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.
America land of the free, home of the brave. And now a new line must be added. Home of the hungry, as at least thirty-eight million Americans will go to bed hungry tonight. How can this be true in the “greatest” country on the planet? Can it be that 38 million people are just lazy and don’t want to eat? These are families, men. women and children, they may be your neighbors. These are not people with darkened eyes peering up at us from a drunken stupor. These are people that are struggling to make the choices between buying gas for work or not eating. They try to balance, how to pay the mortgage payment, car payment buy school clothes, and lest we forget–pay for a doctor. What of the basic human rights, how can we as fellow Americans allow this to happen? Hunger in our country is not a new situation. It is getting worse, much worse.
I wonder if a walk down history lane will help us. The French revolution, how did so many peasants get angry enough to support armed revolt against the King. Could it be years of blatant disregard of their basic human rights, excessive taxation, no return to the people from the taxes? Of course the revolt of the Russians is only in our rearview mirror. Years of torturous attempts at reorganizing a government would follow that. Sure, these are both quick sketches, of greater problems but the underlying problems of hunger cannot be over looked.
In this country no one believes that for them or their children it is all right to be hungry. This is about survival. I wonder how these Americans feel as we pack up the next shipment of food to send off overseas. Food banks all over are empty, or nearly so. What is the answer? I think the answers maybe at the community level. We have become so isolated that we don’t know our neighbors, don’t know their struggles. This is very un-American, we are the people that care. We want to help, or do we? How can we hear these stories on the news and do nothing? Many of you are a part of the coming elections, as part of that outreach group take some time to discover your neighborhoods. Find out what you can do. Just a handful of people trying to help may save a family from collapse, a child from going to bed hungry. Hungry children can’t work well at school. Hungry men and women can’t perform well at a job either. Ignore the suffering of others at your own peril.
I have to wonder why this is rarely the subject of discussion in the this presidential race. I guess John Edwards learned how important this issue is for most of us. Poverty and hunger are just not as interesting as who will use taxpayer money for the campaign. If we don’t get the essentials right, food for the hungry, housing for those who have none, how then can we begin to build on that crumbling foundation. Our country is in a recession, gas prices are nearly beyond comprehension, food prices are just behind gas prices, the true number of unemployed is lost in bureaucratic red-tape. Too many towns and farms have flooded, bridges and highways have collapsed, we need to focus on new infrastructure, that too takes time and money. While we begin to repair our country, and we must, let us not forget those in dire straights.
If you have been following the videos we released on Monday and Tuesday, no doubt your appetite has been sufficiently whetted and you are eager to know just exactly who the most endangered Republican in the Texas House that you don't know actually is. Wait no longer, as the answer is below:
What makes John Davis the most endangered Republican in the Texas House? It's a good question, and we've got the answer.
John Davis is out of touch with his district. HD 129 is a district that includes El Lago, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Shoreacres, Taylor Lake Village, and Webster and parts of Friendswood, Houston, La Porte, League City, Pasadena, and Pearland--all in Harris County.
A common misconception is that HD 129 is a "silk stocking" House District full of wealthy folks. That's not true, however. While a majority of families do have an annual income of over $50,000 according to the 2000 Census (the most recent numbers broken out by House District), the population of HD 129 is more "middle class" than anything.
Davis' voting record, however, is pretty shoddy when it comes to the needs of middle class families.
Davis voted for tuition deregulation. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that middle class families have been impacted significantly by the Legislature's decision in 2003 to deregulate college tuition. It has become very difficult for middle class families to afford to send their kids to college because tuition costs are skyrocketing. Clearly, tuition deregulation is not a middle class value that the people of House District 129 support. Davis has even put the interests of one of his big 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!
He's for dirty air. Once again, it doesn't take a genius to tell you that the air quality in Harris county is somewhat lacking. Heck, even the American Journal of Epidemiology has taken note of the fact that lung cancer mortality in Harris County is high--and that isn't because more people in Harris County enjoy the occasional Marlboro or Kool, either. Yet John Davis--time and time again--has 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.
Davis also voted for raising taxes on small businesses. Even though Republicans are typically pro-business, Davis is surely no friend of small business. Even others in his own party call the tax John Davis supported an "abject failure." Taxing small businesses out of business isn't exactly a middle class value, either.
