Thursday, November 29, 2007

So long, Rudy

Is there any Republican politician out there who just has normal, run of the mill sexual relationships? Any one at all?

No gay airport bathroom propositions, no asking underaged congressional pages to email you their penis size, no secret visits to prostitutes in multiple states? No divorcing your cancer-stricken, hospitalized wife in order to better carry on an affair with someone else? No weird sex trysts overlooking the smoldering ruins of New York's ground zero, or billing your secret mayoral booty calls to the budgets of city agencies tasked with helping poor people? No meth-addicted gay sex while preaching about the horrors of gay sex? No calling your coworkers at night while masturbating, telling them how much you'd like to falafel them up in the shower? No shoving pictures of fetuses in people's faces, or taking their own daughters into "chastity vows", or pontificating about the dangers of man-on-dog relationships?

Seriously, is this why Republicans are always so obsessed with governing everybody else's sex life -- because it's simply inconceivable to them that any two people would have a healthy, non-messed-up relationship?

Last night's YouTube debate questions were prepared well in advance of the breaking scandal yet it slipped in anyway; Giuliani denied all. That's not going to go over well with a GOP base having nearly nothing in common with a thrice-divorced cross-dressing librul.

And so, with the mayor's blood in the water, they each went at each other hammer and tong in St.Petersburg last night. First Mitt and Rudy over immigration, then later McCain and Ron Paul over Iraq, and later on McCain and Romney over waterboarding, and several skirmishes in between that appeared to this observer to give Mike Huckabee a star turn. He did the best job of avoiding questions with laugh lines that I've seen. And I thought Fred Thompson and McCain did well enough in comparison to the other loons to warrant a second look by the indecisive GOP voter.

Romney and Huckabee stand to benefit the most from the fast-approaching conclusion of the Giuliani campaign. Maybe McCain, although he still has a deep hole to climb out of. Perhaps it opens the door a bit wider for Dr. No.

But those madcap libertarians are pretty unpredictable, so who really knows?

Julie Mason had the live-blog. As one commenter there noted: "Mars and the Stars and Bars. And not one question on health care."

Update: Who's Playin' (Norman Fell! Precisely!) and Texas Moratorium Network (Preach it, Huck!) have quick opinions and video snippets.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Remember that Democrat in CD-07?

A few years ago he was a Republican, last week he told us he was a Democrat, but today he's an independent. Here, you can read his press release for yourself:


Truitt says he'll run as Independent Candidate for Congress

The ink was barely dry on his first press release when John Truitt issued a statement reversing its message, saying he will run for US Representative from the 7 th Congressional District in Houston as an Independent, not a Democrat.

"The Democrats I talked to were very helpful and supportive," says Truitt; "but I'm really more of an Independent who's pretty disgusted with the leaders of both the major parties. My supporters are just plain fed up with politicians who put their party's interest ahead of what's good for the country. We believe i t's time to put our country first and stop all the partisan bickering in Congress, particularly while we're at war. If I'm lucky enough to get elected as an Independent, I'll work with all parties to find smart, sensible solutions to the real problems our country faces today."

The official web site of the Truitt for Congress Committee is It outlines his "7 Ways We Can Do Better If We Pull Together " and includes links to his plan for "swift, successful completion of our mission in Iraq", his resume and articles on various issues.

Truitt acknowledges he has no real organization and very little political experience, or money to fund a campaign. The business consultant and award-winning author says he does get a lot of support from a listening audience that grew during his four years on the air as CNN's "Radio Rebel" talk show host. He says his basic campaign strategy relies upon a lot of footwork on his own, plus the help of loyal listeners, friends, like-minded contributors, campaign workers and volunteers he hopes to recruit along the way.

Good luck with that, buddy.

Solidarity for striking writers

Thanks, HuffPo:

... 30 Rock's Tina Fey and Jack McBrayer, SNL's Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, plus Sex and the City's Kristin Davis, The Office's Rashida Jones, The Player's Tim Robbins, The Color Purple's Danny Glover and Michael Emerson, aka the Creepy Guy from Lost. rallied in support of the writers, Oh, and special guest star John Edwards! "This is all about fairness, it's about opportunity, it's about making sure those who create the work that generates revenue actually gets to share in that revenue," said Edwards.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some Texas electoral postpourri

-- Tonight's Texas Progressive Alliance conference call guest was Dan Barrett, the lone Democrat in a field of seven challengers in Fort Worth's HD-97. He was also the leader in votes tallied, and his challenger, Mark Shelton, is coming under harsh (and legal) scrutiny from other Republicans in the district for his negative robo-calling at the end of the campaign.

-- Last week Charles Kuffner, Muse, and I had lunch with CD-07 Democratic challenger John F. Truitt, who is taking on entrenched incumbent John Cumbersome. Truitt had a radio program in Houston and was a Republican before coming to the light. He's got an idea about getting our soldiers out of Iraq:

Americans have the right to know if the people of Iraq want our troops in their country before investing more blood and treasure. Today our troops are held hostage by partisan bickering in Washington and the Iraqi government’s inability to act. Bush and the Republicans are stuck with “stay the course” and the Democrats can’t come up with a plan that doesn’t require the President to retreat and admit his failures. If the Iraqi leaders won’t get their act together, then we should go over their heads directly to the Iraqi people. Instead of demanding timetables for withdrawal which are automatically subject to a Presidential veto along with “surrender” and “cut and run” derisions, Congress should insert language that requires the Iraq government to hold the following referendum within the next three to six months as part of any Iraq spending bill.

