Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 Texas Gubernatorial Debate, Sunday October 3, Houston *update*

Bill White and Deb Shafto and Kathie Glass will be there, but All Hat and No Cattle will be off somewhere shooting conservative bloggers and sucking up to coyotes. Or is it the other way around?

Go here to register, as only 350 are allowed. Since the Republican candidate will be MIA -- Neil is taking suggestions on empty chairs to be displayed -- Fat Jolly may not be able to give you an on-the-scene report. Then again, he may think that he's being excluded because he is not one of Houston's Top Political Bloggers (heck, he may be a 'bottom', for all that I know). But present or no, you can certainly count on his whining about it afterward, and that those whines will be echoed by his sycophants.

Because they really have nothing of consequence to say, I suppose.

There will be another debate just like this one October 19 in Austin.

Update: The press release indicates they can accommodate 650 (though the registration website above still says 350).


The 2010 Texas Gubernatorial Debate on Oct. 3 will feature KTRK Channel 13 news anchor Melanie Lawson as debate moderator, with three candidates committed to date. The debate is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Harris County Department of Education, 6300 Irvington Blvd. in Houston.

With a focus on education topics, the debate is co-hosted by HCDE and The League of Women Voters of Texas and the Houston Area. All four gubernatorial candidates have been invited to participate. Candidates committed to debating to date are Democrat Bill White, Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto.

“Education is a hot topic in the November election,” said Harris County School Superintendent John E. Sawyer. “We look forward to co-hosting this historical debate and anticipate keen interest from the education public. Of course, all citizens are invited and urged to attend.”

An audience of 650 can be accommodated in the HCDE Conference Center located in northeast Houston off the North Loop near the Hardy Toll Road. Participants must register for the debate online at www.hcde-texas.org . Go to “register now,” create a user account, search for the workshop by date or title and complete the form. Registration confirmation must be presented for admission. Doors will open at 5:45 p.m. There will be no late seating.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Weekly (cool snap) Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is no longer in wait for that first nip of fall in the air as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy writes about why the Tea Party has an expiration date. Also, as the semiannual protest against reproductive rights 40 Days for Life begins, a guest blogger writes about being a pro-choice feminist Christian, and Teddy has a post about how the Coalition for Life lies to women. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

Off the Kuff interviewed Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, and Democratic candidate for County Judge Gordon Quan.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows that deregulation means more tainted food and more BP disasters like this one.

Bay Area Houston lists some alternatives to white-wing wadio in Houston.

Nat-Wu at Three Wise Men examines the situation in Somalia, coverage of which has mostly ceased in the American press.

Jeff Weems, the Democratic candidate for Texas Railroad Commission, earned the endorsement of both the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle. Keith Hampton, our man for the Court of Appeals, got the DMN endorsement. Bill Moody (Texas Supreme Court),Wally Kronzer (14th Court of Appeals), and Robert Ray (1st Court of Appeals) also got endorsed by the Houston newspaper.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has a question for you: did you know Texas' public education finance system is hopelessly broken?

WhosPlayin calls BS on GOP Congressman Michael Burgess' taxpayer-funded "survey" over extending the Bush tax cuts. The only options were a dishonest choice of all or nothing, so WhosPlayin posted its own survey with the third option of "extend for the middle class".

This week at McBlogger we take a look at Sleazy Todd Staples and his johnny-come-lately advocacy for tougher eminent domain restrictions.

Neil at Texas Liberal noted this week that the party holding the White House has lost seats in the U.S. House of Reps. in 33 of 36 midterms since the Civil War. Neil is not pleased that Democrats may lose some seats in the upcoming election, but these things do happen.

Libby Shaw at TexasKaos explains how one of our smirking Republican friends claim that "The American People Wrote the Pledge" when it was actually written by lobbyists. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weems captures DMN endorsement

The Dallas News got it completely wrong in the agriculture commissioner's race (after all, they endorsed Kinky in the March primary, so what could you expect?) but they got it right in the railroad commissioner's contest.

Seldom do we run into a first-time candidate for any office and wonder why that person hasn't already been elected to the job. But that's how impressed this newspaper is with Democrat Jeff Weems, who is seeking election to the Texas Railroad Commission.

The 52-year-old Houston attorney would be ready on Day One to make a significant contribution, which is why we strongly recommend him for the three-member panel.

His understanding of the industry shows. He can talk chapter and verse about energy issues, which the oddly named Railroad Commission oversees. And he is a sharp contrast to some candidates who shoot for the commission on their way to a higher post.

This newspaper also supports Weems because of the balanced view he articulates. He understands the importance of oil and gas production to the state's economy and, for example, doesn't favor a moratorium on Barnett Shale natural gas production.

We also agree with him that the Railroad Commission can't leave a void for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to fill when it comes to monitoring the practices of natural gas extraction. As an example, he wants producers to tell the commission what chemicals are in the fluids they use to unlock the gas from the Barnett Shale geological formation. Those trade secrets would be sealed but would still allow the commission to know, for environmental reasons, what goes into the hydraulic fracturing that companies use to extract the gas.

