Wednesday, May 27, 2015

White on White vs Black on Black Murder Rates

When White on White crime occurs, it’s seldom talked about the way Black on Black occurs, especially on the Fox News channel. In fact, White on White crime and murder is seldom talked, period.

But according to the FBI data, there are more White on White murders committed every year than Black on Black murders, with 84 percent of the white murders committed by whites.

Even so, most White people don’t kill anyone. Yet media pundits, like Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, regularly talk about “Black on Black violence,” despite the fact that most Black people don’t kill anyone, and commit few murders than White people.

Race of Offender
Race of Victim Total White Black or
African
American
Other Unknown
White 3,005 2,509 409 49 38
Black or African American 2,491 189 2,245 20 37
Other race2 159 32 27 96 4
Unknown race 68 25 17 3 23
FBI Homicide Data for 2013

These statistics have not led to a media outcry about the problem of White on White crime or the unique pathology of the White community. Nor has the White community stood up to demand change in their community like the Black community does when trying to tackle instances of Black on Black crime.

Time magazine’s Joe Klein wrote an entire column last August in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., that focus on the rate of violence and murder in the Black community - calling it a “social disaster.” But there was no mention that more whites are killed by other whites, which was typical of media outlets.

The term ‘black-on-black’ crime is a destructive, 'racialized' colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that Black People are prone to violence that even African Americans have come to believe it.

Influential columnists like George Will never examine crime committed by whites, do not use the racialized phrase “white-on-white” crime and give the impression African American citizens ore more dangerous than White citizens and the lives of White citizens are more at risk from of African Americans. It this perception of the dangerous Black man that had at least some bearing on Darren Wilson, white Ferguson, Mo police officer shooting 18-year-old African American Michael Brown Jr., and George Zimmerman fatally shooting 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin in Florida, Timothy Loehmann, a Cleveland, Ohio, police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old African American Tamir Rice who was holding a toy gun, and so many other fatal shootings.

It this perception of the dangerous Black man that for generations has prompted parents of black boys across the United States to have rehearsed, dreaded and postponed “The Conversation.” But when their boys become teenagers, parents must tell their sons the risk of what it means to be a black man in America. To keep him safe, they may have to tell the child they love that he risks being targeted by the police, simply because of the color of his skin. How should parents impart this information, while maintaining their child’s pride and sense of self? How does one teach a child to face dangerous racism and ask him to emerge unscathed?

Considering Bureau of Justice Statistics documented homicidal rates from 1980 to 2008, they show that compared to Blacks, Whites were more likely to kill children, the elderly, family members, and their significant others. Whites commit more sex-related crimes, gang related crimes, and are more likely to kill at their places of employment.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Climate Change Poses A National Security Danger

President Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement last week in New London, Connecticut. In his commencement speech, Obama warned graduates climate change is one of the largest threats they will have to face as they defend the United States and our nation's interests abroad.

For the first time since record keeping began, carbon dioxide levels set a new record high water mark in surpassing 400 parts per million (ppm) at 40 monitoring sites around the globe, according to newly published data for March 2015.

CO2 emissions, the main green house gas driver of global warming and have risen more than 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, warming the planet 1.6°F over that period. Since record-keeping began in 1880, average global temperatures have risen 1.4o Fahrenheit.

The last time concentrations of Earth's main greenhouse gas level was at 400 PPM, during the Pliocene era, from 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, the planet was about 3.6o to 5.4o Fahrenheit warmer. The Arctic was 14°F warmer allowing horses and camels to graze in lush savannas that grew at those ancient high latitudes. Mid-Pliocine sea levels were about 82 feet higher than today — levels that today would inundate major cities around the world — because Arctic and West Antarctic ice sheets did not exist to hold that from the ocean!

2014 was the 38th consecutive year with temperatures above the average for the entire 20th century. Fourteen of the past 15 years rank among the 15 warmest of the past 136 years – since record-keeping began. Moreover, nine out of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, with 2014 being Earth’s warmest year on record.

A recent survey of peer reviewed articles on climate change showed that only 2 out of 10855 articles believe that humans aren't causing global warming. A mere two articles rejected anthropogenic global warming. For the next 25 to 30 years, climate scientists say we're in for a 1.8o F warmer climate, there's no way out. That amount of change is inevitable, set by today’s atmospheric conditions.

