Monday, February 27, 2006

MetroRail anagrams, FOX screenshots, and conservative idiots

Ethan has the Houston light rail train station names in anagram here. Boing Boing has dozens more cities treated similarly.

These FOX screenshots capture the majesty of their propaganda. The real outrage is that this is the most watched cable television "news" in the United States; 2-to-1 over CNN.

And the Top Ten Conservative Idiots once more features the President of the United States with this lede:

It's hard to believe that just one week after the vice president of the United States shot a man in the face, an even bigger story would come along. But here it is: last week the Bush administration approved the sale of the operations of twenty-one major American ports to Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

He's number one. He's number one...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Curt Gowdy, Don Knotts, and Darren McGavin

They say they come in threes; these television icons -- to me -- all passed away this past week.

I remember Curt Gowdy from the Game of the Week broadcasts in the '60s. This was the only baseball you could find to watch at the time. About the same time I was becoming a Astros fan and listening to Gene Elston (congratulations to him on receiving the Ford Frick award this week) and Loel Passe ("breezed 'im one mo' time") on the radio, I was watching Gowdy and Tony Kubek on the tube. He also did the World Series as well as some of the first Super Bowl telecasts. The ones I clearly recall were III -- which was the seminal moment for Joe Willie Namath and the AFL -- and V, which was the first one the Dallas Cowboys played in (they lost, on a last-second field goal to the Colts, which nearly made me kick in the screen). Gowdy was just as famous for being a Red Sox broadcaster and for The American Sportsman, but to me he'll always be baseball on Saturday afternoons.

Speaking of firsts, the first thing my family ever saw on our new console color television was Don Knotts and "The Incredible Mr. Limpet". I believe it must have been 1965, since the movie premiered in '64.

And if you watch the Sci-Fi Channel you can still catch episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which made McGavin famous to me long before A Christmas Story, the "major award", and "you'll shoot your eye out". Those old Night Stalkers look awfully cheesy now, but at the time I was just short of terrified once a week by them.

RIP to three good men.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Moneyshot Quotes: Conservatives ready to cut and run from Iraq, port storm rages, and Jeff Bagwell arrives in Florida

Rush Limbaugh says we can't win (.mp3), Bill O'Reilly says we need to "hand everything over to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible", and Wiiliam F. Buckley says we must "acknowledge defeat".

This is what Howard Dean was saying months ago, wasn't it? Yet he was vilified.

The Port Storm isn't subsiding. Bush digs in his heels, and the Republicans prepare to throw him, and the deal with Dubai, over the side. Since we're assembling Moneyshot Quotes, here's two more:

Thomas Kean, head of the 9/11 Commission:

"It shouldn't have happened, it never should have happened," Kean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better, he said. "There's no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there," Kean said.

President Bush, making sense for once:

"This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America."

And finally, unrelated to any of the preceding, Jeff Bagwell had this to say about his disagreement with Astros management over whether he can still play:

"I understand the business side of baseball. If I cannot play baseball this year, and I am physically unable to play with the Houston Astros, trust me, I want them to collect as much insurance as possible. I'll write the letter. That's not an issue for me. But I just want the chance to see if I can play."

My one editorial comment for the day: Bagwell is the best player the Houston Astros have ever had, and I sincerely hope Drayton McLane won't piss in his brain again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Meet fifty Texas Democratic candidates at once

The Harris County Democratic Party and more than 20 social clubs are joining together for a Primary Kickoff and Roundup Rally in Houston on Saturday, February 25. The event will showcase the party's candidates just before the primary elections.

Among the speakers will be Chris Bell, Bob Gammage, Barbara Radnofsky, and David Van Os, and there will be over fifty other candidates for federal, state, and county offices in attendance. You'll have the opportunity to meet them all.

It's at Drexler's Barbecue in downtown Houston from 5-8 pm and is sponsored by the following:

* 1960 Democrats
* I-10 East Democrats
* Area 5 Democrats
* Battleground Democrats
* Bay Area New Democrats (BAND)
* Bellaire Democrats
* Braeswood Democrats
* Democracy for Houston
* Fort Bend Area Democrats
* Greater Heights Democratic Club
* Harris County Democrats
* Harris County Democratic Party
* Harris County Young Democrats
* Katy Area New Democratic Organization (KANDO)
* Kingwood Democrats
* Meyerland Democrats
* Northwest Crossing Area Democrats
* Oil Patch Democrats
* River Oaks Area Democratic Women
* San Jacinto Democratic Veterans Brigade
* Sharpstown Democrats
* Texas Progressive Populist Caucus
* West Houston Democratic Club
* West University Area Democratic Club

The cost is $5.00 and recommendations are highly recommended.
RSVP to kellen dot wilson at sbcglobal dot net .

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Skilling and Lay get thrown under the bus again

This week it was the former managing director of investor relations and corporate secretary:

The spotlight was largely on former Enron Chairman Ken Lay today as a former company executive accused him of repeatedly misrepresenting the company's financial health to investors, analysts and even employees.

Paula Rieker ... told jurors that in one case she even corrected Lay and he still continued to misrepresent the truth about Enron's retail business. ...

"I told Mr. Lay a significant amount of the earnings came from the sale of stock by Enron Energy Services and not from core activities," Rieker said, meaning it was one-time revenue that did not indicate EES was strong. She said Lay did not change his pitch. ...

She said she was "very bothered" by the company decision to continue to make EES look like a growth story in 2001 by shifting its losses to the more profitable trading division. She said when she complained, her boss (Mark) Koenig (who has previously testified for the prosecution) said "'You may not agree with it, but your job is to deliver the company message.'"

Rieker said she saw Lay mislead analysts by pretending not to know the name of the financial deal called Raptor that was unwound at a $1 billion hit to shareholders equity. She said Lay also misled analysts about why the company stopped charting the future contract value of the retail division.


One of the most dramatic moments of the day may have been one of the least significant legally.

Lay isn't charged with insider trading or with stealing from the company as it went into its death spiral. But prosecutor (John) Hueston showed a timeline including troubles at Enron in October and November 2001 that contrasted the company's ills with Lay's drawing millions out in cash.

While the timeline focused on things like the pension plan closing to employees who wanted to move stock, the cancellation of the holiday party, the failure of the Dynegy merger, it also showed Lay withdrawing $1 million here or $2.5 million there in cash from a revolving loan account with the company approved by the board in better times.

Lay withdrew $1 million the day the Dynegy deal died, which was the last hope of keeping Enron out of bankruptcy court. Lay's lawyer Bruce Collins asked Rieker on cross-examination if that amount wasn't just a drop in the bucket when hundreds of millions of dollars were being called in by Enron creditors at the same time but she said "No sir."

Rieker recalled for jurors how in February 2002 the board of directors was presented with a report that included Lay's stock sales for 2001, the year the company came apart.

"I learned that Mr. Lay had been selling stock back to the company in return for cash in excess of $70 million," she said. When Hueston asked about how the board of directors reacted, Lay's lawyer objected several times.

"They were outraged," Rieker finally answered.

Asked if she could recall what any specific board member reaction, Rieker said, "John Duncan exclaimed that 'Mr. Lay was using Enron as a damn ATM machine.'" By the time Rieker repeated that, because of an objection in mid-sentence, it appeared every juror was taking notes.

Rieker also bolstered some of the testimony given by Koenig about Skilling's involvement in altering earnings reports before they were made public.

She said she understood that in January 2000 and again July 2000 that Skilling ordered that earnings per share be increased. In January, she said it was done virtually overnight when they realized analysts were estimating earnings at 31 cents, rather than the 30 cents Enron almost reported.

In July 2000, she said, her boss told her Skilling ordered the earnings be raised a couple cents over the 32 cents they had planned. She said analysts and investors were told it was strong underlying performance that caused the hike to 34 cents.

The truth, she said, "would have really hurt the credibility of Enron and it would have hurt the stock price."

I took a bit more than the usual liberty with that excerpt because it reflects so clearly the simply bottomless hubris of Kenny and Jeffrey. Besides the usual "what made these men think they could get away with this" has to be "what did they think their former underlings were going to say once they had made a plea deal with the Feds"?

It's really too bad they can't get life in prison, isn't it ?

(I'm not a death penalty advocate.)

What it will be like ordering a pizza in 2010

Click here and turn your speakers up (it's work-safe).

Primary Endorsements

Vince Leibowitz and Charles Kuffner and Greg Wythe and Eddie Rodriguez have posted theirs; mine follow (in the contested races) :

US Senate -- Barbara Ann Radnofsky

Governor -- Chris Bell

Lt. Governor -- Ben Z Grant

Agriculture Commissioner -- Hank Gilbert

US Congress, 1st -- no preference

US Congress, 7th -- Jim Henley and David Murff both earn my endorsement. The constituents of the Seventh Congressional District would be well served by either man.

