Category Archives: 2013 Categories

Low Voter Turnout: A Discussion

So, I attended the League of Women Voters-Houston’s discussion on low voter turnout. It was an interesting discussion featuring Mark Jones from Rice U., Dick Murray from UH, Hector de Leon from the county, and Mustafa Tameez, a local political wiz. The problem is when you have a nonprofit group trying to discuss voter turnout, the conversation tends to become partisan, or at the very least about issues.

From the get-go, Jones gave us a lesson: People vote based on age, education, and income level. The older, more educated, and better paid one is, the likelier they are to show up at the polls. But if we are to see an increase in voter turnout, it will take an increase in Hispanic turnout.

As it stands, 55% of Hispanics are registered to vote, but in 2014, 23% of Hispanics voted, while 44% and 39% of whites and blacks, respectively, voted. Jones stated that millennials didn’t vote, and the younger generation didn’t vote either. Jones didn’t feel that there could be an increase in education or income levels any time soon, so he suggested more competitive races. But in Texas, that’s been impossible, even at the local level, such as the DAs race of 2014. So, he suggested what has been working in a large number of states: No excuse absentee voting. Pointing to a large percentage of people who receive mail-in ballots returning them to vote here in Harris County, Jones believes that it could work if offered to all voters.

Back to low turnout, Jones stated that it is consequential in Republican primaries. Since the state is Republican, all decisions of who gets elected statewide are being made in the Republican primary. He also mentioned that low turnout is consequential in local bond elections where few voters decide on millions and billions of bond dollars. He suggests perhaps requiring a threshold of voter participation to legitimize the results.

Professor Murray stated there is a pattern of lower and lower turnout. He also stated that he expects turnout to drop for the 2015 city elections, but he has not seen that kind of decrease in Presidential general elections.

He pointed to the obvious regarding presidential campaigns that they maximize resources in important (battleground) states. He also stated that we are seeing less state competition and less county competition. Much of this is based on where voters reside, and that even at the partisan level, voters seem to want to reside in areas in which they find voters that are politically similar to themselves.

Another problem Murray sees is that we have too many elections which seem to suck the oxygen out of the political process. Another is the lack of information for voters to make voting decisions about candidates.

Murray suggested that the state needs to become competitive at the presidential level. That while the state is solidly GOP, Gallup recently found that there is only a 3% difference in how Texans identify themselves. Further, he pointed to the eventual candidacy of Hillary Clinton as a motivational candidacy that will increase turnout in various groups, especially Hispanics. In 2008, Clinton won Hispanics handily in the Dem primary. Add a Hispanic Vice-Presidential candidate (Castro) and you might have the makings of a competitive Texas in November 2016, according to Murray. He also added that if the GOP Anglo candidate adds a Hispanic to their ticket, it would become ever more interesting.

de Leon put numbers to the commentary from the academics in the room. He found it important to find out who is not voting and who is voting and start from there. A few of the stats found something interesting: The less one made, the more likely one was to vote straight party. He also mentioned that low Latino turnout was concentrated in areas which were represented by a Latino/a state representative. Not sure if he was blaming officeholders, but he did state that since minority voters usually vote in Democratic precincts, that there is no way there could be voter suppression by the other side.

Mustafa Tameez, though, did some truth-telling:  Rich, old white people vote, and minorities do not. He went further by talking about one actual reason that this blogger has been mentioning:  People no longer believe in the political system. Further, he stated another fact:  Most in the room were political junkies and that we needed to see beyond our lives and toward the lives of those not voting–actually connect with the non-voters.

Many in the room have also worked campaigns and we know what campaigns are about:  Finding likely voters and targeting them multiple times. Seldom do political professionals think about the non-voting public, and it was refreshing to see a pro admit that in this kind of discussion. Frankly, I got sick of the campaign game because no one wanted to be bold and work the low propensity voters, but that’s for another post. I won’t hold my breath that this will change, though, at least as campaigns go.

Basically, Tameez stated that all of us can do more to help people feel like they are part of the system. I’ll go further and state that campaigns need to do more, too.

So, it was an interesting discussion. The Q&A, though, turned to the partisan, which isn’t hard to do when we’re talking about voting, politics, and especially issues. Professor Murray mentioned what we’ve found in polling:  For Latinos, the top issues are usually Education, Jobs, Health Care, and then immigration. I’ll add, though, that immigration becomes a top issue when Republicans begin to attack immigrants and Latinos, or a Democrat makes promises or executive actions regarding the issue. And that’s how a discussion about Latino turnout becomes a partisan one because even the academics in the room agree that Latinos are mostly Democratic.  I will add that Latino voters react to both sides based on how they act–on the campaign trail and while in office–too.

