Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cain Isn’t Able

You want a working definition of a zombie? Herman Cain.

Zombies are the walking dead, and Herman Cain qualifies as a classic example of someone who is dead but doesn’t know it or want to admit it. Today Herman Cain tried to lay off the allegations of his former mistress on (probably) some white guys who want him out of the race.

Now, it’s probably true, in Republican politics, that white guys want Herman Cain to be out of the race to the nomination. He has become an embarrassment, much like Newt, Mitt, Ron, Rick, Rick and Michele, but Cain has the unfortunate reputation, now of making moves at white women. Republicans will forgive a lot. They will, for instance, forgive a man who fooled around while his wife was being treated for cancer, and divorced her when she didn’t have the courtesy to die real soon.

They won’t forgive a black man for making moves on white women who are asking for a little help.

They won’t.

So Herman Cain is about as dead as Marley’s Ghost.


He’s as dead as the skunk that I ran over on the way to work today.

And the stench in Cain’s case is even deeper.

But he just doesn’t know it. Or maybe he does, but still hasn’t sold as many books as he wanted to.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Well That’s a Relief, Texas Can Continue to Inadequately Raise Revenue

Late yesterday justices of the Texas Supreme Court, Republicans all, ruled that the business franchise tax was not unconstitutional as alleged by plaintiff Allcat Claims Service LP.

This was a lawsuit that was filed last year that claimed that the 2005 revamp of the Texas tax collection system, a totally inadequate one given the basic necessities of what it must pay for, was unconstitutional because of the 1993 Bullock Amendment, passed by the legislature and agreed upon by Texas voters, that forbade the establishment of an income tax.

Yes, voters voted not to have state income taxes. Do tell.

The court found that this was not a tax on the income of real flesh and blood people, but a tax on an entity.

So we can all breathe a sigh of relief that one of the state’s major sources of revenue, a totally inadequate source of revenue given the current biennial budget shortfall of $28 billion, will not be squished like a cockroach in a corner.

They can continue to raise revenue from businesses, revenue that doesn’t cover costs.

Frankly, I was routing for an overturn of the business tax, not because I want Texas to face a budget crisis like it has never faced before, but because I wanted the legislature to be forced into a corner and finally pass legislation that would adequately fund public school education and Medicaid.

But that’s our Republican Supreme Court, enabling the cutters of government services one more time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

They Have Womanizing in Common, But Newt’s Up and Cain’s Down?

OK, now I have to ask this question. Newt Gingrich is well-known for his sexual dalliances with women not his wives, 3 at last count. And wife number two was on death’s door when Newt divorced her so he could marry the woman he was fooling around with at the moment, his present wife.

And Newt, supposedly because of this and other issues, like his flip-floppiness on the issues and his massive spending, is now up in the polls, beating Mitt Romney in a primary election by several percentage points.

Yet Herman Cain, equally a womanizer who has gotten several accusations of sexual harassment, and today, an announcement of a 13-year affair with another woman, who volunteered the information, is way down in the polls, in the low teens.

What’s with that?

Why do Republican voters love them some Newt despite the fact that he cheated on two wives, most recently when he was trying to get Bill Clinton impeached for the same thing, and turn their backs on Hermann Cain for his sexual misbehavior?

A double standard exists, I think.

Gee, I wonder what it is…

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Deference is Exactly the Point

Now, as part of the presentation of new congressional district maps drawn as a result of a continuing federal trial in Washington, DC, all sides were given the opportunity to submit comments before yesterday. In and among the comments filed before the deadline was this choice gem filed by the state:“Showed no deference?” Deference?
Because the Court changed all 36 congressional districts, it is clear that the Court has showed no deference to the congressional redistricting plan enacted by the Texas Legislature.”

Now I know the meaning of that word, but perhaps someone needs reminding what the word deference actually means. Here is one definition: “respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another.”

In among those words are these: respectful, judgment and opinion.

