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December 31, 2003

Happy New Year

By Byron LaMasters

I'm about to go out and celebrate new year's here in Los Angeles with one of my good friends from UT that moved out here after he graduated last spring. I'm excited, and happy about the new year. Best wishes for everyone in 2004!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Howard Dean is Who?

By Byron LaMasters

Who is Howard Dean? He's been compared to Bill Clinton, John McCain, Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Bill Bradley, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Ronald Reagan, Ross Perot, Harry Truman, Josiah Bartlett, Barry Goldwater, Steve Forbes, Jerry Brown, William Jennings Bryan and George W. Bush.

Thought you heard them all? In a column yesterday in the Dallas Morning News, William McKenzie makes the case for John Anderson:

Mr. Dean is galvanizing young people. They are dropping everything and setting out to his headquarters. Deaniacs are bonded together by their passion for doing what they think is right. The Bushites shouldn't scoff at that. Idealism will make Dean supporters fight until the last.

Mr. Anderson had a similar effect on young people in 1980. They saw the centrist as the alternative to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Doonesbury loved pricking our idealism, depicting rookie aides as running the Anderson campaign asunder. Still, there was a band-of-brothers feel, much like the Dean campaign possesses.

Mr. Dean is filled with righteous anger. The man is convinced, I mean convinced, that Mr. Bush is part of the axis of evil. There is nothing like a little moral clarity to get your juices going – and to keep those checks coming in.

Mr. Anderson's angry-man performance in Iowa's January 1980 debate turned our headquarters topsy-turvy. Phone calls came in like machine-gun fire after he soared in that debate. So did the money, as he became the Republican who didn't want the GOP to head into kookdom.

Mr. Dean is popular among suburban professionals in the Northern half of the country. When the Vermont doctor rolls up those sleeves and starts going after the right wing, he is talking the language of suburban boomers from Westchester County to Seattle.

Mr. Anderson also found a ready audience there. Suburban professionals around Boston, San Francisco and Chicago loved him.

Mr. Dean is seen as a liberal star, although his gubernatorial credentials are fairly centrist.

Mr. Anderson also became the darling of liberals, when he actually had a moderate voting record. He represented blue-collar Rockford, Ill., for 20 years, for heaven's sake.

Interesting points, interesting comparisons, but I think that it just proves the bigger point that you can basically compare Howard Dean to anyone. Ultimately, Roger Simin has it right on target. The candidate that Howard Dean most resembles is Howard Dean. For better or for worse...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Van Os Running for Appeals Seat

By Jim Dallas

Noted from OfftheKuff...

The short story: Decent lawyer. Ran for State Supreme Court in 1998. Didn't do too bad (he outpolled Garry Mauro by 230,000 votes...). Not neccesarily the most favorite person among many Democrats, but that's all inside baseball (and let's try not to be "Loop 360 Heathers"). Grass-rootsy, for better or worse.

If nobody else runs and the Van Os folks get their sh-tuff together, I'll probably work pretty hard for him, considering the opposition, Scott Brister, Texas's own "Ten Commandments Nut."

UPDATE 1: It's Supreme Court, not Court of Criminal Appeals. Thanks to WhoMe?

UPDATE 2: Ouch! I'm not sure what substance this has, but it will probably get dragged up sooner or later.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:41 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Ron Wilson Must Go

By Jim Dallas

Thanks to Carl Whitmarsh for forwarding the news.

Alma Allen filed papers yesterday to challenge state Rep. Ron Wilson (?-Houston) in the Democratic Primary. Allen, a member of the State Board of Education since 1993, is eminently qualified (almost over-qualified) for this seat. Moreover, she's been (at least as I understand it; I'm not a veteran SBOE watcher) a consistent liberal voice on the board.

In 1998, Allen lost a primary challenge against Wilson by about 1,000 votes -- although given that Wilson is now anathema in the Democratic Party, I think this surely will be a competitive race. Though neither Allen nor Wilson has had anything but token opposition in the last two general elections, Allen won nearly 10 times as many votes as Wilson did in the last general election (167,000 to 18,572), and almost 100 times the number of votes that Wilson won his last primary by (he eeked out a 2000 vote margin, more or less, in 2002). Clearly, the woman knows how to line up support.

At any rate, the Houston Press printed a story this week which reads like a litany of Wilson's sins. Whether you like his politics or not (everyone's entitled to their opinions), his personal attacks against Rodney Ellis and Garnet Coleman are over the line, and he ought to be punished for that -- not as a Democrat or a liberal or an African-American (or whatever), but as a matter of basic human decency:

After a turn on the witness stand two weeks ago in the Democratic lawsuit challenging the plan, Wilson attacked colleague Garnet Coleman for his history of manic depression. Many considered it a low blow, but that was just one more unstatesmanlike wisecrack in an ongoing torrent of invective by the Houston legislator.

What hasn't surfaced publicly is an incendiary deposition in which Wilson opens up on a handful of elected Democrats, using language that makes his comments about Coleman seem tame by comparison.

Wilson took a shot at state Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston, testifying that "he's got his head up his ass half the time." Just to help the court reporter, Wilson spelled it out: "A-S-S. Ass."

Ellis "is taking a position that black people don't deserve another seat in Congress," Wilson explained later to The Insider. To describe minority officials who fought the redistricting plan, Wilson used some rather charged racial imagery:

"That's the effect of all this dancing around, shuffling and jiving, and the tap dancing. They are saying to the public, black people do not deserve another seat in Congress, even though the population is there to justify it."

Wilson was asked during his December 1 deposition whether he was supporting the plan because he intends to run for the redrawn Ninth Congressional District against 25th District incumbent Chris Bell. Wilson claimed that Coleman was spreading that rumor, sounding "like some old, whiney, 3-year old girl." A bit later, Wilson opined that "I don't consider [Coleman] an African American."

After the deposition, he contended that Coleman "has placed the interest of party politics and his own economic welfare above the interests of African-Americans, the community I represent. He's seen fit to sing the piper's tune and to be Chris Bell's boy by betraying black people."

If the plan stands, Bell would have to run for election in the redrawn Ninth District, which is dominated by African-Americans. Although Wilson denied he plans to run against Bell, he said any qualified black would win. "I think he gets his butt kicked," opined Wilson, who later said he'd bet his house that Bell will lose.

Wilson also accused Coleman of being indebted to white Democrats because he receives large cash payments through his media buying firm, Coleman Strategies.

He "takes it in and doesn't have to report to anybody how he spends it. He literally makes his living being a leech off of campaigns."

Coleman responds that most of his company's campaign work has been pro bono -- unpaid -- and he has made little from Coleman Strategies. He points out that Wilson's position, as the only one of 16 African-Americans in the legislature to vote for redistricting, speaks for itself.

"I don't know that anyone understands Ron but Ron, but it's clear that he's gone over the top in his comments, and that is unfortunate. He's really gone over the top in the policy positions he's taken vis-à-vis his constituents." As examples, Coleman cites Wilson's votes against hate-crime legislation and for a budget that eliminated health care dollars for low-income children.

Congressman Bell previously criticized Wilson for improper conversations with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a key backer of the redistricting effort.

"Bell cannot tell me who I can and cannot talk to," Wilson told The Insider. "As a member of Congress, he talked to Tom DeLay a number of times and that's okay. That's why I say he's a racist bastard. That's the arrogant attitude he has, and why he shouldn't be in Congress."

I'm sorry, Rep. Wilson, but when you go accusing Chris Bell of being a racist (said the kettle to the pot) despite saying that Garnet Coleman "isn't an African-American" because he's interested in preserving substantive representation, well, I will not abide.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:21 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Kos on front page of USA Today

By Jim Dallas

Although still upstaged by the ever-foxy Jennifer Connelly, Markos (as well as Houston-based GOPUSA.com and the blogosphere, generally) is now front-page news.

In other news, the Longhorns lost another bowl game they should of won. Congratulations to Washington State.

Now, just as soon as the 2003 Holiday Bowl is properly consigned to the memory hole, we can go through another roller-coaster season of Almost-But-Not-Quite-Winning-The-National-Championship with Mack Brown and the boys.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 30, 2003

Ashcroft Tries to Dodge the Bullet

By Andrew Dobbs

From the AP:

Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself Tuesday from the investigation into whether the Bush administration leaked a CIA operative's name to a newspaper columnist, and a career federal prosecutor from Chicago was named as special counsel to take over.

In a move cheered by Democrats, Deputy Attorney General James Comey announced that Ashcroft had stepped aside to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after reviewing evidence recently developed in the inquiry. He would not specify the nature of that evidence.

Comey said U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald in Chicago, a veteran of terrorism and political corruption cases, would take over as a special prosecutor and would be given "the tools to conduct a completely independent investigation."

Note the interesting grammar here, maybe I'm reading too much into this but perhaps I'm not:

Comey announced that Ashcroft had stepped aside to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after reviewing evidence recently developed in the inquiry.

Other stories have noted that Ashcroft kept very close tabs on the investigation, being briefed on every new news that came up. Now, after reviewing all of this, after hearing all of this confidential information he's doing a complete 180 on the administration's policy and passing the buck to someone else. If he had done this from the beginning we'd just say that he was being cautious, being honest. Now, after the investigation has been on going, it seems as though he's trying to get out of the way of an oncoming freight train.

Whoever it is that betrayed the secrecy of a CIA agent's identity- whether its the Democrats' dream of Karl Rove or some low level person without any political weight attached to him/her it is important that they go to jail for a long long time. Putting the lives of Americans and American allies at risk for political gain is shameful and ought to be punished. The thing that chaps my ass is how nonchalant Bush seems to be treating this. This ought to be project number one- get the traitor- but it isn't for some reason. Still, looks like someone else, Jim Comley to be exact, will see it in that light.

To recap- "senior level Bush Administration official" puts the lives of unknown numbers of Americans and American allies at risk so that he can one-up an enemy of administration and no one seems to know who it is and Bush seems to not care too much. He hands the job off to Johnny Ashcroft down at the DOJ who keeps a close eye on things. Democrats ask for someone not directly associated with the administration to take over but the Administration gives em the finger. Finally, Ashcroft looks at everything for a while and lickity split he calls up someone else and gets the hell out of dodge, thereby contradicting what everyone's been saying all along. Now why would anyone suspect something fishy about that?

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 29, 2003

Elections Back Home

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Though the actual story is a few days old, I would like to pass along this short report in the SA Express News about events here in my home county of Gillespie here in Central Texas. Had we not gotten the said donation, one of the next steps would have been to take use of some election code that would have forced the local Republican Party to share election funds with us as they get about $10,000 I think.

Demo voters in Gillespie get help By Zeke MacCormack

A $2,000 donation should allow Gillespie County Democrats to comply with state election laws for the first time in seven years and spare party members the traditional commute to Fredericksburg to vote in the March primary. The county's minority party last used multiple polling sites in 1996, local officials said. Since then Democratic primary voting has occurred only at St. Joseph's Hall in Fredericksburg.

The Texas Election Code authorizes consolidation of primary polling places down to a minimum of one site in each county commissioner precinct, Jennifer Waisath of the Secretary of State's Office said Tuesday.

George Keller, the Democrat's county chairman since 2001, said he plans to re-establish polling sites in each of the four commissioners' precincts for the March 9 primary.

"We'll announce the locations in two or three weeks," said Keller, who expects the new location to improve voter turnout.

Fewer than 400 Democrats voted in the 2002 primary, he said, but the general election drew 2,000 votes by the party. "So it's pretty clear there are voters out there," he said.

Reduced state funding left Keller with just $1,200 to conduct his party's primary until last week, when state leaders, faced with frustrated party officials across Texas, announced that funding would be restored to prior levels with a $2.5 million allocation.

"That would take me back to $1,450, but I needed $3,400 more" to establish three new polling sites, Keller said.

He had planned to ask Gillespie County commissioners last Monday to allocate the funds, but a donor who wished to remain anonymous stepped forward on Friday with $2,000. An appreciative Keller plans to hold fund-raisers to make up the balance.

Tommie Skipper, a former Gillespie County Democratic chairman, said sufficient funding is only half the battle.

"It's hard to even get anybody to work at the polls," said Skipper, 72, of the hourly jobs with wages of $7 for trained staffers and $5.15 for first-time workers.

The Republican Party chair in Gillespie County could not be reached for comment.

Out of the 15 federal voting precincts we have, four will be filled with Precinct Chiars this next cycle, me being one of them. On top of that, 3 of them are for sure Dean supporters, and the fourth I believe is. I think that we will for once have an increased turnout, and our caucus attendance I think will be many times larger. In 2000 there was about 10 people total I believe. That's for all 15 precincts conventions combined. And to think that we can send 52 people to our County Convention!

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Western White House`

By Byron LaMasters

The same folks that run White House.org, have started Western White House.org. Here's what they have to say:

The Western White House is the private ranch home of President and Mrs. George W. Bush. Located in the remote, charming hamlet of Crawford, Texas, the Western White House is a modest and photogenic reflection of the Bush family's folksy, down-home authenticity. Completed in 1999, the Western White House was designed by President Bush himself, and is notable for its patriotic and evocative melding of architectural highlights from Baptist prayer halls, medium security penitentiaries, and antebellum tobacco plantations.

Also check out the floorplans of the Western White House.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Evil Media Clowns

By Jim Dallas

You know it's an election year when you start to see shoddy smear-jobs against candidates.

The absolute worst so far this season has been John Solomon's AP story which magically transforms Howard Dean into a "hypocrite" using old quotes taken out of context, bad analogies, and the selective use of facts.

John Solomon's AP story is a travesty. If it ran in your newspaper today, I strongly urge you as an American to write a letter to the editor and tell the whole story.

The lead paragraph pretty much sets the tone --

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who has criticized the Bush administration for refusing to release the deliberations of its energy policy task force, as governor of Vermont convened a similar panel that met in secret and angered state lawmakers.

Much is made in the story about how "similar" the two task forces were. Solomon makes a point of beating the idea into the readers' head in the 9th-to-last paragraph, in which he writes "The parallels between the Cheney and Dean task forces are many."

And while the story does make a cursory run through the facts, which in totality show that the "parallels" are few, the empasis remains on the claim that the task forces are somehow equal.

True, both task forces held secret sessions and talked about energy, but that's about as far as the comparison goes.

Moreover, many of the facts of the story are buried so far down that most small papers, like the Galveston County Daily News, cut them out entirely. Here is the letter to the editor that I just wrote about this --

Your snippet on Howard Dean (Monday, A4) is lamentable. The AP story from which it was cut is a biased piece of "gotcha" journalism, using a lot of old quotes, flimsy analogies, and over-reaching generalizations to imply hypocrisy on Gov. Dean's part, when none exists.

Howard Dean’s energy task force in Vermont was not comparable to Dick Cheney’s energy task force in Washington.

First, the Vermont task force held a public hearing (Cheney did not). Second, the Vermont task force had balanced input from a number of citizens' groups, not just "liberal" ones like the AP story implies.

Third, the Vermont group listed the participants publicly in their final report. To this day, Vice President Cheney formally refuses to even say who he talked to, and is fighting in the Supreme Court to prevent the people from finding out. The Daily News left this out.

