Monday, July 31, 2006

"Killing people is like squashing an ant"

A former US soldier accused of raping and murdering an Iraqi girl compared killing people in Iraq to "squashing an ant," in an interview with a reporter about a month before the attack.

Steven Green, 21, a former private with the 101st Airborne Division, is under arrest in Kentucky and could face the death penalty if convicted of the March 12 murders of the Iraqi girl and three of her relatives.

Writing in Sunday's editions of The Washington Post, Andrew Tilghman, a former correspondent for the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes, said he interviewed Green several times in February at his unit south of Baghdad.

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people," he quoted Green as saying. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be.

"I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience," Green was quoted as saying. "And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.'

"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," Green was quoted as saying. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant.

"I mean, you kill somebody and it's like, 'All right, let's go get some pizza.'"

I don't think I can support a troop like Pfc. Green, nor for that matter any of the others who commit similar atrocities. I hold them less accountable than the liars who sent them to kill, though.

And as the world burns, Our Leader greets the American Idol finalists and keeps his T-ball season going.

Do you feel safer?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

More rumor-endo

Since this blog so rarely traffics in rumor and innuendo, it's time for me to catch up with some of the latest scuttlebutt associated with our National League affiliate.

ESPN's Steve Phillips said tonight that the Rangers have offered Hank Blalock to the Astros for Brad Lidge.

They ought to take that deal. But the two teams might be discussing various trades; Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll says the Rangers have offered Brad Wilkerson and Rod Barajas for Lidge, Morgan Ensberg and Fernando Nieve, something that seems too lopsided for Texas. If the Astros took Blalock for Lidge, they could then send Ensberg to San Diego for Scott Linebrink, with either Linebrink or Chad Qualls or Dan Wheeler closing.

The Orioles and Astros have also discussed a Miguel Tejada deal that includes Roy Oswalt, according to both BP and the Baltimore Sun. Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett would complete the package and go to Baltimore.

I don't see how this makes the Astros better. Tejada is a huge offensive upgrade, but that doesn't make up for the loss of Roy O and the defensive downgrade. The Orioles may not be especially interested anyway, since they'd likely only have Oswalt through 2007. And Oswalt appears to have been taken off the table for now.

Next year the 'Stros gain many millions of dollars in the expiring contracts of Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettitte, money which they could use in pursuing free agents for 2007. I'd rather see them reload for next season rather than try to punch through something costly in order to try to capitalize on Clemens' final season (and possibly Pettitte's as well). That urgency alone suggests Tim Purpura may do something rash.

I hope he doesn't, but we'll know for sure by tomorrow's trading deadline.

The train don't come by here no more

That is, if the Republicans, led by Rick Perry, get their way. From the Houston Chronicle:

The venerable Texas State Railroad may run from here to Palestine, but it's about to get sidetracked in Austin.

The 110-year-old railroad is the most endangered of the 114 properties in the state parks system, which is going on the offensive for increased funding after more than a decade of tight budgets that have led to decaying facilities and reduced services. ...

"Best I can determine, we're either going to become a static display, or (local railroad boosters are) going to find a private operator," said Robert Crossman, the railroad's superintendent. "Nobody has come back to me and said, 'If funding greatly improves, y'all are going to continue to operate.' "Ellen Buchanan, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regional director, said she's been told her agency will not keep operating the trains even if funding increases in the next legislative session. Crossman is hopeful money can be found to keep it rolling a bit beyond the planned Dec. 31 closure, but he isn't optimistic.

Most of the parks in Texas are in shambles:

More than half the state's parks, historical sites and other preserves have considered or enacted service limitations because of money problems. They include the slowed reconstruction of Sea Rim State Park after Hurricane Rita, and the Sunday-Tuesday closure of the Varner-Hogg State Historic Site in Brazoria County.

Penny-pinching for more than a decade also has affected quality, said Walt Dabney, the state's parks director.

"We're absolutely in the ditch," Dabney said.

Dabney fondly recalls working at the Inks Lake State Park near Burnet as an intern in the late 1960s. And then there's the recent memory of a visit to the rest rooms he once cleaned.

"They are absolutely amazing. Just worn out," Dabney said. "You can see the building is literally collapsing in on itself."

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

(Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris) Bell said that the railroad is just one of the state parks suffering to the brink of closure. Texas ranks 49th in state park funding, and per capita, Texans spend $1.20 on state parks annually, compared to the national average of $7.50.

Money problems have been mounting at state parks for years, forcing Texas Parks and Wildlife to cut park hours and staff and limit maintenance.

Bell said that the Battleship Texas is held together with "tape and Silly Putty," and that the elevator at the San Jacinto Monument no longer goes all the way to the top.

"Seriously, sometimes the punch line writes itself," he said.

More at the links.

Somervell County Salon has more of the Democratic candidates' whistlestop in Palestine yesterday, including photos, and will have video of the speakers posted later now; click here.

If you want to save our state parks, then you have no business voting for any Republican.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rick Perry's A.S.S.

Of course, some of his biggest supporters are huge asses, but this news isn't about them:

A bunch of Texans upset with the governor's support for a new business tax acted on their frustration by giving him campaign checks for 2 cents earlier this summer. Some sent in checks for 3 or 5 cents and a few mailed 1-cent checks.

The Perry campaign coded them as "ASS 06."

Political campaigns routinely code contribution checks to keep track of which event or mailing inspired them. Because the unsolicited protest checks were not tied to any specific event, "they were coded as 'A Small Supporter,' " Perry campaign spokesman Robert Black said Friday.

"In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best choice for an abbreviation," Black said.

Has any governor ever been deserving of greater ridicule than this one?

I say we kick Governor Good-MoFo'n-Hair out on his A.S.S in November. You conservatives have two other former Republicans on the ballot to vote for, so get to work and git 'er done, please.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Over 1500 Texans at a TTC meeting

... in Temple this week, and a grand total of eleven of those present were brave enough to raise their hands in favor of Rick Perry's massive toll road. Yet there are those on the right of Blogistan who don't yet know where they stand on the issue.

Displays of political tone-deafness such as this please me greatly.

Somervell County Salon has links to the video of some of the speakers, including Mary Beth Harrell, who is challenging "Exxon John" Carter in CD-31. Carter not long ago visited Iraq and posed for a photo shaking hands with Harrell's son, a soldier there, without knowing who it was. Carter was also in the news more recently, you may recall, for his opposition to extending the Voting Rights Act because, and I quote the Congressman directly here ...

“I don’t think we have racial bias in Texas any more.”

These are what wedge issues for Democrats look like (but don't tell the Republicans).

My ActBlue page is live, and some linkapalooza

Bad and statewide, to paraphrase a little ol' band from Texas. Kindly give a few clicks, and a few bucks to those with whom you agree are worthy.

On a related fundraising note, my man David is trying to raise $30,000 in thirty days, with an August 15 deadline. That's about how much he raised in the entire last reporting period. No Texas Democrat has been a greater inspiration to others. Please show him a little love.

There will be a debate among the candidates for Texas Governor on Thursday October 5, televised live and all over Deep-In-The-Hearta, in Spanish and English. (Take that, you anti-immigrant assbites.) Incumbent Mofo hasn't committed to attending yet. Yes, I'm sure he'd rather be clipping his toenails or even sharing something plastic with Geoffrey Connor, but he won't dare not show up.