This would be a very astute diplomatic move by the American government. By asking the people of Iraq to decide when foreign troops leave their country instead of American politicians, we don’t seem so arrogant. We can prove to the world our good intentions as well as our faith in Iraq’s democracy by asking for a referendum on the presence of coalition forces as soon as possible. The ballot should read precisely as follows:

“US & Coalition Forces would like to redeploy our troops outside of Iraq (nearby for aid in emergencies) over the next six months unless you want us to remain. Respecting the democratic rights of the Iraqi people, we ask: Do you invite US and Coalition Military Forces to stay in Iraq as guests of the Iraqi people for another year to maintain security and help rebuild your country? Yes ____ No ____”

If as expected the people of Iraq vote “no”, we can leave as promised, showing confidence in the democracy we created and leave behind, as well as respect for the wishes of the Iraqis. Realistically, if the people don’t want us in their country we cannot be effective. Remaining thereafter would only increase the resistance, tensions and violence, while sending more of our troops home in flag-draped coffins. By letting the Iraqi people decide if they’re ready to handle their own security or not, coalition forces can either leave or stay with honor.

-- Via eight feet deep and KFDM, attorney Larry Hunter will take on HD-19 Michelin Man look-alike Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton for the right to represent three counties in Southeast Texas in the statehouse.

I have more than a passing personal interest in this one, as Hunter is from my hometown and his firm handles a few estate matters for my family. He's got a solid resume' of getting elected in the district and has some ability to self-fund as well as raise money from a thick list of contacts. The district is considerably more purple than many in suburban and rural Texas, and Hamilton under-performed the other Republicans on the ballot in 2006. Those circumstances make HD-19 ripe to flip in '08. Update: Kuff has more about Hunter and Hamilton in a post which leads with the news that toll road lover and on again/off again Craddick ally Mike Krusee won't run for re-election in Williamson County's HD-52 . Diana Maldonado has already declared for the Democratics.

-- Finally, if you're interested in attending the 2008 Democratic national convention as a delegate, then you need to attend the workshop this Saturday in Houston to understand what's required of you to qualify.

Monday, November 26, 2007


n. 1. a person who believes in the doctrine of the freedom of the will
2. a person who believes in full individual freedom of thought, expression and action
3. a freewheeling rebel who hates wiretaps, loves Ron Paul and is redirecting politics

Some thoughtful reading in between your Cyber Monday work blahs and online shopping:

How to make sense of the Ron Paul revolution? What's behind the improbably successful (so far) presidential campaign of a 72-year-old 10-term Republican congressman from Texas who pines for the gold standard while drawing praise from another relic from the hyperinflationary 1970s, punk-rocker Johnny Rotten?

Establishment conservatives have played the Nazi card on Paul. So if they despise him, I suppose he can't be all bad. Though he is pretty nutty:

A former Libertarian Party presidential candidate, he has at various times called for abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA and several Cabinet-level agencies. A staunch opponent of abortion, he nonetheless believes that federal bans violate the more basic principle of delegating powers to the states. A proponent of a border wall with Mexico (nativist CNN host Lou Dobbs fawned over Paul earlier this year), he is the only GOP candidate to come out against any form of national I.D. card.

A pro-war Democrat actually challenged Paul in his 2006 Congressional re-election bid; that's how weird Texas gets sometimes. Anyway, the neoconservatives hate him ...

Republican pollster Frank Luntz has denounced Paul's supporters as "the equivalent of crabgrass . . . not the grass you want, and it spreads faster than the real stuff." And conservative syndicated columnist Mona Charen said out loud what many campaign reporters have no doubt been thinking all along: "He might make a dandy new leader for the Branch Davidians."

When conservatives feel comfortable mocking the victims gunned down by Clinton-era attorney general Janet Reno's FBI in Waco, TX in 1993, it suggests that a complacent and increasingly authoritarian establishment feels threatened.

There's even been speculation that he will join forces with Dennis Kucinich on an independent label. Fantasy for some and nothing more, IMHO.

Ron Paul is going to be a source of nearly constant amusement to me, I believe.

Trent Lott cuts and runs

Mississippi's other senator was widely rumored to be the one stepping down, but the former Senate majority leader beat Thad Cochran out the door:

No reason for Lott's resignation was given, but according to a congressional official, there is nothing amiss with Lott's health. The senator has "other opportunities" he plans to pursue, the official said, without elaborating. Lott was re-elected to a fourth Senate term in 2006.

Lott's colleagues elected him as the Senate's Republican whip last year, a redemption for the Mississippian after his ouster five years ago as the party's Senate leader over remarks he made at retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party in 2002. Lott had saluted the South Carolina senator with comments later interpreted as support for southern segregationist policies.

Lott also publicly broke with Bush after that incident, saying in his book Herding Cats that the president's rebuke was "devastating... booming and nasty."

So now what happens?

Mississippi's Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, will appoint Lott's replacement, who will serve until the 2008 elections, when voters will elect someone to serve out the balance of Lott's term, which runs through 2012. Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi, a former Lott aide who recently announced his retirement from the House, is widely seen as a potential successor. Pickering could not immediately be reached for comment.

Daily Kos has speculated about Democratic possibilities, including AG Mike Moore, whose name was mentioned before Cochran declared his intentions to run for re-election. An open seat makes this another chance for Senate Democratics seeking the 60-seat majority that overcomes presidential and Republican obstruction.

There's a small downside: MS would be a less expensive pickup opportunity than Texas, and some DSCC money that might come Rick Noriega's way could be redirected. But that's political fodder for another day. Today is to celebrate the departure of one more of a bad Lott of Republicans from the US Senate.

