Archive for August, 2009

Neugebauer Town Hall Part 3: Now with video!

Here are the video clips from Randy Neugebauer’s Lubbock Town Hall meeting 8/25/2009:

Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 1
Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 2
Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 3
Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 4
Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 5
Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 6
Randy Neugebauer Lubbock Town Hall 8/25/2009 Part 7

Thanks to my friend Daniel for actually capturing the video. Note that my flip cam only holds an hour of video, so there is a chunk near the end of the town hall that is missing. I’m new to the whole world of posting online video, so I apologize for lack of editing and polish (and the delay while I figure this stuff out). I hope to post many more videos in my blogging career.

There are some real gems in there that didn’t make it onto the evening news or even onto talk radio — coon-tree-bark guy and chemtrail lady come to mind, as well as the introduction from that AFIIG guy (and come on now, how “grassroots” is an LLC, anyway?).

You know those nights where you lie awake thinking, “If only I had said ______ things would be different!” Well, footage of Randy’s town hall meeting keeps putting me in that mindset. Example. As a couple of commenters have noted, the missing part of Randy’s explanation for why he supports farm subsidies but not national health care is that, as with farm subsidies, national health care levels the playing field internationally by reducing the cost to employers of providing health care. Japanese and European automakers don’t have to pay for health care for their employees, but American automakers do, for example. It would have been nice to point that out to our Congressman and hear his reaction.

Anyway, there it is. Now on to a bazillion rude comments, probably.

Hank Gilbert for Governor

Finally, a candidate for Governor that I can be excited about!

feedingcattleHank Gilbert, East Texas rancher and former Democratic candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, sent an email to his supporters yesterday pre-announcing his run for Governor. (The official announcement is coming September 21st, according to the email.)

In the 2006 campaign for Ag Commissioner, Hank drove all over the state of Texas in his pickup to get in front of as many voters as possible. He made it up to Lubbock as well (always earning points in my book — statewide candidates don’t always stop here), and I remember being impressed not only by his stump speech but also by his obvious ability to connect with people. He’s a true populist, working especially hard to create and enhance co-op and other community organizations that help ordinary folks. He was also a prominent figure in the fight against the trans-Texas corridor.

If you’re so inclined, you can donate to Hank Gilbert’s campaign via ActBlue. Money is the only obstacle between Hank and an effective run for Governor — he’s got what it takes as a candidate. Hank’s goal is to raise $100,000 between now and then to show his viability. In true populist fashion, he begins with $0 in the campaign coffers. :P

Also, A-J correspondent Enrique Rangel covered Hank Gilbert’s announcement yesterday afternoon (soon after the email went out).

Learn more about Hank Gilbert at his website HankGilbert.com.

Neugebauer Town Hall Trip Report: Part 2

Still waiting on video — I’ve got it in one big chunk but need to edit it down.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you the questions that the Lubbock County Democratic Party who attended the town hall decided to ask Congressman Neugebauer. These were voted on Monday night by those planning to attend the town hall the next day.

Here they are:

  1. You cosponsored the recent farm subsidies bill, which is actually government run. But in the A-J you opposed health insurance reform because you said it “would be government run.” Can you explain this contradiction?
  2. Almost 75% of the nation’s uninsured have jobs, but do not have health care benefits. Can you explain how they can afford health care insurance without a low cost public option, or do you want to leave them uninsured?
  3. One in five people in Lubbock county are uninsured. Figures show emergency care is more expensive than preventative medicine, which a public option would provide. Currently Lubbock County taxes fund uninsured trips to the county’s ER.
    Why do you support wasting tax payer money?
  4. 50 thousand Lubbockites do not have health insurance. Last year you received nearly $50,000 from insurance companies. Did this money influence your decision to oppose health insurance reform that would cover 50,000 of your uninsured constituents?
  5. Would you please make a statement affirming that Barak Obama is a natural born citizen and the legitimately elected president of the Unites States.

I am happy to say that most of these were asked in some form or another, and not necessarily by our group who prepared the night before.

This is an example of real grassroots organizing, not astroturf like what’s been happening at some of these town halls. We are all citizens of Lubbock County and therefore Randy’s constituents. We did not get paid to do this, get bused in from another town (or another district — look for Randy’s folks to meddle in Eastern New Mexico politics next year), or follow the instructions/talking points of a national media personality. We did not plan to be disruptive, but we did organize to make sure our voice was heard.

And, attention KFYO radio personalities: it is consistently right-wingers who are showing up to these town halls with pictures of the President looking like Hitler and calling those on the left Nazis, not the other way around.


