Saturday, June 29, 2013


"The fact is, who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives?" Rick Perry asked Thursday in a speech before the 43rd annual National Right to Life Convention in Dallas. "In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances."

"She was the daughter of a single woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate," Perry continued. "It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters." 

There's no better summary of the Texas Taliban's War on Women than this, from the head mullah himself. Except for this one.

It was classic mansplaining -- as Elyse Fradkin pithily summarized it on Twitter, "when a man explains to a woman how she should view the meaning of her own life experience."

The term derives from Rebecca Solnit's article, "Men Explain Things to Me," which opens with a wealthy older man hosting an event in Aspen at which he lectures her on "a very important Muybridge book that came out this year" after she brings up the photographer in casual conversation. He goes on and on at great length until she finally realizes he is playing the expert and seeking to educate her about the book she herself wrote.

The idea of mansplaining has grown to be applied to any situation in which men believe they are the experts and drone on and on about something on which the women being lectured are the actual experts. It also refers to the social syndrome in which women cast themselves as listeners who doubt their own expertise in the face of such masculine certainty.

Update: Or, as Jamison Foser Tweeted it...

That last sentence in the prior excerpt  helps us better understand this.

Those are the Republican women of the Texas House of Representatives standing behind Jodie "Cleaned Out" Laubenberg, from the debate this past week regarding the passage of the abortion restrictions legislation. (That's her in the middle at the mic, in the pink jacket. Try not to stare at the toad in the black dress and Cinderella slippers; the one with her toes at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. Try also not to notice that some of these professional women don't wear nylons to work -- and not just because they are wearing pants, leggings, or sandals borrowed from their teen-age daughters.)

Repeated for emphasis: "women who cast themselves as listeners, doubting their own expertise in the face of such masculine certainty". Then there are the women who truly don't have any expertise, like the ones in the photo.

Because so many Republican men think that all women are like Republican women, it does not occur to them that there can be women like Wendy Davis. Or Leticia Van de Putte, whose question set off the roaring in the Texas Senate gallery that ultimately killed the bill.

We all know (that would be Republicans and Democrats, as well as Greens and Libertarians and independents) that Republican women and men like those mentioned previously are actually the minority of Texans. Our problems in Texas, however, stem from the fact that they are the majority of those who vote. That's why people like Rick Perry and Greg Abbott and Sen. Bob Deuell -- and Ted Cruz and Steve Stockman and Louie Gohmert -- and women like those pictured above are our elected officials.

We also know that these same people are desperate to keep it that way. The Supreme Court cases, the gerrymandered districts, the voter ID legislation now back on ramming speed... all of it is designed to keep people like this right where they are. In charge.

And there's only one thing that will change it: the people who haven't been voting are going to have to start. And those of us who are interested in not having representation like this are going to have to help the non-voters get registered, get their IDs, and get to the polls during early voting periods and on election day. And, of course, help inform them and keep them up to date on things, including the issues.

Texas has nearly the very lowest percentage of its citizens participating in the electoral process in the entire nation. It may be that Texans are represented by morons because so many of them are in fact morons themselves, but at least for another couple of cycles I'm going to hope that this reality can be changed with more engagement with them by the thinking class.

If you can imagine, as agents of change in state government, the swearing-in of Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in January of 2015, hopefully that is motivation enough to get to work now to make sure that scenario doesn't come to pass. Here's this weekend's opportunity in the Houston area. There are many more across the state, and there will be many more opportunities in the future, but the time to take action is now.

Women and the men who respect them can't wait any longer, but that's also true of poor people and people of color. It's gone on for too long like this as it is.

We need to change it, and this is how that will happen.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Taiwanese animate Texas filibuster

Starring Wendy Davis as Supergirl, of course.

Featuring an appearance by the Ghost of Ann Richards. And a pretty good likeness of Donna "Get them OUT! I want them out of here!" Campbell (although her ass is about twice that big in real life).

A good week to be gay

What kind of week are YOU having?

Now, if you're a woman concerned about her reproductive freedom, this week has had its ups and downs, but on the whole? Meh, not so much. A person of color concerned about your right to vote? Pretty lousy. God forbid you're poor, because it's bad, been bad for awhile, and probably getting worse.

If you're an undocumented person, there's at least a little glimmer of optimism.

But if you're LGBTQ, it's safe to say you're having a good week. Hell, your civil rights are having a pretty good year. Maybe the best year ever, in fact.

Nobody's rights have moved in the right direction farther and faster than gay rights, in particular the right to get married to the person you love. In fact, let's just stop calling it gay marriage.

You should never forget -- and I'm certain you won't --  that you'll always have people like this to contend with. The best part about sharing a society with people filled with so much hatred is that they can coin a phrase like "sodomy-based marriage" and still make it sound like fun (while at the same time being completely oblivious to themselves).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: if you're a white conservative bigot, things are bad for you and getting worse every time you open your mouth. But then again, nobody has earned a little payback any more than you.

The mills of the gods seemed to speed up a bit this week.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Watched it all, still couldn't believe it

A banana republic, run by the apes in the GOP.

Capping a chaotic end of the special legislative session, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said early Wednesday that proposed abortion restrictions didn’t pass after all.

The abortion requirements were in Senate Bill 5, which was called up for a vote that couldn’t be heard over shouting and screaming from opponents in the gallery. Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican pushing the legislation, had said the bill passed.

But Democrats disputed that, saying the action was taken after the required midnight end of the special session. Patrick had said the vote was started before midnight.

The vote was taken after a filibuster to try to kill it by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, was abruptly ended when Dewhurst upheld objections that she hadn’t strictly abided by filibuster rules, a disputed assessment.

Dewhurst’s announcement that the bill failed came after 3 a.m., following a Senate caucus meeting.

“Regrettably, the constitutional time for the first called session of the 83rd Legislature has expired. Senate Bill 5 cannot be signed in the presence of the Senate at this time. Therefore, it cannot be enrolled,” Dewhurst said.

He added, “It’s been fun, but see ya soon.”

I suppose if I had been in a couple of places in Florida, or DC, in December of 2000 I could say that I have seen worse displays of American democracy epically failing, but I wasn't. So I can't.