That is being respectful of the judgment and opinion of the Texas Legislature. An opinion, and a judgment that because of how they drew these district maps up, is beneath the respect of everyone.

Really and truly? The state is critical of how the 3-judge panel, two of them being Republican appointees, redrew the congressional district maps because they got no respect?

That’s kind of the idea, you know.

But I’m willing to cut the judges some slack and say that probably not all of the district boundaries needed to be redrawn, but because others definitely had problems, when you move a boundary in one district because it is unfairly drawn, that means that this same boundary that is shared by a neighboring district also has to move, even it there is no good reason to move it.

It’s either that, or the congressional district map was so poorly and unfairly drawn that it actually required that all 36 districts’ boundaries to be adjusted. That is, the state just proved the plaintiff’s case.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Redistricting Fallout: Aaron Pena is History

n India, it’s called karma. I call it justice. Aaron Pena just took a look at the district boundaries that the 3-judge federal panel redrew for him, converting it from a Republican-safe to a Democratic-safe district, and decided that there was no way he was going to win in the next election.

There was no way he could win as a Republican, and there was no way he was going to win by re-ratting, or returning to the Democratic fold.

Pena couldn’t be elected dog catcher and he knows it.

Pena, in deserting the Democratic Party at its darkest hour, enabled the Republicans to have a super majority, and enabled the passage of the worst laws in a long, long time.

And it is obvious to all what enabled the enabling. Pena was wooed into becoming a turncoat by being promised that his Democratic district would be “adjusted” into a district only a Republican could love.

That’s just another indication of how bad the new district maps were going to be for Democrats. Turning a Democratic-safe House district in the Rio Grande Valley into a Republican-safe district is no mean feat. They worked with a definite purpose.

And now Pena’s district has been returned to the Democratic majority.

And now there is dancing in the streets of Edinburgh, Texas.

Because now Aaron Pena is history.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I am Thankful For

On this Thanksgiving Day as we begin the 2012 election year, I just want to thank the Republican Party for the most unlikely field of candidates to challenge my president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Thanks for Michele Bachmann. A truly crazed woman with ideas that are nuttier than pecan pie.

Thanks for Herman Cain. A womanizer extraordinaire who is delusional if he didn’t think his past misogynistic behaviors weren’t ever going to come out.

Thanks for Newt Gingrich. A guy who couldn’t just wait until his bed-ridden cancer-stricken wife to pass before getting it on with his present wife, all while serving up Bill Clinton to an impeachment trial for lying about his dalliance. A guy who wants to repeal child labor laws.

Thanks for Mitt Romney. A guy so two faced that it takes him twice as long to shave in the morning as most people.

Thanks for Rick Santorum. Hey, someone has to be in last place, might as well be Rick.

Thanks for Rick Perry. A guy so dumb that he actually makes George W. Bush look like a rocket scientist.

Thanks for John Huntsman. A guy who is most likely to appeal to moderates and independent voters, but hasn’t a snowball’s chance in the infernal region of getting the nomination, not if the Tea Party has anything to say about it.

And thanks for Ron Paul. A perennial presidential candidate whose crazed Libertarian ideas are becoming mainstreamed by the Tea Party.

Yes, there is truly a lot we can be thankful for. This blog may be called Half Empty, but today my cup truly runneth over.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Color Me Thankful

Color me thankful today, the day before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Eve if you will. Thankful for the 3-judge panel of federal judges who oversaw the drawing up of a new congressional district map that will very probably be used in the 2012 election.

You see, Texas gained nearly 4.3 million additional citizens between 2000 and 2010, with over 60% of them being Hispanic. So you would think that the state legislature would draw up new congressional district maps that would reflect this change in the state’s demographics and give at least 2 or 3 of the new congressional districts coming to Texas from other states to this ethnic group, wouldn’t you? But no, this is Texas, and in Texas you don’t do the right thing if you are on the right, you do what is in your conservative heart’s best interest. You create 4 new Republican congressional districts, and in the meantime you divide Texas’ capitol city into 5 congressional districts where there were two before, and you put one of the most liberal Texas congressmen in an Hispanic-dominated district with an Hispanic primary challenger.

