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AIDS Walk Austin - it would be Magnificent to get matched donations

by: BeckyH

Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 07:32 AM CDT

cross-posted at Daily Kos

The first 25 donations of "at least" $100 are matched today, so today would be a great one to make a sizable donation. AIDS Walk Austin is in 2 1/2 weeks - on Sunday the 21st. I've only raised 47% of my (admittedly crazy high) goal of $5,000, so I thought I'd share some music & ask for donations. If you want to skip the U2 song & my babbling, you can make a donation at my AIDS Walk page. This is the 25th year for the Walk & my 25th year of walking it, so I really want to mark that milestone in style.

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An Open Letter to Bud Johnson

by: Rotkoff

Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:10 PM CDT

Dear Mr. Johnson -

I have to admit that when my friend Katherine Haenschen initially reported that a Republican in northwest Austin was lynching President Obama in effigy, by hanging an empty chair from a tree, I was a bit skeptical.

Surely, I thought, not in Travis County. Not now. There are plenty of ways for racists to say what they think about President Obama, without, you know, really saying what they think. Just yell "states' rights!" or falsely accuse the President of being a drug dealer of welfare. But a lynching in effigy? C'mon, it's two-thousand-and-frickin'-twelve. We live in an age where my 2 year old niece can use an iPhone. Is there some sad person out there who really thinks it is acceptable to lynch our African American president in effigy? That can't possibly be a thing!

Boy was I wrong.

It turns out that you knew exactly what you were doing when you hung an empty chair in front of your home. When asked about it, you replied "I don't really give a damn whether it disturbs you or not. You can take [your concerns] and go straight to hell and take Obama with you. I don't give a shit. If you don't like it, don't come down my street."

Mr. Johnson, I've got news for you. You don't matter. You're 73 years old, and your time is surely short. But as I type this, my one-quarter-Jewish, one-quarter-WASP, half-Indian American, brown-skinned children are sleeping peacefully in my home. They're being raised to love their country, to love their family, and to stand up to pitiful, sad, racist bullies like you. And one day you'll be gone. But the world you're leaving behind - one where a black man with a funny name can be elected President - it's my kids' for the taking, because they are the future. And Mr. Johnson, I don't give a damn whether that disturbs you or not. I don't give a shit. You're sad man. And if you don't like it, don't come down my street.

- Jeff Rotkoff

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Take Action: Protect Early Voting at Texas State

by: HaysDems

Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 11:29 AM CDT

(It is alarming that the Hays County Court may be limiting Texas State students' ability to vote conveniently during early voting. If you live in Hays County, please contact the Commissioners Court.   - promoted by Burnt Orange Report)

Contact the Hays County Judge and Commissioners today and request that Texas State have a full week of early voting!

In 2008, with record turnout, the county provided four days of early voting at Texas State, now they want to provide only two. Over 3,200 votes were cast at Texas State over those four days in 2008, with some students giving up due to lines. With the county's proposal not including San Marcos Public Library as an early vote site this year, students will have no other option in downtown San Marcos.

With 36,000 students, Texas State represents over 24% of the county and a vital constituency for Democrats.

We need to ensure that Texas State has as much opportunity to vote as other parts of the county.

Contact your County Judge and Commissioners today:

County Judge - Bert Cobb 512-393-2205, bert.cobb@co.hays.tx.us
Commissioner, Precinct 1 - Debbie Ingalsbe 512-393-2243, debbiei@co.hays.tx.us
Commissioner, Precinct 2 - Mark Jones 512-262-2091, mark.jones@co.hays.tx.us
Commissioner, Precinct 3 - Will Conley 512-847-3159, will.conley@co.hays.tx.us
Commissioner, Precinct 4 -  Ray Whisenant 512-858-7268, ray.whisenant@co.hays.tx.us

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The High Cost of Increasing Class Size

by: Jamie Sanderson

Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 11:20 AM CDT

A new report from a centrist policy group called the Hamilton Project concludes that cutting state education costs by increasing class sizes is a classic case of false economy-saving some money in the short run, but at a big price over the long haul. The authors estimate that the increase in the number of pupils per teacher nationwide from 2009 to 2011 will translate into a loss of $49.3 billion in lifetime earnings for every year this class-size increase lasts. In contrast, they estimate the budget savings from shrinking the teacher workforce and increasing class size at just $11.8 billion per year.

