Friday, June 29, 2012

On the Affordable Health Care Act

John Robert Behrman is an economist, retired, and was formerly State Democratic Executive Committeeman for SD-13, including the Texas Medical Center.


The Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Roberts, has stepped back from the brink by not gutting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I guess I should be happy.

But the still conservative majority on this court may have simply recognized that they risked more public support for the President and a move closer to a single-payer system with another radical, split decision. The court majority still have the complexity and unpopularity of the new law working for them. They know that Washington concession-tenders cannot make a relatively simple disability insurance program work for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Democrats at every echelon of government (other than the Supreme Court) have to make this aw work despite (a) its constitutional near-death experience, (b) the very nature of health insurance policy sales racketeers they partnered with, and (c) the actual complexity, from state to state, of our motley institutions of public health and medical care. That is what we have: public health and medical care. “Healthcare” is oxymoronic lobby-jargon. The fact that our party’s national policy elite -- bundlers and consultants -- believe in “healthcare”, the “Latino vote”, the Easter Bunny, and so on portends how hard this will be and how perilous the present situation still is.

Here’s a suggestion:

Oregon and Washington State should opt out of Obamacare, as the president has invited them to do. They can create a system of public health and medical care that is fiscally and actuarially sound. Moreover, this would support them in worldwide competition for jobs and capital for the region: Seattle, Portland, and Tacoma. These two states would even have four senators in Washington, D.C., one of whom, Ron Wyden, actually knows what he is talking about in these matters.

So Oregon and Washington should be proud and can lead the nation.

As a legacy of WWII shipbuilding, aircraft factories, and nuclear ordnance, these two states have comparatively strong institutions of public health and medical care, including Kaiser-Permanente and Group Health of Puget Sound health maintenance organizations, as well as very reputable medical schools. These are embedded in other healthy industrial and commercial institutions. Moreover, public health authorities in these states have to deal with two of the most hazardous occupations in America: fishing and logging. In sum, Oregon and Washington are comparatively proficient in public health and medical care. Their patriotic, liberal, and scientific institutions are not unduly burdened by legacies of “scientific racism”, although they may have been somewhat tainted before and during WWII by anti-immigration bias and eugenics.

In short, these two states have the economic and technical scope and scale –- also every political and economic incentive –- to do a fine job of national health insurance built on other wholesome civic and professional institutions they have. This is something our federal, not our national, system of politics and government can accomplish in a highly regionalized global economy.

Moreover, the success of Oregon and Washington should be a signal to Texas Democrats. We could be the national leader in combining energy, industrial, and environmental policy as soon as 2014. We were once before, “back in the day”. We could swap some tips: Oregon and Washington are not leaders in combining energy, industrial, and environmental policy, quite the contrary.

In the midst or aftermath of huge wars, progressive policy has been dumped by a prestigious, victorious government in Washington on small or backwards states. Lyndon B. Johnson could even play Otto von Bismarck, and did so, by creating Medicare, barely and just before losing the war in Vietnam. However, even though “Obama got Osama”, the old flood-down paradigms of “Military Keynesianism” and post-war progressivism will not work for our beleaguered President or utterly marginalized state party today.

We have to try something new, even if it is actually old.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my childhood friend, the late Cicele Bostrom. Raised in Houston and Gonzales, Texas, she became President of Group Health of Puget Sound and a distinguished member of the Washington State Board of Medical Licensure. The flow of labor, capital, and culture between US states and our overseas trade partners that she epitomized is more progressive than the trickle-down of pork and patronage from state or national capitals.

Our so-called conservatives don’t know that and the so-called liberals have forgotten it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It stands.

I'm still not quite ready to believe that Justice Roberts joined the liberal wing in the majority. I would not have ascribed a 1% chance of that happening.

Excerpts follow from the SCOTUS(live-)blog.

SCOTUS holds that mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but is constitutional under legislative branch's power to levy and collect taxes.

In his opening statement in dissent, Kennedy says: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."  

Amy Howe: 
In Plain English... The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

I'll assemble various reactions later today.

Update: A fairly hilarious Twitter aggre-reaction. The first Tweet there is in response to CNN's initial webpage update, quickly pulled down, that said the ACA was rejected. And Republicans in Congress Tweeted that the law had been struck down, and then deleted them once they figured it out had it explained to them by a fifth-grader.

Update II: Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog:

Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t. That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed. The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form. 

Update III: Fox News' losing efforts to declare ACA unconstitutional. Their only recourse now is to impeach... Chief Justice Roberts.

Update IV: "(T)he ‘Scalia Freakout’ ended up being the big tell about this morning’s ruling."

Update V: Mitt Romney just had his reaction televised, and you would have thought his dog had died. Well, maybe his dressage horse. Then again, maybe his wife. OK, his political fortune. Seriously, I've seen more joy expressed in eulogies.

Harold Cook has a sly take:

So to review: the Supreme Court concluded that health care reform is constitutional, including the individual mandate (although SCOTUS apparently characterized it as a tax). The Republicans will try to spin the hell out of the "tax" part, even though it's only a tax for those Americans who fail to do what is required under Mitt Romney's health care plan.

The individual mandate only exists because it was the mechanism Republicans said they liked, and the mechanism their own Presidential nominee said is essential. Then the Republicans immediately decided that their own plan was terrible, evil, and unconstitutional, because it happens to be signature legislation of a President they hate, and Republicans sued to have it overturned.

So remind me again - what aspect of affordable health care to Americans can Republicans take credit for? Zero. Less than zero. They even fought like hell against their own funding mechanism to ensure its failure. Fortunately, they have apparently failed.

Those 14 original Republican Attorneys General who sued to overturn the plan? They'll spend the rest of the day complaining, and rename "Obamacare" to "the Obamacare Tax," all without presenting a new idea of how they would have made health care affordable.

Vast and Spurious

Before the Republicans' big bad day kicks off, let's all take note of the fact that the Bureau of ATF agents allegedly involved in a Mexican gunwalking conspiracy told Fortune magazine that it didn't happen.

Never happened.

This "Fast and Furious" bullshit that conservatives have been screaming about for a couple of years turns out to be a fairy tale. A myth. An urban legend.

But they never let the facts get in the way of a lynching before. Why start now?

Has Fox News mentioned anything about it yet? As the Most Interesting Man in the World has said: "I don't always watch comedy masquerading as a news broadcast, but when I do... it's on Fox."

Just thought I'd help get this development out there before the political world explodes in a few hours over health care.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

As we wait for tomorrow's decision on health care...

Here's a little light reading.

HOUSTON – Last year, Luis Duran drove almost 200 miles to San Antonio to have a colonoscopy because he didn't want to wait six months for an opening at a county clinic.

