Thursday, June 29, 2006

Judges want redistricting maps in two weeks

The Lone Star Project has it:

The three-judge Federal District Court has issued an order and provided a schedule for determining a remedy in response to the recently released opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court on Texas redistricting.

July 14, 2006 - All parties (plaintiffs and defendants) required to file remedial proposals including briefs and proposed maps.

July 21, 2006 - responses to remedial proposals must be filed.

August 3, 2006 - 9:00 a.m. - Oral arguments on proposals before the three-judge panel in Austin, Texas

That answers the question as to whether the judicial trio or the Lege will approve the maps. Judges Higginbotham, Rosenthal, and Ward aren't fooling around. But with a sixty-day period for DOJ review, new districts will require a special election.

In November?!? Does that mean that those elected in a special will serve a regular two-year term? Does it mean Cuellar or Doggett, with no GOP opponent in the general, can draw additional challengers -- from either the right or left?

My goodness, this gets curiouser and curiouser.

Update: Charles Kuffner seems to think there's plenty of time to pull off an open primary. (Color me skeptical.)

Update II (6/30): The Valley Politico seems to have it all figured out. His scenario posits a politician on the ballot for, say, state legislature in the regularly-scheduled general election on November 7, and the same politician on a special election ballot for Congress. The same person running for two different offices at the same time, a la LBJ and Lloyd Bentsen. At this point I feel as if I must confess to a learning disability regarding this issue.

Update III: Charles K explains it to me. (Thanks, dude.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What the redistricting decision means

Maybe. At this point.

Having qualified my conclusions, it's still subject to lots of legal interpretation, a few more decisions still need to be made, and then a plan will be executed. By someone(s). At some near or not-so-near point in the future.

First, as backstory for those of you not paying close attention, the SCOTUS -- in a decision announced earlier today -- invalidated a portion of the Texas Congressional district maps that the Republicans in Austin redrew in 2003, according to Tom DeLay's edict. There are various interpretations of whether this was a victory for democracy or not.

Blogs and listservs are ablaze with translations. Here's a few of mine. First, the facts:

1. Two* One districts -- CD-23, currently held by Republican Henry Bonilla, and CD-25, held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett* -- were deemed in violation of the Voting Rights Act due to dilution of minority votes. They must be redrawn and submitted for approval by the USDOJ again. You may recall that the political appointees there overruled the career attorneys in approving the current boundaries several months ago. Any redrawn maps for these districts likely also change marginally the composition of CD-21 (Lamar Smith-R) and CD-28 (Henry Cuellar-D, barely).

2. The Texas district court panel of three judges which arbiters this matter now has the responsibility of deciding what to do with the map. The first and most immediate decision is when to rewrite the map -- this election or the next (my guess is the boundaries for 2006 will not change). The second decision is whether they will redraw it themselves -- accepting three maps each from Democrats and Republicans has been customary in the past -- or whether they kick it back to the Texas Legislature to redo the lines during the 80th legislative session, starting in January of 2007.

Speculation and further decisions and accompanying speculation to come. For now, I'll focus on what was won:

This ruling is a substantial victory for the Voting Rights Act, a victory that puts the Republicans in Congress (like the odious John Carter) on the spot, since they delayed VRA renewal to see what the Justices would do with Texas redistricting.

I don't think it was ever likely that the Supreme Court would have tossed out the entire plan simply because of political gerrymandering, which in this decision the Justices have largely approved. Much more interesting is that redistricting can apparently happen any time a state legislature feels like it, which opens a Pandora's Box in the short term for the GOP (in states besides Texas).

Summarizing: we don't know what the relief will be. The three-judge panel could 1) draw its own map; 2) give the Texas Lege a deadline to draw one; 3) let the current districts stand for 2006; 4) move quickly to change them.

As regards the current occupants of the affected districts, Bonilla and Cuellar can be more easily defeated in redrawn districts, but Lamar Smith would be strengthened.

