Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Open letter to the Honorable Boyd Richie, Chair of the Texas Democratic Party

Social Security and by extension Medicare have often been called one of the three legs of the Democratic Party yet some in the media are reporting that our President is planning to call for cuts to those very programs in his State of the Union address. Let’s all be clear regardless of the findings of the Deficit Commission, Social Security and Medicare are not the cause of the deficit. We all know that Social Security is paid for by taxes dedicated directly to it and not out of the general fund. Social Security is not now and will not be in the next few decades in danger of default.

Considering the level of Democratic voter apathy in Texas due to the poor economy I believe it is incumbent the Democratic Party and our elected officials to show by word and deed that we intend to protect Social Security and Medicare from cuts. It is high time that the message of the Party and our elected officials focused on the moral issues of our day and one of those issues it protecting the weak and less fortunate among us. It is above all necessary that the Party return to its roots as the party of the people. If the leadership of the Democratic Party makes the mistake of accepting the conservative frame on this issue it will mean the end of the “social safety net” and the Democratic Party.

I urge you in your capacity as the leader of the Texas Democratic Party and spokesperson for Texas Democrats to use all your resources to insure support for Social Security and Medicare among the Democratic members of the Texas Congressional delegation. I also call on you to bring to the attention of the Democratic National Committee and the President the urgent need to protect Social Security and Medicare from cuts.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

My 7th grade daughter's letter to the editor

When me and my dad were driving back from school on Friday my Dad told me the terrible news that the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would help protect girls my age all over the world from being forced into marriages. As a seventh grader I can’t even imagine what is must be like for girls my age or younger to be forced to marry men as old as my dad and have their children soon after.

I don’t understand why after every member of the Senate voted to pass the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage ActS. 987 our local Congressman Lamar Smith voted against it. Mr. Smith claims to be “pro-life” but seems to think it’s “OK” for young girls to die when their bodies aren’t strong enough and ready to have a baby? Why doesn’t he care?

I later found out that some people lied and said that bill would have funded abortions, but anybody can read the bill, which is less than six pages long, and see that it’s not true. Lamar Smith was either too lazy to read the bill or he just doesn’t care about kids because we can’t vote.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cheryl Patterson for State Representative HD 44

In the race to fill the Texas House seat left open by the untimely demise of Edmund Kuempel many of the candidates have expressed themselves in party talking points such as small government and cutting budgets. Only one candidate has come out strongly for protecting the future of District 44 and Texas by continuing to fund education fully, that candidate is Cheryl Dees Patterson.

Mrs. Patterson has been a classroom teacher and a principal so she understands the needs of our children who are the future of this state. Patterson is also a trustee of the Navarro ISD and therefore understands the realities of the budget constraints our schools already face. Cheryl is committed to Guadalupe, Wilson and Gonzales and that means investing in the children of the state because we have no future without them. I urge you to support Cheryl Dees Patterson by voting for her Tuesday December 14.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tax breaks for Paris Hilton and Oprah Winfrey’s dog

Not content to continue giving tax breaks to millionaires like Lindsey Lohan and LeBron James now Senators Cornyn and Hutchison are holding up legislation to extend unemployment benefits to give tax breaks on inherited millions for people like Paris Hilton and Oprah Winfrey’s dog.

I find it hard to accept that the millions who have lost jobs due to the near crash of Wall Street banks aren’t more important than a celebrity’s dog. Why aren’t average Americans as important as the Wall Street bankers who wrecked our economy and then got bailed out so they could take home million dollar bonuses this year?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Senate Republicans do have principles, if you can call them that

I’ve often heard my liberal friends accuse Republicans of being unprincipled but the recent actions by Senate Republicans shows that just isn’t true. All 42 have taken the principled stand if that if tax breaks for millionaires aren’t renewed then no other legislation will be passed in the current lame duck session.

Since the verifiable reduction of both U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals isn’t nearly as important as millionaire tax breaks why should it be voted on first. Since extension of unemployment benefits for those put out of work by the near collapse of the banking system owned by millionaires isn’t as important as tax breaks for those same millionaires why should it be voted on first. Since food safety legislation that would correct the lax standards that have allowed the deaths of hundreds and sickening of thousands of Americans who ate food tainted in processing plants owned by millionaires isn’t nearly as important as tax breaks for said millionaires why should it be voted on first.

So of course my liberal friends are wrong about Republicans because they do have principles, millionaires deserve tax breaks more than Americans deserve national security or safe food and more than the unemployed deserve food on their plates.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Voter fraud fraud

Some of the first bills filed for the upcoming state legislative session would require photo ID to vote. I find it absolutely fascinating that the Republicans in the Texas House are claiming that the Voter ID bill they’re pushing is necessary in order to prevent a serious problem with voter fraud. If voter fraud is really the problem they’ve been claiming it is then the party that won 99 of 150 seats, gaining 23, must be the perpetrators.

How this is really more important than stimulating jobs for the hundreds of thousands of Texans who are out of work I don’t know.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Improve National Security and address the budget deficit

It's time for the Senate to cut our bloated nuclear stockpiles and restore inspections of Russia's nuclear arsenal by approving the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START. Since it was signed in April, many Democrats and Republicans have said the Senate should ratify the treaty. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it has “the unanimous support of America's military leadership.”

Treaties require deliberation, but senators have all the information necessary to reach a decision on New START. In September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended ratification by a 14-4 vote.

Let's put politics aside and national security first by ratifying New START this year. Call Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn and urge them to help secure our future by voting to ratify.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mixed up priorities

Republicans won a whopping majority in the state house on November 2 and within days the chairs of various committees have released a letter naming their priorities for the coming session. In their top ten they include “passing a photo ID requirement as a protection against voter fraud”, but if voter fraud is really as rampant as they seem to believe doesn’t that call into question the legitimacy of their recent overwhelming victory?

Other topics in the letter include “ensuring businesses are not stifled by over-taxation, excess regulation or unfair litigation.” This should be deciphered as raising fees - which hurt small and startup businesses because they aren’t related to profits, continuing to allow air and water pollution by gas producers in the Barnett Shale – because being able to light your tap water on fire isn’t a problem, and limiting the rights of individuals to seek redress when a business or doctor has harmed them. The chairs claim that these steps will help the Texas economy and create jobs.

The chairs go on to claim that Speaker Straus is “a staunch fiscal conservative in the model of President Reagan”. I can’t say whether or not Straus is a fiscal conservative, but Reagan certainly wasn’t as he raised taxes twice and massively increased the size of the federal government in his eight years as president. Given their failure to know recent history it’s no wonder they have chosen to ignore the states abysmal education record or seek any means to improve it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The insanity of tax breaks for millionaires

I keep hearing the TEA Party screaming that the reason they want Democrats out of office is because they’re all about big government and spending the taxpayer’s money. What they don’t seem to get is that last month our government shed nearly 160,000 jobs. The government now employs fewer people than it did during the Bush administration.

Republicans claim that lower taxes would foster more economic growth and more jobs but if you look at the last six years of the Bush presidency when taxes were near a century low you’ll find that zero net new private sector jobs were created. The remedy for this they claim is even lower taxes. Doesn’t this remind you of the famous remark “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?

After WWII, the event which compelled massive deficit spending that finally brought this country out of the Great Depression, the U.S. was much deeper in debt than we are today. Through wise management by Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower who invested in education via the G.I. Bill and infrastructure like the interstate highway system our country became prosperous once again and the standard of living for rich and poor alike improved immensely.

