Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DOJ: Texas Redistricting Maps Arbitrary

On Friday Sept. 23, 2011, the U.S. Department Justice (USDOJ) said that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have been "adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress."

USDOJ's Civil Rights Division specifically challenged the redistricting maps for Texas congressional Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In papers filed with a special three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday Oct. 25, 2011, the Department of Justice and individual parties sharply criticized the standard the State of Texas wants the D.C. panel to use in evaluating arguments about ‘retrogression’ in the state’s redistricting maps.

There is “ample circumstantial evidence” that the congressional and state representative redistricting maps signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry had not only the effect but the intent of limiting the voting power of Hispanic voters, Justice Department lawyers said in the court filing.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Early Voting Starts Today

Today is the start of Early Voting for the November 8, 2011 Constitutional Amendment Election. It will run through next Friday, November 4, with Election Day on Tuesday the 8th. You can see details by clicking to this link.

A majority of the voters must approve the amendments before they can be implemented. Several cities have also authorized "special election" ballot propositions for their respective jurisdictions. Check the appropriate sample ballot style for your election precinct to see if your city has a "special election" proposition on your ballot. Don't know your precinct number? Find out how to locate your precinct number by clicking here.

Election Day Vote Centers Coming to Collin Co. Again For This Nov. 8th Election:

Election Day Vote Centers work almost exactly like Early Voting Polling Places. On Election Day any voter registered in the Collin County can vote at any polling place through out the county.
League Of Women Voters Collin County Information:

Collin Co. Election Registrar Information for the November 8, 2011 Constitutional Amendment and Special Election:

Texas Secretary of State postings for the Nov. 8, 2011 Election:

For another comprehensive look at the state constitutional amendments read the House Research Organization's Voter Guide.

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Voter Photo ID Requirement Public Notification Starts With The Constitutional Amendment Election

Fliers notifying voters about the new photo identification requirement to vote starting in 2012 will be handed out during the upcoming November 8th Constitutional Amendment Election.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Birtherism I Can Agree With

Picture is from the Occupy Olympia rally - Hat tip to Jobsanger. I'd like to see that birth certificate, too!

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After 46 Years Will Contraceptives Again Be Criminalized?

Many people do not remember that the purchase and use of birth control products, even by married couples, was against the law in many states until 1965. There are those who, for the last 46 years, have worked to reverse the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court finding that women have a fundamental "right of privacy" to make family planning decisions, which includes the right to learn about and use contraceptive products for birth control.

Rick Santorum pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception, during a recent interview with CaffeinatedThoughts.com editor Shane Vander Hart, arguing that the use of contraceptives devalues the act of procreation.

“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and nearly all the other GOP presidential candidates support the idea that contraceptives should be outlawed though the adoption of a "life begins at conception" constitutional amendment -- even if they don't fully understand the measure will outlaw most common contraceptives.

The key is in the definition of conception:

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Former Climate Change Skeptic Now Says, It's Real!

University of California-Berkeley physicist Richard Muller is well known for believing that climate scientists were wrong in their assessments that earth's climate systems are changing due to global warming. He has said publicly that he had doubts about the accuracy of global temperature reading at temperature recording stations, upon which, most climate change models are based. For that public skepticism Muller had been embraced by the climate science denying crowd.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Are The 99 Percent?

We now know what they want, what social networks and online tools they use and who doesn’t like them. But just who are the Occupy Wall Street protesters?

They define themselves as just plain people; the 99 percent who are getting screwed by the 1 percent. It might be why 99% of the cops are so cheerful and accommodating in so many cities where the Occupy Movement has taken hold.

It is a movement whose time has come, as evidenced by its incredible growth in the last month. As if a lot of folks were waiting for something to start, and when it did, they joined.

OWS and the entire Occupy Together movement has been called unfocused, loud, a mob, unwashed, and far worse by those who feel threatened by something outside of their sphere if influence.

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Corporate America Pushing To Eliminate Paid Sick Days

Think Progress: Do you really want you or your colleagues to go to work sick?

Recently, a string of cities and states have passed new ordinances that would require paid sick days for employees at certain employers. Just last week, Philadelphia’s city council passed a second version of a paid sick leave bill after the mayor vetoed the earlier one. Earlier this year, Seattle approved paid sick days legislation, while Connecticut became the first state with a state-wide requirement.

Now, the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has published an expose of how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a corporate front group that farms out legislation to almost a third of state legislators nationwide — is drafting legislation on behalf of its wealthy conglomerate funders to repeal these ordinances.

PR Watch obtained documents from ALEC’s 2011 Annual Meeting showing that one of the group’s committees — the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force — focused its entire meeting on the issue of paid sick leave. Task force members, who are legislators, were given copies of a bill that enables state legislatures to override municipal paid sick days laws. The same bill was used in Wisconsin to override Milwaukee’s paid sick days requirement.

Read the full story @ Think Progress

Also see ALEC Exposed - And It's Connection To Texas Laws.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Need For Progressive Alternatives

A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward. The Occupy Wall Street Movement is the newest incarnation of progressive forces again pushing forward against the drag of regressive forces.

Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure. And we all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a truly progressive tax system. Progressives worry when the rich and privileged become powerful enough to undermine democracy.

Regressives take the opposite positions:

by RobertReich

Republican presidential candidates debated again last night. And once again, Americans heard the standard regressive litany: government is bad, Medicare and Medicaid should be cut, [the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act that the GOP calls] "Obamacare" is killing the economy, undocumented immigrants are taking our jobs, the military should get more money, taxes should be lowered on corporations and the rich, and regulations should be gutted.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

OWS And The Democratic Party

by RobertReich

Will the Wall Street Occupiers morph into a movement that has as much impact on the Democratic Party as the Tea Party has had on the GOP? Maybe. But there are reasons for doubting it.

Tea Partiers have been a mixed blessing for the GOP establishment – a source of new ground troops and energy but also a pain in the assets with regard to attracting independent voters. As Rick Perry and Mitt Romney square off, that pain will become more evident.

So far the Wall Street Occupiers have helped the Democratic Party. Their inchoate demand that the rich pay their fair share is tailor-made for the Democrats’ new plan for a 5.6 percent tax on millionaires, as well as the President’s push to end the Bush tax cut for people with incomes over $250,000 and to limit deductions at the top.

And the Occupiers give the President a potential campaign theme. “These days, a lot of folks who are doing the right thing aren’t rewarded and a lot of folks who aren’t doing the right thing are rewarded,” he said at his news conference this week, predicting that the frustration fueling the Occupiers will “express itself politically in 2012 and beyond until people feel like once again we’re getting back to some old-fashioned American values.”

