Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Would-be Goobers and Senators will come together by July...or thereabouts

I've blogged about this before: what happens relative to all the high-profile Texas political tilts in 2006 depends on the proclivities of the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison, as Texas Monthly details in an article from the May issue titled "Kay Sera Sera" (behind registration and a password found only in the print edition).

Here's a sample:

... All those ambitious pols down in Texas are twiddling their thumbs while you make up your mind. Not that you owe them anything; most of the statewide officials—except Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who may run for governor herself—have already endorsed Rick Perry. It’s a toss-up who’s more craven: Perry for asking them this early or them for doing it. Now you’re holding up their game of musical chairs, especially in the case of David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor. He wants to succeed Perry in 2010, but if you beat Perry, he’s stuck in his current job for eight more years. So he might opt to run for your Senate seat, leaving his job open and touching off another mad scramble. Congressman Henry Bonilla, of San Antonio, has already said he’ll run for the Senate if you don’t. Strayhorn and Attorney General Greg Abbott would look at the lite gov’s office Dewhurst would be vacating, and railroad commissioner Michael Williams and Texas Supreme Court justice Harriet O’Neill are said to be interested in the AG’s job. Yes, all eyes are on you right now.

And apparently she's going to make a decision shortly, though there's some risk in continuing to shilly-shally:

Your waiting until summer to announce your plans runs the risk that Strayhorn might throw her hat in the ring first. In a three-way race, the likelihood is that you and Perry would end up in a runoff, but then the danger would be that those November Republicans and crossover Democrats might not return for the runoff, while the party faithful will. Advantage Perry.

So there's some interesting bits in there, but there's also some bullshit:

Let’s talk numbers. The Republican primary is the only race that matters. No Democrat can win, and Kinky Friedman isn’t Jesse Ventura.

Even though Paul Burka is by his own admission writing this article in the voice of a Hutchison political consultant, that's wrong on both counts. The only scenario in which the Democrats have no chance is if John Sharp decides to run for anything (this is assuming that Tony Sanchez isn't so stupid as to waste more of his personal fortune; an admittedly tenuous assumption). Kinky Friedman is going to be able to gather something like 15% of the votes in a general election -- give or take 5% -- with most of that peeling away from the Republican candidate (the 'pubs have more votes to lose, after all). While that won't be an impact like Jesse "The Body", it will be Ross Perot-like electoral influence. And Chris Bell is the man who stands to capitalize on GOP fatigue statewide, as evidenced by the following, which Burka wrote right before he wrote that above:

... there are pockets of the state where Perry has angered Republican voters: places like Abilene, which lost its congressman in redistricting; the Dallas suburbs and Austin, where toll roads are unpopular; South Texas, which has not benefited from the largesse Perry has showered on companies to entice them to Texas; and the medical community generally, which didn’t like his health care cuts. You can make inroads into these constituencies, although you’ll have to “me too” the ideological stuff.

His critics see him as a do-nothing governor, but he’s really more of a do-the-wrong-things governor. The first priority of Texas governors has always been education; Perry imposed budget cuts on both public and higher education in 2003, notwithstanding that education was one of his original areas of emphasis (along with the border, which he has likewise given short shrift). Instead, he has thrown his efforts into the aforementioned economic development and toll roads. And yet the long-standing view in Texas, under Republican and Democratic governors alike, is that improving education is the best economic development program there is.

The Abilene congressman mentioned is Charlie Stenholm, who in my humble O would be the Democrats' best candidate for US Senator, considering that Ron Kirk will apparently not be running. But Stenholm evidences no particular interest in returning to Washington; his websites are currently blank and he allegedly turned down President Bush's offer of Agriculture Secretary following his defeat in November. Martin Frost, Max Sandlin, and Jim Turner, all of whom were likewise displaced by the GOP gerrymander, strike me as weaker candidates for statewide office (Frost managed to also look bad losing the contest for DNC chair). Those men would be better served running for down-ballot slots like attorney general or treasurer or railroad commissioner -- strengthening the bench and laying the groundwork for a top-ticket run in the future. The Democrats are in a lot more trouble trying to win back a Senate seat than they are in removing Tom DeLay's bitch from the statehouse, especially if they wind up with a candidate with scant name recognition and no previous experience having been elected to something.

Texas will continue to be a one-party state for only as long as Texas Democrats continue to concede it as such.

Whatever happens, put the popcorn in the microwave and stay tuned, because it's going to be entertaining.

I think we should send Tom DeLay a sympathy card

I'm a little late on this -- having spent the long weekend in a gloriously cool blue state -- but an anonymous comment in the previous post has graciously reminded me that there's bound to be a little good in everyone, even the slimiest, most corrupt politician ever to walk the halls of Congress.

We all are aware that Tom DeLay has been so unmercifully tormented by demons -- those within himself as well as those external to him -- that perhaps it really would be a nice idea to acknowledge the inordinate stress we sometimes place on our Dear Leaders to, you know, do the right thing.

Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged (with a hat tip to Kuff) has it all ready for you to sign and print.


