Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Statesman: Delay Indicted

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, jeopardizing the Sugar Land Republican's leadership role as the second most powerful Texan in Washington, D.C.

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Half of Europe's Citizens Know 2 Languages

Listen up Tejanos, it seems we (those of us who speak at least two languages) are the ones that are on par with the rest of the world and that other "Americans" are the ones that are lacking.

Click here for story.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Poor Having Trouble Fleeing Rita

By DEBORAH HASTINGS / Associated Press

Wilma Skinner would like to scream at the officials of this city. If only they would pick up their phones.

"I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," she said, standing in blistering heat outside a check-cashing store that had just run out of its main commodity. "Everyone just says, 'Get out, get out.' I've got no way of getting out. And now I've got no money."

With Hurricane Rita breathing down Houston's neck, those with cars were stuck in gridlock trying to get out. Those like Skinner — poor, and with a broken-down car — were simply stuck, and fuming at being abandoned, they say.

"All the banks are closed and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty paycheck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people, all of them black or Hispanic, fretted in line. "This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that?"

Some of those who did have money, and did try to get out, didn't get very far.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tejanos Be Wary of Rita!

Rita is now a category 5 hurricane and is headed our way. Tejanos along the coast, take heed. Be prepared and do not underestimate Mother Nature.

CNN and the National Weather Service tracks the storm.

AP: Border Democratic Congressmen Join Republicans in Declaring Immigration Emergency


By SUZANNE GAMBOA / Associated Press

As the approach of Hurricane Rita sent Texas into emergency mode, several of the state's members in Congress declared an emergency for the border region because of illegal immigration.

Nineteen Republicans and four Democrats notified President Bush in a letter they were declaring a state of emergency for the Texas-Mexico border because "illegal aliens, many of which are 'other than Mexicans' (OTMs), are crossing our border by the hundreds on a daily basis."

The letter was written by Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, and sent late Tuesday. It was released publicly Wednesday morning as Texas coastal residents began fleeing to escape the expected wrath of Rita, which had intensified into a Category 4 storm and threatened the Texas coast.

"U.S. Rep. Bonilla just feels it's something that has been in the works for a long time, and we are consistently trying to work on the situation down there. We obviously are not trying to take away attention from Hurricane Rita," Bonilla spokeswoman Taryn Fritz Walpole said.

The declaration is "a symbolic state of emergency," Fritz Walpole said. Such a declaration could only be made by the governor or president. A declaration would mean more money for Texas for immigration purposes, she said.

The governors of New Mexico and Arizona have declared emergencies in those states because of illegal immigration, in part to make state money available to pay overtime for law enforcement officials and other needs. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has not.

Two Republicans in the Texas congressional delegation did not sign the letter: Reps. Ron Paul of Surfside and Joe Barton of Ennis. The state has 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the U.S. House.

Democrats who signed the letter were Reps. Silvestre Reyes of El Paso; Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi; Henry Cuellar of San Antonio; and Ruben Hinojosa of Mercedes.

John Sharp Will Not Be Our Next Governor

Burnt Orange Report has posted that John Sharp is apparently set to announce that he is not running for governor in the Democratic primary in 2006.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another Candidate Announces Bid to Succeed Rep. Raymond

Steve Taylor's Rio Grande Guardian is reporting that former Webb County Judge Mercurio "Big Merc" Martinez is going to announce his intention to run for the seat that Richard Raymond is vacating. Other candidates vying to replace Raymond are Sergio Moya, Javier Martinez and Rudy Ochoa, Taylor reports.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Minutemen Officially Unwelcome in Cameron County

By Lynn Brezosky
Associated Press

Cameron County officials passed a resolution Tuesday opposing citizen border patrols, citing respect for immigrants, confidence in federal law enforcement and a shared history with Mexico.

The resolution against "the presence of Minutemen or other vigilante groups" passed unanimously during a meeting of the Cameron County Commissioners Court in Brownsville.

"The safe and legal passage of immigrants and foreign visitors to Cameron County is important to the civic life of our county," the resolution reads. "The future growth of Cameron County depends on the continued good will of our brothers in Mexico."

Click here for the rest of the story.

Monday, September 12, 2005

San Antonio Political Giant Pat Maloney Has Passed Away

by Carmina Danini
Express-News Staff Writer

Pat Maloney Sr., a firebrand plaintiffs' lawyer known as the king of torts, whose clients included nuns, madams and Vietnamese fishermen in a landmark murder case, died late Saturday at age 81.

"I will die with the greatest of reluctance and the strongest of resistance, but I'd love to stay here because I'm having fun and I would love to try more lawsuits," Maloney said in a videotaped memoir made several years ago. "Having said that, I'm still trying very hard to die well."