Check out their analysis here: http://www.hamiltonproject.org...

You also can read a Washington Post article on this study:

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The Inmates Have Taken Over The Asylum

by: HaysDems

Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 11:30 AM CDT

Yesterday's Republican primary should be a wake up call to Democrats. Texas Republicans opted for the most extreme candidates across the board. From Ted Cruz to Donna Campbell, Republicans proved that, for them, ideology is more important than leadership. This marks a new low in an alarming trend of the Republican Party's rapid exit from the mainstream.

The same day, nine-term Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) announced his retirement from congress, echoing Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), citing growing polarization in the Republican Party. Also the same day, Congressman Richard Hanna (R-New York) joined the shrinking chorus of moderate Republicans being pushed out of their party, commenting that he was frustrated with how Republicans are "willing to give such deferential treatment to our extremes," and commenting that it had rendered Republicans "unable to govern." The moderate Republican is a thing of the past. The Republican Party has fully embraced extremism and has demonstrated it will not work in good faith to move the country forward.

This Congress, already deemed the worst and the most polarized in history, will get a whole lot worse with Ted Cruz in the Senate. 

We HAVE to win in November.

The inmates have taken over the asylum. We cannot let extremist ideologues take over Texas.

From his ridiculous conspiracy theories to his plan to gut Social Security, Ted Cruz has proven he isn't fit to lead. Donna Campbell has announced her support for a 35% sales tax, which would destroy the Texas economy and raise taxes on middle class families. She also supports forcing women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest to give birth. In the 2011 Legislature, Jason Isaac voted to cut public education by $5.4 billion and cosponsored the bill that forces Texas women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds, and even voted against an exemption for victims of rape and incest.

Yesterday was also a victory for special interests, with Open Secrets publishing a special report about the outside money being poured into the Texas GOP senate race. Corporate front group Texas for Lawsuit Reform poured millions into Elizabeth Ames Jones' campaign, helping bruise Senator Jeff Wentworth going into a runoff with Donna Campbell. In the runoff, they switched their support to Campbell.

Texas Republicans also proved, yet again, how welcome Hispanic Texans are in today's Republican Party when they opted for obscure-but-white John Devine for Texas Supreme Court over sitting Justice David Medina, who was appointed by Rick Perry and endorsed by numerous Republican officeholders. Texas Republicans did the same in 2010, when they nominated unknown David Porter over Victor Carrillo, longtime member of the Railroad Commission. Carrillo attributed his loss solely to his Hispanic surname.

We have great candidates in Paul Sadler, John Courage, and John Adams.

With your help WE CAN win in November.

We've tried ideology in Texas; it has failed. It left us $27 billion dollars in the hole in 2011. Budget gimmicks from the last legislature mean that we'll begin the next legislature at least $12 billion in the red. That will mean more cuts to Texas schools, Medicaid, universities, community colleges, criminal justice programs, and others. We need to return to our roots and restore common sense in politics. Texas deserves better.

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This Is Exactly The Kind of Guy We Need

by: slinkerwink

Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:37 AM CDT

I can't tell you how often I'd roll my eyes and sigh in exasperation when reading about political leaders in our party deciding to go to the right, to stop selling progressive issues that make sense to voters, and to capitulate in favor of consultants that don't know their asses from a hole in the ground.

Which is why I yelled and clapped my hands in happiness when reading about the new Texas Democratic Party Chairman, Gilberto Hinojosa, saying that moving to the right and compromising on liberal issues hasn't worked out for Texas Democrats. He said, "The role of the Texas Democratic Party is to deliver the base."

