09.22.14

The Neglect Of Public Education In Texas Will Not End Anytime Soon

Posted in Commentary, Education, Public Schools at 9:53 am by wcnews

teacherimage

Texas is not a state known for being proactive when it comes to public education.  Neglect and procrastination is the strategy.  Texas, almost always, does nothing on this issue until the courts force The Lege to act.  And we’re in the middle of that process once again.

This post from Quorum Report paints a pretty dismal picture for the future of education funding in Texas, Road to school finance solution looks bleak.

Session after session, lawmakers have avoided adding new money to the school finance system and even limited school district tax increases. Now the hole is so huge that it is impossible to find a solution in the state’s typical bag of tricks. The proceeds from the tobacco settlement or additional vice taxes won’t be enough.

The target revenue solution of 2006 was a temporary agreement between state leaders and education leaders, but District Judge John Dietz noted in his opinion it has done nothing but widen revenue gaps between districts. The excess of the state’s Rainy Day Fund would barely prop up the system for a year. And Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, continues his drum beat during hearings in which he insists that Texas cannot bond its way to economic prosperity. Bonding is finite, not infinite.

This is not a $3 billion Medicaid shortfall or $5 billion infusion for TxDOT, which almost seems doable. This is $10 billion plus growth, plus allotment formulas that haven’t been updated in decades. In essence, what lawmakers are doing is creating a budget log jam.

As it stands, a real solution seems a bigger problem than either the Democrats or Republicans can handle. It is one thing to talk about restoring a one-time $5.3 billion cut. Economic growth can cover that. It’s another thing to recognize the state has no obvious revenue source to prop up schools to the tune of $10 billion a biennium.

There’s is no one in office or currently running for office that is proposing a real plan to fix public education in Texas.  All candidates are proposing to do something, but nothing that will significantly change public education funding.

To fully understand what happened and why, the GOP tax swap scheme of 2006 must enter the conversation, Understanding the budget and Texas’ structural deficit.

The driving factor is a decision by Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature in 2006 to reduce property taxes by $14 billion every two years and raise only about $9 billion to replace that money. In other words, the Legislature committed $5 billion every two years to holding down property taxes instead of spending that money on education, public safety or other priorities.

Then the state’s new business tax brought in drastically less than projected, and that $5 billion gap turned into a nearly $9 billion gap. Lawmakers from both parties did little to address that reality when they met in 2009, and in fact they made the gap a little wider by exempting 40,000 small businesses from the new tax.

It’s disingenuous to blame Democrats for what happened in 2009, they held no real power in state government then. Where Democrats are to blame, then as now, is not offering a clear and different solution from the GOP. There’s a reason for that. The only solution to this problem involves raising taxes and making them fair, which means a state income tax. It’s not likely the public education finance issue in Texas will ever be solved without a state income tax.

The QR story never mentions an income tax, and it would have been a surprise if it did.  The issue also cannot be solved as long as our state government is run by right wing ideological extremists that have it out for public education.

More from the earlier post:

Essentially what all of this shows is that much of Texas’ deficit was pre-determined, no matter how the overall economy in Texas and our country overall has been functioning. And while our governor is on TV telling us how many times he “cut” taxes, he won’t say anything about the structural deficit he signed into law in 2006. And Perry’s GOP opponents are quick to chastise him for the 2006 tax swap scheme because it raised taxes on corporations and some business, they don’t mention the fact that it created structural deficit. Probably because if they did they would have to say what the would do to fix it, and they don’t want to debate that.

As another CPPP report points out, “..Texas is a low-tax state, with a structural deficit.” If we want to educate our children it’s going to cost money. And it’s untrue, no matter how many times that guy with the good hair on TV says it, that Texas can provide the essential services to it’s people, do what’s morally right, allow them to live with dignity and have tax cuts too.

Texans have to realize that to fix this mess we can’t keep electing the same folks that created it. To fix it those in office would have to admit their ideology is failed, and that won’t happen. Only defeat at the ballot box can do that. And, unfortunately, it seems we’re still years away from enough Texans figuring that out.