There is no comparison.

That pretty much sums it up, although I'm leaving out another detail (but, heck, so did John Solomon).

The reason why Democrats want to get their hands on the Cheney task forces' deliberations is a little complicated. Under one interpretation of Federal Advisory Committee Act, secret task forces aren't supposed to exist on the federal level at all. The Vermont task force, was, of course, governed by Vermont's open-meeting law, so there's your number one difference.

The thing about FACA, though, is that it only bans secret meetings if non-government personnel are involved.

Although the White House claims the only participants were government officials (and hence, not covered by FACA but by other, more generous acts), there has always been a pretty deep suspicion that energy industry lobbyists were participating within the definition of FACA. If they did, then the Vice President may very well have broken the law.

The only way to know whether the energy task force was operating within the law is to look through the deliberations.

That is why Cheney is stone-walling the Sierra Club, Justice Watch, and others. It's not political, it's legal. Much as Richard Nixon sought to block access to the Watergate tapes to prevent people from finding out what he knew about CREEP's illegal activities, Cheney may very well be blocking this to save his own hide.

What happened in Washington may have been a crime, and essentially the White House is trying to obstruct justice, in the broadest, non-legal sense of the term.

Now, my understanding is that the secret meetings of the Vermont task force were fully within the laws of the state of Vermont. While it would be nice if the task force unveiled their records (as a matter of public curiousity), there aren't any legal ramifications.

At any rate, John Solomon's AP story about Howard Dean leaves all of this out, instead blurring the story as if it were solely about "secrecy." Secrecy has a place in government -- if it's within the law and handled professionally, as Howard Dean's task force handled it.

My gut feeling is that this story probably came out of a "blast fax" from either the Republicans or a Democratic rival. Too many of the points made in the story seem like they were dug out of Lexis-Nexis by an over-eager oppo researcher.

Again, please write your newspaper editor and kill this story. Do not let ignorance and Below-The-Beltway sophistry taint a good man!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:34 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Down and Out in the Spider-Hole

By Jim Dallas

Reports in the foreign press that claimed that Saddam Hussein's capture had been, in effect, staged, got people thinking harder about that strange coincidencewhereby President Bush signed the FY2004 Intelligence Authorization Act on the same day that Saddam Hussein was captured.

(Via Kos poster Xavier Sigala and the San Antonio Current)

n December 13, when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush not only celebrated with his national security team, but also pulled out his pen and signed into law a bill that grants the FBI sweeping new powers. A White House spokesperson explained the curious timing of the signing - on a Saturday - as "the President signs bills seven days a week." But the last time Bush signed a bill into law on a Saturday happened more than a year ago - on a spending bill that the President needed to sign, to prevent shuttng down the federal government the following Monday.

By signing the bill on the day of Hussein's capture, Bush effectively consigned a dramatic expansion of the USA Patriot Act to a mere footnote. Consequently, while most Americans watched as Hussein was probed for head lice, few were aware that the FBI had just obtained the power to probe their financial records, even if the feds don't suspect their involvement in crime or terrorism.

By signing the bill on the day of Hussein's capture, Bush effectively consigned a dramatic expansion of the USA Patriot Act to a mere footnote.

The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies tucked away these new executive powers in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, a legislative behemoth that funds all the intelligence activities of the federal government. The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of "financial institution," which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters."

Congressional leaders had already come under fire for the shenanigans that got the clause inserted into the funding bill.

There's reasons to question the Kurd claims that Saddam Hussein was tucked away for the Coalition in his spider-hole. Still, if we put on our tin-foil hats, it gets pretty easy to suspect that maybe, just maybe, this was more than a coincidence.

Did the White House know about Saddam, and time his perp walk to provide political cover? Most likely not. We don't know, and without any other knowledge, it's best to resist the temptation to speculate, particularly in the times we live in.

But in this era of uncertainty, it's also worth noting that there are people in the world for whom such conspiracy theorizing emboldens, and no, I'm not just talking about us crazy left-wingers at Burnt Orange Report.

For example, consider the chatter on the ground reported by Stars and Stripes --

Though most Iraqis seem to have accepted the fact Saddam was nabbed on Dec. 13, bizarre rumors on his real fate and whereabouts still circulate. Most of the theories suggest the military nabbed a double, not Saddam. The credulous majority, however, seem to view the rumors as a psychic hangover from years of brainwashing.

The sheer span of time — more than three decades — that the strongman ruled Iraq and the hard rivets he used to keep it that way made the man a myth. Children even sang songs about Saddam the very day he was caught, not so much out of respect, according to one Iraqi, but out of routine.

Though he’s heard the rumors, Abbass believes Saddam is in custody. Many Iraqis who believe the official U.S. account said the way the grizzled man on the television moves and gestures proves he is the ex-president.

“Because he ruled for 35 years, he is like a legend,” Abbass says. “They don’t want to believe he’s been caught.”

The shop’s owner, Ali Abbass, said about half of Iraqis still mourn the fall of Saddam. When news broke that Saddam had been captured, celebratory gunfire rattled throughout Baghdad. Ali says yet more lead was spent after some Sunnis and Baathists heard rumors that Saddam had been sighted, still free, in Fallujah...


... American military and coalition officials say they don’t proactively attempt to dispel rumors, even when they’re in print.

“We try to make ourselves as open as possible, and almost every day we have a press conference,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Gainer, spokesman for military forces here. “The press is welcome to ask us questions. … They ask us a lot of times, ‘Is this true?’ And we haven’t even heard of it.”

And Iraq’s free press has only been that way for a short time and is still getting the hang of it. Responding to a press conference question on rumors in general, coalition spokesman Charles Heatly said authorities plan no crackdowns on the tales, tall or otherwise.

“We will deal with these rumors in a free media environment,” Heatly said.

Hopefully, there will be a commitment to transparency and honest government in Iraq, because ultimately it will cultivate trust.

But let's zoom back to Washington, for a comparison.

President Bush has become infamous for not holding press conferences; although I hesitate to quote from the far-righters over at lewrockwell.com, it's apt --

Our current president, George W. Bush, avoids formal press conferences like Ellen DeGeneres avoids men, and it’s no wonder why. Without the guiding hand of the teleprompter to feed his speechwriters’ words into his mouth, he’s as lost as Rush Limbaugh at a NOW convention. And so, understandably perhaps, Bush stages a press conference about as often as the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

President Bush, is (or at least, ought to be) infamous for not producing information. be Stonewalling on Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force. Stonewalling on the 9/11 Commission. Yellowcake and the never-ending game of "Who Endangered CIA Asset Valerie Plame?"

Need I go on?

The result has been a vicious circle, whereby Bush has, generally through his own incompetence and the incompetence of those around him, failed to cultivate the trust or respect of many Americans, mostly Democrats. We don't have to like what he's doing; but the fact of the matter is that we could still like him -- and we don't, in large part because he's not doing much to win us over besides smirking, telling awkward jokes, and pretending to be a rancher.

The vicious circle continues as such. We don't trust him. We get shrill. They accuse us of aiding and abetting the enemy, or whatever (contrast that again to Baghdad, where shrillness is tolerated in a "free media environment").

And just to think, maybe, just maybe, that wouldn't happen if the President would just start acting like the "uniter" he promised to be.

George W. Bush has been President now for nearly three years, and I think the fact of the matter is that he has generally failed in restoring honor and integrity to the White House. Our country is worse off today because of that.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Anti-Choice Scare Tactics

By Byron LaMasters

The Austin American Statesman did a long story today on the scare tactics employed by anti-choice activists. It's pretty outrageous what people like Chris Danze do to try to harass women and women's health care providers.

Danze now spends Saturday mornings outside Whole Woman's Health, a new abortion clinic in North Austin owned and operated by Amy Hagstrom Miller, who worked for 15 years at abortion clinics in Austin, New York and Minneapolis.


He said he sent Hagstrom Miller's landlord a letter in late August, offering the landlord the assistance of Danze's brother, a real estate attorney in Dallas, who could help the landlord "get Amy out of your building," according to the letter.

Danze sent a second letter three days later. It included photographs of aborted fetuses.

"Amy is killing children the same age and size as these photos, ON YOUR PROPERTY. While it is legal, it is terribly immoral. We are praying for you both and hope that your faith in Christ . . . will help you grow in courage and resolve to remove her and the evildoers from your property."

The landlord said he's received several letters about the clinic but declined to comment and requested that his name not be published.

Hagstrom Miller received an anonymous letter at her home in March, shortly after she opened the clinic, warning that if she did not close her business, a second mailing would be sent to 77 neighbors identifying her as a serial killer.

Shortly after, she said, several neighbors approached her with a letter that identified her as the owner of a "child killing operation in Austin. . . . currently involved in the serial killing of approximately 40 to 50 boys and girls a week." It included her home address, the clinic's address, and an 8- by 10-inch color photo of her. It was signed "A Concerned citizen."

Later, an e-mail sent to employees at the school district where she lives referred to Hagstrom Miller as a serial killer who had "ramped up" the killing operation. The e-mail closed: "Please pray for Ms. Miller, her staff of killers, the women who are scarred for life and the children who never had a chance."

Danze, when asked if he sent the letters, responded: "I'm not going to address that. They may or may not be my letters. And if I knew who wrote those letters, I wouldn't tell you." He also declined to comment on the e-mail.

He responded in a later e-mail to the Austin American-States- man: "Just as the Department of Public Safety informs communities the whereabouts of sexual predators, it is important for people to know the whereabouts of serial killers as well."

"They're harassing and intimidating in the name of Christianity," Hagstrom Miller said. "It's crazy that they're presenting the Christian perspective . . . I just don't know what we can do, and I'll be damned if I'll let him get me evicted."

The letters "did not include anything that we felt that were of an illegal nature," said Austin police spokesman Kevin Buchman. The letters and e-mail were sent from outside of Austin, but Austin police reviewed them because the clinics are located within the city. A letter would be considered illegal if it contained a threat of bodily injury or incited someone to cause bodily injury, Buchman said.

"I want her evicted, out of there," Danze said of Hagstrom Miller. "I want every abortion chamber in Austin shut down, but I'm not going to do anything illegal or unethical."

Outrageous. Just outrageous. It's not illegal, but its just one example of the tactics that the right-wing uses effectively to intimidate women and abortion providers.

Want to help? Support Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capitol Region Today.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:00 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 28, 2003

Social Security- Private Accounts or No?

By Andrew Dobbs

Yesterday I posted about Bush's troubles going into the next legislative session and I said that I support a system of private accounts for Social Security pensioners. I suppose taking the position that the late liberal Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan took on the issue makes me a heretic, but let's look at the facts.

First, let's do away with the myths that this system would just hand everyone a bunch of cash to do whatever they want with it. The Cato Institute has an alternative program that would set up a system of private accounts. The reason I support such a program is that it would mean more money (the average annual return for the stock market over the last 200 years is 7%, Social Security only has a 1% return) for less in taxes- the Cato proposal would take 5% from workers and 5% from employers as opposed to 6.4% from each currently. Furthermore, this proposal would not mean that in the case of a market downtick that granny will be eating Alpo and living in a cardboard box- the federal government would still insure a minimum ammount of income- if one's investments would not allow for that ammount it would be subsidized by the feds. Finally, if for some reason you have a deep-seated fear of investment even when the government promises a minimum return you could choose to stay in the low-performing, no-risk system in place now. More benefits for fewer taxes and guaranteed return- who could oppose that?

The issue that gives many pause is the prospect of transition costs. See, most people envision Social Security as being an investment account right now- you pay your payroll taxes and it goes into some bank account somewhere to be withdrawn when you retire. That, of course, is not true. Your money goes to pay off the pensions of current Social Security drawers and your kids money will pay for your "investment." This is the reason the system is about to default- when more people are retired than there are working or when those numbers are roughly equal it will mean that the system will be bankrupt. Changing over to private accounts creates a long term solution but requires a short term investment to pay the benefits of current pensioners. Cato suggests keeping the withdrawl rate for employees and employers at 12.4% but using the extra 2.4% to finance part of this while using debt or other means (never taxes for Cato, of course) to finance the transition. In the long run of course, we will actually be saving billions with the new system so the point will be moot.

So why should a liberal Dem like myself or Moynihan support such a system?

First, it means that working people- the very people our party is supposed to be looking out for- will have more money when they retire and more money now.

Secondly, and most importantly for me, Social Security is currently a huge drain on our budget- accounting for more federal spending than all other programs put together. If we can reduce the ammount we spend there we can use that money for other programs or for debt reduction (which would create more money for more programs in the future). 7 programs account for more than 75% of all federal spending- Social Security, the military, Medicare, Medicaid, civil service pensions, military pensions and servicing the debt. If we can find ways to cut down on spending in these areas or eliminating them (the debt that is) we can spend more on universal health care, universal living wages, education, etc.

Thirdly, it will energize American business by significantly increasing investment. This will create new jobs and more opportunity for working people.

Fourthly, currently if you pay in thousands of dollars and then kick the bucket before getting them back your money just goes away. Under this, if you die your money goes to your heirs, which can help them finance their lives after the cheif wage-earner or pensioner is gone.

Finally, something must be done to fix Social Security or we will default on our promise to retiring Americans. Some have suggested raising taxes, but I think that we should avoid handing taxpayers the bill when we can- I don't like being labled "tax and spend" and I don't like losing elections which is what happens when we raise taxes. Let's give working people more money in their pockets and create more investment for America. Something must be done, something that doesn't just add more money but something that fundamentally changes our way of doing things so that the systemic problems of Social Security are cured while giving us greater opportunity for spending on social justice.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:39 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Margin of Duh

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Polls can be great. But somtimes the reporting of them can be incredibly stupid. Consider for instance this gem of a report.

The American public initially supports Medicare legislation providing help with prescription drugs, but that support fades when presented with criticism of the bill signed into law this year, a poll released Saturday suggests.

Asked whether they support "a Medicare bill which among other things provides prescription drug coverage and allows private companies to provide some services," almost two-thirds, 63 percent, said yes, according to the poll by the National Annenberg Election Survey.

When those polled were presented with opponents' arguments that the bill won't help seniors that much and cutting costs will eventually destroy Medicare, support faded. After hearings those arguments, only one in five of the total sample, 21 percent, supported it and another two in five said they were unsure.

Well duh. Though I hope that this isn't a word for word account of how the poll was conducted, the way it is being reported makes it sound that way. Well, gee, if I was asked how I felt about an expensive measure if it wouldn't help its targeted group that much or actually destroy a program, I wonder if my support might "fade" or become a little more "unsure".

Come on reporters, let's get with it. I was once one of you, and this should not become the standard.

During a campaign year, both sides are certain to vigorously debate the measure.

Yeah. Great Analysis. I'm tingling with suspense.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 27, 2003

Dark Clouds Gathering for George Bush?

By Andrew Dobbs

Via the Wall Street Journal, it appears as though several problems are looming large for President Bush that could limit his chances of a 2004 victory. The issue seems to be a growing distrust among his own party in Washington.

First, is the Libya issue:

They are skeptical of lifting sanctions and rewarding Libyan leader Gadhafi, even if he does come clean on weapons of mass destruction, but figure they can't fight Rice. The national security adviser has made the Libyan initiative a top priority -- as vindication of the Bush doctrine of threatening pre-emptive force.

Many Pentagon and State officials were stunned by last Friday's news, talks were so closely held. More meetings with Libyans and the British are likely, as U.S. outlines demands for lifting sanctions -- not just intrusive inspections, but more intelligence on Libya's past terrorist ties. Families of victims of Flight 103, which Libya downed over Scotland in 1988, are outraged.

Widow Stephanie Bernstein calls U.S. "horribly inconsistent" in approach to Gadhafi vs. Hussein.

I have to say that I'm with the hardliners on this one. I was not one of those left-wing types that opposed all sanctions on Iraq. I thought that perhaps they could use some reform but the clear problem wasn't US-led sanctions but rather the greed and despotism of their leader. The same is true for Libya. Muammar Qaddafi is an evil, despotic, murderous dictator who is not to be trusted. No sanctions should be lifted until he is dead or steps down for a freely elected leader of his country- WMD or no.

It surprises me that Bush would consider doing such a thing, if only that the comparisons between Iraq and Libya will make it clear to the world and to American voters that Iraq had nothing to do with "liberation" as he now claims.

The second problem is his own party's push for him to come out for Social Security privatization.

THIRD RAIL: Vexed conservatives urge Bush to change Social Security.

Stewing over a new law they say does little to inject the private market into Medicare, activists at a Heritage Foundation meeting agree Bush could "redeem himself from the Medicare debacle" by a bold plan to create private retirement accounts from Social Security, says activist Stephen Moore.

Bush aides say he'll just talk up the idea in 2004 -- as in 2000 -- to seek a second-term mandate to act. Republicans in Congress fear political risk. Conservatives' favored model for change would entail big borrowing for trillion-dollar transition costs. Officials shun public use of "privatization" -- it polls badly -- but privately use it to describe Bush's goal.

Here's a surprise to many of you- I tend to support a form of Social Security reform that would allow people to invest part of their benefits into private accounts, much like Bush has proposed. I support it because it will lead to higher checks after retirement while costing less in taxes. The only issue is that, as the Journal notes, it would cost billions to transition to this program. Of course Bush won't use spending cuts or tax increases to fund this, but almost certainly just add it to the obese tab he's handing to our children in the form of belt-busting deficits. Which brings us to our final concern:

HIT THE CEILING: With Bush and Congress facing election-year embarrassment of having to raise the debt limit -- borrowing could breach the current $7.384 trillion ceiling this summer -- deficit hawks talk of using the vote to force passage of budget restraints. They're not optimistic. Republicans say past curbs reined in tax cuts, not spending.

This will be the third year in a row that Bush and the Congressional GOP have had to raise the debt ceiling so that they could spend without having any money. Doing this is a bit like credit card companies letting chronic defaulters who are saddled with unimaginable debt define their own credit. To paraphrase a particularly humorous analogy from conservative columnist P.J. O'Rourke, its like giving teenagers whiskey and car keys. There is a solid fiscal and philosophical argument for keeping the ceiling where it is now, but we ought to keep it for political reasons as well. Congressional Dems need to join up with budget hawk Republicans to force Bush to either significantly cut services or significantly raise taxes just as he's going into the 2004 elections. We can vote against whatever he proposes to fix it, as long as we've put him in a position where he has to do something. It's time to force this president to face his irresponsibility and to make it very clear to the American people that a credit card presidency cannot succeed.

In each of these cases conservatives in his own party are urging him to keep his word on three important issues- Libya, Social Security and the deficit. Perhaps Bush is hoping to alienate some of these people in his party that he might "triangulate" and win the election. Problem is, when Clinton triangulated he did things that were unpopular with liberals but popular with the public at large- welfare reform, etc. Nobody out there is really raring to buddy up to a guy who hanged student dissidents from street lamps, maintaining status quo on Social Security isn't really "triangulation" its just fiddling while a fiscal crisis with that program quickly builds steam and most people don't like weighing our economy down with government debt. Bush is in a losing position right now and we need to team up with the right flank of the GOP to ultimately weaken him for 2004.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:55 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

By Byron LaMasters

Merry Christmas everyone from the Burnt Orange Report. I haven't been posting as much as I expected over break. I've been busy with some political work that I've been doing back here in Dallas, along with spending time with family and friends. Anyway, best wishes for a Happy Holidays for all our readers.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 23, 2003

More Tests, More Knowledge

By Byron LaMasters

So what are you?

Here's my results:

Your political views are Liberal.
Your political party is most likely Democrat.

Fairly accurate. Then again, it called Owen a moderate, and if you've ever read his blog, he's anything but a moderate (most of us would classify it as "right-wing reactionary").

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Donate / Volunteer for Paul Sadler

By Byron LaMasters

The special election to fill Bill Ratliff's state senate seat will be on Tuesday, January 20th. That's right, the election is less than one month away and Democrats in the district have united behind former state representative Paul Sadler. He's the only Democrat on the ballot.

Check out his webpage, here. Sadler is an expert on school finance and and public education reform. He also has a strong record of leadership as a state representative.

So how can we help?

1) Donate to his campaign. He accepts online contributions, so its easy. I'd say add $.01 for the Internet, but the form asks for whole dolor contributions only, so why don't we add $1 for the internet (i.e. donate $11, $21, $51, $101, etc.).

2) Volunteer. Call the campaign at: 903-938-7670 or email them at Info@SadlerforSenate.com.

There's an opportunity to help build signs this Saturday in Tyler:

Join Sadler Supporters in Northeast Texas and Help Build and Place Signs for Sadler for Senate District 1 for Senate District 1

10:00 AM
Saturday, December 27th
Steelworkers’ Union Hall
13624 State Hwy 31 West (Chandler Highway), Tyler

If you are interested in being part of the campaign team to win SD1 or are interested in finding out about transportation to Tyler, contact Tommy Smelser, 972-647-2828.

We have less than a month before election day, so lets get to work!

Update I just donated $21. Who wants to join with me in helping elect Paul Sadler?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ralph Nader Not Running As a Green

By Byron LaMasters

Good News, and a special thanks to everyone who told Nader not to run. Without Nader, the Greens don't have a high profile, highly recognizable candidate, and they'll take less votes. Without the Green Party Nader will have more trouble attaining ballot access and money. It's a win-win situation for Democrats.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Christmas Music Causes Emotional Trauma

By Byron LaMasters

Well, not really, but thats what some workers in the Czech Republic are saying.

Labor unions in the Czech Republic demanded Monday that stores stop playing Christmas carols incessantly or pay compensation for causing emotional trauma to sales clerks.

Some stores here play the same songs all day -- and play them loudly. Employees say shifts have become unbearable.

"To listen to it for eight hours a day is not healthy, that's for sure," said Alexandr Leiner, a union leader. "And for the customers, it's almost unbearable as well."

Sure, it may sound frivolous, but if you've ever worked at a store that plays Christmas music the ENTIRE month of December, then you probably have similar thoughts. Nothing against Christmas music, but an entire month of it is tough to manage.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2003

Paul Sadler for State Senate

By Byron LaMasters

Here's the Filings for the State Senate District 1 special election. Former State Rep. Paul Sadler is the only Democrat in the race.

Update: For more on Sadler and how to help his campaign, read this post.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Show Me the Money

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

First let me say that it is votes that win elections. This post is simply a statement that money helps the previous sentence to become a reality for candidates. Consider the following comments from today's Chicago Tribune...

When Al Gore endorsed Dean's candidacy, supporters contributed $695,658.75. After a group of fellow Democrats aired attack ads, donors defended him by pledging $552,214.62. Even on Halloween, Dean admirers gave $354,891.48.....

The loose change accounts for only a sliver of Dean's record-setting Internet fundraising, which in a recent 17-day period generated nearly $3 million...

Dean's money has allowed him to launch a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in a half-dozen states and deploy workers to 18 more. Why devote such time and attention to a national effort while most candidates still are focused on January's contests in Iowa and New Hampshire? Because he can.

And then a few paragraphs down comes the following nugget (even after both Lieberman and Gephardt both reached half million dollar fundraising goals on their websites this past month).

Last week, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts lent $850,000 of his personal wealth to his campaign and prepared to take out a far larger loan against the value of his Boston home. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut urged his staff to voluntarily delay one of their January paychecks for a month. And Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri asked his top aides to cut their salaries so he could keep running television ads.

And the sad thing? Sharpton who has about zero money and doesn't even campaign as hard as these guys is leading them in South Carolina and other state polls in the South. So once he beats them, will the media write them off. Either that or Sharpton could become the coveted "anti-Dean".

That was a joke.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The NASA Before Christmas

By Jim Dallas

This year I will ask Santa to stop NASA public affairs agents from waxing poetic about astronomical events:

The presents are opened, the stockings askew.
Two pounds of turkey are inside of you.

Your eyelids are drooping. The sun's going down.
Christmas is over. But wait... what's that sound?

The neighbors. They're shouting, "Look to the west!"
Outside you dash, along with the rest.

The sky is as pink as Santa Claus' nose.
And right in the middle--two UFOs!

Could it be an invasion? Some creatures from space?
Now you're awake. Your heart starts to race.

Run back to the house. Pick up the phone.
9-1-1, 9-1-1! "They're coming," you moan.

The voice on the line says, "Sir, just relax."
"There's nothing to fear. Let me give you the facts."

"Those spaceships you see aren't spaceships, no, no."
"Astronomers say it's a harmless light show."

"One's a planet called Venus, as bright as can be."
"The other's the moon. Now do you see?"

So go tell your neighbors: everything is alright."
"Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good night."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on the Texas Ballot

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I was going to post something about the Democratic Texas Ballot yesterday but I see that Byron was thinking some of the same things. So far, filing for a spot as a 2004 Presidential Candidate are four people.

Howard Dean, who was first to file for the spot.
Joe Lieberman, who apparently fairs well in the few Texas polls I have seen but I'm not sure he will even survive to our March 9 Primary.
Lyndon LaRouche, Jr., who I believe we have already covered.


Randy Crow, who likes to spell some words with s's in them with $'s instead.

Frankly, with half of the candidates filing so far being, um, not entirely normal, I would quite like to see some of the candidates filed for the DC Primary try to get on our ballot. I think Vermin Supreme would really shake up the race.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 21, 2003

LaRouche on Texas Ballot

By Byron LaMasters


Perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, an economist making his eighth consecutive bid for the White House, has filed for a place on the Texas Democratic primary ballot.


After LaRouche filed Thursday, Texas Democratic Party spokesman Sean Michael Byrne said his name will appear on the March 9 ballot, but the party contends LaRouche isn't qualified to be the nominee because he is not a registered voter.

Byrne said LaRouche also will be ineligible to win delegates at the national convention because he is not qualified under the party's rules.

When will LaRouche stop? I received a call from his scheduler last year when LaRouche was planning a speech at UT and I was president of the University Democrats. He asked if we would be willing to sponsor the event. I politely told him that I'd get in touch with my officer board and call him back. I never called him back. I've always felt like the best strategy in dealing with LaRouche is to ignore him. Let him on the ballot, sure, but other than that, just ignore him. He's harmless as long as we don't give him any attention (which I guess I'm doing here... oh well).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kerry Throw's F-Bombs, Clark Says Shit

By Byron LaMasters

Well, John Kerry's using the F-word, and Wesley Clark said that he'll beat the shit out of anyone who questions his military record:

Moments after praising his opponents in the Democratic presidential race as worthy running mates, Wesley Clark said, in no uncertain terms, how he would respond if they or anyone else criticized his patriotism or military record.

"I'll beat the s--- out of them," Clark told a questioner as he walked through the crowd after a town hall meeting Saturday. "I hope that's not on television," he added.

It was, live, on C-SPAN.

Good for Clark. It's time that more Democrats get tough and don't take shit.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 19, 2003

The Bush Tax

By Byron LaMasters

Yeah, President Bush has cut federal income taxes, but with the vast amount of those cuts going to the wealthiest Americans, the burden has fallen on everyone else. Sure, the middle and working class federal income tax brackets were cut, but the effect of that was the raising of local property taxes and other taxes to make up for the budget shortfalls across the country. The net effect is a new tax on working families.

Learn more at Bush Tax.com (it's run by the Dean campaign).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:54 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Ashcroft DOJ Preclears Map

By Byron LaMasters

Well, I'm disappointed, but not surprised by this decision:

The Justice Department approved a GOP-backed congressional redistricting map for Texas today, leaving only the federal courts as the last barrier to holding elections next year under a plan pushed by Republicans.

The Justice Department found that the plan complies with the federal Voting Rights Act, which was passed by Congress to guard against changes in state laws that might harm minority voting rights.

In a letter to Texas Secretary of State Geoffrey S. Connor, the Justice Department wrote that "the attorney general does not interpose any objection" to the new congressional district boundaries set by the Legislature in October.

The letter, written by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sheldon T. Bradshaw, noted that even though the Justice Department found no reason to object, the redistricting plan still could be blocked by a federal court.

Obviously, I had hoped that the Justice Department would find that the map violated the Voting Rights Act, as I believe that it does, but John Ashcroft is the last person that would help Democrats in a redistricting fight.

Here's some reaction of Democrats via the Quorum Report:

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting:

"This highly partisan justice department puts political and partisan interests ahead of the interests of Texas voters. The political agenda at the DOJ obviously overruled the professional Voting Rights staff who would have thrown out this illegal redistricting power grab. It is no surprise that John Ashcroft's Department of Injustice has rubber stamped a map that cancels out the ballots of more than 3.6 million Texans after charging taxpayers $10 million for the privilege.

"The entire redistricting process has been corrupt from start to finish. Rick Perry's recent prediction that ‘a year from now, no one except political partisans are even going to remember redistricting’ may prove even more misguided than his failed leadership. More and more Texans are rebelling against the arrogance reflected in this legally flawed and morally unsound decision. Texas Democrats will never give up the fight to protect the rights of all Texas voters.

Martin Frost

"Until today, no Justice Department had ever approved a plan eliminating a majority-minority Congressional district. But the Bush Justice Department has made itself infamous by approving a plan to eliminate 2 majority-minority districts - disenfranchising over 400,000 Hispanics in the 23rd district and over 400,000 African Americans and Hispanics in the 24th district. Why? Because, as newspapers have documented, political operatives control the Bush Justice Department, and they chose to disenfranchise the minority voters the Justice Department is charged with protecting."

"In order to overlook clear retrogression in the 15th District, the Bush Justice Department also had to reverse itself on Hispanic voting strength in South Texas. That's because this new Congressional plan actually makes the 15th District less Hispanic than a nearby state House district rejected just two years ago by this same Justice Department.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett:

"I have never doubted that John Ashcroft would rubber-stamp Tom DeLay's political power-grab. That is why I am in South Texas for most of December, visiting old friends and meeting new ones. If the federal courts do not toss out this outrageous map, it is important that South Texans know that I can be as effective in representing them as I have been for my hometown."

