Thursday, June 30, 2011

Perry's "strategic victory on sanctuary cities" 2.0

I've been on Mark Jones at the Baker Institute like white on rice about this, as regular readers will attest. His original premise, you will recall, was that the demise of "sanctuary cities" (sic) legislation in the regular legislative session represented a 'strategic victory' for the governor. Today Jones posted his revised postulate.

Did the Texas Republican Party leadership (principally Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus) repeatedly fumble the ball in its drive to pass “sanctuary cities” legislation? Or, instead, was the legislation’s failure, in the end, the leadership’s collective desired outcome?

Let's allow Jones to reset the stage, beginning at the beginning.

At the start of the legislative session in January, the Texas Republican Party leadership had three broad options regarding state-level immigration reform. The first was to do nothing based on the belief that either state-level immigration reform legislation was not in their — or the state’s — best interest or that, because immigration is a federal responsibility, all reform efforts should take place in D.C., not Austin. The second was to follow the Arizona model and pass wide-scale, state-level reform designed to root out and arrest undocumented immigrants, crack down on businesses that employ undocumented immigrants, reduce undocumented immigrant use of social services by imposing citizenship verification requirements, and, in general, make undocumented immigrants and their families (many of whom are U.S. citizens or legal residents) feel unwelcome and unsafe in the state — thereby encouraging them to leave/never come in the first place. This is, for example, the path followed by Alabama and Georgia, which each passed legislation in line with the Arizona model earlier this year.

Presented with these two options, Governor Perry chose neither, opting for a third approach — that of a narrow focus on the largely symbolic issue of “sanctuary cities” which he declared to be one of six “emergency” items in January.  The goal was to satisfy the Republican base by prioritizing immigration reform legislation while at the same time blocking efforts to implement more controversial Arizona-style legislation, which Perry does not consider to be appropriate for Texas (or, one can assume, for the United States more generally). This strategy was quite effective, with very limited public discussion of Arizona-style legislation during the legislative session and with conservative activists expending their energy trying to get the comparatively innocuous “sanctuary cities” legislation passed rather than the more draconian legislation their peers in Alabama and Georgia were working on.

A very good point here: The Texas legislation was weak and watered down (per Cal Jillson at SMU), but it also had the desired psychological effect of mollifying the TeaBagger/bigot base of the Republican Party of Texas, who are long on emotion and short on intelligence. They believed that their legislators, especially the newly-elected Tea Party darlings, were actually going to finally do something about Ill Eagles.

By early March, the prospects for any Arizona-style legislation even being debated in committee had faded, and the Republican leadership focused on the “sanctuary cities” legislation (House Bill 12) which, while primarily symbolic, still caused serious rifts within the party. Supporters of the legislation included a large majority of Republican senators and representatives who, due either to ideological conviction and/or pragmatic concern regarding potential reprisals from conservative activists and Republican primary voters, at least publicly favored the bill’s passage.

Arrayed against the bill within the Republican Party were two principal groups. The first were those in the Republican establishment (elected officials, consultants, donors) who believed the passage of “sanctuary cities” legislation would have a negative electoral impact on Republican candidates in the state via a reduction in the proportion of Hispanics who vote Republican combined with an increase in Hispanic voter turnout. In 2008 and 2010, Texas GOP presidential, gubernatorial, and senate candidates received an average of 36% of the Hispanic vote, a noticeable contrast to California where similar Republican candidates averaged only 28% of the Hispanic vote. In 2008, only 38% of eligible Hispanics voted in Texas, compared to 65% of Anglos and African Americans.  Once again, the contrast with California is noteworthy, with 57% of eligible Hispanics casting a ballot in the Golden State, and the gap between Hispanics and Anglos (69%) and African Americans (65%) much narrower than in the Lone Star State.

The second group was business leaders (who, of course, also tend to fall into the donor category above) who opposed the legislation for two principal reasons. First, passage of the legislation (viewed by many as discriminatory and anti-Hispanic) would have a negative impact on the state’s national and international image and, thereby, an adverse effect on investment, corporate re-location and tourism.  Second, passage of the legislation would cause some undocumented immigrants and their family members to leave the state, as well as lead some future migrants to avoid Texas — thereby slightly reducing the supply of available labor for the agricultural, construction, and service industries.

You should be familiar with their names by now: Norman Adams and Steven Hotze in the first camp; homebuilder Bob Perry, grocery magnate Charles Butt and their political consultants HillCo Partners in the second. As for that second group, there's dozens more just like them -- wealthy conservative business owners who give a lot to Republican campaigns and are big fans of cheap labor -- but the key point is that these two guys don't give a damn whether their names get published in the paper or not. They consider themselves above reproach from everybody, certainly a Republican primary voter.

Jones then repeats the long-refuted tactic of scapegoating Wendy Davis for the special because she filibustered to the end of the regular session. We know that's bullshit, though. The governor was going to call a special anyway to deal with the unresolved windstorm insurance legislation.

Let's cut to the chase.

Recall also that during the regular session, the “sanctuary cities” legislation was approved by the House on a 100-to-47 party-line vote, only to be blocked by Democrats in the Senate on a 12-to-19 party-line vote. But during the special session, essentially the same legislation was approved by the Senate on a 19-to-12 party-line vote (the two-thirds rule was not in force during the special session) — only to fail to make it out of the House State Affairs committee, the same committee which in early May had heartily endorsed it on a 9-to-3 party-line vote.

This is important: Speaker Straus and Governor Perry quickly blamed Sen. Robert Duncan of Lubbock for not allowing the "sanctuary cities" bill, once it had quietly died in House committee, to be attached to the must-pass school finance reform bill in the Senate. The Senate passed the school finance bill, sending it to the House ... and then quickly adjourned sine die, a day early. The House then rejected the school finance bill with mere hours to go in the special ... the GOP members caucused, twisted some arms, and finally passed it ... without "sanctuary cities".

But Ima letchoo finnish, Mark.

After one regular session and one special session, no “sanctuary cities” legislation has passed (in contrast to a great deal of other controversial items on topics ranging from education spending to abortion and voter identification). There are several optics from which to view this reality.

One is that the Texas Republican Party leadership is inept and/or feckless and this failure is the result of a combination of a variety of factors including Republican legislators being bested by their Democratic colleagues in legislative procedural battles, Republican legislators caving under the weight of the last minute public intervention of a few influential Republican donors, the inability of Republican legislative leaders to conduct business in an efficient and timely manner due to the absence or distraction of their party’s “exhausted” legislators, and, most recently, the obstinate behavior of a single Republican senator.

