Monday, March 31, 2008

Should Hillary Clinton Drop Out? Absolutely NOT!

The litany of calls for Hillary Clinton to read the writing on the walls, do the math, and decide that this race is unwinnable needs to just stop. For once in this campaign, Bill Clinton is absolutely right that the continued struggle for the nomination will not weaken the Democratic Party, but strengthen it.

Barack Obama is, himself, in absolute agreement on this. Probably for his own reasons, but maybe in part the same reasons I have.

My reasons? It all goes back to the Texas county conventions. They say that over a hundred thousand people participated in county conventions, caucuses really, this past weekend. This is a phenomenal episode in Texas politics. This event brought out people of all ages, from those just put onto walkers to those just out of their braces, all races, all nationalities, all because they are energized by this race that goes on and on.

And I can’t get enough of it.

Why then, call a halt to it? Why? Why deprive the people, people who will vote in the last 10 primaries, the opportunity to have just a small taste of what we had here in Texas last weekend? People are coming out who have never voted in a primary, attended a caucus or attended a state convention, let alone a national convention.

Relax, they say, the superdelegates are going to decide it. The math says that your average voter will not have anything to do with the process. Try telling that to 100,000 Texans who went to their county conventions and stayed all day, and from some reports, all night. The people aren’t listening to that. The people want to participate. And they want to be heard.

We need that this year. Whatever and wherever it comes from, we need it. We need the attitude of the 41,000 strong DC baseball fans that booed George Bush while he was throwing out the first pitch on opening day at the Washington Nationals’ first game. That enthusiasm must be nurtured and allowed to grow to a blazing inferno.

The last thing we need right now is a bucket of water thrown on the renewed excitement of the promise of a Democratic president in 2008.

If anything, we need a bucket of that 4 dollar gasoline.

Oh, and in case you missed it, here is our president being booed. Watch his face at 0:55.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Texas Primary Runoffs: Oh, To Be a Republican

Texas primary runoff early voting starts Monday, March 31st. I’ll be there to exercise my vote, even if there is only a single item on the ballot. And in my case, there is only a single item on the ballot. But I’ll be there anyway.

It sounds like a very ho-hum deal, to have to vote for Texas Railroad Commissioner, and truth to tell, no one is banging my door down, shoving push cards in my face, or doing robocalls for either candidate.

It’s definitely not very exciting.

Some I know will rear up in protest, because for them having an effective public advocate on the Railroad Commission is paramount to their interests. Uppermost in their minds. And I give them credit for their advocacy. Yes, this is an important position and the only state-wide Democratic nomination still in contention.

But I can’t help but think that my, and everyone else’s appearance at the Democratic polls this coming week is going to be a flip-flop compared to what we had on March 4th. On March 4th, Democrats showed up at Fort Bend County polls to the tune of 1.8 times that of Republicans on the same day. 13% of registered voter showed up to vote Democratically compared to only 7% of registered voters to vote in the primary of the Dark Side.

Democrats were energized by the competition at the presidential level. For Republicans the issue had been all but decided, only needing Mike Huckabee to stop and get in line with the others.

Not so in the runoff.

While Democrats in my position in Fort Bend will go to the polls to vote for either Dale Henry or Mark Thompson in their statewide Railroad Commissioner runoff, Republicans, those that didn’t vote in the Democratic primary, anyway, still have a critical choice to make: who do they think will be able to beat Congressman Nick Lampson in November.

Oh, if only I could help them out.

I find myself in an unique position of being a cheerleader for Shelley Sekula Gibbs. She of the pink leggings, the wacky lady who came dressed as a shrimp for the Sugar Land Shrimp Festival, and as a . . . well some sort of European peasant girl for some other cultural festival. And finally, the one who won a special election running against an oriental herb doctor, a retired career military officer, an ex high school wrestler, a Libertarian and a former Lampson opponent from the old days.

Yes, although she lost as a write-in candidate against Nick Lampson in the general election, Shelley won the special election against that crew, with a runoff not needed, and finds herself in a runoff election this time against a new foe: former senatorial chief staffer Pete Olson.

Olson, I think, would be the one who could run a credible campaign against our moderate Democratic congressman. However, he handicaps himself, somewhat, in that he must now paint himself as the more conservative of the two Republicans, which makes things tough for him in November when he runs against Lampson, someone who will draw votes from both parties and the independents as well. If that’s how Olson wins the runoff, by convincing voters that Shelley is the least conservative, then that’s good news for Nick.

If on the other hand, Shelley wins based on her name recognition and successfully smearing a carpetbagger label all over Olson, once again, that’s good news for Nick.

That must be why Nick seemed to be so happy when he showed up at the SD 18 convention yesterday. For Nick, it’s definitely “Good news, better news”.

But I still find myself in Sekula Gibbs’ cheering section right up to the end. In that, I find myself in the curious position of being in complete agreement with the blogger who authors the ultra rightwing blog “Rhymes With Right”. He left a comment here a week or so ago, which I need to bring up front.

“Yes, a brief period relative to the time he has been out of the district. It's not like the man retired from the Navy six months ago after a 20 year career. And the reality is that Olson maintained no significant connection to the district during his time on the staff of Phil Gramm and John Cornyn, which constituted the bulk of his career outside of CD22.”

“And it may shock you to hear this, but just because i support the reelection of John Cornyn, whose work in the US Senate I consider to be quite good, does not mean that I accept his every political endorsement as if it were divine revelation.”

“I'll take the candidate I know and trust.”
So not only do he and I share a common profession in the teaching of eager young minds, yes RWR is a high school teacher, he and I also see eye to eye on this issue, but for completely different reasons.

I want Shelley Sekula Gibbs to win because she will not only be the easiest candidate for Lampson to defeat in November, but also because we all should be in for a few laughs between now and then. RWR, an ardent Sekula Gibbs fan, wants her to win because he knows and trusts her.

Together, we make a great team.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Obama Campaign Calls It: Obama Takes Texas On Step Two

Taking a look at the Obama campaign website this evening, Christopher Hass has called Texas for Obama. This was way back when 31.26% of the 284 county conventions reporting in results, with Obama projected to net 9 delegates over Hillary Clinton, just as projected from early caucus results that came out in the days after the March 4th primary/precinct conventions.

They are closely watching Burnt Orange Report’s timely posting of results as they are reported in by phone or email. BOR, incidentally, has reported record pageloads this evening as the entire nation tunes in to the same website that Barack Obama’s people are listening to.

That number, by the way has changed somewhat since Obama’s first report of results from Texas. At the time of their report, at 7:28 CDT, they had Obama by 55% to 45%. At this writing, with 42.96% of the conventions reporting (122), it is Obama by 57% to 43%, this despite a huge win by Clinton in the Hispanic dominated western-most counties in and around El Paso.

The fat lady, however, doesn’t sing until the state convention this June. That’s the rule here in wild and wooly Texas. It’s not who you vote for, but who shows up, who goes to their daughter’s soccer game this morning instead, and who goes home too early. And it all gets to be replayed in June.

And then there are all the challenges that Clinton supporters are lodging against Obama delegates . . .

As Ollie used to say to Stan, “Well, that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into”. In this case, though, the mess is truly fine. Despite all the pain and toil, despite the reports of conventions that ranged widely from calm to calamity, Texas is showing the rest of the country how to get media attention on an otherwise ho-hum presidential campaign day.

Texas Two Step: Step Two

The county convention I attended today, SD 18 in Fort Bend County, was everything anyone could possibly expect in this singular year of high interest and involvement. Long lines, confusion, tedium, contentiousness, confusion, energy, elation, confusion, bitterness, disagreements, excitement, disappointments, resentment, delight, and confusion.

Did I mention confusion?

Confusion came from three sources that I could isolate. First and foremost, the sheer numbers. Hundreds attended the county convention where only tens bothered to appear before. While I have no accurate head count of how many delegates, alternates and observers were there, my estimate is somewhere around 750. Delegates were checked in, and alternates were sent to the school cafeteria to await a call-up. In the end, 630 delegates were seated. Second, absolutely, was ignorance. Since the vast majority of attendees were brand spanking new to the process, there were too many questions that were apparently answered by those not cognizant of the rules. Third, lack of coordination from the county party. It was reported at the convention that critical information was not provided to the temporary chairman up to until the prior evening.

All of that, and the process worked because of the sheer will of the people to make it work. That and a dedicated staff of Clinton and Obama supporters who strived to make the whole process as painless and fair as possible. After all, no one wins if anyone tries to game the system.

And isn’t this what “grassroots” is all about?