A few days later, the doctor in San Antonio – a friend of a friend who had performed the screening for free – called to break the news that Duran, 51, had advanced colon cancer and needed immediate surgery.

"I kind of broke down," recalled Duran, a machine operator whose employer had terminated his health policy.  "I said, 'Doctor, I don't have insurance, and I don't have much money, but I won't refuse to pay. Please help me.'"

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the problem of the uninsured is no exception. The Houston metropolitan area has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in America, and a health safety net imploding under the demands of too many people and too few resources.  Almost one in three residents – more than a million people -- lack health insurance, and about 400 are turned away every day from the county hospital district's call center because they can't be accommodated at any of its 23 community or school-based centers.

Those seeking care at the public hospital's ER, meanwhile, arrive with blankets and coolers full of sandwiches and drinks in anticipation of waits that may go 24 hours or longer.

"If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, the rest of the country should take a good look at the situation in Texas, because this is what happens when you keep Medicaid enrollment as low as possible and don't undertake insurance reforms," said Elena M. Marks, a health policy scholar at Rice University's James Baker Institute for Public Policy and a former city health official.

No, they are NOT all Ill Eagles.

With its fiscally conservative philosophy and cash-strapped state budget, Texas does not offer Medicaid coverage to childless adults unless they are pregnant, disabled or elderly. Parents of children covered by welfare are eligible for the state-federal health program only if they make no more than $188 a month for a family of three.
At the same time, the proportion of Texas workers with employer-sponsored insurance is almost 10 percentage points lower than the national average of 61 percent, in part because of the state’s high concentration of jobs in the agricultural and service sectors, which often lack benefits.
"They're hourly wage earners, nannies, [people] working in lawn care services or dry cleaning or real estate, or people working two part-time jobs and neither will pay for health care," he said. "Many are small business owners who are well-educated and well-dressed."

Any Republicans you know think this is a problem? And if they do, can any of them acknowledge that something needs to be done about the problem without blaming undocumented people for the problem?

Update: "We need to accept the principle that sometimes the poor will die just because they are poor."

Grady wants a border wall; Sadler parts company with platform

Oh, the joy of conservatism in the Texas Democratic Party.

Two underfunded US Senate candidates battling for the Democratic Party's nomination squared off Tuesday in hopes of escaping the shadows of their GOP opponents and capturing a statewide victory for the first time since 1994.

A brief pause before continuing: in this post-Citizens United environment, with all of the public support for reversing the flow of money into our politics, does it disillusion anyone else that "underfunded" is still written about in the corporate media as a bad thing?

Former state Rep. Paul Sad­ler and retired educator Grady Yarbrough, who said they have spent a combined $165,000 campaigning, agreed on many of the issues including same-sex marriage, Social Security benefits and foreign policy. They split on border security and decriminalizing marijuana.

Yes. They. Did. And not just with each other, but with the majority of Texas Democrats (and possibly the entire nation).

Both applauded the court's decision to repeal parts of Arizona's immigration law. Each also said the court should have struck down the entire bill, including the provision that requires residents to provide citizenship papers to police when questioned.

The candidates differed on border security, though they agreed it is a top priority for Texans. Yarbrough said the state and federal administration should assist the Mexican government in mitigating the violence on the border. He said the United States should use "whatever method is at our disposal" to secure the border including, "I hate to refer to this, but the Berlin Wall was pretty effective."

Yes it was, Grady. At keeping people in, for a few decades at least, as long as the East German guards were crack shots with a rifle. With this remark, Yarbrough places himself to the RIGHT of Rick Perry when it comes to immigration.

Let's see how many Republican votes that gets him. Please turn on your sarcasmeter, adjust the setting to 'high', and re-read yesterday's endorsement of Yarbrough. I still mean it as much today as I did yesterday.

The candidates were divided on an issue that appears on the state Democratic Party's platform, decriminalizing and regulating marijuana.

Yarbrough supports the notion, citing medicinal use and discrimination to low-income citizens.

"There are things in everybody's platform they wish weren't there, and this is one of them," said Sadler. "The people of this country are not ready for that."

That statement is laughably and abjectly false, Mr. Sadler. And we don't have time to stand around and wait while you catch up on your reading, either. You also apparently missed my post last month on the Libertarians, who have nominated a pro-pot judge from California as vice-president.

Say whatever else you like about these two men, the truth is that neither Sadler nor Yarbrough can be mistaken for 'liberal'.

If either managed to find himself in the Capitol's upper chamber next January being sworn in, the one thing you could count on is that the spirits of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson would be alive and well despite their physical absence. Joe Manchin ain't got nothin' on them.

I will remind Texas progressives -- those that haven't already given up on voting altogether -- that they will have an excellent option on November's ballot. Sending a message to the TDP by voting Green in this race tells the party that they can no longer take your vote for granted.

It's the only way things will ever begin to change in Texas for the better.

Update: TexTrib has more and video of the debate.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Texas Democratic Senate candidates debate today

You can't watch it live, however.

If the debate between two Democrats battling for a U.S. Senate nomination debate is not broadcast live, does it make a sound?

You can follow the live-blog here.

KERA will host a second U.S. Senate debate between the Democrats who finished first and second in the May primary. Former state representative Paul Sadler and retired educator Grady Yarbrough will tape a one-hour television debate that will be broadcast on KERA Channel 13 on Wednesday, June 27 at 7 p.m. and in other Texas markets at various times.

Here are some of those other markets and times. Houston gets it on Friday evening on PBS.

Folks, I think I have to vote for Grady in the runoff.

He's from humble origins and has a great story about hitchhiking to college each day from his parents' East Texas farm. He taught in public schools for about 50 years.

He lives the simple life of a man happy with a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a nondescript, no-elevators San Antonio complex. Every two weeks or so, he fires up his 1985 pickup and drives back to East Texas to tend to his small herd of cattle.

He's friendly, the great-grandson of slaves, beholden to nobody, optimistic and informed on the issues of the day.

For Texas Democrats long aching for a statewide win, Grady Yarbrough sounds like just what the doctor ordered. And he might be, if he wasn't the headache they fear they could wake up with the morning after their July 31 U.S. Senate runoff.

Beyond the sheer hilarity of the utter futility of it, Yarbrough has populist history on his side (and I'm not talking about his non-existent familial association with Ralph, either).

He's always run shoestring campaigns, depending, perhaps, on a name that could remind some folks of U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough, who served from 1957 to 1970. Yarbrough rejects the Yarborough theory.
"If my name resembles someone who may have served in the United States Senate some 35-40 years ago, living or dead, it's purely coincidental," he said, insisting any name recognition he enjoys stems from his three previous statewide races.
And if Yarbrough has benefited from the name game, there's evidence he's also suffered from it. He lost the 1986 GOP land commissioner runoff to M.D. Anderson Jr., who had nothing to do with the renowned cancer hospital. (For the record, Paul Sadler has nothing to do with Jerry Sadler, who held a variety of offices from 1938 through 1970. And I'm not former Glendora, Calif., Mayor Ken Herman.) FYI, Yarbrough ran in 1994 as Grady Yarborough. His mistake, he says.

