Saturday, June 30, 2012

Oops.

So much for prognostications in this day and age.

Chief Justice Roberts, himself a conservative’s conservative, sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upheld all but a minor portion of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Roberts argued that the individual mandate was not a regulation of commerce, something not within the purview of Congress, but that it was, in fact, a tax, something that is well within the scope of Congress.
So it’s back to the drafting board for the Republicans who wish to deny millions of Americans of their right to health.
Not this time.
But I am still struck by how momentous decisions like this one depends on one single person. Nine people sit on the Supreme Court bench, but in this case, 8 of the votes were of a certainty. It is as if Chief Justice Roberts alone made the decision to uphold “Obamacare.”
And that is too much power for a single person to wield.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Super-Majority Looms in the Golden State

Now I rarely look at local races in states where I don’t currently live, but since Cali is my place of origin I usually pay attention when something special happens there.
Like now.
California, by virtue of the 2010 census, has a new State Assembly district, AD 66. It is based in an interesting area of what is known as the South Bay area, where I am from, that straddles heavily middle class Torrance with heavily upper class Palos Verdes. It is, in short, a microcosm of the interclass warfare that is emerging as the 1% seek to drive the 99% further into depths of despair and debt.
The district leans Democratic by a mere 3%, but in the recent special election the only Democrat on the ballot, Al Muratsuchi, received 38% of the vote, beating out the nearest Republican, Craig Huey. But all the remaining candidates were Republicans. So Muratsuchi will run against Huey in November for the seat.
Now here is the thing. If Al Muratsuchi wins this race this gives the Democrats in the State Assembly a 2/3 majority, enough to finally and once and for all end the stranglehold that the Republican obstructionist minority maintains in that state, a stranglehold that prevents state government from budgeting enough funds to meet essential services in that state.
So this is another race to watch in November. One that could spell the difference between California finally being able to dig itself out from under the Republican morass that it has had to deal with since the passage of Proposition 13 back in the 70’s. Prop. 13 worked until Republicans decided that bipartisanship was not an option anymore.
And in truth, this race is representative of the ongoing struggle between the monied class that has learned how to buy elections, and the working class, that only wants a level playing field.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Affordable Healthcare Act Lined Up Against the Wall

Anyone who has been looking at what the Supremes are going to do in their decision coming out tomorrow on the Affordable Healthcare Act has come to the conclusion that, at the very least, the Individual Mandate will get the axe. What this does to the rest of the law is anyone’s guess.

As a matter of personal opinion I think you might as well toss out the whole thing if the individual mandate is canned. The Individual Mandate makes the whole thing work. It makes healthcare affordable. So in essence, if the Supreme Court wants to overturn the entire law, all they have to do is strike down the Individual Mandate.
Now, what happens after that is anyone’s guess. What it tells me is that, if this law is struck down, affordable healthcare is not attainable in the United States without a Public Option, or even more to the point, without Medicare for All.
Democrats adopted what is essentially a Republican program, as anyone with a brain can see with Romney’s state healthcare plan – which is Obamacare for Massachusetts. For their efforts in assuaging the fears of the Rightwing of the Democratic Party, Democrats will be dealt with a game changing blow below the belt from an activist uberrightwing court. Arguably the most conservative court in US history.
As you can tell, I am not optimistic on the outcome tomorrow. Tomorrow, 25 million Americans will again be without health insurance, thanks to an anti-middle class Supreme Court.

RPT Platform: Back to Basics

Well the Republican Party of Texas has released its official platform and again we cannot be more pleased. It’s official, the Republican Party of Texas is for repeal of the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s back to basics for America, it seems, as we sell out our country and our liberties to the robber barons of the golden age of capitalism gone wild. Don’t believe me? It’s all here.

