Thursday, February 28, 2008

TX exit poll: Clinton 41, Obama 38

Other 17% (presumably Edwards, Dodd, Richardson, and other presidential candidates who have suspended campaigns but remain on the Texas ballot) and Undecided 4%.

This outfit -- People Calling People/Texas Voyager (.pdf, scroll to bottom) -- used an automated interactive call to 408 respondents, self-declared Democrats who have already voted in the March 4 primary. The MoE is 4.85%, and calls were conducted between 6 and 9 p.m. on the evenings of February 26 and 27.

Neither Kuffner nor BOR, the real gurus for these sorts of numbers, appear to have blogged this yet so opinions as to validity, integrity and so on I'll leave to them and similar experts as to whether or not this is good data.

It seems to contradict the supposition that the "surge x 10" of early voting is driven by the Obama campaign. I suppose we will have to wait and see.

Update: That 17% 'other' -- as well as the 4% undecided -- calls into question the accuracy of an exit poll, particularly one in which the participants declare as having voted to an auto-dialer. K-T at BOR mentions that the poll doesn't appear in the list, or the Real Clear Politics aggregate.

Update (2/29): Kuffner -- with the assist from John Zogby -- makes it make a little more sense.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gene Kelly for Senate

Not an endorsement. The reclusive perennial candidate finally has a website:

I did, however, volunteer to work on his outreach campaign. Here's a snapshot of me providing my resume':

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To Beaumont to see Rick Noriega today

and a few clients. Light posting ahead to Election Day. Perhaps if the Ohio debate amounts to something besides more mud slung from Mrs. Clinton I'll have something to say, otherwise I'll leave you to play in other peoples' sandboxes for awhile.

Update (2/27) Here's video. Here's another. See if you can spot me.

Update II (2/27): Join me in calling on Senator Box Turtle to match Noriega and release his military records.

Oh yeah ... Student deferments from 1971 aren't actually "military" records. My bad.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The eventual post-mortem on the Clinton campaign

That damned New York Times, having "destroyed" one Maverick, turns its vulturous eyes toward the only other inevitable loser still standing:

There is a widespread feeling among donors and some advisers, though, that a comeback this time may be improbable. Her advisers said internal polls showed a very tough race to win the Texas primary — a contest that no less than Mr. Clinton has said is a “must win.” And while advisers are drawing some hope from Mrs. Clinton’s indefatigable nature, some are burning out.

Morale is low. After 13 months of dawn-to-dark seven-day weeks, the staff is exhausted. Some have taken to going home early — 9 p.m. — turning off their BlackBerrys, and polishing off bottles of wine, several senior staff members said.

Some advisers have been heard yelling at close friends and colleagues. In a much-reported incident, Mr. Penn and the campaign advertising chief, Mandy Grunwald, had a screaming match over strategy recently that prompted another senior aide, Guy Cecil, to leave the room. “I have work to do — you’re acting like kids,” Mr. Cecil said, according to three people in the room.

Others have taken several days off, despite it being crunch time. Some have grown depressed, be it over Mr. Obama’s momentum, the attacks on the campaign’s management from outside critics or their view that the news media has been much rougher on Mrs. Clinton than on Mr. Obama.

And some of her major fund-raisers have begun playing down their roles, asking reporters to refer to them simply as “donors,” to try to rein in their image as unfailingly loyal to the Clintons.

I know the feeling. I went through it with John Edwards, from the morning after the Iowa caucuses to the day in New Orleans when he finally pulled the plug. In between I donated hundreds as part of a fundraiser the campaign itself never acknowledged, blogged like hell, and kept attending meetings and making phone calls though it was painfully obvious that the miracle was not going to materialize.

I did all that mostly because I thought Edwards was the best progressive, populist and electable candidate running, but I also did it because the thought of a Clinton nomination weighed so heavily on my mind and heart for at least a year that it felt like a case of influenza. The sense of imminent relief I feel just knowing that a concession speech is coming some time soon must be matched by a similar feeling of dread and disillusionment in those that have supported and believed in the Clintons.

The article goes on ...

Engaging in hindsight, several advisers have now concluded that they were not smart to use former President Bill Clinton as much as they did, that “his presence, aura and legacy caused national fatigue with the Clintons,” in the words of one senior adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to assess the campaign candidly.

Yet even today -- well, yesterday and tomorrow -- he's out here stumping away. For her part, Hillary's tried nice, she's tried nasty, now she's trying shame and sarcasm as her flailing, thrashing presidential aspirations swirl the drain, soon to vanish out of sight.

I think the interesting part is that the Clintons looked at some polling and came to the conclusion that they were overwhelmingly popular with Democrats. They weren't. The primary reason for that is because the core of the party between presidential elections -- call them the "grassroots", or "liberal activists" or whatever you wish -- had no connection to the conservative, corporate Clintons that fleshed themselves out from the DLC model in the wake of their departure from the White House in January 2001. These progressives resented the inevitability meme that accessorized Hillary's run for the Senate and subsequent preparations for 2008. Secondly, while many of these loyal Democrats were incensed by Kenneth Starr and the impeachment proceedings (count me as one), they were even more exhausted by it. Third, hindsight doesn't make the Clintons look better, but worse; the Clintons gave us NAFTA. It was Bill Clinton that said the war in Iraq was a good idea and it was Hillary Clinton that voted for it. It was Bill who spent the Dubya years globetrotting with Poppy instead of standing up for the Constitution, the rule of law, and global peacemaking rather than war-mongering.

The Clintons should have taken it as a sign when Connecticut Democrats kicked the 2000 vice-presidential nominee clean out of the party in 2006. The forthcoming progressive years aren't going to have much nostalgia for the leaders of yesterday. (This same thing happened, of course, to Edward Kennedy in the Seventies and Eighties, and the Clintons were -- eventually, in the Nineties -- the beneficiaries.)

Hillary Clinton ran a very good campaign in many respects. She was excellent in all but one of nineteen debates. She was solid, if lacking some of her opponent's evangelical zeal, in town hall meetings. She was well-versed on the facts and detailed in the policy. The Austin debate last week was her best moment. She mixed attack dog -- that cringe-worthy "Xerox" throw-away line -- with den mother, closing on a standing-ovation-worthy emotional appeal that proved effective for her in New Hampshire. But there just isn't another electoral rabbit left to pull out of the top hat.

Hillary Clinton isn't losing because she isn't a good politician. She is losing because the party wants something else ... the country wants something else. She is also losing, as suggested by those unnamed senior advisers above, because Bill Clinton simply isn't very popular any more when it comes right down to it. Every time he showed up in this campaign Hillary took a little bit of a hit. The nostalgia for Bill has been mostly relegated to white women young and middling reliving the mid-Nineties -- or maybe the Eighties, depending on the generation -- when rock stars got undergarments thrown at them onstage. The sad truth is that very few people were comforted by the prospect of the Big Dog, as Mitt Romney put it, "running around the West Wing with nothing to do."

Yes, she also lost because Obama's campaign outsmarted and outworked hers by running a 50-state ground strategy. He was like Muhammed Ali rope-a-doping Clinton's George Foreman.

And where did all the Clintons' money go?

Regardless, I can't wait for it to be over. I'm anxious to begin a totally new and fresh era, a new age of progressivism, accompanied by a super-majority -- somewhere from thirty to sixty new Democrats in the House of Representatives -- and even perhaps, dare we dream, a Senate that will no longer capitulate to fear of conservative boogeymen.

Well, maybe that last is a stretch ...

The Weekly Wrangle

This week's Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up comes exactly one week and one day before the all-important Texas prima-caucus. Have you voted yet? Did you get your voter registration card stamped if you have, or a "receipt" so that you can attend the caucus on the evening of Election Day? Avoid the long lines on March 4 and vote early this week. The round-up is compiled, as it nearly always is, by Vince from Capitol Annex.

TXsharon has a broken modem so Bluedaze is suffering, but she managed to post about the RRC's approval of Atmos Energy's extravagant spending -- bend over Texans. Also read about how Phil King meets karma in Wise County and hear the horrendous sounds of the Barnett Shale.

Off the Kuff offers his incomplete list of endorsements for the Democratic primaries, and for his birthday rounds up his complete list of candidate interviews.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News has blogged an eventful week or two climaxing with Paul Burka becoming a believer in the Obama Borg -- Democrats can take back Texas. Wow.

Over at McBlogger Mayor McSleaze commemorates Kirk Watson's deer-in-the-headlights moment while McBlogger, beverage in hand, watches the debate and puts the smackdown on wingnuts still drinking the school voucher Kool-Aid.

The Texas Cloverleaf makes it back safely from Oklahoma City and discusses the national Stonewall Democrats meeting there, as well as the upcoming LGBT Presidential Town Hall in Dallas on Monday night.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had a report on Obama's visit to Houston last Tuesday, and also noted the end of the Fidel Castro era in Cuba. Open Source Dem had part three of his "Texas in Play" series, entitled "Jim Crow Lives".

Hal, who writes Half Empty, went to early vote last Wednesday and has some poll observations and some Fort Bend County stats.

Bill Howell of StoutDemBlog reminds us of some Texas election history that is relevant for this year's Democratic Primary, in Don't Be Confused By Names.

Muse was at the Bill Clinton fundraiser in Houston this week where she fulfilled a lifelong dream to touch him –- handshake! She notes that not all college students are for Obama –- witness the Daily Texan endorsement for Hillary. And she receives an email where Obama encourages Republicans to crash the Democratic primary, to vote against the bad, scary Hillary. More Hillary stuff coming this week on musings!

WhosPlayin tries to explain the Obama movement, and has a rundown of which Texas blogs are endorsing Clinton or Obama.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the Texas Democratic Party has instructed county and precinct officials not to interpret election results for the media or political campaigns, and asks if national Democrats will still respect us (or call or visit) after March 4.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Funnies (no cartoons)

Spike Lee at the Oscars, LHAO at Jon Stewart, who said: "Usually when we have a woman and a black man as the two leading candidates for President of the United States, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty."

"The band Abba wants John McCain to stop using their songs at his campaign rallies. Yeah. When asked about it, McCain said, 'Who cares about Abba? Kids today are into the Bee Gees.'" -- Conan O'Brien

"Experts believe that now that Fidel has resigned, he will either be succeeded by his brother, Raul, or by his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro." -- David Letterman

"And President Bush is now pushing Congress to expand the government's ability to spy on Americans now that the current phone tap bill has expired. In fact, to gain support for a new spying bill, they're bringing in coach Bill Belichick. Yeah. They are going to rename it the New England Patriot Act." -- Jay Leno

"The founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream are endorsing Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton, which makes sense because Baracky Road is a catchier name for an ice cream than Pantsuits and Cream." --Conan O'Brien

"Have you been watching the Roger Clemens congressional hearings? He denies being injected by his trainer. But what I thought was interesting was every time they mentioned 'buttocks,' Sen. Larry Craig swooned." -- David Letterman

Sunday Evening Funnies

Friday, February 22, 2008

Aaron Peña is a putz.

Unbelievable, even for a duplicitous weasel like him:

One of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters in the Rio Grande Valley appeared at a Barack Obama rally Friday and said the presidential primary was the Illinois senator’s race to lose.

State Rep. Aaron Peña, who, in print and on TV has been a leading outreach activist in the Valley for Clinton, shocked many Friday morning when he sat down with his family in the stands behind the stage at an Obama rally at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Guardian video-journalists were sitting opposite in the press riser. Contacted by phone while he waited for Obama to arrive, Peña told the Guardian he was at the event to see history being made.

“First of all my son, Aaron Peña III, is working for the Obama campaign. Second, I am here with my family to see history being made,” Peña said. ...

Asked if he had now flipped over to Obama, Peña said: “I will maintain my commitment but it appears to me that the decision will be made by the public on March 4. I made a commitment to Hillary Clinton and I must maintain it. I gave my word. However, as an observer, it appears to be increasingly evident who is going to win.”

A switch by Peña to the Obama camp will come as a major disappointment to Clinton and her campaign in Texas. Clinton introduced Peña at a rally in McAllen last week.

I'm obviously no supporter of Senator Clinton's but this is just ridiculously sorry of Peña. He's shown more lasting support for Tom Craddick. He could have just switched his endorsement, or let his family go to the Obama rally without him, or re-declare himself "undecided" and any of those would've looked less stupid than sitting in the stands behind Barack Obama after standing in a crowd of Hillary supporters in the same week.

Aaron Peña is in a contested primary for the HD-40 seat with Eddie Saenz, who would be a much more effective representative in the Texas House.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jim Crow lives

Once again the searing commentary on state and county political machinations, along with the biting wit, of Open Source Dem:


Election officials at early voting in Harris County are being told by the GOP County Clerk to ration convention tickets -- or caucus slips, as they are known -- as well as to stamp voter registration certificates with party affiliation only optionally. The hapless Democratic primary director has to settle for assurances that the Republican Clerk will get the Hart InterCivic company to print some more slips ... eventually. ;-)

Note: These dinky slips and stamps are all there is in the way of party credentials. They are quite deliberately shabby and insecure so the party establishment can discriminate in admitting or ejecting Democrats from the conventions, but look the other way at police informants and agents provocateur planted in the Democratic conventions by the GOP. Texas law provides for “closed primaries” but bi-partisan coalitions in Austin and Houston – the establishments of both parties, lawyers mostly – make sure not to enforce or administer that part of the law. This is legalism: clerical democracy – an oxymoron – not republican democracy.

