Burnt Orange Report

News, Politics, and Fun From Deep in the Heart of Texas

Support the TDP!

January 31, 2004

Live...from Arizona

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The following is a report from the other day that I copied out of my regular journal, so it's not exactly written the same way I would write it for the BOR.

...The Phoenix State HQ was much smaller than I expected after the near gargantuan Des Moines and Manchester state offices. But this is Arizona and there are 6 other states voting on the same day as this one.

Things had just started up for the day. The first big task was one that I was prepared for after experience in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Putting labels, precinct specific, on door hangers which would be put in packets with other information. 60 per precinct, all bundled with literally hundreds of precincts for the Phoenix area. Things got a big boost once the Utah group came in, we were at full labeling capacity with about 20 on the job.

Once things were labeled in just over an hour, they all had to be put into larger bags with precinct names put on them. Of course that led to having to find space to put all those filling bags in alphabetical order. We filled once storage room with G-Z. A corner of the main room soon came to own all the S precincts. The Phoenix Dean Chair’s office became the placeholder for C-F and then A and B were placed near the bathrooms.

In between all of this was the continual bag shortage. So bags were scavenged from other packets which were holding old information. So there was this never ending shifting of location for bags as some were emptied from one store room to make way for the emptying of old bags to make room for new bags which were temporarily being put in some other random corner. Co-ordinated Chaos. But the job was done in a couple hours and all were happy.

We also were on a conference call with Rob Reiner and the California “Southwest Voter Express” people, hundreds of them on busses flowing out of the surrounding states to fill Arizona and New Mexico. Most of the Texas people were going to New Mexico and Oklahoma, I was the Texas delegation for Pheonix, if not Arizona! Lol.

Much of today was preparing for the next two days when we would be canvassing about 100 precincts here in Phoenix. I was really impressed with the organization here. It doesn’t seem like it on the surface, but statewide the operation is pretty much the same. The Dean campaign was the only campaign to file forms with the state party to get Democratic watchers for each precinct for election day, meaning we will be able to have access to the voter rolls throughout the day.

Each precinct will have a captain that will be able to cross check the IDed Dean supporters with those that have voted. There will also be the runners for each precinct that will then be directed to drag people to the polls that have not come in yet. This will all be preceded by walkers, dropping polling place info to those IDed Dean supporters and leaners who have not already voted early or by mail, a huge thing here in Arizona. All that will be preceded by the next two days last big undecideds canvassing and phoning. The database here is very well set up, similar to New Hampshire which was by far an improvement over the Iowa technique in my view.

Also, a few weeks ago, the Dean campaign sent out vote by mail applications to 120,000 people. Over 20,000 responded and voted which I found very impressive. There is a very organized, concerted effort to have outreach to the various constituencies here in Arizona by members of those constituencies.

Now the ground game is focused on one last ID and message spreading weekend of canvassing and then getting all those people to the polls. I am impressed, at least for an operation out here. The field office coordinator here is a 6 cycle veteran of this; I’m glad to see that experience on board.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2004

Would the Governor Please Get Serious?

By Jim Dallas

The reaction to Governor Perry's "whip the children" school funding plan is in, and it's not pretty. But then again, that's what this plan deserves.

See, Rick Perry believes the best way to insure that kids graduate from high school is... to withhold money from underfunded schools until they produce results.

It's one thing to be for tough love and accountability, but what Governor Perry is proposing is sadistic -- starving the schools that most need money because they are least able to perform.

There's one decent idea in the plan, and that is incentives for good teachers. But the plan mucks the idea up so bad it's practically worthless.

Only in Republican la-la land where there's an organized "conspiracy" between teacher, parents and public school administrators to purposely sabotage education would this even-remotely make sense.

Although I'll admit -- there is an organized conspiracy surrounding education, and it's called standardized testing. The purpose is to cheapen education while at the same time producing illusory results, ("Hey ma, all the kids know how to fill in bubbles on a sheet of paper! Isn't that terrific!") giving political cover to all involved.

As usual, Comptroller Carole was critical, saying:

"I am afraid that the governor's plan leaves too many children and teachers behind," Ms. Strayhorn said, adding that she thinks the various incentives may widen the funding gap between high-wealth and low-wealth districts because higher-wealth districts are in a better position to qualify for the incentives.

"It may work in some instances, but it appears that it widens the gap on funding equity," she said. "The state has to pick up more of the tab, and we've got to have equity."

Would the governor please get serious about education?

In other news, the federal government is reporting that not only have sex, drugs, and rock and roll invaded suburban schools with a vengeance, drinking and casual sex is actually more common in suburban schools than in the inner-city. The Plano-ization of America has finally happened:

“People who think they’ve escaped these kinds of societal issues by moving to the suburbs — we think they’re mistaken,” Greene said. “The suburban schools aren’t safe havens."

Call me a prude, but you know, I for one happen to think this is sort of a problem. Maybe if the social conservatives would get serious and propose programs that, you know, worked, maybe then our kids wouldn't be out getting into trouble. Example Number One: the stubborn insistence on pushing the failed, Victorian-era abstinence-only agenda instead of a more effective, comprehensive sex education program.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:37 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Thoughts on Dean's Eminent Demise

By Andrew Dobbs

Howard Dean probably ought to end his campaign right now but the powerful forces of self-delusion and institutional intertia will keep him on the road until February 8th, the day after the Michigan primary- a primary he is sure to lose. As the New York Times has reported:

After raising $41 million in 2003, far more than any of his Democratic rivals, Dr. Dean spent so much on television and on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire that campaign officials said they were only confident of having enough money to compete through next week (...)

Dean has also pulled all of his campaign ads, has said that he will not campaign in any of the February 3 states, preferring to focus on Michigan on Feb. 7. He fired Joe Trippi- a cult like figure who is almost as beloved by Deaniacs as Dean himself is. He is dealying the paychecks to his employees and is polling very very poorly everywhere. Dean ran a phenomenal grassroots effort to get to the front of the pack and then forgot what got him on top and fell back to the bottom again.

Though it appears that Howard Dean will not be the nominee for our party, I think that it is impossible to say that he hasn't been an amazingly positive influence on our party. His message was one of pride in being a Democrat, outrage at what Bush has done and vision for a future where everyone had health care, education, employment and civil rights. Before he came into prominence the race was one of "I support the President, but..." and one of sloganeering. His presence shook up the party and gave us something to look forward to this year. No less than conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan has noted that Bush is in trouble, in part because of Howard Dean:

The huge turn-out in New Hampshire; the electability factor for Kerry; the passion of the Dean people: all this shows how thoroughly energized the Democrats are to win back the White House. Bush is in the Rove-Cheney cocoon right now. From the SOTU, it looks like he's going to run on 9/11. Bad, backward-looking idea. His coalition is fracturing; his reach out to Hispanics seems to have hurt him more with the base than won him new votes; his spending has independents deeply concerned; Iraq is still a wild card; prescription drugs pandering hasn't swayed any seniors; the religious right wants him to attack gay couples in the Constitution - which will lose him the center. More worrying: I'm not sure he even knows he's in trouble.

Howard Dean has made this race competitive- his passion and his commitment to the grassroots has meant a reinvigoration of the Democratic Party and a new commitment to our values. I'm incredibly proud of the work I did on this campaign and I'll never forget the people I met and the lessons I learned. But its time to move on and get ready for the next fight. My greatest hope and goal isn't to get Howard Dean to be elected President- its to assure health care, education, housing and fair treatment for all Americans. The first step on this goal is beating George W. Bush and Howard Dean will not be the person to do that it seems. Not that he couldn't beat him one-on-one, I believe he could, but that he will not be the nominee.

I would like to see John Edwards recieve the nomination. He is not so easily attacked by Bush and Co- he doesn't have the regional, ideological and polemical problems of John Kerry and I think that he is an attractive alternative to George W. Bush. He can't be attacked as another Northeast Liberal- he isn't either of those things. He can't be attacked as negative- his message is one of hope. I realized that we'll probably end up with Kerry and I suppose I'm okay with that, but Edwards is the man I want.

The thing that pains me, more than not having Howard Dean the nominee or president, is the fact that the experience of this summer- all of those amazing people in a beautiful place working for a cause so much greater than ourselves, all of the fun we had and experiences we were a part of will no longer be there again. Its tough to think that I'll never sleep on an air mattress at 72 Cherry Street again, that I'll never jump into Lake Champlain in all my clothes after a long day of campaigning, that I'll never dance to U2's "A Beautiful Day" with 100 great friends- sweaty and excited at the world unfolding in front of us. It makes me sad, but I suppose its time to move on, time to get ready for the next fight because we can take our country back. I have always said about the Dean campaign that its not the man or even the message but the movement that matters. The movement lives on and the message is as strong as ever even if the man will be staying behind.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 06:23 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Chris P. Carrot

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I thought I was crazy when I was in Iowa before the Black and Brown Debate. I wrote about it in an entry of mine back then that I thought I saw a Crispy Carrot running for office and that the three supporters there were more than the Clark, Lieberman, Sharpton, Moseley Braun, and Bush campaigns combined.

Low and behold, today I stumble across an article today about Chris P. Carrot running in New Hampshire. It's a PETA project. There is a whole website for him. And the saddest part?

Vice President Colonel Corn.

Please. Make. It. Stop. Ow.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:56 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

My Thoughts Exactly

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have been thinking about this in almost the exact sense and am glad someone put into better words than I have attempted to. And though I don't have any personal grudges against any of the other writers here on the BOR (though I'm sure it has seemed that way the past week or two, my apologies guys) this post over at DailyKos hits the nail on the (ditto)head.

...To put it in more colorful language, in conjunction with the corporate media, the Political Opinion Complex has starved the Democratic electorate of campaign information to the point where they will eat up anything put in front of them. Whether that meal is Clark, Dean, or Kerry, the public is simply far too hungry to choose.

Sadly, this state of affairs has turned the Democratic electorate into dittoheads. We will vote however the POC tells us to vote. We jump at a resume when we are told to jump, we join a movement when we are told to join, we will accept a southern strategy when we are told to accept, and we believe in electability when we are told to believe. We will sell-out unions if we are told it will help us win. We will go to war if we think it will appeal in the south. We will abandon urban renewal if we are told it won't play in Middle America. We will stamp out volunteer movements if we are told they won't lead to corporate donations. Although it primarily exists outside and above the party, The Political Opinion Complex wields significantly more control over the Democratic Party than any institution supposedly "inside" of it....

Momentum is back in a big way, and it's because Democrats have become dittoheads to the center-right POC.

That's all from me now. I'm off to Arizona tomorrow afternoon to continue the good fight for Governor Doctor Dean because I don't believe in letting Iowans and New Hampshirites making up my mind for me. I'll try to blog from Phoenix live when I get the chance. I leave you with a late night spur of the momment quote from yours truly.

If you don't stand for something, then you stand for nothing. If you stand for nothing, then you don't stand a chance.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:15 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 28, 2004

The Beginning of the End?

By Byron LaMasters

Joe Trippi is out.

It was probably inevitable and it looks like this could be the beginning of the end of the Howard Dean campaign. Then again, John Kerry changed campaign managers a few months ago, and look what happened... No one thought that Kerry could recover, and he did. Will Dean? I don't think so. Dean faces a huge geographic problem at this point. There are seven primaries next Tuesday, but none of them have a natural Dean base. The DNC chair has said that if a candidate hasn't won any primaries by February 4th, they should probably drop out. Well, Dean probably won't have any victories by then as states more to his liking (Wisconsin, Michigan and Washington) aren't untill the next week, and it will be hard for Dean to win those states without any momentum. Furthermore, despite raising $40 Million, Dean is about to run out of money.

As for Trippi? He's a genius. He turned Dean from a no-name governor of a small New England state into the national frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Trippi was brilliant in the way that he embraced the internet and the grassroots structure of a campaign that it could create. He made Dean for America more than a campaign - he made it a movement. For that, we all ought to be grateful for Joe Trippi. With Howard Dean, Trippi has reshaped the way that the Democratic Party communicates to its activists. He tapped into a new source for money and volunteers that will be followed by every major campaign for years to come. However, Trippi eventually got too caught up in the movement, and forgot that he had to win elections. Yeah, it was great responding to the Club for Growth ads and donating to the bat and bringing out Al Gore and Bill Bradley and Tom Harkin, but in the end Trippi lost his focus. Instead of keeping a positive message and keeping Dean cool when he was held to the fire, Trippi and Dean lost focus in the weeks approaching the Iowa caucus. They went negative and forgot that they were running a campaign for president and not a holy war with Dick Gephardt in Iowa, a battle which sunk both Gephardt and (now probably) Dean.

We'll see what Dean does, but the fat lady is warming up...

Kos has thoughts on this as well (and a lot other folks do too, check the Blog for America Trackback link for that).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Behold the power of duct tape

By Jim Dallas

I'm a strong believer in multi-purpose adhesives, as any of the Dean Rangers who watched me patch up a hole in the bus with duct tape last week will attest (yes, I carried a roll of duct tape with me at all times while in Iowa).

But this is just a little too weird for me (from a friend) --

AP: Pantex workers taped together broken nuclear warhead

It's good to know that the Pantex folks out in Amarillo are handling our nation's nuclear stockpile with such tender loving care.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2004

New Hampshire

By Byron LaMasters

Well, it's looking like Kerry by a few points over Dean with Edwards and Clark duking it out for a distant third. If that's what we're looking at I see it as great for Dean (he's back, the comeback Dean? Well, maybe not, but something like that), good for Kerry (back-to-back victories make him the official frontrunner), and not so good for Clark (it looked like he might come in second ten days ago). If Edwards finishes third, that's still a boost for him, and helps him going into South Carolina (he becomes the favorite there), Oklahoma and Missouri. If Clark finishes third, then he does what he's expected to do and isn't helped or hurt. If Clark's fourth, then he's in trouble, but he has enough strength in the 2/3 states that he'll still be in the race (same for Edwards). Regardless, Joe Lieberman is finishing fifth, and it looks like his campaign will be over.

If you haven't seen the exit polls, kos has some from midday, and Drudge has 5 PM (Eastern) numbers at: 36 Kerry, 30 Dean, 12 for Edwards and Clark. The polls close in one hour, so we'll see how things shake out.

Update: Well Dean lost in double digits. It'll be hard for him to come back. Dean's not done, but he's going to have a very tough time in the Feb. 3rd states. States like Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington are more likely to go for Dean, but the Feb. 3 states come first. So, what happens? I don't know, but Dean has some tough decisions to make.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

GOP Land Commissioner Wants to Restore Confederate Plaques

By Byron LaMasters

The Austin American Statesman reports:

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he wants to find a compromise to allow the state to restore plaques commemorating the Confederacy that were removed from the Texas Supreme Court building in 2000.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans organization has sued to restore the plaques, which were removed under then-Gov. George W. Bush in response to objections by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Patterson belongs to the Confederate descendants' group, but he said he is not actively involved in the lawsuit, the San Antonio Express-News reported in Sunday's editions.

I think that it's appropriate to display confederate plaques commemorating the Confederacy for historical purposes. I think that a museum is the best place for it, however, and I'd oppose Confederate memorabilia in government buildings. I think that it's inappropriate to commemorate a government which broke off from, and attacked the United States in order to protect the institution of slavery in government buildings. Put it in a museum....

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:35 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

January 26, 2004

Yellow Dog Blog Relaunch

By Andrew Dobbs

As many of you may or may not know Byron, Jim and I have been behind the Texas Democratic Party's official weblog, the Yellow Dog Blog. Between BOR, school, work, etc. it has been a challenge for us to keep it up to date so traffic has been low and the site has been only sporadically updated. Well that is now going to change.

I have been hired to work at the Texas Democratic Party and so I will be using this time and opportunity to update the site probably a minimum of 3 times a day. We will also have guest posts from prominent Democrats, opportunities for action and all kinds of other cool stuff. I hope that you all will start visiting the site and getting involved in our online community!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuition Deregulation a Mistake, Republican Now Says

By Byron LaMasters

Is it just me, or is this way too little, way too late:

Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, says voting in favor of tuition deregulation last year was a mistake.

"I was a big supporter of tuition deregulation, and I'm almost embarrassed now to tell people I was," Brown told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "I don't know what to tell people now except for it was a dumb move on my part."

After returning home during the legislature's winter break and receiving a few angry phone calls from tuition-paying parents, Brown and other state legislators are doing their best to condemn the tuition hikes.

Don't blame me for your tuition increase seems to be the mantra of many state representatives.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 25, 2004

Pete Sessions: US Poor at least have TVs

By Byron LaMasters

Pete Sessions put his foot in his mouth again. At a Jewish community debate with Martin Frost earlier today, Pete Sessions said this:

The last question was about the gap between rich and poor. Frost gave the standard left-wing answer, but Sessions did something that made my mouth drop open, saying, "This is the only country in the world where the poor have color televisions." As you might imagine, there was a notable gasping from the audience.

What about health care? What about education? What about jobs? Pete Sessions doesn't care. I guess he thinks that all people really need to get by in America is a color television.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:56 PM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

He's Baaaaaaaaaaack...

By Jim Dallas

Would anyone agree with me that David Duke is the Freddy Krueger of Louisiana politics... the bad guy whose supposed to go away but always ends up coming back in less-credible and even-more disgusting ways?

Pardon me while I wretch...

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:06 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

January 24, 2004

Damn! UT Loses...

By Byron LaMasters

The first UT basketball game I went to this season was the Longhorns first loss in Austin in 25 games. Geez!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

My Howard Dean Evolution and Devolution

By Byron LaMasters

I promised to respond this post by Karl-Thomas a few days ago. I finally have a chance to write it now.

I first met Howard Dean in May of 2001. I was a senior in high school at the time and a lesbian couple in Dallas (who had gone to Vermont to get a Civil Union), who I had met through my activism during the 2000 election cycle invited me to be their guest to a Howard Dean reception hosted by the HRC Dallas Federal Club (a group of wealthy gay donors who give $100+ per month to the Human Rights Campaign). I had no idea at that time that Howard Dean would be running for president, but it was an honor to meet the man who had the courage to sign a law granting gay and lesbian couples the same equal benefits and rights that are granted to heterosexual married couples. It almost cost Dean his re-election. While he won 50-38% over Ruth Dwyer in 2000, Vermont's quirky election laws send the election to the State House when no candidate wins a majority. With Republicans taking over the state house in a backlash over the Civil Unions (in the "Take Back Vermont" campaign which I saw on barns and yards across the state when I visited in the summer of 2000 for a rowing camp), Dean barely won re-election. Dean was within 2645 votes of the election being sent to the state house, where he surely would have lost, and likely not had the opportunity to run for president. On a side not, my lesbian friends were a big part of Dean's re-election in 2000. When the race was close in September, they decided to send out a fundraising mailer to the several hundred gay and lesbian couples who had gotten Civil Unions in Vermont since it became law earlier that year. Within weeks they raised over $10,000, and that last minute cash helped put Dean over the top.

When I first looked for who to support in 2004, I looked to Al Gore. When I met Al Gore in May of 2001 (yeah, that was a busy month for me), I encouraged him to run again, and I pledged to support him. Al Gore inspired me. I may have been the only person in America to be inspired into politics by Al Gore, but I turned 18 in July of 2000, and while I initially liked Bill Bradley, I quickly rallied to Gore. While there was little I could do to help in Texas for the Gore campaign (and I got involved in a congressional race where I could make a difference instead), I did what I could. I co-wrote an article for my high school newspaper, Al Gore: The Best Choice For Our Generation. And after the election, I was angry and helped organize protests in Dallas of the Florida recount. So I was with Gore, then Gore decided not to run in December 2002, so I had to find a candidate.

Well, January 2003 rolled around and I was angry, depressed and sad for America. Democrats had just gotten trounced in November. We lost our Senate majority, we lost seats in the House, we lost the Texas House, lost seats in the Texas Senate, Republicans swept the statewide ticket and we were about to go to war without allies, without clear evidence and without exhausting all of our other options. There were several candidates running for president and none of them really stood out. That was - until I heard Howard Dean speak. I remember hearing Dean speak at several forums in January and February 2003, most notably the NARAL event and the DNC Winter meeting where Dean inspired me. Finally, a candidate willing to stand up to George W. Bush. Finally, a candidate not ashamed to be a Democrat. We had lost the 2002 election, in my opinion, because Democrats failed to offer a clear and coherent message for America. So many Democrats ran campaigns on messages such as: "I support the President on this and that, but....". Howard Dean was the answer to this problem. He gave Democrats a reason to be proud of their party. He stood up against the right-wing in Vermont, and he beat them. Last Spring, he was the only one standing up to the right-wing in America, and I thought that he was our best - our only shot at beating George W. Bush.

By March, I was a Deaniac. I went to my first meetup in March, and brought half of the University Democrats with me. I hosted a Students for Dean party and raised some money for the organization. I went to meetup in April and then to more meetups throughout the summer. I went to three fundraisers between March and July, donating a total of $40. I wrote letters to Iowans. Why? Because I didn't want 2002 to happen again. I saw most of the other candidates as Bush-lite. I believed that Howard Dean was the only Democrat that could beat George Bush, because he was the only one that had the courage to fight him and speak out. Howard Dean was the only candidate that drew hundreds and thousands of supporters to his events and rallies. He was the real deal.

This fall, I began to have my doubts. There was no defining event last fall that caused me to go from a hardcore Dean supporter to soft supporter - it was more of a gut feeling. My anger over the war had subsided, so that was no long a defining issue. I still supported Dean, but I stopped going to meetups, donating money and volunteering. I stayed in Austin while many of my friends boarded a plane for Iowa in September to blockwalk for Dean as "Texas Rangers". Here's what I wrote about that at the time:

I'm not able to make it for the weekend, because I'll be working tonight, and to be perfectly honest, I'm a little less enthusiastic about the Dean campaign than I was several months ago. I think that Dean had the right message for the Spring of 2003, but I'm not quite sure if it's the right message to win next November. Unfortunately, there's no candidate out there that just grabs me, though, and I'm not longing for Al Gore or Hillary Clinton to jump in the race either. Of the other candidates, the only other candidate that I'm really drawn to is Wesley Clark, but things like this and this obviously concern me. So, basically you can put me on the record as currently leaning Dean, but my support is much softer than before. I've officially resigned from various volunteer roles (Students for Dean, Longhorns for Dean, etc.) that I've held with the campaign.

A few days later, I wrote this:

I do think that there are serious issues about Dean's ego, about his abrasiveness, about his issue positions, about his ideas for Iraq that his hardcore supporters would like to ignore (or just pretend that it's DLC propaganda). Can Dean win the nomination? Yes. Can he be elected President? Yes. But he still has a lot of maturing as a candidate to do (although you could say the same about any of the other candidates, especially Wesley Clark). Back to Bush. I don't just want to beat him, I want to beat him bad. I don't want it to be close enough for their to be any doubt. And I want to bring a Democratic Congress in with our Democratic president. I'll support the candidate in which I think could best do that. If after a few months, it becomes clear that Wesley Clark is in the best position to bring us that victory, then I'll endorse him. If Howard Dean remains that candidate, then I'll stick with him. We'll see.

I guess the main concern was electability. I worried that Dean couldn't beat Bush. Not that I had any specific evidence at the time, but it was a gut feeling that he was less electable than another candidate - and electability was the main reason that drew me to Dean.

Moving forward, some people might think that the "I have a Scream" speech is the main reason that I'm turned off to Howard Dean. Actually, that's not the case. The main reason is that I think that his campaign organization is vastly unprepared to take on George W. Bush. Take a look at the results of Iowa. Howard Dean probably spent about $7 Million in Iowa. He had thousands of volunteers, and finished a distant third. Geez! That's what I call a miserable failure. Pundits have pointed to a bunch of things as turning points in the campaign. The two that I've seen most often are the capture of Saddam Hussein and Al Gore's endorsement. Both are good things. It's good that Saddam is in custody and it was good, for the Dean campaign, that Al Gore lent his support. But where Dean failed, was translating Gore's support and his campaign from one of an insurgent to one as a frontrunner. He never did it. He pulled in endorsements, but continued his message attacking Washington Democrats. And while he attacked "Washington Democrats who supported the war" (Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry), Dean hit the campaign trail in Iowa with his new best friend, Tom Harkin.... a Washington Democrat who supported the war. Hypocrisy anyone? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless, a terrible campaign tactic. And those ads... I hope that Dean has a new campaign ad team. Some of his ads are decent like his response to the first Club for Growth ad, but others where he's speaking into the camera against a blank backdrop are just god-awful.

So why? Why have I gone from "lean-Dean" to uncommitted at this point? Two reasons. The first is that my main reason for supporting Dean in the first place was because I thought that he was the only candidate that could beat George W. Bush. Dean was the only candidate that was energizing Democrats and bringing new people into the party. That theory was disproved on Monday night in Iowa. While more young people attended the Iowa Caucuses than ever, the majority of 18-29 year olds voted for John Kerry and John Edwards. And furthermore, while the vast majority of Iowa caucusgoers opposed the war in Iraq, the majority of anti-war caucusgoers voted for John Kerry and John Edwards. Why is this? Why did anti-war Democrats and young Democrats vote for Kerry and Edwards who supported the war resolution? They obviously saw something in Dean that made them look elsewhere. The main reason that I supported Howard Dean was because he could bring new people into the party and energize the base. The results of Iowa suggest that Howard Dean didn't do that - and if Howard Dean can't win over White pacifist Democrats in Iowa, then how can he win anywhere else, and more importantly, how can he beat George W. Bush?

The second reason for my conversion from lean-Dean to uncommitted is the "I have a Scream Speech". Was I personally offended by it? Not really. Did the media completely blow it out of context? Yeah, of course. But, the fact of the matter is that Howard Dean has two major perceived weaknesses. First, that he is weak on national security, and second that he is angry and doesn't have the temperament to be president. I don't agree with either, but that's not the point. American electoral politics is much more determined by perception than reality. Yes, politics is unfair, but it's true. Is George W. Bush a "compassionate conservative"? Hell, no! But Bush and Rove convinced enough people that he was one, and he became president. Perceptions... Many people heard Howard Dean for the first time on Monday night. And what was their perception? That he is loud and angry and most importantly... unpresidential. Dean and his people like to blame the media. That's the easy way out. He was the frontrunner and the frontrunner gets media scrutiny. That's life. And that's a good thing. If Howard Dean can't handle the fire he gets from the media and other Democrats, how the heck could he handle a barrage of attacks from Bush and Rove? Dean went to the DNC chair to whine about people attacking him when he should have just had a little more thick skin and taken an "Aww, shucks" attitude about it. Instead, he lashed back, and while he knocked off Dick Gephardt, he seriously wounded himself.

So what now? I'm uncommitted. If Dean proves that he can get back on message, that he can laugh at himself a little bit more, that he can spend his money a little bit better, that he can produce better ads, that he can deflect attacks, that he can stop blaming the media, that he can prove that he can go toe to toe with Bush on national security, that he can disprove attacks that he is angry and doesn't have the temperment to be president, that he can once again prove that he (and no one else) can bring new people into politics and the party - THEN I'll be back with him. But I have serious doubts. I want to see the Democrat best positioned to beat George W. Bush win the Democratic nomination, and I don't know who that is. It may be Dean. It may be Kerry. It may be Edwards. It may be Clark. Dean should get credit for being the first serious Democratic presidential candidate in this race to stand up to George W. Bush (which all of the other candidates are finally doing now), but I'd rather nominate someone who figured it out late and can bring a serious challenge to Bush, than nominate a candidate that had the right message from the begining, but who is perceived as unpresidential and would more likely lose to Bush. But for now, I figure that the best thing I can do is wait, work on local races for the next month or so, and let the good folks of New Hampshire, South Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Delaware, Missouri, North Dakota and the other states after February 3 help me with my choice on March 9th.

Update: One thing that I forgot to add, which came up in comments by Sherk:

It seems like electability is a fairly important criteria to you, for obvious reasons. I'm curious, though, what if you knew for certain (say, through divine revelation or something equally guaranteed to be true) that no Democrat could beat Bush come November? Would it change who you support?

Well I disagree with the premise, as WhoMe? points out in the comments that polls in the last day or two have shown John Kerry beating George W. Bush. We're a 50-50 nation and I believe that barring any huge changes by November, this election will result in a close victory for either side. However, I would not change who I would support even if I knew that the Democratic nominee would lose no matter what. I want Democrats to nominate the candidate that is not only best positioned to take on Bush, but who is best positioned to have coattails on our entire ticket all of the way down the ballot. In that respect, Dean has worried me for months. While I think that Howard Dean can beat Bush in November, he would probably win with a combination of the northeast, the midwest, the west coast and the southwest (and maybe Florida). The rest of the South would be pretty unattainable for Dean, in my opinion. Well the South (Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Oklahoma) is where the battle for control of the U.S. Senate will be primarily fought. While it's unlikely that any Democrat would win those states (except Florida, and maybe North Carolina for Edwards), Clark and Edwards are best positioned to cut Bush's coattails in those states. If Dean were the nominee, we would probably see the Democratic candidates in those states running away from Dean on issues such as his position on war and rolling back all of the tax cuts. With the Texas redistricting, some of our Texas Democrats will be running away from Dean if he is the nominee. The best example is Martin Frost who in his announcement speach last week boasted his support of education and supporting the "No Child Left Behind Act" (which his opponent Pete Sessions voted against), which Howard Dean has attacked other Democrats for supporting. And Martin Frost is only the tip of the iceberg of Dean's potential problems for Texas Democrats this fall. Frost is probably the most liberal of the five Democratic incumbents (Frost, Stenholm, Sandlin, Lampson, Edwards) running in new Republican-dominated districts. I want all of them to win, and to have a presidential nominee with a platform that they can run with.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:17 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Common Sense

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Just a late night post for those still up.

I thought I was the only one to think about things this way. Read this article for some thinking on defining "being presidential."

And elsewhere on the web, an interesting piece that just hit Yahoo's frontpage (a CNN story)...Some very interesting positive stuff...and then...

Some analysts have their doubts about blogs, however.

Larry Purpuro, coordinator of the Republicans' e.GOP Project in 2000, said many bloggers were little more than "armchair analysts in their bathrobes (with) no serious interest in leaving their living rooms to actually help the campaigns."

Well, I don't think that is that case here at the Burnt Orange Report, nor over at Daily Kos and the like. Many of us have just gotten back from Iowa or New Hampshire. Many have been working over the break for local candidates. Some are crazy enough to go galavanting off to Arizona next weekend for another round of Presidential Campaigning (me). That's the great thing about political blogs, they tend to be written by those with experience first hand of what's going on. Or at least they have a sharp sense for what's going on.

The blogs were all aflutter Thursday with a "dance version" parody of the performance. In the audio remix, Dean's rattling off of the names of upcoming primary states is set to a pulsating techno beat punctuated by a siren.

It's nice to have the Blogs get some credit. Isn't it nice when something started among the populace finds it's way into national mainstream discussion? It's not just us reporting on them.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 23, 2004

A Father's Wisdom

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This will likely be my last post on the topic of the Post-Caucus Dean rally, for one, because I don't have any family members left to comment on it. But I bring these words to you, written by my father to friends in the conservative Hill Country west of Austin because I think that sometimes we forget in the world of commenting that a little historical perspective is in order. My father has seen a lot of politics in his over 50 years in this country. He also said something to me today that struck me- "even is all else fails," he said, "and the right rules for the next 10 years, it's only ten years. They will fall just like others have before them. We still must set our agenda."

It is a true statement, yes, and at the same time we have a duty to do the best we can to offer the public an agenda that means something. I personally think back to the days of Andrew Jackson sometimes when thinking about Dean. Maybe we have the opportunity to fundamentally change how things work. We haven’t been able to do it on the House or Senate level, too many people that can't be removed at once. That leaves the Presidency. Kerry or Edwards, all their rhetoric aside, sound hollow when blasting Washington politics as usual. I wonder why.

Anyways, here's a bit from a father, a teacher, a historical buff- older and wiser than I...

I have just returned from Austin, where my wife and I visited our son Karl-Thomas. Karl-T worked for Gov. Dean in Iowa for the last two weeks, while he was on winter break from the University of Texas (he returned to Texas with Deans Texas Rangers last Wednesday). Prior to the Iowa caucuses, Karl-T worked in the Dean HQ in Manchester, NH. for about a week.

Karl-T was in the crowd when Gov Dean gave the Monday speech, rallying his supporters. This evening (Fri.), I saw a digital video of Dean giving the speech that was taken by a volunteer in the audience, close to the stage. This video was electric! Kids, and old farts like me, were waving flags, cheering, chanting, and generally vividly showing their support for Dean's candidacy. The speech I saw Dean give was not the "scream" as portrayed on the major TV networks. There was no loss of control. In fact, I could barely hear the "scream' at the end of his pep talk (but it was there.)

This guy was having fun! He was rallying his troops, many of whom were young people who came into Iowa from across the United States. If you listen to the content of the speech, Dr. Dean just says he will continue to wage his election campaign, in the states of all the Democratic (and Republican) contenders, and he would compete in every state that had a primary or election caucus.

In no way do I believe that he was "out of control," as so many network political pundits were so quick to say. I respect the American media. For the most part, I believe that they do a good job of keeping the public informed about issues of the day.

This is my take on this whole situation. I believe the news media does not know what to think about Gov. Dean's campaign! This campaign has electrified so many people on the grass roots level that the media does not know how to respond. Dean was touted as the frontrunner because of his fundraising and organizational abilities and because of his ability to connect with voters as a down to earth person on a personal level. Of course, he also worked Iowa for quite some time.

I like Howard Dean, warts and all. I think it's about time that we had a leader that had warts.

I cannot remember that last time that there was such genuine enthusiasm for a political candidate. (in my political experience,1972 comes to mind.) In no way did I believe that the Iowa rally was a "Muskie moment." Howard Dean is GENUINE! I heartily approve of his position on many issues that I hold quite dear, such as social security, social spending, and especially education.

He is the same man we wholeheartedly offered our support to at the House Parties on December 31st. When you lead from the front, you have to expect to get beaten upon, even if it is unwarranted. Gosh, he came in third in 2004. In 2002, NO ONE thought he would even be a contender. Clinton was third in Iowa, and second in New Hampshire, and look what eventually happened.

If we keep the faith, and spread the message, we will prevail- on Jan. 27th, Feb. 3rd, 7th, & 10th, and March 2nd and 9th! This wound is in no way fatal, although some other Democrats and FOX News Network, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk would have you believe so. George W. Bush's political career should be mortally wounded for his handling of the economy, his Iraq policy, and his outright LIES concerning Saddam's purported weapons of mass destruction!

Dean 'Scream'. Bush 'Record'. Which does the media make the big news story?

Where's that Liberal Bias when you need it?

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

Real Video

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It didn't take long. Someone from the crowd at Dean's Post-Caucus Rally has a video from the crowd available for watching. This is what really happened. That's why many of us were mystified by the 'scream'. You can hardly hear it. From where I was (directly in front of Dean, halfway between him and the cameras) I didn't even hear it because the crowd was so loud; I would say even more than the following clip sounds.

Hear and Watch the Truth

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:32 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Mother's Tale

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Sometimes I get lost in all the media and I never would have thought that talking to my mother would be just what I needed. I called her the other day, after feeling quite foolish for my pre-Iowa comments about how good everything looked from the inside of the Dean Campaign. I thought that I was going to have to reassure her about what was going on.

How wrong I was. She was the one telling me to not lose faith. My just over 40 year old mother, and independent liberal who voted for Perot, Gore, and soon for Dean was telling me about how the media was being so unfair and that now was the time to work harder. She tells me how she just had to give another $100 donation.

It spurred me to give a little more and I will be leaving for Arizona next weekend because this isn't over by a long shot.

But what surprised me was that my normally 'scared of technology' mother and father are now writing letters with the Dean campaign tools, using the online fundraising page (House Party in Fredericksburg- 40 people, $1000+ raised. Fredericksburg is like 85% Republican), and now is even started to comment on the Blog.

This was her post. And remember, this isn't from the stereotypical teenage commenter...

Dr. Judith Dean is for real! Humble, sincere, honest. I love the fact that she doesn't put a show on for the media, no "Washington Wife" here, what you see is what you get. Her family and patients are the most important things in her life, and Howard obviously respects and loves this woman for her beliefs and values (which he also shares).

Howard Dean rocks! Finally, an honest candidate who isn't afraid to show who he is. The reason the media keeps focusing on him, is that they don't know how to deal with a "real" person with honest feelings and emotions. The media is trained that if you don't understand something, attack it. They just don't get it. Howard Dean is the real deal, not some blow-dried pre-packaged politician like Kerry.

Howard and Judith are down-to-earth, practical people. (Yes, a flowering bush for a gift makes perfect sense- pay for it once and reap the benefits of its beauty for years to come- this is a man who can balance our budget.)

Support Dean! Vote Dean! Go, Dean, Go!

Love your parents. Never feel as if they can't surprise you.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Planned Parenthood Construction Continues

By Byron LaMasters

On Wednesday, one day be fore the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the constuction of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Austin resumes after being temporarily disrupted by anti-abortion activists. The Daily Texan reports:

As abortion rights activists celebrate the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood is moving forward with construction of a southeast Austin clinic despite organized opposition from abortion opponents.

Construction on the clinic was temporarily halted by a boycott by local builders when Browning Construction left the project under pressure from anti-abortion activists, but work on the site has since resumed.

"When we made the announcement about Browning, we were overwhelmed with calls from contractors wanting to work on the project," said Danielle Tierney, Planned Parenthood spokesperson.

At the construction site, located on East Ben White Blvd., bulldozers moved dirt Wednesday afternoon while men talked near plain, white pickups.

"We made a promise to this community to guarantee access to affordable health care," Tierney said. "Building this clinic is our top priority right now."

Despite a contractor boycott conducted by Chris Danze and his organization, Planned Parenthood is back on track here in Austin because of the enormous outpouring of support by the Austin Community. Fortunately, women in Austin are lucky. There is widespread community support for a woman's right to choice and affordable healthcare. Unfortunately, in many places that is not the case. Still, Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capitol Region serves ten counties in Central Texas, the majority of which are primarily rural. Click here to support the services they provide for women in Central Texas.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gov. Wilder to Speak at UT

By Byron LaMasters

Former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder will be speaking at the University of Texas next week. Wilder, a Democrat, was the first and only African-American governor since reconstuction:

L. Douglas Wilder, former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be the keynote speaker for a symposium that will explore ways that universities can better prepare students for life in a diverse society.

Wilder, the nation’s first African American governor since Reconstruction, will join delegations from seven universities, as well as key leaders from the private sector, the military and government.

“Educating for a Diverse America: A Summit and Symposium” will take place on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin on Jan. 29-30. The symposium is one of several events on the campus commemorating the 50th anniversary of the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush a Human Rights Leader

By Byron LaMasters


He didn't free the slaves.

He didn't rid the world of Hitler.

He didn't even - like his father - preside over the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

Yet George W. Bush tells New Yorker writer Ken Auletta: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

Via Blog Free or Die, a New Hampshire based weblog.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2004

The Deans on ABC

By Andrew Dobbs

So I just watched Howard and Judy Dean on ABC's Primetime Live. It was a good interview, I would imagine that it will help to stem some of Dean's freefall in New Hampshire if it was widely watched and it might help him salvage a second place finish there. I missed the debate so I'll either watch it online or watch a rerun of it later.

Dean explained the "I Have a Scream" speech quite well and having Judy with him helped to humanize him a bit. I think that it might help assuage the "Dean is Angry" meme. There are things that are worse to be than angry- remember that at this point in the 1992 campaign Bill Clinton was a draft-dodging, dope smoking adulterer who had been the "failed governor of a small state." Still, Dean- love him or hate him- probably doesn't have 1/10th of the charisma and political instinct of Bill Clinton and George Bush the Younger is a much more astute politician than his father.

Still, according to Political Wire, Dean will do a self-depricating "Top 10 List" tonight, and that plus the interview, plus his new ads, plus the debate performance might add up to better than expected (within 5 points I'd say) in NH and could put him right back on track. Dean has to finish better than expected in NH, win 2-3 states on February 3, win Washington, Maine, finish higher than Kerry in Virginia and probably most importantly (if he lasts through all of that) win Wisconsin if he wants to be the nominee. If he screws up on any of these he's on life support, if he screws up in 2 or more, he's finished. It's a tough task but we'll see if he can do it.

Update: So I just watched the condensed debate on ABC. Dean wasn't so hot actually, but it seemed like Kerry barely got a word in edgewise between all the others. I think that Lieberman really looked good, Clark answered some questions, Edwards dodged some bullets, Kerry managed to look presidential and while Dean didn't lose any ground, it seemed like an awkward rehashing of his stump over and over again. I think he stays down in NH and he might struggle on February 3. I really don't know if he'll last beyond February 10 and I don't know if he can beat George W. Bush in November. I know that Clark probably could (btw- awesome shout out to Charlie Stenholm), Edwards probably could, Lieberman might be able to, Kerry maybe but probably not. We'll see- if he can come back, he'll be formidible.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Debate Thread

By Byron LaMasters

I'm responding to what Karl-Thomas wrote below, but for now, I'm going to watch the FOX News debate. I've probably watched less than half of the Democratic Presidential debates this cycle. Frankly, they've been boring. But, I have a feeling that tonight will be different. Everyone has something to prove. John Kerry has to prove he's the real deal. John Edwards has to prove that Iowa wasn't a fluke. Howard Dean has to prove that he can laugh at himself without looking too silly. Wesley Clark has to prove that he's not a Republican. Joe Lieberman has to prove that he's got a chance in hell and Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton get to do what they can to keep things entertaining.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Now More Than Ever? I Agree

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have waited for a couple of days before posting my thoughts on Iowa here. I wanted to see what others outside of the Iowa operation thought, and what the feelings were of other Dean supporters. I have done my looking and listening and I am thoroughly ashamed by what I see, even here on this blog, and I intend to get to that in just a moment.

Over this break, I was in New Hampshire. I was in Iowa. I experienced the campaign as a volunteer and later as the Fort Dodge, Iowa Storm Center captain. I would give up nothing, absolutely nothing to lose the experiences I was a part of these last two weeks.

I went because of the Dean campaign, not because of my natural interest in politics. I didn’t think that volunteering for the caucus, for any state operation was something that normal people could do, and I am not alone in that thinking. I saw people excited and in awe when it finally hit them that they we ordinary citizens truly can have a voice again in what has become of our democracy. We need this. Democracy needs this. The future needs this and I believe we have reached a critical point in our history that requires us to take part in this type awakening.

Since when has over 3,000 Americans coming together because they feel like they can make a difference once again, been something we can dismiss, even if their guy didn’t win first? Since when has bringing people back into the process and truly being powered by the grassroots been something to overlook?

I don’t know how much energy I would have left for some of these other Democrats because I am not simply anti-Bush, but pro-Dean at this point. A lot of people are as well, and these are people new to the process, new to politics. If we lose the Dean campaign, I feel that we are losing something much more than a candidate, we are losing the inspiration that has called to the other half of America.

Change is what helped Democrats come back in 1992. But now we are in 2004 and we need to change again because the last four years have shown us that old-politics alone hasn’t given us much. Our party has so much potential if only it would be willing to risk change. That is what should make us stronger than Republicans, the ability to accept new ideas. Deep in all our hearts, we know that type of America we want to see in the future. We cannot get there if we keep compromising ourselves.

Simply being against someone as Democrats will get us nowhere. Being for someone and what they stand up for and what they believe in… yes, that takes commitment and no, it is not easy, but it something that we can respect.

Now, to those who have posted about their teeter-tottering support for Dean because of Iowa-

It is my opinion that they have trouble standing up for what they believe in and why they were for Dean in the first place. It is my opinion that they have let themselves be swayed and influenced by the media, one of the very things that Dean’s campaign of change has focused on. It is my opinion that some have let the thinking of old-politics claim victory to the very purpose that has differentiated this campaign, this movement from the others.

Think outside of the box. What all has changed?

Do you think that Kerry will be able to escape the pigeon-holing of yet another elitist, Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Liberal by the GOP? No number of motorcycle rides, pheasant shooting, or guitar playing has been, or will be able to kill that one. Outside of New Hampshire, where is he supposed to win considering his Iowa win was a last minute consolidation of resources and concentration on old-politics structure? Those non-existent volunteers are not going to help this party. We cannot afford to pay people $100 a day to phone bank which is what was happening in Iowa, honest to God. Has Iowa changed that?

Is John Edwards our savior? He may be a charming young man but his win was only because everyone ignored him and he benefited from Gephardt’s suicide run that drug Dean right down with him. Will this war-voting, Patriot Act-authoring, public finance limiting, son of a mill worker even have enough money to keep winning primaries after February 3? Remember, any nominee will have to last until late July before cash comes back. And Texans, remember that good old frivolous lawsuit limiting Proposition 12? Did you listen to the State of the Union? Combine that Republican issue with a multi-millionaire lawyer, turned politician with an Al Gore-esque populism, once again lacking the people part of the power to the people equation… Has Iowa changed that?

General Clark, probably the man I can somewhat admire because he has that something called grassroots support, might not even see the light of day now that Dean, Kerry, and Edwards are all still in the picture after his Iowa skipping. But he too succumbed to insider top-down campaign management when he had the opportunity to let the grassroots have a larger voice. He has done a wonderful job at mimicking the Dean campaign and would be my choice should Dean never had entered the race. But Dean did enter the race and is by all means very much quite in it still. Iowa hasn’t changed that.

So, in conclusion, I have to say that while I was in disbelief, I was depressed, and I was upset- I am not jumping ship because I believe in something bigger than Howard Dean. It is in our most critical hour of need that we, as a campaign and as Americans (because we are more than just Democrats anymore) remember why we got into all this in the first place and stand by our man and what we have built together.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Senate Democrats Start Blog

By Byron LaMasters

From the Roots: Pulling the Bush Out. So far, so good... it has posts from Sen. Debbie Stabenow and an introduction from Sen. Jon Corzine.

Via Political Wire.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Howard Dean: Now More Than Ever

By Jim Dallas

There has been, on this blog and elsewhere, some hesitancy to get behind Howard Dean after the (admittedly) stunningly awful performance the good doctor gave in Iowa on Monday. Although plenty of candidates have lost and Iowa and gone on to win the presidency (to name a few, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton), rarely has the loss been so stunning; and in the past the time-table has been a little more generous; there's little less than a week to fix the Dean Machine before the New Hampshire primaries next Tuesday.

It's my strongest conviction that now is not the time to flee. Indeed, it's time to support Howard Dean -- now more than ever.

It's easy to rattle off a list of the mistakes that the Dean campaign made in the closing days of the Iowa campaign. For example, the campaign's ads were terrible and uninspired. The message got muddled by a barrage of bad press and a candidate who was blissfully unaware of the fact that his position "on the ground" was slowly going to hell (trust me on this one; if you counted the number of supposed Dean supporters on my walk list who had Edwards or Kerry signs in their front yards - signs apparently put out in the closing weeks of the campaign -- you could see that things were going badly for Dean). Moreover, the ground organization was not capable of putting the thousands of volunteers that showed up for Dean to good use. Even veteran blockwalkers, such as myself, spent about half of the time trying to figure out where in the Lord's name we were (instead of knocking on doors). Better maps -- or even better, a local liaison, would have greatly improved the ground game.

But that's all spilled milk now, and it's time to move on. That was the tone of Dean's victory/concession speech on Monday night, and nobody at the Val Air ballroom there in Des Moines thought it was a joke.

In order to understand what really happened in Iowa, you have to look beyond the mistakes Dean made and recognize that Sens. Kerry and Edwards essentially had to "reinvent" themselves to make themselves palatable to Iowa voters.

Edwards pushed himself as the White Knight candidate who was above the fray. Moreover, Edwards seems to have drawn away much of Gephardt's support after Gephardt's "suicide bomber" strategy blew up in his face. Edwards simply managed to appeal to the Genteel Wing of the Democratic Party. And yet, Edwards' criticisms of the Bush administration seems to have ramped up considerably throughout the course of the campaign.

Kerry, in so many ways, attempted to co-opt Dean's message of reform while undermining Dean personally by pushing the story that Dean was a walking-time bomb. Kerry's ads called him a "fighter". Now where have we heard that before?

(Additionally, Kerry seems to have drawn the lions' share of the vote which might have otherwise gone to Wesley Clark. Should Kerry and Dean push Clark into third place - or worse - next week in New Hampshire, Clark's decision not to compete in Iowa should probably be considered to be one of the worst political blunders in modern history).

In short, Kerry out-Deaned Dean, in a sort of contrived, establishmentarian way. And the result was that the Good Doctor lost, in the eyes of so many voters, that edge of distinctiveness that had so marked his past success.

I support Howard Dean because I still recognize the difference between Dean and the rest of the pack; to wit, that the Good Doctor is a leader. While the Dean Machine was caught flat-footed by the repositioning of the Democratic field in the closing weeks of the Iowa campaign, let's not forget the fundamental relevance of that fact.

Luckily, it appears that Dean's ad folks have clued into this, with their newest ad.

I have to agree with Byron that the fallout from Iowa could be just what the doctor ordered for Howard Dean's campaign. In many ways, I think the campaign will benefit from a week of lowered expectations (and we can hope, lessened media scrutiny).

At any rate, for those doubters out there -- why is it that Dean is so bad, when all the other candidates are trying to be Howard Dean?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:10 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Dean Campaign Shifts Gears..

By Byron LaMasters

The new theme is A Doctor Who's Delivered. The slogan reminds me of George Bush's slogan change after he lost New Hampshire to "reformer" John McCain. Afterwards, going into South Carolina, he (well Karen Hughes and Karl Rove) proclaimed himself to be a "Reformer with Results". As for Dean, his new theme (like Bush's SC theme) is heavy on biographical detail and focused on policy. It's an improvement, to say the least, but I don't think it's enough. We'll see..

Update: Howard Dean has a new ad in New Hampshire. It focuses on leadership, civil unions and standing up for what's right (opposing the war, again). I think that the idea for the ad is right - Howard Dean is a leader and he's a "Doctor that has Delivered", but the focus is off. He should focus on issues that more people can resonate with. The anti-war ads backfired in Iowa, and while this is a softer version of those, it's nothing new, and will likely have the same effect. The "Democrats were Silent" text at the end of the ad is more of the negativity that didn't work for Dean in Iowa. Does the Dean campaign get it? While signing the civil unions law was courageous, Dean would probably get more traction with an ad touting his work for health care for Vermont and focusing on his personal biography and family.

Update 2: Jim likes Dean's new ad. I don't really think that it does the trick. My thoughts aren't as negative as what Maura in VA says in a kos diary, but I agree with her more than I agree with Jim on this.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Did Kerry / Edwards Go Negative in Iowa?

By Byron LaMasters

Some Dean supporters claim that they did. I met Anna of Annatopia this summer in Dallas at some Dean events. She writes that John Kerry was push polling and that the John Edwards campaign instucted their precinct captains to spread negative attacks against Dean and Kerry at their precinct caucuses. Anna was on the ground in Iowa, so these charges could very well be true, but then again, they could just be spin from the Dean campaign. Has anyone else heard of these?

Update: Ok, well ABC News confirms the Edwards negativity, but it's nothing that I really have a big problem with. Some people might, but Edwards doesn't say anything dishonest or inappropriate in my opinion. I don't think that it has any legs, but I could be wrong.

Anyone have more info on the claims against John Kerry's push polling?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Howard Dean Remixed!

By Byron LaMasters

Does anywhere have a complete list of the Howard Dean concession speech remixes? I think they're pretty funny. Here's the ones I can find:

Barlow Farms.

The Command Post.

a preponderance of evidence.

Yeagh (mp3 file).

FarmGolf.com: Howard Dean's Crazy Train (mp3 file).

Tex Aggie 79 (mp3 file).

Any more?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Voices For Choice Rally

By Byron LaMasters

Tomorrow at 5 PM on the UT Campus. Celebrate 31 years of a woman's right to choose:

Our rally on the West Mall at 5!

Speakers will include:
Lewis Black, Editor of the Austin Chronicle
Amy Hagstrom-Miller, CEO Whole Woman's Health
Dr. Jim Rigby, Pastor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
Danielle Tierney, Director of Public Relations for Planned Parenthood of
Central Texas
Sarah Wheat, Director of Public Affairs for TARAL

We expect a great turnout, and every speaker will be excellent.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Plug From D Magazine!

By Byron LaMasters

D Magazine, a magazine covering the city of Dallas has started a blog and they've given us a nice plug.

Here's a great blog on politics from the Democratic side, published by four students at UT, called, appropriately Burnt Orange Report. It has a fairly comprehensive listing of other political blogs in the state.

Thanks! And BTW, Charles Kuffner has the best list of Texas political blogs.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Huston-Tillotson YD's Rally

By Byron LaMasters

This evening I spoke at a rally at Huston-Tillotson College in East Austin. Huston-Tillotson College is a historically African-American College (although open to all races) which recently chartered a Texas Young Democrats chapter. Being the regional director for the area, I helped them get all the resources they needed, so their president, Andrew Bucknell invited me to speak at the rally. It was quite an honor to be up there speaking with a lot of elected officials. I just spoke for a few minutes about how young people have been getting involved recently. I used the evidence of how thousands of young people descended upon Iowa to support their candidate in the Iowa caucuses and how we've established a lot of new TYD chapters in the previous months as examples. I added that young people can't afford to not get involved - when our president lies about going to war, when our leaders in the legislature tell us they didn't raise taxes, yet they taxed every college student in the state of Texas with tuition deregulation, and then with redistricting - that it is a disgrace that in my 8 minute bike ride to campus every day I now travel through three congressional districts. I went on to tell the students that they could make a difference. That there were seven presidential campaigns and a whole lot of local candidates that could use their help in the primary and that we would need their help to have our countywide slate again sweep Travis County. I also put in a plug for our two state rep. candidates against Republican incumbents here in Travis County: Kelly White and Mark Strama.

Speaking of Mark Strama, he was at the event, and I had a chance to talk to him for a little while. He's also got his webpage up and running. If you have some money to donate, he has a PayPal account set up. Strama is running against Jack Stick who was elected in 2002 for the first time. Stick represents North Austin, yet voted for the congressional redistricting map that divided Travis County into three congressional districts, of which none has a majority of its voters residing in Travis County. It is very possible, that Travis County will have no hometown representative in Congress next year, and that would be devestating for us. Anyway, Strama is looking for volunteers, so get in touch with the campaign if you're interested. His race is likely to be one of the party's targetted races in the fall and Strama probably has about the best chance of any of our challengers to knock off a Republican incumbent.

There was an interesting subtext to the event as well. Originally Lloyd Doggett was going to attend, and then Leticia Hinojosa (his primary opponent in the new 25th) was interested (although not originally invited). State Rep. Dawnna Dukes spoke at the rally as Doggett's surrogate, and said how Doggett had fought for Huston-Tillotson and for Austin and it was critical that we re-elected him. Next to speak was State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos (who has endorsed Hinojosa). He spoke of the redistricting fight and said that redistricting would have been stopped if it were not for the "traitor" John Whitmire. Harsh words, but I agree. He spoke of how Austin was split, but didn't mention Doggett or Hinojosa. I think he was scared to mention it. Doggett's been such an advocate and fighter for Austin, and Barrientos knows that he really doesn't have much of a chance convincing Austinites to vote for someone else. He blew a lot of political capitol endorsing Hinojosa and I think that he knows it.

It was good to see all of them. State Rep. Elliott Naishtat had a good speech (which I had heard before), and State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez spoke as well, as did County Commissioner Ron Davis (who is in a tough re-election fight with Celia Israel, who I met for coffee back in the fall and agreed to support).

I also got to talk to Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County Clerk for a little bit. She was there to show off the new E-Slate Voting Machines. I asked her who had the most difficulty with the new machines. It was interesting that she said that it was not elderly people who tended to like the larger print, not having to worry about chads or small bubble-in forms and the ability to look over their votes before they cast them. Young people also had little trouble with the new machines. Rather, it was middle-aged people in their forties or so that were technically challenged that had the most trouble with the machines. Interesting...

I also sat next to Gisela Triana, who I'm supporting in her primary for 200th District Court. She's a very talented, articulate, attractive up-and-comer in the party. Her primary opponent is Jan Soifer, and has a lot establishment support such as Ann Richard's endorsement, but did work as an attorney defending the 2001 Republican Legislative Redistricting map that helped Republicans win control of the state house. She says that she only did procedural work such as consolidating lawsuits and all, and that she basically had to do the work, or quit her job with her law firm. Fine, but I'll go with the solid Democrat who is a rising star in our party. Triana was born in Miami to Cuban-American immigrants and grew up as a Republican, but she quickly learned the error of her ways and has been a solid Democrat for her entire adult career. This race, I think, will boil down to a classic establishment versus the grassroots battle with the grassroots winning. Go Gisela Triana!

As the endorsement meetings approach, I'll post my recomendations for all of the local races here in Austin. There's still a few races where I haven't yet made up my mind, such as the Sheriff's race, where I'm not really familiar with any of the candidates in the primary to succeed Margo Fraiser who is retiring. I think that I'll try and make it to the Greg Hamilton Open House next Wednesday to check him out, as he is the candidate that Fraiser has endorsed, and someone I knew from a few other campaigns who is working for him tried selling him to me tonight. I'll see. I was a little turned off to see that Hamilton had been someone in the TABC which I'm not a big fan of. I think that a lot of our alcohol laws are rather dumb, but the legislature is probably more to blame than the TABC. I'll probably support Hamilton, who's the establishment choice and will probably win, but I'd like to know more about him first.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 21, 2004


By Andrew Dobbs

This will make your day

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Cheney Vs. Bush on Gay Marriage

By Byron LaMasters

President Bush last night:

On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

Dick Cheney in 2000 in the Vice Presidential debate::

MODERATOR: Senator, sexual orientation. Should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all -- all the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen?


CHENEY: This is a tough one, Bernie. The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. We shouldn't be able to choose and say you get to live free and you don't. That means people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's no one's business in terms of regulating behavior in that regard. The next step then, of course, is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction of the relationships or if they should be treated the same as a traditional marriage. That's a tougher problem. That's not a slam dunk. The fact of the matter is that matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area. I try to be open minded about it as much as I can and tolerant of those relationships. And like Joe, I'm also wrestling with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.

Has Dick Cheney changed his position on a gay marriage amendment? Or will he speak out against Bush on this?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

In Defense of Joe Lieberman

By Andrew Dobbs

Okay, so its well known that up until now I have supported Howard Dean for President and that while I am tentatively still aligned with him I am moving towards John Edwards or just a general ABB position. Still, I am dismayed at the Lieberman-bashing that I see around the web. To wit, Daily Kos has a poll up asking if you will support the Dem candidate no matter what. While "Any Democrat" is leading with 72% of the vote, "Anybody but Lieberman" is second with 17%, the only other choice with more than 2%. Many of the posts here and elsewhere savagely bash Lieberman for various positions.

So what's the big deal? Why do people hate Lieberman so much? His lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 20%, maybe a little high but fairly average for a Democrat. Dennis Kucinich had a rating of 19% before his election year switch on abortion. John Edwards is at 15%, meaning on average he votes liberal on a single additonal vote than Lieberman each year. Dick Gephardt is at 12%, meaning he's better on 2 votes. Bob Graham, who many seem to want for Vice President, is at 18%. Furthermore, 20% is better than any Republican in the US Senate by a longshot. Jim Jeffords (a former Republican) is at 26%, Olympia Snowe is at 52%, Lincoln Chafee is at 47% and John McCain is at a whopping 84%. More importantly, the liberal activist organization Americans for Democratic Action gives Lieberman an 85% on issues important to liberals in 2002, identical to John Kerry and a solid 15% higher than John Edwards.

Furthermore, Lieberman is right where it counts. The AFL-CIO gives him a lifetime rating of 82%, 113 pro-union votes to 24 non-union votes. John Kerry is only at 90%, meaning that he is only a couple of votes a year on average away from Lieberman land. The only reason he isn't much higher is because he votes right on trade issues- not selling out international capitalism to appease union bosses. Jeffords is at 46% in this rating, Chafee at 53%. Lieberman votes with the NAACP 94% of the time, the Human Rights Campaign (the largest gay rights group in the country) 100% of the time, Planned Parenthood 100% of the time, the National Right to Life Committee 0% of the time, NARAL 100% of the time, the League of Conservation Voters 88% of the time, the American Medical Association 100% of the time, the Concord Coalition 77% of the time and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform only 5% of the time. I think that someone who is pro-environment, staunchly pro-choice, pro-civil rights, pro-entitlement, pro-gay, pro-labor, pro-health care reform and votes liberal 80-85% of the time can be called a solid Democrat.

So why the resistance? Is it because he talks about values and thus sounds like a Republican? I think that it is pretty foolish that we would reject such a qualified and staunchly progressive candidate because he sounds different from most Democrats. There was a time when Democrats led this country in every meaningful way and it was because people believed we were right. They believed this because we told them that we sought better jobs, better health care, a cleaner environment, a safer world and greater opportunity for all of them not because we wanted their votes or because it would make life "easy" but because we have a moral obligation to do so. Really, values are necessary to make sense of our policies. If we aren't doing the things we want to do because they fit into some greater moral purpose, then why are we doing them? Joe Lieberman is providing a sense of where we are supposed to go and what we are supposed to do and that is valuable.

I think that his hawkishness might make some people uneasy, but Lieberman is a Kennedy Democrat. John Kennedy was a well known anti-communist and military hawk and it almost cost him the nomination. His religion and his identification as a moderate almost handed the nomination to Hubert Humphrey or Lyndon Johnson in 1960. Lieberman faces a similar task but the outcome is sure to be different because the thing he lacks that Kennedy had in great supply is gravitas. Lieberman does not excite and inspire like his ideological forebear did and that's why I don't particularly support him though I'd back him 100% if he somehow wins the nomination. If Lieberman was just slightly more engaging and if I thought he had even a slight chance at the nomination I'd probably be leaning his way rather than towards Edwards for my backup plan. As it stands, I still don't understand why a man that stands for the same things that I do and passionately fights for the core values of our party and makes sens of them in a larger context would be facing so much deep opposition.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Kerry Taking the Lead in National, NH Tracking Polls

By Byron LaMasters

Expect John Kerry to be leading most New Hampshire tracking polls by tomorrow, and definitely by Friday. While Dean leads Kerry by two points currently in three major tracking polls in NH, Kerry overtook Dean yesterday in each of the three.

For example, in the three day (1/18-1/20) tracking poll by the American Research Group, Dean leads Kerry 26% to 24%. However, I expect that by tomorrow, Kerry will have a lead. Of those polled yesterday, Kerry led by five points:

While Howard Dean has a 2 percentage-point lead over John Kerry in the 3-day average, Kerry has a 1 percentage-point lead in the 2-day average (sample size of 508 likely Democratic primary voters) and Kerry has a 5 percentage-point lead in the one-day sample on January 20 (the sample size of 302 likely Democratic voters, theoretical margin of error ± 6 percentage points).

Dean also leads the Zogby three day Tracking Poll in NH by two points - 25% to 23%. But again, yesterday's poll numbers had Kerry ahead.

Pollster John Zogby: In the one night of polling (Tuesday) after the Iowa caucus, Kerry actually led Dean by 2 points. Clark has slid a point a day, since Sunday, significantly. As Dean drops, undecided jumped to 20 points on Tuesday alone. This is not unusual, as voters re-think their support for a candidate; they often shift to undecided first.

Also, the Suffolk University poll gives Dean a 22% to 20% lead over Kerry in its two-day tracking poll. However, yesterday's polling showed Kerry leading by three points:

In calls made just on Tuesday, January 20th, Kerry actually led Dean by a 24%-21% margin. However, the error rate on the one-day 200 interview sub sample is +/- 6.93%.

Finally, Rasmussen Reports National Tracking Poll shows Dean leading Kerry 20% to 18%, but with Kerry surging Tuesday:

the single night of tracking on Tuesday, the day after Iowa, Kerry leads Dean 25% to 15%. North Carolina Senator John Edwards is essentially even with Dean at 14% and retired General Wesley Clark is in fourth at 12%.

Certainly a trend here. If Dean doesn't get a bounce out of New Hampshire, he's going to have a hard time finding victories on February 3rd. Assuming Kerry's lead over Dean holds past the initial post-Iowa surge, we'll soon be looking to see if Clark or Edwards makes a surge in NH to possibly overtake Dean. Dean needs a makeover. He needs to do something new and big and he needs to do it now, because he's in trouble.

Poll links via kos and Political Wire.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

More on the Special Election in SD 1

By Byron LaMasters

Paul Sadler led the field yesterday in the special election in State Senate District 1 despite being the target of $400,000 in negative attack ads. The Dallas Morning News reports:

In Senate District 1, Mr. Sadler attributed his showing to his experience in the Legislature, where as chairman of the House Public Education Committee he authored major school reform measures and passed the first teacher health insurance program in Texas.

"There are only 31 state senators, and the Senate is no place for a novice," Mr. Sadler said in a reference to Mr. Eltife, who has not served in the Legislature.

Mr. Sadler also said many voters rejected negative ads run against him by Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a group that favors Republicans and pushes for limits on civil lawsuits.

"A third-party group dropped about $400,000 worth of negative ads against me and we still maintained strong support from voters," he said. "We're very excited about where we are and where we're going in this race."


Competition in the race was fierce as Mr. Sadler, Mr. Eltife and Mr. Merritt spent heavily on television and radio ads to gain an edge in a contest that didn't start in earnest until after New Year's Day. Nearly a million dollars had been raised by the candidates in early January.

Mr. Eltife was favored by the state's Republican establishment and received hefty donations from some of the chief GOP contributors in Texas. His latest campaign finance reports showed contributions of nearly $640,000.

Because he was not targeted, he also benefited from the negative ads that were run by third party groups against Mr. Sadler and Mr. Merritt.

Mr. Sadler counted on support from teachers and other educators as well as Democrats in the area to push his vote total up. He raised $440,000 in campaign contributions, including donations from leading law firms in the state.

Responding to the attacks from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the Democrat ran one television commercial that featured three Republicans – President Bush, Mr. Perry and Mr. Ratliff – praising Mr. Sadler for his work on public education issues.

Paul Sadler is running a strong campaign. His approach is working. He's campaigning on traditional Democratic issues such as public education, health insurance for children, jobs and economic growth. And Paul Sadler has a record of accomplishment on those issues from his experience in the State House. In addition, Sadler is stressing his "East Texas values", co-opting more traditionally conservative issues such as gun rights (PDF file) and family and religion (PDF file). It's a solid campaign and Sadler can win the runoff next month if we chip in to help.

Update: Run-off elections are all about turnout. Here's a great example of a similar situation (mentioned in the comment threads) in the runoff election for LA-6 in December 2002 where Rep. Rodney Alexander went from 29% of the vote in the open primary. Republicans won 68% of the combined vote in the primary, but one month later, Alexander won the election with 51%. Here's the CNN results:

PRIMARY RESULTS: November 2002
Alexander DEM 52,451 29%
Fletcher REP 45,044 24%
Holloway REP 42,346 23%
Barham REP 34,325 19%
Melton DEM 4,534 2%
Wright REP 3,659 2%
Mouser Other 1,136 1%

RUNOFF RESULTS: December 2002:
86,718 50% Rodney Alexander, D Elected
85,744 50% Lee Fletcher, R Defeated

Special Elections are all about turnout. Sadler can win if Democrats get out and vote.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bush Comes Out for Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

By Byron LaMasters

Nothing like another wedge issue. I was happy that the vast majority of Democrats remained seated during this, as most Republicans rose to applaud Bush as he called for a constitutional amendment to stop gay marriage:

On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

Good for the Democats. The right-wing will never get 67 votes in the senate. A majority, maybe, but no way they get 67. Gay marriage will happen in America. It's only a matter of time. Who would have thought ten or twenty years ago that gay people like myself could live openly and be loved and accepted by my family and friends, gay and straight, at work and in school. I am, and I'm proud of that. And I'm grateful for the gay and lesbian activists that came before me that have given me the opportunities and acceptance that I have today, and while I realize that gay marriage in America is a incremental process, it will happen in my lifetime.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:30 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

My thoughts on Iowa

By Byron LaMasters

I promised to write on Iowa last night on my Dick Gephardt post. Dick Gephardt's withdraw was about the only thing that I called before last night. I was tempted to put Kerry 1st (I called Dean beating Kerry by two points), but I convinced myself that Dean's organization would carry him through. My projections were slightly better than Andrew's, but I'm sufficiently embarrassed about my own predictions, I don't think I'll brag about it.

Anyway, last night has left me rethinking my support for Howard Dean. I worked until 11 PM or so, so I missed the caucus night television coverage, but I flipped through channels when I got home and eventually settled on C-SPAN for awhile. They replayed the speeches of the major candidates on the Iowa results. I tuned in a few minutes into John Edwards speech, then proceeded to watch Howard Dean's, Dick Gephardt's and John Kerry's speeches. My thoughts?

John Edwards was impressive. He repeated his campaign themes, thanked everyone he needed to thank. He congratulated John Kerry, noted that he had talked to Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich and then praised Dick Gephardt.

Dick Gephardt had a speech that almost brought me to tears. I never supported the man for president, but it's sad to see someone who has fought so hard for so long for working people get trounced the way he did. His speech was so classy, thanking friends and family, offering whoever was the Democratic nominee anything and everything that he could offer, and just embracing his supporters even as his political career was ending. Such poise.

John Kerry did the typical John Kerry speech. It was very long. He came across as a New England elitist, but he had a good message. He looked like a winner, though, and was full of praise for Dick Gephardt as well. Did I mention his speech was long?

Howard Dean. Well, he came in third. Not a close third, but a third that was less than half of Kerry's total. And he was 14% behind Edwards. Ouch. Now, unlike Gephardt, such results did not spell the end to his campaign, however, it was definitely not a good night. So, when I watched Dean's speech I was perplexed. Why is he acting like he won? He looked like he was on speed, the way he came out and high fived Tom Harkin and took off this jacket and rolled up his sleeves. The way he grabbed the American flag and started waving it and started shouting to the point in which it became shrill. While I'm not a fan of Drudge's politics most of the time, he called this one right (audio file). Dean went nuts. He acted as if he were the winner when he was anything but. Sure, he wanted to fire up his supporters and volunteers, but when you're on national television and a lot of people are hearing you for the first time - you look silly acting like you won when you got your butt kicked, especially when just a week or two everyone thought you would win. Finally, I felt that the way that he called out the states of his opponents, and said how he would take his campaign there was just... unprofessional, and more importantly unpresidential.

So why did Dean lose... bad? Dean had it all. He had spent millions of dollars on television ads, and had thousands of volunteers to get out the vote. How did he lose so bad? Dean did a lot of things wrong. Most significant of all is his attack ad in the last week of the campaign against "Washington Democrats" like Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards. While he attacked "Washington Democrats" for supporting the war, he campaigned with one (who voted for the war resolution) - Tom Harkin. That's pretty hypocritical. And to add to that, his ad wasn't very good. Dean's had a few good ads, such as the one responding to first Club for Growth ad attacking him as someone who would raise taxes and all. That was well done. But the Dean ads having him just talk into the camera with a blank background are pretty pathetic. On a broader scale, Dean never really adjusted to the role of frontrunner. He was great as the insurgent underdog. He had grassroots support, and lots of money, but as a frontrunner, every move he made was scrutinized. Every gaffe was reported. And he never shifted his campaign to be one of a frontrunner. He continued to run as an insurgent outsider even as he won the support of Al Gore, Tom Harken, dozens of congressmen and won the blessing of Jimmy Carter. Well, that's a problem. On one hand, Dean embraced the establishment. On the other, he ran from "Washington Democrats". That left his message muddled. Finally, he got caught up in negative attacks in Iowa. Instead of projecting a positive message for Iowans as John Kerry and John Edwards did in the closing days of the Iowa battle, Dean attacked and got angry - and in doing so reinforced the negative images that people have about him. And he did it again last night.

Will Dean rebound? Maybe. I don't know. I took off my Dean bumber sticker today for the second time (the first time was when I thought I might support Clark a few months ago). I'm honestly not sure who I'll support now. I'm still probably more likely to support Howard Dean than anyone else, but I'm going to wait and see.

My feelings last night were mixed. I was disappointed to see Dean lose, but in retrospect, I'm almost glad that he did. If Dean wins the nomination, he'll be a much stronger candidate because he will have fought back, found his message, won over the doubters and will have found a way to unite the Democratic Party. If Dean doesn't win the nomination, we'll have a nominee who fought back when everyone counted him out, be in Kerry, Edwards or Clark. I'd happily support any of those four, as one of them will be our nominee.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:15 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 20, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

With Dick Gephardt's fourth place finish last night, we may have witnessed the end of the the end of the Democratic Party's reliance upon the old-line industrial unions. With declining union membership each year, especially in the manufacturing sector, unions must become more savvy in their approach, and the SEIU is doing just that. Check out their new blog.

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

Sadler Leads Going into Runoff

By Byron LaMasters

With 88% of the precincts reporting, Democrat Paul Sadler leads the race in the special election for Texas Senate District 1 special election forced by the resignation of Republican Bill Ratliff:


State Senator, District 1 - Unexpired Term

Kevin Eltife REP 7,613 35.71% 23,431 36.53%

Bill Godsey REP 112 0.53% 484 0.75%

Tommy Merritt REP 4,580 21.48% 13,664 21.30%

Paul Sadler DEM 8,590 40.29% 25,042 39.04%

Daryl Ware CON 130 0.61% 436 0.68%

Jerry Yost REP 294 1.38% 1,092 1.70%
--------------- ---------------

Vote Total 21,319 64,149

Early Provisional Ballots Reported 7

Provisional Ballots Reported 55

Precincts Reported 276 of 313 Precincts 88.18%

Sadler will face former Tyler mayor Kevin Eltife in the runoff next month.

The special election for State Senate District 31 will feature two Republicans in the runoff. The west Texas district is heavily Republican, so that's no surprise. Regardless, good news tonight. Democrats have a great shot at taking back senate district 1!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Heading back from Iowa

By Jim Dallas

I want to apologize to the readers about not blogging from Iowa. I simply had too much to do and the signal quality from Camp Texas was not sufficient for me to do much besides make a quick note over on dailykos.com.

Dean coming in third was something of a surprise; although walking around suggested that Kerry and Edwards late surge was definitely real.

Nonetheless, I'm pretty darn proud of Gov. Dean and our campaign for doing as well as we did, and I've got to say this is one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had.

We're outside of Denton now. I got some close up shots of the governor last night, and hopefully I can get them posted soon.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dick Gephardt

By Byron LaMasters

I have many thoughts on the returns of the Iowa Cacauses tonight, but right now I want to focus on Dick Gephardt. I never supported his candidacy for the Presidency, however, when I watched his concession speech tonight when I got home, I almost cried. I remember watching Dick Gephardt in the impeachment debate in 1998 and i was inspired. It was the first time that I had heard Richard Gephardt speak, and he inspired me. He's a great American, and he has been a great fighter for our party. This inspired me in 1998:

Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., the House minority leader, said men were imperfect, and he asked Livingston not to resign, for a moment drawing a bipartisan standing ovation. "Our founding fathers created a system of government of men, not of angels," Gephardt said, his face reddening with emotion as he spoke. "No one standing in this House today can pass a puritanical test of purity that some are demanding that our elected leaders take. If we demand that mere mortals live up to this standard, we will see our seats of government lay empty and we will see the best, most able people unfairly cast out of public service."

Thank you, Dick Gephardt, and thank you for your service to America. You've been a great leader and a great fighter and we'll contine the fight.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 19, 2004

Kerry Carries Iowa

By Andrew Dobbs

Well color me wrong... final tally (or close to it) will be:

Kerry 38
Edwards 32
Dean 18
Gephardt 11
Kucinich 1

Jeez... what a bad night for me. Well, Dean isn't done yet but New Hampshire is going to be a dog fight. Remember though that New Hampshire is pretty stubborn and rarely goes for the same guy as Iowa. In 2000 the GOP saw Bush in IA and McCain in NH, in 1992 for the Dems we saw Harkin in the uncontested IA and Tsongas in NH. In 1988 we saw Gephardt in IA and Dukakis in NH for the Dems and Dole in IA and Bush in NH for the GOP. I think that the Edwards and Kerry rises really puts a dent in the Clark phantom rally which I think came from being one of only two guys in NH. Perhaps the three of them are enough to split the vote and hand the Granite State to Dean. Still, things are not nearly as rosy for the governor as they were 2 weeks ago.


Gephardt, of course, is done. It's a shame. I didn't support him but he's a good man and served his country admirably. I hope that he is around still in some capacity, as I suspect he will be.

Kerry is flying high but remember that the only reason he had enough money for IA is because he mortgaged his home and took other dramatic measures. If he wins NH (increasingly likely) next week, his fundraising problems will be unimportant- he will be on the fast track to the nomination.

Edwards might even be flying higher because he so stunningly outperformed his expectations. I think he'll take a pass on New Hampshire and focus on South Carolina, Missouri and Oklahoma. If Kerry doesn't win NH and Edwards can win SC and one other come in 2nd in the other of these three and have consistent top 3 finishes everywhere else (AZ, NM, ND and DE), he'll be the front runner I believe.

Dean is struggling pretty hardcore- like I said he is still alive, but if he doesn't win NH, I'd say he's finished. It hurts me to say it but this race will boil down to that. If he does win NH, it will then be a Dean/Kerry/Edwards race and after February 3 I suspect a Dean/Edwards race. If he loses to Kerry it'll be Kerry's to lose with Edwards nipping at his heels, if he loses to Clark it will be Kerry/Clark/Edwards. You'll notice that the common denominator is Edwards, who suddenly is in this thing again.

Clark is really in trouble- Kerry's surge will cut into his growth in New Hampshire and Edwards' surge will cut into him in South Carolina and elsewhere. Clark has to win New Hampshire and South Carolina to be viable and I think he can't win either now.

Lieberman is still a longshot and I think that his position is neither strengthened nor weakened which is to say he'll be done either January 29th or February 4th.

Kucinich will probably be done but might go through the motions just to get a good speaking spot at the convention.

Ditto with Sharpton.

Having said all that I'd given up looking for a second place choice a while ago. It'd change every week. But now, having seen all these candidates in action and having thought about who would make a good candidate and a good president, I think that if Dean loses New Hampshire and thus drops out I will become a committed supporter of John Edwards. He is positive, intelligent, well-spoken, attractive and a very good candidate to hold up next to Bush. I would hope that perhaps Gov. Dean would be considered for his running mate but barring that, I hope for either Wes Clark, Phil Bredesen, Mark Warner or Mary Landrieu. I still think that we are in this thing (Dean that is) but I have to start making some back up plans.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:10 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Ok, I'll bite

By Byron LaMasters

This is a shot in the dark, but I'm about to head to work and won't be back until 11 PM or so, so I'll shoot.

Byron's Iowa Predictions...

1. Howard Dean 28%
2. John Kerry 26%
3. Dick Gephardt 23%
4. John Edwards 20%

Turnout: 150,000

Gephardt drops out this week, Dean and Kerry have the Mo' going into New Hampshire, Edwards readies for South Carolina showdown...

So, anyway, as the returns come in tonight, yall are welcome to laugh at me. The Iowa Democratic Party will post the returns here.

Here's what Andrew Predicts:

1. Howard Dean 30%
2. Dick Gephardt 25%
3. John Edwards 23%
4. John Kerry 22%

Turnout will be record- 140,000

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

Politicians should really just not talk about diapers. It only gets them in trouble. Ask John Cooksey. Now, ask John Kerry stuck his foot in his mouth with a failed diaper swipe. CNN reports:

Sen. John Kerry took a swipe Sunday at rival presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, painting himself as more mature and experienced -- in exaggerated terms.

Asked by a young woman at an event at Des Moines Area Community College why she should vote for him and not for Edwards, the 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran from Massachusetts talked about his experience and then said, "When I came home from Vietnam in 1969, I don't know if John Edwards was out of diapers then yet or not, I'm totally not sure. I don't know." Kerry then appeared to rethink the issue, and said, "He was by then, it was earlier."

A few minutes later, Kerry appeared to regret the initial comment, saying, "I think the difference [between the candidates] is the level of preparedness and experience to be able to get the job done, and I truly don't want to be negative about anybody. That comment I made was not meant to be negative. I don't want to go that road.

It would be one thing if John Edwards really was in diapers in 1969. But, no:

Edwards, 50, was 16 in 1969.


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Help Take Back Senate District 1!

By Byron LaMasters

Remember, the vote is tomorrow. From the Paul Sadler Campaign and Save Texas Reps:

1 More Day Until Democrats Take Back Senate District 1 in East Texas!

We lost the battle over redistricting, but the war goes on. You can help
Democratic Senate candidate Paul Sadler win back state senate seat for the

The special election to fill the vacancy in Senate District 1 in Northeast
Texas is tomorrow, Jan. 20! Former State Representative Paul Sadler
(D-Henderson) is in a tight race to take back that senate seat against two
republicans that both supported redistricting.

East Texas hero Sen. Bill Ratliffe was one of the only GOP officials in
Austin to stand for his constituents and oppose redistricting. It's up to
us to make sure his sucessor puts his constituents first, partisanship

Whether you come to East Texas to help on Election Day or log on to Paul’s
website and make a contribution from the comfort of your own home, YOU can
be a part of the winning Democratic team. This is our first chance since
the partisan Republican redistricting power grab to send a message to Tom
DeLay, Rick Perry and Republicans in Austin via the ballot box.

Here are some things you can do to help:!

Make a contribution to help purchase campaign advertisements or feed
election day volunteers!

You can easily contribute online
(https://www.onlinecontribution.com/psadler/donate.php) or call the
campaign headquarters at 903-938-7670.

Make calls in East Texas at the Paul Sadler Campaign Phonebank or
Volunteer to work on Election Day in SD 1. To work at the phonebank or
volunteer on Election Day, Tuesday, Jan. 20, contact the Sadler campaign
at: 903-938-7670 or email: Info@SadlerforSenate.com
Learn more about Democratic Senate Candidate Paul Sadler at:

Sadler For Senate

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

An Iowa Alliance: Kucinich and Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

FOX News just interviewed a Kucinich spokesman who said that Dennis Kucinich was asking his supporters in Iowa caucuses where Kucinich was not viable (meaning he receives less than 15% of the preliminary support in the caucus) to support John Edwards. In turn, Edwards supporters in caucuses where Kucinich is viable and Edwards are not would back Kucinich. I can't find anything on FOX News or Google on the web yet, but according to a kos diary, it's also been reported on MSNBC.

At first glance this makes little sense. John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich probably have the least in common ideologically of the five candidates competing in Iowa. The official reason given by the Kucinich campaign was that Edwards and Kucinich were the only candidates running positive campaigns in Iowa and that they both had a lot of respect for each other. Strategically, however, this move makes sense for both candidates.

First of all, Edwards and Kucinich have different bases in Iowa. This is significant because there are likely to be a number of places in Iowa where both candidates can benefit from this deal. Kucinich will probably meet the 15% viability threshhold in caucuses in the university towns such as Ames and Iowa City, where Edwards may have trouble reaching 15%. In Edwards strongholds, said to be in the rural, more conservative and western parts of the state, Kucinich is very unlikely to meet the 15% creditability threshhold, but a few votes in individual caucuses will help Edwards.

Second, while Kucinich has no realistic shot of winning the Democratic nomination, he knows that his support will increase (and he can win more delegates and influence at the convention) if the more liberal candidates are knocked out. Many people who would be inclined to support Dennis Kucinich because of his opposition to the war in Iraq instead supported Dean. If for some reason Dean is knocked out of the race, Dennis Kucinich would be the only candidate in the race who actively opposed the war in Iraq last Spring, and some of Dean's anti-war supporters would gravitate towards Kucinich. While politically it makes more sense for Kucinich supporters to support Dean where Kucinich doesn't meet the viability threshhold, strategically, at least from the perspective of the Kucinich campaign, it does not. Likewise, it's in Kucinich's interest to knock out Dick Gephardt, as Gephardt is the only other candidate who has a long and consistent pro-labor and anti-NAFTA record. The same thing goes for Gephardt. If he is knocked out of the race, Dennis Kucinich would be the only candidate in the race who actively opposed NAFTA and the WTO, and some of Gephardt's labor supporters would gravitate towards Kucinich. As for Kerry, he has a consistently liberal record in the Senate and it is in Dennis Kucinich's strategic interests to knock him out of the race, because Kucinich has a better chance of racking up votes and delegates if he is in a race in the late primaries with a more conservative candidate such as Joe Lieberman or John Edwards.

Will this be a factor? Or will Kucinich supporters just go ahead and move to Dean? Who knows. We'll find out tonight.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2004

Final Iowa Predictions

By Andrew Dobbs

Here's how it will break down:

1. Howard Dean 30%
2. Dick Gephardt 25%
3. John Edwards 23%
4. John Kerry 22%

Turnout will be record- 140,000

Why? Dean and Gephardt have the best ground organizations and have good hard counts to work from. This means that they are already at a huge advantage that polls simply can't show. Three factors contribute to Dean having such a substantial lead over Gep. First, he is outpolling him in almost all of the public polls by at least a couple of poins. Second, he will almost certainly get at least 2/3 of the Kucinich and Sharpton realigners and a significant number of Clark supporters- those numbers add up quickly. Thirdly, he will be bringing in a huge number of unidentified voters- his people say that they have probably 60% first time Caucus-goers for their hard count and these people are skipped by pollsters. This puts Dean on top.

Gephardt is next simply because he is the only other candidate that has made good use of the voter file, has a strong hard count and good mobilization. Strong on his heels though are Edwards and Kerry. I wanted to put Kerry third because of his strong poll numbers and his stronger organization but essentially both the Johns have the same strategy- Election Day flying blind vs. Longterm Nose Counting (Dean and Gep). Edwards is surging and has become an inspiring candidate. Hell, I like the guy a lot now and if he'd been doing this well 2-3 months ago I might be on a different side now. He'll get most of the Clarkers I think and probably the majority of the Lieberman supporters. All of this makes him a close third and the second biggest story of the night. After Dean's surprisingly easy victory it'll be Edwards out-doing his own expectations. Expect to hear the oft-related statistic that no one who finished lower than 3rd in Iowa has ever gone on to the nomination since their rise to prominence in 1972 and expect Edwards' place among the Iowa 3 to be a big boost for him.

So what will it mean? Gephardt will be finito and Kerry will be on life support. Dean will regain the "front-runner" title but Edwards now becomes the leading insurgent and will most likely cut into Clark's momentum in New Hampshire. This sews up the Granite State for Dean and then February 3 becomes the battleground. Dean will struggle through this day, probably picking up North Dakota, Delaware and maybe Arizona, Missouri and New Mexico while Clark and Edwards battle for South Carolina and Oklahoma. Whoever comes out on top between the two of them- 1st place finishes in SC and OK, 2nd place finishes in ND and DE and surprise victories or better than expected finishes everywhere else- will survive, the other will be finished. Dean and the Southerner trudge through the next several states but it'll either be over on February 17 when Wisconsin goes for Dean or March 2nd when Dean kicks butt on Super Tuesday. Either way, Dean is the nominee, the Southerner would do well to unite the party and run for VP and we'll be off to the races against Bush!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 11:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 17, 2004

What the heck is Going on in Iowa?

By Byron LaMasters

If I knew the answer, I'd be a genius. But I don't, which explains why I haven't done too much posting on the caucuses up there, despite the fact that I've been totally fascinated by the race in Iowa. I've been addicted to Google News on Iowa and I've read several dozen articles on the race everyday for the past few days (in addition to the blogs, etc.). I frankly haven't known what to say. This is one of these races where the only way to really be able to understand what's going on would be to be there in the state. A week ago everything seemed pretty clear. Howard Dean had a narrow lead over Dick Gephardt, who had a narrow lead over John Kerry who had a narrow lead over John Edwards. That's where we stood on January 8th where those candidates polled 29-25-18-8 in the KCCI poll and 25-23-15-14 in the Zogby Tracking Poll two days later. The dynamics of the race have completely changed since then. Then, the race was not one, but two races. The race between Gephardt and Dean for first and the race between Kerry and Edwards for third. Then, the buzz was about whether Gephardt would be able to consolidate the anti-Dean vote and ride it to victory. Would Kerry and Edwards all but throw in the towel to deny Dean? Or would Dean work to help Edwards secure third place. After all, a Dean-Gephardt-Edwards-Kerry (or Dean-Edwards-Gephardt-Kerry) finish is, in my opinion, the best possible scenario for Dean. Such a showing would be a knock out blow (or close to one) to both Gephardt and Kerry. Meanwhile, an Edwards finish of second or third would prop Edwards up for a strong showing in the February 3rd primaries, likely taking votes away from Dean's most feared rival - Wesley Clark. So, what now? Throw it all out the window.

I'm smart enough not to make any predictions for Iowa. Ok, I lied. I still think that a Dean-Gephardt-Kerry-Edwards finish is the most likely. But I'm much less sure of that guess than I am of my prediction that all four will be within several thousand votes, and the margins between the first and second, second and third, or third and fourth could easily be in the hundreds.

Perhaps the most interesting question, however is how has Howard Dean fallen 5-7 points and seen his lead evaporate in the same week that he scored the endorsements of Tom Harkin, Ann Richards and Carol Moseley Braun? On the surface, that would be considered one hell of a week. Beneath that, however, has been other problems. While I think that Dean's comments about Iowa four years ago hurt him, I think the most significant problem was the fact that both Dean and Gephardt were perceived as running highly negative campaigns, something that both realized today were hurting them, as both Gephardt and Dean have agreed to pull their attack ads. The Gephardt-Dean negative ads appear to have driven the undecides towards Kerry and Edwards. The endorsement of Edwards by the Des Moines Register certainly helped him as well. Still, even if Zogby is giving Kerry a 5-point lead, Dean and Gephardt have much more extensive ground opperations than the surging Edwards and Kerry do. Even more significant is Dean's support that probably hasn't been identified in traditional polling. Students that use cell phones (yeah, there's a lot of us out there) are undercounted, and Dean has heavily courted them. Of course the big question is if these young people and students will actually vote. But if they do - they'll be a sizeable force. Just look at what's happened in Johnson County:

Polk County, the state's most populous, has seen the number of people registering or switching parties in the past six months increase 10 percent over such activity four years ago. Johnson County has seen its new registrations in the last six months jump 300 percent from the same period four years ago - largely attributed to students at the University of Iowa.

Those new voters could help former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, one of the leading Democratic candidates, a U of I political scientist said.

"We've been speculating that Dean was more active in bringing new people into the process than any of the other candidates," said Peverill Squire. "That would seem to bode well for Dean."

Overall voter registration numbers are inconclusive. More than 90,000 Iowans registered to vote in the past 10 months, according to Culver's office.

The increase in voter registration is unusual at this stage, according to election observers. They say that most new registrations in a caucus year typically occur on the night of the precinct gatherings.

So what's your prediction? I'd love to hear from Karl and Jim (both of whom are in Iowa as Dean Texas Rangers) on this...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:21 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 16, 2004

Frost Announces

By Byron LaMasters

I just got home from the announcement press conference. Martin Frost confirmed what we've known pretty much all week. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Democratic Congressman Martin Frost vowed to defeat incumbent Republican congressman Pete Sessions after announcing for Sessions' 32nd District seat.

"I do not intend to abandon the people of North Texas," Mr. Frost, the 13-term congressman said in announcing his intentions at Union Station in downtown Dallas this afternoon. "This will be a tough, hard-fought race, but I believe we are going to win.

"I'm a fighter. I refuse to accept no for answer."

Mr. Frost, whose current 24th District was sliced up into many parts under the new redistrict plan, chose to run against Mr. Sessions in one of only two districts wholly contained within Dallas County. The district stretches from North Oak Cliff, taking in West Dallas, parts of Grand Prairie and Irving and winds through northwest and North Dallas. It also includes the Republican-friendly Park Cities.

The race will be an uphill fight for Frost. There is a chance that he'll beat Sessions, but he'll need to register and turn out thousands of new Hispanic and other minority voters in West Dallas and Oak Cliff along with getting a significant cross-over vote in North Dallas. It'll be a fun race to follow regardless. Personally, I'm happy to see Frost run in the 32nd, because the first political campaign that I ever volunteered for was the 2000 campaign for Pete Sessions' opponent, (then in the 5th district) Regina Montoya Coggins. I've always held Pete Sessions in extremely low regard, so it'll be nice to see him sweat a little bit.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 15, 2004

CBS Rejects Move On Ad, Let Them Know How You Feel!

By Andrew Dobbs

Via Atrios CBS has indeed decided to reject the MoveOn.org ad decrying the Bush Administration's fiscal irresponsibility. I reported on this yesterday and gave all the information to help you contact the company and let them know you want to see the Bush in 30 Seconds ad. Now the threats have come to fruition:

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Viacom's CBS today rejected a request from liberal group MoveOn to air a 30-second anti-President Bush ad during the Super Bowl, saying the spot violated the network's policy against running issue advocacy advertising.

A CBS spokesman said the decision against broadcasting the spot had nothing to do with either the Super Bowl or the ad's specific issue but was because the network has had a long-term policy not to air issue ads anywhere on the network.

Sounds fair, until you realize that its a lie. No fewer than 3 advocacy ads will be shown during the Super Bowl. Please contact CBS and let them know where we stand

Their advertising sales department can be emailed here, CBS parent company Viacom's non-management directors can be contacted here and just to be on the safe side, call or mail them:

CBS Television Network
51 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Main Number:

CBS News
555 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019
Main Number (National):

To the phones!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 11:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Donate to Stenholm

By Andrew Dobbs

Unfortunately I was unable to go to Iowa for the caucuses, though it had been my plan for some time. Oh well... life goes on and just in case you didn't notice, we have some hellacious fights on our hand here in Texas.

Charlie Stenholm has decided to run for reelection in the Texas 19th Congressional District. Though it is designed to be unwinnable, Stenholm is a conservative Democrat who has served in GOP leaning districts for a long time. He is the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee and leader of the Blue Dog Coalition. Though he is more conservative than any of the authors of this page, he is a staunch Democrat who criticized Ralph Hall and others for leaving the party. His lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 71%, but that is pretty misleading as since the GOP takeover in 1995 he has averaged only 54%. He is an old school populist- he wants health care, Social Security, veterans benefits, farm supports and the like for his constituents but is pro-life, pro-military and is a budget hawk.

Stenholm is running against a lackey of Tom Craddick named Randy Neubarger who has served only 1 term. This rural district would be better represented by a conservative Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committe than by the conservative sophomore. Furthermore there is one vote that counts the most and when the session convenes Stenholm will cast his vote for a Democrat for Speaker. Contribute to his campaign here and ensure strong leadership for West Texas.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 08:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On the road with Dean's Texas Rangers

By Jim Dallas

I'm here right now in Houston where we're I'm sitting in a big, mostly empty charter bus headed to Des Moines, Iowa. This is, after all, the first stop -- there are lots of folks to pick up in Spring and Dallas -- of the 14 hour trip. So it'll be pretty tight once we get to Iowa tomorrow morning.

Once again, the Texas Dean campaign is sending up volunteers to get-out-the-vote for Howard Dean in next week's Iowa caucuses.

In addition to blogging the trip for burnorangereport.com, I've been appointed by my little sister's first grade class to show their travelling teddy bear (a teddy bear which is sent with the kids' family members on interesting trips) about how a presidential campaign works. "Island Bear" is also going to learn about the great state of Iowa.

As part of that, I've packed some ham radio gear which will allow my computer to automatically report our position (presuming the thing works, of course). If it does, you can look up Island Bear's current latitude and longitude via APRSWorld.Net.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Live!...from Iowa

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Greetings all back in the Lone Star State. I am currently in Des Moines, Iowa in the hub of state activity for the Dean campaign, awaiting the arrival of the 200+ Texas Rangers coming in the next couple of days.

I actually was in Manchester, New Hampshire for some time last week and it has been an experience to canvass and work in both states to see the different styles of operation.

NH- Slower paced, methodical, colder.
IA- Fast paced, hectic, 5 days to caucus fever.

The pollsters and the pundits are talking it up about how the race is tightening in Iowa. I'm not sure that I see that reflected here and I get the feeling it's all based off of Zogby's tracking poll. I just don't see how someone drops 7-9 points in two days when there hasn't been any major events to shift the political landscape. The Braun news and Carter on Sunday, combined with the All Star Bus tour, Harkin endorsing ads on the radio, and 3000 volunteers coming into the state is going to make a difference that the polls are not picking up soon enough.

It is my feeling, being on the inside but not too far in, that the actual vote is not reflective of the polls. Polling for caucuses is harder than for primaries. In this contest, there are many new voters going to caucus that have not before. I know, I've seen it first hand and keep hearing it from the field. These people are not your "likely Democratic Caucus goers". Many of them are Independents as well, not being targeted by pollsters or most of the other candidates.

In addition the polls don't take into account all the work that is going in this weekend. We have Dean people everywhere...

Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa, Waterloo, Ames, Boone, Mason City, Burlington, Sioux City, Fort Dodge... and there are of course lower level places where people are being forwarded to. No other campaign is matching that canvassing power.

Being conservative, if even 2,500 volunteers knock on 150 doors each for the weekend (I knocked on 100 a day in my experience), that is 375,000 doors. If we get the 35% contact rate that is typical, that is just over 130,000 people. Then, if we even get a measly 10% of them to be IDed as Dean supporters, in addition to getting many to become leaning Dean going into the caucus, that's over 10,000 new people this weekend alone.

The most Democrats that have ever shown up are estimated to be 125,000 in 1988 (which are claimed to be inflated as well). So a 10% bounce on the weekend is not entirely impossible. The other candidates do not have that capability; Gephardt is the only one who comes close with his Union support (though it seems to end at that).

Yes, these numbers seem like the usual overblown expectations. But this time, the people and the estimates are based on facts from reality. I could be wrong, but I will say now that I think that the eventual Caucus delegate results are not going to reflect what the polls and pundits are now chattering about.

That's the latest from the field.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

$1.5 Billion to Save Marriage

By Byron LaMasters

Now, this is really stupid:

For months, administration officials have worked with conservative groups on the proposal, which would provide at least $1.5 billion for training to help couples develop interpersonal skills that sustain "healthy marriages."

The officials said they believed that the measure was especially timely because they were facing pressure from conservatives eager to see the federal government defend traditional marriage, after a decision by the highest court in Massachusetts. The court ruled in November that gay couples had a right to marry under the state's Constitution.

"This is a way for the president to address the concerns of conservatives and to solidify his conservative base," a presidential adviser said.

$1.5 Billion to nanny people about marriage? Geez...

Via Oliver Willis.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 14, 2004

... And Then There Were 8

By Andrew Dobbs

Via the AP, Carol Moseley Braun is dropping out of the presidential race to endorse Howard Dean.

Officials close to Dean's campaign confirmed that they expected Braun to officially endorse the former Vermont governor Thursday in Carroll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dean's campaign spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about the report.

What impact does this have on the race? Well, its not like Braun was pulling a lot of support in IA or NH or raising a whole lot of money. Still, it adds to Dean's credibility among black voters and it frees up NOW and Braun campaign manager, former NOW president Patricia Ireland to try and up Dean's numbers among women. Is it enough to end it outright? No, but it will go a long way to making Dean look increasingly inevitable in the eyes of the media.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 11:21 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Are you a Billionaire for Bush?

By Byron LaMasters

Join the team, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Martin Frost to Run Against Pete Sessions in TX-32

By Byron LaMasters

According to several sources, Martin Frost will announce on Friday that he will challenge Pete Sessions in the 32nd Congressional District. His current 24th congressional district was sliced up among several other congressional districts in the redistricting fight. Frost's options include challenging Rep. Joe Barton in heavily Republican District 6, Rep. Michael Burgess in district 26, Rep. Pete Sessions in CD 32, or running in the new open 24th district where State Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton) is running. The new 24th includes much of the mid-cities, which is heavily Republican. Others have suggested that Martin Frost could challenge Eddie Bernice Johnson in the overwhelmingly Democratic 30th district in southern Dallas County. It's a possibility, but is probably unlikely. The 32nd is currently centered in north Dallas and is held by Pete Sessions and is heavily Republican. The new 32nd includes parts of Kessler Park, Oak Cliff and Hispanic precincts in west Dallas. It's still majority Republican, but with a huge minority turnout and cross-over Jewish vote for Frost in north Dallas, the race would be competetive. Martin Frost discussed his plans earlier this week at a Wesley Clark fundraiser in Dallas where Frost endorsed Wesley Clark. Here's the story:

Rep. Martin Frost of Arlington headlined a band of Democratic Texans, including former Gov. Dolph Briscoe, who endorsed Gen. Clark on Thursday.

Gen. Clark vowed to support the beleaguered Mr. Frost, a 13-term representative whose congressional district no longer exists under a Republican-backed redistricting plan upheld last week by a three-judge federal court of appeals panel.

Gen. Clark's nomination as the Democrats' presidential candidate would give Democrats their strongest ticket in Texas and help representatives such as him win re-election, Mr. Frost said.

For his part, Mr. Frost said he would announce, at 2 p.m. Friday at a location yet to be determined, the congressional district in which he will run. He was mum on his intentions, but coy.

Asked which district he would choose, Mr. Frost said: "I pretty well know. But I'm still talking to a lot of people about it." Asked to name his top two choices, he said he probably would run against Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, or Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis.

Mr. Barton, speaking last month about the prospects of a race between Mr. Frost and himself, said: "It'll be one of the spotlight races in the country. If it's Barton vs. Frost, it'll be based on issues. I'm a conservative; he's a liberal."

But several Frost supporters at the Clark fund-raiser predicted Mr. Frost would run against Mr. Sessions. Other scenarios have Mr. Frost challenging freshman Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Highland Village, or launching a primary challenge to Dallas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson.

The Dallas County Democratic Party would probably be delighted to have Martin Frost run in the 32nd. The 32nd is entirely within Dallas County and Frost would be spending several million dollars to boost Democratic turnout in the district. With the Dallas County political divide being nearly 50-50%, a large turnout opperation by Frost could easily give the Democratic countywide candidates (judicial races, sheriff's race, tax assesor, etc.) a slight boost that would put them over the top. Perhaps this is part of Frost's thinking. He knows that he'll probably go down, but he might as well go down fighting and bring down a bunch of Dallas County Republicans with him.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:51 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Pro-Redistricting "Democrat" Ron Wilson

By Byron LaMasters

Here's what the Houston Chronicle says:

A Democrat who created the Texas Human Rights Commission and successfully led the fight to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday, Wilson now stands accused of selling out his minority constituents as Texas' only black legislator to support a Republican redistricting plan.

A man who prides himself on his intellect and ability to work with others, Wilson recently testified in court that he has "the things big enough" to buck his fellow Democrats and then offered to "show them" to a lawyer. He accused state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, of being a "whiny little 3-year-old girl" before mocking Coleman's bipolar disorder.


Wilson said that while attending that school, Hartman Junior High School, he learned to hate white people.


Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting sent a public letter to Wilson on Dec. 23, saying he would support Wilson's primary opponent, Allen. He accused Wilson of "spending too much time in the back corridors with your intolerant Republican pals."

"I'm sure your Lamborghini is equipped with a global positioning system," Soechting said. "Perhaps you can use it to help you find the legislative district you abandoned long ago."

Ron Wilson needs to go. He voted for the GOP redistricting plan. That's unacceptable. Alma Allen for State Representative!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

CBS Threatens to Block MoveOn ad- Take Action!

By Andrew Dobbs

MoveOn.org is probably the best organized, most powerful netroots progressive organization in the country. Recently, as has been widely noted, the group has sponsored a contest called Bush in 30 seconds, where contestants each make a 30 second ad exposing the truth about the Bush Administration. The winner was a slick ad showing kids working in adult jobs- a factory, a chamber maid, etc.- and then asks "Who Do You Think Will Pay Off Bush's Trillion Dollar Deficit?" Pretty good- not too extremist (like the Bush = Hitler ads that drew so much attention), clever, gets your attention and expresses a valid sentiment. MoveOn is now accepting donations to put the ad on during the Super Bowl. Now you'd think that the money of a group trying to promote social justice would be as accepted as a booze company that exploits women, right? Wrong.

A spokesman for CBS said the Viacom-owned network has received the request from MoveOn to run the ad in the Super Bowl, but added that the ad has to go through standards and practices before CBS will say if it can run an advocacy ad during the game. The spokesman said he didn't think it was likely that the spot would pass standards and practices.

This is from Ad Age Magazine. They also go on to list 3 advocacy ads that will run during the game- one from the "truth.com" anti-tobacco group, one from Phillip Morris USA and one from the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Double standard much?

As a result, I am encouraging everyone to contact CBS and tell them you want to see the ad. Their advertising sales department can be emailed here, CBS parent company Viacom's non-management directors can be contacted here and just to be on the safe side, call or mail them:

CBS Television Network
51 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Main Number:

CBS News
555 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019
Main Number (National):

Let's raise a stink!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 06:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 13, 2004

Miller Recall Effort Fails Again

By Byron LaMasters

No surpise here:

Supporters of the effort to recall [Dallas] Mayor Laura Miller said Sunday night that they have not collected enough signatures for the measure.

Organizers said they will spend the next 40 days in a period of prayer, waiting for guidance as to what their next move should be.

"We're going to take these 40 days to back off and debrief our staff and volunteers," said Bishop Harold Edwards, who filed the recall petition Nov. 14. "We're not saying we're not going to try again. But we do know we're going to take a break."

Mr. Edwards said organizers did not gather as many signatures this time as they did in the last recall drive. He said that "quite a few" signatures were collected but that the cold weather and winter holidays prevented the necessary canvassing of neighborhoods.

I'm getting tired of recalls. I know that a lot of people are unhappy with Laura Miller here in Dallas, but she was legitimately elected last year by a large margin and I think that her opponents would be best off trying to work with her, rather than continue what seems to be a continuous cycle of failed recall petitions.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:51 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Rick Perry's At It Again... Again

By Andrew Dobbs

Last week I posted a story about how Rick Perry thought we didn't need any more money for our schools. His quote, given in the hardly liberal Dallas Morning News was this:

"Do we need more resources? Do we need a bigger pie?" the governor said in response to a question from reporters. "The answer is no."

Sounds pretty clear- no new money for education. But now....

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday sought to “clarify” his stance against new money for public education this year, saying he now would favor additional funds for schools if new incentive programs are created to improve student achievement.

Mr. Perry, who put himself at odds with hundreds of school districts last week when he said he saw no reason to boost education funding except for enrollment increases, modified his position by opening the door for modest increases in a planned special session this spring.

“As chief executive officer of this state, I take very seriously my role of protecting Texans’ pocketbooks. That’s why I’m not convinced we need to put new dollars into school funding formulas beyond what it costs to keep up with enrollment growth,” Mr. Perry told reporters on Monday.

“But I have not ruled out new dollars for our schools. I would like to see any new dollars that are available for education used to fund results-oriented performance incentives. This can be done by making sure any new dollars are placed into a specific fund that provides positive incentives for our schools to achieve greater academic excellence and efficiency.”

He said Monday he wanted to “clarify” his position and point out that he is against more money for schools only if no changes are made to help boost student achievement.

So, let's see here. Last week he said "Do we need more resources?... The answer is no." This week he says "I have not ruled out new dollars for our schools." Sounds like a flip flop made because people are outraged and he wants to be reelected. And why would people be outraged? I mean, money doesn't improve education beyond a certain minimum level, right? Well, I'd disagree with that but the point is moot- we aren't even at that minimum level.

Lawmakers were warned by the Texas Supreme Court last year that the current funding system is on the verge of collapse as more and more districts reach the state’s tax rate limit of $1.50 per $100 valuation while the overall percentage of state aid for schools continues to decline annually. Local property taxes have soared in most districts.

Dallas schools Superintendent Mike Moses and other education officials have told state lawmakers that lack of adequate funding for schools could undermine the achievement gains seen in Texas public schools over the past decade....

Though Mr. Perry amended his comments Monday to say he isn't opposed to additional funding revenue, some school leaders say damage has already been done.

John Carpenter, president of the Highland Park ISD school board, has called on Mr. Perry to visit districts statewide and really take a look at what's going on, not simply stop for a photo op.

“I invite you and your staff to come to our district to review our budget and operations. Show me where we can make additional cuts in our budget and continue to raise student achievement,” he wrote. “I do not believe it is possible.”

Highland Park, also a plaintiff in the school finance lawsuit, isn’t the only North Texas district quivering about Mr. Perry's remarks.

“When the leadership has that mindset, it's very disconcerting,” said Deena Reeve, president of the Coppell ISD school board.

Facing a projected deficit of $11.2 million next year, Plano school district officials plan to cut more than 50 positions from the budget. Superintendent Doug Otto and school trustees blame the situation on the state's school finance system.

Highland Park and Plano are each two of the most Republican cities in the nation. Mike Moses is a Republican. These people are spurning the governor from their own party and saying that he's dead wrong. Plano laid off 45 people and cut 15 positions from attrition. When you are having to cut staff when your facilities are already struggling and your teachers already paid paltry sums for the incredibly important work they do that's a sign that things aren't right in this state.

Finally, Perry's circular logic would be hilarious if it didn't mean that millions of school kids are getting screwed out of an education. He says he'll only give new money if improvements are made but right now improvements can really only be made if they have more money. Therefore they'll fail, they'll lose some of the money they already have and it's a vicious cycle. Rick Perry is more interested in his big business lobby patrons than he is the people of this state and in 2006 he's going to find out the hard way that those lobbyists only have so many votes.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 08:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2004

Jewish and Muslim Voting Patterns in 2004

By Byron LaMasters

Much has been made since 9-11 about Jewish voters trending Republican. While, many Jewish Republicans are hoping for a realignment of Jews towards the Republicans party, the 2004 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion suggests otherwise:

U.S. Jews would overwhelmingly support any major Democratic candidate over President Bush if the election were held today, according to the 2004 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the only Jewish candidate, would defeat Republican Bush by the largest margin, 71 percent to 24 percent, the poll found.

In one-on-one matchups with the president, Howard Dean, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt would each receive about 60 percent of the Jewish vote, compared to about 30 percent for Bush, according to the survey conducted for the American Jewish Committee and released today.


American Jews tend to vote Democrat, and 66 percent said they backed Al Gore in the 2000 race.


Fifty-four percent of those polled disapprove of how Bush has handled the fight against terrorism and the U.S.-led war on Iraq, while a majority said the United States should not act without the support of its allies in responding to international crises.

Jews also overwhelmingly oppose government funding for social service programs operated by religious groups, the survey found. Allowing faith-based organizations to compete for such funding is a top Bush initiative.

Meanwhile, Muslim voters, many of whom supported George W. Bush in 2000 overwhelmingly oppose him today. While the Muslim Public Affairs Council endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, he only received 2% of the vote in their straw poll at this year's convention. The Dallas Morning News reports:

The result was hardly a surprise, noted Salam Al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. A 2004 presidential straw poll conducted at MPAC's annual convention showed President George W. Bush trailing four Democratic contenders, led by Howard Dean, largely because of the former Vermont governor's staunch criticism of the war in Iraq.

Dr. Dean polled 67 percent, followed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich with 17 percent, retired Gen. Wesley Clark with 8 percent, and Sen. John Kerry with 4 percent. Mr. Bush garnered a meager 2 percent of the straw ballots cast by the 800 Muslims at the late December convention held in Long Beach, Calif. Not even a convention appearance by the White House's Muslim liaison, Ali Tulbah, appeared to help.

Mr. Bush's dismal showing came less than four years after MPAC joined other leading American Muslim groups in issuing their first-ever presidential endorsement: the Republican Bush. But then came the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, all of which has impacted immensely the political fortunes, and thinking, of American Muslims.

In the current climate, "90 percent of the community is now dead set against the Republican Party, not to mention Bush," said the Los Angeles-based Al-Marayati, who backed Bill Clinton before switching parties in 2000.

Even Muslim Republican activists say Mr. Bush has little hope of repeating his 2000 success among Muslims.

"I hate to say it," said Khalid Saffuri, who runs the Islamic Institute, a Republican support group in Washington, "but right now very few Muslims will vote for George Bush again, or support the Republican Party. They're that angry."

The anger stems from the prevailing Muslim perception that the Bush administration's war on terrorism has unwarrantedly cast suspicion on the entire American Muslim community, and has illegally curtailed their constitutional rights. It has also led Muslim leaders to realize that they have little real influence on White House policies. That, plus concerns over recent polls showing a marked jump in the number of Americans holding negative views of Islam, has convinced some Muslim activists that the Washington-centered, top-down political approach previously favored has gained them little.

Muslim voters may not agree with many of the core traditional values of the Democratic Party, but many of them have finally realized that the Republican Party, while sharing some of their social values, is out to destroy their civil liberties, and the Democratic Party is their only real choice. Despite their reluctance, I welcome Muslims into the Democratic Party. The DMN article concludes:

Mr. Green believes any Muslim shift to the Democrats will be a reluctant one. Democrats have a lot of Jewish and traditional African-American support, Green said. "Let's just say that Muslims have tensions with those groups. With Jews it's Israel and with blacks it's because they see Islam as a threat to Christian churches," he added.

Mr. Khan acknowledged those tensions. However, he said American Muslim dislike of Bush is so strong that he, for one, believes they must get used to working with pro-Israel Jews, and to overlooking liberal Democratic positions on abortion, gays and other social issues on which they differ.

"It upsets Muslims when I put it this way, but I say we have to get into bed with Jews and gays because liberal Democrats are the most accepting of Muslims in this country, and most critical of Bush's policies," said Mr. Khan.

I don't exactly like to see it put that way either, but the point is the same. To defeat George W. Bush, we all must unite together, despite our differences to defeat George W. Bush and the Republicans in November. The fact that 67% of the Muslim Public Affairs Council supports Howard Dean (an organization which endorsed Bush in 2000), shows Dean's ability to unite the diverse factions of the Democratic Party, and the anti-Bush sentiments in various communities across America to defeat George W. Bush this November.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:06 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Rep. Ortiz Endorsing Clark

By Byron LaMasters

The Corpus Christi Caller Times reports:

U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz. said Thursday that he will endorse Wesley Clark for the presidency in the democratic primary.

"I think we need a strong leader like General Clark," Ortiz said. "And I think we need somebody that can win."

Ortiz said that current Democratic Party front-runner Howard Dean has become increasingly vulnerable to attacks from his own party. This, along with Dean's fiery temperament, is eroding the electronic-fundraising dynamo's ability to win the general election, Ortiz said.

"At least with him (Clark), we will give the Republicans a good run."

Ortiz said that he decided to endorse Clark after several weeks of conversation with the retired general. Ortiz described Clark as even-tempered and a good listener with the right qualifications .

"I think he is capable in many ways," Ortiz said. "It think he understands the problems we face, the atmosphere of the world today. I mean, we have so many hotspots. We are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq and (Clark) was involved in the mission in Bosnia."

Ortiz become the eighth Texas Democratic Congressman to make an endorsement in the Presidential race. Max Sandlin, Chet Edwards, Silvestre Reyes, Gene Green and Chris Bell have endorsed Dick Gephardt. Eddie Bernice Johnson has endorsed John Edwards, and Shelia Jackson-Lee has endorsed Howard Dean.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2004

The Banned

By Jim Dallas

One commenter is doing something cute -- posting comments (I presume automatically generated, since they are totally irrelevant and sound like random picks out of a quotable quotes book) and leaving links to herbal Viagra and porn sites as their "personal homepage".

We don't like commercial spam on the Burnt Orange Report, and now whoever this poster is gets to be banned IP user number 35!

Our current roster of the banned now includes,,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and our newest member,

"You love me, you really love me!"

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 09, 2004

Out of Town, Again

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be out of town this afternoon until Sunday evening. Unfortunately, I won't have internet access, as I'll be outside of Chicago for my grandfather's wedding. Hopefully, others can fill in for the next day or two. Thanks!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Prairie View A&M Students March for Voting Rights

By Byron LaMasters

I grew up in Dallas and first registered to vote when I was 18 at my family's address in Collin County. Five months later, I cast my first vote ever in November 2000 for Al Gore. In January 2002 I changed my voter registration to my dorm in Austin (Travis County) because I spent the majority of my time there, and I wanted to support several Democratic candidates in contested races for County Commissioner and in several judicial races in the March Democratic primary (along with the contested statewide primaries). My drivers license and permanent residence was still in Dallas, but Texas law allows for college students to register at either their permanent residence (family home) or at their college residence. Secretary of State Geoffrey Conner explains:

Texas Secretary of State Geoffrey S. Connor wrote: “The law for college students is the same as for any other Texas voter. These same residency requirements also apply in similar manner to those who spend much of the year traveling to more than one location, such as military voters, immigrant workers, and retired persons who travel.…. It is the opinion of this office that persons who are age 18 or older and are college students are presumed to have requisite intent to establish their college town as their residence if they so choose.”

Personally, my voter registration was stategic. While I always encourage all students to register to vote where they go to school, since it's much easier to vote on campus (as we can at UT), than to file for an absentee ballot in another county, or drive home to vote. Had I lived in Dallas County, which now is essentially evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, I probably would have kept my registration there to help countywide Democratic candidates over the top. However, Collin County is 70-75% Republican and my vote means less in Collin County than in a Democratic-leaning, but still competetive county such as Travis. I also wanted to be able to support Sen. Barrientos in his tough re-election bid. So, why this story?

The Republican District Attorney of Waller County (home of Praire View A&M) has questioned the residency requirements of the predominently African-American students of Praire View A&M who have made the decision to register to vote in Waller County.

Here's the story:

Prairie View A&M University students will march on Martin Luther King’s Jr. birthday to not only pay tribute to the slain civil rights leader, but to also reaffirm their right to vote in Waller County, Texas.

The county, which has no black elected officials, does have a district attorney that has questioned whether Prairie View’s students meet residency requirements.

On Nov. 10, the Waller Times published a letter to the editor from Waller County District Attorney Oliver Kitzman about concerns over residency. A few days after the letter ran, rumors circulated that students had been indicted for violating the residency laws.

“Students are offended that the district attorney would want to take away our right to vote,” Sara Joyner, a junior majoring in business management at Prairie View, told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “We spend the majority of our time in Prairie View and should have a say in who governs us.” A native of Minneapolis, Joyner has lived in Prairie View three years.

Kitzman’s letter and the rumored indictments touched off a flurry of responses from Texas state leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus, which has called on U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate the matter. Texas state Sen. Rodney Ellis has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to issue an opinion.

Why is it that Black students at Praire View A&M are intimidated about voting where they go to school and spend the majority of their time, whereas White students like myself who vote where I got to school, where I spend the majority of my time don't have any problems? The law is clear. The students at Prairie View A&M have a right to vote in Waller County, just as I have a right to vote in Travis County, where I attend school.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:20 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

January 08, 2004

Chet Edwards Running

By Byron LaMasters

It may be almost hopeless, but Chet Edwards will give it a good fight:

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, a veteran lawmaker who last year saw his congressional district split by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature, will announce today he is running in a newly carved district that includes his home county of McLennan.

"I am going to run for re-election in the 17th District because for 21 years Waco has been good to me," Edwards told the Tribune-Herald for its Web site.

He said he will remain Fort Hood's congressman until January 2005. Then, if elected, he will become Fort Hood's neighboring congressman and a loyal supporter.

Edwards had been wrestling over whether to run for re-election in newly created District 31, which includes Fort Hood, or District 17, which includes his hometown of Waco.

It's been a bad week for Texas Democrats with the redistricting decision, but frankly, I'm proud to see Chet Edwards, Charlie Stenholm and Martin Frost willing at the very least give their supporters a good fight. You just never know what might happen...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Barrientos Endorses Hinojosa Against Doggett

By Byron LaMasters

This came as a surprise to me:

State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, who previously said he was strongly leaning toward a congressional race, announced today he will not challenge local U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett for the Democratic nomination in a newly created U.S. House district.

Though he is staying out of the race, Barrientos announced his endorsement of state District Judge Leticia Hinojosa of Edinburg in her effort to end Doggett's congressional career.


Barrientos offered no negative words for Doggett. Bad feelings between the two local lawmakers date back to 1993, when Doggett, then a Texas Supreme Court justice, got into and won the race to replace longtime local U.S. Rep. J. J. "Jake" Pickle, who retired. At the time, Barrientos thought he was in line for the seat, but he opted not to run when Doggett got in.

Barrientos today denied that his support of Hinojosa has anything to do with the 1993 election.

"The fact that a qualified candidate has emerged from the most populated southern part of this district made my decision easier," he said.

Ever since I changed my voter registration to Austin two years ago, I've been proud to call Gonzalo Barrientos my state senator. And I still am today. But I must say that I'm certainly disappointed to see Barrientos endorse a candidate from outside of the Austin area (and more specifically not Lloyd Doggett) for the redrawn 25th district which stretches from central Austin to McAllen. If the new lines hold up and Doggett does not win his primary in the 25th district, Austin will no longer have a representative in Congress (unless an Austinite wins the new central Austin to Katy 10th district, which is unlikely, although former mayor Gus Garcia has shown interest, and he'd be a good candidate in a very uphill district). I've always been a supporter of Lloyd Doggett's, and he's represented Austin well in Congress. While I am two blocks out of his district under the new lines, I'll do what I can to help him via volunteering, donating and ensuring that he wins the endorsements of the local Democratic clubs I belong to (University Democrats, Central Austin Democrats, ALGPC, Stonewall Democrats of Austin).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

This Just In: John Kerry Handing Dean Iowa...

By Andrew Dobbs

How so, you ask? Well, as Taegan noted on Political Wire, the Houston Chronicle reports that John Kerry is aiming for second in Iowa.

The spot of runner-up is never highly coveted in beauty or other contests, but in the upcoming Iowa caucuses, second place is looking pretty good to Sen. John Kerry...

Polls have shown Kerry running third in Iowa, behind former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Missouri U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt -- a stark reversal from the same time last year, when Kerry was leading and Dean was polling in the single digits.

But last month, after Kerry mortgaged his home to fund the campaign, diverted staff and spending from New Hampshire to Iowa and intensified his advertising in Iowa, internal polls by the Dean campaign showed Kerry overtaking Gephardt among likely caucus participants.

With such a crowded field it is likely that in Iowa there will be only 1 or 2 candidates at most that can break the 15%. Furthermore, all of those Kucinich people (who are unlikely to have 15% and are a force to be reckoned with in dovish, pro-labor, populist Iowa), all of those Sharpton and Braun people and have to go somewhere- most of them will go to Dean. As a result, Dean probably now has 40% of the vote or so. If 2 candidates are fighting a knockdown dragout for the other 60%, neither is likely to beat Dean. Sure, if Kerry gets second that'll be a big story, but Dean will still walk away the winner.

The best way to stop Dean would be for Kerry to lower expectations publicly- "I'm hoping for a top 3 finish and then we can focus on NH"- and then try a half-hearted attempt at second and then throw his support to Gephardt. Instead, he's gunning for Gephardt and the two of them might split the vote enough that Dean wins big. Now, the story isn't "Look- Kerry finished second" it's "Howard Dean blew them out of the water." Going into NH, Clark is currently in second. If Kerry comes in 2nd in IA that'll hurt Clark, but if Dean wins big there, it'll bolster his "inevitability" and strengthen his NH finish, killing Kerry's chances. This will play into his hand and by January 28 both Gephardt and Kerry's gooses will be cooked with Howard Dean walking away with a big advantage in delegates.

All of this is to say that after January 28 it will be a 4 man race- Dean, Clark, Edwards and Lieberman- and after February 3 it'll be at most a two man race- Dean and Clark. Get ready for a bloody February and early March as they fight it out for the nomination, but hopefully when the dust clears they'll both be on the ticket despite declarations to the contrary.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

TYD Info

By Byron LaMasters

I'm a regional director of the Texas Young Democrats, so I want to be sure to pass along the latest from TYD.

Here is the statement by our president, Steven Bollinger regarding the redistricting decision.

Also, the Texas Young Democrats are planning a Campaign Invasion in the Special Senate District 1 and 31 elections later this month starting Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 1pm until 4pm Monday, January 19, 2004. If you can make it to help in either race (District 1 in Marshall or District 31 in Midland/Odessa) email TYD with the following information:

If you like to part of the invasion, please e-mail us at invasion@texasyds.org with the following info:

Name or Name of Group attending (if group, list all names
Contact phone number
Which Site (Midland-Odessa or Marshall)
Any Special needs

Both races have one Democratic Candidate. Paul Sadler is running in Senate District 1. Elaine King Miller is the Democratic candidate in Senate District 31. Both are quality candidates and we look forward to supporting both.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:33 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Stenholm, Frost, Doggett Running, Turner's Out

By Byron LaMasters

The new districts are forcing several Texas Democratic Congressmen to decide their next move. Several are ready to fight it out. At this point it looks as if Charlie Stenholm, Martin Frost and Lloyd Doggett have decided to fight to continue to serve in Congress. Jim Turner, however, has decided to retire from Congress (assuming the new lines hold).

Continue for the entire story.

Charlie Stenholm looks like he'll be running for re-election (I would assume) in the new 19th district where he is paired with Randy Neugebauer.

Having a mere handful of white Democrats in the congressional delegation would be a stark contrast to 20 years ago: That year, when the Republican National Convention came to Dallas and renominated President Ronald Reagan, there were 16 white Democratic congressmen from Texas, out of 27 total members.

Several WD-40s said this week that they're not finished yet.

"Come November, I'll still be a white Democrat," said Rep. Charlie Stenholm of Abilene. "The bunch on the other side are making a better Democrat out of me every day."

You can help by contributing to the Charlie Stenholm Campaign here. Sure, Stenholm is a conservative, opposes abortion rights and votes with Republicans on a lot of issues, but he's an effective Ranking Member of the House of Agriculture Committee and votes with Democrats on leadership votes despite representing an overwhelmingly Republican distirct. I was impressed with him when he spoke to a caucus meeting which I attended at the 2002 Democratic Party Convention. He's an effective representative and west Texas will be hurt if they lose his senority and leadership in congress.

Martin Frost may not have a favorable district in which to run in anymore, but regardless, he's ready to go down with a fight:

"'If Republicans think I'm just going to disappear from the scene ... they're sadly, sadly wrong,' said the veteran congressman, first elected in 1978. 'I love a good fight,' he said, pledging to become 'some Republican's worst nightmare.'" [Fort Worth Star-Telegram Jan. 7, 2004]

Families in North Texas deserve a Member of Congress who will fight for them every day, not an extreme Republican Party hack who simply follows orders from Tom Delay.

Like most Texans, I was disappointed by the Court's ruling on congressional redistricting. It is unfair to Texans of all races. But I will not abandon families in North Texas to the partisans and extremists who forced this plan on them.

Documents initiating an appeal with the Supreme Court will be filed, and I am actively planning my re-election campaign and will announce soon the district where I will run.

I want you to know that regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling that I will definitely be a candidate for Congress in the 2004 election. This last year has seen far too many North Texas politicians sacrifice the best interests of our community for partisan power mongers like Tom DeLay.

Under the new plan there are four districts (CD6, CD26, CD24 and CD32) which have a significant political base which I have represented for many years. In the next week will make a final decision as to where I will run. Until then, rest assured that I will not go quietly into the night.

I have represented North Texas for over 25 years and in that time have been a tireless advocate for our community. I fully intend to continue to represent North Texas families and take the fight to the partisan extremists. That is exactly what I have been elected 13 times to do and that is what I am to keep doing.

I did not start this harmful, needless and expensive battle but I do plan to finish it.

I'm not sure which district Frost is considering running in. Some Democrats in Dallas County hope that he'll run in the new 32nd district where Frost's money and turnout opperation could help the judicial and sheriff's candidates over the top. Last year, even with a gigantic Republican turnout in Dallas County, Democrats won a countywide judicial race (Sally Montgomery) for the first time in nearly a decade, and several other Democratic candidates came within a percentage point or two of winning. I think that running in the 32nd (against Pete Sessions) would be the best thing that Martin Frost could do for the Democratic Party, but I'm not sure what district is best for him. You can make a donation to the Martin Frost campaign, here.

Lloyd Doggett is aggressively campaigning to represent the new 25th district. Unlike his current 10th district which is compactly drawn in Travis County (Austin), the 25th stretches from central Austin, taking in most of the East Austin Hispanic precincts, then narrowly winding towards the boarder where it takes in McAllen in Hidalgo County. Initially State Rep. Kino Flores (D-Mission) filed for the seat, but after realizing he couldn't compete financially with Doggett, he refiled for the state house. Now, District Court Judge Leticia Hinojosa has filed for the seat and there's talk that Austin State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos may file. The Austin Chronicle reports:

Assuming the new Austin-to-McAllen congressional District 25 survives the current redistricting trial and Department of Justice review (see p.26), jockeying for position continues in the potential race to fill the open seat. District 10 incumbent U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett is laying down border stakes, campaigning steadily in South Texas, where local politicos are torn between supporting the longtime Democratic stalwart or looking for a favorite son or daughter from the border.

State Rep. Kino Flores, D-Mission, initially declared his intention to challenge Doggett -- whom he describes as insufficiently Hispanic and too liberal for South Texas -- but last week refiled for his current seat and announced he had not been able to gather the financial support necessary for a congressional run. South Texas politicos have been looking hard for a border-based alternative to Doggett, and this week are leaning toward District Court Judge Leticia Hinojosa, who has deep roots in the Democratic Party and community activism.


Meanwhile, at our end of the district, Doggett obviously has a long record of public service -- dating back to his election to the Texas Senate in 1973. But his successor in that post, state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, is making it increasingly clear that he wants to take on Doggett if the new congressional district lines are upheld. This would revisit business left unfinished in 1994, when Doggett -- then a state Supreme Court justice -- jumped into the race to succeed retiring Jake Pickle, and -- after one furious weekend of fundraising -- effectively knocked both Barrientos and then-Mayor Bruce Todd out of the running before filing had even begun.

I'm expecting a nasty primary. Doggett will have the advantage, but if Barrientos jumps in, I wouldn't count him out. Regardless, as an incumbent, Doggett has the ability to bring in people like Patrick Kennedy and enjoy at least some support in the southern portion of the district.

Finally, Rep. Jim Turner (D-Crockett) has announced his retirement from the U.S. House:

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Jim Turner (D-Crockett) issued the following statement today, following the three-judge panel’s decision on Texas redistricting:

“Today in a 2 to 1 decision, the Federal Court ruled that the new Republican-drawn Texas Congressional map is constitutional and will stand. This decision will be appealed to the
U. S. Supreme Court.

“This partisan map denies the people of East and Southeast Texas the representation they deserve in Congress. The effort to elect more Republicans to Congress was achieved by dominating rural voters with a majority of suburban and urban voters in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth. These new lines divide the current 2nd Congressional District into 6 different districts, and I have no realistic opportunity to seek reelection to Congress.

“The divisiveness of this redistricting effort has not been good for Texas. As Judge Ward stated in his dissenting opinion, ‘…extreme partisan gerrymandering leads to a system in which representatives choose their constituents rather than vice versa.’

“I will continue to work for the people of East Texas for the remaining year of my term and devote my energies to the important issues of homeland security, job growth, strengthening the economy and providing quality health care, as I have since my first day in office. It has always been an honor to serve the people of East Texas. It is my hope that I will have other opportunities to serve my state in the future.”

It's a shame. Turner would probably like to run for Governor or Lt. Governor in 2006 and he'd be a good candidate. I wish him the best of luck.

Update: Charles Kuffner has more on Political State Report

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:00 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Frost Aide Running Against Glen Lewis

By Byron LaMasters

In another interesting primary for a state representative race, Martin Frost aide Marc Veasey is running against Glen Lewis in a Fort Worth district:

Marc Veasey is challenging veteran House member Glenn Lewis in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Veasey's candidacy is a rare example of a Democrat trying to take advantage of his opponent's alliances with House Republicans who pushed for congressional redistricting.

Though Mr. Lewis is a Democrat, he was a lieutenant of House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, serving as chairman of the House County Affairs Committee.

"We have a state representative who is more interested in rubbing shoulders with Republican power brokers in Austin than he is in delivering for his district," Mr. Veasey said.

Mr. Veasey was an aide to Rep. Martin Frost, D-Arlington, up until Friday, when he resigned to run for the Legislature. He says he's running against Mr. Lewis to put the district back in Democratic hands.

Mr. Lewis has represented the southeast Fort Worth district since 1995.

"If we're going to be mad at people for having working relationships with Republicans," Mr. Lewis said, "does it mean we're also going to completely abandon the notion of bipartisanship in Texas?"

We'll see what happens. I don't know anything about Veasey, but I'd be inclinded to support him if I knew more about him. I like his message. It's critical that we elect solid Democrats in Democratic districts, and not people that will accept committee chairmanships from the radical right-wing Craddick leadership. The era of bipartisanship in Texas politics ended with the Perry / Dewhurst / Craddick / DeLay leadership team last year. There's no going back as long as they're in control of things in Austin.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 07, 2004

How Big a Tax Hike?

By Andrew Dobbs

Jim's post below about the Club for Growth ads attacking Howard Dean is great, I'd encourage you all to read it. What few have been reporting is that the ad begins with the farmer asking what he thinks about Dean's plan to raise his taxes by $1,900 a year. They are of course referring to the Bush Tax Cut which Dean intends to repeal, with which the "average" American family recieved a tax cut of $1,900 annually.

If you are wondering where your $1,900 went don't worry- you never got it. Bush, as we all know, did not do so well in math growing up and though he accused Gore of "fuzzy math" in the debates it is he who has problems with arithmetic. See, if Karl, Byron, Jim, me and you were all sitting around and the four of you all had $100 each and I have $9,100 guess what- we have an "average" of $1,900. Now, if someone comes along and takes all that money, did he take $1,900 from you? No, he did not- he took $100.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) makes it clear that when you actually look at the data, few Americans ever saw that kind of money. A more accurate representation is of course the median tax refund- how much the middle 20% of taxpayers recieved. Those people recieved $217 from the tax cut. 53% of us- 74 million households- actually got less than $100 and 50 million household actually got no tax cut at all. A family that makes $1 million a year recieves a tax cut of $93,500 a year. See how averages work?

The thing though, is that even these numbers are misleading. Very few Americans get paid once a year- we usually get our salaries in weekly, bi weekly or monthly checks. As a result, rather than saying "Howard Dean is taking $217 from you" it really makes sense to look at it by saing that Bush has cut the median family's taxes by a whopping $4.17 a week, $18.08 a month. Remember also that 50 million families saw no tax cut at all and will get no tax increase from Dean as a result.

So when the Club for Growth has some Iowa farmer complaining about his lost $1,900, really he ought to be asked how he's gonna miss that extra two bucks he got every week, if he was that lucky- very likely he saw no tax cut at all. Furthermore, we ought to ask him how much he likes the higher state fees, state taxes, property taxes, his devalued pension plan, the drop in income he got because he was unemployed and the extra money he'll be paying down the road to finance huge new deficits he got- all thanks to Bush. The Club for Growth is not only insulting, they are disingenuous and its time we held them responsible.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:26 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Lying about Lattes

By Jim Dallas

As noted by Atrios, there are exactly two Starbucks retail locations in the state of Vermont.

Let's do a little more research here.

There are 395 locations in Texas. There are nearly 200 times as many Starbucks locations in Texas.

Even when you work this out on a per-capita basis, there is one Starbucks location in Vermont for every 307,000 Vermonters, versus one Texas location for every 53,987 Texans. In other words, there are over five times as many Starbucks locations on a per-person basis in Texas than there are in Vermont.

Since the market would never lie to us, we can safely assume who the real latte-sippers are.

This is only the beginning of the the untrue stereotypes offered by the newest Club for Growth ad, which offers this wisdom:

"Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs!"

Some of these facts are easy to refute. As Governor, Howard Dean cut taxes in Vermont on multiple occasions. And between 1995 and 2001, Vermont state government expenditures grew at roughly the same annual rate as state government expenditures in Texas (about 9 percent for Vermont; about 7 percent for Texas).

According to the SuperPages.Com yellow pages informs us that there are not a single sushi restaraunt listed in Vermont! By comparison, there are dozens of sushi restaraunts listed in Texas.

Sushiref.com yields a different result. According to that site, there are two restaraunts which offer sushi in Burlington, and two in Rutland. A total of four locations.

In contrast, there are more sushi restaraunts in Austin (home of so many Bushies, e.g. Scott McClellan and Karl Rove.) alone, which has roughly the same population as the state of Vermont. There are 86 sushi restaraunt locations in Texas.

I don't conveniently have any statistics on vehicle registrations, New York Times subscriptions (which would probably be internal information anyway), or any means to effectively quantify "Hollywood-loving".

But it seems to me that many of the same attributes the Club for Growth would ascribe to Dean and his supporters could apply equally to Bush and his supporters.

Now, when can we expect George W. Bush to take his government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, Hollywood-loving, right-wing freak show back to Texas, where it belongs?"

Perhaps a better question might be, when will we get past our shallow regional stereotypes about "cultural elitist" New Englanders (and the equally disingenuous stereotype that all Red Staters are "just folks")?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:37 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Must Read Article in Salon

By Andrew Dobbs

Salon has a must read article today about Howard Ahmanson, Jr. Ahmanson is to the religious right what Richard Mellon Scaife is to the business right- an extremist with loads of cash who bankrolls various socially conservative movements. I've learned a lot from the article and it comes highly reccomended.

Ahmanson belongs to a movement known as Christian Reconstructionism- a theological and political school that holds the idea that America ought to be ruled by Biblical law. This isn't some sort of conservative lip-service to "traditional values"- the founder of this movement, Ahmanson's mentor Rousas John Rushdoony, according to Salon's quotes of his masterwork Institutes of Biblical Law- said that:

According to biblical law, he writes, segregation is a "basic principle," and slavery is permitted "because some people are by nature slaves and will always be so." Those who don't comply with Rushdoony's rules -- disobedient children, "pagans," adulterers, women who get abortions, repeat criminal offenders and, of course, homosexuals -- would be executed. Mrs. Ahmanson, who described Rushdoony as "quirky in some ways," qualified his extremism: "To impose the death penalty you need two witnesses. So the number of executions goes down pretty quickly."

Ahmanson's protege was another Reconstructionist- Marvin Olasky, the coiner of the term "compassionate conservativism" and one of the Bush Administration's cheif domestic policy architects. Rushdoony was one of the originators of the policy of "Faith Based Initiatives" and Olasky designed the office established by President Bush for that purpose. For more information that will make the hair on your neck stand up, check out the late Rushdoony's think tank, the Chalcedon Foundation.

