Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Candidate Forum for DPCC Chairperson Election

Democratic Campaign Development Coalition


Candidate Forum for

Democratic Party of Collin Co.

Chairperson Election

Tuesday July 14, 2009

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Collin Co. Community College

Central Park Campus

Pike Hall

2200 W. University Drive
McKinney, TX 75070 (map)

On July 22, 2009 the Democratic Party of Collin County Executive Committee will elect a new chairperson. In light of the July 22nd special election, the DCDC is inviting all potential candidates and filed candidates to speak at our general meeting to hear their ideas for moving the Party forward. While the election for County Chair is done by the Executive Committee, this meeting is open to all Democrats. The DCDC is dedicated to developing Democratic leaders in local, State and Federal government, and to electing Democrats to public office.

For more information on the DCDC, please contact Linda Magid at developdemocrats@me.com.

Democratic Party of Collin County Chair Candidates Stepping Forward

Today, June 30th, Daniel Dodd ends his tenure as Democratic Party of Collin County (DPCC) Chair due to health reasons.

So far, three people have announce their candidacy for the Democratic Party of Collin County Chair position:
  • Shawn Stevens, who served as Vice Chair of the DPCC for five years, from 2003 until mid-November 2008,
  • Victor Manuel, who was the Democratic Candidate for Collin County Commissioner, Precinct 3, in 2008, and
  • Marlene Byndon, who was appointed as the replacement Vice Chair by Chairman Dodd and confirmed by the Executive Committee in February 2009.
More on these three candidates coming soon...
The County Party Chair is a critically important leadership position that is the focal point for local party building and organizing efforts. More importantly, the County Party Chairperson has the responsibility to organize, fund and execute the party's local primary election and convention activities every two years.

In Texas the Democratic party's county executive committee consists of one precinct chairperson from each of the county's designated precinct subdivisions, plus, a county party chairperson elected by voters to two year terms of office in even year Democratic Party primary elections.

The county executive committee and county chairperson determine policy in such matters as the conduct and financing of the Democratic Party's primary election and officially canvassing election results. In Texas the county party's primary election responsibilities include staffing each primary election day polling place with at least one Election Judge, one Alternate Judge and one Clerk, working with the county elections office to request adequate voting equipment for each Democratic Primary polling place, conducting the post election day Democratic Precinct Conventions at every polling place, conducting the Democratic County Convention and sending a county delegation to the state Democratic Party Convention.
Remember the 2008 primary season that was marked by record-shattering turnout at the polling places, the precinct conventions on election night and the county convention?

During the 2008 Democratic Primary more people voted in the Democratic Primary in Collin County than voted for John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election. More than 20,000 people attended the Democratic Party's 2008 Precinct Conventions all across Collin County on primary election night and approximately 4,000 people attended the Democratic Party's 2008 County Convention. These are all historic record turnouts for the Democratic Party in Collin County and the total number of voters registered since the 2008 primary election has grown by approximately 60,000.

The 2010 primary election turnout numbers will likely not be near the record levels of 2008. Yet, proper organization and funding for the 2010 primary in Collin County will be a critical priority for the new party chairperson and executive committee between now and March 2010.
A quorum of the DPCC Executive Committee, comprised of county precinct chairs, will elect a new chairperson to serve out the remainder of Mr. Dodd's two year term of office, until March 2010, in a special election meeting on July 22, 2009.

Dr. Murray Leaf, Secretary of the DPCC, will gavel the special election meeting to order and then hand the gavel over to a temporary chairperson who will run the remainder of special election meeting. Dr. Leaf has designated Mr. Robert Miller to serve as the temporary special election meeting chairperson.

There is no requirement for candidates to make advance notice of their candidacy for county party chair, but three candidates have, so far, announce their intention to stand for election. Nominations for party chair must be given and seconded from the floor during the meeting. One to three nominating and seconding speeches for each candidate and candidate acceptance speeches are standard procedure for these special election meetings.

Party rules preclude secret ballots for executive committee special election voting, but the rules do provide for signed written ballots. The rules also allow for voice vote, standing division of the house or role call voting, at the discretion of the meeting chairperson.

According to the Article III, Section E, Subsection 5, Paragraphs (a) and (b) of the Texas Democratic Rule Book, the election process is as follows:
5. Vacancies.

(a) When a vacancy occurs in the office of County Chair, the outgoing County Chair or the Secretary of the County Executive Committee may call a meeting to fill the vacancy at any time after it occurs. Upon the written request of any Committee member, however, the Secretary shall call one for a date not more than 20 days after receiving the request, giving each [Executive Committee] member notice of the time, place, and purpose. Should a Committee Secretary fail to act after being requested in writing to do so, the State Chair shall call the meeting in like manner. The officer calling the meeting shall designate a Temporary Chair to preside until the new Permanent Chair is elected. (Texas Election Code §171.025)

(b) Any vacancy on the Committee [including Party Chair] shall be filled by majority vote of the County Executive Committee at a meeting at which a majority of the membership shall constitute a quorum. (Texas Election Code §171.024) Written notice of the replacement member’s name and address shall be promptly delivered to the State Chair... (Texas Election Code §171.024)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hazardous To Be A Democrat In Some Republican Neighborhoods

Sheriff's Deputies Douse Democratic Fundraiser House Party Guests with pepper spray and threaten to use a taser gun.
Francine Busby, 58, is a Democrat running in 2010 for the 50th Congressional District seat in San Diego County, CA., which is a Republican strong hold. This is the House seat formerly held by Randy “Duke” Cunningham the Republican Congressman sent to prison for taking bribes.

