Saturday, May 31, 2008

Scotty come lately

I watched the Olbermann hour-long interview and read the "puzzled" reactions from his former bosses and co-workers, but I ain't buyin' Scott McLellan's conversion (nor his book, for that matter).

His public quasi-confession is as much about trying to avoid prosecution as it is about selling books. Recall, from the historical record, what McClellan said when the first Boosh whistleblower, Richard Clarke, outed the adminstration's prevaricators:

McClellan pointed to the timing of Clarke's book.

"If Dick Clarke had such grave concerns, why wait so long? Why wait until the election?" Instead, McClellan said, Clarke "conveniently" released a book in the middle of the campaign season.

This must have been long before his pangs of conscience got the best -- or worst -- of him.

And when Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said basically the same thing in January of 2004 that Scotty is saying now, except a with a tad more bluntness ...

Former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has provided the grist for an unflattering tell-all book about the Bush White House called "The Price of Loyalty". ... Mr O'Neill said President Bush was disengaged, "a blind man in a room full of deaf people," and said the administration was hatching plans to invade Iraq from the day Mr Bush entered office.

... McClellan responded with equal force:

"We appreciate his service, but we are not in the business of doing book reviews," he told reporters. "It appears that the world according to Mr. O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinion than looking at the reality of the results we are achieving on behalf of the American people. The president will continue to be forward-looking, focusing on building upon the results we are achieving to strengthen the economy and making the world a safer and better place."

Come to think of it, maybe O'Neill was ahead of Clarke. Anyway, somewhere along the road to Damascus Scotty learned the truth and decided to come clean err, write a book.

Good on him, I suppose. Note that Scotty is directly descended from an opportunistic stripe-changing zebra and a grand conspiracy collaborator/author.

So this appears to be nothing more than the next edition of "All in the McClellan Family" to me.

I'll pass on both the applause and the account of his coming to Jesus.

Harvey Korman 1927 - 2008

The late Harvey Korman, second from right, in a 1968 skit on "The Carol Burnett Show," in which some shapely legs -- and then their owners -- are revealed to the audience. From left, Betty Grable, Martha Raye, Jackie Gregory, Lyle Waggoner, Korman and Burnett.

"Give me something bizarre to play, or put me in a dress and I'm fine," Korman jokingly said in a 2005 Chicago Sun-Times interview.

My family to this day will recite lines from "Eunice and Ed" when we get together.

Korman and Conway developed an uncanny rapport that made them arguably one of television's most lethal comic teams; Conway's on-camera ad-libs often made Korman crack up; producers wisely kept them in the show.

For about eight years, until late last December, the pair toured the country in a stage show that, more than anything, was a homage to their years with Burnett. They performed about 120 shows a year.

"I don't know whether either one of us was the straight man," Conway said. "The most important thing in comedy when you're working together is for one guy to know when to shut up. And we both knew when to shut up; quiet show, actually."

One of their favorite routines from the Burnett show was the dentist sketch, "where I kind of anesthetize my entire body with Novocain" while trying to fill Korman's teeth, Conway told The Times on Thursday.

"They play it at all the dental schools, as kind of an introduction on how not to do it," Conway said.

Korman suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm in January, the same malady that claimed my uncle Toots in his early sixties, several years ago. Most people cannot survive it but Korman battled for four months before passing on Thursday.

I think my favorite memory of Korman is from Blazing Saddles, when his character Hedley Lamarr was constantly irritated at having to correct the pronunciation of his name.

"Head - leh"

It's been a difficult week for Hollywood legends, and those of us who are their fans.

Obama bomaye

1. McCain actually makes a rather handsome African-American man, even if he does have teeth protruding from his neck.

2. Then again, so do other reptilians.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Some questions for Boyd Richie

Could someone read these to him and send me his answers?

-- Why is it your only goal to help elect a half-dozen or so Texas House members in 2008, the same as 2006? I think I see you working here: you want a bare majority in the House by 2010 in order to control redistricting in January of 2011, but what makes you think -- even if we get there -- the fifteen Craddickrats will flip on Speaker Tom? Loyalty?

(Have you not been paying attention to Aaron Pena?)

More importantly, why is this your only goal? It's a laudable goal, but since we haven't elected a statewide Democrat in over a dozen years, couldn't you try a little harder this year for Rick Noriega than you did for Chris Bell and all the others in 2006?

-- When the Obama campaign offered to fly you (and other undeclared state party chairs) to Chicago a couple of weeks ago to discuss allocating financial resources for the fall campaign, why did you blow them off? You not only didn't go but refused to send anyone in your place. Don't you realize you sent the message that Texas is not in play this November?

Why did you do that?

Don't you think Noriega, and the Democrats we're trying to get elected in Harris County and all across the rest of the state, could have used that help?

-- Why did someone named Rudy Shank, representing himself as being with the Obama campaign in Chicago but acting on behalf of Texans for Obama head Ron Kirk, call one of your rivals for state party chair and tell her to withdraw her candidacy, or else she would lose her superdelegate status to the Denver convention?

Isn't the Obama campaign telling Texans that the campaign is neutral in the state party chair contest?

And why is the guy you picked to be the convention chair, Senator Kirk Watson, endorsing you for state party chair? Really, isn't that just a little bit sleazy?

Isn't this the sort of low-grade corruption we criticize the Republicans about?

-- When are you going to declare your presidential preference? Will it be on June 3rd, when the last primary voting has completed and the fate of the nomination lies solely with you and the other undeclared superdelegates? Or will you keep straddling the fence until after you have safely been re-elected chairman of the party?

Or will you declare moments after the matter has been settled by others?

Are you telling the Obama people you're with them? or the Clinton folks that you're with her?

Come now: who do you choose, Clinton or Obama? How hard can it be at this point to pick one?