Weems wants the commission to be more aggressive in lobbying the Legislature about its goals. We particularly like his idea of limiting fundraising for this quasi-judicial post to selected times during a commissioner's six-year term. He would curtail fundraising shortly after a commissioner's election until essentially the member's next election cycle.

These are just some of the many examples of Weems' smart and thoughtful views. His opponent, Republican David Porter of Midland, filled out our questionnaire, but the 54-year-old CPA neither showed up for an interview alongside Weems nor returned a call seeking a phone interview. Roger Gary is running as a Libertarian, and Art Browning is running as a Green Party candidate.

Weems and Porter are competing for an open seat, so voters would be well-served to take the time to distinguish between these candidates and dig deeper than sound bites. Weems clearly has the qualifications – and then some – to bring common-sense leadership to this influential commission.



Weems' Republican challenger really is just as weird and unqualified as the DMN discovered. Weems is the only sensible choice for the Texas Railroad Commission.

Update: The Houston Chronic follows suit.

Can you pick out the gay soldier?

Antediluvian

I always appreciate a piece of writing that sends me to the dictionary.

extremely primitive or outmoded <an antediluvian prejudice>

... Rachel Maddow has it exactly right. It was confirmed today for all to see. The Republicans absolutely will not allow a vote to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We know why. Here's an example from what passes for a U.S. Senator in Georgia:
[The armed forces should] exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create unacceptable risk to the armed forces' high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion. In my opinion, the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would very likely create an unacceptable risk to those high standards. [It will lead to] alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art. If we change this rule of 'Don't Ask, Dont Tell,' what are we going to do with these other rules?
The homophobic Senate dinosaurs like Chambliss who cling to these pathetic antediluvian views are, as Maddow so perfectly showed, out of step with the majority of rank-and-file Democrats, Independents and Republicans, who all want an end to this harmful policy that endangers our national security, ruins careers and violates civil rights of Americans as surely as the segregated military of 1948 and earlier violated civil rights.

Yes, DADT endangers our national security by -- among other reasons --  expelling Arabic-speaking specialists from the ranks of the service.

Who's anti-American now? Who's not supporting the troops now? And the best objection the Republican senators can come up with is "we didn't get to add all of our amendments"?!?

That year, President Harry Truman, having been prodded into action by the vicious 1946 murder of two African-American veterans and their wives in Monroe, Georgia -- the last public lynching in the country --  chose to desegregate the military by executive order instead of waiting for legislation from Congress.

Even as the Pentagon works on its study of a possible change in Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it discharges gays and lesbians, including men and women for whom the military is a career, as part of its continuing witch-hunt. This will continue until somebody commands it to stop. There is a commander who can do that, a man who now sits where Harry Truman once did, a man who has said repeatedly in the clearest possible language that he opposes DADT and wants to see it ended.

After the Senate's inaction today, Maddow said:
The White House could decide right now -- tonight -- to stop implementation of this policy pending the military's review.  The right wants a culture war against gay people?  In 2010, that's a war anti-gay politicians lose and pro-civil rights politicians win.

Does the White House leave that on the table and walk away?  Or do they try to win?  Do they do well politically by doing what they say is right for the country?  Do they do it?  What happens next?
This would constitute no end run around the military's review of DADT. It would not violate the separation of powers. It would merely do the right thing until Congress makes it official: stopping the discharge of women and men who have signed up to serve our country by wearing the uniforms of our armed forces. Men and women with talent and skills and millions of dollars in specialized training who willingly risk their lives in the name of America. Some call such people patriots. Not, of course, chickenhawks like Saxby Chambliss, who launched his Senate career with cowardly disses of another patriot, Max Cleland.

Republicans proved once again Tuesday that they have no intention of working with their counterparts across the aisle. They do not believe, as Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike McMullen believes, as President Obama believes, and as most of the American people believe, that civil rights should apply to everyone equally. And they never will. Eventually, they will lose their retrograde attempts to keep the old rules and their twisted prejudices in place. In the meantime, the President has the authority to end a discharge policy that weakens national security and divides people between those who have full civil rights and those who do not. It's the right decision.

All of your Republican senators -- and the two so-called Democrats from Arkansas (Harry Reid voted 'no' so that he may recall the vote later) -- voted in favor of denying the military funding authorization, against the DREAM Act, against DADT -- because they (falsely) claimed they weren't allowed to participate to their fullest happiness in a procedural matter involving the legislation.

All. of the Republicans. in the Senate.

You want more of this? Vote Republican.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hampton gets DMN endorsement

Newspaper endorsements aren't this blog's usual beat, but this appellate court race will get few opportunities to make news between now and November. This recommendation is also significant for the fact that the Dallas News continues to endorse a 100% Republican state Supreme Court.

Among his other many outstanding qualifications, Keith Hampton is -- according to Scott Cobb -- the attorney who persuaded Rick Perry to commute the capital punishment of Kenneth Foster.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has developed a reputation as a court that turns its back on verdicts that need a second or third look.