The numbers? Well, the SD 18 portion of Fort Bend County went for Barack Obama in the primary election. With 49 precincts within the area, 7448 votes were cast for Obama (60.8%) and 4799 for Clinton (39.2%). So you would expect the convention numbers to mirror the primary numbers, and they did. And then some.

Total convention votes were 414 votes for Barack Obama (65.8%) to 215 votes for Hillary Clinton (34.2%) and one vote, uncommitted. This slight improvement in the vote for Obama is what was seen in the caucus results reported at the TDP website, until whining from both campaign camps closed down that free service.

So by my math, that's 41 Obama delegates for the state convention, and 22 Clinton delegates.

Was there angst at those numbers? Absolutely, what else could you expect? What is becoming more and more clear, that Barack Obama has a majority of voters in this contest, is still unclear to the few, who, upon hearing the announcement of the vote results, contested the results based on an element of confusion that a few of the Clinton supporters dreamed up.

A Clinton delegate challenged the vote based upon her understanding that alternates were allowed to take the place of absentee delegates from other precincts, this from an announcement she had heard when delegate chairpersons were instructed to fill their absentee slots with alternates. No one else could recall that announcement, and the convention temporary chair disputed the woman’s claim, saying that when he made the announcement to fill the empty spots, he instructed chairs to pick from their own precincts, and, as much as possible, to replace the absent delegate with an alternate having the same presidential preference. He said he repeated that announcement four times.

Unfortunately I video recorded his announcement of those very things only once.

But perhaps once is enough.

Friday, March 28, 2008

At the Candidates Forum for Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees

As is their habit, the Fort Bend Employees Federation, aka “the teacher’s union”, held a Fort Bend ISD candidates’ forum last night at the Sugar Land Marriott. The public was invited to this under-publicized event, and as a result, the room was filled with Fort Bend ISD groupies, others running for public office, and a bunch of students from a local high school.

And me.

And FortBendNow.

I went out of curiosity and not knowing when I would have a chance to see them all in one place again.

That last, however, the thing about seeing them all in one place, will have to happen sometime in the future because two candidates did not appear, turning this thing, for the most part, into a beauty contest.

Fort Bend Trustee Stan Magee studiously avoided the whole thing, as expected, because Magee has little regard for unions and unionized teachers. So that left the floor to his challenger in this election, Susan Hohnbaum. Now I don’t know the woman’s politics but from where I sat I could see this is someone we can all use. A veteran teacher, Hohnbaum is also cognizant of technology issues – technology as in teaching technology. There are some questions that I have, however, like how she intends to separate her current position as an employee of a construction firm from her position as a school board member who would be deciding about construction contract awards. Would we lose a vote if her employer bids for a district project?

Come on, who am I kidding? Hohnbaum or Stan Magee? There isn’t even a question of who to opt for here.

Time to let Stan truly retire and enjoy those grandchildren.

Another race to fill Cynthia Knox’s seat is between eternal candidate and activist Rodrigo Carreon and a former candidate for BOT last year, Daniel Menendez. This forum also saw no opposition candidate for that position. Only Carreon showed up. Menendez, it was explained, was called out of town on business.

Strike one. What comes first, the people’s business or your own business? Menendez pulled out of the 2007 BOT election when he found that his good friend David Reitz was also running for the same position. No one told 504 voters though (page 6). So now, Daniel wants to serve on the board with his friend David.

Maybe he won’t quit this time.

Daniel is running against Rodrigo Carreon, who DID show up to this forum, and to any forum he is invited to. Sometimes it is difficult to follow just what Rodrigo is saying because he is all over the map, but when pressed for an opinion, Carreon does not allow things like politics stand in his way. Statewide, Carreon says, school district superintendents are all overpaid. He did not favor the recent pay bump given to the present district superintendent.

This brings me to the only trustee position where both candidates appeared. Position 5 is currently held by Laurie Caldwell. She is being challenged by a relative newcomer, Dr. Jonita Reynolds, wife of attorney Ron Reynolds who recently lost his bid to unseat Dora Olivo in a very hard-fought contest for HD 27 state representative.

Ron was in the audience to listen to and in support of his wife.

Caldwell, it may be recalled, was elected in a reform movement in 2005 which brought in a “new majority” that later devolved into the “Gang of Four”. That gang consisting of former board members Lisa Rikert and Ken Bryant, and current members who are running for re-election, Stan Magee and Laurie Caldwell.

Two of that old gang are now gone. Stan? Who knows. He is always such a loner on the board these days, who knows what his fate will be?

But now, Laurie Caldwell, now that’s a study. She was often seen as a swing vote, sometimes voting with the gang, sometimes against it. In a pivotal vote in October 2005, Caldwell voted against the gang and then-district superintendent Betty Baitland was spared the axe that eventually befell her, prompting one political wag to quip “Let's hope that Laurie Caldwell sticks with those who brung her.”

Sad to say, that did not remain the case, and eventually Caldwell placed herself squarely against the continued stewardship of Dr. Betty Baitland, effectively ending that woman’s career in education.

Clearly, Caldwell will want to avoid recollection of those bad old days. She cites her attention to “the data”, her years of volunteer work for the district including 8 PTA presidencies, and now most recently, her work in Alief ISD as a special ed teacher after receiving an emergency certification. And oh, yeah, she owns Caldwell Critter Sitters.

She faces Dr. Jonita Reynolds. Reynolds’ delivery saw no commas, semicolons or periods. Once unleashed on the audience, she spoke of her credits and accomplishments non-stop. Educationally, the woman was made for this job. Her MA and PhD degrees, from the University of Houston, are in the area of Education in Administration and Supervision. And, oh yeah, Reynolds is Chief Executive Officer of a non-profit corporation that employs 400.

400 people.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton in Bosnia: The REAL Video Evidence

I don’t know where it came from, just from some people who are apparently only barely political. It is these kinds of groups that we need right now to bring the truth to the lies, to bring fact to the fiction, to bring integrity back to the Clinton campaign . . .

… to put a “nine” in Hillary Clinton’s shootin’ hand.

That’s how it all went back then, right?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton: Most Delegates Are Unpledged

Citing a 1982 Democratic Party rule, the Clinton campaign has now embarked on a new crusade to create doubt that Barack Obama has won a majority of pledged delegates.

Most states, the Clinton campaign says, do not compel their pledged delegates to honor their pledges. From CNN:

“‘I think what Mrs. Clinton was trying to make clear was that no delegate is required by party rules to vote for the candidate for which they're pledged,’ said [Clinton advisor, Harold] Ickes.”

“‘I mean obviously circumstances can change, and people's minds can change about the viability of a particular candidate and that's permitted now under our rules ever since the 1980 convention.’”
I think that the Clinton campaign makes a good point, but for other reasons than theirs. I am now in a place, a mindset let’s just say, that tells me that there might just be a little buyer’s remorse out there among the electorate.

And among Clinton pledged delegates.

This news about Clinton’s gross exaggeration of the danger she faced in her trip to Bosnia simply won’t go away, especially as she stubbornly refuses to admit to the “whopperness” of her more recent recollections of that trip, just as she stubbornly refused to admit her mistake in voting for war in Iraq. She now claims that she made those remarks that attempted to revise history, several times, by all accounts, because she was tired. Do I need to ask whether Hillary Clinton tells lies when she is tired? When Hillary Clinton is tired, does she suffer lapses in judgement? Is Hillary Clinton ever tired at, say, 3 AM? How does that work?

This grasping at excuses reveals a character flaw in Hillary Clinton, something that we also have in our currently sitting president: stubborn refusal to admit to a mistake. Just how far would Hillary Clinton go not to admit a mistake? As far as George W. Bush has?

I hope not, but can we as a nation dare to take that chance again?

Others have pointed out still more instances of Hillary Clinton’s gross exaggerations on her impact on government policy and on the importance of her negotiations with foreign powers. I really think that is just overkill.

After all, once you catch someone, anyone, in a lie like the one we caught Hillary Clinton in, the tendency is not to want to believe that person ever again, isn’t it?

How then, is that different for a politician running for President of the United States?

It isn’t, and I will just bet that there are some former Clinton supporters out there, as well as some Clinton “pledged delegates” (in quotes, because as Clinton’s own people say, they are not) who are now taking a second look at this candidate, and are coming away with doubts.

So as they say, “Let the birds fly as they may”. I’ll just bet that the Clinton campaign would no doubt be surprised by the result.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Road To Victory: Texas (Part Deux)

Part two of the DSCC’s video series on the coming Democratic victory in 2008 is out. In part 1 the DC videographer appeared in Fort Worth and starting asking around if anyone knew who John Cornyn was. It’s here if you missed it.