What I watched last night was, by every single account, a bad joke that just kept on going even after the deadline. If you want some sense of what it was like, here's 30 seconds of video that encapsulates the time from about 11:45 pm -- when a third and final point of order was sustained against Wendy the Filibusterer -- until about 12:15 am, when the DPS dragged the last of the gallery members out.

Scroll through the pictures at the top link as well. At 12:35 am I threw in the towel; nothing had yet been resolved. Look at my Twitter feed there to the right or the hashtag #SB5 to get a taste of the chaos.

It's a small and short-lived victory for the Dems, as the matter will likely produce another special session call today from Rick Perry to finish the business. It's not a Pyrrhic victory, though; a new army has been galvanized for the battle to take place this November.

With every Alamo, there is also a San Jacinto. Back to the future.

Off the Kuff and BOR have more and more links.

Update: I also like this little bit of exasperation from Dewhurst, who has -- among all of the award-winning demonstrations of asininity by the GOP -- singularly and repetitively disgraced himself throughout the special session...

But at 3 a.m., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the presiding officer of the Senate and a Republican supporter of the bill, told lawmakers and reporters that although the bill passed on a 19 to 10 vote, the bill could not be signed in the presence of the Senate and was therefore dead, blaming “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” as the primary cause. 

Texas Observer's liveblog also has the timestamp photographic evidence as shown by Sen. Chuy Hinojosa. That's when the Republicans were forced to concede.

You simply cannot elect people who run on a platform of "government doesn't work" and not expect that they will demonstrate it. Even if a person reading this was pro-life and did not object to such onerous restrictions on a constitutional right (imagine that if instead of ladyparts, the bill was about guns), they would be forced to admit that their elected officials are complete morons when it comes to doing their one job.

The Republicans in the Lege got bamboozled again on parliamentary procedure. For the millionth time.

Update: The best blow-by-blow comes from Christy Hoppe of the Dallas News, whose Tweets last night were also invaluable in describing the proceedings.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

John Roberts: "Our country has changed"

There are plenty of interpretations still getting written and posted and published, but this is the most succinct one so far...

By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court on Tuesday invalidated a formula established by Congress to determine which states and localities, mostly in the South, must "pre-clear" changes in their election procedures with the Jstice Department or a federal court in the District of Columbia.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. essentially told Congress: “We warned you.” Roberts noted that in a 2009 opinion signed by eight justices the court said: “Things have changed in the South. Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”

But Congress didn’t take the hint and revise the coverage formula, which is rooted in voting practices dating back to the 1960s and ‘70s. The court’s conservatives made good on the implied threat from 2009 and struck down the coverage formula, meaning that the Justice Department may no longer enforce it.

Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is the formula referenced.

The court did not strike down the advance approval requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965. But the justices did say lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington’s approval, in advance, for election changes.

Here's the chart Roberts provided in his majority opinion that supports his premise (that the formula in Sec. 4 is essentially archaic). It's compelling ... at least from a "liars can figure" standpoint.

Roberts uses these numbers to reach a conclusion in a similar way that Paula Deen justifies her use of the N-word. The world has changed, Roberts says, whereas Deen says the same thing ... and then demonstrates that it actually hasn't; it's just gotten a little more subtle.

But that isn't even the biggest problem with this ruling: Congress is entirely incapable of coming up with legislation that can fix the formula outlined in the now-deceased Sec. 4. Three sources for that: Chuck Todd (and a few others interviewed by MSNBC), and then Egberto Willies, and lastly, Socratic Gadfly.

Todd said on MSNBC that Congress is not “mature enough” to reach a speedy political solution.

“This is not a welcome decision, by any means,” a senior White House official said in reaction to the decision. “But there is a theoretical path for Congress to update the statute in ways that would make it constitutional.”

“As a practical matter, that may be difficult to do given political dynamics,” the official told NBC News.

Removing the map determining which jurisdictions need pre-clearance of new voting laws rendered the Voting Rights Act effectively toothless, law professor Kenji Yoshino said on MSNBC. While lawmakers could draw up a new map, “it’s not clear that this Congress is going to have the will to do that,” he said.
What the majority does not understand is that the success of the formula is what makes that increased voter participation possible. Removal of the formula even if temporary will have disastrous effects in presenting representation that does not reflect the desires of the population.

Texas is a great example that illustrates why these laws are needed. Texas finds the most ingenious ways to get around the law to suppress its voters. A state that is majority minority that votes exclusively for Republicans in statewide races is probative. Texas makes it difficult for voter registrars to get qualified, it adjust voting hours based on empirical demographic considerations that affect minorities, and draws districts based on turnout models to get around many laws. Nullification of Section 4 simply adds another tool to that toolbox. The Texas scenario is likely be replicated throughout many states.

While the Supreme Court has pretty much left the ball in the hands of Congress, it is unlikely that Congress will act for two specific reasons. Firstly, a Republican House that is in existence not by popular vote but by gerrymandering (Democrats got over one million more votes than Republicans in Congress even as they have a large majority), is in no hurry to stop the status quo. Secondly, the current Republican Party is unable to win the presidency without voter suppression. Republicans likely see this ruling as a gift.
While the Court did not specify how this would affect cases such as Texas' redistricting, I would think the takeaway is redistrict away until Congress follows SCOTUS' suggestion and does a better update than the latest renewal of the act in 2006, in line with more current demographics.

Likelihood of the current House doing this? Zero. 

So, do preclearance cases sit in limbo? Use older, pre-2006 guidelines for now, or what?

This is typical of the Roberts Court on cases like this, just like the ID provisions case in Arizona decided earlier this month. Once again, it's telling Congressinoal conservatives, "Write a bill like this!"

Likelihood of the House doing that, and gutting the VRA in the guise of updating it? High. 

The real solution, as I've blogged before, is to nationalize Section 5. That's what should have been done from the start, but northern "machine" Democrats of big cities, and northern suburban moderate Republicans alike didn't want to address racial issues in voting in their backyard at the time. Technically, SCOTUS struck down Section 4, as the New York Times story on the ruling notes, but, properly nationalizing Section 5 would include Section 4. That, in turn, gets at how this is, in essence, a legal memo from Roberts saying "Do this!"

