Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup September 21, 2015

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy and balanced equinox as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff stands with Ahmed.

Socratic Gadfly turns a bit of a skeptical eye to European panic over the “refugee crisis” and provides some critical analysis of how it’s being handled.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos tried her very best to watch the second GOP Presidential debate but she just couldn’t take it anymore. She hung in there for two hours and twenty minutes. GOP Presidential Debate: A Trip Back to the Twilight Zone

Tired of watching Bernie Sanders surge, Clinton surrogates grabbed the ‘socialist’ brush and started smearing him. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is pretty certain that this is how it’s going to go until the Sanders campaign no longer represents a threat to her coronation nomination.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. It’s becoming clear that the GOP in Texas has no problem with the cuts to Medicaid therapy. They just don’t want to be blamed for it, Abbott, GOP Want Cuts, But No Blame.

Neil at All People Have Value said that Alexander Hamilton should remain on the $10 bill. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The TSTA Blog salutes education reporter Terrence Stutz on his retirement.

Paradise in Hell annotates Donald Trump’s Texas speech, and celebrates its first year of blogging.

Texas Clean Air Matters explains why parents should care about climate change.

David Ortez reports from a Houston Mayoral forum on issues facing younger voters.

Danyahel Norris illustrates the importance of Houston’s equal rights ordinance.

Finally, the TPA congratulates Lize Burr on her new positions as Editor and Publisher of the Burnt Orange Report.

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To The Gaslamp: Don’t Use Me As Your Excuse to be Racist

The story is depressingly familiar:

My name is Brandon Ball. I am 32 years old. I am African American. Tonight I was with my friends Dan Scarbrough (42) and Ken Piggee (43). Both are also African American. We were in the Midtown area of Houston, TX tonight and tried to go into The Gaslamp. Both Dan and Ken had on blazers. I had on a button up and slacks. When we walked up the guy at the door told us $20 each (pictured below in the long sleeve shirt). We didn’t want to pay that amount so we decided to go to the next bar down, The Dogwood, which was free.

After about 30 minutes we left The Dogwood and were walking back. As we passed The Gaslamp we noticed folks walking into The Gaslamp without having to pay. Those folks who didn’t have to pay were white. I brought this to Dan’s attention a few minutes later and he said we should go back and just watch from across the street to see if there was some “funny business” going on.

Ken, Dan, and I went back and watched from across the street as the guys who were working the front door of The Gaslamp (pictured) allowed white people to come in one after the other. Every black person who we watched try to go in was told there was a $20 cover or that their attire was not proper. One black guy was told that he could not get in because he had on Polo Boots.

Dan spoke to several people who were told there was a $20 cover and they pretty much all said the same thing. It was not just blacks they were charging. It was people of both Asian and Latin decent.

Don’t even try to tell me this was about anything other than race. Too many people I know have heard other verses of this pathetic song. I have direct experience with two bars in the past three years expressing very directly that the music being played needed to change because it was attracting people the bar didn’t want. In the context of those particular episodes, the people not wanted were Black and Latinx, or, in the words of the management of each place, “urban” and “Mexican.”


Back to The Gaslamp. The bar’s attorney posted a really odd video that seems to make the case that:

  1. If people want to be able to fight discrimination, they should vote for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (vote YES on Prop. 1) this November.
  2. The bar’s management wants to be known as assholes (their word, not mine) with a highly selective door policy.
  3. They’re going to do us all the favor of codifying the rules they’re playing by as far as attire, cover charge, number of people in a party who have to be female for the rules to be bent, etc., so we’ll all know what proxies they use for skin color when making decisions at the door.

The whole episode, start to finish, is disgusting. That any business thinks discrimination is an acceptable or defensible business model infuriates me. That friends of my friends were treated this way at The Gaslamp, and that friends of mine get treated like this all of the time, turns my face purple with rage.

What I’m about to say is as unoriginal as the story that started this piece. I shouldn’t have to say it, except that after watching this video, I can tell that it has to be said yet again.

The attorney explains in the video one reason they won’t let just anyone in, and it is a really, really, really old, tired, offensive story:

We will tell you that you need some girls, and that this isn’t bros night out, because we don’t want you creeping out the girls that we already have inside.

