Archive for January, 2008

Looking back at 2007

Tonight’s Lubbock DFA “Best of the Political Internet 2007″ event went pretty well. A group of us watched a bunch of internet video clips from last year and had a good discussion after each one. Lots of Daily Show and Colbert, for sure. “Don’t tase me, bro!” made an appearance, as did a compilation video of Alberto Gonzales’ 70+ “I don’t recall” statements strung together in one memory-busting blitz. We also watched short clips about many of the current (or currently-dropping-out) presidential candidates and had a thorough discussion of the primaries so far.

It feels good not only to talk to fellow Democrats and digest the current state of things, but also to beef up the memory of our collective consciousness. American culture tends to be “in one ear, out the other,” especially when it comes to media. It’s important to remember that 2007 was a year when blogging became a big deal (again), that we ran an incompetent crony of an Attorney General out of office (although it took too long to do so), that a roomful of college students did nothing when one of their number was tasered right in front of them, that Republican primary voters cheered as their candidates advocated torture, and that we lived under an Administration that refused to face its own lies and mistakes with a Congress that failed to enforce consequences for those lies and mistakes.

In the end, one of the greatest contributions of the internet will be the ability to revisit our recent history and master it before moving on.

An endorsement I care about

Obama has had a very, very good weekend and the start of an excellent week. Not only did he win big in South Carolina, but he received a few big endorsements including Caroline Kennedy (JFK’s daughter) and Ted Kennedy, who has been deliberately neutral until now.

Tonight, however I found out that a voice I really try hard to hear has endorsed my candidate of choice: Randall Munroe, author of my favorite webcomic xkcd. His blog announcement is particularly eloquent:

I want, for once, someone I can vote for not because I dislike the other candidate, but because I’m proud of mine. Obama is the real thing.

Obama has shown a real commitment to open government. When putting together tech policy (to take an example close to home for xkcd) others might have gone to industry lobbyists. Obama went to Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons (under which xkcd is published) and longtime white knight in the struggle with a broken system over internet and copyright policy.

The Democratic party has a long, painful history of nominating unlikable, uncharismatic ‘default’ establishment candidates who are eventually swatted aside by the voters. Nominating Clinton would be continuing that tradition at the very time when we have a chance to do so much better. Let’s not let that chance slip by.

I want someone who can lead the country. When people grow cynical and detached from government, or blinded by partisanship, evil runs amok. Obama represents an honest shot at making our government something we can be proud of. I’m tired of throwing things at CNN. I’m tired of feeling depressed when I read speeches by the founding fathers. I want Jon Stewart to smile again. For a brief moment, next Tuesday, we’ll have a shot at finally getting things right. Please help.

Right on, Randall.


As a bonus, here’s a sample of xkcd that we have taped up on the wall at the office:

'Are you stealing those LCDs?' 'Yeah, but I'm doing it while my code compiles.'

Insurance

I was driving around the Loop (a preferred recreational activity for us Lubbockites) a little while ago, enjoying the sunny day, the music coming out of my speakers, and the fact that I wasn’t coughing up a lung or running a fever any longer. I had a bit of the ol’ government flu this past week, along with roughly half of Lubbock, apparently. So, naturally, my thoughts turned to my own health and how I got out of my recent sickness.

I thought about how lucky I was to have friends and family to take care of me. I thought about the relatively cheap generic drugs that, along with lots of bed rest, cured me. I thought about the impact to my business (and income) that would happen from missing most of a work week. I thought about health insurance. Like nearly 50 million Americans, I have none. And then I had a thought that really irked me:

How messed up is it that my car has better insurance than I do?

Answer: very.

And what’s even more mind-boggling is that I am required by law to have insurance for my vehicle. What does it say about our priorities when we will legislatively protect our property more than our health, and our neighbor’s property more than our neighbor’s health?

Let’s fight to keep health care one of the focal points of this 2008 election cycle. Whether it’s at the state level or at the national level, we need to get something moving to fix our broken health care situation.

Registered to Vote? Are you Sure?

As Early Voting for the Primaries draws near, it’s time for each of us to make sure that we are registered within the political subdivision in which we intend to vote. Are you a college student from out of town? You can register to vote here in Lubbock and make a local impact, or, if you have a favorite candidate to support at home, request an absentee ballot from your home county.

Complicating matters for all of us — not just college students who move — is the TEAM System maintained by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. Currently each voter in Texas has a unique registration number — a VUID number — which augments and will replace the voter’s legacy, county-unique certificate number. This by itself is not a problem. However, college students, professionals who have lived and worked in different cities, and people who just plain moved and registered in their new county are all at risk of disappearing from the voter list when they show up to vote.

The problem is one left over from when the TEAM database was first built last year. If the same person is registered in two counties, they are merged into one registration and one of the old registrations is dropped. The general rule that was followed in this merging process was to drop the older registration. This choice makes sense at the surface, but it’s certainly not accurate all the time. For example, a college student is registered in their home county, registers in their college county, and then moves back home after school to start a career. In this case, the TEAM merge process would keep their college registration and drop their home registration, frustrating the voter as they show up at the polls to vote only to find out that they are no longer registered like they thought they were.

This merge was an unfortunate step of creating the TEAM database, and we are lucky it’s a one-time problem that’s getting fixed as voters come forward. Other, chronic problems with voter registrations — voters with hard-to-deliver mail addresses who continually get dropped or put on suspense, for example — will be with us longer.

So, the thing to do is contact the Lubbock County Office of Elections and say “I want to make sure that my voter registration is current.” If you haven’t received a new ORANGE voter card by now, that is an extra strong indicator that you need to contact:

Dorothy Kennedy
Elections Adminstrator
1308 Crickets Avenue
P.O. Box 10536
Lubbock, TX 79408

Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Phone: (806) 775-1339
Alt. Phone: (806) 775-1338
Fax: (806) 775-1380
Email: otelubbock@co.lubbock.tx.us

(found on http://www.co.lubbock.tx.us/Elec%20Admin/Elections%20Administrator.htm )

The deadline for registering to vote (including changing your address to be current!) is February 4. This coming week is the time to take care of this important chore!

Third DeLeon recall petition?

According to the A-J, it appears that Roger Settler has picked up a set of recall petitions to recall Council Member DeLeon a third time.

http://www.lubbockonline.com/updates/test/update5.shtml (not a permalink, will go away after a few days)

The target is 494 valid signatures by Feb 21st.

Once again, I plan to play the home game and do my own analysis once the petitions are turned in. Detailed analysis will be posted here, and I’ll probably post a summary at the LubbockOnline forums as well.

Disclosure: I do not support the recall petition, but I support the right of the recall organizers to try as many times as they like. I do not live in District 1.

Obama’s MLK Speech is Great

Many of us that support Barack Obama for President do so in part because he spoke so well, so passionately, and so truthfully at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Now he’s done it again, with a speech that ties together what we are all feeling now: our “deficit of empathy” in the United States.

Obama’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy in his home church takes the lessons of that great civil rights leader and applies them to the present day.

Here’s a sample:

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She’s been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

The whole speech is worth reading and watching. Obama has the right message at the right time.

Video of Barack Obama’s MLK speech
Full Text of Barack Obama’s MLK speech

“Ghosts of Abu Grahib” screening tomorrow

Just a quick reminder about a free film screening tomorrow:

Ethics Movie Series, spring 2008
“Ghosts of Abu Grahib,” an HBO documentary by Rory Kennedy
Saturday, January 19, 7pm
Philosophy and English building
ROOM 001
Sponsored by the Texas Tech Women’s Studies Program and the Lubbock Chapter of the ACLU.

This event should be very well attended, so get there a little early to get a good seat!

Time: Texas is the #1 Carbon Polluter

According to Time magazine, Texas is now the biggest carbon polluter in the nation.

A multitude of factors contribute to the carbon output, among them: Texas’ 19 coal-burning power plants; a heavy concentration of refineries and chemical plants; a lack of mass transit; and a penchant among ranchers and urban cowboys alike for brawny, gas-guzzling trucks — sometimes to haul things, but often just to look Texas tough.

Not much to say about it, other than it’s sad, it’s hard to fix, and Texans are notoriously reluctant to tackle problems like this in a meaningful way.

Progressive Populist Caucus 2008 Meeting

The Texas Progressive Populist Caucus (PPC) will hold its January meeting in Odessa this Saturday. I’m halfway tempted to make the drive and get in on this meeting — the PPC members make Democratic Party politics exciting, that’s for sure. David Van Os — my favorite Texas politician — is one of their most active members.

If you are interested in attending their meeting, here’s what their announcement email has to say about the details:

The Texas Progressive Populist Caucus (PPC) invites you to participate and discuss the Democratic Party’s rightful place in Texas as the organized political voice for justice and fairness for the ordinary Texan. History teaches that when we provide that organized voice in an effective manner, we always represent the majority. We want to know what you think needs to be done to restore the rightful place of the Democratic Party in Texas as that majority voice.

Please feel free to bring others from your county with you. The meeting will be open to all interested Democrats and all in attendance will be encouraged to join in the discussions.

What: PPC Odessa Meeting 2008
When: January 19, 2008, 1pm
Where: Days Inn
3075 E. Hwy. 80
Odessa, Texas 79761
Ph. (432) 335-8000
Meeting Agenda:1:00 Call to order: Charlie Urbina Jones, PPC State Chair
Verify quorum, Fidel Acevedo, Sgt. at Arms/Parliamentarian
Approval of agenda
Approval of minutes from December 2007 SC meeting, Sarah Gonzales, Secretary
Treasurer’s Report, Henry Kight, Treasurer

1:15 Welcome to Odessa – Bob Dean, PPC West Texas Regional Vice Chair (5 minutes)

1:20 PPC mission and goals for Texas Democratic Party State Convention – Charlie Urbina Jones (10 minutes)

1:30 Invitation to join us at the TDP State Convention in Austin, June 6 & 7 – David Van Os (30 minutes)

2:00 Group discussion on Texas Democratic Party and State Convention –
facilitated by Charlie Urbina Jones, David Van Os, and Bob Dean (30 minutes)

2:30 Brief PPC Steering Committee meeting (30 minutes)
A. Appoint Nominating committee to fill open positions at Annual Meeting (5 minutes)
B. Communications Committee report & appoint Chair for this committee (15 minutes)
C. Annual Meeting report – Fidel Acevedo, Sonia Santana, John Behrman (10 minutes)
D. Announcements

3:00 Adjourn

Our Next Congressman is in This Picture

I took this photo at the Lubbock County Democratic Party Campaign Kickoff Banquet last Friday, a wonderful event that I will write more about. Dwight Fullingim (left) and Rufus Mark (right) are the two candidates for Congress (TX-19) in the Democratic Primary here in Lubbock. Rufus is a practicing radiation oncologist, and Dwight is a former public relations guru. Either one will be an excellent challenger against Randy Neugebauer in the general election, and I look forward to a positive, exciting primary competition between these two candidates.


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