The original post said Adriana Maestas wrote for National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health, she is a writer for Politics365. The post has been corrected.
Ronald Reagan said, "Hispanics are already Republican. They just don't know it yet.", and apparently they still haven't learned in Texas. For Republicans trying to connect with Hispanics there seems to be only bad news, and now a new poll suggests it's reflective of an actual disconnect Hispanics feel with the GOP. For the survey PAC+ interviewed 2,685 randomly selected registered Hispanic voters in Texas counties with the highest number of Latino eligible voters: Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant, El Paso and Harris. The findings give support to a major part of Democrats plan to take back Texas -- register and turnout Latino voters. According to pollster Dr. Julie Martinez Ortega, "Latino voters make up 43% of the 'Texas Blue' vote,".
Republicans most straightforward pitch to Hispanics has been to try and co-identify as "conservative" and play up shared family values. It appears that whatever assumptions about shared values Republicans made were incorrect. When asked, "When it comes to social issues -- such as religion, abortion and same-sex marriage -- which party do you generally think does the best job of representing your views? Democrats or Republicans?", 58% said Democrats and only 24% identified with Republicans. This backs up other recent polls that show Hispanics by large margins support a woman's right to end her pregnancy. Adriana Maestas, Latina writer for Politics365, gave an early warning to Republicans over their "conventional wisdom" on Hispanics and social issues prior to the 2012 election when she said, "...if the GOP continues to reach out to Latino voters based on the perceived social agenda. These kinds of messages may not be well received this election year." She was correct as 58% of those survey by PAC+ supported Obama and only 24% supported Romney.
On economic issues, "like jobs, the economy, and immigration", Hispanics still identified most with Democrats at 57%. One of the most successful tools Republicans have used is recruiting Hispanic candidates. A majority of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate because they were "Hispanic", with 44% saying they would be much more likely. Senator Ted Cruz accordingly got 32% of the Hispanic vote, but 21% of those surveyed actually thought he was a Democrat. Recruits or not, Republicans' hardline positions on issues like immigration and voter ID laws are likely to blunt any gains from individual candidates. A whopping 71% believe that "discrimination against Latinos" is a problem in the United States, with 36% saying it was a "big" problem. When asked about "voter suppression", 59% said if they knew it was happening it would make them more likely to vote.
The final construction of the Keystone XL pipeline carrying Canadian tar sands to the US has been back burner issue for progressives and conservatives alike with periodic twists, turns and spills. The consistent delay of its approval by the Obama Administration, or more specifically the State Department has pushed the stalemate into year 3, but in many ways it is still a victory for environmentalists and advocates of clean American energy. As recently as last week Vice President Joe Biden expressed his opposition, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ramped up his new FWD.us lobby group to promote its construction.
I was first introduced to TransCanada and their plans to pump bitumen from the Boreal forests of Alberta, Canada to my own backyard in Port Arthur, Texas for refinement in 2010. The Sierra Club contacted me about getting local citizens to testify at public hearings. All of a sudden my home county was caught in the middle of international energy policy. It was not a case as simple as progressives against and conservatives for it, there are legitimate landowner rights at issue here.
That's where the filmmakers of Above All Else come in. They have been following the unfolding story of Keystone XL through the experiences of Texas landowners, most notably David Daniel. Daniel started a tree-sit on his property which resulted in the Canadian company rerouting the pipeline around his land. I spoke with the Director and Producer John Fiege, whose films have been featured from Austin Film Festival to Cannes, about the overwhelming amount of data and and numbers of angles to approach the subject. I expressed my interest in covering the issue more but such a daunting task has led me down more rabbit holes than it has produced cohesive and informative but digestible articles. He agreed and said that was a large part of why he chose to tell the story of this group of landowners. The films website describes the film as follows:
Learn more about the film with a link to footage after the jump...
Today Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell stood alongside Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas Gun Sense's John Woods to implore Congress to act on sensible firearm legislation including background checks and ending the "gun show loophole". The event, one of over 100 across the US, was in conjunction with President Obama's call for a National Day of Action on gun violence prevention. The President is hoping that public pressure will force Congress to enact some changes on behalf of victims and their families. Speaking from the White House today he said, "We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago [after Sandy Hook] and make sure what we said wasn't just a bunch of platitudes, that we meant it,".
A rally called, "Texas Rally for Gun Sense" will also be held at the South Steps of the Capitol on April 6 at 1pm.
Mayor Leffingwell is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition which is comprised of over 900 big and small city mayors across the country. He said there has been a lot of talk on the federal level since Newtown and "now it's time for action".
We are here to support the President and Vice President in urging Congress to pass comprehensive and enforceable background check legislation, which is expected to come up in the next few weeks.
Under current law, criminals and other dangerous people avoid background checks by buying firearms, often at gun shows and online, from unlicensed "private sellers" who are not required by federal law to conduct the checks.
Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from buying firearms.
John Woods who represents Texas Gun Sense spoke about the tragic event that changed his life - when his girlfriend Maxine Turner was gunned down in class at Virginia Tech.
