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June 30, 2004

Republican National Convention Delegates

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This is just great. Go over to the Republican National Convention site and look at their 4 delegate profiles.

We have 2 Hispanics, 2 Woman, and 1 African American. Talk about sugar coating the delegation, where are all the straight white guys in their 50s? They seem to be severly under-represented. This is clearly a case of reverse discrimination!!!

I mean, if this was the Democratic Convention Site, I would be just fine, since we seem to be a bit lacking in that whole white guy department anyways...

And reading their profiles, all four would want to watch a Broadway musical rather than see a Yankee's game. WHAT? Don't they know that their Party's nominee is manly and isn't one to be whistling showtunes??? And remember from that article who the delegates aren't seeing any shows with gay characters in them? Even so, what is with Mr. Cortez wanting to see Mamma Mia (ABBA songs, can't get much gay camp)? The others are going for the Lion King, but don't they know it's not the wholesome movie, but the offspring of the ever so gay Elton John?

Not matter how hard the National Republicans try to moderate their image, the fact is they are still controlled and beholden to their right wing base. Give me a break.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Talk with CNN

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Today I chatted with Mark, the guy from CNN about what all they might be interested in as far as the National Convention goes. They are looking to profile interesting people from across the State and Country heading into the Convention. We chatted some about my four year story on becoming a delegate and my journeys with the Dean campaign this past year. We also talked some about my future ambitions as far as politics goes and if someday I was interested in running for office.

So let me just say this, I am interested in running for office, more than anything, the Texas State House. Back home in Fredericksburg, that is a bit of a tall order since the District is 79% Republican drawn (I'm not kidding). But that wouldn't even stop me in reality because I believe that if anything, it spread a Democratic message in an area that usually doesn't get to hear it.

And any Democratic vote gotten anywhere in the state, is a Democratic vote for a state-wide candidate. It doesn't matter if it is from Precinct 148, UT Campus in Travis County, or Precinct 3, Fredericksburg, Gillespie County.

I am also looking 10 years down the road about a seat in Travis County as people, long term, do their dance from office to office. Mark my words; one of these days, I will be in the Texas House. It may take time, persistence, and perseverance, but if I can work four years towards a National Delegate Dream, this too can be done. Time will tell.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

MA House Passes Kerry Replacement Act

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Massachusetts State House overwhelmingly passed a bill similar to that of the State Senate which would strip Republican Governor Mitt Romney of being able to appoint a succesor to Kerry (when he wins the Presidency :) Romney, a Republican, probably could not have resisted the urge to appoint a Republican, even though the seat very obviously would have been held by a Democrat, but remember, politics over logic.

So now the State Senate has to go back and repass the new version, which is will, and send it off to the Gov. who will either veto it, or send it back where it will get repassed by both houses anyways. (It passed with veto-proof majorities in each).

Checks and Balances.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Dean Debates Nader

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From the AP...

Among the debate topics: Should Ralph run for president? The participants: Howard Dean and a candidate who always has an opinion on the subject — independent Ralph Nader.

Dean, the former Democratic presidential hopeful who attracted legions of liberal followers before his bid fizzled out, will debate Nader for 90 minutes on July 9 before a studio audience.

National Public Radio's weekly program "Justice Talking" is sponsoring the debate, and correspondent Margot Adler will moderate.

Dean has been urging his supporters not to back Nader, but to stay within the Democratic fold and vote for John Kerry (news - web sites),

"I am anxious to debate Ralph Nader in order to speak about why he wants to run for president," Dean said in a statement. "This is the most important election in my lifetime and a third party candidate could make a difference — this November and for years to come."

I hate to see Dean reduced to running interference against Nader, but then again, if there is anyone credible to do it, it's him. For a man like Nader, who is on not one state ballot, has been rejected by his old Green party, and may not even be able to use the Reform Party's endorsement (because their conference call didn't meet the FEC's rules for a Party Convention), it may take Dean to finally put the smack down to make him realize that he can serve much better purposes for Democracy without running.

Because right now, Nader the person, is running nowhere.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have a G-Mail account.

Yes, my friends, thanks to a good guy over in a Daily Kos Diary (Davidnyc), I have been invited and now have an account. I just got lucky that I got online today on campus. I still can't believe it.


I'm so original, aren't I?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Presbyterians Move Towards Gay Ordination

By Byron LaMasters

Having grown up in the Presbyterrian Church (U.S.A.), it's heartening to see several steps towards progress at the PCUSA General Assembly (convention) this week in Richmond.

On Monday a pro-gay peace activist was elected moderator of the convention (although in reality, this guy appears to have been the most moderate of the three candidates):

A peace activist who supports the inclusion of gays in the ministry was elected Saturday to lead the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. for the next two years.

The selection of the activist, Rick Ufford-Chase, comes as the church prepares for a fresh round of debate at its annual convention this week on whether to repeal a ban on gay pastors.

Mr. Ufford-Chase, 40, will serve as moderator of the denomination, which has 2.4 million members. He is the first layperson to hold the unpaid position since 1999.

Also, by a 35-30 vote, a committee at the convention recommended that "sessions and presbyteries" not be bound by "authoritative interpretation" of the Presbyterian Constitution that prohibits non-celibate gays and lesbians from being ordained in the church. Gay issues have divided the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for nearly a decade now, but the progressives in the church have steadily made progress over the past few years. Here's the news of the challenge on gay ordination:

The Committee on Church Orders and Ministry voted narrowly Tuesday to recommend that the 216th General Assembly declare that “sessions and presbyteries are not bound” by the 1978 authoritative interpretation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) constitution, which says that “unrepentant homosexual practice does not accord with the requirements for ordination.”

In the same vote, the committee decided not to recommend a constitutional amendment to delete G-6.0106b, the provision that requires “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.” The committee recommended that measures to that effect “be answered” by its recommendation on the authoritative interpretation.

If adopted by the Assembly, the measure would issue a new authoritative interpretation reading: “In carrying out their responsibilities under the constitution to determine fitness for office, sessions and presbyteries are not bound by statements of the General Assembly and its commissions regarding ordained service by homosexual persons that predate the adoption of G-6.0106b.” The vote on the measure was 35 to 30.

Good news so far. The next step is for the convention to vote on the issue, then if I remember correctly, each individual presbytery (the regional governing bodies of the church) will have to vote on it within the next year.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

GOP Planning on Cancelling Elections?

By Andrew Dobbs

Now, I hate to be the one fanning the flames of paranoia but soon I'm going to be joining the tin foil hat wearers if I have to keep reading shit like this:

The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.

Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel.

Soaries was appointed to the federal Election Assistance Commission last year by President Bush. Soaries said he wrote to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April to raise the concerns...

"Look at the possibilities. If the federal government were to cancel an election or suspend an election, it has tremendous political implications. If the federal government chose not to suspend an election it has political implications," said Soaries, a Republican and former secretary of state of New Jersey.

"Who makes the call, under what circumstances is the call made, what are the constitutional implications?" he said. "I think we have to err on the side of transparency to protect the voting rights of the country."

Soaries said his bipartisan, four-member commission might make a recommendation to Congress about setting up guidelies.

"I'm hopeful that there are some proposals already being floated. If there are, we're not aware of them. If there are not, we will probably try to put one on the table," he said...

"The states control elections, but on the national scale where every state has its own election laws and its own election chief, who's in charge?" he said.

Soaries also said he wants to know what federal officials are doing to increase security on Election Day. He said security officials must take care not to allow heightened security measures to intimidate minority voters, but that local and state election officials he's talked to have not been told what measures to expect.

"There's got to be communication," he said, "between law enforcement and election officials in preparation for November."

Let's see here, where to begin... The reason we don't have anyone in charge of cancelling elections is because in a democracy you don't cancel elections. Do I think that it is likely that Bush would cancel elections? Probably not. But does a part of me fear a Reichstag fire kind of situation? You bet. I swear to God, every day of this administration has me running for my dogeared copy of 1984. John Kerry in 2004 (or whenever Election Day is...)

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 03:16 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Mark Strama Update

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

For the past month I have been volunteering for the Mark Strama for State Representative Campaign here in Austin. I haven't posted much about it (and I will in a couple of weeks for Texas Tuesday's) but for now I would just like to say that this is probably the Premier House Race in the State of Texas this fall. In my opinion it's one of those races that if we lose it, we probably aren't going to be winning in other seats like Kelly White or Katy Huebner, for example.

As you very well know, the end of the quarter is midnight June 30th, today for filing purposes. The Mark Strama Campaign sent out an e-mail fundraising pitch this morning and in 18 hours, has raised $9,015.03. If the campaign can bust the $10,000 mark it will be a major accomplishment that will become a great piece of media for a good Democrat.

So I'm going to ask you, the BOR readers, to donate to the race of state house races (in my biased opinion) and tack on .03 to let them know it's coming from here. The average contribution has been around $65 today, but those $10.03 contributions like mine are heavily present in those totals. So give today.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Element of Surprise...

By Andrew Dobbs

(Crosspost from Yellow Dog Blog)

Thought y'all might like this. From the Borowitz Report:


Element of Surprise Cited As Bush Romps to Victory

Inspired by the early handover of sovereignty in Iraq, President George W. Bush employed the element of surprise once more last night, holding the U.S. presidential election four months early.

The election, about which only top Bush administration officials were notified, went exceedingly well for the president, who carried all fifty states and garnered approximately one hundred percent of the vote.

Mr. Bush¹s victory speech, which he had originally scheduled for eleven P.M.. last night, was at the last minute rescheduled to nine P.M., once again capitalizing on the element of surprise.

In his speech, Mr. Bush admitted that he might have had a more difficult time getting reelected if the American people had actually been notified about the time and date of the voting, but added, ³A win¹s a win, right?²

Mr. Bush¹s second inauguration is slated to take place on January 20, 2005, but administration officials acknowledged that it could happen ³at any time..²

³For all I know it has already happened,² one aide said.

While the stealth presidential election seems to have cemented the Bush administration¹s reputation for secrecy, one aide said that some secrets were harder to keep than others: ³For example, everyone knows how Paul Wolfowitz gets his hair to look so great.²

White House officials praised the performance of the controversial new Diebold electronic voting machines, which successfully tabulated final results from Florida before a single vote was cast.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm a Chauvinistic Pig!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm not sure if I should be offended for being called a chauvinist (a homosexual chauvinist at that), or if I should take it as a badge of honor, considering that the attack comes from Chris Elam - an Aggie who happens to be a Republican political consultant whose client list includes our good friend, Tom DeLay (and I'd be neglectful if I did not point out that Chris Elam is a heterosexual).

I guess I'll choose the badge of honor. Chris got a bit perturbed with my take on a story stating that escorts and strip clubs were preparing for a big week when the GOP is in town for their convention. Did I mention that Chris is straight?

A bit perturbed is an understatement. First, Chris makes an ad hominem attack on strippers and "madams", since you know - they can't be trusted. Well, sure, some exaggeration might be involved, but I'll trust a stripper before I'll trust a Republican. Second, Chris suggests that it's not the Republicans that would be engaged in these activities. Why, it's the liberal media! Of course. I should have thought of that one myself. You know, because Republicans would never do things that contradict the strong family values planks in their platform. Third, Chris calls me a chauvinist, because I don't think of the women. Or maybe right-wingers believe that homosexuality is synonymous with chauvinism, since we believe in the superiority of one's own gender - hmm... well in bed, yes, but everywhere else... no. Fine then, call me a chauvinist in the bedroom, but it's an insult anywhere else. Otherwise, the sarcasm escapes me. Fourth, Chris accuses me of turning on feminists and embracing conservative moral values. Wait, didn't he just attack me as a chauvinist? You really have to spell it out to these right-wingers. I stated that a Republican delegate poised a greater threat to the institution of marriage by going to a strip club or hiring an escort than did gay and lesbian couples that wanted to get married. The right-wing Republican interpretation of that is that I want to close down strip clubs and I'm a hypocrite since I'm a liberal that ya know, should be supporting these feminists. Right. I'd challenge Chris to find me a couple that has gotten divorced because gays and lesbians want to get married. On the other hand, I'm sure we could both find people who got divorced because of an affair that one partner had with a stripper or escort. I never made a moral judgement on either of those activities, simply a factual one. It's not my place to make moral judgements on either activity, but that's a debate for another time. Anyway, I'll spare yall the rest. You can read more from Chris on his blog, here. He happens to be a heterosexual by the way (did I mention that earlier?).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:16 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

CNN Has My Number

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This was the message on my parent's answering machine today...

Looking for delegates to convention in Boston to talk to and be interviewed on camera to talk about convention from delegates point of view. Got your name, looking for outgoing, interesting delegates who might be good for this, got your name from the state party.

So yeah, CNN wants to talk to me. I am blown away. This after I was in the Daily Texan the other week for being the youngest National Delegate from Texas. Woot!

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:42 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Please, Pick Edwards

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

At the State Convention, I heard Edwards speak for the very first time. As well as Kucinich.

Edwards blew me away, Kucinich, was blowing steam. But back to Edwards. If Kerry picked him for the Veep, I would even give some money to the campaign (which right now I'm not since local candidates need it more than Kerry in my opinion at this point).

Edwards has passion, and vision, and hope, and optimism and what a hell of a message. Granted, I am still a Deaniac at heart, but Edwards gives me some soul and I would have been for him if Dean wasn't in the race, and since Dean isn't in the race for VP, put me down as an Edwards guy. Gephardt, bless the man, leaves me cold (and Iowans too, aparently with his less than Dean finish).

So Byron, Jim, Andrew...do we have enough votes around here yet for a BOR Edwards for VP endorsement?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:12 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

Lunch with Jake Gilbreath

By Byron LaMasters

Vince has some great posts on Jake Gilbreath over on Texas Tuesday's today. I thought that I'd post a little bit here on the race, since I had lunch with Jake last week. I realized that a friend of mine that went to high school in Waxahachie, that currently goes to USC, but is back in Dallas for the summer - was good friends with Jake. So, we set up a lunch. It was nice to be able to spend over an hour talking with a candidate about his race. His race isn't one of the top targeted races by the state Democratic Party, or even by the local Dallas / Fort Worth area party leaders and activists. Still, he's the type of candidate that we need running in every district across Texas. He's smart, driven, and is out there every day talking about a Democratic message across his district. We won't win back Texas by ignoring districts like the district Jake is running in. We'll win back Texas by encouraging candidates like Jake, and recruiting more candidates like him.

He's running on bringing fresh ideas to Austin. He often talks about College tuition rates. He talks a lot about public school funding, and his solution is replace Robin Hood by closing the franchise tax loophole. I asked Jake why he's running now, as opposed to waiting to run for office until after he graduates from college. Jake replied that the people of his district needed effective representation now, and that should he lose, he might run in 2006 again. Jake has taken the fall semester off from school, so that he can campaign full time. He sees it as proof of his committment to the race and to the district. While his race has not been a top priority, he has received encouragement from his county chair, former elected officials, the state party and his family. He's also won support from several unions in the Ellis County Labor Council.

Jake is running a grassroots campaign. He's researched voter files, and he'll spend much of the summer and fall walking door-to-door in the district. He plans to knock on 30,000 doors by the end of the campaign. Recently, he's campaigned at the Polka Fest in Ennis where there were 50,000 people - most of them from the district. Jake stayed to shake hands with people all day. He plans to have a presence at the Crape Myrtle Festival in Waxahachie on July 3rd as well.

On his opponent, Jake said that he's been ineffective for the district, and has essentially been a pawn for the Republican leadership. Jake's opponent has also taken a leadership role on controversial issues such as proposing a bill that would have lowered the age for the death penalty to sixteen.

Jake has been involved in politics in college as well. At George Washington, he served as the Co-Director for Students for Clark and he's also worked in the finance department at the DNC. Jake might not win this time around, but his race is one that needs to be run. We should have Jake Gilbreath's in all 82 Republican held seats in the Texas House. If for no other reason, active legislative candidates serve to bring a Democratic message personally to Independents and swing voters. A three minute conversation with a candidate at your doorstep, in your park or at a restaurant has a much more powerful effect on a person's vote than any television ad. In addition, active Democratic candidates can help serve to get out the Democratic base. Finally, people like Jake may not win in 2004, but consider this. If Jake loses, but does better than expected and captures the attention of the party leadership and the money people - he can run again in 2006 and be considered a top-tier race. Or.... Jake can graduate, start a career, run for office in five or ten years and people will remember. Anyway, head over to his site, and give him a few bucks if you have the chance.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Missouri for Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

Interesting story here. Missouri Democratic Party County chairs support Edwards:

Missouri favorite son Dick Gephardt is not the favorite vice presidential candidate of several rank-and-file state Democratic leaders looking to deliver its 11 electoral votes to John Kerry.

Asked which prospective running mate would help Kerry win the battleground state, eight of 11 county chairmen and chairwomen selected at random by The Associated Press chose Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Gephardt and Edwards are among those Kerry is reported to be considering.

Only two of the county officials chose Gephardt, and one picked Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. President Bush won Missouri by just 3 percentage points in 2000.

"Gephardt just doesn't have the get-up-and-go that Edwards has," said Irma Brannum of Poplar Bluff, the Butler County party chairwoman. "Edwards is the exciting one," said St. Charles County chairman Joe Koester.

If Kerry were having trouble with labor, then Gephardt would make sense, but Kerry's doing fine with labor. If I had to bet on it, I'd bet on Tom Vilsack, but a John Edwards pick wouldn't surprise me.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Escort Agencies, Strip Clubs Prepare for GOP Convention

By Byron LaMasters

Yeah. Yeah, the hypocrites:

With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party. Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.

"We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week," said a madam at a Manhattan escort service. "It's the week everyone wants to work."

"It's going to be big," agreed one operator at a midtown escort service.


That's the hope among escort services expecting a windfall from randy Republicans.

"We've got everything organized - the hotels, the flights, the advertisements," said another escort service operator. "We'll probably have 60 girls that week, instead of the usual 30."

It's not just the escort agencies that are expected to thrive with thousands of Republicans in town. The strip clubs are gearing up for increased business as well:

Clubs have started booking private parties for delegates anxious to ogle topless beauties after a day of watching fully clothed politicians boast about family values.

You really can't put it much better than that. The delegates engaging in these services will likely sit idly throughout the days as they listen to their party leadership speak of the evils of gay marriage. Then, they'll go out at night and indulge themselves in activities that poise a much greater threat to marriage than two gays or lesbians does. Oh well. Perhaps, Rick Perry is on to something. If this article is any indication of how much Republicans enjoy strip clubs, then perhaps it'll be easier to fund our schools than I thought with Perry's proposed strip club tax. Ya know, it's for the kids after all.

Via Political Wire.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:35 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

More on Evans for Guv, Dowd for Comptroller

By Byron LaMasters

Today's Houston Chronicle confirms what Andrew wrote last week:

Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, a former Texas oilman and longtime friend of President Bush, is being encouraged to return home and run for governor, a Republican insider said Monday.

The source, a longtime political player in Austin and Washington, said Evans hasn't dismissed the idea but doesn't plan to seriously consider it until after the November presidential election.

Evans was out of the country Monday. But Ron Bonjean, a Commerce Department spokesman, said Evans isn't planning to run for governor.

"Secretary Evans is 100 percent committed to serving President Bush as secretary of commerce," Bonjean said. But he couldn't confirm or deny whether Evans has been asked to consider a gubernatorial race.

"He has had some people approach him, and he is thinking about it," said the Republican source, who spoke on condition he not be identified. He wouldn't say who was encouraging Evans but said a gubernatorial race in either 2006 or 2010 was a possibility.

Meanwhile, Bush strategist Matthew Dowd is looking at a 2006 run for Comptroller:

For Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for Bush-Cheney '04, Job One is making sure that President Bush still has free government housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. come next year.

Job Two is moving back to Austin as soon as possible after the November election. And Job Three might be getting himself elected state comptroller.

After years of behind-the-scenes work for candidates ranging from Democrats Lloyd Bentsen and Bob Bullock to Republican Bush, Dowd will soon be looking to act on the dream he has harbored for years: making the move to candidate.

"I really would like to do it when this is over," Dowd said on the eighth floor of the suburban office building that houses Bush-Cheney headquarters.

Dowd, 43, is evasive about exactly what elected office he would like to occupy. He rules out a legislative post and says he is most interested in a statewide post in which "I could do something."

Privately, he has told friends that state comptroller is the job that fits his love of numbers and desire to have an impact.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 28, 2004

War on Iraq and Howard Dean

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Sometimes there is a little part of me that just wants to get up and say, "I told you so." It wouldn't be very grown-up or professional, but I'm 19 and a blogger so I'll say it.

I told you so, and so is Howard Dean.

Howard Dean sounded like he had been vindicated on Sunday when he noted that most Americans now agree that the United States should not have invaded Iraq. It was a position that fueled his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and earned Dean much criticism in the process.

“After being castigated by both Democrats and Republicans for a while, now the majority of Americans agree with me this was a mistake,” the one-time Democratic front-runner said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

More than half, or 52 percent, of Americans said the war was not worth fighting, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll taken June 17-20. That number is up from 50 percent in May.

Dean said most people also agree with him that the war hasn’t made America safer.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Iraq is Now "Sovereign"

By Andrew Dobbs

So yeah, we went ahead and signed the letter transferring sovereignty to Iraq two days early. Good idea, since terrorists were surely planning on spoiling the photo op on Wednesday but still meaningless. Sovereignty is like virginity- you either have it or you don't. Having 150,000 US Troops stationed in your country charged with keeping the peace makes you a client state of ours. Iraq won't be truly sovereign until they kick us out, which is about the only new power they have gained. And they are unlikely to do that because since they have no military of their own and are facing a well-organized brutal resistance.

In other news, Bush really wants to sell this as some kind of victory for him but nobody is buying it. A CNN poll that they have been running all day reports that 60% of respondents believe that the handover of sovereignty is a sign that we have failed in Iraq. My boss put it the best way- for Bush the American public is starting to look like a critical father you just can't please. America is ready to get this kid out of the house and things are starting to look scary for the president.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 03:36 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

More Proof that Ralph Nader is a Dick

By Andrew Dobbs

Nothing to important here, but today I was chilling by the pool at my apartment complex reading My Life by Bill Clinton when a young guy who was swimming came over to ask me about it. I told him that it was very interesting and well written but that if he were looking for a sordid tale of Clinton's sex life to look elsewhere. We talked politics for a bit and I found out that he was a very conservative Republican who had interned for GOP legislators at the state capitol.

I didn't mind this- I don't personally dislike most individual Republicans and he had the good sense to judge Clinton a "decent" president. Still, something he said piqued my interest. The guy told me that when Ralph Nader came to Texas earlier this year in his run for the President he was invited to staff the candidate and to help advance his events around the state. That's right- active conservative Republican was asked to work for "progressive" candidate Nader. He was busy so he had to decline, but you have to ask who Nader really wants to represent if he's seeking out the hardest of the hard right to help his efforts.

Nader represents the worst aspects of the left- self-centerdness, a lack of political acumen and is the very symbol of the division among the left in the face of a very united right wing. If the left were to figure out a way to pull their heads out of their asses, actually build a coalition and keep it together maybe they could achieve some of their goals. Instead they'd rather curse the darkness and kiss each other's asses at how "principled" they are than to light a candle.

Screw Ralph Nader (R-CT).

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:38 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

It is NOT a sin to vote for John Kerry

By Jim Dallas

Via Nathan Newman:

But possibly the most fascinating fact is that Vatican officials clearly told the Bishops that voters are free to support pro-abortion politicans without sinning, if they support them for other policies:

As many of you know, Vatican officials offered both principles and advised caution and pastoral prudence in the use of sanctions. . .It is important to note that Cardinal Ratzinger makes a clear distinction between public officials and voters, explaining that a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil only if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion. However, when a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted if there are proportionate reasons.
Mark that statement. Essentially, the Vatican's official position is that abortion IS NOT an issue that trumps every other issue politically. By the logic of this statement, the Vatican is saying that if a poltician is pro-choice, but supports many other priorities of the Church, it is quite reasonable for Catholic voters to support them over a politican who is pro-life, but fails to support Catholic doctrine on many other issues.

Which leaves John Kerry is a great position, since by at least one measure, he is the best Catholic in the Senate on supporting the priorities of the Conference of Catholic Bishops on non-abortion issues.

So repeat this as a mantra until the media gets it. The Vatican says (a) abortion is NOT the only important issue politically, and (b) voters are free to support pro-abortion politicians as long as they are proportionately good on other Church priorities.

And now, in a more secular sense of the word "sin":

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry canceled plans on Sunday to address a U.S. mayors conference this week at a hotel that is likely to be ringed by picketing police officers.

"I don't cross picket lines. I never have," Kerry said at Our Lady of Good Voyage church in South Boston, where he attended Mass on Sunday evening.

Asked if Kerry and representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors would meet somewhere that police were not picketing, Kerry spokesman David Wade said: "We don't have any information on that yet."

Kerry had been scheduled to speak on Monday morning at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, where police officers -- who have been working without a contract for two years -- had a picket line on Saturday. Kerry would upset unions across the country if he crossed a picket line.

Preach it!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The NASCAR vote

By Jim Dallas

Atrios informs us that Dale Ernhardt Jr. (son of the late, great, Intimidator) wants people to go see Fahrenheit 9/11.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 27, 2004

National HIV Testing Day

By Byron LaMasters

It's fast. It's easy. It's painless. Get tested if you're at risk for HIV / AIDS. Today is the national HIV Testing Day, so do it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Are you afraid of making money? (a.k.a. Frodo & Me).

By Jim Dallas

Byron has already touched on Fahrenheit 9/11, but I'd like to reveal a startling statistic that I believe he did not touch on -- the average gross per theater for F9/11 was just a hair over $25,000 ($25,110 to be exact).

On a per-theater basis, F9/11 is more profitable than the following films were on their opening weekends:

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (3,855 theaters, average of $24,302).

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (3,703 theaters, average of $19,613).

  • Finding Nemo (3,374 theaters, average of $20,821).

On an average basis, Spider-Man (the film with the largest opening-weekend gross ever) pulled in about $30,000 per theater. It's also a tad behind Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, for which whole church congregations were bused in. Other films with almost-identical per-theater averages include The Matrix Reloaded ($25,471) and Star Wars: Episode II ($25,317).

Now a question - if Michael Moore is reelin' them in at a faster clip than J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, and packin' em in at about the same clip as the Wachowskis and George Lucas - why is F9/11 only on 868 screens? Are America's theater owners afraid of making money or something?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Delegates from Texas

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Although we're all 100% Kerry folks now, 75 of the 294 Texas Delegates, Alternates, and Committee folks began this great journey to Boston as Howard Dean supporters. There may be a "Dean" event in conjunction with our time in Boston...

That's right around 25%. I'm working on getting a full listing and seeing what the other breakdowns in various categories are at the momment. Soon I will also post about the new SDEC and the turnover there.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Arnold for Gay Marriage?

By Byron LaMasters

Apparently, he doesn't oppose it:

A curiously candid Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's Republican governor, admitted that he had no particular objection to same-sex marriage while meandering from table to table during a lunchtime visit to Romano's Macaroni Grill in Folsom, Calif. on Thursday.

The forthright admission came on the same day that the California state Assembly voted 42-27 to oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage -- a measure backed by President Bush. The resolution heads to the Senate, and, if passed, it does not require the governor's signature. In the past, the governor's remarks on the issue have been difficult to interpret.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger's exchange at the restaurant was with 31-year-old Peter Renfro, a Sacramento Democrat, who has a male domestic partner. When asked by Renfro if he had moral objection to gay marriage, the governor said, "My opinion is that I don't care one way or the other," the newspaper reported.

State legislators who support same-sex marriage were encouraged by Schwarzenegger's comment. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Assemblyman Mark Leno have plans to introduce a bill in December that would permit same-sex couples to marry. The governor has not said whether he would sign such legislation.

