Tag Archives: Democrats

Texas Republicans Declare War on Central American Kids

Rick Perry and his lot have been funneling money to the DPS for “border” purposes for a few years now. Never has the effectiveness of this tax money ever been questioned or even measured, but it has made for great political theater for the Republicans–and political ads filmed on something that looks like the border.

Now, Rick Perry and the Republicans have declared war on Central American kids who have been escaping their home countries for a safer locale. At the same time the Republicans call it a humanitarian crisis (which it is), they’re also doing their best to criminalize these kids who are escaping cartels, poverty, and even government threats.

Unfortunately, this influx of taxpayer cash to the DPS will not get a debate or a vote in a special session of the Texas Lege, as Dan Patrick had requested. Frankly, I was looking forward to film of right-wingers talking about Latinos, in general, not to mention diseases and made-up stories whose only purpose is creating fear. Of course, I expect Dan Patrick and other Republicans to make something up as they go.

The Democratic response thus far?

“What is needed are not more “boots on the ground” or any other euphemisms for the militarization that both impacts border residents’ daily lives and is inadequate to deal with the specific issue at hand,” state Sen. José Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said in a statement last week in response to Abbott’s request.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte added: “Washington must tackle the root causes of this crisis: weak governments, entrenched poverty and the growing power of violent criminal actors in Central America. Texans have a long tradition of looking after our neighbors in times of need. These too are children of God. State and federal government should follow suit, and partner with our faith-based organizations, nonprofits, food banks, and health providers to help these children.”

I wholeheartedly agree with both senators, but as I mentioned to a Facebook friend the other day, the only way to tackle root causes is for Washington to stop meddling in other countries’ affairs-political and economic. The influx of kids mostly comes from El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala; all countries whose governments are or have historically been supported by the U.S. because they elected whom the U.S. wanted (or placed in power by coup), as our friends at Latino Rebels remind us. The Central American Free Trade Agreement and meddling in these countries’ elections has certainly taken its toll to the point where cash-rich criminal enterprises easily yield power. And let’s not forget that some of these right-wing governments are quite oppressive, as well, particularly toward the poor. What do you think is the socioeconomic status of the kids coming over? So, if these governments are weak, we can definitely point to US Latin American policy as a root cause.

As things stand, there is a crisis and it’s growing. With 90,000 kids expected to come over and be apprehended by the end of 2014, facilities and manpower are already busting at the seams. As we heard recently, the Border Patrol was complaining about doing diaper duty and babysitting. If only the DPS dollars were for humanitarian aid, rather than a weak attempt at border militarization. Because all of this just seems to be another dose of Republican theater–$40 million worth of bad theater.

The Texas Civil Rights Project released this statement:

TCRP Director Jim Harrington today condemned Gov. Perry’s “typical militaristic response” to the humanitarian crisis along the border caused by the surge of 47,000 children into the country. “Perry shouldn’t make them pawns in his ongoing politically-driven antipathy toward the federal government,”said Harrington

Perry has announced plans to spend $1.3 million/week to send Texas law enforcement officers to enforce border security. He has not offered any assistance for the children who are already here or to local shelters that are struggling to house and care for them.

“Obviously, it’s important to protect the border; but it’s equally important to protect and provide for the thousands of children who are now in the country. Texas and the border states can come up with more creative ways to deal with the crisis and turning it around. It would be a better and more productive use of taxpayers’ money,” said Harrington. “We’re dealing with young children, not adults. This is not the children’s fault, and we have a humanitarian duty to them until we can figure out how to respond appropriately to the situation. They should not be victimized further by the situation into which they have been thrust by desperate parents.”

This is a good time for Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and the Republicans to do some praying, rather than preying.

 

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Wendy Supports What?

wendyI won’t lie (and neither will my Facebook page), I wasn’t very happy with the announcement that Senator Wendy Davis supports “open carry” of handguns. In my opinion, it opens up a whole can of worms, including questions about whether she would support “campus carry” and other non-priorities. If she desires to be pulled into those other debates, then she’ll get bogged down in that, instead of real issues. I continue to have faith that her campaign team will remain committed to issues that actually matter.

