Friday, August 31, 2007

Larry Craig To Resign on Saturday

Just announced late today, Larry Craig’s spokesman said that his boss will make an announcement on his future tomorrow, Saturday September 1st. The content of the announcement was not released, but “GOP officials” told the AP wire service that Craig would announce his resignation.

This is strictly an in-house thing. Democrats, with the exception of maybe the bloggers, have been all but silent on the Larry Craig “shoe butting” incident last June 11th. Democrats asked themselves “Why make a saint out of him by attacking him?” His own party will do the job nicely, thank you.

As a senator from a state whose population is dominated by Latter Day Saints adherents, even the slightest hint that he has gay tendencies is like poisoning the well. He is unelectable in 2008, so rather than primary him in what could turn out to be a very embarrassing campaign for Craig – especially when gays seem to be coming out of the woodwork with gay stories about him – GOPers must have convinced him of his hopeless position.

I actually feel some sympathy for the guy even though, as a gay or bisexual man, he constantly voted against issues that would help gays and lesbians have better lives. What this teaches us is that being gay is not a choice to make. Being gay crosses political boundaries. As a Democrat, a gay person has fewer issues and problems with fellow Democrats, but the same cannot be said for a Republican gay. Hypocrisy is the end result.

And finally, while I am on the subject, as a heterosexual male, I strongly object when my fellow Democrats label gay Republicans “Grand Old Perverts”. Being gay is not a perversion, thank you very much, and as progressives, you should know better. And it’s not a choice as Texas senatorial candidate Mikal Watts would have you believe.

I hope someday Larry Craig will come to terms with his sexual orientation. Maybe it will be possible now without his having to satisfy the sexual sensibilities of Republican bigots.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Help Get Rick Noriega on The Ballot!

Today I got an email from eleven members of the Texas SDEC, members who are supporting Rick Noriega for US Senator from Texas. They announced a petition drive to get Lt. Col Rick Noriega on the March Democratic Primary ballot.

Interestingly enough, most candidates for office at this level don’t waste their time and energy with petitions, they just pay a filing fee. The one for US Senator is $5000. This is chump change for opponent Mikal Watt$. I know Rick Noriega can come up with the cash, too.

So why a petition drive?

Let them explain it to you:

“Rick Noriega is building a grassroots campaign, and here's our chance to show the strength of the Noriega grassroots. Texas requires a candidate to obtain 5,000 signatures. We want to blow that number away, so we've set an ambitious goal: 25,000 signatures!”

I’ll say that’s ambitious. Long ago I learned that any petition to get something on a ballot needs to amass at least twice the number of signatures that are required simply to overcome the inevitable unqualified or unverifiable signature. The Noriega Campaign has a goal to collect 5 times the minimum required.

Here’s how they plan on doing it. They plan on raising an army of petition distributors. They want YOU to help out. It is, after all, a grassroots campaign with broad support.

How do you help out? Download a petition PDF file HERE. Print it out on legal sized paper so that individual lines on the petition are wide enough for the signer to sign, and for a reader to read the signature.

More information from the campaign on the petition process:

"Who can sign? Any registered voter in Texas may sign. By signing, you are making an oath not to vote in any other Party primary or convention. The signer doesn't have to have voted Democratic in the past (or even have ever voted before!). The only registered voters who should not sign are those planning on voting in the Republican primary or attending a third party's convention.

How many signatures does it take? It takes 5,000 valid ones. To make sure we have enough and to show Rick's overwhelming support, we're going to set a goal of 25,000!”

What's our deadline? Filing begins on December 4, 2007 and ends on January 3, 2008. We'll stop collecting sometime during that period. We've got three months to make a statement. One signature a day and you'll be approaching a hundred!”

Do people need to know their voter registration number? It helps if they write it in, but we'll look them up. If your local voter registration list is online, you could help by looking them up before you mail them in.”

Do I hold them or send them in as I go? Please send each page in as you complete a page. The address is on the bottom of each one.”

How will I know how we're doing? The campaign will periodically send an email to update you and we'll keep a tally on the website. There will be special recognition to those who obtain more than 100 signatures and a really special treat for whomever collects the most!”

“Most campaigns wouldn't even try this, but our campaign is different. Rick's support is deep and wide in Texas, and here's our chance to prove it. Not only are you helping to get Rick on the ballot, you'll also be spreading his message across Texas. That's something a $5,000 check to the Texas Elections Division can't buy.”

Here’s your chance to make a difference and it won’t cost you a thing. Take the petition around and get your friends and family members to sign it. Take it to work or to your place of worship. Take it to Democratic meetings that you attend or hear about. Take it to peace rallies.

Heck, even take it to Mikal Watt$’ roast beef lunches and hospitality suites. I hear attendees are long on appetites, just not long on them for Watt$.

Let’s just get this one done, OK?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Senator Larry Craig: A Quarter Century Pattern Emerges

Have you seen the YouTube video of a 1982 ABC News report on the page scandal back at that time? I have it embedded below. A 20-year old former page made allegations of having sex with congressmen when he was a minor, and attending parties where drugs were freely available. He named names to the FBI investigators, but those names have yet to be revealed, to this day.

I am guessing that then Congressman Larry Craig called a press conference after those facts were revealed to the press to deny that he is gay was, in essence, was to deflect any accusations his way.

Why would anyone accuse then Congressman Larry Craig of being gay? His explanation: he was single and single men are viewed as gay.

They are?

This is so reminiscent of the “I’m not gay” speech he recently made, with his wife standing next to him. He’s married now.

He’s married, so he must not be gay.


And his 1982 actions to head off any accusations that he is gay seems to be indicating a pattern. He pled guilty to a lesser crime he says he didn’t commit in order to head off and deflect a Utah newspaper’s investigative story on his past sexual behaviors.

Why do I care that Larry Craig is as queer as a three dollar bill? I don’t. Not at all. I think life is too short, and one must find love however one can, according to their tastes. So I really don’t care about Larry Craig’s sexual orientation. But I do care that he cares about it. Cares about it enough to deny it, publicly, twice in a quarter century. Cares about it enough to vote against gay rights bills and support Utah’s 2006 anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment.

But on the other hand, if he is married, and his wife has had some sack time with the Senator, then that is a whole ‘nother thing. He’s bisexual.

And I hate bisexuals.

Hate them with a passion.

Bisexuals are having far too much fun.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You Have GOT To See the Noriega Endorsement Videos

That’s it. You have to see them. HERE. If they don’t bring tears to your eyes you are as numb as John Cornyn’s brain when he voted against SCHIP. When he voted for taking your 4th Amendment rights away. When he voted for continued quagmire (Cheney, 1994) in Iraq.

Yep. Cornyn is toast. Whether it happens in a senatorial race in 2008 when Rick Noriega shows him the corral gate, or when he tries to re-up as Attorney General when our next president is a Democrat.

Either way, Cornyn is GTT (Gone To Texas) as his fellow Bushies Rove and Gonzo are.

Cha-Ching! The Grand Parkway Scam. Bye-Bye Wetlands, Hello Concrete

It has been a slow burn, a low burn, and they’re hoping that no one shows up to object to the biggest scam since Teapot Dome. And only in Texas.

Like Senator Ted Stevens’ “Bridge to Nowhere”, the Fort Bend County Commission and the Fort Bend Tollroad Authority, and Jesus knows who else, are proposing to build the Tollroad to Nowhere. It’s true. The Grand Parkway, the outermost of the proposed ringroads around Houston, has been on the books for 40 years, and in that amount of time, 20 miles of it have been constructed from the Katy Freeway to US 59 in Sugar Land.

Now being proposed as a tollroad, costing nearly half a billion dollars, is a 177 mile stretch of the Grand Parkway arcing from US 59 around to State Highway 288.

Cited as a much-needed road to relieve traffic congestion, the proposed route cuts through 177 miles of Texas coastal plain . . . and nothing else. It will link nothing to nothing.

