Friday, November 30, 2007

Xerox Has a Thank The Troops Project (Free Service!)

Hey I have something for you to do this weekend.

Xerox, the corporation that brought you harried copier technicians who have jobs for life, is doing something nice for our troops in harm's way. They are sending them thank you cards. Go here and join the rest of us to thank our troops for doing what has to be the hardest job in the long history of the military: trying to succeed in a war of choice, fighting and dying for the failed policies of the worst United States President (and his cronies) . . . ever.

Hey, it doesn't matter if you support the war or not, so if you are a Half Empty Hater (yes, they are out there and they come back often) who can't get enough of my rants, you go there, too. Heck, if you support this foul war then it is especially incumbent upon you to tell the soldier that you are selected for how much you appreciate his/her sacrifice.

And if you are as passionately against this war as I am, then YOU need to go and tell the troops how much you appreciate their service, and how you fervently hope and pray for their safe and soon return.

Just do it.

Bye-Bye Exploration Committee; Hello Senate Campaign

It has been a long haul since Richard Morrison’s seminal blog posting urging Rick Noriega to run for US Senate – to be the first Democrat to take back a Texas statewide seat from the wheezing and flagging Republican Party. A long time gone by and a long row has been hoed.

And a longer one to come.

But at 7:30 AM on Monday December 3rd, Rick Noriega’s campaign will be having a grand sendoff party at the Taqueria Del Sol Hall, 8118 Park Place Boulevard, Houston (just east of Gulf Freeway & Broadway Street). Friends and elected officials will be there to share breakfast and a few stories, then send Rick off to Austin where he will walk into the headquarters of the Texas Democratic Party and file the papers necessary to put his name on the primary ballot for the election in March 2008.

Said the campaign spokesman:

“He will speak to supporters and present the requisite paperwork at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters. State party Chairman Boyd Richie will receive the filing papers, and state and local leaders who support Noriega’s bid for Senate will stand alongside him.”

The primary was all set to be a very hotly contested race between two contenders, Lt. Col and State Rep. Rick Noriega of Texas House District 145, and personal injury trial lawyer Mikal Watts, who was going to personally fund nearly all of his campaign expenses.

That contest will never happen, as Watts withdrew from the race when his name and law practice became intricately intertwined with the business of Mauricio Celis, whose name appeared in the news in some fairly bizarre circumstances, and who continues to have a hard time keeping his name out of the news.

Noriega’s other competition also bailed. Emil Reichstadt, a Dallas-based lawyer has opted out of the Senate race, and has set his sights on a local State House seat.

Currently Rick faces a new Democratic challenger, a 17-year veteran social studies teacher by the name of Ray McMurrey. As a fellow teacher, I have to ask myself just how McMurrey is going to find time to get on the campaign trail, unless we are talking sabbatical or leave of absence here. My advice to McMurrey: go for it, but aim lower. I know, with a Mick name it is going to be difficult if not impossible to win a race in south Texas because your surname doesn’t end in a vowel, but hey, Rick’s name does.

Think about that.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bud Childers Unrecusing Himself?

Can you actually do that?

Fort Bend County voters went to some lengths to elect Bud “Do It Right” Childers to County Court-At-Law #1 last year. While Childers never set foot in a courtroom for the purpose of trying a case, somehow voters overlooked that and voted Childers, the candidate who said he would “do it right” by a few percentage points over his experienced Democratic trial lawyer opponent.

Then after a high profile crime where a student of Needville High School admitted to setting a fire to intentionally burn two buildings on the Needville campus, Childers displayed his expertise by recusing himself from hearing a motion on whether the boy should be tried as an adult.

From FortBendNow, here is why he did that:

“Childers recused himself from the case after receiving what he said were several emails and letters asking him to certify that the boy should be tried as an adult."

Childers said that he was getting too much emotionally-charged advice on how he should rule, and even mentioned that he was threatened by a Needville ISD administrator.

So you recuse yourself when you get people telling you how you should rule on a motion? Are you kidding? How bush league is that? As a judge, you just tell all those people to stop that because what they are doing is illegal. And if the story is true about the administrator, he should have been made to visit the inside of one of our county’s under-utilized facilities. What, did he have photos?

So now that visiting judge Dennis Watson of Montgomery County has done Childers’ dirty work and ruled to try the boy as a boy, Bud wants his case back. Because now he somehow thinks that a reason for recusing yourself from a case just suddenly vanishes?

That County Attorney Healey is not anxious to try this case in Childers’ court speaks volumes for his regard for his fellow Republican and former colleague.

I don’t think Bud has thought this one through. Wouldn’t this be a strong argument for overturning any decision made in Childers’ court on this case? It’s an appeal made in heaven that the boy’s attorney must be slobbering over as I write this.

Hopefully sanity will return to this process, and Childers can watch the case from the sidelines, just as he has done in the past.

Oh, and I have a new campaign slogan for Bud Childers’ next run for office, any office.

"Get it Right".

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fort Bend Republicans In a Love Fest

Last night something remarkable happened, 59 Republican precinct chairs went into the same room together at the County’s Travis Building in Richmond, Texas, and no one was maligned. Remarkable? Or was it to be expected?

It certainly was a remarkable exercise in democracy in action. 58 precinct chairs voted for who should replace Gary Gillen until the primary in March ’08. 35 of the 58, or 60%, voted for Rick Miller, who was going to run against Gary Gillen in the March election. The rest voted for Vice Chairman Linda Howell.

There was one abstention.

Now I did the numbers, and Fort Bend County has 140 precincts. And if you take account of the vacant precinct chairs, 52 in all, that means there are 88 Republican precinct chairs in Fort Bend County. But only 59, or 67% of them actually turned up to vote for their chairman.

So where was everyone else on this singular evening of being a Republican precinct chair in Fort Bend County? Why did twenty-nine people stay home?

The answer lies in how peaceful the meeting was. The 59 attendees represented the neoconservative evangelical branch of the Republican party, and they split their votes between their friends, or maybe their churches, who knows? Moderates stayed home because there was not a chance in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks that their numbers would do anything other than displace air in the courtroom last night.

So no one was maligned, no name calling, no angst was suffered because when you get a bunch of neocon evangelicals in a room all you have is a roomful of love, stale perfume, and dyed hair. Oh, and blind hate.

That’s the way it’s going to be for awhile, I think. While the whole country, and even parts of Red Texas is participating in the Blue Revolution, here in Fumin’ and Fightin’ Fort Bend, the County Republican Party has just shifted to the right, and now find themselves somewhere on the political spectrum between Genghis Khan and David Duke.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Religion, Muhammad, and Flogging A Teacher

Oh man I thought they only hated teachers in America, in Texas. In Sudan it appears that their hatred of teachers runs deep. And in Sudan, they’re really kind of strict.


Here, if you accuse one of your students of cheating or plagiarism, that generally gets you a few hall conferences with an Assistant Principal, and a few phone conversations with irritable parents who want to do anything else but talk to “a stupid teacher”. Here, if you are accused of inappropriate behavior towards a student, that ends your career, but you get to live on unscathed.

In Sudan, it seems, if you and your 7-year old students agree to name a teddy bear Muhammad, well if you do that, it gets you a flogging.

40 lashes to be exact.

I swear it’s true. I saw it in the Houston Chronicle.