Congressman Chet Edwards

"This is no surprise because everyone knew that John Ashcroft could not act impartially in this matter. This preclearance does not, in any way, stop the federal court from opposing the proposed map on the basis of violations of the Voting Rights Act.

Attorney General Ashcroft should be open and honest with the people of Texas and admit publicly whether he overturned recommendations from his non-political, professional staff. If Mr. Ashcroft isn't willing to provide that info to the public, then it is proof that he made a political decision, not a legal one."

Representatives Jim Dunnam and Garnet Coleman:

The federal courts will decide the fate of this unprecedented assault on minority voting rights, not Aschroft/DeLay Republican operatives in the Justice Department," said Rep. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco). "The Department of Justice made dubious history today when for the first time in its history it granted pre-clearance to a redistricting plan that actually eliminates minority congressional districts. In an effort to elect seven more Republican Congressman, the DOJ approved a map that will rob up to 3.6 million minority Texans of their voice in Congress. DOJ's opinion only address section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and is not binding on the federal courts. Objections raised by civil rights groups and Democrats in court under Section 2 of the act and the United States Constitution are not affected by the DOJ action."

Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News is talking up a potential race between Joe Barton and Martin Frost.

Here's a link to the Texas Democratic Party press release.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 18, 2003

Shock and Awe, Internet Style

By Jim Dallas

Strike fear in the hearts of evil-doers and vote for either legalized gay marriage or "civil unions" in this online poll by the American Family Association ("We're not anti-gay, we're just against the radical homosexual agenda!").

As of the moment, the options two (legalized marriage) and three (civil unions) hold a 53 percent combined-majority.

Thanks of course to Thumb on Atrios's Eschaton.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

NAACP: Remap Destroys Voting Rights Act

By Byron LaMasters

For the latest on the redistricting trial, check out my post over on the Yellow Dog Blog today.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 17, 2003

Texans in Court for Selling Vibrators

By Byron LaMasters

Well, it's certainly great to see our tax dollars hard at work cracking down on illicit vibrators, obviously a great threat to the moral fabric of our society:

A Texas housewife is in big trouble with the law for selling a vibrator to a pair of undercover cops, and the Brisbane vibrator company she works for says Texas is an "antiquated place'' with more than its share of "prudes.''

Joanne Webb, a former fifth-grade teacher and mother of three, was in a county court in Cleburne, Texas, on Monday to answer obscenity charges for selling the vibrator to undercover narcotics officers posing as a dysfunctional married couple in search of a sex aid.

Webb, a saleswoman for Passion Parties of Brisbane, faces a year in jail and a $4,000 fine if convicted.

"What I did was not obscene,'' Webb said. ""What's obscene is that the government is taking action about what we do in our bedrooms.''

The arrest of Webb in Cleburne, a small town 50 miles southwest of Dallas, was the first time that any of the company's 3,000 sales consultants have been busted, said Pat Davis, the president of Passion Parties. She said the company was outraged by the charges and stood behind Webb.

"It makes you wonder what they're thinking out there in Texas,'' Davis said. "They sound like prudes, with antiquated laws. They must have all their street crime under control in Texas if they're going to spend tax money arresting us.''

For the past year, Webb has sold the company's line of vibrators, gels, lubricants, strawberry-flavored nipple cream and "edible passion puddings.'' The merchandise is offered for sale in private, Tupperware-style parties to women who may be reluctant to visit an adult novelty store.

God save Texas. As I've said before, we may have nixed the sodomy laws post-Lawrence, but even so, Texas remains home to scores of stupid sex laws.

Via Atrios.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sing it, Doc!

By Jim Dallas

I remember saying something just like this to Byron on the phone last summer while I was waiting in line for the Bolivar Peninsula-Galveston Island ferry:

"I'm a firm proponent of Republicans getting the majority of seats in Texas," said Dr. John Alford, a political science professor at Rice University. "This goes beyond that ... into a territory where the nature of the system itself determines the outcome, rather than the will of the voters."

He said that the old map still in use – under which Republicans hold 15 of 32 seats – actually favors the GOP. Republicans could grab a majority of the seats, he predicted, if the party would campaign effectively against Democratic incumbents elected in districts with large numbers of crossover Republicans.

As much as I hate to say it, we'd be delusional to think that the Republicans don't have a slight edge in Texas right now. This much goes without saying.

And given that, all Texans deserve a redistricting map that allows the election of representatives who, you know, represent their views (which, admittedly, are often favorable to the Republican leadership).

And you know what? The court-ordered map that was put in place during 2001 allows that. A majority of the Texas delegation have conservative voting records (all 15 Republicans plus Charlie Stenholm and Ralph Hall have greater-than-50 percent scores from the American Conservative Union).

And there'd be even more solid conservatives in the Texas delegation if the people who voted for George W. Bush and Rick Perry voted against good Democrats like Max Sandlin, Chet Edwards, and Nick Lampson.

But they don't - and that is their right, to be represented.

We're Texas, by golly, and we don't need partisan extremists like Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick telling us how to vote.

But it gets worse --

Alford, who has analyzed voting trends since 1992 that show Texas becoming increasingly dominated by Republican voters, said that the court-drawn map currently in use strikes a balance between minority voting rights and the continuing GOP tide. But Texas Republicans are far from satisfied with the existing map because several entrenched Democrats continue to win Republican-leaning districts, in part because credible GOP candidates are reluctant to take on incumbents.


"I'm a firm proponent of Republicans getting a majority of the seats in Texas. I want them to win a majority," Alford said. "There are plenty of districts that Republicans could win if they simply did it the old-fashioned way," he said, referring to the current map.

Shorter Alford - "The Republicans re- redistricted because they were too lazy and incompetent to compete with Democrats."

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

Charles has all the gritty details.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:27 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

December 16, 2003

Oh boy...

By Jim Dallas

The next version of Microsoft Windows is code-named "Longhorn."

Where are UT's attorneys on this one?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 15, 2003

Perry Tales

By Byron LaMasters

What was the worst Perry Tale of 2003? Vote in the Texas Democratic Party's online Poll.

There's so many possibilities but the TDP folks narrowed your choices down to ten. Here they are:

  • Perry Spends $10 Million to Study Cow DNA During Budget Crisis

  • Perry Admits Republicans Unprepared to Lead on Education

  • Perry Wastes $10 Million on 3 Redistricting Special Sessions After Promising Not To

  • Perry Cuts Funding for G.I. Forum in Retaliation for Redistricting Protests

  • Perry Raises 'Tax on the Middle-Class' and Hikes State University Tuition

  • Perry Breaks Pledge and Imposes $2.7 Billion in Fines, Fees on Texans

  • Perry Parks in Handicapped Space While Filing Bush's Papers

  • Perry Considers Phil Gramm's 'Dead Peasant' Retired Teacher Insurance Proposal

  • Perry Uses Taxpayer Funded Non-Profit to Fundraise

  • Perry Has Disabled Activists Arrested Outside His Office

Tough choices, but good luck!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More on eSlate voting machines

By Jim Dallas

Travis County's voting machines, as noted previously, are very similar to those in Houston. Thus it's usually a good thing to pay heed to stories from the Bayou City.

The Houston Chronicle has a report today on a number of security issues that have been brought up by analysts.

While there are four areas of "high" risk, none of the failures seem particularly damning. Given that this is new technology, I am inclined to give officials the benefit of the doubt, although clear progress needs to be made towards rectifying these lapses.

The report doesn't address the one demand some activists have -- paper receipts.

As an aside, I did get a return call from Travis County voting guru Gail Fisher. She assured me that Travis County has a backup plan for the sort of snafus faced by some Houstonians in November.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:59 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 14, 2003

Statesman profiles Patrick Rose's district

By Jim Dallas


People here, like those across the state, are adjusting to a world in which spending on education, health care and dozens of other services has been slashed. And nearly four months into the new budget, residents and leaders scoff at lawmakers' promise that the state's spending plan would leave vital services intact and protect the neediest Texans.

"Anybody who drives the roads and meets the people in Blanco, Caldwell, Hays counties will disagree with that statement," said Rep. Patrick Rose, who represents the three counties and discounts the promise. The Dripping Springs Democrat unsuccessfully advocated higher spending on education and health care before backing the final budget he now criticizes.

What's happening here is happening across Texas. For 170 years, these counties have reflected nearly every great social and economic change in the state. They have told the story of Texas as vividly as any place can.

The story - along with photos - details the stories of many Central Texas residents who are bearing the human costs of "no new taxes."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:48 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Unconfirmed as of 0523 12/14/03: Saddam Hussein captured by US forces

Confirmed as of 0523 12/14/03: Andy Pettitte captured by Houston Astros

Unbelievable as of 0523 12/14/03: Heisman captured by Sooner QB White

Update (0639): Yup, we got Saddam.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:25 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

December 13, 2003

Central Texas Envisioned

By Jim Dallas

The Austin Chronicle has a story about the results of the Envision Central Texas survey, which asked local residents about their civic preferences vis-a-vis urban sprawl. There were over 12,000 responses.

I think I voted for option "C" (feeling that D was too radical and A and B too conservative) back when the survey was conducted, but surprisingly option "D" won in a landslide:

At the time, I reported the conventional wisdom that, while the status-quo Scenario A had no chance, neither did the most extreme alternative to it, Scenario D -- a vision built almost entirely on infill, redevelopment, and urban density. Instead, I and others thought, respondents would gravitate to Scenarios B (a "corridor plan" much like the ones we passed back in the 1970s and 1980s and then failed to follow) and C (focusing growth in new and existing towns, the way human beings used to do before they had cars).

How wrong I was. Scenario D -- the radical reversal of decades of Central Texas history -- got nearly 50% of the vote. Another 25% voted for C, which is more than A and B got combined. ("None of the above" got 10%.) Those are the results for the question asking which scenario would "provide the best overall quality of life." On other, more specific questions -- regarding transportation, land use, open space, and public investment -- Scenario D likewise reigned supreme, with two notable exceptions. Over the aquifer, ECT respondents wanted as little growth as possible, which was actually a vote for C rather than D. This was the outcome lobbied for by local greens, including the Save Our Springs Alliance, but as with most of the ECT survey findings, there's very little difference of opinion among the five counties in the metro area. So much for Austin being "out of touch" with the regional mainstream.

And as regards housing, C and D basically tied, in what ECT consultants John and Scott Fregonese call "a fairly nuanced response [that] shows a clear preference for the housing style of Scenario C with the land-use pattern of Scenario D." That means people still want single-family, owner-occupied housing, but in far more "urban" settings than they have been offered before. So much for the public voting with its wallets. (A point to consider when city leaders complain that urban neighborhoods will never accept this kind of density; what people really don't like are big, monolithic apartment complexes like, oh, the Villas on Guadalupe. Of course, any urban-core neighborhood leaders who object to density per se should likewise read the writing on the wall.)

That seems to be the rub -- everybody wants a house, but nobody wants to use the land necessary to build it on. Which is why I felt "C" was a decent compromise on that regard. Even if that means stuffing 100,000 people into Bastrop or Elgin, where presumably a lot of the new growth would occur under option "C."

(Scenario Summaries)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:59 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

La Prensa on Sen. Lucio, Doggett-Barrientos, etc.

By Jim Dallas

La Prensa is one of the special things about Austin. It's a free, advertiser-supported bilingual newspaper. Besides being a good summary of what's up in the Latino community (sometimes, the advertising is more telling than the editorial copy - which unfortunately needs a little bit more proofreading), it picked up the "Wheelchair Ninja" comic strip that used to run in The Daily Texan.

Bless 'em.

Any case, this week's edition leads off with a screaming headline about the possible primary battle between Rep. Lloyd Doggett and state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos. Particularly notable is that Barrientos' people bought up a big ad (it's in the inside pages) for the Senator. Which makes me think Sen. Barrientos is really in this.

(Although it's an ad for "state Senator Barrientos" not "Barrientos for Congress").

Perhaps Doggett's media people, whoever they may be, should be sure that they're in touch with community and alternative papers like La Prensa, El Norte, Nokoa, African American News & Issues, etc. The paper claims a combined readership of 50,000 (which is roughly equivalent to The Daily Texan).

Suffice it to say, if there is a battle, this isn't going to be the last GIGANTIC headline.

The story about the potential race doesn't shed any light, unfortunately. Although there is a nice little story about Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) filing for re-election...

(And of course, perennial Travis County commissioners' court candidate Mike Hanson has a huge ad in there too. Persistent with a capital P).

Now, back to the "Wheelchair Ninja"...

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Osama And Howard Dean

By Byron LaMasters

First it was the Club for Growth, now its Americans for Jobs, Healthcare and Progressive Values. Check out their ad with Osama and Dean. Who the heck are they?

Dean has his response, here.

I argued in a Kos Diaries thread earlier tonight that Dean shouldn't be coronated. A fight is good for Dean and good for Democrats. Here's what I wrote:

Ya know what? I'll disagree. I support Dean, but I don't want him coronated. I mean I want him to be able to have to go toe to toe with Gephardt or Clark or Kerry or Edwards or whoever for a few weeks before he secures the nomination. As much as we hate to see our guy get beat up on, you got to admit, in the long run, it's a good thing. Bill Bradley made Al Gore a stronger candidate. John McCain made George W. Bush a stronger candidate. A little adversity can make a candidate stronger. Obviously, I don't want to see Dean make any gaffes or mistakes that will hurt him in the general election, but I would like to see him be asked tough questions and be forced to defend his record. It will make him stronger.

Fine, but comparing Dean to Osama? Please. We can do better than that. Worse, is that the people behind this look to be folks working for Kerry and Gephardt. It's a shame to see it, but it's something that Dean will have to learn to fight off.

Update: My apologies to Jim. I guess we both saw this at about the same time. Look below for his take on this story.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:44 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

"Secrecy is not a Progressive Value"

By Jim Dallas

In the last few days, an organization billing itself as the "Americans for Jobs, Health Care, and Progressive Values" has put together $200,000+ worth of political hit jobs on Howard Dean.

The WaPo tells all:

SOME HARD-HITTING ADS have been running in Iowa. One compares former Vermont governor Howard Dean to President Bush, citing both men's "top grades" from the National Rifle Association. The latest notes that "Howard Dean and George Bush stood together and supported the unfair NAFTA trade agreement." At the end, the announcer intones, "So if you thought Howard Dean had a progressive record, check the facts. And please, think again." But it's not any of Mr. Dean's rivals who are seeking this reconsideration. nstead, it's a new entity that calls itself "Americans for Jobs, Healthcare and Progressive Values."

Values that don't include letting voters know who's footing the bill. The group has spent $230,000 for the first week of ads, but it won't say where the money is coming from. Under the out-of-sync reporting schedule that governs such groups, donors' names don't have to be revealed until early February, after the caucuses are safely over. Meanwhile, its identity is getting more and more mysterious: Early last week, its president was Timothy L. Raftis, a former aide to Sen. Tom Harkin; now, a new president has suddenly appeared on the group's Web site: former representative Edward Feighan (D-Ohio). The group's treasurer is fundraiser David Jones, who has worked for one of Mr. Dean's chief rivals, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri -- but suddenly, it has a new spokesman, John Kerry's former press secretary, Robert Gibbs, which might suggest, to the conspiracy-minded, an effort to deflect attention from a possible Gephardt connection. (The Gephardt campaign says it knows nothing about the group.)