There wasn’t any discussion of the political back-and-forth of campaigns and how prospective voters react to the media wars. Perhaps that is where we will find something else to discuss:  Messaging!!!

I’ll agree with Tameez, though, that many feel that the political system is the problem. I go back to my what one of my mentors once told a group of Latino activists:  If you have a problem with the system it’s because it’s not your system. Meaning, those who developed the political system didn’t have certain people in mind.

Those words have stayed with me for over 20 years. And in those 20 years, it’s been difficult to find a solution that falls somewhere between an armed revolt that changes everything and the wholesale electoral removal of all incumbents who have made themselves comfortable in this political system that thrives on low voter turnout.

More to come, I’m sure. Thanks to the League of Women Voters-Houston for getting the ball rolling. It was great seeing a packed room for this very important discussion.

 

Chuy Garcia Makes The Run-Off in Chicago

Chuy Garcia, the Cook County Commissioner who forced Rahm Emanuel into an April 7 run-off, is a pretty good candidate. A Durango, Mexico native, he is the son of a bracero whose family ended up in Chicago in 1965. Garcia served his community while going to college–an honest to goodness community organizer. After serving on City Council, he was the first Mexican American elected to the Illinois Senate and was re-elected, only to be defeated by a Richard Daley-supported opponent. After his defeat, he returned to organizing in his community. In 2010, he was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners and was re-elected in 2014.

On Tuesday, after being outspent by the corporate-supported Emanuel 12-to-1, his grassroots campaign earned him 34% of the vote to Emanuel’s 45%. It was a complete embarrassment for Emanuel who boasted some pretty big political bosses on his resume. Emanuel even got an end-of-campaign endorsement from President Obama.

“Today, we the people have spoken. Not the people with the money and the power and the connections. Not the giant corporations. The big-money special interests. The hedge funds and Hollywood celebrities who poured tens of millions of dollars into the mayor’s campaign. They all had their say. They’ve had their say for too long. But today, the rest of us had something to say.”

One must wonder if President Obama and/or Bill and Hillary will get involved deeper in the run-off campaign. Certainly, it wouldn’t look good for Hillary Clinton to side with Emanuel over Garcia. Frankly, I think it best for that little group to stay out, or be bold and side with the right side of history.

One thing is or sure, Emanuel will once again sell out to the highest corporate bidders, so Chuy Garcia needs your help. Donate to his campaign today.

Let’s face it, this blogger has never been a fan of Chicago’s current Mayor. Didn’t like him under Clinton, in Congress, and especially under Obama. Didn’t like it when Rahm Emanuel attempted his own brand  of “comprehensive immigration reform” with Colorado bigot Tom Tancredo. Beyond Obama, I think Emanuel was behind the Term 1 delays on CIR. And to know he’s also the most bought politician in the Chicago Mayor’s race just makes me ill. That Chicago can make history by electing its first Mexican-American Mayor would be monumental.

 

Or, Why Wendy, Leticia, and Dems Should Have Opposed the Surge

Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron tells us about the trouble the press is having at getting real figures from DPS and the Texas Government about the “success” of the Rick Perry’s (and now Greg Abbott’s) DPS/National Guard border surge. In my opinion, it’s always been a political sham with racist, anti-Latino undertones.

You will recall that it was a great photo op for Republicans, which left Democrats Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte with little (political) choice but to support the DPS part of the surge, while Davis also supported immediate deportation of children escaping violence and poverty. Obviously, this blog and many activists weren’t happy about it. And while the DNC goes over its autopsy of 2014, one would hope that political decisions such as Dems supporting Rick Perry’s idiotic ideas would be mentioned.

Republicans have decided to continue throwing money at their border sideshow, while negatively affecting National Guard troops who have real jobs and families to worry about, and DPS agents who have better things to do than to militarize the border.

Nothing is more embarrassing than backing a Rick Perry idea only to have it fall flat on its face, as expected by many Dems.

Put this in the Democratic Playbook chapter on What Not To Do.

 

 

DC Review: Alianza Releases Latest Single, Video Today

Alianza releases their newest single, Todo De Mi, along with an accompanying video, today.

alianzaA danceable cumbia, Todo De Mi is not your standard tune. Most will recognize it as a Spanish version of John Legend’s, All of Me, and Alianza more than does the R&B hit justice with its own style and flavor.

The tune starts with a haunting intro on the bajo sexto and an accompanying slow-roll on the snare drum before taking off into its accordion-heavy cumbia rhythms. Jose Robles’ distinctive vocals and the harmonies help set this tune apart from others, especially the soaring voice on the chorus, a tough cumbia beat and some skillful bajo sexto playing.