It seems that Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year old veteran British primary school teacher who teaches at a posh private school in Khartoum brought a teddy bear to class for her pupils to adopt. Children were to take the teddy bear home on weekends and write about what they did with it. The class named the teddy bear “Muhammad” after opting between that name, Abdullah, and Hassan.

The most common male name in Islam is Muhammad, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer, right?

Wrong. It seems that Sudan has a religion abuse law on the books that generally forbids such iconoclastic acts as giving “an animal” the name of the Prophet Muhammad, blessed be his name. It’s insulting to their sensibilities.

The crime is punishable by up to 6 months in prison, a fine, or up to 40 lashes of the whip.

The school has been closed for a week until the furor subsides, and Ms. Gibbons is being held under arrest.

There's a lot more to the story and I encourage you to go and read all about it. But I just need to ask the question that needs asking: has anyone stopped to think that Gibbons’ class did not give the blessed name of the Prophet Muhammad to an animal? They didn’t, did they? They gave the name to an inanimate object. They gave it to a representation of an animal, but if you stop and think about it, this representation doesn’t even bear a close resemblance to your run of the mill grizzly bear (the teddy bear was originally a toy that commemorated Teddy Roosevelt’s bagging of a grizzly bear). See? Compare left to right.

But we’re talking Sudan, here, and perhaps it does not compute, in their minds, that a teddy bear is a loveable huggable toy, and not an animal per se. And it probably did not occur to them that naming the stuffed toy Muhammad was the equivalent of naming it “John” in the West. Not when you can make a religious point, and get an opportunity to flog a teacher.

After all, aren’t we talking about the same government that brought the Darfur genocide to the world? The government that has let 200,000 of its own people be starved and slaughtered?

When you take all that into account, it all makes perfect sense.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday’s Political Potpourri

It’s Monday and that usually means that I post the best of the Texas Progressive Alliance in the traditional Monday Round-Up. Usually. But hey, I was busy so I have to do this the old fashioned way and write something brilliant today all by myself.

Except I can’t focus on any one thing today, so today it is going to be a "Political Potpourri".

Potpourri, for the few of you who don’t know, is a fancy word for mishmash. It’s French. So if you want to see what my brain looks like today, read on.

Today we learned that Dick Cheney has atrial fibrillation. It’s an irregularity in the heartbeat that needs to be corrected using “an electrical impulse to the heart”. I know, this is not really news because we have all heard of Cheney’s history of heart problems. But I mention this because it still comes as a shock to some that Cheney actually has one . . . a heart that is.

Then we learn that Trent Lott is turning in his senate membership – 5 years early. Having been re-elected in 2006, he was just hitting his stride as he was returned to minority leadership positions after a 2 year probation after he made arguably racist remarks at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday bash. Why so now, one would ask? Well, I wonder if it has anything to do with the reform bill that prevents ex-senators from joining a Washington lobby group for two years following their last year in congress? Said reform bill takes effect on January 1st 2008, so anyone who wants to quickly pull in lobby lucre had better get out now. That’s the reason, right? I mean, Larry Flynt did say he had something on a prominent Washington personality, didn’t he?

More close to home, the Dallas Morning News ran a story today about the tenuous alliance of Texas bloggers that, for some reason, tolerates my membership in it. That there is to be a blogger conclave in Austin next year, formerly called “Yearly Kos”, but now called Netroots Nation is no small feat, and as it turns out, no coincidence. It also doesn’t hurt that Kos himself has an interest in what looks to be the Senate race of 2008 in Noriega vs. Cornyn, and what better place to spotlight that race but in the red state’s own capitol?

And finally, what about Iraq? Well it seems that a pair of “terror suspects” were arrested on Monday. An announcement out of the Iraqi Defense Ministry revealed that soldiers at a checkpoint became suspicious of a bridal convoy because it appeared that everyone in the convoy was male – something that, thankfully, is as odd there as it would be in this country. Further suspicion was aroused when the groom refused to take the veil off of his bride. Everyone was ordered out of their cars and the bride was de-veiled, only to disclose that the bride was a guy, Haider al-Bahadli, sporting a five o’clock shadow. See photo at right. Now I have studied and studied his visage, and have come to a final conclusion that al-Bahadli may have arrived at this scheme to disguise himself by some central tendency that something like less than 1% of us have. I think he’s transgender. He just has to admit to his feelings.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Precinct 1 County Commissioner: A Horse Race In Fort Bend County

Politics in Texas is always interesting if not outré. And one would think that politics at the county level would just be a microcosm of what goes on at the state level, but one would be wrong in thinking that. Fort Bend County politics make state politics seem fair and balanced.

That’s mainly because in Fort Bend County, while there are no domino parlors, there ought to be. I am reminded of an ad run in the local press before the recent off-off year election to vote for or against Fort Bend ISD school bonds. Remember this picture? A bunch of old white guys sitting and standing over a game of dominoes, played on an old army blanket. These, and others, are the movers and shakers in Fort Bend County.

Good ol’ boys.

I like that misnomer because the only thing that is really true in the label is the word “ol’”, short for old.

They are that.

Missing from the photo is another Fort Bend County good ol’ boy, Fort Bend County Commissioner Tom Stavinoha. Stavinoha, who, with pictured James Patterson, and not in picture Andy Meyers and Bob Hebert form the "good ol’ boy majority" on Fort Bend County’s Commissioners Court.

Stavinoha, a two-term commissioner, has announced that he will run for re-election in 2008. This came two weeks after the announcement of his friend and colleague, Greg Ordineaux, head shot at right, who announced in late October that he would seek Tom’s seat on the commissioners’ court.

You always have to wonder why primary challenges are launched against a fellow party member who already holds the office. There are the usual reasons, such as the guy really isn’t of your party, just says he is, or the guy has become a political liability, as the Republicans had in Tom DeLay in 2006 when he had 4 primary opponents.

So what is it about Ordineaux and Stavinoha?

Here is what Greg Ordineaux says about his candidacy:

“I am focused on ensuring Fort Bend County's continued success and protecting the rights of property owners and taxpayers. While mobility is a critical issue in Fort Bend County, we must exercise caution in defining our future and protect our existing neighborhoods. We should fight to ensure that Fort Bend County controls its own destiny.”
In his candidate’s statement Ordineaux had these words put together in a sentence:

“… the residents of Precinct 1 deserve a full-time commissioner who will listen to their concerns and act in the best interest of the citizens.”
OK, I’ll bite.

Ordineaux thinks that Tom Stavinoha isn’t doing a good job for the residents of Precinct 1 because he doesn’t work hard enough, and works counter to the interests of the residents. In short, Greg Ordineaux is running against the good ol’boy network.

But I don’t know. Some would say that Tom is doing the residents a favor by not working so hard, if he is truly working against the interests of Precinct 1 residents. This is much along the reasoning of those who think having a state legislature meet only 140 days every two years is a good thing.

But more than attacking the good ol’ boy network, it also looks like Ordineaux is capitalizing on Stavinoha’s tacit approval of the Section C corridor for expansion of the Grand Parkway (Highway 99) as a toll road. Why this is, because Ordineaux himself is, of late, Treasurer on the Fort Bend Toll Road Authority board, remains a mystery.

It could simply be the law of the jungle. Stavinoha, in his tacit approval of Section C, and in his non-opposition to expansion of the Blue Ridge Landfill to a proposed 17 story high trash heap, has incurred the wrath of Precinct 1 voters, and like a wounded gazelle, Stavinoha is easy pickings.

But I’ll bet there is more to the story than that.

I’ll bet it’s more of the DeLay scenario, where Republicans see Stavinoha as a weak spot in the down ballot, and would like to replace him with a stronger (that is, less well-known) candidate who is seemingly on the sidelines over the burning issues. Hence his waffling statement: “While mobility is a critical issue in Fort Bend County, we must exercise caution in defining our future. . .”. Meaning of course, that while he once held a post on the Fort Bend Toll Road Authority, that doesn’t mean he is for the Grand Parkway Tollroad.

If you believe that one, I have a gold mine in Alaska that I’d like to sell you.

And why is it important to put a stronger Republican candidate on the ballot in November? Up until recently, the only one who had expressed any interest in running for Precinct 1 Commissioner as a Democrat was Stavinoha’s previous opponent in ’04, Rodrigo Carreon. Stavinoha bested Rodrigo by 67 to 32 percent of the vote in ’04 (although I’d like to see a redo of that with the current demographics of Precinct 1).

But I have been hearing a rumbling on the far horizon for months now, and that rumbling climaxed last weekend at the regular monthly meeting of the Fort Bend Democrats. Richard Morrison, a local trial lawyer, has opted to run for the Democratic Party’s candidate for Precinct 1 Commissioner.

Yes, THAT Richard Morrison. The Richard Morrison who launched Netroots' Draft Rick Noriega movement. The Richard Morrison whose efforts have effectively challenged the expansion of the Blue Ridge Landfill, Tom Stavinoha’s cash cow. The Richard Morrison who showed the world that Tom “The Hammer” DeLay was vulnerable in his once-safe congressional district.

FortBendNow says that Morrison will bring “spice” to the commissioner’s race. That is an understatement. Not only does Richard Morrison’s candidacy bring spice to the race, it brings choice.

Precinct 1 homeowners and residents will have a clear choice in November: vote for the Section C Toll Road by voting for either Stavinoha or Ordineaux (whoever survives the primary) or vote against the Toll Road by voting for Richard Morrison.

Ordineaux and Stavinoha share one point of view. They agree that whatever happens, whoever wins, the Grand Parkway Toll Road is a done deal. No one can stop it. TXDOT has made up its mind.

What does Richard Morrison have to say on that? “That’s bullcrap”.

[Jeez, Richard, don’t mince your words, just tell us what you really think.]

So good ol’ boys or no, to Toll Road or not to Toll Road will be the burning local issue in November ’08, and the lines on this focus issue are clearly drawn.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Just Around the Corner: The Republican You Tube Debate

Remember the Democrats’ You Tube debate? Lots of people thought it was historic and groundbreaking, and I guess there is some truth to that. Witness CNN/You Tube's feature of a question that showed broad differences between the Democratic candidates, and spurred debate on whether Barack Obama was experienced enough for the task of President of the US.

And now the format is being presented to the Grand Old Pompous party for its digestion . . . or indigestion as the case may be.

As I recall, there was some hesitation, among the GOP candidates, to participate in this kind of debate format, maybe driven by what they witnessed at the Democratic event. But despite what we have all been hearing, all 8 of the GOP candidates plan on being there on Wednesday November 28th, at the St. Petersburg, Florida event.

I have flipped through a few of the submissions, found the ones produced by Republicans to be stodgy and boring (well, except for the one I show below), and the ones produced by progressives to be thought provoking to downright paranoid.

Here are a few of my favorites.

No one took Bush’s Executive Order of last July very seriously, but this guy certainly did.

This one probably won’t make the cut, but I thought it worth pointing out that there are some “Squirrely characters” out there who don’t like the fact that their front runner is sometimes found in the news wearing women’s clothing.

As a recent partaker of commercial air travel, I really have to get behind this question. I want this on the debate and I want to hear their answers.

This one goes with the first one. This guy is worried, too. Maybe I should be, too?

And last but not least (because I personally cherish this one), a question about Executive Privilege. And who knows, maybe a prediction?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 4 of Half Empty Takes a Holiday: Morro Bay Beckons

[Nothing happened yesterday so . . .]

DAY 4:

We raced across California's Central Valley through Valley Fog in the a.m. to make the 11 o'clock deadline for breakfast at Harris Ranch. Those who know Harris Ranch for their beef, and their fine restaruant at the corner of I-5 and US 198, but haven't been there awhile - hey, the food is still good, and the breakfast is still superb. Try their Tri-tips and eggs.

Then we beat a path to the coast trying to avoid one of those famous CalTrans road building projects where they make you wait for about a half an hour while Jesus knows what goes on. In being too clever, we encountered another such project along our alternate planned route. While waiting to be allowed through the construction area, I recalled that there was an incident a few months ago at another CalTrans project on US 138 in Antelope Valley. There, a driver became so irate at the delays and CalTrans employees' seemingly uncaring attitude toward his angst, that he angrily took off through the construction zone before he was given permission.

He was stopped and arrested.

Here is a story on how drivers have issued death threats to CalTrans workers on that project.

As I recalled that story, and the story on the bullying, I smiled at our flagman, and patiently waited for the "pilot car" to guide us through the construction zone. It eventually came, and it guided us past busy road builders and one not so busy road builder taking a snooze in a ditch next to his parked paver.

Sorry no photo. It came up too soon.

We alit on the California central coast at a little fishing village and tourist trap known as Morro Bay. It is named for Morro Rock which dominates the view (along with the 3 stacks atop the PG&E electricity generating station), and presides over the harbor entrance.

It was a bright clear day. These photos were taken of the coastal view just north of Morro Rock.

Then if you turn around 180 degrees you can see the harbor entrance. I noted a returning fishing boat and snapped this photo.

Right on its heels came one of those recreational fishing boats where they charge a fee and sell you bait so you can fish to your heart's content in the deep sea. This boat, in the photo below, roared past the professional boat and it looked like a madhouse was entering the harbor. Sports fishermen were falling all over each other throwing unused bait up into the air and in the water, to be eaten by what looked to be about 50 assorted species of sea birds, dominated by sea gulls, but with a good contingent of brown pelican to boot. It was a circus.

Then there's Morro Rock itself, standing at the harbor entrance, forming one side of it, brooding over the whole scene.

Later on, as we were walking along the Embarcadero, I finally got to find out what you do if you own a sea crane, but no one is using it for anything just now. What you use it for is to tip over your big heavy flat bottomed fishing boat so you can dump the water out.

Hey, why use a bucket when you have a sea crane to do all your work for you?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Whoa Partner. Slow Down And Take A Look What Your Texas Progressive Alliance Bloggers Said Last Week

On Monday, we in the TPA like to put up our best, or what we think is our best so here it is:

The pre-Thanksgiving edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up was again compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

The Texas Cloverleaf examines the ongoing feud between TxDOT and NTTA -- this time the funding for the Hwy 161 project Dallas County may face its wrath. To toll or not to toll? That is TxDOT's question.

Hal at Half Empty wants to ask John Cornyn just one question: "When are you going to stop flip flopping on a border wall?"

XicanoPwr reports on the noose found hanging from a scaffolding on separate occasions over at the Exxon Mobil facility in Baytown, TX.

NYTexan at Bluebloggin discovers that some things will just never go away. Tom DeLay Will Launch Activist Group. Two stellar citizens, Tom DeLay and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell have teamed up to promote the Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM).

