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November 30, 2004

The Hispanic Vote in Dallas County...

By Byron LaMasters

Is decisive. One of my Winter Break projects is to crunch the numbers in Dallas County, and figure out how Democrats can strategically use their resources to sweep the county in 2006. Democrats won six of twelve countywide races this year in which there was a Democrat and a Republican on the ballot. According to one study, there was one key difference between the Democrats that won Dallas County, and the Democrats that lost Dallas County -- the Hispanic vote. Via the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas County Sheriff-elect Lupe Valdez and judicial candidate Don Adams effectively used the Dallas County Hispanic vote to get elected.

According to a study just released by Dallas mathematician and political consultant Dr. Dan Weiser, Ms. Valdez and Mr. Adams got 60 percent or more of the Hispanic vote and 88 percent or more of the black vote.

They won.

In contrast, Mr. Kerry got 88 percent of the black vote, but only 56 percent of the Hispanic vote.

He narrowly lost Dallas County to Mr. Bush.

All three Democratic candidates got 40 percent of the white vote.

Dr. Weiser says the rise of the Hispanic electorate here signals that the county is trending Democratic.

Dallas County is extremely winnable for Democrats in years to come. If Democrats can win 40%+ of the White vote, demographics should make it easy to win assuming we turn out our base, and maintain our advantage among Hispanics. Having a Hispanic woman (Lupe Valdez) leading the county ticket in 2004 probably helped in that regard.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:00 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

That Old Time Religion

By Jim Dallas

One of my favorite Internet toys is the NORC's General Social Survey analysis site.

Here's an interesting statistic I discovered running the cross-tabulations module:

Of white "Strong Democrats", 77.3 percent either "know God exists" or "believe but have doubts" (334 respondants of 432 between 1992 and 2002). 58.8 percent "know God exists."

Of white "Strong Republicans", 88.1 percent do. (449 respondants of 510). 76.1 percent "know God exists"


Of white "Strong Democrats", 44.4 percent believed that hell "definitely" exists (36 of 81 respondants). 48.1 percent believe in religious miracles (39 of 81)

Of white "Strong Republicans", 69.8 percent believe that hell "definitely" exists
(67 of 96 respondants). 64.1 believe in religious miracles (59 of 92).

Ponder that. A pretty strong majority of both hard-core Democrats and hard-core Republicans believe in God, but Republicans by far are a lot more likely to believe in damnation and miracles.

What is really odd is that there doesn't seem to be a strong partisan divide over the nature of the Bible; white "Strong Republicans" seem to be slightly more likely to think the Bible is the literal Word of God, but only by about 10 points or so. Not like the big 30 point divide over hell.

I don't think that "literalism" or "fundamentalism" are the sine qua non of religious conservatism (which, let us stipulate, is a far more powerful force in the Republican Party); rather, I think, it's rooted in a sort of mysticism.

What I'd like to see is a partisan breakdown of belief in faeries and angels.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Frost for DNC?

By Byron LaMasters

He's making the calls. The AP reports:

Defeated Texas Congressman Martin Frost is among potential candidates for chairman of the Democratic National Committee who are telephoning members about the situation, a leading Democrat said Monday.

"The following candidates are making phone calls to DNC members -- Howard Dean, Donnie Fowler, Martin Frost and Leo Hindery," said Mark Brewer, party chairman in Michigan and president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs.


Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb has sent videos to the state chairmen promoting his interest in the job, Brewer said. Fowler is a Democratic strategist and son of a former national chairman. Hindery is a New York businessman and former chairman of the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network LLC, a New York-based sports cable channel that televises New York Yankees baseball games.

Frost spokeswoman Susan McAvoy said: "Martin is taking some calls and has placed some calls" but emphasized he was merely exploring possibilities.

As a Democrat who grew up in Dallas, I've always been a fan of Martin Frost. Still, I think that my first choice would be Simon Rosenberg, and while I haven't done much posting on the DNC race, I'll be sure to post more on the DNC race in the next two months.

More thoughts from Political State Report and MyDD.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Stick, Opiela Contesting Stealing Elections

By Byron LaMasters

I can see the point of one commenter on Andrew's post with this one. Why is Jack Stick contesting the election of Mark Strama? Only challenging the elections of a Hispanic woman (Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles), and a Vietnamese-American man (Hubert Vo) would just kinda look bad, and might give some folks the wrong impression that Republicans in Texas only want to steal elections against minorities. So what's the solution? Throw in a challenge against a White guy, too.

The Austin American Statesman reports:

Republican state Rep. Jack Stick of Austin has become the latest House candidate to file a challenge over his Election Day defeat.

Democrat Mark Strama defeated Stick by 569 votes. Stick filed a challenge with the Texas House of Representatives through the Texas Secretary of State's Office on Thursday.

So yall know what to do. Donate to Mark Strama so he can afford to defend himself from those who want to usurp the democratic process and steal elections. (Strama also has a good deal of campaign debt, so your contribution will help retire that as well).

The San Antonio Express News has more:

A Republican legislator from Travis County, unseated by a challenger Nov. 2, has filed paperwork asking the GOP-majority Texas House to reverse the results and award him the seat or call a new election.


Earlier last week, Rep. Talmadge Heflin of Houston filed a contest of his 32-vote loss to Hubert Vo, his Democratic challenger, and Eric Opiela of Karnes City filed a contest of his 835-vote defeat at the hands of Democratic candidate Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles of Alice.

Vince has more over at Political State Report. When will Republicans stop trying to steal elections? Here's what the Austin American Statesman said in their editorial today:

Defeated state Rep. Talmadge Heflin of Houston is giving his Republican colleagues in the Texas House a major league headache by asking them to overturn election results that cost him his job.


It could be disastrous for the GOP if the committee recommends overturning Vo's victory and the full House membership seats Heflin. Vo is a Vietnamese immigrant who came to America after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and worked his way into a successful career in computer sales and real estate. His victory is not one the House Republicans can plunder without immense fallout.

Republicans already are accused of gerrymandering to assure the outcome of elections, of grabbing power voters didn't give them and changing the rules to protect their leaders. Awarding a House seat to a favored member who lost the vote could only be viewed as election theft through uncontained GOP arrogance.

Majority party arrogance is an issue nationally as well as in Texas. U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who strong-armed the Legislature into the redistricting mess that the U.S. Supreme Court has questioned, has serious ethical problems. The U.S. House this month changed its rules to protect DeLay in the event he is indicted for campaign violations.


Heflin is asking his House colleagues to give him the seat he didn't win anyway. They should reject that path because it is the way to more rancor, bitterness and another disastrous legislative session.

The Texas Democratic Party has the wall of shame on their website for the three thieves:

After Democrats gained seats in the Legislature for the first time in a generation Republicans are getting desperate. Three of the defeated incumbents are trying to steal the elections right before our eyes, filing election contests in the Craddick Cartel run House. Talmadge Heflin was narrowly defeated by Democrat Hubert Vo, Jack Stick was beat by more than 500 votes by Democrat Mark Strama and Eric Opiela was defeated by almost a thousand votes by Democrat Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles, and now all of them want to overthrow the will of the people. Keep checking with TXDemocrats.org to find out the latest on GOP attempts to deny the people the representatives they chose!

With the exception that Eric Opiela is not an incumbent, it's hard to argue with the TDP folks. More thoughts on the election contests at mUUsings.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:06 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 29, 2004

Poor Aggies Continued

By Byron LaMasters

I HAD to take a picture of this when I saw it today...

You'll see the sign on your left going northbound on Guadalupe just north of campus. Kerbey Lane is a favorite campus area hangout. It has that grungy / granola "old Austin" feel to it. It's open 24/7, and they've got Kerbey Queso to die for, even if their service is well... a bit lacking at times (meaning all the time).

Speaking of Kerbey... a little bird told me that Howard Dean was spotted at Kerbey Lane a few weeks ago. Apparently, he was in town for some tournament that his daughter was in, but made no public appearances -- just a few very small, private events with old supporters. And yes, he's sending out feelers for a run for DNC chair, although I'm personally more of a fan of Simon Rosenberg.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Recounts Begin in Heflin Case- GOP Files Contests

By Andrew Dobbs

So my prognosis on the Heflin-Vo race seems to be only half right- Heflin will most likely ask for a contest (seeing as his attorney is still making ludicrious claims of fraud), but I figured he wouldn't call for a recount as that would reduce the viability of his claim to have actually won the election. I was wrong on that count. Heflin requested a recount last week and that recount begins tomorrow in Harris County.

Now why are the claims of fraud ludicrous? As I've said before- to steal an election you have to control the people who count the votes. The votes were counted by a Republican, there were a dozen Republican operatives overseeing the process alongside her, Tom DeLay's favorite attorney (and Heflin's counsel in this case) Andy Taylor was looking over her shoulder as well and several members of the news media were keeping an eye on the process. So 14 tough, DeLay friendly Republicans decided to steal an election for a Democrat over a longtime Craddick/DeLay ally? Unlikely.

Now the fear is that the elections supervisors will cherry pick the boxes to recount- looking just in heavily Vo boxes. This is wrong- if they want to recount the vote, fine. But they should count EVERY vote and see why it is that Vo's victory margin went from 110 votes to 31 votes in the middle of the night when the election supervisor had already gone home. The process raised the eyebrows of even Republican Secretary of State Geoff Connor to the point he had to admonish the elections workers in Houston. So if anybody is guilty of some dirty dealings, it would have to be the GOP.

Heflin will ask for a recount, he'll try to cherry pick the boxes to reduce his own risk of losing votes and he'll either end up with a win there or he'll contest the election in the House on the grounds of "massive irregularities" which could only have happened if more than a dozen rock-ribbed Republicans decided they wanted to elect a Democrat. Word on the street is that Heflin could care less about this- he's disappointed but he knows that a lucrative lobbyist job is his for the taking. Craddick is the one pushing this, this is a top-down sort of effort. The GOP is using its institutional power to steal an election.

And two other races are now up in the air- Jack Stick (who lost by more than 350 votes to Mark Strama) and Eric Opiela (who lost by several hundred votes to Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles) have filed contests in the House, just like Heflin is likely to do. Craddick now gets to pick the judge and jury for these cases and either Strama and Gonzalez-Toureilles will be seated or new elections will be held. This process is sure to be a sham, and the people of Texas will lose money, lose faith in their elected officials, and lose the peace of mind knowing that their vote counts for something- no matter who they elect. The GOP is ruining Texas politics.

This is just the latest in a long string of Republican abuses of power, a rejection of the will of the voters when it goes against their hopes. When Clinton was reelected, they decided to impeach him. When Al Gore won the popular vote and probably won Florida, Republicans stopped his recount in order to take the presidency. When Texas voters elected Democrats to Congress even in GOP districts, Republicans redrew the districts to force Republicans into office. When Gray Davis was reelected governor of California, Republicans paid for a huge petition effort to get him kicked out of office early. And now they are trying to cancel legal elections so they can keep 3 new Democratic faces out of the legislature. The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach and represents the biggest reason to oppose this party, whether you are conservative, liberal or otherwise.

Keep your eyes open and keep checking BOR for your news on this topic.

Update: Turns out Heflin already filed the contest in addition to the recount. If the recount comes out for Vo, his ground in the contest hearings will be severely limited. The recount should come out for Vo and it will be very interesting to see what will happen.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 05:02 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Contact Your Rep-Elect on the DeLay Rule Change

By Byron LaMasters

The Daily DeLay and Josh Marshall have been doing a fantastic job hounding Republican congressmen on their vote on the DeLay rule change. However, I still don't know if or how my Republican Congressman-Elect, Michael McCaul voted. Since new members will probably not yet have D.C. and district offices set up until after the begining of the year, I had no way to contact my congressman-elect (even though Lloyd Doggett is still my honorary congressman, and should I have a federal concern, my mail will most likely go to his office). I mentioned this in a post last week, and sure enough, one of my readers emailed me with contact information for the five Texas Republican Congressmen-Elect.

DISTRICT 1: Louie Gohmert - 903/579-7544
DISTRICT 2: Ted Poe - 281/358-8866
DISTRICT 10: Michael T. McCaul - 512/342-0001
DISTRICT 11: Mike Conaway - 432/685-1033
DISTRICT 24: Kenneth Marchant - 972/245-3311

So, if you live in any of these districts, please call their office and ask how they voted on the Tom DeLay rule. Here's my sample script that I used:

Hi there. My name is __________. Is this the correct contact number for Congressman-Elect ________?

Ok. Well, I was just calling as a concerned voter, and as a new member of congress I know he's probably busy setting up constituent service contact information and such, but I was under the impression that congressmen-elect are able to vote in party caucus meetings? Is that correct?

Well, I was interested in Rep-Elect ________'s vote on the rule change in the House Republican caucus to allow indicted members to serve in the party leadership? Can you tell me how Rep-Elect _______ voted?

I have messages into all five. I'm not expecting a reply from the other four, but I'll keep calling Rep-Elect McCaul everyday until I get a reply, since I am his constituent after all (they drew central Austin into his district, so he'll have to deal with us). I honestly do not know the GOP House caucus rules on the issue. I would be shocked if any of them voted against the DeLay rule. These guys not only owe their victory to Tom DeLay -- none of them would have even run for congress in 2004 without the DeLay/Craddick redistricting saga. I know that Democrats allow Representatives-Elect to vote in their party caucus votes. Two years ago the Democratic candidate for CO-7 (in an undecided race at the time) was the decisive vote that elected Robert Menendez (D-NJ) the caucus chair over Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). I don't know what the deal is with Republicans, but I figure that it's time to find out. So call your Rep-Elect, and let me know via comment or email ( Byron AT BurntOrangeReport DOT com) what you find out.

Update: Ted Poe's office just called me back. They said that Congressmen-Elect have no voting privledges in caucus elections until they are actually sworn in. That's not the case in the Democratic caucus, but I have no idea what the GOP caucus rules are. I'm still going to be sure to get an answer from Rep-Elect McCaul's office, and you all are welcome to call the other guys as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

Goodbye, Vince

By Byron LaMasters

Well, not really. He'll still be around. Vince has decided to shut down his blog, the Free State Standard - one of the half dozen or so Texas blogs I try to check most every day. Vince had to take a leave of absense from blogging while he was working on a campaign the past couple of months, and its difficult to build back an audience if you quit for awhile (I guess that is unless you were the Bush Campaign webmaster or the other half of Markos Zuniga's consulting firm). But not all of us are that lucky.

Vince will still be around, though. He'll continue to write at the Van Zandt County Democrats Blog (he's the county chair) and the Political State Report (which reminds me, I need to add PSR to my blogroll, and maybe post on there again). I'm sure that Vince will also contribute to whatever we decide to do with Texas Tuesdays. Anyway, best of luck, Vince.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

You Get What You Vote For

By Byron LaMasters

Yesterday, I was chatting with my friend Chris who was complaining about his unwanted Republican troll posting comments on his blog.

Then today the good folks over at the Panhandle Truth Squad respond to their Republican commenters by telling them exactly what they voted for. I could have used some of those points when I ran into a friend in Dallas over Thanksgiving that I hadn't talked to since the election who voted for Bush.

Personally, I'm thankful for our Republican commenters. Even though they might think that I'm anti-Christian and intolerant, this is our blog, we have the final say, and that's good enough for me. If you aren't willing to take a little heat from time to time, you shouldn't allow comments in the first place.

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

I Demand A Recount In Ohio!

By Jim Dallas

58-48... Bengals?!?

"It was crazy," said the Bengals' Rudi Johnson, who ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns. "Just crazy."

The 106 combined points were the second most in an NFL game, trailing only the Redskins' 72-41 victory over the Giants on Nov. 27, 1966. Until Sunday, the most points in a game since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 was 99 - Seattle beat Kansas City 51-48 in overtime on Nov. 27, 1983.

By far, though, the most fulfilling game of the day was watching the Texans stuff the Titans (or as I like to call them, the fake Oilers versus the ex-Oilers), coming from waaay behind to win the game 31-21 in Houston. In part, though, the spectacle occurred because the Titans offense completely melted down in the second half, with three big turnovers.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let the Bloodbath Begin

By Byron LaMasters

Also known as the 2006 GOP primary for governor in Texas.

Free State Standard has the latest.

A little known provision in the end of the year congressional spending bill allows for candidates to spend money raised for a federal race to be spent on state / local races subject to state law. Of course, Texas being Texas means that our state campaign finance laws are minimal to nil. Thus, this bill would allow Senator Hutchison to spend the $6.7 million in her federal account for a race for governor. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Governor Perry responded by trying to push through a change in state law that would prevent Hutchison from spending her federal money. I just hope they're both able to raise and spend as much money as possible, so they can saturate the Texas airwaves starting just about a year from now saying nasty things about one another. That would make for a most joyful holiday season.

I'll be watching the endorsements line up in the race as it heats up. Rick Perry already has a big one. Former candidate for Texas governor, Clayton "Rape: just lie back and enjoy it" Williams has endorsed Rick Perry for reelection over either Comptroller Strayhorn or Senator Hutchison. Alright then, I guess that Rick Perry now has the people-who-think-anologies-comparing-rape-to-weather-are-funny vote locked up. I wonder who will be endorsing next?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 27, 2004

Poor Aggies

By Byron LaMasters

Well, it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving weekend without my writing a Poor Aggies post. However, it's really "Poor Longhorns" again this year. Yeah, we beat the Aggies again in one of the more bizarre football games (at least the first half) I've ever seen -- how often are three missed (combined) extra points followed up by 44 and 52 yard field goals? And what's up with a one-point safety?

Still, we put together a damn good football team. The 26-13 score doesn't give justice to the degree that the Longhorns dominated the last three quarters of the game. If we had a timeout at the end of the first half, and had been a bit less classy at the end of the game, that 26-13 victory could have easily had been 40-6. Go back and give us a couple of touchdowns against Oklahoma (ok, I know that's asking a lot), and we'd most likely be competing for the national championship come January. Coulda, woulda, shoulda won't a change thing. But it's also not fair that one of the best football teams in the country has to hope that some computer formula will arbitarily rank us ahead of California to even get a BCS bid. That's just about as stupid as creationism if you ask me. The system needs change, and its good to see Mack Brown leading the fight.

"This is one of best teams in the country," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "This team deserves to play in the BCS and if they don't, then we don't have a system (that works)."

Amen to that.

Update: More thoughts at the People's Republic of Seabrook.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:39 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 25, 2004

I'm Thankful For Rich Alumni

By Zach Neumann

I was going to bitch about Iran tonight, but I find this story about UT Alum Joe Jamail a lot more entertaining (and less depressing). The NY Times writes:

Of the more than a dozen statues peppering the University of Texas campus here, one glorifies the first native-born governor, two pay tribute to deceased American presidents, and others honor Confederate leaders. Another statue is poised to join the cast on Friday, honoring a graduate who is a successful trial lawyer. The subject, Joe Jamail, a Houston alumnus who has donated $21.7 million to the university and its athletic programs, already has one bronze likeness at the law school and his name is on several campus sites. The newest statue of Mr. Jamail, who won billions of dollars for Pennzoil in a landmark suit in the 1980's, is scheduled to be unveiled inside the football stadium before the annual game against archrival Texas A&M. "It is absolutely appropriate to say thank you," said William Powers Jr., dean of the University of Texas Law School. "He is an avid Longhorn sports fan." But not everyone looks forward to another likeness. The statue, a donation from the law firm of Vinson & Elkins in Houston, makes Mr. Jamail the only person with two on the 350-acre campus, university officials say, and that distinction has rankled some faculty members. "One is enough, with due respect to whoever," said a journalism professor, Gene Burd. Professor Burd added that, at a time when public universities are desperate for money because of fluctuations in state financing, the new statue sent the wrong signal for people "who see this as another white male capitalist." "Considering all the talk about other statues, it is almost asking for a demonstration or incident," he added.

I’ve got no problem with white-male-capitalists, especially when they keep our football team on top. Speaking of which, I’m calling tomorrow’s game for Texas, 35-21.

Posted by Zach Neumann at 11:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Biology Blues

By Andrea M.

George Bush wants more money for Abstinence Only programs.

I'm not sure this is worth $131 million...

(By the way, Happy Thanksgiving, all...:))

This plan is yet another attempt to not only legislate morality, but to show the Christian right that Bush and his minions are ready to play ball with them. It is a dog and pony show, pure and simple. As the gay marriage issue scared people witless into thinking that Adam and Steve on the next block's legal union would shatter the sanctity of marriage, this is a shameless ploy into scaring people, thinking that Susie and Johnny are going to engage in teenage sexual escapades as a result of high school biology classes offering a comprehensive cirriculum that includes methods of birth control.

If properly taught, a comprehensive sex ed program, as opposed to Abstinence Only, is more effective in saving the kids' lives. There is no evidence that Abstinence Only works--as a matter of fact, I have read evidence to the contrary. Do some high schoolers have sex? Yes. Is it a good idea? No, not really. Abstinence education, while it should be taught as part of a program, does not offer education regarding birth control and statistics (it's usually a good idea to prevent unwanted pregnancies), and correct condom use, which, as we all know, prevents many STDs. Abstinence is a good idea, not it is not always a reality. It should be part of the cirriculum, not the whole.

A personal aside here--my sex ed began in 4th grade. It was more thorough beginning in 7th grade and going through high school. The cirriculum included topics such as birth control, STDs, pregnancy, and their consequences. However, here were additional topics such as self-esteem discussions, statistics of birth control failure, and in middle school, a very graphic video of a woman giving birth that scared every female silly. We discussed consequences at length--health-wise, life-wise, stressing that girls who gave birth during high school had a much harder time and were very likely to drop out, therefore possibly forgoing college and a good career. No one I know was inspired to hook up because they could get a condom in school or knew about birth control and sexual consequences. Those who were already sexually active were at least more informed, and protected. They had a better idea of possible outcomes of their actions.

Although I do believe that Bush is concerned about the nation's youth to some extent--after all, he has two daughters--his shameless pandering to the Christian right will inevitably leave millions of young people grossly uninformed, and may lead to increased teen pregnancies and a declivity in propho use, which can result in a serious STD epidemic. Students often get all of their sex ed at school, and they deserve to be informed. We owe it to the next generation to keep them safe and healthy so they can be our future leaders. And Bush owes it to them to finally act like the fiscal conservative he claims to be by refraining from asking for millions of dollars for a program that has yet to prove successful.

Posted by Andrea M. at 10:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Happy Thanksgiving

By Jim Dallas

Go Colts!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We've always been at war against Eurasia

By Jim Dallas

Vladimir Putin is the next Saddam Hussein. That is, by the magic of popular amnesia, in five years Americans are absolutely gonna hate this guy, despite the fact that our conservative leaders were going gaa-gaa over him.

It was only a few months ago when righties were absolutely giddy about Putin being "tuff on terror" (just like our President!). Dubya looked into his soul. Putin returned the compliment with a nice endorsement. Meanwhile, liberals, such as myself, have always had a queasy feeling about Putin. I'll admit it - from the very begininng, I was hoping that a nice liberal or social democrat would win the Russian election so that we could be happy hippy comrades. But since, I've had serious concerns about efforts to crack down on the freedom of the press, the whole Chechnya mess, and the fact that Putin was KGB. And then of course last week's announcement about nukes.

Now that the Russians are looking like they're ready to party like it's 1979 as the Ukraine post-election drama unfolds, there appears to be a little bit of a falling out. My cybernemesis, Canadian blogger Adam Yoshida, (almost) goes as far as comparing Russia to Nazi Germany.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Give Thanks

By Andrew Dobbs

Today is the national day of Thanksgiving. Peter Jennings referred to it tonight as the "singular American holiday"- the only holiday that is unique to our country and universal to all of our people. Let's keep the spirit of that holiday alive by remembering what we have to be thankful for.

We ought to be thankful, first and foremost, for the brave men and women fighting for our freedom and the freedom of faraway peoples in Iraq and Afghanistan. It saddens me that I won't see my father this year, but I know that what he is doing will make every Thanksgiving I have from here on out that much sweeter. They sacrifice everything and take a road less traveled these days so that we can all live happily. When we travel on safe roads and through safe skies, gather in warm homes, laugh and pray freely and speak openly about our opinions, let's remember that those men and women are the reason we have this freedom and comfort- because they sacrificed theirs.

Remember also that we can be thankful to live in this country. Yeah, we lost an election. But there wasn't violence in the streets, there weren't mass arrests of Kerry supporters, we are safe despite our opposition to the president. 5 snot-nosed kids can write a blog that bashes the president and his colleagues almost every single day and not one of us sleeps in fear or worries about our families' safety. Our country has been through much worse than 4 more years of George W. Bush and we're still here. We'll be fine- and that is something to be thankful for.

Finally, be thankful that God's grace gives us so much to share with those we love on this day. I hope that all of you are near the ones you love today, and if you aren't, I hope that you can find something to give thanks for regardless. We live in a place where there is so much to be had, so much opportunity, so much generosity and so much decency as opposed to lands full of want, greed and hate. Over the last 3 years, because of our strength, we managed to put 2 more countries on the road from cruelty to hope. Let's hope that we can continue to use our power, wealth and opportunity for ends as righteous as these for as long as we live.

And one last thing- I am thankful to all of you out there who read what we have to say. It gives us a way to affect our world, even when we feel small. Keep on coming, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:28 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 24, 2004

Why simply rebranding won't work

By Jim Dallas

I like Oliver Willis, but it sure didn't take long for the twits* to turn the tables on us.

