Monday, April 28, 2008

Fact-checking Voter ID

"It's especially worrisome that the court has sent a signal making it easier to put up barriers to people voting," said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school. "There's a real risk that people will see this as a green light to pass restrictive voter ID laws in other states."

Uh, yeah ...

Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst hailed Monday's Supreme Court ruling that approves states' efforts to pass a voter identification law and said he looks forward to passing such a measure when the legislature meets again next year.

The ruling galvanizes a Republican-inspired effort that Democrats say will keep some poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots.

"With this legal challenge now behind us, I look forward to passing a fair voter ID law in Texas next year that fully protects the voting rights of all U.S. citizens registered to vote in Texas," Dewhurst said.

Except that Voter ID is legislation to fix a problem which only exists in the minds of Republican conspiracy theorists:

Republican Claim: Voter Fraud is an "Epidemic" in Texas

FACT CHECK: Even fiercely partisan Republican Attorney General Abbott has admitted that after spending millions of Texas and federal taxpayer dollars investigating, "there have been few [voter fraud] prosecutions in Texas." The Austin American Statesman editorialized: "Voter fraud is not an issue because Texas is not being flooded with unregistered voters and illegal immigrants flocking to the polls. That just isn't happening." (Source: Austin American-Statesman, April 26, 2007)

Republican Claim: Non-citizens voting is a major problem throughout the U.S.

FACT CHECK: The Department of Justice’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative has resulted in just 14 convictions of non-citizens voting in the entire United States between 2002 and 2005. That is less then 5 noncitizens voting a year. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section, Election Fraud Prosecutions & Convictions, Ballot Access & Voting Integrity Initiative, October 2002 – September 2005; The Politics of Voter Fraud, Minnite, Ph.D. Columbia University)

Republican Claim: Everyone has an ID

FACT CHECK: Even the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute admitted that 37% of Texas residents over the age of 80 did not have a driver's license. (TCCRI Commentary, May 1, 2007)

Republican Claim: Democratic operatives are pushing the opposition to the Voter Suppression Bill

FACT CHECK: The objections to the voter ID legislation are broad and bipartisan. The bill is opposed by non-partisan groups like the AARP and League of Women Voters, as well as every major Texas newspaper and many local newspapers. (Source: Associated Press, April 23, 2007) Former Republican Party Political Director Royal Massett has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the bill saying: "Anyone who says all legal voters under this bill can vote doesn't know what he is talking about." (Source: The Houston Chronicle, April 26, 2007)

So back to the point ...

Across the country, as many as 20 million people lack such identification, most of them minorities and the elderly who don't have drivers' licenses or passports and are unable to afford the cost of obtaining documentation to apply for such identification, advocacy groups say.

In Indiana, more than 20 percent of black voters do not have access to a valid photo ID, according to an October 2007 study by the University of Washington.

In Marion County, 34 Indiana voters without the proper identification were forced to file provisional ballots in an offseason local election. According to Indiana's photo law, voters have 10 days to return to the county courthouse with the proper identification. They can also file an affidavit claiming poverty.

"Who's going to do that?" asked Bob Brandon, president of Fair Elections Legal Network, a nonpartisan network of election lawyers. "Who's going to show up and sign an affidavit saying 'I'm poor'?"

They just have to make it close enough to steal

Sure, the media is obsessed with trashing Obama or Clinton, depending on the week or sound byte that can be taken out of context and twisted to insinuate that Democrats hate America or love terrorists or whatever other utter horseshit that they can conjure up to distract from the fact that John McCain is dangerous, or contradictory or just a flat out liar.

But the corporate media as well as McSame himself are just two pieces in a larger puzzle: the one to keep “The Base” happy and wealthy. We can hear lie after hyperbole after projection about how the Democrats are weak or that Hamas wants McCain to lose or that Osama secretly cast his ballot in 2004 for Kerry.

We know that is all nonsense -- and that thankfully, many more Americans are waking up to that fact as well. And with a growing number of Americans thinking that the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections were stolen, not to mention the US Attorney purge, the Justice Department’s gaming the system from the inside, illegal redistricting, illegal phone jamming, voter ID laws that serve to suppress likely Democratic voters and FEC commissioners who have a history of illegal partisan voter suppression, it isn’t like there is ample evidence that Republicans steal elections -- and that is before you even get to the hanging chads, questionable SCOTUS decisions and Diebold hacking.

Need more? Go on.

The Weekly Wrangle

Here's the Texas Progressive Alliance weekly blog round-up, from submissions by member blogs from the week just past.

North Texas Liberal analyzed the arguments from Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, and Newt Gingrich in favor of the flat tax. See their conclusions here.

The Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas is a monumental ass. PDiddie of Brains and Eggs has the dirty details in "Discussted".

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News informed his readers about the local elections and other events taking place in a Local Early Voting Edition.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has this week's Transportation Wrap-Up.

WhosPlayin resumes his watch on Michael Burgess, and joins North Texas Liberal in rejecting his "flat tax" proposal as a tax increase on the middle class.

Hal at Half Empty wonders why Texas' junior senator, John Cornyn, doesn't support our troops.

Over at McBlogger, Captain Kroc has a real problem with some of the concessions the City made to a certain developer looking to build condos on Lake Lady Bird.

The Texas Cloverleaf promotes a story about more shenanigans in the Texas Youth Commission, this time forcing a Denton County superintendent to quit before she is fired.

