MSNBC’s Agenda Panel — Clinton the inevitable successor?

By DrVMDS on December 2, 2013

MSNBC’s Disrupt — Pivot to Foreign Policy

By DrVMDS on

A Texas Latina throws her hat in the ring

By DrVMDS on November 25, 2013

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino

It’s finally official.  Texas state senator Leticia Van de Putte, otherwise known as LVP, is running for Lieutenant Governor next year.

This is a big deal and I’ll get to that in a minute.  But first, a little background on the potential first Latina Lt. Governor of Texas.

It was 1990 and LVP was working as a pharmacist, raising six kids, all under the age of 9, and serving as a precinct chair in San Antonio.  And as precinct chair it was her job to interview candidates to fill the vacancy to a local state house seat.  After interviewing the half a dozen gentlemen running for the position she came away unimpressed and said as much to her husband – who suggested she run.  She took him up on his suggestion, ran and won.

After serving a decade in the Texas House of Representatives LVP successfully ran for the state Senate seat she currently holds.  Throughout her political career in the state house and senate Van de Putte has become a leading voice on veteran’s affairs, education, and economic development.

But beyond a particular issue, LVP’s brand has been that of making sure she’s at the table asking about the people who aren’t, whether that’s the veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, the newly naturalized citizen from Vietnam who can’t read the ballot, or the Latina who is worried about her access to mammograms.  LVP forces her colleagues, the majority of which are white affluent males, to put themselves in someone else’s shoes or at least listen to what she has to say. Continue Reading

Immigration reform failure déjà vu

By DrVMDS on November 21, 2013

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Even before he had the presidential nomination George W. Bush hammered home the importance of treating immigrants with dignity and respect.  And he wasn’t just doing this in Latino heavy primary states such as Texas or Florida.  He was sticking his neck out for immigrants and immigration reform in the small towns of middle America.

Once elected, President Bush sought to put into practice what he had campaigned on –overhauling our immigration system.  Between his inauguration in 2001 and the 9/11 attacks President Bush met with Mexican President Vicente Fox nine times to develop a comprehensive bi-lateral immigration reform.

In the words of former Mexican foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda, President Bush wanted the “whole enchilada” – he wanted a reform that combined a pathway to legalization, a guest worker program, and increased border security.

On September 6, 2001 both Presidents Bush and Fox publically endorsed a framework for comprehensive immigration reform to be completed by the end of the year.  But five days later everything changed with the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Immigration reform wasn’t even put on the back burner, it was taken off the stove.

But in the lead up to the 2004 election, President Bush once again made room for immigration on the policy stove.  The first week of January 2004 the President gave a major speech on immigration.  He outlined a plan that would provide undocumented immigrants legal status and ultimately citizenship.

Continue Reading

MSNBC’s Politics Nation – POTUS comes to Texas

By DrVMDS on November 7, 2013

Well-being of women absent from strict Texas abortion law

By DrVMDS on November 4, 2013

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino

The last Monday in October an injunction blocking parts of Texas’ abortion law went into effect.  But within three days the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling and lifted the injunction. On Monday, abortion-rights groups filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to block Texas from enforcing part of the law, which is regarded as one of the most restrictive in the country.

The provision at issue is the requirement of admitting privileges for physicians providing abortions.  According to the state’s new abortion law physicians must have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius of the clinic where the abortion is performed.

At first sight gaining admitting privileges seems mundane.  But it is a steep logistical hurdle that many abortion providers would not be able to clear.  More importantly, the medical community has not supported these requirements as medically necessary.

The injunction of the admitting privileges requirement was a short-lived win.  The loss came 72 hours later and the effect was felt immediately.  By the evening of when the decision was handed down nine abortion providers, a quarter of the state’s providers, had to cease services.

The three-day injunction did little in the way of preserving the tangible abortion rights of women in the state of Texas.  However, it served to remind us of the core theoretical rights and actors at play.  In his decision, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel stated that the implementation of the admitting privileges provision placed an undue burden on women and as a result was unconstitutional.

His reference to the undue burden women would face goes back to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.  Writing for the majority, Justice Blackmun’s opinion centers on how abortion while fundamentally about a woman’s right to privacy also entails a consideration for the mental and physical costs an unwanted pregnancy represent. Continue Reading

MSNBC’S NOW – Pessimism mounts on Immigration Reform

By DrVMDS on October 31, 2013

Tom DeLay’s political heir: Ted Cruz

By DrVMDS on October 29, 2013

Just a decade ago, Democrats were the majority of Texas’ congressional delegation in the House. The Republican representatives then were the business-friendly, moderate types.

That is no longer the case.

The change in the political culture that gave birth to the likes of Ted Cruz comes down to one man: Tom DeLay. And now Cruz is enjoying the fruits of DeLay’s labor.

In 2002, Republicans won the Texas state legislature for the first time in 130 years. Following that election, Tom DeLay mobilized his state’s Republican politicos to redistrict. The previous round of redistricting for Texas and all other states took place in 2001.

It was an ugly political battle that reached the Supreme Court. In the end, however, DeLay’s plan was successful. Democratic influence was minimized while Republicans were packed into districts leading a rightward drift. The groundwork was set for a Republican conservative movement to filter its way from the local to the national. Continue Reading

MSNBC’s Agenda Panel – 2 Questions: Where’s Rubio & HRC 2016???

By DrVMDS on

Rape & college campuses – an egregious epidemic

By DrVMDS on October 28, 2013

College is one of the most dangerous places for women.  One in four women is a victim of sexual assault while in college.  Yet the Department of Justice estimates that less than five percent of completed and attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement.

College is supposed to be a place where young women go to flourish, not be put in harm’s way.  But this past week seven University of Connecticut students reminded us of the underbelly of sexual violence within our colleges.

Kylie Angell, a former UConn student spoke at a news conference about her rape by a classmate.  But as sad and shocking as the rape itself was the reaction by the campus police officer she reported the incident to.

“The officer told me, ‘Women need to stop spreading their legs like peanut butter or rape is going to keep happening until the cows come home.’”

Angell, along with seven other current and former female UConn students, filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights under Title IX.  Under the protection of Title IX there cannot be gender-based discrimination in any education program receiving federal funding.

The UConn incident is just the latest in a series of sexual misconduct cases involving universities.  Just down the road from UConn, Yale University has been embroiled in its own set of sexual assault and harassment related issues. Continue Reading

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