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February 29, 2004

Divider, Not a Uniter

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Dean often said in his speeches that he was tired of President Bush dividing us by nationality, race, creed, gender, income, and sexual orientation. Was it because he was an angry man? No, it's because he was right. Because Bush is a diveder, not a uniter.

From PlanetOut...

Saying he can't stomach President Bush's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), a gay Republican leader in Ohio announced on Thursday he is becoming a Democrat.

In a letter to the chair of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, John Farina, a former official in the county's party organization and former president of the Cleveland chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, ended his 20-year association with the GOP. He also withdrew his candidacy for the Board of Elections' central committee in the March 2 primary.

Farina, 35, said in the letter that the president's announcement on Tuesday forced his decision.

"Quite frankly I'm sick over it," Farina wrote. "It is an insult to me as a lifelong Republican and it does nothing to strengthen marriage. It is an obviously political move that will do nothing but divide the nation even further. So much for Mr. Bush being a uniter."

Besides this, the fact that Bush can't even keep together his Senate Republicans against this thing is telling as to the fact that it is simply a sop to the right-wing (as if we didn't know that already).

This is not Compassionate Conservatism folks, it's Federally Mandated Hate based on Fear. So read the full text of the Hate Amendment below and think how those 51 words are in no one's best interest.

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:10 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Letter from the Man Who Would be President

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have been sitting on this for a couple of weeks now, but the big story over at DailyKos spurred me to post the following, hoping that it might spur my contact to reveal the rest of the letter...

On February 10, a comment was left in Joe Trippi's Change for America blog that stated the following...

hey, Joe, I have a question for you...

the night of the rally in Des Moines, after most of the people had left, I was stuck there waiting for my ride to come back, and I found a piece of paper laying near where the media had been.

it begins "Joe Trippi, our message won tonight" and is signed at the bottom "44". Is this a note that Gov Dean wrote to you that night?

anyway, I am so happy that you are already looking for a way to keep the fight going.

Posted by 2501 at February 10, 2004 11:25 PM

I e-mailed the person, Anthony T. who lives in Virginia according to DeanLink who e-mailed me back with the link to the following scan of the letter saying that he was blocking the rest out until Dean was out of the race.

If you want to know what the rest says, leave comments on this entry urging him to reveal the rest so that he may read them (since I'm sending him the link to this entry in order to protect the privacy of his e-mail).

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:17 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Endorsements...by Karl-T.

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

After some thought and much hand wringing, I have come to a decision on a number of endorsements on everything from national on down to campus politics.

President: I have been since the beginning, a Howard Dean supporter. Since he is out of the race, I have had some thinking to do. He will remain on the ballot here in Texas and is still trying to gain delegates but I know that my Senate District out in the Hill Country is probably not going to meet the 15% marker. Maybe it will here in Austin, but not likely out there. So I have reached the following conclusion.

I will now endorse John Edwards for President. But, if Dean supporters in Austin want to try to get those delegates, by all mean, vote for Dean. Back home, I will vote for Dean barring Edwards needing my help statewide on March 9 if he is still around. I will try to caucus for Dean but will go with Edwards if I need to in order to make it through the convention process. I know that doesn't seem like much of an endorsement, but if I'm going to give money or time to anyone, it's going to be Edwards because he represents to me at least a fresh positive face in politics, wheras I do not see Kerry doing much new for the party other than using it.

U.S. Congress: I endorse Lloyd Doggett for the new district he is running in that goes to Mexico. While I didn't get to enjoy him for but a year (and will soon be represented by Lamar Smith, the same one I had back in the Hill Country, even though 'back home' has been put in the Midland-Odessa District). He's the best chance for Austin to retain some chance of a congressman because it ain't happening in the other two seats and I believe it is more important to keep Austin values represented in some fashion than be forced to go with a Hispanic candidate just because that's how the seat was Perrymandered.

County Commissioner Precinct One: Celia Israel is my choice. I cannot speak for the precinct as a whole, but those here on the University Campus would be best served by Celia who represents new leadership for Austin. Her primary opponent, Ron Davis, did not spend near the time she has in talking to students and came across as very defensive in his speeches, even when no one was attacking him. In addition, I think it would be a shame for Austin to have no openly gay officials with the departure of the sheriff so Celia gets my vote.

I defer to the University Democrats endorsements (listed to the right) on the rest of the local races. I voted for all of them at our meeting and believe that they are the best candidates for each of their races.

Student Government:
I will post these on Election Day.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Students Fight Back Against Creationism in Montana

By Byron LaMasters

It was heartening to read in today's New York Times about a group of students who have organized to fight back against creationists in a small town in Montana:

— In early December, a local Baptist minister, Curtis Brickley, put up handbills inviting residents of this town, population 754, to a meeting in the junior high school gym. The topic was the teaching of evolution in the Darby schools.

Two hundred people from Darby and surrounding Ravalli County, which nurtures a deep vein of conservative religious sentiment, filed into the gym on Dec. 10. There, the well-spoken minister delivered an elaborate PowerPoint presentation challenging Charles Darwin's theories.

[...]

Within days, a group of parents, business people, teachers, students and other residents mobilized to defend Darwin against Mr. Brickley's challenge. The group, Ravalli County Citizens for Science, phoned a biotechnology firm in nearby Hamilton asking for help and was connected with Dr. Jay Evans, a research immunologist. He began looking into Mr. Brickley's claims, which were drawn in part from materials from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization affiliated with many conservative causes.

[...]

On Tuesday, there was yet another confrontation at the board meeting, and on Wednesday, about 50 Darby High School students staged a walkout carrying signs with slogans like "Don't spread the gospel into school" and "Strike against creation science." There are 39 students in this year's graduating class.

"We decided to create this group to figure out what was going on," said Aaron Lebowitz, a senior who was a founder of Citizens for Science and the chief organizer of the walkout. Partly as a result of the group, he said, "awareness has been awesome."

In a town where not just the marshal but also the mayor, the state representative, the library director and at least two of the five school board members say they have strong creationist beliefs, the Darwin defenders have had to fight to gain political traction. But even some of their staunchest opponents give them credit.

"As a group, I think they've helped focus the other perspective, which I'm thankful for," said Doug Banks, a general contractor and school board member who has favored curriculum changes that could lead to criticisms of evolution. "As much as that's concerned, they've had a positive impact."


One of the best things about the Internet is that it makes resources available for small groups of people anywhere in the country to fight back against attempts such as this. The article also credits "young, Internet-driven" supporters of Howard Dean who have a "zeal to change the world". We won't get Howard Dean elected president, but the young people that got energized into politics by Howard Dean can make a difference for progressive change (as we see here) in so many ways. It's critical for our party to keep them.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:44 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 28, 2004

Whoa! Baylor Paper Endorses Gay Marriage

By Byron LaMasters

Baylor is about the last place I would have expected this:

Back in California, San Francisco city lawyers filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing local government officials are allowed to advance their own interpretations of state constitutions.

The city also is asking Superior Court Judge James Warren to declare unconstitutional sections of the California Family Code defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman, the AP reported. San Francisco officials believe barring gay marriages violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the state constitution.

The editorial board supports San Francisco's lawsuit against the state. Taking into account equal protection under the law, gay couples should be granted the same equal rights to legal marriage as heterosexual couples. Without such recognition, gay couples, even those who have co-habitated long enough to qualify as common law spouses under many state laws, often aren't granted the same protection when it comes to shared finances, health insurance and other employee benefits, and property or power of attorney rights.

Like many heterosexual couples, many gay couples share deep bonds of love, some so strong they've persevered years of discrimination for their choice to co-habitate with and date one another. Just as it isn't fair to discriminate against someone for their skin color, heritage or religious beliefs, it isn't fair to discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation. Shouldn't gay couples be allowed to enjoy the benefits and happiness of marriage, too?

Editorial board vote: 5-2


Nice. I'm sure the Baylor administration is rolling their heads.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:41 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

A Gay Rights Victory in the South

By Byron LaMasters

A gay marriage ban was rejected by the Georgia State House.

The Georgia House narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Thursday, a surprise vote that derailed the same-sex marriage question that seemed almost certain to go to voters this fall.

Proponents of the ban fell just three votes short of clearing the final legislative hurdle. The Democrat controlled House voted 117-50 in favor of the marriage ban, short of the 120 votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment.

The ban already passed the Republican Senate, and since the governor's signature isn't required to change the constitution in Georgia, the question seemed likely to head to voters for final approval this fall.

[...]

The defeat came largely because black Democrats resisted. For much of the debate, black members compared the struggle for black voting rights to the current national debate over gay rights.


The gay community certainly owes the African-American representatives in Georgia a debt of gratitue. In fact, we owe African-American elected officials a lot. Black leaders know the struggle that gays and lesbians face, and they stand with us. It's a tremendous honor to me to know that the leaders of the battle for Civil Rights a generation ago are joining us for our fight this generation. Gays and lesbians are forever indebted to the brave African-American elected officials who stand with us in our struggle. Thank you Georgia.

Via Pandagon.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:18 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

February 27, 2004

Edwards and NC Electability

By Byron LaMasters

John Edwards will be sure to let everyone know about this poll out today from Survey USA with head-to-head matchups between Bush and Kerry and Bush and Edwards in North Carolina:

President, Head-to-Head, NC:
Bush (R) - 53%, Kerry (D) - 42%
Bush (R) - 47%, Edwards (D) - 50%
Data Collected: 2/23/04 - 2/25/04

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

C-SPAN on Campus

By Byron LaMasters

I received an email earlier today that C-SPAN will be on the UT campus tomorrow. I may try and stop by around 2 PM if I have a chance after one of my government midterms.

CSPAN will be on campus on Friday, February 26th. They will have a bus parked near the LBJ school from 10 AM to 3 PM. They will be giving tours of the bus and are willing to spend as much time as you'd like with you so come on out!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Nader Speech

By Byron LaMasters

Some commenters have criticized us and the University Democrats for protesting the Ralph Nader speech. People say that Ralph Nader will help Democrats because third parties typically take votes away from incumbents (Right... Republicans for Nader sounds just about as silly as Republicans for Sharpton). Ralph Nader and his supporters have said that Nader will attack the Bush administrations in ways that the Democratic nominee cannot. That may very well be true, but that doesn't do much good to Democrats if Nader attacks Democrats with near equal vigor. On to the speech (which I meant to post on my Nader thread last night, but didn't get around to it)...

Ralph Nader first addressed Florida. He blamed Republicans for disenfranchising thousands of voters. He blamed the Democratic mayor of Miami for siding with Republicans in the recount and having a low profile during the campaign. He blamed some other people, and said that Al Gore won Florida and he won the election and he should be president to day, and it wasn't his fault. Then Nader went into his typical speech. He railed against corporate power, then redistricting. He said that there wasn't really much difference between the two parties (though he did say he'd "rather see a Democrat elected President") that the Democrats got a D+ and the Republicans a D-. He went off on the "liberal intelligencia" that opposed his run for president, saying that they had good jobs, money, health insurance, etc. so for some reason they weren't qualified in telling him not to run for president.

Nader said that regulatory agencies were just about as bad under Democrats as under Republicans. He said that the FDA was its worst in thirty years under Clinton-Gore. Nader attacked the "military industrial complex". He attacked Democrats and Republicans for caving to it. He said that on many issues Republicans were "harsher" than Democrats but that Democrats weren't much better. Of the Democrats warnings of how bad Republicans are / can be, Nader said "A party that defines itself by the worst is a party that never wants to be best". Nader said that both parties got worse every four years because every four years both Democrats and Republicans worked to shut out separate, independent and reform minded voices. Nader attacked Democrats for abandoning the south saying "it’s a shame that Democrats abandon southern states".

Nader did spend some time articulating his campaign themes. He spoke of a living wage, renewable energy, ending corporate and military contracts for universities, requiring all contracts for Universities of over $100,000 to be available online. He blamed the two party system for voter apathy among young people. He said that only 29% of 18-24 year olds voted in 2000. He talked about voter responsibility and the need for a "serious young generation". He attacked Democrats for not standing up on issues like the Taft-Hartley law, WTO, NAFTA, etc. Nader talked about how Richard Nixon was a liberal compared to Bush and a lot of politicians of both parties today and that Nixon "keeps looking better every year".

At the end of the speech Nader did offer something of an olive branch to Democrats wondering the rational of his run. As I said earlier, Nader said that he will "take apart the Bush administration in ways that the Democrats cannot". He said that he hoped to "puts the Democratic nominee back towards sanity and away from the corporate powers". He said that "Democrats don't inspire confidence and they need a little jolt". I agree with that last statement for Democrats in the 2002 election. Democrats didn't inspire confidence. And Howard Dean's enduring legacy will be that his campaign gave Democrats that jolt that Nader speaks of. Nader will probably prove to be largely irrelevant in this year's election. Even many hardcore Greens and Nader voters in 2000 that I've spoken to are not even considering voting for him this year. I'm all for Ralph Nader going across the country attacking George W. Bush "in ways that the Democrats cannot". But what good does that achieve when he attacks the Democrats with near equal vigor? Not much in my eyes.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:39 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Mainstream Media on Perry

By Byron LaMasters

Well, as I predicted, the Austin Chronicle reported on the Perry rumors:

For the record, Naked City looked into the Perry rumors when they first surfaced some weeks ago – inevitably accompanied by the warning, "The divorce papers are being filed today!" – and found no evidence of any truth to any of them, whatsoever. Amid much finger-pointing about who was the original source (and which political party he or she belongs to), nobody will go on the record. The governor's office (perhaps understandably) refuses any and all comment beyond a one-sentence statement from Perry spokesperson Kathy Walt: "These are false, malicious, and hurtful rumors, and the Chronicle's own investigation acknowledges that fact."

We also know that numerous other reporters, from here to New York, have looked into the rumors, with, as far as we know, an identical lack of results. Nor do we expect anything we say here to have any effect on the rumors, which have become entirely self-replicating as they echo through the blogosphere.


The Quorum Report wrote this:


Like most news organizations, we here at the Quorum Report have wrestled with a relentless rumor mill over the last month and a half that has proven to be little more than an enormous distraction.

We are not going to get into all the details of ever-morphing rumors about Governor Perry, but the last six weeks make Monty Python movies seem like serious political discourse.

We break our silence because -- well frankly -- enough is enough.

This publication is as wired into the Texas political scene as well as any other, and more wired than most. We pride ourselves on our breadth of both traditional and non-traditional sources.

We have not been able to find even a scintilla of corroboration for any of the rumors. And since the rumors change every day, the matter is now simply silly.


I posted on the Perry rumors, because I thought that there was legitimate cause to warrant investigation by the mainstream media. I still don't know if there is any truth or not to the rumors, and I was very clear in all of my posts on the issue that the scandals regarding Rick Perry were only rumors. I've received multiple emails over the past week from people claiming to know something, or able to prove something regarding the scandal, but I haven't received anything that has proven the suggested rumors. I've certainly appreciated the increased traffic, and I hope that it continues, but if you're coming back here to see me post more on the Perry rumors, in all likelihood, it won't be happening unless something big is uncovered by the mainstream media.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:49 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 26, 2004

It's Spreading

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's late but I'm sure that it will be in the news cycle over the weekend as I just saw the following online at Isebrand.com...

New Paltz, NY, mayor to start issuing marriage licenses today (Friday) by IseFire - Fri 02/27/04; 12:05 am EST

The village of New Paltz, NY, will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday!

Marriage Equality New York is seeing this as the time for the New York City LGBT community to demand that Mayor Bloomberg instruct the City Clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as possible.

Apparently, there will be at NY City Hall a press conference on Sunday (Feb 29) at 1:30 pm with community leaders and elected officials to demand that marriage licenses be issued in The Big Apple.

It's not going to go away folks. I'm wondering who is going to be next? Large cities? Small liberal hamlets? Anywhere in Texas?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Life During (Culture) Wartime

By Jim Dallas

One of the wonderful things about blogs is that you get to see bloggers opinions evolve as a situation changes.

A couple weeks ago, I blogged a rather tortured rationalization for why I was "on the fence" about gay marriage, one that in retrospect was a little embarassing, because while it made sense at the time, later reflection revealed it made little sense at all.

In thinking about that faux pas, I was reminded of some people's accounts of the London blitz during World War II:

For the first few days a lot of people were very frightened. I can remember my Mother-in-Law bursting into tears and putting her gas mask on that first day; she wore it for about an hour but nothing happened and she took it off again when we gave her a cup of tea and she realised she couldn't drink it with the gas mask on!

In1940 the air raids started up proper. Like lots of others down our street we had an Anderson Shelter in our garden, but it was dreadfully damp so in the end we used to sleep under our big oak table. If the air raid sirens went off in the evening we would just ignore them and carry on eating our tea or playing cards until we heard bombs getting a bit close and then we would dive under the table for cover.

For folks, such as myself, who don't have a strong personal commitment to change feel the earth move under their feet, the first reaction is near-panic (usually expressed by talking gibberish), and an inability to figure out what to do.

The responsibility that one has is to buckle down and get over it.

Ultimately, though, one has got to pick a side, because the alternative is about as practical as trying to drink tea while wearing a gas mask.

As Atrios noted, the defensive position sought out by some Democrats over the Hate Amendment is not going to work. It'd probably be better for them to take a real position on it and simply get on with their lives (despite the likelihood of being buzz-bombed by the culture warriors).

The only responsible position now is to support legalizing gay marriage in full, all or nothing. I've decided to crawl out of the bunker, and I invite our presidential candidates and congressional candidates to do the same.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:45 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

We the People (Except for Homos)

By Byron LaMasters

Thanks to CalPundit. I'd publish it on the main page, but due to bandwidth considerations, I'll let yall check it out on the next page...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:00 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 25, 2004

Ralph Nader in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

I just returned from campus where I got to hear Ralph Nader. There were about a dozen of us from the University Democrats and another five or so people who had read Andrew's post from yesterday (it was great to meet some of our readers!). We had signs which we held up outside the auditorium before the speech ("Ralph Don't Run", "A Vote for Nader is a vote for Bush", "ABB (AN): Anyone But Bush (And Nader)", "Remember Florida", etc.) and we held up our signs and chanted "Ralph Don't Run" as he entered the auditorium, as well as after the speech. We were respectful as he spoke, as it is our hope that everyone who attended the speech ends up voting for the Democratic nominee this fall (we do share a similar progressive philosophy after all). We weren't there to make enemies, but rather to send a message. Ralph Nader said it himself. He said that exit polls showed that 38% of his voters would have voted for Gore, 25% for Bush and the rest wouldn't have voted. He used it to justify that many of his voters would not have voted and that he took votes from Bush as well. Very well, but had 38% of Nader voters voted for Gore in Florida (and 25% voted for Bush, and the rest not vote), Gore would have won Florida by about 13,000 votes and we wouldn't be talking about recounts. I'll never be able to forgive Ralph Nader for that. Never. But fortunately, we have a chance to remedy the 2000 fiasco in less than nine months. I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, I did take some notes on the speech, and I'll post on it later tonight. I'll be continuing on this thread, so you all are welcome to start the discussion here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:27 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Maybe It Is Time

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Byron's post earlier today got me thinking about the issue of gay rights in this country. And as a gay American, I of course do have many thoughts on what has been happening in our country of late.

I never thought that we would have gotten to where we are today as fast as we have.

Canada going forth with gay marriage (which hasn't led to the destuction of our neighbors to the north), the falling of the sodomy laws, a presidential candidate who signed into law the highest form of recognition for same-sex couples and ran on it and almost became the nominee, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling and then reaffirming that the denial of same-sex marriage was unconstituional, a San Francisco Mayor who went forth to issue the first same sex marriages leading to another state challenge of constitutionality, a New Mexico clerk who tried the same before being told no, a Chicago Mayor who may be open to following the lead of San Francisco...

Something is happening folks, I mean, something more than just events. It feels like the beginnings of a movement, a crisis.

Maybe it is time.

Maybe it is time to stop playing the waiting game of hoping that American public opinion will shift as time wears on.

Maybe it is time to stop the wait and see approach.

Maybe it is time to realize that now is the oppertunity was have been waiting for to open up this issue to the national dialogue.

It's not going to just go away and be an election year issue only for 2004. And I think that Bush and Co. realize that too and that's why he came down on the side of pushing the Marriage Amendment. Because one way or another gay marriages are going to happen in states in this country. And those legal couples in Massachusetts are going to move to other states in the nation and are going to challenge the state DOMA laws and they will start to fall. And as they start to fall, they will challenge the national DOMA and if that falls, what else is left to deny gay marriages from being realized as the new norm?

Maybe it is time, because I believe it's going to happen and it's going to happen within the next 5 years.

But right now?

I will fight the Federal Marriage Amendment because it's morally wrong to support discrimination in our founding document. If we want to call ourselves first world leaders, we can't let this happen.

I will not vote for any candidate that supports the FMA or similar action to amend any state constitution. While I can stomach for now candidates that are not 'pro-gay marriage,' I will not vote for them if they go for the FMA. That includes you John Kerry if you decide to flip-flop your coifed up little self one more time. I live in Texas so I can vote Green and not give a damn in the general presidential election.

I believe that this family is not a threat to our national stability. I believe that this sight makes me think about the underlying frustration in the gay community. I believe these people are scary homophobes. I belive that this man doesn't deserve four more years of policy making. I believe that this governor had a bad face day. And I think that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is showing courage not often found in politicians by saying that he will risk his political career for this fight.

I also believe that this couple is still not a threat to your marriage.

Have any of you married couples felt the bonds of your love unraveling this past week? Any parents suddenly filing for divorce because of those shock waves being sent out from the East and West Coasts?

I thought not.

Maybe it is time.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:40 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Shame on Urban Outfitters

By Byron LaMasters

This is NOT COOL.

Yeah, it's via Drudge. Grrr. If I see someone wearing one, I'll have a few choice words to say the least (and that's if I'm having a good day)...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:12 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Concerns About Kerry

By Byron LaMasters

Reading ABC's The Note today remind me of why I'm leaning towards Edwards. I don't think I'd go as far as saying that John Kerry makes me uneasy, because in all likelihood, I'll spend the next eight months defending John Kerry as the great hope for the American restoration. But what I don't understand about Kerry is why did he vote against DOMA if he essentially favors it now (and I don't mean to take anything away from Kerry voting against DOMA - it was a courageous thing to do)?

Kerry did the round of network morning shows today, slamming the President on gay marriage and accusing him of trying to "divide the country" -- and defending against charges that he's a flip-flopper. A quick look:

On ABC's "Good Morning America," Kerry told Charlie Gibson that as a matter of law under the Defense of Marriage Act, the State of Ohio would not have to recognize a marriage performed in the State of Massachusetts.

Kerry said that he does not favor repealing DOMA, even though he voted against it in the Senate based on the rationale that it represented an "outright effort of gay bashing on the floor of the United States." He compared DOMA to President Bush's effort to amend the Constitution and said they were both done for the same purpose: "to divide the country." (There was no mention of President Clinton's pretty key role in signing DOMA.).


Ok, maybe I'm overreacting. Yes, DOMA was only opposed by 14 votes in the Senate, and repealing isn't really a political possibility, but Kerry should have stood by his vote and said that it wasn't necessary then, and it's not necessary now, because individual states have the right to decide for themselves how they will recognize marriage.

Moving on was more on Kerry while stumping in Ohio yesterday:


Inside Astros Shapes of Struthers, Ohio, Kerry seemed to have trouble connecting with the 90 manufacturing plant workers gathered at the closed to the public event. Kerry twice referred to Ohio as Iowa, answering seven questions in 27 minutes, with three of the responses taking well over five minutes.

In a scene eerily reminiscent of a pre-staff shake-up Kerry, the Senator drifted from a question on retirement pensions into a riff on "No Child Left Behind," explained the Bush Administration cuts in veterans' benefits by blaming failures inside the Office of Management and Budget, and labeled the Bush Administration's foreign policy a "folly."


