Monday, March 31, 2008

The "quandary" of Hillary's supporters voting for Obama

Unlike Merle in the toon above, there sadly remain far too many Reagan Democrats who haven't learned after 8 years of Bush that dancing with the GOP is hazardous to their economic and physical health. The problem is that the world can't wait any longer for them to figure it out.

It took a Depression to wise up their ancestors; maybe that's what it will take to do so again. In 2008 the presidential election quite obviously has more of a racial component than ever before, but that still isn't quite at the heart of the matter.

Here it is: Suburban and rural white people (and Latinos, especially in Texas and the Southwest) had better bury whatever resentment they may harbor about a young black man running for President long enough to vote Democratic in November, or we will all continue to suffer at the hand of the Republicans.

And that's because conservatives -- neo- and paleo- and all epochs in-between -- despise poor and middle-class people equally, irrespective of skin color.

Post-County Conventions Wrangle

(The weekly Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up is compiled from submissions by member blogs.)

This past Saturday TXsharon of Bluedaze attended the Barnett Shale Expo and heard the lies told by John Tinterra of the Texas Railroad Commission in front of citizens who pay his salary and in front of his boss, Victor Carrillo. That reminded TXs of a quote from Cold Mountain: "That man is so full of manure we could plant him and grow another one!"

McBlogger's never been a big fan of tax abatements to lure new companies to Austin. He's even less thrilled with them when they are being used to entice developers, especially developers who can't seem to make their finances work without the abatements.

Off the Kuff takes one last look at primary voting in Harris County, this time examining Democratic turnout by state rep district.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson previews the GOP runoff in HD-52 in The Same Only Different.

Over a thousand Harris County voters took "vote twice" too seriously, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Hal at Half Empty will vote in the Democratic primary runoff, to be sure, despite the fact that only one race will appear on his ballot. The tables are turned and the Republicans in CD 22 have a much more juicy decision to make. Oh, to be a Republican.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News turned it over to his brother Jim for a few odd links as he was getting ready to be tired out at the third step of the Texas Two-Step. Earlier in the week, Gary got his dander riled at racist media conservatives.

nytexan at BlueBloggin tells us that keeping 378 delegates and 275 alternates under control is like herding cats in It’s Great To Be A Democrat In Texas at the Senatorial District 18 Bastrop County Convention.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Evening Funnies

Taking the high road

"My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants," Obama told reporters in Johnstown, Pa. "Her name's on the ballot, and she is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best president."

So who am I to argue against that?*

He added, "I think that, you know, she should be able to compete and her supporters should be able to support her, for as long as they are willing or able." And that could be into early June, through all 10 remaining primaries, Obama said. "We will have had contests in all 50 states plus several territories. We will have tallied up the pledged delegate vote, we will have tallied up the popular vote, we will have tallied up how many states were won by who, and then at that point I think people should have more than enough information to make a decision. "

Yes, they will. Now the pivot:

He downplayed the notion that an extended contest could bruise the eventual winner, to Republican Sen. John McCain's advantage. "I think that the notion that the party's been divided by this contest is somewhat overstated," Obama said. "There's no doubt that, among some of my supporters or some of her supporters, there's probably been some irritation created. But I also think, every contest you've seen, in every state -- huge jumps in Democratic registration, including independents and Republicans who are changing registration to vote in the Democratic primaries. You know, those are people who are now invested in what happens. And I think that bodes very well for us in November."

Pretty smart thing for Obama to do. Dismiss his competitor as quixotic while at the same time turning his attention to John McSame.

If he spends more time disregarding the politics of personal destruction Mrs. Clinton and her surrogates continue to practice while sharpening his attacks against his eventual fall opponent, he automatically rises in stature.

* I probably still will, just for the record.

Sunday Funnies. So?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Skelly v. Culberson

A good update on the race for CD-7 from Miya Shay:

Update (3/30): Miya's follow-up blog entry:

"I believe that if we don't get my re-election numbers into the 60s percentage, then every Republican in Harris County could lose." Culberson says that's why the Democratic party is running such a rich guy, basically to beat him down ... and bring the Repub party along. In essence, he says he can still win his seat, while Harris County repubs lose all of theirs. He also says that if his winning percentage isn't high enough, John Cornyn could lose his Senate seat. So basically, in his view, the survival of the Republican ticket depends on re-electing him ... and thus, donating money to make him competitive against Skelly.

Ah Hahahahaha

Update II: Charles piles on.

Dave McNeely on Bob Bullock

Bob Bullock, the legendary late Texas lieutenant
governor for whom the Texas State History Museum is
named, was a legend in his own time. He still is,
almost nine years after his death.

