Friday, April 30, 2010

Rick Perry's not bad, pretty good week

Shoots a coyote, the TeaBaggers scream with glee. Throws a sop to the Tejanos, they all scream in agony.

Arizona's tough new illegal immigration enforcement law would not be right for Texas, Gov. Rick Perry said on Thursday, upholding the state's long-held tradition of rejecting harsh anti-immigrant policies. ...

“I fully recognize and support a state's right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas,” Perry said in a written statement.

“For example, some aspects of the law turn law enforcement officers into immigration officials by requiring them to determine immigration status during any lawful contact with a suspected alien, taking them away from their existing law enforcement duties, which are critical to keeping citizens safe.”

If the comments at ever mean anything in the grand scheme -- certainly a debatable proposition -- then Rick Perry has just lost the election.

Though Texas is ruled by conservative Republicans, top GOP leaders from former Texas Gov. George W. Bush to Perry have rejected harsh and punitive immigration policies.

Both Leo Berman and Debbie Riddle (watch the video here and note that almost a third of the Texas House is Latino, thus any bill like this faces far more difficult odds) plan to introduce Arizona-like legislation when the Texas Lege next convenes in January 2011. The governor is signaling a more moderate direction ... which riles the TeaBaggers to no end.

“We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals,” Bush said in his 2007 State of the Union address. “We need to resolve the status of the immigrants that are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty.”

Perry took heat during this year's Republican primary for backing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, saying in a debate that the students are on a path to citizenship.

“Texas has a rich history with Mexico, our largest trading partner, and we share more than 1,200 miles of border, more than any other state,” Perry said Thursday. “As the debate on immigration reform intensifies, the focus must remain on border security and the federal government's failure to adequately protect our borders.

“Securing our border is a federal responsibility, but it is a Texas problem, and it must be addressed before comprehensive immigration reform is discussed.”

This stance is truly much more about homebuilder Bob Perry's campaign contributions to the governor than anything else. Perry Homes needs a large supply of cheap workers to keep building those crappy suburban tract houses, no matter what he says publicly (note that linked op-ed calling for immigration reform by Dallas business leaders is almost four years old).

Let's begin and end with this: no matter how much they squall, the TeaBaggers will never desert Rick Perry, even if there were a reasonable (by their standards, not mine) Libertarian option on the ballot. And that's why this is such an effective strategy by the governor: he undercuts a much-needed base of support Bill White must have to defeat him, at no actual political risk to himself.

Governor MoFo has had a good week playing his futures options. Meanwhile, has anybody seen a response from the White campaign yet? Me neither. Update: Stace has and blogged his response, with which I completely agree. More updates: I simply missed the White campaign's responses, which the Texas Tribune noted here and here.

Kuffner has more of the angles regarding the coyote affair. And Rachel was deliciously mean in her aggre-posting.

Last update: This is a good one ...

"I go over to Memorial Park and I have seen coyotes," the Democratic nominee for governor said during a campaign stop in Grand Prairie. "As soon as they see me, they run away."

Perry, of course, had a different experience. In February a coyote made the mistake of eyeballing Perry and his dog. The governor sent him to coyote heaven. So should Perry have been afraid of a scrawny little coyote?

"To me, I don't tend to be afraid of coyotes," White said.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Privatize the oil profits, socialize the cleanup

President Barack Obama pledged an all-out response Thursday to the massive oil spill now expected to reach the Gulf Coast within a day and dispatched top officials to the region to help coordinate defenses against the potential environmental disaster.

After exploding last week and killing eleven workers and spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico for a week, Deepwater Horizon's owner BP -- the former British Petroleum Company, known to you perhaps by their lovely green and yellow logo -- begged the federal government to help them clean up their mess.

It's much worse than they have been saying. In fact it's so bad that they are setting fire to oil on the water.

At the White House, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara said, "We are being very aggressive and we are prepared for the worst case." Federal officials announced inspections would begin immediately of all oil rigs in the Gulf and subpoena powers would be used in the gathering investigation. But the priority was to support the oil company BP PLC in employing booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants and controlled burns to fight the oil surging from the seabed.

Why is it that corporations always turn to the federal government for help when they screw things up really badly?

Brice-O'Hara said officials expected the leading edge of the spill to reach the Mississippi Delta sometime on Friday. Workers were racing from six staging areas to deploy more booms to try to hold off the slick and protect sea life and fragile wetlands. Winds and sea conditions Thursday prevented another controlled burn of the kind tried successfully a day earlier with a small test section of the slick.

Top Homeland Security, Interior and Environmental Protection Agency officials were going to the region. Officials emphasized at a White House briefing that all costs of the defense and recovery will ultimately fall on the industry, not taxpayers.

That's encouraging to hear, but for some reason I still kinda doubt it. BP has to be one of the unluckiest companies around. Their refineries explode almost regularly, so maybe their offshore rigs are just following suit. Enough about their incompetence, though.

Obama spoke Thursday with five Gulf state governors from Florida to Texas.

The administration declared the spill to be one of national significance, a designation that eases the transfer of personnel and equipment to the region from all parts of the country.

So the president called and spoke with Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour (MS), Bob Riley (AL) and Charlie Crist -- all Republicans; most of them TeaBaggers but one definite TeaBaggee  --and pledged federal assistance in the cleanup.

Do you suppose any of them said, "no thanks, Mr. President"? "We don't need your socialist help"? 

Do you suppose the Texas governor confronted the US president about that target? Or bragged about blasting that coyote? Or reiterated his desire to secede from the Union, maybe?