Update: DHinMI observes that it's all about the greed.

The DMN and the Alliance's Weekly Wrangle

As muse observes, the liberal Texblogosphere is getting more and more mainstream attention, and the article in today's Dallas News focuses on our little Alliance, next summer's Netroots Nation convention in Austin (see ad at right), our little PAC, and where we're headed with all of that. Having noted our growing prominence we can segue into this week's TPA Blog Round Up, compiled as always by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Dealing with recalled toys that contain lead is putting a damper on charities' holiday toy drive efforts. Muse discovers some charities are not accepting toys or are throwing donations away.

Despite the Dallas Morning News article claiming the Texas Railroad Commission is stepping up Barnett Shale inspections, an injection well in North Texas remains seriously out of compliance. TXsharon has pictures, history and solutions at Bluedaze.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston compiles an obvious list of who won't be President in 2009: Any GOP candidate. The Republicans must have worked overtime to find this bunch of losers. White. Old. Dull.

McBlogger takes a brief look at the concerns of a Republican Bexar county commissioner who doesn't realize the Republican Party of Texas is already known as the Tolling Party of Texas.

North Texas Liberal reports on President Bush's loss of an ally in prime minister John Howard of Australia, whose Liberal Party lost handily to the Labor opposition in Saturday's elections.

The Texas Cloverleaf visited Capitol Annex for Thanksgiving with a guest blog about Turkey, Football, and JFK. Oh my!

Off the Kuff looks at mass transit versus highways for dealing with traffic congestion.

Vince at Capitol Annex reprises his holiday tradition begun last year by reprising his Laws of Thanksgiving--with a 2007 update.

In "Giving Thanks for the Corporations", PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has a few choice words from David Van Os, Jeff Cohen, and John Edwards.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson notices the conspicuous absence of Rep. Mike Krusee since a rumor surfaced that he may be retiring in Where's Krusee?

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes Lyndon Johnson was right, but demographics are having the last laugh.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Funnies (late and long edition)

Hillary Clinton and the politics of disappointment

Paul Loeb offers a pretty accurate assessment of my own sentiments these days:

When Democrats worry about Hillary Clinton's electability, they focus on her reenergizing a depressed Republican base while demoralizing core Democratic activists, particularly those outraged about the war, and thus maybe lose the election. But there's a further danger if Hillary's nominated -- that she will win but then split the Democratic Party.

We forget that this happened with her husband Bill, because compared to Bush, he's looking awfully good. Much of Hillary's support may be nostalgia for when America's president seemed to engage reality instead of disdaining it. But remember that over the course of Clinton's presidency, the Democrats lost 6 Senate seats, 46 Congressional seats, and 9 governorships. This political bleeding began when Monica Lewinsky was still an Oregon college senior. Given Hillary's protracted support of the Iraq war, her embrace of neoconservative rhetoric on Iran, and her coziness with powerful corporate interests, she could create a similar backlash once in office, dividing and depressing the Democratic base and reversing the party's newfound momentum.

I had forgotten that happened with her husband. I do recall that he put his wife in charge of universal health care right off the bat, and the blowback was immediate and severe ...

Think about 1994. Pundits credited major Republican victories to angry white men, Hillary's failed healthcare plan, and Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America." But the defeat was equally rooted in a massive withdrawal of volunteer support among Democratic activists who felt politically betrayed. Nothing fostered this sense more than Bill Clinton's going to the mat to push the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Angered by a sense that he was subordinating all other priorities to corporate profits, and by his cavalier attitude toward the hollowing out of America's industrial base, labor, environmental and social-justice activists nationwide withdrew their energy from Democratic campaigns. This helped swing the election, much as the continued extension of these policies (particularly around dropping trade barriers with China) led just enough Democratic leaning voters in 2000 to help elect George Bush by staying home or voting for Ralph Nader.

1994 was a time before my political activism; I was working hard and long hours on my corporate career (having moved from Midland to St. Pete, FL and then to Houston in '92, 3, and 4) and while I had successfully converted from republican to Democratic in the wake of the post-Reagan era, I wasn't paying particularly close attention beyond reading the newspapers, Newsweek and such. So while Loeb accounts for his grassroots experience in Washington state as evidence of the disillusionment of enthusiasm by liberal activists, I just can't verify that was the case in Houston or Texas. I wasn't on the ground. Let's pick his point back up, though:

To prevail in close races, Democrats need enthusiastic volunteer involvement. This happened in 1992, and then again in 2006. If Hillary is the nominee, she's likely to significantly damp this involvement, especially among anti-war activists. She'll also draw out the political right in a way that will make it far harder for down-ticket Democrats in states like Kentucky and Virginia where the party has recently been winning. She might not win at all, despite Bush's disastrous reign.

Recall my many postings about Texas Democrats down-ballot from Her. Though I think Loeb is wrong about her losing.

But even if she does, she is then strongly likely to fracture the party with her stands. She talks of staying in Iraq for counterterrorism operations, which could easily become indistinguishable from the present war. She backed the recent Kyl-Lieberman vote on Iran that Senator James Webb called "Cheney's fondest pipe dream." She supported the bankruptcy bill and the extension of Bush's tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. If her contributors are any guide, like those she courted in a $1,000-a-plate dinner for homeland security contractors, she's likely to cave to corporate interests so much in her economic policies that those increasingly squeezed by America's growing divides will backlash in ways that they're long been primed to by Republican rhetoric about "liberal elitists." And if Democrats do then begin to challenge her, the relative unity created by the Bush polities will quickly erode.

Because the Republican candidates would bring us more of the same ghastly policies we've seen from Bush and Cheney, I'd vote for Hillary if she became the nominee. But I'd do so with a heavy heart, and a recognition that we'll have to push her to do the right thing on issue after issue, and won't always prevail. We still have a chance to select strong alternatives like Edwards (who I'm supporting) or Obama. And with Republican polling numbers in the toilet, this election gives Democrats an opportunity to seriously shift our national course that we may not have again for years. It would be a tragedy if they settled for the candidate most likely to shatter the momentum of this shift when it's barely begun.

That's pretty much me, right?

Sunday Funnies (early edition)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Opportunities lost and found

"Certainly, he (Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden) had a Heisman performance today," LSU coach Les Miles lamented. "Right now, there's a goal of our football team taken off the board and it's sad. ... Tonight, we'll be sick."

LSU may very well play a bowl game in New Orleans, but the one they were hoping to play -- the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 -- now looks out of reach.

That had to devastate most of the 92,606 fans who filled Tiger Stadium with earsplitting roars throughout this classic, then quietly filed out while the Razorbacks stormed the field in triumph after snapping the nation's longest home-winning streak at 19 games.

"It's really hard," Texas defensive back Brandon Foster said. "You never enjoy losing, but losing to the Aggies is just even worse."

The niece is likely celebrating, the nephew (the Aggie fish) probably just woke up with a hangover a couple of hours ago, and Mom (the LSU alum) probably is a little disappointed.

When has a team been ranked #1 twice in the same season and been knocked off twice?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give thanks for everything

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump,

May your potatoes 'n gravy have not a lump,

May your yams be delicious,

May your pies take the prize,

May your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off your thighs.

Off to spend the holiday with my wife's mother (relieving her caregivers so that they can spend the day with their families). And then to the Texas Renaissance Festival on Friday (we never go near a mall on the day after).

Limited to no access. See you on Saturday.

Giving thanks for the corporations

Thanks for nothing, that is. Some collected thoughts on the relentless creep of American fascism, starting with DVO:

Mainstream journalists are beginning to notice that $3 per gallon gasoline now looks routine and that it won't be too long before we see $4 a gallon.

Hmmm. Which candidate for Texas Attorney General said a year and a half ago that the 2006 escalation in gasoline prices was not a temporary up-tick and that the price at the pump would keep going up?

For approximately 20 years, from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, gasoline prices were relatively stable.

But in the late 1990s, the biggest of the giant Big Oil companies began to merge and create even more gigantic companies in a series of mind-staggering mergers. Exxon and Mobil; Shell and Texaco; etc. The continual escalation in gasoline prices of the past 9-10 years began with the beginning of the Gigantic Oil mergers and corresponds with the series of mega-mergers that took place over a few years' time.

These mergers naturally decreased competition. That was their purpose. When competition decreases, robber baron monopoly power increases, and unless there is government price regulation, prices go up. It is a rule of economic power as old as time. Instead of a free market, we end up with a monopoly market and a robber baron economy. It wasn't an accident that we ended up here. It is the very reason for the mergers.

Today, under the Clintonite-Bushite economy (sorry folks, some may find it hard to admit, but Big Bill opened the floodgates to the runaway monopoly economy), our government institutions protect monopolies from the people instead of protecting the people from monopolies.

As long as our public institutions continue to protect the monopolization that is at the root of the robber baron economy, there will be no end in sight for we the people from ever-worsening Giganto-Oil price squeezes - not to mention from the similar depredations of the Big Insurance, Big Health Care, Big Pharmaceutical, Big Toll Road, Big Banking, and other Big Robber Barons. And as long as we the people stand back and fail to take control of our public institutions, then those institutions will continue to protect the robber baron economy.

Isn't it time we get serious about taking control?

Let's see ... here's more on that Clinton angle:

The toughest brawl Bill Clinton was willing to wage (besides saving his own hide from impeachment) was against the Democratic base: for the corporate-backed NAFTA. Through the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Bill brought us far more media conglomeration than George W. He pardoned well-connected fugitive financier Marc Rich, while leaving Native American activist Leonard Peltier to rot in prison despite pleas from Amnesty International and others.

Hillary’s contribution to Clinton I was her botched healthcare proposal, a corporate-originated “reform” that would have enshrined a half-dozen of the largest insurance companies at the center of the system, and was so convoluted it never came up for a vote.

What we’ve seen of Hillary Clinton in the Senate and on the campaign trail suggests that Clinton II would indeed be a sorry sequel. Today she’s winning the endorsement of Republican CEOs, after having had (Rupert) Murdoch host a benefit for her at the Fox News building in 2006. Just as Bill Clinton’s spine achieved a rare firmness while battling for NAFTA, we recently observed in Hillary a rare passion and firmness on a single issue: her YearlyKos defense of lobbyists, including those who “represent corporations that employ a lot of people.”

And, via my other man David, my man John: "Corporate interests have literally taken over this government":

We need different kinds of leaders going forward. I'm giving thanks tomorrow for many things, and one will definitely be the wisdom of voters in 2008 to discern the difference between politics-is-business-as-usual, and to discontinue that program.

That's thanking in advance. Or paying it forward, if you prefer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Scott McLellan admits he is a liar

You're shocked, shocked you say:

To no one's surprise in a world where top White House aides with any president eventually write a book about it, former Press Sectetary Scott McClellan will be coming out with his volume in April.