The Republican argument that cutting government spending will help create jobs is kind of like a doctor telling you that the solution to your anorexia is to go on a diet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Review of the Republican Party of Texas platform for 2010

Free Speech for the Clergy – We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send government any personal information about their contributors.

Why do they only call for changing the rules for tax-exempt status for religious organizations and not other non-profits? Why not for environmental groups and civil rights groups as well?

The Rights of a Sovereign People – The Republican Party of Texas supports the historic concept, established by our nations’ (sic) founders, of limited civil government jurisdiction under the natural laws of God, and repudiates the humanistic doctrine that the state is sovereign over the affairs of men, the family and the church.

Sounds like the Taliban to me.

Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.”

There’s so much here I don’t know where to start. How do you even begin to argue with stupid? Being gay is equivalent to being Typhoid Mary and a home wrecking hussy too if you believe these folks. Oh and George Washington hated gays too.

Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – We oppose this act through which the federal government would coerce religious business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs and principles by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior.

We oppose the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Republicans are in favor of privacy except in your bedroom and want to be able to fire you if they don’t like who you’re sleeping with.

Judicial Restraint – We urge Congress to adopt the Constitutional Restoration Act and support the principle of judicial restraint, which requires judges to interpret and apply rather than make the law. We support judges who strictly interpret the law based on its original intent. We oppose judges who assume for themselves legislative powers.

A strict reading of this would cause them to dump Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as well as Samuel Alito from the Supreme Court as they’ve voted to override Congress more often than anyone else on the court. But don’t expect the Republicans to accept that fact.

Remedies to Activist Judiciary – We call Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges. We urge Congress to adopt the Judicial Conduct Act of 2005 and remove judges who abuse their authority. Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights.

Now the Republicans want to prevent the Supreme Court from weighing in on cases related to constitutional amendments but apparently they forgot that it was the Supreme Court that overruled many state and local gun control laws.

Protecting Union Member’s Dues – We support legislation requiring labor unions to obtain consent of the union member before that member’s dues can be used for political purposes.

Gee, how nice that they want to protect the poor guy who gets $16 an hour because he’s a union electrician from having is $10 monthly dues used to elect legislators that will protect his 40 hour work week and sick pay. How about supporting legislation to protect shareholder dividends against use for political purposes?

Voter Registration – We support restoring integrity to the voter registration rolls and to reducing voter fraud. We support repeal of all Motor Voter laws; re–registering voters every four years; requiring photo ID of all registrants; proof of residency and citizenship, along with voter registration application; retention of the 30-day registration deadline; and requiring that a list of certified deaths be provided to the county clerk in order that the names of deceased voters be removed from the list of registered voters.

Of course if these clowns were to manage to repeal the 14th Amendment like some of their senators are pushing for I’d have a tough time offering proof of citizenship because my birth certificate wouldn’t be good enough.

Campaign Finance Reform – We urge immediate repeal of the McCain-Feingold Act.

Great now that the regulations have already been weakened let’s throw them out altogether. While we’re at it let’s also deregulate lobbying and make it legal to offer cash for legislation as well. Why do we need all those pesky ethics rules anyway? After all so what if Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay were using money to buy votes.


Ten Commandments – We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols.

So exactly where in the U.S. did Moses come off the mountain with the Ten Commandments?

Pledge of Allegiance – We support adoption of the Pledge Protection Act. We also demand that the National Motto “In God We Trust” and National Anthem be protected from legislative and judicial attack.

Yeah and Christmas is under attack too, Bill O’Reilly said so. Don’t these people have more important things to worry about like putting people back to work or making sure there are enough teachers to properly educate all our kids?

American English – We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.

English is fast becoming the lingua franca across the world, are they worried that we’ll suddenly start speaking Chinese or something?

Flag Desecration – Any form of desecration of the American Flag is an act of disregard for our nation and its people and penalties should be established for such.

So the First Amendment, that Constitution thingy, doesn’t apply to speech when directed at a symbol of our government. But I thought the Republicans were all about the Constitution and Freedom of Speech. If you can’t desecrate a flag or speak out against the government what then is freedom of speech. Even in China it’s OK to complain about your mother-in-law.

Symbols of American Heritage – We call upon governmental entities to protect all symbols of our American heritage from being altered in any way.

So does that mean we should go back to only 13 stars on the flag or just that if Puerto Rico becomes a state we don’t add a 51st star?

Social Security - We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax.

Oh that’s wonderful, this way when seniors are fully invested in the stock market and we have another crash they can all end up on the street or the soup kitchen.

ObamaCare – We urge the Congress to defund, repeal, and reject the national healthcare takeover, also known as “ObamaCare” or any similar legislation.

Sorry folks there is no such thing as Obamacare I can find a bill by that name in THOMAS anywhere and we didn’t even get the Public Option let alone Single Payer so I don’t know what the heck their carping about.

Americans with Disabilities Act – We support amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act.

Since when did being gay qualify you has disabled? How is having a learning disability not something that should be covered by the American’s with Disabilities Act? Tuberculosis is infectious so if you have it and are severely impaired by it Republicans don’t want you to qualify as disabled, what is that about?

Immunizations - All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.

Only if those who aren’t immunized have to wear a big red N so we’ll know who to stay away from. There’s big whooping cough outbreak in California because so many people won’t get immunized for it.

Classroom Discipline –We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. We urge the Legislature, Governor, Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education to remind administrators and school boards that corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas.

Nobody spanks my kid but me and I don’t do that.

Controversial Theories – Realizing that conflict and debate is a proven learning tool in classrooms, we support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories, including evolution, Intelligent Design, global warming, political philosophies, and others. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as challengeable scientific theory subject to change as new data is produced, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

Just what I want, some snot nosed 10 year old arguing with the science teacher that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that god put the dinosaur fossils there to trick us.

Funding via Bond Elections – We support active participation by registered voters and abhor taxing authorities’ attempts to obtain approval for bonds by selective scheduling of elections’ polling locations to minimize voter turnout. Hence, we support a requirement that at least 25% of registered voters must turn out and vote in order for a financial
obligation to be placed on the entire citizenry.

Sorry folks but if they’re too lazy to get out and vote against the bond then they should just have to suck it up.

Parental School Choice – We encourage the Governor and the Texas Legislature to enact child-centered school funding options – which fund the student, not schools or districts – to allow maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children. As a prerequisite, we urge passage of a constitutional amendment
prohibiting imposition of state regulations on private and parochial schools.

Now the cat's out of the bag, what they're really after is the end of public education so if you're born poor you can stay that way because only the wealthy can afford an education.

Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We support policies that mandate parental notification and consent before any sex education program is presented to their child. Parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than
abstinence until heterosexual marriage.

Yeah, and that’s worked so well for Texas where we have had the policy for a decade and now have about the highest rate of teen pregnancies and repeat teen pregnancies in the nation. Isn’t repeating the same thing over and over while expecting a different result the definition of insanity?

School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools.

I’ve got it, why don’t we just stick our heads in the sand?

We strongly support recent SBOE actions in areas of science and social studies ...

Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on Judeo-Christian principles (including the Ten Commandments) upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.

That’s funny but I see no reference to god or religion in the Constitution other than to exclude them from government. “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” See also the First Amendment discussion below.

Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations.

First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” What part of this is not clear? These folks should study a little more history before opening their mouths, every nation in Europe was once a Christian nation whose leader was confirmed by the Pope or some other high level cleric and look at Europe now. Hardly anyone goes to church any more in Europe and those that do are usually elderly. Mixing god and government hasn’t worked out so well over there. Oh and most of them have universal health care too.

