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January 31, 2005

Now you know it's a bad idea

By Nathan Nance

In case you were sitting on the fence about whether privatization was a good thing or not, the news is that Tom DeLay is on board and his speech was the turning point in this weekend's meeting of Congressional Republicans.

According to The Daily DeLay, he actually said that the GOP has a "moral obligation" to promote privatization. I know, I can taste the vomit, too.

Democrats, of course, have a moral obligation to protect the American people from sleazeballs like Tom DeLay and their money-grubbing schemes.

Also from this weekend's meeting, a 104-page playbook on how to sell privatization to the American people.

The congressional Republicans' confidential plan was developed with the advice of pollsters, marketing experts and communication consultants, and was provided to The Washington Post by a Republican official. The blueprint urges lawmakers to promote the "personalization" of Social Security, suggesting ownership and control, rather than "privatization," which "connotes the total corporate takeover of Social Security." Democratic strategists said they intend to continue fighting the Republican plan by branding it privatization, and assert that depiction is already set in people's minds.

Interesting stuff, to say the least. You can go here to download a PDF copy of said playbook.

All this in anticipation of the campaign that starts as soon as the State of the Union is given to convince people that this really bad economic policy is actually a good one. We had better be ready.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 10:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Should I Run For SG President?

By Andrew Dobbs

All right, its that time of year again- SG elections are upon us. Filing begins today and as it stands two serious campaigns are underway- Jessica Rice with VP candidate Colby Can't-Remember-Her-Last-Name heading up one ticket and Omar Ochoa and Elizabeth Brummett heading up the other. It is a different campaign than the last two years- this year there are two "insider" campaigns and no largely "outsider" campaign such as the ill-fated Reprezent (which I ran on) last year and Envision the year before (which I helped defeat as a part of the victorious Students First campaign). Both presidential candidates are Democrats and I know that Brummett is a Republican and from my talks with Colby I suspect that she is as well.

One of these campaigns will win, and I'm okay with that. I like Jessica and Omar, I like Colby and have a great deal of respect for Elizabeth (she beat me last year in the election for 2 Year At Large Representative With One Year Remaining). Still, there are issues that can't be raised by a campaign that has a serious chance at winning and one of the biggest issues of them all (in my not-so-humble opinion), whether the ticket system is the best way to elect our representatives, can't be addressed by people running on tickets. Furthermore, while I like all of the candidates and think that anyone could be better than Brent "Please Don't Hurt Me" Chaney, I still don't see the junkyard dog spirit we need in a leader to take on the administration and the legislature if we wan't real change to occur. The SG should be a 2 Ton Gorilla around campus and in the Capitol, but it isn't because we tend to elect polite, well-dressed, popular lightweights to a job someone with an instinct for the jugular should be serving in. So while the odds would be against me, I feel that I have to stand up and be heard.

The obstacles are many. First is the fact that such a campaign would cost at least a little bit of money- signs, buttons, fliers, perhaps some t-shirts and a website. I don't have a lot of money right now and neither does my family. I could probably raise some, but I have a hard time asking for money from someone when I know I probably wouldn't win. Second is the time factor. I am taking 15 hours and working 25-30 hours a week in between everything else. I could cut back on my work hours and skip some class during the days and focus on speakers' circuit at night, but I people need to hear my message and such a set up isn't quite conducive to that. I have a lot more experience with generating media attention than my prospective opponents, so perhaps that will make up for the lack of time I can spend. Thirdly, there is the volunteer issue. At this late date, most of the people who would volunteer for a campaign have been picked up by one of the two major campaigns. Most of my friends are very busy people with large classloads and jobs. It would be a largely individual exercise on my part, which is fine- I almost prefer it that way- but the stress would be shouldered solely by me. Finally, there is the issue of friendships. I like Jessica Rice a lot and Omar has always been very friendly to me. I like many people on their respective campaigns, including several that are very close friends of mine. I wouldn't want to strain our friendships, and I could keep that from happening by running an issues-based campaign, but I am something of a polarizing figure in this community and I am afraid that the pressure to attack me or for me to attack them would create problems.

But it isn't all cons, there are some serious pros to the effort. Because of the lack of any outside alternative and only two tickets, right now the race would likely not go to a runoff. But with an independent alternative that could get 10% or more (my goal for the campaign), it would likely drive the race to a runoff. I could then play kingmaker and get some of my issues addressed. Moreover, before that I could use my endorsement to help sway the elections of representative and VP races- thus ensuring an assembly committed to the same things I am. My presence in the race could be enough to "win" without having to get 50% plus 1. Even if neither of these occurred, just speaking out could get people talking and in a year or so there could be a big push to change the way things are run. And finally, there is a small chance (very small) that I could actually win and get to do it all. So those keep me interested.

What issues am I talking about? First would be the ticket system. Interestingly enough, SG didn't have "tickets" in their elections before the late 90s. Before then every race was an independent student running against other independent students. But in the late 90s someone realized that if each candidate raised the maximum allowed donations and pooled them together under a single heading, they could get more publicity for everyone and have a better chance at winning. The system is not based on "platform" or ideology, but money. As a result, all the campaigns say the same things and nobody goes out on a limb to say something principled. Its always "more buses" and "get a student on the Board of Regents" but never any talk of tactics or anything serious in nature. Furthermore, because you want people with a broad base of support in the class of people who tend to vote and who can raise serious money. That means sweet little sorority girls and clean cut spirit group guys that have neither an agenda nor a fire for the job at hand get elected, leaving us with a weak and unfocused assembly. They can't fight for students because they aren't fighters.

Second would be the way we deal with the legislature. Right now we are in a great position to get tuition deregulation rolled back. The Republicans need to pass school finance if they want to be reelected, and they don't have the money for it right now. Without a payroll tax, they have very few options for the process outside of gambling. Gambling requires a constitutional amendment- 100 votes. There are only 87 Republicans, and many of those- perhaps a majority- will vote against gambling. There are maybe 5-10 Democrats that will side with them no matter what, and perhaps 15-20 who won't side with them because gambling is unpopular in their districts. This means at least 3 and perhaps as many as 45 Democrats will be needed to get their agenda through the lege. Democrats aren't going to give their votes away for free though. CHIP restoration is already happening, so it can't be used as a bargaining chip. The SG needs some tough people who know politics to pressure Dems to make tuition re-regulation a chief part of their agenda and to pressure the GOP leadership into realizing that tuition dereg is just another issue Kay Bailey and Carole Strayhorn are going to use against them. I think I can do that.

Thirdly, we need to get tough with some other institutions. The administration needs someone who can get in their face and who can rally students against them if need be. Slum lords who are gouging students need someone who can get tough with them. Agencies that are gobbling up student fees without proving their value to all students (and that they aren't simply promoting their political ideology with other people's money) need to be talked tough to. Education is too expensive right now because the SG has let so many different people, administrators, professors, politicians, landlords, bureaucrats, and on and on slap students around. We need leadership that is going to slap back, and I think I can provide that.

But I need to know what you all think. Many of you are a part of the University community and others are familiar with it. I know what some of you (chrisken) will say, but many others I don't. Should I run? Is it worth the sacrifice? Are my issues worth hearing? I want to hear what you have to say, and I will make my mind up by tomorrow evening.

Thanks a lot everybody, let's get to work!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 03:58 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Wonkette has arrived in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Washington D.C. has its online gossip queen, and with all the wackiness of the Texas legislature, it makes sense that Austin should have one as well. I had my chance a year ago, but I passed on taking it up full-time.

So, for those of you with the burning desire to know the answer to such questions as which state representative is knowledgeable in the art of feng shui, or which state representative has smeared Vaseline on her official photo, then check out Pink Dome.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Poor Losers, Poorer Losers and The POOREST Loser

By Byron LaMasters

Meet Talmadge Heflin [Houston Chronicle Editorial]

Via Greg and Kuff.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How The GOP Will Win in 2008

By Andrew Dobbs

I've started thinking a lot about the 2008 Presidential election on the GOP side. It is an interesting set up because without a sitting President or Vice President seeking the job (for the first time since 1952), a lot of opportunities present themselves. If there is an open primary anything can happen, including the nomination of someone less than stellar. But if Bush selects a successor things will be much smoother and the party could stay united behind a single standard-bearer. Either path is a possibility, but which is more likely? The answer lies not in President Bush, but in Karl Rove.

Karl Rove isn't content with having a two-term President in George W. Bush and a solid GOP majority in Congress. He and his colleagues in the GOP are seeking a permanent super majority- a set up wherein the GOP is the unquestioned majority ruling party for a generation or more. He seeks the eventual disintegration or at least marginalization of the Democratic Party. To do this, he must first create a united and competent GOP and simultaneously kick the slats out of the Democratic Party. To the end of the former, he will want Bush to name a successor and to the end of the latter he will want it to be someone who can take away serious demographic support from the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party has a majority in only a handful of demographics. The cornerstone of our survival are the overwhelming majorities we recieve in the minority community, particularly African Americans. If only white people voted we would lose every national and statewide election (with a small number of exceptions), if only racial minorities voted there would be no Republican Party to speak of. We also see a majority in college educated professionals, but much of that stems from our relative majority among women. If only men voted we would lose almost every election, if only women voted we would win almost every election. Other groups- academics, union members, gays, etc.- give us strong majorities, but their numbers are small enough and concentrated enough that they matter only on a local and occasionally state level, rarely on a national scale. All of this is to say that with a significant reduction in the level of minority support for the Democratic Party and an even greater reduction in the level of female support for the Democratic Party, we would be toast.

And if you think Karl Rove doesn't realize this you are a fool. He is going to get Bush to pick a successor to keep the Party united, and he wants one that can undermine the Democratic Party's base. A minority female who is well-qualified to be President. Someone who Bush has promoted up the ranks, with a national profile and intense loyalty to the Rove/Bush axis of power. Who could it be?

Could it be Dr. Condoleezza Rice?

I came up with this scenario not to long ago and only one thing has changed- I suspected that Cheney would resign as VP for health or family reasons and Bush would replace him with Rice, but now I doubt that that will happen. The reason being that such a move would require a second confirmation hearing for Secretary Rice, in both the House and the Senate. Democrats are likely to ask tough questions that could hurt her in a Republican Primary. I suspect she'll just resign as Secretary of State and Bush will stand next to her as she announces her candidacy for President.

Some of the questions that will be asked one way or another which could hurt her are:

"Madame Secretary, in 1999 newspapers reported that you are in favor of a woman's right to choose. Is this true, and if so, how do you think this will affect your standing with religious voters in the GOP primaries?"

"Dr. Rice, in 2003 you came out in favor of race-based affirmative action. How will this affect your standings in the GOP primaries?"

"Secretary Rice, in 2004 New York magazine reported that you accidently called President Bush your husband at a dinner party. While no one seriously suspects any kind of improper relationship, it does raise the question as to why you have never married. Is there anyone in your life romantically?"

To be fair, I think that the last question is beyond the pale, but it does not mean it won't be asked. An intensely right-wing religious nut a la Roy Moore or Rick Santorum (if he is reelected in 2006, which is looking increasingly unlikely) could use her pro-choice, pro-affirmative action stances and mix them with a whisper campaign about Rice's sexuality to cause her trouble in Iowa and New Hampshire. Still, she would be likely to run away with the GOP nomination and even if she only gets 35-40% of the Black vote and just a bare majority of the woman vote, she would beat the living daylights out of virtually every Democrat. She is likely to do quite a bit better in both of those categories.

So what to do? If a right winger were to beat her out in the primaries it would split the party down the middle and would taint the GOP as a party of racist misogynists to those who don't already believe that. We could win walking away. But the whole scenario is unlikely- Rice will have the backing of Bush and the smart money will be on her side. Any other campaign would have a hell of a time just keeping up with the well-funded behemoth Rice '08 would likely be.

