Archive for July, 2010

Intaxicating! Goodhair! LOLtroop!

For your Friday, enjoy a 3-for-1 edition of Lubbock Left.

First, a word on the sad joke that is trickle-down economics / supply-side economics. Check out The Word from Colbert, with possibly the best visualization of trickle-down economics I have ever witnessed. If you prefer slightly more serious fare, check out this column about the political genius of supply-side economics, which has allowed Republicans to claim that the only way to cut deficits is to cut spending (i.e. eliminate all the beneficial social programs they have always wanted to eliminate) while additionally claiming that taxing the rich for their fair share can’t possibly help. Uh huh.

Second, I want to make sure everyone is aware of the growing scandal surrounding Governor Goodhair’s land deal — essentially the same kind of corruption that got Blagojevich impeached up in Illinois. Perry’s land deal is pay-for-play at its finest: hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for nice appointments to Boards of Regents and so forth. This is a serious ethical torpedo that may sink Perry’s campaign.

Lastly, I want to pass on the story of HD85 Republican Candidate Jim Landtroop (LOLtroop?) Campaign’s misadventures at a LULAC scholarship picnic in Plainview last weekend. Pratt and the Plainview Herald have covered it already, but I’ve been talking to some of my friends who were at the event to get their perspective. Apparently, what really happened was that Landtroop did not pony up the requisite LULAC scholarship donation ($100-$300 usually) to be allowed to speak at the event. The whole LOLtroop entourage showed up anyway, campaign T-shirts a-blazin and video camera a-rollin. They were rightfully denied the chance to address the crowd from the mic because they did not donate to the scholarship fund, even though they could have donated on the spot and then be allowed to speak (as Andy Wilson’s campaign did, for example). Instead they got the joy of being heckled (and rightfully so) by the MC as they tried to work the crowd without donating to the scholarship fund. It’s not like the Landtroop Campaign is short on funds — Republican PAC money has been flowing in from around the state, and the Landtroop campaign is even in the process of hiring paid campaign staffers. They could have easily spared $100 for the worthy cause of a scholarship fund, but they chose not to.

What a week it’s been! Republicans have been in top form. I really do think it’s going to be a good November for Democrats at every level.

Hank Gilbert in Lubbock

I attended Democratic Party candidate for Ag Commissioner Hank Gilbert’s press conference Wednesday on my lunch break. The purpose of Hank’s stop in Lubbock was to unveil his bold plan to reform the Texas Department of Agriculture. There are a few main points that I want to emphasize:

1) Put the TDA in charge of Texans’ food safety, period. Hank calls for a single agency — the TDA — to take responsibility for inspecting food products at every stage of transportation and even into the grocery stores themselves. Given the unfortunate peanut incident an hour north of here, I think food safety ought to be on everyone’s mind. Hank seems to be the only candidate with an idea of how to improve our food safety.

2) Stop ripoffs at the gas pump. Weights and Measures, one of the primary responsibilities of the Ag Commissioner, is an aspect of the TDA that has weakened over the years. For example, prior to 1989, gas pumps had to be inspected annually to demonstrate that they work correctly. Now, that rate of inspection has slid to once every four years. That basically gives carte blanche to gas stations to rip people off for years at a time if they want. Hank proposes an “inspection every two years” plan, with stations that fail or have complaints inspected annually. Sensible consumer protection, in my opinion.

3) Reform the TDA. There are several key reforms lumped into this category, actually. Hank advocates for folding some smaller related agencies into TDA (e.g. Forest service, Texas Wildlife Services, Texas Animal Health Commission). He also wants to create an independent Office of Inspector General whose job it would be to represent the TDA in legal matters and to audit the TDA from within. Additionally, Hank supports the passage of the Limited Agricultural Cooperatives Act, which would make it easier for rural Texans to form agricultural coops.

Give Hank Gilbert’s full plan a read yourself and to see the vision that Hank Gilbert has for leading the TDA into the 21st century.

CIUDAD Vigil Followup

Citizens in United Discourse Against Discrimination (CIUDAD) had a successful event Tuesday night (FOX coverage), bringing out 50-60 citizens opposed to the new Arizona law about to go into effect. There were two counter-protesters off to the side. All were peaceful.

Daniel, the President of the CIUDAD group, invited anyone who wanted to speak to say a few words. When my turn came, I invited everyone to check out the summary of the United States’ lawsuit against the State of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer (pdf). I extend that same invitation to my readers here: the introductory summary makes a very clear case why the new AZ SB1070 is unconstitutional. (I also found some useful commentary on the federal suit.) I now believe that the case against AZ SB1070 is so clear-cut that future history textbooks will use it as an example of an enumerated powers Federal smackdown of epic proportions.

