(Thanks to former BOR staffer Matt Glazer for this guest post on the importance of filling judicial vacancies in the fight against the war on women. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
In Texas, if you are a progressive, your first and last line of defense from the ALEC inspired, Tea Party passed legislation that comes from the near Republican Super Majorities in our legislature are our courts.
Before I can get to a solution, let me outline the current problem our 3rd branch of government currently faces.
Sadly, there is a crisis in our courts. Judicial vacancies plague the country but Texas is one of the worst offenders. Our federal district courts have 7 vacancies currently. One of those vacancies has existed since President Barack Obama was elected to his first term. How are those vacancies filled? Well, our duly elected U.S. Senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are supposed to give nominees to the White House and then the Senate is supposed to pass them. As we have seen recently with the filibuster debate, neither of those things is happening.
(Thanks to former BOR staffer Matt Glazer for bringing this to our attention. Please sign the petition! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Over the last few years, groups across the country have called for an end to describing the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants who live in America as "illegal." The movement is headlined by the efforts of Jose Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who announced in 2011 that he is an undocumented immigrant. Since that time, activists from across the country have pressured elected officials and news organizations to stop using the term "illegal" when describing America's millions of immigrant aspiring citizens.
The term has gotten a lot of attention this past week, following the Associated Press' decision to no longer use of the word "illegal" as an adjective to describe a person.
Republicans tend to use the word "illegal immigrant" and "alien" far more often than Democrats, who instead use the word "undocumented," the survey found.
Five of the top ten users of the past five years are still in Congress. The others have retired, resigned or died.
Nine of the top ten users were Republicans. The other was the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, a leading advocate of immigration reform, who placed sixth on the list.
Just recently, the Associated Press has announced that they will stop using the term "illegal immigrant" or the term "illegal" when describing a person. They correctly reasoned that a behavior is illegal, but a person is not. The New York Times is also reconsidering using the term.
Words matter. People matter. When Congressman Smith and Poe dehumanize any person or group for any reason, it is important we, as a society tell them enough is enough. There is an opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue and tell Smith and Poe the following:
Stop using the term "illegal immigrant." An analysis by the Sunlight Foundation has found that you are the two most frequent users of this offensive term in Congress over the last five years. Please follow the example of the Associated Press and stop using this insulting term-no human beings are "illegal." A behavior is illegal, but a person is not.
A Smith staffer has said that the San Antonio Republican will continue to use the phrase and encouraged the media to keep quoting people when they make the inappropriate statement. It is time to make your voice heard to tell Congressman Smith and Poe you agree with the Associated Press and it is time to stop using the phrase, "Illegal Immigrant".
To add your name to Progress Texas' petition to get them to stop using this archaic and offensive term click here.
(We're excited to bring you this great guest post from former BOR Editor and current Progress TX ED Matt Glazer! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Originally posted at Progress Texas. Matt Glazer is the former Editor of Burnt Orange Report and current Executive Director of Progress Texas. This is an open letter drafted in response to Tea Party Conservative and fringe candidate, Ted Cruz, and his response to having Texans across the state tweet at hm a very simple phrase, "Hey @TedCruz - stop sending your campaign money to Rush Limbaugh!". Apparently, Mr. Cruz did not like citizens engaging him.
Dear Ted Cruz,
The Progress Texas community understands you are running as a fringe Tea Party Conservative candidate for U.S. Senate, and that you feel you need to double down and show support for Rush Limbaugh. Your advisors lead you astray when they told you bail Rush Limbaugh out and now they have you in a box.
Let's give some back story really quickly. When Rush Limbaugh started his attack on women, and Sandra Fluke specifically, we didn't think that was very Texan. And since Rick Perry made Rush Limbaugh an Honorary Texan and a spokesperson for the state, we made sure all of our members were aware. Thousands of you made your voice heard and told Perry to revoke Rush's Honorary Status. Of course, Rick Perry, when asked by the Texas Tribune, dodged the question on whether he would do anything about the issue but he did decide to start calling all of us names and drive a wedge between people trying to make their voice heard in the Governor's office.
Not long after the Governor's name calling, Progress Texas heard something surprising - a candidate for higher office advertising and financially supporting Rush Limbaugh's war on women. That candidate was Ted Cruz.
Almost two full weeks later, Mr. Cruz, you had to do what most Tea Party Republicans are doing in Texas, start calling people who want their voice heard in government names. That's not very Senatorial.
In a page long, personal post on your campaign website, you felt compelled to endorse Rush Limbaugh's hateful speech and called him a conservative champion:
Rush has been a hero to the conservative movement for decades. He's passionate and he's fearless.