But if Occupy Wall Street coalesces into something like a real movement, the Democratic Party may have more difficulty digesting it than the GOP has had with the Tea Party.

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What The Occupy Wall Street Protesters Want!

Last week we looked at the question all of main stream media seemed to be asking - "What Do The Occupy Wall Street Protesters Want?"

Clearly, "Occupy," "The Other 98 Percent," and "The 99 Percent" activists want a fair and balanced playing field that the federal government's system of oversight and regulation provided to American society, before conservatives dismantled it in their fervor for deregulation and elimination of taxes payed by billion dollar corporations and the richest 1 percent of Americans.

We observed that an obvious way to recreate that fair and balanced American field of play would be to reverse the deregulation of Pres. Roosevelt's New Deal protections for the American financial system and middle class Americans, and to reverse the unbalanced and unfair tax cuts given to the richest Americans and multinational multibillion dollar corporations who have used their tax cuts to offshore tens of millions of American jobs.
Earlier today, Mother Jones published an article titled, "Occupy Protesters' One Demand: A New New Deal:"
"What is our one demand?"

That question, put forth by one of the original and most iconic posters advertising the occupation of Zuccotti Park, still hasn't been answered. Many veteran occupiers believe that making specific demands would be counterproductive, while others are working hard to craft concrete proposals they think everyone can agree on.

One of the latter is Daniel Lerner, a middle-aged physicist and active member of Occupy Wall Street's Demands Working Group, which on Sunday voted to push for a New Deal-style program...

... "We are talking about direct public employment, where you are working for the government—everything from wielding a shovel to educating engineers," says Lerner, who drew inspiration from the Depression-era Civil Work and Works Progress Administrations.

The 35 members of the Demands Group will vote Tuesday afternoon on how to build support for the plan before taking it up with the General Assembly, the open-ended group that serves as the protest's governing body.

Communicating through a Yahoo Groups site to draft a list of demands, the Demands Working Group did publish a list draft Tuesday afternoon on their Google sites website. Along with the draft list of demands the Working Group also calls for a National Convention to convene next July:

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Congressman Barney Frank To OWS: Vote!

On her MSNBC show Monday night, Rachel Maddow asked Rep. Barney Frank whether the ever-growing Occupy Wall Street movement has "energized Democrats at all."

The Frank said the protesters need to suggest legislative policies to address their grievances and show up at the ballot box the next time the opportunity arises.

The longtime critic of financial system deregulation says he is sympathetic to the movement but also says, "I'm unhappy when people [who] didn't vote last time blame me [congress] for the consequences of their not voting.”

Related:

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Pew Finds Extreme Conservative Bias In Media

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that, in the past five months, the American main stream media has given Pres. Obama the most unremittingly negative press of any of the presidential candidates by a wide margin, while giving Republican candidates extremely positive press coverage.

Liberal Media Bias -- You’ve probably heard it used to describe the American main stream media hundreds, if not thousands of times. One of the most often made claims of the right-wing messaging machine is that the mainstream media are composed almost entirely of liberals who work in concert to promote progressive viewpoints and elect Democrats, while portraying conservative viewpoints, Republicans, and the Tea Party AstroTurf movement with contempt.

Liberal Media Bias is a useful red herring, in that it fires up the faithful conservative base and provides a convenient scapegoat for when the American public rejects conservative policies and/or politicians. Right wing political pundits regularly regurgitate the term to bully the main stream media into giving evermore air time and print space to conservative messaging, without ever questioning it’s authenticity or reporting alternative viewpoints

Pew's Excellence in Journalism study found a marked conservative bias in coverage the main stream media has given to the presidential candidates over the past five months. The American press gave Pres. Obama unremittingly negative press by a four to one margin, while giving Republican candidates extremely positive press coverage.

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The GOP Lies, The Economy Suffers, And The Media Does Nothing About It

AmericaBlog: The Republican response to the President's radio address was an outright lie. Practically every credible expert, including economists on Wall Street even, agree that the stimulus did save/create jobs, boost GDP, and help cut back on unemployment. Everyone. But the Republicans keep outright lying and claiming the stimulus didn't do a thing. And the media just quotes them diligently and doesn't explain to the reader that it's a lie. WSJ:

Offering the Republican response, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy criticized what he called the continuation of a "stimulation strategy that's led to more debt and fewer jobs."
Both the CBO and Moody's concluded that the stimulus did work - the only problem was that it wasn't big enough, not that it was too big. Had we done what Kevin McCarthy is saying, we'd be in a depression right now - Moody's has already said the GOP plan won't work. But the President's stimulus, Moody's says it was absolutely worth it because it worked:
All this help comes at significant cost. While the fiscal stimulus has been vital, it helped produce a $1.4 trillion budget deficit this past fiscal year and will lead to another $1 trillion-plus deficit in the current one. Yet the cost to taxpayers would have been measurably greater if policymakers had not acted aggressively. The recession would still be in full swing, undermining tax revenues and driving up government spending on Medicaid, welfare, and other income support for distressed families. It is a tragedy that the nation has been forced to spend so much to tame the financial crisis and end the Great Recession. Yet it has been money well spent. The fiscal stimulus is working to ensure that the recent dark economic times will soon be relegated to the history books.
As for government regulations hurting jobs, AP concluded the other day that it too is a lie. This talk is dangerous.

And the lie grew worse over the past few months. As we pointed our previously, the new Republican talking pint, that I first hear on Fox, of course, is that the stimulus actually CAUSED the economy to worsen.

Outright lie. And the media still doesn't sufficiently call them on it. How about a story asking the Republicans why they think lying is an answer to our economic troubles? Why their party so easily, and willingly, embraces lies instead of facts? Reporters should be asking Kevin McCarthy if he's a liar, crazy, or just stupid.

This why our political system is broken. Because the checks and balances are broken too.

Read more @ AmericaBlog

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Framing The Message

What's said is just as important as how it's said when it comes to influencing voters. Just as framing a picture focuses attention on what is enclosed within that frame, framing a message focuses a reader's or listener's attention on the idea within the frame.

Message frames are the shorthand context that set a specific train of thought in motion, communicating why an issue might be a problem, who or what might be responsible for it, and what should be done about it.

Audiences rely on frames to make sense of and discuss an issue; journalists use frames to craft interesting and appealing news reports; policymakers apply frames to define policy options and reach decisions; and experts employ frames to simplify technical details and make them persuasive. The most effective frames touch the emotional, rather than the intellectual, part of our brain.

