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Welcome to Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig where we discuss local, state, national, and international stories. My co-host and show editor is Andrew Ferguson.
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- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
POSSIBLE TOPICS: VOTETEXAS.GOV—Voter Information; Election Day was yesterday. I hope you went out and voted; MIKE (OPINION): MEDIA FAILS ON BALLOT DISCUSSION; MIKE: So, What Do Democrats Need To Do To Win? (Fear, Anger, Resentment); Fort Bend County Commissioners Court renews Violence Against Women Grant Fund for another year; As vaccinations lag in Cy-Fair, experts say herd immunity may be unattainable; Former ACLU lawyer Rochelle Garza decides to run for attorney general after redistricting upends congressional campaign; Ken Paxton wasting more of Texas taxpayers’ money in pointless Rightwing Republican “pwn the libs” lawsuits; 911 transcripts filed in updated “Trump Train” lawsuit reveal San Marcos police refused to send escort to Biden bus; Minneapolis rejects policing overhaul, CNN projects; Democrats Push for Agreement on Tax Deduction That Benefits the Rich; and More.
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- Make sure you are registered to vote! VoteTexas.GOV – Texas Voter InformationTEXAS SoS VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT APPLICATION (ALL TEXAS COUNTIES) HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting Centers, (Election Information Line (713) 755-6965), Harris County Clerk
- Harris County “Vote-By-Mail’ Application for 2021
- Fort bend County Elections/Voter Registration Machine takes you to the proper link
- GalvestonVotes.org (Galveston County, TX)
- Liberty County Elections (Liberty County, TX)
- Montgomery County (TX) Elections
- Brazoria County (TX) Clerk Election Information
- Waller County (TX) Elections
- Chambers County (TX) Elections
- For personalized, nonpartisan voter guides and information, Consider visiting Vote.ORG. Ballotpedia.com and Texas League of Women Voters are also good places to get election info.
- If you are denied your right to vote any place at any time at any polling place for any reason, ask for (or demand) a provisional ballot rather than lose your vote.
- HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting CentersHARRIS COUNTY – IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING: Do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs?
- Fill out a declaration at the polls describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining it, and show a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- A government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check
- A certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes your identity (which may include a foreign birth document)
- You may vote early by-mail if:You are registered to vote and meet one of the following criteria:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period;
- Sick or disabled;
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote.
- Make sure you are registered:
- Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar
- CHECK REGISTRATION STATUS HERE
- CLICK How to register to vote in Texas
- Outside Texas, try Vote.org.
- I’ve been hoping for discussion of the Texas Constitutional amendments, but have seen basically none. But Now, I’ve discovered that the Texas League of Women Voters has a list of the amendments with PROs and CONs!
- SO useful! Just click on the link –> https://lwvtexas.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=979482&module_id=490719
- Election Day was yesterday. I hope you went out and voted.
- Let’s run down the results on the Texas Amendments to the State Constitution.
- They all passed with varying majorities.
- ANDREW: It could also be constitution fatigue. Texas pretty much legislates everything through constitutional amendments, so maybe because they’re so common, people stop paying attention to them, so the media does the same for ratings’ sake? On the election results, I voted against everything except Proposition 2, so I’m not happy either.
- MIKE (OPINION): MEDIA FAILS ON BALLOT DISCUSSION
- Last week, Andrew and I did a whole show on the pros and cons of the 8 proposed Texas amendments. (It failed to broadcast for technical reasons, but is on my website.) I ended up voting “no” on everything except #2 (counties being permitted to issued infrastructure bonds) and #10 (benefits for spouses of military personnel killed in the line of duty rather than in combat).
- I only found one site (though there may have been others) that discussed the pros and cons of the proposed Constitutional amendments. But it shouldn’t have been that hard!
- So, we decided to do a whole show on the propositions. But we’re tiny media. Where was “big” media on informing the public about these propositions?
- Going back a month on Chron,com, October 4 (as far as available), I only found editorials on Props 2 (“yes”) and 3 (“no”).
- That was 2 down, with only 6 to go. So what? They don’t give a flip about the other 6? They don’t matter? Nothing to see there?
