Thursday, January 31, 2013

See y'all when ya get back.

John at BAH and Boss Kitty at Truthhugger both announced today that they are taking some time off.

Over the last year I've had a hard time sitting down and blogging. I've lost my wit, my mojo, my mojitos, and the blogging I am doing is lame, so I am going off line for a while. Not long, but long enough to find that energy to write. God knows there are plenty of topics to address, maybe too many.

BossKitty is tired of it all. Politics in Texas is a Consumer issue. Those who Consume the most are in charge. Wealthy Texans CONSUME the political environment. Whoever disagrees with the will of the wealthy will be gerrymandered out of their voice, by a bought and paid for Texas State Congress. I know Texas is not the only state where this problem exists. But, this is MY state and I just live here and have to keep my head low … someone may blow it off because I complain about them on this blog. Texas Corruption is only interesting because most Texans are so proud of it. If you ask a Texan why, they really don’t know, except that’s what they are supposed to say. So, after pissing in the wind, while it blows in the wrong direction, BossKitty is taking a break. Call it a Sabbatical …

Blogging is, to paraphrase our nation's 43rd president, hard work. I realize that it doesn't seem so but trust me, it is. Greg is also taking a pause, but that is semi-imposed upon him by his duties in Austin. And I should mention that my brother Neil has placed himself in a timeout with respect to political posts for the most part.

That's quite a few important voices silenced, and it's still January.

Progressive blogging generally has eased as a medium of criticality in the past year or so, despite the resurgence of the left. Even the Great Orange Satan put out a call for donations at the end of 2012 as they watched their advertising revenue fall 30%. There's still plenty of us at the keyboard, even here in Texas, but the urgency and influence of what we write and do has definitely waned. Facebook and Twitter have replaced many people's blog posts, like Rachel and John. There's still lots of lefties with an opinion, they're just sharing it elsewhere.

As for me, I'm not going anywhere. This shop's traffic doubled last year to around five hundred clicks a day -- far from significant in the grand scheme, but a big step after almost ten years of nearly daily snark. I have often been amused at the number of sites which studiously ignore my efforts here, like the Texas Tribune for example. They have never included a link to 'Brains' despite a handful of conversations with Evan Smith and some email exchange with Ross Ramsey. Meh. I might be a little too coarse for their sensibilities.

You can always count on finding a few progressive outlets in the blogroll in the right hand column, from Texas and elsewhere. And they are folks who don't have the highest of profiles but are worthy of your click. We're the ones who -- for the most part -- aren't being paid to do this, you know.

So click over, please. Some days just knowing that somebody out there is paying attention is all that keeps us going. *sniff*

Then again, it's enough for me if I only make one Republican a day grit their teeth.

Update: The editor of The Agonist also announced he is leaving today, after he was offered a two-thirds cut in salary. Update II: The Agonist is, in fact, in the process of imploding. It might still live on in some fashion, but the meta conversations over there seem to along the lines of how it can go with grace (which might already be too late).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pouring like an avalanche

Coming down the mountain. And the GOP cannot get out of the way.

“Elections. Elections.”

That’s why Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential nominee, says it is imperative that his fellow Republicans support comprehensive immigration reform this year.
As he unveiled a bipartisan blueprint for comprehensive reform this afternoon, McCain explained that the GOP had a big reason to pursue a deal this year — in addition to his view that it is the right thing to do from a policy perspective.

“The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens,” he said at a Capitol Hill press conference, flanked by three Democratic senators and two Republican colleagues.

Oh my, how elections have consequences. Comprehensive immigration reform has suddenly caught up with gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization as another one of conservative society's taboos crumbles.

Republicans have every right to feel overwhelmed lately. Between reality busting their bubble in November, to the Newtown/NRA/gun control developments in December, the dinosaurs must feel as if they are in tar up to their pits.

This is a lose-lose for GOP electeds who have to answer to a base that still thinks mass deportation is the solution. They can't compromise, and likewise they can't continue to go down with the ship. Texas Republicans in particular are feeling the squeeze.

In the Senate, if Cornyn and Cruz reject the framework, they will be outsiders with limited influence on shaping the final product that is likely to emerge this spring — even though they are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider the measure.

But if they accept the framework — and its explicit call for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. — they could face a backlash from within their own party.

Likewise, the Texas Republican House delegation — the largest group of GOP lawmakers in Congress — did not produce a single voice supporting the bipartisan Senate framework. If Texas Republicans are naysayers, they could limit their ability to shape the House version of immigration reform.

It was just one week ago that Cornyn sat grimacing on the dais -- along with Boehner and Cantor and Scalia and a handful of others I observed -- as Obama took the oath of office. The stories since then have been about a 'liberal renaissance'. The dawning of a progressive Enlightened Age. The truth is not so much, but that won't mollify anyone on the right.

The point is that this kind of talk does nothing to help Republicans through their lingering depression. Obama's plan for CIR -- to be announced today in Las Vegas -- is rumored to be to the left of what the senators have worked up, which in many ways is no different than what was agreed to five years ago.

But it is far worse in one significant way: the Senate immigration 'treaty' gives veto power to the likes of Jan Brewer, Rick Perry, and Greg Abbott, which would give the GOP great satisfaction... if they were only capable of understanding it.

In a concession to Republicans, the plan would bar those 11 million unauthorized immigrants from seeking permanent legal status until federal border security efforts won the approval of an appointed commission of Southwestern governors, attorneys general and community leaders.

That clause fairly well dooms the bill to failure whether it gets passed on not, IMHO. Still, this counts for progress, whatever occurs in the Congress. Republicans must either continue to stand with the freaks and hope they can hang on for one more election cycle, or do the right thing and risk being primaried from the right *cough*Cornyn*cough*.

Some Republican strategists say that the GOP must find a way to play a constructive role in the ongoing debate — or suffer the consequences at the polls for years to come.

“Comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen this year and Republicans should embrace it and work to improve it,” said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. “At stake is re-branding the Republican Party with Hispanics, an absolutely critical and urgent task, especially so in border states like Texas.”
Key House Republicans to watch in upcoming debates are Reps. Ted Poe of Humble, who angered some on the right by advocating comprehensive reform (without “amnesty”) and Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the former chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and a leading hawk on “amnesty.”