More likely would be that a combination of factors could give the Democrats a fighting chance. Things are looking up in Iraq and the elections were a big success. Success in the political realm is likely to dampen the resolve of the insurgency and with continued success in military training, Iraq is not very far away from being self-reliant and free. But if something were to happen to change the fortunes- say a nationalist government is elected that asks the US to leave and either Bush does and a civil war erupts with an Islamofascist government ending up the victors or Bush doesn't and the insurgency becomes a much broader-based revolutionary uprising- Rice would likely have to carry that burden on her shoulders for the duration of the campaign. Also, a religious conserative is likely to run in the primaries against her and is almost certain to lose. But a Roy Moore type (who is leading in the early polls for governor of Alabama in 2006) could easily form a right wing third party to join forces with some of the independent organizations and movements already in place and strip away enough of Rice's GOP support to throw some Southern and Midwestern states to the Democrats. Finally, and this is not something I am suggesting but simply a phenomenon that is likely, Democrats could nominate a Southern male- Mark Warner, Phil Bredesen, John Edwards- for President who will pick up some of the racist/misogynist voters who would never vote for an African-American or a woman. Sadly, those people exist and are all throughout the GOP. A mixture of the three, with an empahsis on the second two, is likely. If Roy Moore raises questions about Rice's religious right credentials and then forms a third party movement to challenge her from the Right, that could strip several points from her and lose her several states, particularly if Southern voters are more comfortable with the Democratic candidate. Still, for every Southern white who votes third party or for a Democrat they don't particularly agree with, there will be an African American or female Democratic voter that will switch sides to see a Black woman in the White House. So Rice is likely to be in good shape.

It will be a tough battle if what I suspect happens. It will be tough because a part of me will be excited to see a woman, an African American woman, a person born in an age when her parents couldn't vote or sit at a lunch counter, a person who was likely told throughout her youth that unless she was a nurse, a teacher or a mother she would be of no use to society, a person who is undeniably intelligent and qualified become President. And it will be tough because we will likely be drawing dead against her. But perhaps I am wrong about all of this, I hope that I am.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Full ASDC Endorses Dean

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Just in from MyDD

The Chairs and Vice Chairs rejected the recommendation of the Executive Committee to back Fowler. They then did a roll-call vote, which Dean won:

The ASDC ballot

Dean 56
Fowler 21
Frost 5
Roemer 3
Rosenberg 3
Webb 3
Leyland 0
Abstain 5

That's 58% for Dean on the first ballot among the 96 ASDC Chairs and Vice Chairs that voted (Hotline)... I have class now, so debate and such later.

Update: [Byron] Webb drops out, endorses Dean. [MyDD]

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Back to the Future

By Jim Dallas

The ACS blog has a thorough post on Dr. Thomas Woods' "politically incorrect" (which is to say revisionist, at best) history of America.

Some times I have to thank the blog gods for timely coincidences; in this case, I must be thankful for Amitai Etzioni's post this week on collective guilt:

Etzioni, the grand old man of communitarianism, writes:

Communal responsibility is based on the fact that we are born into a community and share its history, memories, identity, achievements, and failures. We are not simply individual human beings, who can retreat behind a Rawlsian "veil of ignorance," secure in our universal rights and historical innocence. We are also members of specific families and communities. We cannot help but share their burdens, just as we share in their treasures; their responsibilities as well as their privileges. Thus, an American inherits both the proud memory of the Boston Tea Party and the agony of slavery; both the marvelous work of the Framers of the Constitution and the slaughter of Native Americans; the vigilant protection of freedom--from Greece to Korea--and the killing of innocent children, women, and other civilians in My Lai. The memory of slavery is particularly telling. Abolished some 134 years ago, before the ancestors of most contemporary Americans had even immigrated, slavery is still part of the American past; we cannot erase or ignore it. Most important, our aggrieved past commands us all to act, not merely the sons and daughters of plantation owners. We are all co-responsible for that which our community has perpetrated and condoned, for both past sins of commission and omission.

It needs to be stressed that Etzioni (who is Jewish) explicitly notes that he is not arguing in favor of "blood guilt." What's he's arguing is that, just as our children (as well as new immigrants) inherit our national debt in perpetuity, or our environmental catastrophes, so to do they inherit moral obligations, by virtue of being members of a collectivity, regardless of their race or religion.

Dealing with these obligations requires some maturity; Etzioni has some suggestions about that:

● First, it cautions not to look for easy scapegoats. While not denying, or diminishing their importance, one can never blame select power elites ("the Nazis did it, not the Germans"), objective conditions ("it happened because of runaway inflation, massive unemployment"), or even third parties ("Hitler was caused by the humiliating armistice imposed on Germany at the end of World War I") for the dark moments in one's communal past. I am not suggesting that external forces and objective conditions do not play a role in a nation's history; but they do not exempt one from sharing the responsibility for one's community and its course of action.

● Second, remember the past. Each generation of parents is obligated to recount the formative events of the past to its children. In the United States, we still mourn the circumstances, savagery, and massive bloodshed of the Civil War. Without drawing any parallels, it is a credit to Germany that as a community–albeit not every single German–it has learned to do the same concerning the history of the Nazi era.

And yet neo-Confederates and their sympathizers are ignoring both of these points, seeking out scapegoats and obfuscating our rememberance of the past.

Were it true that slavery was (as Woods apparently claims) not a cruel institution; were it true that the legacy of racism was not a stain on our history; were it true that America didn't have a history that involved the killing of labor organizers, were it true that our nation hadn't a history of imperialist aggression - were all these things true, perhaps history wouldn't be such a painful thing to read. All glory, and no shame, the way it ought to be.

I would hope, though, that we'd be big enough such that we'd engage history head on, instead of tuning out what we don't want to hear.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fill in the blanks

By Jim Dallas

Here's the source if you need a little help.

U.S. Encouraged by ____ Vote :
Officials Cite ____ Turnout Despite ____ Terror

United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in ____ election despite a ____ terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jeff Ortiz For City Council (of Nederland that is)

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The youngest candidate for a city council in Texas at the age of 22 announced his bid today, for the city of Nederland. He's been building up to this for a while, so go check out his website, he's got some new press stories over there.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Texas DNC Member David Holmes Responds

By Byron LaMasters

I emailed Texas DNC member David Holmes earlier this week to write a guest post on BOR in order to personally address two questions that have come up here on BOR and on other blogs. First, I wanted his opinion on the poll commissioned by Democracy for Texas of 2004 Texas State Convention delegates, and second I asked him to respond to accusations that there is a “disconnect” between the activists in Texas and the Texas DNC members. Here is his response:

I have been following the DNC Chair race discussions on this and other blogs very closely over the last couple of months and I have a few comments regarding the race and specifically comments made on this site.

I just started my second term on the DNC. During the first four year term, the only way to find out what was going in with DNC politics and activities outside of what they sent the members in press releases was to stay in touch with other DNC members. Blogs have changed that dramatically and have already made the party and candidates more transparent and responsive.

I have very little criticism of anything on this site – I read it as frequently as I can and appreciate seeing various people’s views and opinions. As a whole, the writers are very articulate, informed and accurate, including Karl-Thomas with whom I’m about to take issue on two matters: Texas DNC members’ connection to the grassroots and the now famous DFA survey of Texas Convention Delegates.

[Take the jump for the rest...]

I’ll discuss the non-poll first. To be accurate, a poll must be conducted by certain standards, almost none of which were followed in this poll. First, the poll was sent by an organization that many recipients recognized as biased toward one of the candidates. Second, the respondents were self-selecting rather than random, destroying any accurate reflection that might have been derived from the Delegates as a whole.

I am friends with the Dean supporters who conducted the survey and we have discussed the survey. They insist - and I believe them - that they thought Dean might come in second among Texas Conventioneers when they sent it out. But the “poll” actually means very little.

They did not publish these numbers with the results, but of the emails they sent out, 14% responded. That is not a bad return, but there is no way to rationally determine the degree to which those respondents represent the whole. It could mean, for instance that the other 86% did not like or know any of the candidates enough to vote for them – and Dean would obviously be the most well known of the candidates.

Regarding Texas DNC members and their connectedness to the “netroots” or grassroots: Not all of the DNC members who represent Texas are very connected to the netroots of the Party – in fact a number of them have probably never heard the term or read a blog.

It disappoints me, though, when I see people – particularly those as well informed as Karl-Thomas – conclude that to disagree with a portion of one of the many constituencies that make up the Democratic Party means that Texas’ DNC members are out of touch or non-responsive to their constituent’s desires.

I am probably more connected to the netroots and young people in the party than any of the other members in Texas. The DNC members chosen by the Black Caucus are probably more in touch with the members of that caucus than I am. The results of a play-poll do not have any bearing on who is in touch with what. I wanted to comment on those items and let everyone know that I have started a Yahoo Group with the purpose of maintaining a dialogue between Texas Democrats and their DNC members. On the new Group, you will find contact information for DNC members, web links to the DNC chair candidates, and informal polls.

I look forward to continuing the discussion…

David Holmes

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Abstinence Programs: An Exercise in Futility?

By Byron LaMasters

The first evaluation of abstinence-only programs used by the state of Texas shows that high school students have become more sexually active after abstinence-only edication became federal policy. The Dallas Morning News reports (emphasis mine):

Abstinence-only programs – the hallmark of the Bush administration's federal sex education policy – seem to have little impact on the behavior of Texas teenagers.

The first evaluation of programs used throughout the state has found that students in almost all high school grades were more sexually active after abstinence education. Researchers don't believe the programs encouraged teenagers to have sex, only that the abstinence messages did not interfere with the usual trends among adolescents growing up.

"We didn't find what many would like for us to find," said researcher Buzz Pruitt of Texas A&M University. [...]

Among the findings in the Texas study: About 23 percent of the ninth-grade girls in the study already had sexual intercourse before they received any abstinence education, a figure below the national average. After taking an abstinence course, the number among those same girls rose to 28 percent, a level closer to that of their peers across the state.

Among ninth-grade boys, the percentage who reported sexual intercourse before and after abstinence education remained relatively unchanged. In 10th grade, however, the percentage of boys who had ever had sexual intercourse jumped from 24 percent to 39 percent after participating in an abstinence program. [...]

Texas has now joined about a dozen other states that have evaluated their abstinence education programs. "By and large they got no changes in behavior," said Debra Hauser, vice president of the non-profit group Advocates for Youth, which has conducted studies that support more comprehensive sex education programs that include contraception.

How many studies will it take for people to realize that abstinence-only programs don't work? Sure, some kids will listen to such programs, but those students are those that are most likely to abstain from sex anyways. To many teens, you might as well tell them to jump off a cliff. Among these teens, how can you prevent unwanted pregnancies and STD's if you don't tell them how to prevent them? Well.... you can't.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

A Three Four-Way Race?

By Byron LaMasters

Wow. This is an upset. The executive committee of state party chairs endorsed Donnie Fowler today, via MyDD. The executive committee is the twelve member ASDC executive committee, not the entire ASDC.

People will debate the significance of this. I think it's obviously a disappointment for Howard Dean, as the frontrunner, but also a setback for Martin Frost as he missed an opportunity to clearly establish himself as the "anti-Dean" candidate in the race. Then again, this could all be overblown. The Fowler endorsement was only of a majority of the 12 member executive committee, and some of Fowler's voters are due to Michigan connections that he established as Fowler managed Kerry's 2004 Michigan campaign. Endorsements should be coming fast and furious over the next week, so the next few days ought to give us an indication as to whether this means anything.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The SD2 Summit

By Vince Leibowitz

On Saturday, more than 30 Democrats from across Senate District 2 gathered in Canton for the initial "SD2 Summit," a meeting geared toward electing a Democratic Senator in State Senate District 2 in 2006.