If we make substantial effort starting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature increase can be kept to 2o C or 3.6o F in the second half of this century. But if nothing is done to greenhouse gas emissions, the world will face 4o C, or 7.2o F, increase. (see: A Climate Changed Earth)

A Climate Changed Earth

For the first time since record keeping began, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, the main green house gas driver of global warming, set a new record high water mark, surpassing 400 parts per million (ppm) at 40 monitoring sites around the globe, according to newly published data for March 2015.

Latest analysis shows that warming feedback mechanisms, which hasten the effects and pace of global warming, are already speeding the melt of glaciers worldwide and the polar ice caps.

An atmospheric carbon level of 450 ppm has generally been associated with an average global temperature rise of 2o C or 3.6o F. If the U.S. and nations of the earth do nothing to curtail CO2 emissions, that carbon level will be hit within about 20 years.

But under the expected “business as usual” scenario — nations continue to burn fossil fuels as they do now, doing little to curtail fossil fuel use — scientists expect CO2 levels to reach 560 ppm by about 2060. That level of atmospheric CO2 has generally been associated with an average global temperature rise of between 2o C and 4.5o C  (3.6o-8.1oF) higher than pre-industrial times, with a best estimate of about 3o C (5.4o F) in temperature rise.

With ice masses worldwide already showing significant melting at 400 ppm, an ice free earth is already probable — it's only a matter of time, unless worldwide CO2 emission levels are reduced. CO2 levels of 450 ppm or 560 ppm will only accelerate the ice melt.

Atmospheric CO2 levels have risen more than 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, warming the planet 1.6°F over that period. Since record-keeping began in 1880, average global temperatures have risen 1.4oF.

An increase of 10 parts per million might have needed 1,000 years or more to come to pass during ancient climate change events. Now the planet is poised to reach the 1,000 ppm level in only 100 years, if CO2 emissions trajectories remain at their present level.

The Guardian newspaper reports on a Royal Dutch Shell "New Lens Scenarios" internal planning document defining a business strategy for a potentially catastrophic global temperature rise of 4o C.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Need To Sacrifice Liberty For Security

New Jersey Governor and likely 2016 Presidential candidate Chris Christie (R-NJ) said on Monday, he would increased spending to expand the government's “intelligence capabilities” to spy on American citizens. Christie’s comments are in response to the ongoing debate occurring in the Congress, as provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which was passed in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are set to expire at the end of this month.

In a common refrain with most Republican lawmakers, Christie harkened back to that September 2001 attack, stating that, “Everyone will remember 9/11, but have forgotten what 9/11 felt like.” He also stated that “We acted differently, we conducted our lives differently. We were reticent. We were scared to do things as a people. That’s a stealing of our liberty too.”

Christie went on to critique the arguments of opponents of the domestic spying programs saying, “The founders made sure that the first obligation of the American government was to protect the lives of the American people.” Christie concluded his argument by employing a one-liner, explaining that “You can’t enjoy your civil liberties if you’re in a coffin.”

If Governor Christie and the Republican Party as a whole wish to understand the one of the most sacred tenets upon which the United States is founded, he needs only look to two of the most commonly repeated quotes by Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin.

In a 1775 speech to the Virginia Convention, Henry stated his most famous quote during a debate concerning whether to send Virginian troops for the Revolutionary War. His exclamation to “Give me liberty, or give me death!” was also featured on the Culpepper Minutemen Flag of 1775, in addition to the iconic “Don’t Tread on Me.”

The quote by Franklin that, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” was first written for the Pennsylvania Assembly in November 1755 in its Reply to the Governor. Franklin used derivations of the quote throughout his life, including a variant in his famous Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1738.

As Henry's and Franklin's statements make clear, defense should not ever trump our essential liberties, not the least of which are those explained in the Fourth Amendment. If we are to forfeit liberty in the face of fear, that liberty is nearly worthless. When the colonists chose to fight a revolutionary war against the British Crown, they clearly chose liberty over security.

But the attacks of September 11, 2001, did not happen for lack of having a Patriot Act that authorized the government to capture and record every phone call made and received by every American, and record the websites visited and emails sent and received by every American. The attacks of September 11, 2001, happened for lack of leadership in President G.W. Bush's White House.