This will frustrate the CLINTON campaign in Harris County (if there actually is one) but thwart the OBAMA campaign even more. The deception, confusion, and time-wasting in primary elections and three levels of caucus/convention are no accident.

The Democratic Party state and county chairs assiduously avoid controversy with GOP county and state officials by deferring to them abjectly and by relying exclusively on the closely held, now GOP-controlled Hart firm to micromanage Texas election law, logistics, and technology since the heyday of segregation. In Harris County, the Democratic Party does not contract with the county to conduct the Democratic primary.

There is no fund, no contract. The Republican County Clerk runs the Democratic primary and counts on the Democratic county chairman to keep quiet about it.

“The Way We’ve Always Done It!”

And, of course, neither the voter registration card (still in the form of a poll tax receipt) nor the caucus slip gives a Democratic voter the least clue when and where precinct conventions will be held.

This would be a small matter were it not just one of myriad impediments to republican democracy within the Texas Democratic Party that the establishment has created and carefully maintained for over a century. Most recently, the cringing party leaders gifted the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature with custody of the Jim Crow-vintage Texas Election Code and punted lawyer-mediated “civil rights” gestures to the GOP-controlled Department of Justice.

Basically we have a competition here in Harris County within the Democratic Party between a low turnout, self-perpetuating party establishment which routinely collaborates with the GOP in county and state government to tend the government concessions that yield large campaign donations and to protect incumbent “CRADDICK Democrats”, and now to support the DLC/CLINTON candidacy ...

... versus the "high-information" OBAMA campaign, which could be sabotaged and is already clearly bewildered by the state party establishment and its perversely complex “prima-caucus” system -- a kludge, actually.

This is a “class war” (the party aristocracy and their mercenary pimp-consultants within the Democratic Party versus bourgeois volunteer “envelope stuffers”, and now the “net-roots”) as described here and here by Chris BOWERS at Open Left:

Superdelegate endorsements (aristocratic) Caucus support (bourgeois):

Clinton: 240 (60%) Obama: 278 delegates (65%)
Obama: 162.5 (40%) Clinton: 151 delegates (35%)

Contributions from large donors Contributions from small donors
(as of 12/31, aristocratic): (as of 12/31, bourgeois):

Clinton: $49.4M Obama: $31.9M
Obama: $33.2M Clinton: $13.8M

This is not “class war” as a Marxist would use the term. It is the old Federalist-Whig versus Republican-Democrat division in American politics since 1800, and as manifested by a Jim Crow coalition in Washington and Austin between “Moderate Republicans” and “Conservative Democrats” since 1874.

“Jes’ He’p Ever’body!”

Without regard to the personal merits of either Hillary CLINTON or Barack OBAMA, the challenge to Texas Democrats -- other than about 200 of the party’s ruling elite -- is to overthow the party establishment in convention and to repeal the last vestiges of Jim Crow starting with the absurd party rules! This is in the interest of both candidates. Remember, the party elite would rather lose the election in November than lose control of the state or county party, and they have done exactly that again and again, consistently:

Texas is a battleground state with a latent Democratic majority and has been since at least 2000. Harris County is damn nearly the 25th largest blue state in its own right. And we will or will not elect the next President of the United States depending on the state and county political mobilization -- aka Get Out The Vote. Only the Democratic Party in Texas does not have a Get Out the Vote capability or interest. The party is optimized for (a) protecting corrupt incumbents and (b) sharing power in Austin and other large cities with the GOP. That is the Jim Crow coalition today. It used to be notorious for overt racism. Now it just deals in racial patronage. But Jim Crow was always about economic discrimination and privilege, especially within the Democratic Party.

So the main difference between Texas and Ohio is our cornpone party establishment: straight out of the latest Grisham novel set in Mississippi, or “Texas with bad roads”, as Molly IVINS might quip. But that will shortly be the responsibility of Democratic state convention delegates.

Those delegates in convention are the highest authority in this party, not the party elite.

Delegates will be deceived, confused, and have their time wasted by the party elite through their control of the county and state party apparatus. But the bourgeois can and should defeat the clerical aristocracy of this party. The Texas Democratic elites will claim that they are only advocates for the "poor, pitiful (fill in the blank)" and try to shame or intimidate the delegates who pay their own way to the convention and do not bill by the hour or collect contingent fees like lawyers.

But, in convention, all Democrats -- for two days -- are equal.

Note: The convention convenes the afternoon of Thursday, 4 June 2008. But, the state party tells delegates to show up the next afternoon after various tricks and traps to protect the incumbent party officials are in place.

The party aristocracy controls the microphones, the walkie-talkies, and the mumbo-jumbo. But, 6,000 delegates ought to be able to defeat about 200 aristocrats, a few dozen mercenary pimp-consultants, and maybe 600 sycophantic hangers-on in convention before they can sabotage both campaigns, squander our money, and lose yet another general election.

There will be a “Coalition for Change” challenging the party elite in convention.

Both CLINTON and OBAMA supporters should get behind it. From March to June, this populist coalition will make the difference between real conventions and a mock beauty pageant. From June to November, it will make the difference between a real party and keeping Texas a red state run by a Jim Crow coalition.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain had an affair?

At his age? With a wife as cute as this?

Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, in his offices and aboard a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

Maverick is on the verge of clinching the nomination, and now there's a bimbo eruption?

I'm guessing this won't amount to much, but still.

McCain had a lobbyist girlfriend when he was in his mid-sixties?

Say what you want about the ethical lapse or the appearance of corruption, but ... McCain had a chippy on the side? That is just remarkable. Viagra truly is a wonder drug.

Update: Scout Finch ...

Regardless of whether they were having an intimate affair or not, didn't John McCain realize that it was inappropriate for a telecommunications lobbyist to be "turning up with him at fund-raisers, in his offices and aboard a client’s corporate jet?" How could he not realize how inappropriate that is on a variety of levels? But this isn't the first time that John McCain used poor judgement when it comes to lobbyists. And it wouldn't be the first time (by his own admission) that he cheated on his wife. He married his current wife, Cindy, only one month after he divorced his first wife. ...

It seems that poor judgement is a theme in John McCain's life. This story is bad for him from so many angles. I'm not sure if McCain survives this one. Speculation about an affair is one thing, but an intimate relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist? Not smart. Not smart at all.

And somewhere Mike Huckabee is smiling. Stay tuned.


"We do know this, Houston: The change we seek is still months away and we need the good people of Texas to get there," Obama said. "If we're blessed and honored to win the nomination, then we're going to need you to help win the election in November."

We rode the train downtown and stood for an hour in one of two lines that snaked along the front, around the corner, and down the side of Toyota Center, but my feet were hurting and my blood sugar low so we stepped out of line about 7 p.m., walked over to the BUS, ate, and went home.

The audience of approximately 19,000, which had waited hours for him to speak, drowned Obama out time and again as he described his vision of change in America and called Washington a place "where good ideas go to die." The crowd cheered and chanted Obama's battle cry of "Yes, we can!"

He promised the crowd he will end predatory lending practices that contributed to the national mortgage lending crisis. He said he will end lobby influence in Washington. And he said he will replace tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations that ship jobs overseas with tax cuts for the middle class.

Obama also said he wants to reform the immigration system. He has promised to bring those who are productive workers onto the path to citizenship while punishing employers who hire illegal workers.

"If you are ready for a change, we can stop using immigration as a political football," he said.

Obama's speech began about 8:40 p.m. and lasted for 45 minutes; except for the list of locals whom he thanked and a brief description from the card given to all inside describing the complicated Texas prima-caucus, he spoke without notes or teleprompter. Here's the first half:

Oh yeah, about that early voting that started yesterday:

By the end of the day, 9,233 ballots were cast in the Democratic primary; 2,914 in the Republican, said Harris County Clerk's spokesman Hector de Leon. First-day totals for early voting in the 2004 presidential primary totaled 849 in the Democratic contests and 678 in the Republican.

I put out signs at 5:30 a.m. at my EV poll -- Fiesta Mart, at the intersection of OST and Kirby, in the shadow of Reliant Stadium -- and returned to vote about 10 a.m., after my doctor's appointment. There were about twenty e-Slates available but only half a dozen or so occupied; the bottleneck was at sign-in, where the lines were two and three deep. None of the registrars were offering to stamp voter registration cards or offering "receipts" for attending the March 4 caucuses, and when I asked to have my card stamped, the pad was so dry that my "Democratic" stamp was barely readable. Not from overuse, either.

Not the sort of difficulty that should be happening on the first day of voting.

We got home about 8 p.m., turned on the teevee to see if they had called Wisconsin, and watched Obama give that speech. Jeffrey Toobin of CNN declared it "too long".

Go on over to FOX, Jeff. Douchesack.

The final noteworthy event of the evening was Austin's Kirk Watson proving to be an embarrassment to himself, and pretty much all of us in Texas, by failing to name a legislative accomplishment of Obama's when challenged by Tweety the Screamer Chris Matthews of MSNBC. Keith Olbermann tried to save Watson by pulling hard on Matthews' leash, but the cause was long lost by that time.

Other than that, a good time was had by all.

Oh yeah: Bill Clinton was downtown too.

Update: Watson has some answers now. Update (2/21): More photos inside and outside of Toyota Center here and here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Will the squishy centrists abandon Obama?

No. At least not enough of them to matter. But that doesn't stop Froma Harrop from advancing the false premise. After citing a couple of her friends as evidence, there's this:

The notion that many Clinton voters cannot be easily transferred to Obama contradicts much "expert" opinion. But a Super Tuesday exit poll suggested there is something to it. While 52 percent of Obama's supporters were amenable to a Clinton candidacy, only 49 percent of Clinton voters said they'd be happy with the Illinois senator, according to the survey by Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

A laughably ludicrous interpretation of that poll, considering that the margin of error is great enough to flip it the other way. The actual scientific polling suggests precisely the opposite, in fact: Obama edges McCain while Clinton trails badly. Presumably he does so with a majority of self-described Democratic "moderates". Either that, or he's sweeping independents and conservatives. So with that much faulty thinking it's no wonder she arrives at this conclusion:

What Democrats must understand is that their moderates now have another candidate to consider. And this slice of the electorate is big enough and grumpy enough to swing a general election to John McCain.

No, it isn't. And whatever the amount is, it has already been overcome by the legions of new and mobilized young and minority voters, as well as by conservatives making the switch from Republican primary voter to Democratic. A much more obvious trend verified by actual turnout, if Ms. Harrop had bothered to look at, you know, results of states that have already voted.

Froma, if you want to do a column based on anecdotal evidence then let's hear about the effect of Hillary Clinton at the top of the November ticket on downballot Democrats. Because that evidence is overwhelming.

As for mushy "centrists" and "moderates", Jim Hightower said it best: "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

Comandante en Jefe no mas

Regime change is official in Havana:

An ailing Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president Tuesday after nearly a half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when the new parliament meets Sunday.

(photo inset: Fidel Castro in Houston, April 1959. Courtesy Houston Chronicle.)

"I will not aspire to nor accept -- I repeat, I will not aspire to nor accept -- the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief," read a letter signed by Castro published early Tuesday in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma.

The announcement effectively ends the rule of the 81-year-old Castro after almost 50 years, positioning his 76-year-old brother Raul for permanent succession to the presidency. Fidel Castro temporarily ceded his powers to his brother on July 31, 2006, when he announced that he had undergone intestinal surgery.

Since then, the elder Castro has not been seen in public, appearing only sporadically in official photographs and videotapes and publishing dense essays about mostly international themes as his younger brother has consolidated his rule.

Fidel is the same age as my mother-in-law, and both are frail and ailing. Raul is widely rumored to be maricon, though he has a daughter placed in Cuban government. Raul's wife Vilma Espin, who was instrumental in decriminalizing homosexuality in Cuba in 1979, died last June at the age of 77.

Fidel in 1959 in the Sierra Maestro mountains of Cuba.

Oh look, dipwads: a picture of Che. Why don't you call me a socialist?

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Weekly Wrangle

Time for the day-before-early-voting-begins edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly blog round-up, compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Burnt Orange Report is covering all kinds of races this week. In addition to their notable endorsement of Obama and analysis of how he can win and his presidential primary poll numbers, Matt Glazer has reported that state rep. Kino Flores has some ethics violation troubles even beyond the $50,000 he received from Craddick supporters.

Eye On Williamson has two posts on the upcoming presidential primary in Texas: Why I'm for Barack Obama and Barack can seal the deal in Williamson County. And locally, The silly season is upon us -- the WCGOP machine makes its choice.

TXsharon at Bluedaze, while not a football fan, reports on illegal gifts of Super Bowl tickets to Phil King and Michael Williams. Considering that the most recent pipeline explosion sent flames 600 -700 feet into the air, we need a Railroad Commissioner without a conflict of interest making decisions that will keep Texans safe.

