Thursday, May 31, 2007

What to do in Houston this weekend (and this month)

First, from Houston's least obnoxious conservo-blog (Vikk does a good write-up but I edited some of his dry snark):

Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet) has a triple-header this weekend for H-Town's Democrats, liberals, and/or progressives and it begins tonight. ...

Thursday, May 31, 6:00 PM
What do you get when you combine California, the Beat Generation, and the 1960s? Apparently something called the "religion of no religion." Jeffrey Kripal explains it all tonight in his book ESALEN: America and the Religion of No Religion.

Friday, June 1, 12:00 -2:00 PM
It would seem that Senator Kerry is still looking for his moment. This time he--and his wife--have cast their eyes on the future and come up with a new book: THIS MOMENT ON EARTH: Today's Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future. This is a 2-hour event, so fans will probably want to get to the store early. ...

Saturday, June 2, 5:30-7:30 PM
Molly Ivins brought much joy and laughter to her audience. Saturday's event has been crafted to bring out the best of Molly and her friends with an open microphone, stories, and readings. "The Celebration of the Life and Work of Molly Ivins" festivities will include the following special guests: Lou Dubose, Molly's co-author; Charlotte McCann, publisher of the Texas Observer; Betsy Moon, Molly's "Chief of Stuff", the Chronicle's Leon Hale; and Andy and Carla Ivins. A "Special Molly Issue" of the Texas Observer will be available. There is a $10 cover charge to help defray the cost of refreshments and the bookstore asks that you bring the correct change. Since the wine and beer will be flowing, I'm sure you can expect the unexpected.

There's also these events ...

Annie's List training for potential political candidates (I can think of several local women I'd like to see run for office):

Are you a Democratic woman who has thought about running for office or would like to get more involved in helping local Democrats win? If so, Annie's List has an exciting opportunity for you to learn more about what it takes to run for office and win campaigns and network with like-minded women in Houston.

We are hosting a free campaign training during the day on Saturday, June 2nd that is available on a first come, first serve basis to all progressive, Democratic women. Topics such as fundraising, press relations, voter targeting, message development, planning to run for office and more will be covered. All meals and training materials are provided at no charge to participants who commit to stay for the entirety of the training (8:30am - 5:00pm).

Reserve your spot by REGISTERING ONLINE today as space is limited!

Democracy for Houston is having a Presidential Debate Watch Party this Sunday evening. If you're tired of watching Grumpy Old Rich White Men arguing over who has the biggest penis, then you have another option, and that's to get a look at the next President -- and likely, Vice-President -- of the United States talk about an America without Bush's War and with health care for everyone. RSVP here.

Next Saturday the 9th the ROADWomen are having their "True Blue Texas Women" luncheon, with author Melinda Henneberger as one of the many keynoters. Look who else will be there:

Henneberger's publicist sent me a copy of If They Had Only Listened To Us and I'll have a review and excerpts next week in advance of this event.

And on Sunday the 10th is the Environmental Summit:

What's happening with the Houston region environment? How bad is it?

The people of Houston suffer the ill effects day in and day out and seem unable to make their voices heard by most elected officials. What can we do?

Come to the Environmental Summit on Sunday, June 10 from 1-5 p.m. at the University of Houston's University Center, 4800 Calhoun, to find out what's happening, who's working for the people of Houston, what you can do, and how we can all work together.

The event, sponsored by the Harris County Democrats progressive organization and the Billie Carr Institute, will feature a keynote by Houston Mayor Bill White and introductory comments by well-known environmental activist Jim Blackburn. In addition, Dr. Stephen Klineberg of Rice University will discuss survey research about environmental opinions and renowned climate change expert Jim Marston will speak, and a variety of environmental and political groups will offer comments about environmental goals, issues and key challenges in the near future.

The event's objectives are to broadly increase knowledge of environmental issues and introduce organizations to political activists of Harris County and surrounding areas. We hope to substantially increase interaction between people active in environmental issues and partisan politics. Ultimately, we'd like to plan future interactions for the coming election season.

Houston Region Sierra Club, GHASP (Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention), Mothers for Clean Air, Houston Audubon Society, Galveston Bay Foundation, Citizen's Environmental Coalition, AND Harris County Democrats, Bay Area New Democrats (BAND), and other Democratic organizations are
expected to participate.

Organizations are encouraged to invite their members and to staff tables with literature throughout the event in the main ballroom of UH's University Center.

No pre-registration required, $10 admission. Check for more information.

Maybe I'll finally get to meet you at one of these this month?

Alas, there is more

"Separated at Birth":

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Separated at birth?

We report. You decide.