But seriously... didn't some fellow do this once before?

The Dems' 1996 nominee was Victor Morales, an East Texas teacher who drove a white pickup truck (a 1992 Nissan that was Bentleyesque compared to Yarbrough's Chevy) to a surprising primary win over two incumbent U.S. House members. Morales lost to GOP Sen. Phil Gramm.

A real Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; an actual citizen populist. Name recognition-surfing and prior Republican branding aside -- or maybe together -- this is the perfect, tried-and-true candidate for Texas Democrats. He's got my full support (but only for the runoff).

And if he wins, just think of all the thousands of dollars Texas Democrats can save by not donating to his campaign. Why, that will leave them more to send to President Obama -- who, in keeping with tradition himself, won't spend any of it in Texas -- or to one of those tightly contested Senate races in places like Massachusetts.

Grady Yarbrough for US Senate. It's proud Texas Democratic tradition, for Jeebus' sake.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The First Weekly One Hundred Degree Wrangle (of 2012)

The Texas Progressive Alliance is in search of a shady spot and a cold beverage as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the Democratic DA primary and the race for HCDP Chair in Harris County.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson posts about striking janitors in Houston and tax payer give-aways to corporations: Texas is a cheap labor state, and it shows.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wonders out loud if the new chair of the Texas Democratic Party might have some explaining to do about the goings-on in Cameron County.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to know that tort reform didn't lower health care costs.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw writes about what is obvious to everyone with half a brain. Sadly, it still has to be said: Voters voted for Jobs in 2010. The GOP Delivered Witchhunts.

Neil at Texas Liberal offered thoughts on the death of Rodney King.

Half a loaf, not a day old and still stale

Unlike Richard Dunham, I just don't see this as being a 'big win' for Obama.

The Supreme Court's conservative bloc divided in two this morning, allowing President Obama to score a legal victory in the closely watched Arizona immigration case.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, a nominee of President Reagan, wrote the 5-3 majority opinion that struck down several key provisions of the Arizona immigration law, known as SB 1070. Those provisions designated it a state crime to seek work without a work permit, fail to carry immigration registration documents or allow the arrest an individual suspected of committing a crime that could lead to deportation from the United States.
Kennedy was joined by President George W. Bush's choice for Chief Justice, John Roberts, as well as Democratic selections Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

Justice Elena Kagan, who worked on the case during her time as President Obama's Solicitor General, did not take part in the decision.
The three most conservative justices -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito -- dissented. An impassioned Alito read extensive excerpts from his dissenting opinion in the court chamber this morning.
The court did not strike down the state's right to permit police to routinely check the immigration status of people stopped for other reasons.

The Wicked Witch of the West also claimed victory.

Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, said that the decision -- which did not strike down the police enforcement provision -- upholds "the heart of SB1070." She promised that Arizona law enforcement would careful guard the civil rights of suspected illegal immigrants. The governor added that police officers who crossed the line into racially profiling would be punished.

But this next is flawed rationale IMHO.

The victory was a big political win for President Obama, who intervened in the case against the Arizona law. It's a setback for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who called the Arizona enforcement provisions a "model" for state immigration laws.
Kennedy's ruling declared that "the national government has significant power to regulate immigration" and that Arizona or other states "may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
That was exactly the argument made by the Obama administration during oral arguments on the case.

Dunham provides more perspective for his headline here, but I'm still not buying it. It's a legal win but not a political win. I spent considerable time in the past few months telling Democrats that the expected upholding of this law could be used as political momentum; in effect that the motivation to turn out Latinos -- particularly on the strength of last week's executive order on the DREAM Act -- would catapult the grassroots efforts to get out all of the vote for the president in November.

They don't get that push with this ruling. Meanwhile the conservatives have a fresh Outrage O'Day. Just read the comments at the links above if you want a clue.

So the spin -- "it's good/bad that most of the law was struck down", "it's good/bad that the key component of the law was upheld" -- is in both directions, and on both sides.

I think it's remarkable that the conservative bloc on the Court fractured, and I think it's halfway good for Latinos in the long run, especially with the disembowelment of much of Arizona's -- along with the other states' rights bills lined up behind it -- law dealing with immigration.

But the worst part of it remains; upholding the racial profiling is simply heinous. Joe Arpaio will continue to arrest and detain innocent people who by virtue of their complexion "look" illegal, and his atrocities are well-documented. That's not a win for anybody, I don't care how large a bigot you are.

This is half a loaf, and it's not even a day old and still tastes stale to me.


Update: OK, let's go ahead and call it a win.

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court approved Arizona law enforcement officers’ authority to demand “papers please” from suspected illegal immigrants, the Obama administration moved to mitigate the on-the-street impact by suspending Arizona authorities’ instant access to the immigration database used to determine the legal status of questioned or arrested suspects.

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, a former governor, attorney general and federal prosecutor in Arizona, abruptly suspended the so-called 287 (g) program in Arizona that deputizes local and state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws and provides them access to federal immigration files in order to do that.


The significance of her action means that illegal immigrants stopped and questioned by law enforcement officers in Arizona under provisions upheld by the Supreme Court will not be prosecuted by federal authorities unless they have committed crimes beyond unlawful residence, have repeatedly violated immigration laws or are recent arrivals who entered the country illegally.


Meanwhile, we get to wait until later in the week for a decision on ObamaCares. My opinion of that ruling is the same as it was for this one: if the SCOTUS strikes it down, the Democrats should be able to gain tremendous enthusiasm for November. And its repeal -- together with a Democratic House and Senate -- might just be enough to get a single-payer universal health care law passed in 2013. If the Democrats can manage to do then what they were unable to in 2009.

We shall wait a few more days and see.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Does Gilberto Hinojosa have some explaining to do?

In my post wrapping up the Democratic and Republican state conventions two weekends ago, I referenced some things others -- mostly RGV Tea Partiers -- had written about Gilberto Hinojosa, who prior to his election as state party chair served as a district judge in Cameron County.

I discounted most of that as sour grape partisan whining. Now there seems to be more to it than that. People keep getting tried and convicted who were involved in the sordid affair. Details, you say?

-- First, the racketeering trial of attorney Ray Marchan concluded last week with a guilty verdict and included testimony from former state district judge Abel Limas -- who himself pleaded guilty to racketeering last year -- which identified both Hinojosa and state Representative Rene Oliveira as pay-to-players. The excerpt:

Limas himself has offered compelling testimony, describing how he made ends meet on a judge's salary by squeezing attorneys for a piece of the action. What emerged was a convoluted explanation of friends who helped him versus friends who bribed him — and some major Cameron County name-dropping.

