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March 31, 2004

Cuellar Extends Lead to 201 Votes

By Byron LaMasters

After concluding recounts in Hays and Bexar Counties today, Henry Cuellar picked up a few more votes. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Laredo lawyer Henry Cuellar has picked up one vote in this afternoon's Hays County recount after gaining another three votes this morning during a Bexar County tally in the bitter congressional District 28 race.

The gains have boosted his lead over incumbent U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez to 201 votes.

The Bexar County recount, which took about three hours, involved only the mail-in and provisional ballots, not the touchscreen voting results, which comprise the vast majority of votes cast, elections officials said.

There are two small counties left to conclude their recounts, and it's likely barring any irregularities that Cuellar's lead will hold up. Rodriguez is now moving forward with plans to file a lawsuit to officially contest the election results.

Two final counties, Comal and Guadalupe, will have recounts Thursday in the 11-county procedure.

Earlier in the day, a visibly angry Rodriguez reiterated his concerns over Tuesday's recounts in Zapata and Webb counties, which shattered his original post-primary lead of 145 votes.

"Something is happening and it's not correct and it's not appropriate," Rodriguez said at a morning news conference.

Rodriguez, a four-term incumbent from San Antonio, is planning to file a lawsuit Friday to contest the recount results, which his attorney "totally inexplicable and fraudulent."

I'm not sure when the election results need to be certified by, but right now it looks pretty good for Henry Cuellar.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:57 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Dallas County Democratic Leaders Endorse Lupe Valdez in Sheriff Run-off

By Byron LaMasters

I don't have a horse in this race, but it looks as if much of the Democratic establishment in Dallas is lining up behind Lupe Valdez in the run-off for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Sheriff. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Several prominent Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, have endorsed Lupe Valdez's candidacy for Dallas County sheriff, campaign officials said Tuesday.

Ms. Valdez faces Jim Foster in an April 13 runoff. Ms. Valdez and Mr. Foster led a field of four candidates in this month's Democratic primary, but neither won a majority.

State Sen. Royce West, state Rep. Yvonne Davis and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price also are supporting Ms. Valdez, campaign officials said. The campaign scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. today at the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building to introduce its new supporters.


Mr. Foster, a former Dallas County deputy constable, outpolled Ms. Valdez in many precincts in southern Dallas that have a majority of black voters, election results show.

Ms. Valdez won many of the precincts in North Dallas, the northern suburbs, East Dallas and north Oak Cliff. Those precincts are majority white or Hispanic.

Ms. Valdez said she did not do as well in black neighborhoods because "Mr. Foster spent a lot of time advertising and calling to that area, while financially I could not afford it."

Mr. Price said he would campaign with Ms. Valdez and predicted that she would win.

Mr. Foster "spent all his time and effort in southern Dallas," Mr. Price said. "She did not have the wherewithal to get her message out. We know we can help her."

I'm betting on Valdez to win this one. Both Valdez and Foster would be decent candidates, but Valdez looks to be the most experienced candidate with 28 years in law enforcement, including stints as a special agent at the Customs Service and with the Department of Homeland Security. Foster benefited in the primary, because of his extensive campaigning in the south Dallas precincts where turnout was high due to an major GOTV opperation by County Commissioner John Wiley Price (who easily fended off two challengers). In fact, one study suggested that African Americans made up 49% of the Dallas County Democratic Primary vote:

Black voters helped boost Jim Foster into a Democratic runoff for sheriff.

But his opponent, Lupe Valdez, was first with white and Hispanic voters.

So who has the edge for the April 13 runoff?

Dr. Dan Weiser, a political consultant and mathematician, says Ms. Valdez could be in the best position.

That's because black voters who supported Mr. Foster might not return to the polls next month, particularly because many of them were drawn to the March 9 primary by the caustic race for Dallas County Commissioners Court between incumbent John Wiley Price and Judge Charles Rose .

"Foster has a good campaign, but I don't think he can bring people out who don't want to come out," Mr. Weiser said.


A study prepared by Mr. Weiser shows that in the Democratic primary, blacks constituted 49 percent of the overall vote. Anglos were second with 42 percent, and Hispanics had 9 percent.

Mr. Foster, who is Anglo, got 42 percent of the black vote, followed by the 36 percent received by Sam Allen, who is black. Ms. Valdez received 15 percent of the black vote.

But Ms. Valdez fared better among Anglos, carrying 47 percent of their vote. Mr. Foster got 19 percent.

And Ms. Valdez got the biggest share of the Hispanic vote as well, with 46 percent. Eighteen percent of Hispanic voters went for Mr. Foster.

Overall, the race was a near dead heat, with Ms. Valdez getting 31 percent of the vote and Mr. Foster getting 30 percent.

"Because she finished first with Anglos and Hispanics," Mr. Weiser said, "it gives her an advantage."

Now with Valdez's endorsement of several prominent African-American elected officials, she looks to be in a perfect position. Anyway, if I were registered in Dallas County, she'd probably have my vote, but regardless, I would encourage Dallas Democrats to learn about both candidates and vote in the run-off on April 13th. Either of our candidates will be better than the current sheriff (Jim Bowles) who was indicted for misusing campaign funds.

Lupe Valdez Website.

Jim Foster Website.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:27 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Man charged with offering beer for vote

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Off the Beaten Path News is reporting what is a sad personification of politics and education today. I call it the Buy a kid beer for a vote against raising his property taxes for the kid's education plan.

A man tried to buy a vote with a 12-pack of beer, according to police in northern Kentucky. Edward Lucas offered the beer to an 18-year-old student at Ludlow High School in exchange for a no vote on a proposed increase in school property taxes, Ludlow police officer James Tucker said in an affidavit.

Lucas was charged Friday with making or receiving expenditures for vote, a class D felony that can land him in prison for one to five years. Lucas, 40, denied the charge.

"I don't know the boy, and that's not exactly what was said," Lucas said.

"I said, 'I hope it doesn't go through and if it doesn't, I'm going to have a big beer party.'"

Lucas was arrested Friday and released on bond Saturday. Police dispute his version of the exchange, but declined to give specifics. The tax increase was on the ballot Tuesday and lost. It would have generated about $75,000 a year for school construction projects.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is the WH Trying to Out Richard Clarke?

By Andrew Dobbs

You may have noticed that in the last two days all of the coverage of Dick Clarke has included vague references to his "personal life." Wolf Blitzer, according to Atrios, said that "there are some weird aspects in his life as well," I saw Joe Scarborough make a reference to how Clarke "has no personal life"- a claim that seems both impossible for him to know and completely irrelevant to any discussion of his claims, and others are making some curious references to his "personal life" as well. Clarke is in his 50s and has never been married. The implication, it seems, is that Richard Clarke is gay.

Clarke may very well be gay- I have no idea, the WH seems to think so and they'd be the ones to know. Wonkette says that there are some questions being raised among media types by the White House of a more explicit nature. Of course, this has absolutely no bearing on whether or not he's telling the truth or whether or not this president ignored the threat of al Qaeda, but you can believe that the WH will use it to distract the media from these important issues and you can believe that they will eat it up.

Bush should know that those in glass houses ought not throw stones- there are plenty of gay Republicans in positions of authority and they don't want to start this little game. If being a homosexual makes you unqualified to serve in government, we'll see if a few GOP congressmen/cabinet officials/governors want to resign after we even the score a little. I know that might be a sleazy thing to do, but if Bush wants to play character assasination, we can play right back with him. Say what you will about Clarke- believe him or not- but let's keep this on the issues.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Facts on Kerry's Tax Plan

By Byron LaMasters

The Media Fund has a good new ad that clearly lays out the differences between George W. Bush and John Kerry on taxes. It's what the Kerry campaign should have been doing a week ago, and its much more effective than the current Kerry ad.

Of course, the Bush campaign is accusing the Kerry campaign of illegally colaborating with MoveOn.org and The Media Fund. The Guardian reports:

President Bush's campaign and the GOP on Wednesday accused the campaign of Democrat John Kerry of illegally coordinating political ads and get-out-the-vote activities with anti-Bush groups and donors including billionaire George Soros.

The Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee said they would file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Kerry and pro-Kerry groups of violating a campaign law that broadly bans the use of ``soft money'' - corporate, union and unlimited individual donations - to influence federal elections.

In a highly unusual move, the Bush campaign and RNC plan to ask the FEC to dismiss the complaint immediately so they can file a federal lawsuit to block the activities and force the groups to pay for presidential ads and get-out-the-vote drives with limited donations from individuals rather than soft money. Usually complainants pursue FEC action before going to court, but it can take months or even years for the commission to resolve complaints.


The GOP cited at least three factors it says prove coordination: links between people involved in some of the soft money groups and the Kerry campaign during the same election cycle; the timing of media buys in the same states and media markets; and TV stations receiving a Media Fund ad on Kerry's economic plan before Kerry publicly released the economic plan.

``I'd call it slanderous nonsense - the typical Republican politics of intimidation,'' said Media Fund spokesman Jim Jordan, a former Kerry campaign manager who is among those named in the complaint. He said the Media Fund ad on Kerry's economic positions mentioned only what Kerry has been saying publicly for months.

Wes Boyd, president of MoveOn, said in a statement: ``We do not coordinate with the Kerry campaign. These charges are baseless and irresponsible.''

The 527s are following the rules. Neither the MoveOn.org or The Media Fund ads are advocating the election or the defeat of any candidate, nor are they coordinating with the John Kerry campaign. At least, that's my understanding of the current law.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Recounts Give Cuellar Lead over Rodriguez

By Byron LaMasters

Holy Shit!

In a dramatic turnaround certain to add to the lore of South Texas politics, Laredo lawyer Henry Cuellar first took a 197-vote lead over U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez after recounts in Webb and Zapata counties Tuesday.

Then, just a few hours later, state Democratic Party officials said the final recount tally in Webb County showed 115 more votes than there were ballots cast. A re-recount won't be done until Sunday, officials said.

Meanwhile, Bexar and Hays will have their recounts today, and Comal and Guadalupe will conduct theirs Thursday.

The drama began Tuesday, when recount results in Zapata for Congressional District 28 showed 237 new votes for Cuellar, which came from a controversial batch of 304 ballots previously uncounted.

He then gained 177 votes in his home county of Webb.

Rodriguez, a San Antonio native, picked up only 67 votes in Zapata and none in Webb.

His 145-vote lead from election day had grown to 150 Monday, according to partial results in the 11-county district.

Rodriguez's camp is already planning a lawsuit.

"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I've never seen 300 or so ballots appear suddenly," said Rodriguez attorney Buck Wood, a former elections director for the Texas secretary of state's office.

"To tell you that I'm suspicious and baffled is an understatement."

Something looks fishy to me. There were 115 more votes than ballots cast in Webb County. 300 ballots appeared out of nowhere in Zapata County. I'm not typically a conspiracy theorist, but I do find it odd that the two strongest counties for Henry Cuellar have significant irregularities (not to mention that Zapata County didn't report their returns until the day after the election). So is their fraud going on in south Texas?

The San Antonio Express-News goes on:

"There will be a shadow over the election almost no matter which one comes ahead now," said Jerry Polinard, a political scientist at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.

It was unclear late Tuesday what the problem was in Webb, but in Zapata, a tabulation error apparently missed 304 early votes, said Zapata Democratic Party Chairman Teo Garza.

Contrary to rumors that new ballots were discovered, Garza stressed that the 304 votes had been counted, but weren't properly recorded.

"There's no funny business going on," said Garza, who's running his first election as party chairman.

Nevertheless, alarms went off in the Rodriguez camp and around South Texas, which has a marbled history of corruption including the infamous Box 13 that catapulted Lyndon B. Johnson to a slim victory in the 1948 U.S. Senate race.

"There's no doubt that there's some fraud going on, some illegal activities," said Rodriguez, a four-term congressman from San Antonio.

I still have my fingers crossed that Rodriguez will pull this out, but regardless of who wins, there will certainly be a cloud of uncertainty over the result.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

FOX News Bias in DeLay Reporting

By Byron LaMasters

Vince Leibowitz nails them over at the Yellow Dog Blog. Here's how FOX News characterized the investigation of Tom DeLay's activities by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle:

Austin District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a fierce partisan Democrat with political ambitions, is currently investigating two PACs; one was DeLay's brainchild and he continues to sit on the advisory board.

If FOX News would have done their research, as Vince did, they would have learned that Ronnie Earle has investigated more Democrats than Republicans as D.A., that Ronnie Earle is the "Travis County D.A.", not the "Austin D.A.". Finally, Ronnie Earle has been the Travis County District Attorney since 1976. It's hard to understand how someone who has been District Attorney for nearly 30 years could be considered someone with larger political ambitions. It seems to me as if Ronnie Earle is happy with the job that he has (if you can think of a better reason why he's had the same job for 28 years, let me know, but its hard to spin it in any way as political ambition).

Update: In the latest DeLay news today, the Houston Chronicle writes that reports that he expects to be indicted are incorrect:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Tuesday downplayed reports that he is preparing, politically and financially, for an indictment in Texas on charges that he broke state campaign finance laws.

"If the law is the standard in the state of Texas, then we have no problems and we don't anticipate a problem," DeLay, R-Sugar Land, said emphatically during a news conference in Washington.

"I have not been notified that I am being investigated; I have not been subpoenaed," he said.

Targets of grand jury investigations aren't always notified, however.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

David Van Os Kicks Off Campaign

By Byron LaMasters

Last night, David Van Os officially kicked off his campaign for Texas Supreme Court. Van Os is one of our few statewide candidates this year, so I'm looking forward to helping his campaign, as it's one of the few races at the top of the ticket. His campaign website reports on the event:

Tonight, David Van Os formally kicked off his campaign to put a Democrat on the Texas Supreme Court. As is typical with events involving David Van Os, the CWA Union Hall in San Antonio was packed with people from every walk of life, Democrats of every size, shape, color, religion, political experience, career field, family background, education level, financial status - in other words, a diverse cross section of Texas.

After a warm welcome by the union president and a rousing introduction by State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, herself a genuine hero of the Democratic Party and a leader of the fight against Tom DeLay's power-grab, and a cordial letter from State Chair Charles Soechting, the podium was turned over to the next Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, David Van Os.

David, who is rapidly becoming known across the state for his mesmerizing oratory, delivered a blistering attack on the "gang of Right-wing Pinstriped Thugs who are trying to take over every branch of government and defeat our treasured system of checks and balances." He described how our Supreme Court, the last refuge for the rights of the people to be upheld, has instead, been turned into a private club for former (and present) Corporate lawyers, who overwhelmingly and consistently take the side of large insurance companies and big corporations against consumers, individuals and small businesses. He noted that they don't even bother to sign their outrageous opinions, some of which overturn even constitutional protections which have stood for over a century.

This is a race that every Democrat should be intensely interested in, generously contributing to, and actively campaigning for. When David is elected and takes his seat on the Court, the people will start to regain their voice in this most important venue. He might still be outnumbered for a while when it comes time to vote, but the people will start to have a voice in the proceedings, a dissenting opinion to bring to light the legal fallacies of their one-sided decisions, and the secret, backroom dealings will not be so secret any more.

You can donate to the Van Os campaign, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Temporary Changes

By Byron LaMasters

It's taken me longer than usual to load BOR the past few days, so I've made some temporary changes on the right-hand sidebar deleted some images (the Marriage Equality and Beat Bush images) and the general blogroll from blogrolling.com. Hopefully that will speed things up to a reasonable speed for now.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Listen to The O'Franken Factor Now!

By Byron LaMasters

Al Franken is live on Air America Radio. You can't get it on the radio in Texas, yet, but check out the live stream on the Internet.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 30, 2004

NRCC Fundraiser Falsely Labels Two Countries as Harboring Terrorists

By Byron LaMasters

Here's another example of Republicans exploiting Americans fear of terrorism for the sake of winning elections (or in this case, raising money). A National Republican Congressional Committee fundraiser labeled the Phillippines and Thailand as nations that "harbor and aid terrorists". However, neither nation is on the State Department list of nations that sponsor terror, and in fact, the state department praised both nations in 2002 for working to combat the global war on terror. Still, even when given this information, the NRCC spokesman refused to apology. This is outrageous. The Republican Party is attempting to solicit donations by scaring their donors into falsely believing that countries that the State Department has praised for their contribution to fighting terrorism are actually counties that "harbor and aid terrorists". The AP reports:

A voter survey tied to a Republican effort to raise money for House candidates mislabels Thailand and the Philippines as countries that "harbor and aid terrorists," say officials from both governments.

A question on the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Ask America 2004 Nationwide Policy Survey" asks: "Should America broaden the war on terrorism into other countries that harbor and aid terrorists such as Thailand, Syria, Somalia, the Philippines, etc.?"


Officials from both nations say the question came as a surprise since the Bush administration has praised their countries for their roles in the anti-terror war.

"It doesn't accurately describe the view of the Bush administration," Patricia Paez, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Embassy, said Friday. Her office sent a letter to the GOP campaign committee complaining about the question.

Paez noted that the Philippines sent troops to Iraq to assist in peacekeeping efforts. "We have, in fact, contributed a lot to the war on terror," she said.

Chirachai Punkrasin, deputy chief of mission at the Royal Thai Embassy, called the question misleading. "I don't think we are knowingly harboring known terrorists," he said.

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti said the question was based on information from the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank based in New York. "I think the question probably could have been vetted better," he said.

The council's Sharon Otterman did not agree with the question's wording. She said the group's Web site identifies the Philippines as a "haven" for terrorism, "but it doesn't mean the state is helping the terrorist groups."

The council did not identify Thailand as either a state sponsor or a haven for terrorism.

He THINKS the question probably could have been vetted better? Ya think?!?! Is that the latest way Republicans explain outright lies? The article continues:

Neither the Philippines nor Thailand is on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations, and both have faced problems with Muslim extremist groups.

In fact, a 2002 State Department report lauded both countries for working closely with other nations in the global war on terror and for strengthening counterterrorist measures.


Meanwhile, Paez noted that President Bush, during a trip to the Philippines last year, praised President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's anti-terror efforts. Her country has faced problems with the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf.

It's hard to believe that this was just an honest mistake. You would think that a major GOP fundraising letter would be overlooked by someone who knows their facts, but then again, who knows. Was this simply an accident, or is the National Republican Congressional Committee using scare tactics on its own backers to make them believe that terrorism is more widespread than it acctually is, and pushing them into making a (larger) contribution?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Howard Stern Voting Block

By Byron LaMasters

We hear so much about the "soccer moms" and the "Office Park" or "NASCAR" dads. What about the 8.5 million fans of Howard Stern? Perhaps the "indecent" and "pervert" vote? Hmm... or something like that?

Well, Howard Stern - a previous supporter of Republicans George Pataki and Christie Whitman is now furious with President Bush over the new FCC regulations, and he has an audience of 8.5 million of mostly swing voters or non-voters that listen to him. Might this have an impact in November? It's up in the air, but the Dallas Morning News reports on that possibility:

No longer content with simply rocking the boat, Howard Stern is aiming to rock the vote.

"You've got to vote Bush out to send a message as a Howard Stern fan," he tells his listeners.

Here's what you had to say about Howard Stern's anti-Bush campaign
Republicans have dismissed Mr. Stern's recent political tirades, deeming his Bush bashing as inconsequential as the flatulence jokes that precede it. But media experts caution against underestimating the self-proclaimed "King of All Media."

Talk radio heavyweights Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are preaching to the converted, they said. Mr. Stern has 8.5 million potential swing voters tuned in, and his loyal listeners have shown a willingness to do stunts far more outlandish than going to the polls at the shock jock's urging.


Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, said the New York radio host is as clever as he is crass. And, he said, if Mr. Stern keeps up his anti-Bush drumbeat, he could have a greater impact on the presidential election than independent candidate Ralph Nader.

"The average talk show listener is extremely suggestible – they will do a lot for their radio afternoon or drive-time buddy," Mr. Felling said.

Mr. Stern is counting on his fans to feel insulted by what he says is a GOP-led effort to muzzle him.

So far, listeners have responded with a flood of supportive phone calls, online petitions and Web sites trying to "Save Howard." In Dallas, where the show is broadcast from 6 to 11 a.m. on KLLI-FM (105.3), Stern fans have been calling in at a clip of a couple hundred per day.

Once a vocal backer of Mr. Bush's decision to go to war, Mr. Stern shifted gears several weeks ago and took aim at the leader he now calls a "Jesus freak."

Then, when Clear Channel Communications announced that it was dropping The Howard Stern Show from six of its stations and Congress began considering increasing fines for indecency, Mr. Stern launched a full-on assault on those who would rein in his raunch.

Day after day, hour after hour, he rails against Republicans and what he perceives as their attempt to make radio broadcasts bland.

"It's going to be one sickeningly sweet America," Mr. Stern said last week. "All of the shows will be filled with people who got kicked off Survivor."

Now, in the midst of broadcasting bodily functions and exhorting his guests to remove their underwear, Mr. Stern will segue from strippers to the one thing that offends him: President Bush's policies.

"He's his own jihad," Mr. Stern said. "He's as bad as these maniacs in Palestine."

The outburst ends as quickly as it began, and Mr. Stern returns his listeners to their regularly scheduled programming – in this case, a contest to determine who can pass gas the longest.

By adding just a sprinkle of partisan politics to his usual titillating fare, Mr. Stern keeps his listeners coming back – and gives them something to think about, Mr. Felling said.

"If he tosses in less than an hour of political talk, it will be that teaspoon of medicine along with all that sugar going down," he said. "The strippers will always be there. That's the beautiful thing about Howard Stern. He will not beat this horse to death."

This is not Mr. Stern's first foray into politics. He backed the gubernatorial bids of Republicans George Pataki and Christie Whitman (she thanked him by naming a rest stop for him).

But Mr. Stern, who is heard on 35 stations nationwide, has never brought this level of commitment to a cause. His Web site (www.howardstern.com) includes reams of information explaining how to register to vote, contact a congressman or write the Federal Communications Commission.

So what, you might say. Will Howard Stern's listeners actually vote? And if they do, would they vote for John Kerry? How is Howard Stern's political message any different from the conservative political shows that dominate the airwaves? Michael Harrison makes an important point:

The fact that Mr. Stern's fans aren't seeking political rhetoric could be the very reason they listen to his anti-Republican riffs, said Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of the industry magazine Talkers.

"When every day you're doing politics, and you have an agenda, people expect it," he said. "It doesn't have as much influence as a trusted person who is so moved to speak out that he breaks his own format."

Mr. Stern offers only faint praise for Democrat John Kerry but says that the Massachusetts senator must be better than the status quo. "My audience is the swing vote," he told his listeners Friday.

Mr. Harrison said the pointed criticism is bound to raise doubts about the commander-in-chief among some listeners.

"Stern's change of position on George W. Bush is one of the most significant political developments in talk radio," Mr. Harrison said.

It will be interesting to see if John Kerry does anything to court Howard Stern voters. I seriously doubt that he would overtly court them, as there would surely be a backlash, but some sort of courting of Stern's listeners covertly or through surrogates could prove effective. Any thoughts? Or can anyone think of what the Howard Stern swing voter should be called?

And for those of you who believe that the FCC is getting carried away with broadcast regulations and fines for "indecency", check out Stop FCC.com for more information.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

150 Protest Baylor Policies in Waco

By Byron LaMasters

It'll take awhile for Baylor to come around. After all, only in 1996 was the ban on dancing on campus lifted. Still, it's good to see progress:

Some of Baylor University's own called for their school to change its ways Saturday, challenging the Baptist campus to end what they say is discrimination against homosexuals.

About 150 protesters comprised of current and former Baylor students held signs, waved rainbow flags and sported school colors at Heritage Square in downtown Waco, not far from the 14,000-student campus.

"Welcome to the 21st century, Baylor," said Tim Salladay, a Dallas businessman and 1978 Baylor graduate. "The time has come."

Attendees were galvanized by the story of Matt Bass, a Baylor seminary student whose scholarship was revoked last year after he revealed to friends he is a homosexual. The issue also arose last month when the administration condemned an editorial in the student newspaper that supported gay marriage.

During the rally, many poked fun at Baylor for being reluctant to change old habits. More than one compared the issue to civil rights and interracial marriage. Salladay cited Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.'s lifting of a ban on campus dancing in 1996.

Dancing was once considered an anathema to conservative Baptists.

"We say to Dr. Sloan, no more dancing around the issue of equality," Salladay said.


For their part, Baylor's administrators didn't comment on the rally, releasing only a statement from the school's university student policies and procedures.

"Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm," according to the statement. "Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching."

During Saturday's rally, Bass, 25, rejected the notion that Christians are all of one mind on the issue. He accused Baylor of becoming a religiously dogmatic university that rejects academic freedom and discourse. Instead, the school scares students into submission, he said.

"You equip us with the tools to think for ourselves responsibly, then you punish us for using those tools," he said.

"I only hope you'll change your ways before you kill both the university and the university student," Bass added.

Good job. It can't be easy to speak out at a place like Baylor, but the folks who do have a lot of courage. It doesn't take much courage to be openly gay, or speak at a Pride Rally, or organize a Marriage Equality Rally, or wear an HRC sticker at an event, or write that you're gay on your blog when you live here in Austin (or even back in Dallas for that matter). Sure, there are people that will have a problem with it, but I never worried about getting kicked out of school or being a victim of violence because of it. For these activists at Baylor, however, that's not the case. I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for their efforts, and if there is anything that I can do to help them, I'd be delighted to do so.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Apologies for Yesterday

By Byron LaMasters

I just wanted to briefly apologize for the problems accessing BOR yesterday. Our service provider, Dreamhost had a "major distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) aimed at one of [their] main routers". Personally, I had difficulty accessing BOR most of the day yesterday (along with Off the Kuff and Yellow Dog Blog which are also hosted by Dreamhost). Anyway, this is the first time that there's been a problem with Dreamhost for more than an hour or two, and they've assured us that they are doing everything in their power to prevent such problems from occuring in the future. So cross your fingers, and lets hope everything will run smoothly for awhile.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Honor the Texas Flag (or not)

By Jim Dallas

As you may know, the last legislature passed a law mandating public school students say a pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag every morning.

Back at Ball High, where I've been subbing a lot, all the requisite posters and flags are up (although most teachers seem to be putting up tiny 4 inch-by-6 inch flags, since there's not enough money to get really good state flags). But there doesn't seem much enthusiasm for the pledge.

This morning, for example, I was able to encourage about half of my class to say the Pledge of Allegiance for the US flag, but just about everyone just plain ignored the Pledge to the Texas Flag.

On one level, I'd bemoan the lack of civic pride. But I'm also inclined to get snarky about having a state flag pledge. Maybe the appropriate response really is "who cares?"

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:12 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Microtargetting Voters -- Good idea, fad, or both?

By Jim Dallas

Newsweek last week ran a story about the increased use of market research to target individual voters, with the prerequisite "Karl Rove is god" ("Wizard of Oz" might be more appropriate appelation for Mr. Rove).

True, the Republicans still have a huge lead on us when it comes to micro-targetting voters, but we're catching up with Demzilla (we hope).

Additionally, I tend to suspect that the law of diminishing returns applies here; just because the Republicans know which color underwear you're wearing right now doesn't mean that information is going to win them your vote; and if they're going to spend money on that, then let them (because at some point, a marginal increase in information on a voter is just going to be a wasted investment).

All this talk all boils down to making an educated guess about your neighbors values so that you can most effectively persuade them. For the El Cheapo candidate (e.g. a justice of the peace candidate in Podunk), a totally free service like Claritas's ZIP Code search -- or census records, tax assessments, and voting histories -- ought to get them half way there. While computers and market segmentation databases are going to be very helpful, they're simply an extension of what campaigns ought to be doing -- effectively -- anyway.

(I suppose it's worth noting that the free stuff I suggested only allows an assessment of your audience in the aggregate; it can tell you about a neighborhood, but not about one particular neighbor. That's true, of course, and that's why all this new stuff can't be ignored. But nor will it improve a campaign's effectiveness by orders of magnitude, in my humble opinion.)

On the other hand, the road to victory is paved with the skulls of backwards-thinking pols who failed to get with the times. See for example the folks who pooh-poohed scientific polling or television or helicopters in the 40s and 50s -- and then got beat (sure, Lyndon Johnson may or may not have cheated in 1948, but by embracing "high-tech", Johnson was able to essentially tie Coke Stevenson, who was at the time probably the most popular politician in Texas).

Thanks to Kevin Drum for noting Claritas's site on Washington Monthly.

TOTALLY OFF TOPIC: The "you are where you live" meme came up in Drum's defense of David Brooks, who was attacked by Philadelphia Magazine's Sasha Issenberg for "not checking his facts." Umm, and I could say the same thing about Issenberg, who claims that "one of Goodwin's strongest markets has been deep-Red McAllen, Texas."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. McAllen might be geographically located in Texas, but every Texan knows that McAllen isn't really part of the sociopolitical construct of Texas, by which I mean George W. Bush's cowboy fan club (nor is Austin, nor San Antonio, nor Galveston, really, by that standard).

More to the point -- shouldn't Lyndon Johnson's biographer (that's who Doris Kearns Goodwin is) get lots of readers in South Texas, where some of LBJ's more infamous exploits occurred (see earlier reference to 1948 Senate Race)? I mean, duh.

OH. According to Issenberg, Galveston is part of "Red America," despite having a political culture somewhere to the left of Philadelphia's. ("Blue Americans have heard so much about Red America, and they've always wanted to see it. But Blue Americans don't take vacations to places like Galveston and Dubuque," Issenberg claims.)

Just look at the numbers -- McAllen's Hidalgo County went for Gore 61-38, which is about the same result tallied in "uber-blue" Montgomery County, Maryland, which went for Gore by a margin of 63-34. Galveston County, as a whole, is deeply "purple"; but the city of Galveston itself went for Gore.

The whole Philly Mag piece is a laugh riot. Obviously, Sasha Issenberg doesn't know anything about Texas, or Texans, and I'm starting to think that I don't want people like that in my state, anyway.

Once you scale up the "red/blue" hypothesis to geopolitical units the size of states, it starts to lose all meaning and sociological accuracy (as the post I made a while back about Starbucks in Vermont ought to indicate).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bill O'Reilly is a Racist

By Andrew Dobbs

I don't like to throw the word "racist" around a whole lot- I think that people on the left over use it. I doubt that very many Republicans are actual racists, in fact, I would say that in all of the US Congress, maybe 5 or 6 of them could be considered straight up racists and we have a couple of our own I'm sure. I think that there is danger in using that word frivolously, but even worse is to ignore real ignorance and hate when you see it. It seems as though Mr. Bill O'Reilly might be an honest-to-god racist.

From Atrios:

O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In THE FACTOR "Follow-Up" Segment tonight, we've been following the various demographic shifts throughout America, and now the Census Bureau estimates, by the year 2050, white Americans will make up less than 50 percent of the population. How will that change the USA?

Joining us now from Washington is Dr. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Here in the studio, John McManus, the editor in chief of "American Demographics" magazine.

So I guess this is being driven by Hispanics, right, with all the illegal immigration, millions of people coming in here and the higher birth rate among Hispanics in America. That's what's driving this?

JOHN MCMANUS, "AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS": The Hispanic population is the greatest increase that we'll see over the time period that we're talking about. Illegal immigration is a portion of the story, but it's the increase in -- rapid increase in immigration and birth rate in people of Hispanic origin that we'll see.

O'REILLY: All right. Because black birth rate is fairly stable, right?

MCMANUS: Proportionately, black birth rate and increases in their population will level out and be less significant in growth in that time period. I think Bill will be able to address the numbers better than I can, but...

O'REILLY: OK. And how about Asian? What's the situation with that?

MCMANUS: Asian -- we're going to see a 213 percent increase, according to the Census Bureau projection, and so that will be a very rapid increase of the percentage of their population in the U.S. as well.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, Doctor, the Census Bureau really doesn't tell us how this is going to affect the country. Do you have any theories on it?

WILLIAM FREY, PH.D., BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I really think what's happening is going to be this phasing out or fading out of the white baby boom population. It is a 50-year time period we're talking about...

O'REILLY: Yes. We'll all be dead. Thank God, right?

Now, I don't have the rest of the transcript, so O'Reilly might just be waxing at how he hopes he dies sometime soon (and I'm sure there are some out there who would join him in that sentiment), but it seems pretty clear that O'Reilly is spouting off some pretty harsh anti-immigrant, anti-minority sentiment. I don't know if O'Reilly really is a white supremecist or if he's just an idiot, but fact of the matter is, this stuff is out there and we need to see some outrage at this sort of ignorance.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 29, 2004

Funny Mondays

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This weeks edition is more slight of hand humor. As in, no knee-slapping but some politcal ideological bitch slapping.

To start with, the report from the Statesman last Saturday on the Friday Rally at the Capitol for Marriage Equality. The Austin Coalition for Marriage Equality website is now up and running, check it out.

And I'm sure our rally down here in Texas wasn't what made Former Governor/Wrestler Jesse Ventura speak up, but it's part of the movement at large. His comments...

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura threw his feather boa into the gay marriage ring Monday, calling it a "cop out" for Massachusetts lawmakers to send a constitutional ban to voters. "We have a representative-style government. Represent your people and vote and stand by what you believe in," said Ventura, who as a professional wrestler was known for his flamboyant costumes. "Civil rights issues should not be put on the ballot."

Currently a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, Ventura appeared at the Statehouse alongside State Auditor Joseph DeNucci, a former boxer.

"We're two tough guys here to show support for a basic human right," DeNucci said.

Clad in jeans and sneakers and wearing a full beard and a shaggy ring of hair, Ventura asked, "How is my marriage under attack if two gays or lesbians down the street want to make a lifelong commitment to themselves?"

Ventura, a one-term governor elected on the Reform Party ticket, added: "Love is bigger than government. Think about that."

In the extended part of this entry, Funny Monday's Actually gets funny with a bit I found that will make you smirk at Right-wing hypopcracy on Homosexuals being the big threat to the sanctity of marriage.

Food for thought

Ronald Reagan - divorced the mother of two of his children to marry Nancy Reagan who bore him a daughter only 7 months after the marriage.

Bob Dole - divorced the mother of his child, who had nursed him through the long recovery from his war wounds.

Newt Gingrich - divorced his wife who was dying of cancer.

Dick Armey - House Majority Leader - divorced

Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas - divorced

Gov. John Engler of Michigan - divorced

Former Gov. Pete Wilson of California - divorced

George Will - divorced

Sen. Lauch Faircloth - divorced

Rush Limbaugh - Rush and his current wife Marta have six marriages and four divorces between them.

Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia - Barr, not yet 50 years old, has been married three times. Barr had the audacity to author and push the "Defense of Marriage Act." The current joke making the rounds on Capitol Hill is "Bob Barr...WHICH marriage are you defending?"

Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York - divorced

Sen. John Warner of Virginia - divorced (once married to Liz Taylor)

Gov. George Allen of Virginia - divorced

Henry Kissinger - divorced

Rep. Helen Chenoweth of Idaho - divorced

Sen. John McCain of Arizona - divorced

Rep. John Kasich of Ohio - divorced

Rep. Susan Molinari of New York - Republican National Convention Keynote Speaker - divorced

And on and on....