Click below the jump for more from John and a video of Chief Acevedo:
I am ashamed of myself for not doing my small part to make this an issue that is publicized and one to fight for. America should be ashamed of itself for this willful ignorance. Most importantly President Obama should be ashamed of himself for not leading effectively in solving the problem of veterans getting the benefits they've earned for going to war. Most Americans are oblivious of the terror most of our veterans faced on the battlefield and the struggles they must deal with as they are reintegrated into society.
Everyone loves to be patriotic on the Fourth of July, on Veterans Day, and at times when the country's uniformed soldiers are performing. Yet as one goes home after singing the Star Spangle Banner and America the Beautiful, most forget that the soldiers that were thanked with words deserve the corresponding deeds.
It is true that on any giving day, the mainstream media will provide a nibble or antiseptic snippet of the plight of the veterans that are waiting for their benefits. That comedian/satirist Jon Stewart is the one trying to make this an issue and assigning blame where it really belongs, speaks poorly of our entire mainstream media.
President Obama must be commended for providing budgets with large increases in veterans' benefits. President Obama made a whole lot of promises to veterans and fulfilled most. Michelle Obama has been working with veterans and military spouses to match them with private jobs. That said, having great benefits is one thing. Being able to access it is another. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, veterans are waiting over a year for their benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to provide key information to Congress and the public that shows the agency's ability to quickly provide service-related benefits has virtually collapsed under President Barack Obama.
Internal VA documents, obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting and authenticated by the agency, reveal that delays newly returning veterans face before receiving disability compensation and other benefits are far longer than the agency has publicly acknowledged. The documents also offer insight into some of the reasons for those delays.
The agency tracks and widely reports the average wait time: 273 days. But the internal data indicates that veterans filing their first claim, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, wait nearly two months longer, between 316 and 327 days. Those filing for the first time in America's major population centers wait up to twice as long - 642 days in New York, 619 days in Los Angeles and 542 days in Chicago.
The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama's presidency, to 245,000 in December - an increase of more than 2,000 percent.
Jon Stewart in the video below provides a strong critique of government and specifically President Obama. He makes a salient point that could be paraphrased as follows. Republicans can be blamed for much of the bad that is occurring in government. On this specific issue the President must accept responsibility and ensure that solutions are effected. After all, as the head of the party that promotes the truth that government makes a difference and only government can do certain things, showing failed government by having a broken VA system could insure that the party that hates government is returned to power.
Video at my site as HULU and DailyShow does not embed here.
President Obama is pushing very hard to get gun legislation through Congress. President Obama is pushing very hard to get comprehensive immigration reform. Every special interest from bankers, to drug makers seems to get waivers or special attention when it is deemed an emergency. The treatment of our veterans is an emergency. It is likely costing lives and livelihoods.
The inadequate dispensation of benefits to veterans is not the fault of our brave soldiers. It is of an incompetent process. It is time that every veteran is allowed to file for benefits and get them immediately. Every American files their taxes and gets their returns on the assumption that they are being truthful. Cheaters can be prosecuted at a later time. We owe at least that to our veterans.
Correction: I originally said Engage Texas was a 501c3, there are a 501c4, the story has been updated.
On Saturday a statewide grassroots coalition tentatively dubbed "Texas Obama Leaders" met in San Antonio to discuss all of the great volunteer opportunities within the progressive movement of our state. The daylong think tank-styled forum is a follow up to a similar one held in DC with the White House Office of Public Engagement during the "fiscal cliff" discussions. The group is not officially sanctioned by the Democratic Party but is more an organic group of Obama volunteers and campaign alumni from around the state who want to maintain momentum and some organizational structure to help push progressive causes in Texas.
The speakers included Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa and special assistant to the Chair Glen Maxey, Battleground Texas Executive Director Jenn Brown, Southern Regional Director of Organizing for Action Gregory Jackson, and State Director of Engage Texas Katrina Mendiola. All of the participants, about 60, were split into 4 rotating breakout groups, each with a timekeeper and facilitator, to conduct more intimate question and answer discussions with each speaker and each other. The event co-chairs and lead organizers of this event, Ian Davis and Judy Hall, said the purpose of this effort was to identify all of the opportunities to engage our networks in a way that uses all of our resources more efficiently and to allow Democrats from around Texas the ability to share ideas.
Glen Maxey said the TDP and its new VAN Director are focused on getting the VAN set up for grassroots organizers and precinct chairs to be able to get the data they need to organize within their community - including more cell phone numbers and email addresses. Chairman Hinojosa said the party would also like to capture more data from its organizers. He plans for the party to hold more VAN trainings around the state to show county parties and local activists how to utilize the tools that are currently available and introduce others being developed to update the TDP's organizing database in real time. Connecting and supporting organizers is important, but we must also have good candidates to support in order to win. Maxey and Hinojosa said that the party would aggressively move to fill out the Democratic ticket down ballot, especially in places like Amarillo where Republicans dominate local politics but demographics suggest Democrats are competitive.
