Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Georgia Demonstrates Outcome of Texas' Anti-Immigrant Sanctuary Cities Bill

Update Wednesday June 29, 2011 @ 8:30am
Sanctuary cities legislation is dead for this special legislative session?

Gov. Rick Perry released a statement blaming Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, for the death of the sanctuary cities bill, which the governor added to the special session call.

"Unfortunately, SB1 Conference Committee Chairman Robert Duncan ultimately refused to allow language related to the ban of sanctuary cities into the final version of Senate Bill 1," Perry wrote in his statement. "Because of this action, the special session will not provide our peace officers with the discretion they need to adequately keep Texans safe from those that would do them harm.”
This morning, Senate Republicans and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also released a statement blaming around on the House for killing the sanctuary cities legislation.
"The Senate passed SB 9, the sanctuary cities bill, with unanimous Republican support two weeks ago, and nothing has happened," Dewhurst said in a statement. "If the House really wants to pass sanctuary cities, they should pass it today."
Original Post Saturday June 25, 2011 @ 2:34am

BOR: Perry's All Koch-ed Up

Burnt Orange Report Austin: On Sunday, Gov. Perry traveled to Colorado to speak at a shadowy conservative gathering hosted by the Koch brothers.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner described the Colorado summit as a "private gathering of business leaders". The guest list was kept secret and organizers wouldn't say where the four-day retreat was held beyond describing it as in the general vicinity of Vail.

-- Related Stories --

"It's not entirely clear how Perry got to Colorado, but a plane owned by aircraft dealer Goldsmith Team LLC flew from Aspen to Georgetown on Sunday, flight records show," the Austin American-Statesman's Jason Embry reports. Goldsmith Team LLC made more than $25,000 worth of in-kind contributions to Perry's 2010 re-election campaign.

This is how Rick Perry operates. He owes huge favors to the corporate interests that fund his campaigns. It makes complete sense that these corporate overlords want to check in to remind Perry who he really works for. And Perry heeds their call like an obedient dog.

The Koch brothers are the conservative agenda-setters in American politics. They are the Tea Party's main sponsors - without them, there would be no bus fleets for rallies, coordinated media strategies or funds for advertisements. The ingenious Koch's routinely buy politicians through campaign donations and influence with the right-wing media, locking them into a radical anti-government agenda. Perry is undeniably part of the Koch brothers' plan to end regulations, kill social services and solidify America as a nation run by and for the wealthy.

This month, Huffington Post exposed the Koch brothers' "Saturday Evening Club" in Manhattan. In April, the Club met with Tea Party star Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN). In attendance were dozens of lobbyists representing the financial, health care and automotive industries. Members of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. press were there, as were several high-profile GOP donors. Pence's office billed the meeting as "a meeting of journalists, opinion makers and business leaders."

Which staffers did Rep. Pence bring along? The director of his political action committee, a GOP pollster and his chief counsel.

Like Rep. Pence, Gov. Perry is not really a politician. He is a cog in a radical corporate machine designed to gut America of all that makes it a land of opportunity. Tit for tat, Perry supports this radical agenda in exchange for campaign cash.

When asked, Americans do not support shadowy organizations influencing their government, and they definitely don't support the Koch agenda.

But is the American electorate now so numb to government corruption that a Koch candidate like Perry could pass their radar? We'll soon know.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Social Media Voters More Influenced by Facebook Friends Than Evening News

A research study released this month by digital agency SocialVibe found that 94% of voting-age social media users are more likely to watch an entire political message viewed online, and then 39% will share it with an average of 130 friends.

According to the study social media users are more likely to share persuasive political information with friends and colleagues in a matter of seconds from their computer or mobile device as opposed to making phone calls or canvassing. For that reason, social media users are more likely to be influenced by Facebook “friends” than the evening news.

The study also found that an investment of $25,000 in a campaign that engages social media users could spread the content online to people of voting age in all 50 states within 24 hours. That’s a lot of bang for the buck.

The SocialVibe study also indicated that political ad campaigns continue to shift more advertising budgets to online and mobile advertising. But it gets a little tricky because the campaigns have the challenge of presenting political messages in such a way that supporters want to share the information.

The key is to facilitate the users or political supporters to share messages or campaigns. Thus, the campaigners will need to become more creative in order to engage and develop loyalty to persuade others such as “friends” to be engaged as well.

The study indicates five key messages for the 2012 political season: Use Facebook and campaign Web sites to engage supporters, supporters carry social media message, go mobile, remember social email, and build loyalty through engaged advertising.

All in all, politicians will have a unique challenge of honestly connecting with people one on one as a personal experience. Approach them online in a conversation with a message that is convenient and beneficial for the social media user.

“Most people like to share personal views and beliefs. Allow people to engage with and personalize messages: This is what drives sharing,” concludes Jay Samit, CEO SocialVibe.

Pew Report: Looking For Voters? Find Them On FaceBook

Pew Internet and American Life Project: Nearly half of all U.S. adults use some kind of social-networking site, from Facebook to LinkedIn, and these people are more likely to vote and be politically active.

The Pew report found that 79 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet, and 59 percent of these Internet users also use social networking. This is nearly twice as many as in 2008, and they are getting older, the report found.

“Among other things, this means the average age of adult social networking site users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010,” the report states. “Over half of all adult SNS users are now over the age of 35. Some 56 percent of SNS users now are female.”

And despite LinkedIn’s stunning IPO last month, Facebook rules when it comes to social networking, with 92 percent of people who use social networking on Facebook, 29 percent on MySpace, 18 percent on LinkedIn, and 13 percent on Twitter.

Social networking can be a powerful tool for political organizing, the report finds.

Obama's 2012 New Media Campaign

After President Barack Obama launched his 2012 earlier this year his campaign sent emails, tweets and Facebook messaging, including Facebook ads to ask nearly 13 million followers supporters from his 2008 campaign contact list to declare on Facebook "I'm In!" for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

Emails to supporters seek small-dollar donations in exchange for campaign coffee mugs or a chance to win dinner with the president. The campaign's website helps supporters find local events, plan meetings and raise money while its digital team develops the next big thing.

If Obama broke new ground in 2008 using email, text messages and the Web to reach voters, Obama version 2.0 campaign strategy plans to take the new media Web campaign to the next level – by taking advantage of the expansive roles that the Internet and social media are playing in voters' lives.

"The successful [2012] campaign is going to be one that integrates all the various elements of the digital channel – email, text, website, mobile apps, and social networks – together as one digital program and also mixing the digital program together with the offline reality of field organizations," said Joe Rospars, the Obama campaign's chief digital strategist.

"In the end," Rospars said, "all the digital stuff is in service of the offline organizing to ultimately persuading voters and turning them out."

Obama took advantage of a strong Internet campaign in 2008 to raise an estimated $500 million online while regularly communicating with supporters through text messages, an email list estimated at more than 13 million and content on his 2008 My Barack Obama campaign website:

When Obama was close to announcing his vice presidential selection of Joe Biden in August 2008, the campaign encouraged supporters to find out by text message, a move that prompted more than 2 million people to voluntarily give their cell phone number to the Obama campaign.

Three years later, social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have exploded, smart phones and apps are more prevalent, tablet computers are on the rise, and most Americans are online. When Obama announced his presidential campaign in 2007, Facebook had fewer than 20 million users worldwide. That number has now surpassed 500 million.

"There's no online and offline organizing. There's organizing," said Jeremy Bird, Obama's national field director, during a session at Netroots Nation in Minneapolis.

When Campaigns Manipulate Social Media

Since young voters discovered they could friend Barack Obama on Facebook during the 2008 election, social media has become ingrained in the way we think about political discourse. Politicians and tech evangelists alike see it as the key to a new type of politics: Campaigns and candidates can better engage citizens, facilitate grassroots organization, and craft legislation with the direct input of a Tweeting electorate. The inevitable results, optimists argue, will be a sort of "digital democracy," defined by a closer, more coherent relationship between the elected officials and their constituents.

But social media, like any tool, can be used to erode democratic practices as well.

The Atlantic by Jared Keller: A few days before the special election in Massachusetts to fill Senate seat formerly held by the late Edward Kennedy, the conservative American Future Fund (AFF) conducted a "Twitter-bomb" campaign against Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Texas to Convert Medicaid To Block Grants And Defund Planned Parenthood

The Texas Legislature approved a bill Monday that would both compel the state to push the Obama administration to convert Texas’ Medicaid program into a block grant and defund Planned Parenthood.

