Saturday, July 30, 2011

Colorado straw poll this weekend will test early strength of GOP field

Gov. Rick Perry’s name won’t appear on the key Iowa straw poll ballot next month, but he’ll face a test of his strength among Western conservatives this weekend in Denver.

Organizers of the Western Conservative Summit have put Perry on a straw poll ballot along with other major announced and unannounced candidates. Perry is one of two keynote speakers at the event. White House Republican hopeful Rick Santorum, who recently criticized Perry for saying gay marriage policies should be decided by states, is the other one. GOP presidential contender Herman Cain is also scheduled to make an appearance in Denver.

Frothy Mixture has in fact already leveled a withering broadside at Governor Prophet in his speech last night. Santorum's campaign is circling the drain, and he's probably done unless he makes a mark here and in Iowa in a couple of weeks.

More than 900 people who paid to attend the event will get to cast votes in the straw poll, with the results expected to be announced Sunday. All the announced major candidates will appear on the ballot, as will Perry and other possible candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin and John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

So it's a full cattle call. But what about "Difficulty Breathing" Christie? And Pataki? I mean, if they're going to put John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani on there, why don't they just put Ronald Reagan on the "ballot" (.pdf) while they're at it?

Because this is a pay-to-play event for what appears to be evangelical Colorado Republicans, the TeaBag Factor is solid. Still I expect to see Jon Huntsman, as the closest thing to a favorite son, do better than he has yet shown. Then again, his recent criticism of Republicans on the issues of the environment and climate change might very well have finished him off.

I'll call the top four Romney, Perry, Bachmann, Huntsman. The headlines on Sunday in that case will be all about Goodhair besting Crazytown. And if Perry should come in first on the strength of a powerful keynote speech, he'll bask in media glory all the way to Monday.

And the Perry Train will be rolling.

Update: Derailed. But extra pepperoni for everyone in America!

Here is the order of finish:

Cain — 48 percent, 246 votes
Perry –13 percent, 67 votes
Santorum — 10 percent, 50 votes
Mitt Romney — 10 percent, 49 votes
Michele Bachmann — 9 percent, 44 votes
John Bolton — 4 percent, 20 votes
Ron Paul — 2 percent, 12 votes
Tim Pawlenty — 1 percent, 7 votes
Sarah Palin — 1 percent, 5 votes
Newt Gingrich — 1 percent, 3 votes
Thaddeus McCotter — 0 percent, 2 votes
Jon Huntsman — 0 percent, 1 vote
Gary Johnson — 0 percent, 1 vote
Paul Ryan -– 0 percent, 1 vote
Rudy Giuliani — 0 percent, 0 votes

Friday, July 29, 2011

Harvey Kronberg carves open the rotten fruit

Just the teasers from his "Daily Buzz" today:


List of constituencies angry with intransigent Congress grows

"Well, apparently they can’t govern," a rueful Republican business lobbyist told me after the Tea Party dominated House Republican Caucus rejected a once in a generation budget compromise: three dollars cut for every dollar raised.

A Democratic consultant angry at President Obama described the compromise as: "…we surrendered and they wouldn’t accept it.”

Another business lobbyist who lives and breathes polling reported a Republican Campaign Congressional Committee source worrying that GOP House numbers are worse than during Terry Schiavo and that the RCCC will not have the dollars to defend a hundred seats.

I stopped laughing at the GOP's dysfunction once it became apparent that they were asking for Jesus' input on how to vote on the debt ceiling. I interrupt Harvey to give you Dana Milbank at the WaPo:

With the nation just days from a default, the chamber is at the mercy of a handful of people who believe they are on a mission from God.

“Where’s the chapel?” Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) asked as he emerged from an arm-twisting session with Majority Leader Eric Cantor Thursday night. The freshman lawmaker explained that he wanted to “go to the divine source.”

In a room off the Capitol Rotunda, Scott joined a prayer session with fellow South Carolinian lawmakers. “I hope the Lord. . . gives men wisdom when they desperately need it,” Scott explained.

As it happens, the Lord gave Scott the wisdom to oppose Boehner. “I think divine inspiration already happened,” Scott said. “I was a ‘lean no’ and now I’m a ‘no.’” And he’s not much worried about default, saying: “I hope the Lord blesses our nation in a way that is measurable.”

The Lord will surely bless the nation with higher interest rates, if not outright economic collapse, in a default.

As bad as that is, this smells even worse.


