Early voting begins today. Here’s everything you need to know


It’s here!

Early voting begins today — Tuesday, Feb. 16 — and runs through Friday, Feb. 26. Election Day is March 1.

It is a presidential election year, and once again, Texas voters have a chance to make a difference in the presidential election. But you have to get out and vote for another reason: there are a whole lot of other races on the ballot, including contested primaries for an open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, Congress, the state Supreme Court, the Texas Legislature and more.

Here’s my quick guide to help you through the process:

Are unsure who is on the ballot? Do you even know what a primary election is?

Fear not. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Texas Education Fund is able to answer those questions. Learn all about voting in Texas here.

Okay! You got that? Now check out their 2016 primary election voters guide, which is available in both English and Spanish.

I trust the League and respect its process. Why? Because the League reaches out to all candidates running for a state level office requesting they respond to questions that include basic background information and important issues in the state. Those answers are compiled in the candidates’ own words in the voters guide.

Candidates who responded after the print deadline are not in the print or website version, but are available at VOTE411.

2) Now you know who to vote for. Here’s what you need to vote, per the Texas Secretary of State’s VoteTexas.gov, a clearinghouse of information on voting”

Texas voters are required to present one of seven types of photo identification to be eligible to vote.

The seven forms of identification permitted are:

  • Texas driver license—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas personal identification card—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas concealed handgun license—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. passport book or card—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Military identification with photo—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization with photo
  • Election Identification Certificate (E.I.C.)

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, if you do not have one of the first six forms of identification only then may you apply for the E.I.C. at no charge. (Getting to a D.P.S. location and standing in line is a whole different story, however.)

Learn more about the getting an E.I.C. here.

During the early voting period, you may vote at any designated voting site in your county. On Election Day, March 1, you must vote at your precinct’s designated voting site.

Need more information?

Collin County 1-800-687-8546 co.collin.tx.us/elections

Dallas County 214-819-6300 dallascountyvotes.org

Denton County 940-349-3200 votedenton.com

Tarrant County 817-831-8683 tarrantcounty.com/eVote

—  James Russell

Even Ted Cruz’s daughter doesn’t like him …..

This video of Ted Cruz and his daughter, who is 7 years old, was taken recently after a political rally in Iowa. I don’t blame the kid!

—  Tammye Nash

Step right up!

GOP presidential race NOT the greatest show on earth, but certainly has its share of clowns

Haberman-Hardy-I have held my tongue regarding the current slate of Republicans running for their party’s presidential nomination.

I have held my tongue as I watched more than a dozen “candidates” jockey for position, each trying to move further right than the next. I have held my tongue as the press has breathlessly reported on the latest insane rant by what passes as politicians in the GOP.

I have held my tongue because as everyone knows my hand would burn should I ever press the Republican button on a voting machine.

But sometimes, the crazy just overwhelms me and I have to speak. So here goes.

More than a year ago, most folks with any political savvy anticipated the candidacy of the next in line in the Bush dynasty, Jeb (Jeb!), to run for president. He was carefully groomed, like his brothers George W. and Neil. George was maneuvered into a governorship in order to hone his political skills and prepare him for the White House. His brother Neil seemed to be on the same track until his political train was derailed by the whole Silverado Savings and Loan debacle.

Enter Jeb (Jeb!).

His time as governor of Florida made him an ideal choice for a GOP presidential candidate. The buzz in political circles was that Jeb (Jeb!) was the candidate to beat, and everything looked like pretty smooth sailing — until the Republican boat ran aground on the Tea Party reef.

The frustrations expressed by most Tea Party folks stem from a feeling that they have lost control of the country. The phrase “Take back our nation” is a common one among the Oolong crowd, but it really is thinly veiled code for “There is a black man in the White House.”

Add to this wage stagnation and economic woes — brought on by the previous GOP regime, but not really felt until the first Obama term — and you have a powerful force.

These are irate folks who believe that the Republicans, who pretty much caused their problems, must be the ones to fix things. I blame Fox News and the right wing talk radio machine for most of that.

Meanwhile, riding on the crest of the Tea kettle boil-over comes Ted Cruz and an assortment of people who all are saying the same things. The drone of their rhetoric pretty much drowned out Jeb (Jeb!) and left him looking uncharismatic, which frankly, he is.

Enter The Donald. Mr Trump, whose ego is only exceeded by his crass demeanor, broke through the clutter of GOP wannabes and the gullible public took notice. After all, compared to Jeb (Jeb!), Trump looks appealing — or at least different.

That difference is why he has topped the polls. When asked, a lot of Republican voters say, “He speaks his mind,” and “He is not intimidated by political correctness.”

They are correct, But those attributes do not a president make.

Trump is a bull in the GOP china shop, and his reckless bluster has stolen the spotlight from all other GOP candidates — except for one, Ben Carson.

Dr. Carson seems positively a statesman compared to Trump, and even though his soft-spoken performance is riddled with misinformation and downright idiocy, he looks safer than Trump.

The rest of the gang, with the possible exception of Mario Rubio, are cut from the same cloth, and it’s a polka dot pattern suitable for the circus.

So what does this mean for LGBTQ people?

Well, all of the GOP candidates are far from on the right side of our issues, and only the most deluded in the Cabin think the party will “come around” any time soon. The Republican Party is conservative, and that means resistant to change.

LGBTQ rights would be change, so don’t count on hearing any candidate lay out a plan for full equality for us.

Trump, for all his bellicosity, is probably the most benign for us. But that still comes with statements like, regarding same-sex marriage, he “just doesn’t feel good about it.” Yet he has said there should be “no discrimination against gays.”

Make of that what you will.

The ultimate battle for the GOP nomination has yet to play out, and I feel sure there will be more “entertaining” debates in the near future. My biggest problem is with the American people who have actually been hoodwinked into believing that there is anyone in the crowd of GOP hopefuls that is presidential material.

We are a country that has decided to eschew intellectualism in favor of spectacle. I feel sure P.T. Barnum is chuckling in his grave, knowing that an entire generation of fools may decide the fate of our country.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

—  Tammye Nash

More on the Congress critters who voted against MLK Day

Vice President Dick Cheney

Former Vice President and MLK Day supporter Dick Cheney

A friend had a bone to pick with me at breakfast this morning.

He thought yesterday’s blog post — about the six sitting members of Congress, all Republicans, who voted against a holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. — was unfair.

“I went through the story you posted,” he said, chiding me for only mentioning 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s vote. “Your buddy Dick Cheney voted for it!”

In my defense, I shot back, I only blogged specifically about the six remaining “nay” votes.

But he’s right. I’m a journalist. I hate everybody equally should be fair. A lot of sitting members of Congress voted for it. Many of whom are Republicans. Many Democrats voted against it as well. They all joined notorious homophobe and racist Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, by voting “nay.”

A number of the bipartisan “yea” votes even pursued the presidency. Vice President and prospective 2016 presidential nominee Joe Biden of Delaware voted for it. Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican who ran for president against Bill Clinton in 1996, did too.

Numerous House members who have since matriculated to the Senate also voted to create the holiday. Among them were Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-California and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. Speaking of Kansas Republicans, former Sen. Bob Dole voted “yea” too, joining fellow GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Democrats representatives who voted “nay” included the memorable Doug Applegate of Ohio and Dan Daniel of Virginia. Applegate somehow still got a post office named for him in the thriving metropolis of Steubenville. In the Senate four Democrats, including both of Nebraska’s senators, James Exon and Ed Zorinsky, voted against it.

So in the tradition of being a fair, here’s a gentle reminder: Each vote defines your legacy, and unfortunately that racist legacy looms over both parties.

—  James Russell

Video: Politics makes strange fellow-bedding bedfellows

Elected Republicans still vote against us in blocks.

GOProud loudly called for Michael Steele’s resignation.

Both Andrew Breitbart and Chris Barron have compared the “gay left™” to the Taliban and/or Al Quaeda.

Yet gay/GOP unity rules the day. Or at least ruled the night at CPAC’s “Big Party”:

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was among the notable attendees at Thursday night’s Andrew Breitbart-hosted GOProud “Big Party.” (That, despite the fact that GOProud had called for Steele’s resignation multiple times.)

The (Attendees’) Talk of the Party: Breitbart and Steele [Metro Weekly]

Good As You

—  David Taffet

Video: Brock, Socarides, Matthews talk the politics of basic decency

Visit msnbc.com for
breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Good As You

—  admin

David Pakman of Midweek Politics interviews AFA’s deranged homo-hater Bryan Fischer

Friend of the Blend and Midweek Politics ace interviewer David Pakman has a can’t-miss interview with homo-hater Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association —  and you won’t believe that garbage is spewing out of Fischer’s mouth. OK, you can probably imagine some of the filth, but look at the choice quotes below the videos.

Bryan Fischer, American Family Association Director of Issues Analysis and the Host of “Focal Point” on AFR Talk joins David Pakman to discuss ex-gays, quitting homosexuality, risks of gay sex, supporting gay porn stars, being on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s anti-gay hate group list, and much more.

Fischer: “The Southern Poverty Law Center belongs on its own list [of hate groups]…for peddling falsehoods about homosexuality”

“We’re the ones telling the truth about the link between homosexuality and pedophilia.”

“Active participation in the homosexual lifestyle will deprive a male of anywhere between 8 and 20 years of his life expectancy”

“There is ‘no such thing as a monogamous homosexual relationship'”

But wait, there’s more…

Fischer: “The rectal wall is one cell thick”

“We need to take our cue from gay porn actors”

“Those homosexual activists that are so intent on normalizing homosexual behavior…they must be harboring some deep seated longing to be straight”

“…homosexual activists must be latently heterosexual”

“When the American people have been able to go to the polls and vote on the definition of marriage, we are 31 and 0”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

The Practice of Plutonium Politics

If there's anyone here left wondering how politics gets more and more and more toxic, Minnesota has given us the latest example

Minnesota's campaign finance regulators ruled Friday that two conservative groups that raised money to thwart Mark Dayton's bid for governor failed to properly register with the state as political funds.

But the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board declined to fine the groups, saying it found no “intentional plan or strategy” to avoid disclosure of donors.

The ruling stems from a complaint this fall filed by watchdog group Common Cause Minnesota. It said money for TV ads critical of Gov.-elect Mark Dayton had been illegally funneled from the Republican Governors Association [RGA] through a “shell corporation,” Minnesota Future LLC, to avoid disclosing the source of donations.

“The board is sending a message to special interest groups that no one will hold them accountable for violating campaign disclosure laws,” said Common Cause Minnesota Executive Director Mike Dean, who was disappointed the groups weren't fined.

Yes, ultimately Democrat Mark Dayton won.

And, yes, there are differences in the law between murder, attempted murder and negligent homicide.  However, all are crimes.  No one gets executed for a negligent homicide conviction – even in Texas (much less Minnesota) – but there is jail time (or, at the very least, probation and the stain of a criminal conviction.)

At the other end of the spectrum…

If I know that no cop will ever issue me a speeding ticket – and that if one does, any judge who hears the case will never allow me to actually be fined – I'm not really going to give a damn about how far the needle on my speedometer drifts past 70 when I'm out on I-80.

No one is suggesting that those behind these conservative groups be executed or locked up for life – and some may not even want them locked up at all – for violating the rules in question, but who will ever make any effort to abide by any campaign rules if they know that they'll never pay any price?

And what sort of price actually matters if the illegal campaign practices have their desired effect?  In 2002, mealy-mouthed 2012 presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty got caught, was found to have violated the rules and was actually fined.  But, eight years later he's an outgoing two-term governor and a mealy-mouthed 2012 presidential aspirant who has been legitimized in the latter role by the corporate media.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty has now accepted full responsibility for campaign practices that a state review board found illegal. The decision could represent a substantial setback for Pawlenty, who also announced he would temporarily suspend television ads while his campaign assesses its options. But Pawlenty vows he'll vigorously press the campaign until the end.

Just one day after the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled against the Pawlenty campaign and the state Republican Party, Pawlenty gathered supporters around him to accept the board's decision.

The board ruled that an estimated 0,000 in television ads produced by the party were incorrectly identified as the sort of soft-money independent expenditures that are subject to limited regulation. The board's order requires Pawlenty to count the ads as direct contributions, a decision that will eat deeply into the campaign's .2 million spending limit.

Pawlenty, who's run his campaign around the catch-words of accountability and trust, says accepting the board's ruling demonstrates those principles.


Admitting that what he did disqualified him from the race would have demonstrated those principles.  The ads had run when they did – bells that could not be un-rung.

And now…

He's one of the darlings of the Plutonium Politics set.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Gay Politics: Election Results 2010

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

‘Pro-family’ politics: Black-robed judges = bad; armed black-robed preachers = yes!

Jim-GarlowMore from anti-LGBT equality pastor Jim Garlow:

Garlow recalls how pastors before the Revolutionary War led people to godliness. “…When these pastors would complete their sermons, they would take off their black robes — they preached in vestments at those times — … [and] underneath that would be the attire of military,” he shares. “They would pick up a musket and [ask]: ‘Who’s going to go fight with me?’

“And so the revolutionary armies during that time came from pastors leading the churches. It’s known as the Blacked-Robed Regiment.”

That same kind of leadership, says the California pastor, is needed today. “And we need a black-robed regiment today,” he urges. “We need pastors who are willing to stand up. And we need persons who are in the pews to stand up with them — a black-robed regiment of laypersons — who’s going to take [a like stand]. We’re going to have to spiritually see our nation change.”

Pastor: Christians need to make a difference on Nov. 2 [ONN]

You say you want a revolution? Well, you know: We all want to change the world.

But when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out?

Good As You

—  admin