Eleventh elderly rich white Republican enters race

The co-star of Curly Sue, the one who has Republicans everywhere wet with pleasure, is "testing the waters". His presidential campaign committee, "Friends of Fred Thompson" -- rhymes with 'soft' -- will raise money for him without his actually having to say he's running.

This news naturally has the hearts of Houston conservatives aflutter. Because there's nothing like an unemployed actor that screams "WHITE HOUSE" in their heads.

Let's briefly review the man's career:

2007: Warming up for his turn in the spotlight, Thompson puts on a hairpiece and portrays President Ulysses S. Grant for the HBO docu-drama Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. During his one scene and ten seconds of screen time, he grumbles and smokes a cigar. Obviously a method actor.

Also this year: responding to Michael Moore's challenge to debate him on health care policy, Thompson has a YouTube filmed of him grumbling and chewing a cigar.

Is there a pattern here?

-- Too many years to bother counting: his portrayal of New York district attorney Arthur Branch spanned four different versions of the TV show "Law and Order".

His film roles would make a pretty good resume' for an aspiring politician, if they had not been film roles, of course: CIA director in No Way Out; a Senator (himself) in Albert Brooks' Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World; a major general in Fat Man and Little Boy and a rear admiral in The Hunt for Red October. He played Racehorse Haynes in the "special TV event" Bed of Lies and former AmEx chief and corporate sleaze Jim Robinson in HBO's Barbarians at the Gate (two roles also requiring precious little departure from his everyday life).

I'd say he's eminently qualified to be the GOP nominee. I really hope he can turn back the likes of Sam Brownback and Tom Tancredo, because compared to them he's positively liberal.

Registered users can vote in the poll


As a result of the congressional vote on Iraq funding last week ...

1%61 votes
3%174 votes
22%1169 votes
24%1305 votes
19%1009 votes
8%454 votes
5%260 votes
1%38 votes
1%59 votes
2%101 votes
2%101 votes
7%360 votes
1%56 votes
3%173 votes
2%105 votes
| 5425 votes

I'm in the at-the-moment 24% majority.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan's grief and rage

Will hopefully and shortly come to an end:

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.

I went to Camp Casey the weekend before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It was one of the most seminal experiences of my life. Sheehan organized the anti-war movement when 70% of Americans believed George Bush and his lies. Now, of course, 70% don't, but as Sheehan points out the Democrats in Congress who were elected to stop the war have failed us all in their duty to do so.

And even as she exits, the flying monkeys fling their poo at her.

I hope Cindy Sheehan finds peace.

"Surf's Up" in the San Antonio Current

Ironically this feature is one of the only things that doesn't make it into the online edition, so you'll have to pick a copy of last week's San Antonio Current to verify if this is the truth:

A hundred years from now, history may very well remember Perry Dorrell as one of the founding pillars of the Texas blogosphere, having launched his Brains and Eggs in 2002 after a long career working on the executive side of the Texas print media, including a stint with Hearst, parent of San Antonio's daily. Since then, he's developed Brains and Eggs into a serrated, left-heavy journal covering everything political on the national, state, and local (Houston, where he's based) fronts. Dorrell's also a veteran of Texas politics, having served as statewide coordinator of David Van Os' (failed) 2006 bid for Texas Attorney General. Check out Dorrell's recent posts on George Irish, former publisher of the San Antonio Light, as well as his weekly "Sunday Funnies" posts, a compilation of the week's best leftish cartoons, similar to MSNBC's Daily Political Cartoon Index (

*buffs, then admires manicure*

Lampson is not in for the Senate, and more bloggerrhea

Just a week ago I confidently posted that Nick Lampson would declare his challenge to Senator Box Turtle for the US Senate in 2008, but yesterday Lampson, through his local spokesperson Mustafa Tameez, told the Austin American-Statesman he was a no-go:

A Senate bid is “not going to happen,” Tameez said. “It sounds goofy, but he feels like he made a commitment to the people of Congressional District 22.” Tameez said Lampson feels a Senate try would be “disingenuous.”

I am delighted to have misread the tea leaves. Of course I am more inclined to believe that the blogswarm over his dithering forced him to reconsider, but that's only because I have an inflated sense of self-importance. And considering he's at the top of Karl Rove's hitlist, he'd better go to work right now nailing down his seat in the House.


-- "Lyndon Johnson's mistress claims LBJ told her that he had JFK killed!"

-- Paul Burka found Tom Craddick in a bald-face contradiction. I'm shockedIsay.

-- The terrorists are NOT going to follow us home (so stop staying that):

The President and his supporters have been repeatedly expressing their concern that if US troops left Iraq before the war is "won" as they define it, Al Qaeda in Iraq would follow us home and carry out their terror campaigns in the streets of America instead of Baghdad. Critics like myself are suggesting the President has chosen once again to engage in fear-mongering to try to manipulate American public opinion on the war. He has done so in a desperate attempt to rationalize our continued occupation in the hope of salvaging his, and his party's, legacy. In the end, his and his supporters' claims will be proven to be just as self-serving, misguided, and delusional as the claims they made leading up to the war in Iraq about Saddam's WMDs, mushroom clouds, and being greeted as liberators.

Ironically, the only way they would have followed us home would have been if George W. Bush had actually succeeded in imposing his will on the people of the Middle East. Then they would have followed us home for revenge, much like they did on 9/11. Otherwise, they are no more or less likely to follow us home any more than we did the British, or the Viet Cong did us.

-- The movie critic at FOX News loves Michael Moore's new movie, SiCKO. There's hope for everything.

-- New sponsors of this blog include the National Cheney Impeachment Poll. Here, have an Impeachmint.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Craddick Coup continues today

There was a revolt last night in the Texas House.

BOR followed the action (several other threads provided play-by-play as well). The House parliamentarians resigned due to the dictatorial will of Speaker Craddick. He replaced them with his stooge, former Rep. Terry Keel, who literally fed the Speaker his lines. (Muse had the quick wit on this comic drama.) Craddick refused to recognize motions -- even from Republicans like Fred Hill -- to consider the vacation of the chair.

Parliamentary procedure denied, the House was in an uproar most of the late evening and early morning, at the end of the legislative session, with numerous bills still to be considered. An historical pandemonium -- not since 1871 has a motion to vacate the chair been advanced -- and Craddick declared that occurrence divined no precedent in this case. He declared that any attempt to remove him would have to be an impeachment proceeding, requiring a two/thirds majority of the House's members to advance.

Update (ten minutes after original post): Via Eye on Williamson, John Kelso applies the, uh, coup de grace:

Mention Craddick’s name and the words “mean,” “small” and “autocratic” come up. I’ve heard him called autocratic so often I’m surprised they haven’t started calling him Otto — as in “Otto” Craddick.

So nevermind being civilized.

Just wait till he’s not there. Then send a moving crew of members into his posh 2,000-square-foot apartment behind the House chamber, and leave his stuff out on the Capitol lawn on bulky trash day.

Today the House reconvenes, at 11 a.m. Quite a few more of us will be watching.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sparrow makes statement on Bush's statement on Gonzales

ABC's Ann Compton reports: An outdoor news conference in perfect spring weather, with birds chirping loudly in the magnolia trees, is not without its hazards.

As President Bush took a question Thursday in the White House Rose Garden about scandals involving his Attorney General, he remarked, "I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doin' the job."

Simultaneously, a sparrow flew overhead and left a splash on the President's sleeve, which Bush tried several times to wipe off.

No word on whether the on-the-sleeve incident can be successfully cleaned in the White House spin cycle.

Video here:

Ron Paul: Rudy needs to read up

I just love the way Dr. No is making the GOP crazy:

"I'm giving Mr. Giuliani a reading assignment," the nine-term Texas congressman said as he stood behind a stack of books that included the report by the commission that examined the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. ...

"I don't think he's qualified to be president," Paul said of Giuliani. "If he was to read the book and report back to me and say, 'I've changed my mind,' I would reconsider."

Among the books on Paul's reading list were: "Dying to Win," which argues that suicide bombers only mobilize against an occupying force; "Blowback," which examines the unintended consequences of U.S. foreign policy; and the 9/11 Commission Report, which says that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was angered by the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Another book on the list was "Imperial Hubris," whose author appeared at the press conference to offer support for Paul.

"Foreign policy is about protecting America," said author Michael Scheuer, who used to head the CIA's bin Laden unit. "Our foreign policy is doing the opposite."

A Giuliani campaign official could not confirm whether he had read any of the books on Paul's list.

Since an assortment of lunatics on the right fringe were incensed by Paul's insinuations after last week's Republican pukefest debate, I'll look forward to more sputtering indignation from over there in short order.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Has Lampson been "chosen"? Is Watts anti-choice?

The two early "front-runners" for the right to challenge John Cornyn in 2008 have been generating some undesirable blog coverage of late. To wit, my friend Boadicea:

As Rep Nick Lampson continues recovering from his heart surgery, he's making plans for his political future that seem likely to leave a lot of his supporters in the district very unhappy.
The Battle for TX-22 was a hard fought one in 2006. Replacing a wounded Delay (who left the race after the primary in vain hope of allowing the RPT to name a successor) took the combined efforts of a determined candidate, the DCCC and other established Dem powers, and bloggers and other activists sowing blue seeds in a determinedly red district.
One of the frequent questions at house parties dealt with the "carpetbagger" meme the right wing was smearing Lampson with. In response candidate Lampson always said he was not running as a one off, but to be the Rep from TX-22 for many years to come.
Now incumbent Rep. Lampson seems preparing an altogether different tune, as the rumors swell that pressure is on to clear the field to anoint him as the Senate candidate against beleaguered John Cornyn (R-Box Turtle).
Not only is he preparing for different race, but apparently having exhausted his rolodex looking for a Dem to step in and run, he's now wooing a Republican, Tom Abraham, to crossover and run on the Dem ticket. What are the odds?

I attended the Texas Democratic Party's town hall last Saturday at the University of Houston, and it was obvious to me that Lampson was being anointed as the party's standard-bearer for the Senate '08.

I like Nick Lampson. A lot. I first voted for him when I lived in Jefferson County in the '80's when he ran for tax-assessor/collector. I went to high school with one of his nieces; we were in drama classes and UIL competitions together. I've known Nick for decades, and I have supported his candidacy for every office he has stood for.

But he won't be my choice for Senator.

He's run to the left and governed to the right as a Congressman, both in the 2nd as well as the 22nd. He supports the war in Iraq, opposes cutting off the funding for it, and has had observed difficulty declaring his unqualified support for women's reproductive freedom. He is beholden to the consultantocracy for their help in getting him back to Washington, and he's leaning heavily on their advice again as he plans his next promotion (look for him to announce around June 1).

Like my man David, I want the people to decide who runs, not the elites.

Which brings me to super-lawyer Mikal Watts, late of San Antonio, and even though the bipartisan Texas Shark Watch hates the guy (which usually earns a person stars in my ledger) RG Ratcliffe's entry today at the Chronic's very good Texas Politics blog has more disturbing news. Under the headline "Is Mikal Watts an anti-abortion Democrat for the US Senate?"
A Republican recently told me that San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts was doing a poll to explore a 2008 race challenging the re-election of Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.
The poll supposedly included a question like: If you knew John Cornyn was pro-choice, would you support a pro-life Democrat for U.S. Senate?

Austin pollster Jeff Smith confirmed that he was polling for Watts, but he said what was reported by the Republican was a "distortion" of the question on the poll. However, Smith declined to describe the language used in the poll, saying it was proprietary information belonging to Watts.

That was more than a week ago. Since that time, I have left repeated messages at Watts' law offices in San Antonio and Corpus Christi to ask him about the question on his poll.

Watts has yet to call me back.

So we can only wonder whether he's the Democrat in question in the poll; whether he's personally opposed to abortion but supports a woman's right to choose whether to have one; or whether he would run as an anti-abortion candidate?
Cornyn in 2003 received a 0 percent rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League, not exactly the "pro-choice" candidate the question implies.

I'd like a straight answer to the questions Ratcliffe is asking you, Mr. Watts.

And I'd also like to see our nascent populist movement for a people's candidate gain some traction by hearing the candidate announce his candidacy.

Update (5/24, a.m.): A commenter at the Chronblog link above notes that he took the survey in question, and the question ...
...if you knew Watts was a pro-life democrat, would this make you much more likely, more likely, etc.

This makes much more sense than having Cornyn's name and 'pro-choice' mentioned together.
Update (5/24, p.m.): Markos underscores ...
Cornyn is surprisingly unpopular. We can win this one, but not with Nick Lampson.

"Traders to the United States"

ABC News breaks the story of a CIA covert operation inside Iran:

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell The Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

And the FReepers respond. The comments following were posted at the link above and are quoted in their entirety, including lousy spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

David Reid thought we were opening trade negotiations:
"If it was a secret, it isn't any longer. I will turn off ABC News and never watch again.

I consider ABC News Traders to the United States"

Philip R. Cramer says:
"Seems you & the media will go to any extreme to show you bias agains the Bush Administration. Revealing classified operations is consorting with the enemy. I hope you can live with your tresonous actions!!!!!!"

concerned thinks Mr. Ross' stories are "obsured". How obsured?:
"Not so secret anymore is it? This is why more than half of the stories Brian Ross reports are obsured. If it's so secret how'd did your team get the scoop? Secondly, if it is true, you should be arrested for espionage."

At least Tim has learned to spell "morons":
"I hope they do destabelize the government of Iran. The stoy would be if you had suggestions for readers to HELP you morons!"

Margie Davis thinks that the President should put a stop to that pesky First Amendment:
"ABC News: Please stop helping our enemys. I don't understand why you would tell our business to everyone in the world. Mr. President can't we stop this reporting???"

Susan H. has a point here....somewhere:
"Wouldn't we rather be fighting a covert war to destabilze Iran than a war in the streets? If we were fighting a war in the streets in cities of Iran ABC would be bringing us the "dreadful" news every night."

stephen is, well, a little miffed:
"who thinks abc news and others are part to blame for our soliders being killed for leaking to m u c h information.. think about it, dont you think the bad guys watch and read this crap?"

stephen hare gives me pause. I'm not sure whether he is kidding or not:
"we want responsible news networks like fox news!!!!!!!! they would never stoop this low."

Nicole thinks we live in Latte Land:
"To anyone condoning ABC's action in reporting this story citing constitutional rights and freedom... I could ALMOST agree with you if we were in a DRAFT situation like Vietnam. At that time, men were FORCED to participate in the war. Today, you have BRAVE men and women CHOOSING to defend your country, your freedoms. Don't they deserve safety? While you sit and blog, thanking the press from your comfy desk or cafe laptop, take a moment to think outside of your latte land. Each day out there may be their last, and stories like this don't improve the odds. Think before you speak."

Finally, I have to agree with David Lemieux. Almost. Until...:
"Oh GOD! What do we do!!?? The Iranians knew nothing of our covert doings until YOU, ABC, decided it was fitting to foil our entire destabilization strategy. Let us, the real Americans, rise up with the force of Jehovah's thunder and take back our most holy country from the depraved media who seeks to destroy us with their treason, lies, and rap music. Grrrr. *side note* I almost posted this as is until I realized, unfortunately, that a slim majority of folks on here wouldn't sense the sarcasm."

There's more like this (if you can stand it).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Keeping us safe from the horrors of free expression

The Simpsons tore the administration and the media a new one for their 400th episode last night:

Friends, the press and the government are in bed together in an embrace so intimate and wrong, they could spoon on a twin mattress and still have room for Ted Koppel. Journalists used to questions the reasons for war and expose abuse of power. Now, like toothless babies, they suckle on the sugary teat of misinformation and poop it into the diaper we call the 6:00 News. Demand more of your government. Demand more of your press.

Commentator Kent Brockman went even further, revealing that the FOX network -- which has carried The Simpsons for all 400 episodes -- deliberately runs shows that will earn fines to funnel money through the FCC to the Republican Party.

Of course, Brockman couldn't bring himself to turn down the 50% raise to keep his mouth shut.

Earlier, Homer spilled a hot cup of coffee on Brockman, prompting the anchorman to blurt out "a word so vile it should only be uttered by Satan himself while sitting on the toilet." Asked why he was protesting, Ned Flanders replied, "Imploring people I never met to pressure a government with better things to do to punish a man who meant no harm for something nobody even saw."

Go watch.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Houston council candidate sued by his printer

I give Houston's most diminutive blogger a rough time, but in her capacity as MSM reporter she is quite often ahead of the curve the rest of us lowly keyboarders sit behind. She breaks this hilarious news:

Roy Morales, who is in the run-off race for City Council at large seat against Melissa Noriega, is being sued by a fellow Republican. And not just any Republican, he's being sued by the Bush/Cheney sign guy! Michael Franks, who is a big time R party printer for a gaggle of politicos, printed $1,700 worth of signs for Roy's LAST council campaign. A loss and a new election cycle later, Morales still hasn't paid him! At least according to court documents. There's a second suit filed as well, for alledged broken promise of giving Franks additional business. The amounts are small, both suits are less than $5,000 so they are in small claims court. I called the Morales campaign today, and its answer was: "What Lawsuit? We have no idea what you're talking about." Roy's campaign manager says neither he nor Morales had any idea what I'm talking about. The good news is, Roy and you can read the front pages of the lawsuits here, on my blog!

That this suit was filed in the middle of the runoff campaign season emphasizes how hapless the GOP is when it comes to municipal elections here.

Melissa Noriega is the only choice for my good neighbors (and the not-so-good ones, too).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

E Howard Hunt said LBJ did it

But then denied it again before he died. Via Easter Lemming, Rolling Stone has the last confessions of E. Howard Hunt, which reveal more of the perpetually-rumored plot to assassinate JFK, which has also been reignited in the MSM recently ...

One evening in Eureka, over a barbecue meal, St. John (Hunt's son) explains how he first came to suspect that his father might somehow be involved in the Kennedy assassination. "Around 1975, I was in a phone booth in Maryland somewhere, when I saw a poster on a telephone pole about who killed JFK, and it had a picture of the three tramps. I saw that picture and I fucking -- like a cartoon character, my jaw dropped, my eyes popped out of my head, and smoke came out of my ears. It looks like my dad. There's nobody that has all those same facial features. People say it's not him. He's said it's not him. But I'm his son, and I've got a gut feeling."

He chews his sandwich. "And then, like an epiphany, I remember '63, and my dad being gone, and my mom telling me that he was on a business trip to Dallas. I've tried to convince myself that's some kind of false memory, that I'm just nuts, that it's something I heard years later. But, I mean, his alibi for that day is that he was at home with his family. I remember I was in the fifth grade. We were at recess. I was playing on the merry-go-round. We were called in and told to go home, because the president had been killed. And I remember going home. But I don't remember my dad being there. I have no recollection of him being there. And then he has this whole thing about shopping for Chinese food with my mother that day, so that they could cook a meal together." His father testified to this, in court, on more than one occasion, saying that he and his wife often cooked meals together.

St. John pauses and leans forward. "Well," he says, "I can tell you that's just the biggest load of crap in the fucking world. He was always looking at things like he was writing a novel; everything had to be just so glamorous and so exciting. He couldn't even be bothered with his children. That's not glamorous. James Bond doesn't have children. So my dad in the kitchen? Chopping vegetables with his wife? I'm so sorry, but that would never happen. Ever. That fucker never did jack-squat like that. Ever."

And this:

That time in Miami, with Saint (St. John) by his bed and disease eating away at him and him thinking he's six months away from death, E. Howard finally put pen to paper and started writing. Saint had been working toward this moment for a long while, and now it was going to happen. He got his father an A&W diet root beer, then sat down in the old man's wheelchair and waited.

E. Howard scribbled the initials "LBJ," standing for Kennedy's ambitious vice president, Lyndon Johnson. Under "LBJ," connected by a line, he wrote the name Cord Meyer. Meyer was a CIA agent whose wife had an affair with JFK; later she was murdered, a case that's never been solved. Next his father connected to Meyer's name the name Bill Harvey, another CIA agent; also connected to Meyer's name was the name David Morales, yet another CIA man and a well-known, particularly vicious black-op specialist. And then his father connected to Morales' name, with a line, the framed words "French Gunman Grassy Knoll."

So there it was, according to E. Howard Hunt. LBJ had Kennedy killed. It had long been speculated upon. But now E. Howard was saying that's the way it was. And that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't the only shooter in Dallas. There was also, on the grassy knoll, a French gunman, presumably the Corsican Mafia assassin Lucien Sarti, who has figured prominently in other assassination theories.

The Stone's political blog National Affairs Daily continues the conversation. This site reveals the assassination as a mob plot; it is maintained by the retired G-man I had crawfish with one afternoon in Beaumont. I thought there was a post somewhere in the archives about this but I can't find it. Will have to recreate it if this business gets any more traction.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, May 19, 2007

By a nose, at the wire

Calvin Borel, riding Street Sense (right) looks at Robby Albarado, aboard Curlin, as the two horses cross the finish line at the Preakness Stakes today. Curlin caught the Kentucky Derby winner at the wire to win.

In the end it was just two riders from Cajun country barreling down the stretch. Stride after stride, from the sixteenth pole, the two horses traded the lead, and when they hit the line together, Curlin bobbed his head in front when it counted most.

The day couldn't have been any more dramatic for Albarado, 33, of Lafayette, La., who won the first Triple Crown race of his career.

Two races before the Preakness, he fell off his mount, Einstein, in the Dixie turf stakes after stumbling over a fallen horse in front of him. The fallen horse, Mending Fences, suffered a broken ankle and was euthanized on the track.

Albarado walked away uninjured from the accident, but when the gate opened for the Preakness, he almost had another mishap.

Curlin stumbled briefly before Albarado righted him and worked hard to get involved in the race. Asked if his heart sank when he saw Curlin's front knees buckle at the start, winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, "Probably a little bit more than a little." ...

Borel, who grew up in St. Martin Parish, La., turned to Albarado just as they crossed the finish line and told his rival, "You got me," Albarado said.

"I had no idea where [Street Sense] was, but I thought he'd be coming," Albarado said. "Street Sense flew right on by me, but I got [Curlin] off his left lead and went and got him."

"I thought it was all over when I got by Hard Spun turning for home," Borel said. "I thought he was just going to gallop, but things happen. He just got to gawking 40 yards from home and he just got outrun."

Moore v. Thompson (and TIME vs. the Right)

TIME is really pissing off the Right lately (or at least this little guy, anyway).

A lengthy interview with Al Gore and an excerpt from his new book, and now this Q&A with Michael Moore about his new film SiCKO, on the health care and pharmaceutical ripoff industries:

TIME: With Sicko, do you think you picked an easy target? After all, you can’t find a whole lot of people who are happy with their HMO.

Michael Moore: This film does cut across party lines. Everybody gets sick; everybody has had a problem with insurance or the prescription drugs they’re supposed to be taking or an elderly parent who needs care. On the surface, it does seem that the only people who are going to be upset are the executives of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

TIME: So if there’s no argument that the system is broken, why use your energies to start one?

