Friday, September 29, 2006

Raging Against The Machine In Rosenberg: Fair Day Parade

Oh I did so enjoy the Fair Day Parade.

Here in Fort Bend County, Texas, we do a County Fair whose character mirrors the diverse make-up of the county. While agriculture is emphasized there is also the carnival area, and some by-God funnel cakes.

And a big long parade.

It was my first time at this function. The parade goes right past the Fort Bend Democrats Combined Campaign Headquarters at 4800 Avenue H (Highway 90A) in Rosenberg.

Getting there is a chore, and veterans knew to go early for preferred parking and no traffic jams. Not a veteran, I set out late, and at 8:30 found myself in a traffic jam on 90A that went a mile. So we all crept forward as I eyed the glowing light on my gas gauge. But I made it, first to the gas station, then to the Lamar Plaza, which has the largest still unfilled parking lot on 90A.

Then hoofed it to the headquarters.

Susan lit into me as I knew she would, saying I show up now that they had everything all set up. The parking lot in front of the headquarters was strewn with chairs and a table. Campaign signs were everywhere.

And it looked like the Fort Bend Democratic Club was going to war.

They clapped as the bands and ROTC groups went by, they waved to the fair queen candidates, cheerleader clubs, and scouting groups.

And their voices filled the air when a Republican office holder drove by.

We all held campaign signs. Several of us held “Had Enough” signs. And as the Republicans cruised by (nearly all of them old white men), signs were waved and we erupted in a continuous chorus of HAD ENOUGH? VOTE DEMOCRATIC! Some of them took it smiling. Ignorance is bliss. I don’t think they know what is coming at them this year. Even the incumbents smiled. Wait, did I say incumbents? Isn’t that against parade rules? I just had to go and find out, and sure enough, there it is in glorious black and white pixels.

· Political Candidates: Not to include incumbents.

Well, I guess they came anyway. Judge Brady Elliot was there waving to the crowd. Nice head of hair on the man.

Every judge, every county commissioner (except Grady) got the same treatment. Then Al Hollan drove by and the love poured out. Among his peers, Albert has an AV rating. It's a lawyer rating for ethics and professionalism. Brady Elliott doesn't have one of those.

I was looking left and right and saw people staring at us. They were Hispanic families for the most part. They probably were wondering what we crazy gringos were doing.

The Fort Bend Democrats float arrived early and they got the love as well. Bryan drove Marsha’s truck with a trailer hitched to the back and our candidates in the trailer. All except for Jim Sharp. He was standing up in the truck bed waving.

All our downballot candidates were there, each holding their own lawn sign. Farhan Shamsi smiling broadly, Neeta dressed to kill, smiling, turning, waving, smiling. Rudy Velasquez, standing tall and steady. I like Judge Rudy. He’s so calm and soft-spoken but clever and cool. We need to elect him for all the good reasons, but also so we aren’t saddled with a “Judge Bud”. Dorothy Bottos' kind face and brilliant smile washed over the paradegoers. And Veronica, stately Veronica, dressed very nicely in a peach-colored outfit. And that’s when I noticed something really uplifting. The families to our left and right were on their feet yelling, smiling and waving along with us. They were shouting “Veronica!” “Rudy!”. We were all one people united in adoration of Democratic Party candidates.

A real strong set of countywide and precinct candidates.

And Nick was there in the trailer, too.

And then who do we see coming down the road? Silly Shelley Kelley Sherrie Sekula Matula Rodriguez Gibbs. Pinkless.

Odd very odd. Picture this: two women holding a Shelley campaign banner, and Shelley not walking a few paces behind the banner for full exposure. Instead, she plastered herself to the back of the banner walking even to the banner holders.

Fort Bend Democrats railed “Had Enough” at her. She wouldn’t look our way. She showed us the back of her carefully coiffed and colored hair. Someone finally yelled “Hey Shelley, we’re over here.” That got her to look over until she realized that she had been duped.

What followed Sherrie . . . er . . . Shelley, was a wagonload of gloating, weight challenged, well-heeled white men . . . and one woman. That’s right, the Republican ticket. We were all shouting now, and then the parade came to a halt. There we were facing each other, we waving our signs, shouting Had Enough? Vote Democratic, they putting on a diffident air that slowly and surely crumbled with each passing moment of realization that they weren’t moving. They became so obviously uncomfortable that it became hard for me to shout and grin at the same time. But they were finally released from our tirade. And I went to get some water.

But we saved the best for Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey. Healey professed ignorance that one of his assistant DA’s was pursuing a case in retaliation for their lawsuits against a local businessman who has given generously to his wife’s campaign. Ignorance? Fat chance. If he was ignorant, then he doesn’t have control of the office he is supposed to command. We really wanted to deliver a message to him. So we lined the street with Had Enough lawn signs, and on command we did an about face, covering our posterior regions with the signs.

I think he got the point. But you know, the man has no class at all.

Geri Guest Blogs: Fort Bend Candidates Forum

Krishna knows you can't be everywhere at once. I committed to a Nick Lampson house party with my amazingly gracious friend and fellow blogger, muse.

And who do I find there as well? Geri and her mom, who I have called "cute-as-a-bug" granny with a megaphone". I was wondering if I had failed to properly douse myself with anti-stink agents, as they, upon seeing me, immediately got up and beat a retreat to the door.

Then they explained to me that since I was there to lend a hand, they could go to the Candidates Forum. Here in Texas we have Candidates Forums (Fora?).

Candidates Forum? Slap to forehead. I had clean forgotten about it. So I was glad that they were going to go and lend support to our candidates, but felt bad because now two of us bloggers were going to be at the Nick Lampson house party, and neither of us at the Forum.

(The house party, by the way, went very well. Nick was charming, informative and the attendees were really nice people that asked really great questions. I learned a lot - but then, I am an empty vessel here, I always learn a lot).

I asked Geri if she would take notes for me so I could post something about the Forum. There is something you need to know about Geri. If you ask her to do something for you, she will not only do that, but also wash your car, take out your trash and walk your dog. She is that kind of person. So from this point on, what you have is Geri's take on the Candidates Forum that took place at the George Library on Thursday night. Geri is my first guest blogger.

I got to the Forum too late to hear Albert Hollan and Rudy Velasquez speak. They both assured us they were good!

Cynthia Dunbar, a Republican and candidate for State Board of Education used a story of her father to make the distinction between a politician and a statesman, promising to be the statesman. She just wanted us to know her political family ties. But she spoke well about the need to improve education in the state and did not say anything that either Dems or Repugs could be offended by.

Farhan Shamsi did very well to explain his background and his interest in being Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3. He focused primarily on his agenda for improving juvenile justice and to reach young people before they cycle in and out of the justice system.

His opponent, Ken Cannata, tried to counter Farhan Shamsi's campaign slogan that you do not need a lawyer to do the work of the people's court. He touted his legal background and his AV rating which he says is for integrity and quality work! He made a point about the juvenile court being only one of three key areas of focus.

Veronica Torres was solid in her presentation of her personal background and her experience in the District Clerk's office. Using some notes, she listed around ten job responsibilities that she was experienced at doing that are required in the District clerk's office. She spoke confidently and directly and made it clear that she had prepared for this job all her life and is prepared educationally and experientially to provide competent and reliable service as District Clerk. Both Veronica and her opponent praised the work of Glory Hopkins.

Her opponent, Rebecca Elliott, spoke for an interminable amount of time about her many children and how wonderful they all are only to conclude that diatribe with the comment, "But I am a Mother so I would say that!" She then went on to say that she has been in public service and done this and that in the community and finally got around to saying she has some relevant experience and of course dropped the name of her husband Mike Elliott to be sure we all knew she was sufficiently connected to the good ole boys network.John Zerwas, Republican for Texas House of Rep. District 28 (Parts of Harris, Waller, Wharton Counties) described his background as an anesthesiologist at Memorial Herman and now a chief of staff where he "herds cats", He focused more on his platform than on his experience saying he is opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor (but sees transportation issues as important); education funding , immigration reform- need to secure the border; healthcare- 43% of legislative budget is for healthcare issues.

Ken Bryant, Republican for State House of Rep. District 27 (covers Richmond, Rosenberg, MC, Stafford, Needville) currently on the FBISD Board says there is a CLEAR CHOICE against the 10 year incumbent, Dora Olivo, who he did not want to be critical of but then went on to say she did her best but was ineffective and failed the business interests of Fort Bend County. He stressed his conservative platform: how schools should not be funded by property and business taxes; keep taxes low...yada yada yada. (God I love it when Geri yadas).