Considering filing doesn't open for about 300 days, and a primary is well over 12 months off, the turn-out was wonderful and everyone present seemed quite dedicated to dumping Dr. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) in the next election.

The SD2 Summit featured Christian Archer of the Archer Nathan Group, one of the leading consulting groups who help head up Take Back Texas, which was very active in the last election and sent out wonderful third-party mailers against Republicans like Talmadge Heflin, Bryan Hughes and others.

In addition to Christian Archer, other speakers included J.B. Mainord, who worked for the previous State Senator in SD2, David Cain; Dallas County Democratic Chairwoman Susan Hays who discussed campaign finance and election law; and Bill Brannon of Sulphur Springs, who recently completed a tour of duty with U.S. Congressman Max Sandlin's campaign.

Both SDEC members for SD2, Dr. Martha Williams, and Steve Tillery, were on hand, as were county chairs from Dallas, Van Zandt, Smith, Rockwall and Hunt Counties. Counties represented in attendence were Van Zandt, Smith, Rockwall, Hopkins, Fannin, Rockwall, Kaufman and Dallas. Delta and Rains counties were the only counties unable to send participants this time around.

Though it wouldn't be appropriate to discuss all of the strategy we talked about during the meeting, we did take several major, positive steps toward ensuring we can win this race in 2006.

Most importantly, we set up four committees to both help prepare for the coming race and keep and eye on Senator Deuell, as well as recruit candidates. The following committees are presently working hard to help take back East Texas and Senate District 2: Recruiting, Communications, Message Development, and Finance. Former State Representative Bob Aikin of Commerce is heading up the Finance Committee. One of our goals is to be able to develop a good donor base so we can eventually present that base with a candidate to support. Given that the previous incumbent in this district had raised as much as $1.2 million in the past, we should do all right in that area--especially when we show the donors we have a viable candidate and that the district is once again winnable.

Of particular interest to me was that some people from SD1, represented by Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and SD3, represented by Todd Staples (R-Palestine), came to see what we were doing just to listen and learn.

Since I don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet, I will simply say that it was a very, very productive meeting and that Bob Deuell will have a serious fight on his hands come 2006. I especially want to thank our gracious SDEC members Dr. Martha Williams and Steve Tillery for allowing me to put this meeting together--with tremendous help from my counterparts in Rockwall, Dallas, and Smith Counties.

Our next meeting (excluding committee meetings set between now and then) will be in April in Rockwall. Following that, meetings will be held in Terrell, Greenville and Sulphur Springs.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 10:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The News from Blanco

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I managed to find a more official statement on the County Chairs from my Senate District endorsing Howard Dean for Party Chair. And look what I came across over at the American Prospect...

POLLING THE 447: WAY DOWN IN TEXAS. The Democratic Party chair of Blanco County, Texas (LBJ’s birthplace) relays news that's sure to bring a smile to the Howard Dean campaign.

On Jan. 6, 12 Democratic County Chairs from the rural Hill Country west of Austin met and unanimously endorsed Howard Dean for National Chair. We have communicated our decision to Charles Soechting, Texas State Chair, and the entire voting delegation to DNC.

We let them know we are tired of seeing the same old policies and same entrenched people lead our party to defeat after defeat…Dean arouses enthusiasm among a wide spectrum of Democrats, will stand firm and push back against Bush and the Congressional Republicans and would be an articulate spokesman on television and in person. Plus, his use of the internet both to fund his campaign for President and to interact with his supporters is the single most innovative technique to emerge from the election.

Though the writer is not one of the 447, this rural, west Texan unanimity for Dean bodes well for the Northeastern doctor.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Post-modernism defined

By Jim Dallas

It really irritates me to see polemicists body-slam "postmodernism" without any apparent knowledge of what they are talking about.

Brad DeLong apparently agrees.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

CNN on the string of costly government info-tech boondoggles.

I've been involved in a couple minor-league, private sector boondoggles. They're not fun, and usually attributable to poor planning.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Representative Government?

By Byron LaMasters

I'm pleased that the Iraqi elections were completed without widespread violence, however, I fear that the National Assembly will hardly be representative of the Iraqi people. Via Juan Cole are some Zogby Poll results:

Sunni Arabs who say they will vote on Sunday: 9% Sunni Arabs who say they definitely will not vote on Sunday: 76% Shiites who say they likely or definitely will vote: 80% Kurds who say they likely or definitely will vote: 56%

What would be the American equivalent of such results? Juan Cole adds more:

On the other hand, if the turnout is as light in the Sunni Arab areas as it now appears, the parliament/ constitutional assembly is going to be extremely lopsided. It would be sort of like having an election in California where the white Protestants all stayed home and the legislature was mostly Latinos, African-Americans and Asians.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

On Hubert Vo

By Byron LaMasters

I'm cautiously optimistic from what I've heard from people familiar with the hearings. According to one source, Vo still leads in Hartnett's count by over a dozen votes after all of Heflin's challenged votes have been ruled on. Kuff has the best recap of everything, so give it a read.

Update: Greg Moses pegs Harnett's count of Vo's lead after complete review of all voter depositions at 13.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Some Background Notes

By Byron LaMasters

Southpaw has some background notes of the 2004 Frost race from someone who had a first-hand perspective of it all. It's definitely worth a read if you're from out of state, or did not have the chance to follow the Frost/Sessions race, along with the other Texas congressional races this cycle.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iraqi Elections

By Jim Dallas

Polls are slated to close in about 75 minutes (at 8 a.m. Houston time, or 5 p.m. Baghdad time).

Turnout is high in some places, low in others. There were several cowardly bombings in Baghdad, as well as other acts of violence.

Will the elections produce a clear winner? Juan Cole points to a poll that shows the UIA (the group associated with, et alia, moderate Shi'a clerics) to have a large plurality, but not a majority.

Nonetheless, perhaps the biggest issue for most Iraqis is the one that's not on the ballot: whether the U.S. should disengage.

P.S. Don't expect results any time soon. We're gonna have us a good ol' fashioned American-style election, with weeks worth of counting, accusations about accounting, possible recounts, etc.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Newt Gingrich is blogging trying to get together Newt Meet-ups.

And darn it, I find this at once both fascinating and highly worrisome, speaking as a Democrat.

On the other hand, I'd really like to see the Republicans go back to the 1990s, when they were making sense. That would be good for America.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 29, 2005

We want Keyes

By Jim Dallas

Oliver Willis finally has the infamous mosh clip available for viewing on his site.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

One Republican Drops out in HD 121 Race

By Byron LaMasters

This certainly shows that Rose Spector is giving the GOP a scare in HD 121:

The field for the Texas House District 121 race shrunk to three candidates Friday when Republican Glen S. Starnes withdrew from the race, although his name will remain on the ballot.

"I believe that the Democrats are waging a very strong campaign, and I do not want even one vote displaced for a Republican in that district," said Starnes, a financial adviser.

The election is Feb. 5; early voting runs through Tuesday.

Starnes, 39, was one of two Republicans seeking the seat. The other, Joe Straus III, already has garnered key endorsements from elected area leaders, including U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth and County Commissioner Lyle Larson.

Starnes said he plans to add his name to the list of endorsements and actively campaign for Straus, 45.

Because the ballots already have been printed, Starnes' name will remain on the ballot, and his vote totals will be reported election night, said officials with the Bexar County Elections Department.

I figured all along that Straus and Spector would be the two candidates advancing to a run-off, but Starnes withdraw makes it possible that the race will be decided next Saturday.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Early Austin City Council Handicapping

By Byron LaMasters

Coming up this April are three Austin City Council races. While both Daryl Slusher and Jackie Goodman are term-limited, Austin has an embarrassment of riches to replace them. In the third race (Place 4), Betty Dunkerly shouldn't have too much trouble winning a second term.

One of the open seats (Place 1) will likely go to Lee Leffingwell, who has a healthy lead in money raised and name identification in one of the races. The other race (Place 3) is still rather wide open at this point. The View From the Left has this to say:

It appears the only real race (sorry, Jennifer) will be in Place 3, with Gregg Knaupe, Jennifer Kim, Mandy Dealey (who lost to Ann Kitchen in the Democratic Primary for State Rep District 48 in 2000) and the annointed front-runner Margot Clarke, who lost to current Councilman Brewster McCracken in a run-off in 2003. There's no way Clarke can pull this off without a run-off. I look for either Knaupe (who is excellently qualified for the council post having worked for the Texas Hospital Associationor and orchestrating last year's Healthcare District victory) or Kim to join her in the run-off, with Clarke probably winning in the end.

I'd say that Clarke is probably the frontrunner at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised if Knaupe leads the first round of voting. Clarke led the first round of voting two years ago largely becuase she was the only female candidate in a field of eight. She had a strong central Austin base, but she failed to expand beyond that base in the run-off. I'm skeptical of Clarke's ability to change that this year. Dealey has the ability to self-finance much of her race, so it would not surprise me if she sneaks her way into the run-off as well. Kim is a good candidate that in another year might have a decent shot, but I expect her to trail in name identification this time around even though she currently leads in fundraising. All four candidates have strong Democratic credentials, and Austin would be well served by any of the four.

Margot Clarke
Mandy Dealey
Greg Knaupe | Blog
Jennifer Kim

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Labor and DNC

By Byron LaMasters

I'll try to make this my last DNC post of the day. Karl-Thomas noted how Dean rolled out a new batch of DNC member endorsements including a few affiliated with labor. One can look at that development several ways. Is it the begining of a trend? Or is it an attempt to preempt a move by labor towards Frost or another candidate?

One of the key issues for labor appears to be the Fowler Amendments. The amendment would reduce the number of appointments made by the DNC Chair of at large DNC members from 75 to 25, and give the remaining 50 seats to the four regional memberships for appointment. Frost and Rosenberg oppose the amendment because they fear that it decrease diversity among the DNC membership. Dean, Fowler and Webb (I believe) support the amendment.

Also taking sides on this issue is ASDC - the group of state leadership types, which of course, support the decentralization plan. Interests groups, notably labor, oppose the plan. I personally have mixed feelings on the proposal. It's important to have some at large seats in order to ensure racial diversity, and ensure that various factions receive fair representations, i.e. labor, GLBT, youth, etc. On the other hand, I'd like to see power decentralized from D.C. I think the most sensible idea would be a compromise of some sort.

I think that the system that the Texas Democratic Party uses for its executive committee makes a lot of sense. The SDEC (State Democratic Executive Committee) is made up of a male and a female member from all 31 state senate districts, then there are add-on members for various groups, i.e. Stonewall Democrats, Young Democrats, African-American and Latino Democratic groups, etc. The top ranking male and female officers in such groups have an automatic seat on the SDEC. Such a system could be used similarly with the DNC , for example, allowing decentralization, but giving the regional groups "diversity goals" in order to maintain a diverse DNC.

Anyway, as it is currently writen, Labor opposes the Fowler amendment, and the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) endorsed Frost yesterday. This may be a sign of movement of labor towards Frost, or it could just be one individual union bucking the trend, but the I've posted the endorsement in the extended entry...


One of the nation's largest worker organizations, the 1.4 million member United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), is backing Martin Frost in his fight to rebuild the Democratic Party as chair of the Party's national committee.

