Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2008 starts badly (IYAR)

*If You're A Republican.

-- Former state representative Nancy Moffat, a three-term incumbent Republican in Tarrant County who was defeated in a primary by the odious Vicki Truitt, will run again for HD-98 ... as a Democrat:

"It wasn't so much that I left the Republican Party as much as it was that the party left me," Moffat said. "They're all about the wealthy, and I want to be for the little guy and the middle guy."

Recall that Dan Barrett in neighboring HD-97 was just elected in a similarly believed-to-be-red district. Recall also why Vicki Truitt is odious:

Truitt is, of course, no favorite of any bloggers thanks to her sad attempts to pass a blogger libel bill last session.

Hat tip to jobsanger here also.

-- It takes a woman's POV to remind us men that Chuck Rosenthal was either stalking his secretary/former girlfriend, or graciously offering her pity sex. He is one hell of a cocksman, if nothing else. Don't miss the takes from the starboard tack.

-- The Chron plays catchup; Democrats are poised to retake Harris County -- particularly the bench -- back...

With contests for president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and district attorney attracting most of the voters' attention to the top of the 2008 ballot, the races for 25 or more criminal and civil court judgeships likely will be decided based on the candidates' party label rather than public awareness of their performance or qualifications, experts said.

Republicans essentially have reached their voter turnout zenith in Harris County in recent years, University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said, thanks partly to the drawing power of the Texan president and the party's mobilization of Christian conservatives. Now some Anglo voters, the core of GOP strength, are trickling away to neighboring counties, he added.

Meanwhile, the number of Spanish-surname participating voters, as calculated by the Harris County clerk's office, is booming — on pace to approach 150,000 in 2008. Hispanics already favored the Democratic Party and surveys show that Republican inroads have been blocked by the GOP's image on the immigration issue as punitive.

In the overall Republican vista, "there are no more Anglos to work with," said Murray, who has been informally advising candidates from both parties as they seek data on the 2008 election. "In some ways you run out of bodies. There's no one else out there."

The trends may explain a narrowing of the gap by which Republican judicial candidates won their races in Harris County. On average, these GOP winners hit a high of 56.47 percent in 2002, with the top of the ballot featuring Republican Rick Perry's gubernatorial election stomping of Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez. In 2006, as Perry won with about 38 percent of the statewide vote against three other major candidates, the average posting for local judges seeking re-election in two-way races was 52.17 percent, a 14-year low.

Similar population shifts helped Dallas County Democrats sweep judgeships and other countywide offices in 2006 after the county had been in Republican hands for many years. That surprise reversal serves as an inspiration for Democrats here, and as a warning for Republicans.

-- Mike Huckabee is still having difficulty not stepping in his own shit in Iowa. Yet it appears from the polling this morning that he and Barack Obama may emerge victorious from the cornfields tomorrow evening. Kooch told his caucus-goers to report to Obama, an interesting development in light of a similar move by him four years ago to send them to John Edwards. Whether that is bad news or not for John remains to develop, but it's all bad for Hillary no matter what.

On shortly to New Hampshire for everyone, where John McCain has risen from the dead and Ron Paul has been excluded from a GOP debate there. The cacophony from the Paulistas is of similar pitch to this incessant whine.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ric Williamson comes to a fork in the toll road

Feliz 2008

We ate dinner early with some close friends and then went to a small party at our cross-the-hall neighbors, retiring before midnight as has been our custom in recent years, leaving the Amateur Night antics to others. A cool crisp walk with the dog already completed, some black-eyed peas with brunch later, a little football, a little nap...

...what are you doing on the first day of the New Year?

Best-of-2007 Wrangle

Last year was a seminal one for the blogosphere, nationally as well as locally.

In recognition of the excellent work done by the Texas Progressive Alliance and its many member blogs and bloggers, here's a special New Year's edition of the TPA round-up.

Eye on Williamson has been one of the state's leading blogs when it comes to covering toll road issues and state representative Mike Krusee's career. EOW's top posts of 2007 included The "New Way Forward" On Tolls, the coming demise of Krusee in Krusee's Influence And Credibility Are Gone, Time For HD-52 To Start Over and a post on the ongoing battle between the citizens and the county government over a new landfill contract, The Landill, TCEQ Hearing & More Gattis Shenanigans .

The most popular posts from The Texas Blue included coverage of the 2008 Senate race. We kicked everything off with one of our inaugural pieces analyzing Cornyn's potential vulnerability in '08, in a piece picked up by the Washington Post. We then broke the code on Kos' "mystery candidate," revealing that it was Rep. Rick Noriega that Kos had in mind with his draft movement, and interviewed the representative shortly before he declared his official candidacy. And we published some of the first information examining Mikal Watts' candidacy in what became the most read story on the Blue this year; in what was also one of our most-read pieces, we analyzed the role of money in statewide Texas campaigns, looking at the efforts taken by the statewide campaign of David Van Os to illustrate the need for money in politics, the proper role of a nascent state party organization, and the limits on the effectiveness of a political message that come from the inability to spread that message due to the lack of funds. That article led to a dialog with David Van Os, and to an interview with him shortly afterward where he voices his side of the issue. And finally our "Who's Blue" audio interview series also included a number of other fascinating figures in Democratic politics, both statewide and across the nation. Some of the more notable interviews have been with four-star general and 2004 presidential candidate Wesley Clark, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and current presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

    John Coby of Bay Area Houston documented what a team of anonymous citizens have researched to expose the Texas Ethics Commission as incompetent in the series Spending Campaign Cash. Their work uncovered $3 million in undisclosed expenditures by Texas legislators. KHOU-TV featured their work in late December with their report Activist: State's campaign finance oversight out-of-focus.

    Easter Lemming Liberal News's topics covered this past year include Pasadena politics, the Joe Horn shooting and our national So-Called-Liberal-Media.

    News items covered by TXsharon on Bluedaze: An attempt to shame a Texas Granny who received the Peacemaker of the year award. The depletion of and pollution of our water due to the irresponsible and shocking use by the oil and gas industry including an explanation of Groundwater Conservation Districts and how they can help that was published in two Texas newspapers, and the attempt by oil and gas to sabotage the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. The failure of the Texas Railroad Commission to protect Texans. The protection money breakdown paid to Texas Railroad Commissioners by the oil and gas industry.

    WhosPlayin's favorite posts of 2007 were all about ideas: Universal Health Care - You're Soaking In It which explains that we're already paying for universal health care. Why Democrats Oppose "Voter ID" Bills was an explanation for our conservative friends. Lastly, Fiscal Conservatism with a Broader View.

    Hal at Half Empty hemmed and hawed. How to decide which three of this year's postings merited special recognition? Then it dawned on him to mention the posts about three singular events that he attended and took photos. Priceless! In reverse chronological order: The Fort Bend Democrats Have a Booth at the Fair. Then a summer fundraiser featuring TDP Chairman Boyd Richie. And last February the Fort Bend Democrats held a love fest for Rick and Melissa Noriega.

    Off the Kuff submits his top posts of 2007: David Dewhurst and Voter ID. Property Tax Cuts Uber Alles, the mantra of the 80th Lege, and Drafting Rick Noriega for Senate.

    BlueBloggin', another new blog to the TPA in 2007, submitted these: nytexan wrote on The Christian March Against America; BossKitty has a poignant OpEd: All Answers Are Selfish And Shallow; and nytexan discusses how Mexico Get Texas Land Through Border Fence.

    Doing My Part For The Left took a look back and is still disgusted with Hypocrites, Toe Tapping Senators, and Knee Pad Presidents. And who can forget Ann Coulter proving what a witch (usually spelled with a capital B) she is. Refinish69 also looked at Gay Pride and World AIDS Day again to explain some history about himself and the continuing need for Gay Voters to speak out.

    One of Grand Moff Texan's too-rare diaries is always a special delight for us at Texas Kaos. But a standout piece inspired by the ignorance of the beltway punditry really broke down Why We Blog, Or Broderism in my Rear-View Mirror. Read it, and be inspired as we kick off the 2008 election cycle. As the wilder-than-usual Texas Legislative session came to a close, Boadicea highlighted a few items of interest in Personal Courage, Political Vendettas, and an Unexpected Outbreak of Spine. With his usual sharp eye and incisive writing, Krazypuppy noted the REAL importance of the Larry Craig scandal in Why Another GOP Sex Scandal Matters--It's Not the Queers, Either.

    It was a wild year at McBlogger. We've heard about 39%'s trip to meet the Bilderburgers. We've also had exclusive one-on-one interviews with the Democratic candidates. We also took time to call out some of our friends to be quiet. Because they're being a pain in the ass. This year McBlogger turned two and like all two-year-olds you can expect tantrums mixed with an even larger dose of mischief. Like all children, you'll want to kill us but won't be able to because killing kids is wrong (so very, very wrong). You'll also find us precocious and irresistibly cute.

    We at The North Texas Liberal had some trouble deciding on which posts were our absolute favorites, but we decided on a few that seemed worthy of mention a second time. First, a series on Shaquanda Cotton, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl from Paris, Texas. She was sentenced to up to seven years at the TYC for pushing a hall monitor at her school (the same judge gave a white girl probation for burning down the family home). Our coverage of Shaquanda got the attention of someone at the Lamar County DA's office, who used some recycled talking points to trash Cotton and her mother. Despite that, after the mainstream media broke Cotton's story, she became a candidate for early release. By March it was official that she would be released from the TYC, and in April we showed a video of her reunion with her mother. (Cotton has returned to school and wants to study to become a lawyer so she can fight future injustices.) We continued our global warming coverage with our Planet Purgatory series, parts One and Two. In May, we heard that the global warming tipping point could be in only ten years' time. NASA scientist James Hansen, a tireless environment advocate who testified about global warming before the Congress back in the 1980s, explains the tipping point theory as the point of no return. But he also believes in prevention rather than adaptation. Lastly, we gave Sen. John Cornyn the credit he deserved when he finally stood on the right side of an issue. Despite a year of flops and fabrications, he said he would support seasonal workers through the H2-B visa program. But despite the efforts of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the fix wasn't finalized before Congress adjourned for the winter holidays, leaving thousands of small business owners out of luck this holiday season. When we spoke face-to-face with a legislative expert at Cornyn's DC office, we were told that the Texas senator would like to see comprehensive immigration reform and wouldn't lobby for the H2-B visas, though he supported seasonal workers, because he didn't want a piecemeal fix for the problem. So even though he stood with his constituents on the right side of the issue, in the end he let us down again.

    Edmundo Rocha of Para Justicia y Libertad wrote about two protests against the prison industrial complex used here in Texas to detain undocumented immigrants -- the Houston
    Processing Center
    and the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. Prior to those postings, he reported on the suicide of David Ritcheson of Spring, the Latino teen who was brutally beaten, tortured, and sodomized with a plastic pole by two white racist teenagers, David Henry Tuck and Keith Robert Turner.

    Marc G. of Marc's Miscellany analyzed Tom Craddick's preposterous claim that the speaker of the house can only be removed by impeachment. Marc also discussed Gov. Perry's controversial decision to veto the health insurance appropriation for community college employees.

    Israel Behar-Ojalvo, PDiddie's father-in-law, passed away in March and Brains and Eggs had a post with photos in tribute. The Texas Youth Commission remains the worst scandal in Texas history, and that was apparent in April of last year. And in the matter of a few hours just before Labor Day, Alberto Gonzales, Phil Garner, and Tim Purpura all lost their jobs. Good riddance to a big bunch of losers. More like this in 2008, please.

    2007 was a heck of a year for Capitol Annex. Vince Leibowitz at Capitol Annex is most proud of his ground-breaking coverage of the saga surrounding the insurgency in the Texas House and Speaker Craddick's power grab, including Terry Keel's Troubling Memo (a smoking gun, for sure), and the saga surrounding the resignation of parliamentarian Denise Davis, which earned him a mention in (among other publications), Texas Lawyer. Coverage of the 80th Legislature was also a major event for Capitol Annex, including a mind-numbing Liveblogging of debate on the General Appropriations Act, and a special video: Jodie Laubenberg Is Screaming.

    It has been another exciting year at DosCentavos. I wrote about my expectations for the 2007 Lege Session. Beyond La Politica, we also know DosCentavos enjoys writing reviews on the latest releases in the Tejano and Mexican American music genre. This year, he received the honor of being asked by Los Lobos to rate their most recent release, The Town and The City. Finally, during the last Lege session, some Senators attempted to take up the debate on legalizing gambling to pay for education. DC tells us a few realities about higher education funding in the process.

    Musings started the year concerned about science education in Texas (see: Warren Chisum, R-Dark Ages) and ended the year with some commentary about her friend, Chris Comer, who was fired as Director of Science at the Texas Education Agency over her stand on evolution. In between it was all about Melissa and Rick Noriega.

    CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes a church in El Paso falls victim to manipulation by a right wing cadre bent on world domination. CouldBeTrue then wonders what would have happened in a perfect Republican world when the Minnesota bridge collapsed. South Texas Chisme covers the wedge'em and hate'em campaign, also known as the Republican immigration strategy. Hispanics have taken note.

    The series The Texas Cloverleaf is most proud of since forming in the summer of 2007 was the continued exposure of the outright lies and misleading statements coming from the pro-toll road crowd in Dallas during the Trinity Vote effort. Even though the referendum failed, we feel we did our part to help Dallas voters make an informed decision. Read the series here, here, here, here and here.

    Best wishes for a happy 2008 from all the blogs and bloggers of the Texas Progressive Alliance.