Thursday, May 30, 2013

In a post-Bachmann world, Texans vie for top GOP moron

Ben Sherman at BOR has already covered this, and Mother Jones decided to enlarge the field by adding a few from outside Deep-In-The-Hearta. But everything -- as everybody knows -- is bigger in Texas. Especially conservative douchebags.

The nominees are...

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)

Is he crazy? Once caught with 30 mg of Valium in his underwear. Lived in a Fort Worth park for a year with a homeless man he compared to Lenny from Of Mice and Men. Warned that sex ed classes were teaching kids the virtues of bestiality. Started an AR-15 sweepstakes for his constituents. Actual campaign bumper sticker: "If babies had guns they wouldn't be aborted."

Put it in granite: "The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out."

Do people care? Stockman has had no discernible impact on public policy and Democrats have written off his seat—he won his last race by 44 points.

Stockman gets style points for his flamebait on Twitter. Which is something far too smart for our next honoree...

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

Is he crazy? Opposed gun control by comparing gay marriage to bestiality. Supported Alaska oil drilling so that caribou would have more sex. Cosponsored a birther bill. Wanted Congress to investigate the threat of Shariah law in America. Sounded alarm about terrorists who "are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic[s]." Sounded alarm about terrorists who are babies.

Put it in granite: "The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus."

Do people care? Gohmert represents an overwhelmingly conservative district and is better known for his outrageous statements than his impact on public policy.

Even Charlie Wilson (well, Tom Hanks) famously noted that the people of the Deep East Texas district he represented -- and Gohmert represents now -- "don't want anything" except "their guns" and "low taxes". Short of a massive die-off, we're stuck with Louie for another 25 years, just like we are with Stockman.

We've saved the best for last.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Is he crazy? Believes George Soros masterminded a plot to ban golf and force Americans into "hobbit homes." Said that "Shariah law is an enormous problem" in the United States. Thinks states have the constitutional right to disregard federal law. Bragged that he helped nullify a gay divorce. Thinks Harvard Law School has been overrun by communists.

Put it in granite: "I think President Obama is the most radical president we've ever seen."

Do people care? Called the "next great conservative hope" by the National Review, Cruz may have presidential aspirations. But his Senate obstructionism has annoyed more compromise-minded Republican colleagues, including John McCain, whom Cruz said he doesn't trust.

To quote W, we've hit the trifecta! By my morning line though, Cruz is the favorite... mostly on the strength of his insufferable arrogance. He's also the only one of the three that thinks he's smart enough to run for president and win.

Expect weekly one-upsmanship from this Texas Triumvirate of TeaBagging Tools straight through to November of 2016. The comedians shouldn't mourn the loss of Bachmann for more than a few minutes once they reassess the field.

This one's for you, Greg.

Greg, in the comments in a prior post, thinks it's sexist for me to post a picture of Michele Bachmann fellating an Iowa corndog. (What is it called if I post a picture of Rick Perry doing the same?)

I have reminded G of this several times, so here's another opportunity for me to do so: my bias is against ignorance, wherever it lies.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

We lose Susan Combs and Bachmann on the same day!?!

Oh happy day.

It is with a deep sense of gratitude for the past, coupled with excitement for the future, that I announce today I will not be seeking elective office in 2014. I want to make my intentions clear as soon as possible for prospective statewide candidates.

We are all so privileged to live in the great state of Texas, and the rest of the country has much to learn from our successes. I have been very fortunate to have served the citizens of this state in elected office for what will be 20 years when my present term as Comptroller ends.

I want to thank blahblahblah...

Honestly, I'm just looking forward now to her next pornographic novel.

Harvey Kronberg smoothly shifts gears right into speculation on her potential replacements -- state Sen. Glenn Hegar, state Rep. Harvey Hildebrand, and Tea Party darling Debra Medina.


Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, confirmed he would seek the position. “I plan to run for comptroller,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to talk about the Texas economy and business climate.” He said his business background, as well as his years in the Texas House and Senate, had prepared him to tackle the issues handled by the office...