TPA Blog Round Up (September 22, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 7:56 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes it had as much vacation time as Congress does as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlights the wit and hateful wisdom of Dr. Steven Hotze, one of the leading blights of the anti-gay movement in Texas.

Libby Shaw writing at Daily Kos believes there is a simple way to stop the controversial Tea Party candidate Dan Patrick from becoming the next Lt. Governor. Vote for Leticia. When Democrats vote Democrats win. How are we going to stop Dan Patrick? Easily. Vote for Leticia.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. While Texas has been prosperous in recent years, the prosperity is not being enjoyed by everyone. Abbott’s Message Is Good News For Corporations, Scraps For The Rest Of US.

The only constitutional amendment on the November ballot commits over a billion dollars a year to state highway maintenance from the Rainy Day Fund. Some think that’s a good idea, and some don’t. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks — with the help of Sen. Kirk Watson — that you should decide for yourself.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote that the recent terrible ambush shooting of Pennsylvania state troopers is believed to be the deed of an extreme anti-government individual. Neil says that police would be better served focusing on real threats than pepper-spraying Occupy Wall Street types or sending tanks to Ferguson, Missouri. APHV is one of many pages worthy of viewing at NeilAquino.com.

With the first General Election Gubernatorial Debate in 8 years, everyone can agree that it was an exciting week in Texas politics. Texas Leftist has a full review of the contest. Who knew Greg Abbott was such a compelling liar??

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas Blog presents a report showing the large impact that medical bills resulting from a visit to the emergency room can have.

The Texas Election Law Blog catches Greg Abbott playing the race card in the followup to the Houston Votes story.

Nonsequiteuse pushes back on sexist tropes in the latest iteration of the Wendy Davis divorce story.

Newsdesk reminds us that the allegations Wendy Davis is making about Greg Abbott in the Texas Youth Commission sexual assault scandal go way back, and the questions she’s raising have been raised before without being answered.

Grits puts the privately-run Bartlett State Jail on the list of facilities the Legislature might consider shuttering if they decide to close more prisons.

The TSTA Blog takes Texas Monthly‘s Erica Greider to task for buying into Republican flimflammery about funding cuts to public schools.

Stephanie Stradley tackles the complex question of what a sensible discipline policy for NFL players might look like.

Unfair Park highlights a video expose of crisis pregnancy centers, including one in Dallas.

Project Q Houston interviews Mel Gonzales, a transgender student who was named Homecoming King at his high school in Sugar Land.

09.19.14

Statesman Endorses Democrats Bucy and Osborn over GOP Incumbents

Posted in Election 2014, HD-136, HD-20, HD-52, Williamson County at 8:15 am by wcnews

In two Williamson County  house races the Austin American Statesman has endorsed Democratic challengers Chris Osborn (HD-52) and John Bucy (HD-136) over the GOP incumbents.  One big reason is the incumbents votes against public education, and continuing to neglect the needs of Texas, Change needed in some districts.

As the 28th fastest-growing county in the country, according to the latest census report, Williamson County faces significant challenges: from transportation to affordable energy; from education to job creation; and from financing infrastructure to maintaining a quality of life. Addressing those challenges takes strong leadership, and on Nov. 4, voters will have to determine whether the three incumbent state representatives in Districts 20, 52 and 136 have done enough for the area, or if it’s time for a change. In two of the three races, we believe a change is needed for Williamson County.

Both the GOP incumbents in these races voted for a voucher plan last session that ultimately failed.  Larry Gonzales (HD-52) went along with the extremists in the GOP in 2011 and “supported the massive education budget cuts”. They endorse Osborn stating:

Osborn, an attorney, wants to not only make public education a priority but also wants to help our state and local governments be more efficient and transparent, if he is elected. Though he is the underdog, Osborn understands planning for the future is the best way to address the issues of a fast-growing district. His willingness to work with both sides of the aisle should serve him well if elected.

In HD-136 they mainly take issue with Dale’s vote for a voucher program while leaving out his lying about his opponent. They endorse Bucy this way.

