Friday, October 17, 2014

Blogger money bomb for Wendy Davis today

Texas blogs want to make it rain today for Wendy Davis.  I'm in.

No pleading, no "we're doomed" desperation.  I'm as sick of that crap as you are.

Oh, and here's the wheelchair ad to end all wheelchair ads.

On the heels of my full socialist rant yesterday, some are going to see a little hypocrisy in today's ask.  That's okay.  If we had a more progressive option in the governor's race --someone that had not chosen to go into hiding for whatever his reasons are for doing so -- I might be voting for that person.  Or even donating to his campaign, for that matter.  If you've been reading here for very long, you know I'm not a fan of least-worst choices.  Yes, Davis did vote in GOP primaries once upon a time, is partnered in a law practice with a former Rick Perry staffer, has supported legislation for helping frackers with their water problems, did run and win a couple of times in a conservative-leaning Fort Worth Senate district. (It includes Burleson, for Jeebus' sake.)

She's no flaming liberal, despite the caterwauling of the worst elements of the RPT.  What she is, is a fighter.  And I have supported the fighters going back to David Van Os in 2006, when he ran against Traffic for attorney general.

She has had more slime slung at her by the fine, upstanding Christian conservatives occupying the rural and exurban brambles than anyone in Texas anywhere.  This race has made Ann Richards versus Claytie Williams look like a playground tussle.

Hell on Wheels has Ted Nugent, Dr. Charles Murray, Drayton McLane, and Bob McNair on his team.

Wendy Davis has us.  And you.  Which is to say the 99% of hard-working Texans who don't drink Red Koolaid or watch Fox News.  Who don't wake up every single morning angry at Obama, or Ill Eagles, and don't go to church to listen to a nasty pastor spew bigotry from the pulpit.  All we want is for her to be able to keep fighting for all of the Texans who aren't Tony Buzbee, or David Barton, or for the love of Dog, Dave Carney.

So if you've read this far, it's time to click the link and throw some change in the cup.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making fun of guys in wheelchairs

Thanks to the Pulitzer-worthy Nick Anderson.

"Celebrities use wheelchairs in airports," an attendant in Charleston, S.C., once explained to me, "because people don't look at you if you're in a chair."

He is right. People often avert their eyes, either because they don't want to appear as if they're gawking at someone with a disability or because disabled people simply make them feel uncomfortable. To me, however, a wheelchair has never been a symbol of failure or of "being crippled." It is, instead, a symbol of independence and autonomy. Wheelchairs save people's lives, literally.

Maybe Greg Abbott understands what Lamar White is saying here.  It's obvious Dave Carney, Abbott's political adviser, doesn't get it.

The Abbott campaign went insane after Lamar White Jr., a law student who has cerebral palsy, spoke at a press conference in support of Davis. According to the Austin-American Statesman, ‘After horrendous wheelchair attack ad, Wendy Davis uses disabled people as props,’ David Carney, a top Abbott adviser, tweeted about Monday’s news conference.”


Beyond the tweet, Abbott’s campaign and supporters have been trying to discredit Mr. White by claiming that he was not disabled enough to speak in support of Davis. The idea of a ranking scale for individuals with disabilities is as insulting as it oppressive. Individuals such as Greg Abbott can still operate a motor vehicle, but many individuals Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions can not, because there is more to disability than physical mobility. Just because a person can stand up or move under their power does not mean that they are less disabled than a person in a wheelchair.

Republicans had the media fooled for a few days, but after the Abbott campaign has chosen to humiliate differently abled Americans, there is a backlash brewing. The media are rethinking their criticism of the ad, and examining Abbott’s record of denying disabled individuals their ADA rights. Republicans couldn’t resist. They had to attack a disabled individual, and now Greg Abbott’s record is under scrutiny.

The Abbott campaign has insulted millions of Americans with their dehumanization of individuals with disabilities. As Attorney General, Abbott has stripped disabled Texans of their rights. As a candidate for governor, Abbott is robbing differently-abled individuals and their loved ones of their dignity.