Ahead of that, Harvey is handicapping the Republican primary for lieutenant governor with a total of four horse faces candidates: incumbent David Dewhurst, and challengers Jerry Patterson (incumbent Land Commissioner), Todd Staples (incumbent Agriculture Commissioner) and state Sen. Dan Patrick.

That's a lot of open statewide seats. Finally.

We were already aware of Patterson's bid  -- his campaign manager is the former "Safety for Dummies" local blogger Chris Elam -- as well the fellow who hopes to replace Patterson in the General Land Office, George P. Bush. Staples' campaign for Lite Guv has been a bit lower-profile despite Nolan Ryan's involvement.

As yet there are no rumors about any Democrats running for any statewide offices. But I'm not as plugged in to Democratic scuttlebutt as I used to be. Democrats failed to field a candidate for comptroller in 2010, which enabled the Green Party of Texas to easily qualify once again for ballot access. The TDP, you may recall, sued to try to keep Greens off the ballot because of GOP machinations in their bid for signature qualification; I wrote extensively about that. (Of course Dems are not beyond doing their damnedest to prevent Texans from voting Green, by hook or by crook.)

It's 2014 already, people. And you thought this year was going by fast...

Bye bye, Michele Batshit

OK then; just cut and run when the going gets a little tough.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — the tea-party firebrand facing investigations and a daunting reelection race — abruptly announced on Wednesday morning that she will not seek reelection to a fifth term.

Her move marked a spectacular fall for a congresswoman with a bull’s eye on her back every congressional cycle: Less than two years ago, she won the Iowa straw poll and was briefly regarded as a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination.

Her decision had nothing to do, of course, with the fact that she nearly lost last November in a district that voted for Mitt Romney by a margin of 56-41. Nor did it have anything to do with the federal inquiry into her campaign finance irregularities.

Nope, she just wants to spend more time with her husband Lee Liberace the voices inside her head telling her to file another bill repealing Obamacare.

Sadly, this probably doesn't represent a flip opportunity for Democrats but a door opening for some "reasonable Republican" (sic) to replace her. You just have to hope that the TeaBags don't already have a replacement lined up.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes their legislators get to go home soon as we bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff doesn't profess to know whether Rick Perry will run for governor again or not, but he does know that Greg Abbott would not be any improvement over him in the governor's mansion.

Williamson County does it again! WCNews at Eye on Williamson posts on the latest outrage from the WCGOP: Religious test for constable applicants in Williamson County .

A Dick decided to run for mayor of Houston. Like THAT's newsworthy. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs decided to blog about it anyway.

Darth Politico is back with some Memorial Day musings about how we treat our veterans and that not all those who die because of war are killed in combat.

Dos Centavos celebrates the death (for now) of the latest Republican attack on the poor-- drug testing for TANF beneficiaries. He does support some sort of test for Lege members.


And here are some more posts of interest from Texas blogs.

Hair Balls listens to Steve Hotze's anti-Obamacare song so you don't have to.

Brewed And Never Battered thanks everyone who helped pass the craft beer bills this session, while Open The Taps explains what all that craft beer legislation will do for you.

Juanita already has a reason to look forward to 2016.

Sara Inés Calderón offers her perspective on Battleground Texas.

Austin Contrarian reassures his neighbors that Austin isn't as big as the 2010 census may have you believe.

Jason Stanford explains how the Legislature screwed you this time around.

Better Texas Blog laments that the Lege still doesn't account for growth in its budget.

BOR updates us on the redistricting effort in the city of Austin, and Texpatriate applauds the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay bill.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Honor the dead, heal the wounded, stop the wars

On a makeshift stage outside the NATO summit in Chicago, antiwar veterans fold an American flag that flew over NATO operations from Bosnia to Libya and which represents the flag that is “draped over the coffins of thousands of Americans killed in combat and thousands more who have committed suicide after they returned from service." They present the flag to Mary Kirkland, mother of Derrick Kirkland, who joined the military in 2007 and committed suicide in March 2010 after his second tour of duty in Iraq. "I am not ashamed that I have to tell people that my son committed suicide. I am ashamed of the military for failing to give him proper mental health treatment," Kirkland says. The military originally reported that her son was killed in action.