The ones he said helped him included state Rep. Rene Oliveira, heard in a phone conversation telling Limas: “I've got my pants on — on my knees,” and former Brownsville Mayor Eddie Treviño, who slipped him $2,000 as a campaign donation that went unreported.

Another big name came up in the testimony of Mark Gripka, the FBI agent who began investigating Limas in 2007. According to a Brownsville Herald report from afternoon testimony Wednesday, Gripka said Limas had named former Cameron County judge and newly elected Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa as another who paid him.

Limas said there was in his mind a clear difference between loans and gifts and “bribes,” a word he had to be prodded to use.

-- In the course of researching that, there was also this: an alleged vote-fixing scheme during Hinojosa's tenure as judge. As that allegation is almost two years old, it has all but fallen down the memory hole. So far I can find no public record of whether or how the complaint might have been resolved.

What I'm confused about is how there was no mention of any of this business in the run-up to Hinojosa's election as Democratic state party chair. The establishment in fact lined up behind him in droves, like state representative Joaquin Castro, one of the keynoters at the convention, as well as several other state reps like Oliviera, whose taped telephone conversation here revealed his complicity in the racketeering scheme.

“Man, I need I need a big, big favor,” Oliveira told Limas.

“We f----d up on a case,” Oliveira told Limas, who served as judge of the 404th district from 2001 through the end of 2008.

“We have to try (the case), but I need to buy some more time,” Oliveira said, noting that the firm stood to lose the client.

Oliveira said that attorney Randall Crane, who represented the opposing party, had him “by the b---s.”

Oliveira indicated in the conversation that an associate would attend the hearing and seek more time, and that Crane was going to go “ballistic.”

Oliveira asked Limas to “pretend” not to know. Before indicating to Oliveira that things would work out, Limas told Oliveira that Crane was trying to have attorney Ray R. Marchan sanctioned and that he does not sanction attorneys.

Did I miss the discussion among Democrats about Hinojosa's involvement in these matters? Did the powers-that-be decide it amounted to nothing? Were they so intent on anointing Hinojosa that no amount of scandal would stop them from doing so? Is this just the way politics is run in the Rio Grande Valley and people just turn their head and look the other way every time it goes down?

And if Hinojosa doesn't want to explain anything now, as he begins to implement his overhaul of the Texas Democratic Party... is there anybody else that would? Help a brother out here, please.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Senatorial hopefuls debate

The two Democrats competing in the July 31 runoff for U.S. Senate are set to participate in a televised debate on Tuesday, June 26.

The one-hour debate between former state Rep. Paul Sadler, of Henderson, and retired educator Grady Yarbrough will be hosted by KERA, the Dallas PBS affiliate that is also hosting a debate this Friday between the Republican candidates in the Senate race, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

More details at the TexTrib. You can watch the two ReBloodlicans go at it live but not the pair of DemoCrips (yes, I stole that from Jesse Ventura). Meanwhile the Green and the Libertarian will continue to try to attract some media attention so that corporate-sponsored media will report on something besides the two-party duopoly.

Grady Yarbrough is of course the joke candidate in the Democratic runoff, but not even my preferred candidate's endorsement of the East Texas Blue Dog is enough to sway me in this contest.

Moderate conservatives will have two choices in November... either one of the Democrats and the Libert, but neither jerk that wins the R primary. Liberals and progressives will only have one, and his name is David Collins.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rubio ends his bid for veep

It was a self-inflicted wound.

While discussing immigration policy in his new memoir, "An American Son," Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called for "common decency" in dealing with undocumented immigrants and said that if put in a similar position as those who are fleeing destitution, he would break the law, too.

"Many people who come here illegally are doing exactly what we would do if we lived in a country where we couldn't feed our families," Rubio writes in his book, which went on sale Tuesday.  "If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn't give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn't a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here."

Two conclusions:

1. Rubio isn't going to be the vice-presidential pick now, whether he is actually being vetted for the post or not. The xenophobes, bigots, and Minutemen who comprise the base of the Republican party won't be able to look past this betrayal. They'll quit on Romney in waves if he were to pick Rubio now.

2. The immigration issue is now resolved for all but the dregs of society's conservatives. "Deport 'em all" joins "Obama is a Kenyan Muslim" as a declaration of the certifiably insane. No one except a few criminals are going to continue to be deported ... at least until after the election. Whatever the SCOTUS decides about Arizona's immigration law in the next few days is irrelevant to the national question, because if AZ or AL or other states make it illegal to have brown skin (and the SCOTUS upholds their right to do so) then Mexicans will simply vote with their feet again. Many are already returning to Mexico, where the emotional toll of being partly of two countries -- and all of neither -- is weighing on the children the most (as usual).

Not that Republicans give a damn -- the Romney campaign is still trying to decide whether to shit or wind their wristwatch --  but that is the moral imperative of making comprehensive immigration reform a priority. After November, naturally.

Update: And apparently Chris Christie got some assistance shooting his vice-presidential aspirations in the foot (since he can't see either one without a full-length, double-wide mirror).

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone had a happy Father's Day as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff did an interview with State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Republicans' top target in November.  

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says the Texas GOP is getting set to raise taxes on working and middle classes Texans again. Here comes the next wave in the assault on health care and public education in Texas.

Refinish69 at Doing my Part for the Left wonders WTF? Has the entire country lost its mind?

Neil at Texas Liberal attended a march of Houston janitors lwho are ooking for nothing more than a more fair wage for the work they do. This post has two videos of the arrest of one of these peaceful marchers by aggressive Houston police officers on horseback.

At TexasKaos, lightseeker points out that all of a sudden somebody at the national level gets it: the Dems have NO Brand! Check it out... It's the Branding, Stupid!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Democrats' Latino mirage *update*

Terrence McCoy at the Houston Press asked some really discomfiting questions this week. His article is blunt and brutally direct.

The quixotically optimistic Texas Democrats -- who haven't won a statewide election since 1994 -- bellowed a lot of things at the Texas Democratic Convention last weekend, but, really, most of it seemed to translate to one refrain.

All together now: The Hispanics are going to save us! The Hispanics are going to save us!

Gawd, this again? They've been rapping this for a decade now while amid the political wilds, pointing to charts, delivering diatribes en español and citing statistics which, admittedly, are staggering: Hispanics account for 38 percent of the Texas population, 44 percent of Houston's -- and nearly 4 million Latinos across the state can vote. By 2040, Hispanics will account for an absolute majority in Texas. This shift of tectonic proportion may remake Texas politics -- but there's just one teensie-weensie problem. For Democrats, for Republicans, for Latino issues in general. Hispanics don't vote.