Busby had sought the 50th Congressional District seat in 2006, but was defeated by Republican Brian Bilbray, 53 percent to 44 percent. Last Friday night Busby attended a fund raiser with about 30 supporters at the home of one of the supporters - who happens to be gay.

Near the end of the house party the San Diego County Sheriff's Department arrived with eight patrol cars and a helicopter on an alleged noise complaint. Neighbors said the neighborhood was quiet until the eight patrol cars and a helicopter arrived. The only disturbance was from a man on a next door property shouting “disparaging remarks” at the house party attendees about gay people.

The sheriff's deputy who first entered the home said he felt threatened by the large number of people and that is why he started dousing the guests with pepper spray with one hand while holding a taser gun in his other hand.

Read the full story

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan

NPR: Insurers Revoke Policies To
Avoid Paying High Costs
[3 min 57 sec]

According to a new report by congressional investigators, an insurance company practice of retroactively canceling health insurance is fairly common, and it saves insurers a lot of money.

A subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee recently held a hearing about the report's findings in an effort to bring a halt to this practice. But at the hearing, insurance executives told lawmakers they have no plans to stop rescinding policies of people who submit claims for high dollar medical care.

Former Cigna senior executive Wendell Potter, who has more than 20 years of experience working in public relations for insurance companies Cigna and Humana, said companies routinely drop seriously ill policyholders so they can meet "Wall Street's relentless profit expectations." "They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment," Potter said.

The act of retroactively canceling insurance is called rescission. Insurance companies are, by law, allowed to rescind policies for customers who found to have purposely lied or omitted information from their policy applications. But the subcommittee found some of the rescissions were for seriously ill people who had simply made mistakes on their applications. The process begins after a policyholder has been diagnosed with an expensive condition such as cancer. The insurer then reviews the health status information in the questionnaire, and if anything is missing, the policy may be rescinded.

The omission from the application may be deliberate, to hide a health condition that might have made the applicant ineligible for insurance. But sometimes there's an innocent explanation: The policyholder may not have known about a health condition, or may not have thought it was relevant.

According to Potter small businesses, in particular, have had trouble maintaining their employee health insurance coverage.

"All it takes is one illness or accident among employees at a small business to prompt an insurance company to hike the next year's premiums so high that the employer has to cut benefits, shop for another carrier, or stop offering coverage altogether," he said.

Potter also faulted insurance companies for being misleading both in advertising their policies to new customers and in communicating with existing policyholders.

More and more people, he said, are falling victim to "deceptive marketing practices" that encourage them to buy "what essentially is fake insurance," policies with high costs but surprisingly limited benefits.

Insurance companies continue to mislead consumers through "explanation of benefits" documents that note what payments the insurance company made and what's left for consumers to pay out of pocket, Potter said.

The documents, he said, are "notoriously incomprehensible."

"Insurers know that policyholders are so baffled by those notices they usually just ignore them or throw them away. And that's exactly the point," he said. "If they were more understandable, more consumers might realize that they are being ripped off."

The House Commerce subcommittee study found that three of the major U.S. insurance companies, WellPoint Inc., Assurant Health and United HealthGroup, canceled nearly 19,800 customer policies between 2003 and 2007. The committee found that the companies saved more than $300 million as a result of the rescissions. [ABC News: Retired Health Insurance Executive Blows the Whistle on His Former Industry] [NPR: Insurers Revoke Policies To Avoid Paying High Costs ]

Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, had this to say about health care in a newspaper interview in his home state of West Virginia: :
"To me, there is nothing that ultimately makes more difference to Americans than health care.

"People often talk about 45 million uninsured Americans, but rarely mention the 25 million Americans who are underinsured."

"At least 100 million Americans face major problems paying for health care today."

"We can't count on insurance companies. They are just maximizing their profits. They are sticking it to consumers."

"I am all for letting insurance companies compete. But I want them to compete in a system that offers real health-care insurance. I call it a public plan..."

"Back in 1993, all our Veterans Administration hospitals got together and agreed to buy prescription drugs as a group. The next week, the costs of those drugs went down by 50 percent.

"Today, the insurance industry runs this whole deal, spending $1.4 million every day to fight health-insurance reform. The government has a lot of power to lower prices"

"We have a moral choice. This is a classic case of the good guys versus the bad guys. I know it is not political for me to say that"

"But do you want to be non-partisan and get nothing? Or do you want to be partisan and end up with a good health- care plan? That is the choice."

NPR: Health Care Overhaul
Opponents Use Selective Stats
[3 min 57 sec]

Republicans, who unanimously oppose Pres. Obama's call for a public health insurance plan, frequently misquote a recent healthcare study prepared by the Lewin Group in their claim that 119 million people would "lose" their private insurance coverage. (The Lewin Group is owned by Ingenix, which is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.)

That "119 million" number does not represent the number of people that "lose" their private health insurance coverage, rather it is the number people that could happily switch from their private insurance to a public plan. The point of the study was to show that the number of people who would eventually join a government-sponsored public insurance plan would vary — dramatically — depending on how that plan is designed.
If the public plan is open to everyone and pays health care providers rates similar to those paid by the government-run Medicare program, which are lower than most private insurers pay, you'd have a lower premiums for the same (or better coverage) and no risk of coverage cancellation or "rescission" when diagnosed with a high dollar illness. Thus, through free (and fair) market pressures many people and small business owners will voluntarily switch to the public plan.
Unfortunately, it is looking less and less likely that blue dog Democrats will allow that good of a public health insurance option to advance, indeed, if they let any advance at all, even though 72% of all Americans want it.

NPR: Doctors Say Current System
Impedes Medical Care
[3 min 56 sec]

President Obama told the American Medical Association that the health care system costs too much, includes too few people and is unsustainable without major changes.

