Civil Affairs: Pragmatism


For those who did not hear, I was on television last night. Specifically, on the program “Red, White and Blue” on the local PBS affiliate. Among the many topics that we discussed was just how the Statewide Democratic slate might do well in November. Jay Aiyer, a law professor at Texas Southern University and one of my fellow panelists, opined that Democrats should move to the center and embrace causes typically not associated with contemporary liberalism. As you may have noticed if you watched the program, I also suggested that some embrace of social issues, specifically gay rights and abortion, might end up benefiting the Democrats. I also noted that Aiyer’s suggestion and mine were not necessarily mutually exclusive, as evident by a political persona such as Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, the Governor of New York, is likely the type of Democrat that candidates in Texas should strive to emulate. Unapologetic in his embrace of liberal social positions, though overwhelmingly business friendly, Cuomo has marked out of position on the political spectrum that transcends the typical constraints of dichotomous opposition.  Most important of all, Cuomo possesses a trait that I call “ruthless pragmatism,” not necessarily in the style of Frank Underwood, but maintaining a healthy alacrity to changing issues and conventions nonetheless.

However, a true of pet peeve of mine would be when the idea of pragmatism is misused or otherwise adulterated by someone who is just weak willed. Not to be too cliche, but the word is defined as practically, realistically or otherwise sensibly dealing with issues. Pragmatism is not tantamount to equivocation. Just because something might be popular does not mean that it is necessarily pragmatic, particularly if there are other negative implications.

Click here to see how this all connects with the Statewide elections!

Memorial Day


My grandfather served in World War II, being part of a unit that landed on Omaha Beach and suffered very heavy losses. His two brothers also fought, serving in the South Pacific and fighting in the Battle of Guadalcanal. However, this holiday is not about them; they all survived the war.  Memorial Day is about those who give the ultimate sacrifice –their life– in the service of their country. It is about the men who served as the namesake for my father and, by extension, my nephew. My grandfather had multiple friends in the service named James, all of whom died when their company scaled the gigantic cliffs at the end of the Normandy beachhead.

The holiday is also about more than those who died on the battlefield. Those who return home with untreated ailments that prove ultimately fatal should be memorialized as well, just as vigorously. These include physical ailments, such as lymphoma from exposure to Agent Orange, and mental ailments, such as post traumatic stress order shell shock from traumatic experiences that often leads to suicide. The rate of suicide among recent veterans has jumped 44% in recent years alone, being one of the biggest unaddressed issues facing today’s veterans.

This is only compounded by the recent scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Forget about assigning winners and losers, or ascribing blame. How about, just today, our top priority be to lessen the suffering of those who have put everything on the line for the good of their countrymen. Veterans should transcend the politics behind wars; they are the brave young men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives for country. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a supporter of the Iraq War in any way, shape or form, but believe that the veterans created by that conflict should be taken care of as one of our biggest national priorities. Those who lost their lives in the conflict should be revered as strongly as any other serviceman.

Click here to read more, including today’s relevance for tomorrow!

Voting recap



Photo courtesy of Greg Enos, Esq.

Yesterday, I went to early vote at West Gray, in the heart of Montrose. I ran into Alicia Franklin and Tonya McLaughlin, two Republicans running in primary runoffs for judicial elections; both have been Texpatriate-endorsed. Unfortunately, I could not vote for either of these well-qualified candidates, as I had voted in the preliminary Democratic primary and thus was required to vote in the Democratic runoff.

Accordingly, I voted for David Alameel in the US Senate runoff and Kinky Friedman in the Agriculture Commissioner runoff. I got the feeling that I may have been the first Democrat to vote there all day. Considering that there was not a single sign for a Democratic candidate, perhaps I was not too far off, though I did hear that representatives of the Houston GLBT Caucus were present today handing out their slate card (consisting of the single endorsement of Alameel).

Click here to read about the phantom Pratt signs!

Summer plans

Some of us will be working in Houston, some going abroad, but however this group will disperse, we will continue striving to bring Houston & Texas political news and commentary. At this time, however, we would like to discuss two specific political opportunities undertaken by members of this board.

First, George Bailey, the Bostonian of the Editorial Board (& a native Houstonian) has accepted a summer position in the office of Senator Ted Cruz, in Washington D.C. Accordingly, at this time George will refrain from writing anything on Sen. Cruz, and will abstain from any pertinent editorials on those subjects.

Second, Noah M. Horwitz, who is spending an extended summer in Houston this year, has accepted an offer to work on public relations and marketing issues with the Clifford Group. Some of these issues may be hot-button political topics that otherwise would receive coverage on Texpatriate. Accordingly, Noah will not write on any topics he is consulting on and will abstain from editorials on those topics as well.

