Monday, February 28, 2005

Van Os for AG

David Van Os announced Saturday at the Progressive Populists caucus that he would run for Attorney General of Texas in 2006, taking on incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.

Fresh off a couple of bruising smackdowns (Van Os was Lt. Col. Bill Burkett's lawyer -- he of CBS National Guard memo fame -- and was defeated by Scott Brister for a place on Texas' Supreme Court just last November) it's nice to see this man get back in the ring again. Some on our side of the aisle are lesser fans of David's than I, but none would -- or should -- quarrel if he's able to pull off the upset.

He's started a blog, A Fighting Democrat, that will keep you posted on his activities.

So an update of announced Democratic candidates for 2006 includes Chris Bell (governor), Barbara Radnofsky (US Senate), Van Os and Richard Morrison (hasn't officially announced but the groundwork is ongoing) taking on Tom DeLay again.

Time to start collecting those nickels and dimes and sending them in the proper (not right) direction...

Update: I should correct myself and say that Chris Bell has only formed an exploratory committee to run for governor and not (yet, if at all) announced his candidacy. And Vince over at Burnt Orange Report has a better wrap-up, including the plans of Ron Kirk, Jim Turner, and others.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Find some kindred spirits near you (or me)

Drinking Liberally meetings in Houston (tomorrow evening), Austin, Denton and 49 other locations across the US.

The Progessive Populist Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party has their annual meeting on Saturday, February 26, in Houston. Ronnie Dugger, founder of the Texas Observer will speak; David Van Os will be feted.

And "The Wall That Heals" will be in Sugar Land* this weekend. It's a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, and includes a traveling museum and information center.

(*Don't worry; we'll take Bug spray.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

What'd I just say?

Ruy Teixeira has more today about finding common ground on the topic of women's reproductive rights. He quotes a Boston Globe editorial:

Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who opposes abortion, has filed the ''Prevention First Act," which would require insurance plans to cover prescription contraceptives, give emergency contraception to rape victims, and fund comprehensive sex education, including discussion of birth control, in public schools.

I'm delighted to see us all moving toward acceptable compromise on this issue.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Getting our activism on

Today Mrs. Diddie and I attended a training for Planned Parenthood's Lobby Day, which is happening Tuesday, March 1st in Austin.

Planned Parenthood of South Texas' location is about five minutes from my house. It is ground zero for the anti-choice faction here in Bushwanaland, and sure enough, the freaks were out in force on a Saturday: shouting their slogans, running into the street at cars, having their children holding up signs, etc.

PP has volunteer escorts; brave men and women who walk the gauntlet alongside those arriving for the clinic's various services. But it is disconcerting to say the least to see in your face --almost -- what has only been previously seen on television. I can't really imagine what a woman with an unintended pregnancy, and one who may be ambivalent about her choice, must feel being faced with a scene like this.

Once we passed through the center's metal detector we were screened again --basically eyeballed and queried as to purpose -- by security (it's just like trying to board a plane, except for the shoes part) and then we gathered in the conference room with fifty or so other volunteer lobbyists for our training.

There are so far 130 people signed up for this effort from Houston; over 700 statewide.

We'll be swarming the Capitol offices in teams of four to twelve -- and more -- on appointments with every single Senator and Representative. The ones brave enough to keep them, anyway. Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, will have forty of her constituents on hand (it's probably going to get crowded in her office, not to mention warm, even though we'll be in and out in ten minutes on every visit).

But this isn't about changing anyone's mind or being confrontational. Rather it's about finding that elusive common ground between progressives and conservatives: how to make end-of-pregnancy options rarer. (Note the reframing; I've just finished George Lakoff's "Don't Think of An Elephant".) The mission of this effort is "prevention first". Specifically:

  • Maintaining current funding levels for family planning in the appropriations bill;
  • Encouraging the state of Texas apply for a Medicaid waiver expanding eligibility for family planning and reproductive health services to 185% of the federal poverty level (which would be an annual income of $34872.50 for a family of four) ;
  • Promote legislation -- as it happens, HB 676 sponsored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson -- that would require emergency conception education and medication in hospital emergency rooms for survivors of sexual assault;
  • And support measures that would require health insurance companies providing prescription drug coverage to include in that benefit all FDA-approved methods of contraception.
(A certain Austin Republican named Jack Stick, formerly a member of the House of Representatives, last session voted for coverage for ED medication -- yes, that would be Viagra and the like -- and against birth control. His constituents recognized the obvious moronic irony and selected new representation.)

I'll be filing a first-hand account of my maiden voyage into Lobbyworld shortly after the cruise.