…Bucy has a vision to help fight for quality public education for all Texas children if he is elected. He has a multi-faceted approach for traffic solutions and understands that Williamson County needs to bring in more professional jobs to the area. He is a refreshingly strong candidate in a county that has struggled to mount a significant Democratic presence with viable candidates.

In the other district that includes Williamson County HD-20, (the reddest of the three districts), they endorse the incumbent Republican Marsha Farney over Democratic candidate Steve Wyman.  Farney may be the most sensible Republican of the three.

All three races include a Libertarian candidate.

09.18.14

Perry Is Out Of Touch On His Transportation Legacy

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Cronyism, Transportation at 11:57 am by wcnews

Rick Perry appears completely out of touch with the transportation situation in Texas, and how bad he screwed it up, (Remember the Trans-Texas Corridor?), Perry Touts Legacy to Toll Road Group.

Calling Texas “the mecca of innovation on transportation infrastructure,” Gov. Rick Perry touted the state’s approach to expanding roads without raising taxes in Tuesday morning remarks to the toll road industry.

Perry was the keynote speaker at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) annual conference, held this year in Austin.

“Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives,” Perry said to more than 400 conference attendees, most of whom were from outside of Texas. “What you do in your communities, and in transportation infrastructure, is how we will really turn this economy around in this country.”

In his speech, Perry touted his work in transportation during his 13-year tenure as governor, particularly his backing of a statewide proliferation of toll roads and his use of other financing tools to avoid raising taxes.

“We realized early on that pay-as-you-go wasn’t going to help us meet all of the requirements that we had as a state,” Perry said. “So we explored new ways of financing, including toll roads, but also ways in which we structure our budget and take advantage of historically low interest rates, all to ensure that money flows to these road construction projects and to maintenance.”

Spoken like someone who’s been chauffeured around Austin for the last 13 years.

He is right about one thing. The way we used to fund roads in Texas was chucked and replaced with a helter-skelter system of toll roads and cronyism. That most Texans see them as a tax increase anyway.

Most people in Texas hate the toll road schemes Perry and the GOP have instituted.  There are a litany of problems associated with toll roads in Texas.  They’re overpriced, poorly designed, needing a bailout, not easing congestion, and are full of billing snafu’s, to name a few.

It’s pretty easy to see now that if it wasn’t for the neglect of the last 20 years, just raising the gas tax and indexing it with inflation, would have been the best solution.

The upcoming proposition is a

It’s understandable that no one wants to pay more taxes.  But under the old system at least the tax money went to build roads.  Now the money is diverted to pay for budget shortfalls, or more likely goes to  corporate cronies of Texas politicians like Perry, to build the toll roads that go bankrupt and need a taxpayer bailout anyway.  I don’t know, maybe some people think that’s a better system?

Whichever you prefer it’s pretty obvious to most every Texan that Perry’s transportation legacy is not what he thinks it is.  We’re all still stuck in traffic over the ideological neglect we’ve been subjected to over the last 13 years.

Further Reading:

A few snippets from Tuesday’s Senate Tranportation Committee hearing in Austin on Tuesday, Texas lawmakers look for new ways to fund highways. This from the sole Texas Republican who is dealing with reality.

Frustration with the mounting debt — a significant portion of Texas’ total debt — boiled over in a Texas Senate committee hearing Tuesday morning to pave a way forward.

“We have basically run this state with debt on a credit card, and now we’ve maxed out the credit card,” said state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler). “All this talk of no new revenue the last ten years, and what have we done? We’ve mortgaged the future of this state. When you sell bonds it’s a tax on a future generation because we didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.”

“Now we’re in a mess because we’ve maxed out the credit card, and we’re going to sit here another six months talking about the need and never figure out a way to pay for it,” Eltife continued. “We’ve got to put this state back on a pay-as-you-go plan for all of state government. That’s a true balanced budget, not using debt every session to balance our books.”

And Leticia Van de Putte reminds us about the diversions.

Many lawmakers have also have voiced frustration over money collected from dedicated fees which has gone unspent. After sitting in on Tuesday morning’s hearing, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) told KVUE the practice must stop. “I think what Texans ought to be absolutely appalled at is the number of dedicated fees and taxes that are supposed to go to highways and to building of roads, when in fact they’re being diverted to certify the budget.”

09.16.14

Abbott’s Message Is Good News For Corporations, Scraps For The Rest Of US

Posted in Around The State, Election 2014 at 11:26 am by wcnews

Greg Abbott rolls across the Southwest in his latest TV ad he tries to make it seem like everything is fine and dandy in Texas.  The message of Abbott’s ad is that he’s not going to change a thing.  He will continue doing everything to feather the nest of corporations, while assuming that eventually things will get better for the rest of us. But history shows that won’t happen.

While Texas has been prosperous in recent years, the prosperity is not being enjoyed by everyone.  These headlines certainly show a different Texas then the one Abbott describes.

Texas’ Fast-Paced Growth Hasn’t Reduced Inequality.

Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional.

Biggest home insurers’ hefty hikes unchallenged by Texas commissioner.

Texas drinking water tainted by natural gas operations, scientists find.

Texas Payday Lenders Charging Even More in Fees.

New report shows surprise medical bills taking toll on Texans.

Inequality, education, rising home owners insurance, contaminated drinking water, unregulated loan sharks, and rising medical costs. These are the issues Abbott neglects to mention in his ad, but are needed by so many.

It’s a “two Texas” argument.  Those with a good paying job, or that are wealthy, are doing just fine.  But those not in either of those categories, trying to  make a better life for themselves and/or their family, are struggling mightily.  There are ways to fix all of those issues.  They include a fair tax system, expanding Medicaid,  and regulation of the insurance, payday lending, oil and gas corporations.

Abbott could give some hope to Texans struggling to make ends meet.  But instead it’s just more of the same. His message is, if we keep making things better for corporations and business one day – out of the goodness of their hearts – they’ll start paying their employees enough to live a middle class lifestyle.  I doubt many Texans struggling to make ends meet believe that.

Further Reading:
The economic cost of National Guard deployment.

09.15.14

TPA Blog Round Up (September 15, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 11:47 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance doesn’t need Congressional approval to bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the Wendy Davis internal poll and the thought process behind it.

Harold Cook demonstrates the dangers of posting in ignorance to official Facebook pages.

Libby Shaw now writing at Daily Kos hopes the smart sector of Texas wins over the willfully stupid. The battle over text books rages on. An Educated, Diverse and Tolerant TX vs. the Far Right and the Willfully Stupid.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson — born and raised in Palestine, Texas and now living in The Woodlands — found himself outside his community’s standards for child discipline (as determined by a Montgomery County grand jury). It was another black eye — bad pun intended — for the NFL. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs sarcastically wondered why fans of a violent game played by men with violent tendencies in a country that worships violence would have a problem with a four-year-old boy getting whooped with a switch.

Republican racism has its price. Too bad that the Rio Grande Valley is having to pay it. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that Perry’s deployment of the Texas National Guard is not just a racist stunt to boast Perry’s batshit crazy bonafides.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. If we aren’t getting the government we want, we still must vote. As Bad As Things Might Seem, Not Voting Only Makes It Worse.

Neil at Blog About Our Failing Money Owned American Political System posted about the strong race run by Zephyr Teachout against corrupt business-as-usual Governor Andrew Cuomo in the New York State Democratic Primary. BAOFMOAPS is one of a number of worthy pages to view at NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Texas Election Law Blog expresses its outrage at the “Greg Abbott crushes Houston Votes” story.

Grits for Breakfast explores the criminal justice implications of driverless cars.

Hair Balls observes that the demographics of Houston’s suburbs and the police departments of Houston’s suburbs are not alike.

Unfair Park thinks it may have found the greatest Rick Perry photo of all time.

The TSTA blog has a beef with Todd Staples over Meatless Mondays.

Keep Austin Wonky sees little parallel between the rail proposition on Austin’s ballot and Houston’s existing light rail lines.

Texas Clean Air Matters explains Elon Musk’s love-hate relationship with our state.

Nancy Sims is talking about domestic violence and what we need to do about it.

Nonsequiteuse has three ways to help Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte even if you don’t live in Texas.

The Lunch Tray has a problem with how “bake sales” are used to undermine efforts to improve the nutrition of food offered in schools.

09.13.14

The Crux Of The Problem

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary at 1:00 pm by wcnews

Democrats have been trying to solve the turnout problem in mid-term elections for a some time.  As I read the article below it became clear that the problem can be summed up like this: too many Democratic leaning voters see no real reason to show up to vote in mid-term elections.

These are not voters that have to be wooed to the Democratic side.  These are voters that agree with Democrats on the issues but are not compelled to show up on election day.  So we’re not talking about the mythical “undecided” voter.  But essentially Democrats that don’t vote.

Why Dem voters may not show up this fall.

What if a key part of the problem is that many of these voters simply don’t know that Democratic control of the Senate is at stake in this fall’s elections?

That sounds like a huge problem. If Democratic leaning voters don’t understand that there is something to lose in the upcoming election, then it’s not surprising they’re unlikely to show up on election day.

Here’s some data on a message that would likely get Democrats to the polls in November.

MoveOn’s polling memo summarizes some of the key messages about potential GOP control of the Senate that move them:

Should the GOP take control of the Senate, drop-off voters are most concerned that “Republicans will take away a woman’s right to choose and restrict access to birth control” (58 percent rank this very concerning), “Republicans will cut access to health care for 8 million people and let insurance companies refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions” (58 percent) and “Republicans will cut back workplace protections for women, denying equal pay for equal work” (57 percent)….

The top testing message overall emphasizes education, specifically Republicans’ efforts to cut programs for students while giving tax cuts to the wealthy (54 percent very convincing). This message is the strongest argument for coming out to vote in all of the states except Colorado…the message focusing on Republicans’ war on women is the second strongest in all states besides Colorado.

Variations of all these messages are being employed in many of these tough races.

More shocking stuff.  I you want to get people who don’t vote to the polls on election day, they must be given a reason to show up.  Not rocket science.

The other part of the article that’s most disheartening is that far too many non-voters don’t know how the government works.  They may not even understand that Democrats are currently in control and how losing that control will effect the way our government and their lives.  For those of us that follow politics this may seem impossible, but it’s true.  And from personal knowledge some of these people are well-educated and even work in government.

“We were exploring what would motivate them to turn out to vote,” Lake tells me. “One of the things that came up is that these drop-off voters had no idea that control of the Senate was even up for grabs and were even very confused about who controlled it. These voters are very representative of drop-off voters in a lot of states.”

That so many Americans are unaware of what’s at stake no longer surprises me. So many have dropped out of keeping up with their government, no matter the reason – and they’re numerous.

These voters feel that it makes no difference in their life if they vote. Removing their ignorance of how government operates and reminding them of the importance of their vote is the first threshold that must be crossed.  Showing them what’s at stake and that it has a personal effect on their lives is next step in the process of getting these people to the polls on election day.

It would seem key to the Democrats efforts going forward to make sure voters understand how important it is to them, personally, that Democrats are elected in November.

09.12.14

Don’t Let The Polling Get You Down – It’s OK If It’s Impossible

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2014 at 9:11 am by wcnews

This is not a post trying to make the case that these polls are wrong or fixed, and that things actually looking good for Wendy Davis and the Democrats in Texas. Because that’s impossible to know.  But to try and get away from focusing on polls  Even if Wendy Davis and the Democrats were to do better in November then the polls says, or even win, the same work must still being done.

There’s only one way Democrats will start winning again in Texas and that’s through sustained work, over the course of years, to change the electorate.  Even if  Democrats are not successful this election, the important and needed work for future success  must continue.

All we can do is keep organizing and keep reaching out to people.  The only way we have a chance is to get more people that don’t vote to the polls on election day.  And even though hat’s being done right now it won’t show up in any pre-election poll.  The only time those results will show up is when the votes are counted.

