Sunday, January 31, 2010

White and Shami only

This is wrong, and not good for democracy:

Texas’ two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates will square off in the televised debate next month but the five other candidates on the ballot won't be joining them.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White and hair-care magnate Farouk Shami will face off in their first debate on Feb. 8 in Fort Worth.

The debate will be hosted by public TV station KERA/Channel 13. As with KERA's Republican gubernatorial debate earlier this month, the Star-Telegram is a co-sponsor.

Along with White and Shami, five other candidates are running for the DemocraticBill White nomination: educator Felix Alvarado, doctor Alma Aguado, private investigator Bill Dear, professor Clement Glenn and home builder Star Locke.

You may recall that Belo pulled this same crap on Debra Medina with the GOP gubernatorial debates. Only a outpouring of protest made the debate sponsors relent and include her.

I simply don't like the idea of a  collection of corporations and trade groups (comprised of a handful of "very important people") deciding who gets to participate in democracy based on shit criteria like this:

3. Polls are a measure of voter interest. If a candidate receives a minimum of a 6% rating in an established, nonpartisan poll or an average of established, nonpartisan polls, the candidate will be presumed to be newsworthy. Voter interest may also be measured by the amount of votes cast for a candidate, and so a candidate would have to receive a minimum of 6% of votes in a previous election for the same office or a comparable office.

And if you agree with me, then contact KERA and their co-sponsor the Startlegram, and perhaps the other sponsors including KTVT and Univision and the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Texas State Radio Networks and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and tell them so.

jobsanger observes that KERA ia a public broadcasting station:
I would have expected this kind of slanted-opinion behavior from a privately-owned television station or network (like Fox News), but it is very disappointing when it comes from a station supposedly owned by the people. After all, KERA is supported by federal funds (that is, taxes paid by all of us) and donations from ordinary citizens. It seems traitorous for them to only allow the rich candidates to debate on their station (the candidates who already have the money to buy all the publicity they need).
Public television advertises itself as the station and network that brings the people programming they can't get on other privately-owned networks and stations -- quality programming that may appeal to only a minority of television viewers. Why then, do they change that mission when it comes to politics? Why do they allow in their debate only the rich candidates declared to be frontrunners by the privately-owned media?

It may be true that the other five candidates don't have nearly the funds of the two rich candidates, but does that mean they would have nothing to offer the people of Texas? In fact, their lack of funds makes it even more important for the people's public television to give them the opportunity to show they are (or aren't) a quality candidate, possibly with more to offer the voters than the rich "anointed" or self-funded candidates.

Felix Alvarado, one of the untouchables, points out ...

Apparently, money is the only driving force in the democratic arena…

For the past few months, we have read over and over again the need for recruiting well-qualified democratic candidates to run for statewide office.  Few can deny that the objective was to recruit a Latino to run against Perry, but anyone would do, anyone that is …that the democratic establishment felt was well – qualified.

And Dr. Alma Aguado noted in the comments there that minorities and the poor lack the resources and the literacy -- technological as well as information sifting (ie, "the ability to interpret the reliability and accuracy of information") -- in order to fully participate online. Which is where the action, as we all know, is.

This circumstance is particularly odious for an organization like the FOIFT to go along with. And since there are two Hispanic candidates in the race being frozen out of the debate, it would be interesting to know how the folks at Univision feel about their participation.

Obviously this is about the ease of moderating a two-person debate than a seven-person one, and the 'dangerous precedent' set by having anyone who pays the filing fee getting to be on teevee with the VIPs. What, pray tell, would happen if twenty people filed for governor four years from now? However would they be able to control that?

Limiting participation limits choices and restricts the democratic process. It allows for greater control by already-too-powerful sources. We can stop this but it requires taking action to do so.

The Medina supporters got it done. Can we?

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who won? Depends.

Which probably means Governor 39% won by not losing ... even if he really didn't do anything to win.

First: Why doesn't anybody who covers these ever write about what a supreme ass Rick Perry is?  His conduct is mostly obnoxious and occasionally reprehensible. He's rude, condescending, snide, boorish and basically a jerk and that's only when he's not acting like Dick Cheney. As a matter of fact he's almost a blend of the preceding governor and the former vice-president/domestic-terrorist understudy; a snarl with a smirk.

Good ol' Burka thinks he won going away...

So, who won? I think Perry was the clear winner. He got all of his messages out, anti-Washington on highway funding and securing the border, proud of having a vision on transportation. He took a big hit on the Enterprise Fund, but he didn’t yield, insisted it would work out. He didn’t ever say Everybody wants to move to Texas or engage in a lot of braggadocio. It was pretty clear that he wasn’t excited about being there, but every time they took a shot at him he would just grin a little more. I’m sure that he was gritting his teeth behind that grin. When he was asked for information, he knew his stuff cold. He came across as a serious politician. Hutchison had no energy. She was very weak on the issue of how to fund TxDOT. It’s like that beer commercial where the guy can’t say he loves the girl. Can’t get the word out. Ttttaxes. Ttttolls. BBBonds. She wants to audit TxDot. Perry killed her. TxDOT gets audited every two years, he said.

Medina came across as more of an amateur this time. Last time she was spunky. This time she was old news. I was impressed that she nailed the question about how much starting school teachers made. The questions weren’t really good for her. She didn’t have a lot of opportunity to score points with the tea party crowd. Her issues are pretty esoteric. Property tax versus consumption tax. Nullification. I think this debate was really set up to be a fight between Hutchison and Perry for the GOP base vote, not the crazies. It was her last chance to win them over, and she didn’t come close to doing it. Perry by a mile.

Mmmmmmnnnot quite, Paul.

If he won, it was only because Kay Bailey was pathetic (he's dead solid about that) and Medina was not the kid-that-nobody-expected-to-be-in-the-finals this time (she had a higher bar to clear and missed it).

Medina's backtracking on secession after they showed tape of her calling for it  on the south steps of the Capitol was her Waterloo. She did get a few good shots in and she aced a pop quiz answer or two, but she's really just a flash in the pan.  The ultra-loonies will stick with her but the movement will be toward Rick Perry because they all hate Kay so much.  Her nuance on Roe crushes her with these people.

Rick Perry lied through those grinning, gritted teeth so many times, advanced his BS talking points ('"I always stand on the side of life"... and I'll kill ya if ya don't get outta my way') until the mods and panelists cut him off, determinedly ignored his opponents while they spoke, and generally acted like the petulant frat boy Medina called him in the WSJ (but backed away from when grilled about it) until the clock ran out.

