I have noticed some changes, lately. In my neighborhood it seems few of us have either the time or desire to do yard work. It is hired out. Not really that unusual, many people all over the country do the same. What is different are the people that do the work. Over a year of fear and hate mongering in this country has shown that even those willingly to do our labor cheaply can be replaced. Once rightly proud Mexican-Americans now bow their head, or at least their eyes as they pass by. I feel ashamed.
I grew-up in San Antonio, Texas. I never really thought of it as a unique American city, more a unique Mexican-American city. I thought, as younger person that the people were kind to allow us to share in their culture and life style. Even San Antonio seems to have lost much of that charm, just another dirty sprawling American city, eager to ignore and trample the less fortunate.
It seems tragic how stupid Americans have become since 9/11. Like December 7, 1941, the day will live in infamy. Do we have to as well? FDR told the people of America “all we have to fear is fear is itself” Bush told us to be afraid - very afraid. So we believe that, the way forward is with fear and hatred? I strongly disagree. The way forward is to understand the truth of what happened. We must remember to understand that the people that brought horror to our door are not all of the people of the Middle East. Just a group of malcontents that have been given more of a potence than they deserve. Fear always brings forth the worst of us. With fear come ignorance and hatred. Can anyone think clearly when filled with hate?
Before there was a USA, Mexicans traveled freely across the borderland areas. I can’t help but wonder, if Mexicans were Anglos, would we still be making all this fuss? Funny how that xenophobia crops up, just when we tell ourselves how balanced and accepting our society is, we find new demons. But really the Mexicans, haven’t we enjoyed their help for many years now, working in the fields at horrible wages, cleaning our homes, doing yard work and many other jobs Americans don’t really want to do; yet have to be done.
The question of border safety is a legitimate one. So why are we ignoring the very real threats? Our ports have been the sites for imports of questionable products and illegal goods for some time now. Since 9/11 I doubt that I could count the number of times I have read or seen reports on the quagmire of the lack of security around out ports.
Then there is our infrastructure, places that need a functional security, has that changed since 9/11, not at all. This nation has existed with open borders for all of its history, now it seems that must change. If that is a mandate by the American people, then let us demand that from our government. We don’t need scapegoats and objects of fear to muster some will. We are Americans, let us begin to act like it. This nation is now wanting to call itself a Christian nation, doesn’t that above all else mean compassion?
Thankfully for the wingnuts their two paragons of heterosexual commitment, Larry Craig and David Vitter, have stepped up to co-sponsor the Marriage Protection Act in the Senate. Please send your letters of support to:
Minneapolis Intl' Airport Gate 9B, Men's Restroom Wide Stance "I'm not Gay" Stall Attn: Larry Craig
Washington Hilton DC Madam Suite "Family Man" Bedroom Attn: David Vitter
Today in Dallas, Democratic U.S. Congressional candidates Tom Daley (CD-3), Glenn Melancon (CD-4), Tom Love (CD-24), Ken Leach (CD-26), and Eric Roberson (CD-32) will hold a press conference to tell their GOP opponents "Stop the Bull, Tell the Truth about Oil".
As you may recall, 4 local GOP Members of Congress recently held a press conference in a closed Tom Thumb grocery store, safely out of reach of real voters. The incumbents pressed for more of the same old policy of "drill, drill, drill" without regard to the economics or environmental consequences.
The Democrats will present their 4 point plan to solving the Oil Mess:
1. Shut down loopholes in commodities markets by restoring historic rules.
2. Return strength to the American dollar by moving towards a balanced budget.
3. Enact legislation to increase the supply of American oil by enacting "Use it or lose it" legislation for leases on public lands
4. Work on lowering demand for oil by using market incentives for development of alternative sources of vehicle power.
Unlike our Republican legislators who were afraid to face their constituents in an unscripted environment, these Democratic candidates will be talking to gas customers, pumping gas, and checking tire pressure for people.
How about that - even before they get elected, they will have done more for North Texans at the pump than our incumbents from the Grand Oil Party.
We'll try to have more on the event, and post some video if we can get it.
On Friday, TexBlog PAC endorsed Sherrie Matula (D-Houston), who is running against State Rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake). The endorsement came with a $5,000 check to Matula's campaign made up of donations made mostly by Netroots activists and blog readers.