Rambling answers, confusing Ohio with Iowa, not connecting with his audience? Grrr... This is an easy problem to fix, one would think. Kerry's advisors and consultants need to get him out of this. Like so many politicians, John Kerry likes to hear himself speak. Now, I don't mind. I happen to like sitting down and watching C-SPAN for hours on end (of, well sometimes) watching politicians listen to themselves speak. But most American's don't. They don't want simple questions to be answered in seven minute mini-speeches. Most American voters want a message, and someone that can sell it. That's what I see John Edwards do all across the country. Kerry may have the right profile to be president, but it's hard to articulate what John Kerry's message for America is. I'm really hoping for a debate in Texas before our primary as Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting has called for. It would be helpful for people like me who are still undecided. I'll definitely keep an open mind until after Super Tuesday (so, for once, I will probably not be voting early). However, if either candidate accidentally refers to Texas as Tennessee or something, well he can kiss my primary vote goodbye.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DMN: 2004 to be the "Most consequential presidential election in a generation"

By Byron LaMasters

For once, I wholeheartedly agree with a Dallas Morning News Editorial on the candidacy of Ralph Nader:

Mr. Nader plans to plug away for gay marriage, universal health care and a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and against the North American Free Trade Agreement, tax cuts and globalism.

Well, fine. It's a free country. But it's also a country facing much more serious challenges than the last time Mr. Nader ran. On the most important issue of all – how America will deal with the post-9-11 world – Mr. Nader's notion that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties is absurd. Because of the two competing visions of America's place in the world, this is likely to be the most consequential presidential election in a generation. Given those stakes, it's hard to see that Mr. Nader's gadfly candidacy serves any useful purpose this year, besides mischief-making for Democrats.


Amen. Ralph Nader serves no useful purpose in the 2004 election. Period. Let's do our part in Texas to keep him off the ballot in Texas.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

It's the Economy (or War) Stupid!

By Byron LaMasters

Even though recent polls show that the majority of Americans oppose a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, even in socially conservative states like Missouri where such a proposal might be a winner for Bush, it's very low on people's list of priorities. It's the economy, stupid. The LA Times reports:

Here in the political swing state of Missouri, considered a top prize in the 2004 presidential election, voters overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage. They also solidly back the concept of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

A statewide poll in late January found that 62% of Missouri voters oppose granting same-sex couples the same benefits as married pairs. And 53% favor a constitutional amendment, according to the poll, which was conducted by the St. Louis Post Dispatch and television station KMOV.

That puts Missouri — which narrowly supported Bush in the 2000 election — on the conservative side compared with the nation as a whole. A majority of Americans oppose gay and lesbian marriage, but polls indicate that less than 40% support a constitutional change.

An ABC News--Washington Post survey last month found that six in 10 Americans prefer to let states define marriage on their own.

A majority of Missouri voters, by contrast, would welcome a federal standard like the one Bush has endorsed.

But that doesn't mean that Bush has an automatic edge on his Democratic rival here in the heartland come November.

Even in this community of 11,000 — which overwhelmingly backed Bush in the last election — voters made it clear that gay marriage is not high on their list of concerns as they weigh presidential candidates.

They're far more interested, they said, in hearing detailed proposals to create jobs, make healthcare more affordable and improve education. They're also upset with the course of the war in Iraq — and some are hoping a new commander in chief might turn things around.

"I got to church on Sunday and I read my Bible, and my point of view is that marriage should be a man and a woman, so I'm for what Bush is saying," said Ray Spavale, 64. "But I might vote for [Massachusetts Sen. John F.] Kerry this time around. Bush jumped into the war in Iraq too soon. I don't like to see our young men dying."

"It would take a lot more than this one issue to make me vote for Bush," said Carolyn Baynes, 70, a retired credit specialist who supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Interviews with two dozen shoppers Tuesday in this well-off suburb west of St. Louis found passions running high on the subject of gay and lesbian marriage. Just about everyone had an opinion — and a vehement one — on whether the state should sanction same-sex unions.


Sure, everyone has an opinion about the gay marriage issue. It's good that we're finally having a debate about it in America. The only way that we'll actually make progress on social issues and for equal rights for all Americans is if we actually force people to talk about it. It'll be a long process, but what's clear here, is that even conservative voters in middle-America aren't buying it. They're not convinced by the scare tactics of the right. The anti-gay marriage amendment may be a factor in their voting, but only after issues like the ongoing war in Iraq, education and jobs. The article goes on:


Yet many also expressed ambivalence about turning their private, often religiously rooted, beliefs into a political crusade.

[...]

Construction contractor Robert Diamante has made up his mind: Much as he recoils from the idea of same-sex marriage, he does not want to tamper with the Constitution. He's uneasy with the federal government imposing a value system on its citizens — even a value system he happens to agree with.

"This is America," said Diamante, 39. "People can live their own lives."

[...]

Over at Wal-Mart, however, Ruth Ruprecht looked up from a stack of toasters to say she couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. A retired educator, Ruprecht, 73, said she figured gay marriage was inevitable — a concept she, like much of America, would have to learn to accept.

"We're breaking a new frontier," Ruprecht said. "You object for a little while, but you get used to it. This is a way of life now. It's going to happen."


Gay marriage is inevitable. Just look at the poll numbers for young people. Not only to most polls show that most young voters (18-29) oppose a anti-gay marriage consitutional amendment, polls show that most young voters, in fact, support gay marriage. Sure, young people may not vote as much today, but in a generation, we'll be the leaders of America, and our generation will see that this civil rights battle is won, once and for all. Just go to most any college campus (ok, well maybe not Liberty University of Bob Jones, but you get the idea). Being openly gay in most colleges is like being openly Black or openly left-handed. It's not really an issue (well that is for everyone but the YCT folks who have their straight pride days and White's only scholarships).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

State Bar Polls for Judicial Candidates

By Byron LaMasters

I recently received an email of the State Bar Polls for the Texas Judicial races (I think they're on the Quorum Report as well, but you need a subscription. Among incumbents, Steven Wayne Smith is the only Judge to lose the bar poll. I'm pleasantly surprised with David Van Os's showing (48%), and I'm certainly happy that Jan Patterson won a large majority in her race. She spoke with the University Democrats last Wednesday. Anyway, here's the results:

TEXAS SUPREME COURT:

Place 5, Justice-Full Term:
(R)-Paul Green, San Antonio --72%– (5410)
(R)-Steven Wayne Smith, Austin –28% – (2061) (I)

Place 9, Justice-Full Term
(D)-David Van Os, San Antonio – 48% – (3625)
(R)-Scott Brister, Hockley – 52% – (3913) (AI)

THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

Place 2, Judge-Full Term
(R)-Guy James Gray, Jasper – 19% – (1097)
(R)-Lawrence "Larry" Meyers, Fort Worth – 56% – (3310) (I)
(D)-Quanah Parker, Abilene – 25% – (1472)

Place 5, Judge-Full Term
(R)-Cheryl Johnson, Austin – 51% -- (2845) (I)
(R)-Patricia Noble, Dallas – 26% -- (1469)
(D)-Thomas Edward Oxford, Groves – 23% -- (1266)

Place 6, Judge-Full Term
(D)-J. R. Molina, Fort Worth – 33% -- (1930)
(R)-Michael E Keasler, Austin – 42% – (2443) (I)
(R)-Steven M. Porter, Boerne – 25% – (1453)

1ST COURT OF APPEALS (Houston- 14counties)

Place 4, Justice-Full Term

(R)-Evelyn Keyes, Houston – 59% -- (966) (I)
(D)-Jim Sharp, Houston – 41% – (668)

3RD COURT OF APPEALS (Austin- 24 counties)

Place 4, Justice-Full Term
(R)-Bill Green, Austin –6%-- (101)
(R)-Ernest C. Garcia, Austin – 24% -- (387)
(D)-Jan Patterson, Austin –69% -- (1097) (I)

Place 6, Justice-Unexpired Term
(R)-Bob Pemberton, Austin – 48% -- (700) (AI)
(D)-Diane Henson, Austin – 37% (537)
(R)-William C. (Bill) Davidson, Austin – 15% – (212)

9TH COURT OF APPEALS (Beaumont- 11 counties)

Place 2, Justice-Full Term

(R)-Charles Kreger, Conroe – 64% – (149)
(R)-Ralph K. Harrison, The Woodlands – 36% – (83)

10TH COURT OF APPEALS (Waco- 16 counties)

Place 3, Justice-Full Term
(D)-Boyd Mangrum, Waco – 21% -- (56)
(R)-Felipe Reyna, Lorena – 67% – (175) (AI)
(R)-Lynnan Locke Kendrick, Waco – 12% – (32)

13TH COURT OF APPEALS (Corpus Christi- 20 counties)

Place 3, Justice-Full Term
(R)-Alicia Cuellar, Corpus Christi – 33% – (142)
(D)-Linda Yanez, Edinburg –67% – (285) (I)

14TH COURT OF APPEALS (Houston- 14 counties)

Place 9, Justice-Full Term
(R)-Eva Guzman, Houston – 76% – (1482) (I)
(R)-Lloyd Wayne Oliver, Houston –24% -- (465)

(I) - denotes incumbent
(AI)- denotes appointed incumbent

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Shocker! Kerry Wins 3 More

By Byron LaMasters

Here's the results, via CNN:

Candidate Vote % State Del

Utah (100% reporting)
Kerry 55% - 5
Edwards 30% - 3
Kucinich 7% - 0
Dean 4% - 0

Idaho (100% reporting)
Kerry - 54% - 12
Edwards 22% - 6
Dean 11% - 0
Kucinich 6% - 0

Hawaii (97% reporting)
Kerry 50% - 14
Kucinich 26% - 6
Edwards 14% - 0
Dean 323 8% - 0


A few things of note. Edwards probably could have made a run for a victory in Utah or Idaho if he had just visited there. On the other hand, though, who cares? A visit could have given him maybe a handful more delegates, which compared to the delegates at stake next Tuesday is completely insignificant. Why bother picking up a delegate or two in these states when you can pick up a few dozen in say - Georgia or Ohio. That is, of course, unless your name is Dennis Kucinich. He campaigned in Hawaii, and it paid off with a strong second place with 26% of the vote, which was good for six delegates. Dennis Kucinich, may just get more delegates than dates after all.

Back to Edwards - He's closing in Georgia (via kos) in the American Research Group poll. Kerry leads 45-37% there. I'll bet on Edwards scoring a win there (even though John Lewis and Max Cleland are working hard for Kerry). New York looks just about out of reach for Edwards (Kerry has a 54-21% lead), and Ohio is closer but still a solid (46-27%) Kerry lead. Then again, five days before the Wisconsin primary, Kerry had a 53-16% lead in Wisconsin, and that 37 point lead eroded 31 points in five days. Anything can happen, and don't forget that the schedule gets a lot easier for Edwards after Super Tuesday.

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

February 24, 2004

Protest Ralph Nader Tomorrow in Austin

By Andrew Dobbs

Hey everyone, I'm going to be taking some time out of the incredibly hectic Student Government campaign I've been working on to tell Ralph Nader not to run for President. It will probably be next to impossible for him to get on the ballot in Texas (he'll need to gather a minimum of 65,000 signatures in 2 months, you'll probably need at least 100,000 since many of them won't work out) but we need to nip this in the bud. Make it clear that the grassroots are against him reelecting Bush.

Ralph will be on the University of Texas campus in the Geology Building, room 2.324 at 7:00 pm. It will get crowded fast and we want to be visible so let's say we meet up at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue on the East Mall at 5:30 PM with signs already made. "Ralph Don't Run" or "No Ralph No" or "A Vote for Nader is a Vote for Bush" or "No More Floridas" or something to that effect would be great. Let's get a big crowd out there and let him know that the grassroots are not going to let him spoil this election.

5:30 PM, MLK Statue, UT Campus, Ralph Nader Protest. Have your signs made and I'll see you there.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:29 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Tell Mary Cheney to Stand up to Bush's Attack on her Family

By Byron LaMasters

Send a letter to Mary Cheney.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Americans Oppose Hate Amendment

By Byron LaMasters

According to this National Annenberg Election Survey poll:

Group / % For / % Against
Total 41% 48%
Men 44% 46%
Women 39% 50%
Northeast 36% 50%
Midwest 41% 47%
South 48% 43%
West 36% 56%
18-29 years old 30% 58%
30-44 years old 42% 49%
45-64 years old 44% 45%
65+ years old 49% 40%
Attend church more than once a week 62% 33%
Once a week 52% 39%
Once or twice a Month 39% 47%
A few times a year 29% 59%
Never 29% 59%
Republican 57% 35%
Democrat 34% 57%
Independent 37% 52%
Has gay friend, family, or colleague 34% 56%
No gay friend, family, colleague 50% 42%
Conservative 56% 36%
Moderate 37% 52%
Liberal 26% 66%
Married or living as married 46% 43%
Others 34% 57%
High school or less 43% 45%
Some college 41% 50%
College degree or more 39% 52%

Now, the poll also shows that most Americans do oppose gay marriage, but it looks as if many Americans who might otherwise feel uneasy about gay marriage, see this proposed amendment as hateful pander to the far right.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Hate Amendment

By Byron LaMasters

Henseforth, on this blog, I shall refer to the Federal Marriage Amendment as the Hate Amendment. George W. Bush can't win this election on jobs or on foreign policy (because he's miserably failed in both regards), so he's playing the gay card. Blame it on the homos. Andrew Sullivan (someone who endorsed George W. Bush in 2000 if you all remember) has correctly declared (on his website, via a reader) that Bush's full endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment as a declaration of war against gays and lesbians in America:

The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself. The document that should be uniting the country will now be used to divide it, to single out a group of people for discrimination itself, and to do so for narrow electoral purposes. Not since the horrifying legacy of Constitutional racial discrimination in this country has such a goal been even thought of, let alone pursued. Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth.

Amen to that (well, other than the fact that I never bought into the whole uniter crap in 2000). Never before has the United State constitution been amended to rewrite discrimination into that sacred document. It took hundreds of years to amend the constitution to do away with discrimination against African-Americans (XIII, XIV, XV) and women (XIX), and now the President of the United States, here in the twenty-first century wants to rewrite discrimination into the United States Constitution. This is not only a declaration of war against gays and lesbians, as Andrew Sullivan writes, this is a declaration of war against the United States Constitution.

There is some good news, however. Karl-Thomas wrote earlier that he wasn't sure if he could vote for Kerry in November based on some of his previous statements on the issue. Karl-Thomas, I'm here to tell you that you can gladly vote for Kerry or Edwards. Sure, neither of them support gay marriage (but then again, neither did Howard Dean), but both went on the record this afternoon as opposing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It's our job to hold them to it. The AP reports:


Democrats accused Bush of tinkering with a document that is the bedrock of American democracy to divert election-year attention from his record — an allegation the White House denied. Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites), D-Mass., who hopes to run against Bush in this year's presidential election, said: "I believe President Bush is wrong."

"All Americans should be concerned when a president who is in political trouble tries to tamper with the Constitution of the United States at the start of his re-election campaign," said Kerry, who opposes gay marriage but will oppose the amendment if it reaches the Senate floor. Bush is "looking for a wedge issue to divide the American people," Kerry said.

Campaigning in Georgia, where the state legislature is debating its own ban on gay marriage, Sen. John Edwards (news - web sites), D-N.C., said he was against the president's idea of a constitutional amendment. "I don't personally support gay marriage myself," he said. "My position has always been that it's for the states to decide."


Ok, so now I just need to decide which one of these guys I'm going to vote for...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:00 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 23, 2004

More Planoization (Special NCLB Edition)

By Jim Dallas

The New York Times today has a story about grassroots reaction to the No Child Left Behind Law. Seems that in more than a few states, the people are on the verge of revolution.

It's both sad and amusing to read the comments people are making about the law after they've discovered just how hard it is to meet federal expectations:

Last fall, 245 of Utah's 810 schools were put on a watch list because they had failed to make "adequate yearly progress," said Steven O. Laing, Utah's state school superintendent. Many had been considered excellent schools, but ended up on the list because one small group of students — fifth-grade special education students, for instance — had failed to reach academic targets.

In a meeting with Mr. Meyer on Tuesday, several Republican senators asked questions reflecting concerns about schools put on watch lists in their districts. Mr. Meyer described the law as a tool that helps states to measure school performance, while giving them the flexibility to set their own proficiency benchmarks.

"It's a pretty dynamic business management model," Mr. Meyer said.

After the meeting, Senator Bill Wright, a Republican who is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said Mr. Meyer had done "a great job."

"But we still have a difference of opinion about how N.C.L.B. would affect Utah," Senator Wright said.

An hour later, Mr. Meyer met with school superintendents. He heard Steven C. Norton, superintendent of a rural district in northern Utah, report that parents were upset that two schools had been put on a watch list because the law required that 95 percent of students take the standardized tests and one student less than that qualifying threshold had shown up on testing day.

"These are die-hard conservative Republicans, and they feel that this is like crying wolf when they see their school labeled for frivolous reasons," Mr. Norton said in an interview that he had told Mr. Meyer.

That evening, addressing 50 educators and parents at Kearns High School in a Salt Lake City suburb, Mr. Meyer said that American schools needed to improve so that workers could compete for jobs in a globalized economy. The law, he said, empowered educators by identifying students who needed special help and resources.

Russel Sias, a retired engineer and registered Republican whose daughter is a middle school teacher, said to a reporter at the meeting: "I feel like we're hearing the best vacuum cleaner salesman in the world. They're going to label every school in the country as failing, and they call it empowerment?"

Truth be told, many schools are probably getting unfairly labeled as underperforming for frivolous reasons. But what irks me about this story is that it seems to attribute too much to the law's mistakes and too little to the fact that some schools simply weren't as good as people believed they were.

The "big lie" of the 2000 Election (discounting the Florida recount and Social Security privatization), was that there was an education crisis sweeping America. Strangely, though, many folks came to believe there was a crisis - but that this crisis only affected other people's children.

The NCLB law's tough accountability stance seems in part based upon this "crisis" mentality, which is why I find it funny people are suddenly having to confront the reality that, for the most part, most American schools could be criticized if you just set the bar high enough (even though the reasonable and non-panicky thing to say is that most schools are doing a fairly good job for most of their students).

(And the reality that federal intervention in public education - particularly one that metastasized into a multi-billion dollar unfunded mandate - is going to be a real pain in the neck).

On the other hand, if NCLB it has had one positive impact, has been that it has forced people to recognize that there was real educational deficiency - and it wasn't just being ghettoized in the inner city; it was being pushed out of sight into special education and other dark corners (the real crisis we weren't being told about).

I hope we all learn something from this experience.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rock The Vote Blog

By Byron LaMasters

This is cool to see. Rock the Vote has a blog. They've got some interesting info about Gen-X voting apathy, gay marriage, the Janet Jackson / Super Bowl incident and voting rights for students at Prairie View A&M University. Check it out...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No, I'm not Behind This

By Byron LaMasters

And no, I won't be attending. I have two exams tomorrow, but it does look as if some folks are planning a little event tomorrow morning at the governors mansion. It seems a bit silly to me, but maybe it will give the Austin Chronicle something to report.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:31 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

A Dean / Edwards Alliance

By Byron LaMasters

There are certainly signals of such an alliance, and as I wrote last week, Dean and Edwards are talking, although I don't really see Dean endorsing Edwards anytime soon. Reuters reports that some Dean state organizations are helping Edwards:

Edwards is hoping for an endorsement from former rival Howard Dean, the ex-governor of Vermont who dropped out of the race last week. He has benefited in several states from the support of Dean's political organization and on Monday announced his endorsement by two leaders of the "Generation Dean" youth movement.

"We're going to do what we've got to do to get the word out for Edwards," Dean's former Ohio state coordinator Steve Chaffin told Reuters after endorsing him this week.


Among other former Dean supporters backing Edwards, Kos endorsed Edwards yesterday, and offered a strong case for undecided voters like myself to support Edwards. Early voting in Texas started today, and for the first time in awhile, I won't be voting on one of the first days of early voting. Instead, I think I'll wait until after Super Tuesday to see what happens. I'm currently leaning towards Edwards, but still undecided. Andrew has told me that he plans on voting today (for Edwards), so I'm sure he'll write on the experience when he has a chance.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:15 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Break a Leg

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's Monday again, so time for some humor here on the BOR. Our first piece is from Fredericksburg. No, not my hometown out in the Hill Country but historic Fredericksburg, Virginia.

A Fredericksburg man has been charged with yanking off a neighbor's prosthetic leg and beating him with it during an argument.

Authorities say the fight started when the victim, Michael Clapp, 38, discovered a bottle of medicine missing from his Townsend Boulevard apartment Wednesday night.

Clapp suspected his neighbor, 27-year-old Rodney Prophitt, and went next door to confront him around 7:15 p.m., city police spokesman Jim Shelhorse said. When he did, police say, Prophitt knocked Clapp to the ground, then pulled off his artificial leg and struck him with it several times.

"At some point, Mr. Clapp was able to grab his leg back, get back to his apartment and call 911," Shelhorse said.

Police charged Prophitt with felonious assault and petty larceny. Clapp was treated at Mary Washington Hospital for a broken nose and other facial injuries. Shelhorse did not know what type of medication was taken or why Clapp has a prosthetic leg.

Ok, I'm sure Mr. Clapp didn't think it was funny but come on, it's not everyday that one gets beaten with their own body parts.

For more humor, this time involving our President and his Team, check out the extended entry...

Here ya go.

Hot on the heels of the capture of Saddam Hussein, security guards at New York's Kennedy airport today arrested an individual, later identified as a public school teacher, trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney-General John Ashcroft said he believed the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

"As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are three sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.

"I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence," the President said, adding: "Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."

President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scale never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."

Attorney-General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertain of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

500,000 to 1,000,000 Protesters Expected at GOP Convention

By Byron LaMasters

This could easily turn into a circus. The New York Times reports:

Though the Police Department and many protest organizers have been reluctant to predict how many people will ultimately turn out for protests, estimates have ranged from 500,000 people to a million.

Six months before any delegate is to take a seat at Madison Square Garden, it is clear that many groups are already planning strategy and activities. Labor unions, environmentalists, self-declared anarchists and others who merely label themselves as anti-Bush or anti-Republican are making plans to turn out. Barely a week passes without several planning sessions in New York, focusing on everything from housing and tactics to legal strategy and what to expect in interactions with the police.


Are Bush / Rove etc., still deluded into thinking Bush can actually carry New York? Hah.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:41 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 22, 2004

Bush Booed at California GOP Event

By Byron LaMasters

It's really great to see the GOP implode. Now, George W. Bush is getting booed by Republicans. The LA Times reports:

An uproar over illegal immigration roiled the state Republican convention on Saturday as party leaders struggled to keep the rank and file united behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bush.

Hundreds of GOP loyalists booed the president at a rally where U.S. Senate hopeful Howard Kaloogian and his allies denounced Bush's plan to give temporary legal status to undocumented workers.

"Enough is enough!" the crowd shouted. "Enough is enough!"

A Kaloogian supporter, Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, told the crowd he knew a gynecologist who surveyed patients about the plan and found it rated "right below genital herpes."

Schwarzenegger fared no better than Bush. Even staunch allies of the governor distanced themselves from his effort to strike a deal with Democrats on a bill to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista warned that the move would "empower criminal aliens."


It's always fun to see Tom Tancredo screw with whatever Hispanic outreach attempt that Bush is trying to make. Via Atrios who has now enabled trackbacks thanks to Haloscan.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Buy more Girl Scout cookies

By Jim Dallas

Because Atrios said so.

Because my young(er) sister, who is a Brownie Scout, said so.

And because the nutters in Waco said not to do so:

This year's annual Girl Scout cookie sale is going well, despite, or perhaps because of calls for a boycott over the local council's sponsorship of Planned Parenthood's "Nobody's Fool Conference" and the groups’ decision to honor Planned Parenthood's executive director.

"We're pleased to report that the cookie sales have been going very well. All the media attention has definitely put us in the spotlight and those that are very much in support of girl scouts and want to show their support of girl scouts, have been going out of their way to find out where they can purchase cookies, " says local Girl Scouts Executive Director Beth Vivio.

Vivio says some residents are dropping by the scout office to place orders-- something that's never happened before.

And some regular cookie buyers are doubling their orders.

But there have been a few negative incidents...

Vivio says some young cookie sellers in Temple were the target of what she calls inappropriate comments as a result of the controversy.

Pro Life Waco's John Piscotta is the voice on the radio spots calling for the boycott, including a new one that went on the air this week.

He says his group is not going after the girl scouts and that the ads-- target adults.

Pisciotta say he was asked by the station manager of KBDE, a Waco Christian radio station, to make the public aware of the affiliation between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood.

"I regret if the nice relationships that some people have with their scout organizations of troops have been disrupted, but there are also many moms and dads that are shocked by this information," says Pisciotta.

In response to the ads, Vivio says, "We feel like we are being used by this individual and his attempt to further his cause. Certainly, he's entitled to his beliefs and has a lot of people who support what he's doing, but it's very unfortunate that the Girl Scouts and particularly the young girls we serve are being used in this way."

Some parents have pulled their daughters out of the Girl Scouts because of the affiliation with Planned Parenthood, but others remain supportive.

Whether the council continues to co-sponsor the annual Nobody's Fool Conference is a question that will be addressed at a board meeting next month.

Vivio says it's now become an internal issue that has strong support on both sides.

Like Atrios, I'm waiting for the Boy Scouts to stop caving into the nutters.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:19 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Blog Ads of a Different Kind

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Bush may be gearing up to release some if his $143 million in the first blast of ads on television but it seems the RNC has started their part on the web.

Yesterday I checking out the statistics for Burnt Orange Report traffic, which had exploded because of Byron's latest posting about the Rick Perry Rumors. There on top of the Site Meter Report was the latest banner ad from the Rublican National Committee which I managed to capture.

BORrnc.JPG

Interesting that they were using Edwards for their picture if they are so sure that John Kerry will be their opposition. Though I have wondered if it may be their intention to start attacking Kerry this next week in the lead up to Super Tuesday voting so that Kerry has to defend from two sides and give Edwards a chance of slipping in some wins. (Conspiracy: Hurt Kerry now so that Edwards becomes the nominee because they would rather run against him and have the money to afford this even if it doesn't work and Kerry just gets damaged?)

Either way, I went ahead and clicked on the ad to see where it went to. It was just the usual front page for getting people to find out more about Bush. But it did have the following interesting piece which I captured as well and I bracketed the quote I will refer to.

BORrnc2.JPG

Now that the total National Debt is over $7,000,000,000,000 (seven trillion dollars) and the year's shortfall is a mere half a Trillion dollars, I'm having trouble seeing where and how we are not denying, ignoring, or passing along a problem to future generations.

UPDATE: A reader by the name of Benjamin L. has sent me a screenshot of his own by e-mail. He had this to say..."The RNC has been running their ads for several weeks now. I took this screencap two weeks ago, and I think you'll agree they aren't doing the best job of targetting them. Feel free to post it." So I am. It's in the extended entry because it's kinda big.

UPDATE 2: Kudos to 100 Monkeys Typing for yet another great example. Click here and then click on the ad. It's interesting.

tomtoles.jpg

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:39 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 21, 2004

First San Francisco, Now New Mexico

By Byron LaMasters

A New Mexico county has begun issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples the AP reports:

A lesbian couple was issued a marriage license and exchanged vows outside the courthouse Friday as other same-sex couples lined up for their chance to tie the knot.

At least a half-dozen gay and lesbian couples waited outside the Sandoval County courthouse after county clerk Victoria Dunlap began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

[...]

Dunlap said she made the decision after county attorney David Mathews said New Mexico law is unclear.

"This has nothing to do with politics or morals," she said. "If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can't withhold it. This office won't say no until shown it's not permissible."


Via Skeptical Notion.

Will Chicago be next?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

This is why the Circuit Courts Matter

By Byron LaMasters

Because when enough of Bush's right-wing appointees get themselves in the judiciary, we start to see right-wing judicial activism (not to mention that this happened on the same day the Bush appointed anti-choice activist Bill Pryor to the 11th Circuit) like we saw in the 5th Circuit yesterday, when they agreed to hear arguments to reconsider Roe V. Wade. The Houston Chronicle reports:

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments on a motion to reconsider the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 31 years ago.

Norma McCorvey, the former plaintiff known as "Jane Roe" who now actively opposes abortion, filed the motion in June seeking to have Roe v. Wade overturned. She said her request is based on evidence of the negative effects of abortion that didn't exist in 1973.


Negative effects of abortion that didn't exist in 1973?!??!?!?! Excuse me? Is she suggesting that the negative effects of abortion today are greater than that of a back alley (coathanger, etc.) abortion in 1973? This woman must be mad. It's one thing to argue that abortion is wrong, immoral, takes a life, etc., but to claim that the there are negative effects to legalized abortion that didn't exist in 1973 when abortion was illegal is outrageous. Anyway, on with the article:


A federal district court threw our her request in June, saying it wasn't made within a "reasonable time." But the New Orleans-based appeals court has agreed to hear McCorvey's arguments March 2.

McCorvey said from her Dallas home today that she is heartened by the decision.

"It's something that I've wanted ever since day one and it's happening," McCorvey, 56, said of overturning Roe v. Wade. "This will be a lifetime dream come true for me that children will no longer be slaughtered from out of their mothers' wombs."

[...]

[Law School Professor] Schenck said he was surprised the court agreed to hear McCorvey's arguments in a case that he believes is closed.

"At this point, the case is moot and she's presenting at best a political question," Schenck said.


Exactly. This case is closed, and the 5th Circuit, as right-wing as they may be, has no authority to overturn Roe. V. Wade. Thank God that Bush hasn't had the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, because if he had, this case could go right back to the Supreme Court, and Roe could be overturned. So join with me now, and pray for the health of John Paul Stevens.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:53 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Gay Marriage Continues

By Byron LaMasters

Another ruling, and more gays and lesbians get married:

Gay and lesbian couples won another reprieve Friday when a judge declined to immediately stop San Francisco from granting them marriage licenses, saying conservative groups failed to prove the weddings would cause irreparable harm.

Judge Ronald Evans Quidachay denied the Campaign for California Families' request for a temporary restraining order but said the group did have the right to a hearing on their argument that the city is violating state law.

The conservative group argued that the weddings harm all Californians who voted in 2000 for Proposition 22, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The judge suggested that the rights of the gay and lesbian couples appeared to be more substantial.

"If the court has to weigh rights here, on the one hand you are talking about voting rights, and on the other you are talking about equal rights," Quidachay said.

Quidachay consolidated the Campaign for California Families' lawsuit against the city with one filed by another conservative group, and told lawyers for both sides to work out between themselves when the next hearing would be held.


Heh. The pressure is finally getting to Ahnold as he's written a letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer:


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, facing mounting calls for action from within his own party, ordered Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Friday to intervene immediately to stop San Francisco from granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In a letter to Lockyer released just hours after a Superior Court Judge in San Francisco refused to put an immediate halt to the marriages, Schwarzenegger directed the state's top lawyer "to take immediate steps" to obtain a court ruling that the city's actions are illegal.

"Our civilized society and legal system is based upon a respect for and adherence to the rule of law," the governor wrote. "The City and County of San Francisco's unfortunate choice to disregard state law and grant marriage certificates to gay couples directly undermines this fundamental guarantee. As Attorney General, you have the authority to take legal action to require the City and County of San Francisco to comply with the laws of the State.

"Because the City and County of San Francisco's actions are directly contrary to state law and present an imminent risk to civil order, I hereby direct you to take immediate steps to obtain a definitive judicial resolution of this controversy."

The Schwarzenegger administration released the letter shortly before the governor made an 18-minute speech at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, where he received a standing ovation.


Among other related news, former state assemblywoman and current Board of Equalization member Carole Migden was married yesterday by Mayor Newsome.


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:40 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 20, 2004

Ok, I'm Going to let this rest

By Byron LaMasters

Yeah, I think it's best I take the advice of a few people from the last thread and of some other people I've spoken to. I tired of posting on this, on all the rumors and hearsay, and while I think there is a story here, I know that there's multiple mainstream media sources searching the story, and if there's something there (barring a massive coverup), we'll hear about it. And I'll be sure to post about it when there is. For now, though, I'm just going to get back to blogging on other stuff.

Update: Well, I'm really just torn on all of this. If anything substantial comes my way, I'll post it, but I'm getting a little tired of just reporting hearsay and rumors. As I've said, the mainstream media IS ON THIS. And they have many more resources and contacts than I do, and they're on the case. I'll continue to follow what happens, and I'll use my judgement in what I post. But it's hard to not mention this. If anything, it'll give you a good laugh (via the Agonist).

-Byron

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:12 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Kerry has Big Lead in NY

By Byron LaMasters

Conventional wisdom says that Edwards needs to get a few wins on March 2nd to be able to make it to the more favorable southern March 9th primaries. Most often mentioned in Edwards' strategy are Georgia (a southern state), Ohio (hard hit with job loss) and New York (upstate has been very hard hit). California offers an oppotunity, but advertising costs are likely to be well beyond Edwards' budge range there. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are Kerry strongholds, so it's unlikely for Edwards to strongly contest there. John Edwards isn't even on the Vermont ballot. Maryland and Minnesota give Edwards two more opportunities, but New York, Ohio and Georgia are seen as his best. So, this Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion poll shows that Edwards certainly has quite a bit of work to do in New York:

John Kerry 66%
John Edwards 14%
Al Sharpton 7%
Dennis Kucinich 3%

That compares to last week's Quinnipiac University Poll where Kerry also had a big lead:

John Kerry 48%
Howard Dean 10%
John Edwards 7%

More troubling for Edwards is that Kerry leads upstate 70% to 14%.

While these numbers may look gloomy for Edwards, let's not forget where he was the week before the Wisconsin primary. Edwards makes a great close, and Kerry's rarely topped 50% as the anti-Kerry vote has been split. If the anti-Kerry vote coaleses around Edwards, we'll have ourselves another chapter in this race.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

My Next Congressman (TX-10)

By Byron LaMasters

Is going to be one of these shmucks. The Austin Chronicle, appropriately, is endorsing none of them:

U.S. House, District 10: No Endorsement A number of readers will show up at the polls wondering who the hell all these oddball (and mostly Houstonian) Republicans are. Consider them the poisoned bait of Bug Man Tom DeLay, so determined to evict old CD 10 incumbent Lloyd Doggett from Congress that he was happy to disenfranchise the capital city of Texas in the bargain. To get some idea of the available choices, Michael McCaul – former "counterterrorism" prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office for Texas, who is apparently running on his father's WWII war record – may be the "moderate" of the bunch. You've got a mortgage banker (Ben Streusand) promising to abolish the IRS, a corporate attorney (Dave Phillips) running to represent the energy industry, an anti-choice judge (John Devine) who thinks he's the second coming of Moses – and Teresa Doggett ("Up With People") Taylor. Austin voters do not have a real choice here, and are not intended to have a real choice here. Consider this race an object lesson in the institutional abuse of our democratic system, and a challenge to work toward transforming Texas politics into something approaching representative democracy.

I couldn't say it better myself. Just when I thought that I could actually be represented by someone like Lloyd Doggett (after growing up with Sam Johnson as my congressman - who is notorious for his quote, "Democrats don't think like Americans"), I get shifted into a Congressional district in Central Austin that stetches to the Houston suburbs. Heck, I almost wish I could run for the district (no Democrat is running). It would be fun to debate these guys, since they all just say the same things... "I'm the real conservative", "cut taxes", "I support the Bush agenda", "abortion is evil", etc. etc. It would be fun to say, well I think we should repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, support choice and health care for all Americans. It would at least be entertaining, but I digress.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:18 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 19, 2004

The Gay Agenda - Revealed!

By Byron LaMasters

It's all right here folks (turn on your volume for full effect).

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

Defeat Pro-Redistricting "Democrat" Ron Wilson, Donate to Alma Allen

By Byron LaMasters

There's a lot of contested primaries here in Travis County, and across the state of Texas on March 9th, but there's two that I feel particularly passionate about. The first of which is the primary for the 25th congressional district between U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) and Judge Leticia Hinojosa. Lloyd Doggett has been my congressman since I moved to Austin to go to school, and he has served the city of Austin, the University of Texas and the Democratic Party as well as anyone could. He's been involved and active in our community and has dedicated himself as a leader in Congress to find loopholes in various rules to obstruct the worst of the Republican agenda. His senority means a lot to Austin, and our ability to have a representative fight for us in congress, and he needs our support. I'll be doing some blockwalking for Doggett and for other candidates the University Democrats have endorsed in east Austin over the next few weekends. I'd urge anyone in Austin to do the same, and if you're not, you can chip in with a donation here.

The other primary race in Texas in which I feel particularly strong about is the race for state representative district 131. This is the race which pitches pro-redistricting State Rep. Ron Wilson ("D"-Houston) against State Board of Education member Alma Allen (D-Houston). Alma Allen has finally set up a place where you can contribute online. Why is this race so important?

Ron Wilson was one of two Texas Democratic legislators to vote for the final version of the redistricting bill which has already forced one Congressman (Jim Turner) to retire, and has seriously jeopertized the careers of six others (Lloyd Doggett, Chet Edwards, Martin Frost, Nick Lampson, Max Sandlin and Charlie Stenholm). No one who works to destroy the careers of these great Democrats deserves to run under the Democratic Party banner. Ron Wilson has sold out the Democratic Party time and time again, and it's time we take him out. Not only did Ron Wilson sell out our Democratic Congressmen on redistricting, but his antics have constantly been an embarrassment to our party.

There's this Houston Press article that we've cited several times before here on BOR. Wilson has gone out of his way to attack good Democrats with low blow attacks. Consider these examples:

On Killer D Leader State Rep. Garnett Coleman (D-Houston):


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

[...]

Wilson opined that "I don't consider [Coleman] an African American."

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

[Coleman is Black for the record.]


On State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston):


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


On Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Houston):


Even Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee came in for some verbal pummeling from Wilson after her court testimony against redistricting.

"She thinks she can spend all of her career just berating people, jumping on 'em and calling 'em out every chance she gets. And when they get ready to draw the lines, does she honestly think they're going to help her? I don't think so!"


Ron Wilson hasn't just been nuts recently, however. He has a long history of embarrassing behavior. The Houston Chronicle reported on this last month (my link is from FreeRepublic.com - I'm embarrassed to say - but it carries the full text of the now archived article):


State Rep. Ron Wilson's 27-year political career is notable for his willingness to take controversial stands.

· 1988: He excluded white reporters from two meetings he conducted on a $2.6 billion street improvement and monorail development proposal for Houston.

· 1990: Accused River Oaks Elementary School officials of racism and requested a series of racial statistics after his then-8-year-old son Erik was transferred to a new class and did not perform as well. A superintendent quickly ordered the boy returned to his original class, sparking concerns over political favoritism.

[...]


District 131 needs a change, and Alma Allen will give them one. She's extremely well qualified for the seat as you can read in her Biography. As Democrats, it's critical that we send a message to Ron Wilson and any other "Democrat" who thinks they can get away with voting for redistricting anywhere in the country, that it's unacceptable, and the Democratic grassroots won't tolerate it.

Ron Wilson has been in office for 27 years and it's time for him to go. Donate to Alma Allen today and add $.27 to let her know it's coming from the blogs.

Thanks.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:03 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Illegal Corporate Money Used to Fund Texas GOP in 2002

By Byron LaMasters

Charles Kuffner has done a great job keeping up with the investigation of Tom DeLay on this matter, here and here. Today's Dallas Morning News has more evidence of how Tom DeLay and groups associated with the Texas Republican Party illegally took money from corporations to fund their campaigns:

A political committee connected to U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay sent $190,000 in what internal memos say were corporate donations to the Republican National Committee, which then doled out the same amount to seven candidates in Texas House races.

It is illegal in Texas to use corporate money in political races, and some open-government advocates suggest the transaction smells of a money-laundering exercise.

The $190,000 in donations came in the last crucial month of the November 2002 election campaign, in which Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) had targeted 20 House races. Victory in 15 of those races led to a GOP majority and the first Republican House speaker since the 1800s.

After the Republicans took control of the Texas House in the 2002 elections, Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland was elected speaker. He helped Mr. DeLay achieve the goal of redrawing the Texas congressional map to favor Republicans.

The Travis County district attorney's office acknowledged Wednesday that it was looking into the transaction between TRMPAC and the RNC as part of an investigation into corporate fund raising by the political committee created by Mr. DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

Officials of both TRMPAC and the RNC denied any wrongdoing, saying that their dealings were legal and that the contributions were coincidental.

In e-mails obtained by The Dallas Morning News, officials with TRMPAC in September 2002 discussed using corporate funds, which they referred to as "soft money," to send a check to the national party.

According to the e-mails, the check was written by Jim Ellis, who works for Mr. DeLay as director of Americans for a Republican Majority and also shares some responsibilities with the PAC's little sister, Texans for a Republican Majority.

Mr. Ellis did not return phone calls.

The $190,000 check to the RNC is reflected in September 2002 federal disclosure records submitted by TRMPAC.

Within the next three weeks, according to federal and state disclosure records, the RNC sent seven checks to Republican House candidates totaling $190,000.

Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the RNC, said the $190,000 that went out from the RNC a short time later was unrelated and that the national committee does not make any deals about how donations will be used.

"We don't allow people to earmark their contributions, and so, while the coincidence is there, the fact of the matter is that you can't tell us how to spend the money," Mr. Dyke said.

TRMPAC raised more than $600,000 in corporate contributions, which it has said was used for administrative overhead and not for political purposes, as mandated by law.

A citizen's complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice with the Travis County district attorney last year questions hundreds of thousands of dollars in TRMPAC expenditures – including polling and political consultants – and whether those services can legally be classified as nonpolitical administrative costs.

Another $650,000 raised by TRMPAC from individuals was used for direct and in-kind contributions to the key House races.

The $190,000 transaction "is something we've been aware of since we've been conducting this investigation," said Gregg Cox, chief prosecutor of the district attorney's Public Integrity Unit. "Everything related to TRMPAC's raising of and use of corporate dollars is part of our investigation."

Fred Lewis, director of the citizens interest group Campaigns for People, said he questions why a Texas-based group trying to elect state legislators would suddenly send $190,000 to Washington, unless it knew it couldn't donate it to races itself.

"I think there are circumstantial indications that they laundered money," Mr. Lewis said. "I think the $190,000 is very suspicious and deserves all the scrutiny it can get."

[...]

The district attorney's office also is conducting a separate investigation into corporate contributions used by the Texas Association of Business, which spent $1.9 million on the same key legislative races in favor of the Republican candidates.

The TAB money was used to produce and mail brochures that attacked the Democratic candidates as anti-education and anti-business.

TAB officials have argued that the money was not a political contribution to aid a particular candidate but was for issue ads for which anonymous corporate donations can be used legally.


It's pretty clear that Republicans will do anything to win, be it not count votes or break the law. At least Travis County has a good Democratic DA to investigate this stuff.

Update: Today's Austin American Statesman has called for a full explaination from Speaker Tom Craddick:


Perhaps if you stand in a sewer long enough, you get used to the smell. When someone comes along and says it stinks, you wonder how anyone could think such a thing.

Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, seems to smell nothing offensive, never mind plain wrong -- maybe even illegal -- in his personal delivery of campaign contributions totaling $152,000 from business interests to 14 GOP candidates for the state House in the 2002 election.

Craddick wasn't just helping those interests save on postage. The 150 state representatives, not the state's voters, elect the speaker, a powerful post that appoints committee chairmen and committee members and determines whose legislation moves forward -- and whose doesn't. Imagine the GOP's reaction if a Democratic candidate for speaker was handing out campaign contributions from trial lawyer interests.

Craddick has refused comment, and his spokesman, Bob Richter, says Craddick did nothing wrong. He says Craddick had virtually sewn up the speaker's race by March 2002 (the speaker's election was in January 2003) and thus didn't need any political help by delivering campaign contributions that year from Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee fed by business interests.

But Richter also said Craddick will not release the correspondence, pledge cards and other records from his campaign for speaker that might -- or might not -- prove that the race was over as early as he claims. He should release the records.

[...]

As American-Statesman writer Laylan Copelin detailed in Tuesday's and Wednesday's editions, Craddick delivered those campaign contributions on behalf of Texans for a Republican Majority, which is under investigation by the Travis County district attorney for possible violation of state election laws.

The district attorney is trying to determine if the political group illegally funneled corporate contributions to candidates. Texas law bans corporations and unions from giving company funds to political campaigns. (However, a company's executives can set up their own political action committee and give money to it out of their own pockets.)

Texans for a Republican Majority denies wrongdoing. It was organized by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who, when he wishes, wields far more power in the state and the Texas GOP than either of the state's U.S. senators or Gov. Rick Perry. The political action committee raised about $1.5 million for the 2002 election, including $600,000 in corporate money. DeLay accomplished his goal: With a new Republican majority in the Texas House, the Legislature redrew the congressional district lines in a way that may result in up to seven more Republican U.S. representatives from Texas being elected this year.

Craddick was well within his rights to campaign for Republican House candidates and to campaign for his own election as speaker, but his personal delivery of political action committee checks to candidates stinks -- and he may have broken the law. Time for him to explain, if not to the public, then to the district attorney.


I pretty doubtful that Tom Craddick will come clean. I'll just cheer on Ronnie Earle and his department's investigation of this garbage.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Add $.69 for Rick Santorum

By Byron LaMasters

I'm sure that it's not an accident that Doug Haines, Democratic candidate for Congress (GA-12) is asking you to end your contribution (he's running ads on BlogAds) in $.69 if you feel that Rick Santorum is the greatest threat to democracy in America.

HAHA!

For the ignorant, check out Spreading Santorum for more on our favorite "man on dog" senator.

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

This Should Never Happen

By Byron LaMasters

I was setting up my right sidebar of candidates I'm urging our readers to give to. I wanted to put up all the endangered Texas congressmen's websites. I found the websites of Lloyd Doggett, Chet Edwards, Martin Frost, Nick Lampson and Charlie Stenholm with ease. Then I go and look for Max Sandlin's. And what do I find when I type in www.maxsandlin.com? A link to his right-wing Republican opponent's site. Ugh. I have some friends in TYD with the Sandlin campaign, and I hate to say this, but someone dropped the ball. Not registering MaxSandlin.com is unacceptable. Jesus. We need to get our act together.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:55 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 18, 2004

Traffic Overload!

By Byron LaMasters

Well, not quite. Fortunately, we have a good server here thanks to Dreamhost, which gives us a good deal of bandwith for $10 / month, but wow!

The 25,000+ unique visits (55,000 + hits) we received today was more than the approximately 15,000 we received the entire month of January. Our traffic has been increasing from about 400-500 unique visits per day (average over a week) to around 600-700 (ave. / day over a week) over the past week or so as I've come out of my mini-rut from posting, but today was just phenomenal.

Obviously, Atrios is the one I owe the most thanks to, as his link surely generated the majority of today's hits in regard to my post on the rumors circulating about Governor Rick Perry. We'll see if something breaks in the mainstream media about that story. There's so many rumors about it, I'd be very surprised if nothing eventually hits the mainstream media, but you never know.

I've also been reworking the right sidebar and blogroll. I've added a few features, notably a good deal more of blogs, many of which I should have linked to a long time ago, and many of which I've just started reading more recently. I've also added links to a number of polsters which I find valuable in following the presidential and other races. I've also added links to the donation page to a lot of Democratic candidates (notably Texas congressional candidates) which I strongly support, and I would urge a donation to them (or you can always send a tip here through PayPal). On the money note, if our hits / visits continue to increase (obviously I'm not expecting to get anywhere near as many hits / visits as today on a regular basis at all), I'm considering adding BlogAds as we've all seen the effect that they had for Ben Chandler and others. I know that one Texas Congressional candidate, Morris Meyer is running BlogAds, and I'd encourage others to as well.

Anyway, I've saved the Site Meter stats pages for today. If you'd like to see them, click below...















Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:59 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

The Market Value of an MBA from Harvard...

By Jim Dallas

... must be greatly over-rated. But apparently the AP's not in on the joke.

This is what the AP says in paragraph three:

"I think the economy's growing, and I think it's going to get stronger," said Bush, the nation's first MBA president. He said he was pleased that 366,000 new jobs have been added since August. "But I'm mindful there are still people looking for work, and we've got to continue building on the progress we've made so far."

This follows paragraphs one and two:

"The White House backed away Wednesday from its own prediction that the economy will add 2.6 million new jobs before the end of this year, saying the forecast was the work of number-crunchers and that President Bush was not a statistician.

Bush, himself, stopped short of echoing the prediction.

MrHappy, in the Atrios comment thread, beat me to the punch:

The President has a Harvard MBA, but it's silly to expect him to know anything about statistics or the economy. Also, no one, say, an economist or a statistician, reports to the President on what these numbers might mean.

To say Team Bush is off their game lately is the understatement of the decade.

That's a great campaign slogan:

"The Economy - what am I , a staticician?!?"

And let's remember folks, the problem with the White House's job forecast was pretty damn obvious, so obvious (look ma, no productivity growth!) I completely understood Brad DeLong when he blogged his critique of the CEA's forecast.

And it's only once in a blue moon when I understand what that guy is talking about.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Edwards, Kerry Beat Bush by Double Digits

By Byron LaMasters

Hell Yeah!