Dr. Nancy Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association, says the biggest problem is when patients don't have health insurance. "Every study that's been done has shown that people who lack health insurance don't go to the doctor for preventive care — they delay care," she says. Nielsen says doctors face other challenges as well, such as coordinating care when patients' insurance plans limit the choice of doctors and hospitals. Doctors often have to pick drugs off a list of covered pharmaceuticals.

For emergency room doctors, one of the big problems with the current health care system is the recession.

"We're seeing newly uninsured patients. We're seeing patients who as they get into greater financial distress are cutting corners and delaying the care that they need," says Arthur Kellerman, professor of medicine at Emory University. He works in the emergency department at Grady Hospital in Atlanta and sees patients who have delayed getting treatment for too long.

"By the time they come to us, they are in legitimate emergency condition with problems that are far more costly and sometimes impossible to treat. And that's heartbreaking," he says.

  • WSJ Opinion: Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan - Without the government as competition, the private sector has little incentive to improve. By Robert Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton
  • NYT Opinion: Not Enough Audacity - The big question here is whether health care is about to go the way of the stimulus bill. By Paul Krugman

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dan Dodd, Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Collin County Resigns

Daniel Dodd, Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Collin County, informed the party's Executive Committee during its meeting on June 24th that he will resign the chair position effective June 30, 2009.

Mr. Dodd has served as the county chair since the summer of 2007. Dodd was first elected to the chair position in 2007 by the county party's executive committee after the previous chairperson resigned mid-term. Mr. Dodd was reelected to a regular two year term of office by Democratic voters in the March 4, 2008 Democratic Primary Election in Collin County. Mr. Dodd was also the Democratic candidate in 2006 for the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas Congressional District 3.

Dodd was hospitalized on May 29, 2009 to treat a "deep venous thrombosis" (DVT) blood clot in his right leg and related pulmonary embolism. Dodd was released from the hospital after five, but DVT treatment general continues for some weeks or months. Dodd cited health issues and DVT treatment extending up to a year as the reason for his resignation.

A quorum of the Democratic Party of Collin County Executive Committee, comprised of county precinct chairs, will elect a new chairperson to serve out the remainder of Dodd's two year term of office at its regular July meeting on July 22, 2009.

The Democrats of Collin County thank Mr. Dodd for his service as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Collin County and his previous active duty service in the U.S. Air Force.

Perry Leads Hutchison and Kinky Leads Schieffer In Latest Texas Poll

Yesterday, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (right) announced her decision to not enter the 2010 gubernatorial Democratic primary election race.

Today, former Bush Administration Ambassador to Australia and Japan announced to a gathering in Fort Worth that he definitely is in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

Schieffer announcing his candidacy
today in Fort Worth
Schieffer, the younger brother of CBS-TV newsman Bob Schieffer, surfaced as an unexpected Democratic prospect for 2010 on Texas Independence Day (March 2nd) when he announced he was forming an "exploratory committee" for the 2010 Democratic primary gubernatorial race. (website)

Tom Schieffer, who is a former State Representative, former partner in the Texas Rangers, endorsed G.W. Bush for the offices of both Governor and President. Schieffer says he has always voted the Democratic ballot in Texas primary elections, supported Barack Obama for the 2008 primary and general election, and that he supported Democrat Chris Bell in the 2006 Governor's race.

On June 19th Schieffer attended the first annual dual county Fish Fry Social & Fund Raiser event organized by the Democratic Parties of Collin and Denton County. In remarks to the Democratic audience Schieffer suggested that he can attract not only Democrats, but Independents and even some disaffected moderate Republicans. (BOR extended interview with Tom Schieffer.)

Early in May Mark Thompson, 2008 Democratic candidate for Railroad Commissioner, announced he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible gubernatorial run. Thompson received 44.6 percent of the vote in 2008 when he ran against Republican incumbent Michael Williams for the Railroad Commission seat.

Humorist Kinky Friedman (left) has also formed an exploratory committee for possible gubernatorial run. Friedman received 12 percent of the vote in 2006 when he ran as an Independent in the four-way race for Governor against incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry, Democrat Chris Bell and Independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Gov. Rick Perry won the four-way 2006 election with 39 percent of the vote.

The Republican primary ballot position for governor is also getting a bit crowded. Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) and Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, pictured left, top the ballot position.

State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler pictured right) announced on May 25th that he will announce as a Republican candidate for governor the week of July 4. Berman, is to Perry's right on the political spectrum.

Other Republicans who have announced for the Republican primary for governor include Debra Medina, the Wharton County Republican Party Chair, and Larry Kilgore. (Medina photo left from the Examinor.com)

A poll just released by the non-partisan Texas Lyceum suggests that among Republicans, Gov. Rick Perry current leads U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison by 33 percent to 21 percent, though the spread between them falls within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 6.1 percentage points. Last fall polling numbers were reversed with Hutchison leading Perry by as much as 15 points.

The poll appears to suggest that Perry has a strong lead among core conservatives, while Hutchison has an edge among GOP moderates and liberals. The largest number of GOP voters at 45 percent are undecided.

When asked about the poll, Hutchison spokesman Hans Klingler told the The Austin American-Statesman, “To the extent this poll shows anything, it’s that two-thirds of Texans don’t want Rick Perry for yet another four years. His 39 percent support from (November) 2006 is deteriorating. When Kay Bailey Hutchison begins laying out her vision for the state later this summer, we’re confident that her substance will prevail over his rhetoric.”