When summer settles in and the hurricanes start to swirl and the Gulf Coast governors are forced -- like the rest of us -- to dread the annual onslaught from the sea, will they come crying to Uncle Sam for help if one of their cities gets washed away?

One thing they can certainly count on: the president won't just be flying overhead looking out the window.

Update: John Coby with more.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stop Rick Perry before he kills again

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a message for wily coyotes out there: Don't mess with my dog.

Perry says he needed just one shot from his laser-sighted pistol to take down a coyote that was menacing his dog during an early morning jog in an undeveloped area near Austin.

Perry told The Associated Press he sometimes carries his pistol, loaded with hollow-pointed bullets, when he jogs on trails because he's scared of snakes — and that he'd seen coyotes in that area.

When the coyote came out of the brush toward his daughter's labrador retriever puppy on a February jog, he charged it and shot it with his .380 Ruger pistol.

"Don't attack my dog or you might get shot ... if you're a coyote," Perry said.

Hollow points and a laser sight on a .38 caliber pistol, apparently worn while jogging. To protect himself -- allegedly -- against snakes and his dog from a coyote.

I'm sure this is because his detail of bodyguards (several similarly-heavily-armed Texas Rangers) just don't afford him enough protection from the crazed Austin liberal with a gun, or the adoring throngs of conservatives that might bum-rush him Justin Bieber-style while he's outside the gates of the $9000-a-month mansion we're all paying for him to live in.

And I just thought he was afraid to debate Bill White.

This man is the biggest coward alive.

Updates: And plenty of 'em. Juanita Jean ...

The creepy news is that he carries the Rugar (sic) because ‘he is afraid of snakes.’  Whoa!  Why should he fear his own species?”

“To make matters worse,” she grins, “I am a little old lady.  I admit that I arm myself against snakes when I’m out walking.  With a damn stick.  It’s a dead stick.  And it’s not even loaded.  And I’m a girl.”

“And to make matters even worse than worse, his hollow bullet Rugar (sic) is laser sighted.  What’s he do?  Shoot at PowerPoint presentations he doesn’t like?”

-- Douchebag Robbie had another orgasm dreaming about pulling Rick's trigger.

-- The AP report notes that Governor MoFo (you really have to click on this link and watch the techno mashup) was without his security detail. Still seems overly cautious to carry a .380 on a run, if for nothing else the chafe factor.

Them again, if you're so afraid of a snake that you have to carry a high caliber handgun with a laser sight and hollow points, then maybe you don't have anything to get chafed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday Funnies on Monday (your papers, please edition)

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance can't believe that school is finishing up and summer will soon be upon us. Before it gets too hot, here's a look at what's been going on this past week.

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy takes a look at the beginning of the campaign for CD-17 between Chet Edwards and Bill Flores. Also, Teddy covers money in local politics by looking at the campaign finance reports of College Station and Bryan municipal candidates. LoCS also covers the week in headlines.

TXsharon of BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas stepped in DoodyGate this week! It appears Range Resources fabricated a toxic spill to cover up their illegal dump. When a toxic spill causes less hassle than doody, you know the Texas Railroad Commission "regulations" need updating. Will the City of Denton exercise their new found powers?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme urges you to tell the Texas Legislature that legalizing drugs will stop the border violence. No drug profits. No drug war.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the Texas GOP's ploy to raise taxes next year, if they're left in power, and then blame it on Obama. Let's stop them: Dewhurst lets the cat out of the bag.

Help send the Texas Cloverleaf to Netroots Nation by voting on a DFA scholarship.

This week McBlogger would like to send out a massive thank you to Hank Gilbert for standing up and actually calling out Toll Road Todd for beating up, yet again, on Teh Gays.

Just a few weeks after WhosPlayin wrote a blog post pointing out Lewisville ISD's illegal "zero tolerance" policy, the school board unanimously overturned it. But WhosPlayin continues to look for answers.

Off the Kuff took a closer look at that Rasmussen poll from last week.

The same thing that caused the deaths of miners in the Upper Big Branch mine is the cause of the bursting of the housing bubble, the Lehman crash, and the implosion of our financial system. Read more at PDiddie's Brains and Eggs post entitled Consumer regulation as coal mine canary.

There is an old saw which says it is a poor general who blames his soldiers for defeat. With the question of Texas public education still unresolved and hurling toward the latest crisis of funding and quality, lightseeker at TexasKaos takes on a San Antonio Express editorial which proceeds to bash teachers and unions as the overlooked villains in this recurring horror show. Check it out : On Teacher Bashing , or Beating Up the Easy Target in Educational Failures.

Neil at Texas Liberal is pleased to announce that the blog now has a New York City correspondent. Lyuba Halkyn, a daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, will now offer up her views for the blog reading public. This post also has a great picture of a blimp flying over Manhattan in the 1930's.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What if the TeaBaggers were all black?

Or all brown -- Mexican-Americans? Or Arab-Americans?

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters -- the black protesters -- spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protesters -- these black protesters with guns -- be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Wise has -- as you already know -- plenty more examples of this kind of white privilege, and I urge you to go read the entire essay.

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

Truth this brutal makes this douchebag's head explode, and this asshole grind his nasty yellow teeth right down to the gums.

Sunday Funnies

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Ten Earth Day pledges

1. Go into a field full of methane-emitting cows and/or TeaBaggers and cork them.

2. Turn off my car's ignition after I've parked it in the garage instead of leaving it running in case I need to make a fast getaway.

3. Rent a helicopter (that runs on used cooking oil!) and airdrop thousands of plastic recycle bins over Houston to create awareness of this important issue.