As chronicled by former acting CIA director Mike Morell in his new book, The Great War Of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism, and former counter terrorism chief Richard Clarke in his book, Against All Enemies, several government security agency experts repeatedly warned President Bush and Bush Administration officials of a pending attack by Al-Qaeda -- from the weeks before Bush took the oath of office until the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. More here...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented Iraq WMD Intelligence

Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's Iraq war fumble freshly lays bare the truth that President George W. Bush intentionally misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq's supposed WMD program and Saddam's alleged links to Al Qaeda to talk the nation into a war of his choice.

Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball on Tuesday night, former acting CIA director Mike Morell, author of a new book, The Great War Of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism, made clear the Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq's supposed WMD program and Saddam's alleged links to Al Qaeda.

Host Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: "We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Here's the conversation that followed:


GOP Can't Be Trusted To Keep America Secure

Jeb Bush and other Republican presidential contenders have a new and bogus spin on how the Iraq War began. They say Jeb's brother, Pres. G.W. Bush was misled into war by faulty intelligence. That's Not What Happened!

But here's the truth Jeb and the Republicans are evading: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, & Co. were not misled by lousy intelligence; they intentionally cherry-picked lousy intelligence to mislead the public into war.

Throughout the run-up to the war, Bush, Cheney, and their lieutenants repeatedly stated assertions about Iraq to justify war that were not supported by the professional the intelligence analysts.

An article published at New York Magazine and another published at Mother Jones are excellent refreshers on the history of the Bush administration trumping up reasons for America to invade Iraq, even though U.S. intelligence agency professionals could not find any factually convincing evidence Saddam Hussein had any connection to the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qa‘ida attack.

But that was not the first instance of a disastrous outcome from Bush administration officials dismissing intelligence agency reports. According to The Great War Of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism, a new book by former acting CIA director Mike Morell, Vice President Dick Cheney thought al Qaeda was bluffing on its plan plan to fly commercial aircraft into high value buildings:

Republicans Troubled By Clinton Donors See No Conflict With Own Dark Money

Paul Blumenthal reports for HuffPo.

For four months, the Republican Party and its many presidential hopefuls have laid into likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over donations to a family foundation. That these attacks contradict the GOP's broader stand on campaign finance -- and call into question their own weighty burden of donor conflicts -- hasn't troubled them at all.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called contributions to the nonprofit Clinton Foundation “thinly veiled bribes.” The nation can’t afford the “drama” represented by those donations, according to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina asked Clinton to explain why contributions to the foundation “don’t represent a conflict of interest.” And the Republican National Committee has made the donations a central part of its campaign against Clinton.

Republicans, including those now running for president, defend dark money groups as a means to protect what they argue is the First Amendment right of donors to engage in political activity without "retaliation." Perhaps, that retaliation would come in the form of stories informing the public about how those donors are seeking to influence public policy.

Full story at HuffPo.

Imagine There's No More Religion

Three-quarters of Millennialls agree that present-day Christianity has “good values and principles,” but strong majorities also agree that modern-day Christianity is “hypocritical” (58%) and “judgmental” (62%). (PRRI)

Last week, Pew Research released a new survey finding a dramatic decline of Americans who affiliate with a church. That increase correlated strongly with the decrease in the number of Catholics, mainline Protestants, and evangelical Protestants over the past seven years.

Although a majority of Americans still identify as Christian, the decline in their number is widespread, occurring among the young and the old, black and white, well educated and not so well educated, in all regions of the country. In the poll, people were asked if they “identify” as Christian.

There are, according to Pew, now more Americans unaffiliated with religion than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. If the “nones” were a religious denomination, they would be the second largest in America, just after evangelical Christians. If the trend of the last seven years continues, the “nones” will become America's largest religious denomination by mid-century.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Senator Elizabeth Warren At California Democratic Convention

Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses the General Assembly at the 2015 California Democratic Convention on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Introduction from Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.
 

Burning Our Bridges - Republicans Oppose Public Infrastructure

Infrastructure is America’s backbone!  It’s the water supply to your home and the system of water reservoirs,it's the power lines feeding electricity to your home from the electrical generation grid, it's the street in front of your home connecting you with the roads and bridges of your community and the interstate highway system; It's the nation's seaports, airports, communication systems, power plants, schools, water and sewage systems, energy pipelines, railways, National Parks and lands, and more.

Infrastructure, in a word, defines all the public systems and services that allows our American society and economy to function.

