Monday, February 28, 2005

Van Os for AG

David Van Os announced Saturday at the Progressive Populists caucus that he would run for Attorney General of Texas in 2006, taking on incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.

Fresh off a couple of bruising smackdowns (Van Os was Lt. Col. Bill Burkett's lawyer -- he of CBS National Guard memo fame -- and was defeated by Scott Brister for a place on Texas' Supreme Court just last November) it's nice to see this man get back in the ring again. Some on our side of the aisle are lesser fans of David's than I, but none would -- or should -- quarrel if he's able to pull off the upset.

He's started a blog, A Fighting Democrat, that will keep you posted on his activities.

So an update of announced Democratic candidates for 2006 includes Chris Bell (governor), Barbara Radnofsky (US Senate), Van Os and Richard Morrison (hasn't officially announced but the groundwork is ongoing) taking on Tom DeLay again.

Time to start collecting those nickels and dimes and sending them in the proper (not right) direction...

Update: I should correct myself and say that Chris Bell has only formed an exploratory committee to run for governor and not (yet, if at all) announced his candidacy. And Vince over at Burnt Orange Report has a better wrap-up, including the plans of Ron Kirk, Jim Turner, and others.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Find some kindred spirits near you (or me)

Drinking Liberally meetings in Houston (tomorrow evening), Austin, Denton and 49 other locations across the US.

The Progessive Populist Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party has their annual meeting on Saturday, February 26, in Houston. Ronnie Dugger, founder of the Texas Observer will speak; David Van Os will be feted.

And "The Wall That Heals" will be in Sugar Land* this weekend. It's a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, and includes a traveling museum and information center.

(*Don't worry; we'll take Bug spray.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

What'd I just say?

Ruy Teixeira has more today about finding common ground on the topic of women's reproductive rights. He quotes a Boston Globe editorial:

Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who opposes abortion, has filed the ''Prevention First Act," which would require insurance plans to cover prescription contraceptives, give emergency contraception to rape victims, and fund comprehensive sex education, including discussion of birth control, in public schools.

I'm delighted to see us all moving toward acceptable compromise on this issue.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Getting our activism on

Today Mrs. Diddie and I attended a training for Planned Parenthood's Lobby Day, which is happening Tuesday, March 1st in Austin.

Planned Parenthood of South Texas' location is about five minutes from my house. It is ground zero for the anti-choice faction here in Bushwanaland, and sure enough, the freaks were out in force on a Saturday: shouting their slogans, running into the street at cars, having their children holding up signs, etc.

PP has volunteer escorts; brave men and women who walk the gauntlet alongside those arriving for the clinic's various services. But it is disconcerting to say the least to see in your face --almost -- what has only been previously seen on television. I can't really imagine what a woman with an unintended pregnancy, and one who may be ambivalent about her choice, must feel being faced with a scene like this.

Once we passed through the center's metal detector we were screened again --basically eyeballed and queried as to purpose -- by security (it's just like trying to board a plane, except for the shoes part) and then we gathered in the conference room with fifty or so other volunteer lobbyists for our training.

There are so far 130 people signed up for this effort from Houston; over 700 statewide.

We'll be swarming the Capitol offices in teams of four to twelve -- and more -- on appointments with every single Senator and Representative. The ones brave enough to keep them, anyway. Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, will have forty of her constituents on hand (it's probably going to get crowded in her office, not to mention warm, even though we'll be in and out in ten minutes on every visit).

But this isn't about changing anyone's mind or being confrontational. Rather it's about finding that elusive common ground between progressives and conservatives: how to make end-of-pregnancy options rarer. (Note the reframing; I've just finished George Lakoff's "Don't Think of An Elephant".) The mission of this effort is "prevention first". Specifically:

  • Maintaining current funding levels for family planning in the appropriations bill;
  • Encouraging the state of Texas apply for a Medicaid waiver expanding eligibility for family planning and reproductive health services to 185% of the federal poverty level (which would be an annual income of $34872.50 for a family of four) ;
  • Promote legislation -- as it happens, HB 676 sponsored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson -- that would require emergency conception education and medication in hospital emergency rooms for survivors of sexual assault;
  • And support measures that would require health insurance companies providing prescription drug coverage to include in that benefit all FDA-approved methods of contraception.
(A certain Austin Republican named Jack Stick, formerly a member of the House of Representatives, last session voted for coverage for ED medication -- yes, that would be Viagra and the like -- and against birth control. His constituents recognized the obvious moronic irony and selected new representation.)

I'll be filing a first-hand account of my maiden voyage into Lobbyworld shortly after the cruise.

