Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday "Conservatives are scared" Funnies

Or maybe that's not fear but teeth-grinding rage. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference ...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Name Joe the Plumber's C&W band

I'll start ...

American Substandard
Sam the Scam and the A-Holes
Country Joe and the Flush
Plunging Political Tool
The Ball Cocks
The Flush Puppies
Cracked Pipes
Fifteen Minutes
10,000 Flushes
Drunk on Drano
Portable John
The Hate Caulk Express
Sons of the Sewer
Country First After Me
Orville Wurzelbacher's GOPcorn

Inspired here.

I left you "crack", "leak", and any variety of other fecal and bathroom euphemisms. Have at it.

Why Texas politics is so screwed up

Not because Tom DeLay is still foaming at the mouth on your teevee. No, his rabies is in its terminal stages; he was once part of the problem, but no longer. Texas politics is a clusterf*ck because AT&T sponsors Tom Craddick's debates, and because nearly a fourth of all Texans in a recent survey think Obama is a Muslim.

First, Mistah Speakah and his lickspittle Leslie Ward, AT&T v-p/lobbyist:

Ward was one of three panelists moderating Sunday’s debate between Speaker Tom Craddick and Democratic challenger Bill Dingus. The other two were local radio hosts—you know, journalists. What was Ward doing there? The debate was hosted by TV station KMID, and “sponsored” by AT&T. While it’s not unusual for corporations to underwrite debates, that doesn’t normally buy their lobbyist a seat at the table.

But there was Ward, asking Craddick and Dingus questions such as: “In the Legislature a lot of emphasis is placed on seniority and rank. Does having the Speaker come from Midland make a difference?” Rough translation: Mr. Speaker, how did you become so awesome and why is your opponent beating his wife? Texas Monthly pundit Paul Burka called the seniority question “obviously a softball pitched so that Craddick can knock it out of the park.”

What a sick sad joke Tom Craddick is, not just on the people of his Midland district but on the entire state of Texas. Thankfully and once again, his Republican colleagues will try to dislodge him from the Texas House dais in January 2009:

Promising a three-term limit on House Speakers and a return to traditional rules on seniority in the House, Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) said this evening that he would work to consolidate support behind his efforts to become the next Speaker starting on Election Night.

In something of a shocker of a press statement, Keffer said that after touring the state over the past year, he’s now “100 percent sure a new Speaker for the Texas House of Representatives will be chosen for next session.”

I could go on and on about the offense to human decency that is AT&T. This blog post is going out on their tubes. I pay them a lot of money every month for a landline, DSL service, and my cellulalr lines. In return they spy on me, they give tote bags to Democratic national convention delegates, they purchase Congressional Democrats for the purpose of passing legislation granting them retroactive immunity for their wiretapping ... that's an abridged list of the corporation's atrocities. But I digress.

Regarding the state of Texas politics, you know what's even worse? This:

A University of Texas poll to be released today shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain and GOP Sen. John Cornyn leading by comfortable margins in Texas, as expected. But the statewide survey of 550 registered voters has one very surprising finding: 23 percent of Texans are convinced that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim. ...

The Obama-is-a-Muslim confusion is caused by fallacious Internet rumors and radio talk-show gossip. McCain went so far at one of his town hall meetings to grab a microphone from a woman who claimed that Obama was an Arab.

The Texas numbers are unusual because most national polls show that just 5 to 10 percent of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim — less than half the number of Texans who buy into the debunked theories.

And just read the comments of some of the believers at the link.

Sometimes you can't be anything but embarrassed for your neighbors. About one out of every four random Houstonians -- people in the restaurant where I'm dining, in the cars next to me at the stoplight, at the supermarket or drugstore where I shop -- believe Obama is a Muslim.

No wonder they're so terrified about next Tuesday.

I just don't feel sorry for this level of stupidity any more, though. Fuck 'em. They can spend the next eight years with a raging case of Obama Derangement Syndrome, and we can all call it even.

EV 10/30: Doesn't look all that close

More than ten Florida polls conducted since 10/26 show Obama with an aggregate lead of three points (48-45%), so we make it blue today. Similarly, five polls since 10/27 give McCain a three point advantage in Goergia, so it's red again. The ones that are still too close to call:

-- Missouri, where six polls since 10/26 have Obama leading by one (48-47), and North Carolina, where eight polls since 10/26 give Obama two-point lead (49-47). Indiana is also tight as a tick, where six polls since 10/28 have Obama one point ahead (47-46). Last-minute-deciding voters on Election Day will be the difference in each of these states.

--Montana and North Dakota are each in a dead heat on the basis of a single poll of each state that is aged a week or two. They're probably not that close, but stranger things have happened, so we'll leave them as is.

-- As for what you're hearing on your teevee about "swing states" and "battleground states" like Ohio and Pennsylvania ... forget them. Obama has them both locked down, with six- and twelve-point leads in multiple (as in more than 10) recent polls since 10/27. Arizona isn't all that close either despite what you may be hearing; McCain has an aggregate six-point lead, 50-44 in four recent 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>

But hey, I'm just PDid the Blogger who wants a book deal. Don't pay attention to me; look at what Nate Silver says:

Number one, John McCain is NOT closing Obama's margin as quickly as he needs to (if indeed he is closing it at all). This appears to be a 6- or 7- point race right now ... that's where we have it, that's where RCP has it, that where has it. In order to beat Barack Obama, John McCain will need to gain at least one point per day between now and the election. Our model does think that McCain has pared about a point off Obama's margin -- but it has taken him a week to do so. Now, McCain needs to gain six more points in six more days. And he needs to do so with no real ground game, no real advertsing budget, and no one particularly strong message. Not easy.

Number two, John McCain is NOT gaining ground in the states that matter the most. The top tier of states in this election are Virginia, Colorado and Pennsylvania. There is lots of lots of polling in these states, particularly in Virgnia and Pennsylvania, and it's all coming up in roughly the same range, showing Obama leads in the high single digits (in VA and CO) or the low double digits (in PA). The second tier of states is probably Ohio, Florida and Nevada. McCain seems to be getting a bit stronger in Florida; Obama seems to be getting a bit stronger in Ohio and Nevada. McCain does seem to have halted Obama's progress in some of the third-tier states, particularly Missouri and North Carolina. On the other hand, some other third-tier states, like New Mexico and particularly New Hampshire (where Obama is getting some insane numbers lately), now appear to be off the table.