Finally, Judge Susan Criss posted at Grits for Breakfast -- ahead of the Yates verdict -- about the failure of of our state to adequately fund programs that might prevent a similar tragedy:

What frightens me the most is knowing how many other severely mentally ill persons there are in Texas who are not getting treatment. The Texas legislature has consistently cut funding to MHMR resulting in eliminating treatment options for thousands of mentally ill Texans. There are countless other tragedies of the magnitude of this case that could be prevented but will not be.

That's what I think of every time I make the mistake of clicking on this shit. This guy's just about to lose his last marble. One more week of run-of-the-mill frustrations, a few slightly larger upsets, maybe a cat dying or something, and he's going to start shooting people.

Get some real professional help, pal.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The two new Democratic primaries are great news for one 2008 candidate

Actually Nevada is a caucus like Iowa and South Carolina is a primary, as is New Hampshire, but it's still excellent news for John Edwards:

They've got to be celebrating over at Edwards' HQ, because this map is designed to give him a huge boost.

Caucuses, unlike primaries, really are exercises in organization. Witness Kerry's victory in Iowa in 2004. And Nevada is a serious labor state. In fact, labor is essentially the organizing arm of the Nevada Democratic Party, especially UNITE-HERE's Local 226 of the Culinary Union. It's 60,000 strong, and firmly behind John Edward's candidacy.

The serious competition in Nevada will come from Richardson, who pushed hard for a southwestern state that wasn't NM to help his bid. People underestimate Richardson at their peril, and he has huge appeal in a Latino community that is growing like wildfire in Nevada. Can he build an organization to rival Edwards' allies at Local 226? Who knows, but let's hope he makes huge progress. Activating the state's Latino voters, in addition to a motivated an invigorated labor operation could mean trouble for Republicans in Purple Nevada.

Edwards pulled off his surprise 2nd place finish in Iowa in 2004, and he and his organization never left the state. It wouldn't be far fetched to see Edwards 2-0 going into NH. (Though Iowa will be fiercely contested by everyone -- Feingold is local to the region, Hillary has money and organization, Warner will want to make the early splash, Kerry will try to replicate his 2004 success, etc.)

Next is NH, with Kerry, Hillary, and Feingold fighting for supremacy. Edwards makes the required cursory efforts, but instead focuses on South Carolina, which is close to being home-field advantage. And for all Edwards knows, NH may follow suit as in 2004 and rubber-stamp the Iowa decision. The media boost for the winner of Iowa will be HUGE, with the media essentially coronating the winner. It's the problem with the 24-7 media environment.

Who is perceived as the loser in this reconfigured primary/caucus schedule?

Hillary, whose point person at the DNC, Harold Ickes, fought scheduling SC because it would give Edwards too big of a boost. She seems squeezed in this calendar.

There is another possibility -- that everyone except for Edwards and Richardson ignores Nevada to focus on New Hampshire. The political press, which is East Coast-based, won't want to travel to Nevada when New Hampshire, and its wealth of candidates, is just a short flight away.

My take is that HRC would concentrate on a win in NH, though she's got the dough to do everything at once. Where do Clark and Warner, other moderate Southerners, focus their efforts? It might be too late if they pick SC to do so.

Yeah, yeah, it's still too early to speculate, and I prefer to think of the Gregorian calendar as suspended, at least until we get some Democrats elected in about 100 days.

Not guilty, thank God.

Andrea Yates will likely spend the rest of her life in the state facility at Rusk.

Some of us are relieved that the jury reached this verdict, and some are not. Dwight has aggregated the cogent and the not-so (particularly this fellow, whose blog -- nay, his entire worldview -- is so obviously full of shit that he can no longer think clearly).

Click on the Dwight's link to read an excerpt of the insanity of the two that follow, and let's hope they can get some good mental health care just like Mrs. Yates.

One other thing: if anyone should have been found guilty of murder, it should have been Rusty Yates.

"Texas parks are in dire shape, close to disaster"

Following the Texas Progress Council's press conference yesterday calling attention to the problem, the Chronic reports that Rick Perry has suddenly realized he's got a big mess on his hands. Let's turn the newspaper's attention away from the Republican governor's spin, though, and put the focus back where it belongs, on the state of our state parks:

"Texas state parks are in dire shape, close to disaster," Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, said.

Some of the state's 114 parks "are embarrassing," he said. Declining budgets from $253 million in 2004 to $197 million this fiscal year have resulted in staff cuts, reduced operating hours, deferred maintenance, old equipment and a vehicle fleet averaging 10 years old. To raise money, Parks and Wildlife officials nearly sold 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park last year until public outrage forced them to back down.

This is the real story.

Governor Adios MoFo -- together with enablers like Tom Craddick and Jerry Patterson and Greg Abbott, and the influence of bagmen like Tom DeLay, James Leininger, and "Swift Boat" Bob Perry -- has created a legislative environment where there will be no money for anything. Not for schools, not for health care, not even for state parks.

Oh wait, there will be money for toll roads.

Do Texans really want to continue being the laboratory for Grover Norquist's experiment of drowning government in the bathtub?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Why is Rick Perry selling off God's Country?

Glenn Smith of the Texas Progress Council asked this question today at a press conference in Austin.

So why is the Governor of Texas -- a man called MoFo -- selling off public lands while at the same time starving our state parks of the most basic maintenance necessary to keep them going?

From the presser:

Recently, Texas Parks & Wildlife warned that budget cutbacks ordered by Perry might require the sale or closure of 18 state parks. Also, Parks & Wildlife transferred 12,000 acres of the Black Gap Wildlife Area in Big Bend to the General Land Office so it can be sold.

This land is some of the most beautiful and important in our state. It includes Rio Grande River canyons considered among the wildest in America. A portion of the Rio Grande that runs through Black Gap has been designated a Wild and Scenic river by the federal government.

And Rick Perry’s going to sell it.

Perry’s spokesman was recently quoted saying the Parks system should consider selling even more land. Belt tightening, they call it. It’s more like strangling the future of Texas.

Watch the video:

And if this bothers you, then send the Governor and the Land Commissioner a message now, and again in November by voting for their two opponents.

Statewide candidates to travel on Texas State Railroad, discuss parks funding

Chris Bell, Maria Luisa Alvarado, David Van Os, Hank Gilbert, and VaLinda Hathcox will hold a press conference in East Texas this weekend to talk about the woeful condition of our state parks due to legislative budget cutting.

Saturday, August 29, at 12:30 pm at the Texas State Railroad train depot in Palestine. Be in Rusk to catch the train to Palestine at 10:00 am (boarding at 10:15, departure at 10:30 11 am. $17/pp roundtrip, call 903-683-2561 or toll-free 800-442-8951. It's a good number; you just have to keep dialing until someone answers. Hey, it's East Texas; no whining.)

I have been hoping that our campaigns wold hold an event like this for some time, and I plan on riding the rails while I'm there.

Care to meet me in East Texas for a train ride?

Update: The Texas State Railroad website. The Fares, Schedules, and FAQ. Note that you must pick up your reserved tickets one hour before departure, or they are released for resale.

Update II: The Democratic Party group is departing from Palestine at 10 am, with a halfway out-and-back trip. According to Kathy at the toll-free number above, climate-controlled seating is not available.

Monday, July 24, 2006

David Van Os calls on Blogland

Blogland responds with overwhelming force. Overwhelming.