Whether or not there was bad science will never be resolved

From the Attorney General's Opinion:

"Although the Forensic Science Commission may conduct investigations of incidents that occurred before September 1, 2005, the law that created the Commission prohibits the FSC from considering evidence that was tested or offered into evidence prior to that date. The Forensic Science Commission's investigative authority is limited to those laboratories, facilities, or entities that were accredited by the Department of Public Safety at the time the forensic analyses took place. The FSC may not investigate fields of forensic analysis expressly excluded from the statutory definition of "forensic analysis." Forensic analysis that is neither expressly included nor excluded by the Act or DPS rule, but that falls under the generic definition of "forensic analysis" found in section 38.35(a)(4), is generally subject to FSC investigation, assuming all other statutory requirements are satisfied."

Greg Abbott once again plays Tom Hagen to Rick Perry's Vito Corleone.

And this is the guy who wants to be the next governor or lieutenant governor. And only the fortuitous calamity of Rick Perry being elected president and David Dewhurst being elected senator in 2012 will stop him, too.

God Bless Texas (with fewer conservatives, please).

Friday Praise God Funnies

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Because tar sands oil is "good"

Behold the Ethical Oil campaign.

"Forced Labour? Or Good Jobs?"
Degradation? Or reforestation?
Funding terrorism, or peacekeeping?
Persecution, or (gay) pride?
Indigenous peoples killed? Or hired?
Conflict Oil? Or Ethical Oil?

George Orwell would be so proud.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My phone call to John Culberson this morning *update*

One of his very courteous staff members took my call a few minutes ago. I said this:

"In 1985, the top five percent of households, the wealthiest five percent, had net worth of $8 trillion. Today, the top five percent have net worth of $40 trillion. The top five percent have gained more wealth (in 25 years) than the whole human race had created prior to 1980." That's a quote from David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director, in 2010.

Please remind the Congressman for me that we do NOT have a SPENDING problem in this country; we have a REVENUE problem. We have a revenue problem because of George W. Bush's two wars and tax cuts for the afore-mentioned wealthiest Americans, and because W's buddies on Wall Street wrecked the economy before he could leave office in the fall of 2008.

And please ask Congressman Culberson, respectfully, to stand down; move out of the way and let the grownups raise the debt ceiling. And then a discussion about solving the budget deficit created by Bush can take place, separately from that. The President has indicated his willingness to have that conversation and make that deal.

Ask Congressman Culberson for me to please STOP holding the full faith and credit of the United States government hostage to his extreme partisan agenda.

She was very pleasant and polite and actually let me say all of that.

One more thing: as a result of 2012 redistricting I will be represented by Sheila Jackson Lee. Really, that's a blessing from the Invisible Man in the Clouds, also known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Update: activists went to Culberson's office Wednesday for a noon meeting, and here's the report on that.

About fourteen of us met with several press people outside the building at 11:45. Channel 2, Fox News, and an “independent news photographer” were there. Mary Schultz read her prepared letter which the whole group had signed. We then went up to the office, where we all were greeted quite politely and brought into the conference room, which we filled. Members of the group, which included Jerry Wald and Charlie Mauch of the Houston Peace and Justice Center, were articulate and well-informed and our discussion lasted about an hour. However, Culberson’s chief of staff made it quite clear that Culberson was totally unyielding about raising any taxes on corporations or the wealthy. Their main reason: the corporations might move ALL of the jobs overseas. ... Another very important thing he told us –- their office has received many, many phone calls telling them NO TAXES, but they don’t hear from our side.

Oh he hears. He just doesn't listen. Here's the appropriate response to "the corporations might move all the jobs overseas":

Henry Ford, one of this nation's most successful businessmen, saw the value of paying well-above-prevailing-scale wages to his employees. It reduced turnover and absenteeism and made his company a model corporate citizen for its time. One of the "family values" we have lost in this country includes our corporations treating all of their people -- not just the executives -- like members of its family. Perhaps Congressman Culberson could use his influence with business leaders to remind them of Henry Ford's words:

"There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."

A far cry from exporting jobs overseas, to be certain.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Weekly Wrangle

The thoughts and prayers of the Texas Progressive Alliance are with the people of Norway as we bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff has an update on redistricting litigation that's being filed.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the Lite Gov.'s latest move: Dewhurst announces for Senate, commits to gutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

A couple of Republican bloggers thought they were breaking news with murmurings of a Texas Senate Demoratic primary challenge by Sylvia Garcia to Mario Gallegos. By the end of the day the senator, the former county commissioner, and their shared political consultant shot the rumor down in flames. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reminds you why you just shouldn't believe anything posted on conservative blogs.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos takes a shot at connecting some sad dots in Republican Lies, their connection to our looming doctor shortage and corporate power. It turns out that making public policy by using the repeated Big Lie will come back to bite you in the ass after all.