4. Create "teachable moments" throughout the day by pointing at people drinking out of plastic water bottles and yelling into a bullhorn, "Resource-sucking energy whore!!!"

5. Insert Breathe Right nasal strips inside my nostrils so that I actually breathe less.

6. Start a coral reef in the bathtub for eventual relocation to the coast of Australia.

7. Harness solar power by using nothing but the sun and a magnifying glass to light my joint.

8. Combine bicycling and public transportation by attaching a grappling hook to the back of a metro bus and having it tow me and my Schwinn into town.

9. Practice water conservation with two everyday objects: a chamber pot and an open window.

10. Finally,  hit myself repeatedly in the face with a two-by-four while blindfolded so I can get a sense of Earth Day from the perspective of a climate-change denier.

Thanks to Bill in Portland Maine.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Consumer protection as coal mine canary

Officials say it's too soon to pinpoint the exact cause of the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that took the lives of 29 miners, but we certainly know enough to identify the root cause. It's the same cause that led to the 2007 Crandall Canyon mine disaster in Utah that killed six miners and three rescue workers. It's the same cause that led to the 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 12 miners. And it's also the same cause that led to the Lehman Brothers disaster, the Citigroup disaster, the bursting of the housing bubble, and the implosion of our financial system: a badly broken regulatory system.

The loss of life at Upper Big Branch happened in one horrific instant. The economic collapse has not killed people, but it has gradually destroyed millions of lives. Both calamities occurred because elected officials who should have been creating a regulatory system that protects working families instead created a system that protects the corporations it was meant to watch over.


Regulations are "very difficult to comply with," and "so many of the laws" are "nonsensical." Those are the words of Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, the company that owns the Upper Big Branch mine and has a grotesque history of safety violations.

In the case of the financial industry, the reason it can't be regulated adequately is because, as Alan Greenspan put it last week in testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, "the complexity is awesome," and regulators "are reaching far beyond [their] capacities."

That is, of course, exactly the way Wall Street designed it. To the financial world "awesome complexity" is a feature, not a bug.

Something else the mining and financial industries share: the revolving door between regulators and those they're supposed to be regulating.

Congressmen leave Congress to become lobbyists, they lobby their former associates in Congress to weaken the business oversight regulation which helps their corporate clients make more money. Meanwhile the little guy loses his home, loses his job, loses his retirement.  Oh yeah, people also lose their lives (not only in collapsed mines but also because they can't afford healthcare, either with or without insurance). But profits go up.  Bonuses go up. Stock prices go up.

I'm sure there will be new regulations written in response to this latest mining disaster. Just as we're about to get yet another grab-bag of financial regulations. But by the time these regulations make their way through the Congressional sausage grinder, the lobbyists will have added in the loopholes that ensure that the fix is in -- and that the American people get the short end of the stick. Again.

There is no sense of urgency in Washington about making sure these corporations play by the rules. In 2007, after the Utah mining disaster, we got angry, we held hearings, we supposedly fixed things, then we moved on. Three years later, 29 miners die. And the cycle starts again.

In the same way, in 2003, after the Enron and WorldCom disasters, we got angry, we held hearings, we supposedly fixed things, then we moved on. Five years later, we got AIG, Lehman Brothers, Citi, and an economic crisis that devastated -- and continues to devastate -- the lives of millions. Will we just sit back and let the cycle start again?

Disasters -- both mining and financial -- are going to keep happening until we re-evaluate our priorities, and force our elected officials -- and the regulators they pick -- to put the public interest above the special interests and their lobbyists in Washington.

Glenn Smith at Dog Canyon adds ... 

Capitalism has been the engine of our society and America has been its poster child in the world. The power of the market forces that drive capitalism has brought unprecedented wealth and success to our nation and much of its population. However like a growing fire that starts out useful and productive providing light and warmth and heat to cook by, unrestrained capitalism is quickly consuming all the available fuel and is shifting from being productive to becoming destructive. The root of this lies in raw capitalism’s core; its obligation to the bottom line. As a fire requires fuel, capitalism requires profit. When confined behind a glass shade and fed a slow supply of kerosene an oil lamp can light a room and make its inhabitants more productive, but if not controlled, that same flame can destroy the house and kill its inhabitants. Raw capitalism burns with the same power and we are quickly losing control.

Flames ripped through the mine shafts of the Upper Big Branch mine in a massive explosion. Those flames were fed by the explosive gases that were allowed to collect unventilated deep below the surface of the earth. The destructive force of that explosion bent steel rails, collapsed tunnels and shattered lives. Unregulated capitalism has bent our political system, collapsed our financial system and is shattering lives. It must be contained again within a robust and sturdy regulatory system. We need strong, well staffed agencies with the legal powers to manage the mining, the financial and food agencies among others. Additionally we need to douse the influence of lobbyists and industry insiders to ensure that our capitalism remains a source of light in our society and doesn’t consume us all in the name of greater profits.

And Arianna Huffington closes ...

The lives of hardworking Americans have to take precedence over the bottom line at Massey Energy and on Wall Street.

This isn't a matter of right vs. left. It's a matter of right vs. wrong.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sachs of Shit

If corporations are people now, then why isn't Goldman Sachs already in jail?

We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting.

And Goldman isn’t the only financial firm accused of doing this. According to the Pulitzer-winning investigative journalism Web site ProPublica, several banks helped market designed-to-fail investments on behalf of the hedge fund Magnetar, which was betting on that failure.