Last week, KUHT (PBS Channel 8) in Houston ran a special on immigration and public attitudes towards it called Houston Have Your Say, which included public officials, activists, ordinary citizens, and a couple of bloggers. Off the Kuff was one of those bloggers, and he wrote about his impressions here.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the Texas Association of Business is calling for education reform and wonders if anyone else sees the hypocrisy in that situation.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin looks at yet another VA screw up and continues to ignore the welfare of our troops in the VA Caught In Suicide Coverup.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Evening Funnies


I was a big fan of Rich Hall's Sniglets in the '80s. Lately, in both the e-mail I receive and the various blogs and online fora I visit, I regularly find myself laughing out loud at misspelled words with brand new meanings, such as the one in the title of this posting.

How many times have you found yourself in a conversation meeting the description above, after all?

Judging by this article in Texas Monthly, and this article and the reader comments in the Chron, it must happen to everyone within audio range of the Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas inside of 15 seconds:

Jerry Patterson is a concealed-weapon-carrying, tobacco-dipping, canvas-death-trap-flying maverick whose management of the Christmas Mountains has ticked off everyone from Rick Perry to the Sierra Club. Not that he cares.
"Proving once again that I grew up weird, when I was a kid I enjoyed it when we were driving behind a Houston bus — loved the smell of diesel fumes," Patterson recently confessed in an e-mail to supporters of a program that helps governmental entities switch their fleets to clean-burning natural gas. "That might explain my thought processes as an adult." ...

"Many would describe me as kooky, but I don't really care," he said. "If the voters disagree with what I'm doing, there's the next election, or there's impeachment. I do what I think is right, and I don't concern myself with public opinion."

Jerry Patterson has been both dipshit and embarrassment for too long now. Let's find someone and send him some public opinion he can't ignore in 2010.

Former GOP White House counsel chokes on sheep balls

Maybe it was just one. Surely he wasn't trying to swallow more than one ...

Former senator Paul Laxalt's all male, annual lamb fry dinner at the Georgetown Club tends not to be an especially raucous affair. The 28th dinner the other night, prepared as always in Basque style in honor of Laxalt's heritage, featured the usual delicacy of the night, lamb's testicles, which are said to have unusual medicinal qualities.

And while some of the tuxedoed and slightly aging pols and pals -- including Vice President Cheney, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), former House Republican leader Bob Michel, retired Marine Gen. P.X. Kelley, former GOP chairman and now lobbyist Frank Fahrenkopf, former Veterans Affairs secretary and former ambassador to the Vatican Jim Nicholson, and legendary lobbyist Bill Timmons -- don't move as fast as they used to, they can still hop to it in an emergency.

And they did when White House counsel Fred Fielding appeared to be choking -- not on the featured delicacy, we are assured. Ron Kaufman of Dutko Worldwide (and a volunteer for Mitt Romney's campaign) and then Ed Rollins (who played a lead role in Mike Huckabee's bid for the White House) took turns trying the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge it. Rollins brought over a chair to stand on for extra leverage, one guest said.

There's some disagreement about what happened next. One attendee said Rollins popped the obstruction out, another said Fielding eventually swallowed it. Well, either way ...

Oh I see now the article says he wasn't gagging on a lamb's testicle. Perhaps it was his conscience, then...

Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rush's Riots

Steven D speaks for me:

I guess Chicken Hawk Supreme Limbaugh wants to re-live his youth from 1968 when the "rioting" at the Chicago Convention (caused mostly by the Chicago Police) likely cost Hubert Humphrey the election. An election where the the victory of a Republican, Richard Nixon, guaranteed that an unpopular war would continue for another 7 more years, with an ever-increasing death toll among both Americans and Vietnamese.

Of course, no one should be surprised that Limbaugh would take this tack. He's long been the pilonidal cyst on the American body politic. Almost single-handedly he created the conservative racist, politically incorrect talk show format, where defamation of one's "enemies" is standard operating procedure. He went after Hillary and Bill Clinton mercilessly in the 90's, pushing conspiracy theories that one or both of them had Vince Foster murdered. And more recently he's shown he's an equal opportunity smear merchant by playing racist ditties like "Barack, the Magic Negro" during his radio program.

Nor has he been reluctant to use eliminationist language on his show towards liberals and Democrats, and anyone else he deems worthy of his scorn, from feminazis to AIDS patients. But this is a new low, calling for specific incidents of violence at a major political party's convention. The man who cheered on the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators (and innocent bystanders) at the 2004 Republican Convention, who gloried in the news that we were torturing the bad guys at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib (even as he cynically refused to call it torture), now wants to see riots. Now encourages riots.

And how many of his flock of wingnut sheep will take the opportunity to become agents provocateur in Denver? How many will attempt to ignite the very violence for which Limbaugh is an advocate? We already know that his listeners have participated Operation Chaos, where he commanded them to vote in Democratic primaries for Hillary Clinton so that the nomination battle between Obama and Clinton would continue, and thus weaken the Democratic Party's chances in the Fall. This is merely the next step in his attempt to influence the elections.

With all the problems facing this country, most if not all of them the result of the Republican party's domination of all three branches of our government, but especially the executive branch, this is what prominent conservatives promote. Chaos, violence, hate, bigotry and eternal war. Our soldiers and Iraqis are dying every day, food shortages are occurring around the globe (even in the United States), energy and food prices are on the rise, unemployment is up as are foreclosures, and our financial system teeters on the brink of a calamitous fall, and this is what Rush Limbaugh spends his time pontificating about.

He's the right wing media's version of Emperor Nero, divorced from reality, fiddling while less fortunate Americans than himself, fat and happy with the millions of dollars generated by his caustic brew of hatred, spite and ill will, slowly burn. Ten percent of Ohioans are on food stamps and he merrily calls for riots at the Democratic convention. What kind of man does such a thing? For there is a word that describes this type of person and I don't mean sociopath, for that gives Rush an out, makes his foul deeds the result of a diminished moral capacity. No, the word is one any right-wing conservative ought to recognize since they use it themselves so often. That word is traitor. Rush Limbaugh is an evil toad and a traitor to democracy, to our Constitution and to our nation. He doesn't participate in the violence he glorifies, but he is its primary advocate on the right, and for Bush's wars as well. So convinced of the righteousness of "his cause" he willingly appeals to the worst sides of our nature, hoping to inspire others to do the deeds he lacks the spine to do himself.

In that way he is not much different than Osama bin Laden. Both have their devoted, fanatical followers, both are extremists, and both believe that violence in pursuit of their cherished ideals is a "right deed" as the Stoics would say. Both promote wars that kill thousands.

The biggest difference? Rush doesn't have to live in hiding. He can live the "good life" of the top .0001 % of the wealthiest Americans, even going on "sex tours" to poverty-stricken countries with bags of Viagra to assist his enjoyment of all the delectable young girls available to perverts like himself. He can illegally obtain and abuse prescription narcotics, yet avoid any prosecution for his crimes. Yes, it's a wonderful life if you are Rush Limbaugh, knowing he is completely free from the consequences of his actions, no matter how heinous they may be.

Too bad for the rest of us we are not so lucky.

Inciting a riot is a felony
in nearly every state, including Colorado. Will Limbloat be prosecuted, even if they happen? Don't count on it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Slogging on

And slugging it out for another month and half, perhaps longer.

Fifty-five -- forty-five is a number that breathes another wisp into Mrs. Clinton's sails, while not helping her in the delegate count enough to make her continuing campaign anything but that of a spoiler.

(The) margin in Pennsylvania was probably not sufficient to alter the basic dynamics of the race, but it made clear that the contest will continue.

The media meme became all about the point spread and the over/under was seven or eight points, even as much as ten. So Clinton met those expectations, and the result is that Obama's inability to land the knockout blow is officially a sign of weakness. Since Iowa, he shows little ability to attract white voters with incomes under $50,000, the so-called blue-collar voter. These are likely the people -- also known by their aged label of Reagan Democrats -- who would abandon him in the fall.

If that's not enough cause for concern ...

“This is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat who has not endorsed anyone in the race. “They are going to just keep standing there and pounding each other and bloodying each other, and no one is winning. It underlines the need to find some way to bring this to conclusion.”


“We have problems going both ways, but that is going to get healed,” saiid Joe Trippi, who was a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of John Edwards, who quit the race earlier this year. “If it doesn’t get healed, we have problems.”

Next up: Indiana and North Carolina on May 6. Speaking of both Edwards and NC, Howard Fineman stated (during MSNBC's election coverage) that Elizabeth Edwards would be campaing with Hillary in North Carolina. Take that for what you wish, but my perception is that, if accurate, it changes the game to Clinton's advantage in a state where Obama is expected to make up for the delegate-count and popular-vote losses he suffered last night.

Update (from elsewhere around the 'sphere): Since Greg brought it up, I wonder what the internals are on the Dunder-Mifflin voting bloc. Martha and Bradley are celebrating -- and soliciting; Neil and jobsanger point out the obvious. Hal live-blogged the results. And Jerome has nine suggestions for both campaigns in the post-Pennsylvania wrap-up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy EarthDay

Earth Day -- April 22 -- each year marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Among other things, 1970 in the United States brought with it the Kent State shootings, the advent of fiber optics, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Apollo 13, the Beatles' last album, the death of Jimi Hendrix, the birth of Mariah Carey, and the meltdown of fuel rods in the Savannah River nuclear plant near Aiken, South Carolina -- an incident not acknowledged for 18 years.

It was into such a world that the very first Earth Day was born.

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed the first nationwide environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda. " "It was a gamble," he recalls, "but it worked."

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Environment was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Earth Day 1970 turned that all around.

Here's information on Earth Day at the Houston Zoo.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mercury, Wednesday

Mercury just passed superior conjunction on April 16, but in the days to come it will bolt out to become easily visible low in the west-northwest at dusk. On Wednesday evening, April 23, Mercury should be visible within about 30 minutes after sunset if your sky is quite clear. Mercury will be shining at magnitude �1.6, slightly brighter than Sirius (the brightest of all stars). In fact, at that particular hour of the day, Mercury will be the brightest object in the sky!

So, if your sky is free of any horizon haze and there are no tall obstructions to your view (like trees or buildings) you should have no trouble in seeing it as a very bright "star" shining with just a trace of a yellowish-orange tinge. By April 30, Mercury will be setting as late as 85 minutes after the Sun. That evening, binoculars may show the Pleiades star cluster 4 degrees directly above it. (Your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees in width.)

In the evenings that follow, Mercury will slowly diminish in brightness, but it will also slowly gain altitude as it gradually moves away from the vicinity of the Sun. This is just the start of Mercury's best apparition of the year for mid-northern viewers. On the evening of May 6, be sure to look for a delicately thin sliver of a 1.5-day old crescent Moon sitting just a couple of degrees above and slightly to Mercury's right.

Much more.

The Weekly Wrangle

Today is San Jacinto Day, and also time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up is compiled by The Texas Cloverleaf.

In "honor" of April 15 (the federal income tax deadline), Lightseeker at TexasKaos examines the Republican tax cut claim here in Texas and discover that what it really amounts to is "tax shifting", and we are the ones getting shafted. Tax Shifting With Bohac's Assessment Cap as Our Example.

WhosPlayin notes that John McCain has proposed suspending the federal gasoline tax, and points out that he would do just as well to try to suspend the law of gravity.

The Texas Cloverleaf is helping to save the earth on Earth Day weekend with helpful tips for saving energy and your wallet, as well as picking up trash with Stonewall Democrats. Don't mess with Texas!

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme wonders if all Republicans are Tom Craddicks in training. Listen to Nueces County Republican chair Mike Bertuzzi ignore all the 'Point of Order' calls at the county convention. Sound familiar?

John Coby of Bay Area Houston has the real press release from Rick Perry about his run for governor in 2010.

Here are local activist Jose Orta's
impressions Of T. Don Hutto, Williamson County's immigrant detention facility, that were posted at Eye On Williamson after his recent visit.

At McBlogger, barfly analyses what's really important to the American voter in this hour of cultural brouhaha.

Off the Kuff takes an early look at the race for district attorney in Harris county, which is sure to be one of the hottest local races this year.

Today is San Jacinto Day and PDiddie of Brains and Eggs will be at the commemorative ceremonies taking place at the battlefield near Houston.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin points out that Your $300 - $1,200 Economic Stimulus Payment Cost $767 Million.

Hal at Half Empty questions whether a certain person running for president is temperamentally fit to be in that office.

Vince at Capitol Annex thinks it is terrible that Texas teacher salaries are so low that that more than a quarter of all teachers must work a second job to make ends meet.

North Texas Liberal reports on a homophobic journalist's question to White House press secretary Dana Perino, and the smackdown she gave in response.

George Nassar at The Texas Blue takes some time out of Friday's morning news roundup to point out that were the Bush administration to use a logical metric, it would be clear to them that the surge has failed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Houston International Festival

Top 10 Can’t Miss Extramusical Attractions at Ifest

(by Jim Austin, President, Houston International Festival)

1. Church of Lalibela: So, European colonists brought Christianity to Africa, right?… Wrong. Very wrong. Emperor Lalibela carved 12 churches out of existing mountains in Ethiopia in the 12th century. Well, maybe he had his folks do the actual carving. Anyway, we’ve created an amazing replica of the most famous of the churches to with the cultural and educational exhibits in the Chevron Living Museum.

2. You do not want to miss the National Dance Theater of Ethiopia. They are known for this reverberating movement in their heads, necks and shoulders that looks physically impossible. I don’t think it is done anywhere outside of the country. And the women are considered by three out of four academic experts to be among the most beautiful in the world. As I say, don’t miss it; it’s their North American debut, four times a day on the WaMu Center Stage at City Hall.

3. The Gullah people were isolated off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia when plantation owners abandoned them because of the malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the area. They preserved their African heritage for centuries. We’re bringing artists and craftsmen from the Gullah region and we’re erecting a Gullah stage. Storytelling, drumming, dance lessons, demonstrations and plays.

4. Have we mentioned that some people say the most beautiful women in the world are Ethiopians? Well, two previous Miss Ethiopias will be featured in a fashion show on the H-E-B Cultural Stage at 2:00 p.m. each weekend day of the Festival.

5. The Rise and Shine Exhibit at the Julia Ideson library: This display of archaeological artifacts from the TSU archives will shed new light on the ways that African Americans in Texas survived the cruelties of enslavement and its aftermath, the tenant farming/sharecropping system. Artifacts and historical documents will examine a variety of sites, including the Levi Jordan Plantation in South Texas. Literary readings will take place both Saturdays from 1-5 p.m.

6. Dr. Z New Artist of the Year: This award, named after the late Houston dentist, adventurer and longtime festival benefactor Dr. Z, is given annually to an up and coming artist or group making its iFest debut. The Carolina Chocolate Drops is a young African American trio that demonstrates the black roots of what is considered among the whitest music forms in America -- Appalachian country and bluegrass music. The group plays twice on day one, on Louisiana Stage at 3:30 and on the Gullah Stage at 6 p.m.

7. Some come to iFest for the music, some come for the culture. And some come for the food. There will be African Food on the steps of City Hall. Taste of Africa presented by Melange Catering will serve delicious specialty items like lamb bobotie, beef sosatie skewers and chicken wings peri peri. Plus a selection of Sundowners, refreshing drinks used in the African ritual that marks the passage from day to night. Yum.

8. The iFest Business Conference, Africa: Opportunities with a Social Conscience will explore sustainable development initiatives on the African continent. Delegates will hear from top experts from the U.S. and Africa on economic development projects and social stability issues that affect Houston businesses interested in this emerging global marketplace. Sponsored by Marathon Oil on the morning of April 18. (For details, visit

9. Lunchtime concerts are back on the two Fridays, April 18 and 25. Downtown workers can take in the food, the music (by D.R.U.M. and the Zydeco Dots) and even see the great National Dance Theatre of Ethiopia. Yes, it’s free.

