Sunday, July 31, 2005
Blogging live from Kaveh Kanes in downtown H-Town, where brunch and free Wi-Fi are being served. A semi-full report later, but I'll put it over here.
Update: Discussion and comments from nine candidates and seven bloggers is here.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
42 people have clicked on the links furnished by Greg (who hatched the idea) and participating Texas bloggers and have contributed almost $1,200, with an average donation of $28.45 . Richard Morrison fired up his listserv and collected a fourth of that total.
That's as of this morning.
An absolutely amazing example of the power of the netroots. Let's take it all the way to the finish line next Tuesday.
Friday, July 29, 2005
When they can beat Pedro Martinez on the strength of the mighty bats of Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett, then I think the Astros might have sump'm goin' on.
20-6 in the month of July (and three of those L's came at the hands of the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals fresh off the All-Star break).
Saturday night we'll go club-leveling to see Andy Pettitte square off against Tom Glavine. One of my guests is a big Mets fan. She has reminded me twice since I acquired tickets to this game about 1986.
I might not even boo Beltran too badly if the score is not close in the late innings.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Paul Hackett is a Democrat, Marine, and Iraq War veteran running for Ohio's 2nd congressional district seat (vacated by newly appointed trade representative Rob Portman, who helped DeLay and Cheney twist enough arms to put CAFTA over the top last night), against Republican Jean Schmidt in next Tuesday's special election.
Hackett thinks Bush is a chickenhawk.
Schmidt has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, Bush is making recorded phone calls into the district on her behalf, she is flying on private jets to DC to raise more money, and all of the rest of the typical full-court press is being applied by the GOP to hold on to a district that has gone at least 70% Republican for the last twenty years (28% for the Democrats in 2004).
Why? Because despite all that, polls show Hackett within the margin of error.
Oh yeah, the Republicans are also attempting to Swift-Boat him.
Join me, and these other Texas bloggers, one of whom has appointed Hackett an Honorary Texan, by doing what you can to support his candidacy in these few days before the special election next week.
David Van Os, a former general counsel of the Texas AFL-CIO, is the Democratic candidate for Texas Attorney General. He received the President’s Citation for Achievement in Civil Rights from the NAACP in 1990, and he went to Florida in 2000 to assist the Democratic Party in that state's infamous vote recount efforts. In private practice as a labor law attorney since 1984, Van Os also advised retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, he of the CBS-Dan Rather/Dubya-TANG memo fame, during that affair.
This past week, Van Os named prominent civil rights activist Rev. Peter Johnson his campaign manager and traveled to Cass County, Texas, where a hearing was held by the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference regarding the circumstances of the assault of Billy Ray Johnson, a mildly retarded African-American man who was beaten badly by four white men and left for dead atop a fire ant mound. The FBI and local law enforcement officials investigated the case and came to the conclusion that what happened to Johnson was a crime based on his mental incapacity, not his race; thus no state or federal hate crimes or civil rights charges were lodged. The men charged and tried -- one of whom was working as a guard for the Cass county jail at the time -- received deferred adjudication, probation, and brief jail sentences of 30 to 60 days. (Two other recent deaths of African-Americans, one from hanging and one from a rifle blast, were ruled suicides by local authorities under suspicious circumstances. Chillingly, empty nooses have been found hanging from tree branches in apparent warnings. These reports have enjoyed a low profile in local media; it took a story in the Chicago Tribune to elevate the Johnson case to semi-public attention.)
In 1998 Van Os ran for the Texas Supreme Court against then-Justice (now incumbent Attorney General) Greg Abbott and was defeated. In 2004 he ran again for the Texas Supreme Court against now-chief justice Scott Brister and lost 58% to 41% (Bush defeated John Kerry in Texas by a count of 60-38).
In short, Van Os knows first-hand about David vs. Goliath matchups. He has won a few battles and lost a few, but he has always fought on the side of the little guy against the big-moneyed corporate and special interests, the ones who currently hold the Texas Supreme Court and the Legislature in a hammerlock. He is a progressive populist in the grand tradition of Texas liberals like Ralph Yarbrough and Oscar Mauzy. Here's a sample from one of his recent speeches:
It is time to discard the "avoid polarization at all costs" strategy, the "take no risks" strategy, the "appeal to everybody" strategy, and the "chase the middle" strategy. It is time to remember what Jim Hightower told us 20 years ago: "there's nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." It is time to cease the followership strategies of scripting campaigns on the basis of what pollsters say people thought yesterday, and assert the leadership strategies of campaigning for what we know to be right based on our deepest convictions of what we want for tomorrow. It is time to stop worrying about whom we might offend if we speak truth to power, and start worrying about what value are our lives if we don't speak truth to power. It is time to cherish partisan Democrats and reject nonpartisan Nothingcrats. It is time to forget "right-left" analysis and install "right-wrong" analysis. It is time to replace the "liberal-conservative" spectrum with the "liberty-tyranny" spectrum. It is time to stop worrying about how to get money from big donors and start worrying about how to get more money into working people's paychecks. It is time to fight for better lives for voters instead of peddling promises to voters. It is time to treat public office as a duty, not a promotion. We must fight for the people, not in order to win their votes, but in order to win them justice.
Van Os considers it a successful fundraiser when a group of forty club Democrats in Houston pass the hat and get enough to pay his traveling expenses from San Antonio.
Do what you can for him.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I will be serving on the steering committee of Van Os' campaign.)
In an e-mail delivered just now to my inbox (emphasis mine):
Over the past half year, I have traveled all over Texas, literally exploring the race for governor. You have indulged me in this process as I sought the answers to some important questions, some personal (and Alison's doing better every day, thanks) and some of them public: Can a Texas Democrat win? Are Texas Democrats ready to try something different? Do people see what is happening in Texas the same way that I do?
Well, I have my answers, and today I am proud to share the news that I've decided to run for governor.
If you ever want people to question your sanity, explore running for statewide office as a Democrat in Texas. When this started, I had no clue as to how people might respond. I have not been that nervous about getting on the phone since running for Houston City Council the first time. Everyone agreed that it would be a tough road for any Democrat but, interestingly, the overwhelming majority of people with whom I spoke could also see that Rick Perry is creating a huge opportunity for a Democrat. They also agreed it wasn't enough for me to be right about Rick Perry being wrong; it would take a positive message that could unite all Texans.
As I've traveled the state, I've been talking about the "New Mainstream," the disaffected majority of Texans who know that Rick Perry couldn't lead a silent prayer. I've been talking about how budgets are moral documents that have both a fiscal impact as well as a human cost. And, as a public school parent, I've learned that parents and teachers across Texas share my frustrations with Enron-style accountability that encourages dropouts and systematic fraud by teaching our kids nothing as much as how to take yet another standardized test.
The best part of the exploration phase has been watching as people came out of their seats to cheer. Some memories have really stuck with me: the young college student who approached me in Brazos County, with tears in her eyes, telling me how inspired she was by what I had said; the pastor in Mount Pleasant who told me he would be with me all the way; the County Chair in Lubbock starting the chant, "Run Chris, run!" I won't pretend that people were responding to me so much as to hearing someone talk about the world the way it is, and not just the way it polls.
The one remaining question was whether my wife, Alison, would be up for the fight. I am happy to tell you that the prognosis after chemotherapy is as good as it can get. Ali has been my rock ever since we've been together, and there's no way I would embark on something as challenging as a race for governor without her feeling up to it. As everyone knows, she's every bit the fighter I am, and she feels strong enough to join me in this battle.
We're launching our campaign for governor on Sunday afternoon, August 14th, at 2PM in Austin, and Alison and I want you to join us there. If you would like to help organize participants from your city, please let us know. For more
information about the launch rally, visit our website:
We are going in with eyes wide open, aware not only of the odds but also of the possibilities to achieve great things for Texas. I look forward to seeing you in Austin and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and support.
Sincerely, Chris Bell
P.S. Ironically, as I was writing this letter, I received a "thought for today" e-mail from a friend. It was a quote from Anatole France that says, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." I couldn't have said it better myself. I dream of a better state and believe we can build it together.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The GOP majority in the Texas House of Representatives today fell apart, its party discipline destroyed by the stink of corruption that permeates the Bush era in Texas and across the country.
If Texas had icebergs, this would be the tip of one. I'm not talking about Karl Rove's adulterous behavior.
I'm talking about the stinging defeat suffered by the Texas GOP on the floor of the state House today. GOP leadership, helped to election by illegal corporate contributions, watched helplessly as the Democratic minority and a few frightened Republicans voted down bills that 1) raised taxes on the middle class; 2) Cut taxes for Big Insurance and other special interests involved in the scandal; 3) Stiffed school children and teachers under the guise of education reform.
This is no small matter. It should be pointed out that in the early 1970s, a political scandal called Sharpstown surfaced just ahead of a national political scandal called Watergate. By 1976, Jimmy Carter could carry Texas.
The talking points are simple: Texas Republicans are trying to raise taxes on middle class Texans and devastate public education so they can do what they were ordered to do when they accepted the illegal bribes: cut taxes for the people who paid the bribes.
Several corporations have been indicted. So have some staffers who were allegedly involved in the scheme. Tom DeLay, who lives off his aura of power, says he was powerless over a scheme that invoved his committee and its money and its contributers and that advanced his Congressional redistricting scheme. A grand jury, holding all the cards, is still meeting.
Corruption is bad enough. But when corruption is tied to taxes, education and other close-to-home issues, there's going to be trouble.
That's why some Republicans are rebelling. That's why Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, always in over his head with this job, might be losing his head and his job. He's asked his Republican members to cast dozens of career-threatening votes just so he can tell his Bosses at Big Insurance that he was a good little boy who did what he was told.
All of the MSM -- the Texas newspapers and broadcast affiliates -- are far less revealing about this collapse of leadership, and what it means for Texas children.
I wouldn't expect them to catch up to the story, either.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Via Daily Kos, from Radar Online:
For years, political insiders in the Lone Star State have whispered about Rove’s close friendship with lobbyist Karen Johnson, a never-married, forty-something GOP loyalist from Austin, Texas. The two first became close when Johnson sat on the board of then-Governor George W. Bush’s Business Council over a decade ago. Their friendship reportedly deepened after Bush appointed Johnson—a little-known spokesperson for the Texas Good Roads Association—to a seat on his Transportation Department transition team in 2000. The plum appointment enabled Johnson’s lobbying firm, Infrastructure Solutions, to snare such high-paying clients as Aetna and the City of Laredo. Sources say Johnson now frequently travels between Washington D.C. and Austin, where she frequently appears at Rove’s side at parties and unofficial functions.
Although there is no evidence that their relationship is anything but professional, the close association between the married White House aide and the comely lobbyist has long raised eyebrows in conservative Texas circles. Asked about the pair, a prominent political journalist who has written extensively about Rove says, “I’ve heard the stories, but I would never write about Karl and Karen. If you want to keep your job as a reporter in Texas, you make believe you don’t see them together.”
In the post-Lewinsky era, Washington’s press corps has mostly avoided reporting on the private lives of public officials. But as the political climate in the capitol grows more poisonous, Rove’s close friendship with the lobbyist has attracted increased scrutiny from opponents eager to prove that Bush’s dirty trickster is sitting on some dirty laundry of his own.
