TPA Blog Round Up (January 27, 2014)

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to delete the phrase “polar vortex” from its vocabulary as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff presents interviews with Reps. Alma Allen and Carol Alvarado, as well as with challenger Azuwuike Okorafor.

Horwitz at Texpatriate discusses the least crazy Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate, Jerry Patterson.

Eye On Williamson on the race for Congress in TX-31. Tea party Congressman John Carter has some serious competition in 2014, Get To Know Louie Minor – Democrat For Congress in District 31.

It’s a new year for everyone and everything, including the Affordable Care Act. Despite endless, Republicans were unable to stop its arrival in Texas. Though as Texas Leftist found out, they were able to weaken the law, and endanger Texas hospitals in the process.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs summarizes a blistering week in Texas politics.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says watch out for the energized young, Democratic voters emerging in the Valley.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about how the government in Ukraine has used people’s cell phones to track down and send messages to individuals taking part in anti-government protests. Neil says folks are mistaken if they think our own government won’t do the same to intimidate people taking part in lawful protests in the U.S. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Juanita offers some advice to Dan Patrick and Jared Woodfill.

Texas Vox reports on the opening of the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Lunch Tray continues its advocacy against chicken that has been processed in China being served in school lunchrooms.

Grits rounds up some coverage of Court of Criminal Appeals races.

The Texas Green Report checks in on the earthquakes in Azle and Reno.

Mean Green Cougar Red attended a presentation on the proposed high speed rail line between Houston and Dallas.

Nonsequiteuse thinks Greg Abbott is applying for the wrong job.

Progress Texas and Unfair Park gather some of the more colorful reactions to recent stories about Wendy Davis.

Finally, Ileen Haddad tells you everything you need to know about surviving the winter in Austin.

Lies & The Lying Liars That Tell Them

The only thing worse then the media created “scandal” that Wayne Slater started this week is the fact that anyone, much less people who consider themselves journalists, would take a convicted criminal and serial liar‘s obviously edited video seriously.  And it’s sad that Wendy Davis has had to respond to the after the insults and death threats she’s been getting.

Slater’s old buddy James Moore debunked his whole original argument earlier in the week, Wendy Davis and the Amazing Media Mobile Home Mystery.

There is nothing untrue in the Wendy Davis narrative. But there is something unfair. Consider that she got loans and assistance and got into Harvard Law. Her husband helped. He knew her potential. He said as much in Slater’s article. He introduced her to people. Wendy took her children with her to Boston but, undoubtedly, discovered it is hard to do Harvard Law and raise kids. They went home to their dad. She commuted as often as affordable to be with them. She got a by-god Harvard Law degree.

Quite a tale, eh? Reframe it around a man. And here’s the interpretation: Can you believe the sacrifices he made for his family, to get his degree, and lift them out of their situation? Lived in a mobile home a few months, lived with his mother, lived in a small, cheap apartment, went into debt, paid off his loans, endured long weekends to make sure he was involved in the raising of his children while reading the law, and managed to eventually become a Texas State Senator and run for governor. The marriage didn’t survive but the couple separated amicably and continued to raise their children together and still have mutual respect. Who is this great man?

He’s a woman. Name of Wendy Davis. Democrat of Fort Worth.

[…]

The Davis Campaign should have come up with something considerably better for a response than having an articulate candidate say she needed to use “tighter language” because it suggests there is a marketing team at work and not a basic truth: A single mother endured difficulty to raise her family and succeed. That’s it. It’s a hell of a story.

As far as the video goes, I was hopeful that the Shirley Sherrod fiasco had taught the media a lesson about these highly edited “scandal” videos. But that’s not the case.  The draw of these videos, which contrive scandal, is just to strong for the media, it’s like crack for them and they just can’t put give it up.

PDiddie, has a great post on this, A furiously busy week to be a political pundit.

