Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gays can't divorce in Texas after all

A state appeals court in Dallas has rejected a lower court’s decision that two gay men who married in Massachusetts had the right to divorce in Texas.

In October 2009, state District Judge Tena Callahan ruled that the men could legally end their marriage and that the state’s prohibition against same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection.

But today, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed that decision and ordered Callahan to dismiss the case.

Same-sex marriages or civil unions are prohibited by a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution and the Texas Family Code.

The appeals court said today that the trial court had wrongly ruled that those provisions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Additionally, Justice Kerry P. Fitzgerald wrote in the decision: "We hold that Texas district courts do not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear a same-sex divorce case." 

You may recall that Attorney General Abbott also waded into rolled into this case.

Abbott said last fall that he was appealing the ruling "to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters."...

(Attorney for the plaintiffs Peter) Schulte wrote in a court filing that the state's arguments were an attempt "to mislead the court in an effort to pursue the attorney general's own political agenda."

Back to the DM News for the OMG (my emphasis):

And in arguments before the three appellate judges, all Republicans, attorneys for the state and the conservative Plano-based Liberty Institute repeated the claim that to recognize same-sex divorce, Texas would have to recognize same-sex marriage.

Plaintiffs are deliberating whether to appeal to the (all-Republican) Texas Supreme Court. How do you think that will go if they do?

Oh, yes: The Liberty Institute. Where have we seen their name in recent developments in Houston lately?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Harris commissioners OK $13 MM for more e-Slates... and paper ballots *updated*

I was unable to be present, so this post pieces together some eyewitness as well as media accounts of this afternoon's emergency gathering of county commissioners to address concerns surrounding the November election in the wake of last week's warehouse fire which destroyed all of the county's voting machines.

The $13.6 million approved will cover 2,325 voting machines and support equipment, and Beverly Kaufman indicates she has offers of "fifty here and a hundred there" from other elections administrators around the state, but not nearly enough to replace what was lost in last Friday's inferno. So while she pledges to "protect everyone's rights" by not consolidating precinct locations, she will also have 1.4 million paper ballots on hand "as a backup".

KPRC's Mary Benton, in this video report, holds a copy of a sample paper ballot. The two-page ballots will be available to "anyone who asks" for one, according to Benton.

Texas Watchdog's Twitter feed from this afternoon's meeting is here, yet Lee Ann O'Neal's report makes no mention at all of paper ballots.

State representative Garnet Coleman was present and publicly underscored concerns about voter suppression simply by virtue of fewer locations, fewer machines, and longer lines. Kaufman's pledge, as mentioned in the first graf, is to satisfy all those concerns.

I'll update this post with more as it comes around.

Update: Harvey Kronberg adds the following -- desperately in need of proofreading -- related to Garnet Coleman's public remarks at the hearing.


Consolidating voting places, long lines and other other measures could reduce minority participation, they say

Sixteen Democratic lawmakers today signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the Department of Justice to "assist and oversee the development of new plans for conducting the upcoming elcections (sic) in Harris County."

They continue, "While we are heartened by the stated intention of local officials in Harris county and across the state to condut (sic) a fair and open election in November, we are concernece (sic) that some of the options for conducting the election could have an adver (sic) impact on voter participation...."

The lawmakers note, "...In recent elections, there have been controversial actions on the part of the Harris county officials that administer and oversee voter registrations and elections."

The entire letter can be found here.

Also the Houston Press' Hair Balls ...

For all those who pine nostalgically for cardboard privacy boxes and paper voting ballots, oh boy is this the year for you.

At an emergency meeting of the Harris County Commissioners' Court on Monday, County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said paper ballots will be used to help compensate for the 10,000 pieces of electronic voting equipment that went up in flames last week.

The paper ballots will be the same as the ones regularly used by mail-in voters, and will be two-pages long for the November 2 election. Kaufman is urging residents to vote by mail and use the early voting period, which begins October 18.

8/31 a.m. update: Burka shares a letter from a friend and Harris County Democratic election official, and Glenn Smith expands on the conspiracy theory. Go read both.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance sure hopes that Harris County has a disaster recovery plan for the loss of its voting machines as it brings you this week's blog roundup. (There's an emergency commissioner's meeting on the topic scheduled for this afternoon that I will attend and report on.)

Off the Kuff had three more interviews this week, with state representatives. Armando Walle, Ellen Cohen, and Kristi Thibaut.

Meet Jeff "The Trucker" Evans, an unemployed 49-year-old whose unemployment benefits were restored by congressional Democrats after a Republican filibuster caused the payments to temporarily cease. Eye On Williamson returns to the Wrangle and explains how misdirected Tea Party anger causes Jeff the Trucker to vote against his economic best interest.

John Cornyn, known as a rapist enabler, decides to waffle on 14th amendment to the Constitution. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is certain that Cornyn doesn't care about civil rights -- just his fat a**.

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker summaries the latest scandals at the Texas Youth Commission. The more things change over there, the more they remain the same, sadly.... Check it out : TYC Abuses Make the News Again.

Neil at Texas Liberal attended press conferences held by both Houston Votes and by a local so-called Tea Party group, as a possible pattern of harassment and intimidation against likely Democratic voters in Harris County may be at work. Also, Neil announced that he will now also be blogging at The Daily Hurricane as well as at Texas Liberal. Neil is also a featured politics reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle.

WhosPlayin reports that the local school district sent a letter to the Texas Attorney General's office requesting exemption from release on the grounds that some personal expenses on district credit cards were too embarrassing to release.

The warehouse where Harris County's election machines are stored erupted in flames last Friday morning, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had the early line on what it means for Houston and the surrounding area, which represent 15% of the statewide vote tally. Coupled with the histrionics of Leo Vasquez vis-a-vis Houston Votes, it's going to be a real lively election season (and that's before a single race gets mentioned).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Evening Funnies

Anniversaries and updates

-- Five years since Katrina hit New Orleans. You can read my previous takes as the event unfolded at the top of the August 2005 archives, and from 9/05, some accounts from the Astrodome as evacuation center, Katrina's evacuees and Houston by the numbers, the days before Katrina we spent at Camp Casey, my own Astrodome volunteering experience (as well as dining at Brennan's a few days later), some of the ridiculous things said during the crisis, and a few posts about Hurricane Rita, which came to Southeast Texas a week later and caused its own bit of havoc.

Among current reading, see this account by the Louisiana Superdome's director in which he is haunted by an evacuee whom he saw for several days and then didn't, ever again. And this one about the farm which now grows in the Ninth Ward. And these three stories of survival and life after the storm.