WhosPlayin endorsed Obama for President and Aimlessness thinks Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia needs to go back to law school and get a refresher course on the U.S. Constitution. Talk about your "tortured" logic.

Musings endorses Hillary Clinton for President, citing her toughness, service, compassion, ability to work across the aisle and her solutions-oriented approach to governing as reasons why she is the choice for a new direction in Washington.

The Texas Cloverleaf digs up a report by the GAO that toll road public-private partnerships might not be the best thing for taxpayers. Concurrently, a new state rail system venture is brought back into the public spotlight in Texas.

The Texas Cloverleaf gets its hide chapped when the Dallas Morning News endorses the primary opponent of Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. The endorsement is destroyed in typical Cloverleaf fashion.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme wonders if James Leininger is giving up the fight for school vouchers, i.e. destroying public schools in favor a theocratic education. In any case, Leininger is distancing himself from Tom Craddick.

Off the Kuff looks at the yard sign primary in his neighborhood.

Team McBlogger has decided to swim against the tide and endorse Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary. Then they compounded the good decision-making with a trip to the opening of her Texas headquarters in Austin to see Bill Clinton. You know, the guy who's married to the candidate. Apparently a couple of thousand people also had the same idea.

At Half Empty, with John Edwards out of the race, Hal has thrown his support to Barack Obama. And, seething anger, asks this question of the Republican Party of Texas -- who are acting as surrogates for the John Cornyn senatorial campaign: Are you sure you want a dog in this hunt?

After much soul searching, thought and input from great bloggers across the nation, Refinish69 has decided to endorse Obama for President in 2008.

Open Source Dem at Brains and Eggs has 'part two' of "Texas in Play."

BossKitty at BlueBloggin shows us that voting is still a major problem in this country considering Washington DC Has 10,000 mystery voters.

Jaye at Winding Road in Urban Area endorses Hillary Clinton for President.

John Coby's mom is also for Hillary. "I can't remember when our country was in such a horrible situation considering the war in Iraq, our debt, our status in the world. My country is in trouble and I believe Hillary Clinton can begin to solve the problems beginning on day one."

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Marissa Marquez in House District 77 has been trashing bloggers, and also endorses Hillary Clinton for president.

Friday, February 15, 2008

McCain is 'fired up and ready to go'

Three, two, one ....

Translation: meet at Denny's, order one hundred more years in Iraq and Moon Over My Hammys.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's, Chuck

A dispute between Harris County grand jurors who returned an indictment against a Texas Supreme Court justice, but were rebuffed by DA Chuck Rosenthal, now goes to court. From the press release:

In what is believed to be the first suit of its kind in Texas history, members of a Harris County grand jury who indicted Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife, Francisca Medina, for charges stemming from the June 28, 2007, arson of their Houston area home have sued for the right to publicly disclose evidence they considered in handing down the indictments. By law, proceedings before grand juries are usually required to be kept secret.

Once again, the backstory:

On January 17, 2008, the 263rd District Court Grand Jury indicted Francisca Medina for arson and Judge David Medina for evidence tampering. Within an hour, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal announced that the Medinas would not be prosecuted for the crimes due to “insufficient evidence.” On January 18, 2008, State District Judge Brian Rains dismissed both indictments at the request of Assistant District Attorney Vic Wisner.

And to the complaint:

“This suit is necessary because we want the truth to come out,” said Jeffrey L. Dorrell, assistant foreman of the Medina grand jury, an attorney whose firm, Dorrell & Farris, L.P., is representing grand jurors free of charge. “However, out of a decent respect for the rights of the Medinas and for the integrity of the grand jury system, we believe it is proper to seek a judicial determination of our duties before we speak.” The suit seeks no monetary damages or attorney's fees. ...

“Repeatedly accused of base and corrupt motives and hidden political agendas, grand jurors have been obliged to sit close-mouthed while District Attorney Rosenthal and his assistants trumpet to media that the evidence was 'insufficient' to support either a criminal prosecution of the Medinas or even any further investigation of the charges,” the suit says. The grand jurors want a chance to “respond to the attacks on their character.”

“Only disclosing the evidence will allow Plaintiffs to show convincingly that they were not animated by the vile and contemptible motives of which they have been publicly accused by truly the strangest of bedfellows -- the Medinas' criminal defense attorneys and the Harris County District Attorney's office,” the suit says.

And finally, there is precedent (though the roles are reversed):

Another public dispute between a Houston grand jury and a Harris County District Attorney 85 years ago has many parallels to the Medina case. The Harris County District Attorney in 1923, Dixie Smith, had been elected on the Ku Klux Klan ticket. After Smith publicly accused grand jurors of failing to follow their oath, grand jurors accused Smith of failing to prosecute fellow Klansmen who were suspected of crimes, including an arson. Smith sued for libel. The appellate court in that case wrote:

Every man has the right to defend his character against false aspersion. It is one of the duties which he owes to himself and his family. Therefore communications made in fair self-defense are privileged.

I only have one question. Why hasn't Rosenthal resigned yet?

Update ( 2/15): 'Bout freaking time.

Chuck Rosenthal resigned as Harris County district attorney today amid an e-mail scandal that recently forced him to abandon his re-election campaign and a lawsuit filed today that sought his removal from office.

Bill Delmore, chief of the D.A.'s legal services bureau, which oversees the general counsel's office, confirmed that Rosenthal issued a press release in which he says he contacted the governor's office to tender his resignation.

"Although I have enjoyed excellent medical and pharmacological treatment, I have come to learn that the particular combination of drugs prescribed for me in the past has caused some impairment in my judgment," Rosenthal wrote in his resignation letter.

He's blaming the meds? Okay then.

Rosenthal might be admitting that pharmacological drugs impaired his judgment so he can raise intoxication as a possible defense against a future perjury charge in the contempt case pending against him, (attorney Lloyd) Kelley said.

"He's using that as a defense for perjury," Kelley said. "This just isn't his problem. This goes back to (Harris County Judge) Ed Emmett and the county commissioners — they've known about this and haven't done anything about it. It's just shameful."

One last excerpt here, involving county judge Ed Emmett:

Emmett vehemently denied Kelley's assertion that he was aware of Rosenthal's drug issues, said Joe Stinebaker, the county judge's spokesman.

Emmett doesn't need any more stench of corruption wafting over to his race with Charles Bacarisse for the right to lose to David Mincberg in November. I had lunch today with Mincberg and fellow bloggers Charles Kuffner, muse, and Christof Spielor, and will have something on that later.

Clemens: innocent, or idiot?

Dan Wetzel pontificates on the chinballs Rocket has been throwing at anyone who even intimates he's been juicing, and the ramifications to him if the umpires finally eject him. As regards the choice of labels in the headline ...

