Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"He lived on the solution side of life"

(From the memorial service for Lloyd Bentsen in Houston yesterday, courtesy Houston Chronicle. Clockwise from about 7 o'clock: John Kerry, Chris Bell, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Cornyn.)

"At the tender age of 71, a time when he could have with honor and grace and total good faith, walked into a richly deserved private life, he agreed to become Treasury secretary at one of the most challenging times for our country economically in modern history ... He was instrumental in passing our plan to expand our trade relations with Mexico -- still a controversial issue, but I ask you to think how much more complex and difficult this immigration debate would be today if we had failed then to be a good neighbor."

-- former President Clinton

"For I believe history will judge this man as a man of solutions. He lived life differently than most of us. It's been said many times that life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how you react to it. From my chair, I've seen far too many people who react by moaning about problems, looking down, decrying the world and the situation we have. Not Lloyd Bentsen. He lived on what I call the solution side of life, always looking for an answer, always looking for some hope."

-- Pastor William Vanderbloemen of First Presbyterian Church, which the Bentsens attended

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Fold him in his country's stars."

Hermann Park, Houston, yesterday.

Barbara Radnofsky:

I want to express my sincere thanks to our service members and their families for their patriotic military service to our great Country. I ask that we keep our thoughts and prayers for the families of our fallen service members in all wars and the service members that died during peace time service. We must continue to remember this sacrifice on Memorial Day and throughout the year.

Chris Bell's blog (Jason Stanford):

Memorial Day is one holiday we all wish we didn't have to celebrate, and our hearts go out to everyone who has lost a friend or loved on in combat. There is not much more to say about that.

But there is a lot more to do. Texas has approximately 4,000 members of the National Guard currently on active duty in combat zones, and they are eligible for $250,000 life insurance policies with really low, $16.25 a month, premiums. On Veterans' Day, Chris said that as Governor, he would have the state pay these premiums to provide a little financial security.

When Chris' idea came out, Rick Perry's campaign called it "interesting," but not so interesting, it seems, to do anything about this. On Memorial Day, perhaps moreso than on any other day, we realize that this is an important priority and pray that no one would ever need to cash in any of these policies.

David Van Os:

My father and mother named me in memory of an uncle I never knew, my father’s older brother David, a naval fighter pilot in the Pacific theatre who did not return from his last mission and of whom it is said no trace was ever found. On the occasion of Memorial Day it is impossible for me not to think of this and of the similar sacrifices that have been made by so many Americans and their families in defense of the dream.

Over the approximately 231 years since the day the embattled colonists fired the shots heard ‘round the world at Lexington and Concord, a long line of courageous Americans and their families have offered themselves willingly to sacrifice everything they had in order to defend the dream of a place where tyranny is unknown and the people govern themselves. All of us living today owe more than words can ever express to every one of them for what they did.

On this occasion of Memorial Day 2006, something else must be said, grim though it is to have to say it. For the last 5 ½ years the chief executive of the United States of America and his entourage of sycophants have brazenly declared themselves by word and deed to be contemptuous of the Constitution and above the rule of law. In so doing they have continually shown themselves to be unworthy of every American who has sacrificed himself to defend the dream in every conflict since the courageous defenders of Lexington Green stood firm against Imperial Redcoat regiments.

The uncle I never knew did not pay the ultimate price in order for the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Alberto Gonzales to trample all over the American dream that he perished to defend. Every one of the honored dead who has made the ultimate sacrifice down through the years of our nation’s history deserves better than for the dream they defended to be dishonored by an American regime that scorns the very Constitution they were sworn to defend. My fellow Americans and Texans, we owe it to ourselves, our legacy, and our posterity to flood our polling places this November and bring this dishonor to an end.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Hoffa cupcakes"

Yummy. Oh wait, I have diabetes. OK, hold the chocolate sprinkles that look like freshly-turned dirt.

Down the street, customers are lining up at Leslie Watson's art store to buy $15 T-shirts reading, "The F.B.I. Digs Milford, Do You?"

