Thursday, April 04, 2013

Because no person is illegal

Another conservative meme falls down.

Starting now, you will never see the "lazy" words "illegal immigrant" in another AP story unless they're quoting someone important saying it. That faint sound you hear is Senate reporters from the AP, The New York Times, and beyond smacking their delete keys, rethinking their agenda setting aloud, and figuring out how we talk now, amidst a serious legislative discussion, about the millions of illegal immigrants people living in the U.S. without legal permission. AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains the timely style change
The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term "illegal immigrant" or the use of "illegal" to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that "illegal" should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

Coe-rrectamundo. Adverbs shouldn't be nouns. Verbs increasingly become nouns, but not descriptors. This is important.

The caterwauling about Ill Eagles was nothing but a racist diatribe when it was birthed years ago by old, angry white Republicans. But they kept screeching about it until they finally got some media attention, and then it became part of the American discussion. But once "illegal" became people -- men, women, and children -- that's when the xenophobes oops, people with xenophobia lost the battle. Now they are losing the war.

The stricken phrase, as the AP's Carroll explained to Poynter, "ends up pigeonholing people or creating long descriptive titles where you use some main event in someone’s life to become the modifier before their name." She added that the use was a "lazy device."

Just as there are no longer schizophrenics or diabetics, but people with diabetes and schizophrenia. What, you didn't know that either?

Yes, we'll have to endure the whining and moaning of those who are outraged at the PC encroaching on their freedumb of speech. They'll point to George Carlin, alleged liberal icon, as evidence that political correctness has, like socialism, run amuck across this great land.

"Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it's especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech."

Rest in peace, George. I'm still a big fan, even though you're wrong in this case.

At least in the documented and official history, the USA will no longer stigmatize economic refugees with a word that refers to criminal behavior. Will people without citizen status commit crimes? I feel certain they will, just as US citizens do every day. And like the Republicans who violated the speed limit on their way to work this morning, or tear the tags off their pillows, or cheat on their taxes, we won't be calling them "illegals". They're just people who violated the law. Some got caught and some got convicted, and some did not. They're all still innocent until proven guilty.

No person is illegal. Not in God's eyes, and now, not by the judgment of the Associated Press.

Regular folks -- along with the differently-abled people who can do so -- are standing and applauding.

Related: The only thing Republicans have to fear about immigration reform is the GOP itself.

Only 35 percent of Republicans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. Among conservative Republicans, only 30 percent support it. Despite, say, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio doing a tour of conservative talk radio to pitch his immigration proposal, support among Republicans has actually declined since February. But Republicans don't just have to win over the Republican base. There are many groups within the GOP that are fighting immigration reform, or are ambivalent about it.

What the poll numbers reveal about immigration reform all depends on how the questions get asked. And while it is true that some in the GOP have sobered up about their chances of winning future elections and are coming around to the light, it's also true that some never will.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Democrats, Republicans, and Latinos

I'm not sure what message this article is intended to convey... unless it is meant to strike fear into the hearts of the wheezing bible-and-gun-clinging GOP base voters.

Last November, the Houston Chronicle completed a database analysis of the changing population patterns of the state and the changing voting proclivities of key demographic blocs. Our conclusion: Texas would become competitive by 2020 and a true toss-up state by 2024 if current turnout and partisan voting patterns continued.

But what if Latinos — historically a group that votes with far less frequency than the rest of the population — started voting at the same rate as everyone else, as Battleground Texas is seeking to accomplish? How much would that narrow the Republicans’ advantage in Texas?

To find answers, Texas on the Potomac analyzed 2012’s election results and it found that if Democrats could raise Latino turnout to the same level as non-Hispanic whites, Texas would instantly become a battleground state.