When was asked to comment on the poll, Perry spokesman Mark Miner told the The Austin American-Statesman, “After months of criticisms from Washington and tearing down Texas, the senator’s numbers continue to drop. Gov. Perry will continue to talk about creating jobs, cutting taxes, protecting private property right and improving education.”

The Texas Lyceum poll also found that 81 percent of Democratic voters are undecided about the candidates who have announce thus far.

The Texas Lyceum Poll

Tom Schieffer Interview With The Houston Chronicle

Peggy Fikac and R.G. Ratcliffe sat down with Democrat Tom Schieffer to discuss a broad array of issues and politics as he prepared for his Wednesday June 24, 2009 formal announcement as a candidate for governor.

Houston Chronicle interview podcast where Schieffer explains his support for President Bush's war in Iraq and his indefinite detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
Houston Chronicle - Schieffer interview Part One

Houston Chronicle - Schieffer interview Part Two

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio Says No To Gubernatorial Run

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio said she won't enter the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Senator Van de Putte today authorized the release of a statement to explain her decision:
"Five months of speculation regarding the possibility of me running for Governor has, quite frankly, been surprising. It started with nothing more than me not immediately saying 'no,' unlike in past election cycles, when asked if I would consider such a run. . . I have, indeed, given it very serious thought. . . I have to reluctantly admit that it's not as much about me as it is about Republican failures.

. . .This is about Texas' stunning lack of current leadership. Large and growing numbers feel betrayed by the Republicans they voted into statewide office, and who can blame them? While Texas families remain concerned about genuine priority issues, Republicans led by Rick Perry continue to instead obsess about hyper-partisan issues, in order to grab more power for themselves.

Texans still pay the highest homeowners insurance premiums in the country. Texas still has the highest percentage in the country of those without access to health care. Texas still has the second highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation, and the highest rate of teens with a second pregnancy. And after years of Republican 'leadership,' not only has Rick Perry failed to address these challenges, but he and his minions have done everything they can to avoid addressing them in any meaningful way. Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and others in the Republican leadership have turned their backs on 25 million Texans, instead opting to curry favor with a handful of fringe Republican primary voters.

. . .we have all watched over the years as Perry, Hutchison, and other Republican politicians have launched their scorched earth 'say anything to win' vicious attacks against political opponents. To mask their utter lack of leadership, they'll do so again, and I decline to put my family through it. That I am a Latina would only serve to amplify their attacks.
Read the rest of Sen. Leticia Van de Putte's statement at the Houston Chronicle Texas Politics Blog

Friday, June 19, 2009

2010 Candidates Speak At Dual Collin And Denton County Event

Arguably, the two most Republican Counties in Texas may be more in play for Democratic statewide candidates in 2010 than at any time in the last quarter century. Realizing that opportunity, several Democratic candidates preparing to run for the Governor's office, the U.S. Senate and a U.S. Congressional seat in 2010 attended a dual Collin and Denton County event for Democrats in Collin Co. Friday evening.
While each of the candidates had a turn at the podium to make a few remarks, none dived deeply into any "big" political issue. Each speaker commented that they were pleased to see so many Democrats turn out for the event.

Two Democratic candidates running for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat - when, and if, she ever decides to resign her senate seat to run for governor - Houston Mayor Bill White (picture left) and former State Comptroller John Sharp (picture right) were among the candidates attending the dual county event.

In remarks to the audience Mayor White made the point that, "TX needs leadership that is more interested in seeing the state succeed, rather than scoring partisan points and constantly looking for wedge issues - leadership who is more interested in the educating Texas children than in seceding from the union."

John Sharp made the point that Democrats strive to guarantee equal opportunity for all. That America's historic success has come by providing all citizens, not just the privileged few, with an education that empowers every citizen to secure a better life for their families. Sharp said, "Republicans believe that the best way to help auto companies is to give the auto companies tax breaks; but that Democrats believe the best way to help auto companies is to make sure Americans have the education they need to obtain good jobs with the earning power to afford to buy autos from those companies."

KVRX 91.7FM Austin: Interview
with John Sharp from 02/02/09
Sharp also explained why it is important for the candidates competing for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat to have their campaigns ready to throw into high gear at a moments notice.
Sen. Hutchison has given every indication that she will, at some point, officially announce her candidacy for the governor's office. Unfortunately, the candidates lining up to run for her senate seat are in limbo because no one knows when she will vacate her senate seat, with a letter of resignation to Gov. Perry. In fact, Hutichison could decide to hold her resignation until after the November 2010 general election and resign only if she is elected to be the next governor of Texas.

If Senator Hutchison resigns her U.S. Senate seat before the term office expires for her seat in 2012, the scheduling of a special election to fill the senate seat will be governed by the Texas Election Code. Under different timing scenarios, depending on the exact date Senator Hutchison resigns, a special election to fill the vacant senate seat may be held within 90 days of Sen. Hutchison's resignation. The special election could be held on one of the 2009 or 2010 uniform election dates set by the Texas Election Code, or, alternatively, Governor Perry has the authority to call a special "emergency election" for any date he chooses.

Texas' special election procedure has no party primaries, but lists all candidates, regardless of party, on the same ballot. As of this date two Democrats and four Republicans have announced plans to run for Hutchison's vacated senate seat. If no candidate gets fifty percent of the vote in the special election, the top two finishers, regardless of party, participate a runoff election, generally within 20 to 45 days after the final canvass from the special election. Sharp explained that candidates who do not have their campaigns ready to throw into high gear the moment Hutchison announces her senate resignation has no chance to win the special election. (more details on special elections at the bottom of the this posting)
Former Ambassador to Australia and Japan under Pres. G. W. Bush's Administration, Tom Schieffer, was also among the candidates attending the dual county event. While chatting with folks at the event Ambassador Schieffer was heard to say he plans to officially declare his gubernatorial candidacy, for the March 2, 2010 Democratic primary election ballot, on Wednesday June 24th.