Just another reason why Arnold is my favorite Republican. It won't happen, but it would be nice to see Arnold share his opinion with his fellow Republicans and the American viewing public when he speaks at the GOP convetion in August.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fahrenheit 9/11 Poised for #1 on Weekend Charts

By Byron LaMasters

It's estimated to take in over $21 Million this weekend. Go see it (again) tonight. I might. It has a small weekend lead over White Chicks. Here's the charts:

TW LW Title (Click to view daily chart) Studio Weekend Gross % Change Theater Count/Change Average Total Gross Cost* Week # 1 N Fahrenheit 9/11 FAG $21,800,000 - 868 - $25,115 $21,958,000 $6 / $10 1 2 N White Chicks Sony $19,600,000 - 2,726 - $7,190 $27,100,000 $37 / $30 1 3 1 DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story Fox $18,500,000 -38.5% 3,020 +326 $6,125 $67,171,000 $20 / $30 2

The amazing thing is that Fahrenheit is being shown in only 868 theaters - about a third the number of theaters that are showing most of the other top ten movies this weekend. Conservatives tried to intimidate theaters into not showing Fahrenheit. Didn't work. The average theater made $25,000 in ticket sales this weekend on the movie.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Old Friends and Crazy Shit

By Byron LaMasters

I got up today in my typical Sunday morning routine. I Slept in. Made a pot of cofee, then spent a few relaxing hours reading the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times. So who's on the front page of the Dallas Morning News? My old friend from elementary school, Doug Havard. I was friends with Doug from 4th grade through 6th grade when we both attended the Parish Day School. We parted our seperate ways after sixth grade. I kept in touch with him until eighth or ninth grade, but at that point we more or less lost contact. Doug was always a wheeler-dealer. In elementary school he'd buy a box of baseball cards and sell the packs to myself and my friends for a profit. Unfortunately, he turned to selling drugs and fake i.d's in high school and college. When he was arrested for selling GHB to an undercover cop, he fled the country. A part of me was hoping he'd just fade away - have a nice life with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he had made on some remote beach. But Doug got greedy. He got himself involved in an international money laundering scheme and was arrested this month in England. I don't have any sympathy for the guy. He'll be in prison for a long time, and that's a good thing. Anyway, read today's Dallas Morning News for more. For further background, read this 2002 Dallas Observer story.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:00 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

The Next Saddam?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have a friend who lives in Pakistan, who in the past has been able to provide first hand accounts of events in the country and in Europe which take longer to get to the American Media, if at all. He sent me a short note the other day with the following thoughts attached. Just some food for thought...

Anyway...as the European constitution goes. I think by having a section on religion, Europe faces a difficult choice. Preserving history and culture which have made it so powerful...at the risk of upsetting and promoting intolerance to its secular ideals which in the past century have made it possible for millions to migrate to Europe and help in its prosperity by bringing in new ideas and beliefs which have helped it immensly.

The best plan of action ould probably be one which recognizes a connection to a higher being but at the same time allowing for enough room for the minorities
and growing immigrants to practise their religion freely without any fear of being legally termed "unpatriotic".

Pakistani prime minister resigned yesterday after months of speculation. Apparently he disagreed with the American supported Military dictator General
Musharraf about the armys continued involvement in the affairs of the government. I think Musharraf is going to be a future Saddam Hussain. He's already imprisoning and making opposition leaders and critics dissappear. It'll be a short time before he starts persecuting his own people.

Anyways, thats my update from Karachi, Pakistan.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

By Byron LaMasters

Saw it tonight. It was very well done. It's funny, entertaining and depressing all at the same time. Yeah, if you hate Bush, as I do, you'll leave the movie theator hating Bush more (even if that's hard to believe). If you like Bush, you'll probably take it as liberal Michael Moore propoganda. I wore one of my John Kerry t-shirts to the theater and had two people ask me where they could get one. Go to Kerry Gear dot com. It's the official John Kerry for President store. On the way out, I ran into Congressman Martin Frost who was waiting in line for the next showing, and had the opportunity to talk to him for a minute or two. He wasn't sure what to expect from the movie, but wanted to know what everyone was talking about. It was good to see a lot of people line up to shake hands with Martin Frost. It wasn't a campaign event, but he was easily recognized by many of us as we left the theater. I might have more thoughts on the movie tomorrow. It's definitely worth seeing for any Democrat or Independent voter. I was glad to see less of Michael Moore, and more of real people that were effected by the war - like the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. She's a patriotic woman that puts up her flag every morning, only to see her son killed in Iraq.... for what? A lie by the President of the United States. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Anyway back to Martin Frost, if you haven't yet, donate to Martin Frost. He was Tom DeLay's number one target with redistricting, and he's the leader of the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation for years. Help him out.

And of course, get the liar out of the White House, too. Donate to John Kerry.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:54 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Intellectual Footsie

By Jim Dallas

Brad DeLong follows up on Matt Yglesias. John Rawls, David Hume, the National Review, and the word "niggardly" are involved. Two lessons will be learned here:

  • stupidity sometimes pays; and
  • never sign a social contract without the advice and consent of a philosophy major.

Go read it or else, eager young space cadets!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Greens Refuse to Endorse Nader

By Andrew Dobbs

Great news coming from the Associated Press regarding the Green Party convention in Minneapolis this weekend:

The Green Party nominated Texas attorney David Cobb as its candidate for president Saturday, dealing a blow to independent Ralph Nader's campaign.

Nader, the party's candidate in 1996 and 2000, had hoped for the party's endorsement and access to the ballot Greens have in 22 states and Washington, D.C. (news - web sites) Instead, he will have to find another way to get on the ballot in those states, including Wisconsin and California.

Nader told party officials months ago he would not accept the party's nomination for president, openly courting their formal endorsement instead.

But 408 delegates voted for Cobb on the second ballot to give him the nomination. Maine radio personality Pat LaMarche was the party's nominee for vice president.

Cobb has walked a line between praising Nader and questioning what his candidacy as an independent offered the Greens as they try to expand their status as a third party (...)

Nader already has the backing of the Reform Party, which has ballot access in seven states, but he has yet to be placed on any state ballots.

This is great news for Democrats. Nader has been working for several months now and has yet to secure ballot access in any state. Of those 7 Reform Party states, the most critical of them all- Florida- is likely to leave his name off as their rules stipulate that the party must have a convention to get the candidate's name on the ballot while the Reform Party simply had a conference call (far cry from Perot's almost 20% in 1992). Furthermore, the convention was full of division between Nader backers and Cobb supporters which suggests that the party might be headed towards disintegration. Ralph Nader is quickly becoming a meaningless figure in the race and the Green Party is on the rocks.

In other news, now of the 4 largest political parties in the country 3 of them have Texans on the ballot. GOP nominee George W. Bush, Libertarian nominee (and Buda native) Michael Badnarik and Green Party nominee David Cobb. Let's hope that we have no Texans in the White House in January!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 07:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bush / Cheney then and now...

By Byron LaMasters

Bush in 2000:

President Bush had made his vow to "change the tone in Washington" a central part of his 2000 campaign, calling bipartisan cooperation "the challenge of our moment."

"Our nation must rise above a house divided," he said in his victory speech in December 2000. "I know America wants reconciliation and unity. I know Americans want progress. And we will seize this moment and deliver."

Cheney in 2004:

Vice President Cheney on Friday vigorously defended his vulgarity directed at a prominent Democratic senator earlier this week in the Senate chamber.

Cheney said he "probably" used an obscenity in an argument Tuesday on the Senate floor with Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and added that he had no regrets. "I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it," Cheney told Neil Cavuto of Fox News. The vice president said those who heard the putdown agreed with him. "I think that a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue."

The forceful defense by Cheney came as much of Washington was discussing his outburst on the Senate floor in which a chance encounter with Leahy during a photo session in the usually decorous Senate chamber ended in colorful profanity. The obscenity was published in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post.

So much for changing the tone...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

The New York Times does a good wrap-up on the ongoing shit-storm (oops, would poo-lution be more family friendly?) -- at any rate, on the dark and dirty truth about HISD's "miracle" under the misleadership of now-EdSec Rod Paige.

Groan. Everytime we got something good going on -- Enron, the HISD miracle, the Houston Rockets' legendary "Dream Team" -- it ends up falling apart or being a sham.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's the End of the Quarter.... you know what that means!!

By Byron LaMasters

It's June 26th, and the end of the quarter is four days away, so I decided to make my end of the quarter donations tonight. I'm a student, working part-time this summer, so I figured I could spend a little bit of money giving to candidates that I support. I'd encourage all of you to donate to the candidates of your choice at the end of the quarter (so within the next four days). End of the quarter reports can make a second tier candidate a first tier candidate. They can make seemingly uncompetetive candidates viable. Small contributions can make a difference, especially when they're bundled. That's why I decided to donate money to Kerry (which has become a monthly thing) as well as three of the dKos 8 candidates. I didn't contribute to the three top congressional races across the country, but I contributed to three races where my $10 contribution bundled with hundreds of others could make a difference.

  • John Kerry - $25.00. He's the next president of the United States. He needs our money to fend off hysterical attacks like the latest Bush WebAd comparing Kerry's attacks to Adolf Hitler. It's outrageous and it's one of the main reasons that inspired me to contribute to John Kerry again today. Anyway, I still think that Kerry is running a great campaign, and he deserves our support.
  • Richard Morrison - $10.01. Sure, it may be a longshot. We probably won't beat Tom DeLay. But it's important to send Tom DeLay a message that we don't like what he's doing. Tom DeLay is responsible for making the U.S. Congress the most partisan and uncivil Congress in recent history. At the very least, he needs a serious challenge, so that he'll at least have to watch his back.
  • Stan Matsunaka - $10.01. He's running against Congress's number one hater - Marylin Musgrave. She's the sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, and is obsessed with gay people. All she seems to care about it denying rights to gays and lesbians. She doesn't give a flip about her district. She's a one-issue congresswoman and she's out of touch. Her district deserves better. She won in the 2002 GOP landslide in Colorado, but Stan Matsunaka saw that she was looking vulnerable in the polls and decided to take a second shot at the race. He deserves our support.
  • Jim Stork - $10.01. Jim Stork is running against Clay Shaw in a district that Al Gore carried in 2000. Democrats nearly won the district in 2000, but recount technicalities kept it in GOP hands. This coastal Flordia district is Democratic, and ought to have a Democratic congressman. Jim Stork has experience as a small business owner and as a mayor. Stork is also openly gay, so his election would mean that we'd have four openly gay members of congress (out of 535, house + senate). Of course, Florida already has a gay member of congress, Mark Foley, but he refuses to discuss his sexual orientation. It would be nice for Florida to have an openly gay Congressman.

There's other great candidates to consider as well. Stan Matsunaka is one of the candidates advertising on BOR, but there are others advertising here as well that are worthy of your support:

  • Betty Castor for U.S. Senate in Florida - She's one of the three Democrats running for Bob Graham's seat. She's been leading in many of the recent polls. The Democratic primary is in September.
  • Lorenzo Sadun for U.S. Congress - Lorenzo is who I'll be writing in for Congress this November. I live in his district, and he's my candidate. He's a UT professor and he's been making his rounds in the district. Help him make a serious campaign this November.
  • Tom Daschle - for U.S. Senate - Do I need to say anything more? Tom Daschle is the most endangered Senate Democratic incumbent this cycle. John Thune is running again, and Republicans would like nothing more than to take out our Senate leader. Tom Daschle needs our support.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 25, 2004

Don Evans for Governor?

By Andrew Dobbs

Capitol Inside (subscription required) is reporting that Secretary of Commerce and longtime friend of George W. Bush is considering a run for Governor of Texas in 2006.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans might be interested in the job his best friend used to have. Texas governor.

The Texas oilman and former University of Texas regents chairman has reportedly made calls about a possible gubernatorial bid to Midland, where he ran an oil and gas company before joining President George W. Bush's cabinet three years ago.

It's not clear whether Evans might be looking at a potential race for governor in 2006 or 2010. He's expected to keep his current job in the Bush Administration if the president wins a second term this fall. Under that scenario he wouldn't be free to embark on a statewide race for another four and a half years. If Bush loses, Evans could hit the ground running for governor early next year.

I have it on good authority that KBH will definitely run if Perry can't fix school finance but probably won't if he fixes it. I think that even if she does run Perry could easily win. I think that Dewhurst runs for her open Senate seat giving Strayhorn an opportunity to run for that while Perry and KBH duke it out for governor. I really think that Perry could take her from the Right- pro-choice women usually don't do so well in Texas GOP primaries. If Evans were to throw his hat in the ring it really could liven things up. I think he takes away KBH's business conservative base while still appealing to Perry's social conservative base as a result of his Bush connection. It'd almost certainly go to a runoff (a governor, a senator and a prominent cabinet secretary all in the race) and Evans would likely win the nomination.

The question then is, could Democrats beat him? Perhaps. Evans recieved a call from an Enron executive around 3 months before the giant's collapse asking for help as the company was about to go under. Evans did nothing to try and prevent the collapse or to help investors avoid calamity. Furthermore, his ties to the Board of Regents could be used to highlight his support for "tuition deregulation"- one of the largest middle class tax hikes in Texas history. Finally, Republican stewardship of the state government over the past two years hasn't been so great (to say the least) and Evans would inherit that reputation. Still, he'd be awfully formidible.

We'll see how this pans out as time goes on but on some level I hope we do face him, as it will mean the end of Bush. Evans offers the Republicans something they desperately need though, a legitimate successor to Bush as the focal point of their party. As a result, his emergence should be taken very seriously by Democrats across the state.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 06:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bush is Delusional

By Andrew Dobbs

From the Associated Press:

President Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq and insisted most of Europe backed the move during a tense interview Thursday on Irish television (...)

Bush was asked whether he was satisfied with the level of political, economic and military support coming from European nations in Iraq.

"First of all, most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq. Really what you're talking about is France, isn't it? And they didn't agree with my decision. They did vote for the U.N. Security Council resolution. ... We just had a difference of opinion about whether, when you say something, you mean it."

Y'know what? I don't think that Bush is lying- I really think that he is either too stupid, too misinformed by his toadies or in too much denial to realize that all of the world and now a majority of his own country think that this war is ridiculous. At the time the war began Europe was united against it- if memory serves me correctly (and polls and election results stick out in my mind) about 70% said they opposed the war. Europe is so radically against the war that it has become conventional wisdom to not the continent's opposition.

Bush doesn't realize that. He believes that only France opposed his war, when virtually all of Western Europe was opposed to it. How can he effectively lead the free world if he doesn't even realize what is going on in it? We know that he doesn't read newspapers- he lets his aides bring him targeted clippings. This raises a rather serious question- is it possible that Bush's aides are simply keeping this information from him? Are they whitewashing and glazing over the facts in order to keep him happy? If so, America is in some deep deep trouble and the person who is supposed to be most equipped to help us out is completely paralyzed.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 03:52 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Unintended Consequences of the Gag Rule

By Byron LaMasters

It seems harmless. The "gag rule" is put in place by Republican administrations to prevent funding for abortions, and facilities that perform abortions around the world. What's the big deal if a mother doesn't have money or access for an abortion. Conservatives seem to think it's harmless. The mother will just carry the child to term, then either raise the child or give it up for adoption. In their eyes, the global "gag rule" saves the lives of countless children. Wrong! The "gag rule" only helps to spread the worldwide AIDS crisis, especially in parts of the world where the crisis has reached endemic proportions. Take Ghana for example. It's a small country in western Africa hard-hit by AIDS, where the Bush "gag rule" has served to defund organizations that encourage abstainance, monogamy and condom use (in that order). Sounds like something that conservatives would encourage.... but no.

Here's the viewpoint in today's Dallas Morning News by Barbara Crossette:

From a small building on the outskirts of the crowded West African capital of Accra, Ghana, a new national organization for youth is taking shape. It's called Young & Wise, and part of its mission is to promote condom use to stop AIDS.

It doesn't distribute them willy-nilly. Its message is measured, its partners are churches and mosques, and its ABCs would be familiar to many conservative American Christians: abstain, be faithful and use a condom when the time is finally right to engage in sex. On the walls little stickers say, "True love waits."

The problem is that the supplier to Ghana of the best condoms, the U.S. Agency for International Development, can no longer give any to the project. Does this make any sense?

"It's the 'gag rule,' " explains Delah Banuelo, the organization's program officer. He is referring to the Republican ban on giving aid to groups that counsel people on abortion, whether or not the groups actually perform abortions.

The Bush administration is in effect punishing a promising effort in Ghana because Young & Wise is part of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, which in turn belongs to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, an organization on the no-no list in the White House.

The gag rule has also harmed another funder of reproductive health programs in Ghana, the United Nations Population Fund. The United States has withdrawn all contributions to the fund because of unfounded reports that it supports abortions in China.

In Ghana, the trickle-down effect of the gag rule has been widespread. And because Ghanaians – Christian and Muslim – are a religious people, the effect has been to undermine many programs that conservatives could support.


At the Ahmadiya Muslim Mission in Accra, Hafiz Ahmad Saeed is in charge of another reproductive health program, one that has also felt the loss of American funds. Yet any Islamic program, he points out, must preach abstinence and no sex outside marriage.

Do conservative Christians in the United States understand that they are doing in their fellow Christians and moderate Muslims? If they do, they don't let that get in the way of their absolutist stand.

Anyone visiting Ghana would see the need for wide-ranging family planning programs. Only 19 percent of couples in Ghana use contraception. Large families are the norm; men tend to object to contraception; sex education is minimal and teen pregnancy is on the rise. In the meantime, maternity wards are crowded with exhausted, anemic women who could die in the next pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS is a pervasive threat.

Can American money alone help solve such problems? Yes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is picking up some of the slack to help Young & Wise, and more aid would only increase the effectiveness of organizations that have proved they can change behavior, cut birthrates and raise health standards.

The message is clear: American conservatives should replace their blanket ban on family planning aid with real knowledge and nuance. One trip to Ghana would help them see the light.

A great question. If only conservative Christians in America would understand the problems that their fellow Christians in Ghana faced, perhaps they would reevaluate their position on the "gag rule". Unfortunately, this is yet another example of where conservative ideology trumps common sense and basic human decency.

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

Sen. Zell Miller (R-GA)

By Byron LaMasters

Seriously, it's time to kick out Zigzag Zell. He's speaking at the GOP convention:

Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, the highest profile Democrat to endorse President Bush for re-election, will speak at the Republican National Convention later this summer, a congressional aide said Friday.

Miller drew a sharp rebuke from the dean of Georgia's congressional delegation, Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who called the senator's decision "a shame and a disgrace."

According to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Miller will give his address on Wednesday night of the four-day convention in New York that begins Aug. 30. The Bush-Cheney campaign was expected to make an official announcement later in the day.

Thankfully, the article goes on to point out Zigzag Zell's hypocrisy. John Kerry has been the Junior Senator from Massachusetts for twenty years now. Yet, Zigzag Zell seems to have dramatically changed his opinion of Kerry over the past three:

In May, Miller spoke at the Georgia Republican convention and criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) as an "out-of-touch, ultraliberal from Taxachusetts" whose foreign and domestic policies would seriously weaken the country.

"I'm afraid that my old Democratic 'ties that bind' have become unraveled," Miller said.

In 2001, Miller had told a Georgia Democratic Party gathering that Kerry, the four-term Massachusetts senator and decorated Vietnam War veterans, was "an authentic" American hero who had worked to strengthen the military.

Even worse, the "taxachusetts" rhetoric is a sham as well. Atios pointed out last month that Georgia has a higher state and local tax burden than Massachusetts:

First of all, since Kerry happens to be elected to the Federal government he has little control over state and local tax policy in his home state. But, since Zell wants to play that game, let's turn to the facts.

According to those lovable nuts over at the Tax Foundation, Taxeorgia's state and local tax burden ranks 18th in the nation, at precisely the national average of 10% of income.

While in small government loving Massachusetts, the state and local tax burden ranks 36th in the nation, at 9.6% of income.

What about business friendlyness? Well, Zell, sorry to say once again your tax-loving commie state of Taxeorgia with its totally complicated tax code appears to be downright hostile to business! At least compared to the free market haven of Massachusetts! You see, Massachusetts, according to the Tax Foundation, ranks 12th in the nation while Taxeorgia ranks 25th!

And, hey, what do you know? It appears you welfare lovers in Taxeorgia are sucking at the federal government's teat! Taxeorgia gets more from the federal government than it sends in taxes! For every buck you freeloaders send to DC you get $1.01 back! What of Massachusetts? Well, suprise surprise! Massachusetts is supporting layabouts like Taxeorgia! A whopping $.25 of every dollar Massachusetts sends to the Feds is stolen from them and redistributed to states which can't manage to take care of themselves, like Taxeorgia.

And good for John Lewis and Georgia Democratic Party Chair, Bobby Kahn. They apply the Zigzag Zell smackdown:

"I think he has sold his soul for a mess of pottage," Lewis said, a reference to a speech Miller gave 40 years ago in which he argued that President Johnson was abandoning his Southern roots by pushing some civil rights issues. Pottage is defined as a thick soup or stew of vegetables.

Bobby Kahn, the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said he wasn't surprised.

"Maybe I'll switch to the Republican Party so I can speak at the Democratic Convention and bash Bush," Kahn said. "It makes about as much sense."

Kahn was a top aide to Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, who appointed Miller to the Senate following the death of Miller's predecessor, Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell.

"I advocated his appointment," Kahn said of Miller. "He said he would be independent and he was for a while, but he hasn't been lately. He's been in lockstep with the Republicans and I don't know what's happened to him. It's really kind of sad."

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

Sandlin Website Revamp

By Byron LaMasters

I'm a few days late on this, but check out Max Sandlin's revamped website. It includes the Texas Tuesday's interview as well as a blog-format layout. Kudos to the Sandlin campaign.

Via Off the Kuff.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Point / Counterpoint on Tom DeLay

By Byron LaMasters

Greg's Opinion has a great response to John Carter's defense of Tom DeLay in today's Austin American Statesman. Check it out, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Republicans Love Nader

By Byron LaMasters

Read KOS. Republicans are phone-banking to get Nader on the Oregon ballot. Ralph Nader isn't a legitimate contender for President. He's an egotistical maniac being used as a pawn by the Republican Party. A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ryan Out, Obama Shines

By Byron LaMasters

Illinois U.S. candidate Jack Ryan will withdraw from the race today:

Illinois Republican candidate Jack Ryan intends to abandon his Senate bid after four days spent trying to weather a political storm stirred by sex club allegations, GOP officials confirmed to the Tribune.

A formal announcement was expected within hours, officials told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Ryan conducted an overnight poll to gauge his support in the wake of the allegations made by his ex-wife in divorce records unsealed earlier this week. Aides said in advance his only options were to withdraw or to redouble his campaign efforts with a massive infusion of money from his personal wealth.

Republican party leaders spent an hour this morning on a conference call discussing Ryan's candidacy and the process of replacing him, a source familiar with the call told the AP on condition of anonymity.

I'd love to see what those overnight poll numbers showed. Hehe. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate Barack Obama has continued to not comment on Ryan's troubles. Rather, Obama received another glowing review - this time from the Washington Post:

Who is Barack Obama, and why is everybody talking about him?

Well, not quite everybody -- yet. But if there is a media darling in this year's election, it is the 42-year-old Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. Obama has been the subject of sympathetic profiles in the New Yorker and the New Republic, and more national attention is on its way. Already there's speculation that he may be the first African American president of the United States -- and he's only a state senator.


His is a political mind that can incorporate the opposition's best arguments into his own -- by way of answering them -- and then take clear and unequivocal positions.

Obama is someone who can make staunchly progressive positions sound moderate by being quietly reasonable. And he breaks with his own side's conventional wisdom not in search of a phony bipartisanship but to advance a stronger critique of the status quo.

When I sat down with him recently, for example, Obama said the Democrats' main argument should not be about "how we lost a certain number of jobs versus how we've now gained a certain number of jobs." Stimulating the economy with huge tax cuts was bound to produce some jobs eventually.

The numbers story can distract from the larger story Democrats need to tell. "Instead of having a set of policies that are equipping people for the globalization of the economy," he says, "we have policies that are accelerating the most destructive trends of the global economy."

Obama is also set to give the weekly Democratic radio address this weekend. If he does not yet have a prominent speaking role at the convention, John Kerry would be smart to give him a slot where all of America can see and hear him. He's phenominal. Anyway, for all the late breaking news out of Illinois, be sure to head on over to Archpundit.

Update: Those overnight poll numbers I were talking about are here. Apparently, they showed Obama with a 54-30% lead over Ryan. Obama also leads all possible GOP replacement candidates by between three (former Gov. Jim Edgar) to eleven (State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka) points.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Republicans Lie... About Tort Reform

By Andrew Dobbs

If you didn't work in the Legislature during the 78th Regular Session, consider yourself lucky. I was interning at the time for Rep. Jim McReynolds (D-Lufkin), a moderate/populist East Texas lawmaker who was having a helluva time with tort reform. You see, in rural areas doctors are some of the most respected, most trusted people in town on everything from health to politics. Lawyers aren't quite as prominent. As a result we were inundated with literally hundreds of form letters, calls and emails urging Jim to vote for "tort reform" that put caps on lawsuits. They claimed that East Texas didn't have enough doctors any more because malpractice insurance rates were too high, thanks to those blood-sucking trial attorneys and their frivolous suits. Both houses passed a constitutional amendment and voters narrowly passed Prop 12- the tort reform amendment so insurance rates should be going down, right? I mean, tort reform was sold to us as the great white hope to stem those lawsuits and lower premiums. Is that the case?

Of course not.

In an Op-Ed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram John Cummings, a Tarrant County trial attorney, gives some great data on the truth of the situation:

Since damage caps became effective in September 2003, the number of medical negligence lawsuits filed in Texas has dropped dramatically. But in that same time, most of the malpractice insurers in the state have raised their rates.

G.E. Medical Protective, a company that insures 20 percent of the state's physicians, recently increased its rates by 10 percent and changed its products to avoid regulation by the Texas Department of Insurance. This was in response to the state's denial of its previous request to raise rates by 19 percent.

The Joint Underwriting Association asked for a 35 percent rate increase. The largest malpractice insurer in the state, TMLT, agreed to lower its rates by 12 percent, but it had raised its rates more than 100 percent in the previous two years (...)

U.S. insurance companies saw their profits explode to almost $30 billion in 2003 -- a ten-fold increase from the previous year -- yet rates continue to rise.

That's right- lawsuits are down and premiums are up, as much as 35% in some places. Profits are increasing 1000% a year and yet they claim that lawyers are the problem.

We knew this would happen though. Any reasonable observer looked to California, who passed the law our tort reform bill was based on 15 years ago, and could see that their insurance premiums were as high as anyone's and were growing just as fast. The fact of the matter is that tort reform had absolutely nothing to do with doctors, it had everything to do with helping the insurance companies out. This is the same industry that has raised homeowner's rates so much so quickly that many Texas families cannot afford the necessary coverage anymore. Have Perry or his minions kept their 2002 promise to do something about this situation? No, of course not. These companies are bleeding Texans dry at home and at the doctor's office for the sole reason of lining their own pockets. Texas desperately needs some new leadership and Democrats need to express to voters just how raw of a deal they really are getting.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 11:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Houston, We Have A Problem

By Jim Dallas

An excellent op-ed on the shortcomings of the Houston-Galveston Area Council's proposed 2025 plan was printed in yesterday's Houston Chronicle:

The easiest way to plan for the future is to plan based on past experience, and to assume that trends will continue unchanged. The 2025 Regional Transportation Plan, developed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and up for a vote this week, is such a plan. It is a very well-crafted plan that takes existing population trends, projects them into the future and then plans for transportation accordingly. There is not a lot to argue with if we assume that the past is prologue to our future. We are going to need a lot more roads if we continue to grow as we have!

But what if we could imagine a different future? More importantly, what if we should imagine a different future? If our sprawling growth patterns continue unchanged, we stand to lose more than 1,000 square miles of open space — prairies, forests, wetlands and farmlands. It will be an irretrievable loss — once paved over, we cannot restore these lands to their original function. We will have to replace all of the lost functions — flood detention, water purification, habitat quality, etc., at a much greater cost than what the natural areas can do these functions for and with much less efficiency. And more cars and more VMT (vehicle miles traveled) surely add up to something very personal for me and many others: a worsening case of asthma.

It would be nice to see Houston get bitten by the smart-growth bug; whatever the failings of smart-growth, it seems to me Austin was a better town for thinking small. As for Houston, about the only thing we can look forward to is that there will almost certainly be an ever-increasing density of adult entertainment facilities. Yay.

In other news...

... and I'd note that the Chronicle's editorial section page (wow!) has a whole sidebar dedicated to UT's very own "Fountain of Undiluted Foolishness", Bob Jensen! Bob, whatever his critics might say, has always been one of my favorite UT faculty members.

.... and congratulations to NBA Draft 2nd pick Emeka Okafor!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations

By Jim Dallas

Charles Pierce on Bush's war booty:

Not long ago, it was revealed that the president of the United States had taken as a souvenir the pistol found on Saddam Hussein when American forces pulled him, blinking and bearded, out of the earth. It was reported further that the president kept the confiscated firearm in the Oval Office. I became concerned.

In the first place, this is a president that has in the past been overpowered by, in order, a pretzel, a Segway scooter, and a bicycle. (Note that I do not include here the fact that he is also regularly overpowered by the facts, by the office of the vice president, and by the rules of English grammar. These are abstract things, and it is as unfair to criticize him for being wrestled to the ground by abstract concepts as it would be dumb to, say, launch a "war" against one.) Anyway, there seemed to be trouble brewing here with tangible, mechanical objects.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

There's black people, and then there are African-Americans

By Jim Dallas

Matt Yglesias covers an NYT article which suggests a bit of a dilemma for those of us who are supportive of campus affirmative action; more black people are getting admitted to top-tier universities, but fewer of them have deep roots in America (e.g. fewer of these students are the great-great-great-great-great granddaughters of your great-great-great-great grandfather's slaves), because admitted students are disproportionately immigrants or second-generation Americans.