I don't revel in the Israeli-Palestinian comparisons, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Greg Abbott suffered a fate comparable to Hezbollah at Texas polls in November.

Figuratively speaking only, of course. No blood shed, but many tears by conservatives.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Abbott's World

The response to the Attorney General's brazen partisan plays reached a crescendo among both the traditional media and the blogosphere last week. Read these reactions:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott four months ago urged Republicans to give former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay another two years in office. Abbott on Friday urged a federal appeals court to let Republicans replace DeLay on the general election ballot.

R.G. Ratcliffe, Houston Chronicle

Equally misguided is Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's decision to intervene in the case. He has every right to file a friend of the court brief, but his stated reason shows a slight grasp of the particulars of the case.

A spokeswoman for Abbott said Sparks had declared a portion of the Texas election code unconstitutional. In fact, neither the Democratic Party that sued to keep DeLay on the ballot nor the judge made that argument.

The judge actually ruled that the U.S. Constitution sets eligibility for congressional candidates and that a candidate's residency can be determined only on Election Day. GOP officials had declared DeLay ineligible after he won the party primary but moved his official residence to Virginia. DeLay and his wife continue to maintain their house in Sugar Land.

For the Texas attorney general to use the resources of the state to help his party win a favorable court judgment would be an intolerable conflict of interest. If Abbott does file a brief, it should recognize that Texas law prevents parties from replacing unpopular primary winners such as DeLay with stronger candidates — exactly what the state GOP is trying to do.

Houson Chronicle editorial

Yesterday's story that Attorney General Greg Abbott would file a amicus brief in an effort to have the Fifth Circuit reverse Judge Sam Sparks ruling that Tom DeLay could not be replaced on the ballot ignited quite a bit of conversation, especially among outraged Democrats. They argue that the AG's participation is improper because Sparks' decision did not find Texas law unconstitutional -- the predicate for an Attorney General's intervention.

As part of the trial, Secretary of State Roger Williams' office submitted an amicus letter to the federal district court outlining the time line and mandatory election deadlines that were in play. At the conclusion of the letter, SOS General Counsel James Trainor wrote, "As noted above, the Secretary of State does not currently take a position as to how the court rules on the merits of the case before it."

However, today Williams' spokesman Scott Haywood said that Sparks' ruling had the effect of declaring some part of the statute unconstitutional. Although he had not yet seen the amicus brief, he said the intent of the brief was, " to insure that the election code and the statute is not found as being unconstitutional."

But Democrats are insistent that nothing in Sparks' ruling undermines the statute and argue that something else is at play. The ruling simply enjoins Republican Party of Texas chairman Tina Benkiser from declaring DeLay ineligible and prevents the Secretary of State from certifying any other candidate to be on the ballot.

Quorum Report (7/20/06)

The blogs were quite a bit more direct, as usual:

In what can be called the biggest pair of flip flops ever seen, Greg Abbott rolls over for Tom DeLay, first by urging voters to support DeLay in the primary, then supporting DeLay's right to quit on the voters after the primary.

Bay Area Houston

So why is Greg Abbott using his office to help the GOP avoid the mess DeLay made? Why is the AG writing that Tom DeLay should be allowed to manipulate the law and parties should be allowed to switch out an unpopular candidate in the middle of a race? Why is Abbott kow-towing to lawlessness and electoral chaos?

I bet you David Van Os could tell you why....

The View from 22

Why the state has such a vested interest in making sure DeLay can be replaced is pretty unclear. If the state wanted to make sure the people of CD-22 were represented, Governor Perry should have called on DeLay to resign earlier and set a special election. But, they didn’t take that route, and now the state is doing its best not to live with those consequences.

Capitol Annex

Under the "Republicans Have Less Shame Than a Pavement Princess" Department, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is about as worthless as cornflake recipes, filed an amicus brief in favor of -- hold on, now -- the Texas Republican Party.

There are incest laws in this State, dammit.

Juanita's - The World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon

I wonder what will convince Texans we need a new Attorney General. Greg Abbott is not a friend to Texans (to say he is weak on consumer issues is giving him too much credit), but some people will vote against their own interests. His campaign is bankrolled by his corporate cronies who have him in their pockets (the ever ubiquitous Bob Perry, for one). Some people just ignore that. His latest shenanigans make you wonder if he understands even basic legal issues, which you would think would be in the minimum job requirements for becoming attorney general of a whole state.

Muse's musings

What, indeed?

Perhaps most revealing is the criticism that comes not from the blogs or the corporate media but from The Conservative Voice:

So of course I decided to look into this Greg Abbott guy. And what do you think I found? Big Oil connections up the wazoo. It appears that Texans have been pressing for some time for Abbott to lay bare his business dealings with one John Colyandro, a central figure in the Tom DeLay-TRMPAC money-laundering scandal who also served on Greg Abbott’s campaign payroll during the same time frame in 2002. Colyandro is also the spokesman for Koch Holdings, LLC, which owns a group of companies engaged in trading, operations and investment worldwide. According to their profile, these companies “have a presence in nearly 60 countries in core industries such as trading, petroleum, energy…” In short, the company is involved, among its many other interests, in Texas crude oil production. ...

There are few things that raise as much frustration and are a threat to our national economy, as well as personal and business finances, as escalating gasoline prices. It’s bad enough when Big Oil itself engages in practices deserving of prosecution under RICO (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), but it’s even more heinous when Americans like Greg Abbott - who are beholden to uphold the law - conspire to quash commerce and industry’s efforts to give Americans respite from this national economic crisis.

David Van Os could not have said it any better than that. Well, maybe a little bit better...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Take a close look at this picture

It was taken last week during the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Look at Bush, and look at Putin looking at Bush. (Click on the photo for a larger, clearer picture; Blogger slightly distorts these when they are translated.)

Now look at the beer bottle in front of Bush.

And what appears to be more beers chilling in a bucket next to the buffet table.

Look again at the two men.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Feingold, Clark, Edwards, Warner

That's the order from one to four of the top vote-getters in the Daily Kos presidential straw poll for July/August.

Over 12,000 respondents, with "Other" and "No Freakin' Clue" continuing to out-poll Senator Clinton along with her fellow DLC-ers. The netroots no likey them.

My personal preference remains General Clark, but the man whose name I hear mentioned most often offline is John Edwards. Senator Feingold is slated to speak to Houston Democrats at the annual Johnson-Rayburn Dinner in September.

Not just Iowa and New Hampshire any more

This is a hell of a good idea:

Democrats are on track to jumble the states in the presidential primary calendar in response to growing criticism that the same predominantly white states hold many of the cards in early voting. And not even complaints from a former president and a half-dozen White House hopefuls can stop them.

Iowa would still go first in the new calendar, but a Western state -- possibly Nevada or Arizona -- would be wedged in before the New Hampshire primary. A Southern state -- possibly Alabama or South Carolina -- would follow New Hampshire.

The national Democrats' rules and bylaws committee expects to vote on the proposal this weekend.

Critical Democratic constituencies such as blacks and Hispanics have clamored for a major role in early primary voting, arguing that Iowa and New Hampshire are hardly reflective of a diverse electorate.

Iowa's population is 95 percent white, New Hampshire's is 96.2 percent, according to the latest Census numbers.

Lots more, including the revealing demographics, at the link. This makes sense for so many reasons I can't count them all. For one: how many times have you been irritated that the candidate winning IA or NH went on to become our nominee, eliminating your personal favorite almost before he got out of the gate?

I just can't wait to see which southern and southwestern states they pick. My guess is that it will be the ones whose media costs the least, which would seem to make NM and Alabam' the favorites.

I'll update this post with the official announcement.

Update (7/22): So much for my powers of divine prophecy; it's Nevada and South Carolina, subject to final approval ...

Democrats bucked decades of tradition Saturday by moving to wedge the state of Nevada between the long-standing one-two punch of Iowa and New Hampshire in the leadoff nominating contests for president in 2008.

In an effort to provide more diversity in early voting, the Democrats' rules and bylaws committee recommended that Nevada be allowed to hold a caucus the Saturday after Iowa's leadoff caucus — likely to be held Jan. 14. The rules panel also awarded South Carolina an early primary, which would be held a week after New Hampshire's Jan. 22 primary.

The full Democratic National Committee will have to approve during its August meeting in Chicago before the changes are put in place.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Greg Abbott laid down the gauntlet"

Following the latest partisan stunt by the Office of the Attorney General, I asked Lt. Col. Bill Burkett for permission to republish his remarks here. He agreed, and they follow:

I personally believe that the recent acts of continued collusion of Greg Abbott and Tom Delay make certain that the defeat of Mr. Abbott is the FIRST priority for the Texas Democratic Party and all Texas Democrats this fall.

But this is not just a Texas issue. This is where the National Democratic Party must weigh in with "jawbone" support and also get some fund raising assistance working toward the Texas Democratic Candidate - David Van Os.

Now, it's no secret that David and I are close friends. But my feelings of this nature have always been that the most important seat to gain this fall was that of the Attorney General. Greg Abbott has always been the "enabler" for the Texas GOP and especially DeLay, Perry, Dewhurst, and Craddick. He has always been the one that gave legal approval through the power of his office for the Texas leadership to do very illegal and unethical things.

Without that wink and nod lawyer (only continuing the tradition of Alberto Gonzales during the Bush Administration) there is a major speedbump and possibly a fighting chance on specific issues within the legislature as well.

Now, if we and the National Democrats aren't willing to fight this issue after grand juries and judges have spoken, we simply have no right representing the people at all.

Bill Burkett

I'm with you, Col. Burkett. Let's get this party started.

There is no executive office imbued with more constitutional authority than the OAG. The Attorney General of Texas can do more to reverse the course of this creeping meatball of fascism than any ten Congressmen.

Help make it happen.

Texas-flavored postpourri

Catching up around here...

David Van Os and Hank Gilbert spoke at the Trans-Texas Corridor hearings in Fort Worth earlier this week. Click all the way through to the CanoFun links and watch the videos.

The toll road is going to be a wedge issue for Democrats in November. (Even Grandma gets it; you can watch her comments at the link as well.) A large majority of people attending these hearings are Republican rural and surban voters, and they are mad as hell about the land grab. They're ready to flip, red to blue, and this is the reason.

Greg Abbott is acting in his capacity as Attorney General as if he's still taking orders from Tom DeLay. Someone please tell him that the Bugman has quit, that his machine has gone kaput, and that's it's almost over for the GOP around here. On second thought, don't bother telling him anything. We'll send him a telegram on November 7.

Like the idea of paying $100 for your driver's license renewal? Looks like it's coming whether you like it or not.

And finally, the President of the United States remains in a touchy-feely mode: he "playfully slapped" my Congressman, Al Green, today. Go look at the picture.

Somebody is going to slug that idiot if he keeps this up.

Update: I forgot to mention that Judge Susan Criss is going to be guest-blogging over at Grits for Breakfast. Can't wait to read her posts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Edgar is the one on the right in this photo

Via Brad DeLong and the Washington Post, we learn from Ron Suskind's excellent new book The One Percent Doctrine that the CIA's nickname for Dick Cheney is 'Edgar.'

As in Edgar Bergen. The guy on the right:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How Bush acts doesn't matter any more.


First of all, the man has acted like a drunken frat president / cheerleader all of his life.

He's not changing. If his mother couldn't teach him any manners, if turning 60 hasn't given him any temperance, then really nothing will.

And focusing on his boorish behavior at this stage of the game simply distracts us from the mission.

And the mission is to eject as many of his enablers in Washington and Austin as possible.

In three- and- one-half months.

Because once we do that, then we can focus not on his shenanigans but on his crimes.

Eyes on the prize, people.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Smackdown of the Week: Vladimir Putin

For the following two pointed barbs leveled at Cheney and Bush, each of which could have been written for him by Jon Stewart.

Regarding recent criticism by Dick Cheney of Russia's democratic reforms:

"I think the statements of this sort by your vice president are the same as an unsuccessful hunting shot."

In a joint presser at the G-8 summit with the Moron-in-Chief, who had barely finished a remark about Iraq and democracy:

"We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly."

I never in my life thought that I would see a former head of the KGB mocking our president in public, and I would be laughing.

Congressional redistricting updates

Just go read Vince. He's got the maps, and he's got the analysis all assembled.

The one comment that I will add is that if Greg Abbott thinks he can make Lloyd Doggett disappear with his map, he's got another think coming.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I suddenly feel the need for some humor.

How about you? Thanks to the clever Bill in Portland Maine for assembling the late-night comics' comments:

"President Bush announced that the federal deficit is actually $296 billion less than originally forecast. The president credits low unemployment, high job growth, and the fact that he did the math himself."
-- Conan O'Brien

"Any online gamblers here? Well, Congress is looking in shutting that down. There's going to be a massive congressional investigation of online gambling and they're going to shut it down. And when they get done with that, they're going to look into this North Korean thing."
-- David Letterman

"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was in Afghanistan today where he promised to defeat the Taliban. Didn't we do that already? He's also sworn we will soon capture Saddam Hussein."
-- Jimmy Kimmel

"President Bush told People magazine this week that he's working on a solution for global warming. He says it will be ready in less than six months. It's called winter."
-- Jay Leno

"Of the over 100,000 wildfires that happen in the U.S. each year, not a single one would get started without the fire triangle: oxygen, heat and fuel. Fire needs all three to exist. It's like the three branches of our government: Legislative, Judicial and Executive. The fewer there are, the safer we are."
-- Stephen Colbert

"The security of the world is threatened by Kim Jong-Il, a nerdy pompadour, platform shoe wearer who looks like something you would put on the end of your child's pencil."
-- Jon Stewart

And this segment would not be complete without Bill's NYT Bestseller List of the Future ...

1. THE BIBLE, by God with The Holy Spirit. (United States Government Printing Office, free; mandatory). The Word of God, quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. With a new foreword by Jim Belushi.

2. A MILLION AND ONE LITTLE PIECES, by James Frey. (Random House, $43.95.) A memoir by the Viceroy of Iraq about his hardscrabble childhood that made him tough enough to quell the civil war in Iraq and divide it into a million and one self-governing "cantons."

3. THE DARK LITTLE BOY AND THE IPOD, by Thomas L. Friedman. (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, $47.95.) A columnist for the New York Times explains the connection between solving world conflict and a third-world boy by owning an iPod Shuffle.