Ah, thanks for clearing this one up.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bloggers' Caucus set for June 5

Every two years at the Texas Democratic Party's state convention the Texas Progressive Alliance hosts the best party of the biennium. This time around we'll be at the Cedar Door. Here's your invitation:

The Texas Progressive Alliance
Proudly Presents
The Third Biennial Blogger’s Caucus
Thursday, June 5, 2008
8:30 p.m. - Midnight
The Cedar Door
2nd and Brazos
Austin, Texas

Come and have a drink with the best and brightest from the Texas Blogosphere.

Me, too.

Update: And you can meet really important people, such as SD-11 Texas Senate candidate Mighty Joe Jaworski. Many more to be announced in the coming days.

"The Change We Deserve": GOP or Effexor?

Destined to be a classic:

"I begged you to get therapy."

Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like “The Way We Were,” “Tootsie” and “Out of Africa” were among the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s, died Monday at home here. He was 73.

Also "The Firm", "Absence of Malice", and many, many others.

He was most recently seen in The Sopranos final season as the doctor/janitor in the prison hospital where Johnny Sac was dying (of cancer, as well), double-checking the diagnosis between passes of the mop on the floor.

And he directed one of the seminal movies from my high school youth, "Jeremiah Johnson".

One of the cinema's titans departs.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Wrangle

Here's the Memorial Day round-up from the Texas Progressive Alliance's member blogs ...

refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left is trying to understand why John Cornyn is such a.....

McBlogger takes a look at an email from Republican Chair TinaFish begging for money.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders how the Webb County elections administrator can claim one recount where the votes didn't change vindicates their work on the Sheriff's recount where 160 votes flipped.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin tell us how truck owners and operators are delving into long-ignored gas saving subjects like aerodynamics, slower cruising speeds and all the snake oil scams to increase mileage. This could lower your food prices and consumables: Ten mpg is now feasible … may save you money!

Lightseeker of Texas Kaos applies his powers of analysis and persuasion to the question of What Can Be Done to Keep the Momentum for Change Going? What's going on in your precinct to organize for November?

WhosPlayin's grbtexan posted some "rules" guaranteed to invite feminine wrath.

State Rep. Myra Crownover wants West Texas to have their very own radioactive waste dump. North Texas Liberal has the story.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the word around Austin is that Rick Perry is planning on calling a special session of the Texas Legislature prior to the November elections. You won't believe why.

Chris Bell is widely rumored to be considering a run for the Texas Senate seat being vacated by Kyle Janek, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs joins the call to encourage him to do so.

Social wing nuts are up to their old tricks, as the TX State Board of Education give the finger to teachers and parents alike this past week. On a 9-6 vote, your kids get a decade's worth of grammar lessons etched on a napkin.

lightseeker over at TexasKaos takes on the question of what to do with all these new Democratic/Progressive activists and voters? Are they doomed to grow quickly disillusioned , retreating into political cynicsm again ? What can be done to keep the momentum for change going?

Gary D at Easter Lemming Liberal News last week blasted Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams, Texas Monthly Blogger Paul Burka and Senator John 'Forget the Alamo' Cornyn because he is not bitter but sometimes he gets angry.

Off the Kuff continues his look at the Harris County races with an early overview of the District Clerk campaign.

Texas soldier dies after 100 surgeries

The young Marine came back from the war, with his toughest fight ahead of him.

Sgt. Merlin German waged that battle in the quiet of a Texas hospital, far from the dusty road in Iraq where a bomb exploded, leaving him with burns over 97 percent of his body.

No one expected him to survive.

But for more than three years, he would not surrender. He endured more than 100 surgeries and procedures. He learned to live with pain, to stare at a stranger's face in the mirror. He learned to smile again, to joke, to make others laugh.

He became known as the "Miracle Man."

But just when it seemed he would defy impossible odds, German lost his last battle this spring — an unexpected final chapter in a story many imagined would have a happy ending. ...

Merlin German died after routine surgery to add skin to his lower lip.

He was already planning his next operations — on his wrists and elbows. But Renz also says with all the stress German's body had been subjected to in recent years, "it was probably an unfair expectation that you can keep doing this over and over again and not have any problems."

The cause of his death has not yet been determined.

"I may no more understand why he left us when he did than why he survived when he did," Renz says. "I don't think I was meant to know."

As people learned of his death last month, they flocked to his hospital room to pay their last respects: Doctors, nurses, therapists and others, many arriving from home, kept coming as Friday night faded into Saturday morning.

German was just 22.


Arlington National Cemetery workers setting a headstone.

John and Stace, along with many others, made the local Memorial Day display at Hermann Park (you can see it today). No conservatives in sight, sadly.

They must have forgotten to never forget.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Extra Funnies (at the GOP's expense)

Courtesy First Door on the Left (who does it on Fridays):

Make your own Bill O'Reilly tantrum remix

Straight from the FOX Attacks! folks:

No doubt you've already seen this recently unearthed clip of Bill O'Reilly experiencing, um, temperamental technical difficulties on the set of Inside Edition during his pre-FOX days. The O'Reilly Factor really hasn't changed him that much - he's still the same unhinged, unstable, belligerent blowhard.

O'Reilly has tried to laugh this off, but there's plenty more fun to be had. Stephen Colbert released a clip of one of his own past freakouts, and Keith Olbermann invited an O'Reilly-type body language expert to talk about O'Reilly's dictatorial body language. Some terrific remixes of O'Reilly's meltdown have started surfacing, like this hilarious one from Barely Political; there's even been a dance remix.

So we at FOX ATTACKS! thought we'd invite all of you to submit your own O'Reilly Tantrum remixes! As you can see from the clips above, there are a lot of directions you could take this, so go for whatever you think is the funniest, most entertaining and adheres with the Fair Use doctrine. You can find a downloadable Quicktime version of the original clip here - the rest is up to you!

When you have finished your video, post it on YouTube and paste the URL into the comments section of our blog. Once we have enough videos, we'll put them on a page where everyone can view them and vote on them. There will be prizes for winners in multiple categories.

Can't wait to see what you guys come up with!

Billo is going to bust a blood vessel yet.