And Jon Stewart (with a Sopranos reference, lost on those of you not watching this final season):

"Finally a break: they may have found Jimmy Hoffa. Ten FBI agents armed with shovels dug up a farm after a tip it might contain the Teamster leader's remains. Of course, many myths surround Hoffa's disappearance. Some say he is buried in the end zone of the Giants' stadium. Some say he was dumped in Lake Michigan. Some think he is alive and in New Hampshire having an affair with a volunteer fireman that he calls 'Johnnycakes.' But I hope, 31 years later, if they find him, it will make touchdown celebrations in the end zone of the Giants' stadium so much less creepy. Still looking for Jimmy Hoffa after 31 years. That means they'll find Osama bin Laden in 2037."

"Close" doesn't count

How hard is it to get some of these things right?

Matt Drudge 'reported' this week that Al Gore and his "entourage" traveled in five cars from their hotel in Cannes 500 yards away to where "An Inconvenient Truth" was being premiered. As Think Progress reports, a Gore spokesman says the former vice president and his associates walked to the screening.

Drudge also posted that the Democratic National Committee "secretly placed political operatives in the city of New Orleans to work against the re-election efforts of incumbent Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin." The DNC says the report is "unequivocally and absolutely false," and under pain of a libel lawsuit too costly for a blog to defend, Drudge now says that he takes DNC chairman Howard Dean and his spokesman "at their word."

In defense of his claim that Karl Rove has already been indicted on charges of perjury and lying to federal investigators, Truthout's Jason Leopold said last week that he had "five sources" to back him up. In its latest defense of the story, Truthout says it "now" has "three independent sources" who confirm what Rove's team denies: that Rove's lawyers were given a copy of his indictment on May 12th (or 13th).

Finally, ABC News' The Note raised a question: just exactly what was Karl Rove doing Friday May 19 at O'Hare, the airport that serves the city where Patrick Fitzgerald usually works. Wonkette has the deflation: he was headed to a fundraiser for Republicans in a northern Chicago suburb.

The Note should know that only us little know-nothing bloggers out here in Jerkwater are allowed to post rumorendo ...

Relative to Rove, Salon's Tim Grieve has more (of course he's a little harsher on us new-media types):

Consider the fact that Rove made a few public appearances last week. Maybe that's a sign that the White House thinks that Patrick Fitzgerald has given up on Rove. Or maybe, as conspiracy-minded blogger Wayne Madsen theorized the other day, it means that the grand jury really has indicted Rove already, but that the Bush administration knows that Rove is in the clear because it has gone to court to have the indictment dismissed.

Consider the fact that the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz have both written pieces dismissive of the claim that Rove has already been indicted. Maybe that's a sign that the story isn't true. Or maybe, as Truthout's Marc Ash argues, there's something "telling" about "rolling out that much conservative journalistic muscle to rebut" it.

Consider the fact that Rove's lawyer and spokesman have both denied the already-been-indicted story in interviews with both Truthout and more mainstream outlets. A TalkLeft comment poster has, and believes that Rove's people "now have a foot in the door of the liberal blogosphere" and may be using it "to manipulate their message among us."

And consider the fact that MSNBC's David Shuster said Monday night that Rove's legal team and former prosecutors watching the case "expect Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision at any time." Maybe Shuster's really saying that "Rove's people say an announcement by the special prosecutor is imminent," as one Truthout poster claimed. Maybe "the implication" is that Rove is "being cleared," as another asserted. Or maybe what Shuster said Monday night was simply a no-surprise update on the expected schedule of events he described a couple of weeks ago.

For Christ's sake, how much do those big-city beat reporters and TV talking heads get paid these days?

I can do that job better for cheaper. Just sayin' ...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr., 1921-2006

One of our titans is gone.

Much can be said of him, but this short paragraph from the Houston Chronicle is apropos:

During much of the last three decades, Bentsen was one of the most respected and important voices in the nation, and sometimes beyond, on federal fiscal policy.

Vaya con Dios, Senator.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Greg Abbott's fraudulent attack on 'voter fraud'

Thank you, Matt Angle and The Lone Star Project. Even though the graph below breaks my columns, I'm going to leave it as is. You can see the entire chart at the link in the preceding.