6. HARRY POTTER AND THE CROSS OF NAZARETH, by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, Inc., $34.95.) A young wizard realizes sorcery is evil, accepts Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, and marries a young woman named Hermione, who wisely chose to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage.

9. MY TOP STORY---AND MY BOTTOM STORY, by James D. Guckert (Random House, $39.95.) A memoir by Jeff Gannon, the 20-year veteran anchor of the CBS Evening News.

13. HAMMER TIME!, by Tom DeLay (Putnam, $48.95.) A former House majority leader of the Republican party recounts his time in prison, his conversion to Islam, and his later success on the PGA senior tour.

... and the explanation for Senator Ted Stevens of how the Internet really works:

The Internets is a series of gerbils, one gerbil for each "user." When you "send" a "message" (or, in Stevens-speak, "an internet"), the gerbil takes it down shorthand and scurries through a series of tubes to its destination. The gerbil uploads the message to the inbox (short for "Internets Box") and then presses the velvet-covered doorbell button. The receiver---say, Senator Stevens---may then safely peruse the porn ad. (Tomorrow we'll explain "SpamGuard"-- we don't want to overwhelm him.)

Sometimes gerbils will stop to have wild gangbang gerbil sex along the way, which can result in delayed internet delivery. Twice a year the telecom companies clean the tubes by flushing them with water and a mild detergent, which also results in slight delays. But mostly the Internets operate smoothly, allowing for an uninterrupted flow of bogus information from the likes of Senator Stevens and Mike McCurry on net neutrality.

Is abortion murder? Texas AG asked for legal opinion

Here comes our right-wing battle cry for November, folks. The bold emphasis is mine:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been asked to rule whether laws passed in 2003 and 2005 could subject doctors to capital murder charges for performing late-term abortions or abortions on minors without their parents' consent.

State Affairs Chairman David Swinford, R-Amarillo, asked for the opinion, citing an analysis by a state prosecutors group that said murder prosecutions of doctors could be an "unintended consequence" of the law changes it made.

Swinford said he disagrees with the interpretation by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association because there is no evidence that the Legislature intended such a result from changes it made to the law governing doctors' conduct last year. ...

Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the prosecutors' group, believes a doctor could be charged with capital murder for performing a restricted abortion. He said, however, that he has heard of no such prosecutions.

Edmonds discovered the problem when he was looking at new criminal offenses enacted during the 2005 regular session.

"We started connecting the dots and that's where we ended up," said Edmonds.

Go read the entire thing. And get ready for battle, because Greg Abbott is just as beholden to the religious fundamentalists as he is to the corporations, and he desperately needs the Jesus Freaks and John Birchers to turn out and vote for him in order to save his job.

This BS has national implications for women's reproductive freedoms as well. Let's nip this in the bud, right quick.

Update: Charles Kuffner and Vince Leibowitz -- as always -- have more, and better. The Dallas News has a better explanation of the laws passed in 2003 and 2005. And Charles, via Vince, has background on the TCDAA's confusion over the issue.

Update II: And don't miss the new blog detailing the malaprops of our ridiculous state Attorney General, Greg Abbott = Big Hypocrite.

A Perfectly Cromulent Beer Bust

Pete the Cromulent One is hosting his third annual Beerfest this Saturday night at Rudyard's (all details at the link). If you haven't attended one of these in the past, well, it's a decidedly snark-riddled affair -- sorta like Pete's blog -- and not so much political. Also a younger crowd than we usually run with. We now know to wheel in with oxygen tanks in tow so we can keep up with the fast-talkers.

Those of you around Houston are powerfully encouraged to attend. You will get to meet the Diddies at the very least, and that could turn out to be the high point of your weekend.

If your life is truly pathetic, that is.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Which one said it?

"You did it. You know you did it. You're a big fat bald-ass liar saying you didn't. And I know you did it, too, and I'm going to tell everybody.

"But of course neither one of us will ever go to jail. Hell, we won't even lose our jobs over it. Schweet, huh?"

Second Enron figure dead

Even as Houstonians prepare for today's memorial service for Ken Lay, British media reports the death of another man implicated in the scandal that won't leave the headlines (emphasis mine):

The body of a man believed to be linked to a US probe into a financial scandal involving NatWest has been found close to his home.

Neil Coulbeck had gone missing from his home in Woodford Green, east London, on Thursday.

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said: "The man had been interviewed by the FBI. We don't know how important to the investigtion he was but FBI sources suggest he was a pivotal character in the case."

Mr Coulbeck's body was discovered in Waltham Forest, east London. He was Head of Group Treasury at the Royal Bank of Scotland and is thought to have been a possible witness in the NatWest Three case.

The discovery comes as MPs debate the controversial decision to extradite three British bankers - dubbed the NatWest Three - to the US to face charges over the scandal.

The men, who previously worked for NatWest, are accused of taking part in a multi-million pound fraud connected to the collapse of Enron.

All three - David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby - have denied any wrongdoing. They could spend up to two years in a high-security US prison awaiting trial unless they are granted bail.

The move to send them to Houston, Texas, is at the centre of a row over Britain's extradition agreement with the United States.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Perhaps Coulbeck was embarrassed over the shame brought to him by his fiduciary misdeeds and took his own life, as did J. Clifford Baxter and Charles Rice of the El Paso Corporation and James Watkins of Arthur Andersen.

There are, of course, many corporate executives who bear the tremendous weight of their crimes on their conscience.

When they get caught.

Two new planets in the Texblogosphere

Previously reported by many others, Paul Burka of Texas Monthly has come over to the Dark Side (an inside joke, referring to this column by Burka about the badness of blogs).

But my new favorite is probably going to be HouStoned, the maiden voyage to Bloglandia by the eminent snarkers at the Houston Press.

Mark Warner will help change the map in Texas, too

Dembones writes the summary so I don't have to:

Former Virginia governor Mark Warner formed the Forward Together PAC as a likely first step to mounting a Presidential campaign in 2008. While that race remains well over the horizon, Warner has already earned praise for aggressively helping Democrats across the country with this year’s campaigns.

According to The Hill, Forward Together has “raked in $8.2 million and contributed $860,500 to 108 candidates and political committees“. On March 28, Forward Together PAC wrote $5,000 checks for Chet Edwards (CD-17) and Nick Lampson (CD-22).

Over the past month, Forward Together also hosted a three-stage interactive poll on the Internet. Advertisements for the “Map Changers” contest have appeared on this blog and we have featured multiple articles. Fifty candidates were presented in round one. Five from Texas made it into the field of twenty who progressed to round two, more than any other state. That list included Mary Beth Harrell (CD-31), Barbara Ann Radnofsky (US Senate), Ted Ankrum (CD-10), Chris Bell (Governor) and John Courage (CD-21).

Courage and Bell made it into the list of 10 finalists and earned $5,000 each from Forward Together. In round three, visitors to the MapChangers site selected the winner. At stake was a fundraising visit with Mark Warner that would attract publicity and campaign contributions. The field included two Texans, the only state with more than one finalist. Fearing that a split of the Texas vote would cost the state the grand prize, Bell and Courage coordinated their campaigns. The word went out. Bell encouraged the Texroots to support John Courage in the MapChanger finals.

The strategy was effective. As the final days of voting passed, two finalists rose to the top of the standings. Bill Winter (Colorado CD-06) and Courage exchanged leads, leaving the rest of the field behind.

On the final weekend of the contest, Winter and Courage appealed directly to Warner. They requested that Warner visit both states, regardless of the MapChangers outcome. Voting continued with no official response from Warner. The netroots in Colorado and in Texas kicked into overdrive. Nationwide, more than 9,000 visited the site to register and vote.

Today, Forward Together released the results. Bill Winter was victorious. Congratulations to Winter and the entire Colorado netroots organization! It was a spirited campaign that promoted online activism and people-powered politics.

Buried in the seventeenth paragraph of the previously cited Hill article is the first authoritative response to last weekend’s appeal from Winter and Courage:

Warner will host fundraisers for the top two finalists, Bill Winter (Colo.) and John Courage (Texas).

A collective “YEEEEEE-HAW!” emerged from across the Texroots. Congratulations to everyone who voted. You did it. Thank you.

The Texas Progressive Alliance (of which Brains and Eggs is a member) led this blogswarm, and kudos to every one of us who made it a success.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Web surf's up

A few things I found clicking around that will engage your attention:

**E.O.W.C. has details on the Trans-Texas Corridor --that would be the Toll Road on 'Roids -- public hearings scheduled across the state. McBlogger will file a full report, but his preliminary flash indicates that last night's meeting in Ennis drew 350 people, and there were 700 in Gainesville. Hank Gilbert was given a standing O for his remarks by the roughly 80% Republican audience in Ennis.

**Vince at Capitol Annex has been doing the yeoman's work again, this time giving us the story on Ralph Hall's attempts to deregulate the processing of chickenshit. He's also gathered up some posts on Dr. No -- that would be Libertarian-in-Republican-clothing Ron Paul -- and the polluted water in East Texas that the Texas Railroad Commission first neglected and then obfuscated. And his best work -- including the masthead photo of LBJ and MLK -- is your action alert on the Republicans who are trying to kill the Voting Rights Act.

** Both Muse and John Coby have posted photos of the shuttle Discovery's belly tiles.

** The billboards alerting Big Oil that David Van Os is going after them are now going up; the first one can already be seen in Dallas, at the intersection of Harry Hines and Market Center Boulevards. Three more in East Texas will be visible soon. They are generating significant reaction in the blogosphere already. (Disclosure: I serve the campaign as a volunteer statewide coordinator.)

** the Texas Progressive Alliance -- a confederation of blogs throughout the state which post from the same political perspective as this one -- has an aggregator. I also use the Texas BlogWire, which appears in the column on the right, as my personal RSS feed for what's going on in Deep-In-The-Hearta.

** and Lyn recaps the week that was, most of which you already know if you've been reading along here.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Chris Bell and the blogosphere

The Houston part of the galaxy, at least. Since I have struggled with online accessibility and work-related projects since yesterday, I'm too far behind to do much more than point you to Kuffner, Muse, and Stace.

Prog Tex live-blogged it, and in attendance also were Lyn, Matt H., Rob, and Lara Cottingham from the campaign along with Sally and Karen from Nick Lampson's campaign.

Some snips -- not directly quoted but as close as I could -- follow. (If there are errors in the transcription, in either numbers or the interpretation, they are mine.) Regarding Kinky and Gra- err, Carole:

"Kinky's negatives by all measures are extraordinarily high; on the order of 70% or so. Somebody is going to break out of that second-place pack (in the polling) and it's either going to be me or her."

Fundraising "has gotten a lot easier" lately. About $1.2 million will be reported in the quarter just ended, and about $2 million overall.

On immigration: "Why do their issues have to be our issues? (Talking about) building a wall is simply absurd."

How do we address/counter the undercurrent of defeatism among Democrats, liberals and other of our would-be support group? "Win. Winning salves many wounds. A 'Democrats-can't-win' attitude is simply the latest negative reaction for us to overcome. I have overcome the fundraising concerns, I am overcoming the no-name-recognition issue, and I will overcome this."

Bell is confident, assured, has a great sense of humor, is traveling extensively throughout the state and working hard without appearing to be frantic or even tired. He really seems to have the blog-relations thing down pat, also.

Update (7/11): Eye on Williamson County fleshes out the points on immigration, name-recognition, and "Kinky-gets-votes-from -Republicans".

"Kinky", but not "Grandma"

Hotline has it:

Kinky Friedman gets to keep the raunchy nickname of his on the Texas gubernatorial ballot.

A judge ruled that his name will appear as: Richard "Kinky" Friedman.

The other independent, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, will appear as "Carole Keeton Strayhorn." She had wanted "Grandma."

Per Harvey Kronberg: "Secretary of State Roger Williams today notified independent candidates, Richard "Kinky" Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, on his final determination of how their names will appear on the November ballot. Secretary Williams ruled that both candidates' names will appear in accordance with the election code as it pertains to the form of name on the ballot".

"Your letter does not articulate any facts that would counter my interpretation that the use of 'Grandma,' in the context of Carole Keeton Strayhorn's name appearing on the ballot, is a slogan and as such is prohibited by the Texas Election Code," Williams stated in a letter to Ms. Strayhorn's attorney Roy Minton. "In compliance with Section 52.031 of the Texas Election Code, Carole Keeton Strayhorn's name will be certified for the November 2006 General Election Ballot as Carole Keeton Strayhorn."

Alas, "slogans" mean slogans, Grandmaw.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"PDiddie and the Rev"

From the Year of the Yellow Dog last night:

(Tip o' the cap to Sandra Puente for the sitcom suggestion/ headline.)

Rev. Jackson is in town to call attention to the obnoxious behavior of a certain BP refinery in Texas City, which blows up frequently and poisons the adjoining neighborhoods and produces a significant quantity of the nation's $3.00 a gallon gasoline that working people can barely afford to buy in order to go to work.

My man David, whose billboards warning Big Oil start going up this week, has also addressed the subjects of gasoline prices and refinery pollution in Texas cities. Quite a bit of common ground exists between these two men's concerns, which the next Attorney General of Texas is uniquely qualified to address.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fort Bend County is no longer the beast's belly

Not when several dozen show up to socialize and counter-protest the "Tribute to Tom DeLay" across town ('town' in this case being the glorious incorporated suburban mecca of Sugar Land).

The next Congressman from CD-22. I understand he may have an opponent.

Mrs. Diddie and DVO. Her shirt reads: "Democrats are sexy. Whoever heard of a great piece of elephant?"

Besides visiting with some of my more esteemed blog brethren and sisteren (Kuff and progeny, Juanita, Lyn, the Muse, and even EOWC) several local candidates came out also: Sherrie Matula, whom I just wrote about yesterday, my man David of course, FB judicial stalwart Albert Hollan, FB treasurer Neeta Sane, district clerk Veronica Torres, and JP Farhan Shamsi.

That was last night; we get to do this again tonight in Houston with about 400 activists and maybe a hundred Democratic candidates from around the city, county, and state at The Year of the Yellow Dog celebration.

Don't tell the red asses, and by all means do not alert the corporate media, but we're on a roll.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Child prostitution

When her father the Giant Cockroach was forced back into the race for the 22nd Congressional District seat this week, Tom DeLay's daughter rapidly spun around in circles and then vomited:

"Tom DeLay looks forward to the correct decision being rendered by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. As a resident of Virginia, he cannot lawfully be on the ballot in November. It is unfortunate that the voters of the 22nd District of Texas are the ones who bear the brunt of Judge Sparks' ill-advised decision, but it is highly likely that it will be overturned and the voters will have a Texas 22 Republican on the ballot who will defeat Nick Lampson."