Michael Moore: Because what’s even more broken is the fact that our Congress and White House are bought and paid for by these two industries, which rival the oil industry in terms of money and influence. They have a vested interest in maintaining their control. But they’re not dumb. They know which way the wind is blowing and that this is the No. 1 domestic issue with Americans. Their job now is to try to control it so that universal health care is run through them, so that they can still skim the money, make the obscene profits and keep their investors happy.

TIME: Of the declared presidential candidates, down to the Dennis Kucinich level, say, who do you think has the best health-care plan? Including Kucinich? We could include him.

Michael Moore: Then Kucinich, but he doesn’t go far enough. He supports what he’s calling a single- payer nonprofit plan, but from my read, it would still allow [private] entities to control things, as opposed to the government. What’s wrong with the government? The right wing and the G.O.P. have done a wonderful job brainwashing people that government doesn’t work, and then, as Al Franken says, they get elected and proceed to prove the point. [Laughs.]

TIME: So you think Washington could handle a program this big?

Michael Moore: Ask anyone on Social Security if their check comes on time every month. Like clockwork. And it comes through the so-called dilapidated U.S. mail. My dad’s check literally will come on the same day every month. The government has been quite good and efficient at creating a number of systems. If I tell people the administrative costs for a private health plan —advertising, p.r., executive pay —are 20% and ask them what Medicare’s administrative costs are, they’ll guess 50%, 60%. The fact is, for Medicare/ Medicaid, it’s 3%. The last figure I read for Canada’s [government] system is 1.7%.

TIME: Your movie paints an almost utopian picture of the Canadian system. You do show some American critics arguing that there can be long waits for treatments north of the border, and you refute them simply by interviewing a handful of happy, satisfied Canadians. Pretty unscientific, no?

Michael Moore: Canadians as a whole are pretty happy with their system. Yes, it’s a flawed system, and the main flaw is that it’s underfunded. The [in-depth] answers exist in articles and essays, and I’ll have them up on my website.

TIME: You also speak rhapsodically about the French and Cuban systems and travel to Cuba, where you interview Che Guevara’s daughter. France, Cuba, Che. Are you going out of your way to annoy the right?

Michael Moore: I give people more credit than the media and the political machine running this country do. The story line is: France, bad; France, cowards. What crime did France commit? We wouldn’t have had this country without their support in the Revolution. They gave us that statue that sits out in New York Harbor. They responded immediately after 9/11. And they remain eternally grateful for what we did during World War II.

As for Cuba, yes, when I’ve got a film crew there, they’re going to show us their best. But there’s a reason the World Health Organization ranks their health-care system [among] the best in the Third World and that people from Latin America come there for their health care. There’s also a reason Cubans live on average a month longer than we do. I’m not trumpeting Castro or his regime. I just want to say to fellow Americans, “C’mon, we’re the United States! If they can do this, we can do it.”

TIME: What was the hardest thing about making this movie?

Michael Moore: Getting insurance. How do you convince an insurance company to insure a film about insurance? I finally found this guy who’s got a little company out in Kansas City. I think he’s the only Democrat who owns an insurance company.

TIME: Do you think people will accuse the movie of inaccuracy?

Michael Moore: I offered $10,000 to anybody who could find a single fact in Fahrenheit 9/11 that was wrong.

TIME: Have you had to pay anything?

Michael Moore: No, of course not. Every fact in my films is true. And yet how often do I have to read over and over again about supposed falsehoods? The opinions in the film are mine. They may not be true, but I think they are.

After Moore challenged GOP presidential wannabe Fred "Law and Order" Thompson to a debate, Thompson responded with a YouTube video that had the conservative blogosphere in an orgasmic frenzy.

Moore's response was a straight one-liner: "Why would a potential presidential candidate provide photographic evidence of himself committing a felony?"

That's a law-and-order Republican for you.

McCain still won't get my vote

... even though he apparently speaks for me:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hasn't spent much time in the Capitol this year as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination. But one of his rare appearances this week provided a pretty salty exchange with a fellow Republican.

During a meeting Thursday on immigration legislation, McCain and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) got into a shouting match when Cornyn started voicing concerns about the number of judicial appeals that illegal immigrants could receive, according to multiple sources -- both Democrats and Republicans -- who heard firsthand accounts of the exchange from lawmakers who were in the room.

At a bipartisan gathering in an ornate meeting room just off the Senate floor, McCain complained that Cornyn was raising petty objections to a compromise plan being worked out between Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House. He used a curse word associated with chickens and accused Cornyn of raising the issue just to torpedo a deal.

Things got really heated when Cornyn accused McCain of being too busy campaigning for president to take part in the negotiations, which have gone on for months behind closed doors. "Wait a second here," Cornyn said to McCain. "I've been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."

