Sunday, September 30, 2007
For some people with diabetes, the burden of adhering to their daily care regimen nearly equals that of their diabetes-related health complications, a U.S. study finds.
University of Chicago researchers conducted interviews with more than 700 adults with type 2 diabetes.
As reported in the October issue of Diabetes Care, some patients said the inconvenience and discomfort of having to take numerous medications each day, carefully monitoring their diet, and getting the required amounts of exercise had a major impact on their quality of life.
I have written about my illness previously, and this is a typical day:
Each day, a typical diabetes patient takes many medications, including two or three different pills to control blood sugar levels, one or two pills to lower cholesterol, two or more pills to reduce blood pressure, and an aspirin to prevent blood clots. As the disease progresses, the number of drugs increases and often includes insulin shots, according to background information in the study.
From 12 percent to 50 percent of patients interviewed said they were willing to give up 8 of 10 years of life in perfect health to avoid a life with diabetes complications, but between 10 percent and 18 percent of patients said they were willing to give up 8 of 10 years of healthy life to avoid life with treatments.
I emphasized that last part because that's precisely how I feel.The only thing I can eat without remorse or reservation is vegetables. Not fruit -- even watermelon spikes my blood sugar. Forget pineapple or strawberries. Red meat slams my cholesterol, and alcohol sends my trigylcerides into the ozone.
So how would YOU like a nice salad for breakfast this morning?
The decisions you make three to five times a day about what to put in your mouth have, for me, those afore-mentioned "long-term implications" under consideration: shall I have the salmon or the filet? The sandwich or the salad? The mocha Frapp or the tea?
No pasta. No bagels. No soup (too much sodium). Nothing fried. One glass of wine or one beer, period. Walk for twenty minutes, minimum, after dinner every single evening. Don't forget to pack both meds and healthy snacks every time you leave the house, lest you go hypoglycemic. Despite tight control of my blood glucose for the past few years, I still experience one of these episodes about once or twice a month.
Forget about Italian food. Pass on the Chinese takeout. La comida Mexicana is off the menu as well. Can have some sushi (sashimi obviously being the wiser choice). Mashed potatoes? Very funny. Rice? Ha ha. Corn? I don't think so. Whole grains -- complex carbs also including beans, for example -- are better than the bleached, refined ones, but not by much. Bread, chips, crackers, pastry, cake, cookies, ice cream? Pizza? A cheeseburger and fries? Are you nuts?
I didn't have bad eating habits before my diagnosis; I ate only a little red meat even when I was 20-something. I always liked all kinds of fish. I stopped drinking cow's milk (me soy guy) decades ago. As in two decades ago. No sodas for at least as long a period of time. I was also moderately active or more all of my life, playing sports as a kid, climbing and hiking with the Scouts as an adolescent, intramural basketball and softball in college, and so on. Throughout my thirties I took vitamins and supplements and was in the gym four days a week for an hour lifting, followed by another half-hour of aerobic activity. Now, once I tapered off and then stopped altogether about five years ago, I quickly gained 25 pounds. And became diabetic.
There was no history of the disease on either side of my family, and no incidence of heart disease either (sometimes diabetes goes undetected in individuals for years until they experience a cardiac event -- or a stroke, for example). Can't blame it on the genes. Can't find much of anything to blame it on, really; I just got lucky, I guess.
So anyway, it's just a drag when you're out with friends and everybody else is having the fajitas or the fettucine alfredo or the Philly cheese steak and you're having the grilled chicken salad (not the Caesar and no ranch dressing) for the tenth time that week.
Is an occasional guilty pleasure worth the risk of onset of failing kidneys -- or reduced vision or an amputated foot -- a few years earlier than perhaps it would have occurred?
Sometimes it is, yes.
How much of life is really worth living if you have to deny yourself virtually everything that makes it worth living in the first place?
So once in a while -- not very often, and certainly not as often as I would like -- I have the nachos or the pasta or the fried rice, and take extra medicine, and don't fucking worry about it.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The top four Republican presidential candidates have set off a debate over whether the GOP is paying enough attention to blacks and Hispanics by skipping Thursday night's debate on minority issues.
The four leading Republican candidates — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney — cited scheduling conflicts in saying they could not attend the debate at Morgan State University, a historically black college.
After the GOP pooh-poohed a CNN/YouTube debate, after they stiffed the Hispanic community by failing to make room on their schedules for an Univision face-off, after they criticized their Democratic counterparts for refusing to debate on the Fox Propaganda Channel.
Why, it even confounds Eye of Newt:
"I'm puzzled by their decision. I can't speak for them. I think it's a mistake. I wish they would change their minds — they still have a few days — and I wish they would in fact go to the debate Thursday night," Gingrich, who is considering entering the race for the GOP nomination, said earlier this week.
If it puzzles a man of his towering intellect, just imagine how the African-American community must feel.
For today let's speculate idly about who might be on the undercard for various candidates Republican and Democratic.
Hillary could pick Obama or Tom Vilsack or Evan Bayh and be just fine, but I think she takes Bill Richardson, or even better for her, Wesley Clark. He just solves a lot of her negatives by being a white military Southern gentleman.
Obama almost has to pick a white guy with "gravitas" (see Dick Cheney 2000) which likewise suggests Clark, or perhaps Biden or Dodd. Two senators brings up a lot of bad memories from the past two cycles, though, so look for a heavyweight like Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania (no pun intended, Governor). But Barack sort of needs someone from the South or West also, so perhaps Brian Schweitzer of Montana is a possibility.
Edwards could go in any number of directions should he wind up as the Democratic nominee. He could pick a female elected official such as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or Janet Napolitano of Arizona. Both of those red states would be in play along with a block of surrounding midwestern or southwestern states. Or he could select Richardson or Obama to break the GOP stranglehold on the South and Southwest.
The Republicans? They're in a quandary because all of their front-runners have some significant negatives, but my belief is that irrespective of who emerges from the conservative scrum, the winner taps Mike Huckabee as his running mate. Mostly because he's a Christian, but also because he isn't a freak.