In his book, "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation," Drew Westen says there is overwhelming evidence that three emotional frames determine how people vote, in this order: their feelings toward the parties and their principles, their feelings toward the candidates, and, if they haven't decided by then, their feelings toward the candidates' policy positions.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About...

The "Occupy Wall Street" protests are gaining momentum, having spread from a small park in New York to marches to other cities across the country.

So far, the protests seem fueled by a collective sense that things in our economy are not fair or right. But the protesters have not done a good job of focusing their complaints—and thus have been skewered as malcontents who don't know what they stand for or want.

(An early list of "grievances" included some legitimate beefs, but was otherwise just a vague attack on "corporations." Given that these are the same corporations that employ more than 100 million Americans and make the products we all use every day, this broadside did not resonate with most Americans).

So, what are the protesters so upset about, really?

Do they have legitimate gripes?

To answer the latter question first, yes, they have very legitimate gripes.

And if America cannot figure out a way to address these gripes, the country will likely become increasingly "de-stabilized," as sociologists might say. And in that scenario, the current protests will likely be only the beginning.

The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation's history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high.

In other words, in the never-ending tug-of-war between "labor" and "capital," there has rarely—if ever—been a time when "capital" was so clearly winning.

Read the full story @ Business Insider

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What the New Deal Accomplished

During the years of the New Deal, America’s government built as it never had before—or has since.

Slate

The New Deal physically reshaped the country. To this day, Americans still rely on its works for transportation, electricity, flood control, housing, and community amenities.

The output of one agency alone, the Works Progress Administration, represents a magnificent bequest to later generations. The WPA produced, among many other projects, 1,000 miles of new and rebuilt airport runways, 651,000 miles of highway, 124,000 bridges, 8,000 parks, and 18,000 playgrounds and athletic fields; some 84,000 miles of drainage pipes, 69,000 highway light standards, and 125,000 public buildings built, rebuilt, or expanded. Among the latter were 41,300 schools.

Read the full story @ Slate

More on History's New Deal Lessons

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The GOP Is Advocating A Tax Increase On The Middle Class

In recent months, nearly every major Republican candidate has name-checked a popular statistic that 47% of Americans who file taxes paid no income tax in 2009. Given the GOP’s anti-tax zeal you’d think they’d be celebrating. Nope! Republicans now complain that the entire bottom half of taxpayers’ don't pay enough taxes even as they proclaim [rich] Americans are “Taxed Enough Already.”

“Right now we know that 53% of Americans pay income taxes and 47% do not,” Michele Bachmann told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. “I think we definitely need to change the tax code. We need to get more in line. Everybody benefits from this magnificent country. Everybody pay something.”

Republican presidential candidates are explicitly making the argument that the poor don't pay enough taxes on the same fairness grounds that progressives like Elizabeth Warren have used to demand greater taxes on the rich. The idea isn’t just that tax breaks for the rich trickle down the poor — it’s that they also deserve them more than freeloading Americans. Rick Perry made this moral outrage a key line in his campaign kickoff.

“We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” Perry said in his announcement speech. “And you know the liberals out there are saying that we need to pay more.”

Now the 47% number only tells part of the story: most of those “non-payers” pay payroll taxes, gas taxes, state and local taxes, etc. And in an ironic twist, the phenomenon is almost entirely a result of Republicans’ own enthusiasm for tax cuts. In the 1980s and 1990s, GOP lawmakers demanded that any programs aimed at helping poor and middle-income households be structured as refundable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, rather than as direct payments like welfare. President Bush added to the trend by lowering marginal rates across the board. Then Obama structured large chunks of the stimulus as tax breaks in order to garner bipartisan support. The non-payer rate, which had hovered around 20% - 25% since the 1950s, shot over 30% in 2002 and never looked back. And because the tax credits are refundable, many taxpayers aren’t just paying nothing, they’re actually gaining a net positive on their income tax.

But now that Obama is playing hardball on raising revenue, Republicans are rethinking the idea.

Read the full story @ Talking Points Memo

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Journal/NBC Poll: Perry’s ‘Ponzi Scheme’ Rhetoric In Tune with GOP Voters

Rick Perry isn’t the only one who considers Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.”

WJS:

Fifty-four percent of likely Republican primary voters agree with the Texas governor that the retirement program resembles a Ponzi scheme, or fraudulent system designed to collect more money than it pays out, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Forty-one percent of GOP primary voters disagree with that view.

Mr. Perry provoked an outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike during his first presidential debate when he restated his belief that younger Americans have little to gain from Social Security. Mitt Romney immediately seized on Mr. Perry’s rhetoric to attack the Texas governor, who was then soaring in the polls. Mr. Perry’s support has since cratered, following a string of shaky debate performances, but it appears his views on Social Security resonate with most GOP voters.

The same can’t be said for the electorate as a whole. Sixty-four percent of all adults interviewed for the poll said they disagree with Mr. Perry, while only 29% support his view.

Read the full story at the WJS

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Collin Co. Election Precinct Redistricting For 2012

Sharon Rowe, Collin County Elections Administrator, sent out a press release last week stating the county has redrawn election precinct boundaries in the wake of the 2010 census driven Congressional, State Senate, State Board of Education, and State House redistricting changes made by the 2011 Texas legislative session. Collin County Commissioner precincts lines have also been redrawn for the 2012 election cycle.

The new plan splits several of the current 179 election precincts into 23 new precincts creating a total of 202 precincts for the 2012 election cycle. (click on the map right to enlarge - precinct split table at bottom of this article)

According to Collin County Elections Administrator Sharon Rowe:

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"Occupy Wall Street:" An Inevitable Moment for America

by Joe Sestak

America's character is based on an alliance of rugged individualism and common enterprise -- a fair individual opportunity and the commonwealth of our country. Shared opportunity is shared prosperity, and common wealth is common strength.

As predictable as our revolution was against England's rulers more than two hundred years ago, so were the ones in the Middle East and North Africa in these last several months. Predictable simply because what was good for the powerful and well-connected was not good for the rest of the citizenry.

There emerged competing realities: the reality that the powerful pursued and the reality within which people actually lived. Simply put, the leaders pursued their own interests without thinking about the interests of their people; they thus lost the support of the people. In my 31 years of naval service across the globe, I came to understand that while many in the world may respect the power of America's military and the strength of its economy, they admire the power of our ideals -- it's why the young Egyptian officer commented as he did, and why the uprisings were inevitable. And it is why my political experience convinces me that the reason the people revolted is a lesson that applies not only to leaders overseas, but also to our own leaders here at home.