Duh. Charles previously noted -- reminded would be a better descriptor -- that this information has been painfully evident and excruciatingly obvious for anyone who's considered themselves a Democrat at any time over the past ten to twelve years or so. Whether you worked on a campaign or just voted, from 2000 (and particularly 2002) all the way to the present day, it was crystal clear to everyone paying attention that when Democratically-inclined minority voters go to the polls -- more specifically, find a reason to do so -- then Democrats get elected. It's true in presidential elections, in statewide elections, and in county elections. Just ask Lt. Governor Texas A&M president John Sharp. Or former Harris County commissioner and now state Sen. Sylvia Garcia. Or former county clerk Loren Jackson. Or any vast number of Democratic county judges turned out of office in 2010, and Republican ones who met the same fate in 2008 and 2012.

Despite the numbers, facts, logic, and charts and graphs representing these, even Republicans understand that when voter turnout increases, they lose. You wouldn't be able to tell that they get it by reading some of the comments on that article... but those are Republican primary voters. They're not supposed to understand anything.

If the GOP actually believed that Latinos were so conservative that by extension they would be potential Republican voters, then it would make sense for them to encourage Latinos to vote. But they do not, of course. All of the GOP's effort is channeled into fewer people voting, again because even the most ignorant of their ilk are capable of comprehending that when that happens, they win.

But back to the Democrats.

Yes, Battleground Texas sees the numbers also, and more importantly is efforting to mobilize national attention (read: $$$) and resources to turn the tide here in Deep-In-The-Hearta. How successful they are remains to be seen. As the Obama for America organization morphs itself into something else to maintain relevance and influence, it will be interesting to see how quickly they can affect change. Like Howard Dean's spinoff Democracy for America has done and is doing again, one of the most visible things you will see as part of the action is that your e-mail inbox will swell with requests for pocket change to help in the cause.

I'm not entirely skeptimistic about BT's work. They are doing the job that needs doing; fighting the good fight. But the nut they have to crack is to create a consistent habit pattern among a demographic -- not just Latinos either, but Asians and blacks as well -- that is historically disinclined to participate in the electoral process. How to change that: get people to start voting on a regular basis who traditionally have never done so? Do you focus on youth, writing off their elders? Young people of all shades do not demonstrate a propensity to get out and vote; why would minority youth? Is it all about engaging voters at the door or on the phone, one at a time? Probably. That's a career with a lot of long-range growth opportunity, at least. But it also has a mucking-out-the-Aegean-stables aspect about it.

There is no change more glacially incremental than voter turnout. The trends are such that even as population grows, voter turnout remains at historical percentages, and eroding slightly over decades. Here is the broadest generalization that can be made: about 50% of all people who are eligible to do so (whether they are labeled Americans, Texans, or Houstonians) are not registered to vote, and of those that are, about half of them will not vote in a non-presidential election. Municipal election year turnout is positively dismal; special elections, even more so.

You can begin to see the challenge for third parties just by examining the obstacles for the Democrats -- money, manpower, voter engagement and potential voter education. That doesn't even take into consideration the two-party's duopoly on a shriveling electorate by restricting ballot access.

So while there's plenty to be discouraged about with regard to our small-d democracy, the bright side is that when you vote, yours counts at least double (for all those who choose not to participate; a sort of self-imposed taxation without representation). But I like to think of it as counting quadruple when you include all those registered voters who stay home. And in a municipal election year like 2013, when turnout will be large if it gets to 20%... why, that's quintuple. 5X. Hey, that's way better than the Powerball mulitplier, isn't it? And you stand a much better chance of holding a winning ticket, too.

Why, the payoff may even be greater if you really think about it.

If we made casting a ballot as easy as buying a lottery ticket (or voting on Dancing With the Stars) then we might wake up one morning and discover that everybody is a winner. Except for a few Republicans, that is.

Update: Every single day there is additional evidence, piled on the existing mountain, that the GOP's minority outreach efforts are being conducted -- on their best day -- with alligator arms and a tin ear. This stuff takes "not getting it" to new heights. Every. single. day.

Anger, bigotry, resentment, and ignorance has carried the Republican party about as far as they can go. But this is still Texas, and the politics of fear and loathing may take somewhat longer than elsewhere to finally die out.

