Sunday, September 30, 2012

Of urban legends and the 2000 election

As we draw closer to November 6, 2012 -- just 10 days left before the deadline for voter registration, 22 days before the start of early voting in Texas, and only 36 days remaining until Election Day -- and as I see, almost every day, a new thread on discussion fora populated by Democrats, liberals, and progressives (not always the same thing, to be certain) that begin with the words "Fuck Ralph Nader' ... I am reminded that it is time once again to put another stake in the heart of the stubborn myth that Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election. And by extension is also responsible for all of George W. Bush's atrocities -- including but not limited to 9/11, the Iraq War, the acceptance of torture as an intelligence tool, the Great Crash of 2008, and other messes that Barack Obama is (allegedly) cleaning up even as I type.

*Whew*. That's a lot for even a pariah to bear.

Let's begin with the obvious: correlation is not causation. W ignored more than one PDB that warned of OBL attacking the US, it was Bill Clinton who signed the legislation appealing Glass-Steagall, and Obama hasn't accomplished as much as we all wish he had, and not only because of Republican Congressional obstructionism. None of what occurred -- none -- from January 2001 to January 2009 can rationally be laid at Ralph Nader's feet. No more digressing, though; back to the urban legend of '00.

It's important to acknowledge that Nader did have some influence on the election's outcome twelve years ago, and that influence, in whatever amount it can be properly attributed, was likely to a measure of detriment to Gore. You may, for example, correctly fault Nader for breaking a promise not to campaign in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania, as Jonathan Chait did. That was dishonorable, in my view.

Here's a good summary of the contentiousness of the question. I'm including the reference links cited on Nader's Wikipedia page (some do not work).

Nader's actual influence on the 2000 election is the subject of considerable discussion, and there is no consensus on Nader's impact on the outcome. Nader's votes in New Hampshire and Florida vastly exceeded the difference in votes between Gore and Bush, as did the votes of all alternative candidates.[63] Exit polls showed New Hampshire staying close, and within the margin of error without Nader[64] as national exit polls showed Nader's supporters choosing Gore over Bush by a large margin,[65] well outside the margin of error. Winning either state would have given Gore the presidency, and while critics claim this shows Nader tipped the election to Bush, Nader has called that claim "a mantra — an assumption without data."[66] Nader supporters argued that Gore was primarily responsible for his own loss.[67] Nader critic Eric Alterman disagreed, writing: "One person in the world could have prevented Bush's election with his own words on the Election Day 2000."[68] Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn cited Gore's failure to win over progressive voters in Florida who chose Nader, and congratulated those voters: "Who would have thought the Sunshine State had that many progressives in it, with steel in their spine and the spunk to throw Eric Alterman's columns into the trash can?"[69] Still others argued that even if Nader's constituents could have made the swing difference between Gore and Bush, the votes Nader garnered were not from the Democrats, but from Democrats, Republicans, and discouraged voters who would not have voted otherwise.[70]

Go here if you want to read more.

In my humble O, there are at least four more severe influences than the presence and actions of candidate Nader that cost the Democrat the White House, two of which were within Gore's greater power to mitigate. It is most accurate, then, to say that 'several confluent events unknowingly conspired to alter the course of history', and no one of them -- not even the United States Supreme Court -- can be solely blamed.

And since I brought that up... here we go.

1. The SCOTUS awarded the presidency to Bush. In a decision that overruled state courts twice, stopping the recount in Florida, and then declaring that their decision in the case should not be considered legal precedent, the five conservative Justices disgraced democracy. Simply read Alan Dershowitz and you will agree.

But the case never should have come to them, because...

2. Florida would not have been necessary for an Electoral College victory had Gore won his home state of Tennessee, or even New Hampshire. Or Arkansas. Or West Virginia, which was blue in 1988, 1992, and 1996. Winning any one of these would have ended the contest and made Florida moot.

There might be factors in each of these states of play in 2000 that would invalidate some of this generalization. I'm not writing a polemic here, or a book. Robert Byrd all but begged Gore to ride in the car with him and visit WV voters to secure the state in his column, but Gore did not. Gore avoided campaigning with Clinton like the plague, a massive error in judgment in hindsight. It could be construed that cost him Arkansas, and maybe a few other states as well.

Gore placed all his chips on Florida by selecting Joe Lieberman as running mate, and apparently took his opportunities to win the other states for granted. (I believe it was John McCain, inveterate craps player, who made the phrase "game-changing pick " popular four years ago.) I would personally choose to fault the odious Bob Schrum, who still to this day offers his "Jimmy the Greek" wisdom on MSNBC and elsewhere, for running a campaign that made the Sunshine State, with the inherent corruption in its processes -- Katherine Harris, hanging/dimpled/pregnant chads, caged voter lists and all the rest --  the battleground. Schrum is 0 for 8 in presidential campaigns he has advised. Why does anyone listen to anything he says?

Whatever influence a different tactic or two might have had on the outcome remains mostly speculative, however, and I would prefer to stick to the numbers for this case. And while the Electoral College calculus is often noted by Nader defenders as the most reasonable way Gore could have called himself president, this next is rarely cited as a reason he does not.

3. 200,000+ registered Democrats in Florida voted for Bush.

Not only that, but this, from Emily Przekwas at this link (scroll to the bottom):

(O)ver half of the registered Democrats (in Florida) did not vote at all.
Every one of the eight third-party presidential candidates in Florida received more than the 543 votes cited as the deciding factor in the election.

On some discarded ballots, voters both filled in the bubble for their candidate and wrote the candidate's name in the write-in-space. If these had been included in the count, Gore would have had a net gain of 662 votes, enough to win the election.

Yes, we already knew Florida voters were stupid (see next, #4). This is just more proof.

We can only guess as to why so many Democrats abandoned Gore; I only know that I was not one at the time. But it is ridiculous for any Democrat to claim all -- or even a portion -- of Nader's 97,421 votes in Florida and not acknowledge that more than twice that many were lost by Gore to the Republican. This, more than anything else, is why Gore lost. But there is also...

4. Palm Beach County elections supervisor Theresa LePore's butterfly ballot, which cost Gore 6,607 votes... and they were lost to Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. This circumstance goes in the "Murphy's Law" category unless you would choose to ascribe ulterior motives to LePore -- who, feeding the conspiracy theories, was elected as a Democrat and then switched her affiliation after 2000 to independent. I'll leave that alone.

A total of 19,000 of these ballots in this one Florida county were "spoiled" because voters punched two chads (mistakenly thinking they had to select both names, president and vice-president). Bush apparently even lost 1,691 votes himself to Buchanan, in the nebulous divining of 'voter intent'. Read this for more.

These numbers, no matter how they are crunched, shake out to slightly less than the exit-polled 25% of 97,000 Nader voters who claimed they would have voted for Gore otherwise (again Emily Przekwas at the end of the above link) and much less than Nader himself attributes he cost Gore (38%, in his book Crashing the Party). So here's where some people start to lean toward "it was Nader's fault". Thus...

5. A percentage of Nader's votes can be assumed as 'belonging' to Gore in some calculation. In my own experience with Greens, I believe that percentage to be closer to 10% than anything else, but the 25% -- or even 38% -- in the previous is a reasonable premise. Just be aware of the fact that any percentage of Greens voting for Democrats when there is no Green option is completely unpredictable and thoroughly inconsistent from one election to another, and even from one race to another.

There you have it, at last: it really was Ralph's fault.

So, to summarize...

If you are typically in the habit of selecting the fifth-best option first, then go ahead and keep blaming Nader for Gore losing an election he should have won, for several tangible reasons and many more intangible ones as well. Some I haven't mentioned yet include the following: Gore's perceived stiff, wooden personality; heavily sighing several times during one debate with Bush; repeatedly characterizing Social Security as being in a "lockbox"; and a pattern of misstatements by Gore, characterized in the 'inventor of the Internet' crap and the James Lee Watt business, all feeding the narrative the Bush campaign used to define Gore as dishonest, detached, unsympathetic, blahblahblah. (Do we see any parallels to Election 2012?)

In the HBO docudrama Recount, at the very end, actors Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey, in the roles of Gore campaign advisors Michael Whouley and Ron Klain, perform their own post-mortem.

Klain: We should have asked for a statewide from the get-go - that was our biggest mistake.
Whouley: Mm-hmm, and Ralph Nader should've pulled his head out of his ass. And Elian Gonzalez should've never left Miami. And Gore should've campaigned with Clinton. And Clinton should've got caught getting a blowjob from Sharon Stone instead of Monica Lewinsky 'cause then his approval ratings would have shot through the roof. And Katherine Harris should've thought twice about purging 20,000 voters from the rolls. And George Bush, Jr. should have never quit drinking, but he did. It is what it is, pal. Four years from now we'll come back, gather our information and go right back at 'em.
Klain: Even after all the mistakes and all the corruption, we still had about half a day there where the entire state was counting.
Whouley: Mn-hmm, and do you think if W had asked for a recount, the Supreme Court would have stopped it? 

That's pretty much everything I said.

Here's a premise I do NOT buy that is meant to block Gore's theoretical, after-the-fact path to the White House the data above suggests: Karl Rove, proprietor of 'THA Math', claimed that the revelation of Bush's old DUI conviction five days before Election Day "cost him five states".  But there that is, anyway.

We now know, at the very least, that this argument has gone back and forth so many times that it has acquired a depth of truthiness that can barely be plumbed. In defiance of the preponderance of evidence, questionable or not, specific or vague, feel free at this time to cast it all aside. Yes; please throw it away. Here's a plain vanilla emotional appeal. A mental health question, if you prefer.

The only rational response to Nader Derangement Syndrome on the part of Democrats is: "It's been twelve years. When are you going to get over it?".

I don't hear Republicans bitching any more about Ross Perot costing them two elections, 1992 and 1996. And that analysis is quite a bit more certain.

You don't want to be like them, do you?

Sunday Mittoons

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jill Stein comes to Texas next week

Details are still developing, but the schedule at this time is Houston -- specifically  the University of Houston in the afternoon and Lone Star College in Kingwood in the evening -- Thursday October 4th, Austin on Friday the 5th, San Antonio on Saturday the 6th, and back in Houston on Sunday October 7th for a big fundraiser in the afternoon.

Stein is headed to Texas from Denver, the site of next Wednesday's Obama-Romney debate.

As President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney square off in the first presidential debate in Denver on October 3, Democracy Now! will broadcast live from Denver with a special expanded presidential debate from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. CT. We will air the debate, pausing after questions to include equal time responses from two presidential contenders who were shut out of the official debate: Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.

Anderson did not qualify for the ballot in Texas.

More as it is known. Media wishing to interview Stein should e-mail . Here is the Jill Stein for President website.

Update: Stein will speak at the Student Conference Center at Lone Star College, 20000 Kingwood Drive, at 7 p.m. next Thursday, October 4.

This week's epic fails from Texas Republicans

-- Texas comptroller Susan Combs, seeking any tactical advantage her overly-long arms can reach in her stealth bid for lieutenant governor in 2014, is going after Julian Castro and Annise Parker simultaneously via the bond issues on the respective local ballots.

"As taxpayers step into a voting booth to approve new debt, government should tell them how much debt they are already responsible for repaying and how much debt service is included," Combs said in a statement. "Elected officials are responsible for telling the taxpayers they serve about the price tag associated with new and existing debt."
Critics of Combs' report were quick to assert that local governments have been forced to take on essential projects the state has refused to fund.

Yes, it's those pesky unfunded mandates again, especially when it comes to the state constitutionally-mandated public education budgets. Muse did some of the best writing on this, but she has walled off her blog these days and I am not invited. (You, however, may be. Give this post by Big Jolly a click and try the links he has to see.) More from the TexTrib as to how the Lege tried to work around that in the last legislative session. Expect more James White-styled exemptions in the coming one.

The most laughable hypocrisy from "Stretch" was this:

Combs acknowledged that "there is plenty of good debt" that voters approve to help finance highway and water-related projects, for example. Still, she charged that too many governmental bodies are piling up debt without regard to its impact on future generations of Texans. "Have they done all their due diligence? Have they tried as hard as they know how to be strategic, to be careful?"

The first part defeats her purpose of dog-whistling to the Tea Party. The last part is just comical coming from the person who left your Social Security number posted online for a year. Like Mitt Romney, she just cannot pull off a freak-right pander.

-- Greg Abbott wheeled himself into the Kountze cheerleader/prayer banner fray this week.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has offered to help a Southeast Texas school district and its cheerleaders fight a challenge to putting Bible verses on high school football game banners.

Kountze Superintendent Kevin Weldon initially banned the signs after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained. But a judge ordered that the banners continue to be allowed until a court hearing can be held next month.

In a letter to Weldon, Abbott said he was on solid legal ground by allowing the signs. He said his office was prepared to file a brief on the cheerleaders' behalf if the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued.

The conservative Liberty Institute already is defending the cheerleaders, arguing that banning religious speech on student-made signs is discriminatory. 

The Khronically Konservative Kommenters get it right on this one (see the bottom of the link). This is just one more legal case Abbott is bound to lose if the fight is joined.

Update: This is perfect.

-- Robert Miller, the GOP version of the Burnt Orange Report, suddenly noticed there were two other political parties on the ballot.

In Texas, the polling is beginning to show an uptick for Democratic legislative candidates.  We are also seeing the Libertarians poll strongly in Texas this cycle.  Normally, a Libertarian candidate will pull 2% to 3% of the vote in a competitive race between a Republican and a Democrat. 

 In 2012, we are seeing the Libertarians in the 3% to 5%+ range. Every cycle, there are a handful of races where the Libertarian candidate receives more votes than the margin of victory for the Democrat over the Republican.

He's got some fun spreadsheets, but can't come up with the names of the Libertarians and Greens running. Just 'yes' or 'no'.  He even got that wrong in HD-102; there is a Green, Michael Joseph Spanos, contending against Republican incumbent double-token Stefani Carter and Democrat Rich Hancock. She surfed into office on the 2010 Red Tea Tide, but may be more vulnerable in an Obama low-to-medium blue wave. Miller does has some good stuff, though...

Libertarians in the Austin area generally run stronger than any other area of the state, and this could be problematic for (Jason) Isaac and (Tony) Dale.  The Libertarian in HD 144 further strengthens Mary Ann Perez’ position.  However, the lack of Libertarians in the DFW house races and SD 10 is a significant benefit for the Republicans.  Finally, the Green candidate could provide the margin of victory for Harper-Brown in a close race, presuming all of the Green vote would otherwise be Democratic. A Green candidate can be expected to receive about 1% of the vote in a legislative race.
Although there are not that many competitive legislative races in Texas this year, the presence or absence of a Libertarian on the ballot is likely to have a major impact on the end result.

We're all hoping for a bit more influence than what Robert expects. Everybody except red and blue partisans, that is.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stench-Gilligan 2012

Paul Ryan has gone rogue. He is unleashed, unchained, off the hook.
“I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,” Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday.

Note that is not an anonymous, unnamed source.

Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”

I never thought the Republicans would run McCain-Palin 2.0. But then I was fairly worried they would nominate Rick Perry.

Dan Senor, one of Romney’s closest advisers, has kept a tight grip on Ryan, traveling with him everywhere and making sure he hews to the directions of the Romney “brain trust” in Boston. (A brain trust, rumor has it, that refers to Ryan as “Gilligan.”)

This is a locomotive pulling a coal feeder and five passenger cars going over a cliff. A slow motion train wreck. Watching Roger Goodell fumble the NFL's reputation by standing behind scab refs that were fired by the Lingerie Football League is pretty funny as far as clusterfucks go, but this nickname game is simply hilarious.

Roger Simon at Politico even took a shit on Microsoft, for Pete's sake.

(Ryan) did a PowerPoint presentation for the crowd.

According to the National Journal, be began thusly: “I’m kind of a PowerPoint guy, so I hope you’ll bear with me,’ Ryan told the audience as he began clicking through four slides, which showed graphs depicting U.S. debt held by the public from 1940 to present, debt per person in the United States, percentage of debt held by foreign countries and a breakdown of federal spending. He then launched into a 10-minute monologue on the federal debt.”

A word about PowerPoint. PowerPoint was released by Microsoft in 1990 as a way to euthanize cattle using a method less cruel than hitting them over the head with iron mallets. After PETA successfully argued in court that PowerPoint actually was more cruel than iron mallets, the program was adopted by corporations for slide show presentations.

Conducting a PowerPoint presentation is a lot like smoking a cigar. Only the person doing it likes it. The people around him want to hit him with a chair.

PowerPoint is usually restricted to conference rooms where the doors are locked from the outside. It is, therefore, considered unsuited for large rallies, where people have a means of escape and where the purpose is to energize rather than daze.

Ryan’s PowerPoint slides were officially labeled: “Our Unsustainable Debt (U.S. Debt Held by Public as a Share of Economy),” “Your Share of the Debt,” “Who Funds Our Reckless Spending?” and “How the Government Spends Your Money.”

The Romney campaign was furious. But Ryan reportedly said, “Let Ryan be Ryan and let the Stench be the Stench.” 

Don't get overconfident, Democrats. Romney will make a little comeback next week and throughout October as the debates give him some life. He's had a lot of practice over the past twelve months, and lots of rehearsal lately. But the only question in my mind is not whether the Democrats can hold the Senate; it's whether they can actually return the gavel to Speaker Pelosi.

That would certainly trigger the rumored Republican meltdown.

Stand far back, so that you don't get too much brain matter splashed on you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Votes now being cast in almost half the states

Sick of the ads, the talking heads, the mailers stuffed in your box, the slimy disgusting attacks, and the whole thing generally? Too bad you live in Texas and aren't old or infirm; you could be getting it over with.

Before this month is over, residents in 30 states will be voting. And when Election Day dawns, more than 45 million Americans are expected to have already voted, a record number. At least a third of American voters probably will lock in their choices before Nov. 6.

Although the two candidates have yet to debate, voting by mail is under way in two dozen states, with more to follow.

In Washington state, where voting is entirely by mail, more than 57,000 ballots for military and overseas voters were mailed Friday; the rest of the ballots will be mailed Oct. 19. All ballots must be returned by Nov. 6.

In three states — Idaho, South Dakota and Vermont — voters already can show up in person.

In Harris County, Clerk Stanart expects to mail 100,000 ballots.

County Clerk Stan Stanart, dubbing this the “Super Bowl of elections,” said late last week that his office had received about 45,000 mail ballot requests. Stanart said he expects about 100,000 mail ballot requests; in 2008, the clerk’s office received 80,059. Voters eligible to vote by mail can request a ballot until Oct. 30.

We have to hope Stanart doesn't turn in another NFL-replacement-referee performance.

Early voting in-person begins October 22; here is where you can do that. Want to know who's on the ballot? Here you go.

All this early voting changes the dynamic of the presidential contest.

As reported today by MSNBC, early voting is now underway in twenty-five states and will increase to thirty states by the end of the month. It is expected that one-third of all ballots cast will be through early voting, either in-person or by absentee ballot, before the November 6 election. That is an increase from 30% in 2008 and 20% in 2004.


This improvement in the franchise has reduced the impact of several factors that have marred turnout and/or swung previous elections — one way or the other — due to late-occurring events. With so many voters casting early ballots, the impact of late advertising blitzes is diminished, particularly in swing states where many votes are already cast before the final weeks when the air waves are awash with even more wall-to-wall, thirty second spots touting one candidate after another. Also, the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate will have a lessened impact, as will the possible effect(s) of any last-minute ‘October Surprise.’

More on that.

Early voting can insulate a candidate against a damaging gaffe or negative news story in the closing weeks before Election Day. The disclosure of a decades-old drunken-driving charge against George W. Bush five days before the 2000 election may have cost him as many as five states, Rove, his chief strategist, later wrote. Late damage might be reduced this year, when more than 35 percent of the vote is expected to be cast early, compared with less than 15 percent in 2000.

So if Bush's DUI hadn't been revealed... Democrats would still be blaming Gore's loss on Ralph Nader.

(I have a long post undergoing final edits disproving this stubborn urban legend.)

Still undecided about who to vote for?

No, seriously.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll took a deeper look at the undecided voters in three battleground states, for instance, and concluded that “these are voters who simply aren’t paying attention.” One third did not feel they knew enough to give President Obama a job rating, for instance.

Sixty percent of self-described undecided voters could not identify Speaker John Boehner as a member of the House of Representatives, according to a YouGov poll done for the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project.

 Undecided voters are less partisan, less engaged, and only now starting to make up their minds for the 2012 vote, GOP pollster Whit Ayers said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg told CNN’s Candy Crowley these voters may not even make it to the polls as they focus on other parts of their lives.

Yes... like working two and three jobs, taking care of their children, camping out for the new IPhone, or playing Angry Birds all day. Mitt Romney's moochers, in other words.

Nearly 50% of Americans don't bother voting at all, ever. That makes my vote -- and yours -- twice as valuable right off the bat. But more to the point: in a study of California non-/infrequent voters, two-thirds of these said that "special interests control elections".

In a hackable electronic-machine-counting, True the Vote-ing, photo ID-suppressing environment, that's still not enough to stop me.

On the 225th birthday of the United States Constitution, which simultaneously birthed our democratic republic, I share the opinion of former Supreme Court Justice David Souter that fewer and fewer Americans -- paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin -- are inclined to keep it.

There have been more than a few times in recent years when I would have gladly chosen anarchy or revolution ... if only someone else would take charge of the messy business of organizing it. I'm too busy, after all, and don't want any more aggravation in my life.

So instead I vote. I spend time researching the options. I carefully weigh pragmatism versus idealism. In the most difficult of dilemmas I simply eliminate the worst options until I can reach a consensus I can be comfortable with. I even go so far as to share much of what I learn and decide in this space.

Your agreement with my POV is not necessary, does not validate me. Your disagreement, likewise, is not taken as invalidation.

What is necessary -- even vital -- is that you not quit on our republic. That you do not fail to engage yourself in the important issues of the day. That you do not find something else to busy yourself with so as not to be troubled by the critical thinking required to perform your task of citizenship ably and responsibly.

Please forward this post to someone who does not agree with that.

Update: TPM has more data on the now-in-progress 2012 election.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is enjoying the change of seasons as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff took a deeper look at that Wilson-Perkins poll of Texas.

Three Harris County judicial candidates and two Greens -- one for US House of Representatives and one for US Senate -- received the coveted Brainy Endorsement last week from PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

 BossKitty at TruthHugger knows this just another season for political science experiments on the voting public. Let's see how well they do on transportation funding, the Voting Rights Act, and voter ID: Generalizations: Politics is Science and we are all test subjects.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson posted about his afternoon at the Texas Tribune Festival.

Libby Shaw asks What is Mitt hiding? Find out what she thinks it is at TexasKaos.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted about donations he made to both Green Presidential nominee Jill Stein and to President Obama. Neil said that Ms. Stein is best on issues such as our rigged economy, climate change, and the freedom to dissent. He also said that those who think there is no difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are simply wrong.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that polluters can do untold damage and be liable for only $2 million, thanks to Republicans and their crony capitalism.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Political debates schedule (more than just Obama and Romney)

-- You've probably already seen the Commission on Presidential Debates' October schedule of the traditional three-P-and-one-VP. Free and Equal has also scheduled a presidential debate between Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and Virgil Goode on Tuesday, October 23rd, in Chicago. They're still waiting on RSVPs from Obama and Romney. No, seriously.

Free & Equal Elections Foundation gained national attention in 2008, when it hosted the only Presidential debate in the country in which every candidate who had ballot access in enough states to become President was invited. Both Ralph Nader and Chuck Baldwin participated in 2008, and Free & Equal is seeking to increase that number for the 2012 election. The debate made history, being the first and only all-inclusive, nationally televised debate on C-SPAN2. 

The Libertarians are suing the CPD, the Dems, and the Repubs because of being excluded from the Obama-Romney matches, but their legal argument doesn't appear to hold a great deal of water.

If you would like to see Stein, Johnson, Goode and/or Rocky Anderson added to the CPD roster, you can sign a petition here.

-- Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly plan a faceoff that should be worth exceedingly more than the $4.95 pay-per-view price. Count me in on that.

-- Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler have two debates scheduled in Dallas next month, both to be televised. They likewise haven't invited David Collins or John Jay Myers to participate. Myers has been busy protesting that decision as well, just not inside a courtroom. The Green and Libertarian senatorial candidates are holding discussions about having their own debate, and I'll post news about that if/when it breaks.

-- Nick Lampson and Randy Weber (CD-14, to replace Ron Paul) had a debate scheduled this past week but Weber canceled. The two have another one on the calendar for October 3rd in Clear Lake.

-- And Pete Gallego and Quico Canseco (CD-23) will debate en Espanol next Tuesday the 25th in a contest that will last for an hour, but be edited down to 30 minutes and then televised on Sept. 29th. The Alpine Daily Planet, Gallego's hometown newspaper, has more. Once again, their Green and Libertarian counterparts -- Ed Scharf and Jeffrey C. Blunt, respectively -- are not invited to join them in any language.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Juan Percent

"Pathetic" moves forward to "absurd".

Mitt Romney appeared on Univision Wednesday alongside Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, but something was a little peculiar about his appearance -- his skin tone. Looking back at the hundreds of photos logging his every moment on the campaign trail, the Republican presidential nominee is usually not so shockingly tan.

While his orangey-brown appearance on Univision could have been the result of bad lighting or a makeup mishap, left-wing blog the Democratic Underground concluded that Romney "dyed his face brown for his Univision interview."

The claim is not completely out of the ballpark. After all, as Gawker points out, Romney did say "it would be helpful to be Latino," in a video secretly recorded at a campaign fundraiser earlier this year.

It would be an appropriately sensitive response at this point to feel sorry for the guy, but his acute disingenuousness makes that impossible.

Only the George McGovern campaign of 1972 rivals Romney's in terms of self-destructiveness in the modern era. I see no way for the Republicans to regain any kind of momentum at this point, no matter how much money they raise and spend, no matter how nasty their attacks get.

The debates are going to be pure comedy gold. You can just feel it, can't you?

Update: Nobody skewers it like Esteban Colberto.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brainy Endorsements: David Collins

David B. Collins is the Green Party's candidate for US Senate, running to replace the retiring Kay Bailey Hutchison. The Republicans have tapped Ted Cruz, of course; Paul Sadler is the Democratic nominee. (Cruz and Sadler are scheduled to debate twice, on Tuesday, October 2 and on Friday, October 19.) The Libertarian Party's pick is John Jay Myers.

As you perhaps recall from some of my earlier posts, I have never been inclined to support Sadler. While he may be experienced and even competent if elected, his values are simply too conservative to be a match for mine. He went past the point of no return when he declared in a debate with Grady Yarbrough prior to the runoff election in June that "the people of this country are not ready for" the decriminalization of marijuana, despite the Texas Democratic Party's platform position and all polling evidence to the contrary.

Never mind conservatism. This demonstrates, to me, a cluelessness of Romneyesque proportions.

I perceive that a prospective Senator Paul Sadler would be the Bluest of Dogs, in the Joe Lieberman/Ben Nelson of Nebraska tradition. And I'm sorry, Democratic pals, that's just not enough of an improvement over Cruz for me to be able to vote for.

You may remember that Sadler entered the contest very late, after the withdrawal of presumptive Democratic annointee Ricardo Sanchez. I suspect this happened at the urging of newly-appointed TDP official Bill Brannon, like Sadler an East Texas conservative Democrat. There is, as I referenced here, a mildly delusional school of thought that Texas can be turned blue by working the Big Thicket a little harder for votes. My humble O about that premise: they must have found some of the marijuana fields in the woods while they were looking for Democrats.

You'll have better luck going after Bigfoot, boys.

Charles Kuffner, bless his heart, has pimped Sadler hard, particularly for fundraising purposes, but the reality of Texas is what it is. Despite the slivers of hope expressed elsewhere online for each man, Sadler has even less chance of winning Texas than does Barack Obama. Ted Cruz will draw more crossover votes from Latino Democrats who will split their tickets based on surname alone than the Democrat will capture of the mythological Republican ticket-splitters.

This is getting really embarrassing for Sadler, frankly. If you've been reading the campaign's e-mail, you know what I'm talking about.

When the Texas TeaBagger goes to Washington next January, he will join Rand Paul's caucus of kooks to defy, deny and obstruct everything that comes before the upper chamber -- no matter how despicable -- just as they have for the past four years. Texas is the primary reason why the Senate Republicans, led by John Cornyn, can do things like filibuster a jobs bill for veterans. And no amount of money is going to do anything to change it.

So given this sad set of circumstances, only a Pyrrhic victory is possible... which is to say that if Cruz fails to reach 60% of the November 6th tally, everyone who is not beet red all over their body can cling to some hope for sanity for the future of Texas.

As with the presidential contest here in the Lone Star, because the outcome is foreordained voters can free themselves from obligation to their respective tribes, and in the secrecy of the ballot booth can -- and are encouraged -- to vote their consciences. Republicans: if Cruz is just too crazy for you, cast a vote for the Libertarian. To Democrats, especially those in the Democratic wing of the TDP: you have a better, more progressive option. As Collins says: "No STDs, please" (straight-ticket-Democrat).

I have to say: as much as I know it is going to piss off my Democrat friends -- maybe former friends at this point -- I just love that.

Here's a bit on Collins from the San Antonio Current in the summer, at the Greens' state convention.

David Collins walked to the front of the Hill Country cabin with a green toga draped over shirt, tie and slacks, a throwback, he said, to mankind's first republic: the Roman Senate. "The toga has great symbolic significance for me," he said, "and I've felt myself to be politically and spiritually green for a long time." Staring down at the getup, Collins laughed. "I would run for office naked if I thought the Green Party would benefit from it."

And here's the video of that.

Collins is pragmatic about his chances, which is what I like about him as much as his stand on the issues. The US Senate race, even more than the presidential one, is a referendum on how more or how less Tea-drunk our state is at this moment. The choices, again, are:

  1. Batshit conservative (overfunded and overpublicized)
  2. Moderately conservative (underfunded and under-publicized, the usual circumstance for Democrats running for statewide office in Texas)
  3. An unknown progressive candidate
  4. And an unknown Libertarian (who seems both less crazy than Ted Cruz at times and more so at others)

So what do you have to lose by not following the herd? The two races at the top of your ballot represent the best chance to send a protest message to the two major parties in a long, long, time.

So send it.

Collins is in the DFW area today for two events and back in Houston on Friday to join a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. Find him also on Facebook here. You can watch more video of Collins here and also on the Greenwatch channel here, along with SD-17 senatorial candidate David Courtney and Harris County constable candidate Carlos Villalobos, about whom I will post in the future.

Personally I would like to see Collins and Myers debate each other if they wind up being excluded from the Cruz-Sadler matches. How about you?

Brainy Endorsements so far include the following...

Nile Copeland for the First Court of Appeals
Alfred and GC Molison for HD 131 and SBOE, respectively
Henry Cooper for HD 148
Keith Hampton for Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Barbara Gardner for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Don Cook for Congress, 22nd District
Max Martin for Congress, 36th District
Remington Alessi for Harris County Sheriff
David Courtney for Texas Senate, District 17
Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector
Ann Johnson for HD-134
Mike Engelhart, Larry Weiman, and Al Bennett for the Harris County bench
Mark Roberts for Congress, 2nd District

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brainy Endorsements: Mark Roberts

Mark A. Roberts is the Green Party's nominee for US Congress, District 2. The GOP incumbent is Ted Poe; the Democratic nominee is Jim Dougherty, and the Libertarian candidate is Kenneth Duncan.

This map shows the gerrymandering performed on CD-2 by the Republicans, after all of the court wrangling. The district is commonly referred to now as "The Giant Shrimp", and as you can note, it lost all of the area of Southeast Texas (Jefferson and Liberty counties) and was moved entirely into Harris County, and now includes inner loop -- and bright blue -- neighborhoods of Montrose and West University, immediately west of the Texas Medical Center (recall we had a discussion previously about district lines in the TMC when James Cargas -- and subsequently Evan Mintz of the Houston Chronicle''s editorial board -- got confused). The district's PVI is R+13 according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index Wiki page, but that data is aged. I suspect --without being able to confirm -- that the new district has gotten a bit more purple.

Dougherty, an attorney and CPA, filed to run almost on the deadline last December, and told me he felt like 'somebody had to challenge' Poe. I like Jim Dougherty personally, and have supported him in his previous bids for public office (HD-134 in 2004, Harris County DA in 2000), but when I learned he excoriated Rachel Van Os in her recent bid for TDP chair -- publicly, and to her face -- essentially for being a progressive, I was forced to step away from endorsing his candidacy.

I am capable of supporting a few moderate and conservative Democrats -- like Max Martin for one, and Nick Lampson for another -- but I cannot do so when there is a better progressive running, and especially not when it's a candidate as solid as Mark. From his authors' bio page...

Roberts is a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He has been teaching full-time and part-time for twenty-five years. Currently he is a social studies and language arts instructor for a small private school in Houston, TX. Chinavare's Find began as a character sketch in a creative writing class in the early 90's, and gradually morphed into a novel.

Here's Mark's introductory video.

Roberts makes as clear and obvious an elucidation of what Greens feel are the problems -- and their solutions to them -- as you will find. If you don't know or understand what the Green Party is all about, then watch this video. If you still don't understand after watching, then you probably won't ever get it. That's okay, because you still have the option of voting for the same old corporate thing and expecting a different result.

Mark's campaign has some cute slogans:

If the Republicans have your seeing red,
and the Democrats leave you feeling blue,
Vote Green!


 If you believe in the proper removal and disposal of petrified dead wood clogging the community, then remove Ted Poe and vote Green!

Roberts is, in short, exactly the kind of "Mr. Smith" we need more of in Washington. The voters of Texas' 2nd Congressional District would be well-served by replacing Ted Poe with Mark Roberts.

Find Mark also on Faceboook here.

Prior Brainy Endorsements have included the following:

Nile Copeland for the First Court of Appeals
Alfred and GC Molison for HD 131 and SBOE, respectively
Henry Cooper for HD 148
Keith Hampton for Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Barbara Gardner for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Don Cook for Congress, 22nd District
Max Martin for Congress, 36th District
Remington Alessi for Harris County Sheriff
David Courtney for Texas Senate, District 17
Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector
Ann Johnson for HD-134
Mike Engelhart, Larry Weiman, and Al Bennett for the Harris County bench

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ed Emmett, Don Sumners, and "esperanza"

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has brokered a deal with the Texas secretary of state to restore about $700,000 in funding the state had cut off after the county tax assessor said he would not purge presumed-dead voters from the rolls before the Nov. 6 election.

Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners on last week said he would delay the purge after hundreds of very-much-alive voters called his staff, upset about a letter they had received from his office saying they may be dead and would be removed from the rolls if they did not act within 30 days.

Those voters were on a list of about 9,000 names generated by the Secretary of State's Office using data from the Social Security Administration's master death file, as mandated by a new state law.

State officials, saying the purge is required by law, accused Sumners of jeopardizing the integrity of the election and cut off his voter registration funding. Sumners had received about $31,000 of an expected $732,404 this year before being shut off, secretary of state spokesman Rich Parsons said. 

When this news broke last week -- along with the subsequent developments -- my first reaction was the same as everyone else's: "I'll be damned; Don Sumners did the right thing". As I thought about it some more -- given Sumners' inherent Tea Party bias -- I began to wonder if this wasn't some kind of three-dimensional chess game, where Sumners would be able to disenfranchise last-minute registrations, hang a 'Mission Accomplished' banner at the King Street Patriots' headquarters, and avoid being seen as the bad guy. (Texas SOS Esperanza "Hope" Andrade is, after all, appointed by the governor and thus unaccountable to public opinion.)

But then I remembered: this is Don Sumners. He can't be trusted to pull on his boxers with the snap in front. Even Ed Emmett knows this.

Emmett blamed Sumners for the mix-up, revealing the tax office had been sent two lists by the secretary of state, but only acted on one. One list included 9,000 names the state considered "weak" matches to death records. The second list was composed of about 1,000 names considered "strong" matches to death records.

Sumners' office only sent letters to voters on the "weak" list. Sumners, who serves as the county's chief voter registrar, acknowledged his office erred, believing until late last week that the 1,000 names on the "strong" list were among the 9,000 on the other list.

Emmett's deal is based on the "strong" list. The secretary of state has agreed to restore Sumners' funding if the taxman sends letters to the names on the strong list, canceling those whose relatives confirm they are dead and removing from the voter rolls those for whom there is no response after 30 days, Parsons said.

Everybody -- yes, even Democrats -- believes the deceased ought to be removed from the voter rolls. Only a few people who drink too much tea and watch too much Fox News believe it's a good idea to do it the way Sumners did it, especially less than two months before Election Day. He must have gotten a lot of calls from allegedly dead Republicans to have reversed himself so quickly.

To the larger issue of voter disenfranchisement generally -- and the growing franchise operated by Catherine Engelbrecht -- here's an example of what KSP thinks is happening... and what's really happening.

In Houston, the group targeted the Congressional district represented by Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who is black. Ms. Engelbrecht said the group settled on Ms. Lee’s district because thousands of addresses there housed six or more registered voters, which it took as an indication of inaccurate registrations. The methodology, which the group still uses, could disproportionately affect lower income families. 

Volunteers spent five months analyzing 3,800 registrations in Ms. Lee’s district, discovering more than 500 voters that the group said were problematic. More than 200 voters were registered at vacant lots, prompting Ms. Engelbrecht to later remark that those voters had a “Lord of the Rings Middle Earth sort of thing going on.” 

The reality was far less interesting. 

“They had one particular case I remember very well,” said Douglas Ray, the Harris County assistant attorney who represents the election registrar. “They had identified an address where eight or 10 people were registered to vote. There was no building there.” Mr. Ray found out that the building had been torn down and that the people simply moved. 

This would be another example of conservatives really having no understanding -- and even less empathy -- of how the poverty-stricken live their lives.

My feeling is that most independent voters are as sick of sneering plutocrats and oligarchs as the the rest of us. But we'll have to wait and see what the poll that concludes on November 6 says.

That's moving from esperanza and toward surety every day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy 225th birthday, Constitution

A message from Move to Amend.

Today is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the day the US Constitution was ratified in 1787.
Breaking from the tyranny of the British Empire was an important victory. Most of us have seen the paintings of the Founding Fathers in that historic moment, and heard stories about how our country came to be.

But there’s a problem with those paintings and stories: there are a lot of people missing.
At the time the Constitution was ratified, only about 8% of people living in America qualified as “legal persons.” That means that 92% of people didn’t qualify for those inalienable rights that are supposed to be innate to all human beings – they were too poor, the wrong sex, or not white enough.

That’s a whole lot of people to leave out of a democratic republic.

Today's also the the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement. On a day when percentages like 47% are all the news, it's important to be reminded that if the 99% all went to the polls in 50 days, the 1% wouldn't matter.

Luckily, though, the 92% weren’t about to take this sitting down. From the Constitution’s adoption, our forefathers and mothers spent decades organizing and agitating to make the promise of American democracy a reality.

Ordinary people are the ones who gave us the political rights that we associate with the Constitution today – they insisted the Bill of Rights be added, and they fought for the additional amendments to secure equality. They also realized that they would not be free until they secured economic democracy as well.

That’s why many states set up laws to hold the most powerful form of concentrated capital in check: the corporation. They legally required that corporations serve the public good, that charters expire after a short period, that yearly revenues be capped, that shareholders be local, and that corporations couldn’t spend a single penny in elections!

These folks were on their way to political and economic equality!

But the wealthy elite fought back too. The Supreme Court made corporations legal persons – before they would acknowledge women’s right to vote and while they approved Jim Crow laws that denied African Americans their rights to equal protection.

So on this year’s Constitution Day, we at Move to Amend ask you to imagine what it would look like if the picture had been different. What if women, the poor, the indigenous and people of color had written the Constitution? What kind of country would they have created? And what would democracy look like if it actually represented all people?

Join Move to Amend in our struggle to amend the Constitution to return human rights back to real people, not corporations – find your local group or start one near you. And then join us as we embark on the even bigger task of creating the kind of democracy we have never actually seen in this country: one where "We the People" – all people – create the world that we want to see.

Local blogger Egberto Willies can answer any question you may have about the Houston effort.

Update: Only tangentially related, PBS has a lengthy interview and video excerpts with former Supreme Court Justice David Souter on the occasion. Here's just one piece, from the end.

The greatest threat to America's republican form of government won't come from foreign invasion, or military coup, he said, but from what he described as "the pervasive civic ignorance" of Americans today.

Because of cutbacks in civic education from the 1970s onward, and exacerbated by the No Child Left Behind law, two-thirds of Americans today don't even know that their country has three branches of government, he said. So they don't know whom to hold accountable for the country's festering problems. "What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible," he said. "And when the problems get bad enough -- another serious terrorist attack, another financial meltdown -- some one person will come forward and say, 'Give me total power, and I will solve this problem.' That is how the Roman republic fell....That is how democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night."

Hoping against hope to end on an upbeat note, I asked: "Do you think we're losing our ability -- which has always animated our belief in the Constitution and our country -- that we are always perfecting our democracy?"

His reply was anything but hopeful. "I don't think we have lost it. I think it is in jeopardy. I am not a pessimist, but I am not an optimist about the future of American democracy," he said. "We're still in the game, but we have serious work to do, and serious work is being neglected right now."

Does he think we still have the capacity to do what the Framers did over the hot Constitutional Convention summer 225 years ago, which was compromise to overcome our differences? Souter paused. "I would like to think that enough examples of non-compromise are going to start people thinking that there must be a better way to try to govern the country," he replied. 

Brainy Endorsements: Engelhart, Weiman, Bennett

Mike Engelhart, Larry Weiman, and Al Bennett are three Democratic jurists who are all worthy of re-election to the Harris County bench.

Engelhart is a fairly hilarious stand-up comedian and clever blog commenter in addition to his various social media skills (blog, Facebook, Twitter). He's also the only judicial whose bumper sticker currently rides on the back of my truck. Engelhart is hosting a fundraising event for his campaign on September 20 at Hotel Icon. More details on that are here. And here's a video he made for his campaign from '08.

Weiman, also first elected in the 2008 blue wave, has nearly quadrupled the resolution of jury trials for cases in the 80th District Court in which he presides. He earned Democracy for America's endorsement that year. Two items of note from that link...

It is also my goal to eliminate the practice of judges soliciting or accepting campaign contributions from attorneys or parties with active cases before that court.

Finally, it is my goal that after serving my first 4 year term that people from every party as well as independents consider me to be a fair and impartial judge who is courteous, professional, compassionate and decisive.

Indeed you have met those goals, Judge Weiman.

I first met Judge Bennett in 2006, when he contended for HD-146 against Borris Miles and Al Edwards in their first matchup (he finished third). Bennett asked me for my support but I had earlier committed to Miles. I told him than that I was impressed with him and would look forward to supporting his future candidacy in some capacity. That opportunity for me came in 2008, when -- along with Engelhart and Weiman and others -- Bennett joined the group of the first judicial candidates elected to the bench in Harris County since 1992.

Bennett is so highly regarded by his peers that he was elected unanimously by them to serve as administrative judge over all of Harris County's 24 civil courts.

Bennett is holding a fundraiser on September 27 at Farrago (details as they are available). There's little my endorsement adds to his record of accomplishment at this point. I'm just pleased to count him as a friend.

Mike Engelhart, Larry Weiman, and Al Bennett have earned the respect of the attorneys who have practiced in their courts, and they merit return to the Harris County bench by the voters.

Update: The Houston Chronicle joins me in endorsing Weiman and Bennett. And also Engelhart, with this high praise:

Since his election in 2008, Judge Mike Engelhart has been a leader within the Harris County Civil Courts, spearheading e-filing initiatives that save time at the courthouse and money for taxpayers. Inside the courtroom, this Democrat has stood out as one of the hardest-working judges, writing thoughtful opinions where many others would issue quick rulings. Board-certified in personal injury law and fluent in Spanish, Judge Engelhart is among the top judges in the county, if not the state, and deserves another term on the bench. 


Earlier Brainy Endorsements include...

Nile Copeland for the First Court of Appeals
Alfred and GC Molison for HD 131 and SBOE, respectively
Henry Cooper for HD 148
Keith Hampton for Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Barbara Gardner for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Don Cook for Congress, 22nd District
Max Martin for Congress, 36th District
Remington Alessi for Harris County Sheriff
Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector
Ann Johnson for HD-134

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still on a post-convention bounce as it brings you this week's roundup.
Off the Kuff analyzed the latest poll of Texas and its implications.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger is suspicious about the timing of that horrid film clip using the name of Mohammad as a fuse to global meltdown against all things western. She really wants to know WHO is responsible for Opportunistic Sadism and the US Election. But she would rather complain about why America's leaders are so slow to address more imminent hazards to America's children: Half Truths Don’t Protect Our Children From Dirty GOP Toxic Trash.

Paul Sadler, the Democratic candidate for US Senate in Texas, is making the right argument; the question is: will enough voters hear it? WCNews at Eye on Williamson makes it clear: Sadler painting Cruz as an extremist in US Senate race.

Libby Shaw reminds us that Women Will Remember in November . Check it out at TexasKaos now.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know polluters like Exxon and Citgo do harm to real people and our environment.

A point about money and politics had to be made by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, and so he made it.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted that where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet at Cairo, Illinois is the place where he was created. Neil said his point of origin was based on 3 factors. He was looking for creation as a whole. A place where the culture and society he lives in is expressed. And for a place that has been part of his own life. This junction of two great American rivers meets these tests.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Brainy Endorsements: Ann Johnson

Ann Johnson is the Democrat running to represent HD-134, the district I lived in a few years ago, in the Texas House of Representatives. She is challenging a one-term incumbent Republican named Sarah Davis, who barely managed to defeat former state representative (and now Houston councilwoman) Ellen Cohen in 2010. There is no Libertarian or Green candidate competing in this district.

Johnson is both a cancer survivor and an out lesbian as well as an attorney and former prosecutor. From her profile in OutSmart...

Johnson supports Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and points out that the LGBT community would greatly benefit from healthcare reform. “I oppose discrimination in any form,” Johnson says. “Texas, right now, is at the bottom of the barrel, dead-last in the nation for being able to provide care to its citizens. Our governor has taken a position to say that he’s going to keep it that way. I don’t agree with that. Texas has to evaluate whether or not it’s in the best interest of our state, our citizens, and our economy to turn down $76 billion that we have already paid [for our Medicaid program]—money that’s due to come back to the state. Making sure we have healthcare is a benefit to everyone, and that is an equality issue for everybody.” 

Davis, a cancer survivor herself, has shockingly voted against much of the women's health legislation that came before the Texas House in the last session, save the bill mandating transvaginal sonograms for women prior to their choosing to end their pregnancies. Blogger nonsequiteuse has the best interpretation of that dichotomy.

Davis likes to call herself a moderate because that's what HD-134 reflects. The truth is that she is more like Greg Abbott: a person who advocated to change Texas law concerning the health crisis he suffered, and has done all that he could to deny others that which he benefited from.

Meyerland Democratic Club president Art Pronin also notes today on his Facebook page...

TX State Sen Joan Huffman (17) is fundraising for Rep. Sarah Davis. Sen. Huffman is the #1 rated anti-choice senator. She authored the sonogram bill in the Senate and is a key ally of Dan Patrick. She also sponsored the (bill) to defund Planned Parenthood. We must inform the voters of 134: Davis is no moderate and the people surrounding her prove it.

Savvy readers will recall that one of my previous endorsements included the Green running against Huffman in SD-17, David Courtney. So with no alternate candidate in this race, I encourage Greens to support Johnson, and likewise for Democrats, Courtney in SD-17 against Huffman.

This is how we build progressive coalitions, folks.

Charles Kuffner has blogged extensively about the race, including this recent interview with Johnson as well as this post last spring signaling the Davis-Johnson tilt as a bellwether for Democratic House prospects.

Update: The NYT -- via the TexTrib -- has a bit about the contest today.

Representative Sarah Davis, Republican of Houston, is running in a district where both Mr. Obama and Mr. Perry were on the short end. That result for Mr. Perry had something to do with his 2010 opponent — former Mayor Bill White of Houston — but almost everybody thinks she has a race this year against Ann Johnson, her Democratic foe.

Previous Brainy Endorsements include the following:

Nile Copeland for the First Court of Appeals
Alfred and GC Molison for HD 131 and SBOE, respectively
Henry Cooper for HD 148
Keith Hampton for Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Barbara Gardner for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Don Cook for Congress, 22nd District
Max Martin for Congress, 36th District
Remington Alessi for Harris County Sheriff
David Courtney for Texas Senate, District 17
Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector