Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amy Price for Houston City Council

I'm delighted to be assisting Ms. Price -- in an unpaid capacity -- with her campaign for the At Large #4 position on council. From the press release (prepared in part by yours truly):

"I’m proud of every hot, muggy, mosquito-infested, unique, culturally rich mile of this city. And it’s the people who make it special," said Price.

"We are able and resourceful, determined and compassionate. And I know that if we work together, we can continue to keep Houston an example that will lead Texas and the nation out of these difficult times. 

"Houston has very fortunately avoided many of the challenges our state and country faces, but we haven't been immune to budget cuts, furloughed employees, and an uncertain forecast. It almost seems we’re watching from a far shore as our middle class shrinks, social services disappear, and our children face a future of fewer opportunities. It’s tempting to give up on fixing -- much less healing -- our society and just settle for holding our ground. But trying to hold ground is exactly how we’ve lost ground. It’s time to bridge the gulf between public policy and the democratic ideals that shaped this country, state and city, and our City Council needs someone who will represent the working class people of Houston. The wealthy special interests already are well-represented."

If you believe that the services city government provides, such as ...
  • policemen and firemen having all the resources they need to do their jobs effectively;
  • fixing potholes;
  • picking up your garbage;
  • and providing clean, safe, drinking water

... are not the kind of things that should be on a P/L statement, then Houstonians finally have that candidate. And her name is Amy Price.

That last part is the most important part of her campaign. Amy's opponents for At Large #4 are incumbent C.O. Bradford and Louis Molnar. Bradford, a former HPD chief, narrowly missed getting elected Harris County district attorney in 2008 before backing up and getting elected to the AL#4 slot in 2009. Here's a snip from the front page of Bradford's website:

Houston is about BUSINESS! A great number of people come here to start businesses, invest in businesses, and advance their careers.

What can and should the City be doing now? Tighten its belt, reduce spending, and provide relief for businesses and citizens. Businesses tend to flourish and citizens do better when they have as much free reign to operate legally and ethically as possible. Reducing some of the business burdens, especially while our local economy is sagging, is an incentive to reinvest, expand, and grow businesses when possible. In my view, this is how we help create more jobs, boost our local economy, and increase revenues.

Sounds almost like a Tea Partier talking, doesn't it? Since Bradford ran for DA as a Democrat in '08, he's been busy consorting with every manner of Republican as he eyes higher office (mayor in '13 against Annise Parker?). Rumors earlier this year were hot and heavy that he was going to take a shot this cycle, but Parker's war chest -- among other things -- must have scared him off.

Bradford wears the long-running scandals of the HPD crime lab around his neck like an albatross, yet that hasn't slowed his political career much. Do Houston voters just look over it or do they even know?

Here's a bit from Molnar's website:

Houstonians need City Council to use their tax dollars efficiently and wisely. This means we need to look for new ways to stretch our budget dollars. We need innovation to make our money go further, and we should encourage a culture of cost-savings. Our economy is not the same as it was a few years ago. Doing more with less is the new way of doing things, and it’s time we take a hard-line approach to the reality of today’s Houston.

Ah, an austerity lecture. The only thing that's missing is a few Teabaggers yelling "cut, cut, cut" in the background.

These two men are the living embodiment of "business as usual" at City Hall. They wear expensive suits, have already spent large amounts of money on their campaigns -- Bradford allegedly invested $5,000 in a campaign song -- and seem to be relishing the opportunity to continue cutting essential city services.

Price, a psychotherapist by profession and a violin teacher by vocation, is NOT going to be "business as usual". That much is certain.

Find Amy on Facebook here and follow Amy on Twitter here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Weekly 'Good Night Irene' Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance, which has some experience in these matters, extends best wishes to the east coast as it recovers from Hurricane Irene. Here now is the roundup ...

Off the Kuff notes that Texas' unemployment rate is at its highest level since the days of the oil bust. Maybe firing thousands of teachers and other public employees isn't such a hot idea.

Bay Area Houston picks up and posts the video of the Sanger ISD administrators who poked fun at Rick Perry in a Hee Haw sing-along skit.

A Houston city council candidate has affixed hundreds of his campaign signs to utility poles -- in violation of both city ordinance and the utility company's rules -- throughout the city, many of them 20- and 30-feet off the ground. This candidate, an attorney, blames "overzealous volunteers" and makes no promise to remove them. This candidate's name is Eric Dick. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs asks the (hopefully obvious) question: does Houston really need another dick on city council?

How can you tell that republicans are batsh*t crazy? Rick Perry has jumped to the top of the polls. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme has warned you for years.

Libby Shaw at TexasKaos has a roundup of Rick Perry's vast network of crony capitalists for inquiring minds. See Icky Ricky Perry, the Master of Pay to Play Politics.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shows that state Sen. Steve Ogden needs to check his facts about who's to blame for the budget impasse last session: Ogden's false equivalency.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy continues to look at Rick Perry's Texas. From tort reform that doesn't deliver on promises to water infrastructure neglect that has left Texas a dry state; from crony capitalism that benefits Perry's campaign contributors to the fact that the Lone Star State has the highest percentage of uninsured in the nation. It's hard to mess with Texas when Perry already has.

Neil at Texas Liberal will be taking part in a spoken-word event and concert in Cincinnati on Saturday, September 3 to mark the release of the Aurore Press book Living In The Lap Of Labor. This book is a collection of essays about working in America. Neil has an essay in the book and will be reading from that essay. While it is unlikely you will be in Cincinnati in the week ahead, Neil asks you to stop on by and say hello if you are in fact in town.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy 175th birthday, Big Greasy

An outstanding essay by Lisa Gray.

In 1836, the place that would become Houston wasn't much of a place. The land was swampy, flat grassland, part of the low-lying Fever Coast. Buffalo Bayou wasn't deep enough to handle big steamships. And the parcel of raw land along its banks wasn't even the founders' first choice for the town they intended to develop. But the land was available immediately, and brothers John Kirby and Augustus Chapman Allen were in a hurry to start making their fortunes.

From the very beginning, in other words, Houston was the city we know today: an unlikely place; a city created as much by accident as by planning; a city in a hurry.

Somehow John Kirby Allen persuaded the young Republic of Texas to make Houston its capital. (It helped that the Allens had been clever enough to name the place after Sam Houston, the hero of the Battle of San Jacinto, soon to be elected president of the Republic.) But the little boomtown didn't last long as the republic's capital: Even by the standards of the Texas frontier, Houston was too raw, too muddy, too prone to mosquito-borne plagues. Disgusted, the legislators packed up and moved in 1839. And thus was established another of Houston's patterns: In the blink of an eye, it went from boom to bust.

Over the next 60 years, Houston fashioned itself as an agricultural center, a place where cotton was processed and shipped, a Southern town not unlike other sleepy little places that peppered the state. When Houstonians hungered for culture and urban life, they traveled to Galveston, a bigger city with a bigger port.

But at the turn of the century, again more by chance than by planning, two world-shaking events in other places changed everything about Houston. First came the Great Storm of 1900, the hurricane that struck Galveston, killing an estimated 8,000 people; it is still the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Businesses grew leery of shipping into Galveston.

And there, Houston saw its chance. Houston's businessmen had already made sure the city was crisscrossed by railroads, and now they hurried to make it an even greater business hub, to dredge out Buffalo Bayou on a grander scale, to make Houston into that strangest of things: an inland port.

The second world-shaking event came only a few months later, in 1901, when oil was struck in Beaumont, at Spindletop -- a gusher like nothing the world had seen before. Suddenly oil seemed plentiful, a fuel not just for lamps but for cars. Suddenly Texans were rich. And suddenly Houston -- with its railroads and growing port -- was an oil town, hub of a brand-new industry.

And that's how we acquired another of our habits: We began seeing the town as a connection, not a destination. The city proclaimed itself "where 17 railroads meet the sea." From Houston, you could go anywhere. It wasn't a town where people sat still.

By 1930, Houston was Texas' biggest city. And after World War II, fed by demand for all things petrochemical, it grew even faster.

Unlike older cities, it was a place shaped largely by cars - a spread-out, sprawling megalopolis, full of single-family ranch houses with big grassy yards, not tight-squeezed apartment buildings. The roads were wide and smooth; sidewalks, when they happened, were an afterthought. When a brand-new highway (like U.S. 59), plowed through a long-established neighborhood (like the Fifth Ward), that was counted as the price of progress. Speed and movement were everything.

The city continued to defy the elements. Houston prided itself on vanquishing nature, in triumphing over actual conditions on the ground. Bayous were channelized and paved, the twisty, slow-moving rivers turned into fast-moving drainage ditches. The city air-conditioned itself on a scale that amazed the rest of the world -- most gloriously, in the Astrodome, the world's first domed stadium, a place where even the grass was synthesized from petrochemicals. We called it the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

Read the rest here.

Sunday Funnies

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stephen King's Maine radio station will "burn some feet"

Outstanding news:

BANGOR, Maine — Horror novelist and Bangor radio station owner Stephen King announced on Tuesday a new talk radio show featuring a former vice presidential candidate and a former Maine secretary of state’s communications director.

“We wanted to shake things up a little bit in the market,” King said.

King, the owner of Zone Radio Corp, said WZON 103.1 FM and 620 AM will launch “The Pulse Morning Show” on Sept. 12. The show will air 6-10 a.m. on weekdays and online at www.zoneradio.com. The station also is expanding its news department.

King said he was thrilled his station could grow at a time when others have had to cut staff and decrease the amount of programming and production.

Former journalist, Bangor Daily News columnist, and gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche will be joined on the show by Don Cookson, a former reporter and communications director under Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

LaMarche was also the Green Party's vice-presidential candidate, with Ralph Nader at the top, in 2004.

LaMarche ... said the show would target politicians and public officials in Augusta and Washington, D.C., who push around Maine residents, especially those struggling with the welfare system.

“Nothing is more fun than standing up to a bully,” LaMarche said. “There’s an awful lot of bullying going on out there right now.”

What's great about this news -- besides King being a "job creator", that is -- is that the progressive media infrastructure continues to flourish, even at the local level.

Keith Olbermann and the new head of Current TV will be fleshing out the news division and filling the network with additional programming over the next year. Cenk Uygur left MSNBC and went back to his one-million-views-a-day online TV show "The Young Turks", and was replaced by the provocative Al Sharpton there permanently this week. Chris Hayes of The Nation has also picked up a weekend gig at MSNBC. The progressive blogosphere, which has always had the upper hand nationally and in Texas -- and even here in Houston -- is blossoming.

“We’d like to burn some feet once in a while — make some people a little bit angry,” King said. “There are some people who deserve to be taken to the woodshed from time to time.”

Yes, liberals who fight back simply enrage the Right even more. Judging solely from the responses I get here -- most of which, sadly, are so obnoxious that they never get published -- the pushback we perform has the same result.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dick's Signs

This Dick is going to get what he wants; a lot of free publicity. First, Greg:

Houston City Council candidate Eric Dick gets busted for his illegally-placed signs. Gotta love the “overzealous volunteer” excuse. If you ever see an overzealous volunteer of his, let me know. And if you see any more of his 20-foot high yard signs, feel free to submit them to the Empty Lot Primary. Here’s the collection of 30 Eric Dick signs posted around town posted there already, some illegally placed on utility poles and some merely posted on empty lots reflecting not one bit of human endorsement (save for the gaggle of six signs placed on a relative’s property). 