Of course, there’s also the hot video that goes with the single.

Alianza was established in 2005 by Jose Robles (Accordion, Vocals); Arturo Robles (Drums); and Jose “Wicho” Escobar (percussionist). Rounding out the band are Michael Davila (Bass); and Oscar Calderon (Bajo Sexto). Over the years, Alianza has gained a following beyond Texas, thanks to two appearances on Sabado Gigante, as well as a 3rd place finish in an Univision Radio/Sabado Gigante battle of the bands.

By 2010, they released their first album, Hasta Una Eternidad. Today, Alianza and their fans celebrate the release of their newest single and its video on VEVO and YouTube, but you can purchase the song on iTunes on March 3.  A second single, Cruel, which is a Spanish version of Magic’s Rude, will be released in May.

The album was recorded at Urbana Recording Studios in Houston’s northside. Urbana is the studio and HQ of Tejano and international super group, La Mafia. The first two singles were recorded by Grammy award winning engineer Maria Gaucin, while the remainder of the album was engineered by La Mafia keyboardist/producer, Armando Lichtenberger, Jr., who has recorded top acts, such as Christian Castro, Marc Anthony, Los Palominos, among others.

The video was directed by Juan Morin of JMPhotography, assisted by Omar Garcia and Servando Garza. The video stars model Rebecca Barrera.

Be on the look-out on iTunes for Alianza’s next big hits and their full-length album during 2015. Don’t forget that video on YouTube! And make sure to follow them on Facebook.


Hoy es el lanzamiento del nuevo sencillo y video del grupo norteño Alianza entitulado Todo De Mi.

Una cumbia bailable, Todo de Mi no es cualquier cancion como es una traduccion del hit de John Legend, All of Me. Alianza le da al sencillo su mejor adaptacion con puro sabor.

La rola empieza con una introduccion de bajo sexto y con un rollo como de tambor militar antes de que empieza la acordeon y la voz. Jose Robles con su voz distinta y las harmonias separan esta cancion de otras que quizas estan en la radio, especialmente la voz creciente en el coro, un ritmo de cumbia con ganas, y el bajo sexto habil.

Pero no nos olvidamos del video calientisimo.

Alianza fue establecido el 2005 por Jose Robles, voz y acordeon; Arturo Robles, bateria; y Jose “Wicho” Escobar, percusiones. Ademas Michael Davila, bajo; y Oscar Calderon, bajo sexto forman parte de este grupo. Durante los años Alianza ha ganado fanaticos en todas partes de los estados unidos y Mexico con la ayuda de dos apariencias en el show de Sabado Gigante. Tambien ganaron el tercer premio en una batalla de bandas producidas por Univision Radio y Sabado Gigante.

El 2010 Alianza produjo su primer album Hasta Una Eternidad. Hoy, Alianza y sus fanaticos celebran el lanzamiento del nuevo sencillo y video y ademas podran descargar la cancion el 3 de Marzo por iTunes. El segundo sencillo, Cruel, es una traduccion de Rude por Magic que se enlaza en mayo.

Los sencillos y el nuevo album se grabaron en los estudios Urbana, cual es el estudio y sede del supergrupo La Mafia. Los sencillos fueron grabados por la ganadora del Grammy Maria Gaucin, y el resto del disco fue grabado por el tecladista de La Mafia Armando Lichtenberger, Jr, quien ha trabajado con Cristian Castro, Marc Anthony, Los Palominos, y otros.

El video fue dirigido por Juan Morin, asistido por Omar Garcia y Servando Garza. Modelando en el video fue Rebecca Barrera.

No se olviden de descargar los sencillos y el disco por iTunes. Y no se olviden visitar el Facebook de Alianza.

 

Did You Sense Sadism in Their Tweets?

So, all of the pro-migrant groups (good and bad) have told me that the right-wing anti-immigrant federal judge’s temporary injunction on President Obama’s immigration executive order will be overturned or overruled or something. We shall see.

abbott-el-diablitoThat all of this money is being wasted by Republicans to stop an executive order that only does so much in regards to reform says a lot about these bigots. What was more disturbing were the celebratory tweets by Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Ted Cruz in which they declare victory against “executive amnesty.” Given their past vitriol, I’d guess they mean Obama AND Latinos (immigrants).

I think I sense a little sadism in their tweets.

I’ve seen some local groups trying to talk right-wing Republicans into “saving” HB1403 (in-state tuition). Pretty soon, some will be begging to stop Greg Abbott’s continued militarization of the border. Perhaps there will be some groveling to right-wingers to stop any “sanctuary city” legislation. Frankly, the Republicans are set in their ways–they’re bigots and are set on putting on an anti-immigrant sideshow.

