Sunday, August 31, 2008

Judging John McCain’s Judgment

One of the most relevant issues in any presidential election is how sound is a president’s judgment? Will the president use common sense to solve problems? Will the president proceed in a decision knowing s/he is right and their evaluation is the best course despite the objections of social, cultural, religious or business groups?

On that, we have John McCain and Hillary Clinton, both of whom decided that what Americans craved was experience and campaigned hard pushing that issue.

Both were wrong in their judgment. The election this year isn’t about experience, it’s about change.

Obama knew it was about change, and it still is.

Now John McCain has seen the light and has abandoned his previous position about experience by naming Sarah Palin, this singularly most under-qualified state governor as his running mate.

John McCain, it seems, is all about "change."

“The Maverick” is back, they say. John McCain made a bold decision for change. He goes against the flow. How is that, I wonder? John McCain wanted Joe Lieberman as his Veep, or he wanted Tom Ridge. But neither of them would be acceptable to the Republican right wing. Lieberman is a moderate and Ridge is pro-choice. Mitt Romney was out because of his religion, but that was bolstered by Obama’s choice of Joe Biden whose son is in the process of deploying to Iraq.

As an aside, I was wondering what Mitt Romney’s sons were doing now that they weren’t doing their patriotic duty to get their father the nomination? It seems to me that they are now free to enlist.

So is John McCain being “The Maverick” on this decision for his vice-president, this crucial first judgment, or is he caving to the extreme evangelical neoconservative right wing, which again has been energized with one of their own on the ballot.

What does this say about John McCain and his judgment?

But let me close with an observation of more recent events. Hurricane Gustav is going to hit the Mississippi Delta at possibly Category 4 force. Lessons learned from Katrina force Bush to eschew the Republican Convention to look more presidential than he did when Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans. He will govern over the storm in Texas instead. You do remember the photo taken just 3 years ago of Bush landing in Phoenix Arizona on Air Force One to present John McCain with a birthday cake? On the day 1800 died in the Gulf Coast region? Well so does John McCain.

In John McCain’s judgment, the best place for he and his new running mate-to-be is hustling and bustling around in the areas about to be hit, getting in the way as people down here are doing all they can to evacuate the population and protect assets.

In John McCain’s judgment, stopping this work to get his face photographed in a hurricane command center is far more important than actually getting that work done.

Have another piece of cake, John.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Who Writes Those Chinese Fortune Cookie Fortunes, Anyway?

After spending an afternoon at the “Democrat Shack” I went to supper at a Chinese Buffet just down the street in Rosenberg with Susan and her Bubba.

Almost the whole time the dinner conversation was what a terrific blunder John McCain made when he picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. We ticked through all the scenarios. We searched for rationales. We spun off one-liners.

We wondered about God’s Plan.

We wondered why He would send a mighty wind into Louisiana again on the day Governor Palin addresses the Republican National Convention.

Then “the damage” came on its little tray with three individually wrapped fortune cookies perched upon it.

We each dove for one and wrestled them out of their plastico-cellophane wrappers. Susan read hers, then she read Bubba’s.

Then she read mine.
And smiled.

“You have got to put that on your blog, Hal," she said.

So I did.

On Democrats and Crucified Frogs

We have an object lesson to learn today. A lesson we need to have. A lesson from no less than Pope Benedict XVI. Democrats need to learn from the mistake of Pope Benedict when he sent a letter to the new contemporary art museum in Bolzano, in northern Italy, Museion, asking them to take down a piece that depicts the crucifixion of a frog that is holding a mug of beer in one “hand” and a chicken egg in the other.

Pope Benedict took offense with the piece, who said in his letter that the piece “offended the religious feelings of many people who consider the cross a symbol of God's love and of our redemption.”

Now, here’s the thing. Up until the Pope’s plaintive yelp over this work of art by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger, neither I nor probably hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people would know, would ever have known of the existence of this contemporary work of art.

But now we all know, especially now with the news that the board of directors of Museion just voted, and the frog piece stays.

What should Democrats learn from this? If the opposition wants to spend thousands and millions of dollars to get their message to the voters, that’s up to them. Democrats can do the same. But when Republicans are voiceless we need to remember not to give them one. Now I’m not talking about the blogosphere or the media. Of the former, only political blog junkies read political blogs and they know all the players already. Of the latter, well, that’s their job.

No, I’m talking about the DCCC. The “D-Trip-C.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The DCCC keeps calling me asking for a handout. And I keep telling them not to call me anymore. The main reason I have a bone to pick with them is that their tactics of support for congressional candidates is not one of promotion of the Democratic candidate. They spend money airing ads that publicize the name of the candidate’s opponent.

That wouldn’t be too bad if they publicized the opponents in a negative aspect, which is what they do, but what is bad is when opposition candidates have not spent one dime on a TV spot promoting themselves.

Now I know that there are laws that prevent the DCCC from promotion of a Democratic candidate, I may be blond, but I’m not that dumb. What I am saying is that if the DCCC wants to help out, maybe they can find another, a better way that doesn’t involve giving the opposition candidate name recognition.

As the doctors have to say when they take their Hippocratic Oath:

First, do no harm.”

Teachers’ Unions Endorse Chris Bell for State Senator

Well now, in the midst of a Democratic Convention that finally wound down to a spectacular conclusion, I find out that former Congressman and Houston City Councilman Chris Bell has been endorsed not only by the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) but by my own union, the Texas American Federation of Teachers a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the American Federation of Teachers, proud members of the AFL-CIO.

And as a card-carrying member of the Texas AFT it is my honor to fully endorse and support Chris Bell in his bid against three Republican challengers in the Senate District 17 special election to be held with the general election on November 4th.

The good news is that in the latest polls, Chris Bell has a commanding lead in this pack, with 42% aligned with him. This is unprecedented. SD 17 has been a Republican sanctuary for eons untold. SD 17 enfolds the heart of DeLay country. And here we have Chris Bell leading the three Republicans in double digits. His nearest competitor is a guy with an unfortunate and unrecognized name, a guy named Furse, rhymes with hearse.

You might have noted a new icon that I have included under the campaigns that I support. Chris Bell will be a great state senator. Please click on the icon and drill down to the ActBlue page that accepts online donations to Chris Bell’s campaign. Or just click here.

It will be dead presidents well spent.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why John McCain Named Sarah Palin His Running Mate Today

When I heard from a student today that McCain had named his running mate, and that it was Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin, my first thought, my first question was “Why her?” Will the right wing nasties, even their women, want to vote for a woman who will be “a heartbeat away?”

Misogyny, I think, was invented by the Republican Party.

Has McCain just given away the election?

I think not. I have thought about this some for the better part of half a day and I have come up with ten very good reasons why John McCain should have named Sarah Palin as his running mate. It’s so obvious to me now.

So without further ado, I give you the Top Ten Reasons Why John McCain Named His Running Mate Sarah Palin Today (with further apologies to David Letterman).

10. It’s the name. If you take out the “L” the ticket becomes McCain/Pain.

9. Experience. Sarah Palin has been a woman all her life, and one thing that John McCain lacks is expertise in the fairer sex. Had he known Sarah Palin all those years ago, she probably would have counseled him that it wouldn’t be a particularly good idea to run around with his present wife while his current wife was abed with a fatal disease. She would have told him that it wouldn’t look good if he ran for president some day.

8. Age. Sarah Palin is 44 years old. She solves the problem of collective age. Together, Obama and Biden have been on this planet for 112 years. McCain and Palin together? 116 years. Age becomes a non-issue, right?

7. Executive and military erudition. Governor Palin has been the chief executive of Alaska for darn near two years now. And she is the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. McCain has never led anything but the dinner line, and his military experience consists of getting shot down over enemy territory.

6. Palin flips to McCain’s flop. In 2007 she said “Thanks but no thanks” to the now-famous “Bridge to Nowhere.” But in 2006 she couldn’t wait to get the thing built. Their flip-flops complement each other.

5. Given McCain’s penchant for dumping old aging wives for young things, the McCain/Palin ticket gives new meaning to the term “running mates.”

4. With Bush leaving office in January, there would have been no one to fill in the void he leaves in having an anti-science activist in the Executive Branch. Sarah Palin fills the bill. She is against stem cell research, doubts global warming and is in favor of creationism being taught in public schools.

3. Sarah Palin solves the Romney problem. Had he picked Mitt it would have not only pissed off the Christian Evangelicals, in which Sarah is counted in their number, but it would have raised the issue of whose son is fighting in Iraq (Biden’s) and whose are not (Romney’s).

2. Another way Sarah Palin complements John McCain: where John McCain is old, bald, wrinkled, ugly, mean and nasty, Sarah Palin is a recent former beauty queen who desperately wishes for “World Peace.”

And the number reason why John McCain should have picked Sarah Palin as his running mate?

1. As Alaska’s Governor, Sarah Palin has already shown that she is well along in her quest to take over for “Dead Eye” Dick Cheney. Cheney has shown time and time again how he can be so abusive of power that isn’t really his to wield. Sarah Palin, with only two years as governor, is already being investigated for abuse of power when she fired her Commissioner of Public Safety when he refused to dismiss her abusive ex-brother-in-law. Now that’s what I call Republican executive material.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barney Smith At the DNC With the Sound Bite of the Convention

Oh good God.

Did you watch the closing night of the Democratic National Convention? If you watched the talking heads on the networks you missed it. This was, by far, the greatest “sound bite” of the convention in my humble opinion. I was watching CSPAN with a bunch of fellow Democrats at the Rosenberg, Texas Headquarters. The room erupted in a roar of exclamations and applause.

Barack Obama did a great job, too.

Really, he did. I was transfixed.

But I will be eternally wondering, where did they get Barney Smith?

Republicans: Be Wary of What You Pray For – It Might Come To Pass

I noted with not just a little mirth at Stewart Shepard’s unbelievable plea to his God on high to rain on Barack Obama’s parade.

He had all his bases covered but one: what if God replies with a counter offer?

Here is his video on YouTube:

Funny, huh?

If you watched the DNC closing night at Invesco Field (Mile High Stadium? Where’s that?) you would have seen deep azure skies without the slightest hint of a cloud of any kind.

The only rain that fell on Invesco Field tonight was confetti.

But wait, there’s more.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to kick off on Monday, September 1st. At just about the same time as the opening remarks from their convention, Hurricane Gustav should be about ready to make landfall on the beleaguered city of New Orleans. A city that has yet to recover from Hurricane Katrina, courtesy of the Republican Regime in Washington, DC.

So at the exact moment the GOP convention convenes, the Lord our God sends a hurricane to wreak a repeat performance on New Orleans.

That should be maybe a little newsworthy, and not only draw national attention away from the Elephantitis Party and their lies, but it should again underline Republican failures that we Americans have had to endure.

I have to wonder what god Stewart Shepard prays to. Because He certainly doesn’t listen to Shepard. Apparently, Shepard’s personal supreme being is vested with an incredible instinct for irony.

And I do love irony.

Sure I am concerned for the people who are now threatened by a coming hurricane. I hope that they all get safely out of the way. These people have paid their dues and need a break. But maybe, just maybe, Stewart Shepard’s prayer has had an effect that he did not anticipate.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fort Bend Democrats Labor Day Event to Be Celebrated With Gustav

Well, it happens. The Fort Bend Democrats are again celebrating their Countywide Labor Day Campaign Kickoff this coming Sunday, August 31st. That is, just about the time Hurricane Gustav makes a decision on which Gulf Coast coastline it will make landfall.

Hey, this is the Gulf Coast.

It happens.

What could be a great event as area Democrats celebrate Labor Day with “Staycations,” and make their way to a great kickoff event, could turn out to be cataclysm if those of us in southeast Texas make Rita-esque flights up the contra-flow lanes

But if southeast Texas dodges this bullet why not put this great event on your calendars and come on down to the Sugar Land Community Center at 226 Matlage Way in Sugar Land?

We are holding the event Sunday afternoon between 3 and 6 PM. We’ll have barbecue for $15 a plate and a bunch of state and local candidates to meet and greet.

We’ll have some very rare campaign memorabilia up for auction.

And we’ll have Congressman Al Green give a barnburner of a keynote speech that will make some of the speeches at the DNC this week look pale in comparison.

Need something to help you decide between fight or flight? Here’s a link. As it stands right now New Orleans’ loss will sadly once again be our gain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Insanity of Drill, Drill, Drill

Now, while the Democratic Convention has all our eyes riveted to the TV, I was looking at other news in the Houston Chronicle today and noticed that with the incursion of Hurricane Gustav into the Gulf of Mexico, oil speculators drove up the price of crude oil nearly 3.5% in one day.

From The Chron:

“‘The question is whether it hits northern Mexico and southern Texas, or does it head for the big production areas’ of the Gulf, said Chris Jarvis, president of Caprock Risk Management LLC in Hampton Falls, N.H. ‘We're going into the peak storm season.’”
So while Republicans (and some Democrats) are screaming “Drill here and drill now” (the “here" being the Outer Continental Shelf) we have an approaching hurricane where the mere chance that it takes aim at offshore platforms drives up the price of nonrenewable oil and natural gas.

This is just crazy.

The false claim that drilling in the OCS will bring down gasoline prices at the pump is made even more false, if that is even possible, by today’s oil speculation market which cashes in on the slightest chance of a oil supply shortage caused by a hurricane.

Hurricanes are newsworthy but there should be no surprise here if one of them takes out an offshore production platform or two. And that the oil speculation market reacts as it does to news that is as thin as this is, merely underscores the need to close the Enron Loophole – the loophole that allows oil speculators to have too much control on the price of this commodity.

Instead of “Drill here, drill now,” as Republicans (and some Democrats) are saying, wouldn’t it be a safer and saner activity to launch an all out assault on developing alternative forms of energy (as other Democrats are saying)? Isn’t that the best use of our scientific resources? Let’s keep that oil in the ground for our grandchildren and their children. There isn’t any more oil being made that we can access for maybe another 2 million years, so maybe we should be a little more forward thinking.

But no, that won’t happen. Know why? It took me this many words to communicate a fairly complex thought about mindless exploitation of nonrenewable energy. It took a lot of time to write it.

I can’t reduce it into a sound byte like the Republicans (and some Democrats) do when they shriek from the rooftops: “Drill Here! Drill Now!”

Monday, August 25, 2008

At a Watch Party in Rosenberg, Texas

Why do they call it a “Watch Party” anyway? When I was a lot, a whole lot, younger, when I heard that term I thought it was like a “Tupperware Party,” but instead of selling plastic containers that burp, they sold watches.

And it’s not like you have other kinds of “Watch Parties,” right? When people gather to watch the Superbowl they call it a “Superbowl Party.” No, the idea of a “Watch Party” is very definitely a political one.

So the Fort Bend Democrats had a Watch Party tonight on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.

There was a potluck table.

There was lots of talking and trading of lies.

There were new campaign buttons to buy.

There was Teddy Kennedy.

And by God, there was Michelle Obama. Now it’s a school night so I had to leave before she spoke, but don’t think I would ever have missed her speech. I got back to the Half Empty Hovel in time to see all of it.

All I can say is “My God.”

If Michelle Obama hadn’t up to tonight passed the litmus test of her mettle, of her poise, and of her superior “brainiac-ness” I think there is little doubt in the minds of the millions who saw her speech tonight that she certainly has passed that test now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Play Hooky, Wear An Ankle Bracelet

Texas is known for its penchant to overreact. I’ve seen it again and again both at the state and local level. So it seems timely, on the eve of the 2008-09 school year start up, to comment on a new policy going into effect in Bexar County.

Play hooky and you get to wear a GPS ankle bracelet.

It seems that there is a small group of students in Bexar County that have trouble finding their way to school. These are in large part high school students. And the theory goes that habitually truant students are good candidates for mandatory attendance in other state- and county-run institutions within the criminal justice system.

In short, the theory is that truancy begets criminality.

So to nip this thing in the bud, a 6-month pilot program is going into effect in Bexar County via the court of JP Linda Penn, whereby habitually truant students, about 50 in number, will be fitted with irremovable ankle bracelets that house Global Positioning Systems. So the minute-by-minute positions, and by extension, activities of these students will be known.