Repeal of Fee Award Act – We support repeal of the Civil Rights Attorneys’ Fee Awards Act, which allows for payment of attorneys’ fees to sue the government and to suppress freedom of religion.

Do these idiots realize that this legislation also allows claims over voting rights and discrimination or is that exactly what they want to eliminate without saying it? Could be crazy like a fox.

Capital Punishment – Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be swift and unencumbered.

And it worked out so well for Todd Cameron Willingham who was executed for killing his three daughters even though he didn’t. Perhaps these folks have spent too much time with computers and think that everything comes with an Undo button. In addition no responsible Criminologist will ever suggest that jail or execution is a deterrent, they will tell you that criminals never think they’ll get caught so punishment does not enter the equation.

Government Services – We support privatization of government services when beneficial to the taxpayer.

Because Gov. Perry’s outsourcing of Medicaid enrollment to a company with all their call centers out of the U.S. worked out so well. Now we have a backlog of 2-3 months of people who have tried to enroll but can’t get help because the paperwork hasn’t been processed.

Funding Special Interest Organizations – We oppose any government support of special interest organizations, such as ACORN and the ACLU.

The ACLU doesn’t now nor has it ever received government support. As to ACORN or any group like it not receiving government support, that would apply to religious groups as well but in another section the Republican platform calls for more funding of religious charities. My oh my, what a contradiction or is it just groups that don’t agree with them that they don’t like? If any organizations should be defunded it should be KBR and Halliburton who have killed our troops due to cheap, sloppy construction of showers in war zones that electrocuted our service members. While we’re at it how about defunding Blackwater/Xe and other mercenary operations that are funded by but not controlled by our government which is why they are bribing the Taliban to not attack their convoys. We should have our own troops performing those functions but that would mean a draft and the public wouldn’t stand for that so we’d have to get out and we can’t have that!

Welfare Reform – Texas should continue to reduce the number of welfare recipients by enacting tough welfare reforms; denying benefits to illegal aliens, and encouraging partnerships with faith based institutions, community and business organizations to assist individuals in need.

Wait just a minute, first you say no funding for special interest organizations then you say fund churches, which is it? The best way to cut welfare recipients is to make sure all kids get a good education and have an opportunity to get a job that pays better than poverty wages. The first step on that path requires that kids in poor families get enough to eat, adequate medical care, after school attention and schools that are funded as well as those in wealthy areas.

Federal Tax Reform – We recommend a national sales tax (which does not include a Value Added Tax) to replace all other Federal taxes once the I.R.S. is abolished and the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is repealed. However, until such time that the income tax is abolished, we support deductions for private and home schooling, home
mortgages, and sales taxes.

By howdy, we’re all for the Constitution except for the parts we don’t like and the way all them experts interpret stuff like “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Frivolous Lawsuits – We support further reform to discourage frivolous lawsuits. We oppose the abusive use of class action lawsuits.

Beep, beep, beep, red herring alert. There is no such crisis of frivolous lawsuits. In fact most “frivolous” law suits are filed by none other than big corporations not individuals seeking redress for wrongs done them.

Right-to-Work – We oppose the Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check) and any action that eliminates the secret ballot. Every worker should have freedom to work in their preferred job without being forced to join or pay dues to any organization. Our Right-to-Work Law has provided this freedom and a good climate for industrial expansion, higher employment, and a stable management-labor relationship. We encourage adoption of a National Right-to-Work Act.

Workers’ Compensation – We urge the Legislature to resist making Workers’ Compensation mandatory for all Texas employers.

Minimum Wage – We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

Yes indeed, peonage is so American and the 1890’s was a wonderful time to live if you weren’t a Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller or other robber baron. Texas has the highest percentage of low wage jobs in the country, so of course we don’t need no stinkin’ unions. Not only that but if a worker gets hurt on the job it’s obviously their own fault so why should anyone else be held accountable. Oh and unlike the RPT platform nowhere in the EFCA does it say anything about eliminating a secret ballot, all card check does is provide an alternative to an election so that companies don't get to delay the election for years while they intimidate workers.

Cuba – We support the continuation of the embargo against Cuba until democracy is restored. We call for the release of all political prisoners currently being held by the Castro regime. We support political asylum for all refugees fleeing political oppression in Cuba.

The embargo has worked so well that Fidel is still around after 50 years so I must again ask, isn’t repeating the same thing over and over the definition of insanity?

South America – We support the adoption of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement and closer political relations with Colombia who has emerged from decades of war with the drug cartels and FARC with an open democratic government and free market economy. We support efforts to strengthen democratic institutions in the region and resist the authoritarian socialist regimes of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Hugo Chavez was democratically elected and re-elected, just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean you get to say he wasn’t. Evo Morales was democratically elected having received a higher percentage of votes than George W. Bush and St. Ronnie. Apparently Republicans only like elected leaders if they kowtow to the U.S.

United Nations – We believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations.

Oh yes, isolationism worked so well prior to WWII.

We agree on some things:

Campaign Contributions – We support full disclosure of the amounts and sources of any campaign contributions to political candidates, whether contributed by individuals, political action committees, or other entities.

Except that all their Congressman voted against the DISCLOSE Act that would make this idea law.

Conflicts of Interest – We support all legislation prohibiting influencing or voting of any elected official or appointee where a conflict of interest exists. No such official should represent paying clients before a state agency.

Lobbying Limitation – We support legislation to prohibit former officials and government employees from lobbying for a foreign government and/or any business for five years after leaving public service. We support legislation to prevent lobbying by any organization receiving federal grants except that relating to its tax status.

Legislative Accountability – We support rules requiring that all votes on bills cast in the Texas House and Senate be record votes freely available to the electorate.

Sudan – We urge censure of the Sudanese government for supporting atrocities against ethnic minorities in Darfur.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lamar Smith and Republicans want to hide those who support them

Congressmen Ciro Rodriguez and Charlie Gonzalez have voted for the DISCLOSE Act which would require that those who pay for campaign ads be identified in those ads and they have pledged to support several measures designed to return power to the people. They’ve promised to support amending the Constitution to protect America from unlimited corporate spending on our elections, because elections should be won and not bought. The promised to support the passage of the Fair Elections Now Act, providing public financing to candidates who are supported by small donors so they can compete with corporate-backed and self-funded candidates. They’ve also pledged to support passage of lobbyist reform legislation to end the overwhelming influence of corporate lobbyists

How have Lamar Smith and the Republicans voted and what have they pledged to do? Every single Republican in the senate voted against even debating the merits of the DISCLOSE Act. The House Republicans pledged to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars. They’ve promised to roll back regulations on big oil and Wall Street, the same industries that killed American workers, polluted Gulf of Mexico fisheries and wrecked out economy putting millions of Americans out of work. They’ve pledged to strike down rules reining in credit card lenders and insurance companies.

Why should any Texan support Republicans in November?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vandalism and violence have no place in politics, or Who's a Nazi now?

First it starts with petty things like stealing political signs, then like today it escalates to vandalism, this is how political violence begins. When my wife was at a local shopping center today someone broke the mirror on the car along with other damage and left a note “Obama sucks” obviously in response to the various political stickers on the car. Since the vandalism occurred around Noon and it is a school day I must conclude the perpetrator was an adult. Vandalism of this nature is a form of bullying the likes of which often continue to escalate into physical violence.