There really isn't another option, not after Clemens has so aggressively defended himself against performance-enhancing drug charges that he has, perhaps unwittingly, raised the stakes to felony levels.

Today he and his former trainer and chief accuser, Brian McNamee, will testify in front of a Congressional committee. It's a moment we may just find out what Rocket Roger really is – a man lashing out at false charges or a fool begging for a prison cell.

Clemens may be as guilty of doping as McNamee and a fair amount of common sense say. But he is, at the very least, acting like he is innocent, his lawyer all but daring federal agents to take him on.

Time will tell whether he regrets turning a sports controversy into a federal case.

Clemens' defense was slow to start, but now he's done everything imaginable to assert his innocence. He's filed a defamation lawsuit. He's gone on "60 Minutes." He's held a news conference. He's taped a phone call. He's voluntarily testified under oath. He's welcomed his day in Washington. He's met privately with politicians. He's prepared statistical arguments. He's challenged the slightest of charges with evidence. He's had his lawyers make all sorts of crazy comments.

He's showed how you attempt to prove a negative, with a full-bore attack. It certainly hasn't been perfect and it certainly hasn't proven anything, but it's nonetheless been impressive for its scope and intensity.

The problem for Clemens is that, despite his complaints, the court of public opinion was a far better place for an iconic athlete like himself to fight than a pseudo court of law (and probably eventually a real one), which is where he's pushed this. For all the outrageous back and forth in this cat fight -- old beer cans, golf receipts, his wife in a bathing suit, allegedly enhanced by HGH -- Clemens was perfectly capable of muddying the water enough to win support. He has plenty of willing apologists, from the press box to the box seats.

But they hardly matter now. Everything changed when he willingly swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him God.

That's why his public relations and legal campaign is so compelling. The natural reaction is to say Clemens might be innocent because he's acting innocent -- forcing all the cards on the table like he has nothing to hide. It's everything we haven't seen out of baseball players, who usually just complain how unfair the accusations are and do nothing. This isn't Mark McGwire refusing to talk about the past and then hiding out in a gated community in California. This isn't Barry Bonds, defiant in some circles and silent in others.

But we also know that perjury is a slow-forming crime, a witness so backed into a corner, so concerned about the damage the truth can bring, that he just continues to lie even as the risks grow greater.

It is what we saw out of sprinter Marion Jones, who loudly and boldly proclaimed her innocence until she was broke, humiliated and en route to six months in the federal clink.

We also know McNamee has been equally aggressive, that he's a former cop who had little to gain by risking prison time for lying, and that his stories are so detailed or over the top they don't sound like lies (you don't just bring Clemens' wife into it out of nowhere). We also know he told the truth about Clemens' friend Andy Pettitte taking HGH.

The smart play for Clemens, assuming he is guilty, might have been to do what Pettitte did: give an admission with qualifiers that will be accepted and excused by most. But Clemens may not be capable of such clear thinking, no matter how carefully his high-powered legal and public relations team explained the consequences to him.

Or, indeed, he may be innocent.

Either way, here's Roger, aggressively attacking anyone in his way, with a series of brush-back pitches that sometimes seem ill-advised.

Was it really smart to have lawyer Rusty Hardin trashtalk IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky, warning him not to show up Wednesday and claiming if he makes a move on Clemens, "Roger will eat his lunch"? That was enough for Rep. Henry Waxman to chastise Hardin for what could "be seen as an attempt to intimidate a federal law enforcement official."

Was it really a good idea to commission a statistical defense of his career resurgence, one that four Ivy League professors ripped to shreds in the New York Times, concluding that the numbers actually, "strongly hint that some unusual factors may have been at play in producing his excellent late-career statistics"?

And mostly, was it really a good idea to testify under oath about this, a move that could turn the scandal from embarrassing to criminal?

We'll see. At this point, the dice have been thrown, and someone is in a lot of trouble.

Clemens spent last week meeting individually with Congressional committee members, trying to use his star power, engaging personality and intimidating presence to gain favor with our easily dazzled and ethically challenged lawmakers. He did all but write campaign checks. Unfortunately for Clemens, now that a perjury charge, either against McNamee or him, seems inevitable, winning over gushing lawmakers won't help much.

That's the chance he took in his all-out blitz; one more chip he pushed into the pile in his all-in gamble to prove his innocence.

If Clemens is clean, then he deserves credit for fighting this fight and proving it. If not, he'll have plenty of time in a prison cell to curse his reckless stupidity.

Richard Justice is live-blogging the Congressional hearing at which McNamee and Clemens have testified.

You may have noticed a change

in the sidebar. Over there, on the right.

After much consternation and a period of navel-gazing introspection, this blogger will support, vote for, caucus for, and probably walk or phone and perhaps even donate to the Barack Obama for President campaign.

The only real decision was whether to continue to support my man John, on March 4, at the ballot box and the precinct convention caucus -- or not. As much as I enjoy tilting at windmills and rooting for underdogs, it seems like my help may be more valuable in stopping the Clinton machine here in the Lone Star.

And that's what this really comes down to: a vote for the lesser of two Elvises, as Mr. Fish pointed out.

Obama really isn't the perfect candidate for me. That would be Dennis Kucinich. But I couldn't throw my time, talent and treasure behind Kooch because there was simply never any chance for him to win. So I proudly picked the next best guy in Edwards, whose message of hope, of restoring government to the little guy, resonated strongly with me. He received my full-throated support.

But as he said in his 'suspension' speech, history was about to blaze a path right over him, so he had to get out of the way.

I saw Obama when he visited Houston last year at this time and threw in a hundy to boot. And I certainly took in a full toke of the man's aura, his charisma. Whatever "it" is, he has it. But I wasn't convinced, even though a post-Christmas conversation with my nephew the A&M freshman indicated he planned to cast his first-ever vote for Barack. I wasn't sold when I learned my brother the Republican liked him so much he gave him a grand.

No, for me it's all about the block. I have said my piece about Hillary, and the only revision to make is that if she should happen to capture the Democratic nomination, I will support her as the nominee. Without much enthusiasm, candidly.

I just don't think the country can stand four more years of the Clintons much better than it could John McCain, the primary difference between them being the kind of judges they would appoint to the Supreme Court. So my hope is that Obama goes on to be the nominee, be that in the next few weeks, or at a brokered convention in Denver this summer, or some point in between. Whenever, doesn't matter (although I would enjoy the donnybrook of a contested national convention.)

While not my ideal presidential candidate, Barack Obama espouses more than enough of the progressive values necessary to earn my wholehearted endorsement.

Update: Burnt Orange and Eye on Williamson join me. Vince picks Hillary.

Texas in Play (part two)

The continuing series from Open Source Dem ...


