Sunday, January 31, 2010

For County Judge: Phillip Aitsebaomo

I have a few reasons for opting to endorse in the contested primary election for County Judge of Fort Bend County. But one of them isn’t that I can understand 100% of what Dr. Phillip Aitsebaomo says when he speaks, and I can’t understand his worthy opponent, Rodrigo Carreon, when he speaks.

Dr. Aitsebaomo, a Nigerian-born naturalized US citizen, has that thick West African accent that makes you stop and listen very hard to what he is saying because he is speaking the English language no matter what your ears are trying to tell you.

Rodrigo, a native Texan, has no accent that I can discern. But his frenetic style of speaking also induces one to listen closely.

No, it’s not about speaking skills. In that issue, it is a wash.

I like Dr. Aitsebaomo because of his choices. He wasn’t born in America like Rodrigo and I were. He isn’t American by default. He chose to become an American. In the 2008 election he didn’t choose to support Barack Obama because he is an African-American (although I now see that he sees the benefit of that). Black Americans were a huge voting bloc for Barack Obama, but among African immigrants, I have read, there was very much a 50:50 split between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Africans remembered Bill Clinton’s policies toward Africa and hoped that Hillary would continue in that vein. Not Dr. Aitsebaomo.

“With Obama, maybe we can have a more meaningful relationship with Africa, a relationship based on more than just U.S. interests alone," added Aitsebaomo, who lives in Meadows Place. "We think Obama will take Africa more seriously.”

I like Dr. Aitsebaomo because of the ease that he makes very profound observations. Observations like “You need somebody who has common sense. We talk about common sense as if it is so common. Common sense is not common. You have to really think hard to know what to do.”

I like Dr. Aitsebaomo for the remarks he made about Barack Obama’s election a year ago. Remarks that I captured on video and have appended to the end of the campaign speech that I also videoed at the last meeting of the Fort Bend Democrats.

But finally, I want Dr. Aitsebaomo to run against the incumbent County Judge, Bob Hebert, because we can then put Dr. Aitsebaomo’s fully earned title and degrees (Dr. Philip Aitsebaomo, PhD, OD) up against Judge Hebert’s degrees. If you do the digging, as has the editor of the local newspaper you find that the only degree from an institute of higher learning that Hebert has truly earned is one from a junior college.

I know. Supporting a candidate because he can win in a game of college degree one-upmanship isn’t a good reason. So let me offer another reason to support the good doctor in the primary, and in the General Election.

I’d just love to sit and listen one day to scores of Fort Bend County (Texas) employees drawl out their new boss’ name: Apeameokhai Aitsebaomo.

That would be a treat and a half.

Video follows:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Judicial Candidates in Fort Bend County, Texas

Now that Democrats are close to achieving parity in Fort Bend County, and the county is poised to elect Democratic candidates to office this year, we have more than just a few people running for judicial offices this year.

Today I want to post videos of 2 of these candidates speaking at the January 2010 meeting of the Fort Bend Democrats.

First we have Frederika Allen, who will be running against Republican Judge Thomas Culver, III in November. Her Facebook page is here.

And we have Albert Hollan. Albert has run before in judicial races in Fort Bend County, and as he so well illustrates in the video, each time he gets closer and closer to victory.

Here is his campaign website.

Albert Hollan is getting set for a rematch against the sitting Republican judge in the 268th district court, Brady Elliott.

Both of these candidates are unopposed in the primary and will face sitting incumbent Republican judges. Fort Bend County has been ruled and abused by Republican officeholders for decades now. We need to change that.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another CD 22 Headache

I was thinking today about the fact that the only federal office on any given Texas primary ballot this year is for the office of congressman. No senator is running in this inbetween midterm election year.

And where I live, in CD 22, which stretches across parts of 4 counties (thanks to the gerrymandering efforts of Tom DeLay) we have three candidates on the Democratic primary ballot.

Three virtually unknown candidates.

Only one of them, a Libertarian has any kind of track record in the elections process. And that would be Freddie John Weider, Jr, and that is because he ran for the same position in the General Election in 2008 against Nick Lampson and Pete Olson.

The other two, Doug Blatt and Kesha Rogers, are first timers. So while John Weider has next to no name recognition Blatt and Rogers have utterly no name recognition that can help the voter separate them out on the ballot.

And from where I sit, unless some drastic changes occur, that will be their status come the primary election which is set to begin a mere 18 days from now beginning on February 16th with the beginning of Early Voting.

So then how does an ill-informed Democratic primary voter decide who to vote for when they reach the polling booth? Unfortunately, it is the case that some voters opt for the first name they see on the list of candidates. That is why a drawing occurs in each county to determine what place on the ballot a given candidate’s name will appear.

I know it doesn’t sound right, but that’s just the way it is. A voter need not be informed on candidates or issues in order to vote in this country. All they need to be is registered, 18 and not a felon.

So, OK the question begged today. Where do these three congressional candidates sit in regard to their ballot positions in the 4 counties that CD 22 extends over?

Unfortunately, there is no information on CD 22 from Brazoria County. The county elections website is still geared toward the November ’09 Constitutional Amendment election and the county party has no information at all. That skews things somewhat. Brazoria County had over 10,000 Democratic primary voters in 2008 in their 20 CD 22 precincts. There will be less this time but still, that’s quite a chunk. So there’s a weakness that I will have to live with. I was more successful with the 3 other counties.

Here is a screen shot of the Fort Bend County sample ballot for CD 22.

Here is the same shot of Galveston County’s sample ballot for the office.

And here is Harris County’s version of a sample ballot for that congressional district.

Isn’t that interesting?

The only true Democrat, Doug Blatt, has his name in the top position only in Harris County. Kesha Rogers got the number one spot in Fort Bend County, and Freddie Weider got the top spot in Galveston County.

So you would think that in the case of ballot position, it’s pretty much a wash, right? And in that you would be wrong.

45% of the Democrats in CD 22 live in Fort Bend County, 32% live in Harris County, and 11% live in Galveston County.

And not only that, Kesha has the number one or number two spots in all three counties. Freddie splits his 1-2-3 evenly, and Doug has only one number 1 position and runs in the #3 spot in the other two counties.

So not only does Kesha have an advantage in having a ballot position, her number one position occurs in the county with the greatest number of primary voting Democrats.

Scoring by ballot position and percent of the total primary-voting Democrats, I have the three candidates scored in the following way, using a Half Empty scale of 1 to 20 scale (where 20 is a score you get if you have the top position in all three counties for which there is a published ballot):

Kesha Rogers: 10.38
Doug Blatt: 8.7
Freddie Weider: 5.75

Blatt overtakes Weider only due to the fact that his #1 position is in more populous Harris County, and not in Weider’s least populous Galveston County.

So I find it ironic, and just a little bit too alarming, that the only true Democrat on the ballot (Rogers is a “LaRouche Democrat”) does not, if this analysis is at all valid, have the greatest advantage among the lesser informed Democratic primary voters.

Frankly, and this should be of no surprise, I am not optimistic that we will have a true Democrat to vote for in November against Pete Olson. I think that unless something happens pretty soon, the numbers being what they are, and voters doing what they do, we may just have a problem here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Justice Alito: “You Lie”

When will the oppos in the audience at a joint session of congress learn to mind their manners?

President Barack Hussein Obama fulfilled his constitutional mandate to deliver an address to the House and Senate. The Joint Chiefs, the Justices of the Supreme Court, and a host of other hangers on were also invited to listen.

The last time Obama spoke to congress, it was about healthcare reform. In one of his remarks, Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina couldn’t contain himself and shouted out the words “You lie” to the president.

Blogged here.

This most deservedly earned him several days of bad press, and Teabagger delight. Making me wonder which was worse.

But last night, Barack Obama rightfully criticized the 5 justices of the Supreme Court, who were sitting in chairs right in front of him, for handing down that stinker of a decision giving corporations complete power of the purse in our soon-to-be extinct democratic system.

