Milam high school students work the primary election

Milam County Clerk, Barbara Vansa, presented certificates of recognition to five students from Thorndale High School who served as county election workers during the March Primary Election. On hand for the presentation last week were (back row, L-R) THS Coach Bobby Sugg, Sterling Kothmann, Lorenzo Llana and Barbara, (Front, L-R) Shelby Anders and Kevin Cooke.  Josh Jones  was not present.

Milam County Clerk, Barbara Vansa, presented certificates of recognition to five students from Thorndale High School who served as county election workers during the March Primary Election. On hand for the presentation last week were (back row, L-R) THS Coach Bobby Sugg, Sterling Kothmann, Lorenzo Llana and Barbara, (Front, L-R) Shelby Anders and Kevin Cooke. Josh Jones was not present.

When you voted in the primary election in March (you DID vote, didn’t you?), you probably saw some young faces.

Those faces belong to local high school students and we can thank BarbaraVansa, our Democratic county clerk, for recruiting them.

On hand for the presentation at Rockdale High School were (front, L-R) Milam County Clerk Barbara Vansa, Clayton Gibbs, Cierra Pomykal and Rockdale High School Principal Joey Geletka; (Back, L-R), Morgan Laughlin and Melanie Ibarra. Not present were Jacey Jerman and Zavon Gipson.

On hand for the presentation at Rockdale High School were (front, L-R) Milam County Clerk Barbara Vansa, Clayton Gibbs, Cierra Pomykal and Rockdale High School Principal Joey Geletka; (Back, L-R), Morgan Laughlin and Melanie Ibarra. Not present were Jacey Jerman and Zavon Gipson.

“These young people worked early voting and election day,” Barbara said. “ They made a real impact.”

She began the program after a meeting of the Milam County Election Board identified problems recruiting qualified election workers. the fact is, your local political parties have trouble staffing the polling locations with qualified election workers.

I learned about the program at one of the election seminars and suggested that she reach out to area high schools to see if there was any interest.And, there was.

Students from Cameron, Rockdale and Thorndale participated in the initial program. Students worked under the direction of the election judge and were paid the same as other election officials. In all, 19 Milam County high school students helped as election workers during the March 4 primary election.

The students from C.H. Yoe High School in Cameron were (front, L-R) Julie Rhoades, Jayci Rhoades, Terre Lara and Kasey Krenek; (Back, L-R) Michael Gelner, Kayla Morgan, Megan Arney and Lance Greene.

The students from C.H. Yoe High School in Cameron were (front, L-R) Julie Rhoades, Jayci Rhoades, Terre Lara and Kasey Krenek; (Back, L-R) Michael Gelner, Kayla Morgan, Megan Arney and Lance Greene.

Any high school student who is at least 16 years of age on election day and who is enrolled in a public or private high school or home school and has the consent of the principal, or parent/legal guardian in charge of education in home school, may serve as an election clerk.

Barbara said the program was so successful, she would like to continue it for the November General Election and future elections.

If you know a student who might like to participate, please contact the Milam County Clerk’s office at (254) 697-7049 or the Milam County Elections Office at (254) 697-2664.

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County judge race is not worth crossing party lines

Early voting in the March 4 Primary Election began today. So, it seems like an appropriate time for me to weigh in on the whole thing.

Now, without giving anyone “permission” to vote in the Republican Primary, I’m pragmatic enough to understand that some otherwise good local Democrats carry some strong opinions about the race for county judge.

That’s fine but, frankly, I’m not sure either candidate is a catch or worth crossing party lines for (and, if you are a precinct chair or want to be one, just don’t do it).

Sure, David Barkemeyer is a nice guy but, first and foremost, he is a Republican. His stance on governing is often right out of the Republican playbook and he is unapologetic in his ideology or in his desire to inject his brand of theology into local governance.

Once upon a time, Frank Summers was, arguably, the most powerful elected Democrat in the county but he lost to Barkemeyer. Frank is trying to get his old job back, but this time he’s running as a Republican because, you know, Barack Obama.

Every now and then, he says something that reminds us of how glad we were that he finally found the courage to come out of the closet and declare to the word that he really is a Republican after all (not that many of us doubt this).

summersscreenshot

There may be some down-ballot races worthy of your attention but none of those candidates would thank me for a show of public support. I’ll simply say that my primary votes will go to Wendy, Steve and Maxy. And, depending on how I feel that day, maybe Kinky.

