Texas Liberal

All People Matter

In This Case, Democrats Are As Willing As Republicans To Ruin The Lives Of The Urban Poor

In endorsements I have made in this campaign season, I’ve supported many Democrats.

While I’ve also endorsed a Green, a Socialist, and an independent, most of my endorsements have been of Democrats.

While I believe that many Democrats seeking public office are good and decent people, my support comes with a fair measure of reservation.

As a citizen and voter who has spent nearly every day of my life in a city, I feel that Democrats often take the votes of urban voters and offer little in return.

I feel that both liberals and minority voters hear a lot of talk from Democrats, but because the process is so bought off by big money and because so many politicians are cowards, urban policy is ignored and the poor stay poor year after year.

A recent opinion column in The  New York Times by Charles Blow about public policy regarding drug arrests brings this view home.

I’m just going to run the full piece. I subscribe to the print edition of the Times at great cost so I don’t feel guilty.

From Mr. Blow—

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s recent chest-thumping against the California ballot initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana underscores how the war on drugs in this country has become a war focused on marijuana, one being waged primarily against minorities and promoted, fueled and financed primarily by Democratic politicians.

According to a report released Friday by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project for the Drug Policy Alliance and the N.A.A.C.P. and led by Prof. Harry Levine, a sociologist at the City University of New York: “In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half-a-million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African-Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially men.”

For instance, the report says that the City of Los Angeles “arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.”

This imbalance is not specific to California; it exists across the country.

One could justify this on some level if, in fact, young blacks and Hispanics were using marijuana more than young whites, but that isn’t the case. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, young white people consistently report higher marijuana use than blacks or Hispanics.

How can such a grotesquely race-biased pattern of arrests exist? Professor Levine paints a sordid picture: young police officers are funneled into low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods where they are encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk young men. And if you look for something, you’ll find it. So they find some of these young people with small amounts of drugs. Then these young people are arrested. The officers will get experience processing arrests and will likely get to file overtime, he says, and the police chiefs will get a measure of productivity from their officers. The young men who were arrested are simply pawns.

Professor Levine has documented an even more devious practice in New York City, where possessing a small amount of marijuana is just a civil violation (so is a speeding ticket), but having it “open to public view” is a misdemeanor.

According to a report he issued in September 2009: “Police typically discovered the marijuana by stopping and searching people, often by tricking and intimidating them into revealing it. When people then took out the marijuana and handed it over, they were arrested and charged with the crime of having marijuana ‘open to public view.’ ”

And these arrests are no minor matter. They can have very serious, lifelong consequences.

For instance, in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a provision that made people temporarily or permanently ineligible for federal financial aid depending on how many times they had been arrested and convicted of a drug offense. The law took effect in 2000, and since 2006 lawmakers have been working to soften it. But the effect was real and devastating: the people most in need of financial aid were also being the most targeted for marijuana arrests and were therefore the most at risk of being frozen out of higher education. Remember that the next time someone starts spouting statistics comparing the number of black men in prison with the number in college. Continue reading

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Advocates For Full Voting Rights Speak Out On Allegations Of Voter Intimidation In Harris County

Above you see Andy Wilson of Public Citizen here in Texas speaking in Houston today about reports of intimidation of voters at polling paces in Harris County.

With Mr. Wilson to the left is Anita Privett of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

Here are details of this press conference from the Public Citizen blog Texas Vox.

From the press release—

“Last week as early voting for the Nov. 2 General Election got under way, there were complaints of poll watchers interfering with or intimidating voters and other potential election violations in Harris and Bexar Counties.  Our organizations–LWV-Texas, Public Citizen, and Common Cause–condemn any and all attempts to sway this election by controlling who gets to vote. The right to vote is sacred. People have died for this right, both in our nation’s past and even in our recent history.   Registered citizens should never be turned away from being able to vote.  Our greatest patriots, such as Washington and Lincoln, waged war to insure that taxation without representation did not occur and to protect the notion of government for, of, and by the people. It was a Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who pushed through Congress and then signed the Voting Rights Act which protects the rights of all citizens to register and to vote. We want to encourage everyone, in Harris County, Bexar County, and across the state, to come out and vote, regardless of ideology, gender, race, income, whether your community is urban, suburban, or rural, and whether your preferred party is Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Tea.  Do not let tales of intimidation frighten you away…”

The Houston Chronicle has reported on these allegations of harassment.

Perry Dorrell at the great Houston blog Brains & Eggs has written on the matter.

All citizens have the right to vote. It’s a shame if that right is being questioned by some based on superficial differences of skin color or because someone may live in one part of Harris County rather than in another part of the county.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

You’ve Got To Have An Awareness Of The Parts To Grasp The Whole

As I’ve said before, you’ve got to have an awareness of the parts to understand the whole.

Abobe you see a picture I recently took of some parts that will soon be part of a larger whole.

Things just don’t appear from thin air. They exist for a reason. They exist because they were made. They exist as a result of the things that made them.

When you are trying to understand something, whether it be a machine or some fact of our society, try to see the parts that make the whole.

Doing so will help you understand what is taking place.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Rick Molina Working Hard To Represent The People Of Pasadena In Austin

Rick Molina is running very hard to win in Texas State House District 144.

This district represents the hard-working people of Pasadena, Texas. Pasadena is the second largest city in Harris County.

From Mr. Molina’s campaign web home

“From an early age, his parents taught him the value of hard work, persistence, and community service. His family wasn’t wealthy but they knew that a good education was the key to success. As the first person in his family to go to college, Rick attended nearby Rice University and the University of Houston Law School, all while working part-time to pay his own tuition and volunteering as a student mentor. Unfortunately, today’s skyrocketing tuition costs undermine not just our families but our businesses that depend on a skilled workforce to keep our region economically competitive. Rick wants to make sure that our colleges aren’t off limits to middle class students. After college, Rick moved back home because he knew Pasadena had the right elements to raise a family of his own: quality of life, friendly people, and safe neighborhoods. Crime prevention is important in every community and Rick will use his experience as a former Harris County prosecutor to keep drugs, gangs, and violent criminals off our streets and focus on supporting our law enforcement officers.”

Mr. Molina’s opponent, incumbent Ken Legler has a very poor record on job creation and helping people who are put of work in these hard times.

Click here for some of the details on Mr. Legler’s record on outsourcing jobs abroad and opposing unemployment benefits.

Mr. Molina is hard-worker and a great believer in the American Dream. He’s the kind of effective representative in Austin that the people of Pasadena merit.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

314th Family District Judge John Phillips Does Not Seem Warm On The Idea Of Gay People Adopting Children–We Should Vote For His Opponent

Which candidate for Harris County family District Court does not like the idea of gay people adopting children?

According to Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey, it is Republican incumbent John Phillips who feels this way about our fellow citizens who would just like to help a child get by in the world.

From Mr. casey’s column–

Mayor Annise Parker didn’t need to be reminded of this story. After last spring’s primary, she endorsed Phillips’ opponent, Judge David Longoria. (Her only other endorsement is of State Rep. Ellen Cohen.)

“Parker headlined a fundraiser last July partly because of Longoria’s extensive credentials. Another factor was that when she adopted two teenagers five years ago (a heroic act, in my opinion) she was advised that Phillips, who had jurisdiction because he had terminated the parental rights in the case, has often expressed his disapproval of allowing gays to adopt. Parker’s attorney, Connie Moore, managed to get the case transferred to another court, much to the teenagers’ good fortune.”

Click the link to read the full column about Judge Phillips and how he conducts his office.

It is so bad that Houston Mayor Annise Parker endorsed Judge Phillip’s opponent. This is only one of two races this year in which the Mayor has taken an active stand.

Running against Judge Phillips for the 314th District Court is David Longoria.

Be sure to vote in all the races on our Harris County ballot. They all matter.

Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has interviews with all the Democrats running for Judge in Harris County.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment