Category Archives: Democratic Stuff

Calling Out Our Own: Following The Money

Now, let’s see what liberal freak-out happens next

For years, the Democratic attack against Republicans has had a mantra to convince the voters that one side is bought:  “Follow the money!”

Some of us actually do.

When it comes to private prisons and the border boondoggle that comes with it, both sides seem to enjoy the cash that comes from the industry, and the Texas Observer posted an article which outlines how much money the Dems have received in recent times.

Now, no doubt, Republicans have enjoyed more of the cash, but that’s not the point, right? And this is a national problem as even Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and other nationally known Democrats are known to have taken tons of that cash. Some of these national Dems are even publicly calling out the warehousing of children while still taking that cash. When they start showing up at rallies, well, some of us get a bit annoyed.

In Texas, though, the private prison industry is huge. Corporations like GEO and CORECivic (Corrections Corporation of America) have been hired by the state government to house inmates, along with being hired by the feds to warehouse detained migrants. Some even run the “family residential centers” that have housed migrant families–and not just by Trump.

And the way some of these work:  Local government builds facility; locals give contract to private prison company to run it; private prison gets contract from state or feds; State and Feds ignore complaints about treatment of inmates, lack of health services, etc. It’s a vicious cycle in which multiple levels of politicians earn some easy campaign cash.

Needless to say, the list includes some of Texas’ favorite Democrats, such as former State Senator Leticia Van de Putte. I remember she supported the Texas DPS border surge that is still ongoing and costly. Then I see our own current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner having received some cash when he was in the Lege. No surprise, there are also “border” representatives like Judith Zaffirini, Tracy King and others who enjoy, or have enjoyed, private prisons as some of the biggest employers in their districts, so, their support kept those private jails filled to the max.

Others on the list have been champions of offender second chances and sentencing reform for poor offenders who can’t pay fines.

I’m sure they’ll have their reasons for taking the checks. Some may just call them “unsolicited” contributions. Current candidate for State Senate (SD19) Roland Gutierrez is one of those and is donating his $250 to a good cause. [Update:  Gutierrez has accused his opponent Pete Gallego of accepting a $5,000 contribution from private prison giant GEO Group; however, further research has found that during the 2013-2014 campaign season, Gallego accepted over $12,000 from GEO and Corrections Corporation of America.] But whether it’s now, when children and families are being locked up in these freezers, or whether “back when” the state of Texas was in a run-up to locking up every low-level offender to fill official and rented jail space, it’s always been wrong to support these badly run facilities.

But, there is a quick-fix! If a check was received, donate it! MALDEF, Grassroots Leadership, Texas ACLU and others are assisting in representing and bonding out detained migrants. Put this bad money to good use. Thankfully, it’s not as much as Greg Abbott, who has a price tag hanging out his hind-side for just about any right-wing interest. And, then, never take a dirty check again.

Remember the question posed by the Observer:  Could it become a liability for Democrats? For most of these Dems in safe districts, probably not. For former Lege members who are now high-paid lobbyists, even less. For Dems as a whole, well, the Republicans are already playing their strategy of “they did it too!” The Republicans are lock-and-goose-step supportive of the money and locking up immigrants and citizens, alike, but when the Democrats make statements against the latest Republican anti-immigrant policy while holding a check from the industry, well, it just looks bad.

Donate it!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

#AbolishICE and Other Things Causing Liberal Freak-Outs

There’s a movement happening, but it’s a movement that has been ongoing for decades, now. For many Democrats, though, it seems very new to them–and something to avoid.

While immigration/deportation reform activists have been at it for over 30 years (the recent battles), Democrats have always shown a little fear of the movement–fearful of losing the white vote. But even the weakest positions on the issue haven’t been winners for Democrats.

Reagan’s amnesty increased enforcement. Bill Clinton’s immigration reform of ’96 was a joke and gave a big shove to what is today’s deportation and detention boondoggle. Given steroids by Bush and made  worse by Obama, it is no surprise that a white supremacist (Trump) is now doing whatever he wants today. But it must be said:  It didn’t start with Trump. And yes, Democrats did it, too. And it must be stopped.

Immigration advocates were very critical of Obama. But people didn’t believe us. He was the “hope and change” guy. How could he be so cruel? But (former Vice President Joe) Biden was sent to Central America, falsely telling the families that their children will not get asylum. Obama has an interview with (ABC News anchor) George Stephanopoulos, saying to people: Don’t send your children. We will send them back.

So many of the things are happening have been happening for a long time. And again, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now. But the stupidity of one administration cannot justify the malice of another.

Now, because of the heightened level of cruelty, it’s visible.

This interview on CNN gives a better view of what ICE really is.

The creation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) back in 2003 was in response to 9/11, fear of immigrants, and especially fear of Muslims. In other words, its reactionary creation was based on hate and bigotry. Given a two-prong job, enforcement/removal and crime-busting, ICE has become a gestapo of sorts, utilizing illegal tactics, racial profiling, and hate- and fear-mongering from the current president to destroy families, steal children, affect local economies, and create an air of fear within targeted communities. All the while making profits for the border boondoggle. In fact, it was created to act in these ways.

People must be reminded that ICE and Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) are two different agencies. CPB enforces the border. ICE does not. In fact, if you read the interview, it’s pretty obvious that ICE interferes with the others’ duties. Given reports of abuse of immigrants and children, both sides of this coin must be investigated and reformed–or even abolished.

This said, there’s been a bit of a freak-out among Democrats who fear Republicans will now start saying that Democrats are for open borders as activists and candidates call for ICE to be abolished or reformed. It’s gotten so bad, there’s even been some Whitesplaining and Demsplaining toward the movement, which doesn’t help one earn votes. It’s also insulting, so, stop it.

Our own Texas US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is part of the chorus for reform, as is 2020 prospect Kirsten Gillibrand. Others, have called to abolish ICE, such as future Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio and others running for Congress across the country. One way or another, candidates are listening and going beyond the usual weak campaign positions.

The big question:  When haven’t Republicans said Democrats are for open borders?

President Obama deported 3 million, warehoused hundreds of thousands more and Republicans said he was for open borders when he signed a doomed executive order (DACA) that didn’t do anything but protect a few from deportation. Hillary Clinton wanted expedited removal of unaccompanied children in 2014, voted for the original “border fence” and Republicans said she was for open borders. Texas gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez ran 287(g) during the Obama Era and Republicans attacked her as being for open borders when she called out Greg Abbott’s SB4 racial profiling law.

The Republican chorus is a broken record on Democrats who have supported the weakest of immigration reforms–open borders, open borders, open borders.

And still, the liberals–the Democrats– freak-out because they think they’ll get attacked for calling to #AbolishICE? Take a chill pill, people. Surely, we’ve learned to fight back, rather than to cower in weak, losing positions.

If there is ever a time to unite with a movement that wants to stamp out a corrupt and broken immigration system it is now. Whether it’s to #AbolishICE or to reform it, or even a call to simply stop warehousing children in prisons, the Republican attack will remain the same. So, stop the freak-out and step up to the fight. You never know how many non-voters whose trust you’ve lost may step up–to the voting booth.

 

Dems Exact Revenge on Bernie, Give Pass to Dumbocrats

That’ll teach Bernie!

Democrats (DNC) who are still wasting time blaming Bernie Sanders for their failings have finally exacted revenge on the liberal Senator from Vermont.

“At the time a presidential candidate announces their candidacy publicly, they must publicly affirm that they are a Democrat.”

The draft goes on to require that any candidate pursuing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president confirm in writing to the Democratic National Committee chairman that they are a member of the Democratic Party, will accept the Democratic nomination and will “run and serve as a member of the Democratic Party.”

Well, maybe it doesn’t stop Bernie from a 2020 bid, but that’s up to him.

What was more noticeable to me was that DNC members and activists celebrating this would rather waste time playing internal politics with an “independent” who goes above and beyond to follow the DNC platform and votes with the Democrats in Congress all the time, yet give credence to Dumbocrats (Tester, Manchin, McCaskill-types) who sign on the dotted Dem line, yet, do nothing for Democratic issues, especially immigration and deportation reform. The Dumbocrats sure as hell don’t “run and serve” as Democrats on this and other issues, in my opinion. Manchin actually likes Trump!

The former is punished for challenging Dem “royalty,” while the latter is revered for selling out entire groups of people for the sake of some sort of ineffective and artificial scorecard majority. All this says is:  “We support democracy, but only OUR type of democracy.” Whether one thinks it’s wrong or right, one thing it really is is hypocritical.

Now, perhaps it’s easier for some to call themselves “independent” in a state like Vermont. In Texas, I don’t fit the profile–at least in years when Dems put good people, like Lupe Valdez, on the ballot. The reason I don’t call myself one is because I’m pretty decided on what issues I support and I’m not some undecided voter who expects all the campaign money to be spent on convincing me. But I do demand Democratic candidates act like they’re Democrats, and if that calls for a heated Democratic Primary to find out which candidates act right (or left), then, so be it. You know, democracy!