My feeling is that John McCain still needs some sort of external contingency to win the presidency. Even if some of the more conservative turnout models are correct AND even if he were to win large majorities of the undecided vote, he is probably a little bit too far behind to catch up. Rather, McCain will need to find some way to eat into some fraction of Obama's decided vote, and because most of Obama's support is quite hard (e.g. enthusiastic), that will not be easy to do."

Surging toward seven hundred thousand

Maybe seven-fifty:

The number of voters casting early ballots surged again on Wednesday, bringing the total to more than half a million votes with two days left of early voting.

In 12 hours of voting at 36 Harris County locations on Wednesday, more than 70,000 people cast ballots — the highest daily total since the polls opened Oct. 20.

County voters have already set a record by surpassing the total number of early votes cast in 2004: 411,830.

By the numbers:

• 513,888: the number of people to vote in person at early voting stations so far.
• 49,558: the number of people who have returned mail ballots so far.
• 70,621: the number of people who voted at the polls on Wednesday.
• 66,506: the number of people who voted at the polls on Tuesday.

EVPA (early voting in person), as you can see, has sailed past Clerk Kaufman's initial projection of half-a-mil, so it's easy to predict a final tally of between 700-750,000 votes. The EV boxes that are located in the far-flung suburbs showed the strongest increases in turnout yesterday, while the Inner Loop polls sagged a little. Kuffner has the link to the spreadsheet by polling location and his usual top-notch analysis.

Is this going well enough to satisfy Chairman Birnberg? I'm guessing he's still a little twitchy.

I think a projection without mailed ballots is insufficient, so my prediction is that the 750,000 number gets reached with those, and I also believe that 500K is the low-end of the number of Houstonians who will vote next Tuesday. One point two million total was earlier projected by Harris County election officials, but that was also when they guessed 500,000 would vote early. So if we still are capable of reaching 700,000 on Election Day, that would be a total of 1.45 million Harris County voters.

I'll go 1.5. And I'm hoping that's too big a number for anybody to successfully steal the result.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Republicans say the darndest things

“Redistricting in Texas and throughout the country ensures that Republicans will continue to control the House through 2012. Over time, the Senate -- thanks to those wonderful square states out west -- will trend toward 60 Republicans as the 30 red states elect Republicans and the 20 blue states elect Democrats. The anomaly of four Democratic senators hailing from Republican North and South Dakota will come to an end, as will the Republican-held Senate seat in Rhode Island ..."

"A Bush-Cheney win will lead to Republican governors from Colorado, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York to compete to be the most Reaganite governor -- a positive result no matter who wins. And a Bush-Cheney win in 2004 will leave Terry McAuliffe and Bill and Hillary in complete and unchallenged control of the Democratic Party at least through 2008. This is good for the Republicans, if not the republic.”

-- Grover Norquist, in early 2005

(The Republican Party) "has become more narrow, more self-serving, more centered around 'I want, I want, I want.' ... (John McCain) "recites memorized pieces of information in a narrow way, whereas Barack Obama is constantly evaluating information, using his judgment. One guy just recites what's in front of him, and the other has initiative and reason and prudence and wisdom."

(I've) had it with colleagues who "don't understand the issues, who not only don't read the Financial Times, they have never heard of the Financial Times."

"We're in this bad place as a country because of the evangelicals, the neocons, the nasty, bitter and mean ... very clever ideological groups that use money, technology, fear and bigotry to lead people around. Voting according to your knowledge and experience -- that's out the window. Competence and prudence? Forget it."

"We've become a country that sits down in front of the boob tube and listens to people shouting about freedom, but now people equate freedom not with the acquisition of knowledge but with comfort." 'Give me my flat-screen TV, the gas-guzzling car, the goods made in China.' The whole concept of freedom has become the idea of comfort, with a complete lack of responsibility."

-- outgoing GOP Congressman Wayne Gilchrist, of Maryland

Isn't it amazing how some of them can be so stupid and some so smart at the same time?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Senate projection: 59-41

Let's show the map for US Senate races and the guess here for a filibuster-proof 60, which is coming up one vote short with a week to go.

Mark Begich over convicted Ted Stevens in AK, Mark Udall over Bob Schaffer in CO, Al Franken over Norm Coleman in MN, Kay Hagan over Liddy Dole in NC, Jeanne Shaheen over John Sununu in NH, Tom Udall over Steve Pearce in NM, Jeff Merkley over Gordon Smith in OR and Mark Warner over James Gilmore in VA are eight Democratic pickups, for the 59-41 spread I'm predicting.

That leaves one or two (so we can kick Joe Lieberman to the curb) to come from GA (Jim Martin v. Saxby Chambliss), KY (Bruce Lunsford v. Mitch McConnell), MS (Ronnie Musgrove v. Roger Wicker), and our very own Rick Noriega over John Cornyn.

I think you know which of those I'd wish for the most, but I won't be greedy; I'll take any one of them for the big-picture win.

Harris County GOP's "Love Boat"

Ew. These Republican sexcapades are just TMI:

Ed Emmett thinks that calling this a "culture of corruption" insults the county's low-level employees and workers. Ed, this is a reflection on you. You inherited this mess from Bob Eckels and then did nothing to clean it up. Let's review, courtesy Isiah Carey:

Since Emmett has been the head of Harris County government:

  • District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal resigned in disgrace after his racist, sexist and political emails were released. Emmett spent $50,000 in taxpayers money to try to keep the emails secret;
  • Sheriff Tommy Thomas has been the subject of media reports about the use of a county vendor to design one of his homes, and the sheriff’s department was accused of circulating racist emails;
  • County Commissioner Jerry Eversole announced he expects to be indicted after an FBI investigation of his conduct in office;
  • County Attorney Mike Stafford this week was accused of misusing campaign contributions, as well as giving his girlfriend a job in his office and six raises in two years, including a 65 percent raise five weeks after she was hired.
  • And now Emmett’s own emails revealed he is using his county office and staff to help manage his campaign, including setting up fundraisers. Emmett is trying to keep an undetermined number of other emails secret, claiming they are “personal.” The Harris County District Attorney is reviewing the Emmett email scandal to determine if any laws were broken.