It's called "What Happened" and its publisher, Public Affairs, at its Web site carries this brief excerpt:

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

*heavy sigh*

I suppose it's worth giving thanks for that he's not considering public office in Texas, like every other scuttling cockroach from W's misAdministration.

I think I'll update this post with responses to this revelation from the Right (as I find them).

(11/21): *crickets*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Week Wrangle

Here's the pre-Thanksgiving edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Blog Round-Up, compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

The Texas Cloverleaf examines the ongoing feud between TxDOT and NTTA -- this time the funding for the Hwy 161 project Dallas County may face its wrath. To toll or not to toll? That is TxDOT's question.

Hal at Half Empty wants to ask John Cornyn just one question: "When are you going to stop flip-flopping on a border wall?"

XicanoPwr reports on the noose found hanging from a scaffolding on separate occasions over at the Exxon Mobil facility in Baytown.

NYTexan at Bluebloggin discovers that some things will just never go away; Tom DeLay will launch an activist group. Two stellar citizens, DeLay and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, have teamed up to promote the Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM).

Kay Granger pretends to care about the environment by sponsoring an energy expo but TXsharon at Bluedaze points to her ZERO score on environmentally friendly votes and begs to differ.

Harris County election officials adjusted the vote at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, after Tuesday's final election results had been released to the media. The Democratic Party's observer, a long-time voting rights activist, was stunned to watch it happen. What does this mean for the integrity of electronic voting in all of Texas? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has questions without answers.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston reminds us that Texas is #1 in sucking with tuition for UT up by 63% since in 2003 in The high cost of college tuition deregulation: increases again.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme complains that Texas keeps money meant for hospitals in 'state funds'. You can hear the Republicans yammering for another tax cut.

Muse wonders why Tom DeLay can't seem to stay away from Fort Bend County when he is supposed to be a Virginia resident. His new Coalition for a Conservative Majority kicks off there and has Ken Blackwell as its chair. Yeah, that Ken Blackwell; SOS in Ohio during the 2004 elections.

Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger asks What part of "interfaith" was not clear? in his post detailing the actions of Hyde Park Baptist Church.

Why can't Rudy Giuliani talk about baseball any more without pandering? Off the Kuff takes a look at his latest shenanigans.

Vince at Capitol Annex explores Texas Congressman Ron Paul's "surge" in the polls and in online contributions and wonders why his Republican supporters haven't bothered to examine his terrible record on behalf of the middle class in Texas.

WhosPlayin brings back the Texas Dim Bulb Award for Cracker-Barrell Craddick.

On The TexasBlue, David Gurney explores the total absence of integrity displayed by the religious right's endorsements of Giuliani and Thompson.

Easter Lemming watched the Pasadena mayor's race candidate forum in some amazement: How often do you hear a Texas candidate say: "He's just told me the position pays $102,000. I had no idea. If I had known that, I would have put out more yard signs." And Easter Lemming gets the candidate to reply in the comments.

Texas Toad of North Texas Liberal explains why the Chicken Pickens of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth owes Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a sum of $1 million.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Funnies II

And you still wonder why we're in Iraq?

Martha Rosenberg at Alternet devastates Dead-Eye Dick:

While most people are lamenting the violence in Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan and Iraq, apparently it's not enough bloodshed for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Last month in a caravan of 15 sport utility vehicles and an ambulance -- no jokes, please -- Cheney made his way to Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club, about 70 miles north of New York City, near Poughkeepsie, for a day of controlled bloodletting.

Cheney landed at Stewart Air Force Base and took off the following day for the upscale gun club at a cost of $32,000 for local law enforcement officials who guarded his hotel, protected his motorcade and diverted school buses. ...

Some hunters say shooting the pellet-ready tame animals, which offer no resistance, is like having sex with a blow-up doll.

But others say hunting itself is like sex with a blow up doll and that the 10 percent decline in hunters seen in the United States since the late '90s -- from 14 million to about 12.5 million -- coincides exactly with the debut of impotence drugs like Viagra.

Still for the veep to pursue his addiction to the "programmed massacre of scores of tame, pen-raised birds" despite all the "negative publicity it has generated for him" suggests a deep psychological disorder, writes Gerald Schiller in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Especially since criminologists have long recognized that premeditated, sadistic treatment of animals is a strong predictor of criminal and homicidal violence.

Sociopaths Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Speck were both big on animal cruelty. And they weren't running foreign policy.

The entire article will disgust you even further. It's way past time to impeach this sorry bastard. The country literally cannot stand another day of him.

Sunday Funnies I

Friday, November 16, 2007


Continuing on an earlier theme...

Proceed to the website for for more hot action. N all that SFW.

Oh yeah: Roger Ailes is the News Corp. executive who asked Bernie Kerik's paramour, publisher Judith Regan, to lie about their relationship while Kerik -- now under indictment for corruption -- was being vetted for his nomination to be director of Homeland Security. All of which was done to protect the presidential viability of one Rudy Giuliani.

Is conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation illegal?

And I just thought Fox was vile for employing Hannity and O'Reilly.

"They referred all questions to their attorneys..."

"... but it was clear from their body language that the two had not shared the same bed for quite some time."

(caption winner)

Line of the evening goes to Dennis K:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio took a direct shot at fellow White House hopeful former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina at Thursday's CNN Democratic presidential debate.

"In the last debate, Hillary Clinton was criticized by John Edwards for some trade-related issue," said Kucinich. "But the fact of the matter is, John, you voted for China trade understanding that workers were going to be hurt. Now, you're a trial lawyer, you knew better."

When given the chance to respond, Edwards said, "I'm not sure what being a trial lawyer has to do with it."