Unless Eye of Newt can somehow pole-vault past the "pygmies", as he calls them, and then I think he has to pick another outsider, and possibly a Westerner for geographic balance.
Larry "Wide Stance" Craig is just the man he's looking for.
What do you think? Give me a few fer-instances in the comments.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Over the past two years, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on the Sunday talk shows 30 times, making her the most second frequent guest after Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).
But that may be changing. In his Washington Post column, Howard Kurtz reveals that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is no longer a “prize catch” for the Sunday talk shows. She was recently turned down by both CBS and NBC:
The secretary of state has always been considered a prize catch for the Sunday talk shows. But when the White House offered Condoleezza Rice for appearances eight days ago, after a week focused on Iraq, two programs took the unusual step of turning her down.
Executives at CBS and NBC say Rice no longer seems to be a key player on the war and that her cautious style makes her a frustrating guest.
“I expected we’d just get a repetition of the administration’s talking points, which had already been well circulated,” says Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” who questioned two senators instead. “We’d had a whole week of that with General Petraeus and President Bush.”
Television media aren’t the only ones uninterested in Rice. A few months ago, every single major newspaper turned it down an op-ed by Rice on Lebanon. Price Floyd, formerly the State Department’s director of media affairs, recounted that the piece was filled glowing references to President Bush’s wise leadership and “read like a campaign document.”
Recent reports indicate that Rice’s influence within the White House is also waning, giving way to the more extreme policies of Cheney and his allies. A Newsweek article in June found that Cheney’s national-security team had “been actively challenging Rice’s Iran strategy in recent months.” In April, Rice advocated that five members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard be freed from captivity, but she was overruled after Cheney “made the firmest case for keeping them.”
These reports contrast when Rice first became Secretary of State. The media gushingly predicted she would succeed because she and Bush “know each other so well they have conversations based on body language” and speculated that she may even run for president in 2008.
This past Sunday, none of the five network talk shows turned down Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Fox.
Back to academia with you, Madam Secretary.
Monday, September 24, 2007
And we haven't even flogged it much.
Noriega will probably be named later today the winner of Democracy for Texas' online polling, as he has carried a substantial lead throughout. And this is the final week before the end of the fundraising quarter and the results for the exploratory campaign will be made public.
Our little netroots push went national, and also generated substantial organic grassroots momentum (despite what one person thinks).
You can still ride the Noriega Express and be one of the One Thousand Netroots Supporters of this campaign. There's still 125 seats left. But hey, time's running out; you only have until Sunday to get on board.
Considering what a jackass our Junior Senator was this past week (and considering your other option -- a man who believes pregnant women have no choice, but gays do --) it's long been clear to those of us who know the man that Rick Noriega is the only choice for the US Senate.
Won't you join us?
Update (6 p.m.): Noriega 78.4%, Watts 21.6%.
Update (9/25): Via Sharon and RG Ratcliffe, Noriega thanks the netroots:
"Now with this new dimension in American politics, the netroots allows for regular folks like myself, who have devoted their lives to public service to step forward and offer themselves up for higher office.
"No longer do you have to be a celebrity or a self-financed millionaire to offer yourself up for higher office.
"The netroots in large part has leveled the playing field."
"The netroots component is going to be a critical piece of us defeating John Cornyn and getting the state and nation back on track after this administration has so misled us."
It's about one thing. TXsharon at Bluedaze tells us why we have to make it about something else.
Bill Howell of StoutDemBlog, a new member of the TPA, takes a look at Kirk England's recent party switch, as well as others in Dallas County, in Rove's Permanent Majority Collapses: Now What Do We Do With All These Defectors?
Boadicea at Texas Kaos wonders if MoveOn doesn't owe John Cornyn a thank you note.
Musings discovers that the leading GOP presidential contenders are too busy for African-American and Latino-sponsored debates, while the Harris County GOP claim they are home to Hispanics because of their annual bike giveaway.
Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News has word on Mayor John Manlove of Pasadena entering the race to challenge Nick Lampson for Congress and the mayor's race it opens up He also has a short colorful digest of Naomi Klein promoting her book on Disaster Capitalism.
WCNews at Eye on Williamson posts on recent news that Gov. Perry and Speaker Craddick -- whom Mike Krusee excoriated at the end of the legislative session -- will appear at a fundraiser for him in Krusee Throws Reagan Over The Wall And Under The Bus.
Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger takes a look at some of the dumber things to come from the Right this week, like Bill O'Reilly's trip to a Harlem hot spot where he discovered that it was just like a 'real' restaurant. You know, like Olive Garden.
Off the Kuff looks at the causes and effects of Kirk England's party switch.
Refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left looks at UT football and asks a simple question: UTLonghorns or UT Thugs.
Burnt Orange Report and its diarists are following the Kirk England switchover with enthusiasm. After breaking the story on Wednesday, the entire staff welcomes the newest Democrat to the Texas House.
KT at Stop Cornyn shows how the Junior Senator is wasting time again. Instead of getting funding for CHIP or our troops the armor they need, Cornyn forced a vote condemning MoveOn.org. Yet another example of failed leadership and Junior John being out of touch with the needs of Texans.
Evan at the Caucus Blog covered two major stories this week. First, after months of investigation, discussion, and debate, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus has decided to endorse the HISD bond proposal. Second, Evan has looked into the history of the fight for a federal employment non-discrimination bill in the post "ENDA Deja Vu."
Bradley at North Texas Liberal discusses how Washington, D.C. almost had the vote, but lost it due to greedy Senate Republicans. Only eight Republicans could be bothered to vote for the legendary bill that would have allowed the District a voting member of Congress.
The marriage of the Republican party to theocracy is no accident. Right-wing investors like Richard Mellon Scaife are molding US churches, notes CouldBeTrue in "What does an El Paso Church have to do with the right wing" at South Texas Chisme.