For weeks Congressional Republicans, including Texas' own Senator John Cornyn criticized the President's comprehensive immigration reform proposal because they thought border security should be the top priority. On Tuesday Rep. Pete Gallego who represents the longest stretch of Texas-Mexico in Congress made it clear that the single biggest threat to border security is actually sequestration. In his first floor speech he admonished Congress for its finger pointing on the issue and challenged members to work together to solve the nation's problems.
"In small town West Texas when there's a fire everyone works together to put the fire out and no one focuses on how the fire started or who started the fire until after the fire is out. Here and now in Washington many folks are more focused on who is to blame for the sequester than trying to do something about it." - Rep. Gallego
The Congressman characterized the across the board cuts as having both economic and national security implications, saying, "Not having a vote this week is a decision by some in Congress for decreased border security, job loss and furloughs, and it devastates local communities and the state of Texas." His district contains a number of strategic military bases including Ft. Bliss in El Paso and Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio that could face furloughs in the tens of thousands.
His office also released this handy infographic of the impact of sequestration on the US-Mexico border. You can follow him on twitter at @RepPeteGallego and see his house floor speech below the jump.
Texas may not yet be blue but our border certainly is. In the state House, Texas Democrats represent the entirety of the Texas-Mexico border, while freshman Congressman Pete Gallego's 23rd district represents 800 of the 1,954 total miles along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Congressman appeared on MSNBC's Jansing & Co. to talk about the fate of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in this session of Congress.
I think immigration reform gets done this session of Congress. From the perspective of both parties it is time...I think the Republicans saw with what happened with the latino electorate last and time and in places like Texas thats a really significant thing. -Congressman Gallego
Obama won the 2012 election with over 70% of the Hispanic vote, and announcing Comprehensive Immigration Reform as a top 2nd term priority during the State of the Union has left Republicans both nationally and in Texas struggling to find a viable position on the issue.
Most people don't really care where the idea comes from, I think they want action, they want something to happen, they're tired of the prolonged conversations. -Congresman Gallego
Krystal Ball gave an impassionate and prescient rant on unions on MSNBC's, The Cycle. In her rant she urged citizens not to bask in the aspiration of President Obama's speech. While the speech was a very progressive speech, she states that there is one issue that went unmentioned, the decline of the American union membership.
Union membership rates are at a 97 year low. She correctly implies that unions are to Democrats what big business and the wealthy are to Republicans. She correctly states that as labor unions go, so goes the middle class. One of her best statements was:
The America we know and love is the America we know and love because of unions. They fought for better wages, equal pay, equal rights, worker safety, and even the weekend. They continue to fight today for the vision of America articulated so eloquently by the President.
Many Americans because of subliminal programming tend to not support unions because union workers make more and they wrongfully believe union workers take more than their fair share out of the wage pool. Ironically what they should be doing is joining unions to form a united front to increase their wages and benefits. After all, individual workers do not stand a chance at negotiating against corporations or for that matter any business.
Every American worker should be in a union. Corporations have high paid lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce, and other trade groups. They use those resources to maximize passage of laws beneficial to the companies. Who represent thee workers? Unions do. As unions decline, so does the middle class.
On Tuesday Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said President Obama's Administration wants to annihilate the Republican Party. Specifically the speaker said:
We are expecting over the next twenty two months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal; to just shove us into the dust bin of history.
It is the constitutional duty of the President to execute laws and to protect and secure the country. Over the years the Republican Party has become a clear and present danger to middle class America and as such the survival of America as we know it. Their policies which for the most part are still in effect have created an intractable wealth and income disparity. Ensuring that the Republican Party of today is non-existent, preferably replaced with a Conservative Party of real values, while different from the Progressive values most Americans want, is a good back stop for liberal excesses.
While the above statement might sound harsh or partisan, it is neither. If a party bases its economic and social principles on proven lies, and then build a complete supporting infrastructure to promote policies based on these lies (Fox News, The Heritage Foundation, the Laffer Curve), then they do not have the moral right to exist as a legitimate party in our country.
George HW Bush coined the name voodoo economics to describe the basic philosophy of Reagans economic policies when he was running against him in the 1980 primaries. Even David Stockman, Reagan's budget directory and the prime pusher of Supply Side Economics (Voodoo Economics) said his party, the Republican Party, destroyed the US economy. He also disparaged Paul Ryan's budget.
While Vice-President George HW Bush played along for eight years over an economy inflated by excessive defense spending for hardware we did not need, and deficits from draconian tax cuts mostly for the wealthy, he redeemed himself by breaking his "no new taxes" pledge that started a time of fiscal responsibility. Of course President Clinton completed the task later with his tax increases that ultimately balanced the budget and created a robust economy.
One can only hope that the President will use the bully pulpit to finally fight the intransigent Republicans head on. The mainstream media has allowed the lies to seem plausible. This failure has allowed them to get much of their policies into effect. Over the years it has decimated the middle class. The new aim of their economic theories will surely complete the path of the middle class to indentured servitude.
Mr. President, how can I help annihilate the current Republican Party and leave the path for the emergence of a real Conservative Party? Use your bully pulpit to help the grassroots lead the way.