The omnibus health bill also includes a number of other controversial provisions, including plans to save $400 million over the next year by increasing the use of Medicaid managed care.

The legislation now goes to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who has been generally supportive of both the Medicaid reforms, as well as anti-abortion language.

When previously asked about Senate Bill 7, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed would not speak specifically to pending legislation, but did comment on the governor’s broad support for block grants.

Governors like Rick Perry (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), Scott Walker (R-WI) and Haley Barbour (R-MS) are touting block grants — capped allotments of money — as the solution to cut spending on their respect state Medicaid programs. However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows that block grants come with financial risks and costs to the states, as well as cuts to Medicaid eligibility and benefits. Additionally, providing states with block grants for Medicaid would fundamentally change how the program is funded and would ultimately undermine the Affordable Care Act.

Block Grants Fundamentally Change How Medicaid Is Funded

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Distressed Oceans Lead To Mass Extinction

Pollution and global warming are pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned Monday.

Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water "dead zones," toxic algae blooms, the massive depletion of big fish stocks -- all are accelerating, they said in a report compiled during an April meeting in Oxford of 27 of the world's top ocean experts.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage, Becoming Largest State to Pass Law

NYTimes: ALBANY — Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the sixth and largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed. Just five states currently permit same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.
The NY State Senate approval was the final hurdle for the same-sex marriage legislation, which was approved last week by the Democrat-led NY State Assembly. The Republican-controlled state Senate passed the bill by a 33-29 vote. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the measure at 11:55 p.m., and the law will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying in New York by late July.

The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved 33 to 29 in a packed but hushed Senate chamber. Four members of the Republican majority joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in supporting the measure after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes.

Passage of the NY bill reflects rapidly evolving sentiment about same-sex unions. In 2004, according to a Quinnipiac poll, 37 percent of NY state’s residents supported allowing same-sex couples to wed. This year, 58 percent supported same-sex marriage.

Supporters of the measure described the victory in New York as especially symbolic — and poignant — because NY is considered the home of the "Stonewall movement’s" foundational moment in June 1969. A riot erupted outside the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the West Village, on June 28, 1969 after police raided the tavern frequented by gay patrons. (see history of movement below.)

A huge street party erupted outside the Stonewall Inn Friday night, with celebrants waving rainbow flags and dancing after the historic vote.

Read the rest of the story @ The NYTimes.

History of the Stonewall Movement

The Stonewall Inn was a seedy, mob-owned bar on Christopher Street in New York City's Greenwich Village, a place where gay men and lesbians could drink and dance among themselves at a time when the city was cracking down hard on gay bars and homosexual life. There had been little protest against the harassment, but a bust at the Stonewall in the early hours of June 28, 1969 — and reports that customers were being beaten by cops — provoked a sympathetic crowd into two days of rioting. The movement was born.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sen. Sanders: Koch Bros. ‘Want To Destroy Social Security’

YouTube video @ Brave New Foundation
Seeing what he called “an enormous amount of disinformation about Social Security” in the media, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined with activist filmmaker Robert Greenwald to produce a video that attempts to explains why.

The video shows how the Koch’s create the myth that Social Security is in crisis by funding prominent think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, pundits on Fox News and CNBC, and politicians like Paul Ryan.)

Sanders claims that campaign contributions and hundreds of millions in think tank funding from billionaire industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch help create an “echo chamber” for “misinformation” on the hugely popular federal safety net, like suggesting it is about to go broke or claiming the retirement age must be raised in order to prevent economic collapse.

“Social Security is not going broke,” Sanders insisted. “Social Security has a $2.2 trillion surplus… The Koch brothers want to invest your retirement funds on Wall Street, and you may lose all of your retirement savings when you get old.”

Inside the Koch Brothers' Expensive Echo Chamber by Robert Greenwald @ Huffingtonpost

Documents and interviews unearthed in recent months by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a $28.4 million Koch business that has manufactured 297 commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting Social Security's effectiveness and purpose.

Together, the publications reveal a vast cottage industry comprised of Koch brothers' spokespeople, front groups, think tanks, academics and elected officials, which have built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.

The Koch brothers' echo chamber has successfully written the messaging for the AARP, a traditional defender of Social Security for all generations, which recently opened the door to cutting benefits.