I’d like to make one thing especially clear. Do not use me to justify your discrimination.

White men have a deplorable, violent, and deadly history of justifying their discrimination by claiming they’re just protecting the white womenfolk from the sexual advances of Black men.

I can’t even pick a link to share about this—there are literally tens of thousands of essays from just the past couple of years alone.

Charleston, South Carolina.

Money, Mississippi.

Over and over again.

So, to The Gaslamp and any other bar or club in Houston trying to explain away your racist door policies by saying you’re just trying to maintain a safe balance of women and men in your club, stop.

Just stop.

Don’t say it, and don’t try to pretend that’s what you are doing, and don’t make this about me.

It isn’t about me.

It is about you and your racist door policies and the grave insult and threat your behavior is to men in our city.

Posted in feminists & feminism, Houston | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup August 3, 2015

The Texas Progressive Alliance prefers Attorneys General who aren’t themselves lawbreakers as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is dismayed but not surprised by the business community’s apathy about the coming effects of climate change in Texas.

Ken Paxton’s indictments broke news on Saturday afternoon, about 24 hours later than PDiddie at Brains and Eggs predicted. The one remaining question is: how long does our lazy-eyed attorney general twist in the wind before Gov. Greg Abbott cuts down his stinking carcass?

Nonsequiteuse is concerned we may never get back through the looking glass. She realizes that facts are a quaint vestige of simpler times, but cannot resist offering not one but five of them, plus a conclusion, an opinion, and even a bonus prediction about Ken Paxton’s pending felony indictment, words that give her great delight to type over and over and over again.

Socratic Gadfly talks about the initial rollout of Congress’ “new” energy plan and how so little of it is new.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme say you can thank Ronald Reagan and his greedy friends for all of the mentally ill people out on the streets. An Edinburg woman is a widow thanks to Ronnie and the new, militarized police.

Neil at All People Have Value made note of former President Carter referring to the U.S. as an oligarchy. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock analyzes the Donald Trump-inspired proxy war between Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.

Lone Star Ma prays for peace and justice.

David Ortez explains what the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is and why it matters.

Street Smart shows how sacrificing the local street grid for highways can be devastating to the surrounding area.

The Texas Election Law Blog has some hope for restoring regulatory balance to the voting rights process.

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¡Basta de Mentiras!

Watching Sen. John Cornyn and others beat up on the truth when talking about Planned Parenthood in yesterday’s debate over S.1881, which they lost, made me realize that there is no more perfect description of the GOP, and title for a book, than Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. 

I wanted to scream! I wanted to throw things! I wanted to have my rebuttal time with all of the charts and graphs and data that would disprove every last thing those anti-abortion, anti-equality, anti-American liars were saying. Enough with the lies! Americans deserve the truth! And Republicans can’t handle the truth!

What I did instead was write a blog post about it on Burnt Orange Report, which you can read over there.

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But Money’s Fungible! Another Planned Parenthood & Federal Funds Myth Explained

Since 1976, neither Planned Parenthood nor any other healthcare provider has received federal Medicaid funds for the provision of abortion services, except in very rare instances of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.

[By the way, even in those rare instances—rape, incest, life of the mother—clinics rarely receive reimbursement, or even apply, because the process is so onerous and the reimbursement so minimal.]

Cutting federal funds for Planned Parenthood, therefore, does not cut funds for abortion. It cuts funds for other medical services, like birth control (except abortion, as we’ve mentioned), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, cancer screening and early treatment, and even vasectomies.

But money’s fungible!

Helpful men on the internet have been saying this to me all day.

The point they are trying to make is this:

  • A group needs pens and pencils, but they only have $100, enough for either pens or pencils, but not both.
  • The federal government gives a clinic $100 for pencils.
  • They spend $100 on pencils, and $100 on pens.
  • The $100 from the government for pencils freed up the other $100 to be used to buy pens. It was all in the same bank account, and money is money. One could say, therefore, that the government money was used for the pens, because without it, the pen purchase would not have been possible.

Here’s a slightly more technical explanation.

And here’s why, in the case of Planned Parenthood and federal funding, money is not necessarily fungible.

Thanks to numerous federal and state laws and regulations saying Planned Parenthood clinics cannot spend federal Medicaid dollars on abortion, and a ruling in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas (and some other states)* that provide abortion are separate legal entities, entirely independent of Planned Parenthood clinics that provide all other services.

