Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers Wrangle

Turkey sandwiches? Turkey tetrazzini? Turkey enchiladas? The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes you got your RDA of l-tryptophan last week as it brings you the blog highlights.

Off the Kuff celebrates the DeLay verdict.

Bay Area Houston has a visual suggestion to the judge in the Tom DeLay trial regarding the sentencing.

Did employers or their representatives provide 'assistance' to their employees as they voted in La Joya? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme would really like to know.

Public Citizen over at TexasVox is getting ready for the sunset hearings on the TCEQ and Railroad Commission, coming up December 15-16, by looking at a national report which gives Texas' regulatory agencies a D-.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos raises a red flag over the morphing of the MSM coverage of Tom DeLay's conviction. In his piece entitled The DeLay verdict - Politics as usual? Crime and Punishment? Why it Matters he argues that this is simply a case study in why we find it so hard to get our message out. Either out of boredom or malice or laziness or simple lack of time or understanding, the MSM often carries water for the other side in how they cover/frame important issues. And he wonders what can be done about that.

Republicans in the Texas Legislature filed a series of anti-immigrant bills, so Stace at DosCentavos asks: Are You Willing to Boycott Texas? It's a serious question that will come up as these bills go through the process and quite possibly get to the floor.

Sen Jeff Wentworth pre-filed legislation for the coming session that eliminates straight-ticket voting. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks he's a lone voice of reason on the right.

Reverend Manny at BlueBloggin takes an in depth look at freedom of speech. On the whole the September FBI crackdowns are symbolic, and a local reminder, of an international repressive wave against transparency, criticism and rational open dialogue. Read The Front Lines of Reality: An International Perspective on the Battle over Free Speech.

WhosPlayin brings you a video tour of a modern drilling rig that one company is using to drill in urban areas in the Barnett Shale.

Neil at Texas Liberal visited Austin this past week for Thansgiving dinner. He enjoyed the late night drive back home to Houston a great deal. Neil liked this ride so much he wrote a blog post listing seven reasons the ride was so enjoyable.

Friday, November 26, 2010

DeLay's appeals process moves to 3rd CCA

The Hammer's prospects are already a little brighter.

The conviction of Tom DeLay, once one of the most powerful Republican wheelers-and-dealers in Congress, marks the beginning of a lengthy and vehement appeals process that will seek to cleanse the name and record of the former House majority leader.

DeLay's lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, expressed confidence on Friday the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin will rule in his favor because it has in the past. Add to that a varied assortment of available arguments, and DeGuerin and law experts say they're convinced this is only the start of what will become a precedent-setting case.

Here are the Justices who comprise the 3rd CCA. But the list isn't up-to-date. From the Austin Chronicle:

Still, (Judge Jeff Rose's) appointment to the 3rd Court means the influential bench – which covers appeals in 24 counties, appeals from state agencies, and high-profile public corruption cases – is now firmly Republican-controlled, with four GOP judges (Bob Pemberton, David Puryear, Rose, and the newly elected Melissa Goodwin) and just two Dems (Chief Jus­tice Woodie Jones and Judge Diane Henson).

More from the first link...

Some legal experts argue that such unprecedented cases immediately raise the interest of the appellate courts. Others, however, note that Texas' conservative, largely Republican appellate courts do not have a strong record of siding with defendants.

"Statistically, he is going to be fighting an uphill battle," said Philip H. Hilder, a former prosecutor who is now a Houston-based criminal attorney concentrating on white-collar cases.

The courts could see it as a "partisan fight" though, Hilder said.

"Then the courts are of his political persuasion," he added. "But still, they would have to rely on precedent and they will have to really do back flips to do any favor to him."


The appellate court in Austin has previously ruled in DeLay's favor — striking down the first indictment and parts of the second, an indication the court thinks DeLay had a valid argument, DeGuerin said. So while the criminal court of appeals overturned that decision saying the issues first had to be brought to trial, DeGuerin says the court's previous ruling paved the way for support now that the trial is over.

I have previously posted about the odious Puryear and his now-departed colleague Waldrop here, and also here. Pemberton was deputy counsel to Gov. Perry prior to his appointment. You should expect no better from Rose and Goodwin, who defeated Kurt Kuhn earlier this month. More background on that just-completed contest again from the Austin Chronic and Burnt Orange, and this Off the Kuff post contains more links to his considerable pre-election coverage.

Tom DeLay still has plenty to be thankful for.

Update: lightseeker at Texas Kaos analyzes the reframing.

Wentworth tries again to end straight-ticket voting

This Chron op-ed is spot TF on.

In an upcoming Texas legislative session where some form of a controversial voter ID bill is certain to pass, a couple of state senators have other ideas, valuable ideas, for electoral reform.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, is not a person who gives up on a good cause even in the face of daunting difficulties. He's pre-filed legislation for the 2011 session designed to outlaw straight-ticket voting. SB 139 is Wentworth's third attempt to eliminate this dangerous practice.

In 2012 the Dems who couldn't be bothered to vote earlier this month, the flip-flopping and finicky Indies, and the once-more-snookered Republicans will again rise up and turn out to sweep the conservative trash blown in to the Capitols by the combination of Tea Party rabies and Obama apathy. Unless a GOP state senator can convince his colleagues to ban the straight-ticket vote, that is.

Wentworth is a too-uncommon voice of reason on the right.

Although Republican and Democratic apparatchiks opposed his legislation in previous sessions, Wentworth accurately noted of straight-ticket balloting, "It's not even in the parties' interest." The lawmaker cited Republican State Board of Education candidate Tony Cunningham as an example of the danger that looms with straight-ticket voting.

Cunningham won the GOP nomination in SBOE District 3 despite widespread reporting about his inability to discuss the issues and his dreadful lack of credentials.

"Tony Cunningham would have been an embarrassment to the Republican Party if he had been elected," Wentworth said. Fortunately, Cunningham lost in the general election.

Still, Cunningham — one of the least-qualified candidates ever to appear on the ballot - snared 90,999 votes.

"We're Texans. We ought to be more independent thinking," Wentworth said, noting that Texas is one of only 15 states that still allow straight-ticket voting.

Straight ticket voting has become the lazy, unthinking way out for "patriots" passing for much of the Texas rural electorate. "What, make me spend five minutes voting instead of 30 seconds?! That's un-American!"

At my poll I had a handful of straight-ticket Republican voters -- self-identified to me, the precinct chair, mind you -- come over and ask where the propositions were on the ballot AFTER THEY HAD VOTED. They were collectively so mentally challenged that they couldn't even figure out to ask the question beforehand.