Early voting began today. Make sure you have what it takes to have your vote counted (because, you know, Republicans don’t think people can’t be trusted with the right to vote). You can go here or here for more information.

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Living wage

Living wage

First post in over a year but, I promise to post more regularly.

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Re-writing history

You know your day is off to an ugly start when among the first things you are confronted with is a photo of Rep. John Carter bloviating from behind a microphone, moaning that our socialistic president was going to issue 40,000 pink slips to defense contractors and, so doing, single-handedly destroy the Central Texas economy.

That’s what the Temple Daily Telegram printed on the front page to today’s edition.

Both Congressman Carter and The Telegram are re-writing history and Carter’s hypocrisy is stunning. Last summer, he and his partisans refused to negotiate on the debt ceiling and nearly brought this country to the brink of bankruptcy.  The resultant deal —sequestration, agreed to by all sides, after the Republican leadership caved to the Tea Party instead of accepting a compromise — forced potential across the board budget cuts. Yes, even defense cuts. Now, he’s trying to re-write history and shift the blame for this away from his vote and his party’s position, and to Pres. Obama.

That the Telegram simply regurgitates Carter’s claim — without pointing out the Congressman’s place in this story or providing any context whatsoever — is no less hypocritical. Sequestration resulted from the GOP’s failed game of chicken regarding the debt ceiling.

Rep. Carter’s political party claims to be one of “personal responsibility.” If that is true, it is past time for Carter take responsibility for his considerable part of the mess and try to figure out a way to actually govern this nation, which, one would think, is what Republicans sent him to Washington to do, right?

Related Link: Talking Points Memo: Republicans want off the hook for voting for defense sequester
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GASP! He said it out loud!

The only difference between Florida Republican Jim Greer and a whole passel of Texas Republicans is that he said out loud what they have been incredibly careful NOT to say (and he’s feeling some guilt over it): Voter ID laws are all about making sure minorities and Democrats have a difficult time casting a meaningful ballot.

A commenter on my previous post insisted the only reason I cared about Voter ID is that it would adversely affect Democrats. And, he’s right, of course, that does sorta tick me off because it happens to be true … but, as I noted in my reply, these laws also impact rural voters, who lack easy access to rural DPS offices, and senior Texans, who often lack a photo ID because they no longer drive. Neither group are dependable Democratic voters. Further, he’d feel the same way if someone passed laws designed to make his vote meaningless.

In the mean time, Democrats in Texas have an opportunity to cast a vote that could be quite meaningful. If you did not vote early, head out to your local polling place tomorrow and vote in the Democratic runoff for Paul Sadler for U.S. Senate. Every vote counts!

Some links:

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According to the Right, you’re wrong

Progressives and liberals and Democrats didn’t much care for it back at the turn of the Millennium, when George Bush was anointed president despite handily losing the popular vote. Those were the heady days of hanging chads, frenetic recounts under the glare of harsh TV lights and hasty state supreme court sessions.

But, as I noted in my commentary at the time (Taylor Daily Press and others), Bush beat Al Gore fair and square, 5-4. And then Al Gore conceded the election, preserving our democracy.

(My tongue was placed firmly in my cheek back then while I wrote that comment, of course, but no one was immune to an early Internet meme that had us begging for UN assistance and Jimmy Carter’s intercession because there was this guy, whose dad was a former leader of the country but who had been deposed by a popular election a few years earlier, but who had run our secret police for years, and who appeared to be stealing our national election and it all hinged on this one province, where the other son was the leader. Had the same set of familial circumstances been presented by a country like, say, Russia or Columbia or Senegal, the international community would have reacted … but this was the good old US of A where democracy was invented so there was nothing amiss, right?)

Here’s my point. Despite the, uhm, irregular way that election concluded, I don’t think any of the people I hung around with ever considered the Bush presidency to be illegitimate. A bad idea, perhaps. Ineffective and stupid and brutish, maybe. Not the best thing to have every happened to us, possibly. Perchance even unfortunate.

But not illegitimate.

The same can’t be said of the political right in this country. From day one, the political right-wing tried to delegitimize Bill Clinton’s presidency and from day one, that constituency has tried to delegitimize Barak Obama’s presidency. More, even though there is no question that Bill Clinton and Barak Obama won both the popular and electoral votes — where there most certainly remains some question about George Bush’s first election — the right has done everything it can to see that these presidencies were hollow.