It was quite a week for Senator Box Turtle; he led the Senate charge against free speech, voted against habeas corpus, and against adequate down time for our soldiers. As PDiddie at Brains and Eggs points out, he now owns the war on terror -- in addition to the war on the Constitution and all Americans. But he did unwittingly sponsor a successful fundraiser for MoveOn.org, so he wasn't a complete failure.
WhosPlayin joins a local Republican activist in opposing tax abatements for speculative real estate development in Lewisville.
Vince at Capitol Annex has been keeping tabs on the Texas Conservative Coalition and its town hall meetings across East Texas in which they propose to eliminate property taxes in favor of an expanded sales tax, and points out that at least one new candidate has already started drinking their Kool-Aid.
Hal at Half Empty was at a campaign kickoff fundraiser for Ron Reynolds, who is running for State Rep in HD-27. He took videos and did a series. Links are at his summary posting: Ron E. Reynolds is Running for State Rep in HD 27.
Blue 19th notes that Randy Neugebauer can't hide his contempt for veterans from everyone. So which party was it that supported our troops? Oh yeah, the one that doesn't start with "Republican".
And lastly, No? No! Yes? Yes! Texas Cloverleaf reports on Trinity Vote Trickery. Confusing ballot language and campaign slogans cloud
the upcoming Trinity toll road vote in Dallas.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
From the standpoint of sheer political calculation, Texas Democrats have a wonderful opportunity to regain and exercise power in the Texas Legislature, at the Harris County Courthouse, and with a Democratic delegation to Congress, including one Senate Seat. Not another constipated, “targeted” campaign, but a “Blue Tsunami” should be our strategy at every echelon of this party.
Far and away the best investment we can make in that prospect with just one race is Rick NORIEGA as the top of the statewide ticket. Oh, I see Texas Kaos and others are already on to that.
And, we could do much better than pit two candidates against one another in our primary rather than going after every open seat on the State Supreme Court. That is a dumb-ass political consultant call.
Frankly, this party does not need that kind of small-minded control-freak race-politics on the part of Matt ANGLE and Ruben HERNANDEZ. They are a waste of Fred BARON’s money; and I expect he is smart enough to figure that out between now and November ‘08. Still, it is aggravating to watch the waste of time and money on wheel-spinning. As an economist, it just tears me up to watch this party play boom/bust with no endowment, a legacy of improvidence, and constant fear of bankruptcy.
I really feel sorry for Mikal WATTS: he, like BARON and O’QUINN are getting fleeced by patrons and “politicos” in Washington. He will not be and should not be our Senate nominee.
In fact, he could do better than that:
He should run for State Chair(man) and be prepared to use his money and energy to build something far more original and promising than just taking one or two shots at winning a Senate race this year. So he is not experienced in our crapped-out political system of two-bit concession-tending. That is a handicap where he is now but could be an asset, if he decided to take it on and not be just another patsy. From a resurgent Democratic Party in Texas, he could do and be about anything, more than a Junior Senator. Look at the best of that lot, Jim WEBB, badly used by the Democratic gas-bags and utterly frustrated. How sad.
It is manifestly true that State Chair is and has been a “dog’s breakfast” of a job and a stepping stone to nowhere recently for anybody more ambitious than Molly Beth MALCOMB or Boyd RICHIE –- good stewards of a moribund party on behalf of a few, now just one, trial lawyer.
Why would WATTS want that job? He wouldn’t. He is a trial lawyer, the equal or better of any other anywhere. He could be a principal, not a spokes-model. He should make it a very different job from what it is –- something Charles SOECHTING started, but could not finish.
Curiously, WATTS and perhaps nobody else could deliver a once-powerful party with a great future from the death-grip of a handful of lesser trial-lawyers and former legislative aides, as well as the very campaign consultants and Washington operators who are now taking him for a ride.
I do not know Mikal WATTS at all, but here is what he could do, if he is what he is cracked-up and purports to be:
First, he could lead a unified “grass-roots” plus “net-roots” party to a position of patriotic, popular, progressive, and national leadership. That is not where this state party is or has been for a long time. But, it is a tradition we have lived up to historically and well within our grasp today.
Second, he could deal effectively with quite a spectacular defective product liability and damage case with some elements of financial conspiracy –- the matter of DRE machines made by Hart InterCivic. It is a stunning case and a first-class ticket to legal-political greatness that the existing party has so far either neglected or completely bungled.
Third, there could be instant gratification from a glorious and memorable State Convention with an opportunity to lead a huge, energetic delegation into what might well be either a moribund or deadlocked national convention.
In any event, I will be commenting here on the prospects and mechanics of an open state convention with nothing expected and anything possible.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
First, he voted no on habeas corpus. Then he voted no on the Webb dwell-time amendment (requiring active-duty troops to have as much down time as the length of their service time overseas).
Then he introduced a resolution condemning the "General Betray Us" advertisement by MoveOn.org. Which his fellow turtles helped him pass, 72-25. Pat Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Jon Tester, Jim Webb, and every Blue Dog in the Senate joined the warmongering Republicans in supporting it. Joe Biden and Barack Obama courageously ducked the vote. (More on the impotence of Senate Democrats here.)
And to cap his week, he voted no -- with 69 others, including former Army Ranger Jack Reed and former Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel, both outspoken critics of the Iraq war -- on Reid-Feingold (designed to cut off war funding) .
John Cornyn has now officially assumed ownership of the war in Iraq. He also owns the war on the 70% of Americans who support our troops by calling for the end to the war in Iraq.
John Cornyn owns the war on the Constitution by opposing one of the "most efficient safeguards on liberty". John Cornyn owns the war on Americans by supporting the wiretapping of Americans.
John Cornyn is no longer a disgrace just to Texas. He's now a national disgrace.
Please help us end this national disgrace by helping us elect a senator from Texas who will respond to our e-mail and phone calls, who believes in the Bill of Rights, and who will support the soldiers and not their endless deaths and maiming.
