Friday, February 28, 2014

A slow-motion self-destruction

And it's all of Greg Abbott's own doing.

The Wendy Davis campaign is slamming both Ted Nugent and Greg Abbott with a powerful new ad that features rape survivor Nicole Anderson.

“I am speaking out because it really bothered me for Greg Abbott to partner with Ted Nugent knowing his history of being a predator. I was at home. I heard about it on the news. It made me feel like the it minimized the fact that Ted Nugent is a predator. I think that it sends the wrong message that he partnered up with this man that is very vocal about liking underage girls. There’s something wrong with that. It’s not okay.”

This ad is important on a couple of different levels. First, it is telling the truth about Ted Nugent. These types of ads should make Republican candidates think twice before they decide to cozy up to, and appear with, a self admitted sexual predator.

Sex with a minor is a felony in Texas. A felony that Ted Nugent has admitted to committing -- frequently -- and is a crime for which there is no statute of limitations.  So why hasn't the top law enforcement officer in Texas prosecuted him for it?

It's probably too late for Abbott to apologize for palling around with a child predator.

Actually, Texans don’t need an apology. They need the top law enforcement officer in the state to do what he has sworn to do — investigate sexual predators, gather all evidence and hold offenders accountable.

Has Greg Abbott investigated Ted Nugent to determine if he has committed sexual acts with underage girls in Texas - a violation of state laws against indecency with a child?

If not, why not?

Perhaps Abbott should turn it over to a special prosecutor, like Terri Moore.

"There is no statute of limitations on second degree felony indecency with a child. If Ted Nugent has engaged in sex with underage girls in Texas at any time, he is subject to prosecution."

"If there has been no legal vetting of Ted Nugent, Texans have no assurance that Nugent has not abused young girls here in our state - a failure of Greg Abbott’s most fundamental duty as a law enforcement official."

"Ted Nugent's public admissions that he has engaged in sexual relations with young girls and had a strong attraction to them would automatically raise concerns with any competent prosecutor."

"If Ted Nugent had been convicted of the crimes he acknowledges, he would be required to register as a sex offender in our State."

Greg Abbott and his army have crossed the Rubicon.

The facts demand a thorough investigation.


-- Indecency with a child by contact is a 2nd degree felony offense in Texas with NO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. Those convicted are subject to a punishment of no less than two and no more than twenty years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.


-- Sufficient evidence exists - including his own videotaped statements - that Ted Nugent regularly engaged in sex with underage girls while touring the country. Musician Courtney Love has recounted that she was only twelve years old when Nugent coerced her to perform oral sex.


-- Ted Nugent currently lives in Texas and during the past three decades, he has appeared here in concert at least 29 times. Nugent has had countless opportunities to sexually abuse young girls in Texas, indulging his admitted compulsion for underage girls, something he has described as "beautiful."


-- Greg Abbott brags that he oversees 160 law enforcement officers and a special Cyber Crimes Unit committed to tracking down and prosecuting child predators. There is no indication that any of these resources have been used to investigate Ted Nugent, a self-confessed sexual predator.

Without such an investigation, there is no way of knowing whether Nugent has violated state law — or still poses an ongoing threat to young girls in Texas.

You don't suppose that, if Greg Abbott keeps trying to ignore this, it might get worse for him... do you?  And not as in 'losing an election' worse, but 'being prosecuted yourself' worse?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Putting the wood to the TexTrib

James Moore isn't done beating Evan Smith and the Texas Tribune down, but here he turns the paddle over to the former Houston Chronicle writer R.G. Ratcliffe.  Yes, it's their polling.

During the course of my journalism career, I wrote about dozens – if not hundreds – of political surveys. The poll is to a political reporter what the tout sheet is to a horse-race junkie. From the perspective of having watched the sausage made, I can tell you all political polls have about them an element of voodoo.

But the opt-in Internet survey methodology used by the U.T. pollsters and the Texas Tribune may be one of the most black magic of all the polling methods. It essentially uses people who have volunteered to be surveyed and then uses statistical weighting to make the results match the expected voter turnout. (Click here to see About These Polls). It’s a survey methodology so suspect that news organizations such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Roll Call magazine have refused to use it.

Ratcliffe discounts the effect of Nugentpalooza, which erupted after the poll was conducted.  I think that's a gloss-over, as the poll would thus only reflect the brouhaha over Wendy Davis' resume'.  But anyway...

The biggest problem with the U.T./Tribune poll was not when it was done but how it was done. The opt-in survey is fast and cheap and may only be more reliable than one of those television station click surveys because a trained professional political scientist is weighting the results.

(Click here to see the Sampling and Weighting Methodology for the February 2014 Texas Statewide Study. Keep in mind, they say there is a YouGov panel of 20,000 Texans registered, and 1,327 opted to take the survey and then they winnowed that down to 1,200 to create the final dataset. Here’s some key numbers to keep in mind, the Republican primary results were drawn from a panel of 543 voters while the Democratic primary numbers were drawn from a panel of 381.

I'm one of those YouGov surveys.  Actually I am two of them, as I have two separate e-mails and accounts with YouGov.  (But they might have, as Ratcliffe indicates, screened me out.)  You can finish reading the rest of that piece as Ratcliffe dissects the polling methodology and assembles a list of  the various media who refuse to use anything similar.

Let's move on to Carl Lindemann's Inanity of Sanity, where he destroys the whole "donation media" model, particularly as practiced by the TexTrib, PBS (Part II) and NPR (Part I).

Is this entertainment or infotainment? Does this really rate as public journalism serving the PUBLIC INTEREST? Or is PBS, as David Sirota recently wrote, "becoming the "Plutocrats Broadcasting Service"?

Now, this isn't an isolated instance on NEWSHOUR. About two weeks ago, a feature about the union vote at the VW plant in Tennessee fit the same pattern -- a "debate" between a legit source and a Koch-connected State Policy Network propagandist. The propagandist didn't really have an argument. Instead, he spouted an "anti-union feeling masquerading as an argument." Yes, he actually got called out on this -- but not by the moderator.

Do such "contests" in the "marketplace of ideas" help inform us in matters of public interest? Recently, (Ray) Suarez bailed from NEWSHOUR. Maybe he got sick of this charade.

Looking at PBS' flagship news program is especially interesting when considering the Trib; Smith serves on its board of directors. Also, as I've written before, his "confrontational" interview style delivers mild discomfort rather than a moment of truth.

Is this how to "speak truth to power" -- or to cozy up to it?

I don't really think any of this criticism is going to bother the TexTrib all that much... unless their donations begin to wither. And I don't really see that happening.  It IS going to make those of us who read it do so with a far more jaundiced eye, and to that extent I suppose it's worthwhile.

The bloom is definitely off Evan Smith's rose.

Update (March 3): Nobody can deconstruct a lousy poll like Charles Kuffner.  God love him just for reading that Jim Henson defense all the way through; once I got to the "Democratic peanut gallery" crack, I stopped.  And Carl has pinned on his badge and is on the beat.

"I've never signed a Father's Day card, either"

I've spent a lot of this month complaining about things on and off the blog, so when I read this -- and having lost my own Dad just a few months ago -- I had to take a moment and catch myself.

On Father’s Day last June, President Barack Obama welcomed 14 teenagers sporting black-and-white T-shirts that read “BAM” into the Oval Office.

The letters stood not for the nickname occasionally slapped on the president by big-city tabloids, but for “Becoming a Man,” a program run by a Chicago nonprofit working with at-risk youth in the public schools. The president had met the group of young black men once before, when he dropped by one of BAM’s hourlong group discussion sessions at Hyde Park Academy High School last February. He’d pulled up a chair and sat in the boys’ circle that day, talking with them so long about their lives his aides worried he would blow up his carefully planned schedule during his visit to the city.

Now they were meeting again, teenagers from the South Side of Chicago and the president who began his organizing career not far from where they lived. It had already been an emotionally powerful trip for the boys, only two of whom had ever been on a plane before. Now here they were visiting with the most powerful man in the world in the inner sanctum of the Oval Office.

As the teens gathered around the president, one handed him a green and gold Father’s Day card, which all the boys had signed. They had gone out and purchased it the day before, unbeknown to their counselor, Marshaun Bacon, who traveled with them to the White House.

“I never signed a Father’s Day card before,” the young man explained as the president opened the card. “I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card, either,” Obama replied, according to an aide, improbably closing the distance between the Chicago teens and the American president. 

I haven't been a fan of many of the President's policies (the drones, the warrantless wiretapping, the capitulation on the public option) for a long time.  But what he has endured from the "you lie" Republicans in Congress, the vermin who have cried "birth certificate" and Fast and Furious" and "Benghazi" -- and all the rest of the nothingburgers consumed by the vilest of conservatives calling themselves 'patriots' -- has been the single worst social development in American society over the past five years.

Barack Obama continues to set a positive example for many Americans whom the right actually don't consider people.  If you needed more proof of what's gone off the rails during his presidency, then the racists, misogynists, and cold-ass capitalists who keep bleating their daily bullshit will be certain to provide one for you in just a few minutes.

I once worked with a fellow (it's been about thirty years ago now) who had never known his father, but had been told by his mother that the man drove a Schwan truck in town.  So every time he saw a Schwan truck making the rounds, he would pull the guy over in hopes of meeting his dad.  As far as I know, he never found him.

My biggest complaint compared to that is that I won't ever sign a Father's Day card again.  Pretty small potatoes, relatively.

The only real thing I have learned in my half-century-plus on this mudball is that if you aren't making a difference in children's lives -- that would be yours and someone else's, for the record -- then you're not making much of a difference, no matter how often you go to church, no matter how fat the size of your bank account.  And the children whose lives need difference-making the most are the ones who started off with the least.

Find some of those kids and see if you can make a difference in their lives.  Just a suggestion. The reality is that we have so many awful issues and challenges as a country that are going to take a long time to solve.  But something like this?  We can start where we are today.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kissing Cowboys

... and Cowgirls.  A long, winding road remains ahead, but there is cause for celebration today.

Gay rights supporters cheered a federal judge’s decision in Texas on Wednesday to strike down the Lone Star state’s same-sex marriage ban — with shouts of “Kissing Cowboys!” and “I am proud to be a Texan” — in what one described as a “landmark day" in the bid for lesbians and gay men to wed.

Their opponents, meanwhile, vowed to keep up the fight in what they called an "epic battle."

The decision by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio is stayed pending an appeal by the state. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will do so, meaning the case will go before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a similar lawsuit before it from Oklahoma.

Texas is the seventh state to nullify these discriminatory laws since the SCOTUS overturned DOMA in June of last year.  Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia currently recognize gay marriage, including eight states where it became legal in 2013.

Greg Abbott will appeal to the Fifth Circuit, and assuming he loses again there, will roll on to the Supreme Court, along with the other states who cannot stand the thought of marriage equality.  But the funniest thing was this.

Opponents also noted their displeasure in the tweetosphere, but one, State Sen. Dan Patrick, a conservative Republican, apparently tweeted too fast — posting, "MARRIAGE= ONE MAN & ONE MAN," before changing it to "MARRIAGE= ONE MAN & ONE WOMAN. Enough of these activist judges. FAVORITE if you agree. I know the silent majority out there is with us!"

Just knowing that the Abbotts and Patricks of Texas are feeling it getting crammed down their throats again is enough to warm my heart.

It's good that they don't get it

Welcome to a carefully-staged and choreographed visit to the second-most conservative city in America: Lubbock, Texas. Greg Abbott’s visit was a movie set, a Potemkin village where the façade is designed to fool the populace, rather than inform.

His first words to the crowd were typical Abbott braggadocio. He touted his thirty lawsuits against the federal government. We’ve heard this before and I’m certain we will hear it again: "I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home." And the crowd goes wild…

This is better than not disavowing Ted Nugent, much better not apologizing for calling South Texas a third-world country.  This isn't a tailspin, it's a kamikaze.  This is doubling down on a losing streak.  This is Mitt Romney in a swanky ballroom complaining to the .1 of the 1% about the 47%.

What I’m wondering is this: Did someone in the crowd ask the question, “How much money did your thirty lawsuits cost the Texas taxpayers?”

Apparently, no one asked, so I’ll answer. According to various reports, the costs of Greg Abbott’s litigations against America are estimated at $2.58 million dollars, and that’s with over half of the lawsuits still pending. Think of what Texas could have accomplished with $2.58 million dollars: More education funding, important infrastructure repair, expanding Medicaid or compensating for the SNAP cuts by the illustrious GOP lawmakers in Congress?

It took $2.58 million to satisfy Abbott’s chest-beating contest with our government with zero dollars benefit for the people of Texas. Because of his continued feud with Washington, Abbott’s been elevated to cult status with the secessionists and the states’ rights fringe.  

Carol Morgan, author of these excerpts, is just killing it.  One of the best things about that TexTrib poll coming out before Nugentpalooza is that Abbott is still coasting.  The only work he's doing isn't suing Barack Obama, it's dialing for $100,000 checks.  And he can knock that shit out in less than an hour.

The only thing missing from Greg Abbott’s traveling show today was his brother-in-arms, Ted Nugent. Of course, the Abbott campaign realized their mistake earlier in the week, admitting it was nothing more than a clever political strategy and adding that they “meant to do it”. And Greg Abbott? He remarked, “I never look back.”

Wayne Slater also pointed out recently that the TXGOP has met the enemy, and it is them.  Chris Ladd, aka GOPlifer, is one of the very few Republicans who get it on Nugent.  More on that in a minute, because Carol is on a roll.

When Austin enacted water rationing last year, Greg Abbott drilled his own personal well at his residence to keep his lawn green, thereby circumventing the law that the little people had to follow.

In the twelve years he’s been in office, he’s aided and abetted those who’ve damaged the credibility of election funding (just in case, you’ve forgotten the names John Colyandro and Tom Delay). I suppose Texas voters have forgotten about 2006 when Abbott’s office illegally seized court records from a federal storage facility without consulting the presiding judge (and then “lost” the evidence).

Perhaps voters forgot how he used state-owned money, equipment and staff for his political campaign. Or perhaps they forget Abbott’s history with public education. No matter what he claims, he’s never been a champion of public education. In 2011, he fought with Representative Lloyd Doggett over the $830 millions’ worth of federal money for Texas education. He was a part of the heartless cabal that cut $5.4 billion dollars from education that caused educators to lose their jobs and school districts to slash budgets resulting in teacher’s serving as school janitors and some smaller districts were forced to eliminate sports altogether, the social lifeblood of rural Texas communities.

This is every bit of the opposition research Wendy Davis needs (much of it previously compiled, in a tip of the cap, by her guru Matt Angle at the Lone Star Project).  The archives here are full of similar posts.

Both Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP constantly remind all of us of the “Texas Miracle”, but that miracle is merely a sleight-of-hand trick. The policies of the Texas GOP are not responsible for Texas’ growth. It’s Texas’ abundant natural resources in oil and gas which has allowed Texas to attract 1000 new residents each day. And with oil spills, Abbott’s duels with the EPA, and hydraulic fracturing, who knows how long the “Texas Miracle” will last.

Even with the good news, Texas has a laundry list of dishonorable mentions on which Abbott remains silent:
  • Texas ranks first in executions.
  • Texas ranks first in the number of uninsured.
  • Texas ranks first in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Texas ranks first in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water.
  • Texas ranks second in food insecurity.
  • Texas ranks fourth in the percentage of children living in poverty.
  • Texas ranks 47th in tax expenditures that directly benefit Texas citizens.
  • Texas ranks 48th in the number of people covered by employer-based health insurance.
  • Texas ranks 49th in the number of poor people covered by Medicaid and per capita Medicaid spending.
  • Texas ranks 49th in the national average for credit score.
  • Texas ranks 50th in the percentage of the population which graduates from high school.
  • Texas ranks 50th in Workers’ compensation coverage.
  • Texas ranks 50th in the percentage of non-elderly women with health insurance and in the percentage of women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester.
  • Texas ranks 50th in mental health expenditures.
  • Texas was labeled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as "the worst state in America to be a child." 

And the coup de grâce...

Far be it from me to rain on Greg Abbott’s lawsuit-pride-parade, but it seems his time would be better spent addressing how he would change these negative statistics, instead of taking credit for things that never happened on his watch.

Greg Abbott has been the Texas Attorney General for twelve years. Unfortunately, in the span of twelve years, it’s easy to forget. I hope you don’t forget when you go to the polls. Texans can’t possibly endure another single year of Greg Abbott.

Carol Morgan is correct, of course; Texans have short memories and even shorter attention spans.  But Texas Republican primary voters are primal and ignorant, and Chris Ladd understands why they are so easily motivated by fear.

Calling out Nugent’s racism is not as important as recognizing where it comes from. As long as Republicans are satisfied living on steady diet of high-calorie, low-fact fear, the country will continue to limp forward. Global capitalism is a complex gift that our ancestors bled to deliver to for us. It is bringing freedom and prosperity we never imagined. It is bringing demands for management and regulation we did not anticipate.

Freedom is forcing us to accept differences in other people that some people find scary. The structural demands of capitalism are forcing us to use government in ways we had not thought necessary. Preserving liberty, humanity, and peace in such a dynamic world will require intelligence, but most of all it will demand courage.

Ted Nugent is a symbol of cowardice. He displays it in his personal life and it soaks every aspect of his public persona. No one with a reasonably secure mind needs to wave guns around. As a party we have to decide whether we still believe in America, whether we still believe in freedom, and whether we still believe in ourselves.

I'd have to say that's a 'no', Chris.  But I only say that because I have observed this animal up close for a couple of decades now.

Honestly, it's a good thing that Greg Abbott doesn't get it.  Because if he were clued in, he'd be worried.  This arrogant ignorance is Wendy Davis' best shot at beating him.

Update: Jay Root at the TexTrib has more on the Nugent effect.

“There are plenty of figures on the Republican right you could use without generating this kind of blowback,” said University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato. “Everyone knows the guy is nuts. Why would you let your candidate do that?”

It's a decent question — and one that is met with derision and eye-rolling from the highest levels of the Abbott campaign.

A day after the rocker helped turn out voters for Abbott in North Texas last week, a senior Abbott campaign official was asked who had the bright idea of bringing the controversial rocker onto the campaign trail.

There was no hesitation.

“It worked, didn’t it?” he said.

Yep.  It's still working, too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Ashamed of Texas" roundup

-- How to make winning Republican TV ads in Texas.  If you aren't ashamed of being from Texas after reading and watching this, then you're a TeaBagging GOP primary voter with poor spelling and grammatical skills.  But I repeat myself.

-- Dan Patrick denies that a hand-written letter, produced by the man whom he hired years ago and was undocumented at the time, is written in his hand.  This sordid display of renouncing one's previous compassion (WWJD?) is embarrassing enough for most Texans, but it still probably won't keep Patrick out of the runoff in his race.

Just to review: Dan Patrick is ashamed he once helped an immigrant, while Greg Abbott has no shame about standing with a pants-crapping, draft-dodging, virulently racist and sexist child predator.  And those two will probably be the governor and lt. governor candidates for the Republicans in November.

-- The Texas Observer has a worthy down-ballot aggregate.  It includes Debbie 'Terror Anchor Babies' Riddle, the 'my God can beat up your God' war between Baptists and Methodists in Tarrant County, and US Senate also-ran Chris Mapp, who despite calling the president a SOB and saying that "wetbacks" ought to be shot, can't get any traction in a primary race that includes Steve Stockman.  Oh, and Pete Sessions' Tea Party challenger, Katrina Pierson, is also toast.  It wasn't the Sarah Palin endorsement that finished her off, but the fact that she was once on unemployment.

-- Don Imus has endorsed Kinky Friedman for ag commissioner.  Does more need to be said?  Is that a brainer?

-- Last, the Texas Tribune, essentially the only news organization left covering the Lege and Texas politics, continues to be assaulted by people besides James Moore.  And yes, Evan Smith is a giant schmuck.  Everyone knows this.

The TexTrib is an embarrassment to media, and Evan Smith does blow goats... but they are all Texas has left for political insight, so I suppose I'll try to be a little nicer to them than some others.  Sorry, Evan: after that argument we had on the phone a few years ago about your polling -- you remember? you were banging pots and pans around in the background -- and my blog disappeared from your roll, you lost out on any donations from me.

You seem to be doing OK without them, though.  Good for you.

Hyperventilating over Kesha Rogers

There's a lot of that going on in the the blogosphere and social media this morning as a result of yesterday's poll results.  This is one of those times when the disconnect among the various caucuses in the Texas Democratic Party is painfully on display.

Black people vote for their own, y'all.  How many different ways does it need to be said?  How many times does it have to happen before y'all get it?

There's an extensive network of African American e-mail listservs (locally, D-MARS has one, Carroll Robinson has started another called Texas Politica, there are several others I'm not a member of) and they focus on their community's news.  They talk about the issues that aren't getting talked about anywhere else.  If you aren't on these lists or aren't reading the email you get from them, then you don't know these things.

Kesha Rogers is benefiting from the fact that there are no other African Americans at the top of the Texas ballot (and no, I'm not including Steve Brown at Railroad Commissioner because that's a down-ballot race).  She has by far the highest name recognition among the four US Senate hopefuls.  She has been on the ballot in Fort Bend County a couple of times, was the nominee for the Dems against Pete Olsen in 2010, she ran for chair of the Texas Democratic Party in 2006.  There's been lots of news online about her over the years.

I mean to say lots and lots of news stories about Kesha Rogers over the years, nearly none of it favorable.  What's that someone said about all publicity being good?  This same lack of understanding about what's really going on is also present in the Lloyd Oliver campaign for Harris County district attorney.  There are plenty of people who know why he won the nomination two years ago, and why he's campaigning the same way as he did two years ago.  It seems as if a whole bunch of insider Democratic Caucasians are the ones most confused about this.

Trust me when I say -- as a middle-aged white guy, mind you -- that black Democrats in Texas know exactly who Kesha Rogers is.  And if the TexTrib has properly sampled black Dems (not oversampled them) in their polling... then the results shouldn't be all that surprising to anyone.

You don't have to like it, but there it is.  In black and white.

Update:  Splitting the black caucus from the GLBTQ caucus is something some white folks know how to do.

Not the last word on Nuge

The national media finally caught up with the past week's story over the weekend (and to start the week).  Progress Texas has a good roundup.  But the last word, for now, goes to the DMN's Tod Robberson.

My guess is that Davis will not suffer long-term damage from relatively minor misstatements regarding her background. But Abbott did himself some serious damage by attaching himself to Nugent, a man who cannot seem to control his mouth and has a penchant for making racist and sexist remarks. There is also, of course, his background of affairs with underage girls and his days as a draft dodger during the Vietnam War. It’s beyond me why Abbott would see Ted Nugent as an admirable figure who would be an asset to his campaign.

But since Abbott hasn’t issued a statement of regret, I guess he’s still OK with the decision. Which means he not only demonstrates bad judgment unworthy of a leading gubernatorial candidate but also lacks the perspective of someone who knows when to stop fighting a losing battle. That’s the kind of hubris that just screams for a humiliating defeat.

Abbott's refusal to distance himself from Nugent is a tremendous, enormous mistake; maybe the biggest one he will make during the entire campaign.  Davis must tar and feather him with the child predator's slurs, and she must do so repeatedly, all the way to November.  How effective she is in pasting Ted Nugent to Greg Abbott will all but determine whether her contest is winnable in the fall.  If she lets it fade into the background...

There remains a huge well of free media still to earn (because Nugent keeps running his vile mouth publicly, and will go on doing so), and the continuing narrative helps Davis significantly with moderates and independents (precisely who she needs voting for her in order to win).  Most importantly, the episode cuts right to heart of Abbott's weakest link: his judgment and his character.

Nugent is a gift that is going to keep on giving, and you don't get too many of those in politics.

Monday, February 24, 2014

UT/TexTrib poll has Kesha Rogers leading the field in Dem US Senate primary

There aren't any other huge surprises in this (historically unreliable) data.

In the Democratic primary, the candidate who has been on the ballot the most times, Kesha Rogers, leads the best-financed candidate, David Alameel, 35 percent to 27 percent. Maxey Scherr had 15 percent, followed by Harry Kim at 14 percent and Michael Fjetland at 9 percent. Voters are largely unfamiliar with those candidates; 74 percent initially expressed no opinion before being asked how they would vote if they had to decide now.

“This is what it looks like when you have a bunch of candidates, no infrastructure and no money,” (polling co-director Jim) Henson said. “The first person to raise some money and run some ads could really move this.”

I think Henson has that accurate; Alameel's voluminous mailings and TV ads should get him into the lead by the time all the votes are counted.  But I warned a couple of my EVBB friends week before last that I feared an Alameel/Rogers runoff, and now it looks like I'm left to hope that the TexTrib's polling lives up to its comically bad reputation.  However there's greater confidence to be found in their other numbers...

-- Abbott 47, Davis 36, Don't know 17.  About right, I would say.  Update: And yes, it is worth noting that this poll concluded before the Ted Nugent crap exploded (pun intended), so the effect of the most significant development of the entire campaign is not reflected here.

-- Cornyn 62, Stockman 16, everybody else in single digits that total 15.  Also about right, and in defiance of what was released last week (somebody is awfully wrong, that's for sure).  The Conservative News distribution probably doesn't save Stockman, either.

-- Dewhurst 37, Patrick 31, Staples, 17, Patterson 15.  Nothing to quarrel over here, either.  Remains to be seen whether Patrick's Ill Eagle flap hurts him; that news also broke after the poll concluded.  But if something like these numbers hold, Dewhurst is toast in the runoff.  Let's note this also.

The Republican nominee will face state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who is unopposed in her primary. Van de Putte lagged behind each of the four Republicans in hypothetical general election matchups, trailing Dewhurst 44 percent to 32 percent, Patrick 41 percent to 32 percent, Staples 41 percent to 29 percent, and Patterson 41 percent to 30 percent. Undecided voters made up the difference in each race.

That seems like a sensible set of figures for late February, too.  The only other result that so much as raises my eyebrow is Tea Party queen Debra Medina laying waste to the well-funded men in the R comptroller race.

There's going to be some crying at Glenn Hegar's watch party on Election Night.  Hope he doesn't feel the urge to have to shoot anything.

Update: Socratic Gadfly with more on what this might mean for the Green Party Senate candidate, who also needs some free media but isn't well-positioned to take advantage of the publicity.  And Charles breaks things down as well.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks Ted Nugent is an appropriate spokesman for the modern Republican Party of Texas as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the turnout issue for Democrats in 2014.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson on the Round Rock members of the Lege reporting to the local business lobby, while leaving out the issues that matter most to the people in their districts, in Schwertner, Gonzales, & Dale Go To The Chamber.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled at Texas Republicans holding a faux hearing on women's health care. Give it up. Republicans have waged a real war against women and their health care. You're not fooling anyone.

It's Ted Nugent's (Texas Republican) party, and we just have to live with it, noted the Texas Observer -- and excerpted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. But there were also problemas grandes para Dan Patrick last week.

Texpatriate endorses John Whitmire in the Democratic primary for State Senate District 15.

Neil at All People Have Value was prompted by a visit to Galveston to reflect that we can choose to view ourselves in life on the mainland, on an island or at sea. All People Have Value is part of


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

Robert Rivard argues that cities and counties are left trying to solve the problems caused by a generation of indifference from Texas' state leadership.

Lone Star Q provides video of Wendy Davis discussing her support of same sex marriage to the San Antonio Express-News editorial board.

Concerned Citizens warns about the animus hiding behind religious exemptions.

Better Texas explains why a higher minimum wage is good for Texans.

Grits for Breakfast highlights the modern equivalent to the Dallas Buyers Club.

Nonsequiteuse gets to the heart of the Nugent/Abbott affair.

Greg Wythe continues his in-depth look at how the voter ID law was enforced in the 2013 election in Harris County.

Burkablog celebrates what would have been Barbara Jordan's 78th birthday.

Chris Quintero witnessed and videotaped two Austin Police Department officers detain and arrest a female jogger for jaywalking and not immediately identifying herself (see here for more).

And Swamplot makes us all feel old by taking a look at the house from Reality Bites, 20 years later.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Big money D donors cross party lines to unseat SCOTX judges

Frankly, this is as fucked up as duopoly politics gets.  I will emphasize the names you should commit to memory.

When Democratic donor and Houston plaintiff's attorney John Eddie Williams recently moved into a $10 million, 24,000-square-foot River Oaks mansion, a group of Houston trial lawyers threw him a house-warming.

(Last week)'s gathering at Williams' home had a more ambitious agenda, however: raising campaign cash for a slate of Republican primary challengers to incumbent Texas Supreme Court justices, drawing largely on traditional Democratic donors.

Combined with an emailed appeal from Dallas Democratic trial lawyer Lisa Blue Baron for the same slate, Wednesday's event makes clear that Democratic trial lawyers are attempting to knock off conservative jurists on their own turf, the Republican primary.

The strategy is steeped in the tragicomic history of Texas's system of electing judges via partisan elections fueled by special-interest money from both ends of the political spectrum. In 1976, Texas voters mistakenly elevated Don Yarbrough to the Texas Supreme Court – apparently confusing his name with the legendary U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough. He ended up serving only one year of his term, spending the rest of it in prison for a murder-for-hire scheme.

Nonetheless, efforts in the Texas Legislature to reform Texas' easily manipulated system of judicial selection have been sabotaged for decades by both political parties.

Yeah, that's a big problem, but the bigger problem is the one nobody wants to acknowledge, and that is that there is too much money in our political system already.  And that is a problem almost nobody wants to talk about, much less do something about.

"A lot of money changes hands in the civil justice system, which is presided over by judges," (former TSC justice Tom Phillips) said. "People are going to be interested in how they (judges) get there."

Phillips' views are shared by Mark Lanier, a prominent Republican Houston plaintiff's lawyer working hand-in-hand with the Democratic lawyers to unseat the incumbents this year.

"I think the partisan election of judges is the worst possible way to choose judges. I am not a fan, but I've got a responsibility to play in the system," he said.

He's got a responsibility, but he obviously doesn't want to make any improvements in a system that benefits everybody.  Just a few others like him among the 1%.

Lanier was one of the official hosts of Williams' "housewarming," which benefited Balance PAC, a fund supporting challengers to three incumbents on the Texas Supreme Court: former Rep. Robert Talton, who is taking on Chief Justice Nathan Hecht; Dripping Springs lawyer Joe Pool Jr., who is facing Justice Jeff Brown; and 14th Court of Appeals Justice Sharon McCally, who is challenging Justice Phil Johnson.

"This is a broad coalition of Texans who believe the court has been taken over by multinational corporations," Balance PAC spokesman Eric Axel said. "The court has become afflicted with affluenza."

This is a narrow coalition of wealthy attorneys who are at least correct in that the SCOTX has gone full fascist.

Axel said 74 percent of jury verdicts granted to plaintiffs are overturned on appeal. "If you are a corporation, you know you can win on appeal," he said. "This court is against the average person."

Texans for Lawsuit Reform disagrees, as you might expect. I won't excerpt their response.

What sticks out like the sorest of thumbs is that Crazy M'F'n Bob Talton is their pick to unseat Nathan Hecht.  In what universe is Talton better than Hecht?  I'll tell you: a universe where there are only two colors, black and white.  No shades of grey.  There's no blue or red, just green (and not the healthy shade of green, either).  There's not even a left or right.

If you needed yet another example of why 50% of Texans are NOT registered to vote, and half of the people who are registered don't bother to vote, then here you go.  Once again, when people say, "my vote doesn't matter", or "they're all crooks", THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Meanwhile, the political consultants who grift from the money men and women are also working hard in their spare time to reinforce the status quo.  If Facebook isn't showing you that, then it's a discussion among Houston folks about how wonderful this article by Ed Kilgore is.

This is nothing more than a whole bunch of not getting it on purpose going on.  You want to see another group of people, much more mainstream, who appear to be completely confused about where their political interests lie?  Look at this.

But to concede one of their points -- and as Gadfly has observed -- the progressive alternative has a long ways to go yet to present itself as viable.  So then here we are... with about 3 of every 4 Texans refusing for a variety of reasons to participate in the electoral process, leaving us all represented by a few wealthy people who are slaves to the extremely wealthy.

I just don't see any way to change any of it in my lifetime, short of what's happened in the Arab Spring nations, and what's happening in the Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand at this very moment.  But as this cartoon demonstrates, that development is highly unlikely.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free rides

Charles has an extensive post about the birth of both Lyft and UberX this weekend in H-Town.  It's going to be a lousy time for cabbies trying to make a living for awhile.

I remain of the opinion that these services are just fine as long as they meet the established municipal code.  Mayor Parker agrees.

"There are some working girls that work the streets of Houston who say, 'We're legal because it is just a donation,' " Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday. "I'm sorry, we will enforce our ordinances."

This is the same method, as we know, by which drug dealers build their clientele: give it away in the beginning, gradually charge more and more for it once people get hooked.  I am certain that neither of these two fine companies intended for these unsavory analogies to be applied to them, but hey, that's just how they roll.

Please keep in mind that when you consume a service, you generally get what you pay for.

Abbott/Nugent disaster enters fourth day

Here are this morning's headlines:

Rick Perry condemns Nugent's remarks; Ted Cruz doesn't agree with them but in some of his most artistic bullshit to date, finds a way to blame Obama for it.  Rand Paul, the voice of (something approaching) sanity among Republicans, Tweets that Nuge should apologize for the 'subhuman mongrel' comments.

Meanwhile, Abbott "flees" reporters.  (The CNN video of the fleeing appeared yesterday here.)

How is your weekend shaping up?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's Ted Nugent's party, we just have to live with it

-- That's the headline at this Texas Observer piece written by Christopher Hooks, their new add.

Now, no one’s begrudging Nugent’s right to be an immoral, hateful asshole. Plenty of great artists are assholes. But you won’t see Woody Allen stumping for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and you won’t see R. Kelly posing with California’s Jerry Brown. It’s amazing that so many Texas GOPers are willing to bear-hug Nugent. We’re a long way from the party of William F. Buckley.

Abbott’s team more or less copped to employing Nugent cynically—a senior aide told CNN they were “only bringing on the gun rights activist to help spur voter turnout among the base.” (How much Abbott really needs to juice turnout for a primary in which he’s basically unopposed is unclear.) But using Nugent this way communicates to “the base” that he’s a serious figure and should be taken seriously—it makes the Nugent problem worse. Nugent’s getting more from this than Abbott is. And if you’re hoping for the Republican Party in Texas to straighten out and ditch the stranglehold of the fringe, that’s a crying shame.

The Abbott/Nugent brotherhood continued to bleed out yesterday after Nuge twisted on CNN in the wake of Wolf Blitzer's shout-out.  And then Ted bagged a CNN appearance at the last minute because Erin Burnett is as badass as the Viet Cong he got sick.  Hope it wasn't the runs.

On a more serious note, look at this moment where CNN reporter Ed Lavandera engages Abbott.  You can watch it with your sound turned off.  I gotta say, that is one cocky mofo in that wheelchair.  He isn't remotely interested in what anybody thinks, and that includes Paul Burka.

It reveals Abbott, at the very least, as someone who doesn't have acute political judgment. Nugent is political dynamite. He can blow sky high at a moments' notice. And if Abbott truly believes that he needs Nugent to establish his 2nd Amendment credentials, as if they were in any doubt, then Abbott must believe that his own record doesn't speak for itself. You can't have it both ways. The likely next governor of Texas should be better than that.

I think Republicans should be worried. This is exactly the kind of brashness and bravado that turns voters off -- in particular women voters -- and it may drive some Republican voters out of their party. In my opinion, at least, Abbott and the Republicans are a lot closer to the precipice than most Republicans realize. Yes, Texas is still a red state. But even in Texas, there are limits to what you can say. Ted Nugent put his mark on Greg Abbott. That mark is going to be indelible.

Yeah well, we'll have to wait and see about that, Paul.  There are all kinds of Republicans, not just in Texas, that want to stay close to this shitstain with legs and brandishing a semiautomatic weapon.  The stench may linger into a third day if Dave Carney (Abbott's handler) can't get the muzzle on Nuge.

-- Extending the bad week for the TXGOP: Problemas grandes para Dan Patrick.  Another great headline, may I say, even if it comes from Breitbart Texas.

In a Dallas Morning News report, Miguel “Mike” Andrade, 48, of Missouri City, told (the newspaper) and Houston’s KTRK-TV that he, his cousin and two other men from Mexico worked at one of Patrick’s five sports bars that operated in the Houston area until 1986.

At that time, there were no penalties involved in hiring someone in this residing in the U.S. illegally according to the report.

Patrick's most serious headache here is that he was once hospitable to an immigrant, which is totally unacceptable in a Republican primary.

“He said Patrick was a compassionate employer. He said Patrick offered sympathy over their anguish at living so far from their loved ones and being constantly in fear of being deported.

“He was real, real, real kind with us … real good with the Hispanic community. He was really wishing (he had) some kind of power…to help us to work in this country and have a better life,” said Andrade, who recalled that he was hired at the West Houston sports bar in 1983 or 1984.

In fact Patrick was so kind that he made Andrade an unusual offer, so unusual that Andrade was instantly suspicious.

“He said (is there) anything I can do so you can go and see your mom (in Mexico)? I don’t want to see you suffer,” Andrade said.

Patrick then said, “I can go and bring you to here,” according to Andrade, who said he believed that meant Patrick could drive him to Houston past U.S. inland border checkpoints.

Andrade said he declined to make the trip, for fear he'd be caught and Patrick would get in trouble.

I believe that allegation qualifies Dan Patrick as a coyote.  Oy vey.

Have you cast your ballot yet, conservatives?  Are we experiencing any debilitating cognitive dissonance?  If so, you'll get a second chance to make it right in about two months, and if you're really feeling queasy about now, just hang on until November.  Nobody is yet convinced that this strain of stomach flu will last all the way into the fall.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pants Crappers for Greg Abbott

-- There's not much for me to add after yesterday's media meltdown over Greg Abbott and his "blood brother", the child predator.  If the Abbott campaign can't fully comprehend what a fantabulous pooch-screwing they performed yesterday... well, I'm not going to remind them.  Let's move on.

-- I almost made this its own post: Texas Libertarian Candidate for Statewide Judicial Race Outpolls Democrat in Texas Bar Poll...

On February 14, the Texas Bar Association released a poll of its members, for the 2014 statewide partisan judicial races. Over one-eighth of all bar members participated in the poll. See this story, which has a link to the results.

For Court of Criminal Appeals, place 3, the Libertarian, Mark W. Bennett, outpolled the Democratic candidate, John Granberg. Bennett is well-known in Texas, partly because of his blog “Defending People”. He is a Houston criminal defense lawyer, who was also a Libertarian nominee in 2012 for a statewide judicial race. In his 2012 race, in which his only opponent was a Republican, Bennett polled 22.1% of the vote. His 2012 vote total, 1,331,364, was the highest number of votes ever received by any Libertarian nominee for any office.

The full results for the 2014 poll for Criminal Appeals, place 3, are: Republican Bert Richardson 2,166; Republican Barbara Walther 2,115; Bennett 2,083; Democrat John Granberg 1,802.

Libertarians and Greens also did well in the poll in some other judicial races. For Criminal Appeals, place 4, a race with no Democrat, the Libertarian, Quanah Parker, received 23.39% and the Green, Judith Mills Sanders-Castro, got 16.06%. For Criminal Appeals, place 9, another race with no Democrat, the Libertarian, William Bryan Strange III, got 23.02% and the Green, George Joseph Altgelt, got 19.42%. In the race for Supreme Court, place 7, a race with a Democrat and a Republican, the Libertarian, Don Fulton, got 13.10% and the Green, Charles Edwin Waterbury, got 5.78%.

Repeat after me: no straight-ticket voting in 2014.

-- Egberto Willies, one of the real shining stars in H-Town's blogosphere, shares the insights of Houston Latino activist Ivan Sanchez, which is worth about a thousand times more than everything Marc Campos has ever said and done combined.  There's too much good stuff there for an excerpt to do justice, but here's a place to start before you go read the whole thing.

In 2014, we Hispanics: Mexicans, Colombians, Cubans, Ecuadoreans, Argentineans, Bolivians, Salvadorians, Peruvians, and every other Latino Country – make up 44% of Houston’s population. However, the countries we come from divide our united voice as each Latino from each country separates themselves into multiple segregated groups, therefore forming smaller separate percentages. Our cultures, soccer fanaticism, pride and other variables are separating and diminishing our united voice in the United States. Hispanics need to realize that no matter where we come from, here in the US, we all pledge to one flag. There is nothing wrong with preserving the culture, but we need to understand that we as individuals are nothing without each other. And as Houston is a melting pot of all ethnicities, I only hope all Hispanics melt together as well. My family already did.

-- Ten more reasons (nobody should need any more, but here you go anyway) why the Keystone XL pipeline needs to die (again). Number one:

1. There are no jobs on a dead planet.

-- Some people say that the end is near for Mucous.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, the political warlord who’s striven to purify and shape the Texas Republican Party in line with his particular vision, has managed to outfox a number of threats to his would-be empire in the last couple years. But increased scrutiny from the Texas Ethics Commission over charges of impropriety and the question of so-called “dark money,” the fuel that powers Sullivan’s political activity, presents the possibility that the state political Establishment he’s always railed against, and by extension state government itself, has finally found a way to weaken him.

Meh.  He's already lined up an afterlife at Breitbart Texas.

-- Mark Morford, on how to eat an Internet troll.  Short answer: Don't feed them; let them consume themselves.

Here’s something you surely already suspected but which is nevertheless sort of nice to have validated by science:

Internet trolls? Those nasty, scabrous, hate-spitting folk who spend their sunlight-deprived days taunting, baiting and venomizing all over the Interweb’s anonymous comments sections in response to, well, just about about any article, column, video, photo gallery, product review or heartfelt tale of love and woe from the here to Gawker to Amazon, Car & Driver to Knitter’s World to the NYT, including but certainly not limited to the very Slate article which discusses the general cruelty and stupidity of trolls itself?

Turns out they really are awful people. Sociopathic, sadistic, narcissistic, cruel by nature, highly unpleasant to be around. They love to cause pain. They delight in ruining the beautiful. The more pure and integrity-filled something is, the more they enjoy corrupting it. So says a new psychology study. Also, they’re antisocial. Poor dressers. Ungainly. Hairy in all the wrong places. Smell like soggy asparagus and old toenails. I’m just guessing.

I actually do spend too much time watching these trainwrecks, and it's probably not good for my mental health.  So I am going to cut back a little on that.  After all, there are people who might mistake me for a troll, and I wouldn't want that...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Stockman: 5 polls show Cornyn being pushed into runoff

The alternative news outlet JP Updates:

In the latest poll out of Texas by Human Events-Gravis Marketing, there’s some trouble for current Senator John Cornyn who is running for re-election.

When asked “if the election were held today, would you vote for Republican Steve Stockman or Republican John Cornyn?” Cornyn holds a 15-point lead, 43% to 28% Stockman, while 29% of the voters are still undecided.

“Congressman Stockman is much closer than expected,” Douglas Kaplan of Gravis Marketing said. “Cornyn is under 50% with a significant amount still undecided, which is dangerous territory for an incumbent. The poll was conducted before Cornyn’s recent cloture vote on raising the debt limit, which could hurt him among conservative primary voters.”

When asked if they approve of Rep. Stockman, 55% said they’re unsure while 28% approved and 18% disapproved. When asked the same about Sen. John Cornyn 49% said they approve, 26% disapprove and 24% were unsure.

The poll was conducted between 2/10/14 and 2/12/14, 729 likely Republican voters participated in the phone survey. The poll has a margin of error 3.6%.

Stockman is crowing about this, and heaps on some additional derision for the incumbent.

This is the fifth independent poll published in Cornyn’s race.  All five show Cornyn failing to win over 50 percent.  Cornyn has refused to release his internal polling results and has begun directly attacking Stockman, which usually indicates a candidate is in trouble.

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll conducted between Oct. 18 and Oct. 27, 2013 found Cornyn with only 39 percent support among likely Republican primary voters, far below where a two-term incumbent and member of Senate leadership should be.

An Oct. 26, 2013 Gravis poll showed Cornyn failing to win a majority in a two-way race against five different candidates.  It showed Cornyn getting only 41 percent against Stockman, whom many voters were not familiar with.

A Public Policy Polling survey conducted Nov. 1-4, 2013 found “49% [of Republican primary voters] say they would like their candidate next year to be someone more conservative, compared to only 33% who say they support Cornyn.”

PPP concluded “John Cornyn is in grave danger of losing a primary next year if a serious campaign is run against him. Cornyn’s approval with Republican primary voters is only 46%, with 33% of voters disapproving of him.”

Even a poll by WPA Opinion Research conducted Dec. 10-12, 2013, and touted by Cornyn himself, showed Cornyn only at 50 percent among likely Republican primary voters. At the time of the poll many voters were not aware Cornyn had an opponent.

I don't have any idea how much stock to place in this data.  Primary polling is even less reliable than it is ahead of general elections, and this latest one is an ultraconservative source with an agenda.  Let's just mark it down as a data point worthy of some chat for now.  I find it more interesting that Cornyn's other Tea Pee challenger, Dwayne Stovall, appears to be finding some traction, especially with a video ad you can see here, which earned him the coveted Big Jolly endorsement.

If the conventional wisdom here is this far removed from the battle on the GOP ground, and one of these two morons forces Cornyn into a May runoff, I can certainly believe that Big John will be too politically wounded to hold on.  At this point I still don't see it, but stranger things have happened.

If you are still reading, then you can click over to view the results of a Central Texas Republican Assembly (sounds Communist to me) straw poll from almost two months ago that has Stockman ahead of Cornyn 45-41, with Stovall and four others registering no support whatsoever.  This is why you can't pay too much attention to these things so early... and why paying anything but marginal attention to them is like nailing a rack of ribs to a tree to lure Bigfoot.

Update: Juanita Jean is encouraged.  And on some level, I am a little surprised that this guy isn't ahead of Cornyn.  Maybe he should have run for governor, or lieutenant governor, or...

Monday, February 17, 2014

A. Because Greg Abbott is Ted Nugent's wingman

Q. Why is Greg Abbott palling around with a predator?

Update: What exactly would Ted Nugent have to say in order for Republicans to stop campaigning with him?  I'll bet I can guess; something like "I was wrong all this time, and I support President Obama".

James Moore takes down the TexTrib

"Bush's Brain" author James Moore has been on a tear for the past month, between cracking the skulls of Texas political reporters over the Wendy Davis stories, and then cracking Davis herself over her clumsy relations with same.  He made a clean break with her over open carry, and now he's got the Texas Tribune in his crosshairs in a two four-part piece.  First, he upbraids Trib editor Emily Ramshaw for thanking a candidate on Twitter for an "*unbelievably* generous financial contribution".

Ramshaw may not have known she was talking to a candidate in a district only seven miles from the Tribune’s office, or she simply did not care. Either of those possibilities, however, is not acceptable to anyone who might believe the Tribune can do meaningful reporting on Texas politics and government. One suggests incompetence; the other points toward collusion. The Trib simply cannot be unbiased because it has become a part of the institutions it told the public it intended to scrutinize and hold responsible for good government. Regardless of the organization’s intentions, there is no conclusion to reach other than the Texas Tribune has to be considered corrupted by its sources of funding.

In journalism, appearances are destiny.

The “non-profit” Tribune is the recipient of significant amounts of money from the same corporations and lobbyists that donate to legislators and other office holders to help them in their campaigns, and to influence the outcome of legislation related to those donor’s special interests. In any context, this is a classic conflict of interest, and regardless of how much the Trib’s editors might insist they are able to do their work without being affected by these funds, they have been in operation long enough to see there is no reason to take them seriously as a news organization, and the evidence to reach this conclusion is abundant.

It’s also a kind of rank hypocrisy that is so grandiose as to be entertaining.

With the news over the weekend that Breitbart is to begin posting a Texas version of its very own truthiness for conservatives, this remains a bad time to be a real, actual journalist in the Lone Star.  From the second part of Moore's story...

During the glory days of journalism at the Texas capitol in Austin, newspapers with large bureau staffs covered hearings and debates on legislation, almost every statewide campaign for office, and also held the governor and lawmakers accountable on a daily basis. TV stations from the four major cities maintained full time broadcast bureaus even when the legislature was not in session. We were expected to be on the air every evening with a new and important story. The hourly machinations of state government in the 80s and 90s were scrutinized by many sets of eyes. Big city newspapers circulated in Austin and reporters read and watched the competitions’ stories to learn what had been missed, and so did the lobbyists and legislators.

After 22 years of being a part of that capitol press corps as a TV news correspondent, I joined a startup company that tried to launch a statewide network newscast and website. The Internet was just beginning its maturation process and we were hopeful. My final year in the business, however, ended with me traveling on the George W. Bush presidential campaign for that nascent news operation and, subsequently, I left journalism to begin work in public relations. In retrospect, my timing was excellent. The slow shutdown of every TV news bureau and reduction of newspaper staff sizes indicated editors and budget writers had made a decision about what interested their readers and viewers, and government did not make the cut.

As for the TexTrib, their bias toward their corporate overlords was first revealed by Texas Sharon at EarthWorks, summarized here.  I have also excoriated their terrible polling more than once or twice.

If the TexTrib wants to be a mouthpiece for the corporations, much as what has become of NPR, then so be it.  Let's not kid ourselves about it, however.  And if the looniest of conservatives think the Tribune is "leftist media", you better know that the remaining load is to be dumped on top of your head in short order.

Update: Here are parts three and four from Moore, and Socratic Gadfly's take.  

Update II: And Eye on Williamson cuts to the nut as well.

There is no sustainable business model for doing the kind or journalism and reporting that the public needs in a democracy. Corporations and the wealthy will not buy advertising on media outlets that doggedly expose their malfeasance and corruption. The publicly funded model we once had did a pretty good job of supporting the kind of journalism and reporting we need. But when the same money that’s buying public and non-profit media, is also buying our politicians, it’s unlikely they’d be willing to ramp up funding for funding public media. One that would be independent enough to expose their political corruption.

Finally (which means any more updates on this topic will go into a new post), Moore provides the responses from the TexTrib in "No Country for Old Reporters".

The reaction to the Texas Tribune piece has been mostly condescension from Trib reporters. None of them addressed me directly in their tweets but one of their digirati tweeted a “counter-counter” response, “No country for old men.” I’m sure that is patently true. Best I can tell the only people over 50 at the Tribune are Ross Ramsey, though I think Jay Root is 50 or close, and Evan Smith is 47. Everyone else is quite young, and much more affordable, and easily taught the way things are done. 

But youth doesn’t slow down the Trib. CEO Evan Smith tweeted that they were looking for a reporter to do a deep, investigative dive into the Texas criminal justice system. A complex as hell topic that has befuddled many a grizzled journalistic veteran but the Trib is advertising the slot as “entry level.” Good luck, kid, from an old man who apparently doesn’t belong in that country.

The Early Voting Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is always ready to cast a ballot as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff concluded his series of primary interviews with conversations featuring State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, and Ag Commissioner candidates Kinky Friedman and Hugh Fitzsimons.

Over two million Texas voters from the 2008 Democratic primary -- and eight million who were registered to vote in 2012's general election -- have not shown up to cast a ballot. Texas is NOT a conservative state; it's a non-voting state. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the details on what it will take for Texas to turn blue, and the numbers don't offer much encouragement.

Horwitz at Texpatriate explains why Attorney General Greg Abbott pulled the ladder up behind him on other disabled Texans after receiving his thirty pieces of silver.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson shows how the Texas GOP, with Rick Perry at the wheel, took the express lane to Crazy Town and the rest of Texas is along for the ride: It's Going To Be A Huge Mess.

Neil at All People Have Value admired turtles and a fish seemingly doing well in dirty water in Houston's Buffalo Bayou. These creatures recall the fact that people can not only thrive in a rough environment, they can also shape their surroundings for the better. All People Have Value is part of

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

Texas Clean Air Matters calls on the state to work with the EPA.

The Feminist Justice League shows some love for Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

The Texas Green Report cheers a study showing Texas among the nation's leaders in solar-related jobs.

Christopher Hooks wants Dan Patrick and Julian Castro to have that debate about immigration already.

Lone Star Q salutes outgoing Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns.

Mustafa Tameez analyzes NASA's Tea Party Primary in CD36.

Battleground Texas had an amazingly successful event at Rice University for Wendy Davis.

And finally, the TPA congratulates Noel Freeman for a long awaited and much deserved second chance.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Greg Abbott's self-loathing demonstrated in his ADA litigation

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has said he supports the Americans with Disabilities Act, has tenaciously battled to block the courthouse door to disabled Texans who sue the state.

In a series of legal cases in his three terms, Abbott’s office has fought a blind pharmacy professor in Amarillo who wanted reflective tape on the stairs to her office; two deaf defendants in Laredo who asked for a qualified sign language interpreter in their courtroom; and a woman with an amputated leg. In that case, the state argued she was not disabled because she had a prosthetic limb.

Abbott, who has used a wheelchair since a tree fell on him while he was jogging and crushed his spine almost 30 years ago, applauds the 1990 federal law. It has helped provide the ramps, wide doors and access that allow him to give speeches and meet with constituents.

Unspeakable, isn't it?  In his defense, Abbott says he's just doing his job.

While Abbott, the leading Republican contender for governor, benefits from the ADA mandates that guide businesses, builders and cities, he believes it is unconstitutional to force the state to comply. He has argued that his duty is to protect the state’s autonomy and its taxpayers by using all legal tools available to him — including the argument that the state is immune from disability lawsuits brought under the ADA.

“It’s the attorney general’s duty to zealously represent the interests of the state of Texas, and in these cases that meant raising all applicable legal arguments in litigation where Texas was sued in court,” said Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland.

I'm sure he thought he was just doing his job when he advocated for tort reform, in order to deny all future Texans the legal bootstraps that he pulled himself up by after he ran under that tree.

Advocates for the disabled say Abbott’s office has worked to deny ADA protections by repeatedly and falsely claiming that impaired Texans don’t have the right to sue the state for discrimination. Abbott declined several requests from The Dallas Morning News to discuss the matter.

It touches on two key elements of Abbott’s campaign to succeed Gov. Rick Perry. He is touting his record of defending conservative legal principles. But Abbott also is highlighting his disability as evidence of his toughness. In campaign speeches and videos, he notes that he has “literally, a spine of steel” as a result of the accident.

There's a difference between being tough and being mean, just as there is a difference between a spine of steel and a titanium spinal implant.  'Tough' isn't the proper word to describe Abbott; 'cruel' is.  One example.

For former Texas Tech University Health Sciences professor Elaine King Miller, who was suffering a degenerative eye disease, the question was whether the university would provide her, among other things, reflective tape on the stairway and voice-recognition software for typing on her computer.

It took a five-year legal fight with the state. In 2005, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for her to pursue a discrimination suit.

Another example.

...In 2004, it argued before the Texas Supreme Court that a woman with one leg could not claim disability discrimination because she wore a prosthesis that remedied her mobility.

The all-Republican court rejected the argument, issuing a unanimous, written opinion just three weeks later. The court usually considers cases for months, even years.

The most bizarre disclosure in the article is that Abbott frequently loses his requests to have the cases dismissed on sovereign immunity... but frequently wins them when they go to trial.

You would think any sensible barrister would eventually come to the conclusion that he could just let the cases be tried on their merits.  Not Greg Abbott.  Besides being a lousy lawyer and a sorry individual, and like most people who at some basic level are both stupid and cruel... he's stubborn.

Dennis Borel, executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, said that advocates’ frustration stems from Abbott’s office consistently seeking immunity for Texas agencies, regardless of the claim.

“When you invoke the sovereign immunity defense, you’re not responding to the merits of the case,” he said. “You’re simply saying the state is immune for its violations of the ADA and therefore there’s not even a point of having a day in court.”

Brian East, senior attorney for Texas Disability Rights, said the repeated efforts to raise sovereign immunity against the disabled cuts off the chance to fix problems.

“I wouldn’t say they were hostile,” East said of the attorney general’s legal team. “They are hostile to the notion that individual citizens might have redress against the state, in general. They are not targeting people with disabilities specifically, but doing what they can to limit the rights of individuals to use the courts in civil rights cases against the state.”

It's really difficult to understand how Greg Abbott -- as a man, as a human being with a semblance of conscience -- is able to live with himself.  There's simply no amount of psychological counseling, or prayer, or whatever you want to call it that can resolve these inner conflicts.  It just winds up manifesting itself as some kind of internal and/or external rage and hatred.

The man is so reprehensible that people with a functioning soul can't comprehend his motivations.  Which naturally excludes the vast majority of Texas Republican primary voters.

Abbott's ego and self-importance -- I'm sure he just thinks of it as his destiny -- has completely consumed his conscience.  That minor annoyance was sacrificed on the altar of his political aspirations many years ago.   And yet he is surrounded by sycophants who believe he is honorable, decent, "God-fearing", and every manner of similarly happy horseshit.

This is the deepest, most disturbed, most profound cognitive dissonance on public display I can say I have ever witnessed.  It's hard to predict how truly hideous a governor Greg Abbott is capable of being in the wake of fourteen years of Rick Perry, but Texans are very likely to find out.

Unless something really unforeseen happens, that is.