One last bit of analysis from BBC Washington correspondent Jonny Dymond.

But the effect is pretty much the same because Congress now needs to find another way to choose states that require oversight -- and Congress is very unlikely to agree on any such thing. The court has, intentionally or not, torn the key enforcement mechanism out of the act.

So the practical effect of the Court's decision today is to kill the VRA's pre-clearance provision, and thus the entire VRA itself. And without it, state legislatures will, as SC notes above, do whatever they feel like doing with respect to redistricting, whenever they feel like doing it.

I STILL don't think that buys the GOP any more time on their highway to oblivion, mostly because I have more faith in the common man than they do. I think that people can perceive the Republican party's injustices much better than Republicans think. And the only real question that remains is whether enough of the good people take the action necessary to end those injustices.

Then again, maybe I'm just naive about that. Time, and subsequent elections, will certainly tell. 

Update: More from a couple of lawyers, Michael Li and Rachel Maddow.

Texas’ voter ID law now can be legally implemented.

To be sure, the Department of Public Safety and election officials will have to take steps to be implement the law, but it is very possible those steps can be completed in time for the law to be in place for municipal and constitutional amendment elections in November 2013. If not, the law will almost certainly be fully operative by the 2014 Texas primary in March.

Don’t count on the litigation to be over, however. It is possible that groups opposing the law could bring a suit to enjoin enforcement of the law on section 2 or constitutional grounds. To get an injunction, though, they would have to meet the high standard for injunctive relief (irreparable harm, substantial likelihood of success on the merits, etc.)

Keep in mind, when the Senate last took up the VRA, it passed unanimously in 2006. As Ed Kilgore noted, "We're about to find out how much GOP has changed" since then.

Wendy's Last Stand

Actually it's her most recent stand (you should recall that she did this at the close of the last biennial, that time regarding the budget cuts). So the senator from south Tarrant County will represent once again at the end.

Two years after drawing national attention with a filibuster, state Sen. Wendy Davis is poised for an encore today as she plans to lead another talk-a-thon that could bring down a contentious abortion regulation bill as the special legislative session grinds to a close.

The Fort Worth Democrat signaled her intentions after the package of abortion restrictions cleared a final House vote and headed toward the Senate. Republican leaders are scrambling to pass Senate Bill 5 before Tuesday's midnight adjournment but acknowledge that a Democratic filibuster could kill the bill.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, the Senate’s Democratic leader, said Davis, a mother of two and an outspoken advocate on women’s issues, will be the lead participant because of the bill’s importance to women.

“There’s an assault on women in this state and this legislation is a prime example of that,” said Watson. “It’s important that a woman who’s the mother of two daughters will be the one standing. We will all be there providing assistance and help.”

Davis is the last best hope once more for foiling Republican plans to damage the lives of Texans. That would be natural born Texans, of course.

If you are poor, of color, or female in this state -- God forbid you are all three -- the advice from some quarters is to get out while you're still alive.

Once again women are placed in a lower priority than a biological organism, and every other member of her family.  The pecking order in Texas is Father, unformed fetus, children who have been born, and finally the mother.

No man should make a decision regarding abortion.  They have no knowledge and no relationship to the issue.  Too many backward thinking men assume that abortion is an easy choice for a woman.  Quite to the contrary, and that is why abortion clinics are necessary.  Unlike a regular hospital, they offer psychological counseling before the procedure is performed.  In the State’s scenario, women will receive a lesser quality of health care.

If I was a woman, I’d be leaving Texas, and live somewhere where everyone was treated equally under the law.

Some of us would naturally prefer to stay and fight to the finish. Thank goodness for Wendy -- and everyone who was at the Capitol for most of Sunday afternoon, all of the night, and into Monday morning in support of what now becomes one woman's job.

No better woman for it, IMHO.

BOR has the action items for those who can be in Austin this morning. Twitter has the hashtags #txlege and #SB5 for you to follow the action (I recommend "people you follow" and not "all", as there are a few venomous Xtians and anti-choice spammers full of vitriol cluttering up the "all" feed). Hashtags can also be used to collect conversations on Facebook now. Or you can just watch the live video from the Senate floor at the TexTrib.

I understand that Davis will be reading some of the personal accounts Texas women have sent her regarding the difficult choices they have made in their lives. I hope she reads a few pages from The Handmaid's Tale. You know, for historical context.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is once again ready to wish the Legislature a happy summer as far away from Austin as possible as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff says to look at Farmers Branch for an example of how to turn out the kind of low-propensity voters that Democratic candidates need to win races.

Ted Cruz outed himself as a sociopath on immigration reform, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs documented his atrocities.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson had this to say about Rick Perry and the GOP playing politics with the Public Integrity Unit: It's not shocking or unfair, it's what they do.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains the governor's approach to healthcare in Rick Perry's Texas: No Obamacare, no Perrycare. Give it a read.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know Republicans prefer business profits to safe food. I wonder where they eat.


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

Open The Taps thanks everyone for getting the craft beer bills passed while promising to be back for more in 2015.

Keep Houston Houston doesn't think closing streets at railroad crossings is a good idea.

The Lunch Tray pleads for common sense in labeling GMO foods.

Concerned Citizens has some advice for San Antonio's new city council members.

Juanita Jean cannot believe she has to talk about fetal masturbation.

Texas Leftist reminds us why we celebrate Juneteenth.

Texas Watch celebrates their victories from the 83rd Lege.

Texpatriate goes George Carlin on the anti-woman caucus in the Legislature.

Flavia Isabel asks a favor of Amazon.

And finally, former Texan Elise Hu puts her time in Austin to a strangely appropriate use.

Texas House passes abortion restrictions in wee hours

3:30 a.m. -ish.

With a sweeping 97-33, the House voted to tentatively pass the Senate’s catch-all abortion bill largely along party lines after 13.5 hours of debates, parliamentary inquiries and stalling. Instant cheers and jeers exploded on the floor and in the gallery where people have been waiting for a vote since 2 p.m.

While applause rang out among conservatives, the shouts of “Shame” were much louder and many in the gallery were escorted out. In her speech, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, said the war on women was alive and called SB 5 the second missile fired by Gov. Rick Perry this year.

Just watching the live-feed and the Twitter stream was remarkable. Reproductive rights supporters wearing burnt orange shirts flooded the Capitol's gallery shortly after lunchtime Sunday afternoon. When they applauded or cheered, they were warned by DPS troopers to maintain decorum, then escorted out. When they used ASL for applause ("jazz hands") they were warned from the dais that they would be removed and arrested.

It now requires a final vote from the House before going over to the Senate, which will more than likely accept the 20-week ban provision and put it up for a vote. Senate Democrats have said they are ready to use whatever tools they can under the law to prevent the bill’s passage. 

And that means filibuster. Go Wendy Davis.

The House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, who had been missing from the front microphone since around 11:50 p.m., came up around 3:20 a.m. to close on her bill. By not debating and instead asking the chair to make motions to table amendments, Republicans saved about 10 minutes per amendment.

Laubenberg was a case study of ignorance. At one point Sunday evening, under questioning from various Democratic representatives, she compared a rape kit to an abortion -- specifically a D&C -- saying it "basically cleans (the rape victim) out".

Update IV: Laubenberg's full quote in context, from the Statesman.

The bill's sponsor stopped answering questions about her bill after the first two hours after she got into trouble denying Democratic amendments. When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.

"In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out," she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. "The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."

Her apparent confusion about "rape kits" — a phrase generally used to describe the equipment used by medical personnel during forensic examinations to gather physical evidence following allegations of rape or sexual assault — sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg, who has difficulty debating bills, then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.


The debate was heated and emotional. Houston Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, vigorously shaking a coat hanger to warn of the potential for botched home abortions, argued to add an exception for rape or incest.

Here's some more pictures. Rep. Jessica Farrar was eloquent in a point of personal privilege dissent, and Rep. Gene Wu relentless in establishing the hypocrisy of Republican politicians playing doctors on teevee. None of it mattered, though, because no amount of facts or science can permeate the bedrock of the Republican hive mind.

The War on Women experienced its Alamo last night. But that only means there's a San Jacinto in the near future.

Update: Via Claire Z. Cardona of the DMN, the three Democrats who voted in favor of SB5 are Ryan Guillen, Abel Herrero, and Joe Pickett. (Reps. Mando Martinez and Sergio Munoz were previously and mistakenly included in that number.) Update II: Not a mistake.

One Republican voted against: Sarah Davis.

Update III: More accounts of yesterday's drama from the HouChron.

Update V (Update IV is in the middle of this post): Greg has some excellent inside analysis of those members who crossed over -- and back -- on these bills.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ed Snowden has left the building

Via Greg Mitchell:

The Guardian actually has a live blog on the Flight of Snowden.   One of the latest updates:  Naming his WikiLeaks companion and claim they are book(ed) on flight to Cuba on Monday.

Also,  you can follow his alleged airliner on its path here, as it nears Moscow.  News report on Julian Assange claiming he brokered the move. 

All this after Hong Kong indicated that the US extradition paperwork "did not comply" and thus they allowed him to board the flight to Moscow earlier today. The latest at the live-blog, as I post this, is that Snowden intends to continue on to Venezuela from Cuba.

I won't update this Bronco chase here unless something more significant occurs. Twitter -- not the teevee -- is the best source for these kinds of developments.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, June 21, 2013

Aggregation for dissemination

-- Let's take Kris Banks' Facebook posting from last Tuesday to catch ourselves up on the Houston mayoral contest, and specifically Ben Hall's nogoodverybad week.

So, let's go over the past 24 hours at the Ben Hall for Houston Mayor 2013 campaign:

1. Shortly before midnight (Monday 6/17), the campaign posts two bizarre Facebook posts, one alluding to some unspecified endorsement that was coming as soon as they arranged the logistics, and another accusing the Mayor of telling Ben Hall she would not debate him, and expressing outrage.

2. For some reason, the campaign posts a comment on the debate post refuting some unspecified IRS problems and claiming Ben Hall was the victim of IRS malfeasance. If the comment was in response to another comment, then the comment being responded to is (no) longer there. However, a subsequent comment in which I ask who he is talking to generates more likes than the original comment.

3. At noon (Tuesday 6/18), the Mayor's campaign posts that his comments about the debate are false, she IS willing to debate, but only if all candidates are involved, indicating Ben Hall only wanted to debate her.

4. The following picture, which was posted in April, suddenly gets a very interesting comment.

Kris has kept it going with this most recent post last night.

Day 3 of the Ben Hall for Houston Mayor 2013 campaign keeping up this phony endorsement, in which the alleged endorser refutes it in the comments. Even giving them the benefit of the doubt, this is on the brink of going from "dumb mistake" to "willful dishonesty."

In other municipal election updates, Noah Horwitz -- via the Caucus FB page and a comment there by Green mayoral challenger Don Cook -- notes that Parker will gain a second opponent from her left, Michael Fitzsimmons of the Socialist Workers Party.

-- Republican on Republican assault in the Lege, as time grows short in the special and tempers fray.

A House Republican screamed at a fellow member of his own party as they emerged Thursday afternoon from a longer-than-expected GOP caucus meeting.

The argument appeared to be about proposed changes to House districts. The chamber is debating redistricting bills Thursday.

“You’re a liar,” state Rep. Pat Fallon of Frisco yelled at his colleague, state Rep. Bennett Ratliff of Coppell.

Other House Republicans tried to hush Fallon, but his fury wouldn’t ebb.

“Touch your buddy Gene because you’re in the same party as him,” a red-faced Fallon loudly continued, as Ratliff walked away and placed a hand on state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, as he passed by.

Asked a few moments later what the dust-up was all about, Fallon said simply, “Forgot.”

The hollering could have stemmed from a quiet dispute brewing during the redistricting debate. ...

Juanita Jean suggests the campaign slogan: "Touch Me, I'm Gene Wu's Buddy".

-- Yesterday's hearing on Texas' abortion restriction legislation just concluded a few hours ago. It also got contentous.

After more than 10 hours of testimony, and one loud protest that led to a brief recess so order could be restored, the House State Affairs Committee closed its hearing on two abortion bills at 3:40 a.m. Friday without taking a vote on either measure.

Around midnight, as the hearing that began around 4:45 p.m. continued without a break, Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, announced that the committee would receive only one more hour of testimony on House Bill 60, a sweeping abortion regulation measure, saying the comments had become repetitive and unhelpful to the committee’s decision.

The news was greeted with increasingly angry shouts from several hundred people in the audience, most of them opponents of the bills. Several shouted that that they had been waiting to speak since 1 p.m., the original start time of the hearing that was delayed about four hours by extended House debate on three redistricting bills.

After an audience member commandeered the microphone to address the committee, only to be led away by officers, the crowd loudly chanted, “Let her speak.” Cook recessed the committee, returning about 20 minutes later after several Democratic representatives helped restore calm.

“I don’t appreciate you telling me that I am repetitive,” Leslie Simms later told the panel. “I am 22 years old. I will be here every time you come for me, and if you think that’s repetitive, I’m sorry that I’m doing my civic duty.”

More here and here. Hearing will continue today. The extremist Lege elements in the Senate backed off the fetal pain crap, but intend to take the number of women's clinics in Texas from 47 to 5.

So I would anticipate more Texas women vigorously exercising their civic duty.


After a raucous night, the House State Affairs Committee met in a small room and approved without discussion three contentious abortion bills.

The House will meet at 2 pm Sunday to debate the bills that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, increase standards for abortion clinics, make doctors who perform abortions gain admitting privileges at an area hospital and mandate protocols — opposed by the American College of OB/GYNs –for pills used to induce abortions.

The three bills were passed along partisan lines.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Paula Deen whips up a Southern fried shitstorm

Oh y'all, Paula Deen has dun done it again. She has baked up and then stepped in a big ol' Chocolate Cow Pie with extra flies.

"Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n***ers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know like in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around,” ... “Now that would be a really Southern plantation wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

Another alleged racist incident listed in the lawsuit: “In the presence of Ms. (Lisa) Jackson and Uncle Bubba’s restaurant manager and a vendor, (Deen's brother) Bubba Hiers stated they should send President Obama to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico so he could n***er-rig it.”

Me and Paula have crossed swords before, back when she came out about her diabeetus, so I can't say this cornmealy-mouthed prevarication surprised me at all. Her version of the story, which came under oath:

Lawyer: Do you recall using the words “really southern plantation wedding”?
Deen: Yes, I did say I would love for Bubba to experience a very southern style wedding, and we did that. We did that.
Lawyer: Okay. You would love for him to experience a southern style plantation wedding?
Deen: Yes.
Lawyer: That’s what you said?
Deen: Well, something like that, yes. And -–
Laywer: Okay. And is that when you went on to describe the experience you had at the restaurant in question?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. We were probably talking about the food or –- we would have been talking about something to do with service at the wedding, and –-
Lawyer: Is there any possibility, in your mind, that you slipped and used the word “n----r”?
Deen: No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.
Lawyer: Why did that make it a -– if you would have had servers like that, why would that have made it a really southern plantation wedding?
Deen: Well, it –- to me, of course I’m old but I ain’t that old, I didn’t live back in those days but I’ve seen the pictures, and the pictures that I’ve seen, that restaurant represented a certain era in America.
Lawyer: Okay.
Deen: And I was in the south when I went to this restaurant. It was located in the south.
Lawyer: Okay. What era in America are you referring to?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. After the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War.
Lawyer: Right. Back in an era where there were middle-aged black men waiting on white people.
Deen: Well, it was not only black men, it was black women.
Lawyer: Sure. And before the Civil War –- before the Civil War, those black men and women who were waiting on white people were slaves, right?
Deen: Yes, I would say that they were slaves.
Lawyer: Okay.
Deen: But I did not mean anything derogatory by saying that I loved their look and their professionalism.

If you're not over Paula Deen yet, then you damn sure ought to be. But before you go, be sure and read Awesomely Luvvie's compilation of #PaulasBestDishes, yesterday's Twitter hashtag bomb.

What a delightful Juneteenth gift.

Update: Deen stiffed the Today show this morning, so I guess John Oliver and Jessica Williams at the Daily Show had the last word.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Dome lives on

The Astrodome will not be demolished after all. The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation recommended Wednesday that the Houston landmark be renovated with public funds.

The renovations will cost $194 million and will take 30 months to complete, according to officials.

My hat is off to commissioner's court for finding, at last, the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing. Honestly, I didn't think they were capable of it. I thought the best we were going to get was a subterranean parking garage with the skeleton of the old girl standing over a park for tailgating and shitkicker events.

Saying none of the 19 privately submitted ideas for repurposing the Astrodome met the required criteria, officials said they will recommend converting the Dome into a massive convention and exhibition space, promising "a new Dome experience."

"We feel we have the best idea," Sports Corporation Executive Director Willie Loston said. "That idea is a space that will allow many of the ideas that the proposals brought forward to take place."

Under the $194 million plan being recommended by the Sports Corp., the seating would be removed and the existing below-ground portion of the stadium would be filled in to create a street-level exhibit space of 355,000 square feet. The exterior of the structure would transformed into "an inviting green plaza," officials said.

The proposal will be officially presented to Harris County Commissioners Court at its June 25 capital improvement projects meeting, though Harris County Ed Emmett's office issued a statement saying sports corporation officials have briefed court members throughout the selection process.

In a statement released during the meeting, Emmett praised the sports corporation's plan.

"The concept is excellent," Emmett said. "It not only preserves an iconic structure, but it gives Houston and Harris County a truly unique and historic venue for conferences and events. Meeting planners around the world will want to use the space."

With Hunker Down's weight behind it, the Texans and the Rodeo are probably feeling a little raw after the screwing they just got. You know, the one in the parking lot.

Culture Map has more of the concept's renderings.

Other improvements would include adding glass at the stadium's four compass points for enhanced natural light and aesthetics, with a signature entry at the south end; installing solar panels on the domed roof and incorporating other building systems to improve energy-efficiency; and removing the berms, entrance ramps and ticket booths from the building's exterior to create a more continuous and useable outdoor plaza, with food vendors and restroom opportunities as well as green space.

"What we want the 'Dome to become for major events in Reliant Park is the front door," explained Miller.

The reimagined space could serve, he said, as the headquarters for Reliant Park's 24-hour security post, and would help facilitate emergency operations within the county in the case of disaster. The interior could be easily reconfigured to accommodate swim meets, graduations and other community events, football games, conventions and more.

The bond issue still has to go before the voters at some time in the future, and that could throw a monkeywrench into the plans if the TeaBaggers mobilize opposition, but today is a day to be very encouraged about the future of the Eighth Wonder.

Update: Swamplot is severely cynical about the whole thing.

The clearest sign so far that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation wasn’t really into the half-hearted call for bids to redevelop the Astrodome it sorta-but-not-really issued a couple months ago? At yesterday’s press conference where it — surprise! — announced its own plan to reinvent Houston’s most recognizable landmark, officials didn’t even bother to describe any of the 19 submissions it had received. None of them, declared executive director Willie Loston, actually came with private money attached. (At least not in the inside pockets of their presentation binders.)

The Corporation’s own new idea of turning the dilapidated former sports stadium into additional convention space doesn’t have any private funds attached to it either, but the estimated $194 million plan does already appear to have gained the enthusiastic support of County Judge Emmett — which isn’t so surprising, since he proposed a similar idea a mere 4 years ago. Rodeo chief Leroy Shafer tells the Chronicle’s Kiah Collier that he considers the latest plan to be a scaled-back version of a proposal the Corporation — with the Rodeo’s backing — promoted last year, after a half-million-dollar study led by some Dallas consultants.


...By the time the 2017 Super Bowl rolls around, if all goes according to plan, Reliant Stadium would sport a new front entrance — and the Astrodome will have been repurposed into the world’s largest . . . event foyer.

Having neatly disposed of all possible alternatives (save, of course, demolition), the Corporation is now passing its this-or-nothing proposal onto the county commissioners. They’ll vote on the plan next week. If the whole thing is an ingenious ploy to cue the Dome up for demolition — which the Texans and the Rodeo have a study saying they could do for a cool $29 million — we might get a sense of that fairly soon.

I suppose I could get pretty mad about that, if that were to happen.

Update: John Royal at Hair Balls is yet more caustic.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sociopath to citizenship

Occasionally a Republican can come to an epiphany when something they have adamantly opposed becomes personal. A senator or a congressman who has voted against stem cell research suddenly has a change of heart when a beloved grandchild comes down with a deadly disease, or if their own child comes out to them, their resistance to gay-friendly legislation suddenly softens.

Ted Cruz's own family history should make him amenable to immigration legislation, but apparently he prefers to climb the ladder of success and then saw off the rungs as he goes. When his father arrived in Austin in 1957 -- a teenage immigrant from Cuba bound for the University of Texas -- he spoke no English and had $100 sewn into his underwear. He worked his way through school as a dishwasher making 50 cents an hour. His mother -- of Irish-Italian descent and who grew up in Delaware, the first person in her family ever to attend college -- earned a math degree at Rice in the 1950s, working summers at Foley’s and Shell.

It's telling that a person could come from that background -- the panoply of the immigrant history of America -- and fail to notice the hurdles and obstacles that exist for others today who wish the same path for their children (never mind themselves).

1) The vast difference between Cuban immigration policy and that of all other Latinos;
2) Being able to work one's way through college on a 50 cents-an-hour job;
3) Achieving the classic American success story: Parents arrive with little money, one unable to speak the language, and still rise into the middle class, with a college degree and good jobs along the way.

These things were all possible in the America of Ted Cruz's parents because...

1) College used to be affordable for low income students;
2) The United States welcomed his father and gave him opportunity that did not exist to other brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking immigrants;
3) His father never had to hide in the shadows, fearful of deportation.

Ted Cruz got a good work ethic from his parents, earned a lofty education and also received dozens of opportunities not accorded others. Oh yeah, somewhere along the way he lost his soul. Or maybe he just sold it.

One thing is for certain: Ted Cruz was born without empathy. That is the hallmark of today's conservative: the more inhumane to others you can be, the brighter your prospects in the GOP.

Update: Why does this news come as no surprise to me?

In a report Thursday on NPR about how Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father shaped his vision on immigration, his father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, an immigrant from Cuba, said that while he “came to this country legally,” he basically bribed an official to get to the United States.

“A friend of the family -- a lawyer friend of my father basically bribed a Batista official to stamp my passport with an exit permit,” the elder Cruz said.

This is not the way most Cubans emigrated to the United States in the '60's. One Cuban I knew very well, in fact, told a much braver story of leaving the country.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is dismayed but not surprised by the hard right turn of the special session as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff wants to know where are all the jobs that Rick Perry is supposedly poaching from other states.

The cruel conditions that are allowed to persist in Texas, while it’s proclaimed to be a miracle economy, are deplorable. That's why WCNews at Eye on Williamson says the Texas budget comes up short.

There were some fireworks at last week's redistricting hearing in Houston, but a few of them turned out to be just sparklers. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs provides the details.

Judge Edith Jones is a piece of work. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chimse hopes that the judges reviewing the complaints against her force an impeachment.

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker explores the invisible abomination: Texas and the indigent mentally ill.. Give it a read, it's time more people knew about this!


Swamplot and Glasstire eulogize Houston "pop-up" sculptor Lee Littlefield.

Scott Braddock tells the tragic tale of the bill that would have helped prevent worker misclassification, a/k/a payroll fraud, had it not suffered the usual fate of well-intentioned reform bills in the Legislature.

Nonsequiteuse marvels at a recent example of trivializing violence in the media.

Better Texas reminds us that the fight to expand health care access to all of Texas will continue after the Legislature finally leaves.

BOR notes how far out of touch with public opinion on immigration reform the two US Senators from Texas are.

Colin Strother and Texas Leftist are firmly on board the Sebastien De La Cruz bandwagon.

Texpatriate publishes its own Best and Worst Legislators list.

Texas Vox bemoans the veto of the omnibus ethics bill.

Juanita is spitting mad at the veto of the Lilly Ledbetter bill.

Egberto Willies talks to Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the author of the Ledbetter bill, about Perry's veto. She vows to bring the bill back next session.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Headline, money graf (and some opinion and perhaps a conversation-starter)

-- Grand Bargaineers still want entitlement cuts:

The underlying issue here has nothing to do with deficits and debt and everything to do with the extent of government fiscal transfers to the elderly. There is a view, driven by a mixture of motives, that it is simply wrong and irresponsible for the government to be devoting a large and growing share of the economy to bolstering the living standards of old retired people. For whatever reason, the people who want legislative action to reduce the living standards of senior citizens prefer not to frame it that way. But their view is that a government guarantee of high living standards for senior citizens reduces the savings rate and reduces labor force participation and that this trend in public policy should be halted.

If that analysis is morally and economically correct, then it remains correct regardless of interest rates or 10-year budget projections. And it would be helpful to the world to debate it plainly.  

Medicare and Social Security were instituted in large part because so many seniors were living in poverty.  Many no longer do, but there is a younger generation saddled with enormous student debt and bleak prospects for middle class employment. With a Congress that increasingly caters to the 1%, it's no wonder the conversation in DC is all about tax cuts and never about jobs.

This intractable societal issue is only worsening. I say this as an aging boomer somewhere around the age to get screwed royally as part of any kind of 'reform'.

-- The conversation we should be having about our private data...

The NSA data-gathering "scandal" is being used a proxy for all sorts of other political fights, from Obama Sucks to ending the War on Terror to smearing whistleblowers. But the real scandal is how completely unregulated data gathering is generally. In truth, the NSA didn't go snooping around in the computers of private individuals to obtain metadata. They simply asked for it from the corporations who are gathering it in the first place. Corporations who had less choice in delivering it than you did in providing it. There are little to no regulations on "terms of service" agreements or in what you can be asked to disclose about yourself. The technological revolution in information gathering is changing the nature of what privacy means and who has a rightful claim to it. But the proxy political fight over the NSA is obscuring the real conversation we ought to be having.

Because surely, someone, anyone, needs to be asking about these reams of data and how they are being used. Or why certain data needs to be kept in the first place. For what purpose is AT&T collecting data on my daily movements? Why is my local grocer keeping track of my buying habits? What is really happening when I haven't moved or touched my phone in day or two, yet there it is sending and receiving streams and streams of I-don't-know-what. We need a modern conversation about life in the modern world and what the boundaries are. With respect to privacy, we should be talking about what privacy means in a world where everyone, or just about everyone, is walking around with listening and watching devices. Everyone can spy on everyone else. It is literally to the point of seeing videos published of people secretly recorded having sexual relations in their own homes, making a private moment a global event.

What Facebook is making us all "share" is, in many cases, not at all what we actually want to share. But they don't care. Not even if stockholders complain. Because on FB, you're not the customer... you're the merchandise. And why would any merchant care about what his inventory is worried about?

Sheep to the slaughter.

-- Why Democrats don't trust Republicans on immigration:

Senate Republicans don't believe President Obama will enforce the bill's border-security provisions--and they don't want to let millions of illegal immigrants begin working their way toward citizenship until they see the president is serious about locking down the borders. That's why they want those immigrants' eligibility for citizenship to be contingent, or “triggered,” on the U.S. Border Patrol meeting benchmarks.

But Democrats don't think Republicans will play fair when it comes to such a trigger. They fear Republicans will hold out for a trigger and then vote against the bill anyway. Or set benchmarks for a trigger that can't be reached. Or establish a trigger but then deny the Border Patrol the funding it needs to meet the benchmarks.

“The lack of trust is real,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican in the middle of the trigger back-and-forth. He is a member of the Senate “gang” who sympathizes with Democrats’ desires to legalize the undocumented population but also with Republicans’ concerns that border security will never be taken seriously.

And everyone, Graham said, is worrying about their leverage.

Enter Sen. John Cornyn ...

Cornyn's 'poison pill' amendment was gutted like a fish yesterday, and he threw a temper tantrum about it.

-- Two legal eagles in hot water: Judge Edith Jones, and Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg.

Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court formally ordered on Wednesday that a rare public judicial misconduct complaint against 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones be reviewed by officials in a different circuit — one based in the nation's capital.


It is only one of a handful of times in U.S. history that a federal circuit judge has been the subject of a public judicial misconduct complaint and a formal disciplinary review. Normally such matters are secret under federal law.

Gov. Rick Perry has indicated that he’s willing to veto the $7.5 million two-year budget to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit because of the district attorney’s DWI conviction. He wants DA Rosemary Lehmberg to step down, according to this report in the Austin American-Statesman.

Lehmberg pleaded guilty without putting up a defense, served jail time and is planning to return to her office this week after voluntarily submitting herself to a therapeutic program.

Her blood alcohol level at the time of her April arrest was three times the legal limit.

Both women are in tremendous messes entirely of their own making, and both should take the dignified route out of office.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Today's redistricting hearing

What Greg missed, I caught. Which was a grilling of the state's legal advisor, Jeff Archer of the Texas Legislative Council, by Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher. It was just a prelude to what is happening now (which you can follow over at G's O).

Martinez Fisher asked how many of the briefs and emails Archer had read, how much of the hearings he had witnessed, and other questions that essentially established Archer was fairly well out of the loop throughout this session on the topic of redistricting. Archer often looked helplessly at the chair, Drew Darby, to be bailed out, and Darby occasionally obliged him by nodding -- or shaking -- his head. After about 30 minutes of skewering, committee member Rep. Linda Harper Brown tried to short-circuit the cross-examination of Archer by Martinez Fischer (and succeeded).

Dutiful long-time followers of l'affaire redistricting may recall that Archer's deposition two years ago was barred by the state. (You can watch more of Archer speaking at an LBJ School of Public Affairs symposium. He's in the opening ten minutes.)