US Congress, 10th -- Ted Ankrum

US Congress, 28th -- Ciro Rodriguez

Texas House, District 140 -- no preference

Texas House, District 146: Borris Miles

Texas House, District 147 -- Garnet Coleman

And it's not a contested primary, but you all ought to know who I support for Texas Attorney General by now. I'll add links to other blogland endorsements as I find them, and if anyone wants me to explain my picks, ask me in the comments.

Update: Stace Medellin adds his dos centavos. Nate chimes in. LFT and Cincinnatus have some pointed remarks on the governor's race, from opposite perspectives.

Update: I really should revise my "no preference' in CD-01 to recommend whom you should not vote for, and that is Roger Owen. He is apparently an unmitigated homophobe and more than a little flaky, and isn't worthy of support.

Update (2/22): Abram gets up on his soapbox. Fred injects the truth serum. Just Another Matt gives us his.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pot Luck (contains no gamebird)

I'm going to mosh a few random unconnected items together into a sheperd's-pie of a post:

-- NBA All-Star-weekend in Houston concludes with the basketball game this evening, and the bacchanalia got so out of control around the Galleria yesterday that HPD closed several exits on the 610 Loop and likewise blocked cars from entering at-capacity parking garages until the revelers unclotted.

"The revelers" is probably an understatement. This was entourages in fleets of stretch limos gridlocking intersections at every single restaurant, club, luxury high-rise condo and entrance to Neiman Marcus.

At three o'clock in the afternoon, and lasting deep into the evening.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the two Houston Chronicle reporters on this story -- fresh off the debutante beat -- also implicate marauding President's Day shoppers in the traffic jam.)

-- Mardi Gras is a bit of a letdown this year, both in N'Awlins and in Galveston (there because of the Crescent City's downsizing, here because of unusually cold weather for February).

-- Dick Cheney's gunshot victim, upon release from the Corpus Christi hospital where he spent the past week, apologized for all the trouble he's caused the Vice President. The birdshot pellets lodged in Harry Whittington's heart and liver, each through their representatives, also issued statements of regret for the incident.

In other news, asbestosis victims offered Halliburton a heartfelt mea culpa for breathing on the job.

-- Early voting in Texas begins tomorrow and continues (almost) all the way to March 7. A spirited Democratic primary up and down ballot features several contested races, the most focus being on the two candidates for Governor, Chris Bell and Bob Gammage. Latest poll numbers here. If there happens to be a runoff -- incumbent Republican Rick MoFo'n Goodhair has a handful of erstwhile challengers, including this kook from his right (go look; he's got a picture of a bloody baby on the home page) -- then the Kinkster and Grandma (pronounced 'Gran-Maw') have to wait another thirty days before collecting signatures.

Regarding the Dems, the Chronic snorts itself awake for a moment, then rolls over and snores loudly.

-- Cindy Sheehan will have a tea party for Barbara Bush -- the GranMaw, not the hottie -- here in Houston tomorrow also.

Update (2/21): More on the Galleria shopping orgy here. Untold by the Chronic in any report were the rumors of shopping mall security squaring off on limosine drivers refusing to move, steadfastly unwilling to inconvenience their VIPs. Police had to intervene (allegedly). And Lyn has pictures of Cindty Sheehan in Babs Bush's backyard yesterday.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

On replacing Cheney with Condi

I've been thinking this same thing for quite awhile now, and Burt Levine beat me to the pixels with it (FWIW, Burt is a local Republican who has the ability to find common ground with Democrats. This came in an e-mail and I may be able to add a link to the entire piece in an update) :

I suspect what they're thinking and not saying is, If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president? They're thinking, At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, "Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?" Why would they be thinking about this? It's not the shooting incident itself, it's that Dick Cheney has been the administration's hate magnet for five years now. Halliburton, energy meetings, Libby, Plamegate.


Cheney has always said he has no aim to run. Bush may feel in time that he has reason to want to put in a new vice president in order to pick a successor who'll presumably have an edge in the primaries--he's the sitting vice president, and Republicans still respect primogeniture. They will tend to make the common-sense assumption that a man or woman who's been vice president for, say, a year and a half, is a man or woman who already knows the top job. Every president since 1960 has been a governor or vice president. Currently the Republican Governor of California is ineliigible because he is not a born American, the Republican Governor of Texas would be two Texans in a row and the Republican Governor of Florida is too liberal to win the nomination from the southern conservatives that choose the nominee and the Republican Governor of Florida would be two Bushes in a row and America is a republic, not a royalty run nation.