Another aside: DFA movie night is today, Thursday 8/27/09 at 7pm at Lubbock County Democratic Party HQ (2809A 74th St). We will show the documentary “Life. Support. Music.” Admission is free, refreshments are provided, and a discussion will follow the film.

I’ve been caught up in all this town hall stuff and forgot to announce it earlier in the week. :)

Neugebauer Town Hall Trip Report: Part 1

Except for the couple of jerks who insulted my girlfriend, the Randy Neugebauer town hall was very civil — not like the clips of town halls crashed by right-wing shouters or poster-rippers. It was an hour and a half of brisk Q+A from audience members lined up at 2 mics. People mostly showed how they felt by clapping/cheering or remaining silent, though there was some whooping and hollering now and then. One dude with an opposite view from mine took the time to shake my hand afterward to thank my friends and me for being decent, and I said the same to him. That was a very nice moment.

The Congressman’s staff were very pleasant and helpful as usual.

Oh, but there was the one gentleman who, during his turn at the mic, literally said, “When you’ve got a coon up a tree, bark!” in reference to the President. A very unfortunate choice of words at the least. A fellow Lubbock blogger I met at the town hall chronicled this line (and the event in general) very well.

It will take me several posts to present all the material from the town hall. A friend of mine took video of most of it, which we will clean up, put on YouTube, and link here. In the meantime, the hilarious-but-tired GOP health care chart (scary! confusing! colors! ugly fonts! boo!) made another appearance in giant poster and handout form.

Local media coverage of the town hall meeting was OK, though the number of people at the meeting varied widely among different media outlets. I’ll say that the hall was packed to standing-room-only, and there were 1,000 chairs in the room. Also, certain media outlets (KAMC and KLBK, for example) did not acknowledge that the questions were basically evenly divided between those who were in favor of a public option (or other health care reform at the federal level), those who were against, and those who had other things to talk about. To lump people into broad categories, there may have been more “conservatives” in attendance, but the questions and comments were hardly dominated by “conservative” opinions.

I did come to the conclusion that our Congressman is sucking up to the we-hate-government wing of his Party’s base. The person who introduced Congressman Neugebauer was from AFIIG, and Randy spent a whole lot of time painting our government as a boogeyman.

At any rate, I’ll soon post links to video of basically the whole event, so you can see for yourself. For now, here are a few pictures I’ve received from friends-with-cameras so far:

waiting
Some friends arriving early to get good seats by the mics.

dana-visits-with-mikel
Dana Neugebauer visits with LCRP Precinct 47 Chair Mikel Ward.

grayhaired-crowd
The hall starts to fill up.

More tomorrow!


And oh dear, as I am about to post this, I just saw news that Senator Ted Kennedy has died:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/26/obit.ted.kennedy/index.html

RIP “The Lion of the Senate”

Two Theocratic Dons

I don’t normally venture into religious discussion, but I will do so today for two reasons — both named Don.

First, my fellow political opinion blogger hosted at LubbockOnline.com (Dr. Donald May) has launched into PART ELEVEN of his theocratic diatribe, and I feel obliged to point out that it’s getting way past ridiculous over there.

Secularism in government is essential for democracy to work. Our founding fathers knew this, and they created a system where any one religion does not dominate through the power of government. It’s this very concept that guarantees our freedom of religion in the US, and it should be celebrated even among the theocrats who enjoy that same freedom.

Without secularism, people get caned for drinking beer.

And speaking of beer, a second Don (Don Workman) is one of two parties who have submitted protest forms to the TABC to delay or defeat the sale of alcohol in Lubbock. Chad Hasty over at KFYO has been covering Don Workman’s petition to void or delay the availability of alcohol in Lubbock County (part one and part two) despite a two-to-one election result in favor of county-wide alcohol sales.

To learn about Don Workman’s possible motivation for delaying or denying alcohol sales in Lubbock, I did “the Google” and learned more than I ever wanted to know about the split between the General Baptist Convention of Texas and the “more doctrinally pure” Southern Baptist Convention of Texas, in which Workman played an active leadership role.

Incidentally, Workman recently wrote an A-J letter to the editor saying how wonderful Alberto Gonzales will be for Texas Tech:

I hate to take exception to all my fellow Red Raiders who have written letters to the A-J criticizing Albert Gonzales, but to the contrary, my experience with Mr. Gonzales has been excellent through my 15 years on the Texas Youth Council. He was always available, courteous, and quick with a response. He was a state employee who was consistent and reliable.