Neil at Texas Liberal has begun to read Rick Perry's book "Fed Up!" Neil is finding this great work to be very enjoyable so far.

At WhosPlayin, Regina responds to all those forwarded emails, and gives a dozen good reasons why she can't support Rick Perry for President.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cenk Uygur explains why he parted company with MSNBC

Link this video to the definition of integrity in the dictionary.

Speaking on his "Young Turks" show, Uygur said that, though the ratings for his show had been satisfying MSNBC executives, his "tone" had not. According to his version of events, his departure from the network was the culmination of a lengthy struggle with MSNBC management who wanted him to be more buttoned down.

Uygur said that, in April, MSNBC president Phil Griffin called him in for a talk. Griffin allegedly told him that "people in Washington" were concerned with his tone on the show.

"'Outsiders are cool, but we're the establishment,'" Griffin said, according to Uygur, who said he was also told to book more Republicans on the show. He claimed to have been stunned by the conversation, and said he ignored Griffin's advice.

Though his ratings increased, Uygur said that, a couple of weeks ago, he was informed that he would not be getting the permanent slot at 6 PM, but was instead offered a smaller contributor role for twice the salary. He said he turned it down because, in his words, he did not want to work at a place "that didn't want to challenge power."

See you on Current, Cenk.

Update: More Cenk, from the Sunday 7/24 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources ...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sylvia Garcia v. Mario Gallegos

It doesn't quite crackle like Castro versus Doggett, but it would be a significant development all the same. Republican handicapper Robert Miller:

Former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia is quietly mulling whether to run against Sen. Mario Gallegos, although no decision has been made or is necessarily imminent. Garcia reported $751,601 cash on hand as of June 30; Gallegos reported $71,190 cash on hand. They both use Robert Jara as their consultant, so it will be interesting to watch this unfold.

Mike Hailey's Capitol Inside scored Jara's Campaign Strategies Inc. as the most influential Democratic political consultant in the state in 2008. (2010? Not so much.) Jara was also the fellow who drew the 2011 Houston city council map for district J, an Hispanic pickup opportunity district. And speaking of Hailey and CI (subs. req.) with respect to Gallegos and Garcia ...

Two longtime friends and allies could become adversaries if former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia decides to challenge State Senator Mario Gallegos in the Democratic primary election in 2012.

Garcia - the first woman ever elected to the commissioners court in the state's largest county - has been weighing a possible bid for the Texas Senate but keeping the deliberations under wraps on what could turn out to be a very touchy subject in Hispanic political circles from Houston to Austin.

While Senate incumbents are usually big favorites in re-election campaigns, Garcia has the potential to be Gallegos' worst nightmare from a political perspective if she runs against him in next year's primary.

Garcia and Gallegos have been two of the most prominent forces in Latino politics in the state's largest metropolitan area for much of the past two decades. They've also been good friends as evidenced when the veteran legislator was sworn in by Garcia as "governor for the day" in 2007 when Gallegos had been serving as Senate pro tem.

And there's that troublesome money race mentioned again, the one that Sylvia leads 10-1.

Garcia would arguably be the toughest foe that Gallegos has faced at the polls in a 20-year legislative career. Garcia would not only match the incumbent in name ID, she'd enter a primary fight with a substantial edge in funding. The ex-commissioner had a $750,000 surplus in her campaign account at the end of last month while Gallegos reported cash on hand of $72,000 on June 30 - the lowest amount for a state senator in Texas.

My opinion? Best of good health in your retirement, Mario.

Update: Dan McClung, Jara's partner at Campaign Strategies, issued the following denial this afternoon.

Senator Mario Gallegos and former Commissioner Sylvia Garcia are longtime friends and strong political allies. They are also both decades-long clients and friends of this firm, and as its Senior Partner, I have spoken with both this morning and each has asked me to say to you and others that a race between them is not a possibility.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates Japan for its hard-earned victory in the women's World Cup championship as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff wonders how big the next state deficit will be. Because we're surely going to have one.

McBlogger takes a look at the Republicans' most recent effort to give us RyanFraud.

As rumors of a Rick Perry presidential bid grow stronger, brace yourself for the Perry propaganda. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme has officially warned you.