In short, you do the wrong thing.

Fortunately, Texas chose the wrong side in the American Civil War, and then behaved very badly in the years after Reconstruction, passing law after law that discriminated against ethnic minorities. This brings the state under the purview of the Voting Rights Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

A law that requires that all redistricting maps be reviewed by the federal government before they can be put into use. And the feds are fairly obvious in their view that there has been a gross miscarriage of justice in the maps that the legislature produced.

Another federal judge panel has ruled that “the State of Texas used an improper standard or methodology to determine which districts afford minority voters the ability to elect their preferred candidates of choice.” So we now have some new maps that favor the election of 3 Democratic congressmen representing Hispanic majority/minority districts. New districts in San Antonia and Fort Worth as well as a new district in South Texas.

A zoomable district map can be found here.

But perhaps the nicest thing about this new map, in my own personal case, is what the judges did to my congressional district, Tom DeLay’s old district, CD-22. CD-22 used to look like one of those Indonesian leather shadow puppets called Wayang Kulit. Here is the old map.

See? It was distributed over a broad demographic in parts of 4 counties, twisting through southern Harris County so it could take in NASA and then head south to dilute the Democratic vote in Galveston County. Here is the new map.

The new map unites Fort Bend County and takes in northern parts of Brazoria County. NASA is gone from CD-22 and is now in the new CD-36 dominated by East Texas and the deep red evil that resides there.

Now, in 2008, Fort Bend County voted 49% for Barack Obama. Fort Bend County came within 8000 votes of tipping to the winner of that year’s presidential election. So I am guessing that where we had in CD-22 a safe congressional district for Republicans, today it is less safe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

JFK: May 29th 1917 – November 22nd 1963

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the first president that I was aware of in my then-young life. Oh, I knew about Ike Eisenhower, but Kennedy, I was AWARE of him.

My mother and father were both volunteers on Jack Kennedy’s campaign. Those were amazing times. They threw a party on Inauguration Day and the house was filled with people I had never met before.

They spent more money for that party than I ever thought possible at the time, and the attendees, I remember, were very, very happy.

I often compare that evening to Election Eve 2008 when I partied with a big roomful of Democrats as we witnessed on a big HDTV screen Barack Obama’s historic win over John McCain.

But November 22nd 1961 was a very somber time at my home. That entire weekend had the television on continuously as we watched the unfolding of events, including a moment on live TV when we saw Jack Ruby fill Lee Harvey Oswald full of .22 caliber lead. And Blackjack, the horse that was lead down Pennsylvania Avenue with a pair of boots reversed in the stirrups. And little John John with his poignant salute with that small, small hand of his.

Today, on the 48th anniversary of his death, Jack Kennedy is being remembered from coast to coast. Remembered on Facebook. Remembered at his former residence.

Remembered by me, wondering what life would have been like had the bullets missed their mark.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Newt Gingrich on Child Labor Laws: “Stupid”

I wouldn’t have believed it had it not been for the fact that the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, a current leader in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, was caught on video saying that the child labor laws, capstones of the progressive movement in the early 20th century, were, in his words, “stupid.”

Yes, we have video.

Can you believe it? Tea Party-influenced Republicans are willing to roll back the things that progressives brought to American culture, that is in this case the sanctity of childhood. There seems to be no limit to the regressivism of Tea Party politics.

What’s next? Importing slaves? Bringing back indentured servitude? How about invading the Holy Land to restore Christianity to Jerusalem?

Oh, wait, I think they favor that, too.

It Depends on Which Federal Interference You Prefer

In reaction to the redrawn State House and Senate district maps revealed by a 3-judge panel of federal district court judges, Texas Attorney General reacted with righteous outrage that the will of the people of Texas to elect themselves the most conservative state legislature in state history has been usurped by these militant judges (two of whom are Bush appointees).