Then there's Steve Stockman.

“The Senate’s proposed plan does not fix our nation’s broken immigration system,” said Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from Friendswood. “It rewards law breaking and encourages a new flood of illegals, perpetuating the very problems it claims to solve.  Our nation’s failed experiments with amnesty have proven it only encourages more illegals willing to wait it out for their turn at free citizenship.”

Here's my blogging compadre Harold Cook with the 2x4 across the GOP's nose the next-to-last word.

“The congressional Republicans from Texas sidelined themselves with their anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric, which has no place in a fast-moving debate in which suddenly the debate has shifted to ‘how much citizenship,’” said Democratic consultant Harold Cook of Austin. “The result is a shameful outcome in which these members of Congress, representing a state with tremendous border real estate, have sidelined themselves completely. That’s not leadership, and it’s not even adequate representation. It’s just ideologues telling far-right voters what they want to hear, at the expense of mainstream Texans.”

Yes, that was a boom and a thud that you heard. As solid as that was, Harold, I have to give your neighbors in central Texas, the Butthole Surfers, the last word.

They were all in love with dyin'
They were doing it in Texas

They were all in love with dyin'
They were drinking from a fountain
That was pouring like an avalanche
Coming down the mountain

Update: Related reading...

BuzzFeed reports that before the Senate plan was announced, Chuck Schumer, Richard Durbin, and Bob Menendez, three of the Democratic senators who worked on the proposal, told LGBT advocates on a conference call that same-sex couples weren't mentioned in their plan. According to an advocate on the call, Schumer said this was done to ensure support from Republican senators. He added that they'd try to add the provision as an amendment, but couldn't guarantee it.

Senators plan to hammer out many of these contentious issues in the coming weeks, and aim to introduce legislation by the end of March. If the bill does wind up giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to immigration, the Washington Post notes that it would be "almost certain to draw opposition from Catholic and Baptist groups that have been supportive of comprehensive reform."

Bringing gay rights and religious freedom into the debate sounds like a good way to make sure immigration reform never passes, but there's still reason to be optimistic. The GOP has finally shifted its stance on the immigration, and BuzzFeed reports that they're getting some coaching on how to talk about the issue in the form of a memo from a Hispanic organization connected with the party. ("Don't use the word 'illegals' or 'aliens,'" and "Don't use the term 'anchor baby.'") 
Angela Kelley, an immigration expert at the Center for American Progress, tells the Post that she sees the various proposals as "a healthy competition." The disagreements between Congress and the White House haven't seemed all that healthy recently, but things might be different this time.

Update II: "Illegal immigration foes despair over GOP moves"...

Marty Lich is ready to bolt.

It's been a couple of years since the self-described conservative considered herself a Republican, but she still often votes for GOP candidates. That's partly because of their tough stands against illegal immigration, which the retired teacher's aide blames for ruining her Southern California hometown and fears could threaten the Colorado mountain community where she now lives.

But Lich and voters like her are watching with despair as more and more Republican politicians edge toward a bipartisan plan that includes a pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. "If the GOP agrees on this amnesty, they're selling out their core values," Lich said. "They'd lose us. They'd lose the votes of people who support them, and they're not going to gain a lot of votes."

There's always the Constitution Party, Marty. Bust a move.

KXL protestors get SLAPPed, plan counterpunch

On Friday, January 25th, a group of activists agreed to a settlement in TransCanada’s lawsuit against Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide North Texas, Rising Tide North America, and nineteen individuals. The SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) alleged that nonviolent direct action against Keystone XL has cost TransCanada $5 million dollars. This contradicts frequent public statements by TransCanada’s spokespeople that blockaders were not impeding construction in any meaningful way.

The eight Texans who came to court to defend themselves on Friday, some of whom had not been actively involved with Tar Sands Blockade since protests in August, were threatened with losing their homes and life’s savings if the lawsuit went forward.
In order to protect the livelihoods and dependents of brave activists like Tammie Carson, who locked herself to a truck carrying Keystone XL pipe, the activists agreed to settle the lawsuit. The corporation will not seek the $5 million in financial damages, and the named defendants and organizations agree to not trespass on Keystone XL property in Texas and Oklahoma or face additional charges.

There is lots going on here that has nothing to with KXL specifically, of course; the inherent unconstitutionality of SLAPPs, the weaponization of them by corporate attorneys despite the infringement of First Amendment exercise, and the broadening of the chilling effects of this sort of action.

Despite this legal setback, members of Tar Sands Blockade are as determined as ever to stop Keystone XL. The sustained direct action campaign will continue. 

Specifics won't be posted here, though, because that gives the authorities the heads-up on how to plan for them.

This is the world we live in now, where corporations do whatever they want without being held liable either in the court of public opinion or in the legal system. When the oil companies own the politicians, there's little chance the public's right to address a concern, have a seat at the table, or even continue breathing clean air is safe.

Civil disobedience is, in fact, the only recourse.

Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, and defendant from Fort Worth, TX, said:

“TransCanada is dead wrong if they think a civil lawsuit against a handful of Texans is going to stop a grassroots civil disobedience movement. This is nothing more than another example of TransCanada repressing dissent and bullying Texans who are defending their homes and futures from toxic tar sands.”

So what could a concerned citizen do besides protest?

One small step in the right direction locally would be to get the two candidates in the runoff for SD-6 to talk about Keystone XL, since the pipeline will terminate in the middle of the senate district. TransCanada, the company building the pipeline -- which veered onto the wrong property in Angelina County, we learned this week -- thought enough of the campaign to sponsor a debate among the candidates. But the topic of the pipeline itself really hasn't been discussed in any meaningful way. "Underpass/overpass" seemed to have a higher profile.

Or maybe we could talk about the money instead.

Something in the neighborhood of $1.4 million dollars was spent by the two frontrunners during the open primary, resulting in less than 6% of the district's voters turning out to cast a ballot. That is its own embarrassment, but again, I wouldn't expect the fundamentals of that fact to see much daylight. Greg has an opinion about it that echoes the same "shrug-whaddaya-gonna-do" aspect that the topic of campaign finance reform generates at roundtables full of paid political consultants.

None of the powers that be -- all the way down to the blogosphere -- are apparently intent on making much difference in the way things are. You know, in the real world. That's why it is left to the people who are willing to risk arrest, and then SLAPP suits, to wake everybody else up.

Yesterday's World Action Day had protestors at the Canadian consulate in Houston, the state Capitol in Austin, and elsewhere across America and Canada. But you didn't see or hear much about that in the corporate media, did you?

There will another protest in DC in a few weeks.

Of course we could all continue ignoring the protests and just wait and see what happens.

Update: Related...

San Antonio Current: "Environmentalists and communities await a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, so does Valero"

But as efforts ramped up in the East Texas woods, blockaders also began organizing in the neighborhoods near the Houston Ship Channel, an area long clouded by petrochemical haze. With local environmental justice groups, they started giving tours of the nearby refineries. They particularly took to Manchester, a small Hispanic enclave that lies in the shadow of Valero's Houston refinery.

"We found a community that's been oppressed for decades," Seifert asserts. Blockaders decided they wouldn't just target the pipeline, but the refiners, too. They started filming, photographing, and interviewing families, hearing common fence-line community ailments: headaches, respiratory problems, asthma, rashes, and cancer. Yudith Nieto, 25, a lifelong resident of Manchester who started organizing with the blockaders, says, "Almost everyone I know here has trouble breathing."

On November 29, the blockaders escalated. Diane Wilson, a longtime environmental justice and jail reform activist, locked her neck to an oil tanker truck with a bicycle U-lock. Friend and fellow activist Bob Lindsey Jr. did the same. "Quite frankly, the Gulf Coast is a sacrifice zone," Wilson told the Current once released from the Harris County jail. "I have no time for holding hands, walking around in circles, and demonstrating. There has to be pressure."

Think Progress: Confirmation Of Climate Hawk Kerry As Secretary Of State May Doom Dirty Keystone XL Pipeline

Once again, I do not think that a man who had dedicated his Senate career to fighting catastrophic climate change would start his term as Secretary approving the expansion of one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels in the world.

Update (January 31):

Activist interrupts pipeline conference, releases photos of flawed welds on Keystone XL pipeline
Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel, The Woodlands, TX – 9 AM this morning, TransCanada executive Tom Hamilton’s presentation of a Keystone XL case study at the Pipe Tech Americas 2013 conference was interrupted when a blockader chained himself to the projector screen and delivered a speech to the nearly 300 attendees. Hamilton, the Manager of Quality and Compliance for the Keystone Pipeline, was supposed to give a forty-minute talk about safety and regulations related to the southern portion of the KXL pipeline. Instead, Tar Sands Blockade organizer Ramsey Sprague gave an impassioned rebuttal highlighting TransCanada’s poor safety record.

Sprague described shoddy welding practices and dangerous corner-cutting throughout TransCanada’s operations as exposed by whistleblowers like Evan Vokes, a metallurgic engineer who came forward in May 2012, leading to an investigation by Canada’s National Energy Board. Sprague reminded attendees that TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline has already leaked over 30 times and that other industry leaders such as Enbridge are similarly negligent, with over 800 spills since 1999. He derided TransCanada for routing the KXL pipeline through ecologically sensitive areas and through communities like the one in Douglass, TX, where construction crews are actively laying pipe within sight of the Douglass public school.

“TransCanada’s safety record is beyond deplorable,” said Ramsey Sprague, “Their wanton disregard for the health of our communities is demonstrated by their countless toxic tar sands spills. I’m compelled to take action today and shed light on the dangerous material this multinational corporation is pumping through our homes.”

Sprague also described how activists who blockaded themselves inside the actual KXL pipe on December 3rd could see daylight through holes in welds connecting segments of pipe – and how Tar Sands Blockade has the pictures to prove it. That mile-long section of the pipe was laid in the ground on the same day; no additional welding or inspection occurred after the photos were taken.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for the Super Bowl -- and a ruling in the school finance lawsuit -- as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff notes the scandalous failure of the state's replacement Women's Health Program.

Rick Perry and Greg Abbott threatened hugged each other at the big Anti-Woman Rally in Austin this past weekend. There is obviously a lot more on each man's agenda than ending womens' reproductive freedom in Texas. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks they're circling each other like a couple of rabid dogs.

Despite the announcement this week of Battleground Texas, WCNews at Eye on Williamson makes clear that hard work is the only thing that will insure future Democratic success in Texas.

Over at TexasKaos lightseeker spells out what is at stake in Dan Patrick's attack on public education, or as he calls it, his free choice voucher initiative. Check it out: Charter Schools - Making Inequality a Permanent Feature of Texas Education.

The Washington Post endorses the completion of Keystone XL and McBlogger, predictably, gets upset.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to know Texas Republicans are continuing their war on women and their war on sanity. No surprises here.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote that scientists have discovered that binary star systems would in fact be suitable for life, but would have an odd climate and a strangely shaped habitable zone. This seems not much unlike everyday life here on Earth and in America.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"If you run for governor, I'll kill ya."

Caption attributable to either man.

Attorney General Greg Abbott doesn't want to talk about whether he's seeking the governorship, but he is in overdrive on all the issues that make him a leading contender for the GOP nod, even if Gov. Rick Perry runs for re-election.

I would like to see a contested gubernatorial primary, but my instinct is that Rick Perry is going to make another run for president in 3.9 years. No reason he can't do both, of course.

It appears Abbott is determined not to prod the competitive Perry into running for re-election to show he can beat him the way he did then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2010 — a comparison Perry was quick to make when a TV station asked him about word that Abbott was telling donors he was aiming at the top job.

“I've been underestimated many times before,” Perry told Austin television station KVUE.

Perry, who's leaving the door open to a re-election run in 2014 and another White House bid in 2016, plans to disclose his plans in June, after the regular legislative session ends.

Abbott has multiple options as well.

“Everything is pure speculation until this summer, but I can envision virtually no scenario where Perry and Abbott face off against each other,” said lobbyist Ray Sullivan, Perry's former gubernatorial chief of staff and his former presidential campaign communications director.

Sullivan cited the men's friendship, similar philosophies and partnership on policy.

