Tuesday, June 29, 2010

“Like all Jews, I was probably in a Chinese restaurant.”

You knew you were at the TDP convention when...

You get tagged in photos on Facebook and, in half of them, you look drunk (but weren't) and had your mouth open.

The Democrats with Disabilities Caucus was upstairs.

Boyd Ritchie's hair was so snowy white you know he had to have used some of that rinse old ladies use.

You sweated through your two best suits/dresses.

Some Republican morons were told to move a pickup truck parked at an event for press attention and the funniest thing about that is it was the most attention they got.

Faux coyote meat was served in a mobile home that was later given to charity.

Two political operatives who worked for Farouk Shami had to help some poor lady pick up her weight in coroplast Bill White signs off the ground after she dropped them and they went everywhere.

There were vegetarian sandwiches in the pressroom.

The TDP media advisory on convention parties included almost as many parties as caucuses.

The concession stands at the convention center ran out of everything except blue Gatorade and Frito pie, and you paid $9 for said combo and had immediate regrets.

Everywhere you turned, there was red-business-suited Molly Beth Malcolm (I swear to god, the only place I didn't run into her was in the bathroom, and I checked under the stall doors to make sure all 6' 5" of her wasn't hiding in there to tell me about how Bill White helped pay for conventions when he was party chair, or how you get a two-fer with Boyd and Betty Richie).

Police had to escort some nutjob from the Credentials Committee who was trying to unseat the entire Brazoria County delegation because they didn't pass some resolution he wanted -- and he calls YOU a tool of the party establishment.

Two prostitutes walked into the blogger's caucus and it was totally no big deal.

People laughed about Dick Cheney's heart attack openly and without reservation.

Your bags and purses were searched -- not to make sure you didn't have weapons, but to make sure you didn't bring in a cup of coffee or bottle of water you didn't pay $7 for at a concession stand.

You have that awkward moment where you have to ask one of the Castro brothers: "now which one are you?" (Note: San Antonio mayor Julian is to be on Stephen Colbert's Report tonight -- scroll halfway down. Or maybe it was last night.)

A candidate for justice of the peace from Coryelle County (or some damned place) goes up to everyone in a suit, hands them homemade, hand-lettered campaign literature and asks for a check.

Susan Criss tells you to stand still, snaps your photo unexpectedly, and posts it on Facebook.

The escalator briefly breaks down, someone asks you why, and you tell them it was the scooter someone tried to ride up it, and a crowd of people instantly believes you, and wants to make sure everyone is okay and someone says the legislature should mandate warning signs to prevent that before you have time to say you were joking.

David Van Os was running for something or nominating someone else to run for something, and no one involved in that equation is successful.

There were so many iPhones in one area it ground Corpus Christi's 3G network to a halt so badly you could not email the person standing next to you.

You walk up to a group of people having a conversation and within a minute realize it is two legislators and two transgendered individuals talking about the intricacies of gender reassignment surgery and how it plays into the voter ID debate -- and then stick around because it is one of the better public policy discussions you've heard all day -- and everyone laughs like hell when one of the non-legislators talks about asking John Carona if he wants to debate which bathroom the individual should use.

You walk into a bathroom, someone you don't know recognizes you, and before you have a chance to pee, they want you to blog about something, and you have no recognition of who they are except that you saw them at the previous two conventions.

As someone who is not Carl Whitmarsh walks by, people whisper and ask, "so is THAT Carl Whitmarsh?"

You finally meet Carl Whitmarsh, and mention it to someone in passing and everyone grows more interested than if you were talking about the latest Hollywood scandal -- and you are asked to describe Carl Whitmarsh down to hair color and what he is wearing because no one around you has met him before.

You witness someone who clearly has no business being at a TDP convention ask Leticia Van De Putte where the bathrooms are without realizing who she is. You consider calling security.

You hear Leticia Van De Putte introduce herself on nine separate and distinct occasions as the highest ranking Democrat in Texas.

There are people in your delegation who chastise you for leaving the floor because there might be important things to vote on coming up. Which may have been proper in the days before text messaging.

3 people running for Temporary Secretary of an unnamed ethnic issue caucus all talk about publishing a newsletter to keep members better informed, and a point of order is raised to ask the president to explain to the hapless candidates exactly what a temporary secretary is.

A CHI was raffled off at the meeting of the only caucus to have endorsed Farouk Shami.

Someone in your SD caucus runs for the Rules Committee on a platform of "I think it is important to follow the rules."  And when he loses 138 to 15, everyone feels so bad for him he is named Alternate to the Rules Committee in case the winner doesn't show up.

By the time the last of the statewide candidates speak, there is barely a quorum left to conduct business.

There is a choir of LaRouchites annoying everyone, and the LaRouchites get more mainstream media coverage than most candidates.

A candidate tells the Stonewall Democrats about an organization naming her an "Honorary Lesbian," and she gets massive applause, although you strongly suspect some people in the caucus want this proof in writing
just to make sure.

The most repeated comment is, "thank god there isn't as much confusion as there was in 2008," in nearly every caucus.

Someone refers to the LaKesha Rogers "booth" as the Starship Kesha and you laugh so hard you almost piss yourself. 

You start wondering if the LaRouchites really are different from a doomsday cult.

One lone old guy is protesting killing babies outside the convention center, and you really have to resist the urge to go out  and try to convert him just for fun.

You get buttons with sayings like, "Do I Look Like An Illegal," and "I like pro-choice girls" on them -- for FREE.

Someone mentions Fred Head's bus and you start feeling nauseated, but you aren't sure if it is the bus, the booze, or the $9 Frito pie that is making you sick.

You are at a bar and someone looks at your Obama shirt, uses the N-word, and you realize there is the real potential that person might not actually leave the bar alive whereas, at home, if you wore an Obama shirt into a bar YOU might be the one who doesn't come out alive.

Greens appeal to Texas Supremes

 All lawyered up with no place (yet) to go, the Greens plead for help from the highest (corporate) court in the state. Bold emphasis is not mine but Gary Scharrer's ...

The Green Party is asking the Texas Supreme Court to nullify a district court ruling prohibiting the party from certifying candidates for the November election ballot because of an "unauthorized illegal contribution."

A Republican front group - with help from Texas Republicans - raised the money to help the Green Party get enough signatures to make the ballot. But the money came from a corporation and anonymous donors, which violates Texas election code, claim Texas Democrats, who say Gov. Rick Perry's GOP friends want a Green Party gubernatorial candidate on the ballot to siphon votes from Democrat Bill White.

The court must rule by Friday, which is the deadline for parties to certify their candidates.

"This case matters because voters should have an alternative to entrenched career politicians. Despite the signatures of over 90,000 Texans, entrenched career politicians and their lawyers want to deny voters the right to choose in November," said David Rogers, one of the Green Party lawyers.

A trial has been scheduled for January.

"However the Texas Supreme Court rules, we're going to continue with this lawsuit, and we're going to get to the bottom of what happened," said Chad Dunn, a lawyer for the Texas Democratic Party.