Some of the spontaneous stories from around the circle of vigil-goers really affected me on an emotional level. One elderly couple spoke of being profiled and harassed by police. One recent high school graduate from Lubbock who was planning to attend Arizona State University has canceled her enrollment there and will attend Texas Tech instead because of the Arizona law. One older woman spoke of overhearing two Hispanic children talking to each other: “If this law passes, you’re a goner!” while pointing at their brown skin.

I also want to applaud the organizers for the choice of a candlelight vigil, which is what the group concluded with. The thing about a candlelight vigil that’s so special is that a few people will light their candles with matches or lighters that they brought, and then others will light their own candles from those first lit candles, then more will light their candles from the second people, and so forth. This is a living metaphor for what grassroots organizing is. A few people get the spark, and then a few more people get the light from them, and on and on.

And it’s never to late to join in.

Events Galore!

As the campaign season heats up, political events will arrive more frequently here on the South Plains. Let’s look at a few.

As I mentioned before, Tuesday 7/27 (say, that’s today!) is the CIUDAD candlelight vigil in opposition to Arizona SB 1070 and similar laws being considered in other states. The vigil will take place at Higginbotham Park (on 19th St between Quaker and Slide) from 8pm-9pm. Bring your own candle if you can (and your own chair if you like).

On Wednesday 7/28 (say, that’s tomorrow!), Democratic Party candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Hank Gilbert will be in town. He’ll be speaking at Lubbock County Democratic Party Headquarters, 2809A 74th St (behind the Science Spectrum) at 1:30pm. He’s one of the most exciting and engaging statewide candidates I’ve seen, definitely worth your time if you can get free.

Also, I want to plug the Democratic Party rally taking place the evening of August 15th at Clapp Park. This is a catered event (J+M BBQ!) with live music (the Texas BelAirs, I believe). It’s free to show up and enjoy the festivities, but if you want to eat you will need a ticket. You can get BBQ tickets for $5 at LCDP HQ, 2809A 74th St. Local Democratic Party candidates will speak to the crowd, and Democratic Party candidate for Lt. Governor Linda Chavez-Thompson will headline the event.

And lastly, I want to leave y’all with a quote (I won’t put it in the comments like Mister Con does) to think about before the CIUDAD vigil:

One truth must rule all we think and all we do. No people can live to itself alone. The unity of all who dwell in freedom is their only true defense. The economic need of all nations — in mutual dependence — makes isolation an impossibility; not even America’s prosperity could long survive if other nations do not prosper. No nation can longer be a fortress, alone and strong and safe. And any people seeking such shelter for themselves can now build only their own prison.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Second Inaugural Address, Jan 1957

Que Linda!

Netroots Nation — the nation’s top progressive blogger conference — has just wrapped up its 2010 Convention in Las Vegas. The Keynote Speaker to close it out was none other than Texas’ own Linda Chavez-Thompson, Democratic Party candidate for Lt. Governor.

And she gave one hell of a speech. (dKos, BOR)

Linda tells her story of growing up around Lubbock, having to drop out in the 9th grade to help support her family pick cotton. Through hard work she became the first woman of color to serve as an Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. She also discusses what sparked her desire to run for office. (Hint: it involves a bookstore, which is one reason I find her a fascinating candidate…) She lays it all out too: Republican hypocrisy in “balancing” the state budget with Federal money while refusing Federal aid for extended unemployment insurance, Texas’ declining rankings in just about every measure of success while Republicans have been in charge, and a Texas Republican Party Platform opposed to improving public education through such obvious and necessary steps as universal pre-K.

Watch the speech to learn what Que Linda! is all about.

Mark your calendars, because Linda Chavez-Thompson will be speaking to a Democratic Party rally here in Lubbock on the evening of August 15th. More details to follow as the event draws near.

TexansForLinda.com

Tea Party Randy

Well, it’s official.

Our Congressman has joined the inaugural roster of the Tea Party caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by none other than that lunatic Michelle Bachmann.

The initial Tea Party caucus membership reads like a who’s-who of Republican extremism and poor decorum: BP’s #1 fan “Smokey Joe” Barton, Joe “You lie!” Wilson, Louie “Terrorist Babies” Gohmert, and of course Randy “Baby Killer” Neugebauer. And of course Texas Congressmen make up 25% of the new caucus. Yay us.

I find interesting that, loony as Bachmann is, she is wise enough to put distance between her new caucus and the actual Tea Party groups out there. To me, this screams, “We don’t want to be associated with you rabble, but we sure would like your votes!”

At least Randy has identified himself as self-marginalized. Now Lubbock voters can feel better about booting him out and voting in Andy Wilson in November.

Bush’s Brain Brings Big Bucks

Politico notes that Karl “Turdblossom” Rove along with “Enron Ed” Gillespie are leading the charge of unregulated corporate money into the campaign process. Get ready for targeted lies delivered with total anonymity, thanks to the gobs of anonymous money — currently at just over $5 million but estimated to total $50 million by November — flowing into their organization.

