Tag Archives: Democrats

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

Kids and Families Are Still Locked Up, Stop Celebrating

Nothing is more annoying than seeing liberal and/or Democratic activists  and politicians portraying Trump’s madman of a signature on a document that really does nothing about the current human rights crisis as some sort of victory.

Our friends at Mijente posted six things you should know about the Trump executive order:

  1. DHS will receive more money to create new family prisons that will hold parents and children together, while the parents are being criminally prosecuted and while their deportation cases are pending.
  2. Given that criminal prosecutions and deportation cases of parents can take long periods of time, and that children are supposed to be detained along with their parents, Sessions will try to get the courts to grant him the ability to detain children indefinitely.
  3. Trump and Sessions will continue to implement their “Zero Tolerance” policy and prosecute everyone detained at the border.
  4. The Department of Defense will help provide spaces, like army bases, for these family prisons, and build new ones as needed. Other cabinet-level departments are being recruited to do the same.
  5. Sessions will be given more resources to deport families faster after they are prosecuted, and appropriate the funding if needed.
  6. The order does not speak to any families that have already been separated — and existing policies place the responsibility on parents to find their children in HHS custody and seek to reunite with them.

If if you don’t want to listen to us, then listen to Elizabeth Warren.

As political as this fight is, it’s about human beings. Yes, children are being placed in cages and in “licensed child care facilities” adorned with prison-style razor wire all around, but we’re also talking about families seeking asylum, having escaped violence and poverty in their home countries; and, which must be repeated for the allies in the back, IS NOT A CRIME! Therefore, children, moms, and dads should not be locked up while waiting for what is an administrative hearing–not a criminal court.

Trump and his ilk are experts at public relations. He’ll throw out one-liners to appease his followers and the Republican Party. Allies must learn NEVER to give-in to their rhetoric–any of it. And yesterday was just another example that made it seem like some thought this particular fight was suddenly over and that victory could be declared just to poke fun at Trump. No, the fight continues. Lives are at stake.

 

 

Beto O’Rourke Meets With Houston Latino Leaders

Continuing to make the rounds around the state of Texas, Beto O’Rourke, Democrat for US Senate,  has spent a couple of days in Houston rallying supporters and volunteers. Friday morning, one of his stops was at Irma’s Restaurant in downtown for a meet and greet breakfast with local Latino activists and community leaders.

A capacity crowd enjoyed a frank conversation with O’Rourke, who touched on issues such as post-Harvey efforts, health care and public education; however, a good portion of his presentation and the Q&A that followed concentrated on the human rights crisis at the US-Mexico border. Much of the crisis has been given steroids by the Trump administration as they separate families and warehouse children in badly managed private prisons.

Although he states that he is and has been willing to work across the aisle on sensible solutions, he states that Republican delays and obstruction to these solutions will only be ended at the ballot box when Democrats become a majority in both houses of Congress. O’Rourke stated his strong opposition to family separation, arrests and prosecution of parents requesting asylum, and child imprisonment. He also stated that he’s among those in Congress working on comprehensive solutions today, as we can’t wait for things to align before doing something.

During the Q&A, one elected leader, Goose Creek ISD Trustee Agustin Loredo, brought up the fact that much of the migration has been caused by US government and US corporations interfering with social, political, and economic standards of Mexico and Central American countries. O’Rourke agreed that there must be a better way to help these countries succeed that respects their government and economic systems, citing past US military operations which have removed democratically-elected leaders, only causing chaos and destabilization.

After taking questions, O’Rourke spent time speaking one-to-one with those attending.

I’ve always been impressed with Beto O’Rourke and remember when he defeated an entrenched–Bill Clinton-endorsed former Border Patrol chief–incumbent. So, he knows about tough political work. Above all, he’s a good listener. Honestly, I haven’t felt this good about a ticket-topper as O’Rourke doesn’t respond to issues based on polls, but on real solutions. He’s sincere and the real deal.

Asked about how he will win, he doesn’t mince words. The solution is voter registration, outreach, and GOTV–especially of those non-voting registered voters who have grown disillusioned with voting and government. While he knows his task is a tough one, he also says that it’s up to those who support him to spread the word–call by call, door by door, family member by family member.

So, let’s get to work!

 

 

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.

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.

 

Latinos on the Ballot

There was an article in the Chron recently about the record number of Latinos on the ballot of both primaries. Of course, there were multiple people running in some races, such as Congress District 29 and Commish Pct. 2. Still, at the end of the Democratic Primary, how many Latinos have been left on the island?