Anyway, the new man or woman will get a honeymoon, which means he won't be fully hated by the time the 2008 primaries begin.

This new vice president would, however, have to be very popular in the party, or the party wouldn't buy it. Replacing Cheney would be chancy. The new veep would have to get through the Senate, which has at this point at least three likely contenders for the nomination, at least two of whom who would not, presumably, be amused. The current secretary of state has succeeded through two senate confirmations already.

People wouldn't like it . . . unless they liked it. How could they be persuaded to like it?

It would have to be a man or woman wildly popular in the party and the press. And it would have to be a decision made by Dick Cheney. If he didn't want to do it he wouldn't have to. If he were pressed--Dick, we gotta pull your plug or we're going to lose in '08 and see all our efforts undone--he might make the decision himself. He'd have to step down on his own. He's just been through a trauma, and he can't be liking his job as much now as he did three years ago. No one on the downside of a second term does, hate magnet or not.

I've thought for what seems like a long time that Dick would have another heart attack -- rather than give them to his friends -- and fade to black (figuratively speaking), paving the way for The Chosen One, 2008. John McCain has been sucking up to Bush since 2004 and badly wants the Pope's blessing, but he won't get it for two reasons: One, the fundies can't abide him, and two, the governor of Arizona is a Democrat.

So my hunch is that if Condi moves up, you could see an independent McCain run for the White House in 2008 -- a scenario not altogether dissimilar from our gubernatorial contest here in Deep-In-The-Hearta this year.

No hunches from here yet on our 2008 candidate, the above scenario notwithstanding.

Update: Burt e-mails me to say that he got the idea from this RCP posting, which was inspired by the indomitable Peggy Noonan and also Tony Blankley. Burt, you gotta start hangin' out with a better crowd. And congratulations on your new gig with Councilman MJ Khan (the city of Houston's first Muslim-American council member now has a Jewish staffer. How about that.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Six Degrees of Dick and Whit (includes LBJ and both Bushes)

NoItAll, at ITPT:

Katharine Armstrong was appointed to the TPW Board by George Bush, who appointed Dick Cheney to find him a Vice President. Katharine told Dick to go appoint himself. Bush said okay, since she owns the second or third largest private ranch in the U.S. – a ranch particulary owned by her distant cousin Rep. Kleberg, served ably by young staffer Lyndon B. Johnson, until the young LBJ got cozy with the Brown Brothers, who formed the precursor to Halliburton, which Dick Cheney ran for a while, until he appointed himself Vice President.

Today’s Austin American-Statesman quotes UT Board of Regents Chairman James Huffines, who was the Appointments Secretary during the second (Bill) Clements Administration. Who was Appointments Secretary in the first Clements Administration: Katharine’s dad Tobin Armstrong, who was married to former Ambassador to Great Britian Anne Armstrong, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, who chose President Bush’s dad (also named George Bush) to be his Vice President.

Yet the Bush, Brown, Armstrong, and Johnson families seem to have no relation to Kevin Bacon. Unless you believe White House Press Secretary Scott McClennan’s dad’s book published last year that LBJ killed JFK – while officing in the building owned by Harry Whittington.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney got a gun.

Whole world's come undone.

(Thanks to johntarheel76 in the comments at BOR for the Aerosmith riff.)

The primary wars are heating up also. Tim McCann with Chris Bell's campaign has responded to the near-constant online assault on their guy with this post on his blog. David Murff grew tired of taking potshots from Jim Henley and released this, which instantly drew more fire from Henley supporters.

Twenty-two days to Election Day, and everyone ought to buckle their chinstraps.

Update: Rico Politico went ahead and did the whole song.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Grammys last week were great

In fact, I had something less than halfway written and then I read Bartcop's take and decided I'd crib it:

Madonna opened the show and she never disappoints. She was all legs and she looked like a teenager up there.

U2 was next with Vertigo, and they always deliver.

Mary J. Blige came out and sang One, and this time, unlike New Orleans, she was free to bust loose and give us her version of the song. Nice.

Kelly Clarkson, and then Ellen introduced Paul McCartney with "This man doesn't need an introduction..." and walked off. Paul did some boring new song, then a blistering Helter Skelter, reminding us that he didn't stab anybody.

Mariah was next, and she was the first big highlight. She sang with more grit and emotion that I've seen from her before, and at the end she went up and hit those notes in that dogs-only area. Damn, can anybody else in the building do that? I don't think so...

Keith Urban and Faith Hill had to follow that -- too bad.

Worse yet was the tribute to Sly Stone. Too many people onstage, not enough hours of rehearsal -- it was a mess. Eventually Sly came out with his white mohawk, which was stunning, but either Sly doesn't sing anymore or they had a world of microphone problems.

I was hoping for a Thankyou Falettinme Be Mice elf, but no. Sly mumbled a few lines then waved goodbye to the crowd and left. The band looked at each other with an "I don't know" look on their faces.

Springsteen did Devils & Dust, like he'd made his own deal at the Crossroads. I kept hearing Dylan -- that's a compliment, Bruce. He closed with a terse "Bring 'em home," which left the censors unprepared to cut his message of peace.

Then Kanye reminded the crowd why the word "show" is in "show business." Golddigger was Shirley the most infectious song of this past year...

Herbie and Christina did Leon, and I said to Mrs. Bart, "Christina has more torch, but Mariah more range than Montana."

Winding down, they seemed to have a Richard Pryor tribute ready to roll, but maybe they were late because they just blew right past Richard. Seems like everybody forgot Richard. SNL could hardly be bothered, Dave was too busy, Leno did 30 seconds, but I guess Richard died when people were busy with other things -- that's sad.

Then they closed with the massive jam to New Orleans and Wilson Pickett.

Still, I thought it was a night of highlights. I was surprised. So often these shows can totally suck.

I thought Christina Aguilera and Herbie Hancock were a little better than Bart thinks, but other than that he's on the money. After Paul said, "This is my first Grammy performance, and I'd like to rock a little," and they lit into Helter Skelter, I was blown. All I could think of was that the song -- together with some '60's-strength LSD -- made Charlie Manson kill people, and how that old man McCartney could still go.

And the whole Sly and the Family Stone thing was just odd.

But I've made sure to catch the Grammys for the last several years because there's always some surprises and it usually knocks your socks off. This year was no exception.

Warning: not to be taken literally

On January 31, 2006, President Bush gave his State of the Union address, and among the issues he mentioned were America's "addiction" to oil. On February 1, 2006 -- less than 24 hours later -- two administration officials, the energy secretary and the national security advisor told us this was not to be taken literally, that these words were only meant to be spoken in terms which the American People could understand. Bush didn't really mean we had to break our oil addiction. It was just an "example", they said, but what they meant was that it was a metaphor, which Merriam Webster defines as 'an elaborate or fanciful way of expressing something <"it's raining cats and dogs" is just a colorful metaphor and not a meteorological announcement> -- see CONCEIT '. So apparently it was only a figure of speech; something between truth and untruth.

This past week Bush spoke in Los Angeles -- presumably to defend his domestic spying program -- and in it he disclosed for the first time a 2002 plot to fly a plane into a building in L.A. Indeed, the president went into more detail than has ever been usual regarding threats to The Homeland, and even told how the plot was thwarted. Almost immediately, the mayor of Los Angeles responded by saying he had never heard about the plot before. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also said he had requested meetings with Bush in the past to discuss homeland security issues and as yet there have been no meetings. However, former administration officials said that there was no direct threat to Los Angeles -- not in 2002, and not at the present time. So was this just another example of something the President said that shouldn't be considered seriously?

We seem to be entering a new realm of administration prevarication. Previously when Bush has been questioned on the "truthfulness" of his statements, his lackeys have been quick to cover it up by saying "the President misspoke". Now the spin is "it wasn't meant to be taken literally." Just an example, random musings, presidential ramblings spoken off the cuff ...

Could this mean when Bush said Iraq had WMDs -- Rumsfeld even said he knew exactly where they were; "around Tikrit" -- that he didn't mean it literally? Was that actually just a postulate, a hypothetical scenario?

How about his statements regarding "not knowing Ken Lay or Jack Abramoff"? Did he really mean that when he said it? Or was it another statement we shouldn't take seriously?

We've been told since the 2000 campaign that Bush is a straight shooter. Over and over again, press secretary Scot McClellan has said, "The President meant it when he said ..." Is 'straight-shooter' a figure of speech? A metaphor?