Some think Perry will decide not to run; others say that if Perry runs, Abbott will aim instead for lieutenant governor.

“There are a myriad of possibilities,” Sullivan said.

GOP consultant Matt Mackowiak also considers it more likely that the two will find a way to avoid a contest.

“Someone told me once if Abbott was smart, he would go find Rick a job,” Mackowiak said.

Heh heh huh huh, chuckled Beavis. But what do the most important people say... you know, the ones who write the fat checks?

What major donors decide will be key, said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones, who suggested they might think it's better for the party's future to ease out Perry.


Among GOP donors, many are giving to both Perry and Abbott, though others are not.
Of the 42 largest donors to the two candidates in 2012 — those who gave more than $50,000 to Perry, to Abbott or to the two combined — 26 gave to both, according to an analysis by Texans for Public Justice, which tracks money in politics. Of the rest, one gave no money to Abbott, and 15 didn't donate to Perry.

Nearly $5 million of the combined 2012 donations to Abbott and Perry came from these donors, with nearly $2 million to Perry and nearly $3 million to Abbott.

Wouldn't a faceoff between the two be in the interests of the corporate media, for all the advertising revenue they have become increasingly dependent upon? Not to mention the political advisors holding targeted mail lists for donors and voters.

We are, of course, already aware of this financial windfall locally in the SD-6 special election... and now the runoff. It's going to be a good two-year cycle for the people who make their living consulting politicians on their campaigns. It's already off to a great start.

Update: Rick Perry: "Greg Abbott won't run for governor against me"

In an exclusive interview with Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday, he said Attorney General Greg Abbott has told him he won't run against him in next year's GOP primary should the incumbent seek reelection.

A spokesman for Abbott's campaign issued a statement saying he wasn't familiar with any such deal, and called any speculation about the attorney general's political future "unproductive."

One takeaway from yesterday


Even some of Alvarado’s closest political allies privately concede defeating Garcia will be difficult, especially after trailing in this weekend’s election. Garcia’s lead in the general election will help her attract campaign funds from contributors hoping to buy favor with the next state senator. 

Charles has more if you need it. Has anyone calculated the per-vote expense for the two runoff participants yet?

Sunday Funnies

“President Obama’s inaugural parade (featured) eight floats, including a Hawaii float to honor his birthplace, an Illinois float to honor the first lady’s home state, and a Kenyan float just to mess with Republicans.”

-- Jimmy Fallon

"Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant on Wednesday asked state legislatures to declare President Obama's new gun control proposals 'illegal.' Though I'm not sure if the Mississippi state legislature has that kind of power since it's just thirty hissing possums in a barn." 

-- Seth Meyers

Speaking of torture...

"Yes, lip-gate. Beyonce-gate. The crisis in Lip-ya. Beyonc-gazi ... If Beyonce lip-synced at Obama's inaugural, do you know what that means? If so, please write in because I'd love to know why I'm so angry!"

-- Stephen Colbert

"Rick Perry said Obama's suggestions for gun control disgust him. He said the real answer to this problem isn't laws, it's prayer. I know you're not supposed to say this about elected officials, but I would pay to see Rick Perry defend himself against a school shooter with prayer." 

-- Bill Maher

 "I guess that's just a crazy fantasy, Rick Perry in a school." 

-- Bill Maher

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Results for SD-6 *updates*

7:20 pm: Here are the candidate tallies for the early voting period of the Senate District 6 special election today, as reported at last by the Harris County Clerk.

Sylvia Garcia - 49.19%
Carol Alvarado - 41.65
RW Bray - 3.8
Dorothy Olmos - 1.77
Rodolfo 'Rudy' Reyes - 0.72
Joaquin Martinez - 2.25
Susan Delgado - 0.29
Maria Selva - 0.34

The only question is whether Garcia can avoid a runoff. This was her stated intention, going all the way back at least as far as our blogger's luncheon in December.


If a runoff election is necessary, when it occurs would depend heavily on what Gov. Rick Perry decides. Harris County elections officials have 10 days to canvass Election Day results, while Perry’s office has 14, according to the Secretary of State. The governor’s canvass can’t take place until the county finishes its canvass, and the governor has five days after his canvass to order the runoff election. The runoff would have to be set on a date between the 12th and 25th day after Perry ordered it, and it must take place on a Tuesday or a Saturday.

Update (8:05 pm): With another 1200 votes counted, a runoff looks more likely.

Sylvia Garcia - 47.87%
Carol Alvarado - 42.08
RW Bray - 4.45
Dorothy Olmos - 1.96
Rodolfo 'Rudy' Reyes - 0.73
Joaquin Martinez - 2.27
Susan Delgado - 0.29
Maria Selva - 0.35

Update (8:30 pm): With 79% of precincts in --178 of 226 -- and 14,419 votes counted, the race tightens slightly again. About 650 votes separate the top two.

Sylvia Garcia - 45.99%
Carol Alvarado - 41.9
RW Bray - 5.74
Dorothy Olmos - 2.74
Rodolfo 'Rudy' Reyes - 0.83
Joaquin Martinez - 2.44
Susan Delgado - 0.28
Maria Selva - 0.43

Update (8:45 pm): One of the nice things about exceptionally low turnout is an early bedtime for the politicos. 94% of precincts, just under 16,000 votes, and the outcome is all but determined: a runoff between Garcia and Alvarado.

Sylvia Garcia -   45.51%
Carol Alvarado - 41.64

RW Bray - 6.02
Dorothy Olmos - 2.81

Joaquin Martinez - 2.48
Rodolfo 'Rudy' Reyes - 0.78
Maria Selva - 0.46
Susan Delgado - 0.31

Friday, January 25, 2013


This is the best explanation I can find for what happened yesterday.

Most of the liberals and other normal people in this country are probably really angry at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for passing up an opportunity to reform the filibuster rules that have turned the U.S. Senate into a tar pit where democracy goes to die.

On Thursday night’s The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow exhaustively detailed all of the times Sen. Reid promised to end the so-called silent filibuster, and to do so with a simple 51-49 majority if necessary. (Yesterday) afternoon, Sen. Reid chickened out, but he had a good reason to. That reason, though, isn’t good enough.