Some good and some not so much, which is probably the best short conclusion of what the SC decided in this case. And there will be much more to dissect in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

*Update: Only CD-23 was declared in violation of VRA. Interestingly, in the opinion issued by the Supremes, they suggest the remedy is redraw CD-25 ...

Redrawing that district (CD-23) will force nearby District 25, the Austin-to-Mexico district held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, to be redrawn, according to the court opinion. The court's majority noted that the Doggett district, which joins two distinct Latino communities 300 miles apart, is not compact enough.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gallery of the Absurd

I've added some really interesting things in the blogroll lately, but none more so than Gallery of the Absurd. Go look around, and don't miss Celebrity Endorsement Idea No. 645.

Rush Limbaugh-Viagra humor

While we wait for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, here's some bad jokes by Grant Miller ...

What's the difference between a meeting with Republican lobbyists and a Dominican Republic sex vacation? When you meet with Republican lobbyists, you don't have to take your Viagra through customs.

I hear Daryn Kagan broke up with Rush -- apparently she only does hard news.

Limbaugh takes Viagra so he can be an even bigger dick.

I heard he was supplying Viagra to President Bush. Even the President gets tired of screwing the country all the time.

This confirms that the vast right-wing conspiracy isn't quite so vast.

He puts the "social" in "social conservative."

Limbaugh declined to comment on the drug seizure. I guess he likes to keep his privates private.

*badaboom * badabing*

Monday, June 26, 2006

Moneyshot Quotes of the Week

Greg has already expounded, so let me just repeat what these two idiots said:

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons ..."
-- Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"I don't think we have racial bias in Texas any more."
-- Rep. John Carter (R-TX)

Update (6/27): Think Progress administers another smack to Carter's head with this:

Texas leads the nation in several categories of voting discrimination, including recent Section 5 violations and Section 2 challenges. … Section 5 of the VRA, the preclearance requirement, was extended to Texas in 1975 due to the State’s history of excluding Mexican Americans from the political process. … Texas is home to the second largest Latino population in the U.S.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pride Parade photos

These are from last year and were originally posted at Todd's, but they're representative of last night's atmosphere. More -- and more current -- shortly.

Update: Lyn has posted some good ones from yesterday.

Update II: And Robb Zipp has some from this year's Pride Parade, including some interesting ones of Taylor Dane (let's just say that they don't call them backup singers for nothing). Thanks, RZ; by that time I was sound asleep from the day's sweat.

Too far behind to catch up

This time last Sunday we were preparing for the Juneteenth Filibuster, which began just as the rain stopped and ended as the sky opened again. A brief account was posted here and a few pictures here.

I drove back to Houston Monday morning in the middle of the worst of the downpour, but experienced only minor traffic delays on I-45 and the South Loop. The white-knuckle, windshield-wipers-on-fast-and-still-can't-see, slightly-hydroplaning-once-in-awhile ride took 2 1/2 hours instead of one, but really the worst of it was on the other side of the highway, where the Loop was flooded -- not just the access roads -- and the cars were stopped, their drivers out walking around. A scene reminiscent of the Rita evacuation. *shudder*

On Tuesday the 21st I met the Van Oses -- David, Rachel, Maya, and Leya -- at the Galveston County Courthouse and began our odyssey. Well, their odyssey. Fifteen courthouse stops in three days, of which I managed six in two. After Galveston came Chambers (Anahuac) where we met mayor Guy Robert and Judge Jimmy Sylvia and others for lunch at the Wooden Spoon. The Baytown Sun covered this visit. Then to Liberty, where about twenty supporters greeted us, among them CD-02 challenger Gary Binderim and and mi bloghermano Stace Medellin, who posted a lengthy account of this part of the trip at his place. We got in a radio interview with KSHN-99.9 FM before we left for Kountze, the seat of Hardin County, where David spoke to about thirty activists including chair Willa Coe, mayor Fred Williams, superintendent of schools Gus Holloman, and others. (It's important here to note that Hardin County has no Republicans on the local ballot. This is true of several of the counties we visited -- Southeast Texas remains Yellow Dog Democrat country.)