The peculiar delegate selection process in Texas described in Burnt Orange Report and elsewhere is designed and managed between conventions by white male liberal lawyers -- mostly -- pretending to administer affirmative action (quotas actually), but succeeding only in perpetuating their own and a few large donors’ disproportionate influence over the party.

This is not a system that can stand up to competition with the GOP externally or internally, between diverse individuals, alternative leadership, or -- now -- two national candidates.

It is a kludge.

Actually the race-based analysis of likely voters, used by campaign or segmented marketing consultants, suggests a narrow Obama delegate count advantage but does not show either how or why either candidate for nomination could win big in Texas --"run the table" -- by inspiring rather than by categorizing and manipulating Democratic voters. It does not reflect the fact that the state party establishment is in a panic over the possibility that likely voter "categories" may be swamped by unlikely voters.

No, political elites are unhappy and unprepared for vigorous competition. But most Democratic voters will happily put up with unprecedentedly long lines and confusing directions to show up, speak up, and stand up for candidates they like. Both of them.

The Progressive Populist Caucus (PPC) is the party-building caucus in the TDP (Texas Democratic Party). It is not a PAC; it does not endorse candidates in state or federal campaigns but rather encourages regular participation, non-discrimination, good order, and sustaining membership in the Democratic Parties of Texas and of the United States.

In this primary, convention, and general election cycle, populists seek to sweep statewide races and countywide races in Harris County rather than do the more usual targeted campaign and incumbent protection “arrangement” with the GOP. We also propose a “campaign for change” to sweep a self-perpetuating control faction out of power in Austin and to rebuild a real party from the ground up -- without entrenched social, economic, and professional discrimination left over from a patronizingly “inclusive” but still fundamentally Jim Crow party.

On two-­timing the voters ... the Houston Chronicle and other media are surely correct in observing that nobody expected the Democratic 'prima-caucus' in Texas to be “decisive in the contest for the party’s presidential nomination.” No, the mindless complexity this party wallows in -- more rulesmanship than rules -- mainly serves to divide and demoralize the party by preserving a self-perpetuating control faction within the party. That faction includes a handful of special interests and a fading clique of mercenary campaign consultants. Nearly all of these are holed up in Austin, hangers-on from a previous era, not really leaders of any sort today.

Two years ago the state convention nearly dissolved into chaos because the absurd party rules did not even support orderly election of a State Chair(man) -- that, too, being ordinarily uncontested. This election cycle, the party establishment tried to avoid having a decisive impact by collaborating with some in the GOP to move the primary date up early, when they hoped to “deliver” Texas for John Edwards.

Still, most big-money donors in Texas work around all that. They deal directly with local or statewide campaigns or with national campaign committees. Meanwhile, small donors and party activists have to camp out in the blogosphere. Besides rendering the state party dysfunctional, the little faction in Austin has made the state convention nearly irrelevant ... until now.

Most of the Democratic elites were initially favorable to John Edwards and now have to scramble to embrace Hillary Clinton, or maybe split up to plant a few of their number on an unwelcome Obama bandwagon. Who cares? They will probably do Hillary or Obama as little good as they did Edwards. Remember: this entrenched faction would rather lose elections than lose control of the patronage chain they preside over. “The way we have always done it!” That is their battle cry. Over many years they have taken a battleground state and made it a red-state write-off.

Patriotic, loyal, and simply energetic Democrats -- whether supporting Clinton or Obama -- need to rise up and overthrow this failure-prone party establishment. That takes vigorous participation in the three-tier state convention system. Do not just vote: Flood the conventions! Caucuses and conventions are fun, gratifying, and today, of historic significance. In the convention system delegates each have vote and voice. Moreover, the party establishment has maybe two hundred (no more than one thousand) out of seven thousand votes at the state convention.

The only way to change a moribund party is at the party convention. So a “change agenda” starts at 7:15 p.m., March 4. Change cannot wait until January of next year. You will not see it on television. You cannot download it on your computer. You have to show up, speak up, and stand up, and not just for personalities but for principles -- you know, what reckless conservatives claim to have a monopoly on.

Oh, and delegates in convention have plenary power over the entire party. That is kind of a secret. Yes, state delegates in convention, every single one equally -- not place-holders on the state executive committee, not paid staff or hired guns in Austin -- are the highest authority in the party. Behind a curtain of mumbo jumbo this party is still actually republican in form and democratic in purpose. So contrary to how political control freaks portray it, the conventions are not a stupid beauty pageant in which almost half of the national delegation from Texas get a free ride to Denver while everyone else has to compete in order to pay full freight and more. If we have a real state convention, Texas can actually deliver an outstanding delegation. We could speak clearly on energy and the environment. Real Democrats could say “no” to malarkey about corn ethanol, coal power, obsolete nuclear reactors, or whatever else lobbyists are peddling and dumping in Texas.

In any event, it will do no good to nominate our best ticket in Denver just to leave the old party establishment sitting there in Austin, administering demeaning quotas and petty patronage on behalf of a few white male attorneys protecting a few safe seats, Craddick Democrats mostly. Democrats have a huge, latent Democratic majority in Texas and vital statewide races on the ballot in November.

Between 4 March and 6 June, Texas Democrats need to get out of the latest Grisham novel we are stuck in. We need a Democratic Party that can handle competition within the party fairly, manage time and materials effectively and compete against the GOP decisively. That is not rocket science. But it is more than the cornpone legalism that the Houston Chronicle and the national media just noticed.

Update: Neil adds his sly dry wit.

Discounts for Netroots Nation available here

Mary Rickles, the director of marketing and media, sends me this (for you):

As an active member of the Texas Progressive Alliance, we hope you're making plans to join us July 17–20 in Austin for Netroots Nation 2008.

In less than six months, you'll connect with progressive candidates, elected officials and fellow activists while you participate in your choice of more than 100 workshops, panels and events.

For a limited time, Netroots Nation is offering a $50 discount to all TPA members who register by Friday, February 15. For just $325 -- $50 off the current rate and $125 off the full convention price of $450 -- you'll experience four days filled with all the panels, workshops, caucuses and socializing you can handle in your home state. The registration fee covers many of your meals, too.

Register now! Simply enter promo code "TPA" to take advantage of this special rate. This offer expires Friday, February 15 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time.

As always, visit for convention updates. See you in Austin!