So is the money from unions that back Mr. Gephardt but don't want to be publicly connected to this anti-Dean campaign? At least some such unions have been solicited. Or is it from a few wealthy donors who don't like Mr. Dean -- and perhaps are backing another one of the trailing Democratic candidates? From Republicans who want to take Mr. Dean down a few notches? There's no way for a voter in Iowa to know, not in time for that information to make a difference. The group could voluntarily disclose its backers before the legal deadline, but it won't. "The reason is that's what we've chosen to do. . . . We want to ensure that we have full disclosure rather than piecemeal," Mr. Raftis told us.

We've seen this kind of stealth group before. During the 2000 primary campaign, a mystery group calling itself "Republicans for Clean Air" suddenly appeared with more than $2 million in advertising supporting then-candidate George W. Bush. Brothers Charles and Sam Wyly, Dallas investors, came forward to claim responsibility, but their exploit underscored a dangerous loophole in the campaign finance system that allowed groups to avoid disclosing their activities unless they called explicitly for a candidate's election or defeat. Congress responded with a law requiring such groups to report their donations and expenditures. But it didn't think through the consequences of the reporting schedule it chose: Until the election year, groups are required to file reports only twice a year. (Disclosure is required if the groups run broadcast ads naming a candidate within 30 days of the caucus or primary, but even that rule doesn't apply to other forms of campaign activity, such as direct mail or phone calls.)

We don't really know who is doing this (and that's the problem), so it would be wrong to blame any other candidate -- or even he Republicans, although we know they're the ultimate beneficiaries.

Speak out! You can e-mail this group at info@progressivevalues.com. Tell them to stop hiding behind a wall of secrecy.

Moreover, when they put out ads like this one... well, regardless of which candidate you support, the only way to describe this is disgusting. At the very least because it implies that Bush knows something about foreign policy.

(Let's not kid ourselves -- a mentally-deficient chimpanzee would be a more effective leader than Bush is).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2003

A Day Which Will Live in Infamy

By Byron LaMasters

Three years ago, today: December 12, 2000.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Redistricting Trial Begins

By Byron LaMasters

The Houston Chronicle reports:

A three-judge federal panel Thursday declined to block a Republican-crafted congressional redistricting map and began a trial to determine the legality of the new districts.

Amid allegations of gerrymandering and minority voter discrimination, the trial could determine the partisan makeup of the Texas congressional delegation and influence control of the U.S. House.

So basically the judges refused to block the map without a trial, so we'll see what happens with the trial and with the Jusice Department.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 11, 2003

Jimmy Carter: Zell Miller's Betrayed Democrats

By Byron LaMasters

Right on, President Carter:

Former President Jimmy Carter says the appointment of Georgia's Zell Miller to the Senate was a mistake because his fellow ex-governor "betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared."

I'm all for diversity in the Democratic Party, but the big tent doesn't include people willing to support the most partisan right-wing Republican President of our generation. Good for Jimmy Carter to speak out.

Update: Yeah, I made it through my two exams today. One more on Saturday...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:08 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Garnet Coleman honored

By Jim Dallas

Didn't know about it until I picked up this week's Nokoa, but Common Cause gave Garnet an award for fighting for voting rights.

Congratulations, Rep. Coleman!

(No link, sorry)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tell Nader Not To Run

By Byron LaMasters


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 10, 2003

The So-Called Liberal Media Strikes Again

By Jim Dallas

Normally, I don't concern myself with what Kucinich is doing because I don't care. That is my prerogative as a voter and a human being.

Perhaps it's also within their rights for ABC to pull their "embedded reporter" from the Kucinich campaign at will, but they can't exactly claim to be objective when they do it.

I thought the voters picked the candidates, not the media networks... silly me.

Guess he was just too inconvenient.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Poll shows Texans souring on Bush

By Jim Dallas

Via DailyKOS poster ECH, the Scripps-Howard Texas Poll shows Bush's approval rating falling to 58 percent in Texas. While healthy, it does suggest that independent Texas voters are beginning to sour on the President.

The poll also shows vulnerabilities for Gov. Perry (who placed behind Sen. Hutchison in a hypothetical matchup in 2006) and House Speaker Craddick.

Among Democrats, the poll shows Gov. Dean with 16 percent, Gen. Clark with 14 percent, and Sen. Lieberman with 14 percent.

Poll internals are not available, yet.

Meanwhile, Bush filed for the Texas presidential primary (actually, Perry filed Bush's paperwork, but the two are like peas-and-carrots, so what's the difference?). The only major Democrat to file for the Texas primary, so far, has been Gov. Dean, whose campaign filed a week ago.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

Yeah, its that time of year. I probably won't be posting for a few days due to exams. I would assume that its a similar situation for Jim, Karl and Andrew. I'll be back and probably have a lot to say on a regular basis when exams end (for me Saturday). I'll plan on blogging regularly through the end of the month when I'll be going to L.A. for New Year's, then I'll be back in Texas until school starts back again in mid-January.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

More Fish

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I mentioned it not but a day or two ago.

And today I get an e-mail from the Edwards campaign about the very same thing. This one tells me that a copy of some letter I have sent has been forwarded to one of their departments. I'd like to know what letter it is because for the life of me I cannot remember writing one. If I hadn't gotten the e-mail from Clark, I would have thought it was just something that had gotten sent to Capitol Hill, that maybe I could see. But this is not the case.


Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2003

Good News: Green Leader Defeated in SF

By Byron LaMasters

I'm personally very happy to see Democrat Gavin Newsome defeat Green Matt Gonzalez for mayor of San Francisco. So what if Gonzalez was the more progressive candidate. He's a Green. And even if he might have been a better mayor than Newsome, he would become a national figure within the Green Party as their highest ranking elected official. Sure, he might be good for San Francisco, but his election would give him a base in which to run for Senate, Governor or President, where he could pull a Ralph Nader. I may sound vicious and unforgiving, but I'm honest. I believe that the main purpose of the Green Party is to help defeat Democrats and elect Republicans. Even in local races, Green successes serve to give them statewide candidates. Statewide successes (getting 5% of the vote in any statewide race in the previous cycle gets a party ballot access for their presidential candidate in Texas) helps Greens achieve national success. And national Green success (getting 5% of the popular vote) will give them millions of dollars in the next cycle to attack Democrats. Some liberal friends argue to me that it's harmless to support Greens in non-partisan races or in races in which Democrats do not contest. I disagree. While I'll happily work with Greens in coalition on some peace, labor, environmental and gay rights issues, etc., I'm unwilling to vote for Greens at any level. A vote for a Green at any level, in my opinion, is a vote to legitimize a party that dedicates itself to defeating Democrats and electing Republicans. Call me harsh, but it's a well-deserved rubuke. Ask Al Gore.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Another take on the Gore endorsement

By Jim Dallas

CNN's Morning Grind suggests that Gore's endorsement of Dean may go back to dealings the two had over six years ago --

So, how did this friendship and/or alliance develop? After all, wasn't it Dean who once openly entertained the notion of challenging Gore in '00?

Hmmm .... Gosh, it seems like just yesterday that ..... (Cue the flashback sequence effect) ....

Dean and then-VP Gore, both with darker hair and more of it, met at the White House on December 3, 1997, almost six years ago to the day, to discuss Dean's possible bid against Gore in 2000. Gore/Kerry strategist Michael Whouley confirmed in the book "Campaign for President: the Managers Look at 2000," that the purpose of the meeting was specifically to discuss Dean's aspirations.

Dean was in DC at the time for a Democratic Governors Association meeting and had been publicly mulling a bid for the White House. He had said he wouldn't make a decision about running until about February 1999. Dean met with Gore the following day in the White House, and not only told Gore that he was considering a run, but that he was definitely going to run for the nomination in 2000.

According to the AP's Ron Fournier, Gephardt tested his presidential campaign rhetoric with a speech that harshly criticized the administration's politics and policy. It deepened a rift between the White House and Gephardt, prompting Bill Clinton and the Missourian to seek peace in a late-night telephone call.

After smoothing things over with Gephardt, Clinton shared some political gossip: Dean had warned Gore that he was running for president. Word leaked out and Dean, fearing voter backlash at home, quickly told the AP: "I have not stated in any conversation with anyone that I'm going to run for the presidential nomination."

Dean's supporters say the governor, acting on the recommendation of his political team, met with Gore only to let the vice president know in person that he was considering a presidential race. But White House and Democratic officials in Washington said Dean left no doubt he was running.

About a month later, Dean announced on January 4, 1998 that he wouldn't run. "I'm not running," he said at his announcement. Dean said he had discussed the decision over the holidays with his family, and that his wife and kids were reluctant about a White House bid.

Dean eventually backed Gore over Bill Bradley on January 19, 2000, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and was immediately touted as a possible secretary of Health and Human Services in a Gore administration.

Which leads one to wonder if there was ever a "if I lose I'll back you in '04" deal ever cut. No evidence of that really, but it at least adds a little bit of texture to the biggest political story of the week (so far).

Generally, most analysis thus far of the endorsement has been either:

(A) What I would call the "naive" standpoint, Dean is the upstart outsider who must come and prostrate himself before the mighty Gore; or

(B) The "machiavellian" standpoint -- Gore is trying to bounce off of Dean to fuel a future bid.

While both of these may contain a grain of truth, it tends to overlook the possibility that Gore may simply owe Dean a favor, or even may have been impressed by Dean's influence as chair of the Democratic Governors Association (before this year, Dean was hardly a nobody, even if he was an outsider).

More likely (applying Occam's Razor), Gore just happens to like Dean and his campaign. Either way it's certainly a turnaround from 2000, when then-candidate Gore had to seek out the endorsement of Howard Dean (popular neighboring-state goveror) in order to just-barely beat Bill Bradley in New Hampshire.

If you add in Dean's support of Gephardt in '88, and this is a genuine menage a trois (or the ultimate game of Survivor)!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Googlism weighs in on George W. Bush

By Jim Dallas

Previously we brought you the story of the miserable failure incident, brought about by google-bombing.

But what does google's companion site, googlism.com, have to say about George W. Bush? Among the top twelve responses that make sense...

1. george w. bush is the official resident of...
7. george w. bush is a criminal and should be immediately held
8. george w. bush is a dictator
9. george w. bush is the turbanator
10. george w. bush is a monkey
12. george w. bush is not my president

Note that "george w. bush is the 43rd president of the united states" does not come up until you get pretty far down the list.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It Makes Sense

By Byron LaMasters

Why would Al Gore endorse Howard Dean?

It makes sense. It's really simple. Here's why.

I'd say that there's about a 90% chance that Howard Dean will win the Democratic nomination for President. Al Gore has been shut out of the Democratic establishment in Washington D.C. since his loss in 2000. Terry McAuliffe is a Clinton guy, as are most of the D.C. establishment types. Gore may be shut out in Washington D.C., but he has something else that is much more powerful. While he'll never be a hero to liberals, Al Gore brings about a feeling of nostalgia among Democrats of all stripes all across the country. We, along with the plurality of American voters, voted for him in 2000. We believe he should be our President today. He may have little sway in D.C. Democratic establishment circles, but Al Gore is an icon to the Democratic primary voters across America.

And this is the point. Al Gore may have been shut out of Washington D.C establishment, but he's smart enough to know that he has a following among the Democratic rank and file. And he's using it. Because unless Howard Dean manages to lose the Democratic nomination (something I see as highly unlikely) it's a win-win situation for Al Gore. Sure, he pisses off Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, etc., but that's irrelevent. If Dean beats Bush next November, Al Gore was the kingmaker. Heck, even if he doesn't he's the kingmaker and he'll get credit for Dean's nomination and people will pay attention when he speaks. If Dean wins, Gore can be wherever he wants. If he wants to be Secretary of State, or anything else, it's his. Then if Dean loses to Bush, Gore wins, too. Gore can inherit Dean's support and set himself up to be the Democratic nominee in 2008. Yeah, Hillary may run, and she'd be formidable, but by endorsing Dean, Gore gives himself a base that could counter Hillary's. The only downside for endorsing Dean is if Dean doesn't win the Democratic nomination, and that's very unlikely. Gore's a smart guy, and he's done what's in his best political interest.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Taking On Tom DeLay

By Byron LaMasters

Charles Kuffner has interviewed Richard Morrison, challenger to U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Sugarland). Take a look at the interview and make a donation to oust Tom DeLay in congressional district 22.

Update: Ok, Jim beat me to it, and I didn't even notice. Ehh. Oh well, you all get the message. Tom DeLay is evil. Richard Morrison is fighting evil. Charles Kuffner is helping him get the word out, and well we'll do our part to let our readers get the message, even if we have to repeat ourselves.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 08, 2003

Something Fishy in my E-mail

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

At first I thought it might be a random fluke. Last week, I received an e-mail from the John Kerry Campaign concerning his HIV/AIDS platform including links back to his website. The e-mail was an official campaign e-mail and I had to reply to opt out being added to their campaign. Now of course, I have visited his site before, but never have I signed up or asked for any material about HIV/AIDS. I wrote it off just as an oddball occurrence.

But today things changed. I got in my e-mail to the same address, official e-mails from the Dick Gephardt and Wesley Clark Campaigns concerning their stances on HIV/AIDS issues. The Gephardt e-mail makes it very clear that if I don't unsubscribe I will continue to receive e-mails, just like the Kerry one. The Clark one encourages me to explore their site and join but makes no mention of whether or not I am actually on their e-mail list now.

I am trying to figure out what is up here. Either some gay advocacy group has sold their e-mail distribution lists without my knowing, or these campaigns are running some software to gather e-mail addresses related to particular interest groups. In any case, I am not pleased if this is not an isolated case. I have not signed up for these campaigns and wonder how many of these campaigns "supporters" are involuntarily in their databases.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Off the Kuff interviews DeLay challenger

By Jim Dallas


Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Al Gore to Endorse Howard Dean

By Byron LaMasters


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Phil Gramm's Sales Pitch: "Your loss is our gain!"

By Jim Dallas

I meant to blog on this a while back, but it belongs in the "pure evil" category.

The short version: The Republicans want to save the retirement program they screwed up by putting a price on the head of each teacher in the state of Texas.

The long version: Well, just read about it here...

A plan by former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm to bail out Texas' teacher pension fund partly through retirees' deaths is criticized by some state pension administrators and officials of educators' unions who want to know how much of the money would go into the retirement program.

The plan, backed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, is similar to so-called "dead peasant" policies that have created legal and public-relations headaches in the private sector.