From Kountze to Beaumont and the Jefferson County courthouse, a radio interview with Jack Pieper of KLVI, and then a dinner reception with the Progressive Democrats of Southeast Texas, headed up by DVO supporters John and Suzanne Stafford. (David was kind enough to acknowledge my mother Jean's upcoming birthday in his remarks.)

Wednesday started in Orange, Texas and a press conference including Glenn Earle of KOGT and county judge Paul Thibodeaux, who told David that the steps from which he spoke were the same ones where Lyndon Johnson addressed Orange County citizens in his 1947 Senate run.

I lef the tour after Orange and returned to Houston; David and family continued on to nine more county seats, wrapping up the trip in Conroe on Thursday the 22nd, with Agriculture Commissioner candidate Hank Gilbert and 70 supporters. Sharon posted an excellent DKos diary here with photos, links to coverage by the Montgomery County Courier and the Jasper Newsboy, and podcasts by David of the tourstops. Thursday night concluded the week's events with a spaghetti dinner fundraiser held at the Woodlands home of Nahla Williamson. Mrs. Diddie and I tried to get up there for it, but once again the weather (and 5 o'clock rush hour traffic on I-45 North) was uncooperative; we were forced to turn back after getting caught in the gridlock.

Friday morning the 23rd I returned to Galveston County and represented the campaign at the Mainland Ecumenical Alliance luncheon, and spoke for a few minutes for David along with Chris Bell, Barbara Radnofsky, Hank Gilbert, county judge Jim Yarbrough, and district court judge Susan Criss. In attendance were many of the area's Baptist ministers, parishioners, Democratic activists, organized labor leaders Lee Medley, Sam Munn, Daryl Stewart and more.

Saturday at the Pride Parade we filled in at the DFA booth registering voters and signing up supporters. The heat and humidity did not deter the revelers.

I'll try to manage a few photos of some or all of the week's events later.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

With Van Os for the next week

at the Filibuster for Freedom in Galveston today through Monday, Juneteenth, and then traveling through Southeast Texas on the Courthouse Tour. Light posting likely due to rare access to the broadband connection.

Consider this an open thread to discuss anything you like in the comments until I get back.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Paul McCartney turns 64 on Sunday.

He wrote the song as a goof on his dad shortly after the elder McCartney had reached the age his son will be day after tomorrow.

Paul's mother had died of breast cancer five years earlier, as did his wife Linda seven years ago.

... About 2.7 million other Americans observe their 64th birthdays in 2006, including Muhammad Ali, Erica Jong, Larry Flynt, Garrison Keillor, Michael Bloomberg, Harrison Ford, Ted Kaczynski and Barbra Streisand. (Ringo Starr, the only other surviving member of the Fab Four, will be 66 next month; John Lennon was murdered at 40 in 1980; George Harrison died of cancer at 58 in 2001.)

"The slogan back then was 'Never trust anyone over 30,' " recalled Jeff Greenfield, the CNN commentator, who is 63. "We thought people would be dead or in a home by their 60's."

Today, on average, 64-year-olds can expect to live more than 16 years, about 4 years longer than 64-year-olds could expect in 1967, according to government statisticians (and, hey, an editor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Jude Rutledge, was named for another of Mr. McCartney's songs).

Here's hoping my favorite Beatle exceeds the life expectancy.

Time to start Acting Blue

ActBlue is the federal clearinghouse for donations to Democratic candidates, having channeled over $5.5 million to Dem contenders so far. With your help, we can activate it for Texas... for statewide, state house, and state senate candidates.

Together, Texas bloggers have agreed to help activate ActBlue for our state's non-federal candidates by asking our readers to put us over the top. Normally, ActBlue asks each state to raise $10,000 before moving forward (Texas being at $4,625 so far). But we've got some good news for you from the people at ActBlue:

However, in doing some more preliminary research Texas turns out to be similar to some other states we've already done -- so if we could break $5000 we'd be ready to move ahead with it. Would the Texroots be able to help us out with the remaining $1000 by the end of the month?