One FAQ: If you're reading this blog, then you're a "member" of the TPA. Now come on and join us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Around the world with Chelsea Clinton

In the wake of MSNBC reporter David Schuster's cheeky question about the Clinton campaign "pimping out" the once and potentially future First Daughter, The Rude Pundit wants to know how much a night with Chelsea might be. Whatever the cost, I think I would have to at least consider paying it ... as long as voting for her mother wasn't included in the asking price:

But the fact remains that Hillary Clinton agreed to a debate on Fox "news" despite all the not-very-nice things said about Chelsea (not to mention the "incredibly offensive" things spewed by Fox about Bill and her constantly). And she threatened to bail on MSNBC's debate, refusing to accept Shuster's apology and even Keith Olbermann's prostration. (The debate was canceled after Barack Obama agreed to another one on CNN.)

That means that she leapt at Shuster's remark as a way of keeping sympathy for her and her family in the news, a distraction from Obama's primary/caucus sweep this weekend. She used this Chelsea situation as a way to kick start some desperately needed fundraising.

And that ... is pretty much the definition of pimping.

FISA: Better Democrats needed in the Senate


Here's the bunch of Democrats who were willing to sell out your Constitutional rights to protect the telcos:

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jim Webb (D-VA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Senators McCain and Obama voted nay and aye, respectively. Senator Clinton was not present, though she might be for final passage.

This group bought the "keep us safe" canard hook, line, and sinker. Bush, his Republicans, and their telco buddies were a stronger force than us on this one. On days like this, it's hard to remember that this is, as Howard Dean told us at Yearly Kos last summer, a long term project.

Speaking to a conference call of reporters this afternoon, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said that, reflecting on the string of defeats in the Senate today, he thought the House was the best hope for stripping retroactive immunity from the final surveillance bill."We've lost every single battle we had on this bill [in the Senate].... We're not getting anywhere at all" he said. "The question now is can the House do better." ...

The Senate had "just sanctioned" the "single largest invasion of privacy in the history of the country," he said. When asked why he thought so many Dem senators had crossed over, he replied: "Unfortunately, those who are advocating this notion that you have to give up liberties in order to be more secure are apparently prevailing. They seem to be convincing people that you're at risk politically or we're at risk as a nation if we don't give up rights."

The fight shifts over to the House of Representatives, where John Conyers has just announced his opposition to telecom immunity. Contact your representative.

Ron Paul: prelude to a third-party run

Lots of empty seats on the McCain bandwagon:

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, secured more major endorsements on Monday, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and evangelical leader Gary Bauer. But there's one vote he shouldn't count on, from fellow presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul.

Paul, R-Lake Jackson, said he will not back McCain if he is the party's nominee unless the Arizona senator "has a lot of change of heart."

"I cannot support anybody with the foreign policy he advocates, you know, perpetual war. That is just so disturbing to me," Paul said Monday. "I think it's un-American, un-constitutional, immoral and not Republican."

Once Dr. No salts away Chris Peden in his Congressional primary, then he will turn his attention to the Libertarian Party's presidential selection process.

Just a hunch.

A maelstrom of conservative bullshit

Lookey here:

Che Guevara Flags in Obama's Houston office

First of all, you idiots, one of those is a Cuban flag with Che's photo on it, so you better get busy tieing Barack Obama to Fidel. Given that Castro and McCain are currently fussing with each other -- and that Castro is still alive, albeit barely -- you might get a little more outrage mileage outta that.

You just have to stand back and laugh sometimes when right-wing freaks get busy whipping themselves into a frenzy over their latest perceived Swift Boat opportunity. I thought the GOP meme was that they were to say nice things about Obama in order to convince Democrats to nominate him. So I guess that theory is out the window, since they're shooting this wad prematurely.

As with Obama's religion (Christian), his swearing-in (on a Bible) and his hand over his heart during the national anthem (once it was missing), the conservatives are drooling and wiggling like hungry bats on a cave wall, ready to swoosh out into the night and devour their weight in insects before returning at dawn to sleep upside down and add to the large pile of guano beneath them.

Since Republicans tend to know nothing about popular culture, let's enlighten (emphasis mine):

Despite the controversies, Guevara's status as a popular icon has continued throughout the world, leading commentators to speak of a global "cult of Che". A photograph of Guevara taken by photographer Alberto Korda[164] has become one of the century's most ubiquitous images, and the portrait, transformed into a monochrome graphic, is reproduced endlessly on a vast array of merchandise, such as T-shirts, posters, cigarettes,[165] coffee mugs, and baseball caps largely for profit. This fact led Argentine business analyst Martin Krauze to postulate that: “The admiration for El Che no longer extends to his politics and ideology. It’s a romantic idea of one man going to battle against the windmills, he’s a Quixote.” While British journalist Sean O’Hagan has described Che as “more Lennon than Lenin. Taking the opposite hypothesis, Mexican commentator and Che Biographer Jorge Castaneda has proclaimed that: “Che can be found just where he belongs in the niches reserved for cultural icons, for symbols of social uprisings that filter down deep into the soil of society.” [166] The saying "Viva la revolucion!" has also become very popular and synonymous with Guevara.[167][168] In North America, Western Europe and many regions outside Latin America, the image had been likened to a global brand, long since shedding its ideological or political connotations, and the obsession with Guevara has been dismissed by some as merely "adolescent revolutionary romanticism".[134]

Shorter Wiki: hanging a banner of Che Guevara today is sort of like wearing a corporate logo polo. You morons.

Update: Douchebag Robbie has more of the typical Republican "outrage". The Chron's city hall blog deviates from their usual topic to cover the "flap".

90,000 and 150,000

This little corner of the Intertubes reached those milestones in visits and page views in the past few hours (click the Sitemeter button at the very bottom if you are ever interested in the traffic here). I don't recall precisely when I began to track the number of clicks, but it was long after November of 2004, when I began to blog in earnest.

This shop opened for business in November of 2002, but it was a false start; it jumped up again two years later and stuck (if you're ever interested in knowing what I was saying a few years ago, the old postings are archived by month at the end of the right sidebar. Don't count on the links working, though). That chronology puts me up there in age with Web daddies like Kuffner, who makes a point of saying his is the oldest continuously published blog in Texas. It is. Charles is also better than me at a few other things, like procreating, but that's a digression.

Thank you, dear reader, very much for visiting and commenting here the past few years.

Some of my prized blog brethren have fallen by the wayside during that time: Media Whores Online was a particular source of early inspiration, the cessation of Billmon was deeply felt, and recently norbizness gave it up. Some, like my very good friend Prairie Weather, take a break and renew themselves, something I have also managed a couple a times. It makes me sad when people with so much talent and insight suddenly lose interest, while a no-account hack like me (and virtually every single conservative blogger I have ever found) continues to soldier on.

The one best thing I have always managed to do is find good writing or funny pictures and share them here, and occasionally think of something approaching profound to say. I expect I will continue to do that for as long as Uncle Sam and my advancing Agent Smith Syndrome allow me to.