David Sirota’s column this week, Tyranny Of The Tiny Minority.
In the Karl Rove age of base politics, this Senate setup means that most domestic reforms will not come from D.C., no matter which party controls Congress or the presidency. Change will come instead from the arenas that are more democratic and have no filibuster: state legislatures.
This isn’t wishful thinking. As energy, universal health care and consumer protection initiatives face Senate filibusters, legislatures are acting. For instance, California already passed one of the planet’s most far-reaching clean energy mandates and may soon enact a universal health care plan. North Carolina passed predatory lending laws that are setting national standards. Such examples could fill a phone book.
Of course, foreign policies like the Iraq War are federal issues and legislating those policies must involve the Senate. But the filibuster hardly means the campaign to end the war is pointless â€” it just means it requires a new strategy making the Senate’s drawbacks the campaign’s strength.
Specifically, Senate Democrats whine about not having 60 votes to pass Iraq-related legislation. They pretend they are innocent bystanders with no means to act, and some anti-war groups give the charade credence by echoing these excuses. Yet, if properly pressured, those Democrats might be able to muster 41 votes to stop war funding bills.
It is all about comprehending power. Geoghegan’s book exposes the mechanics permitting a tyranny of the tiny minority â€” one that makes most of us feel disenfranchised. But the numbers also explain which arenas will likely deliver results, and which will not; where we should expend resources pushing for change, and where we should not; and what strategies are appropriate, and what strategies are not.
The question is, will we heed the lesson?
There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
A Progressive pastor’s take on what could have been, What Happened to You, Mr President (?)
Yet you lingered and kept asking questions. I remember you asking me, Jim, I don’t understand poor people. I’ve never lived with poor people or been around poor people much. I don’t understand what they think and feel about a lot of things. I’m just a white Republican guy who doesn’t get it. How do I get it? I still recall the intense and sincere look on your face as you looked me right in the eyes and asked your heartfelt question. It was a moment of humility and candor that, frankly, we don’t often see with presidents.
What happened to you, Mr. President? The money needed for expanding health care to poor children in America is far less than the money that has been lost and wasted on corruption in Iraq. How have your priorities stayed so far from those children, whom you once agreed were so central to the soul of the nation? What do they need to do to get your attention again? You will be literally barraged by the religious community across the political spectrum this week, imploring you not to veto children’s health care. I would just ask you to take your mind back to a little meeting in a Baptist Sunday school classroom, not far away from where you grew up. Remember that day, what we all talked about, what was on your heart, and how much hope there was in the room. Mr. President, recall that day, take a breath, and say a prayer before you decide to turn away from the children who are so important to our nation’s soul and to yours.
Onbly a miracle can stop a veto.
Last week EOW linked to a post about Rep. Mike Krusee getting fundraising help from House Speaker Tom Craddick and Gov. Perry, who’s extremely toxic in HD-52 because of his TTC scheme. Craddick will help him with his right flank but Perry won’t help him with any flank. With the likelihood of Krusee keeping his seat diminishing by the day I guess he needs to build up his
retirement campaign fund to a very substantial figure. And if the governor can at least help on that front then so be it, it seems.
But yesterday lame duck Speaker Tom Craddick announced his house member picks for a joint “study committee” on trasnportation and Krusee was not on it. Ben Wear has the story, Committee missing a notable name.
Absent from the trio: state Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, who since 2003 has been chairman of the House Transportation Committee. That would seem to make him more than a bystander on this issue, which roiled the Legislature this spring and is at the core of the evolving transportation funding debate.
But Krusee said today he understands the logic of why Craddick named others, and that his feelings arenâ€™t hurt.
â€œNot at all,â€ Krusee said. â€œFor the obectives weâ€™re trying to reach, for the public to perceive the process as far and open, I thikn these are good appointeesâ€¦ . Many people do not regard me as objective because Iâ€™ve been at it for so long.â€
Wrong! The reason people don’t regard you as objective is because you’re not objective. You’re for tolling everything, no matter what. It’s the right thing to do to leave Krusee off of this is this committee. It will at least look like, without him on the committee, that there may be a chance to study this issue from a different approach. It’s doubtful that much will change because the house members on this committee are two Republicans and a Craddick D. Meaning there’s little chance they’ll talk much about the neglect and defunding of our transportation infrastructure in Texas and using the gas tax as any part of a solution.
But back to Krusee. Having his vice chair, Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, on the committee is probably a foreshadowing of who’d be chairing this committee if lame duck Craddick is somehow able to cling to the gavel for another session. Krusee has absolutely no credibility left on the transportation issue due to his single vote against the toll moratorium bill in the house last session and his being owned by construction and transportation interests. Another reason for his credibility problem is the aforementioned “toll everything” stance. But Krusee’s main problem is he’s just become too toxic on this, his signature issue.
If Krusee were to somehow survive it seems pretty clear, from these recent occurrences, that his influence has already diminished considerably. If Craddick is back as Speaker, Krusee won’t be as chair of Transportation. It’s also doubtful he’d get that chair back with a new Speaker, who’d probably want someone with much less political baggage on this issue than Krusee. Of course if, and it’s becoming more and more likely, the House changes back to Democratic control he won’t be around anyway so that wouldn’t be a concern. It’s clear from all of this that it’s time to start over in HD-52 and that means it’s time for Diana Maldonado to become our new representative.Â Much more on that in the near future.
The latest GOP scare tactic is the newest “TxDOT ad” that’s currently running in all the state papers. Here’s the SAEN’s version, TxDOT says it’s near edge of roadwork funding cliff.
State transportation officials cried “uncle” Thursday, saying federal and state lawmakers have raked so much money from the highway department that it’s running out of funds to build roads.
Lawmakers had help from rising construction costs, which jumped 62 percent in five years. But federal cutbacks, state diversions of gas-tax funds and new restrictions on hampering private investments in toll roads have delayed projects and could cancel others, officials said.
The conservative neglect of our transportation infrastructure over these last 15 years has finally come to fruition in their well planned self-fulfilling prophecy. They’ve bankrupted our transportation infrastructure in Texas and the only way we can have new roads they tell us, of course, is to sell them off the the corporations. Enough of the boogeyman stuff Ric. It’s time for someone in this state to lead on this issue already! Let’s raise and index the gas tax and be done with it already.
Did you know there was such a thing as the Border Trade Alliance (BTA)? Looks like a cozy group of corporations and local entities, you can join for $150 investment. Don’t worry, EOW didn’t know about it either. Nonetheless, Sen. Cornyn spoke to them this week in a live video feed, via The Chronic, Cornyn Takes Wimpy Stance on Border. Wimpy? Sure. But EOW thinks it was more “weasely” than anything else. It looks like Cornyn’s trying to have it both ways. See what you think is he for or against a wall or a fence?
Cornyn, no doubt knowing heâ€™ll be pulling more votes from, say, the Dallas-Fort Worth area than the Rio Grande Valley, sticks by the border wall â€“ at least a partial one â€“ although he says itâ€™s only one aspect of stemming illegal immigration. â€œI believe that the primary solution with border security has to be more Border Patrol agents, because right now we only have about 10,000 Border Patrol agents. New York City, by way of comparison, has about 40,000 police officers. So we clearly need more human capital, more boots on the ground. And then, I believe that technology remains the primary answer beyond the human component â€¦ Now fencing, which I do believe is one component of the solution, has to be done in a cost-effective and an intelligent and reasonable sort of way. I have long said that I do not support a fence, or as some said, a wall, between the United States and Mexico. Thatâ€™s irrational and just doesnâ€™t make sense, because we know that people can come over fences or walls; they can go under them; they can go through them, given sufficient opportunity. And so thatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important to have the three legs of the stool: more boots on the ground, more and better technology, and in some hard to control places, we need to have â€“ Border Patrol needs to have some sort of responsible solution to the fencing issue.â€ Cornyn also said he supports a management program to control Carrizo cane, an invasive, tall plant that hinders border agents; eradicating it, he said, could minimize the need for fencing.
Is he for or against the fences?Â It’s a component of the solution, but in the next sentence he says he doesn’t not support a fence, or a wall and ends with the need for a responsible solution to the fencing issue.Â Alright, what would that be Senator?
More here from the Rio Grande Guardian, Cornyn: U.S.-Mexico relations are at their lowest ebb.
That answers the question posed in a TDP email today, Will Cornyn Vote to Deny Texas Children Health Care Again? From the email:
â€œIf John Cornyn votes against bipartisan SCHIP legislation one more time, heâ€™s forfeited the right to say he represents the people of Texas, because voting against kids from working families hurts all Texans,â€ said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie. â€œWith the highest rate of uninsured kids in the nation, Texans canâ€™t afford for John Cornyn to make the same mistake twice.â€
Roll call vote here. Think Progress has more, Senate overwhelmingly passes SCHIP.
Defying a veto threat from President Bush, the Senate just passed legislation expanding the State Childrenâ€™s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), by a vote of 69-30
The Senate has enough to override a veto.Â To emphasize how far out of the mainstream Conryn is on this vote, Texas’ other Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison voted for the SCHIP bill.
Rick Noriega and Mikal Watts [.PDF] have both blasted Cornyn for his vote against this last time and will surely do the same this time.
Anytime someone is applying for a job it’s only natural that they would want to highlight the positive and omit negative. But it’s also imperative in a job interview that when asked about a character flaw or previous mistake that the person shows they’ve corrected that flaw and/or learned from that mistake to prove that it’s no longer an issue so the flaw or mistake doesn’t happen again.
In today’s AusChron article on Precinct 1 Constable candidate Robert Chody, The Millionaire Who Would Be Constable, we learn that APD settled a policy brutality lawsuit – involving himself and another officer, Jerry Sullivan – shortly after winning the lottery and just before leaving the Austin Police Department. Read the rest of this entry �
Via Naked City section.
Progressive Texas bloggers have formed a new political action committee, the TexBlog PAC, “to effectively harness the power, energy, talent, and financial resources of the online, progressive community to make Texas a better place by electing Democratic candidates at all levels of state and local government.” A fundraiser Monday night at the home of public-policy activist Kurt Meachum and attorney Amy Clark Meachum raised more than $3,500, and in only two months of existence, the PAC has raised more than $10,000 total. Partygoers mixed with the likes of Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Valinda Bolton, Mark Strama, Lon Burnam, Pete Gallego, former Rep. Glen Maxey (who is running for Travis Co. tax assessor-collector), and Travis Co. Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt. Gallego addressed the partygoers with real optimism at what just two elections ago would have been mere fantasy: a Democratic majority in the Lege. After reaching a low of 62 Dems in the House in 2003, the donkeys have now climbed back up to 70, the latest due to Grand Prairie’s Kirk England switching parties. That leaves them only six away from a majority, a prospect that clearly had partygoers giddy. For more, look at any number of prog blogs, such as www.capitolannex.com, www.offthekuff.com/mt, and www.burntorangereport.com.
Here’s BOR’s report from the event, TexBlog PAC: A Huge Success!
The press release asks Who Bankrolls Your Legislators? Damn good question. Here are the key findings:
- 378 major candidates raised $158 million for 173 legislative and top statewide offices in the 2006 election cycle;
- The candidates who won these 173 races accounted for two-thirds of all the money raised by candidates seeking these offices ($105 million).
- 142 powerful individuals who contributed totals exceeding $100,000 apiece accounted for an overall total of $52 million in donations.
- 132 institutional donors that contributed totals exceeding $150,000 apiece accounted for an overall total of $65 million in donations.
- The largest interest group, Lawyers and Lobbyists, accounted for 15 percent of the money raised by candidates seeking these offices ($23 million).
- Single contribution checks of $10,000 or more accounted for 30 percent of all the money raised ($48 million).
- House candidates raised 81 percent of their campaign funds outside their districts ($48 million).
- Senate candidates raised 70 percent of their money outside their districts ($14 million).
- 9 percent of the total money raised ($14 million) arrived on the so-called â€œLate Trainâ€ that ran between the November 7, 2006 Election Day and the start of the January 2007 legislative session.
Here are the pages for Williamson County legislators:
Sen. Steve Ogden
Rep. Mike Krusee, from the AAS article on the report:
State Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, who leads the House Transportation Committee and champions toll roads, was favored by construction and concrete companies. His top three donors were from those industries.
Rep. Dan Gattis
AAS has the story, House votes to expand children’s health insurance program.
The state-federal program provides coverage for 6.6 million children from families that live above the poverty level but have trouble affording private health insurance. The proposed expansion, backed by most governors and many advocacy groups, would add 4 million children to the rolls.
The bill drew support from 45 House Republicans, many of them moderates who do not want to appear indifferent to low-income children’s health needs when they seek re-election next year.
But 151 Republicans sided with Bush.
Republican Reps. John Carter of Round Rock, Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Michael McCaul of Austin voted against the expansion.
Roll call vote here. Know this, the Cost of 41 Days of the Iraq War = Cost of 365 Days of Health Care for 10 Million Unprotected Children in America. This article from The Nation has more, Poverty Is Hazardous to Your Health.
Obviously Carter thinks his constituents won’t hold him accountable for voting against making sure more children have health care. As a country, I had hoped, we could all agree, at least, that we should insure ALL of our country’s children. It’s sad that to Carter insurance company profits takes precedence over insuring our children. This is a shameful vote by our Congressman.
From what Shelter Concerns has posted it appears conditions may be slowly getting better at the shelter. They have a rundown of consultant Gary Coe’s top ten concerns about the shelter. Short form below:
- Too many people trying to run the shelter.
- Facility capacity.
- Staff levels and schedules were a problem.
- Kennel management was lacking.
- City and County rules and regulations are not consistent with the shelter.
- Lack of supplies. How to obtain supplies.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are not complete. SOPs have been changing day-to-day.
- No idea what the euthanasia rate is.
- Emancipet contract (spay/neuter) a big issue.
- IT computer problems.
Shelter Concerns has the full list with much more explanation of each item. Also more on the meeting, and apparently Pct. 3 commissioner Valerie Covey still doesn’t get it. Here’s the wrap up of the meeting.
Covey continues to be extremely negative and unsupportive of change. She continually tried to pick apart at what Coe and others said. She even got into [it] with Leander Councilman Perez who told her â€œLet her (Schneider) do her job.â€ I did notice that for once she appeared to be on her own when complaining about issues. I feel strongly that she needs to be released from her position on the Board. If she remains, change will occur slowly or possibly not at all.
I was very pleased with the meeting. Most of the issues I have been addressing for the last three months were finally spoken about in public. In my opinion, the success of the shelter will rest with the Director and her staff. However, the Board of Directors, Council members, Commissioners and Mayors need to provide support and let the Director do her thing. I was able to meet Ethel Spence and Cheryl Schneider. I was impressed with their knowledge and passion. I think they will make a strong team. I was happy to hear Schneider say â€œI like specifics. I am a numbers person.â€ Gary Coe did a nice job of presenting the facts and giving credit, when due, to the appropriate staff. I think the shelter is on the right track.
My concerns are a change to the hold period of only 72-hours straight, possibly removing the Volunteer Coordinator position from the budget permanently and when Coe leaves will the Board and others still express their support for these necessary changes as well as provide for Schneider and Spence. Will they stand by the Director and her team? We know how easily some go back on their wordâ€¦especially when no one is watching!
Yes we do. Thanks for all the hard work on this.
TDP has an article up as well, Hired consultant tracks Wilco shelter’s disarray.
Coe said it is this lack of organization that has created so many problems for the shelter in the past and urged the board to take his recommendations seriously.
â€œI am confident that if you don’t implement these things you will find yourself back where you were two months ago and it will crater again,â€ Coe said.
Well there’s hope now, which is more than we’ve been able to say for a while.
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