So, then I came to this conclusion:  It’s been too long since I voted for or supported a candidate who was supportive 100% of the “Democratic Platform According to DosCentavos.” If anything, one of my close associates reacted to my feelings:  “C’mon where is she from? Fort Worth. They probably still have gunfights at the Stockyards.” And then I remembered that once I was also a Democrat who demanded ideological purity or commitment proven through Democratic Primary participation, until I started meeting former Republicans who switched to and worked for the better Party. You know, people who are like Senator Davis.

And then I began to rationalize like a good little Democrat:  Well, at least she’s not calling South Texas a “third world” country; she’s not calling for the militarization of South Texas and the hunting of Mexican Americans; she’s not proposing cutting school funding; she’s not making immigrants and Latinos a campaign piñata during a right-wing primary; and she’s not proposing keeping millions of poor Texans (mostly of color) uninsured. No, we all know that Greg Abbott is running on all of these things, as are the rest in his right-wing party.

So, an issue like “open carry” is not going to make a ballot decision for me since it can still be stopped at the legislative level. And depending on what comes out of the Lege, it can be vetoed, weakened, or even, if possible, filibustered by the next Wendy in the Senate, whomever he or she may be. This is a democracy and the people must participate no matter the party of the elected official, to ensure that the highest priorities are met. And that’s why it’s even more important that people vote. If my mom can do it from her pre-op room before surgery today, then anyone can do it.

Also, some say she’s pandering, or that she’s the mastermind of some political ploy. Honestly, I don’t think so. I really do believe it when she says she supports “open carry.” I’m just glad our next Lt. Governor, Leticia Van De Putte, was equally honest that she did not support “open carry.”

My friend Cody Pogue has his view, and as he hopes of Democrats, Wendy Davis has not lost my vote. We know the damage Greg Abbott, Rick Perry, and the Republicans have inflicted on Texas while lining their and their friend’s pockets. I still believe in Wendy Davis much like I believe in the power of my vote and democratic participation.

Texpatriate gives his view, too.

The Texas-Wide Filings

donkey-beats-up-elephantI went over the Harris County filings in my last post, so, now it’s time to talk about the Texas filings. It looks like we can have a strong slate, and it also looks like we’ll need to learn a little bit about candidates in other races.

Governor – Wendy Davis, Ray Madrigal:  This one is a no-brainer with Wendy Davis already putting in the sweat and work on the job and on the trail. Still, one has to wonder why the guy threw his hat in the ring if he has no resources or ability to take a campaign across the state. I’ll stick with Wendy on this one.

Lt. Governor – Thankfully, no opponent for Leticia Van de Putte, although a name from the past was floating around. Van de Putte wow’d a crowd in SA, and I’m looking forward to her wowing some crowds around the state–at rallies. The people need to hear the message.

Attorney General – Sam Houston. Some say the name will help, but, he’s also a good candidate who will put in the work.

Land Commissioner – John F. Cook. Cook may end up against “little brown one,” who’s neither pro-brown, or pro-anything. “P” has already been made the de facto right-wing brown voice and is being paraded around touting anti-woman policies, which have nothing to do with the General Land Commission. As the former Mayor of El Paso, John Cook has a track record of managing a government effectively.

Texas Railroad Commission – Steve Brown, Dale Henry. I’m with Steve Brown on this one, as I’ve stated previously.

State Comptroller – Mike Collier. I have yet to meet him, but I like what he’s put out there, thus far. My friends at Kingwood Area Dems hosted him a couple of months ago, and a friend of mine is personal friends with him, so, what’s there not to like, right?

U.S. Senate – Maxey Scherr, David Alameel, Harry Kim, Michael Fjetland, and Kesha Rogers. Scherr is already on the road and has pretty much everything that looks like a campaign, especially a good message. Anything that counters the Ted Cruz message, which now all of the GOP candidates for Senate will attempt to scream the loudest at Teaper meetings, is good for Texas.