It's easy to see why. Seven of the nine judges have backgrounds as prosecutors, and the presiding judge once campaigned as "pro-prosecutor." Court-watchers recite a list of marquee cases of failed justice. The court's tilt is a concern, considering that Texas leads the nation in executions and has far more DNA-proven miscarriages of justice than any other state.

The Nov. 2 election for Place 6 on the court is an opportunity for a rebalancing. Austin defense attorney Keith Hampton, running against veteran Judge Michael Keasler, has the legal credentials and a perspective now missing on the court: If elected, he would be the only member to have involvement in a capital murder case from indictment all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hampton, 49, a Democrat, has pushed for important legal reforms in Austin as legislative director for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. One effort led to a law giving juries the option of life without parole for murderers. An unsuccessful effort last year would have improved police photo lineups – an overdue reform in light of widespread cases of documented witness misidentification.

I posted this in June...

Without any Democrats on the CCA for the past twelve years, the ideological spectrum of the Court has shifted dramatically to the right. One Republican judge on the Court, Lawrence Meyers, recently toured newspaper editorial boards promoting the state’s fairness, prompting Dallas Morning News Editor Michael Landauer to write, “Try not to laugh.” (Source: Dallas Morning News, June 2009). Scott Henson, an award-winning blogger who writes for the non-partisan criminal justice site Grits for Breakfast, wrote the following about the political nature of the CCA:

There is no liberal wing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There’s a conservative wing, to which Judge Johnson belongs, and a more or less totalitarian wing, in which Keasler and Meyers reside along with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. (Source: Grits for Breakfast, June 2009)

The “totalitarian wing” of the Court has a well-documented and thoroughly perplexing history of unprofessional actions. From the “sleeping lawyer” case in October 2000, to investigations into the judicial conduct of Sharon Keller in 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is in desperate need of professional, accountable judges on its bench.

Here's Hampton in his own words:



Let's get Hampton on the bench.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone has a pleasant fall equinox as it brings you this week's roundup.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy analyzes the positions Chet Edwards and Bill Flores take on American foreign policy, and looks at the polls as the primaries end and the general election begins. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Texas remains 6th in the nation as poverty levels soar. What are Republicans doing about it? Defunding education and health care, two of the most important pillars of success for Texans.

It's been a terrible week for Todd Staples. McBlogger notes that it's rare for the failure of a public official to be so glaringly obvious. It's exceedingly rare for the coverup of that failure to be bungled quite so badly. Then again, it's not often that said public official is facing Hank Gilbert.

Off the Kuff commented on the proposal to create an elections administrator in Harris County.

Both Rick Perry and Todd Staples committed their own comedies of errors, preserved forever on video. See PDiddie's Brains and Eggs and LYAO.

Dembones at Eye On Williamson highlights the less-than-truthful attack of Diana Maldonado's opponents in Maldonado fires back over debate flap.

At TexasKaos, lightseeker takes on the overblown conventional wisdom of a Republican landslide in November. Give a read: Self-fulfilling Prophecy and Midterms.

Neil at Texas Liberal used a picture he took this week of an unattended lifeguard station in Galveston to show how the Tea Party/Republican Party would govern America.

Friday, September 17, 2010

LWV's I-Day Houston, with 150 candidates and 2 debates

The League of Women Voters' Infrastructure Day is tomorrow afternoon, with townhall meetings and more than one hundred fifty candidates -- D's, R's, L's, and G's -- on the Harris County November ballot meeting and greeting the attendees, followed that evening by two debates. Details below from the press release, and at their site.

============

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area and the American Society of Civil Engineers are set to host two debates, a candidate meet-and-greet, and infrastructure townhall meetings during the Infrastructure Day Houston (I-Day) event at the George R. Brown Convention Center (Entrance C, 3rd Floor) on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010.  The first of two debates will begin at 6:00 pm.  Candidate meet-and-greet opportunities and infrastructure townhall meetings will begin as early as at 3:00 pm.  The event is free and open to the public.

The League is hosting and facilitating two debates for the offices of the Harris County Judge and Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector.  Elisabeth MacNamara, National President of the League of Women Voters of the United States, is introducing the candidates.  Laurie Johnson, host of NPR’s All Things Considered, is moderating the debates.  The Tax Assessor-Collector debate with Don Sumners and Diane Trautman is from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.  The County Judge Debate with Ed Emmett and Gordon Quan is from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Prior to the debates, the candidate meet-and-greet and the infrastructure-related townhall meetings will run from 3:00 to 5:30 pm.  Voters will be able to meet over 150 candidates running for public office in Harris County for the election being held on November 2, 2010.  The townhall meetings will focus on topics including: Transportation, Energy, Ports and Airports, and Storm and Waste Water.  Experts, including Dr. John Lienhard, host of the Engines of Our Ingenuity program on National Public Radio, will lead the discussions and information sessions.

Free t-shirts will be given at the door for the first 100 attendees.