Thirty protestors drown out governor's presser on Medicaid obstinance

Charles has the data points covered, so here's a few photos, links, excerpts and a video at the end.

Straining to be overheard above the chants of a protest group, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, along with other key state officials, Monday morning gave a full-throated defense of the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion as outlined in the federal Affordable Care Act.

Mostly repeating earlier statements decrying Medicaid as a “broken system,” Perry defended Texas’ rejection of a plan that would pump $100 billion into the state’s economy over the next 10 years if the state would provide $15 billion in matching funds.

At a state Capitol press conference, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst compared the federal offer to a drug dealer’s entreaty – providing the first experience free “and then you are hooked for years and years.”

Somebody's on dope, all right.

Scores of demonstrators who support enlarging Medicaid stood outside the Governor’s Office shouting, “Perry, take the money!”

The Republican governor, though, noted it was April Fool’s Day.

Indeed it was. See Mark Twain quote at the top here, Governor.

Democrats in Congress and the Legislature, uninsured parents, the head of the state’s main hospital trade group and top local officials in Dallas and San Antonio urged state GOP leaders Monday to negotiate with the Obama administration to expand Texas’ Medicaid program for the poor.

“The public hires us not to do the ideological thing but the smart thing,” said San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said it’s unacceptable to leave a large bloc of the population relying on safety net hospitals’ emergency rooms for care when their maladies could receive earlier attention and treatment.

“Do we want to insure the 1.5 million uninsured Texans that need this primary care and are eligible under the expansion population?” he said. “It’s time to put politics aside and stand up to the extremist factions of political parties and work together on the local, state and federal level to find a plan that fits the unique needs of struggling Texans and expands our Texas economy.”

Fat chance that happens. This is Rick Perry, and he's running for president. Still, if all we can do is rain a little on his parade then that will certainly happen. Maybe the governor can put out a prayer request to remove the dark clouds over his head.

Thanks to Progress Texas, Texas Organizing Project, and many others for providing the motivation for this posting. And via Stace, the message from One Texas sums everything up.

I've poured out all my disgust on this topic already. I'm going to keep tracking developments as the Lege winds down, but I am pretty well convinced that if Republican electeds and business leaders cannot pry open Rick Perry's mind, then it will need to be Republican voters, who will have to use an actual crowbar -- and perhaps a torch and a pitchfork -- to get him out of the governor's mansion.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fool's Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks marriage equality will break down the last taboo when we see a same-sex marriage proposal on an Opening Day Kiss Cam. Here's this week's blog post roundup.

Off the Kuff says it was a good day in the Senate when legislation that allows microbreweries and brewpubs to operate more freely was unanimously passed.  

WCNews at Eye on Williamson makes clear that transportation is still a major problem in Texas and it's not likely to get better any time soon: Trying to see what will stick.

 DPS says drug cartels are biggest organized crime threat. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says 'legalize drugs, you fools!'

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the healthcare system in the United States, observes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs

Dos Centavos reports on a big concert featuring The King of the Accordion, Ramon Ayala, to be held at the state capital, thanks to the Mexican American Legislative Caucus's 40th Anniversary celebration.


 And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

UT Professor Richard Cherwitz calls out the regents for their harmful dispute with University President William Powers.

Offcite completely reimagines bicycle transportation in Houston.

Texas Leftist cites a higher authority in the marriage equality debate. And by "higher authority", I mean Estelle Getty.

Egberto Willies has an ad every bigot should see.

Guardian of the Nonsequitur states that marriage equality is a no-brainer. Rep. Mark Strama corrects Justice Roberts' analogy for marriage and friendship and the state's definitions thereof.

At Amplify Your Voice, James Lee thanks Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa for his support of marriage equality.

Texas Vox says that the state's clean energy goals are under attack in the Legislature.

Juanita Jean can't hardly believe that Rep. Louie Gohmert is such a jerk.

The Texas Green Report has the scoop on the hot new trend in renewable energy.

Texas Redistricting charts the percentage of Romney and Obama votes from straight-ticket ballots in Texas' 15 most populous counties.