“In a response filed with the court, Attorney General Greg Abbott challenged the three sets of maps — one for the Senate, two alternatives for the House — as an improper overstepping of authority by ‘unelected federal judges’ over the will of the elected Texas Legislature, which approved its own maps earlier this year.”
That’s right, they weren’t elected. Two were appointed by George W. Bush.

But today we hear that House Speaker Joe Straus has also weighed in, and has issued the threat that if the 3-judge panel doesn’t rule on maps that are more similar to the ones passed by the legislature, that they would file suit and take it to the US Supreme Court.

That’s right, that other panel of unelected federal judges, the one that rules for Republicans far more often than it rules for Democratic causes.

So it’s not so much about the unelected part, and it certainly isn’t about the part about them being federal officials ruling over state matters, another thing intimated by the AG, it’s all about who is on your team.

Proving again that the maps were drawn up with the most heinous of self-interested motives: winning through subversion of the election process.

That is … they are still doing it. If this isn’t completely obvious, justice is truly blind.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Texas AG Has Tantrum Over Redistricting

Yesterday Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott pitched a hissy fit over a 3-judge panel’s artwork as they redrew state senate and house district maps, correcting the Republican-dominated state legislature’s ham-handed attempt to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority voters.

The federal court judges, two of which are Republican, Abbott claims were trying “to make policy” rather than applying the law.

But I beg to differ.

Since the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, every redistricting action that took place in Texas has had to be reviewed by federal judges and the Department of Justice in order to verify that the state has not reverted to its bad old days shenanigans of denying minorities of their voting rights. One of these rights is the right to be heard in the halls of state legislatures and congress.

A right that the Republican-dominated state legislature sought to deny them of in this past legislative session.

So the 3-dudge panel drew up interim maps to be used in the 2012 election cycle until the state can come up with district maps that better reflect the demographics and ethnicity of the communities within each district.

Ironic, isn’t it, that here in the 2nd decade of the 21t century we are still fighting over this? And yes there are still pure evil racists out there who want these gerrymandered districts the way they were, but the grand majority, I would argue, these days are not so motivated by racial hatred in drawing the boundaries, although some may argue with me on this. These days it’s not about race, it’s about politics. Fact is, minority voters tend to vote in their own self interests, and that would be to vote Democratic.

The need for the VRA has changed, but enforcement of the VRA continues to evolve as we as a society do.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Florida Drug Test Law Makes It to a Top Five List

The Center for American Progress is compiling a list of the top five efforts by the ultra-right to deny Americans living below the poverty line any ability to escape poverty. And today I read that the recently passed Tea Party-backed Florida law to require state welfare applicants to take and pass a drug test before they could receive welfare checks is now on that list.

Teabaggers, it seems, all seem to think that people on welfare are all a bunch of low life parasite junkies. So they got a law passed this year requiring all applicants to put out a
$30 expenditure for a drug test to prove they are drug free. Only then will they be able to collect welfare checks. Those that fail will be kept off the welfare rolls for a year. And if they fail in the next year, they stay off for 3 years.

But really, according to the Center for American Progress, all this does is keep people from escaping poverty.

In all, since July, 96% of all those tested passed. These individuals were then reimbursed by the state for the drug test fee. The other 4%? Well the state is enjoying cost savings of tens of thousands of dollars in not giving the junkies money to buy drugs with. At the cost of millions of dollars in expenditures to reimburse the other 96%.

That is, Teabaggers, always on the lookout for a way to cut costs, have added costs to the state’s budget through this law.

But wait, it gets better.

The company that has the exclusive contract to conduct these drug tests was founded by Florida’s current Tea Party governor, Rick Scott, was a co-founder of this company in 2001. A company that got the state contract. A company whose stock Scott sold last April for a cool $63 million.

But wait, it gets even better.

The sale of the stock precedes a ruling late last month by a Bush-appointed federal district judge, Judge Mary Scriven, that the law just might be a violation of the 4th Amendment which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure. In fact, these drug tests, which are actually medical records, are not kept confidential but are made available to law enforcement groups. Judge Scriven halted enforcement of the law pending decisions on whether the law is unconstitutional; a thing that she thinks is highly likely.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

DOJ Defers Voter ID Law Decision

It is a clear signal to me, at least, that the Department of Justice is running out of patience with the people who run elections in Texas: Republicans in charge of state elections.

In a letter issued by the head of the Voting Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the director of elections for the state of Texas was informed that she had not provided the information originally requested by the DOJ to be used to determine whether SB 14, the Voter ID Bill, recently rammed through a Republican-super-dominated state legislature earlier this year, violated the rights of minority voters.

The reason, ostensibly, is that Texas does not require information on race on their voter registration forms, something that they cutely must think demonstrates that Texas is blind to race.

But the Elections Department made it very clear in its reply that this information could be gleaned simply by identifying, say, Hispanic voters by their surnames. Information that has not been forthcoming from the Elections Division. In fact, the date of submission of that information was never specified.

Consequently, the DOJ will not be issuing a ruling in regard to the legality of this law in view of the Voting Rights Act, an act that makes special requirements for voting laws passed by states that previously discriminated against minority voters anytime soon.

Certainly not by the January 1st deadline, when the Voter ID Law was supposed to be in force.

And one wonders whether it will be in force by the time the Texas primary rolls around in March.

What is clear to anyone with any knowledge of election strategy is that the purpose of this law was to deny minority voters (and for that, read Democratic voters) of their voting rights. Republicans have been working this scheme since the 80’s.

What is very clear to me is that the Elections Department and the DOJ are in a staring contest, and the DOJ has just indicated that it is willing for this to go on for an indefinite amount of time.

Time is, after all on their side.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hump Day Humor

Probably the most appropriate political cartoon of the week. Only Rick Perry, a former Aggie with a D- average would want to do away with the Department of Education, the department with probably the most important and necessary government function in existence: the education of the next generation.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Republicans Have Themselves a 3-Way

The news cannot possibly be better. Likely Republican primary voters have a new darling. The new “Not_Mitt”? Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich is surging in the polls, taking up the slack that Rick Perry’s eternal gaffes and Herman Cain’s poor treatment of the best of us has produced.

That’s what Politico says anyway. From Politico:

“A new Public Policy Polling survey out Monday has him in first place, hitting 28 percent. He’s a close second behind Mitt Romney in both Monday’s CNN/ORC International poll, which showed him at 22 percent, and the McClatchy-Marist poll out Friday, which showed him at 19 percent”

That’s right. The new front runner, or second-front runner depending on which poll you are willing to believe, has former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich back up at the top.

Perry? Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

So let me get this straight. Republican primary voters will choose between an African-American businessman with no real prior experience in government other than trying to figure out how to pay it as little as possible in taxes, and a Teabagger to boot that is so intertwined with the Koch brothers that you don’t know where one ends and the other begins, and Newt a former congressman who resigned from congress in disgrace rather than take ownership over the fact that he was responsible for the 1998 election disaster for his party – while simultaneously cheating on his dying wife in an affair with his present wife.

An affair that he carried out while conducting impeachment procedings against Bill Clinton, who was accused of essentially the same thing.

Oh… and Mitt. Mitt Romney, a man who will not receive 20% of Republican votes because he is a Mormon.

Republican “Values Voters” are finally going to reap what they have sown. They will have to decide between two womanizers and a Mormon.

A friend shared a 1994 quote from Barry Goldwater recently and I think it is totally apropos to repost it here. It is so clear that his prediction has come to fruition.

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Campaign Signs are Still Up

The law enforcement officers who are also politicians here in Fort Bend County have happened upon a loophole in campaign sign posting.