The news at Sine Die

Lawmakers moved to restore cuts made two years ago in public education and health care Sunday by sending a $197 billion, two-year state budget to Gov. Rick Perry, defending it against both those who call it too costly and those who say it shorts state needs.

"We've got to educate our children," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, applauding the restoration of some school funding. It was approved 118-29.

Senate Bill 1 is the centerpiece of a spending package hammered out in tough negotiations over how to appropriately fund key state programs, deliver tax relief demanded by Perry, reduce budget gimmickry and create a $2 billion infrastructure fund to address long-neglected state water needs.

Perry could veto bills in the package, and he has the power to kill particular spending items through a line-item veto. Many elements of the package were on his desk or on their way by late Sunday - although Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, briefly threatened to kill a tax break for businesses with a filibuster, in which he would talk until the deadline passed to consider it. Ellis has pushed for the Legislature to review existing breaks to gauge their value to Texas.

More about my senator's involvement:

A high-profile bill to give a $711 million business-tax break passed at the stroke of midnight Sunday with a House vote of 131-14.

House Bill 500 by Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, had been approved by the Senate on Sunday after surviving the brief threat of a filibuster by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.


A conference committee report for a proposal that criminalizes the use of drones for surveillance and permits Texans to document the activities of law enforcement personnel was adopted by both the Texas House and Senate late Sunday.

House Bill 912 carries more than 40 exemptions, including one that permits members of the media to use drones to photograph and record breaking news activity. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, more than 30,000 unmanned aircraft are expected to be in use in the U.S. by 2020. It now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

One exemption will need further clarification, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, before the Senate approved the measure 26-5: as it’s written now, one exemption states that the ban does not apply to residents who live within 25 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Our legislative intent was to have law enforcement be able to use drones,” Estes said, and he added that “we don’t want private citizens to be able to use drones at the border, either.”

A call to special session -- as referenced last week -- remains imminent.

As the Legislature's regular 90-day session winds to an end, state lawmakers are girding for Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session that could start as early as Tuesday on congressional and legislative election maps.

Meanwhile, a federal court is putting its gears back in motion to again take up a lawsuit by minority and voting rights groups challenging Republican-drawn redistricting maps passed by the Legislature in 2011. A hearing scheduled for Wednesday in San Antonio will mark the first time the three-judge panel weighs in on the case in about a year. The flurry of action on the state level on redistricting comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling next month on a case involving Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Texas Republicans already are coming off a court-issued setback revolving around their 2011 voting maps. A D.C. federal court last August threw out the state GOP's redistricting plans on the basis that they discriminated against minority voters.

It's up to the judges, who had to draw temporary maps as a last-ditch effort to ensure Texans could vote in 2012 primaries, to resolve the fate of Texas' redistricting skirmish.

Before the federal court potentially pens new maps that chip away at a GOP stronghold, Republicans are expected to cement as permanent those provisional maps drawn up in San Antonio during a special session.

And not just redistricting, either; the pet projects of the TeaBags are likely on the docket.

(Lt. Gov. David) Dewhurst told the Star-Telegram’s Dave Montgomery last week that he had asked Gov. Rick Perry to call lawmakers back for another round before they could skip town once the 83rd regular session ends Monday night.

According to Montgomery’s report, Dewhurst wants a full plate of conservative red meat: drug testing for welfare recipients (already done), concealed handguns inside campus buildings (only in locked cars for now), a package of abortion restrictions, political redistricting, school choice and a more restrictive constitutional cap on state spending.

Redistricting is a favor of a kind to Greg Abbott. The rest is a favor to Dewhurst, which the governor may not be willing to grant.

"He (Dewhurst) is not concerned about what Texas values are," state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) told KVUE. "He's concerned about an extremist right wing agenda that will serve a feather in his cap as he goes forward in a future possible primary election to regain his seat."

Davis argues such an effort would put a damper on a legislative session that has been largely marked by bipartisan cooperation, and worries that Republican leaders are anxious to use the special session to bypass the two-thirds majority required to pass legislation during the regular session.

"I'm very proud of the way Republicans and Democrats have come together this session to reflect the values of people who live in Texas. Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst's actions threaten to poison that as we go into a special session," said Davis. "He's going to spend hundreds of thousands of thousands of taxpayer dollars in a special session for purposes that serve his interests alone."

Dewhurst has at least one and maybe two downballot TeaBaggers drooling for a shot at him.

Dewhurst, who’s held his current office for a decade, is expected to announce re-election plans shortly after the regular session ends. But he’s almost certain to face challenges from Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, both Republicans with solid conservative credentials.

Uh huh. Back to that "do-me-a-solid" business.

The Austin American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove wrote on the “First Reading” blog that “the operative question” is whether Perry sees the special session Dewhurst wants as helping the governor should he run again or try another bid for president, and “how much he wants to do Dewhurst a [favor] by calling a session that would help burnish his conservative credentials.”

So much for the greater public good.

Much more of interest in that Statesman link. And Paul Burka piles on the lieutenant governor. Winners and losers to be revealed later today... or maybe tomorrow, depending on how late they go.

Update: It's worth mentioning that 64 House representatives sent a letter to the governor asking for four anti-choice pieces of legislation to be added to any special session call. And Eye on Williamson has some good links as well.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Funnies

"If you watch the news like I do, you know the Obama administration is embroiled in so many scandals that trying to pick which one to report on is like trying to pick which of your children to impeach. For the record, it’s the one who ate chips in Daddy's den."

-- Stephen Colbert

"If they don't fix these crises pretty soon, honest to God, it could bring gridlock to a screeching halt."

-- David Letterman

Friday, May 24, 2013

Headline, money graf

And my bold emphasis.

The Future of the Astrodome Finally Has Some Direction:

"If there's no private interest that has a reasonable financial backing, then on June 25th, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation is to present their best idea of public use of the Dome to Harris County Commissioners Court and our capital improvements planning session. From that point, it will be in the hands of County Commissioners Court. It's very likely to require a bond election. That would be  presented to the voters, but I'm told we're not allowed to put options, so it will be a real clear, this is the best idea of what to do with the Dome. If you're not agreeable to this, then the Dome comes down. And all of that will be occurring in the next year or two years."

A Newspaper Monopoly That Lost Its Grip:

The much ballyhooed unmaking of daily newspapering seems to be unmaking itself, and there’s a reason for that. Most newspapers have hung onto the ancient practice of embedding prose on a page and throwing it in people’s yards because that’s where the money and the customers are for the time being. 

The industry tried chasing clicks for a while to win back fleeing advertisers, decided it was a fool’s errand and is now turning to customers for revenue. But in order to charge people for news, you have to prosecute journalism. 


Newspaper publishing will never return to the 30 percent plus margins it once had, but some people believe there is a business model. Warren E. Buffett thinks that a 10 percent return is reasonable, now that sale prices have sunk.

No deaths reported in Washington state bridge collapse:

The collapse will require a detour, making travel between Seattle and Vancouver more difficult. But as we know from experience, it's unlikely to make Republicans in Congress say anything much more about infrastructure investment than "we can't afford it."

Why A Houston Leukemia Doctor Is Calling Out Drug Companies:

Q: Why is chronic myeloid leukemia a good example of a disease that could really benefit from affordable drugs?

A: Chronic myeloid leukemia was a fatal disease in the past. The average survival of patients was about three years. With these new drugs, chronic myeloid leukemia changed into an indolent disease, similar to diabetes. If the patients take the oral medicine on a daily basis, they could live their normal life. The problem is they have to spend $100,000 a year to stay alive.

Q: What should be done?

A: I think what we need to do is start a national discussion on this issue. Drug prices and cancer drug prices are the big elephant in the medical room. If cancer research is paid 80 percent by taxpayers’ money, and if most of the discoveries in cancer drugs are made in the United States, why is it that the U.S. patient pays almost twice the price of a cancer drug as they pay in Europe?

Voting is Not a Right:

Not according to the Supreme Court. In Bush v. Gore (2000), the Court ruled that “[t]he individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” That’s right. Under federal law, according to the Supreme Court, if you are a citizen of the United States, you have a right to own a firearm that might conceivably be used in overthrowing the government. But you have no right to wield a vote that might be used to change the government by peaceful means.

Atlas Shrugged Off Taxes:

In the past twenty years, corporate profits have quadrupled while the corporate tax percent has dropped by half. The payroll tax, paid by workers, has doubled.

In effect, corporations have decided to let middle-class workers pay for national investments that have largely benefited businesses over the years. The greater part of basic research, especially for technology and health care, has been conducted with government money. Even today 60 percent of university research is government-supported. Corporations use highways and shipping lanes and airports to ship their products, the FAA and TSA and Coast Guard and Department of Transportation to safeguard them, a nationwide energy grid to power their factories, and communications towers and satellites to conduct online business.

Yet as corporate profits surge and taxes plummet, our infrastructure is deteriorating. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that $3.63 trillion is needed over the next seven years to make the necessary repairs.

States that rejected Medicaid also have most uninsured, poorest health:

Sadly, the states that have the greatest need to expand Medicaid also have the Republican leaders who are refusing to participate. ...

The residents of many of those states, those in the Deep South, would dearly love to see Medicaid expansion, a new survey suggests. Families USA polled in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina—all states where Republicans governors and legislatures have rejected the expansion—and found that 62 percent of respondents in those states support Medicaid expansion.

Nineteen House Democrats vote to take authority over Keystone XL decision away from the president:

Here are the Democrats who voted for pulling the president's authority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

John Barrow (GA-12) Blue Dog
Sanford Bishop (GA-02) Blue Dog
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Jim Cooper (TN-05) Blue Dog
Jim Costa (CA-16) Blue Dog
Henry Cuellar (TX-28) Blue Dog
William Enyart (IL-12)
Al Green (TX-09)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Sean Maloney (NY-12)
Sean Matheson (UT-04) Blue Dog
Mike McIntyre (NC-07) Blue Dog
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
William Owens (NY-21)
Colin Peterson (MN-07) Blue Dog
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)
John Yarmuth (KY-03)

Time for Holder to go

Attorney General Eric Holder personally signed off on the warrant that allowed the Justice Department to search Fox News reporter James Rosen's personal email, NBC News' Michael Isikoff reported Thursday.

The report places Holder at the center of one of the most controversial clashes between the press and the government in recent memory. The warrant he approved named Rosen as a "co-conspirator" in a leak investigation, causing many to warn that the Justice Department was potentially criminalizing journalism. The warrant also approved the tracking of Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department, as well as his communications with his source, Stephen Kim.

The Justice Department later said that it did not intend to press any charges against Rosen.
The attorney general is usually required to approve requests to search journalists' materials, but that rule does not extend to email records.

(Holder recused himself from the investigation into the Associated Press, meaning that he absolved himself of that responsibility.) Holder has previously said that he was not sure how many times he had authorized the search of journalists' records.

Fox still isn't 'news', but that's not the point. The DOJ has been spying on critics of all political persuasions for some time now.

As the Obama administration faces criticism for the Justice Department’s spying on journalists and the IRS targeting of right-wing organizations, newly released documents show how the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and local police forces partnered with corporations to spy on Occupy protesters in 2011 and 2012.

Detailed in thousands of pages of records from counter terrorism and law enforcement agencies, the spying monitored the activists’ online usage and led to infiltration of their meetings. One document shows an undercover officer was dispatched in Arizona to infiltrate activists organizing protests around the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),  the secretive group that helps corporate America propose and draft legislation for states across the country.

So as it happens, Eric Holder's Justice Department is an equal opportunity organization. If you're a-protestin', we're infiltratin'.

The mainstreamers are irate at the administration for this business and justifiably so. They are turning on Obama as a result. The long-awaited (by conservatives) end of the honeymoon is nigh. The fact that Medea Benjamin's protest during his drone clarification speech -- an attempt to distract from the week's bad headlines -- has been extensively covered is but one example.

I still encounter far too many Democrats who meet this description, but their fealty makes a difference to no one except them any longer.

The worst of the "scandals" swirling around the president goes away as soon as Eric Holder does. His departure is past due.

And the longer they wait, the worse it's going to get.


The left and the right now basically agree that Holder should go. The only reason I am not enthusiastically joining the chorus calling for Holder’s job is that I’m 90 percent certain that whomever replaces Eric Holder will be worse, both because of President Obama’s full support for Holder’s Justice Department thus far and because of the confirmation process. Obama isn’t going to nominate someone from the ACLU. Republicans (and hawkish Democrats) would block anyone who shows signs of being even slightly less awful on civil liberties.

Obama will still probably stand by his AG, who, let’s remember, was already held in contempt by the Republican House in a previous bit of GOP overreach that left Holder “zen-like” in his response to all criticism. The president has stood by Holder this long. We’ve seen how Barack Obama’s Good Liberal respect for the sacred craft of journalism left him once he had to deal with journalists. The president seems to value loyalty and discipline (including the discipline not to leak shit to the press) more than journalism. I wouldn’t mind being wrong, but Holder’s job is probably safe, as long as he wants to keep it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A redistricting special session

Being on vacation for a week -- and now tending to a death in the family -- has left me unprepared to comment on current events. This post yesterday afternoon, however, by Harvey Kronberg is worth mentioning.


Abbott argues interim maps judicially approved; minority plaintiffs say process confirms intentional discrimination

It is an increasingly common article of faith that Governor Perry will call the Legislature back into a redistricting special session on May 29, two days after sine die.  Any number of other issues could be added to the call but Attorney General Greg Abbott’s clear message for months has been that the Legislature needs to endorse the interim maps, preferably before the Supreme Court rules on the Shelby case (expected in late June) which could determine whether or not Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act survives.

May 29 also happens to be the day the three judge federal panel in San Antonio has ordered a status hearing on Texas redistricting maps in order to prepare for the 2014 elections.  They have instructed lawyers to be prepared to argue whether or not evidence from the DC case should be admitted into evidence in the San Antonio case and whether the record should be supplemented with more current demographic and election data.
The three judge panel in DC unanimously concluded that Texas had intentionally discriminated against minorities in drawing the 2011 maps.

Apparently Greg Abbott is putting in a little extra work.

The linchpin of Republican control of the US House of Representatives is their dominance of state legislatures --- and the maps they draw -- which is one of the great algae blooms from the GOP's Red Tea Tide in 2010. Without the most odious gerrymandering, legislatures (and governors) in blue states like Wisconsin and Michigan wouldn't be able to accomplish what they have. What Abbott understands better than nearly everyone on his team is that the GOP is the besieged at the Alamo in terms of electoral inexorability. His lawsuits against the federal government only delay the day that the Republican party falls down in Texas, and fails to get up nationally for a generation or more.

But, as with the weekly Congressional vote to overturn Obamacare, he must keep fighting the good fight.

If the SCOTUS upholds VRA, then it's just back to the drawing board for everybody. But if they bag it, then the GOP can dig their little claws into the landscape for the rest of the decade.

If you think about it, it's really the only chance they have left to avoid going extinct on a national level.

Update: Kuffner with more.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


n. - An altered state of consciousness derived from high elevations, crisp pine-scented air, jaw-dropping vistas, and a laptop that hasn't been opened in a week.*

When we last visited New Mexico (at almost exactly this time five years ago) it was difficult to return home to foul humid air, crowded freeways, and the rat race. It was even harder this time, because now we know we're going to retire there, not too many years from now.

