Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.
With the round-up this week, I’ll offer a few thoughts on the prospect of some of our Democratic state legislators in Texas switching parties.
State Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland has switched to Republican and Rep. Aaron Pena of Edinburg is considering doing the same.
None of this is surprising. Before Mr. Ritter’s defection, Republicans held a 99-51 edge in the House. There is not much to be said for Democratic prospects in the 2011 legislative session.
Politicians are likely go where they can have influence and can get the best deal. In the case of Mr. Ritter, it seemed probable he would lose his seat in 2012 given the political trends in his district.
It’s easy to get mad at these traitors and potential traitors, but is should be noted that the way we run our Texas legislature mutes partisan affiliation. While it would seem the ideological gap between the two parties is such that switching seems unlikely, the fact is party identification in the legislature often takes a backseat to a process that leaves voters guessing just where the person who represents them in Austin really stands.
* Votes for the position of Speaker of the House involve legislators of one party voting for a candidate of the other party.
* Committee chairs and vice-chairs are often persons of the minority party.
* Democrats supported former far-right Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick for years and they got away with it for long enough to do plenty of damage.
* There is no formal majority leader and minority leader position in the House and Senate.
In this context, there is a measure of coherence in switching parties. Rather than a hard and fast identification to one or the other major party and to the values voters count on that party to represent, state legislators work in a system where loyalty is to individuals and to unseen influences.
I realize that control by murky and unseen forces embodies how politics works around the nation. But must we exacerbate these tendencies by making them institutional?
The whole system is lousy. The Speaker should be selected by the majority caucus, and the majority party should run the chamber as elected to do by voters.
In any case, it is hard to muster full outrage at the party switchers when many on both sides of the aisle in Austin have long embraced a system that rewards partisan double-dealing.
Here is some history of party switching in Texas.
Here is a history of the Texas Leguisture up until 1995 from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.
Here’s the round-up—-
Off the Kuff takes a look at the HHSC report on the effects of dropping Medicaid. Short answer: It would be bad, but what they really have in mind to do may be even worse.
Bay Area Houston has some interesting comments on the criminal probe of State Representative Joe Driver.
Capitol Annex takes a look at a dangerous proposal by incoming State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) to allow independent school districts to lessen the amount of cash reserves they are required to keep on hand and explains why this is a terrible idea.
This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes a look at the shortfall in the Texas budget, and also covers the week in headlines. Read more »
Threats are being made against Members of Congress who voted for the Health Care Reform bill.
From the New York Times—
“Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, said at least 10 House members had raised concerns about their personal security since Sunday’s climactic vote, and Mr. Hoyer characterized the cases as serious. At least two Congressional district offices were vandalized and Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a senior Democrat from New York, received a phone message threatening sniper attacks against lawmakers and their families. Ms. Slaughter also reported that a brick was thrown through a window of her office in Niagara Falls, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, said Monday that her Tucson office was vandalized after the vote. The Associated Press reported that the authorities in Virginia were investigating a cut propane line to an outdoor grill at the home of a brother of Representative Tom Perriello of Virginia, after the address was mistakenly listed on a Tea Party Web site as the residence of the congressman. Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and a central figure in the measure’s abortion provisions, reported receiving threatening phone calls. Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the House, said he received an anonymous fax showing the image of a noose.”
These types of threats are at the very least acts that merit placement on some type of watch list, and that merit further monitoring and investigation by the the proper authorities.
With all this talk about secession and nullification and with all these threats about votes taken as part of the legitimate workings of our democracy, it is time to wonder about the basic Americanism of many on the right.
Why don’t conservatives want to be part of our country and why can’t they accept the results of the ballot box?
And of course we can’t forget terrorist tax hater Joseph Stack who earlier this year smashed his plane into the side of the IRS building in Austin, Texas.
Threats against Democrats and against people who don’t agree with the far right-wing agenda of the Tea Party and of today’s Republican Party, must be kept under close review by law enforcement and by federal agents responsible for preventing acts of terror.
We can’t allow another Timothy McVeigh to do terrible harm to federal employees and other decent Americans.
Above is a video of me reading a brief passage from Federalist Paper #9 at the San Jacinto Battlefield State Historic site. This reading is in response to recent disloyal comments by Republican Texas Governor Rick Perrry suggesting that Texas might wish to consider leaving the union.
The video runs 1 minute and 40 seconds.
