Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or treat?

You have the power.

The incredible shrinking senior senator from Texas

Some initial observations:

--If this is what is happening to her body, imagine what's going on with her brain.

-- Do we really need another preening, fawning harridan in Washington?

-- Most Republicans running for Congress are cutting and running from Bush as fast as they can. Not in Sugar Land, though. They eat this up like a dog eating another dog's vomit.

Three suggestions:

-- Turn off your TV so you won't be subjected to any more of the GOP's incessant attempts to control the minds of the poor fools like those gathered around the people you see in the picture above.

-- Ignore the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas News and the urban daily newspapers throughout the state. They have all veered hard to the right -- through the weeds and into the ditch -- trying to get their Republican friends re-elected. Update (11/1): This is what I'm talkin' about. It's so shameless I almost feel sorry for them, except when I note their plummeting circulation figures. I'm sure they're all sitting together in their respective boardrooms wondering why.

-- Vote.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More postpourri

-- the WaPo has an excellent contest called Midterm Madness utilizing an interactive Flash graphic where you can pick the seats in the Senate and House that you think will flip -- or not -- on November 7. Make your picks and submit for a chance at an AmEx gift certificate.

-- the poor mistreated corporations of America are banding together to fight back against the enormous and unrelenting legal persecution they have endured of late. See also Tom's blog for frequent commentary on this subject, usually focusing on the "harassment" of corporate executives accused of wrongdoing.

This is just about the most miserably obnoxious commentary proffered by conservatives of late (ever since they managed to take immigration nationwide, that is).

-- CNN's 'Broken Government' has been excellent; even the hit piece by Candy "Butterqueen" Crowley on the Democrats wasn't unwatchable, but the other parts of the series were examples of good solid political reporting. And among Houston media, KPRC's political page stands head and shoulders above the Chronicle and the other two broadcast outlets. Their on-demand video and coverage of local and state races is simply the best, by far. I rarely if ever watch their news, but the online resources they have assembled blow away the competition. Yesterday they televised "Straight Talk from the Candidates", where state- and county-wide party representatives were given 2.5 minutes uninterrupted to make their case directly to the voters. (This program will re-air on November 5, and is well worth watching.) Even for a political junkie like me, there are people running for office whom I have not seen nor heard speak, and this was an opportunity to gauge that intangible , emotional response to their face and voice.

Honorable mention goes to the Chronic's opinion and politics pages, and particularly cartoonist Nick Anderson's blog, deserving of special recognition for their interactive ease. The op page regularly links to local blogs, including this one, on topics not necessarily political.

-- the Republican television advertisements here are non-stop and nausea-inducing. Greg Abbott's commercial featuring his misuse of state resources just aired again. According to the Texas Penal Code Section 39.02, the state's top law enforcement officer may have committed at least a second-degree felony.

Who exactly is responsible for arresting, charging, and prosecuting the Attorney General when he commits a crime?

-- and don't miss the double edition of Sunday Funnies: Limbaughtomy and Election Day Countdown.


-- In the "Blind-Hog-Occasionally-Finds-an-Acorn" department, the Houston Chronicle endorsed three of my very favorite people for the Texas Legislature: Chad Khan, Dr. Diane Trautman, and Dot Nelson-Turnier. Still they managed to blow it by endorsing Sherrie Matula's opponent. In fact almost all of the rest of their endorsements were, frankly, ones you should disregard.

-- The following two links are an example of the dichotomy that currently exists in my fair city. While janitors strike for $8.50 an hour and health insurance, the Tony-est restaurants in Houston are packed full of Republicans eating truffles at $300 a plate.

Seventy-dollar-a-barrel oil (even sixty, on its way up and down) and a 12,000 point Dow don't seem to have trickled down very far.

-- Early voting is way up across the state, but e-voting issues in predominantly Democratic Jefferson County remain a source of concern. Update (10/30): Dos Centavos links to this KFDM video detailing the notorious ES&S vote-switching machines, which had problems during the primary earlier this year.

-- Crime in Houston has not increased as much as conservatives would like you to believe. And it is not due to Katrina evacuees, either.

-- Karl Rove is apparently marshaling the goonbats in order to save the GOP from certain defeat. The last mystery left for this cycle -- besides, of course, whether our votes have been counted accurately or not -- is whether he will be successful. Fear just doesn't seem to be as effective a motivation this time.

-- The Saint Louis Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series, and the nation yawned. I didn't even see much gloating by Cards fans in the places I usually look.

-- The Houston Rockets could win the NBA champeenship this season. No, really.

-- Vaya con Dios, Joe Niekro and Red Auerbach.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Abbott spends taxpayer dollars on his TV ads

Which is a big fat violation of the law.

WFAA in Dallas reports, and pulls no punches.

For those of you unable to view the video, here's the summary:

Three years ago and shortly after he was elected attorney general, Greg Abbott ordered the OAG to purchase video equipment worth $66,000, and hired a videographer at a salary of $70,000 -- all at taxpayer expense -- to record, among other things, arrests of alleged child predators (the tapes show armed agents invading a home and subduing a suspect) . These videos have been seen in his recent barrage of television commercials.

They are also available for viewing at his campaign website.

Tom Smith of Public Citizen is quoted in the WFAA report saying that the law is clear in these cases, and that what the Attorney General has done is illegal. Abbott refused comment, but his campaign chairman responded with an e-mail statement indicating the videos were "obtained" through the FOI act.

David Van Os had this to say:

"I'm not surprised. It is representative of how Abbott has used his office for four years, and that is to promote himself."

I can't really add any outrage to this except to ask, "Have you had enough?"