Update: I sat with a Fort Bend election law attorney at this hearing and he has a more nuanced and favorable view of Archer's testimony.

The most interesting thing at this hearing was the fact that Jeff Archer of the Texas Legislative Council provided some advice in public to the Committee. Archer's advice or opinions were actually very helpful to the upcoming litigation in that Archer did not believe that the interim maps being considered were intended to be final maps and that the approval of such maps would not help the Texas GOP in the next round of redistricting litigation.

I talked to Archer during the break and he basically told me that he agreed with my analysis of the interim maps and the legal effect of the Texas legislature adopting these maps. The Senate Committee approved the interim maps without change and I have no doubt that the House Committee will (do the same). However, these hearings will be helpful in the litigation that is going to occur with regards to these maps.

Frankly I was of the opinion that this hearing was going to be just another Republican kangaroo court, particularly after the one in Dallas was so contentious, and certainly in the wake this morning of the Texas Senate rubber-stamping the interim maps. My low expectations were met. Eye on Williamson...

Texas is ruled by one party. It’s unaccountable and arrogant and sees the state government as its playground. None of what happens in this special session will do anything to make the lives of Texans better. But it will allow those who run our state to score political points.

That pretty much nails it. Greg's got the rest of the fireworks at the hearing, but it sounds like they're mostly sparklers. Burka, meanwhile, eviscerates the governor, lieutenant governor, and especially the attorney general for the way this is all going down.

More speculation: I suspect Perry is furious with Abbott about this ham-handed redistricting play, which is rapidly developing into a fiasco. It really makes one wonder whether Abbott knows what he is doing and whether he is adept at the law. The triangulation among Perry, Abbott, and Dewhurst has turned in Dewhurst's favor; it looks as if Abbott has been isolated and Dewhurst has Perry's back now.

Abbott, emasculated by Perry, with Dewhurst twisting the shiv? Just too rich.

Update (Monday 6/17): Greg is covering the hearing in Austin -- probably the last of these -- and Archer is getting raked over the coals again.

Texas or bust for the GOP

Good piece at the top of the Great Orange Satan this morning, so I'm going to duplicate some of it and add a little of my own thinking at the end.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to debate comprehensive immigration reform. The amendment-o-rama begins! The actual 84-15 vote isn't indicative of much...


Aside from (Illinois' Mark) Kirk and Iowa's Chuck Grassley, the other 13 obstructionist votes all came from solidly red states. Among them? Texas freshman Ted Cruz.

This is interesting because Texas, by its lonesome self, should be the only excuse Republicans need to support genuine immigration reform.

Want some crazy math? How about this?
Mitt Romney carried Texas by a margin of 15.8 percent over President Obama in 2012. If Latino citizens had voted at the same rate as non-Hispanic whites, Romney’s victory margin would shrink to 5.4 points.
Or this?
If current demographic trends continue, Democrats would whittle about 5 ½ percentage points off the 15.8-point margin of victory won by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 in every subsequent presidential cycle. That would transform Texas - the center of Republican resistance to Obama's agenda - into a competitive state at the presidential level by 2020 and a toss-up state four years later.
Let's be clear about this: If Latinos voted at the same rates as whites, Texas would already be purple.[...]

How important is Texas? If Republicans lost it, they could win Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin and still lose the election. In other words, lose Texas, or even be forced to defend that expensive-ass state, and Republicans are screwed.
So the math is clear—Texas would be purple if Latinos voted. But they don't, so who cares, right? Well, Republicans should, because even with the same existing shitty turnout rate the growth in the Latino and Asian communities will erode the GOP's base by about 5 1/2 points every four years, or about 1.4 points per year.

In other words, demographics alone will make Texas purple by 2024. And if Latinos decide to start voting, years sooner.

Markos finally sees what those of us who worked on elections here in Deep-In-The-Hearta have known for at least the last ten years: break the spine of the Republicans in Texas, and they don't get back up for a generation.

Said it before, but it needs sayin' again: if Hillary Clinton goes for the presidency in 2016 and taps a Castro, or another Texas Latino -- it has to be a man for gender balance -- as her running mate, then the GOP doesn't get a decent sniff at the White House until 2032.

(That would be the Republican party in its current iteration, of course. It could always fall apart, split up into Whigs and Teas, and in any event maintain Southern regional strength in places like Columbia, SC and Montgomery, AL.)

Oh yeah, and Texas turns blue. Not just in the electoral college, either. Absent unknowable future events like terrorist attacks or scandals, the nation's first female president -- and then its first Latino one -- don't get defeated for re-election.

But it's what happens here at home that's the most encouraging.

No longer will the future of Texas be decided in the Republican primaries exclusively. We can kiss Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, and all their associated lackeys and lickspittles goodbye. And we can finally start moving down the road toward a more just and equitable Lone Star State. That's what Battleground Texas exists for. The TX GOP brain trust, such as it is, understands this dilemma implicitly, and it's what motivates their ongoing gerrymander of Congressional and statehouse districts, while at the same time pushing all in on wiping out the VRA at the SCOTUS.

Speaking of that, I'll be at the hearing this afternoon, and I hope to have more to be encouraged about afterwards.

Update: My hopes about the hearing were false. But Joe Scarborough and Michael Steele spoke the very next morning about their party's problems... because GOP Congressmen are talking about rape and pregnancy again.

Scarborough noted reaction he’s seen from Republicans “out and about” who are outraged by remarks like (Rep. Trent) Franks’ — and he questioned why such individuals want to damage the party.
“The national party right now really has to find a better voice,” Steele noted. “Or maybe it should just find a voice.”

A voice that will “tell the idiots out there to just shut up,” Scarborough agreed. “Because you know what? Before I pass away, I would like to have a Republican in the White House again.”

But alas, Steele lamented, “that day is looking further and further away.” Diagnosing the problem, Scarborough added, “We are so undermined by so many of the shrillest voices in our own party. That has nothing to do with conservatism.”

They can't help themselves. It's self-destructive behavior at its most classic, and no amount of carnage to their electoral future can get them to stop.