Dora Olivo, his opponent, says she is now an attorney with a businessman as a husband but grew up as a cotton picker so she knows how important it is that the "little people" have a voice and "I am their voice! " Then she gave a litany of endorsements from labor, environment, realtors, Hospital Association, teachers. As for healthcare and housing..."we can do better". She was the first candidate that the timer had to kick off the stage.

Bob Smither, Libertarian for US Congress, District 22. college educator, business owner, father , husband....He's worried about the path our country is on and wants to return it to the people. Cited the Bill of Rights and Constitution and says we need to secure those rights against government encroachment. (No mistake that he is a Libertarian! ) He went on to say that all problems need to be solved through voluntary action and pointed to Katrina as a case in point: The government blocked thousands of volunteer efforts. And the result? We are further taxed! He then went on to criticize Lampson's voting record in Congress that spent $4600 for every man, woman , and child, amounting to $1800 for the average family.

Joe Reasbeck, Republican write-in candidate invoked fear so much I looked away and thought it was Bush talking! His priorities are national security and economic security. With a $14M economy , 2/3 driven by the American consumer, we have to be concerned about our economy. "To remain a military and economic superpower we must defeat Islamic Fundamentalism!" So we must keep in place our founding blocks of education and economic systems because China and India are going to to overtake our place in the world.FEAR, FEAR, FEAR!

"Silly" Shelley Sekula Gibbs (no hyphen mind you!), Republican preferred write-in candidate; physician, wife, mother. In Clearlake over 20 years and if we consider medical school in Galveston, she lived in the area 30 years (is she implying someone else is not from here?). "IT's important to have a strong conservative voice in Congress." I represent conservative values like winning the war on terror. We have to make sure we don't cut and run. Secure our borders and stop illegal immigration....and stop sanctuary city policy...(whoa, she just got run out of the City Council meeting for that and she said it again!). Make sure we cut taxes and make tax laws fair and simple. We must reduce frivolous lawsuits and make healthcare accessible for all Texans. We must assure the right to work across state and nation, meaning we have to keep jobs in America. My Dad worked for Shell Oil and so he taught me that (and she thinks she was named Shelley because he was a "company man").

WE must protect life, meaning life must be valued in the womb or for the elderly. If we do support stem cell research it should be with adult stem cells, chord blood but not embryonic cells. "We should not take life to save life." We can cure diabetes and Parkinson's with research on bone marrow, chord and adult stem cells. I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. "These are the values that the people of district 22 have." (Cough Cough. Whoa I'm a voter in District 22 I don't believe any of this!). You will need to vote for me twice. Because of some "judicial manipulations" you will need to vote once in the general election and once in the special election.Neeta Sane, for County Treasurer. Neeta, unlike all other candidates who stiffly stood at the mike on the stand, took the mike out of the stand and looked the audience in the eyes and spoke about her family, her business education and experience and made the point clearly that the current incumbent has not safeguarded our tax dollars and that she will bring integrity and safeguards against such fraud back to the Treasurer's office. She spoke of her community involvement to emphasize her leadership roles and experience.

Neeta's opponent, Jeff Council, for Treasurer drew even more retorts from the Democratic side of the house than did Silly Shelley! He apologized for being late because he was meeting as Director of the Fort Bend County Fair. he made sure we knew he served in the military (all who had any extended family mentioned their service- a son, a father,'s the way to get respect these days I guess...even from your opponents)...oh yes it was the 14th artillery for 2 years! Been in these parts since 1962 when he went into the insurance business, grew that one to be profitable with "sound conservative business practices" and in 1984 went into his own insurance business and grew it with "sound conservative business practices" and then sold it in 2001 to New First Insurers and grew it with ...well you get the idea. But now, he is president and doesn't work in it all day so, in January 2007 when I am County Treasurer "I can be a full time Treasurer." I will be there managing "THOSE LADIES" (audible groan from every conscious woman in the room!) and making sure the taxpayers get the most for their money. I will be able to get cooperation from other agencies, officers etc. "I know Fort Bend County and Fort Bend County Knows Me?" (Boy do we ever!) I am the best choice for Treasurer because I will use the same "sound conservative business practices."David Matoaka filmed the event. All candidates thanked the organizers: the Women's Auxiliary of the VFW and reminded voters to early vote on October 23 rd and on election day November 7th.There were about 50 people in the room, most of them candidates, their supporters, staff and activists.

The meeting ended with a formality of the organizers, sounded like a prayer or verse of some kind that many knew and recited. People did not have heads bowed but it sounded like a Biblical verse.And here I am back again:Holy smokes, Geri. Am I ever glad that you attended that Forum and not I. First, you are on it like a duck on a June Bug. Second, I hate all of these things that are attended by candidates, their staff, the unpersuadables, and no one else. If it wasn't for you, Geri, the word would have stopped at the door in the George Library. I salute you, and we all thank you.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How Much Lower Will They Descend?

A friend of mine discovered that the outside of his office was vandalized last night. The vandals tore up political signs for Texas Democratic candidates, and overturned an arrangement of potted plants in front.

The arrangement was a memorial that was created in the honor and memory of my friend’s son, who died of cancer 6 years ago.

What a horrible and incredibly insensitive thing to do.

Who would do such a thing?

The vandalism and desecration was politically motivated, that is obvious. My friend is a local Democratic activist, who is serving, and has served in the past, in Democratic Party leadership positions. His wife is my friend also. She has written articles for the local press. I asked her how she was doing, and she said “It’s tough”.

Of that I am sure. It’s enough to lose your child. No one should have to bury their child. But then to have a symbol and celebration of his life desecrated by political thugs? I don’t think I could take it.

We have all seen lots of ugly things done by and for the opposition. But now our society’s very standards of decency have certainly been cast off by the opposition.

How much lower will they descend?

And who is next?

Don, Susan, you are both in my thoughts tonight as are Mark and Bryan.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Your Cheatin' Heart" or Why Does The TEA Waste $$$ On Test "Data Forensics"?

FortBendNow has an article on its site right now about how the Texas Education Agency is going to investigate “testing irregularities” on its 2005 TAKS test. Go read about it, and my rant in the comments section (#6).

Do you remember the movie “Stand and Deliver”? It starred Edward James Olmos who played true life teacher Jaime Escalante, a computer programmer who decided that he wanted to teach high school at Garfield High School, an Hispanic-dominated school in Whittier, California.

They didn’t have computers at the school, though, so he became a math teacher.

Well, as the story developed, Escalante began to have the idea that if he could really and truly challenge some of his gifted Hispanic students, they would blossom and break out of the barrio experience. So he taught them an AP class in Calculus. All of his students passed. This caused concern at the College Board, who analyzed the answers that the students had given, and decided that there was a pattern, testing irregularities that suggested that they all cheated.

The students had to retake the test in order to prove they weren’t cheaters.

And they all passed again.

Well now this kind of thing has come home to roost in schools all over Texas.

In its quest to maintain test security the TEA has been contracting a Utah-based company, Caveon Test Security, to conduct investigative audits of TAKS test security.

Among other things, one thing that Caveon does is conduct “Data Forensics” that detect “aberrant patterns” among test takers. They define aberrance, in this case as “a pattern of item responses that deviate from the statistical models describing normal test taking patterns”. In other words, those who cheat on tests have different test taking patterns than the norm. And you know, this is exactly what Jaime Escalante’s students were accused of. Go here and read all about it. It reads like the Bush Administration justifying the Iraq War. Smoke and mirrors. Someone who does well on a test, gets the questions right, works quickly, is an abnormal student. Students who do well on the TAKS test, you see, are very probably cheaters. That’s their logic, and that was the logic of the College Board in the Escalante case. Students answer a difficult question correctly, and an easy question incorrectly – that’s an aberration. That’s not the norm. Maybe not in Caveon’s world, but I doubt that they have been in the classroom recently if at all.

Sometimes, just sometimes, teachers spend more time teaching difficult concepts, and in the interest of limited time, gloss over the easy ones. It’s common. Their norm isn’t.

Now how can I give this a political spin?

Chris Bell is in favor of doing away with all of these “high stakes” tests. On high stakes TAKS testing Bell has said:
“I think we are wasting a tremendous amount of time. And I really think we have to begin to wonder if we’re even teaching kids to think anymore, or just simply teaching them to regurgitate information that has been crammed into their heads. It’s a very serious issue here in the State of Texas, and it’s going to need a governor who will address it in a very serious fashion.”
Let’s elect Chris Bell governor. Let’s get rid of TAKS and start rating our schools in the only sane way: by what kind of teaching is going on – the quality of the content and content presentation. Rating the quality of a teacher or the quality of a school by how well their students do on a standardized test, is just like rating the quality of a dentist by how many cavities his or her patients have.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Shelley Sekula “No Hyphen” Gibbs Has a Name Recognition Problem.

Here is a true story circulating around the Lampson campaign.

Veronica an 18 year old student volunteers to do phone banking at the Bay Area New Democrats headquarters in Clear Lake. The deal is, she either volunteers to work 25 hours on a campaign or she writes a term paper. So Veronica phone banks.

So she was working a call list yesterday, and phoned one of the numbers assigned to her. The following is a reconstruction, an approximation of the phone conversation.


“Hello, my name is Veronica and I am a volunteer on the Nick Lampson campaign. Do you have a couple of minutes to hear about Nick’s positive message?”

“Why certainly, dear.”

“Well, Nick Lampson is running for congressman in our district. He founded the first-ever Congressional Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which worked to create the national Amber Alert program. When he was in congress, Nick served as the ranking member on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and fought hard for the resources NASA needs . . .”

“. . . .So can we count on your vote in November?”

“Well, I just want to let you know that I am glad to have used up your time and that I am a Republican. I am going to vote for Kelley.”



”Hey,” she called out to anyone in the room, ”Who’s Kelley?”

I just hope that this woman remembers how to spell Nick’s opponent’s (or one of them) name so she can get it right and show “voter intent”.

That’s Kelley with a “K”.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Kinky Friedman is a Mouth-Breathing, Knuckle-Dragging Dixiecrat

Holy Half-Nelson!

It just came to me. A bolt out of the blue.

Kinky Friedman is a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Dixiecrat.

How do you get all of those qualities all rolled up into this black Stetsoned, cigar (and grass) smoking (Willie doesn’t lie), boot-wearing, Guinness-drinking-in-a-moving-vehicle, minority-disparaging candidate for Texas governor?

Until recently, I thought that Zell Miller was the last specimen of Dixiecrat on the face of the earth. I have since met, through my work in Fort Bend County, several of their, previously believed extinct ilk. I thought that they had all evolved in the past twenty years. Their original protective coloration was blue, but they can now blend in well to red surroundings.

Almost all.

Kinky Friedman is a Dixiecrat.

Dixiecrats are an enigma to me. They profess all of the Democratic Party values that I embrace. They hate the war in Iraq. They think that the Republican-dominated Congress has built up a debt that will be difficult to pay down without some sacrifice. And, in addition to that, they don’t especially “cotton up” to non-white people.

How can a person hold humanistic Democratic values, and also be a racist? Be a Dixiecrat. Dixiecrats cannot separate observation from inference. It came to me when I read, as mentioned in my previous posting, that Kinky Friedman offered that he is “not a racist, but a realist”.

Bells rang.

Dixiecrats are un-self-acknowledged racists. They don’t know that they are racists because they see their conclusions as fact. Kinky said that Katrina victims who have not returned to New Orleans are “crack heads and thugs”. I know several Katrina victims. They are not crack heads. They do not knock over old ladies for their social security checks. They are unanimously pissed off at Kinky’s suggestion that this is so. This is true about Dixiecrats: they cannot differentiate between an objective observation and an inference. Their conclusions become their reality. They are realists, but sadly, only in their own minds.

So when Kinky does the n-word. When he refers to Katrina victims as criminals. When he fails to apologize for any of that, calling himself, instead, a “realist”. The explanation is this: Kinky is only being Kinky. And Kinky Friedman is a Dixiecrat.

And Kinkster fanatics want to post a comment? Forget it. This blog is moderated. Save your keystrokes. Go read Fox News instead.

Kinky Gets a Bodyguard

It could be that the Kinkster is feeling apprehensive about his negative press. People are crawling out of the woodwork with all sorts of past and present racist remarks that he is making or has made sometime in his life. They're a little mad and are demanding apologies. These days he’s got this big huge guy traveling with him.

Or is it Jesse Ventura?

Yep, that’s Jesse Ventura. Ventura is a former pro wrestler who made a run for the governorship of Minnesota as an independent candidate, and won. I mentioned Ventura in a posting about Kinky this summer. Kinky and Jesse have a shared experience in that both are nationally-known personalities who are eminently unqualified to act as the chief executive of a state government.

In defending his remarks, Kinky inserted another boot in his mouth in his assertion that “I am not a racist, I am a realist.” Well, now, just what does that mean? That racists are irrational people who rage against a race because they are ignorant of their good qualities, but that his remarks are based on a foundation of sound facts? So Kinky’s remark that Katrina victims are all a bunch of “crackheads and thugs” is based on sound and impartial observations and facts?

I have a problem with that. I know Katrina victims, and relatives of Katrina victims. I know for a fact that they don’t do crack and beat up old ladies for their social security checks. I know that they are good people. I also know that they have taken great umbrage to his remark.

Kinky is not at his best when he is serious. Actually, he is a disaster. He needs to stick to the jokes. People don’t take him seriously when he tells jokes, so they don’t know what to think when he is being serious. The common question asked: is this a joke or is he being serious?

Like this one:

Kinky bemoans the fact that Texas is not a state that allows voters to register to vote on Election Day. No, he’s being serious, now. That’s what many people credit Jesse Ventura’s win in 1998 – the fact that Minnesota law allows voters to register to vote on the same day as election day. Said Ventura :
“Every state should have same-day registration. Why should it be hard to vote? Why do Democrats and Republicans want to make it difficult to vote?”
It is this bloc of voters that are Friedman’s target audience. People who don’t regularly vote. Oh boy, that is the kind of people I want to elect my next governor.

Well, in answer to Ventura’s question, Democrats are in favor of as few restrictions on voting as possible. It is the antics of Republicans that clearly show who is in favor of disenfranchisement, especially disenfranchisement of those least likely to vote Republican - the elderly and the poor. And Democrats haven’t had a whole lot of say in how Texas runs its elections lately. But then, Jesse is from Minnesota and maybe he wasn’t straight in his facts.

Or maybe he took a few too many blows to the head in his former career.

By the way, Kinky freaks, don’t bother submitting comments to this posting. This is a clean site (well, relatively clean – at least the language is mild) and I’ve already let you have your rants in the previous posting.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Losing the Iraq War - A Carefully Wrought Plan

The Republican Party has a nickname, Grand Old Party, or GOP for short. That was a nice catchy nickname in a bygone era, but not too meaningful today. I humbly suggest a new nickname with the same acronym.

Get On Payroll

That's what Republicans are all about, you see. When you are in power, your people get on the payroll.

The Washington Post ran a story on just this kind of thing last Sunday. I missed it. I was grading tests. But now that I've read it, and you should, too, I'm madder than a one-legged pole vaulter.

Case in point. Who do we send to rebuild Iraq? Our best and brightest? No way. After the dust settled in Iraq, the White House maintained an office in the Pentagon whose sole task was to interview potential hirelings of the 1500-strong Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA. The screening process was to make sure these people were politically correct. They were asked questions about whether they voted for Dubya in 2000, whether they approved the way the government was handling things in Iraq, and whether they thought that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Correct answerers got the job, incorrect answerers were shown the door.

No, instead of sending our best and brightest, they sent our least and loyal.

They sent a 24-year old financial naïf to reconstruct the destroyed Baghdad Stock Exchange.

They sent the accountant daughter of a neo-con supporter to manage the $13 billion Iraq budget.

To oversee Iraq's public health system they replaced a physician with a master's degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the University of California at Berkeley with a social worker who ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.

Of this, Frederick Smith, who served as the deputy director of the CPA's Washington office observed:
"We didn't tap -- and it should have started from the White House on down -- just didn't tap the right people to do this job. "It was a tough, tough job. Instead we got people who went out there because of their political leanings."
Is it any wonder that after three years, Iraq is still in a shambles? Is it any wonder that, in Iraq, militias spring up daily? Were I an Iraqi citizen during these times, I would be taking a hard look at the people being sent over to rebuild my country, their programs and motives, and maybe start thinking about some alternatives.

Harry Truman rebuilt Europe with The Marshall Plan. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld rebuilt Iraq with The Sycophant Plan.

It Wasn't Just a Good Day, It Was a Very Good Day.

Oh Krishna did I have a great time today.

First, I was led by a Google search to the Sugar Land, Texas, house of the muse. The muse lives in the heart of DeLay Country, just to the right of Goebbels Gulch. The muse maintains a very stately residence, as well-appointed as one would expect muse taste.

I even detected an appreciation for early music. How A-music that muse would have on display in the muse abode a stack of 78's. I love the old records. My house is host to stacks and stacks of them. My favorite? "K-k-k-Katie".

That's what I like about Democratic values, by the way. An appreciation for the old, and an acceptance of the new. How unlike our opponents who cannot embrace new ideas of any kind and even retain those of old defeated enemies.

Who were there? Seventeen devotees of Democratic values. Nick was there and walked local blocks with a new intern. Monica asked me whether I wanted to "walk with the congressman" and my response was too automatic. When I walk blocks I walk alone because I want to spread the manpower out so I declined. Immediately after I told Monica that "I walk alone" I kicked myself. What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks had I done? Hell yes I wanted to walk with Nick. To personally see The Man in action would have been the cap to my day, month and year. So why did I do that?


I stood there and stared at the floor mentally kicking myself. Then saw Monica and Erica giving each other "thumbs up" signs, and I realized that I had given the right response. The honor was offered to Nick's new intern who was amazed, proud to be asked. Good for him. What stories he must have.

Monica unknowingly consigned me to walk "Red Land". Fifty-two of the most right-leaning homes in CD-22. No fun at all until I found the secret caches of Democratic families in and among them, holding on. They were fun to find. On the other hand, sometimes it was fun to find the disaffected. One gentleman, a self-admitted straight-ticket Republican, told me that he was mad as heck about Tom's antics, and was eagerly awaiting a verdict in the case brought by Ronnie Earle. I was circumspect - neglecting to mention the Abramoff issues that were dropped when Tom bolted. Heck, why push it? After all. What we need are votes to win, not points to make. He was mad already, why make him defensive?

I got back 2nd to muse. Yes, I move quickly and alone, and saw the muse send Nick and company off. We talked in the muse dinette, welcoming back other returning block walkers, listening to their positive stories. Here is what I loved to hear. Veronica Torres, candidate for Fort Bend County District Clerk walked for Nick, and spread his positive message. And she also (as did I) talked about her local race. Veronica mentioned several precinct residences that she visited, whose occupants said that they were "straight voting Republicans" and would vote as such in November, but just because she made the effort to visit them personally, they would vote for Veronica. And they made the right choice, by the way. Annie Elliott: eat bovine fecal matter. Your opponent is going to clean your clock in November and it doesn't matter how many of her campaign signs your trolls steal and deface.

And you would think that would be the end of it but it wasn't.

Then I went to Oyster Creek Park to have lunch.

Who do I see at the main food booth? Two of my favorite students feeding the people. We traded pleasantries. I think my students were a little more than impressed that their teacher was out pounding the bricks for Democratic candidates (I was in a characteristically post-block walking slovenly appearance). I managed to purchase a well-done hot dog, chips and soda from them, sat with Lampson campaign people in their booth to eat (Nick had come and gone), then got up to find my Fort Bend Democrats. They had a booth in a favored place that took advantage of the breeze.

Signs were sold. Contacts made. We had a good visit. They fed me a turkey sandwich and replenished my absent di-hydrogen mon-oxide molecules.

Albert Hollan stopped by to thank me for the appendix on my 4 September posting (Labor Day). He said that he forwarded it to others and they all had a really good time with it. That's what is is all about friends and neighbors, sharing the love and maybe a few jokes along the way. Happy to do both, Albert.

Later on, I ran about helping people take down their booths, including that of my Ann, the best person I know, whose face was too red not to help her. We got all of it done and went our separate ways.

It wasn't just a good day, it was a very good day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Democratic Party Rally in Sugar Land September 23rd

Well there’s another event to go to here in post-DeLay Fort Bend County, Texas. The Fort Bend County Democratic Party is hosting a major party and rally this Saturday, September 23rd, in Oyster Creek Park. Here is the flyer that is being distributed with all the pertinent information:

I want to be there for part of the day, but I promised a good friend that I would help out with a gang block walk in a Sugar Land precinct. It will be my first block walk in the First Colony part of Sugar Land. I did one in New Territory, but the only thing New Territory shares with parts of Sugar Land is an odd concentration of right wing nuts. I also walked in an older northern Sugar Land precinct, and had lots of good contacts there.

This will be a nearly all day event, but I am counting on things picking up toward the end of the day – mainly because I plan on being busy in the early part of the day. My folks at the Fort Bend Democratic Club will be there selling the much-acclaimed and nationally recognized “Had Enough” lawn signs, so if you don’t have one yet, you know where to go. And if you can’t make it, they are still selling like hotcakes at Juanita’s Adopt-a-Sign campaign where you can have Juanita Jean herself write your message to Fort Bend County voters and it will be planted in DeLay Land.

I also want to make another appeal to anyone who reads this blog. Richard Morrison, who ran against Tom DeLay in 2004, has had a television ad made. I ran a You Tube of it awhile ago, but that was before the Fort Bend Democrats started trying to get some cash together to get it on the air this Fall. Play it. If you are like me and can see how this ad could give a final nudge to a fence sitter or independent voter, make a contribution to the Fort Bend Democrats’ fund.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Congress Passes Poll Tax

As we get closer and closer to Election Day, thoughts turn to getting the willing and not-so-willing voters to the polls. And then, what does the Republican-dominated House do?

They passed a poll tax.

Well, that’s what I call it.

In 2008, in order to register to vote, you must show proof of citizenship.

What is proof of citizenship?

1) A birth certificate
2) A certificate of naturalization
3) A US passport
4) Any document that requires any of the above before you can get it.

Here in Texas, all you have to do is have a valid driver’s license or an ID card issued by the DPS, and you get to fill out a voter registration form. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for people to vote so there is nothing standing in their way on Election Day.

It’s hard enough getting people to vote. Why put up a barrier?

Is it because Democrats are less likely to have proof of citizenship than Republicans? Poor people have trouble enough getting the light bill paid. Getting up the $35 scratch it takes to get a copy of their birth certificate is just about the last thing on their list of things to spend their money on. Elderly people on fixed incomes are in a similar bind. And what about people who would vote, could vote, but don’t want to show their personal and private documents for some reason? And what is the chance that all of these are what they are, and also Democrats?

Yes, in the guise of taking a tougher stance on immigrants and creating “safe ballots” (whatever that is), your government has passed a bill designed to disenfranchise the poor, the elderly, and people with poor record-keeping skills.

This creates an unreasonable financial hardship on people as a precondition to exercise their franchise. Here is the text of the US Code that addresses Poll Taxes.


§ 1973h. Poll taxes

(a) Congressional finding and declaration of policy against enforced payment of poll taxes as a device to impair voting rights
The Congress finds that the requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting

(i) precludes persons of limited means from voting or imposes unreasonable financial hardship upon such persons as a precondition to their exercise of the

(ii) does not bear a reasonable relationship to any legitimate State interest in the conduct of elections, and

(iii) in some areas has the purpose or effect of denying persons the right to vote because of race or color. Upon the basis of these findings, Congress declares that the constitutional right of citizens to vote is denied or abridged in some areas by the requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting.

The only way they are going to make this fly is to ban any government fee to produce documentation of citizenship. It all has to be free, otherwise it is a poll tax.

Depend on Republicans to act more and more poorly as we get closer and closer to the day when we all get to show them the door.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

White House Sends Dick to Sekula-Gibbs

Well it’s out all over that “Deadeye” Dick Cheney is coming to Houston in early October, and that he will use one of his days out here stumping and fundraising for Texas CD-22 special election candidate and general election write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.

So help is coming in the form of one of the most detestable, deceptive demagogues that the Republican Party and the Bush government can send. But no $3 million.

Heck, you might say that Shelley Sekula-Gibbs got Dick from the White House in terms of campaign support.

The Fort Bend Herald reports that “Deadeye” Dick has done this once before in CD-22 when he raised a cool half a million for Tom DeLay in December 2005. And I guess Tom is putting that money to good use in his legal defense.

So could he do that for Shelley? Heck, why not, all that has changed is the candidate, name recognition, and the fact that the candidate isn’t on the ballot in one election, and on the ballot, but not as a Republican on the other. And that’s it, right? Well, then there’s Dick’s 19% approval rating (read that as 81% disapproval rating).

But everyone likes Dick, don’t they?

Quoted in The Fort Bend Herald, Greg Gillen, chairman of the Fort Bend County Republican Party said of Dick’s visit:
"What it says is, this race for the 22nd District is important.I think this is indicative that the White House is aware of this race, the White House is concerned about this race and the White House believes it can be won. Otherwise, they wouldn't be going through these efforts for Shelley."
Well that has to be true. The race is important and it can be won. This is so obvious. So obvious that instead of sending $3 million in cold hard cash, they send Dick. She wanted the $3 million, but she got Dick instead.

What is the Lampson campaign going to do about this? They could really paint Iraq all over Shelley, the one who hasn’t really stated any opinion at all about the Iraq War. Having Dick “It Was Right Thing To Do” Cheney in her camp will give everyone a clear idea what she thinks of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld’s war. So what are they going to do? Well, I’ll tell you one thing they won’t do is Dick. They won’t. Lampson campaign manager, Mike Malaise says this:
"We're not focused on that kind of thing."We're focused on getting our message out to the voters"
“That kind of thing”, I guess, is waving the Cheney Flag over Shelley.

Contrast this to yet another congressional race in Washington state. The Los Angeles Times is running a story that Darcy Burner, Democratic candidate for Washington’s 8th congressional district, is having a field day over Karl Rove’s appearance, last Friday, in suburban Seattle where he headlined a fundraiser for freshman Republican Rep. Dave Reichert.

Reichert got Rove. Shelley got Dick.

Laying low on this, Reichert did nothing to publicize Rove’s visit. But Burner was on it like white on rice. Reichert is a moderate Republican, so Burner went on the attack to expose to voters the differences between her and her opponent vis-à-vis the Iraq War.

When you look at the two races, you can see why the Lampson campaign is soft peddling this visit. The Washington CD-8 race is a toss-up to slightly Republican-favored. Nick is running against a Libertarian and 3 write-in candidates. If I were Nick I would be getting out the positive message, too. Let them fire the first negative campaign shot (and you know it’s coming).
And you know, you also have to wonder why Dick is coming to town. I mean REALLY coming to town. Houston is the capitol of the oil patch, and Dick has his ties in all of that. I suspect he’ll also get to shoot a round of golf, maybe go out in the field and blast a few doves out of existence.

Uh oh . . .

It’s early yet, people. Avoid Dick Whittington's fate (and face). Go out and buy one of those neon orange vests. Get one before October 3rd. And for the truly alarmed, go find some Kevlar.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Raising the Bar: Texas SBOE Increases High School Graduation Requirements

I wanted to post something about this on Friday, but was waylayed by the promises of a budding photographer.

On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to two high school graduation plans that increase the level students will need to rise to in order to graduate. Final approval is expected in November.

Note well, the lower level Minimum Graduation program was not changed. But bowing to requirements set forth in HB 1 signed into law last May, the SBOE had to increase the number of credits needed for graduation to 26 for students in the Recommended High School Graduation Program and the Distinguished Achievement Program. In addition students in both programs will be required to earn four credits each in math and science.

Who will be affected? Freshmen entering High School in 2007.

Four units of English and social studies are already required of students presently enrolled in either program, but as of now, the Recommended and Distinguished Plans require only 3 core sciences. The new plan ups the ante to four. The plan calls for students to earn four credits in math, which must include Algebra I and II, geometry and a fourth course for which Algebra II is a prerequisite if they are pursuing the Distinguished Achievement Program. That fourth course could include pre-calculus, Advanced Placement (AP) calculus, (AP) statistics. Of course IB, AP and College Now classes all qualify as a 4th course.

Under the Recommended plan, Algebra II is not a prerequisite for the fourth math class.

In science, the students would be required to earn credits in biology, chemistry and physics, plus an additional lab-based course. The course referred to as “Integrated Physics and Chemistry” (aka Physical Science) will be offered and credit for the course can be used to fulfill one of the science credits through the 2011-2012 school year but that year it could not be taken as a senior-level course. After 2012, the IPC course would only remain a course option for students in the Minimum Graduation Plan.

And this is where it gets interesting: The SBOE is lowering the bar on what constitutes a fourth year lab science. In addition to AP and IB lab sciences, these courses would also qualify: Aquatic Science, Astronomy, and Anatomy and Physiology. Gone? Geology, Meterology and Oceanography. New? Earth and Space Science and Engineering.

Someone has been working to get Geology into the official state curriculum for years and years. Looks like they won. My school used to offer Geology, or as they used to call it “Rocks for Jocks”.

At present, none of the existing non-core sciences are listed as lab science. And this too: just because the Texas SBOE says it’s a lab science, doesn’t mean the Universities will accept them as such.

To get this done without doing too much damage to Fine Arts and electives, The SBOE upped the minimum number of units to graduate under the more rigorous plans from 24 to 26.

And it looks like all of the school districts in Texas have 4 years to turn nearly all of their IPC teachers into Biology, Chemistry or Physics teachers. Biggest impact? Physics, by far, Physics.

Students avoid physics like the plague. Two-thirds of the students at my place of work find another way. In 2012 they have to take it to graduate. My guess is that school districts will be unwilling not to let two-thirds of their kids graduate because they can’t pass physics. What will they do instead? Water down the content. Make it simple.

Make it so simple that it is wrong.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Scarey People These Fort Bend Democrats

We have this paper in the Richmond-Rosenberg area, in Fort Bend County, Texas, called the Herald Coaster. Today they ran an article that you can read online about Thursday’s Fort Bend Republican Party executive confab.

Local Republican candidates attended the meeting and apparently brought their crying rags. Their unified cry of despair?
“The Democratic Party in Fort Bend County this year is well-funded and has been highly active”.
Here are each of their sob stories.

Annie Elliott, the Elliott running for District Clerk, not the one running for District Judge, apparently feels the heat in her race as she said this to the executive committee:
"The Democrats are working hard - extremely hard - and it's scary. So I come to you asking you to please continue to work with us".
Annie is scared of our hard work? That makes me glad.

Bud Childers, the one running for Judge of County Court at Law #1, “urged his party to offer financial support for its candidates”. I’m not sure Childers himself needs the money, but heck, maybe the guy is hurting.

Jeff Council, the one running for County Treasurer, says that the Republican Party needs to get the Republican vote out, "because we are seeing the Democrats are working hard." Yeah, Council is one of those fat cats, money doesn’t seem to be an issue. Maybe hard work is an issue with Council.

Ken Cannata (aka Stealth Republican), the one running for Justice of the Peace in Precinct 3, has a problem with Republican image. He told the executive committee that
"Over the last three to four months, the Republicans have not done well and the Democrats are having a field day".
That takes guts, by the way. It takes guts to rag on the very people who have cast their party into disarray, that their party is in disarray.

Ken Bryant said . . . ah heck what do we care what Ken Bryant said. Who the heck is Ken Bryant anyway?

John Zerwas, the city boy anesthesiologist running for state house in a very rural district, apparently doesn’t have a problem with his opponent, but does have a problem with the party under whose banner he is running for office. Zerwas said that “his biggest concern with the race is his own party”. I guess John is feeling the pinch of being on the side of shameful greed and corruption. I wonder whether John is running as a Republican because John Kerry’s campaign didn’t thank him enough for his contribution in ’04.

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, was not at the meeting but Charlie Howard, who is running unopposed in his district, mentioned that even Richard Perry has expressed concerns about the state of the Republican Party in Fort Bend County.

So State and local Republicans are running scared. Scared of the nasty Democrats who are highly active and well-funded.

Well, as one of those active Democrats, I can say this: yes, be afraid, be very afraid. We are working with righteous wrath and we will crush you. We will bury you in your own lies, deceits and corruption. We won’t have to dig the hole, that you have already done for us, thank you very much. All we have to do is spade it back in.

But where in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks did the Republican candidates get the impression that we were running a well-funded campaign? We just do the hard work. We block walk, phone bank, and fund raise. I myself just got off the phone talking to a couple of hundred people from Vermont to California today about our highly visible race. Guess what? They all knew about it. We don’t call the PACs and the fat cats, just average Joe Voter. It’s hard work but I think it will pay off in the end.

By the way, if anyone reading this wants to get in on the action you have a couple of places you can go. Click on the Help Turn Fort Bend Blue graphic and help us get a television ad aired on in the greater Houston media market. Or click on Juanita's “Had Enough” sign and adopt one of these beauties from Juanita Jean.

DCCC Has a New Web Ad Out

The DCCC has a new web ad out featuring Dick Cheney's recent interview on "Meet the Press". I saw the interview, and was in utter disbelief. Tim Russert couldn't contain himself. I've never seen him so outraged. Here we have on one hand former Texas Governor and now President Bush admitting that there was no reason to go to war in Iraq, and on the other hand we see his Vice President, Dick Cheney, calmly and matter-of-factly stating that "It was the right thing to do".

Georgie, who's running the show down there? Your boy is out there contradicting you left and right.

Oh, I get it . . . good cop, bad cop.

Click on the window below and see how the DCCC has spun Dick's words around him.

Go to for the latest butcher's bill on Dick Cheney's war.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lovefest for Fort Bend County Treasurer To-Be: Neeta Sane

Neeta Sane, the local Democratic Party’s secret weapon here in Fort Bend County, Texas, had a fundraiser party thrown for her last night in Stafford. Bryan, master photographer was there shooting mass quantities of photons at everyone there.

Also there, my friends Don, Tony, Marsha, Vince, Ann and Lorrie.

muse didn’t show. I don’t know, something about parental responsibilities.

And guess what wasn’t there? Barbecue.

Really, honest to Krishna. It was as if I passed out of the humid Texas air and into a Marin County, California clubhouse: those sandwiches that don’t have bread crusts, fruit, cheese, wine.

Who else stopped in? Local candidates Veronica Torres, Farhan Shamsi and Judge Joel Clouser.

Clouser, along with County Commissioner Grady Prestage, were attendees who also hold office in Fort Bend County.

Nick Lampson, Democratic candidate for US Congress in Congressional District 22, and Neeta Sane fan, was there showing his admiration and support.

Hosted by Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella, Councilman Ken Matthew, and Don Bankston, current member on the SDEC, Neeta’s party was a virtual love fest starring Neeta. Everyone who spoke some had nothing bad to say about Neeta except for maybe Mayor Scarcella. Mayor Scarcella apparently knows first hand what it’s going to be like when Neeta wins her race for county treasurer, and deals with the league of good old boys that currently make up the Commissioners Court. He mentioned what happens, when you run afoul of Neeta, but disappointingly avoided the fine details.

Nick Lampson, as it turns out, is inspired by Neeta and her natural exuberance and enthusiasm that permeates every molecule of her existence. He compared her natural fervor and passion to his own and admitted he paled in contrast. He also held a note card reading off her various talents and skills, which are huge: she owns her own software development company, developing and marketing software that deals with security and financial systems. Nick said that she is highly qualified for the office she is seeking.

I’d say so. Contrast that to Jeff Council. He sells insurance, and is a crony of 3 out of 4 county commissioners and their leader, Judge Hebert. Council’s only claim to fame as far as Fort Bend County goes, is that he sits as Vice President of the Fort Bend County Flood Control Water Supply Corp, the organization that recently completed the Big Creek flood control project – one that has been ongoing for the past 18 years, at the cost of some $12 million. This project, they say, will allow development of thousands of acres of agricultural land in the Pleak-Needville area, as it will serve to drain the area more efficiently. Cha-Ching for some who own land in that area, I’d say.

Council demonstrates his ability to serve as the official County Commissioner Lapdog well I think. Neeta, despite her size, has tenacity and integrity, and will be the best thing that has happened to Fort Bend County in many years.

Watch out Commissioners Court. Democratic Watchdog Neeta is comin’ to git ya.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Long Uphill Battle. . . At 10 Points Ahead?

You've got to love it when you catch Republicans saying dumb things in public. Tina Benkiser is a one-woman disaster machine. Her fantastic blunder in trying to get Tom DeLay declared ineligible is inexplicable to those of us who don't really know her very well (or at all). She still claims she got a bum steer from Sparks.

But is it not now clear how Tom DeLay got his party into the fix it is in? Read the words from the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas as quoted by FortBendNow:
"Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is leading Democrat Nick Lampson 'in double digits at this point in time' in the race for Congressional District 22."
and this:
"...'things are tough' in the race for Tom DeLay’s former congressional district. 'It’s an uphill battle,' she said."

Lead in the double digits? Uphill battle?

Wha . . . ?

Now is it not obvious how this mess that Republicans have gotten themselves into started? The one who uttered these words is also the one who made the calamitous decision to move to replace Tom DeLay on the November ballot because he was "ineligible" (after Tom got his story straight).

Look Tina, let me set you straight. If you are ahead, as in "in the double digits", in a poll, there is no "uphill battle" except the one that your opponent has.

This is as transparent as glass. Tina has absolutely no faith in the push poll that Shelley Sekula-Gibbs commissioned. But she can't bring herself to admit it directly. So instead, she speaks out of two sides of her mouth and the results add up to a big "Wha . . .?"

And it looks like she is still sticking to her story. The national party is "interested in the CD-22 race" and that they would "definitely play in this race" and she "expects that to happen". The 3 million is coming, Shelley, they're interested.

It's been exactly a month to the day of the grand anointing, Tina. You promised then that if the GOP could get behind 1 candidate, 3 million dollars would roll into The Chosen's campaign war chest. David Wallace believed that and tearfully bowed out.

Tina, how long does it take to get that check written and sent off?

Sounds like the promises that Katrina victims were getting from the Bush admins in the days and weeks that followed that calamity. They kept saying: help is on the way.

Fuzzy thinking, lies, deceit and just plain stupidity.

And I'll bet Tina Benkiser has seen her last chairmanship or party leadership position.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Change Begins at Home

When I am not teaching, blogging, block walking or cleaning up after the Half Empty Hound, I work with the Young Democrats whose club I sponsor at the high school I work at.

Last night was “Club Night” and the club had a booth set up to garner recruits. Mitch, David and Jamie helped set up, Julia stopped in from time to time. Parents hovered.

And thirty kids signed up to become members.

Now in Texas, that may or may not be significant, depending on your location. But here in Tom DeLay’s old district, I’d say that was completely significant. Doubly significant because they know that Our Tom is not an issue anymore. They don’t care who or whether a Republican is running, they just want to support Democrats.

So what if they can’t vote (although I, as a registrar, will be sorting out who can and who can’t very soon now). They have youth, energy and desire. That and a pair of hands are all a campaign needs. Thirty pairs of hands can make a dent.

You can’t quite make it out what is being shown on the computer monitor, so I’ll tell you. It was a looped sequence of Nick Lampson commercials combined with the older “On the Road with Nick” video. Audio was enhanced by a stereo amplifier and speakers. Every once in awhile above the din that was Club Night, I could hear “Stop borrowing and spending for a change” the famous “Megaphone Granny” refrain on his economics commercial. People love that commercial, and I am told that the lady, a member of a local democratic club, is now recognized on the street and gives out autographs.

And where were the Young Republicans? Well, I’ll tell ya. There is no Young Republican club established on the campus.

They disbanded.

I can feel the winds of change, can’t you?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shelley Sekula-Gibbs Has an Opinion on the Iraq War? Maybe.

I almost gave up.

I scoured the internet and kept turning a complete blank.

My simple question: Where does Texas CD-22 write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (aka The Pink One) stand on the War in Iraq? I simply didn’t know. And it's not like it isn't in the uppermost mind of the voters.


Well for one thing, I’ve never heard her speak. Maybe she only talks about Iraq when she speaks.

But reporters are there when she speaks (except when she stands them up). Shouldn’t they write something down? Do they ignore the issue because it’s such a boring topic? Well, I doubt it. I think I don’t know her position on the War in Iraq because she won’t say or write a single thing about it. If you look at the “Platform” and “Talking Points” pages on her campaign website, she doesn’t even mention the fact that our country has men and women fighting and dying on foreign soil.

The issue came to a head with me in reading a recent article in FortBendNow on her candidacy with another write-in candidate, past the Secretary of State’s deadline. It was all about Shelley and Don Richardson and the write-in race, but you could see what was on the mind of the voters in the comments: Iraq.

Heck, if you go to Joe Reasbeck’s myspace campaign website (yes he has a myspace campaign website – how cute is that?), you find out that he definitely has ideas about Iraq – ideas that would make Don Rumsfeld look perfectly dovish.

But nothing from Shelley.


The woman is full of issues. She wants to clear the streets of immigrants, sometimes. She thinks tort reform is a great idea (heck, what doctor doesn’t?), is anti-abortion and anti stem cell research (sanctity of life), and hates gays (marriage is only between a man and a woman).

But not a peep about the ONE ISSUE that has a majority of Americans (and Texans, by the way) up in arms: our troops fighting in a protracted sectarian conflict where one of the issues in the conflict is our soldiers’ very presence.

And then it happened. I found it in the Dallas Morning Times in an article way back in August. Here's what she said:

"I have heard from the base that it is critical we support the war on terror and we protect our country from acts of violence against our citizens," she said. So supporting the president's war on terror is extremely important to me"
But do you notice something? She didn't say "War in Iraq". She said "War on Terror". Arguably the two are not one and the same (argued now by George W. himself, but not Dick "Die Hard" Cheney). So, really, we still don't know.

