Tag Archives: texas politics
“When essential services were needed the most, the system broke. You deserve answers. You will get those answers.”
“You shouldn’t be saddled with skyrocketing power bills.”
“Each of these power sources failed to fully produce because of inadequate safeguards.”
“Members of the board of ERCOT resigned for their failures and Greg Abbott should follow. He is the head of the state. He is responsible for this crisis.”
“It really would have been nice to have a state representative helping on the ground, working at a warming center, packing food, etc. rather than immediately (flying) off on a private plane when the going got tough. My neighbors didn’t get to do that when her pipe burst.”
A first-term lawmaker, Gates is facing backlash for taking a private jet to Orlando, but says he and his family had to leave their home, as pipes had burst.
Texas, we could have had Beto O’Rourke as U.S. Senator. Instead, a slight majority voted to keep Ted Cruz in office in 2018. I emphasize “slight majority” because – unlike his 2012 victory over Paul Sadler – Cruz didn’t well…cruise to a reelection win.
In the summer of 2018, O’Rourke, then a U.S. House Representative, shocked the Texas Republican Party and political observers alike when he raised several million dollars in a very short time. It was no minor feat; accomplished by literally cold-calling people and pounding the pavement all over the state, gathering small amount donations from average citizens. O’Rourke also did something no other Texas candidate for the U.S. Senate had done: he visited every single county in the state. Some residents were stunned upon his arrival, as their county had no record of such a candidate stopping by. Again, this was no minor task. Texas boasts 267 counties in roughly 268,597 square miles (695,663 sq. km). It’s half the size of Alaska and as big as some of Europe’s largest countries, such as Spain and France. So, O’Rourke disturbed the evangelical conservative force that’s dominated Texas politics for generations; first as Democrats and now as Republicans.
For many Texas Hispanics – especially someone like me whose ancestry in this state goes back before there was a United States – Cruz’s win in 2012 was a distinct insult. Cruz, a Canadian-born Cuban-Italian, was lauded as the state’s first Hispanic senator. Cruz is to Hispanics what I am to Nigerians.
More significantly, though, Cruz is known for his antagonistic approach to political navigations once he got to Washington, as well as his failed 2016 presidential bid. He and Donald Trump ended up battling for the final nomination. In what I considered a case of choosing the lesser of two evils, Cruz would have been that lesser one. But, I’ve only voted Republican once in my life and have let myself live to regret it; thus I don’t know what shenanigans rumbled through the brains of Trump acolytes. The animosity between Cruz and Trump became even more palpable during the 2016 Republican National Convention, when the Texan gave his speech and did everything he could NOT to say the name Donald Trump, as the crowd booed and jeered. The tension was so high that Secret Service agents removed Cruz’s wife, Heidi, from the convention floor.
By 2018, though, Cruz had done little to advance a pro-citizen agenda. In all fairness, O’Rourke had no significant legislative achievements during his tenure either. I guess I was mistaken in believing we elect people to such prestigious positions to actually…you know, do something. I must be a damn fool! But that year I eagerly jumped on the O’Rourke train, donating money and proudly voting for him.
Alas, it was for naught. Cruz squeezed into another term, sweating and hyperventilating all the way. It was enough to upset that right-wing force in Texas politics, but Cruz made it back to Washington anyway.
Then came the ice. Like a herd of Central American immigrants carrying loads of bananas stuffed with cocaine (a conservative’s second worst nightmare after queer marriage), Winter Storm Uri ambushed Texas. Meteorologists had warned state and energy industry officials about its strength. When most Texans think of hurricanes, they conjure images of Katrina and Harvey, not a snow-laden monstrosity from the Pacific or (hah-ha) Canada.
As millions of Texans found themselves without power – and, in some cases, water – state leaders began blaming liberals and their green energy ideas for the catastrophe. And Ted Cruz left his comfortable Houston abode to jet to Cancun because his 2 daughters wanted to go. He was there for all of one day before the angry heat from his constituents melted his margarita and his resolve and he scurried back to Houston; hoping no one would notice.
We noticed. We also noticed that at least 80 Texans died last week directly as a result of the ice storm.