-- Twenty years since Stevie Ray Vaughn died in a helicopter crash. I'll direct you to Charles Kuffner for the videos.

-- Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman is putting on a happy face about her burned-up election machines ...

"I'm very optimistic in spite of this great challenge," she said. "We've had floods and other issues in the past and we've always come out and provided the service people expect, and I expect we will do the same here. There is no dout in my mind that we will have a timely election and take care of our voters."

...but Burka isn't buying it (nor is anybody else, for that matter):

The continuing investigation into the origin of the fire that destroyed all of Harris County’s voting machines has not arrived at a conclusion. I’m not going to jump the gun. But I will say this: If arson proves to be the cause, the feds are going to be swarming into Harris County. With early voting less than two months away, the election has been seriously disrupted. If the fire was deliberately set, the immediate question is, who benefits from consequences of the fire, which will be long lines, changes in polling places, tens of thousand of people trying to figure out where they go to vote, and, possibly, the use of paper ballots and all the uncertainties that go with them? We could see a replay of Florida 2000.

No doubt the Democrats will feel that they are the losers in the fire. Bill White has been counting on a big turnout in Harris County to propel him to victory. The disruptions will surely depress turnout, but you can argue that two ways: (1) Republicans are more motivated than Democrats in this election cycle, so if turnout is depressed, Perry is damaged more than White. Or, (2) The confusion about polling places is more likely to depress turnout among minorities, who, of course, are likely Democratic voters.

Right now we are just at the beginning of this story. If the cause of the fire turns out to be bad wiring, much of the drama evaporates. But if it is arson, look out. Already Democrats have expressed concern that the courthouse Republicans who control the voting system will compress the number of polling places, making it more difficult for Democratic voters to find where to cast their ballots. This could get really ugly.

John Cobarruvias also compiles the conspiracies.

-- Houston Votes hits back at Leo Vasquez (bold emphasis mine).

Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, said, “Those who propagate lies and distortions like those of Mr. Vasquez and his partisan allies are eroding our democracy, and we ask the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department to immediately investigate and monitor his office and his radical allies.”

Mr. Vasquez’s histrionic complaints are false and defamatory. Houston Votes seeks to register as many Houstonians as are eligible, which Mr. Vasquez unfortunately sees as a “burden” and a threat. Rather than celebrate new registrants, Mr. Vasquez apparently intends to reduce his workload by intimidating people from registering. He and his staff are paid with taxpayer dollars to process voter registration cards. They should do their jobs without complaining or engaging in partisan, political activity.

The recklessness and falseness of Mr. Vasquez’s allegations, combined with his unprofessional and partisan actions, raise serious questions about his political motivations. Houston Votes is asking the Justice Department to investigate voting rights violations by Mr. Vasquez and his office through a political campaign to intimidate voter registration. The Registrar’s Office has a long history of voter suppression. We have reason to believe that his office is continuing its systematic practice of illegally not approving registration applications from eligible citizens despite public outcry and costly litigation.

Mr. Vasquez’s press conference, as part of his official non-partisan duties, was a political circus, with dozens of partisan operatives present. Mr. Vasquez appears to have abused the power of his office by collaborating with the King Street Patriots, a partisan organization that took credit for uncovering the “fraud” alleged against Houston Votes This political organization’s website states “that current political initiatives must be focused on mobilizing the conservative electorate”. It appears that Leo Vasquez openly coordinated with King Street Patriots to further personal political goals and retard the efforts of Houston Votes in registering people. He also appears to have shared legally confidential voter registration data with partisan political third parties, which is unlawful. Both activities warrant a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Neil Aquino made it to the press conferences by HV as well as the Liberty Institute (affiliated with the KSP) and reported on them here.

Snoring Honor, and additional mendacity

My observation -- having not watched a millisecond of the teevee coverage but having read plenty of reports -- is the tent revival aspect of the gathering. Many of the attendees were Midwestern and Southern, reflecting the cross-section of Christian fundamentalism that holds up Sarah Palin as its icon. But Beck, a Mormon, was the one on stage drinking the strychnine and handling the snakes.

They told people to leave their misspelled political signs at home, and aspiring politicos like Gingrich and Huckabee stayed away. Speaking of Mormons, where was Mitt Romney?

Some other reactions to Beckapalooza yesterday ...

Glenn Beck promised there wouldn't "be a dry eye in the house" after his big speech today at the Lincoln Memorial for his "Restoring Honor" rally -- because, you know, it was going to be "so stirring."

Riiiiight. Well, Glenn Beck's eyes certainly weren't dry. He started weeping while telling the crowd that somewhere out there was "the next George Washington".

Dunno about you, but when I saw pan shots of the crowd -- which was one of the whitest crowds in D.C. in recent memory -- I mostly thought I saw "the next Timothy McVeigh." But your mileage may vary.

As for the speech itself: Lunesta in verbal form. I'm having to pick my head up from my desk just to write something about it.

It was essentially Beck's call for a return to the religious life in America -- which was why he assembled 240 representatives of various churches in the crowd and dubbed them his "new Black Robe Regiment". This part was particularly creepy, since it came with an admonition that religious leaders needed to focus on "fundamental values" -- as defined by Glenn Beck, of course.

This means, naturally, that the "social justice" for which Martin Luther King fought -- and which Glenn Beck has vigorously condemned -- would not be part of those fundamental values.

As predicted, the whole show was a hoax -- a civil rights rally for easily frightened white people.

The people who attended were clearly there for a red-meat tossing tirade about how the evil Socialist President Obama and the handmaidens of Satan – aka The Democratic Party – were destroying America. What they got instead was a long-form Christian revival meeting combined with a military recruiting show. The message was pretty clear and nothing new – “If America doesn’t turn toward God we’re all doomed!” combined with speaker after speaker pretty much fetishizing the military.

The faces in the (nearly all-white) crowd told the story – they came from all over the country for THIS? I’ve never seen so many frowns concentrated in one spot in my life. The only people of color were on the stage and it was a parade of sermons and tales of military bravery, one after the other. None of them ever did get around to defining what they meant by “honor” either (neither Beck nor Saint Sarah of the Perpetual Victim), just that we didn’t have it like the Founding Fathers did. Martin Luther King’s name was invoked a few times to scattered applause. People on Twitter were reporting that the attendees said they felt “snookered” by Beck and weren’t happy at all.

Billed as a nonpolitical event, it nevertheless was a clarifying moment for those curious as to what clout an anti-Washington sentiment could have on midterm congressional elections in November. The gathering was advertised as an opportunity to honor American troops. But it also illustrated voters' exasperation — and provided additional evidence that Democrats in power — as well as some incumbent Republicans — may pay the price when voters go to the polls.

The tea party is essentially a loosely organized band of anti-tax, libertarian-leaning political newcomers who are fed up with Washington and take some of their cues from Beck. While the movement drew early skepticism from establishment Republicans, these same GOP powerbrokers now watch it with a wary eye as activists have mounted successful primary campaigns against incumbents.

Today, political conservatives led by media showmen such as Glenn Beck are once again turning to Dr. King to deflect charges of racism as they advance their agenda by questioning, among other things, the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president. To mask their own racism, they have turned history on its head, bastardizing Dr. King’s dream.

Political conservatives are not the heirs to Dr. King’s legacy, and to suggest otherwise is not just fanciful, but farcical. Unfortunately, too many Americans don’t know enough about history to separate fact from fiction.

Nobody landed with a parachute. Nobody took off in a balloon. And where was (were?) Up With People? I only watched on the tube, but at about the two-hour mark of Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally I was wishing Beck's liberaliberatiosyndicalarian enemies were right: Where's Mussolini when a crowd needs him?

"This is a moment," said Glenn Beck three months ago on his radio program, "...that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. ... We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place!"

... You'll notice he didn't define the "we" he had in mind, but it seems reasonable to suppose Beck was speaking of people like himself: affluent middle-aged conservatives possessed of the ability to see socialism and communism in places where it somehow escapes the notice of others.

If you agree that assumption is reasonable, then you must also agree Beck's contention that his "we" were the architects of the civil rights movement is worse than nonsensical, worse than mendacious, worse than shameless. It is obscene. It is theft of legacy. It is robbery of martyr's graves.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Abbott punts debate decision; White to debate empty chair

While Rick Perry continues to duck a debate with Bill White, Greg Abbott apparently delegates those decisions to his staff. So while BAR waits for Abbott's people to decide whether he's a chicken or not, White prepares to debate the governor in absentia.

The Austin American-Statesman and the state's other major newspapers will host a gubernatorial debate event this fall, even if just one candidate shows up.

The newspapers, along with Austin public television station KLRU, will deliver a letter to Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Bill White today inviting them to a debate at the KLRU studios on the University of Texas campus at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Perry has said he will not accept debate invitations until White agrees to release his income tax returns from his time as deputy energy secretary in the mid-1990s.

"If only one candidate shows up for the debate, we will discuss issues with him alone for the entire hour," says the letter, which is signed by the editors of the American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, as well as Bill Stotesbery, the CEO of KLRU.

Meanwhile, Abbott (with the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith -- video at the link):

I asked Attorney General Greg Abbott if he planned to debate his Democratic opponent, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, in the weeks before the Nov. 2 general election. Against the backdrop of the Perry-White debate do-si-do, I figured Abbott, a self-professed champion of open government and transparency, would leap at the chance to say, in essence, "Yes, anywhere, any time, etc." To the contrary, the GOP incumbent turfed the responsibility for making that decision to his staff.

Abbott seems to be coasting on several things lately.

Is this really the "leadership" Texas needs now? Or any time, for that matter?

Update: from the most recent Radnofsky press release...

(Abbott:) "That is going to be up to the people who run my campaign. I don't make those decisions." When a follow up question asking why it couldn't be up to him to make the decision, Mr. Abbott said, "I pay good money to people who run my campaign. I make them earn their money." Mr. Abbott also emphasized: "As far as I know my team either has or has not decided. They will let me know as we build out our schedule."

Radnofsky: "Mr. Abbott's statements reflect his bad judgment. Taxpayers pay Mr. Abbott 'good money' to make key decisions. A public official should not palm off the decision to debate vital issues of the day. Mr. Abbott wrongly abdicates his responsibility."

Harris County elections warehouse burns *updates*

It's where the voting machines are stored.

Firefighters are battling a three-alarm blaze at a northeast Houston warehouse that stores the majority of voting equipment in Houston and Harris County, according to HFD.

The Harris County Election Technologies Center, located on Canino at Downey, caught fire around 4:20 this morning, quickly growing to three-alarms.

The warehouse stores more than 10,000 pieces of equipment including voting booths and E-slates, which are used in the election process.

This comes before the general elections to be held November 2, which includes Governor’s race. Early voting is scheduled to begin in October.

Beverly Kaufman probably wishes she had retired a few months ago. Now she has a fairly huge challenge. Depending on the scope of the damage, of course (which I'm certain is still being assessed as I post this) she must choose -- and then train poll workers and then implement -- a partial or entirely new voting method for the second-largest county in the nation. All in about seven or eight weeks' time. Projected voter turnout somewhere around four million hundred thousand, give or take a million hundred thousand (sorry, one too many zeros).

Is there sufficient equipment stored elsewhere in the state by Hart InterCivic that can be shipped to arrive here in time? If not, then what alternate system will be used?

You can almost hear the shrieking now of "voter fraud" from both camps, can't you? Then there will naturally be the lawsuits, some before and more after the fact.

Together with the Vasquez vs. Houston Votes undercard, we are guaranteed a barnburner (*groan*) of an election cycle in Harris County, and that's before we mention a single race.

Lunchtime update: all 10,000 e-Slates and accompanying MBBs were destroyed. There's a press conference scheduled this afternoon where Kaufman will announce a plan going forward, which seems at this point to consist of borrowing machines from neighboring counties. There isn't anything close to 10,000 DREs on standby in the entire state; I'd be surprised if she can collect 1,000 from Harris County's next-door neighbors. So rather than try to get something in on short notice to replace the former system, Kaufman apparently wants to keep the current protocol in place, which does have the value of minimizing errors, opportunities for mischief, and liability on her part. I predict she will underscore the importance of early voting and patience. Early conclusion: we'll have considerably fewer machines to vote with, and much longer lines to stand in to vote.

Evening update:  First, from Kos ...

"Because I don’t expect to have 10,000 pieces to work with, no matter what we do, I’m sure that we’re going to be putting on a full court press urging people to vote early," Kaufman said.

Then this from Brad Friedman ...

A source familiar with Hart Intercivic tells The BRAD BLOG that the nation's fourth-largest e-voting company has fallen on hard times of late and does not have machines to ship to replace those lost in the fire.

If they can't get "similar machines" from somewhere, how, oh, how will the citizens of Houston be able to have elections this year?! Especially since pieces of paper, pens, eyeballs, citizen oversight and common frickin' sense were all long ago outlawed in Harris County, Texas, apparently.