Kucinich quickly shot back "product liability."

"Cute," Edwards responded before emphasizing the need to stop big corporations from lobbying the federal government."

I heard Edwards say "Cute, Dennis. Cute."

Kooch was the only candidate on the stage to qualify his support for the eventual Democratic nominee. I think this signals a third-party run for him.

Looks to me like Hillary won the evening, not only because the media is all saying so, but because Obama stumbled again on driver's licenses for undocumenteds and Edwards ... well, Edwards got knocked around a few times and even booed by the very pro-Hillary audience.

Her competition is busily conceding Nevada to her.

Inevitability creeped back quite a bit last night.

Update: Hal's got a take I agree with.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The latest suck from Faux News

Robert Greenwald has documented the atrocities:

Whoring for Rudy G also:

Of all the allegations contained in former ReganBooks Publisher Judith Regan's lawsuit against her one-time employers at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., the most explosive is the first. Regan charges that News Corp. executives wanted to destroy her reputation because she knew too much about her ex-boyfriend, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, and that what she knew could be harmful to the presidential hopes of Rudy Giuliani -- whom she depicts as the preferred candidate of News Corp. and its subsidiary, Fox News. According to Regan's suit, "This smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.'s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions."

I had a conversation yesterday with a hard-boiled conservative acolyte who noted his concern about a Clinton presidency as the discussion had turned to wiretapping Americans. This is what he wrote, when I asked him why he favored government surveillance for "terrorists" and didn't realize he had been caught in the sweeping net:

Actually yes, I have a few things to hide....

My offshore bank accounts when Hellory tries to take away all of my assets to redistrbute; My guns when Hellory tries to remove the 2nd Amendment. My medical information when Hellory decides I am not capable of choosing who my medical provider is; my internet and radio, when Hellory decides I should not read or listen to what I want; my voting record when Hellory decides I need to be "re-educated" becuase I prefer to think for myself.

Leaving aside the rhetorically failing ad hominem bastardization of her name (as well as most of the other paranoid drivel), I wanted to inquire as to the lack of concern for Dick Cheney's expansion of the unitary executive concept that lay at the heart of his paranoia, but chose instead to reassure him that nobody was going to be taking his guns away. (That right-wing myth gets trotted out every four years, have you noticed?)

He backtracked, responding that the Washington Post was no honest source of information.

Yes, a denizen of Fox News questioned the reliability of the nation's capital's most respected newspaper. But please note the Mukasey-tortured logic inherent in this conversation: how powerfully dishonest must a person be to believe that Hillary Clinton is going to take away their guns, yet faced with the evidence that the Bush administration has been wiretapping them, refuse to believe THAT?

I mean, "monumentally stupid" just seems too mild a description. Yet that is the precise finding of the research that reveals FOX news viewers are the most uninformed in America:

The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland conducted a thorough study of public knowledge and attitudes about current events and the war on terrorism. Researchers found that the public’s mistaken impressions of three facets of U.S. foreign policy — discovery of alleged WMD in Iraq, alleged Iraqi involvement in 9/11, and international support for a U.S. invasion of Iraq — helped fuel support for the war.

While the PIPA study concluded that most Americans (over 60%) held at least one of these mistaken impressions, the researchers also concluded that Americans’ opinions were shaped in large part by which news outlet they relied upon to receive their information.

As the researchers explained in their report, “The extent of Americans’ misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who receive most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions. These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience.”

Almost shocking was the extent to which Fox News viewers were mistaken. Those who relied on the conservative network for news, PIPA reported, were “three times more likely than the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions. In the audience for NPR/PBS, however, there was an overwhelming majority who did not have any of the three misperceptions, and hardly any had all three.”

You know, this is really embarrassing. For the United States of America, I'm talking.

What do you suppose we ought to do about the willful and arrogant ignorance of the conservatives among us? Or would anything we might do be the equivalent of teaching a pig to sing?

An Academic All-American

Dorrell, who maintains a 3.65 gpa in finance, has enjoyed success both on and off the volleyball court. A four-year starter for the Lady Razorbacks, she became the 12th player in program history to tally 1,000 career kills. She has since moved up into the 10th spot and will likely overtake the ninth position this weekend.

Niece-y was selected to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-American Team for District 6, University Division, second team (.pdf).

Looks, brains, and a hell of an athlete.

All in the family. =)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Outrage fatigue? Get over it.

Mark Morford speaks for me:

I know how it is. You've had it up to here. There are only so many stories about blood and death and pain you can take, only so many times you can hear about random shootings and corporate malfeasance and how BushCo's squad of scabrous flying monkeys have, say, supported torture or endorsed wiretapping or gouged the nation for another $200 billion to pay for a failed war. Your nerves are raw and your heart is tired and the media will just not shut the hell up already about the sadness and the war and the mayhem and the Cheney and the doom doom doom.

It is outrage fatigue, and it is epidemic. It's that feeling that we are being hammered unlike any time in recent history with so many appalling and disgusting and violently un-American incidents and scandals and manipulations that our b.s.-detectors are smoking like an old V-8 engine on a hot summer's day and it's all we can do to get up every day without screaming.

What's more, it's not the mere quantity of moral insults, either. It's the bizarre absurdity of the subject matter, the things we are being forced to consider, or reconsider, that seem to make it all so horrific.

Torture? Are you kidding? Allegedly the most civilized, the most morally aware nation on the planet and we are still debating, in the highest courts and government offices in the land, about whether the United States should strap human beings to gnarled metal benches in rancid foreign bunkers and inflict such inexplicable terror and fear upon them that they confess to things they didn't even do just to get us to stop? Is this the Middle Ages? Are we regressing back to the goddamn cave?

