The Clippers, Capitol, Piketty, And Warren

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Inequality at 12:12 pm by wcnews

I thought this was very informative, Why the Clippers are worth $2 billion. Especially reason number number 2.

2. After the lockout, NBA teams are more than toys for the rich

NBA owners absolutely crushed the players’ union in the 2011 lockout, cutting player salary by at least $280 million per year. Over the 10-year term of the new collective bargaining agreement, that comes out to a minimum of $2.8 billion in savings for the league’s owners, or an average of $93 million per team.

That’s a huge chunk of money. For teams already operating at healthy profits, it’s a massive boost to the bankroll. For teams breaking even, that creates a healthy positive margin. For the few teams who claimed to be losing money with the old deal, it makes the franchise a sustainable business.

Before 2011, the wealthy bought into the NBA often out of interest in the sport, to be seen courtside or to invest in a vehicle that would gain value in the long-term. But with the lockout deal, with all of those benefits still in place, NBA teams also become profit

Essentially since Capitol (the owners), screwed over the workers.  It’s an easy way for the already extremely wealthy to increase their wealth even more.

Cue Thomas Piketty, Why We’re in a New Gilded Age.

Piketty throws down the intellectual gauntlet right away, with his book’s very title: Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Are economists still allowed to talk like that?

It’s not just the obvious allusion to Marx that makes this title so startling. By invoking capital right from the beginning, Piketty breaks ranks with most modern discussions of inequality, and hearkens back to an older tradition.

The general presumption of most inequality researchers has been that earned income, usually salaries, is where all the action is, and that income from capital is neither important nor interesting. Piketty shows, however, that even today income from capital, not earnings, predominates at the top of the income distribution. He also shows that in the past—during Europe’s Belle Époque and, to a lesser extent, America’s Gilded Age—unequal ownership of assets, not unequal pay, was the prime driver of income disparities. And he argues that we’re on our way back to that kind of society. Nor is this casual speculation on his part. For all that Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a work of principled empiricism, it is very much driven by a theoretical frame that attempts to unify discussion of economic growth and the distribution of both income and wealth. Basically, Piketty sees economic history as the story of a race between capital accumulation and other factors driving growth, mainly population growth and technological progress.

To be sure, this is a race that can have no permanent victor: over the very long run, the stock of capital and total income must grow at roughly the same rate. But one side or the other can pull ahead for decades at a time. On the eve of World War I, Europe had accumulated capital worth six or seven times national income. Over the next four decades, however, a combination of physical destruction and the diversion of savings into war efforts cut that ratio in half. Capital accumulation resumed after World War II, but this was a period of spectacular economic growth—the Trente Glorieuses, or “Glorious Thirty” years; so the ratio of capital to income remained low. Since the 1970s, however, slowing growth has meant a rising capital ratio, so capital and wealth have been trending steadily back toward Belle Époque levels. And this accumulation of capital, says Piketty, will eventually recreate Belle Époque–style inequality unless opposed by progressive taxation. [Emphasis added]

In other words when billionaires can throw around money like it’s candy, and even screw over millionaire employees in the process, while so many suffer, it should be obvious that something’s out of whack.

There is someone take about it.  As Elizabeth Waren says, “the game is rigged”.

Throughout our history, powerful interests have tried to capture Washington and rig the system in their favor. From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups. Those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor. Everyone else just gets left behind.

Just look at the big banks. They cheated American families, crashed the economy, got bailed out, and now the six biggest banks are 37 percent bigger than they were in 2008. They still swagger through Washington, blocking reforms and pushing around agencies. A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail, but a big bank breaks the law on laundering drug money or manipulating currency, and no one even gets arrested. The game is rigged – and it’s not right!

But it isn’t just the big banks. Look at the choices the Federal government makes: Our college kids are getting crushed by student loan debt. We need to rebuild our roads and bridges and upgrade our power grids. We need more investment in medical research and scientific research. But instead of building a future, this country is bleeding billions of dollars in tax loopholes and subsidies that go to rich and profitable corporations. Many Fortune 500 companies, profitable companies, pay zero in taxes. Billionaires get so many tax loopholes that they pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. But they have lobbyists – and their Republican friends – to protect every loophole and every privilege. The game is rigged – and it’s not right!

Or take a look at what’s happening with trade deals.

For big corporations, trade agreement time is like Christmas morning. They can get special gifts they could never pass through Congress out in public. Because it’s a trade deal, the negotiations are secret and the big corporations can do their work behind closed doors. We’ve seen what happens here at home when our trading partners around the world are allowed to ignore workers rights and environmental rules. From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters, and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the upcoming trade deals in their favor.

Why are trade deals secret? I’ve heard the supporters of these deals actually say that they have to be secret because if the American people knew what was going on, they would be opposed. Think about that. Real people – people whose jobs are at stake, small business owners who don’t want to compete with overseas companies that dump their waste in rivers and hire workers for a dollar a day – those people, those people without an army of lobbyists – would be opposed. I believe that if people across this country would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not happen.

The tilt in the playing field is everywhere. When conservatives talk about opportunity, they mean opportunities for the rich to get richer, for the powerful to get more powerful. They don’t mean opportunities for a young person facing $100,000 in student loan debt to start a life, for someone out of work to get back on his feet, for someone who worked hard all her life to retire with dignity.

The game is rigged. The rich and the powerful have lobbyists, lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everyone else, not so much.

Now we can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back. Me? I’m fighting back.

This is a fight over economics, over privilege, over power. But deep down, this is a fight over values. Conservatives and their powerful friends will continue to be guided by their age-old principle: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.”

But we’re guided by principle, too. It’s a simple idea: We all do better when we work together and invest in our future.

We know that the economy grows when hard-working families have the opportunity to improve their lives. We know that the country gets stronger when we invest in helping people succeed. We know that our lives improve when we care for our neighbors and help build a future not just for some of our kids – but for all of our kids.

These are progressive values. These are America’s values.

These values play out every day. These values are what we’re willing to fight for.

We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe no one should work full-time and live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe people should retire with dignity, and that means strengthening Social Security – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe that a kid should have a chance to go to college without getting crushed by debt – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe workers have a right to come together, to bargain together and to rebuild America’s middle class – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe in equal pay for equal work – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe equal means equal, and that’s true in the workplace and in marriage, true for all our families – and we’re winning that fight right now.

We – the people – decide the future of this country.

These are our shared values. And we are willing to fight for them.

This is our fight!

Amen sister!


It’s Going To Be A Huge Mess

Posted in Around The State, Had Enough Yet? at 6:00 am by wcnews

Paul Burka had a good blog post today, A Generation of Republican Leadership.

In a column by the Statesman’s Ken Herman last week, three “unnamed” Republican sources who have been in state government for a collective 47 years admitted to him that “a generation of Republican rule” has left Texas in “kind of a mess.” Herman identified their concerns: chronically underfunded schools; crippling water shortages; an inadequate transportation system; and other missed opportunities. Some of the worst actions taken by state leaders were the decimation of the public health system, including drastic reductions in the Medicaid and CHIP programs in 2003. Another really bad decision was the target revenue system for public schools, which choked school budgets across the state. Yet another fateful decision was Perry’s refusal to expand Medicaid; had he done so, Texas’s health institutions could be on the cutting edge of modern medicine, instead of struggling to make ends meet. A decade later, here we are, still last in the country in the number of people without health insurance, still stuck in court trying to develop an equitable school finance system. All of this is happening when Texas is enjoying boom times that should encourage state leaders to address the state’s infrastructure needs, thanks to the bounty of the Eagle Ford shale, but there is no will to put the oil revenue to work by enhancing our transportation network, including oil-field roads that get heavy traffic. Perry is responsible for many of the failures, but the state’s business community has only recently awakened to the reality that without infrastructure improvements — in roads and bridges, in the generation of electricity, and in the effort to expand water supplies — commerce in the state may grind to a halt. Texans do a lot of bragging about the number of people and businesses that are relocating here, but we don’t have the ability to provide for their needs.

This is going to sound stupid but my response to that is – Duh!  Now that Eye On Williamson is back up and running feel free to search the archives for some variation of that here.  Anyone who isn’t aware of that situation in Texas has not been paying attention.  Burka ends with this.

And this is not the worst of it. The worst of it is that the political culture of the state took a wrong turn in 2010 or so — you can circle the date Perry first hinted about secession — and it has never regained its equilibrium. Call it the tea party, call it state’s rights, call it whatever you want, but lawmakers and voters lost interest in the normal functions of state government. Instead, they veered off into a feeding frenzy against all things Barack Obama. Good government — that is, the things that state government was supposed to be doing — dropped off the radar screen. And Texas politicians lined up for a mad dash to the right, as far to the right as they could get, and it proved to be very far indeed.

The proper metaphor might be that the Texas GOP, with Perry at the wheel, took the express lane to Crazy Town and the rest of Texas was along for the ride.

Yes, there are oil wells sprouting up all over Texas that are bringing in tax money.  Along with that we’re also getting earthquakes, sinkholes, health issues, and torn up roads.  And that money is being hoarded and while needs are neglected.  Much of the “good” economic spoils in Texas have gone to the top.  Poor, working and middle class Texas are being left behind.  The things that can help lift us up – education, health care, infrastructure jobs, etc.. – are being privatized and sacrificed for ideology.

A familiar refrain at EOW is, we should not expect people who think government is the problem, to use government to find solutions.  Those who currently run our government are incapable of doing what’s needed.  The sad part, thus far in the 2014 campaign season, is there hasn’t been a stronger attack from Democrats.  Democrats are still too afraid to say that there a certain things government does well, and we must pay for them. We need roads and we’re going to have to raise taxes to pay for them.  Water infrastructure costs money.  We’re being offered a really good deal from the federal government to insure over 1 million Texans and we will take it.  A good education is the best investment we can make in our future and we are willing to pay for it.