Don't worry about homosexuals destroying the institution of marriage. The Christian Republicans are doing a fine job without anyone's help!

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

Tom DeLay Expects to be Indicted

By Byron LaMasters

I missed this on Friday, but the Houston Chronicle reported:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay apparently is preparing for the possibility that a Travis County grand jury may indict him on charges of violating state campaign finance laws.

DeLay, R-Sugar Land, told a group of Houston supporters earlier this month he may need to raise more money for a legal defense fund.


DeLay and a committee he founded, Texans for a Republican Majority, are the subject of a grand jury investigation being led by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat. The investigation focuses on whether TRM spent corporate money to influence the 2002 state House races in violation of Texas law.


DeLay and an aide in a March 8 private meeting at the Omni Houston Hotel talked to Houston supporters about the possible need to pay for a legal defense in connection with the grand jury investigation, according to two people who attended the meeting.

The meeting at the Omni was part of a regular event DeLay holds every three months for supporters called the "Congressional Quarterly Luncheon." The two people interviewed by the Chronicle spoke on condition of anonymity.

DeLay talked about the grand jury investigation only after being asked about it by one of the 40 to 50 people in attendance, sources told the Chronicle.

DeLay talked briefly about a legal defense and then had an unidentified aide discuss the possible need for raising money for a legal defense fund.

One of those interviewed quoted DeLay as saying, "I fully anticipate being indicted."

Off the Kuff has some more on the story for those of you inclined to find out more. If DeLay is indicted, there's a chance that CD 22 could emerge as a possible pick-up for Democrats. Sure, it's a long-shot, but stranger things have happened. Richard Morrison is the Democratic nominee in District 22 and you can check out his (infrequently updated) blog or make a contribution if you wish.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Finally! A Candidate in Georgia...

By Byron LaMasters

It took long enough, but it finally looks as if Democrats will be fielding a decent candidate in Georgia: U.S. Rep. Denise Majette. Majette, if you will remember defeated former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary two years ago, and (I think) is one of the more conservative members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In fact, she was elected, in part, because of cross-over Independent and Republican votes in the primary. She seems like the kind of candidate that has a chance to win statewide. The Atlanta Constitution Journal reports:

U.S. Rep. Denise Majette confirmed today that she is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Zell Miller. Majette conceded it is late to dive into a statewide race. But she said she felt moved to run as a counter to GOP messages she finds extreme. "The Republicans keep trotting out their right-wing rhetoric on God, guns and gays in an attempt to divide the electorate and distract from the serious problems they're not addressing," she told reporters.


Democratic leaders say Majette, who rose from obscurity to defeat 10-year incumbent Cynthia McKinney in 2002, has not sought wide party support or consulted them about seeking higher office.

Former state Rep. Billy McKinney, father of Cynthia, was on hand for today's announcement.

McKinney said Majette's decision to leave her seat to run for the Senate does not mean his daughter is a shoo-in to win back her old congressional seat. He said the race is "wide open."

"With the Democrats and the Republicans working hard against us it'll be a tough race," he said.

Asked by a reporter if Cynthia McKinney would support Majette's Senate bid, McKinney responded "Hell no. You've got to be crazy."

Since Miller announced his retirement, Majette was one of several names mentioned to run for his seat, but hers did not make the short list that the party has been discussing in recent weeks.

Until now, all signs indicated that Majette was preparing for a highly anticipated rematch against McKinney, whom Majette defeated with stunning ease in the 2002 Democratic primary. McKinney, Georgia's first African-American woman in Congress, declared her candidacy Saturday.

McKinney would be smart to count her blessings. While I'd prefer to see someone else hold that congressional seat, McKinney has a decent shot at winning it back (now that it will be open), but if she antagonizes Majette's supporters, it will be more difficult. As for the Senate race, it's still the Republicans best pick-up opportunity, but it's no longer a sure thing.

A few weeks ago From the Roots (DSCC blog) posted an entry saying that, "We are hearing some good news in GA so stay tuned on that front. A great candidate could emerge soon. So stay tuned... ". Is Majette the "good news" they were referring to then? I think that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Lt. Governor, the Attorney General or the Secretary of State (all three are Democrats) would have been a better candidate, but Majette could be interesting. We'll see soon.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:31 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

Dean, Edwards, Kucinich, Clark and Kerry Texas Campaigns Reach a Deal

By Byron LaMasters

Here's what leaders of the campaigns of the Texas campaigns of Dean, Edwards, Kucinich, Clark and Kerry agreed on last Thursday:

We’ve agreed to the following concepts: - All of us are agreed that we want a unified state convention for John Kerry in Texas. That will be achieved by all of us signing in for Kerry at State. - Democrats who were in the campaigns of any of the nine candidates still would like to go to the National Convention and all should feel free to run for Kerry delegates or for the nine Edwards seats allocated by the primary. To do so, you will have to file an application as a Kerry or Edwards national delegate. Applications will be posted on the Texas Democratic Party website beginning late April. - In all dealings at the State convention, no person will be prohibited or discouraged from being a party officer candidate or National Delegate because of which campaign they originally supported. - The various campaign leaders will all have input on naming some of the At-Large delegates. There will be people who originally supported Dean (or the others) considered and elected by the Nominations Committee to be Kerry At-Large National Delegates.

Sounds good to me. We're united. Off the Kuff has some more insight into the Democratic unity that we're seeing in Texas and across the country. Frankly, I'm amazed. I'm amazed how eager every single Democratic Presidential candidate (with the exception of Kucinich, for now) has been to help John Kerry get elected. Howard Dean endosed Kerry and sent out an email fundraising pitch for him. Dick Gephardt is campaigning with Kerry in Missouri this weekend. Wes Clark is using his contacts and email lists to raise money for Kerry. Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham will campaign for Kerry in Florida. John Edwards has introduced John Kerry to his fundraising contacts and is raising money for Kerry himself. Even Al Sharpton has embraced John Kerry, and Dennis Kucinich has promised to support John Kerry by the convention. We're united.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuition Up 24% at UNT

By Byron LaMasters

If you needed further proof that Tom Craddick is an enemy of higher education, check out this story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Tuition at the University of North Texas will increase by 24 percent next school year, in large part to cover state budget cuts in the face of rising enrollment costs.

UNT regents voted 7-2 Friday to increase undergraduate tuition to $123 per semester credit hour -- a $24 per-hour increase. A full-time Texas student taking 15 credit hours will pay $1,845 a semester, up from $1,485 this school year.

Costs for room and board will also rise at the Denton campus.

The state no longer provides funding based on enrollment, so public universities are turning to students to make up the difference -- an option provided last year when the state Legislature deregulated tuition at state schools.


The University of Texas at Austin raised tuition and fees 26 percent from fall 2003 to fall 2004. Charges at UT-El Paso increased 28 percent. Most resident undergraduates at the University of Texas at Arlington will see a 17.5 percent tuition increase from fall 2003.


Student leaders, unhappy about the news, intend to study the effect of the increase on students. Plans are to give a report to regents this summer, said Jesse Davis, 20, president-elect of the UNT student body.

Some students will probably enroll at community colleges to save money or drop out of the university, Davis said.

The increase in cost of higher education at Texas universities is outrageous. No new taxes was a joke. Tom Craddick and the Republicans in this state have raised taxes on students and middle class families by an extraordinary amount through tuition deregulation. Other students aren't so lucky. For students that can't afford to pay more, many are forced to drop out of school or enroll in community colleges. I hope that this serves as a wake up call for students to get involved. Regardless, we'll be sure to remind students here at UT who raised their tuition rates come November.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Glen Lewis to Join the GOP?

By Byron LaMasters

Not yet, but he's been invited.

State Rep. Glenn Lewis, a lifelong Fort Worth Democrat who was beaten in the March 9 primary by first-time candidate Marc Veasey, has been approached by Republican leaders who want him to jump to the GOP.

Lewis, whom Veasey accused of being too friendly with powerful Republicans, said he will not move to the GOP "at this point." But he did not rule out doing so later if there are not dramatic changes in the local and state leadership of the Democratic Party.

Lewis, who is black and a lawyer, said there are too many "Anglo lawyers" making the decisions for Texas Democrats. But it's black and Hispanic voters who keep the party afloat, he contended.

The nine-year House member said that since his defeat he has received calls from Republicans including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rep. Joe Barton, local GOP Chairwoman Pat Carlson and Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in state government. Lewis said he has also been contacted by "some of my Democratic colleagues in the House."

Sounds like sour grapes to me. Lewis signed on as an early Craddick supporter and waffled on redistricting (before ultimately voting against it), and his choices had consequences. Lewis won a committee chairmanship, but he also lost renomination.

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

Travis County Delegates

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Just a note, I was told this morning that Dean won 27% of the delegates to the state convention in Travis County.

In Gillespie County, officially, Kerry got 3 delegate and Edwards 1 (me, don't ask). But of the 8 delegates and alternates from Gillespie County, 5 had been tagged as Dean from the campaign this past year.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Clarke: Bring It On

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Republicans fear Clarke's testimony. So of course the best solution is to assisinate his character and claim that he lied, even if you don't have proof. Of course, Bust is used to lying without proof, but that is beside the point.

So Republicans wanted to push to declassify some of Clarke's past testimony in hopes that he lied. But Clarke isn't backing down as being reported...

Richard Clarke, the former chief counterterrorism adviser at the White House, who has criticized the Bush administration’s preparedness for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that he “would welcome” the attempt by leading Republicans to declassify his two-year-old testimony before Congress.

Clarke also said Rice’s private testimony before the commission should be declassified, as well as e-mails, memos and all other correspondence between Rice and Clarke.

“Let’s declassify everything,” Clarke said to NBC's Tim Russert, moderator of the program.

He also accused the administration of waging a “campaign to destroy me professionally and personally,” and called on the White House to “raise the level of discourse.”

Clarke also fired back at the administration by reading Bush’s response to his resignation letter.

Noting it was in the president’s handwriting, Clarke said the letter read that he would “be missed. You served our nation with distinction and honor,” and had “left a positive mark on our government.”

“He thinks I served with distinction and honor,” Clarke said, while “the rest of his staff is out there to destroy me.”

Bring. It. On.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 27, 2004

Rolling Back Protections

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Joe Trippi's Change for America has the lowdown and there is no need to duplicate an already well put together point.

PS. I'll post on the Gillespie County Democratic Convention tomorrow, with pictures! But just to let y'all know, I have been elected a full voting delegate to the State Convention.

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

Texas Congressional Outlook

By Byron LaMasters

On primary day, I wrote a very hastily put together Texas Congressional Preview. One thing that I would like to do over the next week is write a "Texas Congressional Outlook" that would be modeled after the Senate Outlook on Daily Kos. I think that it would useful for a lot of people as Texas has arguably more contested congressional elections than any other state. I'll be examining national news sources (National Journal, RollCall, Congressional Quarterly, etc. - I don't have subscriptions, but I've received some information via emails), and local news sources and newspapers on the 32 congressional districts and elections in the state of Texas. I hope that this project will help people in Texas and across the country understand the dynamics of the congressional campaigns that will heat up across the state over the coming months.

Anyway, if you'd like to help in any way, email me or comment on this thread. Thanks.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:38 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Republicans for Nader

By Byron LaMasters

The Republicans wanted Ralph Nader to run. They want him to be well funded. They want him to be able to take his message to America. Does anyone wonder why?

The Dallas Morning News reports:

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is getting a little help from his friends – and from George W. Bush's friends.

Nearly 10 percent of the Nader contributors who have given him at least $250 each have a history of supporting the Republican president, national GOP candidates or the party, according to computer-assisted review of financial records by The Dallas Morning News.


More than 24 Nader contributors of $250 or more – about 10 percent of his total – are otherwise reliable GOP donors, The News review found.

Mr. Paulucci, the creator of Chun King and Jeno's Pizza Rolls, donated $2,000 in February to Mr. Nader.

The Florida frozen-food executive is a prolific contributor to the GOP, giving more than $150,000 to the Republican Party and national candidates since 2000.

Is there any better proof that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush?

Update: Didn't notice it earlier, but Kos is on the story as well. He observes that it is likely that the 10% figure climbs as the campaign moves on as Nader taps out his personal network of supporters. I'm quite inclined to agree.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Deny Bush's Loan and Help MoveOn.org

By Byron LaMasters

I'm sure that most of you all saw this already, but click here to stand up to the irresponsible spending of the Bush administration, and help MoveOn.org at the same time.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Longhorns Lose

By Byron LaMasters

Well shit.

Oh well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Over 1000 Attend Travis County Democratic Convention

By Byron LaMasters

I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout today at the Travis County Democratic Convention. There were just over 1000 delegates from Senate District 14 (Barrientos) and about 200 from the portion of Senate District 25 (Wentworth) in Travis County. Registration was a bit of a fiasco (not enough space, unorganized lines, etc.), but it all worked out. The main events were speeches by most of the elected officials in Travis County and the other candidates on the county ticket.

Senator Barrientos spoke relatively early into the convention. He received a warm reception, and gave a fiery speech to the convention, but there were many in the audience still upset with his endorsement of Leticia Hinojosa against Lloyd Doggett. Doggett spoke later, and he was greeted to the room by a minute-long standing ovation by the delegates. Later in the day, State Reps. Rodriguez, Naishtat and Dukes spoke as well.

We also broke up into precinct caucuses to elect delegates to the state convention. I was elected as an Alternate to the state convention. Our precinct had eleven delegates to the county convention today, and we were allotted two delegates and two alternates to the state convention. For those four spots, there were six of us running. The six of us were all given a chance to introduce ourselves, and then the five people not running had an opportunity to ask us questions. Of course, the one question worked to my disadvantage. One person asked if anyone had been a delegate to the state convention in the past, and I was the only one who had (I was a delegate to the Texas Democratic Convention in El Paso in 2002). Next the eleven of us cast four votes (which we could divide however we wished). I was in a tie for the third most votes (8), so we were the alternates while the two top vote getters (who won 10 and 9 votes, respectively) won the two delegate spots. I'm happy to have the opportunity to go to convention, and there's a good chance that I'll be a delegate anyway, since there are always a good number of delegates who are unable to make the convention.

The end of the convention dragged on through dozens of resolutions. At first, it went smoothly, and most of the delegates were in agreement on things like supporting labor rights, women's rights, choice, gay rights, affirmative action, etc. There was more controversy with two resolutions that passed narrowly (which I opposed). The first was a resolution calling for a 15% cut in military spending (among other things) and the second was a resolution calling for the United States to withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO. At this point in the convention, about two-thirds of the delegates had left, and the Kucinich delegates (about 10% of the original total) were speaking out for their resolutions. I disagree with them on those two issues, but if voting on these resolutions is what some people need to be able to vote for John Kerry and the Democratic ticket this fall, then it all works out. No one pays attention to resolutions passed by a county convention anyway.

Anyway, it was good to run into a lot of friends, and meet some people who have read BOR at the convention. Anyone have any other thoughts on the Travis County convention? Anyone else attend their county (or senate district) convention today?

Update: More accounts of the convention are here and here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:52 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 26, 2004

Gay Rights Rally in Waco Tomorrow Protesting Baylor Policy

By Byron LaMasters

This ought to be interesting. The Waco Tribune-Herald reports:

Organizers of a gay rights rally in downtown Waco Saturday say they expect 1,000 demonstrators to voice their criticism of Baylor University for its treatment of gay students.

A group calling itself United4Change will protest the university's policies at 11 a.m. Saturday at Heritage Square. It is led by Matt Bass, a former Truett Seminary student who had to drop out of school after his scholarship was withdrawn when he admitted to officials he supported homosexual marriage.

Bass, 24, who stayed in Waco after withdrawing from school to help bring attention to issues facing gay students, said he hopes for a large turnout for the rally to "help administrators understand the effects of discrimination."

Baylor officials, when asked for comment, responded only with a written statement affirming t he student code of conduct, which informs students of the university's stance on human sexuality issues and communicates expectations for how students conduct themselves on or off campus.

"Baylor University welcomes all students into a safe and supportive environment in which to discuss and learn about a variety of issues, including those of human sexuality," the policy states. "The university affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.

"Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching."

United4Change, a group of Baylor students, alumni and friends in the greater community, believes that "discrimination against students and faculty based on real or perceived sexual orientation and identity is unjust and inherently violent towards all," Bass said.

As an institution of higher learning, Baylor has an obligation to end ignorance, yet it continues to infringe on academic freedom, constitutional free speech, and basic human and civil rights, he added. The group seeks equality on campus and a nondiscrimination clause in university policies. Many Baylor alumni from throughout the country have sent either e-mails of support or indicated they are coming to the rally, he said.

Recently, the Baylor student paper endorsed gay marriage which received much critisism from the Baylor administration. It's almost amusing to watch if it wasn't so serious. It's outrageous that a closeted gay student lost his scholarship at Baylor after being asked about his sexual orientation by the administration because he had confided in a pastor (who proceded to violate his trust with the student, and go tell the administration).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Two Rallies Set

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I want to let everyone know about two important rallies in Texas in the next two days concerning Marriage Rights and Equality at Universities in Texas.

The First is the "Dont Outlaw Love" Rally set for today at 4:30 in front of the State Capitol Building in support of equal marriage rights and recognition here in Austin. The event is actually being organized by High School students and is one of the projects being coordinated by the Austin Coalition for Marriage Equaltiy (whose new website will be up soon and I will link to when it is). The group will listen to speakers, rally, and the march on over to good old Governor Perry's Mansion in case he wants to join in on the lovefest.

The second big event is taking place in Waco tomorrow in reponse to Baylor University's treatment of gay students.

Organizers of a gay rights rally in downtown Waco Saturday say they expect 1,000 demonstrators to voice their criticism of Baylor University for its treatment of gay students. A group calling itself United4Change will protest the university's policies at 11 a.m. Saturday at Heritage Square. It is led by Matt Bass, a former Truett Seminary student who had to drop out of school after his scholarship was withdrawn when he admitted to officials he supported homosexual marriage.

Bass, 24, who stayed in Waco after withdrawing from school to help bring attention to issues facing gay students, said he hopes for a large turnout for the rally to "help administrators understand the effects of discrimination."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Eiland named Galveston Citizen of the Year

By Jim Dallas

We love our state representative, Craig Eiland (D, Galveston) even more than we love our oysters!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Republicans - Dishonest or Just Stupid?

By Jim Dallas

DailyKOS on South Dakota GOP claims that Stephanie Herseth has a "secret" Web page.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Re-Post: CF walk stuff

By Jim Dallas

I don't enjoy begging for money, particularly about non-political/personal issues.

(And especially since we're still in the midst of trying to raise money for John Kerry and the blogads advertisers).

However, I'd like to tell you about a cause that I am currently involved in that matters a lot to me.

As some of you may know (and perhaps some of you do not), my younger sister Madison has been living with cystic fibrosis for seven years, and generally there has been little to mention about it since she has been so blessed as to receive very good, cutting edge treatment -- much of which has stemmed from research funded in part by generous contributions from people like you to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that makes breathing a major chore for those with the disease. CF causes life-threatening lung infections and the average survival age of those with the disease is the early 30s. Currently, there is no cure and the future of those with CF lies in the hands of people like you and me. By sponsoring me in the GREAT STRIDES campaign, together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those with CF.

Tremendous advances in the last decade have allowed my sister to live a pretty normal life, at least for the time being. Yet there still is no cure for CF, which means every day is still a struggle.

I've had a wonderful opportunity to spend a lot more time with Madison since I've moved back home, and I've learned two things about her. The first is that she's even more sweet than I remember. The second is that she's incredibly aggressive when victory depends on it. Pick a board game - any board game, from CandyLand to Monopoly to Chess - and she'll beat me because she's so determined.

I believe strongly that we can and will find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis - if we are determined.

If we work together to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sponsor the wonderful and promising medical research that some of the best and brightest doctors in the country are working on. Every little bit helps improve the quality of life for people, like my sister, who are fighting cystic fibrosis.

That is why I've been a regular participant in the GREAT STRIDES Walk and why I am making a special commitment this year to raise $250. I believe that I can meet or even exceed this goal, if you help me by pitching in $10 or $20 today.

If you are not able to contribute but would like to show support, then I invite you to take part in the GREAT STRIDES Walk this year. It is held at over 550 sites nationally. I will be walking on Saturday, May 15 at Moody Gardens in Galveston.

Also, Monday, March 29 is CF night at Taco Cabana on 61st Street in Galveston. If you are in the Galveston area, please consider coming by between 5 and 9 pm for the event.

Thank you for your time,


P.S. Please note the URL I have given includes an "invitee" tag; because of it I won't necessarily know who made the contribution because the Great Strides server will mistakenly inform me that the contribution was made by "invitee" #3089, which happens to be my old high school debate teacher. Don't worry; the CFF foundation apparently knows what's going on, and the contribution (I believe) will be properly processed. It's just I will be behind a veil of ignorance as to who did what.

I feel rather bad about that, since I want to send out "thank yous" to all that have contributed. Unfortunately, I don't know who you are (the veil of ignorance thing again). I'd ask you to please note your e-mail in the comments thread so I can give credit where credit is due!

(The CF Foundation is a little new at this Internet thing).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

400 Texas Mayors Want Bush Library at Baylor

By Byron LaMasters

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Some 400 Texas mayors want the George W. Bush presidential library to be built at Baylor University, school officials said today.

Baylor is one of several institutions seeking to be the site of the library, a decision Bush is expected to make after leaving office.


In October, 100 mayors said they endorsed Baylor as the library site. A month later, Baylor formed a 50-person national steering committee for planning and fund-raising in hopes that the library will locate there.

Waco is about 20 miles from Bush's ranch in Crawford, and 80 percent of the state's population is within 200 miles of Baylor, the state's oldest university and the world's largest Baptist university with nearly 14,000 students.

I don't really care where the Bush Presidential Library is, as long as it isn't at the University of Texas. UT rejected Bush after all, and of course, we already have the LBJ presidential library.

The list of the mayors is here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:26 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Life On the Half-Shell

By Jim Dallas

Robb Walsh of the Houston Press reminds me this week why we Galvestonians take pride in our oysters, as well as why I worry about Californians generally and have outright disdain for some Naderites specifically:

And who would eat oysters that come out of that water?" the San Franciscan continues. Suddenly, I feel my jaw muscles tighten. Newly informed about Texas oysters, I feel a strange need to defend them.

"I would," I say. "But actually, the oysters don't come from the Gulf, they come from Galveston Bay. In fact, it's one of the last great oyster reefs in America. And the oysters are fabulous this year."

"Where is Galveston Bay?" the lady from San Francisco wants to know.

"It's between Kemah and San Leon on the west and Anahuac on the east," I say, but she has no idea where I'm talking about. "You know where the ships enter the Houston Ship Channel?" I ask.

"Oh, gross," says a vegetarian woman who's listening in on the edge of the conversation. "So you think all those chemicals spewing out of the oil tankers give the oysters a special flavor?" Cornered now by skeptics, I feel the adrenaline beginning to flow.

I have a Texas Parks and Wildlife oyster map out in my car that shows how big the bay really is and how far the oyster reefs are from the pollution. I consider going out to get it.

"What I resent is that I can't get good oysters in Houston because they have so many cheap ones here," the San Franciscan says. "The Gulf oysters are big and tough. I don't want to chew on an oyster. I would never eat an oyster any bigger than this," she says, making a silver dollar-sized circle with her fingers. "I like blue points and Kumamoto oysters."

"How much do they cost?" I ask.

"I think the last time I had them, it was like $8.95 for three…"

"I like cultivated oysters, too," I admit. "They're delicious. But three little bitty oysters for $9? You live in the last place in America where you can get a dozen oysters for a couple of bucks -- and you want to import $36-a-dozen cultivated oysters from California?"

"That's right," she says.

"You're an oyster snob," I say.

"Okay," she says. "I have no problem with that."

Silly, blasphemous woman. I bet she was one of those New York Times reading, Volvo-driving hippies for Dean.

Meanwhile, the Chicken Little folks are telling us that Galveston Bay Oysters could kill us all at any minute. Here's what Robb Walsh says about that:

...[t]he group released a report, "Death on the Half Shell," that blamed government inaction for the more than 135 deaths from contaminated oysters since 1989.

So why would anybody in their right mind keep eating Gulf Coast oysters after a warning like that? Well, it helps to remember that Michael Jacobson, the head of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has also spoken out against beer, coffee, Mexican food and buttered popcorn. The teetotaling vegetarian microbiologist, who once worked with Ralph Nader, also favors the enactment of the "Twinkie Tax," a special added tax on unhealthy food, and reportedly has said that instead of neighborhood taverns, "They should develop an alternative for people to socialize -- a real fun coffeehouse. Maybe a carrot-juice house."

It's not very difficult to figure out why Jacobson should be joined in his condemnation of Gulf Coast seafood by the New England and Pacific Northwest seafood industries. If they can scare people out of eating cheap native Gulf Coast oysters, they stand to sell a lot more of their expensive farm-raised ones.

Normally, I would wince at Walsh using the term "teetotaling vegetarian" in approximately the same way that folks used to use the term "godless communist." But when you diss our seafood, I guess I lose sympathy.

And the bacteria threat is a crock, anyway, with the chance of dying from an oyster something like one in a million. I'm more concerned about the Chevy Corvair.

Besides, if you're concerned about oyster bacteria, just do what I do - eat them grilled or deep-fried (during the summer; during the winter raw oysters are almost bacteria-free and taste better, anyway).

And remember, only native Gulf Coast oysters are so cheap and plentiful that you can afford to deep-fry them without feeling like your bastardizing a delicacy.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Blatant Lies (Otherwise Known as Bush's Latest Ad)

By Byron LaMasters

The latest George W. Bush ad goes beyond the earlier Bush campaign distortions of the Kerry record. They've now resorted to blatant lies:

George W. Bush's campaign ad says that "John Kerry's plan will raise taxes by at least $900 Billion his first 100 days in office".

John Kerry hasn't proposed $900 Billion in new taxes. The Boston Globe responds to the Bush lie:

Kerry has never proposed a $900 billion tax increase, as the ad suggests. The Bush administration, which has overseen the loss of government surpluses and an explosion of deficits, comes up with the $900 billion figure by calculating the cost of Kerry's programs. Kerry left himself open to criticism by failing to detail the cost of his promises.

While slapping price tags on Kerry's policies, the White House hasn't explained gaps in its own fiscal 2005 budget, including the cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan next year. Bush also hasn't accounted for the $1 trillion in transition costs of his proposal for partial privatization of Social Security.

First of all, the Bush folks are the last people any American should trust in calculating a budget, and how much various programs will cost. They have failed time and time again to grasping the costs of their programs, and turned a budget surplus into the largest deficits in history in only three years. Second, if we added up the difference between Bush's spending and Bush's current taxes (the logic the Bush administration uses for calculating the Kerry taxes), we could conclude that the Bush administration would raise taxes significantly in their first 100 days. Finally, how can anyone raise taxes by $900 Billion in 100 days? Any tax increases would be spread out over a period of years. The Bush campaign makes it appear as if the tax boogeyman will come and rob Americans of $900 Billion in 100 days. When it comes to Social Security, the Bush ad attacks Kerry for voting to raise taxes on Social Security benefits, but as is typical of Bush, he has not accounted for the $1 Trillion in transition costs to partial privatization. Can we assume that George W. Bush wants to raise taxes by $1 Trillion (using the Bush campaign logic) to cover it? No, probably not. He'll just continue the standard Republican borrow-and-spend economics, and make our generation pay it off in a few decades.

Next, the Bush campaign says that "Kerry even supported to raise taxes on gasoline by $.50 / gallon. Kerry voted for a $.043 / gallon tax increase on gas. Less than ten times less than the tax Bush suggests he supported. Kerry never sponsored a bill or voted for anything to increase gas taxes by $.50. The Boston Globe continues:

Kerry voted for a 4.3-cent increase in the per-gallon gas tax in 1993, defending it as a way to reduce the deficit. In 1994, he referred to his ''support for a 50-cent increase in the gas tax'' in a comment to the Boston Globe. He later said he no longer held that view, and he noted that he had never proposed or voted for it.

What will be next?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

CDA Starts Blog

By Byron LaMasters

It's almost becoming a broken record. Such and such organization starts a blog, but I think it's pretty cool that the College Democrats of America have started a weblog (and we get first screen linkage as a "college blog"). I found them via my referral report, so everyone go check them out.

I'd specifically like to point to one of their entries about James “Jake” Gilbreath - a 20-year-old College Democrat at George Washington University from Waxahachie who is running for Texas State Representative District 10. He got a write-up in the Waxahachie Daily Light the other day:

James “Jake” Gilbreath, a 20-year-old political science major at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., recently won the Democratic nomination for the Texas State Legislature District 10 seat representing Ellis and Hill counties.

During the November general election, he will face incumbent Jim Pitts.
A 2002 graduate of Waxahachie High School, Gilbreath is passionate about his political views and his desire to make a difference.

“I love people. I love serving people. I think that’s why I enjoy being a waiter. I’m proud of the fact that I wait on people,” said the college sophomore, who spends his breaks from college working at Owens Restaurant in Waxahachie.
“That’s one of the things that is missing in our government now,” he said. “Our representatives — particularly in Washington — have lost touch with the people they are supposed to be representing.”

While at school in Washington, Gilbreath has been active with the Democratic Party, while also serving in several internship positions in government.


“My campaign is about giving people a choice,” he said. “Whenever a candidate is running unopposed, the election process is being tossed aside. I feel very strongly that people deserve an opportunity to choose their leaders.

“My campaign is not about me. It is about what I bring to the district. It is about my energy. It is about being here in the 10th District and fighting for the people,” he added.

And when it comes to political views, Gilbreath and Pitts are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Pitts is a popular Republican with a strong voting record of being a fiscal conservative. Gilbreath is a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat who strongly believes in government social programs, protecting public education and making higher education more accessible.

When asked about his own college education, Gilbreath said he has every intention of finishing his degree.

“That’s one thing that I’ve talked a lot about with my family,” Gilbreath said. “If elected, I’ll transfer to the University of Texas in Austin and be within three hours of the district.

Well, on behalf of the University Democrats, I would be delighted to welcome Gilbreath to the University of Texas. It's always good to see dedicated young people run for office, and I look forward to getting in touch with him.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Democrats for Bush?

By Byron LaMasters

Well, there's Zell Miller, a former Florida Lieutenant Governor during the 1980s, then after that, the number three "Democrat" for Bush is an obscure former Missouri Bollinger County Commissioner. Wow. What a high profile list. The Bush-Cheney Campaign reports:

Today, U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) and Democrats from across the country joined together in support of President Bush's re-election efforts. This event is one of many events scheduled by the campaign designed to energize and inform the nation's voters and grassroots activists who have shown overwhelming support for President Bush.

"I have been a Democrat all my life and I will be until my last day on Earth, but right now this president is the guy I support," stated Miller. "The direction the Democrats are headed is not based on what is good for America but what is good for the party, and at historic times like these, Americans deserve more."

After two terms as governor of Georgia, Miller is currently Georgia's senior senator serving his first term. John Wayne Mixson, Lieutenant Governor during Bob Graham's administration, and Ken Threntham, a former Missouri Bollinger County Commissioner, also participated in the events this afternoon.

It's tough now that they can't include Ralph Hall. He was every Republicans favorite Demcrat. As for Zell Miller, the man is a disgrace and a hypocrite. Three years ago, Zell Miller had nothing but praise for John Kerry (via kos):

Miller has not always been so dismissive of Kerry. At the Georgia Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in 2001, he introduced Kerry as “one of this nation’s authentic heroes, one of this party’s best-known and greatest leaders — and a good friend.”

In remarks reported in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miller continued, “In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.” Miller said Kerry “fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.”

Now, the tone is quite different. Not only does Miller wholeheartedly endorse George W. Bush, but he goes on the attack against Senator Kerry, and at times directly contradicts his comments in 2001:

SENATOR MILLER: Thank you, Marc. I appreciate your kind introduction, and I appreciate even more your efforts to re-elect President Bush.


I am honored to stand squarely with President George W. Bush as he leads America at this defining moment in our history. The road that brought me here today is paved with a lot of frustration, but also a lot of hope.


Senator Kerry doesn’t make any secret of the fact that he wants to bring more money into Washington so that he can decide how to spend it.

In his first one hundred days in office, John Kerry’s massive health care plan would force him to raise taxes by as much as $900 billion. And the only way he’s going to get that kind of money is if he reaches into the wallet of every man and woman in America.

His spending and tax plan would stifle our economy and stall our recovery.

On one hand, Zell Miller credits John Kerry for cutting government waste and bringing accountability to government. On the other, Zell Miller attacks John Kerry for an irresponsible spending plan (no mention of the current Bush deficits, though) and unaccountability. Which one is it, Zell?

Can we just kick him out of the Democratic caucus? It's one thing to be a Blue Dog. I may not agree with people like Charlie Stenholm or Chet Edwards or Max Sandlin or Jim Turner, etc. all the time, but I'm damn glad to have them in Congress. From liberal districts, we should have liberal Democratic congressmen, for conservative and moderate districts, I'm happy to see Blue Dog and conservative Democrats win. But Zell Miller's antics are getting old. Can anyone.... anyone, please, name ONE thing that he has done in the past year or two to justify the "D" behind his name? Anything?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:33 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

DeLay to Step Down?

By Byron LaMasters

Sounds good to me. Via Political Wire and Greg's Opinion.

The story comes from Roll Call, but you have to pay to access it.

Political Wire offers just a small clip:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) "has begun quiet discussions with a handful of colleagues about the possibility that he will have to step down from his leadership post temporarily if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating alleged campaign finance abuses," Roll Call reports.

Update: Via comments, CBS News has more:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is telling close colleagues he may have to temporarily abandon his leadership post if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating alleged campaign finance abuses, Roll Call reports.

The Capitol Hill newspaper said a GOP congressional rule stipulates that members who hold elected leadership posts must temporarily step down if they are indicted on a felony charge. The member may resume his or her post if found innocent, or if the charge is dropped, or if the charge is reduced to a misdemeanor.

DeLay's problem stems from a state grand jury sitting in Austin that is probing allegations that corporate money was used illegally in 2002 legislative races in Texas.

Specifically, the grand jury is investigating whether state law was violated when a Republican National Committee group gave $190,000 to seven candidates for the Texas House in 2002.

The donations were made on the same day, two weeks after a political committee called Texans for a Republican Majority sent $190,000 in corporate money to the RNC group.

Under state law, the political committee, created by DeLay, could not legally give corporate donations to candidates.

Democrats allege that Republicans took money that could not be given to candidates and moved it around before donating it to candidates.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tom Craddick: Enemy of Higher Education

By Byron LaMasters

Andrew led a student press conference yesterday to present Speaker Tom Craddick with an "Enemy of Higher Education Award", since the "Friends of the University" were presenting Craddick with a "Friend of Higher Education Award". Democrats like Andrew and I joined with a member of the Young Conservatives and Texas and several others in denouncing Tom Craddick and tuition deregulation at the press conference. Anyway, kudos to Andrew for putting it on. The Daily Texan reports:

Student Government members presented Texas House of Representatives Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, with a certificate of recognition as an "Enemy of Education" on Wednesday at the Capitol.

At a news conference organized by SG Student Services Director Andrew Dobbs, members addressed a small crowd with concerns about tuition deregulation, a factor they claim Craddick was influential in passing.

"This award recognizes the speaker's real achievement in education," Dobbs said, unveiling a poster-sized version of the certificate. "The actions of the speaker to push for tuition deregulation result in college educations being more out of reach for students than ever before."

The certificate, presented to Craddick's office after the press conference, alleges that deregulation of college tuition has made higher education in the state of Texas less affordable and less accessible to students. It also alleges that deregulation balances the college budgets on students' and parents' backs and shuts the door on thousands of Texans who dream of a college education.

"Abdicating responsibility for setting tuition rates at state universities to unelected regents who have no accountability to the taxpayers of Texas is ridiculous," Dobbs said. "This is wrong."

Matt Stolhandske, SG International Student Affairs director and a member of the Young Conservatives of Texas, said tuition deregulation was "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

"Deregulation is not deregulation at all but simply a dressed-up way of increasing tuition and raising taxes on middle-class families," Stolhandske said.

Stolhandske said the decision to present the "tongue-in-cheek" award came after the Friends of the University System planned to present Craddick with the Darrell K Royal Friend of the University award.


Zach Neumann, a two-year, at-large SG representative, also attacked Craddick's work on tuition deregulation.

"Students will fall deeper and deeper into debt faster," Neumann said. "All this does is crush the dreams of students who feel they will no longer be able to afford a college education."

The event could have been better, but considering that it was put together in a matter of two days and the fact that the Daily Texan and News 8 Austin covered the story, I think - considering the circumstances, it was a great success. Good job, Andrew.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 24, 2004

The Latest on Tom DeLay

By Byron LaMasters

Last week, Andrew posted a primer on "Tomstown", the brewing scandal where Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick allegedly used millions of dollars from corporations during the 2002 campaigns in helping Tom Craddick become speaker of the Texas House (which allowed for redistricting to occur). For more background on the story, the best sites to check out are Save Texas Reps and Off the Kuff. Unfortunately, we haven't been following the story as much as we should have (along with Tom DeLay's antics in general), but it's a big story, and we'll do our best to pass along as many details of the story and the investigation into Tom DeLay's (probably illegal) activities as we can.

To get some insight into some of the tactics used by Tom DeLay, check out today's Washington Post article. Tom DeLay sets up front "charity" organizations, but uses much of that money for other purposes.

A public advocacy group yesterday asked each House member to request an ethics inquiry into a charitable organization linked to Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the latest step in a quickening pace of ethics complaints and reactions in Congress.

Democracy 21 contends that the charity, Celebrations for Children Inc., is a political scheme established to let DeLay raise huge sums from interest groups and supporters to host lavish parties at this summer's Republican National Convention.

DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella said at least three-fourths of the charity's income will go to needy children, with the remainder paying for dinners, a golf tournament, a rock concert, Broadway tickets and the other fundraising events DeLay plans to host at the convention in New York City.


House rules prohibit behavior by members or staffers that fails to "reflect creditably" on the House. Federal laws governing tax-exempt charities allow no more than an insubstantial portion of a group's revenue to be spent on activities other than the charity's main stated purpose.

Celebrations for Children fails both tests, alleges Wertheimer's complaint.

"Tax-exempt charitable organizations are not supposed to be used as political playthings by Members of Congress," his letter says. "The DeLay scheme will allow House members to attend, free of charge, such events as Broadway shows, golfing tournaments, yacht cruises, dinners, parties and other events, with the events being paid for by a 'charitable' organization and funded by big donors to the 'charity,' many of whom are likely to have important interests pending in Congress."

Celebrations for Children is a front group where DeLay's donors can give unlimited amounts of tax-deductable money so that Tom DeLay can spend a cut of a supposed charity to put on events for his political donors. Comon Cause is also on the case, and is seeking the intervention of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The Hill reports:

Common Cause, recently made inquiries with Eliot Spitzer, New York attorney general, to determine whether the charity was properly registered.

That may lead to a formal request for an investigation.

The two watchdogs allege that DeLay plans to use the charity improperly to fund political activities in New York City during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

In other recent Tom DeLay news, his PAC's donated over $30,000 to the anti-rail campaign last year in Houston. The campaign for light-rail in Houston passed narrowly.

Now, back to the scandal at hand. It was reported over the weekend that Tom DeLay used his National PAC to donate to 15 Texas legislative candidates. The Dallas Morning News reports:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's national fund-raising committee contributed to 15 Texas legislative candidates whose campaign finances are under state criminal investigation for possible improper contributions during the 2002 election.

While Mr. DeLay's national fund-raising committee is not the focus of the investigation, he helped found the inquiry's target, Texans for a Republican Majority. Records obtained by The Associated Press indicate the breadth of his influence over financial support to Republican candidates in Texas.

Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee contributed $24,000 to the candidates in 2002. The checks sent to them bear Mr. DeLay's name and title as the PAC's chairman and were dated Oct. 22, 2002, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. DeLay and his aide, Jim Ellis, helped start the separate PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority, in 2001 with $75,000 from Americans for a Republican Majority. A Travis County grand jury is investigating the state PAC for allegedly using corporate money to influence the 2002 races, which Texas law prohibits.


Records of Americans for a Republican Majority were subpoenaed by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle as part of the investigation.

So far, no one has been accused of any wrongdoing.

Of course, Republicans are doing their best to make Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's job as difficult as possible by overwhelming the office with open records requests:

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is complaining about the number of open record requests his office is receiving.

Earle is investigating what he calls illegal, secret corporate campaign contributions in the 2002 elections. The requests for information look into whether those being investigated were abusing the system.

The DA's office is investigating campaign contributions to Republicans by the Texas Association of Business (TAB) and into possible violations of Texas law relating to State Rep. Tom Craddick's election to Speaker of the House.


While Earle continues his investigation, he's also seen a workload increase for his office. Open records requests by the same people under investigation are piling up.

"We're responding to the open records requests because that's the law, but really it's just a way to keep us from doing our job," Earle said.

On Tuesday, attorney Andy Taylor, who represents TAB, filed 83 open record requests with Earle's office: seeking e-mails, documents of meetings and other communications pertaining to the grand jury investigation.

"I personally have made a request on behalf of the TAB for all records which would demonstrate leaks by Ronnie Earle's office of confidential grand jury information not only to the media but to his political allies, to his political consultants" Taylor said.

Open records requests are important to ensure open government and accountability. However, its clear to me that Republicans are attempting to abuse the system and slow down the process of Earle's investigation. Obviously, they are concerned about something.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

How Dean Lost by his Pollster

By Byron LaMasters

Atlantic Monthly has a lengthy article by Paul Maslin, Howard Dean's pollster on how Dean lost Iowa (and thus the nomination). It is a very revealing inside view as to how Howard Dean imploded in Iowa. From his summer surge, to how the Al Gore endorsement backfired, to how Dean allowed himself to get into a one-on-one battle with Dick Gephardt sinking both of their campaigns, to the campaign's failure to have experienced caucus coordinators in each caucus, to the final days where things spiraled out of control. It's all inAtlantic Monthly: The Front-Runner's Fall. Via Political Wire and Carl with a K.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watch Richard Clarke Now

By Byron LaMasters

His testimony before the 9/11 commission is live online on C-SPAN 3. Go here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Barney Frank Speaks

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From CNN...

Speaking in highly personal terms, a gay member of Congress on Tuesday challenged supporters of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, asking "who are we hurting" when homosexuals want to express the same emotional commitment as other Americans.

"All we are saying is, 'Please, can't we in our lives do this?"' said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. "When I go home from today's work and I choose because of my nature to associate with another man, how is that a problem for you? How does that hurt you?"

He drew no immediate reply from Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans supporting the proposed amendment.

Frank's appeal was unusual in Congress, where lawmakers clash vigorously on matters of politics and policy, but seldom refer to their personal lives -- much less sexual orientation -- in an attempt to influence legislation.

I'm glad that Rep. Frank is starting to speak out more on this issue. There is a reason why I beleive it is necessary to have openly gay politicians; becuase when we do face issues like this, the media really has someone to go to that can speak personally on behalf of these issues. That's the entire point of a representational government. Just think, if there were ever laws that came up specifially about Transgendered issues, at the momment, there are not a lot of people to talk on behalf of that issue that are that high up in politics. Therefore, debate is focused on a lot of people talking about an issue without the resource of someone who really is a member or informed about those groups.

Rep. Frank also had a great remark that was tacked on at the end of the article.

"If people decide to allow it, you who do the constitutional amendment will cancel the rights of the people of Massachusetts and I do not think that is an appropriate response to make here," he said. "And certainly not to the threat that millions of people are threatening to commit love."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Funny Wednesdays

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Ok, I havn't hada chance to post anything funny for the past two Mondays. Spring Break is my excuse for one, temporary insanity is my excuse for the other. So to make up for it I share this wonderful little bit of color that is slightly humorous to make up for it. Then you can go back to reading serious political discourse.


I got out early for Anthropology today, so it was interesting to walk around in the middle of the day with no one else seeming to be around on campus. Of course this is intereting to me simply because at UT around noon in the middle of the week, one could not possibly ask for more people moving from class to class.

But that aside, something caught my eye in Waggener Hall, room 109. On the door there are a lot of cartoons and such, but it was a little pie chart for a poll that interested me. It said...

Gen Xers were asked if they were alone on a desert island what one thing would they like to have with them. (or something very close to this)

And the number one answer with 29% was...


Um, does't that kind of defeat the entire point of being alone on a desert island?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Some Thoughts on the VP... Again

By Andrew Dobbs

I'll reiterate a few points I like to make on this subject:

1. Nobody votes for the VP. VPs carry states because they have strong organizations there from years of being elected and people will turn out for them

2. Two Senators on the ticket is not balanced- its a Washington insider ticket. We have a Senator running for President (already a bad move- all of two senators have been directly elected President from the Senate), we ought to have a non Senator for VP imho.

3. Consider the X Factors- being a member of a minority constituency means that that group will probably turn out in record numbers (or so goes the logic, no one has tried it yet). Having a personal fortune means that we can increase our money, etc.

So who do I like? Well, for a long time I've liked Bill Richardson. He won a landslide in New Mexico (check), he is a governor (check) and as an Hispanic he puts Arizona, Colorado and Nevada firmly in play (check check check). Still- his record at the Department of Energy led Sen. Robert Byrd to say that he would never get confirmed by the Senate again- he essentially allowed nuclear secrets to slip into the hands of Chinese spies- a fiasco that cost him the VP spot in 2000. If you don't think that George "Steady Leadership" Bush won't bring that up- you are dead wrong.

Another great choice, I feel, is Mark Warner. He might carry Virginia (though I am not quite sure about that) and could make some other Southern states reachable, he is a governor and most importantly- he's filthy freakin rich. He could pour $50 million or more into the campaign right away and put us on the air nationwide. He's also attractive, moderate and well spoken. Finally, he's term limited (you cannot be reelected as Governor in VA) and so we need to get him on the National scene one way or another. He'd make a great VP and I think Kerry/Warner might be the ticket for 2004.

Finally, let's consider the VP bounce. When the candidate chooses his VP, it invariably increases that candidate’s favorable media coverage which leads to a poll bounce. It’s predictable and if it doesn’t happen, something went wrong. If Kerry picks someone everyone already knows from a year and a half on the campaign trail- i.e. John Edwards or Bob Graham- he loses that bounce. The coverage is- “Look, this is predictable and you know this guy. Feel free to change the channel.” You want someone that needs introducing, that needs an explanation, that intrigues people. People have seen Bill Richardson but we can all see the two minute network news piece now- Congressman, ambassador, peace maker, four time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Secretary of Energy, Hispanic, Governor of New Mexico. It’s a damn fine piece and the bounce would likely be huge. Of course, the nasty stories about the nuclear secrets will be in there too and that could mitigate the bounce some. Mark Warner is good too- Southern, businessman, moderate, education policy, NASCAR strategy, lots of money. Still other candidates would be great too- Mary Landrieu (she violates Rule 2 but could make up for it with lots of cred under Rules 1 and 3), Tom Vilsack, Brad Henry or maybe Madeline Albright (though I think the fact that she is foreign born actually disqualifies her). They are all obscure enough to make people’s ears perk up and give Kerry a bounce. As long as they fulfill these three qualifications, I think that they will make a great VP choice.

Kerry is in an enviable position right now- he is running even with the president and has the entire party behind him heading into the summer and spring. If he makes the right choices now, he could end up winning this thing big in November.

Update: So it seems thate Madeline Albright, born a Czech, is indeed disqualified from serving as Vice President. Someone who doesn't provide regional balance (as he is from Maine) but is highly qualified nonetheless would be William S. Cohen. Republican member of Congress from Maine, Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, his character and qualifications are impeccable and his independence would be intriguing. There's no telling if he'd accept it, but he would create no only a bounce but a shockwave through the race. As a life long Republican and one of the smartest men in America in terms of National Security issues, he could go toe to toe with anybody in this race and would create headlines like no one else. Put me down as a supporter of Kerry/Cohen 2004.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:40 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004

Deny DeLay, Keep Martin Frost

By Byron LaMasters

Check out Martin Frost's BlogAd (left column) and his welcome to the blogosphere. Frost is the second Texas Congressional candidate to use BlogAds (after Morris Meyer) who is running against Republican Joe Barton (I wrote about this race yesterday, here).

Martin Frost was one of Tom DeLay's targets from day one. As a national Democratic Party leader, Martin Frost has long been considered the leader of the Texas Democratic congressional delegation and he's been an effective advocate for the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex for decades. His campaign will be a tough one against Republican incumbent Pete Sessions, but Martin Frost has the unique opportunity to send a strong message to Tom DeLay and to Democrats across the country. Here's Martin Frost's message to bloggers and blog readers:

Welcome Bloggers and Blogreaders

Thanks for taking a moment to click through and read more about me and my campaign to represent the Texas 32nd Congressional District.

Despite Tom DeLay’s outrageous efforts to elect his own handpicked candidate, I can win this election. National Journal’s Congress Daily has recently called this "the most competitive race in the nation."

With your support I WILL win this race. Together we can stop Tom DeLay’s power grab in its tracks.

Please click here to contribute.

Martin Frost

If you're looking for a Democrat to donate to, where you can help send a real message to Tom DeLay, Martin Frost is a great choice. Click here to donate to the Martin Frost campaign.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Texas DNC Members Want Edwards, Richardson for VP

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News interviewed eleven of the thirteen members of the Democratic National Committee from Texas on their choice for John Kerry's Vice Presidential pick, and their favorites are John Edwards followed by Bill Richardson.

Four of the 13 Texans on the committee, which manages the national party's business, chose Mr. Edwards. Three members backed Mr. Richardson, and three more were undecided. Two committee members – Austin's Rosa Walker and Amarillo's Iris Lawrence – did not return phone calls.

One member, former state party Chairman Bob Slagle of Sherman, said he backed Louisiana Sen. John Breaux.

"Breaux might bring Louisiana," Mr. Slagle said. "Right now, it's a tossup."

Others mentioned as backup choices included Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, though he wasn't anyone's first choice.

I'd have to agree with our state DNC members. My first choice for John Kerry's running mate is John Edwards, and my second choice is Bill Richardson. However, my government professor disagrees:

Mr. Edwards was the choice of U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas, a committee member who was an earlier backer of his presidential bid.

Retired Bowie County Judge Ed Miller also said Mr. Edwards would be a good choice, though he wondered: "But can he really deliver a state?"

Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin, doesn't think so.

"He's not going to bring North Carolina electoral votes, though his appeal may energize the party's base," he said.

I agree with Professor Buchanan. John Edwards probably won't deliver North Carolina to the Democratic ticket, but I think that Edwards brings balance to the ticket. Edwards brings regional balance to the ticket, and his presence on the ticket can help significantly in several southern states such as Florida, Virginia, Louisiana and Arkansas. During the primaries, John Edwards appealed to many Independents and conservative Democrats across the country. Edwards can bring in Independents and conservative Democrats (and some Republicans) that may not be entirely comfortable with John Kerry into the Democratic fold. John Edwards is also relatively well known by many Americans. Kerry could pick some lesser known candidate (Evan Bayh, John Breaux, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Warner, etc.) that might be able to deliver a state, but they would be lesser known nationally than someone like John Edwards or Bill Richardson (or Dick Gephardt). While Dick Cheney didn't help deliver any state for George W. Bush, he gave many undecided voters the balance and experience that many voters were looking for. I think that John Edwards could bring youth, vigor, energy and charisma to the Democratic ticket. He'd be a tremendous asset on the campaign trail as we observed throughout the campaign. We'll see.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:15 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

A Reason Not to Live in Houston

By Byron LaMasters

The water there, stinks!

Blasted for its "deplorable" treatment of local residents and feeble attempts to curb air and water pollution, the Port of Houston scored an F in a review released Monday by a nationwide environmental advocacy group. It was the lowest grade given to any of the nation's 10 largest ports.

"There is a severe lack of effort on their part to control their pollution. They had to have a gun to their head to do something about air pollution at their terminals," said Diane Bailey, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which authored the report.

Of the 10 ports surveyed, the Port of Houston -- specifically the 11 publicly owned container terminals operated by the Port of Houston Authority -- ranked worst, with an F. That grade corresponds to a "reckless lack of concern for public health and the environment," according to the NRDC.

Of course, the Houston Port Authority called the study flawed. Flawed or not, I hope that Houston will see this as a wake up call to address some of the problems it has regarding pollution in their port. Or then again, the could just call on Joe Barton to clean up the mess.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Politicial Rumblings in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Charles has some good posts today about some interesting stories developing in Texas elections.

In another sign of Republican discontent with Governor Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison hinted yesterday (to Ann Richards of all people) that she was considering returning home to Texas to run for governor in 2006. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Democratic Gov. Ann Richards don't agree on much.

But they both feel like it's time to return to Texas and get a dog.

For Ms. Hutchison, a longtime senator who has recently adopted two children, returning home could mean taking on Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2006.

On Friday she told more than 200 women gathered at the Women's Museum for a conversation between her and Ms. Richards that she was considering a 2006 campaign for governor.

The comments were yet another indication that she is aiming for the governor's mansion.

In other election news, Henry Cuellar has called for a recount in his 145 vote loss to Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic primary for CD 28. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Henry Cuellar, the Laredo lawyer who narrowly lost to incumbent U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic primary, called for a recount today an hour before the deadline.

“There is a cloud over this election,” Cuellar said at his Laredo campaign headquarters. “I think all of the voters demand a fair election, and that is why I'm requesting a manual recount of all of the votes in all eleven counties.”

Cuellar addressed members of the news media shortly after campaign officials dropped off the recount petition and a cashier's check for $13,930 at state Democratic Party offices in Austin.


District 28 includes 11 counties and runs from Hays County in the north to Zapata County in the south. More than 48,500 votes were cast in the race.

The final canvass by the Texas Democratic Primary on Saturday revealed a 145-vote margin in Rodriguez’s favor.

Because the contest took place during a primary, the Texas Democratic Party will conduct the recount. Recounts arising out of a general election are handled by the Texas secretary of state’s office.

Party officials have two days to review Cuellar’s petition and ensure its accuracy. Once the petition is approved, the recount must begin within seven days, said Jim Boynton, primary director for the Texas Democratic Party.

Each county involved in the recount will be contacted and a time scheduled for the recount. Both Cuellar and Rodriguez have the right to be present with one or more representatives at each recount site, Boynton said.

The recount will likely be completed early next month, before the runoff election on April 13, he said.

This race was an election night squeaker with the final results unknown until the next morning when the Zapata County returns came in, where Cuellar won, but not by a big enough margin to make up for Rodriguez's margin in Bexar County (San Antonio), that had come in late the night before (off-setting an early Cuellar lead based on early Webb County (Laredo) returns). I doubt that the recount will change anything, but you can't really blame Cuellar. When you're 145 votes away from going to Congress, $14,000 doesn't seem like a whole lot of money anymore.

Greg's Opinoin has more speculation on the 2006 elections. Apparently, defeated Congressman Chris Bell is considering running for Attorney General in 2006. There's more from Houston political consultant George Strong. Strong speculates that Chris Bell is considering running for Attorney General in 2006, or possibly joining a John Kerry administration in 2005. Strong also writes on the good signs for this fall for Democrats in Harris County based on a very strong turnout (especially among African-Americans) in the Democratic Primary election there:

Al Green ran a good campaign and had help getting his voters to the polls by the Allen/Wilson race and the campaigns of 15 candidates running for the District Constable 7 race. Those two races combined with the Green/Bell race did get a good turnout in the African-American precincts. Early analysis showed that while only 4% of the Anglo voters in CD 9 turned out almost 10% of the African-American voters showed up. The Gossips think that is a good sign for the fall election.

And it did look like more Democrats voted statewide and in Harris County then did Republicans. The Gossips wonder if that is also a good sign for the fall.

The Gossips were not surprised by Ron Wilson defeat by Alma Allen. Wilson did run a spirited campaign, but not having to run a campaign for many years does cause problems. And Wilson had not done much to communicate with his voters over the years, he was too busy making money as an attorney. Wilson says he will now consider lobbying in Austin and has had several offers. The Gossips think Wilson will be much in demand for his knowledge of the rules. Some folks think Wilson will also look at running for another office in 2006.

I'll stand ready to oppose Ron Wilson in whatever comeback attempt he might make, but I agree with Greg, that such a comeback attempt is probably doubtful.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ralph Nader and Polling

By Byron LaMasters

One of the things that I've noticed in recent polling is that Ralph Nader has taken several points away from John Kerry in several national and state polls. Here are some examples:

The March 18th American Research Group poll for New Hampshire where Ralph Nader's ballot presence increases Bush's lead from two points to six points:

George W. Bush leads John Kerry 45% to 39% in New Hampshire, with Ralph Nader at 8%. Without Nader on the ballot, Bush leads Kerry 47% to 45%

The March 18-19 Newsweek Poll (via PollingReport.com), which shows a dead heat between Bush and Kerry (at 48%), but gives Bush a two point lead (45%-43%) when Ralph Nader is included.

Also on PollingReport.com is a CBS/New York Times poll taken from March 10-14 which gives Bush a three point lead in a matchup against Kerry (46%-43%), but an eight point lead (46%-38%) when Ralph Nader is included in the poll.

A March 21 Zogby Poll shows John Kerry with a two point lead over George W. Bush in a head-to-head matchup (48%-46%), but it shows a dead heat when Ralph Nader is thrown into the mix (46%-46%).

Does anyone see a trend? I do. Perhaps the most insightful statement by a pollster on Ralph Nader's impact in polling for the 2004 Presidential election is done by Rasmussen Reports. They released this statement on why they are not including Ralph Nader in their presidential tracking poll:

Over the past couple of weeks, many people have asked why we're not including Ralph Nader by name in our tracking poll (we do include "some other candidate").

The inquiries have become more intense since a CBS/NY Times poll found that Nader's presence might help President Bush.


These polls have caused some to conclude that Nader will once again play the role of spoiler for the Democratic contender.

We respectfully disagree.

There are two reasons we do not include Nader by name in our polling at this time.

First, it is not at all clear how many state ballots will include Nader this fall. If he is not on the ballot, he is not likely to be much of a factor.

Second, if the national election stays close, Ralph Nader will not attract the 5% to 7% level of support found in several recent polls. Given the experience of four years ago, many potential Nader supporters will ultimately decide to cast their vote for John Kerry.


Therefore, we have concluded that the most accurate measure of the Bush-Kerry race is to leave Nader's name out of the mix.

Having said that, Rasmussen Reports will continue to monitor the situation and consider adding Nader if he is able to obtain ballot access in at least 35-40 states. We will do the same for Libertarian candidates and others who are on that many state ballots.

I agree with Rasmussen Reports. Ralph Nader probably receives some support now from disaffected Dean and Kucinich supporters, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of current Nader supporters will not eventually end up in the Kerry camp. In my view, the best way to acheive this goal is two-fold. First, Dean, Kucinich and other progressive leaders need to come out unequivically for John Kerry. This is happening, and if for no other reason, the lefts distaste for George W. Bush should make this take relatively simple. Second, it is critical that Ralph Nader be denied ballot access in as many states as possible. Some might say that this goal thwarts the democratic process. I disagree. I think that by denying Nader ballot access in the majority of the states, it will be easier to unite the left behind John Kerry. It is clear to me from the polls above that when given the option to vote for Nader, some on the left will do so, however, if people are not given that option, most Nader voters will select John Kerry. Some may say that it shouldn't matter in Texas and other states where the outcome is already effectively decided. I disagree on that count as well. Texas has the earliest ballot signature deadline of any state in the union. If Nader fails to gain ballot access in Texas, the second largest state in the country, it will deal his campaign a major setback. By failing to gain ballot access in Texas, Nader's campaign will lose much of the small amount of relevency that it currently has. I believe that if Nader fails in Texas, his volunteers and supporters in other states will have less incentive to stay involved and active in the campaign. Anyway, the Texas filing deadline for an independent candidate for president is May 10. It requires somewhere in the neighborhood of 65,000 signatures of registered voters who did not vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary elections in March. I think that it's a rather safe bet to say that its unlikely that Ralph Nader will be on the ballot here in Texas.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:39 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

We Know That They Are Lying

By Jim Dallas

As usual, all the TVs in my parents' house were turned on to FOX News yesterday (no, I don't have power over the remote control), and it was one non-stop marathon of Richard Clarke-bashing.

(OK, I think they did talk about the Scott Petersen trial for a few minutes).

The steady march of pundits, politicians, and "analysts" coming up with new and more exciting reasons not to believe Clarke was pretty impressive, as an exercise in political damage control. But while the Bush administration had lots of quantity, they didn't have much quality.

Because it's painfully obvious that Bush's proxies are lying.

I'm not saying Bush's proxies are liars because they're "partisan" or "disgruntled" or "out of the loop," as Clarke may or may not have been.

I am saying they are liars simply because what they are saying is counter-factual and internally-inconsistent.

They are liars not for who they are or who they work for. They are liars because they are not telling the truth.

The Blogger Formerly Known as Calpundit makes this clear:

Look, every bit of evidence indicates that the Bush foreign policy team didn't see foreign terrorism as a top priority before 9/11. What's more, it's hardly plausible that the administration's top counterterrorism guy was "out of the loop" on what was supposedly the administration's biggest counterterrorism initiative. And given his background and his known intensity toward fighting terrorism, it's also unlikely to the point of lunacy to think that if the Bushies had been planning a bigger and far more extensive anti-terrorism program than Clinton's — no more "swatting flies"! — that Clarke would have opposed it. He probably would have been dancing in the streets.

But the Bush apologists can't be happy with simply suggesting that maybe Clarke misinterpreted what he heard, and in any case 9/11 was a wakeup call for all of us, wasn't it? That would be too subtle, too honest, too nuanced for them. Instead, they have to open up the throttle all the way and insist against all evidence that in reality they were working on the mother of all counterterrorism plans before 9/11 but their chief counterterrorism guy wasn't in the loop.

It's really a pretty pathetic performance. The only thing they know how to do is attack and then attack even harder, and look where it gets them: a pile of federal investigations and stories that are spun so ludicrously that even their supporters are probably having trouble swallowing them. You'd think they'd learn eventually.

Atrios links to Moe Blues, who nails it --

So Dick Cheney is making the rounds claiming that Clarke was “out of the loop” in the administration’s counter-terror efforts. Therefore, Clarke doesn’t know what he's talking about and anything he says should be instantly discounted.

It’s amazing that Cheney does not seem to realize what he is actually saying: That the Bush administration’s top expert on terrorism was not consulted about their counter-terrorism efforts. This presents several unpalatable choices:

1. Cheney is lying for political gain. If the public picks up on this, the backlash could be out of all proportion to the damage Cheney is trying to control.

2. The administration deliberately ignored its in-house expert, with September 11 being the result. This eliminates one more scapegoat, since the White House cannot simultaneously blame Clarke for failing to stop 9/11 while claiming he was “out of the loop” on counter-terrorism.

3. Assuming Cheney speaks the truth, it actually bolsters Clarke’s claim to Cassandra-hood. Cut out of the loop, his warnings went nowhere and were ignored. That, too, is pretty damning of the administration.

With Clarke due to testify before the 9/11 Commission, how long will it be before Cheney’s statements are "no longer operative?"

It comes down to this - Richard Clarke might be less than perfect, but we know (prima facie) that the other guys are lying.

Clarke's charges deserve to be dealt with using facts and logic, not slime.

UPDATE: Daschle Agrees!

Now the White House seeks to destroy his reputation. The people around the President aren't answering his allegations; instead, they are trying to use the same tactics they used with Paul O'Neill. They are trying to ridicule Mr. Clarke and destroy his credibility, and create any diversion possible to focus attention away from his serious allegations.

The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people.

The people around the President don't seem to believe that. They have crossed a line -- perhaps several lines -- that no government ought to cross.

We shouldn't fire or demean people for telling the truth. We shouldn't reveal the names of law enforcement officials for political gain. And we shouldn't try to destroy people who are out to make country safer.

I think the people around the President have crossed into dangerous territory. We are seeing abuses of power that cannot be tolerated.

The President needs to put a stop to it, right now. We need to get to the truth, and the President needs to help us do that.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:43 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Generation Gapped

By Jim Dallas

I find the recent Newsweek poll's age-group breakdown fascinating.

According to the poll, Bush leads by 17 points among 30-49 year olds -- but loses every other age group.

Kerry has an 18 point advantage over Bush among senior citizens, a 2 point edge among 50-65 year olds, and a 10 point advantage among 18-29 year olds.

Why are 30-49 year old so freakishly pro-Bush, at least in this poll? Some evidence has suggested that married-with-children types have been leaning more Republican. But this is way beyond a "lean".

(And weren't these guys supposed to be the "hotly contested" Office Park Dads and Soccer Moms?)

Oh well. My guess is that the gap in this age group will steadily narrow.

I'd also note that Kerry's secret of success thus far has been older voters, who vote like its going out of style.

If we can get a cross-generational alliance between the young and the old going, then I think there might be a very favorable turnout dynamic on Election Day.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Generation Gapped

By Jim Dallas

I find the recent Newsweek poll's age-group breakdown fascinating.

According to the poll, Bush leads by 17 points among 30-49 year olds -- but loses every other age group.

Kerry has an 18 point advantage over Bush among senior citizens, a 2 point edge among 50-65 year olds, and a 10 point advantage among 18-29 year olds.

Why are 30-49 year old so freakishly pro-Bush, at least in this poll? Some evidence has suggested that married-with-children types have been leaning more Republican. But this is way beyond a "lean".

(And weren't these guys supposed to be the "hotly contested" Office Park Dads and Soccer Moms?)

Oh well. My guess is that the gap in this age group will steadily narrow.

I'd also note that Kerry's secret of success thus far has been older voters, who vote like its going out of style.

If we can get a cross-generational alliance between the young and the old going, then I think there might be a very favorable turnout dynamic on Election Day.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

State Party Convention Stuff

By Jim Dallas

A few updates on the Houston convention from Houston political veteran Carl Whitmarsh --

  • The Texas Democratic Party State Convention will be held Friday and Saturday, June 18 and 19 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

  • "The headquarters hotel will be the Hyatt-Regency Downtown. Additional information will be forwarded to state delegates by the state party shortly."

  • Carl notes that the "move of the convention site to downtown Houston from previously announced Reliant Park in the Astrodome area was ratified by the entire SDEC at their quarterly meeting in Austin on March 20. But ratification did not come as easily as some had wanted as the finance committee of the SDEC made major modifications in contracts brought before them personally by Party Chair Charles Soechting."

  • Houston Mayor Bill White has turned down an invitation to address the convention. Carl writes that "White had been asked to address the convention but had refused saying that he and his wife were not participating in partisan politics and had not voted in the recent primary." White's non-partisan stance appears motivated by his desire not to threaten consensus government at City Hall.

  • Carl concludes, "[f]or those interested in running for National Delegate at the convention to be held in Boston in late May, remember that you must be elected a delegate to the state convention first. Get ready for a round of good times and party business as Democrats celebrate in Houston.......ride our new light rail and visit the new downtown entertainment district......but most of all, dress light because after all, it is Houston and it is hotter than hell in the summer."

Sounds like fun.

Don't forget to go to your county conventions this weekend.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Dean-Nader debate?

By Jim Dallas

Some Kossacks talk about it, which means it won't happen, but it'd be coo to think about.

This is similar of my suggestion for a Kerry-Nader debate, except that KOS user Ptolemy is a much better strategist than I am.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

Back in Texas

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Yes, I have returned from my trip to Gulf Shores Alabama where the water was clear, the beaches white, and the college boys, well, few in number. Hopefully I'll get back into the grove of things but this next week will be a semi-hectic one since I have two midterms next week and a major paper all on two days.

In addition to that I have been doing a lot of catch up work relating to stepping up to become one of the new co-directors for the GLBTA Affairs Agency here at UT. And then in addition to that I have been coordinating events with the newly formed Austin Coalition for Marriage Equality which will meet again next Monday at 6:30 on the back patio of Spiderhouse (just off Guadalupe around 30th for you progressive Austinites). Hopefully I'll be able to chat about that more in the future as my life is taking me into that arena of activism.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

An Open Letter to Congress

By Jim Dallas

Dear Congress:

I had the absolute pleasure and joy of working on my 1040EZ form today. But, as a taxpayer, I have a few suggestions as to how to make the experience even better next year.

As it stands, my best guess is that I owe the Treasury about $16 in federal income taxes. Personally, I'd prefer to take the government out for a dinner and a movie and call it even. But I guess you guys just don't swing that way.

Meanwhile, I'm owing several hundred dollars in Social Security and Medicare taxes. I don't mind that so much, but as far as I can tell, we'd all be better off if we uncapped Social Security taxes for the rich and then exempted younger workers (say, under 25) from the first $250 in payroll taxes. Why exactly am I subsidizing rich people?

As far as I can tell, the pittance interest on my savings account is just about the only taxable income I have (the rest was all less than the standard deduction). Now, most people I know have a savings account down at the bank.

How about exempting folks from the first $100 of taxable interest, or something like that? Isn't saving supposed to be a good thing?

Finally, I'd note the $574 billion deficit you guys are racking up will be coming out of my paycheck. Cut it out. Please.

May the force be with y'all.


Jim D.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Howard Dean to Officially Endorse John Kerry on Thursday

By Byron LaMasters

Not unexpected, but good news. I think that Howard Dean has handled the process from the suspension of his campaign until now very well. I think that waiting for a little bit, and giving the people that worked so hard a chance to reflect on things for a few weeks is better than turning into a cheerleader for the nominee the very next day (as we saw Wes Clark do). Especially among the hardcore Dean supporters, there has been a concern that some of them may not support the eventual nominee - John Kerry. I think that Howard Dean's approach has helped ensure that the overwhelming vast majority of Dean supporters will wind up wholeheartedly into the Kerry camp. Howard Dean posted about an hour ago on Blog for America:

I don't want to give any of you a heart attack, but I plan to formally endorse John Kerry on Thursday, along with all 34 Congress people who endorsed me during the campaign.

One of the goals of the campaign was to send George Bush back to Texas, and the only person with a chance of doing that is John Kerry. I have spoken with him on numerous occasions. He is committed to universal health care, he has an excellent environmental record, and for that and many other reasons, he is a far better choice for president that the current resident of the White House who apparently (as revealed on Sixty Minutes over the weekend) ignored warnings of the potential of a terrorist attack before 9/11 in addition to costing us 2.3 million jobs!

I any case, I encourage you to support Sen. Kerry, but if you are not ready to do so, I hope you'll put lots of energy into the other two goals: reforming the Democratic Party to nurture it's recent backbone transplant, and making the grassroots stronger to get progressive voices on every school board, county commission, City Council, etc. in the country. Many thanks for all you do!!

When Dean writes that he will be endorsing John Kerry for President, he also mentions that he will do so along with "all 34 Congress people who endorsed me during the campaign". I assume that that includes Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), but it will be interesting to see if Jeffords does endorse Kerry on Thursday. Regardless, good news. I'll look forward to seeing everything that goes down on Thursday.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kerry Gear and some Advice to the Campaign

By Byron LaMasters

I just ordered two John Kerry bumper stickers. I just realized that the campaign will send you up to two for free. Just fill out this form, here. I figure that I'll replace my Lloyd Doggett sticker on my truck with a John Kerry one (as Doggett easily won his primary race). I'll also be buying some Kerry Gear in the next week or two (Kerry Gear is the official John Kerry store). For myself, I'd like one regular John Kerry t-shirt and probably one Real Deal t-shirt and I'll probably get 20-30 bumper stickers to give away to friends. I might order more Kerry shirts (bulk of 10) if there's interest at Wednesday's University Democrats meeting.

I just watched the new John Kerry ad today. I'm not quite sure what to think of it. Sure, it's not bad, and well done in a graphical sense. But I think that the content is lacking. It starts out with a picture of John Kerry in uniform and the narrarator says, "For 35 years John Kerry has fought for his country". Fine, good start, but instead of following this up by laying out a clear vision for what John Kerry would do to defend America and making us more secure, Kerry goes on to offer overly broad generalizations. He says, "We need to get some things done in this country: affordable health care, rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy, really investing in our kids". The narrarator comes back on to say, "John Kerry: the military experience to defend America, a new plan to create jobs...". What exactly is this ad about? I'm not quite sure. The Bush campaign is relentlessly attacking John Kerry for being unprincipled. John Kerry needs to respond, and not in the tit for tat sort of way that he responded in the previous ad. Instead, the Kerry campaign should do two things. First, he should lay out his plans to defend American, create jobs, reduce the deficit, improve the economy, make affordable health care, etc. He should defend his record and lay out his plan. Instead of responding to Bush's attacks, Kerry should lay out his agenda on his terms, not in terms of a response to Bush. Second, Kerry should turn the tables on Bush by pointing out the inconsistencies of the Bush record. Just as John Kerry needs to counter the Bush claim that he is "unprincipled", Kerry needs to refute Bush's own claim that Bush offers "steady leadership in times of change". Kerry should hit hard quickly attacking Bush for his unsteady leadership on multiple issues. Whether it be attacking Bush for his fiscal irresponsibility, his lies about the war in Iraq, his unpreparedness for 9/11 or his interest in creating jobs in India (rather than in America), Kerry needs to define Bush as the unsteady, uncaring and uncompassionate president that he is.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is Joe Barton's Priority?

By Byron LaMasters

Is it protecting the citizens of Ellis County from smog and pollution? Or is it protecting the corporate polluters that generate smog who give money to Barton's campaign?

You know that it's an easy question to answer when the Dallas Morning News (one of the most conservative newspapers of any major city in the nation) decides to take on a powerful Republican such as U.S. Rep Joe Barton (R-Ennis). That's what they did on Saturday. I'd recommend reading the article as a great example of the lengths that Republicans in Congress will go to in order to protect big corporations and polluters who are trying to get around the law and EPA regulations at the expense of the health of children and other citizens in their communities:

.S. Rep. Joe Barton's push to exempt Ellis County from the toughest smog rules could directly benefit two corporations linked to Barton campaign donations – corporations now seeking state permits to boost allowed emissions of smog-causing pollution.

Mr. Barton's effort, if successful, would help cement makers Holcim (U.S.) Inc. and Texas Industries Inc. avoid stricter permit requirements and possibly much higher pollution-control costs that would come if Ellis County is designated a smog-violation area, documents and interviews show.

Mr. Barton, R-Ennis, has been working for at least five months to block that listing, saying it is not scientifically justified or economically sensible. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has backed including Ellis County and its heavy industries, is to decide on nationwide listings by April 15.

The EPA's final ruling will determine whether Holcim and TXI must meet the lesser environmental requirements that now apply in Ellis County or the tougher ones that would come with a smog-violator designation, according to a technical review prepared by the EPA.

The ruling would affect any Ellis County industry that seeks an air-pollution permit in the future.

Although most of Ellis County is rural, it is North Texas' center of heavy industry, accounting for about 40 percent of the region's industrial emissions. Altogether, 94 percent of Ellis County's industrial emissions come from a half-dozen cement, manufacturing, energy or waste-disposal corporations whose political action committees have contributed to Mr. Barton's campaigns, a Dallas Morning News comparison of Texas environmental records and federal campaign files shows.

Their donations to Mr. Barton since the 1998 election cycle total $74,500, according to Federal Election Commission reports. That includes $26,500 in either PAC or individual donations from TXI executives and $6,500 from Holcim's PAC.

Mr. Barton also got $27,500 during that period from cement industry PACs to which Holcim's or TXI's political committees donated.

Joe Barton takes the polluters money, and then he goes to work for them. Morris Meyer, Joe Barton's Democratic opponent put it the best:

Morris Meyer, Mr. Barton's Democratic challenger in the 6th Congressional District, said the incumbent's effort to exempt Ellis County from the toughest smog rules threatens the health of his own constituents and others in North Texas.

"It's a fact that people are dying because our air is an issue," Mr. Meyer said. "Barton will craft this as an economic issue. And it is an economic issue. We are losing jobs. People are losing their lives or their livelihoods.

"I believe that we need to shine the light of day on this problem. Barton believes in closed-door legislation on matters that affect the health of people."

Joe Barton is not only out of the mainstream on this issue in local politics, he is out of the mainstream of the Republican Party. Both Texas government and the federal government are controlled by the Republican Party, and state and federal officials have said that Ellis County belongs on the "nonattainment list" (the EPA classification of an area that is a "smog violation area"). Still, Joe Barton, and his congressional office have done everything in their power to challenge the findings of state and federal officials:

State and federal officials agreed that Ellis County belonged on the nonattainment list partly because the county's big industries emit large amounts of smog-causing emissions and partly because the county's own air quality is teetering between clean and dirty as defined by federal law.

Mr. Barton did not agree. At least as far back as Oct. 27, his aides were asking state officials for information justifying local and state clean-air decisions, and sometimes challenging those decisions and questioning details behind them, copies of e-mails and other state environmental commission documents show. The permits for Holcim and TXI weren't planned to coincide with a federal decision on Ellis County – each permit goes back years earlier – but it turned out that way.

It's time that the 6th district have a new congressman who will fight for clean air and other issues that we care about. Learn more about the Democratic candidate for district 6, Morris Meyer, here. Better yet, donate to his campaign here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Back in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

I made it back home to Austin. That's the good news. The bad news is that my computer in my apartment isn't working. It just will not turn on. Not good. For now, I suppose, I'll just use the computers at the UT computer lab. It's always something.

I really enjoyed the Internet Cafe that I went to three times throughout my New Orleans trip. The cafe was a quaint little coffee shop on Royal Street (one block away from Bourbon St.) in the French Quarter. However, even being in the middle of the French Quarter, it was tucked away into a little courtyard that was relatively calm and peaceful. Yeah, Bourbon Street was fun, too, but it was nice, especially yesterday after I had checked out of the hotel, and my friends had already left (several drove and one had an earlier flight) to go there and spend a relaxing late morning.

Since I was by myself most of the day yesterday, I decided to just walk around awhile. After walking through the French Quarter and Jackson Square, I walked up to the Mississippi and took a stroll along the Moonwalk.

The Moonwalk was named after former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu, best known by many now as the father of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana). During his tenure as mayor from 1970-1978, Moon Landrieu helped create a park and pedestrian walkway along the Mississippi River for the enjoyment of the citizens and tourists of New Orleans. As I walked along the river and read for a little while in the park, I tried to recall what exactly Moon Landrieu accomplished. I thought that he had been involved in the Civil Rights movement, but I wasn't sure what he did. Well, a quick search on him reveals a great deal about his commitment to Civil Rights. He was a leader for Civil Rights in New Orleans:

In 1960 Moon Landrieu was elected by the 12th Ward of New Orleans to the Louisiana State House of Representatives. There he was one of the few white legislators who voted against the "hate bills" of the retreating segregationists which the legislature passed in the effort to thwart the desegregation of public facilities and public schools.

In 1966 Landrieu was elected Councilman-at-large of the New Orleans City Council. In 1969 he led a successful push for a city ordinance outlawing segregation based on race or religion in public accommodations.

Moon Landrieu was elected Mayor of New Orleans in 1970, and reelected in 1974, serving until April of 1978. During his tenure he oversaw desegregation of city government and public facilities.

I probably visited the Moonwalk in New Orleans half a dozen times during my trip, and it makes me grateful that in doing so, I paid tribute to a great Civil Rights leader for Louisiana.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Scott Hochberg: A Profile in Courage

By Andrew Dobbs

I'll never forget the first day I ever worked in the Texas Capitol. I was an intern for State Representative Jim McReynolds (D-Lufkin) and I first met him when I went to lunch at the Capitol Grille with his legislative aide. As we ate, Rep. Scott Hochberg, a Democrat out of Houston, came to join us. Hochberg is an expert in school finance and as he and Jim talked about the problems facing Texas schools it quickly dawned on me that this chit chat wasn't just some idle banter- that these men actually had a say in how our school finance worked. It was then that the real power of politics became apparent to me- the power to actually do something about the things everyone else just talks about.

Well, Hochberg had a masterful op ed piece in Saturday's Houston Chronicle discussing the ins and outs of school finance. The piece is remarkable because Hochberg manages to do something very rare in politics- to put aside all of the demagoguery and conventional wisdom and sloganeering and cut right to the facts of the matter. Hochberg isn't liberal or conservative in this piece, he's honest with Texas taxpayers as to what challenges face us right now:

What started with bold pronouncements to “drive a stake through the heart” of the “Robin Hood” system of public school finance in Texas has deteriorated into closed-door discussions among state leaders about whether to do anything at all. That is because, despite all the rhetoric, Robin Hood is not the real problem with the way we finance our schools.

Robin Hood is a scapegoat for school district boundaries that separate large industrial plants from the schools their workers’ children attend, or that isolate million-dollar homes from schools educating the populations around them. Some district lines are accidents of history. Others were intentionally drawn to create property tax breaks for special interests. One way or another, it’s not Robin’s fault.

Robin Hood is also the scapegoat for the state not maintaining its share of school funding. Most of the growth in appraisals that homeowners have experienced has been used to reduce the state’s share of school funding, not to increase school budgets. Now schools need more money and taxpayers need relief, but there’s nothing left in state coffers. If your car stops running because you didn’t buy gas, don’t blame the car.

Robin Hood is even a convenient scapegoat for school districts. Robin Hood has been blamed so many times for district budget problems that many taxpayers believe their Houston Independent School District taxes are being sent to some other district.

They aren’t. HISD is one of the 889 districts that receives money from the state. Only 132 districts, with less than 12 percent of the state’s public school students, give up any money raised locally.

Sure, those 132 districts want to keep all the property taxes they raise. And the leadership in Austin desperately wants to let them do that, because it is great politics. But even after they make their Robin Hood payments, those districts have at least $600 more to spend on each comparable student than does HISD or any of the other districts receiving state funds. That’s already a huge advantage in hiring teachers, setting class sizes and offering programs.

Eliminate Robin Hood payments by those districts, as some have recommended, and their advantage, on average, goes up to $2,600 per student, at a cost to the rest of us of $1 billion per year. Some solution!

I'd quote more, but read the article yourself, he proposes a solution where the state would create a trust to put all the education financing money- local and state taxes- and divy it up per student, taking special circumstances into account, so that there is real equity with a more workable solution. It might just be the Democratic response we've been needing and it comes from the source we all knew it would- one of the smartest guys in the House.

The reason this is so brave is that Hochberg is not from a safe district by any means. His district is just about straight down the middle- it was about 51-49 in every statewide race and went for Ron Kirk, John Sharp and David Bernsen but also for Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, Carole Rylander and Michael Williams. Hochberg won his district with only 54% and he has tough opposition again this year. For him to come out and tell his constituents, most of whom have been whipped up into an anti-Robin Hood furor by dishonest politicians (on both sides of the aisle, I am wont to point out), that Robin Hood isn't really that bad and that the problem is that, frankly, we probably don't pay enough taxes for the schools we want is pretty gutsy. I tip my hat to Hochberg.

Why don't we all tip him a little- donate to his campaign and keep this voice of reason in the Texas House. Be sure to add $0.36 to the total so we can keep track of the BOR donations. Texas is lucky to have Scott Hochberg and let's keep him right where he's at.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 21, 2004

Upsets Abound; Texas to face Xavier Friday.

By Jim Dallas

Three cheers for UAB, who knocked off Kentucky 76-75.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sweet 16, Baby!

By Byron LaMasters

We're there again!

After a stingy defensive effort in a 66-49 victory over Princeton in round one of the 2004 NCAA Tournament on Thursday, No. 12 Texas' (25-7) offense shined in the Longhorns' 78-75 second-round win over No. 18 North Carolina (19-11) on Saturday in Denver's Pepsi Center. The victory sends UT to the NCAA "Sweet 16" for the third year in a row. Texas will play the winner of Sunday's Mississippi State-Xavier game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Friday, March 26 at a time to be determined.

I was able to catch the last five minutes of the game at this restaurant in the French Quarter. Beating UNC is, well, pretty cool.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:29 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

Endorsements for Sale?

By Byron LaMasters

State Representative Ray Allen (R - Grand Prairie) sent out an endorsement letter to congressional district 10 voters urging them to support Ben Streusand in the March 9th Republican primary election for Congress. No problem with that. But what's bizarre about the letter is that a month earlier, the Streusand campaign had paid Allen a $2500 consulting fee. It's one thing if Allen writes a letter to voters in the Streusand district. It's another if he does paid consulting work for a candidate. But as an elected official, it certainly looks a little odd when he does both. I guess we now know how much an endorsement from Ray Allen costs.

The Dallas Morning News reports:

On Jan. 29, federal campaign records show, Mr. Streusand's campaign paid a $2,500 consulting fee to Rep. Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie, which Mr. Allen said Friday was for advice and written material he provided on the issues of guns and abortion.

Just before the March 9 primary, Mr. Allen wrote a direct-mail letter supporting Mr. Streusand.

The letter from Mr. Allen, under the salutation "Dear Friend of the Unborn," noted Mr. McCaul's endorsement by the Austin American-Statesman.

"This ultra-liberal newspaper has a consistent record of supporting liberal positions and politicians when it comes to pro-family, pro-life issues," Mr. Allen wrote, "... In other words, they support him precisely because they believe he will compromise on our issues, that his pro-life campaign convictions will be negotiable. ..."

In the letter, Mr. Allen recounted his authorship of a successful bill in the 2003 regular session of the Legislature to create criminal and civil penalties for those who cause the death of the unborn. He called Mr. Streusand "pro-life to the core of his being."

Mr. McCaul's campaign said he's a strong abortion opponent and that Mr. Allen shouldn't have used his office to identify himself on the direct-mail letterhead.

"I have never met Mr. Allen, but I find it curious and troubling that he failed to disclose his consulting arrangement while using the stature of his elected office," Mr. McCaul said.

Fortunately, there's a strong Democratic candidate running against Ray Allen, and his pay-to-play tactics. The district leans Republican, but it is about 45% Democratic. A good Democrat who can convince new voters to come out and who can get some crossover Independent voters can win in this district. I've met the Democratic candidate, Katy Hubener. She's a strong, hardworking candidate who has been stumping all across the district in southwest Dallas County. You check out her website, here. I'll have to talk to her about setting up an online contribution form. I'll write more about the race soon. This race is probably the best pick-up opportunity for Democrats in State House races in Dallas County (the county currently has 6 Democratic State Reps, and 10 Republican State Reps, despite the fact that the county is nearly divided 50-50% in Democratic versus Republican performance).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Who's the Real Republican in TX-10?

By Byron LaMasters

In the new congressional district 10 where Austin is linked to Katy in a snake of a district, you might be confused (especially if you're seeing the ads in the Austin and Houston media markets) that there's two Democrats running in the Republican run-off for the open seat. Ben Streusand is attacking Michael McCaul of working for Democrats in the past, and McCaul is attacking Streusand for giving money to Democrats in the past. Personally, I don't care who wins. Despite the attack ads, both seem to be equally right-wing in their philosophy, and I'd be shocked if either would answer to anyone but Tom DeLay while in Congress (after all, he's the reason one of them will be my next congressman). The Austin American Statesman reports on the latest:

Streusand's new 15-second commercials are aimed at questioning McCaul's Republican credentials, despite the fact that McCaul is backed by Bush and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

"Mike McCaul worked for liberal Democrat, Attorney General Jim Mattox," one of the ads says.

McCaul, then a recent law school graduate, worked in the Texas attorney general's office as a nonpolitical hire from 1987 to 1990.


Streusand defended the commercial, saying, "I think when you've spent half your career working for Democrats, it's hard to escape a logical conclusion that the time you spend working for Democrats indicates an affiliation with the philosophy of the Democrat Party."

Another new Streusand ad, in a reference to McCaul's stint as a federal prosecutor, says, "McCaul worked for Bill Clinton and Janet Reno for six years, and Reno picked McCaul to defend her actions at Waco."

As a federal prosecutor, McCaul was a nonpolitical hire who worked under two Republican and one Democratic president.


A third new Streusand ad shows a photo of Johnny Chung, who pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to Democrats, including the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996.

The ad says, "This Chinese agent illegally funneled $30,000 to Clinton's campaign. McCaul got him off with just five years' probation."

Chung also pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

McCaul said the ad makes it look as if he was Chung's defense lawyer when he was the lead prosecutor in the case.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Chung faced 12 to 18 months in prison. McCaul said he made no sentencing recommendation in the case.

McCaul said Chung earned the reduced sentence because he provided crucial information linking top Chinese intelligence officials to contributions to Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign.


A new McCaul commercial questions Streusand's GOP credentials by noting his contributions to former U.S. Rep. Ken Bentsen, D-Houston, ($500) and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Krueger ($1,750), who was defeated in a 1993 special election by Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison.

The ad, which does not mention the more than $500,000 Streusand has given to Republicans, says Streusand gave money to "liberal Democrat Bob Krueger to help Ted Kennedy control the U.S. Senate."

Streusand said Friday that his donations to Bentsen and Krueger "were business-related at the time."

Sigh. At least Lloyd Doggett's district is only a block away. If I need anything from a congressman, I'll still send my letters his way.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:26 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

Frost Gaining Ground in CD-32 Matchup

By Byron LaMasters

I've always been a big fan of Martin Frost. He was one of the Democratic Congressmen targeted by Tom DeLay in the Texas Congressional redistricting plan. I attended his campaign announcement in January. He decided to run in the new 32nd district which is anchored in north Dallas, but includes several suburbs, parts of west Dallas and parts of north Oak Cliff. It's a tough district, but Martin Frost is a smart, tough campaigner, and he's got a shot. Congressional Quarterly recently upgraded Frost's chances against Sessions from "Republican Favored" to "Leans Republican". The New York Times reports:

When the dust settled on the Republican congressional remapping of Texas last fall, Democrat Martin Frost looked like a goner.

His constituency dissipated among five other House districts, Frost was left with no appealing place to run for a 14th term this year. Ultimately he chose the reconfigured 32nd District, which has a strong Republican lean and many residents who have never known him as their congressman.

But elections are not only about numbers; candidate quality counts, too. And Frost -- a former chairman of both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Democratic Caucus -- brings considerable assets to his underdog candidacy, including an impressive intellect, ample political savvy, bulldog intensity and strong fundraising skills.

And he seems to be staging an increasingly competitive bid in the north Dallas suburbs, where a lesser Democrat would have little chance. On top of all its demographic advantages, the GOP is fielding as its candidate Pete Sessions, a Republican with eight years' experience in the House.


The intensity of Frost's campaign in recent weeks has led Congressional Quarterly to now rate the contest as Leans Republican, meaning Sessions appears to have an edge but the race could go either way. CQ had rated it Republican Favored, which meant a Frost win would be a major upset.

Read the entire article for more. Martin Frost was targeted from day one of Tom DeLay's redistricting ploy. If Martin Frost can defeat an incumbent Republican congressman, we can really send a message to Tom DeLay. If you are able to help out, contribute to Martin Frost today.

Update: Yesterday, the National Journal wrote this about the race:

"Texas 32: Thirteen-term Democratic Rep. Martin Frost and four-term Republican Rep. Pete Sessions are already slugging their way to the general. This battle symbolizes the culmination of partisan hatred over the redistricting battle and will be the most competitive in the nation."

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:51 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Hello from New Orleans

By Byron LaMasters

I'm writing this from deep in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. I'm at the Royal Access Internet Cafe a block away from Bourbon Street. It's been a good trip so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I have 50 minutes left in my session, so I'll probably go ahead and post something here in a little bit.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Other Political News from Deep in the Heart of Texas

By Andrew Dobbs

While I am honored to be a primary source of news for someone, realize that we are only 4 college kids (well, 3 college kids and 1 substitute teacher) doing our best to interpret the news of the day. Keep coming here for some incisive commentary on the news of the day, but for some great political news, check out the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which is by far the best daily in the state, the Austin Chronicle is a great weekly general political source, the Texas Observer is always good and is following the Tomstown story really well and if you want to pay the Quorum Report and Texas Weekly are what all the pros read. Also, remember to give Off the Kuff your traffic too! Keep up with all that and you'll probably be alright...

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tomstown: A Primer

By Andrew Dobbs

Well, I had no idea how important our little outpost here in the nether regions of the blogosphere really was to some people. I get an email today from a political hack buddy of mine and he berated me for not talking more about the Tom Craddick scandal because many of his Austin friends get all of their Texas news from us and we had dropped the ball- they had no idea that our illustrious speaker might very well be indicted in the near future. I suppose because I spend so much time looking at this stuff at work I get desensitized to how important and how obscure some of this stuff is. As a service to all of you who do not know the details, I am putting together this introduction to the scandal now being called "Tomstown."

The scandal's name is a play on the legendary real estate scandal that brought down the House Speaker, Attorney General and dozens of State House members in the early 1970s known as "Sharpstown" involving the first name of both the main culprits- Tom Craddick and Tom DeLay. The best introduction to this scandal was in this week's Austin Chronicle. As they explain:

The Tomstown Scandal refers to a series of grand jury investigations and lawsuits – and propaganda barrages and mudslinging – spawned during the execution of the Toms' strategy of conquest. The two main groups whose activities are under scrutiny are the Texas Association of Business, a pro-GOP group with connections to both Toms, and the Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, created by DeLay to secure GOP control of the Texas Legislature. Both groups are accused of violating Texas election law during the 2002 state elections – into which TAB and TRMPAC poured around $4.5 million – and during Craddick's subsequent campaign to become speaker of the house. (..)

The Election Code (Chapters 253 and 254) does forbid 1) contributions by corporations or labor unions to political campaigns (a provision that dates back nearly 100 years); 2) "coordination" between corporate-funded efforts and political candidates; and 3) campaign expenditures that are unreported to the TEC. The Tomstown Scandal involves alleged violations of all three areas of the law, as well as of the "Speaker Statute" – a law passed in the wake of Sharpstown that forbids speaker candidates from exchanging "anything of value" in return for pledges of support from House members. Investigators are now reviewing the records of Craddick, his predecessor Pete Laney, and other 2002 speaker candidates, following allegations of irregularities by PACs in the speaker campaigns. (...)

The money rolled in, and the money flowed out. By law, corporate money can only be used in Texas campaigns for "administrative overhead" – office rent, utilities, supplies, and other basic expenses that would be necessary in any business. Apparently, TRMPAC either decided to ignore those restrictions or to redefine "overhead" to mean all expenses not directly spent on specific campaigns. So corporate cash paid for polling, fundraising, telemarketing, and salaries for Colyandro and others. More than $100,000 in soft money went to political "consultants," including Robold, Susan Lilly, Kevin Brannon, telemarketing firm Contact America, and even DeLay's daughter Danielle Ferro (of Coastal Consulting of Sugar Land). Those expenditures were not disclosed to the state Ethics Commission.

Meanwhile, the TAB's own public relations contractor, Chuck McDonald, says he was occasionally uncertain whom to bill for those nonpolitical "voter education" mailers; both Colyandro and Mike Toomey consulted with Hammond and McDonald about the nature and targets of the TAB ads, suggesting illegal coordination to critics and investigators. But "communication," says TAB lawyer Andy Taylor, "is not coordination."

Also intriguing is the $190,000 in corporate money that TRMPAC donated to the Republican National Committee in September of 2002. Two weeks later, the RNC obligingly donated the identical sum to a handful of Texas candidates. Laundering of corporate dollars? "Coincidence," say the TRMPAC lawyers. It appears, however, that TRMPAC provided a blank check to Jim Ellis for the RNC, with the precise amount to be determined later – and it just happened to total $190,000.

But wait, there's more. Funds totaling $152,000 from the Union Pacific railroad's PAC – by agreement with TRMPAC – were distributed to Texas House candidates either by Craddick himself or by his staff. This revelation piqued interest into whether Craddick had exchanged cash for support of his speaker's race, in direct violation of the speaker's statute. (...)

Travis Co. District Attorney Ronnie Earle began investigating the TAB campaign when the group started bragging about its victories in those legislative races in which it supposedly stood by, innocently "educating" voters, which prompted the defeated Democrats' lawsuits. Meanwhile, Texans for Public Justice reviewed TRMPAC's state filings and discovered that they didn't match its IRS filings – particularly in the matter of corporate donations and expenditures – thus suggesting misdeeds similar to, and linked to, those of the TAB. Common Cause, Public Citizen, and the Texas Consumer Association all weighed in, asking the authorities to investigate what they called "numerous, admitted, and blatant criminal violations of state campaign finance laws."

After a year's worth of investigation, it's likely that Earle, Cox, and the grand jury will hand down indictments of at least a few players, but that still may be months away. In the meantime, the civil suits methodically proceed. On Friday, the TRMPAC trial was postponed from March 29 until the summer. Defendant Jim Ellis is expected to contest being forced to return to Austin from D.C., where he officially resides, for that trial.

That's a lot of text I know, and it seems kind of boring but it is pretty explosive. Texas banned corporate political donations more than a century ago and banned trading speaker votes for money after the previous huge Austin scandal in the 70s. Tom DeLay's PAC joined with TAB, essentially a GOP front group, and laundered corporate cash in various ways to send out millions of dollars to GOP candidates across the state. Tom Craddick personally handed out huge checks from railroad companies in return for speaker votes (somewhere, Jim Hogg is rolling in his grave). These two things are big no nos and someone will go to jail for them.

What remains to be seen is if the Toms themselves will go down or if someone a little lower level will take the fall. Smart money is on the latter, but this kind of scandal is the sort of thing that brings down big name politicians. While it is still confusing, the image of Tom Craddick heeling around the capitol handing out huge checks with a wink and a grin like some kind of Machine Boss is one that will stick in people's minds. The scandal boils down to taking (and using the RNC to launder) illegal money and then trading that money for votes. Expect this story to get even bigger very soon.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:21 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

I was asked to note...

By Jim Dallas

That there will be a March for Women on April 25th in Washington DC, which of course will be a good opportunity to speak out against the anti-woman agenda of the Bush administration. It's being sponsored by the NOW, ACLU, Feminist Majority, NARAL, et. al.

And for what it's worth, I hear there'll be chicks there, too. (j/k)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

We Rule (The Internet)!

By Jim Dallas

CNN reports on a GWU study which purports to show that Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 among "online political citizens."

It wasn't too long ago that Mike Huben joked that "Libertarianism 'rules' Internet political debate the same way US Communism "ruled" pamphleteering."

But not anymore.

Haha, take that, Libertarians!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Vote Straight Infidel -- Or Else!

By Jim Dallas

DailyKOS points us to a Reuter's report on a letter allegedly from Al Qaeda terrorists:


The statement said it supported President Bush... in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry..., as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

The group said its cells were ready for another attack and time was running out for allies of the United States.

While KOS (and no doubt the Faux News B.S. Brigade) will join a futile spin war over what this means, I think there are some other parts of the letter which are more telling. Specifically:

"The Spanish people... chose peace by choosing the party that was against the alliance with America," the statement said.

Note that if this letter really is from terrorists, the terrorists apparently have received exactly the same talking points memo that the conservative pundits have been reading off of -- that the Spanish people are "appeasers" and "the terrorists won."

Bill O'Reilly:

Al Qaeda loves this -- it's goal is to isolate America. Many people in Europe are socialists, and they believe that capitalist America is worse than Al Qaeda. That crazy view has taken deep root.

So the U.S.A. cannot count on much support from Europe, and that puts President Bush in a difficult position.

The Bush doctrine is to take the fight to the terrorists. Now, with the capitulation of Spain, America has one less fighting partner....

...Al Qaeda is the most dangerous threat to you and your family. The actions of Spain over the weekend have given Al Qaeda's thugs a resounding victory.

No doubt, the purported Qaeda letter merely validates O'Reilly's theory, and that's the problem.

The argument advanced by Bill O'Reilly and other Bush surrogates has had the devastating effect of legitimizing Al Qaeda, declaring the terrorists the "victors", and alienating the Spanish by ignoring their legitimate concerns about their outgoing government's mendacity. And apparently, the conservative punditry has been willing to concede victory to bin Laden without any forethought about the best interests of the United States of America.

This is an abomination on its face, and it saddens me that there has not been a widespread recognition among Americans that we are being had.

We are being told that we live in a world dominated by a zero-sum game between the Bushists and the terrorists. Either Bush and his "coalition of the billing" buddies win, or the terrorists win. This makes sense in the pseudo-logic of the right-wing, which views itself as the only legitimate defender of Western civilization locked in struggle against all those who would undo the West - whether they be Al-Qaeda, Democrats, or Janet Jackson's breast. Likewise, many terrorist groups, like Al-Qaeda, are playing this dynamic to strengthen their own claim that they are the true defenders of Islam. What you have are two groups rushing head-long into a class of civilizations that need not be.

What we need are not prophets of doom, but courageous leaders who govern honestly, efficiently, and openly. This is the "blaphemy" the purported Qaeda letter is talking about.

And that, my fellow Democrat infidels, is the blasphemy that we offer America today.

POSTSCRIPT: Daria G. says in the KOS comment thread, "This cannot be allowed to influence our election. Don't let it affect your vote."

And she is exactly right. It should be noted that this could be an exercise in reverse psychology (the immediate response being "well, the terrorists really want you to vote for Kerry, because they hate Bush so much."). Or it could be reverse-reverse psychology. I am reminded of the glass-switching scene from The Princess Bride:

You only THINK I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses while your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell for one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha -" (Vizzini drops dead.)

The point of posting this is to point out the bigger point - that our world is bigger than an "us versus them" worldview allows. We are not choosing between Bush and Al Qaeda in the election; we are choosing between a Republican and a Democrat (and for some, perhaps an Independent). We will be choosing an American to lead America, just as the Spanish elected PM-elect Zapatero to lead Spain. The Spanish election, just like ours, was not a referendum on Qaeda, but a referendum on the merits of the Partido Popular and the PSOE.

For insisting that elections are about "their wants" (e.g. the terrorists) and not about "our wants", the punditry has done a grave disservice to democracy, in addition to the immediate goal of legitimizing terrorism. We need to be writing our own script, not reading off of the terrorists'.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:42 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Texas GOP Fissures Developing

By Andrew Dobbs

From my hometown newspaper, the Allen American:

Commissioners oppose Perry's tax plan

County Judge Ron Harris said the court stands behind local control and is concerned about the potential financial impact Perry's plan might have.

"We feel the vast number of Texas cities have been very prudent," said Harris. "We have to face citizens for re-election. They've got the last say anyway." (...)

County Administrator Bill Bilyeu said county officials are concerned that if the proposal is adopted, they would not be able to expand services enough to provide for a rapidly growing population because the rate set by the Legislature might be less than the growth.

"It's a cap on how much your operating budget can go up, regardless of how many new people moved in, new homes, mandates," Bilyeu said. (...)

"I maintain what brought school financing to a head is not really the taxes," Harris said. "It is the fact it's hit the cap ... It's just not good policy to handicap local governments. You'll have to make some cuts. The first thing that will be cut is your infrastructure."

Counties must maintain jails and courts. In cities, residents want their children to get the right education, and they want police and fire service and their trash picked up, he said.

"We have to pay for what we get," Harris said.

When Rick Perry has Republican electeds in one of the most Republican counties in America kicking him in the ass over his tax plan, things aren't going well. The GOP is still very strong but the first hints of fissures between local and statewide electeds and the existing divide between business conservatives and religious conservatives as well as the gathering scandals spell trouble down the line for the GOP. We have to be proactive in taking advantage of all of this and we must be in a strong position to replace them, but I'm becoming more and more optimistic.

One last line that troubled me in this article:

County residents seem happy with the commissioners' court. Two of its members, Commissioners Phyllis Cole and Joe Jaynes, received more than 60 percent of the vote for re-election in last week's primary.

No Democrats filed to run for commissioner.

I don't think that a Democrat could get elected to any partisan office in Collin County right now but we won't know for sure until we actually run some. I met one guy (his name escapes me, but I think he reads us so if he could post it in the Comments...) who is with the Progressive-Populist Caucus and ran, as a 24 year old, for City Council in Plano- Ground Zero for Suburban Conservativism in Texas. He ran on a pro-tax, liberal platform and lost but got 35% of the vote simply by speaking openly about his ideals and his plans for Plano. That's about 10 points higher than we usually do in that area and suburban turnout like that in statewide races might just win us some races. Collin County Democrats (which I used to be) need someone on the ballot to vote for and our message needs to get out there and it never will until we run someone for those offices. Its time for us to get serious about winning races and that will only happen when we have Democrats running in every single race.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Still Not Orange...

By Andrew Dobbs

So one of our two closest allies in the War in Iraq falls victim to a horrendous terrorist attack and still no actions have been taken by our government to heighten security here. Why not just nudge it up to Orange? I mean, if these alerts mean anything what is a better warning sign than an actual terrorist attack. Shut up about "chatter"- the terrorists are alive, kicking and ready to kill. We need to step up our security or we will fall victim to another attack. Mr. President- raise the threat level to Orange.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:05 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Bush Administration Protecting Jobs... in India

By Byron LaMasters

The New York Times reports:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, encountering the other side of a tempestuous debate in the United States, sought to assure Indians on Tuesday that the Bush administration would not try to halt the outsourcing of high-technology jobs to their country.

In discussions with Indian leaders and college students, Mr. Powell found that the issue of the transfer of American jobs to India by leading technology companies was as emotional in India as in the United States.

But whereas American politicians have deplored the loss of such jobs, it was clear that the anxiety in India focuses on threats by some members of Congress to try to stop the transfer by legislation.

Responding to a questioner in a session with students who asked if he supported or opposed outsourcing, Mr. Powell said: "Outsourcing is a natural effect of the global economic system and the rise of the Internet and broadband communications. You're not going to eliminate outsourcing; but, at the same time, when you outsource jobs it becomes a political issue in anybody's country."

One of the jobs of the president is to help create and preserve good jobs in America. Colin Powell may bee reassuring the Indians that their jobs will remain safe, but the Bush adminnistration is doing nothing to reassure American high-tech workers that their jobs will remain secure.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Orleans

By Byron LaMasters

I'm headed to New Orleans this morning. I'll be back on Sunday. Andrew and Jim should be posting more over the next few days to fill in (or at least I hope that they do *nudge, nudge*). I'll probably stop in at an Internet Cafe that I looked up in the French Quarter to check on things once or twice, but I'll try to resist the temptation to blog too much, and enjoy my Spring Break. I look forward to returning refreshed and ready for the final stretch of the semester.

Update: Today is turning out pretty well so far. I'm writing this from the DFW airport. American Airlines overbooked my flight, so I volunteered to take a flight three hours later in exchange for a $200 travel voucher. I guess I'll have to make some travel plans for this summer....

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:11 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Who won the Spanish Elections?

By Byron LaMasters

The American right-wing would try to make you believe that the terrorists won. A brief browsing of Town Hall.com or any other conservative news site is filled with articles such as "A Win for Terror", "Blame Spain for Next Terror Attack", and "The Bin Laden Vote". And then Owen Courreges writes that "The Spanish are cowards who allow themselves to be manipulated by murderous terrorists". Is this the best the right-wing can do? Go around and fume that any election victory for a leftist or center-left government for one of our allies means that they have succumbed to Al-Queda? Is it not possible, perhaps, that there is not more to the story?

When I posted on the election the other day, I received the same type of comments in my comment thread... "it was only a good day for terrorists", "I can think of NOTHING more corrosive of democracy", etc. I stand by my post. I probably should have been a little bit more clear about why I think that the election results are good, not only for Spain, but for the world community. That's what I'll elaborate on here.

First, the Aznar government completely botched the 3/11 terrorist attack. Instead of admitting that the government had failed to adequately protect its citizens from a terrorist strike by what is most likely to be al Qaeda, the Aznar government attempted to blame the strike on the Basque separatist group ETA. Blaming the attacks on ETA was politically expedient for the Aznar government. Its much easier to blame a separatist group than to take responsibility for being unprepared for the attack of a worldwide terror organization. The Washington Post reports:

In the first frantic hours after coordinated bomb blasts ripped through several packed commuter trains Thursday morning, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar undertook an intense campaign to convince the Spanish public and world opinion-makers that the Basque separatist group ETA had carried out the attacks, which killed 201 people and wounded more than 1,500.

Beginning immediately after the blasts, Aznar and other officials telephoned journalists, stressing ETA's responsibility and dismissing speculation that Islamic extremists might be involved. Spanish diplomats pushed a hastily drafted resolution blaming ETA through the U.N. Security Council. At an afternoon news conference, when a reporter suggested the possibility of an al Qaeda connection, the interior minister, Angel Acebes, angrily denounced it as "a miserable attempt to disrupt information and confuse people."

"There is no doubt that ETA is responsible," Acebes said.

Within days, that assertion was in tatters, and with it the reputation and fortunes of the ruling party. Suspicion that the government manipulated information -- blaming ETA in order to divert any possible link between the bombings and Aznar's unpopular support for the war in Iraq -- helped fuel the upset victory of the Socialist Workers' Party in Sunday's elections. By then, Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda had become the focus of the investigation.


Immediately after Thursday's bombings, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio telephoned her British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, to say that it was ETA, according to a British official, who added, "We had no independent evidence of our own that the Spanish were wrong." Less than two hours later, Straw was on television saying, "It looks to be an ETA terrorist outrage, and that is the information we've received from Madrid."

At the same time, the Spanish Foreign Ministry was sending instructions to its embassies, saying diplomats "should use any opportunity to confirm ETA's responsibility for these brutal attacks," according to a copy of the letter published in the Spanish daily El Pais. Spanish officials have confirmed that the instructions went out, but said they were only for "guidance."


in Madrid, radio stations were referring to "the ETA attacks" and carried none of the discussion about whether others might have been involved.

Managing the coverage of the disaster became a priority for the government, which contacted both the Spanish and international news media, stressing the official line that the bombings were the work of ETA.

El Pais, which was preparing a special edition on the attacks, received several calls directly from Aznar, its reporters confirmed. The editor of the Catalan-based paper El Periodico said Aznar called twice. Aznar "courteously cautioned me not to be mistaken. ETA was responsible," the editor, Antonio Franco, wrote in an editorial Tuesday. At a news conference on Friday, Aznar said he had called several newspapers, saying he wanted to explain the government's view.


On Saturday night -- hours before the polls opened -- the government announced the arrests of three Moroccans and two Indians, and the discovery of a videotape from a purported al Qaeda official asserting responsibility for the attacks. Thousands of Spaniards responded by taking to the streets, banging pots and pans in protests and denouncing the government.

That voter anger swept the Socialists back to power for the first time in eight years.

It's probably best to read the entire article in this morning's Washington Post. It is quite deliberate in laying out the actions of the Spanish government in trying to prevent disclosure of possible al Queda links to the attacks, and place the entirety of the blame on ETA without cause. The Aznar government deceived the Spanish people, and the voters responded. That is, as I wrote, "very good news". Anytime that a government that deliberately deceives its people on matters as important as this - their defeat is "very good news".

Second, not only did the Spanish voters respond their government's attempts to deceive them, but they responded in record numbers. The Spanish election was not a victory for terrorists. In fact, it was an example of the democratic process. The Spanish turnout saw an enormous voter turnout with millions of new voters:

Spanish voters came out in much larger than usual numbers, with a voter turnout as high as 77 per cent. Socialists who were thought to have stayed home last time came pouring out to teach the government a lesson. Particularly significant were the 2 million first-time voters, most believed to have voted Socialist. The election turned out to be a robust exercise in democracy.

How can the terrorists win when millions of new people are brought into a democratic political process? I don't get it.

Finally, the election of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will be good for pushing the timetable forward in Iraq. As Paul Krugman writes, Zapatero's "most intimate priority" is to "fight terrorism". If Zapatero just pulls Spanish troops out of Iraq immediately, that would be unfortunate. However, Zapatero also has a unique opportunity to use his leverage to influence the United States to further internationalize the situation in Iraq. Such pressure could help legitimize in the minds of the Iraqi people the process towards democracy in that country and lessen the burden on the American troops now in Iraq. The New York Times editorialized on this very idea, yesterday:

The Socialists, under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ran on a platform of withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq unless a United Nations-led force takes charge after June 30. Mr. Zapatero now has an opportunity to use his new mandate to pressure Washington to seek U.N. help. The Bush administration has already learned it needs the United Nations. That, like the defeat of Mr. Bush's allies in Spain, should help the president to realize what it really takes to win a permanent international war against violent outlaws like Al Qaeda. The peaceful nations of the world are all in this together, and they must work as partners.

Mr. Zapatero, for his part, cannot view his victory as a mandate for isolationism, an option that is simply not available to any member of the European Union. It is instead a summons to join Europe and the United States in the kind of intense and broadly based cooperation that can provide the most sustained and effective answer to the tragedy of Madrid.

Agreed. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction of blaming the terrorists for the Spanish election results, lets look at the results as an opportunity to continue the war on terrorism with a greater emphasis on cooperation with the world community.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:01 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

From the Department of "Huh?"

By Jim Dallas

I'm doing research on ADA scores. One of the more interesting uses of ADA scores is discussed by conservative blogger Marginal Revolution here:

Surprise! Fox News is Fair and Balanced! Accusations of media bias are common but are typically based upon nothing more than subjective standards and anecdote. A brilliant new paper by Tim Groseclose (GSB Stanford, currently visiting GMU) and Jeff Milyo (U. Chicago, Harris School) pioneers a more promising approach. Since 1947, the interest group Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) has tracked how Senators and Represenatives vote on key issues and they have used these votes to rank politicians according to their liberalism. In the 2002 session, for example Ted Kennedy received an ADA score of 100 and Phil Gramm a score of 0. Political scientists are familiar with ADA scores and have come to rely on them as a measure of ideology.

Groseclose and Milyo have found a way to compute ADA scores for media outlets as if they were politicians. What they did was to examine the Congressional Record for every instance in which a politician cited a think tank. They then did the same thing for newspapers, network news shows and other media outlets. By matching newspapers with politicians who had similar citation records they can impute an ADA score for the media outlet. Joe Lieberman, for example, has an ADA score of 66.3. Suppose that in his speeches he cites the Brookings Institution twice as much as the Heritage Institute. If the New York Times has a similar citation style then the New York Times is assigned an ADA score of 66.3. (The method is slightly more complicated than this but this gives the right idea.) Note that Groseclose and Milyo do not have to determine whether the Brookings Institution is more liberal than the Heritage Institute all they need to know is that the Times has a similar citation style to Lieberman.

Ok, what were the results? It turns out that all of the major media outlets, with the exception of Fox News: Special Report are considerably more liberal than the median member of the House over the 1993-1999 period. Moreover, although Fox News: Special Report was to the right of the median house member it was closer to the median member than were most of the other media outlets. (Interestingly, all of the liberal media outlets were less liberal than the average Democrat and Fox News is less conservative than the average Republican - thus there is a sense in which all media outlets are less biased than is the typical politician.) Here are the ADA scores of various media outlets along with some comparable politicians.

Joe Lieberman (D-Ct.) 66.3
New York Times 64.6
CBS Evening News 64.5
USA Today 62.6
NBC Nightly News 62.5
Los Angeles Times 58.4
Ernst Hollings (D-SC) 56.1
ABC World News Tonight 54.8
Drudge Report 44.1
Arlen Spector (R-PA) 44.0
House Median 39.0
Senate Median 36.9
Olympia Snowe (R-Me) 36.0
Charlie Stenholm (D-Tex) 29.3
Fox News Special Report 26.4

Please slap me -- Fox News Special Report is more conservative than the Newt Gingrich/Republican-dominated Congresses of the 1990s -- and that's "fair and balanced"?!?!?!? Could it simply be possible that the "liberal media" is ideologically closer to the Democrats because the Democrats aren't totally goddamn insane? Or that Democrats cite studies by respectable institutions like Brookings and RAND, whereas the Republicans cite studies generated by right-wing policy mills (instead of what Groseclose and Milyo conclude - that Brookings and RAND are part of the vast-left wing conspiracy).

(And note the study also omits editorials and talking heads like Bill O'Reilly).

For the record, the Groseclose-Milyo paper is here. I have a lot of respect for Groseclose's work on "inflation-adjusting" ADA scores (hint: Groseclose's own research suggests that the median house member from 1995-1999 is going to have a pretty right-wing ADA score), but this paper is just dumb.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:58 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Illinois Returns Here

By Byron LaMasters

Capitol Fax is reporting them. They report that exit polls show a big victory for Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination. In very early returns, Obama leads with 60% to 18% for Hynes.

More at Arch Pundit.

The returns are coming in here. I think that it has been called for Obama.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Orrin Hatch Hates the U.S. Constitution

By Byron LaMasters

Or so it would seem... He's supported amending it 67 times throughout his senate career. Scripps Howard reports:

If Sen. Orrin Hatch had been one of the nation's Founding Fathers, he probably would have made a few additions to the U.S. Constitution. Quite a few.

In the 28 years Hatch has served in the U.S. Senate, he has sponsored or co-sponsored 67 resolutions to amend the Constitution, the fundamental blueprint of American democracy that has been changed only 27 times in its 215-year history.

From declaring abortion and race-based quotas unconstitutional to making voluntary school prayer and foreign-born presidents constitutional, most of the resolutions Hatch supported were introduced repeatedly over several years, sometimes the same year in near-identical form. In 1987 alone, the Utah Republican attached his name to four balanced-budget amendments, three anti-abortion amendments and two school prayer amendments.

No one could convey my thoughts on constitutional amendments better than former Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Arkansas). Upon his retirement from the U.S. Senate in 1999, Bumpers said this:

"More constitutional amendments have been offered in the past 32 years (5,449) than in the first 173 years of our history, virtually all of them ill-conceived, trivial and politically driven. To the Senate's credit, not one of them has been approved. . . . It may seem odd, but I believe this is the Senate's finest achievement. . . . I voted against every constitutional amendment that came to a vote in my 24-year tenure. I'll be content for that to be my legacy."

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:33 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

$10 Million in 10 Days Online for Kerry

By Byron LaMasters


Once again, online donors are showing that they're on the leading edge of the effort to bring change to America. The Internet is playing a pivotal role in the political process, from spin-busting blogs to think-tank-style discussion forums to the massive wave of contributions that have come from thousands of ordinary Americans like you.

Ten million dollars in ten days

Amazing. John Kerry has truly united the Democratic Party, and Democrats across the country are joining his campaign. It's heartening to see.

You can donate to the Kerry campaign (and give me some credit for it), here.

Update: And now Bill Clinton wants us to raise another $10 Million in 10 days.

From the Desk of Bill Clinton

You and I have made history together before. It's time to make some more.

Just a week after they began their multi-million dollar advertising blitz, Republicans have gone negative with the first of what will certainly be a barrage of attack ads. This is a major test for John Kerry's campaign -- and it's a significant opportunity for you and me.

It's our chance to demonstrate that, in 2004, we're not going to yield an inch to the Republican attack machine when it comes to defining what this campaign is all about. It's our chance to give John Kerry the kind of immediate, dramatic support he needs to stand toe-to-toe with the President and force him to debate the real issues in this campaign.

March 16, 2004 -- Let's make today the day that the entire Democratic Party speaks with one voice and launches the most successful 10-day fundraising drive in our Party's history. Here's my challenge to you: Send a donation right now to help me launch a "$10 Million in 10 Days" fundraising drive for John Kerry's campaign. Let's send donations flooding into Kerry headquarters.


Today, you and I can send a powerful message to John Kerry. We can promise him that we will never let him stand alone in the face of Republican attacks. In the days ahead, you'll be hearing from forceful voices from all across the Democratic Party -- all united in our determination to carry our values to victory in 2004. But, don't wait to act. Join me in making 3/16/04 a day you and I will always remember -- and one Republicans will never forget.


Thank you for joining me in standing behind John Kerry at a pivotal moment in his vitally important campaign. You and I have proven it time and time again. Working together, we know how to win. Let's do it again.

Bill Clinton

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

Barack Obama Poised to Win Illinois Dem. Senate Nomination

By Byron LaMasters

Kos posted some polls today. In three polls released today, Obama is leading by 30, 19 and 15 points. I posted on the race a few days ago, but I wanted to comment further. Poster Tim Z. compared Obama to the late Sen. Paul Simon. Others have compared him to a pragmatic version of Paul Wellstone. Sometimes I think that we focus too much on the magic number - 51 - to win a majority in the U.S. Senate and forget to elect true progressives and people that will make a difference for our party. Barack Obama is one of those people, and his nomination will be a huge step towards progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate.

I paid rather close attention to the 2002 primary for governor in Illinois. There was the candidate of the Black community (Burris), the candidate of the White liberals and suburbanites (Vallas) and there was the establishment / Chicago machine candidate who had the money to spend a lot of money introducing himself to downstate voters (Blagojevich). Blagojevich's coalition proved decisive. This time however, it looks as if the Black community and White liberals are united around one candidate (Obama), while the establishment is divided between two good candidates, multi-millionaire Blair Hull and State Comptroller Dan Hynes (for a normal year in a normal state), but in a highly polarized election year in a decidedly Democratic state, we have an opportunity to elect a true progressive leader.

Check out Obama's ad, here (video file). Obama has also won the endorsements of both Chicago papers:

Chicago Sun-Times:

Our endorsement goes to Obama, who seems best poised to overtake Hull. Obama's background and experience can trump Hull's money. Obama has a compelling personal story. He is a man who has struggled to understand the landscape in two worlds -- one white, one black. Born to a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, reared in Hawaii and Indonesia, Obama could be the man for this time and for this place.

If nominated and elected, Obama would be the first African American male in the Senate since 1978, when Edward W. Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts, left after two terms, and only the third African American ever elected to that office in modern times. The other being Illinois' Carol Moseley Braun, who served one term until defeated by the current incumbent, retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

We are endorsing Obama -- not as a gratuitous nod to his race -- but as a salute to his proven track record in the state Senate, where he is known as a hardworking and thoughtful legislator. We think his background can overcome Hull's wealth factor.

Chicago Tribune:

The Democrats have a few good people seeking the nomination for the U.S. Senate. They have one outstanding candidate: State Sen. Barack Obama, who is endorsed today by the Tribune.

Obama, 42, is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He was the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He gained experience as a civil rights lawyer and community activist on housing and other matters before he was elected to the state Senate from a South Side district in 1996. He is now a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

As pedigrees go, there is not a finer one among the Democratic candidates.

He quickly turned some heads when he joined the legislature and he is widely admired by Democrats and Republicans, including many who don't share his political views.


Obama, however, rises above this field as one of the strongest Democratic candidates Illinois has seen in some time. He richly deserves his party's nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Exactly. Barack Obama richly deserves the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Illinois tomorrow. If you're a Democrat in Illinois, go out tomorrow (Tuesday) and cast your vote for John Kerry and Barack Obama in the Democratic primary.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Posting this Week

By Byron LaMasters

Posting from me will be light this week. It's our Spring Break, and I'll be going to New Orleans on Wednesday with some friends. It will be nice to get away for a few days. I don't have a laptop, and I'll be staying at a hotel, so I won't have regular Internet access. I may post sometime on the trip, but I'm going to be more focused on enjoying New Orleans than on posting from Wednesday through Sunday. Andrew is here in town working over break, so he'll probably be helping fill in, and I'm sure that Jim and Andrea can help a little bit. Karl-Thomas is also out of town for Spring Break, so I doubt we'll be hearing much from him.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004

Bush Lackeys Defeated

By Byron LaMasters

Very Good news from Spain. CNN reports:

With more than 90 percent of the vote counted, the Socialist Workers Party is on track to win 164 seats in the country's 350-seat parliament, just shy of an absolute majority.

The ruling conservative Popular Party is tipped to win 148 seats.

The Socialists so far have won 43.01 percent of the total vote, ending eight years of conservative rule.

The Socialist Party's leader José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has appeared live on Spanish television to claim victory, saying his party was now in a position to form government.

Zapatero vowed that fighting terrorism would be his first priority as he sets about creating a government of change "that will work for peace."

"Today, the Spanish people have spoken, and they said they want a government of change," he said.

After a minute of silence to remember Thursday's bombing victims, Zapatero expressed thanks "to all the governments and countries that have been with us in our pain."

Zapatero congratulated Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy as "a very good rival," and said he had called him and pledged "to cooperate in the matters of state."

Cuurrent Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar had anointed Rajoy as his successor, but Spain's people had other ideas.


Turnout was high at 76 percent with voters seeming to express anger with the government, accusing it of provoking the Madrid attacks by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which most Spaniards opposed.

Very good news. No, the socialists aren't crazy communists who will destroy America. Rather, they're pragmatic liberals who will work with our country for peace across the planet. Aznar sucked up to President Bush, and even in a time of terrorism, the Spanish voters sent Aznar and the conservatives a message. It's a good day for Spain and a good day for the world.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:42 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Why Not Orange?

By Andrew Dobbs

The current terror level is still yellow, or "Elevated" rather than "High" or Orange. This week a massive, coordinated terrorist attack was launched against one of our closest allies and the most likely culprit it now seems was al Qaida and still we are at Yellow? Does this confirm the ridiculousness of this system or simply the political cravenness of this administration? If we are going to have an alert system, let's use it effectively for chrissakes.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 03:22 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Be Optimistic!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Well, just another day for me before I leave for the Coasts of Alabama. But tonight I just returned from the Optimist Club Young Texan/Texanne award dinner where I was awarded out of 12 contestants (selected from hundreds) , the statewide Young Texan of the Year!

Exciting times indeed and I'll be sure to put that $1000 scholarship to good use since it brings up my total awards to over $35,000 for paying UT tuition bills.

Have a fun and safe spring break ya'll. And as the University Democrats e-mail I got said, try to break some cherished Republican values. I'm sure you can get creative with that.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 13, 2004

Kerry Stuff

By Byron LaMasters

Last night, I added some more John Kerry stuff to the left sidebar (below BlogAds). I'd encourage everyone to donate to the John Kerry campaign, and of course, give me credit for it here.

If you can't contribute, get involved. Check out the Texas for Kerry and the Austin for Kerry websites. John Kerry is our Democratic nominee and it is our responsibility to carry his message across this country. We need to beat George W. Bush, and it is time to unite behind John Kerry. It's time to elect the next President of the United States. Together, we can do it. John Kerry for President.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

BOR Logo

By Byron LaMasters

We've recently been looking into Cafe Press about selling some merchandise. One of the things that I'd like before I sell anything though, is a good logo. What would be a good logo for the Burnt Orange Report? Any Ideas? Any talented graphics people out there? If so, email me (LAMASTERS AT MAIL DOT UTEXAS DOT EDU) your ideas and graphics. I'd like the logo to reflect our focus: "News, Politics and fun from deep in the heart of Texas". I'll give a $20 prize to anyone who develops a logo that we decide to adopt. I'm not a graphics person, but if anyone wants to try their hand, email me.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Kudos for Gov. Perry

By Byron LaMasters

Considering everything that's happened in the past few weeks, and the fact that Gov. Perry has said that this website "denegrates the political process", I thought that I'd do something a little different. Maybe a little radical. Call me crazy. Yeah, I'm going to do something I don't think I've ever done before, and I doubt that I'll do again for a long time, but I'm going to pay Rick Perry a compliment. Yesterday, Rick Perry commuted the death sentence of a mentally retarded man:

Gov. Rick Perry has commuted the death sentence of a Harris County inmate with mental retardation. It is Perry's first reduction of a death sentence since becoming governor in 2000 and the first since 1998, when then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted the sentence of Henry Lee Lucas after the death row inmate recanted hundreds of murder confessions.

Kudos to Rick Perry. It's an absolute disgrace that the state of Texas allows the execution of juveniles and of mentally retarded persons. I have mixed feelings about the death penalty (although I generally oppose it), but I think that it's completely immoral to execute juveniles and mentally retarded people. Rick Perry did the right thing in commuting this sentence, and he ought to be commended.

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

John Kerry Fights Back

By Byron LaMasters

John Kerry may not have been my first choice for president, but I have to say, I'm damn proud of him. He's not lying when he says he's a fighter. He fights back. Bush went negative yesterday, and today, Kerry returned the fire. I'm proud of our presumptive nominee. We all should be. He's going to make a great 44th President of the United States.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:43 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

March 12, 2004

Keeping A Piece of 9/11: Ethics?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The AP is reporting that Secretary of Defence Rumsfled and FBI officials, kept pieces of debris from the 9/11 attacks.

The Justice Department investigation that criticized FBI agents for taking souvenirs from the World Trade Center site also found that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and a high-ranking FBI official kept items from the Sept. 11 attack scenes.

The final investigatory report said the Justice Department inspector general confirmed Rumsfeld "has a piece of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon." The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report Friday.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday night that Rumsfeld has a shard of metal from the jetliner that struck the Pentagon on a table in his office and shows it to people as a reminder of the tragedy Pentagon workers shared on Sept. 11, 2001.


The Justice Department investigation also collected testimony that Pasquale D'Amuro, FBI Director Robert Mueller's executive assistant director for terrorism until last summer, asked a supervisory agent to "obtain a half dozen items from the WTC debris so the items could be given to dignitaries."


D'Amuro, now the head of the FBI's New York office, told investigators that "he asked for a piece of the building as a memento" and that he was aware that agents had taken such items from other terrorist crime scenes over the years.

The report also divulged that FBI agents' removal of items like a Tiffany crystal globe from the World Trade Center rubble gutted a criminal case the bureau was building against a Minnesota contractor that had taken a fire truck door from the same rubble.

Prosecutors told the FBI they "might not indict the crime regarding the fire truck door due to government misconduct involving the Tiffany globe," the report said.

Yeah, sure, it must be pretty cool to have a piece of 9/11. Too bad we all can't have something, you know, like twisted metal or dead bodies. This is just a tad bit sickening. Yeah, just a tad.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bush-Cheney Poster Maker Takes Down Text Feature...

By Byron LaMasters

But I had a little fun with it this afternoon before they did...

I was going to play with it some more tonight, but alas, the Bush campaign was getting tired of the jokes. As Karl-Thomas mentioned, there is no section for GLBT's for Bush on the Coalition Groups for his poster maker, but I did make some others. And the best thing about it is that my posters are paid for by the Bush-Cheney campaign. Hehe. Go to the extended entry to view them...

Which is your favorite?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:59 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Barack Obama for U.S. Senate

By Byron LaMasters

This guy is amazing.

Barack Obama. No, not Osama. Or Iraq. He's a candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, and I've been impressed with him ever since I learned about him several months ago. He's a terrific candidate in a state that has shown that it has the ability to elect African-Americans to statewide office on a consistent basis. Obama is such a great candidate. He's an Illinois State Senator, a civil rights attorney and is squeaky clean ethically (in sometimes ethically challenged Illinois politics).

Learn more about him at his official website or check out what the Washington Post has to say:

Organization men are a staple of Illinois politics, of course, and investment bankers seem poised to take over the Senate in our plutocratic age. Obama, by contrast, is a candidate who all but defies categorization -- and who would certainly mark a radical departure for the stodgy Senate. If elected (and Illinois is a Democratic state becoming steadily more so), he would become the Senate's sole black member and just the third African American senator since Reconstruction, following Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke and fellow Illinois Democrat Carol Moseley Braun, who only narrowly lost her seat to Republican Fitzgerald in 1998 despite a string of scandals.

But that scarcely begins to describe the distinctiveness of Obama. His father was Kenyan, his mother a white girl from Kansas. The two met and married at the University of Hawaii in 1960 (when miscegenation was still a felony in more than half the states). His father disappeared from his life when Obama was 2; his mother raised him in Hawaii and Indonesia. Obama went to college at Columbia, then moved to Chicago for five years of community organizing in a fusion of civil rights crusading and Saul Alinsky house-to-house plodding. He then went to Harvard Law School, where he became the first black president of the Law Review; returned to Chicago to run a program that registered 100,000 voters in the '92 elections, entered a civil rights law firm and became a senior lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. (If elected, Obama would be the second liberal Hyde Park academic to represent Illinois in the Senate; New Deal economist Paul Douglas was the first.)

Seven years ago Obama was elected to the state Senate from a district in Chicago's South Side. In Springfield, he developed a reputation as an impassioned progressive who was able to get support on both sides of the aisle. One of his bills created a state earned-income tax credit that has brought more than $100 million to Illinois's working-poor families. Another, conceived in the wake of revelations about innocent men the state had wrongly executed, mandated the videotaping of police interrogations of suspects in capital crimes. There followed "tortuous negotiations with state's attorneys and death-penalty abolitionists," Obama recalls, but in the end the bill passed unanimously.

In October 2002, Obama made an eloquent case against the impending war in Iraq at a rally in downtown Chicago. Declaring repeatedly that "I don't oppose all wars," he distinguished what he termed "a dumb war, a rash war" from a string of just and necessary wars in which the United States had engaged. He is surely the progressives' darling in the field, drawing enthusiastic support from white Lake Shore liberals as well as the African American community. But he's also won the endorsements of virtually all the state's major papers, many of which -- such as Chicago's Tribune and Sun-Times -- note their disagreement with him on the war but hail him as a brilliant public servant nonetheless. Should Obama win, says Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, who backs his candidacy, he'd "march right onto the national stage and the international stage."

While practicing law in the early 1990s, Obama wrote "Dreams From My Father," a memoir and meditation of genuine literary merit that depicts his understandable quest for his identity -- a quest that immersed him in the world of Chicago's poor and that took him to a Kenyan village in search of a father he never knew. It's a story of worlds colliding, fusing and redividing, of a life devoted to re-creating in a grittier world the idealism and sense of community of the early civil rights movement, which provided the backdrop for his parents' marriage.

If by "American" we mean that which is most distinctive about us and our ideals, if we mean it to refer to our status as a nation of immigrants that could yet become the world's first great polyglot, miscegenistic meritocracy, then Barack Obama, if elected, would not only become the sole African American in the Senate: He would also be the most distinctly American of its members.

I'm sold. This guy leads 44% to 20% to 18% over Blair and Hynes in a recent Survey USA poll. Donate to his campaign. We have a opportunity to elect a progressive African-American Democrat to the U.S. Senate in Illinois, and Barack Obama is the perfect candidate. The election is next Tuesday, March 16th.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:25 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

Bush Ads are Up

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Watch the two newest Bush Ads here. 100 Days is the Muhammad Horton ad talked about over at daily kos.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bush Cheney Poster Maker not GLBT Friendly

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

There has been much talk about the new Make Your Own Poster feature on the Bush website over the last few days as stated by this daily kos diary.

Of course, after much fun was had with it, Bush/Cheney stoped that nonsense by letting you choose just your state or coalition group.

That's just fine if you are from a group they thought of including which is fairly diverse including African Americans (for all 9% of them that went Bush in 2000), Arab-Americans (which now appear in Bush's "Muhammad Horton" ad as it may soon be called), Firefighters (who were not happy with Bush's last ads with September 11th images), and Investors (who I'm sure are just thrilled by this weeks 500 point decline on Wall Street).

But if you fall under the GLBT Americans Coalition, you have no place in Bush/Cheney's list. So much for the Big Tent.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NH Senate Votes to Not Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

And now this from New Hampshire...

Gay marriages would not be recognized in New Hampshire under a bill approved 16-7 by the Senate on Thursday. The legislation comes on the heels of a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision giving gay couples a right to marry.

"Neither the courts nor another legislature should dictate the definition of marriage in this state," said Sen. Andre Martel, R-Manchester.

Many of those who oppose gay marriage argued that New Hampshire must take a stand to protect traditional marriages. But opponents of the bill said gay marriage is an issue of equal treatment under the law.

"This is codifying discrimination and prejudice," said Sen. Clifton Below, D-Lebanon.

"Why should we scapegoat a segment of our society and deny them basic rights," asked Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord.

The bill, which is supported by Republican Gov. Craig Benson, now goes to the House. The bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said at a public hearing last month that the bill is needed to close a loophole in New Hampshire law that could force the state to honor gay marriages performed outside its borders. The language in the bill is almost identical to the Defense of Marriage Act passed by Congress.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

MA Gay marriage ban wins preliminary approval

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The MA Constitutional Convention has met and passed 129-69 the preliminary approval for Banning Gay Marriage but leaving open Civil Unions.

From Boston.com...

Massachusetts lawmakers gave preliminary approval Thursday to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but allow civil unions as the state again took center stage in the national debate over the rights of same-sex couples to wed.

The amendment, which would strip gay couples of their court-granted marriage rights, must still weather several additional votes and anticipated legislative maneuvering by opponents.

The earliest a ban could end up on a statewide ballot is November 2006, more than two years after same-sex couples can start getting married in Massachusetts.

It was adopted 129-69 with the help of several known advocates of gay marriage, triggering speculation that they could withdraw their support on the critical final vote needed before this year's constitutional convention ends.

Due to the elaborate constitutional-amendment process, the ban must be approved by the Legislature at least three more times this year -- perhaps as soon as Thursday night -- and then again during the 2005-06 legislative session.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SF Gay Marriages Halted

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From the San Francisco Gate...

The California Supreme Court ordered an immediate halt to gay marriages in San Francisco and said Thursday it would hear a case in May or June on the legality of such marriages.

The action by California's highest court came two weeks after state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and a conservative group asked the seven justices to immediately block the gay marriages, with more than 3,700 couples having wed at City Hall so far.


The seven justices ruled unanimously that Newsom must "refrain from issuing marriage licenses or certificates not authorized" by California's marriage codes.

California's top court did not immediately address whether Newsom had the legal power to authorize the marriages, which contravenes a state law and voter referendum that say marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The justices also did not address whether the California Constitution would permit a gay marriage, as Newsom claims.

Instead, the justices moved to block any more marriages, at least for now, until they decide whether Newsom had the power to authorize such unions. Had the court declined to intervene, the legal battle over gay marriage in California would have taken years as gay marriage lawsuits traveled through the state's lower courts.

This was going to happen at some point and the real meat of the story will be how the Supreme Court votes in the next couple of months. But a big thanks to San Francisco for helping to get the issue moving nationwide.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A gentle reminder

By Jim Dallas

Dow Jones Industrial Index, Opening Price, January 22 2001
(President Bush's first day on the job): 10,581.90

Dow Jones Industrial Index, Closing Price, March 11, 2004
(President Bush's 1,144th day on the job): 10,128.45

S&P 500, Opening Price, January 22 2001
(President Bush's first day on the job): 1,342.54

S&P 500, Closing Price, March 11, 2004
(President Bush's 1,144th day on the job): 1,106.79

NASDAQ Composite, Opening Price, January 22 2001
(President Bush's first day on the job): 2,759.10

NASDAQ Composite, Closing Price, March 11, 2004
(President Bush's 1,144th day on the job): 1,943.89

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kerry on "My Dinner with Howard"

By Jim Dallas

John Kerry sends a letter out to the (former) Deaniacs --

Dear Jim,

Yesterday, Howard Dean joined me to discuss how we move forward in our fight to change America. As we walked into campaign headquarters and together were greeted enthusiastically by so many of our hardworking staff and volunteers, I felt more certain than ever that we will win this fight.

During the primary campaign much was made of the differences between Howard and I, but here's the truth: we have plenty in common, and it begins with a vision to change this country.