And Doug Miller, one of the best in the business:

Not cool, indeed. After I saw several of these in my neighborhood, I called Centerpoint Energy to ask about their policy. Here that is.

Let's review: an attorney who claims full knowledge of the city ordinance regarding campaign signs refuses to take responsibility for "overzealous volunteers" who have placed hundreds of his campaign signs so high off the ground that it will require a bucket truck to remove them.

Let's send a message: don't vote for this guy. Don't we have enough dicks on city council as it is?

Funeral held for Good Jobs outside Culberson's Houston office

Via Marie Diamond at Think Progress:


Staffers at the Houston office of GOP Rep. John Culberson (R) must have gotten quite a surprise on Thursday when they looked outside to see more than 100 constituents gathered for a funeral. But this wasn’t a typical funeral — these Texans were gathered to mourn the loss of good, high-wage jobs in their state.

Mourners circled around a mock casket for “Good Jobs,” and Taps played in the background while Rev. Louis Dorsey eulogized. “I used to be middle class!” One woman cried out during the ceremony. Constituents also chanted “Hey, hey, what do you say? How many jobs have you killed today?”

DORSEY: My brothers and my sisters, we are assembled here today to mourn the passing of Good Jobs in Texas. Jobs died because of a steady influx of minimum wage jobs, tax breaks for corporations and the super-rich, and the policies of politicians like Rep. John Culberson.

Watch it:

Dorsey continued: “Good Jobs were much loved and appreciated by all here today. This loss is tragic because it is the result of reckless greed on Wall Street and in Congress. While the grief we endure for the loss of Good Jobs is great, we must not let this tragedy continue to happen.” A longer version of the video is available here.

The rally was organized by Good Jobs = Great Houston, and was intended to illustrate “how politicians like Culberson are deliberately pursuing policies that are killing jobs across Texas.” The constituents at Culberson’s office included unemployed workers who want the congressman to start prioritizing their needs over corporate balance sheets.

According to the organization, they seek to hold Culberson accountable “for voting for legislation that could kill 1.8 million jobs nationwide and over 200,000 in Texas.” Texas is currently tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the nation, while “the median hourly earnings for all Texas workers was $11.20 per hour in 2010, compared to the national median of $12.50 per hour.”


John Cumbersome is such a malodorous sack of excrement that, should he have noticed this protest at all, probably reacted first with the usual contempt he displays for his constituents and then with surprise that he had any black ones in his district. The one good thing I can say about the man is that at least he's not barnstorming Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina bragging about all the minimum wage jobs he's created.

I met the candidate last night that plans to challenge Culberson next year, and she is a real firecracker. Thank goodness he won't get another free pass.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that the Texas Democratic Women of Harris County are sponsoring a Blogger's Panel, featuring several Houston members tonight, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff has one piece of advice for President Obama regarding Rick Perry's presidential ambitions.

The already-existing field of Republican presidential candidates -- along with former Bush administration officials and even the current occupants of the White House -- reacted to Rick Perry's entry into the race, and Letters from Texas reacted to their reaction. The conclusion: they're all screwing this up.

Bay Area Houston says that fact-checking Rick Perry is not for the ignorant.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is amazed that the always-crazy Congressman Peter King wants Rick Perry to tone it down. No doubt that today's republican is looking to nominate the mayor of crazy town.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the horror that often is the Williamson County justice and DA John Bradley. A man has spent 24 years in jail for a crime he did not commit -- truly a tragic story.

From Iowa corn dog porn, to "gaps" in the theory of evolution, to passive-aggressive assaults on Ben Bernanke and from Karl Rove, Rick Perry had a no good, very bad first week on the national stage. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs documents the governor's gaffes, faux pas and self-administered gunshots to both cowboy-booted feet.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy continues the "Rick Perry's Texas" series by looking at innocent executions, college denied, child poverty, and even a chart showing that, despite the governor's belief in the 'free market', Keynes has come to Texas.

Neil at Texas Liberal said this week that while circumstance matters, it is best not to let others construct your reality.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rick Perry's no good, very bad week

It's only been a week and a half since Governor Profit was praised to the heavens -- or at least to the inside of Reliant Stadium's roof -- and already Republicans of all stripes seem to be worn out with his Texas charm. Just look at this list of news stories in the days since last Saturday's Iowa straw poll:

The cultural right was miffed that he didn't want to beat the shit out of brown kids, having signed the Texas version of the DREAM Act into law. The Wall Street right, thinking they had their guy, recoiled in horror as Perry boasted of beating the shit out of Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke if he made his way down to Texas.

Suddenly, that GOP establishment isn't looking too favorably on the Texan. The Bush crowd, still a dominant force in the Republican Party, has led the assault. Even the Wall Street Journal got in on the act, running this headline with apparently no intended irony: "Rick Perry's Crony Capitalism Problem".

The WSJ is just now discovering Rick Perry has a crony capitalist problem?! Maybe Rupert Murdoch's cellphone hackers were too busy with other people.

Just today, these items.

-- The governor's theory on the theory of evolution draws scorn in the Granite State.

-- Ron Paul laughingly declares that Perry "makes me look like a moderate", and then proceeds to dynamite his own premise by saying:

"I have never once said that Bernanke has committed treason. But I have suggested very strongly that the Federal Reserve system and all the members have been counterfeiters for a long time."

To wild applause from the assembled Paulites.

-- Perry can’t defend his claim to a woman in a cafe' that Social Security is unconstitutional because he’s ‘got a big mouthful’ of delicious New Hampshire popover. (Forget those nasty veggie corndogs; popovers are the shiznit.)

-- His spokesperson Ray Sullivan denies ever knowing that Perry, in fact, has said that Social Security was unconstitutional.

This on the heels of Karl Rove's broadsides, and the investment the governor made in a porn film distribution business, a story our very own Burnt Orange Report broke in 1995. (It's nice when the media finds what we've been writing for years, isn't it?)

Nothing about secession or Al Gore, but plenty about his record as a twenty-five-year career politician. Ben Sherman has some additional linkage on the governor's week from hell, and Katherine Haenschen notes that The Response attendees are being targeted for voter registration efforts. Additional proof that the prayer event wasn't a political rally, of course.

That kind of assault might ironically help Perry—one of his biggest liabilities is the perception that he's the establishment choice in a decidedly anti-establishment year—but it doesn't solve the problem of those DC and Wall Street Republicans looking for someone electable in the general election.

Now to be clear, that establishment would be happy enough with Mitt Romney. He's a hedge fund manager's wet dream, and party bosses who actually want to beat President Barack Obama in 2012 can point to polling showing Romney giving Obama the toughest challenge (by a long shot). But they all also know Romney ain't getting past the teabagger crowd. So who is that magic person who can win the nomination and still be electable nationally in the general?

Perry ain't it. They've obviously concluded that. Hence the rampant speculation today that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and anti-Medicare jihadist Rep. Paul Ryan might be exploring the race.



Must share this news of Progress Texas' hard work. (If you're the sort that's had trouble understanding what Twitter is all about, this will help you get it: geek fighting for a new generation.)


When it became clear months ago that Rick Perry was headed for a presidential run, Matt Glazer and Mark Corcoran at Progress Texas — no fans of Texas’ longest-serving governor — reacted to the news the way you might if, say, you found out you needed 10 fillings. Or your boss threw a can of SpaghettiOs at your head. Or your kids pulled your pants down at the circus.


At PerryForPresidentFML.com, the liberal activist group is gathering all the factoids they can find about the troubled state of Texas after a decade under Perry’s watch, and spitting them out on Twitter with the #PerryFML hashtag.

Since the weekend, as Rick Perry’s rising star carried @RickPerryFacts and TwitPics of the governor eating a corn dog along with it, #PerryFML has been swept up too.

The Perry facts in rotation include:

Peter Wagner endorsed Perry’s “Response.” He advocates putting the gov’t under christian rule & burning statues of catholic saints #PerryFML

Rick Perry’s 2011 budget cut funding for the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program #PerryFML http://ht.ly/5ZaqW

“We just did a shallow hit on what his record is — we wanted to make it something that’s easy to share,” said Glazer, the group’s executive director.

“We sort of expected it to be a very slow build,” Glazer said, but within days of Perry’s announcement that he’d launch a campaign, he said, they saw the hashtag take off. “What we expected to be a couple month-long process and really not be used till 2012, it started in 48 hours.”

Each day this week, Glazer said, they’ve maxed out the 1,500-tweet limit on the free Hashtracking account that let them follow the #PerryFML wave. Just based on those hits, though, Corcoran said they’re getting 1.8 million impressions.


Head on over and spread the wealth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TP less popular than atheists, Muslims

Everybody weirded out of the crazy eyed, spinning pictures? Yeah, me too.

Turns out the rest of the country is just as sick of these TeaBagging assholes as you and I are.

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.

Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

Well, nobody could have predicted that, now could they?

Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.

Another 'duh' moment.

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

Hellloooo. That's why we have all of these Wars going on -- the War on Women, the War on Poor People. Ah, but here comes the coup de gras ...

On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.

Look at that: the Tea Party is nothing more than a bunch of dirty fucking hippies who found religion -- and ultra-conservatism and bigotry and hate -- in their dotage.

To quote some of their miserable ilk: 'time for this bad experiment in government to come to an end'.

Monday, August 15, 2011


More here.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that the nation remembers Molly Ivins' words about Texas governors as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff notes that the Voting Rights Act is squarely in the sight of Texas Republicans as they try to get their gerrymandered maps approved.

As Texas Governor Rick Perry (R - idiculous) officially enters the race for President, Letters From Texas presents Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Perry, But Were Afraid To Ask.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson warns that a Rick Perry presidential run should not be taken lightly, because if elected he would be Bush on Steroids.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks that Rick Perry (r-Dominionist) is just a puppet for the true leaders of the slow moving mob of republican fanatics.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw gives us a quick summary of Good Hair's presidential creds in The Success of Rick Perry.

Do the King Street Patriots -- via the Texas Secretary of State -- intend to turn away veterans at the polls? It looks as if they do, and Open Source Dem at Brains and Eggs has the details.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted on Rick Perry's conflicted views about gay marriage. If you read pages 26 and 27 of the hardcover edition Rick Perry's book Fed Up!, you will see that his social conservatism and his extreme states' rights views are not compatible. Both Rick Perry's far-right backers and his centrist and liberal opponents should note this dramatic inconsistency.

McBlogger takes a look at S&P and finds them wanting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rick Perry ads through the years

Sadly, the cowboy hat and the assless chaps went by the wayside -- along with "the best schools in America"-- a long time ago.

Update: Now we know why the camera in the very first ad is positioned at belt-buckle level:

I first met Rick Perry in 1985. He was a Democratic freshman state rep, straight off the ranch in Haskell, Texas. He wore his jeans so tight, and, umm, adjusted himself so often that my fellow young legislative aides and I used to call him Crotch.

Those first, early ones remind me of Lyle here:

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ames to ... please?

Out of 16,892 straws drawn, Michele Bachmann won 4,823 (28.6%) to Ron Paul's 4,671 (27.7%). Tim Pawlenty, who had focused on a strong showing in the straw poll to rescue his struggling campaign, finished a distant third with 2,293 (13.6%) in a bruising setback. Bumping along behind the horses in the money, garnering in the high single digits percentage-wise, were Rick Santorum and Herman Cain.

Mitt Romney, who won this beauty contest four years ago, declined to defend his title and came in seventh with 3.3%. He trailed even a non-attending write-in candidate.

Yes. The front-runner for the national campaign lost to ...

Governor Prophet earned 718 write-ins and 4%, yet chose to make his long-anticipated entry to the GOP presidential primary from over a thousand miles away from Iowa -- in the cradle of American secession -- but at virtually the same moment the candidates in Ames began speaking.

Romney's brand of Republican moderation will play a little better in New Hampshire, but this is essentially a three-man, one-woman contest already.

Despite what The Grifter from Wasilla may interpret from the concurrent 'corn kernel' poll.

Separately, attendees voted in a corn kernel poll, which measures the support of each Republican by the number of kernels in their respective Mason jar. By late morning, the kernel level in Sarah Palin’s jar rose just above the best-known GOP candidates — even though the former Alaska governor has not declared her intentions yet for 2012.

"There is still plenty of room in that field for common-sense conservatives who have executive experience," Palin said during a fair visit. "Watching the debate not just last night but watching this whole process over the last year it certainly shows me that yeah, there is plenty of room for more people."

Yeah. Yeah!

Update: Ted with more. Oh, and Pawlenty gives up his seat in the clown car.

So long, T-Paw. We hardly knew ye.

Update II: Is Rick Perry man enough to gobble a corn dog, thereby rescuing Michele Bachmann from the vicious sexism leveled at her by the global online community?

Update III: Praise God.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Do the King Street Patriots intend to turn away veterans at the polls?

Open Source Dem recently made a presentation to Harris County Democrats about the challenges facing them with regard to the new election law requirements surrounding voter registration, voter ID, and the like. Here's a synopsis.


There is one piece of news and three main messages to bring back from the Secretary of State’s 29th Annual Election Law Seminar in Austin.

The SoS reiterated for voter registrars and election officials that the voter ID requirement, which can be met with a vaguely-defined “military identity card”, does not include the photo ID issued to military veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA card is not issued by the US Department of Defense. The Veterans Administration -- now the Department of Veterans’ Affairs -- headed by General Shinseki is now a cabinet-level office, second in number of employees only to the DoD itself.

The VA card is a high-value and high-quality photo ID document linked to medical and military records. It is not a voting credential in its own right, since like any other military identification document, it may be issued to a non-citizen. Still, as a practical matter it is probably a better authentication document than a DPS-issued card. Of course buried in all of this voter ID business is nothing more or less than a constant demand that people who do not look like Republican voters produce arcane documents to prove again and again that they are not just eligible and registered to vote but that they are “qualified” to vote in in the eyes of hostile clerks who suspect, but cannot prove, they are not convicts or wards.

The VA card is reasonably “a United States military identification card that contains the person’s photograph that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation”, to quote the statute. As with other military identification cards, it does not expire except at death, but can be revoked. That is how much real understanding of authentication matters the legislature or the Governor’s office truly have: none. Revocation, expiration, what’s the difference? A lot!

But what the GOP, the Tea Party, and the King Street Patriots do understand is voter suppression.

Indeed, the VA card is the second most common form of photo ID after the Texas driver’s license (which does expire). The GOP is limiting access to the polls any and every way they can with no pushback from the Democratic echelons or branches of government. Is there a suffrage lobby or movement today? Evidently not.

So what do Texas Democrats really care about? A VA hospital in the Rio Grande valley? Or a statewide voter registration program for homeless veterans? Perhaps a full measure of dignity and recognition for all veterans presenting themselves to vote? Here’s a clue: Democrats will never benefit from the first two unless they can provide the third of these.

The VA is recognized in Texas election law as one of the two federal authorities for exempting a person from the photo ID requirement altogether, although it is inconceivable that an exempt veteran would not have a VA card. Catch 22. How much more military than that can you get?

What is not news is that the voter ID requirement has nothing to do with authenticating voters and all the world to do with levying costly economic and often impassable physical barriers to suffrage: a poll tax, in so much legal verbosity.

It is not clear what if any response the Democratic Party or the Obama administration will have to any of this. So far they have contributed to the legal verbosity and, of course, capitulated to the Secretary of State.


State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) and Charlie Jones of Texas Democratic Veterans will host a press conference to discuss the Texas Secretary of State’s interpretation of the GOP-backed voter ID bill (SB 14) to bar the VA benefit card as an acceptable form of military ID. The press conference will take place Friday, August 12, 2011, at VFW Post #76, 10 Tenth Street, San Antonio TX.

Republicans square off in Iowa debate tonight

Here's the advance from Chris Cillizza. Jon Huntsman will be the new face in the first GOP face-off since June. No Rick Perry in Ames -- despite his attempt to upstage the event -- and no Palin.

The star of the show is likely to be Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who's been riding a wave of momentum since her strong performance in the June debate in New Hampshire. Polling shows Bachmann running strong in Iowa and she is the favorite to win Saturday's Ames Straw Poll.

Bachmann's rise over the past two months ensures she will be on the receiving end of barbs from her rivals as they seek to slow her progress. How she handles the slings and arrows will be a major storyline to watch.

The other person to keep an eye on is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney enters the debate as the frontrunner for the nomination. But he won't be competing in the straw poll over the weekend and is de-emphasizing the Iowa caucuses in his plans to win the nomination. Expect the other people on stage to mock Romney's on-again, off-again plans in the state.

The Iowa caucuses are still months away, but debates are rare moments when voters pay attention long enough to compare and contrast. Any winner in this one gets media and money.

Romney's "Corporations are people, too" gaffe is liable to hurt him. If not among the other oligarchs on the stage, then with conservatives and independents who aren't so inclined to feel empathy for the INCs and the LLCs and the PCs and so on. Surely there are some of those somewhere ...

The debate will be showing everywhere you care (or don't) to watch on your teevee -- or online -- this evening.

Update: More from The Ticket ...

Tomorrow, Sarah Palin, who is flirting with her own White House bid, will revive her bus tour in Iowa, visiting the state fair in Des Moines, and threatening to upstage other GOP hopefuls in the state. On Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will officially declare his intentions to run for president in South Carolina--a speech that happens to be scheduled on the same day as the Ames straw poll.

A week from now, we will likely know more about the make-up of the so-far volatile GOP field. Can Rommey hold on to his position as frontrunner? Is Perry the savior many GOP voters are looking for? Can Pawlenty gain enough momentum to save his lackluster campaign? Will Ron Paul be taken seriously? And can Huntsman and Newt Gingrich—two candidates whose campaigns have fallen short of expectations—survive? Is Palin even running?

Here's a quick look at what's at stake for some of the leading GOP contenders ...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

One of the reasons I objected to The Response

Because I also know first-hand how filled with love many Christians are.

The Fox News Facebook page got over 8,000 death threats posted on its wall after the communications director for the group American Atheists, Blair Scott, appeared on the network’s “America Live” discussing the group’s lawsuit hoping to stop the erection of a crucifix at the World Trade Center Memorial.

The admins of Fox’s Facebook page worked furiously to delete the hateful posts, but not before the atheist blogger behind One Man’s Blog managed to capture screenshots, some of which we’ve reproduced below.

Organizers of the 9/11 museum feel that the cross, which is a symbol of hope for many, should have a place at the memorial. And then there are those other folks who passionately disagree with Scott’s group and who are behaving in a manner that is contrary to their religion fundamentals.

Christians are up in arms about Blair’s television appearance and have waged an all-out war against his possibly blocking the memorial’s plans. Reportedly, by the time Blair returned to his office, his voicemail was full to capacity with threat messages from Christians who were seething with hatred.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Well, it doesn't look like this is going to be our century.

2011 vs. 1980

Eric Berger, SciGuy:

I’m running out of superlatives to describe this summer’s heat, so this week I’m going to focus in on 100-degree days, especially after the run of them we’ve had to start August. So far every day this month has reached the century mark.

All told this summer we’ve had eighteen 100-degree days. That’s more than three times the normal for a Houston summer, which is five. But it’s not the most.

The city’s record for most 100-degree days came in 1980, with 32. The following table shows how our 100-degree days each month stack up. We’re already seventh this year with just one-quarter of the month gone.

Rank June July August September
1. 10 (1902) 18 (1980) 14 (1993) 5 (2000)
2. 8 (1980) 13 (1998) 10 (1999) 4 (1995)
3. 7 (2011) 10 (2000) 9 (1902) 3 2005)
4. 7 (2009) 7 (1909) 8 (1998) 2 (1909)
5. 4 (1906) 5 (1978) 8 (1962) 2 (1907)
6. 2 (1998) 4 (2011) 8 (1907) 1 (1985)
7. 2 (1934) 4 (2009) 7 (2011) 1 (1980)
8. 2 (1930) 4 (1995) 7 (1951) None
9. 2 (1911) 4 (1986) 7 (1909) None
10. 1 (2006) 4 (1969) 6 (2009) None

Interestingly there’s never been a 100-degree day in Houston in May, although it did hit 99 degrees in 1996.

I spent June through August 1980, my last summer before graduating from Lamar University, as a laborer at the Mobil (now Exxon Mobil, of course) refinery in Beaumont. Two things I remember ...

1. Just as Eric's chart above indicates, it was 100 degrees or more nearly every day in July (August was strangely cooler). I was assigned to the coking unit and they took the furnaces down for a maintenance turnaround. We would crawl into them, clean them out for a few minutes, and then come out. It was about 115-120 even after those giant ovens had cooled overnight, and exiting them into the one-hundred-degree air outside felt like opening the freezer door in your face -- an instant but brief blast of coolness.

2. Just before I was about to leave the plant for the fall semester, Hurricane Allen swirled into the Gulf and rapidly strengthened to a Category 5. That hurricane was so big that the radar pictures showed him filling the entire Gulf of Mexico. We spent a couple of days scrambling all over that coker pulling down hoses and buckets and mallets and wrenches and anything else that could conceivably become a projectile in a gale-force wind.

(If you haven't already read the Wiki link above, Allen eventually went in just north of Brownsville and took a straight shot at Big Bend before petering out.)

That was the hottest, dirtiest, meanest, nastiest summer of my life. But this one's coming close to it.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Response blew into Houston, raised the temperature a few more insufferable degrees, and left quickly without spending any money or delivering any rain. The Texas Progressive Alliance, meanwhile, is praying for a cool snap and drought relief as it brings you this week's roundup.

There's still redistricting going on, as Harris County tries to redraw its county commissioners' precincts. So far, the main thing they've done is attract a lawsuit from Latinos who say they have retrogressed the one Latino opportunity district. Off the Kuff has the scoop.

The Response had better than expected attendance, a very diverse crowd, and the event's sponsors made a sincere effort to have the event be all about one man (not the governor of Texas). Having praised it, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs then proceeded to rip it. Wide open.

Our economy is in bad shape and is unlikely to get better any time soon. WCNews at Eye On Williamson tells us the reason why: The politics of the economy are upside down.

Prior to The Response, Letters From Texas predicted the response to the response to The Response.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is disgusted with the republican campaign to destroy the middle class, kick the poor to kingdom come and abandon the elderly.

This week Left of College Station began Rick Perry's Texas project, telling the truth about the governor's record in Texas. From Perry's scores on climate change to the fact that the Texas economic miracle was really a stimulus miracle.

Lightseeker offers his take on Why Democrats Lose Texas Elections. Hint: It's NOT because we are too Liberal! See the whole analysis at TexasKaos.

This week at McBlogger, Harry offers forth from the Book of Balczak his take on Prayerapalooza.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Sunday Funnies

Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

-- Epicurus

The scene inside and outside Reliant

Let's say some nice things first.

I believe the crowd was closer to 30,000 than any other number. I was on the floor of the stadium, to the left front of the stage and ahead of the soundboard but three rows back in the second seating section, by 8:25 yesterday morning.

The crowd was not only much larger than projected but also very diverse. I expected mostly white, middle-aged, and well-fed but there were many younger people of all creeds. In front of me was a row of high school -- or maybe college-age -- kids: one skinny tall red-headed Caucasian with a scruffy little beard, next to a shorter and even thinner black guy, next to a girl of Indio-Pakistani descent, next to her African-American girl friend, with two more of their Latina friends behind them.
They all not only held hands with God and prayed and sang at the top of their lungs but also bounced and pogo'd throughout the musical accompaniment, which occupied much of the time leading up to about 10 a.m.

In my row and those behind me were nearly all middle-aged and senior white people, but there was also a Hispanic family wearing Texans jerseys, having walked over after that morning's team practice across the street. Two guys, one woman -- all of them no more than late '20's, two little guys about 10 or so. The kids were munching from a big tub of popcorn, and the aroma was as sinful as it always is. I saw a senior Asian couple walking slowly arm in arm. Nearly no wheelchairs or walkers and no scooters (mobility-challenged people might have had a special section that I didn't see, higher up). But very few coming in, maybe because Reliant is so damned difficult for them to access -- long, sloping ramps or escalators being the primary entry.

The Responders were just as demographically mixed as any game at the ballpark I've been to, any street festival or outdoor concert in Houston. There were plenty of southern Baptist conventioneers by appearance, to be sure. Many obvious, ah, rural folk. But many Latinos and many African Americans also, of all ages.

OK then; to the play-by-play.

My intention was to get with the protestors outside early and then go into the stadium later in the morning, but the group I was looking for was nowhere in sight around 8 a.m., so I parked at the Holiday Inn due north of Reliant and ambled south across the vast asphalt expanse toward the giant dome. There's a VIP parking area to the immediate north of the arena, and as I walked past it headed for the south side gates I saw a bomb-sniffing dog and his handler sniffing out the cars there. I'm certain that detail isn't part of the normal stadium security even on an NFL Sunday, and I wondered who was paying for it. That was my first Tweet of the day.

As I came around to the south end there were ten or fifteen queues for bag checks and light patdowns, same as on game days. I lined up and took off my backpack for inspection, observing the stout little man in a grey polyester suit ahead of me as he was instructed to throw away his snacks -- a package of cinnamon rolls on a tin tray -- and his bottle of water. At his feet, under the table, were about 20 more abandoned water bottles.

I unzipped the compartments of my backpack, which contained sunblock, two frozen plastic bottles of water, some beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, a Luna bar, my diabetes and Meneire's meds, a notebook and some pens. I lifted it to the table and said, as the guard peeked in: "I have my Bible, my diabetes medication, a notebook, some pens ..."

He said, "you're good; go ahead". And so on I went.

As I made my way down to the floor there was a Christian rock band playing. A heavily U2-influenced one. Everything they played sounded like "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" to me. But let's be kind and say that Christian rock music and its associated production values have come a long, long way just in the past few years. (One favorite artist from my youth -- Mark Farner of Grand Funk -- saw the light and crossed over years ago, but I was never, ever into the Strypers and the Jars of Clay and the like. And those are old farts compared to Switchfoot and Five Iron Frenzy. Anyway ...)

Up in front of the stage they had cleared out some seating and created ... you guessed it, a Christian mosh pit. And some of the people coming out of there were white, middle-aged, and profusely sweaty. There was a little bit more than the predictable swaying and arm-waving going on. A little more, not a lot.

A prayer, a song, then a slow-dance version of 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic'.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling down the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

Glory glory hallelujah!
Glory glory hallelujah!
Glory glory hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

Everybody sing along!

Another band -- a folk instrumentalist dead-ringer for Glen Maxey (if Glen still had shoulder-length hair that was salt-and-pepper) and a soloist singing some old revival hymn, a prayer, another song, a truly great gospel choir of at least 60 African Americans, then an introduction of the co-sponsors by Richard Land: the Dobsons, Tony Perkins, the others ... 

Around ten o'clock Luis Cataldo, the director of The Response, came out and opened the show. He took complete control of the assembly, by this time at least ten and maybe fifteen thousand, with his opening remarks. Paraphrasing from my hastily scribbled notes ...

"This day is for one person. ONE man." (No, he was not referring to the governor of Texas.) "Today will be a day of fasting and prayer, a gathering unto God as the body of Christ to worship, repent, and pray for America. May Jesus' name be lifted above every other name today in Reliant Stadium."

So much for the fasting. For some. More on that in a moment. Cataldo likewise and deservedly praised the diversity of the assembly and went on:

"We will have a Spanish translator shortly, but she is stuck in traffic. Now when she arrives, you'll hear our speakers in English and her Spanish translation immediately following. It will sound a little confusing at first, but after awhile it won't bother you and then you won't even notice it. As you look around, you may see people doing something and you'll ask yourself: 'what are they doing? Why are they doing that? Should I be doing that?' Don't worry about that. Just worship and pray in your own way and don't be concerned with what others are doing."

