Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Locke's "black/brown coalition" turns red

Gene Locke, the African-American faux Democrat in the Houston mayoral tilt -- to be distinguished from the Anglo faux Dem Peter Brown -- has the full and unqualified support of the Republican elections administrator in Harris County, Beverly Kaufman.


This is the same Beverly Kaufman who is on record as being against the pre-clearance portion of the Voting Rights Act. Pre-clearance is in place for nine Southern states that have a history of discrimination or suppressing minority voting, including Texas. ... What am I missing? How does having Beverly Kaufman on your team not drive away Democrats, especially minorities?


Mr. Locke assumes black voters in Houston will support him for Mayor because he is black—But black support may not be enough to reach a runoff. To get the extra votes he feels he needs, Mr. Locke will engage in low-down tactics

He’ll sell out his core supporters in a heartbeat.

Mr. Locke thinks black folks in Houston are stupid. He thinks he can trumpet the support of people who don’t at all share the beliefs of his most important voters, and that people won’t catch on that he is a fraud.

Locke and Brown remind me of a couple of aluminum siding salesmen working both sides of the street; one goes into the rube's living room thirty minutes after the other promising them a set of eight steak knives instead of six.

How many people are going to fall for their act? Probably enough to get one of these scam artists into the runoff.

Rick Perry paying volunteers to hack his Web stream

Oops. A little conflation of this week's top Governor MoFo headlines. First:

The Republican governor's re-election campaign is paying volunteers to sign up other volunteers, and it promises more cash for those turning out voters in the March primary. The campaign hopes for big dividends from the Amway-style program, known as Perry Home Headquarters.

It depends on what the definition of "volunteer" is. Second:

The Austin-American Statesman reports that the Perry campaign was hosting a live video Webcast, which crashed. "This planned and coordinated attack was political sabotage, and we are working to identify those responsible for this illegal activity," said campaign spokesman Mark Miner.

Phillip Martin dissects the logical fallacy, however, which leaves the Perry camp holding nothing except a yellowed page out of the Rove playbook.

And while the comments associated with the two links above are mandatory reading, let me please paraphrase the snarkiest remark I've read all week:

(Rick Perry) doesn't know whether to shit or go blind, so he's opted for both. It smells real bad, but at least he can't see it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Weekly Wrangle

As early voting for the November elections looms on the horizon, the Texas Progressive Alliance says good-bye to September and hello to another weekly blog roundup.

BREAKING NEWS: Natural Gas Development Brings "amazing and very high" Levels of Carcinogens and Neurotoxins to Barnett Shale area! Take a deep breath before you read this study because the findings will take your breath away! TXsharon at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS broke this story and the study evaluation by MacAuthur (Genius) Award winner, Wilma Subra.

This week at Left of College Station, Teddy reports on why the anti-choice movement is not about abortion but about the oppression of women. Also, guest blogger Litia writes about asking non-tradition questions about Texas A&M traditions; Litia writes a weekly guest blog for College Station about a liberal teaching in Aggieland. Left of College Station also coves the week in headlines.

Neil at Texas Liberal writes that Socialist candidate for mayor of Houston Amanda Ulman should run a serious campaign or not run at all. There once was a solid base of socialist voters in Texas and the U.S. Who says that cannot some day happen again?

McBlogger takes aim at people who think that adjusting to climate change is just something that will unfairly hurt the poor.

Off the Kuff contemplates the possible entry of Farouk Shami into the Governor's race.

The old Easter Lemming has a useful post on voting for the constitutional amendments in his area.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the 22-year-high Texas unemployment rate. What recession? We're in one?

Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples opened his mouth and out fell a big wad of stupid. Stupid so ignorant that it topped anything Rick Perry or John Cornyn or even Glenn Beck could manage this week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has it -- if you can stand it.

WhosPlayin followed up on an open records request for internal emails related to Lewisville ISD's decision to ban President Obama's speech to children. The emails, including a racially charged email from a board member to the superintendant, do not paint a pretty picture..

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on money, energy, and the economy in the Texas governor's race in Perry's Cap and Trade Photo Op.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Rick Perry does his best George Bush cowboy imitation with Ranger Recon.

Over at TexasKaos, boadicea (Warrior Queen) is seeking a pulse, any pulse over at the Tom Schieffer campaign as she opines that Tom Schieffer Needs Something Original to Offer. It seems that lifting policy ideas from Hank Gilbert is the best he can do right now. Read the rest at TexasKaos.

"We have the greatest healthcare system in the world" myth is euthanized

Pesky things, them facts ...

Canada outperforms the United States in health outcomes but is well behind global leaders like Japan in overall health of its population, a Canadian report released on Monday showed.

The annual report card by the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 10th out of 16 developed countries, with a "B" grade. The United States was the worst performer, placing 16th and earning a "D" grade.

"Canada has been at the center of much of the debate on U.S. health care reform. Since Canada ranks ahead of the United States on all but one indicator of health status ... it is clear that we are getting better results," Gabriela Prada, director of health policy at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

Better than what, though?

"But when we look beyond the narrow Canada-U.S. comparison to the rest of the world, Canadians rank in the middle of the pack in terms of their health status," Prada said.

Uh oh. "Middle of the pack"? For both of us? Perhaps we should aim farther north than Canada.

The Conference Board, which has been issuing the report card since 1996, ranked the 16 countries according to 11 criteria, including life expectancy, mortality due to cancer, circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases, metal disorders, as well as infant mortality and self-reported health status.

Japan was once again the top-ranking country. Switzerland, Italy, and Norway also earned "A" grades.

"B" grades were given to Sweden, France, Finland, Germany, Australia and Canada, while Netherlands, Austria and Ireland earned a "C" grade, the report showed.

Along with the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom got "D" grades.

You don't think it could be because they're socialists, do you?