Gramm, now vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank in New York, has proposed to Texas officials that the state buy life insurance policies and annuities on thousands of retired teachers and cash in on them to close a $700 million funding gap. The plan was set in motion after a recent meeting between Gramm and Perry at the governor's mansion. Retirees would be told they were being insured, with the money going to the agency.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas, which provides pensions and health insurance for retirees, is in the red and needs to generate an additional $5.2 billion, through investment gains or increases in employee contributions, to cover all future retirees. Officials said the fund's health care portion has enough money to pay all claims during the current budget period but could face fiscal problems in the future.

At Perry's direction, his budget director, Mike Morrissey, and another aide have met in a series of private sessions with teacher fund administrators, state Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor, Securities Commissioner Denise Voigt Crawford and representatives of a retired teachers group.

A proposal briefly offered in the Legislature this year to authorize the state to buy life insurance policies on its retired employees without their knowledge, with the government collecting the death benefits, generated criticism from state employees and Rep. Ken Marchant, R-Coppell, pulled down his bill

Memo to 2006 Democratic Candidates: This is WRONG. This is an ISSUE. USE IT.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

John Kerry's Frustrated

By Byron LaMasters

Take a look at this:

Did you feel you were blindsided by Dean's success?

Well, not blindsided. I mean, when I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, "I'm against everything"? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did.

And thats not all. Kerry's making shit up in regards to poll numbers. I like John Kerry. He's a good Senator. But he failed on the Iraq vote. And he's failed to show leadership when we've needed it. Howard Dean has shown that leadership, and that's why he'll win the nomination. In a way I feel bad for John Kerry. As the Rolling Stone article demonstrates, he has the perfect profile to run for president. But he's failed to test of inspiring people that he can change the culture of Washington D.C. under President Bush. Howard Dean has.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 07, 2003

Don't Cry for Me Oklahoma

By Jim Dallas

Despite losing to K-State, Oklahoma finished 1st in the BCS rankings this year.

Although personally I think an LSU/USC matchup would have been more fun to watch.

In other news, despite being ahead of OSU in the polls, Texas slipped behind Ohio State to sixth place, based on some computer polls shafting the Longhorns. As widely expected, this was enough to get screwed out of a BCS bowl invite, and again Texas will go to the Holiday Bowl. Again. (Darnit).

The BCS is just plain evil... and Kuffner and Kevin Drum agree!

Don't cry for me Oklahoma,
The truth is you don't belong here
Your loss to K-State, made us irate
BCS hopes gone, maybe next year

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

First, Denial...

By Jim Dallas

As CalPundit notes, The Weekly Standard's David Gelernter has some really bad arguments in his piss-poor attempt to justify the exploding budget deficit.

Normally, I would simply ignore this rant, but instead (because I am hearing these bad arguments repeated by a lot of dittoheads) I am going to refute them all here so that I can ignore them later.

Now class, let us begin...

POINT:The assumptions beneath this question are all wrong. The looming deficit might or might not be important, but it has no moral implications of any kind.

COUNTERPOINT: The inner fundamentalist Christian in me tells me to refer you to Deuteronomy 15:6, and Deut. 28:12 ('thou shalt not borrow') and Proverbs 22:7 ('the borrower is servant to the lender.').

POINT:It would be nice if the deficit were smaller. Then again, borrowing money is, at base, a bet that you will be richer in the future than you are today. Will this nation continue — allowing for regular business-cycle fluctuations — to grow richer? We don't really know, anything could happen, who can say, no one can predict — waffle, waffle, waffle — and the answer is yes. So, it's hard to get too worked up over the deficit. Most Americans agree. Anyone who thinks that the deficit is hot news in the sushi bars and Thai restaurants of Middle America has not been paying attention.

COUNTERPOINT: This is the first of Gelernter's faulty analogies. It is true that borrowing once is a simple and relatively riskless bet on the future. However, the policy in question is, essentially, a perpetual deficit. Consider for example, the CBO projections showing deficits out as far as the eye can see, growing roughly in line with the gross domestic product. And the simple fact is you cannot grow yourself out of a hole that is getting deeper at the same rate.

The claim borders on a straw man, because it conflates one deficit with the Bush administration's policy of perpetual deficits.

POINT:Lower taxes were a reasonable response to a slow economy. Higher military spending was the only possible response to 9/11. Together, they produced a fiscal climate that was bound to cause deficit problems.Today the deficit and the economy have both roared back. This year's deficit might be something like $500 billion. The quarter ending in September saw the fastest economic growth in 20 years; job creation also seems to be picking up.

COUNTERPOINT: So I suppose now that the economy is starting to recover that we can expect the President to propose a "reasonable" increase in taxes?

If the Republicans were trying to be real Keynesians (as opposed to simply trying to bribe voters with tax cuts), they might understand that "leaning-against-the-wind" is a "double-edged sword" (forgive me for mixing metaphors).

POINT:Let's look at the basic nature of deficits. (Don't worry, I'm no economist.) Some people say the administration, by running up the national debt, is saddling "our children" with our expenses. But if I take out a 20-year mortgage on my house, that doesn't mean I'm inflicting my debts on my children or the "next generation." Nor does it mean (although many people would once have interpreted it to mean) that morally I am a weak character. Borrowing money is a practical decision with no intrinsic moral implications. Deficits and household mortgages are not the same. Neither are they wholly different. Twenty years from now, the adult population of America will be mostly the same as it is today. Granted, when a nation borrows, some of the eventual payers-off will not have been around when the original charges were incurred. But that doesn't mean they won't benefit from the long-ago loan.

COUNTERPOINT:When you take out a mortgage on your house, you pay for it over a fixed mortgage period. When the country is forced to issue public debt, future taxpayers (this includes your children, obviously) pay for it, in practice however long it takes to get the debt paid off.

No matter how you spin it, a budget deficit saddles future taxpayers. The more important question (which Gelernter hints at) is whether or not borrowing (the means) is justified by the ends. Which leads us too...

POINT:Had we chosen not to overthrow tyrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, the deficit would almost certainly be no big deal today. Overthrowing tyrants is a gift that keeps giving. Howard Dean's grandchildren will bless George W. Bush. And if future generations wind up paying part of the tab, I doubt they will whine. More likely they will thank us, and write books about what a great generation we were.

COUNTERPOINT: Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch (honestly, snark fails me)! At any rate, you cannot justify the entire deficit on the grounds that part of it paid for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is not a moral claim; it's a mathematical fact. Of the current deficit, about a half of it springs from reduced revenue. Another quarter comes from increases in non-defense spending. Less than a fourth of it has anything to do with the "Global War on Terrorism."

Moreover, this gets into the more fundamental question of ends and means posed earlier. Deficit spending is not the only way to finance wars; we could have just as easily collected a war tax to finance them.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."

POINT:Bush could have tried to cut discretionary domestic spending, and hasn't. Instead, he has signed lots of pork into law and wants to sign more. That's the American way. It's not a part of the American way I'm proud of, but I don't know how to fix it. Somehow I'm not absolutely certain the Democrats do either. If they have a solution, let's hear it.

COUNTERPOINT: In short, Gelernter concedes here that the President has been larding up the budget with pork and allowing the deficit to explode. That's really about all you need to know.

POINT:Yet suppose that, some time over the last few years, Congress had reared up on its hind trotters and announced: We must cut spending, or cancel some tax cuts, or raise taxes in some other way, because otherwise deficits are going to the moon. Most likely the American public would have yawned — and would have added, by way of explanation: "Listen. On a percentage-of-GDP basis, we're looking at deficits that might rival what we saw in 1983, the worst deficit year since the end of World War II. But what followed 1983? A strong and sustained economic boom, and in percentage terms, lower deficits. So, what's your problem?"

COUNTERPOINT: The "problem" is that the deficits of the 1980s caused interest rates to soar in the latter half of that decade, slowing growth and causing a recession. Unchecked, it might have caused a full-blown crisis. And yet even then, America was not faced with having to figure out how to keep Social Security solvent.

POINT:And what about that famous Clinton surplus, that "legacy" we have blown? Legacy, hell. A federal government that is running a surplus is holding us up, strong-arming the nation. Suppose you were in the habit of handing someone money to buy you pizza. If you handed him too much ("Here's $20, get me a medium with mushrooms"), you'd expect him to hand you the change back. Should he announce casually one evening, "By the way, I'm running a surplus," you might want to know why. Should he explain that he's got a few thousand of your dollars in his back pocket, having decided (in his wisdom) to set them aside for you instead of returning them, lest you blow the money on something stupid instead of more pizza … he'd be out of a job. The federal government is our agent. We give it tax money so it can operate the nation. If we hand it too much and it keeps the change instead of returning it — runs a surplus, builds a national "legacy" — it is acting like an officious, well-meaning crook. This is what John O'Sullivan, former editor of National Review, calls "Olympian" liberalism. We never asked the government to please hold some of our money lest we run out and waste it. It is ours to waste. On moral grounds, budget surpluses are far more likely to pose problems than deficits.

COUNTERPOINT: Probably the dumbest statement in the entire article, Gelernter conveniently forgets that despite the budget surplus of the 1990s, the country still maintained a multi-trillion dollar deficit. If a pizza guy pocketed a dollar on your $20 pizza each time he delivered, it might be excusable if, say, you already owed him $1000 for smashing his car a week ago. Comprende?

Just as the surplus represents the "people's money", the public debt represents the people's obligations, with interest.

POINT:Nowadays, whenever we see Democratic caucus or primary campaigns on TV, we seem always to have tuned in the Bugs Bunny version by accident. You expect each distinguished candidate in turn to step up to the mike and launch a furious attack on the president that soars higher and higher into the pristine upper reaches of rage until he goes straight into orbit (shaking his fists and sputtering) and is never heard from again. (Next candidate, please?)

COUNPOINT: Fairly obvious ad hominem. Gets us nowhere. I only mention it because I think it's funny.

POINT:But on the deficit issue we get a break, and we deserve one. There is nothing ignoble or intrinsically wrong in the Democratic idea that we should raise our taxes for the long-term good of the nation. But worrying about the long-term consequences of today's economic decisions is like worrying about the long-term consequences of spitting into the Atlantic. Yes, there are consequences, but ultimately they depend on all sorts of things that have yet to happen, and we are in no position to calculate them. I am not opposed to long-term economic planning; it's just that history makes clear that there is no such thing.

COUNTERPOINT: In the words of the inimitable Kevin Drum, "[t]he frightening thing is that I suspect Gelernter speaks for a lot of Republicans these days. Long term planning? Bah. It's for wimps. Let's just stick our heads in the sand and get reelected instead."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

District 25 Musical Chairs

By Jim Dallas

Ken Herman of the Austin-American Statesman wrote on Friday:

Kino's out. Gonzo's close to getting in.

The moves by state Rep. Kino Flores and state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos put a new face on U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett's effort to remain in Congress.

Flores, D-Mission, who got in the Democratic primary race in October, said Thursday that he is out. No money, Flores said, adding that it would be a disgrace if Doggett wound up representing a new, heavily Hispanic district that stretches from Austin to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Barrientos, D-Austin, said Thursday that he is "leaning toward running because I have gotten calls from different organizations and different lobby groups saying they would support me and put up money."

Doggett said he would consider Barrientos' entry into the race a surprising development.

"It would be ironic and then some if there were those who fought so hard against (U.S. House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay's plans to divide and pit us against each other were out trying to deny my re-election," Doggett said.

Not every Austin Democrat has always been pleased with Doggett; it's often argued that he spends too much time in Washington and doesn't support the local party organization enough. Until redistricting, there really wasn't any reason, since his was a safe seat.

I had some compunctions about supporting Doggett in a district that is going to be dominated by South Texas, since they've got at least as much of a right to have a "hometown" congressman as Austin does. When Kino Flores was the prospective challenger, I was inclined to consider voting for him.

I don't particularly like the idea of Gonzalo Barrientos running, though. While on one hand, Sen. Barrientos has been extremely supportive of local Democratic organizations, I just don't see what he'd bring to the table, professionally and geographically speaking, that Doggett doesn't.

(I am excepting the obvious fact that Gonzalo would be the latino candidate in a latino-majority district).

At any rate, a Barrientos-Doggett fight could be just about the most polarizing thing to happen in Austin politics in a long time.

It is possible, though, that there could be another challenger from the Valley -- State District Judge Leticia Hinojosa, of Edinburg.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No apologies

By Jim Dallas

The White House is launching an attack on Sen. John Kerry because he used the f-word in an interview:

In a rare White House rebuke of a Democratic presidential candidate, chief of staff Andrew Card called on U.S. Sen. John Kerry on Sunday to apologize for using a four-letter expletive in an interview lambasting President Bush's Iraq policy.

Kerry was quoted by Rolling Stone magazine as saying, "Did I expect George Bush to f..k it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did."

Card criticized Kerry for the using the expletive.

"I've known John Kerry for a long time and I'm very disappointed that he would use that kind of language," Card said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"That's beneath John Kerry. ... I'm hoping that he's apologizing, at least to himself, because that's not the John Kerry that I know," Card added.

Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter scoffed at the suggestion the senator apologize.

"I could think of a lot of words to add to the one John Kerry used that would be equally appropriate," she said.

"I think the American people would rather Card and the rest of the White House staff spend more time on fixing Bush's flawed policy in Iraq than on Senator Kerry's language."

I for one feel there aren't enough expletives to describe just how badly things are going in Iraq.

But at the very least, it ought to show you where the President's priorities lie. In the words of Kyle's Mom in the South Park movie, "Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words!"

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

A Mandate for Bill White

By Byron LaMasters

This post is mostly to just annoy Owen, but you can't really look at this any other way. Bill White won with 63% of the vote. He has a mandate to lead Houston. Also, Annise Parker won with 62% of the vote for Controller. While our own lesbian Sheriff (Margo Fraiser) may be retiring (and it's a bragging right. I always love to tell people that our sheriff in Travis County is a lesbian), it's good to see a lesbian get elected to the #2 position in Houston. Who would have thought 10 or 20 years ago that a gay person could win 62% of the vote in a city race in the largest city in Texas? It says a lot. Good news also in the At-Large 4 race where Ronald Green beat incumbent Republican Bert Keller with 53% of the vote. The only bad news is that Democrat Peter Brown lost to Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (52%) in the At-Large 3 race. Regardless, Democrats took 3 of the 4 big races, so I'll take that as a victory.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 06, 2003

Run, Katherine, Run!

By Byron LaMasters

A poll out this week shows that Katherine Harris has a double digit lead in a race for the GOP Senate nomination in Florida. The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Harris was the choice of 29 percent of Republican voters. Former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum of Altamonte Springs, the GOP's Senate nominee in 2000, was second at 15 percent. U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, who is expected to enter the race as soon as next week, scored third at 11 percent.

Former State Education Commissioner Betty Castor leads Democrats:

Castor's first-place showing is consistent with previous polls in the race. In the latest survey, she received 28 percent, ahead of U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch of Fort Lauderdale with 17 percent and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas with 15 percent.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

White, Parker Win in Landslides

By Byron LaMasters

I know that all we have is early vote totals, but these two races are over. We all know that Republicans are more likely to vote absentee, and minorities are more likely to vote on election day. With that in mind, there's no reason to think that White's 61-39% lead and Parker's 59-41% lead will result in anything short of a landslide.