And kos adds:
In a fortuitious coincidence, Jerome and I have just finished interviewing a long-time Texas political writer here in Austin who says that Rove is absolutely having an affair with Karen. Rove is married and has a teenaged son. According to this writer, Rove's wife is a hardcore liberal. "I don't know how he and his wife get along," he said.
Well, quite obviously, they do not.
In a more discreet political era -- say, just a few short years ago -- I might have said that a politician's personal private life is none of our business.
But, as we are constantly reminded, 9/11 changed everything.
Monday, July 25, 2005
In order to maintain a tiny shred of anonymity, I won't identify it by number, but if you've been reading here and elsewhere I post for any length of time you can figure out a lot; I will tell you that my precinct flips conventional wisdom about the city I call home on its head. In fact it is even more liberal than I suspected -- in 2004 it went more than 60% for John Kerry.
And there's plenty of room to improve upon those numbers.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Bloomberg is reporting that Rove and Libby both gave testimony to the grand jury that flatly conflicts with the testimony given by those they said they talked to.
We now know that the Top Secret memo most consistent with the talking points that Rove and Libby told reporters was seen in the hands of Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in the days before the leak occurred. And that he told the grand jury he never saw it.
And Steve Clemons has verified that John Bolton was one of Judith Miller's regular sources on WMD issues, and that MSNBC stands by its story that Bolton gave testimony to the grand jury about the State Department memo in question. Bolton, you may recall, has previously been identified to have been involved in the Niger uranium claims that Wilson's trip helped disprove ...
... the Bushies are in over the latest Abu Ghraib torture photos they're refusing to release:
... and ...
On July 22, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) denounced the latest efforts of the Bush Administration to block the release of the Darby photos and videos depicting torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison facility. On June 2, 2004, CCR, along with the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace filed papers with the U.S. District Court, charging the Dept. of Defense and other government agencies with illegally withholding records concerning the abuse of detainees in American military custody. Since then, the organizations have been repeatedly rebuffed in their efforts to investigate what happened at the prison.
In June, the government requested and received an extension from the judge stating that they needed time in order to redact the faces of the men, women and children believed to be shown in the photographs and videos. They were given until today to
produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they are now requesting a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. Today’s move is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to keep the images from being made public and to cover up the torture of detainees in U.S. custody around the world.
The images, according to those lawmakers who have seen them, paint a picture of torture at Abu Ghraib far, far worse than most Americans have yet been willing to admit. Via the Boston Herald, May 8th, 2004:
Signaling the worst revelations are yet to come, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the additional photos show "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman." ...
The unreleased images show American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys, according to NBC News.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the scandal is "going to get worse" and warned that the most "disturbing" revelations haven't yet been made public. "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here," he said. "We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience; we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."
And from Seymour Hersh:
The women were passing messages saying "Please come and kill me, because of what's happened". Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking.
Note these links are from 2004. The administration, and several members of Congress, have known about these additional abuse cases, including photos and video not released to the public, for over a year. And yes, the rest of the world already knows.
So we've been sodomizing children. In the name of freedom.
Can you stand some more?
The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a massive Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it moves to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.
The Bush administration, under fire for the indefinite detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and questions over whether its policies led to horrendous abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, put lawmakers on notice it did not want them legislating on the matter.
"If legislation is presented that would restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice," the bill could be vetoed, the statement said.
So on the one hand, the Bush administration is blocking the release of the photographic proof of the most horrific war crimes committed in U.S. military-run prisons. And on the other hand, they are threatening to veto any attempts by Congress to establish laws banning such torture -- or even to investigate the torture already documented.
Had enough? Apparently, some have:
A rapid series of car bombs and another blast ripped through a luxury hotel and a coffeeshop in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik early Saturday, killing at least 83, a hospital official said. Terrified European and Arab tourists fled into the night, and rescue workers said the death toll could still rise.
It was another day of high tension, disruption and fear on the London Underground. The union for subway and bus drivers said workers would be justified in staying away from work if the government fails to take more precautions to make the operators safe. "I think they're going to strike again," commuter Warren West, 27, said of the bombers. "I think they're doing to London what's happening in Iraq."
Is George Bush still making everyone feel safe?
Friday, July 22, 2005
On a relevant tangent, it appears that special prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald is focusing on crimes that can be easily proven, namely perjury and obstruction of justice, against two of the highest White House officials, presidential advisor Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Now the questions become familiar, echoing back from history: what did the Vice President know, and when did he know it? And the President?
I was fourteen years old during the summer of Watergate and the last time a Republican administration collapsed under the creaking weight of its own corruption. The similarities between that scandal and this one -- sordid political dirty tricks taken to a criminal extreme for the sole apparent purpose of blackmailing a political opponent -- seem today to pale in comparison to 1770 dead American soldiers, thousands of innocent Iraqis killed as collateral damage, billions of dollars wasted in every direction and even misplaced, and the reputation and goodwill of the United States of America ruined.
And as of this post, not a single elected Republican official has yet broken ranks with this White House over this scandal, these lies, these crimes.
That's another difference between Watergate and Leakgate.
There is no member of the President's political party that has yet summoned the strength, the will, the courage, to speak out. No Howard Baker this time around. Eventually as this scandal continues to unfold -- sooner or later -- that will change, and our nation will be the better for that man or woman's bravery.
I think we're still many days away from that day.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I didn't do it on purpose. Honest. I didn't even want Haloscan comments, but I did want trackback, but I couldn't have one without the other, blah*blah*sob ...
Please continue to give your opinions here (in the hopes that future technological advances won't cause me to lose them).
The nomination of John "Here's how you can appoint your brother Prez, Jeb" Roberts gave the White House all of a 36-hour break from Rovegate. It's refreshing to see our plodding yet methodical MSM staying on the case. Barbara at Mahablog has the analysis.