The Koch echo chamber begins with think tanks like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Reason Foundation, which owe their founding and achievements to Koch backing. These think tanks take their $28.4 million in Koch funding and produce hundreds of position papers distorting the long-term health of Social Security.

If Congress Does Nothing, The Deficit Will Disappear

TPM: On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its updated long-term budget forecast, which looked surprisingly like the previous version of its long-term budget forecast.

It showed, as one might expect, that if the Bush tax-cuts remain in effect and Medicare and Medicaid spending isn't constrained in some way, the country will topple into a genuine fiscal crisis -- not the fake one the Congress is pretending the country's in right now.

Republicans, of course, seized on that particular projection, and claimed (a bit ridiculously) that Linkit proved the government must adopt their precise policy views: major spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs.

While all this -- from the findings to the politicization of them -- is perfectly expected, the forecast also presents another opportunity to remind people that the medium-term budget outlook is perfectly fine if Congress adheres to the law as it's currently written. That means no repealing the health care law, for one, but more significantly it means allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, and (unfathomably) allowing Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors to fall to the levels prescribed by the formula Congress wrote almost 15 years ago. In other words, no more "doc fixes."

Helpfully, CBO juxtaposed these two alternative futures in a pair of graphs and, just as last time, it projects that deficits will disappear entirely by the end of President Obama's second term (if he gets a second term) if Congress were to just sit on its hands and do nothing.

Take a look.

More Say GOP Would Be Mainly Responsible If No Increase In Debt Limit

Pew Research Center: More Americans believe Republicans in Congress, rather than the Obama administration, would be mainly responsible if the two sides cannot agree on a plan to increase the federal debt limit.

About four-in-ten (42%) say Republicans would bear the most responsibility if the debt limit is not raised and the government is unable to borrow more money to fund its operations.

A third (33%) say the Obama administration would be mainly responsible, according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post conducted June 16-19 among 1,003 adults.

As Vice President Joe Biden holds budget and debt-reduction talks with lawmakers, partisans express strong opinions about which side would be most responsible if no agreement is reached before the limit is hit as soon as early August.

About seven-in-ten Democrats (72%) say Republicans would be mainly responsible. Nearly six-in-ten Republicans (58%) say the Obama administration would be mainly responsible.

But independents are divided: 36% say Republicans would be mainly responsible, while 34% say the Democratic administration would be. Another 17% say the two sides would share responsibility if the debt limit is not raised.

The GOP Bloom Is Fading Fast With Voters

Recent polls have shown that the voters are not really enamored with the Republican Party anymore. Americans think they would be worse off under House Republicans' Medicare overhaul by an overwhelming margin of 57 percent to 34 percent, according to a new Bloomberg National Poll.

Adding to Republicans' woes, 58 percent of Independents — a critical voting block — share those concerns. The House voted in April to replace Medicare with subsidies for private insurance starting in 2022, but the proposal is going nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The poll, Bloomberg points out, is likely to encourage Democrats to continue to use Medicare to bash the GOP ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Republicans, however, are urging for bipartisan cooperation on cutting Social Security and Medicare even as they reject any tax increases.

If Democrats go along with Republicans on cutting Social Security and Medicare the GOP echo chamber will blame Democrats for the cuts, just as they did during the 2010 mid-term elections.

(See - The GOP Bait And Switch On Social Security And Medicare Democrats need to stay positioned to run exactly the same Social Security and Medicare messaging campaign in 2012 against the GOP that the GOP used against Democrats in 2010.)

Unemployment 42%
Government spending 17%
Federal deficit 13%
Health care 10%
Afghanistan 5%
The new Bloomberg National Poll (conducted of 1,000 adults between June 17th and June 20th) show movement toward Democrats and away from the Republicans. Here are the top five issues with the public.

The people know that the most important issue facing America is the massive unemployment -- an issue the Republicans are ignoring.

The recession will not truly be over until most Americans are back to work.

And most Americans see the corporations outsourcing of jobs as the biggest impediment to job creation (78%) -- something the Republicans in Congress have voted to support.

And then there's this question on the poll. What scares you the most about the upcoming election? Here's what the voters said:
  • 49% said the Republicans getting control of government and damaging or abolishing Medicare.
  • 40% said the Democrats getting control of government and resuming their spending.
Medicare is still turning out to be a really bad mistake for Republicans (who want to abolish it and throw the elderly to the mercy of private insurance companies). About 57 % in this poll said the Republican plan would be bad for them, and 55% say supporting the privatization of Medicare would make them likely to vote against a presidential candidate.