That's your boy, Texas Republicans.

Separate and unequal and built to stay that way

Watch this.

In less than three weeks, the United States will hold national elections to choose a third of US senators, all 435 members of the US House of Representatives, the governors of 36 out of 50 states, and thousands of state legislators.

The elections come at a time of immense crisis, nationally and internationally. The American people are being dragged into yet another war in the Middle East... At home, chronically high unemployment is fueling a growth of poverty, while basic social services — education, health care, housing — are being slashed, along with wages and pensions.

Democratic rights are being shredded, with police-state mobilizations in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri against social protest and the government sweeping up the communications of every American.

Social inequality has reached levels not seen since before the Great Depression of the 1930s. And now an Ebola epidemic in Africa is exposing the criminal neglect of healthcare infrastructure in the US and threatening to spiral into an international catastrophe.

But hey, how 'bout them gas prices?

All of these issues are being ignored in the election campaigns of the two big business parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Instead, what predominate are banal and right-wing platitudes combined with mutual mudslinging. The entire process is dominated by corporate money, with all of the rival candidates on the take.

The Democratic Party is seeking to hold onto its majority in the upper house of Congress, the Senate. This is presented by the media as a momentous issue. In reality, which party ends up in control of Congress makes no difference for working people. The outcome of every election, regardless of which party wins, is a shift of the political system further to the right.

Uh oh, here comes that "both parties are the same" stuff.

The Democrats secured comfortable majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2008. They proceeded to continue the war in Iraq, escalate the war in Afghanistan, expand the taxpayer bailout of Wall Street, implement a health care “reform” that slashes workers’ benefits and increases their costs, impose a 50 percent cut in the pay of newly hired auto workers, and oversee a vast expansion of government spying on the population.

Neither party offers any policies to address the raging social crisis. The Obama administration touts a “recovery” that has brought the share of total household wealth held by the richest 0.5 percent to just under 35 percent and that of the top 0.1 percent to 20 percent. The Republicans, who work hand-in-glove with the Democrats to slash working class living standards, demand even bigger tax cuts for the rich and deeper cuts in social programs.

The basic bipartisan unity extends to a foreign policy of endless war and militarism. The Democrats who postured as opponents of the Iraq war under Bush — and insured that war funds were continued when they gained control of Congress — are avidly backing Obama’s new war in Iraq and Syria.

While my Democratic friends lick their wounds, let's be further reacquainted with the phrase 'neoliberal', and how it applies with respect to the global problem of inequality.

On the domestic front, there is no mention of the bankruptcy of Detroit, imposed by a Republican governor working with a Democratic mayor and backed by the Obama White House. The gutting of Detroit city workers’ pensions and health benefits, in violation of the state constitution and under the dictates of an unelected “emergency manager,” is being used as a precedent for cities across the US. In a debate Sunday night, Mark Schauer, the Democratic challenger to Republican Governor Rick Snyder, made clear that he supported the Detroit bankruptcy as well as the wage-cutting bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler.

War, austerity and the attack on democratic rights are all massively unpopular, but the views and interests of working people, the vast majority of the population, find no expression in the election campaigns of the two parties. The experience of the Obama administration, which came to power by exploiting popular disgust with Bush and his policies of war and social reaction, only to continue and deepen the same policies, has further alienated the masses of Americans from the political system.

Fifty percent or more of Americans -- most certainly that many Texans -- aren't registered to vote.  Another half of the half that are registered won't show up to vote in the 2014 midterms.  That leaves 25% of the populace as the electorate, and that's considered a high number by paid political types.  In 2010, it was 37% of those who were registered that actually voted, so by extrapolating we can see that less than 20% -- fewer than one of every five Americans -- cast a ballot.  In a good year.

Expect to see turnout figures far less than a fifth of we the people in many states.  And we didn't even have to mention photo ID laws suppressing the vote.

They no longer believe that their votes will have any impact on the policies pursued by the government. They try to block out the meaningless debates between the candidates and the mind-numbing attack ads financed by the corporate donors who control both parties and the system as a whole.