Free Speech vs Corporate Speech

What will they do with all that dirty money? With the Sherrod smear now thoroughly debunked, and along with other recently exposed right-wing lies like the ACORN pimp videos, we have a very clear idea of what kind of mischief that right-wing political operatives are capable of in the current political climate. Picture Andrew Breitbart with 50 million dollars and even fewer ethical inclinations and you get the idea of what’s coming next.

My regular readers know by now that I try to look for the silver lining even in dire circumstances. In this case, we can take some comfort in the fact that the Sherrod smear campaign was debunked within 24-48 hours. With a proper amount of vigilance, research, and spreading-the-word on our part, we CAN shut down the inevitable storm of lies and smears from Rove and Gillespie’s latest political venture.

Let’s learn our lesson from Breitbart’s big bamboozlement and beat “Bush’s Brain” in November.

Tea Party Followup

I was asked in the comments of yesterday’s post to produce some evidence of racist Tea Party signs. Here are a bunch of them:

Sign 1
Sign 2
Sign 3
Sign 4
Sign 5
Sign 6
Sign 7
Sign 8
Sign 9
Sign 10
Sign 11
Sign 12
Sign 13
Sign 14
Sign 15
Sign 16
Sign 17

And that was just with a little bit of looking. I am sure there are more out there.

Perhaps surprisingly, I want to add two points that speak in favor of the Tea Party movement (such as it is):

1) I have seen many photos of Tea Party signs AGAINST racism. I think the racist presence within the Tea Party is almost certainly a minority, but it’s significant enough to be a legitimate concern. The NAACP acted correctly to write a letter asking the Tea Party to stand against the racist elements within it. (You can sign the NAACP pledge against hate here.)

2) Over time, I believe there are fewer racist Tea Party signs. Perhaps they really are cleaning up their act; I sincerely hope that is the case.

Starting today, there is an official Tea Party caucus in the House. For better or for worse, the Tea Party has now made itself a legislative force at the national level. I think it will be fascinating to see which Republicans join the caucus and which do not…

The Mad Tea Party

The March Hare and the Mad Hatter are going their separate ways.

Mad Tea Party

The National Tea Party and the Tea Party Express are splitting up due to the over-the-top parody letter written to the NAACP by the TP Express leader Mark Williams (non-Fox link… thanks, MrDeacon!). I actually think this a positive step for whatever this coalition of Tea Party groups is calling itself to take, if a little late. At least someone in the bizarre structure of Tea Party hierarchy realizes that overt racism doesn’t help their cause.

However.

The political right has a chronic problem understanding what racism is and how it works, which is why they are at best clumsy on issues of race.

Racism, like many -isms, boils down to a power relationship distilled from historical, cultural, and economic factors. It’s true that a white person can be racist toward a black person, and it’s true that a black person can be racist toward a white person. However, it is MORE offensive for someone on the winning end of a power relationship to mistreat someone on the losing end of a power relationship than the other way around. That bit of the ethics of power is the simple truth of racism that the right completely misses. As long as we live in a world of white privilege (and we still do), a racist white (majority) person will always be more objectionable than a racist minority person. Sorry white people, that’s just how it is.

The 99.9% white Tea Party, crying reverse racism when there are well-documented racist elements within its ranks, is wasting its time and sounding defensive to boot by spending excessive media time on the “New Black Panther Party” and by attacking the legitimate criticisms of the NAACP. The “New Black Panther Party” is 10 or so idiots with a crappy website. The Tea Party is (they claim) a national movement with serious right-wing PAC/501 money behind it. Hmm, now which one is the bigger deal?

To be fair, the irrelevant “New Black Panther Party” is clearly acting racist. But, even the biggest bogus bogeyman of right-wing reverse racism can’t change the fact that when white people act racist, it’s automatically worse.

Next Tuesday: Candlelight Vigil Against Discrimination

Next week, local grassroots group CIUDAD will hold a candlelight vigil in opposition to the Arizona SB1070 law and any attempt to introduce a similar law here in Texas.

From the CIUDAD announcement:

Two days before the AZ immigration law goes into effect, we will hold a Candlelight Vigil Against the AZ Law on Tue., July 27 at 8-9pm at Higginbotham Park (19th St. between Quaker and Slide). We want to witness against the discrimination and violation of civil rights in this law, even as TX legislators are planning to introduce it in the next session.

Bring a chair if you need it and your own candle (if you don’t have one, we’ll have some there.)

Event sponsored by Lubbock’s CIUDAD, Citizens In United Discourse Against Discrimination.
Please forward this to anyone you know who may be interested.

I am not an organizer of CIUDAD as some of my readers have suggested, but I am proud to participate in their events. I hope to see you in eight days at the vigil.


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