First on their list of things to undo is taxes. George H. W. Bush said “Read my lips, no new taxes,” and then he raised taxes. The RPT is willing to go him one better, or rather one less, and trim this to just two words: “no taxes.” No income taxes, no property taxes, no estate taxes.
Just a sales tax. Just a regressive sales tax where the lower and middle class, by our sheer numbers, will bear the brunt of the total contribution.
Then we need to go back on the Gold Standard. No one but some really delusional people think that America can operate on a gold standard. To that end, the gold market would be allowed to fluctuate with market trends. The gold standard was meant to stabilize the economy. This would have just the opposite effect. But it would be lovely for the rich, wouldn’t it?
Thirdly we need to do away with the two most successful Democratic programs in US history, Medicare and Social Security. In their places we need to replace them with mechanisms that allow the super-rich to gamble with the health of the middle class through a privately funded voucher system and allow them to play a game of craps with trillions of retirement dollars, a game that would have destroyed lives had it been in place in 2008.
Oh, and in education, we need to stop teaching these damned kids critical thinking skills. You know, those skills that allow people to analyze and synthesize information so that they may make informed decisions based on logic and inference. That’s right. No more critical thinking. You see, it disempowers parents from inculcating their children with their opinions and values – you know, the ones you hear about on Fox News.
And finally, let’s all allow schools to beat our children once more. They’re getting too smart for their britches and need to be beaten into submission once more. What was good for great grandfather, who was taught to beat great grandmother in school should be good for these bratty kids.
Yes, the GOP has its fingers on the very pulse of current American thought and expression.
Current as of `1875.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Perry All Set to Move Back to Mansion

After being forced to move his gubernatorial residence from the Governor’s mansion for 70 months, first because of much-needed renovations, then because of an arsonist-laid fire, Governor and Mrs. Perry are all set toleave their $8,500.00 per month rental unit (complete with a subscription to a gourmet wine magazine), and move back in to the oldest continuously occupied governor’s mansion west of the Mississippi. Well, all except for the Civil War and the most recent 5 years.

Getting out my calculator again, this amounts to, in rent alone,  $595,000.00. That’s taxpayer’s money, you know. But no expense can be spared for the security of the first family of Texas, including nearly the equivalent amount spent on security for just a few months of campaigning for the impossible dream of being President of the United States.
And I know that Governor Perry will see the pain in the eyes of his fellow Texans and will want to reimburse the taxpayers for his excessive lifestyle over the past 5 years and his security detail for his run at the presidency. Reimburse them from the millions he raised from duped campaign contributors who should have known that this was the most expensive book-promotion tour in human history.
And taxpayers still know that this is the most expensive administrator’s residential unit in Texas’ history.
He knows all of that and he is truly sorry for the inconveniences.
And monkeys will fly out of my patootie.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Taking on a New Meaning

Wow, talk about a reversal of meaning. I have always been amazed at the power of words. When people of same-sex sexual orientation sought to cast their members in a better light, they launched the new word to describe themselves: gay. Life became suddenly better for them and “being gay” became a thing not to hide from.

Then the homophobes took their proud term and turned it against them, so that anything that was socially unacceptable became “gay” and children and teenagers again brutalized their gay classmates with their use of the term.
As well, the term “Democrat.” Democrat is a noun and denotes a person who has an affiliation with the Democratic Party. But in one fell swoop, uber-conservative Republicans decided to make the term “Democrat,” a noun, into an adjective. The Democratic Party became known to them as the “Democrat Party.” They sought to smear their opponents with poor grammar. But these days you will hear more than one Democrat refer to their party as The Democrat Party, and all of a sudden, there goes the ill-wind out of the sails of poor grammarians.
And now, come to find out, there is new meaning to the term “carrying a torch” for someone. It’s here.
Before when one carried a torch for someone it meant that they had lost the love of someone but still pined away for them to come back to them. Now however, carrying a torch for someone takes on new meaning in the story of an Olympic Torch bearer, one David State, who in the quadrennial ritual of the passing of the torch from runner to runner from Mount Olympus to the site of the Olympic Games, ran his leg of the run, then midway paused to propose marriage to his girlfriend on bended knee.
There goes the meaning of yet another iconic idea.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Riding the TEA Party Express Down the Road to Perdition

The theme today is the TEA Party and how it is scaring the bejeebers out of what has now known as the "Mainstream Republicans." That is, conservatives who cans talk witout spitting at the same time.







