Sunday, August 31, 2008

The political implications of Gustav

The human implications of this monster hurricane are immense -- 80 people have already died in the Carribean -- but we will stick to the political implications here. First, most people living far from the Gulf Coast have already forgotten Katrina and Rita; this will remind them. The media will no doubt trot out all the photos of a happy President Bush in sunny Arizona ignoring the drowning city because he was too busy celebrating John McCain's 69th birthday. In case they forget, here is the photo from the official White House website.

Second, if the storm hits Tuesday, it will be smack in the middle of the Republican National Convention. Normally, that would be the only news story of the week, but it will have to compete with news of drowning people on the Gulf Coast. This diverts attention from the Republican's message of national security and focuses everyone on domestic affairs, such as the government's role in helping people. The Republicans core message of low taxes and less government may not go over so well juxtaposed with photos of old people on their roofs pleading for help from the government while the Republicans are busy saying that free markets solve problems far better than government bureaucrats. Heck-of-a-Job Brownie may get another 15 minutes of fame.

Third, depending on the actual path the storm takes, it could hit oil rigs and refineries. Heaven forbid there is an accident that causes an oil spill. That would remind people of why the Democrats oppose off-shore drilling. On the other hand, if there are no accidents, the Republicans will say: "If off-shore oil rigs can withstand this, they can withstand anything." In any event, rigs and refineries are likely to shut down, reducing the supply and driving up gas prices in the next few months, something that will remind the voters of the economy, in case they had forgotten.

Fourth, under federal law, the person in charge of handling natural disasters in a state is the governor. He can call up the National Guard, ask for federal help, or whatever he wants, but he's the boss. The governor of Louisiana is now a Republican, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal. Last time around, the botched response was coordinated by a Democrat, Kathleen Blanco. If Jindal does a great job and the evacuation goes smoothly, help arrives on time, and nobody dies, the Republicans will be crowing about their management skills and that the real problem last time was that a Democrat was running the show. However, Jindal is only 37 and has been governor for scarcely 8 months, even less time than the Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. If Jindal messes up, the Democrats will be saying: "It's more of the same." To say that McCain's political fortunes rest on Jindal's ability to cope with disasters is not entirely true, but it will be a big factor. Unlike Blanco last time, Jindal is surely fully aware of what is about to happen and the potential consequences of failing to handle it.

John McCain's been saying his prayers, but if I were a Christian I would be tempted to say -- especially after we witness the damage of an 18-25 storm surge where the levees are 9-13 feet -- that God doesn't care what John McCain wants.

And if Gustav had hit a week earlier, we would no doubt have heard a few Republican pastors proclaiming that God was delivering His Retribution to the Democrats, indeed the United States, for supporting the evils of abortion, homosexuality, etc.

I doubt we will hear any of that "God is punishing us because of the GOP" from any pastors on either side this week. More, with my bold emphasis:

For better or worse, all five potentially affected states have Republican governors: Rick Perry in Texas, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Haley Barbour in Mississippi, Bob Riley in Alabama, and Charlie Crist in Florida. If they do a good job getting help where it is needed, they will get the credit; if they don't they will get the blame. It is likely that all of them will skip the convention and stay home. In an odd way, the hurricane might actually have a silver lining for the Republicans. The Democrats spent all of last week yelling: "McCain is Bush III." Having Bush speak at the convention, as scheduled reinforces their point. However McCain could hardly have told Bush to stay home since that would infuriate the 30% of the country that still supports him. Enter St. Gustav stage left. McCain could now announce that much as he wants Bush to speak at his convention, for the good of the country, Bush should go tour the Gulf Coast to help the poor people there. This solves two problems: keeping Bush away from Minnesota without McCain getting blamed for it and having Bush appear to be on top of the situation at the hurricane site in an attempt to wipe out the bad memories of his doing nothing when Katrina struck.

So when Karl Rove says that the Republicans can't catch a break with the weather in August, he's just being a stupid asshole again.

EV 8/31: some movement for Obama

The polling that moved NV and CO back to blue and OH into the tossup column this week occurred during the DNC convention, so it can't really reflect a convention bounce but rather a Biden one. The effect of Obama's soaring speech to 40 million Americans last Thursday night -- that was more than saw the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing -- as well as the pick by McCain of Elaine Benes from Seinfeld Sarah Palin of Alaska is yet to be reflected in the polls.

<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 (Pre-Gustav edition)

It's hard work finding something to laugh about on this last day before New Orleans is destroyed for the second time in three years. At least John McCain isn't going to spend another birthday eating cake while an American city drowns; he's taking Sarah Palin to Jackson, MS so she can see some black people for the first time.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gidget Goes to Washington

Admit it; that was your first thought too. Well perhaps the second one, after "Who?"

The humor was flowing early and rapidly this morning:

McCain-Phailin' '08
Tina Fey's SNL skits guaranteed to be classics
McOld-Barely Legal (to be president) '08
McCain-Milf '08

And then there's this:

Who is this poor little girl McCain plucked out of Alaskan obscurity to demolish his only rationale for not electing Obama? Someone quite clueless about the role of the vice-presidency, for openers. Just last month, Palin said:

“As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.”

MSNBC's Chuck Todd reported that Kay Bailey was "furious" about the choice. Two senior advisers to Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney felt "rudely strung along and manipulated".

What is known about Palin is that she a creationist, a gun nut, she's virulently anti-choice for women -- no abortion even in cases of rape or incest -- and she thinks polar bears should not be on the endangered species list.

That's not funny. But this is:

HE is an ex-POW turned multimillionaire. He has power, wealth, and more houses than most people have ties. But can anything -- or anyone -- calm his savage temper, and teach him to love again?