That not equivocal enough for you? Sit tight.

Reid understands that his threat cuts both ways. See, the problem isn’t with changing the filibuster rules, it’s with changing the rules at all with a 51-vote majority, because even if Democrats make a perfectly reasonable rule change using the new Congress loophole, there’s nothing to stop Republicans from going nuts when they retake the majority, and giving themselves the right of primae noctis, or making a rule that all Democrats have to resign. That’s why Harry Reid is not such an idiot for backing away from this threat.

Here’s why Harry Reid is kind of an idiot for backing down: there’s still nothing to stop Republicans from going nuts when they retake the majority, and they will. When Republicans retake the majority, if Harry Reid is still in the Senate, we will see him at a microphone in a Republican-mandated propeller beanie and “I’m With Stupid” t-shirt with the finger pointed up at his face ensemble, complaining about how his learned colleagues have broken with all precedent, and he will not stand for it next time he’s in the majority.

So pick a side, argue it out, and let the justifications/recriminations begin.

My takeaway? This is what people are talking about when they say both parties are the same. Oh... and there's no point in trying to play nice with aggressive, angry lunatics. You have to either subdue them and administer their tranquilizing medication or bust them in the mouth until they chill out.

You do not win anything by compromising with sociopaths. The very compromise itself has the opposite result you were hoping for: you do not come off as reasonable or rational for your moderate, tolerant, cooperative spirit. You appear weak because you negotiated with terrorists.

Instead of presenting oneself as an esteemed diplomat and respected bipartisan leader, you wind up looking like a pussy. One of the many ironies in this lesson is that Hillary Clinton understands this concept clearly.

You must. punch. back. Even when you're not punching at all, but simply adjusting your glasses.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The War and Peace (and Church and Food) Report

-- By my oath as one of the judges sitting on the Early Voting Ballot Board, I will refrain from posting anything regarding the Senate District 6 special election (except maybe someone else's words, and then only if it doesn't advocate for or against a particular candidate). So what that means is you shouldn't be swayed or influenced by me in any way by this.

--  The fact that the ban on women in combat was lifted by the Pentagon yesterday probably has nothing to do with the ass-whipping Hillary Clinton gave John McCain and several other Republicans. I'm sure it was also just a coincidence that it was two women -- one a former foreign service member, the other a Republican -- that called C-Span to clarify things for the Republican senators asking the questions.

I would rather have a world where neither women nor men were sent to fight foreign wars, especially when they are sent to fight them based on long threads of lies by Republican men and women, but this development still qualifies as progress on gender equality.

And it's long past time for this country to promote a woman to the position of Commander-in-Chief as well. I certainly hope that woman isn't also a Republican.

-- The CIA apparently tells Hollywood writers more than they tell the US Senate about torture, targeted assassinations, and exactly where in the world they have agents working, so I suppose we should not be surprised that Senators don't actually know as much as they think.

-- The Catholic Church has attorneys arguing that a fetus is not a person -- despite the dogma from the pulpit that established this commandment in the bible of conservatism -- if said fetus shows up on their ledger as an expense.

This on the heels of information, previously undisclosed, that reveals the depths of the conspiracy within the Los Angeles diocese to protect child-molesting priests from justice.

Newly disclosed internal documents have confirmed the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles deliberately hid evidence of child molestation for more than a decade. The now-retired archbishop, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, and other high-ranking clergy officials made extensive efforts to transfer abusive priests out of state to avoid prosecution and to stop them from confessing to therapists who would have been forced to inform police. The church reached a $660 million settlement with 500 victims in 2007, the largest of any Roman Catholic diocese. In reaching the deal, it spared top church officials from having to testify in court. A Los Angeles judge is set to rule next month on whether two church officials will face new depositions in a civil lawsuit over the abuse.

So I think it's safe to say the Church, just like the GOP, is having another bad week.

Update: the Church won their case based on that argument. In the long run (i.e. future lawsuits challenging Roe -- or restricting women's reproductive freedom -- at the SCOTUS), this might actually be a good thing. Legal precedent and all that.

-- What's on the menu at your local fish house? Pig shit, antibiotics, and a side of diarrhea. Mmmmm. That sounds almost as good as some mercury in my sushi, and a little dab of carcinogens with my Gulf seafood platter.

Think I'll have a salad, thanks. But no GM corn or HFCS dressing, please.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves -- from soda to soup, crackers to condiments -- contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Never mind; I just lost my appetite.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Michael Li had it last evening.

Final day of in-person early voting in SD-6 special: 975 votes cast plus 92 mail ballots. Total vote so far-8245 (2.9% of reg). 

It's difficult to see that remaining 20,000 projected voters showing up on Saturday. An abysmally low turnout aids the cause of those with the most name recognition.

Campos has been saying a lot about not saying much.

I’m not going to say much about Carol Alvarado’s opponent sending out their fifth negative mailer attacking Carol that landed in mailboxes last Friday.  That’s five in two weeks.  I can pretty much guarantee that folks won’t get another today.

I’m also not going to say much about “Viva Houston” yesterday.

His candidate couldn't get to the faceoff on Channel 13 because she was busy in Austin. That's worth saying -- or at least spinning. He seems to have conceded the race already.

I have to revise my forecast and bet Garcia and Alvarado, $2 exacta. Perhaps I should go ahead and buy a quinella ticket also. But then they wouldn't call it gambling.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More corporate cash, less transparency

Still wondering what my problem is with money and politics?

Four years ago, President Obama banned corporate and union donations from funding his first Inauguration. Not this time.

This time, the man who railed on how Citizens United would “open the floodgates for special interests” by allowing unlimited contributions from corporations and “America’s most powerful interests” ….is accepting unlimited donations to his inaugural committee from corporations. So far 20 corporations and nine unions have dropped cash on the shindig says The Hill.

Not only are the doors wide open, but the curtains are shut — from transparency, that is. Four years ago, Team Obama listed all its inaugural donors AND the amount they coughed up in a searchable database.

But this year, says the Sunlight Foundation, they only showed WHO gave. Not how much. And it’s not searchable — just a massive list. 

Four years ago, inaugural contributions were capped at $50,000. This time? Oh, don’t stop. Please don’t stop. The Presidential Inaugural Committee was offering packages for between $10,000 and $1 million — check out the invites here

So forgive me for not swooning at the president's lofty progressive rhetoric yesterday. A little less conversation and a little more action, please.

This development was revealed on the same weekend that protests in Austin at the Capitol (and around the country) against pesky things like Citizens United and corporate personhood went mostly unreported -- unlike the Gun Appreciation Day festivities, mind you.

Misplaced priorities much?

So as you read other things in other places about money being mother's milk and all that, just remember that only children suckle from teats. We all need to grow up and get real about what kind of politicians we want.

I would be remiss in not noting that my state Senator, Rodney Ellis, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson in the Texas House have taken the initiative in this regard. Encourage your own representatives at every level -- local, state, and federal -- to follow their lead.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Madame Mayor's re-election chances

They're pretty good. It really doesn't have all that much to do with Ben Hall, either.

"Hall is a formidable challenger but is a long shot to unseat the mayor," University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said in an email.

Rottinghaus noted Hall's funding capability, his vision and his qualifications but suggested that "with Parker's nationalizing profile and perceptions of her doing a good job, it is a more uphill fight."

Rottinghaus added that Parker's most formidable challenge may not be Hall, per se, but a crowded primary field that could squeeze her out of a runoff. "In a runoff, a well-funded candidate like Hall that can put the right coalition together could have a chance," he said. "This may be the model -- almost successful for Gene Locke -- that Hall is looking to create."

Uh, no. Charles is correct. The Chron could not write this story, though, without kissing the ring of the Quitter. Just. Like. Always.

Former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt said he and (HCRP chair Jared) Woodfill discussed the possibility of him running for mayor but said his interest was predicated on the possibility that Parker may leave office early to take a position in the Obama administration, thus necessitating a special election.

"In a special election, I could see what the party chairman is pitching, because that's a low-turnout scenario that would be favorable to Republicans," he said.

Bettencourt also suggested that Hall's candidacy was based, at least initially, on the possibility that the mayor would leave office early.

"The glacier's moving," he said. "The question is, where is it going to stop?"

Quittencourt gets one thing right here: he cannot beat Annise Parker.

In fact, Parker doesn't lose unless she gets a medium-strength challenger from her left. And then a conservative, pro-business, religious African American like Hall has a chance -- but not in a head-to-head runoff against the mayor; her ground game is too strong.

See, Annise Parker is really the moderate Republicans' best choice. The only people who have supported the mayor in her previous two races that will not do so again are whatever exists of a progressive voting bloc. It might be enough of the electorate -- 10 to 15% -- to be a factor in the open primary... but it might not.

Oh, there will be one or two fringe Republican options -- a Christianist and a cut-taxes corporatist -- but neither will be named Bettencourt. It wouldn't be close; she'd whip his ass.

The rumor-mongering about Parker taking a job in the Obama administration is nothing but that. Nobody except a handful of Republicans are saying it, and they don't know what they are talking about.

The early line is on the mayor. But her odds were much better two years ago, and she nearly coughed up a big lead then. Expect there to be some kind of a Green Party/Kubosh brothers alliance as there has been over a few policy disagreements, like with the food-sharing ordinance and Parker's handling of the Occupy Houston ejection.

At this point the mayor's chances are good, but they decrease a little every day.

MLK and Inauguration Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes President Obama all the best at the start of his second term as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the January finance reports for SD06 candidates.

Out of fairness alone, the areas that had to sacrifice during the bad times should be taken care of first, once good times return. But as WCNews at Eye on Williamson points out, that's unlikely to change without a lot of public pressure: The budget, fear, and ideology.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that Blake Farenthold and his fellow Congressional Republicans voted against hurricane Sandy relief. Do hurricanes or tornadoes ever hit Texas? Too bad for us.

The Asshats on Parade, sponsored by PDiddie's Brains and Eggs, included Lance Armstrong, Dick Cheney, Manti Te'o, and Ed Emmett.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger almost decided to skip writing an article this week, but the number of exploiters in high places is just too overwhelming: America’s Disappointing Role Models.

Secession fun for everyone this week at McBlogger!

Neil at Texas Liberal posted his 6th annual updated Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. It is the best such resource on the web.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Viva Houston has the SD-6 candidates on this morning, and more Texas news

-- Be sure and tune in immediately after This Weak with George Snufflelufagus -- or Press the Meat or Facepalm the Nation or whichever panel of Talking Heads you have been listening to. Among the few policy questions that get asked, you'll get to hear Susan Delgado say that she is qualified to serve as a Texas Senator because she slept with Mario Gallegos.


-- Jack Christie goes all Todd Akin on influenza.

An attack on flu vaccinations by a Houston City Council member has drawn fire from medical officials, as patients with influenza symptoms continue to fill emergency rooms across the country.

As the council considered a proposal Wednesday to accept $3.1 million in federal funding for childhood immunizations, Councilman Jack Christie voiced his opposition to the measure, apparently conflating it with flu vaccinations.

"I'm going to vote against this," Christie said before the 15-1 vote. "You don't die from the flu." 

Naturally, the Republican chiropractor made things worse when he tried to explain.

Christie backed down somewhat from his comment on Friday. What he meant to say, he said, was that "People should not die from the flu."

"First of all, that's $3 million that the federal government doesn't really have," Christie said of the funding proposal. "It's borrowed money we eventually have to pay back. But more important is the media's embellishment of the extreme fear of encouraging flu vaccinations.

"Every year there's going to be a flu," he said, "and vaccines create synthetic immunity, which does not trump natural immunity to disease."

People might have forgotten that Christie was once the chair of the Texas State Board of Education not so long ago. Charles breaks it down, but you should be reminded that Christie is the guy that Bill White endorsed over the incumbent progressive Democrat, Jolanda Jones, in 2011 for this at-large council seat. There were quite a few blog posts around town -- and out of town -- regarding that.

The White/Christie alliance is a nearly perfect microcosm of everything that is wrong with Houston municipal politics (and two-party politics generally).

--- John Cornyn and Ted Cruz listen closely as the architect of three Texas counties' initiative in opting out of Social Security explains how he did it. No excerpt; you need to go read (and listen) to it. And then Google the name Rick Gornto. Or read this.

