Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Funnies

"Tell me one area where Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin would disagree. I cannot find one area. So somehow he's the smartest guy in the party and she's the stupidest woman on Earth but they agree on everything."

-- Bill Maher

"His eyes are just so blue. It's like looking into a Smurf's anus." -- Jon Stewart

My nomination for Protest Sign of the Year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brainy endorsements: Henry Cooper

Henry Cooper is the Green running against Jessica Farrar in Texas House District 148. There is no Republican or Libertarian in the contest.

Here's why he is challenging the Texas House Democratic Caucus chair, a well-respected -- and usually progressive -- Democrat.

I’m a native Houstonian, married and have two children. I’m a machinist by profession and have worked for more than 20 years in the gas and oil manufacturing industry. In my line of work, I’ve seen how oil companies have grown and profited through the years, and yet the good old jobs have vanished, outsourced, or transferred to subcontractors to lower the cost of labor.

Yet, despite the steady growth in the private sector, we are told that there is not enough revenue for the public services or schools and that the state is in an ‘economic crisis’. I don’t think so!

I am asking for your vote because I stand for:
  1. Promoting the development of new jobs and solve the revenue ‘crisis’ of our state, especially when we live in Texas, one of the richest and most profitable states in the United States.
  2. Impeding in the next legislature's funding cuts to the education budget and instead invest in our children’s education to prepare them for the challenges ahead (prepare them with a high quality education).
  3. Enforcing fiscal responsibility on the multi-billion dollar corporations that are not paying their fair share of taxes by eliminating loopholes that allow them to evade their fiscal duties. If you are paying your fair share, so should they!
  4. Developing and promoting alternative technologies to the carbon-based fuels with the scientific participation of some of our best universities in the state. We can start changing the fossil-fuel consumption and increase the wealth of all Texans.
  5.  Increasing the capacity, delivery and quality of medical services across all our communities.
  6. Supporting our children’s vision to pursue a higher education by making their college education affordable across all disciplines, and particularly medicine and nursing studies.

I am asking for your vote to be a state representative that is not only willing to present solutions that will benefit all Texans, but will also lobby among the electorate of those representatives that don’t have in mind the best interest of our state and its residents. A legislator is not limited to represent his or her constituency but works for the benefit for all Texans.

Here's a bit more, also in his own words.

Más sobre esto de Henry en Español.

Henry is holding a meet-and-greet tomorrow, Saturday, August 18, at the Oak Forest Library, from 2-4 pm. I encourage residents of the district to introduce themselves. You can also see Henry's Facebook page for more, and donate to Cooper's campaign here.

Here's the part where some Democrats are going to want to know why I passed over Farrar, the kind of Democrat I can usually support.

Keep in mind also that I not only, like Cooper, have a great deal of respect Farrar personally and for her long list of accomplishments, but further that I accepted her invitation to ride to Austin on her bus -- at her expense -- for the opening day of the Texas legislative session in 2011.  Here's my post about that. I and the rest of my TPA blog brethren endorsed Farrar in 2008.

Farrar has, in my opinion, lost her way a bit as a progressive. Cooper notes incorrectly in the first video above that Farrar supports the Keystone XL pipeline; she does not, according to a staff member in Austin I spoke with shortly before posting this. Though I found it extremely difficult to get that opposition on the record.

This letter, signed not only by Rep. Farrar but also Cooper and many other progressive elected officials and environmental activists over one year ago, requested that Secretary Hillary Clinton utilize all legal and environmental checks and balances, including public hearings, before moving forward on Keystone XL. Hearings were held; no official approval has been granted by the State Department, and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline quietly proceeds apace. Without noticeable opposition, I might add, from anyone except a few community activists.

Farrar has also stood behind Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and his well-documented and vigorous efforts to execute the Obama administration's controversial Secure Communities program. She also -- very much a rarity for a Texas House member, much less the caucus chair -- made a public point of endorsing the Corporate Democrat in the CD-07 primary.

That was the last straw for me, personally.

Farrar had a fairly close go of it but only in relative terms in 2010, the year of the Red Tea Tide, and no Republican stepped up this year... probably on the thought that 41% was their high water mark. Cooper is only likely to expose whatever vulnerability the Democratic Leader has on her left as a result of abandoning a few precious progressive values, but my feeling is that she's in for a bigger challenge in two years if she keeps forgetting to dance with the ones that brung her.

Thanks for all you've done, Representative Farrar, but there is a better choice in November 2012; someone who comes a little closer to representing working people and progressives in the Texas House. I hope you get the message he's sending.

Cockblock the Vote

Considering our recent discussions on the topic, The Daily Show's take last night is cogent and wicked.

[...] Jon Stewart tore into Republican-backed voter identification laws in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which he branded as two different attempts at “suppressing Democratic turnout.”

“Voter fraud is an enormous issue with more than exactly 10 documented cases of it in the entire country alone,” Stewart deadpanned, “just since the beginning of the millennium. That’s .000000284% of all votes. So you can see why Pennsylvania would want to enact a voter ID law that one study claims could potentially disenfranchise around 9% of the entire Pennsylvanian electorate. But that’s the price you pay to prevent something that doesn’t happen.”

“Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections,” Stewart pointed out, “leaning toward Obama in this election. It’s not like voter ID law is blatantly designed to skew that result. Right, State House Republican majority leader that designed it?”

He then played tape of that Pennsylvania legislator, Mike Turzai, saying, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done.”

Stewart then went after Ohio Republicans’ attempt to restrict early voting hours on Democratic counties but extending early voting hours in Republican ones. “Are you kidding me?” he exclaimed. “All Americans who want equal access to the vote take two steps forward. Not so fast, people who live on Martin Luther King Boulevard South.”

Stewart then played a clip of an Ohio Republican legislator defending the rules by saying, “We try to make it easy but we can’t, you know. I say we’re not 7-11. We can’t stay open 24/7 and let anybody vote by any rule that they want to.”

“Surely we can’t expect our constitutionally guaranteed voting rights to meet the same high standards as a combination gas station/convenience store,” Stewart mocked.

“Two states, two completely different means of suppressing Democratic turnout,” he concluded. “Here is the one thing they have in common: the mechanism of the vote are in the hands of partisan elected officials.”

There's video of the whole thing at Mediaite.

What I never understand is why nobody even mentions Texas. Like the ultrasound bill and trans-vaginal wands, which was enough to ruin Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's chances to be Mitt Romney's running mate, Texas is like a whole other (fascist) country in the national discussion.

Unlike Pennsylvania and Ohio, Texas' own Photo ID law is so egregious that it is stymied by both the courts and the DOJ, while in Houston we suffer from the Teabagger takeover of our bifurcated election system (registration and elections).  The landslide of Democrats elected via voter fraud in Harris County is, of course, the reason for the birth of the King Street Patriots, now a national organization comprised of Caucasian Christian warriors on a mission to prevent anyone who doesn't look like them -- or think like me -- from voting.

And neither the Republicans in charge of the mess, nor most Democrats, want to change that.

Do you still think voting for either a Democrat or a Republican without considering the other options is going to effect change? It seems to me that would be the textbook definition of insanity.

And they call ME crazy for wishing this was the reality.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Libertarians tour Texas

Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson and US Senate candidate John Jay Myers are taking a Texas swing.

[...] Myers will join Governor Johnson for a meet and greet and breakfast in Dallas (8/15-8/16), a book signing and dinner in Austin (8/17), a meet and greet and VIP reception in San Antonio (8/18), and a reception and open mic night in Houston (8/19). Myers will also be stopping at East Beach in Galveston (8/19), and visiting East Texas for a public  barbecue in Tyler (8/21), and dinner in Mount Pleasant (8/21) during an extended part of the trip.

As Republicans feel the splitting hangover of their Mitt Romney/Ted Cruz rage binge, the Libertarians are going to start looking better and better, particularly to all of those non-TeaBagging conservatives. Myers is fire-branding...

“The Republican primary in Texas was a contest between the banks and the oil companies, and the banks won.” ... “Ted Cruz is not the outsider people think they voted for. Cruz worked for the federal government, and he also advised George W. Bush’s campaign on domestic policy. And how did Bush’s domestic policy of bank bailouts and stimulus work out? Ted Cruz’s government resume does not match his claims to be an establishment outsider.”

Myers questioned Cruz’s commitment to liberty: “Cruz expresses pride in his family’s escape to the U.S., and yet maintains a platform hostile to immigrants. He claims to support freedom and yet wants government to dictate whom you can marry and what substances peaceful people put in their bodies. And he follows the same foreign policy doctrine of entangling alliances our Founding Fathers warned us about.”

Myers condemned the false choice presented to Republican voters: “During the primary, the Republicans were given a choice between a millionaire former CIA officer who runs an oil and gas company, or a rich establishment lawyer who is literally in bed with a vice president of Goldman Sachs, the bank that was by far the largest beneficiary of the Bush-Obama bailouts through its insurer AIG. How do you think the pillow talk will go when Goldman Sachs needs $100 billion more after the next market meltdown?”

You might fall for that tough talk if Myers weren't more devoted to Ayn Rand than even Paul Ryan. Democratic nominee Paul Sadler is hoping he can capture Republican leakage from Cruz, but that has been shown time and again to be a fallacy. But since this post is about the Libs, let's return to Johnson, who articulates the message a little better than Myers.

Now that's damned solid and effective. I don't buy it, of course, but a lot of people will, and lot more should. And there's plenty of additional evidence that the Liberts have an excellent opportunity to put a dent in GOP futures this fall. First, the Austin Chron:

Historically, Libertarians have been perceived as a thorn in the GOP's side, occasionally nudging elections toward the Democrats by pulling away some right-wing voters. In 2008 the GOP actively courted the Libertarian Party of Texas and asked them to pull candidates from the ballot in marginal seats (see "State GOP Fears Libertarian Upset," Aug. 8, 2008). Locally, Libertarians could become a factor in two key House races. Republican Paul Workman survived a bruising primary in House District 47, and Dem Chris Frandsen may be hoping that the addition of Libertarian Nick Tanner – running against Workman for being "pro-Amnesty, anti-free market" – may increase his chances. Next door in HD 48, Democrat Donna Howard narrowly squeaked out a multi-recount victory in 2010 and, while she is still favored over self-proclaimed moderate Republican Robert Thomas, Libertarian Joe Edgar could help her by further splitting the GOP base.

I posted over three months ago about the Libs and the Weed Bloc. Here's a bit more about their electoral chances from the Johnson campaign itself, via Third Party Politics.

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson is polling at 5.3% nationwide. (JZ Analytics/Washington Times).

But look at the numbers when he’s included in statewide polls against Obama and Romney. 13% in New Mexico. 9% in Arizona. 7% in Colorado. 7% in New Hampshire. 8% in Montana. (PPP and others)

Governor Johnson’s poll numbers – and his votes this November – may be the critical factor in “Tipping Point” or battleground states like North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado – where Obama and Romney are 1% to 6% apart. Mitt Romney needs these 5 states, these 74 Electoral votes to win the White House.

North Carolina and Virginia voted Republican 7 out the last 8 Presidential races. Florida and Colorado voted Republican in 6 out of the last 8. Nevada voted Republican in 5 out of the last 8. All 5 of these battleground states voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

But the one thing that will really make a tremendous difference is if Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are included in the fall's presidential debates. Here's something provocative to read about that. You will want to read the whole thing -- especially if you're unfamiliar with the 15% polling threshold to qualify to participate -- but here's the last few grafs as moneyshot.

Getting on ballots across the country requires time, organization, support and money. That should be difficult enough to weed out the riff-raff, but if you wanted to make it even harder to get an invite to the debates (but not impossible, which for all intents and purposes, the current system is), why not amend the third criterion to read: 15% of public support --OR-- the candidate is eligible for federal matching funds and has received the nomination of their respective party?

Under this system, the 2012 presidential debates might look like this:
  • Barack Obama (Democrat)
  • Mitt Romney (Republican)
  • Gary Johnson (Libertarian)
  • Jill Stein (Green)
Something tells me that this debate would touch on issues more thoughtful than who the real "outsourcer-in-chief" is. And considering that federal tax dollars are, in part, funding the campaigns of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, it would be nice to hear them talk.

It's been 20 years since a third-party candidate has been invited to debate Republican and Democratic presidential nominees; we all know how political discourse has played out since then. Sometimes, it makes sense to look at the system that is in place and ask ourselves: Is this really the best way to do things? I realize that I'm not the first to say this, but I think we can do better.

If you wish to petition the Commission on Presidential Debates to include Gov. Johnson and Dr. Stein in the debates, go here. As John DeFeo notes in his opening...

The U.S. presidential debates are like a "Best Beer in America" contest where only Bud Light and Coors Light are invited. Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with these beers, they satisfy millions of Americans. But to claim one of them is the "best" while ignoring the hundreds of independent American breweries churning out some of the world's most unique and innovative suds -- well, that seems wrong.

Not just 'seems', John.