excerpt, and even they are embarrassed for the locals.

How low must you go to be a Republican scorned by the heirs to Andrew Breitbart's legacy? Lower than a rattlesnake's anus in a wagon rut, that's how low.

I just don't know who to feel sorrier for, the poor victimized GOP candidates or the sheep carrying the slate cards to the poll with them. To commemorate Ralph Waldo Emerson on the occasion of his 209th birthday, let's revisit his words on groupthink:

“A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”

-- Alas, more political junk mail, this time from Democrats...

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is investigating how political mailers from at least one candidate running for Precinct 1 constable were sent to the home addresses of current deputies employed by that precinct.

Some law enforcement information, including the home addresses of officers, is exempted from the Texas Public Information Act.

Kyle Johnston, who is handling mail for the Alan Rosen campaign, said he was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury this week, but that his appearance was then delayed. Johnston said investigators showed him two hand-addressed envelopes containing Rosen political mailers and was asked whether he knew anything about them.

When Johnston asked what was wrong with the mailers, he said the investigators told him, “It’s who they went to and how they went about getting that list.”

Johnston said he designed the mailers as part of his work with the campaign, but did not mail the letters in question. He said he suspects the inquiry may be politically motivated and an effort to hamper Rosen.

“I do the bulk mail. I don’t do first-class stamps and hand-written envelopes,” Johnston said. “If (deputies) are getting my mail it’s because they’re a voter that lives in Precinct 1. There’s nothing in my databases that says ‘law enforcement,’ nor was I provided a list of law enforcement officers or anything like that.”

If I never have to blog another fucking word about mailers, life will be simply grand.

You realize we could eliminate many of these problems by limiting campaign spending, don't you?

-- Finally, a word about turnout in the Harris County primary elections: dismal.

Possibly spurred by a hotly contested U.S. Senate race and a presumed-but-not-final presidential candidate, twice as many Republicans showed up to vote in person - 60,347 - compared with 30,142 Democrats.

Republicans also greatly outpaced Democrats in the number of mail-in ballots requested and returned. 

Well, I suppose the Crips can hope that many of their voters crossed over to cast ballots for Ron Paul and Craig James in the Bloods primary.

-- State conventions are happening all across Texas weekend after next. The Democrats are coming together here in Houston, the Greens are assembling outside San Antonio near Bandera (they will be hosting David Cobb's Move to Amend roadshow on Friday June 8), and the Republicans and Libertarians are both meeting in Fort Worth. All that should make for lots of fun political headlines.

Happy Memorial Day weekend and don't forget the reason why we're off on Monday.

Update: Oh yeah, this is kind of important.

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it will monitor primary elections on May 29, 2012, in Fort Bend, Harris and Jefferson Counties in Texas, to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes.  [...]
Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Fort Bend and Jefferson Counties based on the attorney general’s certification.  In addition, Fort Bend is subject to a court order entered in 2009, which requires the jurisdiction to comply with the minority language and assistor of choice requirements of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the requirements of the Help America Vote Act.  The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these counties, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Harris County.  A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Squiers endorsed by none of the three Democrats who lost already to Culberson"

Thank goodness for small favors. From the Cargas campaign e-mail earlier today:

In the upcoming May 29 Democratic primary all three prior Democratic candidates for Congressional District 7 have endorsed James Cargas, a Houston public servant, as the person who can defeat the incumbent congressman and serve in Congress with honor and distinction.  John Martinez, who ran in 2004, Jim Henley, who ran in 2006, and Michael Skelly, who ran in 2008, have all thrown their support behind James Cargas. 

I feel certain that the Cargas campaign simply forgot to note that Lissa Squiers ran as a write-in candidate for Congressional District 7 in 2010, because no Democrat dared to relive the woes of Martinez, Henley, and Skelly. Thus no one filed.

As the demographics and views of Harris County change, each democratic (sic) candidate earned more than the person before.  Martinez received 33.3%, Henley received 38.5%, Skelly received 42.3%, and, if a Democrat had run in 2010, that person would likely have received 46.8%.

Uh, no. No, that mythical Democrat wouldn't have come close to 46.8%. Because 2010 was a wipeout for Democrats, and most of those who ran in Harris County and across the state of Texas got well under 40%. But let's not spoil the fantasy.

If the same trend continues, Cargas will cross the winning threshold and earn 51.3% of the vote. It’s time for Congressional District 7 to turn blue, and James Cargas is the person who will make it happen. 