Friday, May 27, 2005

About our gastronomic adventures (so far)

A quick jump on-and-off to talk a bit about what we're going to be consuming while we're in the great Northeast.

Last night we went to Bella's in Rockland and had a 1 1/2"center cut, bone-in, pork chop (sorry, vegan friends; you may start scrolling now) with vinegar-sauteed peppers, new potatoes mashed with rosemary, broccoli and toasted baguets.

Tonight we're proceeding to this establishment for some German food and ale. Tomorrow, a lobster roll from B&G Oyster Co.

For those of you 'Deadwood' fans, this next line falls under "having a digestive crisis and focusing on suppressing its expression": I noticed Tom DeLay couldn't stay out of the news. I'm sure he was just doing his part to contribute to the Republicans' worst week in a long, long, time.


(We'll be going there, too...)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Off to Beantown

Posting will be sporadic to non-existent through the holiday weekend as the lovely Mrs. Diddie and I take some vacation time in Bahstin.

Try to get by without me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

No nukes (for now)

And Bill Frist is toast.

GOP moderates in the Senate -- an admittedly endangered species -- yesterday emasculated their majority leader and refused to go along with the "nuclear option", which would have revised centuries-old rules of order to prevent "tyranny of the majority".

God, speaking through Dr. James Dobson, is allegedly unhappy:

"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats..."

More of that can be found here.

Frist looked stricken to say the least. He stressed that he was not a party to the agreement and that he hoped it would end a "miserable chapter in the history of the Senate," but he also stated what he keeps calling the "constitutional option" was still on the table. He also said he "will monitor this agreement closely."

Harry Reid, in contrast, seemed pleased. He said he was willing to work with Bush on his agenda, "but he should have a little more humility."

For the record, the nominations of Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Priscilla Owen will proceed to a floor vote. The rest get no guarantees. The fact that the Republicans needed only 50 votes (with Dick Cheney breaking the tie) in a caucus of 55 means they had six Senators --or more -- who passed on pushing the "nuk-ya-ler" button.

Frist's presidential aspirations (that's the only reason he was doing this, for 2006 and the evangelical bloc) exploded on the launchpad. And John McCain's got stronger. But that's kaffe klatsch for another day.

What the GOP really failed to get was carte blanche on the next Supreme Court nominee.

That wonderful smell isn't just your morning coffee; it's victory.

Savor it, and stay girded for the next battle.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Lunch with the Space City chapter of Western Blogonia

(West is left facing north).

I'm the sort of person that isn't content being an online slacktivist. I like to meet the people I converse with online if possible. And I've met discussion forum participants locally and in Austin and San Francisco, and hopefully next weekend in Boston (and recently one site had a Europe gathering I'm sorry I missed) but as I move away from open-season semi-moderated boards to the Wild West of Blogistan I find I get to make a whole new set of friends and alliances.

So yesterday a bunch of us locally got together for some Tex-Mex and political chat.

Specifically the group included this fellow, this lady, this guy, this gal, and "Red Dog", who shows up in the comments of those often but if he has a blog I can't find it. (BK, help me out if I'm blind, pal...)

My first observation is that among the group there might be only one other native Texan besides me, judging from one self-disclosure and the accents. They're also all a pay grade or three above me in terms of formal education, with at least one Ivy Leaguer and several graduate degrees in the bunch.

And I mention the Lone Star connection only because all of these people do a much better job following the Texas Legislature's shenanigans as well as the local political scene -- right down to city hall -- that I can, or intend, to do. Oh, I blog a lot about Deep-In-The-Hearta, as my half-dozen regular readers already know, but it's mostly from a macro perspective (though those freaks in Pearland will undoubtedly continue to draw attention to themselves). And my state representative has lately exposed a particular strain of stupidity, but I'll avoid for now saying something really bad (or good, for that matter) about him. Mostly because it's just too 'inside baseball' even for me.

I'd rather talk smack about John Bolton and Jeff Gannon -- what, you didn't know they were an item? -- than Bill White or Michael Berry.

I hope more of the rest of the H-Town Blogosphere takes Charles Kuffner up on his invite to make these little get-togethers a monthly regular on their calendars. Pete, rastro, this means y'all ...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Something's just wrong with this headline:

"Bush promises probe into Saddam underwear pictures".

And yes, there's a photograph. Not of the probe (thankfully).

More all-important rotisserie baseball wryness

From Fanball.com:


Remember Jason "Raspberry" Bere? The veteran right-hander, who was coming back from an elbow injury this spring with the Indians' Triple-A affiliate at Buffalo, announced his retirement on Thursday. The injury-plagued former All-Star fashioned a 71-65 record in 203 Major League starts for the White Sox, Reds, Brewers, Cubs, and Indians.


If for some reason you had Bere stashed on a keeper league bench, you can go ahead and release him now and look for a cheap replacement—the kind you find in a second-hand store.

We're gonna "Cowboy Up" with data

Last night the Houston Democratic Forum hosted Dr. Richard Murray, who discussed (along with his son Keir, who also blogs) the creation of the Texas Research Foundation, a progressive think tank to "assist in gathering and disseminating academically sound data on important state issues, and making these findings widely known to business, civic, and community leaders as well as the general public."

