Rick Perry Agrees to ‘Conversation’ on Fracking in Texas

Its a pretty safe bet from a Texan’s point of view that fracking has a promising future in our state. The practice has, as Governor Perry states, “been used for years” in Texas. Its also clear judging by recent news stories and a controversial study by the EPA that the federal government has every intention of regulating the practice.  Texas and its current governor in particular have had a rocky relationship with federal regulators. Earlier this year the EPA threatened to take away the TCEQ’s ability to grant ‘flexible’ permits to refineries citing non-compliance with the Clean Air Act. The TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), is Texas’ own environmental regulating body.

When it comes to the fracking method of natural gas extraction most of the national attention has been focused in more heavily populated areas where average citizens are more likely to come into direct contact with the industry.  In this shrinking window, Texas has an opportunity to show the EPA and other federal regulators that we can set the standard for appropriate state regulation and avoid expensive off-sets that could derive from a different set of federal standards.

When the head of our State makes comments like, “this is a fear tactic that the left is using and the environmental community is using” and refers to coverage of the EPA’s study as “stories that do not scientifically hold up”, it actually hurts our case that we are prepared to take on the challenge and address the tough issues that effect or energy security and the public trust. On the bright side his first line was, “We can have this conversation”, and I think that’s a good place to start.

Rick Perry on Fracking and Groundwater

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Texas Redistricting and The Silent Minority

I have been following the Texas redistricting lawsuit quite closely and I’m appalled every time I read a new article by a national publication that doesn’t contain a quote from an elected official who occupies an African-American opportunity district. The general public would naturally believe that because the Democratic Party is arguing the case for the Voting Rights Act that it is carrying the water for its African-American base, but this is not necessarily the case. I don’t blame the media in this case, but those who represent the silent minority, with the understanding that they do see this as a serious issue but for various reasons lack a consensus to take a particular public position.

I feel privileged to have a close enough relationship to members and other significant players to get the inside perspective and legal arguments that are being shaped and therefore will err on the side of not divulging sensitive information of the pending cases. But I think it’s safe to say that this will be a landmark ruling on how the courts view protections afforded to “protected classes” under the Voting Rights Act. The main issue at hand is the effect of replacing “African-American opportunity districts” with “minority opportunity districts.” If the Voting Rights Act was passed to grant African-Americans, as well as other individual minority groups, the ability to “elect representatives of their choice,” what happens when, say, a historically African-American district becomes a majority non-African-American minority district? This is the inevitable case for African-American representatives – especially in Texas. Will the future see all non-Anglos packed into “minority” districts without regard to any particular minority’s ability to elect a representative of their choice, be they black, Hispanic or Asian? It appears if the Texas attorney general gets his way, this will be the effect. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in Austin Tuesday expressed concern over a couple of issues regarding minority voting rights. He warned that voter identification laws may not pass muster and that Hispanic growth must be properly recognized by any new maps, but to my knowledge made no reference to how African-Americans specifically may be affected.

The worst thing that could happen may not be African-Americans losing their protected status, but that African-American and Hispanic leaders allow the Republican Party to systematically make electing candidates more difficult for their constituencies while exploiting a wedge between these two groups – who despite deserving their own individual protections, are still stronger when they act together.

Deshotel, political director for Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, is a managing member of the public relations firm BGP Strategies. He has more than a decade’s experience in Texas politics.

Is Herman Cain’s loss Rick Perry’s gain?

UPDATE 11/3/2011 4pm:

A new Rasmussen poll taken after the leak of sexual allegations shows Herman Cain actually taking the lead over Romney. Rick Perry doubles his numbers to 8% while Bachmann, Huntsman and Santorum bottom out. It appears Perry drew his support from the later candidates and Cain seems to be holding his own. Its also not clear if voters believe Rick Perry had any part in the leak as the Cain campaign contends.

Troubling headlines of sexual harassment allegations about Herman Cain beg the question -What happens if the Cain bubble does burst?

If Romney continues to waffle around 25% whoever is the beneficiary of a thinning field will have a real chance to tip the scale as we get closer to the early primaries. Could this be Perry’s window to reemerge? Time has yet to tell what effect Perry’s flat tax proposal will have on the race but it has received praise and ridicule from the usual suspects as this is not a new idea. Just recently it was given the thumbs up by Grover Norquist, a conservative thought leader with Club for Growth who pledges to hold inadequately conservative politicians accountable. In an election year that seems to be anything but typical and has bread strong anti-establishment sentiment, it is difficult to know what “leaders” will truly be the bellwether for 2012.