Click here for the rest of the story.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

What Katrina Tells Us About Mr. Bush's Philosophy of Government

Years from now, historians will likely see the Bush administration’s initially callous and indifferent response to hurricane Katrina as a parable for the type of conservatism this president and his party currently represent.

Bush conservatism is built on a fundamental cultural narrative that has reemerged since the Reagan Eighties – that success is a sign of virtue, and anything less, particularly poverty, can be explained only through a character flaw.

From the Roosevelt years through the Seventies, we defined the American Dream as a good job, a piece of the rock, and the ability to take care of one’s family. Those who lived paycheck to paycheck earned our respect, because hard work and determination were deemed virtuous. These were the people who built America.

We even understood poverty as a condition brought about by circumstance, often historical circumstance far beyond the control of the poor, and we granted those who struggled to overcome it a semblance of nobility. Sure, there were some who chose to fail, and they never gained our sympathy, but most aspired for something better and as a society we acknowledged it.

Today, however, the conservative movement has redefined success and worth in America. Because some of us succeed, conservatives say, there must be something flawed in those who don’t. The American Dream has been redefined as striking it rich, and falling short just isn’t good enough.

It’s a worldview coded into the Bush and Reagan tax cuts, which showered money on the super wealthy under the assumption that these are the real people who know how to build America. Those with money, in other words, contribute more to our nation’s health than those who merely work. They have wisdom and virtue.

And because those who aren’t successful must be responsible for their lack of success, it’s no business of government to be there for them. Thus the president seeks to privatize Social Security and cut other benefits – he calls it an “ownership society,” but in real life that translates to an “on your own society.” If you don’t properly prepare for your future, you have only yourself to blame – this is America, after all, where anyone can succeed.

In the America defined by Bush conservatism, there is no social contract that recognizes our common humanity and the link between success and the society that makes it possible – a social contract that understands hard knocks not as a character flaw but simply as part of life.

Indeed it’s no surprise that the president would prefer to transfer society’s obligations to the faith-based community, because these are institutions built on the notion of forgiving those who are weak and those who sin. If those who fail do so because of a character flaw, then we should send them to those best equipped to redeem them. The government, according to Bush conservatism, should have no part of it.

It’s sad yet fascinating how conservative pundits seized on the small number of looters during Katrina’s aftermath, turning it into the main storyline of the hurricane, as if it provided confirmation for a worldview that asks “What’s wrong with these people” and “Why didn’t they save themselves” and “Why didn’t they evacuate?”

Unstated but understood among these conservatives is the view that Katrina’s victims, many of them at least, are responsible for their misery. Others got out, so why didn’t they? Doesn’t it reveal the same character flaw that makes them poor?

Thus it’s not government’s duty to help them, and thus the initial impassiveness and unresponsiveness of this conservative administration. Only when politics intervened did the president realize the perils of his indifference.

Perhaps the president has an excuse. After all, his own life story follows this conservative narrative. He was a drinker, an irresponsible husband, and he turned his own life around through faith and redemption. If he could overcome his character flaw, why not everyone else?

What he forgets is that he had a safety net of wealth to protect him. Most of us don’t. And what he assumes is that the poor and near poor suffer from character flaws. Most of them don’t, and in fact most of them work hard for what they have.

Whether Katrina will serve as a cultural turning point is yet to be seen. But the hurricane that hit America is only partly due to nature. It’s also a storm created by a conservative ideology that, consciously or not, leads to contempt and indifference toward those not seen as society’s winners.

By Leonard Steinhorn who teaches politics and media at American University, and is the author of the forthcoming book, The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy, to be published by St. Martin's Press in January 2006.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mexican Army Welcome in Texas

Mexico, Latin America and much of the world has long since been at the receiving end of U.S. humanitarian relief efforts. While the humanitarian aid was needed and humbly received and the generosity of the United States government and its people in times of crisis is always extraordinary, the acceptance implies a fundamental failure of the affected government to its citizens. Why does Mexico, Peru or the “other world” allow its people to live along mountains and in valleys that have been devastated by mudslides before? Have they not learned? Do they not care? When earthquakes ravage India or Iran even the untrained eye can see that lax or non-existent building regulations and shoddy construction supplies do more damage than the quake itself. Americans are quick to open their checkbooks and lend their skills and resources to help. That compassion cannot be overstated but it is not self less. We do feel pride that we have the capacity to give. We do feel scorn that these people are allowed to live in squalor and undoubtedly contribute to their condition and in our generosity we shame those governments that should have done more, that should have seen it coming, that should have not let it happen in the first place.

