Monday, January 30, 2012

A week's worth of Mexican sweat

Via Democratic Blog News, the Austin Chronicle (their emphasis):

There were rumors floating around all weekend that there could be a deal struck as early as today, but with all parties heading to DC to catch closing arguments in the preclearance hearing tomorrow, Jan. 31, that seems unlikely. The Mexican American Legislative Caucus told the Chronicle this morning that a deal is not imminent, even though they are all working towards some kind of agreement.

MALC (and particularly chair Rep. Trez Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio) and MALDEF are clearly most interested in creating the largest number possible of Hispanic opportunity districts. However, that could clash severely with both the interests of the other plaintiffs (many of whom are looking for more Democratic opportunity seats) and the historic coalition between African-American and Hispanic groups. Throughout this process, LULAC and the NAACP have been very much on the same page, and have not always been in complete agreement with MALC and MALDEF.

You may also recall the reports last month that African American legislators and associated interest groups don't care much for districts drawn to favor Latinos in somewhat exclusive manner. There's a rich quote from bloghermano Greg Wythe here with respect to that. Continuing...

And what about the time table? The problem with any deal is that the San Antonio panel ordered that there has to be unanimity between the parties, or all contested districts have to be submitted to be redrawn. The state's seeming desperation to avoid shifting the primaries again might add some strength to the plaintiffs' side of the table, as they can extract more as the state keeps clock-watching to hit that Feb. 6 deadline. As Martinez-Fischer told the Associated Press, the state is willing to negotiate and "something’s motivating that."

The time crunch means the plaintiffs can dangle the equal representation terms of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act over the assembled heads of Attorney General Greg Abbott's team. However, the DC District Court is expected to rule this week on whether the legislature's maps violate the preclearance terms of Section Five of the VRA. There are undoubtedly voices in the room suggesting that the plaintiffs would be in a much stronger negotiating position – and that the state would have little legal wiggle room – if they just wait a couple more days.

And the most recent update to that post has this (with my emphasis now):

...LULAC attorney Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. confirmed that his clients (who are still pushing for coalition districts) want to wait for the DC ruling, and that was the stated position of all plaintiffs to the San Antonio panel before this weekend. "As to negotiations," he wrote, "they have totally broken down as of now. I am sure they will resume but I doubt an agreement if at all by this Monday so I don't expect an April 3rd election."

If this is going to settle out at all, it will be the Republicans giving something up of significant value. Some reports indicate that Abbott is trying to sow discord among the plaintiffs but it doesn't look like that's working.

Waiting for the Redistricting Settlement Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is stocking up on unhealthy snacks and adult beverages -- in preparation to celebrate the almost-ready-to-break news on Texas redistricting as well as Sunday's Super Bowl -- as it brings you this week's roundup.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is concerned that the frivolous issues the Tea Party Republicans scream about -- and boo and cheer about at their debates -- are a complete distraction from the serious problems facing America. Character slaughter in the battle for a Republican presidential candidate does not demonstrate who the best candidate may be, so Divided and Apathetic We Fall.

In addition to all of the redistricting litigation, the state of Texas has also filed a lawsuit to get the odious voter ID law precleared. Off the Kuff has a look.

Texas always ranks high on the list of "business friendly" states. WCNews at Eye On Williamson says It's time for Texas to become a top 10 state for the rest of us.

A Houston Not-So-Much 'Stros rant, starring Roger Metzger as Ron Paul (or maybe the other way around), is posted at PDiddie's Brains and Eggs.

At TexasKaos, lightseeker explains that Rick Santorum's wife DIDNOT have an abortion, but therein lies both a morality tale and an advocacy for a sane truce in the choice wars. Give it a read: Abortion, Choice and Absolutist Morality.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme, like everyone else, knows that the Texas Supreme Court is crony capitalism central.

Neil at Texas Liberal made a post about the great resources at the C-SPAN program archive, and at the new American wing of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. These are first rate, free and accessible websites that respect the fact that everybody has the ability to understand complex things, and that everybody has the abilty to engage in political action.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Satisfying pre-conclusions to Texas redistricting

I have been wondering why the state of Texas (read: Attorney General Greg Abbott) has been so suddenly willing to abandon its concurrent legal strategies to force discriminatory districts on us all, and reach a settlement that will reportedly favor Democrats, Latino organizations, and others fighting them.

Here's the insight I have been seeking to what, by every appearance to me, looked like folding a winning hand. First, the indomitable Michael Li (go read the entire thing for his cogent observations at the scene of Friday's hearing, some of which I put in this post that came from his Twitter feed):

It’s not clear why the state’s position has shifted so radically. Theories range from pressure to keep Texas relevant to the GOP presidential nomination to concerns about the ruling that the D.C. court might issue to worries of incumbent legislators about a split primary. Or maybe it’s just that Texas Republicans, faced with few good options, are figuring that they can always try redistricting again in January 2013.

And Paul Burka:

Abbott may find himself on the hot seat again, as critics are sure to question (again) his decision to go forum shopping by making an end run around the Department of Justice: going straight to the Republican-dominated district court of the District of Columbia and moving for summary judgment to preclear the state’s congressional and legislative maps. But the D.C. Court found potential evidence of discriminatory intent, and suddenly Abbott’s litigation strategy didn’t look so clever. To be fair to Abbott, he didn’t have much choice; the House supermajority was dead set on maximizing seats for both the House and the Congressional maps. The impulse to overreach is common to large majorities, regardless of party. But the result is that the state’s legal team ran out of time, which would not have occurred had Abbott taken the traditional route of seeking preclearance from the Department of Justice.

And so, in a single stroke, the Republican Legislature has managed to resurrect the Democratic party from the ashes of the 2010 election and the 2003 Tom DeLay midcensus redistricting.

We'll know for sure soon enough, possibly as early as tomorrow.

What Oakland looked like yesterday

Saturday's protests -- the most turbulent since Oakland police forcefully dismantled an Occupy encampment in November -- came just days after the group said it planned to use a vacant building as a social center and political hub and threatened to try to shut down the port, occupy the airport and take over City Hall.

Springtime will be coming soon.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, January 27, 2012

San Antonio judges mull later date for TX primary

The three federal judges charged with drawing the maps that Texas will use in the 2012 primary elections pushed the date of those primaries later into April, and left uncertainty as to whether that would be final due to continuing questions swirling about the maps themselves.

After testimony from various parties -- Chad Dunn of the TDP, David Mattax for the TX OAG, attorneys for Reps. Joe Barton and Quico Canseco -- and a conference call with the judges in DC hearing the case over pre-clearance there, Justices Orlando Garcia, Xavier Rodriguez, and Jerry Smith finally put out of its misery the April 3rd unified primary date in their hearing which began at 1 p.m this afternoon.

