Monday, October 31, 2005
Take on the Big Dogs at the Top
In the last few days Texans were greeted with the news that the oil companies raked in staggering profits in the third quarter of 2005 at the same time that working people couldn't afford to drive to work in the face of $3 a gallon gasoline. Exxon-Mobil for example took in 10 billion dollars profit, an increase of 75 percent over its already obscene profit level of the second quarter. But Attorney General Greg Abbott's strongest response has been to file a few complaints for public relations purposes against small business owners who are struggling just as hard to make it against Big Money Power as everyone else.
When is somebody in Texas government going to take a stand against Big Oil on behalf of the people of Texas? When is the governmental official with the biggest tools, the Texas Attorney General, going to do something about the Big Dogs' collusive pricing tactics on Texas soil? When is the Texas Attorney General's arm going to be raised on the people's behalf instead of sitting still for Big Oil's and the Federal Government's spin-doctors?
Texans don't need a public relations firm for an Attorney General. The people of Texas are entitled to a real Attorney General who understands that his Constitutional duty is to serve the people as a fighting lawyer who'll take on the Big Dogs at the top. That's what being the people's lawyer is all about, and I'm ready to serve.
posted by snarko! at 10:51 AM
Take A Stand
On November 5, the hooded bigots of the Ku Klux Klan will descend on Austin to march in support of the passage of Proposition 2. These masked shock troops of hate do Texans a favor in exposing the real meaning and significance of the proposed amendment in all its shining glory. There could be no greater barometer of what is really at stake in the vote on Proposition 2. The Klan does not show up anywhere unless it is to support bigotry and hate. Never before has the Klan shown up to support passage of a proposed amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution, because never before has there been such an organized attempt to enshrine the Klan's brand of hate in the noble charter of liberty and democracy of the people of Texas.
The Bill of Rights of our Texas Constitution of 1876 is one of the greatest charters of individual human rights on the face of the earth. Every Texan who loves our state should be personally offended at this disgusting effort to use it as a forum for the propagation of hate. I know that I am.
Every Texan should also be appalled that the lawyer who has the greatest responsibility to defend the Constitutional rights of the people of Texas, the state Attorney General, instead allies himself with the prophets of hate, as Attorney General Greg Abbott does in his public letter of October 27, 2005, in support of Proposition 2. I know that I am, and I know that Texans are entitled to a lawyer for the people who understands that every Texas citizen should have equal legal respect as a 100% equal part owner of our Constitutional democracy.
The world will be watching Texas in the vote on Proposition 2. Fellow Texans, let's show the world what we're made of. Take a stand against hate. Take a stand against the Ku Klux Klan. Take a stand against politicians who ally themselves with the Klan. Take a stand for liberty and democracy. Show the power of Texans' support of our Constitution. Show the power of your vote. Reject Proposition 2.
posted by snarko! at 10:44 AM
Monday, October 24, 2005
The Constitutional Amendments - Just Vote NO
Early voting starts October 24 on the Texas Constitutional Amendments. There are nine proposed amendments. I recommend a vote of NO on all nine. Consider the source. These amendments were generated by one of the most special interest-dominated legislatures in the history of our state. Every one of the proposed amendments serves a Perry-Craddick special interest -- be it banks and big corporations, Rick Perry's political ambitions, or the so-called religious right (which is really the unreligious wrong).
Concerning Proposition 2: I don't like the phrase "religious right." The protagonists of the so-called "religious right" are not in accord with most of the world's great religions and they are certainly not right. It is neither "religious" nor "right" to seek the destruction of our great democracy's Constitutional checks and balances; nor is it either "religious" or "right" to stir up hatred and prejudice against fellow citizens for the purpose of political grandstanding. Thus I prefer to call these purveyors of hate the unreligious wrong.
The authors of Proposition 2 seek blatantly to involve the power of government in matters of religion. Freedom of Worship is one of the bedrock Four Freedoms identified by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in one of democracy's darkest hours, when our cherished and fundamental democratic values were under attack from the evil worldviews of Nazism and fascism in World War II. Our nation's Founders saw clearly that freedom of religion cannot flourish unless government is equally neutral and impartial toward all religions and religious beliefs or non-beliefs; otherwise different religious beliefs and non-beliefs will fall prey to passing political winds of governmental favoritism and disfavoritism, and the freedom of worship will not be free. Whether a Supreme Being or a religious scripture recognizes or condemns same-sex marriage is a debate that belongs in religious halls, not in the framing of a Constitutional Bill of Rights that is the equal birthright of every citizen.