My brother's vacation home in Red River afforded us the opportunity to get away and so we took it. It's a quick two-hour flight to Albuquerque and about three and half more driving north, through Santa Fe, Espanola, Taos, and Questa before arriving in the little Swiss-themed ski hamlet in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, foothills to the Rockies. Having spent much time in Santa Fe on previous trips, we decided to focus on exploring Taos, and weren't disappointed.

First, the little slice a' heaven in RR.

Temperatures during our time dipped into the high 20's at night and nosed up over 70 during the day. Humidity ranged between 5-15%.

The deer, who come down from the mountains in-between houses to forage and graze at dusk.

A drive around the Enchanted Circle, and a stop at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Angel Fire.

In Taos, the Gov. John Bent house and museum and the Kit Carson home and museum. And then the cemetery where the famed mountain man/tormenter of the Navajo is buried, beside his wife Josepha.

This short snip of video from the museum has one of the man's great-great-great- grandsons portraying him.

The Rio Grande River Gorge bridge (where our friend Bob Wells had his ashes scattered a couple of years ago). This is a good video. My acrophobia kept me from venturing too far out onto the bridge.

A few shops, a few galleries.

Posole and blue corn enchiladas smothered in green chile at Doc Martin's inside the Taos Inn. A Moroccan shrimp salad at Graham's Grille. A pulled brisket burrito at Orlando's.

A little gambling -- slots and Preakness -- at Buffalo Thunder.

Some other interesting Taos sightings.

A last night on the Old Town Square in Albuquerque, at the famous Bottger Mansion bed and breakfast.

Can't wait until we can go back to stay.

*Yes, this is plagiarized and revised advertising copy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eric Dick, Republican, running for mayor

Charles has the official campaign announcement. Oh, what fun it is to be a blogger now.

There will be plenty of opportunities for crude double entendre' later. My first (serious) reaction was, "Annise Parker might find herself in a runoff". Probably not against Eric Dick any more than she would Don Cook, but possibly Ben Hall.

This seems to set up as a perfect redux of 2009. I just can't tell if it is Cook or Dick that's playing the role of Peter Brown. The best news, however, is that I will have plenty to blog about without ever having to mention this race.

The only thing that could make the mayoral contest more comically bad is if Dick hired Marc Campos to run his "campaign". If that should happen, I have a slogan all ready, and I offer it at no charge: "Two for the Price of One!"

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is counting down the minutes until sine die as we bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff comments on another Battleground Texas story, and what it says about how the organization is doing so far.

The state has plenty of money and the GOP is still gutting government. That's why WCNews at Eye on Williamson says that this is a golden opportunity for them, in The oath or a pledge.

McBlogger asks if it's a good idea to ask the 'rich' to forego Social Security.

Angelina Jolie's killer boobs, the walking dead in the Texas Lege, and Ted Cruz killing off the Republican party. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wonders if Dia de los Muertos came early this year.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw gives us the big picture on Texas and national party politics. Check out: Texas is One BF Deal.


And here are some more posts of interest from Texas blogs.

Open The Taps explains what they did not get accomplished this session with the craft beer bills, and which they plan to address again next session.

Letters from Texas says we need less judgment and more truth in the matters that are now dominating the news headlines.

Texas Clean Air Matters warns that it is too soon to remove Texas City from the air pollution watch list.

Juanita Jean at the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon laments that some political endorsements just aren't worth what you'd think.

Nonsequitesue has some role models for charity.

Texas Leftist reconsiders Houston Mayor Annise Parker as a role model for GLBT rights.

Texpatriate looks forward to Rick Perry peeing in a cup.

Amy Valentine discovers that Amazon has a strange definition of "erotica".

Jason Stanford connects the dots between high-stakes testing and cheating scandals.

BOR writes that Big Tobacco is on the verge of snuffing out its smaller competitors in Texas.

The Bloggess reminds us that we don't need a giant corporation to teach our kids what strong women look like.