10. Not ready to stop the party? Join us at the official iFest 2008 After Party at Under the Volcano. The New Orleans Hustlers Brass Band -- featuring members of the Soul Rebels -- will perform. Cover charge is $5, with festival staff and volunteers wearing wristbands and/or T-shirts admitted free. Sunday, April 27, 2008, 8:00pm to closing. Under the Volcano, 2349 Bissonnet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Due to some heavy hits from linkage at and the opinion page, today B&E passed the hundred-thousand mark in visits (since adding the Sitemeter tracker about a year after this blog was born), a few days ahead of schedule.

Thanks for the love, everybody.

Four MoFo Years (from 2010)

No MoFo way:

When asked whether the gubernatorial field would include Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and himself, Mr. Perry responded , "I don't know about them, but it will be Perry in 2010."

"I don't know about the other two. You need to ask them."

Oh they're gunning for ya, Govnah.

Sixty-one percent of Texans sent you a message in 2006. It's not surprising that you don't get it even today.

Kay Bailey says publicly:

"I am encouraged by the growing number of Texans asking me to return home to run for Governor to provide leadership for our state. It is too early to make an announcement about the 2010 race. Right now I remain committed to serving the people of Texas in the United States Senate and helping our Republican candidates win crucial elections this fall."

Kay Bailey un-publicly:

Hutchison has spent the last several months privately assuring supporters that she will run for Governor in 2010.

Bring it on, MoFos. And pack plenty of Aqua-Net.

On Miles and Vo

Since it's been so long since Greg "Rhymes With Hate" called me out about this, he may be thinking I wasn't ever going to say something about it.

Truthfully, the sadness that I feel at the self-inflicted destruction of these two men makes me want to give up on offline political activism.

Like John, I walked for Borris, folded letters for Borris, put out signs and worked polls for Borris. I went over to the Capitol to see him (on his dime, twice). I lobbied his office staff for Planned Parenthood ( ...not that I had to. He was a far cry from the once and future state representative on this issue -- as with every other). I was close friends with one of his local community liasons. In turn, I was humbled when he nominated and then presented me publicly with a community leadership award from the Texas Black Legislative Caucus in 2007.

I had no greater hopes for a politician than those I had for Borris Miles. I saw a man who was destined to become a leader in Texas. And I wasn't the only one, either.

Hubert Vo is a classic American success story, an immigrant who worked hard, built a fortune, challenged the most entrenched of powers, and won.

But both men have rapidly unraveled their political careers in infamous and and equally public demonstrations of repetitively bad judgments.

They didn't so much embarrass me as they did themselves. They let me down, sure, but that's far from the greatest damage done. Miles' political career is probably over even if he avoids a guilty verdict; Vo may still remain in the Texas Legislature although I wouldn't make book on it. The electorate has demonstrated no patience and even less forgiveness of ethical trangressions, and rightly so.

I just expect more from our side, and these men deflated those expectations. They failed themselves and their family and friends and thier constituents, and they have left a stain on the Houston Democratic caucus.

Thye failed a crucial test of leadership, which is a great loss for them. Somewhat less so for the rest of us, though still significant. It stings a little.

Personally I expect them to recover. Miles has precarious health, so I would prefer to see him concentrate on his personal life going forward, staying out of the public eye. Both men are comfortable financially and can do more to encourage other leaders in their respective communities to take the torch they have dropped and carry it forward.

And I am forced to be more cautious in whom I invest my expectations. Or hopes, or whatever you choose to call it.

ABC's sham of a 'debate'

Forty-five minutes and I finally turned away. Not a single issue or question of substance asked by cretins Gibson and Snufflelufagus. "Bitter-gate", "Sniper-gate", flag pins, Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and just before I switched, the potential travesty of raising the capital gains tax.

Nothing about the wars, nothing about the economy, nothing about health care. No mention of the mortgage crisis, or $4.00 a gallon gasoline, or the recession we're currently entering, for the entire first half of last night's debate. Not a word about torture, or the plummeting value of the dollar, or global warming.

It was FOX news at its finest on ABC. I'm not the only one who noticed it, either:

In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia.
It didn't take long for the debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday night to turn to God and guns, small-town values and political opportunism.

A dash of bitterness, too.

Reflecting what seemed to be the main consensus of the night - that ABC botched this debate, big time - Charlie Gibson tells the crowd there will be one more, superfluous commercial break of the night and is subsequently jeered.

"Oh..." he declares, hands raised in defense. "The crowd is turning on me, the crowd is turning on me."

Sorry I missed that. More from Tom Shales, the media critic at the WaPo:

When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.


At a time of foreign wars, economic collapse and environmental peril, the cringe-worthy first half of the debate focused on such crucial matters as Senator Obama's comments about rural bitterness, his former pastor, an obscure sixties radical with whom he was allegedly "friendly," and the burning constitutional question of why he doesn't wear an American flag pin on his lapel — with a single detour into Senator Hillary Clinton's yarn about sniper fire in Tuzla. Apparently, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos ran out of time before they could ask Obama why he's such a lousy bowler.

And on and on it goes.

I never want to see another disgraceful display like that ever again. Our corporate media parading around in their finest tabloid/yellow journalism costumes is a disgusting, revolting spectacle.

Monday, April 14, 2008

San Jacinto Day, April 21

I'm taking the day off and going next week.

The Official San Jacinto Day Ceremony, commemorating the 172nd Anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, will occur on Monday, April 21, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. at the San Jacinto Monument, San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The principal speaker will be Jesús F. de la Teja, Ph.D., Texas State Historian. The Master of Ceremonies will be Ron Stone, Jr. A musical prelude will be provided by the La Porte High School Wind Ensemble.