What kind of work might Workman have been doing while interacting with our state government? Here’s a quote from Don Workman at the 2nd annual Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in November 1999:

“We let your legislators know there are Southern Baptists in Texas who believe Scripture should be legislated,” he reported.

I have never met Mr. Workman or his wife, both active Republican Party leaders in the area, but those are the words of a theocrat. I believe Mr. Workman’s interpretation of scripture may be at odds with the results of the alcohol election in Lubbock County.

There are those who want to throw out our American systems of law and governance and replace them with their interpretation of a holy book. It just so happens that two of them are named Don and live in Lubbock.

Friday Rally: Photos and Video

I did not attend the Friday rally on the courthouse lawn to protest the controversial courthouse postings of County Judge Tom Head, but my friend Leo Flores attended and took some pictures and video, which I present here.

Here is a video of some of the speakers:

This is easily my favorite photo of the event:

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Other photos of those attending the rally or speaking:

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Tom Head supporters counter-protesting:
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And that’s all I have. If you have additional photos of the event, contact me and I’ll put them up as well.

A-J coverage of the rally is here.

Randy Neugebauer Town Hall Tuesday

It’s time to let our representative know that the time for real health care reform has finally come. Congressman Randy Neugebauer is having an August recess town hall meeting on Tuesday, August 25th here in Lubbock.

Note that the location has changed to First United Methodist Church:

Lubbock Coffee
Tuesday, August 25th
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm CDT
First United Methodist Church
1411 Broadway Avenue, Great Hall
Lubbock, TX

These events are called “Coffee with the Congressman,” which has a folksy charm I would normally admire; but, the name doesn’t make any sense for what will likely be a very large meeting in a church. Oh well.

I hope that you, dear reader, will make an effort to attend and let your voice be heard — especially on the health care issue — in spite of the inconvenient time of the meeting (middle of the work day, right when it’s time to pick up the kids from day 2 of school, etc). The media will almost certainly be there in abundance to cover the event, so even if you don’t get to ask the Congressman a question directly, you might get the opportunity to let the world know how you feel on the airwaves. Honestly, the chances of Randy changing his mind from “NO!” are slim to none, so the real debate is in the public sphere.

And oh yeah, don’t be town hall crazy like the FreedomWorks gang.

See you there!

No more movements?

Douglas Rushkoff has put forward the depressing hypothesis that movements are history. “Mass organization may just have been a twentieth century thing,” he says.

Furthermore:

The best techniques for galvanizing a movement have long been co-opted and surpassed by public relations and advertising firms. Whether a movement is real or Astroturf has become almost impossible for even discerning viewers to figure out. The question often becomes the new content of the Sunday morning news panel, taking the place of whatever real issue might have been addressed.

But the problem is not simply that we’ve lost the ability to distinguish between real movements and cynically concocted fake ones. It’s that they are functionally indistinguishable. They may as well be the same thing.

Here he brings up a serious problem. Organizing is a discipline with its own methods and measures of success. Organizing skills can be learned, practiced, taught, and improved. It’s natural to expect that a private industry version of political organizing would take off in a capitalistic society. Unfortunately, the industry guys have gotten a lot better lately.

Also, are grassroots and astroturf really indistinguishable? I don’t think so.

Rushkoff again:

In fact, by creating and branding a movement, even the most well-meaning activitsts are disconnecting from terra firma, and instead entering the world of marketing, public opinion, and language selection. Potential participants, meanwhile, are distracted from whatever on-the-ground, constructive and purposeful activity they might do. They get to join an abstracted movement, and participate by belonging instead of doing, or blogging instead of acting.

I don’t agree. The push for some form of public health care in the US is a century long fight. Gay rights, the environmental movement, organized labor — these are long-standing, growing movements that aren’t going away any time soon.

Sometimes people need to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Belonging (and yes, blogging!) are important in their own right, and they make doing and acting more effective, not less. The “world of marketing, public opinion, and language selection” is the same world that puts boots on the ground. After all, mind and body occupy the same space.

Back to Rushkoff:

Activists would do more to fight Big Agra simply by subscribing to their local Community Supported Agriculture groups. We’d more effectively pull the rug out from under a corrupt financial sector by simply investing in one another’s businesses—our own town restaurants and drug stores—instead of outsourcing our retirement savings to Wall Street. We could more easily re-invent public schools by volunteering our time to them directly, instead of sending our kids to private schools while we sign petitions for government to re-prioritize. And even in health care, we’d end up cutting everyone’s costs by commuting less, smoking less, landscaping less, and, yes, hating less. For each of these actions triggers different responses, undermines industries, requires new legal structures, and so on. It’s tiny, but it’s almost fractal in its impact.

Rushkoff is right that individual action at the local level is the most important aspect of one’s civic life. But, he somehow fails to see how viewing oneself as part of a movement can generate that local action. It’s great to plant a small garden at your home, and it’s also great when the First Lady does it. Both can inspire people to do the same — it’s just a question of scale. That’s the essence of a campaign, a civic group, an issue advocacy group, a MOVEMENT, and so on — scaling individual action up to the society-wide level.

I think Rushkoff would agree that the measure of success for change is whether it remains as the status quo absent of a movement to maintain it.

Individual action and movements. We need both.

Tom Head Does the Right Thing

Most likely in response to a press conference given at Southwest Digest on Friday afternoon or the recent Associated Press coverage of the controversial postings, last night County Judge Tom Head apologized for his political courthouse postings.

For me, the concluding section of his apology addresses the main issue:

“I would like to restate, for the record, that there are many forums available for political material, but the courthouse should not be one of them … I was wrong and I will never do so again … I hope one day I can regain your trust and not just as an elected official, but as your servant, friend and neighbor. Again, I would ask your forgiveness.

“May God bless this community and our country.”

Word is that a peaceful assembly is still planned for 1:30pm Friday 8/21 at the Courthouse. Personally, I believe that Judge Head’s apology and his promise not to post any more politically charged material at the Courthouse settle the matter for now. However, having a County Judge that believes even a fraction of the wild things posted in those materials is a matter that can only be settled at the ballot box next November.

More local coverage:

http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/dpp/news/local/081409display
http://www.kcbd.com/global/Story.asp?s=10934631
http://everythinglubbock.com/content/fulltext/?cid=37422

Tom Head: The Writing is on the Wall

I’m finally getting around to posting pictures of the full array of insane political postings that our County Judge Tom Head posted on the public notice board outside the County Commissioners’ offices in the County Courthouse. A friend sent them to me Monday afternoon (they were taken on Friday before Commissioner Bill McKay took them down), and I’ve now got them saved for size on the web.

Without further ado (click for big):

Board
The public notice board on which these were posted. The crazy takes up about half of the space on the board.

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Obama as the Pied Piper leading the media. This is the tamest of the bunch, but it still has no place on a public notice board in the Courthouse.

dead-prez
Dead Presidents (and the Bushes) playing poker. The fact that Teddy R. isn’t giving Nixon an eternal wedgie makes this afterlife scenario pretty unrealistic.

eagle-forum-sotomayor   eagle-forum-sotomayor2
An Eagle Forum (extremely right-wing group) court watch piece critical of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The gist is that she is not “Constitutional” enough, where “Constitutional” means what-we-say-it-means (Christian! Free enterprise!) and nothing else.

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Who knew that 100 years ago, we still had plenty in the “speak English or get out!” crowd? Anyone who’s read even a little history, I suspect. Hey, here’s a thought: speak Cherokee or get out!

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And here’s the one that made the paper and the TV news in Lubbock: a mostly-black spread of mugshots along with text implying that Obama supporters are lazy criminals. It’s definitely the most infuriatingly ignorant posting of the bunch — I can see why it was the last straw for Commissioner Flores, who had to look at this crap every day at work.

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And last but not least, three pages of hardcore birther crap. This posting begins, “Dear Christian Friend and Follower of Truth,” and leads the reader through the case for an apocalyptic new American civil war — “spiritual warfare” — based on the citizenship status of our President. I’m not even joking. This is what these people long for:

If the Supreme Court backs down, refuses to stand with the constitution of the U.S., then indeed our constitution will have been hijacked by godless usurpers. This will undoubtedly force the hand of militias, constitutionalists, and freedom fighters who will consider it their responsibility (under the constitution) to throw off the present government who abandons the constitution. This would be critical and there would be much blood shed in the streets of our own great nation.

(from the second picture above)

It’s inappropriate to use a County public notice board to post political opinion of any type. The fact that County Judge Tom Head felt the need to post political opinion from the far-right lunatic fringe takes us well beyond inappropriate and into the realm of outrage.

Update 8/14/2009: Just got word that there will be a press conference today at 3:00pm at Southwest Digest (902 E 28th St) regarding the Tom Head postings.


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