Tag Archives: senate

Why Houston should care about Elizabeth Warren

Outside of the Occupy Wall Street protests, and their related spinoffs, the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party carries on in the more traditional realm of politics. The current cause celebre? Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for Senate.

Beyond the “Dumb hunk Republican vs. Elitist Harvard Democrat” media frame that pundits are sure will dominate the race, yet will not take steps to stop, Warren should attract special attention from Houstonians. After all, this woman is not just chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout or the author more than 100 scholarly articles and six academic books, or whatever.

She is also a graduate of the University of Houston.

It hurts this Rice graduate to heap such praise upon Cougar, but Warren seems to be the only Democrat out there with the ability or will to clearly and succinctly state the argument against the pseudo-Randian, eat the poor mindset the dominates the Republican party these days.

There is no one in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

I hear all this, oh this is class warfare, no! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.  You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look.  You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God Bless! Keep a Big Hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

And that’s the point. We’re capitalists and we want the system to work. Right now, it isn’t working. It is simple, to the point, and for some reason completely missing from political dialogue. And it is coming from a UH graduate.

Now, Massachusetts is going to have a Democratic Senator sooner rather than later. And it would be nice of that Democrat were Elizabeth Warren. No matter one’s political orientation, University of Houston boosters should want one of the hundred US senators to be from that rising institution. A Senator is a fantastic piece of PR. Plus, an alumna in a high government location can help direct grants and contracts towards a university that otherwise would be overlooked.

Furthermore, it would only benefit Houston as a whole to have someone else in the Senate who understands what it is like to live in our impressive sprawl of a city. After all, not every city is like the Boston-NYC-DC corridor.

So if you want to see a Cougar in the Senate, or merely a Senator who can provide appropriate counterbalance to the off-the-cliff perspective of the current Republican Party,  send some money to her campaign.

Burn Down David Brooks: 10 Politicians Braver than Lindsey Graham

Today, in one of their sometimes entertaining and sometimes enlightening dialogues that plays like a network commercial designed to fill space between New York Times articles but you just know ends with them doin’ it (or at least Brooks trying and Collins turning him down), Gail Collins and David Brooks discussed immigration reform. In this, Brooks refers to Sen. Lindsey Graham as “the bravest politician in the country, bar none.”

This political discussion is a deviation from his traditional wanna-be philosophy grad student TA columns  that set him apart from other middling, sane Republicans whom he joins in his “you ever notice how people in red states drive like this, but people in blue states drive like this” even though he’s never actually lived in a red state. However, it maintains that same essence of his usual work of not being traditionally disprovable, yet eliciting a stream of contrary arguments.

Thus, here is my list of 10 politicians braver than Lindsay Graham, which I compiled while in the bathroom after copyright class.

1. Oliver Queen

Its like if Batman were liberal

Political position

Mayor of Star City

Who is he?

Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, is a superhero. Much like Batman he has no real powers, but some awesome technology and a lot of money. Unlike Batman, he is not a cryptofascist, but rather a traditional liberal. He began expressing his political opinions as a newspaper columnist. In 1979 he ran for Mayor of Star City but lost. However, he runs again after the events of Infinite Crisis and is elected mayor .

Why is he braver?

Because without any superpowers, he routinely fights and defeats people with superpowers, such as a giant, radioactive, North Korean robot. Also, he stands up to Superman and Batman, ensuring that the Justice League not only protects the planet and universe from the biggest crises, but looks after the weak and downtrodden on earth.

So when is the last time Lindsey Graham stood up to a giant, radioactive, North Korean robot?

2. Congressman John Lewis

He represents Hotlanta

Political Position

Representative from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District

Who is he?

Quoteth Wikipedia: John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is an American politician and was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Lewis, a member of the Democratic Party, has represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 1987. The district encompasses almost all of Atlanta.

Why is he braver?

Lewis helped organize non-violent sit-ins, boycotts and protests during the civil rights movement. Specifically, during the Selma to Montgomery marches, police attacked him and beat him in public, leaving scars that you can still see today.

At the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech, Lewis’s own speech included the line “Which side is the government on?” (though that line was cut so as to work with the Kennedy Administration).

However, despite being beaten by government officials and questioning they’re dedication to civil rights and being silenced, he did not fight or resort to violence, but joined the system that seemed to attack him at every turn and tried to change it from the inside.

Perhaps his most amazing moment, Lewis received and accepted an apology on live, national TV from a former Klansman who had personally attacked and beaten him.

3. George Washington

Political Position

Really?

Who is he?

Really???

Why is he braver?

I’d like to point to one specific event to illustrate Washington’s bravery. In 1791, congress imposed an excise tax on Whiskey. Considering that they had just fought a war over taxing things, many people refused to pay. While the tax protestors were called to appear before U.S. district court, most didn’t and instead rioted, resulting in the Whiskey Rebellion. As Commander-in-Chief, Washington led a ragtag militia group into the rebelling areas of the country. There was no large standing army at the time and Washington very well may have been marching into a trap of armed tax-dodgers.