Texas AG Wastes Crime Fighting Funds on Ineffective Biased Program
Abbott Program Targets Seniors, Minorities and Democrats

With great fanfare last year, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott boasted about establishing an aggressive voter fraud unit to enforce Texas election laws and stop illegal voting. Kicking off the effort, Abbott said, “In Texas, an epidemic of voter fraud is infesting the electoral process, and it’s time we rooted it out.” (Source: Texas AG Helping Stamp Out Voter Fraud in Texas)

To pay for the project, Abbott and Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry decided to divert part of $1.4 million in federal funds obtained through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, more informally called “Byrne Grants.” These federal Byrne Grant funds would otherwise be used entirely to fight serious violent crimes against Texas citizens. Republican Secretary of State Roger Williams joined the act by agreeing to “refer” allegations of irregular election activity to Abbott.

Now, almost a year later, all Abbott, Perry and Williams have done with their high profile, high dollar effort is indict about a dozen senior citizens – most of them African American or Hispanic - and all of them Democrats.

  • A total of only 40 ballots are in question.
  • In only one instance, is it alleged that anyone other than a legal, qualified voter cast a ballot.
  • In every other instance, the Attorney General is using a loophole in the Texas election law to prosecute seniors for the simple act of assisting other seniors in casting their mail-in ballot.
  • Moreover, the materials designed by Abbott clearly “cue” those election officials to scrutinize African American voters more closely than others.

Crime Fighting Funds Diverted for Failed Abbott Program
According to the U.S. Justice Department, federal Byrne Grants are intended to help states combat serious crimes such as drug trafficking, cyber crimes, child sexual abuse and child pornography. An eight-page Department of Justice document titled “Byrne Formula Purpose Areas” describes 29 specific areas of law enforcement and crime prevention that qualify for Byrne Grant assistance. There is no specific mention or reference to voter fraud or election law enforcement anywhere in the DOJ document. (Source: DOJ - Byrne Formula Purpose Areas) However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, with the approval of Governor Rick Perry, has dipped heavily into a $1.4 million federal Byrne Grant crime fighting fund to concentrate on voter fraud rather than violent crime prevention and enforcement. (Source: Texas AG Helping Stamp Out Voter Fraud in Texas)

Minority Democratic Seniors Targeted and Prosecuted
To date, it appears that less than a dozen indictments have been handed down as a result of Abbott’s enforcement efforts. Over 4 million votes are normally cast in a Texas election. Of these, only about 40 actual ballots, less than .001 percent, are in question. Most disturbing, the individuals Abbott is prosecuting are mostly African American or Hispanic, senior citizens and Democrats. If voter fraud is in fact an “epidemic” in Texas, it is worth noting that Abbott, Perry and Williams have chosen to prosecute only a few violators, and virtually all of them are minority senior Democrats.






# of Ballots in Question

Voting History

Josefina Marinas Suarez







Willie J. Ray




African American



Melinda Hunter




African American



Jamillah Johnson




African American



Anita Baeza







Trinidad Villalobos







Virginia Ramos Garza







Isabel Rios Gonzalez







Elida Garza Flores







Johnny Akers







Melva Kay Ponce







(Source: TX Attorney General Press Releases and Secretary of State Voting Records)

Total Ballots in Question

40 out of 4 million cast (less than .001%

Abbott Exploiting Loophole in Texas Law

  • In Texas, any registered voter 65 years of age or older, or any disabled person, has the right to cast their ballot by mail. (Source: TX Secretary of State – Early Voting Texas)
  • Until the 2004 election, an individual could legally assist a senior or disabled voter by helping them complete an application for a mail ballot, helping them fill out their voter information on their ballot, and once the voter had voted and sealed the carrier envelope, help the senior further by making sure the ballot was delivered to a mail box or postal facility or delivered to the elections department. (Source: Texas Election Code Section 86.006(f))
  • However, as part of broader legislation meant to protect the rights of senior voters, language was added that prevented any person not related or living with a senior to help them mail their ballot.
  • Abbott is using this narrow loophole to win indictments in Texas. In only one instance is Abbott charging that a ballot was cast by a person other than the voter themselves. In every other instance, the ballot was marked by a qualified voter and there is no claim that the person assisting the elderly voter did not reflect the wishes of the voter. The AG’s office acknowledge this in one case saying, “Akers (one of the accused) was not accused of manipulating someone's vote, just illegally handling ballots.” (Associated Press, November 9, 2005) The charge Abbott is pursuing is that another person simply helped make sure the ballot got mailed to the right place. Under Abbott’s interpretation election fraud would occur when a person simply gives help to elderly or disabled voters.