Because, face it, if they are not in school, the Bexar County court wants to know not only where they are, but what they might be doing.

But wait, it gets better. When school lets out in the afternoon, the ankle bracelets stay on. Their positions and activities may be monitored after school. This, a Texas ACLU executive director says, is an invasion of privacy.

“We're all for keeping kids in school, and we applaud any efforts to make that happen, but the privacy issue: What happens with the bracelet or anklet after school is out? Is that appropriate for the school or courts to know where and what this person is doing outside of school?”


Now tagging a child who is in the habit of running away from home is one thing, but 24 hour monitoring of a kid who simply fails to show up for a free education seems to me like overkill.

Isn’t it enough that teachers do daily reports on their students’ attendance? Is it the business of a court not only to know where the child is when they are not in school, but also when school is over for the day?

All because truancy leads to criminality?

This reminds me of a futuristic movie that came out several years ago where people were charged, arrested, sentenced and punished for their future crimes. I think you know what I am talking about. The film was called “Minority Report.” It pointed out that a system that discovered the future crimes of people, then tried and punished them before the crimes were ever committed was fatally flawed.

It punished people who hadn’t, and never would, commit a crime.

Kind of like putting GPS ankle bracelets on kids who play hooky.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DCCC Is Again Riding Shotgun for Nick Lampson

Texas CD 22 is a congressional district targeted for a retake by the Republicans. Nick Lampson was placed at the top of Karl Rove’s “hit list” of Democratic congressmen. And the Republican Party looked deep for a credible candidate besides the one that they sent to Congress in December 2006 to serve out the term of discredited congressman Tom DeLay.

They found one in Pete Olson, a Phil Gramm/John Cornyn sycophant who was once a Navy pilot.

But Pete Olson is a virtual unknown outside of the Washington, DC beltway. A fact that has escaped the notice of the DCCC which now has an ad up and playing on the Houston area media. Amazingly, I keep seeing it played on my cable feed of MSNBC.

So what is possibly on the minds of DCCC people when they take an unknown guy like Pete Olson and plaster his name and photograph all over CD 22 television screens. On this 30 second ad:

Their contention is that Pete Olson wants to “raise your taxes.” Raise your taxes with a 15% increase in sales tax. This is something that the Republicans are calling the “Fair Tax,” something that Pete Olson endorses as a replacement for federal income tax.

So my objection is two-fold. First, why spend tens of thousands of dollars informing the public who Pete Olson is, even if you paint who he is in a bad light. Second, why resort to Republican/Rovian tactics of sound bites with half-truths. Some of my cohorts will disagree, but I still believe in integrity.

Nick Lampson is going to have a hard enough time retaining his seat this November without the DCCC informing the public so well. They have bought into the notion that Republicans will vote for someone based on ideas. Based on how someone votes. Based on some sort of thought process.

No, the DCCC made this mistake in 2006 and it nearly cost Nick Lampson his race against a write-in candidate. Now they’re at it again. And again, this could put CD 22 back in Republican hands. This, in a year when Democrats are expected to make huge gains in November.

Harry Truman said it best when he said this:

“When voters are given a choice between voting for a Republican, or a Democrat who acts like a Republican, they'll vote for the Republican every time.”

Biden Biden Bo Biden Banana Fanna Fo Fiden

Me My Mo Miden . . . Biden

In the end, do you know why Barack Obama didn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate?

Here is why:

This is the hit piece that the McCain Campaign came out with today on the news that Barack Obama has named Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

This is the best they can do.

Can you imagine what they would have come up with had Hillary Clinton been given this spot? Not only Hillary’s vociferous attacks on Obama, but also attacks from a former President.

That being said, what is all this guff about Clinton delegates circulating a petition to put Clinton’s name in nomination for Vice President? These people are either completely at sea, a full bubble off, and not firing on all pistons, or they are McCain operatives – Republicans who got themselves invited to the Democratic Convention.

It has got to be option two.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Brunswick Roach Race Rigged

New Brunswick Roach Race Rigged

Fame is wherever you can find it, and in New Brunswick, New Jersey, fame has come in the form of a presidential roach race.

Apparently, they have been doing this for years.

14 of them.

There are some crazy, crazy people in New Brunswick. Cray-ZEE. Some pest control guys get two Madagascar hissing cockroaches to race each other down a six-foot long track. And in a presidential election year, they attach a caricature to each of them of the Democratic and Republican candidates, and then run them down inside the Plexiglas enclosed track. You have to wonder whether using a cockroach to represent both the Democratic and Republican candidates was the tongue-in-cheek editorial comment of an Independent voter.

As you will see, as I have the entire race in a You Tube embedded video, the cockroach representing John McCain won hands down.

Now, as a predictor of outcomes of presidential races, this particular event has a credibility problem. For one, it seems that in their 2000 race, the cockroach representing Al Gore won by an antenna.

And quite frankly, that roach carrying the Obama cartoon looked like it had just spent the last half hour sitting on an ice cube. I agree, the race was rigged.

Lesson: Republicans will use any and all devices to get their guy elected.

Even a Madagascar hissing cockroach race.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John McCain Supports Bringing Back The Draft

Now if there hasn’t been a reason not to vote for John McCain in some peoples’ minds, maybe there is now. Maybe young men between the ages of 19 and 26 will think again about pushing in that pin, pulling that lever or bubbling in that circle for John McCain.

Because John McCain has in his own inimitable way, admitted that he agrees with the notion of reinstituting the military draft.

Not only young men, mind you. What about parents and grand parents of these young men?

Now here is a You Tube video showing McCain at a town hall meeting in Las Cruces, where he made this admission:

Now a McCain spokesman put out a statement a day later categorically denying that McCain supports bringing back the draft.

Yet when you look at how McCain replied to his questioner, you do have to wonder if that is true. Outside of the draft comment the questioner didn’t present anything for McCain to agree to except for her observations about how veterans are being treated and what will that mean for future military recruitment quotas. The gist of her question was given how we treat veterans, how will we be able to kill or capture Osama bin Laden if there are fewer and fewer recruits. Given all of that, the commenter observed “If we don’t reenact the draft, I don’t think we’ll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.” And you all saw what McCain's reply was.

“Ma’am, let me say that I don’t disagree with anything you said.”

Now that’s a double negative which we educators hate because the meaning becomes hazy, which was probably McCain’s intent. So let me redact his reply, excising the double negative:

Ma’am, let me say that I agree with everything you said.

He went on to quote George Washington who, in 1789 observed this: those who sign up for military service in the future will do so based upon how they see the country treat its present-day soldiers.

So you see, he is not agreeing with the woman’s observations about how shabbily our veterans are being treated, he is agreeing with the woman’s major premise, that this will impact the numbers of future volunteers.

Reinstituting the draft is just a small, very small, leap in logic.

And remember, McCain is on record as saying that he would consider reinstituting a draft that is fair. In a September 27, 2007 New Hampshire town hall meeting, he said this:

“There has never been a draft that I have ever heard of, since World War II that was fair. What we’ve done is we find rich people find a way out and lower income people are the ones that serve. So, if you could design . . . I might consider it . . . I don’t think it’s necessary . . .but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally would serve. But it just
doesn’t happen.”

So now we have a quote from McCain agreeing that having a military draft may be necessary, and the only way we will send Osama bin Laden to the nether regions, and one saying that he might consider a draft if it is fair.

So I really don’t think they can argue their way out of this one, I really don’t. So rather than try to do just that, they categorically deny that he meant what we all heard him say.

Fancy that. A Republican denying what is plainly the truth.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of getting out of the draft, need I again remind everyone that Texas’ junior US Senator, John Cornyn, is one of those people that finagled a way out of being drafted? While thousands of his age mates put it on the line and had their birthdays pulled out of a spinning drum, John Cornyn took advantage of a poorly understood and largely unannounced loophole in the selective service act that still allowed students to file for 2S student deferments even after the lottery was instituted.

I took my chances on the lottery, and my number was 296. Cornyn didn’t. When he and hundreds of other young men born on February 2, 1952 drew number 28, Cornyn stayed home while others went to war.

Oh, but that’s OK, he more than made up for this by voting against providing body armor to our soldiers in Iraq.