In part 2 of the series, she joins the Rick Noriega for US Senate campaign as they barnstorm around the state bringing the Democratic message to the voters.

Take a look.

Strangely silent at the first video from all I can see, up pipes reporter W. Gardner Selby (I always mistrust people who don’t like their first names enough to substitute it with an initial – what about “Butch” or “Skip"?) with a commentary. He has a running critique of the video here.

It’s a pretty laughable article, and you can get a pretty good idea of his fan club when you read the comments.

W. was first to jump on a Cornyn’s staffer’s observation on how Rick muffed the words to Deep in the Heart of Texas (or whatever the H E double hockey sticks that song is called). The thing that I can’t get my brain wrapped around is this: whether there is something, some cogent idea behind that remark. Is it that Rick is less of a Texan because of that? And when I think more of it, the lyrics make no sense either way you say them so what’s the big deal, anyway?

I’ll bet John Cornyn from here forward known as "JC", a baby boomer like me, doesn’t know the lyrics to the rock song that shaped our generation.

I’ll just bet.

Remember Louie, Louie?

Say, hey, JC, can you sing with me?

Ah Louie, Louie
Ohhh, no . . . JC’s gotta go
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yes, it really goes like that.

Then our friend, W., goes after Rick because he stuffs a paper napkin into his shirt collar when he eats barbecue.

Now who is the true Texan, W.? How is one ever going to eat barbecue in public, especially when it is dripping with sauce, unless you stuff that napkin down your shirt? Or do reporters like to drip the sauce on their shirts so they have something to snack on later?

Heckfire, it makes it easy to wipe your fingers off if you have the napkin on your shirt – the way you’d do it at home – without a napkin.

More to the point: I’ll bet W., and John Cornyn for that matter, eat their barbecue with knives and forks.

And I’ll bet it goes right over their heads that I’ve just grossly insulted them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Credibility Gap Widens as Gallup Poll Confirms What Americans Already Know

A Gallup poll that came out last Tuesday reveals something that most Americans already knew: they don’t know whether Hillary Clinton is a trustworthy person.

It’s here at their website, comparing American respondents’ opinions on the three remaining presidential candidates. Of the three only Hillary Clinton has fewer people rating her as honest and trustworthy than rate her otherwise. Sixty-seven percent of respondents see John McCain as a straight shooter, vs 27% not trusting him. This is closely shadowed by Obama’s rating over the same question by 63% favorable to 29% unfavorable. Clinton’s score: 44% favorable and 53% unfavorable.

Note also that the undecideds are 6% for McCain, 8% for Obama, but 3% for Clinton.

Now this goes beyond all the rule changing we keep hearing coming from the Clinton campaign. First that all the Florida and Michigan votes must count even though these votes are tainted by events coming on the heels of the DNC rules that excluded their delegates from the national convention. And now most recently that a far better statistic for superdelegates to decide upon is how many electoral votes each has won so far.

Clinton claims she has won 219 electoral votes, where Obama has gained only 202. This statistic, they are now saying, points to how much more electable Hillary Clinton is than Barack Obama.

In reality, Hillary Clinton has won zero (0) electoral votes. So has Obama. Electoral votes are cast between two candidtates from two parties, not the same one unless John McCain wants to throw in the towel now. It is ludicrous to say that the states Clinton won will not also be won by Obama in November. It is also ludicrous to count states that will inevitably go for McCain. The reasoning is specious and suspect.

I wouldn’t trust someone who gave me that line of reasoning with holding my place in line at the movies.

And now we are all treated, by the news media and You Tube, to the latest of Hillary Clinton’s whoppers. It’s that Bosnia trip again. Her recounting of it, always so consistent in the past, and tracking right along to what she wrote in her book, Living History has always gone something like this:

“Due to reports of snipers in the hills around the airstrip, we were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac with local children, though we did have time to meet them and their teachers and to learn how hard they had worked during the war to continue classes in any safe spot they could find”.

That can all be checked, you know, especially when there are so many eye witnesses. And on that incident, one that Clinton has recounted the same way time and time again, she recently added some twists that weren’t part of the narrative before.

And it makes her look really, really bad.

From You Tube:

Now this isn’t someone else spouting off opinions about things, someone that Barack Obama hasn’t any control over, someone who has no control over Barack Obama, these are the actual words of someone who wants to be president.

Words that turned out to be, in the words of her spin doctor, Howard Wolfson, not lies, not fibs, whoppers or gross exaggerations of the truth, none of that. “She misspoke,” said Wolfson.

Quite frankly, if there are those among us who are starting to wonder about these things, as I am, and haven’t voted in a primary yet, as I have, it is this sort of thing that I would be concentrating on: who you can trust to tell you the truth. God knows we've had enough of lies from the Executive Branch.

And if there are those who are starting to wonder about these things, and have already voted for Clinton in a primary, well maybe it’s time to wonder if you “misvoted”.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jesus + Cheetos = Cheesus

It’s Easter and while the Easter Texas chili is smoldering in the crock pot, I looked left and right for an appropriate thing to write about. My first thought was to find a photograph of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, (aka Poppin’ Fresh) to put up with the title “He is Risen” but decided that might be too crass and insensitive.

Yes, even I have thoughts like that from time to time.

Then I happened across this obscure piece on Houston’s KHOU website. Apparently the youth minister at the Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, Steve Cragg, has stumbled across the latest religious apparition to make the news.

Shortly before beginning a recent Cheetos nosh, something stopped Steve from popping yet another Cheetos tasty morsel in his mouth and grinding it to insignificant bits of corn puff and cheesy powder. He stopped to examine its unique shape. From one side it looked like a cute two-legged dog. Turning it around, however, what should he find but an image of Jesus Christ himself stretching out his arms to his adoring masses.
Either that or, as one of Cragg’s students suggested, it kind of looks like Lieutenant Dan in the movie Forrest Gump.

Still and all, a religious apparition is just as good as its recognition, and this Cheeto bears an uncanny resemblance to the Savior of the world.

So be it.

In Cheesus’ name.

UPDATE: Cheesus has returned! Cheesus II: The Second Coming

Saturday, March 22, 2008

“It’s 3 A.M.” Girl Says No to Fear Baiting Clinton Ad

She was interviewed a week or two ago. I saw it here. Teenaged Casey Knowles was filmed for some stock footage 8 years ago. She was the young girl sleeping peacefully in her room while the phone was ringing ominously. The Clinton campaign purchased that footage to be included in their now-infamous “It’s 3 A.M.” television ad that some say turned the tide for Hillary Clinton in Texas.

Interestingly, young Casey would have been blissfully ignorant of the ad, because while she lives in Washington, the ad played only in television spots in Texas and Ohio. Would have been, had it not been for Jon Stewart’s airing of a parody of the ad on his nightly cable television show “The Daily Show”. Then she saw it and immediately realized the irony that her image was being used in a fear mongering television ad, mainly because in the Washington caucuses, young Casey was a precinct captain for the Barack Obama campaign.

She also says that she is trying to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August.

In an earlier interview, I saw that one, too, she joked about how maybe she and Obama could do an ad together, but the Obama campaign wasn’t joking when they called her to arrange a video spot for her.

And here it is. Released a couple of days ago on You Tube.

A lot of people are going to laugh this one off as an unfortunate or even a comical coincidence.

I think it’s a sign.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bush Library at SMU to Take Out a La Madeleine

For reasons that eternally escape me, Texas’ Southern Methodist University wants to be the host of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. They have gone to some trouble to attract the Bush people, despite the fact that George Bush never attended the school, sticking to the Eastern Establishment’s prep and Ivy League schools.

Why not Yale, then? Heck George and Barbara paid enough money to get the boy through with a degree after all. Why not give him a library there?


Not only has Yale been a big educator of great and not-so-great presidents, they actually have 19 presidential libraries in that they house the presidential papers of 19 presidents between George Washington and Woodrow Wilson.

Only since the presidency of that unforgettable president, Calvin Coolidge, have we built edifices just to house a single president’s presidential stuff.

There was even an early competition to get Dubya’s stuff on other campuses. Bayor thought they had it in the bag, being so close to Crawford, Texas. But alas, despite the fact that Baylor has acres after empty acres of university grounds on the banks of the Brazos River upon which to build a library, it was not to be. The Bush people wanted the library in a big city it seems, and SMU found itself alone in the bidding as an urban campus. The Bush people figured nobody would visit it if it were out in the country. Good point.