Training Materials Racially Biased
A central feature of the Abbott, Perry, Williams voter fraud program is a training packet designed to “educate” election officials on how to identify potential voter fraud. The training materials produced and used by the AG’s office contain obvious racial “cues” implying that African Americans should be scrutinized more closely than other voters. A copy of the entire AG packet can be viewed HERE. (Warning Large File) The most obvious and offensive racial “cues” within the packet are shown below and include:

  • the use of a “sickle cell” stamp as part of a warning to “Examine Documents for Fraud” (See Large Version Here); and

Texas Republicans Have Misused Federal Byrne Grant Funds Before

One of the most controversial, divisive and racially charged law enforcement incidents in recent Texas history is the scandal in Tulia, Texas, where African American residents were sentenced to long prison terms based on the uncorroborated testimony of only one Anglo police officer. Texas Monthly succinctly summarized the scandal when it reported: “In 1999 a Byrne grant-funded narc named Tom Coleman set up dozens of people, most of them black, in the small Panhandle town, allegedly for dealing cocaine.” In the four-year legal battle that followed, Coleman was exposed as a liar, and Governor Rick Perry eventually pardoned almost all of his victims.” (Source: Texas Monthly, September, 2005)

Current Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn was then serving as Texas Attorney General.

It appears now that during Greg Abbott’s tenure, Byrne Grant funds are again being used in a program that has the effect of intimidating minority voters, and this program is being run directly out of the Attorney General’s office.

The TDP Blogger's Caucus website

is fully operational. Thanks to Vince at Capitol Annex and Anna at annatopia for all their hard work.

Go give it a look. If you blog and plan on being in Fort Worth the second weekend of June, apply for press credentials.

We'll have a big get-together Friday evening the 9th at the Flying Saucer, with many candidates, staff, blogmeisters and groupies in attendance. This will be the most important party of the convention. No kidding.

Friday, May 19, 2006


( I stole that headline from Abram.)

-- regarding this earlier spleen-venting of mine, Hizzoner followed up with a webcast that filled in many of the details that were missing from Monday. Though I skipped it, this was by all accounts a much better marketing effort.

-- just completed another conference call with the folks at the Texas Freedom Network regarding their efforts toward shedding the light of day on the TaliBaptists and Christianists trying to take over our state government. And if you haven't read the Leininger interview at Texas Monthly, go do so now. There's a freak that knows how to frame.

-- tonight there's a local political rally featuring all of our statewide candidates except Chris Bell, who'll be busy at the opening of the "The Big Buy". There's a very good interview with him also in Texas Monthly. A fun-filled Friday night ahead (unless you're a Republican, of course).

More in-depth posting over the weekend.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another lovely frame for the immigration debate

... which is a discussion that the Republicans, amongst themselves, really need to continue:

Taxpayers shouldn't have to fund the National Guard so that corporations can keep breaking the law.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bonds, Bush, or Bill White?

This evening I was forced to prioritize my attention:

  1. I could get on a conference call with Houston mayor Bill White and other H-Town blogheads regarding the municipal wi-fi plan for the city;
  2. I could watch the Giants and Barry Bonds take on the Astros in Minute Maid Park;
  3. ... or I could watch the Pretzledint talk about militarizing the nation's southern border.

I opted to join the conference call and put the ballgame on, volume muted. Michael Garfield of the High-Tech Texan hosted, and Mayor White was joined on the call by Richard Lewis, the city's chief information officer (an interview with Lewis on Houston's wireless initiative can be found here).