Democrats may presage the looming Hispanic vote, but the percentage of residents in this demographic who actually do so has, in fact, dropped. In 2004, roughly 42 percent of Latinos went to the polls. Then, in 2008, that number deflated to 38 percent. Two years ago, even lower: around 22 percent. Across the nation, the population of registered Hispanic voters shriveled from 11.6 million in 2008 to 10.9 million in 2010.

So what's going to make this year any different?

Oh, maybe this.

Asked by pollsters, Latino voters overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. So much so, in fact, that if Republicans don't cut into that support, Mitt Romney's chances fall to virtually zero.

Republicans have certainly mismanaged their relationship with Latino voters. There is no love for the GOP. But the Obama Administration appears hell-bent on doing everything possible to put the Latino vote back in contention. How? By maintaining a callous and deeply unpopular deportation policy.  [...]

There is no way to understate the effect of this news. It has dominated Spanish language media, and cynical Republicans have jumped at the opportunity to show fake concern for the results. It has given Sen. Marco Rubio a chance to grandstand with his own inadequate version of the DREAM Act, while Republicans blast (legitimately, for once) the administration for breaking its promises on immigration reform. As a result of this intense media focus, the Latino community is incredibly well informed on the issue—they'll speak to you about "prosecutorial discretion" and know who John Morton is (do you?).

As one attendee at Netroots Nation noted at a panel on immigration reform—a temporary halt to deportations for non-criminal undocumented immigrants would be worth tens of millions of dollars in Spanish-language television ads for the Obama campaign.

Instead, the Spanish-language media is dominated by stories about Obama's broken promises—first, his promises to tackle the issue in the first year of his presidency (which he didn't bother doing), and second, his promise to reduce the number of deportations. Believe it or not, splitting up families is not good politics.

This administration has deported more people than previous Republican administrations. Yet he hasn't gained a single vote from the nativist xenophobic Right. Not only would halting non-criminal deportations be the humane thing to do, it would also be good electoral politics.

If the Obama administration is trying to find the right time to make a (semi-)genuine appeal to Latinos, right about now would be good.


Update: And just like that...*snap*

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

(Other election advisories will remain in effect.)


If they would rather keep squandering yet another opportunity to salt away this election, then perhaps they had better just shift their focus to female voters instead. Because every day things like this happen, the more galvanized the opposition to the Misogynist Caucus of the GOP becomes. I picked up this bumper sticker last weekend from the TDW; it's perfect.

Then again, if the Democrats keep failing to get it re: Latinos, women, etc.,  there's always another option.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Texas Greens build momentum

This ought to piss off both Carl Whitmarsh and Bethany a little more. And that's never a bad thing. (Update: Noting the correction sent out by cewdem last weekend, he did not make the erroneous assertion. Somebody *ahem* put colored words on his e-mail. Or something.)

From the San Antonio Current:

David Collins walked to the front of the Hill Country cabin with a green toga draped over shirt, tie and slacks, a throwback, he said, to mankind's first republic: the Roman Senate. "The toga has great symbolic significance for me," he said, "and I've felt myself to be politically and spiritually green for a long time." Staring down at the getup, Collins laughed. "I would run for office naked if I thought the Green Party would benefit from it."

Collins, a Houston-based longshot candidate for Texas' open U.S. Senate seat, was among a smattering of candidates and activists working to dismantle the country's two-party dominated political system meeting at a small Hill Country retreat in Grey Forest Saturday and Sunday for the Green Party of Texas' convention. Far outside the clubby, insidery scenes of political officialdom on display in Houston and Fort Worth at the weekend's state Democratic and Republican conventions, Texas Greens held a quiet, low-key gathering on the outskirts of San Antonio to tap nominees and chat philosophy, politics, and revolution.

You really need to read the whole piece. Laugh, cry, gnash your teeth, get motivated to help or power up to thwart, whatever floats your boat.

The Texas Greens ultimately, and unsurprisingly, threw support behind Jill Stein for the party's nomination for president. Stein, who once ran against Mitt Romney for governor of Massachusetts, says her win in the California primary last week guaranteed her place as the Green Party nominee for president at the party's national convention in Baltimore next month. Sitcom comedienne and celebrity Roseanne Barr, who didn't show at the Texas convention, spoke to Texas Green members via phone conference Saturday, saying she'd continue to seek the Green nomination for president.

Stein, an eloquent Harvard-educated physician keen on quoting Frederick Douglass ("Power concedes nothing without a demand") and Alice Walker ("The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any"), seems to embody the type of voter Greens across the country are fighting to win over: liberals, progressives, peace activists, and environmentalists who feel ditched by rightward-drifting Democrats.

Stein wrote off the so-called spoiler effect of third parties, that the major impact is to tip close races between Democrats and Republicans by siphoning off small, crucial pieces of the party base. "We've been told to be quiet, that this silence is an effective strategy," she said. "Well, how's that 'lesser evil' thing working out for you exactly? … We have assured the policies of expansive war, of ignoring a climate meltdown, of economic collapse by silencing ourselves as the only real, non-corporate voice of public interest," she said. "So many progressives have muzzled themselves."

More Jill Stein, from last weekend's convention outside San Antone.

Texas is thisclose to qualifying for federal matching funds. When that happens, the momentum hits a higher gear.

Finally, a terrific Q&A with Kat Swift, Bexar County godmother of the Texas Green Party, which resolves some of the lingering mythological questions people always seem to have about the Greens. Didn't they keep Al Gore from getting elected in 2000? (No.) Didn't they take Republican money to get on the ballot in 2010? (Not exactly, no.)

Go read the whole two things from the SAC and then let's hear what you have to say about it in the comments.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Infuriating news roundup

This bothers me.

A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.

The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration's trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.

"The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch in a written statement.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has been so incensed by the lack of access as to introduce legislation requiring further disclosure. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has gone so far as to leak a separate document from the talks on his website. Other Senators are considering writing a letter to Ron Kirk, the top trade negotiator under Obama, demanding more disclosure.

Wasn't Ron Kirk just speaking to Texas Democrats last week? Doubt he mentioned this.

So if it's the union's rapid response, and not just their long-planned strategy as I have suspected, then this doesn't actually bother me all that much. (Actually it doesn't bother me much either way but I'm sure it bothers some Democrats.)

The AFL-CIO has told Washington Whispers it will redeploy funds away from political candidates smack dab in the middle of election season, the latest sign that the largest federation of unions in the country could be becoming increasingly disillusioned with President Obama.

The federation says the shift has been in the works for months, and had nothing to do with the president's failure to show in Wisconsin last week, where labor unions led a failed recall election of Governor Scott Walker.