We have to throw these lecherous bums out, as well as everyone who enabled their continued unacceptable behavior.

Be sure and vote early, and be sure and vote for David Mincberg for County Judge, and C. O. Bradford for District Attorney, and then vote for Adrian Garcia for Sheriff, and Vince Ryan for County Attorney. And finally, vote for Diane Trautman for Tax Assessor/Collector and Loren Jackson for County Clerk.

A couple of downballot races worthy of extra attention

First an update from Alan Bernstein on a top of the ballot race, SD-17 and Chris Bell, the gaggle of squabbling Republicans trying to force him into a runoff, and the big-money player-haters behind them:

Last week, we told you that a single person, Austin-based poiltical consultant Anthony Holm, was on record as Texans for Honesty, a "group" sending voters mail attacking Democrat Chris Bell in his race for a Houston-area state Senate seat.

Now that political action committee has updated its records with the Texas Ethics Commission to show a neatly woven group of heavyweight contributors.

This month the committee got $60,000 from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, $40,000 from politically connected beer distributor John Nau, $35,000 from Texans for Lawsuit Reform and $17,500 from the Patriot Group, the firm where Holm works and Perry and TLR are clients.

Nau supports one of Bell's Nov. 4 opponents, Republican Joan Huffman. Texans for Lawsuit Reform has given money to a Democrat in the race, Stephanie Simmons. Holm, Perry, Nau and TLR mostly back Republican candidates and causes and obviously are working hard to prevent Bell from getting 50-plus percent of the vote, which would dash the need for a runoff among the top two candidates in a six-candidate field.

"Desperate people do desparate (sic) things," Bell said. He asserted that negative political adveritising (sic) is more toothless than ever this year.

C'mon, Alan. You spelled it right the first time, and I'm sure Chris pronounced it the same way.

Now then, meet Dexter Handy, in an uphill challenge to replace Steve Radack:

In an election where Democrats have a chance to claim several of Harris County's top elected posts, at least one Republican incumbent still seems to enjoy quite a bit of job security: Commissioner Steve Radack.

Radack, who announced his retirement in 2005 only to decide two years later to seek a sixth and, he says, final term, faces retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dexter Handy for the right to represent west Harris County.

County commissioners serve without term limits and enjoy such a tremendous fundraising advantage that they almost never face serious opposition.

Handy, a 28-year military veteran, had just $1,200 in the bank as of early October, after taking in $5,400 in contributions and spending $6,100 between July and late September. Radack, by comparison, had $922,000 in the bank after accepting $39,000 in contributions and spending about the same amount in that time period.

University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said it would be a "real shock" if an underfunded, relatively unknown Democrat knocked off an entrenched Republican commissioner in a traditionally conservative precinct. However, the results could be unusually close as a growing number of minority families, who often vote Democratic, settle in Houston's western suburbs, Murray said.

"The county is changing," Murray said. "Is there enough change to put a 20-year commissioner in some peril? Probably not, but that's why we have elections."

Most of the Houstonians who've lived in his precinct know what kind of man Radack is. Handy towers over him by comparison ...

Handy, 50, said he would use his expertise in logistics and crisis management to improve communication among law enforcement agencies, diversify transportation options and clean up perceptions that Harris County's contracting system is unfair.

A marathon runner and avid cyclist, Handy is the former commander of a squadron responsible for constructing and renovating buildings and installing telecommunications and computer systems at Air Force sites worldwide.

Handy promised not to accept campaign contributions from anyone doing business with the county, and pledged to push the Legislature to adopt tough new ethics laws. He also said he would thoroughly analyze all requests and proposals for new roads, parks, community centers and other services to ensure they are placed in the right areas, and promised to make those studies public.

He said he also would work to develop seamless communication among the Harris County Sheriff's Office, all eight constables' offices and the Houston Police Department. Houston is not connected to Harris County's large regional public safety radio system, although city leaders recently announced plans to get a new $107 million emergency radio system.

The choice is clear. Let's hope the voters in west Harris County are as well.

Sing the next link in your best imitation of that line from "Best Little Whorehouse": The Texas Board of Education has a right-wing freak upon it ...

Watch out, parents. Democratic State Board of Education candidate Laura Ewing wants to convert your children to Islam.

At least, that's the implication of a campaign ad from her opponent, Republican David Bradley of Beaumont.

"Do you know what the Democrat for State Board of Education supports?" reads the handout, which was disseminated at a recent gathering of the Golden Triangle Republican Women and trumpeted earlier this year at a Republican senatorial convention.

The handout features a 2004 newsletter article documenting the scandalous details: In 2003, Ewing was one of nearly 20 social studies educators who traveled to Africa and India to study (gasp!) Islamic history and culture, with plans to develop curriculum for Texas schoolchildren in sixth-grade world cultures classes and high school-level world geography and history.

Need more proof? Bradley's ad features a photo of Ewing, former teacher, social studies curriculum specialist and Friendswood city councilwoman, caught red-handed, posing in front of the Taj Mahal!

Ewing admits her guilt: Yes, the educator dared to educate herself about Islamic culture, including everything from architecture to poetry.

Why did she do it? She claims it has nothing to do with converting Texas students to Islam, and everything to do with another radical philosophy: "We've got to understand other people because we're a global economy," she says. "We've got to prepare our students for the 21st century."

Where does she get this stuff?

The richest irony has to be that an incumbent on the State Board of Education doesn't understand the difference between Islam and Hinduism, the religion practiced in India.

There is so much wrong with David Bradley -- and for that matter, the entire SBOE -- that there are barely enough pixels on the entire Internet to explain how.

Let's put David Bradley out to pasture in Jasper or Buna or wherever the hell it is he actually lives when he's not crawling out from under a rock.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lampson, Skelly foundering

In a tidal-change election year, some things will sadly remain the same:

U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, trailed Republican challenger Pete Olson by 17 percentage points early last week, according to the survey by Zogby International. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, led Democratic challenger Michael Skelly more modestly, by 7 percentage points, with virtually the same margin of error.

In both Republican-friendly districts, a key factor appeared to be the Democratic candidates' inability to run strong among independent voters and cut deeply into the ranks of Republican voters.

Yeah, those would certainly be among the reasons. But another one also is that both men blew off the Democratic activist base in their districts by hewing hard to the right. Their attempts to lure Republican votes cost them both badly-needed blockwalkers and phone-bankers.

For his part Lampson has strongly supported the Iraq war, changed his mind to favor offshore drilling, and has touted his Blue Doggishness and desertion of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives as a "centrist" position, unbeholden to Speaker Pelosi.

The Republicans called bullshit anyway of course, and Nick hasn''t been able to make his (quite good) case of representing the 22nd District effectively.

Skelly meanwhile pissed all over MoveOn when they had a rally outside Culberson's office earlier this year. He has similarly proclaimed his enthusiastic support for "driling everywhere now". He calculated this was a necessity in a district that is home to Houston's energy corridor.

That was a miscalculation, in my opinion. Very comparable, I would say, to John McLame's picking Sarah Palin as V-P: a short-term gain which turned into a 4th-quarter drag.

Whatever votes Skelly and Lampson may have picked up by pandering to the Right with their conservative positions simply wasn't worth the grassroots support it cost them. No amount of millions in TV advertising affected this simple truth.

See, Republicans may cast a ballot but they aren't doing the blockwalks and phonebanks to help get the Democratic vote out for these guys. Even in a landmark election year -- when Democrats will likely retake several Harris County executive slots and judgeships, the rising blue tide won't be enough to lift Lampson and Skelly. They tied themselves to a red anchor.

Are there just too many damned Republicans in the 22nd and 7th Districts? Yes, there are. That's the way Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick drew them, after all. That will change in 2010 with a Democratic majority in the Texas House, though.

But the impact of Democratic activists -- yes, the liberals and progressives who put out the signs and electioneer the polls and attend the rallies and work our precincts -- who are lukewarm about a Democrat who tries too hard to look like a Republican, even in a Republican-leaning district, cannot be underestimated.

We know that when the voters have a choice between a real Republican and a pretend one, they'll vote for the real one every single time.

Truthfully -- and unfortunately for Lampson and Skelly -- there's too many Blue Dogs in the Congress as it is. The good news is that those conservative Democrats will likely be marginalized after November, but they are still rogues in the party. Nancy Pelosi is at fault here for not enforcing caucus discipline; she gives them carte blanche to run off the reservation if they feel they need to, so they do. It just looks a big bunch of pandering to Republicans.

You don't see any GOP Congresspersons acting too much like Democrats, do you? They get kicked out of the Republican party for that.

The reason Congress has approval ratings in the single digits is because many Democratic voters are highly displeased with the Democrats in Congress for refusing to stand up against the abuses of power of the Bush administration, among those issues torture and wiretapping. The reticence to end the war (Lampson) and the enthusiastic endorsement by a wind energy gazillionaire of "drill baby drill" (Skelly) show up as the straws that break the blue camel's back.

In the "More and Better Democrats" math, it looks like we'll have enough after next week. Now we need to make sure that the ones that get elected are the best Democrats they can be.

Mid-Early Voting, 8-Days-from-Election-Day Wrangle

Harris County blasted past 300,000 early voters yesterday, and the entire Lone Star is fast on its way to a voter turnout record despite the best efforts of partisans like Paul Bettencourt to suppress it. Lots of good final-week election postings in this edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Roundp-Up, compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Vote this week, wherever you live. Don't wait until the last day.

The Texas Cloverleaf helps spread the truth about ACORN.

McBlogger takes a look at our own Congressman from Clear Channel, Mike McCaul, and discovers that he is indeed different.

jobsanger points out the dysfunctional aspect of this year's Republican campaign, first in Palin Disagrees With McCain, and then in Repubs Can't See The Reality.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is sad to recognize that while America's Foreign Policy Suffers - Unemployment Soars - Religion Goes Toxic, the USA's short attention span has been grabbed by personal survival and courted by political and religious philosophies.

As early voting begins, Eye On Williamson charts the early voting numbers in Williamson County. HD-52 Democratic candidate Diana Maldonado continues to rack up the endorsements and launches her latest ad, taking on the insurance companies and high homeowners insurance.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted the second part of his "Who I Would Have Supported For President" series. The latest entry covered the years 1824-1852.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News is keeping the early voting info up for the voters who need it but did notice that all the PUMAs have come home to Obama.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the Texas Association of Business has finally pleaded guilty in connection with its 2002 violations of Texas' campaign financing laws and that state rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake) and state Sen. Kim Brimer (R-Fort Worth) have taken big bucks from a company the TCEQ fined more than a quarter-million dollars for polluting.

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme has some hints about how to get your specific sample ballot. Be prepared!

Off the Kuff analyzes the high level of early voting in Harris County so far.

XicanoPwr analyzes the GOP attack on ACORN and the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters carried out by Paul Bettencourt in Harris County.

John McCain describes the economy as a drive by shooting. The Texas Cloverleaf calls it a whack job.

North Texas Liberal reports on Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, and discusses why it could signal the end for her and John McCain's faltering campaign.

As Democrats in Harris County appear on the verge of something historic, the trends in the extraordinary early voting turnout portend the same blue surge that the rest of the country
is about to experience. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the deets.

refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left wants everyone to say thanks to Barbara at Avenue Gallery- NOT!!!

nytexan at Bluebloggin points out just how much McCain and Palin are alike with their FEC violations. We've gone from 8 years of the "emperor has no clothes" to "the empress has new clothes." The GOP is priceless. Palin is following in McCain's footsteps -- what a pair of mavericks: CREW Files FEC Complaint Against Palin. And McCain and Palin apparently have an affection for Russia: McCain's New FEC Violation: Asks Russia For Campaign Money.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More Funnies (Damned Socialism edition)

EV 10/26: Red state erosion

Yes, Ohio has slipped back to blue again, but the real story is all the red states that are suddenly tossups now: Montana, Indiana, and *gasp* Georgia. IN, in fact, is lately polling pretty blue, but I just can't put it in Obama's column yet.

Democrats across the country appear poised for a landslide of historic proportions, even here in Deep-In-The-Hearta. Is it for real? We'll know in nine days.

<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

Democrats poised to sweep Harris

Except for county judge Ed Emmett, who appears to have redeemed himself in the eyes of Houston voters as a result of his actions during Ike, not to mention benefiting from a glowing endorsement from Bill White. But the rest of the county's Republicans are an endangered species:

Democrats have reclaimed the voting advantage they lost 14 years ago in elections for Harris County offices, according to a poll conducted for the Houston Chronicle. But Republican County Judge Ed Emmett appears to be swimming strongly against the tide.

Voters favored Democratic candidates over Republican candidates by 7 percentage points in elections for county leadership jobs, except in the county judge's race, where Emmett has a 13-point lead over Democrat David Mincberg, according to the survey. Sixteen percent of the respondents were undecided or said they lean toward neither party's entry.

The number 7 also popped up specifically in the race for district attorney; Democrat C.O. Bradford ran 7 percentage points ahead of Republican Pat Lykos in the poll, conducted Monday through Wednesday as early voting began for the Nov. 4 election.

Now the caveat is that the polling outfit is Zogby, which has a poor track record of prognostication. Unless their methodology has improved I simply place only a small bit of enthusiasm in these numbers. Still ...

The pattern suggests that the Democratic identity has become more popular here in the last two years and/or that Barack Obama's lead in the national presidential race is filtering down to local elections, pollster John Zogby said.

"It's about the party, and it's about the (presidential nominee) characters," he said.

The results point to Nov. 4 becoming the first transitional election in Harris County since 1994, when Republican challengers swept Democratic administrators and judges from their jobs as the "Republican revolution" led by then-U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich captured the majority in Congress.

County leadership races on the ballot are for county judge, DA, sheriff, tax assessor-collector, county attorney and district clerk.

There were two exceptions to the local trend.

In the 40 judicial races on the ballot, voters favored Democratic challengers over Republican incumbents by 3.7 percentage points. The finding puts the party's judgeship slates in a statistical tie, because the gap is within the poll's margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

Now that's significant, because as the story notes ...

Most Republican judges seeking re-election have campaigned as a group, saying they protect people and property through their work in the criminal and civil courts. Democratic candidates for court benches mainly have campaigned individually or as part of the overall Democratic ticket.

That's what we're seeing in the political advertising here. Only the Texas Supreme Court Republicans are running individual ads -- as the Democrats do so collectively -- while the Democratic county judicials have ads for themselves all over cable TV. The Texas Democratic Party is spending $800,000 in the television ad campaign to capture a seat or three on the TSC.

In county leadership races and specifically in the race for district attorney, the Democratic contenders had robust leads over their Republican opponents among moderate voters and even got 20 percent or more from conservatives, according to the survey.

This year has been troubling for Republicans on the local scene. The campaign season has included the resignation of Republican District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal and controversies about the actions of Sheriff Tommy Thomas and Commissioner Jerry Eversole.

The poll assumes the black and Hispanic populations each will contribute 20 percent of the countywide vote.

Some local experts predict a higher turnout by blacks, citing excitement about Obama's candidacy. They also say Hispanic turnout could be lower than 20 percent, because while the number of Hispanic registered voters keeps climbing, they probably have never voted at that level countywide.

A combined minority turnout above 40 percent could add to the advantage for local Democratic contenders. Eight-five percent of blacks, 60 percent of Asian-Americans, 54 percent of Hispanics and 28 percent of non-Hispanic whites in the survey said they favor Democrats in county leadership elections.

Turnout in Harris, as many have noted, is through the roof. Just south of 300,000 people have cast a ballot so far, and there's still a final week of early voting to go.

Things are looking awfully good, but there's still more work to be done if you're a grassroots activist. Keep making those phone calls and walking those blocks, and let's see if we can't make anothe hurricane in Houston land hard.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palin "going rogue", a "diva" -- according to McCain campaign

Rogue elephants I've heard of; rogue divas sounds like hyperbole. Too bad it's a description coming from some of her own people:

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."...

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."


No "relationships of trust with any of her family"? That's a pretty cold shot. And do divas actually only "trust only unto themselves"? Is that the same thing as trusting only themselves? I don't read the Bible so I don't really dig the emphasis that the word 'unto' is intended to convey.

These people are so over...

A furious, old, self-important reformist poseur stuck in the previous century versus a young, ambitious, fundamentalist airhead "rogue" "diva" ... who would have guessed a year-and-a-half ago that the wrestling match for the soul of a dying and discredited political party would come down to this?

And can you believe people are stupid enough to stand in line for hours just to vote for these assholes? That the numbers indicate that a majority of those of us in Harris County now know better only makes us "out of step with the rest of Texas".

Thank God at last for that.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The McCain Mutiny

If Colin Powell, Christopher Buckley, and Kenneth Adelman weren't enough, now there's Scotty McClellan.

Somebody call Rush Blimpbaugh today and ask him if it's because they're all African-Americans.

There's many more, of course. William Weld and Susan Eisenhower and C. C. Goldwater and Jim Leach and Lincoln Chafee and on and on like that.

And this week's headlines are all pretty miserable, too -- just as they have been for weeks now. If it's not Sarah Palin's wardrobe or her falsified expense accounts, it's McLame's monotonous bleating about taxes and Joe the Plumber. The malaise settling onto the Republican party like a Boston fog has as much to do with their failed ideology as it does their impending electoral wipeout.

So what's left to bitch about, then? Socialists and terrorists? ACORN and Ayers, but no "middle class". How's that working out?

Nemmind. I can see the success in that strategery.

Update: Ouch, that stings ...

Conservative legal scholar and Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried, who just endorsed Obama, isn't just a Republican. He's actually one of McCain's campaign advisors.

Before they cycle down the memory hole, here's Fried on McCain's Honest and Open Election Committee and Justice Advisory Committee.

Key to his decision was McCain's "choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

EV 10/23 (12 days away): The race tightens a little

Historically this is nearly always the case in the final days of the campaign. And recent polling reflects a closer race in the swingers, including Missouri, Florida, Ohio, and happily enough, North Dakota. So let's slide them back over into the grey"tossup" column. McCain needs them all and still can't get there, but the trends are interesting enough to watch closely.

<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>

Early voting trends reveal a "liberal bias"

Just like the facts, as Steven Colbert might observe:

The names of the people who vote early in Texas are public record. Each day the Harris County clerk's office provides the list of voters to at least 15 people who have requested them. Each person must pay $60 total to get the list from the 12 days of early voting.

Here's what they do with the lists: If you voted, they cross your name off the roster of voters they want to contact before Election Day, Nov. 4. Doing so saves the campaigns precious resources.

They also use other databases to see you if you have a history of voting in the primaries. This way they can take an educated guess about how the voting is going so far.

Here's what they know: About two-thirds of the record-smashing, high-volume early vote in Harris County supposedly has been cast by people with a Democratic voting history.

Want to know who's looking at the data? Alan B listed their names. There's also this:

According to the County Clerk, for the first time in recent memory, it appears the number of people voting inside the Loop is on par with the number of people voting outside of it.

Anyone in the county can vote at any one of the 36 early voting locations. But analysts said that because more people are voting near the core of the city, it suggests a shift -- not just in voting patterns, but potentially on which candidates and which party will come out on top.

"The polling I've seen, both in terms of exit and Election Day, would suggest that the turnout within the city will be historically high. The Democrats will probably be favored in terms of straight-ticket voting. It's difficult to make much of three days, but the trends would suggest that this favors the Democrats," said Bob Stein, 11 News Political Analyst.

But hey, there's only been three days of early voting. Too early to suggest anything like a blowout or a landslide.


Seriously though, I used to work with the son of Texas racing legend AJ Foyt, and I took note of one of the interesting things he said as we watched that race in 2001 where Dale Earnhardt was killed by a p.i.t. maneuver:

"It's the Daytona 500. You don't take your foot off the gas."

Yeah. Let's don't.

: From Harvey Kronberg ...

A reliable Republican source tells QR that a computer analysis of early voting in Harris County indicates that Democrats have had a very good first two days of early voting.

By matching up early voters with their primary histories, our source tells us that Democrats outvoted Republicans 2.6 to 1 on the first day of early voting and 2.4 to 1 on day 2.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"An old-fashioned Texas Democrat with the right voice for these new times"


Come January, the halls of Congress will likely be populated by strengthened Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Texas will need able representation in all arenas in that shifting legislative environment.

It will be especially important for Texans to have a strong, respected voice inside the expected Democratic majority in the Senate. Rick Noriega offers such a voice, with a distinctive Lone Star tone and perspective. The Chronicle endorses Noriega for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican John Cornyn.

The contrast on the issues follows the logic ...

(The term "Texas Democrat"), once common currency in the state's political conversation, seems to have fallen out of favor over the past several Republican-dominated years. But it resonates once more in this season of voter discontent with partisanship uber alles. Some old-fashioned moderate bipartisanship, Texas style, should be much welcomed in the Washington debate, particularly on overheated topics such as energy and immigration. Rick Noriega can provide it.

Noriega well understands that there are subjects on which Texas Democrats must stand apart from the party's national leadership. Energy is one. He is committed to bringing the message that the nation will need new domestic oil and gas supplies as it builds a bridge to greater energy independence and increased reliance on alternative energy sources. He will be able to point out in a forceful and personal way the folly of relying almost exclusively on hurricane-prone areas of the Gulf for supplies when abundant reserves can be tapped on the East and West coasts with little risk to the environment.

On immigration, Noriega is in step with traditional Texas views of tolerance and a warm embrace of cultural differences, rooted in respect for the law. He will bring calm and reason to the national debate.

This rundown is devastating to the incumbent, and the Chron notes:

...John Cornyn also has been a too-loyal foot soldier for the Bush administration, willing to make a right turn off the cliff in support of fatally flawed policies on Iraq and torture, as well as casting improvident votes on a host of social issues. Unlike Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, he is not known for his attention to constituent services.

Over the years, Noriega has worked his way up through the ranks. He has distinguished himself as a soldier in Afghanistan and on the Texas-Mexico border, and as an elected official in Austin. During Hurricane Ike, he performed duty above and beyond the call helping those in need at the George R. Brown Convention Center. He richly deserves a promotion to Washington.

Noriega is showing himself to be the model of an effective Democrat — a centrist, moderate Texas Democrat — in a time when most voters are sick of political extremes. As such, he may one day set the standard for what a strong Texas senator can be.

The Senate seat contested by Cornyn and Noriega has an impressive pedigree. Prior to Cornyn it was held by Phil Gramm, John Tower and Lyndon Johnson. Noriega would make a worthy successor.

Rick Noriega reflects the new face of Texas while speaking in the welcome tones of moderation that are a tradition worth reviving. The Chronicle urges a vote for Noriega for U.S. Senate.

Freeper heads exploded on impact.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Double the early vote

A total of 39,201 votes were cast Monday in Harris County, a record turnout almost double that of 2004's first day and one that was mirrored across Texas. The precise total of ballots case in the state's 15 most populous counties will not be known until today, but the number certainly will eclipse the 145,000 from four years ago.

I lined up at my usual early voting location, the Fiesta supermarket on South Main -- nearly in the shadow of Reliant Stadium (and next to the old Astrodome) -- at 1:30 p.m yesterday. I guessed that there must have been at least two hundred people ahead of me.

That has never been the case before, not even during the primary in March . I have never waited more than about ten minutes to vote (though when my wife cast her primary ballot on the only Saturday of the early voting period, she had to wait about thirty minutes).

Across Harris County, the scene ranged from subdued to circuslike as thousands of citizens lined up to vote. Some arrived hours before the polls opened, drawn, they said, by national crisis and a sense of history.

"Our ancestors died for us to be in line this day," said Bernadette McWilliams, who joined about 100 others in a largely African-American group waiting for poll doors to open at Palm Center in the 5300 block of Griggs Road.

Read the full piece about the heavy turnout across Texas, as well as the problems reported with voting machines.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Early Voting Wrangle

It's the first day of the early voting period in Texas, and here's this week's edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly round-up, compiled for me by Vince from Capitol Annex.

The Texas Cloverleaf took part in Blog Action Day this past Wednesday. Find out how you can combat poverty in your neck of the woods.

Bay Area Houston listed the fines for state representatives and senators issued by the Texas Ethics Commission in 2007 and 2008. Enjoy!

jobsanger discusses voting and registration. He says the E-Voting Can't Be Trusted without a paper trail, and ACORN Is Not Committing Fraud in their effort to register over a million new voters.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that state rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake) is misleading voters about his poor record on education in his newest mailer, and that the mainstream media is calling John Cornyn's performance in the final debate "less than senatorial."

In the first of a series of posts on past presidential elections, Neil at Texas Liberal offers up Who I Would Have Supported For President 1788-1820.

WhosPlayin goes off on a Republican county chair who thinks a candidate's sexual preference is more important than the substance of his ideas.

Off the Kuff takes a look at why some people won't be able to cast their ballot during the first few days of early voting.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants a fair election without Republican voter suppression and questionable electronic voting machines.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the fake controversy about voter "registration" fraud: Gone nuts about ACORN. And Diana Maldonado released her first TV ad this week: HD-52: Diana Maldonado is on TV in "Texas' Comeback".

Now that McBlogger has torn him a new cesspool, Joe The Plumber's fifteen minutes of fame are OVER.

North Texas Liberal dissects Obama's wide lead on McCain in the polls and the projected electoral map. Also, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama for president. (Start following us on Twitter for mini-updates and breaking news!)

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News has put up his Early Voting Info post but also announced he is rapidly becoming a clueless Cassandra.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is sad to recognize that Sex Scandals, Scams, Phishing and Your Bank Accountare signs of deeper disorders. Power, Money and Sex are hopelessly intertwined with EGO.

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog laments the loss of Gordon Quan as a future candidate.

Burnt Orange Report takes a look into the numbers of the latest poll in the U.S. Senate race and tells why it might be even closer than it looks.

Over at TexasKaos, fake consultant discovers a Gaint Load of Hooey in one of THOSE emails. Just for fun, he investigates the "facts". The result is an education in how desperate the McCain-Palin crowd have become.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

EV 10/19: Blue Mizzou

Missouri looks like it's going for Obama, noted in the recent polling as well as the 100,000 people who showed up for an Obama rally in St. Louis and 75,000 in Kansas City yesterday. As Greg notes, that last happened in 2004 in Madison, WI and The Boss was involved. There's also some evidence that North Dakota and West Virginia are very close, but I simply cannot believe that either state has a legitimate chance to go Democratic.

Two weeks to go and it appears this election is coming in for a landing.

<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

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Texas SOS, Harris registrar fall behind in processing voter registrations

But I'm sure there will be plenty of provisional ballots available:

Thousands of Texans who registered to vote a few weeks ago likely will find their names missing from official voter lists when early voting starts Monday for the Nov. 4 election, officials said.

The voters will be allowed to cast ballots but may have to fill out special forms at polling stations or wait a few days before voting, according to state and Houston-area election administrators.

Officials blame a deadline-beating rush of registration applications before Oct. 6, and maintenance to a computer database of Social Security numbers, for the fact that many registrations won't be processed in time for the early voting kickoff.

But praise be, tax assessor-collector/voter registrar Paul Bettencourt indicates that only 7000 Houston-area voters may be affected:

In Houston, about 70 employees in the voter registrar's office will work through the weekend to clear most of a backlog of about 30,000 applications, Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt said Friday. Some will turn out to be valid, others duplicates or address changes for voters on the rolls.

But, he said, perhaps 7,000 applications from Harris County residents will require extra verification and probably won't be cleared before Monday, the first of 12 days of early voting at 36 county locations.

The Secretary of State's Office in Austin must also verify the applications, using driver's license and partial Social Security numbers, before voters are added to lists in each county of qualified voters. But as the state agency works through the weekend to handle applications submitted by counties, it will take about 24 hours to approve each new voter.

"We were keeping up very well with the increased load, but we started to run a little behind when the Social Security Administration closed their (computer program) down for maintenance last weekend," said Ashley Burton, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Hope Andrade. "Since the start of October there has been a huge increase in the number of new voter records that the counties have submitted for verification."

No information was available on the database outage, a Social Security spokeswoman in Dallas said Friday. Nor were statistics available from the state on what Burton called applications from "large amounts of new voters" outside Harris County.

So as the conservatives continue to drive themselves nuts over ACORN, the voter suppression efforts contine to be the real story locally. Bettencourt says that ten thousand people missed the deadline to vote in this election (note also the statistics I bolded below for future reference):

Many Harris County residents may not realize, until they try to vote, that their registrations were submitted or mailed too late for the Oct. 6 deadline.

About 10,000 such registrations will be added to the rolls for future elections, Bettencourt said, but those voters will be unqualified to vote in the Nov. 4 election for president, Congress, county officers and other government positions.

About 1.94 million voters will be eligible to cast ballots this year in Harris County, roughly the same number for the last presidential election. The statewide voter roll has edged up to 13.4 million, about 300,000 more than last time.

The Harris County election administrator, County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, said 300 or so staffers at early voting locations are prepared to assist residents who want to vote even though they may be missing from registration records.

For voters who present a voter registration card or other identification — no photo ID is needed — but whose name is absent from the voter rolls, election workers first will call Bettencourt's office to see if their registrations have been approved, Kaufman said. In many cases, voters will immediately be cleared to vote.

Voters whose names are not on the lists may also vote immediately after swearing, in a written provisional ballot form, that they registered. But their votes will be separated from the main ballot record, Kaufman said, and will be counted after Nov. 4, if their registration is verified.

Or perhaps they won't be counted at all. Seriously.

I'm going to do a little shouting now.

If your name does not appear on the voter roll when you go to vote, PLEASE DO NOT FILL OUT A PROVISIONAL BALLOT. Leave the polling place and call this number: 1-866-OUR VOTE (687-8683).

This is also why you should vote early; so that if there are "issues" with your registration, they can be cleared up -- hopefully -- in time for you to cast a ballot that counts (with at least as much faith as we are able to place in electronic voting systems, anyway). You don't want to be experiencing this circumstance at 6:45 p.m. on Election Day.

And remember when you do vote that Bettencourt's Democratic challenger is Dr. Diane Trautman.

Update: Charles Kuffner has more on why this is a problem in the very first place. Shorter version: it's all about the Bettencourt.