Tom Schieffer, brother of CBS newscaster Bob Schieffer and Fort Worth native, told the audience, "Texas is at a critical point right now and I worry that Texas is falling behind the rest of the world in an increasingly globalized economy and we have to be a part of it."

One of Schieffer's main "global competition" talking points was on the topic of education. Schieffer said, "will a kid in first grade in Texas be able to compete in 20 years with a kid who is now in first grade in South Korea? I'm afraid the answer to that question is no."

Schieffer also commented that some people in Texas say Texas public schools will never perform to higher standards because too many of "those" kids drag down the standard of education. "Yet, I visited an aircraft carrier while serving as ambassador to Japan, and saw "those" kids, aged just 19 or 20, operating the complex and technologically advanced aircraft carriers. If the military can figure out a way to educate 'those' kids, then TX can too," Schieffer said.

Schieffer also told the Denton and Collin county Democrats that, "Democrats have a rare opportunity next year to win the governor's office because the Texas Republican Party has moved too far right and a Perry-Hutchison Republican primary fight for governor will leave the winner bloodied and vulnerable." Schieffer added that a Democratic victory is only possible if the party nominates a centrist, as its gubernatorial candidate, not someone to the left of center. “I believe the Democratic Party can be successful in Texas, if it is a big tent party that can appeal to a broad coalition of people in Texas,” Schieffer said.

Schieffer's comments to the Collin and Denton County Democrats are reflected in the following podcasts from the Houston Chronicle:

Houston Chronicle interview podcast where Schieffer explains his support for President Bush's war in Iraq and his indefinite detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
Houston Chronicle - Schieffer interview Part One

Houston Chronicle - Schieffer interview Part Two

Read more about Tom Schieffer in the Houston Chronicle (June 20, 2009)

The fourth candidate to speak at the event was Neil L. Durrance, an attorney in Denton, former Chairman of the Denton County Democratic Party and now candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 26th Congressional District.

Durrance commented that Democratic candidates in Texas can win elections by attracting the so-call swing voters or independents voters. Durrance asked event attendees to go talk to a friend or neighbor and explain to them the real values held by Democrats. That Democrats believe government exists to promote and protect the common good for all citizens. (See Values)

In summation, the candidates focused, for the most part, on moral boosting comments to the dual county Democrats. Collectively, the candidates contrasted the "everyone for them self" value of Conservative Republicans verses the Democratic Party's believe that government should protect and promote the "common good" of all its citizens.
In 2000 presidential candidate George W. Bush understood that Republicans were seen as heartless, selfish, and unconcerned with the plight of the less fortunate. To overcome that negative view of Republicans and attract moderate swing voters candidate Bush gave the American people a vision of "compassionate conservatism." That vision of "compassionate governance" helped candidate Bush woo moderate swing voters and win the 2000 election, unfortunately, President Bush never actually governed by the principles of "compassionate conservatism."
The candidates speaking to Collin and Denton county Democrats Friday night suggested that Republican candidates have moved so far right, have so utterly abandoned the concept of "compassionate governance" articulated by candidate Bush in 2000 and so deride any mention of compassionate, empathetic, or common good governance as socialism, that moderate swing voters in Texas are increasingly turning away from Republican candidates. The candidates each said that moderate swing voters in Texas, including in Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties, can be convinced to vote for Democratic candidates.

Related Posts:
Texas Election Code and Special Elections:
If Sen. Hutchison does step down early, Republican Governor Rick Perry will appoint a temporary replacement to U.S. Senate until a special election can be scheduled. Unlike most other states, Texas only allows the Governor to make a temporary appointment to fill the Senate seat until he can order a special election on the next uniform election date after the office vacancy occurs, on the provision that uniform election date falls at least 36 days after the governor orders the special election. If Hutchison resigns by late September, so that Gov. Perry can order a special election on or before September 28, 2009, the special election will occur on the next uniform (odd numbered year) election date in 2009, November 3rd. If Hutchison resigns after September 28, 2009, but before April 2, 2010, Gov. Perry would order a special election for the spring 2010 uniform election date, May 8th. (While Texas election law does allow a special election day to occur on primary election day, which is March 2nd in 2010, certain odd year vs. even year resignation and election scheduling specifications in the law eliminates that possibility in 2010.) And, if Sen. Huchinson resigns after April 2, 2010 and before September 26, 2010, the special election will occur along with the general election on November 2, 2010. [Texas Election Code Sections 2.025, 3.003, 41.001, 41.007, 201.023, 201.051, 203.004, 203.011, 203.003, 204.003 and 204.005]

Alternatively, the vacancy could be filled by a special "emergency election" called by Governor Perry. Under Section 41.0011 of the Election Code, the Governor has authority to schedule an "emergency election" on a "non-uniform election date" to fill a vacated U.S. Senate seat. For example, if Sen. Huchinson resigns any time between September 28, 2009 and the last primary filing date, the Governor could call an emergency election for an earlier date, such as the March 2, 2010 primary date, rather than wait for the spring uniform election date of May 8, 2010. To call a special "emergency election" the Governor must declare that an emergency exists such that warrants the earlier voting date. The Governor has considerable discretion in deciding whether to call an emergency election, and in the last four years Gov. Perry has ordered at least two emergency elections: the emergency election of February 25, 2006 to fill a vacancy in House District 106, and the emergency election of January 17,2006 to fill a vacancy in House District 48.