Another, very distinct, view is that after a cost-benefit analysis of the alternatives, the demise of the “sanctuary cities” legislation was the Republican leadership’s collective preferred outcome.

For those who have labored through Jones' ponderous, academic prose, here's the bottom line: no matter how it happened, the Tea Ps are seething over this betrayal and they are going to make someone pay for it.

They'll primary Robert Duncan in west Texas because Perry and Straus have declared him the scapegoat, despite other GOP senators coming to his rescue. They're already blaming Perry for pretending to do something about the perceived Ill Eagle "problem" and then folding like a cheap lawn chair in fealty to his big-money donors. Maybe that's why this recent poll shows Obama ahead of the governor in Texas (as for that, nobody believes it will hold up, whether Perry is on the '12 ticket somewhere or not).

But I will grant Jones that this outcome does give cover to all the incumbent GOP state legislators in their 2012 primaries against TP challengers, enabling them to say: "I WOULDA voted fer it -- hell, I DID vote fer it -- but th' _______ (House/Senate) didn't let it come up fer a FINAL vote".

And I predict that the TeaBaggers will swallow that lie. Hook, line, and sinker.

So ... it's not so good as originally thought for the governor and his presidential aspirations -- that's good for Texas, and the nation for that matter -- and it's real good for jacking up the Tea Partiers again. That's bad for Texas.

Whether it's good or bad for Republicans depends on what kind of Republican one is.

Update: Then again, this might be the law that does the job that "sanctuary cities" doesn't.

Fourth of July under attack in Houston

In fact it's nearly the entire "pinko nanny" Great State that is imposing individual mandates on freedom-loving Texans this holiday season. Via Kate Shellnutt, Stephen Colbert:

*cocking shotgun* "Texas: you'll get my fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead, fingerless hands."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Texas Republican comings and goings

It's still Williams v. Williams for a DC seat, just a smaller one.

Weatherford car dealer Roger Williams switched from the U.S. Senate race to a race for Congress this morning, finishing up a swap that began last week with calls to supporters in and around the new CD-33.

He's the second candidate to jump. Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams switched to the congressional race last week, opting out of the crowded GOP pack seeking to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate.

Roger Williams is a former Texas Secretary of State and has been a successful fundraiser for other candidates while never seeking office himself. The new district includes all of Parker County and part of Wise County, but the biggest part of the population is in the portion of Tarrant County that's included. It's one of four new seats in Congress coming to Texas because of its population growth over the last decade. Williams started with endorsements from Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, Arlington City Councilman Robert Rivera and state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford.

The bats are already out. On the eve of the announcement, opponents circulated a flier with news clips about Patty Williams, the wife of the candidate and the president of the family's car dealership, lobbying Congress to win federal bailouts for Chrysler and other car manufacturers in late 2008.

Moncrief is *gasp* a former Democratic state senator. Expect that to be a point of contention in this GOP primary.

The Texas Senate adjourned sine die this afternoon, but Robert Miller posted these rumorings last night about Republican state senators and their wannabes shuffling about. I'll embed more links to the various players later on as your scorecard.

  1. SD 5 -- Although no final decision has been made, the odds are that Sen. (Steve) Ogden retires and does not seek reelection. Rep. Charles Schwertner is eyeing the seat.
  2. SD 7 -- We will know soon whether Sen. Patrick's exploratory committee for the U.S. Senate has been successful. If Patrick files for the U. S. Senate, former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt will run for SD 7 and perhaps Rep. Patricia Harless.
  3. SD 10 -- This seat was drawn to elect a Republican, and Sen. Wendy Davis is highly unlikely to be reelected if she runs. Rep. Kelly Hancock is certain to run, and Rep. Vicki Truitt, Rep. Mark Shelton and Dee Kelly, Jr. are considering it.
  4. SD 11 -- Sen. Mike Jackson is taking a hard look at running for Congress in the new CD 36. If he does, expect Rep. Randy Weber to run for his Senate seat and perhaps Rep. Larry Taylor.
  5. SD 25 -- Sen. Jeff Wentworth has long been rumored to be retiring after the legislative session. If Sen. Wentworth retires or does not seek reelection, expect Rep. Lyle Larson to run.

Weasel/turncoat Aaron Pena defies my predictions and opts to stay in the Texas House. Update: Former NFL offensive lineman Seth McKinney, also the son of recently-resigned Texas A&M chancellor Mike McKinney, declared his campaign to replace Fred Brown in HD-14 within moments of Brown's announcement at the conclusion of Wednesday's special session that he would retire. Update II: And just like that *snap* ... McKinney drops out. Must be a record for shortest campaign ever. Rebecca Boenigk and former Brazos County Tax Assessor-Collector Buddy Winn are also in.

I wonder if there are any Democrats running for anything (besides Sen. Davis running to keep her job, that is). Eddie Lucio isn't. Oh yes, here's one: Julian Castro accepts the task that Tom DeLay could not complete; take out Lloyd Doggett.

Anything else on the Dems? Maybe we should ask the new executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, Bill Brannon. Bill?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tea Bags versus Money Bags

Or as South Texas Chisme put it: Republican bigotry meets Republican greed, and greed won. This from Jason Embry (and more recent Tweeted updates in my feed in the right-hand column):

Legislation to bar sanctuary cities in Texas is “all but dead,” according to a source close to negotiations at the Capitol.

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House speaker Joe Straus had agreed to put language in Senate Bill 1, a fiscal matters bill, that would financially penalize any Texas city that has a sanctuary city policy.


The language appears to be dead because Senate negotiators, led by Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, don’t want it in Senate Bill 1, the source said. And with the special legislative session set to end Wednesday, supporters believe there is not realistically enough time left to pass the sanctuary cities ban using another legislative vehicle.

That would mean that "Swift Boat" Bob Perry and Charles "Laughing My" Butt "Off" have trounced the Tea Party Caucus of the Republican Party of Texas, which means a whole bunch of Republican legislators are going to get primaried from the right in 2012.

Mark Jones' premise -- that defeat of the sanctuary cities legislation means Rick Perry is #winning, Charlie Sheen-style -- remains intact. Though the NALEO attendees in San Antone last week might not be buying that.