* The Daughters of the Republic of Texas will present Scholarships to winners of their essay contest.
* The Sons of the Republic of Texas will present Scholarships to winners of their essay contest.
* Awards will be presented sailors from the U.S.S. SAN JACINTO and the U.S.S. TEXAS
* General Houston's Battle Report.
* Salute by the Texas Army.
* Laying of Commemorative Wreath.

Oh yeah: a re-enactment of the battle as part of the San Jacinto Festival is set for Saturday, April 26.

Hart InterCivic attempts hostile takeover of Sequoia

Brad Friedman:

As if Sequoia Voting Systems doesn't have enough trouble already, the company now needs some $2 million dollars in cash... quickly. Without it, it is likely to be subsumed by one of its nearest competitors, Hart InterCivic of Austin, as soon as next Tuesday, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

In what could well be a major shift on the American election industry landscape --- and certainly on elections themselves in dozens of states across the country --- voting machine company Hart InterCivic informed the current owners of the beleaguered Sequoia of their intention to acquire ownership of the company in a move which could take effect as early as next week. ...

Sequoia is believed by election experts to be this country's third largest voting machine company, followed by Hart. The combined operation, should the takeover be completed, could well create a new powerhouse in the industry, displacing #2 Diebold/Premier, and coming up just behind the country's currently largest election vendor, ES&S.

Last night in a interview on KPFT, Friedman revealed that Sequoia has recently secured a $100 million contract with New York to be the e-voting vendor of record for the Empire State, which is why -- coupled with their current cash crunch -- they are such an attractive takeover target.

But while Sequoia faces a plethora of legal liabilities concerning their oft-failed voting systems, Hart InterCivic faces its own share of challenges with a pending --- and damning --- federal fraud/qui tam suit against the company, as unsealed late last month. Moreover, Hart's acquisition plan could face scrutiny from members of Congress and Treasury Department officials, as well as states across the country who thought they had turned over control of their elections to Sequoia, only to soon learn there will be a new owner, not of their choosing, of the secret software and devices which determine the results of their public elections. ...

The news will likely be of particular interest to SF, NY and a host of jurisdictions around the country who have recently chosen to do business with Sequoia, rather than Hart --- a company which, among other problems, now has a serious federal whistleblower suit hanging over their head, alleging all manner of false claims and other criminal behavior --- but who now may be forced to deal with a new corporate entity whether they originally agreed to that or not.

Ah, yes. Hart's whistleblower: William Singer. From the legal complaint (.pdf, 45 pages, excerpt below from page 2):

Mr. Singer frequently accompanied Hart representatives to perform demonstrations, testing, and support maintenance of the machines in various locations, and thus heard firsthand a number of misstatements made by Hart in its attempts to win voting system contracts, as well as misstatements made to conceal the voting machines’ frailties and vulnerabilities. In January 2004, Mr. Singer resigned from Hart under protest, citing many of the fraudulent acts and misrepresentations giving rise to this action. In July 2004, Mr. Singer wrote the Secretaries of State for the States of Texas and Ohio, to alert them to Hart’s misconduct. He received no substantive response. Mr. Singer provided discrete bits of information to the press in hopes of attracting attention to Hart’s misconduct. Having “accomplished nothing” in Mr. Singer’s words, he decided to seek legal redress.

Money shot:

A computer scientist who is familiar with most of America's e-voting systems recently told us that he has come to understand that, of all of the voting systems out there, ironically enough, Hart's systems, which have gotten far less attention in the media than those made by Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia over the years, may, in fact, "be the most insecure of them all" due to their particular architecture.

Never Forget: our soldiers in Iraq are fighting for our freedom. I read these words often as they appear in the comments section of the Houston Chronicle, conservative blogs, and in other online fora I frequent. They are posted there by allegedly patriotic conservatives who remain in full-throated support of the war and the attendant torture of "foreigners" as well as the wiretapping of Americans in order to keep us safe.

The right to have our vote count as we intended it, and for that to be verifiable, is one of those liberties. Presumably.

The Weekly Wrangle

Time once again for the Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up, compiled by member bloggers from submissions from their blogs over the previous week.

It would seem that the Republican Party of Texas (Republicans first, Texans last!) is looking for a few sweet young thangs! McBlogger has the story on the RPT's efforts to secure a few good young people.

Bradley at North Texas Liberal takes a look into the possible political aspirations of Condoleezza Rice... and tells us why she may be the Democrats' worst nightmare.

The Texas Cloverleaf asks if you're ready to strike over gas prices? Some truck drivers are. They aren't defenders of the Alamo, and are few and far between, but will their message resonate with the rest of America? Some of them say no.

With the resounding defeat of Shelley Sekula Gibbs last Tuesday in the GOP CD 22 runoff, this spells the end of her short-lived political career. Hal at Half Empty has created a video to commemorate the Shelster's last hurrah.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme suspects U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will be looking for a new job. Soon. Seems that Carlos spoke the truth about that d*mn fence!

Lightseeker over at Texas Kaos marks the upcoming income tax deadline by bringing up a sadly evergreen topic: Tax Lies That Republicans Tell. After all, if the didn't find someone to put money in to the treasury, where would the money to pay for their crony politics come from?

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News is not catching up on sleep this time but reveals the predictions for four years his brother made the day after Bush was reelected. His brother gets the Cassandra Award and the media pundits don't have to worry about their jobs.