In other words, get our message out.

Dr. Murray's expertise is polling, and the state of Texas is woefully underrepresented relative to the quantity (and quality) of polling data of its electorate. Typically the conglomerated media will commission a poll close to the election in order to fill 45 seconds on their 10 pm newscasts and create a week's worth of buzz, and of course the parties fund their own (read biased) pollsters, but again only sporadically and the results are issued mostly when it's favorable to their candidates. So one of Murray's goals for the foundation is to conduct a quarterly statewide poll on issues as well as politicians, one that is academically sound and uses transparent methodology. And as it relates to good news or bad news for Democratic candidates, let the chips fall wherever.

Marguerite has posted here in greater detail (she must've had a recorder, bless her heart).

This is all still in the formative stages, so if you would care to assist in building something like this from the foundation up (no pun) -- and I'm not just talking about donating money but helping to conduct research and "disseminate data", fellow bloggers -- then visit the Foundation's (also still rudimentary) website above.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hubert Vo and Carole Strayhorn

Local blogmeisters Kuff and Evan have scored with Texas Monthly passkeys (which won't last more than a few days) on two of the more fascinating political stories currently playing out in Deep-In-The-Hearta.

The election of Hubert Vo, the Vietnamese-American and Democrat who toppled Talmadge Heflin in the ferociously contested statehouse race last year, portends a favorable trend:

The fortunes of the Democratic Party seemed bright on a warm evening this spring, when four hundred Vo supporters gathered at a Vietnamese restaurant downtown for a belated appreciation dinner. Chinese American city council candidate Mark Lee worked the room, as did Jay Aiyer, an Indian American city-council-at-large candidate. Against a red-white-and-blue backdrop, students from Alief high schools performed folk dances; girls in sparkling headdresses sashayed to Bollywood songs, and teenagers in white peasant skirts stomped to mariachi music. Vo’s campaign staff was as multicultural as the crowd: His Latino direct-mail consultant was there, as were his African American treasurer, his Pakistani American media consultant, and his folksy Anglo attorney (“We’d like to thank all y’all,” Larry Veselka said to the crowd with a tip of his white Stetson). Vo rose toward the end of the evening to sound the themes of his campaign and thank the audience. His 81-year-old father, who sat a few feet away, beamed. “I will not let you down,” Vo told the crowd to sustained applause. One of the last speakers of the night was Gordon Quan, the city councilman who is considering challenging DeLay. “Hubert provides hope that we can take back this state,” Quan said with a broad grin. “Look around this room. This is Texas.”

... and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the GOP state controller who has pissed off Rick Perry and David Dewhurst and Tom Craddick with her tight-fisted management of the state's budget (that's a good thing) will likely run for higher office:

“Hogwash on Perry having the base locked up,” she said, interrupting my speculations. “They’re believing their own news releases. I do not mind rough-and-tumble. Texans are ashamed of what is going on now in their state.”

But hasn’t she been reduced to seeking contributions from trial lawyers?

“Hogwash on trial lawyers,” she said.

“When are you going to announce?” I asked, trying not to sound too eager for the answer.

She stared at me. “We view ourselves on the eve of battle,” she said. “We are nerved for the contest and must conquer or perish.” I should have recognized it, but I didn’t. Sam Houston, before San Jacinto.

If you want the skinny on the latest in Texas politics on both sides of the aisle (and keep in mind that what happens here is transferred nationwide shortly after) then go pay those two links at the top a visit and read the entire articles.

Begun, the filibuster wars have

There's a lot of Star Wars jabbering out there so I'd better throw in my dos centavos before the buzzmoment fades.

I put one of my favorite quotes up there in the header. I also like "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes," which is OBK's retort to Anakin/Vader, who gets the Bushesque "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." Of course it might be more appropriate to say "Only the Sith (plural is vital) impose false balance on absolutes". Fair and balanced, someone said.

But the only Darth Vader-IS-The-New-World-Order analogy I'm really comfortable with is that Emperor Palpatine is supposed to be Dick Cheney. On second thought, maybe he's Karl Rove. I have trouble telling those method actors apart sometimes.

One thing's for sure: by this time next week, George Lucas will have deposed Michael Moore as the conservatives' pop culture whipping boy. The Voice of the Left (to be despised).

Which begs the question; whatever happened to Ward Churchill?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This is what I get for paying attention to what's going on with our democracy, I suppose

The Houston Independent Media Center liveblogged multiple arrests and police violence at the Halliburton shareholders' meeting in downtown Houston this morning.

Here are photos.

Here's video (RealPlayer).

I couldn't stand listening to the GOP Senators guillotine the filibuster any longer, so I switched over to the local newscast (ABC-13 "Eyewitless News") to see what they might report.

Their last three stories were -- no kidding -- hurricane season preparation, the new "Star Wars" movie opening, and a family of ducklings washed down a storm drain.

I can't get back to work fast enough.

Going nuclear

I am spending too much time away from work today to do my part to save our democracy.