So what role did fraud play in the financial crisis? Neither predatory lending nor the selling of mortgages on false pretenses caused the crisis. But they surely made it worse, both by helping to inflate the housing bubble and by creating a pool of assets guaranteed to turn into toxic waste once the bubble burst.

As for the alleged creation of investments designed to fail, these may have magnified losses at the banks that were on the losing side of these deals, deepening the banking crisis that turned the burst housing bubble into an economy-wide catastrophe.

The obvious question is whether financial reform of the kind now being contemplated would have prevented some or all of the fraud that now seems to have flourished over the past decade. And the answer is yes.

And yet the Republican Senate contingent once again lines up in lockstep opposition to reforms that would prevent the banksters from ruining us all over again.

What do you suppose it would take for a Republican to vote against Wall Street?  That's probably as far-fetched a proposition as a Catholic pedophile priest converting to Southern Baptist.

Update: Tom Toles nails it.

If 37% of TeaBaggers have a college or post-graduate degree ...

... how come so many of them spell worse than a fifth-grader?

-- If 22% of TeaBaggers are over the age of 65 -- thus receiving Medicare health benefits and Social Security income from the federal government -- why are they opposed to "government-run healthcare"?

-- If TeaBaggers are paying lower taxes under Obama -- and indeed, 52% say their own taxes are 'fair' -- why do 82% of them think their taxes are going up?

-- Finally, how can it be that 40% of them support their own Congressional representative when only 1% of them approve of the job Congress is doing?

These are among the many imponderables associated with this overexposed, over-hyped, too noisy, too obnoxious faction of the electorate.

This monumental ignorance cannot all be attributable to the FOX News intelligence quotient (even though 47% cite that as their sole or primary source of information -- compared with 19% of the general public).

It's equally imponderable that all of this screaming and whining like babies that's been going for nearly a year now -- since last summer's townhalls on healthcare reform -- continues to attract so much media attention.

Update:, via jobsanger, with another good question.

What this country needs is another conservative network

Thanks, Dr. Crane.

Kelsey Grammer, one of Hollywood's most outspoken conservative actors, is now promoting a new television network: RightNetwork, aimed at his political brethren. ...

"On television, through partners including Comcast, RightNetwork delivers programming on demand that enables our audience to watch what they want, when they want," it reads, noting that the lineup will focus on "entertainment with Pro-America, Pro-Business, Pro-Military sensibilities."

Praise the Lawd and pass the ammunition.

There's no question that the new network has taken a confident approach to its own online promotional campaign. "There's wrong, and there's right," Grammer says in a clip featured on the RightNetwork website. "RightNetwork: All that's right with the world."

In addition to the Grammer promo clip, the RightNetwork site features trailers for three programs: "Poker and Politics," where entertainers and pundits talk politics around the table; "Running," a reality show about six congressional candidates; and "Right to Laugh," a comedy show that will probably have no shortage of jokes at President Obama's expense.

One of the six (Republican -- does that even need to be said?) candidates featured on "Running" will be Dr. Donna Campbell, Lloyd Doggett's doomed opponent in Texas' CD-10. Looney-toon Andrew Breitbart will similarly be a bloviator on the "P&P" offering, noting:

"My entire business model is built upon how horrible a president Barack Obama is," he says, chuckling.

First truth to come out of his mouth that I have ever discovered.

Do you think FOX is worried?

"The McVeigh Tapes" airs tonight

Rachel Maddow previewed her 2-hour documentary revealing the tape-recorded interviews of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh on The Daily Show last week:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rachel Maddow
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

On the anniversary of the OKC bombing -- which, you will remember, was instigated because of  McVeigh's objections to how the feds handled the circumstances surrounding Waco and Ruby Ridge -- it is valuable to remember that seditious words and actions are precisely what is motivating the TeaBagger movement. They are protected by the First Amendment and rightly so. But the threat they pose to "Homeland Security" pales in comparison to the damage caused by another Murrican going off the rails because of the venomous bile spewed by the likes of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, et al.

The best advice that can be given is for them to re-leash their tongues. Are they capable of locating some grounds for decency? I will not be interested in hearing any apologies after the fact.

If somebody dies or something is blown up and the perpetrators indicate they got motivation from any of the afore-mentioned subjects, or more generally Fox News, then I will want to see arrests made and trials conducted.

Update: More on the documentary, including some reactions and observations from the Murrah building bombing's survivors, here.

The Weekly Wrangle

April showers and May flowers and all that (though the best of the bluebonnet season is already here; get out for a drive this weekend). The time is also ripe for this week's roundup of blog highlights from the Texas Progressive Alliance.

Something bubbles up from the ground in Bartonville. Could this be why so many dogs nearby have cancer? Since drilling toxins were found in Barnett Shale residents' blood and urine, maybe it's time to test the animals too. TXsharon struggles to keep pace with the latest Barnett Shale news at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

The Texas Cloverleaf highlights the case of the Christmas goose in Flower Mound.

Off the Kuff writes about the pitch from the gambling industry.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders about the wisdom of building a silly, damaging border fence while allowing foreign companies to control our ports.

It was a wild week for the economy and, surprisingly, for economic history. McBlogger takes a look at one historical revisionist who likes misrepresentation almost as much as Ayn Rand. Then he goes on to explain just what Goldman Sachs did.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote a comprehensive preview post of the upcoming election in the United Kingdom. Election Day is May 6. The post is being updated daily with new developments and it took some time to write. So please give it a look if you find the topic to be interest.