With Ron Paul's declination to run again for Congress, a muddy scrum broke out for the vacancy he leaves in CD-14. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collects the names of some of the rumored entrants.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shows us that the GOP's governing scheme continues: preach fiscal conservatism all the while running up debt to historic levels. Texas' debt has exploded under Perry.

Neil at Texas Liberal notes that Republican Texas Agriculture Commissioner and lt. governor wannabe Todd Staples loves federal money. Neil also observed that Texas counties that voted strongly Republican in 2010 also love federal money.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On loyalty

Greg and I are having a little digression about who's better and who's worse than whom when it comes to God in a prior post. Matt's chiming in. I wrote the following elsewhere this morning, inspired by the photo there, and thought I'd bring it back over here and expand on it some.

Loyalty -- patriotism and pride and its other synonyms -- and the corresponding boost it gives to one's self-respect is inculcated from early age, certainly in the US, perhaps in other countries. The first complete sentence most of us learn as children is the Pledge of Allegiance, because we recited it each morning from first grade (kindergarten?) forward. "Be true to your school". "Texas Pride" (there used to be a beer named this). Lee Greenwood's song.

There once was a distinct separation of Godliness from patriotism in American public schools; there was when I came through, anyway. Yes, the Pledge added "under God" in 1954 and that development was about ten years old when I began school, but the first time I can recall the two intersecting -- 'colliding' is probably better -- was when I caught myself staring at two Jehovah's Witnesses in my (new school to me) third grade class who stayed in their seats for the Pledge. But today loyalty is increasingly intertwined with religiosity in American public life.

It may be the seed that grows into the conservative notion of American exceptionalism. "God Bless America" in the seventh inning stretch of MLB games now gets the same treatment as the National Anthem: players, umpires, fans remove caps, stand at attention, place hands over hearts. Football players point at the sky after scoring touchdowns, baseball players regularly thank God for their home run right off the bat (pun) in postgame interviews, nearly every public gathering of any kind opens with the Pledge or a prayer or both.

This sort of public, prominent  demonstration of the depth of one's faith used to be met with mild scorn. "Jesus freaks", they were called. Today that gets met with an aggressive victimology by Christians. "How dare these Godless heathens criticize our right to pray in public?!"

A much more unfortunate development is the advance of Christianism into the political realm. Our most recent example is, of course, Rick Perry's "Response". A sitting governor organizes a prayer event in a football stadium ... and oddly chooses to exclude from it religions that aren't Christian, that did not immigrate to North America with Caucasians.

And it is increasingly part of the premise that not comporting oneself in this new tradition leaves one open to be criticized as disloyal -- unpatriotic, un-American, anti-American. Dare not even suggest that this trend might be inappropriate for the health of our republican democracy.

I'd rather write more exclusively about politics but for a moment it'll be about my religious experience growing up, so my own motivations might be better understood..

The concept of one Christian denomination being better than another was also introduced to me early on, in my father's failed attempts to indoctrinate me into his Church of Christ. The preachers (they never called them pastors) and the church elders and deacons regularly assailed the Catholic church for its false god, the Baptists and the Methodists for using musical accompaniment, and the Pentecostals and Jehovahs for just being plain crazy. I was as appalled at this behavior as I was at the notion that there was an invisible man in the clouds who could see everything I had ever done, hear and remember everything I ever said, kept a ledger of it all and was prepared at any moment to pass judgment on me with it (along with everybody else in the world).

You know, when you're a 'tween and you're trying to get your rocks off and that idea suddenly enters your head, it's over. (But I never was much for guilt either. No percentage in it for me.) When I got older and thought this out a bit more, one of the conclusions I reached was that there must be a real backlog of cases in that courtroom.

Everybody has probably had, at least once, a tyrant for a boss in their working life -- the closest equivalent to a vengeful, vindictive God, perhaps -- but to choose to live at the tip of that spear for the entirety of one's life on Earth? Under pain of eternal Hell?  Seems like a pretty miserable existence. I always felt a little better about the red print in the New Testament, and the words of Mohandas Gandhi: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

There are a couple of movies which come pretty close to inspiring my current ideas about religion: Defending Your Life, with Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, and Rip Torn; and Dogma with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and George Carlin as a pompous, publicity-seeking Catholic cardinal.

Anywho I need to get some semblance of work done this morning so I'm going to stop here and maybe pick it up again with an update to this or in the comments, depending on what reactions it draws.

Update: Ahh, just the reaction I was expecting. None.