I'm going to leave the eyelid-drooping details to those who do that sort of thing better than I ever intend to (see linkage at the end). Let me summarize the half-hour by simply saying that I was disappointed with both the quality and quantity of the information dispensed. There were about a dozen of us on the call, from the left, the right, and neither (allegedly). The questions were, for the most part, supercilious and the answers conveyed nearly nothing of informational value.

Apparently when the bid proposals are submitted (tomorrow is the deadline) then someone will know more about how this effort is going to proceed, but it likely won't be anyone except Richard Lewis and Bill White and a few others at City Hall. Nothing about cost was discussed because the bids aren't in; apparently it will be a couple of years before anything can be rolled out; it will be a public/private initiative, blahblahblah.

There was lots of pontificating about having the most elite network in the United States, about not exacerbating the 'digital divide' between those of means and those without, and more crap like that.

Speaking of crap, this fellow provided us a first-inning update on the Giants home run not hit by Barry Bonds.

Anybody watch what the President said? Or the cacophony of talking heads post-speech? I sure didn't have the stomach for that, and the baseball game turned into a Giant rout -- 8-0 -- when I turned it off.

All in all, I should have gone to bed early.

Some serious analysis of tonight's call can be found here, here (but not until tomorrow), a bit of conservative snarling in advance of the call here, and a nice pre- and post-call post from Dwight at the Chronic here.

Update: the neoconservative who masquerades behind an Indian (or is it Pakistani?) pseudonym adds something worthwhile. Presumably the organizers of the call, Wythe and Kuffner, will add something later.

Update II: Matt at Houstonist has a cool picture of a coffee can all wired up. I hope this isn't the actual technology that is supposed to last a decade.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Things NOT to say if you call your Mom tomorrow

In light of the NSA's recently disclosed data-mining activity, there should be certain precautions taken if you happen to phone home on Mother's Day. Certain words and phrases that you avoid using. Such as:

Hey Mom, my new job's da bomb! My boss has been laudin' my performance! Sue aside, he says I'm the best new recruit!

After watching Scott McClellan, and now Tony Snow, I have to think, 'Gee, Hodding Carter wasn't such a bad White House spokesman.

You've not had much luck with that hedge on the left side of the house. I think the shade might kill that bush.

It's almost as exciting as the time I got to shake Muhammed Ali's hand!

Say hi to Al, Kay, da whole gang, and Gramma! Oh, and "Hi, Jack"!

And tell Dad I said, "Over the hill, my eye! E.D. is easily treated these days, and there's no reason to be ashamed.' (And please don't bring this up with me again, ever.)"

And lastly:

Love you! Death to America, the Great Satan!

Friday, May 12, 2006

How long has this been a 'Constitutional Crisis'?

The Bush administration came clean this week and told us that they had been spying on us.

As you may remember, they had previously denied doing so, then said it was only international calls, then finally admitted it was all calls. Your calls, my calls, the calls of politicians, of reporters, of government officials, tens of millions of landline and cellular phone calls and probably our e-mail communications as well. Purely between Americans. They're all stored by a government agency in an attempt to "mine" that information for, they tell us again, “potential” ties between you and the terrorists. But don't worry, the president says, the government would never misuse the data they've collected on us.

Three telecommunications companies – AT&T, which recently changed its name from SBC, and is headquartered in San Antonio; and Verizon and BellSouth – apparently allowed the NSA to monitor all calls passing through their lines. One company, Qwest, declined to participate. They thought that it might be illegal.

Republicans expressed as much shock and outrage as Democrats. Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “We are approaching a constitutional confrontation.”

Well, if the Washington politicians had been paying attention a few months ago, they could have heard David Van Os say that. In fact, David was calling it a “Consitutional Crisis” even before Al Gore was. And in February, David challenged incumbent attorney general and corporate shill Greg Abbott to protect Texans against illegal federal wiretapping:

“I think this is a matter where the people of Texas have a right to know your views. They have a right to know if their elected attorney general views such important issues the same way Alberto Gonzales and George Bush do, or if he will stand by their fundamental rights to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into their personal phone calls.”

The Attorney General is given broad power in the Texas Constitution to bring marauding corporations to heel. He can file a lawsuit on behalf of all Texans restraining their activities which are in violation of the law. And every legal expert agrees that wiretapping without a warrant is against the law.