More on Houston Votes vs. Vasquez (and a real firestorm)

While I've been detached from the online world, Stace Medellin and Charles Kuffner and Neil Aquino have updated this week's most significant election-related story. Stace with his dos centavos first ...

Perhaps the appointed and losing candidate for Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez is doing one last favor for his Republican Party.  Yes, the same Republican Party which abandoned him for being Latino, yet, Vasquez still feels the need to stop the voter registrations of Latinos, African-Americans, the elderly and poor Whites by spreading outright lies about a voter registration group, Houston Votes.


There’s something different this time around, and that’s the use of a right-wing voter suppression group calling itself “True the Vote.”  Given their own description that they seek out “voter fraud” by placing “conservative” poll watchers at the polls is suspect in itself–reminders of the good ol’ Texas way of running polling locations where the boss is looking after the workers making sure they vote his way.


Needless to say, I find the motives of such a right-wing group suspect–they yell “fraud” whenever too many Latinos and Blacks votes, such after the 2008 election. But to find out that Vasquez allowed them to pore over applications containing voter information is something that should be investigated.

Some Off the Kuff next, cogent as always ...

Vasquez lobbed these charges at a press conference that was more political rally than anything else, as he packed the place with the sort of people who are convinced that the streets are teeming with illegal voters. You can just imagine them high-fiving and chest-bumping in the background.


It’s entirely possible that Texans Together has been sloppier than they should be. Maybe they’re not up to this task; maybe no one is. But to claim nefarious intent is quite a stretch, and I’ll be very surprised if the District Attorney, to whom Vasquez says he’s going to refer this, makes anything of it. I’m never quite sure how these schemes that Vasquez and his buddies dream about are supposed to work. Are all these people who’ve never voted before expected to show up at multiple polling places and hope nobody notices? Assuming that the bogus and duplicated registrations made it past both Vasquez and the Secretary of State, of course. Sure, that sounds bulletproof to me. I’ll bet Pat Lykos can’t wait to bring that before a jury.

I’ve also never quite understood why some people want to make it so hard for others to vote. I grew up believing that the right to vote was precious and what made democracy the best system of government there is. Apparently, that’s now a matter of partisanship. The story notes that much of the Texans Together board is made up of Democrats. Maybe that’s because the type of person who thinks it’s good for more people to vote tends to be Democratic. It’s been made quite clear in recent years that the type of person who wants to see fewer people vote tends to be Republican, that’s for sure.

And lastly a bit of Texas Liberal ...

Mr. Vasquez is working in tandem with local Tea Party groups. This despite the fact that Mr. Vasquez was defeated in the Republican primary earlier this year. At the time of his defeat, Mr. Vasquez said he felt that one of the reasons he had lost was possibly the fact he is Hispanic.

Mr. Vasquez is now in league with these bigoted so-called Tea Party Groups.

One local Tea Party group, the King Street Patriots , seems also to be offering up its resources to serve as a meeting place for a major Rick Perry for Governor event in Houston. 

The Tea Party wants change in Texas and in America so badly that they are supporting for reelection a man who has been Governor of Texas for ten years already.

It is as if the Boston Tea Party was all about keeping King George in power.


The fact is that there is not much voter fraud in Texas. 

What may well be at work here is orchestrated voter suppression and intimidation of voters.


It is a Texas Two-Step of voter suppression and intimidation. Mr. Vasquez works on the suppression while the Tea Party handles the intimidation.

I excerpted for brevity here but all three commentaries merit a full read. Their takes are clear, calm, and strike the nail solidly. Houston Votes will have their own public response later today, and coupled with the news this morning that a three-alarm fire has engulfed the building where Harris County's voting machines are warehoused, Houston appears well on its way to a most lively election season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Poor Mehlman

Talk about a chronic case of cognitive dissonance. It took him five years but he finally managed to get the closet door open.

Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the former campaign manager for George W. Bush's 2004 re-election bid, has told his family and colleagues that he is gay, according to The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.

From Ambinder's report:
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," Mehlman said. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."
Mehlman, who headed the RNC from 2005 to 2007, becomes the highest-profile national Republican figure to come out as gay.

In the interview, Mehlman said that he reached the decision to come out in part because he would like to play a greater role as an advocate for same-sex marriage.

Mehlman was the pathetic sap in charge when the GOP had reached its gay-baiting peak and was on the downslide -- after GWB's  re-election (sic).

Republicans really did strategize that, in order to win in a post-Bush environment, they would need to reach out to moderate conservatives ... abandoning the fundamentalist base. ROFL.

Beyond the rise of the Tea P's, though, I personally know Log Cabins who have beaten their heads against that conservative wall for decades now; trying desperately to belong to a group that lives to despise them. Nothing I have ever witnessed meets a truer definition of masochism than this.

They have their rationalizations, of course, one probably being the same loathing of the Democratic Party and its mission that motivates all the rest of the confused and ignorant Right.

But you just have to feel sorry for gay Republicans; everybody but them sees they're like Chickens for Colonel Sanders.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leo Vasquez and his histrionics re: Houston Votes *update*

Let's put an end to this sideshow right NOW.

The Harris County Voter Registrar says he's found thousands of voter applications filed in the last three months which are fraudulent. He calls this an attack on the voter rolls of Harris County. 

Horseshit, Leo. Your office is doing the same thing it has always done: verifying voter registration cards. If you don't like the work, maybe you shouldn't be tax assessor/collector. Oh, wait ... you won't be.

Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez's office has pored through thousands of voter registration applications, discovering many questionable filings. Like some which appear to be the same person with the same date of birth filing six times on the same day. And that's not all... 

Horrors. Who would do such a thing and think they could get away with it? Why, it must be the evil ACORN.

Vasquez said, "We have evidence indicating violations of the Texas election code, falsified documents being submitted to this governmental office and possibly violations of federal election laws." 

Then turn it over the the DA or the AG and le them prosecute. Simple as that.

The investigation found 1,597 instances of multiple applications for the same voter, 1,014 applications for folks already registered to vote, 325 for teenagers who are too young to register and even 25 from folks who admitted on the application they are not even US citizens. 

Sweet baby Jesus on a Christmas tree crutch. How could this be allowed to happen in the 21st century? It's a travesty, a miscarriage o' justice ...

"My office has been forced to expend countless hours and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money trying to sift through the garbage being dumped into our voter registration system," Vasquez explained. 

Vasquez shrieked, you mean.

Vasquez says the applications were all gathered by paid deputies with the group Houston Votes. Of the 25,000 applications the group filed in the last three months, only 7,193 were actually for new voters.