- This is a complete abdication of the Chron’s‘ responsibility as a monopoly as the only citywide newspaper.
- Did the media stations in Texas do their duty as public servants on the airwaves of detailing these propositions and their pros and cons? Did any of them refer listeners or viewers to their websites for further information? Did any stations make an endorsement of any kind? Did they abdicate their responsibilities as public airwaves assets — Leased from the federal government, remember, to serve the pubic good — to inform the public about issues of concern? Was it because none of the propositions involved blood, sex or violence? Should these questions be raised when their broadcast licenses come up for renewal?!
- I am angry! If the public is ignorant of the issues, there are two causes: People don’t seek out information often enough, and public media don’t do their duty of informing the public often enough. It shouldn’t be this hard!
- Information about issues important to the public should be easy to find. It shouldn’t require the kind of digging I had to do before I found discussion of the 8 propositions for the Texas Amendments on the website of the League of Women Voters of Texas.
- One of this show’s slogans is, “An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.”
- So maybe a pertinent question is, who are the powers that want the public to remain ignorant?
- ANDREW: IMO, Democrats’ critical failure is arrogance. They are so used to being the only other game in town, considering non-voters disposable, and treating anyone who voted third-party or independent as a lost lamb in need of a shepherd, and while that may have been a legitimate strategy when most people voted, the level of belief in voting as a system has changed, in large part due to that “voting for us is inevitable” strategy and the legislative complacency it invites. A lot fewer people vote now, and the Democrats are a big reason why. I think the Democratic Party is a relic from a bygone era, and the best thing they could do for society is to throw their weight behind other left-wing parties like the Greens and Socialists, while accepting that they can’t be allowed positions of power in those parties, otherwise the same destructive cycle will happen again.
- ANDREW: But that’s not going to happen any time soon, because both major parties are concerned with their own interests (and their big donors’ interests) first. So instead, if Democrats want to start winning again, they need to stop looking down on non-voters and third-party voters, and start asking those people what they want the Democratic Party to do, and then do that. In other words, prove that the Democratic Party is worthy of their vote, like candidates in a representative democracy are supposed to do. Their base is shrinking all the time. They need to build it back up, and this is how.
- Fort Bend County Commissioners Court renews Violence Against Women Grant Fund for another year; By Sierra Rozen |COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 3:19 PM Nov 2, 2021 CDT | Updated 3:19 PM Nov 2, 2021 CDT
- The Violence Against Women Grant Fund has been renewed for another year in Fort Bend County. Commissioners ratified the grant funds at the Nov. 2 meeting.
- In total, Fort Bend County received $182,607 from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, while the county did a cash match of $222,746, according to court agenda documents. The grant comes from the Office on Violence Against Women, which falls under the U.S. Department of Justice.
- The grant pays for people who work specifically in the county’s domestic violence unit, according to Wesley Wittig, the executive assistant district attorney at the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.
- “We’ve actually had that [Violence Against Women] Grant for years and years and years, and it pays for a prosecutor, [and] it pays for a couple of investigators that specifically work in our domestic violence unit,” Wittig said.
- ANDREW: I wonder if any of that grant money goes to social services. Food, shelter, education, that sort of thing. This article talks a lot about intervention, which is fine, that will always be needed in some form in spousal abuse cases, but I think prevention is just as important. I think abuse is a learned or developed behavior, either because the abuser knew someone abusive and picked it up, or because they learned to get what they needed to survive out of people and then forget them after that. Social services could address both of those paths to abuse by providing a stable environment free of abusive influences and also satisfying any survival needs. I’m no expert, and this is all theoretical, but I think it could work.
- As vaccinations lag in Cy-Fair, experts say herd immunity may be unattainable; By Jishnu Nair, Hannah Zedaker | 2:22 PM Nov 2, 2021 CDT | Updated 2:22 PM Nov 2, 2021 CDT
- … Harris County’s COVID-19 response division is seeing … [vaccine] hesitancy on a countywide scale. Jennifer Kiger, the division’s director, said the county is lagging on vaccination rates, including in parts of the Cy-Fair area. …
- While Harris County Public Health rolled out initiatives this summer to incentivize vaccines, Kiger said reaching herd immunity—when a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to a disease through vaccination and/or prior illness—is becoming increasingly unattainable.