It might be enlightening now to remind ourselves of little Mrs. Ferro's recent history. She's not just a daughter bravely defending the honor *lmao* of her father.

Dani DeLay Ferro had lobbyists pour champagne on her while in the hot tub in Las Vegas in 2000. (Admittedly, they had a lot to celebrate.)

Dani DeLay Ferro has had her little snout buried in the TRMPAC trough right alongside Mommy and Daddy, right from the jump.

Dani DeLay Ferro recently had to explain away her dad's shaved beaver jokes.

It's probably past time she lost the last shreds of her tattered credibility.

And I think an entirely appropriate question to be asked of Tom DeLay, especially given his forced re-entry into a Congressional race he has withdrawn from (and will continue to litigate to do so), goes something like this:

"Is prostituting his own daughter something Jesus would have done?"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Matula, Trautman, Khan, and Cohen

Tonight's blog-call featured four of the rising Democratic stars running for the Texas Legislature in the Houston/Harris County area:

Much of this call focused on public education and specifically CSHB 1, the abominable tax cut/tax increase bill passed in the last special session.

I visited with Matula over breakfast at the TDP convention last month. She has an extraordinary grasp of the issues, in particular of course the vital need for a a thriving public school system in the state. Trautman is also experienced and knowledgeable, having previously been a principal of Tomball JHS and an assistant professor at Stephen F. Austin University.

An excerpt, courtesy of Muse via email:

What is the effect of the special session on local control by both superintendents and school boards? Both in the area of taxes/budget and in the area of policy, this HB stripped more powers away from local school boards than any piece of legislation in memory. Page after page of HB 1 says “the commissioner may adopt rules to implement this section”. Added note: 99% of all school districts have standard policy written by TASB. So….what do local school boards control? Almost nothing.

More there.

Matula and Trautman's expertise as educators, and Kahn and Cohen's business acumen serves as testament to their future success as state representatives. All four would be outstanding legislators, even if they weren't compared to the clowns sitting in office at the moment. What's more, they are indicative of the kind of Texas Democrat nominated for election up and down the ballot and across the state -- people driven to offer themselves for public service because of the distress they have felt at the current climate in the state Capitol. People who come from all walks of life -- immigrant, teacher, non-profit executive -- people who aren't lawyers, weren't selected by the party machine, who aren't indebted to lobbyists or corporate PACS for their existence.

All Texans, and especially those living in these districts simply deserve people of great distinction like these four representing them in Austin.

So we WILL have Tom DeLay to kick around some more.

Judge Sparks says so.

I commented elsewhere earlier today that having a bruised and flat-broke Cockroach on the ballot after all is a best-case scenario for Nick Lampson.

Appeals and certainly a potential reversal of fortune could still occur -- and my favored outcome remains Bible Bob displacing Hot Tub Tom on the November ballot -- but today's end result is a GOP in CD-22 in chaos.

How unfortunate. *roflmao*

Making a killing

In weird news:

Mario Williams, the Houston Texans' much-debated No. 1 draft pick, has purchased a home with its own share of controversy.

The newly rich National Football League rookie bought the spacious, Mediterranean-style house from ousted Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade for about $1.5 million, according to records filed last week.

Clcik on the names above for some backstory if you haven't been following either person's latest travails.

I once knew a couple when we lived in Midland during the Eighties who had bought a very nice home from someone who had recently been prosecuted as the neighborhood child molester. His name -- by the children whom he had invited to swim in his backyard pool -- was "Tickle Man".

Now it appears as if Williams got a $300,000 discount on his new home, and though I never got them to talk much about it, I'm sure my west Texas friends got an even better deal on theirs (not quite as expensive an abode, but the discount in terms of percentages was huuuuuge).

There's a point here...

At what point does this sort of thing traverse the boundary from predatory purchasing to just plain old creepiness? Does the line get crossed with the two situations I related? Certainly I understand that a significant enough price reduction can overcome nearly any queasiness, but still ...

If a real estate bargain is your primary --- indeed, your solitary interest, then be advised: there's a nice little high-rise condo going on the market in River Oaks very soon that you might want to look into. A recent assessment put it at $6.5 mil, down from $7.9 in 2002, by all appearances.

Its celebrity markup has recently been mitigated. Somewhat.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

God didn't want to wait until Oct. 23

And apparently wasn't going to be happy with Kenny Boy spending the rest of his life behind bars. Though Judge Sim Lake is well-known for conducting the business in his courtroom quickly, nothing beats Divine Retribution.

Perhaps Pat Robertson will inform us in the next few days if God told him that Ken Lay died for his many sins against man. That would be one of the only things I would take His (not Pat's) word for.

Indoctrinating the children

The foul stench of conservative fundamentalism is now going to be force-fed to Texas schoolchildren, thanks to the packing of the state school board by the Talibaptists:

The State Board of Education, an elected body with a history of fierce ideological debates about textbook content, now wants to put its stamp on the curriculum that guides the instruction of 4.4 million Texas schoolchildren.

At its meeting Thursday, the 15-member board is expected to scrap a curriculum revision process dominated by teachers and the Texas Education Agency and discuss a new timetable for revising the English reading and writing standards.

Many on the board want to replace a student-centered curriculum that calls on students to use their own attitudes and ethics to interpret texts with teacher-centered instruction that emphasizes the basics of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

It was a fight social conservatives on the board lost in 1997, when moderates and liberals adopted the curriculum for all subjects. Now, with social conservatives expected to have a majority on the board for the first time after the November elections, the plan to rewrite the English standards is viewed by some as the opening shot in an effort to put a conservative imprint on the state's curriculum.

"This is really going to be the big battle in public education over the next few years — what is it our students are going to learn," said Dan Quinn, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a group that monitors the state board for influence by the religious right. "We could see a lot of textbooks that are based on personal and political beliefs of a majority of the state board rather than on facts that students need to learn."

And as Stephen Colbert has pointed out, the facts have a well-known liberal bias.

There's a lot more to the article linked above, much of the rest presented as mitigating the dangers of allowing the John Birch Society to write public school curricula, but the truth is this process has been well under way for over a decade.

The Republicans will continue to claim, as they did when they gerrymandered Congressional districts into the shape of fajita strips to ensure a GOP takeover, that this is 'the will of the people' -- or at least of those in Texas who can be bothered to vote.

I think there is a different will of the people, ready and impatiently waiting to be expressed at the polls, that may change their thinking.

Or not...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We know a million bucks ain't enough

How much is? How much money would it take for the current Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott, to say: "My moral values preclude me from making a ruling in this case":

One thing you have to like about Texas politicians is their resistance to embarrassment.

Take the case of Attorney General Greg Abbott. Last Dec. 15 he received $100,000 in campaign contributions from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and his wife. The next day, he received a letter from Rep. David Swinford of Dumas, chairman of the House Committee on State Affairs.

Swinford wanted Abbott to issue a formal opinion on whether Grandma, a.k.a. state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, had the authority to conduct a review of the performance of the newly created and controversial Texas Residential Construction Commission.


But the notion that the attorney general can take $100,000 from someone with a direct interest in his ruling is outrageous. And it's actually worse. Since 2001, Abbott has received $1.1 million from Mr. and Mrs. Perry.