About the time of the vote on health care reform there was a spate of vandalism of congressional offices. Now those who simply support progressive candidates like Hank Gilbert and Jeff Weems are victims. I have heard and seen many on the right claiming that the President is a Nazi, but it is not the President who has used Nazi tactics of vandalism and intimidation. No, it is the loud mouth angry Right that uses those tactics.

I want the perpetrator and anyone else like him to know that I will not be cowed. I want the bullies on the Right to know that violence will not stop me or my friends and associates from supporting candidates of our choice. In fact it has only made me more determined and I have doubled the donations I’ve already made to Democratic candidates as well as added a few more.

Mercer and SBOE extremists at it again, this time "Islamophobia"

Ken Mercer and the other extremists on the State Board of Education would have us believe that Social Studies textbooks in our state have been promoting the “Islamic agenda”. The only problem is that the textbook used as the exemplar isn’t in use in Texas and if it was it could only have been with the approval of the very members of the SBOE that are making an issue of it.

To paraphrase Pastor Niemoeller’s famous quote: “First they came for the Muslims and I did not speak out – because I was not a Muslim. Then they came for the Mormons and I did not speak out – because I was not a Mormon. Then they came for the Catholics and I did not speak out – because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Perhaps Mercer and his fringe associates believe that Texans live in fear of “the other” and scapegoating members of other faiths will bring them votes in November. I believe that Texans are better than that and electing Rebecca Bell-Metereau to the State Board of Education will prove that.

Hooray for Congressman Rodriguez, he signed a pledge to support the Fair Elections Now Act

I was there when Congressman Ciro Rodriguez stepped up to the plate Saturday and signed a pledge to support passage of the Fair Elections Now Act, lobbyist reforms and overturning the recent Supreme Court decision which opens a new floodgate of corporate money in all election campaigns. Rodriguez should be congratulated by everyone in his district for standing up for “the people” as opposed to corporate sponsors. He realizes that in America elections should be won and not bought, something that can’t be said about all candidates for office.

The problem with our political system isn’t so much that individual members of Congress are corrupt but that the system is corrupt. Sure, there are always a few bad apples in a barrel, but the real problem is that the barrel itself is rotten. No matter how honest you are, when your ability to get elected depends on collecting millions of dollars from special interests, there’s no way you can be objective. And having to spend so much time fund-raising just discourages good people from running and prevents those who do get elected from doing what we sent them there to do: solve the problems of everyday Americans. It’s time our elected officials started listening to the voices of everyday Americans, not their corporate sponsors. We need to clean up our elections, and do it now. 

Constituents of Congressman Rodriguez should be very proud to have him as their representative and support him for re-election.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Public debate between an incumbent and challenger is imperative for our society to survive

Numerous sources report that the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas has urged State Board of Education member Ken Mercer to follow Rick Perry’s lead and not debate challenger Rebecca Bell-Metereau.

If this were a war or a football game I’d appreciate the tactic since winning is what matters. This is about governance and service to the people of Texas and in that context avoiding debate on issues of consequence to voters is unforgivable. As a Texas citizen I resent any candidate whether from my party or not for failing to do justice to the people they claim to want to represent. This is not a game, this is about the quality of education that our children will require to succeed in the twenty-first century.

A full airing of the views of the candidates is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary in order to maintain a democratic society. Any candidate who refuses to debate indicates that they don’t have what it takes to persuade the public that they are fit to lead and therefore should not receive the public’s vote. I urge Mr. Mercer to reconsider his preposterous position and agree to debate Rebecca Bell-Metereau at the earliest opportunity.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What do Obama is a closet muslim, terrorist babies, social security broken and a mosque in Manhattan have in common?

Last Friday, a Republican National Committee woman, Kim Lehman, said about President Obama “… he personally told the muslims that he IS a muslim, read his lips."

Senator John Cornyn recently said the mosque issue would haunt Obama come November. Cornyn says "This is not about freedom of religion."

Texas legislator Debbie Riddle claimed in a CNN interview that there is a nefarious international conspiracy by immigrants to cross the border illegally, while pregnant, to give birth without insurance, to then cross the border back again, so that 21 years later they can send their child back again to do us harm.

Congressman Lamar Smith calls for privatization of Social Security claiming that it is broken even though the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office says that Social Security has a surplus of $2.5 Trillion that is estimated to grow to $3.8 Trillion in 2020.

What do all these “issues” have in common? They are pure and simple attempts to divert the public’s attention from the reality that the Republican Party has no solutions to the real problems of America especially the lack of job creation. They don’t have any new ideas and the old ones like tax breaks for millionaires have proven not to work during both the Reagan and Bush administrations. While some claim Texas has suffered less than other states that’s only partially true since we have a higher percentage of low and minimum wages jobs than just about anywhere else in the country. Remember that in November.

The debate over Social Security offers a clear choice between fear and reality

Here we are on the 75th Anniversary of Social Security with polls showing that there is considerable support for the program which most believe to be an American institution. The same polls show that most Americans would rather increase their contributions to ensure that benefits will not be cut now or for future generations. Americans overwhelmingly oppose cutting it to reduce the federal deficit; which only make sense because Social Security isn’t contributing to the deficit in the first place. The bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office says that Social Security has a surplus of $2.5 Trillion that is estimated to grow to $3.8 Trillion in 2020.

Our congressman, Lamar Smith, is a member of the Tea Party Caucus which is supporting HR 4529 which calls for privatization of Social Security. He wrote, "With this account, they will be able to build a "nest egg" for their retirement that cannot be taken away by the government and can be handed down to their children." The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently published a study showing that on average 401k’s lost about 37% in 2009. What if Lamar Smith was successful in his efforts to invest your Social Security savings this way, what would happen to your retirement when the next financial bubble bursts?

If you believe as do most Americans that Social Security is important to the people of this nation then the choice is clear Lainey Melnick should be our next representative to the United States Congress.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Even Reagan appointee Justice Sandra Day O'Connor thinks elections are tainted

Ronald Reagan’s appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined the cause of reforming state judicial campaign and election systems. She writes in her introduction to a new report that the "crisis of confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is real and growing" and if left unaddressed "the perception that justice is for sale will undermine the rule of law that courts are supposed to uphold." O’Connor continues “…elected judges in many states are compelled to solicit money for their election campaigns, sometimes from lawyers and parties appearing before them.” and “… three out of four Americans believe that campaign contributions affect courtroom decisions."

One of the most blatant examples of overly cozy relationships between judges and their campaign donors highlighted in the report involves Don Blankenship of Massey Energy who spent $3 million to elect a West Virginia justice. You’ll remember Massey Energy from the worst US mine disaster in 40 years which killed 29 miners in April this year.

How many disasters does it take to decide it’s time to fix our broken government? The BP oil spill, the explosion at the Massey Energy mine, the crash on Wall Street, there’s one common denominator—money—and there’s one common solution: end legalized bribery dressed up as campaign contributions from big business. Let the people of a state decide who they want to run for the judiciary with small contributions so we can have fair elections and government that works for a change.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why doesn't the religious right support the First Amendment?

A religious group in a major U.S. city is being attacked for the location they’ve chosen to build a place of worship. Given that groups like the Texas Eagle Forum and the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family known as the Liberty Institute complain so loudly about attacks on the First Amendment you’d think they’d be vociferously defending the right to build a house of worship in any properly zoned area.

It would seem that they don’t support the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000 which says in part: “No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.”