I believe that's why the props were under-voted, and could very well be why Prop 1 passed. FTR Kuffner shows his math as to why he disagrees with this premise.

My state senator, similarly, is acting to make our voting processes more effective:

... Rodney Ellis, a Democrat, has prefiled the Voter Empowerment Package, which includes measures to designate every statewide Election Day as a state holiday, including primary Election Day; allows eligible residents to register for voting during the early voting period at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; creates criminal penalties for certain deceptive or disenfranchising practices regarding an election; allows eligible residents to register for voting on Election Day at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; and authorizes registered voters to vote by mail during the early voting period.

I'd go even farther than this and recommend instant run-off voting. More on that here, here, and here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Hammer gets the slammer

A Travis County jury today found former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay guilty of political money laundering charges relating to a corporate money swap in the 2002 elections.

The verdict came down five years after DeLay was forced to step down as the second most powerful Republican in the U.S. House. The charges also led DeLay to resign from his Sugar Land congressional seat in 2006.

DeLay was accused of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On the conspiracy charge, DeLay faces a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and five to 99 years or life in prison on the money laundering count.

More reaction from me and others as it rolls in, but as I have previously mentioned his chances are much better on appeal.

Update: Matt Angle, Lone Star Project ...

Whatever punishment that DeLay ultimately receives, Texans continue to suffer from his crimes. Just as DeLay planned, the Texas Legislature and the Texas Congressional Delegation reflect the most partisan, narrow minded and mean-spirited views in our society.

From Louie Gohmert’s bizarre rants to Joe Barton’s unbending defense of corporate negligence to Pete Sessions’ blind and befuddled partisanship, the Texas Congressional Delegation distorts public service into partisan extremism.

The DeLay legacy is also reflected in Joe Straus’s contributions to corrupt Republican House members and in Leo Berman’s hateful rants.

Unfortunately, Tom DeLay has left behind a Republican Party where loyalty is measured by the degree to which Members are willing to defame national leaders, champion extreme right-wing causes and deny opportunity to middle-class Texans.

Nick Lampson:

“Today's ruling shows that the culture of corruption Tom DeLay created in Washington went a few too many dance steps beyond the pale of American politics. We should remember, though, that this trial is not just about $190,000 that Tom DeLay stands guilty of illegally laundering into Texas politics. At its root, Tom DeLay's actions were designed to gerrymander Texas voters for his own personal power grab. As we approach what should be the once-per-decade ritual of redistricting, Texans deserve to have districts drawn that will allow them to all have an equal voice rather than a map drawn by partisan hacks designed to skew political power.

In the pursuit of power and with disregard for our democracy, Tom Delay damaged Texas and this country in a way that will be felt for years to come. This decision makes it clear that justice can still be delivered and we must do everything in our ability to assure abuses of our electoral system do not happen again.”

More from Kuffner and Juanita Jean and Texas Vox.

Don't get so busy with errands today that you forget to stop and smell the pie

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Weekly Pre-Turkey Day Wrangle

You DO know why they call it Turkey Day, right? Because the Cowboys and Longhorns both play then. *badaboom* Meanwhile, the Texas Progressive Alliance is distracted by thoughts of pie but still is able to bring you this week's blog roundup.

Off the Kuff examined the effect of straight ticket voting on the city of Houston's ballot propositions as well as the touching of our junk.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders how the Cameron County Judge's race can get any weirder. Who won and how did things get so messed up?

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy takes a look at the bills concerning immigration that have been pre-filled in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. LoCS also once again covered the week in headlines.

WhosPlayin posted a two-part series following air quality complaints in a neighborhood in North Texas near Barnett Shale gas wells and facilities.

Bay Area Houston wonders if Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole reported his free money to the IRS as income.

At TexasKaos, liberaltexan looks at what the prefiled bills tell us about the Texas Legislature's will regarding the trumped-up issue of illegal immigration. Check it out: Texas Legislative Watch: Pre-Filed Immigration Bills (Part I).

Snapshots from the Conservative Freak Show: Bristol Palin and voter fraud, Louie Gohmert and the SFA instructor he got fired, and John Ensign's million-dollar earmark.

A new contributor to Texas Liberal, a woolly mammoth named Extinct, noted that Just Kids by Patti Smith was the winner of the National Book Award for 2010. Just Kids is an account of Ms. Smith's youthful relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. As a woolly mammoth, Extinct has a long experience with both life and loss.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Friday "TSA gropes for security solutions" Funnies

Nothing to add

Well, not too much, anyway.

It may be a petty, minor thing, but this is getting to the point where Obama is looking weak in many, many separate situations, and it's becoming a car wreck for the White House. Having him doing public post-election soul searching; having him give repeated noises in the press about preemptively caving on whatever it is the GOP might be asking for: it's a messaging/political disaster. He took a stout midterm loss and turned it into his own midterm disaster.

At some point someone in this White House has to start figuring out that, screw actual policy, they're getting their asses kicked purely on the PR front, and Obama's not going to get reelected if he looks like a quivering pushover. We know from the healthcare fiasco that there's a bunch of folks in this White House who care more about protecting Obama's image than actually getting useful stuff done: well, image-hoarders, now might be the perfect time to pay attention to what the nice news channels are telling you.

Instead, this is rapidly becoming another perfect example of being so miserly with your "limited" political capital that you end up losing all of it. Obama is keeping his powder so dry that he's losing battles without firing a shot.

To conservatives -- both TeaBagger and moderate -- to low-information voters, even to the mostly disinterested 50% of Americans who don't vote, it's OK to be wrong as long as you're strong. I heard the ridiculous argument about George W. Bush when he was president: "you may not agree with him, but at least you know where he stands." You could always count on Bush to be stubbornly strong on the wrong side of any issue, nearly every single day of his eight years. Even the media fell in line, repeatedly referring to his actions in taking the nation into a war on false pretenses "bold".

When have you ever heard  of any of Obama's initiatives referred to as "bold"?

Americans generally speaking aren't sympathetic to people who appear weak.

This is what happened with Jimmy Carter. He brought Egypt and Israel together and made peace, and for that was branded a wuss. He suffered from the bad luck of that helicopter crash in the desert as the commandos were on their way into Iran to free the hostages, and did not follow up with another strike.

And his only hope in 1980 eventually became that the Republican presidential candidate was too extremist. And America felt that way until the debate where Reagan seemed like a nice enough guy, not too crazy at all, and people rejected Carter in the election.