*Of course the title of this post is a nod to Al Franken’s 2003 book*

Get To Know Louie Minor – Democrat For Congress in District 31

The more I see and hear about Louie Minor the more I like his candidacy. Here’s a recent article on his candidacy from the Killeen Daily Herald, Belton native hopes to unseat incumbent representative.

A fresh face is hitting the Central Texas campaign circuit this year.

Louie Minor, a Belton native and Iraq War veteran, is hoping to unseat six-time elected Rep. John Carter in District 31 to represent the people of Central Texas. The district encompasses much of Bell and Williamson counties with a large population of veterans who should be represented by a veteran, Minor said.

The 34-year-old spent a total of 10 years in the armed forces, first in the Texas Army National Guard, then switching to the Army Reserve when he moved to Washington, D.C., in 2012 to work for the Department of Homeland Security.

During that time, Minor spent 14 months in Iraq and spent another two years as an executive officer for the Warrior Transition Unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Now a captain in the Reserve, Minor said living in D.C. during the political gridlock of the past year made him want to get involved in politics.

“(Gridlock) affects everything,” he said. “It affects every aspect of our way of life because they’re unwilling to work. To keep electing the same people to do the same thing is not going to make it stop.”

Then a friend in elected office advised Minor to go for it while he was young.

So he quit his job in July and moved back to Belton, where his 15-year-old daughter is attending Belton High School.

“I wanted to improve lives here in my hometown,” Minor said. “I think this area deserves a veteran representing it. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t relate.”

[…]

When it comes to political parties, Minor said he isn’t so much concerned about being a democrat in Texas, but the lack of voter turnout.

“I’m going to work very hard to turn out the vote,” Minor said. “Texas is not a red state like some people would like to tell you. Texas is a nonvoting state. If all the minorities turned out to vote — they tend to vote democrat — that would turn Texas purple at the least. I think people are going to be surprised at what we’re able to do here at the district.”

Voter contact is at the top of Minor’s list to reach out to people, something he personally feels he hasn’t seen from Carter.

“I have concerns and I know a lot of constituents have concerns on the representation we’re getting by electing him,” Minor said. “I think the people of the district deserve a debate. He’s never debated. He may think he doesn’t have to but he has to answer a lot of questions to the military, to retirees, to veterans on how he’s been voting. … I know I will hold him accountable and I hope the voters hold him accountable as well.” [Emphasis added]

Carter’s office declined to comment on the possibility of a debate.

The Bell County Democrats support Minor, said Marianne Miller, county chair of the organization, citing his record of public service.

“(This year) is the year where people across Texas and the U.S. are looking for a change and want leaders with records of dedicated public service,” she said. “Mr. Minor fits that bill and will be a voice for everyone regardless of who they are or political affiliation.”

It’s not surprising Carter doesn’t want to debate. All entrenched incumbents like Carter see no advantage, only a potential disaster for their candidacy, by actually participating in the democratic process. That’s a conversation for later, if a debate was to happen it would likely occur in the fall.

Minor is a great candidate and the first LGBT candidate to run for District 31.  Here’s an interview he had with the Dallas Voice in December, Shaking it up: Texas politics gay style.

Louie Minor has a lot of titles: veteran, father, Democratic candidate, and he hopes to add Texas’ first openly gay congressman to the list next fall.

Minor, 34, is challenging Republican incumbent John Carter in the Republican-leaning Congressional District 31. The suburban Austin district includes all of Williamson County and most of Bell County, from a portion of north Austin to Temple. It also includes Fort Hood.

Carter, first elected in 2002, has received a zero each session on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, which rates members of Congress on their support for LGBT issues.

A native of CD 31, Minor grew up in Belton. He’s a veteran and a captain in the Army Reserves, and has spent a decade in the military, even serving 14 months with the Texas National Guard in 2008–09.

[…]

Minor is the first openly gay candidate to run for a Texas congressional seat in 15 years. James Partsch-Galvan ran as a Libertarian in 1998 against Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee in Houston’s District 18.