While on the conference call with Harry Reid just now, I had C-Span on mute as John Cornyn spoke. I managed to catch the last of his comments as we completed. Now KBH is speaking about Saint Priscilla. I think she's about to cry.

I've been appalled at the hubris, the arrogance, the unmitigated gall of this administration so many times I'm sick of acknowledging it to myself. It makes me physically ill.

And at this moment I'm disgusted at what an embarrassment -- an abomination -- my two Senators are.

It is revolting that these two people dare to represent all Texans in this debate.

I'll go ahead and give MP George Galloway

this week's Moneyshot Quote:

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies."

Nuclear option showdown is today

Call Hutchison:


or one of the District Offices closest to you:

Abilene: 325-676-2839
Austin: 512-916-5834
Dallas: 214-361-3500
Harlingen: 956-425-2253
Houston: 713-653-3456
San Antonio: 210-340-2885

Call Cornyn:


District Offices
Austin: 512-469-6034
Dallas: 972-239-1310
Harlingen: 956-423-0162
Houston: 713-572-3337
Lubbock: 806-472-7533
San Antonio: 210-224-7485
Tyler: 903-593-0902

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Is this the end for Baggy?

Hopefully not.

Tom over at Houston's Clear Thinkers has the definitive take on Bagwell's HOF chances (this is your 'inside baseball' data warning):

In short, Bags should be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and it is not even a close call. For his career, Bagwell has an incredible 680 RCAA in 2,135 games (meaning that he has created 680 more runs than an average National League hitter would have created in those games), a .297 batting average, a gaudy .408 on-base percentage (to put that in perspective, an average National League hitter had about a .340 OBP last season), a slugging percentage of .541, and a monstrous .949 career OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) compared to the league average OPS during Bagwell's career of .763 ...

... Just to underscore the foregoing, Mr. (Bill) James -- who knows more about baseball in his pinky than most of us can comprehend -- rates Bags as the fourth best first baseman of all-time in his New Bill James Historical Abstract, behind only Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Mark McGwire.

Get well and get back next year, Baggy.

I have a whole bunch to blog about

and a short time to do it. (Hey, just look at the time stamp...)

There were thousands of people at the Art Car Parade and Festival on Saturday. And while the autos were fun, it's always the sideline observation I enjoy best. Some of my fellow parade-watchers didn't look as if they venture outside often during daylight hours, and then mostly just to add another tattoo or watch the band rehearse. Oh yeah, Kinky Freidman's car broke down halfway through, and before he was rescued from walking by a golf cart he blamed the malfunction on a Republican conspiracy.

There were hundreds of people at the "Save America Without DeLay" Family Fun Festival, and while Barbara Radnofsky and Chris Bell and Richard Morrison all had something to say, the most interesting thing was Gordon Quan busting a Tom DeLay pinata (figuratively speaking only; the kids hogged all the real ones). My good friend Lyn specifically asked him to run in the 7th, and he demurred. This leads me to speculate that what Quan really wants is to take on La Cucaracha Grande -- which by extension means Nick Lampson in the Democratic primary. (Aside to Mr. Lampson: why weren't you present at this event?)

And now for something completely different ...

D Magazine asks: who is Joseph T. Farkasdi?

Who is this man? Is he your local Toyota car salesman who wonders, "What do I have to do to earn your business today"? Or is he a conservative blogger, offering "real deep social responsive thought on the most divisive issues of today"? Or is he your ticket to financial freedom, helping you "eliminate all your debts and create new forms of income in less time than you might imagine"? Or is he Joseph with the Sensual Touch, a model, escort, masseur, nude, or semi-nude who offers "special rates for couples, seniors, and groups"?

The answer? He's all those things and more, including motivational speaker and adult filmmaker. Joseph is a real renaissance man. WARNING: search around his sites at your own peril, Joseph likes to be naked--and his enjoyment is a bit too obvious, if you know what I mean.

My observations:

-- anyone with the word "Fark" in their name simply begs ridicule right from the jump; and ...

-- from his candid glamour shots, it appears that Joseph (like his idol Jeff Gannon) is eager to supply his oh, maybe seven column inches -- edited -- of 'top' reporting to anyone who'll take him up on it.

My questions:

-- what Metroplex megachurch does he attend? I'll have a few followups to this question, probably ...

-- how much has he donated to GOP candidates? Yes, yes; data readily available online but I don't have time to look it up, would you mind?

I also saw "The End of Suburbia" over the weekend. 'Troubling' is the best I can do for now. It's a slant on the Peak Oil discussion and how it's affecting us already (with Middle Eastern wars being a byproduct and not the focus). This Houstonian, a member of Cheney's energy task force (you know, the one which we'll never learn what was discussed) was quoted prominently in the documentary. As well as author James Kunstler, who turned up on Salon on Saturday, so that's your primer.

Last night I got in a couple of hours of precinct captain training and then went to the movies again. Again, very upsetting. I'll try to have something serious and coherent to say about them later, but I'm not promising anything.

And just so I don't have to finish this post depressed, here's a letter that Jesus' General wrote to Tom DeLay suggesting a bake sale as fundraiser. Don't forget to click on the 'reports' at the end.