Anyway, if you’re going to be demanding loyalty oaths, then, let’s go all the way. But, if you’re just pissed off at Bernie, then you’re just doing a disservice to the Party.

[I write this as I go over page after page of Democrats who accept money from the private prison lobby while Trump threatens using tent cities in very sunny El Paso to warehouse children escaping violence and poverty and separated from their parents. It really complicates the Democratic response to GOP bigotry when everyone plays the game]

Egberto Willies has his take on this.

RIP: Jimmy Gonzalez (Grupo Mazz)

I was in the middle of celebrating my birthday with some friends and breakfast tacos when I got the alert bearing the awful news of music icon Jimmy Gonzalez’s passing. It wasn’t until I made it home that I got to think about the impact he made in the Tejano music industry over 40+ years of performing, producing, composing, and singing.

An accomplished guitarist, Gonzalez was the musical director of the iconic Super Grupo Mazz, founding the band with his childhood friend and vocalist, Joe Lopez. So close were the two that they were actually both born on the same day, say year, and 30 minutes apart. Started in 1978, the group, with RGV Onda Chicana roots, took a bold turn toward Spanish-language pop and cumbia music producing albums that weren’t easily accepted by Chicanos–who didn’t expect some boys from Brownsville to perform disco-esque music en Español. Adding some much wanted rancheras and polkas to their follow-up albums shot them toward being a radio and fan favorite.

Hoy, Laura Ya No Vive Aqui, Yo No Se, Calla, and many more hits recorded under an indie label provided a solid foundation during the 80s. But when the 90s heyday rolled in, it was labels, such as CBS/Sony and Capitol/EMI that would catapult them toward regional, national, and international success. Songs, such as Laura, No Te Olvidare, and Ven Devorame Otra Vez would turn into record album sales which then turned into year-round touring, which included luxury coaches and semis to carry light shows and professional PA systems. From nightclubs to ballrooms in rural towns to convention centers in big cities and even arenas around the US and Mexico, they attracted thousands to their shows. They’d even lend their talents to political fundraisers throughout South Texas, as both Joe and Jimmy experienced the challenges that most working class Chicano families experienced and wanted to change for the better by supporting good candidates.

Leading the musical charge for Mazz was Jimmy Gonzalez, who took on producing, arranging, booking, and management duties along with his edgy and innovative guitar playing and harmonies. Though the Tejano bubble of the 90s was short-lived while Tejano radio stations closed and an internationalized music industry gave less respect to the Tejano genre, Mazz continued to work, though, by 1998, Jimmy and Joe parted ways, each with their own projects and goals. But, yes, Mazz continued.

With a Texas-based label, Freddie Records, Gonzalez and Mazz would record 18 albums over the course of 19 years. Gonzalez’s latest, Porque Todavia Te Quiero, was just released in April and enjoying the usual airplay earned by Mazz’s reputation for producing good music. Many Tejano Music Awards and Latin Grammys later, Gonzalez was definitely enjoying his success and what he offered the industry. He also enjoyed working alongside his sons who were an integral part of his organization.

My friends at TejanoNation have more to add about Jimmy Gonzalez.

Thanks to my sisters, I was introduced to Mazz in 1979 (on 8-track tapes) and my first live show was a concert thrown by the CCHS Senior Class in 1981 at our football stadium. Yeah, I was a kid at the time. Since that time, I attended many shows and I was even at the live recording of Una Noche Juntos:  Live at San Antonio’s Rosedale Park in 1992, along with 8,000 of my closest (like sardines) friends, during my college days. My mom and her comadre would joke that one was Joe’s girlfriend and the other was Jimmy’s, they loved their music that much. So, one can imagine that many memories were flowing throughout the day and I wasn’t the only one going through this. So many of Jimmy’s fellow musicians and singers, along with DJs and promoters, posted throughout the day of their experiences with Jimmy–at concerts, at recording studios, and everything in between. The Tejano music industry, though competitive at times, is a very tight-knit group. It’s really a family and it has lovingly come together to celebrate Jimmy’s life.

DosCentavos sends condolences to the family of Jimmy Gonzalez and the Mazz organization, as well as Freddie Records.

Follow TejanoNation for the latest.

 

Lupe in the News [TXGOV)

I’ve been impressed with coverage of Dem for Texas Gov, Lupe Valdez after her historic and solid victory in May. Here are links to some of the stories that caught a national audience:

Lupe Valdez on NBC

Lupe on Ending Gun Violence (A response to Greg Abbott’s non-plan)

Lupe on AMJoy (MSNBC)

I’m glad to see stories about Lupe and for what she stands. These are the kinds of stories that Democrats should be sharing now through November.