Well, since most Latinos in Harris County live away from areas represented by Latin@s, I’ll use my own ballot as an example. At this moment, Democrats have the potential for 12 Latinos on my ballot. Of those 12, three are in run-off races, including Lupe Valdez who is running for Texas Governor, Richard Cantu for HCDE At-Large, and Cosme Garcia for County Treasurer.

But for sure we in Harris County will see names like Suazo, Lacayo, Hidalgo and Rodriguez on the ballot. And there’s even a Fleischer (es hijo de Chilenos).

And outside of my ballot, some in Harris County will see Sylvia Garcia, Adrian Garcia, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Armando Walle, Penny Shaw, Carol Alvarado and more.

In case you’re asking about the dark side (GOP), there are eight on my ballot, including one in a run-off. Of course, being Latino doesn’t necessarily mean they support the issues that are important to Latinos, and Ted Cruz, Little Brown Bush, and the rest are not with us. Just to be clear. And we should never be afraid to say this. But anything for a “record breaking” article, I guess.

And that’s what’s important about ballot diversity. Representation goes beyond the Spanish surname. It’s about voters having a diversity of candidate stories with which they might identify to make the polls more inviting. In other words, a ballot that looks like Houston and Harris County.

But, most importantly, it’s about who’s fighting for you and your issues. Who’s standing up for public education, jobs, immigration reform, and access to health care/ And in these days of trumpism, we need all the fighters we can get.

Demsplaining The DACA Sell-Out

Obviously, some of us are upset at Democrats…again. Dems agreed to a weak promise from Mitch McConnell to re-open the government in exchange for more DACA talk in a few weeks. DREAMers are pissed, allies like myself are pissed, and even some Dem loyalists and a few elected officials. But it’s the Demsplaining by many that will probably cost Dems more votes than spineless Congressional Democrats.

There’s nothing like being pissed off and being told:

  • “We can’t put party before country.”
  • “If DREAMers keep complaining, the polls are going to go against them.”
  • Shutdowns “is how systems end up in disaster.”
  • “You can wait three weeks.”
  • “If McConnell doesn’t come through, it’s bad for Republicans.”
  • Now, I’m waiting for, “These DREAMers whining about Democrats are probably Russian agents.”

I’m sure there are other excuses out there. All of these excuses point to Democrats wanting a complaint-free campaign toward November. Party before country is all about portraying Dems as loyal to the flag and faux bipartisanship to get elected; bad polls for DREAMers is all about shutting them up; disastrous systems are about people wanting to keep the status quo; making people wait (for 17 years, not just 3 weeks) is about power; and hoping McConnell fails is all about keeping the issue alive toward November. The Russian thing will come after election day, obviously.

As far as systems are concerned, I was taught by an emeritus professor of political science, after suggesting that some of us more liberal brown folks needed to get inside the system to change it, that the problem is that it’s not our system. And damn, are we constantly reminded of this fact.

I’m at a point where I’m ready to turn in my secret decoder ring to the Dem Party HQ (after 13 primaries of involvement)–not that it’s ever worked. Again, not my system. But when I hear people whine about Hillary losing and blaming “third parties,” I’m reminded why my parents left the Democrats for La Raza Unida Party. I’m also reminded of those that sell us out just for a title.

 

DREAMer Reform Delayed? My Confidence Wanes

If Democrats weren’t able to pass any kind of relief for DREAMers in 2010 with a legislative majority, did you really expect Republicans to do anything? According to a Politico article, the groundwork has been laid for a January vote, though.

The problem? They can’t do anything until Trump adds his sadistic ideas to the plan, like the wall, more migra, and other mean-spirited things that Kelly and others at DHS may come up with under the heading, “border security.”

So, cynical me thinks this is how things will go:

  • A pretty crappy DREAM Act will be created–enforcement heavy, relief for fewer than ever. (Remember when Dems were fighting for 11 million people and willing to give them everything?)
  • Dems will say no to such an unclean DREAM Act (right?). There will be shock at how Republicans are just bad and mean. (Some of us are desensitized to it, actually, at least those of us who are undeportable.)
  • Then the Dems will have it as an issue for them to campaign on, and run away from in those hard-to-win districts, in 2018.
  • By then, the March deadline to resolve this has passed and even more young people are out of DACA status and under threat of removal. (Let’s not forget that right now 122 DREAMers per day are losing their DACA status).

I’m just guessing, of course.

I’ll leave it to the DREAMers to tell me if they want what results from the negotiation in the end. It’s a gun to their heads, but not necessarily a gun to either party’s. I say this because even the new Dems being elected during special elections are acting kind of shifty on most issues, and not just this one, as if bipartisanship even exists anymore.