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25% Of Millionaires Pay Lower Taxes Than Middle Class

It is not surprising that conservatives, like GOP candidate Mitt Romney, slam the Buffett Rule as “class warfare” simultaneously benefit from the same sort of preferential treatment.

A new report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service finds that 25 percent of the nation’s millionaires have a lower effective tax rate than 10.4 million middle-class Americans:

About 25 percent of millionaires in the U.S. pay federal taxes at lower effective rates than a significant portion of middle-income taxpayers, according to a legislative analysis.

Preferential treatment of investment income and the reduced impact of payroll taxes on high earners lets about 94,500 millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than 10.4 million “moderate-income taxpayers,” representing about 10 percent of those making less than $100,000 a year, according to the report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service dated Oct. 7.

In direct conflict with a favorite Republican talking point, the report also found that very few business owners are millionaires and “played down the impact of higher tax rates on job creation.” “The small share of taxpayers with small-business income in the millionaire category suggests that tax reform policies designed to ensure adherence to the Buffett Rule will affect few small businesses,” it said. This bolsters the claims from economists and business owners alike that higher tax rates on the rich make “zero difference” in hiring.

Numerous polls continually show that Americans support raising the tax rate on millionaires. But rather than raise the rates on those who should pay their fair share, Republicans respond with even more tax increases on the middle class. “Class warfare,” indeed.

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Occupy Wall Street Organizers Call Saturday A Global Day Of Action

“Occupy Wall Street” organizers have called for a global day of action to take place on Saturday, Oct. 15. Events have been planned in 719 cities in 71 countries around the world, coordinated through a special website dedicated to the Oct. 15 actions that helps interested participants find events near them.

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Poll: ‘Occupy’ Movement More Popular Than Tea Party, Obama

A poll by Time released Thursday, which asked participants’ opinions on President Barack Obama’s job performance, the impact of the tea party and views of “Occupy Wall Street,” reveals that the “Occupy” movement has a higher approval rating than President Obama or the Tea Party. The poll also found that a full 86 percent agree that Wall Street and its lobbyists have “too much influence in Washington,” and 68 percent agree that wealthy Americans should pay more in taxes.

Occupy Wall Street enjoys majority backing among men (57 percent) and women (51 percent), young (60 percent of respondents 18 to 34) and old (51 percent). Self-identified Democrats, unsurprisingly, comprise the left-leaning movement's largest bloc, with 66 percent professing support. But more than half of independents (55 percent) harbor favorable views of the protesters, as do a third of Republicans.

Overall, the poll found that 65 percent of respondents believe the tea party had either a “negative impact” (40 percent) or very little impact at all (25 percent). The poll shows that President Obama has an approval rating of just 44 percent, with 50 percent disapproving and six percent not sure. That stands in contrast to the 54 percent who say their opinion of “Occupy Wall Street” is either “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable.”

Comparatively, the tea party, which is essentially Republican Party coordinated campaign committee, largely funded by a few billionaire conservatives, only has a 27 percent approval rating, with just 8% being “very favorable” and 19% being “somewhat favorable.”

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Americans support the Occupy Wall Street protests by a two-to-one margin (37 percent in favor, 18 percent opposed) while more Americans view the Tea Party negatively (28 percent in favor, 41 percent opposed).

This means the Occupy Wall Street protests have a net favorability of +19 percent while the Tea Party has a net favorability of -13 percent, as the chart at right, produced by ThinkProgress, shows.

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Texas Agency Censors Climate Change References In Key Scientific Report

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) doesn’t want to say who’s responsible for deleting all mentions of climate change from part of a forthcoming scientific report, and that’s got at least one scientist hopping mad.

Dr. John B. Anderson (pictured, left), an oceanographer at Rice University, told Raw Story that his report on the Galveston Bay estuary, and the effects of rising sea levels on its fragile ecosystem, was censored for purely “political” reasons.

“This is a clear-cut case of censorship,” he said in an exclusive interview. “It’s not scientific editing. It was strictly deletion of virtually any information that related to global change.”

“This is the TCEQ’s report which we contracted with Houston Advance Research Center to publish regarding the State of Galveston Bay,” the [TCEQ] agency said in its prepared statement. “It would be irresponsible to take whatever is sent to us and publish it. And here, information was included in a report that we disagree with.”

“That chapter that was censored was actually a summary of scientific literature,” Anderson told Raw Story. “There’s no new data that was actually presented in that chapter. [...] One of those statements was even lifted out of Science Magazine, which last I heard was an acceptable scientific journal. So, I was rather shocked that their response was they did not accept some of those viewpoints.”

“To say you don’t accept it, when it’s been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature, usually means that you need some kind of a counter argument to say that there’s also evidence published in peer-reviewed literature that would refute that,” he added. “But [they offered] nothing of that sort...."

“We scientists commonly are criticized for not going the extra step in education, and this was my way of doing that outreach, to write an article that is not directed at the scientific community,” Anderson concluded. “To then have those very policymakers turn around and say we refuse to accept any of this… is quite discouraging. I refer to Texas as a state of denial, and I don’t think we’re the only coastal state that’s in denial.”

“These people have a responsibility to look out for, not just the voters, but the future voters,” he said. “There the ones who are going to have to pay the tab. As long as we live in the state of denial, we’re just passing the check to our grandkids to deal with.”

To see what was censored in Anderson’s article, which is no longer part of the TCEQ’s “The State of the Bay 2010″ report, click to the Raw Story article.

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‘Occupy Wall Street’ A Turning Point For The Left

Dorian Warren, assistant professor of political science and public affairs at Columbia University, appeared Monday on Democracy Now to discuss the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” protests in Manhattan and other cities across the United States.


Watch video, courtesy of Democracy Now

“This is an incredibly significant moment, I think, in U.S. history,” he told Amy Goodman. “In fact, it might be a turning point, because this is the first time we’ve seen the emergence of a populist movement on the left since the 1930s.”

“So I think when you think about that long stretch of time, especially in this moment where we’ve been growing more unequal as a country for the last 30, 40 years, the fact that this movement has emerged at this moment, I think, is quite significant.”

Warren explained that starting in the 1950s, conservatives began to co-opt the label of populist and eventually changed the entire political discourse of the United States.

The new sort of populism that has emerged with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement does not only criticize large corporations and powerful banks, but the U.S. political system as well, he said.