Let's get clear: Republicans are going to take away your Social Security long before Obama takes away anybody's gun. Or bullets. Or clips or magazines.

Sunday Funnies

Finally... don't shoot the messenger, my Democratic friends...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The East End Leaders sign their letter

So I asked a few questions and, yesterday evening in my inbox, received a response.

The following are East End Civic/Community Leaders responded to Council Member James Rodriguez's January 8, 2013 statement:
Robert Gallegos
Elisa Gonzales
Angie Martinez
Steve Parker
Gloria Moreno
Victor Villarreal
Sylvia Medina
Julio Del Carpio
James Dinkins

We stand on our response. This is a big deal to us because there is a bigger issue here. Thanks again to Mayor Parker’s leadership for approving the underpass and the new Metro, and numerous Council Members who were also instrumental in securing the required funding for the underpass in 2011.   

As active East End Civic/Community Leaders, we are continuously seeking transparency, honesty, and integrity from our elected officials.

Thank you for that, folks. I have, however, some more questions.

-- What is the bigger issue to which you refer?

-- Why is the underpass still a big issue in 2013?

-- Why are you picking old battles to re-fight? You have a transcontinental oil pipeline about to deliver the world's dirtiest oil right to your doorstep, which will poison your children even worse than they are already being poisoned, and you choose instead to quarrel about a highway underpass... that was resolved in 2011?

If the bigger issue is "transparency, honesty, and integrity", then I don't see why that very valid concern isn't being applied to the current challenges facing SD-6, like funding public schools or increasing voter turnout from last in the state among Senate districts. Or perhaps even the vast sums of money being raised and spent by the two front-runners in the open primary -- since that's pretty much the only thing the rest of the media writing about this race seem interested in reporting.

(Since you didn't mention 'jobs' -- as someone barked out at a recent forum when the pipeline topic came up -- I will assume that's not a top concern of yours.)

I must be missing something here. Sorry; still don't get it. Help me out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Asshats on Parade

No locals. Not even Marc Campos. But plenty of Texans.

Lance Armstrong might be the world's most massive asshat...

This was a glimmer of the true Lance Armstrong coming out. No Nike commercial edits. No press conference sound bites. No glowing magazine profiles. This was the guy who left scores and scores of people cursing that their paths ever crossed.

It's not about the bike, indeed. This was about Lance's sociopathic spectacle.

At one point during the interview, he couldn't recall how many people he'd sued. Really. He not only didn't know the number, he couldn't even be sure when asked about specific individuals that his mighty, powerful legal team relentlessly tried to bury.

It's worth noting that many of the people he's sued through the years in an effort to protect his lies and glory were one-time close friends, roommates, teammates, business partners and associates.

Is there another person in America who has sued so many people he once liked – for telling the truth, mind you – that he can't remember all of them? Anyone?

... were it not for Dick Cheney.

For Cheney’s critics, the (forthcoming biographical) film is unlikely to change their opinions.

From its opening moments, Cheney seems as defiant as ever about criticism that he went too far in the policies he pushed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

“The ones that spend all their time trying to be loved by everybody probably aren’t doing much. If you aren’t prepared to have critics, to be subject to criticism, you’re in the wrong line of work,” Cheney bluntly declares in the film. “ If you want to be loved, go be a movie star.”

The former vice president ... speaks at length about the controversies that embroiled his vice presidency. He continues to defend the Bush administration’s embrace of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, which is widely considered a form of torture. President Barack Obama banned the use of waterboarding when he took office in 2009.

"Are you going to trade the lives of other people because you want to preserve your honor?" Cheney replies when asked about waterboarding and other controversial interrogation techniques. "You do what’s required. That’s not a close call for me."

And Cheney continues to deflect criticism that his office exaggerated intelligence findings that claimed Iraq President Saddam Hussein’s was pursuing weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaida—claims that later turned out to be false.

There's an important distinction between these sociopaths: while Armstrong merely destroyed other people's lives, Cheney had them killed. In every conceivable fashion -- men, women, children; blown up, shot, tortured, drowned, poisoned. You have to sit in awe of a man so consumed with evil he ruined his own heart... then received another by the grace of America's taxpayers. What a country!

I am being as kind as can be in calling Dick Cheney a sociopath, when in fact he meets all the qualifications of a psychopath.

While it's impossible to top those two men, Manti Te'o is doing his best from his small perch.

Not once but twice after he supposedly discovered his online girlfriend of three years never even existed, Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te'o perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.

An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn't she dead, she wasn't real.

Yeah, nobody died except for his imaginary girlfriend, and nobody is actually getting destroyed except for him and a few journalists' reputations. Lance thanks you, Manti, for breaking your news this week. Once again, one has to be awestruck by the fact that the University of Notre Dame made a bigger deal of the nonexistent dead girl than they did the real one who killed herself after being raped by a Notre Dame football player.

Speaking of damaging one's future prospects, Chris Christie seems to be taking himself out of the running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Blunt-speaking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, thought to be eyeing a 2016 run for the Republican presidential nomination, blasted an NRA ad that mentions President Barack Obama's daughters as "reprehensible" and warned it "demeans" the powerful gun-rights group.

"To talk about the president’s children, or any public officer’s children, who have—not by their own choice, but by requirement—to have protection, and to use that somehow to try to make a political point is reprehensible," Christie said.

Christie is far from being an asshat in this regard. But his political future in the GOP seems extremely limited at this point. The GOTeaP just will not tolerate this kind of dissension in the ranks. What is he thinking?!

From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Barack Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state's popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too. Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the idea this week, and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum. There are other signs that Republican state legislators, governors and veteran political strategists are seriously considering making the shift as the GOP looks to rebound from presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Electoral College shellacking and the demographic changes that threaten the party's long-term political prospects.

Expect this to happen. But not in Texas; they don't need the help.

Finally... I lied; one local asshat.

New freeways are few and far between in Harris County – and may one day be a thing of the past, according to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

“No one likes to pay a toll but many would rather pay a toll to get a road than not have anything to drive on,” he said. “What’s interesting is that people love to talk about free roads and toll roads, when never there was such a thing as a free road. It was all built with tax dollars. It just so happens you can drive on it for free.”

This is what passes for moderate conservative logic these days. That's not to say that a blind hog can't occasionally find an acorn.

The county is also working to decentralize hospitals, bringing more clinics throughout unincorporated areas to meet demand, said Emmett.

“People got used to the idea that poor people and indigents lived in certain areas,” he said. “Well they don’t. They live all over the county. One of the arguments we’re having with the hospital district is we’re trying to get them out of brick and mortar and into neighborhood clinics because we’ve got to do a better job of providing for the many indigents.”

Having clinics throughout the area would give lower income people better access to preventative care. The health care crisis has forced many of the uninsured to seek the most expensive, least effective form of health care— in emergency rooms.

“The bottom line is the counties need to define how to best provide preventative health services,” said Emmett.

Deinstitutionalization has also shifted the mentally ill population from asylums to jails, said Emmett. “It’s amazing the Harris County jail is one of the largest mental health facilities in Texas,” said Emmett. “That’s fundamentally wrong. We've got to do better at delivering mental health services.”

This is surprisingly thoughtful and empathetic, two qualities in short supply -- and in danger of being rejected -- by Republicans local, statewide, and nationwide. Like Christie in the previous, this isn't conducive to long-term political viability.

Nowhere, however, does Emmett mention the real solution: raising taxes. That's the asshat part. Let's wrap this up, Ed...

Harris County’s non-attainment designation by the EPA, which is given to areas that persistently exceed federal air quality standards, has threatened industry, said Emmett. The Environmental Protection Agency reports vehicles using natural gas emit 25 percent less greenhouse gases than diesel-powered vehicles.

“If an industry wants to build a new facility they’re going to be restricted unless they find a way to come under EPA guidelines,” he said.

According to Emmett, local trucking companies were some of the first to switch to natural gas for its economic benefits, paying $1.50 to $2 less per gallon than gasoline. Now, he hopes other car manufacturers and companies will get on board.

It should be noted -- not by the county judge, of course -- that Harris County has not attained the EPA ozone emission guidelines established during the Carter administration. And here comes Keystone XL down the pipeline.

But that ain't the moneyshot. This is.

“The most important thing is to switch many vehicles to natural gas,” said Emmett. "Natural gas we have in abundance. The most important thing is it’s non-polluting.”

So in Hunker-Down World, "25 percent less" = "non-polluting".

I knew you wouldn't let me down, Judge.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dear Abby, dear Abby

Dear Abby, dear Abby:

My feet are too long
My hair's falling out and my rights are all wrong
My friends they all tell me that I've no friends at all
Won't you write me a letter, won't you give me a call
Signed... Bewildered

Bewildered, bewildered:

You have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

Dear Abby, dear Abby:

My fountain pen leaks
My wife hollers at me and my kids are all freaks
Every side I get up on is the wrong side of bed
If it weren't so expensive I'd wish I were dead
Signed ...Unhappy

Unhappy, unhappy:

You have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

Dear Abby, dear Abby:

You won't believe this
But my stomach makes noises whenever I kiss
My girlfriend tells me it's all in my head
But my stomach tells me to write you instead
Signed ...Noisemaker

Noisemaker, noisemaker:

You have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

 Dear Abby, dear Abby:

Well I never thought
That me and my girlfriend would ever get caught
We were sitting in the back seat just shooting the breeze
With her hair up in curlers and her pants to her knees
Signed... Just Married

Just Married, just married:

You have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

Signed... Dear Abby.

RIP, Pauline/Abigail.

The Texas crazy got a little worse this week.

Juanita's been documenting the contagion, so I'm just gravy-training.

Let's open with the AG.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has a message for New Yorkers who don’t like their state’s new gun-control measures. Move to Texas.

On Wednesday, New Yorkers in Manhattan and Albany began seeing two web ads, paid for with Abbott campaign funds, and designed to tug on their holster strings. According to The Austin American-Statesman, the text of one ad reads: “Is Gov. Cuomo looking to take your guns? Sick of the media outing law abiding gun owners? Are you a lawful NY gun owner seeking lower taxes?” The second ad reads: “Wanted: Law abiding New York gun owners looking for lower taxes and greater opportunity.”

His gubernatorial campaign is under way, ladies and gentlemen. Hey, he's gotta spend that $18 million on something, and I can think of a lot worse things than online advertising.

Let's double down with the governor.

Gov. Rick Perry recommended prayer rather than changes in gun laws to combat violence in society, following President Obama’s call for increased gun control and enforcement.

“There is evil prowling in the world – it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations, and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds,” Perry said in a statement issued after the president’s Washington, D.C., news conference on gun violence. “As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children.”

You know, because praying worked so well with ending the statewide drought a couple of summers ago. And finally, let's push all in with Steve Stockman...

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, said in a statement today that he would “thwart” any executive action by Obama “by any means necessary including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House and even filing articles of impeachment.”

Stockman has a history of fighting gun control. He ran for Congress in 1994 and defeated veteran Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Beaumont, who had sponsored legislation to ban the sale of automatic assault  weapons.

... and Ted Poe:

Gun control measures discussed in Washington, D.C. are ‘hypocrisy at its highest,” claimed Rep. Ted Poe, recently in speech on the floor of the House. The Texas Republican argued that it’s easy for lawmakers to advocate gun control when they are surrounded by armed officers of the Capitol Police.

The Republican from Humble said:

“As I speak on the House floor, there are guns by the doors, to the North, to the South, to the East, to the West. On the roof, on all of the entrances and by the steps. The excellent armed guards of the excellent Capitol police protecting us. But most of the citizens don’t have government guards protecting them twenty-four/seven. Many people feel defenseless. Some people of this Chamber want protection for themselves, while advocating more restrictions on guns for the people of America. Hypocrisy at its highest.”

According to Poe, some of his colleagues want to keep special protection for themselves while “red-lining Second Amendment.”

“They say protection for me, but not for thee,” Poe said.

You don't have to be batshit insane to live in Texas. But you certainly are if you voted for any of these wads.

Update: Jon Stewart, as he usually does, speaks for me.

Update II: I'm also going to work a little harder at taking Rachel's advice and stop feeding the trolls.