Back to the dilemma -- is affirmative action supposed to be about broadening campus diversity and increasing the educational value of a college education (the rationale most oftened used to defend campus programs)? Or is it a round-abouts way of making up for generations of racism against descendants of slaves?

In the former case, then a large number of black immigrant students ought not be a problem - after all, immigrants certainly can share interesting life experiences and bring new ideas to the forefront in ways that your average kid from South Houston might not. On the other hand, if it is the latter, then campus affirmative action programs may not be as effective as previously surmised.

On the other hand, though, it may be possible to set aside this debate in a few different ways. Matt Yglesias also suggests switching to a class-based affirmative action system (which, if you squint really really hard, Texas's top-ten percent program represents).

Update: FWIW, SG prez Brian Haley's op-ed in today's Houston Chronicle supporting a cap on the top-ten percent rule is here.

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

June 24, 2004

F*ck You, Dick Cheney

By Byron LaMasters

Well, he who dishes it out, better know how to take it:

Typically a break from partisan warfare, this year's Senate class photo turned smiles into snarls as Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly used profanity toward one senior Democrat, sources said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who was on the receiving end of Cheney's ire, confirmed that the Vice President used profanity during Tuesday's class photo.

A spokesman for Cheney confirmed there was a "frank exchange of views."


Cheney, who as president of the Senate was present for the picture day, turned to Leahy and scolded the senator over his recent criticism of the vice president for Halliburton's alleged war profiteering.


Responding to Cheney's comment, Leahy reminded him of an earlier statement the vice president had made about him. Cheney then replied with profanity.

Leahy would not comment on the specifics of the story Thursday, but did confirm that Cheney used profanity.

"I think he was just having a bad day," said Leahy, "and I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."

Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for the vice president, said, "That doesn't sound like the kind of language that the vice president would use, but I can confirm that there was a frank exchange of views."

Of course, there was a time when John Kerry was launching F-bombs as well. But, then again, Kerry said it in an interview when he was frustrated at the height of Dean's success. Cheney said it at the typically congenial Senate class photo shoot. Wow.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:34 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Rodriguez Gets Another Shot

By Byron LaMasters

In the case of the neverending primary dispute between Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) and Henry Cuellar (DINO-Laredo), Rodriguez appears to have one more shot at presenting his case:

A disputed U.S. congressional race in south Texas is going to court again after an appeals court decided the votes in the Democratic primary should be re-examined, the candidates said on Thursday. A three-judge panel of the Texas 4th Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned a lower-court decision that gave a 58-vote victory to challenger Henry Cuellar.

The appellate court said the lower court must allow three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez to present evidence that several hundred voters in the March 9th primary were unqualified because they did not live in the 28th Congressional District.

"We do have the proof. We have more than 500 votes which we feel were cast improperly," Rodriguez told reporters from Washington, D.C. "I have won this race and we will be able to prove that."

In a May 11 hearing, State District Judge Joe Hart in Laredo refused to let Rodriguez present that evidence and ruled in favor of Cuellar.

Cuellar spokesman T.J. Connolly said on Thursday the campaign would appeal to the full seven-member appeals court.

"I would think we will have our appeal to the full court filed by Monday," Connolly said.

Rodriguez held a 145-vote lead after the votes were counted election night, but the chance discovery of 300 ballots, nearly all for Cuellar, gave the challenger a victory in a recount later that week. A second court-ordered recount resulted in Cuellar winning by 58 votes.

The victor in the Cuellar-Rodriguez race is almost certain to win in November because the district is a heavily Hispanic Democratic stronghold. It stretches from just south of Austin to Laredo, on the border with Mexico.

I might be a little harsh on Cuellar. He ran a tough race against Henry Bonilla (R-San Antonio), and would be in Congress today if he just had a few thousand more votes (and I'd surely rather have him over Bonilla). Still Cuellar endorsed Bush in 2000 and served as Secretary of State under Rick Perry. On the other hand, Rodriguez has one of the most progressive voting records of any Texas congressman (up there with Lloyd Doggett and Shelia Jackson Lee).

Via Free State Standard.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Nader Fails in Arizona, Indiana

By Byron LaMasters

Good news this week on the Ralph Nader front. Nader is way short in getting ballot signatures in Indiana. He needs 30,000 signatures, and has only 9000. The deadline is next Wednesday:

Ralph Nader's Indiana coordinator says the independent presidential candidate probably won't make it on the state ballot this November. Dallas Stoner said Nader's Indiana committee has collected only about nine-thousand of 30-thousand signatures needed to get the candidate's name on general election ballots. The deadline to collect the required number of signatures is noon Wednesday. Nader is not yet on any state ballot. He has been endorsed by the national Reform Party, which has ballot lines in seven states, including the battlegrounds of Florida and Michigan. His campaign has said he expects to appear on the ballot in 45 states. Stoner said the Nader committee will continue to seek signatures until Wednesday's deadline.

In Arizona, the state Democratic party has filed a lawsuit claiming that 15,467 of the 21,512 signatures for Nader's ballot petition in Arizona are invalid. The suit alleges that many of the signatures were by people that were ineligible to vote, or were circulated by convicted felons. The Tucson Citizen has the details:

Arizona Democrats have filed a lawsuit challenging the vast majority of signatures on Ralph Nader's nominating petitions gathered in the state. Party officials expect the challenge to the independent presidential candidate will keep him off the state's November ballot.

The suit, filed by Phoenix lawyer Andy Gordon yesterday in response to scrutiny by Democratic party volunteers, alleges that 15,467 of the 21,512 signatures Nader's campaign collected in Arizona are invalid. That would leave Nader 8,649 shy of what he needs to be listed on the ballot.

"We are very, very confident of the numbers ... and we are very confident that Mr. Nader will not be on the ballot," said Jim Pederson, Arizona's Democratic Party chairman.

Democrats are doing a good job taking care of Nader this cycle. John Kerry and Terry McAuliffe have stayed above the fray. They've gone out of their way to reach out to Ralph Nader, and they've sent surrogates like Howard Dean to reach out to potential Nader supporters. On the other hand, the grassroots activists and state parties have played their part in checking signatures and preventing Nader from gaining ballot access in as many places as possible. I've been attacked by commenters before for gloating at the fact that Nader won't be on the ballot in Texas. Sure, Texas will go for Bush, but the less states that Nader makes the ballot, the less seriously that people will take him. It'll be hard for Nader to launch any creditable attack against Democrats over allowing Nader in the debates if Nader is only on the ballot in 20 states. Finally, it's not a grassroots movement that is seeking to place Nader on the ballot. Republicans want Nader on the ballot to take votes away from Ralph Nader. In Arizona, around 65% of the Nader petition signers were Republicans. I'm sure that the same is true elsewhere.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Predictably Unpredictable

By Jim Dallas

USA Today has a breakdown of some presidential election predictors, showing that there is no clear favorite among the model-builders.

Interestingly, the only econometric model is Fair's. While Ray Fair's model shows a huge win for Bush, he also predicted a huge win for Poppy in 1992. While Fair has made some tweaks to his model since 1992, I still tend to think that it suffers from the same problem -- a purely econometric model of voter behavior is underspecified. My explorations have pretty much convinced me that economic performance and presidential approval are usually (but not always) pretty well correlated; ultimately though, voters are more apt to make decisions based on presidential approval (a political variable) than on some random econometric variables. The rough correlation is what allows Fair's model to work well enough to be better than a coin-toss -- but what also, I think, insures his prediction will not be very accurate this time around.

I never did get around to building a finished project; I just kinda got too busy to finish it. Sigh.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PPC Caucus Report on State Convention

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The SDEC now has 22 new members, 17 of whom were candidates who ran under our PPC banner. Those 17 came from the ranks of a total of 34 SDEC candidates running under our banner....that is a 50 % win rate ! A preliminary count of national delegates identifies about 20 progressives.

Happily, Nancy Machen, Ann Marie Schroeder and Gary Horton all defeated stiff opposition placed against them. Sadly, Jesse Martin was defeated but I am told by a good prospective member. (ed. note, there is little weeping here in our Senate District where Martin was NOT a "Popular" Progressive, in a bit of an ironic play on words) Bruce Barrick, former Steering Committee member prevailed in his Senate District.

Tabulations are not complete on PPC- Committee candidates, but of our 41 folks running for Committees, mainly Platform and Resolutions, 19 PPC'rs won ! I estimate that 1/3 of the members of both those Committees elected from the SD's were PPC'rs. The results bear this out because both the Platform and the Resolutions Committee passed overwhelmingly progressive positions.

I am pleased to report that our resolution on protection from electronic voter fraud cleared the Resolutions Committee and the whole convention without one dissenting vote and without the need to petition the Chair.We were acknowledged as the author of the resolution from the podium.

Our survey indicates that 84% of delegates identify themselves as progressive or liberal.

The bottom line is that this convention resulted in a progressive sweep and a transformation of our Party.

Much work ahead, but congratulations to all who ran, supported those who ran and worked on progressive and populist issues to get them on the floor, heard and supported !

From our booth and Caucus we gained approximately 300 new signed-up members ! Overwhelming. More detail as it unfolds. Special thanks to Julie Lusby and Robin Lewis who helped save our sign in process and jumped in to take minutes when Charlotte Cox was engaged in signing people in. Thanks also to Michael Boyette for staffing our booth all day on Saturday and ably
representing our Caucus.

Stan Merriman Chair, Progressive Populist Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And the Least Progressive Senator is...

By Byron LaMasters

Progressive Punch has the results, and it's Texas' very own, John Cornyn, who clocks in at 1.56 of 100 on the Progressive Punch scale. That ranks him 100 of 100 in the US Seante. For the record, Kay Bailey Hutchison ranks 71 of 100 on the Progressive Punch scale among U.S. Senators.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 23, 2004

Back in the CWS Championship

By Byron LaMasters

Hook 'em! We're back in the CWS Championship Series:

Trailing 5-0 after the top of third inning, the Longhorns' offense connected on a season-best four home runs to help No. 2 Texas (58-13) rally to its 27th come-from-behind victory of the year with a 7-6 win over No. 5 Georgia (45-23) in front of 17,500 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium during the semifinal round of the 2004 College World Series on Wednesday, June 23. With the win, the Horns advance to the CWS Championship Series and will now play for a national title for the second time in the last three years.


Up next, the Longhorns will now play either Cal St. Fullerton or South Carolina in the best-of-three CWS Championship Series, which begins on Saturday, June 26 at 6 p.m. Central. Notably, each game of the series (June 26-28) will be televised by ESPN.

Go Horns!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Show this to Every College Student in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

From the 2004 Texas GOP Platform:

Higher Education - [...]

We call on the Legislature to end all state funding of higher educations grants and scholarships. Until such action has occurred, we call on the Texas Legislature to adopt legislation that will ensure the state-supported grants and scholarships be made available to all Texas high school students, including privately educated students.

On the other hand, Texas Democrats want to restore the funding for higher education that was gutted in the 2003 budget which led the way towards tuition deregulation and increases of tuition rates by roughly thirty percent at state universities:

Post-Secondary and Adult Education: [...]

Texas Democrats pledge to:

  • Support restoration of funding cut in 2003 so that tuition and fees may be rolled back to affordable levels, expansion of the Texas Grants Program to reduce the debt burden on our children; adequate compensation, security, professional status, and benefits for all faculty; and research funding to spur economic development;
  • [...]

  • Support efforts to place a voting student regent on the appointed Board of Regents of each state-supported four-year institution of higher education.

The final plank here is a shameless plug. I lobbied for it's inclusion at the Platform Committee of the 2002 Democratic Convention in El Paso, and I'm pleased that it remained in the 2004 Texas Democratic Platform.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Inclusion Vs. Exclusion in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

2004 Texas Democratic Party Platform Vs. 2004 Texas GOP Platform:

Texas Democrats believe:

Full protection and equal opportunity under the law remain bedrock values of Texas Democrats. We believe every Texan and every family has the right to participate fully and equally in American society and enjoy its benefits and freedoms. The Constitution is intended to protect freedoms, not to be used as a tool to restrict freedoms or dictate social policy by forcing states to discriminate against groups of their own citizens based on race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Free debate and discussion and the enforcement of civil rights have kept this country strong for more than 200 years. It is wrong to write discrimination into the Constitution of the United States or the Texas Constitution.

Texas Republicans believe:

The Party supports the traditional definition of marriage as a God–ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and the Party opposes the assault on marriage by judicial activists. We call on the President, Congress, and the Texas Legislature to take immediate action to defend the sanctity of traditional marriage. We urge Congress to exercise authority under the United States Constitution, and pass legislation withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the traditional definition of marriage. We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married. Texas families will be stronger because of the passage by Governor Perry and the 78th Texas Legislature of the “Defense of Marriage Act”, which denies recognition by Texas of homosexual “unions” legitimized by other states or nations.


The Party supports legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.


The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.


The Party opposes the legalization of sodomy. The Party demands Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

Is there anyone out there that can say that they're marriage is stronger because of the the Texas "Defense of Marriage Act"? Is there anyone out there that was so insecure with their heterosexuality that needed the validation by the Texas legislature in order to strengthen their heterosexual marriage? I'd like to know.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Good for the Massachusetts Dems...

By Byron LaMasters

I'm happy to see that they're getting this out of the way before the convention when people will probably start paying attention:

If John Kerry is elected president, his seat in the U.S. Senate would be filled by the winner of a special election rather than a successor hand-picked by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney under a bill approved Wednesday by the Massachusetts Senate.

The Senate voted largely along party lines, 32-8, after a sometimes testy debate pitting the badly outnumbered Republicans, who opposed the change, against Democrats. One Democrat, Charles Shannon, D-Winchester, sided with Republicans.

Republicans will cry that this is a partisan Democratic game. So what. Republicans in Alaska did the same thing two years ago when they feared that then-Governor Tony Knowles (D-AK) would appoint himself Senator after then-Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) was elected Governor. Of course, we all know what happened next. Murkowski decided that out of all of the possible choices to fill his seat, his daughter was the best qualified.

Mitt Romney had this coming to him anyway. Massachusetts has a recent history of electing liberal to moderate Republicans such as William Weld and Paul Cellucci. Romney on the other hand, has strayed from the Weld / Cellucci tradition. He's sided with the conservatives on the gay marriage issue, and he's called on John Kerry to resign his Senate seat. Who does Mitt Romney think he is? He's governor of Massachusetts for chrissake.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Texas GOP Platform Insanity Version 1.0

By Byron LaMasters

The entire 2004 GOP Platform is now online here. This is the first time I've seen the entire document, so I'll be reading it and analysing it over the next few days, but Johnathan Ichikawa has a good find in it. The Texas GOP Platform says the following about the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Americans with Disabilities Act – The Party supports amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act.

There's a slight problem though. The Americans with Disabilities Act has never included homosexuality or homosexual practices. So, basically, Texas Republicans are calling for an amendment to remove from the Americans with Disabilities Act something that does not, and has not ever existed in that Act. In fact, the 1990 law makes it very clear that homosexuality is not included in the Americans with Disabilities Act as Johnathan Ichikawa notes:

Homosexuality has never been protected by it. Nor should it be, because it's not a disability, nor does it substantially limit major life activities (although I wouldn't necessarily put it past the GOP to argue that heterosexual sex is a major life activity...). The current law is very clear on the matter. Here's 42 U.S.C. §12211(a) (on the books since 1990, the same as the rest of the ADA):

(a) Homosexuality and bisexuality.—For purposes of the definition of "disability" in section 12102(2) of this title, homosexuality and bisexuality are not impairments and as such are not disabilities under this chapter.

So why does the Texas GOP platform include REMOVING an item from the list that wasn't on it in the first place?

Hat tip to Charles as well.

It would be nice if the Texas GOP did their research before they wrote their platform, but that would be asking too much. I'll have more on the platform as I read it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

House Proceeds on Ethics Complaint

By Byron LaMasters

The U.S. House will proceed with the inquiry into the ethics complaint by U.S. Rep. Chris Bell (D-Houston) against majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugarland). The Houston Chronicle reports:

The House ethics committee decided Tuesday to proceed with its own investigation into allegations filed against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay by Rep. Chris Bell, D-Houston.

In a ruling that does not address the substance of Bell's charges that DeLay engaged in extortion, bribery and abuse of power, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct said the complaint was filed properly and warrants a look.

The decision "in no way addresses, or constitutes a determination on the substance of any of the allegations," said Committee Chairman Joel Heffley, R-Colo., and ranking Democrat Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia.


Bell called the committee's decision "an important first step in the long journey to restore integrity and ethics to the people's house and hold the House majority leader accountable for his actions." He expressed confidence the House panel "will ultimately decide to proceed with the long overdue investigation into Mr. DeLay's illegal activities."

Of course, Republicans want to change the rules. All of a sudden, Republicans want to change the rules so that lame-duck Congressman cannot file ethics complaints because they "don't have a stake in the institution". Give me a break. That's just a bunch of silly bs:

However some Republicans, including Rep. John Culberson of Houston, will press ahead today with an effort to disqualify Bell's complaint, arguing that he should not have the right to file ethics charges because he is a lame-duck congressman and has no stake in the House's future.

Bell's complaint is an outgrowth of a Travis County grand jury probe into the use of corporate contributions in state legislative campaigns by the Texas Association of Business and Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC), a campaign group created by DeLay.

Charles makes a good point. What the heck is Culberson worried about. If the charges are baseless, then why don't they let Bell make a fool of himself. If there's substance to the charges, then it still doesn't matter, because the jury is the GOP controlled House. DeLay has little to worry about in either scenario. What's the big deal?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Republican Senate Games

By Byron LaMasters

It looks like Republicans are up to their old tricks. First, they attack John Kerry for missing votes in the Senate. His homestate governor, Mitt Romney even called on Kerry to resign:

Renewing an attack his lieutenant governor launched earlier this week, Governor Mitt Romney yesterday called on US Senator John F. Kerry to resign immediately, saying Kerry's absence from the Senate as he campaigns for president "has cost Massachusetts tens of millions of dollars." "We need to be represented, and him missing votes on critical matters is a real problem for us," Romney said yesterday after signing a statewide smoking ban.

So, Kerry goes back to Washington to cast a key vote in the U.S. Senate, and what do Republicans do? They delay the vote:

Sen. John Kerry jumped off the presidential campaign trail Tuesday so he could vote for a measure funding health care benefits for veterans -- only to watch Republican leaders postpone the vote.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee denounced their move as "politics at its silliest."

For the past month, GOP leaders have engaged in political gamesmanship with Kerry over his dual roles as senator and candidate.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, charged that Tuesday's delay -- on a proposed Democratic amendment to a defense spending bill to fund veterans' health care -- was but the latest example.

Typical GOP hypocrisy. Attack John Kerry for missing votes, then prevent him from voting when he makes a special trip to Washington to vote on an important bill.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ADL Blasts Texas GOP

By Byron LaMasters

It's good to see that others outside of Texas are taking notice at the absurdity of the Texas GOP Platform. The Anti-Defamation League sent a letter to the chair of the Texas Republican Party yesterday urging them to reconsider their inclusion of the "Christian Nation" plank in their platform:

The Anti-Defamation League is one of our country's leading civil rights and human relations organizations. ADL combats prejudice and discrimination and fosters harmonious intergroup relations. We are writing to you today to express our dismay that similar to the Texas Republican Party's 2002 platform, the section of its 2004 platform entitled "Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety" contains a sub-heading called "Christian Nation" which "affirms that the United States is a Christian nation." We are also deeply concerned by the platform's reference to "the myth of the separation of church and state."

On behalf of our constituency across the State of Texas, we are again deeply concerned by this statement. As our founding documents demonstrate, our nation is not based on any one particular faith. Rather, our nation is a democratic one, founded on the principles of pluralism and diversity, including protecting the rights of the individual.

America was founded on the belief that freedom of religion requires that the government take no official stance on, or participate in, religious activity or religion. In addition, our United States Constitution prohibits a state religion and forbids a religious test for holding public office.

Reuters picked up the story as well. It's good to see the lunacy of the Texas GOP Platform get some national attention. Now... if someone would just pick up on the whole retaking the Panama Canal Zone....

Reuters story via Free State Standard.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 22, 2004

I'm sorry sir...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

One sunny day in 2005 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U. S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay" and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here." The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U. S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Holy Shit! Bob Barr Isn't Totally Nuts!

By Byron LaMasters

Guess who spoke in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today in opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment? None other than the author of the Defense of Marriage Act, Bob Barr. The AP reports:

Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the Constitution shouldn't be used as a vehicle for banning homosexual marriage. His remarks suggested that some of the strongest opposition to the proposed amendment may come from conservatives who abhor gay unions.

"We meddle with the Constitution to our own peril," Barr said. "If we begin to treat the Constitution as our personal sandbox, in which to build and destroy castles as we please, we risk diluting the grandeur of having a constitution in the first place."


Barr, author of the Defense of Marriage Act denying federal recognition to gay unions, said in prepared testimony that conservatives should resist the temptation to use the Constitution to strangle states' rights. He said the Defense of Marriage Act was sufficient to deny recognition to homosexual marriage, and noted that it has yet to be successfully challenged.

Bob Barr may just have to turn in his credentials as a member of the bigot wing of the Republican Party if he keeps this up. Or perhaps, Bob Barr just got tired of the Elizabeth Birch's of the world asking him which one of his three marriages the Defense of Marriage Act was actually defending. Regardless, the Federal Marriage Amendment debate is making some strange alliances.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Suggestions for Texas Tuesdays

By Byron LaMasters

We'll continue featuring candidates over at Texas Tuesdays next week. At the blogger caucus last week we discussed moving on to focus on state representative candidates (in addition to covering a few of the Congressional candidates we have yet to get in touch with). If you have any candidate that you think deserves to be profiled, make your suggestions here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Reason to Pick Edwards 2.0

By Byron LaMasters

Take a look at this poll:

If North Carolina elected a president today, President Bush would win -- but not nearly by the margin this Republican-friendly state handed him four years ago, according to a new statewide poll. In the poll, 47 percent of likely voters chose Bush, a Republican, while 42 percent selected Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat.

The divide would narrow further if Kerry selects Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, according to the survey, conducted June 13-16 for a partnership of The News & Observer, WRAL-TV and WUNC radio.

"Kerry doesn't have to win North Carolina to win the presidency. Everybody knows that. Bush knows that," said Del Ali of Research 2000, the Maryland polling firm that conducted the survey. "But by taking Edwards on the ticket, it really does force Bush to spend time in an area that, frankly, he can't afford to spend time in."

Kerry has yet to run a single advertisement in North Carolina. Some advertising and Edwards on the ticket would at the very least force Bush to campaign in the state.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In Case you Missed it...

By Byron LaMasters

Rep. Chris Bell (D-Houston) laid out his ethics complaint case agaisnt Tom DeLay in an op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle on Sunday. Read it.

I'll be catching up with a recap of the convention and my final thoughts later today. I got tied up yesterday, catching up on sleep, unpacking, doing laundry, catching up on work and emails, so blogging evaded me.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kinky Republicans

By Byron LaMasters

Score one for the Republican family values hypocrisy department. This time coming from the jerk in Illinois who hired a stalker to follow his opponent into the bathroom with a camera. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Jack Ryan's ex-wife, TV actress Jeri Ryan, accused him of taking her to sex clubs in New York and Paris, where he tried to coerce her into having sex with him in front of strangers, according to records released Monday from the couple's California divorce file.

Jack Ryan denied the allegations when they were made in 2000, when the couple was engaged in a bitter child custody battle a year after their divorce.

The papers were released by California Judge Robert Schnider following his decision last week to unseal portions of the Ryans' divorce file.

Attorneys for the Tribune and WLS-Ch. 7 sought release of the records, but the Ryans had fought disclosure because they said it could harm their son. The Ryans decided not to appeal Schnider's ruling.

The political impact of the revelations on Jack Ryan's candidacy will play out over the next several days. One prominent Illinois Republican, U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood of Peoria, said he was "shocked" that Ryan would run for public office carrying such baggage and called on him to get out of the race.

The best part of it all is that Ryan's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama is just staying above the fray. He doesn't have to say anything about Ryan's past. Ryan can self-destruct quite well on his own. Notice how Ryan's last four press releases of spin control on the divorce records.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:47 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Republican Neighbors...

By Byron LaMasters

When I first got involved in politics at the age of 18, I registered to vote at my parents home in Collin County (northern Dallas suburbs). It's not an easy place to be a Democrat. There aren't too many of us. So, it didn't surprise me to read this:

While flags flew at half-staff for late President Ronald Reagan, some unpatriotic so-and-so yanked the stars and stripes off Morton "Jeff" Graham's front porch. For the third time in the last year, he says. Display mount and all.

In January, chunks of cinder block were thrown through two of his bedroom windows. And then there's the broken window and later the denting of his pickup in front of his Plano home.

"This must have been some kind of blunt instrument," he said, touching the cherry red Ford with the subtle window-sticker messages: Impeach Bush. George Bush AWOL. Veterans for Kerry.

Such words shock the system in Collin County, where Elect Bush (versions I and II) and Republicans in general long have been the sentiment of choice.

And call him crazy, but Mr. Graham, a former outspoken chairman of the county Democratic Party, figures the nighttime bashings on Stonetrail Drive are politically inspired.

"I'm sure people might think I'm a paranoid nut," he said. "But I don't know why else I'd be singled out."

Mr. Graham, 36, was credited with resurrecting the local party , but he resigned in January 2002 at the request of party leaders after deciding not to seek re-election.

The business owner and Navy veteran said he loses a half dozen or so yard signs every election season and has no idea who keeps picking on his property.

Plano police said criminal mischief has been reported this year at only one other property on Mr. Graham's block.

It's probably kids, Mr. Graham said, "who come from a home with extreme beliefs."

Whoever it is, after 12 years in the neighborhood, "I'm not going to let somebody run me out," he said.

Sign stealing is pretty common, but tearing down the U.S. flag and throwing cinder blocks through someone's window because of their political expression?

This is the second such story in two weeks in the Dallas Morning News. Last week, the Dallas Morning News ran a story about a meeting of the Dallas chapter of Mother's Opposing Bush (MOB). The Dallas Morning News found a slightly provacative picture of the MOB rally and proceeded to print the name of a 2-year old, then include the phone number and email address of the leader of the organization. What happened? The poor women has received hate email and vicious phone calls constantly over the past week. Can't we just have a little civility here?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:37 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

Convention Update #2

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be blogging more on the convention tomorrow, but for now, check out the videos from the convention that the Texas Democratic Party has posted here. Be sure to watch the John Edwards speech if you have the chance. It was a variation of his campaign stump speech. He mixed red meat for the base with humor, his stump speech, a pitch for his friend John Kerry and firey anti-Bush rhetoric. It was a great audition for Vice President. Check out the rest of the videos as well. The speeches by Dennis Kucinich, the Democratic Senators and Representatives, and by Chairman Soechting are also included. Kudos to the Texas Democratic Party for putting the videos online so quickly.

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

June 20, 2004

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Helps Terrorists

By Byron LaMasters

If for no other reason, this is why "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" needs to go. It's a simple issue. Our "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military hampers our ability to fight the war on terrorism. The policy has undermined out military readiness as we fight the war on terrorism. The AP reports:

Even with concerns growing about military troop strength, 770 people were discharged for homosexuality last year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a new study shows.

The figure, however, is significantly lower than the record 1,227 discharges in 2001 — just before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Since "don't ask, don't tell" was adopted in 1994, nearly 10,000 military personnel have been discharged — including linguists, nuclear warfare experts and other key specialists.

The statistics, obtained from the Defense Manpower Data Center and analyzed by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara, offers a detailed profile of those discharged, including job specialty, rank and years spent in the service.

"The justification for the policy is that allowing gays and lesbians to serve would undermine military readiness," said Aaron Belkin, author of the study, which will be released Monday. "For the first time, we can see how it has impacted every corner of the military and goes to the heart of the military readiness argument."


Hundreds of those discharged held high-level job specialties that required years of training and expertise, including 90 nuclear power engineers, 150 rocket and missile specialists and 49 nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare specialists.

Eighty-eight linguists were discharged, including at least seven Arab language specialists.

Brian Muller, an Army bomb squad team leader who had advanced training on weapons of mass destruction and served on a security detail for President Bush, said he was dismissed from duty after deciding to tell his commander he's gay.

