Archive for February, 2010

Coffee Party!

Sick of tea parties?

How about a coffee party movement!

I was excited to hear about the Coffee Party USA website a few days ago, and equally excited friends of mine have been contacting me about it over the past few days as well.

The basic idea is this: form a grassroots group of people who want to be involved in their own governance because they believe we can solve some of our problems through good government. From their about page:

We are diverse — ethnically, geographically, politically, in age and in experience.

We are 100% grassroots. No lobbyists here. No pundits. And no hyper-partisan strategists calling the shots in this movement. We are a spontaneous and collective expression of our desire to forge a culture of civic engagement that is solution-oriented, not blame-oriented.

We demand a government that responds to the needs of the majority of its citizens as expressed by our votes and by our voices; NOT corporate interests as expressed by misleading advertisements and campaign contributions.

We want a society in which democracy is treated as sacrosanct and ordinary citizens participate out of a sense of civic duty, civic pride, and a desire to contribute to society. The Coffee Party is a call to action. Our Founding Fathers and Mothers gave us an enduring gift — Democracy — and we must use it to meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

Anyone want to start a Lubbock chapter?

(I do a gazillion things already, so I won’t be organizing this one. But, I will gladly attend!)

On a somewhat related note, I may have found a new favorite T-Shirt.

Ignoring the Homeless

On Thursday, the Lubbock City Council voted 4-3 to ignore the homeless situation in our city.

Thank you Councilman Klein for introducing the resolution to form a committee to evaluate the homeless situation in Lubbock. Thank you also Council members DeLeon and Price for supporting the resolution.

To the rest of the Council: what were you thinking?

This is the most willful head-in-the-sand moment I can recall. Sure, the City Council has ignored the recommendations from citizen committees in the past, but now they don’t even want to form a committee in the first place. Advisory committees don’t cost anything, so why not form one? How can Council members Beane et al make final pronouncements about what our city government can and cannot do without even studying the problem?

The A-J article covering the Council’s vote is online, and the discussion on that article has already fleshed out some of the main positions. Here’s Councilman Beane from that article:

“What do homeless people need?” Beane asked. “They need shelter. We don’t need a committee to study it to death.”

What proud ignorance! Homelessness is more than a question of roofs over heads. How about finding out why people are homeless in the first place? How about connecting homeless people with existing social programs that might be able to help? How about City/County/State cooperation?

What about grants?

What about tax breaks for businesses that provide food or shelter to the homeless?

What about any outside-the-box thinking at all?

This is a fundamental flaw of conservatism, by the way: a lack of imagination and vision when it comes to problem solving. The conservative impulse is to say “not my problem” and move on. Conservatism applied on a society-wide scale means that “not my problem” becomes “not our problem,” which is a recipe for disaster.

Applied on a Lubbock-wide scale, “conservative” “leadership” has resulted in a volunteer community that is struggling to keep up with huge social problems like homelessness largely without government support.

Churches and volunteer organizations are showing great leadership on the issue of homelessness. It’s a shame that 4 members of the Lubbock City Council won’t do the same.

Domestic Terrorism

Today an angry citizen flew his plane into an IRS (and other folks) office building in Austin in an act of domestic terrorism.

Plane crash into an IRS building in Austin, TXWhen the story first broke on, a reader going by lubbock57 put a mirrored link to the original webpage of Joseph Stack’s rant/suicide note online in the comments. Thanks to this person for a useful service to citizen journalism.

Bob Moser over at the Texas Observer has probably the most balanced take on it. There are elements from the guy’s suicide note that appeal to those on the left as well as on the right.


Which end of the political spectrum has pundits irresponsibly inciting their listeners to violence?

Which side gins up as much faux-populist anger as they can for short-term political gain?

Which side treats taxes as the highest concern and money as the highest good while ignoring systematic problems of social justice?

In the end, this sad episode of plane-into-building is the work of a crazy person, or at least a person who snapped. But, as with all terrorist acts, there is a rational component in pursuit of a political goal. It’s not hard to spot the goal, the rationale, or which end of the political spectrum it came from.

The Jobs Picture

A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Job Loss 2007-2010

Sometimes, to cut through the Gordian details of a debate, we need an Alexandrian chart.

This is the one.

We can argue all day over whether a “saved job” counts as job growth, but it’s clear from the chart to the left that the Recovery Act is working.

Now, we need to get a strong jobs bill through Congress, and hopefully it will be one that focuses on what worked best from the Recovery Act.

And since I’m enjoying the power of image today, have one more:

(I heartily recommend the other web comics at by the way.)

HD84 Candidate Forum

Last night KCBD and the League of Women Voters of Lubbock County (nonpartisan) put on a candidate forum for Texas House District 84 candidates. I highly recommend watching the hour-long video of the forum in its entirety. It’s rare that Lubbockites get such an unfiltered and unbiased look at candidates from both parties, especially this early in the campaign process.

The race for HD84 is the most competitive local race, and will remain so to the end. I believe that Carol Morgan demonstrated her knowledge and compassion in this forum. She also offered clear differences. For example, check out the candidate responses to the question about “Race to the Top” education funds about 15 minutes in. When the rubber hits the road, no one in the Republican Party really seems serious about improving public education.

Carol’s strong stance against wasteful privatization of government services is also refreshing. Thanks to effective marketing by special interests, the idea is out there that private industry is automagically more efficient and more accountable than government. These claims are demonstrably false. Look at the recent trouble with the Texas contract with Evercare, or the recent disaster of privatizing CHIP administration. How many more privatization horror stories are out there?

I think Carol can hold her own against whichever of the Rs emerges from their primary (and most likely their primary runoff as well).

I also want to draw attention to Andy Wilson’s latest newsletter. See especially the “Old School for a New Century” section. Again, he writes these insightful and inspiring newsletters himself.

It’s a good time to be a Democrat in Lubbock, TX.

Carol Morgan Website Launch

Carol Morgan, Democratic Candidate for Texas House District 84, has her campaign website up and running!

Carol is already comfortable with new media tools (Carol Morgan facebook, Carol Morgan twitter), but her new website provides a consolidated way for her to connect with supporters. The website has her platform, qualifications, and opportunities for you to volunteer. Also, she writes regular blog posts on her campaign website, making her the most accessible HD84 candidate by a wide margin.

And of course, the always-important online fundraising via actblue is available as well.

If you’re sick of the Republican crop of HD84 candidates and their pissing match to see who is the furthest to the fringe right, then Carol’s website will be a welcome change.

Linda DeLeon To Resign

Monday morning District 1 Councilwoman Linda DeLeon announced that she will not seek reelection (A-J story, KCBD story).

Linda is a fantastic organizer and leader, and I’m sad to see her leave the council. But, she’s right: 24 years of public service is a long time, and the next generation of leadership needs to emerge.

The talk radio crowd and other outside-of-district-1 interests may imagine that they had some hand in her resignation. That’s not how I see it. As much as they liked to beat up on her, she beat them every time. In the end, she is leaving office on her terms, not theirs.

My prediction for the future of City Council District 1 is that Victor Hernandez will win the election in May. For me, the silver lining in this announcement is that I won’t have to see two friends of mine run against each other.

Best wishes to Linda and good luck with whatever comes next!

A New Lease on Solar Energy

My friend John M. showed me some resources about a growing trend for handling the economics of solar energy through leasing.

Here are the links:

A good overview blog bost about leasing solar panels

Solar City

Citizenrē ReNU

Cooler Planet — hooks people up with contractors

1BOG — organizes community solar projects

Solar panels with no money down? The power savings cover the lease payments? Sign me up!

Of course, there’s one problem — no solar panel installation company in Lubbock. It still boggles my mind to consider that our closest solar installer is in Amarillo (Earth Solar). Lubbock is such a sunshine-rich place; a solar panel installation company would make a ton of money here. I can’t believe that some entrepreneur hasn’t started a Lubbock solar panel installation business yet.

At any rate, I’m glad to see the green energy industry beginning to adapt to the real economic situation of most Americans.

Bipartisanship in a Time of Crisis

By now, you’ve probably heard about President Obama’s recent question-and-answer session with Congressional Republicans. It’s worth watching (or listening if you’re at work) for yourself to see how our President handles a bunch of childish talking points with balance and wisdom.

Here are two places you can watch it online:

Huffington Post (also features highlights)

The exchange reminds me of British or Canadian politics, where leaders spar congenially like this all the time. I think such debate is great, and we need more of it.

Interestingly enough, Democratic Congressional (TX-19) candidate Andy Wilson wrote his latest newsletter about bipartisanship BEFORE this now-famous Presidential Q&A happened. It’s called “Bipartisanship in a Time of Crisis,” and the message speaks to our West Texas values:

We have a long tradition of this kind of responsible representation by men of strong principle like Charlie Stenholm, George Mahon and Omar Burleson, giants who took our West Texas values to Washington and who were not afraid to work across the aisle to get things done on behalf of their constituents.

In contrast to this cooperative approach based solidly on West Texas values of sound policies, limited but good government and hard work, it pains me to see the comparatively narrow and partisan views taken by my prospective opponents. In the general election coming up next fall, we will have an opportunity to contrast the West Texas values of hard work and reaching across the aisle as pursued by the great West Texas Democrats of this area with those of the current office-holder and the other challenger for this office.

(my emphasis)

The bums we need to vote out are the ones who have made a career out of getting in the way of not only progress but also dialogue. We must reclaim the ability to debate constructively with each other at the national level. It’s essential to democracy, and we’re losing it because the GOP leadership refuses to join an adult discussion.

By the way, there is now a new Twitter feed to unite Democrats across the 19th Congressional District of Texas. Check it out.

Andy Wilson’s website:

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