Agricultural Commissioner – Jim Hogan, Kinky Friedman, Hugh Asa Fitzsimmons. I have knowledge of one person on this list, and I can’t say he’s my fave. But I’m pretty sure Tex-Mex Legend Little Joe will support him, much like he did when he ran for Gov–they’re music industry buds–I guess. I guess we have much to learn about the other guys.

Other Filings

1st Court of Appeals – Jim Sharp filed for re-election and he is unopposed in the Primary.

14th Court of Appeals – District Judge Kyle Carter of Houston filed for Chief Justice.

Congress District 23 – Good to see that Pete Gallego is unopposed in the Primary, but he will need to deal with his last opponent, right-wing extremist Canseco. Gallego has served well, and my family and friends who live in the district really like him.

Texpatriate has more on the missed filing opportunities and other stuff.

Senator Garcia’s Recs; Final Filing Day; A Statewide Dem

Sylvia’s Choices

Senator Sylvia Garcia (SD6) issued her run-off recommendations today. They’re not too different from mine, although I stayed out of District A.

The Senator recommends:

District A – Brenda Stardig

District D – Dwight Boykins

District I – Robert Gallegos

HCC-1 – Zeph Capo

HCC-3 – Adriana Tamez

Of course, mine can be found here. There have been plenty of opportunities for debate regarding my recommendation to leave At-Large 3 blank, but, why fight? There are a lot of strong opinions, but a lot of my friends seem to be leaving it blank. A ver que pasa.

 Final Filing Day Surprises

Will there be surprises? Already, there’s one from Austin in which Judge Larry Meyers of the Court of Criminal Appeals switched to the Blue side, stating he couldn’t be a member of the right-wing party anymore. Word is his seat isn’t up until 2016, so, he can run in 2014 for Texas Supreme Court–and he’s filed. So, not only do we have our first Democratic statewide officeholder since 1998, we have another Dem candidate for the Supremes. I’ll take this “win.”

Here in Harris County, word is we’re in for a few contested primaries, and a few empty positions which will give the GOP an easy win. I’ll have some thoughts on this later, but for now, I’m eagerly waiting for the final list.

Texpatriate has more on Meyers.

GOPtinos 2.0?

Looks like they’re at it again. The Republicans are courting Latinos by hiring Latinos and then sending a press release about it.

Quick! Point me to the nearest polling location! I’ve been convinced that the GOP likes us!

It seems the Republicans are still lying to themselves. Still far from supporting a path to citizenship, which over 80% of Latinos support, their efforts on immigration reform have stalled to the point of indifference. They have convinced themselves that immigration is not a top issue for Latinos, although thousands showed up in Washington, DC to demand Congress wake up and pass some sort of reform a couple of days ago. The right-wing “Caller” rag called them “illegals.” But that’s not the entire Latino message for the GOP.

Here in Texas, Greg Abbott is already attacking Wendy Davis on driver’s licenses for immigrants, and is on record supporting racial profiling as a means of state-sanctioned immigration enforcement. Right-winger for state comptroller Glenn Hegar just started a poll asking his supporters if the comptroller should do a study about the “impact of illegal immigration.” The title alone tells us what his intent really is. Even Carol Strayhorn used the term, “undocumented” in her report. Mostly, Hegar is also on record as saying he supports voter ID because “illegals” vote illegally in record numbers–a downright lie.

And I’ll also mention that voter suppression through voter photo ID and gerrymandering sent Latinos a clear message:  No representation for you!

What do I usually tell Latinos who may be buying into GOPtino outreach window dressing?

It’s the policies, ¡pende**s!

And Latinos are on record as being overwhelmingly in support of more progressive policy stances on jobs and the economy, health care, immigration reform, and education. Any other issues, particularly the cultural ones the GOP seems to stick to, are far from priorities for Latinos. Just read any poll by Latino Decisions or the Pew Hispanic Institute.

As always, I’ll tell Democrats and Democratic candidates–stay strong and progressive on these issues; defend against right-wing attacks; and don’t give in.

The Democratic Hearing on Immigration

DSC01871smThe five Texas members of Congress who made up the Democratic delegation that came to Houston to hold an immigration hearing were all supportive of “comprehensive immigration reform,” whatever that is nowadays. As I mentioned in my post informing you all about the hearing, the hearing would be mostly friendly and it was.

As I expected, not much was said about the $40 billion border militarization plan placed in S.744, except when local activist Maria Jimenez spoke about the hundreds of deaths that occur on the border due to increased enforcement. None of the other local activists mentioned it either, preferring to talk about “comprehensive immigration reform.” As I’ve stated frequently, I would like to hear from one Democrat (or from any of the national immigration groups standing up for it) why the border surge is a necessity and why they support it.

Members of the Chinese and other Asian communities were also supportive, particularly about increasing the numbers of family visas. There was also support shown by the South Asian and Pakistani community, as well as the African American and Clergy community, and even Julia Maldonado and the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston. All-in-all, it was quite a show of unity from the community-based groups.

The strongest presentation came from a DREAMer, Isaac Valdez, a Math major at UH-Downtown who was recently elected Student Body President. Although he supports the DREAM act and is a DACA student, he also wants a comprehensive solution that ensures family unity and opportunity.

Also making a strong statement was the Greater Houston Partnership; however, when pressed about whether they supported CIR or not, the Port of Houston only talked about it being an “economic engine” for Houston–whatever that means in the context of immigration reform. Perhaps they’re just looking for some of that “security” boondoggle money.

Of course, those that need to be convinced, like Ted Poe and John Culberson, weren’t in the room. Not that they are even open-minded on the path to citizenship, or anything. But at least to hear from the community. At the very least, all of the statements are now of public record.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee gave mention a couple of times to the DREAM9, a group of deported DREAMers who had attempted to cross a legal port of entry into the US to begin a movement to bring back DREAMers who have been deported. They are sitting individually in solitary confinement in a privately run detention center, blocked from making phone calls, but also working to interview other detainees. 

Kudos should go, though, to Mayor Annise Parker, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez and the City Council for opening the doors of City Hall for this hearing.

The Notion That The GOP Needs to Embrace People

An article in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal (by Enrique Rangel) caught my eye this weekend. It talked about the need for the Republican party to embrace minorities, and featured in the article was a complaining (again) Aaron Pena.

The article takes us back to Texas Monthly’s cover photo featuring Wendy Davis and the Castro brothers, which earned the Castros the insult of “wetback” from a bigot, to which Mayor Castro responded. Apparently, so did Aaron Pena.

So, Peña spoke up as loudly as he could.

“As conservatives grounded in principles of decency and respect for all people, it is our responsibility to openly denounce these sorts of demeaning statements,” he wrote in a letter to the editor published in the San Antonio Express-News.

“Our state is changing in many ways, demographically and otherwise,” Peña added. “If we are to move forward cohesively and productively as the great state we are, we must put these ugly vestiges of our past behind us.”

Given Republican attacks on women and the state budget, I’m haven’t seen the “decency and respect,” but as the immigration debate moves forward, it seems the vitriol is getting worse, thanks to Republican Steve King of Iowa and his “canteloupe” comments about DREAMers. Needless to say, it is even upsetting Republicans like Pena.

Over the years, King has also compared immigrants to dogs and proposed an electrified fence along the border with Mexico.

Back in Texas, Dallas tea party leader Ken Emanuelson said recently Republicans don’t want blacks to vote because they overwhelmingly support Democrats.

“Our party doesn’t need those people and we should denounce them as strongly as we can when they make or post those ugly comments,” Peña said.

Even another Republican Latino had something to say.

“The problem is that those at the top, the leaders, don’t know how to deal with these people (the bigots),” said former Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi.

“They have failed us miserably, hoping the problem will go away.” Torres said of GOP leaders who say little or nothing when a racist remark triggers a public uproar.

Hell, although not racist in nature, but more “chicken-shittedness,” I had my issues with the Democrats who listened to a consultant who told them back in 2005 that the immigration issue would just go away and not to engage Republicans on it. That said, not much has changed, other than some cosmetic engagement and, now, a complete giveaway of the store (border militarization) during the negotiation over immigration reform to appease the Republicans–which has failed.

Bottom line, it will take a lot more than simply “being nice” to turn Latinos “red,” in vote and not in anger. Republican stances on education (K-12 and College), Obamacare, and jobs/economy are not very well liked by Latinos according to the latest Latino Decisions polling.

Much like it is said that Latinos are not monolithic (although Obama’s 71% in 2012 says much), they are also not a one-issue group of people, unless Republicans go negative on immigration (which then turns into anti-Latino rhetoric).

I had a relatively short conversation with a Republican Latina who attended the Gus Garcia Day celebration this weekend who tells me she is going to file to take on John Cornyn for U.S. Senate because of his stances on immigration. Other than telling her she faces a lonely road in the GOTea primary, since Latinos stay away from that primary a lot more often than from the Dem primary, it was difficult not to smirk. “Bless her heart,” I thought, but I reminded her of the fact that Latinos are not a one-issue people, and Republican primary voters are certainly not what you would call pro-Latino or pro-immigrant, given the kind  of stuff they come up with at their conventions.

Nonetheless, a run by her may be what it takes to convince Republicans to let go of the new-Jim Crow attitude they are portraying with their immigration stances, voter ID, etc. But she would still be a Latina Republican left to defend and convince Latinos on draconian budget cuts and everything else the GOP is trying to dismantle.

In other words, the name-calling is just one part of the reason Republicans aren’t earning the Latino vote.

 

 

Perry and Dewhurst Will Continue Attack on Texas Women

As was expected, after Democrats defeated a bill to limit access to women’s health care and abortions in Texas, Rick Perry has called for a 2nd special session that will deal with “abortion restrictions,” as well as transportation and juvenile justice.

David Dewhurst showed his lack of leadership as president of the State Senate by  making and allowing some bad calls against State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster. After 11 hours, a final “violation” was sustained and stopped Davis’ filibuster. After a challenge by State Sen. Kirk Watson, and with the help of Senators Van de Putte, Royce West and a loud crowd of activists in gallery, the debate was extended enough that Senators finally voted on SB 5 at 12:03 AM, after the deadline.

An empowered group of activists will likely grow and be ready for the July 1st Special Session. Will Dewhurst be ready to follow his own rules on July 1st? Or will he continue on a disastrous trek of embarrassing the state of Texas by allowing the re-writing of rules and changing time-stamps on final vote outcomes? Of course, all of this is reflective of Perry’s lack of leadership, too.

One thing is for sure, I’m sure there will be multiple UStream accounts and video cameras around the Capitol to make sure the world is watching again. And the Twitterverse will definitely be blasting away. All Perry and Dewhurst need to do now is ban them. Boy, wouldn’t that be smart?

Kuff has a major recap.

Border Surge: The Ugly Realities

In case you missed it this week, the U.S. Senate voted to add the Corker-Hoeven “Border Surge” amendment to the Gang of Ocho (or is it Diez now?) bill, bringing the bill to a whole new level of crappy. One can blame the Republicans, but it seems Democrats have thrown immigrants and Latinos under  the bus, yet, again, in the name of some fake bipartisanship. (And to prove the bipartisanship, it is now known as the Leahy amendment.)

Not only does the “surge” include 20,000 brand new Mexican-hunting cops and 700 miles of private contract boondoggle double fencing, it also changes anything that could have been thought of as a “path to citizenship” to a decade-plus long second-class status.

Notably, it would also require all enhanced border security elements to be in place and operational before the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States could obtain legal status and begin trekking the path to citizenship.

In other words, you can be “provisional,” but it’ll take a decade before you can even gain a green card. And actual citizenship? Is that even being discussed, anymore? But at least American citizens can be harrassed by 40,000 border cops on the border for being brown, right? I say this because there is no talk of reforming the border cops agency.

Peter Schey from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has some honest, hit-you-in-the-face analysis of S. 744.

About 4 to 5 million immigrants will most likely be left facing an extremely harsh and unforgiving set of laws almost certain to eventually force their detention and deportation (if detected) or more likely leave them in undocumented status for the rest of their lives (if undetected).

Again, I ask, where are the Democrats in this? Where is Obama for America, or whatever they call themselves now? I mean, other than showing movies. And where are the national Latino organizations, like LULAC and NCLR, other than waiting at the trough for tickets to the next White House dinner or fighting over who gets to be President and Past President and Immediate Past, But Wanna Be President Now…President? They all seem to be in agreement with the “surge,” apparently, as a means to “move forward.” Forward to what?

I have spoken about this during my recent presentations to Democratic groups, and my predictions seem to have come true. In my presentation, I’ve also spoken about the 1.4 million Obamites who signed a petition to support a weakened background check for guns legislation, but there being a lack of effort nationally regarding immigration reform, other than President Obama’s secret room at the Capitol. Of course nothing is happening–they’re too busy giving away the store and calling it bipartisanship.

So, now, they will have a couple more votes to pass it and send it to the House, where it will only get worse and likely amended to death. We are getting to a point where Republicans will be against it because they’ll always be bigots and against immigration reform, and where Latinos will be against it because we will still be a hunted and second-class people in America (if they are informed about it). Oh, but right-wingers and blue dog-o-crats can continue to boast about getting tough on Mexicans, while regular Dems can wipe the sweat off their brows and say, “we did it, you may continue to worship us.” Even if S. 744 goes down in flames, each side gets cover for “trying.”

Fawn Johnson reminds us that the House really is just trying to run out the clock by doing piecemeal stuff and enjoying their recesses.

After senators get the bill done – probably in time to make their weekend barbeques — they have a weeklong July 4 break. And then they get to wait for colleagues on the other side of the Capitol who will have four weeks – four weeks – to deliberate before Congress takes off for an even lengthier recess in August. Once Washington meets autumn, immigration falls off the priority track thanks to the reemergence of fiscal crisis.

If that’s not good enough for Dems to come to their senses, then perhaps gaining the support of the bigoted Governor of Arizona can produce a bumper sticker that says:  Hey Democrats, Immigration Reform:  You’re Doing It Wrong!

The big vote on S. 744 is on Thursday. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to watching the floor debate and speeches.

Roberto Lovato has his take on how the private prison boondoggle will explode with this bill.

Judiciary Committee Sends CIR to Senate

Well, at least their version of CIR, which will probably be called by right-wing-nuts in the House the “liberal” bill, or the “amnesty” bill. Or something negative.

After going through almost 300 amendments, the committee passed 100 of them–some good, some OK, many of them bad. One important amendment that went ignored without a vote was one that would allow American citizens to sponsor a foreign-born, same-sex spouse for citizenship. If you can’t even vote, then there are some guts missing in DC.

The Senate is expected to vote sometime next month. Meanwhile, the House has been working on their version of the bill, but a Republican-created glitch regarding health care for immigrants has Dems calling for a re-do.

The language — supported by Republicans and some Democrats in the House group — says that immigrants seeking citizenship must pay for their own health care. In this proposal, immigrants would no longer be eligible for citizenship if government has to pay for it. (DC’s Emphasis)

But the tough language sparked concerns among Democrats about the possibility of emergency surgeries, and whether expensive procedures would plunge these immigrants into debt, and out of the country.

How heartless can you get? Tricking sick immigrants out of getting health care when needed, or worse, keeping them in some some bottom-class status if they do use it, even in an emergency. The Republicans won’t budge without this specific language. The fact that Dems want to stop any health care for those who gain status has me a bit pissed off, too.

I won’t show even a bit of excitement with the Senate’s “progress” as some in the Democratic Party or the non-profit, pro-migrant establishment have been showing in their press releases. As I stated, whatever comes out in the end will more than likely be mostly bad and not even close to being termed a legislative victory.

I’ll keep watching this from the cheap seats, and keep taking a closer look at what’s being proposed.

FYI:  My sis and I are on tour and we’ll be speaking at the Humble Democrats meeting on Saturday, 2 PM, at the Octavia Fields Library. As always, Toni will give the legal/legislative side of things, and I will provide the political side of things. Come on over!