Update (9/22): Let's be sure to thank Junior Senator for the half-million bucks he helped MoveOn raise in the 24-hour period following his betrayal of U.S.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I'll spare the details: it's too late to change much for 2008. Voters whose names are purged from the rolls, whose registrations will appear "in suspense" will only be allowed to vote provisionally, and most of those ballots won't be counted. Greg Palast says we're already six million votes in the hole, between voter caging lists, voter purging, suspense lists, and voter ID legislation.
Still not sure what we can do about it, either.
-- On a happier note, a Republican legislator in the Texas House became a Democrat yesterday. Welcome, Rep. Kirk England.
-- The Chron.com's stories on the coming $800 million HISD bond election, its effects on the property tax cut, the undervaluation by the Harris County Appraisal District of both commercial and residential property for tax purposes, and other stories elsewhere have the local wild-eyed, red-assed conservatives in a froth. They scream with one voice: "VOTE NO".
Since there's so much caysh in the form of commissions for the bond lawyers at stake in the election six weeks from now, would it be too conspiracy-theorist of me to wonder if it would be worthwhile for them to hire someone to hack the vote?
-- A blogger is being sued by a hospital conglomerate in Paris, Texas. For libel. Are corporations people? Can a corporation be called to the witness stand and testify?
Can a company feel injured by the loss of esteem, reputation, or revenue?
I bet I can guess how the Texas Supreme Court will vote if the case ever reaches them: 9-0. Unless we can get Susan Criss elected in 2008, and then it will be 8-1.
-- How about a toon to tide us over until Sunday?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Staying at some rustic yet comfortable accommodations on Beaver Lake. May get to see Heisman candidate Darren McFadden and the Razorbacks play (Tennessee-Chattanooga) in person. We appear to be sharing Fayetteville that weekend with the Banditos, Hell's Angels, and ZZ Top, so as long as I can get online I should have some interesting things to blog about.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Q: How's your search coming along?
A: We're on a beer budget, and Houston real estate has run up so high that it's very difficult for us to really be able to justify a lot of the prices. My first choice would be to find an existing building that we could move into that's in a good area.
But with our rapid growth, suddenly it's economic for us to potentially build. I'm still looking at one building north of downtown that would be a home run if it works.
It's an old building. It's functionally less than perfect, but location-wise it would be great.
If we can pull it off, it would be great, but I'm very concerned it could be a white elephant. No business wants a money pit.
Q: The company has grown a lot recently, but you don't really advertise. How have you gotten to where you are?
A: We've focused much more on grass-roots marketing where people come out to the brewery for a tour and we build a connection.
We've done events around town, and we donate to a lot to charities. I think every elementary school PTO in this city and almost every church has gotten donations from us. I think what we've created is a community. That organic growth is in and of itself satisfying, but the people are also very loyal consumers. They're not trendy.
It's almost like we've become part of their lives.
Q: Was it your goal to create, as you say, a community?
A: I don't think you can set out to create a kind of community like ours on purpose.
If you do that, it's going to always seem contrived. You can foster that community once it already exists by being aware of what expectations people have.
I try to do the things I enjoy doing, and then I try to see if I can rationalize a business purpose for them. We do the MS 150. We have a giant team. We have 300 riders, and we could easily have 1,000 riders if we kept it open.
We have a '57 Bentley we've tie-dyed for the art car community. I thought it was something that would be fun. The art car parade is such a part of Houston.
We did that not because we were looking at it as a way we could cash in on it, but more that we wanted to be part of it. And I've been very careful we don't try to commercialize it.
Q: Do you ever worry that a move might in some way alter the sense of community you've established?
A: Constantly. This is a big deal. This is who Saint Arnold's is. To our customers, it's their brewery, and that's something we have to be very mindful of.
There's a way to do it where you can make people part of the process, and they'll continue to feel ownership.
The biggest thing is keeping it in town and just making sure people feel invited to come there.
Q: It seems like the popularity of wine would cut into your business. Has it?
A: The editor of Food & Wine said beer is the new wine.
To me that sounds somehow weak — like we want to be the new wine. I think what is actually happening is that people are discovering this wide array of beers that are out there. I'd argue that there's a greater spectrum of flavor in beer than in wine. People are also discovering that beer goes great with food, and that you can pair beer with food often better than wine. Two weeks ago we did a beer and cheese tasting. It was an incredible event. A majority of the crowd was predominantly craft beer drinkers, but there were wine drinkers along with their beer-drinking friends. At the end, they were the ones who were the biggest proponents of how wonderful it was.
Brock has done a great job cultivating the local blogging community also. All the best to this Houston icon.
Dean Soars into Huge Lead in New Hampshire Now Leads Kerry 40-17 Among Likely Voters; Clark and Edwards in Distant 3rd --New Zogby Poll
Former Vermont Governor Dr. Howard Dean has opened a large lead over his closest challenger in New Hampshire according to the newest poll by Zogby International.
Dean earned 40%, compared to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s 17%. None of the other candidates have exceeded single digits in the polling. Retired General Wesley Clark and North Carolina Senator John Edwards are tied for third with 6% each.
Pollster John Zogby: "This is stunning. Dean leads 43-20 among Democrats and 35 to 11 among Independents. He hits 40 among all age groups, union and non-union voters. His lead is 57-17 among self-described progressives, 50-20 among liberals, and 34-14 among moderates. Married voters give him a 38-13 edge and singles a 45-21 point lead. He holds huge leads among all education groups, among investors and non-investors, men and women. This qualifies as juggernaut status. Can he be stopped?"
Emphasis mine. Gloria Steinem said yesterday in Houston that she supported Hillary for president because "she's got eight years of experience in the White House." And this is how Zogby had Iowa in the first week of December, 2003:
Dean Regains Slight Iowa Lead in Neck and Neck Race With Gephardt, 26% - 22%; Kerry 3rd in Single Digits in Latest Zogby International Poll
With less than seven weeks remaining until Iowa’s January 19 caucus vote, Former Vermont Governor Dr. Howard Dean has re-taken a slight lead in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. In December 1- 2 polling of 500 likely Iowa caucus voters by Zogby International, Dean jumped back ahead of Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt, the earlier Iowa front-runner, 26% - 22%, yet within the poll’s margin of statistical error.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was third with 9%, followed by North Carolina Senator John Edwards at 5%. Nearly three in ten (28%) remain undecided, providing some hope for the trailing candidates.
Disclaiming: Zogby, you will remember, also had John Kerry getting elected president a bit less than a year later.
Just a little food for thought.
But I need to acknowledge that we've busted our goal for the Rick Noriega campaign with two weeks still to go (and in the spirit of "coordination" are considering going for a thousand, just to quell the Doubting Thomases, Gregs, and Matts). As Bo notes, we'll add another boxcar to the train to make room for you, if you're not already on board.
Mikal Watt$ still has millions of dollars to give himself in his quest for elective office, still says (and writes) all the wrong things, still has a few minions to do his dirty work for him, and is still going to lose this primary.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Muse at Musings liveblogged Lap Dog Cornyn’s portion of Petraeus’ appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee this past week and noted that he slobbered all over himself praising the surge.
McBlogger at McBlogger goes to the CAMPO meeting on the Phase 2 toll roads and finds lies, damn lies and statistics as well as an Austin City Council Member who seems hellbent on ending his political career. Is resurrection possible? Sure... if you believe McCracken is the second coming. Spoiler alert: McBlogger doesn't.
While on vacation, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs discovered quite a few similarities between the Texas Legislature and the Nevada State Assembly.
Good news brought by TXsharon at Bluedaze: Bush Economy Solves Obesity Problem!
Could Be True at South Texas Chisme notes that the Republican tactics of purging voter rolls, creating barriers to voting, and discouraging new voter registration are moving right along and could get serious in Bexar County.
After the demolition of yet another historic structure in Houston, Charles at Off the Kuff looks at what can be done to abet preservation efforts going forward.
Adam Silva of Three Wise Men, blogging for the UNT Democrats, provides a detailed analysis of competitive U.S. Senate races for 2008.
City life can be complicated, but it includes an awfully lot of conveniences that we take utterly for granted -- as long as they work. In Houston, We Have a Problem, on Texas Kaos, The Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE) invites all of us to get a little taste, so to speak, of what it takes to keep the fourth largest city in the nation running.
WhosPlayin notes that some Republican members of Congress just don't know when to stop digging a hole in continuing to support a failed president.
Since 9/11, an increasingly strident message of xenophobia has seeped into both fringe and mainstream political movements. A new climate of exclusion has formed as a result of this country's heightened anxiety against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Whether or not intended as such, new Texas Progressive Alliance member Xicano Pwr at ¡Para Justicia y Libertad! tells us we are in the midst of a growing culture of hate as the number of hate crimes in this country are on the rise.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the unintended consequences of the 2003 GOP redistricting scheme in Are Democratic Statewide Prospects Improving Because of GOP Gerrymandering?
Refinish69, another recent addition to the TPA, at Doing My Part for the Left examines sex scandals and hypocrites in the Repugnant Party and Texas Stonewall Caucus.
Have Republicans moved in a "ringer" to challenge Chet Edwards in TX-CD 17? Vince addresses that in a post at Capitol Annex.
The Texas Clover Leaf (a new member of the Alliance) notes that Alan Keyes has entered the GOP race for President, but asks if he is actually the Republican's version of Obama.
Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal tells us about the controversy surrounding the preservation of trees at the Trinity Trail in Ft. Worth.
John at Bay Area Houston tells us that Jared Woodfill, chair of he Harris County Republican Party, must think Hispanics are stupid with his recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle "Hispanics can feel right at home in the Texas GOP".
Jack Cluth at The People's Republic of Seabrook notes that it would seem that we've learned nothing from the 60s. Today, in allegedly-enlightened 21st century America, a man or woman can be fired from their job in 31 states for the simple fact of being a homosexual. Regardless of how you feel about the "lifestyle", how can anyone who values liberty and freedom be OK with this...especially with Americans dying in Iraq to "protect and defend our freedom"?
Jaye at Winding Road in Urban Area addresses several things, including machine-gun-toting cops in a 'brain dump' post, The Stream of Consciousness Just Overflowed the Toilet. (Please flush!)
Todd Hill (another new addition to the Texas Progressive Alliance) blogging at Burnt Orange Report tells us all about a North Texas Tribute to Speaker Jim Wright.
Matt at Stop Cornyn tells us how the junior senator from Texas worked to disenfranchise minority voters while he was attorney general.
Don't forget to check out other Texas Progressive Alliance blogs, too: BlueBloggin (new member!), The Agonist, Blue 19th (new member!), In The Pink Texas, Grassroots News U Can Use (new member!), The Caucus Blog (new member!), The Texas Blue (new member!), Casual Soap Box, Common Sense, Dos Centavos, Easter Lemming Liberal News, Feet To Fire, Marc’s Miscellany, Rhetoric & Rhythm, Three Wise Men, Truth Serum Blog, and Wyld Card.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The gazebo (where we had lunch yesterday).
The Card House.
Thunderbird Lodge, as portrayed by William Phillips' painting 'An Evening to Remember' (POV the Card House front door)
Marilyn Monroe talks to Frank Sinatra as an unidentified man stands between them during a party on the set of the musical "Can-Can" in this 1960 photo. Just weeks before her death in 1962, Sinatra planned to marry Monroe "in an effort to save her from herself," according to a biography serialized in London's Daily Mail.
1976 - Left to right: Paul Castellano, Gregory DePalma, Sinatra, Tommy Marson, Carlo Gambino, Aladena Fratianno, Salvatore Spatola, Seated: Joseph Gambino, Richard Fusco
George didn't go across the lake to the Cal-Neva to play cards; they all came to his house. Specifically, his card house. Which was connected to the main house via a 600-foot long tunnel, which is also how he would leave the card game without announcement if he was losing.
Sometimes it was just the boys and the cards, sometimes it was booze and showgirls that boated over from the hotel; occasionally he put out the red light to let the party crew know that his wife was home and not to come over.
George never worked a day in his life. He probably never so much as made toast, since he had butlers and maids and other staff. He didn't like other people very much if they weren't serving him; he bought the 40,000 acres -- including 27 miles along the shore of Lake Tahoe -- in order not to have neighbors. He installed sirens that screamed loudly if boaters on the lake stopped to gaze at his estate.
Rather than attend college he disappointed his parents and ran away to join the Barnum and Bailey Circus, which is how he developed a lifelong passion for animals. His best friend was an African lion, but he also owned an elephant and a polar bear and a cheetah and other exotic wildlife, which had free reign of his place. He lived to to be 87 years old despite the fact that he drank and smoked and caroused through all of it. He did spend his last ten years in a wheelchair because he was afraid to have surgery on the broken leg caused when one of his pet lions fell on him.
Today George's little Thunderbird Lodge is a national historic site, and is maintained by a fully funded preservation society.
Frank Sinatra probably learned how to party from George Whittell, because across the lake he and his Rat Pack managed a few good times. This story is best told by others, so what follows is some disjointed excerpts:
On July 13, 1960, the day Kennedy won the Democratic nomination in Los Angeles, it was announced to the newspapers that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Hank Sincola, a Sinatra pal and business partner in a gossip rag, and Skinny D'Amato, a convicted white slaver, had applied for permission from the state of Nevada to take over the lodge.
What didn't make the papers about the deal, was that Sam Giancana and the Chicago outfit would own a secret percentage in the Cal-Neva and that it was Giancana's influence that persuaded Wingy Grober to sell the place off for the extremely reasonable price of $250,000. What also didn't make the newspapers about the deal, was the FBI assumption that Sinatra was nothing more than a front in the Cal-Neva for New York's mob boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno.
As for Giancana's interest in the money-losing casino, he was probably only in the deal to keep next to Sinatra, who was trying, desperately, to keep next to Kennedy, which everybody in the Chicago outfit wanted.
(O)n opening night, Sinatra's personality guests included Marilyn Monroe, Joe Kennedy and his son John. Also there that weekend was Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Uninvited and hiding up in the hills around the casino lodge, was Hoover's FBI. ...Everything at that link is worth reading. Here's some more from elsewhere:
But Sinatra's troubles with the Cal-Neva weren't over yet. A few days after Anderson was murdered, and one week before her own death, Marilyn Monroe flew to the Cal-Neva at Frank Sinatra's invitation. Sinatra told Monroe that he wanted to discuss their upcoming film together, "What a Way to Go". Monroe didn't want to go, but someone told Marilyn that Bobby Kennedy would be there. It sounded logical to Monroe, since it had been in the papers that the attorney general was in Los Angeles on business.
Sinatra flew Monroe out on his own plane along with Peter Lawford, although the crooner was no longer speaking to Lawford after the Kennedys dumped him, and Lawford's wife, Patricia Kennedy Lawford.
Exactly what happened that weekend at the Cal-Neva, isn't known and may never be known. Louis McWillie, an outfit-related gambler who worked for Sinatra at the Cal-Neva said: "There was more to what happened up there than anybody has ever told. It would have been a big fall for Bobby Kennedy."
What is known is that there was dinner with Sam Giancana, Peter and Pat Lawford, Sinatra and Monroe. Giancana, of course, had no business being in the Cal-Neva since he was listed in the State's black book of persons forbidden to enter a casino, in fact, he was at the top of the list of restricted persons, but, as San Francisco's new columnist Herb Caen said: " I saw Sinatra at the Cal-Neva when Sam Giancana was there. In fact I met Giancana through Frank. He was a typical hood, didn't say much. He wore a hat at the lake, and sat in his little bungalow, receiving people."
During the dinner, Monroe got uncontrollably drunk and was led to the cabin where, while she was passed out, several hookers, male and female, molested her while Sinatra and Giancana watched, with Giancana taking his turn with the actress as well.
While the female prostitutes had their way with Monroe, someone snapped photographs of the entire thing and before the night was over, Sinatra then brought the film to Hollywood photographer Billy Woodfield, and gave him a roll of film to develop in his darkroom.
The next morning, Peter Lawford told Monroe that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles and that he didn't want to see her, speak to her or have any contact with her in the future. When she protested, someone showed her the photographs from the night before. That afternoon, she tried to commit suicide with an overdose of pills and had to have her stomach pumped.
Frank Sinatra and the Mob
A bit from that last:
The doors to the showroom are locked now, the music long since gone. Outside, the mountain air is as clear and sweet as it must have been forty years ago, when this place briefly felt like the centre of the world. Sunlight still sparkles on the lake, although on this afternoon a thin mist veils the far shore, drifting in from some distant forest fire. Mountain jays come and go between the tall pine trees with a flash of blue-green plumage while the dark lines left by speedboats stripe the lake and the unhurried drone of a piston-engined seaplane fills the sky.
This is where a certain idea of America began to come apart, although the young couples don’t know that as they self-park their Chevy pickups and Japanese SUVs under the pines. Carrying their luggage to the entrance of the Cal-Neva Resort, checking in at the desk, their minds are on an act of union. These days, the Cal-Neva specializes in weddings and honeymoons. For their nuptial rites, the couples can choose between a broad terrace, with a white wrought-iron gazebo and a marquee holding about a hundred guests, and a smaller indoor parlour where the chairs are covered in white satin bound with gold sashes. Clustered on the slope beneath the main building, where the pine bluff descends sharply to the water, small wooden bungalows await the honeymooners.
Once this was the setting for a grander dream. It was here, in a location overlooking Lake Tahoe, 8,000 feet above sea level and ringed by the peaks of the High Sierra, that the most celebrated entertainer of his time had glimpsed an illusion. In this retreat, the most glamorous and notorious and powerful figures in America would come together—his friends, under his roof. And that was exactly how it seemed to be, until the autumn evening when he looked across the water at the lights on the southern shore, and knew that the world he had made was over.
Frank Sinatra sang his final encore in the showroom of the Cal-Neva Lodge, as it was then known, on the evening of September 5, 1963. It was the last night of the season, before the place closed up for the winter. Three years earlier he had bought a share of the hotel and its casino, and he had worked hard and put a great deal of money—some of it his own—into improving its features, trying to create an environment in which he could entertain his friends and attract customers who wanted to share a life in the upper atmosphere. The place had a history, even then. Jack Kennedy knew it well; his father had supplied liquor to a previous owner, and received hospitality for himself and his family in return. Marilyn Monroe had been there many times, and would later stay there the weekend before her death, when Sinatra gave her sanctuary while she avoided an ex-husband. Sam Giancana, the boss of the Chicago Mafia, who shared a girlfriend with Kennedy, was a silent partner in the syndicate which, with Sinatra as its front man, had taken control of the hotel in 1960.
All the old joints in Vegas that the mob owned and the Rat Pack sang at are gone -- blown up, torn down, paved over. The Cal-Neva however still stands, a silent sentinel on the lake, monument to a by-gone era.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The names of dozens of precious minerals and ores taken out from beneath the state's soil and mountains, and the scenes portraying their excavation and commercial employment, are displayed in a mural ribbon that adorns the top of each hallway in the old Capitol building. There don't seem to be any pictures of the thousands of abandoned mines that litter Nevada's landscape, still claiming lives of curiosity-seekers who venture in and are suffocated by methane (the least painless of the possible and various accidental deaths).
What also gets no tribute in art in the halls of government is the state's current revenue stream, gaming. There are casinos large and small, plush and dingy, within walking distance up and down the street from the Capitol, the state supreme court building and the state assembly. Max Baer, whose singular claim to fame was portraying the ignoramus Jethro Bodine, nephew of hayseed-turned-oil tycoon Jed Clampett in TV's "Beverly Hillbillies", is building an new casino on the outskirts of Carson City themed after the television show. It is to feature a two-hundred-foot oil derrick as landmark.
No word on whether the enterprise will include modern-day salutes to US soldiers killed in Bush's War for Oil, to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children who have died in the bombings and violence, or even a nod to American petroleum consumption (say, a bigger-than-lifesize Hummer tearing up the suburban landscape). My guess is no.
Across the street from the Nugget Casino, where our tour bus dropped us yesterday afternoon (with free tickets for the evening buffet) is the Nevada state museum, housed in the old US Mint building. Did you know Carson City minted coinage for a few years in the 1960's? I didn't, but most numismatics know if you have a coin with "CC" near the president's head then you've got a rare and worthy collectible.
Much like the Texas Legislature, Nevada's 21 senators and 42 state assemblymen and women meet in the winter and spring of odd-numbered years, but Texans convene for 180 days while Nevadans gather for just 120. Like their Lone Star peers, they are paid small stipends and as such most of the members have comfortable incomes from primary employment and entrepreneurship. They also spend the first month reading proclamations and bestowing honoraria on constituents, semi-celebrities and causes, and the last month furiously writing, amending, and voting on thousands of pieces of legislation, leaving much of the work to die at the end of their session. They are also frequently summoned into special session to address unfinished business or pet concerns of the governor (and corporate lobbyists).
The speaker of the Nevada state assembly is a woman, as is the state's attorney general. Nevada, like so many other Western states, is purple and trending blue, in their case because of the economic growth from Californians fleeing high taxes and congestion, a burgeoning population of Latino immigrants, and the organization of the state's casino laborers. The influence of Nevada's early primary election day -- January 19, between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary --was initially expected to have greater influence on the Democratic nominee's selection, but it appears that will be diminished because of the land rush by other states to move up their presidential primaries to Feb. 5th, creating a quasi-national primary on that day.
Today: a cruise across the lake to the North shore to see the old Cal-Neva resort hotel, where Frank and Dean and the rest of the Rat Pack palled around for a few years in the '60's, and the Thunderbird Lodge.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The biggest problem in this grubstake paradise was the sticky blue-gray mud that clung to picks and shovels. When the mud was assayed, it proved to be silver ore worth over $2,000 a ton -- in 1859 dollars! Gold mixed with high quality silver ore was recovered in quantities large enough to catch the eye of President Abe Lincoln. He needed the gold and silver to keep the Union solvent during the Civil War. On October 31, 1864 Lincoln made Nevada a state although it did not contain enough people to constitutionally authorize statehood.
The resulting boom turned "Ol' Virginny Town" into Virginia City, the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco; and the grubby prospectors into instant millionaires who built mansions, imported furniture and fashions from Europe and the Orient, and financed the Civil War. With the gold and silver came the building of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, which ran from Reno to Carson City to Virginia City and later to Minden. The investments made in mining on the Comstock Lode in the 1860's, 1870's and 1880's fueled the building of San Francisco. William Ralston and Charles Crocker, founders of the Bank of California, made their money in Virginia City. Names like Leland Stanford, George Hearst, John Mackay, William Flood and many others made their fortunes in Comstock mining.
At the peak of its glory, Virginia City was a boisterous town with something going on 24 hours a day both above and below ground for its nearly 30,000 residents. There were visiting celebrities, Shakespeare plays, opium dens, newspapers, competing fire companies, fraternal organizations, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, and the first Miner's Union in the U.S. The International Hotel was six stories high and boasted the West's first elevator, called a "rising room".
Mark Twain got his start as a writer at the local newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise. Here's one of his articles, entitled "Dead Indian Found in Water Tank", and also excerpted, the Stockbroker's Prayer:
Our father Mammon, who art in the Comstock, bully is thy name; let thy dividends come, and stock go up, in California as in Washoe. Give us this day our daily commissions; forgive us our swindles as we hope to get even on those who have swindled us. Unlead us not into temptation of promising wildcat; deliver us from lawsuits; for thine is the main Comstock, the black sulphurets and the wire silver, from wallrock to wallrock, you bet!