We're determined to put people ahead of special interests, provide healthcare to every American, protect our environment, and use energy wisely. We share a strong commitment to make America safe and secure. And we will put the millions of Americans who lost their jobs during George W. Bush's presidency back to work.

Howard Dean has provided an unprecedented contribution to our party by bringing so many into the political process, and by reminding America of the power of grassroots politics. For that I thank him, and ask Howard's supporters to focus that same energy on the task at hand.

Winning this election will be a challenge like no other. If the past few weeks are any indication, the Republican attack machine will pull out every trick in the book to distract from the issues at stake.

The future of our country depends now on unity between all those determined to create change. Working together, I know we will turn our country around.

I look forward to engaging in a conversation with many of you in the next many months as I travel from state to state to share my vision of a better America.

Thank you always for your incredible support and determination to put America back on track.

Warm regards,

[John Kerry]

P.S. As Howard and his supporters have shown, the Internet is a powerful tool to spread our message, so please use this medium to mobilize, communicate, and advance our cause. Join our online community at www.johnkerry.com, or visit www.blogforamerica.com and voice your opinion.

P.P.S. As you know, your contributions drive our campaign. Please contribute $25, $50 or $100 now to fund the fight.

Note that blogforamerica.com now appears to be an official wing of the Kerry campaign.

Which is a good thing, of course. Anybody But Bush.

Now, if only we can figure out how to merge the Dean and Kerry Meet-Ups....

(As of now, there doesn't appear to be a Kerry Meet-Up in Galveston County; although I know Dean had one going on for a while down here).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Rodriguez squeaker, Bell defeat shock House leadership

By Jim Dallas

The Hill reports that Pelosi is upset that incumbents Ciro Rodriguez and Chris Bell had such weak ground operations, and that Al Green's victory may be causing friction between black and Anglo Democrats on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) call for a “mandatory meeting” on the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote (GOTV) plan sowed confusion among lawmakers at yesterday’s caucus meeting.

Several lawmakers said they felt Pelosi was asking the caucus to iron out hard feelings about the contentious primary victory of African-American attorney Al Green over Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas), whose old district was bisected by GOP cartographers.

Green’s endorsement by a handful of Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members angered many of Bell’s colleagues, creating friction within the Texas delegation and the caucus at large.

Most lawmakers and aides at yesterday’s caucus agreed that Pelosi’s call for a mandatory meeting was related to Bell’s loss as well as a razor-thin victory by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez over a primary opponent. However, a Pelosi aide denied that the two subjects were related.

Some lawmakers and aides felt that Pelosi’s mandatory meeting would also include an airing of opinions about the CBC’s support for Green over an incumbent.

“Pelosi told us we’ll have to iron out our differences on Bell and Green,” said a member of the CBC. “She said it would be mandatory.”

“It’s probably a good idea to have this conversation. There are some hard feelings out there,” the lawmaker added.

Bell told the Hill, “It will be cause for a lot of conversation, and it should be.” He added that he was disappointed that the contest turned on race: “Making this campaign racially divisive worked,” he said.

“The GOTV stuff and Bell’s loss were related. She said it right in the same breath,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), a member of the CBC, noted.

But Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, disputed that the subject of Bell’s loss, CBC support for Green and the mandatory meeting were at all linked. Clyburn attempted to correct Thompson’s assertion that the subjects were intertwined.

“Those had nothing to do with one another,” said Clyburn.

The confusion may stem from the speaking order in caucus, as Pelosi spoke after Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) announced the results of Tuesday’s primary, when many lawmakers learned for the first time that the popular Bell would not be returning next year.

“Pelosi’s point was that two incumbents did not have adequate ground operations and that we can’t have that in November,” said an aide.

Regardless of what Pelosi actually said or intended, Democrats agreed that Rodriguez’s squeaky victory and Bell’s lopsided loss should serve as a wake-up call that incumbents need to have well-oiled mobilization machines up and running by November.

“Leader Pelosi has long focused on the three pillars of this election: money, message and mobilization,” said Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider. “Democrats have a strong message that resonates with middle-class America. We’ll have the money we need, and now we’re focusing on mobilization.”

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:04 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bush Negative Ads to Begin Tonight

By Byron LaMasters

I'm expecting it to appear here when it is released.

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

Huge Black Unemployment Problem in NYC

By Byron LaMasters

Bob Herbert wrote in Monday's New York Times an astonishing unemployment statistic among African-American men in New York City. Half of Black men in New York City were out of work at some time last year:

The nation is in an employment crisis and the end is not in sight. The Bush administration has no plan, other than a continued ludicrous reliance on additional tax cuts. The White House continued to say on Friday that making the president's tax cuts permanent would be an important step toward solving the employment problem.

What is happening in some sectors of the black community is catastrophic. The Community Service Society studied employment conditions among black men in New York City. Using the employment-population ratio, which is the proportion of the working-age population with a job, it found — incredibly — that nearly one of every two black men between the ages of 16 and 64 was not working last year.

This is outrageous. And George W. Bush and the Republicans think that our economy is getting better. What a lie.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Together we can beat CF

By Jim Dallas

I don't enjoy begging for money, particularly about non-political/personal issues.

However, I'd like to tell you about a cause that I am currently involved in that matters a lot to me.

As some of you may know (and perhaps some of you do not), my younger sister Madison has been living with cystic fibrosis for seven years, and generally there has been little to mention about it since she has been so blessed as to receive very good, cutting edge treatment -- much of which has stemmed from research funded in part by generous contributions from people like you to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that makes breathing a major chore for those with the disease. CF causes life-threatening lung infections and the average survival age of those with the disease is the early 30s. Currently, there is no cure and the future of those with CF lies in the hands of people like you and me. By sponsoring me in the GREAT STRIDES campaign, together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those with CF.

Tremendous advances in the last decade have allowed my sister to live a pretty normal life, at least for the time being. Yet there still is no cure for CF, which means every day is still a struggle.

I've had a wonderful opportunity to spend a lot more time with Madison since I've moved back home, and I've learned two things about her. The first is that she's even more sweet than I remember. The second is that she's incredibly aggressive when victory depends on it. Pick a board game - any board game, from CandyLand to Monopoly to Chess - and she'll beat me because she's so determined.

I believe strongly that we can and will find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis - if we are determined.

If we work together to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sponsor the wonderful and promising medical research that some of the best and brightest doctors in the country are working on. Every little bit helps improve the quality of life for people, like my sister, who are fighting cystic fibrosis.

That is why I've been a regular participant in the GREAT STRIDES Walk and why I am making a special commitment this year to raise $250. I believe that I can meet or even exceed this goal, if you help me by pitching in $10 or $20 today.

If you are not able to contribute but would like to show support, then I invite you to take part in the GREAT STRIDES Walk this year. It is held at over 550 sites nationally. I will be walking on Saturday, May 15 at Moody Gardens in Galveston.

Also, Monday, March 29 is CF night at Taco Cabana on 61st Street in Galveston. If you are in the Galveston area, please consider coming by between 5 and 9 pm for the event.

Thank you for your time,


Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Clinton On GOP Love

By Jim Dallas

Clinton on CNN:

"The tax cut that I got has been protected against all cost," said Clinton, referring to the $1 trillion income tax cuts that primarily benefited Americans with high incomes such as the former president, who has earned millions for his forthcoming memoirs and for making speeches.

"It's the most important thing in the world to the administration and the majority party in Congress to protect my tax cut," Clinton said.

"So to protect my tax cut in this budget, they are kicking 300,000 poor children out of after-school programs, 23,000 cops off the street.

"They've already removed 83,000 students from the student loan program, depriving 140,000 unemployed workers from job training and removing child care supports to 100,000 working families," Clinton continued.

"Now that's a choice they made. They actually believe the most important thing in the world is to have less government and low taxes.

"They believe that lower taxes are good even if you have to have adverse human consequences. It's a difference of opinion."

Thanks to a DailyKOS user diary.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Massachusetts Constitutional Convention: Round 2

By Byron LaMasters

The second round of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention begins today with a compromise in the works for an amendment that will ban gay marriage, but mandate Civil Unions. The Boston Globe reports:

A compromise constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but also establish same-sex civil unions appears to be gaining support as Massachusetts lawmakers reconvene today four weeks after their earlier constitutional convention adjourned in chaos and deadlock. Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, a lead sponsor of the compromise amendment, expressed confidence yesterday that the proposal will win the necessary 101 votes when the lawmakers resume their emotionally charged debate in the House chamber. The convention recessed Feb. 12 after three amendment proposals fell short of a majority by a few votes.

"I'm growing increasingly confident," Travaglini said in Washington, D.C., where he and House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, a cosponsor of the amendment, were leading a delegation of Beacon Hill lawmakers to meet with the state congressional delegation and raise campaign cash.

"People who were noes are now maybes," he said. "People who were maybes are now yeses, and there is movement that is beneficial to reaching a consensus." A similarly worded amendment sponsored by Travaglini in February failed by seven votes.

"We are working it, and we feel as if we are making progress," Finneran said. "But it's far too early to say anything definitive."

However, lawmakers who met with Travaglini before he left Boston said the Senate leader confided to them that he has the votes to win the amendment's passage.

It will be interesting to see if this proposal really has much of a chance as gay marriage proponents want marriage, and religious conservatives want nothing. Last time, legislative leaders thought that they had a compromise, but they failed. This time.... who knows?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tom Craddick on the Primary Results

By Byron LaMasters

Via the State House website:

It is well understood by members of this body that the leadership roles on legislative committees and boards must reflect the results of the elections. The rules that govern the House of Representatives were adopted to ensure that the work of these committees and boards is carried forward.

Filling these vacancies is a complicated process that involves balancing the already heavy workload of our members. We will be asking each of them to be prepared to make additional sacrifices and commitments as we fill these complex and important positions.

The reason for the vacancies are because of House rules that ban representatives from commitee memberships who have lost renomination. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Lame ducks are banned from committee memberships under House rules. Mr. Wilson was defeated by state Board of Education member Alma A. Allen.

His resulting, automatic removal from the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee – where all tax bills must originate – would normally have little impact, since the next regular session of the Legislature isn't until 2005, after he leaves office.

But with a special session on school finance expected, Mr. Craddick has lost the opportunity to have any tax rewrite he supports shepherded through a committee chaired by Mr. Wilson, a known, friendly Democrat.


Mr. Lewis, beaten by Marc Veasey, will lose his position as chairman of the County Affairs Committee, a high-profile post during regular legislative years.

The issue of lame-duck committee membership is not limited to Democrats. Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, and Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, are chairmen of key committees. They have opted to run for Congress and would have to be replaced in those seats, under the same House rule.

This certainly will add a twist to a special session if one occurs. In a twist of irony, however, it was Ron Wilson who made the lame-duck rule in the first place. The Austin American Statesman reports:

House Ways and Means Chairman Ron Wilson, long a master of House rules and how to use them, is about to fall victim to a new one he sponsored.

Tucked deep into the House rule book is a provision, adopted for the first time last year, that will force Wilson out as chairman of the committee that could play a crucial role in an anticipated spring special legislative session on public school finance.

The "vacancies on committees" section says a committee chair vacancy occurs if the chair "fails to be nominated or elected to the Legislature for the next term." The provision was approved at the behest of the House Conservative Coalition.

Wilson was the sponsor of the rules package.

What goes around, comes around.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:06 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Dallas Sheriff Indicted by Grand Jury

By Byron LaMasters

Dallas Sheriff Jim Bowles lost in the Republican primary Tuesday after twenty years as Dallas sheriff. Yesterday, Bowles was indicted. The Dallas Morning News reports:

A grand jury indicted Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles on Wednesday, alleging he misused more than $100,000 worth of campaign donations, a day after the longtime sheriff overwhelmingly lost his bid for re-election.


Sheriff Lucas and Sheriff Bowles both have ties to jail vendor Jack Madera. Court records say Sheriff Bowles transferred the money in January 2000 from two campaign accounts and one "sheriff's account" into his personal checking and investment accounts.

A review of Sheriff Bowles' campaign finance reports show that he should have had a surplus of campaign funds for Tuesday's primary. Instead, he claimed political poverty.

Sheriff Bowles said he did not have the money to pay his political consultant, Clayton P. Henry, who quit in early January. The sheriff loaned his campaign $29,000 of his own money.

According to campaign finance reports, Sheriff Bowles received $363,544 in political contributions between January 1988 and June 2003. He spent about $214,900 over the same period, records show. That should have left a campaign balance of $148,644.

But in a report Sheriff Bowles filed with the county Elections Department in January, he said he had only $7,532 on hand.

On Election Day, Sheriff Bowles said he did not make "anything but my salary" during his 20 years as sheriff.


Danny Chandler, the county's emergency management coordinator, defeated Sheriff Bowles in Tuesday's Republican primary election. Sheriff Bowles complained that his campaign was crippled by the investigation and accused the prosecutor of political assassination.

Mr. Chandler said he would like to assume the office if Sheriff Bowles resigned and if county commissioners appointed him.

Two Democrats, Lupe Valdez and Jim Foster, are in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for sheriff, but the Republican-dominated Commissioners Court would be unlikely to appoint a Democrat to the position.

State law does not require an elected official under indictment to resign. A felony or misdemeanor conviction for official misconduct requires immediate removal.

Republicans have controlled and corrupted Dallas County for long enough. I think that Sheriff Bowles loss in the GOP primary and indictment yesterday are the begining of the end of Republican control of Dallas county.

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

Perry To Unveil New Tax Plan

By Andrew Dobbs

The product of Pretty Boy Perry's vacations in the caribbean and Italy on your dime will finally be unveiled this week it seems. Perry will be joined by far right anti-tax activist and wingnut radio show host Dan Patrick and Harris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettancourt to unveil an unweildly plan based at least loosely on California's infamous Prop 13. From the Startle-Gram:

The governor's office declined to release any details of the plan, which is to be unveiled in Houston and San Antonio today.

But one top Republican official who has been briefed on the announcement and another familiar with the plan's contents say it calls for restrictions on yearly property appraisals and hard caps on the amount of revenue flowing to taxing entities. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

Among other things, the officials said the draft plan calls for:

Mandatory disclosure of home sale prices to appraisal review boards, which would then have to take the information into account when calculating the value of a house.

Capping the revenue -- it doesn't say at what amount -- that local taxing entitities receive; the plan would allow for new home and apartment construction to be added to the tax base.

Allowing school districts to make adjustments in the cap to accommodate student enrollment growth and inflation.

Capping yearly home appraisal increases at 3 percent. (For tax purposes, a homestead's value currently may rise by no more than 10 percent a year).

Provisions requring the Texas Legislature to fund any mandates it places on local governments.

A requirement that any move to exceed the property tax cap would require a vote of the people on a pre-scheduled election date.

Perry is proposing to cut property taxes as part of a school finance reform package that could be presented in a special legislative session next month.

The Chronical has more on Governor Goodhair's inspiration for the package:

Bill Allaway, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, a business group, said he has been told the governor has been looking at two options.

One is the plan enacted in Colorado that prohibits local governments from increasing revenue from property taxes in excess of a certain trigger, such as inflation or population growth, without a vote of taxpayers. It is a way of controlling growth in local government expenditures, he said.

The other, he added, is a plan that Florida has used for several years. It limits increases in appraisals of homesteads to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

"It has taken a huge amount of property off the tax rolls (in Florida)," he said.

Asked which plan, if any, he thought Perry would propose, Allaway replied, "I think he may be coming down on all of the above."

He said his group doesn't like limiting appraisals only for residential property because it transfers the tax burden to all other taxpayers, including businesses and apartment owners. He said he has mixed emotions about the revenue limits used in the Colorado plan.

Allaway said such limits are similar to Proposition 13, an initiative California voters passed in 1978 that limited property tax growth. Some Californians blame the measure for causing a decline in public education.

Let's be honest, Prop 13 was a disaster for California. The current budget nightmares there can in large part be traced back to the proposition that has tied their hands in terms of revenue. Still, propery taxes are too high for many Texans and there must be some kind of reform. Some of my sources suggest that he might also introduce property tax roll splitting where homestead taxes would go to local governments and business taxes would go to the state. This is a sop to the GOP's suburban constituents at the expense of Democratic urban voters. Urban communities tend to be poorer and thus have a greater need for the services that these taxes pay for but they tend to derive much of their revenue from taxes on business, not homes. So not only will they have greater need, they will have less money to meet these needs and the great spiral into despair begins. Suburban communities, with their enormous property values, will be high on the hog under this plan- which is what the GOP has been looking to do all along.

I won't pretend to have that great an understanding of all these issues- I'm picking a lot of it up as I go along. I do know that our communities are strapped for cash now and telling them that their hands are tied on raising any new revenue will only exacerbate problems. Remember that Rick Perry was rubbing coconut oil on Grover Norquist's hairy back down in the Caribbean earlier this month, the same Norquist that said that he wanted to shrink government small enough to "drown it in the bathtub." Perry's plan will starve the poorest communities of any resources and will ensure tight belts for local governments for the forseeable future. Raising the kind of revenue needed to amply address our health care crisis, our infrastructure crisis, our alarmingly high dropout rate or our increasing costs of public safety will be next to impossible and Texas will be relegated to Mississippi-esque status. We deserve better than that and this plan must be addressed. We'll see how the plan unfolds over the next several days I'm sure.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:01 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Texas Tips Nomination to Kerry

By Jim Dallas

According to CBS News, maybe Texas Democrats really did matter after all (with a little help from our friends in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida):

Kerry won primaries Tuesday in Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, largely without major opposition. He won about 75 percent of the vote in Florida and Mississippi, and about two-thirds in the other states.

The wins give Kerry 2,174 delegates (including so-called "super-delegates"), according to a CBS News tally, surpassing the 2,162 needed to win the Democratic nomination.

Kerry was returning to Washington on Wednesday to meet with Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who had been one of his top rivals for the nomination. He was scheduled to meet Thursday with John Edwards, who left the campaign after the Super Tuesday elections of March 2.

Dean is prepared to campaign for Kerry and ask his own contributors to donate to Kerry's campaign, said officials familiar with the meeting. Aides are expected to spend a week or so planning an endorsement, the officials said.

I guess it's time to start making our "Texas is Kerry Country" signs...

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

Ron Wilson Called on Black Panthers to Monitor Polling Places Yesterday

By Byron LaMasters

ABC13 Houston reports:

Eyewitness News has been able to confirm with Representative Ron Wilson that he is the one who called out the New Black Panther Party. Rep. Wilson told us he was concerned about certain irregularities in certain polling places in some schools in the southwest Houston area.

God. I almost wish I could have been on the ground in 131 yesterday. It seems like it was a circus.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I'm a Kerry Delegate... and very tired.

By Jim Dallas

After 12 hours (before dawn to after dusk) of even-handed clerk-work guarding the purity of the election down in Precinct 115, I was able to rush across town to my home precinct (276) to attend my precinct convention.

It looks like I'll be a Kerry delegate to the Galveston County convention on March 27. I ended up voting for him - largely because I don't vote for people who have stopped asking for votes. So it really came down to Kerry and Kucinich. After a lot of thought, I ended up voting Kerry because I was ready for this whole nomination thing to be over.

The precinct convention was a nail-biter with two votes for Kerry and one vote for Kucinich. Oh, the humanity.

In other Galveston County news, the Republicans kicked out their old county chair and replaced her with Chris Stevens. Texas City attorney and Dean-supporter Patrick Doyle will be in a runoff with Galveston school board president John Ford for County Commissioner Precinct One.

Democratic turnout was about twice Republican turnout county-wide (9600 votes for the Democrats to 4800 for the Republicans). Our Republican counterparts in 115 - a working class minority neighborhood - were very, very lonely, whereas we got about 300 voters.

All the other positions in Galveston were uncontested on the Democratic side. No Democrat will oppose Republican Ron Paul for congress. Rep. Craig Eiland (the representative whose wife got a rather rude visit from state troopers last year -- while she was in the hospital having a baby!) was unopposed, and is looking strong heading into the general election.

Err... it's probably worth noting that at our polling place a lot of people showed up expecting to vote in the mayoral race, which is on May 15 this year in Galveston. So far the mayoral race appears to be largely between city council members Lyda Ann Thomas and Johnny Smecca (although Abdul H. Amin is also running strong), and it's a barn-burner.

Even better, the courts are forcing Galveston city officials to hold a referendum on putting parking meters on the Seawall. The city council had been expecting to simply re-zone the Seawall for parking meters without consulting the voters about amending the city charter, which was a major controversy. Now the idea - which could mean millions of dollars in revenue for beach improvements - is going to be put before the voters. For all the BOR readers who like to park on the Seawall, the May 15 election here in Galveston may affect your next vacation.

It was great seeing the people down in 115 that I knew and meeting new ones that I did not know (the high school that I graduated from - and now work at - is in that precinct.)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

You would have thought that they would have Learned...

By Byron LaMasters

At least based on the last time the American Family Association did a poll on their website (on the gay marriage issue).

Now, the AFA wants you to vote in their Presidential Poll!

And with just over 50,000 votes in, John Kerry leads Bush with just under 90%. Hehe.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:55 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

And Over to the GOP side...

By Byron LaMasters

Congressional District 1 will feature a run-off between Louie Gohmert of Tyler and John Graves of Longview. The Tyler Morning Telegraph reports. In a surprise to me, Wayne Christian failed to make the run-off, but in retrospect, Christian being from Center, TX, had much less of a population base. Looking at the County-by-county returns, it's clear that the majority of the Republican primary votes came from Tyler (Smith County) and Longview (Gregg County). The winner of the April run-off will face Democratic Rep. Max Sandlin.

As expected, former Judge Ted Poe won the Republican nomination for District 2 easily. Poe will face Nick Lampson in November.

Both Sam Johnson and Ralph Hall had easy victories against thier primary opponents in the third and fourth congressional districts.

Mike Conaway easily won the Republican nomination for the newly created district 11 based in Midland-Odessa. He'll easily win this November.

In the district 17 race to challenge Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco), Arlene Wohlgemuth and Dot Snyder will face off in an April run-off.

In the 24th district, a mid-cities DFW district created in redistricting, Kenny Marchant easily won the GOP nomination. He's a strong favorite for November.

Rebecca Armendariz Klein won the GOP nomination in the 25th district. However, Lloyd Doggett is a heavy favorite.

In district 31, John Carter won renomination with 70% of the vote.

In one notable statewide race, Judge Steven Wayne Smith was defeated. Smith has long been considered an extremist with little judicial experience. He was defeated by Paul Green, a much more moderate and experienced Republican. Rick Perry's appointee to the Railroad Commission, Victor Carrillo, will face a run-off with Robert Butler. The winner will face Democrat Bob Scarbough.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Local Travis County Winners

By Byron LaMasters

Surprisingly, no run-offs...

Greg Hamilton easily won a four way race for sheriff.

All three contested primary races had decisive outcomes. All three candidates I supported won, Steven Yelenosky, Nancy Nohengarten and Gisela Triana.

Precinct One County Commissioner Ron Davis also avoided a run-off in a four way race.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lame Duck Ron Wilson

By Byron LaMasters

It sounds great, doesn't it?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:45 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

DINO Representatives Go Down to Defeat

By Byron LaMasters

Texas Democrats want real Democrats to represent us at the capitol, and by and large, we got that wish last night. The Austin American Statesman reports:

Supporting the new Republican leadership and its agenda proved to be poison for the political careers of several Democratic legislators.

Seven Democrats, including longtime Houston Rep. Ron Wilson, were defeated in Tuesday's primary or headed for runoffs. Five were tied directly to support for GOP-backed legislation and Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick.

Wilson specifically was targeted by Democrats for his support of Craddick and redistricting, the bitterly partisan issue that sparked two Democratic boycotts, lawsuits and three special sessions in 2003. Craddick later thanked Wilson for his support by attending Wilson fund-raisers.

State Board of Education member Alma Allen defeated Wilson, ousting him from a seat he held for 26 years.

"I think our people wanted professionalism and they got it," Allen said. "I offer them me as a change agent to make things happen differently from the way things are happening now."

Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment. Before the primary, Wilson accused Democrats of being racist. Wilson, like Allen, is black.

"Because I didn't do what the white, liberal, extremist Democratic leaders wanted me to do, they're trying to punish me," Wilson told the Houston Chronicle last week. "It's a racist attitude."

Glenn Lewis of Fort Worth, another Democrat who was part of Craddick's leadership team, lost his bid for another term to Marc Veasey.

Another issue that rankled Democrats was a civil lawsuit liability bill which capped lawsuit awards for pain and suffering. Known as the "tort reform" bill, it was one of the most contentious issues of the 2003 session.

Former Rep. Tracy King defeated Rep. Timoteo Garza of Eagle Pass, who won the seat from King two years ago. Garza originally had voted against tort reform but ultimately supported the final version.

In Hidalgo County, incumbent Rep. Roberto Gutierrez of McAllen fell into a runoff with Veronica Gonzales. Gutierrez had supported the tort reform bill.

"Voters saw through the tort reform issue and made their voices heard," Democratic Party spokesman Mike Lavigne said. "You can't buddy up with Craddick then come back to your district and expect your voters to support you."

Democratic voters taught our elected officials an important lesson last night. If you represent a Democratic district, we expect you to vote like a Democrat. That's what we expect, and that's what we got.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Dallas County Sheriff Falls After 20 Years

By Byron LaMasters

Well, this is good and bad news. On one hand, it's good to see corrupt sheriff fall to defeat, but on the other, Sheriff Bowles would have been a much easier opponent to defeat in November. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Danny Chandler defeated Sheriff Jim Bowles in Tuesday's Republican primary, forcing Dallas County's senior lawman into retirement and guaranteeing the county a new sheriff for the first time in 20 years.

Mr. Chandler, the county's director of security and emergency management, will have to wait a month to know his November opponent. A field of four Democratic candidates failed to produce a victor, with Jim Foster and Lupe Valdez headed for a runoff on April 13.

Ruddy-faced from a long day of greeting voters, Mr. Chandler said he was humbled to soundly defeat the incumbent sheriff by more than a 2-1 ratio. He also offered an olive branch to Sheriff Bowles.


Sheriff Bowles, 75, blamed a continuing investigation of his dealings with a jail vendor for his loss. A special prosecutor has been investigating the sheriff's dealings with businessman Jack Madera for almost five months.

The investigation began after The Dallas Morning News reported last year that Sheriff Bowles accepted thousands of dollars worth of meals and trips from Mr. Madera before awarding him a commissary contract.

The contract gave less money to the Sheriff's Department than other vendors offered. Sheriff Bowles defended his decision, saying Mr. Madera had the only company that could handle the job.

Full Results for both primaries are at Dalco Elections:

Sheriff - Republican Primary:

Jim Bowles . . . . . . . . . . 7,547 - 25.03%
Danny Chandler. . . . . . . . . 18,025 - 59.79%
Leonard L. Bueber. . . . . . . . 1,018 - 3.38%
Larry Locke. . . . . . . . . . 3,556 - 11.80%

Sheriff - Democratic Primary:

Charles A. Munoz (Chuck) . . . . . 5,766 - 13.03%
Lupe Valdez. . . . . . . . . . 13,867 - 31.34%
Jim Foster . . . . . . . . . . 13,310 - 30.08%
Sam Allen . . . . . . . . . . 11,301 - 25.54%

Lupe Valdez and Jim Foster would both make good sheriff's for Dallas County. We'll see which one emerges in the April run-off.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Chris Bell Loses Big, Ciro Rodriguez Wins... Barely

By Byron LaMasters

In two other congressional primaries of note, Rep. Chris Bell (D-Houston) lost to Al Green.... big time. I supported Chris Bell, but it's clear that Green ran a better campaign, and I'm sure that he'll make a good Congressman:

U. S. Representative District 9
Chris Bell (I) - 8,482 31.29%
Al Green - 18,018 66.47%
Beverly A. Spencer - 606 2.24%

Precincts Reported 146 of 146 Precincts 100.00%

I'm surprised at the margin, but oh well. Back in San Antonio and in South Texas, I'm happy to see that it looks as if Ciro Rodriguez has narrowly pulled out a victory over Henry Cuellar. Rodriguez has the most progressive voting record of any Hispanic Democatic Congressman in Texas, whereas Cuellar endorsed George Bush for President in 2000 and served under Rick Perry as Secretary of State. Rodriguez was clearly the better Democrat in the race, and he looks to have barely won:

U. S. Representative District 28
Henry Cuellar - 22,089 48.40%
Ciro D. Rodriguez (I) - 23,546 51.60%

Precincts Reported 261 of 269 Precincts 97.03%

Update: I might have jumped the gun a little bit last night. There were late returns from Zapata County, but they're in and Rodriguez has clung to his lead by 151 votes:

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez has won the Democratic primary in the District 28 congressional race by 151 votes after a hand count by Zapata County officials.

Rodriguez, of San Antonio, had led opponent Henry Cuellar by just more than 1,000 votes at 7 this morning.

Both campaigns had staffers anxiously awaiting results in Zapata County, which is adjacent to Webb County in the district's southern portion.

Rodriguez spokesman John Puder said he was confident that Rodriguez would emerge victorious.

"We only need 30 percent in Zapata," he said. "We don't need to take it -- it's just a matter of not getting killed down there."

Close, but good news, regardless.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Doggett Wins Hidalgo County

By Byron LaMasters

Lloyd Doggett worked his butt off in South Texas... and it paid off:

Hidalgo County:
U. S. Representative District 25
Lloyd Doggett (I) - 8,663 50.18%
Leticia Hinojosa - 8,598 49.81%

Precincts Reported 54 of 54 Precincts 100.00%

Here in Travis County, we came out heavily for Doggett:

Lloyd Doggett (I) - 18,272 88.29%
Leticia Hinojosa - 2,422 11.70%

You gotta hand it to Lloyd Doggett. He went to south Texas without knowing more than a few words of Spanish, and convinced the people of Hidalgo County that he would be more effective as their representative in Congress than one of their own hometown leaders. Doggett won huge in Travis County, but his margin of victory overall was greater than his margin of victory in Travis County. That says a lot. Wow.

Overall, Doggett won big:

U. S. Representative District 25
Lloyd Doggett (I) - 40,276 64.37%
Leticia Hinojosa - 22,296 35.63%

Precincts Reported 227 of 227 Precincts 100.00%

Austin will continue to have a progressive voice of our own in Congress. Thank you, Lloyd Doggett. We all look up to you for leadership in Congress.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:46 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Alma Allen Wins!

By Byron LaMasters

State Representative District 131
Alma A. Allen - 4,723 55.51%
Ron Wilson (I) - 3,785 44.49%

Precincts Reported 28 of 28 Precincts 100.00%

Together, we defeated one of the two Democrats voting for Tom DeLay's redistricting plan. Alma Allen will make a great State Representative for Houston and she is to be congratulated. Tomorrow (ok, well later today), I will calculate (via the Texas Ethics website) how much Burnt Orange Report readers (along with our friends over at Daily Kos (Kos posted our pitch for money for Alma Allen's campaign) donated to the Alma Allen campaign (signified by a donation ending in $.27). In this kind of race, 1000 votes makes the difference, and several thousand dollars makes a huge difference. We helped make a difference in this race, and we should be proud. In fact, tonight, Democrats sent a message. We sent a message that we want real Democrats to represent our communities. Another early supporter of Speaker Craddick and committee chair under him - Glenn Lewis lost tonight (someone who did not join the "Killer D's" in Ardmore, OK). Lewis lost to Marc Veasey, an aide to U.S. Rep. Martin Frost:

State Representative District 95
Glenn Lewis (I) - 4,109 45.71%
Marc Veasey - 4,880 54.29%

Precincts Reported 71 of 71 Precincts 100.00%

Congratulations to Alma Allen and Marc Veasey! And thank you to all of our readers who helped make it happen!

Update: Another Democratic Craddick supporter, Roberto Gutierrez is in a run-off (narrowly missed being defeated outright):

State Representative District 41
Veronica Gonzales - 5,020 49.46%
Roberto Gutierrez (I) - 3,445 33.94%
Jim Selman - 1,684 16.59%

Precincts Reported 35 of 35 Precincts 100.00%

Go Veronica Gonzales!

In another race, Tracy King beat Timo Garza in a rematch (Garza defeated then-incumbent King in 2002):

State Representative District 80
Timoteo "Timo" Garza (I) - 9,084 39.01%
Tracy O. King - 14,205 60.99%

Precincts Reported 76 of 76 Precincts 100.00%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

I'm a Dean Delegate

By Andrea M.

Hello all, this is Andrea, the newest blogger here on BOR. I would like to announce that I am a Dean delegate at the county convention. Thanks to all who came out and voted! I went to my polling place, and the line was enormous--I waited for about 40 minutes, and it was wonderful to see so many people who cared enough to wait. As Dean says, the biggest lie that people like him tell people like us is that if they are elected, they will make everything better, but the power is really in our hands. It looks like a lot of people took that to heart. The power to change the world really is in our hands when we use them to pull the voting lever.

Posted by Andrea M. at 09:56 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Doggett Wins!

By Andrew Dobbs

With about 22% reporting, Lloyd Doggett is up 68% to 32% and Leticia Hinojosa has conceded the race. In other news:

Gisela Triana appears to have won the 200th District Court race outright

Nancy Hohengarten will win the County Court at Law #5 outright it appears

Ron Davis is up big and might win without a runoff in County Commissioner Precinct 1

Stephen Yelenosky won the Democratic nomination for the 345th District Court easily

Ron Wilson is losing down in Houston, with 11% reporting, Alma Allen is at 54% to 46% for Wilson.

So things are looking up. All the DINOs that stood with Craddick seem to be losing and early voting numbers are much higher than they were in 2000. Don't count us out just yet...

What party should I go to tonight?

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm a Kerry Delegate...

By Byron LaMasters

To the Travis County Democratic Party Convention...

Off to victory parties...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Races to Watch in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

I'll first be watching the 25th congressional district race. I think that Doggett will win, but it will be close. My prediction? Doggett wins with under 55% of the vote.

The County Commissioner Precinct 1 race will be interesting. I'm betting on a run-off between Celia Israel and Ron Davis. Yeah, it's a safe bet, but this race has been one of the tougher ones to call. However, an anti-Celia Israel mail piece arrived in my mail yesterday. Perhaps that could have en effect.

The Sheriff race will be interesting as well. I'm betting on a run-off between Todd Radford and Greg Hamilton, with Hamilton leading strongly. Hamilton could win outright, as he has relatively strong establishment and grassroots support, but it'll be difficult for him to win outright in a four person race.

For County Court at-Law #5, I predict that Nancy Hohengarten will win without a run-off over Lenord Saenz and Efran de la Fuente. She has very strong grassroots and legal community support.

For District Court 200 - The nastiest race of the year will probably go into a run-off between Gisela Triana and Jan Soifer. However, Triana could win outright. Then again, enough people could be upset with the negativity between Triana and Soifer supporters that Judge John Hathaway makes it into a run-off. So, I don't have much of a guess for this one.

For District Court 345 - Steven Yelonosky will win easily over Richard Anton.

Final results for all races (except for the 25th congressional race) can be found here begining at 7 PM.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Texas Congressional Preview

By Byron LaMasters

Today, more congressional races will be effectively decided than any other day until the November election. Over the next few hours, I'll preview all of the 32 congressional races in Texas, and what will be decided in today's primaries. The returns will be available here begining at 7 PM CST.

Here we go (candidate lists via the Secretary of State, I = Incumbent):

CD 1: Democrat Max Sandlin (I) vs. Republicans Wayne Christian, Louis Gohmert, John Graves, Emily Mathews, Larry Thornton Administration or Lyle Thorstenson.

Max Sandlin is the incumbent who has won by relatively solid margins in east Texas since his first election in 1996. While popular among independent voters in northeast Texas, Sandlin lost many counties such as Bowie (Texarkana) where he was popular, and the heavily Republican Smith and Gregg Counties (Tyler and Longview) were added to the district. The district went from 60% GOP index (voting age population) to 65% in redistricting. Sandlin will face the victor of the GOP primary, most likely either 2002 nominee John Graves or State Representative Wayne Christian.

CD 2: Democrat Nick Lampson (I) vs. Andrew J. Bolton, George Fastuca, Mark Henry, Clint Moore, John Nickell or Ted Poe.

Nick Lampson faces a new district for re-election. While he retains Democratic stronghold Jefferson County (Beaumont), he lost Chambers and Galveston County (which were favorable to Lampson). Lampson faces more conservative, suburban Harris county voters in his bid for re-election. Lampson considered a challenge to Tom DeLay in the redrawn 22nd district, but decided to take his chances in the 2nd. The GOP performance index in the district (formerly the 9th) has gone from 54% (VAP) to 62%, and Lampson will be forced to introduce himself to many new voters less inclined to vote for a Democrat. The top Republican in the race seems to be Judge Ted Poe, but I could be wrong.

CD 3: Republicans Sam Johnson (I) or Brian Rubarts vs. No Democrat.

Rep. Sam Johnson faces token opposition in this heavily Republican suburban north Dallas / Plano seat.

CD 4: Democrats Jerry D. Ashford, Jr. or Jim Nickerson vs. Republicans Ralph Hall (I), Mike Mosher or Mike Murphy

Party-switching Ralph Hall is likely to win re-election as a Republican in this heavily Republican district north and east of Dallas. Even so, Hall could have himself a bit of trouble in the Republican primary. His Republican opponent Mike Murphy after Hall stated some rather erratic views in front of the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board, "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." Still, Ralph Hall, who has been endorsed by President Bush has the advantage. The victor of the Republican primary should have no trouble winning this November.

CD 5: Republican Jeb Hensarling (I) vs. Democrat Bill Bernstein.

District 5 has changed significantly with redistricting, but Jeb Hensarling should have no trouble winning re-election against Bill Bernstein. The district has a 65% Republican VAP.

CD 6: Republican Joe Barton (I) vs. Democrat Morris Meyer.

District 6 has changed a little bit, including all of the city of Arlington and many of Martin Frost's current constituents. For awhile, Martin Frost considered running against Joe Barton, but felt like he had a better chance running in the 32nd in north and west Dallas. Morris Meyer is a good candidate for the Democratic Party, running a grassroots and online campaign (his use of BlogAds has been impressive), but he certainly has a tough, uphill battle to oust an entrenched Republican opponent on GOP turf.

CD 7: Republicans John Culberson(I) or Sam Texas vs. John Martinez.

John Culberson should have no trouble defeating perrenial candidate Sam Texas or Democratic challenger John Martinez in his suburban west Harris County district

CD 8: Republican Kevin Brady (I) vs. Democrat James "Jim" Wright

District 8 remains centered in heavily Republican suburban Montgomery County. Kevin Brady will face token opposition from Democrat James "Jim" Wright (presumed no relation to former Speaker Jim Wright).

CD 9: Democrats Chris Bell (I), Al Green or Republicans Beverly A. Spencer vs. A.R. Hassan or Arlette Molina.

Congressman Chris Bell has a tough re-election challenge in the new Black plurality 9th district in Houston. Al Green is a longtime Justice of the Peace in Houston and has significant support among the Black community. This race could go either way.

CD 10: Republicans John Devine, Teresa Doggett Taylor, Pat Elliott, John Kelley, Michael T. McCaul, Dave Phillips Attorney, Ben Streusand or Brad Tashenberg vs. No Democrat.

District 10 used to be contained entirely within Travis County and represented by Lloyd Doggett. It has historically been a central Texas district previously represented by Lyndon B. Johnson and Jake Pickle. After redistricting it stretches from central Austin to Katy, TX (Houston suburb). It has a 66% Republican VAP index. Former Austin mayor Gus Garcia considered running as a Democrat for this seat, but ultimately declined. Current district 10 represenative Lloyd Doggett is running for re-election in the 25th district. Thus, the congressman for district 10 will be picked in an April run-off between the top two vote-getters today. The Austin Chronicle best summarizes the candidates:

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.

CD 11: Republicans Mike Conaway or Bill Lester vs. Democrat Wayne Raasch.

This district was drawn to please Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick. It gives the Midland-Odessa area the dominate population center of a congressional district. The favorite in both the primary and the general election is Mike Conaway, a friend of president Bush, and narrow loser to Randy Neugebauer in the special election in district 19 last year.

CD 12: Republican Kay Granger (I) vs. Democrat Felix Alvarado.

Redistricting has shifted district 12 to the west taking in several counties west of Fort Worth, however the base of the district remains in west Fort Worth and Kay Granger as congresswoman and former mayor of Fort Worth should have an easy re-election.

CD 13: Republican Mac Thornberry (I) vs. No Democrat.

CD 14: Republican Ron Paul (I) vs. No Democrat.

CD 15: Democrat Rubén Hinojosa (I) vs. Republicans Alexander Hamilton, Paul B. Haring or Michael D. Thamm.

On paper the 15th Congressional district should be competetive. After redistricting the district barely has a 50% Democratic Index for the Voting Age Population (however overall, it rises to 55%). The new district winds from Hidalgo County on the border to Bastrop County, just east of Austin. While it has a significant Hispanic majority, it takes in many rural White counties as well. It may be competetive in the fall, but Hinojosa's seniority gives him a strong advantage.

CD 16: Democrat Silvestre Reyes (I) vs. Republicans David Brigham or Bobby Ortiz.

Being surrounded on three sides by Mexico and New Mexico, it's hard to do to much to El Paso in redistricting. Silvestre Reyes ought to win re-election easily.

CD 17: Democrat Chet Edwards (I) vs. Republicans Dave McIntyre, Dot Snyder or Arlene Wohlgemuth.

Chet Edwards will have the fight of his life against the winner of the Republicans primary. Conservative champion Arlene Wohlgemuth is the favorite, but Waco Republicans will probably favor Dot Snyer, who was recruited to run before redistricting. In the general, Edwards will run well in Waco, but Ford Hood, the city of Temple, Coryell and Bell counties - where Edwards is popular - have been removed. The new district runs to the north into the heavily Republican Fort Worth suburbs (where Wohlgemuth hails from).

CD 18: Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee (I) vs. No Republican.

CD 19: Republican Randy Neugebauer (I) vs. Democrat Charles W. Stenholm (I).

Redistricting has forced these two incumbents to run against one another in a west Texas district. Both candidates will surely be well funded, but Neugebauer will certain have the advantage. Not only will Charlie Stenholm need to introduce himself to the heavily Republican voters of Lubbock, but Stenholm has only narrowly fended his last couple of lackluster Republican challengers. Neugebauer will be formidable.

CD 20: Democrat Charles A. Gonzalez vs. Republican Roger Scott vs. Independent Becky Whetstone.

Charlie Gonzalez should have little trouble winning re-election, but his former wife's (Whetstone's) Independent candidacy should make this race interesting.

CD 21: Republican Lamar Smith (I) vs. Democrat Rhett R. Smith.

Lamar Smith has some new Austin constituents, but he should have relatively little difficulty winning in this 67% Republican district.

CD 22: Republican Tom DeLay (I) vs. Democrats Richard R. Morrison or Erik Saenz.

As is typical, Democrats are in a contest for the priveledge of taking on Tom DeLay, the architect of the redistricting mess. Richard Morrison has courted bloggers as well, and you can check out an interview he had with Off the Kuff, here.

CD 23: Republican Henry Bonilla vs. Democrats Joe Sullivan or Virgil W. Yanta.

Henry Bonilla had a tough challenge in 2002 by Democrat Henry Cuellar. In fact, on election night before many of the San Antonio returns came in, it looked as if Cuellar had pulled off an upset. Redistricting, however, made this district significantly safer for Bonilla by cutting Webb County (heavily Democratic Laredo) in half, and throwing the eastern half into district 28.

CD 24: Republicans Bill Dunn, Kenny Marchant, Cynthia Newman or Terry Waldrum vs. Democrat Gary R. Page.

State Representative Kenny Marchant is the Republican consensus choice for this new DFW midcities district. He should win the primary and general election easily over former Green, now Democrat Gary Page.

CD 25: Democrats Lloyd Doggett (I) or Leticia Hinojosa vs. Republicans Regner A. Capener Minister or Rebecca Armendariz Klein.

Lloyd Doggett and Leticia Hinojosa are in a tough fight for the Democratic nomination. In fact, this race is really two races. In Austin, where Doggett is expected to win big (although State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos has endorsed Hinojosa) and in the valley where Hinojosa is running strong. Many Doggett supporters were worried about the high early vote turnout in the valley, but Austin had a very large early vote turnout in the final day of early voting. On the Republican side, the Republican establishment is backing Armendariz Klein, but this district is solidly Democratic.

CD 26: Republican Michael C. Burgess (I) vs. Democrat Lico Reyes.

Despite dipping into Fort Worth to take in parts of Martin Frost's 24th district, this Denton County based district remains safe for Michael Burgess.

CD 27: Democrat Solomon P. Ortiz (D) vs. Republicans Jesus A. Caquias or William (Willie) Vaden.

On paper this district looks competetive. The DPI is in the low 50s. However, it's unlikely that Solomon Ortiz, with his senority would be in much trouble.

CD 28: Democrats Ciro D. Rodriguez (I) or Henry Cuellar vs. Chris Bellamy, Francisco "Quico" Canseco, James (Jim) F. Hopson or Gabriel (Gabe) Perales, Jr.

The race between Ciro Rodriguez and Henry Cuellar has been intense during the Democratic primay. Cuellar is former Democratic state representative from Laredo, he endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, then served as a Secretary of State under Rick Perry before resigning to run for Congress against (and almost defeat) Henry Bonilla. Rodriguez has perhaps the most liberal voting record of any Texas Hispanic Congressman. A strong early vote out of Laredo has given Rodriguez a lot to worry about, and this race should be close. Either Rodriguez or Cuellar would have little trouble winning in November.

CD 29: Democrat Gene Green (I) vs. No Republican.

Despite representing a heavily Hispanic district in Houston, Gene Green, an Anglo Democrat has no opposition from either party.

CD 30: Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson (I) vs. No Republican.

CD 31: Republican John R. Carter (I), Wes Riddle or Dirk Armbrust vs. Democrat Jon Porter.

Rep. John Carter has a primary challenge in his newly configured district, but he remains the strong favorite in both the primary and the general.

CD 32: Democrat Martin Frost (I) vs. Republican Pete Sessions (I).

Perhaps ground zero of the redistricting battle will be in north Dallas this fall. While the district includes the heavily Republican Park Cities and North Dallas, Martin Frost is quick to mention that the district is also half minority (about 35% Hispanic, 10% Black, 5% Asian). Due to the partisan balance of the district, Pete Sessions is the favorite, but the election will be very expensive and hard fought.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Election Night Parties in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Here are some of them, via the Travis County Democratic Party:

The House Democratic Campaign Committee

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
The Apple Bar
120 West 5th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20, Cash Bar

Come join the HDCC as we await the results of the Texas primary elections. Your support will benefit Democratic candidates for the Texas House of Representatives.

Join Todd Radford's E-Day party!

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
Speakeasy, 412 Congress Ave

Please join Todd Radford, candidate for Sheriff, for his Election

Election Party for Gisela Triana

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
7:30 p.m.
Cuba Libre, 409 Colorado

Please join Gisela Triana for the Election Night Party at Cuba Libre.

Texans for Kerry E-Night Party

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
8 p.m.
B.D. Riley's Pub, 204 East 6th Street

Come watch the primary results on the big screen with fellow John Kerry supporters!

Greg Hamilton Election Night Party

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
7:15 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Baby Acapulco, 5610 N IH 35

Please join Greg Hamilton and his supporters for an Election Night Party.

Hohengarten E-Night Party

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
7:30 p.m.
4002 Avenue H

Please join Nancy Hohengarten for an Election Night Party.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You Know Bush is in Trouble...

By Byron LaMasters

When Fred Barnes and William Kristol are worried...

Lack of concerted effort is the least alarming part of Bush's problem. What's worse is the White House and the Bush campaign seem to have been spooked. They seem fearful and tentative and weak at exactly the moment when they need to be confident and aggressive. Democrats and their allies are united behind Bush's opponent, John Kerry, and have no qualms about attacking the president on any subject whatsoever. At best, Bush's aides respond defensively. At worst, their clumsiness turns a minor flap into a prolonged controversy.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004


By Andrew Dobbs

From Talking Points Memo:

A GOP insider told The Hill a couple weeks ago that there is a "real possibility ... we could see President Bush giving his acceptance speech at Ground Zero. It’s clearly a venue they’re considering.”

Let's be clear. The White House hasn't said they're going to do this. And we don't have any direct knowledge that they're considering it. But the idea is apparently being widely discussed in Republican circles.

I mean, the question isn't whether that would be a crass use of the 9/11 tragedies for political gain. The question is whether it's possible to imagine anything more crass. Isn't ground zero something like a graveyard?

What could be worse? The president addressing the crowd wearing a pelt from a recently executed Guantanamo prisoner? Personally executing Saddam on stage with a scimitar?

Not to be flippant, but could anything be more crass than accepting a presidential nomination on ground that is still mixed with the bodies of thousands of Americans?

Lincoln dedicated a cemetery at Gettysburg; he didn't hold the 1864 Republican convention there.

I doubt that Karl Rove would ever lose such control of his senses that he would allow George Bush to give his acceptance speech from Ground Zero, but the fact that its even being floated around is pretty telling. For the GOP the deaths of 3000 Americans is political capital, they are overjoyed that such a terrible event occurred on their man's watch so that they can exploit the tragedy for his reelection. This is shameful, mind boggling.

Of course, the question is now being floated- why is this president playing up his role in allowing for the biggest failure of intelligence, law enforcement and national security in American history? It's pretty clear that 9/11 probably would never have happened if Bush had pursued the proposals developed vis a vis Afghanistan towards the end of the Clinton Administration. If he had listened to his own briefings and followed the lead of his own Attorney General (who stopped using commercial airliners after briefings similar to the president's before 9/11) he might have been able to head this off at the ground level. I'm not ready to blame George Bush for the attacks quite yet, but questions exist and I don't know that the president should be encouraging people to rexamine his role in this tragedy when he wants their votes.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:00 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Primary Preview 2002

By Byron LaMasters

Tonight, I'll be posting a primary preview for 2004, but as I'm about to prepare a review of the primary elections on this year's Texas Primary Eve, I find myself reflecting on the 2002 primaries. The following is a piece which I wrote as an email on Sunday, March 10, 2002. It should bring back some memories for a lot of us:

Races to watch... Texas Primary 2002

Governor (Dem Primary):
Sanchez vs. Morales. Sanchez should win this... I'm guessing with 55-60%.

US Senate (Dem):
Kirk vs. Bentsen vs. V. Morales. This race could break several ways with any two of these three in a run-off. Everyone was talking about this race last year, then when Dan Morales filed against Tony Sanchez, this race took a back-seat. There are several unknowns. Will Ron Kirk's late ad blitz help? Will his endorsements from Houston Mayor Lee Brown and former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros make an impact? Will V. Morales benefit from a large Hispanic turnout? How much will Bentsen benefit from his uncle's name recognition? Most
notably, how will the many people that have not taken an active interest in this race... who are more interested in the Gov. race vote?

Land Commissioner (GOP):
This is the only major Republican statewide contest. Cornyn and Dewherst (Sen, Lt. Gov candidates) have token opposion, but this race for an open seat has a spirted GOP primary between Dallas State Rep. Kenn George and former state Sen. Jerry Patterson. Patterson lost in the 1998 primary to Dewherst. This
could go either way. Its been particularly nasty with Patterson attacking George's business dealings extensively.

Land Commissioner (Dem):
Beaumont State Sen. David Bernsen (not to be confused with Rep. Ken Bentsen) is the favorite against Ray Madrigal - a perrenial candidate and small business owner from Corpus Christi. Bernsen is a good ol' boy, NRA member, etc - the kind of Democrat that has a good chance to win in Texas... but he's still a good Democrat and votes with Democrats the majority of the time. As a State Senator he authored the law that closed one of the grandfather loopholes for heavy polluting industries - so he has strong support from environmentalists, but doesn't have the image of a tree-hugging liberal. Anyway, this race is very interesting in that it will show the strength of an Unknown Hispanic against an established State Senator. Bernsen is clearly the better qualified candidate, but the huge Hispanic turnout could hurt him. Bernsen has been all over the state and has all the major endorsements... Madrigal has limited his appeal mostly to South Texas and Hispanics.

Agricultural Commissioner (Dem):
State Rep. Tom Ramsay vs. Brownsville City Commissioner Ernesto DeLeon. This is another race where an established state legislator is running against a relatively unknown Hispanic. However, Ramsay IMO is in more trouble than Bernsen. Ramsay hasn't been as active as Bernsen, and Ernesto DeLeon has been traveling across the state. Furthermore, DeLeon has some recognition from running for Ag. Commissioner in 1998 (he lost in the primary). DeLeon
has also worked for both the US Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture, and has actively campaigned across the state. This
race may be close. Still, whoever the nominee is - will likely lose to the popular GOP incumbent, Susan Combs.

Railroad Commissioner (Dem):
No biggie here... I support Sherry Boyles...

There are several interesting statewide Judicial races for Republicans:

Supreme Court Place 3 and 4: Two incumbent minority Repuiblicans, Wallace B. Jefferson (Black) and Xavier Rodriguez (Hispanic) who were appointed by Rick Perry are challenged by more conservative whites. Perry and Bush support the minories, but will the rank and file Republican primary voters?

Congressional races (open seats):

5th District (Dem):
Judge Ron Chapman should win the nomination easily
over two unknowns.
5th District (GOP):
Pete Sessions is moving to the new open 32nd, so this seat is open. Out of five GOP candidates, I see a 3-way race between Gulf War vetren Dan Hagood, former Phil Graham aide Jeb Hensarling and Houston laywer Phil Sudan, who has loaned his campaign several million dollars. I think that either Hagood or
Hensarling would make strong GOP candidates. Phil Graham is working hard for Hensarling. If Sudan wins the nomination... I can see the DCCC ads already "Do
you want your Congressman to be a Houston laywer?" - Chapman would trounce him.

25th District (Dem):
This is a pretty solidly Dem district now. It's open with Betsen running for US Senate. There's four candidates, Carroll G. Robinson, Paul Colbert, Chris
Bell and Steven King. The district is about 25-30% Black and Robinson is the only Black candidate. He should make the run-off with one of the other White
candidates. Robinson and Bell are Houston city councilman and Bell is well known as he ran for mayor, got only 17% of the vote, then endorsed Lee Brown in the run-off. King is a lawyer and Colbert is a former
State representative.

26th District (GOP):
Six candidates are running in the GOP primary to replace Dick Armey. The favorite is his son, Denton County Judge Scott Armey. His strongest challengers
seem to be Army Vetren Keith Self and Physician Michael Burgess.

31st District (GOP):
Eight candidates are running for this new seat that stretches from the Austin suburbs to the Houston suburbs. There's not really a frontrunner, and it will definitely go into a run-off. Two of the candidates - perhaps two of the strongest are from outside the district. Brad Barton, son of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton has moved into the district and has some Washington support via his dad. The other, Peter Wareing has run for Congress before and is a free-spending
millionaire. There's a judge and a bunch of folks running here. It's a heavily GOP district so the winner will be the next congressman.

Legislative races:

There's lots of interesting and close races. Most notable for casual observers are races when moderate Republicans (RINO's) are being challenged...

Texas Senate:

SD 1 (east Texas): Moderate Sen. Bill Ratliff is being challenged by Jerry Yost who is supported by the Religious Right.

SD 17 (Houston Suburbs): Moderate State Rep. Kyle Janek is running against Harris County (Houston) GOP chair Gary Polland who is supported by the Religous Right in an open seat race.

SD 25 (Northern San Antonio suburbs and Central Texas): By far the most interesting and contentious race. Moderate pro-choice state Sen. Jeff Wentworth is challenged by arch-conservative State Rep. John Shields.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:21 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Someone mentioned that the recent Perry episode would likely hurt my chances of being accepted by the bar when that day comes to pass.

Ever the diligent wannabe-lawyer, I dug up this passage in state law:

Sec. 82.028. Moral Character and Fitness of Applicant.

a. The Board of Law Examiners may conduct an investigation of the moral character and fitness of each applicant for a license.

b. The board may contract with public or private entities for investigative services relating to the moral character and fitness of applicants.

c. The board may not recommend denial of a license and the supreme court may not deny a license to an applicant because of a deficiency in the applicant's moral character or fitness unless:

1. the board finds a clear and rational connection between a character trait of the applicant and the likelihood that the applicant would injure a client or obstruct the administration of justice if the applicant were licensed to practice law; or

2. the board finds a clear and rational connection between the applicant's present mental or emotional condition and the likelihood that the applicant will not discharge properly the applicant's responsibilities to a client, a court, or the legal profession if the applicant is licensed to practice law.

d. The board shall limit its investigation under this section to those areas clearly related to the applicant's moral character and present fitness to practice law.

There are reasons why I'd be sorry about this whole sad affair (example number 1 - if it really was putting a strain on the Perry family, as it appears it may be, and for that I am sorry).

But I'm not really sure this is one of them.

The Board of Legal Examiners is further governed by Rule IV --

(b) Good moral character is a functional assessment of character and fitness of a prospective lawyer. The purpose of requiring an Applicant to possess present good moral character is to exclude from the practice of law those persons possessing character traits that are likely to result in injury to future clients, in the obstruction of the administration of justice, or in a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. These character traits usually involve either dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness in carrying out responsibilities. There may be other character traits that are relevant in the admission process, but such traits must have a rational connection with the Applicant’s present fitness or capacity to practice law and accordingly must relate to the legitimate interests of Texas in protecting prospective clients and in safeguarding the system of justice within Texas.

Now, I know that we've already been tried in the Court of Public Opinion (presiding judge, The Austin American Statesman). But lacking a tort, there is no formal complaint of wrong-doing on my part. At this point, it is simply a game of he said, he said.

Moreover, the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct consistently allude to "knowing" deception or misleading. Nothing I ever posted here was knowingly false; indeed, it was factually accurate to the extent that (a) there was a rumor and (b) I was describing the nature of the rumor.

According to the ABA, the TBLE, and just about everywhere else I can find some description of what the standard of character is, the question involved is usually dishonesty, not stupidity.

Sure, this is embarassing, and shameful, and something I'll live to regret -- but what of it? So was the time I dropped my parents video camera in the pool. So was the time that I went around the neighborhood letting air out of bicycle tires to see what it smelled like (I was about 6).

If the state Board of Legal Examiners was going to string a man up every time someone called into question his moral judgement, there'd be no lawyers left.

We're talking about the state board of legal examiners, not the Star Chamber.

(I'd note though, that my career in journalism is probably finished. Although I personally think this has as much to do with Perry's potentially slanderous accusations against the Burnt Orange Report ("conspiracy"; "organized effort" to slime him, etc.) than it has to do with our potentially libelous musings about his sexuality. Mainstream journalism is practically a religion, and there's a wide gap between what constitutes "journalistic integrity" and what constitutes the "integrity" which most normal people are judged by.)

Finally, reading the TDRPC, state law, etc. I get the feeling that Charles Soechting would get disbarred long before I would ever get barred from acceptance to the bar.

Aside from rubbing (perhaps deserved) shame in my face, I quite frankly think these commentors are simply being hysterical, or attempting to intimidate. This hasn't been fun for anybody, but I fully intend to move on with my life.

I of course, invite lawyers (since they've been there, done that) to say a few thoughtful things about this.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:41 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be...

By Jim Dallas

Unknown Country informs us that the Catholic Church used to recognize gay marriages.

(Then again, they also used to burn witches).

The sooner that we all acknowledge that so many of our "traditional Judeo-Christian" mores stem from an era when Christianity was already at least 1700 years old, though, the better. E.g. the Great Awakening and later the Victorian Era.

Indeed, many of the ideas which make up so-called fundamentalism actually weren't fully formed until about 1920. How modern!

(Then again, they used to have public lynchings...).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:50 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Electoral Math Looks Good

By Andrew Dobbs

Barron's commissioned John Zogby to poll all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) to measure the shaping up of electors for 2004. Its conclusion is a perhaps predictable yet still exciting one: Bush is in serious trouble:

Barron's Online asked noted pollster John Zogby, president and chief executive officer of Zogby International, to lay out the electoral map as he sees it, based on various polls conducted throughout the country, including his own.

The table below spells it out: Senator Kerry is ahead in 18 of the so-called Blue states (including the District of Columbia), representing some 226 electoral votes.

President Bush leads in 21 of the Red states, with 176 electoral votes. A dozen more states, with 136 electoral votes, are considered "in play."

But if Zogby's current estimate holds, all the Massachusetts senator will need to do is take Ohio and Florida to pass the 270-vote threshold and win the presidency.

President Bush, despite his incumbency, would seem to have an uphill battle here, if things continue as they are now.

Why? Because only four of the states that we list as "in play" (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington) were Blue states in 2000, when they delivered a majority for Vice-President Al Gore.

The other eight states that are "in play" now (including Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Missouri), with a treasure trove of 98 electoral votes, were part of Bush Country in 2000.

That suggests the Democratic presidential candidate is holding his base of support better than the president is, allowing Senator Kerry to peel off a couple of the paler Red states from the president's column.

"National poll numbers are irrelevant," Zogby says. "What is relevant is how the president plays in the Red states, and how the Democrats play in the Blue states."

The whole "rush to the middle" strategy that has defined presidential politics since time immemorial (or at least since 1992) might come to an end thanks to George "Uniter Not Divider" Bush. Why? Because we are as divided as ever today. Culturally liberal voters on the coasts and the industrial Midwest won't vote for Bush. Culturally conservative voters in the Sun Belt, South and Mountain West won't vote for Kerry. Bada bing, we are at 226-176 and all Kerry has to do is remind Ohio about how many jobs have been lost thanks to GWB and he's at 246, wisely pick a running mate (like New Mexico's Bill Richardson) who will play well in Arizona (256 now), and maybe even in increasingly Hispanic Colorado (265) and focus on holding onto Minnesota (275) and he's President. Plus, contentious Senate races in Colorado, Florida and Missouri might bring out enough Democratic voters to swing those states Kerry's way, adding FL and MO to the total makes it 318- a solid victory.

The great thing is that with such a small number of true swing states, we can focus our money and Bush's $200 million might not be that big a deal after all. I suppose he could run ads in some of the less sure Blue states such as Maine, New Mexico or Iowa, but Kerry will be able to point to his radical social agenda in Maine, his easily decried (from both Left and Right) immigration plans in New Mexico (which will be solid if my dreamboat running mate is chosen) and his horrific policy on jobs and trade in Iowa. The election is going to be tough.

Of course, the usual caveat that anything can happen in 8 months applies here. 8 months ago Howard Dean looked like the likely Dem candidate, Bush looked absolutely unbeatable and the idea that we might have a shot at either the House or the Senate seemed laughable at best. Now we could potentially have Dem control of the federal government. An Osama bin Laden capture would give a good boost to Bush, dropping Cheney and picking a more likable running mate (Owens of CO or Tom Ridge would both be very good for Bush) or several months of just bang up job creation would turn the corner for Bush. Still, the way I look at it, in 2000 Bush was 500,000 votes down from the Democrats, about 3 million down if you add in Nader voters. Has he really made that many friends in the past 4 years? Sizeable numbers of Democrats voted for him, 50% of Hispanics voted for him and moderates saw him as a more personable version of his father- level headed and middle of the road. He's lost all the Democrats, he's lost most of his Hispanic support and moderates are a dying breed in this divided country. I don't see him making it out alive, but we'll see come November.

Kerry/Richardson 2004!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:47 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

Funny Mondays Returns

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Yes, it's that time of week when you don't want to actually go to class or to work. So instead you choose to sit around reading the Burnt Orange Report. Fine be me.

This week's humor comes from a link to a link that someone suggested last week. So yes, you too can be useful if you leave comments or e-mail me (to the right) any funny things you want to bring to my attention.

We all love church signs. Some of the best slogans are found on them. So here is an entire site of them. My favorite two are in the extended entry.



Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

TNR on Ralph Nader

By Jim Dallas

Say what you will about TNR these days, but I still have a lot of respect for the "Jonathans" Chait and Cohen (as well as Franklin Foer). Here is what Chait says, in a nutshell:

As Nader embarks upon his fourth protest run against the Democrats in as many elections, there is something slightly ridiculous about the shock of his liberal critics. They still don't know who they're dealing with. Nader is not a heroic figure tragically overcome by his own flaws; he is a selfish, destructive maniac who, for a brief historical period, happened upon a useful role.

In the waning days of the 2000 election, some of Nader's campaign advisers urged him to concentrate on uncontested states, like New York and California, where he could attract local media without competition from the major-party candidates and win liberal voters who needn't fear tipping the race to George W. Bush. Instead, he chose a whirlwind tour of battleground states, campaigning in Pennsylvania and Florida, where votes would be harder to come by but more consequential to the outcome of the race. Liberals assume Nader tried to maximize his vote total without regard to how it affected Bush and Gore. The truth is that he actively sought to help Bush, even at the expense of his own vote total.

Chait carefully details how Nader's personal demons doomed the Consumer Protection Act in the 1970s and undermined progressives for decades.

I'd hope that Kerry would do what nobody else has had the guts to do - actually challenge Nader to a debate. True, Nader would spend the entire hour misrepresenting Kerry and his record. But if Kerry does a halfway competent job, he ought to be able to defend himself, and score a few potshots on "Saint Ralph" as well.

A Kerry-Nader debate ought to be a rout, and should serve to strengthen Democrats claims that Nader is simply wrong to be in this race.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Activist Judges? Not Really

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I just got finished reading a New York Times article in my e-mail that had some very interesting quotes in it that put into words exactly what I have been thinking these past few weeks.

Opponents of gay marriage have tried to place all of the blame for recent events on "activist judges." Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, has called for a Congressional investigation of "judicial invalidation of traditional marriage laws." The judiciary, however, is only one part of a much larger story. Gay rights and gay marriages are being driven by an array of social forces and institutions. In California, the driving force has been an elected mayor, with the support of his constituents. In that case, it is gay marriage opponents who are asking judges to step in.

To the extent that the courts do have a leading role, it is perfectly natural. Gay marriage opponents like to portray judges as alien beings, but state court judges are an integral part of state government. They were elected, or appointed by someone who was. The founders created three equal branches, and a Constitution setting out broad principles, at both the national and state levels. Courts are supposed to give life to phrases like "equal protection" and "due process." Much of the nation's progress, from integration to religious freedom, has been won just this way.

And then...

Final Destination The controversy over same-sex weddings has obscured the remarkable transformation in opinion over civil unions. Less than 20 years ago, the United States Supreme Court enthusiastically upheld a Georgia law making gay sex a crime. Last year, the court reversed itself, and a national consensus seems to be forming that gay couples have a right to, at the least, enter into civil unions that carry the same rights as marriage. Even President Bush, who has endorsed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, has suggested he had no problem with states' recognizing civil unions.

Civil unions, with rights similar to marriage, are a major step, but ultimately only an interim one. As both sides in the debate agree, marriage is something more than a mere bundle of legal rights. Whatever else the state is handing out when it issues a marriage license, whatever approval or endorsement it is providing, will ultimately have to be made available to all Americans equally.

To the Virginia judge who ruled that Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, could not marry, the reason was self-evident. "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents," he wrote. "And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages." Calling marriage one of the "basic civil rights of man," the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that Virginia had to let interracial couples marry. Thirty-seven years from now, the reasons for opposing gay marriage will no doubt feel just as archaic, and the right to enter into it will be just as widely accepted.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 06, 2004

Perry Low in Polls, Strayhorn Goes on Attack

By Byron LaMasters

Well, one explaination for Rick Perry going on the offensive yesterday is that his poll numbers are at a record low, and he's being attacked by members within his own party. The Austin American Statesman reports:

Texans aren't as enamored with Gov. Rick Perry as they once were, according to a new poll in which half the respondents disapproved of his job performance.

In a Texas Poll released Friday, 50 percent of respondents said the governor was doing poorly, while 40 percent said they believed Perry was doing well. Ten percent either had no opinion or gave no answer.


The results of the poll came as Perry denied long-swirling rumors about his personal life and marriage, saying that leading Democrats were spreading lies and "uncorroborated filth."

Perry told the Austin American-Statesman in a copyright story Friday that a smear campaign was behind rumors that he and his wife, Anita, plan to divorce over his alleged infidelity and that he will resign.

Political observers, including those in his own party, said they believe the governor's poor poll numbers are based on a year of bitter, rancorous fights over redistricting and balancing a $9.9 billion deficit by cutting social services and teachers' benefits, raising fees and allowing large hikes in college tuition.

"Texans know that this governor has abdicated his responsibilities and created local crises in education and health care by signing laws that balanced the budget on the backs of schoolteachers and our most vulnerable Texans," said Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a fellow Republican who has fought the governor on policy issues.

She cited a number of new costs to Texans, including $2.7 billion in new fees and the loss of $1.6 billion in federal money because of state cuts in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

As Republican Comptroller Carole Keyton Strayhorn correctly states, Rick Perry has "abdicated his responsibilities and created local crises in education and health care". Rick Perry has failed to lead, and that's why he's lashing out when his poll numbers falter. Rick Perry is trying to blame scandals that were dying in the mainstream and alternative media on his falling poll numbers, when the real reason for his falling poll numbers are of his failure to unite his party and his failure to lead.

I'll be commenting further on yesterday's Austin American Statesman story sometime late tomorrow or early Monday. I've spent time to speak with various friends and others that I trust over the past two days on the story, and I've also reflected upon the story myself. I have yet to reach a conclusion, but I'm coming close to deciding the course of action in which I will take.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:30 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Kerry Campaigns in H-Town

By Jim Dallas

MSNBC Reports.

Too bad nobody told me about it.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Kinky to take on Governor Perry

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It seems that Kinky Friedman is entering the race for Texas Governor (2006 election) as an Independent.