Perhaps the Traditional Media should consider running a disclaimer when broadcasting a Bush speech, as a crawl beneath his picture: Warning: Not to be taken literally. Or perhaps the corporate press corps could simply ask Bush or designated spokespeople a permanent followup to every other question they ask: "Can we take that literally? Or is it just a metaphor, a figure of speech, a hypothetical scenario, random musings ... ? "

A disturbing hypothetical scenario to consider: when Bush took the oath of office and swore to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States, did he mean it metaphorically?

Was that not to have been taken literally?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Greg Abbott takes on an invisible issue

Ed Ishmael takes him down:

Like most Republican leaders these days, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott seems scared. He sees the writing on the wall in large urban counties and knows there is little he or any Republican can do to keep those counties from turning Blue. What with Republican corruption, a do-nothing Governor and a Republican- controlled legislature that cannot even fund our schools, the only thing the Republicans have left may well be the one thing Abbott is advocating: voter suppression.

In his recent opinion piece Voter Fraud Must Stop, Abbott takes a well-worn page from the Republican’s playbook and twists himself in knots setting up a straw man -- voter fraud -- which he then attacks. He claims we have an epidemic on our hands but predictably offers no evidence supporting his wild assertion. His attempt would be laughable if it did not involve the denial of voting rights to hard-working concerned Texans and if it wasn’t costing you and me $1.5 million dollars.

If you were surprised by Mr. Abbott’s epidemic alarm, you’re not alone. Even noted experts on Texas politics in general, and on Texas voting in particular, have no idea what he’s talking about. You see, you haven’t heard about this so-called epidemic before because it does not exist.

If you want to understand the smoke and mirrors trick Abbott is performing you must look no further than his own words. He starts his presentation by listing instances he claims prove voter fraud in Texas.

And what is the first example he references? One from 1948. That alone should tell you how weak his coming argument will be.

Go read the whole thing, and then read Phillip Martin's post at Burnt Orange Report, which is quickly becoming the go-to blog on Texas politics. Commenter Sonia cogently explains there why this is garden variety, poll-tax-style voter suppression and intimidation.

I'm guessing we'll be talking about it some at the Tejano Democrats' convention this weekend.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tejano Dems, Bell/Gamage face off, and the Band of Brothers in DC

The Tejano Democrats are here in Houston to screen and endorse candidates. There are several events open to the public, and lots of candidates for you to see, hear, and meet.

Bob Gammage and Chris Bell debated on a live television feed this afternoon, carried by WFAA in Dallas. BOR live-blogged it.

The Band of Brothers gathering in Washington yesterday was nothing short of awesome.

More on all this later.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kay Bailey caves in to BAR and the vets

See? It works.

"The people, united, can never be defeated":

After U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky's nearly two years of advocacy for a VA hospital south of San Antonio, Kay Bailey Hutchison asked the Veterans Administration yesterday to consider turning a former regional hospital into a VA hospital for South Texas veterans.

In her June 27, 2005 press release Radnofsky formally called for a veterans' hospital south of San Antonio as soon as Hutchison entered the race, and she repeated that call in over 300 campaign stops, rallies, meetings and press conferences throughout Texas, as well as in media advisories and position papers including her most recent press release on February 2, 2006.

Succumbing to Radnofsky's advocacy, the activities of local veterans, South Texas legislators, and a resurgent Democratic Party, and feeling the pressure of declining support among Hispanics (56%, Nov. 2005 to 46% in Jan.2006) in the most recent Zogby Battleground States poll, Hutchison moved to limit the damage by finally moving ahead with a much-needed hospital.

"Hutchison, as Veterans Affairs Subcommittee chairwoman on the appropriations committee, has failed to fill the gap in projected VA budget shortfalls and has deserted our veterans," says Radnofsky. "Her resistance to a hospital south of San Antonio until forced by my campaign, and her repeated votes against increased veterans’ funding, demonstrate that our veterans need a real advocate in Washington, not a rubber stamp for the administration."

According to Radnofsky, "Sen. Hutchison, after following my lead on a VA hospital for South Texas veterans, now needs to follow my recommendations on guaranteed funding for the VA, protection of veterans and service personnel from unscrupulous lending practices and discrimination in bankruptcy proceedings, insurance reform, and federal research authorization for pharmacy and medical schools in South Texas and El Paso."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Governor's primary heating up

The campaigns of Chris Bell and Bob Gammage haven't yet drawn much attention from the Traditional Media, but that's OK. That's what we're here for, right?