It just amazes me that the Teas continue to allow themselves to be used like dishrags by the Republicans. I think they still believe they can take over the party from the rich right-wing freaks.

That's simply delusional.

It's long past time that the Tea Party break off from the TX GOP, but they don't have the sense or the gumption to get that done. They'll just keep marching in lockstep, punching a straight ticket then sneaking into HEB to buy groceries while claiming their boycott of Perry Homes is working because they're not buying one.

It's still difficult to believe there are so many ignorant and lazy Texans out there actually doing the voting.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to say "Sine Die" for the second time as it brings you this week's roundup.

The Congressional map got its final legislative approval, and Off the Kuff analyzes the new districts.

This week WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the (in)action at The Lege. Quorums were broken and tempers flared: This week's Political wrap-up, GOP laziness was the theme.

Bay Area Houston thinks the Texas Tea Party is calling for an immigration raid on homebuilder Bob Perry for his role in killing their sanctuary bill.

This week McBlogger tells us exactly why a federal debt default isn't a good thing.

Rick Perry's 'aids' (sic) are preparing to respond to the 'crusted-over rumors' of the governor's alleged homosexual liasons. Chief 'aid' (sic) Dave Carney emphasizes that Perry is the 'most tested' candidate on the Republican side. Seriously, that's what Politico wrote. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has a screen shot.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme watches as Republican hate meets the greed of Rick Perry crony Bob Perry. Greed wins.

Libby Shaw gives us the skinny: Rachel Maddow Debunks Rick Perry's "Texas Miracle" Myth . Check it out at TexasKaos.

Public Citizen's TexasVox shows us that while Houston implements water restrictions to deal with this global warming-enhanced drought, San Antonio is trying to do something about it by retiring their coal plant and making heavy investments in solar.

Neil at Texas Liberal compiled a Fourth of July reading list. As fun as it might be to blow off your fingers as you set off fireworks in violation of drought-mandated brushfire rules, it is even more fun to learn about your past. If you allow others to define your history -- as, for example, we have allowed crazies to take over the symbolism of the Boston Tea Party -- such folks will most likely use this power to also screw up your future.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rick Perry rumors harden (no, not the gay ones)

"Our normally reliable Republican source reports that Mr. Perry has surveyed the field and decided to get in the race later this summer, perhaps around the time of the national prayer meeting that Mr. Perry is hosting on August 6 at a Houston football stadium. Our source also reports that Mr. Perry is aiming to compete in the Iowa Straw Poll, even though it occurs just a week later, on August 13. The thinking is that apparent front-runner Mitt Romney 'does not reflect the Republican Party' and is therefore vulnerable to a credible challenge from the right, especially after Mr. Romney's recent squishy remarks on global warming."

The guy that ran Al Gore's 1988 campaign in Texas has decided to enter the 2012 presidential race because Mitt Romney is too soft on climate change.

That flip-flop is so massive that Goliath's whole foot fits in the big toe's crevice. That flip-flop could refloat the Titanic. That flip-flop is so huge that it has other smaller flip-flops orbiting it. That flip-flop is so effing big ...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

HillCo Partners working on behalf of Bob Perry to kill sanctuary cities bill

That's what "multiple sources" are telling Harvey Kronberg at 5:18 p.m. today, and here is the subhead and the teaser:

Hillco's Bill Miller responds that they are definitely not trying to kill but definitely trying to change SB9

Ironically, Governor Perry declared sanctuary cities an emergency item in the regular session and put it back on the call for the special despite Bob Perry being one of his largest contributors. He is also a major direct and indirect contributor to state lawmaker races.

House State Affairs is scheduled to take up SB9 tomorrow.

UPDATE: House State Affairs has canceled its meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning and has scheduled a Monday hearing for 9 a.m. in the Agriculture Museum on the ground floor of the Capitol.

Don't know who HillCo is? Don't know Bill Miller? Now you do.  But the only thing that is essential for you to know is that if they are successful in defeating or watering down this legislation, the TeaBaggers are going to go frothing, screaming mad. I mean, more so than they already are. Much more. If you can imagine that.

Pop plenty of corn and get ready to watch the fireworks.

Update: "Sanctuary cities" bill loses momentum ...

As two of Texas' most politically-involved business leaders emerged as opponents, a bill banning "sanctuary cities" lost crucial momentum Friday, raising the possibility the measure will be killed or substantially weakened before the special session of the Texas Legislature ends Wednesday.

HillCo Partners' lobby team, led by Neal T. "Buddy" Jones, is working on behalf of Houston home builder Bob Perry and San Antonio grocery store magnate Charles Butt to alter a proposal that would permit law enforcement officers to inquire about the immigration status of people they detain, Jones' partner Bill Miller confirmed.

Miller declined to detail the changes Jones hopes to make in the legislation, saying only that they have "given language to members" to consider including in the proposal, which would carry financial penalties for cities that prohibit law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status.

The opposition of the business leaders demonstrates a schism in the Republican Party on the issue, designated a priority by Gov. Rick Perry. Bob Perry, no relation to the governor, is a prolific Republican contributor who has given $2.5 million to the governor's campaign coffers since 2001. HEB CEO Butt has made substantial contributions to members of both parties.

Too funny to wait until Sunday

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Too big to sue

That is essentially what the Supreme Court's Wal-Mart ruling means.

Class action lawsuits have traditionally been the vehicle for individuals to seek justice from large corporations. It allowed these individuals to pool their resources in order to achieve the same level of justice as the corporation. This was the method that was used to counteract a corporation's lawsuit war chest, with which they could buy their way out of a lawsuit with an army of lawyers and endless appeals. The class action lawsuit leveled the playing field.

But the Supreme Court ruling this week means that many corporations are just too big to sue. Since large groups of people are now not allowed to pool their resources due to the vague "glue rule" advanced by Antonin Scalia, the only avenue left for suing these corporations is via small groups or individuals. And of course, when going up against small groups or individuals, a large corporation has all the advantages that money can buy.

Many lawyers are simply not going to take such cases any more, advising their client that they can't win. Thus justice will be denied, over and again. Congress and the White House could work to change this setback for Americans through either legislation or even constitutional amendment, but somehow I doubt they will. After all, they don't want to displease their corporate masters, especially after last year's Citizens United ruling (and didn't Obama make some vague promise about doing something about that atrocity).