Since Texas started selecting its U.S. Senators by popular election in 1916, there have been just four temporary senate appointments and special elections fill a vacancy. The temporary appointee has never won a subsequent special election - twice because the appointee didn't run. Of the two appointees that did run, Democrat William A. Blakley lost to Republican John Tower in 1961, and Democrat Robert Krueger lost to Republican K. B. Hutchison in 1993.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hundreds Of Bills Died Because Of The Battle Over Voter ID

KUT Austin podcast - 06/17/09
An interesting podcast with Evan Smith and Paul Burka of the Texas Monthly, Jason Embry of the Austin American Statesman and Ben Philpott of KUT Austin explore who they think ultimately caused the Voter ID mess. Hundreds of bills died in the 2009 81st session of the Texas legislature because of a battle over Voter ID legislation.

Did it start in Senate where Republican Tommy Williams of the Woodlands pushed the "Two-Thirds" procedural maneuver to get the Voter ID bill to the senate floor…or with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate?

The Texas Senate on Wednesday, 14 January 2009, voted 18-13, along party lines, to exempt voter identification legislation from the longstanding senate “Two-Thirds Rule." This rule requires that 21 senators must support a measure before it can be brought to the senate floor for a vote. Only one Republican, State Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), broke ranks to join 12 Democrats in the near party-line vote to oppose the change to the two-thirds rule. The other 18 Republicans voted to exempt any bill brought forward in the Texas Senate that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls before being allowed to vote.

Texas Republicans, who control the Texas legislative calendar, prioritized Picture ID "voter impersonation legislation" ahead of other critical legislation on both the Texas Senate and House legislative calendars in 2009.

Democrats opposed the legislation because of its potential to disenfranchise poor and elderly voters who do not have an unexpired government issued picture ID added to the fact that there is no indication that "voter impersonation fraud" actually occurs in Texas.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott failed to find a single case of voter fraud in his $1.4 million two year investigation. Plus, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News, county election officials across Texas say voter fraud is nearly impossible to carry out in Texas because of the voter validation checks already implemented by every Texas county election office.

Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, revealed the political calculation that requiring photo IDs could suppress enough legitimate Democratic voters, who lack photo ID, that it would add 3 percent to the Republican vote. [Houston Chronicle]

Republican legislators felt pressure from a small, but vocal, core of rank and file Republicans voters who demand photo ID legislation on an article of religious faith that Democratic voter fraud is causing Republicans to lose elections.

So much legislative time was spent on Voter Photo ID legislation that other critical state business did not come up for consideration before the legislature adjourned on June 1st.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


NPR: The Challenges To Turning Off The Internet In Iran (3:44) - June 17, 2009
NPR: Iranians Still Connect To Social-Networking Sites (3:42) - June 18, 2009

The Iranian people gather by the hundreds of thousands to protest against election fraud. In the Video they are chanting - "Karroubi, Musavi get my vote back!" With just two-thirds of the votes counted last Friday, the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the election with 66% of the vote.

Ahmadinejad defeated his two opponents, Majlis Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, in what the people of Iran now believe was a stolen election.

The New York Times: serious fissures have opened in the face of Islamic rule and one that may prove impossible to patch over, particularly given the fierce dispute over the election that has erupted amid the elite veterans of the 1979 revolution.

As we watch people put their lives on the line for democracy, new media and social networking sites, like Twitter, have allowed young Iranians the ability to communicate what's happening inside their country -- even as the authorities try to prevent it. Yesterday's rally was just amazing!
(Picture from HuffingtonPost.com)

From the Guardian: More than 500,000 Iranians are silently marching from from Haft-e-Tir Squre to Vali Asr Square, reports Saeed Kamali Dehghan in Tehran.

HuffingtonPost: Iran Updates with VIDEO / Live-Blogging The Uprising


Monday, June 15, 2009

Remeber That DHS Report Warning Military Veterans Might Join Right-Wing Extremists?

Under President Bush, the US military effectively adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when recruiting white supremacists and neo-Nazis into the Army.

That Department of Homeland Security Report on right-wing extremism, heavily criticized by right-wing conservatives when it was released in April, warned precisely of the type of violence that occurred at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic. That same DHS report also assessed that some military veterans could be susceptible to recruitment by these extremist groups.

Even though the report exclusively identified neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gang members and radicalized abortion opponents as right-wing extremists, a wide swath of conservative Republican voices -- from Rush Limbaugh to RNC Chairman Michael Steele -- lashed out at the DHS Secretary over what they deemed an anti-Republican report. (Do they identify these right-wing extremists as a core part of the Republican Party?) Mainstream conservatives went into a frenzy over the report, demanding that Secretary Janet Napolitano be fired. Even after last week’s shooting by a white supremacist at the Holocaust Museum, conservatives stood by their criticism of the DHS report — despite the fact that the report specifically warned about white supremacist and anti-Semitic extremists.

Many conservatives also lashed out at the report for suggesting that military veterans might be susceptible to extremist recruiters. Republicans said the Homeland Security report "unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists." House Republican leader John Boehner described the report as offensive and called on the agency to apologize to veterans.

Here again Republicans are playing partisan politics on an issue that is critical to the security and safety of Americans. According to Newsweek, some local intelligence “fusion centers" ceased their operations monitoring right-wing extremists because of the conservative outcry.

Numerous articles have detailed the Army’s manpower shortages under President Bush's stop loss order that returned soldiers to combat tours of duty three, four and five times in two war zones. Potential recruits were more difficult to enlist when faced with multiple duty tours, duty recalls and the increasing possible death by the fifth successive tour of combat duty.