This appeal could work out well for the Greens, since the SCOTX is 100% GOP, they favor defendants 86% of the time, and the Citizens United case decided in the SCOTUS last month in favor of corporate campaign contributions could be cited as precedent. We shall see ...

Update: From Jason Embry, public comments from two attorneys associated with each side ...

Election lawyer Buck Wood, who often helps Democratic candidates, said Monday that the Green Party leaders who certify the ballot could be susceptible to criminal charges if the Supreme Court agrees with (state district judge John) Dietz that the money that got the Greens onto the ballot was an illegal corporate contribution. Or, more to the point, if they do not disagree with Dietz.

They would become vulnerable if they followed through with their plan to certify the candidates on the ballot, Wood said. The key is that they now know that it was a corporate contribution that came in from Take Initiative America, which paid for the petition drive that appeared to make the Greens eligible for the ballot.

“They’ve been told it’s illegal. They’ve got knowledge now,” Wood said. “If I were their lawyer, I’d say, ‘You go ahead and certify those names and hopefully the Travis County district attorney’s office won’t take an interest in you.’”

David Rogers, a lawyer for the Green Party, said, “With all due respect to Mr. Wood, who is a very fine election law attorney, I believe he is misreading the law in an attempt to gain an electoral advantage for the Democratic Party. He is a consultant for the Democrats in this matter, and all his comments regarding the law in this case need to be considered with that in mind. Texas allows corporate contributions for ‘normal operating expenses’ of a political party. If getting on the ballot isn’t a ‘normal’ expense of a political party, what is?”

Monday, June 28, 2010

My convention experience

I'll grade it a B minus. Here are some thoughts I jotted as the weekend went on ...

-- We arrived Friday at the Omni Bayfront at lunchtime in 3 hours and change. Google Maps had left me with the distinct impression that it was a four-hour drive from Houston. Garmin had us getting there an hour early; which I did not believe until we were nearly there. That was a nice surprise.

-- We ate lunch at a table next to David Leibowitz, whom I was meeting for the first time. Afterwards I shuttled over to the convention hall and got my two credentials but missed the one caucus I thought I could make, "Democrats Against the Death Penalty". I heard that it was as good as I thought it would be. Update: The Texas Moratorium Network has an excellent post about the caucus, including video of death row survivor Juan Melendez and a photo slideshow of convention activities.

I had short and sweet visits with Garnet Coleman at the lobby elevators and Richard Raymond at the convention hall, Dinah Weems (wife of Jeff) at his booth, BAR and Katie Floyd as I picked up my creds, and Borris Miles at my senate district caucus.

-- Speaking of that, the SD-17 caucus was contentious; it was a face-off between Harris county and the others (Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Jefferson). The others mostly got their people elected while the Harris county contingent got mostly shut out. There needs to be some intra-party fence mending by my two SDEC committee members Alan Blakley and Carol Wright. We ran right up to and slightly past the 5:00 deadline so I barely had time to change my shirt and catch the shuttle back to the American Bank Center for the opening session at 6 pm.

This is my only serious down-rating for the weekend (though you may remember that I also complained about the media accommodations) : the shuttle buses running between the convention hotels and the convention center weren't a good situation. I boarded the bus at 5:45 but didn't arrive at the ABC until 6:20. It's about six blocks between the Omni Bayfront and the ABC, but the bus runs in the opposite direction and makes two stops. I walked the rest of the time, yes in the blazing humid heat. It was worth the sweating.

This was also, as you might imagine, a tremendous burden on the not-quite-so-ambulatory delegates; the long queues, the slow boarding, and the climate conditions made it tough on everyone but especially those with canes and walkers, in wheelchairs and scooters, and on oxygen. It pointed out to me that Corpus wasn't well-equipped to handle a convention of our size, even as downsized as we were this year.

-- The highlight of the evening session was, of course, Bill White using Rick Perry as a pinata. The convention ran so smoothly that he got onstage 45 minutes early, and we were done before 7:30. So we went to dinner at Blackbeard's (the one on the beach) at 8:30 with Tom and Sylvia Gederberg -- the shrimp and oysters were scrumptious -- and then the Blogger's Caucus around 10:30 until almost 1 am.

-- I slept a little late and dawdled around getting back for the Saturday session which started at 11 am, and when I finally got there at 12:30 pm after the magnificent lunch buffet at the Omni, I had missed Linda Chavez-Thompson's speech and the chair's election. The vote totals were announced a few minutes after I sat down in the SD-17 section, with Boyd Richie of course elected to another term. Then the remaining statewides had their turn on stage: Barbara Radnofsky, Jeff Weems, and Hector Uribe. Senfronia Thompson spoke for Hank Gilbert, who was lost his mother the day before the convention opened and wasn't able to attend. There were the various Democratic legislative delegations appearing as a group onstage: the statehouse reps, the state senators, and the Congressional delegation. Back to business after that and the previously reported Texas Two-Step unpleasantries. Then the judicials spoke: Jim Sharp, Bill Moody, Blake Bailey, and Keith Hampton. Having ground enough sausage for one day, I blew out around 4 pm as the resolution, platform, and other committees were beginning to report.

-- Saturday dinner was at Landry's by the bay -- a magnificent meal as always from one of Tilman's places -- and after ordering dessert we joined Stan and Julie Merriman, Amy Manuel, JR Behrman, the Gederbergs and David and Rachel Van Os, who had come in about an hour behind us. The conversation was lively.

-- Sunday we slept a little late and had breakfast at 10:30, visiting with Bob Slagle (he's fit as a fiddle, by the way, unlike two years ago) and Gene Green and Behrman again. Then it was off to the USS Lexington for a couple of hours touring the magnificent old aircraft carrier, then home via Port Aransas and Port Lavaca.

A great meeting of Democratic minds, united for a common purpose, in a relaxing coastal setting. Hard to beat this past weekend.

The post-convention Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still a little sunburned and hung over from Corpus Christi's state convention this past weekend, but is fired up and ready to go with its post-convention blog roundup.

Neil at Texas Liberal offered up four reasons Bill White will beat Rick Perry and, in so doing, become the next governor of Texas.

John at Bay Area Houston says: Before you run for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party, get a clue.

As people across the nation react to GASLAND now showing on HBO, TXsharon @ Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS reminds us that the FRAC Act, Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009, has no Texas co-sponsor.

Musings has a bloggers roundup from the convention.

It's redistricting season again, and Off the Kuff comments on a report from a public hearing on redistricting in San Antonio.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme had a good time at the convention. Corpus Christi was beautiful and the facilities for the convention were great -- except for the lack of food. Too bad the local paper and their political reporter suck.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw asks what will the GOP do about the energy legislation? Check out Texas GOP and its Blind Obedience to BP.

WhosPlayin reports that the city of Farmers Branch would like to add 200 feet to the height of its municipal landfill, which is actually located in America's 10th fastest growing city --Lewisville, Texas.

Robert Byrd 1917-2010 and Dolph Briscoe 1923-2010

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing, died Monday. He was 92.