You can wake up now.

James Cargas isn't likely to pour millions of his own money into a Congressional race like Skelly did, nor does he have the warmth and personal appeal of Jim Henley -- a man whom I respect a great deal, but is simply mistaken this time around. Mr. Martinez is provided here as the third of the three-for because he has a Latino surname. Thus the continuation of the Cargas campaign as a 'stealth Latino' goes on, despite the campaign e-mail's disclosure in the very last line...

Cargas and his wife, Dr. Dorina Papageorgiou, are members of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

To be fair, James Cargas is probably a very fine gentleman. I don't know him, haven't met him. I've heard far more about him from others than I ever wanted to know from people who do, and most of it is as far from the definition of 'public servant' as it can be. Recall this data from one of my very first posts on the topic:

In January of 2007, Illumina Energy (the new name of PowerSol) un-registered James Cargas as a power marketer and replaced him with Hector Carreno. The contact addresses and phone numbers remained the same, although the email address changed. Why swap out Cargas? Because it was time for him to go to work for the city, advising them on who to buy power from. Let’s see, a power broker hires you for awhile, then sends you off to advise city hall on buying what he sells. How convenient!
How did Cargas get linked to Carreno this way? We have to roll back the calendar to introduce a pivotal player to the story; Emil Pena. Pena is a lifelong lobbyist; he’s good at it and has an impressive list of clients. He has lobbied for beer, cigarette, oil, and gas companies. But he made his name in the energy arena. He participated in the energy regulator/lobbyist revolving door, while also funneling money from energy companies to candidates they’d like to buy. This was noted by Texans for Public Justice in their report on PACs active in the 2000 election cycle, in a sidebar titled Stealth PAC.

James Cargas, Hector Carreno, Emile Pena. Google them for yourself if you think I'm being biased.

Since 2008, James Cargas has worked for the City of Houston as their energy advisor. However, he continues to use advocacy groups and local clubs to push his insider agenda.
Cargas is a past Deputy Director of the North American Energy Standards Board, and is still a member. At a recent meeting, Emil Pena presented the idea that “system safety” might apply to shale gas, and explained how it could be implemented quickly. Now, as a lobbyist for oil companies, this advice probably seems quite reasonable to Pena: profits first, safety later … as PR damage control, maybe? For his part, Cargas proudly claims his involvement in NAESB, and seems perfectly content with their worldview. This is far from the “public service” attitude I expect in a city employee!
Cargas is also on the Board of the Energy Bar Association, where he basically says “alternative energy will not happen in Texas, due to existing regulations”. (.pdf, page 3) One might interpret this as “don’t bother trying to compete with my partners; we’ve got the market sewed up.” Again, not the attitude I would hope for from someone advising the city on energy purchases, but all I could expect from an energy trading insider.
James Cargas deserves to lumped with his partners, Carreno and Pena: fossil fuel fans, shills for Big Oil & Gas, profiting off pushing their poisonous products, pinching OUR pennies for their pockets. No law against any of that … this is America, after all. But is this who we want making the law of the land, our land, our water, our air? No! Cargas is undeserving of our respect, much less a Democrat’s endorsement or vote.

If you think we need another energy lobbyist and attorney representing us in Washington, then you've got your man. If you would rather support a conservative Democrat than an actual one, you've a better choice: Phillip Andrews. I've met Phillip twice, both times at Sean Hubbard events, and dined with him at one of those. From what I can tell he represents an improvement over Cargas (albeit barely).

But if you want to vote for a Democrat who represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, who will represent the people and not the powerful, who owes nothing to any special interests, AND who can defeat John Culberson without pie-in-the-sky projections, then your choice is Lissa Squiers.

That's as plain and simple as I can make it.

Update: In another indication that the Cargas campaign either doesn't understand much about percentages, or is engaging in a fudge-up with the numbers that would make the people who valued Facebook at 38 envious, yet another e-mail is circulating which purports to divine the results of a straw poll -- taken over the weekend among 78 people who attended the HCDP Club Carnival -- as indicating Cargas has "overwhelming" support.

I'm starting to be embarrassed for them.

Texas judge brags in campaign mailers about stopping EPA


With aspects of the case still pending in his courtroom, Judge Trey Loftin sent fliers to voters saying he forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to back down.