"I didn't do it to get out of a war — I already served in a war," Muller, 25, said in an interview. "After putting my life on the line in the war, the idea that I was fighting for the freedoms of so many other people that I couldn't myself enjoy was almost unbearable."

It's outrageous. I'm confident that we'll see this policy changed should John Kerry be elected president. Bill Clinton didn't have the military stature to carry it though. John Kerry does.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Mitt Romney can bite me

By Jim Dallas

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a Republican and known Bush-toadie, is complaining about how Kerry's presidential aspirations are hurting Massachusetts.

I'd remind Romney that Massachusetts, like all states, has two United States senators, including the very able Edward Kennedy.

Texas, on the other hand, has only one governor, but that didn't keep a certain former Texas governor from harboring presidential ambitions throughout 2000 (and, actually, most of 1998 and 1999 as well).

Indeed, a compelling case could be made that many, if not most, of the budgetary problems Texas has faced over the last five years stem from George W. Bush's 2000 presidential race. Bush, as governor, was not averse to pragmatism - until he decided to run for president, and put sucking up to right-wing ideologues ahead of the best interests of the Lone Star State.

Would Texas have a working school finance system today if Bush hadn't run in 2000? I don't know, but the chances would have been a lot higher.

If Kerry resigned now, of course, Mitt Romney would get to tap a replacement. But he'd better hurry, because the Mass assembly is gearing up to insure that Kerry's successor will be a Democrat.

Every time a senator or governor (or house minority leader -- I'm looking at you, Dick "Let's Invade Iraq Now!" Gephardt") gears up for a presidential run, the long-term interests of their constituents often get set aside in favor of short-term political benefit. Crocodile tears should not impress anyone.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:09 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Conventional Wisdom

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The convention is over and it is late. I'll be posting a report tomorrow when I get back to Austin and Byron and I can fill in the holes for each other in case we miss anything. In the meantime I am quite content to take a day of celebration in my victory for National Delegate, where I won with 80% of my District's vote, meaning about 120-30. I talked with Glen Maxey today, former head of the Dean campaign in Texas, and even though there are no "Dean" delegates, Dean people will make up around 1/4 of the Texas Delegation to Boston in July, around 75 people.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Veronica Rivera Wins

By Byron LaMasters

Democrat Veronica Rivera defeated right-winger Marc Levin in the ACC run-off election tonight by a 63 - 37% margin. The turnout was pathetic, at 1.3%, but its good news regardless.

Results here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Looking Ahead to 2006...

By Byron LaMasters

The Houston Chronicle does:

U.S. Senate: The key to 2006 isn't a Democrat at all, but a prominent Republican, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. If she retires or runs for governor, as she has hinted she might, her Senate seat would be the top prize for both parties. Among Democrats mentioned as possible candidates are U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston, who lost his re-election bid in this year's Democratic primary; Bell's predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Ken Bentsen; Barbara Radnofsky, a Vinson & Elkins lawyer who has been testing the water with party activists; and U.S. Rep. Jim Turner of Crockett, who is being forced from his U.S. House seat because of redistricting.

• Governor: Hutchison's decision also also could affect the governor's contest. Many Democrats believe she would be tougher to beat in the general election than Gov. Rick Perry, should she best him in the Republican primary. State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn also may challenge Perry in the primary, and would be a formidable opponent for the Democrats. Possible Democratic governor candidates include Turner; Austin advertising executive Roy Spence, who has handled high-level Democratic advertising and is friends with former President Clinton and other top national Democrats; and Dallas Mayor Laura Miller.

• Lieutenant governor: Former Comptroller John Sharp has lost two races for lieutenant governor, but some Democrats say he may take a third run at the post -- particularly if incumbent Republican David Dewhurst runs for Hutchison's Senate seat. U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards of Waco, who faces an uphill battle for re-election because of redistricting, also may be interested in the lieutenant governor post if he doesn't return to Congress.

• Attorney general: Mayor Miller's husband, retiring state Rep. Steve Wolens of Dallas, might challenge Republican incumbent Greg Abbott. And some Democrats would like to see another run by former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who lost to Abbott in 2002.

Interesting speculation. I haven't thought about it too much myself, yet. Much of it will revolve around things yet to be determined. Namely two events. First, which Democratic congressmen survive, and which are defeated in November? Second, what does Kay Bailey Hutchison run for? I expect that if she runs for another Senate term, that she'll have a relatively easy election. However, if she challenges Rick Perry in the GOP primary for governor, Democrats would be likely to put forward highly competetive challenger is both races.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

No Speaking Roll for Sylvester Turner

By Byron LaMasters

I don't know why Sylvester Turner was so upset that he didn't have a speaking role at the convention. There's a reason we didn't here from John Whitmire - he would have been heckled out of the room. It's likely that Sylvester Turner would have had a similar response (considering that he's in the Craddick leadership team and that he did not join the Killer D's in Ardmore, OK). Regardless, Turner complained to the Houston Chronicle:

State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, denounced attempts to keep him from speaking to the convention as "minor league" and "ineffective."

Turner stayed in Austin last year when about 50 other House Democrats broke a quorum to block a redistricting bill during the regular legislative session.


Party loyalty has been a sore spot for Democrats since they suffered a congressional redistricting defeat in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Several Democratic incumbents, including state Rep. Ron Wilson of Houston, were defeated in their re-election primaries by opponents who questioned their party purity.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has tried to block Turner from speaking to the convention, saying Turner is too closely aligned with Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick. Turner dismissed Coleman's complaints.

"Bring me a major player," Turner said. "I will not respond to people who major in minor."

Turner said that his ability to work with Republicans in the House allows him to be an effective legislator who is able to get his proposals enacted into law. Coleman's inability to be bipartisan has made him unproductive and ineffective, Turner said.

"One individual does not speak for the overwhelming numbers of the Democratic party," Turner said. "I stopped listening to Representative Coleman a long time ago."

Who does Sylvester Turner think that he is? If his idea of being effective is working with Tom Craddick to cut thousands of children off the CHIP program and raising tuition rates for universities across the state as a result of tuition deregulation, then yes, Sylvester Turner is effective. My idea of an effective legislator is one who does everything in their power to stop, block and obstruct the Draconian budget cuts and right-wing power grabs that the Texas GOP has engaged themselves in. I think that the applause that people like Garnett Colman (D-Houston) and Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) received by the convention crowd suggests that most of the delegates to the convetion would agree with me.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

It's on the way...

By Byron LaMasters

The following is packed and ready to leave our warehouse:

Bill To: Byron LaMasters
Ship To: Byron LaMasters
Address: **** ****** **** **.

1 $21.00 My Life
ISBN:0375414576 Jun 18, 2004
$21.00 Net Product
$0.00 Free Shipping & Handling
$21.00 Total Shipment
$21.00 Credit Card

Don't expect to hear too much from me when I get my copy. I plan on curling up on a sofa, or laying out by the pool for about two days until I finish it.

You can get your copy, too:

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vote Today!

By Byron LaMasters

If you're in Austin and have not yet voted, you have two more hours to vote in the ACC (Austin Community College) Board run-off before the polls close. The race is non-partisan, but Veronica Rivera is the Democratic candidate in the race. Her opponent is on the board of the far right-wing YCT (Young Conservatives of Texas) - notorious for their racist bake sales protesting Affirmative Action. I voted the first day of early voting as I'm in Houston for the Democratic convention, but if you're in Austin and haven't yet made it to the polls, go now!

You can find your polling location, here (and I think that results will be posted there as well). I doubt that I'll be able to post tonight, so if they don't post the results here, I'll post them tomorrow.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

Convention Update #1

By Byron LaMasters

Karl-Thomas was elected by a 100-30 margin to be a Kerry Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Boston next month by the 24th Senate District Caucus. Congratulations Karl!

The treasurer of the Dallas County Young Democrats (and Texas Young Democrats National Committeeman), David Hardt was also elected to be a Kerry delegate to the Convention by the 16th Senate District Caucus.

I'm sure I'll here more news from other friends soon, but I'm happy for the two of them.

Here's my experience at my Senate District Caucus (14):

As is typical of any official Democratic event, it took awhile to get everything organized. Senate District 14 has 291 delegates to the Texas Democratic convention, so as an alternate, I had to wait to see how many of the delegates showed up. Once the sign-in for the delegates closed, the process of elevating alternates began. It was decided that all the alternates would write their name and gender on a notecard, and hand them in. Then we were taken outside the caucus room where Glen Maxey was designated to read the list of delegates and upon reaching an unfilled delegate slot, a name was drawn of an alternate of the same gender to fill that alternate. My name was drawn to fill the third male delegate slot taking the place of the absent delegate. First was the affirmation of the previous election of the delegation chair. Then, the senate district elected representatives for the Credentials, Platform, Resolutions, Rules and Nominations Committees. Finally, we elected representatives to the SDEC (State Democratic Executive Committee). Two former Dean activists were elected to fill the two seats. Rich Bailey was elected to fill the open male SDEC member. For the SDEC female seat, Fran Vincent defeated incumbent Anne McAfee. After the SDEC meeting we adjourned for the convention with the intention of reconvening following the adjournment of the election tonight in order to elect National Delegates.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Richard Morrison Chat

By Byron LaMasters

We were just joined here at Kaveh Kanes by the Democratic nominee for Congress in District 22, otherwise known as the man taking on Tom DeLay - Richard Morrison. He had about 15 minutes to spend with us.

His fundraising is going well. He's been raising a lot of money online from bloggers, as well as within the district. The DCCC has also pledged a commitment to the race.

Morrison has noticed that many of the new voters placed in the district through redistricting are interested in his campaign message. He's especially noticed this among Republicans and Independents.

Morrison has been focusing on a few key issues in his race. One issue that he highlighted was the Social Security Fairness Act for teachers. Morrison supports it, DeLay doesn't, and it's a bipartisan issue with over 300 supporters in Congress. Another issue is transportation. Local elected officials in the 22nd are getting swamped with calls for a mobility plan. Who's stopping it on Congress? Tom DeLay. Morrison wants light rail and commuter rail. On Health Care, Morrison called the Republican Prescription Drug program a sham, because there are no price controls on the drug companies.

Morrison is running a grassroots campaign. He hopes to raise over one million dollars. With the money, Morrison hopes to have 800 people on the ground, targetted mailings, radio and TV. The more he raises, the more he can do.

Morrison said that the DeLay scandals have upset a lot of Republicans who generally support limited government. Many of the people he were talked to were pissed off by Tom DeLay's involvement in the redistricting process - where DeLay was "so public and so mean"

Go ahead and drop Richard Morrison a few bucks when you have the chance.

Update: There's a picture of all of us at Kaveh Kanes over on Texas Tuesday's here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogger Caucus

By Byron LaMasters

I'm here at Kaveh Kanes in downtown Houston with the Texas blogger big-wigs. We're talking about how to improve Texas Tuesdays. Let us know if you have any thoughts on where we should go with it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Killer D's and Craddick D's

By Byron LaMasters

Capitol Inside has a story today on Sylvester Turner and Helen Giddings - both Democrats who are part of Speaker Craddick leadership team. It will be interesting to see how they are received by the delegates over the weekend. Im predicting a rather cold reception. The two of them didn't join the rest of the Killer D's in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and they committed early to Craddick. They have a party scheduled for tonight, but I know that most of the people I've talked to will be going to the Chris Bell / Rodney Ellis Party. That's where I'll be. Anyway, here's some parts of the story:

The veteran African-American Democrats are expected to cross back into their own ranks this weekend for small parts at the Texas Democratic Convention that's set for Friday and Saturday at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Turner's hometown. They will be fresh off a photo safari to South Africa with Craddick and Houston State Rep. Beverly Woolley, the Republican Calendars Committee chair who's probably as unpopular with most Democrats as the speaker himself. How Turner, Giddings and several other incumbent Democrats who were loyal to Craddick will be received by the legions of diehard Democrats attending the convention won't be known until they all meet face to face this weekend. But the answer could say a lot about the future of the state Democratic Party and the Texas House in the early stages of an era that's been marked by bitter partisanship and intolerance to the opposing parties' positions and views.

Turner and Giddings aren't quite the pariahs that Ron Wilson and John Whitmire are, but I'm betting that the Turner / Giddings party will be noticably less popular than the Bell / Ellis one.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

But you didn't answer my question about the million rabbits', umm, wrestling.

By Jim Dallas

Belle Waring of Crooked Timber,one of my favorite blogophilosophers, demonstrates the failings of utilitarianism in determining the justice of prisoner torture. Aliens and Bruce Willis are involved.

Of course, this all necessarily reminds me of a philosophy TA at UT who asked us to consider weighing one human life against the overly-abundant happiness which would result by causing one million rabbits to simultaneously got their freak on. This was one of the lectures on J.S. Mill. Oh, how I miss college.

Belle also contributed, a while back, one of my favorite blog posts ever, examining utopian discourse. Note - ponies are involved.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tin Foil Hat? Check.

By Jim Dallas

The Galveston County Daily News reports on the approaching storm that will involve mega-firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson (henceforth LGBS), which collects delinquent taxes for many Texas local governments as well as a bunch of other municipalities:

William King, an attorney who is mayor of Kemah, on Monday walked county leaders through a presentation of his law firm's adeptness at collecting debts.

But Bernard McIntyre, who sits on the board of the water district that has been feuding with King, said the county should check allegations against the law firm before leaping.

Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson - the giant firm that King manages - and the Texas City firm of Lyons and Plackemeier are in the process of merging. Lyons and Plackemeier for years have collected delinquent taxes for the county.

King on Monday pitched the firm's services collecting delinquent fines and fees owed to the courts.

The prospect of having the larger firm working on the county's behalf at least until the end of 2005 has been criticized by leaders of organized labor and Tony Buzbee, chairman of the county Democratic Party.

The subplot here is that King, the mayor of Kemah, has a lot of enemies in local politics, some of which have claimed that King stalked and threatened them (see the Houston Press, August 14 2003). This is yet another avenue for feuding personalities to throw eggs at each other.

The Daily News story mentions a few of the more well-known ethical lapses in LGBS history; most notably that one of the firms which later merged into LGBS bribed former Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis. A short history from the San Antonio Express News:

Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson has been a prolific campaign contributor in Texas. Generous in local races, the firm has also given more than $400,000 to state-office holders since January 2000. The bulk of the money went to the campaign coffers of Gov. Rick Perry.

In the Rio Grande Valley, where Peña oversaw the firm's South Texas operations, Texas legislators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio Jr. received nearly $18,000, campaign finance records show.

Hinojosa and Lucio introduced legislation in 1999 and 2001 that favored the law firm. A competing company claims the Linebarger partnership actually wrote the bills.

In New Orleans, the firm joined with a company made up of former Mayor Marc Morial's supporters to win a lucrative contract with the city. The agreement allows Linebarger to split 30 percent of any delinquent accounts it collects, a rate among the highest in the nation for property taxes.

That contract is now the focus of an FBI investigation.

Heard and his law partners have hired public officials and the politically connected to help win contracts.

"We often engage local consultants or attorneys to assist us in a public relations campaign to let people know who we are and how well we do our work," partner Dale Linebarger said.

Over the years, the firm has employed former tax collectors for government entities; a former county judge in Dallas; former Texas Gov. Mark White; former U.S. Rep. Craig Washington Jr., D-Houston; current and past state Reps. Debra Danburg, Senfronia Thompson and Larry Evans of Houston; state Sen. J.E. "Buster" Brown, R-Lake Jackson; former state Rep. Orlando Garcia, now a federal judge; the wife of former U.S. Rep. Albert Bustamante, D-San Antonio; state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio; and a Canadian lobbyist who was a fund-raiser for Mike Harris, former premier of Ontario.

Dale Linebarger, one of the law partners who joined forces with Heard in 1998, acknowledged the firm has tried to build political networks - as would any other business, he said.

"All things being equal, people frequently are going to hire their friends over their enemies," Linebarger said.

But he rejected suggestions that campaign contributions and politicking are inappropriate.

"It's God's truth that I've spent my life and my career trying to do a real good job for people," Linebarger said. "And it just hurts when it's characterized as nothing but politics and slick deals."

What worries me here (tin foil hat time) is that if the heat gets turned up enough by the 12th WCID folks (who McIntyre represents) and other LGBS critics (never underestimate the power of organized labor), any heretofore-undiscovered ethical lapses on the part of LGBS or its clients (remember, the firm represents about half the taxing entities in the state of Texas, as well as the federal government) may be discovered, leading to a huge, bi-partisan shit-storm, with the eye hovering over Austin.

That isn't to imply that this will, or probably happen (or that there is anything unbecoming about LGBS's business practices). I'm not mentioning the Daily News story in an attempt to rumor-monger, but to note an inherent danger in any mega-business. When you've got a law firm the size of LGBS, the potential for a snowballing scandal to erupt is considerable; consider for example mega-energy provider Enron and mega-conglomerate Halliburton.

This will be important to watch, and if LGBS comes out with their nose clean (and gets a chance to prove that the firm is acting as a good public servant) , it will be a great day for the State of Texas, and there should be much rejoicing and well-deserved praise for LGBS and its allies.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sandlin to Kerry: Pick Edwards

By Jim Dallas

According to The Hill, Rep. Max Sandlin, a former Gep supporter, signed the House memo urging Kerry to pick John Edwards as veep, presumably if it means passing on Gephardt. He's quoted as saying it's a "common sentiment" that an Edwards' pick would help to insure Democratic victories in closely contested races in the South.

Max Sandlin, as usual, is correct.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Convention Time

By Byron LaMasters

I'm leaving for the convention in Houston at noon. I'm looking forward to the entire weekend. I'll also have a laptop with me for the weekend, so I'll be reporting live from the convention along with Karl-Thomas. Here's my tenative convention schedule:

Thursday, 6/17 - John Sharp pre-convention party at some point

Friday, 6/18:
9 - 11 AM Various Caucuses
11 AM -1 PM - Texas Stonewall Democrats and Texas Young Democrats Caucuses
1 - 3 PM - Informal Blogger Caucus at Kaveh Kanes
3 PM - SD 14 Caucus
6 PM - Convention
9 PM - Chris Bell/Rodney Ellis party

Saturday, 6/19
9:30 AM - Workshops if I make it
11 AM - Convention Continues

There's a Young Democrats Party on Saturday night that I'll try to make, or I'll just hang out with some friends if I'm getting burned out. Anyway, I hope to run into a lot of friends / readers.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Soechting: Democrats can win Back TX House

By Byron LaMasters

Texas Democratic Party Chair thinks that Democrats can win back the Texas House this year. I certainly appreciate his optimism. Still, I think that while Democrats can pick up seats in the state house this year, I would be surprised if we picked up more than four or five seats. Not only will we have to defend some tough seats, but there's only about 6-8 seats (by my count at least) where we have a serious pick-up opportunity. Anyway, the Statesman has the story:

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting says he's just tickled with the state's Republican leadership.

As Soechting looks to help bring the minority party back to power, he says the GOP is doing most of his work for him.

"I don't think we could ask them to misgovern more," Soechting said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

The leader of the state party intends to help Democrats wrangle control of the Texas House away from Republican power this November. He'll attempt to give the anemic party a boost at the Texas Democratic Convention Thursday through Saturday in Houston.

"It starts this time. You can't violate the voters' trust and insult the voters' intelligence and be as arrogant as they have been about their method of governing and not expect that you have consequences," he said.

Republicans now hold an 88-62 advantage in the House. Winning back the majority will be a tall order to fill for Democrats, but ever-optimistic Soechting has set his sights on wresting 15 seats from the GOP in the November election.


Soechting began his battle by recruiting 35 candidates to oppose Republicans in state House races. His plan of attack: recapture the "forgotten" middle class.

"This middle class is a tremendous group of people who get up and go to work everyday and play by the rules and do everything the way they're supposed to, and then just watch government take advantage of them with no regard for what's going on in their lives," he said.

By Soechting's calculations, soaring gasoline prices, unaffordable prescription drug costs, millions wasted on redistricting efforts and a failure to untangle the state's current school funding quagmire are just a few of the ills suffered by Middle America at the hands of Republicans in power.

Regardless, you can win if you don't try. And Soechting is certainly trying to win, which is the attitude we need from our party leadership. I'm looking forward to reelecting Chairman Soechting this weekend.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:52 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

And I'm Off...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The State Democratic Convention is this weekend and I'm off to join it. There will be posts over the week from Byron and myself who will be there. My major highlight will be my continued race for National Delegate.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 16, 2004

Dean as VP II

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Ok, so there was a comment in the previous entry about the scream killing Dean off regardless for what ever he might be considered for (I'm sure it would be brought up as an excuse for Chief Senate Floor Duster if there was one that was appointed).

Over at Daily Kos in a comment, there was an excellent idea which I have posted below...

Hi, I'm Howard Dean. You may remember me as a mild-mannered doctor and former governor of Vermont.

[footage of one of the doctored/well-mixed Deanscreams from the internet]

Yes, we all have a lot to scream about these days, don't we?

[appropriate images onscreen with each of the bullets below]

+ with our sons and daughters dying in a war we didn't have to fight;
+ with tax breaks and wrist slaps for corporate fatcats and scofflaws;
+ with our executive branch thinking that they can ignore the constitution and international law;

I'm Howard Dean, and I approved this message because I'd say the time for remaining silent has long since passed. It's time for your voice to be heard again. Speak up, and elect Kerry/Dean in 2004.

I was curious why Zogby or Fox News would do a poll all of a sudden at the same time about Dean as a VP choice. Especially a Zogby poll of over 7,000 people with state by state break downs. I would suspect it's more than just the chance that Zogby was bored and had nothing better to do.

Where there's smoke...

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dean as VP?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From myDD...

A June 8-9 national poll taken by Opinion Dynamcs Corp. for Fox News provides food for thought regarding a Kerry-Dean ticket. Overall, a Kerry-Dean ticket garnered support from 45 percent compared with 44 percent for Bush-Cheney (same as Kerry-Edwards). In the so-called battleground states, Kerry-Dean beat Bush-Cheney 48-42. The poll defines battleground states as: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The old conventional wisdom about a vice presidential candidate concludes that the best pick is the one who can deliver the electoral votes of his or her home state on Election Day. That is what keeps names like retiring Missouri congressman Richard Gephardt and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack in the mix. Neither excites, and one is virtually unknown beyond the corn belt. Dean's constituency is bigger than a single state. It's a movement synonymous with change and excitement.

But excitement from the left scares the middle. The middle is where Kerry thinks he wants to be in an election that has come to be defined as Bush versus not Bush. It's too bad a party has to lose its heart and soul to put a body in the White House.

Well, you know, Howard Dean is just unelectable compared to that John Kerry guy...

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No Evidence Connecting Iraq to Al Qaeda, 9/11 Panel Says

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wow, and this is big news?

There is "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Although Osama bin Laden briefly explored the idea of forging ties with Iraq in the mid-1990s, the terrorist leader was hostile to Hussein's secular government, and Iraq never responded to requests for help in providing training camps or weapons, the panel found in the first of two reports issued today.

The findings come in the wake of statements Monday by Vice President Cheney that Iraq had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda, and comments by President Bush yesterday backing up that assertion.

Would this be an ok time for us to realize that we didn't have to freak out over Howard Dean's "the capture of Saddam does not neccisarily make America any safer comment?" Along with those Weapons of Mass Destruction, Imminent Threats, and Mobile Weapons Labs...this ranks right up there with the continued flow of lies from the White House. And to what end? Can anyone name one reason why we went to war that has turned out to be true?

In fact, give me 837 reasons. Or maybe you are a visual learner.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:19 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 15, 2004

US Senate Passes Hate Crime Legislation

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This just out, though by no means are we out of the woods yet...

Legislation to strengthen 1960s-era federal hate crime law and broaden it to cover gay people and the disabled overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

The legislation was passed by a 65-33 vote as an amendment to a defense bill. Backers hope the large bipartisan margin will ensure the measure remains part of the bill after negotiations with the House of Representatives.

The House, which has been less sympathetic to the hate crimes legislation, did not include hate crimes in its version of the defense bill.

Eighteen Republicans joined all the Senate Democrats present to pass the measure expanding current law, which deals with crimes motivated by race, religion or national origin.

Though my favorite quote is at the end of the piece.

Opposing the legislation, Republicans Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said they thought hate crimes were better dealt with on a local rather than federal level.

Would this be the same Man on Dog Senator Santorum that is so gung-ho for that FEDERAL Constitutional Amendment?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

And the winner...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This week's winner of the contest (most 'interesting' web ad) I created simply for the sake of posting this entry (a contest that will probably end after this entry) is Betty Castor for US Senate. She's in a primary battle in Florida. And she has the ever (oddly) hip and cool Janet Reno on her side.

Go here, and on the front page check out the ad on the right where you can see Reno's web ad for Betty. You will be underwhelmed at first, but keep watching it and you too will have to agree that it deserves to win my silly contest.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If one is to believe Drudge...

The Senate Republican leadership is aiming for a mid-July vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, forcing Democrats to take a stand on the controversial topic just before the party heads to Boston for its presidential nominating convention.

Mark Preston at ROLL CALL reports: Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) said the GOP leaders are not yet prepared to make an official announcement on a specific date, but confirmed that they are scouting for a July vote.

"We are sort of running the traps on this right now, and sort of seeing what kind of response we are getting", Santorum said following Tuesday's Republican policy lunch. "We are talking about it. I think there are a couple of meetings to be had yet before any official announcement is made."

I'm glad to see that Mr. Man on Dog Santorum is heading this one up. Of course it's going to fail because the Republicans won't even have 50 votes for it, far short of the 67 needed. There is a breakdown over at dKos that was done when it first came up.

This is more evidence that the Republicans are grasping at straws to try to pull out wins in the White House AND Senate AND House this fall. The real battle lies on the State level with these amendments, not in DC.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Bush to the Reagan Family: No Stem Cell Research

By Byron LaMasters

The AP reports:

The White House rejected calls Monday from Ronald Reagan (news - web sites)'s family and others to relax President Bush (news - web sites)'s restrictions on stem-cell research in pursuit of potential cures for illnesses.

Bush signed an executive order in August 2001 that limited federal help to financing stem cell research on 78 embryonic stem cell lines then in existence. Because day-old embryos are destroyed when stem cells are extracted, the process is opposed by some conservatives who link it to abortion.

Shortly before Reagan's death, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (news - web sites) and 57 other senators asked Bush to relax the restrictions. Nancy Reagan has long argued that using stem cells from embryos could lead to cures for a number of diseases like the Alzheimer's that afflicted her husband. Bush opposes using embryos for stem cell research.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush continues to believe that his policy is the right one.

This is an issue that unites Democrats and many moderate Republicans. Fifty-seven U.S. Senators have asked Bush to relax his restrictions on stem cell research. Instead of listening, however, Bush is again resorting to pandering to his right-wing base. I hope that Nancy Reagan and their family continue to push this issue.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Stop the Presses! Bush Praises Clinton! Sort Of..

By Byron LaMasters

And I'm sure that he meant every word of it. Here's Bush's remarks at a ceremony unveiling Bill Clinton's portrait at the White House:

As you might know, my father and I have decided to call each other by numbers. (Laughter.) He's 41, I'm 43. It's a great honor to -- it's a great pleasure to honor number 42. We're glad you're here, 42. (Applause.) The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man. As a candidate for any office, whether it be the state attorney general or the President, Bill Clinton showed incredible energy and great personal appeal. As chief executive, he showed a deep and far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a President. Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead -- and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.

Over eight years, it was clear that Bill Clinton loved the job of the presidency. He filled this house with energy and joy. He's a man of enthusiasm and warmth, who could make a compelling case and effectively advance the causes that drew him to public service.

People saw those gifts very early in Bill Clinton. He is remembered in Hope, Arkansas, and other places along the way, as an eager, good-hearted boy who seemed destined for big things. I was particularly struck by the story of a nun at St. John's School in Hot Springs who decided that Billy Clinton should get a C in deportment. That was a rare grade for the future Rhodes Scholar and President. (Laughter.) So Bill's mother gave the nun a call to see what was wrong. The sister replied, "Oh, nothing much. But let me tell you, this boy knows the answer to every question and he just leaps to his feet before anyone else can." (Laughter.) She went on, you know, "I know he'll not tolerate this C, but it'll be good for him. And I promise you, if he wants to be, he will be President someday."

People in Bill Clinton's life have always expected him to succeed -- and, more than that, they wanted him to succeed. And meeting those expectations took more than charm and intellect -- it took hard work and drive and determination and optimism. And after all, you've got to be optimistic to give six months of your life running the McGovern campaign in Texas. (Laughter and applause.)

Certainly not something you see everyday.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SCOTUS: Newdow doesn't have standing

By Jim Dallas

A lot of people on other blogs are carping about the apparent loss in the Pledge of Allegiance case, Newdow v. Elk Grove. The court decided by an 8-1 margin that Michael Newdow, the California atheist, couldn't sue on behalf of his daughter because of ambiguities stemming out of a custody suit between himself and his ex-wife.