McCain and Cornyn: Two John’s we don’t need in DC anymore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Texas Senator Cornyn Does NOT Support Our Troops

Take a look at this Vote Vets video. Our junior senator from Texas, Senator John Cornyn, does not support our troops, however many times he has his flacks say it is so. And his flack attack on this issue makes him look like Uncle Sam himself.

The only thing that is common between Uncle Sam and John Cornyn is a head of prematurely grey hair.

John Cornyn has a great head of hair and an innocent face. But that’s about all there is to that. His votes in the Senate have been, shall we say, challenging to our troops in the field.

And then he voted against the GI Bill of Rights.

No. It’s too late. Don’t call Senator Cornyn. He is NOT LISTENING.

Instead you need to listen to Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega, and then when you have convinced yourself that this is the guy who is the real deal, then commit your vote to him, and tell your friends to follow your lead. Tell them to get what dead presidents they can to his campaign. Cornyn is loaded. He will buy this seat back with his oil and PAC dollars if we remain apathetic.

Yeah. [very low gravelly Texan-accented voice] “Git ‘er done”.

On Trial Lawyers and Their Money

I mentioned before in a previous post about how Republicans need to be concerned about whose money is “dirty” and who is taking it.

But it now seems that Republicans’ constant ranting over Fred Baron’s “dirty money” has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. Now, not only do Democratic candidates have to return Fred Baron’s money, but indeed, they must return the campaign contributions of all lawyers.

Lawyers, it seems, are bad, bad people. It’s the campaign contributions of lawyers that keep Democrats in their hip pockets, and keep Democrats voting against tort reform. Because tort reform is by its very definition a good thing. A pure thing. A Republican thing.

As quoted in a curious piece in a Dallas Morning News blog:

“Cornyn's camp said Noriega should not only return the $4,600 his campaign received from Baron and his wife, Lisa Blue. Noriega also ought to ‘refuse to participate in the coordinated campaign of the Texas Democratic Party, which Baron and his trial lawyer buddies have bought and paid for,’ McLaughlin said.”

“McLaughlin” is Kevin McLaughlin a Cornyn Campaign spokesman, also wrote this (warning, it’s on Cornyn’s campaign website – women who are pregnant and people with elevated blood pressure may wish to avoid this site.)

I’ll paste a little of it below so you can get a flavor – it’s OK to read it, I have purged it of bad karma.

“‘What is more important to Rep. Noriega—the safety of the American people, or his close relationship with trial lawyers?’ asked Kevin McLaughlin, spokesman for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s re-election campaign. ‘There is only one group that would benefit from the vindictive, frivolous lawsuits that Noriega is trying to protect. That is the trial lawyers who would bring massive suits against companies attempting to act in the national interest.’”

Is this guy kidding? Do I need to do this? Just as I did when they hauled out Fred Baron, and I replied with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff (Well let’s add to that Ralph Reed)?

OK. I’m up to this.

It’s all at Who is among John Cornyn’s top 5 campaign contributors.

Haynes & Boone.

Haynes & Boone is a law firm.

Yep, ExxonMobil exceeded the total contributions from this law firm by a mere $11,785.

But wait, there is more.

Which industrial group has the honor of being the single biggest campaign contributor to John Cornyn’s campaign fund?

The eyes don’t deceive. Lawyers and Law Firms. That is nearly 7% of his total intake since 2003, and 12% of his total cash on hand.

So what about it? Shouldn’t John Cornyn be offering to return 12% of his campaign fund to his lawyer contributors because their money is “dirty”? Or is their money “clean” for Cornyn because John Cornyn is in favor of limiting civil court awards to Texans who have been ripped off by Corporate America?

How does a Democrat spell “hypocrite”?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Texas And Its Love Affair With Guns

Look at what came into my inbox today: an email from my congressman telling me about a Town Hall meeting to be held tonight, celebrating gun owners’ rights to keep and bear arms.

Nick Lampson, you will recall, is a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association, and this allows him to be associated with right-leaning gun-toting constituents of CD-22.

You notice he repeats how he supported the recent Supreme Court decision which struck down the District of Columbia’s anti-gun ordnance by essentially cutting out the whole reason why it is such a good idea to keep and bear arms. The Supremes did this to the 2nd Amendment.

Leaving Americans only the bad reasons to keep and bear arms.

But that’s OK, this is Texas after all. You have to make allowances for gun-totin’ tobacco chewin’ constituents who also vote.

Why am I harping on this once again? It has to do with the timely bit of news coming out of the tiny Harrold Independent School District in Harrold, Texas [map]. Harrold is a one-horse town just off US 287 in North Texas. It seems that their board of trustees has just OK’d a district policy change that allows teachers to carry concealed weapons during the school day.

Now wait. They didn’t just go into this all helter-skelter (sorry perhaps a poor word choice), they put some thought into this. The teachers must be licensed to carry concealed weapons and take a course in “crisis management and hostile situations,” and must use ammunition that is less prone to ricochet.

Their reason? They are 30 minutes away from police protection, and right next to the hustle and bustle of US 287 which brings all sorts of elements up north from . . . Wichita Falls.

So now that we don’t keep and bear arms because having a well-maintained militia is a good idea, we keep, bear, and wear arms in school buildings. Arms that don’t shoot bullets that ricochet. I guess, ammo made of very soft materials like soft expanding lead.

Now that is what I call a grand idea.

We replace minimally paid armed police and sheriff’s deputies with minimally paid armed school teachers.

In addition, I think students would probably think twice about sassing back over a low grade they received if they knew that their teachers are packing heat.

This all reminds me once again of the immortal words of Senator Tip O’Neill:

“All politics is local.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama In A Landslide – Finally Someone Is Saying It

I have had this nagging feeling that I have not been sharing around much, mainly because it goes right up against my central tendency, to expect the worst in all cases. So if I were to adhere to basic principles, I would expect McCain to be victorious in November, and be pleasantly surprised when Obama upsets him.

But oddly enough, it’s not that way with me.

But I have an even more unusual stance here. I am looking for a landslide for Obama.

Like I said, I haven’t shared this with many folks, and maybe it’s so I can still look cool, but I have gotten agreement from some. If I’m not mistaken, George Will said as much on a Sunday news program a couple of weeks ago. But Will can say that and while everyone can be shocked, no matter what George Will says, he cannot by the very definition of “cool,” look cool.

But now I find this piece in the Austin American-Statesman. It reports an interview of former McCain operative John Weaver by Texas blogger Paul Burka. Here is the meat of what Burka found:

“The result was a provocative account, including Weaver’s fret that Sen. Barack Obama will best Sen. John McCain by a landslide if McCain’s strategy doesn’t change. . .”

The operative word, friends and neighbors, is landslide.

Now why do I think that it will be Obama in a landslide if national polls have Obama and McCain in a close race within 5 or 6% of each other? Well, basically, the polls are modeling based on the past.

And based on landlines.

National polls rely on data from “likely voters.” It is my contention that we no longer know who the likely voters are anymore, because likely voters are voters who have voted in the past.

It is my contention that we are going to be getting a whole lot of votes from new voters, either newly registered or voters who have been turned off by politics and politicians.

And it is my contention that many of these voters don’t have landlines. They are the cell phone generation, and polling organizations don’t call cell numbers.

That’s my take. John Weaver may have his own take based on “sour grapes,” because, as I said, he is a former McCain strategist. And this strategist is saying McCain will lose if he continues with his present strategy.

So, QED, huh?

Maybe and maybe not. I happen to agree with Weaver that there is a great disaffection with the Republican Party, one that will not be overcome by John “The Maverick” McCain’s apparent political independence. One that may have been true in the past, but is true no longer.

One that is very prevalent among the “cellular set.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Congressman Al Green On Electing Democratic Judges

We have a bunch of candidates running in this election for all sorts of judges and justices. And it is up to us not only to cast a straight Democratic vote in November, but to tell everyone we know to do it.

Nothing is more important than justice and the rule of law, and here in Fort Bend County justice is a commodity. Texas has a lop-sided representation of Republican judges in office and it is beginning to show.

Listen to the words of Congressman Al Green as he spoke to a throng of Democrats on August 16th, about getting justice in these times.