Sunday Funnies (on time this week)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The ugliest election

Open Source Dem, who hopefully will be more regular here with some Texas Democratic Party convention-related postings as we draw closer to the first weekend in June, submits the following ...


“Recount” in your review and Salon sounds fascinating. I imagine it is possible to maintain decorous appearances on the street while actually fighting ferociously in the courthouse. My guess is that Warren Christopher and David Boies were just inept from either perspective.

What I remember from Jake Tapper’s coverage at the time was (a) the Florida Democratic Party attorney’s success with an expeditious and fair recount in Volusia County before the Washington/Tennessee team flew in and took over and (b) Tapper’s observation that those local “demonstrations” were staged by GOP operatives flown in from Washington and coordinated using DynCorp commo vans rolled out from Homestead AFB –- the ones we ordinarily use to stage coups in Latin America on behalf of particular concession-holders.

This coup-meme is a left-wing cliché today, but it was documented to a fare-thee-well by Alabama Senator BLOUNT and by General Smedley BUTLER during the nineteenth century.

(Senator BLOUNT was previously a Confederate General but appointed High Commissioner to sort out the coup in Hawaii. The coup stood but he freed the Queen and kept the natives from being entirely exterminated. General BUTLER was the retired Marine hired to overthrow FDR. He declined and, indeed, exposed his employers. The conspirators, too-big-to-fail bankers even then, decorously were not shot. But as a precautionary measure, Douglas McArthur was sent off to the Philippines with a commission in that not-the-US Army.)

The left/right narrative in our constitutional history seems less durable to me than the Federalist/Anti-Federalist one that only sort of tracks what little we have actually had of “responsible two-party government”. We have always had at least two parties, but they are usually in various coalitions.

Someday I think history will show that while he was not convicted in the Senate, Bill Clinton was under something like House arrest by the end. I recall that General Clark was forced out and the constitution was reversed from what it had been in 1876. Clinton did not use his military authority to keep order in Florida and force the matter at issue into the Congress, as had happened in the close election 124 years earlier. Who rolled the vans?

In any case, I think “overly decorous” is also a good description of our approach to election integrity here in Harris County, anything to avoid embarrassing Sylvia Garcia, Bill White, and now, Sue Lovell. I see these risk-averse individuals hanging back, while all those other poor suckers run for countywide election this year, unsupported by office-holders we supposedly already have. Yeah, the polls are all good. But, are we really going to storm the courthouse with no artillery or sappers at all? Is “decorous” the new “dumb”?

There are some major differences within the GOP coalition: Darbyites, Trotskyites, and Thatcherites. But the GOP is not decorous about clinging to power and can put aside their esoteric differences as well as our Constitution to do so. They however are very plain about the latter, never having consented to the principles of popular sovereignty or of universal suffrage, not in 1789, not in 1874, certainly not now.

The Darbyites, however, are suspicious of DRE machines and would be in an uproar over the VUID, if there was any public controversy over it. I do not understand why we whine over marginalia and provide cover for the GOP on election integrity matters rather than trying to drive a wedge among them.

The “winning elections” meme of Democrats habitually collaborating with the GOP and not willing to fight for those, or any, principles at all seems like a suicide pact to me. How can a Republican or Democratic party expect to win elections without upholding popular sovereignty or universal suffrage? As Alexander Keyssar points out, they have always been contested, never established in this country or state.

Clinton to Remain in Race Until Obama is Assassinated

"I Can Still Win, If Somebody Were to Pop A Cap In His Ass"

"It's June, After All"

"Thank you for welcoming me here tonight."

I know that we are all proud of Barack Obama, who has risen from humble beginnings to such heights -- great heights, perilous heights. As you may know, 30% of serious accidents occur from a height of 10 feet or above.

And so we now set out together on our journey -- a journey of hope, a journey of change, and yes, a journey of great demands. For the presidency places great demands on all of us -- err, those who hold the office -- we have seen how quickly it can age people, as in the poignant photographs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was succeeded by Harry S. Truman while still in office.

In this journey, we have put forward our shared goals -- of expanded health coverage, against the unexpected and often fatal illnesses that can rob even those citizens that seem the healthiest of their ability to work, even of their lives. Of protection against unexpected attack on our country, often aimed at those who are placed in the most critical positions to lead this nation. Of conservation of our precious energy resources, without which, even the most powerful of us can wind up stranded in a desert motorcade, without food, water, or wireless reception to contact others for help. Of greater support for culture and the arts -- beginning with increased support for our very own Ford's Theatre here in Washington, DC.

Many of you will hear Barack speak later today, from a platform in Norman, Oklahoma -- a humble platform, a rickety platform, a platform susceptible to Norman's notoriously strong and unexpected winds. There -- God willing -- he will tell you of what we hope to accomplish. He will speak of the unity that he and I wish to achieve for this nation, just as Andrew Johnson and Lincoln strove for such national unity. And he will tell you of our wish for change.

Change. An important word. None of us can know the changes that will occur in our lives. None of us can predict what momentous events, what disasters may befall us. A simple damaged left engine turbine stabilizer in a campaign plane. A frayed electrical line dangling, unseen, from a remote access satellite hookup van. A safe, falling unexpectedly to the sidewalk from the 8th floor of the Hotel Aldion in Norman, Oklahoma.

And so we must dedicate ourselves, we must consecrate ourselves, to reach these most important national objectives today -- while we still can. And like Kennedy, Garfield, McKinley, and other Presidents before him, we know that Barack Obama will strive to achieve these goals -- in the face of the awesome unknowns that lie before us all.

Thank you."

Update (I thought I could do 'dark humour' better, so I did):

Hillary Clinton promised voters in South Dakota today that she would stay in the contest for the Democratic nomination "until this battle reaches its final solution." She further reassured her supporters, who have braved continuous rumors of the demise of her campaign, that she will continue "no matter what the polls say, no matter what the media says about me, no matter what. Whatever it takes, I'm in it to win it."

"I've been ready from Day One of this struggle to lead this nation, even the non-white working class Americans who have supported my opponent. I'm not going to let them, or anyone else, push me out now!" Clinton said to her cheering crowd of about forty Caucasian women over the age of fifty. "And because it's so important that every single state in this great nation gets an opportunity to vote for me, if this contest goes into the month of June with no obvious winner then I will declare myself the victor!"

"And if America has voted and I'm not the winner, I believe it's just as important that the Democratic Party has a 1-A choice for President, because the month of June in years ending with an 8 are usually bad for the front-runner. Unusually bad, in historic fact."

"So pay no heed to the naysayers, the pundits, the polls, the pledged delegates, the caucus states, the primary states, the popular vote, or even your head, heart or conscience. I am going to be the nominee. And nothing and nobody is going to stop me."

Friday, May 23, 2008

And all this time I thought she was praying for an aneurism

Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.

The response has been as any reasonable person might expect

Even the statement about her husband campaigning to June of 1992 is false. Though he did not have had enough delegates to be the nominee until June, all of his meaningful opponents had dropped out and the race was basically over by early March. The 'campaigning' after that was for the general election.

Her statement that Bill Clinton was still campaigning in the primary in June, like the sniper fire episode in Bosnia, is just more historical revisionism.

But this -- what she said today as rationale for remaining in a contest she cannot win any other way -- was nothing short of inexcusable. It breaks down like this: if she had no malignant intent, then she is clearly not poised enough to be President. If she meant what it sounded like she meant, she is no one to be defended.

Imagine for a moment what the uproar would have been if the roles were reversed and Barack Obama had said: "I want to be Hillary's vice president, because, you know, JFK was assassinated in office."

One positive that I can see from all this: Obama has been freed of the burden of making Hillary his vice-presidential pick. He probably has been under a lot of pressure from party insiders to select her for the sake of unity. But after these comments, no one is going to hold it against him if he doesn't.

(As I post this Keith Olbermann is about to say it, in one of his Special Comments, better than any of the rest of us ever do. I'll update this post with it once it's online.)



"I was discussing the Democratic primary history, and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged California in June in 1992 and 1968," she said in Brandon, South Dakota. "I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That's a historic fact.

"The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy. I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive, I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever."

"My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to and I'm honored to hold Senator Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate in the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family."

Thanks. Not a word about the inappropriateness of referencing assassination. Not a word about the inappropriateness of implying - whether it was intended or not - that she was hanging around waiting for somebody to try something terrible.

Not a word about Senator Obama.

Not: I'm sorry.

Not: I apologize.

Not: I blew it.

Not: please forgive me.

God knows, Senator, in this campaign, this nation has had to forgive you, early and often. And despite your now traditional position of the offended victim, the nation has forgiven you.

We have forgiven you your insistence that there have been widespread calls for you to end your campaign, when such calls had been few. We have forgiven you your misspeaking about Martin Luther King's relative importance to the Civil Rights movement.

We have forgiven you your misspeaking about your under-fire landing in Bosnia.

We have forgiven you insisting Michigan's vote wouldn't count and then claiming those who would not count it were Un-Democratic.

We have forgiven you pledging to not campaign in Florida and thus disenfranchise voters there, and then claim those who stuck to those rules were as wrong as those who defended slavery or denied women the vote.

We have forgiven you the photos of Osama Bin Laden in an anti-Obama ad.

We have forgiven you fawning over the fairness of Fox News while they were still calling you a murderer.

We have forgiven you accepting Richard Mellon Scaife's endorsement and then laughing as you described his "deathbed conversion."

We have forgiven you quoting the electoral predictions of Karl Rove.

We have forgiven you the 3 a.m. Phone Call commercial.

We have forgiven you President Clinton's disparaging comparison of the Obama candidacy to Jesse Jackson's.

We have forgiven you Geraldine Ferraro's national radio interview suggesting Obama would not still be in the race had he been a white man.

We have forgiven you the dozen changing metrics and the endless self-contradictions of your insistence that your nomination is mathematically probable rather than a statistical impossibility.

We have forgiven you your declaration of some primary states as counting and some as not.

We have forgiven you exploiting Jeremiah Wright in front of the editorial board of the lunatic-fringe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

We have forgiven you exploiting William Ayers in the debate on ABC.

We have forgiven you for boasting of your "support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans".

We have even forgiven you repeatedly praising Senator McCain at Senator Obama's expense, and your own expense, and the Democratic ticket's expense.

But Senator, we cannot forgive you this.

"You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."

We cannot forgive you this -- not because it is crass and low and unfeeling and brutal.

This is unforgivable, because this nation's deepest shame, its most enduring horror, its most terrifying legacy, is political assassination.

Lincoln. Garfield. McKinley. Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Robert Kennedy.

And, but for the grace of the universe or the luck of the draw: Reagan, Ford, Truman, Nixon, Andrew Jackson, both Roosevelts, even George Wallace.

The politics of this nation is steeped enough in blood, Senator Clinton, you cannot and must not invoke that imagery! Anywhere! At any time!

And to not appreciate, immediately - to still not appreciate tonight - just what you have done, is to reveal an incomprehension of the America you seek to lead.

This, Senator, is too much.

Because a senator - a politician - a person - who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot - has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Will McCain walk Ellen down the aisle?

Maybe McBush is going for that base of Hillary's support who feel they can't ever vote for Obama ...

Republican John McCain says same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into legal agreements for insurance and other purposes, but he opposes gay marriage and believes in "the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman."

"And I know that we have a respectful disagreement on that issue," the likely Republican presidential nominee said in an interview for today's The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

That's not the funny part. Here's the funny part:

DeGeneres needled McCain on the issue, arguing that she and the senator from Arizona aren't different. ...

"We are all the same people, all of us. You're no different than I am. Our love is the same," she said. "When someone says, 'You can have a contract, and you'll still have insurance, and you'll get all that,' it sounds to me like saying, 'Well, you can sit there, you just can't sit there.'

"It feels like we are not, you know, we aren't owed the same things and the same wording," DeGeneres said.