Annie Savoy: I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex. ... I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The scrum over CD-14

With this week's news that Dr. No will focus exclusively on his 2012 bid for the White House, a Cat 5 hurricane of speculation has erupted around the matchups for another coveted open seat in the Texas delegation to the US House. (This one, CD-14, hugs the coastline along Brazoria, Galveston, and Jefferson counties. Remember that there are four new ones thanks to the Census, and Republicans are falling over themselves already for them.)

Greg got there first and with the numbers, then posited this:

Put together a candidate that can carry Jefferson, get 45% or more in Galveston, and carry the Dem parts of Brazoria … and you might have a shot. That appears to be the showing that Sam Houston had in the district – also running in a Presidential year, I might add.

But it’ll take some doing and a candidate who can raise money within federal guidelines (ie – $2,500 a clip) and fill a bank account with at least a couple of million bucks.

Dr. Richard Murray concurred.

"A strong Democrat deeply rooted in Jefferson County would have a chance," he said.

Kuffner thirded that as he collected some of the speculation, and more blognostications -- including my own elsewhere on the day the news broke -- popped up like 'shrooms in the cow pasture after a downpour, and with nearly the same psychotropic affect.

(This really is the best part of talking politics; the horse race aspect. Who's in? Who's out? Who's a maybe? Who's got the sand to get it done? Throw some shit up against the wall and see what sticks. I just wish we could gamble on political outcomes with odds like they do in the UK.)

My first handful was hurling Joe Deshotel's name. He shot himself down with a way-over-140-character Tweet, though (here it is, misspellings and all):

New Dist 14 is 55% Republican. If Ron Paul would have been the sure Republican Nominee. I could have beat him because of crossover vote in Jeff County. However I would have been a one termer once a traditional Republican became nominee next time around. So I had decided to stay put, if the good people of District will give me the honor again. I also think there is a significant democratic undercount in Galv County as people continue to move back after Hurrican IKE.

That's a most accurate point: the right Dem can probably win the seat in 2012, but will lose it again in 2014 when Democratic voters go back into hibernation during non-presidential election cycles.

That scenario* has already happened before to some guy named Lampson, in fact. So while Mayor Joe Jaworski and state representative Craig Eiland get honorable mentions, it's important to note that they have an uphill climb even in the best circumstances next year -- Democratic resurgence due to Teabagger overreach, lengthy Obama coattails, GOP disillusion over their presidential options. Jaworski and Eiland have low name recognition outside Galveston County, not much fundraising prowess, and of course the district still leans a little red.

Lampson has the Blue Dog bonafides (sadly, probably an asset here) for independent conservative/crossover appeal, a decade of Congressional experience in two different districts that lap over and around the redrawn 14th, and would likely be a DCCC darling again, as he was when he won CD-22 in 2006. He can win CD-14 in '12. But '14?

The Rethugs, meanwhile, are staging another TeaBagger convention over the vacancy. Larry "Surfer Dude" Taylor, chair of the Texas House GOP caucus - yeah, the same ones that devastated the entire state in the just-concluded legislative session -- has expressed rabid interest to Paul Burka.

The rest of the crowded Republican field looks more like a jailbreak. Harvey Kronberg reports that SREC member and attorney Michael Truncale of Beaumont has already formed an exploratory committee -- listing supporters that include state Sen. Tommy Williams, Democrat-turned-Republican state Rep. Allan Ritter, and former Beaumont-area state representative Mark Stiles, yet another one-time Democrat. In the '90's he was one of Speaker Pete Laney's top lieutenants in the Texas House, but today Stiles is known primarily as a man whose work in the Lege was rewarded by having a men's prison facility named after him. A facility that houses mostly HIV-positive incarcerated people.

The sick, sad irony of that is only exceeded by former Congressman Steve Stockman -- best known for holding Lampson's spot in the old CD-9 while ending the political career of the legendary Jack Brooks --  throwing his feces at the sheetrock hat into the ring. From Stockman's Wikipedia entry:

In June 1996, Stockman and his campaign alleged that Houston Press reporter Tim Fleck trespassed in Stockman's campaign headquarters, which was also his home, and terrorized his wife. Fleck countered with a lawsuit alleging libel and slander. Both the charges and lawsuit were later dropped.[1][2]

On April 19, 1995, Stockman's office received a fax "at about the same time" touting the bombing in Oklahoma City, which was initially discarded. Stockman later turned that fax over to the FBI.[3] Following false news reports that the fax had been sent in advance,[4] federal officials later determined the fax was sent about 50 minutes after the bombing.[5] He was never implicated in any way in the bombing itself, but his critics said the reason that the militia movement trusted him was due to an article in Guns and Ammo Magazine proclaiming that the Waco Siege was a government conspiracy to “prove the need for a ban on so called assault weapons”.[6]

You just canNOT make this up. Stockman was batshit crazy before BSC renamed itself the Tea Party.