If also must be made know why we’ve come  to this point.  All of these issues are at a crisis point because of 12 years of complete GOP control of Texas government.  With that control came neglect of issues central to keeping poor, working and middle class Texans afloat. At the same time the issues of corporations, big business, and the wealthy have been front and center.  The people of Texas want someone to offer an alternative to the craziness of GOP control.  Texans need and want a choice for new leadership in November.

The longer we wait to fix these issue the more expensive it will be.  It may only be kind of a mess right now.  But if this continues, it’s going to be a huge mess.


Texas still last in uninsured, almost 1 in 4

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Health Care at 11:36 am by wcnews

Via CPPP, New Census Data Released Today Underscore Texas’ Need for Affordable Health Coverage.

“Today’s release shows that Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured in the United States, at 24.6 percent, or 6.4 million, reaffirming the need for affordable health coverage for all Texans. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, in 2014,uninsured Texans above the poverty line (e.g. $23,550 for a family of four) will finally have options for new, affordable health coverage.

“We know what works to reduce uninsured rates. Fifteen years ago, 1 in 4 Texas kids was uninsured, but today, thanks to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the overall uninsured rate for Texas kids is down to 1 in 6 (16.4 percent). Clearly, making affordable health coverage available for low-income and poverty-level Texans makes a real difference.

“The data released today show nearly 1 in 3 working-age adults in Texas ages 19-64 (32.1 percent) is uninsured and are nearly twice as likely to be uninsured as Texas children. Texans are much less likely to get health coverage through their jobs, or their spouse’s or parent’s job, than the average American, with 51.6 percent of Texans under 65 receiving employer-based health insurance compared to 58.4 percent of Americans.

“These facts show us why the new health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act is so important. It will give uninsured Texans above the poverty line who don’t have a quality affordable employer-based health plan a new way to get good coverage at prices that fit their budgets.

“However, because our state leaders have refused to accept federal funds from the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid, Texas’ uninsured adults ages 19-64 below the poverty line are left with no help. In other words, the parents in a family of four making $25,000 can apply for a generous subsidy through the health insurance marketplace, but the parents in a family of four making $22,000 won’t be eligible for help. Today’s data show about 1 million US citizen Texas adults below the poverty line were uninsured in 2012, making up 1 in 6 of all uninsured Texans.

“Our state leaders must act to provide more options for our poorest Texans so they can have the opportunity for quality, affordable health coverage like those above the poverty line.”

For more details from the U.S. Census Bureau, click here.

We all know that our current state leadership would much rather hold to their extreme ideology then compromise a little and allow poor, working, and middle class Texans to get health insurance.


More of the same

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Health Care at 11:22 am by wcnews

This is not good.

A new Census Bureau report documents the alarming percentages of people in Texas and Florida without health insurance. Leaders of both states should hang their heads in shame because they have been among the most resistant in the nation to providing coverage for the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act, the law that Republicans deride as “Obamacare.”


The report found that more than 25 percent of the population in Texas under age 65 (5.7 million people) was uninsured, the highest rate in the nation. Florida was a close second, with just under 25 percent uninsured (3.8 million people).


In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and Republican legislators have strongly opposed the Medicaid expansion and refused to establish a state-run exchange, the smoothest way to coordinate state and federal programs and provide subsidies to middle-income residents. They contend that the state has other ways to deal with the uninsured, but there’s little reason to believe them given the state’s long history of failing to help and persistent complaints from medical and patient advocacy groups. [Emphasis added]

This is the GOP brand in Texas – blame the federal government and do nothing to help poor, working and middle class Texans. They believe that anything that directly helps people of Texas is a waste.  And that anything that directly helps corporations or their wealthy donors, and may somewhere down the line help someone else – aka corporate welfare or so-called public private partnerships – is a great idea. Turning down the Medicaid expansion will only help those who right big checks and don’t want more Medicaid competition in Texas, Premiums going up in Texas? Blame Rick Perry.

This may cause some issues for the GOP as well, Obamacare Insurance Costs Affordable, Kaiser Survey Finds.

A 25-year-old New Yorker earning $25,000 a year will pay as little as $62 a month for health insurance next year, and a peer living in Vermont may pay nothing, according to a 17-state survey of premiums under the U.S. health-care overhaul.

The Kaiser Family Foundation report is the broadest look yet at what consumers will pay for health insurance when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect next year. The cost issue has been a top concern for President Barack Obama’s administration, which is trying to persuade at least 7 million Americans who now lack insurance to sign up for coverage starting Oct. 1.

If Obamacare actually works, and Texans aren’t able to take advantage of those savings, that would truly be the GOP’s worst nightmare come true.  Which is the main reason they’ve been trying to sabotage it.