They have separate tax ID numbers, separate articles of incorporation, separate insurance policies, separate everything.

Including separate bank accounts.

They do not share funds.

If you give $100 to Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, an abortion provider, it goes into a completely different bank account than $100 given to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, and vice versa.

So, while in some instances, money can be fungible, in the instance of Planned Parenthood clinics and federal funding, money is decidedly and factually not fungible.

The argument, therefore, that any federal funding for Planned Parenthood frees up funds for abortion, so all funds for Planned Parenthood, regardless of what they pay for, should be cut, is a loser.

That’s not my opinion, that’s fact. And you can take it to the bank.

Where it still won’t be fungible.

Photo of Bea Arthur on a $10 bill taken by a olin and used without alteration in accordance with a creative commons license.

Photo of Bea Arthur on a $10 bill taken by a olin and used without alteration in accordance with a creative commons license.

*In some states, Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortion and all of the other services do not automatically have to be separate entities in order to receive federal funds for all of the other services. They still must demonstrate, however, that no federal funds provide for/subsidize abortion services.

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Five Facts, One Conclusion, One Opinion, One Prediction

Fact: Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or the necessity of saving the life of the mother.

Fact: Senator Ted Cruz and many of his colleagues are threatening to end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Fact: Any federal funds Planned Parenthood clinics receive are used to pay for care including birth control (except abortion), pap smears, cancer screening and early treatment, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Fact: Republicans, by announcing their intent to strip federal funds for Planned Parenthood, are announcing their intent to deny funding for birth control, pap smears, cancer screening and early treatment, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Fact: Two states’ Attorneys General, Indiana and Massachusetts, have already cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in investigations prompted by the release of secretly recorded, deceptively edited anti-abortion propaganda produced by a fraudulently chartered nonprofit entity.

Conclusion: Republicans, willing to defund birth control, cancer screening, and testing and treatment for STIs to score political points on the basis of baseless and inflammatory claims made by people who have likely broken multiple laws, are neither the party of small government nor the party of law and order.

Opinion: Individuals, not the state, should be free to make their own decisions about their health and their lives, especially when it comes to the decision whether or when to bear children.

Prediction: On-the-brink-of-being-indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will hold a press conference about Planned Parenthood and use the words “baby parts,” but will not hold a press conference and use the words “I committed felony securities fraud.”

"Look! Over there! False allegations about someone else who is not me and who has not been indicted on felony charges!"

“Look! Over there! False allegations about someone else who is not me and who has not been indicted on felony charges! Pay no attention to meeeeee!”




Posted in politics, Texas | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

$6K in Six Days to Fund Molly Ivins Documentary

Molly Ivins screenshot

Molly Ivins died eight years ago. Why should you care? And why should you even consider kickstarting a documentary about her life and work?

Eminently quotable, and made to be memed, Molly’s folksy writing and wry speeches, deceptively simple, were built on a foundation of the strongest journalistic standards, academic training, and decades of research, observation, and experience.

She did not aggregate or curate. Molly was a capital-W writer, an artist, a creator. She used her prodigious talent to expose the wealthy and powerful in defense of the least among us.

Let me reconsider, actually, saying she wasn’t a curator. She was, but not in the sense that she filled the Texas Observer with listicles.

She was a curator of good people, bringing them together around the table for beer, chili, and the kind of conversation that mends the torn parts of your soul. She connected her friends to the people they didn’t even know they needed to know.

When Molly Ivins passed away, she left it all on the field. Essays she published decades ago resonate still, and remind us of our obligation to call out injustice.

We owe it to her, and to ourselves, to remember. To document what she did and what she stood for, and to take the baton she offered us every time she spoke out. To give credit and pay homage to a woman who inspired so many of the journalists, writers, and bloggers carrying that baton today.

I challenge you to watch this sizzle reel without laughing out loud.

And I urge you then to donate to get this documentary made. Just a bit, or a little bit more. Six more days to get this project to $100,000, and just a little over $6,000 to go.

She’s a voice for those who didn’t have a voice. We still need that voice. Desperately. Let’s make this happen, and keep raising hell in her memory and for our future.

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