Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama's in town today, but only for the money

Using Texas as an ATM, the same as John Kerry and Al Gore and Bill Clinton before him. This is precisely the reason why we have been a one-party state for the past fourteen years. Taking money out of Texas and spending it on teevee advertising in Michigan and Ohio and Florida doesn't get a single Democrat elected to the statehouse or the courthouse here.

After conducting a midday public forum on the economy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Barack Obama will head later today to Houston, whose metropolitan area has more registered voters than all of the Hawkeye State.

But Obama has no scheduled public events in Houston. Instead, he will collect donations for his Democratic presidential campaign and the Democratic Party at two private gatherings.

Of the $287 million raised across the nation by the Obama campaign, only a quarter has come from contributors of at least $2,300, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Federal law puts a $2,300 cap on the amount an individual can give for a primary or general election, for a maximum total of $4,600.

The Houston events fall into the big-money category. They start at $2,300 per person, with amounts above $4,600 going to the party. The receptions take place at the River Oaks home of trial lawyer Richard Mithoff and his philanthropist wife, Ginni, and the Memorial area home of energy company chief John Thrash and his philanthropist wife, Becca Cason Thrash. Top donors at each event will get a chance to have their photographs taken with the Illinois senator.

Whether you have $23 or $2.300 to give a political candidate, we're all much better off if you give it to Rick Noriega or David Mincberg or C. O. Bradford or Diane Trautman, or Sherrie Matula or Kevin Murphy or Joe Montemayor or Larry Hunter, or Chris Bell or Joe Jaworski, or Mike Engelhart or Jim Sharp or Linda Yanez.

Obama is going to have all the money he needs to get elected, believe me.

Update (8/1): At least $1.5 million ...

Barack Obama collected more than $1.5 million in campaign funding Thursday night in two Houston neighborhoods built by oil and natural gas profits while telling his audiences that America needs to liberate itself from those fuels.

... Standing on a platform just above the water level of a lighted indoor pool at a Memorial home, Obama said the nation needs to develop wind and solar energy and other alternative sources. He spoke to about 55 paying guests at candlelit, round dinner tables under skylights in the 18,000-square-foot home of John Thrash, chief of a natural gas infrastructure company, and wife Becca Cason Thrash.


On Thursday morning in Iowa, Obama told a public audience that amid record-high oil profits, Republican opponent John McCain's proposal to lower corporate taxes is wrong and that the Republican Party is bereft of ideas that would help steer the nation to long-term energy independence.

At his other closed-door stop in Houston, the River Oaks home of trial lawyer Richard Mithoff and wife Ginni, Obama vaguely outlined a desire to work with both major parties to fashion short-term oil and gas usage policies. ...

Mithoff ... said the event had raised $1.5 million for Obama's campaign and the Democratic Party. Donations started at $2,300 per person and the total raised at the Thrash home was unknown.

The River Oaks audience was a multiethnic blend of lawyers, politicians, business people and others.

I removed some of Alan Bernstein's more egregious sneering. Click over for the full Republican effect.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Four hundred and eighty two billion.

And that's after he inherited a $286 billion surplus:

The government's budget deficit will surge past a half-trillion dollars next year, according to gloomy new estimates, a record flood of red ink that promises to force the winner of the presidential race to dramatically alter his economic agenda.

The deficit will hit $482 billion in the 2009 budget year that will be inherited by Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, the White House estimated Monday. That figure is sure to rise after adding the tens of billions of dollars in additional Iraq war funding it doesn't include, and the total could be higher yet if the economy fails to recover as the administration predicts.

Iraq and Afghanistan war budgets are supplementals, and the deficit calculation includes an estimate of tax revenues based on an economic model that forecasts more growth (and thus more tax revenue) than is likely. But the truth-telling is buried at the end of the article. I'll emphasize it in bold:

Monday's figures capped a remarkable deterioration in the United States' budgetary health under Bush's time in office.

He inherited a budget seen as producing endless huge surpluses after four straight years in positive territory. That stretch of surpluses represented a period when the country's finances had been bolstered by a 10-year period of uninterrupted economic growth, the longest expansion in U.S. history.

In his first year in office, helped by projections of continuing surpluses, Bush drove through a 10-year, $1.35 trillion package of tax cuts.

However, faulty estimates, a recession in March 2001 and government spending to fight the war on terrorism contributed to pushing the deficit to a record in dollar terms in 2004.

The guy had a track record of running companies into the ground. We shouldn't be surprised.

But beyond the mismanagement of our national security (endless wars in the Middle East are not making us safer), of the country's treasury, and the curtailment of civil rights at home and abroad (torture, holding prisoners without due process, wiretapping Americans without just cause) there's several things much more grave about the Bush legacy. Let's consider just one ...

The economic dismantling of the middle class -- not just the lack of decent jobs at decent wages with decent health and retirement benefits, but people losing their homes, unable to afford gas to get to work, dying for lack of affordable health care -- is the sort of thing that revolutions in the past were begun over.

It's really looking more and more like the United States needs a little of the "blood of patriots and tyrants to fertilize the tree of liberty", to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Veep speculation

Monica Langley at the WSJ:

Before leaving on his overseas trip, Sen. Barack Obama reviewed information on several prospects and narrowed the field. His focus now includes five colleagues in the U.S. Senate -- Joseph Biden, Evan Bayh, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Jack Reed -- and two governors, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, according to Democratic operatives, though he could still make a different pick.

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain also is understood to be narrowing his list, with speculation focused on about the same number of choices. They include ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a rival during the Republican primaries; Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with whom he has a strong friendship; and former Rep. Rob Portman of the battleground state of Ohio. Republicans also are touting Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, and campaign adviser Carly Fiorina, ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., among others.