"Working America needs a political action program that respects it values, is based in its community and addresses its needs from good jobs to affordable health care. Martin Frost has the plan to build the national Democratic Party from a grassroots base, reconnecting the party to its core beliefs, and to its state and local leaders. The UFCW enthusiastically supports Frost for Chair of the Democratic
National Committee," said UFCW International President Joe Hansen.

The union's decision focused on Frost's background as a successful elected representative with a pro-worker agenda from the heart of Texas. His grassroots campaigns stripped away political labels, and concentrated on the people and their issues. For 30 years, Frost was a thorn in the side of the anti-worker establishment who could not figure out how to drive a wedge between Frost and his constituents, or how to beat him in a fair election. Only after rigging the election district could they take his seat in Congress.

The UFCW is America's neighborhood union with hundreds of thousands of members in neighborhood grocery stores. "UFCW members are part of the community. With their work at the meat counters and checkout lines at thousands of supermarkets across the country, they are connected to daily life of America. So is Martin Frost., and so must be the future of Democratic Party," said Hansen.

The UFCW is urging other unions and the AFL-CIO as well as allies at the DNC to also support Frost. His platform to build a small donor base on the Internet, develop a strategic communications plan, and to develop a new generation of leaders and candidates from the ground up is in line with union efforts to activate workers with neighborhood and workplace programs.

The UFCW is one of the largest unions in the AFL-CIO, and is one of the most active unions in member mobilization for political and issue action.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Soechting's Letter

By Byron LaMasters

I saw this post over at MyDD. Apparently, Martin Frost has angered some people by claiming that Dean "could hurt Democratic efforts to compete in less liberal areas of the country". While I don't think that Howard Dean is too liberal to be party chair, the perception of him by many Americans is firmly in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

It's interesting that Martin Frost has the opposite perception. He's a progressive Democrat with a more conservative perception based on his past campaign. Furthermore, Martin Frost may be confronting Howard Dean in this campaign, but that's what these campaigns are for. As long as it's not too negative, I can understand the need for all of the candidates to make distinctions and comparisons of their records.

Finally, there is so much blogosphere outrage when Martin Frost makes a distinction between himself and Howard Dean, but where is the outrage of anonymous front groups like "DNC Chair Fact Check"? I don't hear it.

Anyway... take the jump for the full letter by Charles Soechting to DNC members.

From the Desk of Charles Soechting

January 27, 2005

Dear Fellow DNC Member,

Please take a few minutes to read this brief message. Like you, I am tired of the avalanche of mail, e-mail and phone calls, but I ask you to make room for just one more. This is worth your time.

In the past few days, you may have received an inaccurate, cowardly email attack from a front group misleadingly named "DNC Chair Fact Check" that tries to smear Martin Frost by distorting both the context and effect of two TV ads aired by his campaign for re-election last year in a 65% Republican district.

And today, we read that "prominent [Howard] Dean supporters have begun to distribute" descriptions of the same ads, according to ABC News's "The Note" (1/27/05). As much as I may like Governor Dean, this is just wrong. Let's spend our time fighting Republicans, not smearing each other.

To rebut this dishonest, dishonorable campaign, let me very clearly set the record straight.

  • The purpose of the ads - as any Democrat who has tried to win in a Red State will immediately recognize - was to demonstrate that Martin's GOP opponent, Pete Sessions, is a dangerous extremist well outside the mainstream, more extreme than even George W. Bush and other Republicans.
  • The ads focus on an airline security vote on which Frost voted with every Democratic member of the U.S. House and Senate, while Sessions was in a minority of only 9 - again more extreme than even George W. Bush and other Republicans.
  • The ads do not praise any Republican, and they do not attack any Democrat. The cowardly email attacks circulated this week are simply inaccurate attempts to mislead you.
Perhaps even more important is the fact that where these TV ads actually ran, the Democratic base was energized and the campaigns of other Democratic candidates benefited from the Frost campaign, contrary to the implications of this cowardly attack.

In fact, Martin's 2004 campaign could serve as a model for Democrats who are running in equally tough territory around the country. The campaign involved hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers, including Democrats of all races, union members, and many of the most ardent progressives in a tough, aggressive grassroots campaign.

Martin refused to back down against enormous odds - standing up to DeLay and Rove by refusing to retire when their illegal redistricting scheme forced him into a 65% GOP district.

Martin showed the kind of strategic skill our Party desperately needs by challenging Republicans on security issues while seeking out and energizing Democrats in both base precincts and hostile territory. In the process, he put together one of the strongest grassroots Congressional campaign ever - finding, organizing and turning out
Democrats in both low turnout Hispanic precincts and some of the most Republican precincts in Texas. - building the Party and scoring historic Democratic victories in local races below him on the ballot.

My point is very simple: in Dallas, where these ads ran, Martin's campaign did not discourage Democrats, it increased Democratic turnout.

Here in Texas, we're used to Republicans like Karl Rove and Tom DeLay using damned lies and dirty tricks to launch character attacks against tough, effective Democrats like Martin Frost. Whoever made this attack clearly has no idea what it takes to win in tough districts - in "Red States" like Texas or anywhere else in the country.

I trust that you know better. Most of you have had the opportunity to get to know Martin Frost, to talk to him about his vision to build a stronger DNC, and to talk to those of us who can personally testify to his unparalleled track record as a proven manager, winning strategist, innovative organizer, and disciplined national
spokesperson who can represent Democrats in every region of the country.

No one in this campaign has done as much to elect other Democrats in tough races than Martin Frost. Over the past 26 years - reinventing and then running the most successful DCCC in modern history and driving Newt Gingrich from Congress, directing our efforts to preserve Democratic power in Texas during the height of the Bush era,
and organizing Democrats at the state, county and national levels - Martin's credentials as a successful partisan fighter for Democrats have been unmatched. And his 2004 campaign was no exception. (His campaign is rightly credited with electing the first Democrats to Dallas County office in 20 years.)

And finally, using George W. Bush in TV ads to discredit his Republican opponent as a wide-eyed extremist - more extreme than even Bush himself - did nothing to slow down our efforts to elect Martin or any other Democrat.

Not too long ago, Howard Dean said on national TV, "So there's some agreement that I have with the President. I daresay other Democrats find some common ground with the President." I know for a fact that Martin Frost does not agree with George W. Bush on much, and that he has fought and beat him on behalf of Democrats for years; but on the
occasions when Bush is with other Democrats, Martin knows how turn that into another one of the tools he uses to elect Democrats in even the reddest of Red States.

If you have any questions about Martin's unmatched record of success for Democrats, please do not hesitate to call on me.

Charles Soechting
Chairman, Texas Democratic Party

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tom Delay in the Middle East

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thank you.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rosenberg, Dean Pick up DNC Votes

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

While many more DNC votes will likely be made public after this weekend (and while Frost is busy makeing the Dean v. Frost race about ideology again instead of reform), Rosenberg and Dean make their final round of DNC endorsements.

First, Dean picks up the endorsement of former DNC Chair candidate Harold Ickes, the best indicator of what the Clintons may be thinking...

While Ickes would not comment on the Clintons' preferences, he is a close ally and would not be endorsing Dean against their strong objections. No one was immediately available in Sen. Clinton's office to comment.

Ickes said Dean "has a real ability to communicate with people in leadership, but also to grass-roots and average Americans. He understands the need for party building."

Ickes' endorsement comes at a critical time in the chairman's race and gives Dean almost 50 of the more than 215 votes he would need to win the post.

Also, Dean picked up just under 20 more DNC votes today, many from California, but a mix as before.

Steven K. Alari - California DNC Committeeman and DNC Executive Committee Member

Jeremy Bernard - DNC Member-at-Large

Rachel Binah - California DNC Committeewoman, Former Chair of the Environmental Caucus, California Democratic Party

Mary Ellen Early - California DNC Committeewoman

Ed Espinoza - California DNC Committeeman

Jimmie Farris - Tennessee DNC Committeewoman

Hon. Mike Fitzgerald - DNC Member, Chair of National Association of Democratic State Treasurers

Alice Huffman - California DNC Committeewoman and Chair of 2004 Democratic National Convention

Hon. Pete Jorgensen - Wyoming DNC Committeeman

Johnnie Patton - Mississippi DNC Committeewoman

Alexandra Gallardo Rooker - California DNC Committeewoman, Vice-Chair of the California State Democratic Party and Vice President CWA Local 9400

Aleita J. Huguenin - California DNC Committeewoman

John A. Perez - California DNC Committeeman and UFCW Local 324 Political Director

Garry S. Shay - California DNC Committeeman

Smith Bagley - Former DNC Finance Vice-Chair

Hon. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)

Hon. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)

Debra DeLee - Former Chair of the DNC and CEO of 1996 Democratic National Convention

Hon. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.)

Notice the Labor tags on a couple of those endorsements. Could be indicative of where labor is going, or at least that Dean is making sure he isn't getting left out with that crowd.

Also, Rosenberg announces 4 DNC votes, bumping him up in the "DNC Votes Not From My Home State" category. DNC Members Mark Bryant (MO), Gloria Nieto (At-Large, NM), and Moretta Bosley and Jo Etta Wickliffe (KY) are behind him now. (The Simon for Chair website is down so I have no link.)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

Jimbo's first official 2006 endorsement.

By Jim Dallas

It's January and I'm already getting letters from the very senior Senator from Massachusetts.

Rest assured, Senator Kennedy, I support your re-election! I just don't have any money right now.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Jesse Lee of the D-Trip's Stakeholder blog and Old Man Wythe are having a terribly civil debate about party-building.

While Greg is no big fan of Howard "Come-All-Ye-Children" Dean, it's clear that he's got some good ideas about party building. You know, like running more candidates. It's such a good idea it'll make you want to scream!

Also, I'll ask here what I said earlier in Greg's comments: why on earth do we elect the SDEC out of state senate districts (instead of, say, fixed groupings of counties)? Have you seen a map of state senate districts recently? Do they bear any relationship to political reality? No. And they always mange to get even funnier lookin' each 10 years. Makes it kind of hard to give the SDEC long-term leadership when their base constituents keep shifting around.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A few words about freedom

By Jim Dallas

First off, I have tremendous respect for teachers and professors. That said, I want to say a few words about how they do their jobs.

I hear through the Kos grapevine that up in Ohio they want to pass an Orwellianly-titled academic freedom bill of rights. It's a big bundle of "thou shalt nots" targetting college professors who allegedly inject irrelevant personal opinions into things.

I don't need to tell you that this is a horrendous idea. On the other hand, though, I think it's important that professors who teach get rewarded and professors that preach get penalized.

But how to do it without making a mockery of freedom? So, once again, I must present that old solution: merit pay. Specifically, Adam Smith's proposal. Seeing that "the greater part of the public
professors have, for these many years, given up altogether even
the pretence of teaching" in his own time, Smith suggested tying professor salaries to how many students that sign up for their lectures. And to insure that the students are "bribed" into signing up for easy courses, I propose institution-wide grading and attendance standards.

I'm sure that's a solution that these pro-market, pro-accountability Republicans can endorse, no?

P.S. I see those flaming lefties at the American Enterprise Institute already had the same idea.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Frost and the Success of 2004 Dallas Democrats

By Byron LaMasters

In 2004 Dallas County Democrats had perhaps their most successful election in twenty years (on a countywide level). They elected a Democratic Sheriff for the first time since the 1970s, and Democrats picked up three GOP-held judicial seats. Naturally, everyone wants to take credit for such success. But instead of debating over who worked harder, who donated more, who ran the best ads or who registered the most voters, it makes the most sense to take a good, hard look at the numbers, because the numbers don’t lie.