MEDINA, Texas (Reuters) -- Kinky Friedman, best-selling author, country music singer, humorist, friend of stray dogs and salsa merchant, is running for governor of Texas in 2006 as an independent. Friedman is the man behind the song "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed" and author of the book "Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned."

For all of those wondering why the front man for the country music group "The Texas Jewboys" wants to run the Lone Star State, Friedman will put down his cigar and say from under his 10-gallon hat: "Why the hell not?."

"I want to fight the wussification of the state of Texas. I want to rise and shine and bring back the glory of Texas," Friedman said. "I am a writer of fiction who tells the truth."

Friedman, whose first name is Richard but is known by Kinky and a few other names that are not publishable, does not have a campaign platform -- mostly out of fear there may be a trapdoor somewhere underneath that will spring open and leave him swinging.

He writes a regular column for Texas Monthly magazine and is the author of 17 novels. His dark mystery "The Prisoner of Vandam Street," comes out this month.

For those interested in the ways and manners of Texas, he wrote "The Guide to Texas Etiquette, or How to Get to Heaven or Hell Without Going Through Dallas-Fort Worth."

Friedman, 59, is serious about the governor's race. He hopes to campaign as a populist who will use his colourful image while borrowing a page or two from the campaign of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to build a voter base.

"We are taking a page from Howard Dean and a page from Arnold. And now the thing doesn't seem so crazy anymore to a lot of people," he said in an interview.


Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the main interest in the governor's race will be on the Republican nominee, and whether U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison will come back to Texas to take on incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry.

"Until the Republican candidate becomes clear, we can entertain ourselves with Kinky," Jillson said.

I'm not sure how much this would affect two party politics in the state of Texas, I'll leave that analysis to other writers here.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:52 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 05, 2004

So we made him deny it. So what?

By Jim Dallas

As has already been sufficiently covered, Gov. Perry has angrily denied rumors that we passed on, relating to certain details of the Governor's personal life.

For what it's worth, I take a certain satisfaction in knowing that four college kids with an Internet account can get under the skin of Gov. Perry in the way that we did. Maybe it's a sign that democracy in America is still functioning.

On the other hand, the true test of that will come on the day that Gov. Perry actually listens to what we and other members of our generation have to say about important policy matters.

When we slammed Perry about tuition increases at the University and other schools, did he care?

When I questioned the efficacy of the Trans-Texas Corridor, did he care?

Has Rick Perry cared any time we've had anything substantive to say about matters that effect the people of Texas? Please present evidence in the affirmative, if any exists.

That, my friends, is what's really defamed and corrupted democracy in Texas - that fact that our public leaders don't care any more.

Unless it's some college kids passing on rumors which, at the time, were very strongly corroborated by people "in the know" at the capitol and elsewhere in state politics.

Governor Perry - either our opinions matter, or they don't. Stop drawing double standards.

In other news, I got accepted to law school today. After much deliberation I voted for John Kerry yesterday. Substitute teaching has been muy bueno.

P.S. Please let me add that I sincerely regret any personal harm that our thoughts have caused the Governor and Mrs. Perry; although I still feel rather upset that the Governor singled-out our blog.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:42 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Statement By the Texas Democratic Party

By Byron LaMasters

Statement by Charles E. Soechting, Chair, Texas Democratic Party:

For more than two months now, rumors about Rick Perry's personal life have run rampant in the political community from Washington to Austin. The Democratic Party didn't start them, nor did we coordinate any personal attack on Rick Perry.

In fact, the rumors have been passed around by lobbyists, Republicans, and Democrats - as the Governor knows full well. This is not the first time in the Governor's long political career that personal rumors have surfaced. The Governor's attack on Democrats and his plea for sympathy is nothing more than a political tactic - designed to obscure the bankrupt policies and corrupt practices that have marked his administration.

Just two years ago, Rick Perry earned a reputation for running the most negative smear campaign in modern Texas history, and now he has decided to lash out and falsely blame Democrats in general and me in particular for these rumors.

Whenever it benefited him politically, Rick Perry has injected his mean-spirited politics into the lives of others. He is a man who approved millions of dollars of TV ads that falsely implied his opponent was responsible for murder and drug trafficking.

But what is truly indecent about the Governor's administration has nothing to do with the rumors about his personal life. The real damage being done to people can be seen in homes where children are denied health care, where students can no longer afford college due to skyrocketing tuition rates, and where teachers are laid off and school programs are cut because the Perry administration has put his extreme partisan agenda ahead of the interests of Texas families.

What is truly indecent is the Governor and his staff going scuba diving with his right wing millionaire contributors and holding secret meetings to develop policies that are not in the best interest of Texas families.

Like all Texans, I hope the Perry family is able to put the rumors and personal politics aside and go on with their lives. But we must also ask that the Governor show his future political opponents - and the people of Texas - that same respect.

The Governor can start that process by cleaning up his administration and starting work for the people instead of his millionaire right wing cronies, because the policies of the Perry administration have harmed more families in more ways than any rumor ever could.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rick Perry Doesn't Like Us

By Byron LaMasters

It's not every day that the governor attacks you personally. But, that's what the governor of Texas did yesterday. The front page of the Austin American Statesman reports:

For Web site operators, whose success is measured by "hits," it's been the kind of hot topic that attracts visitors.

For the Burnt Orange Report ("News, Politics and Fun from Deep in the Heart of Texas"), publication of the Perry rumors has meant unprecedented attention.

According to the site, the Burnt Orange Report is published by University of Texas students active in Democratic politics.

The site had its first posting about the Perry rumors on Feb. 13 under the headline "Rumors circulating about Gov. Perry."

"I've been hearing some interesting things from multiple sources about the marital relations of Gov. Rick Perry in the past day or two," the Web site's Byron L. wrote. "If anyone knows what I'm talking about and has information about the rumors, drop me a line."

Five days later, the Burnt Orange Report noted that it had received more visits in one day than it had in all of January. The traffic was credited to another Web site, atrios.blogspot.com, that linked 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," Byron L. wrote.

On Feb. 20, he noted his distaste for "reporting on rumors, scandals and speculation, but I find it hard to believe that this is all just an accident."

"In the past several days I've received a barrage of e-mails with information on this story. Today, I received an e-mail from a news station that said that they are following details of a possible affair by Rick Perry but are waiting for the story to hit the AP wire," Byron L. wrote.

According to a biography on the Burnt Orange Report, Byron L. is Byron LaMasters, a 21-year-old "pragmatic progressive Democrat" raised in suburban north Dallas now studying government at UT and active in University Democrats, including a stint as its president. Eventually, on Feb. 27, Byron L. told his readers: "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 e-mails 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," he noted. "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."

Contacted Thursday about Perry's comments, LaMasters had little to say.

"I basically said all along these are rumors," he said. "I think everything I've written on my Web site speaks for itself."

Perry had no sympathy for anyone using a we-said-it-was-just-a-rumor defense.

"What's wrong is they have been a Web site that has denigrated the political process, in my opinion, to a great degree," he said. "If the future of politics is this, the future is dismal and dim for Texas, for America, for the political process."

Frankly, more than anything, I'm amused. I'm amused that the governor of Texas found it necessary to take the time to come out and attack this weblog on the front page of the Austin American Statesman. By making a big fuss about this, he only gives us more attention. I don't exactly think that's what he wants, but then again, I've never really been able to understand Rick Perry before, and I doubt that I will be able to in the future.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:11 AM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

Ralph Don't Run

By Byron LaMasters

This is enough evidence for me.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:44 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 04, 2004

Firefighters and Families Angry with Bush Ad

By Byron LaMasters

It's no surprise, but President Bush is exploiting 9/11 for political gain. The San Jose Mercury News reports:

President Bush's new campaign ads drew a sharply negative reaction Thursday from families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and from a firefighters union that supports Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

The Bush campaign began broadcasting four ads on Thursday in 17 states that are expected to be battlegrounds in November. One of the ads shows the smoldering wreckage of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, with a flag flying in the rubble. Another ad shows firefighters carrying a flag-draped stretcher. The International Association of Fire Fighters, which is backing Kerry, denounced the ads and demanded that Bush pull them.

The ads brought several victims' relatives to tears and triggered angry charges that Bush was exploiting others' misery for political gain.

"Using my dead friends and my dead brother for political expediency is dead wrong," said Chris Burke, whose brother, Tom, died in the North Tower. "It's wrong, it's bad taste and an insult to the 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11."

George W. Bush is exploiting 9/11 for political gain. It's an outrage and we need to speak out.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:21 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

So I guess Reagan was wrong after all...

By Jim Dallas

The Houston Chronicle reports on the new rules released by the state food nazis:

AUSTIN -- Schools must combat rising childhood obesity by tossing out deep fryers, serving fresh vegetables and clamping down on snack foods under sweeping state guidelines unveiled Wednesday.

The new food rules limit everything from fund-raising bake sales to grams of fat and will have an impact on 93 percent of Texas public and charter schools, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

French fries survived a no-fried-foods ban, to be phased in over five years, but will have to be baked and served no more than once a week to elementary schoolchildren.

Personally, I'm curious why the state thinks that changing kids' diets will solve everything. I tend to think we need a "get the kids off their fat asses" plan more than a "eat your damn veggies" plan.

But I also wonder how kids are going to consume America's favorite vegetable, ketchup, without a steady supply of french fries:

(If you're too young to remember, Wiki has the details -- "In 1981, Ronald Reagan's budget director, David Stockman, proposed classifying ketchup as a vegetable as part of Reagan's budget cuts for federally financed school lunch programs (it would make it cheaper to satisfy the requirements on vegetable content of lunches). The suggestion was widely ridiculed and the proposal was killed.")

You know, if the Republicans are going to blame Clinton for the Bush Recession, 9/11, and Janet Jackson's boob, it ought to be fair to blame Reagan for our kids being fat and stupid.

(The again, we'd probably be reminded about Clinton's attempts to reclassify salsa as a "vegetable salad," which is slightly more plausible, but just barely.)

But what's a few calories between friends?

In related news, I'm now in favor of putting Reagan on the dime. In fact I want to go father - I want to put George W. Bush on the nickle. Why? So that when we and our children are getting nickled and dimed to pay for trillion-dollar deficits, we'll remember who to blame.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:35 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Kerry Raises $1.2 Million Online in 24 Hours

By Byron LaMasters

I was part of this. John Kerry raised $1.2 Million online in the 24 hours following Super Tuesday:

Kerry's aides said he brought in a record $1.2 million over the Internet in less than 24 hours after locking up the Democratic nomination Tuesday. Like former rival Howard Dean, Kerry hopes to attract legions of small-dollar donors through the Internet.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Baylor "Outraged" over Gay Marriage Editorial

By Byron LaMasters

This is funny:

Baylor University's president says he is "justifiably outraged" over a student newspaper editorial defending gay marriage.

Robert B. Sloan Jr.'s strongly worded statement ran today in the Baylor Lariat, the newspaper of the world's largest Baptist university.

"We have already heard from a number of students, alumni and parents who are, as am I, justifiably outraged over this editorial," Sloan wrote.

"Espousing in a Baylor publication a view that is so out of touch with traditional Christian teachings is not only unwelcome, it comes dangerously close to violating university policy, as published in the student handbook, prohibiting the advocacy of any understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching," Sloan wrote.

The paper also published a statement today from the student publications board, a group of faculty and administrators overseeing the newspaper, calling the Friday editorial a violation of student publications policy, said board member Larry Brumley.

The policy states that no editorial stance of student publications should "attack the basic tenets of Christian theology or of Christian morality."

So basically, Baylor is telling it's students not to think. Lovely. The Daily Texan was understandably outraged:

Sloan's statement reeks of hypocrisy when he writes:

"... while we [Baylor] respect the right of students to hold and express divergent viewpoints, we do not support the use of publications such as the Lariat, which is published by the University, to advocate positions that undermine foundational Christian principles upon which this institution was founded and currently operates."

Basically, Sloan supports students expressing their views so long as those views are not in the student newspaper. Sloan can't have it both ways. If Baylor truly supports student expression, they would not state what viewpoints are not allowed in the Lariat.

Baylor's religious identity plays a large role in its classrooms on its campus. But the role of religion should not supersede (or interfere with) the process of critical thinking, especially at an institution of higher learning.

The Baylor editorial board made a decision after reviewing the facts and taking all sides of the debate into account. Their opinion speaks for themselves, not the University.

Sloan, Baylor alumni and current students can disagree with the editorial board's stance.

But they should not seek to end the discussion.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Which is Worse?

By Byron LaMasters

Having to view BlogAds everyday? Or having to look at John Kerry everyday (see below BlogAds)? Well, we now are forcing our viewers do to both (sorry!). I would like to see which is preferable to our viewers, but I don't really have any appologies. I need some money, and John Kerry is our nominee (and Morris Meyer is a great candidate for Congress), and he deserves our support. As much as John Kerry is not my favorite choice for President, he's our nominee, and he has my full support.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:25 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

I Lost...

By Andrew Dobbs

Just so you guys know, I lost big time tonight in the SG elections. There were a lot of improprieties and we'll keep appealing some of the decisions up the pike but its pretty clear that even if the other side hadn't cheated they probably would have won. I lost 70-30 and everyone else on the ticket I worked for lost also. It stinks, but I wasn't expecting much better- the way these things work, the establishment always wins and we weren't the establishment. Thanks for the support all of you guy gave, I'll try and win next time I run for something.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:59 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

As you certainly have noticed... We've joined BlogAds. I'll have more on BlogAds soon, but let us know what you think now. If you have any suggestions.. let us know...


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Houston Chronicle Sells Out

By Byron LaMasters

What a shame. This is crap:

In the March 9 Democratic primary for which early voting is now under way, the Chronicle recommends voters renominate two veteran incumbent lawmakers for the state House: Ron Wilson in District 131 in south and southwest Harris County and Scott Hochberg in District 137 in southwest Houston.

Wilson, first elected to the Legislature in 1976, knows the ins and outs of legislative mechanics better than most representatives in Austin, and he is a powerful voice for the interests of Houstonians. While he angered some Democrats by siding with Republicans last year on redistricting, Wilson defends his stance on the issue as strategic. The Legislature is now controlled by a Republican majority and working within that system makes him a more effective representative for his district, Wilson says, and the redrawn district lines provide an opportunity for sending another local black candidate to Congress.

Wilson, if he wins the primary, would be unopposed in the November general election.

Ron Wilson voted to end the careers of seven Democratic Congressmen. He needs to go. Donate to Alma Allen today.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:04 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

Chris Bell For Congress

By Byron LaMasters

Along with Lloyd Doggett, Chris Bell was one of the Texas Democrats singled out for defeat by the Tom DeLay redistricting plan. I strongly support Chris Bell's re-election bid, and I'd urge any residents of his district to re-elect him. The chair of the Texas Democratic Party, Charles Soechting has lent Chris Bell his support:

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting took an unusual step Tuesday when he endorsed U.S. Rep. Chris Bell in the party's primary for the new 9th Congressional District.

Party officials typically remain neutral until a nominee is selected. But Soechting said he endorsed Bell because Bell's opponent in next Tuesday's primary, former Justice of the Peace Al Green, "has taken money from a Republican Party official with a history of intimidating African-American voters in this very district."

Party spokesman Mike Lavigne said the the GOP official Soechting referred to was former Harris County Republican Party Chairman Gary Polland, who gave Green $2,000 on Feb. 10. Soechting did not elaborate on the claim of intimidation.

It's completely inappropriate for a Democatic candidate for congress to accept money from a Republican county chair (in addition to benefiting from Tom DeLay's redistricting ploy). Chris Bell has been a strong representative for Houston, and he deserves re-election.

Donate to Chris Bell today.

More on this at Greg's Opinion and Off the Kuff.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

$10 for John Kerry

By Byron LaMasters

I just made a $10 contribution to the John Kerry for President Campaign. It's small, but it's symbolic. The Bush campaign is about to launch millions of dollars attacking our nominee, John Kerry. Whether he was your choice or not, we are now engaged in a huge fight. The right wing will do anything to hurt John Kerry, and as our nominee, it's our duty to fight back. Join me in donating $10 (or whatever amount you are able to contribute) to the John Kerry for President Campaign.

Update: You too, can receive this lovely emai:

Dear Byron,

I wanted to write and thank you again for your generous contribution
to my campaign. While I am certain you are asked to give to many
causes, your commitment to my campaign and to the larger political
process is humbling and much appreciated.

Your support remains crucial to my efforts and I trust that I can
count on your continued friendship and counsel.

Once again, thank you for your support.

Warm regards,

John F. Kerry

Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc.

Yay. Go Kerry.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:29 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Gay Marriages to Begin in Oregon

By Byron LaMasters

The Salem Statesman Journal reports. Multnomah county will begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples today:

Multnomah County, the most populous and liberal county in Oregon, will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to a statement issued Tuesday by officials.

It was unclear whether gay marriages would be granted immediately. A news conference with County Attorney Agnes Sowle and county commissioners was scheduled for 9 a.m. today.

A statement issued by the county said simply: “Based on a legal opinion released today by the County Attorney, a majority of the Board of County Commissioners supports a policy change to allow the county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

Multnomah County Judge Linda Bergman told KGW-TV on Tuesday that she will schedule and perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples if they have a license when they make an appointment.

Oregon state law defines marriage as a “civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age.” The law does not specify that the union be between a man and a woman.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 02, 2004

John Kerry For President

By Byron LaMasters

Yesterday, I voted early in the Texas Democratic Primary for John Edwards for President. Next Tuesday, I will caucus for John Kerry in the Texas Democratic Caucuses for President. I voted for John Edwards yesterday because I felt that he had the right message to beat George W. Bush. He was a southerner who could explain how America was divided between people who had everything that they wanted and people that didn't have the opportunities that they deserved. I'm disappointed, but John Edwards is dropping out. His decision has essentially decided our nomination.

John Kerry is our nominee. He's a man who fought for our country in Vietnam, then protested the war here in America. He's fought for Democratic values in the United States Senate and he has the experience to be our president. He has won the Democratic nomination and he deserves our support. I will caucus for John Kerry next Tuesday, because he's the man to carry the banner for our party this fall, and he has my full support. I'll give him some money when I have a chance, and all of you should, too. This nomination has been decided, and like it or not, we need to unite behind our nominee. That man is John Kerry. He's my choice for President, and I hope that he's yours.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:49 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Edwards to Drop Out

By Byron LaMasters

CNN reports:

Unable to make a breakthrough on Super Tuesday, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has decided to end his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, CNN has learned.

Multiple campaign sources confirmed to CNN that Edwards will drop out Wednesday at a late afternoon news conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gay Marriage Spreading, Legal Challenges Sure to Follow

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

There seems to be a lot more going on today than just one Mayor being called in.

I would not be surprised if by sometime this summer, the New York Supreme Court will be ruling on how gay marriage can go forward in the state because of a less than specific state Constitution. I also think it is why NY AG Eliot Spitzer is not going forward with all the legal challenges.


New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says he decided not to fight gay marriages being performed in a small village north of Manhattan because it is a case the state can't win.

"We wouldn't have won," says Spitzer. The state, he says would have been unable to prove that there was any "irreparable harm" against any party - the standard needed to persuade a court to grant an injunction.

"I have no problem with gay marriage," Spitzer, a Democrat, says. "I think the law has moved to a point where people are comfortable that [marriage] can be extended to people of the same sex."

Nevertheless he said many state legislators and even some in his own office disagree. As a result he has ordered a complete review of the state Constitution to determine whether civil marriages between same-sex couples are already legal.

Ultimately, he says, "the courts are going to have the final say."

Spitzer's position has put him at odds with Republican Gov. Pataki. Pataki has said that state law clearly allows marriages only between a man and a woman.

Pataki had directed Spitzer last week to go to court to stop the same-sex weddings that were being performed by New Paltz's maverick mayor, Jason West. Spitzer refused.

But I would imagine that because of this, it puts him a few nothces down on the VP shortlists of Kerry and Edwards (no change for Sharpton's or Kucinich's).

And there's more...

Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson announced Monday that the city in upstate New York would begin accepting applications for marriage licenses from same sex couples, but would then pass the applications on to the state for approval.

The move opens the door for gay and lesbian couples to then sue the state if the licenses are not approved. Peterson said the city would join in any court battle on behalf of same-sex couples.

"Same-sex couples deserve the equal protection of the law, the same as any other couple. They deserve to be able to bring their families out of the status of second-class citizenship and into the full array of rights and responsibilities that are available to married couples," she said.

"I am in strong support of all of Ithaca's families and will actively support all legal means to make marriage available to same sex couples...I believe that by supporting families, all families, we stabilize and strengthen our community," Peterson told a news conference.

The mayor also said that the city will immediately begin to recognize all same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

and still more...

The mayor of Nyack, New York, a quiet suburb of New York City, announced Friday afternoon that he will recognize any same-sex marriage wherever it was performed.

While the measure is largely symbolic it shows the growing acceptance of same-sex couples in the wake of the court decision in Massachusetts that gay marriage was legal and the nearly 4,000 gay weddings already performed in San Francisco.

Nyack Mayor John Shields made his announcement shortly after the mayor of nearby New Paltz married nearly a dozen couples on the steps of the village hall.

I don't understand how extending marriage to same-gender couples undermines traditional marriage or weakens community. On the contrary, I believe personal commitments strengthen community. A powerful way to affirm traditional marriage is to have strong marriages between committed people.

And West Hollywood is deciding what to do and whether to get in on the action.

The West Hollywood City Council took steps Monday aimed at recognizing same-sex marriages performed in San Francisco and elsewhere and called upon the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to consider performing same-sex marriages in the county.

Council members voted unanimously to direct the city attorney to review West Hollywood's ordinances, policies and procedures and recommend any changes needed to ensure that same-sex married couples will get the same protections and privileges as their heterosexual married counterparts. The city attorney will come back with the recommendations at a later date for a council vote.

Like I said last week, maybe it is time.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dean Wins Vermont

By Byron LaMasters

Yay! I feel good for him. CNN just called it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

NY Mayor Hauled into Court for Marrying Gays

By Byron LaMasters

Newsday reports:

Four days after presiding over a slew of same sex marriages in his quaint Hudson Valley village, the mayor of New Paltz today was charged with 19 violations of New York's domestic relations law, injecting the debate over gay marriages in the state with increasing drama and urgency.

Jason West, 26-year-old Green Party mayor, was ordered to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges that he broke state law by solomizing about two dozen weddings without a marriage license, according to New Paltz police and West's lawyer.

Chief Raymond Zappone said he and a lieutenant from the town police served a 19-count summons to West Tuesday afternoon and that the mayor faces up a $500 fine and a year in jail for his actions which have attracted international attention and brought the fight over gay marriages squarely into New York.

The actions come as West is planning to hold more ceremonies this weekend and with other officials around the state considering similar actions. It also coincides with increasing pressure on State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who last week refused a call by the governor to prevent and nullify the marriages, to step in and issue some clarifying words on the complex legal issues at play.

We'll see how this plays out. The San Francisco police are smart enought to know not to try and haul Gavin Newsome into court. It's a little bit different in upstate New York, though.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gun Safety Victories in the Senate

By Byron LaMasters

It's rare that we have victories in Congress these days, but when we do, it's cause to celebrate. Democrats joined with moderate Republicans in the Senate to pass a bill extending the ban on semi-automatic guns for ten years and a bill which closes the gun show loophole. Democrats also forced Republicans to withdraw a bill that would nullify Washington D.C.'s ban on handguns. The Washington Post reports:

In the first of two rare victories for gun control advocates, the Senate voted 52-47 to extend for 10 years the ban on 19 types of semi-automatic guns, which was passed in 1994 and expires in September.

The vote on the proposal by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was expected to be even closer than it was, and Vice President Cheney was on hand to cast a tie-breaking vote, which turned out to be unnecessary.

On the second vote, the Senate approved, 53-46, a proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to require criminal background checks for purchases from unlicensed as well as licensed dealers at gun shows, closing a loophole in current law that has been blamed for sales of weapons to criminals and terrorists. The Senate passed a similar gun show proposal in 1999, but the House refused to go along.

Also today, Senate Republicans withdrew an amendment to repeal the District's ban on handgun ownership and other strict gun control measures after Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch said he had not had time to study the measure. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) credited opposition by Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, business leaders, residents and gun safety groups, and appeals by Marita Michael, 41, and Kenneth E. Barnes Jr., 57, District parents of children slain by gunfire.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Exit Polls

By Byron LaMasters

These are all over the place, of course, but here we go (via our favorite source, The Corner):

Kerry up 11 in Georgia;
Kerry up 25 in Ohio;
Kerry up 38 in Maryland.

There's also some suggestions that Howard Dean might be leading Kerry in Vermont. I hope that it happens. Howard Dean deserves to win Vermont, and it would mean a lot to him and his supporters.

Update: A Kos Diary has these exit polls for Vermont:

Dean 50%
Kerry 40%
Edwards 6% (write in)
Other 4%

And another Kos Diary has this:

OH: JK 55-32 JE
NY: JK 60-20 JE
MD: JK 60-28 JE
CT: JK 64-25 JE
VT: Dean 63-33 JK
MA: JK 75-16 JE
RI: JK 72-19 JE
GA: No #s/technical issues
CA: No #s/too early
MN: No #s/caucus

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Karl-T Campus Wide Elections Endorsements

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's Election Day Number 1 here on campus so today and tomorrow, get out and vote at this website.

Daily Texan Editor: Ben Heath

No if, ands, or buts about it. There is no other choice here and I have written about this a couple of days ago.

President: Brent Perdue of Books Not Bombs Ticket

This was a late decision for me. I was not excited about voting for RepreZent's Republican Patrick George or Focus's Institutional "I've been planning this since August" Stalwart Brent Chaney. So vote for the most credible "third party" and see if we can force this race into a run-off.

Vice President: None of the Above

I can't bring myself to vote for RepreZent's former YCT member or Focus's more ditzy choice. So I'm voting for None of the Above. I wonder what they would do if that won.

2 Year at Large, One Year Remaining: Andrew Dobbs of RepreZent

Because BOR needs to be represented on SG. And because his opponent's picture just scares me. Uh oh, don't sue me now because I linked to a public domain picture and you are a woman and want to run to the bathroom and cry now! (Daily Texan Readers on campus may appreciate this humor.)

2 Year at Large: RepreZent's Zach Neumann, Danielle Rugoff, and Verick Cornett as well as Focus's Matt Ross

The Best Diversity, the Least Frats.

1 Year at Large: RepreZent's Coco Benitez, Ben Durham, Summer Nance and Focus's Chris MacLeod.

Communications: RepreZent's John Bazan

Liberal Arts: RepreZent's Taylor Brown, Brandon Chicotsky, Robert Henderson, Vicki Knox, Kyle Larson, and Ali Puente

Natural Science: RepreZent's Nathan Sires

University Co-op Board: Rich Frazier and Michael O'Hanlon

I know these are both Business majors, but I want to elevate either of them over the other Business choices.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Happy Texas Independence Day!

By Andrew Dobbs

Seeing as this is a blog aimed at Texas news and brought to you from the heart of Texas, it is only appropriate that we commemorate the day when in 1836 several brave men sat down and declared our independence as a republic in Washington-on-the-Brazos. After several weeks of bloody fighting that culminated in the Battle of San Jacinto in late April, 1836 Texas defeated the dictator Santa Anna and was a free and independent republic for almost 10 years before joining the Union. Almost nothing makes me prouder than the fact that I can call myself a Texan and I love this state despite all its shortcomings. Happy Independence Day friends!

P.S.- I know Byron and Karl-T have already mentioned it, but just in case, don't forget to vote for me if you are a UT student. Check out our website here and vote online!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Arnold Opposes Hate Amendment, Fine with Gay Marriage

By Byron LaMasters

Wow. I'm actually begining to like Gov. Arnold. The LA Times reports:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on national television Monday night that it would be "fine with me" if state law were changed to permit same-sex marriages.

In an interview with Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Schwarzenegger also strongly rejected President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. "I think those issues should be left to the state, so I have no use for a constitutional amendment or change in that at all," he said.


But when Leno asked, "Would you have any problem if they changed the law?" the governor replied: "No, I don't have a problem. Let the court decide. Let the people decide."

Go Arnold...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Edwards Opens Six Campaign Offices in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Via the Quorum Report:


Taking it to the wire

Although Super Tuesday is tomorrow and many believe it will all but wrap up the Democratic nomination for President, John Edwards today announced the opening of six campaign offices in Texas.

Texas director Geronimo Rodriguez said, "John Edwards is celebrating Texas independence with widespread support for his positive campaign to bring strong, independent leadership to the White House. His boundless engery and fierce independence are a perfect match for Texas.

The campaign has opened offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso and Brownsville.

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

March 01, 2004

Funny Mondays

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's Monday once again. Which means that you are desparate for humor. So here you go. (And yes, I'm now calling it Funny Mondays and will try to continue this every week. If you have any particularly good stuff, send it to me. My e-mail can be found to the right under the "about us" heading.)

Its that time of year again... As you probably already know, the Darwin awards are awarded annually for the most extreme act of (occasionally terminal) stupidity -- they are now in for 2003.

And now, the runner-ups: RUNNER-UP The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and, after a little hopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company, suspecting negligence, sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine out and lost a finger. The chef's claim was approved.

RUNNER-UP A man who shovelled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.

RUNNER-UP After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Beltway had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days.

RUNNER-UP An American teenager was in the hospital yesterday recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.

RUNNER-UP A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which he clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? $15. (If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, was a crime committed?)

RUNNER-UP A thief burst into a Florida bank one day wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun. Aiming his gun at the guard, the thief yelled, "FREEZE, Mother-Stickers--This is a F***-up! For a moment, everyone was silent. Then the snickers started. The guard completely lost it and doubled over laughing. It probably saved his life, because he'd been about to draw his gun. He couldn't have drawn and fired before the thief got him. The thief ran away and is still at large. In memory of the event, the banker later put a plaque on the wall engraved with the words, "Freeze, mother-stickers, this is a ****-up!"

RUNNER-UP Seems this Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. Seems the liquor store window was made of Plexiglas The whole event was caught on videotape.

RUNNER-UP As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's> the lady I stole the purse from."

RUNNER-UP The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at 5 a.m., flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked

RUNNER-UP Kentucky Two men tried to pull the front off a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home. With the chain still attached to the machine. With their bumper still attached to the chain. With their vehicle's license plate still attached to the bumper. They were quickly arrested.

A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER! When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

Now THIS YEAR'S WINNER. When his 38-calibre Revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California, would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder: He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Edwards Closing in Georgia

By Byron LaMasters

A Survey USA poll today has Edwards within four points (big margin of error, though):

President, GA Dem Primary - 3/1/2004

Kerry - 46%
Edwards - 42%
Sharpton - 6%
Other/Undecided - 6%

Data Collected - 2/29/04
Geography - State of Georgia
Sample Population - 302 Certain Voters
Margin of Error - 5.8%

Kerry, however leads by ten points in the most recent American Research Group poll in Georgia. Even if Edwards wins Georgia, I don't see his candidacy surviving past March 9th unless Edwards is able to steal victories in states like Ohio, Minnesota and Maryland tomorrow.

Survey USA also has a Texas poll in their batch out today. Here's the results:

President, TX Dem Primary - 3/1/2004

Kerry - 55%
Edwards -24%
Other/Undecided - 21%

Data Collected - 2/27/04 - 2/29/04
Geography - State of Texas
Sample Population - 442 Certain Voters
Margin of Error - 4.7%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A liberal blog in... Belton, TX!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm pleased to see that my friend Mandolen, the President of the College Democrats at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor (in Belton, TX) has started a started a blog: Almost Ramblings. Best of luck to her efforts...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Byron's Picks for Student Government...

By Byron LaMasters

SG President: Brent Perdue - Books Not Bombs
1 year At Large: Ben Durham - Reprezent
2 year At Large 1: Zach Neumann - Reprezent
2 year At Large 1 with year remaining: Andrew Dobbs - Reprezent
Liberal Arts Rep: Ali Puente - Reprezent
Daily Texan Editor: Ben Heath

I've never really gotten involved in Student Government elections. Most students don't vote (last year turnout was higher than it had been in a long time - about 20% - 10,000 or so votes cast, because of Internet voting for the first time). And most students that vote typically vote for their friends. Most of the people in SG (student government) are (in my opinion) in SG to pad their resume. So, basically I'll vote for my friends and for people that I know are Democrats or liberals, but that's basically it. I'll definitely vote for Andrew and the other two University Democrats on the Reprezent ticket (Zach Neumann and Ali Puente). If you are a UT student, be sure and vote for the three of them. I'm also voting for Ben Durham, because he's a good liberal.

I won't be voting for Reprezent on the top of the ticket. Even though the Reprezent Presidential candidate (Patrick George) voted for the Iraq War Resolution (a SG resolution passed last year opposing the war in Iraq), and the resolution supporting the Lawrence decision, Patrick George is the son of conservative former state representative Kenn George (R-Highland Park) - who is substantially bankrolling the ticket. The Reprezent Vice-Presidential candidate Matt Stolhandske has previously been involved with the Young Conservatives of Texas, so I won't be voting for him either. Although, having said that, their ticket is running on a relatively progressive platform, and I believe that Patrick George will be a decent SG President. I'm just not personally interested in helping pad the resumes of Republicans (even Republicans like George that go out of their way to tell us that they're liberal on social issues).

I won't be voting for any of the Focus candidates after their frivolous sexual harassment complaint against Andrew. Andrew distributed a flyer on campus with a picture of students in swimsuits floating down a river at the student government retreat. Part of the Reprezent platform is to cut funding for things like the student government retreat, and give that money to student organizations and scholarship funds. So, the purpose of the flyer was to point out that our student fees to student government are going to fund retreats for SG when they could be used to fund student organizations. The picture was taken in a public place, and it was public record. The flyer was approved by the elections board, but two girls claimed that pictures made them cry. It's a swimsuit silly. Get over it. It's part of the game. If the two girls aren't mature enough to deal with something like that, then shouldn't be running in the first place.

I'm voting for Brent Purdue for president. He's the only candidate that is experienced and comes from a solid progressive perspective. Read his interview with The Daily Texan. He gets it.

Ben Heath is the best candidate for editor of the Daily Texan. He's well-qualified, progressive and experienced. Check out his website for more.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Call from Alma Allen

By Byron LaMasters

Alma Allen called me this morning to thank us for our help in raising money for her campaign online. Apparently, her campaign has raised about $2800 online since they set up an online contribution form. I was only able to talk to her for a few minutes as I was on my way to class, but I'll be sure to call her back later today or tomorrow to see if I can ask her some questions for the blog. Anyway, thanks to everyone who has donated to Alma Allen. Also, a special thanks for the efforts of kos, Kuffner and Greg, and whoever else has supported Alma Allen on their blog. For those of you unfamiliar with this race, read this. Alma Allen a solid, progressive Democrat running against Ron Wilson - one of the two "Democrats" to vote for the Tom DeLay redistricting plan. Donate to Alma Allen today.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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