"How high does this go?" asks Booman. (To Cheney, is his answer.)
Yet I am dismayed again today by the apparent capitulation of Joe Lieberman and other "moderates" who have already chosen not to contest this SC nominee, and rushed to the microphones to tell us so.
Why do they do that? Why do they give up before the bell sounds for the first round? How long will it take them to realize that the GOP places no value on temperance?
This lack of fighting spirit, this missing intestinal fortitude -- this weakness -- has gone unrewarded by the electorate enough times already as to be proven the wrong strategy.
Stand aside, Joe. We're looking for fighters from now on.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I call bullshit.
See, John Roberts is a hack. He's only been a judge for two years. He has been a partisan Republican hack for twenty years.
The Bush administration accelerated the nomination of John Roberts in order to deflect attention from Karl Rove. Really, it makes sense. One partisan hack is taking the heat off another.
Bush was selected by the Supreme Court, and now he selects a member of his campaign team to the Supreme Court in order to draw the media's attention away from the ethics violations (and felonies, most likely) by the architect of his campaign.
Partisan hackery -- old-style, Tammany Hall patronage -- at its purest.
The Supreme Court is not a tool to help deflect attention from the crimes of those who helped (s)elect you. The Supreme Court is not a place for partisan hacks. The Bush administration however, in its continuous can-you-top-this hubris, believes it can be. In fact, it is using the Supreme Court as presidents have previously used ambassadorships. This is just today's example of how fealty is prized above all else -- more important than felonious, treasonous leaks, more important than the Constitution or the rule of law, more important than people's lives.
And so this is our fight -- country over partisanship.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Another white guy. From Slate:
Graduated from: Harvard Law School.
He clerked for: Judge Henry Friendly, Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
He used to be: associate counsel to the president for Ronald Reagan, deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush, partner at Hogan & Hartson.
He's now: a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (appointed 2003).
His confirmation battle: Roberts has been floated as a nominee who could win widespread support in the Senate. Not so likely. He hasn't been on the bench long enough for his judicial opinions to provide much ammunition for liberal opposition groups. But his record as a lawyer for the Reagan and first Bush administrations and in private practice is down-the-line conservative on key contested fronts, including abortion, separation of church and state, and environmental protection.
Civil Rights and Liberties
For a unanimous panel, denied the weak civil rights claims of a 12-year-old girl who was arrested and handcuffed in a Washington, D.C., Metro station for eating a French fry. Roberts noted that "no one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation" and that the Metro authority had changed the policy that led to her arrest. (Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2004).
In private practice, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Congress had failed to justify a Department of Transportation affirmative action program. (Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 2001).
For Reagan, opposed a congressional effort—in the wake of the 1980 Supreme Court decision Mobile v. Bolden—to make it easier for minorities to successfully argue that their votes had been diluted under the Voting Rights Act.
Separation of Church and State
For Bush I, co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that public high-school graduation programs could include religious ceremonies. The Supreme Court disagreed by a vote of 5-4. (Lee v. Weisman, 1992)
Environmental Protection and Property Rights
Voted for rehearing in a case about whether a developer had to take down a fence so that the arroyo toad could move freely through its habitat. Roberts argued that the panel was wrong to rule against the developer because the regulations on behalf of the toad, promulgated under the Endangered Species Act, overstepped the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce. At the end of his opinion, Roberts suggested that rehearing would allow the court to "consider alternative grounds" for protecting the toad that are "more consistent with Supreme Court precedent." (Rancho Viejo v. Nortion, 2003)
For Bush I, argued that environmental groups concerned about mining on public lands had not proved enough about the impact of the government's actions to give them standing to sue. The Supreme Court adopted this argument. (Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 1990)
Joined a unanimous opinion ruling that a police officer who searched the trunk of a car without saying that he was looking for evidence of a crime (the standard for constitutionality) still conducted the search legally, because there was a reasonable basis to think contraband was in the trunk, regardless of whether the officer was thinking in those terms. (U.S. v. Brown, 2004)
Joined a unanimous opinion denying the claim of a prisoner who argued that by tightening parole rules in the middle of his sentence, the government subjected him to an unconstitutional after-the-fact punishment. The panel reversed its decision after a Supreme Court ruling directly contradicted it. (Fletcher v. District of Columbia, 2004)
For Bush I, successfully helped argue that doctors and clinics receiving federal funds may not talk to patients about abortion. (Rust v. Sullivan, 1991)
Concurring in a decision allowing President Bush to halt suits by Americans against Iraq as the country rebuilds, Roberts called for deference to the executive and for a literal reading of the relevant statute. (Acree v. Republic of Iraq, 2004)
Hearings on the nominee probably can't happen before Labor Day, which is about 30 days before the Court reconvenes on the first Monday in October.
Color me opposed.
Washington was abuzz with speculation Tuesday about Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans ...
Known as a conservative and a strict constructionist in legal circles, Clement also has eased fears among abortion-rights advocates. She has stated that the Supreme Court "has clearly held that the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right to have an abortion" and that "the law is settled in that regard."
At first blush, I'm speechless.
Update: Bush will let us all know tonight (at 8 pm CDT).
Monday, July 18, 2005
Last Saturday I went across town to hear Chris Bell speak; this account of his appearance in Amarillo the same day echoes my sentiments. Tonight David Van Os spoke in my neighborhood; besides the fifty Meyerland Dems in attendance were three Houston city council candidates: Mark Lee, Herman Litt, and Ray Jones.
Tomorrow night in Bellaire, at the Campaign for a National Majority kickoff, Nick Lampson will address the group.