Michele Bachman contributes $100K to her Democratic challenger

A little over twelve hours ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Freakshit, Minn.) appeared on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and declared that the media should investigate the anti-Americans in the US Congress, a delirium furthered as part of the delusion the McLame campaign has suffered from: the one that variously questions Barack Obama's patriotism.

As a result of Bachmann's grinning McCarthy-like hate-filled spew, we "goonbats in the liberal blogosphere" began publicizing her wingnut asshattery. Which resulted in online contributions to Bachmann's Democratic opponent, the one and only Elwyn Tinklenberg, of nearly $100,000 as of this posting. See update below.

What this says about the infrastructure of the modern progressive movement is nothing short of amazing to me.

A scant four years ago, John Kerry was paralyzed as this same line of Swift Boats attacked his honor. The media did not effectively push back against the lies, and there certainly was no coordinated response from Kerry's supporters, online or off.

To be certain, Kerry himself should have fought back harder. But Barack Obama and his campaign has had nothing to do with the Bachmann matter; this has been an instant reaction to the rantings of lunatic Republican in favor of her obscure Democratic challenger in the form of cold, hard cash from the netroots.

Matthews challenged Bachmann's ludicrous assertions straight away; Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow followed up on their subsequent MSNBC programs, and Daily Kos advanced the response by picking up the YouTubes of Bachmann's playing kissyface with Bush, then denouncing him more recently as his popularity withered. The left's leading blog also found and posted Tinklenberg's site and publicly called for donations. The rest of us spread the message on Democratic Underground and elsewhere around the blogosphere.

If you went out to dinner last night, you missed the whole thing. On Friday, October 17, the twenty-first century progressive movement hit fifth gear, and trust me, it is zooming like a Porsche.

Update (10/19): $488,000 in 24 hours, with almost 250K of that coming online.

Friday, October 17, 2008

500,000 early voters in Harris County

That's more than several states will have for the entire election cycle:

An unprecedented half-million Harris County voters are expected to cast early ballots for the presidential race and other offices during the two-week early voting period, an increase sparked in part by political parties and candidates urging supporters to vote before Election Day.

In response to the forecast of a record-high early vote that starts Monday in Texas, county officials have added extra polling stations and voting booths and new auxiliary equipment to keep waiting lines as short as possible.

Also, Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman has published figures on average hourly voter traffic at each polling station in the 2004 presidential election, so citizens can see which centers are likely to have the shortest lines this time. And she plans to conduct daily news briefings about early voting at five locations next week, from Humble to far southwest Houston.

Previously I noted that Kaufman's office projects 1.2 million total votes in the greater Houston area's county will be cast in November's election, and that's a figure that could portend as many as nine million votes in Texas (though I believe the final figure will be closer to eight).

There are several reasons for the anticipated increase in early voting.

The percentage of votes cast early has climbed with every past election, and the trend is expected to continue as voters become more comfortable with the idea of getting voting out of the way before Election Day.

In 2004, almost 40 percent of the Harris County vote was banked by the end of October. The total county vote then was 1.08 million, a 58 percent turnout of all registered voters.

With the participation rate expected to climb along with the use of the early voting options, experts say at least half of the Harris County votes — a half-million or more — will be cast before Nov. 4.

And both parties are gearing up their GOTV efforts ...

The local Republican Party will distribute at least 150,000 "door-hanger" campaign cards in some of its stronghold neighborhoods to get voters to the polls early, chairman Jared Woodfill said.

The Harris County Democratic Party on its Web site urged voters to cast early ballots, explaining: "It allows us to focus on voters who have yet to vote and getting them to the polls."

Some campaign strategists keep meticulous computerized records of voters who have voted early in past elections and will direct some of their limited telephone and mail resources at those voters, Republican consultant Allen Blakemore said.

Many candidates who have been hoarding money for a late deluge of TV, radio and Internet ads will join the onslaught of political messages next week.

The local GOP has also concentrated on sending mail-in ballots to identifiable suburban seniors who reliably vote Republican, and have been bragging that their mail-in ballots will bear significant fruit this time.

Meanwhile the good guys are going to have a bit more fun with it:

Featured speakers include Rick Noriega and Ron Kirk. There won't be a candidate or a band or one of your friends there that you will want to miss. And if for some inexplicable reason you still need to be reminded about why you need to vote Democratic in this election ...

Update: "Turning Houston Blue", from Dave Mann at the Texas Observer (disregard his negative subhead):

... Houston is essentially its own swing state within Texas. Harris County, which encompasses the city and its suburbs, is home to 3.9 million people, outnumbering the populations of 23 states, and is roughly the same population as Oregon. Now consider that Harris County—in theory, at least—is already Democratic. Surveys and polls repeatedly show that more of its eligible voters identify with Democrats. It’s just that many of those people don’t vote. Moreover, the area is growing. Subdivisions are sprouting at the city’s edge like weeds. The people moving in are mostly Democrats. Harris County is undergoing a demographic shift that will soon put Anglos in the minority.

Practically speaking, a Democrat can’t win a statewide race in Texas without carrying Harris County. If the party can increase its turnout just enough in this presidential year to turn Harris County blue, Democrats will control five of the state’s largest counties and could become competitive again in races for governor, lieutenant governor, and U.S. Senate. Democrats are feeling the urgency to capture a statewide race and at least one chamber of the Texas Legislature by 2010 to gain a say in the next round of legislative and congressional redistricting.

But Houston’s size and shifting demographics have local Democrats dreaming well beyond the Governor’s Mansion. They talk of a day when Houston could be for Texas what Philadelphia has been for Pennsylvania—a metro area that votes so overwhelmingly Democratic it provides a large enough advantage to deliver the state almost by itself. (In the 2004 election, Philadelphia handed Democrats a 400,000-vote edge in the state’s largest population center—a margin Republican areas of Pennsylvania couldn’t surmount.)

Harris County Democratic Party Chair Gerry Birnberg points out that if big margins in Houston could help a Democratic presidential candidate capture Texas, the Electoral College map would shift decisively. He says New York and California likely will vote Democratic for a generation. “If you can start a presidential cycle with California, New York and Texas already in your column, there is not an electoral map you can draw that a Republican candidate can win,” Birnberg says. “Harris County is ground zero. We don’t get there without Harris County.”