Kerry 55
Bush 43

Edwards 54
Bush 44

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

YCT Scholarships and Other Idiocy

By Byron LaMasters

The Texas A&M chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas have established a new scholarship for students who have "overcome institutionalized discrimination and/or the stigma imposed by policies giving preference to particular racial or ethnic groups." (read "Whites only need apply"). The Daily Texan reports:

The Texas A&M University chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas is offering $10,000 in scholarship funds to protest affirmative action.

The money will be distributed through an essay contest in which applicants must write about how they or their family members have "overcome institutionalized discrimination and/or the stigma imposed by policies giving preference to particular racial or ethnic groups."

YCT-A&M chairman Matthew Maddox said the contest has two purposes.

"For one, it's designed to help students who've been affected by affirmative action policies," Maddox said. "Second, it's a form of protest against affirmative action around the state."


They claim that the schoolarship is not "white only" although it's hard to imagine how non-white students could be recipients of such a scholarship by their organization. The article continues:


YCT-A&M communications director Mark McCaig said the timing is mere coincidence and reiterated that this scholarship is equal opportunity.

"We're not asking for the race of the applicants. So at first glance it is impossible for us to use race," McCaig said. "If their story, from a minority perspective on affirmative action, is better than a white applicant, then they will win the scholarship."


This all, of course comes one day after the College Republicans at Roger Williams University established a "Whites-Only" scholarship. The New York Times reports:


Only students who can truthfully answer yes to the following question may be considered for this award: Are you a student of noncolor, Caucasian descent (white)?" reads the application for the scholarship, whose winner, it said, would receive $50. "In 100 words or less, write why you are proud of your white heritage and explain what being white means to you."

The scholarship, Mr. Mattera said, was intended as a parody of scholarships available only to minorities. It was conceived this summer, he said, after he learned the university had compiled a list of such scholarships.

"If you are a white student on campus, you don't have anyone helping you, there is no one compiling a list of scholarships just for you," he said. "Why is it that only students of color have this?"


White students on campus don't have anyone helping them??? WTF!?!? Why is it then, that white students are disproportionately represented at almost every major university? Why is it that Whites have better jobs, make more money, and why is it that an equally qualified White person is more likely to get a job than an equally qualified Black person? Institutional racism is alive and well in America, and while affirmative action is an imperfect long-term solution, it's critical to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans.

In other related YCT idiocy news. They held a "Straight Pride Day" on the West Mall on the UT campus today. I just walked by and laughed, got myself a Rainbow sticker from the gay group celebrating "Straight Appreciation Day" next to them and then bought a $1 Vagina-shaped chocolate from the people promoting the Vagina Monologues, before sitting down at the University Democrats table and having a good laugh at it all. The Orange Jackets did a presentation of the Vagina Monolouges last year and it was hilarious. I'll try and go again this year.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:01 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Undercover APD Officers Attended Anti-War Planning Meetings

By Byron LaMasters

The Daily Texan reports:

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas prove that undercover Austin police officers attended anti-war meetings in March.

The Texas ACLU obtained two memos in November discussing undercover police protest planning meetings. One of the documents details a detective's observations at a March 23 direct-action training where protesters practiced civil disobedience. On March 24, about 40 people were arrested while protesting against the war in Iraq.

"In an attempt to gather intelligence information regarding mass civil disobedience, members of the Organized Crime Division were requested to participate in training sessions and actual protests in an undercover capacity," the memo says.

Texas ACLU lawyer Ann Del Llano said police waste resources when investigating nonviolent protesters, and such police activities may be unconstitutional.

"These people intended to commit a Class C misdemeanor," said Del Llano. "Police should focus on violent crimes [instead]."


Exactly. Why are undercover police being sent to meetings of people planning peaceful demonstrations when they could be out actually doing their job, and preventing violent crime?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dean's Out

By Byron LaMasters

I'll have more on this later, but here's the official word from the Blog for America:

Today my candidacy may come to an end--but our campaign for change is not over.

I want to thank each and every person who has supported this campaign. Over the last year, you have reached out to neighbors, friends, family and colleagues--building one American at a time the greatest grassroots campaign presidential politics has ever seen. I will never forget the work and the heart that you put into our campaign.

In the coming weeks, we will be launching a new initiative to continue the campaign you helped begin. Please continue to come to www.deanforamerica.com for updates and news as our new initiative develops. There is much work still to be done, and today is not an end--it is just the beginning.

This Party and this country needs change, and you have already begun that process. I want you to think about how far we have come. The truth is: change is tough. There is enormous institutional pressure in our country against change. There is enormous institutional pressure in Washington against change, in the Democratic Party against change. Yet, you have already started to change the Party and together we have transformed this race. Along the way, we’ve engaged hundreds of thousands of new Americans in the political process, as witnessed by this year’s record participation in the primaries and caucuses.

The fight that we began can and must continue. Although my candidacy for president may end today, the most important goal remains defeating George W. Bush in November, and I hope that you will join me in doing everything we can to support the Democrats this fall. From the earliest days of our campaign, I have said that the power to change Washington rests not in my hands, but in yours. Always remember, you have the power to take our country back.

Gov. Howard Dean M.D.


I'm looking forward to seeing what Howard Dean does with the power and influence in which he now holds within the grassroots in the party. I think given the results last night and throughout the primary season, he has made the correct choice. While it became clear that Dean will not be the nominee, it is also clear that there is a significant role for Howard Dean to play within the Democratic Party. I look forward to helping him fill that role when he decides what it might be.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Vote For Me- Andrew Dobbs

By Andrew Dobbs

Alright guys, I am kinda embarrassed about electioneering, but I figure I might as well. I am currently running for Student Government as a 2 Year at Large Representative (with 1 Year Remaining) for the Reprezent ticket. That means that everyone on campus can vote for me on March 2nd and 3rd and I'm going to need all the help I can get. My opponent is a member of one of the top GOP families in Austin- her mom is President of the Austin Republican Women, her dad gave $3850 to Ben Bentzin's State Senate campaign and her brother is a staffer for the GOP lawmaker who authored tuition deregulation. Our website will be up soon and I'll link to it then, but if I could have the votes of all our UT readers, I'd really appreciate it. SG can seem silly and meaningless but we have a lot of money that we oversee and a lot of influence on important issues plus I will be representing the entire campus- the largest campus in America, a population of 50,000 people. Just to compare, that's about 8% of the population of the state that Howard Dean was governor of for 11.5 years before running for President and about half as large as a Texas state house district. I consider it a big deal so I'd appreciate your support.

The other Reprezent candidates are good people too and I'd encourage you to support them as well.

Andrew Dobbs- 2 Year At Large with 1 Year Remaining.

Update: Our website is up. It's a little rough around the edges, but it'll keep improving as time goes on.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:20 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Tell Nader Not To Run

By Byron LaMasters

Tell Ralph Nader not to run for President. A good site on the topic is Ralph Don't Run. Nader has an exploritory committee on this website. Contact him here and tell him not to run.

We posted on this back in December, but Nader's recent comments merit another post on the topic.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:09 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

February 17, 2004

Will Dean Endorse Edwards?

By Byron LaMasters

The Washington Post hints at it:

The former Vermont governor sought out rival John Edwards for a private meeting in Milwaukee Sunday night. After what Democratic sources described as a friendly but inconclusive conversation, Dean said the two men should talk again Wednesday. The implication was that there could be ways for Dean to help a candidate he has said he prefers over Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).

Here's the results with 51% reporting:

Kerry 138,924 39%
Edwards 130,209 37%
Dean 64,000 18%
Kucinich 10,232 3%
Clark 5,368 2%
Sharpton 3,485 1%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Texas State Senate District 1 Returns

By Byron LaMasters

Early Vote:

Kevin Eltife REP 11,959 53.09%
Paul Sadler DEM 10,568 46.91%

Eltife has a small early lead. Sadler has to close a 1400 vote margin. It's doable. We'll see what happens as more results come in.

Update: With 51 of 313 Precincts Reporting (16.29%)

Kevin Eltife REP 14,661 51.26%
Paul Sadler DEM 13,943 48.74%

Sadler's closed half of the margin... down to about 700 votes...

8:12 PM: With 68 of 313 Precincts Reporting (21.73%)

Kevin Eltife REP 15,532 50.15%
Paul Sadler DEM 15,442 49.85%

Sadler keeps closing.... it's down to 90 votes... although the Tyler boxes (Eltife territory) aren't in yet...

8:22 PM: Sadler takes the lead.... with 80 of 313 Precincts reporting... (25.56%)

Kevin Eltife REP 16,286 49.08%
Paul Sadler DEM 16,894 50.92%

Good news, but neither Tyler nor Longview are in yet... Marshall just came in big for Sadler...

8:27 PM Precincts Reported 86 of 313 Precincts 27.48%

Kevin Eltife REP 19,194 51.71%
Paul Sadler DEM 17,925 48.29%

Eltife back up... looks like Tyler and Longview are coming in...

8:38 PM - Precincts Reported 170 of 313 Precincts 54.31%

Kevin Eltife REP 30,406 51.25%
Paul Sadler DEM 28,919 48.75%

Tyler and Longview are in strong for Eltife...

8:43 PM - Precincts Reported 200 of 313 Precincts 63.90%

Kevin Eltife REP 32,577 51.90%
Paul Sadler DEM 30,187 48.10%

Half of Tyler and half of Paris are still out. Nothing is in yet from Texarkana. Eltife looks well positioned, but a big Texarkana turnout (where Sadler beat Eltife 54-15% last month) could put Sadler over the top.

8:55 PM - Precincts Reported 237 of 313 Precincts 75.72%

Kevin Eltife REP 34,558 51.46%
Paul Sadler DEM 32,592 48.54%

Good news for Eltife. He seems to have pulled away. There's still 13 precincts out in Tyler and 37 (all) in Bowie Co. (Texarkana). Looks like Eltife has it wrapped up unless Texarkana comes in huge for Sadler. Titus Co. still has 19 precincts out, but I doubt Sadler will pick up more than a couple hundred votes there. Marshall has two precincts out that could deliver a few hundred votes for Sadler, but still it's unlikely that anything will be able to make up for the 13 Tyler precincts and Eltife's 2000 vote lead.

9:52 PM - Precincts Reported 275 of 313 Precincts 87.86%

Kevin Eltife REP 42,373 52.35%
Paul Sadler DEM 38,574 47.65%

There's two precincts out in Tyler and 36 out in Bowie County (Texarkana). Apparentally they ran out of ballots in some Bowie County precincts in some Black precincts there. I've heard that that's the reason why the Bowie returns are so late coming in. However, there's no way that Bowie can make up a 4000 vote margin for Sadler. Maybe a 2000 vote margin, but that won't be enough. As much as I hate to say, I think it's a safe bet to call the race for Eltife.

10:31 PM In the other special election run-off today for state senate district 31 between two Republicans, former Amarillo mayor Kel Seliger and former Odessa city councilman Kirk Edwards in to replace Teel Bivins, it looks like Seliger's won:

Precincts Reported 210 of 220 Precincts 95.45%

Kirk Edwards REP 31,476 46.33%
Kel Seliger REP 36,469 53.67%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:05 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

FOX News Exit Polls at 8 PM

By Byron LaMasters

From Wisconsin:

John Kerry 39%
John Edwards 34%
Howard Dean 18%

This could be interesting...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

KY-6 Results Here

By Byron LaMasters

And so far, so good. Chandler has a comfortable lead so far...

Here and here

Via Atrios.

Update: WLEX TV is calling it for Chandler, here with 51% of precincts reporting:

303 of 595 (51%) Precincts Reporting

BEN CHANDLER (DEM) 43,935 56%
ALICE FORGY KERR (REP) 33,587 42%

Update: The DCCC is happy. A great effort to everyone involved. Congratulations!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Exit Polls? bah!!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I understand that we are all rushing to find out what happened as soon as possible in elections. I find it disturbing enough that the media this eleciton cycle can't even go a couple hours into voting without releasing exit polls.

But you know it's bad when they start to bypass polling and simply predict the future and publish it before events have actually happened.

cbsdean1.JPG

As a sidenote, what percentage of the Punx for Dean group do you think will be swayed to vote for John Kerry?

Methinks not to many.

Would someone please remind me again where and how Kerry is going to be broadening the base of our party in the long run?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:45 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Soechting to Speek at Austin Dem. Party Meetup

By Byron LaMasters

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting will speak at Democratic Party Meetup tomorrow night at 7 PM:

TDP Meetup

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
7pm
B.D. Riley's Pub on 6th Street

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting will be hosting a meet up of Austin Democrats next Wednesday.

Meetup is a great new tool for organizing voters all over America. Here in Austin we are testing out a pilot run of these tools so that we can use them this fall and beyond to take back Texas! Come join us for some good food, good times and a chance to talk about the future of our party with Chairman Soechting. We’ll see you all there!


You can join Democratic Party meetup, here.

Also tomorrow night is a MoveOn.org video fundraiser for the Austin Progressive Coalition (which works to help elect the candidates endorsed by both the University Democrats and Central Austin Democrats), the University Democrats meeting and a home basketball game against Texas A&M. So many choices...

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

Exit Polls in Wisconsin

By Byron LaMasters

Looks like good news for John Edwards, via Drudge:

John Kerry: 42%
John Edwards: 31%
Howard Dean: 15%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gay Marriages to Continue Through Friday in SF

By Byron LaMasters

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

A judge delayed until at least Friday a ruling on whether to block San Francisco from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

The ruling occurred during the first of two such hearings Tuesday. Another judge was scheduled to hear a similar case in the afternoon.

In the early hearing, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay said he was not prepared to rule on a lawsuit filed by conservatives to block the marriages -- more than 2,300 of which have taken place since last Thursday.

Peter Ragone, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the city would continue issuing licenses until it knew the outcome of the second court hearing.


There's also talk of Santa Cruz, CA following San Francisco's lead. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:


Merrie Schaller, chair of the GLBT Alliance, a gay rights group, said the group had been considering a similar act of civil disobedience, but had planned to hold off until May. By then, the Massachusetts Legislature is required to come up with a workable gay marriage law in the wake of legal challenges. A court decision last year paved the way for the state to offer the nation’s first legally sanctioned gay marriages.

"I’m thrilled and bemused with the actions of San Francisco’s mayor, and by Saturday we will have decided whether to ask local officials to do the same," Schaller said. "This is a great Valentine’s Day present, and an even better present for Lincoln’s birthday. It’s a really good emancipation proclamation."

Marriage licenses are handled by the county recorder. County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt said she’d be happy to help with such a campaign.

"I’m hesitant to say, ‘Yes, absolutely,’ since I don’t know what the plans are yet, but I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t support such a move," she said. "All people ought to have the same rights, and I’m for anything that makes it easier for people to love each other and have long and committed relationships."


In related news, the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby of Texas organized demonstrations across the state on Valentine's Day protesting marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in Texas. The San Antonio Express-News reports:


Same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses at the Travis County clerk's office Friday knew they'd be denied but wanted to make a point.
"If we were allowed, we'd be in here today just like anybody else who is preparing to marry," said Michael McClain, 38, a U.S. Postal Service employee looking forward to a Valentine's Day commitment ceremony with his partner Brad Parks, 36, an advertising copywriter.

Margy Meacham, 44, was turned away with her partner of 16 years, Nancy Hickman, 59.

"We should be able to have the same rights as everyone else and ... express our committed relationship the way that we want," Meacham said.

It fell to Betty Anderson, as division manager of recording in the clerk's office, to tell the couples what they already knew — that they couldn't get licenses.

When one applicant voiced the hope that some day the law will allow them to marry, Anderson responded quietly: "Someday, maybe. Today, no."

The demonstration — organized by the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby on the eve of Valentine's Day along with a similar event in Houston — occurred as gay marriage is at issue on the national stage.

[...]

Besides showcasing the couples' commitment, Friday's event was an opportunity to draw attention to the "basic rights" denied outside of marriage, such as making health decisions if a partner is incapacitated, said Colin Cunliff, field coordinator of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby.


There's more about the events last weekend on LGRL's website.

Disclosure: I'm a board member of LGRL.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Slam Coulter for Her Anti-American Hatred

By Andrew Dobbs

You know, I was just about to go to bed, finally get some much needed rest when I had to peruse the blogs and I ended up seeing this:

In a column posted on the conservative Heritage Foundation's Web site, Fox News contributor and White House ally Ann Coulter unleashed an attack on Cleland's service to his country, claiming that the triple amputee/decorated war hero displayed "no bravery" in Vietnam. The politically motivated assault came after Cleland appeared at events critical of the Administration, once again showing the conservatives pattern of impugning the patriotism of those who question their policy. It comes just after President Bush himself nominated Cleland to the Export-Import Bank and after Bush called Cleland "a good Democratic senator out of Georgia." (...)

SAYING AN AMPUTEE VET 'DIDN'T GIVE LIMBS FOR HIS COUNTRY': Coulter wrote, "Cleland didn't give his limbs for his country or leave them on the battlefield" because she says he lost his limbs in a "routine, noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with his friends." But as the 8/1/99 Esquire Magazine notes, Cleland lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam when a grenade accidentally detonated after he and another soldier jumped off a helicopter in a combat zone.

SAYING A SILVER STAR WINNER IS NOT A "WAR HERO": Coulter said people "should stop allowing [Cleland to be] portrayed as a war hero" – despite the fact that, in a separate incident four days before he lost three limbs, Cleland won a Silver Star - one of the highest honors for combat courage the U.S. military gives out. The congressional citation which came with the medal specifically said that during a "heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack Captain Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions." The citation concluded, "Cleland's gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army."

SAYING CLELAND WAS "LUCKY" TO HAVE LIMBS BLOWN OFF: Coulter said, "Luckily for Cleland…he happened to [lose his limbs] while in Vietnam" and said that had he been injured "at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. Senator." Of course, Cleland probably would not have been dealing with live grenades and enemy fire in the save haven of Ft. Dix.

I can't remember being so angry at anything in a long time. A man is awarded medals for his bravery in combat and during that fight- a fight no one wanted a part of but that thousands of brave men fought because they loved their country- he lost three of his limbs. And then some empty headed, evil minded, slut of a Republican like Ann Coulter has the gall to say that he was lucky, that he is not a hero, that he has shown no bravery. Well Ann Coulter can kiss my ass. It's time to demand some action.

You can contact Ann Coulter directly here, be sure to use small words- she isn't the brightest light in the box. Furthermore, be sure that you don't say anything patriotic- someone who hates America so much that they would sneer at a man that gave up his mobility, his limbs and nearly his life for this country might get upset.

You can email Fox News here and tell them how you feel about them putting someone like Ann Coulter on the air.

The thing is, we can't do anything too bad to her. She can say all of the anti-American, anti-soldier, hateful, malicious and untrue statements she wants to and there is little to nothing we can do about it. She has that right because thousands of Americans have given their lives for those rights and have answered the call to service with honor and dignity, not cowardice and conniving. Max Cleland is a great man, an honorable man of dignity- Ann Coulter owes him and all our veterans a huge apology for the vitriolic hatred she spews so she can be on TV more. Shame on her.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:56 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 16, 2004

Gillespie County Votes (or tries to)

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

There have been some new developments since I last posted a story about the State of Elections back home (for me) in Gillespie County (which is 70 miles west of Austin, you know, Fredericksburg, the Hill Country).

From a late January e-mail from the Democratic County Chair...

Remember that the Secretary of State had allocated $1,243.25 to the Gillespie County Chair to conduct the March 9, 2004, Democratic Primary. We were told "Please be advised that no additional funds will be disbursed after the maximum amount of funds allowed have been issued."

You might also remember that I didn't listen and submitted a budget for $4,800.00 due to the fact that we wanted to increase the polling places from one at St. Joseph's Hall in Fredericksburg to four, including this one. It's clear that people don't vote if you don't make it easy for them. We had a pledge for $2,000 from an anonymous donor, but that still left us short about $1,600. I appealed to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State and the Comptroller as well as to Texas Democratic Party. The answer was "there is no more money."

From a second e-mail...

We received approval for our needed funds from the Secretary of State. Fortunately we had already started putting our election plans in place for the upcoming Primary. The three new voting locations will make it much easier for rural voters to have a betteropportunity to vote in the March 9 Primary.

There are three NEW polling spots, as well as retaining St. Joseph's Hall in Fredericksburg. Judges, Alternate Judges and Clerks are ready to go.

Good thing. Now we can abide by the law by having the mandatory one voting location per county commission precinct. I am thankful that someone somewhere in the Secretary of State's office realized this and fully funded us.

Another great thing is that we have had about 25 volunteers offer to help run the March 9 primary, more than needed which is a nice change from the statement made in this article...

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

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

But another good point was brought up by our County Chair...

Some people have asked why we didn't share the existing polling locations with the Republicans? The answer is just what you might expect. [Your] County Chairman, George Keller and President Frank Beal met with the Republican County Chair (Pauline Cusack) who refused to share sites even though it caused us to spend more of the state's limited money.

Oh, well, we should be proud the Democratic Party is the party of fiscal responsibility. It is evident the Republicans are not by both there refusal to share locations and in the National deficit projected to be almost $600 BILLION next year.

Is there any logical reason to stonewall on voting locations? No. In Texas, the primaries do get public funding to pay workers and voting locations so it's not as if these are separate Party functions. But it's not just Gillespie County...more from George...

The focus now has to be on getting out the vote. We have outstanding candidates on the Democratic ballot. There will also be two referenda on the ballot, one to stop unfunded mandates and one to prevent any negative changes to Medicare. The State Republican Party rejected putting them on their ballot.

Because it would look silly if Texas Republican voters showed that that they wanted to fund their own President's proposals.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Things you have to Believe to be a Republican Today

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Why? Because it's Monday and everyone could use some humor...

Sent to me by a friend...

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

The United Statesshould get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.

"Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care Toall Americans is socialism.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

If you think of any more, add them to the comments.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Texas Soufflé

By Andrew Dobbs

Sometimes the good Lord just hands you such a beautiful nickname, such a wonderful summing up of things in a simple turn of phrase that it must become widely used. Interestingly enough, one such name was developed in the early 1970s by Alabama Republicans, according to Time Magazine:

George W. Bush has long had a habit of giving people nicknames—and perhaps that's because he picked up a few along the way himself. Like the one he earned in 1972, when he left his home in Houston to work on the long-shot Senate campaign of Winton M. (Red) Blount in Alabama. Bush, then 26, would often turn up at campaign headquarters in Montgomery around lunchtime, recount his late-night exploits and brag about his political connections, according to a Blount campaign worker. All that made him slow to win over the Alabama crowd, who began to complain that Bush was letting things slide. C. Murphy Archibald, a nephew of Blount's who worked on the campaign that fall, told TIME that Bush "was good at schmoozing the county chairs, but there wasn't a lot of follow-up." Archibald, now a trial attorney in North Carolina, remembers that a group of older Alabama socialites, who were volunteering their time, gave Bush a nickname because they thought he "looked good on the outside but was full of hot air." They called him the Texas Soufflé.

Texas Soufflé- sums up the sort of spoiled rich kid, all hat and no cattle persona of George W. Bush to a T if you ask me. In fact, let's try and googlebomb this one. Without any further ado, Texas Souffle.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

DMN Endorses Hall Opponent in GOP Primary

By Byron LaMasters

This was a bit of a surprise to me.

We recommend political newcomer Mike Mosher to Republican primary voters in the 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Grayson County and parts of Rockwall and Collin counties due east to the Louisiana border.

The 53-year-old Paris lawyer, who is as energetic and knowledgeable about the issues as a non-incumbent can reasonably be, is making a run at Rep. Ralph Hall, 80, a lifelong conservative Democrat who became a Republican last month. Mr. Hall, a Rockwall resident, converted his registration to become more palatable to voters in the newly drawn, heavily GOP district – two-thirds of whom never have been represented by him.

Though we have long respected Mr. Hall's two dozen years in Congress, we have grown troubled by some of his foreign policy opinions, expressed to us most recently in an interview with the editorial board. For example, Mr. Hall said the United States should station armed National Guard troops on the border with Mexico, withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, and encourage Japan to re-arm to police much of Asia. He also suggested that the U.S. military should have leveled Baghdad to show the Iraqis that they truly were whipped.


Wow. Ralph Hall truly is nuts. Good riddance.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

WI Newspapers for Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

John Edwards has received the endorsement of the two largest newspapers in Wisconsin, the Milwaulkee Journal Sentinel and the Madison Capitol Times.

It will be interesting to see if these endorsements give Edwards a late boost into second place. Today's Zogby Poll has Edwards and Dean fighting for second place in Wisconsin.

John Kerry 47%
Howard Dean 23%
John Edwards 20%
Dennis Kucinich 2%
Al Sharpton 1%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Grossman to Back Kerry

By Byron LaMasters

Early Dean supporter and former DNC chair, Steve Grossman is preparing to shift his support to John Kerry. The New York Times reports:

The chairman of Howard Dean's presidential campaign said on Sunday that he would leave and shift his support to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts if Dr. Dean lost the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, an outcome he sees as all but inevitable.

"If Howard Dean does not win the Wisconsin primary, I will reach out to John Kerry unless he reaches out to me first," said the chairman, Steven Grossman, who was chairman of Mr. Kerry's 1996 Senate race. "I will make it clear that I will do anything and everything I can to help him become the next president, and I will do anything and everything I can to build bridges with the Dean organization."

The comments by Mr. Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who has known Mr. Kerry for 34 years, came as Dr. Dean faced growing pressure from aides and outside backers to abandon his quest. But while many leading supporters and staff members expect him to either quit the campaign altogether or radically scale it back by the end of this week, the candidate remained steadfast Sunday that he would soldier on.

"We're not dropping out after Tuesday, period," Dr. Dean said in a television interview with the Fox affiliate here Sunday.

[...]

Dr. Dean has no events scheduled beyond Tuesday night, when he plans to fly home to Burlington, Vt., to regroup. He has not won in any of the 16 states that have voted. His bank account is dwindling. Many of his aides are planning vacations or seeking jobs with other candidates.

While many in the Dean camp felt Mr. Grossman had spoken out of school, none disputed the essence of what he said: that the campaign would not last the week in its current incarnation.

Roy Neel, Dr. Dean's campaign manager, said "anything is possible" after Wisconsin. "I'm not going to contradict Steve," Mr. Neel said of Mr. Grossman. "Every possibility is still on the table. The governor's not made a decision.

"He believes it's premature to make up his mind because we don't have the results from Tuesday night yet. He's still planning to win the primary."

The most recent polls here show Mr. Kerry 40 points ahead of Dr. Dean, who also trailed Mr. Edwards.

Aides to Dr. Dean and Mr. Kerry have met to discuss Dr. Dean's future plans, a Democratic operative said Sunday night on condition on anonymity.

"None of us are doing a whole lot right now, because there's not a whole lot to do," one top Dean aide said Sunday, on the condition he not be named. "We've put one ad on the air in Wisconsin. We're not polling anymore. We're not going to have the money to run some full-fledged campaign for March 2."


No plans after Tuesday... going back to Vermont to regroup... aides planning vacations and seeking jobs... sounds like the end of a campaign to me.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hometown Hero

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

An article I submitted to my hometown newspaper, the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post was published this past week. I wrote all about my adventures for the Dean campaign and earned front and back page covereage of the Community Section with 2 pictures as well. I wish I had it online to link to but I don't. So I'm going to post the full text, including what wasn't included in print, here for your enjoyment and the records...

It's long, but it is the complete summary of what happened with some new parts not in the day to day entries I posted. And there is info on Fort Dodge, Iowa which I never got around to writing. So here it is...

Becoming Part of the Process

Karl-T. Heads North to Stump for Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean

In the past month of my volunteering for Democrat Presidential Hopeful Howard Dean, I have discovered as much about the American People as I have about American Politics. Though both can be unpredictable at times, one must never forget the beauty of each and the fact that each one as a whole is defined by individual free-thinking people. The following is an account of some of my experiences with people and politics in four states, including Texas, in what has been the largest volunteer effort in Democratic Presidential Politics in modern time.

The Beginning

I was one of the few people back in the early months of 2003 that had set my eyes on the little known Howard Dean, the former five term Governor of Vermont, family doctor, and long shot for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. It was the first Presidential Cycle that I had the opportunity to follow closely after being inspired to study Political Science by the 2000 election. I really didn’t think Dean had a chance at the time but he was running a campaign based on everything that I thought the Democratic Party had forgotten about in the 2002 mid-term elections. The Republicans showed us that when one at least stands up for something, whether it is right or wrong, you tend to win. I felt that because we as a party didn’t stand up for much of our traditional values, we stood to lose, which we did.

The year progressed, I came to the University of Texas in Austin because of the political opportunities it offered, and soon discovered that the Dean campaign was being discovered by more than just a few people. The stories were starting to be written about the hundreds of thousands joining the campaign, the record fundraising, the revolution of campaign tactics by embracing the Internet.

It was shortly after my arrival in Austin, that I was asked to help keep in touch with Dean supporters in 21 counties out here in the Hill Country, including my home, Gillespie. At the same time, I was volunteering in our makeshift state headquarters while helping the campaign gain the eventual 12,000 petition signatures that were submitted to the Texas Democratic Party to place Dean on the ballot.

In late September, the national campaign asked if a few hundred Texans would be willing to travel to Iowa or New Hampshire for a weekend to help the operation there. Thinking that I would never have the opportunity again, I signed up with FHS Senior Maggie Ross and 450 other Texans who eventually traveled north to go canvassing, door to door, to spread the word about Dean.

But as I was soon to find out, the bulk of my volunteer efforts were not to end there. I decided, with the encouragement and support of my parents, to spend part of my winter break volunteering in New Hampshire and Iowa. As part of my send off, my parents helped organize a House Party for Dean where 40 interested voters came over to the house to eat heartily and discuss Dean and politics. We listened in on a Conference Call with the few thousand other House Parties held that same night with Gov. Dean, and raised over $1,000 in small donations that night for the campaign. The next day I set out, spirits high, and ready to take part in something that I was sure not to forget anytime soon.

On to New Hampshire

Getting to the Manchester State Headquarters in New Hampshire was the first challenge. My flight arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, where I hope to return to this summer as the youngest Texas, if not nation-wide, delegate to the Democratic National Convention. After my first ever greyhound bus trip from Boston to Manchester, I encountered something uncommon in Texas. Snow banks and ice covering everything in a brilliant white.

After a local bus, a bit of walking, and a raspberry scone, I managed to find my way to the building where the Headquarters was supposed to be. I ended up on the wrong side of the rather enormous complex which led to a funny story. The John Kerry campaign Headquarters was in the same building so I went into their offices where three staffers were standing around.

I told them, “I have a bit of a stupid question to ask ya’ll.”

“There are no stupid questions,” they said. “How can we help?”

“Could you direct me to the Howard Dean headquarters?” I say.

“Ok. So there are stupid questions,” the staffer responded jokingly as she helped me with directions.

Once I managed to get around to the other side of the building, I entered the Dean campaign where literally a hundred people were busy with too many tasks to list. For the next few days this was to be my base of operations.

In the Field

It’s now the first day of actual work for Dean here in New Hampshire for me. It’s an early morning as we head out to be the advance team for the Bill Bradley endorsement event. Lots of press there and we get the place decked out for the Governor with signs and all the trimmings that go into announcement events. I was out in the snow for much of the pre-event time with the visibility crew, waving our huge Dean totem signs by the entrances so people knew where to come.

We were joined that morning by about 5 Kerry volunteers who brought their own signs to stand by us. But Kerry didn’t have an event there. In fact, the only reason they were there, as I was told later, was to take part in an old political practice of trying to confuse potential attendees in order to drive down event turnout.

But back inside, the Bradley endorsement was huge. Hundreds were there to see him and Dean and Bradley gave a great speech. I knew nothing about Bradley in 2000 but I wish I did. He was a great speaker, inspiring and hopeful. I want that again in politics.

For the next two days, it was back to the regular cycle of work. Each day, teams were sent out to canvass neighborhoods to find out where voters stood on the candidates and to try to convince them to vote for Dean over the other candidates. It is probably the most labor intensive of all tools available to political campaigns, but by far, one of the most effective, especially in a state like New Hampshire where voters come to expect, if not demand, that campaigns reach out to them on a personal basis. Such is the nature of most voters in the ‘first in the nation’ primary status.

The walk lists of voters here are created by computer with a set path of streets to follow and printed out in the exact order that one would come to houses when walking. For the most part, walkers are only expected to find 30% of voters home during the weekdays so literature is left for everyone who isn’t home. Uncovering just one or two supporters per list is about average for any campaign as many people remain undecided up until the bitter end.

Much the same is true of phone banking, which occurred every evening from about 5:00 to 8:30 after the canvassing crews came back in. Most people are fairly respectful in either form of contact because they are use to being contacted by everyone every four years. But there are the unhappy few that will turn out the lights in the house as a hint to go away, or will be fairly blunt in telling phone bankers to stop bothering them and never call again. At least we are trying to do something for democracy, unlike telemarketers. In terms of overall friendliness, though, Texans beat New Hampshirites hands down.

There is a fairly organized system in the Manchester office. All completed call and walk sheets are entered into the database, with bad phone numbers or address being puller out of the voter file. Then volunteers, often taking their own call or walk sheets, write personal letters to voters that asked for more information or issue papers. It’s a regimented process that starts over each day like a well oiled machine.

By the end of my few days stay in Manchester, though, I was quite tired and aching. I was staying at a house for the longer term college “Winterns” (winter interns). It was what one could expect for hardcore college students in support of Dean. Mattresses on the floor and random things lying all over the house. Not to mention the usual college age cleanliness problems, the orange juice in the fridge that expired in November and the moldy cantaloupe in the vegetable bin. I stuck with the canned soup for meals and felt marginally safer. College students and grassroots politics- a potent combination of dedicated support so long as one can survive the living conditions.

The Return to Des Moines, Iowa

It was almost like visiting an old friend as I walked off the plane into Des Moines, Iowa, having been here a little more than three months ago. Of course, now it’s much colder with snow covering the ground, not as frigid as New Hampshire, but enough to cause this Texan to keep the long johns and a few more layers on at all time.

Seeing some of the same streets, people, and places again is comforting and the Headquarters was hopping just as before. It has now expanded into a second building that used to be Florida Senator Bob Graham’s place back when he was still in the race in the fall. John Kerry’s office is still a block down and John Edward’s office still has the infamous “son of a millworker” quote on the windows which every campaign jokes about in good fun.

I managed to make a few phone calls that night but nothing major because the office was gearing up for the appearance of Al Gore! I was too excited, especially to hear that Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin had endorsed Dean earlier in the day. I couldn’t believe that in the span of one week I’d see Bill Bradley and Al Gore, two former competitors in their own bids for the Democratic nod in 2000, both supporting Dean.

I actually got front row standing for Gore’s talk and I have to say that I think the man really had changed from 2000. I think that that whole election had changed who he is and he seemed more at ease when he spoke about why he was supporting Dean. After his short speech he worked the ENTHUSIASTIC crowd and I got him to add his signature to my signature shirt right alongside Howard Dean’s and campaign manager Joe Trippi’s, an icon to most Dean supporters.

Being that it was still a week and a half before the Iowa Caucuses, the first showing of voter’s opinions, even before New Hampshire’s primary, things were not quite as hectic, minus Gore’s appearance, as the final days were sure to become. In addition, there was still plenty of housing at the winterized campground where the volunteers were staying which consisted of free standing bunk beds in wooden cabins with bathrooms a good 50 foot walk away along snow covered paths. Needless to say, midnight bathroom runs were kept to a minimum.

Making the Pitch

I have to say that things are slightly more organized than they were in September with the first ‘Texas Rangers’ trip but are still not as organized as New Hampshire’s block mapping system. The precincts are larger and the maps and voter lists are left up to volunteers to figure out the best paths. The volunteers from out of state are mostly older, not just college students, though the media seems to have that impression. In fact, I did some canvassing with an 81 year on my second day in Des Moines.

For hours upon hours of walking, I seemed to get though only 1/2 to 2/3 of my list. But that is still a good 75-100 houses and a high number of them were willing to talk. I got asked inside no less than 5 times which was in part to the snowy weather and to Iowans being much friendlier than the New Hampshire voters.

There was the 54 year old woman who wants to caucus for Dean and it will be her first time to go. There was the middle aged couple that was for Dean (who may also take their son because I asked them too), but now may go for Congressman Dennis Kucinich. They may end up for Dean again if the Kucinich people have to re-divide because of the way the caucuses have their 15% viability threshold.

There was the 30 year old tattooed painter union guy who was leaning Dean but didn’t know much about his caucus as well as the independent Couple who invited me in and talked issues with me for 15 minutes. Both now know what to do to participate and wouldn’t have done anything had someone not spent the time to talk to them. There was the black man who invited me in and was very open to listening and wanted to know about Dean on the economy and trade and health care. There were the few people who said they were too old to caucus, an unfortunate side effect of the caucus system, since it demands voter’s presence and voting can’t be done by mail.

Only one or two said they were flat out for another candidate, there was one Republican, and there were many undecideds (including the man who said he could have a chance to make a decision if everyone who stop asking him what it was). That’s the problem with so many Democrats running. There are too many phone calls to the same people, too much literature, too many ads. But because I was talking to independents as well and not just the standard caucus goers, there were many that were still receptive because they had not been reached out to before. That’s what needs to happen in our democracy, more people in the process. That’s how Dean was going to win this nomination in my opinion and it’s how Democrats are going to need to act if we are serious about winning elections again.

The Sign Wars

The Black and Brown Presidential Debate was being hosted one evening, not but a few blocks away from the Dean Headquarters. In front of any debate, anywhere, there are always supporters of the candidates and there is always the competitions to try to make the largest and loudest impressions for the media that float around beforehand. This has come to be known as the sign war.

It’s a funny thing these sign wars. There is real strategy involved here. Groups of supporters try to cluster on one of four corners of the intersection in order to make their presence all the more impressive. Large signs are always helpful but if left alone, roving bands of people with small signs can take over and blot out the opposition’s unguarded territory. And there is always the situation where supporters rove with their own large sign and plant it in front of other signs or even people.

It’s like a continuous dance for hours. Everyone is always moving to the best spot, limited by traffic, of course, and whether or not they can get there before another group. Invariably some poor sign waving supporter ends up stranded in a sea of opposition but such is the nature of a sign war.

There are the chants as well, competitive only if two campaigns are on the same corner which was always the case since Dean, Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, and Kucinich were all represented. There were three people that showed up late for Chris P. Carrot for President, the PETA pseudo-candidate. Even so, those three outnumbered the representation for the Lieberman, Clark, Moseley-Braun, Sharpton, and even Bush campaigns combined.

Dean chants included, “D-E-A-N, Let’s Take Our Country Back Again,” “Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean,” “People-Powered Howard,” “Dean for America, Dean for Iowa,” and “The Doctor is In.” The Kucinich Crowd, looking like modern age 1960’s war protestors, had drums and a speaker and sang “We All Have Hope in Our Hearts” and “We Want Kucinich for President” with a little improv rapping mixed in. The Kerry folk chanted the latest campaign slogan, “The Real Deal,” while the Gephardt and Edwards groups stuck with just their candidate’s names from what I could hear.

Also joining the ‘rally’ were the Kucinich Bus, painted in bright colors once again reminiscent of the 1960s and the Teamsters Union Big Rig which would blast its horn in the intersection, trying to drown out the Kucinich drums and dancers. Kerry got dropped off in front of the entrance and his supports created a protective corridor of the huge five foot by 7 foot signs on the spot. The other candidates came in the back due to security issues.

Once the debate got underway, most everyone started to disperse and within 15 minutes, the corners outside of the Debate complex cleared out and returned to their everyday state, as if there hadn’t just been a sign war with hundreds of people. Such is the nature of the sign war.

The PrAP-C

As luck would have it, me being at the Headquarters instead of out canvassing for a change, ended up getting me involved in a special project which was no one day event.

I was pulled aside with 6 other people in order to be the formative group of the Pre-Arrival Processing Center, later to become known as the PrAP-C. Our goal? To call the over 2000 people signed up to arrive this next weekend. We started from scratch as there was nothing organized yet to take on this feat.

There was an empty room in the back of the secondary Headquarters that did nothing but house the tens of boxes of chewy granola bars and stacks of bottled water. Soon bottled water packs plus some plywood became instant tables. Lights, heaters, some Internet lines plus a box of cell phones were called in. One phone each for outgoing and one each for incoming responses. Posters were hung up on the wall and soon were filled with numbering systems, scripts, larger group names that were being taken care of, and maps of Iowa with major Dean volunteer hubs and sub-bases marked. A mini-map of the United States was drawn so that way when it hit 9 p.m. in any particular time zone it could be announced that that zone was closed and to go West on the phone lists. Our laptops were set up and connected to the network so that we could update everyone’s information on the spot using a system that had been built just for this surge of thousands of volunteers, unheard of in the history of the Iowa Caucuses.

Ah yes, the phone lists. Page after page of them were brought in. Each was divided by state and had full names, phone numbers, housing and transportation status, and arrival information if available. It was an enormous task, but we went from zero to a fully-fledged operation in less than three hours. No small feat.

And the calling began. Call after call of confirming information and offering helpful hints and tips to those coming from all over the country, even from Hawaii, Alaska, and Japan! It was slow going but we improved as we gained experience. For four days the calls continued non-stop. New blood was introduced on the second day and the room was buzzing with about a dozen volunteers at its peak. By the third day, we were running into some people who had already arrived but hadn’t been checked into the system. It was always good for a laugh in the PrAP-C when we called someone who was working two rooms down from us in the same building.

At one point we had to duct tape a door shut that people kept trying to come into from outside, which not only disrupted us but tended to blow papers around the room at inconvenient moments. Not fun. We were a very close knit group and we posted signs outside our entrances warning others not to enter. We were masters of our own domain and seldom left, unless it was to retrieve water and chewy granola bars, most of which had since been moved out of our room. If we had used the only nourishment available in the PrAP-C room, we would have had to start consuming our tables’ makeshift legs. We universally agreed that that wasn’t in out best long term interests.

Once we were done, it took little time before the Des Moines staff has determined that the PrAP-C room needed to go to make way for ‘flow control’ so that things would proceed more smoothly for the weekend volunteers. And in less than 30 minutes, PrAP-C was no more.

It was sad but it was closure. Our task was finally complete. We were a scrappy crew but we did our job, well enough that a quote about the Iowa operation in a New York Times article by an incoming volunteer stated that we seemed “organized and professional!” Those probably wouldn’t have been the words that we would have used, but if that’s how it seemed on the outside, we weren’t about to complain!

It was a huge project, but it was nice to have to deal with it. Never before has a presidential campaign attracted literally thousands of volunteers from everywhere to spend a weekend in the cold in Iowa just because they believe in something more than just a man running for president. In talking with people on the phone, it’s evident that there is something different going on here. People are believing in themselves and their ability to enact change. It’s extraordinary; it’s what keeps me going at the end of the day.

Fort Dodge, Iowa

For the last weekend when the big push of thousands of volunteers was to be at its peak, the Des Moines office asked dedicated volunteers, including most all of PrAP-C to become captains for all the secondary field offices across the state. I, along with a fellow PrAP-Cer, Steve from Eugene, Oregon, was sent out to Fort Dodge, Iowa. It was the smallest of all the field offices, and we were given one van, nearly 500 granola bars and bottles of water, and plenty of literature and door hangers. Fort Dodge was the center for most of the most rural parts of Iowa in East Central Iowa and was not in charge of handling much training or out of state check-in. We were to be forwarded volunteers from Des Moines, mainly Texans and an Ohio crew who canvassed the three days that we were out there.

Fort Dodge is an older town, complete with the classic brick buildings of times past, often with the old painted advertisements for products like Borax still visible. It a place rich with both despair and hope. Many jobs have moved out, with bars on every other street in what could be called downtown. Though the town sign says Fort Dodge is the ‘Frontier of the Future,’ the first two businesses past the sign are a concrete plant and salt distributor. But there are many churches and other places of worship. In fact, surrounding one parking lot near the Dean Field Office was the First Baptist Church, First Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Masonic Temple. There is that sense of community that I’m sure most of these rural Midwestern towns share and I think that provides some of the same hope that has parts of the downtown area being rebuilt.

“I Have a Scream”

The day of the caucuses had finally arrived. All of the volunteer filled office staffs were asked to start heading back to Des Moines and let the local coordinators take over the nights Get Out the Vote operations. With just under an hour or two to go until the caucus doors closed, I joined up with the 150 strong Texas bus crew in Ames, Iowa, where Dean and Sen. Harkin were giving their last speeches at the thousand person rally on the University campus. Soon after, we joined the few thousand people who had been called back to Des Moines in preparation for the post-caucus rally at the now infamous Val Air Ballroom.

Throughout the weekend, and even up until the very last day, we thought he had had the caucus in the bag. The numbers of identified Dean supporters we thought we had should have easily been enough to sweep the night. How wrong we were. The results had started to filter in and within an hour, everyone know that, yes, we had beaten Rep. Dick Gephardt, but it was with a 3rd place finish. But somehow, someway, nothing seemed to kill the spirits of all the out of state volunteers who had just given so much for the campaign. The rooms was abuzz with activity; Howard Dean was about to give his speech after being introduced by Sen. Harkin.

There was little space to move as the room was packed. Volunteers were waving their American flags and pom-poms like there was tomorrow. When Dean walked out on stage, it was as if the feature act of a rock concert had just begun. The cheering of the crowd was literally deafening, and we were acting as if the man had just come in first place by 20 points.

Dean rolled up his sleeves and began his speech, quickly moving to the now well known listing of states. With each one named, the roar from the crowd swelled. The energy was at the breaking point as we fed off of each other. And just as we were “…going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House,” the enthusiasm breeched it’s last barrier as a deafening combination of clapping, whooping, and stomping overpowered what we later realized was the moment that Dean let loose “The Scream.” Most anyone in the crowd would tell you that the sound adjusted clip, played over 700 times in the next four days, was grossly out of touch with the reality of what happened there that night. Dean wasn’t insane; we the people were. If I could have changed what happened, sure, a speech without the hollering would have done less damage. But I would never have changed a single thing I did that week having given it my all in support of the notion that change is needed in politics and that each and every one of us has the power to begin that process.

Young Man Goes West

I was restless. I had seen the man I had given money and weeks of my life to being beaten down by the media and competing candidates. The very same type of politics and insider game was creeping back into controlling the nominating contest that Dean had redefined. I had time to make one last stand for the guy I believed in so this past weekend I went West to Phoenix, Arizona.

The headquarters was much smaller than I expected after the near gargantuan Des Moines and Manchester state offices. But this was Arizona and there were 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.

We also were on a conference call with Rob Reiner and the California “Southwest Voter Express” volunteers, 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 Phoenix, if not Arizona!

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 was to be preceded by the next two days’ last big canvassing and phoning efforts to undecided voters.

The most work came on the last day I was there. I ended up going canvassing with Phoenix natives Randy and Rebecca. We only had to cover about 50 houses, much smaller than the New Hampshire list, and way smaller than Iowa. That was mostly due to the fact that Arizona has a closed Democratic Primary that Independents and Republicans can’t cross over into like they could in other states. This also meant that we did more drive and drop style canvassing than door to door walking. But the Phoenix area is very grid-like in nature making it easy to find houses.

Many people here have cast their ballots early, with that response coming most often from the older voters. There are a number of veterans here, as well as more minorities which are largely non-existent in Iowa and New Hampshire. One WWII veteran broke down in tears when talking to us about how much he disapproved of Bush’s War in Iraq saying that we live in modern times and should be able to elevate ourselves on the way we operate in the world. But even with that issue being so important to him, he’s planning on voting for Joe Lieberman, who has been the strongest champion of the war among the Democratic candidates. It’s because, as a fellow Jew, he wants to open up the Democratic Party to more people, he said.

It’s interesting to see how voters prioritize their voting issues. As a canvasser, you try to understand why people think the way they do while respecting their choices, but it can be deeply frustrating when it appears voters are not being logical. For instance, some voters discuss how much they are upset with the war, or with the Patriot Act and then say they support Senators Kerry, Edwards, or Lieberman who all either voted for or sponsored those bills in the Senate. The “Edwards is a nice young man” one is equally as confusing as a reasonable argument for deciding who to vote for, but people will be people, reasonable or not.

Final Thoughts- for Now

I never thought a year ago that I would have done so much for a presidential campaign. It was always my impression that it was something left up to insiders who knew the process and didn’t want any help from everyday people. The Dean campaign has changed that view, and it has taken me all this time to finally realize what Dean mean’s when he says “You have the power,” in his speeches. Each one of us has a voice, though small in comparison to the empires that nationalized politics and the media have built. But it is not impossible to use that voice, that individual power and stand up for what is right. My favorite quote of the campaign, by Margaret Mead, says it best: “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2004

Progressive Mayor of Madison, WI Endorses Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

One of the more progessive mayors of a major American city has endorsed John Edwards in the Democratic Primary in Wisconsin this Tuesday. The AP reports:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards picked up endorsements Saturday from Madison's mayor and one of its two newspapers.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who leads the state's second-largest city, was courted by all leading candidates, but said he decided to back Edwards largely because of his focus on economic issues, especially the concerns of low-income Americans and the needs of cities.

