Monday, March 1, 2010

What's REALLY Important to Texas Republicans?

So, last week during early voting, I voted- for the first time in my life- in the Republican primary.

At some point the slimy feeling will wash off my body.

I voted in the GOP primary for two reasons: to support a Justice of the Peace candidate who has been very helpful to my family in recent years, and because there is no Democratic candidate for County Judge from the Democratic Party. (And the only ballot-qualified third party in Texas, the Libertarians, is no longer functional in Polk County, and hasn't been since I quit that party.)

The County Judge, in Texas government, is effectively the chief executive of county government. He presides over the Commissioners' Court- four or more (always an even number) representatives of districts throughout the county, who are responsible for basic county services in those districts. The County Judge sets the agenda, drives negotiations with business, and does such few executive tasks as devolve onto county-level government.

The incumbent, John Thompson, changed from a Democrat to a Republican five years ago, foreseeing that if he didn't he'd lose his job. His opponent, Kathie Freeman, is the wife of former Republican Party chair Danny Freeman, a long-time Republican stalwart.

Kathie Freeman did not impress me much, especially her performance in debates and public events as presented in what passes for our local county news media. I apologize for the horrible formatting, or lack thereof, of the source material, but here's the important points about Kathie Freeman:

Kathie Freeman concentrated her remarks on the need for cuts to the county budget and her belief Polk County should look closely before accepting funds from state or federal agencies, and should move toward being self-sufficient. Money from the state and federal governments is not “free money,” Freeman pointed out, and it “ultimately comes out of our pockets. I hope we could survive without that and we need to cut it out."

"Now that more than a year has passed since Ike made landfall, maybe it’s time for people to take responsibility for themselves and stop waiting for people to give them money," Freeman added.

. . .

Freeman also took credit for creating the Polk County Republican Club, an issue that has ruffled the feathers of businessman Doug Borie who has documentary evidence that his mother, Eloise Borie, led a Republican club here in the 1980s.

Freeman’s answer to the final question of the night shocked several county employees in the audience. “It seems to me county employees don’t have pride in the county,” Freeman said. “They’re just working there and that’s it. They need incentives. Let them clean up the community. Maybe we can cut their hours. There are always things that can be cut. Without looking at their hours, I don’t know what people are doing.”

. . .

Answering questions about procedures at the Polk Central Appraisal District and the recent 20 percent value increase for waterfront property, Thompson said he would defer to Freeman to explain the process since she spent four years on the PCAD board of directors. Freeman said the board of directors’ authority is limited to hiring and firing the chief appraiser. Later Freeman said the board does vote on the PCAD budget and she had fought to cut that budget, but did not get support from other directors.

The Polk County Enterprise version of this story goes on to add that other members of the appraisal district board, who served at the meeting, disputed Freeman's claims during the debate, forcing her to backtrack- only, apparently, to lie yet again.

So... a liar who tells lies so blatant that they can be INSTANTLY refuted, then responds with new lies... and whose idea of "motivating" employees is to cut their hours, cut their salaries, and force them to go out on trash pickup duty...

... sadly, as the preponderance of letters to the editor of another "news" source indicate, there's a very good chance such a person is exactly what Polk County Republicans want. It's not just Sarah Palin, y'all; it's an entire political movement.

But we'll find out about that tomorrow. That's not why I'm writing this.

When I voted in that Republican primary, I also voted on the five resolutions the Republican Party put on their ballot. These resolutions are usually either trial balloons or rally-the-troops efforts ahead of the state convention, so that those who run the party can demonstrate the support their declared positions have.

Here, from this source, are the five resolutions:

Ballot Proposition 1: Photo ID

The Texas legislature should make it a priority to protect the integrity of our election process by enacting legislation that requires voters to provide valid photo identification in order to cast a ballot in any and all elections conducted in the State of Texas.

Ballot Proposition 2: Controlling Government Growth

Every government body in Texas should be required to limit any annual increase in its budget and spending to the combined increase of population and inflation unless it first gets voter approval to exceed the allowed annual growth or in the case of an official emergency.

Ballot Proposition 3: Cutting Federal Income Taxes

In addition to aggressively eliminating irresponsible federal spending, Congress should empower American citizens to stimulate the economy by Congress cutting federal income taxes for all federal taxpayers, rather than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on so-called "federal economic stimulus".

Ballot Proposition 4: Public Acknowledgement of God

The use of the word "God", prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.

Ballot Proposition 5: Sonograms

The Texas Legislature should enact legislation requiring a sonogram to be performed and shown to each mother about to undergo a medically unnecessary, elective abortion.

... well, of COURSE I voted against all of them. Want an explanation why? Good, because you're getting one.


This is just part of an ongoing effort to discourage non-whites from voting. You already have to show photo ID to vote if you forget to bring your voter ID card to the polls. You shouldn't need to show the ID if you also have your voter ID. The net result will be to discourage minority-race people, who (justifiably) fear harrassment by mostly-white Texas cops and officials, from showing up to the polls to vote... which, in turn, means white Republican rule is strengthened.


This is the same snake-oil Grover Norquist and his ilk have been pushing for the past thirty years- and it doesn't work. Look at California, where the Republicans managed to institute a requirement that two-thirds of their legislature is required to approve tax hikes. The state, despite massive budget cuts, prison overcrowding, and neglect of infrastructure, is rapidly going broke. Expenses can rapidly outstrip the growth of inflation or of the population, even without an "official emergency." This cap on budget growth is an irresponsible effort to "starve the beast", where the beast is government... the eventual goal, of course, to kill the beast altogether, and vital services be damned.


Um... without the stimulus package, we would be in a new Great Depression right now. Sadly, my Congressman, Kevin Brady, recently released a press statement claiming that the Recovery Act caused the loss of over four million jobs in the year since its passage- which, although easily disproven bullshit, plays well with the Republican base. There is also the fact that these "stimulative" income tax cuts the Republicans propose are almost entirely for the highest tax bracket- and utterly ignore those poor enough to pay little or no income tax whatever.


The Republicans refuse to recognize a simple fact: that atheism, paganism, Islam, Buddhism, and other religions have the same moral right to respect as Christianity. As such, they see no reason whatever not to force people at government events to acknowledge God, or to spend taxpayer dollars to acknowledge God (and, as former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore did, to ban other religious or secular displays that would compete with monuments to God). In short, Republicans have no respect whatever for people who believe differently from themselves- and are quite happy to shove their religion into those people's faces.


Not only is this a naked attempt to scare or intimidate women into not having abortions, but it's also a major expense added on to all abortions. Sonograms can cost from $500 to $2000 depending on who performs them. A basic first-trimester abortion costs, on the average, only about $500 to $1000 by itself. The most striking thing about this proposition is that, unlike other Republican positions of the past, it avoids calling for a direct, immediate and total ban on all abortions.

So, what's most important to Texas Republicans this election season? Abortion, enforced religion, cutting taxes for the rich while cutting services and aid to the poor, and keeping non-whites away from the voting booth.

Yes, nice to see that Republicans, face with fewer jobs, higher costs of living, more people falling into poverty, disintegrating infrastructure, underperforming education systems, and a gradual social and economic drift towards Third World conditions, knows precisely what they think is more important than any of those things.

What I don't know is this: why would I, or any halfway intelligent person, want these people running government?

(BTW, I voted- as promised- for Debra Medina for Republican nominee for governor. Tomorrow's primary day- if you haven't voted yet, by all means go and do so- and vote Republican, for the worst candidates you can find. Let's see if the Democrats can find one or two candidates who won't fuck up, who might actually manage to win... and then, once in office, actually spend time undoing all the shit the Republicans have been doing the past twenty-thirty years.)

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