There were some remarkable exchanges between the panel's judges and the Republican lawyers and representatives. Mattax at one point indicated that the judges did not have to 'get Section 5 (the pre-clearance provision) right', since the maps being drawn were interim ones anyway. Judge Rodriguez responded: "Are you saying you won't appeal our map if the DC court says something different on Section 5?"

Mattax' response: 'What I'm saying is the Section 5 conclusion doesn't have to be exactly the same, because the maps are just interim.'

Rodriguez: "Well, we thought we were just drawing interim maps the last time."

Judge Smith then asked David Mattax: "If the Supreme Court says that districts violate Section 5, how can we ignore that on interim maps?" Mattax replied: "Because they are only interim maps." Judge Smith: "I completely disagree that we can ignore (Section 5) concerns", and followed up with: "Doesn't the DC court's ruling already say Section 5 issues are not insubstantial?" Mattax responded that he did not think the SCOTUS ruling used the words 'not insubstantial'.

The conversation then turned back to settlement efforts. Mattax: 'We're going to work all weekend. Try to get something Monday.'

This is a good time to point out that about the time the hearing in San Antonio began, Gary Scharrer of the SAEN posted that the parties involved were negotiating a settlement.

A leading player in the state’s redistricting turmoil said this morning he’s hopeful that both sides are closing in on a settlement that will salvage Texas’ April 3 primary.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been meeting with representatives of minority groups that sued the state last year to stop new political boundaries from taking effect on grounds the decade-long maps ignore profound population growth of minority Texans – mostly Hispanics.

“I am confident that the parties are working in good faith and have enough time to craft a compromise that will assure that the April primaries go on as scheduled,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, chairman of the House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which is one of the parties suing the state.

Caught off guard as he was preparing for a 1 p.m. court hearing in San Antonio before three federal judges refereeing the redistricting fight, Martinez Fischer acknowledged that lawyers for his organization have been talking with Abbott and others in the case about a settlement. Martinez Fischer said he could not share details.

A spokesman for Abbott said the attorney general will hold off commenting until the court hearing.

Consensus seemed to emerge around 3:45 p.m. that everyone might come to an agreement on an April 17 unified primary -- two weeks later than currently scheduled -- contingent upon questions settled by the parties over the weekend. Judge Garcia directed the two sides to provide a list of the district maps not in dispute by Monday or Tuesday of next week "if you want to have an election in April."

When the conversation turned to military ballots (they have to be printed and mailed, thus requiring the most lead time of anything associated with an election), Steve Munisteri, chair of the Republican Party of Texas, responded that service members could be allowed to vote electronically and still satisfy the Texas Election Code's MOVE Act (Texas Insider has a nice, brief explanation in the first paragraph here). Judge Rodriguez was skeptical of that, and a moment later when Munisteri cited the TEC for not being able to move the conventions, the judge pounced.

"But you are asking us to change the MOVE Act. Why not just change the election code?"

The chairman said that Texas Republican voters would be disenfranchised by splitting the primary, moving the presidential part to the summer. "Why would you be OK with waiving certain parts of the election code but not others?" replied Rodriguez.

There was no indication from those present how Munisteri answered that question.

There followed more give-and-take between the litigants regarding the costs of splitting the primary, whether the state or other plaintiffs might or might not object to the forthcoming new maps, and more deep-in-the-weeds legal and political machinations. But the smirking was induced when Texas county election administrators began to testify, gently spiking the bad ideas from GOP redistricting lawyers and Munisteri by describing what would be able to functionally happen in their municipalities. The Bexar County elections official, for example, said that electronic ballots were not an option ... because they simply don't have email addresses for all service members.

Thanks to the Twitter feeds from the scene by Michael Li, Ross Ramsey, Nolan Hicks, Rebecca Acuna, Alana Rocha, and many others. You can read their play-play-play which I used to compose this post at the Twitter hashtag #txlege . Ramsey has his report up, likely with updates to come, and Kuffner has a bit more. Li's most recent Tweet, just before 5 p.m., says:

Probably pretty obvious but 2/1 filing deadline and ballot order draw next week are being cancelled.

The hearing continues; I'll post more updates as warranted.

Update: The Hill reports extremely positive news regarding settlement negotiations.

The Texas state attorneys defending the state’s GOP-drawn redistricting plans from court challenges have reached out to settle litigation, according to sources in the state. The settlement would give minority groups and Democrats what they’ve been demanding from the start: more heavily minority, Democratic-leaning House seats.

The result would likely mean at least four more Texas Democrats in Congress as of next year, a good start on the 25 or so seats Democrats need to win to retake control of the House.

“They’re backed up against the wall and have to come to some agreement and it’ll be awfully favorable on our end,” said one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Another plaintiff agreed.  “It’s clear they know they’re in a vulnerable position and that’s why they want to settle,” he said.

Update II: In a clear indication of the ongoing confusion, this Austin American-Statesman headline -- "Federal judges warn April 3 primary in jeopardy, urge redistricting compromise" -- contradicts what they quote Judge Orlando Garcia saying in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the story: "We don't know when (the primaries) might be, but we know it won't be April 3"...

That would be way beyond the dictionary definition of 'jeopardy'.

Not-so-much 'Stros

There's no astronauts any more. There's almost no Astrodome any more. Even Astroworld, which had nearly nothing to do with outer space, is a prairie again. So WTF does anyone want to be called "Astros" anyway?

“We’re looking at the name,” (brand-new Astros owner Jim) Crane said. “I said earlier that the Astros will be here, but we’re looking into that, too.”

This is a reversal of what Crane had said about the Houston name the day Major League Baseball approved his bid to purchase the team from Drayton McLane: “Astros are here to stay.”

“We haven’t said we’re going to do that, so don’t jump to any conclusions,” Crane said. “But sometimes change is good.”

Hell, I'm so old I remember when small businesses in this town were all named after the team. Astro Dry Cleaners. Astro Brake Repair. Astro Insurance. That kind of self-identification goes way beyond exploding scoreboards, groundskeepers dressed for a moon walk, and even orange-and-yellow rainbow unis.

Hey look! It's Roger Metzger! Ah shit, never mind. . . .
The day MLB completed the transfer of power from (Drayton) McLane, Crane hinted strongly that he’d be swift and decisive about how to proceed with the baseball operations. He said he’d be making a few moves right after Thanksgiving, and he followed through with the dismissal of team president Tal Smith and general manager Ed Wade. When it came time to find somebody to run the baseball operations, Crane landed a well-rounded executive – (Jeff) Luhnow – who helped build the St. Louis Cardinals into a World Series champion. Luhnow is trying to marry advanced data analysis with old-fashioned, boots-on-the-ground intelligence to make the Astros relevant again.