*Well, kinda. Lampson won in an off-presidential year with Republicans in CD-22 in complete and total disarray (Tom Delay's resignation/voter registration fuck-up, Shelley "Dracula Cunt" Sekula-Gibbs' short tenure) and then lost it back to Pete Olson in Obama's '08.

Atheists sue Rick Perry over "The Response"

Pastafarians are encouraged to congregate at the Olive Garden of their choosing -- there's one near Reliant Stadium -- and worship in their normal fashion.

A group that has already criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his involvement with a Christian prayer rally scheduled for Reliant Stadium next month went a step further Wednesday and filed a federal lawsuit in Houston to stop him from promoting it.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims Perry's association with the "The Response: A Call to Prayer for a National in Crisis" breaches the separation of church and state.

The complaint, filed in the Southern District on behalf of five named individuals who live in Houston, notes the plaintiffs are "nonbelievers who support the free exercise of religion, but strongly oppose the governmental establishment and endorsement of religion ...."

The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring Perry's official involvement. A Perry spokesman said he won't back away from the event.

"Gov. Perry believes the prayer event will serve as an opportunity for Americans to pray together for our nation," said spokesman Mark Miner. "This lawsuit does not affect plans for the event, and it will proceed as scheduled."

Last month, Perry proclaimed Aug. 6 as a day of prayer and fasting and invited fellow governors and citizens to join him for "The Response," which his office called "a nondenominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting."

IANAL, but I believe the Freedom from Religion Foundation's lawsuit has no merit from the standpoint of the conflation of church and state argument.

My point would instead be that the irony of 'nondenominational' and 'Christian' in the same sentence describing the event seems lost on the organizers. One of many ironies, of course.

Here's another one: what do you suppose would be the response -- from just Christians, mind you -- if this event was organized not by the American Family Association but by an association of devout Muslims, or Buddhists or Hindus or Sikhs? Besides the governor of Texas not attending it, that is?

I considered opening a chicken-fried-steak-on-a-stick stand along Kirby near the entrance to the stadium, but am choosing instead to attend a simultaneous event (Day of Debauchery and Gluttony) in response to the "Day of Prayer and Fasting".

You are all welcome to worship or not, as always and forever, in your own humble way.

Update: Specifically directed at Greg, who manages to harangue this blog every couple of days.

Governor Perry is using Texas money, the Texas Seal, his government website and government time to promote the American Family Association's extremely intolerant agenda. Is the AFA really a Christian organization with a track record like this?

True Christians would -- and should -- reject and denounce them, and Rick Perry's involvement with them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Give peas a chance, conservatives.

On August 2nd, the United States does not have to default. If Obama continues to authorize payment of obligations under interpretation of the 14th Amendment (Section 4), in order to stop that action Republicans must appeal to the Supreme Court ... essentially to force the US government into default. Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts might be willing to go there, but not Anthony Kennedy. Former Republican Andrew Sullivan:

It's a stretch, though kind of fun, to imagine Congress going to court to force the country to default on its statutory obligations -- to bondholders, to seniors, to whomever. Kind of like suing yourself for going off your diet. It's even more of a stretch to imagine the Supreme Court ordering the country into default, over the President's determination that doing so would profoundly damage the country's interests. Not likely. Almost certainly, the Court would find some other, more reasonable way to square conflicting laws. There are many ways to do it short of creating a national (international?) emergency.

So, if I'm President Obama, and I'm really up against it... no, I don't default. I say, "Sue me."

Wow. How humiliated will the GOP feel if that happens? Unlike the Japanese, there's no way for us to allow them to save face.

Do you think Boehner and McConnell will be relieved of their command and replaced with Can'tor and ... I don't know, some other TeaBagging lunatic Senator? Cornyn? Kyl?

They had the grandest of bargains on the table and they walked away from it, apparently under the mistaken belief that they could do better. It's almost like Obama knew they wouldn't take it. Where do they go from here?

I almost -- not quite, but almost -- feel sorry for them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat your peas."

"And stop your baby whining."

Personally I'm a fan of "Don't make me spank you," and an even bigger fan of "This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you," and "Bend over and take your medicine".

The last time Obama told Republicans to grow up, he got the following response from the Pride of Texas, John Cornyn. Our senator's little pussy outburst made Cenk Uygur's Con Job of the Day.