And therein lies the rub. SMU has no open acreage. The entire area is built up. Don’t believe me? Here is a Google Earth shot of the campus (click on it, it gets a little bigger). See that area in the lower right corner? That little strip next to the stadium? That area and the student housing behind it will be the future home of The George Dubya Bush Presidential Library.

Hey, maybe they’ll put a Starbucks on the corner – should be a killer location.

Unfortunately, all of those shops in that strip mall have got to go. They’re all built on university property anyway, so line up those bulldozers.

But wait, isn’t one of those establishments one of those cute boutique cafes called La Madeleine? Building Bush’s library is going to take out a La Madeleine? The infamy!

Local residents, upon hearing the news, are chiming in, in protest. From the Dallas Morning News:

“ ‘I'll be totally sick if I lose my cleaners, my La Madeleine, my drugstore, Horchow [Finale], even the bookstore,’ Highland Park resident Lori Collins, 57, said this week. ‘I love this strip.’ ”
This comes 4 years too late, you know. I wonder how many middle-aged white women would have withheld their vote for George Bush in 2004 had they known that he would be responsible for the obliteration of a La Madeleine café boutique?

It’s really still not too late. There is still another major city in the South (because you know the North will have nothing to do with this guy) where he can build his library. Ironically enough, the city I have in mind has lots and lots of open space, and has continued to have it, precisely because of George W. Bush. And I hear that land there, riverfront land no less, can still be had on the cheap.

My vote for the location of the George Dubya Bush Presidential “Liberry”? How about the 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana?

LSU can sponsor it.

Geaux Tigers!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

TX 22: A Study In Base Appeal

Coming off of yesterday’s post on how my superdelegate, Nick Lampson of Texas Congressional District 22, should cast his uncommitted vote for the Democratic presidential nominee, I decided to take a re-look at what the Dark Side is doing in their runoff race.

It made the KTRK news (ABC Houston), with the story’s news clip and text found here. The race is building in contentiousness as Republicans Shelley Sekula Gibbs and Pete Olson are in an elbow contest to convince the Republican base voters just who is the most conservative of the two.

“She’s a flip-flopper,” is what Pete Olson seems to be saying when he points to a Planned Parenthood questionnaire that exposes Sekula Gibbs as a flaming baby killer. When confronted with the fact that she was once “pro-choice”, Sekula Gibbs attests to a “conversion in [her] heart”, pointing to that part of her anatomy. This is just the right thing to say when appealing to the evangelical neoconservatives that form the base of Dark Side Republicanism in CD 22. A veritable “Come to Jesus” line if ever there was one.

“He’s a carpetbagger,” is what Sekula Gibbs seems to be saying when she points to the fact that Olson is “residence challenged”. Olson, who has family roots in the Bay Area, was sent to CD 22 by the Washington establishment to put up a strong and well-funded opposition to Sekula Gibbs, who put on quite an embarrassing show in her 3-week stint in Washington at the close of 2006.

“I've been here for over 20 years. I've raised my family here, paid taxes here. I have a small business here, medical practice in Webster for over 20 years, and I'm very committed. I have very deep roots in the community and he just got here about six months ago.”
Not that that wouldn’t be an easy charge to duck. It really surprises me that Olson hasn’t beaten Shelley over the head with the fact that one can’t very well live in-district for 20 or so years AND be a naval aviator. Yes, while Shelley was expressing her teenage patients’ blackheads in Houston, Pete Olson was flying a P-3C Orion off of carriers in the Persian Gulf, looking for enemy submarines.

Or something like that.

That notwithstanding, Shelley’s death grip on Olson thus far is his carpetbagger status, something that didn’t work very well against Nick Lampson in 2006, either.

So in the main, what is going to matter in this runoff election in April is not who has lived here longest, but who is the most conservative. Because that is what is going to rile up the faithful neoconservative voters who will go out to the polls during what is arguably an historic year for Democrats to retake the country. Only those who have not been disillusioned by their own party, the true hard core activist Republicans who have not, nor would ever, vote in a Democratic primary are going to show up at the Republican voting booths this April.

Contrast that to Nick Lampson. Nick is sitting in the catbird’s seat. Unopposed in the primary, Lampson did not have to appeal to the Democratic base, or any base for that matter. Nick’s center aisle politics allow him to throw bones to either side at will. While Olson and Sekula Gibbs confine themselves to the courting of the right wing extremists of the Republican Party in CD-22, Lampson can concentrate on his appeal to independents, centrists, and moderate Republicans and Democrats, leaving the left wing of the Democratic Party to watch on and participate, or not.

The one thing that gets in the way of all of this is presidential politics. As Miya Shay concludes in her piece, the one external thing that is going to affect this race in November, despite the outcome for Republicans in April, is what happens in the Democratic Party on the run-up to the convention. Who the Democratic presidential nominee is will play heavily in this race, as well as in other heavily contested toss-up districts across the country.

Which candidate will be of the most help to Nick Lampson to defeat his Republican opponent in November? Indeed, to help any Democratic candidate in a close election? We’ve all heard about “Hillary’s negatives”. About how a Hillary Clinton nomination will polarize the country and draw Republicans out of their holes and hides to vote straight Republican tickets in November. Clinton’s partisans have written that there is no proof that this scenario is valid, and up to a couple of weeks ago, I’d have given them points on that argument. But not after March 4th. Not after hearing about registration changes in Pennsylvania. Not after there is documentation that Republicans cross over to vote in Democratic primaries for two conflicting reasons: 1) to get rid of “the Clintons” forever by voting for Obama, or 2) to vote for the weaker of the two candidates, Clinton, in their view, to face John McCain in November.

This is solid evidence for an anti-Clinton backlash that is primed to strike in November, should Hillary Clinton defy the current math, and become the Democratic presidential nominee.

This is food for thought for superdelegate Nick Lampson. Does he appease the Democratic party moderates and opt for Clinton? Especially now that so many in the media are saying that Obama made the wrong “Wright decision”? In doing so, does he stack the deck against himself in November? Or does he go with the progressive wing’s Obama candidacy, a move that is also supported by voter preference in his own congressional district, after what can only be called an Obama oratory coup?

Fun times for Nick Lampson.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Which Candidate Will My Superdelegate Opt For?

It recently dawned on me when I thought about it, that I have only one superdelegate. Here in Texas, having a superdelegate is a rarity, and were it not for the fact that Nick Lampson is a Democrat in what is now most likely a toss-up congressional district, I wouldn’t have any at all.

So I was wondering today about which candidate my superdelegate was going to throw in with and could find no indications anywhere. Nick is doing the typical Nick thing: holding his cards close to his chest.

My superdelegate remains uncommitted.

The only comprehensive list of Texas superdelegates is the one assembled by Phillip Martin on BOR. Martin is BOR’s unofficial “data guy”. Although the list was posted in mid-February, he keeps it updated as news comes out. Another place to look for the superdelegate count everywhere is at this site.

According to both sites, my superdelegate, Nick Lampson is one of only two congressmen in the Texas Democratic delegation to Congress to remain uncommitted. The other one, not surprisingly, is Ciro Rodriguez, the guy who unseated Henry Bonilla in an upset after the boundaries to CD 23 were redrawn by order of the US Supreme Court. Nick and Ciro, you see, find themselves in similar situations.

So I thought I would help out my superdelegate, help him to make his decision. I went around looking for someone who has it all figured out and found this site. I try not to reinvent the wheel if it’s not necessary. The site appears to be put together by some college students, and I thought that was kind of cute. It really is nice to see the next generation getting involved. For a while there I was beginning to think that we would be running out of voters when the last one born of my baby boomer generation kicks the bucket, but now that doesn’t appear to be the case.

So according to that site, it looks like Nick should opt for Hillary Clinton. But then I read a little further and realized that not only do they have it wrong about Nick’s November opponent, something that is not actually decided yet (although I hope they have correctly called it for Shelley), they got it wrong in their conclusion that Hillary should get his vote because SD 11 went for Hillary Clinton by 57% to 42%.

SD 11?

SD 11 has some overlap with CD 22, but not overwhelmingly so.

So no, that wasn’t going to do it for me, but the idea intrigued me. The site appears to have a Hillary Clinton bias, yet also seems to have signed on to the notion that a superdelegate should cast his or her vote according to the predominant wishes of their constituents.

So to help Nick Lampson come to grips with this important decision, I knew what I had to do. I had to get out the precinct reports from all four counties that CD 22 occurs in, and find the presidential candidate totals for all of the precincts that had Nick Lampson on their ballot.