In short, the case was thrown out on a technicality. Some people see this as a dodge by the court and a de facto defeat for the seperation of church and state. On the other hand, I think this was probably a politically deft move by a court which has lost the faith of many Americans, a court that desperately needs to build a consensus in order to do the right thing.

Now, not being a lawyer (nor even a first year law student, yet, although August 23rd is coming up mighty fast!), my opinion means very little here. But I actually think this outcome is better for the country and for the judiciary.

At any rate, I have argued elsewhere that I think the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance - represents an unconstitutional establishment of religion, regardless of whether students are forced to say it or not. (If the Congress declared that attendance at First Baptist Church was an essential part of being a good American - suppose they rewrote the pledge to say "One nation, which attends First Baptist Church, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" - such declaration would still be unconstitutional even if they didn't actually do anything to get people to go to First Baptist, right? "Under God" simply being a tad less specific on the time, place, and manner of woeship than "First Baptist Church.")

But the political backlash for doing the right thing would be overwhelming.

And hey, look at it this way. If the court really wanted to screw us over, they wouldn't have dodged the issue; they'd have taken it up and then ruled against Newdow. My gut tells me the majority on the court knows what they have to do, they're just taking their merry time in doing it.

UPDATE: Bloomberg informs us that the majority opinion was written by Justice Stevens, who seems to have been in cahoots with Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer. Kennedy, I suspect, probably would have been a swing-vote for Newdow given previous statements he has made on other cases involving "ceremonial deism," such as the football and graduation cases (can't remember the parties involved, sorry). That's five votes.

Scalia didn't participate, since he shot his mouth off and had to recuse himself. Ouch.

So, my guess here is that we were headed towards another 4-4 train wreck with Kennedy unable to come to a real decision; wanting to avoid a defeat more than gain a victory, the four liberal justices probably made the offer to punt the issue. Again, I suspect what you're seeing here is the Stevens-Ginsburg-Breyer-Souter block in the drivers' seat.

All just random speculation on my part though. Take with a boulder-sized grain of salt.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Democratic Senators Push Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

John Edwards won't deliver the South to John Kerry, in fact it's likely that John Edwards might not be able to deliver his homestate to the ticket even if he were the Vice Presidential candidate. However, with five open Democratic Senate seats in the south (and one open GOP seat in the region), Edwards would be an asset to Democratic Senate candidates trying to hold those seats. Thus there's little surprise, especially now with talks of a Kerry / McCain ticket finally put to rest, that Senate Democrats are seriously talking up John Edwards for Vice President:

Democratic senators and Senate candidates are pressing John Kerry to name one of their own, John Edwards of North Carolina, as his running mate, in part because they believe Mr. Edwards would help Democrats in five tossup races in the South and give the party a fighting chance to recapture control of the Senate.

The Democratic senators, from the South as well as from other parts of the country, say the choice of Mr. Edwards would allow candidates in North and South Carolina, Oklahoma and Louisiana to openly associate themselves with a national ticket that they have mainly avoided. Beyond that, they say, Mr. Edwards would be a strong candidate elsewhere in the nation.

Their urgings take on even more weight as Mr. Kerry redoubles his efforts to choose a running mate before the Democratic convention late next month, following Senator John McCain's clear rejection of Mr. Kerry's entreaties to consider joining him on the ticket.

"Edwards is from the South and speaks Southern, and I think would be helpful to the candidates in that regard," Senator John B. Breaux of Louisiana said. "I think he can campaign well in the South, and I think the candidates would be proud to stand with him when he comes down there."

In North Carolina, the Democrat who is running to succeed Mr. Edwards was even more blunt about his desire that Mr. Edwards be named to the ticket.

"I've had lots of people who are close to Kerry ask me, and I've always been very candid: he'd be nuts not to pick him," said the candidate, Erskine Bowles, a Charlotte investment banker and former White House chief of staff.


Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, whom Mr. Kerry considers one of his closest friends in the Senate, said he had talked up Mr. Edwards to James A. Johnson, the veteran Democratic operative who is directing Mr. Kerry's selection process.


Senator Byron L. Dorgan, also of North Dakota, said he had made the same point to Mr. Kerry. "His appeal goes beyond the South," he said of Mr. Edwards. "He's Southern, but he's also centrist, he's charismatic and I think he'd add a lot of spark to this ticket."


Mr. John said Mr. Edwards would bring geographic balance, and then some, to a ticket headed by Mr. Kerry, who is from Massachusetts. "It certainly would be helpful in Louisiana, for the mere fact that it's a state where we're looking for some excitement. Edwards would bring some excitement," he said.

Mr. Carson also said he favored a Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Practically all of our Democratic Senate candidates in the south want John Edwards on the ticket. I know he'd be good for the ticket in Texas. While Kerry won't carry Texas, putting Edwards on the ticket would likely cause many Texans to take a second look at John Kerry and the Democratic ticket. He's my first choice.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:02 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Diplomats and Military Officers For Kerry

By Byron LaMasters

Well, not officially, but they want Bush out. The AP reports:

Angered by Bush administration policies they contend endanger national security, 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers are urging Americans to vote President Bush out of office in November.

The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, does not explicitly endorse Democrat John Kerry for president in its campaign, which will start officially Wednesday at a Washington news conference.

The Bush-Cheney campaign said Sunday it would have no response until the group formally issues its statement at the news conference.

Among the group are 20 ambassadors, appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, other former State Department officials and military leaders whose careers span three decades.

Prominent members include retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East during the administration of Bush's father; retired Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., ambassador to Britain under President Clinton and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan; and Jack F. Matlock Jr., a member of the National Security Council under Reagan and ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

"We agreed that we had just lost confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to advocate for American interests or to provide the kind of leadership that we think is essential," said William C. Harrop, the first President Bush's ambassador to Israel, and earlier to four African countries.

"The group does not endorse Kerry, although it more or less goes without saying in the statement," Harrop said Sunday in a telephone interview.


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

National Delegate Race

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have probably promised Byron 5 times this past week that I would write a post about the state of the National Delegate Race in my District (24). So here it is, at 4:20 in the morning!

First off, so you have a handle of the district, here is map of SD 24 in .pdf format. The Senate District is anchored by Bell County (Temple, Killeen) and Taylor County (Abilene). It goes all the way south to Kerrville/Fredericksburg. The district is huge: 21 counties; but half of the delegates come from just two of those (Bell- 51, and Taylor-24) There are only about 140 odd delegates total.

As for my race to be the Kerry Male National Delegate. Fortunate for me, there are only 7 people officially filed. Me, down in Gillespie County, the Clark State Organizer, Bob Gammage in Llano (though he's running for an at large spot as far as I know), and 5 people from Abilene.

Most of them are Clark people, which is not surprising. There is only young challenger to me from Abilene and he is the only one I have seen mail-outs from. So that's my main opponent (deamed by me). Slight problem in his letter though, he didn't actually mention what he was running for and didn't officially ask for anyone vote.

I had the first piece of mail out to the delegates. In addition, e-mails were sent about every 4 days from myself. They included the endorsement of Young Texas County Chair Vince L. from Van de Zandt County, and my own County Chair. All of these pointed back to my campaign website at www.musselmanforamerica.com. (I'd also appreciate any donations if you want to send some my way.)

Just the other day, I called a lot of the smaller counties in the district as well as county chairs. I now have 8 of the 21 Chairs in my column pubicly, though I did not reach all of them. Postcards were sent out today to all delegates as well.

I do know that I have the full support of about 4 Hill Country delegations, which isn't much, but it's enough to offset Abilene. The big mystery prize in this race is Bell County. I've made friends with the County Chair, as well as their candidate to the SDEC. They don't have a dog in the race, so hopefully that will help.

So at this point I guess I'm the favorite in the race with the Abilene student being second.

Now, for the SDEC race... Bill Perkison from Bell County is challenging incumbant Jesse Martin. This past week saw some blistering letters come out on Jesse's behalf, one of which probably harmed him more than helped. Writing in support of Jesse were Jim Mattox (old friends), Clara Lou Sawyer (past SDEC Committeewomen) and past Burnet County Chair. Notice the "Past" in all of those. The current Burnet County Chair is for Perkison, as is the entire delegations of Gillespie and Kerr and I know others as well. Even half of Taylor County is for Perkison I'm told and with that, he should have more than enough votes to take our Mr. Martin.

Part of the reason for this is style and professionalism, both of which Perkison has more of than Jesse in this round. That, and the fact that the small counties felt ignored by Mr. Martin, and Bell County has 51 delegates and has the muscle to change things if they please.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 13, 2004


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

As many of you know, I cared a lot about the Democratic Primary. Maybe too much. But that's my nature. Once I find an issue, I tend to stick with it until there is nothing more that I can do, or another thing comes along.

So the other day I read an interview with Howard Dean about his thoughts about the past year. (Is it so wrong to cry?)

It just reminded me how much I really respected the guy. Yeah, he went a little nuts. And I'm sure if he was the nominee right now he'd still be getting hammered. But reading that interview and the comments people left reminded me of the good times and why it was all worth it.

And I hope that someday, we will be ready for that again. So for all you Dean fans out there, do yourself a favor and read it all the way through. And a comment from Fran Vincent, Austin organizer and candidate for SDEC from SD14... There's a reason this man has all of our hearts. It's because he speaks from his.

(The best clips are in the extended entry...)

One of Howard Dean's most poignant memories of his presidential campaign is of a woman in a wheelchair who gave him $50 in quarters at a breakfast meeting in Iowa last summer. The money came from her federal supplemental income check.

"Even now I can hardly tell that story," says Dean, his voice choking in a rare display of emotion. "She said she had been saving the quarters for two years, when she could, for something that was really important - and this was really important to her."

Dean is in awe of his rise. He is accepting of his fall. He readily concedes he made mistakes. He has difficulty, though, coming to grips with the sacrifices and trust of his legions of devoted supporters.

"I am pretty overwhelmed," he says and pauses as his eyes brim with tears.


As this year opened, the nomination was his to lose, and lose it he did.

Asked why, Dean quickly and almost dispassionately ticks off three reasons:

"I think Kerry pulled himself together to do a good job in Iowa and he should be given credit for it," he said. "Secondly, we peaked too early, and gave everybody an opportunity to go after us. We knew that whoever won Iowa was going to win the whole thing and we just peaked too early, and there was not much we could do about it.

"Third of all, because I started out from so far behind, we never really had the money, and then we didn't have the time, to build the kind of infrastructure you need to sustain you through a campaign the whole way."


Much has been written in the past few months speculating on who and what is to blame for his dramatic fall. Dean dismisses it all. "I take full responsibility for not winning the campaign," he said. (*tear)

"The reason I don't like all the kiss and tell stuff is there is no need to fight about whose fault this was. I will take all the blame. I oversaw those decisions and I accepted them and I approved them."


He thinks often, though, of the people who worked for him, who supported him, who contributed to his campaign and who saw in him a reason to get involved in politics.

"I was astonished by the response of the public - by their enormous enthusiasm. You have no idea what people did for us. I certainly didn't. People would work 16 hours a day on top of their job, 60 hours a week on top of their jobs. People quit their jobs. Look at the kids. They just drove to Burlington. It was just shocking to me. I never thought anything like that was going to happen," he said.


Gone are the chartered planes and the entourage. No press plane. No aides. Just Howard Dean.

"I think if I had dropped out of the race on February 18 and said that was that, that would have been a terrible thing to do," he said, his voice breaking once again.

"Because it would have just been about me - and it never was."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 12, 2004

So what if they're compatible? Parking meters are COMMUNISM!

By Jim Dallas

Kuff thinks this is "hokey":

The new Texas quarters are the same size as the quarters made for other states.

"I suppose," reasoned a U.S. Mint spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., "when people go to use them in parking meters and vending machines, we'd get a lot of complaints if they were bigger."

I guess it's good to know that the crack team of quarterologists at the U.S. Mint are making our coins all the same weight and size....

But that still doesn't mean that the Texas quarters aren't certifiably better than the other ones.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Another fine Bush Republican

By Jim Dallas

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

It Can't Get Any Closer:: In an unofficial tally of the Republican congressional primary in New Jersey's First District, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that salesman John Cusack leads lawyer Daniel Hutchison by a single vote: 4,170 to 4,169. The eventual nominee will move on to challenge powerful Democratic incumbent Rep. Robert E. Andrews in this heavily Democratic district.

Still the close race hasn't dampened the Republican challengers' hopes. Said Cusack: "I'm ahead by one vote. I'm taking that as a mandate from the people."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters


Lottery mania has ticket sales moving at 1,116,780 an hour

Well, $100 Million would be nice. Then again, the odds are 1 in 47 million. Let's do the math, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Another Reason to Pick Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

Kerry / Edwards wins:

The AP-Ipsos poll of 788 registered voters was conducted Monday to Wednesday. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. For the responses of subgroups, it was slightly larger: 5 percentage points for Democrats, 5.5 percentage points for Republicans.

In hypothetical matchups against the GOP ticket:

_Kerry-Edwards had 47 percent to 44 percent for Bush-Cheney.

_Bush-Cheney had 47 percent to 45 percent for Kerry-Gephardt.

_Bush-Cheney had 47 percent to 43 percent for Kerry-Vilsack and for Kerry-Clark.

It does look like Kerry / McCain is out of the question - something that I think is a good thing. On paper, Kerry / McCain seems to be unbeatable. In practice, as I've mentioned before, bipartisan unity tickets have been absolute disasters. 1840 - The Whigs get William Henry Harrison elected, but he dies after a month in office and John Tyler vetoes most of Whig legislative agenda. 1864 - Andrew Johnson replaced Abraham Lincoln after he is assassinated and refuses to cooperate with Republicans in Congress on Reconstruction until he is impeached and nearly removed from office. Do I think that a Kerry / McCain presidency would be as disasterous? Not at all, but the historical precendent for such a ticket is not promising.

I'm still a fan of Edwards. I voted for John Edwards in the primary, because I wanted to send a message that he ought to be selected as Kerry's running mate.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Reagan and AIDS #2

By Byron LaMasters

Why does the gay media still publish Larry Kramer? Yeah, he's a longtime AIDS activist who was instrumental in raising awareness for AIDS in the 1980s through ACTUP and other means, but he's angry, bitter and gets hysterical in his analysis of Reagan. It's not worth reading. Kramer compares Reagan to Hitler in paragraphs one through three. The next two paragraphs focus on Reagan's hating of gay people and his son. Then Kramer blames the entire AIDS epidemic on Reagan and blames Reagan for all AIDS deaths. Good God. Kramer acts like were still in the early 1980s when extreme means were necessary to raise public awareness about AIDS. Now, Kramer's rhetoric only serves to marginalize legitimate criticisms of Reagan's AIDS policy, or lack thereof (see below).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reagon and AIDS

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's not everyday that BOR finds a good reason to link to Andrew Sullivan...

REAGAN AND AIDS: Sorry to continue about this, but I just got sent the following transcript of a press conference by Larry Speakes, presidential spokesman, on October 15, 1982. It speaks for itself:

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
Q: No, I don't.
MR. SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.
Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President ...
MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.
Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there's been any ...
Q: Nobody knows?
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping ...
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he's had no - (laughter) - no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
Q: The President doesn't have gay plague, is that what you're saying or what?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn't say that.
Q: Didn't say that?
MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn't you stay there? (Laughter.)
Q: Because I love you Larry, that's why (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don't put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
Q: Oh, I retract that.
MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.
Q: It's too late.

Nothing I could write could be more damning than this, could it?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Karl-Thomas Musselman


We're looking for an unpaid summer intern who has an interest in learning more about issues affecting the City of Austin. The intern will assist the Council Member's two aides. Some responsibilities include, but are not limited to, data entry, reviewing neighborhood newsletters and updating staff on key issues, administrative duties, constituent work. We strive to create an educational environment for interns by encouraging them to attend events with Council Member McCracken, inviting them to participate in meetings and discussions and teaching them about current events. If you or someone you know are interested in working with the newest council member in Austin, email your resume to

Karen Gross
Policy Director
Office of Council Member Brewster McCracken

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I wonder who he was talking about...

By Byron LaMasters

When Ron Reagan Jr. said this earlier today:

Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.

Update: More thoughts on Washington Monthly.

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

So, Mr. Limbaugh....

By Byron LaMasters

Which one of your three marriages is the Federal Marriage Amendment defending?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Blogger Caucus

By Byron LaMasters

Texas Democratic Convention
Houston, Texas.
Friday, June 18th.
1pm - 3pm.
Kaveh Kanes Coffeehouse
The Blogger Caucus!

Be there. You know where I'll be...

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

Spammer Alert

By Byron LaMasters

Upon checking the blog this morning, I realized that BOR just suffered the worst Spam attack ever. We had several hundred spam messages (246 to be exact) from this IP Address:

So, add that to your banned list. Making things more difficult was the number of websites that this spammer linked to. Usually they'll just plug in a few different links, so it's easy to kill them off by adding them into MT-Blacklist, but this guy was good. I got spam this morning from the following addresses:

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Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

A Capitol Romance

By Byron LaMasters

Well this is certainly interesting. Stephanie Herseth has been in Washington D.C. just over a week and it looks like she's already found herself a man - from Texas. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports:

Now that Democrat Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota has won a special election and been sworn in as the state's congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Marshall, can say he is enjoying a congressional romance.

Sandlin, who is divorced, and Herseth, who is single, were together often in Austin last summer during the redistricting saga. And Sandlin helped raise money for her congressional race.

This is not Sandlin's first high-profile political romance. He dated Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and chief of staff to Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass.

Roll Call reported the news today as well in the "Heard on the Hill" column. Here's part of it:

Sorry, guys. The newest, most eligible bachelorette in Congress appears to be off the market.
Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D), who just won the special South Dakota election, had a boyfriend waiting for her on Capitol Hill when she arrived last week.

He’s Democratic Rep. Max Sandlin, a four-term Texan.

The couple met during Herseth’s failed 2002 election bid against then-Rep. Bill Janklow (R-S.D.), who recently was released from prison for his second-degree manslaughter conviction. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has its own version of a “big buddy” program, appointed Sandlin to be Herseth’s mentor during that campaign.

Maybe the DCCC should have a match-making business on the side?

“Representative Herseth and Representative Sandlin met during the last election cycle. They remained friends after the 2002 election and have had a relationship for approximately a year,” her spokesman, Russ Levsen, told HOH.

Sandlin, who is divorced with four children, also worked hard to campaign and raise money for his girlfriend during her winning campaign against GOP state Sen. Larry Diedrich in the June 1 special election.

He said having just arrived in Washington, the new Congresswoman has not found permanent housing yet. For now, he said, she’s staying at the Capitol Suites.

But Herseth, 33, and Sandlin, 52, were seen Wednesday morning in front of Sandlin’s apartment building near D and First streets Southeast.

Cool. Let's keep the latest capitol couple in Washington D.C.

Donate to Max Sandlin.

Donate to Stephanie Herseth.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:41 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Well, Shit...

By Byron LaMasters

A friend of mine called me this afternoon saying that she no longer had a job, because the candidate that she was working for dropped out of the race. That's not cool at all - the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire (granted, he was a longshot), has dropped out. Politics NH reports:

State Sen. Burt Cohen (D-New Castle) is ending his bid for the U.S. Senate just one day before the period for candidates for that office to sign up ends.

"Burt Cohen will not be filing for the U.S. Senate," Cohen spokeswoman Meghan Scott said. "There is a situation with the campaign and we thought that it would be unfair to the [Democratic] party to continue."

Cohen, a seven-term state senator, began his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-Rye) 18 months ago. He officially kicked off his campaign at a Manchester rally last Wednesday.

Because Cohen was the only Democrat in the race, his departure has put state Democrats in a scramble to find a candidate in less than 24 hours.

Cohen let the party know of his decision late mid-afternoon on Thursday.

State Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan is reportly working the phone to find a candidate. There is an informal list of four names rumored to be called.

I would have posted on this when I heard the news at 6 PM CST yesterday if I had computer access, but kos got to the story yesterday evening. Anyway, my friend lost her job, and she's looking for a campaign job that is hiring in Texas for the summer, so if you know anyone that is hiring, let us know!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I wrote this as my opinion on today's failure in online democracy over at Daily Kos.

I don't get what some people here are saying.

The same community that freaks out over verified voting, that thinks the Republican Party stands for the opposite of Democracy, and thinks that voting in elections is the most basic part of good government suddenly has no problem with an election that has accusations of voter fraud, no paper trail, and shut people out of voting because the system crashed?

How can we stand for that? What about something called credibility?

Call a new election simply for the sake of Democracy.

Personally, I don't think results for this election should be available while voting. I also think that the election should be announced in advance for those people who don't check daily kos every 4 hours to see if the poll is up.

What would our outcry be if special elections were help at a momments whim?

I don't care about the outcome of this election. I care about the integrity of the process. Let's get it right, not settle for anything less. It won't hurt, I promise.

For a website that gets 100,000s of visitors a day, I don't feel comforatble letting just the first 1,800 voters votes that actually made it in decide an election. I don't care what the margin. Would we feel fine letting early votes decide election? If we were, more Republicans would win since they vote early more often than not.

Come On. Can we try not to be a laughingstock of the Right online?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 10, 2004

A One-Way Bus Ticket from DC to Crawford

By Jim Dallas

It's truly amazing how much money is being raised for John Kerry by Democratic bloggers. Atrios is closing in on $200,000 and DailyKOS has over $63,000 contributions. We're not quite up there, yet (I seem to remember Byron quoting me a total of a few hundred dollars). All told, I would expect that the entire blogosphere will raise millions by the end of this election cycle. That's a lot of turkee.

An Atrios Eschaton commenter noted that his contribution was $128 -- which he purports is the cost of a one-way bus fare from Washington DC to Crawford, Texas. I couldn't find such a rate on the Greyhound Web site (although I did see a quote of $149 for Washington to Waco, which is kinda near Crawford). Maybe $128 is some sort of special (hopefully it's one of those "friends come free" deals so we can send Dubya and Dick Cheney away together.)

If you can spare it (and $128, or $149, is a lot of money), consider donating to John Kerry. Help us send President Bush back to Texas.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

As Duly Appointed Representative of the Great Unwashed(TM)...

By Jim Dallas

I tried defending KOS's honor over at Greg's Opinion, who's getting a big kick out out of a (temporarily) failed experiment in KOS-style democracy.

(Sometimes Greg's Opinion ("Go to heck, damned hippies, and take your love beads and your Howard Dean buttons with you!") can be kind of square-ish, although we love him anyway. )

Not only did I pull a Bushism (yes, Homer, it's cross the t's and dot the i's), I managed to post it three times. Accidentally.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I went to Sea Island, Georgia once...

By Jim Dallas

Does that count as insightful news analysis of the G-8 Summit?

Wonkette has more. I completely agree.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Can I Say Now?

By Jim Dallas

Singer and entertainer Ray Charles dead at 73.

DailyKOS user Dan Torres suggests putting Ray Charles on the $10 bill. I wholeheartedly agree.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Zig-Zag Zell

By Byron LaMasters

The Hill notes that he might make an appearance at the GOP convention so that Republicans can gloat about the supposed bipartisan support that George W. Bush has for his reelection. Very well, we'll bring Jim Jeffords to our convention:

Some Republicans are hoping that sharp-tongued Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia will appear at the GOP’s national political convention this summer.

“It would be great if he could be there,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). “Zell Miller is a Harry Truman kind of Democrat. He tells it like it is. He’s plain-spoken. He doesn’t mince words. He’s the person he is, and a patriotic American.”

An appearance by Miller would help President Bush try to re-establish his bipartisan credentials at a time when he has lost his polling edge on such issues as education and the economy.

The centrist Democrat has aided the GOP’s political goals since he was appointed in 2000 to fill the term of the late Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.). Miller provided a critical stamp of bipartisanship to President Bush’s tax cuts.

More recently, Miller has expressed a willingness to assist Bush’s re-election, “if there’s any way that I can help him,” and has delivered scathing remarks about Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) at public events.

Meanwhile, Democrats are lining up the nation’s most prominent independent officeholder — Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.) — to attend their convention.

Centrist Democrat? Zell is the most conservative "Democrat" in the Senate. Forget about the Jon Kyl, "Miller is a Truman kind of Democrat". Zell Miller is a Republican kind of Democrat, who ought to make it official.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 09, 2004

Statesman to Cornyn: Don't Mess with the Constitution

By Byron LaMasters

John Cornyn must think that he's Orrin Hatch. Hatch has supported amending the U.S. Constitution 67 times during his senate career. Cornyn isn't there yet, but he just might catch up in a few years. Cornyn currently supports five amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The five are the Federal Marriage Amendment (Hate Amendment), a Flag Burnin Amendment, a "Continuity of Congress" amendment, a Victims Rights Amendment and a Balanced Budget Amendment. I have mixed feeling about a Balanced Budget Amendment and the Continuity of Congress Amendment, but strongly oppose the other three. Anyway, here's what the Statesman thinks about it:

The way he's working over the U.S. Constitution, John Cornyn must think he is in the Texas Senate instead of the one in Washington.

The U.S. Constitution has been amended just 17 times since 1791, and only five of those were adopted in the past 43 years. But Cornyn, elected as Texas' junior senator in 2002, is pushing five new amendments this year alone.

By contrast, the Texas Constitution is the nation's longest and has been amended more than 400 times. Obviously, the Texas Constitution is not held in the same esteem or with the same reverence as the nation's founding legal document.

Worse, Cornyn is trying to add some seriously divisive issues into this sacred script. He wants to make burning the America flag a crime, to ban gay marriage and to allow appointment of new members to Congress if it is decimated by a terrorist attack.

Cornyn argues that adding these and other issues to the Constitution is necessary because activist judges have perverted the law to suit their personal and political agendas. But in pushing amendments that don't rise to constitutional stature, Cornyn is doing the same thing.

His flag burning amendment is a perfect example. The flag represents all political parties and points of view, all economic strata, all those who support and all those who protest government policies. Yet, Cornyn wants to make political points by limiting the freedom to use the flag in protest.

The gay marriage amendment is no different. Texas and 37 other states already ban gay marriage, a matter that should be left to the states. Adding a culturally volatile issue such as gay marriage to the founding document changes its very nature and depreciates its value.


Playing politics with the Constitution is an affront to its history and its majesty. Cornyn, who had a moderate record on the Texas Supreme Court and as the state's attorney general, should understand that. His words and actions on this matter have been disappointing.

Cornyn is running the risk of turning the historic U.S. Constitution into a party treatise, and diminishing it in the process. Thankfully, the document Cornyn wants to change so radically has some built-in protection against those who would mangle it.

Amending the Constitution requires two-thirds approval by both the House and the Senate, and ratification by 38 states. Cornyn may not have the 67 Senate votes he needs to get these divisive issues moving.

It's good that the Statesman is taking notice. It's easy to ignore seemingly small issues such as Constitutional Amendments, but they're a big deal, and it's important to stay on guard against these folks.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:27 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Texans are Smart

By Byron LaMasters

Texas may be screwed up. Our governor wants to finance our schools with a tax on strip clubs and cigarrettes, and our legislature cuts thousands of poor children off health insurance, but Texans are smart when it comes to playing the Lotto. In fact, we're smarter than New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Of the eleven states that participate in the Mega-Millions lottery, Texas ranks tenth in amount spent per capita on the Mega-Millions lottery. The Houston Chronicle reports on a study done by Alamo Community College in San Antonio:

Picture a stack of copy machine paper 8.5 miles high. On one -- just one -- of those sheets of paper is a set of winning numbers.

Now imagine how difficult it would be to pick that one page out of the stack on a single try. That's what it's like trying to win the 11-state Mega Millions lottery game, whose top prize carries the staggering odds of 1 in 135 million.

So goes the lesson taught to statistics classes at Alamo Community College, where some students have become so fascinated with lottery odds -- and the public's relentless attempts to defy them -- they've developed a lottery-intelligence quotient called "Mega-Q" to show which Mega Million states have the wisest players.

Their conclusion: Texans are among the smartest because they spend the least per capita. But rather than deliver their finding as a cold statistic, they came up with "Mega-Q" to give it more impact.

Good to hear. I've never bought a Mega Millions ticket, because well, what's the point? I've bought a Texas Lotto ticket every now and then for the hell of it, but even that is pretty rare. Maybe Texans are just smart in playing the lottery, or maybe Texans are more inclined to play the Texas Lottery, because with Texas being a big state and all, our payouts are probably higher than most other states. The study could also be skewed by commuters from other states without Mega Millions buying tickets in New York and New Jersey. Even so, it's nice to see Texas rank well in some category, since it doesn't happen very often.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No Family Feud Election in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Charlie Gonzalez's former wife, Becky Whetstone has failed to make it on the November ballot as an Independent for Congressional District 20:

Despite months of campaigning and an apparently intense desire to run against her former husband, Becky Whetstone was unable to garner enough signatures to make the ballot as an independent candidate in Congressional District 20.