Booman, on those names:

I would be very pleased with the selection of Sebelius, Dodd, or Reed. I'd be okay with the selection of Kaine. Biden, Bayh, or Clinton I would consider poor choices. Bayh and Clinton would be personally demoralizing.

On the Republican side, I'll be brief. ... None of these picks particularly frighten me. John Thune is probably the safest choice, but I can't see him fundamentally changing the game. Fiorina is untested as a campaigner and her qualifications are dubious. Romney would be a disaster. Crist has to overcome rumors about his sexuality. And Pawlenty just doesn't carry much juice.

I think it will be Biden for Obama (and I will be happy with that, agreeing with Booman otherwise even though I would love it if it were Dodd or Richardson, who is getting no buzz whatsoever) and Portman for McCain, although the WSJ article really makes it sound like McCain is being talked into Romney. poblano says:

If Bob Novak is circulating internal polls showing Mitt Romney helping John McCain in Michigan, you can be pretty sure that the Republican establishment is behind the idea of making Romney McCain's VP. It's easy enough to understand why. Romney has been a good team player: an excellent fundraiser and a tireless campaigner. He is unlikely to embarrass either himself or the ticket. And he could potentially be an asset in several states, among them Michigan, New Hampshire and Nevada.

But Romney also comes with several liabilities which, when combined with his strengths, would tend to produce a very interesting electoral map.

Go read it; it's cogent (as always). grantcart points out the similarities between Obama and Tim Kaine, concluding with his belief that the Virginia governor will be the one.

Who do you think will be the second bananas? Post a comment.

The Weekly Wrangle

Here are the TPA Round-Up blog highlights for the week of July 28:

TXsharon challenges you to view these pictures of domestic drilling Armageddon in the Barnett Shale and still support the Drill and Burn domestic drilling agenda.

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez' Republican challenger for the 23rd Congressional seat is taken to task by Mike Thomas of Rhetoric & Rhythm for shirking his responsibility on a critical hospital expansion vote before the Bexar County Commissioner's Court.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the GOP's "latest" energy plan in Carter, Oil, & Hair Of The Dog.

Neil at Texas Liberal asks what would be the impact if polar bears could vote.

Off the Kuff looks at a Texas Monthly overview of the effects of the presidential race on downballot elections in Texas and offers his criticism of it.

Guest columnist JR Behrman at Texas Kaos has a few strong words about Energy Policy: Democrats Routed. He also has a Texas plan.

Julie Pippert of MOMocrats asks the Obama campaign to explain its absence in Texas after they announced the roll-out of their Spanish language ads as an outreach to Hispanic voters, then discusses a Senate proposal that would require 50% of US cars to have a flexible fuel system by 2012, and finally the MOMocrats share the draft of their position paper to be submitted to the Democratic National Committee for inclusion in the party platform.

McBlogger had a great time at the subprime panel at Netroots Nation. So good in fact that he decided to offer some of his own solutions since the panelists, including the dimwitted Rep. Brad Miller, decided to offer nothing of substance.

XicanoPwr reports on the latest poll by the Pew Hispanic Center on the Latino vote. Polling shows that 66% of Latino registered voters will support Obama.

Burnt Orange Report points out that commissioner of agriculture Todd Staples finally comes around to what Democrat (and future Ag Commissioner) Hank Gilbert has been saying all along: Texans are being overcharged at the gas pump due to lack of state inspections.

BossKitty at TruthHugger dreams about the "Count Down To Accountability - Bush, Cheney Indictments".

refinish69 from Doing My Part For The Left invites everyone to meet Annette Taddeo -- A true progressive Democrat.

jobsanger writes about how, after years of the Bush presidency, even our closest traditional ally gives the US no credibility in Brits Don't Trust Bush On Torture.

Obama and the down-ballot races in Texas are the focus of two articles by R.G. Ratcliffe of the Houston Chronicle. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs summarizes, and finds some to agree with and some not.

Mean Rachel writes an open letter to Rep. Elliot Naishtat, encouraging him to consider joining the technology age and starting an inexpensive, user-friendly website, designed specifically for state legislators, with Wired for Change's DLCCWeb, a Netroots exhibitor.

nytexan at BlueBloggin keeps an eye on Mitch McConnell, the GOP king of distortion and extortion. McConnell plans to block legislation that can impact Americans now and push for a bill whose product will not be seen for 10 years in McConnell Extorts Senate For Off Shore Drilling. McConnell never fails to please Bush and his corporate buddies.

WhosPlayin looks at a new USGS petroleum estimate for the Arctic Circle, and notes that only a small portion of ANWR is estimated to be productive, and that the study doesn't address economic feasibility.

Vince from Capitol Annex tells us that, while indicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) won't accept a presidential pardon, he'd love one from Texas Governor Rick Perry.

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme gets upset with a crappy newspaper article.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Extra Funnies

Obama and the Texas down-ballot contests

R.G. Ratcliffe seems quite a bit more optimistic than me:

One hundred days before the Nov. 4 election, Democratic and Republican political insiders are pondering whether Obama can lose states such as Texas and still make a difference in targeted congressional, county and legislative races by inspiring voter turnout.

Obama's campaign manager has listed Texas as a state likely to go to McCain. But the campaign also has promised to put 15 coordinators in the state to help Texas Democrats win the five seats they need for a state House majority and to win in Harris County.

"We're not down here just wasting our money," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean said recently in Austin. "We're down here, because we know that if Barack Obama wins in Texas, or does well enough in Texas to pick up five House seats in the Texas state House of Representatives, we're going to undo all those evil things Tom DeLay did."

A Democratic majority in the Texas House would help the Democrats control the congressional redistricting process in 2011, when Texas is expected to get three new U.S. House seats due to population growth.

McCain national campaign adviser Charlie Black said he cannot remember a presidential campaign that put resources into a state it expected to lose just to help the local party.

"It's a very ambitious plan," he said.

Let's come back to some of that in a moment. A comment from each side:

A lot of the strategy is about voter excitement. Consultants from both parties admit that Democrats are generally more excited about the presidential race than Republicans. And, they said, down-ballot races may actually help boost turnout in the presidential contest.

Democrats in Texas "are very much energized, pretty much across the state," said Democratic political consultant Dan McClung of Houston. "It's not just national politics. It's state politics and county politics that have Democrats energized."

Texas Republican Party Political Director Hans Klingler said fights over partisan control of Harris and Dallas counties are as exciting for party activists as the presidential contest.

"As important as to what happens at the presidential races at the top of the ticket is what the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are going to do at the bottom-of-the-ticket races at the courthouse level," Klingler said.

This is much more charitable than Klingler usually allows. Hans left the stupid this time to Republican pollster/goombah Mike Baselice:

"There's dumb and real dumb and invading Russia," Baselice said. "If you're a Democrat, you don't want to get caught in a land war in Texas, when you've got all those states in the Midwest to win."

Baselice said the problem for Republicans is not what Obama is going to do but a belief by GOP voters that the nation is on the wrong track.

"Half, if not more than half, the Republicans think the country is off-track. That is more concern to me than Obama sending 15 people to the state," Baselice said.

Well, at least he is correct about that last. Let's also catch a few excerpts from Ratcliffe's composite opinions from "four Democratic and four Republican political consultants and insiders" who chose to remain anonymous in commenting on some of those down-ballot races. I will apend each in blue with my not-anonymous opinion as neither insider nor consultant:


President: Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama has all but conceded Texas to Republican John McCain. But Obama's aides and national Democratic leaders have pledged support for Texas Democrats in hopes of winning a state House majority while looking to a congressional redistricting battle in 2011, when the state is likely to gain three seats in Congress. Texas is McCain's to lose. Nothing to disagree with here.

U.S. Senate: Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has not been especially strong in the polls, but Democrat Rick Noriega's campaign has yet to bust out in fundraising or inspiring a groundswell of support. Cornyn is favored to win; however, a late Obama surge in Texas could make an upset possible for Noriega. Agree completely. Noriega can still pull it out but time is running short.

Texas Railroad Commission: Republican Michael Williams should win re-election over little-known Democrat Mark Thompson. Agree, sadly.

Congressional races

CD 22: Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson has incumbent advantage for re-election in a district once held by former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. President Bush and the GOP are dedicated to helping Pete Olson regain the seat for the party. Lampson likely will get $1 million from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The district's growing black population may be inspired to vote because of Obama, but the district in the past three elections has given most Republican candidates more than 60 percent of the vote. Lampson won in 2006 with 52 percent of the vote with no Republican on the ballot. Toss-up. Lampson's lurch away from the people who got him elected will cost him his seat in Congress. He's a sure loser.

CD 23: Democratic U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio is being challenged by Republican County Commissioner Lyle Larson. Rodriguez is better positioned with funds. But the district voted 54 percent Republican in 2004. A big turnout for McCain could help Larson. Rodriguez favored to win. Ciro likewise abandoned the progressives who worked for him in 2004, same as Lampson, but Rodriguez will be re-elected because his district favors a Latino.

CD 7: Republican U.S. Rep. John Culberson's district tends to vote almost 70 percent Republican, making it seemingly safe for him. But Democrat Michael Skelly is promising to run television ads between now and election day. Skelly says the district needs fresh approaches to energy policy and other issues. Long-shot upset is possible. Culberson is a goner.

CD 10: Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul has the advantage in this GOP-leaning district that stretches from Harris County to Austin. Democrat Larry Joe Doherty, a former television judge, has a folksy, populist style that may play well in rural areas as well as with Austin Democrats. Long-shot upset is possible. Doherty in the upset, mostly because McCaul has been undistinguished in his terms in Washington.

State Senate seats

SD 17: The field is still forming in this no-primary special election for the seat held by retiring Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston. Democrat Chris Bell at present is expected to face three Republicans — Grant Harpold, Joan Huffman and Austen Furse — in the election on the same day as presidential voting. A large Democratic turnout could help Bell eke out a victory on Election Day, but conventional wisdom is that Bell will be in a runoff with a Republican who has been damaged by infighting among the GOP candidates. Special elections normally favor Republican turnout, but the Democrats are expected to be energized this year. Toss-up. Bell goes to the Senate, even if it's a run-off.

SD 10: The district represented by state Sen. Ken Brimer, R-Arlington, has the largest black population of any state Senate district held by a Republican, and he has two colleges in his district. Former Fort Worth City Councilwoman Wendy Davis is fighting hard. An upset is possible. Say hello to Sen. Wendy Davis.

SD 11: State Sen. Mike Jackson, R-LaPorte, is being given a look at possible defeat at the hands of Democrat Joe Jaworski. Jackson has not done a good job of keeping his profile up, and Jaworski may be able to capitalize on a general unhappiness with Republicans this year. Leans Republican. Jaworski is in better shape to defeat "Inaction" Jackson even than Bell and Davis are.

Democratic edge?

Texas House seats held by Republicans in 2007 that Democrats could win.

HD 52: Open seat. Republican Robert "Bryan" Daniel against Democrat Diane Maldonado, both of Round Rock. Toss-up. Count it for Maldonado.

HD 78: Open seat. Republican Dee Margo received 53 percent of the district's vote when he ran for a Senate seat in an overlapping district two years ago. The Democrat in the 2008 race is Joseph Moody, whose father won 60 percent of the district's vote when he ran for statewide judicial office in 2006. Toss-up. Margo also has the cash advantage. Can't see it very close, even as strong a candidate as Moody is.