With 45,000 Americans dying every year because they do not have health insurance and cannot afford medical care, how much longer will we sit by while the US Senate bickers, stalls, and delays in order to preserve the profit models of the health insurance companies?

She throws like a wise Latina

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to be named a Supreme Court justice, performed in a much different capacity at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Sotomayor was a smiling Yankees fan who got to toss out the first pitch before the Yankees played the Boston Red Sox.

After Jorge Posada escorted Sotomayor to a spot about 15 feet in front of the mound, Sotomayor, who was wearing a Yankees jersey, paused and took a deep breath. She then flipped the ball to catcher Jose Molina, who was crouching in front of the plate.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Swiss detain Roman Polanski, will extradite to US

A 30-plus year-old puritanical grudge is relit:

Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police as he flew in for the Zurich Film Festival and faces possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities said Sunday.

Polanski was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old director around the world since 2005.

“There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming,” ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. “That’s why he was taken into custody.” Balmer said the U.S. would now have to make a formal extradition request.

If you have not seen the HBO documentary on this subject, do so. It is remarkable in what it reveals -- about the case, about the people involved, including the now fortyish woman who was at the center of the late '70's maelstrom, even about the life and cinematic career of the enigmatic director.

But most remarkable of all were the comments of the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, a devout Mormon named Roger Gunson:

"I'm not surprised (Polanski) left under those circumstances."

What were "the circumstances"?

Judge (Laurence J.) Rittenband, who'd presided over the Elvis and Priscilla divorce and a paternity suit against Cary Grant, badly wanted to try the case. He loved publicity and the media storm was already at gale force. ... Polanski pleaded guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse"; probation was the recommendation. But the judge began to maneuver behind the scenes: he wanted to look tough for the press, though not necessarily send Polanski to prison. He asked a reporter for advice on what sentence he should give; he gave regular interviews to a Hollywood gossip columnist. The day before the sentencing—despite an agreement with Dalton and Gunson—Rittenband was overheard bragging at his country club that he was going to lock up Polanski for the rest of his life.

A maniacal, ethically corrupt judge, defiantly violating a defendant's constitutional rights to a fair hearing. Yep, a Republican.

Glenn Beck would be so proud.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Satire-too-close-to-reality Friday

I threw in a little irony-you-wish-wasn't-real and a couple of non-sequiturs for good measure.

SNL's Weekend Update took on President Obama's decision to exclude Fox News from his Sunday media tour last night. Despite granting interviews to ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Univision he left Fox off his roster ... (the cast) took on specific aspects of Beck's character: his propensity to misspell things, to use that muppet-like voice, and, of course, invoke Hitler.

-- BREAKING: Democrats Hoping To Take Control Of Congress From Republican Minority In 2010

-- Thank goodness that Senate Finance Committee Democrats Max Baucus and Tom Carper and Bob Menendez are looking out for the prescription drug companies and not those evil seniors trying to buy meds.

-- Finally, be aware that earlier this week Republicans at last discovered the secret that pornography makes people gay. And of course it then follows that gay marriage is socialist. Extending this out to its illogical conclusion, Larry Flynt is quite obviously a Stalinist.

"Either the scientists are wrong, or Texas is wrong."

" ...and we all know that Texans just aren’t wrong.”

No, not Rick Perry. Not John Cornyn. Not even Michelle Bachmann or Glenn Beck.

Nope. It was Todd Staples (speaking right after the governor blew his own stupid, however):

The governor’s harsh remarks opened a daylong joint meeting of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to discuss the potential impact of the climate bill. Texas, the second-most populous state, leads the nation in carbon emissions, with 676 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion in 2007. The state also leads the nation in oil and natural gas production, petroleum refining and petrochemical manufacturing. All are heavy emitters of carbon dioxide.

Perry’s denunciation of the Waxman-Markey bill seemed timed to coincide with a conference at the United Nations today in which President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China pledged action on reducing carbon emissions. Perry’s talk underscored the uphill battle the legislation faces in the Senate.

Under Waxman-Markey, industries will ultimately be required to pay a fee for carbon emissions, under a regime similar to that currently in place for other airborne pollutants. Opponents of the bill contend that such a policy is tantamount to a new energy tax.

“This misguided piece of legislation would essentially be the single largest tax in the history of our nation,” Perry said. “These energy taxes will cause every product that uses energy to become more expensive.”

“If the United States Senate were to take leave of its senses and pass this bill, it would precipitate an economic disaster in the state of Texas.”

But leave it to the state's commissioner to agriculture to top that.

Just when you think you've had your last breath taken away by the arrogant ignorance of a Texas Republican, another one comes along and says, in his best Darwin-Award-winning challenge, "Hey! Watch this!"

Everything is bigger here and that goes for fools too. Look for more of this nonsense as Waxman-Markey takes center stage in right-wing nuttery Fauxtrage.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Save our poor picked-on health insurance companies!

After all, no health insurance company should be forced to sacrifice one penny of their billions in profits just because sick Americans need health care.

Besides Ferrell, you may recognize Jon Hamm of "Mad Men," Olivia Wilde of "House," Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant of "Reno 911," Masi Oka of "Heroes," Jordana Spiro of "My Boys," Linda Cardellini of "ER," and Donald Faison of "Scrubs."

Kay Bailey sucker-punched Gov. MoFo with the video edit

I didn't think she had it in her, frankly. KHOU first ...

A spokesperson for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison confirmed that her campaign videotaped a speech by Gov. Rick Perry in Houston Thursday, and released a section of video in which the Governor questioned whether Texas is in a recession. ...

Laughter can be heard in the room, and then the tape stops.

... and then Burka:

After Perry asks, “Are we in one?” — referring to a recession — and the laughter, Perry says:

But seriously, the fact is that because we have positioned ourselves so well economically, we’re going to be the first state that starts showing that major recovery, and the rest of the states will follow [behind us? beside us?] whenever that is going to be.

The tape was unquestionably edited after “Are we in one?” to eliminate the words, “but seriously….”

Yep. That was a solid kick to the groan. And Burka is correct that we'll all remember the governor's gaffe and not the senator's trick.

Jason Embry notes that it's game on, again from the elitist perspective, in both camps:

A race between two well-funded — I mean, really well-funded — politicians for an office this big would be heated no matter the personal relationship of the candidates. And yet it can’t help matters that, if you listen closely, it’s clear that Perry and Hutchison each feel that the other has no business running. You could say that each has expressed a certain entitlement to the Republican nomination.

Expect some solid counter-punching shortly from the girly-man, especially in the wake of polling that shows Kay Bailey back in the lead.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Weekly Wrangle

The fall is upon us, and so the Texas Progressive Alliance closes out another summer with some more hot blogging.

Halliburton was fracking for Cabot and...Oh Oops! We Spilled Some! TWICE! Deadly Hydraulic Fracture Fluid! Ironically, industry just released part of their $80 million propaganda campaign asking people to submit "Eureka" moments. From TXsharon at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

Congressman "Deer in the headlights" Pete Olson (R-TX) gets called out at his town hall meeting and the police are called in! Johncoby at Bay Area Houston posts the deets.

The Texas Cloverleaf wonders when police departments will enter the 21st century. A San Antonio lesbian couple sues in federal court over blatant harassment in their own home.

This week at McBlogger, Mayor McSleaze took the time out of his life to educate you people on some things going on around the country.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Rick Perry won't admit execution might have been a mistake. To be a Republican is never to say you're sorry.

At Texas Vox, nuclear energy and economic experts explain just how much is at stake with the South Texas Nuclear Project expansion: the entire San Antonio economy.

Off the Kuff takes note of some hot judge-on-prosecutor action going on at the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Neil at Texas Liberal ran a one-minute video this week, filmed in front of hurricane remembrances in Galveston, Texas, in which he made a plea for folks to be aware of the past.

Kay Bailey has two purse boys, and Rick Perry is unaware there is a recession. Sometimes the cluelessness and utter hypocrisy of Texas Republicans still amazes the cynical PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

WhosPlayin had video of parents handing all kinds of hell to Lewisville ISD board and administration over banning the Obama pep talk. Perhaps the bigger story though is that like many other school districts in the state, the financial situation looks bleak for the coming year.

Over at Texas Kaos, Bulldog reminds us that health care -- like national defense -- is NOT about profit, but about the security of the American people. She tells her story and does it well in Health Care Rambling.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Henry Gibson, Patrick Swayze, and Mary Travers

Gibson, who more recently played a recurring role as cantankerous Judge Clark Brown on "Boston Legal," was part of the original ensemble cast of “Laugh In,” which ran ... from 1968 to 1973. ...

In the show's famous cocktail party scenes, when the music would stop and each cast member would deliver a funny line, Gibson was a religious figure holding a teacup and saucer. "My congregation supports all denominations," he said on one show, "but our favorites are twenties and fifties."

But Gibson was best known as the poet, holding a large flower and beginning his brief recitations with his signature catchphrase, "A poem, by Henry Gibson." ...

Gibson also played an Illinois Nazi in "The Blues Brothers," a menacing neighbor in "The 'Burbs" and a priest in "The Wedding Crashers." He also was the voice of Wilbur the Pig in the animated "Charlotte's Web."

A three-time Golden Globe nominee, Swayze became a star with his performance as the misunderstood bad boy Johnny Castle in "Dirty Dancing." ... It became an international phenomenon in the summer of 1987, spawning albums, an Oscar-winning hit song in "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," stage productions and a sequel, 2004's "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," in which he made a cameo.

Swayze performed and co-wrote a song on the soundtrack, the ballad "She's Like the Wind," inspired by his wife, Lisa Niemi. The film also gave him the chance to utter the now-classic line, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Swayze followed that up with the 1989 action flick "Road House," in which he played a bouncer at a rowdy bar. But it was his performance in 1990's "Ghost" that showed his vulnerable, sensitive side. He starred as a murdered man trying to communicate with his fiancee ( Demi Moore) – with great frustration and longing – through a psychic played by Whoopi Goldberg.

Swayze said at the time that he fought for the role of Sam Wheat (director Jerry Zucker wanted Kevin Kline) but once he went in for an audition and read six scenes, he got it.

Why did he want the part so badly? "It made me cry four or five times," he said of Bruce Joel Rubin's Oscar-winning script in an AP interview.

"Ghost" provided yet another indelible musical moment: Swayze and Moore sensually molding pottery together to the strains of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." It also earned a best-picture nomination and a supporting-actress Oscar for Goldberg, who said she wouldn't have won if it weren't for Swayze.

"When I won my Academy Award, the only person I really thanked was Patrick," Goldberg said in March 2008 on the ABC daytime talk show "The View."

Swayze himself earned three Golden Globe nominations, for "Dirty Dancing," "Ghost" and 1995's "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar," which further allowed him to toy with his masculine image. The role called for him to play a drag queen on a cross-country road trip alongside Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo.

His heartthrob status almost kept him from being considered for the role of Vida Boheme.

"I couldn't get seen on it because everyone viewed me as terminally heterosexually masculine-macho," he told The Associated Press then. But he transformed himself so completely that when his screen test was sent to Steven Spielberg, whose Amblin pictures produced "To Wong Foo," Spielberg didn't recognize him.

There was also this number, with the late Chris Farley, from SNL:

Though their music sounded serene, Peter, Paul and Mary represented the frustration and upheaval of the 1960s, as a generation of liberal activists used their music not only to protest political policies, but also to spark social change. And even as the issues changed, and the fiery protests abated, the group remained immersed in musical activism. ...

The trio mingled their music with liberal politics, both onstage and off. Their version of "If I Had a Hammer" became an anthem for racial equality. Other hits included "Lemon Tree," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and "Puff (The Magic Dragon)."

They were early champions of Dylan and performed his "Blowin' in the Wind" at the March on Washington in August 1963.

And they were vehement in their opposition to the Vietnam War, managing to stay true to their liberal beliefs while creating music that resonated in the American mainstream.

The trio's self-titled debut album — named the 19th best album of the '60s by Rolling Stone — was released in 1962 and became an instant hit thanks to "If I Had a Hammer" and another single, "Lemon Tree." Along with folk tunes, Peter, Paul and Mary were among the first to cover songs by up-and-coming writers like Laura Nyro and Gordon Lightfoot and they released one of the first covers from Dylan's Basement Tapes (their version of "Too Much of Nothing" appeared in 1967). Their own songs, like "The Great Mandala (The Wheel of Life)" or Stookey and Yarrow's adaptation of the folk song "The Cruel War," were also infused with social commentary, and they wrote and recorded a campaign theme song for Eugene McCarthy in 1968. For their efforts, they were rewarded with a letter of praise from John Kennedy and a stench bomb set off at a show in Oklahoma.

Peter, Paul and Mary disbanded in 1970, after which the trio recorded solo albums. Travers' first, Mary (1971), had a modest pop hit in a cover of John Denver's "Follow Me," and her 1972 album Morning Glory featured "Conscientious Objector (I Shall Die)," based on the writing of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The trio reunited in the late '70s and picked up where they left off, recording, touring and singing at political rallies for the homeless and against apartheid.

Sunday Funnies "I'm not a racist, but ..." edition

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rick Perry's "What recession?" and Kay Bailey's purse boys

I was all set to post about Governor 39%'s Claytie Williams moment ...

"Why is Texas kind of recession-proof, if you will? As a matter of fact ... someone had put a report out that the first state that's coming out of the recession is going to be the state of Texas ... I said, 'We're in one?'"

For hell's sake, I was prepared to agree with Paul Burka that the gaffe was a turning point -- downward and eventually out. Adios, MoFo!

(It's worth mentioning that Burka, still struggling with the New Media, already is trying to cover his ass just in case the video turns out to be a John-Cornyn-box-turtle-style 'dirty trick'.)

But then I found Wayne Slater's post about Matt Latimer's Speechless excerpt on the queen running to replace the king:

As the elevator proceeded downward, the senator turned to her J. Crew aides. They were 'the purse boys.' That was the nickname staffers gave them because their job seemed to consist of carrying Sen. Hutchison's purse around Capitol Hill. They also were known to drive her from her house to work - a distance of approximately two blocks. They were basically taxpayer-subsidized butlers.

This was an unusual day, since normally only one purse boy was with Sen. Hutchison at a time. (The other must have been a trainee). As one of the boys quietly held her large purse, she started to fish through it. Then she issued a list of instructions.

"Now I want you to take my purse back to the office," she said.
"Yes, senator," the purse boy responded.
"Take the nail polish out and put it in the refrigerator."
"Yes, senator."
"Take the rest of the makeup out and put that in the refrigerator too."
"Yes, senator."
"Then put the purse by my desk." She said this as though it were her routine speech.

The purse boy nodded dutifully, and the trainee looked like he wanted a pen to jot all this down. Elizabeth and I gazed at each other uncomfortably. I felt a little like entering your parents' bedroom and finding your mother putting on deodorant. It was something you knew happened, but you didn't really want to think about. Then the elevator doors opened. We moved to the side to let KBH pass. She did so regally, without a word to either of us, the purse boys following close behind. In those few minutes, my enthusiasm for KBH sunk to a previously unfathomable low.

'Speechless' (as an adjective) nails it.

Why exactly is this harridan so 'popular'? It can't because of all of the legislation she has written and co-sponsored; it isn't because she's a conservative heroine.

It may be that she's so 'popular' because the traditional media keeps repeating it over and over again.

These two miserable jerks are nothing except a microcosm of those Texans who have repeatedly voted for them: insensitive, clueless, and hypocritical.

Update: “The answer is ‘Yes,’ Governor. Texas and the nation are in the midst of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, and just this week your administration announced that the number of jobless Texans is at a 22-year high. Those men and women deserve better than a governor who smirks ‘Recession? What recession.’”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Senate special election update

RG Ratcliffe at the Houston Chronic (bold emphasis throughout is mine):

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, according to several reliable sources, has been telling Republicans in the past week that her current plan is to send Gov. Rick Perry a letter next month announcing her intention to resign from office effective on either Dec. 31 or Jan. 1.

By doing that, Hutchison remains in the Senate through this fall's health care debate while also giving Republicans who want to run for other offices when the dominos fall a chance to shuffle their campaigns. The two most obvious instances are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who likely wants to run for Hutchison's Senate seat, and Attorney General Greg Abbott who wants to run for lieutenant governor.

The filing deadline is Jan. 4, 2010.

The move also would put the ball in Perry's court for naming an interim senator and then calling a special election to fill Hutchison's term through 2012.

Now Kay Bailey said six weeks ago: "The actual leaving of the Senate will be sometime -- October, November -- that, in that time frame", so this obviously appears to be a change of plans. Kay Bailey waffling on previous statements is nothing new; it does however affect the timing of the special election significantly ...

If she resigned at the end of the year, she would force Perry to make the interim appointment before Jan. 4 if he wanted to give the position to someone such as Dewhurst who has to make a choice about running for re-election. It also might push him to allow the Senate special election to occur on the uniform election date in May so that race won't interfere with the governor's race.

Perry can declare an emergency and hold the election sooner, but state law forbids him from setting the special election on the same day as the primary.

There is a high likelihood either way that the Senate race and governor's race would overlap. The potential exists for a gubernatorial primary in March, with a runoff in April, followed by the Senate special in May with a runoff in June. Four major elections in four months.

I (and Harvey Kronberg) had previously written that the special would likely be during the holidays -- between Thanksgiving and Christmas of this year -- on the previous declaration by Kay Bailey that she would cut and run in "October, November".

What changes here is the likelihood of any Democrat running for Senate -- be they named Bill White or John Sharp -- shifting into the race for governor at the last minute. With a four-month timeline between resignation, appointment, and special election, either man is much less inclined to cede the Senate nom to the other.

The other potential clusterfuck is if Perry does NOT name Dewhurst to the vacated seat, leaving him cock-blocking Abbott, who similarly impedes Ted Cruz and Dan Gattis Branch (both of whom have already raised a million bucks each for that race), and so on. A five-month campaign puts a little pressure on the various GOP fund-raisers, with whatever eventual gaggle of Republicans -- Michael Williams, Roger Williams, Florence Shapiro, Elizabeth Ames-Jones, blahblahblah -- vying for caysh with Perry and Hutchison (who have no limits on the amount they can raise for a gubernatorial contest). I'm pretty sure Perry wanted to avoid that, not to mention sharing headlines and dates of campaign events around the state and so on.

And some of those incumbents are going to decide not to make the run, keeping their safe seats in the Texas Senate or the Railroad Commission rather than gamble on the US Senate.

But really: who knows if Kay Bailey means what she is rumored to be saying THIS time?

Anybody need more popcorn?

Friday Funnies "Dancing with the Czars" edition

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mighty oaks and ACORN

Hey Robbie, you five-day-old douchesack, take your tongue outta Glenn Beck's anus and look around; maybe you'll see something besides right-wing shit.

ACORN has received a grand total of $53 million in federal funds over the last 15 years -- an average of $3.5 million per year. Meanwhile, not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars of public funds have been, in the last year alone, transferred to or otherwise used for the benefit of Wall Street. Billions of dollars in American taxpayer money vanished into thin air, eaten by private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, led by Halliburton subsidiary KBR. All of those corporate interests employ armies of lobbyists and bottomless donor activities that ensure they dominate our legislative and regulatory processes, and to be extra certain, the revolving door between industry and government is more prolific than ever, with key corporate officials constantly ending up occupying the government positions with the most influence over those industries. ...

So with this massive pillaging of America's economic security and the control of American government by its richest and most powerful factions growing by the day, to whom is America's intense economic anxiety being directed? To a non-profit group that devotes itself to providing minute benefits to people who live under America's poverty line, and which is so powerless in Washington that virtually the entire U.S. Senate just voted to cut off its funding at the first sign of real controversy -- could anyone imagine that happening to a key player in the banking or defense industry?

Local frothing idiots aside, the manipulation of the masses of fools on the right would continue to be laughable if it weren't spreading like swine flu at the day care.

If one were to watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh -- as millions do -- one would believe that the burden of the ordinary American taxpayer, and the unfair plight of America's rich, is that their money is being stolen by the poorest and most powerless sectors of the society. An organization whose constituencies are often-unregistered inner-city minorities, the homeless and the dispossesed is depicted as though it's Goldman Sachs, Blackwater, and Haillburton combined, as though Washington officials are in thrall to those living in poverty rather than those who fund their campaigns. It's not the nice men in the suits doing the stealing but the very people, often minorities or illegal immigrants, with no political or financial power who nonetheless somehow dominate the government and get everything for themselves. The poorer and weaker one is, the more one is demonized in right-wing mythology as all-powerful receipients of ill-gotten gains; conversely, the stronger and more powerful one is, the more one is depicted as an oppressed and put-upon victim ...

It's such an obvious falsehood -- so counter-intuitive and irrational -- yet it resonates due to powerful cultural manipulations. Most of all, what's so pernicious about all of this is that the same interests who are stealing, pillaging and wallowing in corruption are scapegoating the poorest and most vulnerable in order to ensure that the victims of their behavior are furious with everyone except for them.

UPDATE: John Cole highlights what might be the most telling aspect of all of this: demands for a "Special Prosecutor" into Obama's so-called "relationship with ACORN" from the very same circles that vehemently objected to investigations into torture, illegal government spying, politicized prosecutions, military contractor theft, Lewis Libby's obstruction of justice, and virtually every other instance of Bush-era criminality. Those, of course, are the very same people who, before that, demanded endless inquiries into Whitewater and Vince Foster's "murder." There's nothing more valuable than petty, dramatic "scandals" to distract attention from what is actually taking place.

This is, obviously, the Fauxtrage we were waiting for this week. The Chron's Nick Anderson has the summation:

Locke, Brown, Costello and Holm: Vote No

The Houston mayoral and city council elections aren't this blog's typical beat, but what's being discussed elsewhere is worth repeating here. Namely ...

-- Gene Locke is a misogynist ass.

-- Stephen Costello is a duplicitous Republican masquerading as an independent.

-- Peter Brown can't get his supporters' list straight. No wonder, since he has demonstrated trouble remembering which candidates he is supporting.

-- And lastly, the one person among these four not afraid to call herself a Republican, city comptroller candidate Pam Holm, attended a fundraiser for District A Republican candidate Brenda Stardig last evening, skipping the Houston Hispanic Heritage awards presentation (via Carl Whitmarsh).

Holm appeared on Glenn Beck's program earlier this year. That's all anyone with a functioning brain stem should need to know.

So now you know who not to vote for in November.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Fauxtrage and additional postpourri

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-- Kanye West blurted out something stupid and obnoxious, apologized repeatedly, and appeared contrite in a TV appearance. In comparison, Joe Wilson did the same, apologized once to the president but refused to do so to his colleagues, was subsequently rebuked by them, and is hailed as a "hero" by the freak right wing. (Note the "Wilson-Palin 2012" most-recommended comment in the Chron link.)

Now which of these is the racist again? Honestly, maybe both them are, but thankfully there is still such a thing as atonement. For some.

-- And the 'quien es mas conservative' purge continues.

-- One of the DC Madam's best johns, Sen. David Vitter, finds himself "outraged" over the ACORN prostitution "scandal", but not so much that he could make the vote that cut off federal funding to the organization.

-- Michele Bachmann thinks Obama is going to ration the food supply. Really.

"President Obama said we can't eat as much food as we want and think the rest of the world will be okay about that, as if that matters to freedom-loving Americans," she said on the House floor this week. "Well, we just heard last week that the federal government now under the Obama administration is calling for a re-ordering of America's food supply. What is that going to mean? Now will the White House decide how many calories we consume or what types of food we consume?"

Steve Benen replies ...

Yes, Michele, that's exactly what it means. In fact, ACORN will now be responsible for preparing all foods in all households. President Obama will appoint a "dinner czar" to make sure you don't skip your vegetables. If you do, a "death panel" will decide whether you qualify for dessert.

How much more stupid can it get? Serious question.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Weekly Wrangle

With the start of the football season, the Texas Progressive Alliance invites you to read this week's roundup of blog highlights in the voice of John Facenda.

Last week, the Lone Start State got some much needed help from the feds when the EPA slapped down Governor Perry's global warming denier pick for our state's top environmental official. This week the EPA will have another opportunity to intervene in Texas when mayor Calvin Tillman releases an environmental study of air quality in Dish, TX that will contrast dramatically with industry findings. Keep watching Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS as TXsharon brings you that news.

Bay Area Houston has some pics from the Yes we Klan! teabaggers on parade in DC.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that editorial boards across the state are taking Rick Perry to task for running Texas like he owned it.

Mean Rachel asks "Since when do conservatives care about anyone dying?" in "Dare Devils: Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Death Panel."

Off the Kuff takes a look at a local race that found a hole in our state's Elections Code.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog writes about the right wing's War on Diwali.

BossKitty at TruthHugger notices headlines this week that demonstrate America's decline in common sense or accountability. Even worse, there is no regard for consequences of thoughtless actions ... Sabotage Experts: US Coast Guard Exercise on 9/11, Congressman Baucus and Republicans.

Neil at Texas Liberal ran a video he shot in front a hurricane damaged fishing pier in Galveston in which he asked people to be flexible of mind. The video is 48 seconds long.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson on Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) making it official that he won't seek reelection, and what that means going forward in Ogden will not run for Senate in 2010.

McBlogger offers another post on wage growth. Not terribly exciting, but it is hella important to the future of democracy. So, you know, you might want to read it.

A couple of Kinky Katz could wind up at the top of the 2010 Texas Democratic ticket, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Kay Bailey Hutchison takes a head-in-the-hot-sand approach to climate change that will get Texas burned and drive tens of thousands of new jobs elsewhere. Learn more at Texas Vox.

Waiting for the fresh faux Outrage O'Day

After a spectacularly bad week by the GOP --outrageous behavior followed by a cacophony of screaming and shouting providing what amounts to the typical apology -- I just have to wonder: what can they do to top that?

The outburst was unexpected from a milquetoast Republican backbencher from South Carolina who had attracted little media attention. Now it has made him an overnight right-wing hero, inspiring “You lie!” bumper stickers and T-shirts.

Who's going to be this week's conservative nitwit rapidly exalted to hero status by Beck, et. al.? Or will it be reprises of the usual suspects; a pinch of Bachmann, a dash of Cheney, a skosh of O'Reilly?

You don't think it will have someone to do with "the racial" ... do you?

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

Closer to home, what circumstance will the frantic, foaming mob of Chronically critical keyboard warriors -- taking a short break from FreeRepublic,, and online pornography to quickly post that Obama is a lyin' African -- seize upon this week? Can they take a break from their rants about Ill Eagles, ACORN, and "czars" to focus on something else?

I'm guessing probably Kanye West is the man of the day. You know, black male rapper being rude to white female country performer. Seems tailor-made.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Kinky Katz

That would be the musician/author and the deli magnate who could lead the Texas Democratic ticket in 2010.

“I don't think he's a serious candidate,” said former state Democratic Chair Molly Beth Malcolm. “Filing deadline's not there yet. I'm hoping there's some other names.”

Political consultant Glenn Smith said (Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Marc) Katz is not the “ideal” candidate: “He's an affable guy who's got a good restaurant. But, as his mayoral bid demonstrated, he lacks a certain something on the stump.”

Katz said his 2003 bid for Austin mayor failed because “I didn't know what I was doing.”

Or perhaps the DeLay slayer works his way in.

Former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who most recently got national attention for his prosecution of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, said Friday that he is "leaning toward" running for governor in the 2010 Democratic primary. Earle, 67, said he hadn’t set a timetable but will probably make a decision "sooner rather than later."

I still prefer the straight-talking cattleman from Whitehouse, personally. And I agree with jobsanger ...

Earle is not going to cut into Kinky Friedman's base -- they'll vote for Kinky no matter who else is running. He's also not going to cut into Tom Schieffer's base -- these conservatives will not support someone as liberal as Earle as long as there's a real conservative in the race. That means he'll be splitting the liberal/progressive vote with Hank Gilbert, and that means there will be less chance of a liberal/progressive candidate winning the primary.

At least things are getting interesting. I think the most important thing to note is that Kay Bailey's stated strategy of pulling Democrats into the Republican primary in March to vote for her is a failing one. She should now be thinking seriously of not running, because her success is increasingly based on the appeal to GOP primary voters of the two candidates running to the right of Rick Perry: Larry Kilgore and Debra Medina.