As far as timeline, my aim would be to have everything ready to go as early in July as we can.

So will you -- the TexRoots, that's you -- get us over the $5,000 mark and activate ActBlue for all our state non-federal candidates? Do it here.

This is the most important thing you can do for the David Van Oses, the Hank Gilberts, the Maria Luisa Alvarados, and the VaLinda Hathcoxes of Texas as we move forward to support all of the TexRoots candidates, to be announced in the coming months here and elsewhere around the Texas liberal blogosphere.

Update (7 p.m.): $5000.02. Thanks everyone who pushed us over the top, including SH-126 candidate Chad Khan.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gracias tanto, TDP

Amber Moon, Communications Director
Hector Nieto, Deputy Communications Director
Texas Democratic Party
707 Rio Grande Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Dear Amber and Hector:

Over the past few months, you have done tremendous work to bring the Texas Democratic Party and the surging Texas netroots community together.

Specifically, we want to commend you for the accommodations you provided at the recently completed Texas Democratic Party Convention in Fort Worth. From the front row seating to free wi-fi access, you gave us tremendous access to an excellent convention. Most importantly, you treated us with the same respect you gave to the traditional media.

The Texas blogging community may be an unconventional bunch. We don't write for major dailies, and we can't guarantee thousand-dollar checks. We do, however, work tirelessly -- as volunteers, as activists, as organizers, and as bloggers -- to fight for the candidates and the people of our Texas Democratic Party.

Thanks again for all the work you did helping make the 2006 TDP convention a success, and we are eager to continue working together to help move Texas forward.

The Texas Progressive Democratic Webloggers

Rep. Aaron Pena

Sean-Paul Kelley


Perry Dorrell

Karl-Thomas Musselman, et al

Vince Leibowitz

Nathan Nance

Stace Medellin

wcnews and dembones

Greg Wythe

Shannon & Ted McLaughlin

Matt Glazer

Marc Gault

Trey McAtee

Martha Griffin

Charles Kuffner

M. Eddie Rodriguez

Texas Kos

CC: Boyd Richie, Chairman, Texas Democratic Party
Ruben Hernandez, Executive Director, Texas Democratic Party

A lawsuit in Texas against electronic voting

From the Longview News-Journal:

Two Travis County voters, joined by Democratic nominee for Texas Attorney General David Van Os and the Texas Civil Rights Project, filed a lawsuit in state district court Wednesday seeking to block the use of electronic voting machines that do not produce paper receipts.

The lawsuit claims that the paperless machines violate the public's right to a secure election and the purity of the ballot box under the Texas Constitution, according to a news release.

Darryl Primo, Gregg County's Precinct 2 commissioner, said he isn't surprised that someone is challenging electronic voting machines. He said he was the lone dissenting vote when commissioners purchased 160 machines in October using a $539,000 grant from the Help America to Vote Act.

Primo said he voted to purchase additional equipment to produce receipts that would allow for a voter audit trail.

"They voted not to do it. I wanted to do it; they voted not to do it," Primo said, "and it sits like a time bomb ticking away until the next time we have a contested election."


Primo pointed to the 1992 county judge election between Ken Walker and David Wright, when it took five recounts before Walker was declared the winner by fewer than 10 votes.

"Here's the issue, that the people I spoke with a year ago said that no matter how many safeguards were put into the design of these (electronic voting machines), there were vulnerabilities in the system," he said.


"When every voter cannot be sure that a machine recorded his or her vote the way he or she intended, democracy is not fulfilled," (Van Os) said. "These paperless machines are a direct threat to constitutional democracy. We must have paper ballots."

Much more you should read between the ellipses above. The Austin American-Statesman takes a more pessimistic slant (that is, for voters who want fair elections) :

The lawsuit argues that voters have no way of knowing whether the vote they cast is recorded or stored correctly by the eSlate system, which has been used in Travis County since 2002, and that electronic systems are prone to fraud and mistakes. The group wants an injunction to block use of the machines and cites government and media reports detailing problems with electronic voting in Texas and other states.