Taken from TexasTribune.org

On the same day of reckoning for Cain the Texas Tribune published a poll that shows Herman Cain edging out Governor Rick Perry in the Texas primary. Jim Henson, UT professor and co-director of the poll, stated in the article that Cain’s most significant lead was among “conservative voters”. Interestingly though while Perry led Cain in most urban areas, Cain lead Perry in Austin where voters know him well. This does not bode well (at least in Texas) for the theory that Perry would be the obvious beneficiary of a Cain collapse. Nationally though, this could be where money’s role becomes more important. If Bachmann and the like heed growing calls to exit the race this opens the door for Perry or another (Newt?) to gain a fresh head of steam. Even with his mass of cash reserves Perry will have to make stronger and more convincing public appearances. His resent consideration of nixing future debates, which may have worked from the outset, probably comes far too late after a series of disappointing outings.

Also, headlining on Gawker is not the way you want your campaign to go viral. Governor Perry delivered a “passionate” speech over the weekend also included a complete dismissal of Herman Cain as a real candidate. “I love Herman, is he the best? I have fun with him, he is a great and interesting guy. And, thank you Herman for helping to pay for the event tonight.” If this Rick Perry had come out first and he avoided the debates altogether who knows if this would be a different race. But, perhaps at this point he should bother to take Cain a little more seriously. The media can make this mistake, but Rick Perry can’t afford too.

There have been major developments this week since I published this. Rick Perry has been accused by the Cain campaign of leaking sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain.

And this video masterpiece..well maybe not masterpiece but it was made before Cain actually accused Perry:

Interesting note: Ron Paul doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of a 3rd party run even before the first primary ballot has been cast. Could he be setting the right up to get Nadered?

Stars and Bars and Battle-scars

It has already been widely reported, but Rick Perry has come out against the Confederate battle flag being placed on Texas license plates stating, “We don’t need to be opening up old wounds.” This is a departure from an earlier statement released by his staff that indicated, “The governor believes this is a decision for the board,” -referring to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Progress Texas has been pushing this issue for months and just last week 19 state Reps. (all Democrat, mostly minority) in Texas signed a petition urging the DMV not to approve the issuance of the specialty plates.

According to Sons of Confederate Veterans the DMV would raise money from the sale of the vanity plates to “educate the public” and create monuments to rebel soldiers. In most cases and in terms of freedom of speech I prefer to know where people stand. If you are willing to proudly display a “battle flag” buy a bumper sticker or where a ball cap. But, our state government which recognizes the legitimacy of the federal government should not be used to support a movement that sought to dismantle it. With immigration issues taking front stage this election its hard to imagine a worse idea, but that whole states rights thing is still as popular as ever right now.

I just had to throw this picture in to the left. This is my friend who posted this on facebook and I thought it was perfect.

Perry v. Romney: The State of Abortion

The Values Voters Summit was held this weekend in the city politicians love to hate, Washington, D.C.. The winner was a famous conservative politician from Texas with the initials RP who also happens to- not be Rick Perry. So the narrative remains, a weak front runner in Mitt Romney vs. the “conservative alternative”.  Rick Perry seemed to be that guy but after a couple of early blunders he failed to solidify the GOP primary as a two-man race. So how do these 2 Governors’ states match up on a crucial “Values Voters” issue of abortion?

One of Governor Perry’s most famous verbal faux pas came in a debate when he tried to label Mitt Romney a flip flopper on abortion.

We know Romney’s position has changed depending on what office he sought. We also know it is unlikely that Romney would have been elected Governor in 2002 at all if he had not pledged to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” This prompted me to look into abortion and health statistics of both states to catch a glimpse of what “pro-life” means under these governors. The pro-life movement may find clues about electability vs. a pro-choice incumbent. To see Texas‘ and Massachusetts‘ current policies towards abortion follow each link. Here I will just show some basic comparisons of outcomes. All of my data came from the Guttmacher Inistitute.

First the abortion trends in each state compared to the national average:

Abortion rate per 1,000 women

The national average, as well both states, has actually been in decline since the the first few years after Roe V. Wade.  Perry said in his address to the Values Voters Summit that, “There is no voter in America who is not a value voter, its just a question of who’s values they share.” Over the years Rick Perry has been a bellweather of conservative rhetoric and he may have hit on something here at least where Texas is concerned. This next chart could help explain Perry’s past success in Texas or even why Democrats struggle to be relevant in statewide elections. But the question remains how this can help him win the same voters in a national election.

Abortion rate per 1,000 women

Its interesting to note that white women in Texas have abortions at the national rate while minorities in Texas have them at half the national rate. This could suggest at least one of 2 things, that minorities are more conservative in Texas or they lack access to the procedure. A 3rd possibility exists that Texas’ stressing of abstinence education actual led to less abortions. This can be ruled out because Texas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy. In Texas teens may be having less abortions but they are not abstaining.

Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 women Sources: 1.Guttmacher Institute, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, 2010.

The most damning stat for Governor Romney’s claim to “pro-life” is the sheer amount of state funded abortions. This also presents a possible explanation of why minorities in Texas have abortions at half the rate of the nation.

The lack of public funds for abortion coupled with higher rates of teen pregnancy may also be a contributing factor to Texas having one of highest rates of uninsured children in the nation, while Massachusetts is among the lowest.