It is clear that the Bush Administration has based much of its policy on a series of radical movements. Its social policy is designed by those that believe that the Constitution is a Satanic document and that America ought to be a theocracy. It's economic policy is designed by those that believe that the tax burden ought to fall only on earned wages rather than wealth and that regulation of any sort is communist. It's foreign policy is designed by those that openly promote the idea of American Empire. It's overarching philosophies are those that claim elitism and abuse of power as positive goods. Bush is a very dangerous man and if this article does not lead you to fight every waking moment for a new vision in November then nothing probably will.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:51 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 06, 2004

Panel upholds GOP Map.

By Jim Dallas


I'm curious why the Democratic legal team is talking about going straight to the Supreme Court with this, instead of trying to get a hearing or an en banc hearing at the appellate-court level. It seems to me the more steps the Democrats go through, the longer you can delay the map. And if we lose at the Supreme Court, we've lost it all. It seems like a dangerous gamble to me.

Perhaps en banc hearings are not in order for Voting Rights Act cases. Maybe it's a strategic decision in light of the Pennsylvania case. Maybe it's a strategic assessment that they think they'd lose if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case. I don't know.

Is there a lawyer in the house?

UPDATES: Off the Kuff has his take... the Dallas Morning News clarifies why it goes to the Supreme Court (in short, because it has to).

The most interesting question to me is... what sort of dynamic would this cause with the Pennsylvania redistricting case the SCOTUS has already taken up. Both cases would seem to revolve around the partisanship of gerrymandering. While for the time being it appears that the Republicans will be in the drivers' seat, the Pennsylvania and Texas cases could end up being pivotal cases that redefine the legality of gerrymandering.

Or not. But while the victors today clearly were the Republican map-drawers, this is only a beginning, not an end.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:55 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Ralph Hall Loses Committee Posts

By Byron LaMasters

It's good to see that Nancy Pelosi has wasted no time in stripping Ralph Hall of his committee posts after his switch to the Republican Party:

Rep. Ralph Hall's defection to the GOP cost him two key committee posts Monday.

Three days after the Rockwall lawmaker's surprise decision, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi replaced him as ranking Democrat on the House Science Committee with a colleague from Tennessee, Rep. Barton Gordon.

She also said she will soon fill an unspecified vacancy on the Energy Committee – Mr. Hall's other assignment, which spokeswoman Janet Perry Poppleton said Mr. Hall intended to resign anyway.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:06 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

State House Race Updates

By Byron LaMasters

The Austin American Statesman ran a story today on the two Democratic State Representatives with strong challenges in their primary races, Ron Wilson and Allan Ritter. Both are being challenged from the left. Wilson, who sided with Republicans in the redistricting debate is being challenged by State Board of Education member Alma Allen. She seems like a great candidate worthy of support. Ritter is being challenged by former State Sen. David Bernsen in part because Ritter supported tort reform that Bernsen opposed. I don't really have too much of an opinion on that race. I was a strong supporter of Bernsen in his race for Land Commissioner last year, but Ritter was a Killer D and despite voting for tort reform, he seems to have a solid Democratic record. Here's what the Statesman says:

In Houston, Rep. Ron Wilson, a 26-year incumbent and perhaps the most influential Democrat in the House, is being challenged in the primary by State Board of Education member Alma Allen.

Allen has the unusual advantage of being supported by the state Democratic chairman, who traditionally remains neutral in primary battles.

In another experiment in the nontraditional, former state Sen. David Bernsen of Beaumont — last seen as the Democrats' unsuccessful 2002 candidate for state land commissioner — is running for an entry-level legislative post.

Bernsen is trying to knock off Rep. Allan Ritter, D-Nederland, a former ally whom Bernsen recruited to run in 1998.


In the Bernsen-Ritter and Allen-Wilson races, party loyalty is the primary issue.

"Some of the things Ron Wilson has done are not acceptable, in my opinion, to the Democratic Party," state party Chairman Charles Soechting said in explaining his support of Allen. "And for that reason alone, if I had a yard in that district, it would have a bunch of signs, and I would be voting for her."

A healthy dose of Wilson's influence stems from his ties to the GOP leadership, including Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland, who named Wilson chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Soechting and other Democrats are peeved at Wilson, an African American, for siding with Republicans in last year's congressional redistricting battle. Wilson has argued that the plan increases the chances for an additional African American in the state's U.S. House delegation.

Wilson on Monday accused Soechting of having "a personal agenda that does not include the interests of African American voters in this state."

"I think his problem is, he thinks he is running a plantation," Wilson said.

Great. Now Ron Wilson is comparing our state party chairman to a slave owner. We need him out. It gets more outrageous every day.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2004

Problems with the New Map

By Byron LaMasters

Charles found the Quorum Report post earlier today that suggests that there are problems with three of the new districts created by the new GOP map. I'd agree with Charles that the likely problems are in the 23rd, 24th and 25th districts. In the 23rd, the Hispanic percentage was significantly reduced. The 24th district was converted from a minority-majority district to a white-majority Republican district, and the 25th stretched awkwardly from central Austin to the Rio Grande Valley. We'll see what happens.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 04, 2004

Star Sightings in Los Angeles

By Byron LaMasters

As I wrote earlier, I decided to spend my new year's in Los Angeles. One of my good friends that graduated from UT last spring moved out here and my parents bought my airplane ticket for me a Christmas present, so I headed out here. It's been a good trip. I did manage one "star sighting" of sorts. And I'm giving myself bonus points because I actually met him in person as opposed to just to just seeing him.

Anyway, I met Bryan Singer last night at a bar in West Hollywood. I didn't recognize him, but he was a friend of someone who I was talking to and I was introduced. He was the director of The Usual Suspects, X-Men and X2. I reluctantly saw X2 at the theators this summer. I was never really an X-Men fan, but I had nothing better to do, so I went. I surprised myself and I really liked it. Perhaps it was because I could relate to it in the way that "Iceman" came out to his family as a mutant. I didn't know this until last night, but it now makes sense then that Singer is openly gay, which I was happy to learn. As liberal as Hollywood may be, there seems to be a lack of prominent openly gay people in the industry. Anyway, that's my LA story. It's been a fun trip, but it's time to go back to Dallas tomorrow.

And as a side note, I've supported the Vons Strike while I'm here. We shopped at Ralph's (who's locked out workers are back) while we were here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Doctors Required to Subject Patients to Pseudoscience

By Byron LaMasters

Abortion doctors in Texas are now required to give prospective patients a right-wing propoganda pamphlet 24 hours before the procedure. The pamphlet emphasized the unproven link between abortion and breast cancer, the psychological impact of abortion, and on dilatation and extraction (late-term abortions). The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Illustrated on the front and back with a light pink photograph of a flower, the 20-page booklet looks inviting, but it already is fueling fresh political conflict over abortion.

Abortion rights advocates say the Texas Department of Health bent to Republican pressure by inserting information unsupported by science or required by law into the pamphlet "A Woman's Right to Know."


It begins with descriptions and depictions of the normal growth of an embryo into a full-term fetus, then describes five types of abortion, ending with dilatation and extraction, so-called "partial-birth" abortion.

That method does not belong in a general pamphlet on abortion, said Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President John Jennings of League City. It's a frightening procedure used only late in pregnancy to preserve a woman's fertility when she carries a baby with gross abnormalities, he said.

"It's very much a distortion," Jennings said. "I don't know of anybody who's doing that in this state."

Abortion rights activists also criticize the brochure because it:

Disregards a National Cancer Institute research review finding no link between abortion and breast cancer. The pamphlet says breast cancer risk may be higher if "your first pregnancy is aborted."

Calls the fetus an "unborn child" regardless of its viability outside the womb. Corte said the words were in the new law, adding: "Everybody refers to it that way."

Lists emotional effects of having an abortion, which was not required by Corte's bill.

Includes a statement that physicians must maintain the life of a child born alive, which also wasn't required by the law but was supplied by Albert Hawkins, the state health and human services commissioner.

For a copy of the entire pamphlet click here (PDF file).

The part that bothers me the most is the part about the links of abortion to breast cancer. Last year the National Cancer Institute did a study on the issue. They concluded that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer:

In February 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a workshop of over 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. Workshop participants reviewed existing population-based, clinical, and animal studies on the relationship between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. They concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer. A summary of their findings, titled Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop, can be found at http://cancer.gov/cancerinfo/ere-workshop-report.

Why is the state of Texas lying to women in this state? (PDF file). What a shame.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Other Affirmative Action

By Byron LaMasters

The Houston Chronicle ran this story yesterday about "legacy admissions" at Texas A&M. It's a form of affirmative action that disproportionally helps white students"

Blood ties to alumni, sometimes known as the other affirmative action, are the deciding factor in the admission of more than 300 white Texas A&M University freshmen annually, according to data provided by the school.

Such students -- known as "legacy admits" -- equal roughly the overall total of blacks admitted to A&M each year. Only a handful of black students a year are admitted because of legacy points.

"That's a lot of kids being advantaged because A&M is where mommy and daddy went," said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. "Clearly, if you want to go to A&M, it pays to be a legacy applicant rather than black. I wonder why no one's sued it on those grounds."


A&M's program is drawing particular fire because university President Robert Gates recently announced the university, now free from a court ruling prohibiting racial preferences, won't consider race in admissions. Coleman and other black legislators cited a seeming contradiction between Gates' rhetoric that students be admitted strictly because of merit and a program they say perpetuates class distinction and white advantage.

Now, I'm not entirely opposed to legacy admissions. For many schools, it's necessary to keep up funding:

Although they also say legacy programs build a sense of community, most schools are candid about acknowledging that long-term financial support is the primary reason for preferences. Ashley said alumni parents of rejected applicants tell A&M they're going to stop donating money or not follow through on plans to give, though he has no idea how often they make good on such threats.

The problem, in my opinion is not necessarily the legacy admissions. Rather, it's the fact that Texas A&M doesn't have an affirmative action program to benefit the minority students that are hurt by admitting legacy students.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in a Michigan case, held that universities can use race as a factor in admissions policies, provided that quotas aren't set. The decision effectively lifted the Hopwood restrictions, set by a federal appellate court and an interpretation by former Attorney General Dan Morales, that had banned racial preferences from higher education in Texas for several years.

Some universities, including the University of Texas at Austin and Rice University, quickly took steps to reinsert affirmative action into future admissions policies.

A&M said no to racial preferences in admissions, despite that campus' striking lack of diversity, but will attempt to open the door a bit to increased opportunity by strengthening outreach efforts in predominantly minority communities and offering new scholarships. The university also has a new vice president charged with promoting diversity.

Increased outreach efforts? They need to do better than that. I'm proud of UT and Rice for taking the necessary steps to provide more opportunities for minorities to make up for the institutional inequities of the current system (legacy admissions, etc.). Hopefully Texas A&M will at some point, but I won't count on it.

Update: Charles has blogged on this issue as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:06 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 03, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 02, 2004

Ralph Hall Switches Parties

By Andrew Dobbs

So this isn't a surprise:

Texas Rep. Ralph Hall switched parties Friday night, filing for re-election as a Republican after nearly a quarter-century as one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress.

"I've always said that if being a Democrat hurt my district I would switch or I would resign," Hall said in an interview with The Associated Press. He said GOP leaders had recently refused to place money for his district in a spending bill and "the only reason I was given was I was a Democrat."

Hall was among the most conservative Democrats in congress, I know that the Young Conservatives of Texas at one point had a picture of him addressing their organization, his American Conservative Union lifetime rating is 83%- about average for a Republican. He's even said in the past that he'd vote for a Republican speaker if he were the tie-breaking vote (actually he said "the more conservative candidate"- something that Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to claim versus any congressional Republican).

Really Hall is just about 15 years behind the times- he should have switched parties years ago but he's just now getting around to it. I'm really not that mad about this, I figured he'd retire after about 50 years of public service and the seat would easily go GOP. Instead he's running again for the GOP. No harm, no foul. Still, his reasoning is bullshit. He should just say "I'm a crotchety old conservative, the GOP is full of crotchety old conservatives, I figured I'd fit in better with them."

Interestingly enough this brings us to a 16-16 split in the Texas Congressional delegation, a little more representative of the general statewide voting patterns.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:48 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Primary Shakeup

By Andrew Dobbs

The American Research Group has started tracking polls of New Hampshire and has found that while Howard Dean holds a dominating lead with 37% of the vote, John Kerry and Wes Clark are in a neck-and-neck race for second- 16% to 13% respectively. Furthermore, Kerry's numbers are trending down and Clark's trending up. Clark also will have about $13 million to blow after this quarter. If Clark beats Kerry out for second in New Hampshire you can stick JFK with a fork- he'll be done. If you'd told anyone a year ago that Kerry would be a distant second and dropping down to third place in New Hampshire they'd have thought you were nuts. Now its a fact. Additionally, some observers (most notably James Carville) believe that Kerry could pull out a second place finish in Iowa, upsetting Gephardt, a real coup. If Kerry even gets close enough to make it a nail-biter for second in Iowa and opens first up for Dean Gep will be done and then the next week Kerry will be done with Clark's place two finish. Finally, the thing is- with so many people bunched up together as "anti-Dean" candidates there's an excellent chance that they'll each get less than 15% in these states- making them ineligible for any delegates. Dean will have a commanding lead in delegates going into February 3rd and a first place finish in Arizona, Missouri, Delaware and perhaps even South Carolina and solid second place finishes everywhere else will mean that Edwards and Lieberman will be done with few if any delegates to their names. Dean will lead Clark by a very large margin meaning that if he can coast and keep from getting blown out anywhere and win where he ought to and he'll have a big lead going into Super Tuesday. After big wins in NY, CA and other delegate rich states Clark's goose will be cooked.

So what does this all mean? Its essentially a two-man race: Clark and Dean. If Gephardt wins in Iowa he gets nothing- he was supposed to win it easy and the story will be how hard it was for him to win there- and Dean has New Hampshire on lockdown barring any big missteps meaning that John Kerry lost the state that was his to lose. Gephardt has sunk so much money and effort into Iowa that he's a non-starter everywhere else. Dean and Clark are the only candidates with real money- the nomination will be a contest between the two of them.

This contest will create a fissure in the party and the only solution to it will be for them to run together after the order of their finish is decided. They balance well- Dean is the Northeastern "liberal" Clark a Southern moderate. Dean was very vocally anti-Iraq from the beginning, Clark was pro-Iraq with some caveats. They both have great grassroots campaigns, great fundraising and they are both fresh faces. If they can win Gore's states plus Arkansas (Clark's home) they'll be only one state- West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, Missouri- from winning the whole shebang. Clark's military record and Dean's independent streak will serve them well in all of those places. As remote as the possibility seemed a year ago Howard Dean might be elected president in November of this year.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

It's Official: Mayor White

By Byron LaMasters

Earlier today, Bill White was inaugurated as mayor of Houston:

In a setting that emphasized Houston's diversity, Bill White took over as mayor today and urged residents and officials to unite in making the city a better place.

"We're all in this together, and that's the way we ought to approach solving the problems of the city of Houston," White said, referring repeatedly to one of his campaign's major themes.

The mayor-elect, Controller-elect Annise Parker and most City Council members had ridden to the inaugural ceremony at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Metro's new light rail line after attending a 7 a.m. prayer breakfast downtown.

Read the Houston Chronicle article for more on the day's festivities and White's plans for Houston.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

About Us
Advertising Policies


Tip Jar!

Recent Entries
BOR Edu.
University of Texas
University Democrats

BOR News
The Daily Texan
The Statesman
The Chronicle

BOR Politics
DNC Blog: Kicking Ass
DSCC Blog: From the Roots
DCCC Blog: The Stakeholder
Texas Dems
Travis County Dems

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett
State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes
State Rep. Elliott Naishtat
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez
State Rep. Mark Strama
Linked to BOR!
Alexa Rating
Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem
Technoranti Link Cosmos
Blogstreet Blogback
American Research Group
Annenberg Election Survey
Polling Report
Rasmussen Reports
Survey USA
Texas Stuff
A Little Pollyana
Austin Bloggers
DFW Bogs
DMN Blog
In the Pink Texas
Inside the Texas Capitol
The Lasso
Pol State TX Archives
Quorum Report Daily Buzz
George Strong Political Analysis
Texas Law Blog
Texas Monthly
Texas Observer
TX Dem Blogs
100 Monkeys Typing
Alt 7
Appalachia Alumni Association
Barefoot and Naked
BAN News
Betamax Guillotine
Blue Texas
Border Ass News
The Daily DeLay
The Daily Texican
Dos Centavos
Drive Democracy Easter Lemming
Get Donkey
Greg's Opinion
Half the Sins of Mankind
Jim Hightower
Hugo Zoom
Latinos for Texas
Off the Kuff
Ones and Zeros
Panhandle Truth Squad
Aaron Peña's Blog
People's Republic of Seabrook
Pink Dome
The Red State
Rhetoric & Rhythm
Rio Grande Valley Politics
Save Texas Reps
Skeptical Notion
Something's Got to Break
Stout Dem Blog
The Scarlet Left
Tex Prodigy
View From the Left
Yellow Doggeral Democrat
TX GOP Blogs
Beldar Blog
Blogs of War
Boots and Sabers
Dallas Arena
Jessica's Well
Lone Star Times
Publius TX
Safety for Dummies
The Sake of Arguement
Slightly Rough
Daily Reads
ABC's The Note
BOP News
Daily Kos
Media Matters
NBC's First Read
Political State Report
Political Animal
Political Wire
Talking Points Memo
CBS Washington Wrap
Matthew Yglesias
College Blogs
CDA Blog
Get More Ass (Brown)
Dem Apples (Harvard)
KU Dems
U-Delaware Dems
UNO Dems
Stanford Dems
GLBT Blogs
American Blog
Boi From Troy
Margaret Cho
Downtown Lad
Gay Patriot
Raw Story
Stonewall Dems
Andrew Sullivan
More Reads
Living Indefinitely
Blogroll Burnt Orange!
BOR Webrings
< ? Texas Blogs # >
<< ? austinbloggers # >>
« ? MT blog # »
« ? MT # »
« ? Verbosity # »
Election Returns
CNN 1998 Returns
CNN 2000 Returns
CNN 2002 Returns
CNN 2004 Returns

state elections 1992-2005

bexar county elections
collin county elections
dallas county elections
denton county elections
el paso county elections
fort bend county elections
galveston county elections
harris county elections
jefferson county elections
tarrant county elections
travis county elections

Texas Media
abilene reporter news

alpine avalanche

amarillo globe news

austin american statesman
austin chronicle
daily texan online
keye news (cbs)
kut (npr)
kvue news (abc)
kxan news (nbc)
news 8 austin

beaumont enterprise

brownsville herald

college station
the battalion (texas a&m)

corpus christi
corpus christi caller times
kris news (fox)
kztv news (cbs)

crawford lone star iconoclast

dallas-fort worth
dallas morning news
dallas observer
dallas voice
fort worth star-telegram
kdfw news (fox)
kera (npr)
ktvt news (cbs)
nbc5 news
wfaa news (abc)

del rio
del rio news herald

el paso
el paso times
kdbc news (cbs)
kfox news (fox)
ktsm (nbc)
kvia news (abc)

galveston county daily news

valley morning star

houston chronicle
houston press
khou news (cbs)
kprc news (nbc)
ktrk news (abc)

laredo morning times

lockhart post-register

lubbock avalanche journal

lufkin daily news

marshall news messenger

the monitor

midland - odessa
midland reporter telegram
odessa american

san antonio
san antonio express-news

seguin gazette-enterprise

texarkana gazette

tyler morning telegraph

victoria advocate

kxxv news (abc)
kwtx news (cbs)
waco tribune-herald

krgv news (nbc)

texas cable news
texas triangle

World News
ABC News
All Africa News
Arab News
Atlanta Constitution-Journal
News.com Australia
BBC News
Boston Globe
CBS News
Chicago Tribune
Christian Science Monitor
Denver Post
FOX News
Google News
The Guardian
Inside China Today
International Herald Tribune
Japan Times
LA Times
Mexico Daily
Miami Herald
New Orleans Times-Picayune
New York Times
El Pais (Spanish)
San Francisco Chronicle
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Times of India
Toronto Star
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post

Powered by
Movable Type 3.15