* by which I mean, those Republican apologists who are so smug as to be completely intolerable and worthless to us, politically speaking (as in, when you add up the people who are persuadable, they ain't them). I'm sure there are probably a few loyal readers of the conservative bent who think the same about me, for what its worth. Why resort to name-calling then? Because sometimes it's just inevitable, and I'd like to get the first shot in.

* Is anyone else disturbed by the cognitive dissonance that said twits employ, when, for example, they remind us (correctly) that some Democrats were right-wing crazies (e.g. segregationists), but then accuse us of all being left-wing crazies (e.g. Stalinists)?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Thieves and Thugs

By Byron LaMasters

Otherwise known as the Texas Republican Party.

A lot of readers have emailed me, encouraging me to take a harder line in my previous posts on the Heflin / Vo race. I actually agreed with the Republican commenters who asked why it was alright for Al Gore to ask for a recount, but not for Talmadge Heflin. Asking for a recount was the right thing to do. Any race decided by 500 votes when millions are cast, or by 32 when over 40,000 are cast should have a recount. If I were a candidate on the short end of such a situation, you can damn well bet I'd want a recount, if for no other reason than to have peace of mind in defeat.

So, Talmadge Heflin asked for a recount, and I had no problem with it.

Now, Talmadge Heflin wants to usurp the democratic process, ignore the will of the people of house district 149, and steal an election that he lost to a Vietnamese-American immigrant and first time candidate Hubert Vo.

That makes Talmadge Heflin (and his lawyer Andy Taylor, and their buddies in the Texas GOP) a thuggish thief in my book.

Last year, Texas Republicans engaged in an unprecidented mid-decade congressional redistricting so that politicians could pick their voters, instead of voters picking their politicians. This year, Texas Republicans are taking things a step further. As Jim noted, there is talk of contesting not one, not two, but three elections in the state house. This is worse than politicians picking their voters. This is having the politician with the most money hiring the toughest lawyer to argue which votes count in front of a rigged jury. Pure thuggery.

So what can you do? First of all, donate to Hubert Vo. Vo will need to spend tons of money on lawyer fees to defend his election in the state house. Second, head on over to Greg's Opinion for a whole list of things that you can do.

Finally, I've archived the Houston Chronicle story on the race today in the extended entry, so we'll have the full story here once the Chronicle archive expires.

State Rep. Talmadge Heflin asked the state House of Representatives today to overturn the results of his failed re-election bid and either order him returned to the Legislature or call for a new election.

Heflin's attorney, Andy Taylor, said the election results in state House District 149 in southwest Harris County were fraught with voting irregularities and potential fraud, most of which occurred in predominantly Democratic precincts.

"The true outcome of this election was stolen from the voters in House District 149," Taylor said Tuesday. "We will prove that Representative Talmadge Heflin was re-elected."

Heflin, a Republican member of the House since 1983 and chairman of its Appropriations Committee, lost to Democratic businessman Hubert Vo by 32 votes earlier this month. But Heflin's campaign alleges that those election results include at least 248 irregularities that could have altered the outcome.

Taylor said he will file notice today that the Heflin campaign intends to contest the election in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. That will require that House Speaker Tom Craddick order a House committee to investigate Heflin's allegations.

After the committee reports its findings, the full House will decide whether to seat Vo or Heflin or call for a new election. The House's decision will be binding, said a spokesman for the Texas secretary of state's office.

A decision by the House committee, which would have subpoena power and take depositions, would likely come no sooner than late January. The Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 11, and Vo would be limited to voting only on procedural matters until the dispute is resolved, the secretary of state's spokesman said.

Although there have been several election contests in the Texas House in recent years, none has reversed an election result, and most were withdrawn after they were filed.

Officials with the Vo campaign have said they are confident that their candidate won a fair election and have called on Heflin to concede.

Taylor said a review of county voting records from the Nov. 2 election shows that 101 voters were allowed to vote in the district illegally despite having moved out of Harris County. Twenty-seven voters were allowed to cast their ballots twice, he said — once in early voting and again on Election Day.

The Heflin campaign also found at least 120 other cases in which ineligible voters were allowed to vote or eligible voters were not allowed to cast ballots, Taylor said. The overwhelming number of those irregularities occurred in Democratic-leaning precincts that supported Vo's election, he said.

"I don't know if that's the result of human error, negligence or outright intentional wrongdoing," Taylor said. "We won't know until evidence is obtained under oath in connection with our election contest."

Heflin and Taylor have scheduled a news conference this afternoon to discuss their plans for the contest. Taylor said the campaign also intends to forward its findings to Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal.

Heflin's decision to contest the election is part of a two-pronged effort to return him to the Legislature. On Monday, Heflin requested a manual recount of all ballots cast in the election.

His best chance for recapturing his House seat probably lies with the election contest because the recount is not allowed to go into the issues of voting irregularities but must focus exclusively on the ballots cast in the election.

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, the county's voter registrar, said Tuesday that he was somewhat familiar with the Heflin campaign's allegations.

Bettencourt, a Republican, agreed that many of the allegations raised by the campaign would involve illegal votes, but he said such votes are not uncommon in large elections.

Bettencourt said that in the heat of conducting an election, precinct judges often mistakenly allow ineligible voters to cast their ballots or reject ballots from eligible voters.

The number of such complaints is usually too small to affect an election's outcome, he said, although it could have an impact in an election as close as the Heflin-Vo race.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How did your Congressman Vote on the DeLay Rule?

By Byron LaMasters

The Daily DeLay and Josh Marshall have been doing great work in outting the GOP congresscritters who voted their values in allowing an indicted member to lead their caucus. The Daily DeLay has categorized the GOP House caucus into these groups:

Shays Handful (25) voted AGAINST the DeLay Rule
Refusers (14) simply REFUSED to say how they voted
Letter Writers (28) will WRITE LETTERS TO CONSTITUENTS with their vote
Loud and (Not So) Proud (53) voted FOR the DeLay Rule
Did Not Vote (29) NOT VOTING for a variety of reasons
What is the Story? (1) cannot get a STRAIGHT STORY about what they think

My only complaint is that nothing is listed for representatives-elect. It's hard to contact those folks, because they're just getting their office staff in place, and don't have their D.C. or district offices set up yet, BUT they do have a vote in caucus elections. So as soon as I get contact information for the new Republican Congressmen in Texas, I'll be sure to post it so we can start badgering these guys. (Although I'd be shocked if any of them voted against the DeLay rule. Tom DeLay got Marchant, Poe, Gohmert and McCaul elected, so I fully expect them all to be Tom DeLay's bitch on basically everything).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The internal logic of "election stealing"

By Jim Dallas

What exactly, praytell, are Tal Heflin, Eric Opiela, and possibly Ken Mercer smoking?

It's true, you can't take the politics out of politics, but asking for election challenges is a sure fire way to make the 79th Texas Legislature just as polarized and miserable as the 78th. And even if they do win, they get... a new election. When George W. Bush is not on the ballot. In districts where they apparently already lost and which are (in sum) getting more Democratic (particularly District 149). Surely they just want to hand us a big issue to lash them with for two more years?

And remember, control of the House is not resting on these challenges. It's the difference between the Republicans having a lot of power in Austin and having... a lot of power in Austin. The law of diminishing marginal returns applies in politics.

Finally, if the Republicans want to indulge in silly, paranoid theories about election thievery, then why don't they just go ahead and challenge Ohio or Florida's electoral votes when the new Congress meets in January? We're cool with that. After all, if the election was corrupt in Alief, it could be corrupt anywhere!

Granted, there are times to be paranoid. If I were Christine Gregoire or Dino Rossi, I'd be pretty paranoid right now. We're not talking about the presidency, or a governorship. We're talking about three seats in the Lege which won't affect the balance of power.

I've never seen folks fight over a $8,000 a year job like this before, and I don't think it's because any kind of Marxian "crisis of capitalism" is forcing lowly proles like Heflin to "fight or starve." McDonald's is hiring, Mr. Chairman.


But I can't possibly see any reason for Republicans, in Texas, (aside from ego) for launching a temper tantrum over this. I'm for counting every vote, not for having a new vote just because Tom Craddick didn't like the outcome.

That's the end of my rant for the day.

ADDENDUM: The incomparable Greg Wythe, my antidisestablishmentarian hero, has a list of things for YOU to do.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blackadder references

By Jim Dallas

I see Atrios likes British comedies, too.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2004

Republican Moral Values

By Byron LaMasters

Read Ronnie Earle's Op-Ed in the New York Times today:

Politicians in Congress are responsible for the leaders they choose. Their choices reflect their moral values.

Every law enforcement officer depends on the moral values and integrity of society for backup; they are like body armor. The cynical destruction of moral values at the top makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job.

In terms of moral values, this is where the rubber meets the road. The rules you apply to yourself are the true test of your moral values.

The thinly veiled personal attacks on me by Mr. DeLay's supporters in this case are no different from those in the cases of any of the 15 elected officials this office has prosecuted in my 27-year tenure. Most of these officials - 12 Democrats and three Republicans - have accused me of having political motives. What else are they going to say?

For most of my tenure the Democrats held the power in state government. Now Republicans do. Most crimes by elected officials involve the abuse of power; you have to have power before you can abuse it.

There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.

The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt.

I couldn't say it any better, Ronnie. The moral values of a political party ought to be embodied by the men and women its members choose as their leaders. House Republicans choose to be led by Tom DeLay. If they choose to be led by a man who has a felony indictment, that will say a lot about their moral values.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Texas Re-redistricting

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Read the DCCC report.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

Heflin Asks for a Recount

By Byron LaMasters

This is what I expected. Republican State Rep. Talmadge Heflin, who lost Hubert Vo by 32 votes has asked for a recount:

State Rep. Talmadge Heflin has asked the state to order a manual recount of all ballots cast earlier this month in Heflin's unsuccessful bid for a 12th term in the Legislature.

Heflin's attorney, Andy Taylor, said that the Heflin campaign had uncovered "deeply disturbing evidence of voter fraud and election irregularities" and that the problems may have contributed to Heflin's 32-vote loss to businessman Hubert Vo earlier this month.

"Illegal votes were counted, and legal votes were rejected," Taylor said this afternoon.

Officials with Heflin's campaign filed a petition with the Texas Secretary of State's office today asking that the Harris County Clerk's Office hand-count the approximately 42,000 ballots cast in the race for state representative in House District 149 in southwest Harris County.

That recount could be complete by the first week of December, Taylor said.

Although Heflin and his supporters decided to seek the recount, Taylor said no decision has yet been made on whether to contest the election results in the state House of Representatives. Campaign officials have until the end of the day Thursday to decide that issue, he said.

Contesting the election in the state House would require that lawmakers either seat Vo or overturn the election and require a new vote. Although there have been several requests for election contests in the Texas House in recent years, most were withdrawn and none has reversed an election result.

Vo's narrow victory was the first Democratic gain in the House in 32 years and knocked off the veteran Heflin, who -- as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee -- was one of the state's most powerful Republican legislators.

Some in Austin had advised Heflin against challenging the election results, and his former colleagues have already moved to claim his third-floor Capitol office and his Appropriations Committee chair.

A recount is fine. But things could get pretty suspicious rather quickly. Here's what one person familiar with the situation said to me in an email:

Tom DeLay's favorite lawyer, Andy Taylor, today filed a formal request for a manual recount in the Vo-Heflin race and privately intimated to reporters that this recount is just the first step in a "complicated" process.

Taylor alleges that he has uncovered evidence of "minority voters" casting ballots illegally and even voting twice.

The only legal forum in which Andy can surface these allegations and present evidence to back them up is in a House challenge; the Texas election code specifically states that the House has "exclusive" jurisdictions over legislative election contests. So, Craddick appoints a committee to review
evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and make a recommendation to the full House about whether to seat Vo or order a new election.

Is this an attempt by Heflin, who tried to intimidate a minority woman into giving up her own child in June, to use his power to intimidate a minority candidate into giving up his own election?

Will Tom DeLay's lawyer call a series of newly registered minority voters to the stand in a House contest and try to intimidate them, not to mention any other minority voters who may have the temerity in the future to consider exercising their voting rights? And not to mention force Vo to shoulder the financial cost of his defense?

There's more at Off the Kuff, Free State Standard and Greg's Opinion.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:11 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

To Our Readers

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I know that some of you may be worried by the slow down in BOR content. That is due to a couple reasons.

Elections are over for this fall (minus that state to the East of Texas which has two House races). We'll be covering that.

Most of the writers on here are headed towards finals or end of year tests. It's just the nature of a blog run by college students.

But fear not. With the Texas Leg starting in just a few short months, BOR will (hopefully) be your front line report for finding out what is going on in the StateHouse. With Andrew adding insight from the Texas Democratic Party, Byron adding knowledge with the fact that he just knows a lot of people, and me adding the insight of University Democrats action and the chance that I may end up roaming around the chambers a lot in the spring, you should be fully served. (Sorry Jim, being out in Houston you will just have to keep us up to date on, um, city council elections? :)

And Austin will have City Council elections of our own in May. So there will be some reporting on what is happening there.

So pardon us a bit for the break. Readership is dropping off for most of the blogs this month. I don't feel that it is long term, just that the election spiked readership. You are still one of more than 1000 daily visitors here at Burnt Orange and we are happy to have you.

Spread the word. Comment. Maybe write for BOR? We write because of you.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Our Mis-Leader

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Rawstory.com brings us this gem...

Mysterious ‘George W. Bush: Our leader’ Clear Channel political public service billboard graces Orlando freeway

A billboard recently put up in Orlando bearing a smiling photograph of President Bush with the words "Our Leader" is raising eyebrows among progressives who feel the poster is akin to that of propaganda used by tyrannical regimes.

"The first thing I thought was, when was the last time I have seen a president on a billboard?" wrote resident Dianna Lawson. "Didn't Saddam Hussein have his picture up everywhere? What next, a statue?"

The text on the bottom of the Clear Channel owned board says that it is "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. A public service message brought to you by Clear Channel Outdoor"

The original sighting brought to you by the Democratic Underground boards.

If you want to drop them a line, in order of impact...

For the Orlando branch....

Clear Channel Outdoor
5333 Old Winter Garden Road
Orlando , FL 32811
Phone: (407) 298-6410
Fax: (407) 297-8176

Outdoor Corporate HQ

Clear Channel Main HQ

A Daily Kos Diary has some great comparison pictures.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I'm Intolerant and I'm anti-Christian

By Byron LaMasters

Because I think creationism is stupid. Uhmm... that's because creationism has no basis in scientific fact. Its that simple.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:41 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Is the Texas SBOE Pro-Slavery?

By Byron LaMasters

Just when you thought things over at the Texas State Board of Education couldn't get more wacky, I read this:

Conservatives' efforts over the years to edit textbooks are legendary here. In a nod to those who believe God created the Earth 6,000 years ago, a sentence saying the ice age took place "millions of years ago" was changed to "in the distant past." Descriptions of environmentalism have been attacked as antithetical to free-enterprise ideals; a passage describing the cruelty of slavery was derided as "overkill."

Ya know, slavery wasn't that bad. Via Pandagon.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Instant Runoff Austin?

By Byron LaMasters

I generally support the idea of instant runoff voting. It's a good way of allowing third parties (or alternative voices in the case of city elections) into the political process without being a spoiler. Also, it would avoid the need (and the cost) of runoff elections. So check out Instant Runoff Austin. Via Sarah.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

DeLay Off the Hook?

By Byron LaMasters

Let's hope not, but that's what CBS is reporting.

Also today...

Alandwilliams takes a look at Tom DeLay's supporters and their political donations.

Meanwhile, Tom of Houston's Clear Thinkers reminds us that 12/15 elected officials prosecuted by Travis County's hyper-uber-partisan D.A. Ronnie Earle were Democrats. But you won't hear that from FOX News.

Meanwhile, Chris Elam joins with Tom DeLay in chiding Chris Bell for being critiqued for technicalities in his complaint after the ethics committee admonished Tom DeLay several months ago. Am I wrong, or was Tom DeLay the one who was admonished here? Is Tom DeLay not the most admonished man in Congress? That is the truth, so I'm sure that any good political consultant would tell him to do one thing. Play the victim. Attack Ronnie Earle. Attack Chris Bell. Now, DeLay wants Chris Bell to pay for his legal fees. As Martin Frost said at Chris Bell's press conference, this is a very unique idea. The idea of loser-pay in civil suits has been around awile. But the idea of winner-pay is quite novel. Chris Bell filed an ethics complaint against Tom DeLay. The ethics committee admonished Tom DeLay. Now, Tom DeLay wants Chris Bell to pay. Huh?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters


Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.

Need I say more? Via Political Wire.

Update: I don't disagree with Ezra's comment: No wonder Bush won.

Hope makes a good point as well. The United States ranks 16/21 in science achievement among industrialized countries. How can we expect our citizens to know better than to believe stupid non-scientific creationist theories when we don't bother to do a good job teaching them real science?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

On Tom DeLay

By Byron LaMasters

So much to say.... so little time.

I've meant to write a post on all the Tom DeLay stuff for about three days now, and well, I just haven't found the time. And sure enough, I'm about to head to my classes for the day, so I won't have a chance to post again until mid-afternoon.

So briefly, if you haven't been reading Josh Marshall on a daily basis, then you've missed a lot. Just start reading and scroll down until you get overwhelmed. He's been urging everyone to ask their representative if they supported the House GOP conference rule change last allows an indicted member to remain in the leadership. A handful of Republicans led by Chris Shays apparently opposed the rule change, so they've been dubbed the "Shays handful". Not surprisingly, more than a "handful" of Republicans are now stepping forward to say they opposed the rule change (although I doubt any of Tom DeLay's bitches fellow Texas colleagues are among them). Still, feel free to call your rep and report to Josh.

From last week (I'll catch up with everything new today this afternoon) here's some good links:

Yellow Doggerel Democrat looks at the basis of the GOP conference rule -- to embarrass then Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) who was having ethical problems of his own back in 1993. Media Matters takes on the media for allowing the GOP to smear Travis County DA Ronnie Earle. The Stakeholder has plenty of good stuff, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Archpundit has some thoughts on the DeLay handful from the Illinois GOP delegation, and the Daily DeLay has plenty on the action as well.

Off the Kuff also had an editorial roundup last week, and a follow up here.

Ok, time for class...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Amend, but not for Arnold

By Byron LaMasters

Unlike the Federal Marriage Amendment, the recent proposals to amend the constitution to allow naturalized American citizens to run for president is a worthy idea looking into. For once, I think that Orrin Hatch is on to something. I agree with most of what Andrew wrote on the subject two months ago. My problem is not with the concept, but with the idea of amending the constitution to benefit one particular person. In the eyes of its supporters, this amendment seems to be less about a its merits, than it is about the political career of Arnold Schwarzenegger. All you have to do is take a look at the two leading supporter sites:

Amend for Arnold and Amend US.

This is also an issue where Democrats can easily get trapped. Patrick Ruffini, back to blogging after his stint as the official Bush / Cheney 2004 re-election blogger outlines an approach for Republicans to take on the issue. I'm personally doubtful that Republicans can pull off unanimity in support of the amendment. At the very least, Republicans will have to do a lot of convincing of the anti-immigrant and social conservative (why would most social conservatives support an amendment making it possible for the GOP's most popular social liberal to run for president) wings of the party. Still, Democrats have largely been silent on the issue -- something that poses problems for us. If Republicans are smart, they'll turn this into a campaign about supporting immigrants, and enlist prominent Hispanic elected officials and donors to bankroll the campaign. They'll turn this into a wedge issue to paint Democrats not supporting the amendment as anti-immigrant. And frankly, there's no reason Democrats should be running from this issue. After all, we've historically been the party of immigrants.

So how do we balance the concerns of supporting immigrants and of not wanting an amendment to our constitution designed to benefit one particular person? I see an easy solution that would take the politics out. As long as this amendment is seen as benefiting one politician or one party or another, there's no way that it will pass. There's no way it gets two-thirds majorities in both houses and three-quarters of the state legislatures if this is seen as a partisan issue. So take the politics out of it.

Pass an amendment that allows naturalized American citizens to run for president that are born after 34 years prior to the amendment's enactment. For example, should the amendment pass in 2005, any naturalized citizen born after 1971 would be eligible to run for president (assuming they meet the other requirements). Thus, no current politician would benefit, but within a few decades most leading non-U.S. born politicians would be eligible to run for president. My year suggestion may sound hopelessly arbitrary, but I think that it's nescessary in order to remove politics from this otherwise worthwhile amendment.

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

November 21, 2004


By Jim Dallas

Here's the current list of Wikipedia articles which are being disputed for lack of a neutral point of view.

It's kind of amusing to see what sort of nonsense stuff people throw around.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

Not these Democrats

By Jim Dallas

One of the many problems (among many), that Democrats face is our inability to market ourselves effectively. Granted, it's time to turn around the Democratic brand name.

But let's face facts: we're not going to accomplish a lot with a little bit of magic fairy dust.

Looking at the "Brand Democrat" logos put out, my Republican acquaintances (naturally, laughed). That was expected, because they're the folks you can't convince. Remember Jesus's parable about the seeds.

Moreover, though, some on the left found the "Brand Democrat" things to be, at best, a bit hokey. To wit,

"We Won World War 2"? Come on, America won World War 2. Franklin Roosevelt won World War 2. The kind of Democrats who used to inhabit Washington in the early 1940s won World War 2.

The kind of Democrats that now run the show did not win World War 2 (so they say).

And the same for domestic agenda items. "Civil rights came about because of the civil rights movement!" Labor rights? Social security? Blame the Wobblies and the pinkos for those.

Now, I'm not bringing these points up because I necessarily agree with them, but the point is this: looking in the mirror, are we the same sort of folks who would be able to accomplish any of the sort of things Democrats used to accomplish?

The temptation is to say "no, because unlike previous generations of Democrats, frankly, we suck." And that temptation can be an awfully strong one.

Nonetheless, I happen to think the answer is not "no," but "yes, we are!"

But the way to go about proving that isn't going to be through the magic of marketing. The way we prove that we rehabilitate our party's image is to shoot straight and shoot often (among other things).

There's a certain part of me that thinks that "Brand Democrat" conjures up all the excitement of Diet Sprite. Meditate on that for a moment.

(Hint: think about our party's tendencies (1) towards low risk/low reward politics and (2) away from bold, memorable pronouncements.)

For what it's worth, I still think that Oliver Willis's idea can bear fruit. But the Washington boys (and girls) really need to get their act together.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The Second Term Bush GLBT Agenda

By Byron LaMasters

You think I'm kidding, right?

Nope. Gay conservative Boi From Troy puts together a four-point GLBT agenda for Bush's second term:

  • Federal Recognition of Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions
  • Reform Social Security (i.e. Privatization)
  • Eliminate the Estate and Gift Tax Permanently
  • Tax Simplification: Eliminating child deductions, etc.

My first reaction was you gotta be kidding. Of these, I only consider the first to be a GLBT issue. As I wrote in Boi From Troy's comments, there are inequities in Social Security and the tax code against the GLBT community, but the way of addressing those issues is not to simply do away with any tax that discriminates against gays and lesbians in relationships unrecognized by the federal government -- but to get the federal government to recognize those relationships. As for child deductions -- as I wrote in Boi From Troy's comments, he seems to be forgetting the millions of kids growing up in GLBT families.

Marriage equality is the ultimate goal, but I do agree with Boi From Troy that marriage is currently a defensive battle and that Civil Unions and domestic partnerships at all levels of government are a step in the right direction (although it's key that marriage remain an option for the future -- states ought to reject constitutional amendments that put in place Civil Unions and ban same-sex marriage -- as Massachusetts has proposed).

I think that Boi From Troy commenter Downtown Lad put together a much more realistic second term Bush GLBT agenda:

  • Bush uses the word "gay" or "lesbian" in a speech.
  • Bush agrees to not appoint someone to the Supreme Court who would overturn Lawrence V. Texas
  • Bush publicly states that he doesn't think gays should be jailed for sodomy.

Yeah. If the gay community can hope to expect anything in the sense of progress over the next four years from the federal governement, these are three issues where we might have a chance... but I won't lose any sleep over it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:32 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

New Dallas Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Martin Frost may have lost, but his campaign organized and worked precincts in Dallas county that hadn't been worked by Democrats in decades. Case in point?

Take a look at the blog set up by the Precinct 1117 Democrats in Dallas County. It's a group blog by Democrats in their northwest Dallas precinct.

Precinct organization makes a huge difference, and these guys have the numbers to prove it. Here's what they accomplished compared to the 2000 presidential election:

  • 75 new voters showed up in our Precinct.
  • The Dems gained 140 New Votes for Pres.
  • The Reps lost 20.
  • We showed an 8% gain in votes for Kerry over Gore (40% vs. 32%). This is 4 times the average change in Dallas County. (This in spite of the fact that the work we did was mostly for Frost).
  • Because we went over 600 votes, we get another delegate to the State Convention.
  • Martin Frost garnered 45% of the vote in our precinct which historically has a 32% Democratic average.
  • We started a community of friends and have forged bonds with neighbors we didn’t know existed.
  • Last but not least, WE KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Precinct organization is easy. Anyone can do it, and organizing your own precinct and talking to your neighbors is perhaps the most effective way to make a difference.