I'm sure Obama will also be one of our best ex-presidents.

If you do not fight, if you cannot find anything worth fighting for, the American people will reject you.

The next few weeks will tell. If Obama refuses to fight, it will be bad in 2012. And it should be.

DeGuerin stumbles in defense of DeLay

While the case against him still appears to turn on mostly circumstantial evidence, The Hammer keeps inching himself toward the slammer.

Tom DeLay's own evidence turned against him Wednesday as a calendar showed the former U.S. House Majority leader in a meeting with a key political aide two hours after the man received the check used in an alleged $190,000 political money laundering scheme.

Uh oh.

DeLay, R-Sugar Land, contends he did not learn of a corporate money swap between his Texans for a Republican Majority and the Republican National Committee until political aide Jim Ellis told him of it on Oct. 2, 2002.

In a statement to Travis County prosecutors in 2002, however, DeLay said Ellis told him about the money swap before it happened. DeLay now insists he misspoke.

Did you misspeak then, or are you misspeaking now?

Defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin introduced DeLay's calendars on the idea that they would show no meetings between DeLay and Ellis during the crucial days of September when the money exchange was arranged, to bolster DeLay's Oct. 2 claim.

Confirming the calendars with former scheduler Mary Ellen Bos, DeGuerin argued that DeLay and Ellis met only three times in September and October 2002.
Blank check

Once was Sept. 5, before the alleged scheme began. The second time was on Oct. 2, which is when DeLay now contends he learned of the money swap. And the third meeting was on Oct. 8, after the money was exchanged.

But Travis County prosecutor Beverly Mathews got Bos to confirm under cross examination that Ellis also was in a group of people who had a 1-2:30 p.m. grass-roots planning meeting with DeLay Sept. 11, 2002, in his congressional leadership office. Mathews noted that the meeting occurred shortly after Ellis received a blank TRMPAC check that was used in the money exchange.

"I just missed that one," DeGuerin said sheepishly afterward, noting he only had obtained the calendar on Sunday. "The (Sept. 11) meeting was with a bunch of other people."

A pretty serious mistake for a high-powered defense attorney like DeGuerin. If he loses this case, he's probably going to have to adjust his world's-highest-retainer downward.

Even if the jury convicts, DeLay probably wins in a Republican-dominated appeals court, or even the SCOTUS if it gets to that. Because in the wake of Citizens United, there is a case to be made that DeLay's crimes are no longer crimes.

I'm still thinking The Bugman skates over this increasingly thin ice. But it may be later rather than sooner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This week's snapshot from the Conservative Freak Show

Possibly to become a regular feature of this blog.

-- TeaBaggers are committing rampant voter fraud in order to award Bristol Palin a "Dancing With the Stars" championship.

While Bristol Palin denies any Tea Party conspiracy theories, there's no denying that conservatives have been pushing for votes for Bristol, using blogs and Twitter to start a movement. But what isn't widely known is the evidence—via message board comments on some conservative sites—that this mobilization involves fixing this (albeit meaningless) election through a technical snafu on ABC's website, which allows Palin's supporters to cast an infinite number of email votes ...

Personally I could not care any less about either 'DWTS' or anyone named Palin. The motivation by conservatives here appears to consist of hoping that "liberal heads explode". The thing is very few Democrats watch television drivel like this.

Another popcorn fart that the Tea P's have mistaken for an earthquake.

-- Louie Gohmert "Pyle" got an SFA art instructor fired, and then complained again to the officials of the university for making him look bad by doing so.

The now-former art galleries director at Stephen F. Austin State University, Christian Cutler, was asked by Gohmert's staff to jury a high school art competition. He agreed -- until he looked up Gohmert online and saw his interview with "Anderson Cooper", in which Gohmert ranted about the threat of terrorists having babies in the United States and then training them to return as adults and attack.

The next time Cutler spoke with Gohmert's staff, he says, he declined to do the art competition, saying he didn't want to work with a "fear-monger" like the congressman.

So Gohmert personally wrote a letter to Cutler, and copied the president of the university.

Go on. Read the excerpt of the congressman's letter. I'll wait. 

The letter, sent on Sept. 20, prompted several meetings and emails among Cutler and his supervisors, according to copies of the emails and notes from the meetings. One called him the same day. The next day, his two supervisors met with the provost, calling the incident the "last straw."

A few days after that, on Sept. 25, the board of regents met privately to discuss "personnel matters" regarding Cutler, according to a meeting notice. Before the meeting, the university president, Baker Patillo, forwarded Gohmert's letter to the chair of the board via email.

Cutler submitted his resignation three days later.

But that was the end of it. Right?

That wasn't the end of it, though. After several news outlets, including TPM, wrote about the story in late October, Gohmert wrote another scathing letter -- this time to the vice chair of the board of regents -- accusing the school of "hanging [him] out to dry," according to internal emails.

"I did not ask for that guy to be fired, frankly I would have preferred he hadn't been for this very reason [that] I would be blamed even though yall said he was a problem and there were other issues," he wrote. "But doing what I didn't ask for in dismissing that the manipulative liar and then refusing to make ANY statement about what was done is hanging me out to dry for something I did not do." [sic] 

The school had refused to give statements to the media about what happened.

"Now, I am the scapegoat nationally for SFA's decision. This is not really fair nor good. I do appreciate your ongoing concern for fairness and truth and know you will encourage doing whatever you believe is appropriate," he wrote. 

It's getting very nearly impossible for any kind of satire to be written about Gohmert, because he's so good at it all by himself.

-- Guess who?

A GOP senator who voted against the Democrats' sweeping health care bill quietly got a healthcare stimulus of his own: $960,000 doled out to the University of  *edited* for a Primary Care Residency Expansion program.

Who would you like to surmise is the candidate for this week's Hypocrisy Hall of Fame?

What's more, the senator, Republican John Ensign of Nevada, has also joined about a dozen Republican senators in a crusade to end earmarks in the federal budget.

The special dispensation for the University of Nevada was created via an earmark, a legislative maneuver that directs funds to be spent on a specific project.

So not only did the anti-healthcare senator get a special healthcare program funded in his state, he also got it through an earmark, a process he himself claims to oppose.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Once more, irregular contributor Open Source Dem provides a POV on the local sturm und drang around the call for heads to roll in the wake of the 2010 Demacolypse. FTR I strongly support the continuing service of Gerry Birnberg, Willie Belle Boone, and Belinda Castro as the Harris County Democratic Party's leadership team. And I am all in on the resignations of Boyd Richie and Tim Kaine as party chairs state and national. Herewith, with my grammatical and punctuational edits, my valued friend OSD (who has earlier circulated this message under the headline "First the plan, then the man ... or woman") ...