Update: The Houston Chronicle has called it. Meet Mayor White.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Travis County Sheriff to retire

By Jim Dallas

Margo Frasier is out.

Frasier's chosen successor, Greg Hamilton, will file for the Democratic Primary soon. So far, three candidates (two Democrats, one Republican) have filed for the seat, which may be one of the toughest county-wide office for Democrats to hold next year.

(Be prepared to pound the pavement).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2003

Planned Parenthood Fights Back

By Byron LaMasters

The Austin Chronicle has a good article this week on Planned Parenthood's fight to build a clinic in South Austin. While anti-choice activists won a temporary victory a month ago in forcing subcontractors to boycott of the construction, Planned Parenthood is back on their feet. Not only have subcontracters from all over called the Planned Parenthood offices to offer their services, but Planned Parenthood has proceeded as their own contractor. Planned Parenthood has also exceeded its 2003 fundraising goals by a large margin, with more contributions pouring in daily from across the country. Anyway, read the article for more.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On the Web

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Some random updates and commentary from out there on the World Wide Web...

Though it isn't from Dave McNeely's Blog, his latest column has an interesting tidbit instead. (I sat in on this interview the other day and waited for it to show up in print.)

It's a stark departure from the tactics of the past, depending on television ads and targeted direct mail aimed at known voters. And it's attracting new people. Of the 15,000 signed up for Dean in Travis County, for instance, 52 percent did not vote in the last three Democratic primary elections.

Eighty percent attending a Dallas meeting said they had never been political organizers before because they'd never been asked.

And that last bit about the Dallas meeting (with Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi) is quite true. While there were some seasoned political veterans, most of the people were getting involved in their very first campaign or came back after 30 years of inaction.

And while this next tidbit is quite old, I have been waiting for someone to report it.

Black leaders largely dismissed the flap over Dean's comment about appealing to whites with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks, saying he has won some admiration in the black community for his willingness to speak out.

I made the comment a while back that the whole issue was blown up by those that had the most to gain- other white presidential candidates. If you look at Dean's negatives in polls, they didn't sustain any major increase after it either, leading me to believe that everyone wanted to talk about it, but no one really cared all that much. (besides those that had something to gain or hate Dean anyways)

And my last sighting, which Byron might have more to actually comment on...

Longtime state Rep. Steve Wolens, half of a high-profile husband-wife political team, said Wednesday that he will not seek re-election next year.

"It's time for a new adventure," said Wolens, D-Dallas and husband of Dallas Mayor Laura Miller.

Wolens, a House member since 1981, declined to speculate about what the next adventure might be.

"We'll see," he said, declining to rule out future races. "I love public service, and I love the Legislature."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Ideas, Re-Election Ploys

By Byron LaMasters

If Bush were serious about these ideas, I might just have an ounce of respect for the man. They're all just re-election ploys:

President Bush's aides are considering a new lunar exploration program and other unifying national goals like a campaign to promote longevity or fight childhood illness or hunger, as they sift ideas for a fresh agenda for the final year of his term, administration officials said Thursday.

And we'll pay for it with what? The tax cuts? Heck, I'd love to see more money pumped into the space program or fighting hunger, but untill we repeal Bush's tax cuts and end our neocon foreign policy there's no chance. I wonder what the libertarians / budget hawks think about it?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:28 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

White, Parker Poised to win Landslide Victories in Houston

By Byron LaMasters

White leads Sanchez 53-35% for mayor, Parker leads Tatro 46-26% for Controller. Can White top 60%? We'll know tomorrow night...

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Houston businessman Bill White holds a commanding lead over former City Councilman Orlando Sanchez as they head into Saturday's mayoral runoff, according to a Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV poll.

City Councilwoman Annise Parker has a big lead over Councilman Bruce Tatro for city controller.


White has substantial support among all ethnic and partisan groups, including most of the African-American voters who supported state Rep. Sylvester Turner before he was eliminated in the first round of voting Nov. 4.

Sanchez's coalition of white Republicans and Hispanics has not held as strong as it did in 2001, when he lost a narrow runoff to Mayor Lee Brown, prohibited by city term limits from seeking re-election this year.

White narrowly led Sanchez in the Nov. 4 voting, 38 percent to 33 percent. Going into the runoff, White has a 53 percent to 35 percent lead, the poll shows, with 12 percent undecided.

For White to lose would take some sudden revelation about his background damaging enough to turn away his supporters, said University of Houston pollster and political scientist Richard Murray.

The Sanchez campaign had no such revelations Thursday, and negative bullets he fired previously mostly have turned out to be blanks.

"It looks like Bill White won this race in August and September, when he was moving steadily ahead and removed the presumption that Sanchez was the front-runner," Murray said. "Once it seemed inevitable that White would be in the runoff, the race was virtually over."

The story of the 2003 campaign is White's ability to bring together various factions of the city, said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein, who conducted the poll with Murray.

He splits the white vote with Sanchez, the poll shows, and gets 75 percent of the black vote compared with 6 percent for Sanchez.

Sanchez has support from 55 percent of Hispanic poll respondents and 71 percent of Republicans.

But in 2001, Sanchez drew 72 percent of the Hispanic vote and more than 90 percent of the Republican vote when he lost to Lee Brown with 48 percent of the total vote.

"What this means is that if he wins, as he should, Bill White will have support from all groups, which should minimize attacks at the council table," Stein said. "This should help him govern."

Murray said that White's support among African-Americans swings the race strongly to his favor. Of those who voted for Turner Nov. 4, 76 percent now say they support White, compared with 4 percent for Sanchez.

Turner, a black Democrat, has not endorsed a candidate in the runoff. But almost all other black elected officials in Houston support White, including Mayor Brown, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee.

Sanchez started campaigning in black communities during the runoff campaign, after mostly bypassing those neighborhoods in 2001 and in the first-round campaign this year.

"The African-American bloc is what is going to make the biggest difference in this runoff," Murray said.

In the controller race, Parker, who is term-limited in her at-large council seat, has a 46 percent to 26 percent lead over Tatro, a term-limited district council member from northwest Houston.

The winner will replace Judy Gray Johnson, appointed by the City Council to fill the unexpired term of Sylvia Garcia when Garcia was elected a Harris County commissioner. Gray did not seek election to the office, which oversees city finances.

Parker leads among all ethnic groups, Democrats and independents. She picked up most of those who supported four other candidates she and Tatro eliminated Nov. 4.

Tatro holds a 2-1 lead among Republicans.

Certainly good news, here. No surprise, though. It's been conventional wisdom for the last several months that White and Parker have built the types of White Democratic and Independent, Black and Hispanic coalitions to win city elections in Houston. It's interesting to see that Sanchez only has a bare majority of the Hispanic vote and only 71% of Republicans. This race has been over for awhile now.

I'll also be looking to see if Peter Brown and Ronald Green can pull out their At-Large races. If so, Democrats could pull off a clean sweep in the run-offs tomorrow.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 04, 2003

Dave McNeely has a Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Good news. Austin American Statesman columnist Dave McNeely has a blog.

Via Off the Kuff.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bloggers Unite: George W. Bush Is A Miserable Failure

By Byron LaMasters

It works. Bush rewrites history. We can make it. Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard has a great idea. Call George W. Bush a miserable failure every day. Blah 3 was in on the idea as well. Why, you ask?

Check out Google.com. What's the number one search subject for miserable failure? Why! It's the White House biography of George W. Bush.

I'll do my part to keep it there.

Miserable Failure Miserable Failure Miserable Failure Miserable Failure Miserable Failure Miserable Failure

Via Political Wire.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Haiku Thursdays (12/4/2003)

By Jim Dallas

Eighteen Eighty Nine,
Indian Territory:
FLAG - False Start, Five Yards.


(Thanks to the folks over at Sports Illustrated On Campus for providing the source material for the joke).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spitzer for VP?

By Andrew Dobbs

Mark Shields, liberal columnist and moderator of The Capital Gang has a very interesting column this week, suggesting that the eventual Democratic nominee choose New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as their running mate.

If the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004 dares to go macro, then his running mate could be the one public man who has shown the guts, the brains and the will to take on the Class War Criminals who have fleeced millions of Mom and Pop investors.

He has exposed the secretive and sleazy practices of Wall Street investment houses and the sleazy and secretive practices of major mutual fund companies. With manifest courage, he has time and again taken on the richest, the most influential and the most politically connected white men in America.

It could be said of him, as Gen. Edward Bragg said in nominating President Grover Cleveland, " (T)hey love him most for the enemies he has made."

To run for national leadership, you should first have a compelling personal story to tell. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, 44, has one great story.

He has been the lone cop on the beat, the Sheriff of Wall Street.

While Spitzer is a rising star in the party having already been featured in a cover story in The New Republic and touted by every body from here to kingdom come as a great leader, he needs a few more notches on his belt before seeking national office. As his site implies, he is almost certain to be a candidate for Governor in 2006 when George Pataki has said he will step down. Unfortunately his opponent is likely to be Rudy Giuliani, one of the few politicians in the state more popular than the AG (Spitzer recieved more votes than any other candidate statewide in 2002- even more than Pataki). Still, he has a fighting chance and if Giuliani doesn't run the election is his to lose. If he is elected to the Governor's office in 2006 and reelected in 2010 he could easily run for President or VP in 2012. He'd make a good one.

The problem with him running this year, in addition to his relative obscurity, is that he won't work with the probable candidates. If the nominee is Dean (as is increasingly likely) another Northeasterner with no foreign policy experience is dead in the water. Furthermore, Spitzer has been publicly critical of Dean, saying that he's unelectable yada yada yada. Kerry has the same regional problem but Clark or Gephardt could probably work with him. I doubt he'd be chosen, but the mere mention of his name for the position by a man with a big stage to speak from is an indication of where this guy is going.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 06:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Dean Developments

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From the Washington Post

A former Clinton Cabinet secretary is expected to endorse Dean this week, and one friend of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said the former first lady sounds increasingly intrigued by Dean. Clinton did not want to discuss her relationship with the candidates, her spokesman said.

Now I have no idea about who this Clinton Cabinet Secretary is but I do find something interesting about Clinton.

First off, she is randomly coming to Texas for two book signings, one in Dallas, the other here in Austin. But I find the timing interesting. Her Dallas one is on the same day that Dean will be in Dallas for his fundraiser. In Austin, she is meeting some select people including upper level Dean Organizers that "the Senator is looking forward to see." Now I thought that was a bunch of nothing until I saw that WashPost article which gives it all just enough oomph to be politically juicy enough to post about.

I will be interested to see where this leads.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 03, 2003

Pelosi Blocks Effort to Lend House Support to Quash DeLay's Supoena

By Byron LaMasters

Score one for Pelosi!

From National Journal's CongressDaily (sent via email, link not available):

Tensions Flare Over DeLay Subpoena In Texas Remap Case

Following extensive discussions last weekend among senior House lawyers, Minority Leader Pelosi rejected a Republican-backed effort to have the bipartisan House leadership support Majority Leader DeLay's effort to quash subpoenas issued to him and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, as part of the Texas Democrats' federal court challenge to that state's new redistricting plan. Although Pelosi supports the legal principle that House members can only be subpoenaed in "exceptional or extraordinary circumstances," her spokesman said today, "Mr. DeLay's pervasive, controlling and time-consuming involvement in the Texas redistricting process appears to provide such circumstances." With DeLay having recused himself, the House's five-member bipartisan legal advisory group consequently was unable to reach majority agreement to submit a brief on the issue. But the three federal judges handling the Texas case issued a ruling late Monday that essentially backed the position that advisory group members had discussed. The behind-the-scenes maneuvering provides further evidence of how the Texas redistricting case has poisoned relations between the two parties at the highest levels of the House.

In support of the GOP view that DeLay and Barton should not be compelled to testify, they cited a filing that the same advisory group -- including DeLay and Pelosi -- submitted on behalf of California Democrats in March 2002 in a federal lawsuit challenging that state's new redistricting lines; coincidentally, Pelosi played an active role with other House members in reaching the bipartisan agreement in Sacramento. In that case, private parties sought to subpoena Democratic Reps. Howard Berman, Bob Filner and Brad Sherman. But lawyers for the three Democrats and for House leaders at the time cited numerous precedents that members should not be compelled to respond to a deposition except in "exceptional circumstances," and the court agreed. When Texas Democrats sought the GOP testimony in the current redistricting case, which several of them have joined as plaintiffs, they contended that DeLay's active role in preparing the map made his testimony essential. "Tom DeLay is the instigator, author and enforcer of the proposed map. But he's scared to describe under oath his unprecedented actions," said a spokesman for Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas. "It's ludicrous to hide behind precedent when he has created a new kind of partisan warfare."

Although the advisory group could not reach agreement on submitting what would have been a similar brief in the current case, the Texas court cited the House leaders' earlier brief to the California court -- which GOP lawyers had submitted in the current case -- in concluding that "exceptional circumstances" had not been proved to warrant the depositions of DeLay and Barton. Citing that ruling, DeLay's spokesman today said, "Martin Frost and his lawyer have determined they are willing to destroy Tom DeLay and destroy the House to win on redistricting. We won't help them." -- by Richard E. Cohen

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yeah, Texas is Crazy

By Byron LaMasters

Today's Amarillo Globe News printed a letter to the editor calling for death for war protesters:

I am a United States sailor. I have chosen to defend my country and the freedom some take for granted. I love my country, my family, my freedom. Only by the blood which was shed by the service members before me did we receive this freedom.

There are some, though, who do not appreciate this freedom. I call these people traitors; they call themselves protesters. They are nothing more than an infectious disease that infests the minds and hearts of the Americans we are defending. It consumes the honor and courage within its host until it kills the very patriotism that made this country.

There is no cure for this disease. Never will everyone be satisfied. But let it be known what this guardian of America's freedom thinks of these protesters: Traitors should be hanged. I hold our enemies in higher standing. At least they are willing to fight for their beliefs and the country they love.

Sonar Technician

Derik L.Jobe

U.S. Navy


I'm all for freedom of speech. But geez, you'd think that any newspaper with any sense of decency would show some restraint in printing letters that call for the execution of American citizens peacefully, legally objecting to the actions taken by their government.

Via Atrios.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Bush Job Program

By Jim Dallas


The Onion has the scoop (link courtesy of Kicking Ass).

And for those of you who want to show your appreciation for the President's efforts in creating quality $7/hour McJobs (after all, people losing $50,000 a year manufacturing and tech jobs have to do something!), the Burnt Orange Report is pleased to give you the official "Fast Food Drive-Thru Employees for Bush-Cheney" button, created by me (with apologies to the McDonalds Corporation and the DailyKOS reader who coined the "Billions of Whoppers" slogan).