Cruz hopscotched across the stage of excuses to explain his sudden departure and miraculous return. Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke began raising money for Texans stranded in their darkened homes and even made calls to some of them. He got help from one of the most demonized figures among conservatives in American politics: New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Now, as Texas state leaders continue blaming everyone else for the catastrophe, Ted Cruz left Texas again and headed for Orlando, Florida to attend the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). In summation it’s a yearly festival where right-wingers trash anyone even slightly to the left of their narrow-minded ideology. At this year’s escapade, a gold-colored figure of Trump has taken center stage.
And so has Cruz. Making light of his Cancun trip, he quipped: “I’ve got to say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice.”
Oh, ha-ha! HURK!
Fuck you, Cruz. Fuck you and your conservative philosophies. Fuck you and the Texas Republican “leaders” who can’t admit their pro-business, anti-regulation antics over the past decades put us into this quagmire. People suffered and people died during this mess! One of the wealthiest states in the richest nation on Earth in the third decade of the 21st century should not have experienced such a calamity!
But I’m just venting. Texas, we could’ve had Beto.
Image: Mike Luckovich
“Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.”
Rick Perry, Texas Governor 2001-2015, on the Texas ice storm
“No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local governments responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! … Only the strong will survive and the week will perish.”
Boyd resigned his position shortly after he made this comment.
“This is what you get when people who don’t believe in government are running your government. . . . They’d like to spend more time on Hannity talking about the Green New Deal and wind turbines than they would in trying to help those who desperately need it right now.”
Beto O’Rourke, on this week’s ice storms in Texas
“Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”
Dr. Hasan Gokal, a Houston doctor with the Harris County Public Health Department who was charged with stealing ten doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for rushing to administer them before expiration
“It’s essentially a question of how much insurance you want to buy. What makes this problem even harder is that we’re now in a world where, especially with climate change, the past is no longer a good guide to the future. We have to get much better at preparing for the unexpected.”
“Texas officials continue to do everything they can to keep Texans from voting by mail this fall. Our elected leaders should be working overtime to make voting as easy as possible for every eligible voter, including anyone who worries voting in person is too dangerous amid the coronavirus pandemic. When Harris County officials tried to do the right thing, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton promptly sued to stop it.”
– Houston Chronicle Editorial Board, on continuing efforts by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to prevent voting by mail in the state
“Mail-in ballots aren’t where the election fraud is happening. It’s happening in the office of our indicted attorney general.”
– Kendall Scudder, a Dallas County businessman who – along with another man – filed a formal complaint against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleging the latter committed voter fraud in each of the state’s 254 counties by contradicting a judge’s order expanding the availability of mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No time is right for a health pandemic, but COVID-19 couldn’t have arisen at a more inconvenient period for Americans: at the start of the 2020 presidential election race. Things had been proceeding somewhat normally until March, when concerns about the “novel coronavirus” began altering the social landscape. When I saw that this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo had been postponed – possibly to next year – I knew our world had been capsized by this invisible biological menace. Viruses, like facts, always have a way of sneaking into our lives and making us rethink everything we’ve ever learned. Facts, however, are good things. But, while a crisis of any kind can bring out the best humanity has to offer, it can also bring out the worst.
Right now political conservatives in the U.S. are trying to finagle the COVID-19 miasma into an obstructionist nightmare for the voting populace. Last week thousands of voters in Wisconsin were forced to leave their homes and venture out to designated polling places to cast their votes for a candidate in the Democratic primary. On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to allow an extension of absentee voting in Wisconsin; thus, forcing the primary to go on as planned on April 7. On April 2, a federal judge had ruled that absentee voting can be extended. But unsurprisingly, the Republican National Committee appealed the ruling, which landed on the docket of the High Court.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.” She went on: “Because gathering at the polling place now poses dire health risks, an unprecedented number of Wisconsin voters – at the encouragement of public officials – have turned to voting absentee. About one million more voters have requested absentee ballots in this election than in 2016. Accommodating the surge of absentee ballot requests has heavily burdened election officials, resulting in a severe backlog of ballots requested but not promptly mailed to voters.”
Political conservatives don’t like it when people they consider insignificant actually have the audacity to practice their right to vote. For a good part of American history, they’ve done just about everything they could – including intimidation and violence – to stifle voting rights; which, they’ve obviously forgotten, is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society. The right to vote is clearly mentioned in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution! Then again, they may not necessarily forget about it, as they just ignore it. And they always seem to skip over to focus attention on the 2nd Amendment, which addresses firearms.
Conservatives established and enforced such obstructionist tactics as “grandfather clauses”, literacy tests, and poll taxes. Voting advocates had to fight for confidential voting. Early feminists had to do the same to get the 19th Amendment ratified. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he conceded that he and his fellow Democrats had probably handed the South to the Republican Party. And he was right! Slowly, but surely, over the ensuing decade, many White southerners began switching to the GOP. A number of well-known U.S. politicians, such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, also changed their allegiances to the Republican Party.
The election of Barack Obama solidified in the minds of many conservatives the horrors of expanded voting. They then launched a number of efforts – both at the national and state levels – to ensure that would never happen again. A slew of voter identification rules were suddenly enacted.
The COVID-19 scourge has prompted calls across the nation for expanded absentee voting, such as mail-ins, which has been rebuffed by conservatives who holler voter fraud could result. This week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that fear of catching the virus does not qualify voters to vote by mail.
But State Judge Tim Sulak ruled that Texans afraid of catching COVID-19 should be allowed to vote by mail during the pandemic, using the state’s disability clause in the state’s election code, and said he will issue a temporary injunction. The Texas Democratic Party and several had filed a lawsuit over concerns that voters in this July’s elections, including the primary runoffs, could come in contact with infected people when voting in person.
“Based on the plain language of the relevant statutory text, fear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code,” Deputy Attorney General Ryan M. Vassar wrote in a letter to Fort Worth State Rep. Stephanie Klick, a fellow Republican.
And, of course, Paxton was “disappointed” that Sulak had “ignored the plain text of the Texas election code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities.”
The voter fraud claim is the default mantra of right-wing politicians every time they enact legislation that impacts the voting process. Texas Republicans have long opposed the expansion of mail-in voting. In 2017 the GOP-dominated state legislature stiffened penalties for election fraud.
“Our state is better off when more Texans participate in our democracy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party. “Voting by mail is safe, secure and accessible. It allows more voters to participate in our democracy, and it’s a common sense way to run an election, especially during a public health crisis.”
Like the Texas Innocence Project, you know the Texas Democratic Party has their work cut out for them!
Currently, residents over age 65, military members, those who will be away from their residence during voting and people with disabilities can request mail-in ballots. Democrats argue that a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring voters’ health,” covers all Texas voters under the age of 65, including those who are afraid to catch the COVID-19 virus.
In his letter to Klick, Vassar naturally disagreed, stating that fears of catching the virus is neither a sickness nor a physical condition, but an emotional reaction to the pandemic is not “sufficient to meet the definition of disability”.
It’s ironic that Vassar regards concerns of contracting COVID-19 as emotional. Throughout Obama’s presidency, conservatives screamed that his administration would ban all firearms, abandon Israel, and force churches to conduct same-sex weddings. None of that happened. It never has and most likely it never will. Yet, liberals are always justifiably concerned that voter suppression is a real possibility when conservatives are elected to office. Justifiably concerned because many state legislatures, such as Texas, actually have moved to enact legislation to combat the ubiquitous pandemic of voter fraud.
During Black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, news cameras captured horrific scenes of police physically assaulting individuals or using water hoses to attack groups of African-Americans. I’ve seen some of that footage – startling black-and-white images of mostly peaceful citizens wanting to vote or be able to enter a restaurant and have a meal. We don’t see that now. Instead, we see elected officials use the power of their position to suppress voting. Firearms have metamorphosed into pens – but they pose no less of a risk.
While I have my own doubts about the effectiveness of the voting process – the fraud-ridden elections of George W. Bush and Donald Trump being the most recent examples – people in any truly democratic society have the right to cast a ballot. And eventually, the obstructionist tactics of those elected (not ordained) politicians will reveal the truth behind their dubious motives.
“This might be easy for you, Senator, but you’re not a server losing wages, a single mom losing her job to stay home with her kids, or one of 5 million Texans without insurance. I’m glad you’re ending your long weekend and hope you’ll pass the legislation they need QUICKLY.”