If that happens -- Kay staying put in the Senate, that is -- then the scrum among Bill White and John Sharp, as well as David Dewhurst and Roger Williams and Michael Williams and all the other ladies and gentemen is completely moot. Ted Cruz and Dan Branch and the millions they have raised for a run for attorney general, based entirely on the supposition that Greg Abbott moves up to replace Dewhurst as lite guv, have to sit tight ... or transfer to some other contest.

If Kay goes on and quits the Senate though, then the game's afoot. John Sharp says the special could be held within 37 days of her resignation, though I believe it will likely happen during the holiday season.

More popcorn, anyone?

Update: Lisa Hernandez of the Carreno Group has the "wise-Latina-consultant" perspective.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years ago now

And the recollection is still a little raw. Let's continue to remember and mark the day, and not in that Glenn Beck distorted way, either.

Michael Moore goes after the pigs

Capitalism: a Love Story doesn't just go after the seamy side of the American economy, although that is captured neatly in the scenes of "condo vultures" feeding on Florida's housing bust, alongside the corporations (including Wal-Mart and Amegy Bank) which take out insurance policies on their employees and cash in big when they die young. These ghoulish derivatives go by the charming name of "dead peasants" insurance – which says it all, really.

But Moore has bigger targets in his sights: he is questioning whether the whole incentive structure, moral values and political economy of American capitalism is fit for human beings. Although this will not seem so radical in Europe, where most countries have had governments in the post-second world war era that at least called themselves socialist, or in most of the developing world, where socialist ideas have popular appeal, it's pretty much unprecedented for something that can reach a mass audience in the US.

But you don't have to be a revolutionary to appreciate this film. Indeed, it can be seen as a social democratic treatise, with Franklin Roosevelt's proposed "second bill of rights" – an "economic bill of rights" that included a job with a living wage, housing, medical care, and education – as its reform program. Roosevelt is shown proposing this now forgotten program back in 1944.

As in his previous films, Moore combines the grief and tragedy of the victims – people losing their homes and jobs – with hilarious comedy, cartoonish film clips from the 1950's, and sober testimony as needed. And there are victories, too – as when workers occupy their factory in Chicago to win the pay that they are owed.

As an economist who operates in the think-tank world, I have to appreciate this work. He gets the economic story right. How is it that Michael Moore's father could buy a house and raise a family on the income of one auto worker, and still have a pension for his retirement? And yet this is not possible in the vastly more productive economy of today? The answer is not complicated: ...


In defense of Joe Wilson: he called the president a liar, was correct, and paid a price

Oh, you were thinking of that other Joe Wilson? Fail.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Honestly, Joe Wilson was the best thing that happened last night.

Well, that and Eric Cant'or Twittering on his Blackberry, and Louie Gohmert holding up his signs, and the booing, hissing, laughter and general town-halling going on by the GOP during last night's joint session address. His Democratic opponent has raised nearly OVER $100,000 -- $40,000 in the first hour after Wilson screamed "lie" at the President.

Lord Charles Boustany
-- thrice sued for medical malpractice, a "death-panel" advocate and former Birther -- managed a less-than-tepid response. The best that can be said for him is that he wasn't foaming at the mouth as he delivered his remarks (unlike many of his colleagues).

This behavior does nothing but vindicate Van Jones's original opinion of the Republicans.

Immediate polling reaction is pretty favorable for health care reform. Oh well, August was good for the GOP ... while it lasted.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pastrami King for Lt. Governor

*heavy sigh* This is what happens when you have a weak state party chairman ...

As proprietor of the venerable Katz's Deli and Bar on Austin's West Sixth Street, Marc Katz has prospered by dishing up Reuben sandwiches, hot pastrami, Kahuna Burgers and Yankee pot roast to a Texas clientele pehaps more accustomed to barbecue and Tex-Mex.

Now the 62-year-old self-anointed Pastrami King is cooking up plans for a big career change by seeking the number two post in state government. Katz said he is running as a Democrat for lieutenant governor, a post now held by Republican David Dewhurst. Dewhurst has been widely mentioned a possible appointee to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Gov. Rick Perry's leading Republican challenger in the 2010 governor's race. Hutchison has said that she will resign the Senate later this fall.

Katz has previously run for Austin mayor, a contest in which he garnered about a hundred votes. You'd think there were more stoners eating his sandwiches at 3 a.m. on any given Sunday in Austin than that, but there you go.

Rachel brings it meaner

Monday, September 07, 2009

The irony is making me ill

The Labor Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone has a happy Labor Day, and notes that it won't be any work at all to read this week's roundup of blog highlights.

ExxonMobil! Free Mrs. Burns!

Like TXsharon, Elizabeth Burns is a reluctant activist forced into action by the horrendous environmental abuses she witnesses on her own ranch. Her videos have exposed reckless drilling practices by Exxon Mobil that endanger human health and safety, harm wildlife and spoil air, soil and water. XOM has gagged Mrs. Burns claiming that she is revealing "trade secrets."

Neil at Texas Liberal made note of elections in Japan. These elections have moved Japan to the left and possibly changed Japanese politics for years to come.

Off the Kuff discusses the latest entrants into the Texas Governor's race.

Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger takes a look at the BARACKNOPHOBIA gripping a small minority of the people in some parts of Texas.

The Texas Cloverleaf announces its intention to not run for Governor.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why SMU is still supporting a Bush policy institute. Isn't that like the Larry, Moe and Curly institute of higher learning?

Felix Alvarado's problems managing his checking account are a precursor of bigger troubles ahead for Texas Democrats in 2010, reports PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Dembones at Eye On Williamson posts about the latest craziness from the crackpots in our country: More fake outrage from right wing astroturf.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw helps out understanding the latest right wing meltdown in The Right Wing Goes Ballistic Again . If their unhinged outrage leaves you scratching your head, check it out!

WhosPlayin readers divided their time between rallying for health insurance reform and standing up to the Lewisville ISD's silly decision to BLOCK the President's speech from its classrooms.

Today would be a good day

... to thank your neighborhood socialist for their positive contributions to workers' rights in America.

Music by Utah Phillips.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Felix Alvarado's trouble understanding banking

Dave Montgomery at the Startle-Gram's excellent PoliTex blog (emphasis is mine):

Democratic gubernatorial contender Felix Alvarado of Fort Worth issued a press release today to address questions about a bounced $3,750 filing fee check that forced him to withdraw as a candidate when he attempted an earlier run for governor in 2006.

"I paid the filing fee with a personal check, even though I knew that my checking account did not have that amount," said Alvarado, who lives in Fort Worth and teaches at a Dallas high school. "I honestly and sincerely thought that I could deposit the money the following morning. When I discovered that I could not, I thought of my options, borrow the money or withdraw from the race."

Alvarado said he notified the Democratic Party that he was withdrawing because the check would not clear. He said he later began getting calls from the media "about the 'bounced check' that had caused my name to be removed from the ballot.

"I accepted full responsibility for my action then as I do now," he said. Alvarado noted that he has filed again to run for governor and is prepared to "guarantee" that his name will stay on the ballot.

There's so much that is so wrong with this public statement, but let's just focus on the matter of the complexities associated with maintaining a proper balance in one's checking account: "borrow the money"? Why would you need to "borrow the money" if it was your stated intention to "deposit the money the following morning"?

There's more going on with this explanation than mere garden-variety ignorance, I'm afraid.

And this fellow will probably make the runoff for governor solely because of his surname. On the other hand, this man certainly won't.

The Democratic National Committee is meeting in Austin next weekend, presumably to make some kind of show about Texas "being in play" in 2010. Not at that rate it's going, it's not. And if Steve Bates is any indication, then the national Dems are going to have more to worry about than Texas not "being in play".

But back to our troubles in Deep-In-The-Hearta, which are actually more severe than Mr. Alvarado's issues with his checking account. Now here comes my rant: everyone keeps me telling me that Boyd Richie is doing a bang-up job. He has posted his praise-laden and extensive bio, though not so much for other officers of the party -- a year now after they were elected. Furthermore, every time I ask for examples, I am directed at something pretty nebulous, like "grassroots organizing" or "database management".

Without a full slate of statewide candidates, Texas can be written off not just for another election cycle but for another decade, as 2011 redistricting occurs under the purview of the Legislative Redistriciting Board -- comprised of the speaker of the Texas House, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the commissioner of the general land office, and the comptroller of public accounts. There are currently two declared Democrats for those offices: Barbara Radnofsky for Texas attorney general and Bill Burton for GLO commissioner. The only thing currently working in Democrats' favor is that the plan will have to be pre-cleared by a Democratic Department of Justice -- for the first time since 1965. (Dave McNeely has a good explanation here of how all the moving pieces come together.)

Then again, maybe it's Boyd's strategy to keep litigating until 2020. That ought to make Chad Dunn feel comfortable.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Laboring some Postpourri

-- The Billionaires for Wealthcare turned out at a town hall in California.

-- Have you seen the People of Wal-Mart? These are your neighbors; the ones who watch Glenn Beck, want Texas to secede, are holding their kids out of school next week.

-- This is what democratic freedom of speech looks like. Even for the teabaggers, birthers, deathers, and Tenthers. Especially for them.

Oh, and please stop scaring Joe Klein...

Could I just say that the intensity of this getting pretty scary... and dangerous? We are heading toward a cliff and the usual brakes of civil discourse are not working. Indeed, the Republicans have the pedal to the metal -- rushing us toward a tragedy far greater than the California health care forum finger-biting (incident). I'm usually not one to panic or be overly worried about the state of our country -- even when we do awful things like invade Iraq and torture people, we usually right our course before long -- but I have a sinking feeling about where we're headed now. I hope I'm wrong.

-- The race Pete Laney actually needs to be in is for lieutenant governor.

-- Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket is not a bug-fuck-crazy conservative:

Troops challenging the legitimacy of President Barack Obama as commander-in-chief -- including at least one who is fighting deployment -- should take heed: Gunnery Sgt. Hartman wants to know your "major malfunction."

R. Lee Ermey, the Marine-turned-actor whose role as drill instructor Gunny Hartman in the late Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" has all but placed the Vietnam veteran in the pantheon of Marine heroes alongside "Chesty" Puller, Smedley Butler and Dan Daly, isn't buying anyone's political objector status.

"I haven't heard about those guys," Ermey told during an Aug. 21 interview. "If I do run across them though, trust me, I'll square them away."

-- Bill Moyers is absolutely correct.

"The Democratic Party has become like the Republican Party; deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who's a clever politician, understands that the money for Obama's re-election will come primarily from the health industry, the drug industry and Wall Street. He is a corporate Democrat who is determined that there won't be something in this legislation -- if we get it -- that will turn off those powerful interests..."

"You really have, essentially-- except for the progressives on the left of the Democratic Party-- two corporate parties who, in their own way and in their own time, serving the interests of basically a narrow set of economic interests."

And nowhere is this more true than in Texas.

On the holiday weekend observed originally to honor working men and women, it would be nice to for everybody to acknowledge that most of the brainwashing being accomplished on the poor rubes who continually vote against their own economic self-interest is being practiced by the various denizens of FOX News.

To be fair to FOX, as well as all of the Republicans who have distinguished themselves with their words and actions this week, they do have a principled objection to healthcare reform based largely on the fact that a black man was elected president ten months ago.

If you happen not to be a bug-fuck-crazy conservative, then please stop watching those douchebags. Do it for your country.