I can't wait to see Cornyn's head explode again.

Update: Mitch McConnell blinks -- and gets reamed for it -- and frequent freak-right commenter Greg throws his own temper tantrum (in the comments).

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance salutes the US Women's National soccer team on their astounding victory yesterday and in their continuing quest for the World Cup championship as it brings you this week's roundup.

Refinish69 at Doing My Part for the Left has a Texas Update! We Are In A Severe Drought Situation! ACT LIKE IT STUPID! He also has a message for the young people out there: It does get better.

Lightseeker takes us on a quick tour of the Rick Perry religious manipulation tactics over the last 10 years to make a point: when you discuss his upcoming prayer summit, don't fall into the trap of yelling "church and state", at least not only and not first. Check it out at Texas Kaos: Talking Back to Perry's Prayer Summit.

Bay Area Houston has the scoop on the ground rules for Rick Perry's "The Response".

The Three Stooges -- Susan Combs, Todd Staples, and Jerry Patterson -- staged an eye-poking, face-slapping, hair-pulling pie fight as the Battle for Texas Lieutenant Governor in 2014 broke out early. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports from the front lines.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson tells us that as long as the same people keep showing up to vote, nothing is going to change: The electorate must change before change can come to Texas.

Off the Kuff looks at the opening arguments of the lawsuit over the sonogram bill, which didn't go in the direction people expected.

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy returns after taking a hiatus from blogging to take a look at Governor Rick Perry's far right radical social conservative appointment to the Texas State Board of Education.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about two books of the New Deal era in Texas art that show Texans working together and respecting the land. This stands in sharp contrast to the current reality where greed, anger at people who are different, and exploiting public resources with no concern for the future are the order of the day. There are resources out there -- in addition to your imagination and hard work -- that offer Texans a path to a more hopeful way of everyday living.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know why Bexar County DA Susan Reed didn't get any grief over denying a Mexican national consulate support in a death penalty case.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Shuttle still on track for 10:26 CT liftoff

Eric Berger, the incredibly talented and intelligent Sci-Guy from the HouChron, is live-blogging the preamble of events leading up to today's beginning of the shuttle missions' end.

Weather conditions at 8:37 are "no go" due to clouds and low visibility.

Update (about 10:30 a.m.): And we're off.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Obama v. Rick Perry

In a preliminary face-off, with a life at stake.

President Obama is asking the Supreme Court to stay tomorrow's planned execution of a Mexican citizen in Texas, arguing it could do "irreparable harm" to U.S. interests abroad.

In 1994, Humberto Leal Garcia Jr. was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death. Few doubt that he's guilty of the crime, but an omission in the handling of his case may make things tough for American citizens arrested abroad: Leal wasn't told that he could contact the Mexican Consulate.

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a treaty that includes 170 countries, says a foreigner who is arrested must be allowed access to her home country's consulate. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that U.S. states' sentencing of 54 Mexican citizens to death without allowing them to contact the Mexican Consulate was a violation of the treaty. Then-president George W. Bush ordered Texas to review its policies, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that neither Texas nor any U.S. state could be held to an international treaty unless Congress passed a law binding them to it.

Now, President Obama is asking the Supreme Court to stay the execution until Congress passes such legislation, which was recently introduced in the Senate. The administration says the execution would do "irreparable harm" to U.S. interests abroad.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has rejected requests from the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, diplomats, judges, former President George W. Bush, retired military officials and now, the Obama administration, to stay the execution. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected the request for a stay yesterday, though Perry could still grant a 30-day delay. After the Supreme Court ruled in its favor, the state put to death another Mexican national who had not been informed of his right to access his consulate three years ago. The state argues that Leal was not in custody when he incriminated himself, so the Vienna Convention obligations were not relevant.

But observers worry that foreign countries will be less willing to grant the thousands of U.S. citizens who are arrested abroad each year consular access if Leal is put to death.

"As retired military leaders, we understand that the preservation of consular access protections is especially important for US military personnel, who when serving our country overseas are at greater risk of being arrested by a foreign government," wrote Rear Admiral Don Guter, USN, Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, USN, and Brigadier General James P. Cullen, USA in a letter to Perry.

Journalist Euna Lee, who was detained in North Korea in 2009, wrote in The Washington Post that even that rogue nation granted her access to a Swedish diplomat who was representing U.S. consular interests after she was arrested. "We ask the world to treat our citizens with respect when they are detained in other countries, including honoring their right to consular access. It is a two-way street," she wrote. The Atlantic's Nicole Allen points out that even Iran gave brief consular access to the American hikers still in custody in that country on suspicion of spy activity.