I did get a little criticism when I posted how despite Texas Republicans urban problems, Democrats margins in coming years from urban counties still won't be enough to win statewide on a regular basis for at least another decade or so. Demographic inevitability is happening. Democrats will be the majority party in Dallas and Harris counties without much effort within a few cycles. Having said that, whether Democrats will be able to use that advantage to win back county governments, to pick up seats in the state legislature and to offset the Republican margins statewide in rural and suburban counties depends entirely on whether Democrats can regularly organize precincts countywide each election year in the future -- because we won't have Martin Frost spending four million dollars to get out the vote again.

Via alandwilliams.

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

November 19, 2004

Brand Democrat

By Byron LaMasters

It's Brand Democrat via Oliver Willis.

Good idea. I like it. Check it all out.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

BOR Explores Its Feminine Side

By Andrea M.

Hello, folks, this is Andrea, the feminine voice here at BOR. I blogged a long time ago, but due to time constraints, I was unable to contribute regularly. At Karl-Thomas's behest tonight at the Salt Lick, I have decided to co-contribute to this as well as my other blog. I will not concentrate solely on womens' issues (although I would like to bring them into this venue of public discourse) but rather add my (decidedly feminist) perspective to current events and the world at large. That said, I look forward to regular blogging!

Posted by Andrea M. at 11:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

I'm too lazy to blog. Here, talk to this robot instead.

By Jim Dallas

As some of you may note, it bears an uncanny resemblance to about half of the diarists on DailyKos and 3/4s of the commenters on Atrios.

Why lie? It's the truth!

From Sean Gleeson.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Briefly, why is the homosexual sodomy statute (overturned by the Supreme Court) still on the books in Texas, while the statute criminalizing adultery is not?

"Thou shalt not commit adultery." Remember that one, fellows?

Moreover, if the state is going to be in the marriage business, ipso fact it's in the adultery business.

Just my two cents.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

John Kerry has some Explaining to do...

By Byron LaMasters

Greg and Ezra hit the nail on the head. Why the hell does John Kerry have $15 Million remaining in his campaign (not recount) account? If Kerry wants to even be considered in 2008 as a potential candidate, he ought to come up with a damn good excuse for this.

If you are a candidate in a down-to-the-wire race, you should be in debt by the end of the campaign. For a local example of this, take a look at Mark Strama. We have until December 11th to help him retire his campaign debt -- which I've heard is around $100,000. Strama won by 550 votes by the way. That's the way to do it.

Update: The DSCC and DCCC think the same way as Mark Strama. Campaign debt can be quickly reversed. Losing cannot. CNN reports:

Congressional Democrats and labor leaders also privately questioned Kerry's motives. One said he would personally ask the Massachusetts senator to donate some of the money to the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees.

Democrats lost seats in both the House and Senate on November 2, setbacks compounded by the multimillion-dollar debts they incurred in the process.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee borrowed $10 million in the final days of a campaign in which it spent heavily in Texas, where four veteran lawmakers wound up losing their seats. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee borrowed a smaller amount, more than $3 million according to officials.

Lets see here. John Kerry has about $15 Million in the bank. The DCCC and DSCC have about $13 Million in debt. Does anyone else see the obvious solution here? The DCCC may have been unsuccessful in Texas (Chet Edwards excluded), but at least they went down fighting throwing in everything they had and then some (and don't forget, the DCCC needs our help for those two pesky Louisiana runoffs next month). That's the only way to do it...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:57 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Gay Hysteria in East Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Because obviously, if on one day a year boys and girls reverse social roles where girls get to invite boys on dates, open doors and pay for sodas, the obvious next step is homosexuality and drug abuse, right?

Read the article.

Update: I got the story via email. Pandagon has more on it as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:32 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Poll Shows Texans Support Medical Marijuana

By Byron LaMasters

Color me surprised:

A strong majority of Texans favor legalizing the medical use of marijuana, according to a new poll.

Seventy-five percent said people with cancer and other serious illnesses should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes as long as their doctor approves, according to a Scripps Howard Texas poll question commissioned by Texans for Medical Marijuana. Nineteen percent said they would oppose such a bill.


The telephone poll found Democrats were more supportive of medical marijuana than Republicans — 81 percent to 67 percent; and adults 18 to 29 favored it the most, at 81 percent, while those in their 40s favored it the least, at 70 percent. Seventy-two percent of those 60 and older favored it.

The marijuana question was part of the fall 2004 Texas Poll and was asked of 900 adult Texans by telephone Oct. 11-28. The margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.

Still, I doubt that the legislature will do anything on the topic. It doesn't surprise me that a majority of Texans support medical marijuana, but the size of margin is certainly a shock.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

News... on the March!

By Jim Dallas

In today's Texas politics newsreel:

(1) Kuff informs us that a couple of DeLay cronies are being indicted.

(2) Margaret Spellings will be our new Secretary of Education. She used to be an advisor on education to Governor Bush.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

I am quite piqued by this awesome NASA scramjet that set a new jet airspeed record of Mach 9.6 today.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

GOP Values in Action

By Byron LaMasters

The DCCC is all over the recent GOP House hypocrisy -- where they've changed the House rules to allow Tom DeLay to remain leader even if when he's indicted. House rules previously required members in leadership positions to resign if indicted by a state prosecutor. When and why did they put the rule in place? Back in 1993 when they were targetting Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), then-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who was having ethics problems of his own at the time. Now that their guy is having some trouble back at home, the rule isn't quite as convenient.

You can help the DCCC elect Democrats in two Louisiana House runoffs by donating today.

Update: They've got a petition to sign here (blog post here).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

I drink green tea, maybe you've heard of it?

By Jim Dallas

Atrios and MMFA.

But what really pisses me off about Iowa was that they wouldn't let me buy a beer with a temporary drivers license (I lost my real ID before going to Iowa for Dean).

At any rate, we absolutely MUST rid America of these pinhead media elitists. As a former aspiring-pinhead-elitist myself, I hope this carries some weight.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More Jesusland Prudishness

By Byron LaMasters

Last week is was about airing Saving Private Ryan on network television.

This week it's the concept of I-69. U.S. Rep John Hostettler has a problem with the proposed name. Here's the hoax story anyway:

John Hostettler, the Congressman representing the 8th district of Indiana, has been convinced by local religious groups to introduce legislation in the House that would change the name of an Interstate 69 extension to a more moral sounding number.

There are plans to extend the interstate from Indianapolis through southwestern Indiana all the way through Texas into Mexico in the coming years. While most believe this highway will be good for the state’s economy, religious conservatives believe “I-69” sounds too risqué and want to change the interstate’s number.

Hostettler, a proponent of the interstate extension, agrees. “Every time I have been out in the public with an ‘I-69’ button on my lapel, teenagers point and snicker at it. I have had many ask me if they can have my button. I believe it is time to change the name of the highway. It is the moral thing to do.”

What a putz. Ok, well nevermind, he's still a putz. I want an I-69 button, damn it! Someone should start selling them, and donate the proceeds to his challenger in two years. We need to take back the bloody eighth anyway.

Moving on over to Texas, here's the proposed route of I-69 in Texas.

Via Wonkette.

Update: The Stakeholder notes that Hostettler has a history of erratic behavior such as taking a handgun to the airport.

Update #2: Ok, well it's a hoax. Oxblog updated their post with a correction as well. Still, considering that Hostettler is overall a little nutty, the fact that he would have gotten all worked up about something like "I-69" is not surprising.

Update #3: Well, regardless, it's humorous to see that Hostettler is catching some flak over the story (and the link has an interview with the original author of the story as well).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Lamar Smith Hates TiVo

By Jim Dallas

He's the sponsor of this odious bill.

This is a pro-Hollywood, anti-American, anti-freedom bill that must be stopped.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Texas Republicans Urban County Problems

By Byron LaMasters

Here's what Republican Royal Masset writes on the Republicans urban county situation over at the Quorum Report:

My conclusion in the Phillips study was that "The evidence strongly supports the conclusion that Republican judicial candidates will start losing races in Dallas in 2004 and Harris in 2008. In Dallas, all other factors being equal, the average Democrat judicial candidate at the state district court level will receive more votes than the Republican in 2008. In Houston I believe the best evidence shows that the average Democrat judicial candidate will receive more votes than the Republican in 2012."

He wrote that before the election -- where Dallas County Democrats won 6/12 contested countywide races. The same will happen with Harris County Democrats in four years or so. There's lots of explainations for it, but it can really be summed up in two words: Demographic inevitability.

Masset draws this conclusion in his article, which I generally agree with. Republicans are losing their hold on Dallas and Harris counties, but it won't hurt them statewide for awhile. While Democrats will start winning Harris County soon (we're already winning in Dallas County), our margins won't be enough to counter the GOP margins in the suburban and rural counties for at least a decade. Here's his conclusion (and we are the Democratic Party -- thank you very much)...

The bottom line is that the Democrat Party now has a beachhead to get back into Texas. In the short run Republicans will be able to trade off any urban losses by making gains in rural areas. Even if our aging Republican leaders go nuts running against each other in 2006, we will still win all statewide elections easily. Texas will be a Republican state until after redistricting in 2021. If the Republican Party can integrate Hispanics and Asians into our leadership we may be able to delay our decline. Unfortunately one can never underestimate the power of denial.

Even Republicans admit that Texas will become a Democratic state eventually if the current party alignment holds. It's inevitable, and unless Republicans are able to move Hispanics (or Asian-Americans or African-Americans) over to their column in a meaningful way over the next decade, Texas will be a Democatic state by 2020. The way they're treating Hubert Vo so far doesn't give them much creditability with minority and immigrant communities right now.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Texas Republican Among "10 Cruelest Legislators"

By Byron LaMasters

The Free State Standard has the story. Here's what Humane USA PAC says about Texas Republican legislator State Rep. Betty Brown (R-Henderson):

TEXAS: Rep. Betty Brown (R-Henderson and Kaufman Counties) introduced a bill to legalize the slaughter of horses for human consumption, just after the Texas attorney general ruled that the nation’s only two horse slaughterhouses—both in Texas—were operating illegally. Americans do not eat horses, but the Texas slaughterhouses are owned by Belgian companies, and the horsemeat is exported to Europe and Asia. Brown’s attack on America’s treasured horses failed.

Well, I guess Texas Republicans hate horses just as much as they hate poor people. What a shocker.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I feel Better

By Byron LaMasters

I decided to have five days of mourning following the election. So from Wednesday (11/3) through Sunday (11/7) I pretty much avoided the world and reality, and well -- mourned John Kerry's loss. I told myself I'd feel better by Sunday, and I was. I got up last Monday and made it through a relatively good week. So, I woke up this (Monday) morning with that post-election depression attitude again, and I was just sort of bumbling my way through my classes, and trying to forget how this country got screwed for the next four years. So, I asked myself what I could do. I went to watch the UT basketball game where we beat Tarleton State silly. But Brian Boddicker has graduated, so it's not quite as much fun to watch as the past couple of years. So, then I came home and watched Senator-Elect Barack Obama's convention speech for the gazillionith time, and I felt better. Even my very Republican grandfather (who lives in Illinois) likes the guy. Amazing. Obama '08 or '12 or '16 or '20 or whenever that man wants to run for president. Tell me where to sign up...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:20 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

Democracy Fest 2005: Austin Wins

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

DemocracyFest '05 will be held in Austin, TX on June 17th-19th. Mark your calendars now! Over 4,000 people voted, thank you to everyone who voted.

For more information on DemocracyFest '05--including proposed agenda and lodging info, please see here.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Richard Morrison Wants you to Donate to Hubert Vo!

By Byron LaMasters

This appeared earlier in comments, but I got the email as well, so damn it, donate to Hubert Vo if you haven't already! Here's Richard Morrison's letter urging you to donate to Hubert Vo.

My Friend Hubert Vo Needs Your Help to Keep the House Seat He Already Won!

This year, for the first time in a genaration, Texas Democrats increased our numbers in the Texas House of Representatives. With Bush polling 62 percent at the top of the ticket, my good friend Hubert Vo knocked off a powerful incumbent by just 31 votes.

Now the GOP machine in Austin is trying to throw the contest in the state House, where their majority can vote to seat the loser. Please click here to help Hubert defray the legal expenses associated with the recount.

Hubert Vo won a stunning upset on Tuesday in his rookie race for State Representative, toppling Talmadge Heflin, the 22-year veteran and most powerful member of the Texas Legislature.

Hubert Vo came here 30 years ago from Vietnam because he had faith in our democratic system. He has worked hard and succeeded as a businessman and now as a first-time candidate.

His opponent, Talmadge Heflin, the powerful head of the Appropriations Committee, has not conceded and is threatening to contest the election in the Texas House of Representatives.

Here's more on the story from the Houston Chronicle:

A recount, however, is not a necessary prerequisite to contest the election. Heflin has until Dec. 8 to do that. The election would then be thrown to the House of Representatives, which could either seat Vo or overturn the election and require a new vote.

There have been several contested elections in the Texas House in recent years, but none has reversed the outcome. Most were withdrawn.

Buck Wood, one of several lawyers observing the Harris County vote canvass on Vo's behalf, said Heflin's case posed a potential public relations "nightmare" for Republicans.

With an 87-62 Republican majority (excluding the contested seat) in the House, partisanship could become a factor.

"This House has shown itself to be as partisan as any I've ever seen," Wood said.

This is the same extremely partisan House of Representatives that passed Tom DeLay's redistricting plan in 2003. Please don't let them steal this election from Hubert Vo. Click here to contribute.

Thanks again,
Richard Morrison

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

KBH on Jon Stewart

By Byron LaMasters

KBH = Kay Bailey Hutchison. This ought to be fun... or really boring. It'll be hard to beat the past Texas Republican on the show.

Update: The verdict? She joins the ranks of Bill O'Reilly with a boring Daily Show appearance. And that woman wants to be president? Haha. She has less charisma than (pre-2004) Al Gore.

Update #2: This Dkos diary has some more critical thoughts.

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

San Antonio Express-News: Don't Amend

By Byron LaMasters

The San Antonio Express-News editorialized (cross-posted here) against the proposed amendment to the Texas constitution banning same-sex marriage:

Government should get out of the marriage business, leaving the faith community to decide which unions can go before God and be called holy matrimony.

Government should, instead, provide equal civil rights to all Americans through civil unions.

Surely, conservatives, who want limited government, and liberals, concerned with civil rights, can agree in this common-sense measure.

That is better than continuing a highly emotional, divisive debate over who is allowed to be considered married.

Want to help make a difference in this campaign? Check out LGRL's Save Our Constitution campaign.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

3/5 Top Bush Counties in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Not a big surprise here.

The Lasso has the top five counties for both Bush and Kerry.

The top five Bush counties are all pretty similar. They're all small, rural counties in the Great Plains / Upper Mountain West. The top Kerry Counties are Washington D.C., San Francisco, two Indian Reservation counties, and one Black Belt county.

Here's the top five Bush counties:

Ochiltree, Texas: 91.97 percent
Madison, Idaho: 91.90 percent
Roberts, Texas: 91.65 percent
Glasscock, Texas: 91.56 percent
Arthur, Neb.: 90.15 percent

To get an idea of the size of the Texas counties, here's the raw vote totals. Ochiltree and Roberts counties are in the panhandle. Glasscock is just east of Midland:

Ochiltree County:
George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney REP (I) 2,920 91.96%
John F. Kerry / John Edwards DEM 251 7.90%

Roberts County:
George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 428 91.64%
John F. Kerry/ John Edwards DEM 39 8.35%

Glasscock County:
George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 488 91.55%
John F. Kerry/ John Edwards DEM 44 8.25%

So, you ask, what were John Kerry's best Texas counties? All three were in south Texas.

Zavala County:
George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 777 24.91%
John F. Kerry / John Edwards DEM 2,332 74.79%

Starr County:
George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 2,552 26.09%
John F. Kerry / John Edwards DEM 7,199 73.60%

Duval County:
George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 1,160 28.35%
John F. Kerry / John Edwards DEM 2,916 71.27%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

A Gay RNC Head?

By Byron LaMasters

The Washington Blade all but outed Ken Mehlman in May.

Now, Mehlman has been tapped by Bush to lead the RNC.

Mehlman has refused to answer questions about his sexual orientation. Considering that Mehlman was Bush's campaign manager, and a lead campaign spokesman who was frequently called upon to defend Bush's GLBT policies, including the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would think that Mehlman's sexual orientation is certainly relevent.

America Blog and BlogActive have more.

Update: Atrios hits the nail on the head. I could care less who Ken Mehlman is or isn't screwing. This is about whether a gay man will lead the supposed "values" party.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Radio Station Blues

By Byron LaMasters

Jim isn't the only one in mourning over the loss of a radio station. The Houston Chronicle has more on the end of Houston's KLOL today.

Dallas also sort of lost a good station. When I was in town over the weekend, I flipped to 106.7 KKDL for some good dance music. Didn't happen. They apparently went from good dance / techno / trance / house music (my kinda music) to 90% hip-hop / R&B / Rap now (not my kinda music). How worthless. They don't even let you give listener feedback anymore.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Who's the client?

By Jim Dallas

Some folks in comments expressed concerns that asking Alberto Gonzales about Gov. Bush's jury information form would violate an attorney-client relationship, and therefore would be an "inappropriate" question.

At the time this occurred, Alberto Gonzales was General Counsel to the Governor. This is a public office. Literally hundreds of documents from the OGC are public record; there is no "confidential" or "private" relationship.

What are the OGC's responsibilities?

The General Counsel position within the Texas Office of the Governor was created in October 1973 when the Executive Director of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division appointed an individual as General Counsel, to assist him in providing statute interpretations and in other matters relating to policies and procedures. Today the Office of the General Counsel is a separate division in the Governor's Office. During the Bush Administration, Alberto Gonzales served as General Counsel, succeeded in 1998 by Margaret Wilson.

Duties of the General Counsel include providing statute interpretations; tracking inmates on death row as their cases move through the judicial process including all appeals to the governor for commutations or stays of execution; handling pardon requests sent to the governor; reviewing proposed settlements, land patents, grant requests, contracts, easements, and deeds for the governor; analyzing proposed legislation and regulations for validity and legal effect; assisting appointments staff in determining eligibility and other legal issues related to proposed appointments; handling extradition and requisition matters; coordinating ethics guidelines and training for the governor's office; advising the governor on federal programs administered by the state; coordinating the governor's criminal justice policy with the governor's Policy Director; and providing legal advice and handling litigation filed against the governor or the Governor's Office, in conjunction with actions of the Attorney General on the governor's behalf.

Nowhere in this description will you see "misleading judges so as to cover up Gov. Bush's drinking problems for purely political reasons." And for a good reason. That's not in the public interest.

Wouldn't you want your attorney to look out for you?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SG / Senate Mis-communication

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I know this is a couple days old but I wanted to point out that the fact that the head of UT Austin's Two major student bodies (Student Government and the Senate of College Councils) are not on the same page with supporting a student on the board of regent flows from not covering your bases. The lack of a united front can be embarassing (damaging at the worst) towards the goals they are trying to achieve.

In what seems to be the centerpiece of this Student Government's efforts (Student on the Board of Regents), one cannot let a failure in 'good politics' to foul up the agenda. The issue already seems to be eating up much of the available time.

Speaking of SG, it does seem that the winds have shifted some. No longer do I see or feel the Omar/Brummet ticket as being the leading force. Wes Carpenter and company (some core people from last year's RepreZent campaign) have been very active in their outreach. I would credit them with having the Big Mo at this point. It's interesting, because this year's elections could very well see some splitting of the current body as well as a year where one ticket does not sweep the results.

I would still say that Omar has more favor with institutional SG support (I agree with him more ideologically as do a number of the important Agency folk) but Carpenter, being one of those Committee/Agency folk has an in at stealing away some of that thunder.

Campaign issues? Not so clear yet though I have a sense that the Multicultural Information Center may be one of the big ones (considering previous flare ups this semester with the Hellraiser's "Cowboys and Indians" affair.

Omar, being close to the MIC will have many of the minority/cultural groups support most likely (an important source of campaign labor and votes) and similarly the Woman's Resource Center and GLBTAAA type of people might be more naturally aligned with Omar due to the Gender and Sexuality Center's similarity in nature (in ways) to the MIC. Of course, that means the Hellraiser types (many of whom fall into the frats and sororities) then may follow Carpenter, seeing that as a closer ally (which combined with his tactical placement of Colby Hanks (Chi Omega- like Brummet) as VP may split the other institutional base of support away from Ochoa/Brummet.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peru Passing America

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's always nice to see that Peru has actually found it unconstitutional to ban gays from the military on the basis of having 'relations'. So does this mean that America slips back a couple notches in the "First Wordness" category?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2004

Info On Vo

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Well, I would suggest you head on over to Off the Kuff for the best roundup of information on Vo and any possibly recounts for that Texas House Seat. Hopefully there will be some word from the Kelly White camp over here in our turf in order to bring you the latest in our next of the woods. Assuming there is still a Kelly White funded recount in the works... Anyone heard anything new?

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Trailer Trash Vote and Dan Ellis

By Byron LaMasters

Also known as "How Dan Ellis Lost". After all, I correctly called 149/150 state representative races. Why was I wrong on the Ellis / Otto state representative race?

Well, first off, I don't pretend to be an expert on east Texas politics. I can usually gauge how the urban/suburban races in the Houston, DFW, Austin and San Antonio areas are going. But I'm just not nearly as well connected with the rural races -- I grossly overestimated Max Sandlin's support in CD 1 as well. So, fortunately, I had the chance to speak with a friend very connected in east Texas politics while I was in Dallas for the weekend. I'll analyse the Sandlin/Gohmert race later this week, but the Ellis / Otto race is quite interesting. I crunched the numbers comparing the percentage of the vote per county that Dan Ellis got in 2002 versus 2004. Here's what we get:

County 2002 % 2004 %
All Counties 53.05 45.44
Liberty 53.46 48.32
Montgomery 39.80 35.14
Polk 57.46 46.35

Clearly, Ellis had problems districtwide. Ellis lost by about 4400 votes, and his 2004 numbers were down by about 4-5% in both Liberty and Montgomery counties -- and Ellis couldn't afford to drop more than 3% districtwide. But the big problem for Ellis was his drop in his home county of Polk. Why did Ellis drop over 11% in Polk county from 2002 to 2004?

Two words: Trailer Trash. And no, I don't mean that in any derogatory sense. But those two words uttered by Dan Ellis's wife, Bea Ellis is what got Dan Ellis in trouble. Bea Ellis is a member of the Livingston (the county seat of Polk County) School Board and she was interviewed by the Fort Worth Star Telegram in June for an article on a story about multiple incidents of sexual impropriety between educators and students in the Livingston school district:

"Livingston has white trailer trash and an upper middle class and not much in between," said Bea Ellis, vice president of the Livingston school board and the wife of state Rep. Dan Ellis. "So if you can walk the walk and talk the talk, you're good" in students' minds.

Oops. Apparently, within several days t-shirts appeared in Livingston reading "I'm trailer trash and I vote". Instead of apologizing, the Ellis's went on a vacation and did not adequately respond according to people familiar with the race. The quote was the perfect gift for the John Otto campaign, who won because of that Ellis gaffe, and also because, as Andrew noted, Otto worked his butt off. Anyway, that's how this race snuck up on a lot of us Democrats that didn't expect for any Democratic incumbent state representative other than John Mabry to have much of a scare.

Update: Two more reasons for Ellis's loss mentioned in this article straight-ticket GOP voting in a presidential year, and Democrats' efforts to attempt to disallow "escapee" voter registration (see the article for details).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A question for the jury

By Jim Dallas

I guess this is part of the reason why they're so big on "professional ethics" these days:

Here's a question I'd like to see someone ask Alberto Gonzales at his confirmation hearing for the post of attorney general:

In October 1996, President Bush, then governor of Texas, was summoned to jury duty in Austin. Gov. Bush boasted to the press that he did not intend to use some "feeble excuse" to avoid jury duty. But when Gov. Bush showed up at the Travis County Courthouse, he was assigned to a drunk-driving case. As the public would learn four years later, the governor had once been busted for drunk driving in Maine.

As Gov. Bush's general counsel, Mr. Gonzales, you moved quickly to persuade the judge in chambers that Gov. Bush, despite his public statements, was ineligible on the grounds that he might later be in a position to pardon the person being tried (even though this is not an offense for which people typically request or receive pardons). In retrospect, it seems pretty clear that the reason for Gov. Bush's change of heart was that you advised him that he was sure to be asked during voir dire whether he'd ever been involved in a drunk-driving incident. The judge accepted your clemency argument, dismissed Gov. Bush from jury duty, and inadvertently kept Gov. Bush's secret safe. Later the defense attorney, David Wahlberg, told Texas Monthly that you "snookered all of us."

When Gov. Bush appeared that day for jury duty, he did not fill out the part of the jury questionnaire that asked him to list any previous convictions. When this was revealed in the press in 2000, Bush's presidential campaign claimed that the form had been filled out by a gubernatorial aide. My question is this: Did you instruct Gov. Bush, or one of his aides, to leave that part of the jury questionnaire form blank? If so, was that consistent with your duties as an employee not of George W. Bush, private citizen, but of the state of Texas?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:19 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 13, 2004

Dawnna Dukes, 31 Other Democrats, Pledge to Craddick

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Once again, Vince over at the Free State Standard gives us some interesting news.

Democrats for the first time in decades actually had a net gain of seats in the Texas House. Craddick of course has his own issues of ethics swirling about him with the off chance of being investigated by Ronny Earle as part of the Delay Money Matters. You wouldn't think that Texas House Democrats would be so eager to pledge their support to him for speaker.

Apparently not. 32 Texas House Democrats have done so. Of course, some are expected because they are rural Democrats or part of his leadership team (Patrick Rose, Vilma Luna, Ron Wilson types (though Wilson was knocked out in the Democratic Primary like the rest of DemoCraddickcrats should next time).

But why are Alma Allen (who defeated DemoCraddickcrat Wilson) and Austin's liberal Dawna Dukes on his list?

Because they think that no one can challenge Craddick for the position. They don't want to even bother trying to align with other Republicans for a different Republican leader. Granted Craddick got every Republican's support, but is nobody putting a feeler out for dissention? And even then, why bother adding your name to his list, if you know you aren't getting anything in return and you don't agree with him? I'm talking to you Rep. Dukes...

Her Statement in the Austin Chronicle...

"Let's be realistic. No one else was going to be elected speaker, and this is about doing what's best for your constituency. This is about being realistic. Craddick is going to be the speaker for the foreseeable future, and this is about doing what's best for my constituency."

Dukes noted that there is a bipartisan House tradition of supporting the presumptive speaker – "everyone pledged with Laney every time" – and that she told Craddick when he requested her pledge that she would still take the same positions on legislation, and that she was promised nothing in return.

Dukes Office - (512) 463-0506

The full list of his 'supporters' is in the extended entry. If someone wants to go through and pull out all 32 Democrats, that would be helpful. I don't have the time at the momment but could bold them all if someone posts a comment with their names in it.

2004 Pledge List

Alma Allen
Ray Allen
Charles"Doc" Anderson
Kevin Bailey
Todd Baxter
Leo Berman
Roy Blake, Jr.
Dwayne Bohac
Dennis Bonnen
Dan Branch
Betty Brown
Fred Brown
Bill Callegari
Scott Campbell
Carter Casteel
Norma Chavez
Warren Chisum
Byron Cook
Robby Cook
Frank Corte
Joe Crabb
Tom Craddick
Myra Crownover
John Davis
Glenda Dawson
Dianne Delisi
Mary Denny
Joe Driver
Dawnna Dukes
Harold Dutton, Jr.
Al Edwards
Craig Eiland
Rob Eissler
Gary Elkins
David Farabee
Ismael "Kino" Flores
Dan Flynn
Dan Gattis
Charlie Geren
Helen Giddings
Veronica Gonzales
Toby Goodman
Tony Goolsby
Bob E. Griggs
Kent Grusendorf
Ryan Guillen
Pat Haggerty
Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton
Peggy Hamric
Rick Hardcastle
Linda Harper-Brown
Will Hartnett
Glenn Hegar
Harvey Hilderbran
Fred Hill
Mark Homer
Ruben Hope
Chuck Hopson
Charlie Howard
Bryan Hughes
Bob Hunter
Suzanna Hupp
Carl Isett
Jim Jackson
Delwin Jones
Elizabeth Jones
Terry Keel
Jim Keffer
Bill Keffer
Phil King
Tracy King
Lois Kolkhorst
Mike Krusee
Edmund Kuempel
Jodie Laubenberg
Vilma Luna
Jerry Madden
Armando Martinez
Brian McCall
Ruth Jones McClendon
Jim McReynolds
Jose Menendez
Tommy Merritt
Sid Miller
Geanie Morrison
Anna Mowery
Joseph "Joe" Nixon
Rene Oliveira
Rob Orr
John Otto
Ken Paxton
Aaron Pena
Larry Phillips
Joe Pickett
Jim Pitts
Robert Puente
Chente Quintanilla
Elvira Reyna
Debbie Riddle
Allan Ritter
Patrick Rose
Gene Seaman
Todd Smith
Wayne Smith
John Smithee
Burt Solomons
David Swinford
Robert Talton
Larry Taylor
Yvonne Toureilles
Vicki Truitt
Sylvester Turner
Carlos Uresti
Corbin Van
Arsdale Mike Villarreal
G.E. "Buddy" West
Martha Wong
Beverly Woolley
William "Bill" Zedler

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rick Perry's Gay Lover, I mean, Secretary of State to Resign

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In need of Governor Good Hair's HairThanks to Vince over at the Free State Standard (glad to see you back!) we have news that Geoff Conner, Texas Secretary of State plans to leave his post next month.

Of course, some will remember him from the good old Rick Perry is gay scandal. (he's not as far as we know now) I just wanted to make sure that everyone could bid him a fond farewell.

Perry gets to appoint another one, (his fourth so far) and Vince tells us....Perry will likely appoint North Texas car dealer and Bush/Cheney fund-raiser Roger Williams to the position, though Williams said as late as Friday he hadn't received an actual job offer from the Governor.

Thanks for the good times (and blog traffic) Geoff. You will be missed.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The "L" Word and Lupe Valdez

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Observer seems obsessed with the "L" word, among others... you'll get the idea:

Two months before Election Day, Lupe Valdez, Democratic candidate for Dallas sheriff, was invited by outgoing Sheriff Jim Bowles to meet his staff. Asked by someone why she wanted the job, Valdez replied that she wanted to "shine up" the badge of an office tarnished by turmoil and charges of corruption. Says one longtime deputy: "She said, 'I'm not like anybody in here. I'm the element of change. I'm a lesbian.'"

After Valdez's upset win last week over Republican Danny Chandler--the veteran deputy supported by virtually all deputies--employees of the sheriff's department are bracing themselves for the unknown. "They knew the management style they'd get from Chandler," the deputy says. "They don't know what they'll get from a lesbian."

Deputies are trying to guess how her endorsement by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund will affect policy in a law-enforcement agency that manages jails housing 7,000 inmates. The Victory Fund requires that candidates receiving its financial support be openly homosexual publicly endorse gay civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation and "advocate aggressive public policies and positions" concerning gay and lesbian health.

"The first thing you would assume is that we will begin to hire openly gay deputy sheriffs," the deputy says. While there may already be gay deputies in the department, the anti-gay culture in law enforcement keeps them in the closet. "It's pretty hard for gays to get past our psychological tests," the deputy says. "You used to have to take a polygraph asking if you'd had homosexual relationships." (That question is no longer asked.)

Another big question: Will a lesbian sheriff want to change the inmate classification system? To limit sexual assaults, always a problem in jails, incoming prisoners are housed in cells based on their history and declared sexual orientation. Homosexual inmates aren't put in cells with straight inmates. State prisoners who are shipped here to testify aren't put in tanks with young first-time offenders arrested for shoplifting. Will Valdez declare the classification system discriminatory against gays and lesbians?

Then there's the question of how Valdez will work with the Dallas County Commissioners Court, which oversees the sheriff's budget; three of the four commissioners are conservative Republicans. With Bowles now taking credit for getting "Lupe the Lesbian" elected at the expense of his bitter rival Chandler, the county Republican Party is so mad at Bowles they can't see straight. Or gay.

I'm rather amused over the fact that the media can't seem to stop talking about Lupe Valdez's sexual orientation. However, this article actually brings up some interesting issues especially in regards to hiring and inmate classification decisions. It'll be interesting to see what, if any changes are made.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Oh, my droogs and brothers...

By Jim Dallas

It's been 24 hours since we last had a real rock station in Houston and life is getting pretty f*ing miserable.

I have a plan: it involves three squirt guns, a jar of hot sauce, and possibly 10 to 20 years in a state correctional facility.

Oh, wait, they already made a movie out of it.

(But don't tell me that taking over KLOL KLTO with taco sauce as our weapon wouldn't be ironic, and, yes, cathartic).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Up-is-downism continues

By Jim Dallas

The U.S. dollar has fallen more than 20 percent in value since President Bush took office, hit an all-time low against the Euro this week, and has finance ministers around the globe rather concerned.

The Bush administration response:

The Bush administration hasn't changed its ``strong-dollar policy,'' Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said today, adding the Treasury doesn't comment on daily ``market fluctuations.''

This is gonna be a long four years...

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

Texas vs. Massachusetts

By Byron LaMasters

Texas's candidate may have beaten Massachusetts's candidate for President, but that doesn't stop Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman from rightfully mocking Texas for our uncommonly stupid state board of education:

The Texas Board of Education has now given its educational seal of approval to what may soon be dubbed Red Sex Ed.

The big news is the state's successful demand that textbook publishers change the description of marriage between "two people" to marriage between "a man and a woman." They also ordered that marriage be defined as "a lifelong union between a husband and a wife."

Frankly, I found the "lifelong" description charming considering that the Lone Star State has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. Massachusetts, by the way, has the lowest divorce rate in the country. We are so fond of marriage that we want everyone to do it.

But never mind all that. The real heart of the textbook controversy is whether Texas students should learn about contraception. And the answer is no. Texas has now officially gone to abstinence-only textbooks. The students are learning the ABCs of sex ed without the C. And as Texas, the second-largest book buyer in the country, goes, so may go the nation.

Only one of the four approved books even mentions contraceptives. The altered lessons teach students how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases in many ways — including "getting plenty of rest" — but not by using condoms. One actually suggests using latex gloves to avoid contact with blood but says nothing about using latex . . . you get the idea.

I was also amused by the "lifelong" addition to the definition of marriage in our Texas textbooks. Considering how pathetic heterosexuals (as a whole) in this country are at having their "lifelong unions" last a lifetime, it's particularly ironic. Yet, somehow the threat to marriage lies with gays and lesbians.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:06 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

UT #15

By Byron LaMasters

Why bother with the U.S. News and World Report rankings. I'll take The Times of London:

The University of Texas is getting some attention from across the pond.

The Times of London has ranked the Austin campus 15th among 200 universities it considers best in the world.

Among U.S. public schools, only the University of California at Berkeley, which came in second, ranked higher. Harvard University topped the list, which was released earlier this month.

By comparison, U.S. News and World Report, widely regarded as the most authoritative assessment in the United States, listed UT as 46th among national universities in its annual ranking released earlier this year. It ranked UT 14th among U.S. public universities.

In the Times' rankings, American institutions occupied seven of the top 10 places, with Oxford and Cambridge universities ranked the highest among schools outside the United States.

UT was the only school in Texas to place in the top 50.

Poor Aggies.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Another sign of the apocalypse

By Jim Dallas

I hadn't realized this before reading Kuff this evening; I've been sick today, and haven't gone through my daily routine of listening to the radio.

Darn you Clear Channel, Darn you to heck!

(Even if Kuff is right about the morning show -- ick -- Dean and Rog on 93.7 are genuinely funny. Can't say that about Walton and Johnson.)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The South

By Jim Dallas

Two things are causing me some distress:

First, "F* The South." In a word... no. The South is part of who I am, and I'd probably rather saw my arm off than concede defeat.

Second - and this is a long-term thing - the apparent complete lack of real pride on the part of a majority of Southern voters. The half of Alabama that voted not to drop segregation from the state constitution.

I was brought up to believe that pride does not mean wallowing in your own inequity, but rather to bring down walls of oppression with the full force of the hammer of righteousness. "We shall overcome, some day."

Take a look at yourself, people.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:10 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

Another Reason to Fuck the South

By Byron LaMasters

Even in 2004, a majority of the people in Alabama are racists. Democrats just don't have much appeal to racists in the 21st century. Winning is not worth pandering to people that support segregation. And if we have to sacrifice much of the south for that, it's a principled choice worth making. I think the future Democratic majority will be formed by finding ways to appeal to Hispanics, and in adding the southwest to the Democratic coalition. I'm increasingly convinced that winning the south (at least most of the "southern" states) is hopeless in the near future if our party is to stand for the values that Democrats believe in.

Via Atrios.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:48 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wingnut Values in Austin, TX?

By Byron LaMasters

Say it ain't so.

Apparently, airing Saving Private Ryan on Veterans Day is controversial in this Jesusland country we live in now.

E! Online reports that Austin is among the targets. Tom Coburn out to be happy. It looks like the American Family Association is behind this FCC fear-mongering. Do they hate our veterans?

Anyway, if you want to complain to Austin's ABC affiliate KVUE, go here. Anyone have their phone number?

Update: All Belo stations decided to not air Saving Private Ryan. Contact your local station here to complain. Here's the KVUE human resources guy listed:

Austin, Texas
John McThompson

And the Belo people:

Belo Corporate Headquarters
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Sheila Hartley

Belo Interactive
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Julia Wyman

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:55 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Everyone Ogles over Lupe Valdez

By Byron LaMasters

It's good to see, even if the Republican controlled Dallas County Commissioners Court is threatening to strip much of her budget, people seem to be taking notice of Dallas County's Female, Hispanic, Lesbian, Short, Democratic Sheriff-Elect Lupe Valdez. Everyone I've been speaking to in Dallas say that there's pretty much no doubt that Republicans will cut her budget, though. Regardless, when the issue comes up, I'll be sure to raise some hell. Fortunately, Democrats do have a realistic chance of retaking the Commissioners Court in Dallas County come 2006 (the county judge and county commissioner precinct four will be up in 2006, both controlled by the GOP, but where Democrats won 47% in each race in 2002 - the GOP currently has a 4-1 edge).

I posted on the raise at 2 AM election night, because, well -- it was about the best news anywhere that I could find at the time. Not only did Lupe Valdez win, but three Democratic Judges were elected, including the first Latina judge in Dallas County -- Dennise Garcia, who will take office as soon as she is able as she ran for the unexpired term of a Republican incumbent who passed away earlier this year.

Back to Lupe Valdez, it's good to see her getting national international press. Check it all out if you have the chance:

Washington Post
New York Times
The Guardian

Also blogged at: Off the Kuff and the Free State Standard.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:32 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

How Chet Won

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News folks take a stab at it.

I still debate whether Edwards won because he ran a great campaign (he did), or because Arlene Wohlgemuth ran a poor campaign in addition to being easy to paint as an extremist. Methinks its a bit of both.

What Edwards did in McLennan County (Waco) was simply amazing:

George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 52,078 - 65.72%
John F. Kerry / John Edwards DEM 26,759 - 33.77%

Arlene Wohlgemuth REP 27,694 - 35.22%
Chet Edwards (I) DEM 50,357 - 64.04%

Chet ran 30% ahead of Kerry in the county. My biggest concern is that against a Waco Republican, Chet won't get nearly the margin he needs to win the race (Chet won by 9000 votes with a 23,000 McLennan County margin).

Against a Waco Republican in 2002, Edwards only got 56% of the vote in McLennan County:

Ramsey Farley REP 22,212 43.00%
Chet Edwards DEM 28,876 55.90%

The other key county for Chet Edwards was the place those of us here in Austin love to hate: Brazos County, home of Texas A&M and College Station. Chet didn't have to win there, but he had to break even. And, he did just that:

George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney (I) REP 37,523 69.23%
John F. Kerry / John Edwards DEM 16,090 29.68%

Arlene Wohlgemuth - REP 25,941 48.91%
Chet Edwards(I) - DEM 26,210 49.42%

Chet ran 20% ahead of Kerry in Brazos County. I think that's even more astonishing than his numbers in McLennan County. He's lived in and represented Waco his entire career, but Brazos County was new to the district. Edwards had never represented Brazos County before, yet managed to win a plurality of the vote there. Very impressive. His campaign team made a smart move by going up on the air in College Station / Bryan the week after the Republican run-off stressing Edwards's military and Aggie creds. It worked.

Chet Edwards's performance in these two counties sealed the deal. Wohlgemuth won her home county and several other small counties, but she simply could not overcome Edwards's McLennan County margin especially without any help from Brazos County.

Anyway, Greg's got a little more.

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

Who gets Credit for Dallas County?

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News debates with itself over who deserves credit:

On November 3rd, the paper quoted SMU political scientist Cal Jillson saying this:

"The Democrats are on their way back," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

He predicted two years ago that Dallas County's longtime political underdogs would see some gains in Tuesday's election.

"It's not that their party is well-organized or doing things that improve their chances of winning," Mr. Jillson said. "It's the demographic changes in the county that are helping them win."

Then on Monday, Gromer Jeffers wrote this:

Several weeks ago I wrote a column suggesting that Dallas County Democrats work on their image – including doing something about the dive they used as an office.

The next day their landlord called and told them that if they didn't like their Fair Park-area headquarters, they could get the heck out.

That may have been the way to talk to losers, which Democrats here perennially were.

But after last Tuesday's stunning election results, the Dallas County Democratic Party has earned a little more respect.

Personally, I'm inclined to agree more with Jillson than Jeffers. I think that it was the $4+ Million that Martin Frost spent, along with the excellent work by the campaign teams of Lupe Valdez, the strong local Kerry group among others (not to mention the key reason -- demographic inevitability) that gave Dallas Democrats their first multiple countywide victories in years. I'm not saying that Dallas County Democratic Party didn't do some good work, but I think that Jeffers oversimplifies the situation a great deal (and incorrectly suggests that there is some sort of tension or unease between the DCDP and their landlord). Regardless of who gets credit, Dallas Democrats can be proud of themselves. Of the twelve contested countywide elections with Democrats and Republicans (from President all the way down to County Tax Assessor-Collector, Democrats won six of twelve races in the county. Look for Democrats to win more in two years.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ron Wilson To Represent Heflin?

By Andrew Dobbs

Just got word from a top notch source that Ron Wilson has offered his legal services to Talmadge Heflin in the event of an election contest, pro bono. One Craddick lieutenant sticking up for another, how sweet.

And a lot of you talk about how the Republicans would be stupid to bring this election up in front of the House, that it would screw over their position in the Asian American community, that it would blow up the body and prevent any real legislation from occurring, etc. And you all are right. But the only reason this will be true is because we are bringing attention to this effort and they can't get away with it now. Keep spreading the word, posting on this, getting ready to spring into action the moment a contest is filed. We can ensure justice is done if we keep our eye on the ball.

Thanks for keeping up with all of this guys, it isn't over yet...

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Arafat Dead

By Andrew Dobbs

Good riddance. If his vicious anti-Semitism, his history of support for terrorism, his torpedoing of the best peace offer ever made in the history of this sad conflict, his bilking of his own people out of billions or his turning of a tragedy into massive political capital for his own self-aggrandizement aren't enough to make you hate him and welcome his recent arrival at the gates of hell, then perhaps learning more about his place in the genocide of 100,000 Lebanese might.

The left has conveniently forgotten this incident in order to propagandize against the self-defense of a democracy- Israel- but it sheds light onto the character of Yasser Arafat.

This excerpt from the Jewish Virtual Library offers a good starting pont.

For Arab residents of south Lebanon, PLO rule was a nightmare. After the PLO was expelled from Jordan by King Hussein in 1970, many of its cadres went to Lebanon. The PLO seized whole areas of the country, where it brutalized the population and usurped Lebanese government authority.

On October 14, 1976, Lebanese Ambassador Edward Ghorra told the UN General Assembly the PLO was bringing ruin upon his country: “Palestinian elements belonging to various splinter organizations resorted to kidnaping Lebanese, and sometimes foreigners, holding them prisoners, questioning them, and even sometimes killing them.”6a

Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, not known for being sympathetic toward Israel, declared after touring south Lebanon and Beirut that the facts "tend to support Israel's claim that the PLO has become permeated by thugs and adventurers."6b

The columnists talked to a doctor whose farm had been taken over without compensation by the PLO, and turned into a military depot. "You ask how do we like the Israelis," he said. "Compared to the hell we have had in Lebanon, the Israelis are brothers." Other Lebanese — Christian and Muslim alike — gave similar accounts.

Countless Lebanese told harrowing tales of rape, mutilation and murders committed by PLO forces. The PLO "killed people and threw their corpses in the courtyards. Some of them were mutilated and their limbs were cut off. We did not go out for fear that we might end up like them," said two Arab women from Sidon. "We did not dare go to the beach, because they molested us, weapons in hand." The women spoke of an incident, which occurred shortly before the Israeli invasion, in which PLO men raped and murdered a woman, dumping her body near a famous statue. A picture of the victim's mangled corpse had been printed in a local newspaper.7

Dr. Khalil Torbey, a distinguished Lebanese surgeon, told an American journalist that he was "frequently called in the middle of the night to attend victims of PLO torture. I treated men whose testicles had been cut off in torture sessions. The victims, more often than not, were...Muslims. I saw men — live men — dragged through the streets by fast-moving cars to which they were tied by their feet."8

New York Times correspondent David Shipler visited Damour, a Christian village near Beirut, which had been occupied by the PLO since 1976, when Palestinians and Lebanese leftists sacked the city and massacred hundreds of its inhabitants. The PLO, Shipler wrote, had turned the town into a military base, "using its churches as strongholds and armories" (New York Times, June 21, 1982).

When the IDF drove the PLO out of Damour in June 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced that the town's Christian residents could come home and rebuild. Returning villagers found their former homes littered with spray-painted Palestinian nationalist slogans, Fatah literature and posters of Yasser Arafat. They told Shipler how happy they were that Israel had liberated them.9

So Arafat tortured these people and killed Christians specifically. A piece from Wikipedia notes thus:

In 1981, armed forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) occupied large areas of southern Lebanon. Attacks against Israeli territory increased, as the PLO's armed forces used Lebanon as a base to attack Israel with rockets and artillery. PLO soldiers fought with Lebanese forces; in 1996, the World Lebanese Organization, the World Maronite Union, and multiple human rights groups concerned with the Middle East issued a public declaration accusing the PLO of genocide in Lebanon and stating they were responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Lebanese civilians.

In a short time, Arafat led a brutal dictatorship in Lebanon responsible for the brutal deaths of 100,000 people and the torture of thousands more. The effort was a concerted one to wipe out Lebanese Christians. Arafat thus joins the ranks of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic as an architect of genocide. His passing in a comfortable bed in a Parisian hospital with his family by his side is a slap in the face to those he gunned down, bombed, tortured and otherwise brutally murdered.

In the end, despite the worries about the aftermath of his passing, the only thing that can be said is that he ought to have swung from the end of a rope many many years ago. Bury him with a pig. Burn him and spread his ashes in a distant desert that no one may ever honor him. Let the world remember him as he worked hard to be remembered- as a brutal murderer and betrayer of his own people.

Goodbye Arafat, you won't be missed.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:42 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Fuck the South?

By Byron LaMasters

Obviously meant as a parody, but take out the "fucks", "dickheads", "dickwads", "assholes", and this guy makes some good points.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:19 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

Hutchison for President in 2008?

By Byron LaMasters

Dave McNeely has his take on the musical chairs for Texas Governor and downballot races in 2006 -- pretty much the convention wisdom for what's going on the Republican side with the Hutchison/Strayhorn/Perry trainwreck looming (and don't leave out Don Evans). But this caught my eye:

Some friends say Hutchison would like to be on a presidential ticket in 2008. Her Senate credentials, her position on the Appropriations Committee, her high seniority and her being a woman from a large state are pluses — particularly if fellow Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee.

But Hutchison reportedly thinks governors, who get to demonstrate and practice executive leadership, have a better shot at the presidency than senators. And her husband ran for governor 26 years ago. It's in the family.

The senator must also decide whether she can raise enough money to run against Perry, particularly if she's prohibited from transferring her Senate money to a gubernatorial campaign. Also she must decide if a brutal race spotlighting her moderate abortion stance would hurt her chancesin a nationwide race.

I think I speak for most every Democrat in this state when I say that I'm salivating at the idea of a Perry / Hutchison primary. Perry calls Hutchison a baby-killer. Hutchison attacks Perry over for just being an overall complete moron... ya know. Good times.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bush's Mandate

By Byron LaMasters

Oh, how I love google bombing...

Click here, or go to Google.com. Type in "Bush Mandate". And yes, you're feeling lucky today :-)

Of course, I have to do my part to ensure it stays number one... Bush mandate.

Via Atrios among others.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pistols or swords?

By Byron LaMasters

This is hilarious:

Sen. Zell Miller, who famously challenged MSNBC host Chris Matthews to a duel during the Republican convention this year, now may have to face New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Appearing on Don Imus' national radio program on Tuesday, Miller ripped the woman he called "Maureen Loud," calling her a "highbrow hussy from New York." He added that the "red-headed woman at the New York Times" should not mock anyone's religion: "You can see horns just sprouting up through that Technicolor hair."

Asked by the New York Post for a response, Dowd said: "I'm not a highbrow hussy from New York. I'm a highbrow hussy from Washington. Senator, pistols or swords?"

Miller had said: "The more Maureen Loud gets on 'Meet the Press' and writes those columns, the redder these states get. I mean, they don't want some highbrow hussy from New York City explaining to them that they're idiots and telling them that they're stupid."

Yup, and the more liberals / Democrats Zell Miller challenges to a duel the bluer the blue states get.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Quorum Rules in the State House?

By Byron LaMasters

With all this talk of Republicans gearing up to try and steal HD 149 for Talmadge Heflin on the house floor, one thing immediately entered my mind -- breaking quorum. It would certainly be unlikely, but I can't say it didn't enter my mind. Well, of course, Republicans want to change the rules on that. They talked about doing it last year, but I'd be surprised if they don't take it seriously this year. You know, after stealing the election for Heflin, they'll probably want to re-re-redistrict Chet Edwards out of office (ok, I'll shut up before giving them too many ideas). The Monitor reports that the bill has already been filed:

A Republican state legislator wants to force his Democratic colleagues to remain inside state lines during the next legislative session, in order to avoid boycotts like the ones seen in both the Texas Senate and House last year.