Take a look at this 16 second You Tube clip and you will see the camera cut away from Obama and zoom in on the right side of Justice Alito’s head to collect a reaction, if any.

Alito cooperated and issued a wince at 11 seconds and a full sentence between 13 and 15 seconds. The sentence? One can clearly see are the words reading his lips: “That’s not true.”

That is, what the President had just said was at odds with the truth. A prevarication, if you will.

A lie.

That’s a lie.

View it again to see what a truly stoic visage our newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor had at the same instant in time.

This is the face of maturity.

I suspected all along that Justice Alito is a petulant child, and now I see the truth of that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pete Olson Digs a Hole for Himself

All over the news last night was the story about how 4 young men of the Republican persuasion were caught red-handed, as it were, trying to pull a prank in Democratic Senator from Louisiana Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office. A prank that, as it turns out, is a felony because they were posing as people they weren’t trying to do something that they wanted to keep a secret. They were in a federal building, a federal office, under false pretenses. A felony

Two of them, you see, were dressed as telephone repairmen, one was sitting in the getaway car down the block, and a fourth was capturing the moment on his cell phone’s video. That fourth person, James O’Keefe III was the same James O’Keefe who posed as a pimp last year in his attempt to set up some community workers in an ACORN office.

Back then, O’Keefe secretly videoed two women trying to help him and the girl who posed as his prostitute, and posted the heavily edited video on You Tube.

This instantly vaulted the young man and woman to national and international fame. They became the darlings of conservative news media.

A House Resolution, HR 809 was filed to commend the couple’s heroic action to bring down a national organization whose soul purpose was to render aid.

HR 809 reads like this:

“Honoring the fact-finding reporting done by Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe III in their investigation in the fraudulent and illegal practices and misuse of taxpayer dollars by the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN).”

And then the resolution goes on to list all of the accomplishments of Hannah Giles (the pseudoprostitute) and O’Keefe. Stuff I just don’t want to quote because the whole thing is utterly laughable. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where it still languishes.

And now here comes the best part. The freshman congressman who filed the resolution is none other than my congressman, Pete Olson.

And the resolution has 31 co-sponsors, Republicans all.

You would think that there would be a causal connection between Pete Olson and the ACORN affair, and in that you would not be wrong. As it turns out, O’Keefe’s co-conspirator, Hannah Giles, is the granddaughter of Texas SREC committeewoman Terese Raia. And Terese Raia lives in Congressman Olson’s district, CD-22. Even better, Raia got her granddaughter to speak at the local Republican women’s club late last year, as reported by FortBendNow.

So Pete Olson has officially made it into the history books by offering a resolution commending the actions of a felon-to-be doing exactly the same thing he did in the ACORN office.

Doing exactly the same thing that he and Terese Raia’s granddaughter are being commended for in HR 809.

It really doesn’t get much sweeter than this.

Oh wait, yes it does.

Everyone in his district who reads this needs to send an email to Pete Olson’s congressional email address urging him to get HR 809 out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote.

He is, after all, still praising the actions of O’Keefe, according to The Hill:

“Individuals who lawfully expose wrongful activities by an entity like ACORN receiving federal tax dollars should be praised.”

So really, if he still feels this way he should do his darnedest to get that House Resolution to the floor while the iron is still hot.

And about that hole he has dug for himself? Keep digging Pete.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Judge Joel Clouser “Allowed” on the Ballot

I heard this via word of mouth last week, but now see that Bev Carter has the story on the Fort Bend Star website.

I like spreading word of mouth stuff around, but do feel more comfortable when I see it printed elsewhere. Comfortable like getting the story right comfortable.

It seems that Tony Sherman, who has filed to oppose Judge Joel Clouser in his bid to be re-elected to his Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace tried to do an end-around earlier this month, and get himself, and himself alone on the primary ballot. Sherman looked at the 747 signatures that Judge Clouser filed in a candidates petition, in lieu of the $1000 filing fee, and called some of them into question to his friend and County Chair of the Fort Bend Democratic Party, Elaine Bishop.

Bishop took Sherman’s suggestion and counted 160 names that lacked a city, state or zip code on the signature line. If included with 144 signatures which were found to be invalid, that would take his total valid signatures from 744 to 440, 60 shy of the 500 minimum required signatures.

If Clouser were excluded from the ballot, Sherman would have found himself elected because a Republican running in Precinct 2 has next to no chance of becoming elected to anything.

An election by County Chair fiat, and at first, that was what was going to happen.

But in the article by Carter, it seems there was a change of heart. It seems that Bishop now feels that it was the voters who should decide who should be elected to the office.

From the Fort Bend Star:

“Bishop said she felt very strongly that the voters should decide, and therefore she and Sherman had come to an agreement to let Clouser’s name remain on the ballot.”

Now you know, that makes absolutely no sense at all. If the minimum number of signatures aren’t collected, the candidate should by all rights be excluded. Take it to the extreme: how many under 500 is permissible then? 60 (as in this case)? 61? 100? 499?

A candidate’s petition is meant to show that a candidate has a voter base and is not just any old nut who wants to run for office for free.

So Bishop’s decision, and the logic and reasoning that went into it, was ludicrous and actually anti-democratic. But that was the reason she gave for including Clouser on the ballot.

But that wasn’t the real reason.

The real reason was two-fold. First, the Supreme Court has already ruled that a candidate’s petition signer does not have to include their City and State information as long as the voter is registered to vote. Something that is easily verified on the voter enrollment records.

That is, quibbling in this way to keep people off the ballot is not the intention of the founding fathers. They wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to run for office.

Second, with that decision as background, keeping Clouser off the ballot would result in a massive lawsuit. A lawsuit that would have exposed the incompetence of the Chair.

The incompetence of a County Chair who by all rights, and by all minimum expectations, should be up to snuff on the latest rules on the requirements of candidates’ petitions signatures.

It also underlines the sheer ignorance of the man who wants to replace Judge Clouser. Sherman claims that Judge Clouser was “skirting the law” in being allowed on the ballot, something that he was going to take to the precinct chairs.

Sherman, on the other hand has been caught red-handed attempting to skirt the election.

Judge Clouser came to the Fort Bend Democrats’ club meeting last weekend and I videoed his remarks. He also attended the Fort Bend County Democratic Party meeting.

Sherman attended neither meeting.

Here is what Judge Clouser said to the Democratic club meeting. I especially like his description of his “Teen Court.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Phillip Andrews: What Really Matters

Running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Texas State Rep in House District 26 is Phillip Andrews, a local educator, accountant, PhD-to-be and all around nice guy.

Andrews will face Charlie Howard in November.

Howard hasn’t drawn a General Election opponent since 2004 when he ran against Jeanette Popp. Back then, before Democrats started moving into the district, Popp could attract a little over 30% of the vote.

In the ensuing years, Charlie Howard continued to rake in the lucre, giving many Republicans in the district some pause. There doesn’t seem to be a bottom to Howard’s avarice. Something he will admit to anyone – after informing you he is a Christian, that is.

In 2008 Howard drew two challengers in the Republican Primary: Paula Stansell - a very credible moderate Republican who had enough of Howard, and Norm Ley.

Stansell got 31.18% of the Republican vote, Ley, a little over 4 percent. Confirming something to me that I already suspected: Howard was vulnerable in a general election.

Phillip Andrews, Howard’s November opponent, is everything that Charlie Howard isn’t.

You can, and really should acquaint yourself with Andrews through his campaign website, where he tells a very remarkable story of his life on a Texas farm, and the early trials that he has faced in life.

A truly remarkable story.

And you can watch him speaking at last week’s regular monthly meeting of the Fort
Bend County Democratic Party. I have the video below.

What can I say about Phillip Andrews? Maybe just this for now: Phillip Andrews redefines for us the word “sincerity.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fort Bend County’s Precinct 1 JP Court Draws 6

Amazingly enough, an office that has been very quiet for years and years in Fort Bend County is attracting six candidates to run for it. That office is Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace – Place 2.

Why this is, if you don’t know, will be very clear in about 20 seconds.