Furthermore, the Radical Republican Caucus that masqueraded as the State Legislature last session is so incompetent it cannot even do a good job of pursuing its own anti-democratic objectives. The wording of Proposition 2 calls for "prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage." Did you get that? The proposed Constitutional amendment will prohibit the state from recognizing any legal status identical to marriage. In its eagerness to enshrine hate into our Constitution, the unreligious wrong has placed before the citizens of Texas a proposition to prohibit the state from recognizing any marriage. It just goes to show you that hate cannot beget anything but bad ideas and bad consequences.
Propositions 1 and 9 are on the ballot to speed up the Perry Government's rush to put higher profits into the bank accounts of private developers at the taxpayers' expense, through the public subsidization of privately owned and operated transportation facilities by the actions of un-elected developers' cronies. Proposition 3 would allow local governments to spend even more of the taxpayers' money on boondoggles to reward campaign contributors. Proposition 5 would be a dream come true for banks, by removing any caps on the amounts of interest they could charge for commercial loans, making it easier for them to increase the squeeze on small businesses. Proposition 7 would give banks another tool in their already large arsenal of ways to entice homeowners to indenture their homes. Propositions 4, 6, and 8 appear to serve narrow interests. Just vote NO.
David Van Os
More from David on Toll Roads Props 1 & 9 >>
More from David on Gay Marriage Ban Prop 2 >>
posted by snarko! at 11:12 AM
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Government Belongs to the People
I don't know about you but I'm sick and tired of corporate government. The Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 26) proclaims that monopolies 'are contrary to the genius of free government and shall never be allowed.' When it's in the Constitution that means it's a permanent guarantee to the people. Don't you think it's high time somebody looked the Big Oil and Big Insurance monopolies straight in the eyes and told 'em NO MORE and meant it? Don't you think it's way past time somebody stood up and said NO MORE to all the sleazy combinations of political power and corporate money power that have been ripping off our democracy for way too long? Wouldn't you for once like to see the people instead of the corporate lobbyists running the government?
If you're a Texan like me, who loves this State and its proud history, I'm sure you feel partial to our Constitution, and that you don't feel kindly toward power elites who think they're too high and mighty to follow it. Our Constitution says, 'all political power is inherent in the people' (Art. 1, Sec. 2); it does NOT say that powerful soulless corporations who the people don't get to vote for get to dictate public policy. As one of our greatest public servants, James Stephen Hogg, declared long ago, in words that are just as true today as they were when he was whipping the railroad barons into line, 'Texas belongs to the people, not to the corporations!'
Texans have always believed that government belongs to the people. They've lived for that belief and they've died for it. At this very moment, all over this state people from all walks of life are fed up with the ripoff of their democracy and they want it back. The Texas Constitution (Art. 4, Sec. 22) directs the Attorney General of our state to protect democracy from corporate special-interest government and gives him the tools of office to do it. I'm nobody special, just a lifelong Texan and 29-year lawyer who was lucky enough to get a legal education from one of Texas' great public universities; and I've vowed to honor the education and training Texas gave me by answering the moral imperative of our time. Those coming before us who founded self-governing Constitutional democracy intended that it last forever. For my part, I will not let it go down, and my part is clear to me. This state belongs to all the people, and they are entitled to a people's lawyer who will fight to restore it to their ownership. The fight is on and there is no option but victory.
posted by snarko! at 4:29 PM
Monday, October 03, 2005
Don't Blame the Victims
San Antonio lawyer David Van Os, candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for Texas Attorney General in 2006, made the following statement about gasoline prices:
"The newspapers are telling us consumers what we already know. People who work for a living are being squeezed to death by the price of gasoline. Every day the price of gasoline is causing people to fall further behind on paying their bills and to sink further into debt. Meanwhile, oil company profits are climbing out of sight; and the resulting bank profits on credit card interest are going off the chart.
"Who is profiting off the outrageous gasoline prices? Not us, that's for sure. Who is hurting? Not the oil companies and the banks, that's for sure. And not the politicians who are hogs in the trough of corporate money for their self-promoting re-election campaigns.
"You know it's bad when East and West Texas roughnecks who pull the oil out of the ground for the rest of us can't afford the gasoline to get to the drilling sites to do their jobs pulling the oil out of the ground!
"So now the newspapers and the politicians tell us that we just need to drive less and spend less. There's something wrong with this picture.
"The honest citizens who work for a living aren't the ones making the outrageous profits, and they aren't the ones using political positions to cover up for their corporate cronies. To tell the people who are getting hurt the most that it's up to them to change their ways is to blame the victims for the crime. I think it's time to blame the criminals.
"The Texas Constitution gives the people of Texas a lawyer to represent the public interest against the self-interests of the greedy and powerful. That lawyer is called the Attorney General, and the Constitution says he is supposed to watch over the activities of powerful corporations and make sure they don't abuse the laws of Texas. The Constitution and laws of Texas make monopolies and price gouging illegal. Where is the incumbent Republican Attorney General of Texas? Where is anybody lifting an arm on behalf of the good people of Texas against Big Oil's pilferage of the people's pocketbooks?