We no longer live under the rule of law, but rather under the rule of corporations. That's fascism, folks. Or as Benito Mussolini* pointed out, more properly called corporatism.

What, if anything, should we the people do about that?

Do you still have hope that our elected officials will actually make the necessary changes? I don't.

A stronger labor movement would be a good thing towards this end. But the unions have been dying for decades now, and the corporations and the traditional media are busy putting the final nails in their coffins even as I blog.

Frankly I think that the only option left is the one to which the people of France resorted in 1789. I'm just not certain that I will live to see it. It's also quite likely that if a populist uprising like that occurred it would be led from the extreme Right, such as the TeaBags (they have most of the guns, after all). Which would move the country still further right. Toward more theocracy and more corporatism, without a doubt. With a bit of idiocracy thrown in.

But perhaps we could make a start in the not-right-but-certainly-proper direction by impeaching Clarence Thomas. As former US Senator John Blutarsky famously said: "Who's with me?!"

 *Some disagree that Mussolini actually said this.

Related reading:

Beyond the Supreme Court: Other Strategies Needed to Fight Discrimination at Wal-Mart (and Other Corporations)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rick Perry "aids" (sic) prepare for his gay rumors to be rehashed

As Evan Smith previously noted, that is a most unfortunate typo in the headline.

Here's the article, still with the header error, as of this posting. Update: Politico editors finally managed to get it fixed mid-morning Tuesday.

If Texas Gov. Rick Perry decides to run for president, his team is more than prepared for a re-airing of unsubstantiated rumors, circulated on and off for years in the Lone Star State, about his personal life.

The crusted-over rumors were in the ether among some attendees at a dinner hosted last week by the Manhattan County GOP, where Perry gave the keynote speech. The rumors, which have never been proven despite repeated review by media outlets, were addressed by the governor himself in a lengthy 2004 American-Statesman story that is sure to see new life if he runs

The claims, which had made the rounds for months by the time the story was written, included rumors that Perry and his wife Anita had split, and that the governor was gay.

"Crusted-over"? Sounds Santorumish. And what's wrong with being gay, anyway? Surely this cannot be the one thing in the entire world that isn't OKIYAR.

But Team Perry, asked about how it's prepared to handle them when they emerge if he runs, said it remains "false and misleading."

"As you may know, Rick and Anita Perry first met in grade school, went on their first date together in 1966, have been lovingly married since 1982 and are parents to two grown children," said top Perry strategist Dave Carney. "This kind of nameless, faceless smear campaign is run against the Perry family in seemingly every campaign, with no basis, truth or success."

"Texas politics is a full contact support, live hand grenades and all; unfortunately there are always going to be some people who feel the need to spread false and misleading rumors to advance their own political agenda," he said.

"He is the most tested, most researched potential candidate or candidate on our side," Carney added to POLITICO.

"Most tested"? (h/t Mean Rachel)

What were the results of the tests, Mr. Carney, head of the Perry aids aides?

My God but that's a lot of presumably unintentional double entendre'.

Update II: Juanita Jean wishes to underscore that Rick Perry is not gay.

The Weekly Wrangle

Have we mentioned that the Texas Progressive Alliance is desperate for rain? Because we're almost ready to pray for some as we bring you this week's roundup.

We have our first poll of Texas for next year's presidential contest and Off the Kuff says that so far 2012 still looks like 2008.

Last week WCNews at Eye On Williamson posted on the Texas Republicans' latest health care scheme: House GOP follows Oklahoma and Georgia into misguided health care compact.

Bay Area Houston has a theory about Rick Perry's veto of the texting-while-driving ban.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is organizing a series of nationwide rallies calling for our country's leaders to focus on employment, and the road show comes to Houston on July 21st. PDidde at Brains and Eggs has the details on the "Speak Out for Good Jobs Now" tour.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that John Cornyn had a busy week, what with moving to kill Medicare and raining on Rick Perry's presidential parade.

Libby Shaw explains how Rick Perry is wooing Wall Street. What a shock! Check it out at TexasKaos.

This week at McBlogger, we take a look at the Olympic-sized swimming pool of fail that is the policy section of General Ricardo Sanchez's website.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted a picture of a man wading in the waters of the Houston Ship Channel. No matter how bad a day you feel you're having, you're likely having a better day than somebody who feels they must wade into one of the most polluted bodies of water in the nation.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Obama comedian at the RLC video

This is really funny stuff.

Be sure and take note of the audience, and how they turn on him when he starts joking about the GOP.

The laughter turned to puzzlement and scattered boos, when (Obama impersonator Reggie) Brown began targeting Republicans. Noting the mass resignation of Newt Gingrich advisers, Brown said that Gingrich supporters “are dropping faster than Anthony Weiner’s pants in an AOL chatroom.”

A picture of George Washington after the rigors of his presidency was actually a picture of former first lady Barbara Bush in a Washington-style wig. When he began making jibes at Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann, the music came up, the microphone went off and the program moderator escorted Brown off the stage.

I loved the whole thing. And I'm not at all surprised that the Republicans can only laugh when the joke's not on them.

Additional Father's Day Funnies

Cascade, CO

Latest chapter in a continuing series of Dorrell's travels.

Like the Bushes and all the other wealthy Houstonians who blow town for cooler climes in the summer, we decided we'd leave the stifling heat and sweltering drought for the Rocky Mountains. My sister-in-law pulled together a packed itinerary (she spent summers here when she was a kid, and with her parents gone wanted to create some new family memories. We all happily obliged).

The 2011 family reunion happened last week in this little hamlet just south of Colorado Springs, which for anybody's money has the most going on within twenty minutes in all directions. There were 15 of us this year; most of our group stayed here (we were the last ones to arrive Thursday just past and stayed in the cabin, here and here, about 300 yards down the hill). Can't say enough good things about the facilities. Well worth the money even in high season.

Once deplaned in Denver and driven south about 90 minutes, we picked up Mom and Mother Baker and headed out for Cripple Creek -- about a 45-minute very scenic drive away -- so they could feed the slots. Had dinner at the Steakhouse inside Bronco Billy's and drove back at dusk.

Friday morning was devoted to the photographer at Garden of the Gods. Flickr stream to follow. This was the trip's highlight for me.

It's a free-admission city park with the finest hiking trails you can imagine. You can also Segway it or Jeep it. Both the history and the geology are amazing and the vistas just stun. We had a buffalo burger and sweet potato tots for lunch before driving about twenty minutes to Manitou Springs to take the Cog Railway to the summit of Pike's Peak.

The ride up made my altitude sickness-influenced Meneire's even worse, but that eventually passed. When we got to the top it was 32 degrees (temps were mid-50's to high 70's while we were in Colorado) and we got hailed on twice in 40 minutes -- first gravel-sized and then peas -- before the wind whipped up to about 50 mph just as we were departing. I found that positively invigorating, being peppered by ice the size of Dippin' Dots on top of a 14,000 feet-high pile of granite.

Friday evening's meal brought us all together at the Craftwood Inn, where most of the family had one of the local game selections (.pdf); I had a halibut/salmon/coconut shrimp sampler. Our celebrations included Mom's 85th birthday and my two nieces' engagement /wedding announcements.

We departed Saturday morning, missing the whitewater rafting and zip line activities at Royal Gorge Bridge and Railroad, the Cave of the Winds, the cliff dwellings, Seven Falls, the Air Force Academy, and everything else. Some of the late departures are having brunch at the Broadmoor this morning.

You'd need a week to do half of all that. Maybe next time.

Can you believe I'm related to these people? Me neither.

The brunette's blog has more and many more pictures here, here, and here.

Sunday Funnies

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Governor Dominionist

There's just no end to the man's piety this week. Today, this:

During an interview with Neil Cavuto on FOX News this afternoon, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked about the criticism he’s received at home from Texas’ newspapers, fellow Republicans and opposition Democrats.

The prophet is generally not loved in their hometown,” Perry said in response to the question.

Would that this was true; his sorry ass wouldn't be sitting in a $10-grand-a-month rental paid for by Texans right now. That follows this, posted yesterday (but retrieved from an interview last month with the illustrious James Robison):

Perry says he sees a silver lining to the devastating recession that has cost millions of families their jobs, homes, and livelihoods: it will return America to “Biblical principles” and free us from the slavery of big government:
PERRY: I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. We become slaves to government.

Perry twists a famous Biblical story into a bizarre anti-government tirade, comparing the U.S. government to slave masters in ancient Egypt. Skewing religion to reinforce his personal political ideology, Perry chastises people not to rely on government for help in hard times, and suggests those who are suffering have no one but themselves to blame for not making adequate preparations.

Let's review.

As the state’s longest serving governor in history, Rick Perry has pushed through a radical right-wing agenda that has left Texas with a record budget deficit, the third-highest poverty rate in the country, and the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation. Now he is poised to sign the most draconian state budget in modern history, one that slashes essential services for the poor and middle class while potentially laying off hundreds of thousands of public school teachers.

He has a history of using religion for perceived political gain, courting the most extreme religious conservatives as he has flirted with a run for the White House. Last week Perry invited other governors to join him at a prayer event in Houston this summer, hosted by the stridently bigoted American Family Association. Last month, over Easter weekend, he extolled Texans to “pray for rain” ... even as he tried to cut funding for the agency battling the wildfires.

Rick Perry's Dominionism is at the heart of his political hypocrisy, and in the wake of some pundits declaring him the "winner" of the debate last night in which he made no appearance, it's important that the national media -- and the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere -- understand precisely what a miserable, epic failure he is.

But he's not simply a poor governor and an even poorer human being, he's got a significant and dangerous God complex. Perry doesn't just talk to God in public and with the cameras rolling; it's not even that God talks back to him (like George W Bush, with whom he famously does not get along). Rick Perry believes -- this is so ironic because it's the same thing that the conservative minions continually carp about Obama -- that he is the Chosen One. The prophet. The Messiah.

In that classy "eat the poor", neoFascist kinda way, of course.

Update: Richard Connelly at the Houston Press adds a take.

Progressive Democratic Caucus sponsors 'Good Jobs' tour

It's coming to Houston on July 21st:

With the debate on Capitol Hill having shifted from job creation to deficit reduction, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Tuesday launched a 12-city summer listening tour aimed at refocusing the economic discussion on the unemployment rate.

"The Republican majority has not offered one bill, one proposal, one concrete idea that would put Americans back to work," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) told reporters on Capitol Hill. "Instead they only talk about cutting spending in ways that would hurt seniors, children, the middle class and the economy -- so that they can protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires."

"What Republicans don't want to talk about is what Democrats know to be true: jobs equal deficit reduction," she added. "That are fifteen million Americans out there and many of the millions of them who are getting unemployment checks would instead love to be paying taxes and lowering the deficit in America. This would boost our federal revenues, bringing down the deficit."

Over the next two months, House liberals and plan to "get the progressive bus on the road" and take this message to Minneapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York City, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Portland, Seattle and Oakland.

"Our biggest challenges are not half-way around the world, they're half-way down the block," said Jim McGovern (D-MA). "We need to do a little bit more nation building in the United States of America."

"So let's get mad, you guys. And let's tell the man that we love in the White House to get off his butt and start supporting some legislation for jobs," added Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). "We want some action, President Obama."

The "Speak Out for Good Jobs Tour" opens June 18 in Minneapolis. Go here for additional dates and locations. Leave it to the progressives to get things moving (as usual).

Offended by the Spanish language

Speaking as a white person, I'm getting really tired of being represented by bigoted white people.

This faux outrage over people speaking Spanish is just dog-whistling to the TeaBaggers. Pretending to be offended by a language you cannot understand is no excuse for racism or xenophobia. Oh, and the BS about "I'm in favor of LEEEGAL immigration"? Yeah, that's bullshit. Just like we thought.

Women, Latinos, African Americans: PLEASE. Run for office. I'm not even going to care which party any more. Just run for any office that has had a white man sitting in it for the past thirty years.

Update: Stace has more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hotter-than-Hell Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wishing -- not praying -- for rain as it brings you the week's roundup of the best blog posts from last week.

At McBlogger, Cap'n Kroc discussed the ridiculous plan for Formula 1 racing in Austin and the possibility that it could help us extract better redistricting terms from the Lege. He also points out that that Rick Perry needs to come out of the closet and be himself. It's a blockbuster post that you have to read to believe.

Congressional redistricting moved its way through the Senate and into the House last week, and Off the Kuff took a look at the numbers for the proposed new districts.

Libby Shaw provides the update on Governor Rooster Perry's run for POTUS. Come check out what the national audience has in store for a Perry campaign at TexasKaos.

With all the talk last week about how Sarah Palin misinterpreted Paul Revere's ride, Neil at Texas Liberal offered up a post about the actual event. You need to learn history for yourself. If you let others define your past, they will use that power to screw up your future.

Ryan at TexasVox gives us a double dose of bad news about opposition to the possible tar sands pipeline coming to Texas and the numerous spills they've had already.

Letters From Texas presented the case against Rick Perry for President.

The Republican Party of Texas can't figure out whether to shit or go blind over "sanctuary cities". PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collects the evidence.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks that the 'new' GOP is the same old bad joke if Rick Perry is the best candidate they have to offer.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Texas GOP quarreling over "sanctuary cities"

I have blogged previously about the ridiculousness of Mark Jones' premise that the defeat of "sanctuary cities" legislation in the regular session was a 'strategic victory' for Rick Perry. It seems that there are some prominent Republicans who are trying desperately to validate Jones' argument. Read this from Julian Aguilar at the Texas Tribune:

A series of email exchanges between Republican Party boosters and the office of Gov. Rick Perry indicate some conservatives believe passing the contentious “sanctuary cities” bill may cripple efforts to recruit more Hispanics to their ranks.

The correspondence signals a potential rift between Perry, who appears intent on addressing immigration issues during the current special session, and some of the party’s backers as rumors surrounding a possible Perry presidential run continue to swirl.

“At the end of the day you should understand that Hispanic voters will not support a party that wants to deport their mother and father,” Norman Adams, the co-founder of Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy and a member of Texas GOP Vote, a conservative website, wrote to Ray Sullivan, Perry’s chief of staff. The messages are part of an email exchange that began June 2 and were obtained by the Tribune.

Dr. Steve Hotze, the chairman of Conservative Republicans of Texas, is included in the exchanges and urges Perry and Sullivan to reconsider. Hotze contributed at least $60,000 personally and at least $640,000 via his PAC to GOP House and Senate candidates in the last election cycle.

“It seems that we should focus on recruiting Hispanics to the Republican ranks," he wrote. "It appears this bill might accomplish just the opposite.”

Clicking on Dr. Hotze's name above will carry you to his immigration video, where he makes the case against harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric by the GOP. You should go and watch it. Here's a brief excerpt:

We cannot turn our back on immigrants and their families with anti-immigration rhetoric and legislation. If we do so, then we're not just sending the wrong message to the Hispanic community, but we're also denying our own conservative values and beliefs.

It's difficult to believe that Hotze is a voice of reasonable moderation in this regard. More from Aguilar at the Trib ...

“When it comes to the Sanctuary City bill, we believe you should thank God for the opposition from our police chiefs and sheriffs across the state. Its failure to pass was a blessing for you and for Texas Republicans,” Adams wrote Perry on June 2, before the governor added the legislation to the call. Speculation that Perry would add the item had already gained momentum by then, however, and it is also the day state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, filed SB9, which includes the legislation.

“The irony of this whole thing is that the governor had a winning ticket if he wants to run for president" with the success of the regular session, Adams said today in an interview. “He avoided Arizona-style legislation, which has caused nothing but an economic disaster [there], in his own state.”

The problem with that, of course, is that no single issue -- not the state budget cuts, not abortion, nothing -- incenses the Texas TeaBagging base like non-citizen immigrants. You don't have to listen for very long to hear it: Ill Eagles are responsible for everything that is wrong in the world: the budget shortfall, exploding Medicaid expenditures, overcrowded school classrooms, global warming, the Astros' losing season, you name it. And any public forum that includes Texas conservatives commenting on current events quickly reveals this weird alternate reality where only mass deportation of all undocumented people will solve every single problem facing the Great State.

It is an unrelenting, unyielding caterwaul.

Dr. Hotze speaks an inconvenient truth for Texas Republicans, but as an electorate they are no more likely to heed his warning than they were to split their tickets in 2010. They will only support candidates that demand the borders sealed by the federal government as well as deportation. Not so much penalties for employers who hire the undocumented, mind you; that goes against the governor's "Texas Miracle" economy (as well as the wishes of his megadonors Bob Perry and Bo Pilgrim).

Anyway, that's Rick Perry's stated strategy, and he's sticking to it. Today. Keep in mind that these are also the people telling us he's not running for president.

Sullivan said today that Perry will not get distracted from what he views as political theater.

“What Dr. Hotze and Mr. Adams talk about is politics. We are talking about public safety and policy,” he said. “We are not looking at this through a political lens. This is ‘How do we make Texas streets and neighborhoods and individuals safer?’”

He also said the issue would not damage the party’s efforts to recruit Hispanics.

“There is a broad agreement throughout the state, regardless of geography and political persuasion, that law enforcement should be encouraged to do their jobs to the best of their abilities,” he said. He added that a lot of the criminal activity the bill seeks to address occurs in “urban centers and minority communities,” and pointed out that every Hispanic Republican in the Texas House supports the sanctuary cities legislation.

Sullivan also dismissed Adams’ emails that insist a majority of law enforcement officers are opposed to the bill.

“We have been hearing for well over a year from police officers and police associations who have seen their colleagues killed by individuals in the country illegally,” he said.

My first observation here is that Aguilar has an extraordinary and unusual amount of back-channel access here: the e-mails, the lengthy response from the governor's spokesperson. That's an awful lot of on-the-record commentary. If GOP legislators actually don't want to pass this bill they will have an extremely difficult path to walk to do so; for one thing they are much more vulnerable to backlash in 2012 from the base than is Perry.

Paul Burka has previously documented Rick Perry's flip-flop on sanctuary cities -- he was for them before he was against them -- as well as the odd sight of Republican legislators celebrating after the legislation's demise in the regular session.

How is the GOP going to defeat sanctuary cities again in the special, thus preserving the 'strategic victory' for Perry and saving the long-term future of the RPT, mollifying Hotze and Adams but enraging the base? Or does Perry just intend to go for the short-term political gain, exerting his will to get the bill okayed and damn the long-term consequences?

It looks to me like he's betting on the latter, and so am I. But I cannot say I will be surprised if the bill dies another strange procedural death at some point, enabling every Republican except the Teas to breathe a sigh of relief.

How do Iowa Republican primary voters poll on illegal immigration? That might tell us a lot about whatever hidden agenda the governor is operating from in this regard.

