President Obama To Visit Texas—How Will He Refrain From Laughing When Some Texans Demand More Federal Help?
The President is scheduled to visit El Paso and Austin.
(Above–President Obama at Texas A & M University in 2009. President Obama and Texans get along just fine–Unless some folks would claim that the photo is a fake.)
Because the Johnson Space Center Houston was not awarded a retired space shuttle, and because the President has not declared a federal emergency over ongoing wildfires in Texas, some feel Mr. Obama does not like Texas.
This article on the President’s visit to Texas written by Maria Recio at McClatchy Newspapers has the following quote–
“You can almost make the case the administration has a vendetta against Texas,” said Republican Rep. Michael Burgess.
Why would anybody not like such a fine person?
The federal government has helped Texas with the wildfires—
“Current federal aid covers 75 percent of Texas’s costs for emergency response work, such as evacuations, equipment, field camps and meals for firefighters, police barricading and traffic control. The agency’s regional office in Denton continues to monitor the situation and work closely with Texas Forest Service and Texas Division of Emergency Management, FEMA officials say. In addition, firefighting teams from more than 30 states have provided state-to-state support for firefighting efforts in Texas.”
From our Governor—
“You have to ask, ‘Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?’ I know our letter didn’t get lost in the mail…”
What a decent Christian man.
If it is all about a political grudge, why should President Obama help Alabama anymore than he should assist Texas? Barack Obama won 39% of the vote in Alabama in 2008. He lost Texas with 44% of the vote.
The President is not going to win Alabama in 2012.
Here is the bottom line—
* The federal government has helped Texas with the wildfires. Tea Party supporters and other Republicans and others are free to form a battalion citizen volunteers to help Texans deal with the problems presented by wildfires. To this point, though the fires have been going on for some weeks now, I’m not aware of any so-assembled citizen-volunteers.
* The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center was a gift to Texas from a Texas politician who looked up to Franklin D. Roosevelt as a hero. You’d think that conservative Texans would be demanding that the federally operated Space Center be removed from Texas as an intrusion upon our states rights and sense of self -reliance.
It is not that I view Barack Obama with an uncritical eye, it is just that opposition to him in some quarters of Texas is so extreme that you can’t but help to be glad to see the guy in the Lone Star State. You’ve got to appreciate him for the enemies he has made.
The bad news for Texans is that these enemies, maybe 20% of all Texans, are the people who vote in Republican primaries. This angry minority is doing great harm to public education and public health in Texas.
Many in Houston are upset that the Obama administration did not locate one of the three soon-to-be retired space shuttle orbiters at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
(Above–The Space Shuttle Endeavour flying over the Johnson Space Center and Houston. It will not be landing in Houston.)
It is hard to imagine that anybody thought one of these shuttles would come to Texas. Given all the anti-government talk in Texas, you’d think that we would not want anything at all from the feds.
The Johnson Space Center is in Texas in the first place due to the efforts of the New Deal-inspired Lyndon Johnson.
Maybe the federal government has not deserted the space program in Texas, so much as Texas has embraced an extreme politics that rejects the things that have helped Texas grow over the years.
(John Coby at Bay Area Houston says that Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, who represents the Johnson Space Center area, did a poor job working to get the shuttle for Houston.)
Texas U.S. House district 22 is up for grabs in 2008.
Here are some facts, history and views on this race.
Texas U.S. House district 22, previously held by disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, is now held by Democrat Nick Lampson.
( Here is a photo of Mr. Lampson. He is happy in this picture.)