That’s over 200 precincts spread over 4 counties. Still, someone has to do it, so here you go Nick. Here is what I came up with:

Fort Bend County: 25,812 for Obama, 18,209 for Clinton
Harris County: 13,650 for Obama, 17,501 for Clinton
Brazoria County: 7,170 for Obama, 4,948 for Clinton
Galveston County: 5,440 for Obama, 4,814 for Clinton

CD 22 Totals: 52,072 for Obama (53.4%), 45,472 for Clinton (46.6%)

I don’t know, Nick, seems pretty cut and dried. Three out of four counties can’t be wrong.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Did all of that just happen? Or was it my worst nightmare?

I dreamed that I went to a Democratic Party meeting in Texas last night. It can only a dream, however, because my memory of the dream, bordering on nightmare, makes me cringe here today, this morning.

I do distinctly remember getting a call yesterday from a friend telling me about a party meeting to be held that night, and I do distinctly remember telling someone that I was planning to go, but I must have fallen asleep in front of the TV instead of getting into my car and driving to the meeting.

How else do I explain these vivid dreams?

I must have been watching that movie that my daughter told me about and urged me to watch. We viewed it together a couple of times. That must be it.

How else to explain away the fact that I thought I attended a meeting with an agenda that could fit on half of a standard 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper (were it not for the double and triple spacing), but that lasted for nearly three and a half hours? How else to explain the utter chaos that was allowed to pervade through the room? A chaos that can only be traced back to leadership that cannot lead? Organization that cannot organize?

How else?

Really and truly, if the Democratic Party is actually to awaken in Texas there must be an uplifting. An uplifting in spirit. An uplifting in a sense of right and justice. An uplifting in a common sense of urgency if the cause of the Democratic Party should fail. An uplifting in the sure and certain knowledge of Robert's Rules of Order.

The blame must be shared, however, for any meeting that dissembles into chaos. Participants need to be educated in the process, take the time to know what they are about, what the rules are and what they are not. Part of my nightmare of this chaos must have, as a cause, the indifference of the clueless. This must be addressed because the people are starting to get interested in the process again, and the people must take responsibility to educate themselves in this process.

Otherwise all that will happen is a continuation of the status quo: Republican rule of Fort Bend County for now and into the future. My nightmare is that we have this tremendous opportunity as America awakens from its drugged Republican sleep, an opportunity to rise up and wrest the controls away from the forces of greed, malice and cronyism. Only to find that our leadership is so self-occupied in delirious self-satisfaction that their house of cards, so jealously guarded, remain intact, only to find that this house of cards is nothing but that.

I had that nightmare, and then I woke up this morning wondering if it all was really a dream or not. The scenes keep running through my mind, and it’s as if all I can recall are scenes like this:

Did all of that just happen? Or was it my worst nightmare?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Texas Democratic Party to Campaigns: Chill, We Have It Covered

Even though it will be two weeks ago tomorrow that Texas held its combination primary/caucus we have people still kicking up the dust here. The main thrust of it, although I am told that both campaigns have filed some complaints with the TDP, revolves around the “Mauro Letter”. The letter sent by Clinton’s Texas campaign chairman Garry Mauro, a former Texas Land Commissioner.

With threats of a lawsuit still hanging about, here comes Garry Mauro with a letter sent to the TDP that asks for a delay of the scheduled March 29th county conventions, a second of three steps in final allotment of Texas delegates for the Democratic National Convention.

The letter alleges irregularities in the caucus procedures, and asks for a delay of indeterminate weeks until credentials of all delegates can be verified. The Obama campaign responded that “we don't think that the record-breaking number of Texans who stood up to be counted on March 4 would appreciate the Clinton campaign's attempt to disenfranchise them and silence their votes just because the outcome wasn't politically beneficial to Sen. Clinton”.

With all that as prelude, out comes a statement today from TDP Chairman Boyd Richie telling everyone to just chill out, they have things in hand. Yes there was a record turn-out at the caucuses but that in and of itself should not be reason enough to halt the process. Here is what Richie wrote in today’s news release:

"The overwhelming majority of problems reported in Texas do not affect the legitimacy of delegate allocation. It is important to remember that the precinct conventions are just the first of three steps where delegates and alternates are selected. 'Final results' will not be determined until June 6-7 at the Texas Democratic State convention. And at each convention step, Texas Democratic Party rules provide a credentials process to address problems and provide an avenue to register complaints and make formal challenges"

"For that reason, the Texas Democratic Party will not do as suggested by one campaign and circumvent Party rules to set up an unnecessary, ad hoc “verification” process that could effectively disqualify delegates selected at their precinct conventions after the fact. The Party has never stated any intention to set up a verification process of this nature because Party rules already provide for “verification” through our credentials process. Candidates who wish to disqualify delegates must pursue formal challenges based on evidence filed appropriately in accordance with our party’s rules."

"The Texas Democratic Party plans to conduct our district and county conventions on March 29 and our June State Convention in accordance with procedures set forth in Texas law and party rules. Both campaigns have the opportunity and responsibility to do their jobs by documenting evidence, filing challenges if warranted, and turning out their delegates in a system that rewards such an effort when final delegate results are determined at the State Convention in June."

There’s this guy I know, an SDEC member who sits on the SDEC Rules Committee. This guy and a bunch of others worked tirelessly to produce a series of advisories that spell out the solutions to questions that the campaigns might have over this process. That and the existing TDP rules that are online for anyone to view should help to dispel these questions.

People don’t like to read instructions or rules. It goes against their nature, I think. Rather than read about the rules in place, the assumption is that there are no rules and people and campaigns can make them up as they go along.

Or help the TDP understand its own rules.

Or worse, if they don't like the rules they want to get out their red pencils and offer where changes can be made.

Or file lawsuits when it doesn’t look like they are going to win.

Now I know that I once wrote a piece about the campaigns coming to Texas after no resolution with Super Tuesday, and I was quite happy that they were going to spend those campaign dollars in the state that usually serves as a giant ATM (withdrawals only, mind you). And I would sure would like the campaign that ultimately succeeds in getting their candidate as the nominee to come back and help us with our downballot. Yes, we need their help, but not now. We need help later this year if we are going to begin the retake of Texas as a blue state.

But you know, for now, I sure would appreciate it if they all let us alone so we can work out our votes without all their “help”.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More Americans Care About Domestic Prices Than Iraq Casualties?

Watching the Sunday morning national news programs this morning, as is my habit, I was struck by something mentioned only in passing, that only 28% of Americans knew that nearly 4000 American soldiers have been killed since the Iraq War began, now just 5 years ago this Wednesday the 20th.

It’s true. Reported at CBS News, a recent Pew Poll of Americans finds that the Iraq War has been supplanted by other issues, domestic ones. The economy. The rise in the price of gasoline and the concomitant rise in the prices of the necessities of life.

Now I understand all of that. These things are close to us and affect our lives in the immediate sense. But look, we still have two wars still going on, one of them being fought for no other reason now than the fact that we started it. We have all of this, but the prices of gasoline and food have invaded our conscious sense of urgency.

72% of us are not aware of the fact that as of today, March 17th, nearly 4000 people have been killed in this war. 3988 Americans to be exact. 4296 total coalition lives to be exact. 4296 lives have been lost in Iraq since hostilities began.

And that’s just counting our combatants. Over 89,000 Iraqis have lost their lives in this conflict, including combatants and civilians.

This is good news for the people who started this war. This is good news for the Bush Regime. This is good news that the biggest military blunder in US history is being supplanted by the price of milk.

What we need to realize, I have finally concluded, is that it is all related. These people, these tens of thousands of people, all died because someone lied. They lied and everyone just went along. They created the war, and that created artificialities everywhere. The price of oil has been steadily climbing historically, but in all history there have been nothing like the price increases that have gone on since March 2003.

Since the Iraq War began.

Even in constant dollars, oil is now higher than it has ever been in history.

It’s all related. Some people die, others pay $4 for a gallon of milk or a gallon of gasoline. It’s all related, and the blame for it all goes squarely on the leaders in power right now.

These are the ones that need to be thrown out of office by Americans, voters who have had enough of their lies and deceit. Milk or blood, it makes no difference.

It’s all related.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Road To Victory Texas

Now who the person is who made this YouTube video, I haven’t the faintest idea. But it looks like, along with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, she smells a story brewing here in Texas. She flew out from DC to find out about Rick Noriega and his campaign to bring down Dubya’s head cheerleader and rubber stamp, Senator John Cornyn.

It looks like this is going to be at least a two-parter. Part One is all about the fact that no one knows who John Cornyn is. That is not such a reach considering the fact that the man has been in Washington for 6 years now and hasn’t done a single blasted thing for Texans so that the mere mention of his name could jar someone’s memory.