Winning by not screwing up, and by having the lamest opposition ever.  Yeah, he's on a winning streak, all right.  Other reactions:

Peggy Fikac: Well, it was a debate

KHOU: Mobile text poll results give edge to Medina (has links to the debate video)

RG Ratcliffe (and Peggy Fikac): Many attacks, few suggestions

John Cobarruvias:  Wayne Slater won

Texas Tribune: No knockout in final round (audio analysis of the debate going forward to March 2) and Watching the Focus Group (I'll spare you the click-over: all but one of a group of GOP undecideds thinks Perry won)

Burnt Orange and Texas Blue also live-blogged. (Sorry fellas, but with Facebook and Twitter also offering all the instant analysis anybody could ever want, live-blogging anything has become more boring than being alive.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Following up two recent posts *make that three*

-- "TeaBuggin'" drew an enormous amount of unique visitors and click-throughs this week. The post connected the escapades of filmographer/"pimp"/"telephone repairman" James O'Keefe, his employer/contractor Andrew Breitbart, and Governor Rick Perry, who hosted Breitbart and other right-wing bloggers in an Austin get-together just this past weekend. Perry praised the "New Media" which Brietbart advocates and O'Keefe creates.  Maybe some enterprising journalist will ask the governor how proud he is of their most recent work in tonight's debate.  Meanwhile, you can view Brietbart (who demonstrates the same unhinged rage in person that he does in his writing on his blog) and MSNBC's David Shuster squaring off -- loudly and rudely -- in this video:

... and Perry and Brietbart and the other conservo-bloggers worshipping their weapons and each other in this video (Pajamas Media will allow you to watch it a limited number of times before they force you to register).

-- The snickering and implied sexism noted in "iPad: Mini or maxi?" also made several rounds elsewhere throughout the online world. Here are some pictures of the, ah, "hybrid product" introduced by Apple and Steve Jobs earlier in the week, courtesy Freetechie. And Feministing piled on, observing the probable lack of women's input on the name. But Apple has endured snark before about its branding and seems poised, as usual, to capitalize on the power of its product (and not its marketing).

Update: And Obama's State of the Union address, advanced here in cartoons and reacted to here by our Alliance, drew only a muttered 'you lie' instead of a shouted one, this time from Justice Samuel Alito. Demonstrating his remarkable judicial temperance, Alito scowled, shook his head, and said "not true" in response to the president's criticism of the Citizens United v. FEC decision handed down last week. Republican reaction -- led in ever-embarrassing fashion by our very own John Cornyn -- was proto-typically hypocritical. It conveniently overlooked GOP presidents' own harsh criticisms of Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v. Wade. And as the world comes around once more, we recall that Alito, as a Reagan DOJ attorney, had a hand in crafting legal strategies to overturn Roe as well.

Say no to activist judges? Republicans lie.

Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger

I note their passings this week with greater woe in admitting that I have read neither A People's History of the United States nor Catcher in the Rye.

Proudly, unabashedly radical, with a mop of white hair and bushy eyebrows and an impish smile, Mr. Zinn, who retired from the history faculty at Boston University two decades ago, delighted in debating ideological foes, not the least his own college president, and in lancing what he considered platitudes, not the least that American history was a heroic march toward democracy.

Democracy Now! collects his appearances on their program, which you may select, watch, and listen. In November 2008, Zinn was in Houston to give the keynote address at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference.  You may watch that speech here.


Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Though not everyone, teachers and librarians especially, was sure what to make of it, “Catcher” became an almost immediate best seller, and its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, a teenager newly expelled from prep school, became America’s best-known literary truant since Huckleberry Finn.

With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.

The novel’s allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell more than 250,000 copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon in 1980, even said the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.” In 1974 Philip Roth wrote, “The response of college students to the work of J. D. Salinger indicates that he, more than anyone else, has not turned his back on the times but, instead, has managed to put his finger on whatever struggle of significance is going on today between self and culture.”

Many critics were more admiring of “Nine Stories,” which came out in 1953 and helped shape writers like Mr. Roth, John Updike and Harold Brodkey. The stories were remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue (Mr. Salinger, who used italics almost as a form of musical notation, was a master not of literary speech but of speech as people actually spoke it) and the way they demolished whatever was left of the traditional architecture of the short story — the old structure of beginning, middle, end — for an architecture of emotion, in which a story could turn on a tiny alteration of mood or irony. Mr. Updike said he admired “that open-ended Zen quality they have, the way they don’t snap shut.”

Mr. Salinger also perfected the great trick of literary irony — of validating what you mean by saying less than, or even the opposite of, what you intend. Orville Prescott wrote in The New York Times in 1963, “Rarely if ever in literary history has a handful of stories aroused so much discussion, controversy, praise, denunciation, mystification and interpretation.” 

So many people I know well -- and more just in passing -- were so moved by both men's words that I felt compelled to mark their deaths, and I hope I can make acquaintance with those words in the very near future.

Repugs debate tonight (and Dems next week)

TeaBagger darling Debra Medina tries to catapult her propaganda from the last tussle with Kay and Rick to even higher political fortunes in the second face-off between GOP gubernatorial contenders in Dallas this evening.

As the Republican candidates for governor prepare for what likely is their last debate tonight on statewide television, the first debate between Democrats Bill White and Farouk Shami has been set for Feb. 8 in Fort Worth. ...

Hutchison and Medina both benefited from the first debate, the former because of her energetic assault on Perry's record. Medina, as an unknown candidate, gained credibility through her knowledge of the issues.

Perry again will be the target in tonight's debate, hosted by Belo Corp., its affiliated newspapers and TV stations. Perry said he felt confident.

“I've been preparing for this debate for about 25 years. So nothing's different,” the incumbent said Thursday.

He sounds terrified to me.

“The economy is the No. 1 issue that is out there and I'm going to argue that Texas is in better shape than just about any other state,” Perry said. “Texans want a leader who is confident. Texans want a leader who knows exactly where he wants to take this state and has the record to back it up.”

Hutchison spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the senator, who was in Washington on Thursday, plans to focus her debate on Texas' future and challenge Perry to explain how he would use another term in office.

Medina, meanwhile ...

(...) acknowledges that voters and political observers wonder whether Perry and Hutchison were just caught off-guard at the first debate, and whether she will prove to be a credible candidate.

"It’s important to see whether I can take the heat" in the second debate, she says. "We deserve as Texans to know whether someone we’re putting in leadership can handle herself under pressure. This is the only chance for all Texans to be able to see that."

We'll be watching. As will Bill White and Farouk Shami and the rest of the Democratic field, who may not make the Belo cut to appear. More on that outcome today from the Dallas News.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Texas Progressive Alliance rejects Obama's spending freeze

*Note: I missed the deadline to include my statement in this release, so my thoughts appear at the end of this post.

Top progressive bloggers from across Texas issued a statement today in response to President Obama's State of the Union address cautioning the President to avoid implementing a federal spending freeze.  While these bloggers maintain their support of their President and their Democratic candidates, they reject the notion that a spending freeze is a valid solution for working Americans in this time of economic crisis.

"A spending freeze is foolish," said Trey McAtee, an Austin-based blogger who writes under the pseudonym of  'McBlogger.'  "It is not in line with the ideals of President Obama's supporters, and as progressive bloggers we're here to make sure he knows that."

These members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, a coalition of progressive Texas bloggers formed in 2007, call on President Obama to reconsider his plans for a spending freeze and instead focus on restoring the confidence that businesses have in the future.

The following individual statements were issued:

"The economy is still in a precarious and fragile state, even today.  The deficit hawks in Congress have decided to willfully ignore reality and opted instead to play politics on the issue of the deficit.  They're making demands that, if the President accedes, will lead to a long lasting economic malaise."

-- Trey McAtee of McBlogger (

"The spending freeze will likely affect those who need it the most during this difficult time in our economy.  Throughout his campaign, Obama criticized his opponent's calls for a spending freeze, calling it a 'hatchet when we need a scalpel.'  The only difference progressives see now between Obama and McCain's platform is that Sarah Palin isn't standing next to him."

-- Rachel Farris of MeanRachel (

"During his candidacy, President Obama promised to overhaul immigration early in his first term. However, many immigrant rights advocates fear Obama's spending freeze will put a halt to any type of immigration reform. Any further delay to fix the broken immigration system and this nation will continue to see the devastation of thousands of families and neighborhoods."

-- Edmundo Rocha of Para Justicia y Libertad (

"The spending freeze is both bad policy and bad politics. The last thing we need to hear about right now are ideas for what the government won't do to get us out of the economic crisis that has crippled many American families. What we need instead is bold leadership, not efforts to satisfy the whims of obstructionist Republicans and cowardly Blue Dog Democrats."

-- "Xanthippas" of Three Wise Men (

"A spending freeze is a passing gimmick that does not address the long-term problems facing the American people. Instead of offering up a stunt, President Obama needs to discuss the realities of a changing global economy in an adult manner with the American people. Instead of retreating, government has a part to play in helping Americans with jobs, health care and education."

-- Neil Aquino of Texas Liberal (

"President Obama is struggling because he's allowing his political enemies to drive the public discourse, delay his agenda in Congress and slow-walk his nominees. By refusing to fight for the issues he campaigned on, his electoral majority from 2008 is disillusioned and unmotivated. Perhaps once we have a Speaker Boehner and a Leader McConnell, Obama will realize that abandoning his base in search of approbation from the right was a mistake."

-- Editors of Eye On Williamson (

"Americans need to be reminded that Obama did not create this financial mess, he inherited it! The Republican attempt to erase the George Bush presidency is astonishing. Obama needs to remember that this time the mandate is his, given to him by the very people who will suffer most under his proposed spending freeze."

-- Sharon Wilson of BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas (

"Irresponsible leadership by George W. Bush and Congressional enablers left Americans on the brink of complete economic meltdown and we are far from out of the woods on that score. Why adopt the failures of  the minority party, or pretend to for political cover? There is a very small window of opportunity  before voters decide whether to let Democrats keep their majorities.  Time to turn on the gas, not put on the freeze."

--  "Boadicea," Managing Editor of Texas Kaos (

"Although deficits and debt are a undoubtedly a long-term concern, we will have little ability to fix them and reverse course until our economy is fully back on track and unemployment comes down to a reasonable number.  To that extent, the federal government ought to be looking at continued investment that will inspire confidence and leverage private investment. Any across-the-board spending freeze is counter-productive."

-- Steve Southwell of (


I think a federal spending freeze is the worst possible thing that could be done at this moment. And while I don't completely share the expressions of support for the President expressed in the above statement's opening, 'Democrat' is my default setting.  I will vote for Obama in November 2012 if he is the Democratic nominee but I prefer to see a strong primary challenger from his left -- far left (relatively speaking).

But to the freeze: I am of the mind that the stimulus did not go far enough nor was aggressive enough; that too much was packaged as tax relief than actual spending; in short I am in complete agreement with Krugman and consider myself a full-bore Keynesian in economic philosophy (as simply as it can be expressed, that it is government's responsibility to spend its way out of a recession).

This freeze might be the greatest mistake yet made by this President ... if he should actually follow through on it (no sure thing given his record on broken promises like closing Guantanamo). It strikes me as a unilateral capitulation to the screaming of conservatives whose eardrum-pained caterwauling about deficits and debt were as AWOL during George W. Bush's terms as he was during the Vietnam war.

Obama has gone too far already in trying to entice Republicans to join him and his party to participate in governing the country. If he does not begin instituting the policies that motivated Americans to elect him to the White House, he could be ejected in 2012 -- depending in large part on who his competition is.

And yet ...
And thus - while anything's possible, of course - I am hard pressed to see how the Obama administration is anything but finished. ...

The obvious solution, of course, would be a sharp turn to the left.  Go where the real solutions are.  Fight the good fight.  Call liars ‘liars' and thieves ‘thieves'.  Do the people's business.  Become their advocate against the monsters bleeding them dry.  Create jobs.  Build infrastructure.  Do real national health care.  End the wars.  Dramatically slash military spending.  Produce actual educational reform.  Launch a massive green energy/jobs program.  Get serious about global warming.  Kick ass on campaign finance reform.  Fight for gay rights.  Restore the New Deal era regulatory framework and expand it.  Restore a fair taxation structure.  Rewrite trade agreements that undermine American jobs.  Rebuild unions.  Fill the spate of vacancies in the federal judiciary, and load those seats up with progressives.  Rally the public to demand that Congress act on your agenda.  Humiliate the regressives in and out of the GOP for their abysmal sell-out policies.
All of this could be done, and most of it would be very popular, especially if it was backed by an aggressive and righteously angry Oval Office advocate for the people who knew how to use the bully pulpit to shape the narrative, to market ideas, and to mobilize public support.

Obama has just nine months to get some of the things done that he spoke about tonight that will quickly put Americans back to work, the most important and valuable thing he can do. Otherwise the electorate will spill his party's blood in the midterm elections. He's blown this first year but to analogize it to football, it's halftime; he can still make the necessary adjustments and come out slinging.

And swinging.

iPad. Mini or maxi?

"Dude, you're NOT gettin' a Dell, you're gettin' a ... feminine hygiene product that resembles a Kindle. Or maybe a giant iPhone."

State of the Union toons

TeaBuggin' *updated*

Anti-ACORN scam artist and 'pimp' James O'Keefe was arrested yesterday doing his best Watergate 'plumber' impersonation:

(O'Keefe and three other men) were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses and attempting to gain access to (Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu)’s office by posing as telephone repairmen, according to a copy of an FBI affidavit unsealed Tuesday.

The complaint said that O’Keefe was waiting in the office when Flanagan and Basel each entered the premises, wearing light green fluorescent vests, denim paints and blue work shirts, tool belts and hard-hats. They informed a member of Landrieu’s staff that they were telephone repairmen and requested access to the main telephone at the reception desk.

At that point, the two men allegedly attempted to manipulate telephones and accessed the telephone closet, saying they needed to work on the entire system. The men, who said they left their credentials in their vehicles, were arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service soon afterward. O’Keefe, who had been filming the two men on his cell phone camera, was allegedly involved with planning, coordination, and preparation of the operation, according to an affidavit signed by Steven Rayes, special agent at the FBI.

O'Keefe has been praised by FOX, lauded by conservative-freak-blogger Andrew Breitbart (who was in Austin over the past weekend with other right-wing bloggers/gun nuts lovingly fondling Rick Perry's pistol) and hailed even by our own Sugar Land Congressman Pete Olson, who introduced a House resolution commending O'Keefe for "setting an example for concerned citizens across America" and was "owed a debt of gratitude by the people of the United States" -- a resolution joined by his fellow Republican goons Joe Barton, John Carter, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, and Kenny Marchant.

All of whom could not comment because they are busy running in the opposite direction at the moment. Except for that criminally insane lunatic Breitbart.

Keep an eye out for their continuing attempts in coming days to spin this scandal away.

Update: Rachel Maddow's segment from her show last night, exposing additional angles ...

Update: More all over the InterTubes, but MOMocrats has a good collection of links, including some dope on the getaway car driver/listening device operator Stan Dai, who probably met O'Keefe at a Leadership Institute get-together, and The Daily Hurricane samples liberally from Governor MoFo's right-wing-blog/gun nut fest in Austin last weekend.

Update II: Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin have begun the recriminations.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates the city of New Orleans for its first Super Bowl as it provides an instant replay of its blog highlights for the week.

Something stinks about the recent TCEQ Barnett Shale air quality testing in Fort Worth and in Flower Mound. It's all in Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

Off the Kuff looked at a report on the economic impact of dropouts.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme sympathizes with Lamar Smith's constituents who were told they must contact Smith's office if they want him to stop illegally calling their cellphones. Smith's breaking the law and his solution is to make his constituents ask him to stop.

At Texas Vox we're pleased as punch to see that Austin isn't alone in preparing for a clean energy future; Portland General Electric plans to shut down its coal plant by 2020!

WhosPlayin reposted a article from 2007 about the corporation: Don't hate the player, change the game, which is especially apropos considering the news this past week.

A Republican in Democrat's clothing tries to ride into office in Dallas County. SDEC members and precinct chairs say 'no way' to this Eagle Forum darling at The Texas Cloverleaf.

Citizens of Texas say &^%$ Governor Perry! at Bay Area Houston for screwing up the state after ten years. Add your own!

WCNews at Eye On Williamson takes a glass half-full approach in analyzing the muffed election last week. Let's HOPE it's seen as a wake up call.

Right-wing bloggers gathered in Austin to worship Rick Perry's pistol. Seriously. Read the entire revolting display of sycophancy at Brains and Eggs.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is continually amazed at the general ignorance concerning the actual words in the US Constitution. Interpretations abound from the mouths of people who have never read the document, or do not comprehend the words in context. Embellishments and fantasy surrounding the Consitution are spoken every day. What is especially disturbing is how these fantasies infiltrate America's politics. To be elected in some regions, a politician must fertilize the fantasy. Perspective must return to how Americans regard the Law of the Land: American Theocracy divorces US Constitution, promotes terrorism.

Over at TexasKaos, Boadicea offers a little not-so-subtle advice to Democrats who find themselves unmanned by the events of last week. She calls it Dear Democrats: Balls. Trust me, you will like the video she found to illustrate her point!

Neil at Texas Liberal made note of the fact that just two months remain before his tenth wedding anniversary. Neil is damned glad about his marriage. Neil is not certain he could advocate for liberal causes if he did not have such a solid personal relationship in his life to help him manage his frequent anger at the world. The personal and the private are often connected in many ways that we may not often consider.

Caption Kay Bailey and the Quaker Oats Man

Here, I'll get us started:

"Speaking of Haiti ... what color did you re-do your bathroom in?"

"I know what it looks like, but I'm telling you it's an IED."

"I appear to have killed your dog. But really, isn't it better off anyway?"

"Next on the History Channel: 'When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth'"

"Come gaze into our little pond of fathomless corruption, Senator ..."

"How long do you think he will vomit like that?" ...
"I can't say. He went for 67 minutes when we made him buy the Rangers."


* Inspired here. Sorry, but comments are F'd up thanks to Haloscan and Blogger. Will continue working on a fix.

Gov. Perry creates jobs for Texas felons

Thanks, Governor Perry:

Gov. Rick Perry's campaign has unknowingly paid convicted felons as part-time workers under its incentive program to turn out voters for the Republican primary.

The campaign lists about 300 part-time workers on the financial disclosure forms it filed with the state, recruits under the "Perry Home Headquarters" program that pays people to get others to sign up as a Perry supporter and pledge to vote. A handful have criminal histories, a Dallas Morning News review shows.

No really, THANKS! I think it's great that he's giving these people opportunities in this economy when they would have few even in a good one.

"People in life make mistakes," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. "It doesn't mean they can't get a second chance and work hard. That's what these people are doing. They are out there trying to change their lives and make a difference."

Hear, hear! (Spin, spin.)

Beyond that, the program has become a money-making opportunity, especially for those with extensive social networking profiles. Some may be in it more for the cash than the candidate. For instance, one lists herself as a Facebook fan of President Barack Obama, an unlikely political pairing.

Well maybe she's, you know, just another disillusioned Democrat.

...Joshua Furrh of Fort Worth, convicted of possession of a controlled substance and sentence to three years probation in 2007, was paid $480 by the Perry campaign.

He acknowledged that he was on probation but declined to discuss his case any further or to talk about the Perry program.

"He's going to make a great governor, again," Furrh said.

Good on ya, buddy. Don't buy any more dope with it.

Enterprising workers use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to help them recruit. Shaniqua Curry of Denton earned $3,420 for her effort, which included a plaintive Twitter plea: "HELP ME RAISE MONEY FOR MY NEXT CAR!!! COPY, PASTE, AND SIGN UP TO SUPPORT RICK PERRY!" the tweet read.

Maybe Shaniqua can cross-sell with her Avon or Amway network. Yeah, that's the ticket!

"As a reminder, you have the potential to receive an additional $20 for each headquarter that fulfills their commitments of voting early in the primary (Feb. 16-26) and recruiting 11 voters," wrote Elyse Derian, the Houston regional director for Perry's campaign. "Please take these next few weeks to encourage your headquarters to recruit those 11 individuals to commit to vote!"

Needing to focus on getting voters to the polls, the Perry campaign scrapped part of its incentive pay.

"For those of you that are being compensated for your work, the campaign will not compensate you from this point forward for any new" recruiters that are brought in, Derian wrote this month. "However, the bonus for getting your [recruiters] to identify and turn out 11 registered voters is still as is."

Derian also urged the workers to make sure the people they recruited were registered to vote. Many of the names turned in by the part-time workers were either not registered to vote or lived outside of Texas.

Campaign officials remain confident the program will help Perry at the polls.

"It's doing what we said it would do," Miner said. "When you're taking on an unprecedented effort like this, there is always room to grow."

Who wants to be a millionaire? Thanks again, Governor Perry!

(You don't think any of 'em could also be working for ACORN, do you?)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Extra Sunday Funnies

TeaBaggin' bloggers fellate Rick Perry's gun barrel and boots

I couldn't make up shit this crazy if I tried with all my might and smoked heroin too:

Gov. Perry looked over at me and asked if I wanted to squeeze off a few rounds with his personal handgun. I jumped at the chance. So there we are, Gov. Perry and I, squeezed into a 5′ wide alley ... and the next thing I know, Gov. Perry has cocked and loaded his handgun, and hands it to me and says, “It’s live.”

There I am, standing no more than 6-9″ from the Governor of Texas, holding his loaded handgun. ...

-- Robbie "Douchebag" Cooper

During his speech, at one point the Governor hoisted his leg up onto the table, lifted up his pant leg to reveal his specially made leather boots with a cannon and insignia "Come and Take It!." He pointed to Andrew and said this is what the spirit of Texas is all about.

-- Eric Dondero, "Yes, that really is the Governor himself who Tweats"

Don't miss the photos of all the TeaBagging, circle-jerking conservatives shooting their wads.

If you ever really wondered why Texas is so screwed up, you have a small bit of raw, naked evidence at those links.

Thanks, Governor Perry.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, January 22, 2010

Playoff football

I don't think they realize that they have already lost (and it was the Super Bowl).

Time for a new coach, and a new quarterback, and training for next season.

Wilson off the ballot, Sylvia in big trouble

-- Homophobe Dave Wilson is disallowed from being a Democratic candidate, and we're all appreciative of that.

The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston has denied a request for a place on the March Democratic primary ballot from a would-be challenger to Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole.

Sign company owner Dave Wilson sought to run for the Democratic nomination for commissioner. Because no other Republican or Democratic candidates filed to run, Wilson would have faced Eversole in November. ...

Wilson filed a writ of mandamus last week seeking to be placed on the ballot. The appeals panel denied his petition late Wednesday. Wilson said he has not given up and intends to file an appeal with a state district court today.

“I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that the 14th Court of Appeals has made a political ruling rather than one based on the law,” Wilson said, speculating that the court's motive is to protect Republican office seekers.

Allen Blakemore, a political consultant for Eversole, said of the court's decision, “It means that the commissioner is re-elected and excited about that and excited to dispense with politics and get back to the business of roads and bridges and parks and libraries and all of the business of Precinct 4.”

The only larger schmucks in this matter are Eversole and his attorney Blakemore, whom we're still stuck with.

--Meanwhile over in Chambers County, Judge Jimmy Sylvia -- apparently by enjoining his son Jimbo in an employment fraud that is Sopranos-worthy -- is in big trouble for allegedly bilking FEMA out of a boatload of taxpayer money. Wayne Dolcefino (via Bay Area H-Town) did the deed:

Read these two previous entries about my meeting with Sylvia in 2006. It appears there's going to be some music to face for the county judge and his son in this matter. FWIW Sylvia was a Democrat for many years but switched to the GOP in 2007 -- just like some other exurban Texas county officials -- in order to hang onto his job.

-- Update: John links to Dolcefino's second nightly newcast explaining how the scandal is spreading to other Chambers County officials. And here is part three.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SCOTUS removes campaign spending limits on corporations

You know, it's been a really shitty week for justice and democracy.

In a stunning reversal of the nation's federal campaign finance laws, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that as an exercise of free speech, corporations, labor unions and other groups can directly spend on political campaigns.

Siding with filmmakers of "Hillary: The Movie", who were challenged by the Federal Election Commission on their sources of cash to pay for the film, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that banned corporate and labor money. The decision threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Because, after all, corporations are people too, and they need First Amendment protection like any other living, breathing person.

The ruling is sure to send a jolt to political campaigns throughout the country that are gearing up for the 2010 midterm elections. It will also impact the 2012 presidential race and federal elections to come. ...

It also undercuts recent congressional legislation mandating tighter controls on political donations that had restricted the flow of corporate dollars into the political system.

Some other opinions of the ruling:

The ruling marks the boldest step yet for Roberts and fellow George W. Bush appointee Alito, who previously had shied away from explicitly reversing precedents. The majority overturned a 1990 Supreme Court decision that said corporations can be barred from using general treasury funds to pay for campaign advertisements.

-- BusinessWeek

Today’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC abolishes the previously settled distinction between corporate and individual expenditures in American elections and would appear to apply to state and local elections as well as Federal ones given that the Court recognizes such a First Amendment right. This is literally an earth shattering change in the lay of the land in campaign finance, and it will have ramifications in every way imaginable for the foreseeable future.

-- emptywheel at firedoglake

If you like Congressional gridlock and insider politics, then you'll love this decision. If you think the lobbyists for the banks, insurance firms, and oil companies need more power, you'll love this decision. But if you value fairness, democracy and the free speech of ordinary citizens, this is a disaster. It is an immoral decision that puts the Roberts' Court on the side of Wall Street and the big money lobbyists against the interests of Main Street America.

-- Nick Nyhart of Public Citizen

Update: Olbermann spells it out.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Killer Keller skates

Because "public humiliation" is punishment enough for her.

A special master has concluded that Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller doesn't deserve to be removed from office or even given “further reprimand beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered” for her conduct in a death row inmate's failed effort to file a last-minute appeal before his execution. San Antonio-based District Judge David Berchelmann Jr., serving as special master in the case of alleged judicial misconduct, wrote that the Texas Defender Service in representing Michael Richard “bears the bulk of fault for what occurred on September 25, 2007.”

Unbe-fucking-lievable. Here's her attorney:

"Judge Keller takes to heart the advice that she should strive to be more collegial and that the Court's internal communications should improve," (attorney Chip) Babcock's statement said.

'More collegial'.


Interesting to note that "public humiliation" is a substitute for an official reprimand when a judge engages in behavior that's "not exemplary of a public servant" and considered "highly questionable." ... Judge Berchelmann's recommendation will now go to the full Commission on Judicial Conduct who will decide whether to dismiss charges, reprimand Keller, or recommend her removal from office.

And Elise Hu:

The timing of (death row defendant Michael) Richard's last-minute appeal was especially key in this case. He was set to be executed the same day the U.S. Supreme Court stayed all executions in the country after it decided to hear Baze v. Rees, which questioned whether lethal injection constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The SCJC review says Richard's execution would have likely been stayed too, but his lawyers had to exhaust the lethal injection argument in state courts first. The claim was never presented to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which Keller leads, after a series of miscommunications between her court and lawyers from the defender service. A key miscommunication had to do with the message about the early closing time.

I gotta say I'm speechless. A compilation from the StandDown Texas Project for the history of this case is here and my previous postings are here.

Updates:  More astounded reactions. Othniel ...

Equality under the Law?
Due Process for all?
Not in Texas. More process than is due to and superior standing under the law is accorded to Chief Judge Keller than to litigants before her.  Apparently those who dare approach her Court seeking Justice enjoy neither equality nor due process.  She cannot be bothered to keep open the Court House door after 5:00 p.m., even though a defendant's life hang in the balance.

WSJ Law Blog (the most conservative source I would ever post):

Well, we weren’t entirely sure that Sharon Keller, the presiding judge the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, was going to get in big trouble over the events of Sept. 25, 2007.

But we hardly expected that the special master presiding over the judicial misconduct charges against Keller would blame another party for the unfortunate series of events. Or that the master, San Antonio-based judge David Berchelmann Jr., would express sympathy for Keller.

Texas Cloverleaf:

Ethics in Texas is never really ethical, and this case is no different. Judge Sharon Keller closed her office promptly at 5pm and allowed a man to be executed, rather than accepting the appeal. ...

Republican judges saving Republican judges. Ahhhh the ethics of Texas. Way to go, impartial judiciary.

Reactions to Massachusetts

Yeah, it sucks that we lost our 60th vote, but really, what did 60 get us last year? It empowered Joe Lieberman, gave cover to Blanche Lincoln, provided excuses to Harry Reid, and gave a free pass to Max Baucus.

Now we don't have 60. And like the Republican Senate of the 2000s, if Democrats want to get anything done, they'll have to do it via reconciliation.

Given last year's track record in the Senate, it certainly can't make the Senate any less effective.

-- Markos

If “Scozzafava’d” (having a candidate endorse the other Party’s candidate) is still a verb in the political lexicon, then I believe “Coakley’d” (taking victory for granted while your opponent campaigns his heart out) should be a verb as well. The conclusion I’m coming to is that Coakley may have been a fine public official, but she was a terrible candidate. Brown’s campaign made all the right moves to take advantage of this special election situation. Meanwhile, Coakley gaffed it up and stayed inside where it was warm (19 events compared to Brown’s 66 events ...)

The lesson for progressives: work hard and don’t take anything for granted. The lesson for elected Democrats: when you have a mandate from the people, use it or lose it.

The silver lining (beyond the fact that Joe Lieberman is joyfully irrelevant once again) is that Texas Democrats don’t take anything for granted.

-- "Coakley'd", from Lubbock Left

The best part of the Democratic loss in Massachusetts is that the pitiful Senate health care bill will now probably die the ugly death it deserves. The only chance it has to survive is for the House progressives to knuckle under and accept the Senate bill as it is, and I don't think they'll do that. At least, I hope they don't.

If they do give up and accept the terribly flawed Senate bill, then the Democrats will suffer in the November elections, and they'll richly deserve it. The American people put the Democrats in power to affect real change in this country, and so far the Democrats have failed to deliver on that promise.

-- Ted McLaughlin at jobsanger

For the sake of our country, I hope this turn of events serves as a wake-up call to President Obama and his advisors. Barack Obama did not win the presidency by calling out for caution and incrementalism. We all know this. He won the presidential election because he inspired a significant winning margin of voters with his bold calls for hope and change. Yet for Obama's first year in office his message to the populist base that gave him a mandate was, "Don't expect too much". The audacious, ringing cry "Yes we can!" turned into the cautious admonition, "No we can't".

-- David Van Os

It’s no secret that the voter unrest is driven by D.C.’s failure to understand the breadth and depth of the nation’s economic anxiety. Some pundits want to say the Massachusetts outcome was anti-health care reform. But that’s not it. The problem is reform hasn’t passed, it doesn’t go far enough. Combined with the perception that bankers and other Wall Street malefactors are getting off easy, the public wants to know why they are left outside on the ledge while the culprits enjoy martinis and big, plump-cushioned, comfortable chairs.

Looking at this from Texas, it’s good news that most Texas Democrats don’t suffer from East Coast smugness. They are, by and large, men and women of the people. Politics is personal, and individual needs and opportunities matter. This is the direction national Democrats should take. Screw the big powerful lobbyists. Get out on Main Street, listen to folk. Lead, but understand who you are leading.

-- Glenn Smith at Dog Canyon

Update: The last word from Jon Stewart.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Run-offs in the primaries for Texas governor

Both of them, in my always-humble O. First, about the Pukes:

The appearance in last week's statewide televised debate evidently helped Republican activist Debra Medina the most and won her a spot in the upcoming Jan. 29 debate hosted by Belo.

An new Rasmussen Reports survey shows Medina with 12 percent support among 831 likely GOP primary voters surveyed Sunday. Medina had only 4 percent support in a survey by the company in November.

Perry continues to lead with 43 percent support and Hutchison was at 33 percent, with 11 percent undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. In the November poll, Perry led 46 percent to 35 percent.

Kay Bailey needs to get to 35% and Funky Cold Medina to 16 -- which is the more likely of the two scenarios -- and voila: Rick Perry will have to beat Kay again in a run-off in April.

For the Dems, let's go to Burnt Orange for the opinion of Dr. Richard Murray's take, who's working locally for ABC-13 ...

Bill White starting out with the most name identification is of course an advantage but Farouk Shami has been advertising statewide for the last month to the tune of what I can tell is about $2.5-3.0 million over $3.5 million dollars. White hasn't spent money on TV ads to date and it's unclear when or if that will happen prior to March 2nd's primary. I'm a little curious how effective Shami's ads in December will be for a March primary but considering he's probably going to be on air all the way through the next month and a half, that could solve the problem of people forgetting your name/brand if they aren't reminded about it. Of course, if he got himself listed on the ballot as Farouk "CHI IRON" Shami he'd win the name id game in a pinch. Alas...

Read it all but note this from Dr. Murray at the end:

Taken together, Bill White is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee for governor this year. There is some question as to whether he can get 50% plus against six opponents, thus avoiding an April runoff with Farouk Shami (I think he will get a majority).

Dr. Murray goes on to speculate about the possibility of Shami stalking for Governor MoFo, even quoting John Whitmire in the plot.  I rarely disagree with the good professor and I only occasionally question the Dean of the Texas Senate, but that is complete balderdash.

Anyway, and as I posted on the BOR thread, I'll take Dr. Murray's bet. In 2006, Felix Alvarado's sister -- who had no prior elective experience -- became the Democratic nominee for lt. governor, finishing ahead of an Anglo who had been a state representative and an appeals court judge. She led in the primary election (which included another Hispanic political novice, Adrian DeLeon) and she won the run-off handily.

That's right; four years ago Ben Z. Grant, the only non-Latino in the race for lite gov, got less than 40% of the three-way vote in a race in which more Democrats voted than in the contests higher on the ballot: US Senator (Radnofsky v. Kelly) and governor (Bell v. Gammage).

I think Aguado and Alvarado can draw at least 30% of the primary vote between them, so I'll say the March 2nd numbers look something like this:

White 40%
Shami 20%
Alvarado 18%
Aguado 12%
Dear, Glenn, and Locke together 10%

I believe it's entirely possible that Felix Alvarado and not Farouk Shami makes it into a run-off with White; more likely, in fact than White getting 50%.

*And like Dr. Murray (I'm guessing), I reserve the right to revise this prediction as we draw closer to Election Day, now about six weeks away.

Whatever happens today in Massachusetts ...

... Democrats have only themselves to blame.

I would give a slice of humble pie topped with a schmear of greasy blame to each of the following:

-- Martha Coakley, for running one of the most lackadaisical campaigns ever seen. For a once-popular elected official, she's made one mistake after the other, the most glaring one calling Curt Schilling "a Yankees fan".

-- Harry Reid, who allowed every Blue Dog (and a few Republicans) to pee their little bit into the smelly hash made of healthcare insurance reform. When you're elected by the people on the basis of "universal health care" and then can't even manage to make a public insurance option palatable to the Lords of the Senate, you're as weak as rainwater.

-- and Barack Obama, to hit Rahm Emanuel in the face with, for driving the White House's hand in the mostly-hands-off process and performing his classic "Let's Shit All Over Our Base" number once again.

I got off this bus a few weeks back.  I am more than happy to let the bill die. And it looks to me like the country needs to go through another few years of Republicans' "governmental reform" before we wise up.  Again.

And on the off chance that Coakley somehow manages to pull it out, I hope everyone is paying attention to who did the last-minute phonebanking and blockwalking and all the other GOTV efforts.

Clue to Rahm: it isn't the goddamn independents.  And  a vise grip to conservatives: it won't be ACORN either, you morons.

Update: Jonathan Alter of Newsweek -- damned liberal media -- obviously doesn't get it either. But Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post does.

Update II, post-Election Day: Howard Fineman adds his list, on which we agree about the top three and then he veers way off the rails. Read a blog besides your own once in awhile, pal.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes you a happy MLK Day as it brings you this week's blog highlights.

Off the Kuff takes a look at some demographic trends in the Houston area.

Something STINKS about TCEQ's recent Fort Worth air study. Considering that the Barnett Shale has a staggering asthma rate of 25% compared to 7.1% statewide, TXsharon thinks it's time for an intervention in Texas. Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme, along with every other progressive, knows why Democrats are having a hard time. Even the Tea Party activists know that our country should not be run by corporate lobbyists.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson discusses the importance of the elections this year: 2010 races loom large for 2011 legislative redistricting.

Mary Peters loves her some private toll roads, which is understandable since her income depends on stupid people at TXDOT selling off our roads. McBlogger, understandably, has a problem with the fact that taxpayers have to get screwed for Mary and her masters to make money.

A few of PDiddie's friends around the state are taking a crack at public office this year. See who they are at Brains and Eggs.

Bay Area Houston notices what they didn't talk about at the Republican debates.

Neil at Texas Liberal updated his Martin Luther King reading & reference list for 2010. This list is the best such resource on the web.

MUD? FWSD? WTF? Developer welfare comes back into the light in Denton County, at the Texas Cloverleaf.

Remembering MLK today

And not with a sale or a day off.

By 1967, the Rev. Martin Luther King had become his country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was murdered -- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

TIME magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

Part 2 can be seen here as well as the full text of the speech. Here is a short excerpt:

"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. ... A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, 'This is not just.' It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, 'This is not just.' The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

"A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, 'This way of settling differences is not just.' This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Hat tip to the Texas Climate Emergency Campaign.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Farouk Shami in the news

Full disclosure: Not only is Shami a paid sponsor of this blog but Vince Leibowitz, my good friend and chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance, also serves as Shami's campaign director and senior strategist.

Shami's religious views and economic plans made news this past week. First, Corrie MacLaggan at the Statesman:

When Farouk Shami's gubernatorial campaign officials were asked in November what his religion is, they said he is Quaker.

But on Monday, other campaign officials said he is not.

Rick Casey at the Chron:

Farouk Shami, the Houston hair care magnate running for governor, wants you to know that he is not a Muslim.

He also wants you to know that he is not a Quaker.

One more thing he wants you to know: The Texas media, possibly out of “something darker and racially motivated,” is engaging in a disservice to Texas Democrats by promoting a “media sideshow surrounding Shami's religious beliefs.”

Aman Batheja at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Because of the wealthy Houston businessman’s origin, as soon as he announced his candidacy a rumor started that he is Muslim.

His campaign initially told reporters that Shami is a Quaker but appeared to backtrack this week.

On Tuesday, members of Shami’s campaign staff suggested that recent questions from the news media about his religion were racially motivated.

"Apparently, if you’re not lily white, some people will require you to pass a religious test in order to run for office in this country," campaign director Vince Leibowitz said.

K-T Musselman at Burnt Orange Report:

Earlier this week, I posted on an (sic) disappointing attack made by one of the minor Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Farouk Shami's faith. A number of other Texas media outlets wrote about some confusion and apparent backtracking by Shami as to whether he was Quaker, Muslim, or none of the above. ... I was a little disappointed at first that the release addressing the issue didn't answer the question which was raised as to what the actual response should be to attacks on Shami's faith- simply, what does he identify as?

Shami's statement on his religious beliefs:

I was born in the land of Abraham, believing in Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, and believing in one God. I grew up with members of my family and friends practicing multiple faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. I was also educated at a Quaker school. All of these things contributes to my relationship with God. To say simply ‘I'm a Muslim’ or ‘I'm a Quaker’ is to ignore major parts of my faith. I know it seems complicated that I do not have a pat answer to questions about what religion I am, but without my exposure to many different cultures and religious beliefs I wouldn't be the person I am today.

Although I'm not a member of any specific religious tradition, I do begin every day with prayer and meditation and have a strong personal relationship with God. I respect those who practice all faiths because I believe God gave us life to help one another, the poor, the sick and the oppressed. It is through God we can achieve peace, freedom and bring justice to the world. As Governor, I know, with God's help and guidance, I will be able to help every Texan have access to the American Dream just like I did—a good job, access to healthcare, and an excellent education for their children. That's why I feel called to run for office."

Glad that's all cleared up.

Shami's unconventional economic proposal is to build factories in hard-pressed Texas cities to construct solar panels to be placed on homes, free of charge.  Costs would be recouped by selling the generated electricity back to the power company, and once paid for, the panels then donated to the homeowner. A hundred thousand jobs would be created under this plan, presumably by the construction of the factories and then the factory and installer jobs themselves, along with -- again I would guess -- ancillary jobs from the investment, suppliers and so forth. From KHOU:

“I'm hoping within the first two years I will create a minimum of 100,000 jobs or I will resign and I am thinking I will give the state $10 million,” Shami said. “What do you think of that?”

Rice University and 11 News Political Expert Bob Stein had a different view.

“I think it will probably come off looking more like a gimmick than serious public policy,” he said. ...

Voter Scott Nethery said he wasn’t buying it right away.

“My first initial thoughts would be: unrealistic,” he said.

University of Houston Economist Barton Smith agreed. He called it “a stretch technologically” because solar panels are so expensive.

“(It is) something the private sector could not possibly do on its own given the current technology,” he said.

Shami also suggested this past week in a campaign appearance in El Paso that undocumented immigrants be granted amnesty in exchange for revealing criminal gangsters to law enforcement:

"We cannot continue to treat all undocumented workers as criminals. We must narrowly target the gangs that threaten our safety and to do that, undocumented workers must become our allies. Furthermore, we must give them incentives, beyond making their community safer, to come forward. That's why I want to work with the federal government to give legal status to anyone who contributes to the capture of gang members."

Lastly, Shami's transportation policy reveals him as favoring the end of both the Tran-Texas Corridor as well as the use of eminent domain "abuse". He proposes increases in the state gasoline tax to pay for his suggestions -- making him a rarity among candidates.

Update: What's sacred to Texas voters is the truth.

Friends running for office

-- Rachel Barrios-Van Os, for Bexar County Clerk. Yes, she's related to one of my very favorite dudes. One of her primary opponents is former Bexar County Democratic Party chair Carla Vela, who does not use e-mail ("it's too complicated") and noticed just last month that $200,000 was missing from the county party''s treasury.

... Vela struggled to explain how she only learned two days ago that Adams had been draining money from the party's primary account for 13 months.

That's despite County Auditor Tommy Tompkins' public complaints in August that the party had bounced a $100,000 check to the county for 2008 primary expenses.

At that time, Vela insisted the problem simply was a bank error. She said Wednesday that Adams told her “the bank gave us the wrong account number” when Compass Bank took over Laredo National Bank in 2008. She added that Tompkins never formally notified her that the check had bounced.

Tompkins disputed both of those points Wednesday.

“The check was bounced because there were insufficient funds to cover that $100,000, not because of a closed or wrong account,” he said. “I find it hard to believe that (Vela) is saying she just now found out about it when she had an e-mail I sent her back in July.”

Barrios-Van Os is hosting a meet-and-greet over dinner next week in San Antonio.

-- Jefferson County assistant auditor Keith Hawkes, for county treasurer.  Keith is a fraternity brother from college and has a compelling life story. This article in the Beaumont Enterprise online mentions six races in Jefferson County that will be decided on the Democratic ticket.

-- And Jody Crump, Orange County's first Republican and a childhood friend of my younger brother, challenges long-time Democratic incumbent Precinct 4 Commissioner Beamon Minton -- whose daughters also attended grade school with me.

-- No connection to me except through Southeast Texas: Hardin County officials who switched parties -- Democratic to Republican -- late last year also have several challengers:
Hardin County Democrats who filed for office Monday include Russell Wright for county judge; Sharon Overstreet for county treasurer; Chris Barnes and Thomas Tyler Jr. for Precinct 1 justice of the peace; and Valerie Stewart for Precinct 6 justice of the peace.

Hardin County is worth watching closely regarding the success of the TeaBagger phenomenon in suburban/exurban/rural Texas.