Doing My Part For The Left warns that voter suppression is not just a Texas problem.

Off the Kuff makes the case for investing in transit in Houston.

IVR polled the Skelly-Culberson CD-07 race, as well as Noriega-Cornyn, and came up with some interesting results. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged it.

nytexan at BlueBloggin points out that most Americans are scraping to get by, however some federal employees are having tons of fun with government credit cards, in Your Tax Dollars Purchased iPods, Internet Dating, Women’s Lingerie…

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Evening Funnies

"It's Obama, stupid"

To be read aloud in your best Scottish brogue:

Democrat grandees Jimmy Carter and Al Gore are being lined-up to deliver the coup de grâce to Hillary Clinton and end her campaign to become president.

Falling poll numbers and a string of high-profile blunders have convinced party elders that she must now bow out of the primary race.

Former president Carter and former vice-president Gore have already held high-level discussions about delivering the message that she must stand down for the good of the Democrats.

"They're in discussions," a source close to Carter told Scotland on Sunday. "Carter has been talking to Gore. They will act, possibly together, or in sequence."

An appeal by both men for Democrats to unite behind Clinton's rival, Barack Obama, would have a powerful effect, and insiders say it is a question of when, rather than if, they act.

"grandees" and coup de grâce in the same sentence. You gotta love it. The money shot:

Obama's campaign has been a phenomenon in American politics, bringing in record numbers of new voters and record funding, and few think the superdelegates would dare deny him victory if he wins the popular vote.

It would also invite the unedifying spectacle of a mostly white elite denying an African American candidate a chance for the presidency. "It would cause a scandal to do that," says one party official. "To turn around to the black community and say, 'You got the most votes, but no'? Unlikely."

Anybody still seriously considering a Clinton nomination should be honest with themselves: she can't win the nomination in a way that would render her more electable than Obama. And since that is the sole remaining argument for her getting the nomination, it is delusional for anyone to contine to believe she should.

This must be about preserving viability for Clinton as a candidate for president in 2012, as far as I can determine; a vile strategy if accurate. At this point Clinton should be defending Obama against unfair attacks on his patriotism, his choice of church and pastor, his qualifications, and his merits. That she is doing the opposite is not a reason to support her, but a reason to be "bitter".

And that there is more mention of Obama as an 'elitist' -- a utterly ridiculous conflation -- than there is regarding the Bush administration's wholehearted application of torture as a foreign policy once more makes a mockery of what passes for a discussion of 'moral values' in the so-called liberal media.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 11, 2008

IVR polls Skelly-Culberson and Noriega-Cornyn

And finds there is some ground to make up:

In the CD7 race, I identified each candidate's party, which may explain the unexpectedly low undecided response. Only 4% said they were undecided, with Culberson receiving 57% to Skelly's 39%. ... For the Senate race, Cornyn leads Noriega 58 to 39 within CD7.

536 likely voters polled 4/8/08, Margin of error 4.2%.

Eerily similar figures for my neighborhood in the two important federal races on the ballot (besides the one at the top, of course). Neither race is considered ripe for the Democratic taking. Yet.

Enough voters are willing to consider a non-Republican, but a Democratic candidate would need flawless execution and a little luck.

With 88,000 Democratic primary voters out of the nearly 411,000 county-wide last month, we certainly have the numbers trending our way. The outcome will turn on a variety of factors within and without our control.

Micromanaging torture from the White House basement (and the Texas connection)

There's no blaring headline in the Washington Post online about this story. Nothing even very significant that I can find from the source, ABC News, on their website. There is a story there, however about how "absolutely appalling" Dick Cheney thinks Rev. Wright's comments were.

(In the comparison between waterboarding and a minister's sermon quoting US Ambassador -- to Iraq, no less -- Edward Peck as saying the United States had abandoned its moral authority, I would have to say that Cheney's judgment is again demonstrated to be as full of shit as his cold, dark heart.)

Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement, according to an ABC News report aired last night.

Discussions were so detailed, ABC's sources said, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group. In addition to Cheney, the group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft.

At least one member of the club had some qualms. ABC reports that Ashcroft "was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

"According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: 'Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.'"

Here's the video of last night's report by Jan Crawford Greenburg and a text version by Greenburg, Howard L. Rosenberg and Ariane de Vogue.

They write: "Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding...."

"As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room."

Ashcroft again, the only member of the Bush adminstration with half a conscience.

So let's review: waterboarding is torture, and torture is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions (once described as "quaint" by Alberto Gonzales). The reason the US and several other countries agreed to be bound by the terms of Geneva way back when was so that our own soldiers captured as prisoners of war would never be subjected to such treatment.

And the reason why phrases such as "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "enemy combatants" were devised by the corporate marketing wizards running the nation's foreign policy was for no better reason than to attempt to evade prosecution as war criminals.

And so that we never forget that the roots of Bush administration evil can almost always be traced back to our beloved Lone Star State, James Ho -- who together with John Yoo wrote the original DOJ memo outlining the legal justification of torture -- has recently been named the solicitor general of Texas by Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Electoral disaster for the GOP

Somewhere back there I mentioned something about this. Here's a map.

Let's be charitable and give John McBush several states he probably won't win, like Pennsylvania for example. It's still nothing but gloom. Take away Ohio and give to the GOP (not at all likely they can get PA and OH both, not even with a terrorist attack a week before Election Day). It's still gloomy.

Think the economy is going to be improving by November? How about Iraq? Will health care be on the minds of many voters? McSame is wrong on all three issues.

I don't think McLame can run with God as his vice-president and get elected, frankly.

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

Baseball and cancer.

(Taxes are all but done, every deal I think I'm going to close ahead of the 15th is probably closed, shoulder's feeling better ... back to the blog. I never got around to writing anything about the NCAA tournament; my bracket had North Carolina over Texas anyway. I didn't think Kansas could beat Memphis either. So ... there's a new baseball season underway. Here's a great story about Doug Davis, the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher currently undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.)

Doug Davis arrived Tuesday afternoon with his cap on backward and sunglasses clamped to the back of his neck, saying a couple hellos to the boys in the lockers nearby, the usual routine.

Just before game time, he walked the length of the dugout, a white towel draped over his left shoulder, touching hands with every teammate, the usual routine.

He loped across the field – one long hop over the foul line – to the mound, the usual routine.

He looped a curveball for a strike to Rafael Furcal, the usual routine.

He struck out a couple in the first, got a bunt down in the second, drove in a run in the third, singled again in the fifth, and took a shutout into the sixth.

All routine (except for the hits). All, just baseball.

And now Doug Davis will go try to rid his body of the cancer.

Davis, who will undergo surgery to remove his cancerous thyroid Thursday, said good-bye for a month or more with six strong innings, a pump of his fist, a tight-lipped nod of his head and a wave of his cap.

The people here wished him luck with a standing ovation and a request for a curtain call, which Davis – appreciative of the gesture, regretting the circumstances – granted.

He is 32 years old. A family history of thyroid cancer found him a couple weeks ago. And in the seventh inning, his baseball done for a while and the rigors of surgery and extended treatment and some yet unanswered questions waiting, Davis sat on the bench and massaged his throat right about where they found the lump, and where the surgeon will cut.


Monday, April 07, 2008

The Weekly Wrangle

Be sure and vote in tomorrow's run-off election (if you haven't voted early already).

Matt Glazer of Burnt Orange Report writes about how the TexBlog PAC shattered expectations to raise $3782.09 from 106 donors over the past week, putting the PAC in position to make a $5,000 donation to a Texas House candidate before the end of summer.

Refinish69 of Doing My Part For The Left gets election fever and decides to throw his hat in the ring in Elections 2008- Yet Another One.

Off the Kuff takes a look at where the early vote came from in the GOP runoff and hazarded a guess about what it might mean for the candidates.

The civil rights movement effected us all and continues to do so today. Over at Texas Kaos they're remembering the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King -- in ways both large and small.

Corn? Soy beans? Those are for eatin'! The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the next best Texas biodiesel crop-- algae!

XicanoPwr reports on Texas' Child Protective Services (CPS) removal of 183 young women, girls and boys, ages 6 months to 17 years, from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's compound near Eldorado.

Pete Olson, a Texas CD 22 candidate has elevated Hal's blog to that of a "prominent local Democrat blogger" In That's MISTER Half Empty, Bub, we get Hal's take on that.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has the latest on a new GOP scheme to finance toll roads around the state in Sen. Ogden Wants To Gamble With Your Money.

John Coby of Bay Area Houston comments on the high cost of being a Republican.

McBlogger takes a look at a certain court case involving some SoftSoap and a naughty child.

Stace Medellin of DosCentavos writes about Harry Reid's statement on Cesar Chavez's birthday. Reid gave the strongest response among Democrats and pointed to GOP obstructionist tactics regarding various issues affecting Latino Americans.

The Seventh Congressional District of Texas draws national attention and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the linkage in Skelly Goes National.

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us that the recent uproar involving a criminal complaint filed over a blog is a wake-up call for bloggers' rights.

CouldBeTrue over at South Texas Chisme wants to be shocked that Michael Chertoff decided to bypass all laws to build that d*mn fence! Republican arrogance and incompetence knows no bounds!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Evening Funnies

Conservative presidential political developments

Bob Barr, Libertarian:

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr eased into presidential politics Saturday with an announcement that he has formed an exploratory committee to gauge voter interest in his candidacy as Libertarian.

If there are "sufficient numbers" of people behind a Bob Barr presidential race, he's running, the former Republican said.

His announcement brought whoops and applause from the audience of 130 Libertarians, mostly from Midwestern states.

"We are at a tipping point," Barr said, "in terms of the willingness of voters, in significant numbers, to consider alternatives to the major [political] parties."

Barr conceded it was unlikely he could win, but he said his potential candidacy would be an opportunity to preach the Libertarian philosophy.

"I don't think any past performance by a Libertarian candidate is any benchmark," he said. "Are my expectations that the Libertarian candidate will win [the White House]? No. But with a credible candidate, anything is possible."

Barr does McCain considerably more damage than Nader could possibly be to Obama. Word also today of KindaSleazy Rice's interest in "running" for vice-president:

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has exhibited interest in becoming John McCain's vice presidential running mate, a Republican strategist says.

Dan Senor revealed during Sunday's edition of ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that Rice has been seeking support to be considered for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket this fall.

"Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for this," Senor said.

Absolutely fantastic news if he picks her. There would be no escaping the "four more years of Bush" label. And since McSame is so absurdly wrong on the three most important November issues -- Iraq, health care and the economy -- the Republicans' electoral disaster looms larger each passing day.

Now if we can just get Mrs. Clinton to hurry up and take a hint ...

Sunday Funnies (liar, liar, sniper fire)