Sunday, January 17, 2010

Farouk Shami in the news

Full disclosure: Not only is Shami a paid sponsor of this blog but Vince Leibowitz, my good friend and chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance, also serves as Shami's campaign director and senior strategist.

Shami's religious views and economic plans made news this past week. First, Corrie MacLaggan at the Statesman:

When Farouk Shami's gubernatorial campaign officials were asked in November what his religion is, they said he is Quaker.

But on Monday, other campaign officials said he is not.

Rick Casey at the Chron:

Farouk Shami, the Houston hair care magnate running for governor, wants you to know that he is not a Muslim.

He also wants you to know that he is not a Quaker.

One more thing he wants you to know: The Texas media, possibly out of “something darker and racially motivated,” is engaging in a disservice to Texas Democrats by promoting a “media sideshow surrounding Shami's religious beliefs.”

Aman Batheja at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Because of the wealthy Houston businessman’s origin, as soon as he announced his candidacy a rumor started that he is Muslim.

His campaign initially told reporters that Shami is a Quaker but appeared to backtrack this week.

On Tuesday, members of Shami’s campaign staff suggested that recent questions from the news media about his religion were racially motivated.

"Apparently, if you’re not lily white, some people will require you to pass a religious test in order to run for office in this country," campaign director Vince Leibowitz said.

K-T Musselman at Burnt Orange Report:

Earlier this week, I posted on an (sic) disappointing attack made by one of the minor Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Farouk Shami's faith. A number of other Texas media outlets wrote about some confusion and apparent backtracking by Shami as to whether he was Quaker, Muslim, or none of the above. ... I was a little disappointed at first that the release addressing the issue didn't answer the question which was raised as to what the actual response should be to attacks on Shami's faith- simply, what does he identify as?

Shami's statement on his religious beliefs:

I was born in the land of Abraham, believing in Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, and believing in one God. I grew up with members of my family and friends practicing multiple faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. I was also educated at a Quaker school. All of these things contributes to my relationship with God. To say simply ‘I'm a Muslim’ or ‘I'm a Quaker’ is to ignore major parts of my faith. I know it seems complicated that I do not have a pat answer to questions about what religion I am, but without my exposure to many different cultures and religious beliefs I wouldn't be the person I am today.

Although I'm not a member of any specific religious tradition, I do begin every day with prayer and meditation and have a strong personal relationship with God. I respect those who practice all faiths because I believe God gave us life to help one another, the poor, the sick and the oppressed. It is through God we can achieve peace, freedom and bring justice to the world. As Governor, I know, with God's help and guidance, I will be able to help every Texan have access to the American Dream just like I did—a good job, access to healthcare, and an excellent education for their children. That's why I feel called to run for office."

Glad that's all cleared up.

Shami's unconventional economic proposal is to build factories in hard-pressed Texas cities to construct solar panels to be placed on homes, free of charge.  Costs would be recouped by selling the generated electricity back to the power company, and once paid for, the panels then donated to the homeowner. A hundred thousand jobs would be created under this plan, presumably by the construction of the factories and then the factory and installer jobs themselves, along with -- again I would guess -- ancillary jobs from the investment, suppliers and so forth. From KHOU:

“I'm hoping within the first two years I will create a minimum of 100,000 jobs or I will resign and I am thinking I will give the state $10 million,” Shami said. “What do you think of that?”

Rice University and 11 News Political Expert Bob Stein had a different view.

“I think it will probably come off looking more like a gimmick than serious public policy,” he said. ...

Voter Scott Nethery said he wasn’t buying it right away.

“My first initial thoughts would be: unrealistic,” he said.

University of Houston Economist Barton Smith agreed. He called it “a stretch technologically” because solar panels are so expensive.

“(It is) something the private sector could not possibly do on its own given the current technology,” he said.

Shami also suggested this past week in a campaign appearance in El Paso that undocumented immigrants be granted amnesty in exchange for revealing criminal gangsters to law enforcement:

"We cannot continue to treat all undocumented workers as criminals. We must narrowly target the gangs that threaten our safety and to do that, undocumented workers must become our allies. Furthermore, we must give them incentives, beyond making their community safer, to come forward. That's why I want to work with the federal government to give legal status to anyone who contributes to the capture of gang members."

Lastly, Shami's transportation policy reveals him as favoring the end of both the Tran-Texas Corridor as well as the use of eminent domain "abuse". He proposes increases in the state gasoline tax to pay for his suggestions -- making him a rarity among candidates.

Update: What's sacred to Texas voters is the truth.

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