But what it will do is provide transportation routes to planned and unplanned development in and near Texas Gulf coastal wetlands. It is planned to be built adjacent to Brazos Bend State Park, one of the most fragile protected wetlands in Southeast Texas. More concrete to be poured to build yesterday’s transportation system.

It will destroy fragile ecosystems and encourage unchecked development of the self-same land.

The land in that area used to flood all the time. Brazos Bend State Park lands were donated to the state when proposed development of it went on the skids after surge from Hurricane Alicia put it under 30 feet of water. But in the meantime, Fort Bend County completed construction of the Big Creek flood control project. The area may still flood, but not if the county puts through plans to build a levee through the same area, a levee essentially built in order to hold back floodwaters from flooding unoccupied arable land. Now that is. Not unless they build houses, theaters and malls out there, concrete poured over both prime agricultural acreage and fragile wetlands.

No, let’s call the Grand Parkway Tollroad project exactly what it is, a scam to enrich landowners and developers who do not have the wherewithal to connect their developments to the rest of the world. They would prefer that all of us provide that wherewithal.

Tom Stavinoha, Fort Bend Precinct 1 commissioner, whose precinct stands to gain the most from construction of this tollroad, has said that it won’t be built unless it is a tollroad. No one has the money for this.

To that I say this: So don’t build it.

If this road is of value, then let those who stand to gain the most by its construction pay to construct it.

Don’t put it off on the citizens.

By the way, if you want to attend the public hearing on construction of the tollroad, it’s on for this coming Thursday.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. August 30, 2007

Where: Guy Lodge Hall at George Ranch Historical Park, 10215 FM 762 in Richmond.

Map here.

Stay tuned to this channel for more on this . . .

Monday, August 27, 2007

Governor Dolph Briscoe, Lt. Governor Bill Hobby and State Senator Rodney Ellis — endorse Rick Noriega

Now that is some pretty good news. Rick Noriega is getting some pretty heavy endorsements from former state-wide office holders. While I don’t usually do this wholesale cut and paste posts I think it is important to get this information on the blogwires because of the Gonzo resignation which has clearly outshouted this great piece of news. But I think this news outshouts the news that you get from the opposition, which continues to pile up endorsements from city mayors and precinct chairs.

I hear that there is more to come. One of my best sources told me the other day that another state-wide name will be forthcoming with another endorsement for Rick Noriega, frontrunner Democratic Candidate for US Senator from Texas.

Here’s the news release from the Noriega Campaign:

Texas Democratic icons — Governor Dolph Briscoe, Lt. Governor Bill Hobby and State Senator Rodney Ellis — endorse Rick Noriega’s exploratory bid for US Senate.

(Houston, TX) — Texas Democratic icons Governor Dolph Briscoe, Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and State Senator Rodney Ellis, who briefly served as Lt. Governor as well, today joined Houston’s Paul Hobby in endorsing Rick Noriega as the next United States Senator from Texas.

Standing together at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where Noriega served as Incident Commander when the facility was turned into a shelter and emergency support network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, these icons that represent over three decades of Texas leadership called for a restoration of forward looking leadership that responds to the needs of the people.

“What we have here today is more than a list of endorsements,” Noriega declared. "It is a history lesson that teaches us that Texas stands at its greatest when we plan for the future, bring people together, and hold our government accountable.”

Under the weather with a fever, Governor Dolph Briscoe, who occupied the Governor’s Mansion from 1973 – 1979, sent a written statement that paid tribute to Noriega’s service in the military and humanitarian leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “These times call for a leader like Rick Noriega, a leader with character, a leader who understands Texans are not afraid of the future, and we’re not followers.”

State Senator Rodney Ellis recalled how Noriega has lived out the warrior’s ethos — leave no man behind — from the battlefield to the legislature and in the community. “In the legislature, Rick fought to all Texas children had health insurance. And here in this very building, the George R. Brown Convention Center, he proved that compassion is not a weakness, but part of the very fabric of who we are as Texans,” Ellis explained. “That’s the type of leadership we need in the United States Senate.”

Lt. Governor Bill Hobby, who served Texas from 1973 to 1991, spoke directly to Noriega’s appeal statewide, “It’s time for a US Senator who can bring Texans together,” Governor Hobby declared. “Rick Noriega earns respect for the strength of his convictions, for rejecting the politics of personal destruction, and for his courage to speak to a higher calling in all of us, “Hobby added.

Noriega openly questioned whether John Cornyn’s voting record reflects the values of ordinary Texans, noting that the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) rated Cornyn 85th out of 100 Senators in support for veterans and their families.

“The standard for leadership and service has been set by the gentlemen behind me; not by the man who occupies one of Texas’ two US Senate seats,” Noriega concluded.

Noriega promised that as his exploratory campaign continues to gain momentum, “Texans will get a chance to see the many faces and many perspectives that our campaign represents.”

AG Gonzo Goes, GOPers Grouse

Well I thought it was too soon for Alberto Gonzales to up and quit. I thought he was going to hang in there until the Texas primary. Give Bush a chance to save the Texas junior senate seat by appointing John Cornyn to serve out the rest of the AG's term. Give Rick Perry the chance to appoint the next Senator from Texas. Someone not so joined at the hip to George Bush. So maybe it was just getting too hot in the AG’s kitchen. Or maybe Gonzo finally showed Bush the pictures he had of him and Bush didn’t care anyway.

All I can say is good riddance to bad rubbish.

Frontrunner Democratic US Senatorial Candidate Lt. Col. Rick Noriega issued the following brief statement on Gonzales’ resignation:
“It's about time. Our country's interest should come first. This appears to be a political decision. Hopefully this can put an end to the politicization of the Justice Department.”
John Cornyn was far more verbose and issued a multi-paragraph pity party on the resignation of Lyin’ Al. Only the last part is worth quoting as it is precious to see Cornyn, or any Republican, for that matter, say this after the years and years of Republican partisan politics through which we Americans have had to suffer. Said he:

“The American people deserve and demand bipartisan action on the many important issues facing our country today. It is my hope that the poisonous and partisan atmosphere that has surrounded this Congress will be lifted and my Democratic colleagues will work with Republicans in the best interests of the American people.”

I still favor the idea that John Cornyn will be appointed Gonzales’ successor. It solves so many problems for the Republicans on so many levels.

Besides, Cornyn is one of them. He’s a senator being appointed to AG that has to be confirmed by the senate. He’ll have 49 solid votes for confirmation. But then I probably give the Bush Regime too much credit. They’ve screwed up just about everything else in this country.

Why not give this obvious fix a pass as well?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lucy Does Houston

While I am pleased that I will be able to lay my own eyes on the physical remains of Lucy, the 3.2 million year old fossilized remains of a proto-humanoid discovered by Donald Johanson and Tony Gray in 1974, I am personally alarmed that the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Lucy’s legal owner, is willing to risk damage and/or destruction of its greatest national treasure.

It’s true. In Anharic, one of Ethiopia’s eighty-four languages, Lucy is known as “dinqneš,”, and that translates to “the wonderful” or “the fabulous” or “the precious”.

In the 33 years since its discovery, Lucy, the most complete specimen of the species Australopithecus afarensis, has only been put on public exhibition twice, and never outside of Ethiopia.

And now the skeletal remains, completely mineralized bones I hear, was put on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Houston. It was either a special flight or there was one stopover and transfer in Washington DC.

Lucy’s first stop on its 6-year world tour is the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The exhibit opens on August 31st. Over 2100 advance tickets have been sold for the exhibit at $20 a pop. That, friends and neighbors, is an all-time high entrance fee for an exhibit at HMNS.

Many many paleoanthropologists are up in arms about this. These are professionals who are in the way of knowing that you cannot take a national treasure around the world for six years without it sustaining some damage due to travel. There is such concern that curators at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the American Museum of Natural History in New York have refused offers to exhibit Lucy.

I can’t say I blame them.

And I question the choice of Houston, or any museum in Red America, as a safe place to display this important Pliocene hominid specimen. There are so many religious nutcases here in the South that it would not surprise me in the least to hear of attempts by evangelical extremists to take a sledge hammer to the exhibit. They see Lucy as a symbol of the atheistic secularists’ attempts to teach Evolution in preference to Creationism or Intelligent Design. Lucy’s very existence flies in the face of their dogmatic views of Christianity. I’m sure there is some nutcase out there that thinks that Lucy is an atheistic hoax.

Many are calling for an outright boycott of the exhibit because of all of the concerns about deterioration of the specimen. I’ll probably cave in and pay my $20 to see her because with advance ticket sales like that, it isn’t likely that a boycott will be successful.

No, if Lucy has to be here, I’m going to go take a look. But if I see some religious zealot pull out a crow bar while I’m there I’m going take it away and shove it up into a dark place.

One Fifth of “U.S. Americans” Can’t Locate the US on a World Map

What a great YouTube video to put up on the Sunday before the Monday when Texas’ precious children will be heading back to school to fill their heads with sweet, sweet knowledge. Texas is way down the list in just about every educational rating system there is except for maybe the one that rates a given state’s education system’s performance in religious indoctrination.

Almost every other state is better at educating our children than Texas. Almost.

All I can say is this: Thank you Jesus for South Carolina!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rick Noriega A Smash Hit at the SDEC Meeting in Austin Today.

No, I didn’t get to attend, but my good friend who tells me some good stuff from time to time did. Because she did not see any bloggers at the meeting she thought someone should know about what happened with regard to the appearances of the US Senatorial candidates at this meeting of the State Democratic Executive Committee.

So she phoned me from time to time.

I didn’t write anything down so this is all from memory.

She told me that on Friday evening she attended Mikal Watt’s party for SDEC members – no one was checking IDs.

As she was standing in line to get in she was talking to the lady in front of her and they introduced themselves to each other. She was so-and-so from Austin. But when she signed in the guest list sign-in, she provided a completely different name and city, Corpus Christi. Said she, “No one was giving their right names, Hal.”

The hospitality room was packed, she said. There was a table in the center piled high with food. A 9 year old girl was trying to hand out Watts campaign stickers at the door, and they also had name tags for every SDEC member as well. But my mole reports that no one in the room was wearing them.

As I said, the room was packed, the TV was on, and Watts was camped out on the far end of the room talking to the same 4 or 5 white men. Not moving around working the crowd. She reports that she was accosted several times by youngish probable college students who offered to fetch her a drink. She finally accepted the offer and asked for a glass of water. “But we have beer here,” one objected. But she just wanted water.

She observed several people loading food up on their plates, getting a second drink at the bar, and then going out the door to the elevator. Destination, the Hilton Bar and the Rick Noriega reception hosted by several SDEC members.

I did not hear very much about the Noriega reception. Just that the bar was packed and that Rick was moving around meeting and talking to everyone.

The next day, at the SDEC meeting, all three announced senatorial candidates were there and they were, all three of them, introduced to the members. Yes, even Emil Reichstadt was there. Reichstadt was actually the first to announce his candidacy but has been off the radar screens these past months.

So he is apparently still running.

He also, is apparently not getting much sleep. My source tells me that after he was introduced he took a seat on the back row of chairs and promptly fell asleep. Someone literally had to jump up and catch him before he fell out of his chair onto the floor.

But I am saving the best for last, naturally.

Each candidate stood up as they were introduced. Mikal Watts and Emil Reichstadt each got what my source called “polite applause”. But when Rick Noriega was introduced the applause, shouts, foot stomps and hoots nearly blew the roof off. Sue Schechter, Noriega’s campaign manager was visiting with my source minutes later, and my source tells me that Sue was almost speechless with surprise.

My source estimates that if an SDEC vote were held today, Rick Noriega would have gotten 75% of their votes, Sue, being maybe more of a Half Empty type, estimated 70%.

What became clear at that moment, and it should be no surprise but it was, was that Rick Noriega is the frontrunner Democratic candidate, not the disadvantaged progressive grassroots underdog as he is being painted. Rick Noriega is not just the people’s choice for the Democratic nominee to take on John Cornyn in November.

He is the choice of a broad spectrum of Democrats from Lefty to Centrist.

Rick Noriega: Frontrunner.

Sara’s Stuffed Animals Go to Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office

Well, since Mikal Watts did not cut the Fort Bend Democrats a check for ten large, as I suggested here, the Fort Bend Democrats dragged their sorry butts down to their former Headquarters in Rosenberg, Texas for a second Saturday sell off of choice items.

Again, business was brisk, and really good quality items were going out the front door at fire sale prices.

I bought a knee-high barbecue to cook our lunch. Hot dogs. Democratic Hot Dogs with Democratic Mustard, Yellow Dog Yellow mustard, and relish. We stopped at lunch time. We were so tired that no one made any snide remarks about my junior-sized cooker. In Texas, you see, barbecues resemble railroad tank cars and are nearly as big.

As it approached 3 PM, closing time, Marsha called the Richmond Police Department, then she called the Rosenberg PD even though she doesn’t like the chief of police there and called him a bad name. Then she called the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department and she got a taker.

"A taker for what?", you ask. Let me explain.

Fort Bend Democrat Sara donated to the garage sale her entire stuffed animal collection that she had been collecting since she was about as big as my new barbecue, but very few of them actually sold. Marsha knows that sometimes police officers carry a stuffed animal or two in their squad cars and hand them over to children who are traumatized because they have been involved in auto wrecks or are survivors of house fires – kids who are traumatized for whatever reason – and the stuffed toy comforts them. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department dispatched a deputy to the Headquarters to collect the collection. Sara helped the deputy carry out the big box of comfort critters and put it in the trunk of her patrol car.

When she came back in she had an almost stricken look on her face. She had just given away a big part of her childhood. She got a hug. In the end Sara knew that what she had done was going to render consolation and relief to over a hundred small children in their time of tearful distress.

And that made her feel pretty darned good about the whole thing.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bush Comparing Iraq to Vietnam?

Talk about jumping over to the other side. Democrats have been saying that there are strong similarities between Iraq and Vietnam for years now. Bush finally gets it?

No, actually.

He is using the analogy to justify staying in Iraq indefinitely because when we leave, the Iraq “quagmire” (Cheney, 1994) will disassemble into a bloodbath that they say Vietnam descended into.

Now I have a couple of problems with that. One thing that is not similar between Iraq and Vietnam is the opponent. In Vietnam we had a Soviet and Communist Chinese-backed legitimate government fighting an American-backed legitimate government. The Viet Cong were the closest thing to an insurgency, and they were fully supported by the Soviets and Chinese as well. The bloodbath that followed mainly dealt with the victors getting the final say over the losers.

That is historically what happens when one side wins and one side loses. In all cases, the loser comes into existence because diplomacy has broken down, as was the case in Vietnam. We tried to find a military solution in Vietnam, when a diplomatic one was the one that was needed.

And there is the disconnect, and there is where George Bush has not learned from history. He still wants a military solution. He proposes a military surge instead of a diplomatic surge.

The war cannot be won militarily. The war cannot be won militarily. The war cannot be won militarily. The war cannot be won militarily. The war cannot be won militarily.

No, Bush hasn’t learned from Vietnam, but according to the YouTube embed below, lots of people haven’t

Here’s what I have learned from Vietnam: you don’t enter into a regional civil conflict without knowledge of the culture and background. You send your diplomats in and try and find a solution.

And in the end, even bloodbaths end, people pick up their lives again, and go out and have some ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Help Us Say “Welcome Home Rick!”

You might know, if you truly are paying attention, that Rick Noriega has been off to Commander School these past couple of weeks. Not the best time to take a couple of weeks off but he left the campaign in the capable hands of his wife, Melissa, and his very able campaign manager, former Harris County Democratic Chair Sue Schechter.

But tonight he’s back home and tomorrow he’s off to Austin to attend the Texas Democratic Party’s SDEC hoedown.

I have three things to do on this posting. One, to clear up an ambiguity from the previous posting with regard to Mikal Watt$’ lavish, sumptuous and prolific hospitality suite party for the SDEC members. If you note from the quotation of Mikal’s message to my SDEC member friend, he doesn’t actually mention the day of the party, just the time.

The only clue as to the day it is to take place is that it was going to take place after the “christening of the new building”. Now I come to find out that the “christening” is to take place at 5 o’clock PM on Friday afternoon/evening. I wrote that the party would be on Saturday. I just assumed that it would be on the day of the meeting. Wrong. This caused some consternation among some Noriega bloggers who were confused because they were told that the SDEC members were throwing Rick’s “Meet and Greet” on Friday, not Saturday. I was told that, too, but forgot. Sorry, school startup is on my mind these days. So this makes all the sense in the world (and yes, Mikal’s party does conflict with the party that the SDEC members are throwing for Rick – as he intended it to).

And is it just me or is a boat "christened" and building is "dedicated"? Or is this just another Watts codeword for the evangelicals?

The second is to highlight something that I off-handedly mentioned in yesterday’s post. Have you noticed that in Rick’s case it’s the SDEC members who are throwing a party (albeit a cheaper one) for Rick, but in Watt$’ case, he’s throwing his own party? It’s tough when you have all the money. People expect you to pay for everything. When you don’t have all the money, supporters come out of the woodwork and do what they do best . . support.

Finally, thirdly, the last thing I wanted to do is to do, what I initially set out to do: Welcome Rick back. What better way to do it than ActBlue? Rick’s campaign reached its goal of a $20,000 total at the campaign ActBlue site, so now they’re raising the bar.

Another $5,000 before midnight tonight.

I just slapped down my contribution here. Now listen, people. I am a public school educator in Texas. That means I am one of the worst-paid teachers in the nation. If I can do this, so can you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Watt$ To Grease the Wheels of SDEC Members This Weekend

That’s going to be his modus operandi. Spreading out the campaign cash that he has self-funded to grease some Texas politicians’ wheels, and this time get them greased at the same time. Mikal Watt$ has decided to throw a big party for SDEC members (and his consultant entourage) by hosting a hospitality room at the Hilton this Saturday evening in Austin. This is a regularly scheduled quarterly meeting of the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee to be held all day at the Hilton in Austin this Saturday.

How did I find out about Watt$’ party? He told me. Or rather, an SDEC member let me listen to the script that Watt$ left on his answering machine. That’s right I said script. I know when someone is reading a script because I have done it thousands of times and know how it sounds. Here’s what he said:

“Hey , Mikal Watts running for the US Senate. Hey, that’s not why I’m callin’ the reason I’m callin’ is I know that the SDEC is gettin’ together in Austin this weekend so I wanted to call yew and tell yew that our campaign is opening up a hospitality suite for yew guys . . . uh . . .we’ll open up at the Hilton there . . . uh . . .some time around seven, so that when everybody gets done with the christening of the new building . . . uh . . . we can all talk about all the good things that are happening there . . .uh . . . with the Democrats in Texas and I can git you up to speed on the campaign. I hope you’ll be there and look forward to seeing ya. Good-bye."
Get that? Free booze, probably some hors d’oeuvres, and . . . well . . . hospitality for a bunch of guys who are in town on their own dime – yep, there’s no money in being an SDEC member.

So the SDEC member and I were wondering who would outnumber whom at this hoedown, SDEC Committee members, or Watt$ fawning consultant entourage.

But here’s the real rub. Several SDEC members were going in together to host a “Meet and Greet” for Rick Noriega at the very same time. Hospitality rooms are pricey and they (remember, SDEC members are not paid to do this) decided to just take over the Hilton bar and have everyone come on down, buy some drinks and talk to the best, but not the richest, candidate for US Senate from Texas, Lt. Col and State Rep Rick Noriega.

I suspect that the Watt$ campaign caught wind of this long-planned event and decided to one-up these SDEC members in the best way he knows how, spending campaign cash and buying SDEC supporters.

So here’s what I say the SDEC members should do: go on up to Watt$ suite and meet the guy. Heck, on the phone he sounds like a nice enough guy – maybe the accent is a little forced – but there you go. Go and have a couple of drinks on Watt$ dime and take that second drink downstairs to the Hilton’s main bar where you can finish it, meet Rick, and mix with a true people-powered campaign.

Now if you think that Watt$ is pulling an underhanded ploy in creating this time conflict, why not say so with cash. Rick Noriega needs your monetary support so he can show Texas that the richest candidate for US Senate is not necessarily the best one. Go to ActBlue. Bring money.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Corny Hearts Watt$

I have a theory that I’d like to unfold for you here. I think that of the two Democratic candidates for US Senator from Texas, the two who have filed papers with the FEC, the junior Republican Senator from Texas, John “Corny” Cornyn would much prefer to run against Mikal Watt$ in November.

The idea started gelling as I watched Karl Rove go on three, count ‘em three Sunday news programs and turn questions about who among the Democrats will be the nominee into a deluxe version of Hillary bashing. He wouldn’t say “Boo” about 2nd in the polls Barack Obama. And it dawned on me why he was doing this: Rove, and nearly every Republican I have talked to about this, very much wants the Democratic nominee to be Hillary Clinton, because he thinks she among the field of 8 candidates, is beatable.

Likewise, Corny thinks that Watt$ is beatable.

The Republican hand that will be played if Watt$ is the nominee is the rich-liberal-trial-lawyer-who-drives-up-insurance-rates hand. Republicans just love that play. They’d rather deflect from the issues and go on personal attacks and assaults on personal integrity.

Mainly because on the issues, Republicans are universally holding the short straw.

But don’t just take my word for it. Republican Party of Texas state chair Tina Benkiser just sent out a letter to the party faithful (I didn’t get one) that was excerpted on the Chron Blog.

Benkiser writes:

"When it comes to trial lawyers, what you don't know will hurt you. Take, for instance, Democrat trial lawyer Mikal Watts, who's recently announced his Campaign to defeat our great friend, United States Senator John Cornyn."

"Mikal Watts may be unfamiliar to you now -- but as a liberal trial lawyer who has already spent more than $4 million of his personal fortune on his campaign -- his record proves he's not afraid to go into attack mode, and do or spend whatever it takes to win."

"Consider this:"

"Watts sued one of the world's largest automakers for millions of dollars, claiming that its product had caused serious injuries to occupants of the vehicle." "But when the facts of the case came to light -- Watts' clients had been driving from California to Texas, taking drugs all along the way -- Watts had to move for a mistrial! (source:"

"I'm sure you'll agree the last thing Texas and America needs is another liberal trial lawyer -- armed with flimsy facts and skilled in telling half-truths -- in the U.S. Senate."

See what I mean? This is going to be the play and the Republicans are so enthralled with it that they came out months and months before the primary to give Mikal Watt$ lots and lots of press. Didn’t see Rick Noriega mentioned once, did you?

Corny will never mention Rick Noriega, mark my words. He will promote the candidacy of Mikal Watt$ because he has all the right negatives that are super big red buttons that Republicans push to get you to vote for their candidate.

In the months running up to the primary, you are going to see two groups of people putting Mikal Watt$’ name in front of the voters, the Watts Campaign Committee and the Cornyn Campaign Committee.

Cornyn is toast in a run against Rick Noriega. While a progressive Democrat, Rick Noriega has wide bipartisan appeal. I mentioned here that a Republican Hispanics for Noriega group has formed. Even Bob “Swift Boat” Perry is taken with Rick’s many fine qualities despite the fact that they probably disagree on many issues. Cornyn can’t attack Rick in the same terms as he can Watt$. It’s almost sad. His campaign will have to come up with out-and-out falsehoods and truth-stretching on Rick that will make them look very bad in today’s climate.

Want to tell the Repulicans that we Democrats are perfectly able to decide for ourselves who we want to run in our senatorial primary? Go and get your wallet and take out that credit card and drop a few bucks in Rick Noriega’s ActBlue website. They’re trying to get those numbers up to 20 large in two days. As I type this they have a goal to raise just under $8000 on that site in the next two days. You go be one of those that gets this done.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Yawn . . .Kay Bailey Hutchison MAY Run for Texas Guv

Yep, it’s a fact. Or not. Actually, according to Hutchison, who was recently interviewed last week by Peggy Fikac of the Houston Chronicle, the senior senator from Texas has absolutely no idea what she wants to do next.

Because she has spent quite a few years in public office, Hutchison thinks that she has not done as well financially as she could have, and, get this, is thinking about taking a job in “the private sector”.

When I hear about federal legislators taking jobs in the private sector, I see the word “Lobbyist” in my mind’s eye. But that is history because now, as I understand it, according to recently passed Senate ethics rules a former Senator will have to wait two years after leaving office before taking a job as a lobbyist. A congressman needs only wait one year.

So I guess that’s out. Let’s see, what other high dollar job opportunity could Hutchison try for? She has a law degree so there’s lawyering. But at 64 while she has a law degree, she has no actual experience being a lawyer, and not a lot of time to build up that experience that a high dollar lawyer needs. Outside of adding the name of a former senator to the list of law partners, Kay would be hard-pressed to add value to the firm.

So I’m kind of puzzled where she would find a place in the private sector.

But then there’s governor. Kay polls at about the 65% level across Texas. Nearly double the performance of Perry’s dismal 39%. Being a gubernatorial candidate is doable, I think. Doable, except by 2010 the demographic shift that has begun here in Red Texas will have run to completion and a Democrat will win the next gubernatorial election.

Nope, I agree with political scientist Larry Sabato and Royal Masset, a GOP consultant who, together, said this about Kay Bailey Hutchison’s political future:

“Say it's Hillary and Obama. I doubt the Republicans would want to put forward two white males.

“She's probably the most credible female we have in the nation.”

They have valid points. In putting up a mixed gender ticket Democrats are announcing to the world that they don’t anticipate the negativism of the past. Republicans will have to answer to their womenfolk. From what I have been hearing Republican women are attracted to a Hillary Clinton presidency.

So what does Kay Bailey Hutchison have to say about this possibility
“No. Nooooo. I do not want to be on the ticket for vice president ... I'm not interested in it. I don't want to be asked. There was a time when I thought maybe I would be interested in running for president but not now. I could never run for president with two 6-year-olds. I don't like the toughness and meanness of Washington. I'd rather do something different.”
Besides, Kay, a Republican in the White House in 2009 is not going to happen either.

So let’s see, Vice President and Governor are out, taking a high dollar job as a lawyer? Out. Lobbyist? Not until 2014. This doesn’t leave much to our former cheerleader senator from Texas. There’s hand modeling, but at 64 the hands probably have seen their better days.

Actually I have the perfect job for Kay. Want chips and a drink with that?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

TEA’s School Ratings Have Come Out

Well actually they have been out for a couple of weeks but I haven’t had much time or inclination to look at them. I look every year to discover how many Texas high schools achieve the much desired “Exemplary” rating. As we gear up for a new school year, it’s time to take a look at what happened last year.

Last year, as I recall an astounding 13 total high school campuses achieved that rating. This was a huge drop from the previous year. That is because the Texas Education Agency decided to change the rules up. Schools are rated by test scores and drop out rates, but on top of that, they are rated on the percentage who pass within certain demographic groups: African-American, Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged, a couple of others. If a school has 50 students within any of these groups, the group is treated as a sub-population, and if high numbers of students within the sub-population fail to master TAKS tests, the school’s rating is lowered. This new provision caused many schools across Texas to lose their Exemplary rating.

This year, the number of schools in Texas that achieved the Exemplary rating doubled over last year. By my count, 26. This is no doubt due to the fact that the TEA is not basing their ratings on high school drop out ratings this year.

Why, one would ask?

Well, like the sub-populations change, the TEA will be redefining what constitutes a high school drop out, and maybe they didn’t want to alarm the schools with another sudden definition change that can radically affect their ratings like last time. So they’re giving schools a year off so they can prepare for the changes that are in the air.

So who are the Exemplary schools in Texas? I have a list below. It is very disheartening when you read through the list that the grand majority of these schools are magnet schools that cherry pick their students or whose students are economically disadvantaged but motivated and are volunteers. I may have omitted a school or two based on the fact that the name did not readily identify the school as a high school.

Arlington Classics Academy
Carnegie Vanguard High School
Carroll Senior High School
Cornerstone Academy
Debakey High School For Health Prof
Early College High School
Early College High School
East Early College High School
Falls City High School
Health Careers High School
High Frontier High School
Highland Park High School
Idea College Prep
Lindsay High School
Lovejoy High School
Mission Early College High School
Prairie Valley High School
Richland Collegiate Hs Of Math S
Richland Collegiate Hs Of Math Sc
School For The Talented & Gifted
School Of Health Professions
School Of Science & Engineering
Silva Health Magnet
The Science Academy
Yes College Preparatory - East E
Yes College Preparatory School

Bush’s SMU Presidential Library, An Idea Whose Time Has Come

There has been this wild disconnect about SMU’s pitch to Dubya for him to build his presidential library on their campus. When I first heard about it, it was because of the emergence of a group that was opposed to the library on political and philosophical grounds. As seen last year in Texas Monthly about a story in the Dallas Morning News which carried a a quote from faculty, administrators, and staff of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology:

“We count ourselves among those who would regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends.”
There was that and the controversial alleged bullying that went on with regard to owners of University Gardens condominiums which were standing on land that SMU needed in order to build the library. This continuing controversy appears to be the origin of the release of secret SMU documents, documents that have been read and analyzed by the Dallas Morning News. Documents that finally reveal why SMU ever thought that having the Bush library on its campus was a grand idea at all, especially in light of the thoughts and opinions of those who work on the campus.

These documents are a behind the scenes glimpse of SMU’s early desire for a Bush library, and how it gathered political and social connections to carry out their plan, including using Dallas oil millionaire Ray Hunt of Hunt Oil Company. Hunt is an SMU alumnus as well as a current sitting board member of the SMU Board of Trustees. It was at a private dinner at the White House in early 2001 that the idea of a presidential library at SMU was broached with Bush.

That SMU is continuing its heavy handed effort to attract the Bush library to its campus is astounding considering the apparent widespread opposition to the library by faculty members and the apparent misuse of eminent domain to acquire the land upon which the University Gardens condominiums are built upon.

In retrospect, however, you have to conclude that SMU is the perfect site for the Bush library. What is more appropriate than to carry out a project in spite of the fact that the people so vociferously oppose it? What better place to build it except upon land stolen from private citizens by heavy-handed bullying tactics? What better place to put it than in an urban setting on a postage stamp sized piece of land (10 acres) instead of Baylor University’s proffered 150 sprawling acres on the banks of the Brazos River?

SMU is a perfect place for George W. Bush’s presidential library. It captures the spirit of the Bush Regime like no other place does.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

An Open Letter to Mikal Watts

Dear Mikal,

I just wanted to let you know that today the Fort Bend Democrats held a very successful fundraiser in the form of our annual garage sale. We received thousands of donated items from Democrats across the county and spent the previous 3 days furiously sorting, pricing and putting them on display for today’s sale.

Shoppers at first trickled in with the dawn, but as the morning progressed we were truly deluged with customers, and later a midsummer rain shower. But never fear, we Democrats learn from our past mistakes and this time held our garage sale indoors with the A/C a-roaring and fans a-blowing and a roof protecting the whole thing. So we stayed cool and dry.

As I say, Democrats learn from our past mistakes. Can anyone spell T-O-N-Y S-A-N-C-H-E-Z?

Anyway, as much as we raked it in, and as many customers who showed up to throw their money at us, we still have lots and lots of good stuff to sell. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to sell all the stuff we have, and at great prices, I might add.

So we decided to close it up and advertise for a repeat event next Saturday.

But you know, we are dead tired. We’ve been working for 4 days straight to get this thing put together and accomplished, and now we are faced with another day this next weekend (Saturday, August 25th 8 AM (hopefully, this time) to 3 PM). We’re tired and could use a little help. So here is what I am going to propose. How about getting that checkbook of yours out and writing a check to the Fort Bend Democrats, a check for . . . say . . . 10 large? If you do that then what we will do is take the whole kit and caboodle of highly saleable goods down to the Fort Bend Women’s Center, who maintains a thrift store to help fund their Women’s Shelter. It’s a Win-Win-Win situation. You’d be doing us a favor, you’d be doing the battered and abused women of Fort Bend County a favor, and you’d put a feather in the cap of your campaign. It would be worth some ink in the local press, don’t you think?

I’ll bet it would get more notice than buying roast beef lunches for Democrats in Victoria.

By the way, and as an aside. Strong hint for the future, to save cash: Democrats will gladly accept a tepid hot dog on a white bread bun slathered with mustard and relish. You don’t have to go overboard with them. Democrats think a hot roast beef lunch is more appropriate for a wake.

Another Bush Accomplishment: Back To the Bad Old Days

Remember when The Wall came down? It was 1992 and all of a sudden the Cold War was over. We won without very many shots fired.

Well guess what? While the Bush Regime was sleeping at the switch, Russia decided to reinstitute that grand old tradition of launching nuclear missile armed strategic bomber patrols once more.

The first since the program was closed in 1992.

Said Vladimir Putin of the resumption of these patrols:

“We proceed from the notion that our partners will react with understanding to the resumption of flights of the Russian strategic air forces. Our pilots have sat idle for too long. We have had a strategic air force but practically no flights.”

Why now?

What would cause the Russians to resume patrols by nuclear-armed bombers?

Most would laugh this off as a feeble attempt by a second-class nuclear power’s saber rattling. I have other ideas, however. Iran lies on Russia’s southern border, and the Bush Regime has made no bones about the fact that there is a desire to bomb this nation into subservience. Perhaps this is a message, a not-so-subtle message, that carrying out this Iranian attack would be an incredibly bad idea.

Do ya think?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Vultures Flocking To Pick Over GOP’s Texas CD-22 Seat

Oh Thank you, Jesus! Now we truly have a feast on our hands. State Rep. Robert “Crazy Bob” Talton has just filed papers with the FEC informing the world of his intention to run for US Congress next year.

GOPers were really upset that they lost Tom DeLay’s seat to a Democrat last year, so much so that Karl Rove put Texas CD-22 at the top of his list of districts to target in the 2008 elections.

Oh, that’s right, Karl Who? The guy who shared Jack Abramoff’s assistant, I think.

One has to wonder which of the crowded field will CD-22 Republican stalwarts throw in for.

Will it be Crazy Bob? Here is his congressional campaign website. Of the bunch, I’d say he will be the personal and political favorite of the DeLay base here in CD-22.

Will it be Dean Hrbacek (pronounced Her-BAH-check as I found out yesterday). The guy who has established an exploratory committee, but apparently has spent some money on a telephone push poll.

What about Judge James “Reverend Jim” Squier? This Houston judge, I hear, is a real nutcase. A family court judge who counsels divorcing couples to make up and make nice because Jesus wants it.

Then we have Pasadena Mayor John Manlove. Manlove. Can you imagine DeLay’s Blue Hair Patrol matriarchs voting for a guy whose very own surname makes GLBT members smile?

Or how about Pete Olsen? John Cornyn’s former chief of staff? Yep, that’s what I thought. Pete Who?

And finally, what about the campaign fund front runner? Silly Shelley Sekula Dragonc—t Rodriguez Gibbs? What the heck, the woman has 180 large in her campaign coffers and has actually never stopped campaigning for the job that she won for a month before having to give it up to a Democrat.

Six candidates to choose from. Six. What a feast.

Hey, that reminds me of a little show that mother nature put on for me a couple of weeks back in my own neighborhood. There were six of them then, too, as I recall. Half Empty prediction: it’s going to look pretty much like this:

Gretchen Gives to Rick Noriega’s Campaign

I am a mere vessel.

Today Gretchen, a full and faithful member of the Fort Bend Democrats asked how she could contribute to Rick Noriega’s senatorial campaign fund. We were working around a table pricing the goods that we hope to sell this Saturday, see previous posting for time and place, and I gladly took her cash money.

I just took that and turned it into the 279th contribution on the DraftRickNoriega’s ActBlue Account.

You can too.

It’s here.

Or lots of places. One thing you can’t ding the Noriega campaign is a lack of places to donate campaign contributions. They are experts there.

They have to be. They are running against a dollar-charged juggernaut. Mikal Watts, his very undesirable, unwinnable opponent, who is self-funded. Absolutely, he has the money and is attracting all sorts of consultants who want to shove Rick’s candidacy aside. He can’t win, they say, because he hasn’t the funding. Well, I just say, wait awhile Mike. Wait awhile and watch the most amazing grassroots effort that nullifies your millions, Mike.

Dollars don’t win elections, Mike, voters do. Want to buy votes? Run for county commissioner. Don’t waste our time with your roast beef lunches, we can eat. Don’t waste our time with your candidacy. We can see through your disingenuousness. Do you honestly want us to vote so that women have no choice over the disposition of their own bodies? Are you insane?

There is only one solution to a Mikal Watts Democratic senatorial bid and that is a Rick Noriega vote. If you agree, and haven’t given yet, please contribute, as Gretchen has this evening. Please go to the ActBlue site and ACT BLUE.

Let’s get Rick Noriega on the November ballot for US Senator from Texas!

The ONLY candidate who can show John Cornyn the door.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rick Perry Comes To Sugar Land, Signs Controversial “Religious Freedom” Bill

It was a media circus. Surrounded by young school children, Rick Perry, in the presence of religious rights parents and evangelical neoconservative State Rep Charlie Howard, signed HB 3678, a bill reviewed here earlier this year, that guarantees that school administrators cannot interfere with religious expression of its students.

Of the event, and the bill, Charlie Howard said”

"What it does is create a win-win situation for the schoolchildren, school administrators and the taxpayers of the state of Texas.. Many school districts across the state have been sued by parents after children were prohibited from talking about their faith, saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or handing out religious Valentine's Day cards.”

Actually, what it does is put Texas, again, in the national limelight as the state that will introduce religious doctrine in its public schools. Again, making Texas the laughingstock of the nation.

Way to go, Charlie.

Why choose Clements High School as the venue for this signing? Has the school had any religious rights cases filed against it? No. Is the school known for its religious intolerance? Hardly likely. Is the school within Charlie Howard’s legislative district boundaries? Definitely.

But more to the point, is a public school a viable venue for a political showcase? If so, this should make an interesting precedent. Clements High School Young Democrats, if they exist, need to take note.

A storm is brewing on this issue that will not go away. At FortBendNow, Bob Dunn has revealed the disconnect between what is public law and what is public policy. The Texas Association of School Boards, or TASB, has issued a policy statement on how local school boards should implement the law. That policy, apparently, is at variance with the policy that is written in the bill. However, one needs to ask, as did FBISD Trustee Cynthia Knox last Monday evening, is the legislature empowered to enact policy or to enact laws? Isn’t it the purview of local school boards to formulate and carry out policy and not blindly follow policy enacted in distant Austin? Law is global, but policy should be local. Isn’t that the Texas way?

Much ado over a few bruised egos. Everything in the bill has already been spelled out by Supreme Court decisions. What should have been a 15 minute presentation in every faculty meeting at every campus in Texas has become public law as well as a staring contest between bill sponsors Howard and Wayne Chisum and the school boards across Texas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fort Bend Democrats Summer Fundraiser: Gigantic Garage Sale

Do you have a bunch of stuff sitting around that you no longer want or use? Why not turn that into cash to be used when the Fort Bend Democrats come out of the woodwork to support good Democratic candidates next year?

The Fort Bend Democrats 2nd Annual Garage Sale will be held this Saturday, August 18th at the 2006 Combined Campaign Headquarters at 4800 Avenue H, Highway 90A in Rosenberg. The event will last from 9 am until 3 pm.

If you have things that you’d like to donate, do come on in between Wednesday August 15th and Friday August 17th and drop them off between 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Someone will be there at the Headquarters to accept your donations, rain or shine.

Or if you have large items that you would like to donate, but can’t fit them in your Honda Civic, give them a call. Call Marsha at 281-701-3007 before Friday and she will send her minions around in a truck to pick up your donations.

All funds they raise will go toward electing Democrats in 2008.

The Fort Bend Democrats – Fighting for YOU.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Day In Hill Country

Normally I write all my own stuff on this blog, but once in awhile someone goes where I did not go, and writes up a little story. Geri did it for me in the last campaign season. And now I have another guest blogger who wrote an excellent summary of Hillary Clinton’s campaign stop in Houston last Saturday.

Here’s what Sue wrote:

I’ve lived in Fort Bend County long enough to know I shouldn’t be sharing this but…………what the hell, in my youth I visited the edge once or twice………why not now?

So here goes.

Yesterday Karl and I joined some friends on a short trek into the big city (where, thanks to Anthony we had some GREAT Greek food) and were lucky enough, thanks to Karrie, to have tickets to see Hillary (yes THE Hillary) on her Houston stump. We were in a great place, but she moved around a lot so my photos were somewhat blurry. I have attached three that came out okay.

While the pre-show entertainment was somewhat lacking, the room was electric and we joined around 1,000 other people who were, for the most part, responsible for designating Houston, ‘Hill Country’. I actually saw two daring people in the audience wearing Obama t-shirts, but, I’m sure most of the crowd (unlike me) had already decided that the next President of the U.S. will be a woman. A Democrat(ic) woman.

I know, I know. People generally have very strong opinions about her. Here in Fort Bend County, they think she is evil personified, but I have to tell you that she was incredible. She said all the right things. Her timing was on target, as was her sense of humor and her sense of justice. She really moved the crowd.

While I truly believe that Hillary has the best shot at being elected, I am now pumped and ready to hear Obama and Edwards. I’ll keep you posted!

Rick Noriega’s Latest Campaign Ad

It’s just out. Rick Noriega, running for US Senator from Texas, has a new ad that relates what I have called “his story”. It is a story of his public service. A story of a desire to approach issues in a bipartisan manner. It’s a good story and I think it will play well with lots of people across Texas and across party lines. If you like what you hear, spread the word. And if you REALLY like what you hear, help out the campaign at ActBlue with a donation.

Houston Has A Redneck In It

No, I swear it’s true. In the City of Houston there is a guy who doesn’t like peace. Probably doesn’t like people who aren’t white. And apparently has a real bee in his bonnet over Zydeco music. Well, maybe not that last one.

The Chron reports this morning that early this morning, about 1 AM according to the folks there, a bullet was fired into a studio window at the local radio station KPFT. According to KPFT, the bullet was fired from a passing car, hit the plexiglass part of the window, pierced the glass portion of the window and then slammed into the control room door on the far side of the room.

Police are looking for the bullet this morning.

No one was hurt, but the bullet passed within 18 inches of a woman’s head.

As a probable motive for the attack, station general manager Duane Bradley offered that “the sometimes-controversial station airs blues, folk and other types of music as well as ‘alternative’ programming about gay and lesbian issues and a program geared toward Texas prison inmates and their families.”

Bradley continued:
"There was actually a Zydeco music show that was on when this happened. Zydeco, if anything, is kind of happy music."
Most probably, the perpetrator had heard something on the show that he didn’t like, and decided to put redneck thoughts to redneck action.

You just know that unless a miracle happens the crime will go unpunished, but it makes me wonder whether, if caught, the criminal would be charged under the Hate Crimes law.

Karl Rove Bails

According to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, George Bush’s longtime political strategist, is resigning at the end of this month.

“I just think it's time. There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family.”

Now that you put it that way all of this makes complete sense.

Rove, 56, is still married to his second wife, his former employee, Darby Tara Hickson and they have one son, Andrew, 18.

So what do you do after being a political hack all of your adult life, and rise to the absolute zenith of political hackery, political advisor to the president? I guess we’ll find out someday.

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out Carl baby.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

On Reinstituting the Draft: “Makes Sense to Consider It”

I teach older high school students here in Texas – 17 to 18 year olds. So when it gets announced in class that so-and-so has a birthday, I ask “Are you 18?” Getting the affirmative reply, I kindly remind them to register for the draft.

You still have to register, you know, for the Selective Service System’s involuntary military service, even though our Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force are all-volunteer.

Why keep it going?

It’s for, you know, just in case.

Just in case our troops are so exhausted from 2 and 3 tours in Iraq that in order to keep up the pressure there for years and years, we need to reinstitute the draft. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting this . This guy is. Bush’s War Czar, Lt. General Douglas E. Lute said on the 10th that reinstituting the draft has “’always been an option on the table’ and that it ‘makes sense to certainly consider it.’”

Do I smell a rat?

Is Bush’s top advisor on the wars in the Middle East flying something up the flagpole?

The idea is not a new one. Charlie Rangel suggested this very thing last January. Why? To get people of all political stripes off their collective behinds and stand up to oppose this endless war. No one wants their sons and daughters collected up, trained up and sent over to that meat grinder. Especially if the war is, as we all know now, based on lies. Rangel is adamant. Give the rich a chance to show their patriotism. “For those who say the poor fight better, I say give the rich a chance.”

Besides that, if we reinstitute the draft, we can open up yet a third front in the Middle East. We can go after Iran.

Better yet, we can draft millions of our youth into military service and take out the rest of the world. Why not? No one likes us all that much anymore.

Better yet, let’s keep them all home and Drop the Big One.

If Women Were In Charge

I am going to catch a lot of flack about this, but I swear it was a woman who sent me these photographs. I assure you it is all tongue-in-cheek.

What with Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic pack with an unheard of 48% of the vote in a recent Gallup/US News poll, we of the male species need to now start thinking of a world where males don’t call the shots. I am all in favor of bi-gendership in all of this, but I am sure that there are those whose thoughts, views and opinions have been suppressed for so many years will see this as huge payback time. That being the case in some situations, I give you a series of photos of a possible future . . . if women were in charge.

A bowling alley of the future. Who needs those gutters, anyway? The ball keeps falling into them.

Need a new car? Here’s the only criterion that matters.

A new computer peripheral device that is sorely needed.

Special drivers need special parking places.

Numbers are meaningless when you just want to know how fast is fast.

Handy dandy tool kit.

And here are two for bathroom politics. By the way, at Half Empty House, not only does the seat go back down, but so does the lid, too.

Self explanatory.

And finally, this one. I could never find it either. This fixes a long unsolved mystery.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Justicia, Tierra, y Libertad

My friend Mark pointed to a website that I don’t usually look at. The Late Nite Music Club at “Crooks and Liars”. Why’d he do that? Because last night Rick Noriega “hosted” it. It was such a great story that it bears reposting and repeating for others of us who don’t usually go there.

Basically the purpose of the posting was for Rick to suggest a song that the website would feature that evening. Rick’s choice, after ticking through a few, was Mana’s “Justicia, tierra, y libertad”. “Justice, land and freedom“ to us gringos.

Why this particular one?

“Justicia, Tierra y Libertad” was a song Rick and two other Houston area state reps, Joe E. Moreno and Jessica Farrar, always used to listen to while driving from Houston to Austin during the Tom DeLay redistricting fiasco in the Texas redistricting session.

In the Reps’ own words: “While I was in Afghanistan Joe died in an auto accident. It was like losing a best friend and a brother but I was in a combat zone and couldn’t get back to bury him. This was the song we shared.”

As at Crooks and Liars, the YouTube embed follows Rick’s story.

Now, again, for us gringos, here is a (rather poor) translation of the lyrics. My apologies in advance for butchering up the song with AltaVista’s translation, and my “fixing” it.