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11 Facts You Need to Know About the Nation’s Biggest Banks

Here’s the goods, via ThinkProgress’ Pat Garofalo:

The Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York City more than three weeks ago have now spread across the country. The choice of Wall Street as the focal point for the protests — as even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said — makes sense due to the big bank malfeasance that led to the Great Recession.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Economist Blasts GOP’s Seven Biggest Economic Lies

By Robert Reich

The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Here are the seven lies told by those who want to take America backwards:

1. Tax cuts for the rich trickle down to everyone else.
Baloney. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both sliced taxes on the rich and what happened? Most Americans’ wages (measured by the real median wage) began flattening under Reagan and has dropped since George W. Bush. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Texas Voter Photo ID FAQ

by Michael Handley  (Updated Thursday June 27, 2013, 3:10 p.m.)

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act that required Texas and other states to get a federal DOJ or District Court approval before implementing any election law change.

The Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court. With Section 4 now invalidated, the states listed in Section 4, which includes Texas, are no longer compelled to comply with Section 5 preclearance requirements. Those states are now free to enforce laws previously blocked under Section 5 regulations.

On August 30, 2012, a federal DC Court three-judge panel blocked Texas' new SB 14 Voter Photo I.D. Law, under provisions of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court. The three-judge panel found that SB 14 imposed "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.

The Department of Justice pointed out that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas were without the necessary identification and were thus at risk of disenfranchisement. A disproportionate number were Latino.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting from the June 25th SCOTUS ruling, highlighted a paradox at the heart of the majority opinion: “In the court’s view, the very success of Section 5 [and 4] of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy”.

Ginsburg, supported by justices Sephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said it is the very success of pre-clearance that underlines why it must be preserved. “The Voting Rights Act has worked to combat voting discrimination where other remedies have been tried and failed,” she writes.

In her dissent, Ginsburg lists some of the insidious changes to voting laws that could now creep back into the American electoral landscape. Under pre-clearance, states including Texas have been blocked from racial gerrymandering by redrawing electoral boundaries in an attempt to create segregated legislative districts.
Opponents of pre-clearance under Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act say that Section 2 will be sufficient on its own as a safeguard against future discrimination. But the burden of challenging new electoral laws now shifts from the federal government to the individual voter.

Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford law school who had previously filed an amicus brief on behalf of the bipartisan House Judiciary Committee leadership supporting the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, said that by striking down pre-clearance the supreme court had “shifted the burden away from the perpetrators of discrimination and onto the shoulders of the victims of discrimination. Local minority voters will now have to find a lawyer and go to court to argue voting rights infringement under Section 2 – and for many that will be very difficult.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act forbids states from enacting voting restrictions that have a greater impact on minority voters than on others. There is, however, a catch. Samuel Bagenstos, who was until recently the number two official in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, has said that the DOJ can't bring a Section 2 lawsuit claiming voter disenfranchisement, until after voters have been disenfranchised:
“In order to bring a Section 2 case, you’d have to as a practical matter show two things. One, that there’s a significant racial disparity and two, that the burden of getting an ID is significant enough for us to care about.

Any Section 2 case would almost certainly have to wait until after the next election, since the evidence that the laws were discriminatory “can only be gathered during an election that takes place when the law is enacted.”
Minority Leader of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday that Congressional Democrats are planning new legislation to render ineffective Chief Justice Roberts Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act. But many question whether such legislation has any chance of passing in the Republican controlled House.

Shortly after the Supreme Court read its decision striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted that nothing now stands in the way of the state enforcing its controversial SB 14 voter photo ID law.
“With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott announced. “Redistricting maps [as originally] passed by the Legislature [in the 2011 legislative session] may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”
On Thursday, June 27, 2013 the Supreme Court followed up its Tuesday, June 25th, ruling on Section 4 of the VRA, officially vacating and kicking back the DC Court three-judge panel's August 2012 ruling that blocked Texas' voter photo I.D. law.  SCOTUS' action was a predictable result of its ruling, effectively ending the federal government's oversight of elections in Texas and other states with a history of discrimination in voting. The justices ordered lower courts to reconsider, in light of Tuesday's ruling, the status of previous low court rulings on appeal to SCOTUS, as was Texas' I.D. law. Legal experts remain divided on what the Supreme Court's rulings mean for the election laws that had been blocked under Section 5 review, and it could be weeks before the district courts weigh in. In the mean time, Texas and other states listed in Section 4 are not waiting to start enforcement of those laws.

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D - Fort Worth) joined seven others Wednesday in filing a federal lawsuit to keep Texas from enforcing its voter ID law. Veasey, who represents the 33rd Congressional District, one of four districts created statewide during the latest redistricting battle, filed the papers in Corpus Christi federal court saying that under Section 2 of the VRA, SB 14, which requires voters to present a government-issued photo I.D. at polling places, will unconstitutionally deprive thousands of minorities of their right to vote and make re-election campaigns more expensive.

At his Redistricting Blog, Michael Li explains how Sections 2 and 3 of the Voting Rights Act could possibly provide some of the protections afforded under Sections 4 and 5.

Originally set to go into effect on January 1, 2012, the Texas Photo I.D. Law (SB 14) requires voters to present one of a limited selection of government issued photo I.D. to election Judges in order to qualify to vote. The accepted forms of currently dated photo identification include:
  • Texas DPS issued Driver’s License or Personal Identification Card;
  • Texas DPS issued Election Identification Certificate (EIC);  
  • US passport;
  • US military ID;
  • Texas concealed weapons license; or
  • US citizenship papers containing a photo.
For those who do not have an unexpired government issued photo I.D., the law contains a provision that requires the Texas Driver's License office to issue special "Election Identification Certificates" free of charge to citizens. Of course, a person seeking a free EIC at the Driver's License Office must present a state certified birth certificate and other I.D.'s.  Obtaining those identity documents, for those who don't already hold them, can be costly to a near impossibility. (see - Texas A Step Closer To Federal Real I.D. Act and War On Terror "Real I.D." Driver's License Federal Law Meets State Voter Photo I.D.)

The Texas Department of Public Safety announced shortly after the Supreme Court read its decision that starting Thursday, June 27, 2013, Texas driver license offices will begin issuing free Election Identification Certificates to anyone who doesn't already have another of the government issued photo I.D. documents. (DPS Webpage for EIC Info.)

Under the 2011 state law creating one of the state’s most strict voter I.D. laws, the certificates are free and valid for six years - which means they must be periodically renewed. However, there is no expiration date of an EIC for citizens 70 years of age or older.