"John Edwards is the only candidate who has talked consistently and before every audience about the issue of poverty in America," Cieslewicz said.

Edwards state director John Kraus said Cieslewicz's statewide reputation as an environmental activist will help Edwards with Democrats far from the capital city.


Cieslewicz has a very progressive background as he was elected mayor of Madison in a Democrat / Green coalition. Columnist John Nichols writes:


When Dave Cieslewicz was campaigning for mayor of Madison earlier this year, the veteran environmental activist received valuable support from leading local Greens.

Cieslewicz is a Democrat, but his record as director of the 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin environmental group, his very progressive stances on economic and social issues, and his freewheeling style made him attractive to a number of committed Green activists and elected officials in Madison.

Arguably, Cieslewicz's appeal to the core Green voting bloc, and to the broader bloc of Green-leaning voters in the city, made the difference in his narrow win over Paul Soglin in the April vote.


It's interesting to see that a lot of progressives are flocking to John Edwards as Howard Dean is fading. Personally, if I had to vote today, I would vote for Edwards because I think he brings a passion and appeal to Americans that is missing from the Kerry campaign. If Edwards beats Dean for second in Wisconsin (which I think is likely), the ABK (Anyone but Kerry) crowd will probably coalese around John Edwards. It will be interesting to see how much traction Edwards gains from it. Still, I think that Kerry's war record in Vietnam has convinced the majority of Democratic voters that he is the best candidate to go toe to toe with Bush on national security. Even so, a vote for John Edwards is a vote for him to be Kerry's Vice President at the least, and for that purpose, I'd vote for him, as he brings a balance to the ticket in many ways, especially regarding region and background.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kerry Wins NV, DC

By Byron LaMasters

CNN reports today's results:

District of Columbia Caucuses
(Candidate) / (Vote Total) / (Delegate Total)

Kerry 4,278 47% 9
Sharpton 1,824 20% 4
Dean 1,596 18% 3
Edwards 927 10% 0
Kucinich 303 3% 0

Nevada Caucuses
(Candidate) / (Vote Total) / (Delegate Total)

Kerry 2,252 63% 6
Dean 601 17% 2
Edwards 373 10% 0
Kucinich 241 7% 0
Sharpton 25 1% 0

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Alma Allen for State Representative!

By Byron LaMasters

I've been waiting for Alma Allen to put up a website, and here it is! Not only that, but she links to an entry by Jim on her homepage.

For those of you not familiar with Ron Wilson (the incumbent pro-redistricting "Democrat" in District 131 (Houston)), Jim really summed it up best when he cited this Houston Press article:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Let's kick the bastard out. Contribute to Alma Allen for State Representative.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And Just when I thought Dallas was Finally Normal...

By Byron LaMasters

We see crazy billboards like this:

Via AP / Yahoo News

And I can't leave out the caption:


This billboard in Dallas on Feb. 2, 2004, is a campaign by Dallas-based nonprofit software company by NetAccountability, a nonprofit software company that aims to help Christians confront the 'secret sin' of pornography. The company is urging men to give their wives a special gift for Valentines -- abstinence from porn. The billboards are scheduled to be displayed on Friday, Feb. 13, 2004, the day before Valentines Day.


Good God. Well, if you have a pornography problem, by all means, check out their website. I'm frankly amused by it. Don't we have bigger things to worry about?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Soechting On Bush and the National Guard

By Byron LaMasters

Via the Quorum Report, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting said the following about George W. Bush's military record:

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting today said that the continuing controversy over President George W. Bush's military service record could be quickly resolved if the President would simply name his best three or four friends from his years in the National Guard.

"A nationwide manhunt has failed to turn up a single individual who remembers serving with young Guardsman George W. Bush," Soechting said. "Rather than sending the press and his own political supporters on a desperate search, the President himself could end the controversy by telling us who his best friends were during this pivotal time in his life."

"Friendships that often last a lifetime are formed among young men and women when they proudly serve their country," Soechting said. "President Bush should clear up this entire controversy and give us the names of his top three or four friends in the Alabama or Texas Guard."


It's a good idea. Who can vouch for George W. Bush in the National Guard? Anyone? Or was he too busy working on an Alabama Senate campaign to remember to show up for four months?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:28 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

Million For Marriage

By Byron LaMasters

I'm adding the following banner to the sidebar, because it's a huge issue that we can't ignore. I'm a political pragmatist, and I wish that the whole gay marriage issue wouldn't have exploded in an election year, but it has. And it's an issue that I back 100%. It's the first major Civil Rights battle of the 21st Century and we can't back away from it. So I'd urge anyone else interested in this issue to get involved with the Human Rights Campaign project: Million for Marriage.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Same-Sex Couples Wait to Marry Longer that Spears Marriage Lasted

By Byron LaMasters

559 gay and lesbian couples have married in San Francisco in the past two days:

Despite accusations that the mayor is riding roughshod over the law, conservative groups failed to stop San Francisco from issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday as hundreds more gay couples rushed to tie the knot before the opportunity slipped away.

All day long, the marble passages beneath City Hall's ornate gold dome echoed with applause as one couple after another got hitched, promising to be ''spouses for life.'' As of Friday night, 559 couples had gotten married.

Gay couples received more good news when a judge denied a request by conservatives to immediately block the marriage spree, allowing the weddings to continue on Valentine's Day and through the long holiday weekend. The judge ordered attorneys to come back Tuesday and make their case.


Immediate injuctions to stop San Francisco from issuing marriage licenses failed. Conservative organizations failed to stop San Francisco from issuing marriage licenses, and marriages will continue over the weekend. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story:


Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples lined up for hours to tie the knot at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, as anti-gay marriage forces seeking to put an immediate halt to the weddings were told by a judge that they would have to wait until next week.

Lawyers for two groups filed separate lawsuits accusing Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city officials of violating state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. They said they would return to court Tuesday to seek a temporary restraining order to stop the weddings.

In the meantime, officials said they would keep City Hall open Valentine's Day and the rest of the three-day weekend for anyone who wants to get married.

[...]

"We've been waiting longer than Britney Spears' marriage lasted,'' said Andy Tabbat, who was standing in line beside his partner, Barry Wolpa.


Britney Spears has done more to damage the institution of marriage than any of the 559 gay and lesbian couples who have been married in San Francisco in the past two days have. Period end.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

A few words on gay marriage

By Jim Dallas

This is going to be one of the more painful posts I've ever had to get around to writing, but this has been turning around in my head for a while. I've probably had about 20 different opinions on this over the last year, but recent events have tended to force and crystallize the issue.

When the justices of the Massachussetts Supreme Court opined last month that the law of the land required not merely civil unions but outright gay marriage, I was stunned. I had expected the issue to hang around for 20 years or so while America got its moral house in order. After all, it was only last year that the Supreme Court struck down a discriminatory sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas; we've just now reached the point where there's a consensus in this country that gays and lesbians shouldn't be punished simply for being gays or lesbians. Which is all very exciting - now could be the time for pushing through an employment non-discrimination act and overturning bans on gay adoption.

Instead, we now have Massachusetts gridlocked in legal gobbledydook and San Francisco granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In a couple of months, the legal focus has shifted from ridding the world of out-and-out oppression and insuring equity to demanding complete equality. The gauntlet has been been thrown down; the Rubicon crossed. And this all leaves me in something of a moral dilemma.

(A note - I am shocked, absolutely shocked (in a Claude Rains kind of way, perhaps) that the City of San Francisco appears to be acting in defiance of the laws of the State of California).

I don't happen to believe that marriage, as a legal instrument, is a right for anybody, regardless of gender. I happen to strongly believe that civil union laws are a step in the right direction - because the current inability for same-sex couples to participate in marriage is a major inconvenience from a legal standpoint (to say the least). And I would accept gay marriage if it were offered as the only alternative to a life-time of higher taxes, legal insecurity, and social confusion for gay couples.

(Let's all agree - if we disagree on principle - that the status quo for gay couples outside of Vermont, Massachusetts, and San Francisco is not very pragmatic).

Along with the shift in legal focus comes a shift in rhetorical focus. You used to fall in with the liberals if you believed that gay relationships weren't inherently "bad" and were, in fact, generally a "good" thing. The debate over gay marriage, however, asks of us whether or not we happen to believe that gay marriages are equivalent to heterosexual ones.

That's a fine distinction - and one which is going to lead to a lot of dissembling on both sides. On one hand, you have those who are dead-set against gay marriage for religious reasons. While I consider myself to be somewhat conservative myself on matters of religion, I also happen to recognize the poverty of the religious argument against homosexual relationships (and that the Bible is very often the last refuge of a true scoundrel).

On the other hand, it has not pleased me that other bloggers have likened my skeptical view towards gay marriage to support of anti-miscegenation laws and racial segregation. The last time I checked, there were substantial differences between men and women, what they're capable of doing, and surely that's got to have some bearing on things. It seems to me that there is a good chance that - from a legal standpoint - there is a case for different institutions for gay and straight couples simply because each faces a separate set of needs and challenges.

It may be that I am simply being stubbornly traditional in my gender politics - perhaps even bigoted. And if so there will, I have no doubt, be called to account for those sins. But it might also be possible than in our zeal to ensure freedom and equality for everyone, we are attempting to erase some un-eraseable lines. This is something that is going to take a lot of thought and meditation, not name-calling and absolutism (Meteor Blades clearly disagrees).

That is why I get uncomfortable with shirts declaring that "marriage is a human right; not a heterosexual privilege." Because I flat-out disagree with the first part (SCOTUS opinions in Loving, Zablocki, etc. notwithstanding), and prefer to remain open-minded about the second.

Of course, there is always the hyper-libertarian solution, which is simply to ban all state-sponsored marriage. I'll never support a "Federal Marriage Amendment" that discriminates against GLBT folks (and its time for the SCOTUS to step up and nullify the federal Defense of Marriage Act, too, under a strict construction of the Full Faith and Credit clause) -- but I might support one that scrapped the whole darn institution and left it to the Church to marry people.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Snow In Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Well our annual snow/ice/sleet, etc. is here. It's snowing in Austin. I'll have to go throw a snowball at my neighbors. Continue for the doppler radar via Weather.com.

Update: Well all of the snow melted by the time I woke up, despite Norbizness's doomsday predictions, and there's even proof that Dallas got some snow as well.

Update: It's still snowing:

Update: And there's more!

Update: And it's finally moving out.... :-(

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:33 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

It's Here, Drudge's Left Cousin, SMUDGE!

By Byron LaMasters

I know, I'm as guilty as anyone else. I read the Drudge Report regularly. Well now, there's a Drudge for the left. Everyone, let's welcome his left cousin, Smudge to the web. Check out the Smudge Report for some Drudge-style reporting from the left. Best of luck to Smudge!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2004

Ralph Hall Looks Safe

By Byron LaMasters

At least if the Sherman Lincoln Day Dinner is any indication. It looks like Hall's party switch has been quite well accepted by Republicans in his new district. Via the Quorum Report:

As he stood at the podium at the Lincoln Day Dinner at Austin College last night, it was hard to imagine US Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) as anything other than a Republican.

The 80-year-old Hall – former state senator, former county judge and current Republican Congressman Congressman from Rockwall -- regaled the North Texas crowd with homespun tales of his Oval Office visit with President Ronald Reagan and his trip on Air Force One with President George W. Bush. He told the crowd, unabashedly, that he was "crazy about our president."

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bush Continues to Abuse Presidential Symbolism

By Byron LaMasters

We spent some time in one of my government classes today discussing today's Paul Krugman op-ed piece in the New York Times.

By my count, this year's budget contains 27 glossy photos of Mr. Bush. We see the president in front of a giant American flag, in front of the Washington Monument, comforting an elderly woman in a wheelchair, helping a small child with his reading assignment, building a trail through the wilderness and, of course, eating turkey with the troops in Iraq. Somehow the art director neglected to include a photo of the president swimming across the Yangtze River.

It was not ever thus. Bill Clinton's budgets were illustrated with tables and charts, not with worshipful photos of the president being presidential.

The issue here goes beyond using the Government Printing Office to publish campaign brochures. In this budget, as in almost everything it does, the Bush administration tries to blur the line between reverence for the office of president and reverence for the person who currently holds that office.


Very true. Krugman goes on to compare this abuse of presidential symbolism to Opperation Flight Suit, etc., but the idea of putting dozens of pictures of the president in the budget is very distasteful. This is a federal document, not a piece of campaign literature. George W. Bush has shown time and time again how he, as Krugman writes, has more reverence for himself, than for the office of the Presidency itself. So much for returning dignity and honor to the White House...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

He Won't Win the Nomination, But Will A Date Do?

By Byron LaMasters

Dennis Kucinich played The Dating Game on the Tonight Show last night:

Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich took his quest for a girlfriend to late-night television - and won a date with actress Jennifer Tilly.

The Ohio congressman, who has been divorced twice, asked questions of a trio of unseen women Thursday in a takeoff on "The Dating Game" on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Responses by Tilly, actress Cybill Shepherd and Los Angeles radio talk show host Kim Serafin blended sexual innuendo with politics and references to Kucinich's environmental concerns.

Serafin said she would help Kucinich relax after a long day on the campaign trail by rubbing him "with oil not tested on animals."

Shepherd, in a reference to Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime show, plotted a "wardrobe malfunction" - pulling up her dress to reveal red boxers.

Kucinich asked bachelorette No. 1: "So I win the Democratic nomination, but I have laryngitis so I ask you to make the victory speech. What do you say?"

"Good evening delegates," Tilly responded. "My husband, Dennis, thought he was going to lose so he didn't write a victory speech. And now he's pretending like he has laryngitis."

"That's really good," Kucinich said, laughing.

After Kucinich selected Tilly and she emerged from behind a screen, Leno presented Kucinich with a gift certificate to a Santa Monica vegan restaurant.


We could play a game with this. Which will Dennis get more of? Convention delegates (he has 2 currently), or dates throughout the campaign? I'm personally betting on dates...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Morris Meyer Running Blogads

By Byron LaMasters

Much was made of Ben Chandler's decision to run BlogAds to help him raise money over the Internet. As a special election where Democrats have a great chance of picking up a GOP House seat, he was able to connect with Democratic activists across the country through use of BlogAds.

Now a Congressional candidate here in Texas is trying his luck with BlogAds. I've spotted Morris Meyer blogads on Atrios (second one on the right-hand column). Now, Meyer is a severe underdog, but it's good to see that Joe Barton has a savvy opponent well versed in understanding how to use the Internet effectively.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MA Anti-Gay Amendment Scuttled for now, 50 Couples Wed in SF

By Byron LaMasters

It's been quite a day. I had a chance to watch some of the Massachusetts legislature debate on C-SPAN tonight and it was quite powerful. Openly gay State Sen. Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge) had a passionate speech on the topic, along with many others. In the end, opponents of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Massachusetts prevailed in blocking another vote (two amendments failed on Wednesday). With the failure to reach any agreement, the Constitutional Convention is now adjourned until March 11.

Out of the other coast, more than 50 gay and lesbian couples were married in San Francisco today. State Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) also filed a bill today entitled the California Marriage License Nondiscrimination Act, which would define marriage in California as between two persons as opposed to between a man and a women. I'm expecting lawsuits to be filed tomorrow to attempt to nullify the marriages in San Francisco, but we'll see what happens.

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

February 12, 2004

Kerry Leads Texas

By Byron LaMasters

According to a Survey USA poll collected 2/8-2/10:

Kerry 47%
Edwards 17%
Dean 16%
Clark 9%
Other 8%
Undecided 4%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Helping a Brother Out

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Though I never had a chance to write about it on this blog, while in Iowa I was part of a special group called the PrAP-C, the Pre-Arrival Processing Center, which I described in more detail in my original writings.

One of the people that was part of that group was a guy by the name of Anthony D'Amato, a singer beyond my imagination who was in the Top 100 for the latest round of American Idol this year.

I received an e-mail from him the other day about something great that has happened in his life and wanted to share it with you because it's one of those things in life that is so unpredictable that it makes you just smile. Anthony has been asked to emcee/host for the first national Clay Aiken Convention (of American Idol 2, if you remember). As a friend, fellow Dean supporter, and believer in the power of the Internet to bring people and ideas together, I offer you his story...

THE STORY

Okay, folks, here's my situation. I was recently asked to join in being an emcee/host for the first national Clayvention (yes, you got it... a huge gathering of Clay Aiken fans or "Claymates", from around the country) in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a fan of Clay, this will be a great experience and opportunity, and I will get to meet many of the people I have been interacting with for a long time. Also, it will be a great addition to the resume. However... I have a problem...

THE PROBLEM

I can't afford it. Although some arrangements are being taken care of for me, it seems like I won't be able to afford it in time. I have to fly myself down and take care of a few things down there. What is a poor, starving artist to do?

THE BEG

Some friends decided that I should ask for donations through my website, and offer something in the near future in return, and that's what I've decided to do. I've spent the past few months working locally and nationally for the Howard Dean campaign, all of which is volunteer. I've met some great people and have learned things that I have never known; these things may lead to a future career. Also, I've been spending a lot of time writing original music that will soon be available... trying to further my career as a vocal musician. Though jobs have come and gone, I don't have one right now... and getting one before the event will be near impossible due to TOO many scheduled conflicts.

THE DEAL

I'm asking for a donation... of any kind, large or small. Help a brother out! You've all helped me so much in the past, and I do what I can to help you back. If you think I should have this great chance, please donate whatever you can by clicking the donation link and moving the meter up!

IF YOU DONATE $5 OR MORE, YOU WILL RECEIVE:
* a signed copy of Anthony's soon to be recorded demo, which will feature original songs and covers.

IF YOU DONATE $10 OR MORE, YOU WILL RECEIVE:
* a complimentary ticket to an upcoming solo show in the near future, OR a LIVE RECORDING of that show.
* a signed copy of Anthony's soon to be recorded demo, which will feature original songs and covers.

THE THANKS

I will, of course, accept anything large or small. $1, less or more, anything you can do so that I can reach my goal. I can't thank you enough for even visiting the site and perhaps being interested for one second. The people who support me early on in my career will never be forgotten, for you are the people who have fueled my energy and creativity throughout the years.

DONATIONS ACCEPTED THROUGH PAYPAL!
UNTIL THE EVENING OF FEBRUARY 28th!

I really hope that some of you will consider this and spread the word if you wish. I have attached a picture of us two in the extended entry as proof that this is the "Real Deal".

(You didn't think I was really going to make it through an entry without some political humor, did you?)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DCCC Blog!

By Byron LaMasters

Here it is! The Stakeholder. It looks as if the DCCC has followed the lead of the DSCC, the DNC and the Texas Democratic Party. Not only that, but I got linkage. Woo-hoo! Their first posts are focused on helping elect Ben Chandler to Congress next Tuesday in Kentucky's 6th district. You can help elect Ben Chandler by contributing here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Application for Sect. of State?

By Byron LaMasters

I don't know about anyone else, but that was my first thought upon seeing this:

Wesley Clark, who abandoned his bid for the presidency, plans to endorse Democrat John Kerry, according to Democratic officials.

Clark spokesman Matt Bennett would not confirm the endorsement, but said, "Gen. Clark is looking forward to going to Wisconsin to be with Sen. Kerry" on Friday.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the retired Army general would make a formal endorsement at a campaign stop in Wisconsin, which holds its primary Tuesday.


Clark may have made some mistakes and gaffes as a candidate, but as a surrogate speaker for our ticket on the campaign trail and as a posible Secretary of State, he offers a great deal to the Democratic Party.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:05 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Threat to Traditional Marriage?

By Byron LaMasters

How are these women, who were married in San Francisco today a threat to your marriage?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

SF Gives Marriage License to Lesbian Couple

By Byron LaMasters

As the Massachusetts conventions drags on through day two after two compromise amendments failed yesterday, the city of San Francisco has decided to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in a challenge to California law:

History was made at 11:06 a.m. today at San Francisco City Hall when Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon took their wedding vows, becoming the first same-sex couple to be officially married in the United States.

Mabel Teng, the city's assessor-recorder, officiated over the ceremony, inserting the phrase "spouse for life'' in place of "husband'' and "wife.''

"This is a very significant day for Del and Phyllis and for all of us witnessing this historic ceremony,'' Teng said before the couple recited their vows.

About 20 people witnessed the ceremony; many of them were moved to tears as the couple, who have been together for five decades, were wed.

The wedding came just two days after Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that he wanted San Francisco to take the lead in bestowing the same marriage rights to gays and lesbians as are awarded to straight couples, saying he is duty-bound to fight discrimination.

The landmark wedding, the first of many expected to be held at City Hall today, is sure to set off a legal challenge. City officials, in fact, rushed to issue the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples as quickly as possible for fear that opponents would seek a court injunction to stop them. Officials alerted only a handful of people that they were ready to act, wanting to keep it secret until the papers were signed and the "I do's'' were spoken.

The decision was made late Wednesday night, and the clerk's office spent this morning amending the marriage license documents to reflect the change.

In place of "bride'' and "groom'' on the application were the words "1st applicant'' and "2nd applicant.''

After Martin, 83, and the 79-year-old Lyon were declared spouses for life, three other couples were lined up, awaiting their turn to take marriage vows.

Lyon, who will celebrate her 51st anniversary with Martin on Saturday, Valentine's Day, got a call Wednesday from Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, asking her if she'd be willing to take the plunge.


It's funny how Gavin Newsome was attacked by liberals and Greens as a conservative in San Francisco's recent mayoral election where Newsome narrowly defeated Green Matt Gonzalez. It's amazing how quickly the gay marriage is exploding into the public debate. You bet it'll be an election issue and Democrats will have an interesting balancing act to do.

Update: The picture seen on Daily Kos is in my next post, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Guilt By Association

By Byron LaMasters

The White House yesterday released a photo of John Kerry at an anti-Vietnam war rally where he is seen near Jane Fonda:

Big Deal. John Kerry is several people behind Fonda, and it was thirty years ago. Trying to attach John Kerry to the comments of Fonda in Hanoi is absurd. While Jane Fonda spoke defending the North Vietnamese government, John Kerry was saving American lives and fighting for his country. He served his duty, then returned home, saw the futility of the war, and spoke out against it. Trying to associate him with the comments of Jane Fonda in Hanoi is disgraceful and disgusting, especially when they are coming from the Bush administration (did anyone say AWOL?).

While I was president of the University Democrats last year we were a co-sponsor of an anti-war rally (February 2003). I helped aquire two Democratic elected officials to speak at the event. I stood in the front with the speakers and shook their hands. Does the fact that there were speakers at the event that are Socialists or that the event was co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization make me a socialist? Of course not. Anyone can be called a racist, a sexist, a socialist, a fascist, a communist, etc. etc. if you connect people through people or organizations in which they were associated with someone who really is a racist, a sexist, a socialist, a fascist or a communist. I agreed with the International Socialist Organization that going to war against Iraq was a bad idea. I agreed with them on one issue. That's it. John Kerry agreed with Jane Fonda that the Vietnam war needed to end. They agreed on one issue. That was it.

But, under the Bush logic, I guess we can call Bush an anti-Semetic racist, because he spoke and campaigned at Bob Jones University on February 2, 2000, a month before Bob Jones University ended their ban on interracial dating. Thus, under the Bush logic, this picture of Bush speaking to Bob Jones University in February 2000 obviously proves that George W. Bush is a racist.

This whole line of attack is rediculous. Is this the best they can do?

Jane Fonda picture is via Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, one of the first of what will soon be many smear John Kerry sites.

The Bob Jones picture is via the David Duke's website.

Update: Thanks to Jeff for the tip. I had forgotten about this picture, via Blog Critics:

Here, Donald Rumsfeld is shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. Does that mean that Donald Rumsfeld is a terrorist? Under the Bush administration logic with the Kerry/Fonda picture, it obviously does...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:39 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

States I've Visited

By Byron LaMasters

So I saw this on Off the Kuff and The C Blog, so I figured I'd post mine.



create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

And here's the countries...



create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 11, 2004

UFW Endorses Doggett

By Byron LaMasters

This is a few days old, but winning the support of the United Farm Workers is certainly a boost to Lloyd Doggett's campaign in the 25th Congressional District against Leticia Hinojosa (in a 69% Hispanic district).