"It's probably too much to ask an insider Republican like the incumbent Attorney General to turn on his corporate benefactors. Since he can't fight for the people, the people need to find a lawyer who will. The elections of 2006 will be high time to hire a People's Lawyer to be the next Attorney General of Texas."
posted by snarko! at 7:06 PM
Fighting for the People
[also published as one of the Greatest Threads at Democratic Underground]
In my humble opinion, interest-group politics within the Democratic Party over the last 20 years has resulted in pandering, patronage chains, cooptation, fracturing, and defeat. This pattern operates across the board, from racial minority interest groups to issue-specific interest groups. The resulting failures are especially harmful for the working and poverty classes of the historically disempowered and disenfranchised African-American and Latino populations, as well as a large mass of similarly situated but politically alienated white blue-collar and agrarian citizens. Such populations especially, need a political party speaking for them, fighting for them, and winning for them. The Democratic Party could be that party and should be that party.
Thirty years ago when Texas corporate money-power lawyer Robert Strauss became DNC chairman, he instituted a new philosophy of chasing the middle and making sure the corporate power elite would not perceive the Party as a threat to its interests. Ever since then, the Democratic Party has constructed its campaign messages around the mythical "swing voters" instead of around the base. Democrats have got to discard that bankrupt philosophy, and in its stead campaign for the base. Going to African-American churches and talking about civil rights and Martin Luther King is not campaigning for the base. Going to Cesar Chavez marches and calling out "Si Se Puede" is not campaigning for the base. Note my phrasing--I refer to campaigning for the base, not "to" the base.
Campaigning for the base means fighting, not just giving lip service to platitudes. It means fighting, forcefully and confrontationally, for economic justice, social justice, and the promise of the Declaration of Independence as the main message of the campaign, the message given to all the voters. The Democratic Party has not done this in 30 years as the overall message of the Party and the top of its ticket. The Party has been reserving its social, economic, and Constitutional justice message for targeted communications delivered to interest group audiences. It should be no surprise when those audiences start wondering if the message is sincere.
Lyndon Johnson, who might have become the greatest president in history were it not for his duplicity and stubbornness in getting the country into the Vietnam debacle, did not confine the Great Society message to speeches to interest groups. It was his main message for America as a whole. By betraying LBJ's Great Society vision with the installation of chase-the-middle mythology, the Party itself played directly into Republican hands in letting civil rights be defined as special-interest politics--which is absurd, but which the Party itself allowed to happen by deliberately downscaling LBJ's main message for everybody into limited appeals confined to interest group audiences--thus demeaning what was the most noble flowering of the Democratic Party's message for America into pathetic pandering.
In this campaign we are restoring the active fight for economic and social justice, a fight that confronts corporate power and racist power rather than trying to pacify them, as The Main Message--indeed as the very reason for the candidacy. This is campaigning for the base. Campaigning for the base actually means, simply, fighting for the base, not begging and pandering for their votes, but fighting for them as their advocate, fighting for the people against the powerful. The people will vote for us when they see that we are fighting for them, not because we are positioning ourselves for votes, but because our convictions compel us. The people will see there is something really worth voting for. The act of voting will not be a buy-and-sell transaction with patronage and promises as the medium of exchange, but rather a joining and sharing of a mission.
In the process we will be expanding the base, expanding it to potentially everybody, no longer confining it to narrowly defined interest groups. It is the opposite of what the Democratic Party has been doing for 30 years. Democratic campaigns that do this, and do it from the heart, will win.
David Van Os
posted by snarko! at 11:36 AM
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Statement to Civil Right Conference Attendees
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
I am very sorry that an unexpected death in the family renders it impossible for me to attend this important conference today as planned.
America is the home of the Declaration of Independence, which delivered to the world the twin revolutionary visions of equal endowment with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the governed. America is composed of its entire people regardless of their places of origin. Each American, regardless of place of origin and regardless of background or economic status, is a 100% equal part owner of the legacy of the Declaration's revolutionary proclamation.
The vision of the Declaration has never been completely fulfilled. Continual striving for realization of the vision is an obligation of every generation of Americans. All inhabitants of this place and all who come to these shores, and their descendants, are to be embraced and welcomed to share in the striving.
Times occur in American history when forces of regression that do not believe in the vision of the Declaration of Independence seek power in order to bury its promises. We live in such a time. I implore each of you to devote all your available energies to challenging and confronting those forces of regression and to restoring for the benefit of all the people of both America and the world the pursuit of that vision and those promises.
Thank you for everything that you do.
David Van Os
posted by snarko! at 11:26 AM
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