Now it is way too early to post campaign signs for the Fall 2012 campaign season. I believe there is a 90-day limit in the county. Nevertheless we saw signs go up that prominently displayed the names of these officers of the law, and then somewhere in a smaller font size their message on how to vote on the constitutional amendment propositions.

It’s all about messaging, and putting up in a highly visible way your issues.

Not these two

Here is one out by a heavily traveled county road.

Here is another still stuck in someone’s front lawn. I should point out that the big ones are gone.

These photos were taken earlier this afternoon, 5 days after the polls closed in the amendment election.

Time to take them down, gentlemen.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cain: Obama Cut Space Shuttle Program

What do Tea Partiers and LaRouchies have in common? Well it seems to be their viral hatred of the fact that President Obama ended the NASA space shuttle program. At least that is what I read today at the Huffington Post.

It has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? That’s because in the 2010 Texas CD 22 congressional race, Pete Olson’s “Democratic” opponent, Kesha Rogers, an adherent to the belief system promoted by Lyndon LaRouche, had it all in for the president for just this same issue.

Had it in for him as in claiming that it was an impeachable offense.

Here is a video of Herman Cain discussing just this issue.

Here is what the Huffington Post records as his statement on the issue: 
“‘I can tell you that as president of the United States, we are not going to bum a ride to outer space with Russia,’ Cain said to loud applause. ‘We're going to regain our rightful place in terms of technology, space technology.’"

“Cain was talking about U.S. plans, now that the space shuttle is retired, to use Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station.”
And normally that would make a good story for local consumption, NASA being a very big deal in southeast Texas. It would certainly be an issue with voters here. All except for the fact that the space shuttle program was signed into extinction in 2004 by former President George W. Bush.

But Tea Partiers and LaRouchies are inflamed over this issue despite the fact that sending an astronaut to the International Space Station costs the government $56 million (with an expected rate hike to $63 million in the future), a net cost savings over sending them up on a space shuttle mission.

But there you have it. Cain, a businessman, seems to be all about doing things on the cheap, a Tea Party favorite, but when he gets specific its not WalMart he wants to do his shopping at, it’s Neimann-Marcus.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Buffalo Soldiers, Aye. Stars and Bars, Nay

Yesterday at a board meeting of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, before a packed hearing room, the governing board voted unanimously to reject a proposal to produce a vanity plate featuring the most hated symbol of the South – and not hated just by African-Americans – the Confederate Flag.

The board then voted on another proposal for another vanity plate, a plate honoring the “Buffalo Soldiers,” African-American soldiers who served in the army’s 10th Cavalry after the Civil War (er… excuse me, the War of Northern Agression). That proposal passed.

This is such a strong rebuff of The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the only group to endorse this proposal, that they made no bones about their displeasure and promised to bring the matter up in a lawsuit, which had positive (that is, negative) results other southern states.

So you know what? How about this? How about we get a resolution passed in Congress that spells out who is a veteran and who is not? Because in my humble opinion, those who served in the Confederate Army are not true veterans, and should not be honored on Veterans Day – today by the way. They need to be specifically excluded.

They were not veterans, they were traitors.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Perry Forgetting His Core Issue Explained

I’ve given up watching the Republican presidential debates not because I don’t want to see these people claw each other into bloody gore, but because I am tired of hearing audience reaction to some of the most hateful ideas voiced on stage.

Like the enthusiastic cheering at the Texas governor’s presiding over the most state-sponsored executions in the nation.

Like the booing of a gay soldier serving in Iraq who had a question for Rick Santorum concerning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Like the positive reaction to an observation that someone who is without health insurance, and has gotten fatally ill, should die.

Conservative audiences have become so polarized that it turns my stomach to watch anymore. And I hope that this is also not lost on Independent voters come next year’s election.

So I got to miss Rick Perry’s latest gaffe, as he failed to remember the name of the 3rd presidential cabinet department that he wanted to eliminate: the Department of Energy.

How can a governor of a state which has such a heavy stake in energy (oil and gas) forget about the Department of Energy and how he wants to eliminate it? He couldn’t do it despite several attempts.