The San Jacinto Battlefield Site is where Texas won independence from Mexico in 1836.
Here is information about what Governor Perry said about Texas possibly leaving the union.
Here is information about Federalist Paper # 9 and about the Federalist Papers. As I say in the video, Federalist #9 asserts the supremacy of the Federal Government over the authority of the individual states
Here is the link for visiting the San Jacinto Battlefield Historic site in LaPorte, Texas. LaPorte is just outside of Houston.
Here are facts about the Battle of San Jacinto from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.
As you heard in the video, I was at the battlefield on a windy day. Here is an explanation of wind.
In the video you can see the wind move the clouds that are in the background. Here is an explanation of why clouds are white along with other facts about clouds.
A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll reports that 48% of Texas Republicans believe Texas would be better of as an independent nation rather than remaining part of the United States. 35% of all Texans hold this view.
Please click here for the full poll.
Another result is that Texans disapprove of Barack Obama by a 53%–45% margin. If they don’t like him now when he has a national 64% approval rating, it seems an uphill climb to win the state in 2012.
(Texas is one of four states with a majority-minority population. Most of those minorities are Democrats as are a substantial portion of white voters. Where are these folks? Are they illegals? Do they only have cell phones and can’t be reached for surveys? Are they citizens who don’t vote? I’m sure it’s a little bit of all that. In any case, it’s frustrating.)
I’ve addressed the disloyal comments of Texas Governor Rick Perry and Congressman Ron Paul a couple of times this week here at the blog. Regular readers may note that this is more often than I generally acknowledge the existence of the Republican Party.
I think criticizing the same people time after time is a waste of time and effort. Life is short and there are so many other things to address. I don’t think repeating the same thing over and over changes people’s minds.
But I feel the point should be made that these folks are so extreme. Can you even imagine that the comments of Governor Perry have made secession something we are talking about? How can real progress ever be made in this state when the governing party consists of people who hold these views?
In Washington, we see a Republican Party that seems to have learned nothing from the failures of the last 8 years. In Texas, we see this extremism in its full flowering.
It seems clear that the main loyalties of the American right are concentrated on anger and grievance and not directed towards our nation and its people.
Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is the second elected Republican in the Lone Star State to talk treason in recent days. (Photo of Rep. Paul, in front of our flag, above.) (Here is a map of the areas represented by Rep. Paul.)
Here is what Rep. Paul said—
“[Perry] really stirred some of the liberal media, where they started screaming about: ‘what is going on here, this is un-American.’ I heard one individual say ‘this is treasonous to even talk about it.’ Well, they don’t know their history very well, because when you think about it… it is very American to talk about secession. That’s how we came in being. Thirteen colonies seceded from the British and established a new country. So secession is a very much American principle….”
Rep. Paul terms himself a libertarian, even as he asks for $398 million in earmarks from the most recent federal budget, but he is an elected Republican in our Congress.
Last week Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry said Texas could consider leaving the union if it felt oppressed by the federal government. The federal government has of late been oppressing Texas with hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds
Is the Republican Party of Texas loyal to our union or is it not? What do they think Ronald Reagan would have thought about this disloyal talk?
A recent Rasmussen poll reports that 18% of Texans would vote to leave the union if they had the chance. Another 7% are not sure. That is 25% of folks in Texas would would support or consider supporting leaving the union.
What share of Texas rank-and-file Republicans hold this view? It seems that at least 40% or so of Texas Republicans must hold this view. I doubt it is Democrats that support this position of treason and blind anger.
It’s not just Texas. National Republicans had little problem with putting secessionist Sarah Palin within close reach of the White House.
If Republicans and conservatives want to equate our elected President Obama and our elected Democratic Congress to taxation without representation, they are free to do so.
What I will do, as will liberals and Democrats across the nation, is salute the flag of the United States of America.
National Republican Party leader and conservative leader Rush Limbaugh has defended Governor Perry’s views on treason. Given Mr. Limbaugh’s wide following with conservatives, one would be fair to conclude that the option of tearing the nation apart is a mainstream Republican view.
Ideally in our democracy, competing political parties would offer differing views on the issues before the nation and the people would decide which views they feel are best.
But if Americans have cause to question the loyalty of one the two main parties, and have reason to question the loyalty of the conservative movement, then we may reach the point where Republicans and conservatives can no longer be seen as legitimate participants in the national political debate.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has said Texas has the option of leaving the Union if it does not like what the federal government is doing.