All the other BS of possible impeachments, possible indictments, possible pardons, and other White House BS  does nothing to energize voters. Dems need to show off what they’re offering as an alternative to despots and racists. And I’m joining this effort.

 

Poll: There Is No Trump Party

A political consultant FB friend dropped this polling info from Gallup. Where did presidents stand with their own political party at Day 500 of their presidency, is basically what is asked. Some are surprised at Trump’s high GOP approval rating and others are seething that Democratic presidents’ approval is lower. My response is a scholarly, “Duh!”

Lately, I’ve been frustrated with Democratic activists. It seems they are spending more time trying to save the Republican Party than working on winning in 2018. They’ll defend Republican “moderates” as if they’re not apologists for the hate the GOP espouses. As if the Republican Party is somehow different than it was in years past. The only difference is their leader–a leader who embraces his racism through hateful rhetoric that his supporters eat up and spread. The apologists go merrily along. This political party is still one whose candidates have thrived on the worse the Republican Party offers as far as supporters go. Especially during a primary election where it’s a game of “Whose sheet is whiter?” when their TV ads go up. And they thrive on bigoted policies, such a racial profiling (SB4), and get energized with anti-immigrant executive orders from the Orange One. And the “moderates” don’t seem to mind unless they’re quitting, like Jeff Flake.

So, when I see Democrats sharing an article where old leader Boehner describes the current situation as a Trump party, rather than the Republican Party, well, I call bullshit. Especially on Democrats who waste so much time on this. Stop trying to save the Republicans! They’re the same old bigots they’ve always been. They’re the same party who use data from right-wing, white supremacist groups like Numbers USA to promote a hateful agenda. And they’re so committed to their rhetoric that they can easily poach weak independents who aren’t presented a strong alternative by the opposing party.

Anyway, we’ve got elections to win, locally, statewide, and in other states. If Dems aren’t energizing the base we’ve got with, I don’t know, progressive policies, defense of whole populations, and sincere gratitude for the existence of said populations, then we’re not getting anywhere. This poll shows us that poaching Republicans may not be such a politically savvy notion. It’s hard to think of this as just a data point.

 

On To November 2018!

I am quite pleased with the outcome of the 2018 Democratic Run-Off and I am proud to say that Texas and Harris County Democrats will have a strong, diverse ballot from top-to-bottom in November.

As someone who has not missed a primary since I first voted in 1990 for Ann Richards, I’m a pretty proud Democrat in 2018. No, not all my picks made the ballot, but the end-result of this long primary season has made me a committed straight ticket Democrat, with maybe one reservation (it’s a Stace thing). And I have not felt like this in a while! So, good job, Texas Democrats!

I will say this. Those who have doubted (some have insulted) Lupe Valdez, our candidate for Texas Governor, I think, have missed the point. Perhaps she’s not made in the usual mold of candidates we’ve had the last 3 or 4 elections, (And I think that’s a good thing!), but her victory speech showed us a glimpse of what is to come–a real conversation with voters. Especially with voters in South Texas, who oft go ignored by our statewide candidates. It takes a lot more than talking complicated policy in an interview or forum (policy which ultimately is written and passed by the Legislature) to energize voters. It takes someone who is able to speak to the needs, wants. and dreams of the entirety of Texas. It takes a message that is about all of us. And voters better be thinking about all of us. I guess I’m just glad to have a gubernatorial candidate who speaks to me and the people with whom I grew up.

The question is:  Do you want Greg Abbott, a vile, anti-woman, anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, anti-education, anti-equality zealot for another term? If not, then the answer, now, is Lupe Valdez. And she will deliver a powerful message to voters.

And that’s all I’ll say, for now.

As far as Harris County is concerned, congrats to Richard Cantu who probably had the toughest campaign of the night in a run for County School Trustee-At Large. Cantu squeaked by with a 261-vote margin against an opponent who had the support of the outgoing trustee’s machine and support-base. In this town, that’s hard to accomplish. In a down-ballot race, it’ll take that kind of fight to win in November.

Trautman (County Clerk), Burgess (District Clerk), and Osborne (Treasurer) won their races handily. Unfortunately, Harris County showed overwhelming support for Lupe Valdez’s opponent. Maybe it’s the Dallas-Houston thing. (Yes, that was snark.)

So, on my ballot, my candidates went 5 and 0. That never happens!

In other races, Rita Lucido will be the nominee for Senate District 17, defeating Fran Watson, who ran a great race. I hope Fran signs up to run for something else sooner than later. In CD7, well, let’s just say we’re all glad it’s over and that someone gets to try to knock off Culberson. Good luck to Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.

In my “other” picks, I only went 1 and 4, but it wasn’t a bad result. CD23 (the district of my birth) will have a great candidate to defeat Will Hurd, and that’s Gina Ortiz Jones. I decided Jones was a great candidate when I saw pics of her at Crystal City’s tiny Cinco de Mayo Parade (it’s not as huge as the Spinach Fest one). And she walked the parade in boots! And congrats to Sri Preston Kulkarni on a big win in CD22.

We’ve got a great ballot. Let’s get to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 22: Democratic Primary Run-Off Election – Vote!

The Run-Off is finally here. Find your polling location and sample ballot by clicking here and get yourself counted TODAY!

We really need shorter run-ups to the run-offs. I agree with an article I read that things got pretty boring, unless you’re in the thick of it–or getting paid by a campaign. I’m a happier person because I was neither. (ha ha) Anyway…democracy means people power. Don’t let others decide for you!

Here’s the Stace Slate (My Own Ballot):

Governor:  Lupe Valdez

District Clerk:  Marilyn Burgess

County Clerk:  Diane Trautman

County Treasurer:  Dylan Osbourne

County School Trustee Pos. 3 At Large:  Richard Cantu

Of course, there are other races for other voters in Harris County, and, since I’ll probably be moving from my current abode to an area that may be represented by one of these districts, I’m making my picks, just in case:

State Senate District 17:  Fran Watson

Congress, District 7:  Laura Moser 

And in other races:

Congress District 22:  Sri Preston Kulkarni

JP 7-2:  Cheryl Elliott Thornton

Congress, District 23:  Rick Treviño

2018.2: Stace Slate – Dem Run-Off

Early voting for the 2018 Democratic Primary Run-Off begins on May 14 and continues through May 18, 7AM to 7PM. You may vote at any early voting location. And you can find a location by clicking here.

Also, you may find your sample ballot by clicking here. And take an acceptable form of ID. If you didn’t vote in either primary, or, you voted in the Democratic Primary, you may participate in this one.

 

Here’s the Stace Slate (My Own Ballot):

Governor:  Lupe Valdez

District Clerk:  Marilyn Burgess

County Clerk:  Diane Trautman

County Treasurer:  Dylan Osbourne

County School Trustee Pos. 3 At Large:  Richard Cantu

Of course, there are other races for other voters in Harris County, and, since I’ll probably be moving from my current abode to an area that may be represented by one of these districts, I’m making my picks, just in case:

State Senate District 17:  Fran Watson

Congress, District 7:  Laura Moser 

And in other races:

Congress District 22:  Sri Preston Kulkarni

JP 7-2:  Cheryl Elliott Thornton

Congress, District 23:  Rick Treviño

 

Democrats Getting It All Wrong on Trump Border Army

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz

The best response to Trump’s power trip in militarizing the US-Mexico Border is:  “Don’t do it. It’s bigoted. It’s wasteful. It’s wrong. The priority must be fixing the immigration system.”

Instead, I see elected and activist Democrats embracing, “Migration is at an all time low, so, we don’t need the military on the border.”

WRONG! You’re saying that at some point we’ve needed it! And you certainly aren’t offering up solutions like fixing the system.

Perhaps they say it to defend from criticism of President Obama for militarizing the border in 2010. And Obama only did it to beat a right-wing onslaught by Congress to the punch. A race to the right on immigration during an election year. How’d that turn out?

The difference between Trump and Obama? Obama did it with a smile, while Trump does it with a scowl. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy for some of the Dems to be “moderates.” 3 million deportations, hundreds of thousands in the private prison boondoggle, but Trump is the awful one? Yeah, he is. But let’s not be hypocrites. Dems do anti-immigrant policy just as effectively as the other guys whenever there’s an election.

And Democrats don’t want to change. Talk of being “moderates” for 2018 has increased as there are some run-offs to be decided in Texas, but the only issue that seems to make Dems quiver is immigration. It’s the only issue I see where being “moderate” is OK. And treading lightly, if at all, on the issue is the playbook.

Says one activist, “We’ve got the Republicans on the ropes, now is not the time to be weak on immigration.”

Democrats are being weak on immigration by refusing to fight the Republicans.

I’ll be writing more on the upcoming run-offs and how this particular issue is being addressed, or avoided.