No wonder the local Republicans are scared. I personally hope that some of the Obama enthusiasm carries down-ticket as well. As much as we need change nationally, it's time for some house-cleaning here too.
Michael Burgess, 57, said the economy is one of the top issues in this election.
He said the bailout, which he didn't vote for, is putting the country in the "right direction."
"I don't know if I would have said so a couple weeks ago," he said. "We've got to make sure that, No. 1, it does what it was intended to do, to protect the taxpayer, and that we hold people accountable that make those decisions."
Funny, I was saying that a couple of weeks ago, and I'm not in Washington, am I? But of course, I'm a little concerned that we're now buying up preferred stock instead of helping to make a market for the mortgage-backed securities. Time will tell, but I think the money would be better spent in open-market operations than in equity placements where winners and losers are chosen.
The incumbent also said that with today's economic conditions, the time is not right for legislation to address climate control.
Geez, Mike. "Climate Control?" You mean the thermostat that controls your air conditioner? Nah, you're talking about climate change. You CAN kill two birds with one stone though. By focusing on renewable energy resources, and putting federal efforts behind a "moon shot" type program, we could kick-start a new economic era, and make a dent in global climate change.
My favorite part of the piece was a quote by Burgess' opponent, Ken Leach:
"I just do not think the Republican philosophy is beneficial to this nation: that if the rich are doing OK, then everybody else will benefit from it," Mr. Leach said. "They see it as trickle down, and I see it as a tinkling on."
Scenario: Incumbent provincial legislator has a couple of problems: 1. Her brother killed a policeman while drunk driving, and she needs help to get him out of jail. She turns to an elected law enforcement officer to pull some strings to get him sprung. 2. She's up for re-election, but the opposition party looks pretty strong. She gets this same law enforcement officer to round up 5 of his deputies to go to a public park where the opposition candidate is going to hold a campaign event. These goons then look for the opposition supporters and tell them they are not allowed to campaign, carry signs, or wear campaign apparel in this public park. Three officers gang up on a mother and children, who happen to be the wife and daughters of the opposition candidate.
Answer: It was Texas, in 2008 unfortunately.
From a press release by the Chad Khan campaign today:
HARLESS' CAMPAIGN TREASURER SENDS HIS DEPUTIES TO HARASS VOTERS AT KHAN CAMPAIGN EVENT
HOUSTON—This past Sunday, an event hosted by Democratic Candidate for State Representative Chad Khan at Cypresswood Park was continually disrupted by deputies of Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman, a Republican.
Constable Hickman, who is also the campaign treasurer for Khan's opponent, State Rep. Patricia Harless, had five of his officers stationed at the park early Sunday morning. When Mr. Khan's wife arrived at the park with the couple's children around 11 a.m. Sunday, she was confronted by three of Constable Hickman's deputies. She was told by the deputy constables that she and her children would have to take off their Chad Khan campaign tee shirts or they would be escorted from the park.
In addition, the deputy constables attempted to forbid Khan from doing any campaigning in the park including displaying political signs, stickers, tee shirts, or giving speeches. They threatened both Chad Khan and his wife saying that if they did any campaigning in the park, they would be escorted from the park or arrested.
"This is a public park. Nowhere in Harris County's park regulations does it state that a political gathering can't be held in a public park," said Chad Khan. "From one in the afternoon until 6 p.m. Constable Hickman's deputies came and harassed myself, my wife, and those who gathered for my event four times. This was a blatant attempt by Constable Hickman's office to disrupt a lawful assembly," Khan said.
Khan held a similar event in the park in 2006; the event was not disrupted by the constables two years ago.
"I can't help but believe that this was politically motivated," said Khan. "After all, these deputies are working for my opponent's campaign treasurer, who was at Barbara Bush Library on Sunday working at the polling place. The fact that they were waiting for my family when they arrived at the park shows that this was well-planned by Constable Hickman's office," said Khan.
This isn't the first time Hickman has been in the spotlight for questionable activities related to his association with Rep. Harless. Earlier this year, he was criticized for supporting early release and parole for Harless' brother, Donald Fincher. Fincher was convicted of killing a deputy constable while driving drunk.
"This behavior is typical of the questionable judgment exercised by Constable Hickman and his office. That a sitting State Representative like Patricia Harless would want to be associated with someone who threatens to arrest a mother for wearing a campaign tee shirt in a public park--in front of her two young children, no less--should cause voters to question her judgment. First, she asked the Constable to help get her brother out of prison, now she is having him try to suppress her opponent's campaign rallies," Khan said. "It makes one wonder what she and Constable Hickman will try next," he continued.
What is it about Harris County that makes the Republican politicians down there so downright despicable? Is there something in the water? Perhaps the Barbara Bush library doesn't have a copy of the Constitution of the United States, with its guarantees of the right to freedom of speech and assembly?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Folks, the right-wing radicals can huff and puff all they want about so-called "socialism" and they can wallow in all the paranoia they want about people "grabbing their guns". But fascism is here today, alive and well in the Republican Party of Texas. When your free speech and your right to vote are under such a blatant and open attack as they have been in Harris county, that's what you need to worry about.
I hate Mondays. It's not just the getting up early and going to work again after a weekend, but for us computer guys, it's time to deal with all the stupid crap that happened over the weekend too. It's time to deal with people who just got back from vacations and have a bazillion questions. It's time to catch up on the 1873 emails that await you in your inbox that people just felt compelled to cc you on, because they had some awesome insight they believed you just couldn't live without.
At my job, our boss, who works in San Diego, has a standing meeting at 3pm Pacific, which works out to 5pm my time. Wonderful. There are also the timesheets and expense reports due on Monday.
Then there are the extracurricular things. I belong to one organization that meets the first Monday of each month, and that always conflicts with the city council meeting that I'd rather not, but occasionally do have to go to. No wonder I'm a bit of an a-hole sometimes there.
Tonight, it was Cub Scouts. I didn't go. Mamask8z took my youngest one. The older son has decided to quit Cub Scouts. I have mixed emotions about that. On the one hand, those meetings were a pain in the ass for me. As a parent, you get to go and sit around while the boys receive umpteen trivial awards for umpteen trivial things at least 3 times per meeting. Then there are the dumb skits and dumber songs. On the other hand, there are things the kids do in Cub Scouts that are meaningful good experiences that are hard to re-create on your own.
I guess the biggest problem I had with the scouting was just that I'm already overloaded with so many things, and those monthly pack meetings and weekly den meetings always get in my way. A worth sacrifice, perhaps if my son weren't so lackadaisical about his own participation. And as much as I have to stay on his butt about getting things done that he needs to get done, there's just no bandwidth left to work on all of the homework he has to do for scouting. I do hope that we find something meaningful to the both of us that we can do together on our own schedule, and that will fill the void.
It is unfortunate that Barack Obama chose to use the words "Spread the wealth" when explaining the rationale for his tax plan to "Joe the Plumber". For those who haven't watched the whole exchange, you really should watch it, unplug your ears, and listen to what Obama is saying. Go ahead, I'll wait:
But truth and fact have never slowed down the GOP slime machine. Allegations of socialism and so-called "redistribution of wealth" have flown from the radical right wing.
I have just one question for you: Since when is it "socialism" to allow hard-working middle class people to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks instead of paying for an unnecessary tax cut for the wealthy?
John McCain worries about those who inherited their way into wealth like he and his wife. McCain worries about those who collect dividend checks for a living and already pay far lower tax rates than you do. These are people who rely on government protection to allow their gravy train to keep running, because they don't actually do anything. And John McCain wants the rest of us to pay higher taxes so they can keep their Bush tax cuts that they didn't ask for, that McCain didn't originally support, and that they don't need.
Republicans are hysterical about non-existent "handouts" that Obama would supposedly pass around, yet in fact, it's John McCain whose policies provide handouts at taxpayer expense. Consider McCain's plan to purchase bad mortgages at full face value, then refinance them based on current value. Not only is it a handout for banks, with a definite loss to the taxpayers up-front, but it's a handout to the irresponsible people who obtained mortgages they shouldn't have.
John McCain wants you to believe that if we take away the 3% tax cut for people earning more than $250,000 per year, those folks will stuff their money under matresses and quit earning and paying taxes. He wants you to believe that businesses decide not to expand because their taxes are too high. It's a good thing John McCain doesn't run a business because he would run it into the ground on stupidity like that. Taxes are based on income. Businesses ALWAYS work as hard as they can for more income.
Folks, whenever you hear Republicans squealing about something like this, just remember that whatever they say, it's always the opposite. To the GOP, truth and facts mean nothing: if you say it loud enough, you can say white is black, day is night, up is down, wrong is right.
In realtity, the GOP is just desperate to hold onto power, and will say anything. The truth is that when we all do well, we all earn more. We could cut taxes to nothing for the wealthy, but eventually if the working class has no money to spend, the economy stalls, and we all have a bad time of it. When "Joe the Plumber's" customers can afford to pay his bill, he does better.
(Pay no mind to the fact that Joe was caught lying, is not a licensed plumber, is behind on taxes, and is nowhere close to earning $250,000 or buying a business. He wants to believe that Obama will raise his taxes)
If you think Obama's proposed tax cuts for the middle class are a handout, and you earn less than $250,000 per year, you can go ahead and get out your checkbook and send YOUR savings back to the IRS. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.
