Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pics or it didn't happen, General Abbott

Update: Joe the Pleb at Burnt Orange Report started it.

You want vile?

Texas Republicans have it for you.  I don't think it's convincing anyone to vote for Greg Abbott, and the Davis campaign will use it to focus their efforts in voter registration and fundraising.

More importantly, I don't think the smears will result in Davis losing support, either.  It's just another Swift Boat/birth certificate/"soshulism" screech that is all the opposition can muster any longer.

Here's some assembled reading that is more on target than anything conservatives are saying...

-- Jonathan Tilove at the Austin Statesman spends a little time whining about being scooped by Wayne Slater.  Once you get past that, he has a good aggregate of how the press has reacted to the story this week.  Here's the right question (almost at the very end):

Will all of this have any longterm impact -  positive or negative (because it appears to be energizing both supporters and detractors) - on Davis' chances of becoming governor?

He has a few clues before and after that.

-- Patti Kilday Hart dangit, Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron, also with the right perspective.

A few confessions today.

I'm not a fifth-generation Texan, as I've long claimed. My paternal grandmother informed me awhile back that she believes I'm sixth-generation on her side.

I didn't correct the record because I didn't want dueling claims out there. I regret the error.
When doctors' forms ask the dates of my various surgical procedures, I sometimes just guess. I regret the error.

In a June 2009 column, I wrote that, after my father got laid off when I was a girl, we "lost our house." My mother later explained we sold the house to avoid losing it. Figuratively, the claim was still true from my perspective. One day, we had our own house with a big backyard. Next, we were squeezed into an apartment. Still, I regret the error.

Coming from me, a humble newspaper columnist, you might accept all of the above as innocent inaccuracies that have caused no harm.

Coming from a politician running for, say, governor, they'd be fodder for attack ads and angry blog posts, proof at long last that I was a lying, scheming, spineless climber who would stop at nothing to win higher office. Conflicting genealogical claims would lead some to doubt my Texan heritage altogether. False dates on medical reports would show a plot to deceive voters about my health and physical ability to carry out the job. Wrongly implying that my family had endured foreclosure would be a biographical embellishment shamefully devised to appeal to working-class Texans.

I've had the same thing happen, and so has everybody else, particularly if you have ever done any genealogy.  Turns out my grandmother's favorite breakfast wasn't brains and eggs, like I thought, though she enjoyed it often.  And I grew up believing that my maternal grandfather was a train conductor, when he actually was a fireman on the caboose.

You know, 'lost in translation' stuff.  I guess we're all liars (especially conservatives).

-- It's a good thing Wendy Davis' consultant, Karin Johanson, has a handle on this kind of thing.  No more "oops" moments would be necessary for the next nine months, though.  Davis has to run a perfect campaign from here on out to pull off the upset.  And I do mean perfect.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Updates from Wendy Davis, Jerry Patterson and more

-- I agree with Pall Burka that Wendy Davis' "problems" -- or "resume' issues", as Chris Cilliza at the Washington Post put it -- can be easily fixed.  But she's going to have to fire Matt Angle and a few other people and hire some DC professionals to fix it.  Meanwhile, there is at least one conservative who questions the value of the smearing that is going on.

I signed Davis' letter and gave her more money today.

-- Jerry Patterson is the only Republican LG candidate not running on a "Kill the Ill Eagles" plank.  Strangely enough, in his TV commercial with an appeal to Latino tolerance, he calls them Tejanos.  It should be interesting to see how both this strategy and this particular tactic work out for him. 

-- Better Texas Blog has the day one play-by-play from the school finance lawsuit.

Last year the Texas school finance system was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that it is inadequate, inequitable, and inefficient. This week, State District Judge John Dietz has reopened evidence in the case to determine if actions made by the 2013 Texas Legislature resulted in any substantial changes to the school finance system.

The primary plaintiffs in the case argued that though the Texas Legislature took a step in the right direction, with a partial restoration of funding, it was too small a step and huge funding disparities still exist between property poor and property wealthy districts. As the Equity Center’s lawyer Rick Gray, who Texas Tribune reporter Morgan Smith quotes in her story, said, “Any and all funding changes are temporary at best. There is absolutely no requirement they be in existence beyond the year 2015…It was an exceedingly small step in the right direction.”

The plaintiffs were also quick to point out that the legislature made a conscious to not study the costs of its education requirements. The House version of the 2014-15 budget contained a rider (provision) that required a re-examination of the cost-of-education index and the weights and allotments within the current school finance formulas. This rider was stripped from the budget before finale passage.

As our post-legislative session analysis of public education funding in the 2014-15 budget explains, the Legislature failed to undo the harm caused by the unprecedented 2011 cuts, which disproportionately affect economically disadvantaged public school students. These cuts, among other inequities, led Judge Dietz to originally rule Texas’ school finance system unconstitutional early last year. (Reread our statement on Judge Dietz’s original ruling here).

The State is sticking by its original argument that the school finance system is and has been constitutional.

As Charles posted this morning, the case will eventually return to the Supremes, and nothing is likely to get resolved before the next legislative session convening in January, 2015.  With a new governor, and perhaps a new lieutenant governor, and more known about how funding public education might occur than we know today.

Update: David Alameel is finally out of the closet on women's reproductive freedom.  From my inbox this afternoon...

As your senator, I’ll wake up every day fighting to restore economic fairness and reform our government by:

Withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan and redirecting the hundreds of billions we are spending there to rebuild America by investing in good jobs, good schools and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

Investing in a quality education for all Texas’ children, not just the privileged few.

