Saturday, March 21, 2015

Five Signs Of America'sTransformation

Put together our 1% elections controlled by a small group of billionaires who preselect our candidates by deciding who will get their money, the privatization of our government, the de-legitimization of Congress and the presidency, as well as the empowerment of the national security state and the U.S. military, and add in the demobilization of the American public (in the name of protecting us from terrorism), and you see the American political system is being transformed - not in a good way.

Full article at

Civil War Issues Unresolved

In acknowledgment of the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, the theme of the Supreme Court Historical Society's 2015 four part Leon Silverman lecture series is “The Supreme Court and Reconstruction.”

On April 9, 1865 Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his beleaguered Confederate forces to Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army.  Lee's army, after the fall of Richmond and Petersburg, had been attempting to escape to the west so that he could link up with another Confederate army under Joseph E. Johnston.

Unfortunately for the Army of Northern Virginia, the fast moving Union Army of the Potomac positioned itself to cut off Lee's bedraggled army as it moved towards Lynchburg, Virginia.

At the Battle of Sailor's Creek on April 6, 1865, it was becoming clear that the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was dissolving. Rather than pursue a path of more bloodshed, Grant reached out to Lee asking for his surrender on April 7, 1865.  Lee, still not ready to surrender, continued to hold a dialog with his nemesis Grant while holding out hope that he could escape the growing Union stranglehold.  Only after his defeats at Appomattox Station on April 8, 1865, where critical supplies were captured, and Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 did Lee finally accept Grant's surrender terms.

To end the fighting was an enormously consequential action. But equally consequential was that the war ended without a peace treaty. Five days after Lee surrendered, President Lincoln was assassinated and his vision of Reconstruction, including dissolving the entire leadership of the Confederacy and extending suffrage to at least some black men, died.

On March 11, the Supreme Court Historical Society presented the first installment of this year’s Leon Silverman Lecture Series with Michael A. Ross, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland as the guest speaker.  Ross began his talk at the historical point when Lincoln was succeeded by Vice President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee – the last state to join the Confederacy.

A month into his presidency, Johnson had extended “sweeping amnesty” to southerners. Although few groups – including high-ranking Confederate Army officials, war criminals, and the planter class – were not given amnesty, they could still ask Johnson for a personal pardon, which he liberally bestowed over 7,000 times. Ultimately,  very few white southerners were disenfranchised. As for extending the franchise to blacks, Johnson famously declared that the United States ”is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am president, it shall be a government for white men.”


Click here to read about Ross' remarks, reported by SCOTUSblog...

C-SPAN Videos - Leon Silverman Lecture Series

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Republicans To Kill Medicaid

A centerpiece of the House and Senate Republican budgets is a plan to take away health care from 14.3-20.5 million Americans.

House and Senate Republicans plan to use two steps to take away health care from tens of millions of Americans. Step one is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Step two is the conversion of Medicaid funding into a block grant.


Local Elections Matter

When Denton's voters approved a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) last November, it served as a testament that grassroots concerns about urban drilling could not be ignored.That is, until the Texas Legislature convened.

Two bills will be heard in the House Energy Resources Committee next Monday, March 23 that have the effect of muting the voices of those residents...and possibly yours as well.

HB 40 retroactively reverses Denton's fracking ban and prevents local governments from regulating most oil and gas operations. Similarly, HB 539 is designed to discourage local regulation of urban drilling.

Don't let Austin silence your voice, and impose their will over that of local voters!!

If you can't attend Monday's hearing (State Capitol, E2.010), my friends at Earthworks created this tool to allow you to tell that committee you oppose these bills.

Steve Brown

Running For Elected Office In 2016

The Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 Texas primary election to nominate candidates from each political party for the Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 general election is less than one year distant.  Each political party's nominee candidates must file an application with their respective party's county or state chairperson to have their name placed on the party's primary ballot.

The 2016 primary election filing period runs from Saturday, November 14, 2015 through the filing deadline date of 6 p.m. Monday, December 14, 2015. An application for the office of precinct chair may be filed from the 90th day before the date of the regular filing deadline - Tuesday, September 15, 2015. (Texas election code Sec. 172.023, if not changed during the 2015 legislative session.)

List of offices:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wall Street Bonuses Twice Combined Earnings of All Americans

Institute for Policy Studies

The $28.5 billion in bonuses doled out to 167,800 Wall Street employees is double the annual pay for all 1,007,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Wall Street bonuses rose 3 percent last year, despite a 4.5 percent decline in industry profits. The size of the bonus pool was 27% higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

These annual bonuses are an extra reward on top of base salaries in the securities industry, which averaged $190,970 in 2013.

To put these figures in perspective, we’ve compared the Wall Street payout to low-wage workers’ earnings. We’ve also calculated how much more of a national economic boost would be gained if similar sums were funneled into the pockets of the millions of workers on the bottom end of the pay scale.

More... Wall Street Bonuses v. Minimum Wage Earners

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Threat to Social Security & Medicare Grows

According the The Hill newspaper, Senate Republicans and moderate conservative Democrats are looking at crafting a renewed attack on middle-class Social Security and Medicare earned benefits under the so-called “Grand Bargain” banner.

With Republicans now in control of the US Senate, "Wall Street Senators" of both parties are again attempting to revive misguided actions promoted in the flawed Bowles-Simpson deficit commission report of December 2010. Senators Erskin Bowles and Alan Simpson, were forced to issue their own report after they couldn’t get enough support from Senators of either party serving on the commission they chaired.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Selma and Texas' Discriminatory Voter I.D. Law

by Michael Handley

Thousands gathered with President Obama this weekend at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” march on March 7, 1965.

They gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a brutal police assault on civil rights demonstrators that spurred the passage of the Voting Rights Act in August 1965. In 1963, only 156 of 15,000 eligible black voters in Selma, Alabama, were registered to vote.

The federal government filed four lawsuits against Alabama county registrars between 1963 and 1965, but the number of black registered voters only increased from 156 to 383 during that time. The federal government couldn’t keep up with the pace and intensity of voter suppression with existing laws.

The Voting Rights Act,  signed by President Johnson in August 1965, ended the blight of voting discrimination in places like Selma by eliminating the literacy tests and poll taxes that prevented so many people from voting. (VRA)

The Selma of yesteryear is reminiscent of the current situation in Texas, where one of the nation's most restrictive voter photo ID laws remains enforce.  This restrictive and discriminatory law has been twice blocked by federal courts finding it to be a discriminatory poll tax, but it has been twice revived by the Supreme Court. The law remains enforce today, but the struggle for voting rights continues.  Read on...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Charting 2014 Collin County Turnout

by Michael Handley

Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are likely voter apathy and negative perceptions of both political parties. Republicans ran a single-theme negative campaign against President Obama, and Democrats were unwilling to campaign on how much the national economy has improved or to point out significant achievements of Democratic policies over the six years of Obama's presidency.

Neither party gave voters an affirmative reason to show up at the polls so Millennials didn't bother to votesingle women were a little less pro-Democratic than usual, and the racial divide among voters remains stark. One number stands out above all others: 64 percent of older white men voted Republican. It's the "widest GOP advantage in this group in data since 1984," according to ABC News.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Historically Low 2014 Voter Turnout - Why?

General election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest it's been in any election cycle since World War II, according to the United States Election Project. Just 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots on November 4, 2014.

The last time voter turnout was so low during a midterm cycle was in 1942, when only 33.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Like many, I'm asking the question - why did only 36.4 percent of potential voters bother to vote in the 2014 midterm election? Obviously, those voters didn't have a good enough reason to take the trouble to vote.