Blogistan Roundups

Most of you probably already know about The Daou Report, a collection of left, right and center of the blogosphere Pete pulls together (and he's doing so now for Salon). But you'll have to either subscribe (it's certainly worth it; one of the very few sites I personally pay for) or get a day pass by watching a short advertisement.

You can find a free one done by my buddy here in Deep-In-The-Hearta. Bucky Rea, who's got a pretty nifty blog himself, wrangles some of the usual and unusual suspects every Friday at The Blog Box.

Go check them out. I'll be here when you get back.

Friday, February 18, 2005

And I haven't said anything about sports in awhile...

Pitchers and catchers reported this week. The Boys of Late Winter are warming up, just like everything else.

There's a college baseball tournament going on this weekend at Reckling Park, home of the Rice Owls, and it's just a couple of train stops from my house, and my alma mater, Lamar University, is playing in it. See you there (I'll be wearing the cap with the cardinal on it).

It's just about time for March Madness. My brother-in-law is a Dukie, but even if he wasn't, I'd have a hard time rooting for someone else. Though they are not quite as invincible as in years past; witness last night's defeat at the hands of Va. Tech. I think probably Kansas or one of those other Tobacco Road schools -- Ky., N.C., Wake -- stands a pretty good shot.

And the Rockets won eight straight heading into All-Star weekend. They have gelled around T-Mac and Yao by getting true power forward play out of Juwan Howard, gutsy Jason-Kidd-like production from Bobby Sura, and timely bench strength out of David Wesley and Jon Barry and the indomitable Scott Padgett. (I'm going to keep calling him that until he cools off.) Their second-half schedule is going to make or break, though. They may have a great season, or they may not. We'll see.

Oh yeah, something happened regarding the NHL, but I can't remember what...

I'm going to play golf. Later.

The Talibaptists

They're here, they're queer ( in the definition of the word before it was co-opted some decades ago as part of the bigots' agenda ) ... get used to it.

Or not. As you prefer. Of course, if you'd just rather not fight back, then please take a seat in this lovely handbasket.

The Dallas Observer has a piece -- it was forwarded to me by my nearly favorite blogger -- about Richard Ford and Kelly Shackelford, one a lion in winter, the other a Christian Soldier on the rise. These two men have and will continue to affect moderate -- a precarious definition itself, from the liberal view -- Texas GOP politicians in their inimitable way: by playing the "Who is the MORE Religious Conservative?" game. ( Go read the article. )

That made me think of a passage in Lou Dubose and Molly Ivins' Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush where they detail the takeover of the Texas Republican Party in the '90s by the likes of Tom Pauken, Dr. James Leininger and others. Even W. wasn't pure enough for them at that time ( the litmus test for party chairman in 1994 was whether or not you had attended an anti-abortion rally. You haven't? Too bad. ) I found my copy so I'll excerpt the cogent part:

George W. Bush was not Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, but he understands: you got to dance with them what brung you. He has learned to dance with the Christian right. It has been interesting and amusing to watch the process. Interesting because it's sometimes hard to tell who's leading and who's following; amusing because when a scion of Old Yankee money gets together with a televangelist who suffers from too much Elvis, the result is swell entertainment. Dubya's skillful handling of the Christian right -- giving them just enough to keep them in line -- is probably his most impressive political credential. ...

In the end, the Christian right gets more sermons than blood, seat, or policy out of Bush. He talks the talk but rarely walks the walk -- and still gets the support of the Christian right. Among other things, it's very shrewd politics. Although Gary Bauer and Dr. James Dobson have figured out his strategy -- feed the lions just enough to stop them from attacking -- it is, as Sam Smoot says, a dangerous game. These disciplined political Christian soldiers have spent the last ten years taking over the the machinery of the Republican Party, precinct, county, and state. Now they want a ring, not just a promise.

The authors go on to describe how Karl Rove engineered the ascendance of Dim Son without selling out to the Jesusoidz; how John Cornyn came to be our Senator ( and not Pauken -- thank God for small favors ) and a few other kernels of wisdom.

Here's my point:

It will take at least a decade of hard work and long hours, not to mention a shitpot of money and some hurt feelings and bruised egos and maybe even some skinned knuckles in order to beat back these zealots.

And don't forget: their jihad is just. They've got God on their side.

I ask those who intend to stand for office on the progressive side one question, whether you run for precinct captain or Governor:

Are you ready to rumble?

We don't have time for any more John Kerrys -- and by that I mean Democrats, on ballots local and national, who won't fight back ( for whatever reason ). And one more thing: unless you're quite a bit younger than I am, you won't live long enough to see the fruits of your labor. Is the fight still in you?