"We wanted to start investing our funds in our own infrastructure and advocacy," AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein told Whispers. "There will be less contributions to candidates," including President Obama.

While there were "a lot of different opinions" about whether Obama should have gone to Wisconsin, according to Goldstein, "this is not a slight at the president."

The AFL-CIO has been at odds with the president before Wisconsin on issues such as the public health insurance option and renewing the Bush tax cuts.

The union leaders aren't happy about the Democratic national convention being held in a non-union town. Charlotte, and the Tar Heel state in general, have a few other simmering issues. Here in Houston last week, several union leaders were, and probably are still feuding with each other -- and other Democrats -- after a handful of their lackeys on the SDEC got turned out of office.

(I say 'lackeys' because, by my observation over several years, their membership on the SDEC served as nothing but a resume' embellishment for upward mobility in their respective unions. They were mostly furniture when it came to the SDEC's work.)

Labor in the United States and most certainly in Texas is at low tide and going lower. They need an entirely new paradigm, and a new generation of leaders to implement it. Update: Locally again, Houston janitors represented by the SEIU have gotten expressions of support from Mayor Annise Parker and statehouse candidate Gene Wu...

Houston has posted strong growth number in many sectors for several quarters. The mega-corporations that are housed in downtown Houston are again making record profits. So what do the cleaning companies offer the custodians and janitors who take care of downtown get? A ten cents per hour increase per year. That's right, they can buy an extra pack of gum each day, assuming they work 14 or more hours that day. 

ABC news ( ) reported that these workers make on average $9,000 a year.  I was floored when I read that. That's $3,000 below the US poverty level for an individual; and $10,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. No one ever said it would be easy, but it shouldn't be this hard. I'm not saying that people should be rich as janitors, but people who do an honest day's work should at least be able to take care of their own basic survival.

Mayor Parker has released a statement (  But, I don't see much of anyone else taking a stand with the Janitors. 

All Democrats should be rallying around SEIU's efforts. Post about it on Facebook; Tweet it; and post it on your blogs.  Send SEIU Local 1 (Houston) an email showing your support; better yet send them a small contribution so they can help out the families of workers who have already been blocked from returning to work after going on strike.

A good first step would be for labor to identify their allies in local and statehouse races and work to get those people elected in order to try to protect their public pensions, among other things. A challenger who can defeat this piece of shit in 2013 would be a great place to start.

Speaking of pieces of shit...

This infuriates some people, but I'm not one of them.

One of the many decapitated heads that appeared on "Game of Thrones" last season was a prop likeness of former President George W. Bush, its creators revealed in a DVD commentary.

In the tenth episode of the first season, Sansa Stark looks at several heads on spikes. One belongs to her father, Ned, and another to the former United States president.

Show creators pointed out their use of Bush's image, but said they weren't making a political statement. (Someone using the name SidIncoginto on Reddit pointed out Bush's inclusion, and io9, which picked up on the oddity, has video.)

"The last head on the left is George Bush," says David Benioff, one of the show's co-creators, in the DVD commentary.

"George Bush's head appears in a couple beheading scenes," adds co-creator D.B. Weiss.
"It's not a choice, it's not a political statement," explains Benioff. "It's just, we had to use what heads we had around."

Speaking of heads, some conservative ones are definitely exploding.

Update: I smell wussy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, and Jim Gray on Progressive Radio Network

As you can see, the event is happening as I am posting. If you see this in time, listen live on Progressive Radio Network.


Saving Our Democracy from Duopoly

THIS MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012, at 7pm (ET) / 4pm (PT):
A Blockbuster Radio Event on Saving Our Democracy from Duopoly
Featuring all three of the most popular third-party 2012 candidates, in a roundtable discussion about the deficiencies of our two-party system.

Presidential Candidates (Green Party) and (), plus Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential Candidate will join us LIVE in a conversation facilitated and moderated by Gary Null on The Progressive Commentary Hour — exclusively on The Progressive Radio Network.

Never before have these three been brought together in such a forum. Never before have third-party candidates had so much to agree on. We will ask them to join forces, to acknowledge their differences, but also to recognize how crucial it is in this time in American history to put up a united front against the partisan bickering and corporatocracy that rules Washington and erodes the people’s power.

Join us Monday, June 11, for this incredible event, spread the word to friends, send us your questions for the candidates, and let’s take back our democracy with the help of these remarkable minds.

I'll post some thoughts on the conversations at the conclusion.

Update: Still digesting all that I heard. If you'd like to listen for yourself, below is the embedded, archived recording of last night's program.

Rocky Anderson:

"American voters deserve to hear from more than two people and two parties. Over the past four years, for good reason, 2.5 million voters have left both the Republican and Democratic parties. They are fed up with the current system controlled by the .01%. Third party candidates have a great deal to say and they will not be muzzled by the corporate billions spent to buy the election."

"Fifty-four percent of voters say they want a new political party. We’re here."

Jill Stein:

One hundred and forty-six million people – that’s nearly one in every two Americans – are now living below or near the poverty level. The stress falls hardest on our most vulnerable and disadvantaged, with the majority of children, half of our elders, three quarters of Latinos, and two thirds of African Americans living in or near poverty.

Last year, one million Americans lost their health insurance, raising the numbers of the uninsured to almost 50 million of our people. Over 6 million Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure.

Overall, nearly 25 million Americans are unemployed or unable to find full time work. And even those who have jobs are struggling, because wages have been declining for American workers, and are now lower on average than in 1996. Household income has fallen faster since the official end of the recession than during the recession itself, because the so-called “recovery” is made up of mostly low-paying jobs.

While the economy is not working for the vast majority, it does work for a privileged few.

America’s creed is “With Liberty and Justice for All.” That is a creed of equality. But right now we are experiencing the worst economic inequality in our nation’s history. The gap between the very rich and the many poor has never been so great. The wealthiest 1% in America now own as much wealth as 90% of all Americans. Such inequality is unacceptable, unconscionable, and un-American.

Jim Gray:

I do not want to "legalize" anything. When you think of the legalization of drugs, think of aspirin. There are no restrictions on advertising, quantity, age of purchaser, or location of sale, and the price is set by the free market. What I wish to install is a system of the strictly regulated distribution of some of these drugs -- starting with marijuana. This would be similar to what we do now with tobacco and alcohol. And in order to keep the marijuana from being advertised, the government would have to own the product. Would there be problems? Of course, because as I said, no program is perfect.

But this system would be far, far, far better than what we are doing now. In fact, anything would be better than what we are doing now.

(Some contend that) people will no longer need to commit crimes in order to pay for their drug use. That is silly. But that crime would be greatly reduced. Look at the results in Portugal, where they decriminalized the use of all drugs back in 2001. In 2009 Glenn Greenwald of the CATO Institute published a report about the results and he observed that overall drug usage became slightly lower, but problem drug usage was reduced by about half.