Victory is within our grasp. We need the same kind of turnout in November that we had in the primaries across the nation – a turnout brought about by a universal desire for change in our government.

We can do this. Check it out at Rick Noriega For Texas.

And DSCC, this is a good beginning. It looks like you are starting to get serious about our candidate. Who knows, maybe your calls to me asking for funding, and my refusals to that, based on my desire that anything I contribute to the Senate campaign be spent in Texas, are finally getting some legs.

On that last, though, I am characteristically pessimistic.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Is Clinton Appealing to the “Cracker Vote”?

I have to say, the events of the past few days have weighed heavily on how people perceive the Clinton campaign. I have wondered in the past how Hillary Clinton can be so nice and upbeat one day, and then come out the next day bellicose, and the next day in an attitude that can only be described as mocking. I have said it and heard it said, it’s almost as if Hillary Clinton has bipolar issues.

But we know that isn’t the case. We also know that the Clinton campaign has been fraught with infighting, and that has reflected back into the public with a candidate having, at best a bad hair day, and at worst, multiple personalities. Nothing can come close to conveying this sense of campaign implosion better than Keith Olbermann’s 12 March commentary on the Ferraro affair and beyond. In it, Olbermann doesn’t attack Clinton, he attacks her judgment in allowing things to go as far as they have, time and time again.

If you missed it, I highly recommend taking a listen. It’s over 9 minutes long but worth it.

Now, I put it to you this way. It’s either that Hillary Clinton has surrounded herself with some flaming incompetents who can’t put a consistent campaign face on, or it’s that the campaign has made a very cagey and considered move toward capturing the “Cracker Vote” in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary.

James Carville himself characterizes Pennsylvania as “Pitsburgh on one side, Philadelphia on the other and Alabama in between”. Alabama, being the white kind of Alabama, not the black kind. If this is what the Clinton campaign is trying to do, then it is a very well-considered ploy. Not particularly laudable, but well-considered nonetheless.

Is this a carefully many-fronted orchestrated effort to bring out the anti-black vote? If so, they are to be both congratulated for a brilliant and timely piece of campaign stratagem and at the same time condemned for stomping on the sensibilities of people who, through words and actions, work to bring our multi-racial nation together.

On the other hand, if this is all just because of a mismanaged campaign, with too many soldiers firing cannons into the deck, is this not a reflection on Hillary Clinton’s ability to lead? How will she lead an entire nation if she can’t even direct the people who work for her?

Frankly, I don’t know which is worse.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lampson Signs Petition to Bring SAVE Act to the House Floor

Interesting, huh? Nick Lampson, our Democratic congressman from Texas CD 22 has announced that he is going to oppose House Democratic leadership and sign a “discharge petition” to bring the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (SAVE Act) out of its 7 committee hearings and onto the floor of the House for an up or down vote.

To-date, the discharge petition, which can be viewed here, has been signed by 168 legislators, 161 of them Republicans, and 8 of them Democrats. A total of 218 signatures are needed to get a majority in the House and force the SAVE Act to the floor of the House.

Now what could be on our congressman’s mind?

I have heard Nick Lampson speak on immigration and border security a few times and this doesn’t sound like what he was talking about.

What I have heard Nick Lampson say was that if we would simply enforce the laws that were already on the books, this would be quite enough to stem the flow of illegal immigration into the country.

Instead, what we have before us in the SAVE Act (HR 4048) is a measure that would boost border security by 1) increasing border patrol personnel, 2) allowing the use of military equipment (?), and 3) providing additional border surveillance (aerial and remote) . There are other things, such as giving aid to Indian tribes whose reservations abut the border. One of the big things in SAVE is the so-called employer responsibility provisions. Employers will be held to account for hiring illegal aliens by verification of their identification papers.

That last bit gave me a clue on why Lampson is doing what he is doing.

I have also heard Nick Lampson say that any immigration reform act was not going to pass any time soon. I suspect that he includes this one as well. The reasons are two-fold:

  1. Republicans love to wave the immigration red flag. Without it they have to talk about Iraq and the economy. The result is that they have whipped up this as a major fanatical issue that plucks the Mexican-hating heartstrings of Republican voters. With Nick not only co-sponsoring the SAVE Act, and signing the discharge petition, his fall opponent has little to beat his or her breast about with regard to his record on immigration.
  2. As mentioned above, this act, or any other immigration act like it, doesn’t have a prayer of passing. Democrats oppose this on several different levels. Republicans, or some of them anyway, know that the employer accountability/verification portions of the bill will devastate some important, some say strategic, industries. Like agriculture. Like construction.

Yes, America’s economy, as it now stands, depends upon a dynamically porous border.

So here is what I am guessing why Lampson is backing this so vigorously: it can’t hurt because it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in H-E double hockey sticks of passing let alone getting to the House floor, and Nick gets on record as being in favor of something that 161 Republican co-signatories also favor.

Take that Dr. Sekula Gibbs. Have a nice day, Pete “Carpetbags” Olson.

Now, I just hope that I am right on this. . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Unrepentant Geraldine Digs Heels In

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, I would have said that someone must have been misquoting the former vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

Geraldine Ferraro has been all over the news today, on Fox News where she serves as a sometime commentator, and on NBC Nightly News just a few minutes ago, trying to throw all of her guff back into the Obama campaign’s collective face.

Incidentally, she resigned today from her fundraising position on the Clinton campaign.

She says that she did that to keep get “this” out of the news.

Then she proceeded to put it all front and center stage in the news.


Why then, does she persist in calling Barack Obama an Uppity Negro? It’s true. And it’s getting pretty embarrassing for me as a Democrat. Ferraro has, get this, told the news media that Barack Obama is “playing the race card” in his attacks on her.

Now wait wait wait. Did I hear this correct? It is Barack Obama that is bringing race into the discussion? By crying “Foul” Barack Obama is introducing divisiveness into the campaign?

I have to ask here, who brought all of this up to begin with? Who made the fantastic claim that Barack Obama, by his advantage as a black man, has done so well in the presidential race. The former congresswoman is delusional.

What planet was she born on?

Is it her claim then, that she can say these inflammatory things in the middle of a heated campaign, and that the Obama campaign cannot respond in protest because to do so would be “playing the race card”?

The problem is, there are some out there that are so emotionally caught up with the notion of having a woman as the next president that these words will sound reasonable and logical.

And for the first time in the 21st century, allowing a justification of a verbal racial attack on a black person by a white person.

Time to retire, Geraldine. As to your closing remarks on your Fox News appearance, my guess is that the Obama campaign will not be requiring your services either.

Is McCain a Natural (Born) Man?

Talk about tilting at windmills. There’s a guy in Riverside, California, Andrew Aames, who is acting for a group known as the “Inland Empire Voters” in filing a lawsuit in federal court that seeks declaratory relief in that they claim that John McCain is not a natural born United States citizen.

And apparently that case is going to be heard by a federal judge.

The suit makes the case that John McCain, a navy brat, was born on the US Naval base in the Canal Zone, which was then a US territory. As such, McCain is not a natural born citizen of the United States. Here is the relevant portion of the US Constitution:

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President,…”
Hogwash, says McCain’s lawyer Ted Olsen. If that were the case, he says, Barry Goldwater, a presidential candidate in 1964, would not have been eligible either since he was born in Arizona Territory before 1913, the year Arizona became a state. But the case makes a unique point that I find tantalizing:

“In 1953 Congress passed legislation, Title 8 Section 1403 of the United States Code specifying that those persons born in the Canal Zone with at least one US citizen parent, are [or become?], United States citizens.”
Taking a stab at what they mean by all of this, I am guessing that the thrust of this argument is that prior to 1953, people born in the Canal Zone were not necessarily US citizens, but this was remedied by this act of Congress in 1953. McCain, having been born in 1936 then, was not a natural born US citizen when he was born.

Meaning of course, he is still not a natural born citizen since by definition you are either one when you are born, or you are not.

I find all of this really interesting but not entirely useful unless it is for something to talk about to impress your date. Why do I say this? It’s something that McCain attorney Ted Olsen is quoted as saying in every news article you read about this, when asked whether his client would prevail in this lawsuit, makes this prediction:

“I am confident that the United States Supreme Court, should it ever address the issue, would agree” [with him].
Considering that the Supreme Court is even more conservative, and even more politicized than it was in 2000 when it crowned George II, this is a very good, and very final point.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Daily Breeze: Geraldine Ferraro Says Obama is Black!!!

I have to laugh. I remember the small hometown daily newspaper, The Daily Breeze when I used to live in Southern California. Now, from its interview of Geraldine Ferraro last Friday, the lowly, modest and undersized Daily Breeze has had its story splashed across the pages of newspapers from coast to coast and worldwide.