So, are we done playing that fake game of “bipartisanship”? Because there’s no sense in our side looking like masochists when the other side continues to perfect their ability to inflict pain on the defenseless.

DC Reviews: The Mavericks ~ Mono

monoThe Mavericks are back with their supposedly sophomore album, Mono. Why, supposedly? Well, for a band that’s been around for 25 years, they’re hardly new in this game; if anything, their return to the scene in 2012 and with the release of In Time, they basically took off from where they left off. And Mono shows just how much more creative they can get, and with the full support of their record company, The Valory Music Co.

Why Mono? Some of my fellow Mavericks fans who are non-Latino were running the online translators trying to find out what their tour title meant, Mono Mundo. The vast majority asked, “Monkey World?” Well, Mono isn’t Spanish; if anything, it’s short for monaural; or, monophonic. In other words, not in stereo, or sound reproduced through a single (one) channel. The sound is simpler, more basic, but the music is all Mavericks. It’s a risk few are willing to take, which makes this album much more exciting.

Most impressive is that The Mavericks recorded this album in a week, recorded live, and with few overdubs to sweeten the sound. Still, the various instruments that make up the Mavericks sound are captured beautifully. From the get-g0, the bilingual Latin-tinged All Night Long soars, along with Raul Malo’s vocals. And speaking of voices, the R&B tune, What Am I Supposed To Do, with its beautiful harmonies, has become a fan favorite as the Mavs tested out several of these songs at the end of 2014.

A personal favorite of mine is (Waiting) For the World to End because the lyrics are fantastic. The clash of horns and instruments, though, make it one of the more powerful tunes on the album. As Raul Malo is quite the balladeer, Fascinate Me, gives him quite the workout as he reaches for uncharacteristic highs that few can achieve. The piano and acordeón accompaniment and horns come together awesomely.

The Mavericks, as always, go in different directions while staying true to their sound. Let It Rain is a folksy tune with Michael Guerra’s acordeon clearly audible. The blues tune, The Only Question Is, gives Malo another workout that is very appreciated. The rockin’ Stories We Could Tell and What You Do To Me will keep fans dancing in front of the stage.

As a bonus track, they give us Nitty Gritty, made popular by Doug Sahm.

12 tracks–all awesome. Get yours today! As always is the case with The Mavericks, you get de todo un poco (a little bit of everything). 

The Mavericks are about to embark on their Mono Mundo Tour (that’s One World), taking them across the US and Europe. They hit Houston on April 16, and I’m hoping they give us another 2 hours and 45 minutes of awesome.

 

 

Sunday Read During #SNL40

The Texas Progressive Alliance will be more than happy to never hear the word “sequestration” again as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff provides his four part Mayoral manifesto for the 2015 election in Houston.

Letters from Texas turns the blog over to Russ Tidwell for an update on redistricting litigation and the question the judges in San Antonio will be ruling on.

light seeker at Texas Kaos takes Fox “News” to task for its fear mongering, distortion and misrepresentation. The Fear and Hate Chronicles.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson: It’s amazing to me how little Texans care if corporations waste their money. Privatization Corruption Is Common In Texas.

The games people play with money when they are our elected representatives in Austin gets more disgusting by the legislative session. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs really thinks there’s got to be a better way to run state government than with the wheels greased by the lobbyists.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Larry Taylor is so encrusted in the Republican bubble he brags about giving the insurance industry perks at the expense of Texans.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about the rip current warning sign on the beach in Galveston. Sometimes we do have to swim against the tide. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Lone Star Ma puts out a call to action to oppose the so-called Teacher’s Protection Act, H.B. 868.

Cherise Rohr-Allegrini catalogs the latest measles outbreak and proselytizes for vaccinations.

Charlotte Vaughan Coyle stands, as a Christian, a person of faith, and a pastor, with her Muslim neighbors and all people who work for justice, peace and reconciliation.

The TSTA Blog calls vouchers “a tuition break at your expense”.

Cody Pogue reviews “Building a Better Teacher”.

Concerned Citizens reports from the first Mayoral debate in San Antonio.

Album Cover Artist Ruben Cubillos on NBCNews.Com

I’ve known Ruben Cubillo’s work for a long time. I’ve been a Tejano music fanatic since the single digits, and even as a kid in the 80s, I was always interested in the behind the scenes stuff about albums. It helped that one of our neighbors, Bobby (Gallo) Gallegos was a musician himself and had a lot of war stories to tell which included some names from bands like The Latin Breed, Tortilla Factory, Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, and countless others.