Last week, Anna wrote this:

i've seen all sorts of folks whom i respect write that martin helped downticket dems. i don't believe this is borne out by the numbers. byron over at BOR attributes the high turnout in dallas county, as well as the judgeship and sherriff victories, to martin's campaign (i hope i'm not misinterpreting what you said, B). i respectfully disagree, and here is why. i think that in order to really get an idea of who martin's race affected the downticket dems, we need to focus on the numbers that came out of martin's district and how the non-martin candidates fared there. then we need to look at the county-wide totals. but you can't really just throw out the county-wide totals and claim that's the end-all-be-all assessment.

I had hoped to respond earlier, but it took about a week to get the numbers that I needed to make my points about how the 2004 Martin Frost campaign affected downballot races. At the December 2004 Dallas County Young Democrats meeting, former SDEC member of the 23rd Senatorial district, and well-known Democratic freebooter Gary Fitzsimmons presented his analysis of the 2004 election results. Gary didn’t work for the Dallas County Democratic Party or the Martin Frost campaign. He’s just a well respected activist who crunches the numbers after the elections and presents the results to local Democratic clubs.

Gary’s presentation effectively showed that much of the success of Dallas County Democrats (winning the race for sheriff and three judicial races) was due to the GOTV operation of the Martin Frost campaign as opposed to any of the efforts put forth by the Dallas County Democratic Party. He prepared a PowerPoint presentation to present to Democratic clubs which you can download here.

I’ll explain this slide-by-slide. Slide two shows how turnout in 2004 in Dallas County was up sharply. The 58% turnout of 2004 contrasts sharply with the 49% turnout of 2000, and the 52.5% turnout of 1996. Slide three shows how the number of registered voters compares to the number of voters in each presidential election since 1992. The number of registered voters varies greatly from 1992 to 2004 as the county “cleaned up” it’s voter rolls at various points. That explains the decline in registered voters between 2000 and 2004, while the number of voters in 2004 increased by over 70,000 from 2000.

Slide four makes some noteworthy comparisons. It takes a look at each congressional district that contains a portion of Dallas County – 3, 5, 24, 30 and 32, and compares the percentage of the vote received by three candidates. First, is the vote of (losing) 2002 Democratic DA candidate Craig Watkins, second the vote share of 2002 U.S. Senate candidate Ron Kirk (also lost), and third is the vote of the victorious 2004 Democratic Sheriff candidate Lupe Valdez.

Watkins' race is a good benchmark race for DPI in Dallas County in 2002. The DPI (Democratic Performance Index) of Dallas County in 2002 in 2002 can be generally pegged at 48-49%. Watkins received 48.8% of the vote in his race. Kirk, meanwhile won Dallas County with 50.2% of the vote in 2002. In 2004 the DPI of Dallas County was pretty much right at 50%. Valdez won her race with 51.35% of the vote. That's a 2.5% increase over Craig Watkins vote in 2002. Where did that increase come from? Much of it came from the District 32 portion of Dallas County. Slides four and five show how Lupe Valdez improved on Craig Watkins 2002 performance by a full 6% in the 32nd Congressional District. That effectively amounts to nearly 12,000 votes (slide 5).

Valdez won by just over 17,000 votes, so Martin Frost’s GOTV operation can legitimately lay claim to providing over two-thirds of her victory margin. However, assuming that Valdez’s improvement over Watkins’ performance remains a relative constant for all Democrats in the 32nd district (and the evidence suggests as much), Martin Frost’s GOTV operation can legitimately claim to providing the entire margin for two of the three victorious Democratic judicial candidates. Judge Don Adams and Judge Dennise Garcia won their races by 5000 and 7000 votes respectively. The ability of Martin Frost to raise the DPI in the 32nd Congressional District in 2004 easily provided the entire margin of victory for both.

Another example of the Martin Frost campaign helping Dallas County Democrats is with the campaign of State Representative candidate Harriet Miller (slide 6). Harriet ran in a state representative district partially within the 32nd Congressional district. She took on a longtime incumbent Republican, and ran nearly a full ten points ahead of DPI, losing with 47% of the vote. Miller’s campaign was one of the biggest surprises of election night in Texas. Her race was not highly targeted by the state party nor typical interest groups that generally engage the top state representative campaigns. Texas Tuesdays and BOR didn’t mention the race, because I pretty much expected her to get in the low 40s. Well, Harriet Miller surprised us all, and got 47%. Why? Harriet Miller ran a great campaign, and Martin Frost raised the DPI of the district with his campaign. Because of that, Harriet Miller is running for state representative again in 2006. You can bet that we’ll be paying attention this time.

Slides seven through twelve focus on the turnout in various state senate districts, so that’s not particularly relevant to our discussion of Martin Frost here, but in my analysis, I’m inclined to give the Martin Frost campaign much of the credit for the success of Dallas Democrats in 2004. Gary Fitzsimmons comes to similar conclusions:

The Martin Frost campaign improved Democratic performance in Congressional District 32 by 3% to 8% depending on race. Lupe Valdez ran 6% ahead of DPI in the congressional district [...]

The Martin Frost campaign was responsible for the overall improvement of the Democratic margin countywide. The more aggressive Democratic campaigns were able to capitalize on this improvement.

Most Democratic improvement came from outside the Democratic base and probably resulted from Frost’s intensive voter persuasion efforts.

Furthermore, I’m inclined to credit the Martin Frost campaign for much of the success of Dallas County Democrats as the Dallas County Democratic Party is in relative disarray. The activist base in the county Democratic Party has become increasingly disenchanted with the county party chair, and several high dollar donors have cut their contributions to the county party after some of the actions of the county chair, notably her endorsement of a Republican judge. At least five Dallas County Democratic clubs have passed resolutions denouncing her leadership.

There are a few examples here: Dallas County Young Democrats, Dallas Stonewall Democrats, the Lake Highlands / White Rock Democrats, Dallas County East Democrats and the Richardson / Northeast Democrats. This may all seem beside the point, but I think that this information reinforces my point. The evidence from both the voting data, and the analysis of Gary Fitzsimmons suggests very strongly that much of the Dallas County Democratic success in 2004 can be attributed to the Martin Frost campaign while the turnout efforts of the Dallas County Democratic Party among the base were relatively mediocre.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:17 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

A County Chair's Words

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The following comment was left by the County Chair of Taylor County (Abilene) on an older post of mine about how grassroots Democrats in SD 24, one of the more Republican districts, are organizing on their own to Change the Equation. They also happened to all endorse Howard Dean.

Karl's article says the vote for Dean for DNC at the SD24 county chairs' meeting earlier this month was "unofficial" and many of us weren't "rabid Deniacs" last summer.

I was there, and it was unanimous. I don't know what it takes for something to be "official."

And I don't know what our feelings last summer have to do with our choice for DNC chair now.

I think use of the term "rabid Deniacs" plays into the hands of the Republican opposition, which has said some very desperate things to discredit Gov. Dean. Like about the "scream" speech. Those who check into it can see he was trying to speak above the roar of his ecstatic volunteers, and the mike the networks used was unidirectional, capturing only his words and not the background noise.

That said, I wouldn't mind being called a "rabid Deniac" last summer or now, even though I was as loyal to Kerry after his nomination as anyone else.

-Dave Haigler
Taylor County Democratic Chair
Abilene, Texas

At the time I didn't have duplicate confirmation of the vote that was taken to endorse Dean being something that was public or not, so I went on the cautious side with my language. And my use of the "rabid Deaniac" statement was not to be degrading but to further highlight the point that since such an endorsement was coming from a region where many of the chairs were for other candidates and not "drinking the Dean kool-aid" like I was, their endorsement is all the more telling of the opinion of those on the ground in Texas.

Because it isn't news if a DFT poll says Dean supporters support Dean or if Texas DNC members support Frost... (I'm comprimising with you Byron) But I think it is news when there are multiple signs of the everyday Democrat and county level Party folk speaking up for Dean. If the MoveOn.org vote in the state shows the same thing, there is only so far you can run with the "well, that's not a surprise" meme until you have to deal with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the majority of the "Democratic National Committee of Millions of Democrats" are on the same page.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Why I don't like George W. Bush

By Nathan Nance

Byron wrote a post after Inauguration Day about Bush's speaking ability to speak in public. Most, if not all, of us not only can't stand the content, but the way he speaks. He's just a horrible speaker.

It's taken 4 years and countless blunders by the administration, but it finally clicked for me why I don't like him.

I was driving down the road listening to a song on the radio and I remembered how he referred to Sept. 11th; as a day of fire. At the heart of that lies this belief that it was a day that God called him to greatness. The rhetoric that he uses makes it seem like a grandiose event; he's using eloquent words to describe a day of indescribable brutality. I think that somehow belies the reality of the situation, that thousands died by an act of cowardice by small, petty men.

That rhetoric lifted what was an act of cowardice into some epic struggle of good vs. evil. I think I see some measure of selfishness and ego in that, and it lifts these small men into giants. That gives them a bullhorn to shout their stupidity at the rest of the world.

Sept. 11th was real, it was brutal. People died, bodies were mangled beyond recognition and buildings were felled. It was ugly. We don't need Bush using soaring rhetoric to describe it, we need him to talk about what happened, the reality of it. We were there, we experienced it; we can take it.

And the thought that maybe he's using this event because he thought it was his shot at greatness in an otherwise unremarkable presidency, or as political cover for his other failed policies makes me not like him.

Nate can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 03:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Young Democrats, You Control 3 DNC Votes

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If you are a member of a Young Democrats chapter, you can vote for DNC chair in the Young Democrats of America online Poll, which will determine where the 3 votes we control go for DNC chair.

So all you University Democrats at UT-Austin and otherwise, head on over and make your voice heard. Unlike DNC members from Texas not paying attention to the wishes of the grassroots of the State Democratic Party, you can make a difference this time.

Vote in the Poll Here.

Byron, since it's a rigged poll, I wouldn't expect you to vote in it. :)

Also, if you are in Arizona, your State Chair actually wants your imput on how to vote. So you can go vote here as well!

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:56 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

More DNC votes for Dean

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Though I'm sure Byron will end up in Frost's camp at some point, giving him one of few precious blogger endorsements, Dean announces today at least 6 more actual voting members of the DNC. (Plus the endorsement of Mame Reiley, Chair of the DNC Women's Caucus and DNC member from Virginia yesterday.)

Passing over (former) fellow Congressman Frost would be Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, immediate past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who endorsed Dean (and is having a public breakfast with him on February 24, for those of you in Maryland).

Next would be Joel Ferguson — Vice Chair DNC Black Caucus, which I find interesting considering Yvonne Gates, chair of the DNC Black Caucus, endorsed Dean as well this past week. Makes you wonder if something is up in the Black Caucus...and also where some of Webb's votes will go after he's falls out of the voting, and if the one Texas DNC black caucus member who held off from endorsing Frost because of the Black Caucus doing it's own thing means anything...

Other voting members include...

Patricia Ford — DNC Member-At-Large, Former International Exec VP SEIU

Hon. Joe Moore — Chair of the National Democratic Municipal Officials Conference (DNC member)

Gus Bickford — Massachusetts DNC National Committeeman

Patsy Arceneaux — Louisiana DNC National Committeewoman

And in the world of non-voting but important people endorsements (you know, the kind that Rosenberg has a lot of) are...

