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In Texas, Beto O’Rourke loses the race for Senate but still makes a mark

' WP `11-7-18 Ed Rosenburg

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) beat Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D- Tex.) in a competitive
race that gained national attention on Nov. 6.
(Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Beto O’Rourke fell short Tuesday in his quest to oust Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, but by coming within a few points in deeply conservative Texas and building a national fundraising machine, he emerged as a major player in the Democratic Party heading into 2020.

But O’Rourke’s surprisingly strong performance was the best in decades by a Democratic Senate candidate in Texas. With 60 percent of precincts reporting, O’Rourke was trailing Cruz by just three percentage points, outperforming Hillary Clinton’s showing against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign.

O’Rourke also sparked an enthusiastic movement that appeared to help boost support for Democrats in key House races in the suburbs of Houston and Dallas and along the Mexican border.

Texas Officials Forcing Hurricane Victims to Pledge Loyalty to Israel to Receive Funding—Seriously According to official documents, Hurricane Harvey victims reportedly have to agree to not "boycott Israel," in order to receive aid to rebuild their homes.

As the Americans who were affected by Hurricane Harvey attempt to rebuild their homes and replace their belongings, they have the option to request help from the city they live in—but residents in Dickinson, Texas, are learning that their city’s “Harvey Repair Grant” comes with a strange clause.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement criticizing the requirement and noting that while “the city appears to be enforcing a recently passed Texas law that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel,” it is still a clear violation of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled on the “right to boycott” in the 1982 case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. As the ACLU noted, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the NAACP’s decision to boycott a Mississippi business to protest segregation and racial injustice was “a protected form of free association and free expression,” based on the fact that “political boycotts empower individuals to collectively express their dissatisfaction with the status quo and advocate for political, social, and economic change. These are precisely the freedoms the Constitution is meant to protect.”

As The Free Thought Project reported in July, the United States Congress is currently considering the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it a crime to “boycott Israel” that could lead to “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.”

In addition to the problems that stem from the fact that requiring Americans to agree to not “boycott Israel” is in direct violation of their rights to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, it is also a broad term that can be defined in a number of ways.

Does agreeing not to boycott Israel mean that one specifically agrees not to support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement against Israel, or can the meaning be as broad as to include that one agrees to not criticize the Israeli government, the blockade it has imposed on Palestine, or even the nearly $4 Billion the U.S. sends Israel in military assistance each year?

Email from Planned Parenthood, 8/10/17

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives voted along party lines to advance another cruel and dangerous attack on reproductive health and rights. HB 214 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) would ban private insurance companies from providing health coverage for abortion unless a woman purchases a supplemental policy on top of her existing health insurance.

John Smithee, asshole

During floor debate, extremists rejected an amendment that would have provided an exemption for victims of rape and incest and an amendment exempting fetal abnormalities. Rep. Smithee insisted this bill was about his "personal preference" and "economic freedom" to not pay into insurance plans that cover this critical reproductive health care for pregnant women regardless of her circumstances.

What's even more appalling: There are dozens of equally extreme politicians in the Legislature who agree with Rep. Smithee.

Climate disaster maps shows Texas is clearly the most apocalyptic state in the nation

Worst storm disasters

Worst drought disasters

Worst heat and weather disasters

Texas Has The Highest Maternal Mortality Rate, Not Just In The US, But In The Entire Developed World

Massive budget cuts to Texas’s health care system are finally starting to show as a study by the University of Maryland reveals that their maternal mortality rate has increased drastically within the past decade. Still, Texas lawmakers have yet to make any major strives towards fixing this issue.

Texas just lost a major convention because of the racist 'show me your papers' law Immigrant and civil rights advocates warned Texas Republicans to expect not just legal repercussions to the state’s racist “show me your papers” legislation, but economic blowback as well. Earlier today, a 15,000-strong legal organization became the first group to pull its convention from the state:

The American Immigration Lawyers Association was scheduled to hold its 3-day event in Grapevine next year, but said the bill’s “dangerous, destructive and counter productive proposals” go against the group’s mission. About 3,000 people were expected to attend the convention.

ACLU: OPPOSE GOV. ABBOTT'S EXTREMIST AGENDA 6/8/17. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a must-pass bill hostage in order to force a special session, and Gov. Abbott capitulated and gave extremist lawmakers everything on their wish list. Starting July 18, the Texas Legislature will reconvene to consider a revived anti-transgender "bathroom bill," school vouchers, and several harsh new measures that will restrict access to abortion in Texas.

Legislators failed to pass these extremist laws during the regular session, and Texans ''t want them now. But we must keep the pressure on our senators and representatives if we are to prevent these measures from becoming law.

Letter: Gov. Abbott's special session agenda constitutes an assault on women, schoolchildren, and transgender Texans. Specifically, he wants to pass laws that fund school vouchers, drive our transgender neighbors out of public spaces and public life, and severely restrict a woman's constitutional right to abortion access. It's unfair, unwelcome, and un-Texan.


From Gotham to isolated, code & debt-free West Texas estate S. Brewster county. Really cheap to buy land and live. Did because of debt.

Texas is leading the right-wing crusade to strip Planned Parenthood of all government funding. 1/31/17

Top 10 Worst Texans of 2016 #10 - Texas Republicans in Congress They want to build Trump’s border wall, dismantle the Affordable Care Act, gut social security, '’t believe in science, and want to save us from gay space colonies.

#9 - Rick Perry Trump’s pick for Energy Secretary after he called Trump a “barking carnival act.”

#8 - Republican Party of Texas Platform From limiting voting rights in Texas to telling LGBTQ Texans to seek reparative therapy, the RPT platform is the backbone for the worst policies of all Texas Republicans.

#7 - State Sen. Jane Nelson Her decades-long refusal to take meaningful action about the state’s foster care system easily makes her one of the worst Texans of 2016.

#6 - Anti-Abortion Extremist Carol Everett Her anti-abortion organization received $1.6 million in taxpayer dollars to provide reproductive health care services — services her organization has no record of providing.

#5 - Ken Paxton He used taxpayer dollars as hush money to silence former employees, and spent more money defending Texas’ voter ID law than the state spent to tell voters what they need to vote.

#4 - Greg Abbott Abbott proposed and passed a twisted rule to force women to bury fetal tissue, and as a major defender of Trump, Abbott echoed Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric by continuing his fake-news fight against sanctuary cities.

#3 - Ted Cruz After he lost, rebuked Trump, endorsed Trump, then thought about un-endorsing Trump, and lost all relevancy, he couldn’t even answer the question - “Why is Texas queso good?”

#2 - Sid Miller Trump’s #2 supporter in Texas, Miller called Hillary Clinton a “c-word” and used taxpayer money to get a “Jesus Shot” in Oklahoma.

#1 - Dan Patrick He blamed the #BlackLivesMatter movement on the Dallas police shooting, is obsessed with bathrooms, wants to deny basic rights to LGBTQ Texans, suggested Ted Cruz serve on the Supreme Court, only believes in local control he controls, wants to privatize education, and described the Supreme Court ruling in defense of abortion access as a total “devastation.”

Is it a crime to be poor in Texas?

Too many Texans are punished because they ''t have surplus money in the bank. Inability to pay fines can lead to additional fees, suspension of driver's licenses, and incarceration. In any given month, about 30,000 Texans sit in jail because they can't afford to post their bonds. And in many Texas cities, it is effectively illegal to be homeless.

In Texas, local governments depend on revenue from traffic tickets and petty infractions. As a result, they often pad their budgets by tacking on fines and fees, and threaten those who can't pay with jail time. For many Texans who live paycheck to paycheck, this can mean crippling debt and the loss of employment, family, and freedom.

-ACLU of Texas

Meet Scientology’s Favorite GOP Governor: Why Greg Abbott Is More Dangerous Than George W. Bush & Rick Perry Abbott recently vetoed mental legislation, after reportedly being lobbied by Scientology.

Following the late great Democratic Gov. Ann Richards, Texas has developed a notorious reputation for electing governors who have no real business presiding over anything more important than a pie-eating contest. George W. Bush and Rick Perry were, at the end of the day, the same guy: nauseously conservative and each one battling it out to join Sarah Palin as several of the dumbest former governors ever to have occupied a state capital.

Then along came Greg Abbott.

Abbott, the current governor of Texas, is not necessarily a Perry- or Bush-style idiot in the traditional sense; and, frankly, his conservatism isn’t actually his most disturbing character trait, though his conservatism is awful, to be sure. (For example, last month, Abbott signed an anti-choice bill into law making it impossible to get an abortion without proof of age and identity.) The most disturbing thing about Abbott is that he’s missing a part inside his lizard brain that weeds out crazy conspiracy theories for the fiction they are. This glitch also has led him to pal around with some nefariously fringe characters along the way.

Kossacks are taking over Texas

Texas continues to make history: highest uninsured rate in the country, “activist” judges blocking deportation relief for undocumented Texans, sweetheart deals for corporations, fracking related earthquakes...the list goes on... Texas Republicans have made it clear that they want a state without the complications of democracy, liberty and opportunity.

Police Can Just Take Your Money, Car and Other Property — and Good Luck Getting It Back Asset forfeiture provides insidious incentives for police to apprehend people. Here are 4 states with some of the greediest police forces. by Asron Cantu. Alternet. 6/18/14.


Total assets seized in 2013: $106,927,691

The Lone Star state, that free-market paradise where government is anathema to basic civic values, actually shakes down average people of millions of dollars in assets with relative impunity and ease.

The Institute for Justice found that the ten Texas agencies that used civil asset forfeiture the most “take in about 37 percent of their budgets in forfeiture funds.” Their report also found that rural (read: poor) agencies were some of the most brazen looters, even as the state claimed the large number of seizures was due to urban agencies apprehending large-scale drug traffickers.

Links on Texas

WATCH: Rachel Maddow on Why You Shouldn't Dismiss Perry Indictment more stories below.

What the Pundits '’t Get About the Rick Perry Indictment “The governor is doing a pretty good job to try to make this about [Lehmberg] and her DWI conviction. But this has never been about his veto of her budget and about her. This is about his abuse of power and his coercion trying to get another public citizen to give up their job.”...

Five Things to Know About Perry Indictment

Texas Journalists Urge National Press To Take Perry Case More Seriously

Grand jurors deny politics played role in Perry indictment

Editorial: Rick Perry’s indictment damages governor and the state

Texas Nationalist Movement

Green Party of Texas

Green Party

Battleground Texas

Privatization Watch a daily news blog covering privatization, and is a joint project of Essential Information and The Center for Study of Responsive Law.

Texas Public Citizen Ralph Nader.

Austin History Center from the Austin Public Library - over one million items, including a history of the construction of the capital, and the history of Victorian architecture in the city
Bexar County Homepage
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Virtual Field Trip --very informative, from Dr. Bruce Herbert
Clean Up Texas Politics the latest on Texas political scandals and the citizen movement to clean up Texas politics
Coastal Issues Texas Wetland Information Network
COUNTRY LIVING page of links
Death Row Information from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Democratic Party of Texas
''t Mess With Texas
Edwards Aquifer Homepage
Free Public Records Directory the largest directory of links to free public record databases on the Internet. Find business information, corporate filings, property records, unclaimed property, professional licenses, offenders, inmates, criminal and civil court filings, and much more. Most of the links are free, but there are some pay services
Gammel's The Laws of Texas (Volumes 1-10) published over 100 years ago and never reprinted; invaluable for history researchers; includes documents from the time of colonization through statehood - congressional and legislative sessions, constitutions, selected journals of the constitutional conventions, and early colonization laws
Gotcha Program report littering in Texas
Green Party of Texas source for alternative news
Handbook of Texas Online
Herps of Texas (lizards, turtles, snakes, crocodiles, salamanders, frogs and toads
Keep Texas Beautiful
Lexis State Resource Guide extensive links to state offices and laws
Libertarian Party of Texas
Littering - Gotcha Program report littering in Texas
MSN Terra Server detailed photographs from the air
New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
Republican Party of Texas

Texas Air Monitoring Sites location information
Texas Air Quality - The Metro Areas
Texas Animal Friendly License Plates order here - $20 of the fee goes to animal shelters around the state
Texas Economic and Population Growth Data (Window on State Government)
Texas Forest Service
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board homepage
Texas History (Lone Star Junction)
Texas Homeland Security links, situation reports
Texas Hourly Data by Pollutant default is ozone level
Texas, The New Handbook of

Article by Rex Field (PAC faculty) on University of Texas--Pan American
Article by Roberta Ziegler (PAC faculty) on Karnes City
Texas Observer covers issues ignored or under-reported by the mainstream press; promotes democratic participation and open government
Texas Small Town History Project stories and pictures of small towns around San Antonio - Rob Hines History class projects
Texas State Data Center
Texas State Government Information
Texas State Library & Archives
Texas - Today's Ozone Forecast by Metro Area for Texas
Texas Tourism site traveltex.com
Texas Watch advocacy group taking a stand against special interest lobbyists - the insurance industry promised that if Texans passed tort reform, doctors' malpractice insurance rates would be reduced 16%; Texans voted for tort reform but instead of decreasing rates they are now asking for huge increases in the rates
Texas Water Conservation Task Force
Texas Wildlife Damage Management Service

San Antonio

San Antonio, City of
More SAN ANTONIO links

State Income Tax

Why a state income tax might save you money and improve education. No, really.

"...many Texans privately thank their maker that we're one of only nine states without an income tax. No extra forms, no worrying about forking over additional money to a state agency, no added hassle.

"That is, unless you're a public school teacher wondering why your salary is so far below the national average or you're a school district administrator trying to figure out why your budget can't pay for art classes anymore or you're a home-owner coping with property taxes that have doubled since you bought your house. The root of these problems is structural: Our outdated tax system delivers too little revenue to state coffers. That means the Legislature spends far too little on public schools; Texas ranks 38th nationally in average spending per student, and that ranking has been heading south lately. To compensate for meager education monies from the Capital, local governments have hiked property taxes as high as possible. That's a terribly inefficient way to fund school: Texans pay some of the highest property tax rates in the country, and in return, we're getting a consistently cash-starved school system...

"We know what you're thinking: Here comes the liberal hard sell that we all need to pay more taxes to boost the public schools, save our children, yadda, yadda, yadda. But therein lies the twist. Under a state income tax, you would likely pay less in state taxes. Study after study shows that a state income tax would give the majority of Texans a net tax cut and still provide several billion dollars more for education...

"He's crunched the numbers many times and says the income tax is clearly the best way help abate two of the main problems he sees with the Texas tax structure. First, the current system will never generate the revenue the state needs for education, and second, the money it does bring in comes disproportionately from middle- and low-income families... The system relies too heavily on taxing goods (sales tax) and land (property taxes)...

"The other problem Lavine sees is the system's astounding inequity. According to the state comptroller's office, if you earn $20,000 a year, you pay 12 percent of your income in various state taxes (those making just $12,000 a year--basically at the poverty line--fork over 14 percent). But if you earn $177,000 or more, you pay just 5 percent to the state. That's the magic of relying so heavily on sales and property taxes--two of the most regressive taxes around...

"Bob Bullock, the late lite gov. and comptroller. In 1991... he pushed through a constitutional amendment... Bullock's amendment requires that two-thirds of all the revenue raised through an income tax go toward cutting property taxes. The other third must fund public schools. That's in the constitution. So legislators couldn't raid income-tax revenue for any other spending goodies unless they first amended the constitution (that ain't gonna happen). Lawmakers couldn't just hike the income-tax rate willy-nilly, either. Bullock's amendment specifies that once implemented, a state income tax can't be increased unless voters approve a rate hike at the polls. It would be the only tax over which the public had control...

"Sullivan and Schlomach favor consumption levies like the sales tax because it's a more "visible" tax, meaning that people see the tax every day when they buy goods. TPPF disputes the notion that the sales tax is regressive. They argue that poorer folks spend less money and therefore probably pay less sales tax. "When my kids need new jeans, we buy them at Wal-Mart," Sullivan says. "When people who make more money than me buy jeans, they buy them at the Gap. Who do you think pays more sales tax?

"But Lavine says the real question is what percentage of our income goes to buy a pair of jeans. Poorer families inevitably spend a higher percentage of their income on goods and pay a higher percentage of their income in sales taxes. As for an income tax harming the economy, he notes that 41 other states have income taxes, and many of their economies are just fine. In fact, many other states are better positioned than Texas because they spend handsomely on schools and will produce a better-educated workforce" (Dave Mann. "The Best Idea They Won't Talk About." Texas Observer, April 21, 2006: 6-7, 18).

"Bush's National Park Service announced this February that it would allow BNP Petroleum Corporation to drill for natural gas on Padre Island National Seashore. This will put pipelines, heavy equipment, and large trucks on the longest undeveloped beach in America... It will hurt tourism, the ecosystem, wildlife, and local businesses -- all so one oil corporation can plunder a minor gas deposit that amounts to only one day's worth of fuel for America" (Jim Hightower. "Walking On Air." Texas Observer, 5/21/04: 15).

"...in Texas, a country -- oops, make that a state -- where supporting "anti-evolution" gets you elected to school boards, common sense is at a dire premium... publish ideaologically tainted textbooks unconcerned with hard science..." (James E. McWilliams. "When Bovines Go Bad." Texas Observer, 8/13/04: 24-25).

"...in Texas, a country -- oops, make that a state -- where supporting "anti-evolution" gets you elected to school boards, common sense is at a dire premium... publish ideaologically tainted textbooks unconcerned with hard science..." (James E. McWilliams. "When Bovines Go Bad." Texas Observer, 8/13/04: 24-25).

"Bush's National Park Service announced this February that it would allow BNP Petroleum Corporation to drill for natural gas on Padre Island National Seashore. This will put pipelines, heavy equipment, and large trucks on the longest undeveloped beach in America... It will hurt tourism, the ecosystem, wildlife, and local businesses -- all so one oil corporation can plunder a minor gas deposit that amounts to only one day's worth of fuel for America" (Jim Hightower. "Walking On Air." Texas Observer, 5/21/04: 15).

"Texas leads the nation in mercury pollution... Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, especially for young and unborn children... linked to learning disabilities, brain damage, and, in rare instances, death...

"Currently, however, the state does not routinely test fish for elevated mercury levels" ("Bidness Rules, But ''t Eat the Fish." Texas Observer, Feb. 4, 2005: 4).

"Did you know that since January 1, women in Texas have not been able to obtain abortions from the sixteenth week of pregnancy on?...

"HB15 is a flagrant violation of Roe v. Wade, which allows states to regulate second-trimester abortions only to protect women's health" (Katha Pollitt. "Down and Out in Texas." The Nation, May 10, 2004: 9).

"I believe the homebuilding industry is the source of all that is wrong with this [Texas] state in terms of tort reform and the influence of money in politics" ("Letters." Texas Observer ,Feb. 18, 2005: 2).

"... House Speaker Tom Craddick... Craddick is most certainly a creature of ideology... the speaker literally switched off Wolens' microphone in a floor debate...

"...when he announced new committee assignments. The choices showed a remarkable amount of vindictiveness... mob-rule legislating" ("UndemoCraddick." Texas Observer, Feb. 18, 2005: 3).