- “[Herd immunity is] getting harder and harder to achieve because of the variants and low vaccination rates,” Kiger said. “What we’re trying to achieve now is … a lower hospitalization rate, low morbidity/mortality rates and … less community spread.” …
- [According to Cy-Fair ISD, more] than 4,200 confirmed [covid] cases were reported on campuses from the start of the school year Aug. 23 through Oct. 19.
- MIKE: There’s a bit more to this article and some really good graphics detailing high and low vaccination rates by area, age group, and ethnicity.
- ANDREW: I can’t recall in my life ever seeing this much open opposition to vaccines. I understand where some groups of people are coming from, like some Black people, considering Black communities had been covertly subject to medical experiments by the federal government in the past. But the majority of resistance just baffles me. They say the ingredients aren’t safe, or they’re allergic. You show them that those ingredients aren’t used anymore, or at any hazardous amount. They say “Even so, I just don’t feel safe getting vaccinated.” Why? I honestly wonder if it’s more to do with wanting to go against the grain than any kind of actual health concern.
- Former ACLU lawyer Rochelle Garza decides to run for attorney general after redistricting upends congressional campaign; Garza, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, had been running to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville. U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, is now running for Vela’s seat after redistricting made Gonzalez’s seat more competitive for Republicans. by Patrick Svitek | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG | Nov. 1, 20219 AM Central
- Democrat Rochelle Garza, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union from the Rio Grande Valley, is running for attorney general after redistricting complicated her campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville.
- Garza previously faced off against Attorney General Ken Paxton in the courts in 2017 when she represented an undocumented teenager fighting to get an abortion, which she obtained after a federal appeals court ruled in her favor. Garza said protecting abortion rights is one of her top priorities.
- Garza had been campaigning for Vela’s seat for months, but neighboring Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, recently announced he would seek reelection in Vela’s 34th Congressional District after redistricting made his current seat more competitive for Republicans.
- “Given my background, my work, I believe that this race is the right place to be,” Garza said in an interview. “I also believe that if we’re gonna change anything in Texas, it’s gonna have to come at the state level because we’ve seen the damage that the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have done to this state and the harm they’ve done to the people.” …
- Garza joins a Democratic primary for attorney general that already includes at least two candidates: Joe Jaworski, a Galveston lawyer and former mayor of the city, and Lee Merritt, the nationally known civil rights attorney from the Dallas area. The primary is slated for March 1.
- Paxton has attracted his own crowd of Republican primary opponents amid a series of legal problems, including a years long securities fraud case and an FBI investigation into claims he abused his office to help a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both instances. …
- Ken Paxton wasting more of Texas taxpayers’ money in pointless Rightwing Republican “pwn the libs” lawsuits.
- Since first being sworn in as Texas AG in January 2015, Ken Paxton filed 27 of those lawsuits against the Obama administration during a two-year stretch, of which six were heard in the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s obtained an injunction or other winning ruling in more than 75 percent of the cases he’s brought against the federal government. (About the Attorney General)
- Since President Obama took office in 2009, the state of Texas has sued his administration at least 48 times. Here’s a look at each of those cases. (Texas vs. the Feds — A Look at the Lawsuits)
- As President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors took effect, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told state agencies he’d gladly sue the federal government [to defend those contractors] if they choose to instead follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s order blocking such requirements. (AG Paxton vows to sue the feds for any state agency defying Biden vaccine mandate, HOUSTONCHRONICLE.COM, Oct. 25, 2021911 transcripts filed in updated “Trump Train” lawsuit reveal San Marcos police refused to send escort to Biden bus
- MIKE: Maybe those resources could have been put to better use for consumer protection? Or going after corporate polluters?
- ANDREW: There’s a couple of things to talk about here. First, God I hope someone kicks Paxton out of office. If you’ve followed his career (and his allegations) at all, I’m sure you do too. Second, we continue to feel the effects of the terrible new district maps the Legislature drew last month. It just makes the case stronger for throwing the whole system out with the Fair Representation Act.