Frankly, I don’t remember that happening with Poppy Bush or Pres. Reagan. Or even Pres. Nixon. One might dislike a President’s ideas, and regret the way the election turned out, but the fact that he was the duly elected leader of the country was not doubted.

I could be wrong, of course. Those of you with longer memories are welcome to correct me.

But, the political right is going even further than simply de-legitimizing our president. They are doing everything they can to de-legitimize the people who voted for him. That’s where this move toward voter ID is directed.

I gleaned this from the television thingy last night and from various inter web pages today:

“I think we believe that, insofar a there are inappropriate things, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat. If people cheat, we believe the people who cheat are more likely to vote against us.”
~ Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman

It’s from the second-ranking Republican in Wisconsin and it’s all over the Internet. Google it yourself.

For 20 years, there’s been no serious effort to question the legitimacy of our voting processes but, since the “wrong” person won the last election, there have been no less than 400 legislative attempts in this country to suppress the votes of the people who had the audacity to vote for Pres. Obama.

That’s what voter ID is all about. It’s designed to suppress the vote of people most likely to vote for a Democrat and the political right sees nothing wrong with it because folks who vote for Democrats don’t really matter. Their vote doesn’t matter. They don’t matter.

Please tell me I’m wrong.

Please.

It’s a cop-out to say that “both sides do it” because both sides don’t. It’s a cop-out to attest that vote fraud it a big problem because there is no evidence that it is. In fact, in the big case going on right now in Pennsylvania, the state can’t even point to anecdotal evidence that in-person vote fraud — the kind of vote fraud that voter ID is supposed to deter (as opposed to the more massive vote fraud that involves hanging chad and daddy’s friends on the high court) — is a problem.

From the Pennsylvania AG’s court submission:

“There have been no investigations or prosecutions on in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”

Texas has been working hard to develop evidence regarding massive in-person vote fraud, of the sort that would wreak havoc on our democracy, but can’t. In fact, our state’s attorney general is reduced to stuttering prevarication on national TV in order to make his case. On the TV thingy, he said that Texas has found more than 200 cases and proved it in court (well, not true) and that he had also successfully prosecuted 50 cases, which is also not true.

He’s found and successfully prosecuted exactly two cases of in-person vote fraud. In 10 years.

In today’s Washington Post, the colonist Harold Meyerson makes the case that this kind of voter suppression could very well work to undermine any national Republican victory.The very voters targeted for suppression are also rapidly growing demographic groups, groups which happen to be traditional Democratic voters.

If Mitt Romney wins the election, it will be by a razor-thin margin. If that margin can be easily seen to be the result of the right’s efforts to manipulate voting rights, his presidency could easily be delegitimize. In fact, the left will have no difficulty making that case, far less difficulty than the right does today trying to delegitimize Pres. Obama and the people who voted for him.

Ultimately, if the right is successful, only those who vote “appropriately” will be allowed to vote — and the apartheid society that is most likely to result from that success is positively terrifying. It should be terrifying to you, too.

Our ideas should win elections, and if they can’t, they deserve to lose. Further, if you have to suppress the vote in order to win elections, it should be a sign that your ideas might need more work, not that the voters are wrong.

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Court candidates visit MCDW meeting

If you missed our most recent meeting of the Milam County Democratic Women, you missed an interesting and informative event. We had two lively and articulate judicial candidates on hand to explain the importance of judicial races, and why they are running.

3rd Court of Appeals candidate Karen Watkins (right) attended our meeting Saturday and delivered the message that “when Democrats vote, Democrats win.” She talked about how that court is critical to state government corruption issues because it is the court that hears appeals out of Travis County, which is responsible for watch-dogging state government.

Keith Hampton, candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, also spoke to the Democratic women on Saturday. His message was simple. The woman he is running against, Sharon Keller, is the judge who famously closed her office door to a death row appeal at 5 p.m. and earned a $100,000 fine for violating judicial ethics.

Upcoming training opportunity: A lot of people have asked for training opportunities. Here’s your chance! The Milam County Democratic Party will host Senate District 5 for a GOTV session Saturday, July 28 at the Union Hall in Rockdale. The cost is $10 per person and includes lunch and snacks but please RSVP to my email (below, or call 512.760.5748) so we can get a head count.

Plus, stay tuned for more events in August!
And, finally, here’s a cute photo chock full of awwwwwwwwww!

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