% of uninsured low income children by State

Even still Perry released this ad today attacking Mitt Romney over “Romneycare”.

Both will get another chance in front of voters Tuesday when the GOP candidates debate in New Hampshire. As for the Value Voters Summit their ballot has been cast.

Trend from Gallup of American views on abortion:

Occupy Wallstreet (Anywhere)

Today is #OccupyAustin and as I talk to local politicos about the burgeoning new “occupy[insertyourtown]” movement we speculate on how long it will be before some highly funded, issue specific group comes in and marginalizes it like the TEA Party. Within the Occupy Austin movement there is a clear structure being created with a General Assembly that meets daily and specific committees who democratically discuss issues and make plans. They have a website and are highly motivated and engaged. Their facebook page already has over 7,000 fans and today’s event has over 4,000 RSVPs. It will be interesting to see who is behind such a speedy effort to first occupy the URL OccuppyAustin.org then to create such a content heavy web presence.

The in-cohesive nature and lack of pure ideology are part of what gives these movements credibility. You can not cut the head from a headless snake, but groups like Move On are trying to shape themselves into just that. As we have seen so far celebrities and unions have “joined the fight” though no specific agenda has been outlined. Isn’t the point here though, that people are just tired of failed leadership at the hands of greed? Do they really need an agenda or specific reforms to push? Like a friend said,  “What matters is these people are getting off their asses.” At the end of the day public policy is no overnight read and is generally left for politicians, activists (which anyone with spare time can be) and business ‘leaders’ to work out. Average working class people, if they in fact have work, do not have time to become political scientists.

After a historic election of “hope and change” how did we get to a point where we have two separate organic movements against our nations establishment?  Ladies and gentlemen this is nothing new. It happened at the end of the Roman Empire as well. The young educated class who could not find work lost respect for “Roman virtue” when they saw it was really just a farce to keep the common order of things as they were. There was no real meritocracy. All any of these people want is a job where they do not feel like they are getting the screws. I see pundits refer to them as communist, socialists and anti-capitalist as if they just hate rich people. Sure those types are drawn to large gathers and protests in general. However, I suspect that these folks wouldn’t mind bonuses for bank executives if they weren’t just laid off by a bank, or if wasn’t funded by taxpayer bailout money. This is what people are tired of. Watching people who made bad decisions redistribute the nations wealth amongst themselves.

Simple question: Would our economy be in this shape if these financial executives were doing a “good job” or at least one worth 10 million a year?

Bush said it:

Some workers are being left behind in the booming economy and the disparity between the rich and the poor is growing…The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years…The earnings gap is now twice as wide as it was in 1980. Bush said, adding that more education and training can lift peoples’ salaries.

Reagan said it:

Now try it yourself…

“Niggerhead”: A good Whitewashing?

The Washington Post published a story suggesting that Governor Perry took little issue with an offensive slur etched into a stone near the entrance of his hunting camp. The now infamous “Niggerhead” has been painted over but the story has raised eyebrows including those of black conservative and GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. Cain himself is barely over his own racially tinged comment made last week, when he said blacks were “brainwashed” for their loyalty to Democrats. On Fox News Sunday Cain essentially backed that remark with an anecdote about his 999 plan but added he could get 30% of the black vote. When it came to the Rick Perry controversy he said:

Continue reading ““Niggerhead”: A good Whitewashing?”

State Department holds hearing on Keystone XL Pipeline but is Anyone Listening?

Major publications coast to coast are discussing the implications of the Keystone tarsands pipeline that will dead-end in Southeast Texas. Despite the national fervor the State Department will only hold hearings along the proposed route.  Texans have been granted 2 opportunities voice concerns, one in Austin and the other in Port Arthur. I am working alongside the Sierra Club and internationally recognized environmentalist Hilton Kelly to raise awareness of the health and economic impact the contents of this pipeline will have.  The community of Port Arthur has a long history with industry (including the incineration of VX nerve gas) and recently been plagued with high unemployment. Residents in this area are no strangers to harsh chemical smells or pipelines and from the lack of local dialogue, for or against the pipeline, it would seem they are blissfully unaware of whats happening right under their noses.

Continue reading “State Department holds hearing on Keystone XL Pipeline but is Anyone Listening?”

A Tea Party Rally for Change in SETX?

While on our trip to Turkey my father (State Representative Joe Deshotel) received an invitation to speak Monday, September 12th at a Tea Party rally billed as a “‘Return to Community-Making a Difference,’ a Southeast Texas TEA Party rally to remember 9-11 and refocus attention on the local community honoring 9/11”.  The invitation was from former Jefferson County Republican Party Chair and current Tax-Assessor collector Shane Howard. I happen to have a personal relationship with Shane as I served myself as Executive Director of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and we debated weekly on Fox 4.
Continue reading “A Tea Party Rally for Change in SETX?”

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