And according to the article, Geraldine Ferraro says Barack Obama is a black man.

You know, I really, honestly haven’t even thought about Obama’s ancestry lately. People keep bringing it up though. As in “Isn’t it wonderful and a comment on our times that we are choosing between a woman and an African-American?”

Apparently, Geraldine Ferraro doesn’t think it’s wonderful.

Her comment, picked up by anyone with an ear to the ground, went like this:

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color), he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
Was this a woman, a former vice-presidential candidate, mind you, who was just being brutally honest – as she must be thinking in her mind – or a woman, a former vice presidential candidate (mind you) who thinks that Barack Obama is being just a little bit too uppity?

This is a guy who is taking advantage of the fact that he is black, and THAT’S why he’s ahead in the national polls, the popular vote, the delegate count, and the number of states won in the primaries?

You have GOT to be kidding.

I started to think about this, and thought that if anyone thinks Obama is at an advantage because he is black, they haven’t stepped too far outside the past few years. Like outside to Bubba’s filling station in East Texas, where the locals are pretty convinced that the South will someday rise again. Or to downtown Houston, Cleveland or Atlanta, where Barack Obama’s middle name is uttered as if it were a slur.

I hear that Senator Clinton has renounced Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks, remarks that Ferraro has even defended in today’s issue of The Breeze (as we used to call it). That’s fine but I think it’s not enough. I think it behooves the Clinton campaign to return every dollar that Geraldine Ferraro raised for the Clinton campaign to Ferraro, so that she can, in turn, return that money to the donors. I also think it is time to dismiss Ferraro from her campaign.

It really makes me wonder how many women over 50, white women, have entertained these thoughts as well. If we have someone who is allegedly sophisticated in their racial outlook, as I am sure Geraldine is, say something like this without batting an eyelash, you really have to wonder about what kind of subliminal thoughts are driving some voters toward the Clinton campaign.

Is it truly about Obama being a black man? Is it truly about something with a black man that still scares older white women?

I very much hope not, but I am characteristically pessimistic.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Clinton Superdelegate Spitzer Dips Pen in the Wrong Inkwell

Now it is beyond me to condemn a man for engaging the assistance of the world’s oldest service provider as this falls into the category of victimless crimes, but it appears that Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York has found himself on the hot seat. Earlier we had the revelation of another who engaged these intimate services, leading to the ultimate embarrassment of Louisiana Senator David Vitter, demonstrating that sexual intimacy, and having to pay for it, knows no political boundaries.

Interestingly enough, it was federal wiretapping or interception of various text messages, e-mails and telephone calls that nailed the governor. Not only did his service provider provide sensual stimulation assistance, but it appears that her organization was also involved in international money laundering. Something I’ll bet the governor was unaware of.

This can’t be of any help to
Hillary Clinton’s campaign. There is lots of footage of Clinton on stage with Spitzer, giving praise to her state’s governor. Now I’ll bet that the Hillster didn’t know that the Spitzerster was an unrepentant satyrid. And on top of all of that, Spitzer is a well-known “Mr. Clean” who worked up to his present seat of power by spending 8 years upholding the laws of New York state as its Attorney General.

So, what should Hillary Clinton do? Continue to accept the endorsement of Superdelegate Spitzer? She forgave Bill for his dalliances after all. Or since these acts of Spitzer also involved the exchange of thousands of dollars, rather than a cigar, should she reject his support and call for his resignation, as a whole passel of Republicans are now doing or about to do?

Like I said, I neither praise nor condemn the New York governor. That these services are illegal in his state is more a reflection of local mores than his character. But here is the rub: when a politician engages in the services of one who practices the world’s oldest profession, it is well-advised that you not be one of those who practice the world’s second oldest profession.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

In The Silly Season Straight Talk Goes South For the Summer

"Hilary Clinton has won states with about 260 electoral votes and Barack Obama has won states with about 190."

That’s what Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell said this morning on “This Week”.

How can you argue against logic like that?

What, with only ten more electoral votes, we have a new president, right?

My question is this: How stupid do Governor Rendell and the Clinton campaign think we are? Some in my midst would have some disagreement with that statement but there are some things I think we can all figure out. Like how electoral votes are counted when you oppose a Republican, not another Democrat.

Stuff like that.

Does Governor Rendell, or any one in the Clinton campaign think that if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, that people who voted for Clinton in the primaries will not vote for Obama in the general election? Their alternative, need I remind anyone, is to vote for Ralph Nader or Darth McCain.

So of course not. The argument is completely specious. It lacks any credibility and makes people suspicious and resentful. People see through these arguments like glass.

So I have this problem with the Clinton campaign. They won’t talk straight. They make up stories. I am guessing that this is an effect of the “kitchen sink” phenomenon.

And speaking of straight talk, what is all this with the Florida governor? He was on the same ABC program this morning. In the interview Governor Crist , a Republican, had this to say about holding a new vote in Florida to determine the delegate distribution at the Democratic National Convention:

“They exercised that precious right. I think that the Democratic National Committee should come to the common-sense conclusion that the right thing to do is to honor that vote.”
Now one would think that the governor was saying this because he and his Republican friends don’t want to foot the bill for another primary, but no one has mentioned that they should. In fact, any mention of a "re-do" in Florida also comes with proposals that the election be either entirely privately funded, or funded by each of the campaigns. No, in truth the Republican governor was simply driving the thorn in the side of Democrats a little deeper – maybe giving it a twist in the process. And maybe, since the winner of that damaged primary was Clinton, giving Clinton 105 delegates, Obama 70 and Edwards 29, netting Clinton 35 additional delegates, that could do its work in overturning the Obama lead in delegates, creating furor in the party that opposes Republicans, and give Republicans an easy win in November.

Certainly the Clinton campaign sees this by now. Howard Dean is exactly right in this argument when he said:
“[T]he only thing that can beat us is that we're divided. I have to run these rules so that the losing side feels they've been treated fairly”
I have said this before. Americans have an abiding sense of fair play and will not abide a cheater or someone who has the rules changed in mid course so that they can win. Partisans won’t care. They are with the Clintons because their passions take them there. It’s the swing voters I worry about.

Without the swing voters, Clinton can kiss the White House goodbye forever.

Obama has time on his side, and only needs another 4 years to get him some of that there experience that the Clinton campaign thinks he lacks.

Whither Goest Fort Bend Now?

Has anyone been logging on to FortBendNow lately?

Yes, I have also and plan to go there again in maybe a couple of hours.

After I come back in from watching the grass grow.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Who Will You Vote For In The Runoff? Dale Henry or Mark Thompson?


Of all things, every Texas Democratic primary runoff ballot will have the runoff election for the Democratic Party’s nominee for State Railroad Commissioner.


Railroad Commissioner. Oddly enough, well not really, this IS Texas after all, the Railroad Commissioner is less about railroads and more about oil and gas production. It’s one of those historic oddities that while, for instance, in California, all things dealing with petroleum in the state go through the California Division of Oil and Gas, all things dealing with petroleum in Texas go through the Railroad Commission. Like oil and gas production regulations. Like pipelines.

In some areas of the state, this will be the only runoff race on the April 8th election. Mark Thompson failed to get a 50% plus one majority in the primary, so will have to have a face off with 2nd placer Dale Henry.

Now I write about Mark Thompson as if anyone knows who this guy is, but no one I know has ever heard of him. I have not been able to find out why he nearly got the majority vote in the primary. Apparently Mark Thompson is a disabilities rights advocate, a therapist for blind children and an ex-policeman. That, plus a third spot on the Fort Bend County ballot got him over 48% of the vote.

Dale Henry, by contrast, is an old coot who is also a professional petroleum engineer. This is a guy who knows about the job and knows about the laws and regulations. He is very much an insider, having had professional dealings with the Railroad Commission.

Mark Thompson found himself embroiled in Railroad Commission politics when he complained about gas pipeline explosions resulting from faulty pipeline couplings and upon finding that the Railroad Commission’s enforcement letter was not being adhered to by energy companies, forced the Railroad Commission to order the changes be made.

Thompson’s campaign has been all about public advocacy, a corrupt Railroad Commission, and getting a safety issue enforced. Dale Henry’s campaign has been all about public service and a petroleum industry knowledge base.

So how does one vote in this? My thought is that some of Thompson’s success was due to the presidential primary, but that can’t be all of it. It’s possible that the voters who knew him trusted an outsider, a public advocate rather than an insider like Henry.