So, Shel, what is it? Timetable? Get Iraqis to stand up? Or is it "Stay the course"?

People really want to know.

By the way, as an aside, muse has a song contest on over at the muse site. Write a Shelley song. No prize, no money, just some fun. Think one up. I put my miserable song together. Thing is, the melody is known to so many, but the lyrics to so few. Back in the 60’s the FBI made a huge study of trying to figure out the words to the song.

No lie.

Speaking of lie, one last thing and I’ll shut up.

Do you see the panel here on the right? Lifted from the Shelster’s campaign website. Don’t you just love the “Vote Twice” thing? Here’s my issue: no one should vote for Shelley because she LIES TWICE.

Lie Number 1: “The Republican Candidate in the Special Election”. THE Republican? Last time I looked, Shelley was running in a field of FIVE Republicans in the special election. There will be no “REP” next to her name on the ballot. It’s nonpartisan.

Lie Number 2: “The Write-In Republican Candidate in the Special Election” Same thing, but this, too: there will be no Republican candidate in the general election. To claim this is so is in violation of a ruling by Judge Samuel Sparks in his Federal District Court, a ruling upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals AND Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court.

Lies, pure and simple. And how appropriate.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

More Barbecue. This Time in Edna With Shane Sklar

So I was out at the Fort Bend Democrats Headquarters today, and Don walked up to me and said, “you wanna go out to Edna and eat some barbecue? They have some thing going on in Senate District 18.”

I didn’t think about it very long, I just said “sure, count me in”.

Edna, Texas, I knew, was the hometown of Shane Sklar, Democratic Party nominee for Texas Congressional District 14. I figured I could use another jolt of slow cooked cow and entubed hog. So I went for it. I knew Edna was down south somewhere, just off the Senator Lloyd Bentsen Highway (US 59 to you Philistines). So I got in my fuel-efficient automobile with a Google map and drove to a gas station because I really didn’t know how far Edna was from Rosenberg. Or what the gas prices were out there.

It’s far.

By my standards, it’s far.

Senate District 18 covers an incredible amount of real estate consisting of all or parts of Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Matagorda, Refugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington, and Wharton Counties. So no wonder there were several Democratic Party County Chairs there.

And no, the Democratic candidate for SD 18 wasn’t there. There is no Democratic candidate for SD 18. It was just a great way to get a whole bunch of SD 18 people together to revel in the excitement. And Don brought a whole bunch of these little devils (yeah, the one on the right) to the party. They are really catching on, even among the stealth Republicans who slide their campaign signs up next to them (Who, me? Republican?).

Shane Sklar showed up while everyone was feeding.

This must be some sort of record for me. The man isn’t even running in my congressional district, but this makes it 3 times in a week that I’ve shaken Shane Sklar’s hand, and he now recognizes me and reads my blog. I was so impressed with this that I bought a Shane Sklar camouflage campaign T-shirt.

So after munching on what I consider to be the second best barbecue dinner so far in the 2006 campaign, Don, who is on the SDEC, called the meeting to order and introduced Shane. He started talking and I told myself I should pay close attention because I now had a subject for my blog. I got a pen out of my pocket, snatched some unused napkins, and took notes this time. Shane’s got a lot to say, and some very unique issues. I wanted to get it right. (Yes, my handwriting is horrible, but the napkin wasn't cooperating, and I had a cheap, cheap pen).

By the time I started writing, Shane was on insurance rates. He says that even his health insurance went up. And the man is 30 years old and healthy as a horse. It’s all because of the pharmaceutical industry, he says. Here we have an industry whose profits are among the highest in the world in comparison to their costs, and we are paying higher insurance premiums because of the gift that the Congress and Senate gave to Big Pharma last year This is a government subsidized industry, and we are paying more on top of what we have been, all because of their greed.

Then he laid into his opponent, Libertarian in Republican Clothing, Dr. Ron Paul. Recall in a previous posting, I mentioned that Ron Paul is a card-carrying Libertarian (who runs for congress as a Republican – it’s OK to vote for Libertarians if they say that they are Republicans). He spends most of his time in Congress making his Libertarian points. Points that are entirely out of the mainstream of 21st century American politics.

For instance: Dr. Paul, Shane says, wants to put the United States economy back on the gold standard – you know, the economic standard that caused the collapse of national economies worldwide back in the 1920’s? Shane said that Paul is so out of the mainstream that he worries about the price of gold, when he should be worried about the price of gasoline.

Shane said that Paul’s hypocrisy was revealed when he announced the passage of HR 4939, a relief bill for Hurricane Katrina victims. What Paul failed to mention, however, that he voted against the bill. Shane said “he helped us with Hurricane Katrina”. “What did he do?” someone in the audience called out. Shane: “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Shane mentioned an interview Ron Paul gave to Libby Copeland of the Washington Post two months ago. Copeland added to this article, and you can find it right near the end, this:
“On his opposition to war in Iraq, he told a radio interviewer a few years ago, 'I'm generally very much ignored'."
Shane argues that if your Congressman is ignored, then his constituents are also ignored. He has self-confessed: he can’t get it done.

Shane’s campaign is picking up vis-à-vis the money thing. His only hurdle, he says, is name recognition. In a poll, 48% of the district voters would vote for someone new other than Ron Paul. Shane’s task, he says, is informing them who that new someone else is.

Shane’s message is that Democrats, for far too long, have remained quiet, maybe because of things that went on in Clinton’s term, but that “they now have more than enough reason to speak up”. Republicans have become more concerned with political gamesmanship than solving problems. Signs like “Had Enough” are an appropriate expression of Democratic outrage.

In closing, Shane said what has become my favorite tagline for his campaign, and it is a powerful one:

“I don’t believe we need a congressman who wants to make a point. I believe we need a congressman who wants to make a difference”

That was the highlight of the meeting and the dinner, although the food was up there on my short list of good things that happened in Edna. Third highest? Don's remark that it is widely known, and getting around, that Shane is a hunk. Second highest? I think they were remarks by a county chair in the audience, can’t recall her name, a delightful person, who in her remarks about what strategies in the past led to successful elections, said that what works is when we put a team together, we all like each other, we’re all friends and we support each other. Democrats win when Democrats work together toward their common goal.

True dat.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

2 Million Reasons Houston CD-22 Voters Will Reject The Pink One

I saw it on the KHOU website.

If Shelley Sekula-Gibbs wins in her special election bid to take over Texas ex-Congressman Tom DeLay’s unexpired term, she will have to give up her seat on the Houston City Council. And the city charter requires that a special election be held to fill her unexpired term.

According to KHOU’s political analyst, Bob Stein, this could be a pricey undertaking, and all for just one race for one office:
“The cost is not inconsequential, probably around two million dollars. . . . to fill her unexpired seat. And I don’t believe there will be anything else on the ballot”.
Sekula-Gibbs, approached for comment gave these sage words:
“Well, these issues are something that are done in the charter. It’s the city charter and really, we don’t have much control over that. It’s just unfortunate, but it’s part of the city charter.”
Did I get that right? It’s the city charter that’s doing all this? The city charter? Not Shelley? The city charter made her file her name in the special election? Finger pointing will get you nowhere, Shelley. We all know who is ultimately responsible for Houston taxpayers shelling out another $2 M, don’t we? Tom DeLay.

That’s actually true. Tom is the gift that keeps on giving. If he hadn’t cut and run, none of this would be happening, and Houston would be able to spend those 2 million DeLay Dollars on filling some more potholes.

Two million dollars. That’s a nice chunk of change to buy Shelley a 2 week stay in Washington DC as the duly elected congressman from TX CD-22.

Works out to a million dollars a week. Assume an 8 hour day, 5 day week (a reach for some of these bozos) and we’re talking two hundred large a day, or 25 grand per hour, $416 and change per minute, or about $6.94 per second.

My bet is that Houston voters, upon seeing the extravagant waste of money her election will produce, will reject The Pink One.

Or at least they should . . . but no one has ever accused Houston GOP voters of having a logical thought process.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Downballot Vote: Advantage Texas Democrats

I myself have almost never been a fan of straight ticket voting. Not because I don’t vote a straight Democratic ticket, I do. I just simply hate to make one mark and have that be it. One mark votes all. I am more the type to want to vote FOR each and every Democratic candidate proactively and with feeling.

I’ve changed my mind in this election for a couple of reasons.

