09.04.12

Democratic platform moves the country forward

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Presidential Election at 12:41 am by dembones

The 2012 Democratic National Platform begins with the answer to the question that seemed to be just off the Obama campaign’s tip of their tongue over the weekend. Yes, America is better off than it was four years ago:

Four years ago, Democrats, independents, and many Republicans came together as Americans to move our country forward. We were in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the previous administration had put two wars on our nation’s credit card, and the American Dream had slipped out of reach for too many.

Today, our economy is growing again, al-Qaeda is weaker than at any point since 9/11, and our manufacturing sector is growing for the first time in more than a decade.

The 2012 Republican National Platform is a scorched Earth polemic full of unpopular positions, and draws a clear contrast between the visions of the two parties on the future direction of the country.

09.01.12

Democrats see opportunity in Charlotte

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Presidential Election, Right Wing Lies at 10:26 pm by dembones

After a gaff-filled week in Tampa, Florida, Republicans appear to be experiencing a middling bounce. Unforced errors are certainly at the center of any forensic study of the RNC failure; however, to blame it all on style is to overlook the bitter substance of the Republican agenda.

Running on a platform of austerity, tax cuts for millionaires, Groupon for Grandma voucher-based Medicare, and further culture warfare that targets women’s equality and liberty, the Republicans are hemmed into politically unpopular positions. No wonder their Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees delivered policy-free acceptance speeches.

In place of substance, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney used fact-free filler. Although Romney’s acceptance speech, according to New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, “avoided the flat-out falseness of Ryan’s,” one in ten of the Romney campaign’s statements evaluated by fact-checking site PolitiFact have been branded “Pants on Fire” lies. In comparison, only one in fifty of the Obama campaign’s statements earned that distinction.

The reaction from the right to having their lies exposed? Blame the fact-checkers! The crime that the Weekly Standard hopes will taint all the fact-checking analysis? A New York Times goof, misplacing interior quote marks. The original White House release did not indicate exactly which of the President’s words were directly quoting a Republican source, and the Times mistakenly included ten extra words in the interior quote. Scandalous! That’s evidence of “incompetent partisans masquerading as ‘independent’ media fact checking organizations.”

En route from the Charlotte Douglas Airport to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina, today, I rode with a busload of arriving delegates to the Democratic National Convention. North Carolina voted for Obama in 2008, and is currently leaning toward Romney. Along the route was one of those weakly-identified political billboards screaming, “Don’t believe the liberal media.”

In 2012, the election hinges on the Republicans being able to prevaricate on a level previously unknown in modern American politics, while imploring their flock to ignore any facts that deviate from their dystopian world view as a plot by liberal media elites. With all their cash, Fox News and the rest of the RWNM, there is a chance they could pull it off.

The stakes for the Democrats this week are high. Will we effectively make the case that Pres. Barack Obama has performed admirably under incredibly adverse conditions, and deserves four more years to try to right the disastrous state that Republicans and Wall Street leveraged buy-out con artists have left us in? Will we be able to effectively articulate what it means to be a Democrat in memorable sound-bite form? Will we be able to rekindle the hope that flickered to life four years ago, only to be extinguished by grinding reality.

We cannot move forward to the promised land as long as the few who have it all are willing to settle for “a lot”, and leave the rest of us a little bit larger slice of the pie. The 2012 campaign pits hope against greed. This is our week to make the case to the American public.

I am deeply honored to have a front-row seat this week. I’ll be reporting on what I experience here. Please allow yourself to hope we succeed.

02.29.12

State Democratic Executive Committee approves 2012 Delegate Selection Plan

Posted in 2012 Primary, Democratic Events, Election 2012, Good Stuff, Presidential Election, Redistricting, Take Action, Williamson County at 9:42 pm by dembones

The members of the Texas Democratic Party Executive Committee held an emergency meeting this evening and approved their Delegate Selection Plan for 2012. The famous “Texas Two-Step” hybrid primary/caucus process for selecting our delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be set aside this year, and temporarily replaced with a two-tiered convention (caucus).