It is nearly impossible to keep track of the myriad ways America is falling behind the rest of the industrialized world due to Republican opposition to progress and refusal to invest even a penny in the nation's infrastructure or its people. It is not, as Republicans claim, that America is broke; not when Republicans always find money to give the rich and corporations tax cuts, or devote well over half of the nation’s annual spending for defense despite the nation is not at war. Just last month, House Republicans, en masse, voted for another $269 billion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 0.2% Americans by repealing the estate tax.

Snapchat To Be Huge In 2016 Election

As he gears up for a presidential run, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley held a conference call with donors and supporters Thursday night, informing them that he would make some kind of announcement on May 30.

O’Malley also had a message — and an exclusive photo — for his followers on Snapchat. “Stay tuned for May 30th…” he said, referring to the date when he’ll announce whether or not he’ll challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

O’Malley, who is widely expected to run, is one of a handful of politicians experimenting with Snapchat, a messaging app that has exploded in popularity over the past year. O’Malley’s team has found it useful — along with the streaming app Periscope — to engage a broad audience. They’ll post candid photos and videos of O’Malley’s impromptu guitar-playing on the stump, for example.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination last month, has been using the service for almost a year and a half in an attempt to garner support from young people — and young followers. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin), of “Real World” fame, is spearheading Snapchat’s use in the House of Representatives.

Other campaigns said tentative plans with Snapchat are in the works, or that they’re looking to the potential of experimenting with the service.

Combine that with the news that Snapchat has hired Peter Hamby, a well-respected CNN political reporter, to head its new news division. It’s a good bet that Snapchat stands to be the breakout app of the 2016 campaign, much in the same way other services like Twitter and YouTube have blossomed in the recent past.

Full Article: Why Snapchat Is Going To Be Huge In The 2016 Election | Fusion.

From Verified Voting

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The GOP Is Dying Out, Literally


There’s been much written about how Millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Increasing numbers of traditional core GOP voters will no longer turn out to vote straight Republican, because they're are dying of old age.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections.

To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer younger first-time voters. Millennials, born 1981 to 1997, now are larger in numbers than baby boomers, born 1946 to 1964. How they vote makes the big difference.

In 2012, there were about 13 million young citizens in the 15-to-17 year-old demo group who will be eligible to vote in 2016. The previous few presidential election cycles indicate that about 45-48 percent of these new young potential voters will actually vote, yielding about 6 million new voters in total.

Exit polling in the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections indicate that youngest age bracket split about 65 percent to 35 percent in favor of the Democratic Party candidate in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the net among voter deaths Democrats and Republicans puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016. Story published at Politico.

"The demographics race we're losing badly," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Washington Post. "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."  "A GOP coalition that relies almost entirely on whites could squeeze out one more narrow victory in November," Brownstein writes. "But if Republicans can't find more effective ways to bridge the priorities of their conservative core and the diversifying Next America, that weight will grow more daunting every year."

Life, Politics and the Millennial Generation

The 75.3 million strong “Millennial” generation surpassed the outsized 74.9 million Baby Boom generation this spring as the nation’s largest living generation.

More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), and this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Around 40 percent of Millennials are of a minority or racially-mixed background.

Gen Xers are projected to remain the “middle child” of generations – caught between two larger generations of the Millennials and the Boomers. The Greatest and Silent generations, while smaller and now shirking, remain a powerful voting block because more than 70 percent of these groups vote in nearly every election.

Millennials are the first generation who have never known life without the internet. Growing up on the Internet, Millennials are used to going out and getting whatever they want. In many organizations, membership has dropped, prompting some to suggest that this generation simply aren’t ‘joiners.’ But in this same period volunteer activities have risen. What has become clear is that Millennials are more motivated by mission than any previous generation. While they will not show loyalty to an organization like previous generations did, they will show loyalty to a cause. Membership organizations must therefore articulate a clear and compelling cause, mission and purpose.”

As voters, Millennials are less engaged in the political process and hold contradictory or conflicting attitudes on many political issues, according to research by Reason-Rupe, Journalist's Resource, and PEW.
Pew Research Center study.
Millennials: 18 - 34 yrs old (born 1980-97)
Generation X: 35 - 50 yrs old (born 1965-80)
Baby Boomers: 51 - 69 yrs old (born 1946-64)
Silent Generation: 70 - 87 yrs old (born 1928-45)
Greatest Generation: 88+ yrs old (born before 1928)

Millennials have little time for "traditional institutions” of any stripe, be they political, cultural, religious, or mainstream media. They are relatively unattached to organized politics or religion, linked by social media, burdened by college debt, distrustful of old institutions, in no rush to marry — and thet're optimistic about the future. They shun politics and both political parties, with half of Millennials self-identifying as political independents.