To win, Hinojosa said Democrats must address other liberal issues that motivate core supporters, something the party hasn't always done in the past. Hinojosa admits he was one of the party leaders who thought pushing centrist positions was the way to win back independents and attract Republican moderates.

"They have left - not to return," Hinojosa said, adding that hard-core Democratic supporters lost interest and stopped voting.

The party will no longer hesitate to embrace issues important to the base, such as abortion rights, decriminalization of marijuana and equal marriage rights for nonheterosexuals, Hinojosa said. The party's platform takes liberal stances on many issues, and Hinojosa did not try to backpedal.

It all comes down to turnout. And getting the base to turn out in higher numbers than in the past would help turn Texas blue. It'll take lots of hard work, and contacting voters over and over again, but it's possible.

It's time to stop talking like Republicans and using code words to try to appeal to moderates. This is about elections, and getting people to turn out for our guys. We can't get that done if the language we use ends up depressing the base.

After all in 2008, we came damn close to reigniting the Democratic base. Even though John McCain won by 12 points in Texas, more than 3.5 million voters voted for President Obama. As the article says, that's 1.4 million more Democrats voting in 2008 than in 2010, and twice the number Bill White needed to beat Perry.

I'm with Gilberto Hinojosa on this, and will do anything I can to help him out. I love Texas, and I've been born and raised here for much of my life. I still believe that Texas will turn blue within my lifetime.  

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It was twenty years ago today

by: Robin Cravey

Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM CDT

In April I celebrated twenty years since my last joint. Our dismal American drug policy hasn't made much progress since then.  Today, as then, the whole world pays the price for our machinery of repression.  We should start now to dismantle the drug war industry.

I smoked my last joint on my birthday in 1992, watching the sun go down from the primitive campground at Pedernales Falls State Park.  I was planning to start law school in the fall, and I decided that as a lawyer, I would obey the law.  Our marijuana prohibition is one of our most benighted laws, but I intended to obey that, too.  And I have.

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The Gerrymander Cowards

by: Libby Shaw

Sat May 19, 2012 at 06:39 PM CDT

When the Texas Republican Party is not imposing more government regulation on a woman's right to choose or when it is not busy passing Voter ID laws that will make it more difficult for certain segments of the population to vote, or when it is not frantically scheming to shut down Planned Parenthood, it is shamefully redrawing district maps in order to keep this sorry red state a perpetually sorry red state.  Indeed the rights robbing Republican Party has overdosed on right wing steroids for the past two years.  The puppets for right wing anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist have been on a ruthless crusade to slash and burn the state's budgets.  This is especially true of school budgets. As my colleague Lightseeker has shared, in addition to witch hunts against women and voter rights, there has been a Republican all out assault on Texas school children.  

I guess this is what happens when a Party's politicians are so morally bankrupt that their only goal is to stay in office in order to serve themselves. To do this for the long-term takes some creative scheming because even Republicans know that one day a majority of people will no longer put up with the kind of insanity we've seen over the passed two years.  Indeed, a Party with such hapless lawmakers is driven to desperate measures in order to hang on to its seats in the big bad evil government.  At least it is big and bad according to Republican politicians who will routinely resort to scorched earth politics in order to keep their jobs in the place they say they hate the most.

Eventually folks are going to wake up and say enough is enough. We are not taking any more right wing lunacy policies that harm more than they help.  The GOP knows this and so it redraws district maps to make it easier for them to keep their jobs that mostly consist of throwing their constituents under the bus.  But if taxes are low, low, low, everyone should be happy, at least according to right wing thought.  

So imagine my displeasure when I voted early the other day and I could not find the candidate for whom I had decided to vote for U.S. Democratic House Representative in CD-07. Her name was not on the ballot because my precinct which is inside 610 near the Texas Medical Center in Houston has been redistricted out to tea party land in suburban Houston.  According to a friend who knows far more about redistricting than I do said the GOP moved Republican precincts out of districts like CD-07 into tea party land in order to keep Republican areas in suburban Houston securely loony as long as possible (my words, not his).  Apparently the GOP thinks U.S. Rep. Culberson is so invincible that he can hold a less red district with no problem.

Voters will decide Culberson's future in November. I just won't be among them this year.  For I have been gerrymandered to ol' Houston hanging Judge Ted Poe's district.  Hell hath no fury, Judge.  I remember getting grilled by you when summoned for jury duty years ago. I also remember how the Judge would humiliate convicted shop lifters by making them stand outside the store from which they had stolen wearing a sign acknowledging their former thievery. I think it would be equally fitting for Ted Poe to stand outside the U.S. House of Representatives while wearing a sign.

Earth to TX CD-02.  I don't work for you.

Many of us know that the Republican Party has been lying to the American people on so many levels for over 30 years. During the Reagan and G.W. Bush years we heard all about trickle down economics and its wonders.  According to the tiresome right wing spin artists if the rich are given tax cuts they will create more jobs for the middle and working classes.  Except that trickle down has never created jobs. Everyone knows this by now but that does not stop the GOP and Fox Faux News from its continual lying about it. Trickle down is a Trojan horse for tax cuts and a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the 1%. Media water carriers for Republican propaganda, Fox Faux News, has been faithfully beating the drums for the Party's voodoo economic policies for as long as I can remember.

Even the venture capitalist below gets the hard and fast reality that tax cuts don't create jobs.  

Cross posted on Texas Kaos and Daily Kos.

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Happy AAPI Heritage Month and Awesome AAPI Voter Poll!

by: Eugenia Beh

Fri May 04, 2012 at 00:22 AM CDT

(Good news from BOR reader Eugenia Beh about a landmark poll of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders. GOTAAPIV! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! What better way to kick off the month than by sharing the results of a new AAPI voter poll from the Asian American Justice Center and APIAVote?

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters are still largely untapped by presidential candidates and their parties even though they are expected to vote in record numbers this fall, according to a major new poll conducted by Lake Research Partners. The first-ever poll of AAPI voter attitudes shows that close elections in important states like Florida, Nevada and Virginia could go to the candidates who best engage AAPIs, a demographic with increasing political clout.

The poll marks the first time voting trends among the nation's fastest growing racial group - how they will vote this year and their views on a range of issues - have been examined. The effort surveyed more than 1,100 AAPI voters across the country last month and was released today by the Asian American Justice Center and APIAVote to bring attention to this crucial voting bloc at the start of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

The good news is that AAPIs identified overwhelmingly as Democrats in the poll, with almost 3/4 of respondents favoring President Obama over Mitt Romney. Plus nearly five out of six of those surveyed said that they will vote this November and half of them are more enthusiastic than ever to vote, a trend that has continued from the last few presidential elections. So go team! But then there's the not-so-great news:

[L]ess than a third were contacted by the Democratic Party in the last two years, while 37 percent of Republicans said they heard a great deal from their party over the same period.

Granted, Republicans haven't exactly been helping their cause by having people like Pete Hoekstra and our very own David Dewhurst run racist ads that attack Asians. But why should we just wait around for Republicans to alienate Asian American voters the way they have Latino voters? In swing states such as Florida, Nevada and Virginia, the Asian American vote can be decisive, especially if AAPI voters turn out at the same levels as they did in 2008.

Of course, the President isn't resting on his laurels with the AAPI community. This week, the campaign launched AAPIs for Obama with a conference call on Tuesday, May 1st, with the president's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng and her husband, Konrad Ng, and Mario Salazar, State Operation Vote Director for OFA-Nevada. The campaign also launched a new line of AAPIs for Obama merchandise, which yours truly has already ordered.

So what are we waiting for, Texas Dems? Did you know that Texas has the third largest Asian American population in the nation (behind only California and New York) and that we happen to have a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian American & Pacific Islanders in our midst? Let's GOTAAPIV!

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Poll Shows Mayor Lee Leffingwell With Near-20 Point Lead Over Brigid Shea


Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:46 AM CDT

(For those looking for today's poll released by BOR PAC on the Austin Mayoral race, here it is again. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

Burnt Orange Report PAC and Capital Area Asian American Democrats conducted a poll last week of likely voters in this May's municipal elections. The poll was an IVR poll of voters who had cast a ballot in either 3 of the last 3 city elections or 2 of the last 3 city elections. Results are below. The percentages are not weighted.

Austin Mayoral Election
Total Raw # Female Male 3/3C 2/3C
Leffingwell 45.4% 179 48.5% 41.1% 47.8% 42.5%
Shea 26.9% 106 28.1% 25.2% 27.6% 24.8%
Dafoe 13.7% 54 10.0% 19.0% 12.5% 16.3%
Undecided 14.0% 55 13.4% 14.7% 12.1% 16.3%
TOTAL 100.0% 394 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Leffingwell leads among 3/3 and 2/3 voters, he leads among women, and he leads among men. It is not clear how Shea spins these results to her advantage, given that she's almost 20 points down overall. If every undecided voter in this poll broke for her, she would still trail Leffingwell. Traditionally, undecideds break in proportion to the decided voters, so if that were the case here Leffingwell would easily top 50% while Shea would struggle to surpass 30%.

In general, however, the electorate looks fairly decided. Early voting begins next week, and given the number of forums in this city it's possible that every voter has already seen the candidates in person several times. (Just kidding. Sort of.) The barrage of TV and mail have yet to arrive, but again Leffingwell enjoyed such an overwhelming fundraising advantage over Shea that it is not clear how she marshals the resources to persuade voters to support her. There's no clear demographic here that seems to be breaking her way, and there are few undecided voters in the poll. Additionally, Leffingwell has won the lion's share of the endorsements in the race, as a broad range of organizations have chosen to throw their weight behind re-electing the Mayor. Leffingwell has received 21 endorsements to Shea's 8 and Dafoe's 1.

The poll also surveyed which local news source was most trusted by voters on city issues: the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Chronicle, or Austin Business Journal. The results are below, along with which candidate each news source's readers prefer.

Most Trusted News Source of Austin Voters
Total Raw # Leffingwell Shea Dafoe Undecided
Statesman 55.1% 172 55.8% 23.8% 11.0% 9.3%
Chronicle 28.8% 90 44.4% 38.9% 8.9% 7.8%
Biz Journal 16.0% 50 34.0% 16.0% 32.0% 18.0%

A few key take-aways here: readers most trust the Statesman, followed by The Austin Chronicle with Austin Business Journal bringing up the rear. Again, Leffingwell leads in all categories, though his margin among Chronicle readers is narrower than that of the Statesman. However, the poll suggests that the readership of the publication clearly favors Leffingwell and not Shea, despite the increasingly manifest viewpoints of the publisher.

The support for Dafoe is heavily male and strongly favors the Austin Business Journal, which suggests that a certain segment of Republican voters are choosing him as their "protest vote" over the two self-identified Democratic candidates, Leffingwell and Shea. Dafoe rings up 13.7% overall in the poll, and outperforms that percentage with men and people who most trust the ABJ. Whether Dafoe will do that well on May 12th remains to be seen. He may be the beneficiary of voters turning out for the various challengers in Places 2, 5, and 6.

Overall, the poll is positive news for Leffingwell -- he has a large lead over his main challenger, who is struggling to get to 30%. However, it's incumbent on Leffingwell's supporter to get themselves, their friends, and their colleagues out to the polls to make sure the Mayor wins handily on May 12th. Early voting begins Monday, April 30.  

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