===============

Town Hall Meetings on Infrastructure

Co-sponsored with American Society of Civil Engineers
Talk about problems and solutions with experts, such as Dr. John Lienhard,
host of The Engines of Our Ingenuity
Session One: 3:00–4:00 pm
1a. Transportation
1b. Energy
Session Two: 4:30–5:30 pm
2a. Storm & Waste Water
2b. Ports & Airports

Candidate Meet and Greet

Brought to you by the League of Women Voters
of the Houston Area Education Fund

Talk to candidates seeking federal, state, and county offices. Ask them why they deserve your vote.
Open to the public at 3:00–5:30 pm

Candidate Debates

Co-sponsored with KUHF and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
See the candidates for Tax Assessor and County Judge debate live.

HARRIS COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR
Don Sumners and Diane Trautman: 6pm–7 pm

HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE
Ed Emmett and Gordon Quan: 7 pm–8 pm

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not-quite-Indian-summer postpourri

It's still too early, since nobody's leaves down here are turning.

-- Rick Perry is hosting a sausage fest. No, really. "Assorted Wild Game Sausages" are one of the items on the men-only menu. I'm guessing there won't be cocktail weenies. But I wouldn't be surprised if Bilderburgers with a side of minced poor people is an option.

-- Remember the $1 million donation to the Republican Governors' Association made by FOX News' parent, News Corp.? They finally deigned to allow Media Matters to respond with an ad on their network. It will air tonight during Bill O'Reilly's show.

-- The organization formerly known as Renew Houston  (they still go by that name, but their .org domain now redirects to VoteFORProp1.com) released news about a survey showing their charter amendment on Harris County's November ballot is favored by about 60% of likely voters.

In the new poll, which was conducted from September 6–9, 61 percent of voters said they would vote for the measure after hearing the question that will appear on the November ballot. After learning about the costs of the measure, voters continued their strong support, with 58 percent voting for the measure and 31 percent voting against it.

On the same day, KHOU released news about a survey showing 53% against, 42% in favor.

A majority of Houston voters do not support a $5 monthly fee to improve the city’s drainage and streets, according to an 11 News/KUHF-Houston Public Radio poll released Monday.

Rice University’s Center for Civic Engagement conducted the poll, which surveyed 500 registered voters in the city of Houston earlier this month. It had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. ...

When asked whether they would "allow the city of Houston to charge each household a $5 monthly fee to maintain and improve Houston’s drainage and streets," just 42 percent of respondents said they favored the idea.

Fifty-three percent said they opposed it and just five percent were undecided or refused to answer.

Which poll do you believe?

"(I)t all depends on how you ask the question," said Keith Wade, a consultant for (Renew Houston).

-- Speaking of re-names, "high fructose corn syrup" now wants to be called "corn sugar".

-- Boeing is dismantling the facility which housed the construction of B-17s and B-29s and B-52s during WWII at its sprawling plant in Seattle. The massive assembly line was staffed by thousands of workers, almost half of them female, and the term "Rosie the Riveter" was coined for them. Some great old photos and a video at the link.

-- The last Boy Scout camp in Southeast Texas -- the one I went to for half a dozen summers was sold long ago to logging interests -- is going to have a wood waste facility built right next door. All in the name of economic progress.

-- Speaking of Southeast Texas, my alma mater won its first home football game in 21 years, the week after narrowly losing their first game in 21 years (on the road at McNeese State). There were a few hours of tailgating before kickoff, and a promenade to the stadium of players, coaches, band, mascot, cheerleaders, and fans.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Perry and Staples create comedies of errors *with video updates*

Rick Perry's first TV ad failed to secure the permission of two of the businesses that appeared in it. And they would not have given their support if the campaign had asked, because they don't support the governor's re-election.

"I didn't know he was going to use our store in an ad. No, I don't support Governor Perry or his views."
--Peg McCoy, owner of Farm to Market Grocery in South Austin

Phillip Martin: Did you know they were going to be using your store in a television ad?

Max Berendt (owner of Austin's Avenue Barber Shop): Not at all, no.

PM: Did you sign any paper work saying that it’s okay for them to use this in an ad?

MB: Absolutely not.

PM: Do you support Governor Perry at all?

MB: I do not.

Even the Wall Street Journal has reported on the story. This is just a classic fuck-up on the part of the Perry campaign (read: dunderhead Mark Miner).

Not quite as historical as having "Rick Perry, Commissioner of Agriculture" inspection stickers on a Tyler gas pump, however. Those are 1997 vintage, by the way. And that's not even the best of it.

The regional inspector from the Texas Department of Agriculture, having been alerted by Todd Staples -- who was obviously paying attention to Hank Gilbert's press conference during their joint appearance at the DMN editorial board interview last Friday, when Gilbert announced he would have a presser today to video the 13-year-old-stickers -- showed up to inspect the pumps during Gilbert's press conference.





Update:



And KYTX CBS-19, in Tyler, with this report (video at link):

Are you getting your money's worth at the gas pump?

Well, the Democratic contender for agricultural commissioner says ‘no.'

He says nearly half of Smith County gas stations are out of date on inspections, and that could be affecting you when you fill up.

Hank Gilbert cited 16 different gas stations in Tyler, and 10 in Smith County he says are out of date for inspections, and he's not blaming the owners.

Before you fill up, the Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner says you should take a look at the sticker next to the pump.

