Thursday, July 19, 2007

The 18th

A few of the names I can remember without Googling: Sam Houston. "Pappy" O'Daniel. Lyndon Johnson. Price Daniel. Ralph Yarborough. Lloyd Bentsen.

John Tower. Phil Gramm. The current occupants, Senator Perjury Technicality and Senator Box Turtle.

Dave McNeely, whose columns appear syndicated throughout the state, has more. Excerpted in full; emphasis mine:

If you sit around wondering how many Texans have sat in the United States Senate in the 91 years since senators began being selected by popular elections in 1916, the answer is 17. State Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, in the 2008 election would like to be chosen as the 18th.

Jabbing at the Republican incumbent, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, as a "cheerleader" for the administration of President George W. Bush "for a variety of failed policies," Noriega said a change in representation is necessary to bring a change in direction.

"A lot of the problem we see today is (that) stubbornness is not a foreign policy," Noriega said.

Noriega, a sturdy 49-year-old legislator who has worked in educational administration, on Monday announced formation of an exploratory committee at a press conference on the state capitol's front lawn.

Noriega, with buzz-cut hair and an erect military bearing, chose a backdrop of the memorial to those who died at the Alamo, to underline his 26 years in the armed services, including a stint in Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard.

"Growing up in Houston, my family taught me the importance of serving my community," Noriega said in a prepared statement. "I've been privileged to serve this country as a soldier, my state as an elected representative, and Houston as a community leader focused on education. The call to service has been a big part of my life, and I am taking the next step in answering that call."

"Standing in the shadows of this monument, I'm reminded of our state's great tradition and our duty to speak out when things have gone off the rails," Noriega said. "Today, our nation is headed in the wrong direction, led by those whose choice is to divide Americans to maintain power.

"They ignore the will of the people about the war in Iraq. They ignore the needs of the people for health care, college education, and a better standard of living. They ignore the lessons of our history: that America's strength lies in our unity and diversity.

"John Cornyn represents the worst of these trends," Noriega said. "And it's time for him to go."

Noriega rose to lieutenant colonel while training Afghan troops. Asked what he would do about the war in Iraq, Noriega said he would follow the withdrawal timetable laid out by the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by former President Bush's Secretary of State, James Baker.

Noriega's wife Melissa, who sat in for him in the Texas House of Representatives while he was in Afghanistan, was elected June 16 to the Houston City Council. After he returned, Noriega was tapped to run a National Guard border security operation, and then by Houston Mayor Bill White to coordinate relief for refugees from Hurricane Katrina who fled to Houston.

Though Noriega took aim in his press conference at Cornyn, his first major hurdle is Democrat Mikal Watts, a wealthy plaintiff's attorney from Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Watts, 39, has already donated and loaned millions of dollars to his campaign. By keeping his campaign war chest abreast of the Republican's, Watts hopes to demonstrate that he can go toe to toe on television advertising.

Noriega, who is not personally wealthy, obviously hopes his Hispanic surname will help offset Watts' dollars. Hispanics lean Democratic, and can account for between a third and half the vote in a Democratic primary.

The Alamo memorial also was undoubtedly chosen to help soften any negatives Noriega's surname may have for non-Hispanics. During times of battles over immigration, and talk of a fence along the Texas-Mexico border, the memorial serves as a reminder that during Texas's war with Mexico, Hispanic Texans as well as Anglos fought and died at the Alamo.

Asked what impact his surname might have on the contest, Noriega said "I'll let the voters decide that. I'm an American."

Cornyn told reporters he'll wait to see who Democrats select as their nominee before responding to attacks.

Noriega's exploratory committee is chaired by Paul Hobby of Houston, who was the Democratic Party's near-miss candidate in 1998 for state comptroller, and son of Bill Hobby, the former longtime Democratic lieutenant governor.

Noriega "is a rare mix of passion, competence and integrity," said Paul Hobby, who said he'd known Noriega for years. "Rick can and should win. I want to turn on CNN and see him representing Texas in the United States Senate. Rick is competent and practical; he is not slick or partisan. That is what we need right now -- credible leadership."

Happy Blogosphere Day

(courtesy my friend Boadecia:)

What's that, you say? What the hell is "Blogosphere Day"?

The tradition we now know as Blogosphere Day began in 2004 when, in a surprise statement, incumbent Rep. Jim Greenwood (PA-08) announced his retirement. Democratic challenger Ginny Schrader, with $7000 in the bank, came to the attention of the nationwide blogosphere via the front page of DailyKos, and over $30,000 poured into her campaign that day. Three weeks earlier, a brand new fundraising platform for Democrats -- ActBlue -- was launched, and quickly adopted by those who were raising funds for Ginny Schrader.

We say this time it's Rick Noriega's turn.

A word from the founder about that storied day:

Virginia "Ginny" Schrader was not getting much "help" at all from the DCCC in July 2004. She was running an uphill battle against Republican Congressman Jim Greenwood, who had won his previous race with 62%. Schrader herself had won a primary with only 60% against a frequent Republican candidate who had switched parties. As of the June 30th filing report, she had $7,000 on hand. Her chances, to put it mildly, were slim to none. Despite Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional district having voted for Gore in 2000, Greenwood's moderate social views (he was pro-choice, for example) enabled him to win reelection easily, over and over again. This race would be no different.

Except, suddenly the incumbent announced his retirement, and one enterprising blogger thought it ought to be different. VERY different. So he set out to raise money for a candidate he'd not yet met.

410PM: I used to find Schrader's website, and quickly noted her main positions on the issues, her biography and the district demographics (it voted for Gore, for example). I then set to work typing up an article on the front page of DailyKos. As I did, I checked to confirm the news, and found out that Schrader had just $7,000 in the bank.

440PM: I finished the article, and published it on the front page. This is what it said:

Breaking News: GOP Congressman Greenwood (PA-08) Leaving Congress This Year

I just read this at and in a breaking news e-mail from Congressman Jim Greenwood, a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional district, just announced he will not seek reelection this year, instead removing his name from the ballot. The Democrat, Virginia "Ginny" Schrader, is an attorney who has just $7,000 in the bank as of June 30th. Greenwood's district voted for Gore in 2000 by a decent amount, and the GOP is now scrambling for a replacement.

Schraeder's website is [ Note: Link is now inactive]. A good place to contribute to would be at ACTBLUE at [Note: Link is now inactive], as it will track the donations recieved for the campaign.

I would suggest that we get involved ASAP. This seat is a Democratic-leaning one, and is too good to miss. Schrader is a liberal-to-moderate, pro-choice Democrat. In addition, she supports civil unions and is against Bush's positions on Iraq and the Patriot Act. She is an attorney who ran for State Rep. in 2002 and lost by a respectable margin.

This is completely out of left field, folks, and it gives us another opportunity for a pickup. Ginny Schrader is the luckiest candidate in the nation today, but can her luck hold?

In my rush to post the article, I mispelled Schrader's name at one point. I also forgot to include her ActBlue account, which I added later on at one poster's urging. In addition, I as of then had not figured out HTML, so there was no bolding or italics in the post. Reading it today when compared to my "modern" work is like comparing Sumerian clay tablets to a Medieval manuscript in its aesthetic beauty.

And yet my appeal worked. I didn't know Ginny Schrader from Adam; in fact, nearly all of the bloggers who responded that day didn't know her either. But people gave, people wrote kind words and let others know the news: that a Congressional seat could be won that had been not been looked at before.

By the end of July 20th, Ginny Schrader had raised $30,000 from the Internet.

Let's make July 19th, 2007 Rick Noriega Blogosphere Day in Texas !

On July 19th, 2005, the blogosphere catapulted Paul Hackett (D-Blogosphere) into contention in one of the reddest districts of red Ohio, OH-02. An excerpt from the Mother Jones timeline of the now recurring phenomenon:

July 18 - Dembloggers posts video of a Hackett ad that Republicans claim creates a false impression of support from George W. Bush. On the same day, Baker posts an email he has received from the Democratic Party that helpfully informs him: on "August 2 there will be a special election to fill a vacant seat in Congress representing the 2nd Congressional district in Southern Ohio."

July 19 - Blog for America, the blog of Democracy for America, announces DFA's endorsement of Hackett. The timing coincides with National Blogosphere Day, which blogs across the internet celebrate by urging donations to Hackett's campaign. In eight hours, Paul Hackett's ActBlue page pulls in $55,000.

July 20 - Grow Ohio reports that the blogs brought in $80,000 in a single day. Swing State Project reports Hackett currently tops Schmidt in Cash on Hand. Hackett's money comes from a network of individuals from around the country, each averaging around $50 a donation. According to the FEC reports analyzed by the blogs, Schmidt's money has come from PACs in average donations of $1,785. Grow Ohio, Swing State Project and OH-02 offer daily information on get-out-the-vote campaigns around the district.

While we're sure the Noriega campaign wouldn't turn down a one day influx of $80,000, this would be a great day to get more small donors on board the Noriega Express.

On July 19th, 2006, the blogosphere catapulted Ned Lamont (D-Blogosphere) into contention in CT-Sen. Howie at Down With Tyranny filed this after-action report:

Ned Lamont was the biggest single recipient and he matched, dollar for dollar, all the money that came in-- something he will continue to do through the end of the primary. Nevertheless, a story in today's NY TIMES by Mike McIntire and Jennifer Medina illustrates what a tough, tough task Ned has taken on himself. Forget for a moment that Joe Lieberman has become a millionaire many times over since he was elected to public office. (Unlike Ned, he is not a man who built a business, got audited, paid taxes and wages; Lieberman just won elections and, like most corrupt politicians... wound up very, very rich.) The headline of the TIMES story says a lot: "Lieberman's Donors Include Many Who Favor Republicans."

Lamont's prospect of unseating Kissin' Joe Lieberman in a primary seemed as distant a prospect as Box Turtle John Cornyn wants to pretend replacing him with Lt. Colonel Rick Noriega is. But 800 of my new best friends know different.

Are you ready for a ticket to ride on the Noriega Express through the cities, small towns, and wild flower fields of Texas?

Won't it be nice to have one United States Senator from Texas who doesn't embarrass the state every time he opens his mouth? Get on the Noriega Express, and help make it happen.

Donate here. Help Texas have a United States Senator who honors the spirit of our beloved Lady Bird instead of stiffing her friends and family at her memorial service.

Future United States Senator Rick Noriega. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The old drugs work better

As many of you know, I am a type 2 diabetic, now nearly three years running. This news in the Chron today is good for me:

Older, cheaper diabetes drugs are as safe and effective as newer ones, concludes an analysis that is good news for diabetics and may further hurt sales of Avandia, a blockbuster pill recently tied to heart problems.

The clear winner: metformin, sold as Glucophage and generically for about $100 a year. It works as well as other diabetes pills but does not cause weight gain or too-low blood sugar, the analysis found. It also lowers LDL or bad cholesterol.

"It looks to be the safest," said Dr. Shari Bolen, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who led the review, which was published online Monday by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Consumer Reports also published a consumer guide of the results. Besides metformin, it rates glipizide and glimepiride, sold as Amaryl and Glucotrol, as best bets.

Metformin and glipizide are the two I have been taking from the outset, and the only two I have ever used to control my blood sugar. (I also take Tricor for elevated triglycerides, Lipitor to elevate my good cholesterol -- I have never had an issue with high LDL -- as well as a mild diuretic called Triamterene to control symptoms of Meneire's, and Lyrica for diabetic neuropathy in my feet.) In addition to the prescriptions, I take some over-the-counter yet doctor-recommended remedies, including low-dose aspirin therapy and a fish oil capsule (omega 3's also help lift HDL) with each meal. I do not inject insulin; all of my meds are oral.

The good doctors of Baylor Family Medicine have helped me effectively manage my diabetes, particularly Dr. Grace Kuo. My A1C score, 12 at the time I was diagnosed, is now under 7, about as good as a person with a functioning pancreas can do.

And yes, I exercise regularly and watch what I eat, as every diabetic should.

I'm fortunate that my insurance plan is good. The co-pays on all these range from $10 to $20, which means I still spend nearly a hundred bucks a month for them. God forbid my insurance went away.

Have you seen SiCKO yet?

Don't piss on my shoes and tell me it's raining

Don't tell me you didn't get with no hoes in N'Awlins.

Don't tell me you're a Nigerian prince who's had an unfortunate accident and needs to deposit a large amount of money in my bank account.

Don't tell me I can make thousands of dollars working from home.

Don't tell me bah bah bah bah bah, you're lovin' it.

Don't tell me you've got a bridge for sale.

Don't tell me to apply it directly to my forehead.

Don't tell me to tell ten people to send me ten dollars, then tell them to tell that to ten other people.

Don't tell me it's time for a fourth meal.

Don't tell me James Garner wants me to take out a reverse mortgage.

Don't tell me one of my deceased relatives ordered a monogrammed Bible for me, COD.

Don't tell me I can publish my poems in your journal for a low introductory rate.

Don't tell me I need a pill to keep my restless legs from bothering me at night.

Don't tell me you're concerned about the great deal of time multiple impeachment trials would take away from Congress working on the problems of the country, the time it would take for the House to consider articles of impeachment, and for the Senate to conduct multiple trials, would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to do what it was elected to do -- end the war and address some of the other terrible mistakes this administration has made over the past six-and-one-half years.

Because I ain't buyin' it.