A Grand Opening Party at Fort Bend Democrats East Side Headquarters

If you missed the Fort Bend Democrats’s first ever East Side Headquarters grand opening, then I have some pictures for you to see. There’s more over here on flickr courtesy of Susan.

This was taken right at about the starting time, 6 PM. See how nice this place is? It’s not quite the polished wood block paneled walls in offices that you find associated with the Dark Side, but it’s a little nicer than the Democrat Shack we have in Rosenberg.

Here is the Fort Bend Democrats Boutique. T-shirts were hot items.. We also have those wrist bands, buttons, bumper stickers, yard signs, rally signs – all that stuff you just can’t find in stores.

Then someone rang the dinner bell and the line formed for a plateful of barbeque. This barbeque was unique in that the plates were filled with lightning speed. I never saw a line move so fast.

Then the speeches began. That’s Skip Belt wearing Old Glory speaking into a microphone that wasn’t working. Skip was responsible for getting this space and setting it up. That’s Susan’s “Bubba” with the donkey tie.

Then the candidates were invited to address the crowd, and we had a few of them there. First at bat was Jim Sharp who is running for Texas 1st Court of Appeals Justice. Sharp (that’s Sharpe without the “e” ) came within a hair’s breadth of winning his race in ’06 and there’s hope in the air for this race.

Then Leslie C. Taylor, who is also running for Appellate Justice, just another place on the court came up. I have to admit that Leslie Taylor has got to be about the most ubiquitous candidate I have ever seen. She shows up for everything, and has even been to the Fort Bend Democrats’ regular monthly meeting.

Then in the District Judge races, we had Milton Flick who is running for District Judge of the 400th Judicial District,

and Albert Hollan, who is running against a Perry appointee in the newly established 434th Judicial District.

Albert was the first to point out to the crowd that this year we all must vote a straight Democratic ticket. In a presidential year, especially when there is such energy in this presidential race, the downballot candidates can be overlooked. Albert urged the crowd to tell people that they have met these downballot candidates and saw that they were good people and good Democrats, and to vote a straight ticket.

Then Richard Morrison, who first showed that Tom DeLay was vulnerable in 2004 came up. Morrison is running against a Toll Road Loving Republican for what is going to be a hotly contested race for Fort Bend County Commissioner, Precinct 1. Morrison told an amazing story of the growth of Democratic voters in a precinct next to his. When he ran for congress there were 17 Democrats listed, but the numbers from the March ’08 primary showed many times that number.

Morrison introduced his friend Chris Bell, who placed second in the gubernatorial race in 2006. Bell, sporting some new eyewear this year, is running in the Special Election called by Rick Perry on November 4th to replace Republican State Senator Kyle Janek, representing Senate District 17, who stepped down just shortly after being re-elected, but not shortly enough so that Perry could call a special election before November. The good news is that it sounds like the special election will appear at the top of the ballot rather than the bottom. Bell cited some stats that make this race one to watch closely.

Now Rick Noriega is upstate somewhere campaigning, but his wife, Houston City Councilwoman Melissa Noriega (aka “Mrs. Rick”) was in town to speak for her husband who is in a head-to-head race to unseat Texas’ junior United States Senator “Big Bad” John Cornyn. Hey, I just noticed something. Melissa and Chris Bell have similar taste in eyewear.

Then, winding up the evening was the keynote speaker, Congressman Al Green. Green, who is also known as Reverend Green, had a stirring speech that was punctuated with applause several times. He hit all the high points that are of deep concern to Fort Bend County as well as his constituents elsewhere. It was fun to hear him talk about his voting record and how he feels fortunate to be representing a district which allows him to cast his votes the way he does, true Democratic votes. He was effusive in his praise for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting that this was another person who should be considered in the current vice presidential beauty contest. All of that, and Green also urged a straight Democratic ticket vote, a vote that would also return Nick Lampson to congress – which he also urged. Without 218, Green proclaimed, you don’t get to set the agenda, and we Democrats need to set the agenda.

Well, that’s about it. After the last speech of the evening, the party goers slowly filtered out the door, but it looked like some were going to stay all night. This was finally put to an end with Skip Belt’s booming voice telling everyone to “Go home now.”
So we did.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

When They Call, Mess With Their Minds

McCain Republicans are phone banking now trying to raise some campaign funds. Oil companies, the insurance industry and arms manufacturers alone can’t get him elected.

He needs the money of middle class dupes as well.

So they called me. I still have no idea what phone list they are using but that’s of no concern to me. I rather relish the idea that they spend their time and money calling folks like me to ask for money.

Because I keep them on the line.

First question out of the chute is “Do you know who you will be voting for president? Barack Obama or John McCain.”

“Oh, John McCain, absolutely,” I answered.

[Voice gets friendly in the way Republicans get once they locate one of their own].

“Well I am so glad to hear that. Our country needs solid Republican leadership . . .”

. . . and on and on.

I let him keep on reading his script, telling me about not surrendering in Iraq, about how Obama will nominate liberal judges, about how my taxes will be going up. But that I can help to prevent all that if I would put a check in an envelope that they will send to me.

Now at this point, I am thinking I can do two things. I can tell him to send that envelope on and they waste 23 cents in postage. Or I can mess with them.

I decided to mess with them.

“Wait now, I didn’t know any of this. Are you telling me that Obama will nominate liberal judges and McCain won’t?”

“Yes, he absolutely will.”

“And McCain is against universal health care?”

“Yes, he . . .”

“I had no idea. Thank you sir, you have just changed my vote.”


Now that phone banker has one of three choices in how to evaluate that call. He can classify me as an Obama supporter who is also a smartaleck with a little too much time on his hands (the correct one), and he just wasted his time. He can classify me as a persuadable who just got persuaded the other way. He can classify me as a persuadable who can still be turned to the Dark Side.

Any way you cut it, I win.

Friday, August 15, 2008

John Cornyn: To Whine or Not To Whine, That’s The Obfuscation

Texas’ Junior Senator John Cornyn has been getting quite a pass from the press these past few days. I’ve been watching it but it is best summarized over here. My main beef with this is that it is an example of pure lopsided treatment in this senatorial race.

Texas Democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega has trouble getting 2 inches of print in a regional rag, and Cornyn has press from one end of the state to the other fawning on him.

And it’s not like he is strapped for cash getting his name out. The guy’s got over $9 million.

So why in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks does this guy’s campaign start whining when The Houston Chronicle puts out a single Op/Ed piece on Cornyn’s statement that praised the healthcare system of Texas and wanting to make it the national standard?

It’s all in a memo that his campaign put out to Cornyn’s supporters, asking them to complain to the Chronicle about their criticism. This is an overt attempt to pressure the media to toe the line and stay on his side of the issues. I’ll not produce the entire diatribe, just the meat [emphasis is mine]:

“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Cornyn spoke to a Pachyderm Club meeting in Houston that was covered by the Houston Chronicle. The subsequent article focused on health care and led off with the sub-headline "Senator says state is a model for nation, despite having so many without insurance." Needless to say, the headline did not accurately reflect Senator Cornyn's views.”

In his remarks, Senator Cornyn did not talk about health insurance at all. Instead, while relating several reasons why Texas's economy is in better shape than most other U.S. states, he mentioned the 2003 law reforming medical malpractice law in Texas. Since its passage, doctors and medical school graduates have been flocking to Texas, providing health care services in underserved areas and improving patient access in others. The development has made Texas the envy of the medical community nationwide, and several states are attempting to duplicate our accomplishment.”

After his remarks, Senator Cornyn was approached by the Chronicle reporter, who raised the entirely separate subject of health insurance for the first time. Senator Cornyn did not disagree that there were too many uninsured in Texas, and added there were numerous steps that need to be taken to reduce that unacceptably high number. In fact, Senator Cornyn has pushed for a variety of solutions, including funding for community health clinics, enabling small businesses to pool their resources to offer group health insurance, increased outreach efforts to boost SCHIP enrollment, and more.”

The campaign takes issue with the fact that the article didn’t cover Cornyn’s prepared remarks to the "Elephantitis Club," but did report on Cornyn’s remarks to the Chronicle reporter after the speech. Actually, in this article, reporter Alan Bernstein did both.

I totally agree with the Chronicle that Cornyn’s prepared remarks were not newsworthy, but what he said afterward was. You can read something and sound brilliant, but what comes off the top of your head is more revealing.

So what Cornyn said afterward is completely fair game for comment.

What he said was this:

“So, you have to understand what I mean when I say I want to make Washington, D.C., and the rest of our country more like Texas (because), frankly, we know the policies that actually work.”

And this is where Senator Cornyn stuffed his foot down his throat.

And The Chronicle - and Rick Noriega – jumped all over him about it.

And rightly so.

Rightly so because making the way Texas treats its citizens with regard to healthcare the national norm is exactly equivalent to what Bush did to national education when he took the Texas model for education, No Child Left Behind, and made it the law of the land – a thoroughly discredited unfunded federal mandate that has been foisted on the 50 states.

John Cornyn wants to do to national healthcare what George Bush did to national education.

And when he is quoted on this, he complains that this was not what he said, it was off-topic and . . . it was unprofessional of the Chronicle to print this.

This is a complete obfuscation. John Cornyn says a lot, he has lots of staffers who put the words together for him, but he is liable for all the words he says. Moreso, he should be judged in particular for his off the cuff remarks, for they more accurately reveal how he thinks.

And whether he does.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Democrats United? Not Yet.

“Democrats want to fall in love. Republicans want to fall in line.”

That’s a quote from President Bill Clinton told to me via Paul Begala who once accepted a ride from me to Bush Intercontinental after speaking to Democrats in Missouri City, Texas.

The truth of that quote is astoundingly appealing. It explains so much.

It explains why, for instance, Republicans have grudgingly gotten behind John McCain, and will hold a coronation in St. Paul Minnesota in September, but Democrats will have at least two names put in nomination in Denver in two weeks.

Two names, despite the fact that only one of them has the majority of delegate votes.

We think.

Hilary Clinton wants her delegates to have their day in the sun. She wants them to have a cathartic experience. Well fine, I say. Have that cathartic experience. I had one of them once. It was very . . . cathartic.

But then stop all of the complaining, OK? And stop it with the “well Hillary would have been our nominee had Edwards not run.” That is a truth in alternative universe, and not ours.

“This is historic,” we are hearing. A woman is having her name put in nomination for President of the United States. We can’t NOT put Hillary Clinton’s name in nomination.

Well, actually, no it isn’t historic, and yes, you can. For history, we need only recall Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who was the real first woman to have her name put into nomination for President at the 1964 Republican convention (they lost that year). And recall Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm who had her name put in nomination at the 1972 Democratic convention (we lost that year).

Republicans, it seems, remember from their mistakes and have fallen in line like the good soldiers they are – for the most part – ever since. And they – for the most part – have won. Democrats, however, seem to want to make the same mistakes over and over again, and that’s because we Democrats want to fall in love.

Now make no mistake, I wouldn’t want to see we Democrats start behaving like our Republican automaton opponents, but when it seems that the outcome is all but certain, why do we try to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory time after time?

And make no mistake, had the tables been turned, and we were getting all set to nominate Hillary Clinton as our candidate, I would be making the same arguments here about Obama not trying to share the stage.

It’s all about unity. It’s all about “Are you in or are you out?”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What’s Time to A . . . Republican

In Susan’s not-a-blog she writes about John Cornyn’s curious altercation with time and temporal things. And she points to this Chron blog by Alan Bernstein who similarly reflects on Cornyn’s evaluation of what matters most in regard to time.

Both point out that Cornyn is going through some low-powered mental gymnastics in his conclusion that what is more important is the present time, because only in the present can we affect the future. And that, to Senator Cornyn, is highest in the pecking order that is time.

The future.

But not the past. The past is unimportant because, well, whatever happened then, that’s in the past.

Now while you shake your head to make sure you read that correctly – if you are shaking your head, don’t worry, you did – let me point out what the senator was driving at, because in one of the eleven possible dimensions, what Cornyn said makes perfect sense.

In a truly neoconservative Republican dimension, the 7th or 8th I think, the past is so unimportant that it need never be considered. Ever again. Because in the past, that’s where the mistakes are made. The mistakes that we learn by so that we don’t make them again.

The mistakes like the one Americans made when they listened to, and agreed with a Republican administration as it lied its way into an illegal and immoral war. Like the one that they made when they gave credence to a multimillion dollar snow job delivered by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Like the mistake made when the pharmaceutical and health insurance corporations convinced Americans that universal health insurance was creeping socialism.

And on and on and on.

So you see the point? The last thing we want to ever consider is the past, especially when evaluating which party should have the majority in the House and Senate, and which man should occupy the White House.

Because as any neoconservative Republican knows, when you focus on the past, that won’t bode well for their future.

Fort Bend Democrats
Eastside Campaign Headquarters

Saturday, August 166:00pm - 9:00pm
Charlie's Restaurant & Catering
1250 Texas Parkway
(intersection of Texas Parkway and Scanlin Rd aka Buffalo Run) [map]

Get your BBQ plate, yard signs, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and then get fired up and ready to go with the most important election in our lifetime for our country, state and county.

Our own Congressman Al Green will give us a stem-winder of a speech and other candidates will bear witness to the best slate of Democratic Candidates ever.

This will be a fundraiser for the Fort Bend Democrats to finance our efforts to bring the message to the people… We must vote straight Democratic Ticket in the general election, plus the special election to seat Texas Senator Chris Bell, who challenged the abuses of ex-congressman Tom Delay.

The tide is turning. Be There!

For more information call (832) 683-3340
or email us at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

“Big Bad John” Cornyn Challenged to Debate

What is it with the junior senator from Texas? Why is he talking about negotiations for a debate with Democratic challenger Rick Noriega on one hand, but on the other, Noriega’s people are saying that they haven’t spoken about it?

It’s here on the Politex blog of the Dallas Star-Telegram.

“Before his speech, Cornyn said he is looking forward to debating Rick Noriega, his Democratic opponent.”

“‘We’re talking about the formats and how many, but I think come September, certainly not later than October, we’ll be teeing it up,’ he said.”
Well obviously the Cornyn campaign (which works on the Sabbath) is working in response to Noriega’s August 7th debate challenge, found here, and pasted below:

“Rick Noriega challenged John Cornyn to debate today, calling on Cornyn to answer up to Texans for his failed status quo energy policies, his votes against affordable health care, his continued failed policies in Iraq and his coziness with Washington special interests.”“Noriega is excited and ready to debate John Cornyn in a variety of venues and has accepted a number of invitations.”

“While not offering details of how many debates Noriega wants, when and where they should be held and under whose sponsorship, Noriega spokeswoman Holly Shulman suggested reluctance on Cornyn's part to participate. ‘Senator Cornyn doesn't even want to show up for the job interview,’ she said.”
Well that should clear things up. It looks like Cornyn’s camp is communicating with Noriega’s. This from John Cornyn’s own mouth. Again, I repeat the quote:

“We’re talking about the formats and how many . . .”
But things do not appear as they seem. In a later update to the blog article, blogger Aman Batheja posted a statement from Noriega spokesperson Holly Shulman. To wit:

“Noriega spokesperson Holly Shulman emailed me to make clear that Cornyn's camp has not yet spoken to Noriega's camp about debate plans.”

“‘I think Cornyn meant internally discussing format...because we have not heard from them,’ she said.”
Yes, that must be it. Cornyn in saying “We’re talking about the formats and how many . . .” is either using the “Royal We” or is referring to himself and his staff collectively.

That “we”.

Because the alternative is not a pretty one. The alternative takes two forms. Form one has it that John Cornyn has no idea what his staff is doing, or not doing. Form two has it that John Cornyn is still hesitant in accepting a debate challenge, and is having a truth-challenged moment.

I am going against my pessimist tendency and with Shulman’s theory that Cornyn uses the “we” word internally, despite how it sounds when you put the statement in print.

But I guess we’ll see what we will see.

The Great White Terrorism Hunter

Ben Sargent outdid himself today, so I just thought I'd pass it along without comment.

It doesn't need any.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Republicans Looking For an Edwards Echo Should Worry About What They Ask For

Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill lost no time jumping all over John Edwards’ personal problems as he gleefully called on Harris County Democrats to “withdraw the invitation for Edwards to speak” at the upcoming Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner. It’s all found right here in The Chron.

Unbeknownst to Chairman Woodfill, Senator Edwards had already sent word, had already cancelled his appearance at the dinner.

Not to worry. Woodfill simply went to item two on his political agenda. Money.

With Republicans Money is either 1st or 2nd on their lists of things to do.

Then Woodfill introduced the notion that perhaps all of Texas’ Democratic candidates should return any and all cash donations ever made to them by Dallas lawyer and Democratic benefactor Fred Baron.

The reason? Woodfill delivered the nebulous notion that Fred Baron had provided John Edwards “hush money” in paying moving expenses for the bimbo videographer who was being harassed by a tabloid.

Woodfill now calls all money provided by Fred Baron “tainted.”

Now I don’t know what specifically went on that convinced Fred Baron to help this woman move, and I really don’t care. I really don’t understand the logic of calling all of Baron’s contributions “tainted” no matter who they were given to, or what they were for, just because someone has raised an issue about this one exchange.

If Baron gave, say, $10,000 to say, a hospital, say MD Anderson, say in 2006. Would the hospital be obliged to return it now?

That’s just nuts.

But that aside, the absence of logic aside, I think that Jared Woodfill doesn’t want to open up this Pandora’s Box.

Where, oh where to begin? How about Abramoff/DeLay? What about all the hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled through one PAC or another, some say illegally, to Texas Republicans across the state from this discredited congressman and that jailbird? Some of these funds have actually been returned.

But not all.

What about all of the campaign funds donated over the years by Texas homebuilder Bob Perry? Perry has sent funds to Republicans and Republican causes (Swift Boat Veterans for Truth). Yet now we find that the fine Republican family values of this individual closely resemble that of a drunken, wife-abusing nasty piece of work.

But I haven’t heard anyone say that Republicans should return all of Bob Perry’s campaign contributions.

But come to think of it, if Woodfill’s logic is rock-solid, maybe it’s time someone did.

What’s good for the goose is certainly good enough for the gander isn’t it?

Or maybe, just maybe, Chairman Woodfill needs to reconsider this and not go there.

No, I don’t expect Chairman Woodfill to display any kind of moral decorum as the Edwards family struggles through this crisis. Republicans say that they are a people with “family values,” but maybe not all of them. I expect Woodfill to behave as neocon Republicans do, with cold, cruel calculation, using anything, ANYthing, to destroy a family while it is in pain.

And I also expect Woodfill to be cognizant of the fact that what he asks for may just be asked back at him in response.

Cowardly self-interest is a right-wing Republican trait. Maybe he should think about this a little more.

John McCain for Celebrity

How many times can you count John McCain giving George W. Bush a nice hug?

Did you count five or six? I got six.

I wonder when McCain is going to drop this celebrity diatribe and go back to calling Barack Obama a “tax and spend cut and run liberal.”

I wonder if John McCain knew that he has been caught on video with Bush so many darn times – touching each other.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

John Cornyn Works His Campaign Staff on the Sabbath

Keeping an ear to the ground, you can call it. Keeping current with what the oppos are doing. And now I have solid proof that Texas’ junior senator, Senator John Cornyn apparently doesn’t let his staff take a day off on the Lord’s Day.

On Sunday, despite the fact that God commanded Moses up there on Mount Sinai to “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy,” John Cornyn’s people are still hard at work watching what the opposition is doing.

Reading those blogs.

America Rises in Righteous Indignation When . . .

Imagine, if you will, the occurrence of two sensational events on exactly the same day. One of them is the massive escalation of violence in two provinces of a former soviet republic as Russia moves troops, planes and tanks in a blatant action that can only be characterized as a Hitleresque land grab.

The other is a candid admission to mainstream media by a former presidential candidate that he had a brief affair with a promiscuous video producer – two years ago.

Which of these two events, do you think, would command the attention of talking heads on the news and other news junkies like bloggers?


While hundreds die in fighting instigated by Russia, who moved to deny its former SSR, the sovereign nation of Georgia, the success it hoped to achieve in its recently executed counter-strike against separatists, we Americans instead turn our attention toward the titillating news that former presidential candidate John Edwards had an amorous affair with a flirtatious bawd.

Americans, it seems, are so rooted in the philosophy of its Puritan founders that they react poorly in embracing these voyeuristic tendencies when one of our own admits to a human frailty that is all too common.

But what seems over the top to me, is how intensely we involve ourselves in the personal lives of a family that has placed itself in the fishbowl that is American presidential politics. Judging, condemning, and developing completely outrageous theories over and around this American tragedy, while people are again dying in Europe for reasons that can only be characterized as the modern equivalent of lebensraum.

One blogger I know of has spewed not one, not two, but three venomous attacks on Edwards, all within the space of 6 hours. Shrill in her righteous indignation, she indifferently ignored the pleadings of a woman that I have come to respect and admire, Elizabeth Edwards.

So let’s put Elizabeth Edwards’ plea on the internet one more time to remind us all that words we put out there on the web are not exposés of the character of John Edwards, but rather reflections of the writers’ own morality and values.

“John has spoken in a long on-camera interview I hope you watch. Admitting one’s mistakes is a hard thing for anyone to do, and I am proud of the courage John showed by his honesty in the face of shame. The toll on our family of news helicopters over our house and reporters in our driveway is yet unknown. But now the truth is out, and the repair work that began in 2006 will continue. I ask that the public, who expressed concern about the harm John’s conduct has done to us, think also about the real harm that the present voyeurism does and give me and my family the privacy we need at this time.”

C’mon guys, leave off

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Registering Voters in Fort Bend County – Day One

Today was a good day in Free Fort Bend as we registered voters in Rosenberg, Texas must necessarily refer it. When I say “Free Fort Bend,” I refer to both the Democrat Shack in Rosenberg that is now open for business, and our new annex in Stafford.

Because outside of the boundaries of “The Shack” and "Shack Annex", Fort Bend County is still paralyzed by the monolithic rule of the Republican Party.

But in “The Shack” we have Obama T-Shirts for sale, as well as bumper stickers, a huge variety of buttons (the one that I really like has the images of both Barack Obama and Rick Noriega). And do we have yard signs.

In “The Shack” we have a refrigerator full of cool drinks and popsicles.

In “The Shack” we have Free Democrats full of Hope for that Change that will come.

And in “The Shack” we have 45 new Democratic voter registrations.

Another day like today and we will flip that precinct from red to blue.

Friday, August 08, 2008

MoveOn.Org Ain’t From Around These Parts

Now having spent some time in the oil industry, I know from first hand experience that the calls to “Drill Now” have all of the substance of belly button lint. But apparently my view is in the minority because of someone’s poll that says that 70% of Americans think that to “Drill Now” is a gosh darn good idea.

And since Texas is still a place where oil is king, you are more likely than not going to find lots and lots of people here who are in lockstep agreement with that 70%.

So it comes as no surprise that the anti-oil radio spots that have been funded by, ads being aired in several areas around Texas, as reported in Politico, are being greeted with sheer glee by the NRCC. is targeting several Texas Republican congressional incumbents with these ads. Ads that condemn these congressmen for supporting the call for opening up all areas of America’s OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) to petroleum exploration.

Unfortunately, MoveOn seems to have a poor grasp of the political scene here in Texas. What plays well in Santa Barbara does not necessarily have the same effect in Midland-Odessa, where one of their congressional targets, Mike Conaway, is from. Said a spokesman for the NRCC:

“We wholeheartedly endorse this colossal waste of funds. Not only is’s anti-drilling position out of step with 70 percent of Americans, but a member like Mike Conaway who represents the Texas oil patch will probably see his approval rating surge upward as a result of these ads.”
Conaway faces no Democratic opponent this fall.

But the same cannot be said of Congressman John Culberson of Texas CD 7. Culberson represents a “Republican safe” district where Bush received 64% of its vote in 2004. The same cannot be said of him, because this year he faces spirited and well-funded opposition by wind power executive and millionaire Michael Skelly. Politico calls Skelly “a credible contender” who has gone on record as condemning the MoveOn radio ads.

