Archive for August, 2010

AFIIG Immigration Forum: Decent

I’ll have more to say about the AFIIG Immigration Forum on the show tomorrow, but I want to get a few thoughts down before I crash for the night.

1) Lubbock Bishop Placido Rodriguez had the words of wisdom to guide us through our immigration reform discussion: remember to put a face on it. Recognizing human dignity is essential to the process, and as we remember our shared humanity, it will enhance — not harm — our security as well. I admire the Catholic Church’s position on immigration; it’s humane, ethical, and within the law of the land.

2) Immigration is a very complex issue. The following issues are all caught up in the immigration mix as well as being complex issues in their own right: border security, employers who habitually hire illegal immigrants, family splitting/uniting, birthright citizenship, economic and social conditions in Mexico, cartel violence, U.S. drug demand, U.S. gun exports into Mexico, NAFTA, detention/deportation of illegal immigrants, immigration legal complexity (e.g. quotas and categories), judicial discretion (lack of, really) in the immigration courts, jurisdictional/constitutional boundaries, taxes and who pays them (illegal immigrants pay more taxes than people generally think, especially in Texas), immigration policy history, and the question of what is US culture.

3) Todd Klein should be commended for filling in at the last minute for Alberto Gonzales, who backed out of being on the panel to moderate it instead. I don’t agree with everything Todd said on the panel, but he took on the tough audience questions that other panel members were silent about.

The event as a whole had an OK turnout, but it’s hard to get a lot of people to turn out for a public forum (especially on the first day of TTU classes). I sympathize with the organizers in that regard. However, I think the immigration debate as a whole is a distraction intended to keep us from focusing on other, more pressing issues. But hey, public forums are a tried-and-true way to do issue advocacy, and AFIIG clearly wants to push that issue.

Also, did anyone go to the Randy Neugebauer town hall this morning? I couldn’t attend, so I’d love to hear how it went. I sure hope someone asked him about that damn yacht and how he got $7 million richer while in Congress.

TX GOP: Afraid to Debate, But Eager to Get Paid

Just as Politifact gives Rick Perry a “pants on fire” rating for the laughable claim that White refuses to debate Perry (on the contrary: Perry has refused numerous debate invitations from White), we are seeing the same cowardice from Texas Republicans up and down the ballot. Perry won’t even meet with newspaper editorial boards, and it’s now hard to get TV media within 100 feet of the man. One gaffe too many, perhaps? Too many uncomfortable questions about shady land deals or pay-to-play appointments to every single by-appointment office?




Congressman Randy Neugebauer will not debate Andy Wilson (D) or Chip Peterson (L). But, he can spare a whole hour for his Lubbock constituents at a town hall on Thursday. Maybe he’ll even take a question or two. Maybe. (I hope someone will ask how he made over 7 million dollars while serving as a Congressman, and why he needs a million dollar yacht to represent West Texas.)




On the State House front, (Charles) Perry, Frullo, and Landtroop will appear at Tea Party / AFIIG meetings together, but that’s about it. At the recent redistricting meeting, part of the official proceedings of the Texas redistricting committee, Perry, Frullo, and Landtroop all refused to speak on the record about redistricting, despite Rep. Delwin Jones practically begging them to do so.

Well, not to worry. If elected, these three could follow the Carl Isett path: do nothing, retire early, and get paid to be a lobbyist.






This is the Texas GOP way: keep your head down, do whatever the special interests that got you elected say, and get paid.

Redistricting Looms

Today the Texas redistricting panel met with its largest crowd yet, according to the A-J. We have some screwy districts out here (including TX-19, quite possibly the most gerrymandered district in the state), so I’m not surprised that a record number of people had something to say to the panel.

Check out the latest from Democratic Party candidate for HD84 Carol Morgan, summarizing her testimony before the redistricting panel this afternoon:

I have learned as both a parent and as an educator, that when you have two spoiled children fighting over one toy, you take the toy away. Jeff Wentworth, a Republican Senator, in 2009, attempted to pass a bill which would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of a bipartisan committee. This bill did not pass by one vote. Thirteen other states have done this, thus freeing up lawmakers for more important work that serves their constituents. I do hope that a new version of this bill passes in Texas before we have to revisit this issue in 2020. We need to take the toy away.

I would like to see lines across the Panhandle drawn more like my District 84, sensible, compact and competitive. But I have to say that the huge amputation that runs through the center of town, which was drawn to both prevent the election of one candidate and facilitate the election of another is not the way that representation should be drawn. Everyone knows full well why this was done, but no one talks about it. It’s the elephant in the room that everyone chooses to ignore.

If you cannot put aside differences to serve the people you pledged to serve, then shame on you, but most of all, shame on all of us for continuing to tolerate it.

I think Carol Morgan is correct in calling for a nonpartisan committee to take over the work of redistricting. We need to remove the conflicts of interest from the redistricting process. (On this morning’s radio show, we had a similar topic with the County Commission’s self-awarded raise. That obvious conflict of interest could be solved by having raises take effect for the next — not for the current — officeholders.) We can run around all day talking about “one man, one vote,” but everyone knows that districts tend to be drawn to favor the incumbent. Worse, precise targeting technology makes gerrymandering very efficient indeed.


Grand Old Perverts

Nothing too deep for today’s blog post — just a friendly reminder that the GOP is the party of moralizing hypocrites.

I stumbled across a handy list of sex scandals of Republicans and their allies. Of course, the article is from 2007 and does not include such stars as Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, David Vitter, and John Ensign. Even after striking some of those from the list that lack complete evidence, and even considering embarrassing Democratic sex scandals (e.g. Spitzer, Edwards, Clinton), I contend that the list of Democratic Party sex scandals from the last 20 years or so can’t even keep up.

I also learned that we spent more of our public money paying for the witch hunt against Bill Clinton (and Newt was guilty of the same adultery!) than we did investigating 9/11. Shameful.

Sex scandals from the Grand Old Party, the Party that tries to claim so crassly the mantle of morality, are that much worse for the hypocrisy involved.

The Estate Tax and the Social Contract

Had my first talk radio show co-host experience Monday morning. It’s a fun experience, and I enjoyed a spirited but civil discussion with the callers and with Wade and regular Monday guest Mike Ivey, an accountant.

There were several stand-out moments, and I want to share just one of them with you here today. We were talking about capital gains tax and the estate tax, both eternal targets of the Republicans. (The argument from the right goes something like: “these taxes punish success and hurt growth, so they should be done away with.”) I said something to the effect that an estate tax was OK because society lets people be rich, which got a bug-eyed reaction from Wade and Mike. So, I’m going to blog about it here in the hope that I can get my thoughts out more completely.

We forget the social contract. Out in the “state of nature,” material wealth is taken by force by whoever can take it. In civilized society, you keep the wealth you generate. Removing all pretense, the taxes paid on wealth are the cost of remaining in civilized society, and they are a bargain compared to the alternative of barbarism. This is a justification for progressive tax structures in general: the wealthier you are, the greater benefit provided by living in a civilized society.

Additionally, we forget the ways that we use our government to create an infrastructure for people to pursue material wealth in many forms. Our system of private property, our markets, and the corporation as a legal entity exist because we the people put them there and guarantee their existence through the force of our government. It is reasonable to expect some return to the public coffers in exchange for all these wealth-generating tools provided by the government.

With the estate tax in particular, there has always been a faction of those wealthy and powerful people who essentially want to take it with them, establishing their own legacy. We don’t need kings and queens in America, but, once again, life (and death) in a civilized society makes legacy-establishment possible to a degree. So, it’s reasonable to collect a tax in exchange. (Also, I typically find it hard to talk about the estate tax with people, because it’s easy to get either emotional when death is involved.)

At any rate, some topics go deeper than you can get in the fast pace of a morning talk show with lots of callers (great calls, by the way!), and this is one of them.


Lubbock Left on the Radio!

Exciting news! Starting today, I will be the new co-host of the Wade Wilkes Morning Show on KRFE AM 580 with the man himself. The show is a caller-friendly, conversational format discussing the issues of the day; it airs Monday-Friday 7:00am-8:30am. The Wade Wilkes show is the longest-running political/commentary show in West Texas (16 years!), and has typically done a good job of offering a balance of viewpoints. I am proud to add my liberal/progressive viewpoint to that tradition.

There is no streaming audio of the show at this time, but podcasts are available at later on each morning.

I hope my debut will not have me with a hoarse voice. Sunday night I cheered for our Democratic candidates (along with 350 or so fellow West Texas Democrats) at the Democratic Party rally at Clapp Park here in Lubbock. The speakers included Carol Morgan, Andy Wilson, Lubbock Central Labor Council President Billy Martinez, former Lubbock Mayor David Langston (for Bill White), and Linda Chavez-Thompson, Democratic Candidate for Lt. Governor. Food, fun, and fellowship was enjoyed by all.

Time to gargle some salt water and get ready for drive time!

GOP: 40 Years of Wrecking the Economy

I found a fascinating article about the former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan who explains how Republican Party economic ideology has pushed us to the brink of a “New American Apocalypse.”

Here are the core principles of GOP economic folly:

* taking US currency off of the gold standard
* spending on borrowed money (when not necessary)
* deficits don’t matter when you cut taxes
* supply-side economics (to explain the previous point)
* essentially putting Wall Street in charge of our government (and, increasingly, our daily lives)
* encouraging our manufacturing to move offshore
* increasing disparity between the economic classes

This guy Stockman is no Keynesian, but he has, I believe, a strong explanation why and how the warped economic policies of the GOP over the last four decades are leading us to ruin.


Campaigning: Who and Why

Much ado has been made about the fact that President Obama and Bill White did not meet yesterday, despite being a mere 300 miles apart.

I have a few questions.

1) Who is George W Bush campaigning for this election season? He and Darth Cheney both have been AWOL from American politics as far as I can tell. In contrast, President Bill Clinton is already hitting the campaign trail for fellow Democrats.

2) Which Republicans are campaigning on a platform other than returning to the dead-end policies of the Bush Administration? All you hear from Republicans is how they don’t like Obama. What you’re not hearing is what they were for when they were in power: free money for the ultra-rich, lax regulation, endless wars, and so forth.

3) Have we forgotten Election 2008? The fundraiser headlined by President Obama yesterday should provide a lesson to our friends on the right: be careful what you wish for. Obama in full-on campaign mode is a force you cannot beat, remember?

For those of us on the left, don’t worry: the political right will attack Obama no matter what. They would attack him if he campaigned with Bill White, they (obviously) will attack him if he doesn’t campaign with Bill White. They will attack him for turning the economy around. They will attack him for achieving peace. They will attack him for succeeding where they failed.

Bill White needs to get his message to Texas voters, including those who have been bombarded by 3 years of the most extreme anti-Obama rhetoric. It’s unfortunate that they won’t campaign side-by-side, but that’s politics.

Democratic Rally Sunday!

This Sunday evening, August 15th, the Lubbock County Democratic Party will host a campaign rally and picnic featuring Linda Chavez-Thompson, our Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. The event starts at 7:00pm at Clapp Park, 42nd Street and Avenue U.

It is only $5.00 to have a full plate of BBQ, hear Linda speak, and hear the music of the Texas BelAirs.

There are two ways to get tickets:
1. Call Democratic Party HQ at 806-749-8683 and order tickets over the phone. Pick them up in person at 2809A 74th Street any weekday from 1:00pm-4:30pm or by appointment.
2. Go online to our secure ActBlue page, pay by credit card, and print out your tickets.

Regardless of whether you’re eating BBQ, the event itself is free and open to the public. Our local candidates, including Andy Wilson and Carol Morgan will speak as well. Please bring your own lawn chair (and bring your friends!).

Hope to see you there!

Stuff the Bus!

It’s time once again for the South Plains Food Bank’s annual Stuff the Bus school supplies drive. This year’s goal is ambitious and more necessary than ever: to give out 4500 bags of school supplies, 20% more than last year.

You can donate school supplies, money, or food at all area United Supermarkets this weekend, throughout the week, and next weekend. Look for the big “Stuff the Bus” barrels near the entrance.

Lubbock Area Young Democrats will be taking donations for Stuff the Bus Saturday 8/7 from 10am-2pm at the United at 82nd and Boston Ave. We will be out again at the same time/place on Saturday 8/14. Stop by, say hi and donate some school supplies!

If you can’t make it by United, you can donate online at

Let’s work together to give Lubbock area schoolchildren what they need to succeed in school this year!

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