McCain said he's heard her "articulate that position in a very eloquent fashion. We just have a disagreement. And I, along with many, many others, wish you every happiness."

DeGeneres steered the conversation back toward the humor she's known for.

"So, you'll walk me down the aisle? Is that what you're saying?" she asked.

"Touche," McCain said.

That wasn't a 'no'.

And click into the comments for the most fun, where I posted the following:

"I just don't like gay people who 'rub it in my face' all the time!"

Translation #1: I want to discriminate against you openly, comfortably, and securely, and when you do things that lend evidence to our common humanity, I get that icky guilt feeling. Knock it off, dammit!

Translation #2: I am deeply closeted and intensely jealous that you are not. Also, I have a sexual obsession with box turtles.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Recount" premiered in Houston this week

We got back into town yesterday in time to attend this but were too pooped to do so:

The Baker Institute for Public Policy is a familiar stop for big names in politics and international relations. ...

But the Rice University think tank moved into People magazine-style celebrity Tuesday when it hosted the premiere of Recount, an HBO movie based on the 2000 presidential election and its ultimate resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Like Band of Brothers and The Sopranos and Entourage and the recent miniseries on the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams, I expect this will be no less excellent television. A teaser, if you don't have HBO (and why don't you, for crissakes):

(A)ctors Kevin Spacey and Laura Dern were there, on a real red carpet, accompanied by writer Danny Strong, director Jay Roach and executive producers Paula Weinstein and Len Amato.

They stepped from black Suburbans onto carpet rented for the occasion, mugging for a small platoon of television cameras. Inside, Spacey and Amato paid homage to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III for hosting the film, especially considering his role in the events upon which it is based.

A discussion on election reform, led by Baker and former President Carter, followed the screening. They worked on the topic when they chaired a bipartisan commission on the topic in 2005.

"I think it's an amazingly positive sign that James Baker is fighting for the reform of laws that ... were in his favor in 2000," said Spacey, who played Baker nemesis Ron Klain. Klain spearheaded the recount effort for Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, while Baker worked for Republican George W. Bush.

Baker's subsequent work on reform made the Rice campus an obvious place for the screening, Amato said. "What better place to come?"

Well, some of the reactionary 26-percenters who comment at would have preferred elsewhere, but like the past seven and one-half years have been for the rest of us, too bad ...

It drew about 250 people, mostly donors to Rice and supporters of Baker's work who offered a few appreciative chuckles at actor Tom Wilkinson's portrayal of — and uncanny resemblance to — Baker as a courtly but tough partisan political operative.

Dern, on the other hand, played Florida's former secretary of state, Katherine Harris, for broad comic relief.

"When someone asks you to play Katherine Harris, you don't say no," Dern said before the screening.

Still, like Spacey, Amato and Strong, she said she also was drawn to the project by the hope that the film will spark public discussion about changing the nation's election laws. That's a topic Baker and Carter have discussed since their 2005 commission recommended dozens of changes, including the use of a national voter photo ID. None have become national law.

In their talk after the movie, the pair said America still faces problems with voter confidence in the way ballots are cast and counted.

"There's still a degree of unfinished business out there when you look at the election system in our country," Baker said.

Carter said the most important change would be requiring the use of a "paper trail" — receipts of a sort, that would help voters verify that their ballots have been cast as they intended on electronic voting machines. Paper trail equipment has been put to use in some states; Texas officials have resisted it.

Baker said the nation most urgently needs unified voter registration lists and the photo ID requirement. Democrats in the Texas Senate shot down a photo ID proposal last year; this year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the requirement in Indiana.

James Baker, consigliere to the Bush family, still fights for the right no matter how wrong it may be.

Chris Bell for Senate

Run, Chris. Run:

“He would be a formidable candidate in that district because of his length of service in the Houston area,” (state Sen. Kirk) Watson said, referring to Bell’s background as a one-term U.S. House member and before that as a member of the Houston City Council who ran for mayor.

“My guess is he’d start that race with the sort of name ID that an incumbent usually enjoys, maybe even better than an incumbent,” Watson said.

Kuffner had the idea first, and Vince says Scott Hochberg isn't going, so my humble O is that Bell would be a virtual shoe-in in a runoff with the crazy right-wing reactionaries announced or pending...

According to a published report—see the story here—two Republicans are already seeking to fill Janek’s footsteps: Houston lawyer Grant Harpold, a precinct chairman, and Houston money manager Austen Furse.

State Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, and Gary Polland, former Harris County Republican Party chair, are two others who reportedly have expressed interest.

Hey, Chris: we need you to do this, dude.

The highlights of our Southwest tour

(Vacation bragpost alert.)

Old Town Albuquerque and Santa Fe's square were as wonderful as always, but the high points this trip included Madrid, on the Turquoise Trail, where Wild Hogs was filmed (you may recall the scene where the rebel shirt-and-tie bikers made their last stand at the Chili Festival). We went to the Old Coal Mine Museum, and inside one of the exhibit "halls" a colony of Mexican freetails had taken up temporary residence in the rafters.

And we took a day trip out to the Acoma reservation and went up to the top of the mesa, where some of the tribe's elders still live, without running water or electricity. It is the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States. Good photos here (several links, including flash panaromas). The Sky City Cultural Center also has more pictures and information. I took the stone steps down (rather than ride the tour bus) and thought about those who had hauled the timbers for the mission up those steep, rocky stairs, from the forest 20 miles away -- careful not to let them touch the ground, lest they be spoiled.

The bed and breakfast where we lodged was two blocks from Old Town, and that was a delightful stroll and dalliance. We had two memorable meals, lunch at La Hacienda (my carnitas asadas -- pork medallions -- were slathered with a deliciously scorching green chile jelly and were simply outstanding. Wife had a chimichanga and two frozen blackberry margaritas that send her to Napland for a couple of hours afterward) and dinner at the St. Clair Bistro, which is connected to the winery. I had the caballero steak salad and thought I was going to get a few pieces of prime rib the size of my thumb for $12. I did get that, as well as five pieces about the size and width of a stick of butter, perfectly grilled medium rare and maybe the best beef I ever put in my mouth. Mrs. Diddie had a Kobe burger that was almost heaven. But it was the wines that catapulted the propaganda over the top: a red Zin and a Meritage by St. Clair were the ones we picked, but the Chardonnay was silky smooth and the others we tasted on our wine flight were just short of stellar.

This was a trip to visit some friends from another online forum where I have been posting for the past ten years, and it was terrific to be able to see some of them again (and some for the first time). A few embedded photos of those fine folk in this thread.

Back to the salt mines, and the political postings forthwith.

Last Sunday's Funnies

(What were you talking about last week, while I was away?)

Our lion

We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters -- Joe and Kathleen and Jack -- he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.

Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.

A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father which expresses the way we in his family felt about him. He said of what his father meant to him, and I quote: "What it really all adds up to is love -- not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it." And he continued, "Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country. Through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off."

-- Sen. Edward Kennedy, eulogizing his brother in 1968

The Weekly Wrangle

(OK, so I didn't log in for six days. It was glorious, I tell you.)

Check out the best from the blogs of the Texas Progressive Alliance from last week, brought to you this week by refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left.

WhosPlayin took a look at the Daisetta sinkhole and wonders what part the saltwater disposal well on the site exceeding its licensed capacity might have played.

Boadicea of Texas Kaos has a clue for hapless Congresscritter John Culberson, who had his ass handed to him on the floor of the House this week: Memo to Cubby-Read the Bill BEFORE You Speak.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme joins the chorus criticizing the border patrol's plan to use hurricane evacuation as a means to find undocumented residents.

Refinish69 has a little talk with progressives over at Doing My Part For The Left about how tomorrow never comes.

Not all of the countywide offices up for election in Harris County this year are high profile, but some of them should be more prominent on the public's radar. Off the Kuff takes a look at one such office with his early overview of the County Attorney race.

In response to the Mainstream Media's declaration (or whitewash) that the March 29 county and senate district caucuses were perfect, Vince at Capitol Annex says otherwise in the first of several pieces that looks at individual challenges to the conventions.

$422 Million. That is what most oil companies settle out of court for with Dallas super law firm Baron & Budd this past week. But the Texas Cloverleaf asks why is Exxon the lone holdout to want to go to trial in an election year?

Harry Balczak over at McBlogger takes look at a new website that's really nailed Chris Matthews and Tim 'Gotcha' Russert.

North Texas Liberal's Texas Toad explores the GOP's tarnished brand.[Also, please note that NTL has a new home:]

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on Speaker Tom Craddick giving up his number one job, protecting members of the Texas House in Lots Of Smoke, Little Fire, But Lots Of Ire.

Friday, May 16, 2008

In a New Mexico state of mind

Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque above, in reverse chronological order of how we'll be seeing them (once again). I'll be in and and out before we return to Houston next week, so don't be a stranger.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Name one, Culberson

John Culberson (R-TX): contains provisions that have nothing to do with our troop's survival and safety in the field. To burden our troops with pork, with tax increases, with special provisions that have nothing to do with the war, adds to, I think, the obvious misuse of the process and I urge members to vote against the pork and support our troops.

David Obey (D-WI): I yield myself 30 seconds...I'd like the gentleman from Texas to point out a single piece of member pork in this bill.

Culberson: Does the gentleman yield?

Obey: Yes.

Culberson: Mr., Mr. Chairman, there's a number of un-un-unnecessary provisions in this...

Obey: Name one.

Culberson: Well, why are we separating out, sir, why aren't we just passing...

Obey: (nearly yelling) Name one.

Culberson: Why are we...

Obey: (yelling, finger pointing) Can you name one or can't you? The fact is there is not a single piece of member pork in this bill. You ought to...

(pounding gavel, "time expired")

Culberson: (inaudible)...why are we passing provisions in this bill with tax increases?

(pounding gavel)

"The gentlemen will cease their conversation. The time of 30 seconds has expired. All members are asked to address their remarks through the chair."

Obey: I yield myself one additional minute....and through the chair, I would invite the member to name a specific piece of congressional pork in this bill. He cannot because there is none. He's at least had enough time to read the bill to know that.

Everybody who has been represented by Culberson for the past few years knows that he doesn't read anything except the GOP Talking Points for the Day.

Let's please replace this worthless gasbag with a real Congressman.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

John Edwards, and the coup de grace for unity

In a little over one hour from now John Edwards will arrive in Grand Rapids, MI and endorse Barack Obama for president.

Few endorsements were more sought after by both candidates:

Both Obama and Clinton immediately asked Edwards for his endorsement, but he stayed mum for more than four months. A person close to Edwards, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he wanted to get involved now to begin unifying the party. Obama also signed on to Edwards' poverty initiative, which was a major cause for Edwards in his campaign and since he left. When he made his decision, Edwards didn't even tell many of his former top advisers because he wanted to make sure that he personally talked to Clinton to give her the news, said the person close to him.

How much longer now before all of us together, as one, begin to focus on November?

And will Edwards be the keynote speaker at the Texas Democratic Party state convention at the beginning of June?

Bush has made sacrifices because of the war

He doesn't play golf any more.

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families.

“I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization’s high commissioner for human rights.

“I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life,” he said. “I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, ‘It's just not worth it anymore to do.’"

Please don't be confused: sport fishing from the family yacht at Kennebunkport is acceptable. Throwing out the first pitch at baseball games is acceptable. Starring in comedy routines that trivialize the lies you told which led to the deaths of 4,000 American soldiers is acceptable.

Playing golf crosses the line and is NOT acceptable.

Update: And it turns out that Bush couldn't even tell the truth about this, neither when he quit playing nor why. Absolutely despicable.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ron Paul quietly planning revolt at GOP convention

Is Rush Limbloat talking about this?

Virtually all the nation's political attention in recent weeks has focused on the compelling state-by-state presidential nomination struggle between two Democrats and the potential for party-splitting strife over there.