Skelly, like many other Democrats in Texas, favors offshore drilling and has, with my own congressman, Nick Lampson, has called on congress to end the offshore drilling moratorium.

And it seems that, the darling of the liberal left, has had the welcome mat yanked out from under their feet at Skelly’s campaign. As reported on The Hill, Skelly himself has remarked that it was “time for MoveOn to move out of Texas.” It seems that nothing could please the Culberson campaign more than have Skelly and MoveOn waltzing together toward certain defeat in November. What Skelly doesn’t need right now is even the suggestion of an alliance with MoveOn. If he hopes to attract the votes of Independents and disaffected Republicans, that is.

So instead of a polite “No Thanks” from the Skelly campaign, MoveOn received what can most adequately termed an “H-E-double-hockey-sticks No Thanks”.

A “No Thanks” as in a “Don’t let the sun set on you here” No Thanks.

Said loudly, and with authority.

My guess is that the left wing of the Democratic Party is going to take this reaction as wrong-headed, and maybe a little over the top. To these people I have only this to say: “What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks did you expect?” Michael Skelly finds himself running in a conservative district, albeit against a man who has been closely associated with my former discredited congressman, Tom DeLay. In fact, Culberson’s money troubles are largely due to the fact that the DeLay Money Tree has withered and died.

But the point is, Skelly can’t be seen associated with lefties or he is dead meat in November.

If anything, Skelly has done the left wing of the party a huge favor. A favor that I wish Nick Lampson had done for me, now that I have 20-20 hindsight. There are lots of campaigns and causes that can attract liberal dollars. Lots of campaigns that need liberal activist boots on the ground.

Skelly has simply identified his campaign as one that doesn’t.

And that’s fine. Skelly has the vote of the left wing of the party in CD 7, that is a certainty. We generally vote a straight Democratic ticket anyway. What he shouldn’t have though, are the funds, the sweat, and the labor of the left wing, and we need to thank him for making this known to us. This will save us a lot of angst should he win the election and start casting his votes from the “center aisle.”

Now we know that we have better things to do.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

John Cornyn’s Cruel Summer: Part 1 – Gasoline Prices

The junior senator from Texas, John Cornyn, has been delivering one very cruel summer to his constituents. I mentioned this previously in more general terms, but now let’s get down to specifics.

On July 25th, John Cornyn used his senate vote to block legislation that would close the Enron Loophole. The Enron Loophole is in large part responsible for the high price of gasoline that threatens to deepen the economic wretchedness that has beset our country.

I have also mentioned this before. The Enron Loophole, crafted by John Cornyn’s predecessor, former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, essentially deregulated the commodities exchange that allowed oil speculators to artificially drive up the price of oil. This loophole worked wonders for Enron when it cornered the electricity market in California, resulting in rolling blackouts there.

Now the very same trading practices have driven worldwide petroleum prices to historic highs. Senator Harry Reid sponsored a senate bill, S. 3268, the “Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008.” The purpose of this bill is to close the “Enron Loophole” and bring oversight back to energy commodities trading.

It came to the Senate floor on July 25th after only 10 days from when it was introduced.

And guess what? The senate Republicans filibustered.

Reid moved for a cloture vote to bring debate to a close and guess what happened then? Cloture failed by a vote of 50 to 43.

And guess who voted Nay?

Junior Senator John Cornyn, that’s who.

While Texans are pouring their paychecks into their SUVs and F150s, John Cornyn protected the interests of oil speculators and oil companies.

And why not? How many of us gave John Cornyn $50,000 for his campaign war chest? Exxon-Mobil did, didn’t you? Over the course of his term in office, Oil and Gas companies have contributed a whopping $803,200. It’s at Opensecrets. John Cornyn knows who donates campaign lucre to him, and votes accordingly.

So John Cornyn is having himself a fun summer. Fun for him, that is. A cruel summer for Texans. So it’s up to us voters and activists to finish the line in the lyrics to the Banarama song:

"It's a cruel, cruel you're gone."

Funniest Bumper Sticker I’ve Seen This Year

Driving around here in Red Texas you just don’t expect to see someone flaunting their liberal viewpoint on their cars. It doesn’t stop me, but I know others who live in heavily conservative neighborhoods like mine are, well let’s just say justifiably paranoid.

But we liberals do have a subtle, cynical streak, don’t we. Witness the bumper sticker on this car.

My guess is that most of my muggle neighbors who see this bumper sticker won’t realize who this Voldemort person is, but you can bet that they’ll vote for the sucker if the name appears on a bumper sticker like this.

Maybe they’ll think he is a write-in candidate. I wonder how many different ways they will be able to write (or actually, dial) his name in so that the county elections office to will be able to determine voter intent. After all, if “Draculac _ _ t” was acceptable as signifying voter intent for Shelley Sekula Gibbs two years ago, shouldn’t they be equally flexible on this one?

Will simply“Voldemort” be OK, or must it be spelled out as “Lord Voldemort?”

How about simply “The Dark Lord?”

Or what about "He-who-shall-not-be-named?"

Or my favorite: "You-Know-Who?"

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Noriega on Immigration: Keeping It Sane and Humane

Today Rick Noriega, Texas’ Democratic candidate for US Senate, presented his plan to fix America’s immigration problems. You can read it all here. I just have a few thoughts and observations to share.

For too long, says Noriega, Washington D.C. has ignored and avoided solving this vexing problem. Too long, I think, because people find this issue squarely wedged between a rock and a hard place. Noriega’s plan effectively eliminates one of them.

Indeed, the sanity of the plan is to do away with the one neoconservative bugaboo that divides Americans right down the line: rounding up 10 million illegal aliens and deporting them.

“Mass Deportation isn’t Realistic. According to a comprehensive study (Rajeev Goyle and David A. Jaeger, the Center for American Progress, 2006), deporting 10 million undocumented immigrants would cost over $200 billion.”

Even by Senator John Cornyn’s own admission, Rick Noriega’s opponent has acknowledged that an immigration plan that includes deportation of millions of people is fantasy, and that the “dirty secret is that we couldn’t deport 10 million illegal immigrants if we wanted to.”

Noriega’s position is to bring these illegal immigrants out of their “shadow world,” have them pay fines and back taxes, but mainly to become taxpayers. In this way law enforcement could concentrate on an effort that “deports the criminals and bad apples.”

This is only a third of Noriega’s tripartite plan. The other two, securing the border and cracking down on those employers who hire illegal immigrants to the detriment of immigrants and American citizens alike, are also part of the plan.

Noriega has something on John Cornyn that all of his years of public service would not be able to equal: time on the border enforcing the law. Noriega knows what works and what doesn’t work. And what doesn’t work is building a physical barrier: a wall. Building a wall is another red herring that Republicans offer Americans for mass consumption. It sounds good on paper, and it makes for some great speeches, but as a practical matter, building a wall is not viable. Just ask the French how effective their Maginot Line was in keeping out Hitler’s blitzkrieg. George Patton said it best:

“Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.”
So building a wall is not part of Noriega’s plan. Is it part of John Cornyn’s plan? I don’t know, what day is it?

And last, before I get too far off subject, what about these employers. Employers of illegal immigrants have gotten off scot-free for years now, as government has looked the other way. In fact, any arrests being made these days are arrests of illegal immigrants, not the employers who knowingly hired them. Noriega’s plan acknowledges the contributions made to Texas’ economy by illegal immigrants, and instead seeks to find and punish the employers who keep illegal immigrants in “a shadow world” that is outside the rule of law, where they can threaten and abuse illegal immigrants, pay them below the federal minimum wage, and in that way keep wages low for everyone else. These are the abusers of this illegal immigrant system that need to be punished and expunged.

For the sake of everyone.

No, I like this plan. It’s sane and humane. I doubt some of my lefty cohorts will agree with all of what it offers, but I like it better than the inhumane alternative that Republicans suggest. Really, a plan that is so unworkable that that is the very nature of their plan: so unworkable no one will ever want to enact it. And so we are presented with the status quo, which, in the end, may be the desired end. Nothing gets fixed but the issue remains for Republicans to wave the bloody shirt again and again, year after year.

No, the only real problem with Rick Noriega’s immigration plan is that it provides workable solutions.

And those things, solutions, may be the last things that some Texans will want to have.