HD 96: Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, is challenged by Democrat Chris Turner of Burleson. Upset possible. Hard-right district represented by hard-right representative. Not even an Obama landslide can pry this one from Zedler's cold, almost-dead fingers.

HD 101: Open seat. Former Mesquite Mayor Mike Anderson, a Republican, is favored over Democrat Robert Miklos. Leans Republican. Anderson, easily.

HD 102: Rep. Tony Goolsby, R-Dallas, is challenged by Democrat Carol Kent. Leans Republican. Kent has a real shot, but Goolsby has incumbency and a large lobbyist-funded bankroll. It doesn't look like a leaner to me.

HD 129: Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Sherrie Matula. Leans Republican. Ethics-scandal-plagued Davis is running behind Matula in fundraising (he's spent too much on cowboy boots, apparently). Matula's organization, particularly her ground game, will push her over the top.

District 133: Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, challenged by Democrat Kristi Thibaut, who could benefit from a big vote for Obama in the district. Leans Republican. Hard to say that one of my favorite candidates and a brand-new mother is probably going to fall just short once again. A genuine effort by the Obama campaign in Houston could make a real difference in this race.

District 144: Open seat. Republican Ken Legler versus Democrat Joel Redmond, both of Pasadena. This Republican district is trending Democratic, but it may not get there this year. Leans Republican. Redmond will win in a squeaker due to energized Latino voter turnout in the district, thanks in no small part to Noriega and Linda Yanez above Redmond's name on the ballot.

GOP edge?

Texas House seats held by Democrats in 2007 that Republicans could win. •HD 17: Open seat. Republican Tim Kleinschmidt of Lexington against Democrat Donnie Dippel of La Grange. Toss-up. This one is as close as they come.

HD 32: Rep. Juan Garcia, D-Corpus Christi, is challenged by Democrat-turned-Republican former state Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi in a GOP-leaning district. Upset of Garcia possible. Garcia will lose, and it's not going to be all that close.

HD 97: Democratic Rep. Dan Barrett of Fort Worth gave his party hope by winning this Republican district in a special election last year. He will have a hard time holding onto the seat in a challenge from Republican Mark Shelton. Leans Republican. Barrett suffers the same fate as Garcia.

HD 149: Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston, was a shoo-in for re-election until he got hit with a barrage of stories about his ownership of substandard apartments. Now, Vo is damaged goods being challenged by Republican Gregory Meyers. Toss-up. Vo has probably handed this one back to the GOP.

WD40s: White Democrats over age 40: Reps. Mark Homer of Paris, Chuck Hopson of Jacksonville and Jim McReynolds of Lufkin are targets each election because their rural districts are Republican. A heavy turnout for McCain could allow an opponent to score a bull's-eye. I believe all three will be re-elected. They have managed to do so with a Bush on the ballot, after all...


The experts ignored the Supreme Court races (Yanez will defeat incumbent Phil Johnson but the other two are uncertain) as well as the HD-19 race in east Texas, where Larry Hunter will turn out Republican incumbent "Tuffy" Hamilton. But the Texas House is going to remain a bare GOP majority -- though likely bigger than two years ago -- and Craddick is going to once again be elected Speaker because of Craddickrats like Aaron Pena, Sylvester Turner, and Joe Deshotel.

Our battle to turn Harris County Blue will show some results, but the amount of success depends on the length of Barack Obama's coattails.

EV 7/27: McCain still had a good week

Despite Obama's World Goodwill Tour, despite McCain's slashing personal attacks in response ... in spite of another lousy week, the senior senator from Arizona still manages a slight gain in the polling.

Let's switch Ohio and North Dakota to red, but we have to take away Florida (it's tied). Virginia is also knotted, so it comes out of Obama's column. McCain still can't win, but he's drawing a little closer.

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

Sunday Funnies (Cheese and Whine edition)

No kidding: why did McCain give an extended TV interview in the dairy aisle?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama taking the Latin vote for granted

J. Pippert at MOMocrats:

The Obama campaign rolled out their Latino/Hispanic strategy in a conference call hosted by Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA). Congressman Becerra unveiled the new Spanish language radio ad entitled Bootstraps.

The ad will be rolled out in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada, key battleground states with Hispanic populations.

New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanic-origin citizens---43% of the population. Texas and California tie for second place with 35% of the population of Hispanic-origin. That means California is home to 12.4 million Hispanics and Texas is home to 7.8 million, and on average at least 1 in 10 households speak Spanish (per the 2005 Census).

Note that neither Texas nor California is on the radio ad air list.

This is exactly the kind of tactical mistake that eventually turns into a critical, strategic one.

"They are skipping two states where Spanish is spoken the most? That is the most short-sighted strategy I've ever heard of. Seriously, why is it that neither Obama nor Hillary knew how to run a statewide campaign in Texas? So, they're going to spend resources here, but not target Latino voters?" said Vince Liebowitz, Editor & Publisher of and Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance, a coalition of more than 40 Texas blogs.

A decision with vast negative implications for Texas and our efforts to turn it blue, particularly in Harris County. More ...

A few months ago when David Axelrod was in Houston, a member of a Hispanic caucus mentioned concern in the Hispanic community about voting for Senator Obama. The McCain campaign and others who oppose Obama have been spreading misinformation about Senator Obama's background and affiliations in Spanish, the man told Mr. Axelrod at the fundraising luncheon. He mentioned that although Senator Obama launched his Snopes-like, many Spanish-speaking Hispanics would better trust information received in their first language and were unlikely to browse an English Web site. He asked Mr. Axelrod if the Obama campaign planned to launch a Spanish-language outreach to Hispanic voters. ...

It's important that the Obama campaign outreach extend to Hispanic voters, but more than that, the campaign needs to be careful to not oversimplify Hispanic voters and only appeal to a single issue: immigration (even though it is a key issue). Hispanic citizens have a spectrum of issues that concern them, including business.

Hispanic-owned businesses have been increasing. In 2002, there were 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses with almost $230 billion in revenue. If that kept increasing at the same rate, those businesses would be well over 2 million strong by now. Hispanic voters, therefore, are also concerned about the economy, business, taxes, and more.

The Obama campaign also needs to understand that the Hispanic and Latino cultures vary by origin and region. One size won't fit all.

But most of all, they need to not take winning California Hispanic voters for granted, nor should they take losing Texas as a certainty. The right strategy can bring a big win, or a big loss.

The reason Obama is taking both Texas and California for granted is quite simple:

Hispanic support for Democrats has soared in the past four years, driven by the bitter immigration policy debate, the sagging economy and the unpopular Iraq war, according to a Pew Hispanic Center poll.

The survey of 2,015 Latinos found that Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, who lost the Hispanic vote to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 in the Democratic primary, holds a commanding 66 percent to 23 percent lead over Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. ...

The Democratic tide in the Hispanic community is so strong that Obama has built a lead among every nationality group, including the historically Republican Cuban-American population, which now favors Obama by 53 percent to 29 percent.

The Illinois Democrat is running far ahead among Mexican-Americans, who cast about 40 percent of their ballots for George W. Bush in 2004. Among voters of Mexican ancestry, Obama leads McCain, 70 percent to 21 percent.

Obama's dominance among Hispanics, the poll says, is so complete that he has the support of 25 percent of Latinos who identify themselves as Republicans and holds an edge of about 5-to-1 among those who consider themselves political independents.

Unless McCain can reverse the GOP slide, the Hispanic vote could prove pivotal to Obama in traditionally Republican states such as Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, and could help him close what has been a significant gap in Florida. It also could help the Democrat in three states that went Republican in 2004 but have small but rapidly increasing Hispanic populations: Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina.

Since Obama stands no greater chance of losing California than he does winning Texas ... well, I'll let Phillip Martin finish my thought:

I guess it's just a 50-state strategy for volunteers and an ATM machine, but not communications outreach.

We're on our own, Texas Democrats. You might as well pick your favorite local candidates and invest your time, energy, and money there, because they're the ones who need the help.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"New players pour resources"

"to help Harris County Democrats win."

Gotta love that:

Little-known Texas organizations that support Democratic candidates are pouring money and personnel into Harris County at seldom-seen levels for the Nov. 4 election, with the help of a few wealthy statewide donors and national labor unions.

Although some of the money is sluiced to the Texas Democratic Party or other counties, the work is part of an unprecedented push to aim resources at Houston-area elections through two groups run by a Washington-based director: The Texas Democratic Trust and the Lone Star Fund.

Together they have raised about $3.3 million in the last 18 months, apart from money each candidate has collected, according to state Ethics Commission records.

Free your wallet and the rest will follow (apologies to En Vogue).

In 2006, the same groups and donors helped Democratic candidates sweep out of office the Republican district attorney and Republican judges in Dallas County.

Now, the stakes are even higher in Harris County, the state's most populous, which provides a fat slice of the vote in statewide races.

That slice has historically been around 18 percent of the total of Texas votes, but in the Democratic primary in March -- with swollen turnout all over the state -- it was 27 percent.

Twenty-seven percent of the the Texas Democratic vote was cast in Harris County.

Democrats were tossed from Harris County administrative and judicial offices in the 1994 and 1996 elections and have not recaptured any posts. But surveys, the voter roll and other indicators suggest that the Republican voting advantage in the county has melted to near nothing.

Republican Party donors show no sign of matching the Democrat (sic) effort of operating apart from their party. Instead the GOP is using the same strategy it followed with success in 2006 and previous elections — funneling money from influential donors through the state and local parties.

Lots more good news in that article for the chances of having a two-party system in the nation's third-largest county again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bell for Senate's grand opening, yesterday

The Weekly Wrangle

This week's Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up includes no submissions from blog publishers who attended last weekend's Netroots Nation convention in Austin (we're saving those for a different Round-Up). There is one from someone who did not attend, however ...

The Texas Cloverleaf asks if John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison want more HIV in the global pandemic? Our Senators were 2 of the 16 votes against the latest HIV/AIDS bill in the Senate that passed overwhelmingly.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on Diana Maldonado's great fundraising numbers in Maldonado Has Almost 4 to 1 COH Advantage In HD-52.

WhosPlayin stepped outside of his comfort zone a bit and commented on the Fannie and Freddie situation.

jobsanger blasts Republican attempts to allow offshore and ANWR drilling in Drilling Won't Make Us Energy Independent and in Bush Playing Politics With Oil.

The bar may be open, says TXSharon at Texas Kaos in Fire Water: With Compliments from EnCana, but if Encana's serving up the cocktails, it might be better to abstain.

McBlogger's own Harry Balczak has a new recurring feature, Harry Balczak's Reminder To You People. In this edition, he'd like to remind Those Of You Who Just Couldn't Vote For Kerry that your decision was, well, pretty stupid. He is nice about it, though.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that poultry kingpin Bo Pilgrim paid to jet around Texas Governor Rick Perry's staff to promote the ethanol waver he bought and paid for with a $100,000 contribution to the Republican Governor's Association.

Mean Rachel contemplates whether Fannie and Freddie have anything to do with being raised in 78704, but living through young-adulthood in 78749 in Crashes.

The final word, for now, on the Webb County sheriff's race says Martin Cuellar wins by 41 votes. Since the various 'official' totals for Cuellar have been +37, -133, +39 and finally +41, CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders what the h*ll happened!

Off the Kuff looks at the Harris County campaign finance reports and finds good news and not-so-good news for Democratic campaigns.

The Texas Observer's Melissa Del Bosque had an observation about one of the panels at Netroots Nation this past weekend, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had some observations about what she observed.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin shows us smuggling humans into the US is no problem at all; From Africa to Mexico to US, Any Way They Can Immigrate.

BossKitty at TruthHugger points out the continued struggle by our soldiers suffering from PTSD and the inadequate response by the incapable VA, in But, When They Come Home ….

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Even more Funnies (Last jeers from the Grammstand, etc.)

Rich: "It's the Economic Stupidity, Stupid"

A classic evisceration of John McCain's incompetence on the economy by the NYT's Frank Rich. Some of the hilarity ensuing:

In 2000, he told an interviewer that he would make up for his lack of attention to “those issues.” As he entered the 2008 campaign, Mr. McCain was still saying the same, vowing to read “Greenspan’s book” as a tutorial. Last weekend, the resolutely analog candidate told The New York Times he is at last starting to learn how “to get online myself.” Perhaps he’ll retire his abacus by Election Day.

Picking myself off the floor from laughing after that one.

McCain’s fiscal ineptitude has received so little scrutiny in some press quarters that his chief economic adviser, the former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, got a free pass until the moment he self-immolated on video by whining about “a nation of whiners.” The McCain-Gramm bond, dating back 15 years, is more scandalous than Obama’s connection with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. McCain has been so dependent on Gramm for economic policy that he sent him to newspaper editorial board meetings, no doubt to correct the candidate’s numbers much as Joe Lieberman cleans up after his confusions of Sunni and Shia.

Just two weeks before publicly sharing his thoughts about America’s “mental recession,” Mr. Gramm laid out equally incendiary views in a Wall Street Journal profile that portrayed him as “almost certainly” the McCain choice for Treasury secretary. Mr. Gramm said that the former chief executive of AT&T, Ed Whitacre, was “probably the most exploited worker in American history” since he received only a $158 million pay package rather than the “billions” he deserved for his success in growing Southwestern Bell.

Coming on this news about the compensation packages of Houston's titans of the oil industry -- along with the free-market apologists in the comments -- this data about Gramm's employer, UBS, has even greater impact ...

But no one in the news media seemed to notice Gramm’s naked expression of the mindset he’d bring to a McCain White House. And few journalists have vetted the presumptive Treasury secretary’s post-Senate history as an executive at UBS. The stock of that banking giant has lost 70 percent of its value in a year after its reckless adventures in the subprime lending market. It’s now fending off federal investigation for helping the mega-rich avoid taxes.

McCain made a big show of banishing Gramm after his whining “gaffe,” but it’s surely at most a temporary suspension. When the candidate said back in January that there’s nobody he knows who is stronger on economic issues than his old Senate pal, he was telling the truth. Left to his own devices — or those of his new No. 1 economic surrogate, Carly Fiorina — McCain is clueless.

And then Rich zeroes in on McCain's, ah, changes of mind:

The term flip-flopping doesn’t do justice to Mr. McCain’s self-contradictory economic pronouncements because that implies there’s some rational, if hypocritical, logic at work. What he serves up instead is plain old incoherence, as if he were compulsively consulting one of those old Magic 8 Balls. In a single 24-hour period in April, Mr. McCain went from saying there’s been “great economic progress” during the Bush presidency to saying “Americans are not better off than they were eight years ago.” He reversed his initial condemnation of mortgage bailouts in just two weeks.

In February Mr. McCain said he would balance the federal budget by the end of his first term even while extending the gargantuan Bush tax cuts. In April he said he’d accomplish this by the end of his second term. In July he’s again saying he’ll do it in his first term. Why not just say he’ll do it on Inauguration Day? It really doesn’t matter since he’s never supplied real numbers that would give this promise even a patina of credibility.

Mr. McCain’s plan for Social Security reform is “along the lines that President Bush proposed.” Or so he said in March. He came out against such “privatization” in June (though his policy descriptions still support it). Last week he indicated he isn’t completely clear on what Social Security does. He called the program’s premise — young taxpayers foot the bill for their elders (including him) — an “absolute disgrace.”

Rich goes on to savage Carly Fiorina, the backup financial adviser as well as Mitt Romney, presumptive vice-presidential selection, as similarly economic-justice-challenged. But then he quite oddly advances former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as the ultimate in Maverick picks for running mate.

Yeah, that ought to go over swimmingly with both Bloomberg -- himself heavily rumored earlier this year for the job McCain wants -- and the GOP base of obstructionists of reproductive choice and gay rights.

More Funnies

Not quite 300.

I know I promised reality last week, but states that are, in the aggregate, only one percentage point apart really belong in the undecided (grey) category. Thus the only changes from last Sunday are NV (blue) and AK (red). It's still out of reach for McCain and because the upper Midwest Ohio River Valley is where the contest will turn for him, expect him to pick someone like Mitt Romney (MI, kinda) or Rob Portman (OH) as his V-P. They both answer most of the doubts (McCain's age, conservative enough to satisfy the mad-dog GOP base) without raising any concerns (Crist being gay).

The only thing ultimately that his running mate will be is the Republican favorite for 2012.

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

The Texas Observer observes something at NN

I have grieved over the loss of progressivism at the Texas Observer -- my friend Juanita's writing there notwithstanding -- but Melissa Del Bosque, who attended the blogconfab wrapping up in Austin today has a report worth repeating. I'll emphasis the cogent parts:

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based legal advocacy organization hosted a panel Saturday afternoon on Guantanamo and Habeas Corpus and what the president can do in the first 100 days of his term to restore the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

As Americans we are hooked on the idea that any problem can be solved with 10 simple solutions or in some given number of days. Yesterday, former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke plugged his 12 solutions for our national security crisis at his panel.

The consensus on today’s panel, however, from the lawyers and journalists present was that it would take more than one hell of a push broom and 100 days to clean up George Jr.’s mess. The picture was bleak: our Constitution is in tatters and the Supreme Court and Congress have descended into an Alice in Wonderland world where right is wrong and up is down.

Admittedly, it was depressing. Still it was energizing to see a large room nearly filled with extremely concerned and pissed off citizens. At one point, an attendee stood up and asked what bloggers and activists could do to turn the sinking ship around.

Panelist Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (yes his book was plugged at the panel) encouraged attendees to spend less time behind the computer and more time in the streets protesting.

Scahill saved his most scathing remarks for Democrats in Congress, including Barack Obama, commenting that instead of defining themselves as a real opposition party they had undermined efforts to hold Bush’s administration accountable. “Bush is operating in an enforcement-free zone inside the United States and outside the United States,” he said.

Scahill warned that the U.S. was in the midst of the most radical privatization agenda in history with a record number of private contractors carrying out government duties around the world. To illustrate this, he reminded the audience that Blackwater and Dyncorp were at the moment guarding Senator Obama as he toured Afghanistan and Iraq.

ACLU Lawyer and panelist Jameel Jaffar, told the audience that it was wrong and dangerous to blame Bush for everything. He cited the Supreme Court and Congress as miserable failures when it came to defending our Democracy and the Constitution.

“Ultimately, it will take more than a change in Administration to effect the change we want,” he said. “The most important thing in the first 100 days is to set up a truth and accountability mechanism like the 9-11 Commission,” he suggested.

The take home message was that American citizens need to keep a close eye on their government — now more than ever — and hold political leaders accountable. This includes Barack Obama, no matter how badly Democrats want to see him in the White House.

Scahill exhorted the crowd — many of them not surprisingly Obama supporters — to cheat on their love affair with Barack Obama with a little bit of conscience.

“John McCain and a head of lettuce could get the same number of votes,” he said, drawing laughs from the crowd. “Now is when you really need to hold Obama’s feet to the fire, because he needs your votes and he needs your money — he won’t need them after November.”

Forget that "Blackwater guarding Obama" part for the moment. As George W Bush helpfully reminded us almost four years ago, there comes an accountability moment, one time and one time only, in each presidential cycle. It's called Election Day.

The guy who appoints Supreme Court Justices for life gets a four-year contract with no corporate board oversight (at least not when Democrats are in charge). Probably the least we ought to do, as shareholders and all, is point out his mistakes to him when he makes them. Especially since he hasn't quite earned the promotion yet.

You've had that experience if you've worked for any corporation: you've worked hard, spent long hours at the office, paid your dues, kissed the right asses, there's a slot open -- or about to open; that dumbshit is going to get fired soon enough-- but the boss makes you keep toiling away for months or even years waiting for the promotion.

Just to make sure you don't fuck it up after he promotes you. Like the last guy. You know what I'm talking about (and it ain't Dubya).

If we don't hold Obama accountable for our convictions now, do you really think Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are going to after January next year?

Honestly, this is how the Democrats could screw the pooch in 2010, or 2012 at the latest. Do you actually believe that Obama and and a veto-proof Congress are going to turn on a dime in six months and stop the wars? They're going to bring our soldiers home from Iraq, negotiate a peace with Iran, have the good fortune to be on watch when we capture Osama, free the wrongly imprisoned in Guantanemo and force Karl Rove to testify?

Then lower gasoline prices and create millions of new jobs and fix the financial markets and all else that's wrong with our economy? And the climate?

And thereby win the love of a grateful and still mostly conservative nation?

That's a big to-do list. Shit needs to be fixed, cleaned up, some bad practices need to be ceased (torture and warrantless spying on Americans and holding corporations accountable and blahblahblah). I just don't think they can get it all done. I don't think they even want to try to fix or clean up some of it. Call me crazy.

I don't know, maybe we all should just go back to watching Dancing With the Stars. Sorry I bothered ya.

Sunday Funnies (that magazine cover edition)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another sign

A friend in Jefferson County sends this:

"A taxpayer voting Barack Obama is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders."

A number of drivers on Twin City Highway Thursday might have seen this message on the sign in front of Bob Costilow Realtors. And at least one was offended.

"They put themselves in a crossfire," said Jevyn McDowell, who passed the sign on the way to her job. "We had our primary elections and Obama came out on top. I'm an African-American, and it looks like (Bob Costilow Realtors) is comparing black folks to chickens."

Bob Costilow, company owner, said that was not what the sign meant.

"I don't agree with what Obama proposes for taxes," Costilow said. "No more. No less."

Costilow said one of the main things he finds appalling about Obama's tax plan is his stance on the capital gains tax.

"When you sell your house, under current tax laws, you do not have to pay any capital gains tax," he said. "My view is that I don't want any more taxes."


"I saw it in an e-mail on a sign put up by a State Farm agent in Mandeville, La.," he said. "I loved it. I have gotten some calls about it, and some of them were even congratulatory in nature."

But McDowell said she feels that Costilow was intending to be offensive to the black community.

"To me, that is more offensive than that magazine cover," she said, referring to a recent issue of The New Yorker that had a drawing of Obama on the cover in a turban with an American flag burning in the fireplace, among other things. "People at any company should not be openly offensive when it comes to politics, religion or sexual preference. As a consumer, if I was needing to buy or sell a home, I would certainly not go to that realty company."

Costilow said that he is not out to offend anyone, but if they get offended, he doesn't care.

"I don't give a damn," he said. "We have free speech in this country, and if it fluffs somebody's feathers, I'm sorry. I don't agree with Obama's tax plan."

I don't know Mr. Costilow, but I know someone who does and reports that he is as big a jerk as you would gather just from reading this article.

Hope business is booming for you over there, Bob.

A sign

You can make your own here.

An interview with Gen. Time Horizon

Q.: General, recently you changed your name from "Artificial Timetable" (or Timetable for short, or Art for real short) to "Time Horizon". What gives?

G.T.H.: Well, the surge is workin', it don't look like we're goan hafta fight 'em over here instead of over there, here meanin' home, the good ol' US of A that is, and we dam shore ain't goan cut n' run.

Q.: What does that have to do with you suddenly changing your name, General?

G.T.H.: Well it don't got nuthin' ta do with that liberal socialist Hussein Obama, that's fer shore too.

Q. Mr. Obama is supposed to meet with you in Baghdad sometime this weekend, according to John McCain yesterday. Most American officials have visited Iraq without public announcement in order to avoid alerting terrorists to their arrival. Why did McCain announce his political rival's trip ahead of time to the media?

G.T.H.: Well hell, he wants to win the election. This is war and we can't let the terrists win.

Q. Obama has been in favor of a timetable for withdrawal all along. Hasn't the Bush administration, under pressure as well from Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki, simply decided to face reality?

G.T.H.: What reality you talkin' 'bout, Willis? This is an asspirational goal, to draw down troop strength in Iraq so we can send 'em to Afghanistan to get killed and maimed. And we're also goan need fresh meat for the coming battle with Iran.

Uh, forget I said that last part.

Friday, July 18, 2008

NYT Op-ed: Israel will attack Iran

Sometime between November and January -- which presumably means with George Bush's approval and the assistance of United States military forces. So overlook, for a moment, the horror of handing off another war to President Obama, this one could very likely go nuclear:

Israel will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.

Gee. What do you suppose that will do to gasoline prices?

It's that stormy time of year again

And T.S. Cristobal has caught the attention of the best hurricane tracker around. By the middle of next week it could potentially be Category 1 or 2 and on a collision course with Texas. It's not too early to have gas in the car, a few supplies stocked in just in case you need to shelter in place, and an evac plan.

You don't want to get stuck in the world's worst traffic jam like last time, do you?

Not NN'ing

One long weekend at the hottest time of the year in Austin was enough for me.

Vince is doing duty at KXAN and has a nice Watergate-across-the-generations post up, with John Dean and Joe Jaworski photo'd together.

Karen Brooks is doing a good almost-live-blog -- here she is with the Obama Grrl -- Eileen is too, and BOR is taking the point, as usual. Last night's parties here, some aggre-posting from Phillip here. Pictures here.

The Godfather
is pulling his weight as well.

Update: Non-Texans have some things to read; Todd Beeton from MyDD has Wesley Clark and Howard Dean's keynote live-blogged. Booman says it's hot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"A near universal lack of recall"

Must be the Ambien:

A "striking lack of recollection" by White House and military officials prevented congressional investigators from determining who was responsible for misinformation spread after the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a House committee said Monday.

Although military investigators determined within days that the onetime NFL player was killed by his own troops in Afghanistan following an enemy ambush, five weeks passed before the circumstances of his death were made public. During that time, the Army claimed Tillman was killed by enemy fire.


The committee says that in their quest to find out when officials first knew about the possibility that Tillman's death was not due to enemy fire, they were "frustrated by a near universal lack of recall," according to the report.

The committee interviewed several senior White House officials including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, communications director Dan Bartlett, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and chief speech writer Michael Gerson.

"Not a single one could recall when he learned about the fratricide or what he did in response," says the report.

Perhaps a large public outcry could result in their firings. Oh, right.

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers told the committee that he learned by the end of April that Tillman's death was possibly due to friendly fire, but that he could not remember whether or not he passed that information to Rumsfeld.

Members of Tillman's platoon, however, knew "almost immediately" that Tillman had been killed accidentally by fellow Rangers, according to the report. Within days of his death, Colonel Craig Nixon, a top officer in Tillman's battalion, passed on that information to the commander of the joint task force in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChyrstal, who in turn sent a message to top generals, including General John Abizaid, commander of CENTCOM. ...

"I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death become public," McChrystal wrote on April 29th, 2004.

A deputy commander of SOCOM told the committee that as soon as McChrystal's message was received, Tillman's family should have been notified.

Yet on the same day that McChrystal sent his memo warning that officials may be making erroneous statements, Tillman was posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for "gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States".

Damned erroneous statements. Not just Tillman, either:

The committee also examined the circumstances surrounding the misinformation that was released following the capture and rescue of Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq in 2003. Sensational media reports attributed to military officials erroneously said that Private Lynch had engaged insurgents before her capture, firing until she ran out of ammunition. But as in the Tillman investigation, the committee said that it was hampered due to a "pervasive lack of recollection" about how that misleading information got released.

This is that "fog of war" thing, isn't it?

"Asian stocks fall as confidence in U.S. financial system erodes"

That's a great headline to wake up to, now isn't it?

I suppose if I owned any Asian stocks I might be concerned, but I'm not even all that worried about my bank's 35% drop in stock price yesterday, as it prepared to report a second-quarter loss, laid off workers, and "moved to reassure investors that it was sufficiently capitalized".

I mean, whaddya gonna do? Make a run on the bank? Pull out all your money and hide it in the mattress, or bury it in the back yard?

It's all just a mental recession anyway, right? Why should I -- or anyone else -- whine about it?

Really now: don't the Republicans deserve continued stewardship of the nation's economy? They got us in this ditch, they can get us out (that's something I heard about four years ago, I believe).

Oh well, maybe we can drill ourselves out of it.