I may not have known anything about music production, but I always paid attention to the names of producers, sound engineers, studio musicians, and especially the graphic artists for future contemplation and comparison. It was kind of like a hobby which continues today because I really love this music.

One name that seemed to pop up on albums often was Ruben Cubillos and his company A Big Chihuahua. If you love the first EMI Latin Selena album cover, well, it’s Cubillos who was the genius behind it.

Austin writer Juan Castillo offers up an excellent interview with Cubillos on NBCNews.com about his history in the industry. One bit of great news is that Cubillos is the guy that designed Juan Gabriel’s Los Duo album cover, as well as a new project coming from the legendary Ruben Ramos.

Check out the article.

In this world of music downloads and Spotify accounts, let’s not forget about the importance of album covers. For most albums, the art is the selling point. The layouts, the liner notes, etc., tell more of the story of a band and the project they are selling you. Pay attention!

Luis Lopez is the new Finance Chair for HCDP

luisRecently, Democrats received an e-mail from outgoing Democratic Finance Chair Bill Baldwin who stepped down to take on some campaign duties on a 2015 campaign. Today, Democrats received an e-mail from HCDP’s new Finance Chair, Luis Lopez.

I’m sure you’ve seen him mentioned here on the DC, since I had the honor of helping Luis out as he repped Dems in the race for Texas House District 132. Luis ran a great campaign in a very red year, did some respectable fundraising in a year when Dems were mostly funding the top of the ballot, and, although the result wasn’t in his favor, Luis recommitted to serving his political party and his community. I’m always boasting that Luis is a force of nature, and he will not disappoint in his new role with the Party.

Here’s his e-mail, if you didn’t receive it. Let’s support Luis’ efforts!

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to you.

My name is Luis Lopez and I was recently appointed as the new Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party’s Finance Committee.

I could not be more excited to take on the role and the task of helping increase the financial security of our county party.

Election after election we see that when we invest our time, our energy and our financial resources into the Harris County Democratic Party, we get real results. So, yes, I will be asking you to open your wallet and make a contribution in this email.

The backbone of our Party is our sustaining membership program.

What if I told you that it would take an additional 1,292 Harris County Democratic Party Sustaining Members just to match the MINIMUM donation of at least $5000.00 that 31 people have made to the Harris County Republican Party to become members of the Republican Party Cornerstone Club.

We have to do better.

I want to ask you to commit to becoming a sustaining member, renewing your sustaining membership, or even just making a donation of $20, $50, or $100 today.

The Finance Committee is working on ways to keep the Party financially secure and raise the funds necessary to continue running programs throughout the year – but we cannot do it without you.

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We have a lot of work to do, so let’s get started!
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Diversity in Local Races

Schleifer at the Chron had an interesting article about the lack of women in the Houston Mayor’s race. Diversity is important, no doubt, but for this avid voter, having a progressive-minded candidate whose policies are on the liberal side of things is a lot more important. Ultimately, though, given the opportunity, even the most progressive candidate seems to moderate his/her views once in office (or worse, during a campaign).

Now, some will argue we haven’t ever had a real progressive leading the horsehoe, while most will split the difference or else some right-wing-nut might get elected. Frankly, there are a lot of constituencies (ethnic, business, etc.) to appease, especially when it comes to committee and top-level appointments, and that ends up screwing up priorities, which Kuff has done an excellent job of outlining. Because, ultimately, there’s an actual job to do.

So, as much as folks will argue about the fact that there are no women running for Mayor, the bottom line is that there are no Latin@s either, yet. Well, much like I ask about the current crop of candidates, I will ask the same of any woman or Latin@ candidate:  Are they progressive? Hell, are they liberal? And just how much have they sold out in previous campaigns to bad people? If neither of the candidates are willing to be mostly progressive, are they worth supporting while swallowing the worse they offer?

And this is how voters should be deciding for whom to vote; based on their views and their needs as this city’s constituents. That’s how I decided to vote for Annise Parker and Bill White. I even swallowed some of Adrian Garcia’s positions on deportation and voted to re-elect him. It’s Texas, I’ve done it for so many, but I’ve also left races blank when I couldn’t find anything tasty to help swallow those awfully bitter pills (Dan Morales).

Of course, I also look at the little things, like, why a Latina candidate for Mayor elsewhere might call her public safety website page “secure communities,” or other dumb, consultant-created things one might see on social media. But, that might be for another post.

Bottom line:  If one is running for anything, they better stay true to their values, and the progressive values that could make this city and state great. Riding that yellow center stripe just doesn’t interest this voter nowadays.

Kuff has  his perspective.