"Across the street from us is a gas station with inspection stickers from July 1997," says Gilbert.

And more still from KETK, the NBC affiliate (with even better video).

How is it that a plurality of Texas voters can continue to support this kind of Republican ignorance? Oh wait; I answered my own question.

OSD: A fine piece of work

Open Source Dem ("OSD" in the header) sent this along last week for posting here. Be warned; he's a bit pessimistic.

=================

This joint project discounts the very possibility in Texas of what Bill Galston calls a "wave" election, like 1994 or 2002. I truly wish I could discount that dreary prospect, instead of praying for intervention by von Bl├╝cher or Obama.

Curiously, I think that logistics is more important in politics and even war than strategy. But I do not think that pimp-consultants fathom either. Even half-baked poseurs like Newt Gingrich or Dick Armey can stomp all our mercenaries.

Both state party establishments are artifacts today of the bipartisan concession-tending that dominates (i) Congressional campaign committees out of DC, (ii) the state legislature in Austin, and (iii) local government in cities other than Austin. These, today, are artifacts of what James K. Galbraith calls the Predator State. It is funny how we can be so self-aware yet robotically stupid. We can proclaim republican democracy but practice only collusive bargaining.

Austin is a lovely theme park propped up by the River Authorities, the legislative extraction industry, and of course the University plantations, not a cosmopolitan city like Bexar, a national hub like Dallas, much less a world-class city like Houston-Galveston. In any case, neither Texas party does "waves". Those sweep into Texas from other states despite the reactionary liberals and “left behind” conservatives in Austin.

Still, this may not be a wave election. We just do not know yet. Even if it is, the particulars of local races detailed in this meticulous report by the younger Martin will still have a marginal effect.

All I can add is ...

1. The Frost/Baron/Angle (2005) plan to Turn Texas Blue and thereby to control redistricting is probably dead -- no pun intended and all apologies to those who survive Fred -- even under the best of circumstances. (That Obama thing? Never happened. John Edwards was elected President, Hilary Clinton Vice-President.)

The reason is, simply, that to do anything that radical the TDP has to be competitive rather than collaborative and innovative rather than emulative. That is not rocket science, but it is not the Grisham novel we still live in here, either.

2.  Two of the Houston statehouse races, HDs 133 (Thibaut vs. Murphy a third time, one win apiece) and 138 (Dwayne Bohac vs. Kendra Yarbrough Camarena) are very tight, as concisely described in the scholarly triumph mentioned above, with one exception: both will likely be influenced decisively by a charter amendment on the City of Houston ballot involving roads and drainage, also a new tax. This has both bi-partisan opposition (populist) and non-partisan support (establishment).

Since the GOP is able to raise money as the ruling party in Harris County and run as the opposition party in the City -- leaving Democrats looking hapless and clueless -- the net effect of right-wing activism and left-wing neutralism may be to knock off the Democratic incumbent and challenger.

3. The catastrophic fire which destroyed the DRE voting plant is like "weather", including "fog", in battle. It adversely affects both sides. In government, the GOP has a recovery plan and the Democrats support it. The most prominent feature of that plan is not doing anything -- like extending hours or days -- that might help Bill White.

The effect of the fire, in all events, is to make the election process very complex technically and confusing logistically.

With their superior mobilization technology and anti-tax pseudo-populism, the GOP may be able to better exploit the fire in Harris County. In any case, the effective vote-suppression campaign they run out of the Tax Office is still intact. So between those two advantages, they may be able to keep the already dismal political participation rate here low, thereby sinking Bill White statewide and sweeping the county.

But I wish it were not so.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance salutes the changing of the guard in Lone Star professional football prowess -- watching the Houston Texans vanquish their nemesis, the Indianapolis Colts, as the Dallas Cowboys folded like a cheap card table against their longtime rival, the Washington D.C. Native Americans -- as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

Off the Kuff concluded his legislative interviews with state representatives Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez, and candidates Kendra Yarbrough Camarena and Brad Neal.

Bay Area Houston believes Rick Perry is the insurance industry's bitch.

John Cornyn, best known as a rapist enabler, is busy throwing cold water on the GOP's Senate takeover chances. Just the other day, Cornyn pooh-poohed on Lisa Murkowski's race. South Texas Chisme thinks Cornyn is just a cold, cold guy.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson reminds us that in this election season, the Republican candidates don't want to talk about the most serious issues and we can't let them run and hide from the ones that matter the most.

The GOP would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and speak the truth. Leo Vasquez and King Street Patriots: PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is looking at YOU.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog points out that Houston Chronicle reporter Chris Moran is a racist for questioning Harris County Judge candidate Gordon Quan's lifelong residence in Harris County.

McBlogger takes a look at the debate over a Debate and concludes that it's time to stop asking Perry to debate and instead ask him to answer for his failure.

Neil at Texas Liberal "likes" Republican Senator John Cornyn on Facebook. Here is what people on Senator Cornyn's Facebook page wrote when the senator said he would be addressing a group of Hispanic lawyers. Many of the comments were not encouraging.