The crisis of the American capitalist political system results in an election that is barely being followed by the electorate, the majority of whom feel little commitment but a great deal of anger toward both parties. One would hardly know, from the level of interest shown by the population, that an election is taking place.


All signs point to a record low turnout on November 4, even lower than the dismal 37 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in the last non-presidential election, in 2010. Voter turnout in the primary elections earlier this year, in which the Democrats and Republicans chose their candidates, hit new lows, with, in many cases, fewer than 5 percent of eligible voters going to the polls.

The likely participation of younger voters, who turned out in relatively large numbers to elect Obama in 2008, is particularly revealing. In recent polls, only 23 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 said they were definitely going to cast a ballot this year.

When people forgo their civic responsibility, when they say their vote doesn't make any difference, when they grumble about both parties being the same... this is what they're talking about.

The contrast could hardly be starker between the acuteness of the issues the American people confront — war, poverty, dictatorship — and the empty and right-wing character of the campaign and general popular disinterest in the election. This contradiction bespeaks a system that is coming to the end of its rope. The immense growth of social inequality has turned American democratic institutions into hollow shells behind which the corporations, the military brass and the intelligence agencies conspire against the people of the US and the world.

The political system is incapable of responding to the crisis facing the working class because it is an instrument of a plutocracy.

The 2014 election is an expression of the crisis of American capitalism, which is at the center of the breakdown of world capitalism. The abstention is not an expression of either acceptance of the status quo or popular complacency. Social opposition is mounting, but the working masses as of yet see no alternative.

A failure of capitalism.  A crisis of unchecked greed.  And economically speaking, all signs point to things getting a little worse before they get better.  There goes your trickle-down, you poor pathetic 99%-er, you.

But hey, how 'bout them Cowboys?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Supremely surprising

A 6-3 SCOTUS majority finds that the Texas abortion restrictions are too harsh.  For now.

On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court issued an injunction that will allow abortion clinics in Texas to remain open, temporarily blocking a package of harsh abortion restrictions that Texas lawmakers approved last summer. That measure, which was unsuccessfully filibustered by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, requires that abortion clinics make costly renovations to bring their building codes in line with ambulatory surgical centers and stipulates that abortion doctors must secure admitting privileges from local hospitals.

Socratic Gadfly points out that Davis won the battle staged by her filibuster.  For the time being.

The Supreme Court order noted that Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the Court’s injunction. The decision will now remain in effect until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit “rules on a constitutional challenge to the two measures,” SCOTUS blog reports.

And once more, the fellow who is presumptively the next governor of Texas shows us what a really weak lawyer looks like.

In response, Greg Abbott, Texas’ attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor, told the justices that “it is undisputed that the vast majority of Texas residents (more than 83 percent) still live within a comfortable driving distance (150 miles)” of an abortion clinic in compliance with the law. Others live in parts of the state, he said, that did not have nearby clinics in the first place.

Those in the El Paso area, Mr. Abbott continued, could obtain abortions across the state line in New Mexico.

It's disputed, Wheels, and you lost.  You lost John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.  That is losing.  The only good news for you is that it ain't over just yet.

Last November, the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 ruling, rejected a request to intercede in a separate case challenging the law, one that centered on the admitting-privileges requirement. In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he expected the Supreme Court to agree to hear an appeal in that case regardless of how the Fifth Circuit ultimately ruled.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the admitting-privileges requirement in March. On Thursday, the full Fifth Circuit refused, 12 to 3, to reconsider that ruling. In light of Justice Breyer’s comment, Supreme Court review of the admitting-privileges case appears likely.

I wonder if Ken Paxton can argue this case any worse.  I'm guessing yes.

More from RH Reality Check and the Houston Press.  Charles has a post that also covers the other big court ruling from yesterday, the voter ID decision by the Fifth Circuit, with a good roundup of the various linkage in both cases.

Update: And more also from MSNBC, including the snip from Rachel Maddow's report last evening.