Matula's race represents one of those races that a lot of folks in the "bricks and mortar political establishment" may have underestimated in the early part of this year. However, this district is ripe for a flip. Matula laid the groundwork for this year's campaign with a respectable general election showing in 2006 and her "Apple Corps" team of volunteers and on-the-ground activists has worked very hard this year to register new voters, identify Democratic voters in the district, and conducting GOTV.
This race, however, is one where the Netroots have consistently seen the potential for defeating incumbent John Davis (a legislator who Texas Monthly appropriately deemed "furniture") and the value in Matula's traditional and online campaign operations.
Sherrie Matula is a longtime public school educator and science education consultant who served two terms on the Board of Trustees of Clear Creek Independent School District. She's served on the board of the Texas State Teachers Association, and has a very impressive resume. She will bring to the Texas House of Representatives a wide array of knowledge and experience, especially on education issues.
Too, Matula is running against arguably one of the most pathetic, ineffective, corrupt, pieces of GOP furniture to hold a seat in the Texas Legislature. State Rep. John Davis is a prime target for progressives this cycle, and the Netroots has long had its eye on him. Why? Here is a small sampling:
Against Schools, Children & Education. John Davis has cast a lot of votes against schools, children, and Education. For starters, he voted for tuition deregulation and then had the audacity to say that 44% increases in college tuition costs are "not unreasonable". As a result of Davis' vote (combined with the votes of many other Republicans), it has become very difficult for middle class families to afford to send their kids to college because tuition costs are skyrocketing. Davis voted to slash funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, and help create the "permanent wall" that kept kids off CHIP. Of course, after Sherrie Matula held Davis accountable for this vote in 2006, he quickly changed his tune and became "for" CHIP after he was "against" CHIP. Of course, by then it was too late and thousands of Texas children had suffered as a result of his vote. Davis has also voted time and time again against everything from teachers, teacher retirement, childhood immunization programs, and anti-discrimination measures to help school children. John Davis even put the interests of one of his big financial supporters, Houston Home builder Bob Perry, above middle class students who want a college education when it came time to cast votes on the Appropriations Bill on the House floor!
Anti-Environment. For a State Representative that actually has to breathe the air in Houston, Davis is solidly against clean air. He's time and again voted against improving the air quality in his own district. Here is some of what Davis actually has to say about this topic:
“It’s much cleaner than it was 20-30 years ago. I believe we are on the right track. I don’t want to choke off industry.
You can also watch a YouTube of Davis actually making that statement here.
Pay To Play. Even in the pay-to-play culture of the Texas House's Republican Caucus, Davis stands out as among the worst offenders in terms of taking money from corporate PACs and lobbyists and then giving them the keys to the legislative candy store. Davis has taken money from Center Point Energy, Reliant Energy, and TXU--all the while never casting a vote to give Texans meaningful relief from out-of-control utility bills.
He took money from a lobbyist for Accenture, and then voted for legislation that allowed Accenture to take over and operate health and human services call centers. It led to the worst social services disaster in Texas history.
Who else has Davis taken money from? Dow Chemical, Blue Cross Blue Shield, AT&T, Cigna, Aetna, Chevron, Marathon, and Merck--just to name a few.
Davis has even taken money from H.B. Zachry construction's PAC--and voted for bills that promoted the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Gee, that's nice. I'm so glad that the Bush administration chooses this clean technology to decide to try out environmentalism. And they accuse the left of using it as an obstructionist tactic.
Take a look at how environmentally damaging that oil can be. You have to have a huge plot of land with pits full of toxic water and mud. You drill a hole a mile or two into the ground and bring up radioactive materials and toxic byproducts. Then you have to have a pipeline. You have to bury these things, and they sometimes leak. You have to have truck traffic to haul saltwater, which has to then be injected back into the earth.
If anything should require careful study, it's an oil drilling project.
But here, we have a relatively inert technology. You have solar panels or you have mirrors and a boiler. And then you have to string power lines. That's the biggest part.
Look, I'm all for studying environmental impact. And I don't believe that corporations are "entitled" to use public lands. But in light of the fact that Michael Chertoff suspended dozens of federal laws, including environmental laws to build that damned fence, this just doesn't smell right.
At the very least, the government needs to expedite the studies.
This joint resolution is an instruction to the President to turn up the heat on Iran to discontinue uranium enrichment, and is co-sponsored in the Senate by John Cornyn (R-TX) and 18 others. In the House, it is co-sponsored by 146 members, including Michael Burgess (R-TX), Michael Conaway (R-TX), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Louis Gohmert (R-TX, Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), Kay Granger (R-TX), Al Green (D-TX), Nick Lampson (D-TX), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ted Poe (R-TX), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).