Libby Shaw tells the tale of Rick Perry's efforts to "spin" the unspinnable -- a $19 billion dollar hole in the state budget. Read the details over at TexasKaos: Watch Rick Perry spin his $18 billion budget deficit.

WhosPlayin encourages voters in Lewisville ISD to vote FOR the two-cent tax increase this Tuesday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine years ago now

(This post repeats today from a year ago. It's getting quite a lot of search engine traffic, yesterday and this morning. Be sure and read the text in the lower photo.)



And the recollection is still a little raw. Let's continue to remember and mark the day, and not in that Glenn Beck distorted way, either.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pastor Qu'ranBurn has exceeded his fifteen minutes

And I hope everyone just tunes him out.


When Pastor Terry Jones lights his proverbial match on Saturday’s scheduled ‘Burn a Qur’an Day’ (or as his ignorance would suggest, ‘Burn a Koran Day’), in Gainesville, Florida, he may as well hurl copies of the Bible and Torah right along into his bonfire.

Unbeknownst to the ‘intellectually astute’ and ‘well-read’ (yes, sarcasm intended) Jones, the Qur’an was built upon the Torah and Bible in many ways, and even contains some of the exact same epic stories as the other two Holy Scriptures. But in a post-9/11 age of fear mongering and hatred, how can someone like Pastor Jones even begin to comprehend that he will in effect be burning chapters on his very own Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

For the past few months, we as a nation have witnessed an alarming and shocking rise in vitriolic rhetoric and actions against Muslims both domestically and abroad. Juxtaposing a diverse body of over 1.5 billion people with the actions of a few cowards on September 11th, 2001, those that fan the flames of abhorrence have upped the ante more often than not for their own political gain. The result? An innocent cab driver gets stabbed in NY, a proposed mosque site in Tennessee gets burned down, another in California is attacked and left with signs that read ‘No Temple for the God of Terrorism at Ground Zero’, protests ensue around existing and future mosque sites around the country -- including of course lower Manhattan. And now, as a symbolic gesture of solidifying intolerance and plain stupidity, Pastor Jones will hold "suspend" a Medieval-like fire this Saturday at the expense of all who appreciate religious freedom and our place in the world.

Everyone from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to General David Petraeus and now even President Obama have condemned Pastor Jones’ scheduled burning. But where are the voices from the right? Instead of quelling the animosity, their blatant silence and hesitation (can anyone say John Boehner) only reaffirms the notion that they are on Jones’ side.

To their credit FOX will not cover this "news" tomorrow, if it still happens. But the Republicans in Congress ought to be making their objections much louder.

This is, after all, their base.

Update: Silly me. I gave the GOP far too much credit for being reasonable. They are busy creating false equivalencies like "burning a Qu'ran is wrong, so is building a mosque at Ground Zero (sic)" and diverting attention again from the real issues, as well as the real extremists.

The month leading up to the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks has been dominated by a callow and opportunistic debate. This debate -- ostensibly about the rights of American Muslims to build a community center a few blocks from Ground Zero -- is really about the rights of Muslim Americans to be just that: both Muslim and American. And it's ultimately about the strength of our allegiance to one of the best, and sometimes the most difficult, of our American values: the conviction that this country belongs equally to all its citizens, not just those in the ethnic, religious, or political majority.

The campaign against the Park51 community center has succeeded in taking strains of extremist Islamophobia and making them mainstream. The "controversy" was concocted by virulently anti-Islamic blogger Pamela Geller and brought to national attention by mainstream conservatives, most notably Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, hoping to ride the scandal to November. Dozens of political leaders jumped on the anti-Islam bandwagon; the complete silence of many others spoke volumes.

[...]

Some anti-Park51 crusaders, even Palin, denounced Jones' dangerous publicity stunt. But the fact is that his actions would attract little attention, and do little harm, if they weren't taking place in the context of widespread and loud Islamophobia encouraged and implicitly condoned by prominent political leaders. Leaders such as Palin could pretend to be tolerant by denouncing Jones' clear extremism, while all the while continuing to push subtler, more pervasive strains of Islamophobia. The suggestion, made by Palin, John Boehner, and by Jones himself that the Koran-burning event and the building of the Islamic Community Center had some moral equivalence is treacherous indeed, implying that somehow the practice of Islam is itself an offensive act. It's this sort of insidious notion -- passed off as a legitimate argument -- that creates the growing level of distrust of Muslims in our society.

While Jones' event has been called off, Geller still plans to insult the memory of Sept. 11 by holding an anti-Islam march near Ground Zero. Like Jones, she deserves to be marginalized and ignored. Yet instead, her rally has attracted prominent national figures including former UN Ambassador John Bolton and omnipresent blogger Andrew Breitbart -- and, of course, plenty of media attention.

The national leaders who have fueled this zealous mistrust of Muslims, and worked toward making Islamophobia a legitimate political position, have put our troops in harm's way, irreparably injured the war effort that many of them were eager to start, and twisted American values into something very ugly.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Climbing a tree to tell a lie

... rather than standing on the ground and speaking the truth. That's your modern GOP hard at work. Here is Glenn Smith's expose' from HuffPo:

A right-wing group in Houston engaged in a systematic voter suppression and intimidation effort used a doctored photo in its showcase video. Tellingly, a hand-lettered sign carried by an African-American woman at a 2000 Florida, Gore-Lieberman recount rally was changed from, "Don't Mess With Our Vote," to read, "I Only Got to Vote Once."

Huffington Post editors first suspected the photoshopping after I posted "Possible Arson and the Right's Texas Voter Suppression Effort" regarding King Street Patriots' attacks on a nonprofit voter registration effort and the mysterious fire that destroyed all of Harris County's (Houston) voting machines.

In my regular Sunday FireDogLake column, I posted a follow-up piece, "Contempt for Democracy: Attacks on Voting Rights," that included a link to DigitalDupes.org, which had launched an effort to locate the original photo. Within hours, Newshounds found it.

In addition, a Gore/Lieberman sign was altered to read, "I'm With Stupid." Here is the doctored video as presented in King Street Patriots' video, followed by the original photographs.





In the video, King Street leader Catherine Engelbrecht says their effort is all about the truth, that they just want true, fair, honest elections. But if they are so committed to the truth, why did they use doctored photos? Why did they lie?

Because their real intent -- as it has been for similar voter suppression efforts for decades -- is to create barriers between the ballot box and the voters. They want to suppress the vote of people they suspect of opposing their agenda. In this case, as in most, that means assaulting the voting rights of the poor and minorities.

Now why would the Republicans bother with all of this cheating if they were actually as far ahead as the Lamestream Media bleats that they are? No, really; why?

Similar kinds of crap is happening everywhere.

Benjamin Pearcy, a candidate for statewide office in Arizona, lists his campaign office as a Starbucks. The small business he refers to in his campaign statement is him strumming his guitar on the street. The internal debate he is having in advance of his coming televised debate is whether he ought to gel his hair into his trademark faux Mohawk.

Pearcy, 20, is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, which oversees public utilities, railroad safety and securities regulation. Although Mr. Pearcy says he is taking his first run for public office seriously, the political establishment here views him as nothing more than a political dirty trick.

Mr. Pearcy and other drifters and homeless people were recruited onto the Green Party ballot by a Republican political operative who freely admits that their candidacies may siphon some support from the Democrats. Arizona’s Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint with local, state and federal prosecutors in an effort to have the candidates removed from the ballot, and the Green Party has urged its supporters to steer clear of the rogue candidates.

“These are people who are not serious and who were recruited as part of a cynical manipulation of the process,” said Paul Eckstein, a lawyer representing the Democrats. “They don’t know Green from red.”

The GOP has to recruit Greens to draw support away from Democrats in Arizona?!? Why, that's almost as ridiculous as their doing so in Texas. Oh, wait ...

Regarding Mr. Eckstein's quote at the end of the excerpt above, naturally our Greens in Texas sure can tell the difference, and they don't care. But that's a digression.

Why don't the Republicans just refocus their efforts? Why don't they try a little harder and come up with some fresh ideas to move the country forward instead of spending all this time, energy, and money on dirty tricks?

Because they can't help themselves; it's just their nature.

Sadder still, people actually do fall for it.  The Republicans constantly pull dirty tricks because it works.

I suppose if this mass delusion actually does manifest itself in November, then the people will get the kind of government they want. But what are the rest of us going to do?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Remember why (and who)

As many of us gather for parades, barbecues and festivities in honor of the many men and women -- past and present -- who toil day in and day out in hopes of a better life, let us not forget the 31 million who will be celebrating this Labor Day from the unemployment line.

Let us not forget that their burden is not theirs to carry alone. Let today serve as a reminder that the jobless are jobless through no fault of their own. They are casualties of the gravest recession since the Great Depression -- and they deserve our help.

They deserve a hand in the fight to get back to work. They deserve a decent paycheck -- not a meager unemployment benefit. They deserve to know where they'll be laying their head next month when the foreclosure notice shows up.

Neil also has some good historical posting for today.

Happy Labor Day (more in the sense of "Happy it's a paid federal holiday and we can sleep in!" than "Happy everything's super awesome on the labor front!").

From that socialist/communist hive of scum and villainy, the United States Department of Labor:

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. ... In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states---Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York---created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

But Tsk Tsk to Democratic President Grover Cleveland, who signed the bill only as an act of political make-up sex during election season after his tough tactics backfired during the Pullman strike. And to think I set up an Act Blue page for him.

Today we salute the working men and women of America.  All six of you.

Labor Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes a look at the positions of Chet Edwards and Bill Flores on energy, and finds it unlikely that leadership on the environment, clean energy, and climate change will come from Texas Congressional District 17. LoCS also covers the week in headlines.

WhosPlayin is watching the tax rate election for his local school district, where anonymous mailers are flying and things are not looking good for it to pass.

Libby Shaw is at again over at TexasKaos, exposing Republican puppetry of the rankest order. Who's pulling the strings? Check it out: Meet the GOP/Tea Party Billionaire Puppet Masters, Part 2.