Republicans are struggling with Millennials more because of their diversity, rather than over ideology. Democrats find Millennials indifferent because, except for Pres. Obama's two campaigns and "identity subgroup issues," Democrats have been indifferent to Millennials as an entire generational voting block.

About half of the Millennial population in 2012 turned out to vote in the presidential general elections, voting for Obama nationally, 67 percent to Romney's 30 percent, according to an analysis by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. But less than a quarter of Millennials turn out to vote in mid-term elections, with even fewer voting in local city and school board elections.

Largely, Millennials are not engaged in the political process because the political parties and their candidates do not  make an effort to engage with them and help them understand how the political process relates to their life.

Collin County Young Democrats Vice President Kevin Numerick writes on his blog:
The other day I was with some friends and they were joking around about politics and one of them asked, Who cares about politics? I responded nonchalantly, people who care about life? Another friend said in return, “that’s the stupidest thing you have ever said,” while the one who asked the original question stated, “That’s not true because I care about life, but not politics.”

Unfortunately, I was cut off before I could explain my opinion further. But, I realize, maybe people really do think that politics = life = stupid, so I wanted to explain myself a little further for the world to see. Hopefully to understand how it connects to them too. One can hope, right?

Okay, so this seems pretty logical to me, but politics puts in play who makes the laws, and those that make the laws are supposed to represent the people. We all know that isn’t always the case, which is all the more reason to be involved!!!!

Read the rest of Kevin's article at his blog.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Support Collin County Young Democrats

Why Lunch When You Can Brunch?
Celebrate New Spring Blooms
with
Delicious Food, Sparkling Mimosas, and Progressive Conversation.

Saturday, May 30, 2015, 11:30 a.m.

Click Here for Tickets

$30 per person until May 15th and $35 thereafter
Limit of 25 attendees
(address will be sent to donors)

Collin County's Young Democrats represent the future of the Democratic Party. Join them for brunch, if your schedule allows.

If you can't make the brunch, support them with a donation on their Act Blue event page.

 Proceeds will be used towards a scholarship fund for youth interested in political careers and helping young people become more involved in politics.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Collin County Local Elections Brief

As is typical for municipal elections in Texas, turn out for May 9th city and school board elections was light. Only 8,539 voters cast ballots at polling locations across Collin County on Election Day, May 9th.

The lion's share of Collin County voters (64.2%) cast their ballots during the early voting period. Only 35.8% of the 23,875 total ballots cast in the county were cast on Election Day.  Only 5.1 percent of Collin County's 470k currently registered voters turned out to cast ballots in the various local elections across the county.

The Collin College place 7 board of trustees race goes to a county wide runoff election between Jim Orr and Collin Kennedy. Early voting will run the first week of June, with election day held on the second Saturday of June.

Plano's Equal Rights ordinance revision last December was a central controversy for the Plano city council and other races.  The Plano City Council updated Plano's equal rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination against people because of their military status, genetic information, sexual orientation or gender identity when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodations. The ordinance provides exemptions for schools, private clubs and religious, political and nonprofit organizations, except those that receive city grants. Public restrooms are excluded from the ordinance. Violations are a misdemeanor, subject to fines. The ordinance was originally passed more than 15 years ago.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Early Voting Turnout Numbers For Collin County

Early voting for the May 9 election across Collin County closed Tuesday with fewer people voting this year than in the last local election year. Only 15,336 (3.24%) of the county's almost 473,000 registered voters cast early ballots this year.

As expected, the last day of early voting had the heaviest turn out with 3,824 of voters across all of Collin County's local districts casting in-person ballots on Tuesday.  Daily early county wide vote counts: M-1,309; T-1,139; W-1,335; TH-1,672; F-1,751; S-1,739; M-2,570; and T-3,824.  (see table at bottom for city by city breakout numbers.)

The average age of early voters across Collin County is 57 yrs, but in some districts the average voter age tops 60 years.  Sixty percent of early Collin Co voters have a strong Republican Party primary affiliation history, eighteen percent have a Democratic Party primary affiliation history, and the remaining voters, average age 47 yrs, have no party affiliation history.