Now that takes balls. But what Washington did next was even ballsier. Instead of fighting, Washington addressed those who refused to pay by giving a speech. Before staring, he pulled out his reading glasses so he could read his notes, commenting: “My eyes grow weary in service to my nation.”

The crowd broke down in tears and the violent rebellion disbanded without a shot being fired. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln subdued the Confederacy merely with the opening lines of a speech. That’s basically what Washington did.

Now, the facts of the case are somewhat hazy. But there was a Whiskey Rebellion and Washington did march in with a tiny army and ended the rebellion without a single shot. But it doesn’t matter whether the story is true, Judge Blogreader. Its a good story.

4. Unnamed President in the X-Men cartoon

I'm sure there is some sort of Gender Studies paper to be written about how the woman president doesn't have a name.

Political Position

President in Marvel Universe Earth-92131

Who is she?

Though unnamed, she served President before the election of anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly to the office of President.

Why is she braver?

During her time as President, the United States began to confront the reality of mutants, for better or worse. On the worse side, the Mutant Control Agency came to be as a private, yet government-supported, organization created with the supposed purpose of voluntary mutants registration. However, this registration information was actually given to the Sentinel program, which then hunted and captured the mutants.

Upon learning about this program, the Unnamed President immediately shut down the program.

In the face of a rising class of superhumans, a growing and at times justifiable fear among the populace, and political pressure, the Unnamed President accepted the help of the X-Men, even though they had just attacked the government installation that housed the Mutant Control Agency, and shut down the discriminatory program.

She did not give in to fear. She did not give in to cowardice. She did not give in to bigotry. Brave.

5. Arnold Vinick

Baaaaaa, bum bum bummmmmm. baa baa bummmmmmm, ba bum ba bummm (da na na na).....

Political Position

Republican Senator from California

Who is he?

On the West Wing, Vinick ran for President and was defeated by the Democratic candidate Matt Santos. Also, I think he served as a surgeon during the Korean War. Then someone killed a chicken, but it was actually a baby.

Why is he braver

I’ll point to one specific moment that was especially brave. In the West Wing episode King Corn, all the candidates are arranged to speak before the Iowa Corn Growers. While nearly all candidates are told to support ethanol, and nearly all oppose it, only Vinick has the guts to tell the corn growers than ethanol is a bad idea. I can’t find a video online, but its a great scene.

6. Christian X of Denmark

I remember a time when royalty had mustaches. Also, I wonder if he's related to Malcolm X.

Political Position

King of Denmark from 1912-1947 and the King of Iceland from 1918-1944.

Who is he?

As King of Denmark, engaged in conflict with the cabinet concerning reunification of Denmark and other territories after the Treaty of Versailles. Also, he had a mustache and apparently was a jerk.

Why is he braver

While his brother the King of Norway went into exile during Nazi occupation, he remained in the capital as a sign of support to those opposing the Nazis. During this time, he used his powers of being a jerk to fight the Nazis.

For example, on the King’s 72nd birthday Adolf Hitler apparently sent him a really long birthday telegram. The King merely replied with a “My best thanks, the King.” In response, Hitler recalled the ambassador from Cophenhagen and expelled the Danish ambassador.

Furthermore, during the Nazi occupation the King would routinely go on daily horse rides around Copenhagen, without any guard. Supposedly, while on these rides, he would wear the same Star of David that Jews were forced to wear. Brave.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether the story is true (I’m recounting it from having read Number The Stars in 5th grade), its a good story.

7. John F. Kennedy

Ich Bin Ein Rich Playboy

Political Position

Friend of Frank Sinatra, also President or something

Who is he?

JFK originally starred in a TV show about him and his brother as children before one of them would later become president. Kennedy was inspired by the plot and entered politics, laying out his plan for his administration in the feature length film JFK, which led to the spinoff film Thirteen Days. To ensure his continuation after his planned assassination, he had himself cloned. His clone would later go on to date the clone of Cleopatra in the illustrated documentary Clone High.

Why is he braver

While JFK served on PT-109, the boat was attacked by a destroyer and literally cut in half. To seek help, Kennedy swam between tiny islands, carrying people who were injured or couldn’t swim well, all the while fighting off crocodiles and sharks.

To summarize: JFK is brave because he fought a shark.

Again: Kennedy fought a shark and won!

Once more: The President of the United States fought a shark and won.

I believe it looked a little something like this

Or this!

8. Sean McBeath

More Sean McStupid. amirite?

Political Position

President of Martel College

Who is he

Sean is tall and worked for the Thresher but then didn’t but then did and also was President of Martel College or something.