Whetstone, a former San Antonio Express-News columnist, needed 500 qualified signatures to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.

She fell short by 47 signatures, according to officials with the Texas secretary of state's office."I'm disappointed that I will not be able to offer voters of the 20th district a choice in this election," Whetstone said in a written statement.


Gonzalez has represented the Bexar County district since 1998, following in the footsteps of his father, the late U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez.Whetstone and the congressman married in May 1998 and divorced in October 2003 after bitter struggles over money.

Today, Gonzalez said the signature verification process upheld the "integrity of the election process."

I suppose this is good news for Gonzalez, even though he has little to worry about in his district. Still, a little family drama would have been interesting to watch.

Via the Free State Standard.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nota Bene (or, Jim's worst blog joke ever)

By Jim Dallas

I was a little worried when I saw the headline "CCR to sue Iraq mercenary outfits" from Daily KOS float by on KNewsTicker (one of the cool things in KDE 3.2 is this little applet, which pulls RSS/Atom news feeds from blogs and displays them on your toolbar). After all, would CCR really be up to the task? And would they be laughed out of court as "hippies"?

Then I read the story and breathed a sigh of relief.

Apparently,Creedence Clearwater Revival is not suing; the suit will be filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a competent and hard-working group of lawyers fighting for our rights.

Which is a good thing.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 08, 2004

Strange Days in South Carolina

By Jim Dallas

South Carolina primary results, short version.

It'll be Beasley and DeMint in the SC GOP Senate runoff. Whoever wins will be bloodied and vulnerable. Inez Tenenbaum cruised to victory in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, the Republican Speaker of the House was defeated 51-48 by a political neophyte in his primary. Not something you see every day!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Three-For-One Special

By Jim Dallas

Zell Miller, taxes, and religion. Oh my!

Don't get the wrong impression. Just because I'm romanticizing the South (just this once!), ranting about taxes (I rarely do it!), and not in complete agreement with the ACLU (just this once!) doesn't mean I've suddenly gone over to the Dark Side. I promise! Really!

I also quote a lot from the L.A. Times, so obviously I am a liberal.

1. I'm inclined to sympathize with Zell Miller. Just this once.

2. Surely we can do better than the federal income tax?!?

3. A few words about the Pledge and the L.A. case (or, sometimes I'm with the ACLU, and sometimes I'm not.)


I've said lots of nasty things about Zell Miller here, and here. I stand by my previous assertioon that "I wish Senator Miller didn't have a driving need to make himself the bête noire of Democrats generally and Southern Democrats specifically." Herein is a fuller exposition of that theme.

The L.A. Times has a profile of ZigZag Zell today, which, among other things, profiles why Sen. Miller - one of President Bush's most outspoken (and increasingly obnoxious) supporters - would remain a Democrat:

Growing up in the mountains of northern Georgia, one of the few places in the South with a genuine two-party system back then, partisanship was more than just something a person thought about on election day. Democrats shopped at the Democrat-owned filling station, bought their groceries from a Democratic grocer and were expected to date and marry only members of their own party. Same for the Republicans, going all the way back to the Civil War. "When I meet my maker," the senator says, "I fully expect my mama and daddy to be somewhere close around. And I want to be able to look at them and say, 'Hey, I stayed a Democrat.' "

My grandma and grandpa, both Democrats in northeast Tennessee (which was GOP before the GOP was cool), have been a tremendous influence on my political worldview, and shared many of the same experiences in life that Miller did.

And somewhere along the line I picked up a strong sense of nostalgia for the "old days," albeit not of the same sort of magnitude that seems to animate Zell Miller these days.

Here's what the history books say (and if it looks like I'm cutting selectively, I am, since nostalgia is inherently a selective and biased reading of history):

There was plenty to stimulate their efforts. Regional, ethnoreligious, and economic fault lines ran throughout American society, dividing Democrats from Whigs... What distinguished the parties were their cultural and ideological perspectives. Democrats tended to be drawn from the "outsider" groups in Anglo-Saxon society: the Scots-Irish, Presbyterians, and other nonconforming religious and ethnic groups, who had long been in conflict with the dominant groups in the British Isles. They feared a powerful government and were hostile to the aggressive commercialism of the dominant Anglo-Saxons.

All this gave the Democrats the air of an egalitarian party challenging the nation's ruling elite. The role played by the party's leader, Andrew Jackson, in these efforts differed from earlier ideas of political leadership. He conveyed, by words and deeds, a few simple truths about republican purity and democratic striving and served as the symbol of a Democratic crusade against greed, unfairness, and the domination of a manipulative elite.

And so I look back on this, I gotta ask: ain't these my roots? Ain't these my values? Even through the lens of 150 years of change-for-the-better, and the knowledge that a lot of these roots went rotten with the scourge of racism, hatred, and ignorance, there is still, in this, a strong and powerful bond between their past with my present.

(The history books also say this about the origins of the GOP, which may or may not still be relevant post-Nixon... I'll let you, dear reader, ponder that.)

...A new Republican party shrewdly played on the nativism and antisouthern sentiment to build a movement to resist southern and Catholic "assaults" on the American nation.

It's a universal human desire to want to have an ethnic and cultural identity (see the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 8). It is also worth noting, however, that no romanticizing of the past can make up for past or current moral failings, on either the individual or cultural level. Therfore, it is often necessary to honor the spirit of the past by breaking with those tenets (in this case, most obviously Jim Crow) that contravene contemporary standards of morality and public honor.

(Accordingly, I have no intent to be an apologist for the Dixiecrats or the Confederacy, even if history will specify that as "our" heritage. Confederate flag activists and David Duke make me ill; reason, compassion, and pride ought to animate and inspire people to make the future better than the past.)

Back to the topic. I don't happen to think Zell Miller is (particularly) a vehement racist, statements made years ago (see Carvllle and Begala, Buck Up, Suck Up) notwithstanding.


"In the 1970s, '80s and '90s, nobody labored in the vineyards of the Democratic Party as consistently and loyally, from the national level to the state level, as Zell Miller," said Keith Mason, who served 10 years ago as staff chief to then-Gov. Miller and still regards him with great affection and appreciation. "That's why so many Democrats were surprised when he suddenly and consistently supported the president." Bobby Kahn, the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, put it more succinctly: "Something went bad wrong."


Why Miller chooses to ventilate that anger against his party is a puzzlement to a great many observers. Some plumb for psychological reasons, saying he craves the attention, or wants to get back at those Democrats who talked him out of his contented retirement. Some say Miller has given voice to a sentiment a lot of Democrats feel ? that the party needs to focus more on the kitchen-table concerns of average Americans ? but taken the argument to a reckless extreme. "He's gone from the guy who'd like to see his party changed and turned into the guy who'd like to see his party abolished," said James Carville, the Democratic strategist who helped make Miller governor then, at his behest, helped get Clinton elected president.

Worse perhaps, many Democrats simply dismiss Miller as irrelevant. "If he wanted to get the attention of the party, there are a thousand ways to do that other than endorsing the Republican candidate for president and becoming their attack dog," said Ed Kilgore, who served as an aide to then-Gov. Miller and now directs policy for the centrist DLC. "This isn't having a dialogue with people. This is walking out of the room."

So I have a great deal of sympathy for Zell Miller when we talks about being a Democrat out of affection for the memory of Mama and Papa Miller, and all the Millers from the 1830s to the present day. And affection for the South. And what have you.

Upon serious consideration, I think it would be a mistake to kick Zell out of the party, as some people have suggested.

But I cannot stand, like so many other observers, the fact that he has proceded to go so completely off the reservation (I think Carville hits the nail on the head when he says "he's gone from the guy who'd like to see his party changed and turned into the guy who'd like to see his party abolished").


Grrr. I am really starting to hate the income tax. And I just got my tax refund check back, too.

Don't get me wrong; I still believe that the federal income tax is better than any major proposals floated by the Republicans recently. And a state income tax would work wonders for school finance in Texas.

But we're talking about comparing something utterly and completely mediocre with (a) GOP proposals which are, simply, crap and (b) the status quo in Texas, which (sad as it is to say), is crap. Sort of like when Sen. Inhofe compared prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib to prisoner abuse under Saddam Hussein. Excuse me if I cannot summon real enthusiasm for continuing on with a tax which is rapidly becoming the most complex, asinine joke ever told.

The fact of the matter is that any tax on income is going to ultimately require that we define "income." And over the course of the past four years, we've had the President and the Congress continue to whittle down this definition to "earnings from hard work", as inheritance, capital gains, and other forms of non-labor income have gotten exempted. To be fair, this is a proceess that began 75 years ago, but it's now getting outrageous. Coupled with regressive payroll taxes, it's actually the middle class that seems to be paying the highest marginal tax rates. This is bad.

We're getting to a point where we need to explore scrapping the federal income tax in its entirety, for there are more progressive and more common sensical ways to raise revenue.

The Decembrist blogs on a progressive consumption tax. Specifically, he notes a proposal from the New America Foundation that proposes a tax on the amount of money you spend each year (your income minus your net savings). The NAF proposal drew remarks from TNR's Noam Scheiber Kevin Drum and Max Sawicky. A more workable solution might be a modified Value-Added Tax. (Also here, , and here for a different opinion).

Of course, we could also just tax the Almighty Taco, as the Bexar County GOP head recently proposed:

With the dilemma of school finance still unresolved, Bexar County GOP Chairman Richard Langlois proposed a unique solution to the problem: Tax a taco.

"The whole state has tacos, but we have the best," Langlois said. "We could fund the entire state."

A few words on the ACLU

Uggh. The ACLU is embarassing itself over a barely-visible crucifix on the Los Angeles (Calif.) county seal. In case you haven't heard Bill O'Reilly screaming his lungs out about this, take a gander at this editorial right here. The ACLU threatened hell if the county supervisors didn't remove a cross which represents the historical significance of Spanish missionaries founding the city of Los Angeles. Hmm... Los Angeles. Maybe the ACLU will sue LA for pushing angels on us next?

Why can't the ACLU stick to legitimate complaints like the transparently establishmentarian language in the Pledge of Allegiance? Although I doubt the SCOTUS will agree with Michael Newdow, they ought to.

A coherent theory of the Establishment Clause has to rest upon the intent and effect of the alleged slight.

In the LA case, it is pretty obvious that this is simply a recognition of the history of the city and county of Los Angeles. The cross is a convenient way to symbolize a significant part of the region's history, which cannot really be disputed.

It's pretty clear to me also that "under God" in the pledge was added both to assert the supposed religosity of Americans (in contrast to the godless commies). For the Congress to make a claim about the religious character of America in the official Pledge of Allegiance suggests a pretty strong normative, religious claim. Those that claim it is mere "ceremonial deism" are asserting that the Pledge of Allegiance does not mean what it says. That's not exactly comforting as defenses go.

Practics and common sense have whittled down the role of religion in government, which many 19th century Americans expected to be quite large (see Joseph Story's commentaries on the Constitution). Indeed, the role of religion is going to be (and should be) tiny in a liberal republic; but the logic which the ACLU is using in the LA case would whittle it completely out of existence and take out a good bit of freedom of speech as well. Kinda self-defeating if you ask me.

I wish the ACLU would pick their fights more carefully.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

More Good News with the House

By Byron LaMasters

The GOP redistricting plan in Colorado that was struck down by the Colorado Supreme Court last year has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. By a 6-3 vote, they refused to hear the case (4 votes are needed to hear it). Currently, Democrats have a shot at picking up as many as three seats in Colorado this year. The redistricting would have made it possible for Republicans to pick up a seat. The delegation is currently 5-2 GOP. Here's the NY Times article:

The battle over a new Congressional map for Colorado, one of the country's most closely watched redistricting cases, ended Monday in a Democratic victory at the Supreme Court. Falling one vote short, the justices refused to hear the Colorado Republicans' appeal of a state high court ruling that invalidated an unusual second redistricting plan the Republicans had pushed through the legislature in the closing days of its 2003 session.


In invalidating Colorado's new redistricting plan last December, the Colorado Supreme Court said it was relying completely on the state Constitution to conclude that Congressional redistricting could be conducted only once a decade. That decision meant that the district lines reverted to those drawn by a state court in early 2002, after the legislature failed to agree on how to draw new lines following the 2000 census, which gave Colorado a new Seventh District. Under that plan, Colorado Democrats say they have a good chance to pick up two seats.

In November 2002, Republicans gained control of the Colorado legislature. Over Democratic objections, they pushed through a new plan in the final days of the 2003 legislative session.

In drafting an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the Republicans' challenge - as it had been in Florida after the 2000 presidential election - was to find an issue of federal law to provide jurisdiction. In their appeal, Colorado General Assembly v. Salazar, No. 03-1082, they argued that the federal Constitution's "elections clause," giving state legislatures the power to make rules for Congressional elections, did not allow that power to be transferred to state courts. Consequently, they maintained, the court-ordered plan did not count, and the 2003 legislative plan should prevail.

The appeal evidently provoked a behind-the-scenes struggle among the justices, who considered it at five consecutive weekly conferences before turning it down on what was apparently a vote of 6 to 3, one short of the four necessary to hear a case. The majority offered no comment, and only the dissenters - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - identified themselves.

Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion, which the other two signed, was reminiscent of his opinion in Bush v. Gore, the Florida case that decided the 2000 election. He said the state court decision, "while purporting" to be based on state law, actually made a "debatable interpretation" of federal law in validating the initial court-ordered redistricting. The decision should be reviewed, he said.

You gotta love how conservatives like Rehnquist just love state's rights until the issue benefits Democrats. When Democrats benefit from state's rights (Bush v. Gore, Colorado General Assembly v. Salazar), conservatives seem to forget about state's rights and toe the party line. Such principle.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Keep More Than Austin Weird

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Keep Austin Weird. It's a wonderful slogan, and I like Austin being weird. It's refreshing in this age of sameness. So when I saw the following the other day, I just had to act. (Click on it for the full size image)

It gave me an oppertunity to finally upload my Snow Pictures from the Big Snowstorm of February 2003. Those include some, ahem, interesting ones as well as the more artistic. Remember these when you start sweating in July and August (and June and September and October and now and...)

So do you part and help send a little "Austin Weirdness" across the Atlantic to our friends the Brits.

In addition, you could always help out another 'weird' project (Geoff collecting 50 pences (or dollar value) to buy an iPod) that I have partaken in of which I was contributor 399. He's so close to 500 contributors and it would make me very happy to have some of our Burnt Orange readers finish it off. Go see it.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ben Barnes is Back

By Byron LaMasters

The rising star of the Texas Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s is back in the scene. Ben Barnes wants his state back, and he's not afraid to say it. The Austin Chronicle reports:

It's taken nearly three decades, but former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes is slowly re-emerging into Lone Star politics. The Democrat, despite never being charged with any crime, saw his rising political career killed in the 1970s by his closeness to players in the Sharpstown scandal. He's kept a relatively low profile since then, but the reign of George W. Bush and the Republican takeover of the Legislature has inspired him in recent months to speak out. Last week, he whipped members of Austin for Kerry into a frenzy at Mother Egan's Irish Pub.

"I'm damned mad about my state," Barnes told the 60 or so cheering Democrats on the pub's outdoor patio. "I love that Capitol. I served where we had the best highway system, higher education. ... We took the University of Texas and Texas A&M to where they were in the top five universities in the United States; we raised teachers' salaries where they came from 37th to 18th in the United States; we got in the top five states in mental health and mental retardation; we were working on plans to insure every single child in Texas, and today we're ranked 50th or 47th or 48th in almost all the areas of state responsibility. The only thing we rank number one in is prisons.

"That Capitol is occupied by people that don't love Texas," Barnes continued. "They're up there for their own selfish benefit and gain, and we've gotta take back Texas for the Democratic Party."

Barnes went on to lavish praise on John Kerry, saying that he initially told Kerry he couldn't support him but changed his mind after one round of golf with the now-presumptive Dem presidential nominee. He also disputed that a Republican chokehold on Texas is a foregone conclusion: "This is not a Republican state; Texas is a moderate conservative state." And, he says, one that will become winnable by Dems when people see that "no new taxes" and "scrubbing the budget" means, in Barnes' words, that "they've scrubbed the budget where 25% of the people in Texas don't have health insurance, they've scrubbed the budget where 500,000 kids right now have been taken off insurance."

After his speech, Barnes told the Chronicle why he never followed the exodus into the other party nor joined the many Texas Dems who backed Bush. "This is a failed administration. I think the polls reflect what the American people think. Who would have thought that George Bush, who was at an 82% positive rating in this country, is now down to 41%?

I've seen Ben Barnes at UT basketball games, but I've never actually met the guy. Even so, it's good to see him back in Texas politics. We need everyone we can get ahold of, and Ben Barnes is one of the folks that has stuck with the party through good times and bad, and he ought to be commended for his work.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Democratic Lawmaker to Serve in Afghanistan

By Byron LaMasters

Democratic State Rep. Rick Noriega (D-Houston), a member of the Texas Army National Guard has been called up to serve in Afghanistan. He will arrive there in September. The Austin American Statesman reports:

State Rep. Rick Noriega, a major in the Texas Army National Guard, said Monday he has been called into active military duty and will begin his deployment to Afghanistan next week.

Noriega, D-Houston, said he will go to Austin next week and from there will be sent to a stateside deployment site. He is set to arrive in Afghanistan sometime in August.

"I don't know how long I will be there," Noriega said Monday night from his home. He said he will be assisting with training soldiers in Afghanistan.

"I am being asked to augment a group of folks who are going to relieve a group of our Texas soldiers, who are already over there," the 46-year-old state legislator said. "This is what I signed up for. I am no different from anybody else that signed up to serve their country. If by me being deployed, it allows for some other soldiers to come home and be with their families, well, it is my turn at bat."

During his time overseas, Noriega said he will continue serving his constituents, updating his Web site and even polling Texas soldiers he encounters.

"I am still serving the district, just in a different manner," he said. "I have a lot of people from my district that are currently serving. I have three soldiers that have been killed in action. I think my district will understand I have been called to duty and I am still representing them."

I hope to hear from Rep. Noriega during our convention in two weeks. I think that he can offer a unique perspective on the war on terrorism as someone who will soon be sent to join the front lines.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vote Today in the ACC Run-off!

By Byron LaMasters

I was in Austin for the weekend, and I stayed until Monday morning so I could vote early in the run-off election for ACC (Austin Community College) Board. The choice is about as clear as it gets. The run-off is between Democrat Veronica Rivera and Republican Marc Levin. This is an election between a candidate that represents mainstream, Austin values and a candidate that has a history of supporting far right-wing candidates and organizations. Levin is an officer in the Young Conservatives of Texas - a right-wing conservative youth organization that has sponsored bake sales where people of different races are charged different amounts. Here's what the weekly Travis County Democratic Party email had to say about the race:

Austin Community College Board of Trustee Place 6 will go to a runoff election June 19th between Democrat Veronica Rivera and Republican Marc Levin. Even though these are “non-partisan” races, Marc Levin’s experience and background speak for themselves. He currently serves as vice president of the Texas Review Society, a non-profit organization that publishes far-right public policy newspapers and journals in Texas. He has served as president of the far-right Texas Federalist Society and as state vice chairman and general counsel for the Young Conservatives of Texas. The YCT website currently lists him as Director of Governmental Affairs. The Young Conservatives of Texas are known for outrageous stunts like “bake sales” on university campuses in which members charge women, African American and Hispanic customers lower prices for pastries to protest affirmative action programs.

Veronica Rivera is a strong Democrat and education is a passion for her. It is so important that we continue to elect progressive candidates in Travis County and Veronica Rivera is such a candidate.

I'd encourage all our Austin readers to check out Veronica Rivera's website to learn more about her candidacy. Here's the early voting sites:

ACC Highland Business Center- 5930 Middle Fiskville Rd.
Rio Grande Campus- 1212 Rio Grande
Northridge Campus- 11928 Stonehollow Dr.
Eastview Campus- 3401 Webberville Rd.
Riverside Campus- 1020 Grove Blvd.
Pinnacle Campus- 7748 Hwy 290 West
Cypress Creek Campus- 1555 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park

I voted at the Rio Grande campus (there's no early voting at the UGL at UT, as there usually is, so be sure to head on over to the ACC campus nearest to you and vote for a good Democrat, Veronica Rivera).

As a final thought, I would like to add that while I strongly disagree with Marc Levin's politics, he's a decent guy. I recall talking to him after our gay marriage debate at UT, and he commended me for the quality of my arguements - even if he may have disagreed with them. He also called me after the candidate that the University Democrats supported in the first round lost - Rodney Ahart. Levin asked if we'd consider not endorsing in the race. I wished him the best of luck, but that the fact that he is affiliated with an organization (YCT) that is so fundamentally opposed to so many of the values and principles in which I (and the UD's) support, I told him that I could not in good conscience not support, endorse and vote for his opponent, Veronica Rivera.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 07, 2004

Ronald Reagan

By Byron LaMasters

I was six years old when Ronald Reagan's second term ended, so on a personal level, I don't have any connection to Ronald Reagan than of the occasional news about his fight with Alzheimer's Disease. Nor do I have much affinity for his politics or ideology as I have studied them in history class, government class or on my own time. Having said that, I can respect the way that Reagan played the political game. I can respect Reagan as a man. And I respect his ability to comunicate an optimistic message to the American people in good times and bad. While I never would have voted for the man, Ronald Reagan helped give America the confidence in itself again, that we lost throughout Vietnam, Watergate and the Iran hostage crisis. In many ways 2004 is similar to 1980, and John Kerry subtly makes those observations in his press release on Saturday:

“Now, his own journey has ended-a long and storied trip that spanned most of the American century-and shaped one of the greatest victories of freedom. Today in the face of new challenges, his example reminds us that we must move forward with optimism and resolve. He was our oldest president, but he made America young again.

Will Bush benefit or be hurt by the Reagan nostalgia that is sure to ensue in the following days and weeks? I don't know. Surely, some conservatives will be motivated to rally to Bush and the conservative movement. Others, may decide to think about it a little longer. Is George W. Bush really the compassionate conservative in the Reagan tradition that he says he is? George Strong takes a careful look:

On a woman's right to choose President Reagan talked the conservative line but did not do much to try and outlaw abortion. As Governor of California he even signed a bill permitting abortions. As Lou Cannon said in his book on Reagan "Reagan was not as obsessive about anti-abortion legislation as he often seemed. Early in his California governorship he had signed a permissive abortion bill that has resulted in more than a million abortions. Afterward, he inaccurately blamed this outcome on doctors, saying that they had deliberately misinterpreted the law. When Reagan ran for president, he won backing from pro-life forces by advocating a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother. Reagan's stand was partly a product of political calculation, as was his tactic after he was elected of addressing the annual pro-life rally held in Washington by telephone so that he would not be seen with the leaders of the movement on the evening news. While I do not doubt Reagan's sincerity in advocating an anti-abortion amendment, he invested few political resources toward obtaining this goal"

Contrast that with our current President and you might conclude that George W. Bush is much more conservative. From his first action in the White House President Bush has been strongly anti-choice. Too bad he does not just talk the right's game.

And on Gay rights I seem to remember that President Reagan refused to take an anti-gay stand. He told his staff that he had many homosexual friends in the "picture business". Cannon in his book The role of a Lifetime, said "Reagan's presidency coincided with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic. Reagan's response to this epidemic was halting and ineffective. In the critical years of 1984 and 1985, according to his White House physician Dr. John Hutton, Reagan thought of AIDS as though "it was measles and would go away." What changed Reagan's view was the death in October 1985 of his friend Rock Hudson".

On gun control he was mostly silent. On women he appointed the first Woman Supreme Count Justice. Reagan changed the Supreme Court. He appointed the first woman to the high court, Sandra Day O'Connor, fulfilling a pledge he had made during a low point of his 1980 presidential campaign. Reagan's strategists came up with the idea of putting a woman on the Supreme Court". And of course Justice O'Connor is now the swing vote on the court on many social issues. Thanks to Mr. Reagan/

According to Cannon "Reagan did not devote much energy to other aspects of his so-called "social agenda." Some of the items, such as his call for a constitutional amendment to restore prayer in schools, were never more than throwaway lines intended to comfort the Religious Right."

Today the Religious Right are in control of many of our Federal agencies and they make every effort to force their positions on Federal Government policy.

I never voted for Reagan, but I did like him as a man and respected him as a man who was our President.

I believe the most conservative President in the history of our country is the current one in the White House, George W. Bush and his compassion as a conservative seems have faded between Austin Texas and Washington D.C.

Reagan almost comes across as a moderate when compared to George W. Bush. His only major failing on social issues that in my opinion, will permanently tarnish his record was his complete failure to address HIV/AIDS in a serious way until it was too late. On almost every other social issue, he was successful in placating the religious right without coming across as a moralizing preacher to most Americans. Rather than focusing on social issues, Ronald Reagan helped us win the Cold War in a way that united the world to embrace freedom, capitolism and democracy. While the Soviet Union was falling under its own weight, and I believe that its collapse was inevitable, Reagan had a lot to do with expediating the process. Even though liberals can fairly criticize Reagan on some foreign policy adventures (Iran Contra, supporting Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, and funding right-wing dictators in Latin America), Reagan's overarching achievement is leading us to victory in the Cold War. That will be his enduring legacy, and for that he'll be remembered not just by the conservative movement, but by all Americans.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Strayhorn to Switch Parties?

By Byron LaMasters

After last weekend, it looks quite unlikely (if the whole Unitarian Church funding flap wasn't enough for Democrats that might be open to embracing her). It would be quite difficult to accept someone into the Democratic Party that went from GOP caucus to GOP caucus at their convention saying things like this:

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn is pelting the Republican true believers with a hail of words.

"You are representing mainstream, Main Street, common sense, conservative, straight-talkin'..." she's building, louder, running over the commas, "grass-roots-hard-workin'-energized-enthusiastic-driven-dedicated ..."

The adjectives keep rolling. She won't pause for breath. The drenching, dizzying downpour of words sweeps the crowd so that in caucus after caucus, people start laughing and clapping even before she can finish the string. By the end, most have even forgotten they're mad at her.

This throng of 12,000 staunch social conservatives at the state GOP convention through today isn't supposed to be her crowd. But Mrs. Strayhorn, unlike almost every other statewide officeholder, has set up camp for the full three days, and that has won points for the woman widely expected to spark a big gubernatorial primary fight in 2006.

She'll need this base of Republican activists in whatever race she runs. She has royally angered their leader, Gov. Rick Perry, by accusing him of "unconscionable" policies, such as leading the nation in uninsured children and proposing a $5 tax on strip club patrons.

She hired Mark Sanders as her spokesman, even though the GOP press aide crossed over two years ago to help Democrat Tony Sanchez criticize Mr. Perry.

And she is obviously politicking for a job held by a Republican.

Conventional convention wisdom would have her dropping in, giving a short speech – slotted late in the program and presented to a half-empty hall Friday evening – and taking her exit. Instead, she addressed the county chairmen first thing Thursday morning. Then she went to the caucuses in the afternoon. And when her hospitality suite opened that evening, more than 2,000 delegates came to see her. The line spilled down the hotel hallway and piled into the elevator vestibule like she was previewing the new Harry Potter movie. The food and drinks were long gone, and still they came. Friday night was a repeat.


"She's burned so many bridges over the past six months to a year ... ," Mr. Shackelford said. "There are people theorizing out loud wondering if she'd run in the Democratic primary instead of the Republican primary."

Not to worry.

"I'm going to be running full force in 2006," Mrs. Strayhorn said. The party isn't in doubt. Only the office.

"I want to be where I can make the most difference in this state," she said. "But this isn't the time for any announcements."

I still doubt that Strayhorn can win a GOP primary, but she certainly has her followers. And here's to a heated, nasty 2006 GOP primary!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:10 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Prayer by the Texas GOP

By Byron LaMasters

"Give us Christians in America who are more wholehearted, more committed and more militant for you and your kingdom than any fanatical Islamic terrorists are for death and destruction. I want to be one of those Christians."

- Pastor Charles Butchett of First Baptist Church in Kirbyville to thousands of delegates at the 2004 Texas GOP convention on Friday, June 4, 2004.

Via Greg's Opinion and Andrew Sullivan.

So, here we have it. If anyone tells you that Texas Republicans want to take us back a decade, a generation or a century, you can correct them and tell them how far the Texas GOP wants to take us back: The thirteenth century. They seem to think that the crusades are still going on. Democrats want to continue the path of progress into the twenty-first century. Any Questions?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:45 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Congrats to Charles!!