Adding heft to an already lengthy list of Rio Grande Valley endorsements in his race for a new seat in Congress, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, got the backing of the United Farm Workers of America on Saturday. Members of a UFW committee who interviewed the candidates said it was a tough decision to choose Doggett over his Rio Grande Valley opponent in the Democratic primary, former State District Judge Leticia Hinojosa of McAllen.

[...]

With hundreds of members in the Valley, the UFW is one of the region's most active political groups, and its leaders hope to make a difference of some 2,000 votes in the March 9 primary.

"We knew that Leticia was a Valley girl and that she has struggled and persevered, but we felt we needed the strongest person who could really make a difference," said Ester Salinas, one of 20 UFW members who voted in the endorsement process.

[...]

It was designed to be a perfect fit for a minority candidate, but the UFW's backing is another sign that Doggett's bid was being taken seriously by core Democratic constituencies.

Hinojosa pleaded for a chance to prove herself to the constituents of the district. But Doggett's five terms in Congress — including a perfect voting record for the AFL-CIO, which the UFW is a part of — won the group over, Salinas said.


Doggett has been endorsed by a large number of elected officials in South Texas. In Austin, his support has been nearly unanimous. Hinojosa has been endorsed by State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos and the Austin Tejano Democrats (where his family yields a lot of influence), but every other Austin elected official endorsing in the race has endorsed Doggett. Most every Democratic club in Austin has endorsed Lloyd Doggett (I think the vote was a unanimous 43-0 for the University Democrats). The Austin Progressive Coalition (an organization formed by the University Democrats and Central Austin Democrats each year to put up doorhangers in central Austin for candidates that the candidates we've both endorsed) will be blockwalking for Lloyd Doggett in the coming weeks. Also on our flyer will be Nancy Hohengarten for County Court at Law #5, Stephen Yelenosky for 345th District Judge, Gisela Triana for 200th District Judge, Luke Mercer for Constable Precinct 1 and Maria Canchola for Constable Precinct 4.

For those of you in Austin, the Austin Progressive Coalition will be holding a fundraiser next Wednesday, February 18th at the AFL-CIO hall. We'll be airing the MoveOn.org documentary Truth Uncovered. Admission is $5.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Massachusetts Constitutional Convention

By Byron LaMasters

I wish C-SPAN could have been there. This would have been fun to watch. Today the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention convened to propose and debate constitutional amendments. Topping the list of items on the agenda was a constitutional amendment to bad gay marriage. Today their were votes on two proposed compromise amendments (a bipartisan Senate compromise which would ban gay marriage but mandate Civil Unions with all the same benefits of marriage for gay couples, and the amendment proposed by conservative Democratic MA House Speaker Thomas Finneran which would ban gay marriage but would allow the legislature to enact legislation for Civil Unions). The first compromise amendment failed by a 104-94 margin with opposition from opponents of Civil Unions on the right and opposition from supporters of gay marriage on the left. The second amendmet failed by a 100-98 vote with united support from conservatives, but opposition from supporters of gay marriage and Civil Unions on the left. There will be a vote on an amendment banning gay marriage "or its legal equivalent". My guess is that this will fail by a larger margin as moderates supporting the compromise will probably oppose such a far-reaching amendment. On the other hand, another vote on the first compromise (banning gay marriage but mandating Civil Unions) might be successful if conservatives who opposed it the first time vote for it since they would surely rather see Civil Unions than gay marriage. In order for the Massachusetts constitution to be amended, an amendment must be passed by two consecutive legislatures (simple majority vote) and then approved by the voters (so a vote would be no earlier than 2006). For more information on the process, go here.

For the best coverage of the convention, check out the Boston Globe.

For the text of the proposed amendments, go here.

For a roll call on the Finneran amendment (which failed 100-98), go here.

From quotes from the debate today, go here.

And finally, for an overview of the day, go here.

Fascinating debate. I'll be watching to see what happens.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Save the Children

By Byron LaMasters

In light of recent indecency on television, our congressmen are responding. Read this bill for a good laugh:

HR 3687 IH

108th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3687
To amend section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 8, 2003
Mr. OSE (for himself and Mr. SMITH of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A BILL
To amend section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

(1) by inserting `(a)' before `Whoever'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

`(b) As used in this section, the term `profane', used with respect to language, includes the words `shit', `piss', `fuck', `cunt', `asshole', and the phrases `cock sucker', `mother fucker', and `ass hole', compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).'.


That's our Congressman (well representing part of Austin now), Lamar Smith. It's amusing, but sad that these are the "problems" our congressmen are focusing on when so many Americans have lost their jobs, so many Americans are without health care and when American soldiers are dying daily in Iraq.

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Stupid Republican Bingo

By Byron LaMasters

Is this just not the stupidist game ever?

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Some Changes

By Byron LaMasters

I finally rebuilt BOR with a few changes. I deleted the links for the presidential candidates and blogs of candidates that have withdrawn from the race (I know, it's embarrassing, I still had a link to Bob Graham's site, yikes!). Even worse, the date-based archive pages still had links to the Constitutional Amendment endorsements we made back in September. Of a little bit more controvery, I deleted the "BOR for Dean" section. While I presume two of our contributors still support Howard Dean for President (Karl-Thomas and Jim D.), two of us are uncommitted (Andrew D. and I). So, I felt that it was appropriate to remove the Dean webring and "BOR for Dean" links. Of course, any BOR contributors are willing to post regarding their preferences, but I think the right sidebar ought to be left to our consensus (or at least 3-1 majority) choices regarding endorsements.

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Gotta love the things parent's say

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Not that any of you really care about what my mother thinks, but she does write me some of the funniest e-mails and I just can't resist posting some of her comments here. The latest...

I think it is awesome that Dean is sticking with it even after Wisconsin- Go, Dean, Go! You gotta believe! This thing ain't over yet, baby!

Ok, that fanatical comment aside...

I think we need to go ahead with Bush's Mars plan, because apparently he needs to go back to his home world where people actually believe the stuff he says- like he's going to create 2.6 million jobs this year! Wow! And denial is just a river in Egypt!

Bush must be in great shape physically from all the backpedaling and spinning he does on the Iraq war- now it seems we have a right to invade countries that pose a "possible threat". Shit, that's half the world. Where next, North Korea? He must be stopped.

Andrew, need any one-liner writers over there at the YDB?

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February 10, 2004

Clark is Out

By Byron LaMasters

And I broke the story on Kos. Go me.

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A Week From Today Democrats can Win in the South

By Byron LaMasters

I've blogged before on our chance to help elect Paul Sadler to the Texas Senate in northeast Texas. I've contributed twice to his campaign and I'd urge all of you to send him a little bit if you have a chance. I'd recommend any amount ending in a $1 ($11, $21, etc.) to let the campaign know that it's coming from the blogs. I've heard from several folks that the campaign is tracking blog contributions, and that they're raised several hundred dollars via the Internet with amounts ending in $1. Donate, here. If you want to volunteer with the campaign, call 903-938-7670 or email them at: Info@SadlerforSenate.com. This election can set the tone for 2004 in Texas. We can cut the GOP margin in the Texas Senate to 18-13 (a margin that if we would have had last year, could have prevented redistricting even after John Whitmire sold out his ten Democratic colleagues and returned to Texas). Another Democratic senator will give us added flexibility in helping block the worst of the Republican agenda. Finally, on a positive note, Sadler with his background on education issues will be a tremendous asset to the Senate in the upcoming debate on school finance. He deserves our help.

Also next Tuesday is a special election for a Congressional seat in Kentucky. The Democratic candidate, Ben Chandler leads his Republican opponent in a recent Survey USA poll (PDF file). He's raised over $40,000 online through Blog Ads, receiving a tremendous return on his investment. If you have a chance, donate to his campaign and add $.36 to you're donation to let them know the money is coming from Texas. Finally, if you're able to travel to Kentucky to help the Chandler campaign, you can join over 400 Democratic staffers from Washington D.C. in the effort. For more information, go here.

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How to Reduce UT Enrollment

By Byron LaMasters

As the largest University in the country with over 50,000 students, we're always talking about ways to deal with the enrollment issues we have at UT. This year, our freshman class is smaller than from the past couple of years as fewer students were admitted. Another proposal has been to limit students to five years (10 long semesters) at the University. Still, we're always looking for ways to reduce enrollment even further. A Daily Texan opinion collumn last week had several interesting ideas. Here's some of the collumn with my favorite ideas:

The Enrollment Task Force, given more than a year of research, has come up with a list of strategies that at best would modestly reduce the number of fifth-year seniors and at worst would punish students who have to take a foreign language. Yours truly, given a couple of days, has come up with a list of suggestions that would at best reduce the numbers of incoming freshmen and at worst turn this campus into an unbearable war zone.

[...]

Young Conservatives of Texas on the Welcome Committee

Nothing says open arms like a group whose ideas to better campus include the erection of a Ten Commandments statue. Say goodbye to "Gone to Texas," and say hello to "Gone to Protest a Dixie Chicks Concert." It would allow the YCT to profile any students they deem dangerous and would cut down freshman enrollment by at least 20 percent, though those excluded would probably be mostly minority students.

Turn the West, South and East Malls into Unrestricted Rally Spaces

All groups, student or otherwise, would have open range to protest all day and all night. A 500-foot Justice For All tower depicting aborted fetuses and a 1,500-foot Campus Coalition for Peace and Justice tower depicting Iraqi war victims would obstruct the Tower. Anyone trying to get to the Main Building or the UGL will have to fight his or her way through throngs of foul smelling anti-Bush vegans chucking copies of the Socialist Worker and spray-painting anyone wearing GAP khakis.

Stop Printing Campus Maps

Getting around the 40 Acres is no easy task. Among the constant construction, idiots on bikes and buildings with 20 different names, it's amazing that anyone gets anywhere. Banning all campus maps will eliminate anyone who lacks the social or directional skills to find out where they are going. As a side benefit, geography majors, like myself, could make some extra dough by designing and selling our own contraband maps.

Let Campus and Community Involvement Handle the Application Process

Somehow, the CCI takes the simplest of tasks - such as booking a room - and turns it into an affair slightly more complicated than filing the taxes for a Fortune 500 corporation. If CCI was in charge you'd need 15 letters of recommendation, fill out 200 pages of forms, and hand more than $8. You would have to send and resend the application back and forth half a dozen times because you forget to dot an "i" or because they lost a form. When all that was done they'd probably just end up sending you to the wrong university anyways.

Move the business school to Vidor, Texas

They think they're better than a majority of the population, so why not send them to a place where they really might be? Everyone wants to get into the McCombs School of Business, but would it remain that popular if their students had to drive back and forth between here and Vidor in the 10 minutes allotted between classes?

Five-Year Ban on Students from Plano

If you're sitting in class, reading this instead of paying attention to the lecture, look around. See that kid in the green polo? He went to Plano. See that girl in the "Everybody is Somebody in Luckenbach" T-shirt? She's from Plano too. In fact, just about everyone you've ever met have been from Plano. I say we cut them off for five years. That should reduce enrollment to just the 25,000 students from Houston.


Obviously, my favorite was having YCT on the welcome committee. For those of you not familiar with UT, every year Justice For All, an anti-abortion organization gets the West Mall rally space for a week or so to erect their 20-foot high signs of aborted fetuses. And of course, we also have the ISO (International Socialist Organization), which is usually protesting something. Also, as a former club president, I can personally atest to the difficulty in getting anything accomplished at the CCI office. Yes, there's several really nice people that work there, but good god.... it took forever to get things throught their bureaucracy.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Exit Polls

By Byron LaMasters

Looks like a Kerry sweep in the south. If these numbers hold up, it's great news for Kerry, and while Edwards would obviously like to win both Tennessee and Virginia, if he's able to come in a strong second in both and effectively knock out Wesley Clark, then it's a good day for him too.

Here's the numbers. They're all over the place, but they seemed to have originated in the blogosphere over at the National Review:

TN: Kerry 46, Edwards 28, Clark 15, Dean 7

VA: Kerry 48, Edwards 25, Clark 11, Dean 8

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Defending Al Gore

By Byron LaMasters

I watched Crossfire and several other political news shows, and the conservatives were up in arms attacking Al Gore's speech (wav file) in front of 1500 at a GOTV rally by the Tennessee Democratic Party on Sunday where Gore said of George W. Bush, "He betrayed this country". Tucker Carlson was going nuts over it.

Al Gore's right, and I'll defend him. George W. Bush betrayed America. He betrayed the lives of the 500+ Americans who have been killed in Iraq, their families and their future. George W. Bush told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was a clear and direct threat to our national security. He lied. Americans died, and George W. Bush betrayed America. It's that simple.

Speaking of Al Gore... It's interesting reading my thoughts on his endorsement of Howard Dean at the time. What looked so smart two months ago looks quite different today. Pundits are already claiming that the big loser of the primary season is Al Gore (more so than Howard Dean who went from having no base nationally to transforming the debate and the Democratic Party). Gore, so the CW assumed, endorsed Howard Dean so that Gore could reap the benefits of a Dean presidency, and if Dean lost to Bush, Gore would be able to inherit Dean's base in 2008. Well, neither of those scenarios are likely. Instead, Gore is marginalized and has been unable to deliver for Howard Dean. But then again, Richard Nixon looked like he was marginalized and completely out of the picture after losing his bid for Governor of California in 1962, and we all know what happened. Al Gore may be the biggest loser of this primary season so far, but I still don't think we should be writing his political obituary yet.

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February 09, 2004

Almost Had Me

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Even though it is well known by now that I'm no fan of John Kerry, I was beginning to warm to him, ever so slightly.

I spoke too soon.

Today, I heard on NPR online a clip of John Kerry being interviewed on major policy questions (wow, a first of late) instead of stupid electibility arguments.

From the following interview with Melissa Block(around the 2 minute mark) titled "Leading Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry outlines his stance on gay marriage and answers allegations of special-interest connections."

(My apologies if this isn't exactly word for word, I did my best to transcribe.)

MB: I'd like to turn to the subject of gay marriage, uh, the highest court in your home state of Massachusetts, has said that same-sex couples do have the right to marry. I know that you have said you oppose gay marriage but would you support a Constitutional Amendment that would define marriage as a heterosexual union?

JK: Well, it depends entirely on the language of whether it permits civil union and partnership or not. I'm for civil union, I'm for partnership rights. I think what ought to condition this debate is not the term marriage but.... etc.

My problem isn't that he isn't for outright gay marriage (some day we will get there with our major candidates. Bless you Kucinich, Sharpton, and Moseley-Braun) but that his stance on a Federal Marriage Amendment Depends Entirely On the Language???

John Kerry, in the words of Nancy Reagan, why didn't you "Just Say No?"

As this cycle's polished 'insider guy', I have a hard time believing that it was a slip of the tongue. This is a no brainer Kerry- no matter what the wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment is, we don't need it written into the Constitution.

You bravely stood up against DOMA. What gives now? This is not an issue that is going to just go away. If anything, if you are the nominee, you will have to face this even more so than anyone else since it is your home state and the National Convention is in Boston.

I'm not a one issue voter, but if anything gets close to it, GLBT issues hit closest to home for me.

And to think I was starting to respect you.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:45 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Back on Track

By Byron LaMasters

My second basketball game this season was a vast improvement from the first. We just beat the shit out of OU, and retired T.J. Ford's #11 while we were at it. Good times...

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A Primary Dean Might Win...

By Byron LaMasters

Is the Democrats Abroad Primary. Democrats Abroad send 22 delegates to the convention this summer. Today is the final day of caucuses around the world, and in early returns, Dean and Kerry are running closely.

In the Toyko caucus, Howard Dean won with 69 votes, with 51 for John Kerry and 29 uncommitted.

Howard Dean also won the Sweden caucus (no numbers on this one).

Interestingly, John Kerry won the Paris caucus by a landslide. Kerry received 310 votes to 87 for Dean and 59 for Clark.

As with many other primaries and caucuses, Democrats Abroad's caucus turnout is breaking records everywhere.

Update: From the Expats for Dean site are results from around the world.

John Kerry won the Amsterdam caucus and will have 5 delegates with 2 for Dean and 1 for Clark.

Howard Dean won with 48% of the vote in the Switzerland caucus (1.5 delegates for Dean, 1 for Kerry and .5 uncommitted).

John Kerry won the Ireland caucus with Dean and Edwards tied for second (1/2 delegate for Kerry, 1/4 delegate for Dean and Edwards).

John Kerry won a majority of the vote the delegate at the Hong Kong caucus.

John Kerry won the Mexico caucus and received two delegates with one for Edwards.

John Kerry won the Germany caucus by two votes over Dean and they will split Germany's two delegates.

Anyway, it looks like Kerry will probably win a majority among Democrats Abroad, but it's still early.

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27 Questions for Heterosexuals

By Byron LaMasters

Why are people straight? How do they know that they're straight? How could they possibly know? Well, here's 27 questions (PDF file) for all of you heterosexuals out there....

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February 08, 2004

The Family Primary

By Jim Dallas

I'm up here in Kingsport, Tennessee this weekend for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. Although most of my immediate family back in Galveston are Republicans, my momma's side of the family is overwhelmingly Democratic, and with the Tennessee primary coming up, there was a lot of discussion on that this weekend.

From talking to my family members, here's the informal results of the kitchen table primaries (by party, jurisdiction, and age-eligibility):

DEMOCRATS

(Tennessee)
Grandma - Clark (although she's said nice things about Kerry, too).
Grandpa - Clark

(North Carolina)
Uncle Keith - Edwards
Aunt Dana - Edwards

(North Carolina, not eligible)
Cousin - Edwards

(Colorado)
Momma - Uncommitted (Anybody But Bush)

(Texas)
Me - Dean (or Edwards)

REPUBLICANS

(Texas)
Little Sister - Bush

(Colorado, not eligible)
Little Brother - Bush

(I also ran into another distant relative at the anniversary party who said he was for Clark, but I still don't know exactly how I'm related to me).

Kerry seems to be pretty respected for his service in Vietnam up here, but we're not sure he shares our family values. We're worried about Edwards experience and Clark's partisanship (or lack thereof).

Kerry is running a lot of TV ads here in Northeast Tennessee (which is pretty solid GOP territory), and overall they are really very well produced. I also caught the tail end of an Edwards ad.

Clark and Edwards were both in town on Friday; however, I missed the chance to see there stump speeches due to the fact that I hit 8 hours of delays/cancellations flying into Kingsport.

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Bush/Frist 2004?

By Andrew Dobbs

US News and World Report's Washington Whispers has the following tidbit:

Vice President Dick Cheney's political problems have folks in Tennessee gabbing about rumors that their own Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, would be tagged to take the veep's job if the former Halliburton exec had to step aside. Both sides make the expected denials that anything's afloat.

With the Halliburton troubles, the energy policy coverup, the gay marriage issue (which Cheney has made statements 180 degrees from the GOP base on in the past) and the fact that without a wanna-be President in the #2 spot means a bloody inter-necine battle in 2008 I would not be surprised if Dick Cheney is not the running mate by this summer. "Heatlh problems" and "wanting to spend more time with (his) family" will add up to him stepping aside for someone who wants to be and could be president in 2008. But would it be Frist?

Frist's performance as Majority Leader has left much to be desired. The scandals concerning spying on Senate Democrats that have recently erupted and his *ahem* interesting history with cats might end up hurting his candidacy:

Frist is an animal lover who said his decision to become a doctor was clinched when he helped heal a friend's dog. But Frist now found himself forced to kill animals during medical research. And his new dilemma was finding enough animals to kill. Soon, he began lying to obtain more animals. He went to the animal shelters around Boston and promised he would care for the cats as pets. Then he killed them during experiments.

Other articles, such as one in the NYT that costs money to read now, said that the shelters stopped giving him cats so he started taking strays. Now, snorting coke, driving drunk, going AWOL for a year or so from the National Guard and breaking insider trading laws are all bad things but they don't have the kind of visceral reaction that stealing people's pet cats and cutting them up does. Its probably a silly issue, he was doing it for medical research blah blah blah, but silly issues are the only issues nowadays. So if not Cheney and not Frist, then who?

First, Bush will want to have a candidate that can take away a big Dem state in the general. Dem-leaning swing states with lots of electors like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or Illinois would be the way to go. Second, you want someone with a strong statewide organization in these states- senators or governors. Next, you want someone that could be President in 2008- someone conservative, attractive and ambitious. I think that he will probably look real hard at Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security (highlight that big ticket issue) and former Governor of Pennsylvania; and at Tommy Thompson the Secretary of Health and Human Services and 4-term former Governor of Wisconsin. But the best choice for Bush? Freshman Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. Coleman is the former Mayor of Minneapolis and former Democrat, a Jew (which could steal away an important Democratic constituency/fundraising base and put states like New York into play) and is from a big Democrat state that is in the tossup column of late. It'd be a big deal for Bush and it might be a brilliant move.

But there is one wrench in the machine with this plan. Let's say that Bush/Coleman were to go up against Kerry/Edwards (which appears to be the emerging Dem ticket). Kerry picks up New Hampshire (as he is that state's neighbor and the Dem voter file there is far better than the GOP's now) and North Carolina (with Edwards) but loses Minnesota. Bush picks up everywhere else. The result? A 269-269 tie in the Electoral College. The House would end up giving the election to Bush, as 29 states went for him and only 21 (and DC) for Kerry.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:11 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 07, 2004

AFSCME Withdrawing Support of Dean

By Byron LaMasters

CNN and FOX News reported. CNN cited the AP. I don't see any confirmation of it, other than this San Francisco Chronicle article where AFSCME officials comment that they are "considering withdrawing" thier support for Howard Dean

Meanwhile, here are the early Washington results with 49% reporting (Via CNN):

Kerry 3,287 48%
Dean 2,142 31%
Kucinich 525 8%
Edwards 423 6%
Clark 252 4%

If Howard Dean can't win in the state where he drew a crowd of over 10,000 back in August (see below) then where can he win?

Dean will likely receive less caucus votes today than there were people attending this rally in Seattle last summer.

Update: It's official. ABC Reports:


The head of a major union that gave an early boost to Howard Dean's presidential campaign told the former Vermont governor on Saturday that he would withdraw his union's support, dealing a major blow to the Democrat's faltering campaign, The Associated Press has learned.
Gerald McEntee, head of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, delivered the news to Dean in a meeting with two other unions whose support has been propping up the former governor's campaign, said two Democratic officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:22 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

Outrageous: Bush Opposes Money for Decontamination Research

By Byron LaMasters

George W. Bush says he's making our country safer. Then why the hell is he asking Congress to cut funds for decontamination research when the U.S. Senate has once again been targetted for attack this past week this time with ricin? CNN reports:

On the same day a poison-laced letter shuttered Senate offices, President Bush asked Congress to eliminate an $8.2 million research program on how to decontaminate buildings attacked by toxins.

Buried in documents justifying Bush's 2005 budget proposal released Monday is an Environmental Protection Agency acknowledgment that his proposed cut "represents complete elimination of homeland security building decontamination research."

The agency said in the documents that Bush's proposal will "force it to disband the technical and engineering expertise that will be needed to address known and emerging biological and chemical threats in the future."

[...]

But Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, whose office was the target of an anthrax-laced letter in October 2001 when he held Frist's job, said he was surprised by Bush's proposal to eliminate the research program.

"It is a stunning example of the budget choices this administration has made, where tax cuts for elites are more important than public health or adequate homeland security," Daschle said Thursday.


Right on, Daschle. George W. Bush cares more about tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans than he cares about the safety and homeland security of our nation. The GOP will try to bring up John Kerry's votes (if he is the nominee) where he voted to cut funds for various issues related to National Security. When they do, we need to fire back to let America know that George W. Bush is not taking the steps to make America safer. He cares more about his wealthy contributors and corporations who are getting reconstruction contracts in Iraq, than he does about the safety of the American people.

Update: Josh Marshall is on the story.

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February 05, 2004

Kerry/Bayh 2004?

By Andrew Dobbs

From Mickey Kaus of Slate, John Kerry will probably not pick John Edwards as his running mate because he is 1) vain and doesn't want his VP showing him up and 2) he's not mean enough. That's pretty presumptive and not that interesting but then he launches this one on us:

(Kausfiles) hears semi-reliably that Kerry's polling shows that Edwards on the ticket doesn't win any states for Kerry, even in the South--while Evan Bayh does win Indiana (which is hard to believe, Indiana being a pretty Republican state).