SHE's a young creationist who knows little about politics and is in trouble with the law. He'll take her in -- but can he teach her the ways of Washington before she embarrasses him at the big Telecom Ball?

Find out this fall on Dharma and Methuselah ...

Eight has been more than enough

"Barney Smith, and not Smith Barney" nearly stole the show in the run-up to the headliner. There was also "McCain can afford those $400.00 shoes, but America can't afford McCain's Flip-Flops".

I think my personal favorite however was:

It's time for them to own their failure.

Yeah. Way past time.

So there's no need to post another pretty picture or excerpts. If you saw it or heard it you get it; if you didn't you don't. Like most everything else about the campaign, it was an historical event. Here's a take from David Sirota on the populist message Obama communicated:

If his convention speech tonight is any indication, Barack Obama has (finally) signaled that progressive economic populism is going to be the central thrust of Democrats campaign in the stretch run of the 2008 election.

The speech is probably the most populist national speech Obama has given....

(H)e knows that Democrats have won red-states like Ohio not by pretending to be Royalist Republicans, but by being economic populists and tapping into the uprising (in fact, Obama himself invoked uprising language explicitly tonight, saying, "Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up.")

That his newfound courage is partially rooted in election opportunism doesn't negate its value. If he continues with this kind of posture, he not only will win the election, but will create a mandate that helps force an Obama administration to fulfill the economic promises it is making. And that more than anything would, indeed, mean real change.

In GOP news, wait for the announcement today of McSame's running mate and whether or not the Republicans will postpone their convention because of Hurricane Gustav.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Republicks don't like you either, Lieberman

Mark me down here as falling-on-the-floor-laughing:

Republican strategist Karl Rove called Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) late last week and urged him to contact John McCain to withdraw his name from vice presidential consideration, according to three sources familiar with the conversation.

Of course Mighty Joe stood up to the Rove-Beast:

Lieberman dismissed the request, these sources agreed.

Lieberman “laughed at the suggestion and certainly did not call [McCain] on it,” said one source familiar with the details.

“Rove called Lieberman,” recounted a second source. “Lieberman told him he would not make that call.”

Rove did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rove, President Bush’s former top campaign adviser and arguably the most prominent political operative of the past generation, has no formal role in McCain’s campaign. But he knows much of the Arizona senator’s high command and has been offering informal advice, both over the phone and in his position as a Fox News analyst, since McCain wrapped up the GOP nomination.

The Rover has been trumpeting $200 Million Dollar Man (and owner of three houses his own self) Mittens Romney for the pick, to be announced at any moment in order to blunt the Obamamentum of tonight's acceptance speech ...

“Rove is pushing Romney so aggressively some folks are beginning to wonder what's going on,” grumbled one veteran Republican strategist.

From his perch on Fox, Rove has touted McCain’s fierce primary rival as strong vice presidential material.

“Romney is already vetted by the media, has strong executive experience both in business and in government, has an interesting story to tell with saving the U.S. Olympics, and also helps McCain deal with the economy, because he can speak to the economy with a fluency that McCain doesn’t have,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday” in June.

The sources spoke about Rove’s involvement after Robert Novak, writing his first column since being diagnosed with brain cancer, reported Wednesday that McCain and some of his close associates would like to tap Lieberman for the number two slot but that putting an abortion-rights-supporting former Democrat on the Republican ticket was likely to be unrealistic.

Gasp. Novak's not dead yet? Can you just see that ghastly countenance propped up in a cancer ward, phone in one ear, banging out a column not on a laptop but a 1940's typewriter?

This development is too bad/so sad for Kay Bailey's hopes, I suppose.

Blue Dogs cuddle up with AT&T in Denver

This is the kind of bullshit that just deflates all the good things I have watched and read about this week:

(Last Monday) night in Denver, at the Mile High Station -- next to Invesco Stadium, where Barack Obama will address a crowd of 30,000 people on Thursday night -- AT&T threw a lavish, private party for Blue Dog House Democrats, virtually all of whom blindly support whatever legislation the telecom industry demands and who also, specifically, led the way this July in immunizing AT&T and other telecoms from the consequences for their illegal participation in the Bush administration's warrantless spying program. Matt Stoller has one of the listings for the party here.

Glenn Greenwald tried to get in but no media was allowed. He spoke to people entering the event who refused to identify themselves (except for one Republican). One of the party's feted was not anonymous: Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader. Let's go to Think Progress ...

Hoyer was “the point man” in negotiations over the new FISA law that Congress passed and Bush signed last month. He helped secure retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies (including AT&T), thereby condoning their participation in Bush’s illegal spying program.

This is what roasts me about those Democrats who vote like, act like, party with, and generally speaking aren't much different from Republicans. They have sold themselves out to the corporations.

That's fascism, people.

Once we get unobstructible majorities in the House and Senate next year -- and with a Democratic president -- can we expect them to act any differently? As in governing for the people and not the powerful?

Why do I get the impression it will be even more difficult to hold their feet to the fire on, say ... offshore drilling?

Joe Biden, George McCain, and Sigmund Freud

Let me make this pledge to you right here and now. For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring their pledge to uphold the law and honor the Constitution, no longer will you hear the eight most dreaded words in the English language: "The Vice President's office is on the phone."

Nice left jab, Joe. Nice shout-out to your mother, too:

Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. As a child I stuttered, and she lovingly would look at me and told me, "Joey, it's because you're so bright you can't get the thoughts out quickly enough." When I was not as well dressed as the other kids, she told me, "Joey, you're so handsome honey, you're so handsome." And when I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, and this is the God's truth, she sent me back out the street and told me, "Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day." And that's what I did.

After the accident, she told me, "Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear." And when I triumphed, my mother was quick to remind me it was because of others.

My mother's creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you.

Selfishness and greed and the conservative mantra of "I-got-mine-and-fuck-all-y'all" is going back into the minority, where it belongs. His Freudian slip was showing here:

I can almost hear the conversation they're having at their kitchen table after they put their kids to bed. Like millions of Americans, they're asking questions as ordinary as they are profound. Questions they never ever thought they'd have to ask themselves:

—Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone?

—Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars just to fill up the gas tank?

—How in God's name, with winter coming, how are we gonna heat the home?

—Another year, no raise?

—Did you hear? Did you hear they may be cutting our health care at the company?

—Now, now we owe more on the house than it's worth. How in God's name are we going to send the kids to college?

—How are we gonna retire?

You know folks, that's the America that George Bush has left us, and that's the America we'll continue to get if George — excuse me, if John McCain is elected president of the United States of America. Freudian slip! Freudian slip!

Change, or more of the same? Pretty easy choice to make in November, I think.

Big Dog in da howse

He drives some of us wild and most of them nuts -- like they aren't already -- and last night he threw his support to Obama while at the same time throwing McLame under the bus:

The delegates stood on their feet and roared for nearly 3 1/2 minutes when Clinton walked on stage. The former president basked in their affection, but after several false starts at his speech, commanded: "Sit down!"

Actually it was more request than command: "Y'all sit down! We gotta get this show on the road!"

“The campaign generated so much heat, it increased global warming,” he said of the primaries. “In the end, my candidate didn’t win. But I’m very proud of the campaign she ran: She never quit on the people she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she wants for all our children.”

And a few more excerpts, courtesy Ted:

In this decade, American workers have consistently given us rising productivity. That means, year after year, they work harder and produce more. Now, what did they get in return? Declining wages, less than one-fourth as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty, and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s. American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage.


They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty; and millions more losing their health insurance. Now in spite of all this evidence, their candidate is actually promising more of the same.


Think about it: more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy; more Band-Aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families, and increase the number of uninsured; more going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence. They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more.

Then Clinton turned his focus on the only argument Republicans seem capable of making -- that Obama isn't "ready to lead":

Everything I learned in my eight years as president, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job. He has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful president needs. His policies on the economy, on taxes, on health care, on energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives. He has shown a clear grasp of foreign policy and national security challenges and a firm commitment to rebuild our badly strained military. His family heritage and his life experiences have given him a unique capacity to lead our increasingly diverse nation in an ever more interdependent world.


Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world. Barack Obama is ready to honor the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States.

He is certainly a lot more ready than George Bush ever was, and the past eight years of demonstrated incompetence, failure, and outright deception are proof enough of that.

Really, it is to laugh: if somehow the GOP's warped definition of "leadership" was a decent argument then we would be wrapping up eight years of an Al Gore administration (or even four years of a John Kerry one).

George Bush had never traveled outside the United States prior to being elected president (sic). And not because he couldn't afford to.

Poor John McSame is -- besides being wrong about most everything else -- on the wrong side of history: the US hasn't elected the guy with the most Washington experience since Truman (that is, if you don't count The Wimp).

I sent him an e-mail pointing this out, but I'm pretty sure his staff did not print it out and read it to him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gustav by Labor Day

Have a happy Labor Day weekend but pay attention to the weather reports:

If the storm continues to stall it could favor a Texas landfall as the time may allow a ridge of high pressure over Florida and the Bahamas to strengthen and possibly expand. Alternatively a weakness could open in the ridge and allow Gustav to move northward -- hence the uncertainty in the forecast.

It is around this ridge that Gustav will eventually trace its way into the Gulf of Mexico, so the further west the ridge moves, the further west Gustav will move.

"She needs to gut McCain"

The words of Pat Buchanan, a few minutes before Hillary spoke last night.

And sure enough, she left the bloody entrails of the former POW and now half-owner of between seven and ten houses all over the dais of the Pepsi Center last night.

(One thing you can count on when you take on the Clintons: they won't be bringing a knife to a gunfight. Tuesday night, however, was all right for a gut hook.)

The vainglorious and mostly unintelligible James Carville on CNN was perturbed -- Pumas adorning his feet while on camera -- carping aloud about "the message" the convention was sending. Apparently it wasn't tough enough to suit his taste. This coming from a guy who no doubt regularly eats nutria.

I hope he was grinning like a shit-eating ape after Hillary lit it up last night. For my part I certainly was.

Hillary was both staunch advocate throughout for Obama as well as grateful recipient of her supporter's efforts, and even once a gentle scold:

Those are the reasons I ran for President. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

Anyone who is unpersuaded -- and I'm sure there are still some -- isn't worth trying to reach out to any more. A few minutes later Mrs. Clinton took out the blade:

John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn’t think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it’s okay when women don’t earn equal pay for equal work.

With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.

Pssst: McCain has a giant "W" tattooed on his lower back.

But the best line of the evening was when she invoked Harriet Tubman, the real emancipator of slaves (all respect to Abraham Lincoln). The lead-in was the acknowledgement of the anniversary of the suffrage movement ...

I’m a United States Senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women’s rights in our history.

And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter -- and a few sons and grandsons along the way.

These women and men looked into their daughters’ eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail.

And after so many decades -- 88 years ago on this very day -- the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution.

My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President.

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

How do we give this country back to them?

By following the example of a brave New Yorker , a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad. And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they’re shouting after you, keep going.

Don’t ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going. I’ve seen it in you. I’ve seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military - you always keep going.

We are Americans. We’re not big on quitting.

But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.

We don’t have a moment to lose or a vote to spare.

Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance.

I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come election day. And think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your life and on the life of our nation.

We’ve got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us, and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.

Thank you, Mrs. Clinton, for all that you do. Have done, and will do. Thanks for coming to Texas next month to campaign for Obama and Rick Noriega and our other Democratic candidates. And thanks for your unyielding service to our country.

You make me -- indeed, you make all Americans, even the Republicans -- proud.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Trying" to "redefine" is simply false

A bad headline by an otherwise capable reporter (and here's hoping it's just a bad editor who wrote it, and not Rick Dunham):

"Democrats try to redefine Michelle Obama"

Here the readers are forced to accept the premise that the GOP has "defined" Michelle Obama to a degree that she needs the Democratic Party to "try" to "redefine" herself. That's a frame worthy of Fox News, not the Chronicle.

Spectacularly poor job of utilizing the Republicans' talking points. Grade: F.

Another one scores a 'D':

"Kennedy outshines Obama's wife at Democratic convention" (that's how it reads at the top of the home page), but "Democrats connect past to future to start convention" when you click in.

I don't believe it was a competition between the two, for openers.

This reveals part of the problem with the traditional, corporate media and their efforts to "show both sides" of every issue: sometimes there's only the truth, and the conservative spin. See Warming, Global or Science, Creationist for more examples.

Once upon a time a journalist's primary task was to dig for and present the facts, letting the chips fall where they may. These days it presents the point and the GOP's counterpoint.

Update (10:20 a.m.): It's now been changed to "Kennedy the highlight of Democratic convention opener".

The electorate needs better effort from the media than this.

In more entertaining developments, Keith Olbermann told Joe Scarborough to "get a shovel":

Now that's how you're supposed to hit back.

Keep an eye on Gustav

His winds are already up to 90 mph, and while he's a week or so away, he will be a big one ...

People are buzzing about Gustav because it seems to have the best chance of any tropical system since the record 2005 Atlantic hurricane season's Katrina, Rita and Wilma to traverse the central Gulf of Mexico, where the loop current stands ready to aid in the rapid intensification of a hurricane.

It's also the time of year, from now until the end of September, when the Gulf waters are at their warmest. So if we're to have a major hurricane strike the Gulf coast this year, now's the time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Isn’t She Lovely?"

9:45 p.m. : Michelle Obama talks about standing at the crosscurrents of history, with the anniversaries this week of women winning the right to vote and of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

She lauds people who work hard every day, and among them: “People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling” — here she steps back from the podium and applauds Mrs. Clinton along with the crowd in the hall — “so that our daughters and sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.”

Our lion still roars

His wave familiar, his voice firm, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy told a cheering Democratic National Convention Monday night that his is "a season of hope" for a stronger future in America despite his struggle against brain cancer.

And he added: "I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate."

Pre-Convention Week Wrangle

Charlie K links to those of us who are on the scene in Denver (I'll be live-blogging from the front of my teevee, like Neil) and the rest of the best of Texas progressive blogs for Democratic national convention week is -- in the immortal words of the late Houston furniture empresario Bobby Finger -- "at your fingers":

refinish69 explains why Travis County and Texas doesn't need another Keel at Doing My Part For The Left.

Two White guys in Houston want each others' jobs. Former Gov. Mark might run for for mayor, and current Mayor Bill may run for governor. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the Frick-and-Frack report.

Prepare yourself for a shock when you visit Bluedaze and see the BILLIONS in handouts given to Big Oil. TXsharon shows how these handouts, paid with our taxes, enable Big Oil to buy influence, work against our best interest, blatantly ignore laws and keep the US dependent on hydrocarbons rather than moving forward.

Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger wonders why, if Washington is broken as McThuselah's campaign says, McThuselah himself hasn't done something to fix it since he's been there more than, you know, 25 years.

The major media outlets may be arguing about whether experience, the war or the economy is the most important issue in this year's presidential election, but jobsanger says there is only one issue that matters , and it's not any of those three.

The Texas Cloverleaf exposes the plan by Congressman Michael Burgess and the Bush DOT to make I-35 from Dallas to Denton a toll road!

BossKitty at TruthHugger is concerned about WATER and what our fearless leaders plan to do about it: "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink."

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog wonders when Houston will find good leadership – in government, in corporations looking for good PR, anywhere – for recycling.

Off the Kuff criticizes state Sen. Dan Patrick and state Rep. Frank Corte for their request for a ruling from AG Greg Abbott that the Lege can require cities to enforce federal immigration laws.

Texas Liberal says that he is not a bridge builder.

Before she took off for the DNC convention in Denver, and the Big Tent, Texas Kaos frontpager SCCS took a look at the state of the Central Texas Congressional races.

The rich get visas while the poor were asked to self-deport, notes CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts about Perry, Dewhurst, and Craddick's new toll road plan in Texas GOP Leaders Want To Use Public Pension Funds To Build Corporate Toll Roads.

Vince from Capitol Annex takes a look at Republican state representative candidate Van Brookshire's stupid press release about immigration and the incorrect facts he based it on.

North Texas Liberal shares a stunning tribute to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, penned by a great friend of the late congresswoman.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Evening Funnies (the sad ignorance of conservatives edition)

EV 8/24: Still close

A few states move into the grey tossup column: NV, NH, and FL. IN moves red so the numbers are still an improvement for the Republican. There's no way yet to score the electoral bounce Obama will get by this time next week of McCain's houses gaffe, or the selection of Biden, or just the standard convention bounce -- which McCain will try to limit by announcing his veep on Friday, the day after Obama's outdoor acceptance speech.

<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>

Cindy McCain ‘unsure’ how many half-sisters she has

Thanks to Rag Blog for the Andy Borowitz satire (that bites in a hideous way):

Ms. McCain's claims of being an only child were clouded this week by revelations that she has at least two heretofore unmentioned half-sisters, leading to reporters' queries as to whether more undisclosed half-siblings were waiting in the wings.

When a reporter from the Toledo Blade asked Mrs. McCain at a campaign stop in Ohio about how many half-sisters she had, she looked momentarily startled by the question before handing it off to a staff member.

Mrs. McCain's uncertainty about the precise tally of her siblings, coming on the heels of her husband's confusion about the number of the couples' homes, might not be as big a problem for the McCain campaign as some might expect, says Davis Logsdon, professor of economics at the University of Minnesota. "As long as the couple has more homes than half-sisters, they could easily house one of the half-sisters in each of the residences and keep them happy," Dr. Logsdon says. "However, if the number of half-sisters grows faster than the number of homes, that could potentially lead to crowding."

Mrs. McCain actually has only one half-sister, who did not share in the $100-million beer distribution inheritance left to Cindy by her father. The "only child" comments seem to be nothing more than another cruel cut.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, August 23, 2008


David Brooks, in a rare cogent moment:

Working-Class Roots. Biden is a lunch-bucket Democrat. His father was rich when he was young — played polo, cavorted on yachts, drove luxury cars. But through a series of bad personal and business decisions, he was broke by the time Joe Jr. came along. They lived with their in-laws in Scranton, Pa., then moved to a dingy working-class area in Wilmington, Del. At one point, the elder Biden cleaned boilers during the week and sold pennants and knickknacks at a farmer’s market on the weekends.

His son was raised with a fierce working-class pride — no one is better than anyone else. Once, when Joe Sr. was working for a car dealership, the owner threw a Christmas party for the staff. Just as the dancing was to begin, the owner scattered silver dollars on the floor and watched from above as the mechanics and salesmen scrambled about for them. Joe Sr. quit that job on the spot.

I once worked for somebody like that myself.

Honesty. Biden’s most notorious feature is his mouth. But in his youth, he had a stutter. As a freshman in high school he was exempted from public speaking because of his disability, and was ridiculed by teachers and peers. His nickname was Dash, because of his inability to finish a sentence.

He developed an odd smile as a way to relax his facial muscles (it still shows up while he’s speaking today) and he’s spent his adulthood making up for any comments that may have gone unmade during his youth.

Today, Biden’s conversational style is tiresome to some, but it has one outstanding feature. He is direct. No matter who you are, he tells you exactly what he thinks, before he tells it to you a second, third and fourth time.

Presidents need someone who will be relentlessly direct. Obama, who attracts worshippers, not just staff members, needs that more than most.

While the comparisons to W and Cheney in 2000 are striking, this is one of the most fundamental differences.

Loyalty. Just after Biden was elected to the senate in 1972, his wife, Neilia, and daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash. His career has also been marked by lesser crises. His first presidential run ended in a plagiarism scandal. He nearly died of a brain aneurism.

New administrations are dominated by the young and the arrogant, and benefit from the presence of those who have been through the worst and who have a tinge of perspective. Moreover, there are moments when a president has to go into the cabinet room and announce a decision that nearly everyone else on his team disagrees with. In those moments, he needs a vice president who will provide absolute support. That sort of loyalty comes easiest to people who have been down themselves, and who had to rely on others in their own moments of need.

Experience. When Obama talks about postpartisanship, he talks about a grass-roots movement that will arise and sweep away the old ways of Washington. When John McCain talks about it, he describes a meeting of wise old heads who get together to craft compromises. Obama’s vision is more romantic, but McCain’s is more realistic.

When Biden was a young senator, he was mentored by Hubert Humphrey, Mike Mansfield and the like. He was schooled in senatorial procedure in the days when the Senate was less gridlocked. If Obama hopes to pass energy and health care legislation, he’s going to need someone with that kind of legislative knowledge who can bring the battered old senators together, as in days of yore.

As with Kos, I could have been much happier with a better progressive, but I have forgiven Joe for his bad vote on the bankruptcy bill, and believe this was the best of the remaining options Obama had winnowed.

This settling for the third-best, a-little-too-conservative choice is an early pattern of reaction for me to the coming Obama presidency. I won't be thrilled if the trend continues, I likely won't even be satisfied often, but compared to the blight of the first eight years of the century so far ... it's an improvement.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"They go Rezko, we go Keating"

Brian Rogers, McCain spokesman:

"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?"

Let's git it on, you little bitch.

"They go Rezko, we go Keating," said a Democratic strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity to divulge potential campaign strategy. "If they want to escalate, bring it on."

This is how you win a mothereffin' election in the RoveWorld.

The Keating Five is an old story, so many reporters have shied away from saying much about it because it isn't new -- there aren't a whole lot of new developments in the story. But with McCain talking about allegedly shady relationships, the opportunity is there to go back over McCain's ties to Keating -- whose nefarious activities, which were at least in part aided by his relationship with McCain, ended up costing the American taxpayer $3.4 billion (a whole lot more than the $14 million Rezko was alleged to have received).

Just how close was McCain to Keating? Take a look at this rundown I posted back in January:

Though McCain might try to downplay his involvement, his campaigns received $124,000 from Keating and his associates during the 1980s (AP, 3/2/91), and McCain was described as being personally closer to Keating than any of the other members of the Keating Five (Roll Call, 1/20/92). What's more, McCain accepted more than $15,000 in free trips from Keating, including vacations to Keating's resort in the Bahamas -- trips that McCain failed to disclose at the time (New York Times, 2/28/91; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3/90).

In the end, the crash of Keating's savings and loan -- which had been shielded by some of his best friends in the United States Senate -- cost billions to the American taxpayer, as mentioned above, and all told the federal government ended up on the hook for close to $125 billion in the fallout of the crisis that befell the underregulated industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Does McCain really want to have to talk about all of this? About the Bahaman vacations he took paid for by Keating? Probably not. But he may soon have to as a result of the shortsightedness of his campaign advisors.

Like Brian Rogers.

Attacks will keep working for the Republicans until we beat them at their game. That, and only that, will force them to think up a new game in 2012. In a post-Rove environment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John McMansions

It's easy now to see how the senior senator from Arizona got confused on his domiciles. He only owns what his wife owns, after all. But here's an inventory:

-- In California, McGrumpy owns three condominium properties. Two are in Coronado, both are on the beach, offering breathtaking views of the ocean, particularly at sunset, and are each valued in excess of $2 million (one at 2.1, one at 2.7). The other is in La Jolla, the tony suburb of San Diego, and is worth a paltry $1.1 mil.

-- In Arizona, McLame has three residences: a $4.67 million condo in the prestigious Camelback, a smaller unit in the Phoenix Biltmore, apparently lived in by one of his daughters and worth just $700,000; and the stunning Sedona compound, which only counts as one home but actually has five houses on the property. It was featured in the July 2005 edition of Architectural Digest and comes in at a fabulously reasonable $1.65 million.

-- And in Arlington, VA, a Crystal City condo valued at $847,000 for when he is performing his duties as United States Senator. Which hasn't been often this year.

McSenile also has a $10 million Cessna Citation to travel around to his various houses in.

Very confusing. I understand now.

Update: Why do the McCains own two condos in Coronado, you may be asking? Because their children crowded them out of the first one. And Mrs. McCain purchased the second condo about the same time her husband was commiserating with Americans who "were working at second jobs" and "skipping a vacation" in order to make their own mortgage payments.

Terribly, terribly confusing.

It's seven, John. Worth thirteen million bucks.

At least we know now he wasn't lying or even flip-flopping when he said he didn't understand economics. Oh well, Phil Gramm has rejoined the campaign; it can be his job to remind him. A couple of times a week:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."

Can't remember how many houses he owns, can't tell a Sunni from a Shia, thinks Pakistan shares a border with Iraq, has both supported and opposed offshore drilling, the Bush tax cuts ...

... and Obama is losing ground to this guy?

"I, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a representative from Ohio..."

Today, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, along with Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), entered a formal objection to the certification of the state of Ohio's (2004) electoral votes. Her prepared floor statement, in part, was as follows:

"I, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a representative from Ohio, and Ms. Boxer, a Senator from California, object to the counting of the electoral votes of the State of Ohio on the ground that they were not, under all of the known circumstances, regularly given.

"I thank God that I have a Senator joining me in this objection. I appreciate Senator Boxer's willingness to listen to the plight of hundreds and even thousands of Ohio voters that for a variety of reasons were denied the right to vote. Unfortunately objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate avenue to bring these issues to light.

"While some have called our cause foolish I can assure you that my parents, Mary and Andrew Tubbs did not raise any fools and as a lawyer, former judge and prosecutor, I am duty bound to follow the law and apply the law to the facts as I find them.

"It is on behalf of those millions of Americans who believe in and value our democratic process and the right to vote that I put forth this objection today. If they are willing stand at the polls for countless hours in the rain as many did in Ohio, then I can surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress.

"This objection does not have at its root the hope or even the hint of overturning or challenging the victory of the President; but it is a necessary, timely and appropriate opportunity to review and remedy the most precious process in our democracy."

"I raise this objection neither to put the nation in the turmoil of a proposed overturned election nor to provide cannon fodder or partisan demagoguery for my fellow Republican Members of Congress.

"I raise this objection because I am convinced that we as a body must conduct a formal and legitimate debate about election irregularities. I raise this objection to debate the process and protect the integrity of the true will of the people.

"Again, I thank Senator Boxer for joining me in this objection to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes due to the considerable number of voting irregularities that transpired in my home state.

"There are serious allegations in two lawsuits pending in Ohio that debate the constitutionality of the denial of provisional ballots to voters (The Sandusky County Democratic Party v. J. Kenneth Blackwell) and Ohio's vote recount (Yost v. David Cobb, et al.). These legitimate questions brought forward by the lawsuits, which go to the core of our voting and Democratic process, should be resolved before Ohio's electoral votes are certified.

"Moreover, as you are aware, advancing legislative initiatives is more challenging when you are in the minority party in Congress. However, this challenge is multiplied when you are in the minority in the House of Representatives because of House rules, compared to Senate rules.

"Voting irregularities were an issue after the 2000 presidential election, when Democratic House initiatives relating to election reform were not considered.

"Therefore, in order to prevent our voices from being kept silent, it is imperative that we object to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes and debate the issue of Ohio's voting improprieties.

"There are just over 1 million registered voters in Cuyahoga County - which of course includes the Greater Cleveland area and the 11th Congressional District which I represent. Registration increased approximately 10 percent.

"The beauty of the 2004 election was that more people were fully prepared to exercise their right to vote -- however on Election Day hundreds and even thousands of individuals went to the voting polls and were denied the opportunity to have their vote count.

"In my own county where citizen volunteers put forth a Herculean effort to register, educate, mobilize and protect the vote there were people who experienced irregularities.

"Poor and minority communities had disproportionately long waits -- 4 to 5 hour waits were widespread. Election Protection Coalition testified that more than half of the complaints about long lines they received came from Columbus and Cleveland where a huge proportion of the state’s Democratic voters live. One entire polling place in Cuyahoga County (Greater Cleveland) had to “shut down” at 9:25 a.m. on Election Day because there were no working machines.

"Cuyahoga County had an overall provisional ballot rejection rate of 32 percent. Rejection rates for provisional ballots in African American precincts/wards in Cleveland, Ohio averaged 37 percent and ranged as high as 51 percent.

"Thousands of partisan challengers -- concentrated in Cuyahoga County’s minority and Democratic communities -- effectively served to intimidate voters and confuse poll workers. There were both inconsistent and illegal requests for photo identification.

"There were problems with absentee ballots including incorrect information provided to voters by the Secretary of State and, consequently, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections telling voters they could not vote in their precinct –- effectively disenfranchising hundreds and more likely thousands of voters.

"This objection points out the inadequacy of a great election system which permits 50 Secretary's of State to administer a federal election and impose so many different state laws regulating the election.

"In Ohio, the Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who served as Co-Chair of the Bush re-election campaign, issued a bizarre series of directives in the days preceding the 2004 Presidential election that created tremendous confusion among voters in Cuyahoga County and across the state of Ohio.

"For example; on September 7, 2004, Secretary Blackwell issued a directive to local boards of elections mandating rejection of voter registration forms based on their paperweight – 80lb text weight. Mr. Blackwell’s issuance of this directive – which he ultimately reversed by September 28, 2004 - resulted in serious confusion and chaos among the counties and voters.

"My objection points to the need to implement across this nation standards that apply to all states. We need to enact legislation that will:

* Allow all voters to vote early - so that obligations of employment and family will not interfere with the ability to cast a vote.
* Establish a national holiday - Election Day - to bring attention to the importance of the vote.
* Require those who work in the voting booth to be fairly compensated, adequately educated and sufficiently supported such that the job importance will be elevated.
* That will provide equipment - whether it is the traditional punch card or the more modern electronic machines - that are properly calibrated, fully tested for accuracy and provide a paper trail to ensure a verifiable audit of every vote.

"What happened in Ohio may well have been repeated in counties across this country. Yet that is no excuse for us to push the irregularities behind us and go on with the business of the day. These incidents are a call for us to clean up, clear up and implement policies and procedures that will protect each citizen's precious right to vote.

"If in fact we see it is our obligation to secure democracy around the world to monitor and oversee free and fair elections in other countries surely we must ensure, protect and guarantee the right to vote right here at home."

Rest in peace, Stephanie. Thanks for fighting for all of us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More evidence attack ads work

I am in complete agreement with this:

While voters constantly complain about negative ads, campaigns use them because they work. A new LA Times national poll shows that a month of ads attacking Obama as a lightweight unready to lead have erased his lead nationally. The two are in a statistical tie. Obama's advantage in the electoral college has also vanished. If you compare the 2008 electoral college graph with the 2004 one, the parallels are striking. Kerry led throughout the summer until the Swift Boat ad kicked in, and it was downhill from there. Kerry never recovered.

It will be interesting to see if Obama has studied the 2004 campaign and goes negative himself. He has three possible themes. First, he can paint McCain as out of touch with how many Americans are struggling economically. If he wants to get personal (as McCain has), he can depict McCain as the man with $520 Italian shoes, half a dozen houses, a wife worth $100 million and the view that someone making $4 million a year is not rich. There is some evidence that he will continue to run a positive national campaign but start hitting McCain on the economy in specific media markets. For example, in Ohio he's hitting McCain because Rick Davis (McCain's campaign manager) helped broker a deal to move 8000 jobs from Ohio to Kentucky. A second theme is that McCain is an honorable man but at 71 is losing his marbles (can't tell a Sunni from a Shi'ite, thinks Czechoslovakia is still a country, etc.). A third plausible theme is that McCain used to be a maverick but in his pandering to the base has now repudiated everything he used to stand for (was against, now for Bush tax cuts; was for, now against his own immigration bill; was against, now for torture, etc.). In at least one way, Republicans are much smarter than Democrats: they fully realize that the way to win is to attack your opponent relentlessly, preferable on a single topic. This year's topic is Obama's lack of experience.

Obama's vice-presidential selection is unlikely to enthuse the Democratic grassroots base. He may get a small convention bounce that will almost surely be mitigated by McCain's efforts to thwart it. announcing his own veep pick the day after Obama's coronation before 75,000 in Denver's football stadium. The still-presumptive nominee will lead a not-so-unified party out of the convention, with the intractable, bitter PUMAs and other disaffected but less neurotic Clinton supporters diminishing his campaign's excitement.

He now must go on the attack against McCain -- and the sooner the better, or risk the same fate as John Kerry; losing an election that should be easily won, failing to respond quickly and forcefully in the face of reprehensible and scurrilous personal attacks.

This is the sorry state of presidential politics in America. If Obama refuses to get into a street fight with McCain and the second-generation Roves, he will lose the presidency. And he had better not wait much longer to start fighting.

In more encouraging developments, Toby Keith says he likes Obama, and outs himself as a Democrat:

"So as far as leadership and patriotism goes, I think it's really important that those things have to take place. And I think he's the best Democratic candidate we've had since Bill Clinton. And that's coming from a Democrat."

Something for all the rednecks to ponder as they drive around in their F-350's, with "Beer for my Horses" playing in the CD.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gov. White, meet Mayor White. Bill, you know Mark ...?

Two Whites want to trade jobs:

Former Texas Gov. Mark W. White is considering whether to run for mayor of Houston in 2009.

"It's a prospect," he said in telephone interview today.

The Democratic businessman, who grew up in Houston and served as governor from 1983 to 1987, added, "I have talked to a number of people (about running) and have been very pleased by their response."

Mayor Bill White, no relation to the former governor, cannot seek re-election because of term limits. The election 15 months from now will produce his successor.

Councilman and architect Peter Brown already has announced his candidacy for mayor. Lawyer and former Kemah Mayor Bill King is considered a likely candidate for the Houston job. Controller Annise Parker is expected to run for mayor, too.

Since King -- former Giuliani and now McCain supporter -- was the featured speaker at a Meyerland Democrats meeting last night, and since Brown -- previously known as both a staunch and progressive Democrat -- was spotted at last week's Karl Rove fundraiser, it sure would be nice if Houston had somebody running for mayor who knew which side of the street he was supposed to be working.

That is no slam against you either, Annise.

Biden? Portman? No, Maddow

I don't really care now whom the presidential candidataes pick; Rachel Maddow is getting her own show on MSNBC, right after Keith Olbermann:

Just in time for the closing rush of the presidential election, MSNBC is shaking up its prime-time programming lineup, removing the long-time host –- and one-time general manager of the network — Dan Abrams from his 9 p.m. program and replacing him with Rachel Maddow, who has emerged as a favored political commentator for the all-news cable channel.

The moves, which were confirmed by MSNBC executives Tuesday, are expected to be finalized by Wednesday, with Mr. Abrams’s last program on Thursday. After MSNBC’s extensive coverage of the two political conventions during the next two weeks, Ms. Maddow will begin her program on Sept. 8.

MSNBC is highlighting the date, 9/8/08, connecting it to the start of the Olympics on 8/8/08, as a way to signal what the network’s president, Phil Griffin, said “will be the final leg of the political race this year.” He added, “We're making that Rachel’s debut.”

Hallelujah. This is hands down the best news of the week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Funnies ("grandson of a millworker" edition)

EV 8/17: under 270

Give CO and NV to McCain this week. Obama is now under the victory threshold for the first time since this projection began here. He was clipping along at 300 EV or better just a few weeks ago.

We will likely see a vice-president pick this week, which may -- or may not -- stop the slippage. I would still like to see it be Dodd or Biden; Biden and Kaine appear to be the front-runners. The bad news? Chet Edwards is still being seriously mentioned. It may be good for a few downballot Texans but it would be a net negative for the nation (and the Texas Congressional delegation, where Edwards would likely be replaced by a genuine Republican).

<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>

George Bush's drunken Asian vacation

While Georgians died by the thousands, mind you:

One worth seeing enlarged:

Condi's summer vacation couldn't be interrupted either.

What can Christians do to accelerate global warming so Jesus comes back quicker?

In honor of The Lord's intervention in the trial of Victoria Osteen, as well as Rick Warren's Faith Forum last night (for which true believers paid between $500 and $2000 to attend) ...

As True Bible believing Christians™, we have a much better understanding about the fate of this planet than any Biologist, Environmentalist, or so-called scientist because we have a personal relationship with the Fellow who created this whole place to begin with! Friends, as True Christians™ then, being familiar with the Holy Bible gives you more authority than anyone who holds a post-graduate degree! That's something to be proud of - don't wince about it! And don't let people call you crazy! God's Holy Scriptures give the poorest farmer's servant in our congregation the power to win an argument with a Bio-Chemist, or a Nuclear Physicist -- without even knowing a lick about what them folks studied in their fancy secular universities! What these ignorant unsaved, over-educated folks don't understand is that they can gather all the data, all the research and present all the facts they care to collect about any subject under the sun - but when you hold it next to child-like faith in the Almighty God, the most learned Evolutionist or Environmentalist, will widen their blind eyes in awe, and cower in fear at the truth of God's Word! Praise Jesus! For the simple truth, we need only look to our old children's Sunday School song, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands!" Oh, GLORY!

Full sermon available at Landover Baptist.

Sunday Funnies (some funnier than others)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Harris County candidates forum on criminal justice and behavioral health

Now this looks like something rife with explosive opportunity. I'll be attending (and blogging):



One Voice and The Network of Behavioral Health Providers invite you to a Candidates' Forum at which candidates for key Harris County offices will offer their views on how the office for which they are running and the county can have an impact to ensure that the adult criminal justice system is not the community behavioral health treatment system "safety net".

It is a well known fact that nation-wide the failure to provide adequate community behavioral health services impacts a community's criminal justice system. In Harris County , much attention and effort have been paid to providing county inmates needed behavioral health treatment.

But should the Harris County Jail be the largest mental health facility in the state of Texas ?

DATE: Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RECEPTION: 5:00 - 6:00 pm

CANDIDATES' FORUM: 6:00 - 8:00 pm

LOCATION: United Way of Greater Houston

50 Waugh Drive

Houston, Texas 77007


(listed alphabetically under office)


Harris County Judge Ed Emmett

Mr. David Mincberg


Mr. C.O. "Brad" Bradford

Ms. Pat Lykos


City of Houston Council Member Adrian Garcia

Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas (Not Confirmed)

Please RSVP by Wednesday, August 20th to: or 713.333.2215