The first series of conventions will be held April 21, 2012, at a location and time to be announced by each county political party. All voters who affiliate with a political party, generally by signing an Oath, are eligible to attend the county conventions. The convention delegates will debate and adopt a slate of delegates who will represent the county at the State Democratic Convention, to be held June 8-9, in Houston. According to the Delegate Selection Plan, Williamson County will be able to send 124 delegates and 124 alternates to the state convention. (Two ex-officio delegates will join the delegation, making the total voting strength of Williamson County at the State Convention 126.)

Up to 7,021 delegates will be credentialed at the State Democratic Convention. They will adopt a slate of 288 delegates and 22 alternates who will attend the Democratic National Convention, to be held September 3-6, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Senatorial District 5, which includes Williamson County, will meet in a separate caucus at the state convention to select six national delegates. These six delegates will be apportioned according to the aggregation of the poll of Presidential preference taken at the district’s 10 county conventions. The Delegate Selection Plan calls for a Presidential candidate to meet a 15% minimum in order to receive delegates.

The move today by the state Democratic party is a response to a San Antonio federal court order issued yesterday. In that order, a three-judge panel provided for state political parties to make adjustments to their rules so that state conventions can be held in June, independent of results of primaries whose results won’t be available in time.

The court yesterday also issued maps to be used for the 2012 elections in State Representative, State Senatorial and United States Congressional districts. Those maps hew closely to the lines drawn by the 82nd Legislature, and which have thus far been unable to earn pre-clearance from the United States Department of Justice, as required under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Rather than submit the maps to the Department of Justice, the State of Texas asked a D. C. circuit court for pre-clearance. A trial was held in January and February, but the court has not issued a ruling. A ruling has become increasingly unlikely in time to allow the state parties to hold their conventions in June, necessitating tonight’s action.

The size of venue required for state conventions limits the locations where they can be held, and makes the cost of moving unrealistic. Therefore, the San Antonio court has allowed the state parties to draw up plans that will allow them to select their national delegations without the results of a Presidential Primary to determine the Presidential preferences of their delegates. Instead, state parties will use a poll of convention attendees to determine the apportionment.

Credentials for attendance to the Democratic state convention will be issued to delegates elected at county and senatorial district conventions to be held April 21, 2012. Counties entirely contained within a single Senatorial District will convene a single County Convention. Counties containing parts of more than one Senatorial district (i.e., Atascosa, Bexar, Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Galveston, Guadalupe, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Montgomery, Tarrant, Taylor, and Travis) will have a a Senatorial Convention for each portion of a Senatorial District within the county. Sometimes all the Senatorial District conventions within a county are held at one location, or they may be held separately.

Voters who want to attend a party’s County or Senatorial District conventions must be registered to vote in the County and reside in the District. They must affiliate with one political party, either by signing a candidate petition for a place on that party’s primary ballot, or providing an Oath of Affiliation to the County Chair.

The time and location of the County and Senatorial District conventions will be announced by each county party’s executive committee in the coming weeks. Notices will be posted in public spaces and in local media. Committees will be appointed to prepare for the convention, processing Credentials, accepting proposed Resolutions and Rules changes, and handling other logistical details. Funding for the county/SD conventions is provided entirely by the County political parties and their donors.

On April 21, when voters arrive at their convention, they will prove that they are registered to vote and reside within the county/district. They will sign an Oath of Affiliation that declares their party preference for 2012. A record of those oaths is provided to the county’s chief elections officer, where it will be recorded in the voter roll for any subsequent primary or primary runoff elections. A person who attempts to affiliate with more than one party, or who votes in a party’s primary or runoff election to which they are unaffiliated, will have violated Texas Election Code, and could be subject to prosecution under state law.

Once signed in, the county/SD convention attendee becomes a full voting delegate, and joins other delegates from their voting precinct. Last summer, Williamson County approved a new precinct map whose lines will correspond with the court-ordered maps. This plan divides Williamson into 88 voting precincts. Because this map has not been pre-cleared by Justice, it may be necessary for another court order to make it (or some other map) temporarily effective; however, in lieu of that, the county parties may have to revert to the 2010 map which divided Williamson into 102 precincts. Some of those lines may not match up with State House districts; however, that won’t impact the county convention. The precinct map will be used to divide the county convention attendees into groups. Those groups will have an opportunity to select one of their own to join the state delegation.