Now that the government was no longer spending such large amounts of money on the investigation, prosecution, and incarceration of drug-addicted people, they had much more money to use for drug treatment. So those treatment programs were funded. This is seen as a truly effective program, and is one we should not only study, we should emulate. [...]

And if we followed the experience of Holland, where all drugs were decriminalized several decades ago, after 6 to 12 to maybe 18 months, probably usage would decrease as well. The Minister of Health of Holland held a news conference numbers of years ago and said that their country, where anyone 16 years of age or older can go to a coffee house and get marijuana, they only have half the marijuana usage per capita as we do in the United States -- even for teenagers!! And then he went on to explain why by saying that "We have succeeded in making pot boring." Of course, we glamorize it in our country by having it illegal, and by having an incredible profit margin to sell it to us, our neighbors and our children. We must learn from Holland's experience.

The Weekly post-conventions Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is back from the state conventions and focused on the fall as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff reminds you that your voter registration status is in the hands of a bureaucrat who might mistake you for someone else.

 BossKitty at TruthHugger knows why politicians always hire professional marketers. Americans have been conditioned to react predictably, and marketers know how to sway the voter and consumer. That's why America is Pavlov’s Dog.

The James Cargas campaign sunk to a new low over the weekend with an e-mail to precinct chairs criticizing a single mother's primary voting record. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reminds voters of Congressional District 7 that there's a corporate Democrat and a community Democrat running for the Democratic nomination, and which one represents the party in November should be a very easy choice, no matter where on the spectrum you fall.  

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says it's time for Democrats to change tactics and advocate for the poor, working and middle classes again. There is nothing left to lose.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted about 2012 Juneteenth observances and celebrations in Galveston, Houston and College Station. This post also has Juneteenth history links. Juneteenth 2012 is on Tuesday, June 19.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Texas Dems elect a Latino chair; Rs add guest worker program to platform

Which really tells you everything you need to know about the two major parties.

Gilberto Hinojosa, the  state Democratic Party’s newly elected chairman, is a 59-year-old Brownsville attorney and former Cameron County judge. He’s the first Latino party chairman.

I congratulate Judge Hinojosa on his election. But as I have written previously, Texas Dems had a choice between a progressive Latina or a Boyd Richie-endorsed conserva-Latino, and they went with the latter.

In the article above, there are some disturbing cut-and-pastes in the comments from "San Benito"; they are not unattributed but there is was a comment linking to a blog article that also provides an opinion about the incident in question, a fraudulent vote-counting maneuver a play-for-pay scheme in South Texas during Hinojosa's tenure involving state distict judge Abel Limas, Hinojosa, and Rep. Rene Oliveira. I don't want to repeat the allegations here; they're just too iffy to consider seriously without complete sourcing. *ed. note: strike-throughs made on 6/16/12 to reflect update below.

[Sidebar: See, we bloggers can write a lot of things about a lot of people, but IMO if you're anonymous (even though a recent Texas Supreme Court decision on a local libel case upheld it as First Amendment privilege) and if you don't cite your sources -- a standard higher than most corporate media reaches these days -- then you are just not as credible as you can be.]


Update: Citation and details of the judicial corruption trial of Limas Ray Marchan here. Here also is the account of the alleged vote-counting fraud involving Hinojosa, which was conflated in the strike-through above. Full post on these developments is here.


It's a shame that there are dark clouds swirling around Hinojosa even as he assumes office. I would not have supported him based on Richie's endorsement alone. I believe that Boyd Richie was a proven failed leader of the party for too long, and I welcomed the regime change. I had -- though diminished with this rumor, still have --  a small amount of hope that Hinojosa can follow through on reforming the Texas Democratic Party such that it can win a statewide election in this cycle.

That's probably still too much to hope for. Twenty-fourteen, perhaps?

So I'll move on from that to point out that the Republicans thought they did something clever with their party platform.

Late Friday night, Texas Republicans approved an unprecedented change to their official party platform: a call for a national guest-worker program.

The more moderate language is a welcoming gesture to Hispanics who have avoided the GOP because of what they view as its hardline position on immigration issues.

"It takes away a tool that Democrats have used for years to drive a wedge between conservative Hispanics and Republicans," said's Bob Price, who is also a delegate at the Republican Party's state convention.

Ah, no it isn't and no it doesn't. And I am once again disillusioned by the new corporate-sponsored media's attempt to portray this as a "welcoming gesture". And let's please shut up the right-wing clamoring that economic refugees are a problem at all. If there is any problem (I remain convinced that immigrant labor and their tax contributions are a boon to the US economy) it's the fault of the businesses -- excuse me, "job creators" -- that hire them.

Oh, the Rethugs have raw milk and motherhood planks also. Don't ask me to explain it. Ask them.

Meanwhile, the Texas Democratic Party wrote a platform that includes marriage equality, repeal of the death penalty, and decriminalization of marijuana. (The party's website still has 2010's platform as of this posting but did send an e-mail with all of the details. By the time you click this link tomorrow it may be there). Update: Here's the .pdf.

Now that's what progress looks like.

You may recall that when the old-guard SDEC failed to pass similar resolutions for the May 29th primary ballot, that was the last straw for me. And a party platform that now includes them as well as young fresh blood on the SDEC are both good signs, but let's not kid ouselves. In the words of a former Tea Party warrior/darling:

“Clearly these people feel strongly about (the party platform),” said convention-goer and former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, noting delegates’ late-night meeting. “And yet most of our candidates never even bother to read the thing.”

That's pretty much how I feel. The platforms don't match the power of the wind generated from the discussions in the process of writing them.

But hey, glacial progress is still progress. Some people see it as a glacier calving an iceberg and then rolling over, creating a tsunami. Far be it from me to disparage that feeling.

Finally, I look forward to a blog post from Mean Rachel after reading this...

Attending her first Democratic state convention, social media enthusiast Rachel Farris of Austin was less than impressed. Farris, 28, whose blog is called “Mean Rachel,” said the best thing the party could do as far as she was concerned is start over. Farris stood toward the back of the convention hall, while on the stage in the distance U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler spoke to a distracted crowd. Sadler, a respected former legislator, hasn’t held office since 2003.

“In social media, everyone has found their own personality,” Farris said. “The Democratic Party needs to find its personality. We need leadership. We need people who are willing to take risks. I’m an agitator, so I think it’s time for a change.”

Longtime party activist Deece Eckstein, also of Austin, didn’t disagree with Farris. “Now the brand is completely dinged,” he said. “We’re Edsels. We need to come out with a Ford Mustang. I don’t think it’s going to be a person. It’s going to be an idea.”

Too bad for the Castro twins.

Who's the real Democrat, indeed

A precinct chair in CD-07 sent me a copy of the following -- well, there's just no other word for it -- unhinged response from the James Cargas campaign, drafted and distributed sometime during this past weekend's state party convention.

It's simply an uncareful and overly emotional answer to this post, if you needed background. Rather than respond to my account of the dirty, underhanded espionage his campaign performed on the Lissa Squiers campaign, he instead sent out the following:

Lissa Squiers has never voted in a Democratic Primary until this May after she suddenly decided to be a Democratic candidate.  NGP VAN, the Democratic Party’s voter database, shows that James Cargas voted in the four out of the last five Democratic Parties; Squiers’ record is void of any participation in primary elections (this year being the only exception) during the past ten years, the period of data retained in NGP VAN.  (Copies of Squiers and Cargas’ NGP VAN voting records are attached)
“To call yourself a Democrat at minimum means you publically declare yourself a Democrat when you vote in the party’s primary,” said James Cargas, candidate for the democratic nomination for 7th Congressional District. “Calling yourself a staunch Democrat means you care deeply about good candidates advancing and ultimately winning elections,” he continued, “it means you have to show up and vote for them.”

In light of her lack of tangible Democratic credentials, it is shameful that Squiers has been questioning Cargas’ three decades of Democratic roots.

“For thirty years, I have fought and defended democratic values,” James Cargas said.  “If working in the Clinton Administration, and on the campaigns of every Democratic nominee for President since I was 18 isn’t democratic enough, I don’t know what constitutes being a Democrat!”  Cargas was a paid campaign staffer for Gore2000 in DC, Iowa and Texas.  More recently, he was invited to work for then Sen. Barack Obama in Canal Winchester, Ohio, as suburb of Columbus, in the 2008 election.

Further telling is her deep association with the Green Party, including Perry Dorrell, a self-described Green Party Delegate, activist and blogger, and who also serves her campaign as communications director.Squires was not a delegate to this weekend's Democratic State Convention in Houston.  Cargas was a delegate from Senate District 13.

In addition to her voting record and claim to be a stauch Democrat, Lissa Squiers has made numerous other misrepresentations about herself, James Cargas, and candidate Cargas’ wife throughout this campaign.  The Democratic Party and the electorate deserve better leadership.  They deserve James Cargas.

-- First, I will let Ms. Squiers address his "concerns" about her voting history. She can speak for herself in that regard. As has been the pattern, it's nothing James Cargas' campaign in their most feverish of dreams can understand or relate to. She will do that in a response of her own sent to the same people who received the above. I will point you to this statement detailing her full-time involvement in volunteer efforts on behalf of children's education, women's rights, and equality issues during and following the years she spent raising her children.

-- I find it out-loud laughable that Cargas brags about being a "paid campaign staffer for Gore2000". Is there anything you won't do for money, sir?

-- It is false -- not just wildly exaggerative but downright wrong -- that Squiers has a "deep association" with the Green Party. The only semi-Green she knows is me. And as for me being bluish-green, this is ground I've covered several times, beginning here. Now to be clear, Cargas is fairly pointing out Ms. Squiers' associations; I have quite obviously done the same with his. He may be right that there are Houston-area Democrats who don't like Greens, or even *gasp* don't care much for me. It has long been my experience that Democrats dislike Republicans a whole lot more. And as I have noted time and time again, his campaign is full of them.

-- I am NOT Ms. Squiers' communications director. That statement is abjectly false. There is no one who has this title in her campaign. She has NO paid staff. As I have said repeatedly, I am a volunteer activist. That would be volunteer as in "unpaid".

Speaking of being paid (again), the Cargas campaign raised about $28,000 -- mostly from people who have the letters "CEO", or "M.D." or the words "energy consultant" as employment descriptions -- and spent about $13,000, according to their 4/15/12 FEC filing, as compared to Squiers' approximate $1000. She in fact raised and spent about 30 cents a vote compared to his approximate $20/vote.  His campaign expenditures, hilariously enough, include the purchase of an I-Pad ... and I-Pad accessories. Really. Go look at page 30, the last page (and page 18 for the accessories).

We don't need to be reminded that the Cargas campaign plays fast and loose with the numbers, do we? So whom would you trust more when it came to making decisions about the federal budget?

-- The "numerous misrepresentations" part is just another echo of Hector Carreno's previous missives. They keep saying things of this nature without providing any correcting narrative.

That's because everything I have written is 100% accurate, and they know it. If anything I wrote -- or more to the point, that someone else wrote that I linked to -- was even slightly false or misrepresentative... well, Cargas is an attorney. He ought to be able to know what to do about that.

But all I keep hearing is this "she's saying mean things about me" whining. If I ever do meet James Cargas, the first thing I'm going to say to him is: "Man up, buddy. Pull up your big boy Underoos and grow some tolerance for a contested primary."

If James Cargas wants to pick a fight with a woman, that's his business. It's not very professional or even manly business, but it does reveal another unsavory side of his character.

If James Cargas wants to pick a fight with me, we can certainly have one.

James Cargas isn't worthy of one single Democratic vote in CD-07, IMO. He is in fact the worst Democratic candidate I have researched in a very long time. From his slimy business associations with quasi-Republicans to his disgusting personal conduct toward Ms. Squiers in pursuit of the nomination, Cargas consistently reveals himself as a greedy, contemptuous one-percenter. That's Republican behavior personified, folks, and that's what I'm referring to when I call him a Republican. Voting history and campaign work notwithstanding, he's the Democratic equivalent of Smokey Joe Barton.

There are several reasons why Cargas finished behind Ms. Squiers on May 29th, and the one good thing about the above communication is that he seems to be helpfully reminding potential runoff voters of a few of those reasons. He's simply embarrassed that despite his superior stature, fundraising, consultants -- indeed, his Romney-esque exceptionalism -- he's losing to a woman who's not just out-working his campaign all by herself but is the better Democrat in the contest.

I will say again to Mr. Cargas: renounce your campaign operative's subterfuge, return the documents he acquired under the false pretense of supporting the Squiers campaign, disavow these repulsive tactics, and pledge yourself to run an open, honest and fair campaign on the issues.

I further declare that if Cargas cannot comply with the above -- and if he somehow manages to win the runoff -- that you, dear reader, can be goddamned certain I will throw my support to the Green candidate, Lance Findley, in the fall. And I'll spend every day from the end of July to the beginning of November reminding every single Democrat, Green, and independent in the district that Cargas is completely unworthy of being elected to Congress.

James Cargas is nothing more than John Culberson Lite.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Or Bethany's either, for that matter. Click on all the links I have posted, read for yourself, and draw your own conclusions. Please.