Travis County has embraced the technology, switching to electronic voting for everything but absentee ballots. The federal government required Texas to put at least one electronic voting machine in each precinct by Jan. 1 so people with disabilities can easily vote.

DeBeauvoir and a spokesman for Williams, along with the founder of the Austin company that created eSlate, all rejected the claim that paper ballots are necessary for a fair and secure election.

"I am not a lawyer but I kind of doubt that there is much of an argument," said DeBeauvoir, whose office runs elections in Travis County. "I believe that the system is accurate and secure the way it is."

David Hart, the founder of Hart InterCivic, said that more than 400 jurisdictions nationwide use the company's eSlate system, which uses tablet-size screens on which votes are cast with dials and buttons.

He said the system, which is not connected to the Internet, stores ballot information in three electronic places. In Travis County, it captures images of each ballot so electronic or manual recounts can be conducted.

"The eSlate system has got a lot of security built into it," he said.

The difference in opinion presented in these two stories could illustrate the divide between rural Texas and the state's capital city: Austin is where Hart Intercivic -- the company that supplies the eSlates used to cast ballots in Travis County as well as the rest of Texas -- is headquartered. And the state Capitol, where the corrupt Republicans who authorized this purchase gather biennially, is right up the road from the AAS building.

The company seems to have been a small, only-slightly-imbalanced player in the political contributions game (.pdf file) but maybe there's an embedded special interest in there somewhere.

You think?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More TDP photos

The Van Os-mobile.

Anna of Annatopia, who organized our Blogger's Caucus at the Flying Saucer, the most successful social event of the convention.

David Van Os and his women: from left daughters, Kay Cee, Leya, and Maya, wife Rachel.

Hank Gilbert and family.

Blogger's Alley inside the convention center.

I, The Media.

Fred Head's statement on public education.

Thanks to TomTech of Daily Kos for these. Here's more.

Why Rove wasn't indicted

Seth Abramson, a criminal attorney who writes the outstanding Suburban Ectstasies blog, has the brain candy. It's an easy three-step explanation showing how prosecutorial trial strategy, and not Rove's innocence, was the reason "Turd Blossom" escaped federal prosecution, but let's skip right to the smackdown:

Conclusion. Any competent lawyer will tell you that Rove got off on Perjury/Obstruction of Justice charges because the case against Scooter Libby was infinitesimally stronger than the case against Rove, and thus Fitzgerald went with the stronger prosecution over the weaker. (For the analysis of an incompetent attorney, see here). This doesn't mean that Rove is innocent, of course. In fact, it doesn't even mean Fitzgerald thinks he couldn't convict Rove. It means only this: that if Fitzgerald thinks he has a 95% or greater chance of convicting Libby, he must, therefore, think that he has a 94% or less chance of convicting Rove. So, it's simple trial strategy at work here, not anything the Porcine Wonder did. Don't let the media mislead you into thinking the lack of a Rove indictment means the case against him was weak. It wasn't. It isn't. It never will be. Which is why Rove will lose his shirt in the civil suit that's coming down the line any day now.

Perhaps I'll save that bottle of bubbly I was chilling for Fitzmas after all ...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Images from the TDP Convention

Yours truly with Senator Barbara Ann Radnofsky.

The Texas Progressive Alliance (well, most of it, anyway).

Bloggers' Caucus at the Flying Saucer. I'm in the middle of this mix, talking to David Van Os.

Hoping BAR doesn't fall (and I have to catch her).

The back of my head. Oh, and Jim Huebner and Mrs. Diddie also.

The next President of the United States.

All images stolen from Anna. Vince has more.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Look at all the live-blogging!

Hey, there's Brian, whom I must've wowed, because I didn't make his list and Kuff -- but he sucks, and Anna, who doesn't suck whatsoever, and over there standing on the rickety bar stool yelling is Vince. He appears to be having the proverbial good time by all. Everyone. Everybody's good time is also being had by Vince.

And hey! I see Muses and Ladies in Pink (no wait, that's not her after all, and it's not Alison Bell either, who was smashing -- particularly her curly coiffure) and some of the fellows from Burnt Orange. Last night I ran into Trey, who had to remind me he wasn't his sister (and then reminded everyone that he sometimes IS a little bitch).

The DU crowd numbered twenty-plus and took over the back of the Flying Saucer. I was stuck mostly up front, playing spotter to Barbara, who jumped up on the sofa arm to say a few words. Picture me catching the next Senator from the Great State falling into my arms as she tumbled backward. It didn't happen, and I wasn't hoping it would, but it would have made a great picture ...

Then Mrs. Diddie and I wrapped the evening at Crystal Ballroom 'C', where J- Lee and J. Goodwille (he's third from the top) and the rest of the exceptionally hip were jammin'.

I have only a small headache.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Fort Worth Hilton

... which serves as the Texas Democratic Party's convention hotel (and where I am writing this) was formerly the Hotel Texas, the place where President John F. Kennedy and the First Lady slept the night of November 21st, 1963. The next morning, after a speech in the hotel's ballroom and a press conference directly in front of the hotel, the president's motorcade departed for a short flight to Love Field in Dallas, taking with it the final moments of a more innocent America.

In the side foyer of the hotel is a photographic recollection of this bit of history. More on the convention events later.

P.S. : I have a first-edition copy of An Inconvenient Truth, signed by the book's author Al Gore, donated to our statewide candidates as a silent auction item. If you're reading this and attending the convention, come by and place a bid on it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

RIP, Mary Kay Merriman

Mary Kay Merriman, Democratic activist, League of Women Voters member, and wife of Progressive Populist Caucus chair emeritus Stan Merriman, passed away suddenly yesterday.

David Van Os posted these remarks:

The fact that we are going to have a wide open, democratic election for state party chair is in large part a result of Stan Merriman's labors over the past 4 years to re-democratize the Texas Democratic Party. The fact that the Progressive Populist Caucus meeting is going to draw huge interest and will have heavy impact is a direct result of Stan's labors over the past 4 years in building the Caucus. The fact that the State Party Platform of 2004 was one of the most progressive in the history of the Texas Democratic Party is a direct result of Stan's labors. The fact that the 2006 platform will no doubt continue the same spirit is likewise a result of Stan's work. The fact that the face of the Texas Democratic Party in Convention this week will reflect a much more grassroots oriented party than it did 4 years ago is likewise a direct result of Stan's ceaseless labors, much of which are unknown to most but are undeniable to those who know.

Stan Merriman has been one of the most committed progressives that I have ever known. My family's thoughts and prayers go to him now at a time of incalculable loss.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Texas property insurers want another big raise

My friend John Cobarruvias, the blog-prietor of Bay Area Houston and president of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, submitted this editorial on State Farm's homeowners insurance rate increase:

It is beyond belief that the State Farm Mutual Insurance company has filed with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to raise homeowner's rates as much as 39% across the state. This request will be the first challenge for the new TDI Commissioner Mike Geeslin and the leadership of Texas, and they need to stand up for the consumers and show State Farm the door.

In 2002 Texas had the highest homeowner's insurance rates in the nation. After the massive insurance reforms proposed during the 2003 legislative session, rates are now twice the national average and Texas again has among the highest rates in the nation, second only to Louisiana. If that isn't bad enough, deductibles are much higher and coverage such as foundation, water, sewer and mold is now optional, at an additional cost.

The promised reforms of the 2003 session were a complete and total failure of the leadership of the state. Then- insurance commissioner Jose Montemayor -- now CEO of an insurance investment outfit -- caved in to every request of the industry. After conducting hearings on toxic mold, he removed mold coverage without any reduction in rates or any worthwhile measures to prevent the cause of mold contamination. He allowed the use of credit scoring, giving the industry the right to increase rates based upon an owner's credit history. And he authorized the use of HO-A policies, which made foundation, water, and sewer damage insurable only as additional expensive policy riders. And yet not one single penny of rate reduction was realized by homeowners.