In an effort to fill recruitment quotas under President Bush, the US military effectively adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when recruiting white supremacists and neo-Nazis into the Army. Under pressure, the Army ignored its recruiting standards to let in neo-Nazis, white supremacists and gang members who otherwise should have been turned away, according to a new article in Salon by Matt Kennard:
“Some neo-Nazis have been charged with crimes inside the military, and others have been linked to recruitment efforts for the white right.”

“Many white supremacists join the Army to secure training for, as they see it, a future domestic race war. Others claim to be shooting Iraqis not to pursue the military’s strategic goals but because killing ‘hajjis’ is their duty as white militants.”

“Soldiers’ associations with extremist groups, and their racist actions, contravene a host of military statutes instituted in the past three decades,” he adds. “But during the “war on terror,” U.S. armed forces have turned a blind eye on their own regulations. A 2005 Department of Defense report states, ‘Effectively, the military has a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy pertaining to extremism. If individuals can perform satisfactorily, without making their extremist opinions overt … they are likely to be able to complete their contracts.’"

"Following an investigation of white supremacist groups, a 2008 FBI report declared: "Military experience — ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces — is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement." In white supremacist incidents from 2001 to 2008, the FBI identified 203 veterans. Most of them were associated with the National Alliance and the National Socialist Movement, which promote anti-Semitism and the overthrow of the U.S. government, and assorted skinhead groups."

"Because the FBI focused only on reported cases, its numbers don't include the many extremist soldiers who have managed to stay off the radar. But its report does pinpoint why the white supremacist movements seek to recruit veterans — they "may exploit their accesses to restricted areas and intelligence or apply specialized training in weapons, tactics, and organizational skills to benefit the extremist movement."

"In fact, since the movement's inception, its leaders have encouraged members to enlist in the U.S. military as a way to receive state-of-the-art combat training, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, in preparation for a domestic race war. The concept of a race war is central to extremist groups, whose adherents imagine an eruption of violence that pits races against each other and the government."

--- Click here for REST OF MATT KENNARD'S STORY IN SALON!... ---
Related Links:

Collin County Commissioners Court Public Hearing On Free Clinic Funding

The Collin County Commissioner’s Court will vote on guidelines that will over-burden non-profit Healthcare providers with administrative requirements. These new administrative requirements will make County Funding technically available, but not practicably feasible to obtainable. Non-profit clinics of Collin County provide needed Healthcare to those who are struggling in the current economic downturn.

The Healthcare Committee of Collin County, a non-profit grassroots movement advocating health care accessibility for the uninsured, asks concerned citizens to attend the Commissioner’s Court public hearing on Monday June 15th to tell the commissioners to vote no on a burdensome measure to only reimburse clinics services for patients at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 15th at the Wylie City Hall, (2000 State Hwy 78, North) starting at 6PM .

Read background information in the Dallas Morning News here and here, and McKinneyNews.net

Collin County Observer: Special Commissioners Court meeting expected to draw a crowd tonight

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Democratic Party - Party!

Democratic Party of Collin County
Denton County Democratic Party
Fish Fry
Social & Fund Raiser
Friday, June 19, 2009 7:00-9:30 p.m.
The Landing at Myers Park & Event Ctr
7117 County Road 166, McKinney, TX (map)
Deadline To Buy Tickets June 15
Individual: $25

Guest Speakers Include:
2010 U.S. Senate Candidate
John Sharp
2010 TX Governor Candidate
Tom Schieffer
2010 U.S. Congress Candidate
Neil Durrance
(click to go to the DPCC information page)
(click to go to the DCDP information page)
Hurry - The deadline to buy your ticket is tomorrow, Monday June 15th!!
The food promises to be great - catered by the famous Alligator Cafe you can select from a buffet of all you can eat catfish, hush puppies, slaw, and fixins, with ice tea to drink.

2010 candidates will speak on about the importance of Collin and Denton County voters remaining as active for upcoming 2010 elections as you werre for the 2008 presidential election.

Great indoor location, so come - rain or shine - dressed casual and bring your friends!

Approximately 3 miles North of HWY 380 (University Dr) on FM 1461 (N. Lake Forest Dr.) (Collin County Gov. Map) (Google Map)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Big Hate

A Paul Krugman NYTimes OP-ED details the links between the extremists, the right-wing media and GOP leaders:
Back in April, there was a huge fuss over an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security warning that current conditions resemble those in the early 1990s — a time marked by an upsurge of right-wing extremism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Conservatives were outraged. The chairman of the Republican National Committee denounced the report as an attempt to “segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration” and label them as terrorists.

But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.

There is, however, one important thing that the D.H.S. report didn’t say: Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.

And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

Exhibit A for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism is Fox News’s new star, Glenn Beck... a commentator who, among other things, warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s “totalitarian” agenda.

...let’s not neglect the print news media. The Washington Times saw fit to run an opinion piece declaring that President Obama “not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself,” and that in any case he has “aligned himself” with the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

And then there’s Rush Limbaugh [who] peddles conspiracy theories — suggesting, for example, that fears over swine flu were being hyped “to get people to respond to government orders” — that’s a case of the conservative media establishment joining hands with the lunatic fringe.

The R.N.C. says that “the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals.”

The worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy. But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril.

--- Click here for REST OF PAUL KRUGMAN'S OP-ED!... ---

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Helping Hand For Your Neighbors In Need

Saturday June 27th is our Country’s National Day of Service devoted to Health Care!

Here is how you can help:

If you are among the “insured” and have the extra resources, please reach out on this day and adopt an uninsured neighbor. For $40 you can provide needed healthcare to individuals and families in need in Collin County.