Voters would have received their voter registration cards in January, had an enacted map obtained pre-clearance in time. The cards sent to voters in January 2010 have expired, but the county retains your active voter registration. Those who were legally registered last year, remain registered so long as their residence or other legal information has not changed. Citizens 18 years or older who are eligible to vote may newly register or update their existing registration information until March 22, 2012.

In addition to other court actions, the fate of the newly enacted SB14 (VoterID Law) remains uncertain. Rather than take the new law to Justice for VRA pre-clearance, the State of Texas asked a circuit court in New Orleans to grant pre-clearance. When judges requested it, the State provided a list of 650,000 registered voters who would become ineligible to vote under SB14 because they lack the specific photo identification cards prescribed by the new law. The Circuit Court then asked the State to break down the list by race to determine whether the law has the effect of discriminating against a racial minority, providing a January deadline for response. When the State of Texas failed to respond before the deadline, the circuit court extended the deadline an additional 60 days.

If the State responds to the court’s request, pre-clearance would be granted if the data show that the effect of SB14 is not discriminatory. Because SB14 remains in legal limbo, existing Texas Election Code will determine how voters will identify themselves at the county and senatorial district conventions.

But because voters will presumably lack a valid voter registration card, they will be required to present some other form of identification to prove their voter registration status and residency. Those forms of identification include Texas Drivers License, utility bills, student IDs, Veterans Benefits cards, etc.

08.19.11

The difference between Bush and Perry

Posted in 2012 Primary, Around The Nation, Election 2012, Presidential Election at 12:19 pm by wcnews

While many talk about the similarities between George W. Bush and Rick Perry, both Texas Governor’s running for President, there are many differences.  There was a feeling of inevitability about Bush that there isn’t about Perry.  And it all has to do with the Bush family, their deep connections in GOP politics and the monied elite of our country.  Perry has none of that.

Bush was able to play the part of the “guy I’d like to have a beer with”, while allaying the fears of the elites in America and the GOP, because he came from privilege.  They felt secure that he wouldn’t sell out his own family, and therefore them, to the wing-nuts on the far right.  With Perry they’re not so sure.  That’s why Rove attacked him and that’s why this happened today, Former Reagan Official: ‘Rick Perry’s an Idiot’.

Bruce Bartlett, who was a domestic policy adviser to President Reagan and served as the Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for economic policy under President George H.W. Bush, had some unflattering comments on the Texas governor and presidential candidate on CNN’s American Morning today: “Rick Perry’s an idiot, and I don’t think anyone would disagree with that,” he said, in a discussion about Perry saying Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke would be “treasonous” if he printed more money.

The Bush’s are a “blue blood” family, Yale, US Senate, CIA, etc…which made the GOP and monied elites very comfortable that Dubya wouldn’t throw them under the bus – can you say TARP and bank bailout? – when the shit hit the fan. It’s already obvious they don’t feel that way about Perry.

08.18.11

“Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science,” the mother prompted

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012, Presidential Election at 3:33 pm by wcnews

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is getting treated differently outside of his home state.  But he’s also having to do something he hasn’t had to do in a long, long time.  Campaign.  This from from PoliTex, Perry gets rocky reception in New Hampshire today.

Protesters carrying signs shouted loudly from the sidewalk, “Stop attacking middle class families, Rick Perry,” as the smiling new presidential candidate shook hands and signed autographs.

But for every admirer who gripped his hand and commended his work, there were several detractors armed with a sharp question on issues like climate change and Social Security.

“How old do you think the Earth is?” asked a little boy innocently as his mother hovered behind him outside the cafe. He asked Perry what he thought about the theory of evolution.

“It’s a theory that’s out there, and it’s got some gaps in it,” Perry said.

“Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science,” the mother prompted. [Emphasis added]

As Paul Burka said it’s a different world for Perry outside of Texas’ meek media.

Perry likes to talk off the cuff. That works fine in Texas. We’re used to his rhetorical excesses and he can be fairly certain that his assertions are not going to be challenged. But when he goes to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate and impugns the integrity of scientists concerning global warming, it’s going to be noticed.

[...]