Just earlier this week Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association demanded that the government bar the construction of “even one more mosque” in America. Apparently they only apply the First Amendment to Christian denominations and as such the Islamic congregation in New York doesn’t deserve their support. Unfortunately for the Texas Eagle Forum and its fellow travelers their lack of support shows that they don’t really have any interest in protecting the First Amendment.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Guess who really supports our troops? Hint - It isn't Republicans

According to Fox News rather than increase taxes to pay the nations bills some members of Debt Commission appointed by President Obama including Honeywell CEO David Cote and the commission's co-chair former senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson (R), are focusing instead on "freezing military pay, making military people pay for their health care."

So while we’re in the middle of two wars in which our soldiers and their families have been stretched to the breaking point and beyond as evidenced by the alarmingly high levels of suicide and divorce corporate types enabled by Republicans want to cut their pay and scale back their benefits. That’s right; make our troops pay for their own health care, all so that corporations like Blackwater and Honeywell can continue to profit off the taxpayer unabated.

You heard it; the deficit commissioners are seriously talking about creating an even larger burden on our troops so that the military contractors don't have to sacrifice their profits. That's betraying our uniformed men and women at the most fundamental level. They and their families are being treated as disposable by too many of the powers that be. The President needs to take that proposal from his commission off the table right now.
It’s time this country had a very serious discussion about what "supporting the troops" really means.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cornyn votes to protect roaches by keeping the lights off

Senator Cornyn proudly proclaims that he voted to allow businesses with significant foreign shareholders to continue to spend unlimited amounts of money to affect elections in the United States, but is that the act of a patriot? He’s also proud that he voted to allow businesses with government contracts to continue to spend unlimited funds to influence elections. Cornyn claims to be protecting small donors but the only ones required to file new reports are donating over $10,000. Now I don’t know about you but to me $10,000 is serious money to just drop on a campaign ad. I doubt that any of us are ever likely to make such a donation, so who is he really protecting?

The Supreme Court has specifically said, “transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.” We’ve all heard the old axiom that “sunlight makes the best disinfectant”. Polls show that 80% of all Americans and 76% of Republicans want disclosure of who is paying for campaign ads yet John Cornyn voted to let them remain hidden. Tell Senator Cornyn he was wrong to vote against the DISCLOSE Act, call him at 202-224-2934.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Retaking Congress more important to Texas Republicans than taking care of Texans

According to the Washington Post two million people will lose their jobless aid before Congress returns from its week-long recess because Republicans voted against extending unemployment benefits.

Kevin Brady (R) TX-8 said “Businesses are slow to hire because they fear higher taxes, job-killing regulation and a dysfunctional Washington that is ideologically driven and increasingly anti-business.”

As a former manager of a small business I can tell you that fear of taxes and regulation had absolutely nothing to do with decisions on when to hire. The only thing that mattered was whether there was sufficient consumer demand to warrant the additional employee. Given that there is little to suggest an increase in consumer demand we can safely say that there will be little increase in job openings.

Our Senator, John Cornyn (R), claims that he believes unemployment benefits should be extended but that the method the Democrats want to use to pay for it is all wrong. He said “The whole difference of opinion was whether it ought to be paid for or whether it ought to be allowed to rack up more deficit spending.” So I guess Cornyn wants to stop other government spending to pay for unemployment benefits, the problem is if the federal government stops spending which generates demand then more people will be out of work which just make the problem bigger.

To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his hope of retaking Congress depends upon his not understanding it.” 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guns vs. Butter in earnest

Our federal legislators are currently considering a budget for next year that imposes a spending freeze for most domestic programs yet somehow there's money to spare when it comes to nuclear weapons pork. The budget requests $7 billion for nuclear bomb making capacities, a $1 billion increase over last year's budget for the same programs and an astounding 40% jump over average annual spending, after adjusting for inflation, on nuclear weapons during the Cold War era.

The budget has hundreds of millions for new bomb plants that would enable the U.S. to increase its capacity to create new nuclear weapons in the future. A new plutonium facility in New Mexico to enable a huge increase in the production of radioactive cores for nuclear weapons is just one example of several proposals in the budget. This piece of pork will cost taxpayers $225 million in the coming year and about $4 billion by the time construction is complete.

While the president is working with the Senate to ratify the New Start Treaty which would reduce the threat of nuclear war, we don’t need to be building capacity to make more nuclear bombs. Just as importantly, we shouldn’t be spending money on unneeded weapons when we can’t balance our budget without cutting domestic spending in areas such as education and alternative energy that would create jobs now and be investments in our future.

Congressmen Lamar Smith and Henry Cuellar need to know that we want to invest in our future not our past.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lamar Smith's hypocrisy continues - $485 million for a jet engine the Pentagon doesn't want

Congressman Lamar Smith makes much of the deficit on his campaign website referring to it as “a mountain of debt for our children to pay” then going on to say “which why is Congressman Smith voted against the stimulus”. Unfortunately his hypocrisy is showing because he voted to keep $485 million in the Defense Appropriations bill that pays to continue to develop a jet engine that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the military doesn’t want. This is an alternate engine for the Lockheed built F-135 Joint Strike Fighter which already has an operational engine from Pratt & Whitney. According to Rear Admiral Mike Manazir, the Navy doesn’t want an alternate engine as it “would deploy only one type of engine in its JSFs that go to sea to optimize logistics and supply chains.”

I don’t know about you but if the Pentagon doesn’t want a piece of military hardware I think that’s a pretty good indication that we don’t need it. Smith’s vote amounts to corporate welfare for the GE/Rolls Royce consortium that is developing the engine. I might be able to understand his vote if the engine were being built in his district but it isn’t so he can’t claim local jobs are at stake.

If the deficit is so important to Mr. Smith why is he voting to spend nearly half a billion dollars unnecessarily? According to the logic he espouses on his website that money should go to reducing the deficit.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ken Mercer continues to mislead when questioned about evolution

In a recent interview of candidates for the State Board of Education in District 5, Ken Mercer responds to the question: What is your position on the teaching of evolution? “My biggest quote was, ‘If our kids do not have the freedom to raise their hands in science class and ask honest questions, then we are no longer living in the United States of America.’ You can call it strengths and weaknesses, but we won the right for kids to ask questions in class, and that was the battle. It wasn’t religion. It was just a right to ask questions.”

I don’t know about you but I’ve never been in a classroom whether as a student or as a parent observing where children didn’t have the right ask questions. Our teachers encourage questions as a way to participate in class and clarify understanding. Mr. Mercer’s answer is an evasion because he never states his position on the scientific validity of evolution. What he and the other conservatives on the SBOE did was encourage our children to not just ask questions but to argue with their teachers about whether or not scientific principles are appropriate to the study of biology.

Texas has some of the lowest performing schools in the nation and Mr. Mercer’s actions will keep it that way. That’s all the reason I need to send him packing in November by voting for Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Internet Sold Out for Campaign Contributions

Failure to adequately regulate industry has within the last two years led to the collapse of Lehman Bros., the banking system and the U.S. economy as well as the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that British Petroleum is responsible for. The collapse of our financial markets hurt us all and has put about 10% of the labor force out of work, the oil spill in the Gulf is more localized but will harm that locality for as much as a generation. Both the fishing and tourism industries are likely to suffer for years not to mention many species of fish and birds including Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, which was removed from the endangered species list just six months ago.