Thursday, June 14, 2012

An End to Civility in America II

Several months back I posted a blog on how civility was becoming a dying art form in today’s American society. I hate to be right sometimes. Today we saw Senatorial candidate Ted Cruz defend the outrageous remarks of a TEA Party supporter and demand that David Dewhurst apologize to her for attacking her.

Dallas area TEA Party activist Katrina Pierson, apparently a Ted Cruz “megasupporter” (whatever that is) posted a tweet in registering her disapproval over the use of a video of a disabled veteran to introduce Dewhurst to the RPT conventioneers.
Here is what she tweeted:
"David Dewhurst exploits deformed disabled vet in intro video. So sad. Liberals placate to heart strings so it meets expectations. #rptcon"

That’s a TEA Partier honestly sharing her complete lack of respect for a wounded veteran, and demonstrating that civility is dead in her cold, cold heart.
Dewhurst supporters were indignant and let her have it with hundreds of tweets that pointed out her complete lack of respect. She could have used the term disabled by itself and the tweet would have been gone and forgotten. But she didn’t. She needed to use the term “deformed.”
And today it got even worse. Ted Cruz jumped to Pierson’s defense. This is part of what appears on his campaign blog today:
“In the past few days, my friend, Tea Party leader Katrina Pierson, made an inappropriate comment about Dan Moran, a brave and honorable veteran who was gravely injured fighting for our Nation. She should not have made that comment, and she has rightly apologized. I have never said an ill word about Captain Moran, and I’m sorry that these comments were made. I very much respect Captain Moran’s remarkable service to our country, and I respect his personal decision to support Mr. Dewhurst in this race. Following Katrina’s tweet, the Dewhurst campaign staff has begun relentlessly attacking her. Katrina is a grassroots Tea Party activist. She is an unpaid volunteer and a single mom who has devoted thousands of hours to fighting to defend liberty and restore our Nation. If the Dewhurst Attack Machine must attack somebody, let them level their vitriol at me. I’m the candidate. The Dewhurst campaign should stop attacking the grassroots, stop attacking the Tea Party, and apologize to Katrina for targeting their never-ending attacks at her.”

Really? They owe Katrina Pierson an apology? Maybe Captain Moran should apologize to Pierson, too, for upsetting her sense of taste in personal appearance.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keith Hampton: A Possible Statewide Victor in 2012

I had the opportunity to listen to criminal defense attorney Keith Hampton speak twice in as many days about his race to unseat Republican Appeals Court Justice Sharon “Killer” Keller. This may just be the race that puts a Democrat in a statewide office for the first time since 1994.
You may recall Killer Keller’s infamous 2007 refusal to admit defense lawyers into her office because they had arrived 20 minutes after office hours. She uttered the infamous words “we close at 5.” One hour later, their client, convicted murderer Michael Richard was put to death.
For this, Keller received a reprimand from the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Related to this is a record-breaking fine of $100,000 from the TEC for her fuzzy math on her campaign finance reports.
Now get this, Republicans are just as embarrassed over this Appeals Court Justice, as Democrats are outraged. In a recent polling of 9300 Texas Bar members, Hampton received a 52% approval rating compared to Killer Keller’s 38%.
Now sure, Keller is going to benefit from the votes of straight ticket Republicans, but more than one voter has admitted that they would simply withhold their votes for Keller.
This is, in short, the best opportunity we have to retake a statewide office. This could be only the start.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Juanita Jean Speaks

My friend, Susan DuQuesnay Bankston, was one of three women to speak for TDP Chairman Candidate Gilberto Hinojosa at the Texas Democratic Party State convention.  She seconded the nomination, and then launched into a tirade that had the conventioneers in stitches. I muscled my way to the stage to get a clear shot of her 6-minute speech. I apologize for the sound quality but the convention was awash with sound from a rowdy audience and my camera couldn’t focus on the most prominent sound source.