Here is some information about Mr. Lampson from the 2008 Almanac of American Politics—
Lampson grew up in Beaumont; he got his first job sweeping floors at age 12 when his father died. After graduating from Lamar University, he taught science in Beaumont schools, leading the first local Earth Day celebration in 1979, and then taught a real estate management course at Lamar; he also headed a home health care company. In 1977, he was elected Jefferson County tax assessor; he claimed to cut the cost of tax collections during his 18 years on the job. In Lampson’s previous House stint, he had a moderate voting record and was a member of the New Democrat Coalition. He promoted the Johnson Space Center from his Science Committee assignment and also looked after local needs from his perch on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In 2003, Lampson fell victim to the 2003 redistricting plan that was designed to oust Anglo Democrats like him. Republican Ted Poe defeated him 56%-43% the next year in the newly formed 2d District.
On the Republican side, an April 8 runoff will decide the nomination.
One of the two Republicans in the runoff, Pete Olson, a former chief of staff to far right-wing Texas Senator John Cornyn, is a conventionally awful conservative Republican.
Mr. Olson is your man for more war, more tax cuts for the rich and no progress on universal health care.
The other candidate, former Houston City Councilwoman Dr. Shelley Sekula Gibbs , is uniquely awful.
Due to a quirk in electoral law, Ms. Sekula Gibbs served a two-month term in the U.S. House between Election Day 2006 and Congressional Inauguration Day 2007.
Here is an account of that term from the Associated Press after staffers resigned citing mistreatment by Ms. Sekula Gibbs —
“The staff members have a combined thirty-plus years of experience working on the Hill,” Mr. James wrote. “Never has any member of Congress treated us with as much disrespect and unprofessionalism as we witnessed during those five days.”
Ms. Sekula-Gibbs has raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, largely because of the resignations. Earlier, she told reporters she planned to resolve such thorny issues as tax cuts, immigration reform and the Iraq war — all in less than two weeks of a lame-duck Congress”
Despite how lousy the Republicans are, voting for Mr. Lampson is a judgement call.
On one hand, in 2006 Mr. Lampson campaigned to the right in order to win a Republican-leaning district. George W. Bush won 64% here in 2004. Sometimes you do what you have to do.
On the other hand, Lampson’s 2006 campaign seemed at times further to the right than required. Specifically egregious in my view was an ad criticizing Dr. Sekula Gibbs for routine city council votes on water and sewer rate hikes.
Cities have to be able to function.
You could argue that as long as Mr. Lampson supports Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker and votes with Democrats as often as political realities allow, why not take the best you are going to get in tough circumstances?
Or, you could argue that we are not always obligated to take the least-bad option. Sometimes you can just leave a blank spot on your ballot. If we always take the least-bad option, we’ll just end up being used.
For example, as a lifelong resident of cities, I’ve long felt Democrats take the votes of black folks in every election, but often offer little in return.
On Election Day, you might be able to stomach Mr. Lampson and vote for him. Or you might feel it is all too much. We’ll see how obnoxious Mr. Lampson’s campaign is in 2008.
This is a basic dilemma in districts where a candidate for the minority party in the area has to contort his or herself to get elected.
( Photo of contortionist.)
The 22nd Congressional district of Texas is in the Houston metropolitan area. A focus in the district is on the growing suburban city of Sugar Land. 80,000 of the 22nd’s 800,000 people live in Sugar Land. (Here is a history of Sugar Land.)
The district includes portions of Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston and Harris counties. While Sugar Land is in Fort Bend ( Which is a big place with nearly 500,000 people), roughly half the district lives in Harris County.
Some these places are aging industrial areas while others are newer suburbs.
In contrast to booming Sugar Land, Pasadena is an established center of industry. 140,000 people live in Pasadena. (Here is a history of Pasadena.)
( Photo of Pasadena, Texas.)
Houston suburbs are very ethnically diverse. This is a strong point of Houston and the Houston area. The 22nd is counted as 8% Asian, 9% black and with 20% of Hispanic origin.
An important source of jobs in this Republican district is the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Republicans are fine with government spending when they are the ones cashing the checks.
(Relative importance of Texas-22 as seen from moon. Here are some basic facts about the moon. )
Good luck to liberal and progressive voters in Texas U.S House district 22—You’ll need it!