So here is my explanation. As mentioned previously, Rick Perry has no core beliefs other than the fact that he needs to be rich, and accomplishing that while serving in public office involves getting stuff from your donors, and getting stuff for your donors.

One hand washes the other.

So when Rick Perry couldn’t dredge up the 3rd department he wanted to eliminate, it was just a failure of memory – failure of his rote memorization of his targets - without any conviction for which targets they should be, and why. All of that was just memorized.

It has to be. There can be no other explanation.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Off-Year Election: Some Telltale Trends

With the mess that resulted from the Texas statewide constitutional amendment election returns no trends emerged, I think, except for maybe a tendency for Texans to go all Tea Party on any bond issue.

But the trends that we learned about nationally, maybe there is a ray of hope here for the Democratic cause.

In Mississippi, voters surprisingly repealed SB 4, a constitutional amendment that would have made a fertilized egg a person in the eyes of the law. This would have made any and all abortions illegal. This would have made it illegal to have an in vitro fertilization procedure because the procedure fertilizes more than one egg, yet only one fertilized egg is emplaced in the woman’s uterus. Mississippi is a very red state, but apparently this emotional and religious issue fell on infertile ground as Mississipians saw the error in logic and reason that this amendment would have presented to its citizens.

In Ohio, voters rejected the law passed by the Ohio legislature that stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights that had been theirs for decades. Anti-union sentiment among the newly elected Tea Party members of the legislature clearly did not mesh with the pro-middle class electorate. I am guessing that Wisconsinites are seeing this vote as further evidence that there is a core of American voters who still think workers have a right to safe work places, a 40-hour work week, paid vacation, health insurance, and a living wage. Things that most middle class voters value.

In Arizona, voters rejected State Senator Russell Pearce in a recall election, a recall election in reaction to Pearce’s authorship of the much-hated SB 1070, the most virulent anti-immigrant law passed in the nation. A law so viral that the feds put a stop to most of its provisions. SB 1070 has literally cost the State of Arizona millions of dollars (including mine) in cancelled conventions and concerts.

And finally, in Maine, voters approved a provision to allow same-day voter registration – registration on Election Day - despite the fact that the Republican Party of Maine made no bones about the fact that the measure was “Pro Gay” because gay rights groups supported it. This was an anti-voter suppression measure, very progressive, that promoted voter participation in the election process. Something Republicans and Tea Partiers simply hate.

So color me happy today, 364 days until Election Day 2012. Momentum has been building. Voters have seen what it is they have wrought and are not happy. And maybe other voters who were so lethargic in 2010 that they could not move themselves out of their La-Z-Boys and get to the polls last year have been roused to the fact that elections matter and voting a progressive agenda is the best thing you can do to improve your life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

So Did You Vote Today?

I am a voting junky. I vote in any and every election they’ll let me vote in. I love to vote so much that I usually show up at an early voting polling place and vote early, usually on the 2nd day of early voting – I give them a day to work out the bugs.

But this year I decided I would vote on Election Day just to see how my local precinct polling place was doing.

Brand new faces.

Last time I voted at my precinct polling place, in 2005, for the constitutional amendments including the amendment that made same sex marriage in Texas unconstitutional, I stood in a line going out the front door for about 45 minutes. What can be the delay, I asked myself.

Well the delay was that everyone I was standing in line with were from the same church, they all knew each other, and had all shown up to vote in what is typically a low turnout election to vote against the gays.

And they all knew the poll workers, who they had pleasant conversations with as they painstakingly went through their tasks. None of these were under the age of 80 in my opinion.

Well, today, I was gratified to see that youth had taken over the precinct polling place and check-in was smooth and efficient.

But there was a new wrinkle at this election, which is the real reason for this report. That’s right, I buried the lead again.

After I got my ballot code the last person in the check-in table pealed off a document from a stack she had in front of her and told me that it was information about new procedures in the next election.