Let's get going, then. We've got a country to take back.

P.S. There's a Houston Democratic Underground Meetup, above ground, tomorrow afternoon. Click on the link in my header. Warning: we're probably weirder in person.

Met some more cool kidz last night

at the weekly "Drinking Liberally" get-together. Among the most cool were a lawyer with a nifty blog, an actress with an Office Space credit as well as a national commercial (we don't hate Mondays either, K) and ... Travis? I cannot remember what you told me your deal was. Tell me again?

And hopefully we can get the Kink worked out (more on that later, dear reader) ...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

This Jeff Gannon thing

really has me laughing uncontrollably.

So many have written so much that I'll just refer you to them for any part of this story you are not familiar with:

AMERICAblog was all-Gannon-all-the-time for a few days last week; scroll down for the juicy stuff. John also gave Aaron Brown an earful on CNN Newsnight. Atrios this morning rips Howard Kurtz (WaPo media bloviator) for his most recent hypocrisy. But the best comes from a snark-only thread at Daily Kos, whose diarists essentially broke this story (appearing as a correction):

For the Record: The journalistic alma mater of 'Jeff Gannon', where Mr. Gannon studied journalism in an intensive two-day, all-meals-included course costing a full fifty dollars, is in fact known as the Leadership Institute Broadcast Journalism School and not, as I had previously referred to it, the Morton C. Blackwell Institute of Media Whorticulture.

Which brings to mind the immortal words of Dorothy Parker:

"You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her (let's make that 'him' as well) think."

Update: I should have mentioned that Salon's Eric Boehlert -- who was also on Newsnight with AMERICAblog's John A. -- has a great synopsis, and that Crooks and Liars has a video of the CNN interview, the transcript of which I linked above.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Having java in South America this p.m.

Well, sort of. In that "in your mind" kinda way.

Me and the cool kids from Houston Metrobloggers (clink at the top...there. Right there. See it?) are doing the Meetup thing at Brasil this afternoon.

Hope I'm not the oldest one in the room...

Update: if the c.k. were there, they were hiding from me.

My Valentine of 18 years was kind enough to walk around to the other rooms and patio inquiring (you know how we men are about asking for directions) and a tableful of young men said, "sure that's us" but her BS detector red-lined. So, H-Town bloggers, if that really was you, no offense...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ha. Ha. *click* *BLAM*

From this week's Idiot files:

Hi-jinks were the order of the day at a recent Bush event in Fargo, ND, when Karl Rove grabbed the microphone of CNN's John King and proceeded to do a little "reporting" of his own. "The president is making an incredible presentation to the audience here in Fargo, North Dakota," said Rove. "The crowd has received an overwhelming - his reform message of Social Security. The crowd broke into a strong applause when the president attacked the mainstream media..." King interrupted, "It's not bad. I'd keep your day job, but that's not bad." Not bad? How dare you, Mr. King! "I'd say more than not bad," gushed Judy Woodruff, back in the studio. "I think we're ready to hire Karl Rove right now. We'll start - we'll make the phone call right after the show." You know, I don't know what's worse... the idea that Karl Rove's spin is so similar to CNN's regular reporting that Judy Woodruff can't tell the difference, or Woodruff assuming CNN can employ someone they already work for.

I'm so appalled at broadcast news any more that I barely watch it.

My first corporate career was in the newspaper business. Ten years ago, I subscribed to the daily paper, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and a dozen others periodicals on an occasional basis.

Today? Nothing.

I had access to a dozen more dead-tree versions of dailies around the country, as well as the WSJ and the Nation's McPaper. I also subcsribed to Editor&Publisher, the bible of the industry, and wondered why the denizens of the onion-topped towers I occasionally bumped into took so lightly the things I read in its pages that alarmed the hell out of me.

Well, they're still there, raising their ad rates 6% every year and cutting their editorial staff a couple of people, managing their publications at a 20 or 30% profit margin and meeting once a year at a resort location to congratulate themselves on what a fine job they are doing.

I moved on. Of my own volition.

I get my news online these days. And I don't give up my personal information to invasive-registration sites. I have my browser shields up so high and so thick that there are blank spaces with "AD" in them all over the page. Little bubble noises go off frequently, signifying another pop-up window has been blocked.

This blogging thing is just more evidence that the old media is just about over. And the sooner we all help them figure it out, the better we all will be.

Can we now begin the healing?

Or least get back to the usual meaningless and tired partisan rancor our Lege is renowned for?