But in the meantime, quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in St. Paul at the beginning of September.

Paul's presidential candidacy has been correctly dismissed all along in terms of winning the nomination. He was even excluded as irrelevant by Fox News from a nationally-televised GOP debate in New Hampshire.

But what's been largely overlooked is Paul's candidacy as a reflection of a powerful lingering dissatisfaction with the Arizona senator among the party's most conservative conservatives. As anticipated a month ago in The Ticket, that situation could be exacerbated by today's expected announcement from former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia for the Libertarian Party's presidential nod, a slot held by Paul in 1988.

McSame has a Nader problem. Times two.

Just take a look at recent Republican primary results, largely overlooked because McCain locked up the necessary 1,191 delegates long ago. In Indiana, McCain got 77% of the recent Republican primary vote, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, who've each long ago quit and endorsed McCain, still got 10% and 5% respectively, while Paul took 8%.

On the same May 6 in North Carolina, McCain received less than three-quarters of Republican votes (74%), while Huckabee got 12%, Paul 7% and Alan Keyes and No Preference took a total of 7%.

Pennsylvania was even slightly worse for the GOP's presumptive nominee, who got only 73% to a combined 27% for Paul (16%) and Huckabee (11%).

As's Jonathan Martin noted recently, at least some of these results are temporary protest votes in meaningless primaries built on lingering affection for Huckabee and suspicion of McCain.

You know, this strikes me as kind of a big deal. A little more from the source:

The last three months Paul's forces, who donated $34.5 million to his White House effort and upwards of one million total votes, have, as The Ticket has noted, been fighting a series of guerrilla battles with party establishment officials at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi. Their goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals and influence platform debates.

So some questions, besides the one that leads above ...

-- How long before we a whole lot more about this? The corporate media loves intrigue, after all.

-- Suppose a talk show host on Air America or Pacifica were to start something called Operation Chaos and urge their listeners to vote Paul, and then threaten to start a riot at the Republican convention. Do you think they'd get away with it scot-free without the FBI showing up at the studio with leg irons, the way Rush did? I somehow doubt it very much.

-- Y'all let me know if you see or hear anything Faux about it, willya?

The Weekly Wrangle

It's Monday, and that means it's time to show some love for the best posts from the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance for the preceding week. Check out the best that the Alliance has to offer, brought to you this week by refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left.

McBlogger has some advice for state convention delegates aspiring to a seat on the floor in Denver.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says all the fuss over 'wrongful' health care benefits in Brownsville, Corpus Christi and the Texas House is misplaced. Universal health care makes that problem disappear!

John Coby
at Bay Area Houston reported on Bob Perry's attempted take over of a local city water authority in order to develop a golf course. The developers lose big in Clear Lake.

Off the Kuff continues his series of countywide race previews with a look at the race for Harris County Tax Assessor.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at right wing blowhards on tour, coming to a local amphitheater near you.

Doing My Part for The Left is thrilled that another poll Shows Rick Noriega just 4 points behind Senator Box Turtle.

WhosPlayin notes that along with many more Republicans, Michael Burgess (TX-26) voted AGAINST supporting Mothers Day.

Dembones at Eye On Williamson has the latest on Rick Noriega's run for the US Senate with this post: Republican machine grinding for Cornyn.

The sinkhole in Liberty County catches PDiddie's attention -- not literally, thankfully -- and he blogs about it at Brains and Eggs in "Rural Texas finally collapses from GOP 'Leadership' ".

Vince Leibowitz at Capitol Annex ponders the civil liberties thicket that Texas AG Greg Abbott could wander into if he allows the Texas Lottery Commission to use the electronic strip on Texas driver's licenses to verify the age of gamblers at lottery vending machines.

nytexan at BlueBloggin points out the racism In the Secret Service and wonders how can they perform their jobs when supervisors write and send racist emails to one another regarding interracial sex, killing Jessie Jackson and his wife, and ridiculing African-American slang.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News talked to a friend of his that received a GOP push poll against local Democratic judges in "GOP running ccared in Harris County". He also wondered if this picture is of a Pasadena neighbor who can't spell.

Lightseeker takes a look at What Rick Perry Promised, What the Republicans Delivered over at Texas Kaos.

Don't forget to check out all the Texas Progressive Alliance blogs, too:

B & B
Bay Area Houston
Blue 19th

Blue Bloggin
Brains & Eggs
Burnt Orange Report
Capitol Annex
Common Sense
Doing My Part For The Left
Dos Centavos
Easter Lemming Liberal News
Eye on Williamson
Feet To Fire
Grassroots News U Can Use

Half Empty
In The Pink Texas
Marc's Miscellany

North Texas Liberal
Off The Kuff
Para Justicia y Libertad
People's Republic of Seabrook
South Texas Chisme

Texas Kaos
Texas Truth Serum
The Agonist
The Caucus Blog
The Jeffersonian
The Red State

The Texas Blue
The Texas Clover Leaf
Three Wise Men
Who's Playin'?
Winding Road in Urban Area

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Evening Funnies (With Deepest Condolences...)

... to my friends Vince, Stace, and Martha, who need to take their fingers out of their ears and stop singing "tra-la-la-la-la, I can't hear you". Come on, ya'll; even Greg woke up and smelled the coffee some time ago.

And now, on with the toons ...

Obama in Oregon, Clinton in West Virginia

First place first:

... As his bus pulled up, he strode onto the handsome old track just as the women's 5K was ending. A murmur went through the crowd, the public-address announcer confirmed his arrival, and the action came to a halt as 5,000 track fans rose as one to cheer the senator from Illinois who appears suddenly on the verge of claiming his party's presidential nomination. The javelin hurlers dropped their equipment, and the 400-meter hurdlers paused in their warm-ups as a waving Obama made his way around one of the country's most famous tracks bathed in late-afternoon sunlight -- a victory lap.

"You guys are just so fast. I congratulate you," Obama said as he reached the finish line, where the 5K runners still waited -- as if the applause was for anyone but him.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia:

They traveled here from New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana last week to stand in the rain on a rural street corner, at a four-way intersection of winding mountain roads. One woman, a doctor, took vacation time from her job to make the trip. Another, a mother of three, hired a babysitter for the first time in months.

The 10 volunteers, linked by a resolve to keep Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign alive by helping her win Tuesday's West Virginia primary, met to wave campaign signs patched together with duct tape. They cheered as the first car, a beat-up white Volvo, rolled toward the intersection, and a young man in aviator sunglasses leaned out his driver's-side window.

"Hey," he said. "Don't you think you're wasting your time?"

In West Virginia (and next week in Kentucky), the old Democratic Party gets one last chance to have their say. They will say 'no' to change in a resounding voice. They will not ratify this sea-change in the American power structure.

And that's okay. We've been here before.

Every progressive movement in this country has been accompanied by bitter-enders who clung to the old way, the way things used to be. Right now the Clinton supporters' lack of consent for change is preventing the Obama movement from getting in gear and speeding off down the track. But Oregon will be the moment when everything finally snaps into place, and the race for the White House will begin in earnest.

Obama will, despite what occurs in WV and KY, win the necessary number of delegates to secure the Democratic nomination on May 21, in Oregon. Yes, because they violated the rules early on, the delegations from Florida and Michigan aren't included in the tally. Too bad for them.

Here in Texas, there will be a state Democratic convention in Austin held the first weekend in June, and a whole passel of Clinton delegates will trudge through the formalities of electing a few people to go to Denver to watch the coronation of Barack Hussein Obama near the end of August.

(There's much more important Texas Democratic Party elections for both they and the Obama delegates, but that's grist for a future posting.)

And come November, Democrats are going to be competitive almost everywhere in the United States (although perhaps not in West Virginia and Kentucky). In North Carolina, the Democratic senate candidate is actually leading Senator Elizabeth Dole. Here in good ol' Deep-In-The-Hearta, Rick Noriega is trailing John Cornyn by just 4 points. In Oregon the Democratic candidates are in a dead heat with long-time incumbent Republican Gordon Smith. We are winning special elections in deep red districts in Illinois, Louisiana, and (hopefully) Mississippi. Even seemingly safe seats in places like Staten Island are succumbing to scandal. There are almost no safe seats, and no safe states, for the GOP in 2008.

We are on the way to a realignment not seen since 1964.

More Funnies (a Clinton-free edition, thankfully)

Voter ID : the 21st-century poll tax

Despite innuendo, there actually is no proof of any widespread fraud in Texas, at least not the kind that government ID would take care of. In fact, there are far greater possibilities of fraud or malfunction with Texas’ paperless electronic voting machines.

That's the moneyshot from James Harrington, the director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.

This government ID scheme works against older voters who no longer drive or travel (as we saw with the old nuns denied the ballot in the recent Indiana primary), students in college, voters with disabilities, minority and poor people, new voters who recently became citizens, and homeless individuals. No matter whether people have voted in their precinct, are known to election staff, or have other ID, they still must get a driver’s license or specified government ID.

Texas Republicans lead by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Rep. Leo Berman (Tyler) want to impose the same burden on Texas voters. Surely, although they would deny it, their real agenda is to dilute the electoral strength of individuals, who tend to vote Democratic. There is no other viable explanation.

That's not going to slow them down, though.

Texas originally started out enabling people to vote, rather than impeding them. The delegates to the 1875 convention, which gave us our current constitution, lead by Grangers and progressive Republicans, rejected a variety of electoral impediments: poll taxes, literacy tests, property taxes, and multi-member legislative and judicial districts.

The delegates rejected schemes to limit suffrage because they understood that denying the franchise to African-Americans inevitably would deprive them of the political power they needed to break state government's unholy alliance with big business, railroads, and monopolies.

The 1876 Constitution reflects a populist revolt that gave Texas some of the broadest suffrage rights in the nation. For example, until 1919 non-citizens could vote if they met the residency requirement and declared their intent to become citizens.

Anti-voting laws came into Texas in the early 1900s to disenfranchise African-Americans who voted in significantly higher proportions than did the whites. In fact, African-American voter turn out reached 80 percent in some areas. The poll tax, the white primary, and multi-member districts all became law. Even those tricks didn’t work totally, and the KKK used a violent campaign to suppress black voter turnout. Similar tactics kept down Mexican-American voting. This all lead Texas further down the path of racism and segregation.

The Voting Rights Act and Supreme Court decisions undid much of that history, and minority electoral strength increased dramatically. The Republican Party’s reaction since has been to send “poll watchers” to minority precincts around the state to depress voter turnout through intimidation, even though there was no recent election malfeasance history. Dewhurst and Berman want to add yet another hurdle to people voting.

The Republicans decry voter fraud as a problem akin to illegal immigration; the only difference is that they have failed to figure out how to exploit it for profit as they have the undocumented worker.

Voting is a fundamental right, the cornerstone of our democracy. Our legal system should break down barriers to the polling place, not build them up. Let’s help the Legislature remember this when it meets in 2009.

Yes, let's.

Update: Chris Bell piles on ...

Under the Republican proposal, photo identification would be required. Since there’s no problem, there’s nothing to fix; however, two Hispanic state senators, Mario Gallegos (D-Houston) and Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), point out there are a lot of elderly voters in their heavily Hispanic districts who don’t have driver’s licenses because they never drove a car.

And that’s just what the Republicans are counting on. Voters like those would have to get some other form of photo identification. That’s obviously going to be a major inconvenience, and since it’s hard enough just to get people to register to vote in the first place, chances are they might not vote at all. ...

(S)some people might be a little concerned what happens with real problems like public school education and health care if Republicans are spending so much time on non-problems.

That argument overlooks the most recent census data which shows the number of Hispanics in the United States rose by 1.4 million in just the last year alone and every study shows that Hispanics now lean Democratic by an overwhelming margin.

So see, if you’re a Republican, this really isn’t a non-problem at all.

Sunday Funnies (Going, going, ...)