Or who knows, it could be because he has a long name as it appears on a ballot while the two other names are short. In the end, why a person votes the way they do for Railroad Commissioner eternally eludes me.

That notwithstanding, and despite the fact that I applaud Mark Thompson’s public advocacy, I have this feeling that if he succeeded in outpolling Michael Williams, his would-be Republican opponent in November, Mark Thompson would be a babe in the proverbial woods. Despite his record as a public advocate, which I admire, I question whether he would be able to work with the two other Republican commissioners. Whether he has the knowledge base to stay even with them.

While Dale Henry is very much an insider by comparison, I see no alternative than to advocate for him rather than Mark Thompson.

Now how will it go in April? I suspect very differently than on March 4th. In April you are going to see the die-hard Democrats at the polls, die-hards and activists, not just the some-time primary voters.

Especially if it is like it is going to be here in Fort Bend County, with, in some precincts, only that one race on the Democratic Party’s ballot.

Man, talk about anti-climactic. All I can say is that if Henry can’t pull it off here, something is wrong somewhere.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Delegate Derby: Texas Two Step and Michigan and Florida Keep Coming Up

I don’t know. After the Texas primary I thought we would all be moving on to the future. Some of us haven’t. Admittedly, one of us is me.

I’m still watching the Texas caucus numbers. Those numbers at the Texas Democratic Party’s website have not budged since last night. I suppose someone told someone else to stop updating the website with current numbers to keep the speculation down, although I think the cat is out of the bag on that. What I think we can lay it to is transparency inaction.

So the numbers jump around a bit. That’s going to happen. But for the first time there is a microscope focused on this race. So I guess it’s best for the TDP to turn off the light source.

If anyone has been paying attention, they are still counting the Tuesday night caucus results. These are not electronic ballots, nor can they be optically scanned, it is all done by hand counting. And there are some stories of caucus improprieties going around, mainly about camp A, with the stories being spread by camp B, if you get what I mean. With 48 and change percent of the caucus votes counted, it looks like Barack Obama won the Texas caucus by taking either 37 or 38 of the available 67 caucus votes. Right now he’s polling at about 56%.

But the bandwagon has moved on and everyone is now focused on Pennsylvania. The irony is that the big news is breaking here that Obama seems to be winning the Texas caucus and will have a majority of the Texas delegates at the national convention, but it’s all a big yawn now everywhere else but here.

“So what?” the Clinton camp says “Hillary won the popular vote in Texas”. I would counter that Texas has an open primary, anyone can vote for the Democratic candidates, Limbaugh ditto-heads included. The caucus is, I think, more pure. I doubt that many Republicans deigned to caucus with the Democrats. No, what we are seeing with the caucus vote is more of an indication of who will actually come out and vote for the Democratic candidate in the fall.

There are those that complain about the arcane Texas system. Especially now that it doesn’t look promising for the Hillary Clinton campaign. To this I would say this: “these are the rules that everyone agreed to, stop complaining”.

And that brings me to Florida and Michigan. Also past tense, but it keeps coming up in the present and I would hazard a guess that it will be a factor in the future if the Clinton campaign continue to press the issue, and I see no reason they won’t – pressing the point can only help Clinton’s numbers and hurt Obama’s. And a win’s a win, right?

It is if you want to leave a scorched earth all the way to the polls in November. Most people, I think, are not terribly political, but most of them are fair-minded, and have a sense of what is right.

One of the things about being in the right is obeying the rules. Florida and Michigan, two states that moved their primaries before Super Tuesday, were told that if they did this, their elected delegates would not be given a seat at the Democratic Convention. They went ahead anyway, and for the most part everyone ignored those races once it was made known that their results were moot. Now the Clinton campaign wants those delegates, and they are making vast but specious arguments for the seating of them.

I like data, and one thing I found in looking at the data is that while Florida was contested, in that Obama was actually on the ballot, and Michigan’s primary was not (by Obama), the numbers truly reflect this. Witness the turnout data. In every state where Obama and Clinton stood toe to toe, Democratic voters turned up at the polls in record numbers, some states had double and even triple the voters that usually show up in a primary. Now look at Florida. In their 2004 primary, 732,731 voters came to vote for the presidential nominee in the Democratic primary. Contrast this to 2008 where 1,749,920 voters showed. Now compare that to Michigan’s primary. In 2004, Democratic voter turnout at their primary was 1,384,200. In 2008, where only Clinton, Dodd, Gravel and Kucinich appeared on the ballot voter turnout was 594,400.

My point is, is that while Florida’s turnout numbers followed the rest of the country, Michigan actually had a reverse trend. FEWER voters showed up to vote in Michigan this year than in the 2004 primary. Clearly, this was not a valid sampling of the voters’ preference. And to press the point, you wonder what the Florida results would have been had the Obama campaign spent any time there exciting the crowds.

Now I admire the Clinton campaign for their bulldog stance in this: win at any price, get the delegates, just get them. And if I were in a snowball fight I sure would want the Clinton campaign on my side. But it’s not a snowball fight. We’re talking about the Presidency here. A presidency that has been cast in shadows for the past 2 terms. A presidency that has been arguably unfairly wrenched from the hands of Democrats in 2000, and possibly again in 2004.

We don’t need a continuation of this in 2008. I think Americans are tired of people not playing by the rules, or in the case of the Bush Regime, breaking the laws of the land.

Let the rules be applied. Let the candidates win or lose by the rules, not by circumvention of the rules. Haven’t we all had enough of this?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Texas CD 22: Runoffs Gone Wild

As anyone who pays attention already knew, the 10 little Republicans who crowded stage after stage this primary season battling for the Republican nomination for congressman in “The Fighting 22nd” have now been whittled down to the two everyone expected to get to a runoff: Shelley Sekula Gibbs and Pete Olson.

Surprises still abound though: Sekula Gibbs came in with a much weaker showing than I ever would have expected, getting only 16,681 votes or 29.72% of the vote. Olson did a little better than I expected, with 11,630 votes, or 20.72% of the vote.

Sekula Gibbs’ totals are the highest, in my opinion, because she is the candidate with built-in name recognition. Her write-in race against Nick Lampson in 2006 was all in the news. People had to learn how to activate the write-in utility of the Dial-A-Vote eSlate system that our county commissioners foisted upon Fort Bend County voters, then had to get her name spelled in some reasonable way so the elections officers could interpret “voter intent” (although to this day I still have trouble figuring out how they knew that the word “dragonc_ _ t ” meant Shelley).

Olson’s numbers are fairly high for someone who had nine fingers pointed at him with nine voices uttering the words “Stranger! Stranger!” all day. One can imagine that to these voters, that doesn’t matter so much. What mattered, I think, is that he wasn’t Shelley.

Because there’s that other newsy thing that I doubt many people have forgotten yet. The thing where Shelley won the special election, went to DC, moved into her office, took on Tom DeLay’s old staffers, waited for George and Dick to come and witness her swearing in, raised a fit when they didn’t show, had her entire staff walk out on her, and called for a congressional investigation about a standard housekeeping procedure.

Remember that? Well you can bet the DC guys that sent Pete Olson to tame this congressional district, a district that went maverick on them and elected a Democrat, hadn’t forgotten either, which is why they sent Pete in.

Upon first reflection, I am thinking that the low numbers that Shelley received are what I am starting to call the Obama/Limbaugh Effect. Rush ordered his ditto-heads to the polls in Texas and they cast their votes for Hillary Clinton. Other rightwing Republicans, maybe more fatalistic ones, rushed to the polls and voted for Obama so that they could finally get rid of Hillary Clinton once and for all (a Democrat was going to win, they said, they just didn’t want it to be Clinton). The net result is a loss of primary votes for wacky, wacky Shelley Sekula Gibbs, the neocon’s best friend.

Votes she can’t have back in the runoff, either, because they voted in the Democratic primary.

Putting, I fear, Pete Olson in the catbird seat. Now all Pete has to do is get the endorsements of his main rivals: John Manlove and Bob Talton. Dean Hrbacek was once a Sekula Gibbs cheerleader, so who knows what he will do?

With two endorsements and a much, much lower Republican turnout in the runoff, Olson is a real contender, so we ought to be seeing a real horse race here.

This upsets me a little, because I was looking for a good laugh and lots of entertainment from the GOPers who want to mount a campaign against “Liberal Lampson” (oh God I just WISH it were true). If Pete knocks Shelley out of the race, there goes the comedy.

On the bright side, if Pete Olson carries the day in the runoff, the Republicans will lose one of their biggest (and silliest) claims, that Nick Lampson is an outsider, a Beaumont carpet bagger.

Next to Olson, Nick Lampson is paisano.