Carl Whitmarsh’s call for mass resignation and replacement of the Harris County Democratic Party leadership is well-timed.

One of many problems with our party’s legal structure, and even more so of its arcane history in this and other ex-Confederate states, is that we choose the state and county chair late in what is actually a 4-year election cycle. This is profoundly dysfunctional. We should elect our party chair in a county convention held early in odd-numbered years following the Governor’s election in the preceding year. That would be next year.

During this election cycle -- 2006-10 -- Gerry Birnberg acted more like the field director for a local chapter of the DCCC. And Boyd Richie functioned as a cheerleader for the Texas Trust. So at the end of the day we had a “Normal Election” even though normally we lose. This featured three independently funded but nominally “coordinated” campaigns in Harris County.

Try and find the accountability in that: The plural of coordinated is uncoordinated.

The least said about seat-warmers on the Texas delegation to the DNC, the better. The county and state executive committees did nothing but fawn in public and gripe in private. We do not really have a coherent caucus, committee, and convention system of party governance in Texas; we have a little of this and that accumulated since 1874.

That is scarcely Gerry’s fault.

This then is what elected party officials like myself voted for, almost always unanimously, usually unwittingly, in one time-wasting committee meeting after another. And this was what Gerry was re-elected in 2008 and 2010 to do.

1. Over the 2006-10 cycle, the Texas delegation to the DNC opposed Howard Dean, supported John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, and, in the case of Sue Lovell, opposed Democrats in and for municipal office. Gerry ignored all of that and made better use of his time.

2. Gerry did much better than Boyd: Our county chairman emphasized countywide mobilization rather than conventional targeting. Harris County only lost two House seats. Boyd lost 19 more seats, even after sacrificing the statewide to the district races. Gerry said what he was going to do and did it as best he could. It was not enough and not what I would have done, but he did it honorably and honestly. I was proud to be as supportive as I could be.

3. Gerry was at least as successful as Darlene Ewing in Dallas, whom he is regularly compared to unfavorably. In fact if you drew one of those small, square counties somewhere down here, you would find that voters in that hypothetical little county within our 25th-largest state of the Union (the State of Harris) did as well as or better than voters in Dallas County.

4. Gerry has been the finest steward of this party in my lifetime: he has strengthened its finances, built racial solidarity, and improved the stature of our party in legal and election matters. The contrast between this proficiently managed county party and the next biggest one in Bexar County could not be more stark.

5. He has been amazingly patient and relentlessly attentive to his responsible and constructive critics, not least me.

But Gerry, like any lawyer in the party chair, has engaged in transactional politics.

He has never had the strategy, plan, tactics, logistics, or operational art to wage “politics as war”, to challenge the GOP at all echelons of government and politics, and to defeat them in detail. But who has?

At the very least Gerry has been not just fair-minded but clear-headed. He recognized the victories of 2008 as “Halley’s Comet” and tried to mobilize both our base and surge vote. It almost worked for Ellen Cohen, where the three uncoordinated campaigns (Matt Angle + Robert Jones, Bill White + Steve Mostyn, and Dave Matthiessen + Gerry Birnberg) all meshed in one unique district (HD-134). Still, a plan –- a coincidence, really –- that can only almost work under nearly ideal conditions is not much of a plan. So too, a state party that barely succeeds in one county (Travis) is a pathetic joke. The results of 2010 are the failure of an entire political establishment, though not of one man. This is Twilight for Jim Crow.

And even those circumstances will likely be blown away in 2011; redistricting and the likely collapse of the “conduit” funding model of campaign finance following Citizens United ends the state and county party’s attempt to overcome the consequences of the 1994 realignment of voters and radicalization of the GOP. Now the success of a jumped-up Tea Party in Harris County, home of the most powerful and influential right-wing county party in all the Red States, will excite political hustlers and depress political loyalists across the spectrum.

Looking ahead, it is time to reiterate that we need transformational politics.

Some think of that as movement politics. That would be the Tea Party, actually. They are a now-forgotten movement reminiscent of something called the Liberty League back in the early 30’s. But we do not need a left-wing parody of them. Emulation of the GOP or adoption of the mock-socialism they impose on us is not a moral or practical way to compete with the GOP today.

In my view, we need strategic party-building –- not movement politics -- that will raise the political participation rate and ballot discipline within the center-left Democratic majority we know Harris County already has.

I would characterize that thematically as “patriotic-populist” rather than “left-wing progressive” or “ cringing liberal” party. In all events, it would be very different from the faux-conservatism or jingo-populism of the right or far-right.

We need a robustly diverse party based on a few genuinely liberal and conservative principles –- nothing new -- that can provide voters with a “hard center” they can trust and believe in come November 2012.

That is actually all the strategy we need to articulate right now. Building a county party that can support re-election of President Obama and benefit from a disciplined national campaign will not be sufficient for the President, though. The Democratic Party of Greater Austin cannot turn Texas blue any more than can a few local chapters of the DCCC. Still, support for the President is necessary for us here.

I am confident that it will raise our spirits again. But I am no less sure the national campaign in 2012 will not trickle down resources here. We are on our own here in Harris County. We have not boot-strapped our way into power like the other political party here. We have nearly blustered our way into oblivion.

The plan should be to replace paid media with authenticated social media and earned local media at the municipal level of both civic and political formation, mobilization, deliberation, discipline, and action. This is better, faster, and cheaper than what commission-based consultants have been squandering money on.

The strategy and plan will take a different business model for the county party than just leveraging corporate funding and large donations for express advocacy with small donations from suckers for losing campaigns.

Gerry tried as hard at that as anyone possibly could. But we never did and never will do that as well as the GOP.

There is an alternative business model. That is good, because the state and county parties are essentially bankrupt today.

I am sure Gerry is conscientiously trying to find a responsible receiver for the HCDP.

He probably does not want to keep losing or dealing with the pettiness of a broken-down patronage chain -- what our party has degenerated into despite his best efforts. If others can find the man or woman to articulate a more forward-looking strategy and practical plan than we have ever articulated or implemented, I will try to support them any way I can. So too, I imagine, will Gerry. He has come a long way from 1994, and we are all better off for his stewardship of this fine, old party.

Now is the time to salvage what we can and to build what we have never had: a responsible, majority governing party in Harris County: patriotic and popular, hence practical politically and progressive economically. That is not a matter of just complying with state and federal law, negotiating collusively for marginally better outcomes for people disdained or pitied as a pro bono clientele rather than as sovereign citizens –- the “Atticus Finch” syndrome.

Please: let’s get out of this damn Grisham novel we are in. Harris County is the 25th largest state of the Union and Houston is one of the most important cities in the world. We have a future.

Now we need a plan.

The hypocrisy is strong with this one

But he can't smell it on himself.

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in. 

It gets better. Or worse.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.
Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

The 'only employer he's ever worked for where he didn't get coverage the first day.'  I don't believe I have ever HEARD OF an employer that provided health coverage on the first day; every one of mine was thirty, and some ninety days, during the probationary employment period. Excepting top-level management and professionals, of course. I've never seen the rank-and-file -- and yes, despite the exclusive coverage, along with their pay raises, that they can vote themselves to be provided, Congressman are rank-and-file government employees -- qualify for that benefit. (Have you? Let me know in the comments, please.) 

And this appalling lapse in medical coverage is because -- according to Congressman Harris -- the federal government is "inefficient".

Nix said Harris, who is the father of five, wasn’t being hypocritical – he was just pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care.

Oh, the woe of the beleaguered press spokespersons for Congressman Harris and his ilk.

Let's review: an anesthesiologist elected to Congress on an anti-"Obamacare" platform is 'incredulous' to learn that his government-provided healthcare requires a thirty-day waiting period.

If you wrote a movie script with a character like this, your editor would laugh at you and edit it right out.

Which is precisely what the good morons of Maryland's Eastern Shore should do with Congressman Harris in 2012.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anti-Semitism in the Texas Speaker's contest

Quorum Report's Harvey Kronberg, at his News8Austin gig:

In 2007 a growing group of Republicans tried to unseat Tom Craddick during the legislative session, but were outmaneuvered. Mr. Craddick’s parliamentarian even resigned over the Speaker’s abuse of House rules.

Two years later, Joe Straus replaced Tom Craddick when a large bloc of Democrats joined with the unhappy Republicans to return civility to the institution. By all but a handful of accounts, Straus ran a fair process.

Under Craddick, Republicans lost ground in three elections. Under Straus, but as part of the national tidal wave, Republicans regained all the lost seats plus 11 more.

So you have major Republican gains and a widely acknowledged fair broker presiding over the House ... meaning we will see very conservative legislation this session.

Nevertheless, a handful of outside socially conservative groups are running a fairly deceitful but noisy campaign trying to pressure lawmakers who actually like the speaker’s management style to vote against him. They blame him for the failure of the sonogram bill, but the pro-life organization Texans for Life said the claim is false. They blame him for the failure of voter ID by permitting the Democratic filibuster, but that’s also false; Straus followed the direction of his colleagues in the Republican caucus.

They said that Straus appointed moderate chairman, but the budget under Straus was more fiscally conservative than the last one under Craddick.

Now the so-called grassroots effort has crossed over the line with coordinated email and robocall programs calling for a "true Christian speaker". (Straus is Jewish.)

Republicans won an enormous victory on Election Day. How they govern themselves will tell us a lot about how they intend to govern the rest of us.

Harvey rarely crosses his very strict non-partisan line, and to be sure he isn't doing so here. He's taking a stand against an injustice -- a rather underhanded and nasty smear campaign based on Joe Straus' creed -- which is something I have never seen him do.

If Straus retains his post, it won't be because of Democratic support, as in 2009. The GOP enjoys a 99-51 advantage in the coming session, one vote shy of a two-thirds majority -- which would be enough to do anything they choose.

No, Straus will remain Speaker of the Texas House only because the Texas Republicans began an internecine fight two months before the Lege convenes, and because the arch-conservative caucus (or whatever it is they are calling themselves today) over-reached in a brazen and bigoted way.

Surprise! This is who you voted for.

Update: TFN Insider has some e-mail excerpts from behind Harvey K's subscription paywall.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is beginning to feel the holiday spirit as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses the issue of Latino turnout in the wake of Tuesday-before-last's elections.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes in the landscape after the storm and presents a way forward for Texas Democrats. LoCS also begins the Texas Legislature Watch by looking at the bills that Representative Fred Brown has pre-filed, and covers the week in headlines.

Letters From Texas explained a fundamental truth to state Senator Dan Patrick: democracy is about more than two wolves and one sheep voting on what's for dinner.

Killing Medicaid and CHIP along with Grandma and the kids will devastate the Texas economy. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why the evil Heritage Foundation wants to hurt the Texas economy.

Mean Rachel wondered when the Democratic Party decided to become the I Can't Believe It's Not Republican Party.

Bay Area Houston says the GOP is giving poor Hispanic kids the bird.

Over at TexasKaos, libby shaw gives her take on deficit reduction ... or rather how NOT to do it while distracting a nation. Check it out : Fixing the Federal Deficit.

Neil at Texas Liberal says that where there is smoke you will not inherently find fire. Yet the smoke alone may be enough to do a great deal of damage.

This week at McBlogger, Captain Kroc takes a look at one of the newest members of the Texas Legislature.

PerryCare to replace Medicaid in Texas

Or perhaps we should call it RepubliCare. "Cheaper, better, and without so many of those nasty poor sick people".

Medicaid is the health lifeline for more than 3 million of the most vulnerable Texans, but some Republicans, including Gov. Rick Perry, are talking about opting out of the program as a massive state budget shortfall looms.

The prospect, described by some as far-fetched, raises fears about the toll on poor children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly. Medicaid covers at least part of the cost for more than 60 percent of nursing home residents.

Speaker-in-waiting Warren Chisum is here to ally concerns.

Those looking to shake things up said they are not proposing to put existing Medicaid patients out in the cold. They said they want to find a way to deliver health care in a better, more cost-effective way as Texas bends under the burden of more needs than money. 

"It's not a warning that we're going to throw momma out of the retirement home, it's just saying we've got to do something different, because this is not working for us," said state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who cited the Medicaid opt-out idea as he runs for House speaker.

Rest assured, the Republicans say there will be no death panels deciding who gets treated and who gets rolled on a gurney out in the street.

With their ability to touch Medicaid hampered by federal requirements and the federal health care law aiming to add to the Medicaid rolls in the future, some fear the impact on areas such as education and public safety.