Update: One of our town's conservative bloggers got a little snarky when he couldn't find any posts about the "Without DeLay" Festival, and when I pointed mine out to him, he got even more tetchy. Pretty funny.

Here's another post, Chris. It's got pretty pictures ...

And here's some more photos, and here's some of Kym's pics from the Art Car Parade.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I love a parade!

Today I'm going downtown for the Art Car Parade (here's a pic of a car I like) and I have not one but TWO invitations to march (walk, actually; it's been decades since I marched) -- one is with the Global Awareness puppetistas, who are in town for the Halliburton shareholders protest next week, and also with the local chapter of DFA and "Spanky". Following that we will proceed to the "Save America Without DeLay Family Fun Festival", sponsored by the afore-mentioned Democracy for Houston and featuring not only fun, food, games, and carnival rides but some workshops and speeches by Richard Morrison, Chris Bell, Lou Dubose and others.

But I didn't want to let the weekend pass without commenting on last Thursday's Tom DeLay Benefit Gala/Salute to Imperialism held in Washington. Then I found that northstar had already said it all:

There is a lesson to be learned in the Tom DeLay saga. It’s probably not a lesson that you’re going to want to pass along to your children, but it’s one that the Medicis, were they to be alive today, would be proud of.

What’s the lesson? Clearly, when it comes to crime and ethical lapses, bigger is better. If you’re caught robbing the corner gas station, you’re going to do some hard time. If you’re caught taking bribes, breaking campaign financing laws, and/or shredding the House of Representatives ethics rules, (they) call you “The Hammer” and throw $250-per-plate dinners in your honor. Get caught with your hand in the till, and you’re going to get fired. Buy the loyalty of virtually every Republican member of Congress, and you could get away with buggering Bill Frist’s pet goat.

Yes, Conservatives LOVE Tom DeLay, which, I suppose, only goes to show how craven, self-absorbed, and thoroughly ethically-challenged these folks truly are. If you a Conservative True Believer, the only thing that really matters is the collection and maintenance of political power, because without political power you’re just another cranky dissident whining about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Thursday night’s DeLay tribute dinner may have brought a smile to DeLay’s face and an extra bounce to his step, but those of us who didn’t spend $250 to eat filet mignon and salmon should take heed. These folks care nothing about this country and the greater good. What they care about is staying on top of the political heap and forcing their narrow, fear-based agenda on the rest of us. The rest are mere details.

And DeLay has the cojones and the chutzpah to accuse Democrats of having no class? Good God, man…when’s the last time this demagogue took a good look in the mirror??


He did forget to mention the tiny candy hammers served as dessert, though...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Texas political bloggers and Chris Bell

were all on the same phone line tonight.

I've blogged previously here (and linked to this) about Bell and the governor's race, and tonight's call disclosed no blockbusters. Here are the highlights:

-- July is the deadline for his decision to formally enter the gubernatorial tilt; among a few other reasons, that's when his wife Alison will complete her chemotherapy.

-- Bell thinks it will take anywhere from $10 to $20 million to wage the contest.

-- he hears the same names as the rest of us do bandied about as possible competitors in the Democratic primary (Tony Sanchez, John Sharp). Whether they enter the race or not figures to break along the lines of Kay Bailey Hutchison's decision to run against Rick Perry on the GOP side. (Both of those men probably have no appetite for a potential general campaign against her given their track records in elections past, so if she makes up her mind to go, you could expect them not to. That's my opinion, not Chris Bell's.)

-- Bell "will take seriously" a Kinky Friedman candidacy and believes that overall it would be a good thing. The Kinkster "if nothing else will get people laughing at Rick Perry; but it's that sad laughter; the kind you laugh when you know something's broken".

-- the hiring of Joe Trippi (and EchoDitto) reflects Bell's interest in cultivating the netroots, and that includes reaching younger Texans. That's reflected in his website, the podcasts, and tonight's conference call with the Lone Star blogosphere. Continuing in a familiar Trippi trend, Bell has scheduled House Parties for Sunday, June 12 -- the date celebrating the one-year anniversary of Bell's ethics complaint filed against Tom DeLay.

Expect more blogging on future conference calls with Bell and other Democratic candidates.

Update: Sean at The Agonist and Nate at Common Sense have their live postings up.

Pastor Rick Scarborough of Pearland, TX

(Haven't we read about other prominent members of this southern suburb of Houston before?)

A post I made at HoustonDemocrats.com and cross-posted at Come and Take It! has all the details about this "Patriot Pastor" leading the Christian Soldiers Onward (marching as to war) against the godless, evil filibuster.

Go read it, and then gird your loins for battle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The military's manpower shortfalls

are putting pressure on some recruiters to, uh, get creative:

"Hey Chris, this is Sgt. Kelt with the Army man. I think we got disconnected. Okay, I know you were on your cell probably and just had a bad connection or something like that. I know you didn't hang up on me. Anyway, by federal law you got an appointment with me at 2 o'clock this afternoon at Greenspoint Mall, okay? That's the Greenspoint Mall Army Recruiting Station at 2 o'clock. You fail to appear and we'll have a warrant. Okay? So give me a call back."