And this weekend a Downing Street Minutes Teach-In will be held locally. If it's anything like the Peak Oil Conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, there'll be a few hundred people there (SRO).
Find a DSM event near you this Saturday, and go.
Update: Nick Lampson will unfortunately be unable to attend the CNM event listed above; Robert Jara of the Texas Democratic Party will give an update on the prospects for the 2006 elections.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005
Greg has a good wrap-up of the discussion, but the most important development was the impending kickoff of Texas Tuesdays. Go there to learn more.
So he'll have to be carried out feet first, it seems. Which probably won't happen before, oh, next week ...
I believe there are a couple of conversations happening in the White House right now; one is, shall we go ahead and ignite that shitstorm with the liberals or not, and the other is:
"Can we make the announcement today, Boss, so that I don't have to answer any more questions about Karl, please?"
Thursday, July 14, 2005
National Security -- A top White House aide teams up with a columnist to defend the president's honor by exposing a CIA agent and a CIA front company. Think All the President's Men with the President's men being the good guys. I see Jeff Gannon as Karl Rove and Shelly Winters as Bob Novak. Mrs. Apuzzo could play the positive immigrant maid who lets Mr. Rove's late night visitors into the White House.
Duke Cunningham, Capitalist Tool -- Rep. Duke Cunnigham rubs a flag and a lobbyist/genie appears, granting him the power to make ridiculously lucrative real estate deals. Duke uses this power to enrich himself through a series of house and boat deals and becomes a star on the conservative speakers circuit giving presentations about the rewards of hard work. Think I Dream of Jeannie crossed with Wall Street. I see Ernest Borgnine playing Duke and Mrs. Apuzzo playing the positive immigrant maid who sweeps up all the cash that falls out of visiting lobbyists' pockets.
They Fight Alone -- The untold story of the brave men who proudly wear the Cheeto-stained briefs of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. In cold, damp basements across our nation, these courageous young men endure their mothers' nagging while fighting Islamo-fascism by flinging accusations of treason against Democrats. Think The Green Berets mixed with Beavis and Butthead. I see Cory Feldman as Ben Shapiro and Mrs. Apuzzo playing the positive immigrant maid Ben's mother hires to hose him down once a week.
The Passion of the Hammer -- The House Majority Leader is subjected to Gitmo interrogation techniques and then crucified by an activist judge who refuses to acknowledge the vital role that graft plays in a democratic society. Think The Passion of the Christ meets The Godfather. I see Randall Terry making his acting debut as Rep. DeLay and Mrs. Apuzzo playing the positive immigrant maid who the Majority Leader receives as a gift from a contributor in Saipan.
And from the comments:
"The Boys from Brazos." When their maximum leader gets in trouble by betraying a secret agent, his former clients in Texas are notified by phone, fax, and pony express to get their talking points synchronized. Congress is played by congress. The Press is played yet again by Karl Rove.
"Weekend in the Tropics." It's about a noble country forced to imprison evil thugs bent on destroying civilization. The noble country treats the prisoners so well that they come around in the end to realize the error of their ways. Think Midnight Express where the captors are the good guys.
... he's a treacherous, fleshy sociopath bent on world domination, forced by circumstances to move into a cheap apartment. His new roommate is an uptight male prostitute with a penchant for get-rich-quick schemes. Put them together, and you've got the original odd couple! It's Karl and JimJeff starring in "Below the Beltway." Rated PG-13 for brief (and patriotic) displays of little soldiers...
Has anyone ever had to be hospitalized for intense, prolonged, vertigo-inducing laughter? Because I'm about to have to call myself an ambulance ...
This is a good one:
BB: Your thoughts on Kinky Friedman? Carole Keaton Strayhorn?
CB: Kinky's a humorous guy who I've enjoyed listening to over the years. I once won a pitcher of beer for singing a Kinky Friedman song.
As far as Carole, I'm glad she's in the race.
More at the link in the header.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
But this post represents today's most intriguing development, in my humble O:
On July 11th, 2003, Karl Rove, the Chief Adviser to the President of the United States, told Time reporter Matthew Cooper that he knew who had sent Ambassador Joseph Wilson on his fact-finding trip to Niger: Wilson's wife.
According to the RNC statement released today, more than two months later, Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC, on September 14th, 2003, "I don't (know) who sent Joe Wilson (to Niger)."
So: Karl Rove was leaking information to Time that he wasn't willing to share with the Vice President of the United States? A top Administration official (Rove) tells Time that it (the Administration) "knew" who had sent Wilson to Niger, and then two months later another top official (Cheney) denies that knowledge?
I don't think so.
At some point, Rove's supposedly lying to so many people -- first Bush, now you'd have to believe he was lying to Cheney, too -- that you realize, he didn't lie to any of them: they've all been lying to us.
So, did Cheney repeat this lie to the prosecutor investigating the Plame leak, Attorney Fitzgerald, when the latter interviewed him?
If so, guess what: that's obstruction of justice.
You know, (that was) one of the things they tried to impeach Clinton for -- and Clinton's deceit was both less direct and pursuant to a civil (not criminal) investigation.
Think about it: if Cheney did tell Fitzgerald that he knew who had sent Wilson, then he would also have been forced to tell him how he got that information -- from Rove. Which means Rove would be in a jail cell right now, either for the leak itself, or for perjury, or for obstruction of justice. The fact that Rove remains free is, politically-speaking, res ipsa loquitur proof ("the thing speaks for itself") that Cheney maintained his claim of ignorance not only to NBC and to America, but to Fitzgerald as well. Which makes him not only a liar, but also, almost certainly, a criminal.
And if it really is true that Rove was withholding information from Cheney, that fact would already have been uncovered and Rove would have been fired from the Bush Administration. The fact that they haven't fired him is, again, at least in political terms, res ipsa loquitur proof that the Administration was wise to the same intelligence Rove had.