Bill Lynch — Former DNC Vice-Chair and Deputy Campaign Manager for the Kerry-Edwards campaign

Michael A. Brown — DNC National Finance Vice-Chair

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

Hotline provided the Cliff's Notes version of my interview with Martin Frost for those of you not interested in reading the entire thing:

LaMasters Questions LaFrost

Frost had a Q&A with Burnt Orange Report blogger Byron LaMasters. For more click here, but for now, here are excerpts:

  • Frost: "Here's how I'm different: I am the only candidate for DNC chair who has actually accomplished these goals -- reforming, funding and successfully managing a national party committee, investing national resources in state and local party structures, organizing at every level of politics, and most importantly devising creative strategies to win for Democrats in the most difficult areas of the country."
  • On whether the party needs "sweeping changes" or "just some tinkering around the edges": "The party needs major structural, strategic and communications reforms."
  • On IA and NH retaining 1st-in-the-nation status: "This is a serious issue that requires fairness from the new Chair."
  • On Washington Monthly's Sullivan's article "Fire the Consultants": "I can say that I agree with it's general point, and, as I will explain briefly, have been putting it into practice for my entire political career."
  • Frost: "One final point: If agreeing with President Bush on some issues disqualifies you to be DNC chair, then Howard Dean and I are both wasting our time (as are the rest of the candidates in the field, I imagine)" (1/27).
Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas


A moment of silence in remembrance of Holocaust Survivors' Day, and a special one this year, since it's the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Also, the definitive comment was already made here, so I don't need to say anything.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Have a happy not-partisan! day

By Jim Dallas

Sure, sure, the Heflin-Vo contest hearing is at 9 a.m. in the Capitol (see it here). And for the last time, this committee will not be swayed by partisanship!!!!

In other not-partisan! news, the Houston Chronicle tells us about Rep. Martha Wong's dedication to seeing that the capitol driveway be made a shrine to Ronald Reagan, instead of someone from, you know, Texas.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Please consult your instruction manuals

By Jim Dallas

The Houston Press has an article on courtship. Courtship, as opposed to dating. Courtship, as in, her dad is the boss.

Not that I'm about to emulate Little House On The Prairie, as one of the interviewed courtship families does. But at the very least, some tacit parental approval just seems absolutely essential to any kind of serious relationship. And it just seems that the older I get, the more "anything goes" seems to be the new rule of romance. And I find that irksome.

I can certainly identify with these sentiments:

Some courtship followers, like 34-year-old Eric Blievernicht, lead moderator of courtshipconnection.net, choose to opt out of dating and into a courtship approach. "I had always struggled with the concept of dating -- there didn't seem to be any rules or guidelines," he says. "I'm an engineer. I like rules and systems."

On the other hand, I think there's a real problem here along the blurry line between social and serious relationships. Why should a young adult, as one girl had to, consult her father before seeing a movie? As such, I give a hearty "hear hear" to the voices of sweet moderation:

Jeramy Clark, a youth pastor in San Diego and author of the Harris-rebuttal I Gave Dating a Chance: A Biblical Perspective to Balance the Extremes, says that rejecting dating altogether is "chucking out the baby with the bath water." He believes in dating -- a modest, Christian approach to dating -- and says he's seen two types of potential dangers with courtship.

One is that parental control can turn into a chokehold, driving courtship-bound children in the opposite direction. He notes one example of a closely guarded girl who veered toward extreme rebellion: hooking up, shacking up and getting knocked up by a boyfriend. The other extreme, he says, finds some girls involved with courtship deciding not to talk to guys at all anymore.

I think there's two underlying values in this courtship thing. The first is one I can endorse: that relationships ought to be taken seriously. The second is one is essentially extreme patriarchy, to the point where I think just about everybody, even most squares, is a little queasy.

At any rate, if I find that I am enamored with a young lass who's committed to this courtship idea, I'll respect that. Provided of course that her old man doesn't run my Kerry-voting, peacenik, rap-listening, baby-killing-tolerant, gay-loving, non-fundamentalist, non-church-attending rear end out the door with his twelve gauge first (not to play on stereotypes, of course, but I will take at face value the claim in the article that most adherents are socially conservative Bible literalists).

In other news, Metro Transit is gonna let us pack while riding the bus:

A showdown about the right to carry concealed handguns on Metro trains and buses appears headed for a peaceful ending today.

Metro board members are expected to vote this afternoon to repeal the restriction, which has been in effect since 1995 after the Legislature voted to allow licensed owners to carry concealed handguns in most public places.

State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who wrote the legislation as a state senator, has been a vocal critic of bans such as those adopted by Metro and many other government entities in Texas in response to the "right-to-carry" law.

He, the Texas State Rifle Association and four licensed Harris County gun owners sued Metro in 2003, seeking to overturn the ban. Now that Metro is dropping its policy, he said, he plans to challenge similar restrictions in other cities, probably starting with Austin's Capital Metro.

"They implemented these when there was collective hysteria from detractors, who said there would be blood in the streets and shootouts at every four-way stop," Patterson said. "None of that proved true."

Dallas DART already allows concealed weapons.

I'm sure that we can all agree that this is a great victory for freedom in America; lest any tyrants have a break-down or car accident and need to take the bus, patriots will stand ready to secure the liberties of their fellow mass-transit passengers.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

All Them Young Whipper-snappers

By Jim Dallas

The Nation is running a story about the battle for hearts and minds in the academy.

The article meshes with a lot of what I've been reading about the rise of movement conservatism (especially Rick Perlstein's excellent Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, which, alas, I have still not finished reading). The palpable impact of William F. Buckley, et. alia, in starting campus conservative publications and an entire infrastructure to support them is a development which, although perhaps easy to overemphasize, nonetheless is a recurring idea put forth by journalists and historians.

(Also, my gut instinct tells me that the Contumacy gang is trying to sap and impurify all of our bodily fluids.)

Clearly, getting students exposed to our message, as well as motivated to participate in left-liberal politics, is an on-going priority, no matter how "left wing" the academy supposedly is.

Question: Is there a progressive alumni association? There ought to be. Money being the lifeblood of politics and all...

Oh, and I'll be expecting annual fundraising solicitations from the UDs as soon as I get a real job.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Martin Frost Q&A

By Byron LaMasters

Here are the questions by Texas bloggers for Martin Frost in his campaign for DNC Chair. I must credit Charles Kuffner of Off the Kuff for his help specifically with several questions, and all of the Texas Tuesdays patron blogs for their input. I'm personally impressed with the depth in which Martin Frost answered each of the questions. It's certainly worth a look, even if you support another candidate for DNC. I would like to personally thank Martin Frost, and his campaign staff for taking the time and effort to address many of the questions and concerns of bloggers.

[To prevent any confusion, I submitted these questions via email to the Frost campaign last Thursday to which I received a response today. There was also a seperate conference call with bloggers / BlogPAC and Martin Frost tonight where other questions were asked. This post does not include those questions, although there was some overlap.]

Feel free to repost any of this, just credit the Burnt Orange Report (BL = Byron LaMasters, MF = Martin Frost):

MF: Thank you for these questions. They are an important opportunity to communicate with Democrats and other progressives throughout the country.

The Q&A after the jump...

BL: Why are you running for DNC Chair? What distinguishes you from the other candidates in the field?

MF: All of the candidates agree that the Democratic Party needs to undergo fundamental reforms. I strongly believe that the next Chair must pursue a 50-state party-building and campaign strategy, focus the DNC around winning elections (instead of its own internal politics), make long-term political plans and invest in local and state races, and energize traditional Democratic constituencies while at the same time bringing in new voters. To accomplish these goals, from Day One the DNC must be professionally managed and accountable to the Chair personally. That is the only way to ensure it can afford to become the modern, integrated and nationwide party structure we need to defeat the GOP. The DNC must fund and build professional state parties in every state; empower local and state Democrats to carry forth our message and convince their neighbors to join us; and create a Strategic Communications and Research Center to provide Democrats with unbiased, scientific and long-range message guidance. Finally, the Democratic Party must challenge this dishonest, corrupt and elitist Republican Government at every opportunity, and we must organize, organize, organize.

Here's how I'm different: I am the only candidate for DNC Chair who has actually accomplished these goals – reforming, funding and successfully managing a national party committee, investing national resources in state and local party structures, organizing at every level of politics, and most importantly, devising creative strategies to win for Democrats in the most difficult areas of the country.

Taking over the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after Newt Gingrich’s “revolutionaries” took the House of Representatives in the 1994 elections, I completely revamped the committee – shifting our focus to organizing, and pioneering new programs like the DCCC’s first investment in minority turnout; expanding the playing field by aggressively targeting Republicans in even the toughest territory; investing in state and local parties; running localized campaigns; and creating new fundraising methods that shattered all prior records. As a result, Democrats netted 14 Congressional seats in my two cycles as DCCC Chair – and drove Newt Gingrich out of Congress.

Additionally, my political experience is unmatched in this race. My personal experience in the nuts-and-bolts of campaigns and party politics dates back to the voter registration program I ran in 1972 for Democrats in North Texas – a program that registered 50,000 new voters by knocking on the door of every minority household in the county twice. Since then, I’ve been a successful candidate who has won in a Red State while defending core Democratic values like civil rights and a woman’s right to the privacy of her own health care decisions. I’ve had to be a disciplined national spokesperson, taking on Republicans on TV in Washington, and then campaigning for Democrats in tough races in their home districts in every region of the country. And I’ve had to be a political party leader at home – where I began a serious commitment to my state and county parties decades ago, long before it became a fashionable campaign promise.

BL: How does your experience as chair of the DCCC prepare you for the job of DNC Chair? What skill sets do you bring to the job that other candidates lack?

MF: In addition to what I've written above, I'd add a couple of other points.

First, at the DCCC I proved I know how to successfully reform and manage a major national political party organization, and that I know what it takes to succeed on the only scale that matters -- against the GOP. (That is experience that no one else in this campaign has.)

I learned how to make the hard decisions -- like firing consultants, distinguishing between promising new ideas that can help win elections and expensive gimmicks that simply make you feel good, stretching a budget to make long-term investments, saying "no" to a candidate you like so that you can say "yes" to someone the Party needs to win.

This is crucial because today's DNC is a huge political operation that can and should raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars during the next chair's term. Democrats deserve a DNC Chair who can hit the ground running and manage an operation of that size -- making the hard decisions to effectively and efficiently deploy resources to win now (in 2005 and 2006), and to invest for the long-term (by focusing, for instance, on the down-ballot races in 2006 that will determine which party has stronger gubernatorial candidates in 2010). Democrats who invest in our Party deserve to know that their money will not be wasted.

Second, I know the importance of challenging conventional wisdom, rethinking the "way it's always been done," and embracing new ideas and bringing in new talent. When I took over the DCCC, Democrats were out of power in Congress for the first time in 40 years. Almost every "smart" Democratic operative and political pundit -- including some of my predecessors -- advised me to hunker down and just try to survive. Newt Gingrich and his "revolution" were on the ascendancy, the old ways of operating were no longer available to us, and others didn't see that we had any other options.

Well, I did. So, I completely revamped the committee: changing our strategy to emphasize energizing base Democrats as well as reaching out to swing voters, adjusting our targeting to challenge Republicans in even the most GOP-trending states, investing in new fundraising methods, expanding the field staff, and creating new programs to directly spend national resources on grassroots efforts.

And because it paid off -- we netted 14 seats and drove Newt Gingrich from Congress -- ever since then, I've never had to heed the voices of conventional wisdom when they claim that Democrats can't win or that "we don't do things that way."

Third, I proved I can take on the nastiest Republicans in Washington on national TV -- and can also campaign for Democrats in tough races in their own homes districts in every part of the nation.

Fourth -- and this is related to the third point -- I learned that a Party Chair must never become the dominant story himself or herself. Your job is to help other Democrats win, and that means ensuring they get the spotlight when they need it. So you have to be willing (and able) to step aside and put other Democrats in the spotlight -- sometimes because they have special credibility, and sometimes because that's one of the ways you help them win.

BL: What did you learn from your race against Pete Sessions? How will that experience make you a better chair than any of the other candidates?