By Byron LaMasters

Congrats to Charles Kuffner of Off the Kuff (and his wife, Tiffany), on the birth of their daughter, Olivia Rose Kuffner. Charles has a brief post on it here, and you can see the proud new father holding his daughter, here.

Again, congrats!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2004

You Can't Make This Stuff Up.

By Jim Dallas

Two stories caught my eye this weekend.

The first reveals the depths of the ongoing Moody-Fertitta dynastic feud in Galveston County:

The deal had been under wraps for 10 months. But Friday, with the signed papers in hand, Moody representative Irwin "Buddy" Herz announced that American National Insurance Company was a partner with Schlitterbahn in a $30 million water park planned near the airport.

Herz said he hoped the deal will show islanders how much Robert L. "Bobby" Moody, chairman of the board and CEO for the American National Insurance, cares about Galveston's future.

"This is probably the largest investment American National has ever made in Galveston," he said. "I hope that people will realize that Robert Moody loves this island and that the Moody interests wanted to do this for Galveston."

Originally city officials thought Schlitterbahn, a New Braunfels-based water park giant, was going into the deal alone.

"This is taking me by total surprise," said Roger "Bo" Quiroga, who was mayor when the deal was approved by city council....

...Herz said the Moody family kept their negotiations with the Henrys a secret out of fear that some council members, including Quiroga, would try to kill the deal if they knew about the partnership.

"We were told there were four votes to kill it if there was any Moody money in it. That's why the negotiations were extremely private," he said.

Quiroga called this statement "asinine." He said he only would have had reservations with the partnership if Schlitterbahn property was taken off the tax rolls.

Disclaimer: I'm a Moody Gardens employee.

The second? Well, just read it.

While Americans are shelling out record prices for fuel, Iraqis pay only about 5 cents a gallon for gasoline -- a benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies bankrolled by U.S. taxpayers....

More than a year after the invasion, that logic has been flipped on its head. Now the average price for gasoline in the United States is running $2.05 a gallon -- 50 cents more than the pre-invasion price.

The only people getting cheap gas as a result of the invasion are the Iraqis.

Filling a 22-gallon tank in Baghdad with low-grade fuel costs just $1.10, plus a 50-cent tip for the attendant. A tankful of high-test costs $2.75.

Although Iraq is a major petroleum producer, the country has little capacity to refine its own gasoline. So the U.S. government pays about $1.50 a gallon to buy fuel in neighboring countries and deliver it to Iraqi stations. A three-month supply costs U.S. taxpayers more than $500 million, not including the cost of military escorts to fend off attacks by Iraqi insurgents. The arrangement keeps a fleet of 4,200 tank trucks constantly on the move, ferrying fuel to Iraq.

"We thank the Americans," Baghdad taxi driver Osama Hashim said. "They risked their lives to liberate us and now they are improving our lives," said Hashim, 26, topping up the tank on his beat-up 1983 Volkswagen....

Analysts say the U.S. gas subsidies can't last forever -- and Iraqis may be in for an unpleasant shock when they end. In the meantime, however, the American taxpayer continues to foot a huge bill.

"The U.S. taxpayer has a right to be indignant, and Iraqis have to be warned about the long-run damages of this," said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The minute the aid goes out, the party is over. And there's going to be a hell of a hangover."

Those darn hippie peaceniks demanded "no blood for oil." And guess what? We didn't get no stinkin' oil! And the Iraqis are so happy to be liberated that we have to bribe them with cheap gas!

You can't make this stuff up.

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

No Show Tunes...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's now official. George W. Bush is not a theater queen.

The word came on May 22, after the president had taken his mountain biking fall on his ranch in Crawford. "You know this president," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, taking pains to explain that his boss had been on a 17-mile marathon, not some limp-kneed girly jaunt. "He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."

The interesting bit in this article is found near the end. Apparently, the GOP National Convention goers will not be attending any musicals with any gay characters in them. (If you were randomly picking on Broadway, I can't imagine not hitting at least one.)

The Republicans then had no choice but to book the landlocked delegates into Broadway musicals. The eight shows selected (with tickets to be underwritten by The Times, as it happens) have one thing in common: none of them has an openly gay character. The host committee has said that the list was dictated by factors unrelated to the musicals' content. If you buy that, you'll believe that David Gest will be the next secretary of defense.

Even with Ms. O'Donnell's Boy George musical, "Taboo," out of commission, it remains as hard to shun gay culture on Broadway as Mormons in Salt Lake City. To do so means skipping two recent Tony winners, "The Producers" and "Hairspray," and most of this year's Tony nominees. (The only harder feat would be to avoid Jews; the Republicans have booked "Fiddler on the Roof," to which they are sending the Florida delegation, yet). The Republicans were so desperate to escape Roger DeBris, the cross-dressing buffoon concocted by Mel Brooks, that they have gone and picked two shows ("Beauty and the Beast" and "Phantom of the Opera") set in France!

Another musical they're skipping, "Avenue Q," has a gay character named Rod, a Republican investment banker who tries to pass as straight by singing of a fictive girlfriend who lives in Canada. Apparently even entertainment this light — the show stars "Sesame Street"-style puppets — hits too close to home.


The good news for those on the right appalled by such apostates is that a spokesman for Scores, the straight Manhattan lap-dance club, has taken to bragging to The New York Post of the advance bookings lined up by convention delegates. But it's inevitable that some tabloid will uncover some swing-state delegates at a gay sex club as well. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The only people in New York likely to be dissing the many gay Republicans who turn up here are their own party leaders.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Vernon Robinson for Crazy Bin

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Vernon Robinson is running for Congress as a Black Republican in North Carolina. He's been called the Black Jesse Helms. And on the crazy scale, he's right up there.

Just listen to his radio ads on his website. I'm speechless.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 05, 2004


By Jim Dallas

Reuters: Former president Reagan dead at 93.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The world's second, third, and fourth "radioactive environmentalists"

By Jim Dallas

Respectively, Matt Yglesias, Mark Kleiman, and Brad DeLong.

The common argument goes like this: we're really, really, really running out of oil; and coal is really, really, really leading to global warming (which is real!) that means we should bite the bullet and go nuclear, which may or may not have real dangers.

I have sympathy for this argument, although it ought to be noted that this testifies to the utter incompetence of our national energy policy for, like, the last quarter century. And Dick Cheney isn't helping either.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cabinet Spice Rack

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Over the past months, there has been chatter about whether or not Kerry should pick a "shadow cabinet" of sorts. While it certainly would be interesting and an out of the box idea (meaning Kerry probably wouldn't do it) I really doubt it would happen (kinda like McCain being the VP).

But that hasn't stopped people from having fun seeing who they would like where. (Howard Dean for Sec. of Health and Human Services anyone?)

The following article from boston.com has a great blend of serious and fun. Make your own choices in the comments...

For Defense, usual suspects are Wesley Clark and John McCain; but I like Romeo Crennel, Patriots' Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator. At State, safe pick is ex-UN ambassador and know-it-all Richard Holbrooke, who helped end war in Bosnia. National security adviser would fit Gary Hart, expert on all things military, but Richard Clarke would be sweet justice.

FBI goes to America's most famous cop, Bill Bratton, formerly of Boston and New York, now LAPD chief. Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy (ret.) gets Homeland Security; Army's only female three-star general was deputy chief of staff for intelligence. As attorney general, John Edwards would fight for little guy; solicitor general is natural for Dennis Archer, ex-Detroit Mayor and first African-American head of American Bar Association. CIA chief would come from Yale's secret Skull and Bones society, so director's name could not be spoken.

College president Bob Kerrey would turn Education job into bullhorn for reform. For Agriculture, I'd skip bland South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle in favor of Jim Hightower, colorful Bush-whacker who went from Texas farming commissioner to national liberal wit overnight. Example: "The only difference between a pigeon and the American farmer is that a pigeon can still make a deposit on a John Deere."

Give Health and Human Services to Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, left on steps of orphanage as baby and adopted by an alcoholic, abusive mother (true). Howard Dean would whip us into shape as surgeon general. Housing should have US Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. in the house.

Environmental Protection for Bill Weld, if he promises not to jump into Potomac. At Interior, Fab Five from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" could do wonders with whole country. (ed. note: Ok, really bad pun.)

Max Cleland for Veterans Affairs; he lost three limbs in Vietnam, then lost his US Senate seat when Republicans attacked his patriotism. (Don't know which is worse, that GOP did it, or that it worked.)

For Energy, smart pick is Daniel Yergin, authority on global energy and economics. Transportation goes to Fred Salvucci, who conceived and won approvals for biggest construction project in US history, Boston's Big Dig. Labor is Richard Gephardt, who seems to have been in Congress since 1894 -- even back then had 100 percent AFL rating. Commerce goes to Donald Trump; at Cabinet meetings he'd make everyone feel better about his hair. Treasurer is Madame Heinz, who'd be comfortable around amounts smaller than her bank account.

Securities and Exchange is Eliot Spitzer, New York's crusading attorney general who'd bring extra muscle against CEO abuses. For UN ambassador, Georgia congressman and civil rights warrior John Lewis would project new US image to world. Who better to unlock huge China market as US Trade Representative than Gary Locke, third-generation Chinese-American and governor of Washington?

To chair Council of Economic Advisers, I'd tap economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Head of space program is no-brainer: William Shatner, Star Trek captain, would boldly go where no man has gone before; with Priceline, he'd save billions on travel. And who in White House press corps would tangle with American Idol's acerbic Simon Crowell as press secretary?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Don't Listen to Polls.... Yet

By Andrew Dobbs

I keep hearing polls for various states and the nation as a whole. While these have some usefulness in gauging momentum, they really aren't very meaningful at this point. The only people very closely watching the presidential election right now are junkies- people who think that reading about politics is really cool. The vast majority of Americans are in kind of a holding pattern, dealing with life and will start listening to the news a bit closer come Labor Day. As a result, I really don't put much credence in the polls right now.

Still, the number of undecideds is decidedly low this year. The latest Rasmussen poll has their number at about 6%- very tiny considering that the election is still 5 months away. The fact of the matter is that most of those- perhaps as much as 2/3rd or 3/4ths of them- will break for Kerry. If you have had 4 years to watch Bush and you still aren't convinced, chances are you'll cast your vote for someone else. Still, I think that the softest area of support is in Bush's numbers. People who say they support Kerry right now (as he is largely unknown or very little known around the country) are for the most part either rabid Democrats, rabid Bush-haters or just really like the guy. Bush's numbers are, on the other hand, full of a lot of people who just choose him by default. I think that as time goes on, if Kerry can keep things going strong, that number might dip a point or two. All of this, of course, bodes very well for Sen. Kerry.

The other thing that bodes well is the magic 50% line. 5 months out, less than half of all Americans say they want the same guy to be President. It is kind of like if you were to ask your wife "Are we going to be married 5 months from now" and she said "Well, I'm at about 43% on that one..." Kerry is set to take a lot of the vote that way.

But once again- 5 months is an eternity in politics. Absolutely anything could happen- including something we haven't even imagined yet. Sex scandals, terrorist attacks, drug scandals, mental breakdowns, a particularly serious gaffe- anything could happen. Talk to Clayton Williams, the 1990 Republican candidate for Governor of Texas. Ol' Claytie (as his friends called him) had a 20 point lead at Labor Day- that magic date I spoke of earlier. Then he had the good sense to make a very offensive joke on the record about a woman being raped, he refused to shake is opponent's hand (Ann Richards) during a televised debate and was generally mean spirited and rude. He lost bad to Richards only 8 weeks later. Anything can happen, and Kerry will be lucky to be working with an 8 point lead, not 20.

All of this is to say, don't worry about the polls right now. Be glad that Kerry is in the mid to upper 40s in most polls in competitive states and that Bush is lower than that. Call me back in 3 months and we'll see where we stand.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

I'm leaving for Austin this morning. I'll be in Austin for the weekend, returning to Dallas Monday mid-day. I'll be staying with various friends, so I'll have some Internet access, but not a lot, so posting will my light from me over the weekend.

Anyway, I'm sure that Andrew, Jim and Karl-Thomas will keep up the good work. I'll be back Monday if I don't post before then.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2004 Texas GOP Platform Approved

By Byron LaMasters

The AP has the highlights:

The Republican Party of Texas approved its 2004 state platform at its convention today. Among the provisions in the platform are:

--Support for "the traditional definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman."

--Support for state legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.

--Support for protection of all "innocent human life" from fertilization until natural death; urging the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

--Opposition to government action to restrict, prohibit or remove from public display the Ten Commandments or other religious symbols.

--Denouncement of "any unconstitutional act of judicial tyranny that would demand removal of the words 'One Nation Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance."

--Support for adoption of "American English" as the official language of Texas and the United States.

--Restoration of plaques honoring the Confederate Widow's Pension Fund contribution that were removed from the Texas Supreme Court and other state buildings.

--Support for legislation to allow forcible rape to be punished by the death penalty.

--Opposition to the legalization of sodomy. The platform states that sodomy "tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases."

--Support for a state school choice policy that allows "maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children."

Any questions? The entire 2002 Platform is here (PDF File). The 2004 platform isn't online yet, but I'll be expecting to see it pop up on the Texas GOP webpage shortly. And when it does, I'l be sure to point out the most egregious parts.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 04, 2004

Tina Benkiser Remains Texas GOP Chair

By Byron LaMasters

I guess the whole Roy Moore thing didn't do it for Gina Parker, although I think her losing had more to do with the fact that she is a trial lawyer. And among GOP activists, trial lawyers tend to rank up there with abortionists, homosexuals and feminists on the totem pole. Anyway, the San Antonio Express News has the low-down:

A fight to lead Texas' Republican Party ended today when Gina Parker of Waco conceded to Chairwoman Tina Benkiser of Houston on the second day of the state GOP convention.

Parker said she would stand behind Benkiser, who was elected to keep the post, and turn her attention to the work she says the GOP has to do.

"We truly are ... at a crossroads in America. There is a war that's being waged for the soul of our nation and the hearts of our children," Parker said, adding later, "My boots are made for walking all over Democrats and re-electing George W. Bush."

Benkiser, with re-elected party Vice Chairman David Barton, vowed a commitment to re-electing President Bush and sending GOP members to Congress.


Both are considered conservative and share similar views on key issues. But Parker, in campaigning against Benkiser, had said she wanted to see the party take stronger public stands.

"Just recently in regard to the gambling issue, the state party was stunningly silent, and as a candidate, I came out and took a very strong position against gambling as a means of financing schools," Parker said.

The incumbent focused on her experience, saying she had been elected repeatedly to party leadership positions by the grass roots and had proven her ability. She said she had talked with elected officials by phone on the gambling issue, saying on such issues the first approach is to "try to persuade them rather than waging a media campaign."

So, the more moderate candidate won. That is a rarity in a Texas GOP race. But the arguement seemed to be less about issues and more about approach.

Free State Standard has some comments on the race as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Incidentally, I now do much of my web-browsing with Linux

By Jim Dallas

I've waivered back and forth between Windows and Linux for a while (forgive me, for I have sinned...). But I was really pushed over the edge last month when I kept getting re-infected by the same g-d W32.Sasser worm. If Mandrake 10 is half as kick-ass as it appears to be (it's been running fairly smoothly for me for the last week -- best Linux distro I've used thus far), it may become my long-term preference. [Download Mandrake 10!]

Brad DeLong ponders the meaning of Windows XP Service Pack 2:

There is a pathetic more-than-hint of "the chocolate ration has been raised again" in this: "no company is doing as much work as Microsoft... to secure computer systems," yes, but also no company has done as much as Microsoft to create insecure computer systems.


P.S. Any advice on re-compiling the kernel for AMD Athlon XP processors?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rasmussen does (kinda) Texas

By Jim Dallas

KOS has been keeping track of newly-released Rasmussen data which breaks down their 30 daily polls during the month of May by state. (Note that deconstructing national tracking poll data is a little different methodologically speaking than doing a full-on state poll).

Nonetheless, the breakdowns are showing some interesting results, with the race for president practically tied in Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Rasmussen also used this technique to guess-timate support for Bush and Kerry in Texas. The results:

May 1 - May 31
(Purported Margin of Error: +/- 3%)

Bush 55%
Kerry 38%
Other 3%
Not Sure 4%

As Rasmussen notes, this is "expected." So really the only thing worth watching is, will Bush underperform or overperform in Texas compared to his showing in 2000? In part the matter is pride; "not losing as badly" would be sort of a moral victory for Texas Democrats. But just as importantly, polling data on this race will serve as a barometer of several things which will decide this election and future elections:

  • Is Bush's base going to show up for him? If Texas isn't Bush's base -- what is?
  • Are demographic trends actually helping Democrats, as many commentators have suggested?
  • Is the mood in the Lone Star State such that Democrats have real opportunities in 2006?
  • And many, many more.

Considering that Texas broke 59-38 for Bush in 2000, a 55-38 showing suggests that Bush is heading towards a November result which is no better, and potentially worse than, his showing four years ago. While Bush has a decent approval rating here (Rasmussen claims 60 percent; I suspect it is closer to 50), I would bet on Bush getting about 55 percent, Kerry getting about 43, and third parties carrying the rest. In short, I expect Bush to fall about four or five points short of his previous tally.

Why? The enthusiasm at least a few "Bushocrats" had for Gov. Bush has not translated into support for President Bush (ask Paul Burka). The state Republicans are forming a circular firing squad. Demographic shifts will probably give Kerry a one- or two- point boost. Finally, Nader isn't on the ballot here in Texas.

This is only June, and a lot can change (it''s even remotely possible that Kerry could carry Texas). We need more real polls to see where this race is going.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Time to Vote

By Byron LaMasters

On who gets booted from the island on D Trip TV. I voted off Tom DeLay, but Ann Coulter and John Ashcroft give him tough competition. George Bush, Dick Cheney and Katherine Harris have immunity in this round.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Texas GOP Convention Tidbits

By Byron LaMasters

The Texas GOP convention is in full swing today. As I mentioned earlier, they've already engaged in their obligatory gay bashing. And, of course, things wouldn't be right unless they got hysterical about guns. Via War Liberal the San Antonio Express-News reports on the festivities:

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who championed Texas' concealed handgun law as a state senator, was on a right-to-bear-arms crusade Thursday.

His target: signs he spotted at the Convention Center and city parking garages that he said wrongly warn people against carrying weapons there.

He said cities can't impose such regulations except in areas or circumstances specified by state or federal law.

"Every time I see a sign, I call somebody," Patterson said. As for his own weapon, he said, "I always carry unless prohibited by state or federal law."

And then there's the attempts for minority voter outreach:

African American state GOP delegates gathered for their first summit, with many in the relatively small group raising their hands when asked how many were attending their first convention. Benkiser said she has worked to reach into communities that don't traditionally vote Republican.

Still, she said, "I know many of you in the African American community have been Republicans forever, it seems. ... This party is where your heritage is."

As most African-Americans would tell you, the Republican Party dropped it's heritage as the party of Lincoln and abolition when it embraced Barry Goldwater in 1964. And they haven't looked back.

(Speaking of GOP minority outreach, Atrios has a great example of how Republicans just don't get it. On a sign-up page for Spanish-speaking Bush supporters, they list four options for occupation: "war veteran or retired military; teacher or educator; senior citizen; or farmer or rancher". You know, some Republicans just don't seem to realize that Hispanics just might be lawyers and doctors and businessmen, etc.)

And then, don't forget about Roy Moore:

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court recounted for an adoring GOP audience his ouster from office after he failed to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building.

Moore spoke at a reception at the invitation of Gina Parker, a Waco lawyer and businesswoman challenging state GOP Chairman Tina Benkiser for the party's top slot at its state convention.

"It's about God," Moore said. "It's not about the Ten Commandments. It's not about the monument. It's not about religion. ... It's about the acknowledgement of God."

Moore also spoke against what he called judicial activism.

Roy Moore is speaking of judicial activism??? Are you kidding me? Roy Moore is perhaps the biggest judicial activist in America. As someone who was elected to interpret the law, he openly refused to obey an order from a higher court, and thus was rightfully removed from office.

Moving on, Off the Kuff has the low-down on Rick Perry's remarks. Basically, Perry tried his best to stress that he was a good conservative in order to make the GOP base forget that he supports gambling.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ralph Nader: Right-Wing Protest Candidate

By Byron LaMasters

No, not really. But he does try his best to play the game with his interview with Pat Buchanan in The American Conservative.

Via The Bonassus

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Log Cabin Denied Booth at Texas GOP Convention - Again

By Byron LaMasters

No surprise, here, just further evidence that gays and lesbians are not welcome in the Texas Republican Party. The Dallas Morning News reports:

The Texas Log Cabin Republicans have long complained about intolerance from their fellow party members.

Andy Hendricks, the group's Texas president, said Log Cabin has again this year been barred from having a table or booth at the convention.

Although 24 convention delegates are Log Cabin members, he said, many other gay Texas Republicans have chosen to remain silent about their sexuality and related issues.

The Republicans way of dealing with groups who oppose parts of their platform is just uncommonly silly. We have a "Democrats for Life" caucus at our State Democratic conventions. While most of the delegates, and our platform support a woman's right to choose, we welcome anyone to the Democratic Party that shares most of our values and wants to help get Democrats elected. What are the Republicans so scared of? That if they allow Log Cabin to have a table, that they will start converting their children into the gay cult?

I don't get it. Neither do the Republicans, as they readily admit:

"I don't understand them," Houston delegate and platform committee member Norman Adams said of the Log Cabin activists. "They are probably attracted to the party because of our stand against increased taxes and other issues. But we believe that marriage should be between a natural man and a natural woman."

The platform is a largely symbolic collection of principles that sparks disagreement even within the GOP. In the past, elected officials have distanced themselves from positions such as withdrawing from the United Nations, taking back the Panama Canal and returning to the gold standard.

I've speculated in the past few days over what new we can expect from this year's Texas GOP Platform. The addition this year will likely be calling for felony charges for those who perform gay marriages:

As Log Cabin Republicans made their pitch, a party committee recommended that the state make it a felony for a government official in Texas to license or perform a same-sex marriage.

The party's Permanent Platform Committee, then the full convention, will consider that and other recommendations.

Where's the compassion?

This isn't the only flap this year between gays and the Republican Party. A gay Republican city councilman in Washington D.C. was stripped of his delegate credentials after he was critical of George Bush for proposing the FMA (Hate Amendment) - nevermind that the guy raised $50,000 for Bush (although Boi From Troy has a good point that delegates who say they oppose the candidate for which they are a delegate ought to be stripped of their credentials. I certainly would think that it would be appropriate to strip of Kerry delegate of their credentials if they openly said that they did not support John Kerry for President).

Back to Log Cabin, a gay Republican friend of mine in North Carolina was also displeased when the North Carolina Republican Party refused to allow a Log Cabin booth at their convention. Adam writes:

The North Carolina Republican Party Convention has banned the Log Cabin Republicans from setting up a table at the convention. Ed Farthing, Executive Director of Equality NC and a lifelong GOP'er, paid the fee for the table several weeks ago. At the time, no one had a problem with the LCR setting up a display booth. Three days from the convention, the NC GOP decided to kick the LCR out.

When the GOP cannot even admit some of its own members to its own convention...to have their own display booth...we have problems in our party. I was planning on attending the convention this weekend, but I will not go. I am ashamed the party has behaved this way.

I used to try to convince gay Republicans that they were idiots for supporting a party that hates them. I don't bother anymore. I just pity them.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 03, 2004

Bush and the Pope

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

ROME (Reuters) - President Bush will award Pope John Paul the Presidential Medal of Freedom Friday, the highest U.S. civilian award, a U.S. official said Thursday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pontiff was being honored for "years of fighting for freedom and for his important moral voice."

Bush is to meet the Polish pope at the Vatican Friday.

The pope strongly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and last week publicly condemned torture as an affront to human dignity, seen as a veiled reference to American abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

In November the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bi-partisan resolution to encourage Bush to give the 84-year-old Roman Catholic leader the medal for his contribution to the fall of communism and his defense of freedom throughout the world.

Ok, that's all very well and fine, but I have this sneaking feeling that the other reason behing this is that Bush-boy is trolling for Catholic votes. (John Kerry is Catholic, remember.)

The last time this medal was given to a Pope was in 1963, when JFK (surprise, surprise!) gave one post-humously to Pope John XXIII. So I'm thinking the whole Catholic connection might be there.

Catholics continue to be one of the religious denominations that are fairly evenly split between the parties. Part of is it is regional, with Massachusetts and Hispanic border region areas being Democratic and middle America less so. But part of it is also the fact that many Catholics still believe in the whole helping humanity, help those less fortunate, the meek will inherit the Earth idea. Because of that, white Catholics like me, believe in a sense of equality and compassion for the less fortunate. We tend to be those voters in the religious arena that can vote for Democrats that foucs on the social contract arguement of government plus health care and education.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

It's not easy being green.

By Jim Dallas

Warning: The following entry is rated PG-13 for adult situations and language.


Sigh. One of the downsides of living in a smaller city is that we get to read a constant stream of unenlightened letters to the editor. As a matter of simple economics, the supply of column inches far outpaces the demand for intelligent analysis. We don't get witty journalism in our opinion pages, we get rote jeremiads. It's getting so that I can read the entire letters to the editor section and not learn a darn thing.

Today's entry in the hall of shame makes me fear for my country more than I usually do. From today's Galveston Daily News:

Christians Must Stand Up For Their Rights

I am furious with the corruption of our nation. Drug use, murder, suicide, rape and homosexuality make me gag.

How long can God-loving Christians stand by and watch while our civil rights are taken away by a government that was supposed to be a republic but turned into a democracy?

I can’t wait any longer. Democracies almost always end up as dictatorships, and the majority opinion is not always right. The main reason I am furious is because evolution is being taught as fact rather than theory in our public schools.

If you don’t want evolution out of schools, at least require the teachers to teach both sides. Yes, there is another side. It is called creation.

Another issue that makes me angry concerns prayer in schools. The idea of “separation of church and state” has been taken out of context.

Thomas Jefferson initiated this idea. Even when Jefferson made this comment, its intended meaning was that the federal government was prohibited from creating a national religion.

This is exactly what the atheists are doing with evolution today, and the federal government is funding it.

Jeremy Osborn

Now, I'm not writing what I'm about to write to "pick on" Mr. Osborn or say he's a bad person... ahh screw it, yes I am. Mr. Osborne, yes you are a moron, and a bad person. Let me explain.

Side-stepping chest thumping like "homosexuality make[s] me gag" (apparently, Mr. Osborne needs practice), this letter should win an award for most negative IQ points packed into a 150-word container. It's a steady stream of non-sequiturs and sundry illogic. It's just.... baaaaaaaaaaaad.

I mean, I am not particularly enlightened myself. I'm not an "Oprah-topian"; gee, come to think of it, I know all the words to "Sweet Home Alabama." But there are lines intelligent people do not cross.

I will now put on my "Responsible Adult" cap and disect two lines of attack in full.

(1) "How long can God-loving Christians stand by and watch while our civil rights are taken away by a government that was supposed to be a republic but turned into a democracy... Democracies almost always end up as dictatorships, and the majority opinion is not always right."

(a) The President, The Vice President, The Leaders of Congress, The Governor, The Lieutenant Governor, The Speaker of the House, and A Majority of High Court Justices both in Washington and Austin are all allegedly Christians, conservatives, and Republicans (not necessarily in that order).

It thus follows that, if there is any tyranny-of-the-majority, it sure as hell isn't the atheists who are doing the tyrannizing.

Speaking of tyrannizing, Pharyngula notes that many school teachers are afraid to even talk about evolution. It's kind of hard to believe that the Atheist Liberals are forcing the national gospel of Darwinism on our youngsters when an increasingly large number teachers simply shrug it off (which is a bad thing).

(b) Empirically, democracies do not "almost always end up as dictatorships." In fact, democracies rarely do, unless they are so institutionally weak that they get overthrown by force, or so culturally weak that they are not seen as legitimate by their own people.

According to a report by Freedom House, the 29 states which were ruled by "totalitarian" or "authoritarian" regimes in 1950 were ruled by democratic governments in 2000. Another, Tajikistan, was on the road to democracy in 2000 (with "restricted democratic practices").

NOT A SINGLE DEMOCRATIC STATE IN 1950 WAS RULED BY A TOTALITARIAN OR AUTHORITARIAN REGIME IN 2000. It would seem that "dictatorships" almost always end up as democracies, not the other way around.

*The twenty-nine 1950 dictatorships which became democracies by 2000 are:Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Ukraine.

(c) Thomas Jefferson, who Osborne seems to approve, and who should have known a little something about the founding of America (having written, you know, the Declaration of Independence) was committed to democracy by name.

(c1) He even liked it so much he named his party the Democratic Party.

(c2) In an 1816 letter, Jefferson writes "We of the United States are constitutionally and conscientiously democrats."