Judge Gary Geick has been occupying the office of JP in Precinct 1 for 30 years. In all that time he has had little or no opposition. But last year, Judge Geick suffered a stroke and it has kept him from his duties for months now. He is not expected to return to the bench until March or April.

But Republicans don’t want to wait for him to retire. They sense a weakness in Judge Geick and are willing to bet that Precinct 1 Republicans want to go with a younger (and healthier) candidate in November.

Democrats are another story. Democrats assume that Gary Geick will be renominated and that the winner among a field of three will face him in November. The difference being that County Commissioner Richard Morrison, of Precinct 1, has demonstrated that a Democrat can win in that precinct.

He did.

So three Democratic candidates have emerged to compete for the nomination. In alphabetical order they are Aurelia Moore, an educator, and Marty Rocha, a sheriff’s deputy and some other guy.

Two of the three have come out to speak not only at a Fort Bend Democrats’ regular club meeting, but also at the Fort Bend County Democratic Party’s regular meeting.

Marty Rocha has been conspicuously absent.

I am not endorsing in this race because, quite frankly, both candidates that I have seen and heard seem like quality candidates. Both would serve the public interest just fine if they were elected.

I don’t envy Precinct 1 voters. They have a hard choice to make.

But if you live there, you need to make a decision. If you can’t meet them click on the You Tube videos I have posted below.

Here is Aurelia Moore.

You’re welcome.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hank Gilbert’s Money Troubles

Hank Gilbert, running for the Democratic nomination for Texas Ag Commissioner has gotten himself into some money troubles of late.

No, not the money troubles that millions have gotten themselves immersed in courtesy of the deregulation of the banking industry, a wholly owned production of the Republican Party, Phil Gramm and his Chief of Staff, Pete Olson.

Not that kind of money troubles.

The kind of money troubles that a candidate, any candidate, of any political persuasion doesn’t need in the heat of battle.

Hank Gilbert has “bad check” money troubles.

From this article in the Austin American-Statesman, it looks like someone discovered Hank Gilbert’s 2001 guilty plea in a Class C misdemeanor case against him for writing bad checks.

Hank says it was all a mistake and a comedy of errors.

Hank paid the $100 fine and eventually covered the checks.

I won’t dwell on it, it’s all here for you to peruse.

But that’s not the end of Hank’s money troubles. It seems another kind of bad check has been dogging Hank Gilbert’s campaign recently. Two of them actually.

Not “bad checks” in that they weren’t covered by the issuer, they were. “Bad checks” in that they simply stink to high heaven.

All of this sprung on us last week by the Texas Tribune.

From the Texas Tribune:

“Gilbert announced on Friday, December 4 that he was getting out of the race for governor and into the race for agriculture commissioner.”

“Shami donated $100,000 to Gilbert three days later — on the following Monday according to Gilbert's report with the Texas Ethics Commission. And the Houston air care potentate gave Gilbert another $50,000 on New Year's Eve, the last day of the year, and of the reporting period. That accounts for two-thirds of the $225,000 Gilbert raised during the last six months of 2009.”

OK, the timing was bad. The timing was very bad. Anyone can tell you that. You just don’t quit a race, throw your endorsement on your former opponent, and then accept a hundred and fifty large from him a few days later.

You just don’t. That just smells like a 2 day old pole cat carcass baking on a hot Texas Farm to Market road.

And then you don’t do this. You don’t deny that there was ever a check, or there ever was a quid pro quo.

You don’t do this:

“Vince Leibowitz, now Shami's campaign chief, held a similar post with Gilbert at the time. And he was busy trying to knock down two stories in the first two weeks of December.”

“One was about the money. "It's just bulls--t," he told me at the time.”

“He now says he didn't know about the contributions until later. And in any case, he says, there was no connection between the contributions and Gilbert's decision to get out of the race for governor. ‘I was not aware that he had [given that money] when we talked in December.’”


And predictably, Kinky Friedman, Hank Gilbert’s primary opponent for Ag Commissioner wasted no time calling on Gilbert to return the checks.

From the Dallas Morning News Trailblazers blog:

“The Friedman campaign called the exchange "a bribe" and said the East Texas cattle rancher went from ‘attacking Shami to endorsing him and attacking Mayor Bill White.’”

“Gilbert mentioned his hurt feelings in today's DMN story. Friedman said in the statement that there's one ‘sure-fire way of fixing that...give the money back to Farouk.’”

Now anyone who reads this blog with any frequency (yes, all 7 of you) knows that I think the reason that Kinky Friedman is running for Ag Commissioner for nothing more than to promote himself, along with the sales of his salsa, action figure and cigar brand.

I still do firmly believe that.

And I really don’t appreciate how he promotes the purchase of carcinogens on his campaign website. And how he makes sticking a rolled up bunch of leaves in his mouth and lighting it up look too cool for the room despite his dehumanization of women who volunteer for the task. People are people, despite their frailties.

But the man has a point.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On the Dehumanization of American Corporations

Yesterday’s 5 to 4 ruling by the US Supreme Court is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back of the ridiculous notion that corporations have the same constitutional rights as any living, breathing human citizen of the United States.

By ruling that corporations have been denied their right to free speech by limiting the amount of money that they can donate to a campaign, or denying them the right to produce campaign ads in support of a candidate or political cause, the right wingnuts of the Supreme Court have essentially given the keys of democracy to corporate America.

Hemming and hawing over whether to send $20 to a presidential candidate? Worry no more. Not when Mother Exxon can give a billion dollars to its candidate of choice.

Who can compete with that?

How, I asked myself, has it come to this?

Well basically it began 124 years ago, in its decision in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad (the epitome of robber baron corporations at the time). At the time California did not allow corporations to deduct its mortgage debt from the taxable value of their property (like humans were allowed to do).

Where it really gets interesting is that the court did not actually hear the case. It refused. The decision was that the court declined to rule on the case.

Get that? This is a Supreme Court non-decision that started this country on the road to “corporate humanhood.”

Where did the language come from then? How did it get so badly twisted?

The court’s reporter wrote the language.

The court reporter, J. C. Bancroft Davis, was responsible for writing the headnote to the decision. A headnote is essentially a summary statement, outlining the case, main facts, and arguments.

He wrote these words in the decision’s headnote:
“The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.”
If you look for this in the actual opinion, you will be left scratching your head. It’s not there.

But that is the precedence, and that is what Justices Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts based, in part, their decision to let the wolves guard the henhouse.

So what do we do? This cannot stand, you know.

Well obviously “corporate personhood” as a concept must be destroyed.

The Green Party has had a plank in their platform to end “corporate personhood” for years.

This is from their platform, found here:

“Eliminate Corporate Personhood: Legislation or constitutional amendment to end the legal fiction of corporate personhood.”
And yesterday a new organization was launched,, that is circulating a motion to amend the US Constitution. The organization is a coalition of 14 public interest groups across the country. The Motion to Amend, found at their website, says this:

“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.”
Now as far as I can determine, these groups are all from the left wing. But I really have to wonder what the Teabaggers think of this Supreme Court decision. What do the Libertarians think?

The Boston Tea Party, the event that the teabaggers all point to, was essentially a protest against oppressive and monopolistic corporate actions.

Leave no doubt what Republicans think of this, as witnessed by the remarks of Ohio Congressman John Boehner:

“I think the Supreme Court decisions today are a big win for the First Amendment and a step in the right direction. No organization — business, union, whatever — should be limited by the government.”

But my guess is that rather than take a machete to corporate humanity, to “dehumanize” corporations (which are by definition, dehumanized entitites), Democrats will likely resort to fixes in campaign finance rules.

In short, I think we are all so screwed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who does Scott Brown Have to Thank for His Victory?

Really. Who does Massachusetts Senator-Elect (and Teabagger) Scott Brown have to thank for giving him his victory last Tuesday?

Obama-voting Democrats, Republicans and Independents, that’s who.

But not all of them. The ones he needs to thank the most are those who are FOR a public option in a healthcare reform bill.