Now the telecommunications industry wants internet services to be unregulated. This as we’ve so recently seen is a recipe for disaster. The websites that so many of us have come to rely on and enjoy are at risk of being shoved aside by telecommunications companies that seek monopolize control of access and use of the internet in order to maximize their profits. They claim to want to advance innovation when in fact they want to stifle it. Innovation is a messy business that is most often accomplished by small organizations and seldom by monopolies.

The telecommunications industry like the Wall Street bankers and oil industry before them have exerted pressure on our elected representatives. 73 Democrats in the House including Congressmen Henry Cuellar, Ciro Rodriguez and Charlie Gonzalez have submitted to that pressure. You ask what kind of pressure, how about anywhere from $23,000 to $36,750 in campaign contributions.

It is time we had a campaign finance solution that removed the influence of special interests from the equation. It’s time we passed the Fair Elections Now Act, HR 1826, which provides for voluntary public campaign financing. Call you congressman and urge him to support Net Neutrality and co-sponsor HR 1826.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Elections should be won, not bought

About 30 members of, Common Cause and the League of Women voters held a rally in support of the Fair Elections Now Act at Congressman Lamar Smith’s San Antonio office Thursday afternoon. We were there to let the Smith know that we “the People” believe that elections should be won, not bought.

The Fair Elections Now Act would provide public financing of congressional campaigns to candidates who voluntarily participate. This bipartisan bill creates an alternative to big special interest money in politics by allowing congressional candidates to run a viable campaign on public funds and unlimited small contributions from ordinary citizens.

Just think, if our legislators weren’t beholden to unions and corporations for campaign contributions they could actually work for the citizens who elect them. Maine has been incredibly successful with a similar plan for state level legislators with about 80% of them participating in the plan.

Don’t you think that banking reform would be much easier to pass with strong consumer protections and regulations that would prevent the need for future bailouts if our legislators weren’t, as Senator Dick Durbin put it, “owned by the banks”? If you want Congress to work for you and not special interests call your representative today and urge him to co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act, HR 1826.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ken Mercer would destroy our religious freedom in the name of Christianity

Ken Mercer and the other extremist members of the State Board of Education claim that the United States was established as a Christian nation and seek to bring down the wall of separation between church and state. This extremist cabal seems to have forgotten their history lessons regarding one of the primary reasons that many European colonists came to America. We all learned that the Pilgrims came here seeking to escape religious persecution.

The Founding Fathers were not so far removed from the European religious wars between Catholics and Protestant sects all over Europe that they could fail to understand the value of separating religion and the state. In the years 1553 to 1660 there was religiously inspired violence or war between Christian sects somewhere in Europe each year almost without exception.

Mary I, Queen of England (1553-1558), restored Catholicism and in the process had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions.

In France between 1562 and 1598, there were eight civil wars and other outbreaks of violence that were clearly motivated by religious differences.

The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), began in Bohemia when Ferdinand II became the king in 1617 over Protestant fears he would recatholicize it.

The English Civil War (1640-1660) involved various Protestant denominations and Catholics and included the beheading of Charles I in 1649.

Ken Mercer doesn’t understand that separation of Church and State protects his freedom of religion and our children’s, but our founders did.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Radicals on State Board of Education seek to undermine religious freedom

At the last meeting of the State Board of Education the members proposed and discussed various aspects of the proposed curriculum developed by the volunteer teachers and subject matter experts. Board member Mavis Knight offered the following amendment: “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” Knight pointed out that students should understand that the Founders believed religious freedom was so important that they insisted on separation of church and state.

Board member Cynthia Dunbar argued that the Founders didn’t intend for separation of church and state in America and claimed instead that the Founders intended to promote religion. She called the amendment “not historically accurate.”

Almost all constitutional scholars agree that separation of religion and state is clearly expressed in Article VI paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution which states: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Ken Mercer voted with the rest of the historical revisionists to defeat the amendment. If you value your right to practice your religion and teach your children that religion Rebecca Bell-Metereau must be elected to the State Board of Education.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Unintended Consequences aren't confined to the "liberal agenda"

District 5 member of the State Board of Education, Ken Mercer, wants students in Texas schools to learn about the unintended consequences of the “Great Society” legislation passed during the Lyndon Johnson administration. Since neither he nor the rest of his cabal listed any I wonder what those unintended consequences were.

I also wonder why Mr. Mercer’s cabal aren’t concerned that Texas students aren’t required to learn of the unintended consequences of repealing many of the provisions of the Glass-Stegall Act which prevented the collapse of our banking system for nearly fifty years until politicians from both parties dismantled it. Since then we’ve had a string of financial debacles, first the Savings & Loan crisis then the hedge fund collapse and now the Great Recession of 2008.

What of the unintended consequences of deregulating other industries? After the collapse of Enron which destroyed the finances of many Texans you’d think the conservative mantra of deregulation would be worthy of discussion. Even Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, now admits that the market isn’t as good at self correction as he thought it was.

Ken Mercer and his cabal claim that they need to make such adjustments to correct for the liberal bias of the volunteer teachers who give their time to write our curriculum standards and the “expert” reviewers. Oddly, most of those reviewers were in fact appointed by none other than the ultra-conservatives; except of course Ken Mercer, who couldn’t be bothered to make any appointments.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thomas Jefferson wasn't much of a political thinker according to Ken Mercer

I frequently hear from folks on the right that they admire the Founding Fathers but this only seems to apply when they agree with the particular founder. Ken Mercer, member of the State Board of Education for District 5, voted last week to remove one of the greatest of America's Founding Fathers from the World History standard regarding the influence of great political philosophers on revolutions from 1750 to today. Thomas Jefferson, a man who played a key role in the two most prominent revolutions in the history of the Western world, was removed. Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, is acknowledged around the world as an important political thinker but Ken Mercer doesn’t think he’s important enough for our high school students to study.

Mr. Mercer and his extremist cabal also rejected a proposed standard requiring students to “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” The First Amendment specifically states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” what else does Ken Mercer think it means?

Replacing the extremist Mr. Mercer who insists on politicizing the public school curriculum should be a very high priority with voters in District 5. Electing Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau would bring a breath of fresh air to a body whose reputation Ken Mercer has helped sully.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Using Mercenaries is Un-American

The United States now employs over 22,000 mercenaries through corporations like Xe, formerly known as Blackwater. The atrocities committed against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan in our name by these uncontrollable and unaccountable mercenaries have made the task of getting the cooperation of locals more difficult.

Our nation is paying billions of dollars to corporations for the services of these mercenaries enriching stockholders at the expense of our own service members. We should stop using mercenaries immediately and spend the savings on improving the pay and conditions of our troops who sacrifice so much for us. Those savings could be used to improve and expand the VA hospitals that so many of our brave service members must come home to and will continue to use for the rest of their lives.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Senator Bernie Sanders have introduced bills in their respective houses of Congress named the “Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act” and our legislators should sign on as co-sponsors of this non-partisan legislation. If we really need an extra 22,000 troops to fight these wars we should recruit within the U.S. or if necessary implement a draft. Using mercenaries will take us down the same path as Rome which was finally overrun by their own German mercenaries.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Attack on Austin IRS office - terrorism or criminal act?

When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City we agreed it was an act of domestic terrorism. When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underpants bomber, was caught trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 there was no problem identifying it as attempted terrorism.

A few hours after the plane crashed into the Austin building housing IRS offices various officials met with the media to proclaim that the incident wasn’t terrorism but a criminal act. Some on the far right such as the anti-government "Patriot" movement, which includes thousands of tax protestors, elevated Stack to the status of hero and are only disappointed that the death toll was so low. Yet if Joe Stack had been of the Islamic faith there’s little doubt the incident would have been called a terrorist act even by them.

How is the motive for these acts really any different? How can mass murder of civilians be terrorism sometimes and a criminal act other times? How can that same act perpetrated by an American citizen against other American citizens be considered heroic to anyone in this country, are we that far into division? Doesn’t anyone recall Lincoln’s admonition that “A house divided against itself cannot stand”?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Glenn Beck must think women shouldn't have the right to vote

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Glenn Beck said “progressives are a cancer eating the Constitution” and got applause. I wonder if the women clapping know that Progressives were the ones who fought for the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s suffrage. I wonder how all those giving that round of applause would feel if a million pounds of beef tainted by e-coli weren’t recalled because the Food and Drug Administration that Progressives fought for didn’t exist.

Would there even be a Toyota recall if it weren’t for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which is just one of the agencies protecting American’s that were inspired by demands of Progressives? The next time the U.S. is threatened with a pandemic like H1N1 (swine) flu would all Mr. Beck’s adoring fans at CPAC really want to deal with the outbreak without the Department of Health and Human Services?

Progressives are the people who fight for the everyday needs of Americans regardless of party or religion, whether rich or poor. Progressives are the people who make America the country that more people want to emigrate to than anywhere else.

Now I ask you does the fact that women now have the right to vote sound like a “cancer eating the Constitution”? Does having food and medicine untainted by disease or toxic chemicals seem like “cancer”?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mercer debate claims don't pass the smell test

State Board of Education District 5 incumbent Ken Mercer is running for re-election. In the Republican Primary debate held last week Mr. Mercer repeatedly claimed that students are not allowed to raise their hands and ask questions in science class. His opponent Mr. Tuggey suggested that, if that’s really happening then it’s a local issue which should be handled by the administration in that district, not micro-managed by the heavy hand of the SBOE. That’s a great way to look at the purported problem, but what Mr. Tuggey failed to note is that many of Mr. Mercer’s claims are ginned up to provide red meat to his most rabid supporters and I’m betting this one is too.

Ken Mercer also claimed that while the curriculum writing teams are required by law to involve participation of teachers, parents and business people; only teachers were involved. For this to be true none of the 102 team members must have any children, I find that highly improbable.

Mr. Mercer claims that conservative historians in classrooms were shut out of the process. Given that Republicans hold a 2 to 1 advantage on the board and appointed 67 of the 102 team members that is an absurd assertion. Can he seriously believe that not a single conservative was named to the teams with kind of majority? But wait, if he’s so concerned about the lack of conservatives, parents and business people why didn’t he bother to nominate even a single person to the teams?

Ken Mercer and the State Board of Education do more harm than good on teen pregancy

Recently KXAN in Austin hosted a candidate forum for various primary races including State Board of Education District 5. Incumbent Ken Mercer claimed that parents in his district don’t want their children to be taught about contraception only the consequences of sexual activity. Mr. Mercer has not been listening to his constituents because according to polls done in the last year parents across Texas want medically accurate sex education that includes contraception by an overwhelming majority. In fact polls have shown that up to 90% of Texans want abstinence-plus information about contraception and disease prevention included in sexuality education, but 96% of Texas schools don’t provide that information.

Not only are schools not teaching what parents want but 41% of Texas school districts teach factually incorrect information in their sex education programs. Actual materials used in Texas classrooms claim that HIV is spread through tears, sweat and saliva. Ask your doctor, they’ll tell you that’s just not true.

In 2000 Texas and California had very similar teen birth rates ranking 46 and 44 among the states respectively. About the same time Texas went with abstinence only until marriage sex education curriculum and California chose abstinence plus. Just 5 years later Texas had a more than 50% higher teen birth rate put Texas at 50th place while California is now in 27th. Current Texas policy is just not working and Mr. Mercer is one of the reasons it isn’t.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Congressman Ryan wants to do for Medicare what W failed to do, PRIVATIZE it

Congressman Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee, has put forth a budget plan that seeks to privatize Medicare which is the most efficient provider of medical insurance coverage in the country. Medicare spends 98% of its budget on health care while the typical private insurance company spends less than 80% of its budget on health care. Ryan’s plan would offer tax credits and vouchers with the amount indexed for inflation. Some would say that it sounds pretty good even though coverage under private insurance would cost substantially more than comparable coverage under Medicare due to the significantly lower efficiency of private insurance.

So let’s say that Congressman Ryan’s bill was accepted as the law of the land, last year inflation was so low that Social Security didn’t even increase payments under what is known as Cost of Living Adjustments, so we would expect that there would be no increase in the tax credits or vouchers. But what would stop insurance companies from raising rates just like Anthem Blue Cross just announced. In California they are hiking insurance rates as much as an astounding 39% and where in the past they’ve only raised rates once a year, they’ve warned that future rate hikes could come at any time.

So the Republican plan for health care reform consists of giving away tax dollars to private companies who can still charge Americans as much as they want and jack up rates as often as they want.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where is Elliott Ness?

The Senate Republican caucus is running an extortion racket by holding up confirmation of presidential appointees. Senator Shelby aided and abetted by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn is attempting to coerce the administration into giving the Pentagon's aerial refueling tanker contract to a foreign company, EADS, that along with its domestic partner has given him over $100,000 in campaign contributions.

That a United States senator would be willing to shut down the process of confirming administration appointees simply to help a foreign firm win a military contract is beyond just politics as usual. That the entire Republican caucus is complicit is disgusting. Senators Hutchison and Cornyn both talk about American values but when it’s time to do their jobs they are willing to roll-over in support of a colleague’s foreign campaign contributors.

The FBI should raid the offices of Senator Shelby and the entire Senate Republican caucus and launch a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) investigation. How I long for Elliott Ness and the Untouchables!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wasteful spending in the stimulus, but it's not what you think

The stimulus package signed into law by President Obama last year has been criticized by many for not creating jobs and for generally being a program of wasteful spending that only makes conditions worse. There is some truth to that, in fact 36.6% was wasted in an attempt to achieve Republican support. That 36.6% was tax cuts like accelerated depreciation (multiplier .027) which time and again has been shown to create substantially less economic activity than direct spending on things like schools and bridges (multiplier 1.59) or extending unemployment benefits (multiplier 1.64). Government spending increases by the Roosevelt administration stopped the economic free fall America suffered during the Great Depression. Tax cuts like Reagan’s trickle down economic policies led to greater deficits and no new jobs.

Much of the remaining stimulus funds went to state and local governments for use in paying our policeman and teachers among others. Without those funds our children would have found themselves in classrooms with substantially more kids per class and we know that leads to poor education. So while the stimulus didn’t create as many jobs as we need it did prevent things from getting worse.

If we want our economy to start making new jobs paying more than fast food wages we’re going to have to spend some big money and the best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure because not only does it provide jobs but we also end up with something of value when it’s done.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Privatization - the Bush gift that keeps on giving

It has been a Republican mantra for decades that private enterprise is more efficient than government. In 2005 President George W. Bush led the charge to privatize Social Security. Between the collapse of Enron and the banking system can you imagine where we’d be if he hadn’t failed? When the same president led us into the war in Afghanistan his administration used private security contractors, mercenaries - many of whom are not American citizens, to provide security for supply convoys and military bases. When President Bush led us into the war in Iraq his administration further privatized the war effort by using mercenaries to protect state department personnel leading to the alleged atrocities by Blackwater guards at Nisour Square where 17 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed.

