Texpatriate endorses in CD7

In previous editorials, this board has lamented the sorry state that Congress is in today. Invariably, we criticized the Republican majority for their hypocrisy, malice and obstinate attitude. We think Congressman John Culberson of the 7th District exemplifies all three of these poor qualities, and that voters would be wise to toss him out of office in favor James Cargas, the Democratic candidate.

In this western Houston suburban district, which was once held by former President George H.W. Bush at the start of his political career, Culberson has held office in 2001. Previously, Culberson served in the Texas House of Representatives for fourteen years.

Now, if you were not aware that Culberson has been present in Houston politics for well over a decade, you would be forgiven. Culberson apparently no longer lives in Houston, given how little time he actually spends in the district. Nor is his participation in Congress especially noteworthy; in his seven terms in Congress, he has only introduced a handful of bills, and even fewer have actually gone anywhere of consequence. As Texas Monthly would call it, Culberson’s level of participation in the political process is virtually indistinguishable from his tables and chairs.

Of course, when Culberson does participate in the process, it isn’t much better. Perhaps the most infamous example of Culberson’s meddling is with the expansion of the Metro Light Rail on Richmond Avenue. Despite overwhelming community support, Culberson has stood in the way of expansion for the needed mass transit project. He cloaked his small-minded opposition to mass transit as faux-grassroots support of the community. Culberson has even taken this position to its absurd extreme by passing a specific amendment in a transportation bill that denies Federal funding for the expansion project, an action that even drew the ire of fellow Republican Congressman Ted Poe.

And, it almost goes without saying, this board strongly disagrees with many of Culberson’s core political views, including those on social policies, immigration and foreign policy.

Considering all these grievances we have with Culberson, it was a welcome respite to find such an experienced, qualified and sensible opponent in James Cargas. An attorney with the City of Houston, Cargas has a broad background in Oil & Gas that makes him an ideal representative for the centrist district. Furthermore, Cargas shows an expansive and impressive breadth of political knowledge on the pertinent issues. We thoroughly believe that he is more than ready for prime time.

We agree with Cargas on Metrorail expansion, as well as the typical laundry list of political flashpoints. However, perhaps most importantly, we think that he would be an amazing communicator with his prospective constituents, a very welcome change from the incumbent. In a possible Cargas tenure, the people –and not the special interests– would be put above all else.

The residents of District 7, including three members of this board, have a very simple choice to make. Either continue along with a Congressman that shows minimal-effort and maximum-malice on most issues, or pick an alternative that does not. We are wholeheartedly going with the latter.

The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston, Luis Fayad of College Station and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority opinion of the voting board.

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Bush the environmental realist?

The Texas Tribune published a fairly detailed interview with George P. Bush, the Republican candidate for Land Commissioner, yesterday. Most notable among its lengthy contents was that he had a rather pragmatic take on environmental issues, at least in comparison with his compatriots. Bush, of course, is the son of former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush (ergo, the nephew of George W. Bush).

Among the many examples of his perceived moderation on these issues is that he admits global warming is occurring, though the Tribune pointedly notes that he stops short of attributing it to humans. However, perhaps more importantly, Bush does note that something needs to be done about global warming and the deleterious effects it will have around the world, specifically in Texas. He laments the coming rise of the sea level, claiming it is something that “keeps him up at night.” This is a very different line of reason from most other Republicans who concede global warming occurs but still claim man does not affect it. Those arguments typically make a point of saying that people cannot do anything to affect global warming, so we need not alter our environmental policies.

Furthermore, Bush countered some of his colleagues by stating that he would not want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, though he definitely strongly disagrees with most of their recent mandates. I, for one, am not impressed by this concession. Is it supposed to be impressive? Rick Perry claimed the EPA need not be abolished in the midst of his epic debate failure a few years back.

However, Bush appeared content –even tepidly supportive– with the reality that the EPA and other major players are trying to transition the consumption of energy away from fossil fuels such as coal, and onto cleaner sources such as natural gas, before moving onto full renewable sources.

In the full interview –which you can read here— Bush went on at length about how it is a good thing to wean the State off of oil (yeah, you read that right) and mitigate emissions of carbon dioxide. He even spoke quite favorably of Garry Mauro, a Democrat who was Land Commissioner for the four terms between 1983 and 1999, for similar initiatives. Mauro, for his part, said he was “shocked” upon learning of the compliments and the pragmatism.

Obviously, Bush’s views on many environmental topics, namely a support of increased fracking, are dangerous and short-sighted. But the shift to a more reality-based approach on these issues is very, very good news. Anyone with a half a brain can tell that Bush has ambitions for higher office, namely Governor either four or eight years down the line. In my opinion, Texas will be a swing state by then, so for the Republicans to nominate a partisan zealot at that time would be exceedingly unwise.

Historical conservatism, the type Bush’s great-grandfather (Prescott Bush) who served as a Senator from Connecticut subscribed to, was actually quite receptive to environmental issues. A terrific profile in The Atlantic recently explored this idea, noting how “Earth Day” was once derided by left-wing groups such as SDS as a type of elitism. Hopefully, attention to the earth could one day be restored to the GOP.

Additionally, I sincerely hope that otherwise liberal individuals, much like myself, do not continue griping at Bush about him not coming “far enough” on the issue. Make no mistake, any progress on this issue from Republicans is a good thing, and should rightly be celebrated. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating for many years to come…right from our beachfront properties in downtown Houston.

Robert Strauss, 1918-2014

I am a little late to recognize this, but it was a very important event that deserves recognition nonetheless. Robert Strauss, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Convention and a truly larger than life figure for Texas Democrats, died on Tuesday at the age of 95. A product of rural Texas, Strauss attended UT and quickly befriended a fellow student named John Connolly. He, of course, would go on to serve as Governor in the 1960s, when Strauss served as a key adviser to both him and President Lyndon Johnson.

Beginning in 1972, Strauss served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Convention. He continued to serve in that capacity until Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as President in 1977. In fact, for two of those years, fellow Texan George H.W. Bush served as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, prompting Texas Monthly to run this cover in 1974.

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