Now we open our hearts, our wallets and give time and energy to help our own. Now the Mexican government has sent a 47-truck convoy along with 183 soldiers and relief supplies north across the Rio Grande. Now the United States government humbly accepts the humanitarian aid from its poor neighbor. Mexico is proud to help the United States and Tejanos are proud to see the convoy make its way up I-35. While the symbolism of the Mexican Military convoy weighs heavier than the aid and relief they are supplying the fact is that we do need their help. All levels of the government failed our brothers and sisters on the Gulf Coast. It is enticing to lay the full blame on Bush, FEMA and other aspects of the federal government but they alone should not shoulder the burden of such a catastrophic failure of common sense and basic human decency. But it is shameful and morally reprehensible that the White House is once again on the offensive deflecting blame. They did fail and they should accept responsibility but it is very unlike Bush, when confronted with sitautions like this one, to show any inkling of honor and compassion and anything that resembles what a normal human being should feel and do.

Hubris felled many a Greek and history has an uncanny ability of repeating itself especially to those ignorant or unwilling to heed its lessons.

The San Antonio Express-News has a great story on the Mexican humanitarian military convoy that arrived in San Antonio yesterday.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Raymond's Former Aide Running for Rep's Seat

Sergio Mora of Laredo is running for state representative. Mora is seeking to replace his former boss US Congressional candidate Richard Raymond. HD 42 encompassed most of Laredo and southwestern parts of Webb County. Mora is the first candidate to announce for Raymond's seat.

Lucio III Seeks to Join Father in Texas Legislature

Eddie Lucio, III is set to announce his candidacy for State Representative, District 38 on Friday. Lucio is seeking the seat of retiring Jim Solis. Harlingen attorney David Gonzales has already announced his intention of running for the seat in the March 2006 Democratic Primary. Steve Talyor's Rio Grande Guardian broke the story.

Austin American-Statesman Reports TAB Indictments

A Travis County grand jury last month indicted the Texas Association of Business and sealed the two felony charges as it continued to investigate allegations that TAB illegally spent corporate money during the 2002 legislative campaign, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The sources did not want to be named because of the confidentiality of the grand jury action.

That grand jury, which has been meeting off and on for weeks, returns today to resume deliberations.

Austin lawyer Roy Minton, who represents the association, said Wednesday night that he was unaware of any indictments, but he accompanied TAB President Bill Hammond on Wednesday for a rare face-to-face meeting with prosecutors outside the grand jury's presence to try to head off criminal charges against the organization or its officers.

Click here for rest of Laylan Copelin's story.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Richard Raymond is Running for Congress

By T.A. BADGER / Associated Press

State Rep. Richard Raymond said Wednesday he will challenge first-term congressman Henry Cuellar, a fellow Laredoan, in the Democratic primary election in U.S. House District 28.

Raymond's presence is expected to create a crowded primary field in March, as former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio — defeated by Cuellar last year in a race marked by bitter accusations of vote fraud — has said he also plans to run for his old seat.

Raymond, who months ago started hinting about taking on Cuellar, labeled the incumbent a closet Republican. He cited, among other things, Cuellar's support of President Bush in 2000 and his tenure as secretary of state under GOP Gov. Rick Perry in 2001.

Read the rest of the story.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina Response Hurt Bush; Likely to Hurt Republicans

Things have been going so badly for Bush, be it gas prices or an incompetent response to the Katrina disaster, that most analysists are thinking fallout for Republicans. This Reuters story explores the possibilities.

Valley Labor Participates in Six Mile March: Farmworkers and Rep. Aaron Pena Highlight Event

Many turned out in the Rio Grande Valley for a six mile pilgrimage from McAllen to the San Juan Basilica in recognition of Labor Day. Former Tejano Democrats Chairman and State Representative Aaron Pena was one who marched the distance at the event. Pro-labor speeches followed by a variety of labor groups. The Valley Farm Workers also participated in the march as many of the marchers carried their recognizable red flag. Rep. Pena who was joined by many members of the clergy took the opportunity to remember the religious implications of the march which ended at a church: "2,000 years ago Jesus preached "revolutionary ideas" that people should love one another. Today those ideas translate into respecting each other, providing fair wages and dignity to all employees."

Father John Lasseigne who also marched added, "This was a march to call for just treatment of workers throughout the Valley," said the pastor of St. John the Baptist. "I think it's a great thing to do on Labor Day to recognize workers who are frequently exploited. I think at the very least we need to be aware of how our choices as consumers affect workers. Even if we make small changes we can make a difference."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Henry Cisneros Comments on the Condition of the Democratic Party

Former SA mayor Henry Cisneros made comments to Associated Press regarding his observations of the Democratic Party. Here is the story.

The Dallas Morning News also has the story here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Can't-Do Government

By Paul Krugman
NY Times

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared? After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

Click here for more

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Could the Devastation in the Gulf Coast Been Prevented?

By Sidney Blumenthal
Former Clinton Adviser

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken.

Click here for the rest of the story.