Out of the clear blue sky Greg Abbott, the recently elected Governor of the once great state of Texas, decided to outdo his usually over-the-top tea party rhetoric the other day. I mean, is this right wing nuttery step really necessary at this point in time? After all, the Governor is not in the middle of a heated primary campaign in which he is fighting for his political survival among the far right fringe voters.
Nor is the Governor competing with TX Senator Ted Cruz as the most paranoid and Orwellian Republican Presidential candidate in 2016. Former TX Governor Rick Perry has already auditioned for this role as he and other Republican Presidential candidates nervously await the Koch boy's anointment of their chosen puppet.
So why did Greg Abbott insist that the state's militia must keep an eye on U.S. Navy Seals and U.S. Army's Green Berets who are training in South Texas? Why is Greg Abbott fomenting fake fear about a U.S. takeover of the state of Texas? Worse, why is the Governor of Texas insulting and disrespecting the military service of our fellow Americans?
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed "Jade Helm 15" amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover.A former Tea Party Republican is so stunned by Greg Abbott's pander to their party's base of sociopaths that he couldn't sleep. Distraught, the former state Representative summoned the courage to write to the Governor.
The request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said "conspiracy theorists" and "fear mongers" had been in a frenzy.
Pape thanked Abbott for the letter to the Texas State Guard, which he believed helped emphasize the benefit of the military training rather than further fuel theorists.
"It's a sad when people's greatest fear is their own government," Pape said. "Think about the ramification of that. If Americans go to sleep at night worrying whether their own government is going to sell them out before morning, it'd be hard to sleep."
Suspicions about Jade Helm intensified on some conservative websites and social media after a map labeled Texas, Utah and parts of California as "hostile" for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July. Such war simulations aren't unusual, though the Army has acknowledged that the size and scope of Jade Helm makes it unique.
The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that Blue Bell can get its act together before it's too late as it brings you this week's roundup.
Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos wants voters to know that voting for mean and stupid people, or not voting at all, has consequences. TX Refusal to Expand Medicaid May Result in Higher Premiums for the Insured.
From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The "big three" had a breakfast brouhaha this week and Dan Patrick got his feelings' hurt, Hurt Feelings and Thin Skin - Session's Getting Good.
Even the lawyer who argued -- and won -- the Citizens United case at the Supreme Court five years ago thinks our political system is broken. But his solutions for it involve removing even more of what remains of the tattered restrictions on financial contributions, and if you want to know the specifics, "you'll have to pay him for that". PDiddie at Brains and Eggs knows that this kind of mercenary political adviser is as large a part of the problem as the money itself.
Nonsequiteuse wants you to watch the video, or read the transcript, of Rep. Jessica Farrar's declaration that she will not yield while Republicans deny Texans human rights and dignity.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
As I posted on Facebook the other day there is a lot of stupid and mean going on in Austin these days. It seems that Governor elect Abbott is just as stubborn and as recklessly spiteful as former Governor Rick Perry. Greg Abbott is on the same cruel mission to punish the poor as hard as possible. Knowing the data and the facts that support expanding federally funded Medicaid would provide health care for millions of uninsured Texans. These are folks who cannot afford Obamacare and are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, as it stands in Texas today.
Greg Abbott doesn't care. The fight between Texas and the federal government over Medicaid threatens the $4 billion safety net.
Texas stands to lose some $4 billion in annual funding to care for the poor unless it can persuade federal authorities to renew a Medicaid waiver due to expire in September 2016.Great. Close the charity hospitals and let poor and sick people just drop dead. FL Rep. Alan Grayson wasn't kidding when he stated the GOP health care plan. Don't get sick. If you do get sick, die quickly. That certainly seems to be the plan in GOP Texas.
But federal officials signaled last week they may no longer be willing to pay for uncompensated care for people who could be covered by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. With Texas lawmakers adamantly opposed to a Medicaid expansion, the waiver expiration creates a potential showdown between state and federal health care officials that, if not resolved, threatens to unravel the state's health care safety net.
"It would be a disaster," said Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine, which provides staffing to Ben Taub, the largest charity hospital in Houston. "I would not be surprised if safety net hospitals just folded."
Texas Republicans want the federal funding for Medicaid with no strings. They want the funding in the form of block grants. But the feds don't trust states like Texas with block grants. Republicans here cannot be trusted to use the funding for its intended purposes. In the past Rick Perry used federal funding meant for education to plug some of the state's budget holes in 2011.
Greg Abbott's stalwart malevolence will end up shooting us all in the foot.
The Texas Hospital Association said it supports the renewal of the waiver but would like to see the state provide insurance coverage to indigent patients rather than relying on uncompensated care funding schemes. That would allow patients to see doctors on a timely basis and avoid allowing problems to escalate until they have no choice but to seek much more costly care at the emergency room.But Greg Abbott seems OK with throwing poor Texans into an early death.
"We would actually prefer some of these innovations that other states have used that are private market," said John Hawkins, senior vice president of government relations for the hospital group. "Those private market solutions we think are better for the beneficiaries, and they're certainly better for providers because we're not trapped in the kind of low reimbursement setting of Medicaid."
Hawkins said even with the waiver, Texas hospitals face a $2.8 billion shortfall in uncompensated care funding for 2016. Without a waiver renewal or Medicaid expansion, that amount could reach $6.6 billion in 2017. Those costs are then shifted to patients with insurance, raising costs for everyone. Moreover, if county hospital districts experience a drastic reduction in funding from Medicaid, they may have to pursue increases in property taxes to make up the difference.
"No Texan is being benefitted by this stance that our state legislators are taking," Klotman said. "We're just shooting ourselves in the foot. It's just unbelievable that a political stance would end up actually doing harm and providing less care to people in our own state. It makes no sense."
House Bill 1690 by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, would shift investigative power over cases involving public corruption to the Texas Rangers, accomplishing a long-time goal of Republicans in the Legislature to dilute the power of Travis County's Public Integrity Unit. It would also allow any ethics charges filed against statewide politicians and lawmakers to be returned to their home counties for prosecution.House Bill 1690 is a little insurance policy for Republicans wary of being investigated for ethics violations. You know, corruption and other similar petty offenses. The vote went 91 Republicans saying Yeas!!!! and 50 Democrats and even one crazy Republican saying stuff like this:
One Republican urged lawmakers to avoid creating a "special protected class for us as elected officials." State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, tried to change the bill so that public corruption cases involving lawmakers could also be tried outside of their home counties. His amendment failed, along with others that tried to expand the venue in which lawmakers could be prosecuted.This is just one of the great pieces of legislature that the Republicans have for the Lone Star State. If you can't secede try and try again. It still needs a final vote before going to the state Senate. However, the Texas Senate has already approved similar legislation.
"This is the way it is for ordinary citizens. If they are to commit crimes against the state they would be prosecuted where the crime occurs," said Simpson, who voted against the bill. "I want to plead with you that you not create with this bill a specially protected class"
The Senate has passed a similar measure by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, on the Public Integrity Unit. Huffman re-worked her bill to have it mostly mirror King's bill after a provision that would have allowed the Attorney General to oversee investigations proved controversial since Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier had been the subject of an inquiry by Travis County's Public Integrity Unit.Jesus.
Politics in Texas can be a real challenge for grassroots activists like me. There are so many contradictions, mind boggling ironies, silver forked tongue charlatans and snake oil chicanery to cut through before one can latch onto a message that motivates people to vote. This week has been especially challenging on the progressive grassroots political front. This is due to the sorry fact that seventeen Texas Democrats have decided to stand on the side of the Fracking industry over the needs, health and financial well-being of their constituencies.
What are you thinking Texas Democrats? Our Party may be a sorry minority but it doesn't mean we have to roll over and die without a fight.
Wimps never win.
For crying out loud. How many times do we have to tell Democrats that when Democrats turn tail and run as Republican Lites Democratic candidates turn off our Democratic base? Stop listening to your handlers and crony donors and publicly stand for what you know is right. Voters will respect and vote for you. IF Democrats stand by our core values and principles. To do otherwise disappoints and discourages us.
I mean, why bother to vote when there is little difference between the two parties? What is a grassroots activist like me to say to a non-voter. Vote for my Party because............................??????????????? The expected response in cases like this? Both sides suck.
Grow some if you want to excite us, Democrats. Take a paddle and blister the forces that are making life miserable for your constituents. Shining a laser focused microscope on the Fracking industry and pay day loan sharks may be good places to start.
Yes. It has been a confusing and disappointing week in Texas politics for progressive Democrats. But this week has not been one without a little dark humor.
It seems that a new movement has emerged here. A normally business friendly state that will impose ALEC sponsored legislation at the supersonic speed of Mach 5 has encountered a bit of a system failure.
One has to wonder what happened to change the state's usually over-the-top business friendly ethos. For a state that likes to brag about personal freedom, individual rights and liberty seems to have fallen prey to a force that works against these very firmly held beliefs.
A new anti-business Party has emerged, not because of worries about personal freedom or individual rights or that ALEC has been running rough shod over the rights of Texas consumers and workers for decades. No, this Party has emerged because a group of right wing tea party extremists want to punish those who do not share their ideological and religious beliefs. Blinded by ideology these hard right tea partiers have chosen to ignore Republican core principles that are grounded in the notion that what is good for business is good for Texas. (Not true but the GOP has been singing the pro-business hymns for decades.)
I have just returned from a Texas Democratic Party event billed as Rural Summit, where I could “... learn about how we can work together to elect more Democrats in rural Texas, and create a winning plan for how to organize your community...” The email invitation was received on Wednesday afternoon for a Saturday event 70 miles away from my home, and I was already scheduled for a battleground Texas voter registration event. Once I confirmed that there would be enough people to cover the registration event, I decided to spend the day to see if the Party could offer anything that would help our local organizing efforts. Since I have been blasting the State Party for months for not doing any outreach to activists other than to ask for money in what is weekly if not daily emails, I thought to myself that at least this time they were asking for me to do something besides clicking on the donation link. It is my thought that in addition to emails asking for money, the Party could ask me to send emails to my friends, get certified as a deputy voter registrar to register voters, send letters to the editor about all the issues they think are important enough to hound me for money about.
That is the difference between Battleground Texas and the state Party as I see it. BGTX asks people to do things in addition to asking for money. Register voters, have phone banks, do community outreach. BGTX asks for time and energy commitments not just money.
So here was the Democratic Party asking me to drive 70 miles and attend a meeting, it was a start, So I went.
And I am glad I did, in a way it was like old home week. I saw some folks from other parts of the state I have not seen in a while. I had the chance to meet others that I have only gotten to know through social media in the last year or so.
As far as learning how to organize it could have been better, if there were people there that had not been involved in campaigns before they would have learned some basics. As the average age of the 60-70 people in attendance was probably between those same numbers, I don’t think there were many novices in attendance. I wanted to see if the Party had any new and exciting tips on local candidate recruitment, if they were going to promise us resources that we could promise possible candidates.
There was some basic campaign information, but nothing necessarily specific to rural organizing. Organizing in rural areas has specific hardships that those used to working in cities often can’t understand. Working to identify your voters and GOTV by knocking doors is difficult when your doors may be miles apart. So I was hopeful that the party had identified rural counties that had adopted some very useful strategies and were now going to pass it along to the rest of us. Wishful thinking.
I understand the party is under new leadership, I remain hopeful that The Texas Democratic Party will reinvent itself and provide the resources that we need in our battle to turn Texas blue, but today after giving them 10 hours of my life, I still don’t know if the State Party has a message or a plan for the 2016 election cycle. I did not hear any thing new as to turning out our base.
After listening to complaints, comments and questions from the attendees, I realize that many people involved in their local party processes are wanting to know how to recruit and provide resources to possible candidates, wanting to know how to combat the fact that we allow the Republicans to define us, wanting to have talking points and information to share in their community to show how Republican policies are destroying the middle class, etc, Unfortunately answers to those questions were not part of the agenda of today’s meeting.
We have a local group, here in our small rural county, that came together through Battleground Texas. We have continued to get together twice a month since the first of the year. We consistently have between 15 and 30 people at our events. We have had voter registration events every month, our folks are working the phones and doing outreach with Young Democrats, teachers, college students and others in our community. Our members are attending City Council meetings and organizing lobbying efforts aimed at local representatives. We are discussing the issues and have brainstorming sessions on how we can do more to energize the Democratic base in the next election. We are doing these things partly because BGTX asked us to make a commitment to continue working together. It would be nice if the State Party would join us.
For the Meetup on April 25th!
When: April 25th at Noon for lunch!
Where: Uncle Julio's Mexican Restaurant
4125 Lemmon Ave
Dallas, TX 75219
You don't want to miss this festival of progressive populism!! Mark you calendars Now!
More below the fold...
Sometimes common sense and equality actually wins in Texas.
Today state District Judge Robert Schaffer is the voice of common sense and equality.
Opponents of Houston's non-discrimination ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, a state district judge ruled Friday, validating city officials' decision to toss out the petition foes submitted last summer.Houston has had a vibrant GLBTQ community for a very long time. It's the cultural center of the city and is one of the things that makes Houston such a world class town. There have always been haters. I remember watching rednecks with baseball bats cruise up and down Montrose through the heart of the district looking to bash. I have countless friends who had been on the receiving end of that kind of bashing in the past. For the most part the city has grown out of that, but it still exists. The haters are there. They may not be using bats as much as the internet and the voting booth but they are there.
After separate rulings from both a jury and state District Judge Robert Schaffer, attorneys for both sides entered dueling counts of the valid signatures, adding and subtracting voters as Schaffer responded to motions. By early this week, the counts were closer together than ever before, fewer than 1,000 signatures apart.
Ultimately, Schaffer on Friday ruled the final count of valid signatures was 16,684, leaving opponents short of the threshold required in the city charter of 17,249 signatures, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election.
But opponents, largely conservative activists and pastors whose objections center on the protections the law extends to gay and transgender residents, say they will appeal the decision.It isn't over but they aren't going to win. Haters can't control Houston anymore, and really haven't for a long time. They can't stand that a city in Texas would have this kind of ordinance. It drives them crazy that they can't control it.
Bring it, haters. Bring it!
Chalk one up for equality and reason in the Lone Star State!
HOUSTON -- A judge has ruled in favor of the city in Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance.For those who do not know, Houston Mayor Annise Parker is a major force of progressive maturity and is the natural evolution of GLBTQ history in the city as our first openly gay Mayor.
The district judge on Friday declared opponents of the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on several categories including race, sexual orientation and gender identity, did not have enough signatures required to put the issue on the ballot.
"I would hope that the plaintiffs would not appeal, they lost during a jury trial and today they also lost with the judge's ruling," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "Now all Houstonians have access to the same protections."
The ruling comes in response to a jury's decision back in February.
The Texas Progressive Alliance revels in the start of another baseball season as it brings you this week's roundup.
Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos cautions Latino voters to beware slowly starving Republican wolves that are dressed in sheep's clothing. GOP Woos Latino Voters While Punishing Immigrants.
From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. As GOP Texas House passes it's budget, taxes take center stage, The Texas Way - The More You Make The Less You Pay, The Less You Make The More You Pay.
To quote Emperor Palpatine: "It is inevitable." To quote the Borg: "Resistance is futile." And to quote Yogi Berra: "It ain't over 'til it's over." PDiddie at Brains and Eggs dissects the 'inexorable' meme that surrounds Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.
Nonsequiteuse says it is time to wear orange and head to Austin (or the internet) to rally against HB 723 as the Texas House of Representatives Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence committee considers little word with constitutional consequencesfor minors who need access to safe, legal abortion services.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
In 2014 David E. Cozad was the last Texas Democrat to file for the U.S. House of Representatives. March 7th 2015 he became the first Congressional candidate in Texas to officially launch his 2016 Congressional Campaign.
Cozad's supporters clapped and padded their feet to the music of The Ackermans of Texas and cheered when David Cozad told them his kick-off was occurring in Meadowbrook (far East Fort Worth) "because when the votes were tallied last November, I was humbled to learn that I'd recieved the highest percentage of votes cast in any Congressional District in Texas for a non-incumbent Democrat." Cozad told the crowd: "You did that!"And I thank you!" "if you walked for any Democrat last year, if you phoned for any Democrat last year, if you gave money or volunteered for any Democrat last year, you helped them and you helped me and I thank you!" he said.''
With a small, totally volunteer staff, Cozad stretched a little over $13,000 through the Primary and General Elections. Other challengers had staff and raised more money. The philosophy of the Cozad campaign was to create everything possible in-house and to improvise without taking any short-cuts on following the F.E.C. law.
One staffer told him that they epitomized the rural idiom: "If you don't own a horse, ride a cow!' Cozad said he's willing to ride a goat or sheep if necessary to get the job done and return some sanity to Congress..
The former U.S. Marine Corps officer attributes the solid blue majority in all of the precincts in Meadowbrook and adjacent Handley to the combined work of the Wendy Davis campaign, the Leticia Van de Putte campaign, the Libby Willis campaign, the Gwinda Burns Judicial Campaign and the Nicole Collier State Representative Campaign and to an "incredible group of persistent volunteers."
He explained that having been drafted to run only a few days before filing deadline, in 2014 he did not have a year for preparation and fundraising. Therefore many voters in Tarrant County and some of the two counties south of Tarrant did not get his message. In Meadowbrook and Handley.
He said: "When my volunteers walked, they never handed out just my push cards. They made sure that they had something with at least a photograph and a short write-up on every Democratic candidate on the ballot in the precincts we walked." Cozad said: "If a campaign did not furnish us their literature, my volunteers found some individual who would run something off on their home computers. We helped them to be sure and get the disclaimers correct and legal."
"Now we know what will work. Now we know how to turn out the voters. Now we know that when we work together we can persuade people to vote Democratic. In a tough mid-term election year what we saw work in Meadowbrook and Handley is what I intend to see happen in 2016 throughout the entire US Texas 6th District."
I laughed out loud the other morning when I opened the print edition of the Houston Chronicle. The front page headline read
I guess it has dawned on the Republican Party that it cannot rely solely on cheating, stealing, lying, fraud and treason in order to win elections. It somehow has to find a way to woo Latino voters.
The Libre Initiative, the Texas-based organization funded heavily by billionaires Charles and David Koch, is expanding in Texas and around the country in a drive to mobilize Latino voters heading into the 2016 elections.The organization's methodology will likely rely on typical GOP scorched earth politics. It will target groups of evangelical Christian Latinos and employ the usual wedge issues, i.e. gay marriage, abortion. It will demonize Democratic opponents by smearing and attacking their greatest strengths. Remember the Swift Boating of John Kerry? I guess it's hard for the Party of, for and by the 1% to run on the merits of its accomplishments, agendas and ideologies.
The growth of the Mission-based organization offers more evidence of Republicans’ determined effort to make inroads into the fast-growing Latino vote, which overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama and most Democrats in recent elections.
Since February, a separate Koch-funded group has posted openings for Libre Initiative jobs in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia - states with heavy Latino populations or likely battlegrounds in the 2016 elections.
A wolf in sheep's clothing.
Libre — the Spanish word for free — bills itself as a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that advances the principles and values of economic freedom to empower Latinos. The group provides a variety of services, from helping obtain driver’s licenses and tax filing to providing children with school supplies.The definition of freedom in Koch GOP World means serfdom. While these grassroots groups pretend to help immigrant families their cronies, enabled by GOP politicians, will prey upon them later like sharks. The unfettered payday loan businesses in Texas is out of control. Greg Abbott and other Texas Republicans protect the loan sharks because of the industry's generous contributions to their campaigns. Unfortunately it is the low income earners who fall into the traps laid by ruthless payday loan organizations. While the politicians look the other way.
The Latino Victory Project, a political advocacy group co-founded last year by Henry Muñoz, of San Antonio, is keenly aware of Libre’s activities. Project president Cristobal Alex said he intends to conduct a briefing on Libre in New York soon with potential donors.Yep.
"We need to have a counterweight to what the Koch Brothers are doing," he said. "They understand, and rightly so, that Latinos will decide future elections in a number of places, including at the very top, but that Latinos are not hyper-partisan."
He added: "They (Koch brothers) are not investing in Libre for the benefit of the Latino community. They are investing in Libre for their pocketbooks."
Meanwhile, back on the ranch in Austin, Texas Republicans are hell bent on making life as miserable as possible for immigrants and their children.