That was a local example. Here's more from the NYT:

Interviews with more than two dozen recruiters in 10 states hint at the extent of their concern, if not the exact scope of the transgressions. Several spoke of concealing mental-health histories and police records. They described falsified documents, wallet-size cheat sheets slipped to applicants before the military's aptitude test and commanding officers who look the other way. And they voiced doubts about the quality of some troops destined for the front lines.

The recruiters insisted on anonymity to avoid being disciplined, but their accounts were consistent, and the specifics were verified in several cases by documents and interviews with military officials and applicants' families.

Yesterday, the issue drew national attention as CBS News reported that a high-school student outside Denver recorded two recruiters as they advised him how to cheat. The student, David McSwane, said one recruiter had told him how to create a diploma from a nonexistent school, while the other had helped him buy a product to cleanse traces of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms from his body. The Army said the recruiters had been suspended while it investigated.

Today the US Army called for a nationwide stand-down on May 20 of all recruiting efforts.

To have every recruiter across America review Army recruiting policies and standards.

Kos has an opinion on why this sort of thing is going on, and it has to do with the culture of lies and cowardice fostered by this President. And his administration.

So when I see things like this, I want to scream.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Not to beat a dead horse (off)

...but I'm still amazed at the missing reaction from the Talibaptists over the First Lady's equine masturbation jokes at the Correspondents Dinner last week.

What are they telling the children?

Personally it sounded like those rascals over at The White House had gotten ahold of her schtick and applied some edit. Oh wait, they did:

THE FIRST LADY: Oh please. Not that old thing again. I just threw up my tequila in my mouth a little. (Weapons of) Mass (Destruction)? I think he got confused when all those Mexican hookers in Tijuana took one look at that thing and said they wished there were "mas." Ladies and gentlemen, we are after all talking about a grown man who still pulls his pants and tighty-whiteys down to his ankles just so he can find his little boy business every time he uses a urinal. (Laughter.)

Boy it sure was difficult

being a Houston sports fan this past weekend.

The Rockets finally gave up on advancing in the NBA playoffs in spectacular fashion, losing to the Dallas Mavericks by 40 points Saturday night. That set a an NBA record for futility in Game 7s. At times this past season the Rockets were a thrill to watch (when their cobbled-together components jelled, such as in Game 6 when they punished the Mavs). At times I just cringed. Maybe a junkyard dog with three-point range, in the body of a 6-10 power forward, will show up in the free agent pool over the summer.

And the Astros lost to the Atlanta Braves 16-0 Sunday afternoon, running their road losing streak to 11 games. Former Astro Mike Hampton applied the beatdown, throwing a two-hitter and hitting a home run.

(Rocket Clemens outdueled AJ Burnett last night for some payback, but the 'Stros really need to start hitting. Berkman's returned so perhaps we'll see some improvement.)

It was more fun watching -- and then reading -- the post-mortem on the "Worst" Kentucky Derby ever.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Moneyshot Quote of the Week

There were some strong contenders, but this week's prize goes to the Reverend Pat Robertson for saying that the threat posed by liberal judges is "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

And when an incredulous George Stephanopoulos asked if the good reverend really believed that these judges posed "the most serious threat America has faced in nearly 400 years of history, more serious than al Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan, more serious than the Civil War?," he responded: "George, I really believe that."

Here's the quote in context, from last Sunday's broadcast of This Week. You can also watch a video snippet of that portion of the interview at the link.

This domestic terrorism being practiced on our nation's judiciary by the religious extremists who control the GOP is really just a warmup -- an air assault in advance of the 'nuclear option' -- for next week's showdown in the Senate.

Armando at Kos has more, including the backstory about the ally of Tom DeLay's who keeps the fire under this hatred burning.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Who do you like in the Derby today?

I'll be leaving shortly to pick up Mom and take her to the casino in Louisiana (hey, it's what she wanted to do), and we'll watch the Kentucky Derby while we're pulling the arms of the bandits.

I perused the morning line and came up with Afleet Alex, High Fly, and Bandini.

You got any picks?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Everybody knows his name

and they're not necessarily glad he came.

Jesse at the Stakeholder has everything below the line (it's from his latest e-mail):


Tom DeLay is a man who best operates in the shadows.

If nobody knows your name, you can hardly be at the center of a national scandal. And as it happens, despite DeLay's near-total control over the agenda of the US House of Representatives, facilitated by years of blind loyalty from his fellow Republicans, less than half of America even knew his name when they heard it. It was for this reason that there was little electoral fall out when he was admonished three times by the Ethics Committee, when two of his associates came under Senate and federal investigation for an $80 million lobbying scam, or when three people, including two of his closest aides, were indicted in connection with his PAC in Texas.