And by Administration, I mean President and Vice President.
And by President, I mean the man who told the American people repeatedly that he wanted to uncover the source of the leak and didn't know himself who the leaker was.
But what did he know, and when did he know it?
White House Press Corps reporters have already asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan that question, and he's refused to answer; now the RNC statement casts an even greater shadow on whether Cheney and Bush have lied publicly about the Plame leak. That is, did Bush lie to the cameras, in a Lewinsky-like moment, in order to save his corrupt king-maker, Rove?
And what sort of dirt would Rove have to have on Bush for Bush to be willing to do that?
Seth Abramson has been blogging these angles heavily. Go check him out.
As a former felony court judge in Houston, Texas for over 20 years, I used the Constitution and made decisions that affected real people – defendants, victims, and the community. I took the same oath as our Supreme Court justices and never rendered a ruling based upon the sentiments of another nation. I determined whether individuals should lose their property, liberty, and freedom. On occasion, my decisions even resulted in those individuals forfeiting their lives. Nonetheless, every ruling was rooted in the United States Constitution, which those who came to my court unquestionably knew constitutes the basis of all American law... not the judge’s personal opinion or the holdings of a foreign nation; not the British way or the European way; but rather the American way. Had I used any other law but that of the Constitution, I would have been removed from the bench and rightfully so.
The overarching thrust of this rant -- decrying the influence of international law on American jurisprudence -- is specious. Surely Poe has knows enough of law history to recall that Franklin, Hamilton, et al drew inspiration -- if not entire passages -- from the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and other foreign sources.
And the portion I emphasized above is just plain foolish. Unless the death penalty appears somewhere in the Constitution, then Poe was just another "activist judge" doing his best to interpret the Framers' intent, and not the strict constructionist he believes himself to be.
Poe was nationally renowned for his creative punishment sentencings while he was a judge locally, and was widely known as a "tough-on-crimer" (even if he let a lot of criminals off the hook after the fact). "Poetic Justice", as it were. I'm not sure where Poe found constitutional authority to order child molesters to put signs on their front doors advertising their convictions, or command drunken drivers to walk at the scene of their crime with sandwich boards publicizing their circumstances, or force people to take out newspaper ads apologizing for their dastardly deeds.
Nor how that ensured the "predictability, consistency, and uniformity of justice".
Then there's this:
Having been down in the mud, blood, and beer with real people, I have witnessed the Constitution’s impact on the lives of Americans. I submit that looking to foreign court decisions is as relevant as using the writings of Reader’s Digest, a Sears and Roebuck catalog, a horoscope, my grandmother’s recipe for the common cold, tea leaves, star gazing, or the local gossip at the barbershop in Cut N’ Shoot, Texas.
I have to wonder here if Poe's father actually named him Sue ...
Maybe while the judge works out his own private personal hypocrisy he can go huntin' with Ag Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Monday, July 11, 2005
One Tough Grandma raised $1.5 million in the first ten days of June -- that was before she even declared for Governor -- and has over seven million samolians on hand, as of June 20.
But she's going to have to spend all of it and more to beat God's Own MoFo'n Governor:
Texas Republican primary voters would support incumbent Governor Rick Perry over State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn by a two-to-one margin, according to a recent poll.
Since the summer of 2001, Montgomery and Associates, an independent research firm based in Austin, Texas, has been running surveys tracking statewide political issues and elected officials. This survey was conducted from June 27 – July 1, 2005 and tested 905 Texans who had voted in at least one out of the past two Republican primaries. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3%. Montgomery & Associates conducted the survey independently, and has not been paid by any candidate or party. In partisan political races, the firm works for Democratic candidates.
Damn, this is going to be fun to watch...
Sunday, July 10, 2005
I purchased the DVD and plan to show it to everyone who wants to watch it. It is truly one of the most eye-opening films I have seen.
It's difficult to know where to start in providing an overview of something as ominous sounding as "The End of Suburbia". Maybe I should begin with the grand American Dream -- owning a home -- but more specifically how that Dream of a home in the "country", with a green lawn and a few trees and a white picket fence and maybe a puppy as well as formal dining and living rooms and a two-car garage was offered to a post-Industrial Age, post-WWII America hungry for something to live for besides war. And how the auto manufacturers, looking for ways to keep their assembly lines busy in the new postwar economy, happily participated in the sales presentation, which in turned spawned a pop culture phenomenon, the idyll of a man in his car on the open road ("Route 66" being one of the obvious examples). And how this combination of the allure of 'town and country living' coupled with the fascination with the automobile -- along with a very genuine concern to escape the cities' tenements and their proximity to smoke-belching factories -- resulted not only in the evolution of places where people could live comfortably but also buy what they needed (the development of shopping centers and then regional malls). And even how the interstate highway system, originally a Defense Department strategy envisioned from seeing armies and tanks bogged down in Europe, gradually evolved into a marketing tool to encourage Americans to get away on vacation.
All of the suburban lifestyle, of course, is based on consumption. Out of the maturation of the consumer economy came business strategies like planned obsolescence, or what our parents and grandparents meant when they said "they don't build 'em like they used to". Even a basic understanding of economics makes obvious a statistic like new housing starts being a key measurement of the health of our nation's economy, because when people buy a new home they must also buy furniture and furnishings and appliances and so on. Naturally, everybody who's ever bought a new home already knows this.