So is there anything can you do to prevent your government from continuing to spy on you? Sure is. First, contact AT&T and Verizon and BellSouth if you’re their customer and tell them to stop sharing your information with the feds. Second, call Greg Abbott’s office and ask him when he intends to do his job and demand that the big phone companies stop breaking the law.

And third, you can vote in November for an Attorney General who will fight to protect your civil rights from a federal government and big companies who want to keep taking them away.

Full disclosure (for those who weren't already aware): I am the statewide coordinator for the Van Os campaign.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

714 and 31 (26, actually)

Two examples of recent good reading on unrelated subjects:

In the hallowed company of Ruth and Aaron, Bonds is treated as the punchline to a joke, like the one in left field that said, "For Sale: Life-Sized Bobblehead. See Leftfield." Or the one in the upper deck with an enormous asterisk-marked head drawn over a small body that said, "Life Size. Shrink This." Or the faux Giants jerseys that say "Cheater" on the front and "Juiced" arched over a No. 25 on the back. Or the people dressed in giant cardboard juice boxes marked "100% Roids." Or the "Got Juice?'' signs. Or the skinny guy with the T-shirt that said "Barry With Pirates" while his buddy, dressed in an inflatable sumo costume, wore one that said "Barry With San Fran." Or the sign that simply said, "Fraud*.' On and on it goes, the majesty of history trumped by lowbrow humor.


That simple sign may be the worst of it. An athlete being labeled a cheater is worse than being called soft or a loser or even a jerk. And yet that is the verdict on Bonds, a player once gifted with as great a package of all-around baseball skills the game had ever seen. And that, really, is why this tour toward history is so sad.

I think Barry ought to be in the HOF. After all, baseball has been rife with cheating from the beginning, from spitballs to corked bats. Gaylord Perry, who won Cy Youngs in both leagues, was never reticent in talking about his tobacco juice and emory boards and sandpaper.

But Barry will never get to the HOF because the writers who do the voting despise him, and not just for cheating but for his obnoxious attitude going back to when his hat size was still a 7 1/4.

Now then, about that other number:

(T)he rise of the immigration debate was the single worst thing, at the single worst moment, that could have happened to the GOP coalition. It is the San Andreas fault line between the business conservatives and the movement/fundie conservatives. When this issue came up, that fault line slipped, and we are still rocking and rolling from the aftershocks.

The business conservatives, of course, want an ocean of super-cheap labor they don't have to offer health care bennies to, so they wanted the Senate bill. The movement/fundie conservatives want a thousand-foot wall built around the country and every undocumented worker sent away in leg irons, and so they backed the Sensenbrenner bill in the House. These two positions are totally irreconcilable, and unutterably dangerous to the GOP.

The business conservatives provide the cash, so they are essential to the coalition. The movement/fundie conservatives provide the blood, sweat and fanatacism that has helped a minority party achieve near-total political dominance, so they are essential to the coalition. Now they are at each other's throats, and Bush's weirdly aerobic straddle on the issue pacified neither side.

There's more, including the NYT graphic which explains the numbers in the headline, but there's enough known to reveal the simple truth: the GOP can't make a move on immigration without screwing about 40% of its base. If they pick the rich side, then the fundie base stays home on Election Day or votes Libertarian. And the DC pols can't get off the crack -- err, corporate money.

But it still remains to be seen how it plays out in November.

For now, just pop some corn and watch the Republican Party crumble.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

You better watch out. Fitzmas is nearly here.

MSNBC's David Schuster, as interviewed by Keith Olbermann and transcribed at Raw Story:

Olbermann: What are you gathering on these two main points. Is the decision by Mr. Fitzgerald coming soon, would it be an indictment?

Shuster: Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why. First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple, a week and a half ago, unless you feel that's your only chance of avoiding indictment. So in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges. Secondly, it's now been 13 days since Rove testified. After testifying for three and a half hours, prosecutors refused to give him any indication that he was clear. He has not gotten any indication since then. And the lawyers that I've spoken with outside of this case say that if Rove had gotten himself out of the jam, he would have heard something by now.

And then the third issue is something we've talked about before, and that is, in the Scooter Libby indictment, Karl Rove was identified as 'Official A.' It's the term that prosecutors use when they try to get around restrictions on naming somebody in an indictment. We've looked through the records of Patrick Fitzgerald from when he was prosecuting cases in New York and from when he's been US attorney in Chicago. And in every single investigation, whenever Fitzgerald has identified somebody as Official A, that person eventually gets indicted themselves, in every single investigation. Will Karl Rove defy history in this particular case? I suppose anything is possible when you are dealing with a White House official. But the lawyers that I've been speaking with who know this stuff say, don't bet on Karl Rove getting out of this.

I've got cards to mail, presents still to buy, I have to get tinsel and lights for the tree, decide on turkey or ham ...

Finally. A frame that fits my portrait of Jesus.

Or more specifically, the snapshot of the practice of American politics and religion.

From now on, as Andrew Sullivan has established and Phillip Martin has advanced, "Christians" will be replaced with Christianists and "Christianity" is discarded in favor of Christianism.

You're going to have click on the links to get the frontstory. Here's my summary: the new words most accurately describe the co-optation of selected religious tenets by (mostly -- well, virtually exclusively) the Republican Party and their various acolytes in order to advance their political agenda, but which betray the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christianists, in short, are hypocrites, and I believe Jesus would have spit them out of his mouth.

Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:

Gee, I'm sure there's more examples of Christianism but I haven't even Googled yet.

Can you think of any?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Porter de Mayo

It wasn't the resignation I was hoping for, yet in a development mentioned here last week, The New York Daily News has a good summary of the GOP's latest scandal, this one involving hookers and Texas Hold 'Em and the now-former CIA director:

Porter Goss abruptly resigned (Friday) amid allegations that he and a top aide may have attended Watergate poker parties where bribes and prostitutes were provided to a corrupt congressman.

Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No. 3 official at the CIA, could soon be indicted in a widening FBI investigation of the parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery conviction of former Rep. Randall (Duke) Cunningham, law enforcement sources said.

A CIA spokeswoman said Foggo went to the lavish weekly hospitality-suite parties at the Watergate and Westin Grand hotels but "just for poker."

Intelligence and law enforcement sources said solid evidence had yet to emerge that Goss also went to the parties, but Goss and Foggo share a fondness for poker and expensive cigars, and the FBI investigation was continuing.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative and a Bush administration critic, said Goss "had a relationship with Dusty and with Brent Wilkes that's now coming under greater scrutiny."

Most of the rest of the corporate media is tap-dancing around the salacious allegations, so we'll see if they intend to report the full story or gloss over it a la Jeff Gannon.

Why do you suppose prostitutes -- even male ones in the White House press corps -- don't seem to find any media traction in the new millenium? How is that "a blue dress and some DNA" -- as Goss indicated would be enough to launch an investigation (but not the felonious leaking of an undercover CIA agent to the press) -- could have attracted so much outrage just ten years ago? Were we -- well, the Republicans, anyway -- really that prudish then?

Is this just points on the scoreboard, or losing one's "mojo", as Josh Bolten pointed out? Or is it something more, such as the decline of our democratic republic?

How can it be that the man who is on the front line for our nation's security is so ethically compromised and the news is so slow to come out?

But then, how is it that a President who lied about WMDs in Iraq is joined in laughter by the press corps at their annual dinner when he portrays himself looking under his Oval Office desk for said weapons, but if a comedian likens his administration to the Hindenburg it's "not funny"?

And does this have anything remotely to do with the fact that the company that builds the machines that process our ATM transactions with an accurate receipt every single time cannot do the same for our ballots? And nobody reports the story?

Is our media just as broken and corrupt as the ruling party? You think they'll ever wake up and start doing their jobs and you know, save democracy and maybe the Constitutiton?

Or is it too late already?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Greg Abbott referees a catfight between Grandma and MoFo

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took a break from the weighty responsibilities of protecting Texas consumers this week and provided a constitutional opinion on the catfight between the Governor and the Comptroller.