"Some people are fasting and some are not, for whatever reason. Some people will be praying and singing out loud and some won't. Some will be raising their hands to God and some won't. When we break into small groups later to share our prayers with each other, if you don't have a prayer or can't think of one then say 'Amen', or 'ditto', or 'what he said'. We want you -- the Lord wants you -- to be a participant today, not a spectator. You are standing before God on behalf of America; He wants to hear your voice. But don't worry about what others are doing or how they are doing it. Give grace to God in your own way and allow everyone else the freedom to do the same."

I cannot emphasize this point enough: Cataldo took total control of the crowd. He confronted their biases and their anxiety, and asked -- no, instructed -- them to lay off that burden. And I think his directions mostly took hold, as well.

"We're not selling any merchandise here today. There's no offering being collected. There are no signs or banners, there's no one denomination authorizing or being featured by our guest speakers or musical groups.

"This day is to worship God in spirit and truth, to come together as a diverse body with sincerity, wholeheartedness, and repentance. We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes nor humbly called on Him in our struggles. According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and ask God to intervene.

"Today is a historic day of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America."

Or something like that. Thoughts of the highway to hell's pavement came to mind often.

The only time things got offensively political was when a stream of teenagers came forward and screamed out prayers for "God's intervention in stopping abortion in America". I wondered if their interpretation of  'God's intervention' includes clinic bombings and doctor assassinations. No, I really do wonder about that. Because I fear that it does.

Rick Perry was scheduled for 11:20 a.m. I left the arena floor around 10:45, my toxicity meter redlining, my phone battery waning and my back teeth floating. As I made my way out I stopped and talked to my fellow Demoncrat Erik Vidor, who was setting up his video camera in front of the soundboard. Knowing there would be plenty of opportunities later to see the Prophet's remarks, I headed up to the concourse, took a piss and then walked outside to find MY people. My Chosen Ones.

Where there was no one in place responding to The Response at 8 a.m. there were now around a couple of hundred, with signs and hats and costumes and songs and chants. There was a large group -- 60 to 75 -- at the front door, in the shade of the towering Reliant structure on the west side facing Kirby Drive at Murworth, and several more gatherings along Kirby all the way down toward 610, collecting under the shade of the small oaks there in numbers of a dozen or so each.

I joined the shady siders and stayed until about 12:30, retiring to break my own fast with a Satan Sandwich, a side socialism salad, and an independent progressive ale at the Sports Page, the bar inside the Holiday Inn, before returning home and streaming The Response's video while joining the Twitter feed. (#theresponse)

More coverage:

More photos from the Houston Chronicle

More photos of protestors from thanks_imjustlurking's Photobucket album

God's Response to Rick Perry

Kate Shellnutt's Believe It or Not live-blog of The Response

Rick Perry ain't whistlin' Dixie ... or is he? (YouTube)

Tens of thousands of Houstonians turn out for back-to-school help

A good seven miles from Gov. Rick Perry's much-anticipated prayer rally, an even larger crowd of Houstonians gathered in preparation for another sacred event: the first day of school.

Some families camped out for hours to gain admittance into Houston's first-ever, citywide back-to-school event at George R. Brown Convention Center, where free backpacks, school supplies, uniforms, haircut vouchers, immunizations and fresh produce were provided.

Others were turned away.

(The article originally contained crowd estimates of 100,000 but that has now been edited out.)

Friday, August 05, 2011

A bit more Response

The ADL's David Furlow presented "Roger Williams, Thomas Jefferson, and the Origins of Religious Freedom" at the Jewish Community Center here last Tuesday evening.

And one more, a classic scene from Blazing Saddles, that exemplifies everything the Christians assembling in Reliant tomorrow and their TeaBagger brethren represent.

Countdown to Prayerpalooza

The governor will give brief remarks, read scripture and offer a prayer in the middle of the seven-hour-long program, said Eric Bearse, spokesman for the event, called The Response.

Even the pandering is bigger in Texas.

Alice Patterson is the Texas state coordinator for The Response. And while The Response is explicitly a nonpartisan event, that hasn't kept Patterson from arguing that the Democratic Party is "an invisible network of evil." Hey, that could mean anything!

Controlled by demons! Demoncrats! It all makes sense now.

"They're intolerant, they're hateful, they're vile, they're spiteful," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said of gay rights activists in April. "They're not the enemy. The enemy is simply using them as pawns. They are held captive by the enemy." Perkins, whose FRC was recently labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay rhetoric, has been named as a co-chair of The Response and will speak at the event. Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association's issues director, has taken things even further:

So Hitler himself was an active homosexual. And some people wonder, didn't the Germans, didn't the Nazis, persecute homosexuals? And it is true they did; they persecuted effeminate homosexuals. But Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual soldiers basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals.

All of which is false.

The AFA, which is co-sponsoring the event, recently launched a boycott of the popular Fox television program Glee because it is "glamorizing homosexual behavior."

But it's not just gay people and Democrats they hate; it's grizzly bears and killer whales and the Statue of Liberty and the Sun Goddess.

The recently emerging perception today, PrayerMania Eve, is that all of this attention being paid to Perry, his Response -- and particularly the vicious criticism he has endured -- is drawing legions of sympathetic Christians, previously turned off by the governor's public piety, to rise up and rally to his defense.

Yes, now the spin is that he's being persecuted for his religious beliefs, just like That Other Prophet, and he must be Saved.

I suppose if the Christian Soldiers rallying tomorrow in the football stadium can produce Perry to meet his critics face to face, then perhaps the cross, the nails, and the angry mob could be produced to give them what they want.

A martyr.