He said this despite the blood shed in our Civil War to preserve the Union and to free the slaves.
( 4/20/09 Update–Now a second Republican is talking treason.)
( 4/24/09 Update –Half of Texas Republicans share this disloyal view.)
Here is what Governor Perry said—
“Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that,” Perry said. “My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.”
According to the Handbook of Texas Online, Governor Perry is wrong that Texas can leave the Union. What it can do is divide into five states. Also, an 1869 Supreme Court case denied Texas the right to secede.
Governor Perry joins Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as open to secession.
At the same time, this Voice of America story discusses Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s report that right-wing terror groups in the United States may be on the rise.
With leading Republicans talking the hateful language of disunion, right-wing fringe groups need only look to the news of the day to find ideas and support for their actions.
There are questions about the patriotic loyalty of Sarah Palin and her husband Todd Palin. Both attended meetings of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party. Mr. Palin was a member for a number of years. Governor Palin may or may not have been a member. She claims she was not. In any case, Governor Palin addressed the party as recently as 2006.
Let me ask—Who attends meetings of political parties that advocate secession as a possible solution to local grievances?
There are also questions about Ms. Palin’s longtime church. It seems that is very far to the right and that Governor Palin may feel the War in Iraq is part of a larger messianic plan. Ms. Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God.
As we consider Governor Palin for an office that puts her next in line for the Presidency, we need to be certain of her loyalty to our nation and its constitution. We need to know if her religious beliefs will lead the nation into dangerous and uncharted waters.
From the New York Times—
In the mid-1990s, the Alaskan Independence Party was experiencing a boom of sorts. A governor had been elected on its ticket in 1990, when the party was not even a decade old. And membership was swelling. Among the new recruits was Todd Palin, whose wife, Sarah, would later become governor…
The Palins attended the party’s convention in their hometown, Wasilla, in 1994, according to party officials, where the party called for a revote on statehood and a draft constitution for an independent Republic of Alaska. Mr. Palin joined the party. Ms. Palin remained a Republican and never joined the Alaskan Independence Party, but returned to its convention in 2006 to speak as candidate for governor. After she had been elected, she recorded a video greeting that was played at the party convention this year. “Good luck on a successful and inspiring convention,” she said. “Keep up the good work, and God bless you.”
Now that she is the Republican nominee for vice president — for a campaign whose motto is “Country first” — the couple’s interaction with the Alaskan Independence Party has gotten attention because of its reputation as a secessionist group. Alaskan Independence Party officials released a statement Monday saying that Ms. Palin had been a member for two years, from 1994 to 1996, information included in reports in The New York Times and other news outlets. In Internet videos of recent party meetings, other party officials can be seen boasting of Ms. Palin’s past membership.
On Tuesday, though, the party’s chairwoman, Lynette Clark, said the earlier statement was false. Ms. Clark said that she had based it on information another party member had given her, but that a review of the records showed only that Ms. Palin had attended the 1994 conference. Ms. Clark added that while the review confirmed Todd Palin as a member, it did not indicate that Ms. Palin had been one.
On Wednesday, Ms. Clark released a corrected statement, saying, in part, “I, foolishly, repeated and accepted as fact what an officer of this membership shared with myself, and husband Dexter Clark, over a year ago.”
Ms. Palin has been registered as a Republican since May 1982, according to the State Division of Elections. Mr. Palin registered as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party in 1995, remaining a member for all but two months of the next seven years, until he registered as an undeclared voter in July 2002.
he Alaskan Independence Party’s Web site, akip.org, which includes the motto “Alaska First — Alaska Always” in its banner, describes party members as seeking “a range of solutions to the conflicts between federal and local authority,” including “advocacy for state’s rights, through a return to territorial status, all the way to complete independence and nationhood status for Alaska.” It calls for repatriation of lands held by the federal government “to the state and people of Alaska,” as well as, among other issues, the right to home-school children and the privatization of government services.
Ms. Clark objected to descriptions of her party as secessionist, saying it advocates “states’ rights” and “state sovereignty.” Ms. Clark said she interpreted Ms. Palin’s attendance at the 1994 convention as reflecting an interest in hearing a variety of perspectives. “Her heart is very Alaskan,” she said, “and we have Alaskan issues.”