But Tom DeLay will no longer toil in anonymity. TIME Magazine reports:

"At first, it was easy to believe that the storm clouds gathering around House Majority Leader Tom DeLay signaled little more than another Washington tempest. After all, most Republicans reassured themselves, hardly anybody outside the Beltway or DeLay's district in Sugar Land, Texas, had even heard of the Congressman, much less cared about his inflammatory comments about judges or his overseas junkets that might have been paid for by lobbyists. But not any more. Letters and phone calls to congressional offices about DeLay have picked up sharply of late, an aide to the House GOP leadership says. The Majority Leader has become a punchline for late-night comedians; two weeks ago, he was the subject of the lead skit on Saturday Night Live. And one national poll, by Democrat Stan Greenberg, shows DeLay's name recognition at 77% - making him more famous than any other House member in modern history, except Newt Gingrich."

That is pretty famous, congratulations!

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes on some of DeLay's new problems...

"Tom DeLay sneaks around the Capitol like a fugitive these days, using back doors and basement passages to avoid television cameras. He skips meetings where reporters might get a chance to film his answers to their questions. He makes unscheduled appearances so he won't attract a media mob and disrupt colleagues' events."

And it still doesn't work."

Of course Tom DeLay will never come up for election across the country - that honor will fall to the rest of his loyal Republican rubberstamps. The Associated Press brings it home for him, however...

"A new poll shows 51 percent of voters in DeLay's district disapprove of the job DeLay is doing in Congress. The poll of 548 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points."

And the Houston Chronicle brings word that Democracy For America has taken the fight right into his district:

"Think the sniping over U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's ethics might fade away anytime soon?

Read the signs.

A left-leaning political action committee brought the simmering D.C. Beltway battle to the U.S. House majority leader's home turf this week, posting two billboards criticizing him near area roadways."The signs, erected south of downtown Houston and in La Marque, read: 'Lobbyists sent Tom DeLay golfing; all you got was this billboard.'"

But of course it wouldn't be any fun without Democrats filing to run against him. Nick Lampson, a former Democratic Rep. who was redistricted out of his seat by DeLay's gerrymandering scheme, is coming full circle to challenge DeLay is his own district, which just so happens to include about 120,000 of Lampson's former constituents.

Some folks say fame and fortune have a downside...


Scroll down for a picture of the billboard.

Tragic news

State Representative Joe Moreno, D-Houston, was killed earlier this morning when the pickup truck he was driving left the road, on US 71 near LaGrange.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, and Monica Pinon, chief of staff for State Rep. Joseph Pickett of El Paso were also injured in the accident. Their injuries are not believed life-threatening.

Among the many accomplishments in his short tenure in the Legislature, Moreno, 40, was the chairperson of the Harris County Delegation, a caucus of 14 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the Texas House, all of whom represent districts within Harris County.

My sincerest condolences to the family and friends of "Big Joe".

Thursday, May 05, 2005

'Nuclear option' vote as soon as next Tuesday?

Daily Kos has the comprehensive wrap-up.

At this point I think I'll just post the inflamed rhetoric coming out of the mouths of the far right radical extremists and let you judge for yourself:

"I believe it's concrete," (Manuel) Miranda (chairman of the National Coalition to End the Judicial Filibuster) said. "It must happen next week. It would be considered intolerable to delay any further than next week." He added, "Were it to be delayed beyond the next week, the Senate GOP should expect tens of thousands of angry phone calls and faxes to tie up their lines." (PD's note: Formerly a senior aide to Frist, one of Miranda's responsibilities in that capacity was to screen judicial nominees.)

“We’ve made it clear that patience is running out,” said Richard Lessner, executive director of the American Conservative Union.

This from the Right Hook:

"The art of politics today is not to compromise, but to demonize," Brian Fahling of the American Family Association aptly noted on Wednesday. He was in fact referring to a recent speech by Al Gore denouncing the Republican effort to dismantle the filibuster as "an American heresy." Fahling went on to say that "Democrats like Mr. Gore wish to continue populating the federal courts with judges who fancy themselves masters of good and evil," and that "holding President Bush's nominees hostage is their only hope, as they see it, of continuing to impose their radical social agenda on a reluctant nation."

James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who previously offered glowing remarks likening Supreme Court justices to members of the Ku Klux Klan, revisited the Terri Schiavo saga in his April newsletter to constituents. "This cooperative effort between the judiciary and the media to kill an innocent woman," he said, "is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American history."

"Judicial hostility to faith, and especially Christianity has never been greater than today," Dobson went on. He urged supporters to pressure the seven "squishy" Republicans who haven't committed to nuking the filibuster. And he personally warned the legislators not to squander their party's rare grip on power:

"You have been made the majority in the House, in the Senate, and a Republican occupies the White House. Together they represent the coveted 'Triple Crown' of American politics. If you fritter away the responsibility to reform the courts, and if you ignore the 'values' that motivated those who supported you at the polls, you do not deserve the trust given to you."

It's only Thursday, but that last one is probably the Moneyshot Quote of the Week.

If you haven't telephoned your Senators -- no matter who they happen to be -- now would be a good time.

