Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Battle Ground Dallas-- Texas And Its People Are So Much Better Than Their Politicians


Redistricting takes place at the beginning of every decade, after the census. But in 2002 Republicans won control of the Texas legislature for the first time in 130 years. They immediately set about redrawing the state's congressional districts-- absurdly in many cases-- to send more Republicans and fewer Democrats to Congress. AT the time, Democrats held 17 seats to the Republicans 15. Tom DeLay, then House Majority Whip, oversaw the legislative takeover and then the gerrymandering. After the 2004 election, the Republicans he'd 21 seats and the Democrats 11. One of DeLay's tactics was to carve up Democratic areas-- Austin being the most obvious-- to dilute Democratic votes. Among DeLay's Democratic targets were Max Sandlin (who he replaced with Louie Gohmert) Charlie Stenholm (defeated by Randy Neugebauer), and Martin Frost (one of the top Democratic House leaders and DCCC chair). A Jewish conservative, Frost was a top Democratic rainmaker and was considered a possible future Speaker. He was probably DeLay's #1 target. His district included parts of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington. DeLay redrew it by taking out Democratic-friendly areas of Fort Worth and Arlington and putting in rich, white Republican suburbs around Dallas. While Al Gore won the old district in 2000, the new boundaries would have given George W. Bush a huge 68% landslide. The new district was specifically redrawn for right-wing state Rep Kenny Marchant, who still occupies it today. Frost's home in Arlington was shifted into a heavily Republican district, represented by 10-term incumbent Joe "oily Joe" Barton. Frost decided to seek re-election in the newly redrawn 32nd District, which included some of the district he represented from 1979 'til 1993. It didn't work; he lost by 10 points to Republican Pete Sessions, who still holds the seat.

Goal ThermometerThe Republicans have had to gerrymander the district again to exclude an exploding Latino population around Irving and Grand Prairie. DeLay and then Republicans in the legislature  ten years later didn't take the rapid changes in demographics seriously enough. In 2016 Hillary, who had no expectations of winning in Texas, took TX-32 by 2 points, 48.5% to 46.6%. Sessions, who didn't even have a Democratic opponent in 2016, is suddenly a top Democratic target. This morning Gloria Steinem announced her endorsement of Lillian Salerno. "Lillian," she wrote, "is the perfect woman to bring real life to Washington. She worked her way through college and law school, made a life's work out of finding people jobs, and knows what it is to be the single mother of three. It’s so important to elect a leader like Lillian to Congress-- we need more women’s voices speaking up for paid family leave, equal pay for equal work, and policies to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Texas only sends 3 women, out of a delegation of 38, to Washington right now. This is shameful! Texas women deserve true representation in government. The current representative for Lillian's district, Pete Sessions, voted against the Affordable Care Act, voted to cut Planned Parenthood funding, and even voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Women need someone in Congress fighting for them and their families, not actively working against them.

Today there are 7 Democrats vying for the party nomination, including 3 who have raised over 6-figures: Clinton centrist Ed Meier, Obama centrist Colin Allred and independent-minded progressive Lillian Salerno. Blue America has endorsed Lillian and with that primary coming up so quickly-- 2 weeks from tomorrow-- I want to reintroduce her and make another appeal, asking you to help her fund her get-out-the-vote efforts. (You can do that by tapping on the Blue America Turning Texas Blue Again thermometer just above on the right. Meanwhile please take a look at a guest post Lillian wrote:

Defying The Alarming Trend Of Growing Corporate Power
by Lillian Salerno

In 1994, at the height of the AIDS crisis, in which I lost several friends and a beloved employee to the disease, I started a manufacturing company in Little Elm, about 35 miles north of Dallas, to produce the first-ever automatically retracting syringe to eliminate the risk of nurses contracting HIV through accidental needle sticks. The syringe received rave reviews from nurses, hospital executives and public health officials, a major grant from the National Institutes of Health and robust private investment. But when my partners and I tried to sell it to hospitals, we were told time and time again that even though it was a better product-- a lifesaving product-- they weren’t able to purchase it. The primary supplier of syringes, which controlled 80 percent of the market, structured an arrangement with a vast network of hospitals that essentially closed our industry to new firms for good, and the entire rural community of Little Elm suffered as a result.

I thought my story was a unique, that I picked a rotten industry to enter and had to fight hard as a small business just to stay alive. I was so caught up in my own fight for so long, I didn’t see the bigger picture until some years later. Like many, I was inspired by candidate Barack Obama’s rhetoric to restore power to the people, and I entered his administration aiming to fight for small business, to give those farmers and entrepreneurs the government support that the FTC and DoJ wouldn’t to give to me.