Sean Caddle is the director of Houston Votes, which he says is a privately funded organization which signs up voters.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I ran a legitimate program," Caddle said. "What's the motivation behind anyone else? I don't know."

Caddle says he has fired 20 to 30 of his workers as a result of filing these fraudulent applications. 

I bet another million voter registration cards come pouring in next week and poor ol' Leo is going to have to "sift through the garbage" and make sure no Ill Eagles are trying to vote Democratic.

Filling out a voter registration card incorrectly -- irrespective of the intent -- is NOT VOTER FRAUD. Voter fraud is when someone tries to vote, during early voting or on election day, who is using a fraudulent credential (that Vasquez should have snared in his verification process, I might add). Leo Vasquez cannot assume the guilt of any party to the process until an investigation is completed and charges are brought. Anything else is histrionics.

Get a grip, Leo. It's your job to verify voters' registration. Your load isn't any heavier than usual. People re-register at their new address when they move, and  people also forget they have previously registered -- even though it's probably a good idea for them to do so, since your predecessor was busily purging voter rolls as fast as he could, not to mention slow-walking new registrations. You, of course, have been forced to shuffle corrupt underlings around  after their misleading testimony to the Legislature to avoid the appearance of holdover impropriety from the Bettencourt regime.

There are bound to be mistakes when your office does such a lousy job of training deputy voter registrars. (I know this because I am one.) And if some people turned in cards with the same name on them six times, then somebody thought they were going to get paid extra for more regs. Your job -- again -- is to verify and discard if it doesn't pass muster, not cry and wail and call the media and flail your arms and gnash your teeth. (To be even-handed, part of what's wrong with this report is Kevin Quinn at ABC-13 falling hook, line, and sinker for Leo's dog-and-pony show.)

You've only got a few months to go on the job, Leo; shut up and get the work done.

And stop trying to suppress the vote with your hysterical ranting.

KHOU's report -- by veteran reporter Ron Trevino -- was more even-handed; they used "irregularities" in the header, for example:

The Harris County Registrar’s Office is investigating allegations of voter registration fraud by a registration project called Houston Votes.

[... more Vasquez hyperventilating ...]

There was a large crowd at the news conference Vasquez conducted. Among those in attendance were members of a group called True the Vote, who claimed they had brought the issue to light. ...

"I think it’s poor to make a judgment, cast a judgment made up by allegations of few select people and cast doubt on an entire organization," said Sean Caddle.

Good ol' TTV. Douchebags in Action.

Update: Go read Neil and John and Chisme. The Chronicle's Chris Moran revealed the hyperbole of Vasquez also, but as previously mentioned I won't be linking to it.

Yellow journalism: the Chron chickens out

Positively shameful.

In 24 newspapers around the state, a full-page ad ran today with a picture of Gov. Rick Perry and the word "coward" in large, capital letters. Back to Basics PAC, the anti-Perry group behind the ad, were hoping that number would be 25.

The Houston Chronicle (which happens to be hometown paper of Back to Basics' main funder, trial lawyer Steve Mostyn) opted not to run the ad. It turns out they were the only ones. It passed muster at every other paper the political action committee approached, including the state's other major dailies.

"It is kind of a glaring omission," says Back to Basics spokesman Cliff Walker. "Basically, the content that was accepted at 24 other papers was rejected."

This sort of thing goes up the chain of command, so the person who killed it was the publisher, Jack Sweeney.

"We were more than happy to run the ad if Back to Basics changed the headline," says Naomi Engel, a senior marketing representative at the Chronicle. "They declined."

Alternatives were explored, but to no avail.

"There were some recommendations on adjustments," Walker acknowledges. "We said, 'No,' and that was it."

They have compelled me to cancel my subscription. But I'm going to be certain the circulation department understands why, and further, there will be no more excerpting of their stories here. I'm also going to deactivate my account for commenting on their stories and blog posts.

I just can't support cowardice like this.

(I'm guessing that the Chronicle isn't in line to sponsor a gubernatorial debate either.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ad revealing Fox contributing $1MM to GOP to run ... on Fox

I so appreciate the use of the word 'torture' in this context.

Media Matters, which has raised the torturing of Fox News to a high art, has come up with a new one: The group is trying to run an ad touting News Corporation's widely-reported $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association -- on Fox, during Bill O'Reilly's show.

A Media Matters official sends over the ad, which you can watch below, and the spot coincides with a new front the group is opening against Fox: Media Matters and several other groups are about to call on the White House Correspondents Association to consider yanking Fox's front-row seat in the White House press room.

The idea behind the ad is that Fox News devoted little to no coverage at all to its parent company's $1 million donation, even though it was widely covered by many other news outlets and was widely pilloried by Dems as proof that Fox is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP. By running the ad during O'Reilly's show, Fox's most watched program, Media Matters hopes to bring to Fox viewers' atttention what Fox News mostly wouldn't:

The ad reports the News Corp. donation in straightforward fashion, with no attack on Fox, in order to make it tougher for Fox to refrain from running it. If the network does turn it down, of course, that could earn the ad some free coverage, keeping the story about the donation going.

Damned if Fox does and damned if they don't. Gotta love that "fair and balanced".

Rick Perry: Coward

I don't know, it just has such a ... more gratifyingly confrontational tone than calling him "Chicken".

Mean Rachel and Burnt Orange had the news first. The ad will be in Texas daily newspapers across the state tomorrow morning.

SD-22 Democrat Cullar withdraws

Via Harvey's Buzz this morning, Friday evening's development ...

August 20, 2010 9:04 PM


TDP: “The Republicans have done everything in their means to game the system and protect an ineligible Republican officeholder. In this race, the playing field is not level and the fight is not fair."

And this, dateline Saturday morning ...

August 21, 2010      10:57 AM


RPT: "Cullar’s actions today tell us what we already knew, that he was not a viable candidate. The Democrats put him up in the hopes they could steal this office. They filed a frivolous lawsuit to that end. And it blew up in their faces. So now their straw candidate turned tail and ran."

Calmer rhetoric here from Evan Smith at the TexTrib (and Cullar himself).

John Cullar, the attorney and former McLennan County Democratic Party chair chosen to run in the November general election against state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, notified state election officials (Friday) that he is withdrawing from the race — one day after the 5th Court of Appeals ruled that Birdwell could remain on the ballot despite questions raised by the Democrats about his residency.

