Friday, January 31, 2014

A Lone Star roundup of downballot races and more

Most of the political oxygen is being sucked up by the governor, lieutenant governor, and Senate primaries on both sides of the aisle, so with the deadline fast approaching -- as in Monday -- for Texans who are not yet registered to vote in March, an update on what's happening elsewhere in the left-right tug of war is overdue.

-- Before we move down the ballot, let's note that Dan Patrick has the endorsement of fringe-iest of the right-wing fringe mega-church pastors, John Hagee.  And say no more about that, because, really... what else can be said?

-- In the Republican primary for comptroller, Glenn Hegar says it's all about his money, and Debra Medina says no, it isn't.  Meanwhile, Harvey Hilderbran is saying he can do things even Bob Bullock could not do: bend the IRS to his will.  I suppose in the hypothetical comic-book matchup, Superman can beat up The Incredible Hulk, but only because the big green dude lets his anger get the best of him too often.

(If I have to explain that analogy, then it isn't as funny as I would hope.)

Update: And don't miss the Texas Observer's WTF Friday, starring Hegar and his guns, in a campaign ad called "Freedom".  Because freedumb means never pronouncing "comptroller" correctly.

-- It's not all bad for Texas Democrats; the TXGOP are experiencing their usual difficulties counting their money.  Socratic Gadfly has the links from the Rockwall Herald Banner...

The Texas Democratic Party (TDP) has called for a criminal investigation into alleged illegal election activity at the Rockwall County Clerk’s office, according to a statement released by the organization Wednesday.

In addition, a letter requesting a “cease and desist from unlawful political fundraising activities” was also issued by Chad Dunn, general counsel for the TDP.

A statement from the TDP on Wednesday claims the Facebook page of Rockwall County Clerk Shelli Miller advertised the sale of tickets for  Saturday’s Rockwall County GOP Reagan Day 2014 event and that these tickets could be purchased in Miller’s office at the Rockwall County Courthouse.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event, and due to the involvement of the Abbot campaign in the Reagan Day event, the TDP has asked for an investigation into the alleged illegal activities to be opened.

“It is inexcusable to use taxpayer funded facilities for political fundraising,” TDP Executive Director Will Hailer said in the statement. “The Rockwall County GOP must immediately cease their unlawful activities. This is political corruption, plain and simple.

“A thorough investigation is warranted in this case and it is incumbent on the Attorney General’s office to put election year politics aside and move forward by appointing a special investigator.”

...and Trail Blazers.

The Dallas County Republican Party failed to report more than $60,000 of transactions to the Federal Election Commission, according to a draft of an audit approved by the agency Thursday.

The report, which includes violations from 2009 to 2010, shows that the DCRP didn’t report a $24,000 credit card donation or almost $6,000 in donations from March 2010.

A transfer of $31,000 to a “non-federal” bank account was also unreported by the party. Since the county party works with both federal and state candidates, each facing different rules, it must keep separate accounts to take advantage of the less stringent Texas campaign finance laws.

Back to Gadfly with the wrap.

(S)ince current state Attorney General Greg Abbott, now running for governor, is the guest speaker at the February event, doesn't he need to recuse himself or something? Maybe appoint a Democratic special investigator?


How do you miss a $24K credit card donation, anyway?  

-- The Chron endorsed John ManBoyLove in the Republican primary for CD-36, to replace Steve Stockman.  They had to pick somebody, I suppose.

--  Paul Kennedy has the state of play in the GOP primary for Harris County district clerk.

Four years ago (Republican) Chris Daniel won the race for Harris County District Clerk over the incumbent (Democrat) Loren Jackson. Under Mr. Jackson's leadership the District Clerk's Office moved out of the Stone Age and into something that resembled our modern times. Alas, Mr. Jackson won election to an unexpired term in 2008 on the coattails of Barack Obama (perhaps you've heard of him) and was swept out in the next election.

Mr. Daniel has moved forward with the changes Mr. Jackson made -- but with a bit more of an eye on the publicity side. He cruises around town in his gas guzzling Hummer with campaign signs in the windows. Subtle is one characteristic no one would ever use to describe Mr. Daniel. [...]

(T)here are some in the Republican community who are upset with Mr. Daniel. Chief among them is the head wing nut in Harris County, State Senator Dan Patrick. Now I wish I could find a clip of Mr. Patrick painting himself blue for an Oilers' playoff game back in the 70's but since YouTube didn't exist back then those clips are rare to find.

The darling in Mr. Patrick's eye is his former employee, Court Koenning. Why exactly he's running for District Clerk isn't quite clear. There isn't exactly what I would call a groundswell of opposition to the way Mr. Daniel is running the office.

Even more curious is Mr. Koenning's website with endorsements from leading wing nuts in Harris County.

Sen. Patrick touts Mr. Koenning as a "conservative leader." State Rep. Patricia Harless says he will be "an outspoken advocate for conservatives at the courthouse." State Rep. Allen Fletcher champions his "conservative vision."

I am still trying to figure out what being a liberal, a conservative, a Marxist or a neo-fascist has to do with running the District Clerk's office. Your job as clerk is to make it as easy as possible for folks to file suits and for the courts to get the filings they need. Your job is to make the process of obtaining certified copies of filings as painless as possible. Your job is to send out jury summonses. That's about it.

This is a lament that could be applied to every single primary contest on the Republican side.  Sid Miller (ag commish candidate) weighs in on Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty.  Barry Smitherman -- boy, have we mentioned him here a lot -- Tweets a picture of a hangman's noose beside the names of Republican US Senators who favored last year's gun legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.  Jared Woodfill passes judgment on Annise Parker's wedding.  Around and around that carousel goes, and where it stops...

While this is certainly no endorsement of Chris Daniel, it should serve as a warning about the creation of made-for-election issues. I would love to be a fly on the wall so I could figure out what's really going on behind the scenes with this race. My guess is it's being used as a battleground for a fight between the far right wing of the GOP led by Dan Patrick and the more moderate wing led by whoever leads the mythical moderate wing of the Republican Party in Texas. 

More nicely said than me, and still makes the same point: if everybody in the Republican party wants to be like Ted Cruz, then where do the sane conservatives go?

And here's everything else you missed this week, some of it having nothing at all to do with politics.

Wendy Davis appearance last night draws indignant media response

The Davis campaign seems to have itself in some hot water with the state media, after they restricted access to coverage of last night's Travis County Democratic fundraiser to the Texas Tribune, which streamed the video.  James Moore, who co-authored Bush's Brain and now serves as the executive director for the Progress Texas PAC, delivers another blow.

At a Travis County Democratic Party fundraiser the campaign banned reporters from the dining area where she was circulating with supporters and speaking to the crowd. Journalists had to watch the event on a video feed provided by one of the media outlets. Nobody gets the actual facts or the sense of an event by watching it on television instead of being present in the room. This is the kind of decision that accomplishes nothing for the campaign and only agitates journalists, who, based upon (Wayne Slater's) Morning News story (about the Davis bio discrepancies), are beginning to suspect Davis is withholding details that are relevant to the public.

If you really want to go "inside baseball", then you can read this comment stream from former newspaper reporter RG Ratcliffe's FB wall, which has several other reporters who've covered Texas politics weighing in, and if you want the story straight from the Twitter feed, then you need to follow SAEN/HC reporter David Rauf and TCDP chair Jan SoiferUpdate: And a somewhat shorter and calmer discussion started by Kimberly Reeves here.

Candidates need to talk -- especially candidates who are considered the underdog. Wendy Davis ought to be running toward reporters, not away from them. Let them interview her on any and every topic they desire and then print and broadcast and post what she says from the Coastal Bend to the Franklin Mountains and from Boca Chica Beach to Dalhart. There is no other way for her to win than to be open and forthright. A candidate lacks credibility talking about running a government in a different manner when they campaign like every other person who has wanted to be governor.

Don't exercise control; exercise honesty and complete openness. Davis has big-time money in her race now and equally large interests in seeing her succeed. Those pressures have turned her campaign, in its early stages, into an operation that looks stage-managed and carefully orchestrated, which leads to mistakes. It has been credited with making pronouncements like her "origins story is now off limits," and, in an effort to change the narrative, had the candidate start talking about gun rights and fighting a state income tax. 

The first blog on the scene was, unfortunately, PJ Media, a notably conservative outfit.  I won't bother exerpting anything from there, but they have the embedded Tweets of the exchange between Rauf and Soifer if you want the abridged version of what the dispute was about.

The job of journalism is not to provide a hallelujah choir for candidates; it is to screen that candidate, dutifully and fairly, for the public office and the trust the candidate is seeking to acquire. Yeah, I know, there are Davis supporters who will suggest fairness has been absent but I haven't seen that. Unfairness is scheduling an interview with a reporter for one newspaper and then canceling and giving it to a reporter at another paper at the same time, which was an act of the Davis campaign.

Don't do that, senator. Reschedule so both newspapers can interview you. And talk, talk to anyone and everyone who will listen to you and most especially talk to reporters who can send your point of view far and wide across the state. It's your best chance to win. And don't be managed. People are sick of managed candidates. Give voters the hard truth. That noise on a state income tax and gun rights isn't going to fire up the Democratic base and you aren't going to get anyone to come over from the other side with it, either. It will, however, make some supporters scoff, and reporters think you aren't ready for the big game.

You owe journalists nothing, of course, but if you work this right, they can help you win for the people who see hope for this state in your story. 

I can only add a similar warning to what has been said before about the Davis campaign's mistakes: they cannot afford to continue making them.  Update: You don't have to read tea leaves to understand that there are more attacks coming.  The open question remains: how will Wendy Davis and her campaign staff respond to them?

If the Republicans are allowed to shape her story, to define her in the most unflattering of ways -- and if she takes one or two weeks to respond -- then you go on and can drop the curtain.

More from the Texas Observer.

Why Democrats shouldn't nominate Republican donors

Because Republicans will pwn them.  In this corner, the challenger David Alameel, with the egg all over his face.  In that corner, the defending champion "Big Bad John" Corndog.  This is the response the good doctor received to his request for a refund of his donations to Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, and all the other GOPers he's written big checks to over the years.

“Thanks in part to your support for Texas conservatives like myself, Gov. Perry, Attorney General Abbott, and others, Texas has implemented a successful pro-growth agenda, marked by prolific job creation thanks to lower government spending, less taxes, and limited regulations,” Cornyn wrote in an open letter released by his campaign.

“Without your help, conservatives across Texas could not have fought back against the big-spending, big government, pro-choice agenda that Democrats in Washington, D.C. have tried for so long to impose on our state,” the letter said. “That fight continues, and, regrettably, it is one for which no dollar can be spared.”

I am at a loss as to why Wendy Davis endorsed this guyUpdate:  And Leticia Van de Putte as well (despite her obviously pointed and kind words for him).  Well, at least until the first-quarter campaign finance reports come out, anyway.  The only thing worse than Alameel being the Democratic nominee would be Kesha Rogers being the nominee.  And if those two are in the runoff...

Let's hope the Dems have at least learned that you should just say, "I made a mistake", and not "I want a refund".  You don't often hear wealthy people say that, though.  Even when they are Republicans running for office as Democrats.

More at Texpate and Off the Kuff.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

More on what BGTX is up against

Really good stuff here from Greg Wythe on the non-standard and varying interpretations of the voter/photo identification legislation implemented in Harris County last fall.

The fundamental flaw in the “no big deal” argument is the logic that only the most dire outcome (a voter being turned away) or the most stringent cure (a provisional ballot) represents the entirety of the law’s negative impact. It’s somewhat similar to evaluating the crime rate based on the number of state executions carried out in Huntsville. Among the secondary problems are things like lengthening lines at polling places or dissuading voters from registering to vote if they feel a photo ID is all that is needed. There are other concerns, as well. But we likely won’t get a full taste of that until November 2016.

There's more you should read at the link, and Greg's going to have some followup posts but the end result is the same: lots of confusion, plenty of aggravation for voters, and an atmosphere of intimidation which results in people leaving the polling place without casting a ballot.  And for Republicans, that's a feature and not a bug.

When you see Steve Stockman walk out of the SOTU, when another Congressman threatens to throw a reporter over the Capitol railing, and another throws a temper tantrum on teevee, just keep in mind that Republicans love them some democracy so much that it makes them crazy.  But they only love it as long as they're the ones in power.

Do you think Greg Abbott understands what the greatest challenge to him getting elected governor is?  It's not the he said/she said BS, it's not how much money he can raise or spend, it's not which side has the most volunteers or enthusiasm.  It's not the unpredictable, intangible events that happen through the course of a campaign season to sway the electorate.   It's not even some combination of all those factors.

It's this.  Making voting by people who won't vote for him as difficult as he possibly can, in order to discourage them from voting at all.  Getting Texans to vote who have a poor habit of doing so is the mountain Battleground Texas must scale, and Greg Abbott is at the top of it, pushing boulders down at them.

I almost typed "kicking boulders", but thought that might seem insensitive.

Charles has some more.

Update: Greg's second post detailing some of the things he experienced last November as an EV clerk at the Bayland Park poll in southwest Houston is up.


I really enjoy Swamplot, the local real estate blog that works in some awfully good snark at opportune times.  Here, they catch what the daily let sail right over their heads.  First, the Chronic with the advertorial.

Toll Brothers is the latest in a long line of developers to use the word “wood” in the name of its new master-planned community on the north side of town.

The luxury homebuilder is calling its nearly 700-acre development Northwoods, joining other famous woods, including Kingwood, The Woodlands, Woodforest and Springwoods Village.

And now, the moneyshot.

You know the old joke about suburban developments: That they’re typically named after the natural features that they replace. But in proudly announcing the name it has chosen for the new 692-acre residential development the company is planning near the yet-to-be-built northern segment of the Grand Parkway between I-45 and U.S. 59, Toll Brothers may have made that cliché seem quaint. According to the publicly traded homebuilder, which is working with Cernus Development on the project, the top selling point for this new community is its proximity to the new corporate campus ExxonMobil is building just 6 miles to the west. Northwoods will have room for 1,000 homes built by Toll Brothers and other builders, along with “resort-style amenities that take advantage of the mature trees and topography,” including trails, parks, lakes, and a recreation center.

It’ll also have the same name as a 62-home subdivision in the Little Rock suburb of Mayflower, Arkansas, where an ExxonMobil pipeline accident last March resulted in the release of 210,000 gallons of diluted bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, onto the streets and back yards of the middle-class neighborhood.

Somebody needs a GPS device to locate the irony.  George Orwell couldn't have predicted this.

Immediately after the spill from the Pegasus pipeline, a quarter of the homes in Northwoods were evacuated. The gloppy nature of the oil product, which until the pipeline break residents had no idea was flowing near their homes, made cleanup very difficult. As of 2 months ago, almost half of the homes in Northwoods had either been listed for sale or been bought up by ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil demolished 3 of the 20 homes it bought after a soil assessment found oil had leaked into the foundations. After months of complaints by residents who said they were still feeling effects of the toxic fumes, Arkansas governor Mike Beebe ordered free medical exams for Northwoods residents.

Keystone XL runs a little to the east of Northwoods Texas, so I'm sure they'll be okay.  Happy househunting, all you new XOM managers!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is it insensitive to say Greg Abbott is "running" for governor?

The so-called nefarious intent implication that Greg Abbott's sycophants have tried to link to Wendy Davis' unofficial campaign slogan has already been batted away.  There's a question still worth pursuing, and it's this entire business of whether simple words, phrases, or images used to describe elections, or by politicians in the course of their campaigns, is in some way unfair or unkind.

John Coby raises a real good point here.

His unfortunate story is known to most political savvy people. He ran under a tree and was paralyzed when it fell on him. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps after winning the $10 million lawsuit lottery. He then permanently latched himself to the tit of the government as an elected official. Everyone, including me, wishes he had used a treadmill that day, or ran on the other side of the street, or ran on a high school track, but he needs to stop painting himself as a victim on a daily basis.

Over the next few months there will be statements made such as "Greg Abbott has no legs to stand on concerning... " or "Abbott is running on a campaign of fear". These are common political statements and should not be construed as an attack on his unfortunate situation.

Abbott's attacks on his opponent will be as fierce and low-life as his party's attacks on former Senator Max Cleland, a decorated Vietnam war veteran who lost both legs and an arm. Abbott is expected to stoop as low as a political crack whore in order to win. What is not expected or appreciated is his constant whining when someone returns the political favor.

"Standing with Wendy", "On Her Own Two Feet", "walking a mile in her shoes", and other similar innocuous bipedal references are being twisted into pejoratives presumably aimed at the Candidate on Wheels.  The most notable of those efforts was pulled off by convicted criminal and serial liar James O'Keefe, with a helping hand from corporate media that should know better (and do better).

Going a step further: if vermin like Erick Erickson want to keep adding to their doll collection, then "Coathanger Ken" moves into fair play.  And it's just a short hop from there to "Crippled Ken".

See what I did there?

Greg Abbott needs to pull up his big boy underwear, stiffen the steel implant in his spine and get ready to take it, especially if his minions are going to keep dishing it.

Davis finally pushes back, and more Texas roundup

A little bit, and hey, it only took a week.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, delivered a ferocious defense Tuesday night of her life story and her parenting of her two daughters, declaring that Attorney General Greg Abbott has “picked a fight with the wrong Texas gal.”

“I won’t let anyone take my family’s truth away from me,” said Davis, speaking even as President Obama was delivering his State of the Union speech. It was the most passionate and powerful defense of the now-contested personal narrative that has been central to her message as a candidate for governor.

“Greg Abbott can sink as low as he wants, but I won’t let him drag me down with him. He can run a campaign about my past; I’m going to run one that’s about your future,” Davis told the Travis County Democratic Party’s Johnson-Bentsen-Richards dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel. “But there’s one thing I have to say before I leave Greg Abbott and his allies to play in the gutter once and for all. And I want to say it right here, right now, with Texas listening – because I want to make sure our opponents can hear it loud and clear. You can attack my record. You can challenge my ideas. You can play holier-than-thou with my life story. But I draw the line when it comes to lying about my family.”

First there was the assist from Greta Van Susteren of Fox, which was prolly the best thing of all.  Then there was the letter from Wendy's two daughters, and the gift of the shotgun that belonged to Ann Richards.  There was also a populist fundraising appeal.  But that was sandwiched around the non-endorsement from the HGLBT Caucus, which had to stress that was no big deal.  (Those folks made a couple of other weird choices. Gonna have a post on that at a later date.)

The takeaway for me is that if the Davis campaign is going to take 7-10 days to do rapid response...

Update:  As remains the case over the past two weeks, there's just not much local blog coverage about the Davis campaign developments beyond the LGBT-specific postings of Lone Star Q linked above, Socratic Gadfly, The Inanity of Sanity, and Burnt Orange Report.

-- It was US Rep. Randy Weber's turn to take the dumbass pills, and right before the SOTU last night, he swallowed the whole bottle.

This is troll bait, of course. He's seen how much attention Steve Stockman can command with this soapbox, and since Louie Gohmert can't figure out Twitter, Weber has come to the realization that there's a void to be filled.

-- John Culberson wants you to know that it was he who killed light rail on Richmond Avenue.

"I'm very proud to have been able to protect Richmond and Post Oak from being destroyed as Fannin and Main Street were destroyed," Culberson told CultureMap following a fundraising luncheon at Tony's, which not so coincidentally is located on Richmond.

Culberson trumped METRO in his long-running feud with the local transportation agency. He has been threatening and attempting to get his law passed for several years. "It's a permanent federal statutory law. So it's a felony if any governmental entities attempt to spend any federal money to push rail on those routes," he said.


"This is the end of all federal funding on Richmond," he said.

The Democratic primary in CD-7, for the right to challenge this numbskull, is taking a sad but familiar path.  More on that also in short order.

Update: Charles digs deeper.

-- Congratulations to Celia Israel, who won the special election yesterday to replace the retiring Mark Strama in Austin.  She gives the Texas Legislature its second LGBT elected representative, which is the first time that has ever been the case in the long history of the state.  The times they are a-changin'.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sometimes when I see SOTU, my dyslexia processes it as STFU

That is not intended to be a negative inference toward the president.  When I criticize Obama, it's without passive aggression and only occasionally with snark.

What the president will say tonight...

Democrats expressed confidence that the economic message Obama is expected to push in his speech will work to their advantage.

“He’s going to put a spotlight on this defining issue, and that spotlight will grow in the coming months,” said Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “This campaign is going to be about who’s on your side. On that issue, the contrast between Democrats and Republicans in Congress could not be clearer.”

Democratic strategists consider the debate over the minimum wage and unemployment insurance important in some of the most competitive races.

What he should say...

-- Go big on economic inequality.

-- Demand an end to "too big to fail".

-- Put his weight behind the push to increase the minimum wage.

-- Quit pushing the TPP and KXL.

... and what he won't say.

If Obama were being perfectly honest, he’d explain to a nationwide audience that Washington politicians mostly plan to sit on their hands in 2014, with posturing for political advantage in the November elections far more important than helping strengthen the U.S. economy. That's why Obama will reportedly be more aggressive in using executive authority to pursue pet projects, in lieu of authorization from Congress.

Voters, for their part, also have a dwindling appetite for government solutions to economic problems. It’s not even clear there’s much Washington could do if it wanted to. “My fellow Americans,” Obama might say if administered truth serum, “this year, you’re on your own.”

He won’t say that, of course, and the press has been dutifully reporting all the new initiatives the president’s aides have been leaking to them. But the U.S. economy has now decisively shifted from crisis mode — in which the feds pump out emergency funds to make up for cutbacks in spending elsewhere, as with the big 2009 stimulus program — into recovery mode, with spending in other sectors bouncing back. State revenues, for instance, are approaching new record highs, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, allowing governors to propose tax cuts, new spending on education and other moves typically categorized as “stimulus.”

In other words, blahblahblah*standingovationfromDems*sittingandsulkingfromRs*blahblahblah rinse repeat.

Four boobs on the tube

All four want to force a woman to give birth to a child that is the product of rape or incest.  All four said that the judge who compelled the hospital to end life support for a brain-dead pregnant woman carrying a deformed fetus was wrong, and would support a bill in the next session to prevent another judge from doing so.

All four support the teaching of creationism in public schools.  All four are opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana.  (Only Patterson among them favors the use of medical pot.)  All except Patterson want a fifty-foot-high wall at the Rio Grande border armed with machine gun turrets and high voltage current running through the concertina wire at the top.  (That's barely an exaggeration.)

Dan Patrick wouldn't pay back the debts he went bankrupt on, even now that he has the money.  Jerry Patterson can say "tetrahydrocannabinol", several times, without mangling it.  Todd Staples' head is still too large for his body.  And Dewhurst is so confident of victory that he didn't bother to work in any time for debate practice.

No questions about infrastructure, or water, or the environment, or the Texas economy, or education, or Medicaid expansion, or predatory payday lenders, or anything of substance to anyone outside the Tea Party base of the Texas Republican Party.

Thus, the winner of last night's Texas lieutenant governor debate was... Leticia Van de Putte.

Update: More from Wayne Slater (who still has miles to go to redeem himself, IMHO)...

If a single candidate doesn’t win a majority of the vote on March 4, the GOP primary fight will go to a runoff between the two top vote-getters.

The political calculus Monday night was finding a way into that runoff — either by saying something appealing about yourself (Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson declaring himself the friend of guns in virtually every public place in Texas) or critical of an opponent (Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples telling Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst he ought to put more money in education and less on his personal security detail).
Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston targeted Dewhurst all night with a Texas equivalent of “Who lost Panama?” Patrick asked who created Democrat Wendy Davis — and pointed straight at Dewhurst.

In Patrick’s telling, Dewhurst bungled the handling of an abortion-restrictions bill last year, allowing the filibuster that catapulted the Fort Worth state senator to national prominence.

If there’s anything conservative Republican primary voters probably agree on, it is that they don’t care for Davis.

“Barack Obama and the Democrats created Wendy Davis,” Dewhurst protested. And he predicted: “Davis is going down faster than she went up when [likely GOP gubernatorial nominee] Greg Abbott beats her in November.”

Well at least they're not yammering like chauvinistic pigs.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance reveled in the insane clown posse (apologies to the actual ICP) that the TXGOP put on display last week.  But t wasn't all Greg Abbott and John Cornyn and David Dewhurst and Louie Gohmert.  It was also Ted Cruz on Face the Nation, and Steve Stockman gone MIA as a sideshow act.

Here's the best from the Texas lefty blogs from last week.

Off the Kuff presents interviews with Reps. Alma Allen and Carol Alvarado, as well as with challenger Azuwuike Okorafor.

Horwitz at Texpatriate discusses the least crazy Republican lieutenant governor candidate, Jerry Patterson.

Eye On Williamson has an update on the race for Congress in TX-31. Tea party Congressman John Carter has some serious competition in 2014: Get To Know Louie Minor -- Democrat For Congress in District 31.

It's a new year for everyone and everything, including the Affordable Care Act. Despite endless obstuction, Republicans were unable to stop its arrival in Texas. Though as Texas Leftist found out, they were able to weaken the law, and endanger Texas hospitals in the process.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs summarizes a blistering week in Texas politics.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says watch out for the energized young, Democratic voters emerging in the Valley.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about how the government in Ukraine has used people's cell phones to track down and send messages to individuals taking part in anti-government protests. Neil says folks are mistaken if they think our own government won't do the same to intimidate people taking part in lawful protests in the U.S. All People Have Value is part of


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

Juanita Jean offers some advice to Dan Patrick and Jared Woodfill.

Texas Vox reports on the opening of the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Lunch Tray continues its advocacy against chicken that has been processed in China being served in school lunchrooms.

Grits rounds up some coverage of Court of Criminal Appeals races.

The Texas Green Report checks in on the earthquakes in Azle and Reno.

Mean Green Cougar Red attended a presentation on the proposed high speed rail line between Houston and Dallas.

Nonsequiteuse thinks Greg Abbott is applying for the wrong job.

Progress Texas and Unfair Park gather some of the more colorful reactions to recent stories about Wendy Davis.

Finally, Ileen Haddad tells you everything you need to know about surviving the winter in Austin.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

More postscripts to the week's developments

-- Greg Abbott rolled out to a pro-birth rally in Austin yesterday and did that thing he does so well.  No, not sue Obama; pander to the freak right wing.

Abbott touted his own record, as Texas attorney general, of defending state abortion laws, including 2011’s sonogram law, which requires abortion-seekers to receive a sonogram and listen to a description of the fetus at least 24 hours before they can get the procedure.

He also mentioned his role in upholding HB 2, the sweeping abortion bill that cleared the Texas Legislature this summer despite Wendy Davis’s 11-hour filibuster. The law bans abortions after 20 weeks and imposes new restrictions that have led to the closure of as many as one-third of the state’s abortion clinics.

“I am a reminder that it does not take legs to take a stand. It takes backbone,” he said, in reference to his own use of a wheelchair and Davis’ campaign slogan “Stand With Wendy.”

You don't have that either, buddy; you got an implant.  The most significant thing inside your torso is a bulging sac of self-loathing and guilt.  Have you considered an empathy transfusion?  Does the state insurance plan not cover it?  Are the millions of dollars in your personal bank account -- and the many more millions in your campaign account -- still not enough for a down payment?

“The person who led the fight for late term abortion is now running to govern this great state,” he said, referring to Davis’ efforts to beat back House Bill 2.

“She’s partnering with Planned Parenthood to return Texas to late term abortion on demand,” he continued. “They support abortion even when it causes pain to a child in the womb. ”


(Though there is no conclusive evidence that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain, most scientific research suggests that brain connections required to process pain are not developed until at least 24 weeks.)

I sure hope some Democratic activists are getting motivated by those words right about now.

-- Speaking of responses or lack thereof, Burnt Orange is one of the very few Texas progressive blogs -- outside of Socratic Gadfly (who's been solid in his coverage but is certainly no ally) and Eye on Williamson and McBlogger -- that picked up the gauntlet this past week to either defend Senator Davis from the unrelenting conservative smears, or push back on a topic that the so-called liberal media hasn't mentioned.

There is an unsettling trend on Greg Abbott's Facebook page: routine death threats against Wendy Davis. Not only are the threats violent and full of sexist bile, but they continue without comment from Greg Abbott -- though he and his staffers certainly haven't shied away from promoting sexist attacks on Davis in the past.  

Of course it's not just on Facebook, but also everywhere else on the Internet where a goon sitting in his underwear can figure out how to log in and post something full of hate and badly misspelled words.  And when it's not actual death threats, it's the normalizing-via-repetition of the misogyny.

Both the threats and general attacks against Davis on Abbott's page have a uniting theme beyond antagonism towards "liberals" who are trying to take over Texas. It's the same theme that runs through articles that claim Davis is "too stupid" to hold statewide office and all of the variations on "Abortion"/"retard" Barbie thrown Davis' way. All of them are mired in sexist vitriol. Davis is sexualized, a "Barbie," or a "skank." She is either too pretty to be taken seriously, or not valuable because she isn't attractive enough. She once had brown hair (gasp!) that was frizzy (oh no!) and so obviously she cannot be trusted to run for statewide office. She has been both criticized for being a single mother and reprimanded for having relied on her ex-husband during their marriage. As a woman facing a sexist society, there is nothing Davis can do to negate the fact that she is, in fact, a woman.

Regarding the media coverage -- corporate, social, and otherwise: surely we are not going to accept the wisdom and insight of Mark Jones at Rice University as worthy of careful consideration?  (If our name isn't Greg Groogan at Fox26, that is.)  While many locals remain silent, national pundits like Carl Cannon are happy to fill the void.  We're thankful that Jessica Luther didn't take the week off.

With the latest James O'Keefe video that legacy media reporters are promoting at face value, are there still some Democrats who are afraid it might be offensive to say that Greg Abbott is shaking in his boots because of Wendy Davis?  If so, then 'now' might be a good time to get on over that.  Then again, perhaps Liza Mundy is correct; maybe Texas just isn't ready for a single mother running for governor. 

nonsequiteuse is doing some counterpunching, and also pointing out the ridiculousness of Abbott's ongoing vendetta against the Affordable Care Act.  So there's that, at least.

-- John Cornpone has decided he's going to be against fixing the Voting Rights Act.  He gets a letter about that.

Dear Senator John Cornyn,

It’s me, Melissa. You told the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News:
“I don’t understand the rationale for discriminating against places that have made huge leaps and improvements in terms of minority voter participation by continuing to treat them as if it’s 1965.”
You don’t understand? Well, let me see if I can help. You are opposing a bipartisan bill (read it here) that will subject states with five voting rights violations in 15 years to greater federal scrutiny. Or one violation could be enough in an area with long-term low minority turnout. That means Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are in.

But it’s not discrimination. It’s a formula.

Now I know you want to focus on Texas’ “huge leaps” in the last 50 years, but let’s put those leaps in context – because Texas has quite a history. Back in 1848, even though a treaty ended the Mexican-American war and granted citizenship to Mexicans living in your state and others, Texas used English language proficiency, property requirements, violence and intimidation to keep them from voting.
During the Civil War in the 1860s, because Union troops never made any significant advance into Texas – well, your state became a place for slaveholders to stash their human property, while also suppressing news of Emancipation.

Then, after the 15th Amendment granted black men the right to vote in 1870, y’all down in Texas got real creative – not only implementing poll taxes and other Jim Crow voting tactics, but also creating the White Primary, which barred black voters from casting primary votes.

In 1917, your state banned interpreters for Spanish speaking voters at the Texas polls. And in 1962, residents in Houston’s minority communities received false warnings they might be arrested at the polls if they had outstanding parking tickets – and Latinos in Rio Grande got letters saying it would be better to stay home rather than risk arrest.

Your state’s history is relevant, Senator Cornyn, because it is a long and shameful litany of tools to abuse, coerce, and disenfranchise non-white voters in your state. For the past 50 years, the pre-clearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act has limited your state’s ability to continue that history – though some abuses did continue.

Like in Waller County, where strict voting registration rules allowed county officials to reject voter applications, mostly from students at the historically black Prairie View A&M University. And Texas was second only to Mississippi between 1982 and 2006 in the number of Justice Department objections under the VRA’s Section 5. And it seems Texas couldn’t wait to get back to even more aggressive efforts, because when the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act last June, it took just hours for Attorney General Greg Abbott to announce that Texas would move forward with its voter-ID law.
A law that not only affects voters of color, but also disproportionately affects Texas women – including state Senator Wendy Davis! In the most recent election she had to sign an affidavit before casting her ballot because her voting record didn’t include her middle name.

So Senator Cornyn, I hope these reminders help you understand why Texas should fall under any new formula for pre-clearance. It’s really not about discriminating against Texas. It is about Texas’ history of discriminating against its own voters.

-- There's stupid, and then there's Louie Gohmert.  I hope he doesn't get diabetes or cancer or anything, but it's nice to know that if/when he does, Obamacare will still be there to cover him.  No pre-existing conditions, you see.

-- Steve Stockman may crawl out of his hole tomorrow. Does anybody really care?

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Matt Angle sticks up for David Alameel

The Lone Star Project defends the dentist's contributions... by not mentioning his large checks to Republicans.

As many people know, David Alameel, who is currently running for the Democratic nomination to oppose US Senator John Cornyn, has been a generous contributor to the Lone Star Project. As a result, a number of people have asked us questions about his political contribution history.

The Lone Star Project reviewed the Alameel contributions to Democrats since 2008. As you can see from the chart below, Dr. Alameel has been very supportive and generous to Democratic candidates and organizations and certainly ranks as one of the largest Democratic donors in Texas.

We hope this information is helpful to individuals and members of the press as they follow the Alameel campaign.

Thank you, Matt.  That thick layer of gloss was helpful.  But Maxey Scherr's e-mail, detailing Dr. Alameel's contributions to John Cornyn -- and David Dewhurst and Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch and the National Republican Senatorial Committee and about a hundred other Republican politicians and organizations for several years prior to 2008 -- was more helpful.

Normally I would be supportive of any Republican who came to their senses and abandoned the party, especially one who has done so since Barack Obama was first elected.  That is a trend line -- particularly in Texas -- which has creeped in the opposite direction, as both polling and election results over the past five years have revealed.  And David Alameel's campaign donations since 2008 have been large, frequent, and to Democrats everywhere.  But in 2012 he decided that he wanted not to just own the team, but play quarterback.  (Not even Jerry Jones, Alameel's Dallas neighbor, is that stupid.)  Angle is hoping for a repeat of the last cycle, where the good doctor spends lots of money trying to secure the Democratic nomination, and after he fails, continues to sign lots of big checks to many other Democrats.  Alameel has bragged about his magnanimity to the foe who vanquished him in the Congressional race two years ago, Marc Veazey.

And while an e-mail from Alameel's campaign sent recently to the TDP database of of potential D voters contains a strong declaration of support for Roe v. Wade, Dr. Alameel 's actions suggest a conflict with full support for a woman's right to choose.  I am much more concerned with Alameel's involvement with "pro-life" (sic) organizations and state representatives than I am with how many months Wendy Davis lived in a trailer park, or whether she was 19 or 21 when her first divorce was finalized.  Perhaps someone working for Texas media can write a penetrating expose' about that. (Watch the ten-minute video at that link, please.)

But the bigger problem is that the Texas Democratic Party has affixed their blinders so that they see "mo' money", and not the issues and their policies, as key to victory in 2014.  I disagree with that.  I'm not a big fan of Dr. Alameel's lingering duplicity on abortion, but I'm even less fond of oligarchs, no matter which of the two major political parties they belong to.

The money needs to be removed from our political system.  Full stop.  But like crack to an addict, getting the junkies to voluntarily kick the habit is the hardest part.  The best way -- the only way, for the immediate future -- that I see to move the needle is not to vote for the rich people, or the people the rich people write checks to.

Yes, there will be lots of sulking consultants and pouting politicos.  To paraphrase Mayor Annise Parker, they can get over it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A furiously busy week to be a political pundit

And not only if you're trying to keep up with all the bilge being spewed at Wendy Davis by Republicans.  But since nobody in Texas wants to hear anything about Chris Christie and his Texas prison deal, or Bob McDonnell, or Mike Huckabee, or even Dinesh D'Souza, then let's go with the (septic tank's) flow.

Peggy Fikac swallows the same GOP hook, line, and sinker that Wayne Slater bit on, and now she's flailing around in the bottom of the bucket with him.

Sen. Wendy Davis was back on defense Thursday after a conservative group released a video purportedly showing her supporters making disrespectful comments about her expected general-election foe, Attorney General Greg Abbott, using a wheelchair.

Davis, D-Fort Worth, quickly released a statement condemning as "abhorrent" the language in the video distributed by controversial conservative activist James O'Keefe, known for selective editing of videos critics call deceptive. The footage appeared to include a meeting of volunteers for Battleground Texas, a group closely tied to the Davis campaign.

It was another day of Davis responding to criticism in a week that started with intense scrutiny of her background, which she has described in shorthand fashion as a journey from a 19-year-old single mother in a trailer park to graduation from Harvard law school.

You would also have expected the Texas Tribune to take this bait.  And the pushback is under way.  It's a pity that anybody is willing to believe anything on a video submitted by James O'Keefe at this point,  but hey, the corporate media hates being called 'librul' just as much as conservatives enjoy calling them that, so whaddya gonna do?

I'll say it again: this right-wing bullshit avalanche is not doing much of anything to sway independents to vote Republican.  It is meant to plant seeds of doubt in the mushy minds of low-information voters.  It may succeed in that endeavor.  What we once assumed about vile personal attacks depressing voter turnout turns out not to be the case.  But if Republicans can fling everything they can think of at the wall, and have some of it stick, thus keeping Texas voter turnout at abysmally low levels... they can prevail.  As they have in Texas for a generation.

This once again demonstrates the steep hill Battleground Texas must climb.  And while there are some Republicans who understand where this is leading their party, they're deep in the closeted minority.

As far as Wendy Davis supporters saying mean things about Greg Abbott being confined to a wheelchair goes, I've got all you could ever want.  I'm just disappointed that little douchenozzle O'Keefe can't find the stones to link to me.  But then doctored video seems to be his fairly exclusive thing.  Poor dumb Greg has tried to draw attention to those posts, but nobody pays him any mind.  (Greg: try #tcot. I understand that helps sometimes.)

And I'm going to keep plugging away at the despicable sociopath and modern-day fascist that is Wheelchair Ken (or Coathanger Ken, if you prefer) just as long as RWNJs keep saying things like "AB", "golddigger", and "liar".  And I doubt that the legacy media is ever going to write a story about all the nasty shit the right-wing freaks have already said and written about Wendy Davis, and I doubt that Davis will have to disavow my support, since I'm kind of a Greenie anyway.  And if there are any Democrats who think it's mean to say that Greg Abbott's conscience and empathy are as withered and useless as his two legs, then they don't remember the lessons Lloyd Bentsen taught them.

If there are any cringing liberals who don't want to play politics the way conservatives play it, then they can go play Candy Crush.  I'll punch back for them.

Update: Nobody does it like Wonkette does it.  And Socratic Gadfly has more on the week in Texas politics that was.

Keystone XL lets it flow

It was declared dead, it came back to life.  Let's call it Zombie Pipeline.

The Keystone XL Pipeline runs under Julia Trigg Crawford’s North Texas farm. It’s been carrying crude for over a month. But (this past Wednesday) business is scheduled to open in earnest on the controversial pipeline, with oil flowing from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in Texas. That’s why she’s worried about an “unusual flurry of activity” she noticed over the weekend.

“Track hoes, skids, water trucks, electrical trucks and construction crews showed up,” Crawford tells StateImpact Texas. “They unearthed the pipeline, attached wires and sensors, wrapped it in something and then covered it up.”

She says TransCanada  — the company that owns the pipeline — later told her it was installing heat sensors. (Representatives from TransCanada did not respond to an interview request by deadline). ...


At peak capacity, the pipeline will deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day to Gulf Coast refineries. Supporters of the project argue that pipelines are the safest means of transporting oil, and say it will provide a boost to the economy. Opponents have fought it over concerns for the environment and land rights issues among other things.

Now, as the Obama administration continues to consider whether to allow the northern leg of the project, which crosses an international border and is subject to presidential approval, the perception of how the southern pipeline operates may be of even greater importance. Crawford hopes the president is now looking at “data” on the pipeline and saying, “‘Wait a minute, there aren’t as many jobs that are being generated, this is an export pipeline, there are threats to our waterways,’” Crawford says. “You know, we need to see what significant impacts to our environment it has.”

Despite the stalling by he Obama administration, the filthy dirty tars sands oil has been coming anyway to the Texas refineries, the only ones that can process it into marketable petroleum products.  It's been coming by rail from Canada -- along with highly volatile Bakken shale oil from North Dakota -- then offloaded at Cushing's vast storage facilities, and now it's moving into the pipeline, oozing its way south and then out of it in Houston and Port Arthur.

The dangers associated with the rail shipments, which have made a lot of headlines recently, is ironically brightening KXL's future.  If you're inclined to believe a bought-and-paid-for US Senator, that is.

A government warning about the dangers of increased use of trains to transport crude oil is giving a boost to supporters of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. and Canadian accident investigators urged their governments Thursday to impose new safety rules on so-called oil trains, warning that a "major loss of life" could result from an accident involving the increasing use of trains to transport large amounts of crude oil.

Pipeline supporters said the unusual joint warning by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada highlights the need for Keystone XL, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Oil started flowing Wednesday through a southern leg of the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Houston region.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the yearslong review of Keystone has forced oil companies to look for alternatives to transport oil from the booming Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana to refineries in the U.S. and Canada. A planned spur connecting Keystone to the Bakken region would carry as much as 100,000 barrels of oil a day.

"Clearly because this project has been held up, that is creating more (oil) traffic by rail," Hoeven said Thursday. "Those companies are being forced to deliver their product by rail because they don't have the pipelines."

Clearly not, Senator.

"It's disingenuous for supporters of Keystone XL to suggest that if we (open) Keystone, we won't have safety risks posed by crude-by-rail, and if we don't built the pipeline we will" have those risks, said Anthony Swift, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council who has studied the Canadian tar sands.

Shipment of oil by train is likely to continue, whether or not Keystone XL is approved, Swift and others said, as companies seek to capitalize on an oil boom that has pushed North Dakota to become the second-largest oil producing state after Texas.

So there you have it. "Fuck you America, we got money to make selling gasoline to China, so we're jamming this pipeline through, and your kids can just get leukemia and die.  Oh, and fuck Al Gore and his climate change, too."

"We don't care about your protests, we don't care about no laws, and we damn sure don't care about no stinking environment.  We got quarterly projections to meet and bonuses to make and stockholders to be accountable to, and besides the price of politicians is going up.  So there's all that.  Now GTF out of our way; we're the oil bidness.  Nobody jacks with us.  Nobody."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Maxey Scherr vs. David Alameel *updated*

This remains the top fight on the card in the US Senate Democratic tilt.  It was just ten days ago (!) that Wendy Davis waded into a quiet primary and endorsed Alameel, surprising and disappointing a few of us pundits.

Davis did not mention abortion rights, the issue that was the focus of her 13-hour filibuster in 2013. That, and past contributions that Alameel has made to Republican candidates, has prompted some activists to question his commitment to abortion rights.

Not just that.  There was no mention of Alameel's position on women's reproductive freedom on his Senate website, either.  And his 2012 Congressional website had been taken down, and there were mumblings about an anti-choice YouTube from that campaign.

Then a week ago, Scherr pushed back.  Then, day before yesterday, and in the midst of the Republican eruption over Wendy Davis' life story, Alameel revised and extended his remarks on several issues, including women's right to choose.  Then yesterday...

On Wednesday, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade ... Alameel sent out a letter highlighting his support for a woman's access to abortion and decrying "the continued Republican attacks on choice."

And Scherr pushed back again.

Scherr added in a phone interview that she is skeptical of Alameel's current commitment to abortion rights.

“If he’s for these things, how come he’s given $1.6 million to the candidates and causes that have fought to block choice for women?" she said.

When asked about Scherr's claim, the campaign released the following statement:

“David Alameel is a longtime, proud pro-choice Democrat and strong supporter of Roe v. Wade, which the Supreme Court set as the law of the land decades ago. It’s unfortunate that some politicians feel the need to fling baseless accusations at fellow Democrats to score political points instead of working together to highlight Senator John Cornyn’s extreme, anti-choice record in Washington.”

The other candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination are getting drowned out in this wave of earned media by Scherr and Alameel.  Which isn't necessarily a bad thing in one case.

Along with Alameel and Scherr, three other Democrats are running for U.S. Senate: businessman Michael Fjetland, Odessa physician Harry Kim and Kesha Rogers of Houston, a LaRouche candidate who favors the impeachment of President Obama.

While it would certainly be a smorgasbord of schadenfreude for the media, not to mention a boon for the third party candidates on the November ballot -- which include the Green, Emily Sanchez, one of three Libertarians, and the four independents -- if Steve Stockman and Kesha Rogers were the duopoly nominees, that would be a pretty horrifying development for Texans generally.

As mentioned at the end of this, Scherr and Fjetland appear to be the two most qualified Democrats to move on to a runoff.  And Dr. Alameel is welcome to continue making his generous contributions from the sidelines of the arena, and not from the playing field.

Update: Via Socratic Gadfly, Dr. Alameel is a member of the Catholic Foundation's Advisory Board.  The board gave a significant grant last year (.pdf) to the Catholic Crisis Pregnancy Centers/Birthchoice.  That organization -- the one in Dallas, where the foundation is also headquartered -- is quite obviously not a women's clinic where pregnancy termination is an option.

Crisis pregnancy centers generally are not known for their pro-choice initiatives.  I suppose if I were an enterprising journalist, my first question of Dr. Alameel might be: is there any internal conflict between the advisory board's awarding of this grant and your pro-choice views?

Update II: Alameel also lists the two most pro-life Democratic state representatives in the Texas House, Ryan Guillen and Joe Pickett, as endorsees.  If Alameel is so strongly pro-choice... then that must have something to do with money.  What do you think?

The last words

Oh, there will be more sewage flushed out by the conservative slime machine, but it will soon flow into the gutter and on out to the Gulf.  The infrastructure built to quickly lance the right-wing boils and clean out the pus and infection from the body politic has improved significantly since the days of the Swift Boat attacks, and even since the birth certificate bullshit morphed into l'affaire Bengazee'.

Just short excerpts.

Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News suggested Tuesday that Team Abbott has pitched reporters on a version of the story. “Abbott’s campaign has questioned details and pointed out discrepancies in the story she tells of her life,” Fikac wrote.

The ex- is not going there.

Wendy Davis' second ex-husband, Jeff Davis, says he doesn't want to talk any more about his ex-wife, adding he wasn't pleased with the explosive debate that originated from his recent comments about the Texas gubernatorial candidate.

"Despite our differences, Wendy would make a very capable governor," he said Tuesday in an email response, in which he declined a request for an on-camera interview with CNN.

"Certain comments seem to always be taken out of context and the firestorm of Facebook/hashtag stuff is not useful for forming opinions," he added.

And the truth is winning out.

Reframe it around a man. And here's the interpretation: Can you believe the sacrifices he made for his family, to get his degree, and lift them out of their situation? Lived in a mobile home a few months, lived with his mother, lived in a small, cheap apartment, went into debt, paid off his loans, endured long weekends to make sure he was involved in the raising of his children while reading the law, and managed to eventually become a Texas State Senator and run for governor. The marriage didn't survive but the couple separated amicably and continued to raise their children together and still have mutual respect. Who is this great man?

You would think that if Wendy Davis were actually were a liar, then conservatives would not just overlook it but praise it, as they did when Nixon lied about being a crook, when Reagan lied about not knowing anything about Iran/contra, when W lied about WMD, when Christie lied about not knowing about GWB lane closures...

When have conservatives ever had a problem with lying?

That hypocrisy just won't fly either.  But maybe we can convince it to crawl back down into the sewer, where it lives.

Update: The Inanity of Sanity has more. And also Jack.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nobody likes Barry Smitherman

It's not just the residents of Azle and elsewhere in Frackland, but also the media and even a few Republicans.  Let's see what's troubling the Texas Railroad Commissioner who wants to be Attorney General now.

The North Texas citizens at the Texas Railroad Commission hearing (yesterday) morning tried to make it as simple as possible: For as long as anyone could remember, there hadn’t been earthquakes in Azle and surrounding areas. Then the fracking boom took off and the wastewater injection wells went in. Soon the earthquakes started, more than 30 in just the past few months, rattling homes and nerves. A considerable amount of research, including work by SMU scientists, links wastewater injection wells to earthquakes.

“No disrespect, but this isn’t rocket science here,” said Linda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, a small town 20 miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth. “Common sense tells you the wells are playing a big role in this.”


People in the Azle area have grown increasingly angry at the Texas Railroad Commission, which has pledged to hire a seismologist to study the issue, but has refused to shut down the suspect injection wells. Almost 1,000 people attended a raucous Jan. 2 meeting in Azle, organized by Railroad Commissioner David Porter. Residents asked the commission for a 90-day moratorium on wastewater injections in the Azle area—a call reiterated today.

But commissioners, including Republican Chairman Barry Smitherman, who is running for Texas attorney general, made it clear that they have no plans to do so. Smitherman mentioned several times today that two of the suspect injection wells closest to the quake epicenter in Azle have seen reductions in the amount of fluids injected even as earthquake activity continues.

“If it had ramped up and continued to ramp up, then that might’ve been the culprit,” Smitherman said. Smitherman seemed to be suggesting that the frequency of earthquakes is linked to the rate of fluid injection. However, as NPR-StateImpact Texas has reported, the more important factor may be the cumulative total of wastewater injected.

While touting the benefits of fracking—and standing behind a weirdly technical definition of fracking to avoid making a connection between the hydraulic fracturing process and the disposal of the wastewater that results—Smitherman would promise only to study the issue more.

“We are still investigating the connection, we want to find out what the connection is, if any,” he said. “Once we find out, then we can hope to take additional steps.”

That's not going to fly in rural Texas in GOP primary season, Bare.  Nobody cares how whipped the frackers have you with their big checks; you're going to have to do something besides stall.

Here's video of him fending off a press corps that smelled bullshit yesterday.

Our pal TXSharon at BlueDaze covers fracking as her exclusive beat, and her posts are worth reading, reviewing, and referencing.

This is a plenty hot enough fire for him, but as it turns out Smitherman has a few resume' issues of his own.  For that, we go to Big Jolly.  Read the whole thing; this is an excerpt from the end.

So when Smitherman says he put “bad people in jail”, he isn’t lying. Because five men did spend a few days in jail after Smitherman prosecuted them for Misdemeanor crimes.

But Johnny Holmes he ain’t (for those not familiar with Holmes, he is a legend at the HCDAO). Smitherman never prosecuted a single felony in his short time at the HCDAO.

Why is Smitherman exaggerating his split-second as a prosecutor and refusing to talk about his 17 years as a banker? That’s a question for another day.

Look, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t know any of the candidates. Smitherman lives in Austin and his two opponents in North Texas. I just knew something wasn’t right about Smitherman’s statements, so I went looking for the truth.

And the truth is that if we as Republicans are going to dissect Wendy Davis’ life story and find exaggerations and omissions here and there, and make them into campaign issues to try and disqualify her in the minds of voters, we’d probably better look at our own candidates. And Barry Smitherman can’t pass that test. And yes, I’ve tried to contact that mysterious woman that supposedly looked Smitherman in the eye and silently thanked him for convicting her boyfriend – I haven’t been successful yet but I’ll keep trying. Because something about that doesn’t feel right either.

Dave, Wikipedia says Smitherman got fired from his job as a banker... which is probably why he doesn't like to talk about it.

Smitherman began a career in banking, and rose to become the head of Bank One's national municipal finance group before he was fired in April 2002. Bank One's stated reason for the termination was that Smitherman had failed to get company approval before he co-authored an opinion column in the Houston Chronicle with two Houston city council members, in which the authors discussed how the city could improve its credit rating. In January 2003, Smitherman became a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, and in May 2003 Perry named him to the board of the Texas Public Finance Authority.

Barry Smitherman is by far the worst of another terrible lot of Republicans running for statewide office in 2014, so I won't be sad if he doesn't clear the primary.  Then again, maybe he's the perfect conservative for Sam Houston to run against in the fall, in a Ken Cuccinelli sort of way.  You never can tell.