Plano ISD, which includes 189,267 registered voters across northern portions of the cities of Dallas and Richardson and parts of the cities of Allen, Carrollton, Garland, Lucas, Murphy, Parker and Wylie, is the largest single local election district in Collin Co. and accounted for almost 44 percent of the total early ballots cast in the county, with 6,685 (3.5%) of PISD registered voters casting early ballots.  The Frisco, McKinney, Allen, and other independent school districts across Collin County are smaller bases of population and registered voters.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Texas Online Voter Registration Killed By Harris Co Republicans

As reported here last Sunday, Texas could have become the 27th state to allow online voter registration, if the House Elections Committee had passed HB 76, or a twin online registration bill HB 953, on to the House floor after the committee heard testimony on the bills on April 27th.  HB 76, originally submitted by Elections Committee member Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), has bipartisan support with a majority of House Representatives from both parties signing on as co-sponsors.

Rep. Israel said Friday afternoon, May 1st, both bills are dead in the Elections Committee. House Elections Committee Chair, Jodie Laubenburg (HD 89 - Plano), will allow the bills to die, pending in her committee, until this legislative session adjourns. The committee will not pass either bill on to the House floor for consideration.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

21st-Century Electioneering

It’s fair to say that Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential bid marked a watershed moment for political campaigners. This was a campaign covered in Silicon Valley’s fingerprints, characterized as it was by its widespread use of technology to capture and record data to deliver targeted messages to voters.

As one former Obama campaign manager said: “We stopped thinking in terms of ‘soccer moms’ and started thinking instead about ‘Mary Smith at 37 Pivot Street.’”

What was once done with pen and paper is now being done in real time and at a staggering pace, providing politicians and their election teams with a far richer picture of voters than previously possible.

Next month will see the UK head to the polls for its first general election since 2010, which has been described as one of the most unpredictable in living memory. Throughout Westminster, political parties are putting their faith in technology to gain an edge over their rivals, defend vulnerable seats and better connect with the electorate. Both Labour candidate Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron have hired former Obama advisers to head up their campaign teams, which look to replicate the success of Democrats in securing key votes.

These are techniques that have been the mainstay of the private sector for more than a decade, whether through Tesco’s original Clubcard system or Amazon’s “People who bought…” tracker. Retailers have ploughed billions into profiling technology that analyzes shopping habits to work out exactly who their shoppers are and how they behave. Why? Because it pays for them to know if you’re a “wholesome foodie,” “time-poor, food rich professional” or “Netflix loving hipster.”

Today’s political parties are aping commercial practices, such as these to splice and dice their electorate by their individual priorities, interests and issues. Politicians want to know who votes and what motivates them, what they value and how they feel about key issues, adapting their campaign strategies accordingly.

Information gleaned from private polling, membership logs and door-to-door canvassing is fed back to party headquarters, combined with location and electoral register information to draw up a map of supporters, opponents and floating voters.

Full Article: Digital Democracy Or 21st-Century Electioneering | TechCrunch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Texas' Voter Photo I.D. Law On Appeal

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans today heard oral arguments for the State of Texas' appeal of U.S. Southern District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos' decision to block Texas' photo I.D. law.

After a two-week trial on the constitutionality of Texas' photo I.D. law in September 2014, Judge Ramos struck down Texas' voter photo I.D. law with a 147-page finding issued on October 9, 2014. Judge Ramos found the law had been adopted “with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” created “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and amounted to a poll tax. The state of Texas petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court to stay Judge Ramos' order, pending appeal, which proceeded today.The stay was granted and the law remains in effect, pending the Fifth Circuit's decision on the appeal.

The 2011 SB14 law reduced the types of identification documents voters can show to vote from fourteen down to one of just seven types of photo identification documents. Four are available from the Texas Department of Public Safety — driver’s licenses, personal IDs, concealed-handgun permits, and election identification certificates. Federally issued passports, citizenship certificates and military IDs also are acceptable.

The Texas photo voter I.D. lawsuit is unique among legal challenges to similar voter I.D. laws adopted by other states, because Federal District Judge Ramos found evidence of intentional racial discrimination by Texas Republican legislators in drafting the SB14 voter I.D. legislation in 2011.

The full Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is one of the most conservative in the nation. The three-judge panel who will rule on the appeal is composed of: Chief Judge Carl Stewart, appointed by President Bill Clinton; Judge Catharina Haynes, appointed by President George W. Bush; and Judge Nannette Brown, appointed by President Barack Obama.

Two lawyers representing Plaintiffs’ in the case today gave oral arguments to the three-judge panel in support of Judge Ramos' finding. Arguing for Judge Ramos' decision were Erin Flynn with the U.S. Justice Department, and Chad Dunn, representing the lead plaintiffs in the Texas case — U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth) and the League of United Latin American Citizens. Scott Keller of the Texas Solicitor General's Office argued against Judge Ramos' finding, defending Texas' voter I.D. law.



MP3 audio of today's court arguments and questioning.
Keller and the Plaintiffs’ lawyers were allowed 20 minutes to present oral arguments for their sides of case. The three-judge panel followed up by questioning the lawyers on their positions.

It’s Not A Tea Party

Weekly Sift:

The South is a place, but the Confederacy is a worldview. To this day, that worldview is strongest in the South, but it can be found all over the country.

The Boston Tea Party protest was aimed at a Parliament where the colonists had no representation, and at an appointed governor who did not have to answer to the people he ruled.

Today’s Tea Party faces a completely different problem: how a shrinking conservative minority can keep change at bay in spite of the democratic processes defined in the Constitution. That’s why they need guns. That’s why they need to keep the wrong people from voting in their full numbers.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute PBS documentary about how thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality in the post Civil War years through the mid-1940s.

Based on the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name spans eight decades, from 1865 to 1945, revealing the interlocking forces in both the South and the North that enabled this “neoslavery” to begin and persist. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters.

The documentary premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and had its national broadcast on PBS on Feb. 13, 2012.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Online Voter Registration For Texans?

Texas could become the 27th state to allow online voter registration, if two bills on the House Elections Committee's schedule for this week, HB 76 and HB 953, receive favorable consideration.

These bills propose allowing voters who have an unexpired Texas driver's license or personal identification card to register online and have that application automatically authenticated rather than having to hand print a paper registration application form and wait on local election officials to data-enter the information into their systems and verify it.

Those Texans who do not have a Texas driver's license or personal identification card would still have to mail in the old paper registration form.

Call, email, or write your State House Representative and Senator and say you want them to vote for online voter registration!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Citizen Journalism

The process of gathering and reporting news has changed significantly due to the advent of the Web, which has enabled the increasing involvement of citizens in news production. This trend has been given many names, including Citizen Journalism, participatory journalism, and crowd-sourced journalism.

Citizen Journalism describes the different kinds of journalism people can do on their own, without media companies or professional salaried journalists necessarily involved.

This can be as simple as regularly commenting on news story in the Dallas Morning News that adds information or perspective the reporter left out, writing letters to the editor or as demanding as self-publishing a news and editorial blog on the Internet.

Citizen journalists are members of the public who play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, fact checking and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.

Private School Vouchers Rob Public Schools

After several past legislative session school voucher defeats, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s public school privatization crusade passed the Senate hurtle this week with a 18-12 vote on Senate Bill 4, along mostly partisan lines after the third reading of the bill. The bill now goes to the Texas House for consideration,

Patrick has championed school voucher legislation since 2007, his first term in the Texas Senate.

Only one Democrat voted for SB4, Sen. Eddie Lucio (R-Brownsville), while two Republicans voted against it, Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) and Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville).

Friday, April 24, 2015

Plano Independent School District Voting Starts April 27th

A strong public school system is not only good for our children, it also promotes business growth and keeps our residential property values strong. Early Voting for the May 9, 2015 election starts on Monday, April 27th.

Geographical school districts in Texas are completely independent from city or county jurisdiction, and are governed by a board of trustees.  Texas school district boundaries are not always aligned with county or city boundaries; a district can occupy several counties and cities, while a single city (especially larger ones such as Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio) may be split between several districts. Almost all Texas school districts use the title "Independent School District", or ISD. 

Plano's public school system is among the largest in Texas and is nationally rated as one of the best school systems in the nation. The quality of Plano schools is among the major factors convincing companies like Toyota to locate their national corporate headquarters to Plano.

City and School Board Elections In Collin Co

Early Voting for the May 9, 2015 election starts on Monday, April 27th.  Information about candidates can be found in the League of Women Voters of Collin County Voter's Guide www.lwvcollin.org/:
Early Voting Dates.
  • April 27-29: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • April 30: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • May 1-2: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • May 4-5: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Election Day May 9, 2015 7:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m.