Bay Area Houston finds another one of Bob Perry's bitches.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shows that the 2006 Texas tax swap created a $5 billion annual budget hole and the bill is coming due next year: Texas Republicans created a budget shortfall to cut programs that help working Texans.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw catches up with Johnny Cronyn . He and Mitch McConnell "continue[s] to serve the banksters of Wall Street their breakfast in bed." More to the point, Libby explains the battle lines being drawn between Obama and the Dems and those lap dogs of the privileged, the Republican Pary. Check it out: John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, the GOP Stand by Their Wall Street Man .

The TeaBaggers and the regular GOP nuts fought each other to a stand-off on Election Runoff Day. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the sordid details.

In Flower Mound, gas drillers have crossed the line into express advocacy in local elections, sending out a letter to mineral owners telling them who to vote for in a town council election. WhosPlayin has the deets.

Nine thousand dollars a month

That's what Texas taxpayers have been fronting for Rick Perry's living accommodations while the Governor's mansion is being renovated (since October 2007).

Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in the history of Texas, has been on the public payroll since 1984. That was when he was first elected a state representative -- before he was agriculture commissioner (1990), long before he was lt. governor (1998).

Rick Perry has essentially never held an honest job, never drawn a paycheck that wasn't paid for with your taxes. Yet he runs for office as an outsider (despite what he claims). He was a Democrat until 1989, and became a TeaBagger earlier this year when that came into vogue.

Texans have been born, raised, gone to college and had children of their own not knowing any other governor besides a moment when Rick Perry was not drawing a paycheck from their tax dollars.

How long is too long to be governor of Texas? How much of Rick Perry is too much?

I've had enough. How about you?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Perry 2010: Shooting blanks

Governor MoFo ducked the Teabaggers yesterday and went to NASCAR instead. The photo below classically demonstrates both his fetish with firearms and his underlying impotence, not to mention his constant overcompensating for it in inappropriate ways (taking conservative bloggers to a shooting range, relishing and savoring the state's execution of an innocent man, forcing poor children into greater poverty and worse health, and on and on and on).

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's caption: Texas Gov. Rick Perry has some fun with a six-shooter filled with blanks at an event in downtown Fort Worth to kickoff a weekend of NASCAR racing at the Texas Motor Speedway, Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TeaBaggers, plain ol' GOP nuts battle to a draw

Voters routed state Reps. Delwin Jones and Norma Chavez on Tuesday, turned back former state Rep. Rick Green's bid for a spot on the Texas Supreme Court and handed victories to at least three candidates who appeared to benefit from the Tea Party insurgency in Texas. ... Republican voters in Lubbock and four other counties ousted long-time state Rep. Jones in favor of Charles Perry, a Tea Party organizer who campaigned for change and apparently got voters worked up about his candidacy: The runoff drew 17,501 voters — more than most primaries in March turned out.

Here's an Ode to Delwin Jones. Involuntarily retired from public service again at 86, he first served in the Texas House in 1965 (as a Democrat then), was swept out in the '70's when the Panhandle led the charge of the Reagan Democrats to the GOP, and returned in 1989 as a born-again Republican. So long and thanks for all the fish.

In fact the wins for TeaBaggers mostly came in in WTX, and certainly from the rural parts of the state. (Quico Canseco -- who hosted a phone bank for Scott Brown back in January -- won the right to lose to Ciro Rodriguez in CD-25 in the fall.) The best news of the day came in the loss of true lunatic Rick Green in his bid to join the other slightly-less-extreme-wingnuts on the Texas Supreme Court, and another social conservative dispatched from the SBOE. Those are defeats for the Texas Tea-liban faction. Some are still celebrating, of course.

In Harris County, results appear similarly muddled from the starboard perspective:

Depending upon your point of view, Harris County is either the leader of the social conservative movement in Texas or is the millstone around the neck of the Republican Party of Texas, slowly choking off the oxygen and turning the state purple. In the largest runoff turnout in a decade, Harris County voters took a page from Nancy Reagan's playbook and just said no to broadening the base of the party.

That won't slow Dan Patrick down from performing purity tests however, because Republicans are much more scared of the Tea Party phenomenon than Democrats are. Ick-Rot. Gotsta love it. Thanks, Big Jolly.

Here is a fair warning for Texas Democrats: get your shit together. It's going to be uphill and against the wind as it is, and with continuing nonsense from the Right appealing to the lowest common intelligence denominator, you need to get. on. your. game.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not Elena Kagan

She would move the SCOTUS to the right, especially as it regards executive branch authority.

It is far from clear who Obama will chose to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, but Elena Kagan, his current Solicitor General and former Dean of Harvard Law School, is on every list of the most likely replacements.  Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog has declared her "the prohibitive front-runner" and predicts:  "On October 4, 2010, Elena Kagan Will Ask Her First Question As A Supreme Court Justice."  The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin made the same prediction.

The prospect that Stevens will be replaced by Elena Kagan has led to the growing perception that Barack Obama will actually take a Supreme Court dominated by Justices Scalia (Reagan), Thomas (Bush 41), Roberts (Bush 43), Alito (Bush 43) and Kennedy (Reagan) and move it further to the Right.  Joe Lieberman went on Fox News this weekend to celebrate the prospect that "President Obama may nominate someone in fact who makes the Court slightly less liberal," while The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus predicted:  "The court that convenes on the first Monday in October is apt to be more conservative than the one we have now."  Last Friday, I made the same argument:   that replacing Stevens with Kagan risks moving the Court to the Right, perhaps substantially to the Right (by "the Right," I mean:  closer to the Bush/Cheney vision of Government and the Thomas/Scalia approach to executive power and law).

This is bad news for us progressives. The more I learn, the more Glenn Greenwald is making me nauseous.

Consider how amazing it is that such a prospect is even possible.  Democrats around the country worked extremely hard to elect a Democratic President, a huge majority in the House, and 59 Democratic Senators -- only to watch as the Supreme Court is moved further to the Right?  Even for those who struggle to find good reasons to vote for Democrats, the prospect of a better Supreme Court remains a significant motive (the day after Obama's election, I wrote that everyone who believed in the Constitution and basic civil liberties should be happy at the result due to the numerous Supreme Court appointments Obama would likely make, even if for no other reason).

There will, of course, be some Democrats who will be convinced that any nominee Obama chooses is the right one by virtue of being Obama's choice.  But for those who want to make an informed, rational judgment, it's worthwhile to know her record.  I've tried here to subject that record to as comprehensive and objective an assessment as possible.  And now is the time to do this, because if Kagan is nominated, it's virtually certain that she will be confirmed.  There will be more than enough Republicans joining with the vast majority of Democrats to confirm her; no proposal ever loses in Washington for being insufficiently progressive (when is the last time such a thing happened?).  If a Kagan nomination is to be stopped, it can only happen before her nomination is announced by Obama, not after.

More Greenwald, in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! ...

Elena Kagan actually has very little record to speak of that would enable anybody to know where it is that she falls on the political spectrum.

And I think that issue, the fact that she has so little record, is disturbing in and of itself. I mean, why would progressives or Democrats, with an opportunity to replace somebody like Justice Stevens, possibly want to take a huge risk of appointing somebody to the Court whose judicial philosophy can’t really be discerned, because she’s spoken out almost never on most of the key constitutional and legal questions of the day? And that even includes, over the last decade, when there was an assault on the Constitution and the rule of law by the George Bush administration, and virtually every law professor, academician, anyone of note in the legal community, spoke out against what it was that Bush and Cheney were doing. She was completely silent. You can’t find a single utterance from her, in writing or orally, where she expressed a view one way or the other on the radical executive power claims of the Bush administration.

And what little there is to see comes from her confirmation hearing as Solicitor General and a law review article she wrote in 2001, in which she expressed very robust defenses of executive power, including the power of the president to indefinitely detain anybody around the world as an enemy combatant, based on the Bush-Cheney theory that the entire world is a battlefield and the US is waging a worldwide war.


Well, we know that this administration loves the idea of pleasing conservatives, and anybody who is pleasing to conservatives is somebody who is much more attractive as a political appointee than somebody who is perceived as liked by the left. ...

So, Elena Kagan is perceived as someone who is very good at accommodating right-wing perspectives. She did when she was the dean of Harvard Law School. And at her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General, Republicans couldn’t praise her lavishly enough. I mean, she had a colloquy with Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, where they were in complete agreement on virtually every issue involving terrorism and executive power. And even the furthest right-wing polemicist, like Bill Kristol and Ed Whelan, who currently writes for National Review and was a lawyer in Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel, have praised her quite, quite emphatically as someone whose views on national security and terrorism and civil liberties they find quite palatable.

... And simply politically, it’s easier to get confirmed someone who’s perceived as being, and who is, a moderate, or even a conservative, than it is to get someone confirmed who is a liberal.

Senate Republicans have already set this one up. They'll fight anyone who is perceived by them as 'unacceptable'. Obama has no stomach for another fight in the Senate and neither does Harry Reid. (Although this is welcome news.)

Personally I'm going to steel myself for yet another unpalatable Obama decision.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Incarcerating debt in Harris County

(Open Source Dem contributes the following as my business continues to slow my own posting. If you wish to comment send me an e-mail ... that contact data is in my profile. For reading on background consult these two posts from Scott Henson's Grits for Breakfast, "Incarceration rate is a dysfunction indicator" at  -- enjoy its TeaBagger slant; this from John Floyd and this from Tom Kirkendall.)

The high incarceration rate is more an executive or legislative than a judicial issue. More immediately, it is the other side of the coin from the low and biased political participation rate which could blow Democrats away this fall. Other than full employment for lawyers, what will our entire ticket be running on in November?

What one concrete platform plank will deliver Harris County Demnocrats a majority in county government despite opposition from the other party in county or, for that matter, city government?

Building and staffing jails is the main focus of county government after roads and bridges, before even providing public financing private development of commercial real estate, entertainment venues, or mega-churches. Buying vehicles, and recently computers, is in fourth place. The only technical proficiency we exhibit in any of this is paying for it with debt, serviced by regressive and indirect taxes.

Our core competency in government appears to be “press”, “clerical”, “optics” or “cosmetics” -- nothing like public health, public works, public safety, or public finance. These are all in the hands of private consultants or public employee unions.

Moreover, our involvement in all of this is little more than deals. Not plans, not standards ... deals.  No Democrat in county or city office is against any deal that benefits the main contributors to both parties. We cannot even exploit a “bidding war”.  Annise Parker made some noises about the 'one jail/two arenas' deal, but capitulated in the end. I sort of thought maybe we would get a dog bone out of that deal in the form of a public defender program, but I see no sign of that now.

What did we get? Chump change, I expect.

Once Democratic and Republican office-holders are all “read-in” and “bought-off” every deal goes through unanimously.

This is epitomized by the unusable jail ($68 MM) at the intersection of Commerce and Austin. Tilman Fertitta’s rumored amusement park may set a new record for absurdity in government, beyond even Bob Lanier’s Giant Sewage Pump.

Nobody in jail over any of that; both parties utterly complicit.

Politically, the problem with this bipartisan concession-tending and collusive bargaining is that it leaves the dominant party in Harris County free to raise money as the ruling party while running as the opposition party. We are left on the sidewalk holding the bag, wringing our hands, and apologizing for a government we are no more than decoration in.

I fail to see how we rouse the “new base” or “surge” voters by telling them we are smarter and nicer than the other candidates, mailing out the same sort of family portraits, and promising to do precisely nothing in return for their straight-ticket votes.

We are furnishing little more than a racial medley of groundskeepers and paper-shufflers for the bond lawyers, land developers, slumlords, and car dealers who literally own our debt-driven county and city government. The debt and derivative book -- a secret hiding in plain sight -- drives everything.

If the Tea Party/GOP runs on repudiating public debt, don’t be surprised if they win. Democrats did exactly that here in 1874. I am not for that today, but only because the IMF has other third-world regimes to worry about.

The Tea Party/GOP program makes no sense fiscally at any echelon of government. But, then neither does ours, assuming we even have a program other than whatever the usual suspects push past the Chamber of Commerce and onto our office-squatters.

At least the Chamber gets dues. We have a “brand”, but they have a lien.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Weekly Wrangle

Barbecue grills and air conditioners are getting fired up; bluebonnets and baseball are in the air, crawfish are being boiled, suntan lotion is being slathered. Here are the weekly spring-at-long-last highlights from the Texas Progressive Alliance.

At Texas Vox, our thoughts remain with the victims of the West Virginia mining disaster, the worst mining accident in 25 years.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know why Republicans like Victoria's DA Steve Tyler, Nueces County's DA Anna Jimenez and (who could forget) Alberto Gonzales abuse their offices?

The Texas Cloverleaf thinks Rick Perry is eyeing 2012 before 2010 is even over with.

WhosPlayin is watching the situation in Flower Mound, where a group of citizens successfully petitioned to have an oil and gas drilling moratorium put on the ballot only to get some mostly frivolous ethics charges filed against them by a former Town Councilman.

Continuing his examination of partisan voting trends, Off the Kuff looks at how voting changed in judicial races between 2002 and 2006.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has an update as the runoff to determine the challenger to Rep. Diana Maldonado approaches: HD-52 GOP Runoff - issues take a back seat.

Bay Area Houston compares Sarah Palin's intelligence on safe sex and nuclear disarmament.

They're everywhere! They're everywhere! Emissions, which are really toxins, are throughout the entire Barnett Shale area. Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

McBlogger loves it when Bill Hammond of the Texas Association of Business let's Teh Stupid flow freely.

FOX News' 24-hour "War of the Worlds"-styled fearmongering caught the attention of PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy reports on how the campaign in the Republican primary for Texas Congressional District 17 has turned negative. Also, Teddy takes a first look at the College Station City Council Place 2 candidates and at the Bryan City Council Single Member District 3 candidates. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

Libby Shaw asks a simple question over at TexasKaos -- So, How will Rick Perry deliver access to affordable health care to Texas? . She points out that "According to new federal regulations, Rick Perry and the health insurance companies in Texas have 90 days to deliver a plan that will cover uninsured Texans".

Neil at Texas Liberal posted about an '80's icon: Disco Inferno!Learn The Interesting History Of Disco Music Despite the bad historical reviews disco receives, a new book says that the music was an important social indicator in a time of societal gains for women and gays.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The 1965 Houston Astros in 2010

Last night's turn-back-the-clock promotion was greatly anticipated by this fan, and we got to Minute Maid Park yesterday in plenty of time to receive the freebie, a shooting-star jersey similar to the ones the team wore when they broke in the gleaming new Astrodome 45 years ago.

Jimmy "Toy Cannon" Wynn, Larry Dierker, and a handful of others who took the field in '65 were on hand to sign autographs and reminisce. The Jumbotron was in black-and-white for the entire evening and the original Astrodome organist replaced the loud rock and country music normally heard between innings and during pitching changes. See more photos here and here.

But the '10 'Stros played like the '65 version, losing 9-6 to the Phils on the strength of a mammoth shot by Ryan Howard and better bullpen pitching after old-timer-in-waiting Jamie Moyer left the game. 

One of the things I really like about Drayton McLane's stewardship of the Astros has been his consistent respect and celebration of the franchise's history. The Bagwell and Biggio retirements over the past couple of seasons, and last night's ceremony as well, serve to provide a real link for those of us who grew up with this team.

But one of the things I really don't like about Drayton McLane has been his consistently poor personnel decisions, from GMs to managers to free agents (anybody remember Doug Drabek and Calvin Swindell? Start there and come forward). They are currently 0-6 on the season, can't hit a lick and are woefully talent-thin on the mound. It's going to be a very long season for these guys if they continue to be as dreadful as they have been so far.

But as long as a day at the ball park can keep beating a day at the office, I suppose I'll still be a fan.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 09, 2010

Justice Stevens retiring

Thanks for your service from a grateful nation.

“I don’t think of myself as a liberal at all,” (Justice John Paul Stevens) told (New York Times reporter Jeffrey Rosen) during a (September 2007) interview in his chambers, laughing and shaking his head. “I think as part of my general politics, I’m pretty darn conservative.” Stevens said that his views haven’t changed since 1975, when as a moderate Republican he was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Supreme Court. Stevens’s judicial hero is Potter Stewart, the Republican centrist, whom Stevens has said he admires more than all of the other justices with whom he has served. He considers himself a “judicial conservative,” he said, and only appears liberal today because he has been surrounded by increasingly conservative colleagues. “Including myself,” he said, “every judge who’s been appointed to the court since Lewis Powell” — nominated by Richard Nixon in 1971 — “has been more conservative than his or her predecessor. Except maybe Justice Ginsburg. That’s bound to have an effect on the court.”