Update (5/11/05): Well, yesterday came and went without a vote on the 'nuclear option'. Now Dr. Kitten Killer says it will be on for next week. He's been saying 'next week' for several weeks now. The fact of the matter is that Bill Frist would call the question if he had the votes. Harry Reid called Frist's bluff yesterday; did you see his statement? I think it's incredible that Frist can't hold his caucus together with a six-vote majority (including Dick Cheney as tie breaker) and he wants to be president ...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I just want to know if all that cash paid for a duffer to go shank a few drives into the North Sea.


The Next Hurrah pulls a loose thread and unravels a big hoary (or is that whore-y) mess:

Last week I pointed out the irony that one of Bush's filibustered judicial nominees is the son of the former Republican Senator who led the last filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. Today we'll look at another of Bush's filibustered nominees and his
connection to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Michigan Court of Appeal Judge Henry Saad was nominated in 2001 for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. His confirmation was blocked, Bush renominated him, and his appointment is again stalled in the Senate. Saad's wife is Mara Letica, an attorney and vice president of her family business, Letica Corporation. In 1992 she was nominated by the elder Bush as ambassador to Croatia, but the nomination occurred late in Bush's presidency, and like her current husband, she wasn't approved by the Senate, in that case so incoming President Clinton could appoint his own ambassador. In 2004 Letica was one of 105 members of Small BusinessLeaders for Bush-Cheney '04.

The small business group was not, however, Mara Letica's only contribution to last year's presidential contest. In addition to some contributions to congressional candidates, she gave $25,000 to the Republican National Committee. (Some of her donations were recorded as "Mara Letica," others as "Mara Letica Saad," and her home address on Michigan campaign finance disclosures is identical to Judge Henry William Saad.) While some people may wish that judges and their familes come to the bench having been above partisanship, that's just not a realistic expectation, and probably shouldn't be. But after all the protests by George W. Bush, his campaign and the White House about being shocked -- SHOCKED -- to learn about the Swifties' scurrulous attacks against John Kerry, and their denials about any associations between the Swifties and the Bushies, some enterprising reporter might want to ask Bush or Scott McLellan or somebody else at the White House what they think about the wife of one of his filibustered judges giving $10,000 to Swift Boat Veterans forTruth to help them spread lies about John Kerry's military service in Vietnam.

On August 31st of 2004 Rush Limbaugh said "if you really dig deep, you might find some Clinton PAC [political action committee] money, laundered three or four different ways, found its way to the Swift Vets. But that's just me." As usual, it was just Limbaugh. In reality, you don't even have to dig that deep to find money getting to the Swift Vets straight from the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan home of a filibustered Bush judicial nominee.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Corruption as art

Salon peels back the layers of Tom DeLay's charitable organizations, political action commitees, and the cronies and hacks and lickspittles that bind them all together. And one question (at least for me) remains: what's DeLay's golf handicap?

At one time in our recent history, the mere appearance of impropriety was enough to trigger the resignation of Congressional leaders -- of both parties.

Not so with DeLay. Have you ever seen a cockroach dig in his heels and grimace?

Me neither. I mean, usually they just scuttle away.

Create a backdrop slogan for Bush's next appearance

Go to this site:

Bush Backdrop Generator

Be sure and select different photos for creative options. Hours of fun.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Moneyshot Quote of the Week

"The Republicans are out of their cotton-picking minds on this issue,'' said (Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charles) Munger, a self-described right-wing Republican. Social Security is "one of the most successful things that the government has ever done.''

Bold and italicized emphasis is mine.

It occurs to me that if the man who occasionally puts the reins on Warren Buffet (sixth graf) can't convince the GOP that they're screwing up ...

... that there's going to be a lot more screwups to come.

I'd go out to the lobby for more popcorn if I could say I was only watching this Saturday morning Western, and wasn't acutely aware of being in the stagecoach, with them, about to go over the cliff.

This guy and his housecats

are just freaking killing me...

"Let's ask the cats about the FDA's new Food Pyramid".

A regeneration of vertebrae

in certain Democrats is observed by Robert Parry of Consortium News:

The mystery is, how did this happen? How did the Democrats find their voice and gain the upper hand over Bush on a number of issues: Social Security, his right-wing judicial appointments, the Terri Schiavo case, Tom DeLay’s ethics mess and the John Bolton nomination? What has caused the Democrats to grow a new spine?

Certainly part of the explanation is Republican miscalculation, starting with Bush’s post-election decision to make partial privatization of Social Security his major domestic policy initiative. Bush also brazenly named the undiplomatic Bolton to a sensitive diplomatic job as U.N. ambassador.

Congressional Republicans overplayed their hand, too. They changed the ethics process to protect House Majority Leader DeLay from more reprimands. They appeared to pander to the Christian Right by intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman whose feeding tube was removed. The Republicans even let the Schiavo debacle taint the battle over confirming right-wing

But another part of the answer lies with the Democrats. They appear less defensive, more willing to make their arguments without so many equivocations. ... One explanation for the Democrats’ turnabout is the rise of progressive media, most notably progressive AM talk radio which has expanded rapidly over the past several months. Finally, Democratic leaders can go on sympathetic radio shows and make their case directly to listeners.

Lots more about the rehab, and the cutting-edge medicine responsible for the improved prognosis, at the link.