Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Raises $1 Million—Good For Her Though Not So Meaningful For Most In Houston

Houston Mayor Annise Parker held a campaign kick-off fundraiser  yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston.

Some Facebook friends who were at the function said that Mayor Parker, a Democrat, announced that the event had raised $1 million for her campaign.

If Mayor Parker raised $1 million, and if she remains without a credible 2011 challenger, maybe she can use some of that money for voter registration and voter turnout in our Hispanic communities. Maybe she can make a real effort to increase political awareness in our big apathetic city.

This would give substance to Ms. Parker’s 2009 claim of a civil rights-based grassroots victory.

In 2009, Ms. Parker proved that an openly gay person can be elected Mayor of the fourth largest city in the nation.

At the same time, it should be recalled that Ms. Parker won the 2009 election with 53% of the 16% of Houston voters who cast a ballot.

In 2011, Ms. Parker  has proven she is a good fundraiser.

While Ms. Parker’s 2009 victory remains an inspiration, there is not much hopeful to be found in the clear feeling of the great majority of Houston residents that city elections are not very important.

There is little grassroots enthusiasm for any politician in our city.

Mayor Parker’s million dollars is great news for her and her campaign.  For most of the rest of us in Houston, it doesn’t mean so much.

Though in the end, we must recall that it is up to the individual to make the call to work with others for a better city.

As that million dollars sitting in Mayor Parker’s campaign bank account reminds us yet again—no matter the claims of civil rights and grassroots—nobody will do the work of democracy for everyday citizens.

( Of course, this all is a two way street. Hispanic leaders in Houston have an obligation to work to increase turnout on their own.)

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Tree Protest Against Citizens United Ruling—Maybe You Can Do Something More Effective

Above you see a Christmas ornament on my Christmas Tree.

The ornament is of the U.S. Capitol with a copy of the Constitution scrolled around the building.

You light up the ornament by placing a Christmas tree light into the back of the ornament.

I placed a green bulb in the Capitol/Constitution because our nation’s political system is run by big money.

It’s always been this way—But since the terrible Citizens United ruling earlier this year by the Supreme Court, the rule of big money is even worse.

The 2012 campaign is going to be all about big money from often secret sources.

The Citzens United decision allows for unlimited secret money to be donated to political campaigns from corporations and the super-rich.

I’m not certain my protest of making the Capitol and the Constitution the color of money will change much.

It is simply what I could do in the context of my Christmas Tree.

However, there are things we can do to combat the role of big money in our politics.

We can donate money ourselves, discuss issues with friends and family,  run for office, start a blog, contact our elected officials, volunteer  for candidates or causes we support, and do whatever else we feel may be of value.

There are always things we can do. It is up to us to do the work of freedom and democracy.

To the left of the Capitol ornament you see a salmon.

That would be a great movie where the Capitol was attacked by a salmon. I hope somebody makes that movie real soon.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Staircase To Prosperity Has Been Dismantled

The Census Bureau reports that personal incomes have been stagnant for a decade.

This has not happened at any time since the Great Depression.

The rich are doing well.

Many of the rest of us are struggling.

People want to work hard to do well enough to have a decent life.

But as you see in the picture above that I took a few days ago in Galveston,Texas, the staircase to prosperity has been dismantled and many are stuck on the beach of stagnant and falling wages.

Please read here about Republican policies that have favored the rich and hurt the middle class and the poor.

September 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Senator Durbin Says Banks “Own” The Senate

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said the following recently on a Chicago radio station about the power of banks in the U.S. Senate—

“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

Senator Durbin is the number two Democrat in the Senate after Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A Glenn Greenwald post in Salon deals with this issue in much greater detail. It’s well worth reading.

It’s no surprise that these things are true even in our current majority-Democrat Senate. 

For all the cynicism about politicians, many want to believe the people they vote for put average folks first. While what we have today in Washington is much better than what we had before the 2008 election, one wonders if our political system will ever be free of big money influence no matter who we elect.

Of course, some blame must rest with the public. Public financing of campaigns is an idea that has long been out there. But it’s an issue that does not excite people. Also, people often oppose government action reflexively even when it might  be helpful. 

In my own case , I supported Barack Obama when he turned down public money for his Presidential race in 2008 because my main focus was on Mr. Obama winning. One can easily say I took a short cut against my own beliefs in order to win. 

Here is the web home of Public Campaign. These folks advocate for the public financing of campaigns.

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

That Free Web Content You Enjoy Is Likely Costing Somebody A Job

The Economist has an editorial this week saying that the model of free web services sustained only by advertising revenue is for the most part not viable.

From the editorial—

The idea that you can give things away online, and hope that advertising revenue will somehow materialise later on, undoubtedly appeals to users, who enjoy free services as a result. There is business logic to it, too. The nature of the internet means that the barrier to entry for new companies is very low—indeed, thanks to technological improvements, it is even lower in the Web 2.0 era than it was in the dotcom era. The internet also allows companies to exploit network effects to attract and retain users very quickly and cheaply. So it is not surprising that rival search engines, social networks or video-sharing sites give their services away in order to attract users, and put the difficult question of how to make money to one side. If you worry too much about a revenue model early on, you risk being left behind.