If Perry had made his remarks on climate change in, say, Amarillo, it is likely nobody would have paid much attention to them, nor is it likely that a local reporter would have insisted on substantiation. Perry has had it easy for ten years. Now he may be paying a price for his success. He didn’t have to be on top of his game to win in Texas. He could make unsubstantiated statements without fear of being called out for them — and in any case, newspaper readership in Texas is not robust and local TV doesn’t do much political coverage. [Emphasis added]

That’s nice. Burka’s basically telling us that the Texas media has been covering up Perry’s miscues and misstatements for at least a decade and that’s why Perry is where he is today. Hopefully the Texas media will start doing its job soon and spare Texas from politicians like Perry in the future.  Of maybe we can get that mother and her son down here to do it for them.

08.10.11

Bush on steroids

Posted in 2012 Primary, Around The Nation, Around The State, Presidential Election at 2:44 pm by wcnews

I’ve tried to write about the potential, and extremely likely, bid of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the GOP nomination to run for President of the United States and it’s tough to come up with something just right.  My thinking is that just like what happened when Perry followed Bush in Texas, it would be the same on a national scale.  Similar policies, but we’re further down the “wing-nut” rabbit hole so the damage Perry’s liable to do would be much, much worse than Bush.  What’s been called “Bush on steroids”.

I also know that Molly Ivins would certainly have much, (none of it good), to say about “Gov. Goodhair” and why he would be another terrible President from Texas.

Toward the end of George W’s right-wing presidency, national columnist Molly Ivins said: “Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be elected president of the United States, please pay attention.”

My caution would be to anyone listening, do not take Perry lightly, or write him off as stupid or unqualified as was done with Bush. Presidential contests have little to do with qualifications for the job. They’re more like class president-style popularity contests. Perry’s the kind of candidate that will do very well with that kind of race.

Today he was in San Antonio talking about the economy and the stimulus, while failing to mention he eagerly accepted $12 billion of it in 2009. The worst part is that Perry wants to do to our nation what he’s done to Texas.

What does it mean to be a middle class wage-earner and consumer in Texas?

For too many families, it means a struggle to make ends meet. Texans want safe, stable jobs with decent wages and reasonable benefits that allow them to raise a family, own a home, and save for a comfortable retirement. Much has been made lately about job growth in Texas. Unfortunately, for middle class Texans, the so-called “Texas Miracle” has been more myth than reality. So, how does Texas stack up to the rest of the nation on key quality of life indicators?

[...]

This stark reality is compounded by a lax regulatory climate that typically favors industry over individuals and a broken civil justice system that is too often closed to consumers, patients, and workers who face needless injury and financial devastation.  That’s right.  If you are hurt on the job, ripped off by your insurance company, or have your savings wiped out by Wall Street shenanigans, you likely won’t be able to have your day in court.

Not quite the picture of middle class bliss that many politicians and spinmeisters would have us believe.

Download a PDF of our fact sheet “Texas: Miracle or Myth?”

The problem in our state and country in inequality, which can only be solved with jobs that pay a living wage. But unfortuanately we’re going backwards, Next low-wage haven: USA.

Jokes about the U.S. becoming “Europe’s Mexico” are commonplace, but now high-priced consultants are pushing the notion in all seriousness.

They’re predicting that within five years certain Southern U.S. states will be among the cheapest manufacturing locations in the developed world — and competitive with China.

It’s pretty clear that a Perry presidency would only speed the decline, Bush on steroids.

Further Reading:
From the Austin Chonicle “The Perry Trap“.
ALEC model legislation echoes TPPF, Perry-backed higher ed reforms in Texas.

Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) has published The Rick Perry Primer.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is unknown to much of America. Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) has followed
this politician since he became governor in late 2000, publishing numerous reports on Perry’s politics and policies.

Much of this research focuses on Perry’s fundraising activities and the connections between his contributors and his official actions. We also have kept a critical eye on Perry’s economic development initiatives and privatization schemes, as well as his occasional ethical lapses.

With talk of a Perry presidential campaign escalating, this report summarizes highlights of a decade of Perry-related research.

- Texans for Public Justice

TPJ also recently added this information to its web site.

Who Gave Rick Perry $102 Million?
See Perry’s Instant Bundling Network!

As speculation on a Rick Perry presidential bid grows TPJ is posting a complete list of his campaign contributors since becoming Governor of Texas.* Perry raised a total of $102,834,081 between Jan. 2001 and Dec. 2010. Of his $102 million, $51 million was provided by 204 individuals and pacs that have each contributed $100,000 or more.

Download a file (csv format, 12mb) of Perry’s 86,783 itemized contributions.

View a list or download a file of the 204 individuals and committees that have contributed $100,000 or more to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns.

View a breakdown of Perry’s campaign money by economic interest sectors.

*The data only includes contributions to Texans for Rick Perry, his Texas campaign committee and does not include money raised by Perry for other entities such as his inaugural committees, the Republican Governors’ Association, or other related party and non-party committees.

This FWST article has more, Texas millionaires and billionaires helped fuel Perry’s political rise.

Rick Perry has held public office for quite some time and has become wealthy in the process. He may have come from humble beginnings but Perry has changed his life for the better, all the while being in public office, and being paid in taxpayer money. Or asPeggy Fikac recently put it, “He’s an anti-government crusader who’s a career politician who’s collected a government paycheck for nearly 20 years”.

 

06.25.10

Democrats consider whether to keep Texas Two-Step

Posted in Elections, Good Stuff, Presidential Election at 7:27 pm by dembones

As a member of the temporary rules committee, I was present at the meeting R. G Ratliff describes in today’s Houston Chronicle.

The hybrid system of awarding some presidential convention delegates through a primary vote and others through a series of caucuses held on primary night became contentious in the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton won the primary vote, but Obama outmaneuvered her in the caucuses and walked away with the most pledged Texas delegates to the national nominating convention: 99-94. The state fight over those delegates continued from the March primary until a week before the 2008 state convention when Clinton conceded the nomination to Obama.

In some ways, the fight reignited Thursday morning during a pre-convention meeting in Corpus Christi in a sometimes-heated discussion over whether to keep the system or start allocating presidential delegates based only on primary results.

The temporary rules committee voted unanimously to recommend the adoption of the West Commission report, which keeps the allocations of national delegates’ presidential preferences based up on the combined results of the primary and caucuses. In the interests of full disclosure, this reporter served on the Temporary Rules Committee and authored a supplement to our report on the issue.

Now the work passes to the permanent Rules committee in the morning, where I believe the committee will vote to allow the full convention an opportunity to vote on a simple question: “Should Presidential Delegates’ presidential preference be determined exclusively by Primary election results?” If the full convention agrees with me and the rest of the Temporary Rules Committee, then the answer to this question will be no.

The concerns of those who would prefer we changed to a conventional primary are currently being addressed by the Texas Democratic Party. With improved and secured record-keeping, participant credentialing, improved training and certification, the scenes of chaos that made the national news in 2008 won’t be repeated. We can retain the precinct conventions as a party-building exercise in the long Presidential nomination process, honoring the tradition of the Texas Democratic party, and keep our unique process. It is going to take work.

My hope is that the convention will commit to completing this task and saving this critical organizing tool for future presidential elections.

01.19.09

Things can change quickly in politics

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, HD-52, Presidential Election, Uncategorized at 2:12 pm by wcnews

Evan Smith of Texas Monthly has started a discussion about the Democrats chances in Texas in the next several election cycles.  He’s essentially surmising that we should expect no change from GOP rule in Texas for a while yet.   Here’s his initial post, A 2012 Reality Check, and his Newsweek article, The Lone Star State Stays Red.

Not long after Election Day, soothsayers suggested that just as Colorado and Virginia (along with seven other states) flipped from red to blue this cycle, Texas was on the verge of political transformation, too. The reasoning went like this: as with those states (and, to a lesser degree, newly blue North Carolina), Texas has a growing Latino population that remains untapped; it’s got younger, more-progressive transplants from other states moving into urban areas, while older, more-conservative rurals are dying off; and it’s undergoing a migration of base Democratic types (civil servants, union workers, ethnic minorities) into the once blood-red suburbs, turning some purple or even light blue.

All true. The only thing wrong is the conclusion. Texas isn’t poised to flip—yet…

He has invited responses.  It has been responded to so far by Glenn Smith, Charles Kuffner, and this anonymous contribution.

If Barack Obama, as President, can repair the people’s trust in their government and show that once again our government can help the people, the electoral outlook can change rapidly in Texas.  As Glenn Smith lays out in his response the GOP record in Texas is less than stellar:

[Evan] Smith is right when he writes that demographics aren’t destiny. What has opened the future to Democrats in Texas is not the make-up of the population or party-based gamesmanship; it’s what’s happened to the Lone Star State under Republican rule.