The suburban lifestyle also assumes fundamentally the premise of extraordinarily inexpensive fuel: cheap gasoline, cheap home heating oil, cheap electricity. Such was most certainly the case at the beginning of the postwar period; the United States in fact was awash in oil, and even had trouble finding uses for it all. Those of us with a few grey hairs can remember gasoline price wars in our towns when we were kids, and gas was .10 or .15 cents a gallon. And even through the price shocks engineered by OPEC in the Seventies, which scared consumers and producers and automakers so bad that it stimulated significant conservation action ('conservative' being a word we oddly don't hear today when it comes to energy consumption), the price of oil and its myriad byproducts only climbed marginally and within the expected rate of currency inflation right through the end of the 20th century. Only recently -- within the past few years -- have we seen an aggressive advance of fuel costs in a pattern of quite rapid escalation.
What's driving that? At this point an understanding of Peak Oil is worthwhile, but I won't delve too deeply here into the conversation that the world's supply of oil is at or nearing peak production, with global consumption still growing, and how that scenario affects petroleum markets and ultimately the price you pay at the pump, short- as well as long-term. Google "Peak Oil" or look at the links in the post I mentioned above. Once one has a grasp of the premise, one can agree or disagree as to whether we're already there, but one cannot reasonably think that it is something that will never happen. It's really only a matter of when. And the only other point that needs to be reinforced is that the war we're currently fighting in Iraq has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with 'freedom'. Indeed, most future military confrontations will be over the control of the commodity which powers the engines of our machines and our economies.
So back to Suburbia: what happens to the Great American Consumer when oil reaches $75 or $100 a barrel, and gasoline reaches $3 or even $5 a gallon? (We could reach these levels perhaps within the next six months, perhaps longer than that, but most surely within the next few years.)
Well, $100 fillups don't leave a lot of disposable income, and when you're too upside down to trade your Suburban in on a Prius, and you can't change jobs for fear of losing your health insurance and you can't move closer to your work because you just took out a home equity loan to put in a pool ...
... and then the housing bubble begins to burst in your subdivision and you discover to your chagrin that you have negative equity in your home, but you also realize that the rising price of fuel has jacked up the price of everything at the supermarket, and there's even less food at the market because all of the fertilizers and pesticides are also made out of petroleum products and even the commercial megafarmers are going broke or getting out of the business of growing and shipping food ...
Farfetched, you think? Alarmist?
Consider the 3,000-mile Caesar's salad.
There's much more to the movie, including suggestions on how to cope with this inevitable paradigm shift, but I'll leave the rest of that for another day (or to your own research).
Oh yeah! About the other brown liquid I mentioned in the headline:
Several of us Houston Blogsylvanians met up yesterday afternoon to take the edge off of unsettling matters like Peak Oil at a cute little watering hole near Rice Village. Charles, Lyn, Pete, and John, nice seeing y'all again/meeting you and your families for the first time (as the case may be).
Update (7/11): The host indicates he had a few too many, but I didn't notice.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Brit Hume thinks it's time to invest:Brian Kilmeade thinks the attacks were a good thing for the Western world:I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."The day before the attack, Fox's John Gibson wrote:And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.Which is why he wrote yesterday that it would be good if France was bombed:So it would have been a treat, actually, to watch the French dealing with the problem of their own homegrown Islamist terrorists living in France already.Even though the attacks were targeted at Arab areas of London, finally Fox assures us that Arabs living in London are not real Londoners:The bombings in London; this is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics -- let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while.This is about as offensive as coverage can get.... these people are, If necessary, prepared to spill Arab blood in addition to the blood of regular -- of non-Arab people living in London.
Yes. Yes, it is.
Friday, July 08, 2005
The newest one, to Howard's right up top, is for the Velvet Revolution, a non-profit organized to bring together the many disparate elements calling attention to election irregularities that began in 2000, and specifically regarding the questions surrounding paperless electronic voting machines.
One of the warriors of that cause lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last night, and the little flag link above is my small tribute to his tireless efforts.
RIP, Andy. The fight goes on.
It's ironic that acts of terrorism encourage international warfare to defeat terrorism, and of course that has the effect of increasing the numbers of terrorists.
And also increases the number of acts of terrorism, I might add (despite the efforts of Condoleeza Rice to suppress the truth).
So, with George W Bush leading us around in this circle, we should be due for another war shortly ...
Thursday, July 07, 2005
If the chief justice steps down, it would create the first simultaneous high court openings in 34 years. In 1971, President Nixon appointed Rehnquist and Lewis Powell when Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan retired.
In his column, Novak said a Rehnquist retirement would enable President Bush to nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales despite fierce opposition from the president's own political base.
It's going to get a little hotter this summer (for everybody).
Update (7/9): Even the conservo-blogs grow weary of the "now he will, no he hasn't yet" chatter.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
You can never say for sure how someone will vote when they get to the Supreme Court—that's the beauty of judicial independence and life tenure. But based on their past statements and decisions, Roberts, McConnell, Garza, and Jones look like good bets to vote to regulate abortion more tightly and, if they get the chance someday, perhaps to overturn Roe v. Wade. Alito would probably do the same. How far Luttig would go is less clear—his statement of respect for Casey is clinical and drained of emotion, which makes it harder to tell. Gonzales' opinions in the Texas cases suggest that he doesn't much like the idea of teenagers having abortions without telling their parents. But in those cases and others, he has been inclined to respect previous Supreme Court decisions. That makes him the potential nominee most likely to follow O'Connor when it comes to Roe—and it explains why religious conservatives are so hostile to his potential nomination.
I have written elsewhere that I thought that Abu Gonzales might be the best we can expect from this President. As revolting as it would be to consider the apologist of torture for the Bush administration as Justice, the truth is he's not been nearly as inimical to women's reproductive freedoms as just about all the others on this list.
Hopefully Bush is seriously considering this man.
Update: Harry Reid signals to Bush that AG is OK.
Occasionally I get emails from Washington folks who work on the Hill claiming to possess juicy insider digs on our public servants and their corporate paymasters. I usually delete said emails, as I don't want to be responsible for propagating dirty rumors or false information that can't be corroborated. I'd rather let Judith Miller and the New York Times do that. Nonetheless, in the past 24 hours I have been contacted by three separate congressional Democrats in Washington, by email and later phone, who all say the same thing: Karl Rove is about to be indicted.
All this comes on the heels of events that transpired over the weekend, as two different individuals, journalist Michael Isikoff and political commentator Lawrence O'Donnell, both claimed that Karl Rove was responsible for leaking the identity of an undercover CIA officer's identity to Marc Cooper of Time magazine. As Isikoff of Newsweek wrote on July 3:“The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with Newsweek, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article.”
If what Isikoff and O'Donnell claim is indeed true, it still does not necessarily mean that Rove was also Robert Novak's inside guy, although it surely raises suspicion. The indictment, as I am told, will most likely be of felony weight. In fact, Karl Rove may be accused of perjury, as Bush's top strategist told a grand jury that he was not responsible for leaking Plame's identity to Time. So the charge may not be for leaking top-secret information to the press, but for perjuring himself.
Sources also all say that this indictment is likely to come down either late this week or early next week. Of course Rove's lawyer denies that his client ever “knowingly” handed over classified information to the media, or is the “target” of any investigation. Perhaps Rove “unknowingly” leaked the information, and he's the “subject” rather than a “target” of an investigation. Time will tell.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has been leaked this information either. Over at Redstate, a right-wing Internet blog, one member who calls himself “Ohsure”, also claims that “[four] Great sources confirmed” the matter, and later added: “I not only don't do this, I have never done this. But here it is; ‘Karl Rove will be indicted late this, or early next week.’ I'm trusting a source. So either I am made a [sic] into an overzealous horses a**, or..., I have good sources and may be more trusted to get these things right.”
And as my friend PW has surmised, the fact that Bush has apparently counseled with and considered retaining a private criminal defense attorney with a specialty in defending Republican scofflaws suggests there's a pony buried somewhere underneath all this manure.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
I guess some blessed burrito-eater got the message from our savior as he was about to prepare some grub: “My little lamb, don’t eat this quesadilla, learn my ways, be kind to others, I died for your sins -- oh and sell this on eBay for personal profit.”
There's also a sour-cream-and-onion-potato-chip Jesus which fetched $260 at auction.
True believers should drop to their knees and pray, and then click over to e-Bay to check the seller's similar items ...
Sunday, July 03, 2005
NASA's Deep Impact mission is scheduled to crash an 820-pound Impactor probe into Comet Tempel 1 and record the event via a Flyby mothership, orbital observatories like the Hubble and Spitzer space telescope, and a myriad of ground-based telescopes from around the world. The impact is expected to take place at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT) on July 4.
You can also watch a webcast here (starting about one hour before impact). There's a hundred excellent links, including still images from observatory telescopes at Kitt Peak, Keck, and Dyer at this page.
Friday, July 01, 2005
And Judith Miller, who never even wrote a word about it, may still go to jail while Bob Novak skates? (Talk Left answers my question, and points out that Rove lied to the FBI. That just happens to be a Martha Stewart-style federal crime.)
For Chrissakes, Peter Fitzgerald, will you just hurry up and bring the indictments, please?
Update: Lawrence O'Donnell speaks...
I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.
McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.
Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow.
- If you have a cell phone, sign up for People at the American Way's Mass Immediate Response site. This way you'll be able to receive text message action items instantly as events break. (If you signed up during the nuclear option fight, you'll need to re-sign up.)
- Also sign up with Save the Court, another PFAW website devoted specifically to this issue.
- Recruit friends and family members to the cause.
- Write to the President, telling him he should choose a consensus candidate to replace O'Connor. Contact your Senators to tell them the same thing.
- Sign MoveOn's "Protect Our Rights" petition.
- Contact members of the media and tell them you think Bush should nominate a consensus candidate. Please be polite, brief (200 words or less), and don't copy-and-paste -- put it in your own words.
I don't think he can appoint the same person he's already got picked out to replace the Chief; an ultraconservative for an ultraconservative is one thing, but an ultraconservative for the Court's most important moderate and swing vote is something else entirely. Among many other ramifications, any nominee put forth who has the approval of James Dobson means that Roe will be, in short order, overturned.
Speaking for everyone on my side of the aisle, we cannot allow that to happen. So this will probably be the biggest battle of the summer (not to mention our lifetimes and that of our wives, sisters, and daughters).
So much for light blogging over the holiday ...
On Saturday, stages in Philadelphia, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Barrie (a city in Ontario, Canada), Moscow and Johannesburg will be joined by an estimated 1 million fans and 2 billion viewers. It's almost easier to list artists who are not playing on one of the stages than to name all who are involved.
Stateside, the bill at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia boasts Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Def Leppard, Destiny's Child, Jay-Z, Josh Groban, Kaiser Chiefs, Keith Urban, Linkin Park, Maroon 5, P. Diddy, Rob Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Wonder and Toby Keith.
And that's just one city. U2, Coldplay, Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg, R.E.M., Pink Floyd, Elton John and Madonna are just a few of the artists playing elsewhere.
G8 leaders meeting in Scotland will -- maybe -- take note. Andrew will liveblog it (or at least take some pictures; Chris Bowers will be there also, but Annatopia is missing out). One.org has an action alert for us to click. And if all you want to do is watch the music, there's eight hours' worth on MTV starting at 11 a.m. CDT tomorrow and highlights on your ABC affiliate from 7-9.
Update (7/5): In the comments, Albert points out I got his name wrong. And Chris B.'s pictures turned out really good.