Whenever things are going right in this respect, this excerpt from a speech Bill Moyers a few years back always re-inspires me, It’s OK if it’s impossible.

But let’s be clear: Even with most Americans on our side, the odds are long. We learned long ago that power and privilege never give up anything without a struggle. Money fights hard, and it fights dirty. Think Rove. The Chamber. The Kochs. We may lose. It all may be impossible. But it’s OK if it’s impossible. Hear the former farmworker and labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez on this. The members of his Farm Labor Organizing Committee are a long way from the world of K Street lobbyists. But they took on the Campbell Soup Company – and won. They took on North Carolina growers – and won, using transnational organizing tacts that helped win Velasquez a “genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation. And now they’re taking on no less than R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and one of its principal financial sponsors, JPMorgan-Chase. Some people question the wisdom of taking on such powerful interests, but here’s what Velasquez says: “It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK!” Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen-something’s gonna happen.” [Emphasis added]

The “do something” means to work hard to change things and help people. That is what we will remember on our death bed and will endure after election day.  If we keep working hard we can accomplish that, no matter how an election turns out.

Kuff and PDiddie have the breakdown of the latest polls in this race. No poll has Davis in a great position. Again, hard work to change who shows up on election day is the only chance Democrats have of winning in November. And it’s OK if it seems impossible.

09.11.14

Iraq War III – No Good Options

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary at 12:18 pm by wcnews

There is no good option for what is going on in Iraq and Syria.  If you’re still on the fence read Dan Froomkin, News Organizations Finally Realize Obama’s War Plan Is a Hot Mess.

President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State counts on pretty much everything going right in a region of the world where pretty much anything the U.S. does always goes wrong.

Our newspapers of record today finally remembered it’s their job to point stuff like that out.

The New York Times, in particular, calls bullshit this morning — albeit without breaking from the classic detached Timesian tonelessness.

Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler (with contributions from Matt Apuzzo and James Risen) start by pointing out the essential but often overlooked fact that “American intelligence agencies have concluded that [the Islamic State] poses no immediate threat to the United States.”

And then, with the cover of “some officials and terrorism experts,” they share a devastating analysis of all the coverage that has come before:

Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.

You’ve got to love these quotes:

Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a “farce,” with “members of the cabinet and top military officers all over the place describing the threat in lurid terms that are not justified.”

“It’s hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic, with claims that the nation is honeycombed with sleeper cells, that operatives are streaming across the border into Texas or that the group will soon be spraying Ebola virus on mass transit systems — all on the basis of no corroborated information,” said Mr. Benjamin, who is now a scholar at Dartmouth College.

He excerpts many several more articles.  Overall he highlights that the case hasn’t been made and that there are no good option. He saves the best for last:

But nobody has the understanding of the region, the writing chops, and the moral standing of Andrew J. Bacevich, the Boston University political science professor and former Army colonel who lost his son in the Iraq war in 2007. He writes today for Reuters Opinion:

Even if Obama cobbles together a plan to destroy the Islamic State, the problems bedeviling the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East more broadly won’t be going away anytime soon.

Destroying what Obama calls the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant won’t create an effective and legitimate Iraqi state. It won’t restore the possibility of a democratic Egypt. It won’t dissuade Saudi Arabia from funding jihadists. It won’t pull Libya back from the brink of anarchy. It won’t end the Syrian civil war. It won’t bring peace and harmony to Somalia and Yemen. It won’t persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms in Afghanistan. It won’t end the perpetual crisis of Pakistan. It certainly won’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

All the military power in the world won’t solve those problems. Obama knows that. Yet he is allowing himself to be drawn back into the very war that he once correctly denounced as stupid and unnecessary — mostly because he and his advisers don’t know what else to do. Bombing has become his administration’s default option.

Rudderless and without a compass, the American ship of state continues to drift, guns blazing.

Since there’s no good option it may be best just to not kill more people. I came across this article which asks.

But could the mighty power of United States even entertain the suggestion that it practice pacifism?

Maybe is “the world’s only superpower” quit killing, other’s might quit too?

More from Maxspeak, Meet the new war, same as the old war.