He was appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975 to replace William O. Douglas.

Stevens was able to draw the support of the court's swing votes, now-retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy, to rein in or block some Bush administration policies, including the detention of suspected terrorists following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, its tilt toward protecting businesses from some lawsuits and its refusal to act against global warming.

He also penned the dissent in Bush v. Gore, writing:

What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

A life well-lived, and time left to enjoy the remaining winter.

A member of a prominent and wealthy Chicago family, Stevens spoke proudly of being a Cubs fan who was at Wrigley Field for the 1932 World Series game when Babe Ruth supposedly pointed to the spot where he would hit a home run. He met many celebrities of the day when they stayed at his family's hotel in Chicago, including aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. ...

Even in his late 80s, Stevens said he swam every day and continued playing tennis several times a week. He described reading legal briefs on the beach, noting his colleagues' jealousy when in court one day he opened a brief and grains of sand spilled out.

Speculation on his successor abounds.

Update: Katie Shellnutt notes that Stevens is the only remaining Protestant on the Court -- all the other justices are Catholic or Jewish, and two of the leading contenders to replace Stevens are Jewish as well.

Newt Gingrich 2012

No question about it.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential presidential candidate in 2012, called Barack Obama on Thursday "the most radical president in American history" who oversees a "secular, socialist machine."

Gingrich reminded conservative activists why he was one of the nation's most polarizing leaders in the 1990s, opening the Southern Republican Leadership Conference with a biting assessment of Obama's policies.

"The most radical president in American history has now thrown down the gauntlet to the American people: 'I run a machine. I own Washington and there's nothing you can do about it,'" Gingrich said. He urged his fellow Republicans to stop what he called Obama's "secular, socialist machine." ...

Gingrich has not declared his intentions for 2012, but his appearances in New Orleans had all the trappings of a fledging presidential campaign, from an intimate meeting with tea party activists — his staff photographer took grip-and-grin pictures of Gingrich posing with every activist — to his wade-through-the-crowd entrance at the GOP conference, with the thumping beat of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" drawing the crowd to its feet.

He said Obama's policies — particularly health care and economic stimulus legislation — have put the United States on the road to socialism. The former speaker did not specifically explain why he thought Obama is a secularist, though he did say the GOP wasn't afraid of recognizing faith's role in American society.

The code word "secular" is designed to motivate evangelicals whom Newt hopes will be forgetful about his personal moral corruption. If the Lamestream Corporate Media can't bring itself to challenge his lies, then maybe he has a good chance to be the nominee.

Will he say yes to a presidential campaign?

"That will be up to God," he said, "and the American people."

Yes. Well Newt, I can't speak for God but on behalf of the American people would you kindly fall down a well or collapse of a heart attack or find some other less painful way to just go TF away?

Quintessential Fox

Via TPM and TNR.

Everything you need to know about Fox News is captured in this screenshot: the American flags, the fear-mongering image in the upper-right corner, the blond anchor with a facial expression that somehow combines sneering with absolute terror.

Please view it in context:

FOX News is a modern day, 24-hour "War of the Worlds" radio program made for teevee. It isn't a news channel, it is an entertainment channel dressed up like a news channel feeding its viewers the worst-case scenario for everything Democrats, liberals, and now Republican moderates do. It has the same mass-hysteria impact War of the Worlds had also; just less sudden and longer lasting.

The constant fear-and-loathing narrative is designed to keep an audience of dedicated viewers slightly on edge all the time, eventually stoking desperation and anger into violent action. Even its creator has deluded himself about what his creature has become.

FOX has become probably the most dangerous internal threat to the Republic.

What do you think should be done about it?

Update: Doctor Biobrain wonders why there haven't been more instances of FOX viewers taking the code words to heart and acting on them. I believe that there will be more such instances, and wonder myself why we should wait until someone dies to do something about the source of the instigation.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Opening Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes the start of the baseball season with another highlight reel of the week's political blogging activity.

Off the Kuff looked at how voting returns changed in Texas from 2004 to 2008 in the Presidential and judicial races.

Aruba Petroleum: The Epic Fail of the Barnett Shale. Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS brings you 55 posts to document this failure of epic proportions.

Marshmallow Peeps make sweeping endorsements of Democrats on The Texas Cloverleaf.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why Republicans and Republican suck ups act like bleeping thugs? Perry appointee Nueces County DA Jimenez threw out the board certified attorneys to bring in her cronies, and HD 76 incumbent Norma Chavez channels Karl Rove.

At Texas Vox everyone is a-twitter about the upcoming appliance rebate program. Want to trade up your tired old appliances for shiny new energy-efficient ones? The guv'ment will send you a check for it...

The last chapter (?) in the sad saga of Stay Bailey Hutchison is read aloud by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Sure April Fools Day is over, but this was funny enough to share again. Sarah Palin to Replace Michael Steele as Chair of the GOP. Bay Area Houston continues to be full of wit.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes a first look at the Bryan mayoral candidates, and includes the candidates for College Station City Council Place 2 and Bryan City Council Single Member District 3. LoCS also covers the week in headlines.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the GOP's latest posturing, noting that it's time for Perry and the Texas GOP to put up or shut up.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about undersea volcanoes in the Gulf of Mexico that shoot out asphalt. Who knew?

WhosPlayin says that animal welfare actvists in North Texas are claiming a victory in their fight against puppy mills. After months of weekly picketing by Texans Exposing Petland, the Lewisville, Texas Petland store is closing down.