Byrd was first elected to the Senate the year I was born, 1958.

In comportment and style, Byrd often seemed a Senate throwback to a courtlier 19th century. He could recite poetry, quote the Bible, discuss the Constitutional Convention and detail the Peloponnesian Wars — and frequently did in Senate debates.

Yet there was nothing particularly courtly about Byrd's pursuit or exercise of power.
Byrd was a master of the Senate's bewildering rules and longtime chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which controls a third of the $3 trillion federal budget. He was willing to use both to reward friends and punish those he viewed as having slighted him.

"Bob is a living encyclopedia, and legislative graveyards are filled with the bones of those who underestimated him," former House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, once said in remarks Byrd later displayed in his office.

Byrd had been a member of the KKK in his early years, and it was a Klucker that first suggested he run for political office.

Byrd's accomplishments followed a childhood of poverty in West Virginia, and his success on the national stage came despite a complicated history on racial matters. As a young man, we was a member of the Ku Klux Klan for a brief period, and he joined Southern Democrats in an unsuccessful filibuster against the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.

He later apologized for both actions, saying intolerance has no place in America. While supporting later civil rights bills, he opposed busing to integrate schools. 

More here, here, and here. He was a titan of the Senate, and his passing leaves a chasm as great as Kennedy's.


Dolph Briscoe Jr., 87, a rancher, banker and businessman from the Texas Brush Country whose promise to restore integrity to a scandal-plagued state government propelled him into the Governor's Mansion in 1973, died Sunday at the family home in Uvalde.

Briscoe was governor precisely during the period of time I was in high school and then college.

The first Texas governor to serve a four-year term, he was re-elected in 1974 and then lost to Attorney General John Hill in the 1978 Democratic primary. In a stunning upset, Hill lost in the general election to Bill Clements, the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Clements won, in part, because conservative Democrats were unhappy over Briscoe's loss and failed to support Hill.

*sigh* Some things just never change, do they?

Running as an outsider and challenging the stewardship of incumbent officeholders, he defeated Gov. Preston Smith and Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes. In the general election, he beat Republican state Sen. Henry "Hank" Grover and Ramsey Muniz, the candidate of the La Raza Unida Party.

Then again ... how different do you think things would be in Texas if there were still an active La Raza Unida Party?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prima-caucus lives, and the potential fallout

Executive summary first from the R.G. :

Tempers flared today as delegates to the Texas Democratic Convention accused each other of racism and ignoring the needs of the infirm, elderly and soldiers overseas.

But in end they overwhelmingly voted 5,602-1,930 to keep the controversial Texas "Two-Step" system of allocating presidential nominating convention delegates through a hybrid of a primary and election-night caucuses.

Some portrayed the fight as the continuation of the 2008 battle between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. But others said problems in that election showed the shortcomings of the system.

Many Democrats were angered in 2008 because Clinton won the most votes in the primary but Obama out-maneuvered her in the caucuses to win the most nominating delegates: 95-91.

After hours of debate in the convention rules committee and another hour of heated discussion on the Democratic convention floor, the delegates voted to retain the hybrid system rather than go to a system of allocating all presidential nominating delegates based solely on the primary vote.

This is solid as to the synopsis and conclusion, so I'll just fill in some of the on-the-convention-floor color.

Royce West, the state senator from Dallas, was first to speak from the floor during the discussion and almost immediately played the race card, suggesting that eliminating the caucus would "disenfranchise" some activist African-Americans whose communities conduct politics as close-knit, neighborhood affairs.

Some speakers after West picked up the gauntlet, suggesting that shift workers, the disabled, seniors and soldiers serving overseas were in fact the ones being disenfranchised by their inability to participate in the election-day-evening precinct conventions.  And some called bullshit on that. From the Texas Tribune's live-blog (2:29 pm entry):

Leroy Warren Jr., a Democrat from Collin County, got fired up at the mic. He wants to keep the two-step primary election process that allowed Barack Obama to get more delegates to the Democratic National Committee even though Hillary Clinton won the popular primary vote. He says others are using the veil of protecting minorities to try to change a system that allowed the black candidate to win election.

"These shenanigans ought to stop right now, and they ought to take that minority report and go trash it." ... 

A couple more Af-Am delegates followed, echoing and amplifying West's 'disenfranchised' comments. And some others rebutted. It was uncomfortable and unpleasant, to say the least.

I would like to respectfully point out that "disenfranchisement" as defined here is entirely the wrong word to use to describe the caucus participation/effect:

disenfranchise - : to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially : to deprive of the right to vote

Nobody is being deprived of their right to vote either by keeping or deleting the caucus portion of the delegate allocation. No one.

The caucus rewards those activists who take responsibility to get off their couch and go participate with their neighbors in the political welfare and future of their 'hood, their state, their nation. It doesn't penalize anybody. It's a valuable component of our democracy, IMHO.

(As Ratcliffe noted above, the caucus itself was not being ended by the proposed changes in the rules committee's minority report; only the math would change. But the math would disembowel the caucus' effect on delegate count; some consequently argued that was a distinction without a difference.)

So despite being a big fan of the prima-caucus -- and voting in favor of it -- what bothered me the most was the misunderstandings associated with the question and the divisions it opened.

I believe that Boyd Richie -- and by proxy, Bill White -- must mend fences with those who favored change (again, in the form of eliminating the mathematical emphasis given to the caucus results) and who lost that battle decisively. Indeed those appear to be RGV Latinos who preferred Clinton in 2008, and are being heavily relied upon to carry Texas Democrats up and down the ballot to victory in November. That same percentage of people (see the 12:24 pm TexTrib live-blog entry) supported Richie's challenger, Mike Barnes, and the endorsement Barnes received yesterday was from the Hispanic caucus ... a significant sign of weakness for Richie, despite the efforts of Democratic establishment Hispanics to downplay it.

I think there will be more unity demonstrated  coming out of Corpus if only because of political necessity.  But if I'm wrong, this could be the harbinger of doom. Latinos aren't going to vote Republican because of stuff like this but they may stay home on Election Day, and they have historically done far too much of that as it is.

See The Texas Blue for another take.

Corpus update (and some Funnies)

Recovering this morning from last night's blogger caucus, which always seems to be the best party in town.

The Texas Tribune has a good live blog, although their last entry at this posting is from yesterday afternoon at 3:18, and features the pathetic Mark Miner and his generator again. This guy is a masochist.

Update: They're up-to-date, with lots of video. Go look.

They also have the sad news about "Sputnik". If you don't know about him then you missed knowing one of the most colorful characters in the entire state of Texas. I observed Austin lawmakers nervously shaking in his presence.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times has the best coverage of yesterday's events, including photos.

White launched a series of attacks on his Republican opponent ending each point with the refrain “Part-time Perry is in it for himself.”

The former Houston mayor accused Perry of working on state business only seven hours a week, spending $10,000 a month on a rented mansion as the state faces an $18 billion budget crisis and accepting federal stimulus money and using it as a source of state funding.

The media room is too small to accommodate the number of both corporate and alternative media, and blogger row on the convention floor got ten seats instead of the thirty requested, I suppose due to space constraints since we've always had plenty of room in conventions past. So I'll be mostly with my senate district delegation and posting wrap-ups and links like this after the day's events (and dinner and drinks and so on).

TrailBlazers has a few updates on the sidebar issues: the prima-caucus battle, Boyd Richie challenger Michael Barnes' big endorsement, Barbara Radnoksky's SueWallStreet.com gauntlet thrown down to Greg Abbott (he's ignoring the issue and attacking her), and etc.

More later, probably tomorrow. You did recognize the Texas GOP in the cartoons, didn't you?

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Back to Basics" on the air

... in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. This ad really keeps the pressure on Perry, underscoring his extravagant lifestyle at the expense of Texas taxpayers.

With the poll earlier this week showing the race tied, the nominee's keynote at the convention tonight drawing additional media coverage, the Clinton endorsement and now this devastating spot, the White campaign is rolling.

Next report will be from Corpus.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sybil Gilbert 1929-2010

Deepest condolences to Hank Gilbert on the passing of his mother. Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report with the sad news:

Folks who have been to previous state Democratic conventions know that Agriculture Commissioner candidate Hank Gilbert can deliver a stemwinder of a speech.

Unfortunately, delegates congregating in Corpus Christi this weekend will not be able to hear from him this time.

Gilbert’s 81-year old mother Sybil passed away today. The family has set the funeral for Saturday in Kilgore. There is simply no way for Gilbert to make it from Kilgore to Corpus in time.

The details of the visitation and funeral can be found here.

Perry's former chief of staff coordinated Greens' ballot petition drive *update*

The Perry campaign has lied their asses off about their involvement. LSP:

Earlier today, a key witness testified under oath that a top member of Rick Perry’s inner circle paid him about $12,000 to convince Green Party of Texas leaders to participate in an elaborate ballot petition scam. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, June 24, 2010)

Mike Toomey, the former chief of staff for the governor, paid Garrett Mize, a 22-year-old University of Texas student, from his personal checking account to present a formal proposal to Green Party leaders. The proposal suggests using out-of-state funds to gather signatures needed to field candidates in the upcoming Texas election. The memo notes that, “many of the donors will be people that simply do not want to see the Democratic Party win.” The proposal by Mize can be seen here.

Toomey’s direct involvement elevates the matter to a level of wrongdoing not seen since the Sharpstown scandal of the 1970s. Mike Toomey is a member of Perry’s inner circle and described as “close friends” (Source: Texas Monthly, February 2005). It is irrational to believe that Toomey would have made such an elaborate -- and likely illegal -- effort to field Green Party candidates without the knowledge and approval of the governor. 

The morning testimony left it unclear what happened after the original plan proposed by Mize fell apart. A second plan was formulated just two weeks before the deadline to turn in ballot petitions. This second plan funneled $532,500 in corporate money to pay for the effort to gather signatures for the Green Party in order to qualify candidates for the Texas ballot. Documents and testimony in the coming days should reveal whether Toomey masterminded this plan as well. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, June 24, 2010)

Their hands are as dirty as we thought.

This would not be the first time Mike Toomey has used secret corporate donations to illegally help elect Republicans in Texas. Toomey was implicated in the TRMPAC scandal and the Texas Association of Business lawsuit after the 2002 elections. The TRMPAC “indictments …noted that TAB board members Mike Toomey and Eric Glenn, both lobbyists, played prominent roles in soliciting money.” (Austin American-Statesman, September 8, 2005)

And a bit more from Postcards (the Statesman):

Mize was approached to run the effort by a family friend, Stuart Moss, who at the time worked for a Republican political consulting and public relations firm run by former Perry communications director Eric Bearse. Bearse said Moss no longer works for him.

Mize quit the effort in April after he grew uncomfortable that Republican interests were driving the initiative and not informing the Green Party.

“Do you know what a Trojan horse is?” questioned state District Judge John Dietz. “Were you a Trojan horse?”

Wow, the Republicans are crooked. Imagine that.

But the revelation here is that should the Greens proceed with this tainted ballot bid, the TDP will sue the living daylights out of them. And the Greens will lose.

The best thing they can do now is withdraw their petition. And really, that is a damn shame. And not just for them.

I think -- unlike the brain trust at the TDP -- that the Greens on the ballot would be a good thing; it would force Richie, Angle, et.al. to stop taking the progressive base of the Democratic Party for granted. If they were honestly threatened with losing a few percentage points because they are too conservative, then they could either adapt to the new world or get used to minority status for a generation or more.

The key word there being 'honestly', of course.

Update: TRO granted.

A state judge on Thursday granted the Democratic Party a temporary restraining order to block Green Party candidates from being certified for the November ballot.

Democrats contended that a petition drive to put Green candidates on the ballot actually was an effort to help GOP Gov. Rick Perry by diverting votes from his Democratic challenger, former Houston Mayor Bill White.

State District Judge John Dietz ruled that the effort was “an unauthorized, illegal contribution.”

Lawyers for the Green Party said they plan to appeal.

Meet the Democratic Statewides: Bill White

This series on the Texas Democratic Party's slate of statewide candidates concludes today with the bio and introductory video of the 2010 standard-bearer, nominee for Texas Governor Bill White.

White's parents were schoolteachers, which is likely why this campaign piece focuses on education.

There are many, many ways that Bill White and Rick Perry are different, but perhaps the most critical contrast is their approach to public education. Rick Perry steadfastly refuses to accept even the most obvious facts about the dropout crisis to our public schools. Bill White has made finding solutions to the state’s dropout crisis a central pledge of his campaign, because -- like business leaders, educators, and parents across the state -- he understands our state’s future depends on the kids we’re educating today.

The Texas Association of Business, in a recent report, stated: “Our state faces a true Texas-sized crisis… that will destroy our good business climate, prosperity and growth if it goes ignored.” As the report points out, there are only seven states in the country that have done a worse job than Texas in developing a well-educated young workforce. Only 30.7% of adults in Texas have an associate degree or higher.

A critical reason for Texas falling behind in education is the state’s dropout crisis, a crisis Rick Perry has offered little to no solutions for in his ten years as governor. In fact, Perry can’t even get the numbers right. He and his campaign team have continued to state that Texas’ drop-out rate is only ten percent. (Source: Houston Chronicle). Perry also ignores a report that the National Governors Association put out, stating that, as reported by the Dallas Morning News, “206 Texas high schools were dropout factories -- where at least 40 percent of ninth-graders failed to reach the 12th grade.” (Source: Dallas Morning News). Perry’s negligence on the dropout crisis is one major example of how he is not looking out for the future of our state.

While Rick Perry tries to hide from the dropout crisis, Bill White has a record of results. As mayor of Houston, White launched the Expectation Graduation program to help cut the dropout rate. Mayor White and his wife, Andrea, led volunteers to go directly to the homes of high school students who didn’t return. (Source: City of Houston). Their efforts led to approximately 8,800 students returning to school as a result, according to material posted on Bill White’s website.