When early voting began here last week, we saw unprecedented turnout - leaning heavily Democratic by primary voting history. Locally, Republicans are worried about maintaining their stranglehold on elected offices.
Yesterday, Republican State Rep. Tan Parker, who wants you to pay your poll tax, is running against "stealth" candidate Democrat Jesus Carrillo actually got out block-walking and rang our doorbell yesterday. This despite the Barack Obama sign in front yard, and stack of Obama bumper stickers on our front porch.
I wasn't home at the time - I was at my office printing up more materials for my own block-walking. Mamask8z answered the door, and had a conversation with him. I'll let her recap that for you, but I've got to give him credit for having the balls to come by here.
I think this year we just have more Texans who are looking beyond labels and personalities at fundamental philosophies. The Republican Party has lost their way due to the years of riding on anti-immigrant, anti-gay, culture-war rhetoric. This year, many people have come to realize that those issues are like farts in the wind, because having a job and money in your pocket to spend are what are really important.
I have worked elections using paper, punch card, and electronic ballots. This is what I know about the differences between—and the pros and cons of--paper ballots vs. electronic ballots:
Paper Ballots provide a record of the vote as it was cast. In the event of a challenge, Elections Administrators can go back and manually recount the ballots. The problem with a paper ballot is that it is more likely to record "over votes" which end up being cast as no vote.
An over vote occurs when someone accidentally makes more than one mark on the ballot in a particular race. Since you cannot vote for more than one candidate, your selections do not count in that race. The rest of the marks you make on the ballot will be counted, as long as you only had one selection in each race. In the event that no choice is marked in a particular race, known as an “under vote”, no vote will be cast in that contest.
Besides the over vote problem, paper ballots can be lost, misplaced, or mutilated to the point that they cannot be read. Not to mention the potential problem of ballot box stuffing--people voting more than one ballot and casting more than one vote.
Electronic Ballotshave been the target of much discussion since the 2000 election. There is widespread mistrust of electronic balloting machines because they can be programmed by the manufacturer to record votes in a certain way (ex: for every 5th vote for George Washington, add 3 votes to the tally for John Adams) or, in some cases, can be hacked into by outsiders who want to manipulate the ballot tally.
Part of the distrust arose from a comment by the owner of Diebold in 2004 in which he said he would do everything in his power to "deliver the election" to George W. Bush. Talk about a conflict of interest! Diebold is the manufacturer of the machines used in Ohio.
On the bright side, Harris County (where I used to live) and Denton County both use the eSlate which is manufactured by Hart Intercivic. To my knowledge, the owners of Hart Intercivic have not made inflammatory statements about their loyalty to one party or the other. My experience with Hart Intercivic employees has always been positive and they appear to be completely unbiased and truly caring about recording election results according to the will of the people.
Because the program will not allow a voter to make more than one choice in each race, the over vote problem is a non-issue. Under votes—a voter making no choice in a particular race (either intentionally or accidentally)—will be recorded as no vote in that race.
The major problem with the electronic ballots, according to their most vocal opponents, is the lack of a “voter verifiable paper trail.” Once the votes have been recorded by the machine, there is no way to tell whether the voter actually cast their ballot the way it was recorded in the machine’s memory (unlike paper ballots). The eSlate can be configured to provide a voter verifiable paper trail (a receipt); however, the units being used in Harris and Denton Counties do NOT provide that option.
Ballot stuffing, on the other hand, is more difficult, as there can only be as many ballots cast as there were voters who signed in to that particular polling location. The use of the eScan (the paper ballot optical scanner) in Denton County appears to address the issue of ballot box stuffing as the number of votes recorded on the eScan must match up with the number of voters who signed in at the polling location.
My biggest concern with Electronic Ballots is that many of these machines are not user friendly--this is especially troublesome for older voters, low income voters (who are not comfortable using a computer), and voters with disabilities (either physical or learning). For that reason, I was happy to see that Denton County offers voters a choice between paper and electronic ballots. I did notice, however, that after the paper ballots were filled out, there was a line at the optical scanner and many folks had trouble feeding the paper into the scanner in the right direction. Regardless of which type of ballot you choose, at some point you will have to deal with a machine!
Ben and I voted Monday on electronic ballots. Mom voted by mail on a paper ballot. Benny voted by mail in NM on a paper ballot. So our household is split between the two styles.
Your choice, between paper or electronic, should be based on your understanding of the systems and your personal comfort level with each type of ballot. Denton County offers online training for both the eSlate and the eScan on their website.