Crane caused a bit of a stir with his admission on Monday that the Astros name might be subject to review. But is it a bad thing that he wants to at least explore all plausible options? With a move to the American League having been foisted upon Houston starting in 2013, with the team coming off its worst season in history, there is no time like the present to consider just about anything.

A uniform change would seem to be a given, what all the merchandising opportunities that would come with it. Teams change uniforms all the time, and the brick red and pinstripes have not conjured a lot of good feelings lately. A name change would be a considerably more radical undertaking – one the franchise has already experienced once.

Yay! You get to buy the new gear, and all those $150 jerseys you bought with names like Berkman and Oswalt and Pence can go on E-bay and be sold to the hoarders collectors as 'retro'. If you're one of the poor saps with 'Clemens' or 'Pettitte' on the back, sorry; you're still SOL. Believe me, most of 'em will be worth more if they change the name of the team and not just the colors and the stripes and the logos. Win-win!

See, it takes a real smart guy, a guy who didn't grow up here -- who grew up a Cardinals fan, for Pete's sake -- to come to Houston, make a shitpile of money, buy a baseball team and change everything about it. Jim Crane understands that people don't move to H-Town to retire. You people reading this are not Jim Crane's target market. He knows he's in competition with the Dynamos, and the Dynamos are way ahead of him.

Jim Crane, smarter than you because he's richer than you, understands that kids don't grow up playing baseball any longer. Keep in mind that the baseball academies are in Venezuela, not Iowa (or New Hampshire). Jim Crane knows just enough about Houston to know that we bulldoze our history around here, not preserve it.

It should be obvious to everyone by now that Jim Crane doesn't give a flip about anything relevant to his new baseball team but the money he's going to eventually be making. That's why he cut prices on the seats and the beer this year... and why he's going to cut the payroll even more than Drayton already had.

The last and only thing left for the quaint Astros fans among us to decide is how much of our money we are going to give him. This year, next year when they change leagues, and most importantly the years after that when the NL and the Astros and any lingering resentment become a distant memory. Ten years from now it will be like a faded black-and-white of your grandparents; an anachronism, like watching the game through a knothole in the fence, an afternoon World Series, and starters that go nine innings every fourth day. Jim Crane's in it for the long haul, and I don't mean another World Series appearance. At least until his lawyers can find an 'out' in his Minute Maid Park lease.

How much of our money will we give to Jim Crane because of how much we love the idea of baseball. Not baseball the way they'll be playing it in MMP for the next few years, not the Astros... not even "our" team, the Houston What's-Their-Names, for that matter. How much are we willing to pay to cling to our warm childhood recollections.

What's the going rate on nostalgia these days? Jim Crane's about to set the local market.

(apologies to Kuff for appropriating enough of his blog post title to motivate a claim of plagiarism)

Update: Jim Crane hears you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Houston progressive events on tap this week

At the top of my list this weekend:

National Single Payer Strategy Conference in Houston

WHAT: Over 120 Representatives from 25 states and 52 organizations will meet in Houston this weekend to plan strategies to advance a single payer national health insurance plan in the USA. The best health care system plan for accessible, cost-effective, equitable and high quality health care is expanded and improved “Medicare for All”. Workshops and topics include:

*economic impact of the PPACA legislation, funding and affordability, the individual mandate, challenging electoral candidates to press forward for single payer during the election year

* defending attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

* health care inequities; exposing pharmaceutical and insurance industry corruption of government

* state plans for universal health care coverage

* building coalitions with faith-communities, professionals, peace, justice, consumer rights and labor groups

* shareholder “divestment” campaign from profit-making insurance companies

* connecting to the OccupyWallStreet movement and occupying the health care debate

* lessons from the southern states and the civil rights movement to achieve health care as a civil right

WHEN: Saturday, January 28, 2012 2pm-9pm and Sunday, January 29, 9:00am-5:00pm

WHERE: Hilton Hobby Hotel, 8181 Airport Blvd, Houston

Agenda here (.pdf). Conference info: Co-sponsor host: Health Care for All Texas

WHO: Senior leaders from national and regional coalitions, academic, medical care, health policy analysts, movie producers, videographers, writers and activists. Speakers available for interview include:

  • Dr. Claudia Fegan, Chief Medical Officer, Ambulatory & Community Health Network, Cook County
  • Dr. Walter Tsou, past president, American Public Health Association; Physicians for a National Health Program
  • Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy, National Nurses United
  • Mark Dudzic, Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health
  • Dr. Margaret Flowers, Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care
  • Dr. Jerry Frankel, Physicians for a National Health Program (Texas)
  • Donna Smith, ("Sicko") American Patients United; California Nurses Association
  • Tim Carpenter, Nat’l Director, Progressive Democrats of America
  • Catherine Tactaquin, Executive Director, Nat’l Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
  • Dr. Margaret Nosek, Executive Director, Center for Research on Women with Disabilities
  • John Lozier, Nat’l Health Care for the Homeless Council
  • Katie Robbins, Healthcare for the 99% -OccupyWallStreet-NY
  • Laurie Simons & Terry Sterrenberg, producers, The Healthcare Movie

Contact: Colleen O’Brien, media representative, Health Care for All TX -Houston,

281-660-9765,, or Cathy Courtney, HealthcareNOW Conference Planning Committee -Houston 832-677-6766,

Earlier in the day on Saturday:

Saturday, January 28, 2012
Knowledge is Power.

When envisioning the future of women in Texas, one thing is certain — we have only just begun to tap into the dynamic resources that will help us transform into Women of Action.

Be a part of the change.

If you are impacted by changes in health care, education or economic opportunity, you should attend this informative and action-oriented summit. Get up-to-date information about changes in the laws and direction in health care, education and economic opportunity: what to expect; how to arm yourself with the most current resources for today and the future; and most importantly, how you can make a difference.

This free summit will offer:

· Meaningful workshops on Health, Education and Economic Well-Being
· Speakers with insight as to what is really happening to women’s resources and what can be done to improve our circumstances
· A Women in Action Panel where you can speak with experts on a variety of topics
· A Women's Resource Table Fair with a variety of businesses and organizations providing resource materials
· Networking opportunities with other women

You can speak up, be heard, and become a Woman in Action.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

The Winter Women's Summit will include sessions on:

  • Health Care Access to resources for women's health, children, and those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Education Success for Your Child in K-8 Education, The 12 Tests High School Students Must Pass, How to Fund Your Child's or Your College Education.
  • Economic Well-Being Information about small business opportunities, alternative work solutions, and preparing for financial security.

Tomorrow evening:

HCDP Evening Brown Bag with Jessica Farrar and SOTU Watch Party

Representative Jessica Farrar had an opportunity to observe as the Supreme Court of the United States heard the oral arguments regarding redistricting in Texas.jessicafarrarJoin us on Tuesday, January 24th at 6:30pm at HCDP HQ as she will explain her experience, and the developments since.

Farrar is currently in her 9th term as state representative of District 148. She was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1994 at the age of 27, and she is the longest serving Hispanic member from Harris County in the Texas House of Representatives. She is also chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.

HCDP will also host a State of the Union Watch Party immediately after Farrar's talk starting at 7:45pm.

Wednesday afternoon:
Religion in the 2012 Elections

Symposium sidebard 133x133The Religion in the 2012 Elections symposium, sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network, takes place this Wednesday, January 25 at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy on the Rice University campus in Houston.

Event Details
When: Wednesday January 25, 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Where: James A. Baker III Hall, Rice University
Address: 6100 Main St. (Google Map)

Here is the agenda for the symposium.

(this event is free, but registration is full)

And Wednesday night:

An Evening with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist Leonard Pitts
Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m., Congregation Emanu El, Houston

One of the most emotionally engaging columnists writing today, Leonard Pitts is beloved by readers for the thoughtful way he treats complicated issues involving religion, race, culture and politics. His nationally syndicated column appears regularly in newspapers around the country, and in 2004 Pitts was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Also a bestselling author, his critically acclaimed first novel, Before I Forget, was released in 2009 and a collection of his columns, Forward From This Moment, was published that same year.

Purchase tickets for "An Evening with Leonard Pitts" here.

Judges deciding TX redistricting feel deadline pressure, pass it down

This just has the air of turning out badly for everybody.

Federal redistricting judges in San Antonio want to see if they can get agreement from the parties on political maps in time for an April 3 primary and said they are "giving serious consideration" to split primaries if no agreement can be reached by the first week of February.

The three federal judges said in an order issued this afternoon that they will meet with the parties on Friday instead of waiting until Feb. 1.

The five-page order is full of dates and deadlines:
  • The judges say they will almost certainly move a candidate filing deadline (my emphasis) now set for Feb. 1.
  • They said the parties should confer and submit agreed-upon interim maps for legislative and congressional elections by Feb. 6 if they "wish to maintain the current election schedule." If they can't agree, the judges want a list of districts in the Legislature's maps that each party no longer objects to.
  • The parties are involved in hearings in Washington, D.C., where a separate panel of three federal judges is deciding whether the Legislature's maps violate preclearance provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act. Ideally, the San Antonio judges would have that court's ruling in hand before it approves redistricting maps. It's asking the lawyers to give the Washington court a nudge: "With high respect for the importance of that proceeding and the prerogatives of that court, this Court hereby requests both sides in the San Antonio proceedings to request, on behalf of this Court, that the D.C. Court attempt to rule on the Section 5 issues in time for this court to incorporate those decisions into its ultimate decision on the redistricting plans for the 2012 elections for the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and the U.S. Congress."
  • The Texas judges say they are giving "serious consideration to whether a so-called 'split primary' will be required" for this year's elections, and asked the lawyers to be ready to talk about it at the end of the week. They also want lawyers for the state to be ready to say whether the state would be prepared to reimburse counties and the political parties for the "substantial additional expense of a split primary."
  • The judges asked for comments on the idea of a presidential primary on April 3 with most or all other elections held later. The earlier presidential primary would relieve the Republican and Democratic political parties, which hope to have the primary elections well before their state conventions in June. The Republican Party of Texas has suggested the split primary on several occasions; the Democratic Party, in filings this week, said it would prefer a unified primary if possible.

Hustled-up court decisions, rushed maps, split primaries, new voting requirements ... it all adds up to confused voters and poor turnout.

More from Michael Li. Shorter Michael Li, from Facebook:

BREAKING: Court says to keep unified April 3 primary, parties will need to agree on interim maps by 2/6. Otherwise, court giving 'series consideration' to split primary; wants to know if state will commit to reimburse added costs. Court considering presidential only primary on 4/3 or presidential + countywide/whole county on 4/3.

Election officials from your local precinct all the way to the Secretary of State will be pressured to make decisions -- or wait for decisions to be made. Candidates, potential and incumbent, won't know what the districts they intend to represent will look like -- and neither will the voters, until very late in the process. All while Republicans keep doing their dead-level best to gum up the works, disenfranchising even their own voters as they do.

This is what one-party rule looks like, from the bottom up.


When the San Antonio court set Feb 1st as the candidate filing deadline for a April 3rd election date organizations representing Texas counties told the court in a pleading that they had “serious reservations and concerns” about their ability to comply with the April 3rd election schedule. The county organizations said that compliance would be “extremely difficult and expensive” if even physically possible...” The counties said the Feb 1st — April 3rd timeline wouldn't leave them enough time to prepare an election that usually takes six to seven weeks to prepare. Today, the Republican Party suggests lopping another week off the April 3rd timeline.

County election officials must have election precincts mapped, voter registration cards printed and mailed, ballots prepared, and voting machines programmed and delivered to polling locations not by April 3rd, but a few days before March 19th, the first day of early voting for the April 3rd election date.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance thanks South Carolina for all the laughs as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

The big story last week was the SCOTUS ruling on interim redistricting maps. Off the Kuff has an initial look.

It turns out that PDiddie and Paula Deen have more in common than just their initials; there's also a morality tale involved. Read "Paula Deen, diabetes, and Novo Nordisk" at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is tired of the media ignoring grossly untrue, inflammatory, and just plain disgusting things Republicans like Rick Perry say.

Perry's run for the presidency is over! WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on it here: Good riddance for now; Perry drops out.

This was a big week of action culminating in the defeat (for the time being) of SOPA, including January 18 when many sites blacked themselves out. Darth Politico refused to go dark, and instead went dork -- with a snark/irony blog supporting SOPA (or "Why Death Stars are a good thing").

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw mourns for Texas in "Poor Texas: Forrest Homer Simpson is Coming Back". An eloquent requiem for a candidate who brought untold levels of derision to our state when he revealed how truly shallow and narcissistic he is. Give it a read!

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote this week abour how Houston school board member Manuel Rodriguez got away with using anti-gay campaign materials in his recent re-election victory. Everyday citizens, civil rights groups and the Houston GLBT political caucus all gave Mr. Rodriguez a free pass despite his hateful words.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The South Carolina subheadlines: Colbert, Cain, Santorum and Paul

Jason Stanford:

Stephen Colbert might be funny, but his exploratory campaign is no joke. The point he’s been assiduously making on “The Colbert Report” is a smart bomb wrapped inside of an absurd conundrum. Simply put, there is no greater force for campaign finance these days than Colbert. By following the tortured laws and starting his own super PAC, Colbert has unleashed a prank that could embarrass the body politic into real change.

Stephen Colbert is the most talented improvisational comedian of his generation. Only one other person in my lifetime even comes close, and he never tried to stay in a single character 100% of the time. (Sasha Baron Cohen is a solid-finishing third and Pee Wee Herman comes in a fairly distant fourth, mostly because of his tragi-comic offstage altercations.)

... Colbert mocked the reductionist absurdity of the law that danced around limits to corporate influence in politics.

“It’s how much speech they can express, because money comes from speech. … Money equals speech,” said Colbert, who then challenged (ABC's George) Stephanopoulos: “Corporations are people. You won’t weigh in on whether some people are people? That seems kind of racist.”

Is any of this more absurd than Mitt Romney denying culpability for what his super PAC does because, as he claimed in Monday’s debate, he hasn’t talked to those guys in “months”? Or, for that matter, Romney’s contention that corporations are people?

Colbert's rally with fellow clown Herman Cain in Charleston yesterday was the purest poltical irony yet seen in modern times.

"If corporations are people, then I'm a people person. The Lockheed Martin Luther Burger King, if you will."

Chuck Todd sputtered that Colbert was 'making a mockery' of the political process. Dude: you obviously haven't been paying much attention to politics over the years. Google Pat Paulsen. This has been going on since before you were born. Todd did get one thing right, though...

While expressing admiration for how Colbert has exposed a lot of the idiocy involved with the marriage of politics and money, and saying he enjoys his show, Todd went after both Colbert and Jon Stewart for mocking members of the media, then backing off and saying “we’re just comedians” when the members of the media call them out on it. “Actually, no you’re not [comedians] anymore,” Todd said. “You are mocking what we’re doing, and you want a place in this, then you are also going to be held accountable for how you cover and how you do your job.”

Yeah, somebody has mentioned that before. Back to the Palmetto Bug State and the farce of actual Republican politicians.

With the race seemingly between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Republican rival Rick Santorum is bracing for a setback and looking ahead to the next contest: Florida. [...]

Romney and Gingrich were battling for the top spot in South Carolina and Santorum was looking to post an acceptable showing. During campaign stops on Friday, he cast himself as a Goldilocks candidate: just right when compared to Gingrich's "too hot" rhetoric and Romney's "too cold" personality.

Santorum also looked to disqualify the fourth candidate in the race, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Santorum said there were three candidates who could capture the GOP nomination and cast libertarian favorite Paul as a gadfly annoyance.

That might sting a little more if it came from a guy who remembered to pay the fee for his law license. I'm thinking that Santorum's parochial school taunts aren't having as much effect as he is praying for. Still, it's probably enough to burn the bridge between Mr. Frothy Mixture's camp and Dr. No's. Not that they ever had much in common anyway.

Ron Paul finished a strong third in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 and a distant second to Romney in New Hampshire. Although he has not campaigned as much in South Carolina as he did in Iowa, he is likely to at least triple his South Carolina support from 2008 (which was 4%).

The Paul campaign has spent about $1.5 million on television advertising in South Carolina, including a spiffy spot that features a number of federal agencies going up in smoke. Beyond the Palmetto State, the campaign has signaled it will make only a modest effort in Florida because of the high cost of campaigning and because the state is unlikely to field a full slate of delegates. Florida defied Republican Party rules by moving its primary to Jan. 31; as punishment, the party has threatened to strip the state of some of its delegates.

Most observers say Paul is unlikely to get above the 20 percent mark in the upcoming primaries in Florida, Missouri, Arizona and Michigan but should do well in the upcoming caucus states of Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Maine. Paul’s fervent believers tend to turn out for caucuses, as they did in Iowa.

The sooner Ron Paul slides back over to the Libertarians, the more fun it will be for everybody. One last snip of brilliance:

“Ron Paul’s expected third-place finish is not that much of a surprise, as Newt Gingrich has now firmly established himself as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “What we have witnessed is less Ron Paul rising to third place and more Rick Santorum dropping to fourth place from the highs he received immediately following his success in Iowa.”

"What we have witnessed". Keep in mind that Rice University's Mark Jones is one of the most massive dumbasses who wears the title 'political scientist' ever. It's not that he gets everything wrong. He actually gets something right once in awhile (acorn/blind hog); it's that he gets paid tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of dollars for dreck like that.

People like Mark Jones are the ones making a mockery of the political process in this country. Him, and this guy:

Fox News ‘A-Team’ Psychologist: Being Married Three Times Could Make Gingrich A Better President

No excerpt. Go read it for yourself; just be prepared to piss yourself laughing.

Update: FTR, this is what 'political science' looks like.

Friday, January 20, 2012

SCOTUS tells lower court: Start over on TX maps

"And this time, make 'em more like the Republicans drew 'em".

The Supreme Court on Friday instructed a lower court in Texas to take a fresh look at election maps it had drawn in place of a competing set of maps from the Texas Legislature. The justices said the lower court had not paid enough deference to the Legislature’s choices and had improperly substituted its own values for those of elected officials.

“To avoid being compelled to make such otherwise standardless decisions,” the Supreme Court’s unsigned decision said, “a district court should take guidance from the state’s recently enacted plan in drafting an interim plan. That plan reflects the state’s policy judgments on where to place new districts and how to shift existing ones in response to massive population growth.”

Adding to the clusterfuck...

The justices acted just 11 days after hearing arguments in the case. Primaries in Texas had already been moved back to April. For those primaries to proceed, officials there said, an answer from the courts was needed by Feb. 1. [...]

One set of maps was drawn by the Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. Those maps seem to favor Republican candidates. The other set was drawn by a special three-judge federal court in San Antonio, and it increases the voting power of Hispanic voters and seems to help Democratic candidates.

A unanimous ruling. As in 9-0.

So it appears the three-judge panel in San Antonio will go back to the drawing board, under a severe deadline to produce additional maps ... presumably still subject to approval of The Nine. If all that can't happen by February 1 -- 8 business days from today -- then the Texas primaries will get pushed to later in the year, creating still more chaos.

Where's all that wailing from conservatives about "activist judges" now?

Occupy the Courts today

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and specifically the civil disobedience of Dr. Cornel West, Move To Amend is planning an action event today to mark the second anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision.

Occupy the Courts will be a one-day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., on Friday, January 20, 2012.

Move to Amend volunteers across the USA will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.

In Houston this evening also, a discussion featuring 2006 Democratic candidate for Texas governor Chris Bell:

On Friday evening, January 20, join us for “Corporate Personhood vs. Your Personhood: Who Has More Rights?” This panel discussion commemorates the 2nd anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, the latest in over a century of Supreme Court decisions establishing the doctrines that corporations are people and money is speech. Panelists include former Houston city councilman and former Congressman Chris Bell, activist Arthur Shaw, and NLG attorney Burke Moore.

7:30- 10 p.m., University of Houston main campus, SEC building room 102. Free parking off Cullen in the stadium lot, across from Entrance 14. Walk across the street into Entrance 14 and you’ll see the SEC building immediately to your left.

RSVP on Facebook here.

Cleaning up the Octagon after the fights

No blood, no teeth, but a nasty mess never-the-less.

The race for the Republican presidential nomination took a turn toward the South Carolina surreal Thursday as Rick Perry dropped out, Newt Gingrich faced stunning allegations from an ex-wife and Mitt Romney struggled to maintain a shaky front-runner's standing.

An aggressive evening debate capped the bewildering day.

"Aggressive" is a word I use when my pit bull sees a squirrel in the back yard. Newt turned rabid on CNN's John King.

Gingrich angrily denounced the news media for putting his ex-wife front and center in the final days of the race. "Let me be clear, the story is false," he said. Santorum, Romney and Paul steered well clear of the controversy. "Let's get onto the real issues, that's all I've got to say," said Romney, although he pointed out that he and his wife, Ann, have been married for 42 years.

The audience gave Gingrich a standing ovation when he assailed the media, a reaction he can only hope is reflected in voter sentiment on Saturday.

And just like that, it was over.

Paul Begala:

Newt Gingrich won the debate in the first minute by casting himself as the victim not of a failed marriage but of a corrupt liberal media that is in bed with Barack Obama.

Lloyd Grove:

The former speaker lashed out like the tough guy he is, as he endured everything from John King’s questions about his ex-wife’s open-marriage allegation to Santorum’s attack on his leadership abilities.

Newt Gingrich was like a giant death star, threatening at any moment to suck into his field of gravity every single molecule of matter—from his rival presidential candidates on the stage beside him to the raucous South Carolina Republicans in the audience in front of him.

Michael Tomaskey:

And that was the only truly dramatic moment of the night. John King started with Marianne, and Newt drew not one standing ovation as he had with Juan Williams, but two. “I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic that …” You couldn’t even hear the rest in the hall. First standing ovation. “Every person here knows personal pain.” Nice! Blah blah blah, “as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.” Blah blah blah. “I am frankly astounded.” Blah. Then—right at King. “John, don’t try to blame somebody else.” Then—a brilliant opening of the hood, showing the assembled how the machine really functions. “We offered several friends to ABC,” which didn’t want to hear from them. And finally—it took him a while, but he finally hit on where to take this, which was against the media. “I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama and …” Couldn’t hear the rest. Second standing ovation.

Those were turnaround lines that no one else on that stage could have pulled off, which speaks well of Gingrich in a way, but really poorly of him, which is to say that only a person essentially without conscience could do all that with such brio.

Bless his heart, Rick Santorum got in a few punches, kicks, and scratches -- not to mention the best scowls of the evening, seen repeatedly thanks to CNN's split screen. But he is simply no match for Newt. Michelle Cottle:

(Last night), Rick Santorum repeatedly and loudly cried bullshit on the speaker.

“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich,” Santorum said of his opponent’s shameless self-promotion. “A month ago, he was saying, ‘Oh, I’m inevitable.’ It was, ‘I’m destined to do it.’”

Of Newt’s electoral braggadocio, Santorum charged, “These are not cogent thoughts.”

Spot on, brother. And yet...

I’ll bet $10,000 that none of Santorum’s attacks tonight will make a lasting impression on anyone who doesn’t already share his concerns.

It’s not really Santorum’s fault. The senator was, even more than usual, passionate, cogent, and earnest in his criticisms. Not to mention accurate.

But there is just something about Senator Sweater Vest that doesn’t resonate, no matter how fired up he gets. It is a matter of presentation: He is too plaintive, too beseeching—even when he’s got both barrels blazing. He is begging rather than commanding us to recognize Gingrich’s many absurdities.

It's just his fine Christian upbringing, I suppose. Not even God and His Earthly minions can save Frothy Mixture now. A smaller mess, easily cleaned up by next week.

Meanwhile, on a vast luxury cruise ship off the coast of Italy...

Mitt Romney still looks the most presidential of the foursome, but his claim of electability is wearing thin. In each successive debate, he reminds me more of Robert Redford in The Candidate. He will say and do whatever it takes, including withholding his tax returns until after he secures the nomination. Newt Gingrich is right when he says if there’s something in Romney’s tax returns that could sink his candidacy, it’s better to know now than after he’s the nominee.

Romney knows that too, which must be why he sputters and looks acutely uncomfortable when pressed to say declaratively when he’ll release his returns, and for how many years.

When asked if he would release twelve years of tax returns, as his father George did when he ran for president in 1968, Mitt said "maybe," and promptly got booed by those in the hall.

(Here's where Greg will send me another comment that says, "It was only a few people who booed...")

Ron Paul was, once more, the septuagenarian in comfortable shoes who got mostly ignored.

At one point, as moderator John King was making his rounds with each of the candidates, he inexplicably skipped over Ron Paul. The choice to skip the Texas congressman was odd given that Dr. Paul is a retired obstetrician and gynecologist. Paul, of course, noted this after a hearty round of boos from the audience.

“John, once again, it’s a medical subject. I’m a doctor!” Paul beamed. “No, I do want to make a couple comments because I can remember the very early years studying obstetrics and I was told — it was before the age of abortion. I was told taking care of a woman that’s pregnant, you have two patients. I think that solves a lot of the problem about, you know, when life begins and all.”

Paul went on to explain his experience with the 1960's culture and that "the morality of the country changed" and "the law followed up."

"When morality changed, it reflects on the laws. The law’s very important. We should have these laws. Law will not correct the basic problem. That’s the morality of the people."

That's a nice straddle between pro-life and pro-choice. Plenty of dog whistles to both sides in that answer.

All four candidates failed their history exams, as usual.

Prediction: Gingrich wins on Saturday, Santorum finishes fourth and quits shortly thereafter, and it's a two-horse race to Florida on January 31st. There are five states that caucus in February, but no primaries that count until Arizona and Michigan on February 28.

I hope this means there will be fewer debates...

Update: Santorum third with 17%, Paul fourth with 13%. It's the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse for at least a couple more weeks, maybe longer. "Hello, Costco? How much is a tractor trailer of Orville Redenbacher's?"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Trails

Our long statewide nightmare is over. Governor MoFo is cuttin' and runnin'.

Rick Perry is expected to drop out later this morning at an 11 a.m. press conference, two sources confirmed to POLITICO. He's also expected to endorse Newt Gingrich, the sources confirmed.

But never without some last bit of drama.

The discord in Perryworld was evident even as the candidate prepared to drop out.

Top officials in Texas said they were unaware of his intentions and as late as this morning said they genuinely didn't know whether he was still running.

Gingrich has been assiduously lobbying Perry officials in recent days, POLITICO has learned. The former House speaker has repeatedly texted Perry manager Joe Allbaugh.

Should we tell him to go on and resign the governorship now? While's in a quittin' kinda mood?

Update: Harvey K with some "first-blush thoughts"...

-- Perry is damaged goods, even in Texas. Recent polling had him in low double digits and in third or fourth place among Republicans in his home state. Although he became a much better candidate at the end, he embarrassed supporters with how little he knew about the national arena and how incapable he was of verbalizing.

-- He leadership team is in tatters. What once looked like a formidable and unstoppable juggernaut now looks like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. They can regroup, but rehab will be required. Finger pointing and claims of profiteering are already dominating the Capitol bar talk.

My recommendation remains: 'Go get you a nice lobbyist job with a big fat paycheck'.

Update: Via Progress Texas...

Estimates show Governor Perry owes $2,651,429.14 to Texas taxpayers for security-related travel costs incurred during his 160-day presidential run. With $2.47 million in his state account as of December 31, 2011, Governor Perry can immediately pay back 93% of those taxpayer dollars, leaving him with an outstanding taxpayer debt of $179.949.59.

"Hello, Bob and Doylene? Uh, I need one more favor..."

Update II: Before we say goodbye...

Paula Deen, diabetes, and Novo Nordisk

The celebrity chef famous for bacon and egg burgers with donuts as buns, deep fried bacon-wrapped macaroni and cheese balls, and more butter on all of it is a diabetic ... and has been for three years.

After becoming the face of diabetes-inducing cuisine, Food Network personality Paula Deen confirmed on Tuesday's Today show that she has known about having Type 2 diabetes for three years and used the occasion to start pitching diabetes drugs for Novo Nordisk. "I had to figure things out in my own head," Deen told Al Roker, explaining why she only decided to come clean about her metabolic disease now.

 That's right; she waited until this week to announce it publicly ... the same time she announced her sponsorship with a Dutch pharmaceutical company ... whose product is one of the leading treatments for diabetes.

What's wrong with this picture?

Ed. note: Here's my full disclosure. I have been diabetic for eight years, have been taking Victoza for the past year, have lost 50 lbs. mostly as a result of the medication, and haven't taken a dime for anything related to my diabetes from Novo Nordisk or anyone else.

Deen made in the neighborhood of $10 million from her TV show, endorsements and sponsorships (brands such as Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Smithfield Ham) in 2010; consequently New York magazine estimates she earned as much as $30 million since diagnosis while she 'figured things out in her own head'.

There is no word on exactly how much Novo Nordisk is paying her to say she takes Victoza, but this source indicates it's seven figures. Deen is preaching a message of moderation now, though...

"People see me cooking all these wonderful, Southern, fattening recipes... it's for entertainment. People have to be responsible."

Ohhh that's what it's been all this time. Entertainment. Some reactions were harsh.

Hours after Deen broke the news, (Travel Channel's Anthony) Bourdain posted this message on Twitter: "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later." 

Other reactions were harsher still.

Paolo Lucchesi, the food columnist for Inside Scoop SF was frustrated "that there was not one modicum of regret or culpability for her entire persona and recipe encyclopedia, which is pretty much a butter-lubed bobsled ride to Diabetesville."

Deen has her libertarian 'personal responsibility' defenders, too.

But if Deen’s become rich showing Americans how to consume as much butterfat as possible, is that Deen’s fault? Last time I checked, cooking shows were entertainment -- what social critics call “aspirational” -- not the mandatory curriculum for home ec class. Obesity was a crisis in America long before Deen uttered her first “y’all” before a video camera. How many of Deen’s critics have also spoken out against the cream-enriched legacy of Julia Child, or James Beard -- a man of epic girth who cooked with butter and fistfuls of cheese, and who served as the moon-faced pitchman for Omaha Steaks?

John Birdsall at Chow takes it a step further, too, calling Bourdain's verbal assault not just hypocrisy but class war AND gender war.

Deen, we assume, speaks to a down-market audience who need to be lectured about nutrition and willpower. Bourdain speaks to the well-heeled traveler for whom a foie gras hot dog is an occasional indulgence, not a moral failing. Right? Or is it somehow acceptable for men to engage in extreme eating, while women have an obligation to show restraint?

Is there a moral to this story? Why, yes there is.

"Everything in moderation. Including moderation."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Obama denies KXL's permit; work on pipeline continues

And TransCanada will resubmit their proposal with a new route through Nebraska. Politico:

"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil."

Hours before the announcement, environmental groups that consider Keystone a potential ecological disaster were signaling their glee with the expected decision. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans and GOP presidential candidates accused the administration of placating its green allies ahead of creating U.S. jobs.

I had given up any hope of stopping this calamity until about a month ago, when the House TeaBaggers screwed the pooch by including a provision to force a decision in 60 days as part of their capitulation on the payroll tax cut. Honestly, when I think about how blessed Obama has been with the ineptitude of his opposition, I just have to laugh.

And the pipeline may still come to be, Obama in the White House or no. But today's news has to be cheered for those who fought against the powerful, entrenched interests of the oil companies, and won.

The battle to kill this piece of shit for good goes on, however.

Thank you, Lamar Smith.

For assisting Google in getting 4.5 million signatures on their anti-SOPA petition, which in turn chased fellow Congress critters -- even John Cornyn -- away from the legislation in droves; and for instigating a populist uprising against your corporate-owned ass.

Some reactions:

-- From "SOPA Will Take Us Back to the Dark Ages":

I had an epiphany today. The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was not written by people who fundamentally misunderstand how the web works. They understand all too well, and want to change it forever.

Behind the almost unreadable (yet truly scary) text of SOPA (and its Senate doppelganger, PIPA, or the Protect Intellectual Property Act) is a desire, likely fueled by powerful media conglomerate backers, to take us all back to the thin-pipe, content-distribution days of 1994

-- And from the douchebag himself...

“It is ironic that a Web site dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act,” said SOPA sponsor and chairman of the House Judiciary committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) “The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy,” he quipped.

-- Who supports this legislation?

The biggest backers of the antipiracy bills are the industries hardest hit by online piracy: the makers of music and movies. The Internet, and the explosion of illegal copying and sharing of music and movie files that came with it, has been economically devastating for Hollywood and recording studios, and they’ve been pushing lawmakers for years to hold Internet platforms more accountable for the illegal content that flows through their servers. The bills are also backed by makers of pharmaceuticals and luxury goods that want to strangle the market for knockoff goods. All told, hundreds of businesses led by (the US Chamber of Commerce) are pushing hard for the bills.

My general rule if that if Rupert Murdoch is in favor of it, it's probably bad for everybody else in the world.

-- The Guardian live-blogged the day.

-- Here's a list of some of the major sites who participated in the blackout.

This site spent the past 12 hours dark in solidarity. Regular posting resumes in a moment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Debate audience boos Romney's Mexican heritage

I realize it's the usual hypocrisy -- and that it's also South Carolina, where boorishness is home-schooled -- but if SC Republicans actually don't hate legal immigration, why the booing?

During a Fox News debate at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Monday, the Republican audience booed loudly after being told that Romney’s father was born in Mexico.

In a report last week, NBC revealed that Romney’s great grandfather, Miles Park Romney, had fled to Mexico with other Mormons to escape persecution for polygamy. Romney’s father, George, was later born in the northern Mexico colony of Colonia Dublan.

At the age of five, George Romney returned to the United States illegally after the Mexican Revolution broke out.

Were they booing Romney being an anchor baby? I doubt they were sophisticated enough to figure that out quickly enough to launch a catcall.

The audience also booed when Gingrich was asked about his "food stamps" remarks recently to a black audience, and then cheered his retort wildly. So obviously nobody reminded them that it was MLK Day. Or something.

South Carolina is breaking strongly for Mitt so this behavior is even more puzzling.

How do these Republicans behave -- what do they say -- when they're at their homes, with each other at their meetings which aren't televised? Worse than this?

I think these debates where they boo gay soldiers, boo the mention of Mexico, cheer for the death penalty and the repeal of child labor laws are something akin to picking one's nose while in traffic: I'm all alone here in the car, no one can see me, I can quickgetthis booger.

I hate to tell you this buddy, but people are watching, and they're disgusted.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day linkage

Here is a good listing of quotations by Martin Luther King Jr.

Here are five stories about relatively obscure people who stood near King as he gave the speech now called "I Have a Dream", in Washington DC on August 28, 1963, at the culmination of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Here's a link to the details of the ceremony honoring Dr. King this morning at the recently-opened MLK memorial in the nation's capital. The monument itself has a truncated quotation inscribed on it which misinterprets King's words, and will be replaced with another.

This error may -- or may not -- have a thing to do with the fact that the giant stone was partly carved using imported Chinese slave laborers. I doubt King would have approved.

There are several events in Houston marking King's life today, including two parades this morning. Competing factions of supporters can't agree to march together, it seems.

As Dr. King noted...

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

MLK Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a look at Democratic primary races as they now stand in Harris County and elsewhere in Texas.

Refinish69 at Doing My Part for the Left thinks sometimes you just have to say "What the Hell?"

Bay Area Houston says it is time for a Joe Driver law.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme wants you to know that Vermin Supreme almost beat Rick Perry in Vermont.

The Texas Tea Party had a rally and a straw poll in Houston, a few rich white bigots showed up, and Rick Perry got his ass whipped again. In other words, as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs observes, nothing has really changed for the TeaBaggers.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw gets us up to date on who is calling who a vulture capitialist, (or Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. See her piece: Vulture Capitalist Supporters Perry, Gingrich Demonize Vulture Capitalism.

It's been a little quiet on the issue of transportation funding lately, but that's changed. WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the latest polling nonsense about how to pay for new roads, in Here we go again.

Neil at Texas Liberal offered the 5th annual posting of his Martin Luther King reading & reference list. There are 3 new additions for 2012. This list is the best starting point to learn about M.L.K. to be found on the web.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ron Paul, Ted Cruz win Texas TP straw poll

Ron Paul won a very listless Texas Tea Party straw poll, with 27.9% of 707 in-person votes cast, conducted today at Houston's Minute Maid Park.

Newt Gingrich was second with 23.8%. Rick Santorum, the choice of the College of Protestant Cardinals meeting today in the Sistine Chapel at a cattle ranch in Brenham, was third at 21.2%. Rick Perry finished just out of the money in 4th place with 19.4%. Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney was well back of the pack at 6.6% and Jon Huntsman finished next-to-last at 1.1%, ahead of my selection, Buddy Roemer, who had 0.0.

Paul was even more popular with the 3,332 text voters at 54.4%. The rest of the field changed positions somewhat...

Rick Santorum 15.6%
Rick Perry 13.3%
Newt Gingrich 11.9%
Mitt Romney 4.2%
Jon Huntsman 0.5%
“Buddy” Roemer 0.0%

In the US Senate $75-a-head poll, Ted Cruz walloped David Dewhurst 47.8% to 10.3%. Glenn Addison, the crowd favorite from Thursday night's debate, came in second with 19.9% and Craig James fourth with 9.9%. Cruz also did a little better with the texters, getting 49.1% while Dewhurst slipped to fourth with 7.1% behind James and Addison, who received 12.9 and 12.0 respectively.

Lots of good seats remained available throughout the day.

Attendees and phone voters also got to pick their favorite Congress critters and statehouse senators and representatives. Those results are even less interesting than the ones above and can be found here and here (scroll down).

A riveting lineup of speakers kept the hundred or so Aricept-addled TPers transfixed throughout the day. Breitbart warmed 'em up with a little of his usual crap. "Rock Me Like A" Herman Cain brought some books to sell. Dick Armey pimped his PAC. Update: Both men pimped Mitt Romney, to little avail.

The rest of the talkers were there shilling for 2012 votes; even dipwad Jerry Patterson, not listed on the program, was spotted via stream speaking from the dais at one point.

The conservative local media tried as hard as they could to give the event relevance; alas, they failed. Michael Berry and Matt Patrick of KTRH, Sam Malone and Chris Baker of KSEV, Joe Pags of KPRC, Jon-David Wells of KSKY in Dallas, and Natalie Arceneaux of KNTH made a day of it, to the everlasting chagrin of their program directors. Thank goodness they'll all get a comp day for working on the weekend, giving the market a break from their hate.

All in all, a waste of a beautiful day by our local Tea Party contingent. Just what we've come to expect.