Before that, Barbara Jordan held that district seat from 1973–79. While she never acknowledged her sexual orientation publicly, the Houston Chronicle mentioned her longtime partner in her obit in 1996.

If elected, Minor would be the first openly gay Congressman from Texas, as well as the first openly gay member of Congress who is a veteran and who’s Latino. On Dec. 3, Minor wrote on his Twitter account: “It’s official. We’re on the ballot.”

Read the whole interview here. He’s also dinged Carter for co-sponsoring what’s being called DOMA 2.0 (H.R. 3829).

“I was disappointed that they filed it, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Minor told Dallas Voice this week. “For over a decade, John Carter has continually voted against the LGBT community, and he’s received a zero on the HRC scorecard. So now I think it’s time for us to elect a congressman that will represent LGBT Texans and be our voice in Washington.”

Minor will certainly make protecting the basic civil and human rights of all people a focal point of his candidacy. But he’s also made clear that this race is about many issues, and finally having a someone that represents the whole district, and not just a thin slice on the far right of the GOP.

Game On

Elections are too often about issues that matter little to most people.  I will certainly vote for Wendy Davis over Greg Abbott, if those are the choices, in November. That will be because of a perception that Davis will be less likely to favor big business and corporations over the people of Texas, unlike Abbott.

The BS that started this weekend has little significance to the millions of Texans that are struggling to make it day-to-day.  It won’t raise the minimum wage, provide health care, an education,  or increase anyone’s pursuit of happiness.  It’s the Rovian tactic of attacking your opponents perceived greatest strength.  In other words Davis’ “up by her bootstraps” story really scares the Abbott campaign and the Texas GOP. So they’re going to try and swift boat her.

The more they muddy up Davis’ strength the more likely it is, they believe, that those initially inspired by her will become cynical and loose their enthusiasm to work and vote for her.  This story will do nothing to sway the hard partisans.  It’s an attempt to try and keep the electorate the way it has been for the last 20 years, small and right wing.

This election comes down to one thing.  If the electorate expands significantly Wendy Davis and the Democrats will have a great 2014.  If it doesn’t, we’ll have more of the same.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has more including plenty of link.

Not to mention this is taking away from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s ignorant and out of touch comment, “At the end of the day, we’re paying our school teachers – when you count in cost of living – a very fair salary.”

TPA Blog Round Up (january 14, 2014)

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks that if same sex marriage is OK for Utah and Oklahoma it’s OK for our state too as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff interviews Kim Ogg, candidate for Harris County District Attorney, and Steve Brown, candidate for Texas Railroad Commission.

Eye On Williamson on priorities. Keeping immigrants in the shadows, because it’s not good politics for the GOP in an election year, shows exactly what the GOP’s priorities are. John Carter & The GOP’s Misplaced Priorities.

Horwitz at Texpatriate reports on the controversy that has recently erupted in the US Senate Democratic primary between David Alameel and Maxey Scherr.

The civil war in the Harris County Republican Party threatens to disrupt the candidacy of Dan Patrick for lieutenant governor, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has a snapshot of the battlefield.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that those Charter Schools are using your money to push the propaganda to your children..

Harold Cook patiently debunks Republican claims about Wendy Davis’ fundraising totals.

After reading a story about how China is paying for new shipping ports for Sri Lanka, Neil at All People Have Value wrote that when somebody else builds your port you lose control of what ships arrive and what goods are received. It is better that we construct our own ports of friendship and imagination. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Better Texas Blog celebrates the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s War on Poverty and reminds us that there is still much to be done about it.

Scott Braddock reports on a targeted worker misclassification crackdown going on in Texas.

The Texas Green Report wonders if the earthquakes in Azle will lead to a change in thinking, and in regulation, on fracking.

Juanita notes that Texas is now exporting campaign finance law violators to other states.

The Republic of Austin shares an Austin-based ad campaign that is trying to convince people not to move to Austin.