They're attacking Rush because he speaks the truth and stands up to their liberal agenda. And I am proud to advertise on his show. In fact, in light of these attacks, we might even up the buy...
Well Mr. Cruz, all of us at Progress Texas want to thank you for telling us that you support, and therefore endorse, Rush Limbaugh. We want to thank you for saying he speaks for the conservative movement. We appreciate you making it clear where you stand on the issues. While conservatives running for national office, advertisers, and radio stations across the country abandon Mr. Limbaugh, we appreciate you letting us know that Texas conservatives stand with him.
"What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex."
"We are getting screwed, even though we don't meet her personally."
"I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between her knees..."
"Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade?"
"The woman goes up to Congressional Committee and says she's having sex so damn much she's going broke."
"Ms. Fluke, and the rest of you feminazis, if we're going to pay for your contraceptives...if we're going to have to pay for this...and thus pay to have sex, we want something for it...We want you to post the videos online so we can see so we can see what we are getting for our money."
"The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There I said it."
"What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in trouble."
"Obama does not have authentic slave blood. But Michelle does..."
"It is clear that Senator Obama has disowned his white half, that he's decided he's got to go all in on the black side."
"Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement: Halfrican-American actress Halle Berry."
"He even talks honky around white people."
"So Obama had a menorah there and he lit 'em all. I'm sure he thought it was Kwanzaa while talking about loyalty to Israel."
"We're being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles. Bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president. We've got to accept this."
Mr. Cruz, we understand why you have to stand by Rush and attack Texans who disagree with you. You are the underdog and presumptive loser in a U.S. Senate race. Not to mention, I am sure the advertising rate is really cheap right now and it might be one of the few places you can afford to advertise. That being said, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. And you are running to represent every Texan, not just the far right Tea Party Conservatives. We are sad to see you support Rush's hate speech but we appreciate your frankness and response.
Hopefully you, Mr. Cruz, you will respect the voices of Texans who voice their concerns and frustrations with your financial support of a conservative champion who constantly and consistently attacks women, minorities, and those that want to get involved in their community and improve their government.
P.S. Mr. Cruz, you have asked for Texans to make their voice heard on your Facebook page. I hope you don't mind we will be encouraging our members to talk with you on Facebook and Twitter too. Of course, I hope you won't ignore them or censor their voices. Just as a reminder, here is the direct call to action from your post:
Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus will stand with Rep. Brandon Creighton this morning to publicly back Creighton's HCR 50, which is a resolution that resolves, in part, "That sovereignty be claimed under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; and, be it further resolved, that this serve as notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist from mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers, effective immediately; and, be it further resolved, that all compulsory federal legislation not necessary to ensure rights guaranteed the people under the Constitution of the United States that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed."
When analyzed on potential impacts on the Texas economy, this partisan push appears to create 0 jobs and doesn't do anything to fix the ailing Texas revenue streams and does nothing to balance against the Texas budget shortfall (remember, that is an historic $27 billion to $31 billion deficit).
Also, this does nothing to help preserve the 100,000 to 216,000 jobs being lost because of the proposed conservative party's budget.
Secession talk does play well with Republican Primary voters though. So does attacking Washington. Expect more of this and less talk about moving the Texas economy forward.
State Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) issued the following statement in response to Perry:
This divisive states' rights rhetoric is out of place and unbecoming of a legislative body. As my colleagues cheer on this 10th amendment resolution, they should be mindful that these types of resolutions asserting state sovereignty stir up reminders of the Jim Crow era.
The sad reality is that Southern states used the states' rights arguments to justify slavery, school segregation, poll taxes and literacy tests. If this resolution had the force of law, milestones like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act could be voided in Texas.
Our state's leaders need to take responsibility for their words and steer away from the hateful discourse that's caused a heated political environment. As they discuss the role of the federal government, I hope they consider federal legislation and how it has improved the lives of Texans.
Gov. Rick Perry plans to be in the Dallas area on Tuesday to meet with national anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, whose no-new-taxes pledge has been signed by many Texas legislators and Perry himself. The two are likely to appear together in front of the media at some point. Norquist is coming to Texas to raise money for his group, Americans for Tax Reform.
This comes n the heels of Rick Perry's refusal to meet with Texans affected by the massive $31 billion budget shortfall-- ADAPT.
Last week, disabled Texans attempted to meet with Governor Perry in his office. When the staff refused their request to meet and took semi-violent actions, a sit in occurred.
A person involved said on background:
A few members of ADAPT showed up to meet with the Governor's staff. When ADAPT opened the door the Governor's staff rushed the door slamming one ADAPT member's hands in the door for several minutes. The Governor's office finally shut and locked the door, and turned all the lights out in the office.