College is no longer affordable for many. Texas has more citizens without health insurance than any other state. Mismanaged transportation planning has led to failing toll roads, poor maintenance, awful traffic, loss of productivity. Public education is headed backwards.

When the GOP rose in Texas, it based its “no tax” arguments on the premise that taxpayer money was spent on the other side of the tracks. But now critical state services are visibly crumbling everywhere. Phony social issue distractions are thin and growing thinner. People want their children to learn in public schools. They want them to go to college without having to start their lives staring up at a mountain of debt. They want them to be able to drive on safe roads, and they want them to have access to medical care should they have an accident on the way.

Republicans have taken these simple hopes away from us.

What will the Texas GOP’s solution be in this legislative session be to high college tuition, health care, public education, and transportation?  More of the same, or a new approach?  It’s hard to predict the future, and many scenarios are possible, but if things change for the better at the national level from Democratic leadership, that could make a Democratic resurgence much more likely in Texas.

It may still be hard to believe a change in Texas could come quickly but if the 2008 Presidential race taught us anything, Yes It Can.  Two more years of failed leadership in Texas by the GOP, and more importance being put on ideology as opposed to what works, could easily help speed up a change.

The biggest question still answered is, how well would the Democrats  do in Texas with a fully funded, fully organized, fully mobilized state wide election effort?   Here’s another compelling point that Glenn Smith makes.

where Texas Democrats have campaigned hard and invested resources, they won. Smart work by Democratic state House leaders and their allies closed the Republican margin in the state House from a dozen to only two seats in just two elections. Harris County, which is the largest county in Texas and has more people than the state of New Mexico, now favors Democrats. Prior to the 2008 elections, not a single Democrat held any countywide office in Harris County. After investing time and resources in Harris, Democrats won 85 percent of the countywide seats on the ballot. This follows a similar effort in Dallas County – Texas’ second largest county. A focused Democratic effort has moved the county from having only four countywide Democratic elected officials to now holding every single county-wide position.

We know how fast things can change right here in Williamson County. Who would have thought that HD-52 would have elected a female Hispanic Democrat over white male conservative Republican four years ago? Nobody knows how well Democrats would perform state wide, in the future, with a well-funded, well organized effort. Whether the Democrats can continue to make gains in Texas has more to do with the future than the past. Looking back will not provide proper perspective for Democrats chances in the future in Texas.  If Obama is successful and the Democrats are able to raise the money needed to put together a first-rate organization, no one knows what kind of gains could be made.

Kuffner’s observations, among other things, show that there’s little chance for Obama in 2012 if the economy doesn’t turn around.  And that likely wouldn’t bode well for Texas Democrats either.

Couple of things first. One, I actually think Smith is making the smart money bet, at least if we’re wagering on who will win Texas’ electoral votes in 2012. Being competitive is a more nebulous concept, but let’s not get bogged down in that. I think we’ll know it if and when we see it. I’m making two assumptions in my argument here. One is that the economy has substantially improved by 2012. If not – if things are as bad as they are now – the question won’t be whether Obama can win Texas but whether he can still win Illinois. And two, that Team Obama will make some kind of genuine effort to compete here. I agree with Glenn Smith that the result this year could have been better had the Obama campaign directed resources here instead of using the locals to help efforts in Ohio and New Mexico and wherever else.

While the anonymous response, from the GOP side, blames their lowered numbers in Texas in 2008 on the fact that McCain was unpopular and Obama was too popular. They also blame the GOP’s losses in the Texas House on running bad candidates, and on the GOP’s bad redistricting. And purports that the Texas GOP’s promise for the future lies in the next round of redistricting.

The fact is that the LRB will likely have more to do with redistricting than the legislature will. Look at Susan Combs, Greg Abbott and Jerry Patterson’s cash on hand advantages (along with David Dewhurst’s personal wealth); it is hard to see how Democrats could even hope to have one seat on the LRB in 2011, much less three.

Republicans have learned their mistakes from the past redistricting done by the LRB in 2001; there are easily six seats that would still be in GOP hands had the party not used more skilled personnel in drawing House seats. So even if Democrats managed to recapture the Texas House in 2010, their time in power could be very brief.

It may be hard to see Democrats gaining enough power to control redistricting in two years, just like it may be hard to see the Democrats in Texas winning a statewide office in 2010. With a legislative session to get through, there’s still a long way to go, until anyone knows what the political landscape will look like for 2010. An example of how quick things can change in politics.  Who would have thought two years ago that Joe Straus would now be the Speaker? Things can change quickly.

12.04.08

Mixed bag of items to check out

Posted in Commentary, Presidential Election, The Economy, Williamson County at 9:32 am by wcnews

Lawrence Lessig asks, Can Obama create a truly transformational presidency? He uses a great phrase, “economy of influence”, to frame the issue of lobby money in Washington. He also uses a great analogy to describe where our country stands right now.

Yet on the way to “transformation,” things have gotten impossibly hard for the president-elect. Imagine a cancer patient, on the way to the hospital to begin chemotherapy, involved in a drive-by shooting: This, sadly, is the state of our nation. However committed in principle the new administration is to fundamental change (that’s the chemo), a different focus must occupy the field just now (that’s the trauma), if only to stabilize the patient for the next stage. I count five major crises that Obama must tackle in the first hundred days. There’s not going to be a lot of time for fancy theorizing about transformation.

I first heard him use this argument on Charlie Rose, you can watch it here. He gave the keynote address at Netroots Nation over the summer, the famous 9 percent presentation.

Grits rips the recent “study” on the red light cameras in Texas, Scarce data makes new TXDoT study on red light cameras suspect.

These are surprising data that contradict many past studies on the topic. For example, in Lubbock red light cameras were discontinued after accidents overall increased 52% at intersections with cameras. Similarly, the state of Virginia eliminated their use after studies in every city using the devices found the number of accidents increased. In other jurisdictions, studies have found reductions in right-angle accidents but nearly equal increases in rear-end collisions, including in injury accidents.

So how did this study come up with such radically different results? The short answer may be that much of their data is incomplete and speculative. For camera operators who began before 2008:

there is no requirement for the local authority to provide a report to the Texas Department of Transportation concerning the 18 months of pre-installation crash data even if the system remains active in 2008. …

This presents a problem in reporting since some local authorities reported pre-installation crash data while others did not. This made the process of analyzing the effectiveness of the red light camera system difficult to perform since no base line data was present for some local authorities. In short, there was no metric to determine the rise, fall or static percent difference in crash rates at some of the reported treatment intersections.

Also some disturbing news for the state economy, Worries Over State Pension Funds.

With the losses in the stock market are the state’s pension funds in need of additional state money? Governor Perry is watching closely. At this point the Governor isn’t sure if state money will need to be used to make up for losses to the states various pension funds.

Once again I’m so happy the Bush/GOP privatization scheme for Social Security never happened.

And Williamson County isn’t immune to the bad economic news, Layoffs hit Leander
manufacturer
.

More than one hundred Leander workers will be out of a job in January. Luxury bathtub manufacturer Aquatic Industries, Inc. will shut down its facility in Leander on January 26.

“We’re very proud of that company,” said Leander Economic Development Director Kirk Clennan. “They were, I guess I’ll speak in the past tense, they were a historically significant company in our community.”

Aquatic has been an economic staple in Leander for nearly 20 years. Two local entrepreneurs created the company in 1989 and sold it several years later to Lasco Bathware.

11.12.08

The color purple

Posted in Election 2008, Good Stuff, Presidential Election, Williamson County at 3:27 am by dembones

This map (click to enlarge) shows the margin of victory in votes for the Democratic Presidential candidate in the Nov. 4 general election. Red and purple precincts had more votes for the Republican Presidential candidate. Barack Obama won the blue precincts.

The Democratic strongholds in the county are in the area from Round Rock to Georgetown, Cedar Park and the Hutto-Taylor area. There’s also a very nice pocket of Democrats in the area surrounding Bartlett. Republicans still hold vast leads in the precincts containing Sun City, Liberty Hill, Forest Creek and Behrens Ranch.

UPDATE: Due to a spreadsheet snafu, El Paso and Ellis counties had been reversed. The error has been corrected and the map updated.

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