MF: It reinforced for me two principles that I have long held -- and that will guide me as DNC Chair.

First, no matter the odds, it is worth it to stand and fight. As many will recall, Tom Delay and Karl Rove had lost so many fights to us in Texas that when they finally won mid-decade redistricting in 2003, they didn't mess around, putting me in a 65% Republican district.

Instead of walking way after 26 good years in Congress fighting for Democratic values, I raised more than $4 million -- with significant help from the online community -- and built an unprecedented grassroots operation. We organized every precinct, contacted Democrats in some of the most GOP-dominated precincts in Texas -- many of whom hadn't heard from a Democrat in years -- and more than doubled Hispanic turnout. The result: We held my Republican opponent, Congressman Pete Sessions to only 54% (11 points below the district's GOP performance), and turned out enough Democrats to elect four Democratic officials in Dallas County. (News accounts focused on our history-making election of Lupe Valdez as Sheriff, but overlooked the fact that Democrats had not elected a county-wide official in the prior 20 years.)

The second principle is this: Democrats should never cede any issue to Republicans, and should never be afraid to challenge them on their so-called “home turf.” In my race, our research found a vulnerability -- Sessions was one of only a few Members to vote against airline security -- and we hit him hard, pointing out that he was so far out of the mainstream that he'd opposed even other Republicans (like Bush, McCain, etc.). Not only did it throw him on the defensive, it gave tremendous energy to our grassroots program when Democrats in North Texas saw that a Democrat was challenging a Republican on security.

BL Do you believe that the Democratic Party is in need of sweeping changes in terms of message and strategy, or just some tinkering around the edges? In either case, how do you plan to bring about the changes you envision?

MF: The party needs major structural, strategic and communications reforms. We need a National Political Audit of all electoral races in the country – so that we can take a rigorous and long-term look at all of the Democratic Party’s priorities and ensure we are letting no opportunity slip by. We need to build a modern, integrated and truly nationwide party structure, one that connects voters in every community to Democratic officials and candidates at all level – from county officials and state legislators, to Members of Congress and Senators, to Governors and Presidential candidates. We need to build a DNC Strategic Communications and Research Center, which can provide all Democrats with research-driven, scientifically tested guidance on message strategy, and which can devise strategies to effect fundamental changes in the rhetorical and issue frameworks of political discourse.

To accomplish all these goals, the DNC must empower, fund and professionalize state party operations. It must utilize all the tools of the new politics to empower, organize and communicate. It must invest in technology and testing. It must be willing to challenge conventional wisdom about Party operations. And it must submit every bit of its infrastructure and planning to a simple test: How does this help Democrats win elections – now and over the long-term?

BL: What role do you see the blogosphere and netroots as playing in the Democratic party. What would you do to utilize the netroots as chair of the DNC?

MF: I view it a core component of the progressive community and the Democratic Party – a critical communications vehicle for 21st century politics and a vital resource full of energy, ideas, volunteers, donors and voters.

I want to ensure that you can become more involved in the DNC – in organizing as well as in working with us on message development, message delivery and rapid response. We need a strategy and structure to fully incorporate into our communications strategies the power the blogosphere.

Also, we need the netroots to be seamlessly integrated in our grassroots organizing efforts. This is a network with enormous potential to impact the delivery of campaign messages and to build the type of “neighbor-to-neighbor” campaigns that Democrats historically excelled in – and that worked in some places this year (like in the Iowa Caucuses, and in the general election in Dallas County).

To do this, the DNC must engage in an ongoing, substantive and two-way conversation with you. That includes everything from regular conference calls to special online events. Structurally, we should regularly review and re-evaluate the performance of our technology systems and resources (just as we do other committee resources). At the staff level, Internet organizing and technology staff must participate in strategic political and communications decisions.

As we build and professionalize State Parties, we must make it as central to their operations as are traditional departments like Finance, Communication and Research. That requires that the DNC make it a priority, and provide resources, tools, staffing and training. The DNC may also need to release its hold on information and technology so that local and state Democrats can make use of them. I see this as an important way to reverse the long-term decline that has sapped many local and state party organizations of their organizational (and thus political) strength.

The Democratic Party has made great strides in the past year or so, but it’s clear that there is much more that we can do. As folks who have worked with me can tell you, I’ve never won any awards for hipness, but I’ve always looked for new and better ways of practicing politics – because my overriding goal is simply to win for Democrats. That is why I find the power of the new politics so exciting.

BL: What experience do you have with Internet organizing? Should Internet organizing be an integral strategy of the DNC? If so, how would you implement such a strategy?

MF: I believe I covered this question in Answer 6 (above), but let me add one point of emphasis:

For my entire career in politics, I have believed that organizing is crucial to winning elections for the Democratic Party. Today, it is clear that Internet organizing is vital to our future success. The days of turning over campaign strategy to media consultants have long passed. I’ve always run grassroots-heavy campaigns – as the thousands who have volunteered on my races can tell you – because I never bought into the myth that TV could replace the power of personal communication in politics. (That is why I reformed the post-1994 DCCC to focus on organizing; it’s also why my final campaign spent more of its $4 million budget on organizing and turnout than it did on TV advertising – despite the enormous per-point cost of the Dallas-Fort Worth TV market).

BL: What is your position on the order of the Democratic Presidential primary races? Should Iowa and New Hampshire retain their "first in the nation status", or should there be reform?

MF: This is a serious issue that requires fairness from the new Chair. There is a substantive and competent commission working on this issue, and because I do not want to unfairly affect their work, I will withhold judgment until hearing from them.

BL: Obviously, you're an expert on the redistricting issue. Do you support national redistricting reforms? What are your thoughts on the idea of a nonpartisan/bipartisan redistricting commissions being pushed by members of both parties (i.e. Democrats in Florida, Republicans in California)? Furthermore, as DNC Chair what strategy would you implement to tackle 2010 congressional redistricting now?

MF: Your first question is a crucial strategic one that I prefer not to discuss in public – i.e., with our Republican opponents – at this time. As to your second question: Throughout my career in politics, I’ve always devoted whatever resources and power I have to advancing Democrats through redistricting, and it will be a top priority at the DNC. I will ensure that we have a comprehensive long-term strategy for post-2010 redistricting -- a strategy that starts now by seriously targeting the key state races (legislative, gubernatorial and down-ballot) that will determine control of the process in each state in 2011 and 2012, and by beginning the legal preparation needed for an enterprise of this magnitude.

BL: You are now advocating a 50-state strategy, yet in previous blog Interviews you said:

"We cannot afford to swing wildly at every pitch hoping for a homerun. We need to pick our pitches carefully, hit singles and doubles and run bases aggressively."

Did you change your mind? What is your strategy for finding and funding viable candidates in unfriendly territory? Do you believe Texans in general and Texas Democrats in particular would have been better served by a "254-county strategy" in 2004? Why or why not?

MF: This question gets to the nub of the problem with the DNC over the past several years. State leaders like me have had to design strategies to fit their resources. Because the DNC did not make significant investments in non-presidential states, Democrats in places like Texas were forced to fend for themselves with the limited resources they were able to raise on their own, and as a result had to limit their investments.

So, yes, Texas Democrats and Texans in general would have absolutely been better served by a “254-county” strategy. And I don’t know of anyone in America who has spent more time, effort and personal political capital than I have on fights with the DNC for more resources for my state.

Of course, no matter how many times the DNC told us “no,” I never gave up on Texas Democrats. Instead, I worked extraordinarily hard to personally raise national money for campaigns and state and local parties in Texas. But as one Congressman – and even as the DCCC Chair -- I was never in position to fund an entire statewide operation in a place as large as Texas, where a statewide race costs tens and tens of millions of dollars.

Frankly, that is one of the reasons I want to be DNC Chair: So I can finally use the DNC to make the investments in state and local party-building for which I’ve been fighting. Again, my record at the DCCC is illustrative. While we never had the resources available to the DNC today, I adopted a strategy of expanding the playing field and challenging Republicans everywhere possible. We ran races in states that never came close to making the map used by the DNC and Presidential campaign (despite my best efforts to convince them to forgo their presidential-only targeting).

In closing on this point, I want to make sure I don’t mislead anyone. Even the DNC lacks infinite resources. And any honest strategist will tell you that the baseball analogy cited in your question – picking your pitches carefully – applies to every resource allocation decision you make. If you have fewer resources (as we did in Texas), then you can only afford to seriously invest in fewer races. If you have the DNC’s resources, then you can swing at more pitches – but if you flail about wildly, you’ll probably just end up wasting a lot of money as you strike out. (For more on this point, see Answer 11 (below)).

But unlike everyone else in this race, I’ve had years of experience in strategically managing the resources of a large political party committee. So when I’m Chair, the DNC will make smart and significant investments in building strong party structures and in supporting campaigns at all levels – especially with an eye toward down-ballot candidates whose short-term success determines the strength of our farm team and the long-term success of our Party. After years on the outside of the DNC looking in, I’m eager to get inside and start making these reforms.

BL: Have you read Amy Sullivan's article in the Washington Monthly entitled Fire the Consultants? What is your response to what she says?

MF: Not until you asked about it. But now that I have, I can say I agree with it’s general point, and, as I will explain briefly, have been putting it into practice for my entire political career.

My overriding political goal is simply winning – because that’s the only way you achieve the power you need to stand up for the people you represent. So I never have rewarded poor performance by consultants, and I never will. When I took over the DCCC, we cleaned house and opened up the consulting process to new blood (including at least one person named in the Sullivan piece as a potential next-generation strategic genius.) It was a difficult and contentious process, but when you personally understand the nuts-and-bolts of campaigns and party politics, you are not dependent on consultants to make the tough decisions.

While I was DCCC Chair, we maintained a very clear and very bright line between the committee staff whom we paid to service campaigns, and the outside consultants whom the campaigns paid. We had no situation like that described in the Sullivan piece. In short, I would not allow any consultants to rich skimming off the committee and its donors (or even simply by pocketing a percentage of the TV buy, which is an arrangement I did not allow at the DCCC).

Also, when you fund State Parties sufficiently (a key reform in my Plan to Win), then they can hire and keep experienced, talented staff – which makes the Party less dependent on consultants. And by establishing research-driven Strategic Communications and Research Center at the DNC (another key reform I’m proposing) we will ensure Democrats have unbiased, scientifically tested guidance for developing message strategy.

One final point – which relates to the discussion in Question 10: It is long past time that the Democratic Party make a concerted effort to bring the scientific method into electoral politics to help target limited resources toward the most effective means of delivering our message and votes. It happens in the marketplace everyday, and Republicans have been conducting well-thought-out experiments in areas like voter turnout to learn more about what works in each election. We should be doing the same – and applying it to all our practices, from traditional methods like door-to-door canvassing, to relatively new political tools like online organizing.

BL: Some Democrats have criticized you in recent days for running advertisements in your 2004 campaign featuring prominent Republicans, including President Bush (i.e. DailyKos.com, MyDD.com, annatopia.com/archives.html, etc.). Why did you run such ads, and what would you say to Democrats who feel that you did not emphasize the fact that you were a Democrat in your past campaign?

MF: First, I’d refer you to my answer to Question 3 (above), which also largely addresses this question.

And I’d add this: Instead of retiring last year after Tom DeLay had illegally redrawn my district to make it 65% Republican, I fought back (just as I’d fought him and the White House throughout 2003 as they tried to redo redistricting). The ads you referenced put my GOP opponent on the defensive on the key campaign issue of homeland security, and helped energize many of Democrats who turned out to vote – scoring historic victories for Dallas County Democratic candidates. I’ve always believed in challenging Republicans where they think they are strongest.