These are the ones he needs to thank, not Teabaggers or Republicans. These people are so irate over congress’s failure to pass a stronger healthcare bill that includes a public option that they were motivated to show up at a polling place in mid-January, in the snow, and cast their votes of protest.

A vote of protest to send a message to congress to get serious about healthcare.

A vote of protest that, ironically, practically guarantees either of two scenarios: 1) a rubberstamping of the bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve, or 2) no healthcare reform now or in the foreseeable future.

It’s ironic and it doesn’t make any sense at all, but I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it happen where Democratic voters vote for a Republican because they are upset that their Democratic incumbent hasn’t been Democratic enough. I’ve seen in happen where they just stay home or withhold their vote rather than vote for the Democratic incumbent because they are upset with his less than blue votes on key issues.

I’ve seen that.

So as nonsensical as it sounds, I actually believe the Research 2000 exit poll commissioned by Democracy for America, MoveOn, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Look at the numbers here.

Isolating the numbers by listing the votes of voters who voted for Obama in ’08 and for Scott Brown in ’10, the poll is revealing.

82% of all voters who voted for Obama and Scott Brown both, “favor…the national government offering everyone the choice of a government administered health insurance plan.”

46% of Democratic voters who voted for Obama and Scott Brown both “oppose the health care reform proposal recently passed by the U.S. Senate.”

And 49% of Democrats believe that the recently passed healthcare reform bill “doesn't go far enough.”

So OK, let’s do the numbers and keep it conservative (statistics-wise).

Total votes for Brown: 1,168,107

Total votes for Coakley: 1,058,682

Total votes for the Libertarian (who cares what his name is): 22,237

Total votes cast: 2,249,026

Now according to the poll, 18% of the voters who voted for Brown voted for Obama in ’08. That means that the total number of Obama voters who voted for Brown was about 210,000 (rounding down). Of these, 82% support a public option in any healthcare reform bill.

That’s 172,000 votes (rounding down)

Had those voters not decided to cast a protest vote and vote for the candidate who could keep the debate going between the House and Senate, keeping the 60th vote, Coakley would have won the election.

Coakley: 1,230,682 (54.72%), Brown: 996,107 (44.29%)

So yes, I can understand the protest vote. I am also one who hates what the Senate gave birth to last month. I wondered, in a previous post, whether it might be a mistake to sign this into law because it was a huge gift to the insurance industry. I still wonder about that.

But this was not about healthcare. It was about maintaining a filibuster-proof senate. So if that’s what these 170,000 voters were thinking in casting their votes for a teabagging, racist, sexist homophobe to dismantle a Democratic majority, then these voters need to do a reality check.

170,000 voters decided the fate of healthcare, and all subsequent legislation for the rest of the year.

Next time you hear someone say that their vote doesn’t count, remember this tale of woe. A tale of woe that saw 170,000 voters undo what 62,704,840 voters did in 2008.

That is, 0.27% undid what 62 million voters did.

That’s some serious undoing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For Texas CD 22: That’s Blatt

Logically, the follow-up to my endorsement of Robert Pruett for the Democratic nomination in the Texas CD 14 congressional race is to produce an endorsement for one of the three who are running for the Democratic nomination in my own congressional district, Tom DeLay’s old CD 22.

Also known as the Fighting 22nd.

With Nick Lampson unable to draw enough Republican crossovers or Independents to make a difference in 2008, we are now saddled with Grand No Partier extraordinaire, Pete “Just Say No” Olson.

By the way, I have Pete on video for his entire speech given at the TEA Party event in Sugar Land last April and I excerpted parts of it on a posting, but maybe as we get closer to the November election we need to see more of it.

Pete Olson chumming it up with the Teabaggers. That’s just plain fun.

But I digress.

This year Democrats have three candidates running for the Democratic nomination to run against Olson in November. They are, alphabetically, Doug Blatt, an Information Systems specialist (aka computer geek), Kesha Rogers, a political activist, and Freddie “John Wieder” Jr., a real estate broker, businessman and recently ordained minister.

Let’s dispense of the last, first.

“John Wieder” (why does he put two names in quotes?) is a Libertarian. We know this because he ran as such against Nick Lampson and Pete Olson in ’08.Wieder has lots of issues and I don’t just mean the political ones.

What I have learned from limited contact, and maximal perusal of his website, Wieder is running on a platform of God, Guns, and the universal right of all old guys to wear tacky, tacky ties.


Lakesha “Kesha” Rogers is a LaRouche Democrat. She is a fervent follower of the LaRouche Movement. When I first encountered Kesha this was very apparent from the very first paragraph of her literature. She has since buried the LaRouchian rhetoric in paragraph 4 of her recent literature. But I really like paragraph 5 much better:

“My intention in running is not to wait until January 2011 to implement this (LaRouche) plan, but to use my campaign, and those of my fellow LaRouche Youth Movement members also running for the Democratic nomination for Congress – Rachel Brown, who will oust incumbent menace Barney Frank, and Summer Shields, who will retire Speaker Nancy Pelosi – to mobilize the American people NOW, to regect the fascist policies imposed by the British monarchy, through its puppet Obama, in favor of the ‘LaRouche Plan’ which is in the tradition of those policies which have historically led to prosperity for out nation, and happiness for our people.”

As I said, a favorite passage of mine. Very revealing. As revealing as "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (Obama, a puppet to the British Monarchy? . . .yep). Winning, it seems, is not foremost in her mind. Using her candidacy to promote other races is.

Guys, read up on it yourselves. The LaRouche Movement is an “out there” political cult that is, in my opinion, as eclectic as the Libertarian Movement. But mainly, I have never forgiven the LaRouche Movement for foisting upon California voters Proposition 64 in 1986: a ballot proposition that was soundly defeated by Californians by a 4 to 1 margin.

Proposition 64 sought to restore the disease AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) to the list of communicable diseases. Had this passed, this would in effect have required the quarantine of hundreds of thousands of Californians with HIV and AIDS, denying them a right to work for a living. They made wild claims that AIDS could be transmitted by insects, respiratory contact, and indeed any casual contact whatsoever. They called their campaign the “Prevent AIDS Now Initiative Committee” (PANIC). The proposition was resubmitted in 1988 with similar result.

They finally got the message.

So I have to reject Rogers as well. Rogers = LaRouche.

Leaving us with the computer geek, Doug Blatt.

Now make no mistake, Blatt is about as new to politics as he can get. He has experience in Information Systems working in the Michigan Legislature so there’s that. But Blatt’s issues are the Democratic Party’s issues.

  • He is for reforming “No Child Left Behind”
  • He is for repealing the Bush tax cuts.
  • He is for reform or repeal of the Patriot Act (well . . .which is it?)
  • He is for Medicare for All
  • He sees the need to build a mass transit system connecting Houston with the outlying areas in the district.

And again, I have video. Here is Doug Blatt in some pretty raw footage that I took last night at the regular monthly meeting of the Fort Bend Democratic Party.

Here is his website. Already I have a problem with the first four words in the second paragraph, but we can’t agree all of the time.

So it’s really a no-brainer here. First we need to clear the field for the only true Democrat on the primary ballot.

Then we go from there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

For Congress: In TX – 14 Pruett Can Do It

There is one guy who serves in congress, has served in congress for 7 continuous terms, who doesn’t serve his own people and doesn’t deserve to sit in that congressional seat.

That person is Dr. Ron Paul, known as “Doctor No” to colleagues and staffers.

He has earned that moniker by voting “No” more often than a nun in a whorehouse.

And he has demonstrated to his own constituents the level of his commitment to them by gallivanting off to run for US President back in ‘08 in a race he didn’t have a prayer to win.

Not that his constituents noticed at all because not voting is pretty much the same as voting No these days if you are a Republican.

Which Ron Paul isn’t.

Dr. Ron Paul, Ob.-Gyn., is a Libertarian. A Libertarian who hides in Republican clothing. Paul is such a fervent Libertarian that he has named his middle son, Dr. Rand Paul (who is running for US Senator from Kentucky), after novelist/objectivist Ayn Rand – the Russian-born writer and philosopher whose ideas embody the Libertarian movement.

Ron Paul just needs to go, and since his district, CD-14, takes in a portion of northern and far western Fort Bend County, that makes it local and personal to me, even though my congressman, Pete Olson of CD-22 is the one I should worry about most.

So in CD-14 we have three individuals who have filed to run in the Democratic primary. These are Robert Pruett, the present Chief of Police of Galena Park PD in Brazoria County, Jeff Cherry a lifelong educator and coach from League City who has taught mostly at Clear Creek High School, and Winston Cochran, a League City attorney.

Of the three, Pruett Can Do It.

Now how can I possibly have arrived at this conclusion so early in the game? I wish that it was always this easy, frankly.

Jeff Cherry, is an educator, but Jeff Cherry is also a Democrat in Name Only. A DINO.

How do we know this? I have it on a YouTube video here. Cherry was interviewed by a videographer at a TEA party rally last April where he announced that he was running against Dr. Paul “as a Republican.”

It doesn’t take much of a barometer to determine the impossibility of that task. Cherry saw that he didn’t have much of a chance in a primary running against Ron Paul, so he switched parties. So one can conclude that a vote for Cherry as a Democrat is just as senseless as a vote for Paul as a Republican.

Winston Cochran is a bit of an enigma. He is listed on the TDP candidates’ list as an attorney from League City. But I had to dig a little to find a Cochran track record. Winston Cochran has run for judicial offices in the past. In 1998 he ran for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2 and won the Democratic primary (because no one ran against him) but then lost in the General Election to the Republican. In 1996 he ran for the same office, it seems, and lost in the primary. He has three opponents and finished dead last.

And I had to ask myself why.

Then I tripped over the answer. Winston Cochran ran in the Republican primary for House District 135 in 1992.

Another DINO.

This really leaves one no other choice. Robert Pruett is the only one running in the CD-14 Democratic primary who is a lifelong Democrat.

Here is his website, check it out.

And here is why I think Pruett has a chance in this election (besides being the only Democrat running for the job). Pruett is a cool customer. He has 30 years in law enforcement and looks every bit like it.

He talks like Texans, too. This is from his website.

“The people of the district deserve better than someone who talks about the Constitution all the time but does nothing. I have upheld the Constitution every day for over 30 years, I don’t need to talk about it. The people need someone in Congress who understands Texas and will work with others to bring help to the people of the district. Help they didn’t get after Hurricane Ike. Taxes are here to stay; we need to bring the benefits from those taxes home.”


And I have video at You Tube of Pruett speaking to the Fort Bend Democrats this past weekend.

Yep, that’s what he’s like. He’s a solid citizen and a rock solid Democrat. Pruett calls his opponents on the Democratic primary “Yayhoos.” Now you can hear him say it, can’t you?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Steve Brown for Fort Bend County Democratic Party Chair

I had the opportunity to listen to Steve Brown, a Democratic activist who currently serves as Secretary of the Fort Bend Democrats club, speak about his candidacy in the upcoming March 2nd primary for County Chair of the Democratic Party .

Brown has a broad range of political experience that uniquely qualifies him for this position, a position that has unfortunately been occupied by a woman who has not responded to the growth of the Democratic base in this county. A party chair who makes it difficult, if not impossible for people to run for office – one of her main functions as party chair.

A county party chair who has refrained from supporting the party’s nominees in the General Election.

Steve Brown promises to change all of that. But don’t just take my word for it. I videoed Brown’s speech at a recent meeting of the Fort Bend Democrats. During the speech Brown was interrupted several times by a woman who remains loyal to the current party chair despite the neglect that the chair has wreaked upon her own people. I understand that. I understand loyalty. I even understand blind loyalty because I am sometimes tainted with that very thing. But I don’t understand loyalty in the face of incompetence.

This is my way of explaining the video edits. In order to let Steve speak uninterrupted, I edited the video and did some rearranging. I don’t know, you tell me. I think it flows, and it highlights Brown’s strong points.

Didn’t get the Facebook URL? It’s here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What It Means to Run as a Democrat in Fort Bend County

I got off to a premature start in endorsing the race of Rebecca Bell-Metereau for the State Board of Education District 5 spot, a race that is important but also one that lies outside the boundaries of Fort Bend County.

And I like to do that from time to time, but it is now 44 days until the March 2nd primary and it is now 30 days until Early Voting begins. It is time now to focus locally because as former Senator Tip O’Neill once declared “All politics is local.”

So I thought I would begin with an uncontested race in the Democratic Primary because the Democratic candidate-apparent, Korinthia Miller, is starting to experience what it is like to run for office as a Democrat in Fort Bend County.

Korinthia Miller will be running against Fort Bend County Clerk Dianne Wilson this November. Dianne Wilson has been County Clerk in Fort Bend County since 1983. That’s 27 years so far.

Now Dianne Wilson seems to be a nice person, a nice person who is also a Republican. And therein lies the rub. Because, you see, in Fort Bend County, Republicans have been in charge of nearly everything, have held nearly every county elected office, for years and years now. And that’s how Republicans like it. So when a Democrat dares to oppose one of their own, Fort Bend County Republicans close ranks.

And they have closed ranks on Korinthia Miller.

In essence, it is like it was in The South in bygone days, when there were places where Whites could go and eat, attend films, go to school and drink from drinking fountains – and places elsewhere where Blacks could do likewise.

Only now it’s a little different. When a Democrat wants to rent a facility to hold a fundraiser, doors are shut on them. Not because of their race (hopefully) but because of their political creed.

Miller revealed this everyday fact of life in a very frank statement in a speech she delivered yesterday to the Fort Bend Democrats. A passage from her speech is transcribed below:

“She [Dianne Wilson] has Fort Bend . . . a lot of friends in Fort Bend. I have tried to do fundraisers and have been turned away because they are her friends and they don’t want to rent space to me, they don’t want to be associated with her opponent, anything. So what I need, surprisingly enough, are spaces that you know will let me rent. A room, a restaurant, anything. Because that’s a problem I’m having right now.”

Here is the video that includes this statement and more.

Here is Korinthia Miller’s website. If you have a friend who owns or manages space that can be rented by her campaign contact them here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Texas Governor Perry Rejects Millions in Federal Education Funds

I read it in the Houston Chronicle.

Yesterday Governor Rick Perry announced that Texas would not be competing for its share of the $700 million pie that was being offered up by the federal government via a program known as “Race to the Top,” a program that has already been funded by American taxpayer dollars (including those of Texans).

Because, apparently, it would give the Yankees some say over what Texans should be teaching their children.

From the Chron:
“Texas will not compete for a potential $700 million in federal grant funding for schools, Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday, because it could give Washington too much say in deciding what the state's students should learn.”
That’s because, as we all know, what our state school board does is best for the children of Texas as well as for any other state who has to use textbooks that Texas will approve for its students, because Texas buys their textbooks as a single paying unit.

The president of the Texas Association of School Boards, Sarah Winkler, released the associations resounding rejection of Perry’s rationale:
“The governor's unilateral decision not to submit a plan means that Texas school districts that are facing serious financial challenges will not have an opportunity to apply for federal funding to implement positive changes in our schools. Even one-time funding would allow districts to institute meaningful reforms.”
And a unilateral decision is exactly what it is. There is no recourse. Perry’s decision is final and irrevocable.

In short, it is what Teabaggers prefer to say about decisions like this: it is tyranny.

When decisions like this are made, decisions that will take education funding right out of the hands of school districts across the state, we need to rethink not only who sits in the Governor’s office right now, and whose political party he represents, but just whether there needs to be a new definition of the executive branch of state government that does not allow this kind of dictatorial conduct.

Texas SBOE Debates the Dismantling of Social Studies Education in Texas

Making good on their threat to meet and debate a complete re-write of American history, the Texas State Board of Education sat down yesterday and did just that. Mercifully, their neoconservative agenda was so packed that they completely ran out of time and had to postpone continuation of the debate until their next meeting in March, when debate will continue, for a now-delayed vote of final approval, now to occur in May.

I have perused the liveblogging by members of the Texas Freedom Network as they report on the highlights of the debate, these can be found here, and can only conclude that future Texas public school students are going to have some irreparable harm done to them as they are treated to year after year of revisionist history – history that any neoconservative evangelical would want to impose on young impressionable minds thus guaranteeing a steady supply of Texas Teabaggers into the middle of the century.

It brings to mind a quotation that I remember from George Orwell’s masterpiece, “1984,” an alarming futurecast of society ruled by a government whose sole purpose was to maintain power by completely controlling all information.
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'”

Like for instance how Margaret Sanger, a nurse who spearheaded the American birth control movement that ultimately became Planned Parenthood, never did anything at all, and in fact, never actually existed.

Like for instance how America’s imperialist period, essentially mimicking the imperialism of European countries at that time, was not really imperialism. Don McLeroy wants to call it “expansionism.” I can get with that, really, but I would prefer that we use the older word that described the activity, older and therefore has senior status: the older term is Liebensraum (Hitler, A, 1925).

Like for instance how students should be taught that government regulation and taxation are bad for the economy – rewriting the accomplishments of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies – which were actually bad for the country, very bad.

Like how Barbara Cargill wants to include Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address as president of the CSA. My guess is that this is to let future 8th grade students in on the rumor that the South was justified in seceding from the Union and that the North was the oppressor when they mounted a counter measure that became known, here, as the War of the Northern Aggression.

In short, it would appear that the neocons on the Texas state school board are engaged in an all out war for the minds of Texas youth. A war to fill their heads with lint and pocket fluff, and limit their exposure to things like “multiculturalism” and “globalization” as well as past injustices (like slavery and genocide).

Another two quotes from Orwell’s book come to mind, ones that I believe should be cast in bronze and mounted on the wall in the school board meeting room:
“Ignorance is Strength”

“Freedom is Slavery”
Because if the school board’s conservatives get their way, we are going to raise a new generation of children who are strong and free.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Think John Healey is in for a Drubbing

I call it my Grand No Teaparty Poll. It is the way that I test the winds of change in the thinking of Republicans in Fort Bend County, Texas.

It has to do with signage.

You see, I live in a fairly conservative corner of Fort Bend County. Here it is about 70% Republican to 30% Democratic. And you get to know who are the Republican Party activists in the area because they are the first ones to put out campaign signs.

In 2006, when the Texas Democratic Party filed suit against the Republicans when they tried to replace Tom DeLay on the November ballot . . . and won . . . we had a write-in campaign for Shelley Sekula Gibbs. Republicans in the area got on board and posted those really ugly signs in their yards.

She lost the write-in campaign but won the special election because nobody ran against her. Treating local Republicans to 6 weeks of hilarious misbehavior of a paranoid gone ballistic.

So the next time around, Republicans got themselves a carpetbagger to run against Shelley in the 2008 primary. Again, out came the campaign signs in the neighborhood – same residences, same Republican activists – but this time the ugly Shelly signs were replaced by carpetbagger/teabagger Pete Olson signs.

(sorry, it was the only photo I could find of one).

And Pete Olson sent Shelley Sekula Gibbs back to her dermatology clinic.

So these residences have become for me something of a bellwether for the way the winds are blowing in the Republican Party.

Bringing me to the Republican primary and the challengers that Fort Bend DA John Healey has attracted.

Here and elsewhere we have noted the goings on in the county DA’s office, notably how Healey continued to tolerate the misdeeds and mishandlings of his immediate underling, Mike Elliott. Healey was becoming an embarrassment to Republicans. Fortune did not smile on the Democrats who failed to find one person who was willing to take the pay cut and run for District Attorney, but this does not deter Republicans, who have mastered the whole running for DA thing.

And so we saw that at the end of the January 4th filing deadline, John Healey, who had his big four by eight campaign signs peppered around the county before Christmas, attracted two challengers: Nina Schaeffer, an attorney, and Richard Raymond, another attorney.

And today, for the first time, I saw Healey’s opponents’ signs sprout up all over my neighborhood.

Like this one.

And this one.

Right at the moment it looks like it is about 4:1 in favor of Raymond but who knows how it will go between those two - it's early yet, right?

But in the whole neighborhood, not one “Re-Elect John Healey” sign is to be found - - - on someone’s front lawn, anyway.

I think John Healey is in for a big disappointment. Just as they did with Shelley, my bellwether GOPer neighbors have done likewise to Healey, this despite his first out of the chute effort at planting campaign signs wherever you look.

But I think to no good result. I think he’s going to lose.

Proving again the time honored saying:

“The first shall be last” (Jesus, 33)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Quake Disaster Fallout – What You Can Expect From the Right

News yesterday evening that the west coast of Haiti was struck by a 7.0 earthquake that was centered at fairly close to the surface 10 miles from its capitol city of Port au Prince gave many of us who have lived through earthquakes the shivers.

The Richter Scale is logarithmic, so when you hear about an earthquake in California of magnitude 7.0, like the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and it knocks down a buildings, freeways and baseball stadiums and sets off a rash of natural gas leaks, you get an idea of strength. In California, however, fault movement is rather deep-seated so by the time shock waves reach the surface they are dissipated by a widening area. The Haiti quake was centered, I hear, only 5 miles below the surface, and at 7.0, it was stronger than the Loma Prieta quake at the surface because of the proximity of the shock origin to the surface.

I hear that tens of thousands are homeless. Their presidential palace and their national cathedral lie in ruins.

Hospitals cannot take care of the throngs that come for help because of the sheer numbers and the fact that the hospitals themselves have sustained earthquake damage.

A nightmare. These people live in one of the poorest countries in the world and they have now been hit with this.

So how does the political right react to the fact that these people have lost their lives, homes and fortunes?

Not very well, it seems.

Rush Limbaugh has used his bully pulpit to lambaste President Obama for his public statements of support and rendering of aid. Transcribed from the video posted on

“Alright, Haiti. Here is President Obama speaking about Haiti ahhh . . .this morning in Washington at the White House, he held a press conference. Now, I want you to remember that it took him 3 days, 3 days, to respond to the Christmas Day Fruit of Kaboom Bomber… Ah, he comes out here in less than 24 hours to speak about Haiti [statement by Obama]. All this is what he lives for. He lives for serving those in misery. Now don’t misunderstand here folks, see this is . . . I, I, I wonder – I don’t have the whole press conference – but I wonder did he apologize for America before acknowledging that we are the only people on Earth that can possibly help them out down there in any significant way?”

Huh? What? Did I just hear Limbaugh criticize Obama for being too fast to promise humanitarian aid to disaster victims in the western hemisphere (where we live)?

And then we have the Reverend Pat Robertson, you know, the guy who started Regent University, the university that has produced more neoconservative evangelicals than any institution of “higher learning” per capita, weigh in on God’s Plan for the devil worshipers of Haiti.

From HuffingtonPost:

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it.They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, ‘okay it's a deal.’”

"Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."

Contrasting Haiti with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, Robertson continued.

“That island of Hispaniola is one island. It is cut down the middle; on the one side is Haiti on the other is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.”

Same island, different ruling deity, apparently.

But Robertson is hopelessly ignorant of earthly things, isn’t he? It took me just a few minutes to divine why Haiti is wracked with seismic events, and The Dominican Republic is relatively free of earthquakes. Same island, different seismicity. From the USGS, here is a map of the seismicity of the Carribbean region:
See Haiti? It is the country on the west side of Hispaniola, near the center of the map. The large island just east of Cuba. See the colors? The Dominican Republic has more seismic events than Haiti.

It, in actual fact, is far more seismically active, historically, than Haiti is. But you know, when you don't have earthquakes very often, as Haiti does, pressures build up, you know, like what occurs along the San Andreas Fault. Pressures build up and then, all of a sudden, all h-e-double hockeysticks breaks loose.

But who are we to trust? The United States Geological Survey with all those elitist arugula-eating snobs? Or Pat Robertson who keeps hearing God shouting in his ear?

Or is that just tinnitus?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Democrat’s Response to Religious Bias on the SBOE

As happens from time to time, rarely, but it does happen, a commenter on my previous piece on the State Board of Education’s Foray into Revisionist History has actually filed to run for a seat on the State Board of Education, none other than Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a Democrat, who is running in District 5 for a position on the state school board.

I decided to front page her comment because it so exemplifies the viewpoint of a fair-minded person of Democratic persuasion. Quoted in full, here is what Dr. Bell-Metereau wrote:

“Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Or a nation founded on religious freedom? We need to keep personal politics out of education and bring the focus of the board back to the educating the children of Texas in a fair and balanced way. This is why I am running for State Board of Education, District 5.”

“-Rebecca Bell-Metereau”

Her campaign website can be found here.

According to SBOE watchdog Suzy Allinson, this is how District 5 sits in the primary and ultimately, in November:

“District 5 - Parts of Bexar and Travis Counties, as well as Bell, Burnet, Llano, Gillespie, Blanco, Kendall, Hays, Caldwell, Guadalupe and Comal Counties. Ken Mercer (R), incumbent. Mercer has filed for re-election and will be opposed in the Republican primary by Tim Tuggey. Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Robert M. Bohmfalk, Daniel Boone and Josiah James Ingalls will face each other in the Democratic primary. The 2006 down-ballot percentages for this district are 41.2% D, 58.8% R.”

So this is a race with lots of opposition, with even a Republican primary challenger filing against incumbent Ken Mercer.

The Republican, Tim Tuggey, has never served in any elected office, has never dealt with the school board (and promises that he never will) will nonetheless oppose social conservative and religious evangelical board member Mercer, observing that he wishes to move the board away from the “overheated ideological debate” that has plagued its effectiveness.

Well there’s that, so if the Tuggey wins the primary in this Republican favored district at least we will lose Mercer’s religious bias.

But never mind that. Where a Republican may moderate this contentious debate, electing a Democrat to this post practically guarantees that the board will return to securing for Texas some quality discussion on education improvement that is absent of the mindless squabbling over something that is constitutionally forbidden anyway.

A crowded Democratic field of four exists, but in my limited research I have only encountered three of the four Democratic candidates’ campaign websites, that of Bell-Metereau, Josiah James Ingalls, and Daniel Boone. The Herald-Zeitung has a fairly comprehensive article on the District 5 race, from which I have gleaned the following tidbits of information on the other three Democratic candidates.

Robert M. Bohmfalk, out of Seguin, with no campaign website that I am aware of, is apparently a mental health caseworker who is also an ordained United Methodist minister. He has no experience in the field of education from what I can gather. Giving him credit, however, he did sign the Texas Freedom Network’s statement of opposition to the school board’s attempt to censor biology content.

Dr. Daniel Boone, PhD (I kid you not, that’s his name) is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who has taught at university and is a clinical psychologist. Boone, however, agrees with the Republicans, both Mercer and Tuggey, that Texas should steer clear of federal education standards as there needs to be “more local control and innovation throughout the country.”

Whatever that means.

I guess I should point out the fact that science curriculum in Texas was adopted from federal standards 20 years ago. Most states did that because it was the only comprehensive curriculum in existence.

Josiah James Ingalls is probably the biggest study of all. Ingalls is running on the platform that he was legally denied an education past 3rd grade until he was 18 years old. He never fully explains why, however. He eventually earned a high school diploma. Ingalls appears to be alone in supporting the concept of charter schools.

Getting me back to Dr. Bell-Metereau.

Rebecca Bell-Metereau appears to be the real deal. A Democrat. An award-winning educator, and a leader in the field of education. Of the four Democrats in the field, Dr. Bell-Metereau is by far the most qualified to sit on the state board and has the correct attitude that Texas needs to turn the corner on its path toward educational mediocrity and promotion of religious agendas.

I don’t get to vote in District 5. And unfortunately I don’t get to vote against Cynthia Dunbar who cureently represents my district because this anti-public education school board member who homeschools her own children has deigned not to run for re-election this year.

But if I did live in District 5 there is no question that I would cast my primary ballot for Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Texas SBOE’s Foray Into Revisionist History

We all knew it was coming, but the Austin American-Statesman has a rather in-depth article on recent actions of the Texas State Board of Education’s in their project to rewrite the state’s social studies curriculum.

The article is a revelation, if you will, on how the board of education, led by conservative evangelical Chair Gail Lowe, is attempting to do something that is usually anathema to conservatives, by a twisting around of the truth. By a reinterpretation of what we know about American history.

By engaging in what is known in the field as “Revisionist History.”

Firstly, why is this anathema to conservatives? Well, the analogy to revising what we know about American history is in the reinterpretation of what the founding fathers meant in their drafting of the founding documents of the federal government: the US Constitution. Conservatives are all about “strict construction,” that is, not reading more into the meaning of the constitution other than what was originally intended by those who wrote it.

So in engaging in a revisionist view of American history conservative evangelical members of the SBOE are in effect doing to history what progressive liberal Supreme Court Justices have done to the constitution in the past - much to the consternation of conservative justices.

Now, how does what the conservative evangelicals are trying to do to the social studies curriculum constitute revisionism?

First, as shown in the Statesman article, advisors who have been hired to help rewrite the curriculum have grasped two conflicting ideas and unbelievably melded them together as one doctrine.

From the American-Statesman:

“Barton and Marshall [the evangelical consultants] were among six reviewers chosen by the board to make suggestions for changing the curriculum. Their key recommendations for revision include more emphasis on documents from early America like the Mayflower Compact of 1620, written by Christian pilgrims who wanted religious freedom, or adding the Bible to sources that influenced the creation of significant documents when America was founded. If their changes are accepted, students who now receive a more generic overview of religious freedom and its importance in the country's founding would be taught that the nation's founders wanted to shape America based on biblical principles.”
So let me get this straight. What we have here is some cherry picking on the part of these two consultants to bring about a reintroduction of Christian religious doctrine in the public school curriculum.

Yes, the Mayflower Compact, the governing document of the Plymouth Colony, established a government in Plymouth, and the compact is purported to have been made “for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country,” the actual reason it was drawn up was to cover a change in plans.

The pilgrims, it turns out, were originally supposed to land and settle at the mouth of the Hudson River, in lands owned by the Virginia Company. A change in plan caused them to settle further north, in Massachusetts. This, we now know, caused several of the settlers, not of the Puritan faith, to claim that they were free to act independently from the Puritans. The Mayflower Compact nixed that plan.

But now we are to accept the surficial notion that the government was established to further Christianity.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if your average run-of-the-mill Puritan were asked whether they were establishing a government-sponsored religion, their form of that religion no less, they would have recoiled in revolt. If anything, Puritans were all about escape from religious persecution.

That’s why they emigrated to America.

That the founding founders, the framers of the constitution were also Christians who wished to establish a Christian nation is also laughable.

Most of the Founding Fathers were non-Christians and were known as Deists. Indeed Thomas Jefferson is famously cited as having written, later in life in a letter to letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, these words:

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

But now we are being made to believe, by these two Christian revisionists of American history, that not only did the pilgrims intend a Christian government (when they were escaping a government that was trying to impose a religion upon them), but so were the Founding Fathers, when that was the last thing on their minds.

All of this in the guise of establishing a specific religious creed on Americans who are of ever-expanding diverse backgrounds. In a school system supported by taxpayer dollars.

All I have to wonder is this then. If the SBOE and its neoconservative evangelical members get their way and succeed in establishment of Christianity as the required religion in Texas, what is next?


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Republicans Argue A Reid/Lott Double Standard: Rubbish

Now usually I would stay out of this because a person of non-color, like myself, has no business weighing in on whether what Harry Reid said in what he thought were off the record remarks about President Obama’s skin color and “accent” was appropriate or not.

I’ll just say that in weighing who to support during the run-up to the primary season, I did not choose Barack Obama as my first choice at the time because I didn’t think America was ready to elect an African-American as President of the United States.

History and Obama’s masterful oratory proved me wrong.

But now that my senator, junior Senator John Cornyn has weighed in, and is calling for Harry Reid to step down from his leadership position – because of a double standard – well yes I do have to offer an opinion on the senator’s assertion: Rubbish.

John Cornyn is quoted in Politico as saying this:
“…any Republican who said what Reid said would be under attack from Democrats, leading African-Americans and the media.”
Enlarging on Cornyn’s observation RNC Chairman Michael Steele made the analogy that should make every progressive American’s blood boil:

“What’s interesting here, is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough. If that had been Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the [Democratic National Committee] would be screaming for his head, very much as they were with Trent Lott.”
So, OK, we need a brief history lesson, then, don’t we?

In December 2002, at an event that feted the 100th birthday of Senator Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott as Senate Majority leader made the seemingly innocent observation that America would have been better off with Strom Thurman as President when he ran for the office in the 1948 election:

“When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either.”
Republican apologists at the time claimed that Lott was simply showing his respect for the most senior senator (at the time). Others scratched the surface of his remark and didn’t like the smell that filled the room.

Trent Lott, like his mentor, Strom Thurmond, was a segregationist of the first order. When Lott attended university, the University of Mississippi, during the turmoil and race issues in the early ‘60s, Lott oversaw a controversy whereby his fraternity, Sigma Nu, was considering admitting African-Americans to its exclusive whites-only club. Recalls former CNN president Tom Johnson, a Sigma Nu member, “Trent was one of the strongest leaders in resisting the integration of the national fraternity in any of the chapters.”

In short, Trent Lott’s remarks in 2002 bespoke those of an unrepentant segregationist, someone who wished for simpler times when Whites held office and Blacks poured coffee.

In other words, Harry Reid’s remarks, while unfortunate and very much reflective of his White Judeo-Mormon Nevadan background, cannot hold a candle to Trent Lott’s racist reverie.

And even to suggest equivalence between their remarks is a trip down the path toward a bovine male’s defecation.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Republican Lying Liars

With apologies to Al Franken whose book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” is in part, inspiration for today’s post, I want to address some of the lies, and talk about the lying liars who apparently are getting a free pass by the media to spread their prevarications.

Like Lying Liar Rudy Giuliani, who in an interview by George Stephanopoulos told the huge whopper “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama.”

Former Bush press secretary Dana Perino likewise spread this propaganda on False News:

“I don’t know all of their thinking that goes into it but we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term, I hope they aren’t looking at his politically, I do think we owe it to the American people to call it what it is.

Or Republican spinner Mary Matalin, who on December 27th laid this egg on CNN, again without getting called on the carpet about it:
“I was there, we inherited the recession from resident Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history . . .”
Lies and more lies.

But the media doesn’t do their job. This is one of Al Franken’s points. The myth of the “liberal media” is just that – a myth.

So I decided I needed to “edumacate” myself on how many terrorist attacks occurred on American soil during the Bush Regime, from September 11 2001 to January 20th 2009.

Here is what I could come up with:

September 11th, 2001: 19 Saudi citizens board 4 jets that morning and two of them plow into the World Trade Center in New York City, one of them hits the Pentagon, and one of them, probably targeting the Capitol Building, augers into a field in Pennsylvania. President Bush, in office for 7 months and 22 days is informed of this fact while he is reading “The Pet Goat” to a class of schoolchildren at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Florida.

Reading the book while holding it upside down.

2,997 lives were lost that day.

September 18 (and onward) Anthrax powder is mailed to media offices and two Democratic senators.

22 people were infected with the disease. 5 died.

Both Bush and Cheney speculated that the attacks originated from al-Qaeda despite mounting proof that the spores were actually from a strain developed at the government biological defense lab at Fort Detrick.

It is still not known who perpetrated the crimes, or why.

December 22nd 2001: Richard Reid attempts to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 out of Paris, flying to Miami with a synthetic explosive, PETN, hidden in his shoe. His attempt is foiled by the airplane’s crew and fellow passengers.

May, 2002. 21-year old Luke Helder placed 18 pipe bombs in the mailboxes scattered across the United States to protest government control over the lives of American citizens as well as the illegality of marijuana.

No one was killed but several were injured from the bomb blasts.

July 4, 2002: Hashem Mohammed Hadayat attacked the El-Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport killing two and wounding 7 before he was captured. Hadayat had ties with al-Qaeda 2nd in command Ayman al Zawahiri and is categorized as a “super sophisticated sleeper” terrorist in the service of al-Qaeda.

September 5th, 2002: Paul LaRuffa, 55, is the first of John Allan Muhammad’s 14 victims to die in Washington DC area sniper attacks over a 23 day period. In at least one of his trials, Muhammad was found guilty due to “the direction or order” of terrorism.

October 1, 2005: Joel Henry Hinrichs detonated a bomb of his own construction just outside a crowded football stadium on the University of Oklahoma campus, killing himself. No one is sure whether he intended to detonate the bomb in the stadium, but it is suspected that the bomb was set off prematurely as Hinrichs was seen “rummaging through his knapsack” just prior to the explosion.

March 3rd, 2006: Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar drove an SUV through a crowd of people on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, allegedly to avenge the deaths of “Muslims worldwide.” No one was killed, nine were injured.

July 28, 2006: 1 person was killed and 5 people were injured as Naveed Haq, a gun wielding terrorist shouted, “I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel” and opened up on a crowd of people at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

So the next time you hear one of these lying liars spreading their vile lies in the media, make sure the media hears about it. George Stephanopoulos was sorely rebuked in the media, courtesy of And Stephanopoulos is melancholy as a result.
“All of you who have pointed out that I should have pressed him on that misstatement in the moment are right. My mistake, my responsibility.”

Friday, January 08, 2010

On Retirement of “Negro” From the English Language

Now I haven’t used the word “Negro” in my everyday speech, to my knowledge, ever. The word was the polite way to refer to people of African-American descent, especially if one eschewed the far more common racist term. But my recollection is that up until the early ‘60s, if one wanted to refer to African-Americans politely, one used the term “colored.”

At that time, the term “black” was considered derogatory.

Then for some reason, “black” became the term of preference as the civil rights movement gained legs.

Then we had temporary acceptance of “Afro-American” or just simply “Afro,” although that latter one got confusing because one had to get from the context whether one was referring to one’s ethnicity or one’s hairstyle.

And finally, as of the early 21st century, I think we have settled on “African-American” and “black.”

And “negro” is universally viewed as archaic. The last white person I ever heard who used the term was Kinky Friedman, who tries to pass himself off as a populist.

Why mention this? Well it’s now 2010 and the country is about to count its citizenry again, and ethnicity is one of the things they are tracking. So it comes as some surprise that fully 50 years after the term has been allocated to the dusty shelves of history, the US Census will contain in the vast majority of its questionnaires a box that one can check if they identify themselves with being African-American. The box to check in that case has more than one term, however: “black, African American, or Negro.”

This is because, they say, some older African-Americans identify themselves with the term “Negro.”

However, the Census Bureau is not without a brain and this year, for the first time, they are going to send out 30,000 forms that does not include the term “Negro” to test the notion that they can retire the term.

I am of the opinion that “Negro” like its coarser near-homonym is not only antiquated but should now be considered derogatory. Like the blogger at The Root, I believe that asking one to identify themselves as “black, African American, or Negro” is tantamount to someone with special needs identifying themselves as “Handicapped or Retarded.”

It isn’t even an English word. “Negro” stems from the Latin word “niger” which means “black.” Why go out of your way to use a term that is derogatory and not even English?

Why focus on using this antiquated word to identify an ethnic group? It makes as much sense to refer to someone who sells fruit and vegetables as a “costermonger” rather than a “green grocer.”

It is time, at long last, to retire the term “Negro” to the annals of history.

Or maybe, the term should be reserved for the exclusive use of Glenn Beck.