Update: The Associated Press picks up on the story, and the Fort Worth Startle-Gram runs with it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"These frivolous affidavits"

Last Wednesday afternoon Robb Zipp and I met David and Rachel Van Os as they were completing a round of radio interviews at KPFT. Art Browning of Greenwatch decided to join us for the train trip in (since this was a Whistlestop Tour we thought it apropos to take the Metro light rail) and so we caravaned down to the Fannin South Park and Ride, met Richard Morrison and boarded the Preston Street Limited for the Old County Courthouse at 301 Franklin.

Richard and David fanned out to each end of the train and spoke to commuters all the way into downtown. At least a couple of hundred voters got to personally meet the next Attorney General of Texas and appeared thrilled at the prospect.

We met John Behrman and some of the early arrivals for the Whistlestop speech and then we all walked over to 201 Caroline and Beverly Kaufman's office so that David could file his affidavit. Robb and I were carrying so much gear that we chose not to run the gauntlet of security at the courthouse, including the airport-style metal detector and baggage screening.

Well, we missed one of the highlights of David's visit to the belly of the Texas Republican beast, because after he completed the paperwork and prepared to pay the fee, a clerk's office employee named Gregory Bousse' (this name is spelled phonetically and thus may not be accurate) indicated that the clerk would not be filing his affidavit, and further added the following editorial comment: "You people come around here every two years and file these frivolous affidavits ..." When David demanded to see the clerk, he was told she was not in the department, and a supervisory person named Ms. Contreras greeted him with the same caustic contempt. When he asked to speak to the person who had made the decision not to enter his affidavit into the public records of the county, Ms. Contreras indicated that it had been the county attorney who had done so. That of course was a lie, as the county attorney could not have been consulted on such a decision given the time frame, and in any event was not present to meet with David either.

So while 253 Texas counties will have these words on file as a public record, Harris County has chosen to deny them. How impressive is that?

About sixty supporters from Houston, Galveston, Wharton and even Angelina counties greeted David back at the old courthouse, and among the dignitaries were Judge Bill Moody and family, Melissa Taylor of the HCDP, and CD-02 challenger Gary Binderim and Stace Medellin. The humidity that day was stifling -- this must have been what kept the Chronicle away -- so we quickly adjourned to Chatters in the Heights and met about a hundred or so supporters, including Gerry Birnberg and Hank Gilbert and Jim Sharp and Mary Kay Green and Bill Connolly and Mark McDavid. As the evening grew late much of the group adjourned to one of the other fundraisers (James Pierre, Scott Hochberg, and Richard Garcia all had events going on).

I personally collapsed from exhaustion.

Robb and Stace have their accounts up with pictures, which you may have already read, since I'm a week late in posting this.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Images from 254 Counties

I still owe a posting on Harris last Wednesday, but Snarko (David's webmistress) has been busy with the slideshows you see above and below, so I will let those do for now and deliver the tardy post later still.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A rapid update

... as I prepare to leave for a long business day in Beaumont:

-- pictures from the 252nd Courthouse Whistlestop are waiting in the inbox. A full report, including the details of the affidavit's rejection by the Harris County clerk's office will appear in this space tomorrow. Simply too much offline to do after taking Wednesday afternoon off.

-- my friend John Behrman, who has an excellent blog (that I wish he would update more frequently), is quoted in today's Chronic regarding his oversight of the voting technology we will use locally in the coming elections.

John was also on the scene at Beverly Kaufman's office, and when I commented that it was modern-day fascism running not only our country but also the county government, he was quick to point out that the fascists had better fashion sense than these people. I nearly passed out from laughing so hard.

-- a merciless whipping by Barbara Radnofsky of the senior Senator from Texas (and by 'senior' I mean 'dotty') last night. About eighty of us gathered in Bellaire to watch it live. Even the Libertarian made sense more often than Kay Bailey. She actually said "cut and run" six times. I believe Karl Rove must have been her personal debate coach.

-- Denny Hastert takes credit on behalf of the GOP for lower gasoline prices. Heckuva job as always, Mr. Nearly-Former Speaker.

That's all I have time for today. More coming over the weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Austin Chronicle:"Strongly spined"

Now this is how a candidate gets endorsed:

The race for attorney general's office hasn't garnered one-umpteenth the attention of the tragi-comic governor's draw, despite the Texas-sized personality fighting for the public interest. With an omnipresent Stetson and bolo tie, Van Os is a striking figure, even before he opens his mouth. A specialist in constitutional and labor law, Van Os has targeted Texas oil barons and insurance and pharmaceutical giants, in his populist, anti-corporate, whistlestop campaign. The implicit contrast is that incumbent Greg Abbott has let such corporate wrongdoers run roughshod over the state – as indeed he has. Despite several splashy "cyber crime" initiatives (remember getting tough on MySpace?), Abbott has done little to make Texans safer, especially from the pollutant-spewing, scofflaw conglomerations drawing Van Os' ire. Abbott has also been a complicit servant to Tom Delay and Gov. Perry in the disastrous redistricting saga, never hesitant to defend another gerrymandered map on behalf of his bosses. Partisanship and hoary headline-hogging have defined Abbott's tenure, and we'd be happy to see him go; we're even happier his challenger is as strongly spined as David Van Os.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Surely it's just a coincidence

Once again from the Houston Chronicle, unintended irony.

This story:

Information on builders getting tough to nail down

Used to be, diligent consumers would check out complaints against builders at the attorney general's office, look for major lawsuits at the courthouse, and investigate credentials.

But now that's getting harder to do because the Texas Attorney General's Office stopped processing all consumer complaints three years ago, and there are fewer homeowner lawsuits at the courthouse because of binding arbitration clauses in contracts.

And, a new state-mandated credential — a registration with the Texas Residential Construction Commission — doesn't carry as much weight as some consumers may think, consumer advocates say.

And this story:

Builder's $8 million tops GOP donor list

Which -- despite the misdirection in the Chronicle's reporting suggesting that he isn't involved in Texas races -- reminds us that Bob Perry has contributed over a million dollars each to both Greg Abbott and Rick Perry, the two fellows who have been slightly involved regarding the creation and oversight of the Texas Residential Construction Commission, a payola sham if ever there was one.

Johncoby has written extensively about the TRCC (pronounced "trick").

Had enough of this kind of government?

Statewide elections finally get some reportage

The election for Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas broke into the MSM this past week with this Chronic posting. I've excerpted most of it following, since this contest has gotten nearly no attention:

The Texas Land Commissioner race between Republican Jerry Patterson and Democrat VaLinda Hathcox could hinge on who voters think can squeeze the most money out of 20 million acres of public lands.

The answer directly affects taxpayers and Texas schoolchildren because the millions in revenues generated by the General Land Office help fund public education.

For nearly a century, the land office has generated $9 billion for public education by funneling oil and gas royalties from state lands into the Permanent School Fund. The school fund, through stock investments, now holds $22 billion. Last year the land office generated another $500 million for the fund.

"That's been a tremendous benefit for Texas schoolchildren. However, oil and gas production peaked 20-something years ago," said Patterson, the incumbent seeking another four years in office. His No. 1 goal is to boost money for the Permanent School Fund by investing oil and gas royalties into lucrative real estate deals and by developing wind energy.

"Diversify, diversify, diversify," he said. "That's part of what we've done in the first four years. We're going to ramp it up substantially."

During the first five years of the diversification program, the land office generated more than $1.3 billion from oil and gas revenues, of which $566 million went directly into the school fund, according to the land office. Of the remainder, the land office invested $500 million directly in real estate and another $250 million into real estate investment funds.

"We're investing in income-producing real estate," Patterson said, explaining the idea is to leverage petroleum royalties long before the oil and gas spigots run dry. "You have to look at the Permanent School Fund as a trust fund for education. We were far behind the time in getting into real estate investments," he added.

Hathcox, of Sulfur Springs, said she decided to run for land commissioner because the state said it had no money for new textbooks even as the price of oil soared to $70 per barrel.

"When (the late Bob) Bullock was comptroller, every time the price of oil would go up you would hear what that meant for children in the state," she said. "You never hear that anymore."

She said that when the price of oil plunged to $17 a barrel in the early 1980s, the land office was still collecting $300 million in royalties for the school fund.

With oil prices more recently at $60 to $70 per barrel, the state collected only $500 million in royalties.

"I don't think we are getting the proper amount of money on our oil and gas leases," she said. Hathcox said she'd direct the land office's audit division to aggressively scrutinize oil and gas companies "to see we're getting the proper royalties we should be."

Patterson said Hathcox is fixated on the price of oil while ignoring two decades of production declines. Hathcox disagrees with the direction of the land office that began under Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and has been embraced by Patterson.

"This is a trust," she said. "I'm a trustee for all Texans. I do feel it's being operated more like a private real estate company where they're selling things for a quick buck and not looking at things for the long haul."

You don't suppose Patterson has managed the lease royalties to the favor of Big Oil and the detriment of public education and our children, do you?

Jerry Patterson has been one of Dubya's Good Ole Boys for a long time now. When Max Cleland, the former Georgia senator and Vietnam vet/quadriplegic, rolled out to Bush's ranch in August of 2004 to talk to the president about the baseless attacks on John Kerry's war record by the Swift Boat Liars, it was Patterson whom Bush dispatched to meet him.

(Of course, since George W Bush is too afraid to meet Cindy Sheehan, I'm not surprised he's scared of Cleland, who could kick his ass with no legs and his only arm tied behind his back.)

In the electoral battle for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Republican incumbent has decided she'd better start spending some of her campaign millions on TV ads:

Republican comptroller candidate Susan Combs' Democratic opponent has no money, but Combs has bought $3.2 million of television advertising for the final three weeks of the campaign. ...

Combs' Democratic opponent, Fred Head, said he believes her advertising is either meant to help Perry by attacking Strayhorn or to "save" her own campaign from voter doubts raised by a steamy romance novel Combs once wrote. ...

"She may be going to spend the $3 million on T.V. to help Perry and hurt Strayhorn, but she's not going to be able to save her own campaign," Head said. ...

"I would imagine Mrs. Combs is trying to advertise enough to avoid having her pornographic novel stick to her campaign," Head said. "She's not who she says she is, and that's what Mark Foley wanted people to believe, too."

Fred Head has been exposing corruption in state government since 1971, when as one of the "Dirty Thirty" he revealed the dealings of Texas House speaker Gus Mutscher and what came to be known as the Sharpstown Scandal. As a result of Head's efforts in the Lege in 1972, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act -- one of the most powerful consumer protection statutes ever enacted -- was signed into law. Texas also has an Open Records Act and an Open Meetings Act because of Fred Head.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram adds:

"I'm all for the First Amendment [but] this book is 180 degrees in the other direction from the Republican Party, which during their last state convention told the people of Texas that they were the party of God," Head said. "I think it's the hypocrisy -- that's what's relevant."

The two candidates for Agriculture Commissioner, Hank Gilbert and "Big Head" Todd Staples, have highlighted their differences regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor and RFID for livestock in this joint interview on News8Austin. Here's a transcript if you can't watch the video. And the Startle-Gram points out the distinctions between the two on the Texas State Railroad, which runs close to where both men grew up in East Texas.

And David Dewhurst, a man of immense wealth, has already hit the airwaves hard to defend his miserable record as Lt. Governor against the Latina towering over him, Democratic challenger Maria Luisa Alvarado.

What are these Republicans so fearful of? Besides losing, that is?

This Thursday evening, US Senator Perjury Technicality has finally deigned to debate Barbara Ann Radnofsky (it will be broadcast live on your PBS station). Don't miss it.

Oh yeah, my man David is appearing at a courthouse near you this week, and is scheduled to appear in Houston tomorrow, Wednesday afternoon the 18th of October with several Harris County Democratic candidates and office-holders, including the man walking for Texas Supreme Court, Bill Moody. Don't miss that, either.

Republican incumbent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was invited but I don't expect he will be there. More about Abbott, the Texas Residential Construction Commission -- a consumer protection organization owned lock, stock, and barrel by Bob "Swift Boat" Perry -- and the overflowing bayous of money surging in and out of these Republicans, in the post above.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Elephantiasis of the Hubris

No, that's not a picture of Speaker Hastert.

It's not even Karl Rove -- though he does have some shoes like that.

This of course is actually a person with a disfiguring ailment used as a symbol of what the Republican Party has become. And it's not their legs or even their genitalia (if the picture here makes you squeamish, then don't click here) but their egos that have swollen so hideously large that you will recoil in horror upon gazing at them.

Behold ...

David Kuo, who will be on "60 Minutes" tomorrow evening, describes how the GOP has used the religious right as a fob in his book Tempting Faith, here on Keith Olbermann recently:

ThinkProgress has posted another excerpt from the book, setting the scene just prior to Bush's 2001 inuguration:

Every other White House office was up and running. The faith-based initiative still operated out of the nearly vacant transition offices.

Three days later, a Tuesday, Karl Rove summoned (Don) Willett (a former Bush aide from Texas who initially shepharded the program) to his office to announce that the entire faith-based initiative would be rolled out the following Monday. Willett asked just how — without a director, staff, office, or plan — the president could do that. Rove looked at him, took a deep breath, and said, “I don’t know. Just get me a f—ing faith-based thing. Got it?” Willett was shown the door.

Don Willett was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court, by Governor Rick Perry, in 2005 with nearly no courtroom -- much less judicial -- experience. (His opponent, Judge William Moody, was the only Democratic statewide candidate endorsed by the Dallas Morning News.)

Got the stomach for following the thread a little further?

Rick Perry has released a television ad portraying Chris Bell as the recipient of special interest money, while at the same time accepting even larger contributions from Bob "Swift Boat" Perry and James "Death to Public Schools" Leininger, a couple of guys with no hidden agenda.

Bob Perry has also contributed over a million dollars to former Texas Supreme Court justice and current Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, whose own faith-based intiatives as well as his moral failings and ethical lapses have been well-documented.

Greg Abbott, a man who was paralyzed when a tree fell on him, who then sued to collect millions from insurance, then also succeeded in changing the laws by which he collected that money by advocating for tort reform in Texas, is a darling of the religious right in Deep-In-The-Hearta. The fundamentalists and evangelical Christians long ago joined forces with the Texas Republican Party to take over not just the legislative and judicial branches of state government but also the state board of education in order to re-write school textbooks -- performing edits such as deleting scientific theories of evolution and replacing them with creationist views. The Texas Freedom Network details how this came about; here's a summary:

• The religious right has tightened its grip on the Republican Party of Texas and now completely controls the party leadership. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between the movement and the party in leadership, political goals and tactics.

• Having spent $10 million since 1997 to help the Texas GOP take control of state government, wealthy San Antonio businessman James Leininger is now working to purge from office those Republicans who fail to support fully the religious right’s public policy agenda. In fact, with Leininger’s financial support, the religious right is on the verge of finally winning a majority of seats on the State Board of Education.

• The new model in the religious right’s political strategy relies on recruiting conservative evangelical pastors who will use their positions as church leaders to advance the movement’s policy agenda. In fact, the state’s newest far-right pressure group, the Texas Restoration Project, has been recruiting thousands of pastors to support (successfully) a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and to back conservative candidates for office, including Gov. Rick Perry.

• David Barton, vice chair of the state GOP and president of the Christian advocacy group WallBuilders, has become a key part of efforts to recruit conservative evangelicals into the Republican Party. Using questionable research, Barton appeals to Christian conservatives with the dubious argument that the separation of church and state is a myth created by activist judges.

Karl Rove, Don Willett, Rick Perry, James Leininger, Bob Perry, and Greg Abbott. Six degrees of barely any separation, and bookended by Jesus. Men who have waved the flag, carried the cross, made millions of dollars and used it to ruin other men, destroy public institutions, re-write laws to serve their means, spread lies and disinformation and done it all not in the name of God or even in defense of liberty but for power and ever more money.

Praise God.

And pass the ammunition.

Update (10/17): More about David Barton, Republican Jesus freak, at this Kos diary.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Christie Elam is stalking me again.

You know where to find him. He's always good for a few horse laughs, and then you suddenly realize his obsession with me is probably unhealthy.

Chris, honey: get a life.

And some mighty fine blogging elsewhere

Easter Lemming has a link-heavy post about Houston's largest church and its unrelenting efforts to influence the neoconservative social agenda.

The Agonist reminds us of a pop quiz on foreign leaders' names that then-Governor George W. Bush failed six years ago. Take heart, Grandmaw.

Lake Jackson Dem excerpts The Nation's "Cultural Famine" article.

Half Empty announces that Paul Begala is coming to Missouri City to boost the Fort Bend Democrats next week.

Lots of David Van Os around the blogosphere.

Grits for Breakfast has a theory about why Houston hasn't been attacked by terrorists.

The San Antonio Current singled out Pink Dome, In the Pink Texas, and Burnt Orange Report for some snarky blogging jealousy. They had better things to say about the Blogging Rep and Little Pollyanna and Burkablog. They do seem to like pretty colors and pictures over at the Current. The reading? Not so much.

Everybody go wish Karl-Thomas Happy Birthday.

Capitol Annex has more on the humiliation that is Todd Staples. Elect Hank Gilbert.

Bay Area Houston keeps up the heat on the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

Dos Centavos points us toward Judge Mary Kay Green's new website. Judge Green is one of the best persons -- not just one of the best Democrats or best candidates -- on the ballot this year. Her opponent is the abysmal Annette Galik. Harris County needs more judges like Mary Kay Green.

And from across the Sabine, People Get Ready reminds us why parental notification requirements are inhumane.

Republicans really shouldn't be debating

... particularly if they aren't capable of doing any better than Martha Wong performed last night in her tete-a-tete (that's French, Martha) with Ellen Cohen and Mhair Dekmezian last night at Rice.

Really. That Wong tapes over the word "Republicans" on her lawn signs starts to make sense when she says things like"The Trans-Texas Corridor will only cost $2 million dollars." I can't really blame her for doing that, though; if I were still a Republican, I wouldn't want anyone to know it either.

This woman isn't even my representative and I'm embarrassed. The same kind of embarrassment that wells up when Carole Strayhorn, who has been endorsed by Texas teachers' unions but can't name the newly-elected Mexican president, or when Kinky Friedman opens his mouth to say anything at all.

Wong also has an extraordinarily unsettling manner of viciously denouncing her opponents, and inappropriately grinning at the conclusion of her rabid attack. Disconcerting.

Pollyanna posted her lengthy summary (sorry we weren't introduced, Kim; next time let's do a kaffeklatsch --that's German, Martha -- afterwards) and she notes some of my highlighted moments:

-- Libertarian Dekmezian offered more than a few moments of Kinky-style comic relief. Visibly nervous all the way to the end, with no apparent rehearsal or even prepared remarks for opening or closing, Dekmezian still made points that the mostly progressive audience nodded and applauded and laughed at (in a good way). As hilarious as it is watching a 14-year-old trying to play with grown-ups, he ought to be excused from the third scheduled debate, despite the fact that he was better at understanding and communicating the issues than the Republican incumbent.

-- Wong is a little too redundant with phrases like "plaintiff's attorneys" and "tort reform", especially for an audience that is not the River Oaks Republicans.

We sat in the mezzanine, behind a row of seating reserved for the Wong campaign, and who should plop his fat ass down in front of us than Tom DeLay's Cabana Boy and two of his minions. Culberson acted just like the rest of the partisans in the audience, applauding after the moderator asked us not to, nodding his big fat head at the moronic pronouncements Wong made seemingly every 60 seconds, and so on. A special shout-out to John NoRailonRichmond: my mother-in-law and father-in-law, Republican voters since they came to the United States in 1962, are voting for Jim Henley. It's easy to see why you don't want to debate, either.

Enjoy your lobbying career, you miserable ass.

Ellen Cohen handled this affair the way Chris Bell managed his competition last Friday night: if it had been a prizefight, the referee would have stopped it at the halfway mark.

New, real, effective representation for the 134th. That fresh air you feel this morning inside the Loop isn't just a cool front.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Drive-by linking

A few quick shots for your reading pleasure:

-- The Statesman has drawn an analogy between my man David and Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz. It's a proper analogy, when you take it in full context. David is wrapping up the last of the Whistlestop Courthouse Tours this week and next, in Fort Worth and Dallas, then Houston, and completing in San Antonio and Austin.

-- Tonight's debate between HD-134 candidates Ellen Cohen, Martha Wong, and Libertarian Mhair Dekmezian at Rice University promises to be fun. Ryan has the particulars if you want to attend, or if you'd rather stream it live online. I'll be on hand and post a report late tonight or tomorrow.

-- Chris Bell's call for Kinky to pull out of the gubernatorial race was met with sputtering indignation from the former Texas Jewboy, and even more vinegar-laced invective from his supporters, including -- natch -- the Repugnants who are praying Governor MoFo can manage to get re-elected.

Snap, goons: this is about Kinky's supporters, not Kinky. They're the ones who are desperate for an out, and Friedman keeps giving it to them every time he opens his mouth. I think most of them are smart enough not to waste a vote on possibly the worst candidate the state of Texas has even seen, but unless their boy does the smart thing and quits the race, we'll have to test that intelligence theory on Election Day.

A vote for Kinky is a vote for Rick Perry, that's why the hell not.

-- Mark Warner is not going to run for the Democratic nomination for President. Eileen and Greg are sad. Me? Not so much. Warner is too conservative for my taste. He'll be kingmaker of a sort this presidential cycle with his obvious fundraising talents, but I don't look for him to even take the #2 slot on a presidential ticket (if one accepts the rationale for not running for President is to save the wear-and-tear on his wife and kids).

I like Warner as a Senator or even as Governor again, and we 'll let the future sort itself out. And I agree with kos relative to how the 2008 Sweepstakes shifts with Warner out now.

See how easy that was, Kinky? Oh wait, you don't have any family, just a bunch of stray dogs. GTF out of the race anyway, dude. The joke is over.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pull out, Kinky.

The overnight news from the Dallas paper has Chris Bell asking Kinky Friedman to get out of the race. Kinky's response is to dig in his bootheels.

Here's my message:

Pull out, Kinky. You know you want to.

You're not having fun any longer. All this running around all over Hell's half-acre, having to talk to reporters who keep asking the same damn questions (like 'why do you say "n----r" all the time'), lousy food and weak coffee and hard hotel beds and shitty pillows and everything else about life on the road that you quit years ago when you stopped making music and started writing cheap detective novels.

It's time to go back to the ranch, to your stray dogs, to the cigar-smell infested bunkhouse you call home, take off that nasty hat, brush your slimy teeth and lay it down.

Texas needs you to quit, Kinky. Now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's no longer about Mark Foley, Part II

The Grand Old Pederast Party has closed ranks around their rotund Speaker, ensuring his continued leadership all the way to January (when he will likely be replaced by Nancy Pelosi anyway).

I noted the first calls for him to step down, but never advocated his doing so myself. My feeling from the outset was: meh, let him stick around if he chooses. Hastert is a much heavier albatross around the necks of the GOP than even Tom DeLay would have been at this point, and as a result becomes the icon of a Congressional scandal entering its second week as a top news story.

See, among the reasons it stays in the news -- besides the MSM's sexual obsession -- is that the history of Foley's child predation has been extended once again; it now goes back as far as 2000. Which means that when the Republicans say 9/11 changed everything... well, they didn't mean "everything."

Here's a talking point:

More protection was given to a sexual predator among their ranks by Republican leaders than to our soldiers in Iraq (body armor), than to our national security (ports, nukes in North Korea), than even to our childrens' health care (millions -- in Texas alone the number is 1.4 million -- abandoned, uninsured).

Pretty sweet if you're one of the elite, that conservative agenda.

The Congressional page-sex scandal, as of this moment, rightfully deserves to be pushed from the headlines. And it needs to be replaced with the threat of a nuclear showdown looming with Kim Jong Il, or the second weakness exposed in our national food supply in a month (this news suggests that the terrorists understand that they could terrorize us with it), or even -- God forbid -- the 32 soldiers killed in the first eight days of October in an increasingly unstable Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet, perhaps the so-called liberal media still take their cue from the White House in a perverse way. What would Our Dear Leader be most upset about lately?


There's a lot of very important things that the Bush administration simply doesn't give a shit about, North Korea being only the latest example of the consequences of electing (sic) a moron President.

And I have to think that a Democratic Congress in 2007 is going to be able to help him focus on a few of the real issues.

(thanks to ThinkProgress, one of the very best places on the Internets, for the leads)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Blogger scoops traditional media (again)

Rep. John Davis, a Republican representing the Clear Lake area in the Texas Lege for the past eight years, has been revealed to be woefully inept at best -- and criminally negligent at worst -- regarding his expense report filings. One hundred thousand dollars' worth of campaign expenses lack sufficient documentation. That's a violation of Texas election law.

So reports KHOU today.

But Muse is the one who broke this story weeks ago; her painstaking gumshoe investigation revealed the ethical lapses that finally drew the attention of the Texas Ethics Commission and the so-called liberal media.

John Davis is so incompetent that he was declared a piece of "used furniture" by Texas Monthly in 2003.

Though the results of the TEC investigation into Davis' finances will not be made public until after November 7, the voters of District 129 can cast a vote for good government by electing Sherrie Matula to the Texas House.

They deserve it. Hell, we all deserve it.

Sunday Postpourri

That big blonde digging out a kill attempt happens to be my niece. She is the star on the University of Arkansas volleyball team.

Last evening the two candidates competing for the US Senate held a debate at Rice University. My birthday buddy Barbara Radnofsky and Scott Jameson, the Libertarian candidate, talked substance for 90 minutes before an assembly of about fifty voters and a few media. Kay Bailey Torture was too scared to show up, and after watching Barbara tear her into little pieces in absentia, I can understand why. Senator Perjury Technicality alleges she will show for another debate scheduled for October 19, in San Antonio and to be broadcast on all statewide PBS stations. We'll see.

The conglomerate that owns the Los Angeles Times fired its publisher because he refused to cut staff. This is amazing to me, because I spent a decade in corporate newspaper management and never met a single man nearly brave enough to do this. I'll have more to say at a later date.

One of the best restaurants in New Orleans is finally open again. I'm not a candidate for the turtle soup, but most everything else on the menu -- including the jazz brunch; they invented that -- is worth the drive over. Right across the street from Commander's Palace is the Lafayette Cemetery, one of the Crescent City's oldest burial grounds. Lots of interesting history when you take a ghost tour and lots of movies filmed there. Here's a good picture of it.

The old I-10 bridge over the Trinity River -- between Houston and Beaumont -- is finally going to be replaced.

If you have ever sold a used car to another person and conspired to report the selling price as lower than reality when you recorded the title change at the courthouse... well, you can't get away with that any more. The state estimates that they will collect an additional $35 million dollars from eliminating the "liar's affidavit", and the county tax assessor-collectors estimate that many will be pissed off about it. Way to go again, Rick Perry and the Republican Texas Lege. At least they haven't raised your taxes, right?

TIME declares that the Republican Revolution is over. Stu Rothenberg says "a true blowout is now possible".

And don't miss the Moral High Ground Mudslide edition of this week's Sunday Funnies.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bell beat 'em like a pinata

In my humble opinion. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it; you can read the comments at Burnt Orange or the Chron's Texas Politics or the Bell blog or Coyote Mercury, or Vince's analysis or Hal's take or Muse's musings.

There's enough play-by-play to suit anyone at those links so I'll summarize my favorite moments:

-- Bell opening with "I'm glad to be here with my three Republican opponents";

-- Grandma not knowing the recently-elected president of Mexico's name;

-- any of Kinky's disjointed ramblings, but particularly when he turned to Bell and asked, "What do you think the heroes of the Alamo would think of (our cowardly governor refusing to debate more than once)?";

-- the relentless pummeling given the incumbent from three angles, so badly was he hurt that he actually ducked out on the post-debate media Q &A.

Chris Bell was poised, confident, and articulate. He never got cut off for time, and he answered the question he was asked and didn't just spout some talking point. It was such a strong performance in comparison to his inept three stagemates that he likely sent himself to the Governor's Mansion tonight.

Quorum Report quotes moneybags trial lawyer John O'Quinn as saying Bell will not only get his financial help but also that of his fellow Democratic rainmakers:

Houston Attorney John O'Quinn, prominently featured tonight in Chris Bell's post-debate appearance, said he would do whatever it takes to raise Bell's profile in the race. Pressed by Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News in a post-debate press gaggle, O'Quinn said he was ready to put at least a million dollars into the Bell campaign, if not more.

"Chris Bell will not lose because of a lack of resources," O'Quinn said.

Thirty-three days to go, and we'll have a new Governor in Austin.

Update: Somervell County Salon got video of several parts of the debate, but this is the best part. And KHOU has the debate in full (until October 10, according to the debate rules).

Update II (10/7): C-Span will rebroadcast today at 12:59 pm and 10:00 pm (note that the times posted at the C-Span site are Eastern; I changed them for this posting to Central).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gubernatorial Debate tomorrow, Senatorial on Saturday

From the Bell campaign ...

The 2006 Texas Gubernatorial Debate will be held on Friday, October 6 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. The debate will be broadcast live on the following stations:

DFW: WFAA (Channel 8)
Houston: KHOU (Channel 11)
San Antonio: KENS (Channel 5)
Austin: KVUE (Channel 24 broadcast, Channel 3 Time Warner Cable)
The debate will also be carried on Texas Cable News (TXCN) and will be webcast live on the Dallas Morning News website.

The Bell campaign has organized debate watching parties in Houston and Dallas for Friday evening:

Little Woodrow’s
4235 Bellaire Blvd
Call 713-524-0009 for more info

Hamby's Bar and Grill
1510 Pacific Avenue
Call 713-524-0009 for more info

We also have info to share on these other parties being sponsored by friends of the campaign:

Texas AFL-CIO Headquarters
1106 Lavaca
Call (512) 477-6195 for more info

Hannah's Off The Square
111 Mulberry Street
Email jberthume@gmail.com for more info

Home of Aaron Pena III
1905 Ariel Lane
Email aaronpenaiii@hotmail.com for more info

San Antonio
Home of Josephine Ramon
3939 Portsmouth
Email ramonassociates@aol.com for more info

Smith County Democratic HQ
401 E. Front St.
Email party@smithdems.org for more info

The Texas Democratic Party is also sponsoring debate watch parties in the following cities across the state. If you are interested in attending one of these events, call Jennifer Dean of the TDP at 512-478-9800. Events are scheduled for Bandera, Bullard, Cedar Hill, College Station, Edna, Graham, Hempstead, Huntsville, Hutto, Lancaster, Laredo, Leander, Mabank, Richmond, and Waco.


Kay Bailey is too afraid to be there, but Barbara Ann Radnofsky and Scott Jameson, the Libertarian candidate, will be present for the first US Senatorial Debate. Please come and participate, as we're told audience questions are permitted, and there's a reception for all candidates ansd supporters afterwards.

Saturday, October 7: US Senatorial Debate, Radnofsky and Jameson
Location: Rice University, 117 Humanities, Houston
Time: 7 pm
Public welcome, reception afterwards for all at the Lovett House

Abbott's Brass Knuckles for Minority Seniors, Kid Gloves for Highland Park

More outstanding work by the Lone Star Project exposing Greg Abbott as the naked partisan hack he is:

Over the past year, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has relentlessly prosecuted a handful of mostly minority senior citizen Democrats who may have unknowingly violated an obscure and flawed Texas election statute. At the same time, his office delayed the investigation of election mismanagement and ballot tampering in the exclusive Dallas County community of Highland Park.

Highland Park is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country with over 500 houses valued at over $1 million and is a GOP stronghold, voting overwhelmingly for George Bush in 2004. (Census Bureau, Secretary of State records) Both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lived in Highland Park prior to the 2000 election. (Houston Chronicle, 12/9/2006 and Dallas Morning News 5/12/2006) Greg Abbott has failed to bring any prosecution in this neighborhood even after receiving clear evidence of illegal election activity by the Dallas Assistant District Attorney.

Meanwhile, the Texarkana neighborhood where an Abbott prosecution target, Willie Ray, lives is a predominately African American area that regularly supports Democratic candidates. There are no $1 million homes in this neighborhood. The median value of a house is $54,400 and the per capita income is less than $14,500. (Census Bureau) Abbott aggressively prosecuted and won a conviction against Willie Ray for the simple act of delivering sealed ballots to the post office at the request of senior voters.

Go read it all.

Six Texans filed suit against Abbott for his harassment, intimidation, and selective enforcement of the law. Abbott's solicitor general Ted Cruz responded with a vicious verbal assault (.pdf) on the plaintiffs.

Previous postings concerning our out-of-control Attorney General are here, here, here, and at Burnt Orange Report.

Abbott can currently be seen on Houston television endorsing the candidacy of Martha "So Very, Very" Wong.

Your choice for Texas Attorney General couldn't be more clear.

Dick Cheney and Jesse Jackson were both here yesterday

Big Time Dick came to raise money for Shellie Magoola-Gimp at a five-hundred-dollar a plate luncheon. Two hundred fools showed up, paid their money and got a sandwich, chips, and a chance to get shot in the face see Cheney.

The Rev. Jackson accompanied the next Governor of Texas to Worthing High School and then the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center to see the seniors there.

Probably nothing more greatly illustrates the difference between the two political parties than these events. Corrupt Republicans gather to raise money while Democrats go out to see people young and old to talk. And listen.

Any questions?

It's no longer about Mark Foley

Though his defenders have used every pathetic excuse they can think of to explain Mark Foley's behavior -- "he's gay", "he's an alcoholic", "the e-mails weren't improper but the IMs were", the deadly Republican virus of the Congressional page scandal continues to spread, and will undoubtedly claim more conservative victims.

Foley's former top aide pushes back the history three years:

A longtime chief of staff to disgraced former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) approached House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's office three years ago, repeatedly imploring senior Republicans to help stop Foley's advances toward teenage male pages, the staff member said yesterday.

The account by Kirk Fordham, who resigned yesterday from his job with another senior lawmaker, pushed back to 2003 or earlier the time when Hastert's staff reportedly became aware of Foley's questionable behavior concerning teenagers working on Capitol Hill.

That makes four people -- the other three are Majority Leader John Boehner, RCCC chair Tom Reynolds, and Page Board chair John Shimkus --that have thrown Dennis under the bus. Hastert chose the mouthpiece of another paragon of Republican virtue, Rush Limbaugh, to say that he won't resign.

The over/under on the Speaker being gone is Friday, October 6, at 5 pm.

The guy who just took Tom DeLay's place smells a political opportunity for himself. I'm thinking he's thinking that if his disgraced party can just hang on to a majority, then he will get to be Speaker. Fat chance in either case.

Reynolds -- he's the man responsible for getting Republicans elected to the House of Representatives -- is already sinking fast. No surprise: among his many errors of judgment and besides whatever role he played in concealing a sexual predator, that he took $100,000 from Foley shortly after the "naughty e-mails" were re-discovered marks him an accomplice to the crime.

Shimkus, the GOP House member from Illinois who heads the organization responsible for managing all the business of congressional pages, doesn't think he's done anything wrong either:

Amid mounting criticism from his own party, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said he acted properly when confronted last year with a questionable email sent by disgraced former congressman Mark Foley to a former congressional page.

"I don't know of a single thing I would have done differently," Shimkus told The State Journal-Register editorial board during an hour-long Wednesday meeting.

These people have simply been in Washington too long. They have lost the ability -- if they ever had it in the beginning -- to understand the concerns of real people, such as parents who want their children to be able to go to Washington as an intern for a Congressman and be free of unwanted sexual advances.

Shielding a pedophile in order to maintain political power is about as sick, sad, and sorry as it gets. And they will all have to answer for it.

Let's hope the voters in their respective House districts send them a message on November 7.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

FOX thinks Foley is a Democrat

Three different times, for about twelve to fifteen seconds each, in two different segments during Bill O'Liar this evening.

I'm sure it was just an oversight.

GOP* collapses in morass of scandal

Not an exaggeration:

1. The Congressional page scandal could claim Speaker Hastert, as several conservatives, including the Washington Moonie Times, are clamoring for his resignation. The SCLM has failed to notice -- natch -- how his explanations regarding the affair have evolved.

The Republican insider reaction has ranged from Tony Snow's "they're just naughty e-mails" to "we're gonna lose it all".

2. Bob Woodward's book "State of Denial" asserts that George Tenet told Condi Rice about the al-Qaeda threat on July 10, 2001 -- before the infamous PDB in Crawford. Rice claimed she couldn't recall this meeting; White House records verify that it took place. This warning was never mentioned to the 9/11 Commission; several of its members expressed shock that they were hearing about it for the first time. Well, they weren't hearing it for the first time, according to McClatchy Newspapers' DC bureau. They just forgot to include it in their report.

E&P says Rice should resign.

3. The National Intelligence Estimate memo -- you remember that one; it said that the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorist attack -- comes in third in this week's Truth-Be-Told sweepstakes.

4. And completing the superfecta, some guy named Jack Abramoff has been lobbying the White House quite a bit more than anyone ever thought.

I can't say it any clearer than former Republican sycophant Chris Matthews did, last night on Jay Leno:

"If you want Bush to stay in control, vote Republican. If you want to put a leash on the little guy, vote the other way."

*Greedy Old Perverts.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Weekend Bloggerrhea

Too busy to write at length, but not too busy to point to some other reading you should be doing:

-- Hal and Stace tell about the Johnson-Rayburn dinner last night.

-- BOR has a picture of a billboard blasting Lamar Smith, and points to Republican't.org, where you can design and build your own.

-- Anna got a little Kinky thrust in her face. (It's not as gross as it sounds, though it continues to reveal the alleged gubernatorial candidate as hostile, intolerant, and unhinged.)

-- Senator Kay Bailey Torture spent the weekend in her home state of Virginia, campaigning for George "Macaca" Allen, accusing Democrats of making personal attacks. Really. Texans deserve a better Senator than this.

-- The response from the right regarding the pedophilic episodes of Mark Foley seems to be "Well at least he resigned, unlike Clinton". That's what they're telling their children in church this morning, I'm sure. ThinkProgress has the timeline of the Republican coverup. Easter Lemming outs a few closeted gay Republicans, including Governor MoFo and Lite Gov. Dewhurst. Here's another long list of conservative sexual deviants, including Houston's very own Jon Matthews. And here's a better excuse the GOP is free to use without compensating me: "Really, this is no different from what the Roman Catholic church did."

-- NewsLost: Congress revoked the Wright amendment. Oh, and Bob Woodward has another book out; something about the Bushies and the Iraq war. You can read some excerpts here. Yes, it contains the usual disagreements among Rumsfeld and Cheney and Powell and Rice about how to prosecute the war, and the expected disclosures of all the lies we've been told, and even a little morsel for the gasoline-price-conspiracy theorists (of which I am a recent convert):

In a claim that could fuel conspiracy theories about the recent oil price decline – in an interview to be broadcast on CBS on Sunday – Mr Woodward described a conversation between Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Mr Bush in which the former Saudi ambassador said he could ease oil prices ahead of the elections.

“They could go down very quickly. That’s the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day,” Mr Woodward said.

-- The Astros' postseason possibility will be known today. (Viewing tip: watch the baseball, because the football will again be excruciating.) Even more uncertain than the Astros' playoff fate is the validity of the steroid charges against Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

-- Finally, some funnies for Sunday.