And, there is plenty more where that came from: Davis voted to disenfranchise minorities and the elderly (Voter ID), to waste taxpayer dollars on state-funded lobbyists (more than once), and even allowing the state to seize homes of Medicaid patients (HB 2922).
Does Davis share his district's values? We think not.
Davis' failure to reflect the values of his district alone, however, doesn't make him endangered. It is, rather, a variety of factors.
One of the key factors that makes Davis terribly endangered is the quality of his opponent, Democrat Sherrie Matula, and the campaign she is running down in HD 129.
Sunday afternoon, I took the boys fishing. It was so damned hot, and we weren't catching much. MamaSk8z was hot and the boys got bored, so we decided to go home and come back later when the sun came down.
But once we got home and parked our happy asses, we thought better of going back out.
Only one problem. That package of night crawlers was left in the back of the van. Monday morning, I drove the car to work, and the poor spineless worms baked to death silently in the back of my van, parked in front of my house.
This morning, (Tuesday) I decided to drive the van to work, since MamaSk8z needed the Prius. I guess I was vaguely and unconsciously aware that the worms were still out there, but I really didn't expect the level of stench I got when I opened the door to get in.
Luckily, it was still fairly cool outside, so I rolled down the windows on my way to work and could almost imagine that there wasn't a pile of rotting corpses somewhere back there covered in manure and cheese.
When I pulled in to work, windows still down, I had my mind on a dozen little tasks I needed to do. One of them was to come back after my morning emails and haul the bodies out to the dumpster.
But life happened, and once again, I forgot - something I've done a lot of lately. So at 3:30, when I left for my doctor's appointment, I opened the van door to hop in, and was bowled over by the now exponentially worse and twice-baked putrid stench of Sunday's bait.
As late as I am running, I grab the offending worm container with the tips of my fingers, and shuffle to the dumpster, door still ajar on the van. I drop the container. Thank God it stays closed. I pick it up again and toss it in the dumpster, saying a little prayer that no human being goes out there to put something in before the truck comes.
It is however, too late to get the smell out of my van. So, in the worst heat of the afternoon, I was driving with corpses covered in vomit, garbage juice, road-kill, and milk farts. Tears came to my eye s as I came to realize the full shittyness of my situation.
You see, my van has this problem with overheating on hot days. There are some relays that drive the electric cooling fan, and the computer that drives them has been haywire. I've spent hundreds and hundred on it, and it's just one of those damned things. I've learned to mostly live with it. I watch the temperature gauge. If it gets too hot, I have to get out of traffic or turn off the AC.
In the worst cases of overheating, I have to actually turn on the heater full blast to let some of the engine heat out. This is not fun in Texas 100 degree weather.
So here I am, driving this thing in the heat of the day with the poor AC trying just as hard as it can to keep me from breaking out into a drenching sweat. I would wonder why the paint doesn't peel off, but my mind is busy processing normal driving tasks while balancing heat versus stench. Periodically I roll down the windows for clouds of putrescent worm spirit to escape. I realize now that my back windows are not opening up on command, so the foul vapors must come forward to get out.
As I stop at yet another traffic light on what I spontaneously decide is the worst timed system on the planet, I notice the temperature needle rise again with my blood pressure following it. The AC is blowing just cool, not cold.
I did finally arrive without overheating. And though my laptop computer was in the van, I threw caution to the wind (pun intended) and left the windows partially rolled down, thankful no other cars were parked near me.
As I sat waiting in the doctors office, I hoped that the stench hadn't followed me in. But I'm more confident now that if I did have to haul a dead body, I'd probably be able to handle it. Just give me some notice so I can reserve the Prius with its cold AC, and a jar of Vicks Vapo-rub.
Wonder what kind of bad karma I got from letting those worms die in the heat. Do you think it's as bad as feeding them to fish?
Who is The Most Endangered Republican in the Texas House of Representatives? Watch the video below, and see if you can tell us. If you can't, stay tuned. There will be more videos to follow this week, and we'll ultimately reveal his identity on Wednesday. Who do you think it is? Texas Kaos is running a poll.