This week at McBlogger, we take a look at Dick Armey and a really stupid fund manager who is pissy about finally being asked to pay the same taxes the rest of us pay.

Off the Kuff turned its attention to the state Senate this week, featuring interviews with state Sens. Rodney Ellis, John Whitmire, and Mario Gallegos.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders if anyone else is wary of the new ERCOT pricing scheme? Does anyone remember who the smartest guys in the room were?

Bay Area Houston believes that the Harris County voter registrar, Leo Vasquez, should resign before being indicted by the US Department of Justice.

The Harris County commissioners approved Clerk Beverly Kaufman's nearly $14 million emergency request for less than 25% of the necessary e-Slates to vote with, and she also included a rather large print order: 1.4 million paper ballots. PDiddie's Brains and Eggs has the details.

As Harris County Democrats draw a bead on the Republican attacks on legitimate voter registration drives and concern themselves with the county's response to the loss of all our voting machines in a fire, Neil at Texas Liberal had a brief Facebook exchange with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on issues of election integrity.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

TDP sues Vasquez, he wails

Boyd Richie's statement:

“In 2008, the Texas Democratic Party was forced to take legal action in Federal Court to protect Harris County voters from the inappropriate, partisan actions of former Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt, whose office rejected tens of thousands of legitimate voter registration applications.

When Leo Vasquez took office following Bettencourt’s sudden resignation after the 2008 election, he defended his predecessor’s actions. However, when the Texas Democratic Party presented the Court evidence of the serious misdeeds in the Harris County voter registration office, Vasquez ultimately agreed to a settlement, providing hope that those inappropriate practices had come to an end.

“Unfortunately, we believe Leo Vasquez violated the terms of our agreement last week, based on statements and information he distributed at a press conference that resembled a political pep rally. At that event, Vasquez made reckless accusations against a non-partisan organization based on a “review” of voter registration applications conducted by a group called “True the Vote.” In order to conduct such a review, Vasquez apparently provided the group access to the same applications he refused to provide the Texas Democratic Party last year, when he argued in Federal Court that such documents contained confidential information such as date of birth.

The DOJ is going to have to get involved down here.

“All Harris County residents should be deeply disturbed by how easily this office disregards election law and federal court orders and by how casually they distribute voters’ confidential information. Just last year, well-documented reports revealed that deputy voter registrar Ed Johnson was selling driver’s license information to Republican candidates as part of an illicit side-business with Republican state representative Dwayne Bohac.

“Given Mr. Vasquez’ actions last week, we have been forced to take legal action to make sure his office does not repeat the same kind of practices that denied almost 70,000 Harris County citizens the right to register and vote in 2008.”

Vasquez does have a response, but it isn't very calm or measured ...

“Houston Votes has taken off its non-partisan mask by sending in the Democratic Party machinery to fight its losing battle. They can’t deny the evidence this Office has put forward of their misdeeds; so, they try to divert attention by once again slandering this Office again.

“The Tax Office has, per the law, fully and completely processed each and every application that has been submitted to it, even those that evidence obvious questionability. It is our duty to refer that questionable work over to law enforcement.

“It is the Texas Democratic Party that is making reckless and baseless allegations. No third party group has been granted access to any confidential information of any voter outside of legal open records requests available to any citizen. We continue to zealously guard voter data.

“The Tax Office met today with representatives of the Democratic Party to discuss their concerns. However, the Democrats were not interested in discussing actual facts. As we have seen in the past, their lawsuit is just about political posturing.

John has called for Vasquez to step down. I concur.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Perry declines another DHS border security meeting

At first the reports read that Obama, while visitng El Paso's Fort Bliss yesterday, had turned down Perry's request to meet the president and discuss border security...

The Republican governor's spokeswoman said Perry's request for a presidential meeting to discuss border security was rebuffed. According to Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger, White House aides said the president would not be available for such a meeting. 

Now the media says Perry passed on a briefing with Homeland Security, just as he did three weeks ago.

The White House says Gov. Rick Perry was offered but declined to meet with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and a top adviser to President Barack Obama on border issues.

[...]


White House spokeswoman Moira Mack responded Tuesday by saying the Obama administration has directed unprecedented resources to the border since March 2009. Mack also says Perry declined a meeting with Napolitano and John Brennan, the president's top homeland security aide in the White House.

Overlook the obvious here; that Rick Perry isn't actually serious about "resolving border issues" (sic). No, Perry is so stupid that he doesn't realize he's missing a tremendous opportunity. See, he wants to demagogue the meeting with Obama; but he can't see he's skipping the chance to demagogue the meeting.

Governor: take the briefing with Napolitano. Then hold a press conference immediately after, declaring that the Obama administration isn't serious about border security since they ignore your letters and blow you off for face-to-faces (something you do quite well yourself). Be sure and point out how much 'they' hate Texas, and be sure not to say you -- for moaning about secession, for spitting on stimulus money while you accept the funds to balance the state budget, and all your other bullshit antics.

That's as wide an opening as they are going to give you to score points with your freak-right base, dude. And your score isn't going to be any higher if you just continue to lob water balloons at the president over this.

Take what they give you, dumbass.