Update: Related reading ...

Hotze: Hispanic Christians Will Be "Our Natural Allies Against the Democrats and Muslims" (Right Wing Watch)

Should Perry be thankful for unanswered prayer? (Lisa Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle)

Newt loses campaign staff (they're going to work for Rick Perry)

Though they aren't saying so yet. A summary of the reports:

In a major blow to Newt Gingrich's presidential hopes, senior advisers to his 2012 campaign resigned en masse today, citing strategic differences.

The staffers include Rick Tyler, a longtime political adviser and close friend to Gingrich who has worked for the former House speaker for years, as well as Rob Johnson, a former longtime aide to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had been hired to manage Gingrich's campaign. [...]

"When the campaign and the candidate disagree on the path, they've got to part ways," Tyler told the Post.

Gingrich campaign manager Rob Johnson, who ran Perry’s wildly successful 2010 re-election race, and New Hampshire political consultant David Carney, who has been a close Perry adviser throughout the governor’s rise to power, were among the Gingrich aides leaping off his tempest-tossed presidential campaign ship. [...]

If you remember our recent “Perry Watch” post entitled “Some important clues that will tell you whether Rick Perry is serious about running for president,” we wrote:

Watch Dave Carney and Rob Johnson. Unless you’re a political junkie, you probably don’t know those names. But Carney is Perry’s canny political guru and Johnson managed the governor’s wildly successful 2010 re-election campaign. Both are now working for GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Johnson as campaign chief. Carney “is from New Hampshire, and he knows presidential politics as well as anyone in his party,” says Democratic consultant Paul Begala, a Houstonian and longtime Bill Clinton adviser who says he has “a high degree of respect for Carney.” If Carney and Johnson leave Gingrich while the Georgian’s struggling presidential quest continues, it’s a sign that Perry is reassembling his campaign brain trust.

During their time with Gingrich, Johnson and Carney have been able to tap into Gingrich’s national network of supporters and his fundraising machinery — two tools that could become invaluable in case Perry decides to go for the gold in 2012.

Yes, Rick Perry is definitely in. His Christian Ramadan scheduled for August is just days prior to an Iowa straw poll. Iowa's Christian conservative primary voters are key to any success Perry might have in the early going.

Carney, you will recall, was a player in the Texas Green Party ballot qualification shenanigans in 2010, during the last Perry re-election campaign against Bill White.

Finally and FWIW there's also an online poll at the Austin Business Journal -- no bastion of liberal media -- you can click on. Currently the results don't look so good for the governor.

Update: All of Gingrich's paid staff in Iowa has also resigned.

The Redemption of Isiah Carey

Via Richard Connelly at the Houston Press. Just watch it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Rick Perry's Ramadan *updates*

Reliant Stadium, Houston, August 6.

Gov. Rick Perry raised some eyebrows recently when he officially declared three "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas," which has been plagued by drought.

But now Perry, these days a pundit-approved Possible Presidential Contender, is taking his advocacy for public prayer a step further -- and in a distinctly non-inclusive direction.

Perry is the man behind a new conservative Christian event called "The Response: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis." It is a day of prayer and fasting to be held at Reliant Stadium in Houston in August. Says Perry in a letter on the front page of the event's website:

"Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy."
(Emphasis added.)

Perry adds that "there is hope for America ... and we will find it on our knees."

Here we go ...

The Response Promo from The Response USA on Vimeo.

So who else will be at The Response?

"Governor Rick Perry has invited all US governors as well as many other national Christian and political leaders," according to the event's website. "People of all ages, races, backgrounds and Christian denominations will be in attendance to proclaim Jesus as Savior and pray for America."

The Response is being organized at Perry's request by the American Family Association, a group that regular readers will recognize from our past coverage of a top AFA official's history of openly bigoted anti-Muslim rhetoric.

I'm going to have to resort to praying that God does NOT send a Category 5 hurricane to smite Rick Perry and this awakened sleeper cell of terrorists on that day.

I'm either leaving town or protesting the shit out of these people.

Update: The event doesn't seem to be going over well. Jason Embry:

(T)he Texas Tribune: “It’s billed as an ‘apolitical Christian prayer meeting,’ but on Tuesday the event drew heated rebukes from the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Sparking the controversy are the (American Family Association)’s views on Christianity, its staunchly anti-gay platform and the inflammatory statements of one its executives, Bryan Fischer. In an interview with The Texas Tribune on Tuesday, AFA president Tim Wildmon said Jews, Muslims, atheists or any other non-Christian would “go to hell” unless they accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Wildmon’s father, Don, who famously took on iconic television programs like Three’s Company for promoting what he saw as an immoral lifestyle, is listed as one of the event’s chief organizers. ...

Go read the whole thing, including the reasons why GA Gov. Nathan Deal, FL Gov. Rick Scott, IN Gov. Mitch Daniels, and MI Gov. Rick Snyder have already RSVP'd "thanks but no thanks". And there is more about Goodhair's appearance this weekend at a Spanish-language anti-abortion event in Los Angeles (Perry will address the gathering in English). The governor, you will note, yesterday added his sanctuary cities emergency legislation to the special session call ... thus assuring himself of a strategic defeat.

Update II: Mayor Annise Parker endorses the governor's prayer meetin' ...

When asked if she considered the AFA holding an event in her city an insult, (Parker) said, “No, I’m glad to have anybody’s dollars coming to the city of Houston. They can come back on a monthly basis if they’d like as long as they spend money.”

“I don’t have any complaint with this event and certainly respect the value of prayer and believe that folks coming together for spiritual support is important under any circumstances,” Parker said ...

...but Westboro Baptist plans to picket. The Apocalypse is nigh, folks. The Dallas Voice observes...

(I)t’s pretty clear that Perry will have to do a better job of uniting homophobic bigots — and build a bigger tent of hate — if he wants to win the GOP presidential nomination.

Of Weiners (and Anthony)

I'll leave aside the condemnations of Rep. Anthony Weiner, of politicians on both sides generally, of those who would wring their hands and cluck their tongues over "the decline in moral values" -- you can read plenty of that elsewhere -- and try to focus on what's actually going on with this episode.

And I would like to start with this: everybody has their own version of whatever it is that bangs their shutters. And what does it for some does not for others, as the following article -- written before Rep. Anthony Weiner's confession yesterday -- clarifies ... for those who were still unclear.