Specifically, on the legality of the investigation by Carole Strayhorn's office into the viability of Rick Perry's Texas Residential Construction Commission. Strayhorn had taken a look into the TRCC (pronounced 'trick'), called it a 'builder protection agency' and declared, "If it were up to me personally, I would blast this Texas Residential Construction Commission off the bureaucratic books."

Abbott said Strayhorn had no business investigating the TRCC unless Perry asked her to do so -- which he hadn't. Both grandstanding Republicans claimed that members of the Lege asked them to look into TRCC, and Strayhorn challenged Abbott to sue her: "(I)f the attorney general wants to take me to court, let's go," she said.

Texans already knew that the two Republicans running for Governor don't have anything more important to do than trade petty insults, but the real shocker is that our Attorney General has inserted himself in the political one-upsmanship. After all, it's not like the man who went to the United States Supreme Court to argue the case for a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state Capitol has a political agenda or anything.

And that's when Abbott can be bothered to do anything at all on behalf of Texas consumers.

John Cobarruvias, President of HADD Texas (Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings) said, "I find the Attorney General's opinion hollow at best. If his office had investigated the homebuilding industry when asked by consumers, the Commission wouldn't have been necessary, much less the Comptroller's investigation of it." Cobarruvias claims to have personally delivered complaints to the AG's office and was greeted with profound indifference.

Is anybody else -- such as you conservatives lurking -- fed up with this crap?

Six months to go before we get the chance to elect responsible representation in Austin.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

This makes a lot of cents

This afternoon a handful of Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers got on a conference call with Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who has proposed a summer-long gasoline tax holiday for Texas drivers.

Last week DallasBlog published his op-ed where he laid out the program:

HB 120 would impose a 90-day moratorium on the fuel taxes collected on every gallon of gasoline and diesel in Texas. At .20 cents a gallon, HB 120 takes $4.00 off your gas bill on a 20-gallon tank. That’s like getting 1 1/3 gallons of free gas. If you own more than one vehicle, your savings doubles.

The money -- around $700 million -- does not come from the state's budget surplus, nor does it short-change other highway projects. It comes from a projected increase in Federal Highway Adminstration funds, already approved but not earmarked, of $788.1 million (according to his website, .

This isn't a lot of money, and it's short-term relief for a long-term problem, but other than that I can't find fault with this idea. Go sign the petition if you agree.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stirring the Mierda

llegal immigrants made their point Monday: Without them, Americans would pay higher prices and a lot of work wouldn't get done.

As nationwide demonstrations thinned the work force in businesses from meat-packing plants to construction sites to behind the counter at McDonald's, economists said there can be no dispute within the context of the contentious immigration issue that the group wields significant clout in the U.S. economy.

"If illegal immigration came to a standstill, it would disrupt the economy," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "It would lead to higher prices for many goods and services, and some things literally would not get done. It would be a major adjustment for our economy, for sure."

This remains an issue that many Republicans (not the ones hiring the cheap labor, but the racists commenting in online forums) fail to comprehend.

This is a profound division between factions of the GOP: the so-called "country club Republicans" and the Southern, mostly fundamentalist conservatives. They continue to feed the hate, using the same tired labels and name-calling, but it's failing to find its purchase.

71% of Americans now believe the country is on the wrong track. (The link shows 69%, but Bob Schieffer just announced the new figure a moment ago.) That's the highest percentage since that poll began.

We only have to endure this for a few months more, and in November can begin the process of getting things turned around.

Nobody seems to want a hundred bucks

Well, this is too bad. They probably won't go through with it now. I was planning on sending my rebate check to my favorite Democrat:

The plan by Senate Republicans to mail out $100 checks to soothe taxpayers' misery about gas prices is drawing scorn from the very people it was intended to help.

Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent attempt to pander to voters in advance of the midterm elections in November.

"The conservatives think it is socialist bunk, and the liberals think it is conservative trickery," Don Stewart, a spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said, noting the criticism came from across the ideological spectrum.

This is the first time I have seen Senator Box Turtle's office even acknowledge receiving phone calls or e-mail messages. What could be next; actually responding to them once in awhile?