Loftin, who is campaigning to keep his state judgeship in a county west of Dallas, also sent out materials with the image of talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who credited the judge’s ruling in favor of driller Range Resources Corp., based in Fort Worth, Texas, for getting the EPA to reverse course.

(Image from Parker County Blog, an avid supporter of the judge)

What Loftin might be suggesting here -- besides a separate case that EPA settled with Range in March -- is the resignation of Dr. Al Armendariz from his post as director of EPA's South Central region just last month. While the mail piece doesn't quite go that far, reported eyewitness accounts have the judge commenting in campaign appearances that his court decisions resulted in Armendariz's firing.

Except of course that Armendariz wasn't fired. Continuing from the Bloomberg article, which quotes the following text right off the back of Loftin's mailer:

“The EPA, using falsified evidence provided by a liberal activist environmental consultant, accused and fined a local gas driller of contaminating wells,” according to a campaign flier for Loftin’s campaign. President Barack “Obama’s EPA backed down only after Judge Trey Loftin ruled that the evidence was ‘deceptive.’”

At least the law is fairly clear.

The Texas code of judicial conduct prohibits judges from commenting on pending or impending cases "in a manner which suggests to a reasonable person the judge’s probable decision."

That would be Canon 3 B .10 of the Code.

"A judge shall abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding which may come before the judge's court in a manner which suggests to a reasonable person the judge's probable decision on any particular case."

Let's read more reactions to this (apparent) ethical breach.

“The problem of having judges run for office is that sometimes they cross a line in trying to get elected,” James Alfini, a professor of law at South Texas College of Law in Houston and co-author of a book on judicial ethics, said in an interview. “In this case, I think he crossed a line.”


Even without specific references, the mailer may cause a reasonable person to think Loftin was biased in the case, said Keith Swisher, a professor of law at the Phoenix School of Law and expert on judicial ethics. “The fact that a specific name wasn’t used doesn’t provide” an out, Swisher said in an interview. ...

Judge Loftin's primary challenger delicately weighed in as well.

“I don’t think a judge should ever comment about a case pending in his court,” Craig Towson, Loftin’s opponent in the Republican primary on May 29, said in an interview. “One could feel slighted if you have a judge commenting on the case.”

A complaint will have to be filed with the state commission on judicial conduct for any action to proceed further. So we'll wait and see what happens.

Update: WFAA in the Metroplex reports that Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler, who was quoted in a separate mailing as endorsing Loftin, called the county's residents with a recording that stated he in fact did not endorse the judge, and furthermore did not authorize the use of his name or photo in the mistaken mailout.

(Whatever one may think of Judge Loftin's actions in this regard, it appears that Sheriff Fowler is pretty mad about the endorsement that wasn't. Robo-calling all the landlines in the county -- even an exurban one like Parker -- isn't cheap.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No chance Ron Paul endorses Gary Johnson

The Independent Political Report, via Reason:

Ron Paul campaign manager/spokesman/family member Jesse Benton told reporters during a phone conference May 15 that there would be no chance of any endorsement of Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson by Ron Paul. Benton said that Ron Paul endorsing Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney was not out of the question. 

Here's the rationale.

Ron Paul ran as a Libertarian for President in 1988, but has served separate stints as a Republican in Congress before and since, and has run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. His son Rand Paul is a freshman US Senator from Kentucky and is considered by many to be a future presidential aspirant as early as 2016; other Paul family members are also rumored to have a possible future in politics. 

And here's some of the recent history. I'm emphasizing the names of the players in bold.

Subsequent to his return to Congress as a Republican, Ron Paul has continued his involvement with alternative political parties to some extent, speaking at a number of their events and endorsing a number of their candidates. [...]

In 2008, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, a Libertarian National Committeeman in 2006-8 who had also supported (2004 Libertarian presidential nominee Michael) Badnarik, ran as the Libertarian presidential candidate and famously earned the Paul campaign’s ire by first agreeing to, then at the last minute refusing to participate in a joint press conference with Dr. Paul, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, Ralph Nader (who was running as an independent, as he had in 2004, and ran as a Green in 2000 and 1996), and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. The press conference was planned as a way to announce agreement between these candidates and Dr. Paul on several key issues, and in turn Paul was to suggest that voters consider these four candidates as better alternatives than Obama and McCain without making a specific endorsement. After Barr, who was on the premises, refused to appear with the group on stage and instead offered Ron Paul to become a substitute VP candidate for the Libertarians, Paul responded by endorsing Baldwin. 