If you want a better idea of what she said, I hear that there is a transcript of her speech at the Beauty Salon.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Does It Matter?

At one of the caucuses I attended today at the Texas Democratic Party convention, US Senate candidate Paul Sadler came to advise us that that evening he was going to address an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle yesterday. One that I read online. One that seems to have mysteriously ‘gone away.’

The article essentially dismissed any reason for Democrats to meet in any convention this weekend, as the Republicans have it all sewn up in the fall. No statewide candidate will succeed against the Republican juggernaut.
And to that I have to call BS. Republicans are not entitled. They don’t have a right to hold public office. That is something that is granted by a majority of voters. Now it could be that Republicans will swarm the polls in November wanting to vote out “that clown” (more on that tomorrow). But votes do matter. And opposing Republican government mismanagement is the epitome of patriotism.
So I waited and waited at the general session for Paul Sadler to address the Chronicle’s article. And I was not disappointed. I have the cadence part of it recorded in the video below. It answers the Chronicle’s rhetorical question of why does it matter that the Democrats meet, nominate and vote in this hallowed democratic process.
Sadler’s eloquent reply to the knuckle-dragger who wrote that article in the Chronicle is a thing of beauty. (Again, apologies for the video quality - this was spur of the moment and I don’t have the best seat at the convention this year).


Thursday, June 07, 2012

On Eating the Canary

Oh I am smiling tonight. Here at the Texas Democratic Party state convention I learned today that after a grueling 7 hour meeting of the Platform Committee, three issues that are near and dear to my heart got included on the official platform of the Texas Democratic Party.

One. The Texas Democratic Party is going on record as being in favor of equality in marriage.
Two. The Texas Democratic Party is going on record as being in favor of the sale and use of marijuana for medical reasons.

Three. The Texas Demoratic Party is going on record as being opposed to exercise of the death penalty in capital crimes.

For years and years these three issues were opposed by conservative Democrats (now there’s an oxymoron) who claimed that we should not saddle our candidates with such a liberal platform that they had no hope of winning their races.

Interesting point. Which statewide office have Texas Democrats actually been voted into in the past 20 years? The truth is, the Democratic Movement in Texas has been thwarted time and time again by these East Texas crackers who are under the illusion that they speak for the party.

And now as I sit here tonight, I am smiling a big broad smile like the one seen on the cat that ate the canary.
Meow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Lost the Battle, Won the War

Scott Walker is still governor of Wisconsin. He won last night and credit can be given to the millions of dollars his campaign pumped into mass media and the other millions of dollars that came in from out of state from Teabagger SuperPACs.

Proof positive that money can buy ignorant voters. The US Supreme Court majority made sure of that.
But while everyone was concentrating on the governor’s race, the eye was taken off the ball that was a State Senator recall election where State Senator Wangaard was narrowly defeated by Democrat John Lehman, who formerly held the office.

This restores a Democratic democracy in the Wisconsin state senate and no more are we going to have to witness attempts at passage of voter suppression and successful attempts to wrench away from public employees the right to organize under unions.

I call that a victory.

Now I don’t know what the infatuation Wisconsonites have with a guy whose eyes are set so dangerously close together, I may never figure it out. But by anyone’s scale this renders Walker into a paper tiger.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Oppose the Republican Law Enforcement Cabal

I cannot believe that in this election season, that the Republicans are feeding the loyal opposition, we Democrats, our talking points. Witness political consultant Karen Pearson who went to the trouble of making a YouTube video about the local Republican primary races for Fort Bend County Sheriff and a County Constable seat.