The Heights Life has some good news about one school that’s bucking the trend on library downsizing.

Texas Vox wants you to write a letter about Keystone XL.

Finally, the TPA warmly congratulates Eileen Smith of In The Pink Texas for the beautiful new addition to her family.

What’s Good For The Middle Class Is Good For America

This article, Here Comes the Anti-Government Left, gets to the heart of what makes Elizabeth Warren so popular, and feared – by the elites in both parties – at the same time.  Warren is taking aim at the soft underbelly that supports both parties – corporations, Wall Street, and the banks.  While also being the sole advocate for a group neither party wants to overtly offend – the middle class.

Warren spends much less time fulminating against the rich per se. Though she has an interest in inequality, she talks far more about the middle-class than the poor. Her signal preoccupation is the way financial institutions have amassed enormous economic and political advantages at the expense of everyone else. She has co-sponsored a bill that would break up the megabanks. She has labored to expose why it is that federal regulators never take big banks to court. She decries the way reform battles in Congress pit a few dozen activists against thousands of industry lobbyists, an asymmetry that virtually guarantees victory for the status quo.

[…]

But the substance of Warren’s agenda is far more radical. She wants to upend a fundamentally corrupt system, one in which big banks and other interests have co-opted the apparatus of government.

Co-opted government, means that we’ve morphed into an oligarchy and our democracy is no longer.

Warren questions the very legitimacy of their wealth and power. “I’ve been in the Senate for nearly a year and believe as strongly as ever that the system is rigged,” she said in a recent speech.

We don’t have a free market, we have a rigged market. Rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful. And in order for the middle class to get back to prominence and power, and for our government to again resemble something similar to democracy, those in power now must lose some of their power. And that’s why Warren is more favored and feared.

Warren-style populism, on the other hand, goes right to the source of the cynicism. In the same way that Middle America believed government was mostly benefiting the undeserving poor in the 1980s and early 90s, today they believe it mostly benefits undeserving rich and powerful. And, just as Democrats had to dispel the former belief before they could advance the rest of their agenda, today they must dispel the latter. Warren’s approach does that.

Warren is all about putting those responsible for our rigged system on the spot.

Here’s what she had to say about the GOP killing unemployment insurance, This is just wrong.

Millions of families are hanging on by their fingernails to their place in the middle class – and the United States Senate just voted to let them fall.

I’m ashamed that the Senate didn’t extend unemployment benefits yesterday. I’m sickened that my colleagues went home last night knowing that they just cut off a little help for millions of people who have worked hard and who can’t find a job.

And I’m appalled that so many Senators cannot admit the simple reality: we are still in the middle of a jobs crisis. People have been looking for work for months or even years. Many are starting to give up entirely. Young people are beginning to think that there isn’t a future out there for them. Long-term unemployment isn’t just about money; it’s also about losing hope.

These people – our friends, our families, our neighbors – they weren’t the ones who broke our economy. So many people worked hard, played by the rules, and did everything we told them to – and now struggle to find work. They need our help.

We help because we care about people, but we also help because it is good for the economy. The numbers show money put into unemployment goes right back into the economy to help stimulate more demand and more business activity. According to a new Congressional report, in just one week after unemployment benefits expired, our state economies lost $400 million. Extending unemployment makes good business sense.

There’s so much we should be doing to strengthen our economy and rebuild our middle class, and yesterday we took a step backwards. Washington needs to get back to work solving problems – not making them worse – so families can get back to work.

I really don’t get why the Republicans would stand in the way on this issue. I don’t get it, but I’m taking stock – and like many of my colleagues who voted to help people yesterday, I’m not giving up

Congress didn’t haggle over “pay-fors” when the big banks needed a bail out. American working families deserve, at the least, the same respect the banks got.  What’s good for the middle class is good for America, is the new slogan.

Further Reading:
Meet the people who are so rich they`ve already paid their 2014 Social Security tax (more here).