Why is he braver

As part of its traditional letters asking for $$$ donations, the Rice annual fund sent out letters apparently on behalf of the college presidents, including their signatures. However, Sean did not cooperate and instead the Rice Annual Fund used a fake, machine-generated version of Sean’s signature without his permission. Sean, and the Thresher, stood up to the administration, which falsely used Sean’s signature and likeness for monetary gain.

Other college presidents had their signatures faked, too. But only Sean stood up for himself. Brave!

9. Brady Tyson

Political Position

Editor-in-Chief of the Rice Thresher

Who is he?

I don’t know too much about him

Why is he braver

In the Sept. 16, 1948 issue of the Rice Thresher, Tyson wrote the following editor to Strom Thurmond:

The Honorable J. Strom Thurmond:

In the opinion of many of us the recent contest in Harris county was marred by the injection of the racial question into the campaign. Full-page ads that mentioned States’ Rights only as a shield to prevent Federal legislation against segregation were used. Inflammatory points were arefully enumerated. The ads threatened “Negroes in your churches, in your schools, in your colleges, in your swimming pools, in your beauty shops,” unless Thurmond and Wright were supported.

Such support can only eventually hurt the cause of the States’ Rights Democrats. The Christian sense of the people of the South, will, at last, become disgusted by such a hate campaign and will react against the States’ Rights Democratic party. If such a campaign is pursued it will only mean that in the eyes of the people of America those of us who stand for States’ Rights must stand also for segregation; whereas I believe the facts to be that many of us who support the States’ Rights ticket are convinced that segregation is morally wrong, and as such must be eventually eliminated thru education and a return to the principles of Christian brotherhood.

Very truly,

BRADY TYSON

Editor The Thresher

This letter got picked up by national news. At a time when Houston, not to mention Rice, still discriminated against blacks, this guy had the balls to call out Thurmond on his unabashed racism.

Thurmond wrote back:

To the Editor:

While the segregation issue is of vital importance to the South, anyone who is familiar with the States’ Rights issue know that it is not the fundamental question which has aroused the patriotism of Southern leaders. The matter of segregation is merely one of the many fields in which the State is supreme under our United States Constitution. Among other questions are those of police power, control of the ballot, and regulation of all internal matters.

Opinions as to segregation vary in the South as elsewhere. I, myself, believe that sep-aration of the races is necessary in my own State for the welfare of both white and colored. But I am firmly convinced that this question is one for decision by the people of the separate states, and not Constitutionally under the authority of the Federal Government.

I hope this answers your questions.

If you publish my reply, please be kind enough to convey to the people of Houston my sincere appreciation for the confidence they showed in the cause of the States’ Rights Democrats in their Harris County referendum on August 28th.

With kindest regards and best wishes,

Very truly,

J. STROM THURMOND

Governor

Tyson, you’ve got balls.

Also, I’d like to give an honorable mention to some random Thresher EIC from the 1920s who wrote in the Thresher a defense of integration both nationally and on campus. I don’t have the actual article on hand, so I can’t write about it. I do recall that most of the letters in response were basically “WOULD YOU LET A NEGRO DATE YOUR SISTER WAWAWA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

10. Vaclav Havel/Nelson Mandela/whatever

Whatever, you know the deal with these guys. Thats 10.

Shitty Senators and Goldman Sachs’ Step 1: We find the worst play ever written

Why won't Drudge say shit? Is he being censored by Muslims?

Senators are cursing up a storm on the TV! This is, literally, worse than the Brooks-Sumner affair.  So far, both Claire McCaskill and Carl Levin have use the cursed S-word, in an adjective form.

You ever notice how Carl Levin looks exactly how Mallard Filmore imagines all liberals look like?

Now, there is certainly room to debate the difference between Shit and Shitty, and the leeway one is given when quoting curse words rather than using them ad hoc. (See: Racist Backpage). But instead of doing that, here is a video of Rep. Barney Frank cursing, too. Because its fun.

And as we all know, Senators cursing is way bigger new than the underlying money-making scheme of a company being contrary to a functioning marketplace. If a company can make money on investments failing, then success relies upon creating market failure, which various investment banks did. If only farmers made money by losing crops, or producers made money by a musical closing on the first day!

Of course, like in all things, someone has already made that joke.

Cornyn Wood (see what I did there?)

I wrote a letter to Senator John Cornyn. You can read it here if you want. It is about the upcoming nomination of a justice to the Supreme Court, and why he should support Diane Wood.

Dear Senator Cornyn,

As a Texas voter, Rice University graduate, and 2L student at the Cardozo School of Law, I encourage you to support Diane Wood for nomination and confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary committee, you play a very important role in the nomination of justices, and given the totality of the circumstances, Wood is best candidate Texas can get.