40 ADAPT OF TEXAS members have now occupied the 2nd floor offices of the Governor chanting and demanding that RP support using all of the Rainy Day fund and make no cuts to home and community services.
He said people with disabilities who protested outside the GOP governor's offices Tuesday blocked employees and visitors to gubernatorial offices: "Their actions ... are not the way to get a meeting with the governor."
Bold statement saying ADAPT members and onlookers said the protest started because of the way Perry's office responded.
The Express News continued saying:
Instead, their actions got stanchions and ropes set up to protect the area surrounding Perry's offices from the public, along with a Department of Public Safety officer standing guard. They also got some attention for the issue - and a court date.
Eleven people - nine using wheelchairs - each were issued a summons and charged with criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor, for staying at the Capitol past its 10 p.m. closing time, said DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange.
The protesters with disabilities want lawmakers to protect the home and community services that allow them to live outside of nursing homes. They want them to use all of the rainy-day fund, which is expected to have $9.4 billion that could be spent with a supermajority vote of lawmakers.
Bob Kafka, a statewide organizer with the disabilities rights group ADAPT of Texas, said such cuts don't make sense economically or for people's lives.
"One of the chants we used while outside the governor's office was: 'I'd rather go to jail than die in a nursing home,'" Kafka said. People with disabilities weren't the only ones protesting.
Miner, a man who needs to be in the public spotlight attacking Texans, echoed very similar positions to theDallas Morning News.
Last week, Perry refused to meet with people will have to feel the full brunt of the Republican Parties inability to manage our state budget and forceful resistance to collect outstanding fees or fix broken revenue models. Today, he will meet with the man who believes we should shrink government responsibility to be so small it can be "drowned in a bathtub".
We continue to see Perry and the Republican Parties misplaced priorities.
For more fun, read some Grover Norquist quotes here.
Even though there are 101 House Republicans in the 150-member Texas House, House Democrats just scored a major victory for open government today.
As I wrote below, House Republicans were about to create a rule that ended all public testimony on legislation. However, House Democrats, led by Rep. Yvonne Davis and Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, managed to save the practice of the Texas House of Representatives and maintain that the public should give testmony on legislation, and not on issues.
The ruling from the Chair in the House rolled back the points of order and ruling from the Speaker that almost set up the dangerous precedent of ending public testimony. Thanks to the attention of Rep. Davis and Rep. Martinez-Fischer, a deal was struck to send House Bill 15 back to Committee -- so they could do it right this time -- and bring the bill back to the floor tomorrow.
Process can be easy to miss, and very messy. But today, two House Democrats in a body of super-majority Republicans scored an impressive and essential victory for democracy in Texas. For everyone who ever wondered what we could do this session, this is it.
Right out of the gate, House Republicans are using their super majority to completely rewrite thirty years of precedent in the Texas House and could, depending on an official legal ruling that everyone at the Texas Capitol has been waiting on for almost two hours, create an opportunity for the elimination of all public testimony on legislation.
Here's what's going on:
The House of Representatives is taking up their first bill of the session right now, House Bill 15. That particular piece of legislation requires women to receive a sonogram before having an abortion. While discussing the ridiculous nature of the bill, a point of order was called on the legislation. For those not familiar with the official procedures of the Texas House, a point of order is called if the legally required procedures for the passage of legislation are not followed correctly. A point of order has the effect of removing the bill from the Calendar.
The point of order was raised on House Bill 15 because the Committee Chair took testimony on the issue, but not on the actual bill. Those who testified on the bill testified on the topic, or "matter" of the bill, and once their testimony was over, the bills were laid out. This goes against years of House precedent, where a bill is laid out and then testimony is taken on the specific legislation. Additionally, the initial ruling on the Chair, which is currently being revisited, suggested that House Chairs would no longer have to follow the five-day posting requirement in order to hear testimony on a "matter" the Committee has jurisdiction over.
By rewriting the rules, House Republicans are side-stepping the established and essential witness process for bills. Removing the public testimony on all legislation would be a grave and dangerous precedent for House Republicans to establish, and would seriously undermine the open government process Democrats have fought for years to protect.
In summary, we could witness a dramatic return to the days of Speaker Craddick unless the ruling from the House Chair comes down differently, only instead of one Speaker Craddick, every Committee Chair would become a Craddick with the newly created power to refuse any and all public testimony on legislation.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, (R-Texas) offered no encouragement to Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) Tuesday -- in the wake of a poll showing Ensign badly trailing potential primary opponent Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
Yes, Ensign, like so many other national Republicans, is fraught with scandal, but John Cornyn's job is to re-elect Republicans. He is instead choosing to open a door for Democrats to take on open seat with a Sharron Angle type right winger in Nevada. With leadership like this, expect the pendulum to swing back for Democrats in 2012
It's raining. It's pouring. It's a $27 billion plus deficit, and Rick Perry is flip flopping now that he is back from his California vacation.
In today's State of the State speech, he says unequivocally, we should not touch the Rainy Day fund.
Research and experience tell us that the only way to create those jobs is to knock down the senseless obstacles to economic growth. For more than a decade, those of us elected to serve in this building have been working diligently to remove those obstacles, and create a level playing field, following a few simple rules.
For example, setting aside resources for a rainy day has given us a resource that other states would love to have, and some in our state would love for us to spend dry. Emptying the savings account to pay for recurring expenses is a bad idea, whether it happens at home, the workplace or in our state budget.
That approach would not only postpone tough, necessary decisions, but also leave us ill-equipped to handle bigger emergencies in the future. Therefore, we must protect the Rainy Day Fund.
Of course, in 1987 when he wasn't running for national office, his position was a little different.
Rep. Rick Perry voted for HJR 2 by Schleuter, establishing the Economic Stabilization Fund, in 1987.
To be completely honest, he only voted for the House version, then was absent on the vote on the conference committee report.
So in 1987, he wanted a fund that would help stabilize the Texas economy in the darkest hour. 24 years later, he doesn't want to touch the fund even though we have the worst budget shortfall in the country.
That means, President Governor Rick Perry does want: new revenues, fixes to the margins tax, implementation of the rainy day fund or corporations to pay their bills. Guess that leaves new taxes fees and increased, unfunded mandates to cities and counties.
This is what it looks like when Rick Perry, a career politician, "leads" Texas into an 19th20th21st 18th century economy.
And here is this jewel from his budget:
I look forward to working with these lawmakers to pass a responsible, balanced budget that reduces spending, sets budget and policy priorities without raising taxes, and preserves the state's Rainy Day Fund.
If he doesn't want to use the $10 billion in the rainy day fund, where is he going to find it? Federal money?
Remember that cold front that came in last week? Remember the rolling blackouts and how much of the state closed (including state government)? Remember Rick Perry declaring a state of emergency to deal with the problems?
If you said no to the last one, it's because Rick Perry didn't declare a state of emergency in Texas. So far, the emergencies are eminent domain, voter ID and sonograms.
Everyone of our neighboring states declared a state of emergency -- even Mexico! And yet Rick Perry is in California ignoring the ice-crisis in Texas.
Maybe Perry should just do a quick google of "Texas snow accident" to see the countless accidents and black outs that are occurring across the state.
This is the governor who considered every radical social issue he could get his hands on an "emergency" legislative priority. This is the governor who, during the heat of an election, declared 40 Texas counties were disaster areas due to a tropical storm that caused considerably less damage than has been caused in these past 3-4 days. FEMA ended up rejecting Perry's appeal for 13 of the counties.
Perry did keep his vacation going in California (55 Delegates) while Texas suffered.
Sort of interesting he would be in California. California is the last state to have rolling blackouts rigged for financial gain (ENRON). Texas appears to be the most recent.
While Texans suffered rolling blackouts yesterday, some power generators were enjoying windfall profits. Starting around 5 a.m., prices in the wholesale market surged to the market cap, $3,000 per megawatt-hour, and stayed there, off and on, until around noon. Prices are typically below $100/megawatt-hour, acknowledged ERCOT CEO H.P. "Trip" Doggett today in a press conference.
There are still more questions than answers but this much is clear: At best, some power generators around the state raked in oodles of money thanks to the way ERCOT has structured the energy market. At worst, some may have manipulated the market to drive up prices.
Texas is currently experiencing a record cold-wave and ice storm which has killed at least 6 people and brought rolling power blackouts. Texas parents, public officials, business owners and managers are all struggling to keep homes and businesses warm. Meanwhile, Rick Perry is in California meeting with deep-pocket Republican donors and right-wing opinion leaders.
Rick Perry was re-elected less than 3 months ago and he is already showing he just doesn't care. If he can't posture, he isn't going to govern.
When Texas needed him most, Perry went to California. When the job got tough, Perry got going. Do you think he would have done his job if a national news network had been in Texas focusing on the storm? Maybe then he would have declared a state of emergency or monitored the situation with ERCOT or helped cities and counties coordinate resources or done his job. Texas needs a leader not a political PR team.
We need to demand Rick Perry simply stop messing with Texas.