Kay Granger pretends to care about the environment by sponsoring an Energy Expo but TXsharon at Bluedaze points to her ZERO score on environmentally friendly votes and begs to differ.

Harris County election officials adjusted the vote at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, after Tuesday's final election results had been released to the media. The Democratic Party's observer, a long-time voting rights activist, was stunned to watch it happen. What does this mean for the integrity of electronic voting in all of Texas? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has questions without answers.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston reminds us that Texas is #1 in sucking with tuition for Texas University up by 63% since deregulation in 2003. The high cost of college tuition deregulation. Tuition increases again.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme complains that Texas keeps money meant for hospitals in 'state funds'. You can hear the Republicans yammering for another tax cut.

Muse wonders why Tom DeLay can't seem to stay away from Fort Bend County when he is supposed to be a Virginia resident. His new Coalition for a Conservative Majority kicks off there and has Ken Blackwell as its chair. Yeah, that Ken Blackwell. SOS in Ohio during the 2004 elections.

Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger asks What part of "interfaith" was not clear? in his post detailing the actions of Hyde Park Baptist Church.

Why can't Rudy Giuliani talk about baseball any more without pandering? Off the Kuff takes a look at his latest shenanigans.

Vince at Capitol Annex explores Texas Congressman Ron Paul's "surge" in the polls and in online contributions and wonders why his Republican supporters haven't bothered to examine his terrible record on behalf of the middle class in Texas.

WhosPlayin brings back the Texas Dim Bulb Award for Cracker-Barrell Craddick.

On The TexasBlue, David Gurney explores the total absence of integrity displayed by the Religious Right's endorsements of Giuliani and Thompson.

Easter Lemming watched the Pasadena mayor's race candidate forum in some amazement: How often do you hear a Texas candidate say: "He's just told me the position pays $102,000. I had no idea. If I had known that, I would have put out more yard signs." And Easter Lemming gets the candidate reply in the comments.

Texas Toad of North Texas Liberal explains why the Chicken Pickens of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth owes Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a sum of $1 million.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Half Empty Takes Half a Hike

[Practically nothing happened on Day One so . . .]


One thing that you can do when you are tired of the flatlands of California is take a road trip to the Sierra Nevada. That’s what Spanky and Melissa decided to do this morning and the daughter and I were up for it.

Spanky said, “Now I’ll understand it if you say no, but I’d like it if you didn’t say no to this question.”

Me: “Um . . . er . . .OK, what?”

We’d like to drive up into the mountains today, is that alright with you?

“You think I’d say no to that?”

So we piled into the semi-sensible SUV and headed up to Kings Canyon National Park. Melissa handled the mountain curves expertly and if she didn’t notice my white knuckles as I was clutching the side door hand brace, she was polite enough not to make mention of the fact of my alarm.

Make no mistake, as a Cali native I know my way around mountain roads, but since migrating to Texas, the closest thing I have come to a steep curvy mountain road has been the parking structure ramp at Bush International.

After climbing to 7000 feet we came to the General Sherman Grove. The grove refers to a close association of trees of the species Sequoia sempervirens. They are Sequoia trees associated with several others. The largest, and oldest was the “General Sherman Tree” named after the Yankee general that sacked Atlanta during the War of Northern Aggression (as some Texans and other southerners refer to it). Here are two shots of it. One close up and one taken a few hundred feet away in a gap between the trees. These trees cannot be captured in one horizontally taken frame. I was flat on my back taking the leftmost photo.

In perhaps a bid to repair the schism that developed between the North and the South a century and a half ago, the Park Service also singled out another giant sequoia for naming. They named it the General Robert E. Lee Tree.

Sorry, no photograph. OK. . . OK. . . OK. . . here's a link.

However I did take a photo of a small group of sequoia trees. You generally don’t see them grouped together this close. It is probable that one of these gave rise to the rest. And no, I don't know anyone standing in the photo. They just wouldn't get out of the way.

Then we drove to Hume Lake. Hume Lake sits on the border between King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. There’s a nice little path around the lake to take a nice little hike.
Over at the other end you can see the dam that makes Hume Lake.

Then, on the way back to the SUV we happened across a pair of white tailed deer. Now taking photos of deer in the brush are as hard as H-E-double hockey sticks because, guess what, they have protective coloration. But I caught one as it darted across a sunlit area and you can see the deer clearly.

In the end, though, this particular deer made its opinion of our invasion of its privacy known and did in the woods what bears are most famous for doing, also.

Then, as a grand finale, we thought we would try for Cedar Grove. A particularly picturesque grove at the bottom of Kings Canyon. No go, road closed. We went anyway to view the massive disaster that befell the closing of the road. I envisioned massive boulders covering a broken road, perhaps with half a school bus sticking out on one side of the debris.

Ay me, not to be.

It seems they close the road at this time every year.

They close it because they don’t want to keep it open with snow clearing equipment. The snow that you see in the photo. Yes, THAT snow. That’s right, I don’t want to repeat it.

Oh yes I do: your government inaction.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Half Empty Takes A Holiday

Well I thought I would take a sentimental journey back home this Thanksgiving week and see some people that I haven't seen in awhile. So I just wanted to let my six readers know that this site may not be updated for awhile unless I can get access to the internet somewhere along my journey.

Yes, I think I have said in the past that I am a dinosaur who is tied to his desk top.

So I'll be seeing you, in all the old familiar places.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thoughts On Tonight’s Debate

I usually don’t do this, but it has occurred to me, this night, that my guy, John Edwards, probably has a snowball’s chance in H-E-double hockey sticks’ of getting the nomination. Not to say that I will shift my allegiance to someone else, I stand behind my man, John Edwards, to the end.

But why is it that I believe he has not a chance?

John Edwards is too good for us. Everyone I come into contact with (or nearly everyone) is an Edwards supporter. Just about everyone. Edwards harkens to our higher mental processes. He is the populist. His ideas are endearing to those of us who support labor, support the best way to get out of Iraq and the Middle East, support an end to the corporate domination of our government.

Why won’t the nation rally around John Edwards?

He doesn’t have what Americans crave. Edwards builds his arguments using logic and emotion. But that’s not what American voters respond to. American voters respond to the “Ultimate One Liner”. One liners can capture an audience. Why? Because since the 60’s Americans have been subjected to single ideas, presented on television, that appeal to them. These single ideas are embodied in commercials. Commercials to some are tedious, but to many are welcomed.

Because they entertain. And quickly.

Anyone who wants to be president, anyone, has to teach themselves how to entertain Americans. Why? It’s because Americans are engaged in the improbable act of entertaining themselves to death.

Hillary Clinton knows how to entertain Americans. I saw it tonight. She used her gender to tell voters about Harry Truman’s ditty “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. “I am very comfortable in the kitchen”, she said.

That was funny. Funny and it entertained me. Hillary, as did Henny Youngman, knows about one-liners.

So much so that she turned the UNLV audience. When John Edwards pointed out that Hillary Clinton represents the old guard – by taking lobbyist contributions, represents old DC corporate politics as usual – they booed him.

Booed John Edwards.

Booed John Edwards because Hillary entertained them. Edwards made then think. Wrong, John. Never make a voter think. They want to be entertained instead.


American politics is all about entertainment, nothing about issues. Nothing about political votes and positions.

John Edwards should study Henny Youngman tapes, and wait for Hillary’s “Howard Dean Moment.”

Maybe it will come.

I am characteristically pessimistic.

Rick Perry Gets Sued By Chris Bell

When I first saw that Chris Bell had filed suit against Governor Rick Perry, his one-time political opponent in the Texas Gubernatorial race, I said to myself “Well it’s about time. That jerk needs suing.”

But for what?

Doesn’t matter, he needs suing. Sue him for having that hair. Sue him for anything.

Or. . .

Find out that he and his cronies did some shifty things late in the campaign to hide the source of campaign contributions.

Essentially money laundering, akin to what TRMPAC did to funnel $190,000 in PAC money to individual Republican legislators’ campaign funds.

What the heck. Don’t just sue him, arrest him.

It seems in the late days of the campaign, Houston’s millionaire homebuilder, Bob "Swiftboat Bob" Perry, made contributions of over a million dollars to the Republican Governors’ Association. They then transferred the gift into Rick Perry’s campaign my slyly dividing it into two $500,000 contributions.

Buck Wood, Bell’s attorney in the lawsuit pointed out that this was a deliberate act to hide where the campaign contributions actually came from. From the Dallas Morning News:

“Because of the way Perry's campaign reported the contribution, the public
had no way to see the sources of the contributions to the governors association
that made it to Perry's campaign.”

Perry spokesman unleashed all sorts of bile and venom, saying it’s all because Perry wouldn’t give Chris Bell a contract. They also implied that he is launching the lawsuit because Bell needs the money.

That’s it? Sour grapes and he needs the money?

I think this is brilliant. It’s obvious that the ethics standards and safeguards we have in place in this state aren’t working or this stuff would have stopped a long time ago. Yes, the Texas Ethics Commission has fined all sorts of state politicians for ethics violations, but has the tide been turned? Hardly. TEC fines are mere slaps on the wrist. If we are going to clean up this kleptocracy known as Texas state government, we have to hit them, hit them hard, and hit them where it hurts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cornyn Wants A Wall (Again)

It looks like the schism that separates non-border Texans from Texans whose homes and livelihoods hug the border with Mexico is going to go away.

What schism you ask? The one that has Texans living in northern parts of Texas demanding a full-featured border wall that is impenetrable by terrorists, Mexicans, and other undesirables, and Texans who live on the border who don’t want a wall in their backyards blocking the view.

John Cornyn, the junior US Senator from Texas, was for this wall until he visited the Rio Grande Valley. Then he was against it.

Now he’s for it again.

And it was the South Texans who talked him into it.

The You Tube embedded video was taken when Cornyn first heard of the plan and you can see the look on his face: Corny likes it!

What these Hidalgo County officials are proposing is not a wall, but a levee. An enhanced levee. The one currently in place has suffered the ravages of time and storms. Hurricane Beulah, in particular did a real number on the area in 1967, and locals still remember. A breach in the levee would bring disaster to the area, so now it’s time to repair the levee in places.

But wait, there’s a commonality between a border wall and a levee: they both follow the border. What a concept.

So instead of building a border wall, an idea we all hate, let’s build an “enhanced levee”, an idea we can all get behind. An enhanced levee, will be a “Win-win” according to Cornyn. Not only will it keep out those undesirable elements, Mexicans and terrorists, it’ll keep back the waters too.

Genius! Don’t call it a border wall, call it a levee - a wall that necessarily can’t have any holes in it. Holes for water to flow through and Mexicans to crawl through.

Trouble is . . . you know . . . it’ll still look like a wall.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bush Vetoes Bipartisan Health, Education and Labor Bill

Simply amazing. George Bush does not know how low he can go. Each passing week brings more and more jaw-dropping vetoes from this lame duck president.

It’s just that he, in his own words, doesn’t want to become irrelevant.

It was HR 3043, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008. An appropriations bill that would have allocated $606 billion to an amazing array of good domestic projects. For an abbreviated list, take a look here where they have posted Nancy Pelosi’s statement on Bush’s veto.

But Bush said that it was too much money and that this congress, supposed to be fiscally conservative, was “spending money like a teenager with a new credit card”. He said it was full of pork barrel projects. Maybe, but not likely. And not at all like Bush’s favorite pork barrel project, no way nearly as costly as the War in Iraq that has made Bush’s cronies as rich as Croesus in war profiteering.

A completely disingenuous political move. Bush complained that this bill, to fund so many worthy domestic projects, put him $22 billion over his budget, got his veto stamp out, used it, then used a pen to sign a $471 billion Defense Dept. appropriations bill. This is the bill that buys the pencils, paper clips, and toilet seats for the Pentagon. The veto also comes on the heels of a recent report that looks into the hidden costs of conducting two wars in the Middle East. Bush’s 0.8 trillion dollar war is more like one and a half trillion dollars once you factor in things like higher cost of oil, lost productivity and interest payments on money borrowed to finance the wars.

Hundreds of billions for defense, but not a penny for a cure for cancer, not a dime for Project Head Start.

It’s S-CHIP all over again I’m afraid. In Congress, they are again about a baker’s dozen votes below an override, only 53 Republicans voted for the bill. In the Senate, there was a huge margin, 73-19. And in the Senate, again Texas’s senators cancelled out each others’ vote with Hutchison voting yea, and Rubber Stamp Cornyn voting Nay with his 18 Republican friends.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Backroom Politics Return to Fort Bend GOP

Remember the anointment of Shelley Sekula Gibbs last year? After Tom DeLay was told under no uncertain terms that he could not know where he would be living on Election Day 2006, and Tina Benkiser was told not to violate the US Constitution by overseeing a backroom coronation of a new candidate to face Nick Lampson in the Fall, Fort Bend GOP met in closed session in a church in Pearland and anointed a write-in candidate to be the Republican answer to Nick Lampson. They just couldn’t use the “R word” in the campaign (a rule that they conveniently forgot time and time again).

Well here we go again.

FortBendNow reports that a meeting of the Fort Bend GOP Executive Committee will occur on November 29th to elect a replacement Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman.

Well now, fact of the matter is, this is a position which is decided by a plurality of the popular vote. Republican voters in Fort Bend County are being disenfranchised and a person who is normally elected will be appointed by the Executive Committee, most of whose members, it appears, are the majority that opposed Gary Gillen’s every move time and time again.

Another victory for democracy and one man, one vote.

The outcome is virtually assured. Look for one of their number to be elected quickly, quietly and in a backroom somewhere.

I ask myself, will this new alignment end all of the party squabbling amongst our friends across the aisle? Given how fractious these people are I think that the answer is pretty clear, often stated as a question itself, whose answer we see confirmed in the photo below.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is It Monday? Is the TPA Weekly Round-Up Rearing It's Ugly Head Again? Guess So.

Oh H-E-Double hockey sticks. It's Monday again. And you know what that means? Yep, back to work you Texas drones. But wait, we have the biggest TPA Round-Up in a long, long time. Something to take the edge off your Monday Blues. As usual, this week's round-up is brought to you by Vince from Capitol Annex (does the man rest?)

Oh, and by the way, if you are a veteran, thanks.

Take it away TPA:

TXsharon at Bluedaze sounds an alert about an investigative report exposing The Most Toxic Substance on Earth and the Barnett Shale gas exploration.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is disgusted with UT Southwestern Medical Center's policy of using state funds to give the 'elite' special treatment while the rest of us languish.

McBlogger wants to know why Barney Frank is loving on big banks with his Kill The Mortgage Market bill, HR 3915.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men says be on the look out for how credit card and home mortgage lenders will screw you by making you pay debts you don't actually owe.

Muse finds herself in the middle of a massive police presence and wonders if she has wandered into a manhunt. Nah, not an escaped convict, just W in town to get slobbered on by his lapdog, John Cornyn, at a fundraiser.

At Half Empty, Hal questions whether Congressmen Lantos' and Smith's excoriation of Yahoo! chiefs for releasing information to the ChiComs, is just the pot calling the kettle black.

Burnt Orange Report is all over the runoff for HD 97. Todd Hill gives an analysis of on the ground action and why Democrat Dan Barrett came in first place to secure a runoff spot in the HD 97 race this past week. Phillip Martin breaks down the numbers and price-per-vote, while also looking at some possibly illegal practices by the Republican in the runoff, Mark Shelton.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston writes about Bay Area Houston State Representative John Davis being slapped by the Ethics Watchdog. Again.

The Texas Cloverleaf's hide is chapped by the abolishment of the hide inspectors and calls for a new Texas Constitutional Convention.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin points out how the Bush administration shows their support for veterans and the troops in US Tax Dollars NOT Spent on Homeless Veterans - Words Are Cheaper.

Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal fills us in on Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson's announcement of the delay in the sale of the Christmas Mountains, as well as the reaction of Environment Texas.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos tells that gigantic slurping sound from a few acres of scrub in north Texas was just T. Boone Pickens stealing water rights..

Vince at Capitol Annex has some reservations about the fact that the Bill White 2010 bandwagon is already rolling down the tracks.

WhosPlayin takes a look at an aspiring new "non-partisan" political party - the GOOOH party.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News had one of his (in)famous what I did election day posts.

PDiddie is fed up with Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and intends to support only members of the Democratic Party such as Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards. He clarifies the distinction in "The Democrat Party vs. the Democratic Party", at Brains and Eggs.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson has video of the TCRP's Scott Medlock Discussing Williamson County, T. Don Hutto, & CCA.

Off the Kuff does a little after action review by examining his Election Day predictions to see how they turned out.

Now . . . Texas . . . wasn't that fun? Now get back to work!

Veteran’s Day 2007

It’s Veteran’s Day again. I don’t know about you but in my neighborhood in southeast Texas you need about 4 full-sized American flags planted in the parkway in front of your house just so it doesn’t look like you support the terrorists.

Veteran’s Day has an interesting history. It was originally proclaimed by then-president Woodrow Wilson in the following statement:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Yes, Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day, a holiday to commemorate the end of The Great War (“great” as in big, not “great” as in really good). That is what they called World War I back then before we knew that we had to number them.

In the original observance, all commerce came to a stop for 2 minutes at 11 A.M. They also had parades where war veterans would parade in their uniforms.

In 1938, Armistice Day became a national holiday.

After the 2nd World War and the Korean War, President Eisenhower signed a bill officially changing the holiday’s name to Veteran’s Day. This made sense because we would otherwise have too many national holidays to celebrate the end of all of the wars. Every war was different, fought for different reasons, but the one thing that they had in common was that they all created veterans.

That’s one thing that this country, the United States of America, is very good at doing: creating veterans. Now don’t get me wrong, I admire and respect our war veterans as much as the next person, I just wish that there were fewer of them.

In the best of all possible worlds, then, best case scenario, we should have no veterans because we don’t fight wars any more.

And that would be good because then we could pass a law in which November 11th again commemorates the end of The Great War.

Something tells me that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Now They’re Making Videos and Putting Them On “You Tube”

Do you know why we need to leave Iraq and let the Iraqis fight it out between themselves? Iraqis, or whatever country they came from, it doesn’t really matter, are now making videos of themselves shooting Stinger missiles at American Apache helicopters.

And posting them on You Tube.

Take this one for instance uploaded on Friday November 9th. One of two that I have found.

It starts off with text in Arabic that practically no one outside of the Middle East can read, and then cuts to a scene where a helicopter is seen off in the distance, a mere speck in the sky that they identify with a circle, and then you see and hear a Stinger missile probably launched from a hand held launcher off camera. It takes mere seconds to traverse the sky and hit the helicopter, all the while the video camera operator is exclaiming over and over again “Allahu-akhbar” – God is great.

Then the scene is repeated in slow motion. It isn't clear that the helicopter crashed, but from the the black smoke trail that arcs downward, it doesn't look good.

Bush, Cheney and their generals say that the Iraqis who are engaged in military and guerilla activities against American forces are on the run.

Does this look like a video that was shot by someone who has been put on the run?

End the insanity. It’s their war, Bush’s regime just started it and continue to keep our troops in the crossfire.

US out of Iraq, now.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fort Bend County Republican Party Loses Leadership; Neocons Positioning to Take Over

So the Republican Party leadership in Fort Bend County all resigned, huh? It happened while I was otherwise distracted else I would have been on this like white on rice.

It is delicious that this happens less than a year to the next general election. A presidential election year at that. Delicious. Delightful. You can read about it all in three articles on the still functioning (but for how long) Fort Bend Now online newspaper.

First came yesterday afternoon’s announcement that came from out of the blue from Gary Gillen who was addressing the ladies at the West Fort Bend Republican Women’s luncheon meeting in Katy. (have you ever wondered why they call it the West Fort Bend Republican Women’s Club? Are there any Republican women in East Fort Bend?). I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at the Falcon Point Country Club.

In his announcement, County Republican Party Chairman Gary Gillen cited an untenable situation between party leadership and “a fringe group” whose members he did not identify by name, just that they were members of the party Executive Committee. Because of his inability to get anything done, Gillen said, he and the entire leadership, including the party secretary, treasurer and parliamentarian were resigning effective immediately.

I’ll bet the room went dead quiet. A quiet that was broken by the rattle of upper dental plates dropping out and falling to the table or the floor, walkers being tipped over, and the collective opening and closing of pill boxes containing glycerin pills.

Then came the story that the 20,000 16-page glossy newsletter that was sitting on Gary Gillen’s warehouse floor would not be mailed. “They will not be mailed under my watch,” said Gillen. Why this? It was Republicans, especially neocon Republicans, doing what they do best: screw over people they don’t like. Some candidates, especially those supported by the “fringe group” were given choice spots to put their ads. Gillen’s own column, a newsletter staple, I would think, was omitted.

Said Gillen: “What they didn’t count on is a county chairman who stood up and said ‘you will not do that.’”
And finally, the news comes out today that there is a little glitch in getting replacements for the party leadership. It seems that the Texas Election Code requires that the party secretary submit a request to the state party to find a replacement county chairman. Unfortunately, gosh darn it, the party secretary quit, too. So there’s no one to make the request.

One member of the radical fringe, Terese Raia, who finds herself on both the county and state Executive Committee, contacted State Chairwoman Tina Benkiser, and started the conversation about a rapid appointment procedure. Fringie Republicans like to do things quickly, you see, just like shoplifters, before someone is looking. And perhaps sensing another trap for her to fall in, just like the trap she fell into when there was such a clamor to replace Tom DeLay on the ballot – Tina put on the brakes.

Benkiser said that they couldn’t actually do anything until they had a written resignation from the party secretary.

Yeaaaaah, that’s the ticket.

And I’m absolutely certain that they will be able to track the secretary down so she can sign her letter of resignation so that the people who drove her out of office can get replacements who they like. Absolutely.

Well, it will eventually happen and a new party leadership, more in tune to the EC’s way of seeing and doing things will be appointed.

And that is where it truly gets delicious. I wonder if the fringies have been reading the papers, listening to what the people are saying? The radical fringe’s days of glory are over. People have turned away from the politics of hate and division. The politics of racism and oppression. Their day is done, they have lost the support of the people, yet very soon they are going to take over the county Republican Party.

One benefit is that they will be able to hold all future party meetings at a Subway sandwich shop.

Honestly, this is going to happen. Right after Rudy Giuliani gets the endorsement of Pat Robertson the local Republican Party leadership will take a sharp turn to the right. This could not be better timed.

Centrist Republicans: we Democrats have a really big tent. Yes we have Nancy Pelosi, but we also have Nick Lampson. Come on in, the water’s fine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

General Wesley Clark Endorses Rick Noriega

And so did Senator John Kerry, by the way.

I don’t know why, but getting a Wes Clark endorsement really means something, even more than getting a Kerry endorsement, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the endorsement from the ’04 loser vs. endorsement from the one who actually never lost.

Maybe it’s rank. John Kerry, also a veteran, rose to the rank of full Lieutenant before his discharge. Clark had 4 stars when he retired.

But I digress. Getting endorsements from either of these men is a major victory.

Now about General Clark.

His endorsements are many and apparently tend toward veterans, or toward someone who is in some way tied to veterans or servicemen. I find this interesting, and very timely. It’s almost like we don’t want anyone in the White House any more who has not been placed in harm’s way at some point in their life. Think of it. Right now we have someone making wartime decisions in the presidency, someone who spent his military career snapping towels at other Texas Air National Guardsmen in the showers. Snapping towels and playing hooky.

But Wes Clark endorsed Rick Noriega, and these words do the telling on why:

“At a time when we are facing increasingly serious foreign policy and national security challenges, while needing to repair this Administration’s assault on the Constitution, Lieutenant Colonel Noriega’s leadership and knowledge will be of paramount importance,” Clark said. “I am excited that Rick Noriega has, once again, answered the call to serve”

He has also endorsed, this year, the campaign of Larry LaRocco for US Senator from Idaho. LaRocco served as a Captain in the US Army.

In 2006 Clark has endorsed the candidacy of Mary Beth Harrell for Congress (TX-31). Harrell ran on an anti-war platform. Her two sons, Josh and Rob, were both on active duty during her campaign, the oldest deployed in Iraq.

In lieu of having a veteran run for office, the next best thing is electing the mother of someone serving in the Army during wartime.

And lest we forget the endorsement that now State Rep. Juan Garcia got from Wes Clark back in ’06. Garcia was elected by a squeaker, nonetheless putting another veteran, and a pilot himself, out of a job.

And last, but certainly not least, this past September, General Clark endorsed the candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton.


Is Chelsea in the Army? I checked and . . . .no. Wait. Bill. No, Bill was one of those lucky ones who found their way around the draft during the Vietnam War. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Don’t you just hate that? You think you have someone figured out, a system, a central tendency, and then what?


Don’t get me wrong, I think Hillary Clinton would make a fine Vice President.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Democracy For America Makes One Endorsement This Week: Rick Noriega

They were working on two but in the presidential pulse poll they conducted, no candidate was able to leap over the high bar they set. Like getting any progressive legislation passed in the Senate, the DFA people were asking for a 2/3rds majority vote before they would endorse that candidate.

And no one scored above 40%.

But the DFA was able to endorse their first candidate for the US Senate this week. And it is none other than our guy State Rep and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega. The bar they set for this endorsement was to get 5000 “signatures” in a very short amount of time. Well that apparently did happen so the Noriega campaign not only scores a DFA endorsement, a place on their website, but also a campaign contribution.

You recall when I wrote the posting asking everyone to go over and “sign” the petition? Along the way I noticed that Dennis Kucinich was leading in the pulse poll. Well he came out on top as you can see on the results page. Everywhere else Kucinich polls at around 1%.

My guy Edwards polled in 3rd place behind Al Gore, who has said he won’t run.

Hillary’s in 5th place.

Now, you have to wonder. Were the results so topsy-turvy because it was an internet poll and only we internet activist geeks bothered to vote? I’m starting to wonder. What if it’s this: we all like our own personal choices for president for one reason or another, AND maybe we think that our choice is electable. But don’t most of us also like and admire the brave and steadfast positions of Dennis Kucinich? Completely unelectable as his brand of progresivism is viewed as extreme. So we had in the pulse poll a chance to cast a vote for Kucinich because we all think we would be crazy to do that in the primary. Crazy.

It’s true, isn’t it. I’m for immediate and complete troop withdrawal from Iraq.

So is Dennis Kucinich.

I’m for Universal Health Care – government provided and guaranteed health insurance.

So is Dennis Kucinich. He is an author of HR 676.

I’m for public funding of presidential races to take votes out of the hands of lobbies PACs and corporations.

So is Dennis Kucinich.

I think paperless electronic voting enables election fraud.

So does Dennis Kucinich.

I think that gay people should have the same rights as anyone else.

So does Dennis Kucinich.

The list goes on and on and on. Whatever Kucinich is for, so am I.

So why don’t I support Kucinich on this blog. Why is John Edwards’ campaign thumbnail on my sidebar?

What do you think I am, crazy?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Melissa Wins. No Dust Inhaled.

Well apparently there was a race for Position 3 on the Houston City Council. And apparently, Melissa Noriega, who trounced, ol’ what’s his name, oh yeah, ever present, ever opposing GOP candidate (except this is a non-partisan race, right?) Roy Morales, he of the lower teeth smile – well Roy Boy lost. Buh-bye Roy.

I can dance. Yes, I can. And I want to dance on the figurative and (hopefully final) campaign of Roy (can’t beat a woman, not even on a good day) Morales.

Roy, many blessings on your future. Just know that it doesn’t entail a term on the Houston City Council . Strike 3, Roy. Find another venue.

Melissa: many congratulations. I wish I could have contributed more to your campaign as in the past, but time, tides and opinions averted me and prevented me.

Many blessings upon you and the Senatorial candidate.

Oh yeah, that’s right. You are married to the sole Democratic nominee for US Senate, Rick Noriega.

You are Texas’ First Family.

Yahoo Chiefs Get Tongue Lashing From Pro-FISA Congressman

I find it truly ironic that the CEO and the chief legal representative for the internet giant Yahoo! were read the riot act over their actions in 2004, when they provided information on the online activities of a Chinese National to PRC investigators.

Let me explain.

Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan were in DC today to explain to Congressional investigators why they turned over information on a Chinese Journalist, Shi Tao. Shi was tried for subversive activities by the Peoples Republic of China government, convicted mainly based on the Yahoo! information, and given a 10 year sentence for “engaging in pro-democracy efforts” that they deemed were subversive.

Explaining themselves, Yang and Callahan said they were merely complying with what they regarded as a legal order, legal in China, they said.

“It's my understanding that under Chinese law these are lawful”, Callahan explained

Then all H-E-Double Hockey Sticks broke loose.

Tom Lantos (D–Ca): "Why do you insist on repeating the phrase 'lawful orders'? These were demands by a police state.''

The tongue lashing was bi-partisan. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., compared Yahoo's cooperation with the Chinese government to companies that cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II.

And then this from Lantos:

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies.”

Now the irony. Chris Smith voted Yea on S 1927, the Protect America Act, the legislation that took away my rights against unlawful search and seizure. Tom Lantos was there but withheld his vote. He voted present, not voting.

If Yang and Callahan are "moral pygmies" for turning over online information to China, what must Smith and Lantos be for surrendering rights that all Americans have had since the Bill of Rights was ratified?

Foul, they would cry. We voted (or didn’t oppose) for a law to protect America from terrorists. America is not a cruel oppressive regime. We have the right to protect ourselves and if that means listening in on your phone conversations and emails, we did (or failed to not do) the right thing. China is the oppressive regime, not America.

Give it time Chris. Give it time, Tom.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bush Coming to Houston to Support John “Rubber Stamp” Cornyn

In a news flash from the Noriega campaign today we get advance word that George Dubya Bush is coming to Houston in 3 days to help his dear old, old friend, rubber stamp and cheerleader John Cornyn.

Remember when he came to Sugar Land last year to support his old, old friend Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (that’s how she spelled her name before she became dehyphenated)? They had a big rally in a hangar at the Sugar Land municipal airport. You had to get tickets. This is not going to be the case this time. Bush is coming to attend 2 fundraiser events that are by invitation only. Location? It’s a secret. If you don’t know you haven’t been invited. Low rollers need not attend. Drop your $4600 in a jar at the door.

This is nonsense. Last week Dick Cheney came to Dallas (Dick Does Dallas?) to raise campaign funds for Cornyn, and guess who didn’t show up? Cornyn! He was too busy in Washington voting to deny children health insurance.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Cornyn voted Bush’s way on SCHIP, and then stole out of town to attend a ceremony at Ripley House. Ripley House is one of four project medical homes run by Texas Children's Hospital. They provide free or reduced cost services to uninsured children. Children that Cornyn had just voted against. The way he is standing there in this photo-op moment, it looks like he voted for SCHIP. What a despicable tool. Votes against the very children whose hospital he then goes to visit them. Says that Texas needs to do a better job of providing health care for “those kids”.

You have to hand it to John Cornyn: in duplicity, he has a corner on the market.

And that’s why Rick Noriega is going to win in November 2008. Rick has the integrity to do what he says he is going to do. Texans know this, or if they don’t, they will.

So what are we going to do about this? I’ll tell you what we are going to do. We are going to raise $50,000 on ActBlue for Rick in the next 3 days. We’re going to turn Dubya’s visit to Houston to support his rubber stamp into a Noriega Campaign Windfall.

They have a new page over on ActBlue set up just for this one fundraiser so go there and make your voice heard and your money count.

You can also click on the graphic at the top. It takes you to the same place.

Like a Bad Penny, the TPA Blog Round Up Keeps Turning Up

It's Monday again. They come aroud quickly. I can't believe it's only 366 days until Election Day 2008. Anyway Monday means we are in for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Texas Blog Round-Up.

Before we get down to this week's edition, however, TPA members want to encourage all of our readers to vote for two TPA member blogs in the 2007 Weblog Awards: Three Wise Men and The Agonist. Vote for Three Wise Men here and The Agonist here. Go ahead, vote, I'll wait here.

OK, you've voted? Good. Here's the round-up:

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the final installment of Trinity Trickery and implores Dallas residents to Vote Yes on Prop 1 on November 6th!

At Bluedaze we learn from TXsharon that the FWISD Participates in a Web of Deceit with Barnett Shale Producers and how the school district helps spread oil company propaganda at the expense of education.

Hal and some friends attended Nick Lampson's (TX-22) NCLB Town Hall Meeting this past week and reports from Half Empty.

Bill Howell of Stoutdemblog quotes from and links to the firestorm on the web over Barack Obama's knowing use of a homophobic hatespeaker as emcee of a campaign rally in I Love A Tirade.

Upset about the enthusiasm of some in Congress for an AG that thinks torture is OK and views Constitutional check and balances as 'quaint'? So is McBlogger.

Off the Kuff looks at the fate of the Astrodome now that the Texans and the Rodeo have come out against a plan to redevelop it as a hotel/convention center.

North Texas Liberal's Texas Toad tells us a Halloween horror story about global warming deniers Fred Singer, Don Erler, and their ilk in Planet Purgatory Parts One and Two.

Would you feel honored if a city named a street after you? What if the street was broken into non-continuous segments and wound its way through backwater sidestreets of town? What if no one even knew where the street was? Well, that's how Lubbock has "honored" Cesar Chavez, notes Blue 19th.

Over at Texas Kaos, there's a report on Texans giving Darth Cheney a well deserved reception up in Dallas. Succinctly put, Don't Iraq Iran!

David Van Os has an opposing viewpoint of several of the constitutional amendments on Tuesday's ballot, and shares it at Brains and Eggs.

Over at Three Wise Men, Nat Wu analyzes the situation in Africa, particularly renewed talk of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, while Xanthippas takes on Scott Horton's view that being "grown-up" Democrat when it comes to foreign policy is giving Bush what he asks for.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that if screwing the middle class was a Congressional sex scandal, Texas' GOP Congressmen would be making serious headlines.

NYTexan at BlueBloggin explores Bush's endless veto pen and his continued disregard for the Katrina victims.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson asks why is every former Bush administration official from Texas always rumored to running for public office in Texas? In The Definition of Insanity.

This week's episode of TheTexas Blue's Who's Blue interview series features former Texas Congressman and Attorney General Jim Mattox, who shares with us his observations on Texas campaigns throughout his career and how the national mood may affect the coming election cycle.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Newsweek Poll Has Hillary Clinton in Squeakers

Surprisingly when voters are asked who among the Democratic candidates they prefer, 43% say they want Hillary Clinton, yet when asked which they would vote for in the General election, Hillary’s numbers are 49% no matter who she is put against, whether it is Rudy, Mitt, or Fred.

Hillary polls at just 49% against all three Republican candidates. She beats them all but isn’t it odd that her opponents’ numbers are also identical at 45%. Maybe it isn’t so odd. Maybe it just tells you what has been in the news for awhile: 50% of Americans will vote for Anyone But Hillary.

It’s Hillary Clinton 49% vs. Anyone But Hillary 45%

Compare that to Barack Obama vs. Rudy, Mitt and Fred. Against Rudy, Barack gets 48% of the vote to Rudy’s 45% (nearly the same as Hillary), but scores higher than Hillary against Mitt (53% to 37%) and Fred (52% to 39%).

Compare that to John Edwards vs. Rudy, Mitt and Fred. Against Rudy, Edwards gets 48% of the vote to Rudy’s 45% (the same as Barack), but scores higher than Hillary against Mitt (53% to 37% - same as Barack) and Fred (53% to 39% - the best margin of the three candidates).

The margin of error on the Newsweek poll is + 4% so that makes Hillary’s contests virtual toss ups. The same is true for either Edwards or Obama vs. Giuliani, but in races where Obama or Edwards are pitted against Romney or Thompson, Either Obama or Edwards is the clear winner.

I doubt, at this point, that any of these numbers will help to sway a Hillary supporter to maybe opt for the candidate who is currently stronger in the polls against a Republican than she is, it just doesn’t work that way.

I just wish it would.