Great Labor news for Texas as Labor Day approaches

Posted in Around The State, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Labor at 10:21 am by wcnews

On Labor Day were supposed to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, not just mark the end of Summer. But since the pendulum has swung from labor to corporations, bidness owners, and the one percent, we don’t talk much about workers on Labor Day anymore.

Which is why this is welcomed news, Ahead of Labor Day, AFL-CIO president says it’ll target Texas like never before in next elections.

Just ahead of Labor Day, the president of the AFL-CIO, a coalition of 57 labor unions, said Thursday that it will target Texas “like never before” in the coming elections. It also will seek to boost union ranks in the famously pro-employer Lone Star State.

Richard Trumka told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that immigration and worker safety are key issues that make Texas an important battleground for progressive groups like his.

He stopped short of saying the group, which represents some 12 million union workers, would specifically support state Sen.Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose national profile has risen since leading filibuster in the Texas Senate earlier this summer.

Trumka suggested boasts by Texas leaders about the fast-growing economy there ring hollow when examined more closely. The state’s insistence on keeping at bay regulators of all stripes has hurt the state, despite a job boom often touted by Gov,. Rick Perry and others.

“If you look at the quality of those jobs, if you look at the quality of the education, and look at a number of things, that hasn’t been true,” he said. “Also, if you leave employers to their own devices I know work sites can get pretty nasty. So the lack of regulation works to the detriment of a lot of people.”

“We are also very, very dismayed that there is only one state in the nation that doesn’t have a fire code, and that there is only one state in the country that prohibits its counties to have a fire codes. That would be state of Texas.

“One of my first roles in organized labor,” he said, “was to serve on the health and safety committee. The fact that there are no fire codes jeopardized worker safety.” (The Dallas Morning News has reported that state law prevents 70 percent of its counties from having a fire code.)

This is certainly great news.  Getting labor unions seriously engaged in Texas, along with Battleground Texas can only help as we head into 2014.   And no state’s workers need more help getting organized then those in Texas.  There are several other areas where they can focus, raising the minimum wage and wage theft just to name a couple. But the lack or regulation and worker protections is also a major issue, as the explosion in West showed. What is more troubling is that our current crop of legislators appear to be unable and unwilling to fix the problem, Texas lawmakers hesitant to add new regulations in wake of West explosion.

Texas lawmakers following up on the deadly April explosion in West hesitated Monday to support new regulations for storing, moving and insuring ammonium nitrate in the state.

The reluctance came amid testimony about concrete examples of how companies are allowed to rebuff state agencies, keeping officials and residents in the dark about potential threats.

Ammonium nitrate is a common ingredient in agricultural fertilizer. It fueled the April 17 explosion in West that killed 15 people, injured more than 300 and did an estimated $135 million worth of damage to private and public property. Officials said Monday that more than 140 facilities in the state have the chemical on hand.

Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee members were told that five companies that have the hazardous fertilizer ingredient wouldn’t let the state fire marshal inspect their facilities.

They were also told that one railroad declined to share data about the dangerous chemicals it moves through Texas. The railroad told the state emergency department it already shares the information with the state Department of Transportation. Another railroad hasn’t responded to state requests for information.

Officials said Union Pacific, which runs the line by the West Fertilizer Co. plant, provided information.

West Fertilizer’s $1 million in insurance coverage won’t begin to cover the property, medical and emotional damage caused by the explosion.

Since the blast, the Texas Department of Insurance has asked 95 fertilizer companies and 32 insurers about the level of coverage for other facilities with the dangerous chemical. Ten fertilizer companies and four insurers responded.

Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber testified that some facilities with ammonium nitrate are uninsured because their policies were canceled after the West explosion. Texas law doesn’t mandate the terms for an insurance company to offer policies to plants like the one in West.

But state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, said lawmakers should not add new layers of regulation and oversight as a knee-jerk reaction to the deadly West blast.

“If we’re not careful, we could get like the federal government putting diapers on cows,” he said.

State Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, a committee member, said burdening companies with more operating costs could affect Texans’ finances.

“It’s a very serious implication,” he said.

The Legislature’s next regular session isn’t until January 2015, so the committee can’t recommend any bills. Gov. Rick Perry did not allow lawmakers to debate chemical safety or oversight in any of the three special sessions he called since the West explosion.

Flynn and Sheets understand that there’s no reason to burden business, aka their campaign contributors, with the price of protecting workers and communities, when they know if something bad happens the taxpayers will pick up the tab.

Until those of us who earn a paycheck for a living start to organize, vote, and make our government hold corporations, bidness owners, and the one percent accountable, none of this will change.  The Cheap Labor Conservatives must go.  And that is what all of us workers must remember this year on Labor Day.

Further Reading:

Census: Texas has highest rate of uninsured in nation.

Texas leads the nation in the percentage of residents who lack health insurance, with more than 1 in 4 people younger than 65 without coverage of any kind, according to new census data released Thursday.

More than 5.7 million people, 26 percent of Texans younger than 65, were uninsured in 2011. The uninsured rate was higher — 31 percent — for working-age adults ages 18 to 64, the data show.

#829Strike: Texans Protest Low Fast Food Wages As Part of Nationwide Strike.


Texas is devolving – Texas GOP taking us back to the dark ages

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Road Issues, Transportation at 10:06 pm by wcnews

“Texas used to have the best roads,” she said.
– Darlene Meyer is a 77-year-old rancher whose property sits along a portion of FM 469 in LaSalle County that is marked for conversion to gravel.

Yes, Texas once had some of the best roads in the U.S. But we don’t anymore. Instead we’re moving from fancy paved roads to those good “ol dirt ones. The quote above comes form this the Texas Tribune article, Plan to Convert Roads to Gravel Begins Despite Pushback.

“Since paving roads is too expensive and there is not enough funding to repave them all, our only other option to make them safer is to turn them into gravel roads,” TxDOT spokesman David Glessner said.

Dimmit County, near the Texas-Mexico border, will be hit hardest by TxDOT’s decision. More than 30 miles of the county’s farm-to-market roads are slated to be turned to gravel.

“We want the state to continue to maintain those roads as they are now,” said Dimmit County Commissioner Mike Uriegas.

In the final days of the 83rd regular legislative session, lawmakers found $225 million to repair county roads affected by energy development, and the same amount for repairs to state-owned roads. That funding, though, was only a temporary fix. Efforts to increase taxes on the companies that are profiting from the energy boom to cover the road repair costs failed to gain traction. TxDOT said repairing and maintaining the oil field roads into the future will cost about $1 billion a year in additional funding.

The conversions will affect roads in four South Texas counties — Live Oak, Dimmit, LaSalle and Zavala — and two West Texas counties — Reeves and Culberson. Glessner said the farm-to-market roads that will be turned to gravel were picked, in part, because they are rural routes that are ineligible for federal funds.

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, whose district includes Dimmit County, is one of the harshest critics of the conversions. He said TxDOT did not consult lawmakers and community leaders before unveiling the plan.

Those counties are represented only by Democrats, certainly that’s just a coincidence. We can’t have low taxes on corporations and the wealthy and paved roads it would seem. More from Darlene Meyer.

With the current oil boom and politicians touting Texas as a thriving, economically sound state, Meyer said she doesn’t understand why TxDOT is converting paved roads to gravel.

“I just can’t believe the Department of Transportation is going back to the dark ages,” she said.

I hope all Texans as they drive along on their new-fangled bumpy dusty dirt roads will remember which party brought these to them. That should be made into a bumper sticker – The Texas GOP, taking us back to the dark ages.

[UPDATE]: From Dave Atkins on Gov. Perry headlining at the California GOP convention:

If California Republicans wanted to remind the voters that they don’t share California values, the best way they could do it is by bringing in the arch-conservative from Texas.

The Texan economy is a hollow mess of low wages, poor education, high poverty wages and flimsy safety nets. The California economy, meanwhile, is resurgent after voters gave Democrats a 2/3 supermajority in the statehouse. Yet Republicans are intent on trying to convince America and California of how well they’ve run Texas into the ground, and how much the rest of us should want that for ourselves.

Seems like a great bet.

It’s cheap labor conservatism, just like in the dark ages.


With Section 5 out of the way, when it comes to voter suppression, everything is possible

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Elections, Had Enough Yet? at 10:55 am by wcnews

Texas at this moment is solidly Republican. Let’s say that Wendy Davis runs for governor and loses, but she comes scary close, as far as the Texas GOP is concerned, (47-48%). She has coattails and the GOP majority in The Lege shrinks. There’s an upsurge in turnout of Democratic leaning voters and Texas is beginning to look like a true battleground state.

To see what might happen in a scenario like this all we have to do is look at what’s going on in North Carolina. North Carolina went for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012. A true battleground state, that is now solidly in GOP hands. And they’re going to do everything possible, legal or not, to make sure it stays in GOP hands. Here’s an intro to what’s happening from Rachel Maddow.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

They’re also working to dismantle public education too.  It’s not hard to see that happening in Texas in 2015 if Greg Abbott is elected Governor.

North Carolina Republicans clearly think they’re going to get away with this. For the record, it is blatantly illegal. Blatantly unconstitutional. It has been since the 1970s. Since 1979 when this U.S. Supreme Court ruled that students, in fact, have the constitutional right to register to vote and to vote where they go to school. That case began at another historically black college at Prairie View A&M in Texas. The county didn’t want to let the black students vote there either. The Supreme Court intervened and said Texas had to let them vote. This is not a subtle gray areas in the law kind of thing. This is as clear as it gets. Republicans in North Carolina are doing it anyway. Right now. This week. Until somebody stops North Carolina Republicans from what they are doing, it is 1979 all over again. Or i guess 1964 all over again? Maybe earlier. The Republican governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory has his approval ratings in the toilet. He’s paying the price for the whiplash radical turn the state has taken under his Republican leadership. But it is not one man it’s clear now. It’s a statewide plan and statewide effort. The more you look at what Republicans are doing in North Carolina right now, the more it makes sense why Democrats and African-American voters have been getting arrested by the dozens, by the hundreds, week after week trying to get rest of the country to notice the kind of radicalism that is going on there now.

These are the kinds of laws Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) used to stop before they got started. Lawmakers knew these kinds of laws would never make it past Section 5. But now that Section 5 is gone it’s a free-for-all on election law. Especially in Southern states where the GOP controls all branches of the government like Texas. The laws can still be challenged in court, but Section 5 kept them from being implemented until they were reviewed.

The one issue with what Maddow said was that Gov. McCrory is paying the price with his poll numbers. That’s all part of the plan. He’s not concerned about his reelection right now, he’s in his first year. Other governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida have similarly had their poll numbers tank, and Walker survived a recall. Our own Rick Perry has never had great poll numbers but he always survived. The only way to end this is to work hard and defeat candidates like them at the ballot box, while we still can.

Ari Berman of The Nation sums up the new North Carolina voter suppression law this way.

Late last night, the North Carolina legislature passed the country’s worst voter suppression law after only three days of debate. Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog called it “the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades” The bill mandates strict voter ID to cast a ballot (no student IDs, no public employee IDs, etc.), even though 318,000 registered voters lack the narrow forms of acceptable ID according to the state’s own numbers and there have been no recorded prosecutions of voter impersonation in the past decade. The bill cuts the number of early voting days by a week, even though 56 percent of North Carolinians voted early in 2012. The bill eliminates same-day voter registration during the early voting period, even though 96,000 people used it during the general election in 2012 and states that have adopted the convenient reform have the highest voter turnout in the country. African-Americans are 23 percent of registered voters in the state, but made up 28 percent of early voters in 2012, 33 percent of those who used same-day registration and 34 percent of those without state-issued ID.

And that’s just the start of it. In short, the bill eliminates practically everything that encourages people to vote in North Carolina, replaced by unnecessary and burdensome new restrictions. At the same time, the bill expands the influence of unregulated corporate influence in state elections. Just what our democracy needs—more money and less voting!

“I want you to understand what this bill means to people,” said Representative Mickey Michaux (D-Durham), the longest-serving member of the North Carolina House and a veteran of the civil rights movement who grew up in the Jim Crow South. “We have fought for, died for and struggled for our right to vote. You can take these 57 pages of abomination and confine them to the streets of Hell for all eternity.”

Here are the details of everything bad about the ball, via North Carolina Policy Watch.

It’s not possible to understand how these laws can be justified outside the context of voter suppression. If there was massive voter fraud going on in Texas it’s obviously not hurting Republican candidates, since they hold all statewide offices. The only reason this is being pursued is that the future, as far as the GOP is concerned, looks bleak. Anything they can do to forestall that is therefore justified. And with Section 5 out of the way they now believe, when it comes to voter suppression, everything is possible.

Further Reading:
North Carolina’s Sweeping Voter Suppression Law Is Challenged in Court.
Inside the ‘ALEC Universe’.


There is nothing new under the wingnut sun

Posted in Around The Nation, Had Enough Yet?, Right Wing Lies at 11:23 am by wcnews

The title of this post is how Rick Perlstein ends his article Growing Up in the John Birch Society.

Claire Conner was about 13 years old when her parents handed her a John Birch Society membership form and told her, “You are old enough to take part in saving the nation.” For Claire that meant getting her dollar-a-month dues automatically subtracted from her allowance—and doing a whole lot of cringing.

The crux of the article is that while the Birchers may not be seen, they are still extremely active.

But it also bears a political argument we need to absorb. Explained Conner in Chicago, “The John Birch Society built the most effective, best-funded right-wing populist organization in the United States of America. Now, not all my friends on the left want to hear this. It’s so easy to say, ‘These people were crackpots.” But Robert Welch “was a brilliant man. That doesn’t mean he was correct about anything. But he was a brilliant man. And he loved to sell.” And what comes through strikingly in the book is that, even as Welch and his organization were excoriated, the stories they told, frequently through carefully disguised front groups with pleasant-sounding names—say, the one from the 1960s about how sexual education was teaching children how to be sexually promiscuous; or the one in the early 1990s promoting the impeachment of Bill Clinton—were sold quite effectively to the broader political culture. They achieved things.

We really, really don’t want to believe this. Even Claire Conner did not want to believe this. She writes, remembering the Kennedy assassination, blamed in the wider political culture as a product of just the sort of extremism Birchers were promoting, “the whole right wing is kaput. My parents and the Birchers just became ancient history.” Less than eight months later, of course, Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential nominee. She writes of her conviction of how the miserable failures of the Bush years were “killing America’s appetite for right-wing Republicans.”

And yet now we have thirty states with Republican majorities, many of them veto-proof.