State Rep. Dan Branch, RDallas, filed a resolution on Monday that seeks to change the number of legislators needed to form a quorum from two-thirds to a majority. [...]

If Branch’s resolution survives the session, the issue would be presented to Texas voters in a constitutional amendment election set for Nov. 8, 2005.

From the looks of it, this is a constitutional amendment which would require support of two-thirds of the house to pass -- something tells me it's unlikely that Republicans could find three -- not to mention the needed thirteen Democrats to give them a two-thirds majority. State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) certainly doesn't like the idea:

"It doesn’t make sense — he would need two-thirds to pass it and why in the world would I vote to give up my rights? I don’t think it has any support in the House or the Senate," Hinojosa said.

I do think Republicans will do something to change the quorum rules (or enact punishments for lawmakers who choose to break quorum) that does not require a constitutional amendment. I'm not sure exactly what they can and cannot do regarding rule changes without a constitutional amendment, but I'm sure that I'll find out over the coming months.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

American Conservatism: On the Cusp of Self-Parody

By Jim Dallas

One of the seminal movies in Hollywood history is Star Trek IV, the movie where Kirk goes back in time to save the humpback whales.

Why do I say this? Well, it was at that point that it became tremendously obvious that one of the greatest cultural icons of the 60s and 70s, the Star Trek franchise, was spent. Spock had died and been re-born. The original NCC-1701 Enterprise had been destroyed.

And so Star Trek IV is mostly a series of in-jokes, poking fun at Trek's characters, themes, and the general aura the late 1960s (e.g. the jokes about "LDS" and Berkeley). They weren't just beaming up whales, they were jumping the shark.

So to, it seems, with movement conservatism's quest to paint liberalism as degenerate. When you're not sure whether they're serious or joking (apparently, serious), they've already lost. Probably the only people on earth who will find this funny are self-described liberals who are tired of being pigeon-holed.

Hat tip to Pandagon.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Heflin's Attorney Laying Ground for Election Contest

By Andrew Dobbs

So we've heard all of the stuff about recounts and about contesting elections on the floor of the House, and some of you seem to have found a way to convince yourselves that the GOP won't steal this thing right out from underneath us.

Let me make it really clear- these guys will stop at nothing to win. They broke the law, twisted arms, threw out the rules and just generally ignored every convention of ethics, law, decency and duty in 2003 to ram gerrymandered maps, huge protections for negligent corporations and deep cuts in vital programs down the throats of Texas families.

Now, for those of you who think that Heflin will settle for a recount and then quietly slip into a lucrative lobbying career, check this out from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Because of the narrow margin, Heflin and his attorney were still considering late Tuesday whether to ask for a recount, and perhaps for the 150-member, Republican-dominated House to review the balloting to make sure that the election was carried out legally. The deadline for requesting a recount is Nov. 20.

"We are vigorously pursuing all of our options," said Andy Taylor, a former Texas assistant attorney general who specializes in election law. "We have not yet made a decision as to whether we will, in fact, seek a recount. But we are gathering information to make a fully informed decision."

Taylor said that observers hired by the Heflin campaign to watch the final vote counting Sunday and Monday questioned whether some legally cast ballots were discarded and whether illegally cast ballots had been counted.

Taylor said Heflin has not ruled out asking the full House to nullify the election results, which would force Gov. Rick Perry to order a second election early next year.

Alright, we all know that the FWST is actually mistaken about the results of an election contest. They can force Perry to call new elections, or they could pick either Vo or Heflin the winner. Harold Cook did some research for us down at the party and found that in the 3 cases where elections have been contested, two were given to the Republican candidate (by a Democratic-controlled panel), and one time new elections were called. If Craddick wants to, he can appoint 6 hardcore Right wing, corrupt-ass Republicans and Sylvester Turner to a panel that will then appoint Heflin to his old seat.

But to do that, Heflin's people have to find evidence of fraud and prove it up. Now Taylor has found "questions" about the vote count. Interestingly enough, neither the dozen Republican observers of the count nor the huge media presence during the count felt the need to raise a stink about this while the count was going on (controlled, by the way, by Republican election officials). Essentially, Taylor is suggesting that Republican election officials allowed their poll workers to illegally discard Republican votes while a dozen Republican observers and a prominent Republican attorney and several reporters were stannding right over them- it doesn't pass the smell test.

But Taylor is suggesting just such a fabrication. If they were discarded or if illegal votes were a part of the original count then a recount wouldn't solve his problem. Only an election contest would. Taylor has no other recourse and no other reason for suggesting such a preposterous scenario. It is becoming increasingly clear that the GOP simply won't give up this seat- voters be damned.

Taylor's fantasy makes it very clear that an election contest is not only possible, but highly likely. And with the corrupt, intensely partisan, Right wing leadership of the Texas House (who, remember, ordered Taylor "don't come back without Heflin"), you can bet that the panel will be rigged to give the seat back to Heflin. We need to keep the public aware of this because an election is about to be stolen on live television, right under our very noses.

Keep spreading the word and get ready for unholy hell to break loose on the floor of the House.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

From the Justice Department to the Ministry of Love...

By Zach Neumann

It looks like a fellow Texan may take up where (soon to be) former Attorney General John Ashcroft left off. The Washington Post reported today that Alberto R. Gonzales, White House Counsel and one time Texas Supreme Court Justice may take over at the Justice Department if he is able to make it through the Senate:

President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to be attorney general, succeeding John D. Ashcroft, administration sources said.

Because of Gonzales's close relationship to the president, his selection would give Bush tight control over the Justice Department. As governor of Texas, Bush put Gonzales on the state Supreme Court, and Gonzales had been mentioned by White House advisers as a possible candidate for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If his nomination is approved by the Senate, Gonzales, 49, would be the first Hispanic attorney general.

As White House counsel, Gonzales has served as the president's top legal adviser. His involvement with controversial administration policies on terrorism detainees could be an issue as the Senate considers his nomination to replace Ashcroft, whose anti-terrorism policies made him the focus of a fierce national debate over civil liberties.

Though I could be wrong on this one, I’m of the philosophy that anyone is better than John Ashcroft. Assuming Gonzales is approved, I am interested to see how he handles controversial issues like Guantanamo detainees and the Patriot Act. While he will probably follow in Ashcroft’s footsteps, there is a chance that he may loosen things up a bit. Who knows, if we’re really lucky maybe he’ll take the curtain off the semi nude statues in the main hall of the justice department…

Posted by Zach Neumann at 03:11 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Houston Chronicle to Heflin: "Graciously concede"

By Byron LaMasters

From their editorial today:

Vo embodies Houston's open and constantly changing society. A native of Vietnam, Vo gained his education in Houston and made the most of his business opportunities. Vo's grass-roots campaign imparts the lesson that in evolving suburban districts, Republicans cannot take victory for granted.

Heflin's supporters say he has not decided whether to ask for a recount. A recount holds little promise. The electronic voting machines and hand canvassing of absentee and provisional ballots are under the purview of Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a Republican whose office is a stranger to scandal.

Heflin could also protest the election in the Republican-dominated Texas House. The House could either seat Vo or order a new election.

Heflin has another alternative; he could graciously concede. Last week Sen. John Kerry provided an excellent example of how it is done.

Update: Another interesting read on the race from the Houston Chronicle: Heflin: an inept thief:

If I'm Talmadge Heflin, I'm wondering what this country is coming to.


If you can't buy an election with the lobby's money, you ought to be able to steal it with the help of courthouse friends.

That's one of the problems with being a Republican.

They haven't learned how to steal elections — at least not west of Florida.


Heflin has predictably turned to a lawyer for help.

And not just any lawyer. Andy Taylor represents the Texas Association of Businesses, which touched off a controversy that has resulted in indictments when it boasted of electing the current Republican majority in the Legislature.

Taylor also was hired by the Texas attorney general to represent the state of Texas defending its redistricting schemes. His firm charged $735,398 for the work, billing Taylor's time at $400 an hour.

Now Taylor is talking about asking the state House of Representatives to overturn Vo's victory and seat Heflin.

I don't think it will happen because in the wake of the bitterness of mid-decade redistricting, Republican leaders won't poison the air by engaging in another naked power grab.

Unless Tom DeLay tells them to.

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

One of the great legal dramas of our age

By Jim Dallas

I appealed a University of Houston parking ticket today. I was pretty worried that I didn't have enough points to make, and not enough evidence (one of my key points rested on a misunderstanding between myself and an RA, and so I was hoping to get a letter from him explaining our discussion to the Student Traffic Court). Sure I had photographs and had researched several Texas statutes*, but this was surely no way to run an appeal.

I showed up and started going down the points on my legal pad, sweating.

About two minutes into it, they just sort of looked at me funny and asked me to tell them why I should "get out of" the ticket.

So I did a quickie rendition of my arguments, and I was dismissed. A few minutes later they called me back in to tell me they had found me "guilty", but that I would get out of the fee.

I swear they were reading from a script. Is this what they tell everybody who makes a case?

Well, probably, but I learned an important lesson: University parking tickets really have nothing to do with abstract principles of justice.

* For those interested, I cited Subchapter E of the Chapter 51 of the Texas Education Code, as well as Chapter 12 of the Penal Code and Chapter 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. All of which are relevant to school parking tickets. Maybe you should consider looking them up the next time you get ticketed...?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

My Cyber-Nemesis Gets Ripped A New One

By Jim Dallas

Atrios joins the "bash Adam Yoshida" bandwagon.

What Atrios doesn't tell you, is that although he lost the school board race, he did manage to become President of the American Government Simulation, and amazingly we've only "bombed" one country so far (Iran).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Texas Cities "Mean" to Homeless

By Byron LaMasters

No shocker really. Texas is "mean" to children, gay and lesbians, students, the unemployed, the uninsured, the poor and the working class -- why would the homeless be any exception?

The Dallas Morning News reports:

Texas is the fourth "meanest" state in the nation and Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are among the 20 "meanest" cities in how they treat their homeless, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

Angelita Alvarez prepares to sleep on the sidewalk outside the Day Resource Center on Tuesday evening. The National Coalition for the Homeless examined ordinances and activities in 179 communities nationwide that the advocacy group said criminalized homelessness rather than addressed its causes or eased its conditions.


Dallas, ranked 15th among "meanest" cities, made it on the list for the first time because of ordinances banning panhandling, sleeping in public, obstructing sidewalks and loitering or loafing in public places. Rankings also were based on homeless people's experiences and input from local activists.

Donald Whitehead, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based group, said the survey focused on criminalization of the homeless because "all it does is exacerbate the person's condition. It does nothing to address homelessness. If a person gets ticketed, if a person gets jailed at the end of the day, they're still homeless."

The group's report criticized Dallas for pressuring volunteer groups earlier this year to stop feeding homeless people in a parking lot across from the public library and instead use the small, city-run Day Resource Center.

Then, when about 225 people began sleeping outside the center at night, Dallas police conducted pre-dawn raids and made arrests. Two weeks ago, two homeless people were killed when a truck driver accidentally plowed into their group outside the center.

Share your thoughts on the homeless in Dallas
"It's ridiculous. We're not bothering anybody," Kellie Hecht, a 48-year-old woman who fled her home in August because of domestic violence and now sleeps outside the center, said of the frequent police raids.


The coalition ranked Austin 10th on its mean city list in part because of a campaign to discourage people from giving spare change to panhandlers. It said the capital city did not offer sufficient services for its homeless, so there was little alternative to begging.

San Antonio was 17th on the list, partly because of police ticketing for loitering and panhandling and proposed crackdowns on urban camping.

Nothin' like a little southern hospitality...

Update: The full release on the study by the National Coalition for the Homeless is available here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

State House Election Contests

By Byron LaMasters

With the official canvass showing Democrat Hubert Vo defeating State Rep. Talmadge Heflin by 31 votes, there's lots of speculation on Heflin's next move. I don't think anyone would question his motives if he asked for a recount -- I certainly won't. Heflin deserves the opportunity of a recount, just as Kelly White -- who lost here in Austin to Todd Baxter by under 200 votes and has requested for, and will fund a recount. If a recount gives Heflin a victory, however, I'll certainly suspect Republican shenanigans considering the actions taken by GOP officials last week. The second option is a bit more complicated. Heflin can contest the election -- which would allow the GOP controlled state house to decide the outcome. Interestingly, though, ten years ago, a Democratic controlled house seated none other than Republican Arlene Wohlgemuth over Democrat Bernard Erickson in the most recent contested election. The Waco Tribune Herald reports (Via Kuff):

Wohlgemuth did run, and won, but Erickson went down only after a ferocious fight. Following a ballot count that found just 118 votes separating the two, Erickson called for a recount. After Wohlgemuth came out ahead again, he called for an election contest, which put the case before a 9-member special state House committee in what was then a Democrat-dominated chamber.

"I think Bernard thought that if he could get it back down there in the hands of his Democratic cronies that they'd hand him the election back," Wohlgemuth said. "And it didn't work that way."

The process cost Wohlgemuth $142,000 in legal bills after she'd spent $82,000 on the election, and Erickson took depositions from more than 250 people in his attempt at re-election.

The situation also placed Wohlgemuth in an odd position of being a voting member of the Legislature without full acknowledgment of her lawmaker status. For much of the session, a paper nameplate sat where an engraved metal plate should have been during committee meetings. And "District 58" was written on her committee assignment instead of her name.

Erickson did not concede the election until March 1995, almost midway through the legislative season.

Sounds like a mess. As nice as it would have been to avoid Arlene Wohlgemuth's extreme brand of wingnuttery in the state house, I really don't wish thousands of dollars in legal bills and having to wait for months to be certain of your victory on anyone. There's just got to be a better way to do this.

Back to that decision, a reader sent me a copy of the decision by the nine-member panel written by former Democratic State Rep. Rob Junell. I've put it in the extended entry:

By Junell H.R. No. 285 74R6378 GGS-D R E S O L U T I O N 1-1 WHEREAS, Proceedings were initiated by Bernard Erickson to 1-2 contest the election of Arlene Wohlgemuth to the office of state 1-3 representative, District 58; and 1-4 WHEREAS, Pursuant to Chapter 241, Election Code, Speaker 1-5 James E. "Pete" Laney appointed a master of discovery for the 1-6 election contest on December 21, 1994, and a Select Committee on 1-7 Election Contest on December 21, 1994, to begin consideration of 1-8 the contest; and 1-9 WHEREAS, Pursuant to Chapter 241, Election Code, Speaker 1-10 James E. "Pete" Laney appointed a master of discovery and a Select 1-11 Committee on Election Contest on January 11, 1995, to continue 1-12 consideration of the contest; and 1-13 WHEREAS, On February 14, 1995, after a public hearing the 1-14 committee found by a vote of 9 to 0 that in the matter of the 1-15 election contest for District 58 the contestant did not by clear 1-16 and convincing evidence establish that the outcome of the contested 1-17 election, as shown by the final canvass, was not the true outcome 1-18 because of any ground prescribed by Chapter 221, Election Code; and 1-19 WHEREAS, On February 27, 1995, pursuant to Section 241.017, 1-20 Election Code, a written statement of withdrawal signed by the 1-21 contestant was filed with the chairman of the committee and the 1-22 speaker of the house of representatives; now, therefore, be it 1-23 RESOLVED, That the contestant's statement of withdrawal of 1-24 the election contest be read into the journal, as required by law; 2-1 and, be it further 2-2 RESOLVED, That the Select Committee on Election Contest and 2-3 the master of discovery appointed to assist the committee be 2-4 discharged and that the committee need not make further report to 2-5 this house; and, be it further 2-6 RESOLVED, That pursuant to Section 241.025, Election Code, 2-7 each party to the election contest bear the party's own costs, and 2-8 that this house bear the costs of the proceedings of the master of 2-9 discovery and the committee, and that the contestant's security for 2-10 costs be returned to the contestant; and, be it further 2-11 RESOLVED, That Arlene Wohlgemuth be continued in office as a 2-12 member of the house of representatives for District 58, 74th 2-13 Legislature.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 09, 2004

Last Chance to Vote for Democracy for Texas

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

On Thursday, time will run out to vote to bring more grassroots training and nationally recognized speakers to Texas in June, 2005.

Texas is competing with California and Virginia for the chance to host Democracy Fest 2005, a gathering of progressives from around the country. We have big plans, but we need your vote to win—and this time it doesn’t matter that you temporarily live in a red state!

Please go to myvoteismyvoice.com and look at the proposals. Unless you really want to go to California or Virginia if we don’t win, we ask that you vote “Texas, No Second Choice.” After you’ve voted, please forward the link to your friends and ask for their help.

Thanks for your support!

Your DFT Steering Committee —
Marla Camp, Glen Maxey, Teri Sperry, and Fran Vincent

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Onion on the GOP Majority

By Jim Dallas

Nails it, as usual:

Last week, Bush became the first Republican president to be re-elected with House and Senate majorities since 1924. What do you think?

Beverly Banks, Systems Analyst
"So they still control the House, Senate, and Oval Office? Well, at least we still have the smug, condescending attitude that cost us the election in the first place."

Edgar Mendez, Data Keyer
"Our nation may be bitterly divided, but at least our government can agree on being ultra-conservative."

Sam Howell, Credit Checker
"What's so bad about this? Could some Democrat explain it to me in under an hour, without starting to scream or cry?"

Ted Jacobs, Dentist
"Now that the Republicans run Congress, the White House, and soon the Supreme Court, they'll just have to invent some new branches of government to dominate, as well."

Leo Watts, Custom Tailor
"The fact that 48 percent of Americans voted for a boring placeholder like John Kerry is actually a really good sign for the Left."

Erika Williamson, Interior Designer
"Hold on. I'm being text-messaged orders from my Republican congressman on how to proceed next. Put clothes in dryer? Yes, Rep. Burchardt."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ashcroft, Evans Resign

By Andrew Dobbs

Too bad that sentence doesn't suggest scandal, simply that they will soon be replaced by other right wing lunatics.

AP Story here.

As for replacements...

One name being mentioned for Evans' job at Commerce is Mercer Reynolds, national finance chairman for the Bush campaign, who raised more than $260 million to get him re-elected.

Speculation about a successor to Ashcroft has centered on his former deputy, Larry Thompson, who recently took a job as general counsel at PepsiCo. If appointed, Thompson would be the nation's first black attorney general. Others prominently mentioned include Bush's 2004 campaign chairman, former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, and White House general counsel Alberto Gonzales.

I'm surprised Rudy Giuliani's name didn't make the AG speculation list. And Evans' departure makes me wonder if he has designs on the Texas Governor's race in 2006. He shot rumors to that effect down a few months ago, but the suggestion was he'd stay in the Bush Administration, which doesn't seem to be the case.

Still, the new cabinet is forming. I'm interested to see who the new foriegn policy team will be. Some had Dick Lugar's name running around for Sec. State, which I would endorse. And (I know you all will hate me for this one) I'd like to see Paul Wolfowitz Sec. of Defense. A more active Secretary of State and a smart, tough, creative Secretary of Defense would be much better than the pansy we have in the former and the easily distracted tough guy we have in the latter.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 05:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Back to the minor leagues

By Jim Dallas

This is probably the most useful strategy memo I've read in a while.

I almost feel guilty for not paying much attention to the state legislative races this year.

I might have to reconsider this "year without politics thing," too, sense the more I think about it, the more I am convinced chipping down the Republican margin in the state legislature - and eventually retaking back one or both of the chambers - is probably the most important thing that we can do for our state.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Statesman Bashes SBOE

By Byron LaMasters

For what it's worth:

Texas high school students will learn that getting plenty of rest will help protect them from contracting sexually transmitted diseases. But their new health textbooks — with one exception — won't give them information about condoms that really do protect them from HIV-AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. [...]

The textbooks are written as if Texas' teens aren't having sex. The state's high teenage pregnancy rate should dispel that myth. Teenagers are having sex, and their books should tell them how to protect themselves from dangerous diseases, such as AIDS, as well as from pregnancies.

But this isn't really about the well-being of Texas high school students. It's about values espoused by a majority on the education board. And it's about their determination to impose those values on all Texas students and their families. [...]

Allowing values to trump facts undermines education. In the case of health textbooks, the damage can prove fatal if students believe they can take a nap to prevent AIDS.

It's really quite simple. The Texas State Board of Education's decisions are nothing more than pro-abortion, pro-unwanted pregnancy, pro-STD and pro-HIV/AIDS policies. I guess that's what their morals dictate, and that's a travesty for our state.

Check out my post from yesterday for more background.

Update: Amblongus has some thoughts on the matter as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not Only in Texas

By Jim Dallas

Byron was not entirely accurate in saying that the Battle of the Books is a Texas phenomenon.

There is a court fight in Georgia right now over stickers placed in high school science text books warning that "is 'a theory, not a fact' that should be 'studied carefully and critically considered.'"

I think the clear that even though the disclaimer is facially neutral, it has a thinly-veiled religious intent, and would be an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom.

If you want to put a disclaimer on science, then put a disclaimer on the whole thing -- not on the bits and pieces you don't like. Inviting special skepticism for evolution (I doubt their putting stickers on physics books about, say, quantum mechanics) is not justified by scientific certainty alone.

Thus the legal outcome should be for plaintiff. Chalk another one for the ACLU.

But as a matter of policy, it is probably not inappropriate to encourage classroom discussion on this matter, if simply because one of the goals of education (of which science education is only one part) is to instill civic and moral virtue in the youth of America. I'd suggest that the sticker be re-worded as such:

"Evolution, as fact, and natural selection, as theory, are generally supported by the scientific community but criticized by some scientists and many non-scientists, often on religious grounds. Students should discuss the methods and philosophy of modern science, and express their opinions about the role and ethics of science in society."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Will Heflin Hijack the Election?

By Andrew Dobbs

As you certainly saw below, Hubert Vo has been confirmed as the winner of the District 149 race for Texas House of Representatives. This victory comes after a very public rebuke of the Republican election supervisor by the Republican Secretary of State, intense scrutiny by the media and about a dozen election observers from each party. In the end, there is no question who won- Hubert Vo, by 31 votes.

But the story doesn't end there. There are two options available to Heflin now. One is a recount (what just finished was simply the count of provisional and absentee ballots), which would almost certainly simply reinforce the fact that Heflin lost. The public would begin to weary of the sore loser and Heflin would not only lose, but look bad doing so.

The second is far more likely and far more worrisome. Provisions in state law allow Heflin to file a complaint in the House, claiming that there was fraud in the election. Tom Craddick- who, as we all know, is a Tom DeLay hatchet man and subject of ongoing corruption investigations- would appoint a panel of legislators with all the powers of a traditional court- subpoenas, swearing people in, evidentary hearings, etc.- to investigate the claims of fraud. After the hearings, the panel needs only a simple majority to do one of 3 things- seat Heflin, seat Vo or call for new elections. There is no rule saying there has to be any partisan balance on the panel, so concievably Craddick could appoint Joe Nixon, Ray Allen, Joe Crabb and Bob Talton to the panel to decide the fate of their right wing buddy, Talmadge.

This is not an unlikely proposition- Craddick told Andy Taylor, the Tom DeLay attorney who was the champion of redistricting "don't come back without Heflin." They tried to steal this bad boy once, there isn't any reason they won't try again. That is, unless we keep the heat on them and make sure they are under a very public spotlight.

Get ready to write letters to the editor, call in to radio shows and post on your blogs about this situation. Start talking about the possibility of the election being stolen and point out that under all the scrutiny in the world the vote came out for Vo. And keep Heflin honest. Give him a call and let him know that Texans don't like sore losers.

TALMADGE HEFLIN -- 281-530-1110 Campaign office

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

It's Official: Hubert Vo Wins

By Byron LaMasters

The count is completed and House District 149 has a new state representative: Hubert Vo. It's now official pending a Heflin recount:

With the last votes finally counted late Monday, Democratic newcomer Hubert Vo nudged Republican incumbent Talmadge Heflin out of the Texas House of Representatives seat he has held for 22 years by a 31-vote margin.

According to the official canvass, Vo garnered 20,693 votes, compared with 20,662 for Heflin.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:01 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

That Took a Day (And How to Take on the Values Debate)

By Byron LaMasters

For those not familiar with Texas politics, State Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) has a Rick-Santorumesque obsession with gay people - (read this for some amusing background by Molly Ivins). So, it took him less than a day to file an amendment proposal to ban gay marriage:

Calling it a biblical issue, a state lawmaker on Monday proposed an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would ban the state from recognizing gay marriage.

Rep. Warren Chisum said he hoped the amendment would send a message to Congress that Texans support a similar amendment on the federal level.

"We really feel very strong about the fact that we don't want the deterioration of the institution of marriage and that's what we see happening across this country," he said.

I expect the amendment to pass here in Texas, but I may surprise some people here in saying that I'm glad it's an issue. During the election, I didn't particularly emphasize the issue, as I feared that the more the issue came up, the more President Bush and Republicans would use the issue (as they did) to scare evangelicals into turning out and voting Republican. Now, however, the election is over, but the culture war is not. This amendment gives the gay and lesbian community the opportunity to show that yes, gays and lesbians have families, too. And no, gays and lesbians desire to have loving and committed relationships has zero impact on anyone else's marriage.

I disagree with Andrew a little bit on how to handle the values issue. Andew wrote that he thinks we can turn abortion / gay issues into a debate about education and the economy. I think that's probably a liberal fantasy that fails to understand the moral attachment of social conservatives to those issues. Instead, Democrats ought to take controversial social issues head on. We can be anti-abortion while still being pro-choice. We can be pro-family without being anti-gay. How?

On the abortion issue, I would love for Democrats in local city councils, school boards or state legislatures to experiment a little bit. They don't call state legislatures the laboratories for reform for nothing. Democrats ought to devise programs that include comprehensive sex education in schools, coupled with fully funded health care programs for children and adolescents. Put the plan in place, fund it, and see what happens. See if rates of unwanted pregnancies and abortions decrease, and then put it up against the Republican record of doing little to nothing in addressing those problems.

On gay and lesbian issues, Democrats can be pro-family and pro-gay. It's really easy. It's all about framing the issues. Does a gay marriage ban do anything to protect the marriage between a man and a woman? No, it's just rhetoric. But what about creating pre-marital and family planning counseling programs for low income couples? Why not offer couples counseling for low-income married couples as well? How about fatherhood initiatives to stress the need for strong male role models in a child's life? How about public preschool programs? Or perhaps tax credits for low income parents, and emphasizing longer paid maternity and paternity leave. What about doing more to emphasize Republicans cutting thousands of kids of the CHIP program. What does that say about their family values?

By no means is this a complete laundry list, or are all of the above ideas particularly worth persuing, but my point is that Democrats cannot ignore the values debate. We must take it back, and I believe we can. Why? Republicans have a lot of talk on values, but they have little in regards to results. Instead of actually doing anything to help families deal with complicated issues such as unwanted pregnancies, abortion and homosexuality, Republicans resort to scare tactics. How does fighting to ban gay marriage actually help a man and a woman have a stronger marriage? How do laws on parental notification and banning late term abortions attack the root causes of abortion and unwanted pregnancies? The truth is that the Republicans record on values is quite pathetic. Democrats can win the values debate, but we must be willing to take on the root problems that Republicans would like to ignore.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:40 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Yeah, he's a Shmuck

By Byron LaMasters

This is a fascinating read -- it's a very detailed, in-depth look at Jim McGreevey's career. It's interesting reading my initial knee-jerk reaction to McGreevey's coming out. On one hand, I can sympathize with his difficulty in accepting his sexual orientation, but what he did was pretty much inexcusable. His advisors put it best in the Newark Star Ledger article:

The consultants laid it out again.

"An affair, okay, not bad," one adviser told McGreevey. "A gay affair, that's a little bit worse, but okay.

"You hired your lover as the homeland security adviser without credentials, four months after 9/11 -- that's it. You can't withstand that. You'll be impeached. Democrats will join Republicans."

Yup. The American people are pretty forgiving of personal foibles -- look to Bill Clinton, but when it comes to jeopardizing our national security, Americans are a bit less forgiving.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 08, 2004

Only in Texas...

By Byron LaMasters

Ok, maybe in Kansas, Utah or *insert your favorite Jesusland state here*, but in case anyone had any doubt before, we have complete morons on our state board of education. I missed this last week amid my avoid-everything-political mini-hiatus, but Roman Candles covered the details of their latest moves. Take a look at some of the textbook changes proposed by Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo (R-Spring):

A State Board of Education member stalled a vote to approve middle school health textbooks Thursday by saying the books should condemn homosexuality and make clear that marriage exists only between men and women.

Board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, called for about 30 changes to teachers' and students' editions of proposed health books in grades six through eight.


Leo said that three of the 10 middle school books up for approval would not conform to a state law banning the recognition of same-sex unions as marriages. She said they endorse same-sex marriage by referring to the heads of families as couples or adults instead of husbands and wives or fathers and mothers.

"We're considered a state agency, and we need public acts and records recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman," she said.

Some of her suggestions, however, go beyond the marriage issue.

One passage in a teachers' edition says that "surveys indicate that 3 to 10 percent of the population is gay. No one knows for sure why some people are straight, some are bisexual and others are gay."

Leo wanted to replace those sentences with: "Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use and suicide."

"This is an effort that is both ridiculous and hateful, to essentially try to eliminate homosexuality from health textbooks," said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin group that monitors social conservatism in government.

State law says the board can judge textbooks for their factual accuracy and compliance with state curriculum guidelines. George Rislov of the Texas Education Agency's curriculum division said the guidelines for middle school health classes do not define marriage.

Perhaps worse than gay-bashing though, is some board member's insistance that the effectiveness of condoms be deemphasized:

Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, asked that the books not stress the effectiveness of condoms in fighting sexually transmitted diseases. Patricia Hardy, R-Fort Worth, asked for a teachers' edition to include a chart about contraceptives.

One word: Morons. Of course condoms aren't 100% effective, and that ought to be stressed, but tell kids the truth. Terri Leo's interest in the increased "depression, illegal drug use and suicide" of gays and lesbians only serves to scare kids that may be unsure of their sexual orientation, and encourage discrimination against openly gay or lesbian students.

Let me put it this way. Here's a minor twist on Terri Leo's comments regarding homosexuality in coming up with a definition for a heterosexual sexual orientation:

"Opinions vary on why heterosexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like unwanted pregnancies, abortion, child abuse and molestation."

Sarah has the final update on the textbook situation. In a rare moment of sanity, the board excluded Leo's request, but they still failed to include comprehensive information about birth control and preventing STD's:

From the Texas Women’s Coalition:

The State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 13-1 today to approve all four high school health textbooks. Due in large part to the efforts of the Protect Our Kids Coalition, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill added to its two Teacher’s Editions a chart listing information about birth control and methods of preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). (The Holt Teacher’s Edition already contained this information.) Unfortunately, publishers did not add this life-saving information to their Student’s Editions. The 4 million high school students who will rely on these books for up-to-date, accurate information will be left to learn from friends, television and the Internet.

The SBOE also voted to add to the Holt middle school textbooks a definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. The publishers did not make other changes about homosexuality proposed yesterday by religious-right SBOE member Terri Leo.

So, sorta good news. I don't care about the marriage issue as much as I do about contraceptive information and homophobic language. Texas law defines marriage between a man and a woman, and I disagree with it, but I respect it as the law of the land. But Leo's proposed langauge was solely based on right-wing ideology and pseudoscience. Not including information about contraceptives is a pure failure of protecting the public health by the state. Teaching kids proper use of contraceptives prevents unwanted pregnancies, prevents abortions and saves lives. It's that simple.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dean for DNC Chair?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Like one must in politics, the trial balloon must be floated. Hey, it's time better spent than thinking about running for Prez in 2008...

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

State House Results

By Byron LaMasters

It looks like there are no changes. I'm headed to dinner, but the Quorum Report has just posted that Vo leads Heflin by 26 votes with 22 ballots yet to be counted.

Also, Kelly White gained 24 votes in counting today, but Baxter still leads by 147 with all ballots counted.

Both races should have recounts, but it looks like Vo and Baxter will emerge as victors in these two races.

Update: Here's another somewhat confusing update on the race from the AP:

Longtime Republican Rep. Talmadge Heflin, chairman of the House budget-writing committee, trailed his Democratic challenger, businessman Hubert Vo, by 26 votes Monday night after officials with the Harris County Clerk's office had gone through absentee ballots. The count continued with provisional ballots, which are used when someone's eligibility to vote is questioned.

Among the ballots were about 189 provisional and 200 absentee ballots from people who voted in the race between Heflin and Vo.

After the count of absentee ballots was complete, Vo led Heflin by a vote of 20,679 to 20,653. Vo's margin over Heflin shrank by 12 votes.

As I predicted, it looks like Heflin gained votes (twelve) from the absentee ballots putting Vo's lead at 26 votes.

At least 24 poll watchers, half Democratic and half Republican, were on hand as the ballot review that began Sunday went into a second day.

While they waited, officials with Heflin's campaign and the Republican Party of Texas accused state Democratic Party representatives of harassing and criticizing Harris County election officials for how they conducted the ballot review.

"Our primary concern is to make sure every eligible vote is counted," said Republican Party of Texas Chairwoman Tina Benkiser. "The election officials are doing their job. It's completely uncalled for and casts a pall on the process when the process is working as state law dictates."

Craig Murphy, spokesman for the Heflin campaign, said such tactics have been employed by the Democratic Party throughout the campaign.

But Karen Loper, Vo's campaign manager, denied the accusations.

Nice. I do hope that the Democratic poll watchers are doing their job adequately harassing and criticizing Republicans and Harris County election officials after they've done a good job trying to steal this election for Talmadge Heflin. It's fun to see the Republicans whine and complain when there just aren't enough votes left to steal -- or so we can hope.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

And the beat goes on...

By Jim Dallas

Vote-counting in the District 149 state legislature race continues (Houston Chronicle).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Girlie Men

By Jim Dallas

I'm sorry, but I can't take claims of male victimhood stemming from (and lets face it) cutesy advertisement too seriously.

The whole joke of the ad being complained about here isn't that men are inferior. The joke is that its natural for men to have a fascination with gadgetry, it's natural for adults not to understand said gadgetry as well as adults, and its okay for men to be on the receiving end of some soft jabs, because, dammit, we're men, we can take it, at the end of the day its still our world. Since the dawn of humanity there's always been the ol' man, and I imagine that every non-reactionary society since has had some kind of well-meaning dad jokes.

P.S.: Incidentally, I note that most of the people who get all pissy about this sort of thing seem to be pushing reactionary social agendas (e.g. "its unfair that women get to decide about abortions." -- maybe when men get pregnant, we'll have a right to complain?).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Back in Doña Ana County... And some Post-Election Thoughts

By Byron LaMasters

After a couple-of-day hiatus of trying to ignore the news and the blogosphere, I crawled my way back here. I was cleaning my apartment this afternoon, and managed to finally unpack from New Mexico. That got me curious as to how Kerry did in Doña Ana County, where we block walked last weekend...

Kerry won:

JOHN F. KERRY and JOHN EDWARDS Democratic 30602 50.8%
GEORGE W. BUSH and DICK CHENEY Republican 29023 48.2%
RALPH NADER and PETER MIGUEL CAMEJO Independent 336 0.6%

Kerry's margin this year was slightly smaller than Gore's 2000 margin in the county:

Gore 23,905 51%
Bush 21,261 46%
Nader 1,158 3%

In the rest of the races in Doña Ana County, I don't think that there were any significant changes. Democrats came within a few hundred votes of picking up a couple of state house races, but fell short in both cases. I was disappointed to see the one candidate we had the chance to meet -- challenger for state representative, Jeff Steinborn lose by about 400 votes or 3%.

Overall, it looks as if Bush's 2004 victory in New Mexico is due to the increase of his margins in the rural areas (espeically in the south) of the state. Kerry improved upon Gore's margin in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but Bush improved upon his own margin in many of the rural counties. That offset Kerry's gains and more. It's a similar pattern nationwide. Kerry did even better than Gore in many urban counties, but that margin was offset everywhere by Republicans significantly improving on their rural margins. This ought to teach Democrats several things.

First, the Republicans decided early on in the campaign cycle to wage a campaign centered around base-vote mobilization. Democrats mobilized our urban base like never before, but it wasn't enough. No longer can Democrats pretend that we can always squeeze out a few more votes in our urban counties. We did that -- and while it was enough to carry states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, it's not enough to get us to 270 electoral votes. Second, given this reality, Democrats must make a decision for 2008. In order to win national elections, we must aggressively court either suburban or rural voters. Both groups require different approaches, and the issues that appeal to one group are often opposed by the other. I tend to think that courting suburban voters is the way to go. That doesn't mean that we abandon rural areas, but that suburban voters offer Democrats the greatest potential.

A cursory look at Texas state representative races suggests that Democrats have great prospects with the suburban vote. Our three (assuming Vo's victory holds up) pick-ups were all in more-or-less suburban districts (Strama, Vo, Liebowitz), whereas our two losses were in more-or-less rural districts (Mabry, Ellis). Looking further into the results also shows a greater rural / suburban divide. Republicans did better than expected throughout east Texas. Max Sandlin -- supposedly even in some polls, got trounced. Meanwhile, Richard Morrison lost by a smaller margin in a suburban district. In races where one party did better than expected, Republicans did better than expected in their challenge to WD-40s (aka rural Democrats). I don't think any Democrats saw Dan Ellis's defeat coming, and I don't think many of us thought that Mark Homer or Jim McReynolds would have come as close to losing as they did. On the other hand Kelly White, Harriet Miller, Katy Hubener and others ran extremely effective campaigns against incumbent Republicans in relatively suburban districts.

My analysis of this election in the coming weeks will likely focus on the question of what went right -- espeically in suburban areas where voters responded to candidates like Mark Strama and Hubert Vo. I'm convinced that their are two keys to Democrats regaining a majority in Texas. First, is maintaining and expanding the Hispanic vote -- a challenge, but I'm confident. Second, however is the suburban vote. Right now, it's solidly Republican in this state. But, that's changing as we saw on Tuesday. By no means am I suggesting that Collin and Williamson county will carry Democrats to victory in 2006. That's lunacy. But make no mistake about it -- Democrats defeated three* Republican incumbents in suburban seats on Tuesday. That's not an accident.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 07, 2004

They haven't Stolen it yet...

By Byron LaMasters

I don't have any new news in regards to the Heflin / Vo recount other than this AP article:

Nearly a week after the general election, the race between one of the most powerful lawmakers in the Texas House and a political novice remained undecided Sunday.

Longtime Republican Rep. Talmadge Heflin, the chairman of the House budget-writing committee, is trailing his Democratic challenger, businessman Hubert Vo, by just a few dozen votes.

The absentee or mail-in ballots and the provisional ballots, used when someone's eligibility to vote is questioned, had yet to be counted in the race.

Vo had asked election officials to delay that count from Thursday until Sunday when a countywide ballot canvassing was scheduled.

Officials began but didn't finish counting the county's 3,000 absentee ballots on Sunday. They planned to finish on Monday as well as count 4,000 provisional ballots.

Intermingled with all these ballots are about 189 provisional and 200 absentee ones from people who voted in the race between Heflin and Vo.

This process is usually without much fanfare but this time it had at least 24 poll watchers, half Democrat and half Republican, looking on and taking notes.

Hopefully, we'll have some (good) news tomorrow.

Update: Ok, here's my attempt at crunching some numbers from the district. Of much interest to me is the decrease of Vo's margin from 110 to 52 to 38. With a 110 vote margin, the election seemed pretty secure. Assuming that there are 378 outstanding ballots, Heflin would need 65% of those votes in order to win. With a 38 vote margin, Heflin only needs 55% of those votes. Looking at the absentee votes already counted in the race Heflin won over 75%. However, only 200 of the estimated 387 votes are absentee ballots. The rest are provisional ballots - which I expect would lean Democratic. So -- who knows. This will surely end up with a recount either way. I doubt that we'll have a clear winner tomorrow, but if Andrew says the GOP is stealing this one, we'll do our best to ensure that they don't get away with it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jesus Land

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

You know you've been wondering what the rage about Jesus Land is all about.



Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:47 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

On Kelly White's Race

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Overseas and provisional votes won't be tabulated until Monday the 8th, and results won't be available until Wednesday the 10th. So we shall soon know if White or Baxter will be going to the Capitol in the spring.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2004

Travis County Ballots

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Travis County Clerk's Elections Division has completed the analysis of overseas ballots that are still eligible to be received and counted in the November 2, 2004, election contests involving the State Representative, District 48, and State Representative, District 50.

In District 48 , there are 224 Overseas Ballots that are eligible to be counted if received by Sun., November 7. In District 50, there are 189 Overseas Ballots that are eligible.

As previously announced, there are additional provisional ballots being reviewed to determine their eligibility. In District 48, there were a total of 163 provisional ballots cast in Early Voting and on Election Day. In District 50, there were a total of 256 provisional ballots cast in Early Voting and on Election Day.

Thus, in District 48, there is a maximum of 387 ballots that could possibly be eligible to be counted in this contest. In District 50, there is a maximum of 445 ballots that could possibly be eligible to be counted in this contest.

District 48 Margin of defeat for Kelly White before these ballots are counted= 171. There are enough ballots to make up the margin. White is also asking and paying for a recount. Cost=$30,000. You can still donate.

District 50 Margin of victory for Mark Strama= 556. There are not enough ballots, even if all went to Stick to make up the margin.

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


By Jim Dallas

I was supposed to meet some people to watch the OSU game. They didn't show. So instead of getting drunk and yelling at a big screen TV, I did the next best thing. I went to Super Target.

I had heard (from Atrios among others) that Brian Wilson's Smile was either the best album ever made, or simple "good", or somewhere in between.

I'd never been much of a devotee of the Beach Boys, but as an amateur Beatle-ologist, my interest was piqued insofar as Smile was originally conceived to "one-up" Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I have to say I am very impressed with the album, and have to join the millions of people who wonder just how music history might have changed had Brian Wilson not gone nuts, and this album had been released in the late 1960s.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Bush Change? Don't Make me Laugh

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

After winning a so called "mandate" of 51% thanks to an underground hate based campaign, President Bush says he wants to unite the country, work with Democrats, and move forward.

These are three things he has failed to do for 4 years, even when offered the chance to do so after the 2000 election and 9/11. I expect him to lie as usual and continue to push his right-wing grounded agenda.

Because Bush Stands by Rejection of Kyoto Treaty even as Russia signs on with the rest of the intellectual world in attempting to do at least something for the future of our global environment.


"President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job, let alone the nearly 5 million jobs Kyoto would have cost," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Oh, President Bush, worried about JOBS! Haha, that's almost funny until I think about how many jobs he's lost with his own economic policies which are running this country and it's budget into the ground. And he wants to reform Social Security? With what? His good looks?

Well I'll just let him ponder that one while Insurgents in Iraq killed more Americans today.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Republicans Trying to Steal Houston Election

By Andrew Dobbs

If you thought the days of stealing elections after the votes had been cast went away with Boss Parr and Richard Daley, you would be wrong. Down in Houston right now we have a real effort to steal away the biggest Democratic victory in Texas right from under our feet.

This week, rookie candidate Hubert Vo knocked off 22-year incumbent Talmadge Heflin in a close race on Houston's southwest side. When Harris Co. Clerk Beverly Kaufman sent her staff home at 9:30 p.m. Election Night, Vo's margin of victory stood at 110 votes. When Wednesday morning dawned, that margin had been narrowed to 52. Now it stands at 38.

How did the vote change in the middle of the night? Kaufman has no explanation. But her elections administrator, David Beirne, a GOP operative and veteran of the South Florida debacle four years ago, has assured observers: "Talmadge Heflin will win this race." Furthermore, Tom Craddick himself has said "Hubert Vo will never be a member of my House." And when Tom DeLay's attorney and architect of the 2003 redistricting Andy Taylor was sent to oversee the effort Craddick told him "Don't come back without Heflin."

At least one poll worker was denied an opportunity to serve as an election judge after being grilled on his partisan identification. When he told them he had voted in the Democratic primary he was turned down for the position. Partisan chicanery is going on bigtime in this race, and it is important that we try and get the word out.

Even Secretary of State Geoff Connor, a Rick Perry appointee, has stepped in to demand an explanation from Kaufman and her staff about the many irregularities in the vote tally. Kaufman responded by letter on Thursday, telling the Secretary of State that "at Mr. Heflin's urging," she was going to resume the count that afternoon of thousands of ballots inexplicably left uncounted since Election Night. Connor responded that to resume the count then would be against the law, and Kaufman backed down.

Now, the final tabulation of countywide mail-in and provisional ballots not included in the Election Night count is scheduled to begin Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Present will be Tom DeLay's favorite lawyer, Andy Taylor, representing Heflin. Also present will be Floridian David Beirne, who has already predicted the outcome.

Hubert Vo came to this state 30 years ago from his native Vietnam with little more than the shirt on his back. He got an education, raised a family, and built a successful business in his pursuit of the American Dream. But in his first campaign for public office, he has run into the buzzsaw of the corrupt GOP machine in Austin that is willing to do anything to preserve Heflin's seat -- and Speaker Tom Craddick's chances to be re-elected.

Outsiders are tampering with the House District 149 vote for reasons that have nothing to do with the expressed will of the voters of that district. Will this mini-Miami turn into a full-blown Florida this weekend?

Please contact the following people and tell them that in America we count every vote and we only count it once. That people decide elections, whether we like their judgment or not. Tell them to stand down and let the voters' will go forth- that Hubert Vo serve them in the Texas Legislature.

TALMADGE HEFLIN -- 281-530-1110 Campaign office

BEVERLY KAUFMAN -- 713-755-6405 County office

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:20 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 05, 2004


By Jim Dallas

Now this is an amusing site. I dropped a profile there in part to make penance for my f*bomb towards the "flee to Canada" crowd.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Krabby Patties for Everyone!

By Jim Dallas

Do gays have the right to buy cheeseburgers?

Also, I am also hyper-sensitive to the "ban all fast food" people's dripping condescension (what can I say, I am a piggy-boy). Perhaps this is a microcosm of the larger issue of "moral values."

How many Bush voters think that it's only a matter of time before we live in a world where we're all forced to eat tofu and grape-nuts for every meal?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Year Without Politics

By Jim Dallas

Win or lose, after one of these sorts of campaigns one tends to be a little bit burned out. Especially if you're on the side that comes up short.

We've tuned in, turned off, and dropped out. Time to tune out, turn on, and drop in for a while. It's part of the natural balance of things.

So now I think I'm going to take a year and try not to be so obsessive-compulsive about this politics thing. I'm going to play games (some of political nature*) and do some good works (the good thing about charity, compared to politics, is that you don't have to spend months or years fighting people in order to get something done). may... may... try to actually put more effort into school work.

That isn't to say that I am slacking off entirely. I'm still going to be a virtuous, civic-minded, well-informed American.

And I'm not going to stop blogging. But I'll probably be posting mostly fart jokes and sports scores for a while.

* The standard here is whether we're talking real-word politics or not. That won't keep me from fighting hard for, say, the Angry Troll Party in the online simulated Republic of Make-Believe.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 04, 2004

Lessons From Election 2004

By Andrew Dobbs

Okay, here's my 2 cents on the events of Tuesday night in the extended entry...

(Update): I forgot one, read the new Lesson 7 if you haven't already

1. People Don't Vote Out the President During a War
Most Americans think we are on the wrong track, think that Bush is not doing so hot and think that the economy is in the shitter. Turnout was the highest it has been in 36 years, usually a good sign for Democrats. Yet Bush was reelected relatively easily, the Senate gained 4 Republicans and the House got more Republican as well. Some of this can be attributed to continuing regional trends, but more than anything it is a sign that people will stick with a guy they disagree with when the bullets are flying. Only when the war is an undeniable quagmire (and most of the country as well as this observer would say it is quite the opposite) will they kick them out (see 1968). Bush had this going for him and it helped trump almost everything else.

2. Liberalism is On the Outs
In 9 presidential elections we have elected Democrats in only 3 of them (four if you count Gore, but that was a tossup really). Each time (including Gore), it was a moderate, southern religious type. Liberalism might benefit from the ground game we built for this election, much like conservativism was ultimately helped by Goldwater, despite his defeat. But except for the coasts and a small part of the Upper Midwest, the vast majority of America is fundamentally conservative. They are religious, anti-tax, pro-gun, pro-war. We can try to change their minds, but this trend goes back much further than Bush. The good news is these people split their tickets for moderate Democrats who support the general party line but still don't take their marching orders from the liberal wing. Montana elected a Democratic governor, Indiana reelected a Democratic senator, Colorado elected a Democrat to the Senate and the race was surprisingly close elsewhere. But if we want to win we need to return to a party of the middle class- a Clinton New Democrat kind of place.

3. Vote for the Guy Who Inspires You... Within Reason
Before Tuesday I thought that simply running a campaign of how much you hate the other guy would suffice. I thought that despite the lack of any real enthusiasm for Kerry, the hatred of Bush would put us over the top. I was wrong wrong wrong. Campaigns have to have a positive vision and an articulate, inspiring spokesperson. Bush inspires and excites his base- Kerry was just a stand-in for the more amorphous hatred of Bush. A candidate who could excite people on his own- Dean, Clark, Edwards- probably would have done better. In the end, don't try and pick someone because they are "electable," pick them because you think they are the most exciting. Obviously if Kucinich or Sharpton rocked your socks, you should consider voting for someone who doesn't look like a troll or have a history of hating white people.

4. Districts Drawn to Elect Republicans/Democrats Usually Do Just That
We had 5 candidates redrawn into shit congressional districts this year. Despite the great campaigns ran by all of them and the weak candidates at least 4 of them drew, 4 of the 5 lost. This isn't because the Republicans are better, and though we could have done better it isn't because the Democrats ran bad campaigns. It is because people a lot smarter than us drew maps to elect only a Republican, and it worked. We need to stop partisan redistricting if we want a truly representative and effective congress and Texas 2004 proved that.

5. Raising Money Is Priority Number One
The DCCC and other organizations designed to elect people to office pick candidates primarly on how much time they spend raising money. A good candidate spends about 6-8 hours a day or so doing that. A bad one doesn't. Jim Dougherty in Houston was a good candidate on the outside, but lost because he didn't raise the money. Without putting the time and effort into raising enough money, he got 44% in a Republican district. A better candidate could have won. If we want to win we need to recruit candidates who will do the work necessary to pick up the phone and ask for cash. It is a sad reality, but it is true.

6. All Other Things Being Equal (or Even Kinda Unequal), the Candidate That Works Hardest Wins
Hubert Vo appears to have beaten the 20 year incumbent chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Talmadge Heflin. Vo knocked on several thousand doors, wore out several pairs of shoes and busted his balls to win that race. Of course, working the night shift and going to college all day only months after traveling to the United States with nothing but the clothes on his back prepared him well. Heflin, on the other hand, sat up on his coondog and expected incumbency to carry him to victory. On the flip side, John Otto busted tail in East Texas while 3 term incumben Dan Ellis decided to take it easy. Otto won and Ellis lost. If you want to win, you have to work and if you work harder than the other guy as long as the district is somewhat competitive and you have enough money to keep your name on people's lips (see Lesson 5), you will win. Hard work does pay off, and Talmadge Heflin and Dan Ellis learned that one the hard way.

7. (Added After Initial Post) Wedge Issues Work
The most surprising thing is that the number one issue on people's minds wasn't the War or the economy, but rather "moral issues." This doesn't mean voting out a leader who lies, exposes CIA agents and uses racism to keep himself in office, but rather keepin' queers from marryin' and keepin' ladies from abortin'. Karl Rove knew that he needed more evangelicals to vote if he wanted his boy to win, and he knew that guns, gays, God and abortion would turn them out. As a result, he played these issues up, got anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives on 11 ballots and got the church goers to the polls. Tada- Bush is elected.

There are two options here. The first is unacceptable in many ways- give up our positions on these issues. I think on guns this is preferable. Gun control doesn't really work, it pisses off a lot of people and it is lazy. We always argue that the solution to crime is in fighting the causes of crime- poverty, lack of education, etc. Banning guns is reacting to the sympton, not fighting the cause and we ought to jettison this issue. But abortion and the rights of all people- including gays- are non-negotiable for most of us. The second is to (as 'stina put it) reframe these issues and draw attention away from them. Gay rights is a civil rights issue and when Republicans bash them for political gain it is no better than when Southern Democrats used to use racism for gain. We ought to say so. Banning abortion is pushing one particular religious view onto other people, much like the enemies we are fighting do. We ought to say something similar. And then we ought to point out that the real problem is the crisis in marriage in general created in large part by financial insecurity and the high number of children born out of wedlock because of bad faith federal education funding. If we turn the gay/abortion debate into a debate about education and the economy, we can win. We ought to do this all over and it will succeed.

On a Texas specific side note, this has good implications for 2006. Essentially, the heart and soul of the Republican Party now belongs to the theocrats. In the South, the idea of a pro-choice woman winning a contested Republican primary with a viable pro-life candidate in the running is pretty far-fetched. Kay Bailey Hutchison may be popular, but 3-6 months of Rick Perry calling her a baby killer in her first contested GOP primary ought to put a stake in the heart of her campaign. And then, at the end of a brutal and nasty primary campaign, the unpopular Rick Perry has to fight off a Democrat. Texas could have a Democratic governor because of this issue if we simply reframe the issue as I have suggested above.

8. Things Are Looking Good for Texas Democrats
In 2002 only the very inner cities and the very Hispanic parts of South Texas went for the Democrats and only about 1/3 of the state could be considered "base Democrats." Now Democrats are starting to take over the biggest urban counties as Harris County saw an uptick in Dem voters, Dallas elected a Lesbian Latina Democrat as Sheriff and Democrats easily swept Travis County. Also, the inner suburbs- not the exurbs like Frisco, Georgetown or Katy- places like Grand Prairie, Pflugerville and Alief are starting to consider voting for the Democrats. In Grand Prairie, Ray Allen narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of an environmental activist Democrat. In Alief, Vo beat Heflin. In Pflugerville Mark Strama beat Jack Stick. If we can take the big 4 counties- Dallas, Harris, Bexar and Travis- with big numbers and add in their inner suburban counterparts, we can start winning statewide races.

But we also have to improve turnout in South Texas. Hidalgo County in 2002 had less than 72,000 votes for the biggest race on the ballot. In 2004, they had 115,000. In 2000, it was 101,000. In 2000, Webb had fewer than 32,000 votes for President. In 2002 it was just over 39,000. In 2004, it was 41,500. The turnout trend in South Texas is in our favor- if we can continue stoking these flames, we win races.

Finally, in 2002 Tom Ramsey ran for Agriculture Commissioner against incumbent Susan Combs. Neither really ran a campaign for the down ballot office and Combs was an incumbent. Ramsay got 37.8% of the vote. This year, neither campaign for Texas Supreme Court- David Van Os for the Democrats or Scott Brister for the GOP- did anything beyond some signs, bumper stickers and campaign speeches. David Van Os got 40.75% of the vote. That means that Democrats increased their base by roughly 3 points in 2 years. If we do that again before 2004, we start out with a base of 44% and need only increase turnout in South Texas, keep swinging the votes in the inner suburbs and big 4 counties and we have a race on our hands. This is good news for Texas.

So the summary is this: we need candidates with a positive, creative, inspiring message that doesn't fall back on old liberal cliches. We have to raise money and work hard and try and get districts that are fair for the people of Texas. And we have to either win this war or lose it bad if we want to start winning again. I would never cheer against our troops and I think we are doing a helluva job over there right now, so I suspect the former will happen before 2008. But in the end things are looking up for Texas right now and if we work hard and play our cards right, things will be even better in 2006.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 07:58 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

November 03, 2004

Another Failed Gay-baiting Campaign

By Byron LaMasters

This time with Jack Stick:

Stick, who got married as early voting was beginning, sent out a last-minute mailer with his wedding photos. Stick touted his opposition to same-sex marriage while citing Strama's endorsement by the Austin Lesbian/Gay Political Caucus.

Gay-baiting tactics may work in rural areas, but I think urban and suburban areas are rejecting it. I'm a board member of the ALGPC (as well as LGRL - Lesbian / Gay Rights Lobby of Texas). Our PAC donated a couple of thousand dollars to each of Strama, White, Hubener and Vo -- so while things could have been better, we've clearly made gains in electing more pro-GLBT state representatives.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:13 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Kerry's Concession

By Byron LaMasters

It's a good speech, but nothing too remarkable. It's hard to beat Gore's concession speech though, after everything that he went through. Kerry looks a bit like he's in shock as well. I don't think neither him, nor John Edwards know what is next in their life. Both are good and honorable men that put themselves, their names and their families on the line against an unprecedented barrage of despicable and malicious attack advertisements against them by the Bush campaign, the Republican party, the Swift Boat folks, groups attacking trial laywers, etc. You have to feel for them and their families.

Back to the overall picture, I agree with most of what Jim has to say. Democrats must re-evaluate our strategies. Something went horribly wrong last night. I've spoken with various friends across the state, and elsewhere in the country in other states who are inclined to buy into conspiracy theories and fraud. That's silly. Unlike four years ago, George Bush won this election fair and square, and he has a small, yet clear popular vote mandate. I accept that.

I can't, however, in good conscience give President Bush a "fair shake". Jim writes that he has a historic opportunity to unite America. I disagree. He had that historic opportunity to do that in 2001, and he failed. How can I give a president that has governed from the far-right, that has sought to divide Americans by using the lives of gays and lesbians as a wedge issue, that has shown no interest in helping young people get a better education or well-paying jobs, that has divided Americans by states and region (the constant reminder that Kerry is a "Massachusetts" liberal -- somehow suggesting that Massachusetts, the birthplace of our nation and our democracy, is not as American as say... Texas), and has bungled just about everything in Iraq -- how can I give this president a "fair shake"? George Bush had a choice after winning four years ago, and then again after 9/11 to govern from the center and unite Americans. Both times, he rejected that course in favor of consolidating his base, and governing from the far right. For that, I can't muster a single ounce of respect for the man. There's a lot of Republicans that I can respect, and that I can give the benefit of the doubt from time to time. George W. Bush is not one of them.

So what is next? I don't know. We must follow the lead of John Edwards from today, and continue the fight. We are the loyal opposition. I hope that Democrats spend at least a few weeks reflecting on the elections before pointing fingers and blaming one group over another. I'll go on the record with this right now. John Kerry was the absolute best Democratic nominee given our options. Sure, Kerry made mistakes. Kerry was an imperfect and flawed candidate in many ways, but he is a patriot whose life and long career in public service exuded the ideals of the Democratic Party, and more importantly of America.

The Deaniacs will argue that a more principled candidate such as Dean could have made a more coherent case against Bush. I find it hard to accept an arguement that Howard Dean -- a man with little to no foreign policy experience could have made the sell to the American people that he could be an acceptable choice in leading the war on terrorism. The hawkish / conservative wing of the party will argue that Joe Lieberman would have done better. They might be right that Democrats need to move in a more hawkish foreign policy position in order to win national elections, but Joe Lieberman could never have inspired the Democratic base to give the hundreds of millions of dollars, and to volunteer on election day in the millions that made the election as close as it was.

The fact is that there is no leader of the Democratic party right now, and no obvious candidate (not to mention nominee) for President in 2008. Hillary will probably run, although I hope she does not. Edwards really doesn't have anywhere to go. I'm sure that he'll find something productive to do over the next four years -- but nothing that would give him a platform for a national campaign. If he has presidential ambitions, his best chance is probably to go home to North Carolina, watch his kids grow up a little bit, and run for NC Governor or Senate in 2008, perhaps setting up a run from president in 2012. Barack Obama is a true rising star, and has a bright future of many years of public service ahead of him. I'm grateful for that, because that man is truly a gift to our party and our nation. Here in Texas, Hubert Vo, Mark Strama and Lupe Valdez won key elections that give me hope for the future of our state -- despite painful losses in the congressional races here in Texas.

Who knows what the next four years will bring. I do fear for America, and that fear and frustration was obviously reflective in my posts over the past 12 hours or so. Sorry about all the F-bombs, Chris. As for the Bush gloaters in the comments, say what you want. I can take it. The Democratic Party has a long, painful road ahead, but it's a process Democrats need to explore together, and our fight must continue. The American people have spoken, and God Bless them. I'm glad it's all over. I need a vacation.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:09 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

Patterson, Pemberton Win

By Byron LaMasters

Democrats held their ground in the 3rd Court of Appeals District. Diane Henson nearly picked off a seat, and Jan Patterson held her seat in the sprawling multicounty district. Both Patterson (D) and Pemberton (R) retained their seats by similar three-point margins.

Here's the numbers:

Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 4
Bill Green REP 361,768 48.23%
Jan Patterson (I) DEM 388,370 51.77%

Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 6 - Unexpired Term
Bob Pemberton (I) REP 385,573 51.56%
Diane Henson DEM 362,312 48.44%

Jan Patterson can thank Travis County for her victory. We gave her an 82,000 vote margin in her 27,000 vote victory.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Open Letter

By Jim Dallas

Kerry has conceded. The election has ended. But let us look forward to the future with optimism.

Don't get me wrong, we are truly in a horrible position to be in... as Democrats and progressives. We are a populist movement without the people, which is sort of like being a ship with no moorings. The temptation is towards drift, and despair, and if we do not take a more enlightened course we will soon truly be lost.

To use a metaphor: John Milton wrote that hell is a burning place of "utter darkness." If we're gonna get out of this place, what we need now certainly isn't heat. What we need now is light.

Let's not point fingers and divide ourselves. There is blame to go around, but let's look at this analytically and without unfair recriminations.

Don't single out the 527s or GOTV. This year we turned out more Democrats than ever before in history.

Don't single out our candidate, Senator Kerry. He is and always will be a hero to me, because he gave our cause a voice when the odds were against us.

Don't blame liberals, or gays, or minorities; don't believe that we lost because we stood up for what was fair and just.

Every one who put their effort into this campaign deserves the thanks and praise of us all.

What we must do now is re-evaluate our message and our strategies.

But for the time being, we need to give President Bush a fair shake. He has a historic opportunity to re-unite America, which is something our country needs desperately. He can choose now to be a president that can make all Americans proud. If he does that, he will have earned my respect.

Moreover, we need to procede in good faith to solve the massive problems facing our country. That doesn't mean caving into every charge of obstructionism; it means putting country above party.

Let's roll

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:00 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Kerry Speaks at Noon (CST)

By Byron LaMasters

I just woke up and saw the news. He's called Bush to concede. I'm just sort of sitting here in shock. There's nothing he can say to give me resolution or acceptance of what happened last night. Bush will speak at 2 PM. I won't be able to watch. What the fuck is wrong with America?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:59 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Vo upsets Heflin

By Jim Dallas

Well, here's one thing to celebrate.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Election Night Thoughts

By Byron LaMasters

I'm back home from KUT. Things are pointing to a Bush victory, although I'm not sure what the heck is going on in Ohio. I don't think we'll have a resolution in the presidential race anytime in the next couple of hours, so I'm going to put up some posts on other races. Regardless, it's a disappointing night for Democrats - especially in the U.S. Senate. Here in Texas things are pretty bleak overall. It looks like Chet Edwards won (thank God), but that's it. I'll have some good news on a few things here. Mark Strama has beaten Jack Stick tonight, the Wohlgemonster has lost, as has Phil Crane, and I feel good about some gains I'm seeing in Dallas County races.

As we've been chatting about the returns, Jim said this to me: "If we win, great, but something went seriously wrong tonight. There is something seriously wrong with our party and the way we are doing things. What worries me especially is that the "easiest" people to blame are the people who worked hardest here: young people, liberals, etc.". I'm inclined to agree. If Kerry contests this thing, I'll be on the streets tomorrow to fight with him, but if not, Democrats have some serious soul searching to do. It's not a process I look forward to do.

I'm going to date this for tomorrow morning, even though this is being posted at 1:25 AM -- I think it's a bit more important a post than my thoughts on the Dallas Sheriff's race (among others).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:26 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Dick Durbin for Senate Democratic Leader

By Byron LaMasters

Daschle lost. Fuck John Thune. I had the opportunity to meet Dick Durbin at the Democratic convention this summer, and he's a fantastic spokesman and leader in the Democratic caucus. He's a progressive / liberal Democrat with a backbone, but as a Midwesterner from southern Illinois it's hard to label him as a wild-eyed liberal. Also, I think it's important to have a Democratic leader from a solidly Democratic state. I think either Chris Dodd or Dick Durbin would fit the bill in that respect. Senate Democrats were hurt on many occasions in the past year or two by Daschle's need to show conservative credentials to the voters back home in South Dakota. That's a concern that Dodd or Durbin won't have.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:18 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Vo, Strama, Leibowitz Defeat Republican Incumbents

By Byron LaMasters

Good news for Democrats in three state rep races.

Hubert Vo has defeated tuition-deregulation leader Talmadge Heflin by a razor-thin 52 votes. The Houston Chronicle reports:

Republican Talmadge Heflin, one of the state's most powerful legislators, was upset by businessman Hubert Vo late Tuesday, losing a close race for the seat Heflin has held for more than two decades.

In complete but unofficial returns, Vo had a 52-vote margin over Heflin, who leads the influential House Appropriations Committee.

In other Harris County state House races, Republican incumbent Martha Wong and Democratic incumbent Scott Hochberg beat back strong challenges to hold their seats.

I'm sure there will be a recount there, but its good to see Vo in the lead.

Talmadge Heflin (I) REP 20,532 49.94%
Hubert Vo DEM 20,584 50.06%

Mark Strama has also won tonight over Jack Stick.

Jack Stick (I) REP 30,795 47.72%
Mark Strama DEM 31,351 48.58%
Greg Knowles LIB 2,389 3.70%

That's a 556 vote margin. It ought to be enough to hold.

There will also be a challenge in district 48:

State Representative District 48

Todd Baxter (I) REP 34,375 50.12%
Kelly White DEM 34,204 49.88%

That's 171 votes. White's folks say there are still some votes that have not been counted yet in precincts where they ran out of ballots. Baxter probably holds on, but there wil surely be a recount here.

It also looks as if David Leibowitz has defeated incumbent Republican Ken Mercer in San Antonio by 512 votes:

Ken Mercer (I) REP 19,072 49.33%
David McQuade Leibowitz DEM 19,588 50.67%

Good news there. There might be a recount, but the numbers look good. This is an expected correction in a Democratic district, although I would have anticipated a larger margin.

In other state rep races two Democrats have fallen.

HD 18:
John Otto REP 26,301 54.56%
Dan Ellis (I) DEM 21,909 45.44%

HD 56:
Charles "Doc" Anderson REP 31,035 52.59%
John Mabry (I) DEM 27,977 47.41%

Right now it looks like Democrats have gained one seat in the state house. That's the first time Democrats have gained seats in the state house since 1972. Not what a lot of us would have liked to have seen, but it's a step in the right direction. I'm a little bit flattered that I essentially called 149/150 of the state rep races correctly in my projections last week (my only incorrect call was Ellis over Otto). Of the six competetive congressional races, I was also correct in four of six congressional races (I was incorrect in my calls for Sandlin and Frost).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democrats Sweep Travis County

By Byron LaMasters

Good news out of Travis County tonight. Once again, Democrats swept all countywide races (PDF file). Two great candidates that I've had the opportunity to get to know over the past months have won countywide races tonight -- Stephen Yelenosky and Greg Hamilton:

District Judge, 345th District:
Patrick Keel (REP) 44.29% 147,391
Stephen Yelenosky (DEM) 55.71% 185,397

Travis County Sheriff:
Duane McNeill (REP) 39.26% 131,703
Greg Hamilton (DEM) 55.56% 186,376
Allan Juranek (LIB) 5.19% 17,396

I'm a bit surprised with the Libertarian numbers in the sheriff's race. Very intersting.

Another Democratic pick-up in Travis County is the Precinct 3 Constable race - a bit of a surprise in a relatively GOP precinct:

Thornton Keel (REP) 46.80% 29,819
Richard T. McCain (DEM) 53.20% 33,901

That's good news. The Keel name doesn't mean a damn thing. Both of State Rep. Terry Keel's brothers -- Patrick and Thornton Keel went down in defeat tonight.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dallas County Has a Democratic Lesbian Hispanic Sheriff-Elect

By Byron LaMasters

Lupe Valdez wins!!!!

The Dallas Morning News reports:

Democrat Lupe Valdez became Dallas County's first female and first Hispanic elected sheriff last night, edging out a three-decade veteran of the sheriff's department.

In defeating Republican opponent Danny Chandler, she also became the first new sheriff in 20 years and the first Democrat to hold the post since the mid-1970s.

"I'm looking forward to a change," a jubilant Ms. Valdez said. "We are an international county, and this is what I want to represent."

It's nice to see gay-baiting tactics fail.

Here's the final returns:

Danny Chandler (REP) 319,494 48.65
Lupe Valdez (DEM) 337,228 51.35

Two years ago, a single Democrat -- Sally Montgomery broke through the Republican lock on Dallas countywide offices. This year, Dallas County Democrats have won a number of countywide races -- further evidence that Dallas County is turning blue.

Democrats won the following judicial races in Dallas County tonight (ALL pickups from the GOP):

Bill Rhea (REP) 316,565 48.93%
Lorraine Raggio (DEM) 330,462 51.07%

Cliff Stricklin (REP) 319,642 49.63%
Don Adams (DEM) 324,401 50.37%

Beth Maultsby (REP) 321,209 49.46%
Dennise Garcia (DEM) 328,199 50.54%

Republicans won a few of the races also by excruciatingly close margins:

Robert Frost (REP) 331,542 50.83%
Carlos R. Cortez (DEM) 320,742 49.17%

Robert W. Francis (REP) 323,329 50.17%
Carter Thompson (DEM) 321,121 49.83%

Dallas County Democrats won three of the five contested countywide judicial races. Dallas County is turning Democratic.

We didn't pick up any state rep seats in the county. Katy Hubener ran a good, strong campaign, but as much as I wanted her to win, she topped out in the high 40s:

Ray Allen (REP) 18,795 52.59%
Katy Hubener (DEM) 16,945 47.41%

Katy is a friend of mine, and she ran a great campaign. She got off to a bit of a slow start, but she found her stride, and closed very strong in the final months. She'll have to decide what she wants to do, but if she runs again in 2006, she has my support, and she has a great shot.

Hariet Miller did much better than I expected in HD 102:

Tony Goolsby (REP) 21,410 53.20%
Harriet Miller (DEM) 18,836 46.80%

This is a north Dallas Republican seat, so the closeness of the race surprised me, but perhaps this suggests that this seat is in play in two years.

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

November 02, 2004

U.S. House Returns Thread

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be focusing on the returns for the congressional races in this thread with a focus on the Texas races. Feel free to use the comment thread as an open thread on the Texas House races until things get going... I'll start posting as soon as the polls close and the early vote comes in at 7 PM. Texas returns will be here. The DCCC has returns as they come in on their Resultron Blog.

CD 32 Early Vote:

Pete Sessions - Incumbent REP 61,024 57.61%
Martin Frost - Incumbent DEM 43,775 41.33%
Michael David Needleman LIB 1,123 1.06%

Early vote trends Republican, but I'm not sure that Frost can overcome a 16% margin.

9:15: Looking at the numbers so far, I'd guess all the Texas Democrats in targetted races lose except for Sandlin Edwards (I meant to say Edwards earlier). Bummer.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

State House Returns Thread

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be focusing on the returns for the state house races in this thread. Feel free to use the comment thread as an open thread on the Texas House races until things get going... I'll start posting as soon as the polls close, and the early vote comes in at 7 PM. Thirty-seven percent of Travis County voted early, and those returns should be posted shortly after 7 PM -- so we'll probably have a good idea on the Strama and White races early on. Texas returns will come in here, Travis County returns will come in here, Dallas County here and Harris County here.

7:30: Early vote in select State House Races. (I) for incumbents:

HD 1:
Snow REP 1,948 41.45%
Frost DEM 2,752 58.55%

HD 9:
Blake REP 7,717 58.04%
Moore DEM 5,578 41.96%

HD 11:
Alberts REP 5,420 47.54%
Hopson (I) DEM 5,980 52.46%

HD 19:
Hamilton (I) REP 7,852 52.90%
Peveto DEM 6,991 47.10%

HD 35:
Opiela REP 5,234 50.87%
Gonzalez Toureilles DEM 5,054

HD 45:
Askew REP 13,514 45.50%
Rose - (I) DEM 16,190 54.50%

HD 48:
Baxter (I) REP 22,647 50.26%
White DEM 22,413 49.74%

HD 50:
Stick (I) REP 18,242 46.78%
Strama DEM 19,593 50.25%

HD 106:
Allen (I) REP 10,876 56.82%
Hubener DEM 8,264 43.18%

HD 117:
Mercer (I) REP 11,817 52.37%
Leibowitz DEM 10,746 47.63%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Live Election Night Radio Analysis

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be the Democratic analyst on Austin's NPR affiliate KUT 90.5 in the 11 PM hour tonight (there'll be a moderator and a Republican analyst as well). Use this as an open thread on my analysis - I think I'll be coming on right about 11:20 PM. If you're out of the Austin area, there's a live stream where you can catch it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Mongiardo Leads

By Byron LaMasters

Very good early returns out of Kentucky Senate Race with 35.6% reporting:

Daniel Mongiardo D 303,342 54.3%
Jim Bunning R 254,964 45.7%

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CNN Exit Polls

By Byron LaMasters

Are now available in the states where polls have closed.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vote, dosh garnit!

By Jim Dallas

For all you smarties with pop-up blockers:

And apologies for the large image size. For those of you with dial-up, you know you probably should be VOTING right now instead of waiting for this to load.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Exit Polls and Other Data

By Byron LaMasters

It's out all over the place, but since a lot of the blogs are going down due to extraordinarily heavy traffic, I'll post what I've seen throughout the afternoon. Again, I stress that exit polls are a flawed science, and read this disclaimer before you try and draw a lot of conclusions:

Slate and Kos have posted these numbers at 4 PM:

Kerry 48 46 49 54 50 50 51 50 51
Bush 50 53 51 45 49 49 47 48 46

If they're correct, this election is about what we've thought all along -- Ohio and Florida. If Kerry wins one of two, he wins.

Kos and MyDD have great news leaked from CNN:

Ohio - African American precincts are performing at 106% what we expected, based on historical numbers. Hispanic precincts are at 144% what we expected. Precincts that went for Gore are turning out 8% higher then those that went Bush in 2000. Democratic base precincts are performing 15% higher than GOP base precincts.
Florida - Dem base precincts are performing 14% better than Bush base precincts. In precincts that went for Gore, they are doing 6% better than those that went for Bush. African American precincts at 109%, Hispanic precincts at 106%.

Pennsylvania - African American precincts at 102% of expectations, Hispanics at 136% of expectations. The Gore precincts are doing 4 percent better than bush precincts.

Michigan - Democratic base precincts are 8% better than GOP base states. Gore precincts are 5% better than Bush.

I tend to think that applying actual turnout data to historical patterns is much more significant than exit polls. Seeing these turnout numbers in Democratic precincts gives me much more confidence than exit polls (which can be all all over the place). It just very well may be ACT and the Democratic 527s that will win this election for us.

Looking over at National Review's The Corner Blog - there's a good deal of exit polls leaking out. Speaking of the fickleness of exit polls -- they had Bush up by 8 in Ohio in the first batch of their exit polls, and then one came in with Kerry up 4.

Drudge also has exit polls that show Republicans doing well in Senate races:

Thune +4 (SD)
Castor +3 (FL)
Burr +6 (NC)
Bunning +6 (KT)
Coburn +6 (OK)
Demint +4 (SC)
Salazar +4 (CO)

Another bit of hard data that gives me comfort is the fact that in real numbers from Dixville Notch and Hart's Location in New Hampshire (that have voted and been counted), John Kerry outperformed Al Gore (from those locations in 2000). Matthew Gross analyses it. I had a similar thought this morning (although I didn't post it here) in my comment on Boi From Troy's post on the story.

Here's the trendlines (comparing Bush/Gore in 2000 vs. Bush/Kerry in 2004):

Location: 2000 (B/G) 2004
Dixville Notch, NH: 21/5 19/7
Hart's Location, NH: 17/13 15/15

So Bush's twenty vote margin of 38-18 in these two towns in 2000 was reduced to a twelve vote margin of 34-22. That's a seven point swing towards Kerry as Bush's percentage in the two towns has shrunk from 68% to 61% from 2000 to 2004.

Update: Via Atrios is Zogby's final prediction: Kerry 311, Bush 213

Update: Kos has the 6 PM numbers:

Kerry Bush
PA 53 46
FL 51 49
NC 48 52
OH 51 49
MO 46 54
AR 47 53
MI 51 47
NM 50 49
LA 43 56
CO 48 51
AZ 45 55
MN 54 44
WI 52 47
IA 49 49

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

Campus Vote

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

:: Updated 3:30 pm ::

I'm running around on my bike to about 7 polling places every 2 hours to get vote totals in the campus precincts. I've just got back from a break (class) for the first shift and have th folllowing to report.

Precinct (latest cumulative vote)

147 (293)
148 (527) Surging
261 (193)
265 (230) There were 751 early votes cast in #265.
266 (101)
274 (430)
277 (143)

This is good news. The first two are on campus, more Democratic as far as I'm concerned. Most of the rest are West Campus, (more frats and such) and I'm willing to bet they are low because college students don't wake up early and vote. They will do it after class or later in the day coming home. Pct. 274 includes a number of liberal homeowners that are not college students so high turnout there is expected and a good thing!

I'll try to update this post as I see it today.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Turnout, etc.

By Andrew Dobbs

Things are staying consistent, most polls saw about the same number of votes between 7 and 10 as between 10 and 1, some with a slight uptick, some with a slight downtick. One typical precinct in Brazos County near A&M (Chet Edwards land) had 979 votes in 6 hours. That bodes very well for that particular congressman.

If the trends hold, I suspect we'll have about 60% turnout- maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less. Our numbers in exit polls are looking good, but they can't be trusted 100%. The good news is that different outfits are finding the same people winning in the same states. I don't want to spill the beans (just go vote, you'll find out who won later) but Kerry is looking good. I am cautiously optimistic.

No more predictions, I don't want to jinx things.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stay within the lines

By Jim Dallas

If you have young ones (or if you are a young one), why not print off this coloring-book-style Election Night map?

Teach civics with a box of crayons!

Of course, I still have the bottle of Jack I bought ... in a gas station!... in Las Cruces. And I intend to mix it up with soda and take a sip of Jack'n'Coke every time Kerry wins a state tonight.

(Don't do that with the kids)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Every Gambler Knows

By Jim Dallas

Kerry is surging in both IEM and TradeSports.

Still, I'd note that you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run...

Furthermore, don't count your votes while yer sittin' at the table, there'll be time to count votes when the votin's done.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Exit Polls

By Byron LaMasters

Looking Good... I got them about 30 minutes ago with instructions not to post, but Kos has them up now, so it's good to see. I've been pretty relaxed the past several days (last week I was pretty anxious about the election). I'm confident. We will win. Say President Kerry. Start practicing.

Update: Grits for Breakfast has an election day poem for us.

Update: Jim asks me to update this thread with this important disclaimer. Exit polls are sometimes right and sometimes worthless. In 2000 they gave Bush an early lead, in 2002 they were all over the place, but in the 2004 primaries they were often relatively close.

Update: I'm getting more exit poll numbers on some non-swing states now -- no big surprises in any of them.

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

Turnout Numbers

By Andrew Dobbs

I was just over at the Kerry-Edwards Texas HQ and saw some of the numbers coming in from around the state.

East Texas is a little bit slow and some stories have started to trickle in that the Tyler newspaper printed the wrong addresses for several polling places, all in Democratic precincts. Things should pickup as the day goes on, but the rain isn't too promising.

Houston is doing really well with some boxes with over 300 voters at 10 AM. Assuming that the average box gets about 900 voters and there are about 800+ precincts, that equals about 720,000 votes citywide. Plus the 419,000 or so early votes, that would be a 58.5% turnout. With that we could carry Vo and maybe even Dougherty. A little more would be nice, so let's hope I'm underguessing it.

Dallas I haven't seen numbers on. If you have info, let me know.

Bexar county is mixed- northside is supposedly doing really well and the numbers looked solid. Southside I haven't heard about but overall I suspect we might see over 60% turnout.

The K-E people are stoked, but they have a pretty big self-delusional streak. Several of them seriously believe Kerry will win Texas, which is unlikely at best. I suspect that between Harris (right at or maybe under 60%), Travis (perhaps as much as 70%), Bexar (just over 60%) and Dallas (???) counties along with rural, suburban and South Texas boxes we could see over 60% turnout statewide.

I'll post stuff as I know it- get out and vote!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On The Proper Use of Sidewalks

By Jim Dallas

One of the occupational hazards of canvassing is the temptation to do silly things, like jump off of a small (3 or 4 foot) wall and on to a sidewalk below. I tried doing this Saturday night, and ended up losing balance, bouncing and spinning off the sidewalk, and into the road. With a scraped palm and a bruised shin. But I'll probably live.

At least I didn't rip a big hole in my pants doing a cartwheel, unlike a certain co-blogger...

Remember, Election Day is supposed to be cheery. Be careful. You don't want to be waiting in line at the Emergency Room when you could be waiting in line at a polling place.

Oh yeah, and I second everything Byron said about New Mexico.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where do you Vote?

By Byron LaMasters

If you live in Travis County, it's easy. If you've misplaced your voter registration card, find out your precinct here.

To find out where your precinct votes click here.

It's pretty simple. I've already told three people where to vote today that have randomly called me, because they know I'm a political dork. One of my friends from Houston called in sick to work, and is driving to Austin today to vote after being turned away from his polling location in Houston (he thought that he had changed his registration, but the Harris County people didn't have a record of it). This guy isn't very politically involved, but there was no question that he would drive to Austin to cast his vote -- even though we're not a swing state, and he's not even in a swing district. All over, I'm reading stories of people who are dedicated to voting no matter what. That's a great thing for democracy.

Another friend of mine lives in Mark Strama's district, and I told him where his voting location is. I'm begining to think that I can run a pretty effective GOTV opperation with my cell phone and an Internet connection with AOL instant messenger.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Ground Game

By Byron LaMasters

I didn't have the chance to post on the New Mexico trip yesterday, but I did want to post on my thoughts on a few things.

We arrived at the Doña Ana County Democratic Party office on Saturday morning. After a quick training, we were sent out with swing canvass lists of undecided and new voters. Most of us didn't believe that such voters existed, but sure enough there were. Most of us on the trip can point to at least a few voters where we believe that our two or three minute conversation made the difference between them remaining undecided or not voting, and voting for John Kerry. I had two specific encounters where I feel like I made a difference with an individual voter.

One young woman was concerned about health care, especially for her parents. They couldn't afford many of the prescriptions that they needed and she wanted to know what the candidates would do about that. Easy. Millions of people have lose health care under President Bush, and he has no plan. John Kerry, on the other hand, wants to give you and your family the option to buy into the same health care program that senators and congressmen give themselves. John Kerry had prostate cancer last year and he got great health care and treatment, because senators give themselves great health care. He wants your family to have the same. Young woman: "That sounds really good. I think I'll vote for change with John Kerry again". She was a little bit confused, but she told me she would vote early later in the day.

Voter #2 was a 19 year old guy concerned about Iraq. He wanted to know if Kerry would start bringing our troops home. I told him that Kerry would be able to get a fresh start with the rest of the world, and that he would do a much better job of bringing other countries into the fight to defend Iraq. Under Bush, America has paid 90% of the costs and 90% of the casualties in Iraq. John Kerry wants to bring other countries into Iraq and lessen the burden on America. Instead of giving Bush's oil buddies and Haliburton all those contracts and special deals that Bush has done, Kerry will give other nations a stake in Iraq. Voter: "Ok, I think I'll vote for Kerry on election day". He was an undecided / non-voter three minutes earlier, and today I think he's voting for John Kerry.

These were the "hard to reach" voters that we were told that in any other year they would be ignored because there simply wasn't the time, money or manpower. This year these folks were being canvassed two and three times -- and that's just by the Kerry campaign. We ran into dozens of ACT, ACORN and NAACP people while we were out canvassing. We ran into a few church groups and Bush / Cheney campaign people, but Democratic ground organizers far outnumbered Republican ground folks in Las Cruces.

On Sunday volunteers were flooding out the doors. Saturday was the last day of the swing canvass, and Sunday was the begining of the 72 hour rush to the finish. There were a couple of hundred people signed up to volunteer in their office on Sunday, and they showed up. Dozens of people were sticking precinct voting location information on generic Kerry / Edwards doorhangers that were probably put out last night. Dozens were phone banking, and several of us were sent out to election day voting locations to put up Kerry / Edwards signs everywhere we could imagine. Others in our group went out with 4"X8" Kerry / Edwards signs at busy intersections for visibility. Literally, the office was so overflowing that dozens of teams were sent out for visibility. As we left Las Cruces we probably passed at least five or six Kerry visibility teams on Main street and the road back to I-10.

Does this mean that Kerry will win New Mexico, or any other swing state for that matter? No. But it does mean that I can say from first hand experience that our ground game is absolutely phenomenal. It's by far the best I've ever seen. I know the Republicans probably have the best field organization that they've ever had, but Democrats have the best field organization ever in American history.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Election Night Timeline

By Jim Dallas

This is a modified version of David Leip's Election Night Timeline, with the states colored for the time-bloc when the "last" polls in that state close. For example, Texas is in the 8 p.m. block because polls do not close in El Paso until 7 Mountain Time. Also the times have been adjusted to Central Time for you Texas poll watchers.

I also added how many electoral votes are contained in each time block. In theory, we could know who won as early as 7 p.m. Central Time.

Click the map for an enlarged pop-up.

In the comments, I am informed that CNN has a similar and slightly different (probably more accurate) map. But mine has prettier colors!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stix nix Bush

By Jim Dallas

Garance Franke-Ruta says that the Bush campaign is experiencing a Howard Dean-like flame-out in Iowa.

Oh, the sweet irony.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Election Prediction: Who am I to disagree with Fafblog?

By Jim Dallas

Via Atrios, we find that Giblets is likely to win in an unexpected landslide today.

Since polls would never lie, I therefore have to agree with the Fafbloggers. Giblets will win every state but acursed Wyoming:

In two days Giblets will not just be your supreme leader, commander, and Giblets. He will be your constitutionally-mandated supreme leader, commander, and Giblets. In this Giblets is unstoppable! In fact Gibletsian state-by-state projections by Giblets's polling firm, Gibletsian Vision (G), show Giblets winning by a landslide - 535 to 3! (Wyoming will go to Bush. Damn you to hell, Wyoming. Damn you to hell.)

Gibletsian partisans may already begin prematurely celebrating Giblets's victory! Giblets has already commissioned a 500 foot tall sculpture of himself on horseback trampling his foes, to be entitled Triumphe d'Gibletse! On January 20th Giblets will spend all of his inauguration ceremony eating an enormous pile of gold!

But if - as some scurrilous rumors and half-mad acid-eating anti-Giblets propagandists have suggested - Giblets loses the election to John Kerry, it will be clear why. It will be because of the bias of the liberal media.

The liberal media, who again and again painted John Kerry as a weak-willed pandering flip-flopper, knowing that Americans appreciate the supple pliabilty of a flip-flopper's ever-shifting positions over the hard resolve of Giblets! The liberal media, who represented Kerry's every position as an incoherent one knowing full well that Americans would be helplessly seduced by a convoluted, byzantine rambler instead of a straight-shooter like Giblets! The liberal media, who entertained the notion that John Kerry was a traitor to his country who had deliberately wounded himself to get out of Vietnam and besmirched the reputation of his fellow veterans, knowing that Americans love a quick-witted spineless coward over a heroic anti-terror crusader like Giblets!

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

Election Day: A BOR Weather Report

By Jim Dallas

It's Election Day, and we're seeing some heavy rainfall here in the Houston area this morning. According to the Weather Channel, the same system will dump rain on battleground states Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia, and Arkansas today.

The wet forecast for Ohio worries me somewhat, since it will probably depress turnout, although the hourly forecast suggests that it will begin to clear up by about 4 p.m. or so.

Taegan Goddard says it'll rain in the (Republican) Florida panhandle, but the rest of the state should be dry.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vote Texas Tuesdays

By Byron LaMasters

Here -- Support Texas Tuesdays by voting for our candidates!!!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 01, 2004

Pete Sessions Introduces Bush

By Byron LaMasters

Watch C-SPAN. One idiot is introducing another in Dallas, Texas tonight...

Update: Sessions's only hope is that Bush pulls him across the finish line tomorrow night. Bush just said how important it is to send Sessions (who is sitting next to the Wohlgemonster and Gohmert) back to Washington -- and Rick Perry (how stupid is too stupid?), David Dewhurst, Tom Craddick and all of them are at the Bush rally in Dallas tonight -- so send them all a message tomorrow.

"He's from Massachusetts, and I'm from Texas" - why does President Bush continue to divide Americans by geography? I'm a native Texan, and I proudly voted for the junior senator from Massachusetts for President.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Short LAH Voter Tale

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Reading across the blogs today, there have been some interesting stories and report, official and personal, that talk about the large number of voters and the early voters. Some of that talk has been about Democrats being motivated to go early.

In our Liberal Arts Honors class of about 150 students, a place crawling with Liberals politically, the question was asked today, who has already voted? Very quickly and with amazing vigor, over 75% of the hands shot up in the room. As everyone suddenly took a breath in shock... wow.

I am willing to bet that in the on campus precincts, Kerry wins with between 63% - 68% of the vote. I'm also going to bet that there will be a couple of percentage points, i.e. more than 1% for Libertarian Badnarik. And of course, there will be some Nader and Cobb write-in votes, but I really don't feel those will amount to even a couple hundred votes.

By the way, if you live in precincts 147 or 148, meaning you live anywhere actually on the UT campus including Dobie or the Villas- you will VOTE TUESDAY at JESTER on the first floor from 7 am to 7 pm.

If you don't know where to vote or what precinct you are in, it's on your blue registration card OR you can search for your registration here and when you find yourself, it will list the precinct and location of voting.

If you already know your precint here in Travis, then go here to look it up with a handy map generator.

Quick Snap for UT students living just West and North of Campus.


261 Pearl Street Co-op
265 St. Austin Catholic Church (on Guadalupe)
266 Lamar Senior Activity Center
274 First English Lutheran Church
277 Taos Co-op (on Guadalupe)

Vote Democratic. Vote for Libertarians against Republicans where there is no Democrat. Vote FOR the Capitol Metro Transportation Plan at the very end of the ballot, even if you vote straight ticket.

Go early as you can as the lines for student precincts will start swelling around 10-11 a.m. through lunch, and then after people finish their classes. Don't worry, if you are in line to vote even at 7 p.m. they must let you vote.

VOTE and then GOTV.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sessions Needs Bush to Drag him to Victory

By Byron LaMasters

One GOP congressman in a non-swing state gets a last minute campaign rally with President Bush. Who is it?

Pete Sessions:

President Bush is coming to Dallas!!!

President Bush will be here for a late-night rally on his way to Crawford, where he will vote on Election Day.

Monday, November 1st
Southern Methodist University
Moody Coliseum
6024 Airline Drive
Dallas, Texas

I hope that Dallas Democrats will be outside with their Frost signs -- Bush would not be wasting election eve in Dallas if this race were anything but a dead heat. Frost can squeak this out, but only if all you guys in Dallas work your butts off to get out the vote tomorrow.

More at MyDD.

Update: Ok, comments say no Frost signs. The people on the ground in Dallas probably know better than I do, so listen to what the Frost folks are saying.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:40 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

New Anti-DeLay Radio Ad

By Byron LaMasters


More at Daily DeLay.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gillespie County / Fredericksburg Tax Freeze Vote

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It is the day before election day and back hom in my native land, Fredericksburg, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, there is a local issue driving turnout. Enabled by last year's series of Constitutional Amendments, counties and localities have the ability to enact Tax Freezes for those 65+ and the elderly.

From the Standard-Radio Post

Both the city and county property tax issues will determine if ad valorem taxes on residential homesteads here should be frozen at current levels for those 65 years of age and older and for those who are disabled.

The way for those two votes was paved during September 2003 statewide constitutional amendment balloting that allowed local governing entities to provide for such property tax freezes.

But when neither city nor county officials here chose to voluntarily implement permanent property tax freezes earlier this year, a group of local citizens circulated petitions in an effort to pressure city and county governing officials here to freeze property taxes.

With that, both officials of the City of Fredericksburg and the County of Gillespie decided to let all eligible voters within their voting constituencies decide the ad valorem issue on residential homesteads by scheduling city and county elections to run simultaneously with the Nov. 2 general election.

Turnout has been through the roof as well, though the clerk comments later in the story how it's been happening in other area communities that don't have the property tax freeze on the ballot.

At last count yesterday, a record early vote count of 4,910, ballots had been submitted in the county commissioner courtroom at the county courthouse for the combined general election and County of Gillespie property tax freeze election.

That total easily tops the previous high of 4,320 early ballots submitted here in the November 2000 presidential election.

Gillespie County has 16,486 registered voters as of this month. Judging from County Trends I would imagine a turnout in the high 60s, possibly low seventies. Unline Travis County where Early/Election voting is now split more or less 50/50, back home they slowly trending that way but are closer to the 40/60 range.

As to the actual issue at hand. It sounds like it would be just a great measure to vote for. Who's against seniors and the disabled? But that's not what the election is about. It's about the tax base and who pays their fair share for services.

There have been meetings about it and my father was quoted in that story. (He's in the picture too, second balding man from the left in the blue shirt.

Tom Musselman, a former Fredericksburg business man who now teaches school here, said he felt that a tax freeze is not good public policy.

"The tax base needs to be as broad as possible for all taxpayers," he said. "To me, this election is not just about high taxes; it is about who should share in the responsibility to pay the taxes that provide all citizens with services. This election is as much about social obligations as it is about property tax relief."

Musselman added that he does not think it fair to shift the tax burden from one segment of the local population to another.

"All citizens, including seniors who will be exempt from future tax increases, use city and county services that are paid for with property taxes," he said. "Cutting those services will reduce the quality of life that we enjoy in our community."

This has also put local Republican office holders (they hold all of them) in an interesting bind because as government officials, they know that cutting one area of taxes in a budget that is for the most part trim, means they will have to raise them somewhere else.

City Manager Gary Neffendorf noted that a property tax freeze would provide a budget shortfall to the city of around $15,000 the first year, followed by $30,000 the second year and $45,000 the third year before eventually reaching an estimated $700,000 shortfall in 10 years.

The Chamber of Commerce folks, the Republican Main Street Business folk, voted to oppose the measure, much to the consternation of other local pols. From the San Antonio Express News

But they're clearly concerned by appraisal district forecasts that the city and county will lose $3.3 million and $8.8 million in tax revenue from seniors by 2015, respectively, if the freezes pass.

The Gillespie County Economic Development Commission — made up of appointees of the city, county and chamber of commerce — voted this month to oppose the referendums.

"I understand that some can't afford tax increases, but there could be separate relief for those in danger of losing property," said Tony Klein, 55, panel chairman.

And one other thing, Gillespie Seniors ain't poor. Those who believe that the majority of our seniors are financially destitute need only to look at the facts. Gillespie County ranks 35th out of 3,140 counties nationwide (and #1 in the state) in average dividend income. It ranks 21st nationally (and 3rd in the state) in average interest income. (you can verify this info here ) We are not a poor county, and have not been for many years.

My father's full letter of opposition is in the extended entry. For those in Gillespie County and similiar counties with this on the ballot, VOTE NO on the Tax Freeze.

I have been a resident of Fredericksburg for 32 years. I am 53 years old, and teach social studies (Economics, AP U.S. History, and AP U.S. Government and Politics) at Fredericksburg High School. I have been a teacher for 13 years and am in my 11th year at FHS. I have paid property taxes to the county since 1978, and to the city since 2000. Prior to my teaching career, I was the general manager of two restaurants in Fredericksburg from 1976 to 1989 and have been a keen observer of our town’s growth.

I will be voting AGAINST the tax freeze for both Gillespie County, and the city of Fredericksburg. I think the tax freeze is not good public policy. I feel that the tax base needs to be as broad as possible in order to keep taxes as low, and as equitable as possible for all taxpayers. To me, this election is not just about high taxes, it is about who should share in the responsibility to pay the taxes that provide all citizens with services. This election is as much about social obligations as it is about property tax relief.

I realize that seniors will continue to pay taxes, but at a frozen rate. I feel it is not fair to shift the tax burden from one segment of our population to another. As our population grows (and I fully expect it will), demand for city and county services will continue to increase in the future. As a preferred retirement destination, our over-65 population will increase.

All citizens, including seniors who will be exempt from future tax increases, use city and county services, for example fire and police protection, streets and roads, and EMS services that are paid for with property taxes. Cutting these services will reduce the quality of life that we enjoy in our community.

- A tax freeze for seniors will shift the tax burden to everyone else. This will raise rents, costs to businesses, and the costs of goods and services to everyone.

- Those seniors living in assisted living facilities and government subsidized senior housing will not benefit from this tax freeze and could see their costs increase as a result of a tax freeze for other seniors.

- People whose taxes are frozen can vote for county and city programs and services that will result in higher cost for others.

- School taxes represent the bulk of a person’s tax bill. These taxes are already frozen for seniors over 65.

Wealth in Gillespie County and Fredericksburg has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. (Check out the money on deposit in local banks.) The 1970s and 1980s saw an influx of “newcomers” (or auslanders, as the local Germans call them). These people invested their wealth in developing business, creating jobs and helping to produce the atmosphere that has made Fredericksburg such a big tourist draw. These civic-minded people helped establish our notable Hill Country Memorial Hospital, and Admiral Nimitz Museum. These people became an integral part of the community.

However, in the past ten years, many people have moved here only to retire, not to invest. They have built gated communities and exclusive subdivisions with quarter-million dollar plus homes. Teachers, nurses, policemen, workers at Wal-Mart and waiters in restaurants are the people who will be shouldering the burden of any additional taxes generated because of an over-65 tax freeze.

Those who believe that the majority of our seniors are financially destitute need only to look at the facts. Gillespie County ranks 35th out of 3,140 counties nationwide (and #1 in the state) in average dividend income. It ranks 21st nationally (and 3rd in the state) in average interest income. (you can verify this info at http://trac.sys.edu/tracirs/ ) We are not a poor county, and have not been for many years.

I believe passage of the tax freeze would be detrimental to our community. In an era when we should strive for more cooperation to solve problems, the tax freeze would be divisive. If the tax freeze passes, I feel it would be bad for business. I feel it would result in higher costs, and fewer jobs. I feel that the young will not stay in the area, nor seek to return to Fredericksburg later in life. I believe the tax freeze would fundamentally change our community.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trying to make sense of Everything

By Byron LaMasters

It's been roughly 72 hours since checking my email, which means I have about 250 in my BOR and UT accounts. I'm catching up on a weekend of bloglines and CNN to figure out where everything stands. Overall, I'm much more confident than I was last week about the presidential race, and I ought to be home the rest of the day, so by this evening (unless I decide to take a nap), I'll probably have a flurry of posts (including a recap of my New Mexico trip).

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Burnt Orange in Oklahoma

By Byron LaMasters

I guess it's only fitting that since our readers had to view crimson and cream for three days after OU beat Texas, that students at OU get to read about burnt orange in their student newspaper today.

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

Back Safe in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

I got back to my apartment at 3 AM after a long trip back from Las Cruces, NM. We had a close call with a deer on Highway 290, and with a rabbit on the offramp to a rest stop on I-10, but we and (hopefully) the rabbit survived. I was able to swerve to miss the deer, and I think the rabbit made it across the road before the van got there, but I'm not entirely sure.

As for New Mexico -- I'll have a lot to say after I get some sleep, clean and take back our vans, and take my exam tomorrow (Monday). But, for now, I'll keep things brief. The field organization in Las Cruces (and I assume nationally) is just phenominal - something I can now say from first hand experience. While we canvassed on Saturday, we ran into dozens of people from ACT, the NAACP, ACORN as well as with the New Mexico Democratic Coordinated Campaign (where we were volunteering) doing about every kind of GOTV work imaginable. Voters and potential voters that were never touched in previous elections have received multiple phone calls and door knocks this year. I also had the chance to meet that elusive undecided voter, and I'm confident that I swinged a few undecideds and/or non-voters over to the Kerry side. I'll elaborate more later. I'm going to bed now, but I can at least go to bed with the confidence that there is abso-fucking-lutely no way that we lose this election on the ground. In 48 hours, John Kerry will be President-Elect. You can write it down.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:30 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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