President Obama's favorability rating was 54%, with 42% saying they viewed him unfavorably.

Among other presidential candidates, 43% of Republicans viewed Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) favorably and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty had a 29% favorability rating.

Poll numbers are collapsing for first-term Republican governors across the country. The recent Inside Politics Newsletter gives a snapshot of the GOP's polling growing polling problem.

From Florida to Ohio, Wisconsin to Arizona, the bloom is fading from the GOP's blushing rose very quickly and very badly for Republican Governors who surfed into their respective state capitols on the tea party electoral wave last November.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

Newsweek: Fourteen million Americans remain out of work, a waste of our greatest resource. The 42nd president has more than a dozen ideas on how to attack the jobs crisis.

Next week in Chicago, the Clinton Global Initiative will focus on America for the first time, inviting business and political leaders to make specific commitments in support of the former president’s jobs blueprint, which he details below.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

I’ve Had All I Can Stand! I Can't Stands No More!

In this video clip posted on the Netroots Nation YouTube channel, Netroots Nation 2011 keynote speaker Van Jones delivers the fiery last few minutes of his speech.

He humorously invokes “Popeye” cartoons, quoting, “I’ve had all I can stand! I can't stands no more!” and encourages attendees to stand up to the smears and hate-mongering spewed daily by Fox News.

Jones, who joined the White House Staff in March 2009 as Pres. Obama's environmental adviser on green jobs development, resigned in September 2009 after the rightwing media and blogosphere echo chamber ginned up calls for his ouster in over his past statements and activism.

Jones issued two public apologies in the days preceding his resignation, one for signing a petition in 2004 from the group that questioned whether Bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war" and the other for using a crude term to describe Republicans in a speech he gave before joining the administration.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said of Jone's resignation on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual." The president does not endorse Jones's past statements and actions, "but he thanks him for his service," Gibbs said.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gilberto Hinojosa Running To Be The Next Texas Democratic Party Chair

A former Cameron County Judge and current party chair for Cameron County is seeking to become the Lone Star State’s top Democrat when Boyd Richie, the current Texas Democratic Party Chair, leaves office next year.

Brownsville-based attorney Gilberto Hinojosa last month filed with the Texas Ethics Commissions to become an official candidate for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. (website | Facebook)

The next Texas Democratic Party Chair will be elected at the June 2012 Texas state Democratic Convention. Boyd Richie announced at a State Democratic Executive Committee meeting in April that he would not seek re-election in 2012.

Hinojosa named Houston Attorney Cris Feldman treasurer for his Texas Democratic Party Chair campaign. It was Feldman who sued the treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority on behalf of four Democratic House candidates who were defeated in the 2002 election with the help of "clandestinely funneled illegal corporate cash into the [Texas] elections" by then House majority leader Tom DeLay and his aides. In a 2010 trial DeLay was found guilty on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the scheme to illegally funnel corporate cash to Texas Republican candidates running in the 2002 election.

Judge Hinojosa commented on his State Chair campaign:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Personhood At Conception And Criminalizing Birth Control Use

Many people do not remember that the purchase and use of birth control products, even by married couples, was against the law in many states until 1965. Use of birth control products may again be criminalized in many states controlled by conservative lawmakers. There are those who, for the last 46 years, have worked to reverse the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court finding that Americans have a fundamental right of privacy to make family planning decisions, which includes the right to use birth control contraceptives. This year conservative lawmakers in many states are again close to making the use of birth control products a crime through "personhood" legislative initiatives.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cities and School Boards Could Be Forced To Move Their Elections From May To November

Late in the regular 2011 82nd Texas legislative session, the Senate passed SB 100. The bill, originally submitted by Texas State Senator Van de Putte, brings Texas in compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. The MOVE Act, passed by Congress in 2009, requires that vote by mail ballots for federal elections and local elections held in conjunction with federal elections must be available to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before each election day and run-off election day.

Election dates specified in the Texas election code did not allow 45 days between the dates candidates were qualified to be listed on primary election ballots and the uniform primary election dates. SB 100 adjusts legally prescribed primary election dates such that Texas comes into compliance with the MOVE Act.