And at that point, in Chicago, Claire Conner concluded in thunder. “These people are at the point of changing our government. If you want to see how, look at Texas, look at Florida. Look at Ohio. Look at Wisconsin, for God’s sake—my state. Look at Michigan, for heaven’s sake: they think they elected a moderate, but they elected a right-wing radical. That’s how this game is played. They’re changing the policy. And the whole thing is so deep that when they vote them out of office, number one, half of them won’t be able to vote. And number two, we will have years of problems to fix…. We were so happy that we won the popular vote, but they’re buying the place….they’ve virtually stopped the government for five years.”

Claire Conner knows of what she speaks. She was there at the inception—as a sad-eyed, vulnerable adolescent—then watched as the machine was put together: a machine whose deceptively smooth surface has always only barely hid the corrosive ugliness and cunning anti-democratic cleverness underneath, convincing too many liberals, too many times, that the ugliness could not but fade away in the fulness of time—convincing them wrong. Read her, and listen well: there is nothing new under the wingnut sun.

The bolded part speaks to what’s been going on with voting rights, Bigotry for the right reasons, and the sequester, Sequestration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America.  And If those are reversed tomorrow, the ramifications are going to last for years. But this did not just come out of thin air.  It’s always been there, and as long as there’s billionaires like the Koch’s are willing to bankroll it, it always will be around.

It’s also why things like this will never end, The Real Reason for the GOP’s All-Out War on Obamacare.

At its core, the Republicans’ scorched-earth opposition to Obamacare has never been so much about “freedom” or “limited government” or any other right-wing ideological buzzword as it has been about political power, pure and simple. Now as for the past 20 years, Republicans have feared not that health care reform would fail the American people, but that it would succeed. Along with Social Security and Medicare, successful health care reform would provide the third and final pillar of Americans’ social safety net, all brought you by the Democratic Party. To put it another way, the GOP was never really concerned about a “government takeover of health care”, “rationing”, “the doctor-patient relationship” or mythical “death panels,” but that an American public grateful for access to health care could provide Democrats with an enduring majority for years to come.

The only way to stop it is to make sure that they’re marginalized to the minority as they were from FDR to Reagan. And it’s why Democrats must learn to fight, the right way, for Obamacare and other things that help the American people.

All of which leads back to how this all will play politically. Democrats can continue to stand behind the law’s general goals — expanding coverage to the uninsured; protecting consumers; reining in insurance industry abuse — while signaling a willingness to fix the law as we go along. Indeed, the expert in House races told me Dems must signal this flexibility or put themselves at risk. But he also notes that the GOP position — pushing for full repeal without proposing a meaningful alternative — is also risky, because it could make Republicans look unwilling to solve people’s problems, a potentially toxic position among less partisan voters.

Drew Altman, the president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done sophisticated polling on Obamacare for years, agrees. Dems, he told me, “can stand on the benefits of the law, which are popular, and talk about improving the law. That’s a position which will be popular with the public.”

This isn’t to say Dems will win the battle over Obamacare. The law remains unpopular and implementation is a big unknown. Rather, the point is that the GOP position is not a clear winner either. Republicans know this, which is why they are claiming yet againthat they will roll out an alternative to Obamacare this fall. But herein lies the Obamacare Trap. If that effort crashes and burns under conservative criticism — as itdid last time — it will reveal yet again that Republicans simply have no vision for a meaningful role for government to play in fixing the health care system, whether it comes to the consumer protections that are being debated today or anywhere else.

The Birch wing of the GOP is showing too much right now and it’s hurting them. But it needs to be taken on by an alternative that offers what we once had between FDR and Reagan. A country that produced prosperity for its people. And that change won’t come without a struggle.

Further Reading:
ALEC’s Unwelcome Party in Chicago.
Why Is Inequality So Much Higher in the U.S. Than in France?
If You’re Wondering What’s Wrong With America, Look At These Four Charts.


Electing Democrats is the best revenge

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Cronyism, Had Enough Yet? at 1:05 pm by wcnews

As I was reading Texpatriate’s post on the Senate’s passage of HB 2, the omnibus abortion bill, Where do we go from here? What came to mind that was a take on the saying, “Living well is the best revenge”, that electing Democrats is the best revenge.

2. The Ballot Box
Since the first filibuster, I have seen a lot of my contemporaries, who couldn’t have cared less about politics just a few weeks ago, become involved and outspoken on the process. If this motivation and anger will translate to mobilized and dedicated voters on this issue, it will be a wonder for the Democratic Party. That is still an open-ended question at this point, however.

2014 will see all Statewide positions, roughly half of the State Senate and all 150 State Representatives seek re-election. If the Democrats do their jobs (a big if), we could have a meaningful impact.

3. Activist Lane
Remember, don’t get mad, get even. Or at least get involved. This whole controversy has propelled Wendy Davis into the national spotlight. As I have been arguing somewhat perpetually now since the filibuster, she truly needs to run for Governor, regardless of her feasibility as a winning candidate. Be the Democrats’ Barry Goldwater.