"It sends a strong message to the federal government that what you've asked the states to do, even with the (funding) matches that you're proposing, is going to cause the states to go bankrupt — or certainly it's going to compromise our ability to deliver on education, public safety and infrastructure," said state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, an anesthesiologist.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is looking at what the effect would be if Medicaid were abolished in Texas or federal matching funds were slashed. Zerwas, who carried the legislation that called for the study, is saying not that he supports an opt-out but that the idea needs to be thoroughly studied, including the human and economic effects.

Details are unclear on what would replace Medicaid if Texas opted out. Groups, including the limited-government Texas Public Policy Foundation, are working on proposals with the idea that the state still would be able to pull down federal funds in addition to its state health care money, or the federal government would otherwise continue coverage options. 

"It's not just opting out of Medicaid. It is replacing the Medicaid program with something that is affordable by the states and the federal government and can deliver better care," said the foundation's Arlene Wohlgemuth, a former state lawmaker. 

Perry told Fox News that he thinks Texas could find a "private insurance solution" that would save the state and federal government $40 billion each over six years while covering more people. He did not give specifics.

There it is: PerryCare. Which of the governor's richest friends wants to start the company to take Medicaid private? What private insurance company wants to take over coverage of the elderly, the poor, and the infirm? I forget; which ones are now?

Who said elections don't have consequences?

Update: STC has more, including a "superbad" quote from Speaker-to-be Chisum.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Funnies, Derision Points edition

"George W. Bush says he is glad to be out of the Oval Office because he doesn't have to think all the time. And I'm thinking: wait a minute, that was him thinking all the time. Really?" — David Letterman

"George W. Bush was interviewed by Matt Lauer, who asked him if he would still invade Iraq if he knew then what he knows now. It's an unfair question. For one thing I don't know if Bush does know what he knows now." — Jimmy Kimmel

"'Decision Points' by George W. Bush has dropped, and it's like 'War & Peace' without the peace. Here's the very first page: 'In the last year of my presidency I began to seriously consider writing my memoirs.' Right away he's got you hooked. Did he write them or didn't he? You won't know until you read the book. Maybe the rest of the pages are blank. If there's one thing we've learned it's that we can't believe something is there just because Bush says it is." — Stephen Colbert

"In his new book, George W. Bush says he’s happy to be out of Washington. Well, it’s unanimous." - David Letterman

"President Bush told Matt Lauer the most embarrassing thing he ever did drunk was ask a friend of his parents what sex was like after 50. That's nothing. John McCain asked Sarah Palin to be his running mate when he was sober." – Jay Leno

"No sir, I'm not going to read it until he reads it." – David Letterman

In the clearing stands a boxer ... somewhere

Willaim Greider (whom I have enjoyed reading since he wrote in the '80's for Rolling Stone) nails it again here.

Given the election results, the question Barack Obama has to decide for himself is whether he really wants to be president in the fullest sense. Not a moderator for earnest policy discussions. Not the national cheerleader for hope. Not the worthy visionary describing a distant future. Those qualities are elements in any successful presidency, and Obama applies them with admirable skill and seriousness.

What's missing with this president is power — a strong grasp of the powers he possesses and the willingness to govern the country with them. During the past two years, this missing quality has been consistently obvious in his rhetoric and substantive policy positions. There is a cloying Boy Scout quality in his style of leadership — the troop leader urging boys to work together on their merit badges — and none of the pigheaded stubbornness of his "I am the decider" predecessor, nor the hard steel of Lyndon Johnson or the guile of Richard Nixon.

I have never seen this fighter. I have never seen Obama respond to a challenge with a battler's mentality. During his debates with John McCain, I bemoaned to all those watching around me that he would not punch back.

Republicans, who are masters of deceptive marketing, seized on Obama's most appealing qualities and turned them upside down. Their propaganda cast him not as soft but as a power-mad (black) leftist, destroying democracy with socialist schemes. The portrait was so ludicrous and mendacious, the president's party hardly bothered to respond. Egged on by the Republican Party and Fox News, right-wing frothers conjured sicko fantasies and extreme accusations: the president is not only a black man (bad enough for the party of the white South); he is not even American. The vindictive GOP strategy is racial McCarthyism, demonizing this honorable man as an alien threat, just as cold war Republicans depicted left-liberal Democrats as commie sympathizers.

Even Obama supporters began to ask, Where is the fight in the man? Some critics blame a lack of courage, but that neglects the extraordinary nerve Obama displayed in his rise to the White House — a young black man with an unusual name and limited experience who triumphed through his audacity. Obama's governing style is a function of his biography — a man who grew up always in the middle, both black and white. He succeeded by learning rare skills, the ability to bridge different worlds comfortably and draw people together across racial, political and intellectual divides. He learned to charm and disarm, not to smash and conquer.

For the first time in his life, those qualities seem to have failed him. Indeed, he may have been misled by his high regard for his own talents. This is really his first encounter with devastating political defeat. The question now is, What will he learn from his "shellacking"? Possibly not much, since it is always very hard to rethink and adjust in midstream. But remember, this man is an unusually observant politician with a great thirst for self-reflection. One can reasonably hope that as he absorbs the hard knocks, he will make calculated changes in how he governs.

But those around him continue to kowtow and cave in, crawfish and backpedal. Does this reflect their own weakness or just their counsel to him, or the president's own view? Or is this just more of the confusion coming out of the White House right now?

Bluntly put, Obama needs to learn hardball. People saw this in him when he fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and many of us yearn to see more. If he absorbs the lesson of power, he will accept that sometimes in politics you can't split the difference or round off sharp edges. He has to push back aggressively and stand his ground, more like those ruthless opponents trying to bury him. If Congress won't act, the president will. But first he has to switch from cheerleading to honest talk. Tell people what the nation really needs, what Republicans intend to sabotage. In a political street fight, you've got to hit back.

Only Obama can decide this about himself, but others can influence the outcome by surrounding him with tough love and new circumstances created by their own direct actions. It does not help Obama to keep telling him he did great but the people misunderstood him. He did lousy, not great, and in many governing dimensions people understood his failures clearly enough. They knew he gave tons of money to bankers and demanded nothing in return. They knew he thought the economy was in recovery. They couldn't believe this intelligent man was that clueless.

Popular forces can blow away the fuzziness. They can mobilize to demonstrate visible support for the president's loftier goals and to warn him off the temptation to pursue a Clintonesque appeasement of the right. Given the fragile status of his presidency, Obama needs to know that caving in is sure to encourage enemies and drive off disheartened supporters. People should, likewise, call out the president's enemies and attack them with the harshness that's out of character for him. The racial McCarthyism of the GOP establishment is a good place to start.

People who still have great hope for Obama can help revive his presidency, but only if they toughen up themselves. Stop holding his hand (he's an adult) and start building a people's agenda that compels the president to change his. Obama won't like this at first—his own supporters talking back—but he can learn to draw strength from their courage. If people fail to step up with their own message, the president will likely fail with his.

2012 is literally going to be won or lost by Obama, entirely through his own action or lack thereof, in the next few weeks. Will he fight against renewing the Bush tax cuts for millionaires with a lame-duck Congress and Speaker? Will he pick up the gauntlet thrown at his feet by Mitch McConnell?

How badly does he want to be re-elected in 2012, and help Democrats down the ballot get elected as well? We'll find out soon enough.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rachel Maddow's interview with Jon Stewart

One of my Facebook friends indicated that Stewart was being disingenuous for not owning his power as socio-political commentator. I agree wholeheartedly.

His repeating that "he's just a comedian" gives him the illusion of absolving himself of responsibility for influencing the sad state of the national political media for the better. Avoiding accountability means he can keep laughing and pointing at the mess, but not do anything to clean it up.

Unfortunately for Stewart, he's outgrown those pants.

Update: From Mediaite ...
Stewart goes on to explain, quite adroitly, his role as satirist relative to that of an opinion media personality, but it’s not exactly correct to claim that he adds his commentary from the sidelines. Mr. Stewart is very much in the game of forming opinions based on the news, though to be fair, his take is significantly different from that of Maddow and others. But 200,000 participants at the Rally to Restore Sanity didn’t “meta-participate” in a support for a reasoned and sane discourse. Stewart is in the game, though he’s clearly much more comfortable (and perhaps even effective) voicing his critique from the sidelines. Whether he asked for it or not, Stewart has been handed the Cronkite “most trusted” mantle. That puts him, not in the game, and not in the stands, but in the zebra shirt, refereeing the whole affair.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No comprende

How does he expect Democratic voters to support him in two years if he does everything the Republicans want?

President Barack Obama's top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.

That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week's electoral defeat.

"We have to deal with the world as we find it," Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. "The world of what it takes to get this done."

Breathtaking in its defeatist posture. Well almost breathtaking, if I hadn't seen it so many times before. Meanwhile, the Catfood Commission recommends Social Securtiy cutbacks:

The plan would gradually increase the retirement age for full Social Security benefits -- to 69 by 2075 -- and current recipients would receive smaller-than-anticipated annual increases. Equally controversial, it would eliminate the current tax deduction that homeowners receive for the interest they pay on their mortgages.

It would be so much more fun to be cracking wise at Rick Perry and George Bush's hapless dueling book tours, or even the Texas House Speaker shenanigans -- "Quien es mas conservador?" -- but these developments are more critical.

Obama seems to be folding his tent, and along with it the future of his political party.

Is there anyone willing to fight out there for this man?

Update: Not so fast, says Axelrod. And if that is accurate, then the White House has once again screwed up their message, or their 'triangulation', or whatever the fuck it is they're trying to do.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Now fire Phil Griffin.

MSNBC's head honcho is STILL a Triple-D douchebag. (I'd like to say "Worst Person in the World", but Keith has suspended that segment.) "Indefinite suspension", my ass ...

... Olbermann's "crime" wasn't donating to political candidates. It was failing to ask permission before making the donation.

After all, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has donated more money to political candidates than Olbermann, he's headlined fundraisers, and he even campaigned for George W. Bush in 2004 while hosting a program on the network.

Given the case of Scarborough, it's clear that Olbermann would have been allowed to make the donations. So the issue here isn't the donations: it's that Olbermann didn't ask first. The fact that Phil Griffin thought Olbermann's slip-up was something that rose to the level of a suspension (and initially an indefinite one) is rather breathtaking.

Griffin blew this way out of proportion, ultimately making both himself and the network look arbitrary and foolish. Worse, Griffin showed absolutely no respect to Olbermann's audience. Suspending Olbermann for such a ticky-tack HR dispute wasn't just a punishment for Keith O. -- it was a punishment of Countdown viewers. And as any decent network executive will tell you, the last thing you should ever want to do is punish your audience.

Griffin's rapid capitulation almost gives this the appearance of a publicity stunt. It wasn't. It was Phil Griffin making a huge mistake, being called out on it by a quarter of a million of Countdown's viewers in a matter of days, and then backing up quicker than a scared crawdad.

MSNBC is going places in spite of Griffin, and it will go farther and faster if he gets replaced. Fast.

The post-Democalpyse Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance remains committed to moving forward as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is still reeling from the republican blowout. Say goodbye to your Social Security and hello to Warren Chisum in your bedroom.

Off the Kuff starts to discuss a way forward from this election.

There was some good, some bad, and some ugly in last Tuesday's election returns. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the deets.

After Tuesday's Demageddon, Mean Rachel offers some advice as to what political candidates should do with their social media accounts after losing an election.

Len Hart at BlueBloggin has a few words on Election Postmortem: A Picture of Dorian Gray. It is said that insanity is repeating a failed strategy in the expectation of one day getting a different result. Because that never happens, the nation is nuts! Just enough people always vote against their own interests to guarantee that wealth will continue to 'trickle up'...

Andy Wilson over at Public Citizen's TexasVox wants to point out that members of Congress who lost their re-election in Texas all had one thing in common: opposition to climate change legislation.

TXsharon at Bluedaze recently traveled to EPA headquarters in North Carolina to present four case studies of health impacts caused by natural gas extraction in the Barnett Shale. She met with the top rule-makers in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, who are working on new rules for the oil and gas industry. They said it was "incredibly strong evidence."

A day after the election, Letters From Texas identified dark clouds on the horizon for victorious Republicans. Later in the week he detailed the first cloud: the state budget.

Lightseeker over at TexasKaos tries to figure out where we are and where we go next after the mid-terms. Check it out.

While things were rough at the ballot box in the orthern hemisphere, in Brazil the political left won a third consecutive national victory. Neil at Texas Liberal notes that even on the darkest days, there is always progress being made someplace in the world.

After a campaign-work related hiatus, Capitol Annex returns to active blogging with a new look, a new logo, and this post addressing the growth of food service jobs in Texas and why the growth of low wage jobs sill eventually cause the Texas economy to grind to a halt.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Olbermann suspended

Honestly ... this bullshit pisses me off way more than any election result.

MSNBC suspended "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann Friday after the news that he donated to three Democratic candidates.

"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement. "Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay."

Olbermann gave the maximum individual donation of $2,400 to three candidates in Tuesday's election: Arizona Reps. Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva and Senate hopeful Jack Conway, who lost in Kentucky to Republican Rand Paul. (Grijalva appeared on Olbermann's "Countdown" on Oct. 28, the same day the host donated to his campaign; Conway was last a guest in May).

Phil Griffin is a Triple-D douchebag. He's just screwed his network right down the tube, and himself ultimately out of a job. That result, should it come to pass, would actually make me happy. Kos:

Real smart, Phil! Olbermann isn't just MSNBC's highest rated show, but it's the only one that breaks Fox News' stranglehold on the top 10 cable news shows.

Of course, this is par for the course for Griffin -- letting his lowest-rated host Joe Scarborough call the shots, to the point where Scarborough has dictated Olbermann's guest list by blackballing me from the network. As Atrios pointed out on Twitter, Pat Buchanan gave five political contributions between 2005-08, and he keeps his permanent cot in the MSNBC green room.

CNN's ratings are in the gutter. I'm sure they could use the boost in the ratings that Olbermann would provide.

Update: Hey, Phil -- What about this?
SCARBOROUGH, JOE PENSACOLA,FL 32503 MSNBC/HOST 3/31/06 $2,100 Kitts, Derrick (R)
SCARBOROUGH, JOE PENSACOLA,FL 32503 MSNBC/HOST 3/31/06 $2,100 Kitts, Derrick (R)
It's okay if you're Joe Scarborough I guess.

MeMo at the Chron:

I have no inside information, but I know the workplace. Olbermann and his boss, Phil Griffin, do not love each other, and Olbermann often pushes the envelope in ways that, it is said, make some at MSNBC and NBC uncomfortable. ...

My point is this: Olbermann knew exactly what he was doing and he must have guessed there would be consequences. And the consequences are, in my opinion, deserved, though I think if Roethlisberger had to sit out four games, Keith should sit out no more than a week. It's not that bad, given that nobody had any illusions about where KO stood politically.

I don't know what, if any, policy opposite-number-cable-network Fox News has on contributions, but they gave a cool million to the GOP. Also, it seems like a lot tougher place to get suspended from.

As for the violation of MSNBC's policy, fine. I really hope Keith tells Griffin to shove it.

You may recall Griffin suspended David Shuster seven months ago -- he's on the same "indefinite" plan -- and not for just filming a pilot for CNN, but also for getting into a shouting match with Andrew Breitbart and Tweeting that James O'Keefe would likely go to prison for his anti-ACORN antics.

It's time for both guys to go to another network.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I lived through this in 2002, and 2004, and 2006, and I suspect I'll be fine going forward. I posted similar election analysis a couple of years ago under the same title above -- see Good, Bad, Ugly, TBD, and a little more of each --  and it merits a reprise in the wake of last night's crimson high tide. Though I will be briefer.

The Good: not much, especially in Harris County and Texas. Michael Soto was elected to the SBOE, so that body will -- may -- moderate somewhat. This note:

The election will last two years as all 15 board members will have to run again in 2012 because of redistricting to reflect shifting population trends. The next board will develop new health curriculum standards, which is sure to trigger arguments over sex education.

State representative Donna Howard held on by .03 percent, which is 15 votes. She must still survive a recount. Hubert Vo was in trouble early in the evening but pulled ahead late. Nationally, in California Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer held the line, and Harry Reid turned back Sharron Angle somewhat easier than anyone thought.

The Bad: where to begin? National results turned out almost as predicted, with Speaker Boehner, and a Senate Tea Party caucus of Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey and a few other loons trying to take over for Mitch McConnell. Chet Edwards and Ciro Rodriguez and even Solomon Ortiz -- though those last two may go to run-off -- fall out of the Congress. The Texas statewide results keep the sixteen-year undefeated streak alive for Republicans. Anger at incumbents? What's that?

A couple of Senate seats nearly won by the Democrats -- Pennsylvania and Illinois -- were lost to the GOP late in the evening.

The Ugly: Harris County was a bloodbath of straight ticket Republican voting. The GOP amassed almost a 50,000-vote lead across the board that no one could overcome: not respected Democratic incumbents District Clerk Loren Jackson, Judge Dion Ramos, nor Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

Texas Dems lost almost two dozen seats in the statehouse. The worst of it included caucus leader Jim Dunnam, Houston reps Kristi Thibaut and Ellen Cohen, Austin-area incumbents Patrick Rose, Valinda Bolton, Diana Maldonado, El Paso's Joe Moody, Plainview's Joe Heflin, Dallas-area legislators Paula Pierson, Chris Turner, Robert Miklos, Carol Kent, Kirk England, and Allen Vaught, and East Texans Mark Homer, David Leibowitz, and Jim McReynolds.

Solomon Ortiz Jr., Abel Herrero, and Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles in South Texas also went down. What does that tell you about Democratic turnout?

And Justice Linda Yanez also lost her race to retain her 13th Court of Appeals seat, 50.8 - 49.1. There will many stones thrown at the Hispanic communities statewide for letting so many of their incumbents get defeated.

If you need to know more, you know Kuffner always does this better than me. The Trib also looks ahead to a Speaker's contest and some of the redistricting and legislative challenges.

Update: Harold Cook ...

The (state's) Republicans have an additional challenge - redistricting. They can't protect them all, there aren't enough reliable Republican voters Texas to draw into that many districts. Their first order of business will be to figure out who to throw over the side. Their caucuses will get ugly in a hurry.

Republicans made historic gains only two years after suffering historic losses. Voters across America aren't attracted to either political Party in current-day politics - they're merely repelled by the latest thing that the Party in power does.

Democrats in Texas should remain constructive, but they should be very clear who they answer to: the constituents packed into their districts back in 2001, who are about to be the biggest victims of historic budget cuts in the history of the state.

Good luck governing, Republicans. You're going to need it.

Update: Heh.

Bennet has just taken the lead in Colorado. And with just Boulder (deep Blue) and a sliver of El Paso County (Colorado Springs) left to report (and maybe Arapahoe, though that looks like another AP glitch), this one stays Blue.

So thanks Teabaggers! Thanks to your efforts, we got to keep seats in Colorado, Nevada, and Delaware.

Thanks to your efforts, we'll have a 53-47 Senate, rather than a 50-50 one.

Heckuva job rescuing the Democrats from themselves!