(As a former drive-thru employee, I will not be supporting the President, but I understand some of my comrades might).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:34 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Dean's Not Just Smart... He's Unbelievable

By Andrew Dobbs

Byron posted yesterday about Dean's fundraising push for Congressman Leonard Boswell's reelection campaign. The Dean people sent out an email message to their list asking for campaign contributions for Congressman Boswell- Iowa's only congressional Democrat. That push, at least on the blog, went up at 3:41 in the afternoon. At 12:03 AM this morning- a mere eight hours and twenty two minutes later, we hear this from the Dean Blog:

The Boswell campaign informs us that as of midnight Dean supporters have raised over $30,000 for the campaign. Keep spreading the word that the campaign you have built plans to take back the Congress when we elect Howard Dean next year.

$30,000 in 8 hours for a congressional race in Iowa. That is unbelievable. Most of these people probably never heard of Leonard Boswell, but if Joe Trippi asks them to send money somewhere, they send it. Everyone who says that Dean is unelectable ought to look at this. He can not only be elected, he can get a shitload of Democrats elected with him. $30,000 is a lot of money in a congressional race and thats just yesterday, let's see how much there is by the end of the week.

Dean is changing politics in America everyday and even if he somehow loses the nomination and even if he ends up coming short in November, his impact will be felt for years and years to come.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

Hillary Coming to Austin Friday

By Byron LaMasters

Get a signed copy of her book, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Anti-Choice Activists to Rally in Austin Tonight

By Byron LaMasters

From a flier on campus:

"Austin City-wide Rally for Life: Uniting to oppose the building of the Planned Parenthood Abortion Facility.

Tuesday, December 2, from 7-9 PM, Doubletree Hotel, I.H. 35 & 290

Featuring Chris Danze, organizer of the Austin Contractor boycott that gained national attention by halting construction on the local $6.2 Million Planned Parenthood abortion facility, along with other dynamic pro-Life speakers, testimonials, and more.

Coalition for Life; 3300 Bee Caves Road, Suite 650; P.O. Box 183; Austin, Texas 78746 www.CoalitionForLife.com"

Will any pro-Choice activists be there? I hope so!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dean's Just Smart

By Byron LaMasters

This is just smart, and again shows why Dean's going to win the nomination. Boswell might not endorse Dean, but he certainly won't endorse anyone else. Dean is the only candidate that has the resources to basically start buying endorsements by asking his supporters to give to the campaigns of congressmen and others. It's a brilliant idea. It helps Dean and it helps us prepare to take back congress.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Stupid Sex Laws

By Byron LaMasters

Just when we thought that we were done with stupid sex laws in post-Lawrence America, stuff like this pops up:

News reports of scandalous affairs between teachers and students caught the attention of state Rep. Helen Giddings, who researched the Texas penal code and noticed what she thought was a loophole.

The law forbidding sexual contact between an adult and a child stopped after age 16. To the Dallas Democrat, it did not seem right to let 17-year-olds go unprotected, at least in school. So she sponsored a bill during the last legislative session to change the law, making sexual conduct by a teacher with anyone 17 its own offense.

Ok, well I've got no problem with that, but so it seems that all bills get amended, and this bill was no exception:

As often happens in the Legislature, no simple idea can go unmolested. Other legislators amended Giddings' proposal to make sexual contact with a high school or grade school student of any age punishable by up to 20 years in prison, doubling the sentence for indecency with a child.

The resulting new law is typical of a ceaseless stream of bills in recent years that have increased sentences for particular crimes and which are slowly strangling the penal code, once ranked as the best in the nation, experts say.


"I think it's a good example of good intentions that go bad," Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said about Giddings' bill.

The proper course, he said, would have been to "find a way to make sure it fits in with the current way the penal code is written and try to avoid creating a new crime tailored to a very specific situation."

Such tailoring can have unintended consequences. Under Giddings' law, a 22-year-old student teacher caught kissing a 19-year-old senior could be sentenced to prison.

I'm all for sending rapists and child molesters to prison and throwing out the key. But criminalizing kissing potentially between someone 19 and someone 22? Sure. It's probably inappropriate in a school setting, but don't sent them to jail for it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Check out Yellow Dog Blog

By Byron LaMasters

No posting this morning over here on BOR from me, but I've got several posts worth checking out over on the official blog of the Texas Democratic Party, the Yellow Dog Blog:

The Morning News Roundup - the latests regarding Chet Edwards, Chairman Soechting and Sen. Bivin's.

Editorials Speaking out against re-redistricting and in support of the Colorado decision.

Press Release from the UTEP Democrats announcing the election of Mike Apodaca as Executive Vice President of the Texas Young Democrats.

The announcement of a revamped website by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus.

Time to go to class!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Redheads: Move to Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Looking for love? Check out the results of the Match.com survey as reported by CNN

Men and women with red hair, for instance, are most in demand in Austin, Texas, and least in demand in Miami, according to the Match.com data.

Check it out for more interesting tidbits about where to find your match!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 01, 2003

Unions ROCK!

By Jim Dallas

MSNBC has a story about the labor-backed "Tell Us the Truth Tour" featuring Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Tom Morello (formerly of Rage Against The Machine), et. al.

It's good to see the AFL-CIO breaking out of its establishmentarian box, continuing the transformation of labor from "square" to "hip" that has been ushered in by John Sweeney and others.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Judges: DeLay testimony "not essential"

By Jim Dallas

WFAA: Federal panel quashes subpoena of DeLay and Barton

A three-judge federal panel on Monday rejected attempts to force House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Joe Barton to testify in a lawsuit over Texas' new congressional districts.

The two Republicans had been issued subpoenas for deposition testimony, letters, e-mails and other materials in a lawsuit that seeks to block the new congressional maps.

The federal panel agreed with the lawmakers' attorney that only under exceptional circumstances, such as having unique information in a case, could they be subject to a subpoena.

Unless evidence is shown that DeLay and Barton might fall under that description, their testimony is not essential, the panel ruled. It did, however, leave open the possibility of reconsidering its decision during trial, which is set to begin on Dec. 11.

The judicial panel heard arguments over the subpoenas during a 40-minute conference call Monday morning.

"We had hoped we'd be able to take the testimony from both members," said Gerry Hebert, a lawyer for congressional Democrats who want to learn more about the role DeLay and Barton played in the redistricting process.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

2004 House Races in Colorado

By Byron LaMasters

It's amazing how much of an effect redistricting has on National politics. The last few election cycles have seen only a few dozen House seats that are genuinely competetive. With today's ruling, in one day, we can add two (CO-3, CO-7) to that list. Colorado Luis writes:

The Colorado Supreme Court's decisions have been released, and Democrats are celebrating as the Court ruled that the legislature's 2003 re-redistricting plan is unconstitutional and that Attorney General Ken Salazar acted properly in filing suit to block the plan.

The ruling was unanimous as to Salazar's standing. The two Republican members of the Court, Justices Rebecca Kourlis and Nathan Coats, dissented as to the re-redistricting issue.

So, we are back to the 2001 map, where two seats are considered safe for the Democrats and three are considered safe for the Republicans. The other two are tossups -- the 3rd District (Western Slope and Pueblo) where John Salazar (the Attorney General's brother) is the early Democratic frontrunner in the battle to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Scott McInnis, and the 7th District, where Republican Bob Beauprez was elected during the GOP sweep year of 2002 by only 121 votes. Businessman John Works (who apparently has some ability to self-finance his campaign) has announced that he will challenge Beauprez.

While this will probably have little (if any) effect on the Texas redistricting efforts, it certainly provides a moral boost to all of us here. And for the first time in awhile, we can think about the possibility of taking back the House next year. I'm not saying that it will happen, but for the first time in awhile, I actually believe that it's possible.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No, I'm not Dead

By Byron LaMasters

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm not dead before people start calling me and making sure that I'm ok (that's what happened the last time I went a few days without posting). Nah, I'm fine. I just got back in Austin yesterday and yesterday was one of those total veg days where I didn't go outside or even turn on my computer - weird I know. I needed it though - this week will be full of studying marathons, so being well rested is good. I had a good Thanksgiving seeing family on Thursday, then I had some weird personal / relationship issues come up. Not really weird in a good or bad way, just in a weird way. Heh. I'll leave it at that. Anyway, this week is the last week of classes here at UT before exams (and I have 2 finals tests this week), so I'll be busy with studying, work (after tonight, I'm off until Friday though), and of course I'll try my best to blog daily on BOR and Yellow Dog Blog. Finally, a special thanks to Jim, Andrew and Karl for keeping everything up to speed during my little hiatus.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Colorado Redistricting Struck Down

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Good news this morning from Colorado where the State Supreme Court has just issued a 5-2 ruling striking down the General Assembly's Re-Redistricting plan as well as their "reapportionment anytime" interpretation of the State Constitution.

Case Announcement The first two links are the opinions.

Via Off the Kuff and dKos

In its ruling, the full court decided that a Republican redistricting plan, pushed through the state General Assembly in the closing days of this year's session, was unconstitutional because Colorado's congressional districts had already been redrawn in 2002 by a Denver judge after lawmakers could not agree.

The Supreme Court decided that under Colorado's 1876 constitution, new congressional boundaries could be drawn only once a decade, following the federal census.

"The plain language of this constitutional provision not only requires redistricting after a federal census and before the ensuing general election, but also restricts the legislature from redistricting at any other time," said an opinion delivered by Mary J. Mullarkey, chief justice of the seven-member court. "In short, the state constitution limits redistricting to once per census, and nothing in state or federal law negates this limitation. Having failed to redistrict when it should have, the General Assembly has lost its chance to redistrict until after the 2010 federal census."

Two justices issued dissenting opinions in the case, which Mullarkey said pitted "two strongly opposed views of the Colorado constitution" against each other.

Remember, this ruling was based on the Colorado State Constitution which of course applies just to that state so its effects on Texas legal efforts are marginal, considering we are in federal court. There was a federal court challenge in Colorado but it chose to wait on the state ruling. So unless that legal avenue restarts and goes to the US Supreme Court, Texas Democrats have been handed a moral victory at best.

Not that I'm going to complain about that.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Libertarian Spoiler in 2004?

By Andrew Dobbs

So Jim put up a funny little post about Michael Badnarik, a Buda, TX resident and frontrunner for the Libertarian Party nomination for President. This post was rather timely in that I've been doing a little research into Libertarianism, seeing if I can find something there to convince myself of because the CATO Institute pays interns $700 a month. What I found is a party that's dominated by a handful of intellectuals, a handful of small businessmen and a whole holy mess of whackjobs. Interestingly enough, most people who actually do believe in Libertarianism have found the same thing and vote for the GOP. But Pat Buchanan's magazine, The American Conservative has a really interesting article this week about the cracks forming between the GOP and Libertarians.

(A) growing number of libertarians no longer think they are getting much out of the fusionist bargain. Liberty magazine editor R.W. Bradford called upon his fellow libertarians to cease thinking of themselves as operationally part of the Right. Writing in the September/October issue of that magazine, he argued that the mainstream conservative movement has abandoned “its claimed love of liberty and opposition to ever more powerful government” and instead have become “the greatest advocates of an imperial foreign policy, of massive defense spending and of invading people’s homes in the names of the Wars on Crime, Drugs and Terrorism.”...

FoxNews.com’s Balko normally votes Republican and cast his ballot for George W. Bush in 2000 but now says he’s “90 percent certain” he “won’t be voting for President Bush in 2004.” He further argues that the “right now poses a greater threat to freedom than the left.” Jim Henley, a noted libertarian blogger, put it even more bluntly: “Having abandoned the substance of limited government since early in the Gingrich ‘revolution,’ conservatives increasingly eschew even the rhetoric of limited government. Animosity aside, they’re just no use to libertarians any more.”

It seems as though an administration that has spend a couple hundred billion dollars fighting an elective war, that has increased government spending, ballooned the deficit, infringed on a woman's right to choose, expanded the war on drugs, suggested federal interferences in marriage laws, treated the First Amendment like so much toilet paper and has created billions of dollars in unfunded mandates for the states just doesn't appeal to those laissez faire types. Now we are seeing more and more Libertarian GOPers say that they won't vote for the GOP, but might *gasp* vote for a Democrat.

Libertarians have not limited their support to third-party efforts. Some have begun contemplating support for a Democratic presidential candidate to oust the Bush-Ashcroft Republicans. The antiwar Howard Dean appears to be the favorite. Already a Libertarians for Dean blog site debating the merits of libertarian support for his candidacy has been set up on the Web. While a Libertarians for Clark Web site appeared and quickly dissipated following Wesley Clark’s declaration of candidacy, the Dean site is still going strong with those posting on it inclined to support him. The liberal American Prospect ran a piece by Noah Shachtman on its Web site citing several prominent libertarians, including Reason assistant editor Julian Sanchez and Cato Institute senior editor Gene Healy, at least willing to contemplate a vote for Dean over Bush.

I got wind of this article in an email from a regular reader, my 9th grade World History teacher Mr. Marvin Keene. Mr. Keene is a Libertarian who usually votes Republican and he's the best teacher I ever had. He sent an email with the subject "I'm Looking at Dean" which is a bit like Bill O'Reilly politely admitting he misspoke- it is so out of the ordinary and unexpected it takes you aback. If Marvin Keene would vote for Howard Dean over George Bush or Michael Badnarik or whoever then there's gotta be a lot of other people saying the same thing.

The best thing is that unlike the Green Party, which tries its damndest to pretend that it doesn't cost Democrats elections, the Libertarian Party actually relishes screwing with Republicans and makes it a focal point of their campaigns:

Although third party candidates rarely win statewide or Congressional office, in many cases they can control which of the major parties does win by purposefully siphoning off votes from one of the major-party candidates. The media has tagged this ability of third-party candidates to control elections the "spoiler effect," although a better name for it might be "incumbent killer," as the person being defeated is typically an incumbent evildoer.

Don Gorman has called the "spoiler effect" the "biggest stick the LP has," and Libertarian Party candidates have been credited with controlling the outcome of numerous Congressional and statewide elections.

In the past, the LP's use of the spoiler effect has been essentially random, and often unintentional. This year, for the first time, we made an effort to use the spoiler effect intentionally, in an orchestrated effort to defeat some of the worst drug warriors in Congress...

In a State Assembly race in California, Democratic organizations spent $147,000 to promote Libertarian candidate David Eaton. In New Hampshire, the Democrats mailed three full-color brochures highlighting Libertarian candidate Dan Belforti's positions on gun control and taxes in an effort to lure voters away from the Republican.

Democrats can use this group as a sort of reverse Green Party in 2004. Why not put up fliers in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas that say something to the effect of "Bush has not overturned any gun control laws- Vote Libertarian" or in Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico- "George W. Bush has kept fighting a War on Drugs that costs billions and robs Americans of their freedom- Vote Libertarian" or in New Hampshire and Arizona: "George W. Bush has increased the size of the federal government and created the biggest deficits in US History- Vote Libertarian." Now is Howard Dean or whoever going to repeal some gun laws, end the drug war or decrease the size of the federal government? Unfortunately no. But we aren't saying Vote Dem, we are saying Vote Libertarian. By stripping the GOP of these votes for a candidate that can't win we can take a few states- New Hampshire, Nevada, Arizona, West Virginia, etc. Any one of those would win the election for us most likely.

In 2000 a crackpot no chance candidate kept Al Gore out of the White House. It's time to turn the tables in 2004.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:21 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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