I understand that your political and party allegiances will lead you to oppose Wood, whether due to partisan or policy reasons. However, anyone the President nominates is going to meet some base level of pro-choice, or traditionally liberal, approval. The question then is, given these candidates, which one is the best of all the choices. For any Texan, the overwhelming choice is Wood, the only mentioned candidate from the University of Texas.

Placing Justice Wood on the Supreme Court would send a message that the University of Texas produces legal scholars on par with Harvard, Yale and Columbia, the other only schools represented on the highest court. Indeed, her confirmation could thrust the University of Texas to the very top of law school rankings and send the message that students do not need to leave our great state to get the best possible education.

This is the closest chance since Homer Thornberry’s nomination in 1968 for Texas to have say on the court. At a time when New Jersey and New York seem to be the only acceptable origins for a Supreme Court Justice, a Wood nomination would help emphasize that Texas is a center of intellectual research and modern business, deflecting the traditional, ignorant stereotypes from the coasts. Your colleague and my representative John Culberson likes to say “Let Texans Run Texas.” Well it is time to let Texans judge Texas, not to mention every other state.

One should learn a lesson from the Senate rejecting Thornberry in the wake of the Abe Fortas scandal. After senators filibustered President Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas to replace Earl Warren as Chief Justice, and Thornberry to replace Fortas as Associate Justice, the chance was passed to President Nixon, who eventually nominated Justice Burger. While Burger was touted as a conservative, his eventual record could be seen as no more conservative or liberal than Thornberry’s. The main difference is that one was a Texan and one was not. Furthermore, if Johnson had made the nomination rather than Nixon, one could safely assume that he would choose a candidate much more liberal than Thornberry, and certainly one lacking in Texan sensibilities.

With this nomination at hand, you cannot hedge that a Republican will become President if a filibuster were successful. There is simply too much time and too great a Democratic majority, even if you are just waiting for the midterm elections. Obama will get a nominee, but you can influence which one. Go with the Texan.

Furthermore, of all the potential candidates, Wood distinctly has gained the respect of her conservative colleagues on one of the most conservative circuit courts. On the highest court, she would not be some renegade judge to be feared, but an academic sparring partner who would help conservative judges sharpen their own arguments, leading to better decisions and a collegial court that would embody a working bipartisanship severely lacking in today’s political rhetoric.

Even when looking at Wood’s liberal record, she deviates from some of her fellow judicial candidates by taking a position strictly limiting the Executive Branch. At a time when conservatives and Republicans worry about President Obama’s executive authority, Wood could stand as an ally with those who support a small and limited government. All of Obama’s potential nominees will be pro-choice, but not all will support a limited government.

Furthermore, Wood is the only candidate who has balanced her career while raising three children, and that experience has given her a home-town groundedness that would be hard to find from any justice, liberal or conservative.

I do not expect you to loudly proclaim your support for Wood. I do not even expect you to vote for her. However, a leaked word that a Texan nominee would lead to a smoother confirmation from the Texan Senator would be a sign that you are willing to face the facts, recognize the totality of the situation, suck it up and choose the best of all possibilities. And Wood is the best for Texas.

UPDATE: I reposted this at Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/21/859447/-The-Texan-Argument-for-Diane-Wood) And there was some discussion. But not really.

UPDATE 2: 2Up2Date: Shane brings up that O’Connor was born in El Paso. True, but she went to Stanford for undergrad and law school, and was essentially an Arizonian… Arizonite… from Arizona. Wood went to UT law, which is the main issue.

Burn Down Southern Senators

Senate passes measure to allow gun transport on Amtrak – CNN.com.

Currently, passengers cannot bring guns aboard Amtrak trains, because Amtrak simply does not have the money or manpower to provide the security checks required to make gun handling on trains a safe prospect.

This bill does not have any extra money to help set up such a system.

This stroke of genius was sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi.

I’m convinced this is revenge for integration. Northerners went down to Mississippi and forced them to let black people in schools. So, now he’s going up to the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak does most of its business, an forced expensive and unnecessary requirement.

Seriously, as if someone from Mississippi went to their senator complaining about not being able to bring guns on a train. If Joe Biden brought this up, I could understand. If someone from Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, or Connecticut brought this up, I could understand. But Mississippi? This is pathetic gun fetishization of the most preposterous kind.

Hey, let’s make it OK for people to bring guns on mass transit! Cool!

Admittedly, Mississippi does have 10 Amtrak stops, in such important cities as: Hazlehurt, Brookhaven and Yazoo City (and by God it put them on the map!)

In fact, all of Mississippi has an Amtrak ridership of about 100,000 people a year, at least for 2008. To put this in context, Penn Station alone has more than that in a week.

So in conclusion, someone wants to change the rules, forcing an expensive burden that will mostly affect somewhere he doesn’t live, to fulfill a fetishization of power.

Punchline: And that is the definition of government! Zing!