Growing our economy by creating good paying jobs in Texas, raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay for equal work and protecting the rights of union workers;

Standing up to Wall Street corporations and millionaires by making them pay their fair share, closing unfair tax loopholes and ending offshore tax shelters.

Stopping any attempts to privatize or cut Social Security and Medicare.

Protecting Roe v. Wade from right wing extremists who want government to interfere in women’s health care decisions.

Passing comprehensive immigration reform that is humane, respectful of our laws and provides a responsible roadmap to citizenship.

Fighting for marriage equality.

These policy positions are all good enough for me, but I will still be supporting either Maxey Scherr or Michael Fjetland in the primary.

The non-Wendy Davis Wrangle

I'm confident there will be more conservative poutrage in their full-court press to try and stretch out the not-so-much-a-story for another day.  The rest of us can move on.

-- Dewhurst: Texas teachers are paid "a very fair salary".

"At the end of the day, we're paying our school teachers — when you count in cost of living — a very fair salary," Dewhurst said. "We need to have better results. We need to make sure that we're not just paying more money and we need to look at more choice for parents."

Texas consistently ranks near the bottom nationally in average teacher pay according to many groups that track classroom salaries, including teacher unions. One expert testified in the state's pivotal school finance trial last year that Texas' average teacher pay was about $47,300 in 2009-10 dollars — lower than the national average of nearly $55,000, and less than what 32 other states pay educators.

That trial ended with a state judge determining that the system Texas uses to finance public education is unconstitutional. New testimony is set to resume in Austin on Tuesday.

For a guy who grew up in River Oaks and likely sent his children to private school, this is rich.  It never ceases to amaze me how clueless the 1% can be.  And in a Tea Party stronghold like Texas, this dude is still leading the polling for lite guv.

And guess who's defending the most recent multi-billion dollar cutback of Texas public education in court?  Greg Abbott.  Thank goodness he's such a shitty lawyer.

Update: Charles digs deeper into the public school finance trial.

-- Todd Staples and Dan Patrick have hitched their wagon to the Ill Eagles.

(Patrick) pounded the need for border security by citing "hardened criminals we arrested from 2008 to 2012 -- not illegals who were here for a job, who got four speeding tickets, but hardened criminals -- 141,000 we put in our jails just in four years in Texas."

"They threaten your family. They threaten your life. They threaten your business. They threaten our state," he said, adding that they were charged with 447,000 crimes including 2,000 murders and 5,000 rapes.

(Staples') office in 2010 launched the website, which features first-hand accounts of confrontations with violent drug traffickers in videotaped interviews. When a message board on the state-run website quickly filled with postings calling for vigilante justice and killing immigrants entering the country illegally, Staples removed the posts and condemned the remarks, but that episode remains one of the biggest embarrassments of his tenure.

But Staples persisted. He published the book "Broken Borders, Broken Promises" in 2012 and continues to reject federal crime data that show decreasing levels of violent crime and Democrats who accuse Republicans of wildly exaggerating the danger for the sake of politics.

Staples said his office hasn't put a financial number on the losses that encroaching violence has cost Texas crop owners.

"I haven't tried to quantify the cash losses," Staples said. "What we have done though is shown that the violence is real, that we have a failed immigration system that is aiding the drug cartels and giving them cover to come into our nation."

What did I say about fear being a primary motivator of human behavior?  Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, or independent... are you scared yet?

Update: Charles Kuffner calls Patrick a liar.

-- Speaking of the Libs, they lost a gubernatorial candidate over the weekend.

R. Lee Wrights has ended his campaign for the Libertarian Party nomination for governor of Texas. From the former candidate’s website:

We would like to thank the donors who gave when they honestly didn’t have the spare income to justify investing in Lee and his message of Peace and Prosperity. They will always be our beloved friends and family.


No candidate can persevere unless he has the support of those who wish him/her to run. Unfortunately, I found I had far more broken promises than I had genuine support. Thomas Hill, and Cindi Lewis Maidens before him, are absolutely correct. As nice as they all are I, nor any candidate, can run a campaign on “likes” and “shares” on Facebook. It takes “dollars” and”cents”. Again unfortunately, I had far more of the former than I did the latter.

There are some highly entertaining comments there if you are so inclined. The ones I took note of were those disparaging 2010 nominee and presumptive 2014 front-runner Kathie Glass.

I'll update this post with whatever sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity erupts later today from the mind and mouth of some conservative.  Sure hope they don't keep me busy.

Update: Jerry Patterson, being the least dumb among the four RLGs.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, one of four contenders for the Republican lieutenant governor nomination, Tuesday reiterated his support for creation of an immigrant guest worker program, allowing students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses and policies to promote "smarter building" on the state's barrier islands.

Patterson, a former state senator who has been land commissioner since 2003, dismissed immigration hardliners' calls to "build fences, no amnesty, deport 12 million people."

While Patterson opposes amnesty for undocumented workers and supports border barriers "where tactically called for," Patterson told the Houston Chronicle editorial board "it's stupid" to implement mass deportations. "I don't want to live in a country with that kind of police power, especially at the federal level," he said.


Patterson will face incumbent three-term Lt. David Dewhurst, Texas Sen. Dan Patrick and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in the Republican primary.

"There are three good choices ‑ anyone but Patrick," he said. Asked how he would function as speaker of the House, Patterson replied, "Like (former Democratic) Lt. Bob Bullock without the tantrums."

See?  He's only crazy, not stupid.  (Except for the guns part, of course. That's crazy AND stupid.)