It's mornings like these that make it plainly evident to me that our republican democracy is on borrowed time. And there's even less time remaining to lament its disappearance.

Adjusting the Vote

I was too ill to perform my duty as the Democratic observer at the Harris County central counting office last week, so at the last minute I asked John Behrman to stand in for me. And look what he saw:

The county Web site already showed that all precinct totals had been counted; three sheriff's deputies who guarded the counting process on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building in downtown Houston had been sent home.

Also in the locked, glass-walled room were Republican (Harris County Clerk Beverley) Kaufman and John R. Behrman, a computer expert and longtime election observer representing the Democratic Party. He said he considers Kaufman's staff the most knowledgeable election computer administrators on the continent and does not question their motives.

But Behrman said he was shocked when he saw (county elections administrator Johnnie) German use a series of passwords and an "encryption key" — a series of numbers on a nail file-size computer memory storage device — to reach a computer program that said "Adjustment."

"A hundred percent of precincts reporting, and everything had been distributed to the press," he said. "Then and only then did I see how they were going to do this, and frankly I never thought it was possible.

"Basically it turns out, without regard to any ballots that have been cast, you can enter arbitrary numbers in there and report them out in such a way that, unless you go back to these giant (computer) logs and interpret the logs, you wouldn't know it has been done."

Hart InterCivic has converted nearly the entire state of Texas to e-Slates. What do you think the security of your ballot might be in a rural county -- where there ain't too many folks who know much 'bout computers?

But the real value is in the largest counties in the state, where manipulating the tally -- say, in an $800 million bond election -- has a chance for a real payoff. For a few insiders.

Who needs to hack the vote when you can just bribe a county elections official?

Why do you think several states have decertified Hart InterCivic's e-Slates for use?

And it's easy to understand the nonchalance of Republican officials and Republican-appointed judges, but why do you suppose it is that Houston's Democrat mayor (and rumored candidate for governor in 2010) , Bill White, doesn't really care about this problem?

Update (11/15): Charles Kuffner digs deeper, including this comment from Rice professor Dan Wallach, one of the country's foremost authorities on voting machine technology:

So, indeed, Hart has multiple lines of defense. Unfortunately, every one of them is incorrectly engineered, rendering the system entirely vulnerable to compromise. Of course, I am not stating that any such compromise has ever happened in Harris County. What I am saying is that the design of the Hart system is entirely insufficient to prevent such attacks, should a competent attacker wish to make them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Express Checkout

The Crowne Plaza in the Texas Medical Center ate it Sunday morning.

There was a big crowd watching, they served Dynamite Bites; I'm just sorry I missed being on the scene. My wife slept through the boom-boom-boom of the detonation, and all I could see from my living room window was the big cloud of dust that arose and then drifted away to the north.

I spent a weekend in the ballroom of that place doing my est Training in 1984. It had a horrible parking garage, so narrow you could barely make the turns, even in my Plymouth Laser. Later that same year we met my wife's cousin Salomon for dinner there; he was down from Brooklyn for an anesthesiologist's convention.

A few years from now that space will be home to a huge maternity ward.

This Swamplot fellow has all the dope (thanks to Kuffner for the tip, who also notes the demise of another landmark building in New Jersey).

Quoteworthy and Excerptilicious

"The death penalty ... says that to kill in certain circumstances is acceptable, and encourages the doctrine of revenge.

"If we are to break these cycles, we must remove government-sanctioned violence."

-- Desmond Tutu, writing in The Guardian ahead of a vote on a draft resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a moratorium on executions

The Age of Dinosaurs ended roughly 65 million years ago with the K-T or Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, which killed off all dinosaurs save those that became birds, as well as roughly half of all species on the planet, including pterosaurs. The prime suspect in this ancient murder mystery is an asteroid or comet impact, which left a vast crater at Chicxulub on the coast of Mexico.

Another leading culprit is a series of colossal volcanic eruptions that occurred between 63 million to 67 million years ago. These created the gigantic Deccan Traps lava beds in India, whose original extent may have covered as much as 580,000 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers), or more than twice the area of Texas.

Arguments over which disaster killed the dinosaurs often revolve around when each happened and whether extinctions followed. Previous work had only narrowed the timing of the Deccan eruptions to within 300,000 to 500,000 years of the extinction event.

Now research suggests the mass extinction happened at or just after the biggest phase of the Deccan eruptions, which spewed 80 percent of the lava found at the Deccan Traps.

-- "Double Trouble: What Really Killed the Dinosaurs"

Baseball's free-agent supermarket opens for business today, and Astros general manager Ed Wade apparently will be making offers to closer Francisco Cordero, second baseman Luis Castillo, pitcher Randy Wolf and several others.

Wade won't say how much money he has to spend. He'll just say that he has enough to do the things he needs to do.

Hearing this, I wanted to ask if Drayton McLane still owned the Astros. But Wade is new in town, and with us still being on speaking terms and all, I asked if he'd had the special at Irma's.

Besides, they say people can change, and maybe McLane has decided he likes spending money. Or maybe he has decided he doesn't like the way Minute Maid Park looks when it's empty in October.

--Richard Justice, in the Chronic

The Thought Crime Bill

Designated H.R.1955 and titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007, it is an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jane Harmon [Dem-CA] and overwhelming approved by the House on 23 October by a 404 to 6 vote.

Some people have called this the “thought crime bill”, and they are not exaggerating ...

This is the first terrorism-related legislation that specifically targets U.S. citizens and the vagueness of the wording is a dangerous threat to the First Amendment and to each of us in ways that have not been attempted before in the United States. The definitions in the bill hold the frightening keys to the undermining of our most basic liberty - to speak freely [bold emphasis is the O.P.'s]:

“VIOLENT RADICALIZATION - The term ‘violent radicalization' means process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change."

The difficulties here are that “extremist belief system” means anything the government wants it to mean as does the word “facilitating.”

“HOMEGROWN TERRORISM - The term 'homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Any variety of citizen activists or organizations could be found in violation if this bill becomes law. Operation Rescue could be prosecuted under this aegis. As could CodePink.

The warning again, and your action item:

It is not extreme to say that unless you want to find out what it was like to live in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union under Stalin or Italy under Mussolini where any "wrong" thought and word could make a citizen subject to arrest and worse, this bill must be stopped. Write, email, telephone your senators and get everyone you know to do so too. You can easily do that here. It might be prudent too to ask the senators who are running for president how they will vote on this bill.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Weekly TexProgBlog Wrangle

Time for this week's Texas Progressive Alliance's Texas Blog Round-Up, brought to you once again by Vince from Capitol Annex.

TXsharon at Bluedaze sounds an alert about an investigative report exposing the Most Toxic Substance on Earth and the Barnett Shale gas exploration.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is disgusted with UT Southwestern Medical Center's policy of using state funds to give the 'elite' special treatment while the rest of us languish.

McBlogger wants to know why Barney Frank is loving on big banks in Kill The Mortgage Market bill, HR 3915.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men says be on the lookout for how credit card and home mortgage lenders will screw you by making you pay debts you don't actually owe.

Muse finds herself in the middle of a massive police presence and wonders if she has wandered into a manhunt. Nah, not an escaped convict, just W in town to get slobbered on by his lapdog, John Cornyn, at a fundraiser.

At Half Empty, Hal questions whether Congressmen Lantos' and Smith's excoriation of Yahoo! chiefs for releasing information to the ChiComs is just the pot calling the kettle black.

Burnt Orange Report is all over the runoff for HD-97. Todd Hill gives an analysis of on the ground action and why Democrat Dan Barrett came in first place to secure a spot in the runoff. Phillip Martin breaks down the numbers and price-per-vote, while also looking at some possibly illegal practices by the Republican in the runoff, Mark Shelton.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston writes about state representative John Davis being slapped by the ethics watchdog. Again.

The Texas Cloverleaf's hide is chapped by the abolishment of the hide inspectors and calls for a new Texas Constitutional Convention.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin points out how the Bush administration shows their support for veterans and the troops in US Tax Dollars NOT Spent on Homeless Veterans - Words Are Cheaper.

Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal fills us in on Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson's announcement of the delay in the sale of the Christmas Mountains, as well as the reaction of Environment Texas.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos tells that gigantic slurping sound from a few acres of scrub in north Texas was just T. Boone Pickens stealing water rights.

Vince at Capitol Annex has some reservations about the fact that the Bill White 2010 bandwagon is already rolling down the tracks.

WhosPlayin takes a look at an aspiring new "non-partisan" political party - the GOOOH party.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News had one of his (in)famous what I did election day posts.

PDiddie is fed up with Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and intends to support only members of the Democratic Party such as Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards. He clarifies the distinction in "The Democrat Party vs. the Democratic Party", at Brains and Eggs.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson has video of the TCRP's Scott Medlock discussing Williamson County, T. Don Hutto, & CCA.

Off the Kuff does a little after action review by examining his election day predictions to see how they turned out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Late Sunday Funnies

Early Sunday Funnies

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, after four years of bitter war, an armistice between the Allied powers and Germany went into effect, bringing the fighting of World War I to a close. Today we celebrate the anniversary of that cessation as Veterans Day.

More than 1.5 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan so far, and every one of them volunteered. As Tom Lynch, a military fellow at the Brookings Institution, said:

"Perhaps never before in American history have so few done so much for so long."

For many newly-returned troops, this is their first Veterans Day spent as veterans. Help welcome them home by attending a local Veterans Day event ...

The Veterans for Peace (VFP) Chapter 12, Houston will be marching in the Veteran’s Day Parade through downtown Houston on Sunday, November 11. The parade will last from approximately 12:30 PM until 1:30 PM. VFP would like a strong turnout behind our flag and banner to show the citizens of Houston that we are pro peace in an unprecedented time of war and turmoil. Please join us today.

Assembly Time: Between 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Assembly Place: Corner of Prairie and Louisiana
Entry Name: Veterans for Peace
Entry Number: 120
Complimentary Parking; In any of the Theatre District Garages

... or if you know a vet personally, take a moment and thank them.

You can write your own message of thanks to our veterans by clicking here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer 1923 - 2007

Mailer at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He wrote series of articles for Esquire on the 1968 Democratic and Republican conventions which were the basis for his book “Miami and the Siege of Chicago.”

Gore Vidal, with whom he frequently wrangled, once wrote: “Mailer is forever shouting at us that he is about to tell us something we must know or has just told us something revelatory and we failed to hear him or that he will, God grant his poor abused brain and body just one more chance, get through to us so that we will know. Each time he speaks he must become more bold, more loud, put on brighter motley and shake more foolish bells. Yet of all my contemporaries I retain the greatest affection for Norman as a force and as an artist. He is a man whose faults, though many, add to rather than subtract from the sum of his natural achievements.”