The Texas Legislature, led by Governor Rick Perry, wasn't much help either. They failed to protect homeowners by passing business-friendly legislation that provided absolutely no rate relief for consumers. The Texas Attorney General at the time, John Cornyn, filed lawsuits against the insurance companies questioning changes in their rates, but the suits were frivolous because Cornyn never intended to -- and never did -- follow through on the charges filed against the insurance industry. The present Attorney General, Greg Abbott, has also done nothing to defend Texas consumers.

The insurance industry, the TDI, the attorney general's office, and the state legislature has provided a steady stream of excuses to homeowners while rates have doubled and tripled and coverage has been slashed. And now State Farm wants to raise rates as much as 39%.

It is clear the current Texas political leadership has absolutely no interest in protecting consumers. The property tax relief passed in the recent special session will be offset by the out-of-control increases in property insurance, all while the insurers have enjoyed record profits. And the insurance industry has now found another excuse, "reinsurance"; the insurance purchased by insurance companies to protect themselves. Never over the last 4 years has reinsurance been used by Texas insurers. This is a sure sign that in the face of windfall profits, the industry is grasping for excuses to justify additional rate increases.

As in 2002, and as if on cue, insurance companies will file excessive rate increases right before the 2006 elections. Our elected officials will again have a chance to file frivolous lawsuits and make empty promises on the campaign trail, giving lip service to 'lower rates'.

Governor Perry, Attorney General Abbott, and Insurance Commissioner Geeslin should stand up for the consumers and show State Farm the door, or the voters in Texas should show them the door in November.

John will be hosting a consumer caucus on the Texas Residential Construction Commission -- what Chris Bell called "a case study in corruption" -- next Saturday at the Texas Democratic Party Convention in Fort Worth.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Texas GOP's Festival of Hate

The anger and hatred spewing out of the mouths of the Texas Republicans, gathered in San Antonio this weekend for their biannual state convention, once again manages to reach astounding proportions.

Just when we thought we couldn't be appalled any more ...

Party chair Tina Benkiser kicked off the convention by telling delegates that immigrants should learn English and embrace American values and that "amnesty" for illegal immigrants "is simply another word for surrender."

Houston Chronicle

"Unfortunately, that (undocumented immigration) has given way to multi-culturalism and hyphenated Americans and people whose loyalty is to a different flag," (Benkiser) said.

San Antonio Express

(Gov. Rick) Perry's director of homeland security, Steve McCraw, described the influx of illegal immigrants as a "tsunami" that could include "an army of jihadists."

More from some of the GOP delegates, concerned about the rage:

"I don't like the rhetoric," said Reggie Gonzales, of Houston, state chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. "Being a proud American of Mexican descent, I don't like the overtones."

"I was a strong supporter of Perry until this last (legislative) session. I felt like he stabbed conservatives in the back," (delegate Andy) Pittman said. "I don't think he realizes right now that he's got the grass-roots upset."

Previous three quotations from here. I salute Rick Perry and the Texas Republicans for their cluelessness in continuing to pave the way for their vainglorious defeat in November.

As we move toward the Texas Democratic Party convention weekend in Fort Worth on June 8-10, posting here will be even lighter than usual. In my capacity as statewide coordinator for the Van Os campaign and in addition to serving as a delegate and being requested to run for the platform committee from my Senate district (a post I'm likely to decline based on my workload as political hack/blogmeister), I'll probably have some live-blogging from the floor and the various caucii, as well as some of the social/political events.

Our biggest news ought to be a rather interesting contest shaping up for state party Chair between Boyd Richie, Glen Maxey, Charlie Urbina-Jones and Lakesha Rogers. I can promise you that we'll be much more positive and upbeat than our counterparts in spite of the current Republican-induced state of our state.

Update (6/6/06): I've been wanting to type 666 for about a week now ... Vince Leibowitz applies more smackdown, as does Stace Medellin and John Coby and Trey McBlogger . And John Cornyn's Box Turtle at In the Pink Texas.