This is a simple but very helpful way to participate in this National Health Care Event and support the clinics doing so much good near you. (Read Health Care Crisis In Collin County) Here are some of our free clinics that would be happy to accept your kind support:

Plano Children’s
Medical Clinic
1407 14th St.
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 801-9689
Geriatric Wellness
Center of Collin Co.
401 W. 16th St.
Suite 600
Plano, TX 75075
(972) 941-7335
Children & Community
Health Center
120 So. Central Expwy
Suite 102
McKinney, TX 75070
(972) 547-0606
Adult Clinic 2520 Ave. K
Suite 100
Plano, TX 75074,
(972) 423-4941
Frisco Cares
Children’s Clinic
6811 Oak St.
Frisco, TX 75035
(469) 556-8452
Assistance Center
of Collin Co.
900 E. 18th St.
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 422-1850
Community Dental
Care of Plano
900 E. Park Blvd.,
Suite 180
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 633-3383


A message from the local chapter of Organizing For America

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Right-Wing Populists Disavow Responsibility


Glenn Beck and his fellow wingnuts -- the ones who have been whipping up hysteria among their right-wing populist followers since Obama's election and before -- essentially announced they have no intention of reflecting on their roles in today's horrifying shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.

They did this by doing what they always do whenever these situations arise: First call it all an "isolated incident" committed by a "lone nutcase" who just happens to be acting out beliefs emanating from their own quadrant. Then, when that fails, blame it on the Left.

Beck offered the following rationale on his Fox News show tonight:

Beck: What they're missing is: The pot in America is boiling. And this is just yet another warning to all Americans of things to come.

Actually, Beck has this exactly right. But frankly, it's boiling because of people like Glenn Beck, ranting hysterically every night about impending apocalypses of various forms -- looming "liberal fascism," the "economic meltdown," the "New World Order," violence spilling over the Mexican border, even FEMA concentration camps.

--- Click here for REST OF THIS CROOKSANDLIARS STORY!... ---

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Will Conservative Republicans Continue To Defend Right-Wing Extremists?

FOX reporter admits viewers' extremism
scares him (June 10th)

FOX Reporter: Maybe we were wrong to
attack DHS extremism report

The [Republican] right went bonkers
over the DHS report.

From CNN two months ago
That Department of Homeland Security Report on right-wing extremism, heavily criticized by right-wing conservatives when it was released in April, warned precisely of the type of violence that occurred at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic just last week.

A wide swath of conservative Republican voices -- from Rush Limbaugh to RNC Chairman Michael Steele -- lashed out at the DHS Secretary over what they deemed an anti-Republican report. [They apparently identify with the right-wing extremists described in the report.]

When the DHS report was initially released, House Minority Leader John Boehner defended the right-wing extremists described in the report. Do Collin County's U.S. House representatives Sam Johnson and Ralph Hall support Boehner's defense of right-wing extremists? When the DHS report was initially released, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell defended the right-wing extremists described in the report. Do Texas' Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison support McConnell's defense of right-wing extremists? Texas Gov. Rick Perry courted right-wing extremists when he "suggested" that Texas might need to succeed from the union over President Obama's oppressive socialist leadership. Will Gov. Perry condemn right-wing extremists who promote hate talk and violence? (Media Matters quotes a number of top Republicans defending the right-wing extremists describe in the DHS report.)

If our elected Republican representatives will not repudiate and condemn not only the many acts of violence committed by right-wing extremists in the last several months, but also the extremist rhetoric from mainstream Republican media figures and congressional leaders that prompted those violent acts, how can the good every day Republicans living in Collin Co. continue to re-elect these people to office?

HuffingtonPost: When the 10-page DHS memorandum was made public its warnings [,about events such as the Holocaust Museum shootings and the the shooting of Dr. Tiller last week,] were widely criticized by main-stream conservatives.

It's been several months now since that DHS report was issues and, sadly, the study is proving increasingly prescient. In addition to the Von Brunn shootings, there has been the killing of abortion provider George Tiller, another type of ideologically-driven killing that the DHS report warned against.

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely," the DHS report read. "It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."
So Now They Want a Revolution? from BurntOrangeReport.com a couple of months ago:
Lately we have been hearing a lot of squawking and screeching emanating from the conservative right wing about a revolution.

This is rather perplexing given that we recently had an election in which the elected President won rather substantially. . .

. . .And despite all of the problems we face in these dire and stressful times the President's approval ratings remain in the 60's. Today it is at 67%. Today an ABC/Washington Post poll also reveals 65% trust President Obama to handle relations with Muslim nations. So, what is the problem? Why is a revolution necessary now?

In an editorial in the The New York Times (4/03/09) Charles Blow expressed his concern for conservative hate talk. Blow asserts conservative chatter and hate talk is far from harmless.
"Lately I've been consuming as much conservative media as possible (interspersed with shots of Pepto-Bismol) to get a better sense of the mind and mood of the right.

My read: They're apocalyptic. They feel isolated, angry, betrayed and besieged. And some of their "leaders" seem to be trying to mold them into militias." [reminiscent of the 1930's era German-American Bundist Movement fostered by Hitler's Nazi Germany]
Mr. Blow said he was initially amused by the twisted logic, garbled and veiled hate speech. After spending substantial time listening to conservative media, however, Mr. Blow changed his tune. He realized all is not harmless talk.
But, it's not all just harmless talk. For some, their disaffection has hardened into something more dark and dangerous. They're talking about a revolution.
Mr. Blow's article certainly gave me pause because I too had the tendency to dismiss the ravings of the right wing as just that. The events of this past week should certainly make us rethink some of our impressions of right wing hate talk.
Read the rest of the story at burntorangereport.com.
And then read Fearmongering at the DailyKos

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