Wendy Davis Has Money & More

As far as the money race goes Wendy Davis’ campaign has done what it needed to do.  Post a number that shows her campaign can be competitive.  And raising $12.2 million over the last half of 2013 does that.  What’s a more impressive number is this one, via the Texas Tribune.

Besides unveiling the combined $12.2 million haul, Team Davis also said that the Fort Worth senator had collected donations from 71,000 contributors from Texas and around the United States.

While Davis is going to need tens of millions of dollars to beat Abbott, what she needs more is an army of donors, volunteers, and activists to win this race. Which is why the 71,000 number is so important.

Kuff has more, Davis outraises Abbott.

The truly impressive stat to me is the one about Team Wendy getting a contribution from all 254 counties in Texas. That would include King County, in which President Obama received five – yes, I said “five” – votes in 2012, and Loving County, in which he received nine. Eighty-five percent of the donations were for $50 or less. And yes, that is some fine whining from the Abbott campaign. He has more cash overall, of course, since he’s had years to hoard many millions, but the game is officially on.

[…]

Yes, I know, money is not determinative. But let’s be honest, it’s expensive to run a statewide campaign in Texas. You can’t raise the kind of money you’re going to need to run that campaign if people don’t believe in you. This is a great first step, but it’s a long way from over. Davis will need to repeat this kind of performance for July and for the 30 day, and again she’s going to need her ballotmates to do well, too. We all have our work cut out for us.

Here’s the text the Davis campaign’s press release, (Via BOR, Wendy Davis Raises Unprecedented Amount Of Money; Beats Greg Abbott Across All Committees).

Davis Reports Record Strength in Campaign for Texas Governor

More Than $12.2 Million Raised, Showing Unprecedented Support for Candidacy

FORT WORTH, TX – Senator Wendy Davis reported that she has raised over $12.2 million in her bid for Governor of Texas, the result of contributions from 71,843 individual contributors. Davis’ first fundraising report since announcing her campaign on October 3, 2013 includes contributions made to Wendy R. Davis for Governor, Inc., Wendy R. Davis Candidate/Officeholder, and the Texas Victory Committee, Inc. between July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.

84,704 contributions of $50 or less accounted for 85% of all donations made during this period. Davis’ fundraising numbers exceeded expectations and demonstrate the overwhelming support for her candidacy and campaign to be Texas’ next Governor. Texans from all 254 counties in the Lone Star State contributed to her campaign, further proof that Texans across the state believe she can win.

Total Contributions:
Wendy R. Davis for Governor, Inc.: $4,172,778
Wendy R. Davis Candidate/Officeholder: $4,555,228
Texas Victory Committee, Inc.: $3,501,513

Additionally, Battleground Texas is expected to report contributions totaling $1.8 million in this reporting period. Since Davis announced her candidacy in October, Battleground Texas has been working closely with the Wendy Davis campaign to register and engage voters across Texas. Battleground Texas began operating in early 2013 and strongly supported Senator Davis’ entry into the Governor’s race.

The Texas Victory Committee is a joint effort between the Wendy R. Davis for Governor campaign and Battleground Texas created to support electing Wendy Davis as Texas’ next governor, particularly Senator Davis’ specific commitment to running an historic grassroots campaign across Texas.

[UPDATE]
Harold Cook has more, Wendy Davis’ loot.

But the real news is on Wendy Davis’ side: Not only did she slightly out-fundraise Abbott during the reporting period ($12.2 million for Davis vs. $11.5 for Abbott), but she raised it from almost 72,000 individual donors. That donor number is at a level I cannot even comprehend, and is very good news for the Davis effort. She’ll be able to return time after time to those small dollar donors and they’ll keep giving – which is something one cannot often say about the mega-donors.

He also debunks the GOP’s attempts to discredit the Davis campaigns fundraising numbers. Obviously these numbers have scared the GOP, as this tweet shows.