This is a pretty big story as it suggests that Evan Bayh is on Kerry's shortlist for running mates if he wins the nomination (as it appears increasingly likely he will do). This isn't necessarily a surprise, the moderate, attractive, well-spoken and highly credentialed Bayh has been talked up for some time, but the news that it would carry Indiana for the Dems is pretty exciting. Having a Catholic at the top of the ticket would have helped us there anyways and having a home town boy- former 1 term Secretary of State, 2 term governor, 1 term Senator and son of the longtime Senator and well-respected statesman Birch Bayh makes Indiana a solid Dem leaner at that point. This is an election year for Bayh so he'd have to be able to run for both Senate and VP at the same time, which may be against Indiana law, as he has to file to be on the ballot in less than 2 weeks. I'd be worried if it starts to look like Republican Mitch Daniels is going to win the governor's office there (which is increasingly unlikely) as a Bayh victory as VP would mean a lost seat in the Senate (along with a lost seat from MA when that state's GOP governor gets to replace Kerry). Still, that's putting the cart before the horse...

The big problem is of course that two Senators on the ticket might not be the best idea. Making it too Washingtonian will turn people off. On the other hand, having a former Governor with him would be great and would put Bayh on the fast track to the nomination sometime down the line, and the Gore states plus Indiana would be 271 electors- just 1 more than enough to win. So Bayh might end up being a good choice. Still, we would have no Southerner on the ticket and no ticket has won without a Southerner since Nixon/Agnew in 1972. I still like Phil Bredesen, Governor of Tennessee for the VP nod. Southern, non-Washington, moderate, attractive and he brings just as many electors as Bayh. Still, I haven't heard anyone but myself touting his strengths so I doubt it will happen. Perhaps I should write a letter to the Kerry people but I used to have to answer emails from crazy people demanding a Dean/Graham ticket all the time when I was in Vermont and I don't want to be "one of those people" to some sap working for Kerry in DC. Still, I'd like to hear people's thoughts on a Kerry/Bredesen or Kerry/Bayh tickets.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 08:51 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Thought of the Day

By Jim Dallas

"The Sources of Soviet Conduct," X [George Kennan], July 1947 (Relevant now as much as it ever was).

...no mystical, Messianic movement... can face frustration indefinitely without eventually adjusting itself in one way or another to the logic of that state of affairs.

Thus the decision will really fall in large measure in this country itself. The issue... is in essence a test of the overall worth of the United States as a nation among nations. To avoid destruction the United States need only measure up to its own best traditions and prove itself worthy of preservation as a great nation.

Surely, there was never a fairer test of national quality than this. In the light of these circumstances, the thoughtful observer... will find no cause for complaint in the... challenge to American society. He will rather experience a certain gratitude to a Providence which, by providing the American people with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

Endorsement Meetings Tonight

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be attending several endorsement meetings tonight. The UD (University Democrats) / CAD (Central Austin Democrats) / CCYD (Capitol City Young Democrats) / NXNW (North by Northwest Austin Democrats) endorsement meeting is at 6 PM and then I'll be heading off late to the ALGPC (Austin Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus) / Stonewall Democrats endorsement meeting at 7 PM. I'm a member of all of the clubs execpt NXNW. I've made up my mind in serveral of the races, and I'm undecided in some others. I planned on posting my recomendations earlier, but between hosting some friends for the Texas Young Democrats Executive Committee meeting over the weekend, school and work Monday, school and hosting a primary watching party last night and school and the meetings tonight, I just have about 10 minutes to post a few quick thoughts now.

These are my personal recommendations. I haven't consulted with Jim, Andrew or Karl-Thomas about these, yet.

FOR U.S. Congress (TX-25): Lloyd Doggett
Unfortunately redistricting has moved me out of the district in which Lloyd Doggett is running (East Austin to McAllen), but I strongly support him for reelection against Leticia Hinojosa. Doggett has been a great advocate for Austin, a strong supporter of UT and the University Democrats. He's a solid liberal who voted against the war. He represents Austin's values and should he not be reelected there's a good chance that Austin will no longer have a hometown representative. Furthermore, Doggett brings ten years of seniority to the table, whereas anyone else would have little clout as a freshman.

FOR Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 1: Celia Israel
This is a tough race for me, but Celia Isreal sought the support of the University Democrats early, and it paid off. She attended most of our fall meetings and presented to us her resume as a former aide to Ann Richards, as a board member of the Capitol Area Food Bank, as chair of Austin Woman's Political Caucus, and as a member of the Austin Environmental Board. She said that east and central Austin an advocate to bring in jobs and to protect our enviroment. When I asked a few more questions of her at a meeting, she invited me out for coffee, where she answered every question I had in detail to my satisfaction. The incumbent, Ron Davis has been a good vote on the Commissioners Court, but I think that Celia Israel will be a better advocate for Precinct 1.

FOR County Court At Law Judge #5: Nancy Hohengarten
I met Nancy last year when I was president of the University Democrats. She's a longtime Democrat and a longtime supporter of the University Democrats. She's also the best qualified candidate in the race, and has the endorsement of the Central Labour Council, the AFL-CIO and won 60% of the vote in the Travis County Bar Association poll (in a three-way race). She might have a tough time with the UD endorsement, but she has my vote.

Time to leave.... I'll post more later tonight...

Update: I'll post the endorsement results tomorrow, in addition to the rest of the candidates which I support. All six organizations that held endorsement meetings tonight endorsed Lloyd Doggett, five endorsed Celia Israel (CAD gave no endorsement. The first ballot was a 31-30-1 vote and the second was a 14-14 tie). All six organizations also endorsed Nancy Hohengarten for County Court at Law #5.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gay Marriage

By Byron LaMasters

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has issued an opinion to the MA State Senate stating that civil unions will not pass constitutional muster, and that the only option for the legislature is gay marriage. CNN reports:

The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples -- rather than civil unions -- would be constitutional, erasing any doubts that the nation's first same-sex marriages could take place in the state beginning in mid-May.

The court issued the opinion in response to a request from the state Senate about whether Vermont-style civil unions, which convey the state benefits of marriage -- but not the title -- would meet constitutional muster.

"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage wrote in the advisory opinion. A bill that would allow for civil unions, but falls short of marriage, makes for "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."

The much-anticipated opinion sets the stage for next Wednesday's constitutional convention, where the Legislature will consider an amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Without the opinion, Senate President Robert Travaglini had said the vote would be delayed.


Well, I'm happy, but worried. On one hand, gay marriage rights in Massachusetts will get people used to the idea of gay marriage and the rest of the country will eventually realize that, in fact, gay marriage does not effect the love and bond that a man and a women share in a traditional marriage. The real threat to traditional marriage is not the fact that gay and lesbian couples want the same equal rights and protections under the law, but rather the fact that there are millions of American families and children without health insurance, that there are millions of families and children in poverty and that the half of all traditional marriages end in divorce. Those are much bigger problems than gays and lesbians demanding equal rights.

On the other hand, I'm worried. I'm worried that this will add more fuel to the fire. I'm worried that this increases the likelihood of Republicans running a fear based campaign where they'll attack Democrats on social issues because if this election is about accountability in Iraq, or the economy and jobs, Democrats are well positioned to win. If this election is about fear among many Whites about affirmative action, fear among moderates and conservatives about gays and lesbians abducting their children, fear about the constant threat of terrorist attacks (when it was the Bush administration that didn't adequately prepare us for such attacks pre-9/11), then Republicans can win this election. With John Kerry as our likely nominee, you bet that they'll attack him as a Massachusetts liberal whose state is legalizing gay marriage. They'll introduce a U.S. Constitutional amendment, which is unlikely to receive a two-thirds majority vote in the U.S. Senate, but they'll force every Democrat to go on the record with they're vote and they'll attack every Democrat relentlessly who votes against an amendment. It'll be a tough election, but I'm ready to come out swinging for whoever our nominee is. The stakes are too high to stay home and sit around.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:50 PM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

John Kerry Uniting the Democratic Party

By Byron LaMasters

Yeah, he's not my first choice, and no, the blog community probably isn't united behind John Kerry, but ordinary Democratic voters across the country certainly are. And I'm not just talking about geography. Yeah, Kerry's now won in the midwest (IA, MO, ND), the northeast (NH), the east coast (DE), the southwest (AZ, NM) and he was competitive in the south (OK, SC). In two major swing states, John Kerry has united liberal and moderate Democrats, Black, White and Hispanic Democrats, young and old Democrats, male and female Democrats, union and non-union Democrats and pro-war and anti-war Democrats. Take a look at the exit polls of the two Red States that voted yesterday where Democrats need to seriously compete in order to beat George W. Bush - Arizona and Missouri. Via CNN.

Take a look at Arizona. Kerry won the votes of 44% of men and 41% of women. Young voters (18-29) went 34% for Kerry, 30-44 gave him 40%, 45-64 gave him 39% and 65+ gave him 48%. Kerry had 42% of Whites and 43% of Latinos. Kerry had 43% of Union households and 41% of non-Union households, 45% of liberals and 40% of moderates, 35% of those who approved of the Iraq war and 44% of those who opposed the war.

Moving on to Missouri, Kerry won 51% of men and 50% of women. Young voters (18-29) gave Kerry 49%, 45% among 30-44, 50% for 45-64 and 59% for 65+. Kerry won 50% of Whites and 53% of African-Americans, 52% of Union households and 50% of non-Union households, 51% of liberals and 53% of moderates, and 44% who approved of the war in Iraq and 54% who opposed it.

Kerry's not my first choice, but if exit polls are to be believed (and they were pretty accurate today), it's begining to look like John Kerry is the candidate that can unite the Democratic Party to beat Bush. On the other side, Dean, Clark and Edwards are begining to look more like niche candidates.

Update: There's a good discussion going on my cross-post on kos diaries. I'd encourage anyone interested in commenting on this story to check it out over there as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

Tonight's Final Results

By Byron LaMasters

Great night for Kerry. Yeah a sweep would have been nice for him, but having Clark win OK and Edwards win SC is better than if Edwards would have swept the two (although I was pulling for Edwards in OK). Now, both Kerry and Edwards will compete in Virginia and Tennessee, probably splitting the anti-Kerry vote, possibly giving Kerry a good shot at both. Up north, Kerry's looking good in Michigan, where the unions are likely to jump on board, and Gov. Granholm will put her people to work for Kerry, and he should have a spirited campaign against Dean in Washington and Maine (although I'd put my money on Kerry).

So here's the final returns from CNN (candidates receiving 5% or more are listed):


Arizona - 96% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Kerry 94,562 / 43% / 25
Clark 59,453 / 27% / 19
Dean 30,874 / 14% / 1
Edwards 15,449 / 7% / 0
Lieberman 14,474 / 7% / 0

Deleware - 100% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Kerry 16,729 / 50% / 14
Lieberman 3,683 / 11% / 0
Edwards 3,657 / 11% / 0
Dean 3,439 / 10% / 0
Clark 3,145 / 10% / 0
Sharpton 1,885 / 6% / 1

Missouri - 96% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Kerry 205,988 / 51% / 28
Edwards 103,671 / 25% / 18
Dean 34,568 / 9% / 0

New Mexico - 72% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Kerry 26,056 / 40% / 7
Clark 13,784 / 21% / 5
Dean 11,445 / 18% / 3
Edwards 7,214 / 11% / 0
Kucinich 3,481 / 5% / 0

North Dakota - 100% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Kerry 5,316 / 50% / 10
Clark 2,502 / 24% / 4
Dean 1,231 / 12% / 0
Edwards 1,025 / 10% / 0

Oklahoma - 100% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Clark 90,469 / 30% / 15
Edwards 89,194 / 30% / 13
Kerry 81,012 / 27% / 12
Lieberman 19,674 / 6% / 0

South Carolina - 100% reporting
Candidate / Votes / % / Delegates
Edwards 126,320 / 45% / 28
Kerry 84,872 / 30% / 17
Sharpton 26,946 / 10% / 0
Clark 20,189 / 7% / 0
Dean 13,055 / 5% / 0


Total Projected Delegates for today:

John Kerry: 113
John Edwards: 59
Wesley Clark: 43
Howard Dean: 4
Al Sharpton: 1

So who do I support now? Still undecided. I'd like to see Edwards and Kerry go at it for a few weeks before we coronate Kerry, but we'll see.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kerry, Edwards and Clark

By Andrew Dobbs

Alright, I know that some of my TB sufferers (True Believerism that is) will accuse me of being some demon borne of hell and a traitor to all that is good and just for suggesting that Dean is done but I'm going to back it up now.

By now we have had 2 Southern states (SC and OK), 3 Midwestern states (IA, ND and MO), 2 Northeastern states (NH and DE) and 2 Southwestern states (AZ and NM) weigh in. We've had 3 states with large African American populations (SC, MO and DE), 2 states with large Hispanic populations (NM and AZ), 4 states with mostly White populations (IA, NH, ND and OK), 4 Conservative states (SC, ND, OK and AZ), 3 Liberal (in terms of their Democrats) states (NH, IA and DE) and 2 Moderate states (NM and MO). We've had states that are largely agricultural (IA and ND), 2 states with particularly large urban areas (AZ and MO) and 3 states that went for Gore (IA, NM and DE) and 6 that went for Bush (AZ, NH, ND, OK, SC and MO). If you haven't won a state yet, you aren't going to win one probably.

That means that Gephardt (check), Lieberman (check), Braun (check) Dean, Kucinich and Sharpton should all be gone. Clark is hanging on by the skin of his teeth and Edwards is on the brink. We have had a very diverse group of states speak and they have spoken almost unanimously- Kerry (with a side of Edwards and a dallop of Clark). It's time for everyone else to leave so we can have a nominee as soon as possible so we can start raising money, crafting message, building organization and beating Bush.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:58 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Oklahoma Results Here

By Jim Dallas

As of this writing, only a few precincts counted, and the "30-30-30" tie story floated by kos seems very credible.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Edwards Blows Out Kerry in SC.

By Jim Dallas

Once again, the pollsters said it would be close.

Once again, they were wrong (too bad the pollsters aren't on the ballot, since the "mo" is totally against them right now).

CNN shows Edwards up 45-29 over Kerry with 30 percent of the ballots counted, and that margin seems to be sticking.

We'll find out in a couple hours if Edwards is going to be able to edge Kerry in Oklahoma (and outperform expectations in Missouri and Arizona).

Needless to say, I can barely contain my enthusiasm for Choice Number Two right now.

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

Sources Say Lieberman Will Quit Tomorrow

By Andrew Dobbs

According to the Associated Press, Joe Lieberman will end his campaign for President tomorrow if he doesn't win any states today- an almost certain conclusion.

Democrat Joe Lieberman, facing an uncertain showing in his must-win state of Delaware, was making contingency plans Tuesday to withdraw from the presidential race, according to sources close to the campaign.

The campaign was making calls to close supporters asking them to be at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, Va., Tuesday night at the postelection party. If Lieberman does not win at least one state -- and his best hope is Delaware -- he will make his concession speech there, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He then would head home to Connecticut for a formal announcement Wednesday in Hartford.

While campaign staff continued to insist that Lieberman was moving on to campaign in Virginia this week, others close to the senator confirmed they have been told about a tentative 3 p.m. event in Hartford on Wednesday.

He probably should have quit after his dismal 5th place showing in New Hampshire last week, but he decided to stick it out. With Kerry kicking butt in 5 states and Clark and Edwards neck and neck in the other two, Lieberman is unlikely to finish above 3rd anywhere and might very well walk away with 0 delegates. If Edwards wins SC and OK, I'd say that Clark is probably finished but he might stick it out for TN and VA. Either way, these 7 states will serve to whittle the field down even more, pushing us towards the climatic Kerry v. Edwards battle for the nomination.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

TiVo Users Like Janet's boob

By Byron LaMasters

This is hilarious:

Janet Jackson's nearly bare breast during the Super Bowl halftime show was the most replayed moment measured by TiVo Inc. in its short history.

The TiVo service, which allows users to pause and do instant replays of live television, found that Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" attracted almost twice as many viewers as the game highlights.

San Jose-based TiVo did not release specific numbers. It has measured Super Bowl viewing patterns since 2002. The data was gathered on a zip code basis from an anonymous sample of 20,000 TiVo households.


It's funny how the FCC flips out (DOC file), but people voting with their TiVo machines must have liked what they saw. As for the incident, I was more amused than anything else. I've always thought that Americans have a silly prudishness about decency guidelines, but then again I understand how someone watching the show with their young children might be reasonably offended.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Exit Polls

By Byron LaMasters

Via Political Wire:

South Carolina: Edwards 44, Kerry 30, Sharpton 10

Oklahoma: Edwards 31, Kerry 29, Clark 28

Missouri: Kerry 52, Edwards 23, Dean 10

Delaware: Kerry 47, Dean 14, Lieberman 11, Edwards 11

Arizona: Kerry 46, Clark 24, Dean 13


Good news for Kerry and Edwards. Bad news for Sharpton (fourth place in SC?), Clark (third in OK and way back in AZ), Dean (where to start...) and Lieberman (shoulda dropped out last week).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 02, 2004

Bush is in Trouble

By Andrew Dobbs

This is essentially a cross post from Yellow Dog Blog but the language will be a little more casual here. To wit- here I'll say that George W. Bush's ass is sucking wind right about now.

Quinnipiac University has new poll numbers out that show George Bush's approval ratings dipping below the magic 50% line for the first time in his presidency. Quinnipiac's poll of 1,219 respondents nationally has a 2.8% margin of error and showed a 48-45 approval, the lowest he's ever shown and a pretty dangerous number for someone seeking reelection. Furthermore, Bush loses to John Kerry in a head to head matchup by 8 points- 51-43%. He beats all other Dems but is within the margin of error against John Edwards and Wesley Clark. He is only 5 points ahead of Dean and Lieberman thus blowing up the whole "electability" argument. Finally, 2/3 of all respondents say they'll vote on economic issues and 88% of voters consider the deficit a "somewhat or very serious problem" while voters think a Democrat will do better than Bush on the economy 52-40.

Another poll, conducted by CNN/USA Today/Gallup shows Kerry with a 7 point lead over Bush and Edwards and Clark were well within the margin of error. Dean lost to Bush by 7 points. Bush does a little better in this poll- his approval is at 49%- but it was still the only time that poll has had him below 50% and that is down from 60% just a month ago. Finally, a majority of respondents disapprove of how Bush has handled the economy, foreign affairs, the situation in Iraq and health care.

Don't expect Bush to take these numbers lying down- he has barely even started campaigning yet. Also, state by state numbers will be even more important as we try and gauge how each of the candidates will do in the electoral college but still this is promising in that it shows a definite positive momentum for the Democrats and a negative one for Bush. Kerry is now the clear frontrunner with a 30 point advantage over all the other Democrats in each of the polls. If he wins the nomination (as is looking increasingly likely) and beats George W. Bush we'd have our first legitimately liberal president since John F. Kennedy or maybe Lyndon Johnson.

Time will only tell if this is just a pipe dream or a legitimate possibility.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:09 PM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Mini-Tuesday

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

One more day until seven more states take their turn. Thoughts anyone?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

In So Many Words

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The following from a NYT Editorial...how fitting.

However he fares in the coming primaries, Howard Dean has already touched more than a few young lives. Around the country — campus by campus, computer by computer — thousands of teenagers and 20-somethings have fallen hard for his campaign. They're lucky. It's a wonderful experience to lose one's political heart for the first time, as did the college students who sacrificed long hair and beards to be "clean for Gene" — Eugene McCarthy — in 1968, or the young men who stood bare-chested waving placards for Bill Bradley in the New Hampshire snow or followed the banner of Senator John McCain in 2000. The newly enchanted of 2004 bring a rush of young blood into the nation's old campaign arteries.

Unfortunately, the nearly inevitable conclusion of these first heady forays into presidential campaigning is political heartbreak. "Don't you lose some essence of life when you really can't give your heart?" asked Kate DeBolt, an 18-year-old Floridian who says she could "go to the ends of the earth" for Dr. Dean.

Her candidate is still very much in the race, and his campaign's pioneer work with the Internet is going to transform grass-roots politics. But ever since the Iowa returns, his more innocent followers have been grappling with the shock of discovering that it is possible to be pure of heart, fired with dedication, and still lose overwhelmingly. Many of the young people who heeded Senator McCarthy's antiwar message in 1968 spiraled away from politics forever when Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination. The young Deaniacs could easily add to the near majority of eligible voters in America who find politics a waste of effort. One of the most important missions of the Democratic nominee this year is to help keep young people interested when the campaign boils down to the deeply pragmatic politics of the summer and fall.

Already, after losing in Iowa and New Hampshire, some of the Deaniacs are beginning to adjust, slightly. Chris Zychowski says whatever happens, this campaign has "changed the course of my life." Mr. Zychowski, a software expert from San Francisco, says he's going to law school, a better route to fighting for the issues. As for politics, "I'll vote for anyone but Bush, but I'll only devote my life like this to Howard Dean."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 01, 2004

Momentum is a Harsh Mistress

By Jim Dallas

I've been keeping track of what Karl Thomas has been saying, and I have to share his frustration (as well as hope - even if perhaps it is an unrealistic one - that, no matter how bad things look right now, that us Deanies can turn this thing around and win).

This sort of reminds me of a "moment" I had when the Iowa caucus results started coming. I had bought a little portable TV to watch things unfold.

From the start the results were depressing. I started to cry (don't worry, I cry a lot; you should have seen me balling when I went to go see Finding Nemo at the movie theater). Other folks frustratedly told me to "turn off the TV." We could see where this was headed, and we just wanted it to stop.

That was the moment when an older gentleman reached over the seat and cautioned me that this campaign was only a "vehicle". Which, after all, is what we've been saying for months now, hasn't it?

So anyhow. Some parting thoughts for Karl-T. We're right. They're wrong. We might win. We might not. But let's never, ever, ever give up.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

On a Lighter Note

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In order to provide some cheer here (for my own sake and for you, the reader), I give you the latest "Anybody Buts."

Just think if it was Clark. We'd have the Alphabet.
ABC

Just think if it was Edwards. We'd have Lincoln.
ABE

Just think if it was Shaprton. We'd have muscles.
ABS

Thanks you and Good Night!

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Great Disappointment

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have one more day here in Arizona, after missing yet more school and spending more money for a cause that for me, has grown beyond its original purpose. What has happened to me (and I know I'm not alone) in the last month, even the last year has opened up my eyes to much more than a political campaign. It has opened up my eyes to what is so very wrong in our country and the Democratic Party and more importantly what we have come to accept as politics as usual.

My god, how stupid have we as Americans become? How easily have we let ourselves become beholden more than ever to the latest wind change or news cycle? How come when disappointing results come in that we didn't expect it's time to retreat to the safe old ways of doing things?

I find it really sad that two people that I had come to respect so much in coming to UT for their work, their insight, and their commitment to a party that can do better, have given up hope under the guise of 'political reality'.

To that I say, like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2000, I dissent.

You know what? In the end you may be right. But I must say this before I become the last remaining Dean supporter on this Blog at the rate things are going.

According to Political Reality, Howard Dean should never have happened. Political Reality said that Dean shouldn't ever have been able to raise, and continue to raise the money he has. Political Reality says that you can't get thousands of volunteers to commit to travel across the country to help a candidate. Political Reality says that you cannot by any means let any control of your campaign be given to the grassroots. Political Reality shuns letting people self-organize, hell, even become involved if they aren't willing to do everything exactly like you tell them to. Political Reality can't change.

Well, guess what, this campaign didn't get to the end of 2003 by playing by the rules of Political Reality. Maybe this thing becomes a delegate race; maybe it isn't over after 2 states and less than 10% of the delegates being decided. Maybe it won't be pre-determined by a front loaded schedule. Maybe it will continue to find a way to waltz around Political Reality.

You know, I could end up being totally wrong about all of this, I admit that. But it will only be because once and for all, the system of caution and bowing to the 'way things should work, because it's the only way they have in the past' wins.

That day will be a sad day. Not for the Democratic Party, but for Democracy. Politics as usual will be the only winner at the end of the day. And why? Because people stopped believing.

P.S. Will someone please tell me which states "Mr. Electibility Kerry" is going to win for the Democratic Party in November that Dean isn't? i.e. Arizona- Deans makes it in play. Kerry? Hardly. That's the impression that Arizonans here have that I have canvassed and talked to, (excluding the obviously biased Deanster's opinions). Thus, can Kerry even put up as much of a fight as Dean can?

(all Massachusetts Liberal tags aside)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:07 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


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