During that same period President Bush appointed two new members to the Supreme Court. Those two members recently joined with three other activist judges from the right in a decision that effectively privatizes the United States Congress and Presidency. The decision in the Citizens United vs. the FEC which allows corporations both domestic and foreign to effectively purchase federal elected officials could well be the most enduring legacy of the George W. Bush administration.

Populist activists from the right and left, like the Tea Party and should make common cause to call for a constitutional convention as provided for by Article V of the U.S. Constitution to reverse this disastrous decision by amending our constitution.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Failing memory and poor reasoning skills should send Cornyn and Hutchison into retirement

Senator John Cornyn sent out an email today proudly stating the following “I have voiced my criticism of the intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board that aircraft, as well as the Obama Administration’s decision to treat this al Qaeda terrorist as a common criminal.” Perhaps the Senator has forgotten that his good friend former President Bush’s administration did exactly the same thing to Richard Reid, the shoe bomber and went on to convict him.

The Senator continues “The decision to hand Miranda rights to Abdulmutallab rather than interrogate him as an enemy combatant may have cost this nation critical intelligence necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks.” Again perhaps Senator Cornyn has forgotten the actionable intelligence our legal and ethical interrogation was able to extract from Mr. Reid.

Finally Cornyn says “I, along with Senator Hutchison, have written to President Obama urging him to reconsider the decision to try the Christmas Day Bomber in civilian court. Abdulmutallab should be designated as an enemy combatant, transferred to U.S. military custody, and interrogated using all lawful methods.” If all the military is going to do is use lawful interrogation methods then why is Senator Cornyn so interested in having Mr. Abdulmutallab in their custody? After all the F.B.I. most certainly has far more experience in interrogation than the military does.

I find that I must question Senator Cornyn’s memory and reasoning in this matter and since Senator Hutchison our would-be Governor apparently agrees with him then I must question her reasoning skills and memory as well. Given that neither of them can reason well nor apparently remember an important national security event which occurred on their watch with any clarity I believe that neither of them is qualified for the offices they hold nor the governorship Senator Hutchison seeks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Letter to Congressman Cuellar in light of the Massachusetts special election

Dear Congressman Cuellar,

Immediately after the Massachusetts Senate special election a Research 2000 poll of Brown voters in shows 82% of Obama voters who went for Brown support the public option and by a 3:2 margin think that the current bill doesn't go far enough. The Obama voters who stayed home think the bill doesn't go far enough by a 6:1 margin.

The Democratic Party has less than 10 months to start governing as a people-powered party, or we will lose both the House and the Senate. With the election of Scott Brown to fill Sen. Kennedy’s unexpired term the damage is done. Unless the Democrats move aggressively to correct the perception that we are the party of backroom deals and massive corporate bailouts, 2010 will be more of the same. Given that the Cook Political Report rates TX 28 as even between the Democrats and Republican you’re on the bubble and are likely to be one of the losers if the party fails to pass populist legislation.

So if you want to activate base voters you need to get behind a big jobs bill to put the nearly 10% of Texans who are unemployed back to work. You need to pass a strong health care reform bill with the Public Option. Surveys show that likely 2010 voters "oppose a mandate to purchase private insurance by 64% to 34% but support a mandate with a choice of private or public insurance by 60% to 37%."

You and the party need to pass green energy legislation and come to grips with the fact that global climate change will happen within the lifetime of many of today’s voters if you don’t do something now. Finally it’s time to stop pouring blood and treasure into Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our troops home so we can spend the money here on infrastructure, health care and education. Those are winning issues in the upcoming election.

I like a quote I read recently, "… a Democratic Party that would abandon their central initiative this quickly isn't a Democratic Party that deserves to hold power." I would add that if the party doesn't stick to the principles it professes to hold and stand up to the lobbyists you’ve kowtowed to from the start, "holding power" won't be anything you have to worry about because the Tea Party is gunning for you. In order to be re-elected you’re going to need the party base proud of what you’ve done and actively campaigning for you and not sitting on their hands at home like the folks in Massachusetts.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ken Mercer and company show disrespect to the citizens of Texas

Wednesday last week the State Board of Education, the elected officials charged with determining the curriculum standards and textbooks that Texas school children use, held a public hearing. This was the one and only opportunity for parents, community members and concerned citizens will have to make their concerns heard on Social Studies standards for the next 10 years. Texans from all over the state signed up to speak and many travelled hours in order to take the opportunity. Many took the opportunity to urge the board not to use its power to promote a narrow political agenda. Many others claimed the schools were much too liberal and needed to be reined in.

On many previous occasions the board has allowed the hearings to run late into the evening in order for citizens to be heard and Thursday evening debated issues after a dinner break until past 10:30 p.m. Wednesday evening though District 5 member Ken Mercer and the rest of the religious conservative bloc voted to end the hearings around 6:00 p.m. thus depriving dozens of citizens the right to be heard by the full board. I think it was incredibly disrespectful and Mr. Mercer should be ashamed.

Fortunately those of us in District 5 will have an opportunity later this year to replace Mr. Mercer with someone else. Hopefully it will be Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau who has made respect for teachers, citizens and potential fellow board members a focal point of her campaign.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why does Obama continue to cover-up deaths at Gitmo?

Will the Obama administration continue to be complicit in a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006? The story in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine is based largely on interviews with Army guards who were there and a report by the Seton Hall University Law School.

The three prisoners who all knew that they were likely to go home soon as investigation had shown that there was no evidence that they had been involved in Taliban or al-Qaeda activities and release was being negotiated. The manner of death initially reported as cloth shoved down their throats was suddenly changed to hanging hours later. Guards whose duty it was to check each cell every 10 minutes supposedly missed three people hanging from wire fencing for several hours but were never disciplined.

Decorated veteran Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, a man inspired by Ronald Reagan to join the military, has provided testimony to the Justice Department which is at odds with the report provided by NCIS. His testimony is corroborated by and expanded upon other Army personnel on duty on the night of the deaths but the Justice Department has ignored it.

Not only did NCIS not collect all the various documentary evidence available like video footage of the corridors around the cells of the deceased but they didn’t even bother to interview the Army guards at all.

Why is an apparent cover-up from the Bush administration being continued by the Obama administration?

Monday, January 11, 2010

When will Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison stop lying to her constituents?

In today’s constituent email she claims: “The President and the Democratic leadership have pursued a radical approach to health care reform that will not only result in higher taxes and penalties, but will also increase premiums and reduce patient choices.” The fact is that nothing in the legislation will reduce patient choice, in fact it will expand the choices of many of the six million Texans who now must rely on emergency rooms for treatment.

In her next sentence she claims: “In fact, under the bill, Americans will be taxed for four years before they will see any benefit of insurance reform.” But it’s not a fact the reality is that according to CNN “some benefits would start immediately, including provisions that would require private insurers to provide a minimum level of coverage, Medicare improvements, provisions to decrease administrative costs and targeted assistance for certain people ages 55-64.” In addition wholesale reform of something as large and complex as health care can not logistically occur overnight, after all Medicare Part B took two years to fully implement and this is even bigger.

A few paragraphs later she claims: “The bill passed by the Senate, with only Democrat support, represents a massive government expansion and federal takeover of our health care system.” That’s a lie, there is no takeover, as outlined in the Senate bill there is no government run health insurance program nor is there an expansion of Medicare.