"In June 2003... Governor Rick Perry abolished an entire agency with a line-item veto... Perry's action will likely end up costing the state much more than that. For an institution that was unique in the nation, the agency had a rather bland name--the Criminal Justice Policy Council. It had started in 1984 as a council of elected officials tasked with forcing agencies dealing with the criminal justice system to work together...

"Over two decades Fabelo would transform the council into an unbiased source of data and planning for one of the largest prison systems in the world. The council studied everything from prison costs and upkeep to the effectiveness of drug treatment programs. Astoundingly, 1 out of every 20 Texans are under the control of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice either in prison, parole, or on probation. Fabelo created order from chaos...

"...it was Fabelo's appraisal of privatization--grounded in realism and not ideology [which cause Perry to kill his agency]...

"We have about the same prison population as California, [which] has 13 million more people. And that gives you a sense of how high our incarceration rate is...

"Right now with the highest incarceration rate in the country... If we build more prisons... are you going to get dramatic declines in crime? The answer is no...

"The probation system in Texas is not a very effective system... The caseloads [for probation officers] are 100 to 116 for felony probations...

"...if you're a probationer... you ''t get a lot of attention that can help you get out of trouble. In particular, attention with employement problems, substance abuse problems, and so forth. On the other hand, if you're doing well on probation, you stay on probation forever because you're paying fees... Half of the funding of the system comes from fees paid by probationers...

Question: What would the ideal caseload for probation officers look like?

"It variees. Some people say seven" (Jake Bernstein. "They Shot More Than a Messenger." Texas Observer, Feb. 18, 2005: 6-7).

"...Waste Control Specialists (WCS), backed by Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons...

"... its mammoth site in Andrews County, near the New Mexico border... fledgling radioactive empire in West Texas...

"...licenses would allow WCS to being accepting the leftovers from a retired bomb plant in Fernald, Ohio... would also allow WCS to permanently dispose of Texas' (and other states') commercial radioactive waste as well as federal low-level radioactive waste...

"The state and the people of Texas, however, won't receive a cent on most of this revenue...

"According to an official with TCEQ, WCS was recently issued its "third notice of administrative deficiency." If not corrected, WCS would have to start the licensing process all over again...

"Nevada.. is still fighting to rid itself of the Yucca Mountain high-level waste site... Utah, which is home to WCS's long-time rival Envirocare, has been moving away from radioactive dumping due to public opposition... South Carolina is eliminating the importation of the most radioactive of the low-level waste despite its generating an estimated $300 million in revenue for the state. That leaves WCS holding a virtual monopoly...

"...why can't the depleted uranium just stay in New Mexico? Simple: The state and its people ''t want it.

"WCS is promoting its various radioactive ventures as a popular jobs program for West Texas and a chance for Texas to seize the market in "an emerging industry" (Forrest Wilder. "Going Nuclear in West Texas." Texas Observer, Feb. 18, 2005: 10-11, 19).

"In recent years, Texas Republican politics--aside from an occasional spasm from the right-wing grassroots--has been a top-down enterprise run by a small circle of powerful politicians financed by a few extremely rich ideologues...

"Pitted against Craddick and the handful of millionaires who bankroll the Legislature's right-wing leadership, a collection of volunteer soccer moms didn't seem to have much of a chance.

"Yet, on March 7--the night of perhaps the most influential Republican primary ever in Texas--there they were, crowded into an Arlington dive bar named J. Gilligan's to celebrate a resounding triumph in the state's headliner race. Diane Patrick, a University of Texas-Arlington Professor, had handily defeated state Rep. Kent Grusendorf (R-Arlington), a 19-year House incumbent and powerful chairman of the House Education Committee. As the face of the right-wing's master plan for education, Grusendorf was Parent PAC's top target. He was the man who treated school superintendents and PTA members as if they were trifling little annoyances, going so far as to introduce a group of PTA members about to testify at a committee hearing as "a look behind the Iron Curtain." And now they had taken him out" (Dave Mann. "Wrath of the Soccer Moms." Texas Observer, March 24, 2006: 6-9, 18).

Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS