Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Live-blogging the Lege

I'm in E2.030, one of the Capitol's hearing rooms, with Greg and about a hundred of Borris Miles's supporters, awaiting his swearing-in.

More as we move along.

Update (12:31 pm): The Pledges, roll call, and swearing-in of the Texas House members has completed.

Update (12:39 pm): Vince is, as always, doing the repetitive exercises. Matt is hosting a party in Senator Gallegos' office, and I'm about to go over there for something to eat.

Update (1:10 pm): I'm fed, and the resolution for the rules for the speaker election is being read. Nothing special; it follows protocol from sessions past and is adopted unanimously.

Update (1:58 pm): Phillip doesn't think it's supposed to be taking so long, but HR 35 is finally being read with the "agreed language". It's going to be a paper ballot, signed by each respective member.

Update: (3:08 pm): Republican Reps. Will Hartnett and Robert Talton just exchanged pleasantries over Hartnett's amendment to make the voting record public immediately. Talton exclaimed several times, "Don't you want to protect the members (from retribution from Craddick)?" FTR, Hartnett is a Craddick supporter, Talton is not. Talton is followed by Mondo Martinez, Dan Branch, Paul Moreno, and Scott Hochberg in similar vein.

Update (3:30 pm): Sadly, my live-blogging is coming to an end, as our bus for Houston departs shortly. Check in at BOR and Capitol Annex for the finale.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In Austin today for SDEC

After four days of twelve-hour shifts at the hospital, I'm headed to Austin this morning for the SDEC winter conclave. While I was on the conference call yesterday with Boyd Richie, Amber Moon, and Hector Nieto of the TDP, Anna was in the room and filed the report.

TexBlog-observation: With the addition of high-profile writers Anna -- she had her own place but has moved over to TK -- and Boadicea, Texas Kaos is currently doing the best investigative and analytical blogging from the progressive perspective about the developments down here in Deep-In-The-Hearta. BOR is evolving once more as one student generation (Karl-T) departs and another (Phillip Martin) assumes the day-to-day responsibility, and has lately become the go-to for insider dope on all things Lege as well as other Texas Democratic scuttlebutt.

So while TK is sharpening its swords for progress, BOR is becoming the agent for the majority (read Democrats). Before anyone gets excited: this isn't a criticism or even necessarily a bad thing.

My beeves with the state party have received plenty of airing and I won't repeat them now. As Bo states, the best thing blogs can do is offer our opinion on the visibility, the accountability, and the effectiveness of the state apparatus.

And perhaps influence those in another ways.

More to write later, when I can find the time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The usual insomnia

-- As I have spent much of the past few days in the Texas Medical Center waiting while chemotherapy bags drained into my father-in-law, I understand this completely. My take is that it isn't even so much the time lost by the patient but by his caregivers.

Update (1/5): For those who have sent me their kind thoughts, an update on my father-in-law's condition is posted in the comments.

-- The contest for speaker of the Texas House occupies much blog bandwidth lately. Too many to link to; you can follow the play-by-play over in the Texas Blogwire in the right column. I do better with color commentary (though I'll be in Austin next Tuesday when the Lege convenes to watch the action, and post here about it). The conventional wisdom holds that Tom Craddick is toast. I don't think he is, yet. Here's my observation/projection as of the moment:

Jim Pitts will have a press conference in roughly twelve hours to announce that he and Brian McCall will join their forces to defeat Craddick under one flag -- his. Senfronia Thompson is poised to re-enter the race in order to manage a voting bloc of around fifty Democrats who committed first to her, then to McCall when she withdrew, but are lukewarm at best about Pitts.

If Senfronia controls those fifty-ish votes, she (and Texas Dems) are in a pretty sweet bargaining position. Unless, because the GOP loathes the idea of the Democrats controlling the outcome of the speaker's election, they suddenly coalesce again around Craddick. Then they have all the votes they need -- there are around ten or so Democrats who are firmly with the incumbent speaker -- and in the process ram it down everybody else's throats.

So my point is: pay close attention during the Capitol presser this afternoon to which Republicans are standing with Pitts. Not just the announced names of those who signed his pledge card, but which ones are actually standing there behind him. The ones that are not present are the real swing voters, and they are much more critical here than the Democratic members who have sold themselves out to Speaker Craddick.

Sylvester Turner, Harold Dutton, Dawnna Dukes, Kevin Bailey, Aaron Pena, etc. aren't even pawns in this game; they're drones -- the same as any of Craddick's mindless GOP supporters -- and as such they don't have the significant influence on the result that is believed. Honestly, only the Republican insurgents do. If Craddick buys back the support of the rebels -- literally buys them back, with promises of chairmanships, unfunded primary opponents in 2008 and so on like that -- then together with the Democratic sold-outs it's over.

This poker match is going to have the stakes raised several times over the next few days. Craddick is far from finished. And once the smoke clears next week there will be precious little "bipartisanship" to be had in this session, no matter the outcome.

Of course, I could be wrong about everything.

Update (90 minutes after this posting): Senfronia claims to have sixty votes, though McCall had less than that, and his tally had as many as 19 Republicans. I still think her number is closer to 50.

Update (1/5): No names and no supporters at the press conference yesterday. That's not good for anybody but Craddick.

-- It's Thomas Jefferson's Quran. You can't attach a value to irony this priceless.

-- The same with this level of deceit (though the price to ExxonMobil was apparently a paltry $16 million). Please remember this every time you need to fill your gas tank.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy National Hangover Day!

I didn't even consider a year-end rantrospective. My reputation as a curmudgeon is pervasive enough as it is. I still feel like giggling along with some of these ...

-- Bob Woodward snags a gallows Q and A with Saddam. A brief excerpt:

“In fact,” Saddam added, “I could empathize with George the elder, since I also had to suffer the indignity of two idiot sons.”

-- Never poke at an angry wildcat with a stick.

-- Speaking of stupid, here are the 2006 Darwin Award winners. No, Steve Irwin isn't listed, but he ought to be.

-- I thought we just said farewell to this douchebag ...

In what some called a desperate gambit to retain Republican control of the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist announced today that he had examined a videotape and pronounced recovering Senator Tim Johnson dead.

"I will remain Majority Leader and the Republicans will continue to hold the Senate," he said in a press conference this morning.

-- the official statement from the president on the passing of Gerald Ford:

Laura and I were kind of saddened by the news of President Ford's death. The American people will occasionally admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty, his character and the relatively honorable conduct of his Administration. The 38th President will be vaguely remembered by our nation. We offer our sympathies to Betty Ford and and some of President Ford's family. Our thoughts and prayers will be elsewhere in the hours and days ahead.

-- and yesterday's Funnies.