Putting aside the issues of inappropriateness (the recipient was a college student) and accuracy (Weiner has maintained that his Twitter account was hacked in a prank), this fact remains:

Weiner, or someone pretending to be Weiner, apparently assumed that women would enjoy seeing photos of bulging briefs via Twitter.

We polled some women. Really, they would like to see . . .

“I would like a photo of a made bed,” says Kathryn Roberts, who works at a law firm in Washington. “I would take rose petals, but I want them on top of a made bed.” And not that fake kind of made, either, where the comforter is smooth but the sheets are a jumbled mess.

“Or laundry,” adds her friend Andrea Neurohr.

“Folded laundry,” elaborates Roberts. “Maybe in a wicker basket.”

Over the years, a handful of famous men — and a boatload full of unfamous, Craigslisty men — have landed in the news for sending women photos of their artfully framed packages. Brett Favre allegedly had a special delivery for Jenn Sterger, a sideline reporter for the New York Jets. Kanye West allegedly provided some of his female MySpace friends with some extra-friendly pictures. There are entire Web sites, aimed at men, teaching them the etiquette for public displays of private parts.

Men! Broaden your seduction techniques!

How about you move away from the below-the-waist close-up? How about you try going naked from the waist up? How about a picture of you, sweaty, cleaning out the storm drain? How about a photograph of you gently caressing the yogurt, as you rotate the soon-to-expire food to the front of the refrigerator? So sexy!

“The refrigerator,” says Gretchen LeMaistre. “That’s a big scenario.” LeMaistre is a San Francisco-based photographer who has worked on the “Porn for Women” (very SFW) series, tongue-in-cheek books purporting to tap into women’s most intimate pleasure zones. In the yet-unpublished “Porn for Working Women,” an attractive man cleans out the office fridge and asks, “Am I the only one who cares if we have a clean breakroom?”

Not all women like this, of course. This is the part where we call up an expert, who affirms that there is a great diversity in what women find arousing.

“There is a great diversity in what women find arousing,” says Marta Meana, a renowned psychologist who studies women’s sexual function at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. She would never want to make blanket statements about what does or does not put wind in one’s sails.


“But,” she says, if you look at the empirical literature, it does indicate that the majority of women are not as aroused by pictures of” naked man-parts.

Cindy Meston directs the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a past president of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. If there is something you want to know about what turns women on, she is the person you call.

“We spent six years of research on why women have sex,” Meston says. They compiled 237 reasons. Duty sex. Revenge sex. Pity sex. Bored sex, engaged in because women simply had nothing better to do. “Of the 237 reasons why women have sex,” Meston says, “not one was looking at a man’s genitals.”

Women, research increasingly shows, are nuanced sexual beings whose arousal depends on context, mood and a whole bunch of things they aren’t even aware of. Men are different. Men do tend to find the equivalent naked pictures of women titillating. When they send women photos of their genitalia, they are engaging in a sort of sexting golden rule: I think it’s hot, so you should, too. (If women also employed this rule, they would text pictures of themselves taking out the recycling.)

“I can picture liking a photo that’s a little private and romantic,” says Amy MacHarg of Arlington County. She could envision a photo of some massage oils, or perhaps a man sitting at a candle-lit table. He would be holding a pan. Because he had just cooked the meal.

Her friend Sara Monsef has a different dream. “I would like to see a photo of a man who has organized his books alphabetically and by genre,” she says.

OK, we get it; it's a Mars/Venus thing. I posted on FB last week -- also before Weiner, ah, exposed himself as a non-truth-teller -- that I missed the good old days, when you could take a picture of your dick and nobody would see it except your girlfriend and maybe one or two other people. Only women initially responded to the post, and the reactions ranged from "And the developer at the drugstore and everybody he showed it to", to "Why do you want a picture of your dick anyway? Don't you know what it looks like?"

To that last I would (but did not) respond: "Why do you take a picture of your children? Don't you know what they look like?"

There's a lot going on here and it's all worth mentioning: yes, there is that "decline of moral values" crap and also the usual testosterone poisoning and insensitivity all men are afflicted by, combined with the evolving definitions of "social media", the licentiousness of some people colliding with the prudishness of others, as well as the fact that it's not constricted so much any longer by age or even technological proficiency but goes along with the increasing obsessive/compulsive nature of the virtual world versus the real one.

Men of my generation grew up reading Playboy, and then Hustler. When we got older and had a little more money we went to the Playboy Club ... or the titty bar. If we earned a lot more money then we paid for a hooker. The women involved were not unwilling accomplices, either. They realized a lucrative opportunity when they saw one: they could get paid by the men to accommodate their predilections, to whatever degree they by mutual consent extended. The first time I ever showed my wife a video of a facial shot (it wasn't my first time) the very first thing she said was: "How much did she get paid for that?" A question I had never considered but instantly knew the answer to: "As much as was necessary to get her to say 'OK'."

And of course that's just the growing-up-straight-in-a-small-town version. YMMV.

And long before there was ever any money involved, people took naughty pictures of each other and of themselves, beginning a short time after the first cameras were invented. It's just that now those pictures can be uploaded to the WORLD WIDE Web and shared with everyone on the planet, whether one meant to do so or not. Do you remember -- two or three years ago -- when Facebook was initially a place where all the kids were hooking up? And then their mothers and fathers found out and started joining in order to monitor them, and then they found their high school friends (or others) they had long fallen out of touch with ... and now nobody ever has to attend a high school reunion any more. And now there are social media seminars cautioning kids not to post pictures on FB of that rock concert where they pulled up their shirt or pulled down their pants because it might affect their future employment prospects, and companies are suing their employees who are on workman's comp because they found those online photos of them wind-surfing in Cancun.

You used to have to pay a private detective to dig up that kind of dirt. Another industry destroyed by the Internet. Anyway ...

At this point I have but one request for the women reading this: please don't ever again ask your man, if there is one, why he was thinking with his little head. That's all we have ever thought with, for goodness sake.

Yes, all men are horny pigs. Snorting, grunting, groveling-in-the-mud swine. I'm sorry about that. Some of us get trained -- by our mothers -- to act better in public. Some of us don't. Like the dogs we also are, sometimes we forget what we've been trained to do in public.

I hope Anthony Weiner does not resign in the next couple of weeks because I think he's an outstanding legislator, but that's the over/under and I'm betting the under.