Oh, oh, here it comes, and I looked at it and was not surprised to see that it was an announcement that the new Voter ID law would, starting in 2012, require one of 7 forms of identification, all of which must have a photograph of the voter attached.

But I have to give them credit the first sentence in the notification reads this way:
“Upon US Justice Department approval of a photo identification law passed by the Texas legislature in 2011, effective 2012 a voter will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before the voter will be permitted to cast a vote.”

It goes on to list the 7 forms of identification, all but one requiring the voter to pay a fee for the identification, and one of them including a Texas Concealed Handgun License issued by the DPS.

Only in Texas

So I don’t take issue with the notification of a requirement that will be inevitably turned down by the DOJ as it violates the constitutional rights of ethnic groups to vote, they actually did say it was pending approval.

What I take issue with is the fact that they decided that this notification at this time, the lowest voter turnout election, lower than a school board election even, could even be considered due diligence.

Somewhere between 5 and 6 percent of all registered voters will turn out in this election, yet this is when the notification goes out. It really is as if they don’t want to transmit these new requirements on the off-chance that the DOJ finally approves the law (which they won’t).

There is no end to the meanness there is in this state. Texas hates voters.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Nerd Test

OK, I got a good laugh today out of what a former colleague posted on FaceBook so I just had to pass it along to my 6 readers.

If you "get" it, you may offiicially call yourself a math/science nerd.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Support Your Local Redneck

A totally predictable thing occurred in nearby Katy, Texas this weekend. For some reason a poster depicting a bunch of guys in cowboy hats and carrying guns posed in front of a hanged man dressed in traditional Iranian clothes has drawn the ire of, I am imagining, local people of Iranian extraction.

Here is what it looks like.

The poster has been hanging in the same restaurant in Katy since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979.

And yes it is tasteless.

It went up at a time when American outrage against Iran was at an all time high, when the Ayatollah Khomeini was the most hated man in America. I remember all of that rather well.

But since that time we have seen that Iranians themselves are chafing under a yoke of oppression, especially when mass protest rallies were brutally put down by government troops and thuglike militias.

So when you see this poster, completely out of context with the reason it was produced in the first place, now that the hostage crisis is a dim memory, yes, it looks like what it is, a really bad racist poster.

So the restaurant drew a small crowd of protesters to make known their displeasure at having the poster still hanging on the restaurant’s wall after all these years.

But this is Katy, Texas. Do you think business suffered? Not by a long shot. Yesterday was one of the best days that the restaurant has ever had. People were lined up out the door to buy barbecue.

The owner said “Yesterday was one of the best days we've ever had. I'm pleasantly surprised, yes. I mean I knew we had fans and friends, but this is just golly God.

Yes, golly God.

Katy, Texas. Doing its utter best to prove to the world that it has the reddest rednecks this side of East Texas.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Cain Accuser Won’t Come Forward, and For Good Reason

If you have been following the news lately you are well-aware that presidential hopeful (or book seller?) Herman Cain has stumbled of late due to several accusations from at least four women that Cain, when he was head of the National Restaurant Association, had sexually harassed them.

Having absolutely zero effect on his polling. Teabaggers love them some sexual harassers.

The revelations actually increased his rate of campaign contributions. I kid you not.

So having laid all of this out before the media and the public, should one wonder why none of the four women want to go public? Well, for one thing, there is word of signed settlements – cash for silence. Something that has been breached, although what do you do if someone who was harassed decides to come out anyway, sue her?

No, I think not, although I may be selling short the level that Herman Cain can descend to.

No, the reason you stay out of the klieg lights of modern fame is Anita Hill.

Anita Hill came forward when the Senate was considering confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court Justice. Her story was credible. And her story was ignored, Thomas was confirmed, and Thomas has subsequently been a participant in some of the worst SCOTUS decisions in US history.

The reason you don’t come forward is that there is absolutely nothing in it for you to do so, and it destroys whatever self-respect and credibility you once had.