White helped build a law firm, managed a successful business, and served as Deputy Secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy during the Clinton administration before being elected Houston’s mayor in 2003. During his time as mayor the Houston area was a national leader in job growth, with more jobs added than 37 states combined. At the same time, White cut property tax rates five consecutive years and helped senior and disabled citizens with tax relief.

White is best known for his leadership and decisive actions in crisis.  After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, White mobilized effective disaster response and relief, including first responders, businesses and churches. The city of Houston absorbed well over 100,000 Louisiana evacuees, finding shelter and then permanent housing for them. The experiences of Katrina prepared the city for the full blow of Hurricane Ike in 2008, and once again the city's services responded well at a time of severe emergency, as much of the region was without electricity for weeks afterward. For his compassionate, hands-on leadership after Katrina, White received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2007.

Texas is desperate for a leader who will stand up and fight for the future of Texans, be they a high school child at risk of dropping out, a displaced hurricane evacuee, or the hard working middle-class families across the state. We know who Rick Perry stands with: the wealthiest and the most privileged. Texans deserves much, much better than that.

Watch for occasional missives from Corpus this weekend, as I carry dual credentials again this cycle, delegate and media. My friend Neil at Texas Liberal offers four reasons why White will defeat Perry and capture the governorship.

Whither the Astrodome? Survey says YES

I'm remiss about keeping up to date on what's been going on with the Astrodome's future, so if you want or need backstory the Houston Press seemed to have the best description of the three plans proposed to either renovate or demolish it. They -- and some of their reader comments -- were critical, but nothing like what I read in the daily paper of record as regards feedback from the residents of Harris County, who'll foot the bill however it goes.

Now there's a lesson here for everyone: if all you ever hear is the Tea Party types screaming "NO" to everything, then you might think theirs is a majority opinion.

Once again, it is not. And the Chron.com comments attached to this latest news about the Dome is another example of that forum's failing to represent anything other than the Teabagger POV. Read the story, then read the comments.

Respondents to an online survey run by Reliant Park's landlord "overwhelmingly" support saving the Astrodome, according to the official in charge of the survey.

Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation, declined to release a detailed breakdown of the 5,800 votes that have been cast for one of three options for Reliant Park's future. He said only that the combined votes for the two options that include renovations for the Astrodome outnumber those in favor of razing it.

The results, he said, "overwhelmingly show a desire to maintain the building." Loston said the results will help shape a recommendation to Commissioners Court, which controls the fate of Reliant Park.

Now I'm delighted that my opinion turns out to be the "overwhelming" majority one, because I thought ... you know ... that it might not be. Well, not only was I wrong about being right, but I observe that the apoplexy reflected in the poll's results by some of those commenters is nothing but the usual lack of understanding that anyone could POSSIBLY think something different than them. Sad to say, even a few of the now-expected Obama Derangement Syndromers ranting (as if the President or his political party have ANYTHING to do with decisions about the Astrodome) no longer surprises.

That is as fine an example of profound ignorance as one could ever hope to see. But back to the topic.

Commissioners: Disregard the screeching naysayers who only wail about the cost of EVERYTHING. And while you're at it, summon the intestinal fortitude to make the Astrodome a Wonder Again for future generations of Houstonians.

Lord have mercy, we need to find some brave politicians somewhere.

Meet the Democratic Statewides: Uribe, Bailey, Hampton

As the state convention opens today in Corpus, this series on the Texas Democratic Party's slate of statewide candidates continues with the bios and introductory videos of the candidates for Commissioner of the General Land Office Hector Uribe, and the nominees for state Supreme Court Blake Bailey and Court of Criminal Appeals Keith Hampton.

Uribe's goal is to lead the GLO from 20th century hydrocarbon-based energy sources to 21st century renewable ones. Uribe will vigorously battle global warming by promoting renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, while preventing any negative impact to the revenue streams that flow into the Permanent School Fund.

Uribe has extensive experience in legislative and governmental advocacy, having served almost a decade in the Texas Senate and 3 years in the Texas House. Equal educational opportunity, economic development, and job creation were the hallmarks of Uribe’s tenure as a state senator.

He authored the bill to merge Pan American University into the UT System (it's now called UT-Kingsville), providing graduate programs to previously underserved college students in the Rio Grande Valley. He similarly authored the Texas Enterprise Zone Act, designed to create new businesses and jobs in economically depressed areas. His varied legislative committee assignments prepared him in a broad range of areas including the protection of our environment. He chaired the Senate’s standing subcommittee on Water and vice-chaired the joint subcommittee on Oil Spills and Water Pollution Abatement.

But again, the most significant differences come when you compare him to his opponent, incumbent Jerry Patterson. Look:

The Christmas Mountains, in the heart of the Big Bend region of Texas, were given to the state in 1991.  They should have been transferred to the National Park Service (NPS) and been made part of Big Bend National Park a long time ago.  However, Republican Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has prevented that from happening, insisting that he wants to sell the Mountains to a private entity.

The foundation that gave the land to Texas wanted the Christmas Mountains to remain public.  Patterson refused to transfer the Mountains to the NPS because he claimed to take issue with any entity that disallows firearms – but in reality, Patterson is just an ineffective steward of Texas’ public lands who is more interested in selling Texas off than preserving it. [Source: NPR, 10/22/07]

Congress lifted the ban on firearms in National Parks and President Obama signed the bill into law earlier this year.  Because Patterson claimed his refusal to transfer the Mountains stemmed from the NPS ban on firearms, the hope was that he would finally transfer the Mountains to the National Park Service.  However, instead of sticking to what he said, Patterson just moved the goal posts.  He now says his problem is that hunting would not be allowed in the Mountains under Park Service control. [Source: Washington Post, 2/19/10; San Antonio Express-News, 4/9/10]

If the ban on hunting in national parks were lifted, would Patterson finally drop the act and transfer the Mountains, or just come up with another excuse?

With Hector Uribe, there are no questions about integrity.  On Hector’s first day as Land Commissioner, he will transfer the Christmas Mountains to the National Park Service, so that they can be cared for responsibly and enjoyed by Texans for generations to come.

Uribe’s focus will be on protecting Texas’ rich and wild environment.  He will be a responsible steward of our vast public lands -- not an ideologue who keeps moving the goal posts however it suits him.

Bailey's pet peeve is the same as mine: the 100% Republican Texas Supreme Court is completely biased against little-guy plaintiffs and in favor of the biggest corporations.

In a recent, Blake Bailey pointed out that Wal-Mart is far more successful appealing lawsuits in Texas than anywhere else in the country. From 1998 to 2005, Wal-Mart has won 100% of the appeals brought against them in Texas; outside of Texas, Wal-Mart has only won 56% of their appeals.

That statistic is the most staggering of a long trend facing the Texas Supreme Court: they have a controversial history of supporting big business in their rulings. From 2005-2006, eighty-two percent of all rulings went in favor of defendants. The rulings themselves wouldn’t be as much of an issue, if it weren’t for the contributions that came along with them.

From 2000-2008, the more money donated to Texas’ Supreme Court justices, the higher the chance of success. A study conducted by the non-partisan consumer advocacy group, Texas Watch, showed that the success rate among donors who gave to the justices on the Supreme Court increased based on how much the donors gave. Here’s a breakdown of their findings:
  • 345 donors who had cases before the court gave less than $10,000. They had a success rate – a favorable court ruling – of 54%.
  • 44 donors who had cases before the court gave between $10,000 and $24,999. Those 44 donors had a 58% success rate on their cases.
  • 48 donors who had cases before the court gave more than $25,000. Those 48 donors had a whopping 64% success rate on their cases.
Justice should not be for sale, regardless of price or party. It is offensive to think that giving more money to the Texas Supreme Court justices will correlate with a higher success rate in the Court – but the findings detailed above demonstrate it to be true.

Bailey's opponent is recently-appointed Justice Eva Guzman... another of Rick Perry's ham-handed attempts at Hispanic outreach. Guzman has accepted large contributions from insurers and bragged on her website about how judicial "reform" has improved the business climate in Texas. Attorneys representing the state's largest insurance companies have even told Bailey point-blank that they were unconcerned about the verdict in a jury trial against his clients, because an appeal to the SCOTX virtually assured them of victory.

This "Supreme Court For Sale to Big Business" aspect is one of the most important things we can change in November.

Hampton is running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6. He is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Michael Keasler. When first elected in 1998, Keasler replaced the last Democrat to hold a seat on the Court. Since then the CCA has been under complete Republican control. Sound familiar?

Without any Democrats on the CCA for the past twelve years, the ideological spectrum of the Court has shifted dramatically to the right. One Republican judge on the Court, Lawrence Meyers, recently toured newspaper editorial boards promoting the state’s fairness, prompting Dallas Morning News Editor Michael Landauer to write, “Try not to laugh.” (Source: Dallas Morning News, June 2009). Scott Henson, an award-winning blogger who writes for the non-partisan criminal justice site Grits for Breakfast, wrote the following about the political nature of the CCA:

There is no liberal wing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There’s a conservative wing, to which Judge Johnson belongs, and a more or less totalitarian wing, in which Keasler and Meyers reside along with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. (Source: Grits for Breakfast, June 2009)

The “totalitarian wing” of the Court has a well-documented and thoroughly perplexing history of unprofessional actions. From the “sleeping lawyer” case in October 2000, to investigations into the judicial conduct of Sharon Keller in 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is in desperate need of professional, accountable judges on its bench.

In order to restore a semblance of fairness and justice to the Court, Texas Democrats can help elect Keith Hampton to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6.

Later today: Bill White.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Greens ballot bid was GOP corporate-funded

Let's leave it to one of the Greens' highest-ranking officers to deliver the news.

In a June 10 e-mail to other Green Party officials, state party treasurer David Wager said, “I was promised by a representative of Take Initiative America that the organization was not a corporation and that he would comply with all disclosure requests. Today I was informed that the organization is in fact a corporation and they will not disclose their donors. They claim that their collection of signatures and in-kind contribution was not political. I don’t agree. In my opinion, we have no choice but to refuse the signatures.”

Now that e-mail is nearly two weeks old, and the Greens have been a little defiant since then, hiring Republican attorney Andy Taylor to defend their bid to to gain 2010 ballot access. So who's to say if this means they're going to keep fighting in the courts. My guess is yes. There's a hearing on Friday.

Hat tip to Phillip Martin at BOR.


After listening to Keith Olbermann and Lawrence Wilkinson last night advocate for McChrystal remaining in his post, I determined that would be both the shrewdest course of action and something Obama would not do. And sure enough ...

President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, moving quickly to restore the unity of his administration's war effort after the general and his top aides in biting remarks in an explosive magazine article.

Obama named Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and currently the head of the U.S. Central Command, to replace McChrystal and urged the Senate to confirm him promptly.

But Obama reaffirmed in blunt terms the counterinsurgency strategy he ordered last year, and he said that "war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president."

This move actually makes slightly more sense, blunting conservative criticism by tapping their Iraq hero for the job. As Laurence Lewis posted:

Conservative critics of President Obama long have derided him as weak. Intellectual, reserved, unemotional. When the BP oil gusher exploded, they criticized him for not taking aggressive enough action. Despite otherwise being critics of federal government. And then when he took decisive action by shutting down deepwater drilling and forcing BP to set aside $20 billion as a beginning of their debt repayment, they criticized him for overreaching and being a thug.

With the removal of General Stanley McChrystal from command of Afghan military operations, you can be certain that we will hear more right wing criticism. No matter what the President does, the right will criticize him. But those like McChrystal and his supporters who might have thought the President was weak now have their answer. He's the Commander-in-Chief, in a government that has civilian rule over the military. There is a chain of command. He knows it, and they that dared flout it now know it.

Let the critics come. Who looks weak now?

And of course this change maintains continuity of command and the strategy in Afghanistan and all that blahblahblah. July 2011 remains the withdrawal start date, and frankly it can't come soon enough.

Now back to the Gulf oil catastrophe, the economy, the multiple reform legislation battles ...

Meet the Democratic Statewides: Chavez-Thompson, Moody, Weems

With the Texas Democratic Party opening their state convention in Corpus Christi tomorrow, let's take a look at the introductory videos of the candidates for lieutenant governor, state Supreme Court, and railroad commissioner: Linda Chavez-Thompson, Bill Moody, and Jeff Weems.

Chavez-Thompson's life story is compelling, and offers the starkest contrast imaginable between the GOP and the Dems at the statewide level. From the TDP's candidate piece:

As a child, Linda Chavez-Thompson picked cotton to support her family and couldn’t afford to finish her education. Through years of hard work, Linda rose to national prominence as a leader for working families, and today, she is running for Lieutenant Governor to make sure every Texas child has the opportunities that weren’t available to her.

Linda Chavez-Thompson may be an underdog running against a millionaire, but unlike David Dewhurst and the Republicans, Linda knows we can’t afford to write off a generation of Texas children who must be prepared for good jobs in the new economy.

Just last year, David Dewhurst showed he was willing to write off thousands of Texans by applying a different standard to us than he applies to himself. During the debate on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Dewhurst demanded that working families re-enroll for CHIP coverage every six months instead of annually, saying he doesn’t think people “have a lot of sympathy for someone that can’t fill out a two-page application every six months.” Yet when it came to his own business dealings, Dewhurst failed to file legal forms in a timely fashion six times -- forms required to conduct his business legally in Texas.

After twelve years in statewide office, David Dewhurst may think he is entitled to special treatment, but Texans have had their fill of hypocritical politicians who use their offices for career advancement while ignoring the everyday concerns of Texas families.

Moody collected more votes than any other Democrat in 2006, narrowly losing his contest against Republican Paul Green -- who has turned in a record of near-invisibility since. From Moody's TDP candidate piece:

Judge Bill Moody is running for Texas Supreme Court, Place 5. Judge Moody was one of our most successful statewide candidates in 2006, earning more votes than any other Democrat on the ballot. In the twenty-three years he has worked as a judge, he has tried over five hundred jury trials. Over his long and distinguished career, he has earned a reputation for hard work and a commitment to ensuring justice in Texas’ courts.

The same cannot be said for his opponent, Justice Paul Green. First elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 2004, Green’s absence from the opinion-making process is a perfect example for why we need fresh ideas and committed public servants on Texas’ highest court.

Of 144 rulings issued in fiscal year 2007, Justice Green issued an opinion in only four cases. That’s right -- Paul Green issued a ruling in less than 3% of cases in which the Texas Supreme Court took action, the fewest of any Justice on the Court. (Source: San Antonio Express-News)

Green is the symptom of a much larger problem. An analysis by Texas Watch in February 2008 showed that it took the Texas Supreme Court an average of 852 days to dispose of a case -- approximately 2.3 years. Even after oral arguments were finished, it would take the Justices on the Court over a year to write an opinion on the case they heard. (Source: Texas Watch)  As Texas Watch argued in their report:

Cases in which a consumer has won at the lower appellate level comprise the majority of cases the Court accepts for review. By keeping these cases on hold for inordinate amounts of time, the Court makes it more likely that injured patients will go without recompense for lost wages and medical expenses, individuals will be forced to declare bankruptcy, and matters involving children are delayed.

The snail’s pace of Paul Green and the entirely Republican Texas Supreme Court is harmful to Texans looking to get their fair day in court. Yet while Green has shown little concern for swift justice, he has been expedient in charging Texas taxpayers for his travel expenses.

Over the course of three years, Justice Green filed for mileage reimbursements for 272 separate trips between Austin, where he lives in an Austin apartment, and San Antonio, his home town. The 272 trips totaled over $16,000 in travel expenses.  (Source: The Houston Chronicle)

This November, Texans will have a chance to change the Texas Supreme Court. The contrast between Bill Moody’s extensive experience and Green’s slow-paced and controversial behavior on the bench could not be any clearer. Texans who believe hard work and fairness should be the hallmark of a Texas Supreme Court justice should support Moody this November.

Weems, like many of the other Democrats on the statewide slate, has experience that dwarfs his opponent's. You may recall that TeaBagger David Porter edged incumbent GOP Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo in a bitter primary last spring where Carillo suggested that his Hispanic surname was a liability in the Republican party. From Weems' TDP candidate piece:

Jeff Weems brings a lifetime’s worth of firsthand experience to the Texas Railroad Commission. Republican candidate David Porter, on the other hand, is completely unqualified.

The Amarillo Globe-News called Jeff Weems’ credentials “superior.” [Source: Amarillo-Globe News, 4/11/10]  Weems is an oil and gas attorney by trade, and has worked in the oil and gas industry since high school. He worked his way through college on the rigs and as a drilling mud representative. Jeff earned a degree from the University of Texas in Petroleum Land Management and worked as a landman, negotiating complex commercial transactions. Since earning his law degree from UT, he has spent 20 years as an energy lawyer. ...

Republican challenger David Porter, on the other hand, has no experience for the job. He told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that his qualifications include working as an accountant and owning property that happens to have pipelines on it. [Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 2/17/10]

But even worse than his inexperience is that Porter has seemingly no understanding of the responsibilities of the Commission he is trying to lead -- and resorts to irrelevant partisan rhetoric to distract from both his inexperience and lack of knowledge.  He thinks global warming is a myth.  [Source:  Porter’s Editorial Endorsement Interview with the Dallas Morning News 2/10]  His disturbing misunderstanding of the role of Railroad Commissioner is evident from his “Why I am Running” statement on his website:

“The Obama administration cap and trade energy tax, the proposed changes in tax law such as doing away with percentage depletion…are a de facto declaration of economic war by the current administration on the Texas oil and gas industry.” [Porter campaign website]

Porter either doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, that the Texas Railroad Commission does not draft, enforce or otherwise deal with federal cap and trade legislation or tax law.

Porter’s campaign has focused on “anti-Washington, D.C., anti-Obama rhetoric” because he is frighteningly inexperienced and has nothing to run on but empty slogans.  As someone who thinks climate change is not real, Porter is unfit to effectively take care of our state’s vast energy resources.  Capitol Inside described Porter as “a candidate who had almost no money and even less name identification for a race that he’d entered 15 minutes before the filing deadline simply because no other challenger had signed up to run for the post.” [Capitol Inside, 4/16/10]

Texans deserve a Railroad Commissioner who understands the job, and Jeff Weems delivers a lifetime of experience.

Tomorrow: the two remaining judicial candidates Keith Hampton and Blake Bailey (there's already some about them at Burnt Orange), Hector Uribe, and Bill White.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal: what should be the penalty?

So should he be fired? The military details several responses for insubordination, including loss of rank.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been summoned to Washington to explain derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and his colleagues, administration officials said Tuesday.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who publicly apologized Tuesday for using "poor judgment" in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine (.pdf), has been ordered to attend the monthly White House meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in person Wednesday rather than over a secure video teleconference, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. He'll be expected to explain his comments to Obama and top Pentagon officials, these officials said.

Obama has the authority to fire McChrystal. His predecessor, Gen. David McKiernan, was sacked on grounds that the military needed "new thinking and new approaches" in Afghanistan.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen has told McChrystal of his "deep disappointment" over the article, a spokesman said.

Though McChrystal has not, as far as we know (isn't that phrase simply the most devastating, backhanded insinuation, by the way?), disobeyed a direct order -- that is both the military's as well as the corporate definition of 'insubordination' -- some punishment more severe than harsh language seems in order.

Should he just be chastised? Or relieved of command? Busted back to colonel? Placed before a firing squad? (That would be my preference, based only on past history.)

Allowed to retire in disgrace?

And in the wake of the fact that Afghanistan has now become America's longest war ever, still with no end in sight, with McChrystal's own officers questioning his strategy, is another new general going to make any difference anyway?

Are we in Afghanistan at this point so that we can mine their mineral deposits? Then let the corporations hire the mercenaries to fight there.

Update: Barbara Morrill notes that the Uniform Code of Military Justice defines insubordination as including "contemptuous words".  There's also a poll at that link that currently indicates 80% of more than 7,000 respondents think McChrystal should be cashiered (I voted 'unsure').

Update II: It's not the general; it's the war.

A war that can't be won, in support of an Afghan government that can't govern, and an Afghan military that can't fight? And the Afghan people just continue to suffer.

Meet the Democratic Statewides: Radnofsky, Gilbert, Sharp

As the 2010 Texas Democratic Party's statewide convention (.pdf) comes forward on the schedule this weekend, let's feature the videos of the statewide slate, starting with the three I know best (they were all on the 2006 ticket), Barbara Ann RadnofskyHank Gilbert, and Jim Sharp.

Barbara has kept the heat on the inept, incompetent incumbent: attorney general Greg Abbott, who needs no introduction to regular readers here. This week she has challenged him to pursue litigation against Wall Street's tycoons, who perpetuated the fraud our economy still reels from. From her Kos diary:

Wall Street firms have harmed Texas and all of America. I've proposed a State Attorney General lawsuit and to work at no fee to help solve the problem.

Our people are unemployed. Our home values have plummeted. And, our state governments are making savage cuts to our schools, our kids' healthcare and more.

These facts give states, including Texas, the right to sue Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other firms for wrongdoing.

It's time for state Attorneys General to file these law suits.

I provided Texas Attorney General Abbott the $18 billion lawsuit which should be filed on an urgent basis, ahead of the approaching deadline. The right to sue for negligence will likely expire in September 2010 (due to a 2 year legal "Limitation" period in Texas) so time is of the essence. I offered Attorney General Abbott the Complaint for the lawsuit and offered my legal services at no fee to work on the case. The Legal Complaint and Legal Memo are available at SueWallStreet.com explaining states suffering the harm have the right to go after the wrongdoers.

Hank takes on worthless hack Todd Staples, who is seemingly frantic about another challenge to his position as commissioner of agriculture. Gilbert lately exposed the incumbent for shady dealings regarding broadband internet access for rural Texans. Here's the press release from Connected Nation and Staples.

Connected Nation is well-connected, all right: to Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. The company is first in line to collect federal stimulus dollars -- $4 billion -- earmarked for the massive project of determining where broadband access will go in the hinterlands of America. Staples, on behalf of of the state of Texas, has outsourced a $3 million dollar contract to CN despite serious questions about the company's work in other states, questions about the bidding process (Staples got $60,000 from the Texas Farm Bureau, whose former president is listed as a 'national advisor' of CN), and even questions about CN's business model. Read more about that here, and also at the Wall Street Journal. And when Staples's office started getting media attention about his relationship with CN, the Texas Department of Agriculture directed reporters to the Staples re-election campaign, which then regurgitated their previous negative attacks on Gilbert.

Jim Sharp is the Democratic candidate for the Texas Supreme Court Place 3, running against Republican nominee and freshly-appointed Debra Lehrmann, yet another Rick Perry lackey. Sharp was elected Justice of the Texas First Court of Appeals in 2008, and as such is one of the few Democrats serving a multi-county portion of the state in any capacity. Read more about Sharp at Texas Lawyer, Off the Kuff, and Half Empty.

Tomorrow this space will feature Linda Chavez-Thompson, Bill Moody, and Jeff Weems.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Is Kesha Rogers the Texas version of Alvin Greene?

TIME thinks so.

South Carolina's unexpected Democratic nominee for the US Senate, mystery man Alvin Greene, says he wants to play golf with Barack Obama. But in Texas, another surprise Democratic primary winner, congressional nominee Kesha Rogers, wants to impeach the President. So while South Carolina party officials are still unsure of what to do about Greene's success at the ballot box, Texas Democrats have no such reservations — they wasted little time in casting Rogers into exile and offering no support or recognition of her campaign to win what once was Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay's old seat.

Several of my blog hermanos y hermanas cast aspersions on Rogers' nomination, you may recall.

Unlike South Carolina's Greene, Rogers ran a high profile campaign, staking out a corner on a major intersection in the district to appear almost daily with a large sign: "Save NASA. Impeach Obama." She garnered 7,467 votes, 53% of the vote, in a three way race that included a local information systems analyst Doug Blatt, who gained endorsements from local Democratic clubs and labor groups, and Freddie John Weider Jr., a preacher and onetime Libertarian candidate; Blatt came in second with 28% of the vote and Weider won 20%. "The people of the 22nd district voted for me," she said. "They recognized the party is not acting in the interests of the people."

Her name was also -- like Greene's -- first on the ballot, and as wingnut blogger Greg points out, it could have been her name, or maybe it was the media's fault. Continuing from TIME ...

Meanwhile, the state party has adopted a resolution denying any party support for Rogers, citing the alleged racist and discriminatory views of the LaRouche movement — allegations that Rogers, who is African-American, firmly rejects. District 22 has also been stricken from the party's official online list of congressional races. ...

One theory, according to a Democratic Party insider, is Rogers benefitted from her name being in the top position on the Fort Bend County ballot, where African-American Democratic interest was high in two local races. But Rogers rejects that notion. "I went to senior citizens centers. I was knocking on doors everywhere — everyone knew my positions, " she told TIME. "I don't think the Democratic Party leadership is getting it. The people continue to see more and more economic devastation and they don't see any real leadership." And for now, the party leadership will pretend that it can't see Rogers. 

Lastly, Open Source Dem weighs in with this opinion:

Both the GOP and even the LaRouche organization have “dirty tricks machines”, parodies actually of psychological warfare and disinformation operations by military and military intelligence organizations.

The GOP thinks they are waging “politics as war” (Gingrich); the LaRouche outfit is waging “permanent revolution” (Trotsky).  It is not funny: Real people get hurt and the media returns are huge from relatively little outlay of funds.

Frankly, I am tired of Democrats whining about this.

These folks have 'declared war' but cringing liberals are just running around in circles wringing their hands and moaning “won’t anybody think about the children!”  The Democratic Party establishment is supporting the candidacy of LaRouche associate Kesha Rogers and remains “inclusive” of the LaRouche movement. Anything else is, evidently, an challenge to the legal imagination and vanity of Boyd Richie and Gerry Birnberg. (ed. note: though the Senate District Executive Committee of the Texas Democratic Party -- led by Richie -- has passed a resolution denying support to Rogers, Harris County Chair Birnberg favors her candidacy, as noted here.)

The Democratic Party establishment is also trying to deny ballot access to the Green Party based on a campaign finance -- or ethical -- argument against the Green Party, not the GOP operatives nor the source of funding for this “op”.

There is no doubt in my mind that the GOP wants (a) to suppress the latent Democratic majority in Texas, (b) to sow dissention among Democrats, and (c) to shave votes from Bill White. But they can probably “comply” with “ethics” laws as artfully as Matt Angle and the Democratic Party.

So is Andy Taylor smarter than Buck Wood or Chad Dunn? Probably not, but who cares?  Is any of this gamesmanship really politics or actually strategic?

No! The GOP is promoting the Green Party and the TDP is publicizing it. Who is stupider? It is a close call.

The main threat the Green Party poses is to clerk candidates in Bexar and Harris counties. But the Hart InterCivic company is not worried about that, so the party establishment in Austin is not either. They are trying to piggyback on and justify themselves to Bill White’s campaign. Otherwise they are doing whatever Matt Angle pays them to.

One could objectively, if amorally, admire a pimp-consultant like Angle if he was actually smart or proficient. But Wallenstein he isn’t. Tilly, maybe.

Cringing, gullible liberals and nostalgic, vindictive conservatives -- plus vain, underemployed lawyers -- do not for a strong, strategic, or victorious party make.

They cannot even whip a senile Trotskyite or a few GOP frat-boys playing “covert operator”.