When I began to meet with America’s family farmers and entrepreneurs, a painful familiarity began to set in. Suddenly, I began to realize that the medical device industry wasn’t especially rotten, but rather that monopoly had become standard in the American marketplace. Early on, I remember in the drive back after a disheartening meeting with a small business owner, I asked a friend, “what is the government doing about this?” she looked at me and laughed. I realized that I was the government, and while I could help with some auxiliary issues, I didn’t have the power to tackle the structural issue of monopoly. Truth be told, I learned that there wasn’t much of an appetite to take on monopolies in the Obama administration. The candidate who I believed would defy the alarming trend of growing corporate power fell in line.

The consequences of growing corporate concentration are wide-ranging and dramatic. New research shows (Declining Labor and Capital Shares by Simcha Barkai) that around the average worker would be making around 14,000 dollars a year more if the economy was as concentrated as it was 30 years ago. But nowhere are the effects more visible than in America’s family farms and small-towns. Corporations dominate local economies to such an extent that people are unable to start their own businesses or sell into markets. These mega-corporations impede on worker’s freedom to take their labor elsewhere for better pay, they impede on the family farmer’s right to fair pay and access to market. Small town’s no longer have the power to shape their own economic destinies, which were once vigorously protected by federal antimonopoly laws.

Evidence on monopolies impact on small towns can be seen from data on economic recovery. From 2010 to 2014, 60 percent of counties nationwide saw more businesses close than open, compared with just 17 percent during the four years following the 1990s slowdown. During the 1990s recovery, smaller communities-- counties with less than half a million people-- generated 71 percent of all net new businesses, with counties under 100,000 people accounting for a full third. During the 2010 to 2014 recovery, however, the figure for counties with fewer than half a million people was 19 percent. For counties with less than 100,000 people, it was zero.

How did we get here? After the Great Depression, the government used antimonopoly laws to keep markets open and fair for smaller, independent businesses-- in other words, to keep mom-and-pop shops open and Main Street buzzing. These were businesses run by people who cared about and understood their communities, that kept wealth circulating locally, that created the vast majority of new jobs and that were often the source of game-changing innovation.

But in the 1980s, folks in power decided bigger was better, and conventional political wisdom followed suit. For the federal officials charged with protecting competition, that meant that cheap consumer prices trumped all other values, including the preservation of American jobs, open and competitive markets where innovation could flourish, and maintaining level playing fields for start-ups and small businesses. To this day, when government officials evaluate mergers, it’s considered a good thing when they result in job losses-- because that means, in the twisted reasoning we still use, gains in economic efficiency. The hard-working Americans turned out on the street corner to look for new jobs are the human sacrifices to the insatiable beast of corporate concentration.

It is a myth that the economic challenges that family farmers and small-town America face are caused by forces largely outside our control, like globalization or improvements in technology. We have the ability to help restore competition and economic vibrancy in rural America and beyond. The government has the authority to ensure markets are once again open and competitive so that communities have a chance to shape their own economic destinies.

Small town’s aren’t defined by the major corporations that sell in franchised retailers. Small town’s aren't corporate mega-farms. Small towns are the mom and pop stores and the local restaurants, the family farmers and small manufacturers willing to employ someone in the community who’s fallen on hard times. Small towns are unique ecosystems of small businesses and family farmers and if monopoly power keeps growing unchecked, small towns will lose their identity.

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At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great write up by Lilian Salerno. Industry consolidation—monopoly— is one of the biggest under reported stories behind our economy that is miserably failing the middle class. Profits are being ripped out of communities to enrich multinational conglomerates. Private equity funds are helping accelerate this asset stripping. If we are ever going to reverse income inequality in this country we need a fearless anti trust division in the Justice Department that will break apart big Finance, big Energy, big Pharma, big Agriculture, big Retail, and big Defense contractors. As E.F. Schumacher said “Small is Beautiful.”

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would point out that Lilian is a fool. Only a complete moron would point to the 1980 as the line of demarcation between the New Deal paradigm and the one where monopolies rule without pointing out that 1980 is when American morons elected the demented fascist Reagan by a landslide.

"Truth be told, I learned that there wasn’t much of an appetite to take on monopolies in the Obama administration. The candidate who I believed would defy the alarming trend of growing corporate power fell in line."

Only a total fool would have presumed obamanation was anything BUT a corporatist shill and a supporter of monopolies (for the purpose of getting the max donations) once he named his cabinet and staff in 2008. Only a total fool would have believed a single progressive word emanation from that lying pos's mouth after he manned his admin with corporate monopolists and other forms of money whores.

Sorry, Lilian. I could never vote for a total fool.

Oh, and texas' people and the sub-sentient Nazis they elect are one and the same. If you think otherwise, YOU are a total fool.

Everywhere that elects a potted plant, a corrupt democrap or a Nazi, you'll find an electorate consisting of same. How else would Louis gomert or ted cruz ever get elected?

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monopolistic corporations own the government. The government makes the laws and enforces them as they see fit to benefit their donors. Gillens and Page proved that We the People have no say in the governance of our nation. Sound like Monopolism has nothing to worry about.


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