Barr backed Gingrich earlier this year but has recently endorsed Romney.

This gives every indication that the Kook Caucus is slowly coming together behind Mitt -- though I believe Tom Tancredo is still a holdout --  even as the relatively sane conservatives offer a legitimate third option in Gary Johnson and Jim Gray, whose nominations as Libertarian Party standard-bearers for 2012 were chronicled here.

Charles Kuffner doesn't agree -- and maybe it's just me who is more aware of third-party efforts while most everybody else remains not -- but I believe the minor parties in Texas are collectively going to exceed much more than their traditional 1-2% of the statewide vote. I think it could be as much as 5% for all of them combined, perhaps a bit more. We'll see.

The traditional media discovers Sean Hubbard

This is a good thing.

The young Democrat likes to remind audiences that Joe Biden was 29 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Delaware, and like the current vice president, Hubbard is articulate, engaging and well-versed on the issues. During a Houston debate a couple of weeks ago, he did not hesitate to engage the presumptive GOP front-runner, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is more than three decades older and who has nearly 15 years more experience in office. Hubbard won the KUHF News live blog poll immediately following the debate.

In a state where a Democrat has not won statewide office since 1994, Hubbard's chance of taking the oath of office in Washington next January is even less likely than the Astos sweeping this fall's World Series. And, yet, his quixotic candidacy may offer a boost to his beleaguered party. Along with Julian Castro, the vastly more experienced mayor of San Antonio, Hubbard could be the party's face of the future.

Influential Democratic consultant Harold Cook surprised - and irritated - some of the party faithful recently by making just that point. On his "Letters from Texas" blog, Cook noted that Hubbard "would be the kind of Democratic nominee more capable of attracting new folks to the Democratic column."

Here is about ten minutes' worth of Hubbard doing some Q&A in Sherman recently.

This is it, Texas Democrats. A moment of truth, clarity, peace love and understanding.

Sean Hubbard is your man. THE man. If you fall back on a tired old Blue Dog to run against whatever POS the Republicans nominate, you won't crack 40%.

The party has fallen and it can't get up... for nearly twenty years now. And Paul Sadler can't lift a thing, bless his heart. Good man, poor timing.

Get Hubbard on the ballot and you will begin to see the peeping dawn of a renaissance, or keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting better results.

Your choice.

Update: As usual, Neil and I agree right across the board.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

For Judge Steven Kirkland and Lane Lewis

Despite not being eligible to vote in the Democratic Party's primary this year -- I was elected an alternate delegate in the spring to the Texas Green Party's state convention -- there are, as I have said before, proud progressive Democrats whom I do heartily support and advance for election in November. Two of these are Judge Steven Kirkland to the Harris County bench, and Lane Lewis as chair of the HCDP. Michelle Risher at OutSmart magazine assembles all the moving pieces of the puzzle to reveal the picture. Emphasis is mine.

(Bethel) Nathan, who has worked for the Republican National Committee, and (Justin) Jordan, who is Republican Precinct 76 Chair, are both African-American, as is Kirkland’s ostensibly Democratic challenger, Elaine Palmer. Palmer has been heavily funded by (attorney George) Fleming and three out-of-state personal injury lawyers who also litigate Fen Phen claims. These out-of-state attorneys have no readily discernible ties to Fleming, Palmer, or the Houston legal community, but have nevertheless contributed $30,000 to Palmer’s campaign out of the goodness of their hearts.

Fleming and his firm contributed a total of $35,000, and his self-funded PAC, Texans for Good Leaders, added another $23,000. Throw in the $2,000 from “Texas Hammer” Jim Adler, $5,000 from Cliff Roberts, and the Holman Law Firm’s attempted initial contribution of $35,000—$30,000 of which had to be returned along with another $2,000 from Fleming—and a cynic might infer they were trying to buy themselves a judge. The most mysterious contribution of all, though, was $5,000 from Republican Tea Party operative Paul Kubosh, who also funded Tea Party councilwoman Helena Brown.

Kubosh is also a major source of funds for Keryl Douglas, who is running against openly gay Lane Lewis for the Harris County Democratic Party (HCDP) Chair. Kubosh has of late been meddling in the affairs of the Harris County Democratic Party even though he is a lifelong Republican whose brothers, Michael and Randy, are the former Harris County Republican Party Finance Committee Chairman and the Precinct 2 Chair and Republican Hispanic Citizens in Action treasurer, respectively.

Miya Shay has more on the latest smear of Kirkland appearing on your radio.

Any questions before the exam, class? The test is open-book and it's pass/fail, and it's going on right now at early voting locations across Harris County until Friday. It will then resume at your precinct's poll for one day only, Tuesday May 29, and be graded shortly after 7 pm.

Good luck.

Previous posts:

That old black magic (4/29/12)

Still on the case of the mysterious rift (4/19/12)

Harris County Democrats' rift between blacks, gays boils over (4/15/12)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that early voting for the 2012 primaries continues through Friday as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff sincerely hopes there's an uprising among parents and educators over the way public education was treated last session, but he's still waiting for the campaign rhetoric to match the reporting about it.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger was moved by an award-winning documentary and saw the connection to the current state of mental health in Texas and everywhere else. Here are Lessons of the Weeping Camel for Texas.  

BlueBloggin had not anticipated how long America would engage in war. Enough men and women have been exposed to combat, cruelty and death to populate a small country. Americans must be prepared for When They Come Home – Critical Update.

There aren't many Democrats earning the endorsement of PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, but the most important one of the 2012 primary cycle in Harris County is Lissa Squiers for Congress. And Sean Hubbard for US Senate. Oh, and Rachel Van Os for state party chair (election to be held at the state convention in Houston in June). And maybe a few more coming in the week before Election Day.

This week in GOP infighting: should Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst win his bid for the US Senate, picking his replacement will be a proxy war between Rick Perry and Joe Straus. WCNews at Eye On Williamson has the rest of the story in The Tie-Breaker.

Libby Shaw puts Repug redistricting in prospective in her latest posting: The Gerrymander Cowards. Check it out at TexasKaos.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted a picture of a cigarette machine that he saw last week in Houston. If you can imagine, the cigarettes cost $10 a pack in this machine.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog strongly supports Gene Wu in the race to succeed Scott Hochberg in HD-137.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Texas is #1 -- in workplace discrimination complaints.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Even Meaner Funnies

"I have no issue with paying taxes and whatever needs to be done for my country to grow. I believe very firmly that my ability to sit here — I'm a black man who didn't go to college, yet I get to travel around the world and sell my movies, and I believe very firmly that America is the only place on Earth that I could exist," Smith said. "So I will pay anything that I need to pay to keep my country growing."

That's when the interviewer mentioned that France could have a 75 percent tax rate on income over one million Euros.

 "Seventy-five?" ("Men in Black" actor Will) Smith gasped. "Yeah, that's different, that's different. Yeah, 75. Well, you know, God bless America."

Click on this one for the larger, more readable version. It's worth it.

Defriending Facebook

I spent much of the past couple of weeks posting status updates to my Facebook timeline castigating the social network's initial public stock offering, which came down Friday. Here's a sample:

-- Four ways the IPO will change Facebook forever: 1. More ads. 2. Ads on your mobile. 3. Less privacy. 4. More FB-generated content.

-- FB testing a feature that charges you to send messages to your friends: It's called 'Highlight' and it's currently live in New Zealand. See, not everyone sees all your posts; just the ones that FB's algorithm decides to publish in their -- not yours, theirs -- feed. So you can pay extra to make sure everyone sees a specific post. Maybe.

Or you can just send them a free e-mail.

Here's more on why using FB is soon going to be costing you money.

-- Facebook changes their privacy policy yet again. Hint: it's not to provide you more privacy, or even more control over what little privacy you still have.

-- Nine ways criminals use Facebook.

-- Deleting a FB app doesn't delete your data from their system. This is probably a good time to be reminded that everything you upload to FB -- and I mean everything-- becomes their property. Not yours. Theirs.

-- FB users 'like' and 'share' too much, according to Consumer Reports. And it's not just college kids on spring break intoxicated and partially nude. That post you liked about diabetes? Your insurer is able to purchase that data from FB, and they probably aren't going to do so to help you manage yours.

-- So given all that, would you be surprised that a majority of its users don't trust Facebook?

More than 40 percent of American adults log in to the site — to share news, personal observations, photos and more — at least once a week. In all, some 900 million people around the world are users. But many of them don’t have a very high opinion of Facebook or trust it to keep their information private.

-- Or would you be more surprised that despite that, Facebookers aren't quitting on them?

Those links are what I posted to FB just from last week alone. Truth to tell, I wanted to see if it was possible to get FB to defriend me on the basis of this criticism. Turns out the answer is no, so far at least.

But as you might imagine, this bevy of bad news gave some negative momentum to Friday's initial public offering.

-- 5 reasons not to 'like' FB's IPO.

-- Warren Buffet stayed far away.

-- The AP's finance writer said just don't do it.

-- There are some other dirty little secrets.

-- HuffPo established the Tech Bubble Death Watch in honor of Facebook's IPO.

-- At $38 per share, the stock was valued at over 100 times earnings. That compares with Apple's 14 times, and  Google's 19 times. Thus the headlines Friday became 'overvalued' and 'under-demanded'. And in case you needed a refresher course on the 'level playing field' for small investors...

It's as if no one at Facebook ever heard of MySpace.

Yes, FB is limping into Monday, where the share price could dip below Friday's closing of $38.63, and with a summer bear market rearing its head. I suppose that last is good news if you're a contrarian.

I would be interested to know how my posts about Facebook and their myriad of fuck-ups affected the FB algorithm for what my interests are. I doubt whether Markie Z will be sharing that with me. Besides he'll be busy honeymooning for a few weeks.

Wonder if the newlyweds are scouting domiciles in Singapore?

Update: Oh, there were some techno-difficulties at the NASDAQ on Friday morning, providing a convenient scapegoat for the lack of momentum.

Despite hours of testing, Nasdaq failed to detect a problem with the way the trading system processed order cancellations. Greifeld said Nasdaq is "humbly embarrassed" about the technical glitch, and plans to redesign its IPO systems. He added that Nasdaq will ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to approve its plan to repay investors who were hurt by the computer error. 

But read a little further and you find this.

On Friday lead underwriter Morgan Stanley stepped in to keep the stock from falling below its $38 IPO price, and at the end of the day Facebook was up only 0.6 percent. Sources say the bank won't continue propping up the shares this week. There may also be more fallout from the Nasdaq glitch. Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management told Reuters: "I don't know if people stepped away at some point because they just couldn't execute in a clear manner, and that Monday we will have some follow through of people that weren't executed and still need to sell."

More Mean Funnies

"Mitt Romney once lost $2 billion. Then he found it in another pair of pants."

-- David Letterman

"President Obama and Mitt Romney both gave commencement speeches over the last few days. Obama was like: 'You can be whatever you want to be.' Romney was like: 'I can be whatever you want me to be.'"

-- Jimmy Fallon

"I'm actually – I'm not familiar with precisely, exactly what I said. But I stand by what I said, whatever it was. And with regards to – I'll go back and take a look at what was said there."

Until next week, when I'll say whatever I think you want to hear and then I'll stand by that until I have to stand by something else I said.

-- Me

Jamie Dimon, still Master of the Universe

Perhaps he has added 'Master of the Putzes' to his many titles and professional distinctions. Then again, maybe it's the customers and shareholders of JPMorgan Chase that are the larger schmucks.

It’s official. Just as he was voted in for a second term as Class A New York Fed director in February 2010, Jamie Dimon was reelected chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase yesterday afternoon. He got to keep his $23 million pay package, too. All without breaking a sweat.

This means that at each of three of the top five bank-holding companies dominating U.S. derivatives exposure, loans, assets, and deposits, the same man holds the chairman and CEO positions—at Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPM Chase.  (Bank of America and Citigroup separated those roles.). If the stock buckles under another “discovery,” shareholders can take comfort in blaming themselves, not Jamie Dimon.
At the shareholders meeting there was no mention of the details behind the “mistake” that cost the bank $2 billion, just that it “should never have happened.” (The Titanic shouldn’t have sunk either.) Most shareholders had already voted before the loss became public anyway. Ultimately, 91 percent of them approved Dimon’s pay, and 60 percent voted for him to retain both executive positions. This makes the timing of the loss announcement, if not suspicious, then, self-serving -- or self-inflicted.

If you haven't watched the HBO docu-drama Too Big to Fail, (based on the book by Andrew Sorkin), I heartily recommend doing so at your earliest opportunity. Here's the trailer:

Bill Pullman -- the President of the United States in Independence Day -- plays the far-more-MVP Dimon in this flick. It's both comical and pathetic to watch the once (Hank Paulson, played by William Hurt) and future (Tim Geithner, played by Billy Crudup) Secretaries of the Treasury kowtow, grovel, and prostrate themselves before Dimon.