Justicia, tierra, y libertad
By Mano

Justice, land and freedom… Justice, land and freedom

You hear my song, óyelo, óyelo
You hear my weeping, óyelo, óyelo

“Brothers and sisters of other races…
of another color and a same heart
"you say and you say and nothing you straighten
for that reason we make the revolution, of love.


We are demanding all the respect
respect for the Indian and his dignity
Villa already said it, Zapata said it

Justice, land and freedom… Justice, land and freedom

You hear my song, óyelo, óyelo
You hear my weeping, óyelo, óyelo

You hear my song, óyelo, óyelo
You hear my weeping, óyelo, óyelo

How we would have freedom?
How we would have dignity?
How I would wish it
How I would wish the love…

When will we have democracy?
When will we knock down the bureaucracy
How much would I wish ?
Less madness and more love…

Love, pain, love, my song hears you.

Justice, land and freedom… Justice, land and freedom

Justice, land and freedom

Rick’s away at Fort Benning for Commander training for awhile. If you liked Rick’s choice go drop a few pesos at this ActBlue web page.

Truth and Lies

Watch this YouTube embed of then private citizen Dick Cheney being brutally frank about his participation in the first Gulf War. Everything, and I mean EVERYthing that has occurred in the War in Iraq was predicted by Dick Cheney 13 years ago. He also predicted what will occur when we leave: fragmentation of Iraq. A “quagmire”.

This isn’t an administration that went blindly to war without a clue as to what was going to happen. They knew exactly what would happen.

And then here’s this next one again from earlier this year. I thought it would be good to look at it once again in light of what Cheney said in 1994.

If we don’t have grounds for impeachment now, we never will.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lawyers For Guantanamo Detainees File Suit: New FISA Law Is Unconstitutional

Well, the good news is that about 50 lawsuits have been filed in federal court against Bush’s new warrantless wiretap law. The problem has been one of standing. Suits that are filed need to prove some actual harm or injury. You have to have standing to file such a lawsuit. Well, now we have at least one. And it’s a good one.

The lawsuit filed yesterday in US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s court is by the lawyers who are defending Guantanamo Bay detainees. It is in response to a suit filed by government lawyers on Wednesday saying that the new law is now legal ground for the judge to toss out the detainees’ lawsuit. Their lawsuit was filed after learning that the government obtained evidence on the detainees through warrantless wiretapping. Now that it’s the law of the land, the government argues, the detainees’ lawsuit can be tossed.

That gives the detainees standing.

The lawyers will also argue in their lawsuit that the Protect America Act is unconstitutional.

Arguments will be heard next week by a 3 judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

So we have good news on this finally. I have felt very rotten since learning that my rights were handed over to Bush et al. so the political cartoons that I have been seeing in that regard have not been funny to me. Now I can look at them with new eyes and at least smile.

Here they are.

Greg Abbott: “We need to be prepared for a closer, tighter, tougher battle”

It’s in the Galveston County Daily News, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott isn’t talking about the War in Iraq, either (although it’s related). He’s talking about the looming battle for Texas.

Addressing a packed house on Galveston Island, the Galveston Island Pachyderm Club, Abbott revealed his fears of a growing Democratic presence in Texas, particularly in the cities with large populations, citing in particular, Dallas. Last year, in Dallas and Travis County, Democrats swept Republicans out of every single office where there was a race. Abbott cites white flight as the reason, and claims that it will continue to occur, in particular in Houston.

Ticking off more woes for his failing party, Abbott listed the fact that the Hispanic population in Tejas is growing but that this is “a group that has traditionally voted Democratic”.

Then there’s Iraq.

And Bush.

What did he leave out? What about how royally pissed of the Latino community is over Republican rhetoric on illegal immigrants, especially with regard to the word “Amnesty”.

What about the continued migration of blue state Yankees into Texas?

And finally, what about the top of next year’s ballot? No one currently running for the Republican nomination appeals to Bushites. Republicans may have a Get Out The Vote issue next year.

But it’s the end of the article that is particularly appealing. Here we have Greg Abbott addressing a crowd in what he assumes to be a “rock-solid Republican county”, when what he might have wanted to do was find out who were the current Galveston County office holders. Republicans hold only a third of the countywide offices, and only one Republican is on the Galveston County commissioner’s court.

Compared to Fort Bend County – also known as DeLayville – Galveston County is colored purplish blue.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Republicans For Rick Noriega ?

Seriously? That’s what I saw today in the Rio Grande Guardian (hat tip to Stace at Dos Centavos). Today Houston business leader Massey Villarreal announced that he is forming a “Republicans for Rick Noriega” committee to support Rick Noriega’s campaign for US Senate from Texas. This is a guy who was the national Hispanic vice-chairman of the Bush/Cheney for President Campaign and deputy vice-chairman of the Republican National Convention in 2000. He is supporting Mitt Romney for president, and voted for Kay Bailey Hutchison for Senate.

But for US senate, Villarreal is supporting progressive Democrat Rick Noriega over his own party’s incumbent, John Cornyn.

In my perusal of the RGG’s story, I conclude that there are two reasons why Massey Villarreal is supporting Rick, and organizing a support committee from the Dark Side. It all boils down to a single issue, and Rick’s compelling story.

From the man’s own mouth:

“I have told Senator Cornyn I am disappointed because what his words are, and what his actions on the Senate floor are, are two different things,” Villarreal said.

“It’s disappointing he voted for those [immigration bill] amendments. Those amendments were mean-spirited in nature. I believe he is appealing to the base and I’m sorry, the base will have to come out strong to re-elect him because the Latino community won’t be there for him.”
Not so amazingly, just as the immigration issue has divided the Republican Party, the very same issue is uniting the Latino community across party lines. Politics make strange bedfellows, and when a politician becomes so intimately associated with politics and policies that border on (pun intended) racist, that association begets very strange alliances.

Alliances that are welcome, nonetheless.

The other very revealing thing that sheds light on this endorsement is that Villarreal mentions Rick’s “story”. Told time and time again, it still sounds great, and Massey Villarreal put an interesting spin on it in his version:

“’He’s been elected five times to the Texas Legislature. Rick has a high ranking in the National Guard. He has actually served in Afghanistan. He’s still picking sand out of his bellybutton. He has the experience of being on the ground instead of a politician on this side who cannot even find Iraq on a map,’ Villarreal said.”
Picking sand out of his belly button?

This jives very well with the Bob Perry story I mentioned some time ago on this blog. Perry also admires Rick’s inclination toward public service. Bob Perry has called Rick Noriega a “hero”.

Now I feel very certain that the Watts campaign is going to try to spin this in a very ugly way – that Rick Noriega is actually an elephant in donkey’s clothing, or that he’s going to be beholden to Republicans if he is elected. How can I feel so certain? It’s what I would do if the shoe were on the other foot.

No, Watts just needs to realize, as Massey Villarreal has, as more and more Texans are realizing every day, that Noriega is the better man.

Kinky Friedman Finally Gets It Right

Now those 547,674 Texas voters who wasted their votes for Kinky Friedman last year, and gave him enough material to write himself another book can all take solace in the fact that Kinky finally got it right. Quoted in the Austin American-Statesman:

“Had I run as a Democrat last time, I think (Gov.) Rick Perry would already be (out of office as) a lobbyist for a cigar company.”


Had Kinky run as a Democrat in the March 2006 primary his clock would have been supremely cleaned and Chris Bell would now be Governor Bell. Not only that, school buses would not be allowed to sit at idle all day in school parking lots and community college employees would have health insurance.

And who knows what else? Maybe we would not have a right wing religious reactionary as chairman of the state school board. Maybe tens of thousands of school children wouldn’t be subjected to saying the words “under God” twice each weekday morning (does anyone besides me think that “one state and indivisible” or “one nation indivisible” makes far more sense?).

Well, he’s got maybe 2 and a half years to think it over, figure out how much he can make writing a book about his second failed attempt to become governor of Texas. Then, if he decides to run again maybe he can hire Kelly Fero as his consultant as Fero seems to be the only person in sight that thinks it’s a grand idea.