In a press release announcing his withdrawal, Cullar continued to maintain that Birdwell's residency is specious:

My decision to accept the candidacy for Senate District 22 a little over two weeks ago was not about right versus left. It was about right versus wrong. I was — and am — convinced that the Republican nominee for Senate District 22 is not qualified under the Texas Constitution to serve in the Texas Senate.

But in the end, Cullar said, money and time were not his side, particularly in a senate district whose residents are overwhelmingly Republican and during a difficult year for Democrats in general.

With little time for me to organize, raise money, and introduce myself to the voters of this District, an already uphill fight against an incumbent Senator became a cause where the odds of winning did not outweigh the odds that my candidacy could divert resources from other Democrats in each of the ten counties of the 22nd District.

Say what you like about this matter as it relates to whichever party you identify with: we are ruled by one political party -- and it's conservative and Republican -- here in Texas, from the governor's ($10,000-monthly rental) mansion to the legislature to the courts. Whether you like that or not makes no difference.

Whether it gets weakened or strengthened in November is still to be determined (despite Evan Smith's -- and many others' -- presumption of loss).

The first-day-of-class Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes everyone back to school as it brings you the best of the blogs for the week.

This past week Off the Kuff did three interviews with State House candidates -- Joe Montemayor, Rick Molina, and Silvia Mintz.

Bay Area Houston wonders why the Texas Federation of Pecker Heads have have endorsed Rick Perry.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out all Republicans clamoring for 'small government'. Why do Republicans want more tainted food and another BP disaster?

Libby Shaw is fed up with the Party O' No. She gives us chapter and verse as to why in Bereft of Solutions and Ideas, The GOP Gins Up Controversy. Check it out at TexasKaos.

WhosPlayin posted documents obtained by the Hank Gilbert campaign showing alarming gaps in Texas food safety and a Texas Department of Agriculture that seems more concerned about appearances than anything else. On the lighter side, local governments are struggling for cash and seeking corporate sponsorships on public facilities. Hopefully someone will pull the plug on this deal.

PDiddie posts about the hysteria and hyperbole surrounding the Manhattan Islamic center in Mosquerade, at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at Texas Liberal offered up a picture of the excellent new wheelchair ramp on the beach in Galveston. This ramp was paid for with our taxpayer dollars and was built by government, for the good of all people of Galveston and for the good of all people who visit Galveston. Without government, we would live like barbarians to an even far greater extent than we do at current.

Another right-wing blogging lunatic breaks out

Stoking the flames of hatred and division just like Breitbart, she has kicked in the door of an exclusive club occupied by Coulter, Malkin, and Schlessinger. What an accomplishment.

Pamela Geller, the once-obscure right-wing blogger known for peddling hateful, wildly over-the-top rhetoric (she once claimed that Barack Obama was the bastard stepchild of Malcom X) and for pulling stunts like taping a harangue against Muslims while clad in a bikini, has parlayed the anti-mosque hysteria sweeping across America into mainstream media attention just in time to promote her new book, The Post-American Presidency.

Geller and co-author Robert Spencer have been relentlessly promoting the “nontroversy” over the Park 51 project. According to a profile in the Guardian, the pair have “been at the forefront of drumming up opposition to the center, two blocks from Ground Zero, through an array” of organizations like the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamisation of America (SIOA). The groups “have become increasingly influential as conservative politicians exploit anti-Muslim sentiment before November's congressional and state elections.” 

The groups’ ideology is reminiscent of the reckless demagoguery of Joe McCarthy. According to the Guardian, AFDI “says it is fighting ‘specific Islamic supremacist initiatives in American cities’ and hunting down ‘infiltrators of our federal agencies'." SIOA, which bills itself as a human rights organization "is tied to a similar group, Stop Islamisation of Europe, which goes by the motto: ‘Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense.’"

'Islamophobia is the height of common sense'. This is the mindset that rational people have to contend with.

According to the Guardian, Geller’s blog, Atlas Shrugs, “lays bare her sympathies with extremist groups across the globe.” Geller “vigorously defended Slobodan Milosevic” when he was convicted of war crimes at the Hague, denying that the Serbs committed atrocities during the 1990s. She has “allied herself with racist extremists in South Africa in promoting a claim that the black population is carrying out a ‘genocide’ of whites,” and says that she “shares the goals” of the far-right English Defense League (EDL). "We need to encourage rational, reasonable groups [like the EDL] that oppose the Islamisation of the West,” she wrote. Geller has also embraced Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician who advocates banning the Qu'ran. 

The world is chock full of nuts, I see.

According to Charles Johnson, a right-wing blogger who had a noisy falling out with Geller when the latter appeared at a conference organized by European fascists (apparently that was a bridge too far even for Johnson, who was described by Gawker as a “hysterical right-wing Muslim-hating blogger”), Geller founded AFDI with attorney David Yerushalmi, who, according to journalist Bruce Wilson, advocated “legislation that would effectively outlaw Islam in the United States by imposing 20 year jail sentences on practicing Muslims.”   

If I excerpt any more of this report, I will never get the stains out of this blog. Go and read it at Alternet because it carries several warnings for our future, including this one...

These are some of the people the Guardian describes as the “leading force in a growing and ever more alarmist campaign against the supposed threat of an Islamic takeover at home and global jihad abroad.” Their views are as extreme as one might imagine, yet they've come to be embraced by politicians like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, and far too many angry, fearful Americans.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our lesser-publicized Texas Conservative Kooks

Their stupid continues to flow like water over Niagara Falls.

-- State representative Joe Driver double-billed his expense report and then pretended he thought nothing was wrong with that. Really.

-- Bill Hammond, the president of the Texas Association of Business, tried to compare Bill White's plan for transportation to California. He got McBloggered for that.

-- Former chair of the Texas State Board of Education Don McLeroy, defeated in the Republican primary for re-election (because apparently even the GOP can occasionally be embarrassed), continues to shame the entire state.

-- The Texas Supreme Court bravely upholds Sharon "Killer" Keller's slap on the wrist.

-- Greg Abbott, who has waded into every single federal law issued or proposed of late with his popguns blazing -- from comprehensive healthcare reform to cap-and-trade to the offshore drilling ban  -- declines to offer an opinion on whether transgender marriage might be "legal" in Texas.

His base is going to be very unhappy about that.

-- Bill Birdwell, the Republican running for SD-22 who happens to be as residency-challenged as ol' Tom DeLay, might still be removed from the ballot (just as The Hammer was forced to stay on it). That development would be a good thing for the newly-selected Democratic candidate, John Cullar.  

Update: The (GOP) three-judge panel approved Birdwell's ballot eligibility. The TDP may appeal to the (GOP) state Supremes. Today is the deadline. Charles Kuffner delves deeper into the matter.

-- Lastly, the Teen Lit Festival sponsored by the Humble ISD chose to un-invite an author over what appears to be semi-sorta-controversial subject matter for teens, and as a result other authors are dropping out.

“What is important is that a handful of people – the superintendent, the one (one!) librarian, and “several” (three? five?) parents – took it upon themselves to overrule the vast majority of teachers and librarians and students who had chosen one of the most popular YA authors in America to be their headliner,” wrote Hautman in a blog post. “That is a form of censorship as damaging and inexcusable as setting fire to a library.” And on her blog, de la Cruz wrote, “I believe that as a writer, we have to stick up for each other, and against censorship, and against people who want to tell everyone else what to think, what to read, what to watch.”

Censorship? At a Houston-area high school? Tell me no.

Thursday Toons: a Cornucopia of Self-Delusion

"And that's why I'm voting Tea Party"

Two new polls released this morning reveal that the number of Americans who believe that President Obama is Muslim is on the rise.

Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion.

Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 percent.

The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don't know his religion, an increase from the 34 percent who said that in early 2009.

The survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is based on interviews conducted before the controversy over whether Muslims should be permitted to construct a mosque near the World Trade Center site. Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build an Islamic center there, though he's also said he won't take a position on whether they should actually build it.

In a separate poll by Time magazine/ABT SRBI conducted Monday and Tuesday — after Obama's comments about the mosque — 24 percent said they think he is Muslim, 47 percent said they think he is Christian and 24 percent didn't know or didn't respond.

In addition, 61 percent opposed building the Muslim center near the Trade Center site and 26 percent said they favor it.

The Pew poll found that about three in 10 of Obama's fiercest political rivals, Republicans and conservatives, say he is a Muslim. That is up significantly from last year and far higher than the share of Democrats and liberals who say so. But even among his supporters, the number saying he is a Christian has fallen since 2009, with just 43 percent of blacks and 46 percent of Democrats saying he is Christian.

Among independents, 18 percent say Obama is Muslim — up from 10 percent last year.

Every single person who believes Obama is Muslim needs to go buy one of these t-shirts. Right now.

(h/t for the link to Mean Rachel)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It isn't a mosque, it's a community center. And an actual mosque has been closer to Ground Zero since 1970 ... three years before the World Trade Center opened.

It takes a few days for the truth to be researched and revealed and broadcast, but by that time the Right has moved on to the next diversionary smear.

These people are masters at this sort of thing. How can they be so totally incompetent at actual governing?

John Cornyn and "terror baby" killers Louie Gohmert and Debbie Riddle are the Texas Three Mosque-eteers, but merchants of fear and hate like them are rife throughout the nation. Newt Gingrich succumbed to Godwin's Law yesterday, stupidly playing the Nazi card.

Remember their names. They are the real enemies of freedom, democracy, and America.

Update: Joe Klein...

Those who would mess with those rights now may win some short-term political victories, they might shave some more points off the President's poll ratings, but they will not succeed in the long run -- because this is America and the forces of tolerance always prevail over those of bigotry.  And if the bigots do succeed in the long run, this won't be America anymore.

...and John Cole:

This is why I simply have no respect for anyone who remains with the GOP. Period. This is the modern Republican party in a nutshell, whether it be death panels, the MONSTER MOSQUE, terror babies, or Obama’s birth certificate. The crazy people are running the show, and folks who remain in the GOP but tepidly speak out against it aid and abet the lunacy. We should stop using the phrase “reasonable Republican” and “sane conservatives” and call them what they really are -- accomplices. It’s Malkin and Gellar and Louis Gohmert and Palin and Bachmann’s party now, and they’re just providing them cover.

Monday, August 16, 2010

DeLay "Cleared"

The Abramoff business is concluded; the TRMPAC matter continues (hearing 8/24, in fact).

From Rudyard Kipling's "Cleared":

"Cleared," honorable gentlemen. Be thankful it's no more:
The widow's curse is on your house, the dead are at your door.
On you the shame of open shame, on you from North to South
The band of every honest man flat-heeled across your mouth.


My soul! I'd sooner lie in jail for murder plain and straight,
Pure crime I'd done with my own hand for money, lust, or hate,
Than take a seat in Parliament by fellow-felons cheered,
While one of those "not provens" proved me cleared
as you are cleared.

The last-week-of-summer-vacation Wrangle

Despite the oppressive heat, the Texas Progressive Alliance is enjoying the final week before school begins as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is amazed at how much Republicans like John Cornyn hate our Constitution and the freedoms it accords us.

Off the Kuff continued the 2010 interview series with conversations with state representatives Scott Hochberg, Sylvester Turner, and Jessica Farrar.

Neil at Texas Liberal noted that you can register to vote in three languages in Harris County. No matter what the Republicans and the Tea Party folks hope for, we live in a diverse city, county, state, nation and world.

Bad news for Barnett Shale residents: methane + sunlight + oxygen = formaldehyde. Considering the constant, massive fugitive emissions, it's no wonder we have "astounding" high levels of formaldehyde. Brought to you by TXsharon at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

The latest broadside from the Back to Basics PAC, "Hands OFF our land!" is a wedge issue for Bill White. It's effectively separating Rick Perry from rural (mostly Caucasian) Texans. Read it -- and watch it -- at PDiddie's Brains and Eggs.

Over at TexasKaos, libby shaw chronicles the latest embarrassment from Louie Gohmert in Gohmert Has Meltdown on CNN. With no evidence to support him, Louie did what he does best -- spew and sputters. Check it out....

This week at McBlogger, we start our long-awaited transfer to WordPress and a new design. Come by, check it out and see what Sleazy Todd Staples is up to now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hot Damn! More Funnies

John Cornyn: Mosque-eteer

Add Senator Box Turtle to the ever-growing pile of TeaBaggers for Freedom*.

"With emotions so high on the issue do you think this becomes an election issue 79 days to go before the mid terms?" asked (FOX News' Bret) Baier. "Will you be telling your candidates to make sure what the Democratic opponents how they stand on the particular issue?"

"I think it does speak to the lack of connection between the administration and Washington and folks inside the Beltway and mainstream America, and I think this is what aggravates people so much," answered Cornyn. "I agree with [Sen. Jack Reed], this is going to be a local decision. I would like to hear what the elected officials in New York, the two United States senators and other local officials think about this and the American people will render their verdict."

"So yes, it becomes an election issue?" prompted Baier.

"Whether you are connected to people or listening or lecturing to them, this is sort of the dichotomy that people sense that they are being lectured to and not listened to and that is why people are upset about Washington and to that extent, yes," said Cornyn.

The Republicans have opened a new front in the War on the Parts of the Constitution We Don't Like, adding the First Amendment to the Fourteenth and the Tenth.

Remember: the terrorists -- like John Cornyn and his ilk -- hate us for our freedoms. America can only truly be free if we curtail our constitutional rights.

*does not apply to women, brown people, non-Christians, forriners, and libruls

South Texas Chisme has a similar take, and Hal at Half Empty examines the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Riddle and Gohmert

Once more, Texas Republicans represent themselves as complete fools.

Texas Republican state legislator Rep. Debbie Riddle was not prepared for Anderson Cooper Tuesday night.

Riddle appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" to discuss the threat of "terror babies" — a supposed threat in which terrorist organizations send pregnant women to the United States to have their children, who would be US citizens but trained and raised abroad to be terrorists and could enter and leave the US without raising suspicion.

Riddle based her claims on her conversations with "former FBI officials" but Cooper demanded evidence.

"What former FBI officials?" he asked. "What evidence is there of some sort of long-term plot to have American babies born here and then become terrorists?

"Well, at this point, I don't have the hard evidence right here in front of me," Riddle responded. She would not reveal her ex-FBI sources or the basis for their claims, and then tried to change the subject to porous borders and the threat of dirty bombs.

"Border security is certainly an issue, and it's a good topic," Cooper said. "It's not the topic, though...I'm just asking for proof. You say you're still gathering it from unnamed former FBI people."

"When your folks called me in the preliminary, that was part of the conversation," Riddle responded. "They did not tell me that you were going to grill me for this specific information that I was not ready to give to you tonight. They did not tell me that, sir. "

Former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes then appeared on Anderson Cooper's program the next evening to describe Riddle's claims as "ludicrous" and "absurd". Elise Hu at the Texas Tribune also followed up.

I made an open-records request for any records related to communication between Riddle's office and former FBI agents. Her chief of staff, Jon English, replied this afternoon, saying no such records exist. "Unfortunately we don't have any records or emails that could be reproduced for your inquiry," English wrote in an email. "Everything Rep. Riddle was referring to has been in the form of private conversations she has had, although she shares those with myself and our district director."

Then last evening, Cooper had Congressman Louie Gohmert of the 2nd 1st Congressional District of Texas, on presumably to save Riddle's bacon. Watch this:

One excerpt:

COOPER: What research? Can you tell us about the research?

GOHMERT: You are attacking the messenger, Anderson, you are better than this. You used to be good. You used to find that there was a problem and you would go after it.

COOPER: Sir, I am asking you for evidence of something that you said on the floor of the House.

GOHMERT: I did, and you listen, this is a problem. If you would spend as much time looking into the problem as you would have been trying to come after me and belittle me this week --

COOPER: Sir, do you want to offer any evidence? I'm giving you an opportunity to say what research and evidence you have. You've offered none, other than yelling.

These two clowns are among the worst of the Texas Republican contingent. Riddle's general election opponent is Brad Neal. Gohmert -- his district is adjacent to the infamous Winnebago precincts -- has no Democratic challenger. And that may be the saddest fact of all.

Wayne Slater at TrailBlazers has more, and Kuffner collects the snark.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Hands OFF Our Land" is White's wedge

It's also a Caucasian one. That in a moment.

Back to Basics is moving swiftly to drive a wedge between rural Texans and Rick Perry, and to that end has re-opened a battle front on one of his weakest flanks, the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Just look at the quotes:

The huge government land-grab would have paved over 2,400 square miles of prime, productive farmland and displaced a million Texans from their homes and businesses.iv
The project was rife with corruption from the beginning:
  • Perry signed the law allowing free roads to be converted into toll roads.v
  • A former top aide to Perry lobbied for the Spanish consortium – led by CintraConcesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. – that won the lucrative contract to build the first segment.vi
  • Even losing bidders got a government payout, totaling millions in wasted taxpayer dollars. vii
  • Companies who stood to profit contributed over a million dollars to Rick Perry.viii
Citizens of all political persuasions were outraged by this government overreach.ix

Let's look at the checklist: yep, there's Big Government, Big Government Waste, the ubiquitous Perry crony capitalism, and even a dash of 'foreigner' bigotry ("a Spanish company") all nicely mashed together. And this, tying in the importance of a legislative block to executive authority -- and no, we ain't talking about D.C. now...

The legislature tried twice to stop the TTC boondoggle.

First they passed overwhelmingly a moratorium ending the Trans-Texas Corridor. But Perry vetoed that bill, and he refused to sign the law until he succeeded in forcing lawmakers to slip in exceptions to some of his pet projects –- including an exception to allow construction for parts of the Trans-Texas Corridor.x,xi

Then the legislature tried to protect families with a bill preventing eminent domain abuse. The bill would have placed limitations on the government from taking private property for the gain of another private party. Although lawmakers passed these protections overwhelmingly with the support of land and homeowners across the state, Perry vetoed the law.xii

And the future threat to Texas farms and ranches, from South Texas to Central Texas to East Texas (that is a lot of  rednecks err, the conservative base, folks) ...

“I don’t think it was a mistake at all to have a vision of how to move people and produce safely and expeditiously in the state of Texas,” he said during the debate.

Perry on TTC and eminent domain

That could make Perry’s sales job easier in 2011, when, if re-elected, his aides said he would try to put Texas back on the path to private toll roads. “Absolutely, the governor is going to keep pushing, pushing for putting this tool back in the box,” Heckmann said. “If he had waited for the Legislature to raise taxes or for Congress to send us back an even return on what we send to Washington in gas taxes, then nothing would ever get built.”

Kris Heckmann, Perry’s deputy chief of staff and transportation expert

Of course this is entirely the wrong political environment for a Republican incumbent to be supporting a massive government project, and that Perry problem, as we all know, is just for openers.

The "Rick Perry lives in a ten-grand-a-month rental mansion and reads Food and Wine magazine" meme also exploits his wealthy elitist tendencies, and he just can't shoot enough coyotes to overcome it.

If you also note that Perry fucked up his race card play yesterday, while at the same time recognizing that Bill White continues to focus on religious conservative -- well, Methodist anyway -- themes, then you can clearly see that the Democratic nominee for governor is slowly succeeding in peeling off Republican base voters.

(Let's see how many of Perry's lickspittles actually read this blog. Note to self: if the governor is eventually compelled to address the lingering concerns surrounding the TTC, then White has already won.)