One of the movie's best lines comes after Geithner (Crudup) describes a conversation with Dimon (Pullman): "I told him we need his help. And I asked him very politely not to [expletive] with us today."

Art imitates life imitating art. In real life, Geithner avoids any harsh language in suggesting, as politely as possible, that Dimon may want to reconsider his service on the same regulatory body that is responsible for policing his even-bigger-now-than-it-was-then TBTF bank.

No public response yet from the MotU. But I bet I can guess what the private one was: something along the lines of "STFU, MoFo".

The nicest thing that can be said about Jamie Dimon is that he may not be as evil as Mark Zuckerberg -- who got married yesterday following the failure of his company's IPO (not for him and a few others, but for everybody else). Congratulations, Mark and Priscilla. Y'all aren't moving to Singapore too, are ya?

Update: In quite possibly the worst conclusion ever leapt to in all of recorded history, Loren Steffy, business writer for the Houston Chronicle, argues that Chase's $2 billion dollar derivatives trading loss is why Elizabeth Warren should not be running for the US Senate.

Sunday 'We Mean Business' Funnies

Emphasis on 'mean' (adj).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lissa Squiers for Congress

Personally speaking, this is the most important race in Harris County.

I have said this a time or two before, but it bears repeating as the early voting period gets started: there are three people running in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 7 for the right to square off against John "Doesn't Keep His Word" Culberson in November. One of the two men is an oil and gas attorney with Clinton administration connections, but whose campaign is managed and funded by Republicans and Republican interests (where have we heard of that elsewhere?). One of the more odious things this man's campaign has undertaken is to revisit local Democratic clubs and organizations to persuade them that their co-endorsement of his candidacy and one of his challengers should be revoted in his favor.

What's even worse is that he has occasionally succeeded in this venal tactic.

The other gentleman runs a global defense/security company (remember Blackwater? Like that). Until recently his website proclaimed in large letters at the top "Blue Dog Democrat".

The third person is Lissa Squiers, who has spent all of her time for the past several years engaging the community on the part of childhood education, womens' rights, gay rights, ... you name it. (Well, she names it all in her statement below.)

She has lived Democratic causes and fought Democratic battles while the two men made money and hired expensive consultants -- again, some of them Republican -- and decided to run for office.

Once again my friend Neil and I see eye-to-eye on this choice. Here is Lissa's appeal to the Democrats of CD-07, asking for your vote.

As a candidate for political office I meet a lot of people.  Every one of these people has the same basic needs, and underneath everything else, they are saying they want a good life for themselves and their children.   Every family benefits when people are healthy and educated.  Every community benefits when they have good roads and bridges and schools and first responders.  Every business benefits when people and families and communities are strong.  No one ever says they don’t want these things.

The next logical step is where we differ:  what’s good for people is what’s good for business.   That’s what I believe and that’s what liberal Democrats believe.  Centrists and ‘moderates’ in both parties believe the opposite.  They say that what’s good for business is what’s good for people.  Both of my opponents for Congressional District 7 have made a lifetime and a business out of this opposite approach.  But the economy and Occupy Wall Street and current reality for the majority of Americans shows us this doesn’t work – catering to corporations has given us nothing but a few scraps of their leftover lunch and a big mess to clean up.

I believe in equality:  Voting equality.  Women’s equality.  Wage equality.  Education equality.   Social equality.  Marriage equality.  Religious equality.   Racial equality.  Healthcare equality.  These things are our God-given, inalienable rights.   If I am honored with the opportunity to represent Congressional District 7 in Washington, my votes and acts and policies will come from these beliefs.   These things are good for people and good for communities.  Healthy people and healthy communities create and support healthy businesses and a healthy American economy.

My work in the community in education, juvenile justice, religious and voting rights, women’s rights and union rights are extensive and come from the heart.  As a Texan and Houstonian, my family’s history and future are here.  I hope you will vote in the upcoming Democratic primary to choose candidates that will support the equality and rights that are necessary to let Americans create the American Dream that we are all capable of.  I would be honored to receive your vote for Congressional District 7.  As a woman, as a mother, as a Texan, I know that 2012 is the year for the changes we need to take America forward.  And as a Democrat, I know that 2012 is the year that we make better lives for all, not just the privileged few.

So the choice is clear. And that holds true even if you're a Republican or a Blue Dog (not that there's a dime's worth of difference, mind you).