Several things disturb me about the resolution. The first is that in the "whereas" section, quite a few of the reasons seem to be straight from the Fox News pundits talking points. Basically there are a lot of unchallenged assumptions - some of which may be true, or may not be. We know there's no love between Iran and Israel. We know that Iran has had a nuclear power program for 20 years and that they now claim to want to control their own fuel cycle, and want to enrich uranium. We don't know that they want nuclear weapons - in fact the NIE from 2007 said they stopped their weapons program.
That said, I do believe we should prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. But I have been trained by repeated lies from the Bush administration not to believe what we're told is "evidence" against the "evildoers".
To me, the action authorized here (in bold) is an act of war:
(1) declares that preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means, is a matter of the highest importance to the national security of the United States and must be dealt with urgently;
(2) urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use the President's existing authority to impose sanctions on--
(A) the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian bank engaged in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups;
(B) international banks that continue to conduct financial transactions with sanctioned Iranian banks;
(C) energy companies that have invested $20,000,000 or more in the petroleum or national gas sector of the economy of Iran in any given year since the date of the enactment of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172; 50 U.S.C. 1701 note); and
(D) companies that continue to do business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran;
(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; [This portion only in House version:] imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program; and
(House version:) (4) urges the President to lead a sustained, serious, and forceful effort at regional diplomacy to support the legitimate governments in the region against Iranian efforts to destabilize them, to reassure our friends and allies that the United States supports them in their resistance to Iranian efforts at hegemony, and to make clear to the Government of Iran that the United States will protect America's vital national security interests in the Middle East.
(Senate version:) 4) asserts that nothing in this resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran.
So, at the very least here, we're talking about a refined petroleum products embargo on Iran. In the House version, the ban is enforced with a naval blockade. It is extreme leverage, and I suppose I would rather see a blockade than bombs.
I'll post more as I research this and read more, but I just wanted to give you my first impressions and mostly see what you think.
Readers, what do you think about this? Will this provoke the Iranians into war? Will this set the stage for a false flag operation that leads to yet another full-on war? If there is another war, what would be the end-game? How would we pay for it? Where would we get the troops?
Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that the second amendment provides an individual right to keep and bear arms. The District of Columbia's overly strict laws against handgun possession have been struck down.
I'm glad to hear it. I know it's not the most "liberal" position, but it squares with my belief in the checks and balances of our republic - an important one being the right to keep and bear arms as a check against government power. What better place than in our nation's seat of government?
Chief Justice Scalia did take care to point out in the majority opinion:
"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited," Scalia wrote. "It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
Now if only our government would respect the remainder of our constitution, and Congress would do it's damned job, we'd be in business.
According to The Hill Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX 26), temporarily unable to swat that angel away from his ear, crossed ranks and voted with the Democrats yesterday on a bill that will cancel the planned 10.6% reduction in Medicare payments and instead give physicians a 1.1% raise next year. This is a decisive win for seniors who find their choices for doctors shrinking each year as more and more doctors opt out due to low reimbursement rates.
The bill would also lower some funding to the Medicare Advantage program which House Democrats consider to be an expensive subsidy to private insurance corporations.
That Burgess would have voted for this is no surprise to those who pay attention. As a doctor, he was on the short end of this disastrous Republican policy of cutting Medicare payments each year instead of even keeping pace with inflation. If only Burgess could spend a day in the shoes of the many others being hurt every day by Republican policies...
The House passed this bill 355-59, a veto-proof majority. It now goes to the Senate where it will have to get 67 votes for a veto-proof margin.
What I thought was more interesting is this quote from the article:
Shortly before the vote began, Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) predicted that Democrats had little chance of winning over many Republicans. “We were not part of the process,” he said, adding, “There’s a 95 to 100 percent chance we’re going to be ‘nos’ regardless of the substance of the bill.”
Really Joe? You mean to tell me that if you're not consulted on a particular bill, you're just going to take your toys and go home? That's really mature. You're prepared to use your vote to make a petty statement, "regardless of the substance of the bill.".
The cost of this increase is expected to be about $20 Billion over 5 years, so the next step is to figure out how to pay for it. My idea: Undo the $14 Billion in subsidies to Big Oil, and cut the Iraq occupation short by a week or two. Done. Next topic?
------------------- I still support Ken Leach this November in his race against Burgess. When Leach is elected, I won't have to look so hard to find positive things that my representative has done for his people.