First, this election is going to be one confusing SOB for the Republicans. Here we have Stealth Republicans who see that having 3 Texas governor races heavily backed by Republicans (one real Republican candidate, ol’ what-his-name, and two independent candidates, Kinky and Grandma), there will be a significant reduction straight ticket voting among Republicans. They’ll have to work a whole lot harder to make sure that Republican voters fill out their ballots completely this November. And that means name recognition. Something that many downballot Republicans haven’t had to deal with before. And in addition to name recognition, they have to deal with the fact that Republicans are getting angry at their national leadership, and to the fact that mainstream Republicans are starting to get turned off by neo-conservative vitriolic shrieking.

As I mentioned in a previous posting, some GOP candidates are joining our “tour group” as it were, on the sly. I hear that Annie Elliott, or those that work for her, is also not up to a forthright campaign.

So that’s the number one reason to vote a straight Democratic ticket with “one button shopping”. Republicans can’t do it. That’s right, they are officially Republican’ts.

Number two reason: I don’t trust that machine. Dave Maschek’s recent newsletter outlined problems that he personally, as a precinct judge, encountered with the voting machine in the primary run-off election.
“One voter on April 11 asked me for help. When I went to assist her, I found eSlate would not let her cast her ballot because she did not vote for anyone. Clearly, she had made choices but because of problems in the eSlate system, her choices were erased before she voted. I asked her to try again. When she tried to vote a second time, one of her two choices was erased. It surprised me to see how easily a voter could cause this to happen. At last, she selected candidates in both races and cast her ballot.”
However, if you vote a straight ticket you can then see the result in the voting summary screen, and all you need to do is make sure that all of the Democratic candidates are shown in the list of your selections. Then cast the ballot.

Fort Bend voters have been sold a bill of goods in this eSlate system. The best assurance that you can have that your vote will count is to vote the straight ticket with one button.

Straight ticket, one-stop shopping. Do it because the “ic” in Democratic stands for “I Can

Republican’ts can’t.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ken Cannata: Stealth Republican

If you have been paying attention, big campaign signs are sprouting up all over Fort Bend County, Texas - well, that is, in places where city ordnances don't forbid them 60 days before Election Day. Here at the right is a photo of what I have come to call a FB Democrats "Sign Swarm". These signs are erected on the commercial and agricultural property of Democratic Party members and sympathizers.

I have acquired an expertise in the art and science of 4 x 4 and 4 x 6 sign erections, and I can tell you that it is hot work in these waning days of summer.

But wait, look at the blue 4 x 6 on the far left, the one next to the "Had Enough Vote Democratic" sign. I know I didn't put one up like that. That's a sign advertising the campaign of Farhan Shamsi's Republican opponent, Ken Cannata.

Farhan is running for Justice of the Peace in Precinct 3. He is just the man for the job. Read his bio at his website if you need any convincing.

His opponent? A Stealth Republican. Here is a guy who has laid his finger on the pulse of America and realized that if he is going to win this election, he will have to resort to stealth. That is, since he is affiliated with the Republican Party, and Republicans are going to be in all sorts of trouble in this election cycle, he will have to disguise himself as a Democrat. Better yet, he painted his sign blue and planted it right next to a "Had Enough" sign.

Cannata, apparently, is too intimidated to run as a Republican in Fort Bend County. Doesn't that just take the cake? Here in DeLay Country? Oh, that's right, Tom ran off creating all sorts of havoc in his party. Republicans are just mad as wet hens. Downballot Republicans like Cannata will have a difficult garnering those straight ticket votes.


So when that happens, resort to stealth. Look like something you are not. Make something that is loathsome to people look like something people can really get behind.

Ken Cannata is no fool, but he is a duplicitous coward.

One last word on Cannata. I have, on occasion, read the comments section in FortBendNow, and have been known to contribute. I once read a thread concerning the ethnic diversity in the Democratic Party, as opposed to the Republican (aka White People's) Party. Someone had to mention Ken Cannata as an example of ethnic diversity in the Republican Party: an Italian-American.

Really, I am not making this up.

Italian-Americans, I need to point out, have been mainstreamed into American society since . . . well . . . since Vito Corleone.


Brady Elliott has just surfaced as a Stealth Republican. You can now view his campaign sign at the far end of the Fort Bend Democrats Sign Swarm in the photo above. And as mentioned in this posting Annie Elliott (no relation) has also a big erection over on that piece of property.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Texas Democrats Launch Labor Day With a Bang

Well, as expected, Fort Bend Democrats threw themselves one heck of a party. No one could believe the turnout. The room was a sea of faces, familiar faces and new faces. As Don Bankston, the affair’s organizer quipped, and I’m paraphrasing here, if Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace could see the number of Democrats meeting in his city’s own community center, he’d get real nervous. I didn’t get a head count, but my estimate was over two hundred showed up.

Everyone I mentioned in a previous posting showed up. The paper press was there as well as FortBendNow (who will probably have their write-up posted hours before I put mine up. And their posting will be much more accurate then mine, I saw Bob Dunn take notes. I never take notes).

Everyone spoke. Not for very long. County candidates got, oh, 7 or 8 seconds apiece. Even the statewide and federal candidates abbreviated their speeches in deference to the time and sheer numbers of them. I did get a chance to talk to Shane Sklar, Democratic candidate in CD-14. He reports that things are going well and the funding is improving, although it could still get better (still time to drop off a few bucks for Shane's campaign at TexRoots). Nick Lampson slaps me on the back now. And Albert Hollan knows me by name now, and reads – and laughs at – my blog. He liked the Al Gebra posting. So there, muse.

Hank Gilbert is a study. I saw the speech that he delivered to the state convention on You Tube, but you don’t get a true appreciation of the depth of the man until you hear him speak his mind extemporaneously. He said that he knew his opponent when he was in high school, and said that he was a p--ck then and he still is a p--ck. And then said something else about his opponent not knowing one end of a cow from the other, so he doesn’t know which end to go to, to wipe its a--.

Neeta Sane came in late and in her usual exuberance, amplified over speakers this time, she inadvertently scared little Olivia to tears. Yes, I saw Charles Kuffner, author of “Off The Kuff” made it. Like a good dad he picked her up and took her out into the atrium to calm down. muse was there with the muse camera. By the way, go to muse's blog, or Bryan's for photography of the event. I don't take photos because my digital camera is so old that it is embarrasing when I haul it out to snap a photo. Really. I get stares.

Chris Bell has a sense of humor that is so dry that the humidity in the room fell to 5%. He spoke of the education he has gotten in his trans-state campaign, particularly that night. He said that he discovered why the state has fewer and fewer ranchers, now that Hank revealed one of the things that they have to do.

Watch out for Barbara Ann Radnofsky. She is in attack mode. She is going after Kay Bailey Hutchison in just the right way: exposing her as the fool that she is. Radnofsky goes for the throat, attacking Kay Bailey in the areas that she is weakest – foreign policy. Here is why Kay Bailey is weak in foreign policy – she is clueless, as is her great and glorious leader, Dubya.

Congressman Al Green gave the keynote address and got several standing ovations. He spoke of the mean spiritedness on the part of the Republicans in the GOP-dominated congress, voting themselves a huge pay raise, and then attaching a rider to the minimum wage bill that would have given a multi billion dollar tax break to the wealthy top 1% of Americans. I posted about that as well. He then introduced Nick Lampson.

Nick gave the usual speech, now punctuated with the fact that democrats cannot afford to lose focus now that the outcome of his race seems to be almost a no-brainer. All candidates both state and county depend on keeping up the pressure and keeping the focus on victory. And then I saw something new. He picked up a “Had Enough” lawn sign and periodically asked the audience if they “Had Enough?” Crowd answers “Yeah!” Nick follows up: “What are you going to do about it?” Crowd: “Vote Democratic!”

Albert Hollan brought magnetic bumper stickers, and in his brief speech, he brought down the house when he said that he had placed one on every car and truck in the parking lot. And he did. I even got one on mine, and I had my car parked around the side. Leaving the center I noticed someone complain that there was no Hollan magnet on their car. Then observed the person scan up and down the row looking for one, finding one, snatched it. Ironically, not 5 minutes later, I saw Albert Hollan exit the building and walk toward the very car that had suffered the snatching. I called over, asking if he had a magnetic sticker on his car and he said yes, he did. I answered “are you sure”? Sure enough, he went and checked and found his sticker had been filched. So he reached in his pocket and put another on.

This left me to formulate two conflicting lessons.

Lesson 1: If you are going to snatch a Hollan magnetic bumper sticker, make sure you snatch it from Albert – he has more.

Lesson 2: If you are going to engage in petty theft, make sure you don’t steal from the next district judge of the 268th court.