Harvey Kronberg says it's over (or is that Vo-ver?) for Talmadge Heflin:

Acting as a Special Master in the HD19 election challenge, State Rep. Will Hartnett's report to be issued this morning will conclude that Hubert Vo won his election by at least sixteen votes. Any remaining disputed votes are insufficient to overturn the election.

In a statement this morning, Vo said,"I appreciate the careful and thorough job my colleague Mr. Hartnett has done under intense pressure and in difficult circumstances. He refused to be distracted by sidebar issues and kept his focus on making sure the will of the voters is upheld.

"I am confident that my colleagues on the special committee and in the full House will live up to the standard Mr. Hartnett has set in honoring both the spirit and the essence of our democratic process."

Thank you, Representative Hartnett, and please stay off of small airplanes for awhile...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I shouldn't have let this get by

As heard on Air America last week:

"Today is Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address.

"An ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of low intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Last of the Vaqueros

When I was kid, I was a Cowboys fan. Those were the days of Roger Staubach and Bob Lilly and Drew Pearson, whom we'd impersonate at halftime when we went outside to re-enact our version of that Sunday's blowout of some hapless opponent. As I grew older, I drifted away from the 'Pokes as a favorite, mostly because I tend to root for the underdog in nearly all things.

So the Cowboys of Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin weren't so popular with me. Oh, I rooted for them, but as with most dynasties I wasn't rabid about it.

With much respect I note the retirement today of Emmitt Smith, and in this article I am reminded why I admired him, much more so than his teammates named above:

But despite his impressive statistics, he won just two major awards in 15 seasons -- NFL MVP in 1993 and the Super Bowl MVP that same season, when he rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys' 30-13 win over Buffalo in Atlanta.

He won those despite missing the first two games of that season in a contract dispute with Jones. Smith finished that regular season with perhaps his greatest game, an overtime win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.

The Cowboys and Giants were both 11-4. The winner got the NFC East title, home-field advantage in the playoffs and a first-round bye. The loser got a wild-card game the following week.

Smith separated his shoulder in the third quarter but returned to the game, which went into overtime tied at 13. He carried the ball on nine of the Cowboys' 11 plays in the extra period at one point raising his aching shoulder to stiff-arm Lawrence Taylor on his final run, which set up Eddie Murray's game-winning field goal.

He finished with 229 total yards and a touchdown on 32 carries and 10 receptions, the heaviest workload in team history, then spent the night in a hospital.

Had the Cowboys lost that game, Smith probably wouldn't have been able to play the following week in a wild-card game. That would have made the road much more difficult in what turned out to be the Cowboys' second of three Super Bowl victories in four seasons.

Few men set a better example on the field or off as the kind of player anyone, friend or foe, could admire. If Emmitt Smith's post-NFL career is as successful as his playing days, then he should go into the Human Being Hall of Fame as well.

Sy is getting to be such a downer

Seymour Hersh tells us just how bad it's going to get:

For me, it's just another story, but out of this comes a core of -- you know, we all deal in “macro” in Washington. On the macro, we're hopeless. We're nowhere. The press is nowhere. The congress is nowhere. The military is nowhere. Every four-star General I know is saying, “Who is going to tell them we have no clothes?” Nobody is going to do it. Everybody is afraid to tell Rumsfeld anything. That's just the way it is. It's a system built on fear. It's not lack of integrity, it's more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It's a system that's completely been taken over -- by cultists. Anyway, what's going to happen, I think, as the casualties mount and these stories get around, and the mothers see the cost and the fathers see the cost, as the kids come home. And the wounded ones come back, and there's wards that you will never hear about. That's wards -- you know about the terrible catastrophic injuries, but you don't know about the vegetables. There's ward after ward of vegetables because the brain injuries are so enormous. As you maybe read last week, there was a new study in one of the medical journals that the number of survivors are greater with catastrophic injuries because of their better medical treatment and the better armor they have. So you get more extreme injuries to extremities. We're going to learn more and I think you're going to see, it's going to -- it's -- I'm trying to be optimistic. We're going to see a bottom swelling from inside the ranks. You're beginning to see it. What happened with the soldiers asking those questions, you may see more of that. I'm not suggesting we're going to have mutinies, but I'm going to suggest you're going to see more dissatisfaction being expressed. Maybe that will do it. Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But he could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous. We’re going to have some very bad months ahead.

I need a drink. (Tonight is the weekly "Drinking Liberally" meeting -- click on the icon at the top. You're invited.)

*shakes head*

The NYT used the word 'bold' in their online headline this morning describing Bush's agenda, as revealed in last night's SOTU.

I'm so tired of that.

This guy wouldn't know bold if it kicked him in the balls.