Memo to Rep. Swinford: Don't bother asking the attorney general for an opinion on that. I phoned and e-mailed his press office Friday to discuss the issue but received no response.

Since the Attorney General and his staff likely started their holiday weekend early last Friday and couldn't get back to Casey with a response, we'll just have to answer for him:

"There IS no limit, according to my well-documented Christian principles. There is NO MAXIMUM amount of money I will accept that would prevent me from passing legal judgment in favor of my largest campaign contributors.

"After all, billion-dollar corporations are people, too."

Update: John Cobarruvias of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings is personally offended. And muse adds more.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A pause in the political action

... to once more tip the cap to the Astros' one certain Hall-of-Famer, who has the Babe in his rearview mirror after yesterday:

Only big names remain. Craig Biggio passed Babe Ruth for 37th on the all-time hit list Sunday with his 2,874th. Next is Mel Ott, a Hall of Famer, and after that Frankie Frisch, a Hall of Famer, too, and following him a list of luminaries leading up to one of the few numbers in baseball with any gravitas.

Health permitting, Biggio, a spindly kid from Long Island whose uniform has seen more dirt than Pigpen, will reach 3,000 hits early next season. He is, remember, 40 years old, and though he has not taken to pounding prune juice, his days no longer resemble June 29, 1988, the one on which Biggio singled off Orel Hershiser, in the midst of a Cy Young season, for his first big-league hit.

"Now," Biggio said, "you wake up and you go to the bathroom more – and you hurt more when you walk to the bathroom."

Brother Biggio, I can relate to that last part. I hope you keep pounding 'em out all the way to Cooperstown.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"If our enemies know what we're doing, why can't we?"

The buzz about the New York Times revealing the Bush administration's spying on financial transactions reached entirely new levels of preposterousness in the week since the story was published.

Glenn Greenwald discloses the many conservatives who have gone beyond being offended to summoning Nazi-style thuggery against the people who wrote and published the story. His post reveals details that are simply appalling to everyone who values democracy. If someone gets injured as a result of these lunatics inciting violence, God help them.

But the reaction from the MSM has been more than pushback; they are hitting back -- hard.

Richard Orr, a blast from my personal past, is responsible for the headline above. He continues:

Correct me, but in all the stories I've seen and read on the Times' "exposure" that the government has been dogging al-Qaida's financial network, I have yet to see one concrete example of who or what is being harmed by it.

What's more, the 9-11 commission has publicly said such surveillance is necessary to choke off the money that feeds their terrorist operations.

So if al-Qaida wasn't aware their financial transactions are being tracked, we have nothing to fear from them. They're too stupid to worry about.

What we do have to fear are the mindless calls for prosecuting the news media for informing us of what the most secretive administration in memory is doing in the apparent belief they're running a private corporation instead of a democratic republic that requires an informed electorate.

They're the same cries that went up with publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon era - the exposure of which led to the revelation that Nixon operatives had broken into a psychiatrist's office to find damaging personal information on Daniel Elsberg, the man who exposed what the administration was up to in Vietnam and elsewhere.

In Watergate, Nixon argued that the Pentagon Papers and the tapes from the Oval Office, if made public, would compromise national security when, in fact, it was national embarrassment and the fear of prosecution that really concerned them.

If our enemies know what we're doing, why can't we?

And this morning on Meet the Press, Dana Priest crushed Bill Bennett like a peanut -- with the Moral Gambler sitting right next to her. If you want to see it, McBlogger has it.

Update (7/3): Greenwald follows up. The right-wingers have disgraced temselves once again -- not that this atrocious display will stem their bile.

Chris Bell has Courage

In the Mapchangers contest (click also on the link at the top right) Bell has endorsed the man challenging Lamar Smith in CD-21, John Courage:

Now as we start the final round, there are ten candidates from across the country vying to win a fundraiser with Governor Warner. Voting runs through July 10th, and you can only vote for one candidate. It's a testament to the strength of the Texas netroots that we have two Texans into final ten, and we'll need every bit of that strength to bring Mark Warner to Texas. That's why we need to work together to make sure we do not split our votes.

I've talked with John Courage and we've decided that, in the spirit of Texas unity, and on behalf of all Democratic candidates and activists across Texas, we will ask all of our supporters to join together:

Please vote for John Courage in this contest.

Our new field director, Glen Maxey, is working with activists and campaigns all across the state to build a website at that will offer netroots organizing tools that will help Democrats win in November and beyond. If we can put John Courage over the top, he has agreed to use the first $15,000 raised at the Mark Warner fundraiser to underwrite the development of these tools and this website. These tools will help us across the state for years to come, and they will only get better as we build and improve on them.

The web site is under construction and is being developed as a open access site with lots of organizing tools for candidates and activists to use to register and turn out Democratic votes. It will be open for the use of local, state and federal candidates. It will be open for the use on any individual wanting to help the Democratic ticket or a candidate.

That's why winning this contest is bigger than John Courage or me. It's about what all Texas Democrats can accomplish if we work together. By voting for John Courage in the Map Changer contest, you will be helping all Democratic candidates in Texas.

Unity is a wonderful thing. You'll see much more of this kind of synergy among candidates and campaigns in the coming days. Oh yeah, the Texas Progressive Alliance is the official online endorser of this blogswarm.

So many Funnies this Sunday

I had to put up three editions:

Cut and Run

So much to laugh at

Not quite so funny

Happy Independence Day weekend. Try not to shoot anyone in the face.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Republicans making chicken salad

And they're using chickenshit again to make it:

Republicans yesterday looked to wrest a political victory from a legal defeat in the Supreme Court, serving notice to Democrats that they must back President Bush on how to try suspects at Guantanamo Bay or risk being branded as weak on terrorism.

In striking down the military commissions Bush sought for trials of suspected members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the high court Thursday invited Congress to establish new rules and put the issue prominently before the public four months before the midterm elections. As the White House and lawmakers weighed next steps, House GOP leaders signaled they are ready to use this week's turn of events as a political weapon.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's comment Thursday that the court decision "affirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system." That statement, Boehner said, amounted to Pelosi's advocating "special privileges for terrorists."

Similar views ricocheted around conservative talk radio -- Rush Limbaugh called Pelosi's comments "deranged" on his show Thursday -- and Republican strategists said they believed that the decision presented Bush a chance to put Democrats on the spot while uniting a Republican coalition that lately has been splintered on immigration, spending and other issues.

As usual, there's so much that's so ridiculous that's it's difficult to know where to begin, but let's start with their own words:

The right to a fair trial as guaranteed in the Constitution, described by the House Majority Leader as "special privileges for terrorists".

Rush Limbaugh calling someone -- anyone besides himself -- "deranged".

You know, it's just beyond even their standard-issue bullshit. The sad thing is that there are actually people -- some in the media -- who will swallow this. Tom Tommorrow's cartoon about the shit sandwich describes this mental deficiency perfectly.

And their supporters, who have been crying for months as the GOP's political futures have swirled the drain, can now latch onto this as a brave stand for America. 'Bold', they will say.

Fascists, I say. Xenophobic to the point of paranoia.

Of course there is some benefit to the nation in this course of action by the Republicans, and that is that they will be marginalized once more as a political party. Removed permanently to the minority, where they belong.

There are already too many of their former majority who refuse to be terrorized by them any longer.