- 911 transcripts filed in updated “Trump Train” lawsuit reveal San Marcos police refused to send escort to Biden bus; The highway confrontation between a Biden bus and Trump supporters made national news in the final days of the heated 2020 presidential campaign. The incident involved at least one minor collision and led to Texas Democrats canceling three scheduled campaign events. by Kate McGee | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG | Oct. 29, 202111 PM Central
- An amended complaint against San Marcos law enforcement says officials dismissed Democratic campaigners’ pleas for help and fears of danger during a highway skirmish last year with supporters of President Donald Trump.
- As supporters of then-President Donald Trump surrounded and harassed a Joe Biden campaign bus on a Central Texas highway last year, San Marcos police officials and 911 dispatchers fielded multiple requests for assistance from Democratic campaigners and bus passengers who said they feared for their safety from a pack of motorists, known as a “Trump Train,” allegedly driving in dangerously aggressive ways.
- “San Marcos refused to help,” an amended federal lawsuit over the 2020 freeway skirmish claims.
- Transcribed 911 audio recordings and documents that reveal behind-the-scenes communications among law enforcement and dispatchers were included in the amended lawsuit, filed late Friday.
- The transcribed recordings were filed in an attempt to show that San Marcos law enforcement leaders chose not to provide the bus with a police escort multiple times, even though police departments in other nearby cities did. In one transcribed recording, Matthew Daenzer, a San Marcos police corporal on duty the day of the incident, refused to provide an escort when recommended by another jurisdiction. …
- The amended filing also states that in those audio recordings, law enforcement officers “privately laughed” and “joked about the victims and their distress.”
- Former state Sen. Wendy Davis, who was running for Congress at the time, is among the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The new complaint also expands the number of people and entities being sued to include Daenzer, San Marcos assistant police chief Brandon Winkenwerder and the city itself. A spokesperson for the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday. Daenzer and Winkenwerder could not immediately be reached. …
- The lawsuit alleges that by refusing the help, law enforcement officers violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 because they were aware of “acts of violent political intimidation” but did not take appropriate steps to prevent the Trump supporters from intimidating eligible voters. …
- According to the filing, plaintiffs argue a text message between some of the San Marcos police officers who refused to provide assistance “poked fun at the attack.”
- To support that claim, the lawsuit refers to a group text message among San Marcos officers, including Winkenwerder, in which an unidentified person appears to refer to Democrats who drove through town as a derogatory slang term for someone who is mentally disabled. …
- Minneapolis rejects policing overhaul, CNN projects; By Gregory Krieg, Omar Jimenez and Peter Nickeas, CNN | Updated 3:12 AM ET, Wed November 3, 2021
- … The status quo-affirming result is a setback to both citywide and national efforts to fundamentally reduce or eliminate the role of police in America. Opponents of calls to “defund the police” will point to the vote as fresh evidence that the backlash to police abuse that fueled last year’s protests, which followed the killing of Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Talk of curbing police departments by cutting or limiting their resources has run into a countervailing wall of concern over public safety and waning support from early allies — including leading Democrats who largely view it as political poison. …
- MIKE: In a video report, I think CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez nailed it: “Both sides couldn’t figure out what the other side was doing and what their logic was. … The people on the “no” side of the votes … were concerned that there were no specifics as a part of this ballot question. And so while there were ideas out there, oh this could include mental health support or violence prevention services, that was not explicitly laid out … .”
- MIKE: This again boils down again to, “Succinct messaging matters. Vague messaging fails.”
- ANDREW: I agree this is vague messaging, but maybe not in the way you think it is. A spokesperson for the Yes campaign said in USA Today that “…this entire amendment is dedicated to expanding and fully funding the department of public safety.” To me, this is not a Defund the Police initiative, but a reform initiative, and confusing the two is something the movement has been fighting against for a long time. I think a lot of liberals who really want reform are trying to market their reforms as defunding to try and capitalize on the movement, which I think is a terrible idea, as it just confuses everyone who isn’t already familiar with what Defund proposals actually look like. I’m including in this week’s show post a link to Black Lives Matter Canada’s website about Defund the Police, and I think if you compare what’s proposed there to what the residents of Minneapolis voted on, you’ll agree that they’re very different ideas with very different end goals.