To qualify for any Texas Department of Public Safety issued photo I.D., an applicant must give proof of U.S. citizenship and Texas residency by presenting identity documents. These identity documents include an unexpired Texas driver license, Texas Identification card, or U.S. Passport book or card.  For most who don't have one of those primary identification documents, already, they must present an original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by their birth state's Bureau of Vital Statistics, along with another identity document listed under a menu of documents. This menu of documents includes a Voter Registration Card.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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What Do The Occupy Wall Street Protesters Want?

Since the Occupy movement began on Wall Street we have heard the main stream media's near universal refrain that, "no one knows what they want." To anyone listening, the message of what they want is clearly understood and resonating with a growing number of every day Americans from coast to coast, including North Texas. The truly grassroots Occupy movement now has meetups active in 1,539 cities worldwide.

Occupy Dallas tent city in Pioneer Plaza DallasOver 100 members of Occupy Dallas, which is a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, set up a 'tent city' in Pioneer Plaza park near downtown Dallas to provide shelter and a place to sleep. (picture right)

The Occupy Dallas group obtained a city permit Monday to remain camped in Pioneer Plaza park until 5 p.m. Friday. Their is potential for conflict between protesters and City Hall as given the liability insurance required as a prevision of the permit is difficult, if not impossible, to buy.

While the Occupy movement has spread to many cities around the U.S. over the last weeks, the movement has also found support on high school and college campuses across the country, as reported by the Student Activism blog. (Thanks to Facebook and Twitter!) In total, students from at least 100 college campuses around the country walked out of class in a show of solidarity and support for the Occupy Wall Street movement on October 5th.

Students are angry about the debt that many of them must obtain to go to college and the fact that they are graduating into the worst job market since the Great Depression. And it's no wonder: Outstanding student loan debt exceeded credit card debt for the first time in 2010 and student loan debt is up 25 percent since 2008. Organizers behind Occupy Colleges have announced this Thursday, October 13 as the date for a second national student action day in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, with students from at least fifty-six campuses pledging support.

What do the occupy Wall Street protesters want?

Occupy Wall Street protesters are clearly saying that individuals, corporations, and special interest groups, armed with the power of wealth, have gained an unfair advantage over 99 percent of "We the People" in every aspect of our society. This "Letter To The Ruling Class," that seems to have gone viral on the Internet among Occupy Wall Street supporters, sums up the movement's complaint:

You control our world. You’ve poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you. You’ve liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants to your decadence. You’ve stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions. You’ve profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living. You’ve monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education, and have almost extinguished our flame. We are hit… we are bleeding… but we ain’t got time to bleed. We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution! -- Attributed to Jesse Ventura by Kos

What the Occupy activists want has wealthy conservative plutocrats in a panic:

Occupy activists want the restoration of a fair and balanced playing field for every American. A field of play that is not controlled by the 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans; a field of play where everyone pays their fair share to build and maintain our public education, utility and transportation systems; and a field of play where no one person, corporation, or special interest group, armed with the power of wealth, can gain an unfair advantage over even a single American.

Occupy activists want a fair and balanced playing field that the federal government's system of oversight and regulation provided to American society, before conservatives dismantled it in their fervor for deregulation and elimination of taxes payed by billion dollar corporations and the richest 1 percent of Americans.

What the "Occupy," "The Other 98 Percent," and "The 99 Percent" movements want, in essence, is a restoration of Pres. Roosevelt's New Deal protections for the American financial system and middle class Americans.

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Krugman: Panic of the Plutocrats

The New York Times OpEd by Paul Krugman:

It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.

Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police — confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction — but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.

Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.”

Read the full story: The New York Times

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U.S. Incomes Declined During The Last 10 Years

The U.S. economy may technically be in a recovery, but it likely doesn’t feel that way for many Americans when grabbing for their wallets. Median annual household income has fallen more during the recovery than it did during the recession, according to a new study from former Census Bureau officials Gordon Green and John Code.

Between December 2007 and June 2009, when the U.S. economy was in recession, incomes declined 3.2 percent. While during the recovery between June 2009 and June 2011 incomes fell 6.7 percent, the study found. (click on the chart to enlarge)

The lack of income growth may explain why for most Americans the recovery still feels like a recession. Eight in 10 Americans believe the recession is an ongoing problem, according to a recent Gallup poll.

And workers don't anticipate things will pick up any time soon. Nine out of 10 Americans said they don't expect to get a raise that will be enough to compensate for the rising costs of essentials like food a fuel, according an American Pulse survey released in June.

Slow job growth is likely also exacerbating the feelings of recession and weighing on household incomes. U.S. employers added 103,000 jobs in September, too few jobs drive the unemployment rate below 9.1 percent and barely enough to keep pace with population growth, the Department of Labor reported last week. Those Americans that are employed are continuing to get squeezed by their employers with wage stagnation and benefit cuts, while profits per employee went up for the second year in a row in 2010, according to financial analysis company Sageworks.

While American workers find them selves under increasing pressure, American corporate profits are surging again in 2011 as corporations horde those profits in bank accounts. Corporations were sitting on $2.2 trillion in cash at the end of June, and that number has grown during the last quarter.

If giving tax cuts to corporations and the ultra-wealthy is the most stimulative approach to boosting jobs and wages, as Republicans claim in rejecting Pres. Obama's Jobs Plan, then the economy should already be racing, given the trillions of dollars in tax cuts President Bush and Republicans handed during the eight years of Pres. Bush's administration. Right? Wrong!

If the U.S. continues its sluggish jobs growth pace it could drive incomes even lower. Americans who are jobless for more than 99 weeks lose any unemployment benefits driving their incomes to zero and weighing on the national average, according to 24/7 Wall Street.

The recession’s and the recovery’s drag on income growth has put some Americans in a worse position than they were decades ago. The median income for U.S. males was worse in 2010 than in 1968 on an inflation-adjust basis.

In some states the recession and the recovery only exacerbated a decline in incomes that’s been taking place for longer. The median household income in Wisconsin plunged 14.5 percent between 1999 and 2010, The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported.

The super rich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades' income gains.

Aevrage Household income before taxes.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Texas State Climatologist: Texas Drought Could Last Until 2020

Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon thinks Texans should get use to hot dry Texas summers. He says these hot dry conditions could last another five years, or even extend to 2020.

Parts of Texas may get some nice thunderstorms this early October weekend, but the state witnessed a September that continued the trend of above-normal temperatures with exceptional drought conditions during 2011. The daily maximum temperatures were above average across the state by two or more degrees. Every major station but Amarillo, Galveston, and Port Arthur reached 100+ °F at some point during September.

As of the Oct 4th U.S. Drought Monitor, 100% of Texas was suffering under some form of drought conditions, and over 85% of the state was designated as D4 (Exceptional Drought), the worst possible scenario. Indeed, the big story for September was the continuation of the devastating drought. A majority of the state observed only a fraction of their percent averages for rainfall, with Abilene and Austin below 10%.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Texas SOS Responds To US DOJ On Voter Photo ID Law Clearance

The back and forth between the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) Civil Rights Division's voting rights section, the Texas Secretary of State's (TXSOS) office, the Texas Democratic Party and various organizations opposed to the legislation continued this week over the strict voting photo identification law signed by Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry last May.

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Did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Just Trigger The Nuclear Option?

The Republicans instituted the permanent filibuster when Obama took office, and that was the end of that. No more legislation, ever, on anything unless you have 60 votes in the Senate.

That's not the way it is suppose to work. But the Republicans decided to implement a permanent filibuster of everything, and to forever change the way the Senate works, and essentially make the body permanently dysfunctional. (see: How Can Only 40 Senate Republicans Stall Senate? And, How Senate Democrats Can Out Maneuver The Republicans.)

Tonight, perhaps, Senator Reid changed that -- The Hill:

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Fellow Texas Bloggers To Speak At TDWCC Annual Dinner

Fellow Texas bloggers Eileen Smith and Rachel Farris, who write their respective blogs, "In the Pink" and "Mean Rachel" from Austin, Texas, will be featured speakers at the Texas Democratic Women of Collin County's 5th annual fund raiser dinner on Sunday, October 23 at the Southfork Ranch in Parker, Tx.

Eileen Smith is the editor of the long-running satirical political blog In the Pink Texas, which has won three “Best of Austin” awards from the Austin Chronicle. She’s currently a columnist at the Texas Observer, where she covered the most recent session of the Legislature and now writes a weekly wrap-up of Governor Rick Perry’s road to the White House called “Perryland.” She was the first-ever editor of Texas Monthly’s award-winning website, TexasMonthly.com, and she blogged the 2008 presidential campaign on “Poll Dancing.” Eileen has a Master’s in Journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University. Originally from Virginia, she has lived in Austin for over ten years. You can follow her on Twitter at @EileenDSmith.

Native Texan and Democratic activist Rachel Farris (@MeanRachel) writes MeanRachel.com, a progressive blog that follows politics, the legislature and how they both are affected by social media. She covered the 2008 Democratic National Convention with The Texas Observer team and has spoken about social media and communications at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs, Texas State University’s “Mass Communications Week,” and St. Edward’s University. She also writes for The Huffington Post and AlterNet.org, and currently serves on the board of Texas Democratic Women.

This should be an interesting evening of discussion on “Framing the Issues” using social media communication channels on the Internet. In additional to the speakers and dinner, the evening includes a cash bar, silent auction and musical entertainment.

Read more...

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Amy Lawrence Announces For Collin Co. Chair Of The Democratic Party

Amy Lawrence announced at the September meeting of the Texas Democratic Women of Collin County (TDWCC) early last week, her intention to file as a candidate for the County Chair of the Democratic Party of Collin County (DPCC) on the March 2012 Democratic primary ballot. Lawrence followed up on that announcement with a press release late last week.

In comments explaining why she decided to run for the office of Democratic County Chair, Lawrence said:

“I grew up in west Texas, but my husband and I have settled in Collin County to raise our children. I am committed to making sure this is a community we can be proud of – one where all members of our community have the opportunity to thrive.”

“Sadly, the past two years are prime examples of what can happen to a community when only one party has been in power for a generation with few viable alternatives on the ballot – we have seen our Republican representatives slash our state budgets, threatening the quality of our children’s public schools; threatening the critical safety net of Medicaid healthcare services with severe consequences for our parents and children in need; threatening the public safety of our communities by cutting law and fire department funding; and disenfranchising segments of our population, including the elderly and veterans, by creating onerous requirements on their basic right to vote. The only way we will be able to hold our elected officials accountable is by creating a strong, vibrant, and vocal Democratic Party in Collin County that can offer an alternative vision for our local communities."

"As County Chair, my focus will be on integrating the Democratic Party into the community and being vocal on issues that affect local residents, linking up with other Democratic organizations to maximize our reach and effectiveness, broadening and diversifying our base of Democratic voters and activists, and finally growing local candidates with a long-term vision for the county.”

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Democrats Launch Campaign To Counter Alleged GOP Voter Suppression

As this blog posted on Monday, a new Brennan Center for Justice study (PDF) finds that a string of election laws passed in Texas and 12 other states -- and proposed in 21 more states -- since the 2008 presidential election could block up to five million voters from polling places in 2012.

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ABC Poll: Obama Surges Ahead Of GOP In Trust On Jobs

Who could have imagined that by taking a spirited fight to the American people, as he did with his speeches in Dallas on Tuesday, the President could jump his approval rating? From ABC News:

Barack Obama has jumped to a 15-point lead over the Republicans in Congress in trust to handle job creation, a sign the beleaguered president’s $450 billion jobs package has hit its mark in public opinion. Fifty-two percent support the plan – and most say it just might work.

Overall approval of the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, has dropped to its lowest in polls back to the mid-1970s. And of the eight in 10 Americans who are dissatisfied with the way the country’s political system is working, more blame the Republicans in Washington than the president.

A month ago, Americans divided evenly, 40-40 percent, on whom they trusted more to handle job creation, Obama or the congressional Republicans. Now, after his jobs proposal and ongoing promotion of his plan, it’s 49-34 percent, Obama’s first significant advantage over the GOP on jobs in ABC/Post polling since early 2010.

The president’s also maintained a large advantage over the Republicans in Congress in being seen as more concerned with the interests of middle-class Americans, now 52-32 percent. And the GOP, by a vast 70-17 percent, is seen as being more concerned than Obama with protecting the interests of the wealthy, a sentiment on which Obama has capitalized with his proposed millionaires’ tax.
It's all not all good news, however. Obama's approval remains near is his all time lows in the poll. Still, this is the first sign that his numbers may be turning around. And it's because he's been consistent on his "progressive" message, fighting back against the Republican's conservative vision for America. And it's working.

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What You Need To Know About The Top 1%

Income inequality in the U.S. is higher than at any other time since the Great Depression, and the U.S. is currently more unequal than countries like the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. Though Republicans dismiss concerns over the gap as “class warfare,” the ever-increasing level of disparity has tangible consequences, leading to poor work performance and a greater gap in life expectancy.

And now, according to a new Finance & Development study, income inequality also “kills economic growth.” Looking at how to sustain economic growth, the research found that “making an economy’s income distribution 10 percent more equitable prolongs its typical growth spell by 50 percent.”

Mother Jones’ Josh Harkinson noted that this lesson is nothing new, pointing to Depression-era Federal Reserve Chairman Marriner Eccles, who “blamed the Great Crash on the nation’s wealth gap.”

More on this topic in another Jobsanger post that's worth taking the time to read:

Are you one of those people who thinks "wealth redistribution" is a dirty term, and something we should never do in this country? If so, then you don't understand much about economics in the United States (and elsewhere). The truth is that wealth redistribution is going on all the time in every country, and that includes the United States.

The problem with the wealth redistribution that is happening now in the U.S. is that the wealth is being redistributed from the vast majority of Americans to the richest Americans -- especially the top 1%. This has created a wealth and income inequality not seen in this country since the 1920s -- before the Great Depression. And that vast equality was the major cause of both the Great Depression and our current Great Recession.

Here are some facts you need to know about the richest 1% of Americans:

Read the full Jobsanger post...

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Outrageous

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Political Strategy Notes For Oct 5th 2011

The Democratic Strategist

At HuffPo Pollster, Mark Blumenthal's post "Obama's Approval Rating Is Underwater, But Don't Try To Predict 2012 Yet," notes that, despite lowered approval ratings, President Obama lead GOP frontrunners Romney and Perry. Although approval ratings are slightly better predictors of election results than trial heats, "none of these polling numbers can predict the winner of the presidency a year or more before the election," as Blumenthal points out.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Obama Paid Another Visit To Texas Today

For the second time this year, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Texas. Obama attended a fundraiser in Dallas before heading to Mesquite for a 2:55 p.m. speech at Eastfield College. President Obama got a warm reception at his campaign stops at both the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, Texas and again at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas.


-- Obama's concluding remarks at Eastfield College --
Dallas, the next election is 13 months away. I need you all to lift your voice -- not just here in Dallas, but anyone watching, anyone listening, everybody following online. I need you to call and tweet and fax and visit and email your congressperson...

At both stops the President pitched his American Jobs Act legislation to crowds of enthusiastic supporters.

Obama used unusually blunt language to rebut critics who say he's engaged in class warfare quoting Ronald Reagan's argument from 26 years ago that tax loopholes for the rich were unfair.

“Last time I checked, Republicans all thought Reagan made some sense,” he said at his Mesquite stop: Now, when I point this out, some of the Republicans in Congress say, ‘oh you’re engaging in class warfare.’ Let me tell you something. Years ago, one great American had a different view. I’m going to get the quote, just so you know I’m not making this up. A great American said that he thought it was ‘crazy’ that certain tax loopholes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary. Alright. You know who this guy was? It wasn’t a Democrat. It wasn’t some crazy socialist. It was Ronald Reagan. It was Ronald Reagan. Last time I checked, Republicans all thought Reagan made some sense. So next time you hear one of those Republicans in Congress accusing you of class warfare, you just tell them I’m with Ronald Reagan. I agree with Ronald Reagan that it’s crazy that a bus driver pays a higher tax rate than some millionaire because of a loophole in the tax code. And by the way, I don’t mind being called a warrior for the working class. You guys need someone working for you.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Organized Climate Change Denial To Block Green Programs,Top Scholars Conclude

Riley E. Dunlap, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State, and Aaron M. McCright of Michigan State call it the “climate change denial machine” in their book chapter, “Organized Climate Change Denial,” for the new Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society.

Key Components of Climate Change Denial Machine page 147 of Organized Climate Change Denial

In a note, the authors explain:

The actions of those who consistently seek to deny the seriousness of climate change make the terms “denial” and “denier” more accurate than “skepticism” and “skeptic,” particularly since all scientists tend to be skeptics.

Some try to downplay the central role of the denial machine in U.S. politics, but the fact is that what the deniers have accomplished in this country is unique in the world, going far beyond the spread of disinformation. They have allowed fossil fuel interests to “capture” almost an entire political party (see National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).

Here is the conclusion of the study:

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GOP Presidential Candidates Support Constitutional Amendments Outlawing Common Forms Of Birth Control

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) told Fox News host Mike Huckabee this weekend that he would support an amendment to his state’s constitution to define life as beginning at conception:

HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

Constitutional amendment give legal rights to fertilized eggs go much farther than merely outlawing abortions. As ThinkProgress’ Marie Diamond noted, they could also have the effect of outlawing common forms of birth control, since contraceptives like the pill and IUDs can prevent fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus. Personhood amendments consider these types of birth control a form of abortion, and could potentially even treat them the same as homicide. If these amendments make terminating pregnancy a criminal act, they would also deter doctors from saving the lives of women with abnormal pregnancies because any doctor performing an abortion could risk prosecution.

Some of the Republican presidential field’s more radical candidates like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich have already voiced support for giving legal rights to unborn children, but it’s surprising coming from Romney considering that he was staunchly pro-choice for much of his political career.

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New Voting Laws Could Keep 5 Million Voters From The Polls In 2012

Strict voting laws in states across the country could affect up to five million voters from traditionally Democratic demographics in 2012, according to a new report (PDF) by the Brennan Center. That's a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

In 2011, Texas and 17 other state legislatures across the country debated a requirement to have voters show one of a very limited selection of government issued photo identification to polling place officials to qualify to vote. The motivation for this legislative discussion is the widely distributed conservative allegation that Democratic voters commonly commit in-person voting impersonation fraud to qualify to vote.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Van Jones Calls For Progressive Push Back Against Tea Party

Van Jones, president of the progressive organization Rebuild the Dream, joins The Last Word to discuss what Washington should be doing about jobs. Jones calls the US' deficit problem "phony" and made up.


Van Jones
"Hold on to your hats, we're going to have an October offensive to take back the American dream and rescue America's middle class," Jones told MSNBC's "The Last Word."

Jones is talking about the Take Back the American Dream conference, organized by the Campaign for America's Future with support from Rebuild the Dream, will be happening on October 3 - 5 in Washington, DC. Find out more and register online.

Jones was President Obama's "green jobs czar" until he resigned in fall of 2009.

Transcript below:

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