Vince Leibowitz at Political State Report is first out of the blocks with extensive interviews conducted with both candidates. Philip Martin will have more of the same this week. Greg reports on the fundraising numbers and has his usual sharp-edged opinion regarding them.

But this is just hilarious (it comes from an e-mail on Carl Whitmarsh's listserv, so no link):

The Queen is Alive and Well and Living in Montrose

In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Alice remarks to the Queen of Hearts, "I can't believe that!" The Queen admonishes Alice to try again. Alice replies that there's no use trying because "one can't believe impossible things." The Queen replies that, with daily practice, she had sometimes managed to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Ideologues in Houston's gay community have been practicing lately.

The Queen would have been pleased if she had attended the tea party at the HGLPC's February 1, 2006, political endorsement meeting. In the upcoming Texas gubernatorial primary, the Caucus endorsed 70-something political has-been Bob Gammage over long-time GLBT Houston ally and Democratic front-runner Chris Bell. The capacity to believe the impossible shown by this inexplicable endorsement approaches a political death wish.

Never mind that Chris Bell was the only candidate for any office to come out publicly against Proposition 2 (the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage) last November. Never mind that Chris Bell's act of courage came at great political risk to himself, given the fact that he is seeking election as governor in a state where 77% of the voters support the constitutional ban and view gay marriage as a threat of apocalyptic significance. Never mind that Chris Bell was the first member of the Human Rights Campaign's major-donor Federal Club ever elected to Congress.

Never mind that Bell was almost single-handedly responsible for initiating the process that has now removed Tom DeLay, the scourge of equality in all its forms, as Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and made him a criminal defendant in an Austin courtroom. Never mind that Chris Bell personally came to the Caucus meeting in Houston, hat in hand, to humbly ask for the Houston gay community's support, while Gammage quietly phoned in an interview to the Caucus screening committee well before the meeting.

And never mind that Chris Bell, who has been actively campaigning for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for a year, is the easy front-runner over last-minute filer Bob Gammage, an attractive but geriatric also-ran who has been retired from Texas politics for over 10 years and has a name-recognition factor slightly higher than that of my dead grandmother.

Chris Bell was not good enough to win the endorsement of the HGLPC. Why? Because — despite his public opposition of the constitutional marriage ban — Bell has stated that he is not yet prepared to support gay marriage. Well, get out the torches and pitchforks! Let's all drive this monster out of the village before he can kill again!

Here's a novel political concept the Houston GLBT community might want to consider while marinating alone in its newly-discovered ideological purity: electability. A public office is not an ecclesiastical bishopric, where the successful candidate has to prove exact and mathematical alignment with all doctrinal positions of the sect before being ordained. Maybe the Second Baptist Church has the luxury of defrocking a pastor who does not believe in the "dunking" form of baptism. The gay community does not have this luxury — especially in a state where electable Democrats are few and far between. But at Our Lady of Perpetual Indulgence located at 3400 Montrose — where both Mad Hatters and Cheshire cats were in attendance on February 1, 2006 — we apparently don't even let pastoral candidates approach the pulpit until they prove they are willing to burn themselves alive on the altar of same-sex marriage.

Has anyone been keeping count? The same Republicans who coasted to easy victory on Proposition 2 in November 2005 by a margin of 50 points — yes, 50 points — now control the governorship, lieutenant governorship, both houses of the Legislature, every legislative committee chairmanship, and every seat on the Texas Supreme Court. When the Texas House went Republican in 2002, it was the first time in 138 years. No one can deny that Texas is a solidly Republican state in 2006. Not only has not a single Democrat been elected to statewide office in Texas since Ann Richards last won in 1994, but the last two Democrats who ran for governor spent millions of dollars to garner an anemic 40% (Tony Sanchez) or less (Gary Mauro).

We may not like it, but the gay community had better wake up and face two harsh facts: (1) No Democrat is likely to be elected governor of Texas (or any other statewide office) without being able to appeal to moderate, centrist voters; and (2) Moderate, centrist voters in Texas will stampede to the polls to vote AGAINST any candidate who calls for same-sex marriage equality. No governor has been elected in any state of the union by calling for same-sex marriage. As the world changes, this may some day happen. I even believe it will happen sooner than most people think. But it won't happen in 2006, and when it does happen, it won't be Texas where it happens first.

Now don't get me wrong. I like Bob Gammage. He was my Congressman when I arrived in Houston ready to set the world on fire in 1978. I voted for him for the Texas Supreme Court in his last election 15 or 16 years ago. His signature is on my law license. But the idyllic little world where people of good will elect as their governor a 6-foot-tall white rabbit with a pocket watch, and merrily follow him to the land of same-sex marriage equality does not exist. Bob Gammage will NOT come out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage. If he does so, he will greatly increase Chris Bell's margin of victory in the primary. Gammage will go to the primary in 5 weeks with a position on gay marriage identical to Chris Bell's, notwithstanding that the Caucus's stated belief that Gammage's position was "better" than Bell's — predicated, as it was, on a single telephone interview instead of an actual record or body of work— earned Gammage the Caucus endorsement.

In March, Chris Bell, long-time friend to the Houston gay community, will win the Democratic nomination for Texas governor over Bob Gammage by a landslide. Celebrations will abound all over the state, as Texas Democrats look forward to the greatest chance for gubernatorial victory in 12 years. But the Houston gay community will not be there. Thanks to the Caucus' ability to believe at least six impossible things before breakfast, Bell will have won despite the ostentatious opposition of the very community whose rights he has championed at every turn for over a decade.

I can think of only one thing appropriate to say about the Caucus for that: "Off with their heads!"

There's a few things to contend with in there: Bell wasn't the only candidate to publicly denounce Prop. 2, and I don't believe it will be a landslide in the primary. Forty percent of the general election vote tally, even by the bipartisan Beltway consultantocracy's measurement, isn't 'anemic'. And I believe that my candidate -- previously disclosed -- stands an excellent chance of being elected in November, garnering multiple thousands of votes from former Republican voters ('moderate' and 'centrist' labels having grown obsolete to the point of being misleading). But I wouldn't acidly state my strongly-held opinion as a fact.

Mostly though, the Gammage supporters' heads are going to explode from the truth about their candidate being so bluntly told.

Watch the comments here and elsewhere over the next few days and see if I'm right.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Grilling some Attorney General, with a side of Lay and Skilling

I've got a good bit of campaign documentation and fundraising calls to make today so I'll have some of the 'Berto Gonzales stir-fry going on in the background, though I wish CourtTV were showing the crucifiction of Kenny-Boy and Jittery Jeffrey. Does anyone else think Judge Sim Lake was a fan of Greezed Lightnin' at Astroworld, the way he likes speedy thrillrides?

The Tejano Democrats meet this weekend in Houston to screen and endorse candidates; Chris Bell will emcee the banquet Friday evening. There's also an excellent college baseball tournament going on.

Update (today): A commenter points out that I have cited the September 2005 event as this Friday. I've contacted the TDs for an agenda for the weekend and will post that when I get it.

Update #2 (today): Ali G's testimony has been a monumental embarrassment. He appears mostly ignorant of the law, oblivious to what's going on at other agencies, and blindingly incompetent to the duties of the nation's top law enforcement officer.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Just popping in to say hi briefly

OK, let's play catchup ...

Tuesday, the State of the Union was protested locally by about 250 of us, who marched down to KHOU and got some publicity.

Wednesday was a Texas congressional candidate forum at the Democracy for Houston monthly meeting, and Ted Ankrum and Jim Henley and David Murff and Gary Binderim all spoke.

Thursday Dot organized our Meetup for Democrats; here's info on the next one.

Yesterday I blockwalked with Borris Miles in Meyerland in the morning and then attended the "Talking the Talk" workshop in the afternoon. It was sponsored by the Harris County Democrats and featured Dr. Richard Murray, Dr. Stephen Klineberg, and also candidates Bob Gammage and Nick Lampson. We went back and mingled with the Borris supporters at his campaign office's open house in the evening.

(Stace has two cents' worth -- actually it's worth considerably more than that -- about something Dr. Murray said.)

That was my week; how was yours?

Henry Cuellar got the Fredo Corleone treatment from Bush and Ciro Rodriguez is $50,000 better off for it (so far).

There's a new House Majority Leader, he moonlights as George Hamilton (scroll down to almost the end), and all the good Who/Won't Get Fooled Again plays on words got taken months ago when it looked like Roy Blunt was going to be the man ...

There's a big football game today. I like the Steelers. How about you?