Find people riled up by this, and register them to vote. Get people involved with the local Democratic Party. And, my gosh, find some candidates for Statewide office next year. Wendy Davis is obvious, but there are so many others. Rodney Ellis, Jose Rodriguez, Leticia Van de Putte and Judith Zaffrini are among the talented Democratic Senators who are not up for re-election next year. Cecile Richards is a great possible candidate as well.

There was a huge rally at the end of the evening tonight, where Cecile Richards and Jessica Farrar led thousands of protesters from the Capitol down Congress Street. Stuff like that needs to continue happening.

So, I guess Wendy Davis really was prophetic when she said this is only the beginning, and not the end. Don’t pout, don’t cry, don’t complain. What we need to do right now is to get to work. I will part with a line from an old Bob Dylan song that I find quite fitting for this evening.

“The loser now will be later to win, oh the times they are a-changin’”

No one should be under the illusion any longer that the Texas GOP will not implement it’s radical campaign rhetoric if given the chance. Or the illusion that this will just change some day in the future because of demographics. It will take sustained hard work over the course of years and there will be setbacks. Even once power is taken back it will take time. As this Ross Ramsey article shows, A Weak Governor System, With a Strong Governor, (via Kuff, Rick Perry will be with us for a long time).

It’s not the system that makes the governor strong or weak necessarily. It has to do with the person, and much more important, the length of time that person is in office. Becaue until the 1970’s the governor was only a two year term. And no one has ever been the Governor of Texas as long as Perry. Here’s what EOW wrote back in 2010 about Perry, We must end Perry’s unprecedented time as governor – he’s been in office too long.

Because of the staggered terms of boards and commissions it can take years for a governor to get their people in place and get control the bureaucracy. And Perry’s time in office is unprecedented. At the end of his current term Perry will have done something no Texas governor has ever done, serve two consecutive four year terms. He will have been in office a total of 10 consecutive years, which has allowed him to “burrow-in”, or imbed, his people into the bowles of state government as no other governor before.

That means it’s possible that there will still be Perry imbeds in office until 2020. And if Perry clone Gregg Abbott is elected the same kind of cronies will be there even longer.

That’s why it’s imperative the current momentum is used to create a movement for governmental change in Texas. While women’s rights and health issue are important, more issues must be included. Inequality, equal pay, equal rights, health care, education, etc.., must be included to make sure the movement can grow and endure.

Further Reading:
Stand With Texas Women: In Houston, a Rally Inspires and Energizes
When tampons are outlawed, only outlaws will have tampons
The battlefield shifts now
Texas’ New Abortion Bill Will Go to Court and Texas Women May WinAbortion Rights Are at a Crossroads: This Is NOT a Time to Lay Low – It Is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!


The GOP gets personal

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, Had Enough Yet?, Special Session at 4:38 pm by wcnews

Perry and the wing nuts look like they’re coming unhinged.  That’s what happens when an enetitled group, that has been allowed to roam free for years, is finally having to deal with a competent and successful opposition, Sen. Davis: ‘Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity’.

Davis later responded to Perry’s comments.

“Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds,” she said. “They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test.”

Even Republicans are realizing that it’s OK to call them our for their shameful rantings, Straus: Perry Crossed Line on Davis Comments.

“Disagreements over policy are important and they’re healthy, but when he crosses the line into the personal, then he damages himself and he damages the Republican Party,” Straus said.

Perry’s beeen making oops-worthy statements for a couple of years now.

Dewhurst must really be feeling the heat after his weak showing.  He’s taken to threatening to arrest members of the capitol press corps, Lt Gov David Dewhurst decides against arresting Texas media.

The problem for the GOP is that they are trying to hide their real intentions, (shutting down access to legal abortion), behind protecting women’s health.  Which is a solution in search of a problem.  It’s similar to voter ID, where they tried to hide their true intenion, (disinfranchising likely Democratic voters), behind  the non-existant problem of voter fraud.  They’re following a pattern.

They feel they need to hide their true intentions becauste while many people may believe abortion is wrong, they also know that making it too difficult to get a safe legal abortion may force women to take drastic measures.

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) made the rounds of the Sunday shows today.  My favorite comment was the one asked by David Gregory on Meet The Press when he asked if she’s just delaying the inevitable.  She responded by saying, “I don’t thinks it’s every acceptable to concede the argument on incredilby important issues like this”.  And that’s the point even if this fight is lost, fighting for it is likley to bring those who have been sitting out into this and future fights.

The longer this fight goes on the better it is for the Democrats and worse it gets for the GOP.  The 2nd special session starts tomorrow.  Or as Kuff says, Time to lace up your Mizunos and head back to the Capitol.

Further Reading:
Filibuster Drama Shows Side of Texas Rarely Seen.
Wendy Davis says Rick Perry talks small government but likes big government when to his political advantage.

« Previous Page� Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries �Next Page »