He died June 18, 1999, less than five months after his
final term ended as the Senate's powerful presiding
officer. But Bullock stories are still told by the
thousands of people who worked for and around him as
state comptroller and lieutenant governor.

Bullock legacies – besides the museum in Austin,
dedicated in 2001 -- include the refurbished Texas
State Cemetery on East 7th Street, and the Bullock
Collection at Baylor University in Waco.

What many consider one of his biggest legacies is
President George W. Bush, the Republican who Democrat
Bullock endorsed not just for re-election as governor
in 1998, but also for president.

Bullock didn't make Bush president. But he could have
made Bush's gubernatorial record, which was a
cornerstone of Bush's initial run for the presidency,
a shambles had he chosen.

Instead, Bullock became Bush's bipartisan talisman,
which Bush used to show he had reached across party
lines in Austin, and would in Washington.

After Bullock's widow Jan introduced Bush at the
Republican National Convention in 2000, and praised
Bush's bipartisanship, Jim Henderson and I decided to
write a book about Bullock. "Bob Bullock: God Bless
Texas" was published by the University of Texas Press
in February.

It's the unlikely tale of the once hide-bound partisan
Democrat becoming one of the biggest advocates of a
Republican for president.

It's also about how he got in a position to be a Bush
enabler: making it to the state's second-highest
office, after 16 years as Texas tax collector and
overseer of whether the Legislature' s budget could be
met, despite a reputation for boozing, womanizing,
being investigated by state and federal officials, and
delivering to just about anybody tongue-lashings so
blunt, blistering and raw that he could make grown men
cry. Literally.

There are also many stories of Bullock's incredible
generosity, helping people who had no way to ever
repay him.

He and the late former Gov. Ann Richards were
political allies and drinking buddies. Her drinking
stopped in 1980, after she went to what Bullock called
"drunk school." He followed suit a year later.

Bullock was elected lieutenant governor in 1990. In
the same election, Richards won the governorship – a a
job he'd said several times he wanted, to the point of
announcing for it in the early 1980s. Inside a year,
he was treating her with disdain.

The late liberal columnist Molly Ivins, close friends
with both, said Richards had gotten the job he always

"Bullock was never fair to Ann, and treated her very
badly, mostly out of intense envy," Ivins said in a
2005 interview. "She could get elected governor and he

In fact, his treatment of her was often so brutal that
she refused to be interviewed for our book -- probably
because it was a no-win situation, even after his

If she told the truth, it would look like sour
grapes. If she gilded things, few who knew them both
would believe the sanitized version.

Bullock demanded information from Richards and her
staff as though they worked for him, not her. His
harsh demands were nasty enough that they refused to
honor them.

By contrast, Bush fed Bullock's hunger for
information, including gossip. The two quickly became
friends, which met a mutual need.

Texas is one of the few states that do not organize
along party lines like Congress. Bush knew that with
Bullock and Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney
overseeing Democratic majorities in the House and
Senate, to get any of his modest programs passed would
require their help.

At the same time, with the Senate steadily trending
Republican, Bullock knew it didn't hurt to have the
arm of the state's number one Republican around his

Yet It was a genuine friendship, and Bullock made no
secret of his belief that Bush could do as much for
Texas as Lyndon Johnson had.

Instead, the Bush presidency quickly evolved into one
of the most divisive, secretive and partisan in

Bush obviously found Washington a rougher, meaner
place, with ingrained partisanship and a Congress with
many members who thought they could do a better job,
and some actively seeking it.

What Bullock might have thought of Bush's tenure as
president – the war in Iraq, tax cuts in the face of
huge budget deficits, the heavy-handed redistricting
in Texas – will have to be argued by Bullock loyalists
and historians.

We've tried to do justice to the biography of the most
controversial and earthy Texas politician since
Bullock's role model LBJ. We hope you like it.

Books are available at bookstores, by calling UT Press
at (800) 252-3206, or online at
http://www.utexas. edu/utpress/ books/mcnbob. html.

Update: Peggy Fikac has more.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Taking "vote twice" too seriously

A sample of sources on the announcement that over 1100 Harris County residents voted twice. Literally:

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman told reporters this morning that as many as 1,147 people voted twice in the primary earlier this month. Of course, if voters do that "knowingly," they can be prosecuted, and Kaufman is sending a list of names to the Harris County District Attorney's Office.


Some of them, she says, voted in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Others, she says, voted twice in the same primary.

And more from the Chron:

The list included two groups: 759 voters like Duran who appear to have voted in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. An additional 389 people appear to have voted during the early voting period, and again on election day.

The intense campaigning in Texas, with slogans telling people to "vote twice" or do the "Texas two-step" may have confused people, Kaufman said.

Two interpretations of the facts. First, Mrs Kaufman: “I’m convinced that there are some instances where people had strong feeling on both sides of the aisle where they wanted to vote for a candidate on both ballots thinking they wouldn’t get caught.”

And Gerry Birnberg, the Harris County Democratic Party chair: “Those people who actually voted in the Republican primary and then tried to mess with Democratic primary committed crimes, and they should be prosecuted.”

Recall that I wrote earlier about speaking with someone who is probably on the list at the DA's office.

More to the point: which group of voters do you suspect would have been motivated to vote in both the Democratic and Republican primaries? Let's see, wasn't it Rush Limbloat who urged his sheep to cross over and vote for Hillary in the Democratic primary? Surely Rush's Houston following wouldn't be so eager to follow their leader as to break the law, would they?

Maybe they thought: since this is Texas, only the "Democrat party" would be investigated for "vote fraud."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Clinton effect downballot

This has been my axe to grind for quite some time, as regular readers will attest. But there have been protests from some quarters that there is no empirical evidence (i.e., polling) to reflect the accuracy of the postulate that Clinton negatively impacts downballot races.

Let's overlook the assumption that polling is empirical for the moment -- it may be math but it's less science than people claim -- and just consider the history. Chuck Todd (bold emphasis mine):

Simply take a look at Bill Clinton's record from '92 to '00 and you’ll understand why they're having a harder time corralling party activists and elected officials to their side.

Remember, when his name was on the ballot ('92 and '96) the Democratic party lost Senate seats both times. Never mind the beating the party took in '94; a walloping often blamed on both Bill and Hillary.

Even in '98, which was, perhaps, the most successful Congressional election of the Clinton era, the party netted zero Senate seats and gained less than a handful of House seats.

It's not exactly something to brag about.

While there are plenty of unknowns about Obama’s ability to truly expand the base of the Democratic Party, there are plenty of superdelegates who think they know Clinton couldn't rise to that very same challenge.

Nineteen ninety-four was the year Newt Gingrich and hundreds of other Republicans swept into Congress on the wings of "The Contract With America". 1994 was the last year there was a Texas Democrat in a statewide executive office. More about the real differences between an Obama nomination and a Clinton one from my favorite frog:

Provided that Obama receives the nomination after winning the pledged delegate count, there is no reason for 'Latinos, perhaps part of the Jewish and Catholic vote, certain women and working-class Democrats' to lose confidence in the process. Their preferred candidate simply lost. It happens.

But if Obama wins the pledged delegate count and still does not gain the nomination, his supporters (most especially but certainly not limited to African-Americans) will be deeply, deeply disillusioned with the process. Even if Clinton were to catch up in the popular vote (a near pipe-dream, but nonetheless) it would offer some measure of mitigation, but not nearly enough to avoid a gross sense of injustice. ... African-American turnout in the general election will be severely depressed, and the damage will be lasting.

Black turnout is absolutely critical to any Democratic statewide run for office in states like Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Latino turnout can be critical in some states, too, but (there is) no argument for why Latino turnout would be severely depressed by a legitimate Obama nomination.

Obama may have a different base than Clinton, but if we are going to do an honest analysis, we have to ask which constituencies are going to stay-home or vote for McCain because Obama won the nomination (in their eyes) illegitimately. The answer is, of course, none. Obama has the conventional and legitimate claim to the nomination. Clinton's claim is based on non-traditional and non-conventional arguments. Her claim is an electability argument, which can wax and wane depending on the day.

Are there some Jewish, Catholic, white working class, and female voters that will vote for Clinton and not for Obama? Certainly. Of course, the opposite is also true. But the operative question is why will they or won't they vote for Obama? If it is not because of the perceived illegitimacy of his nomination then it isn't really relevant, is it?

So, why won't blacks vote for Clinton if she is the nominee? For starters, it is because she will have won unconventionally, and on the argument that Barack Obama is unelectable. Why is he unelectable? Well, currently the Clinton campaign is saying he is unelectable because he has connections to an urban black church and a controversial pastor. That is an argument that, whatever its objective merits, is a straight rebuke of the legitimacy of African-Americans as Americans. To win, Clinton will have had to convince the overwhelmingly white superdelegates that Obama's connections to the black community render him unacceptable to the broader general electorate. They cannot win any other way.

Is there any sense in which Obama's nomination is dependent on convincing the electorate that Clinton's gender renders her unelectable? No. First of all, Obama has already secured the nomination in the traditional sense, and he doesn't need to make extracurricular arguments about electability. But, secondly, his campaign has always (until recently) argued that Clinton is fully qualified to be president and has never to my knowledge raised her gender as a negative in this campaign (either overtly, or covertly).

There are going to be some women that think Clinton was treated unfairly in this process because of her gender, but very few of them will be able to harbor the kind of lingering resentment toward the Obama campaign that would preclude them from supporting him in the fall.

At this point in the process, the legitimacy of Obama's nomination is so established by The Math that the Democratic Party has almost no choice but to nominate him. To fail to do so would destroy the electoral viability of the party not only in the presidential race but in statewide downticket races all across the country.

The electoral disaster of a Clinton nomination -- from the White House to the statehouse to the courthouse -- would be monumental. Every day that she is allowed to continue to caustically divide the party (with her rhetoric, her actions, and especially with those of her surrogates such as Howard Wolfsen and James Carville) worsens the odds of capturing the White House in 2008. It threatens our legislative majoritiess in Congress -- well, perhaps even Hillary can't screw up the House -- and damages the state legislature and county courthouse chances of Democrats coast to coast. It bears repeating: someone must convince her to stand down, and the sooner the better.

There's still a month to go before Pennsylvania. How repulsive do you think it's going to get between now and then if this goes that long? Or longer?

The Audacity of Hopelessness

Don't blame me for that; it belongs to David Brooks (with whom I rarely agree). But there's still hope for Mrs. Clinton, because there remain at least these five ways she still leads Obama.

Then again, she's turning her Mitty Moment into a Macaca one.

But what really disappoints me is this kind of thing from my fellow blog hermanos y hermanas. Inflamed rhetoric from Clinton supporters in their last throes -- maybe Dick "So?" Cheney would call them bitter-enders -- is definitely going to have repercussions in the fall. What those are and how damaging they may be will be determined between now and then, of course.

So perhaps someone ought to offer Hill a Supreme Court slot or something.

You think that would work?

Monday, March 24, 2008


This morning.

A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000.

Meanwhile John McBush, who can't tell Shi'ite from shinola, "burnishes his foreign policy credentials" -- i.e., polishes a turd -- by traveling overseas for his photo ops, Joe Lieberman (kept close by to help John with his "senior moments") and Lindsey Graham in tow.

Just think: if President Gore was finishing up his second term in office right now, Vice-President Lieberman would be preparing to accept the Democratic nomination for President.

On second thought, maybe that reality is worse than this one. Except for the past seven years.

In local news, Col. Ann Wright will be at Brazos Books this evening to sign hers -- Dissent: Voices of Conscience -- Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq. I'm guessing our conversation will have a bit more focus even than anticipated. Some of us are invited to join her for a light supper afterwards, so I'll probably blog about that (if she lets me).

The Weekly Wrangle

Time once more for the Texas Progressive Alliance weekly blog round-up, compiled every week based upon voluntary submissions by TPA member blogs.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the primary vote for Democratic candidates in Harris County by statehouse district.

Dwayne Bohac: A Study in Rovian Politics from Texas Kaos takes a look at an incumbent Republican Rove clone and his basic hypocrisy. It uses his public utterances on "clean air" to hoist him on his own corporate petard.

The Texas Cloverleaf notes that TxDOT is handing out the awards, this time to Denton County Judge Mary Horn, for her "hard work" on building roads. But why do they note the projects that have never been completed?

CouldBeTrue notes that the Texas State Board of Education has 'better' things to do than represent Hispanic children.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News tells people: Happy Easter! Now suck it up. If that rant about economics goes more into hedonics than you ever wanted to know he also offers a link to explaining the credit crisis for kindergarteners.

Over at Doing My Part For The Left Refinish69 takes a look at the bigotry of homophobe Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma and wipes tears from his eyes as he reads a letter to Kern from a young man who knows what it is to lose a loved one.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson after reading through the headlines asks: Should Texas Be Worried About The Economy?

Hal at Half Empty has a bone to pick with Bush's presidential library committee. As planned on the SMU campus, not only will it cause the destruction of student housing and a strip mall, but the obliteration of a La Madeleine cafe boutique. Hal has an alternative suggestion.

For the Democratic primary runoff election (scheduled for April 8, with early voting commencing March 31) PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reiterates his endorsement of Dale Henry for Texas Railroad Commission and Larry Weiman for 80th Ciivl District Court of Harris County.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the federal government has asked the state to postpone the roll-out of the troubled food stamp eligibility screening computer program.

McBlogger at McBlogger take a look at the collapse of Bear Stearns and sees that JP Morgan Chase may have created the deal of the century.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin reminds us that our vice-president is on the war path again -- Cheney Stalks Middle East One More Time but the Saudi king is beating a different drum.

WhosPlayin talks about what it was like to work at the polls on primary election day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More Funnies


The Day She Knew She Had Lost (but characteristically still refused to admit it):

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton was back in Michigan, a full two months after its "primary," pleading with the state legislature to allow a revote in the state. As she stood in downtown Detroit, it was becoming increasingly clear that there would be no do-over and she looked for the first time as if she realized she had lost, in that typically defiant "I'll-drag-you-all-down-with-me" Clinton way. After all, she had staked whatever little she had left on a revote in a state in which fully 40% of the Democratic voters showed up on a cold January day to vote Uncommitted (ie, anyone but Clinton, the only name on the ballot), in which the most recent public polling shows her in a dead heat with Barack Obama, and where she had firmly backed the "disenfranchisement" she was now decrying. And even this slender straw of a revote was denied her: the extent of the despair is plain ...

Not being a politician, let alone a Clinton, it's hard to see what makes her stay in the race at this point. She appears somewhat less willing than her husband to alienate entire segments of the party, including many of the Congressional colleagues whose collegiality and support she will need soon enough. Perhaps like Bill, though, she has something to prove to her spouse: he needs to show he cares, and she needs to show that she can win. But shouldn't that be something for them to work out alone, without the future of the Democratic Party, of the U.S. government, and of the country itself at stake?

Who will tell her it's over?

Hillary's Walter Mitty moment.

The delegate count slipping away, the popular vote gambit gasping its last, her finances souring, and the corporate media finally tiring of talking about a horse-race-that-never-really-was ...

The facts of delegate math are finally dawning on the traditional media. Donors aren't filling her coffers with money at a rate that she can be competitive with Obama. As the media narrative catches up with the delegate math, the donors will be even less likely to give to her, further exacerbating her financial problems. With the delegate numbers nearly insurmountable, with the media declaring her candidacy nearing its end, with money running tight, and with more and more prominent Democratic leaders likely to join Richardson in calling for Democrats to unify and turn attention to defeating John McCain, the question becomes more urgent: when will Hillary Clinton admit that Barack Obama will be our Presidential nominee?

Booman has a few samples:

My theory on the campaign is that the Clintons cannot limp all the way to April 22nd when the logic/narrative puts them strictly in the role of party wreckers. The poison that will eventually erode Clinton's poll advantage is the cold hard truth that she cannot win a brokered convention. But, before that poison can work its way through the body electorate, the media must begin reporting the truth. This started yesterday when Ben Smith of The Politico reported that members of Clinton's staff privately acknowledge that she has no more than a 10% chance of winning the nomination. Mark Halperin continued the trend today when he listed Fourteen Painful Things Hillary Clinton Knows — Or Should Know. (Today) is Maureen Dowd's turn to push the narrative.

No need to excerpt MoDo again here this week. It's noxious and dead-on as usual. Speaking of nasty, here's the esteemed James Carville-Matalin with the last word, about the Richardson endorsement:

“An act of betrayal,” said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.

Geez, and all this time I thought it was Obama who was the Messiah. OTOH if Carville thinks Richardson is Judas, then he must be the Snake in the Garden of Eden.

Easter Funnies

Friday, March 21, 2008

Outrage-o-meter redlining

Honestly, some of the things that have been happening this week -- from Dick Cheney's "So?" to Obama's passport breach to Mrs. Clinton's continued slow-motion self-destruction, and her attempts to take down the entire Democratic Party with her -- have just left me a little fatigued.

(Really: when John McCain and Mike Huckabee denounce the Rev. Wright smear in stronger terms than she, and Bill Richardson endorses him, there's just nearly no saving face. She's not only lost this contest but she's also made sure there's no chance of her ever winning one in the future. This scorched earth will remain fallow for the rest of her life.)

The weather's too nice, the basketball tournament is too exciting, and the anticipation of baseball too great for me to spend time indoors getting mad.

So fuck a bunch of that; I'll be back later. Have a relaxing Good Friday and a Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday, One Hundred Year War

Today is March 19th. We celebrate five years of bloody war and torture based on lies. These lies came from Michael Ledeen and various neo-con insurgents like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, Douglas Feith and Dick Cheney, operating in the United States government at various agencies. ...

As time passed it became clear, to anyone who was interested enough to inquire, that the 9/11 attack was engineered by the same neo-cons who blamed the attack on Bin Laden. They have since used this non-existent threat from a small group of rag tag, Stone-Age Arabs to justify plunging the United States into fear and fascism while looting the countries coffers. As brief as this may be, it is the truth, just as nearly everything reported by the government and collaborating media is a lie. ...

...(A)las we celebrate not just deception and depravity beyond definition. We celebrate not just bloody war and torture. We celebrate the unimaginable blindness and intransigence of a collective public that willfully disregards evidence so compelling that one is mystified beyond endurance by the sheer scope of the ignorance in play. ...

The fear of speaking the truth because of the potential for ignominy and slander; because of the possibility of ostracism and loss of income tell us that cowardice and indifference have never been more rampant.

Today is March 19th. Today some portion of the people who are not asleep -or cringing in their beds- will step back from the dream machine and refuse to cooperate or contribute. Today, some smaller portion of humanity will put on the mask of V and they will celebrate their singularity in having seen behind the curtain. It will be no great victory because the mass of us will march forward under whips and inducements toward an increasing density and darkness of confinement and want.

There are no accidents here. The economic devastation; the bloody wars and torture, the calculated indifference following Katrina, the poisoned trailers, the vanishing bees, the tazer-bot police, the strip searches and jailhouse beatings, the secret prisons, the thought crimes, the fear, the rising fuel prices, the scarcity of grains, the spying and the suspension of constitutional rights are all intentional. There are no accidents here.

Let every person who is present on the planet today… let them every one look into their hearts and see what they have allowed. Let them see their sneering denial as it rises into their thoughts. Let them observe their fear which compels them to kneel before their oppressors in hope that they might be allowed to wield a club upon their fellows in exchange for the right to survive.

Across the globe, the indifferent rich sit in self-satisfied insulation from the horrors of the day. They sun and sail. They wine and dine. They cannot hear the cries of the victims of genocide and want. Millions of little fingers tap out inane text messages. They shake their booties to violent rhymes and talk about how “so and so is my niggah.” The world contracts and presses down. Fortunes change. Fortunes disappear. Hundreds of millions pushed beyond endurance no longer fear to die. Life is a far greater punishment. But there are a number of those who are fat and sleek and well ensconced and they… they do fear to die.

Let us see if we can shift the tide. It matters not if we do but that we tried. If today brings no great result then let us plan again. Sooner or later the conditions will demand an increase in our ranks and perhaps critical mass will be achieved. Evil is a constant and it always destroys itself. You cannot eradicate it but you can contain it. Balance must be restored.

The only way to hurt a psychopathic materialist is to deny him profit in his game. Today on March 19th we have a chance to do that. When enough of us stand back, he will be unmanned and unmasked. Everybody knows what they are up to. Change direction and move forward to a better world, or ... continue on to perdition. It really is up to you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boyd: "Losing, Hill? Sue me."

(It's hard to be snarky on a day when such a historical speech was made by the next President of the United States, but I feel up to the challenge ...)

Careful, Big Boy. You don't want to rush into Barack Obama's arms at least until after the memorial service for Bob Slagle (of whom the rumors of imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated).

Larry Weiman for 80th Civil District Court, Harris County

Also back on December 18th I wrote this about one of our finest potential judges locally:

Larry Weiman, 80th civil district court. Weiman is another of our returning judicial candidates, having garnered 48% in his 2006 run (just so you're clear on the size of Harris County's electorate, that 48% was 263,507 votes). Weiman's reputation as a potential jurist is so solid that Republicans recruited him to run in past elections, but with a long family history as a Yellow Dog Democrat, he declined to do so.

Weiman ran first ahead of three, with the third-place finisher having the heaviest voting record in Republican primaries. Weiman's challenger in the runoff similarly cast a ballot in a GOP primary in the recent past, though has admitted the error of his ways. Still Weiman's long history of Democratic service, not to mention his extensive experience, makes him the best choice in the April 8 primary runoff election.

"A More Perfect Union"

The entire text (with some emphasis by yours truly), courtesy Huffington Post:


"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Dale Henry for Texas Railroad Commission

(Note: Originally published the week before Christmas. Henry is in the primary runoff, with early voting commencing March 31, and Election Day April 8.)

In more favorite candidate news today, one of mine from the 2006 cycle announced his bid for the TRC: Dale Henry.

“The (Texas Railroad) Commissioners have just stuck their head in the sand when it comes to public safety and our environment. As a result of their failure to use their statutory authority to require gas companies to replace faulty couplings in the Dallas area, two elderly Texans have died. And, the commission has simply looked the other way as saltwater injection wells have polluted the water supply up and down the Barnett Shale region in North Texas and in other areas of the state,” Henry said.

My blog hermana TxSharon has covered the topic Barnett Shale pollution extensively. More on the oil and gas man who's concerned about the environment:

“It is pretty hard to properly regulate the oil and gas industry when you are taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from their political action committees and executives,” Henry said. “The Railroad Commission doesn’t rule for the public anymore, they rule for the people lining their campaign warchests. I will work to get legislation passed to prohibit Railroad Commissioners from taking money from the industries the Commission is supposed to regulate,” he said.

Here's Dale speaking at the Texas Democratic Party's 2006 convention:

Henry is by far the best choice for progressives in the April 8 2008 Democratic primary runoff for the Texas Railroad Commission.

Monday, March 17, 2008

W tap-dances while the economy joins the rest of the world in flames

The dollar’s crumpling, the recession’s thundering, the Dow’s bungee-jumping and the world’s disapproving, yet George Bush has turned into Gene Kelly, tap dancing and singing in a one-man review called “The Most Happy Fella.”

Yep, it's MoDO, turning her withering attention back to the Moron-In-Chief.

He began by laughingly calling the latest news on the economic meltdown “a interesting moment” and ended by saying that “our energy policy has not been very wise” and that there was “no quick fix” on gasp-inducing gas prices.

“You know, I guess the best way to describe government policy is like a person trying to drive a car in a rough patch,” he said. “If you ever get stuck in a situation like that, you know full well it’s important not to overcorrect, because when you overcorrect you end up in the ditch.”

Dude, you’re already in the ditch.

Now that's classic, even for Miserable Maureen. Let's read on:

Boy George crashed the family station wagon into the globe and now the global economy. Yet the more terrified Americans get, the more bizarrely carefree he seems. The former oilman reacted with cocky ignorance a couple of weeks ago when a reporter informed him that gas was barreling toward $4 a gallon.

In on-the-record sessions with reporters — and more candid off-the-record ones — he has seemed goofily happy in recent weeks, prickly no more but strangely liberated and ebullient.

Even though he ordinarily hates being kept waiting, he made light of it while cooling his heels for John McCain, and did a soft shoe for the White House press. Wearing a cowboy hat, he warbled a comic Western ditty at the Gridiron Dinner a week ago — alluding to Scooter Libby’s conviction, Saudis getting richer from our oil-guzzling, Brownie’s dismal Katrina performance, and Dick Cheney’s winsome habit of withholding documents.

At a dinner on Wednesday, the man who is persona non grata on the campaign trail (except for closed fund-raisers) told morose Republican members of Congress that he was totally confident that “we can retake the House” and “hold the White House.”

“I think 2008 is going to be a fabulous year for the Republican Party!” he said, sounding like Rachael Ray sprinkling paprika on goulash. That must have been news to House Republicans, who have no money, just lost the seat held by their former speaker, and are hemorrhaging incumbents as they head into a campaign marked by an incipient recession and an unpopular war.

If only they could see things as the president does. Bush, who used his family connections to avoid Vietnam, told troops serving in Afghanistan on Thursday that he is “a little envious” of their adventure there, saying it was “in some ways romantic.”

Afghanistan is still roiling, as is Iraq, but W. is serene. “Removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency, it is the right decision now, and it will be the right decision ever,” he said, echoing that great American philosopher Dan Quayle, who once told Samoans, “Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.”

W. bragged to Republicans about his “considered judgment” in sending more troops to Iraq and again presented himself as an untroubled instrument of divine will. “I believe there’s an Almighty,” he said, “and I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom.”

Although the president belittled the Democrats for their policy of “retreat,” his surge has been a temporary and expensive place-holder for what Americans want: a policy to get us out of Iraq.

“Has it allowed us to reduce troop levels to below where they were when it started?” Michael Kinsley wrote recently. “The answer is no.” Gen. David Petraeus told The Washington Post last week that no one in the U.S. and Iraqi governments “feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation.”

Maybe the president is just putting on a good face to keep up American morale, the way Herbert Hoover did after the crash of ’29, when he continued to dress in a tuxedo for dinner.

Or maybe the old Andover cheerleader really believes his own cheers, and that prosperity will turn up any time now, just like the W.M.D. in Iraq.

Or perhaps it’s a Freudian trip. Now that he’s mucked up the world and the country, he can finally stop rebelling against his dad and relax in the certainty that the Bush name will forever be associated with crash-and-burn presidencies.

Whatever the explanation, it’s plumb loco.

Nobody does a beating better.

Really, though, it's just perverse to observe this man dancing, crooning, smirking while everything around his "bubble" explodes.

He's already started his retirement but the rest of us are going to have to endure these pathetic antics for another ten months.

And for many years after he has left the White House, returned to his "brown grass" in Crawford -- more likely, a tony McMansion in Highland Park -- spending his days playing golf and delivering rambling honoraria at a hundred grand a pop to fawning corporate goonbats.

Of course, with no consequence to him for any mistake he's ever made his entire life -- well, who wouldn't be smirking?

The Weekly Wrangle

Time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly blog round-up, comprised each week by the TPA based on submissions made by member blogs and bloggers, and compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

The leader of McBlogger's crack legal team has an interesting take on Gov. Spitzer's premium taste in hookers.

TXsharon at Bluedaze asks if Texas Railroad Commission malpractice like this will cost you your life or only your health.

WhosPlayin looks at plagiarism by a Republican candidate for city council: John Gorena of Lewisville, who lifted quite a bit of his website from a Democratic judicial candidate.

Off the Kuff takes a look at downballot voting in the Democratic primary in Harris County.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shines a light on the latest Texas GOP voucher scam in HD-52 Education Matters.

Hal at Half Empty came across the latest production by the DSCC, and to his surprise and delight found it was about (or going to be, eventually) our own senatorial candidate, Rick Noriega.

Good luck, unemployed people of Texas. The Texas Cloverleaf exposes Governor 39%'s recent appointment of GOP idealogue and fellow blogger, Tom Pauken, as the new chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme shows how Republicans shaft Texas workers on behalf of their business cronies. Insurance companies are forced to reveal medical data on perspective employees and unemployment insurance premiums are cut to give companies a 'tax break'.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at a number of scorecards ranking Texas' Congressional delegation in which Texas' Republicans score big fat "F's" when it comes to children, families, the middle class, the environment, working Americans, and more.

In "Bulletins from the front lines", PDiddie at Brains and Eggs advances some of the challenges the forthcoming Senate District conventions will face, with the expected huge turnout expected to overrun facilities and organizers.

nytexan at BlueBloggin looks at the different delegate counts provided by the media and asks So You Think You Know The Delegate Count.

Refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left writes a letter to Hillary.

Fake Consultant takes a shot at predicting a perfect VP for Obama at Texas Kaos.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Funnies (Clinton Fatigue Syndrome)

Noriega's Senate bid linked to Democratic nominee

Arnold Garcia in the Statesman nails the quandary for Rick Noriega:

Ask Rick Noriega whom he'd like to see at the top of the Democratic Party ticket and he does an artful dance — with a Texas twist — around the question.

"I'm for whoever wins," he replies diplomatically, before twirling into the second half of his answer: "I'm for who's going to come back to Texas and help us fight (to) win Texas." ...

The Clintons were in and out of Texas to raise money in the 1990s but spent the bulk of it elsewhere, leaving state and local Democratic candidates to do the best they could.

With Republicans firmly in control of all statewide elected offices, the best Democrats could do wasn't very good. Even the courthouses in North, West and East Texas fell to the GOP.

This year, however, Texans voted in Democratic primary races in record numbers — even in areas tightly controlled by the GOP — raising hope that those numbers were the first rays of light of a Democratic dawn.

It may be dawn at the Alamo if national Democrats once again cede Texas to the GOP in the November race. No one knows that better than Noriega, who is watching the Democratic presidential fight unfold. Though he won't say it, there are plenty of others who will: He faces long odds to begin with, but put Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket and they get longer.

There is no comfort for Noriega in the Clintons' history of using Texas as an ATM with only one button — for withdrawals.

Clinton's strength as known quantity is also a weakness. She's known — for good or ill, voters have an idea of who she is. And Barack Obama? If he continues to attract new and independent voters, he might grow coat tails.

Hillary Clinton at the top of the Texas ballot in November is death for Democrats. Rick Noriega knows it just as clearly as all the rest of us do. It doesn't matter how many extra Hispanics she or Noriega draw to the polls, it won't be enough to overcome the loss of energized Obama voters disgusted by whatever machination she manages to use to deny the will of the people and steal the nomination.

The huge surge of Democratic voters in the Lone Star and across the nation are NOT turning out to vote for her now, and they will not do so in the fall. There's a very obvious reason she's losing by every measurement: pledged delegates, popular vote, and gradually now, even the supers.

Hillary Clinton is a losing candidate. A loser now, a loser in November.

Let's hope that someone is capable of preventing her from destroying the Democratic party nationally, and most certainly in Texas, before it's too late.