In the opinion of political consultant for 27 years, Karen Pearson, there should not be a cabal between brothers who are both running for law enforcement offices in Fort Bend County. Troy Nehls won the Republican primary for Fort Bend County Sherif, and his brother, Trever Nehls won his primary race against Don McCall for Conatable in the 4th Precinct.

And I have to agree. There should be no evidence for a cabal or any agreement between brothers who hold law enforcement offices  in this county. It makes Craig Brady's nepotism in the County Sheriff's office pale in comparison.  


video

There is a solution you know. Michael Ellison is the Democratic candidate who will be running against Troy Nehls in November. Michael Ellison, himself a hero of the New Territory Randall's stick-up attempt in which he took bullets, will oppose Troy Nehls in the general election. A vote for Ellison is a vote against a Republican law enforcement cabal.

Thank you Karen Pearson for pointing that out.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Libertarian Principles and Bounced Checks

I had to laugh at a news article in the Houston Chronicle today. It seems that one Caroll Joubert, Jr. wrote 5 checks to buy some high end used cars from CarMax, checks drawn on the Federal Reserve Bank of Georgia.

Five worthless checks.

But wait, there’s more. Joubert is of the opinion that all Americans have a right to write checks off of the Federal Reserve because, well, because the United States went off the gold standard monetary system.

Joubert, it seems, is a thief, but a principled thief. A thief with Libertarian principles.


Libertarians, you see, advocate for a return to the gold standard because only that will stabilize prices. A notion that is patently absurd.

Still and all, it is nice to see that there are Libertarians out there that stand on their principles of self-interest. Ayn Rand would be truly proud.

Down to the Wire in Wisconsin

Tomorrow we are going to witness an historic recall election in Wisconsin. Scott Walker’s job as that state’s governor is on the line as well as that of his lieutenant governor. All of this comes as a result to the governor’s attack on public employee unions, a purported first step towards total eradication of the union movement in Wisconsin, a state known for its pro-union inclination.
None of this was an agenda item when the governor was running for that office. Walker just kind of thought all of this up by himself, with perhaps the help of TEA Party billionaires.
And now as we close in on the election polls show that the election is tightening up. In a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, they show that Walker leads his opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom  Barrett, by 3%. That’s down from a poll conducted by the same group 3 weeks ago, which had Walker leading by 5%. That’s right, millions of dollars of Koch brothers and TEA Party money are being thrown at this election and there is a slip in the polls.
But not enough of one.
Enthusiasm seems to be a factor here. The activism we all witnessed in the winter of 2011 has fallen by the wayside. You don’t hear the drums beating on cold crisp mornings in Madison anymore. A grassroots get out the vote movement is not a sexy as rocking and rolling in the capitol rotunda.
But this is where the rubber meets the road. An election. This is when it counts. Time to drum up some enthusiasm, Wisconsin; time to send the Koch brothers back under the rocks that they crawled out from.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

On Seeing Jesus’ Image in Shower Mold

Man. Now I have seen it all. Probably the oldest known of the random images of Jesus is the famous Shroud of Turin. Something that seems to be dated from the 14th century. Other reported images include a reflection of light revealing the face of a weeping Jesus, a video recording of a crucified Jesus in the clouds above Sharya, Russia, then there’s the image of the ascension of Jesus in the cut face of a geode, an image you can buy on eBay. The one I like best though are the two images of Jesus that have been found in two separate instances of a tasty Cheetos morsel, discussed here and here.

But now, in nearby Splendora, Texas we have apparently discovered Jesus’ image in a moldy growth on the wall of a young couple’s shower.

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Now living alone myself, I know all about procrastination. But now her boyfriend is home from his stint in the slammer. It’s time to stop it with all this talk about how Jesus’ face has manifested itself on her shower wall. One thing I know about mold. Mold grows. Soon enough Jesus is going to turn into an image of a grizzly bear, or worse, an image of the Prophet Muhammad. When that happens thousands of devotees of Islam are going to show up at their door armed with bottles of Tilex and sponges.