So even Iran and North Korea treat "illegals" more fairly than Texas. What a great place to be. Here's the moneyshot, emphasis mine, from The Atlantic article:

Texas's commitment to its sentencing, meanwhile, signals the fundamental distaste many Americans seem to feel for international governance. Last year's Tea Party wave ushered in a series of state legislature attempts to ban the application of foreign legal codes and international mandates in U.S. courts. Though most of these measures did not pass, they provided a rallying point in many conservative circles. As Governor Perry contemplates a run for the Republican presidential nomination, a high-profile rejection of the international community and the Obama administration may be one of his most powerful assets.

Do you think the SCOTUS will do what Rick Perry refuses to do (so far)? Once again, I am not holding my breath.


The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a bid by the Obama administration to spare the life of a Mexican national set for execution for the 1994 rape-murder of a San Antonio teenager. Humberto Leal Garcia Jr., 38, is to be was put to death at 6 p.m. today.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Staples, Patterson pile on Combs

It's Republican-on-Republican battery as these morons jockey for the lieutenant governorship three years from now.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson are quick to slam Comptroller Susan Combs' widely criticized handling of a data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of Texans — a misstep that's marred her image as the one to beat if she runs for lieutenant governor in 2014.

They're also quick to cite another potential problem if she enters the GOP primary for the seat now held by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who may run for U.S. Senate. Why, Staples asked in a statement, "after two decades in politics, has Combs suddenly switched from pro-choice to a pro-life position on abortion? Switching political philosophy solely for political gain is not committed conservatism, it's opportunistic."

Abortion is still a federally granted right, but Teabaggers throughout the nation are waging war on women through their headlong rush to restrict reproductive choice by any means necessary. Texas passed its sonogram bill into law, and it has already drawn its first lawsuit. Kansas is the latest and most restrictive (though a federal judge has at least temporarily blocked it from taking effect). Abortion is, in fact, only an issue when Republicans can use it to placate their evangelical Christian supporters.

So it makes sense -- only in the conservative hive mind, naturally --  that rather than keep the focus on Comb's obvious incompetence, Staples and Patterson are making their future primary battle a litmus test on who's farthest to the right on a hot-button social issue.

Patterson, asked about his abortion position, cited his pro-life credentials and added, "Todd and I have the same position. And Susan, I'm not sure what her position is this week." 

Patterson and Staples actually differ a bit. Patterson said he opposes abortion except when the mother's life is in danger. Staples believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned "and is pro-life with three narrowly defined exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother," according to his camp.

Combs consultant Reggie Bashur said, "Susan wants Roe v. Wade overturned. She thinks abortion has become a form of birth control and sex-selection. She is against abortion except in cases of life of the mother, rape and incest."

Compare that to her view as a state representative, as showcased in this paragraph in a 1995 Austin American-Statesman article (and yes, there's some irony in the first sentence, given the data breach): " 'I don't give my Social Security number to anybody,' said the 50-year-old Combs, explaining that the number can be used to obtain personal information. 'We are so casual about government intrusion in our lives. I'm pro-choice for the same reason.' "

A 2003 Associated Press story about Combs, then agriculture commissioner, said she "supports a woman's right to choose, with exceptions. She opposes 'partial-birth' abortions and third-trimester abortions and favors parental notification for minors seeking abortions."

It's like watching the Three Stooges poke, slap, pull hair and hit each other in the face with cream pies. Combs, Staples, and Patterson are all ridiculous, incompetent, and to varying degrees corrupt. In other words, the typical statewide Texas Republican elected official. If conservatives in Texas had any sense at all they would turn the whole lot of them out in 2014.

But I don't believe they do, or will.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fourth Funnies

Independence Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes the United States a happy 235th birthday as it brings you this holiday week roundup.

Off the Kuff took a look at changes in turnout in Congressional districts between 2006 and 2010.

After much chaos, the GOP-led Texas Lege finally adjourned this week. WCNews at Eye On Williamson says that what we got is what happens when fools rule.

How does "Tommy Lee Jones, United States Senator from Texas" sound? It's still a possibility, according to the recent news collected by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is already sick of Rick Perry's presidential run, what with the propaganda and a**hattery.

Neil at Texas Liberal noted that despite all the talk in Texas about how the federal government is bad, the state of Texas is taking disaster aid from Washington to help manage wildfires and drought.