Ultimately, though, every business needs revenues—and advertising, it transpires, is not going to provide enough. Free content and services were a beguiling idea. But the lesson … is that somebody somewhere is going to have to pick up the tab for lunch.

(Just as a note, I have a paid print subscription to The Economist.)

I’m glad The Economist ran this view because I often wonder how people think the web services they enjoy and use can operate if they are given for free. Even more so, I wonder how it has come to be that people feel entitled to use something for free.  

For all the financial  problems with newspapers these days, the problems are not the  result of a lack of readers. When you figure in web editions, more people are reading the newspaper—in one form or another—than ever before. It’s just that people are not willing to pay for the services they are using.

At core what folks want is something for nothing. The bottom line is not some type of information revolution or technology revolution. It’s the lure of something for nothing.

Content costs money to produce. People may think they are getting something for free–But what is really happening is that people are losing their jobs because nobody will pay up. This is the cost of so-called free content.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 9 Comments

What Does Congressman Gene Green Need With All That PAC Money?

What exactly does Houston-area Congressman Gene Green (above), a Democrat, need with$842,656 in PAC money? This is the amount of PAC money Congressman Green raised in 2007-08.  This PAC money was 78% of all the money Mr. Green raised in this election cycle. Overall, Mr. Green was fifth in the entire U.S. House  in 2008 for money given by PACS as a percentage of all campaign funds raised.   

Mr. Green serves the 29th U.S. House District of Texas. The district includes, among other places, much of the Houston Ship Channel and other parts of Houston, portions of Pasadena, Baytown and Humble, as a well as South Houston and Jacinto City. Here is a profile of the district from Mr. Green’s office. 

These PAC statistics are from a recent USA Today story. 

Two Texas Republicans, Joe Barton and Kevin Brady were the PAC champions. Mr. Barton, of Ennis, got 88% of his money from PACS while Mr. Brady, of The Woodlands, came in next at 86%.  Overall PACS spent $416 million on federal elections in 2008.

You can click here and get a picture of where the money Mr. Green raised in 2008 came from. Below is a list of various industry groups that donated to Mr. Green for the most recent election. 

Health Professionals $168,396
Oil & Gas $84,500
Lawyers/Law Firms $77,472
Electric Utilities $57,949
Industrial Unions $52,750
Building Trade Unions $52,000
Chemical & Related Manufacturing $50,538
Transportation Unions $40,500
TV/Movies/Music $40,500
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $34,600
Automotive $19,000
Beer, Wine & Liquor $17,500
Lobbyists $17,250
Telephone Utilities $17,000
Sea Transport $16,500
Misc Energy $15,000
Public Sector Unions $15,000
Telecom Services & Equipment $14,000
Misc Unions $13,500
Retail Sales $13,000

Just what does Rep. Green need with all this money from all these groups? His 2008 Republican opponent raised just over $14,000. Mr. Green has won reelection with almost 75% of the vote in the last two elections. In 2004 he won with 94%.

Maybe what Mr. Green wishes to do is scare off any potential Hispanic primary challenger in a district that is two-thirds Hispanic. Now I know it would be shocking if Mr. Green was taking advantage of money from the alcohol industry and the pharmaceutical industry to scare off potential Hispanic opposition in a two-thirds Hispanic district, but these things do happen.

(Local gasbag Marc Campos has been trying to stir-up a primary fight   for Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee. That’s his right and I don’t care one way or another, but if his goal is to increase Hispanic representation in the Houston-area, a subject he often discusses with varying degrees of bluster, the 29th might seem his better chance. C’mon Marc– Find a candidate for this one! )  

Mr. Green has, according to the 2008 Almanac of American Politics, voted  for a bill to roll back subsidies for the oil industry. It’s not that Mr. Green is at the total beck-and-call of the groups that give him money. It’s rarely that simple with these guys. (At least in any way you can pin down.)  Though I wager campaign contributions may well gain access to speak to Mr. Green and senior members of his staff.

Here is some information on Mr. Green’s voting record.

The issue is that Mr. Green uses his incumbency to scare off challengers and that he is such a willing participant  in a system that, while legal, is rotten. This should not be the program. It would be of value for a primary opponent of any ethnicity to take on Mr. Green in 2010 and to bring these issues to greater public attention.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’ll Vote For Obama If He Pays Off My Hotel Bill

I read today about Hillary Clinton asking Barack Obama to help pay off her campaign debt.

One article I read said Senator Clinton would not be able to campaign fully for Senator Obama if she had to raise money on her own to pay off the debt.

I think Senator Clinton is on to something here. I’m staying at a hotel in suburban Boston this week. I’ll vote for Senator Obama if he pays off my hotel bill.

If he refuses to pay?

Well—Then I just might be very busy on Election Day and not be able to make it to the polls.

Why should I pay pay my own bills if I can bully someone else to do so?

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 6 Comments