I voted today

I drove into Houston this morning for a productive weekend to take care of some personal and professional business. Needless to say, one of the first things I did was to go to the West Gray Multiservice Center and fulfill my civic duty to vote. Regardless of what I may have said about the value of voting in the Republican Primary, I voted in the Democratic contest. I voted for the following candidates in contested races, which I have enumerated bellow the jump. Additionally, I cannot help but to note the good feeling I got out of voting for a fellow Horwitz for the second time in my life. My father, James Horwitz, is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in County Probate Judge #4. These are only the races I personally voted in, and they may feature races Texpatriate has yet to field an official endorsement in.

Click here to read my slate!

Texpatriate endorses in Democratic Governor Primary

This board would like to preface its comments by noting that we like State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County) in her, albeit uphill, bid to become the next Governor of Texas. She has shown us time and time again that anything is possible in this great country of ours, even for a single mother at 19, living in a trailer park. She pulled herself up by her bootstraps, went to college, went to Law School at Harvard and made an honest living before starting down the road to public service. In both the Fort Worth City Council and the Texas Senate, she has continued to exemplify some of the best qualities one may look for in a politician. She holds steady to her principles, sometimes for hours on end, though still retains a pragmatic touch when it comes to lawmaking and deals. Many of us would be not only willing, but eager, to vote for her in a general election if it were held today.

Sen. Davis has an opponent in the Democratic primary, though. Besides a lonely profile of the challenger in the Houston Chronicle, however, one would not know it. In countless news articles, Sen. Davis has been referred to as the presumptive Democratic nominee, sometimes without any admission of the factual liberties taken in the title. With only one opponent, however, Sen. Davis got off much easier than the previous Democratic nominee for Governor, Bill White. The former Mayor of Houston faced six challengers in 2010’s Democratic primary, including one well-financed and ostensibly credible opponent.

Click here to read more!

Houston Press picks up Twitter tantrum story

As many may remember (the article got a lot of views), I broke the news late Wednesday that Councilmember James Rodriguez, after getting hammered in the Houston Chronicle, went on an epic Twitter temper tantrum, in which he made disparaging comments towards both the Mayor and Lisa Falkenberg, as well as especially vitriolic remarks towards another Chronicle writer, Jose Ortiz.

I noted all of these tweets, and wrote a post about it, providing photographic evidence. Councilmember Rodriguez responded by hurling repeated personal attacks against me and my family (as well as, at least once more, towards Ortiz). I may have egged him a little bit, but he was incessant in trying to belittle both me and my family in an extend that was wholly uncalled for. The news must have gotten around, because before I knew it, the Houston Press was interviewing me about the incident. Hair Balls wrote up a full incident report on the subject, complete with the screenshots I sent to them.

Click here to read more!

More on Offensive school names

UPDATE: HISD has voted unanimously to drop the offensive mascots, including the Lamar Redskins, so reports the Houston Chronicle.

As I noted on Monday, HISD is moving towards renaming offensive mascot names, most notably the Lamar Redskins, and will decide the matter unequivocally at a Board of Trustees meeting later tonight. But what I would like to talk about is the (albeit quieter) dispute over offensive school names, the most egregious of these being the Confederate officers honored: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and John Reagan.

I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Houston Chronicle on this topic and, much to my amazement, it was printed in yesterday morning’s paper. The astute will recall that, four and a half years ago, I first got into politics by fighting against HISD schools named after Confederates. I had developed a standard speech that I had delivered a few times during those years, lamenting the fact that that African-American students and other minorities would be forced to go to Jeff Davis High School, comparing the plight to me, a Jewish person, going to Adolf Eichmann Middle School.

Accordingly, I was heartened to see the Chronicle’s editorial board write this morning that “HISD should set a policy that prohibits discriminatory…school names.” The editorial, also brought to light the idea that the maltreatment of Native Americans or African-Americans, if applied to another group such as the Jews, would be obviously appalling, and that the same standards should be used for other groups. “Tradition is important, but it should not trump the values of an inclusive society,” the editorial said, just as how I had said “nostalgia and tradition can never be so strong as to allow discrimination in any form to survive.”

Click here to read more!

TPA Roundup (November 25, 2013)

Note: The Texas Progressive Alliance or other blogs do not necessarily represent the views of Texpatriate or its contributors.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is thankful for many things, this week and every week, as we bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff calls on Wendy Davis to make an issue out of Rick Perry’s refusal to follow the Defense Department’s directive on same sex benefits for National Guard members.

Texpatriate has special news this week, as Sophia announced in her Week in Reviewvideo that founder and Editorial Board member Noah M. Horwitz will be moving to Austin this January to continue his collegiate studies at the University of Texas and lead a new and exciting chapter for Texpatriate in the State Capital.

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