Maybe the Dems should up the ante and ask for a path to something for 11,000,000 once Trump starts adding his crap to the bill. It’s a negotiation, right? Hell, put up a fight. For the whole lot of us, it’s the fight that earns a politician respect.

As I mentioned previously, Democrats love the issue for the campaign trail. It’s great at conventions and the use of the issue can be left to those officeholders and candidates who can get the most use out of it–or the least use if it may cost them re-election.

The problem with that is that, once elected, the Democrats don’t even put up a fight. And those that want to fight are scoffed at by leadership (Pelosi and Schumer) who have other priorities, such as keeping things like the DREAM Act a campaign issue. In other words, even if the Dems gain a majority in both chambers again, my confidence in them doing something on this and the entire issue is still weak.

Perhaps they worry about Republicans taking credit for the issue while they are the majority. Hell, I wouldn’t worry. All the “bipartisan” talk has been just talk for Republicans. Dems give them too much credit. And for the vast majority of them, it will always be talk. They’re bigoted. They’re hateful. And their quiet “moderates” who fail to fight back are just as guilty of allowing the hate and bigotry. So, why not fight back when we’re down?

Seven DREAMers and allies protested at Schumer’s office last week. They all ended up in jail. And most are still in jail and soon at risk of deportation. They’re willing to put their lives on the line. No one seems to care, though. I’m pretty sure Democrats will blame them for fighting back and messing with their negotiations. Ain’t it always the way?

Yes, I’m cynical.

Thoughts on Alabama

 

No, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, John Culberson, and the other Republicans probably aren’t pedophiles.

On the other hand, it can be said that Republicans in Texas really don’t like children. CHIP is dying. Medicaid surely is in their sights. Some of these bad men don’t even believe in the free lunch program. They surely don’t like to fund K-12 and higher education.  Yes, these bad men really don’t like children.

But guess what? These bad Republican men and women don’t like adults, either. They certainly don’t like the elderly. Republican tax cuts will be devastating to lower income and middle class families. They aren’t done trying to kill the Affordable Care Act. Stagnancy in funding flood relief, especially for those who have little to nothing and are living in tents during these cold days. And our safety nets, Medicare and Social Security, are headed for the cutting board if these bad men and women remain.

If any Republican says something nice about one group and then vilifies the other by voting for a law that targets that group, there is nothing good about them. I don’t consider any type of political evil-doing as “moderate.”

Everything is in place for Texas Democrats as far as the message goes. Alabama happens in Texas with good, well-funded organizing, sincere engagement of oft-ignored groups, and the strongest defense against voter suppression.

That, and good candidates that won’t sell out any of our issues.

 

 

Lina Hidalgo Will Lead the County Dem Ticket

After rumors of attempted late entries into the race for Harris County Judge, it appears that Lina Hidalgo will be the Democratic nominee for the post to take on Republican Ed Emmett.

Criminal justice and healthcare advocate Lina Hidalgo will run unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Judge. The deadline to file to run for office in 2018 closed yesterday at 6pm.

“I am honored to lead an outstanding slate of local Democratic candidates for election to county offices,” said Hidalgo. “Our campaign looks forward to working with Democrats all across Harris County and across this great state to complete the progressive sweep in Harris County and Turn Texas Blue.”

The Hidalgo campaign will stress the leading issue on the minds of the people of Harris County: flooding and infrastructure.

“The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board is right–the 2018 election in Harris County will be about flood control. The current County Judge and Republican County Commissioners have failed in their duties to keep us safe. They must be voted out of office. I am running for County Judge because we need an advocate at the head of the Commissioners Court who will lead with foresight on flood control and emergency management, health care, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, transportation and other key issues. As new Harris County leadership, we will stand up for our community as we rebuild our county and ensure it is a model for the nation: equitable, sustainable, and resilient.”

Hidalgo has emphasized since announcing a few months ago that the people of Harris County must have a seat at the table and a meaningful voice in helping to equitably rebuild our county. To do that, she believes, there must be transparency and accountability at the Commissioners Court.

“Before we go to the voters with a bond proposal, we need to account for misprioritization of bond funds in the past. In 2007 Commissioners Court did not include funding for flood control in the county bond election. In the 2015 county bond election, after Allison and Ike, flood control was nowhere near the number one priority.”

Learn more about the Hidalgo campaign at www.LinaHidalgo.com

Of course, because we do live in a democracy, there will be contested races from the top to the bottom of the ballot. I’ve already mentioned three countywide races and my favorites candidates in those races. Stay tuned for more about the rest of the Democratic contests.