I echo Chris Hayes’ incredulity, expressed last night, at Barack Obama’s long strange trip: from his rise to political stardom as an opponent of the (second) Iraq invasion, to his devolution as a born-again interventionist, proposing to reinject the U.S. into the very same war he originally opposed.

It looks like the same war because the U.S. enemy in Iraq was Saddam Hussein and his base in the Sunni population. The Shiites and Kurds had nothing but hatred for Saddam. So this was a war on the Sunni. This onslaught continued in the person of the Shiite-dominated, U.S.-backed Iraqi puppet government.

The newest Hitler-of-the-month, the so-called Islamic state or ‘ISIS,’ is nothing but the reemergence of the Sunni under a distinctly less wholesome leadership. We traded Saddam for a group that looks worse than Al Qaeda, from the standpoint of non-Sunni minorities in Iraq, and possibly for the U.S. too, eventually.

Are we’re calling this Iraq War III? I don’t think US involvement – more bombing – is going to make things better. Sometimes, as much as we may want to, there’s just nothing we can do to make things better. And more violence is likely to make things worse.

09.10.14

As Bad As Things Might Seem, Not Voting Only Makes It Worse

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Immigration at 9:58 am by wcnews

Reacting to what has become typical for President Barack Obama – punting an immigration decision – Voto Latino has the perfect response.

“We couldn’t be more disappointed in the President’s decision to postpone an executive order to provide immigration relief for our families and friends. The Latino community refuses to be a political pawn between the two parties. This is personal. We as Latinos are rising above our political differences to send a clear message this November: We’re united, and we vote — for ourselves and for those who can’t.”

That is spot on!  The only way this will change is if the Latino community comes out to vote, and we get different politicians as a result.

Some think Obama’s decision will keep Latinos at home in November, How Barack Obama Lost Latino Voters for the Democrats in 2014.

As Simon Maloy says, the problem for Democrats in 2014—the problem, maybe, for Republicans in the long term—was that this year’s battlegrounds featured almost no crucial Latino voters. Colorado Sen. Mark Udall needs Latino votes to win again. (In 2008, Udall won easily as he took 63 percent of the Latino vote.) And Udall keeps getting to Obama’s left on this. If anyone can split the difference, and convince Latinos that they should take it out on Republicans if they don’t like deportations, I guess it’d be him.

Another problem, less often discussed, is that Latino turnout always, always lags turnout from other ethnic groups. You could see that last month in Arizona, where the safe, blue, majority Latino 8th district saw only around 25,000 voters turn out in a competitive primary between Latino candidates. To the south, in the more evenly divided 2nd district, more than 58,000 voters turned out for a less competitive Republican primary. The structural reasons for acting in 2014 were simply not comparable to the reasons for acting before a presidential election.

The reason Obama and other politicians continue to put off  an immigration decision is because they feel they can and must.  Obviously they’re more afraid of the consequences of acting, as opposed to not acting.  They’re likely being told the Latino community doesn’t vote in high enough numbers, and that making this decision will only hurt them in November.

But that’s why what Voto Latino’s response is so important.  Change won’t happen until the Latino community rises above these disappointing decisions and shows up to vote, in spite of not having their needs met.  Showing up in bigger numbers on election day and electing candidates that are sympathetic to these issues will bring progress.  It is the only way to get  the needed reform.  Staying home on election day and allowing more tea party Republicans into office, will only make things worse and further delay action.

It’s the same way on the economic front, especially in Texas.  There are few, if any politicians, in this state that will talk about any real solutions that will work for most Texans.  Everyone wants to talk about the fact that we need education, roads, water, health care, etc.., but few will talk about the fact that we need a fair tax system to pay for our needs.  The only way we can get there is to elect more people who are sympathetic to those issues.

Staying home on election day and allowing a narrow slice of right wing extremists to keep inordinate control over our government is hurting Texas and our nation.  When politicians are not delivering on their promises it makes voters mad, feel disenfranchised, and they don’t want to vote. But that’s exactly when we must show up.  Saying home leads to even worse outcomes.

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