(c3) Another 1816 letter: "The full experiment of a government democratical, but representative, was and is still reserved for us."

(2)"The main reason I am furious is because evolution is being taught as fact rather than theory in our public schools.

If you don’t want evolution out of schools, at least require the teachers to teach both sides. Yes, there is another side. It is called creation.

Another issue that makes me angry concerns prayer in schools. The idea of “separation of church and state” has been taken out of context.

Thomas Jefferson initiated this idea. Even when Jefferson made this comment, its intended meaning was that the federal government was prohibited from creating a national religion.

This is exactly what the atheists are doing with evolution today, and the federal government is funding it."

(a) More Jefferson:

"I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises and the objects proper for them according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands where the Constitution has deposited it... Everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:429

"To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own." --Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. ME 2:302, Papers 2: 546

"It is... proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe, a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is to carry some authority and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription, perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed?... Civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:428

[Which leads one to ask - if the President of the United States claims he'd be wrong to even recommend fasting and prayer, doesn't that suggest that he feels that public school teachers are equally bound to keep the heck out of the prayer business?]

"Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science." --Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815. ME 14:281

"No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination." --Thomas Jefferson: Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:425

(b) There's a reason the theory of evolution is taught seriously in public schools; it is based on facts and reason.

(c) There's a reason why creationism is not - the assertion that the earth and stars were created begs the question - "by whom?". That is inherently a religious question.

(d) The theory of evolution does not assert the presence of a divine Creator; that is not the same as asserting the absence of one. Evolution and creationism are not mutually incompatible (unless you are asserting a specific theory of creation, e.g. Young Earth Creationism. As YEC has very little evidence supporting it (aside from Scripture), why would it be taught in public schools?)

(e) As the theory of evolution does not hold that there is *NOT* a Supreme Being, the assertion of the theory of evolution in public schools should not be equated with the promotion of atheism as a national religion. The whole argument is a non-sequitur.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Former Director of Central Intelligence Stansfield Turner, on George Tenet's resignation:

I think the president feels he's in enough trouble that he's got to begin to cast some of the blame for the morass that we are in in Iraq to somebody else."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You know it's a good slogan when...

By Byron LaMasters

Tom DeLay hates it:

John Kerry has been using the slogan "Let America be America again" lately, and it appears to have gotten under the skin of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. "I didn't go to any European prep schools, but I was just wondering what exactly he thinks America is," Mr. DeLay said at his weekly session with reporters. "If we're not America now, what are we? Is his campaign somehow against America because it's not American enough? What's his problem with America?" The slogan comes from a 1938 Langston Hughes poem, and Kerry aides say the candidate likes it because it quickly conveys idealism and a call for change. Kerry spokesman Luis Vizcaino dismissed Mr. DeLay's critique, saying the senator is "proud of America and proud to be an American."

I'm one of a growing number of fans of John Kerry's new slogan, or what seems to be emerging as his new slogan, "Let America be America again."

Delay can go off on his shrill European prep school rhetoric, but I really don't think that most people will give a flip. Bill Maher hit it on the button last night on Larry King:

When we were talking a few months ago about Bush being a draft dodger and that whole controversy, and people said, It's not relevant now, it is so relevant. If Bush says he's a war president -- you know what? If we're going to be at war and need a war president, I want a president who's been to war. John Kerry understands war in a way George Bush never will.

You know, this is a perfect storm of a mess in Iraq because we have a president who proudly says he doesn't read the paper, never traveled oversees, never really cared to learn about overseas, and never served oversees, so he doesn't understand what it's like overseas. And that's why he has this two-dimensional view of what goes on over there. He gets frustrated with us because we don't understand -- Saddam Hussein, 9/11, they hate us for our freedom. What don't you marshmallow-heads get about that? That's his whole world view. John Kerry has been to war. He's like a guy who's a vegetarian now because he's been to the slaughterhouse. I think he would have kept us out of war.

America has lost our way under George W. Bush because as Maher puts it, our president has a two-dimensional view of the world. Tom DeLay can shout all he wants about European prep schools, but John Kerry probably has the broadest world view of any presidential nominee in quite some time. Not only did he serve in Vietnam for America, but he's lived and traveled extensively in Europe, and has the ability to work with and communicate with our allies over there that George Bush will never have.

Also, the "Let America be America Again", is the perfect type of slogan that has mass appeal to both the liberal base of the Democratic Party, and the moderate to conservative Independent and swing voters. It appeals to liberals in that it emphasizes that America has lost its way, and we need a dramatic change in leadership and approach. It has the same appeal that Howard Dean's "I want to take back my country", but without the fiery tone that will turn off moderates. To moderates and conservatives, it can come across as a new Democratic patriotism and a renewed commitment to an America that is not only strong, but also respected throughout the world.

The slogan is also Kerry's best by far. The New York Times looks at his old ones, and none of them really caught on. His first, "better set of choices" completely failed to inspire anyone. The next one, making America "safer, stronger, more secure" seemed like empty rhetoric. The next, "the courage to do what's right" sounded good on the surface, but Kerry didn't really articulate what was "right" until he finally got his campaign in gear in December. "The Real Deal" did what it needed to do. It got Democrats in Iowa to think about electing someone that they saw as Presidential, but as a long term slogan, it has little to offer. Same with "Bring it On". It worked during the primaries, but it's too combative to use everyday in a general election. "Change Starts Here" was the next slogan, but it's hardly inspiring. Finally, the last slogan "a lifetime of service and strength" is great as an introductory bio, but only "Let America be America Again" offers an overarching vision that can work for the entirety of the election campaign. Keep it up.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Convention Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Check out the official blog for the 2004 Democratic National Convention, here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Dominoes Begin to Fall

By Byron LaMasters

CIA director George Tenet announced his resignation this morning. Who's next?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:33 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Supporting Friends

By Byron LaMasters

Just wanted to make a few plugs for friends that are running for stuff:

BOR contributer Karl-Thomas is running to be a national delegate from his hometown of Fredricksburg. His webpage is Musselman For America. Even as the hardcore Deaniac that he is, he's running to be a Kerry delegate. If you have a few bucks to spare, he can use your support. Donate Here.

My friend Mike Apodaca is also a candidate from El Paso. He is running to be on the SDEC (State Democratic Executive Committee). Here's his webpage. Mike is the Executive Vice President of the Texas Young Democrats, a precinct chair, and President of the UT-El Paso University Democrats. He's also a hardcore Democratic activist, and all around good guy (even if he has a wonky side that tends to produce 75-page club organizing manuals). Mike has also been endorsed by State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso). Anyway, he can also use your support, so if you have some change to spare, donate here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 02, 2004

Why Herseth's Win Matters

By Andrew Dobbs

Last night was a very good night- Stephanie Herseth, a progressive Democrat who had lost a race for congress less than two years ago won election the the US House from South Dakota, handing the state its first all Democrat congressional delegation since 1937. Herseth's win give the Democrats a 2-0 record in special elections heading into the general election. Republicans say that this is unimportant, but they are dreadfully wrong. From the Nation:

Special elections results, especially when they follow upon one another and begin to form patterns, mean a great deal in American politics. In the last two election cycles where Democratic challengers defeated Republican Presidents, those wins were preceded by patterns of Democratic wins in special elections for House seats vacated by Republicans. Before the 1976 presidential election, Democrats swept a series of special elections in traditionally Republican districts--even winning the Michigan House seat vacated by Gerald Ford when he accepted the vice presidency in Richard Nixon's collapsing Administration. In 1976, after assuming the presidency, Ford was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Similarly, before the 1992 election, President George Herbert Walker Bush was embarrassed when his Republican party lost special elections for seats it had held. Of particular significance was the June 4, 1991, election of Democrat John Olver to the western Massachusetts seat vacated by Republican Representative Silvio O. Conte, a close Bush ally. (...)

But there is no question that the South Dakota result represents bad news for the GOP. Coming not long before fall elections, when Republicans must defend the White House and narrow margins of control in the House and Senate, a pair of special-election wins for Democrats running in traditionally Republican House districts will set off alarm bells within the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. (...)

During the contest that preceded Herseth's election by a 51-49 margin over Republican Larry Diedrich in Tuesday's statewide voting, the Democratic and Republican Congressional campaign committees poured more that $2 million into television advertising that targeted fewer than 300,000 South Dakota voters. Vice President Dick Cheney and First Lady Laura Bush swept into the Plains state to campaign for Diedrich. And, after Herseth won, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was declaring early Wednesday morning that "Stephanie Herseth's win to tonight sends a clear message to President Bush and Congressional Republicans: Americans are ready for change."

Allowing for predictable hyperbole, Pelosi is hitting closer to the mark than the Republicans who claim this one election has no meaning. The Democrats do, indeed, seem to be on something of a roll in special elections for the House this year.

Between 1991 and 2003, Democrats failed to win a single special election for a House seat vacated by a Republican.

In 2004, Democrats have won two such seats: First in the rural 6th District of Kentucky, where former state Attorney General Ben Chandler secured a lopsided special election victory in February, and now in South Dakota with Herseth.

For all the protests from Republicans about how the South Dakota race was unique, it is difficult to imagine that if President Bush were riding high in the polls and public confidence in the stewardship of Republican House and Senate leaders were equally high Herseth could have prevailed. South Dakota knows how to vote for Democrats--the state sends two Democratic senators to Washington--but the House seat Herseth won had been safely in Republican hands for years. Republican Rep. John Thune regularly won the seat with as much as 75 percent of the vote until he gave it up in 2002. Former Governor Bill Janklow then won the seat with a solid margin over Herseth. (Janklow's involvement in a deadly driving accident cut his Congressional career short, provoking the special election.)

The author fails to mention that in 1994 the coming Republican landslide was foretold by a string of surprising GOP wins in special elections. Special elections are like spring training in baseball- they dont' necessarily mean that your team is going to win a pennat but if you are struggling real hard you have to shape up quick or you'll be in last place real soon. Right now the GOP is looking bad- two losses in two states that should have been sure things where they poured enormous amounts of cash. $2 million in South Dakota is a fortune and Cheney and Laura couldn't even save Diedrich. Albeit, it was quite close but Herseth is going to have a lot of help in the Fall.

Essentially, the GOP is very weak right now. They have lost two special elections for the House, they are looking at losing Senate seats in IL, OK, CO and AK and Bush's numbers are in the tubes. Unless something dramatic happens, a Democratic sweep is a very real possibility. A Herseth loss would have meant the GOP has stemmed the Democrats' momentum but as we saw last night, things are looking up for our party in 2004.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Annoy Marilyn Musgrave

By Byron LaMasters

Email her at: Marilyn@Musgrave2004.com - and ask her why she is so obsessed with gay people (she's the sponsor of FMA aka The Hate Amendment in the U.S. House).

Kos has her latest email fundraising pitch here.

Better yet, donate to her Democratic opponent, Stan Matsunaka.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bush's Mayor Endorses Kerry

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News reports that Crawford, TX mayor Robert Campbell will be supporting John Kerry for President this year:

Crawford may be the heart of Bush country, but the town's mayor says John Kerry is the best choice for president.

"I don't see where I'm better off than I was four years ago," Robert Campbell said Tuesday. "I don't see where the city is any better off."

The Kerry campaign recently listed Mr. Campbell as one of 100 black mayors around the country – seven of them Texans – who support the Massachusetts senator over President Bush. But the campaign has not focused particular attention on the endorsement.


Mr. Campbell, a Democrat who has been mayor since 1999, said he's met Mr. Bush once but doesn't feel inclined to support the former Texas governor. He voted for Al Gore in 2000.

"I would say the city has a mix of Bush and Kerry supporters," he said. "The Kerry supporters feel like Bush has not delivered on his promises."


Mr. Campbell says he's not worried about a backlash among constituents.

"I have the right to vote for who I want to be president," he said. "If some people around here don't like it, they can vote for someone else for mayor."

Crawford, TX is an interesting place. They have a strikingly liberal editorial page for their local paper, the Crawford Lone-Star Iconoclast. Crawford also has an African-American mayor, a Democratic State Representative (John Mabry) and Democratic Congressman (Chet Edwards). So, even if it is George W. Bush's home, there's a few good Democrats out there, even if the Houston Chronicle reporters can't find them.

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

More Texas Tuesdays Thank You's

By Byron LaMasters

I neglected to include some of the participants in yesterday's Texas Tuesday on my post last night, so again a thank you to everyone who linked to my posts on Texas Tuesday's yesterday, and here's the people I left off my list last night:

Backroads of San Angelo

Easter Lemming Liberal News

Get Donkey!

Stout Dem Blog

The View From the Left

Skeptical Notion

Richard Morrison

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fred Phelps = Nazi

By Byron LaMasters

And no, I'm not engaging in hyperbole. For those of you unaware, Fred Phelps is the guy that pickets funerals (notably Matthew Shepard) of gays and lesbians, people who support gay rights, abortion rights, etc. etc. Via the People's Republic of Seabrook Fred has a new game on his website, GodHatesFags.com called: Fags vs. Kids:

The object of this game is to place exactly 5 sodomites (represented by a pink swastika) and exactly 3 kids (represented by a baby bottle) on the grid to the right, such that none of the sodomites can get their repulsive hands on any of the kids. A sodomite can move any number of spaces in any direction in a straight line (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally).

To place a sodomite on the grid, click once on an empty square.

To place a kid on the grid, click once on a sodomite.

To make a square empty again, click once on a kid.

Here's the final solution:

Anyway, if you've never heard of the guy, check out his website. He makes Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson look like moderates. Some people say it's best to ignore the guy. Giving him attention only boosts his ego and fuels his passion and hatred. It makes sense to some extent. Still, my philosophy in fighting these types of people is a calm, pragmatic approach. While, I've never met the Phelps clan, I have had the opportunity to participate in counter-protests against the radical right-wing organization, Justince For All. While they did not protest this year on the UT campus, they did the two previous years. Justice for All is an anti-abortion organization that displays 15-foot high pictures of aborted fetuses at various stages in development. My freshman year, they reserved the West Mall Rally Space for a week to display their protest. The pro-choice groups on campus were mobilized, but their counterprotests - dumping several thousand wire coat hangers in front of the JFA display, then sitting in a circle and then undoing them (as if they were preparing to perform a coat hanger abortion) - really only served to heighten the tension. I thought of an idea that several PFLAG chapters had done in protesting Fred Phelps. PFLAG had urged people to pledge a donation to some gay youth group or some AIDS organization for every minute that Phelps and his gang protested some event. It worked. PFLAG had raised between several hundred and a couple thousand dollars each time they had used this tactic. So, I dedided that the University Democrats could ask people to pledge even just a dime or a quarter to a pro-choice organization for every hour that JFA protested. It worked. Within a day, we had pledges of over $15 for every hour that JFA protested and they eventually protested about 25 hours (and didn't come back the last day they had the rally space because of our efforts). The pro-choice organizations decided to give the pledged money to the Lilith Fund, an organization that helps fund abortions for low-income women. So, what did Justice for All acheive in their protest? They helped a low-income woman have access to an abortion. Using tactics like this against people like Fred Phelps and their ilk is the only way to get them to stop. They're a great fundraising tool.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sandlin Interview up on Texas Tuesdays

By Byron LaMasters

Gary Beason of Southpaw has just posted twice on Texas Tuesdays on the Max Sandlin race.

First, he has an interview with the candidate posted and second, he has a Sandlin Press release about the lies and distortions by the Gobmert campaign of Max Sandlin's voting record here.

You can't miss the part about Max Sandlin's taste for spicy hot food:

Chili Pepper Magazine called you the “Zestiest Legislator.” Can you still eat eight peppers and chug a bottle of Tabasco sauce?

Two years ago I ate eight peppers and chugged a bottle of Tabasco sauce in five minutes as part of a competition between chili pepper providing states. Last year, I ate 42 peppers in five minutes along with the Tabasco closer.


I wish they would think of a new competition—enough is enough!

I'm with Charles on this one. It's hard not to be amazed with that.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roy Moore to Attend Texas GOP Convention

By Byron LaMasters

Ousted Ten Commandments Judge Roy Moore (R-Ala) will attend the Texas Republican Party Convention in San Antonio this weekend, the Austin American Statesman reports:

The GOP convention will focus on this year's presidential and congressional races but will carry an undeniable undertone of future elections, particularly the 2006 GOP gubernatorial battle that could include some combination of Gov. Rick Perry, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Delegates also will pick a state chairwoman, either incumbent Tina Benkiser, a Houston lawyer, or Gina Parker, a Waco lawyer. The State Republican Executive Committee last year made Benkiser interim chairwoman after Susan Weddington resigned.

Parker will bring a note of controversy to the convention Thursday night when former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is the featured guest at a reception she is holding. Moore was removed from office last year after he defied a court order to take the Ten Commandments out of the Alabama Supreme Court building.

Fine, he's just a guest at a reception, but it's an example of how far outside the mainstream that Republicans in this state will go to convince the party faithful that they're the true conservative in the race.

The Statesman article goes on to identify the debates about the GOP party platform, which I highlighted the other day:

The current platform includes a "Christian Nation" section in which the party "reaffirms the United States of America is a Christian nation which was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible," while also recognizing "the right of each individual to worship in the religion of his or her choice."

In a section on homosexuality, the current platform says, "The party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases."

Kirk Overbey of Austin, chairman of the GOP platform committee, which went to work this week, said he does not expect any significant changes in the document.

The most extreme thing that they could find about Democrats? We have caucuses for gay people:

But in Houston in two weeks, the Democrats could include delegates that some in the GOP might say fall outside the mainstream.

In recent years, the Democratic state conventions have included meetings of caucuses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and for freethinkers, who advocate for a strong separation of church and state.

In a recent Austin speech, Texas Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting said his party represents "the missing middle who share our values but are missing from the mean-spirited policies of the Republican right."


Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:17 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Democrats Can Thank Native Americans Once Again

By Byron LaMasters

For two South Dakota Elections in a row, two small, rural counties have put Democrats Tim Johnson and Stephanie Herseth over the top in their elections. Shannon and Todd Counties are both home to Indian reservations. Both are impoverished and collectively vote about 90% Democratic. Here's how they've made the difference for both Tim Johnson and Stephanie Herseth:

2002 US Senate Race - Johnson v. Thune:

Todd County: Johnson 2027, Thune 464
Shannon County: Johnson 2856, Thune 248

Johnson margin in Todd and Shanon (+4171)

Statewide Margin: Johnson 167481, Thune 166957

Johnson margin statewide (+524)

2004 US House Race Herseth v. Diedrich:

Todd County: Herseth 1646, Diedrich 313
Shannon County: Herseth 1989, Diedrich 138

Herseth margin in Todd and Shannon (+3184)

Statewide Margin: Herseth 132236, Diedrich 129292 (796/798 reporting)

Herseth margin statewide (+2944)

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:05 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Alabama (Roy Moore) Primary Recap

By Byron LaMasters

It looks as if Roy Moore supporters were one for four tonight, but the wing-nuts have taken to a little gloating tonight with the victory of a Roy Moore judge over a pro-business moderate. The AP reports:

A supporter of former state chief justice Roy Moore earned the Republican nomination for a seat on the state's high court Tuesday, but three other candidates who supported Moore's stand on a Ten Commandments monument fell short.

In what amounted to a referendum on Moore's effort to acknowledge God in public buildings, the GOP's business wing for the most part fended off social conservatives intent on keeping the ousted justice's fight alive.

The only high court justice seeking re-election Tuesday, however, lost to former Moore aide Tom Parker. Parker had 105,654 votes, or 51 percent, compared to 102,446 votes, or 49 percent for Associate Justice Jean Brown, with 96 percent of precincts reporting in the unofficial count.

``It was obviously a very difficult race since she outspent us 6-to-1 and had paid staff, where we were able to get by with just an army of volunteers who were so motivated about this issue that they jumped into something that they had not been involved with before,'' Parker said in a telephone interview shortly before his supporters knelt in a prayer of thanksgiving.


Moore supporter Jerry Stokes was in second place and well behind Jefferson County Probate Judge Mike Bolin in a four-way race in another of the three Supreme Court seats up for re-election. But with 96 percent of precincts reporting, Bolin barely had the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff with Stokes.

Shelby County judge Patti M. Smith defeated Pam Baschab, a judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals with Moore's support, in a primary race for the third court seat. Smith had 58 percent of the vote to Baschab's 42 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.

The Ten Commandments issue was little help for Moore's attorney, Phillip Jauregui, who put up a GOP primary challenge to six-term Rep. Spencer Bachus. Bachus trounced Jauregui, garnering 87 percent of the vote with 100 percent of the precincts counted in the congressional district.

So, overall, tonight was a vote for sanity in Alabama, and hopefully Tom Parker can get knocked off in November by the Democrats if he manages to prevail tonight (as the current results seem to suggest).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Texas Tuesdays Wrap-Up

By Byron LaMasters

If you didn't have a chance to check out all of my Texas Tuesday's posts today, check them out now:

  • District 17 Profile
  • Chet Edwards Wins Tough Elections
  • Roll Call Lists TX-17 as "Lean Democratic"
  • Arlene Wohlgemuth: Enemy of Children
  • Chet Edwards Wrap-Up

Here's my wrap-up from Texas Tuesdays:

Thanks again to everyone for a successful Texas Tuesday! While I'm not sure how much we raised for Chet Edwards, we ought to be pleased that there's one more Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives tonight. Stephanie Herseth won a special election in South Dakota tonight and her victory makes Democrats two for two in special elections this year. Both of these special elections were won in districts that President Bush carried decisively in 2000 - something that our candidates that we promote on Texas Tuesday's must also do this November.

Finally, I'd like to thank all of the bloggers who participated in this week's Texas Tuesday:

Burnt Orange Report

Off The Kuff

People's Republic of Seabrook


The Joe Hill Dispatch

The Stakeholder

Roman Candles

100 Monkeys Typing

Alan D Williams

Greg's Opinion

Appalachia Alumni Association

Free State Standard

Thanks again, and if you haven't yet contributed to Chet Edwards, here's the link!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Late Night Freaks

By Byron LaMasters

Maybe I stay up too late. Or maybe people on the Internet at 1:45 in the morning are just freaks, but it kind of freaked me out to check out my latest referrals and realize that within ten minutes, this website was found by a search on MSN for "anal+boils+sex" and a Yahoo Search on "where to find prostitutes in Waco".

Needless to say, I don't think these guys found what they were looking for. Sorry to disappoint...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Herseth Wins!

By Byron LaMasters

South Dakota Public Radio just announced that the AP called the race for Herseth.

With 95% of the returns in, here's the results:


(R) DIEDRICH LARRY 120975 49 765 / 798 reporting
(D) HERSETH STEPHANIE 123961 51 765 / 798 reporting

Update: I posted the picture so Andrew, Jim and every other straight guy out there can gawk at the official, new, hottest member of the United States Congress.

Update 2: Aww, man. Kos is using the same picture. I just can't imagine why...

Update 3: AP Story here.

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

SD-AL: Counting the missing.

By Jim Dallas

The latest results show that 31 boxes (out of 798) are still out. Herseth is up by 2,946 votes. Here is a list of counties with boxes outstanding, and there 2002 Johnson/Thune results. Note that this is all what they call "DefCon Math" in the Army; I may have rounded down when I should have rounded up. At any rate, Pennington and Custer are GOP bastions; Davison is toss-up, and all the rest should be big Dem precincts.

COUNTY (Boxes Out/Total Boxes) ['02 Johnson % (To Nearest 5%)]

PENNINGTON (5/42) [35%]
DAVISON (2/8) [50%]
CUSTER (7/10) [30%]
MINER (2/8) [60%]
SPINK (1/9) [55%]
SHANNON (5/10) [90%]
TODD (9/9) [80%]

Overall, looks like an edge to Herseth.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

While we're waiting...

By Jim Dallas

While we're waiting for the final election results to come in from South Dakota (Herseth is up by 2100 votes with about 40 precincts - including the Reservation Boxes - still out), I'm going to take a moment to do some cinematic criticism. Mostly this is just improv rambling; my karaoke skills don't translate well on the Internet.

Upon re-viewing Kill Bill, Volume 1, it occurred to me that one of the major themes of the series is the exposure of children to violent images. This occurs in several pivotal scenes:

  • Chapter One ("2"): Cottonmouth is assasinated by The Bride in front of her daughter, Nikki.
  • Chapter Three ("The Origin of O-Ren Ishii"): O-Ren's parents are killed by Boss Matsumoto in the "anime" interlude.
  • Chapter Five ('Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves'): Seventeen year-old Gogo, O-Ren's protege, seems caught between childlike innocence and "adult reality" (yes, the almost absurd level of violence in the film is the "adult reality" I speak of).
  • Chapter Ten: The last scenes of Volume 2, in which The Bride busts in on Bill -- and her daughter.

In several interviews, Tarentino has suggested that The Bride is semi-autobiographical; is he starting to get old and "parental"?

Anyhow, the Kill Bill movies could make for endless essay excitement for freshman English students next fall. At least if they have cool TAs.

Now, back to bidness...

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

Romero Wins Chance to Take on Heather Wilson Again

By Byron LaMasters

In a race of some interest to bloggers, New Mexico State Senate President Richard Romero won the Democratic nomination tonight to take on Heather Wilson for the second cycle in a row. He defeated Miles Nelson, who ran a grassroots campaign and ran BlogAds on this site and many others. It's a shame, because Nelson looked to be a strong candidate that could have beaten Wilson. However, Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Romero in the closing days and helped boost his campaign when it looked like it might be in trouble. Anyway, here's the results:

U.S. House Dist 1 Dem -- 416 of 448 precincts reporting (93%)

Dist 1 Dem

Richard M. Romero 19,930 58%
Miles Jay Nelson 14,313 42%

Update: On both New Mexico primary races with 100% reporting in CD 1 -

U.S. House Dist 1 Dem -- 448 of 448 precincts reporting (100%)
Dist 1 Dem

Richard M. Romero 20,507 58% (X)
Miles Jay Nelson 14,684 42%

U.S. House Dist 2 Dem -- 483 of 515 precincts reporting (94%)
Dist 2 Dem

Gary King 20,306 64% (X)
Jeff Steinborn 11,643 36%

King is a former state legislator, and the son of the former governor of New Mexico, Bruce King.

Kos has more.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Austin Smoking Ban Goes into Effect... Sorta

By Byron LaMasters

A much watered down smoking ordinance is going into effect in Austin today. I'm probably one of the few people that are relatively ambivalent about it. I don't smoke, but it doesn't bother me too much, so anyway, here's the story:

Austin's new smoking ordinance goes into effect today, and though it is not nearly as strong as anti-smoking advocates had hoped, the law will at least initially reduce the number of restaurants and bars where customers can light up.

The law requires restaurants to construct enclosed smoking sections with separate ventilation systems if they want to continue to allow smoking. As of last week, only 12 of the city's 245 restaurants had applied for or received a city smoking permit.

Bars, on the other hand, only have to pay the $300 annual permit fee to continue to allow smoking. As of last week, the city was processing 97 permit applications out of its estimated 1,000 bars. City officials expect to see more applications in coming weeks.


A year ago, the Austin City Council passed virtually a smoking ban in restaurants and bars. That ordinance never went into effect and was replaced with the current version in October by a new City Council.

The new ordinance requires establishments that get less than 70 percent of revenue from alcohol to construct smoking sections or ban smoking and all others to get permits if they want to allow smoking. Money from smoking permits will go to enforcement and tobacco education, officials said.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Crazy Man is Baaack

By Byron LaMasters

David Duke is out of prison - and he still has supporters, even after stealing their money:

Fresh out of prison for bilking supporters, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke hosted a weekend gathering of enthusiastic backers eager to hear him as he lashed out at Jews, blacks, immigrants and the “Zionist-controlled media.”

About 250 of them chanted “Duke! Duke!” as he took the stage Saturday night during his “unity and leadership conference.” None cared that he had just served time for swindling contributors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a direct mail scheme.

So when can we send this nutcase back to prison?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stenholm has a blog

By Jim Dallas

Who'd a thunk it.

Hat tip to the D-Triple-C.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Texas Tuesday: Chet Edwards

By Byron LaMasters

I just posted on Texas Tuesdays.com on the Chet Edwards race for Congress in the new 17th district. I'll be posting on the race several more times today, so be sure to check out Texas Tuesdays throughout the day.

For those of you that haven't kept up to date, Chet Edwards is the only Democrat in a highly competetive congressional race in Texas where Roll Call lists the race as "Lean Democratic". Edwards is also facing the extreme right-wing (Club for Growth backed) State Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, who as a member of the Texas House took the lead in cutting thousands of kids off the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There's a clear difference between Edwards and Wohlgemuth, and Edwards needs our support.

Check out Edwards webpage and Contribute to his campaign online. Please add on an extra $0.36 to let him know that it came from the Texas Tuesday effort.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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