Click here to review Collin County Elections sample ballots and polling place information

Click here to review voter Registration and I.D. Requirements

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Your Campaign's Digital Media Strategy - Getting Started

If you are thinking about running for election in 2016, it's time for you to map out your digital campaign strategy.  A full mobile friendly campaign website is a must have, plus, Facebook and Twitter are essential social media sites (SMS) to drive your message across, sign up supporters, gather online donations, recruit volunteers and more. How do you get a beautiful new site that meets your needs, on time and on budget? It’s challenging, even for well funded campaigns.

Before you get started, there are pitfalls to watch out for. Let’s start with what the three deadly sins of campaign websites:

Campaigns and Elections

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Millennial Generation Electorate

Journalist's Resource

Political strategists and candidates will be well-served to keep their eyes on an important demographic shift while thinking about how to connect with Millennial generation voters.

In 2015, the Millennial generation — those ages 18 to 34, and born between 1981 and 1997 — is set to become larger than the Baby Boom generation. (This will be true, even as the country’s median age continues to rise.)

Over the next three decades or so, the cohort of Baby Boomers will decline in size steadily, and by mid-century only about 1 in 5 will be living, as the Pew Research Center points out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Voting Rights, By The Numbers

The Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in June 2013 say that section of the VRA is outdated. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion saying, "discrimination against minority voters may have been pervasive in the 1960s when [section 4 of] the law was passed, but nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.”

Under Justice Roberts reasoning, the law was still punishing states and local governments covered under section 4 for discriminatory practices the majority of Justices argued ended years ago. Section 4 of the VRA specified all or parts of 16 states and local jurisdictions, with long histories of overt racial discrimination in voting, mostly in the South, that were required to get approval from the federal government for any proposed change to their voting laws, as specified under VRA section 5.

The section 5 process, known as preclearance, stopped hundreds of discriminatory new laws from taking effect, and deterred lawmakers from introducing countless more. Without section 4, the section 5 is useless. Chief Justice Roberts, writing the 5-4 majority opinion, invalidated section 4 arguing, “today’s statistics tell an entirely different story.” In fact, today’s statistics tell a story little changed from the 1960s.

A comprehensive new study by a historian of the Voting Rights Act provides a fresh trove of empirical evidence that refutes Chief Justice Roberts' assertion. The study by J. Morgan Kousser, a professor of history and social science at the California Institute of Technology, examines more than 4,100 voting-rights cases, Justice Department inquiries, settlements and changes to laws in response to the threat of lawsuits around the country where the final result favored minority voters.

It found that from 1957 until 2013, more than 90 percent of these legal “events” occurred in jurisdictions that were required to preclear their voting changes. The study also provides evidence that the number of successful voting-rights suits has gone down in recent years, not because there is less discrimination, but because several Supreme Court decisions have made them harder to win.

Full Article: Voting Rights, by the Numbers – NYTimes.com.

Texas Hand Gun Open Carry Law

On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives voted 96-35 in favor of House Bill 910, which extends the rights of citizens who have a concealed handgun license to allow them to openly carry a holstered handgun. A similar bill passed the Texas Senate last month; the two versions must be reconciled before heading to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for signing.

Abbot is likely to give the measure his approval. During a February press conference, he said, “I will sign whatever legislation reaches my desk that expands Second Amendment rights in Texas,”according to The Texas Tribune.

Currently, Texans who want to carry a handgun in public must have a concealed handgun license and are required to keep the gun hidden. State law allows residents 21 and older, as well as those on active military duty, to obtain a license after undergoing a background check, taking classes and passing written and hands-on tests.

Some form of open carry of handguns is allowed in 44 other states, though some require permits or licenses, and others restrict the times or places when open carry is allowed. If Texas legalizes open carry, only California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. will still have outright bans.

Texas already allows people to purchase and openly carry rifles and shotguns without permits, which has prompted gun-rights groups to carry assault weapons into stores and outside the Texas Capitol in order to bring attention to what they see as an arbitrary legal distinction.

The national median of citizens who own a gun is about 40 percent, which is higher than the 35.9 percent percent of Texans citizens who own a gun. Texas voters’ opinions are divided on open carry, with a minority in favor.

A joint University of Texas-Texas Tribune poll released in February showed that only 32 percent of Texans support open carry, with another 45 percent in favor of allowing those with licenses to carry a concealed handgun, but not openly.