More as I can get to it, mostly about Nevada.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
On Sept. 11, Jacob Sundberg of San Antonio has pledged to make eye contact and smile at everyone he meets. Kaitlin Ulrich will bring goody baskets to the police and fire departments in and around Philadelphia. And 100 volunteers from New York –- 9/11 firefighters and family members among them –- are going to Groesbeck, Texas, to rebuild a house destroyed by a tornado last December.
This is a minute sampling of the hundreds of thousands of people who have pledged to memorialize those killed on 9/11 by doing something good for others.
The heroic acts of all those killed trying to save others that September morning has spawned a growing grass-roots movement. The goal is to ensure that future generations remember not just the horror of the attacks, but also the extraordinary outpouring of humanity during the days, weeks, and months that followed."It was the worst possible day imaginable, and in some ways, a remarkable day, too, in the way in which people responded," says David Paine, cofounder of myGoodDeed.org. "We need to rekindle the way we came together in the spirit of 9/11: It would be almost as much a tragedy to lose that lesson.
No more snark today. Must go out and find a Good Samaritan opportunity.
Won't you join me?
John Edwards won Texas. Those results mirror high-profile national online polling among the Democratic netroots. And that's beginning to translate into polling strength offline as well.
Four months before the first votes get cast -- be they in Iowa or New Hampshire or somewhere else -- the front-running Clinton may have already peaked. If Biden and Dodd were to withdraw tomorrow, could she count on their supporters joining her? Maybe. What about Bill Richardson? When he finally concedes (all due respect to mi hermano Stace) he's almost certainly going to endorse her, and not just because he wants to be her running mate.
A more intriguing question is: what if Clinton does get the nod and then Dennis Kucinich -- or better yet, Edwards -- runs as an independent? A Green, perhaps?
With Frederick of Hollywood assuming a lead among the fractured Republicans jostling to bear the elephantine standard, is a challenge from the far right in the offing (Tancreepo or Dunkin' Hunter on a rabid-base issue like immigration)?
Or better yet: what about a challenge from the left of the right -- Ron Paul running as a Libertarian? Remember he has previously been their presidential nominee once before.
What if our choices in November of 2008 were, say, Clinton/Richardson, Edwards/Kucinich, Thompson/Tommy Franks and Ron Paul/Michael Badnarik (the 2004 Lib nominee)?
Could we all get a little excited about an election like that?
RG Ratcliffe wrote this, and several of my blog brethren responded to it (some of us pretty irritated, some of us less so). A couple on our side even shot their pots at us (but one of them apologized for reacting in haste).
Then Rick Noriega got on the phone with us -- not me, again -- and also got online over here and explained the context of the remarks. And apologized for making them.
Oh, and RG responded to our response. All the while -- over the past 36 hours or so -- I was busy with business and preparing for our fall vacation. So all I managed to do was dash off a note to the Noriega campaign Sunday afternoon, to which I received an almost immediate and satisfactory response. So I missed the whole thing, dammit.
But I do have time for a condensed version of the brouhaha, so here's the abridged Ratcliffe:
I allowed my good name and respected reputation to be used like a dishrag by an operative of the Mikal Watts campaign, but if I were to admit that, then I would lose the remaining shredded tatters of my credibility .... therefore, I'll laugh the whole thing off by accusing bloggers of being thin-skinned while reframing my article as a service to the readers of the the Chronic and the Express-Snooze, which are legion compared to those DFHs who blog in their underwear.
Oh yes, and also in dedicated service to the unwashed masses who haven't yet grasped the intricacies of the "Internets" and how it is used for political organizing.
Don't be prickly about the criticism, RG. It's just part of the game.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Do You Ever Feel Like Cassandra?
Port Arthur gets shipped several hundred thousand gallons of a waste byproduct of the chemical nerve agent VX for incineration, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reveals that neither a federal judge nor the TCEQ nor Rick Perry did anything to stop it.
Over at Three Wise Men, Nat-Wu notes that whether or homosexuality is a choice or not, everyone deserves the same rights.
Blogging at the University of North Texas Democrats' site, Adam Silva of Three Wise Men notes that pundits are over-analyzing polls in the 2008 presidential race.
Hal at Half Empty blogs about some hot water Mikal Watts got into over a letter he wrote to another attorney talking about contributions to judges.
Stace Medellin at Dos Centavos reports on a recent Democratic event held in Kingwood. Along with several candidates running in the 2007 Houston city council election, the event attracted several judicial office-seekers running in 2008, including Texas Supreme Court Place 8 candidate Judge Susan Criss.
In one of his information-packed open threads on Texas Kaos, lightseeker notes that T Boone Pickens is stacking the deck in Roberts County to suck up water rights.
McBlogger has an update on the toll roads in the Austin area and urges those on CAMPO to think about what they are doing carefully, advising them to not burden taxpayers with the most expensive method of financing road construction.
WCNews at Eye on Williamson wonders if the "conservative" WCGOP and Craddick are going soft. Will they let Rep. Mike Krusee go without a primary challenge from the right, in Will Craddick Let Krusee Go Unpunished?
At Bluedaze, TXsharon tell us about yet Another Republican Sexual Pervert.
Off the Kuff takes a look at the upcoming battle for Harris County DA between incumbent Chuck Rosenthal and former HPD Chief C.O. Bradford.
Bradley Bowen of North Texas Liberal tells us about the excitement at a Hillary Clinton event in DC -- the crowd was moved and motivated.
Could Be True at South Texas Chisme notes that a polluting refiner gets only a teeny, teeny, tiny slap on wrist. Oh, why did they even bother. Just taking the time of a minimum wage clerk to file the darn thing would cost more than the fine does.
Vince at Capitol Annex discusses the race of a "Craddick D" down in HD-40 (Aaron Pena) and offers his opinions on the blogging legislator's chances in a contested primary.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Update: Melissa Noriega will be standing in for her husband, who'll be out of town at another event.