- Democrats Push for Agreement on Tax Deduction That Benefits the Rich; Lawmakers are coalescing around a deal to suspend a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions that was imposed during the Trump administration. By Emily Cochrane and Alan Rappeport | NYTIMES.COM | Nov. 2, 2021
- Democrats were readying an agreement on Tuesday that would repeal a cap on the amount of state and local taxes that homeowners can deduct as part of a broader $1.85 trillion spending bill, a move that could amount to a significant tax cut for wealthy Americans in liberal states.
- But some liberals quickly balked at the emerging agreement, which would suspend a $10,000 cap on the so-called SALT deduction for five years, removing a limit that Republicans included in their 2017 tax package as a way to pay for cuts for corporations and the rich. The suspension would kick in for deductions related to property taxes and state and local income taxes accrued in 2021 and would run through 2025.
- If it passes, the deal would be a major concession to a handful of Democrats from high-income states like New York and New Jersey who have insisted on lifting the cap, in order to win their votes for President Biden’s social policy and climate change package.
- But liberal Democrats have scoffed at the push to include the costly proposal in the domestic policy package, particularly as party leaders have curtailed or eliminated other spending priorities as they pare down a $3.5 trillion blueprint to appease moderate and conservative-leaning Democrats.
- Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chairman of the Budget Committee, blasted the repeal on Tuesday as a giveaway to the rich that went against the Democrats’ priorities. …
- The deduction is largely used by wealthy homeowners who itemize their deductions and live in states and cities with high taxes, which tend to be led by Democrats. Democrats accused Republicans of using the cap to pay for other tax cuts for the rich and to penalize liberal states. …
- The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget described the repeal of the SALT cap as a “regressive” tax cut, estimating that it would cost $90 billion a year in lost government revenue. The wealthiest would make out the best, with a SALT cap repeal distributing more than $300,000 per household in the top 0.1 percent of earners and only $40 for a middle-income family over the first two years. …
- The right-leaning Tax Foundation estimated that repealing the cap would increase after-tax income of the top 1 percent of earners by 2.8 percent, while the bottom 80 percent would get minimal benefit. …
- Republicans seized on the agreement on Tuesday, accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for backing an “anti-progressive” handout.
- “First Democrats cut out paid leave,” J.P. Freire, a spokesman for Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, said on Twitter. “Now they’re shoveling money to the rich.”
- MIKE: There’s the question here of of double taxation.
- MIKE: Let’s say you earn $100. Let’s further say you pay a total of $7 to the state and the city. It seems like the federal government should tax you on the remaining $93. But, because those $7 are not deductible, the IRS taxes the whole $100. So that $7 has been taxed twice. That is double taxation.
- MIKE: Being able to deduct one’s state and local taxes from federal taxes at least felt fair. Therefore, the $10,000 deduction cap damaged that perception of fairness, because if you owed more than $10,000, the difference could not be deducted.
- This was intended as a punishment of Democrat-led states. Having that that deduction softened the blow of state and local taxes on residents, making it more palatable to pay those taxes. The cap made many people more resentful of those local taxes, and that resentment was part of the Republican goal.
- Let’s try to estimate where this cap begins to bite. My “back of the envelope” calculation guesses it might be at a taxable income of maybe $140,000, after other deductions. My calculation also assumes combined local taxes (property, and state & local income) of about 7% of gross.
- MIKE: People in states with no or local income taxes come off pretty well, because it’s harder to hit that $10,000 cap with just property taxes.
- MIKE: Of course, rather than eliminate the cap altogether, the Democrats could work on the formula by, say, lowering the cap for states that have no income taxes, thus raising more revenue from those states. That could make up for any shortfall generated by a change.
- MIKE: If any part of this confused you (because it confused us), go to the show post ThinkwingRadio.com for the written version.