McCain, a former Navy pilot, then used language more accustomed to sailors (not to mention the current vice president, who made news a few years back after a verbal encounter with Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont).

"[Expletive] you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," shouted McCain at Cornyn. McCain helped craft a bill in 2006 that passed the Senate but couldn't be compromised with a House bill that was much tougher on illegal immigrants.

Me to you too, Senator Box Turtle. With all the love in the world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ashcroft as Brando, Bush as Sollozzo

The story James Comey recounted is scary enough as it is, but this, via Prairie Weather, is just too much:

So the next evening, the White House -- probably the President himself, by Comey's account -- calls Mrs. Ashcroft, and implores her to allow Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card to come to GW Hospital to persuade John Ashcroft, in his weakened and drug-induced post-operative state, to sign off on the program, i.e., to overrule Comey even though Comey is the Acting AG. Comey gets wind of the impending meeting at the hospital, and he rushes to a waiting vehicle to get to the hospital -- using emergency equipment! -- before the White House Chief of Staff and Counsel get there. Comey (literally) runs up the hospital stairs to Ashcroft's room. While Comey is waiting for the two high-ranking White House officials to arrive, he calls the Director of the FBI for support, and then the FBI Director speaks to the AG's security detail and -- this is the best part -- "instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me [Comey] to be removed from the room under any circumstances"!

Yes, if you think this sounds familiar, it is -- it eerily resembles the scene in which Michael Corleone "protects" his father at the hospital in The Godfather. With Jack Goldsmith as Enzo the Baker, and Alberto Gonzales as McCluskey the crooked cop. The President, of course, is Sollozzo. Comey would be Michael, except that he's a good 14 inches taller than Al Pacino . . . . Oh, and then there's the bit about how Comey refuses to meet with Andy Card -- the President's Chief of Staff! -- at the White House without an unbiased third party witness (SG Ted Olson -- aka Tom Hagen/Robert Duvall).

And this is how the law is settled these days in the executive branch of the greatest democracy in the world.

P.S. It's probably safe to say this is the first time in history that anyone has ever drawn a parallel between John Ashcroft and Marlon Brando.

Is it too much to hope that McCluskey and Sollozzo get whacked in an Italian restaurant again?

Texas Lege shenanigans continue

The House may throw out the Speaker -- or not, and the Senate will probably kill democracy at the ballot box, before the 80th ends but almost certainly in a special to be named later.

Craddick's woes:

Burka, Kuffner, Leibowitz, Eye on Williamson. And The Observer.

Dewhurst's folly:

BOR, NTL, STC, and TK.

And many others. The MSM blogs -- Postcards and TP -- have been good on the topics as well.

I am never embarrassed to be a Texan, except when the Legislature is in session.

Hillary outpolls "Other" but trails "No Freakin' Clue"

Who is currently your favorite 2008 candidate?

7%1247 votes
6%1035 votes
6%1051 votes
24%4223 votes
39%6878 votes
8%1484 votes
2%510 votes
0%134 votes
0%135 votes
3%531 votes

Similar results at MyDD, though Richardson and Obama trade places for second and third.

John Edwards 1,992 (48.4%)
Bill Richardson 1,086 (26.4%)
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH __________________________ :
Barack Obama 686 (16.7%)
GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG _____________________________________ :
Other 105 (2.6%)
III ____________________________________________________ :
Hillary Clinton 92 (2.2%)
BBB ____________________________________________________ :
Mike Gravel 48 (1.2%)
E ______________________________________________________ :
Chris Dodd 37 (0.9%)
C ______________________________________________________ :
Unsure 28 (0.7%)
J ______________________________________________________ :
Dennis Kucinich 23 (0.6%)
F ______________________________________________________ :
Joe Biden 17 (0.4%)

In all of the terrestrial polling -- which matters more than the results shown above -- Hillary is the leader, and is strengthening her lead. Sheila J-L just announced her endorsement, which I consider significant (in that she called it so early and not for Obama).

So while the Repubs continue to flail and flog each other, the offline Democrats appear to be coalescing around their front-runner.

This is a depressing and disconcerting prospect.

I will find it difficult to impossible to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton for president, as much as I respect and admire her (and believe she would be an excellent commander-in-chief). I find the Senator from New York too conservative for my taste, as I did her husband, and I further believe she is toxic to our down-ballot races in Texas, which would probably prevent Democratic candidates from unseating undesirables like John Cornyn, John Culberson, and many others.

She wouldn't campaign here except to fly in and out of Austin and probably someone's home in River Oaks, leaving with several million dollars to spend anywhere but Texas.

Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket sets Texas Democrats back another generation. I cannot support her candidacy -- even if she is the nominee -- on that basis alone.