Now, this is a hotly contested campaign for DNC Chair, and I understand that my opponents and their supporters are trying to win. So I’d simply urge Democrats to look past the misleading attacks and to look up the facts of my commitment to Democratic Party principles and my record of winning for Democrats.

For instance, take a look at my most recent vote ratings from some groups with whom I’ve been extraordinarily proud to work -- while at the same time beating back repeated multi-million-dollar GOP challenges in Texas: AFL-CIO 93%, Hispanic Leadership Agenda 83%, Human Rights Campaign 88%, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 92%, League of Conservation Voters 85%, NAACP 95%, NARAL Pro Choice America 100%.

One final point: If agreeing with President Bush on some issues disqualifies you to be DNC Chair, then Howard Dean and I are both wasting our time (as are the rest of the candidates in the field, I imagine). As Gov. Dean said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”: “…there's some agreement that I have with the President. I daresay other Democrats find some common ground with the President."

I’ve run and won as a Democrat for nearly 30 years; everyone in my area of North Texas knows that very well, and so do Republicans from Tom DeLay and Karl Rove, to the local precinct chairs in Dallas County. I spent 4 years traveling the country to rebuild the DCCC after the Gingrich revolution and in the run-up to impeachment – some of the most difficult times for Democrats in modern political history, And I invested my own time and effort to support my State Party for the past 30 years – especially when the DNC effectively pulled out of Texas.

Simply put, I’d put my credentials as effective partisan fighter for Democrats up against anyone’s. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t have spent the past 30 years working to successfully build Democratic Party structures and elect Democrats in some of the toughest territory – and I wouldn’t be campaigning to spend every day of the next four years reforming the DNC to win elections at all levels and in every state.

BL: To follow-up, as a DNC Chair, you will be the spokesman for the Democratic Party. Some critics believe that you would be an ineffective spokesman, because on television interviews clips could easily be run of your ads stating your support of President Bush on various issues. While they would certainly be taken out of context, some people feel that such clips could minimize your effectiveness in the typical role as the "attack-dog" party spokesman. What would you say to those critics?

MF: I’ve done national television interviews for more than a decade against some of the nastiest Republicans in Washington, so I’d welcome a softball question like you describe. Just as I’m sure Howard Dean would welcome any interviewer posing a similar softball question to him and running a clip of him talking about the “things we can support the President on.”

Nonetheless, here’s an example of the type of approach I’d likely take to an interviewer who posed these critics’ hypothetical question: “Time and again, the dishonest, corrupt and elitist Republican Government of George W. Bush and Tom DeLay has made Americans less safe– on everything from sending our troops to war without the body armor they need, to opposing the Department of Homeland Security and the 911 Commission, to trying to steal every American’s Social Security. But believe it or not, there are Republicans in power in Washington who do even done more than George W. Bush to weaken America’s security. Pete Sessions is one of them. So is Senator Rick Santorum – who is trying to help Wall Street brokers by taking your Social Security.”

As I said before, I believe that the best way to beat Republicans is to challenge them aggressively and consistently – no matter what they or the media throw at you.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:50 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Conventional Wisdom

By Nathan Nance

Conventional Wisdom about President Bush holds that like him or hate him, at least you know where he stands. That image is one of the many things Democrats have had to come to terms with, along with our recent candidate's inability to be decisive.

Like so often before, conventional wisdom may be wrong.

A recent PIPA poll (I know, are we trusting polls now?) shows that many of President Bush's supporters don't actually know where he stands on a wide range of issues.

Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

Say what you will about Kerry being too nuanced or, dare I say, flip-floppish, but at least his supporters correctly knew where he stood on the issues.

This poll was conducted in September and October, so I think we can correctly assume that these numbers reflect the minds of the voters in November. That's actually a little bit heartening. The next to last line in that graf says that Bush supporters favored the stances that they incorrectly attributed to him. In other words, they favored our positions. This is just one poll, but we need to think about this and we need to conduct our own.

It also means that the future isn't as bleak as some people think for the Democratic party. We may not have to fundamentally alter our positions. This may be as simple as learning how to market ourselves better. Part of that marketing is going to come from making clear and concise statements about what we are for and against. "This is what I, a Democrat stands for. This is what my Republican opponent stands for." This is obviously pretty simplistic, but an effective blueprint, and I think Sen. Harry Reid understands this, which is I applaud his efforts with laying out our own agenda.

So there is hope. Hat tip to Digby.

Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 08:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Richard Morrison Asks you to Join Rose Spector

By Byron LaMasters

Dear Friends,

I'm writing to tell you about a special election for the Texas House of Representatives that is being held now. We Democrats are fielding a great candidate in Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector.

This special election, which pits Justice Spector against two Republicans and an Independent gives us an excellent chance to build on our net gain of one seat in the 2004 elections. Please click here to support Justice Spector.

Early voting has already begun and the campaign is seeking volunteers. If you are in the San Antonio area or could help with remote data entry and would like to help please email the campaign at: spector_campaign AT hotmail DOT com

fight on,
Richard Morrison

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

And There Are Still 309 Days Left Until December 1

By Vince Leibowitz

Comptroller Carole Strayhorn says now she may not be running for Governor. And she disputes that she ever told Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs says she may not be running for Comptroller again. And Susan Combs say she was never told so--directly.

Though it sounds like something more appropriate at a junior-high slumber party, this week's continuation of the Election 2006 Soap Opera began with a rousing game of "she said/she said:"

The Houston Chronicle (via Kuff) noted this morning:

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn indicated Monday she may be about to back away from challenging Gov. Rick Perry in next year's Republican primary.

Strayhorn's spokesman, Mark Sanders, issued a statement denying she ever told Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs that she would not seek re-election as comptroller. Combs has been preparing to run for Strayhorn's office if she vacates it to run for governor.


Sanders said in issuing the statement that Strayhorn was not trying to send signals about whether she would seek re-election rather than run for governor. Sanders said Strayhorn just wanted to "set the record straight" about statements attributed to Combs.

Combs was quoted indirectly in Sunday's Corpus Christi Caller-Times as saying Strayhorn had told her she was not running for comptroller again.

"The people of Texas are certainly asking her (Strayhorn) to run for governor, and she is listening," Sanders said. "But the comptroller never told Commissioner Combs she is not running for comptroller again, and Commissioner Combs knows it."

Combs spokesman Reggie Bashur said Combs "agreed" with Strayhorn that Strayhorn "did not tell her directly that she was not seeking re-election."

Bashur said the Caller-Times article misquoted Combs. The reporter who wrote the story could not be reached for comment. Editors at the paper said they had no information that would cause them to run a correction.

Excuse me. I think I just hallucinated or something.

For one thing, the entire brouhaha is over this very gossipy political column in the Corpus Christi Caller Times, which notes:

The morning after the Texas State Society's Black Tie and Boots inaugural ball in Washington, which drew Texas politicians in droves, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs was hoarse, which she attributed to talking over the band.

Though she has not made a formal announcement, Combs said she would run for Carole Keeton Strayhorn's job as state comptroller, when Strayhorn tries to fill bigger boots, widely rumored to be Gov. Rick Perry's.

Strayhorn already has told Combs she is not running for comptroller again, so Combs' fund-raising efforts are directed at the job, she said.

"I will probably do a formal announcement in the next couple of months, but sure I am telling people I am running," Combs said.

Second, if Strayhorn didn't tell Combs she wasn't going to run, then why on earth didn't Strayhorn say something back on May 7 when this came out:

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs confirmed today she's planning to run for state comptroller in 2006, a job now held by fellow Republican Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

Combs wouldn't divulge any conversations she's had with Strayhorn, but said she doesn't expect Strayhorn to run for the office in the next election.

"I think it'll be an open primary," Combs said in a telephone interview.

Furthermore, since at least one GOP candidate--Bush/Cheney strategist Matthew Dowd--has floated his name about for Comptroller, I have trouble believing that Strayhorn didn't say what she says she didn't say--especially since the GOP establishment's already staying away from her like the plague.

Yes, in the wink-and-nod world of politics, It's easy to misunderstand if someone "did not tell [you] directly that she was not seeking re-election," but give me a break.

My, my. And we've still got 309 days left until filing opens on December 1. (That's 26,697,600 seconds or 444,960 minutes or 7,416 hours for those of you who keep count of such things. Tabulation via TimeandDate.com

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Strange turn of events

By Nathan Nance

It's actually kind of funny because Jim posted on Social Security today, and I'm writing about the DNC chair race.

Jerome has the latest round-up of the race and all accounts put Dean squarely in the front-runner seat. There seem to be three distinct groups, Dean supporters, Anybody But Dean supporters, and then everybody else. The largest group is the everybody elses, but I think they'll vote for one of the other two groups once it gets down to the wire.

I'm not totally discounting Fowler and Rosenberg, but the dynamic of the race seems to follow Dean and those inside the DNC who would rather have anybody but him. If you haven't read it already, this Newsweek piece basically describes how that group has been searching desperately for a candidate to run against Dean, even though that group's front-runner seems to be Martin Frost. I think the problem with Frost is that anyone inside the DNC who wants to see substantive reforms and a focus on netroots won't be attracted to him and he can't appeal to Dean/Fowler/Rosenberg voters to gain a majority.

I don't think it really means anything that Frost has the support of people in his home state. If he didn't, that would be an important marker that his candidacy was in vain. But I think that most Democrats, even those inside the DNC, want real, substantive changes. That leaves us with the Dean/Fowler/Rosenberg axis with Dean being the most popular.

A quick sidenote: If this race were soley between Fowler, Rosenberg and Frost, do you think Newsweek would be covering this race? I think several of us here at BOR have made the point that Dean brings lots of celebrity and media attention to this race and to the position that the others just can't match.

Nate is sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DNC Chair: Does It Really Matter?

By Vince Leibowitz

I got a call this afternoon from one of the high-school aged Democrats in Van Zandt County asking me about, of all things, the race for Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. It seems this young man wanted to write on the subject for a current political events paper for high school government class.

This call got me to thinking very seriously about the DNC race when I was asked, "Does it really matter who wins the DNC race? Will it really change the way the party does business at all levels?"

I'm afraid the 18-year-old political novice who asked this question of me may have hit the nail right on the head: Does it really matter?

I know it sounds stupid that any Democratic activist and County Chairman such as myself would even spend time pondering this question. But, what's even more frightening to me is that the answer may be--at least in part--a resounding 'no.'

Yes, to a great extent, it matters whether or not Martin Frost or Howard Dean or whoever is named Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. After all, the DNC is the national party. It sets the policy and should drive the trend.

But, to your average party activist--and perhaps to some party leadership--it makes no difference who is at the top because I have yet to see any evidence that there will be true and substantive change within our party just because there is a different man (or woman) at the helm of the ship.

Mind you, this is in spite of the fact that, for the past few years, "grassroots activism" has become the buzzword of the Democratic Party. It's such a buzzword everyone wants to call their campaign a "grassroots" effort. And everyone is building their local party with "grassroots" support. And the "netroots" are all-important, too.

So, then, if growing the party from the grassroots is so vital, why are all of the announced candidates of the political establishment and not of the "grassroots" body politic?

A good question, no doubt. And, there are some obvious answers. First of all, you've got to be known, be a proven leader, be proven fund-raiser, and have existing relationships within the party to expect to get anything accomplished. That understandable and legitimate.

But does it have to be that way? Is there not a way for us to have our cake and eat it, too? Can we not have the marquee politician and the backroom political junkie working hand-in-hand at the DNC to help us rebuild?

To give you an example of what I mean, let me say this: Every time I think of the current DNC chairman, I think of seeing his name on a fund-raising letter. I think "that's someone Democrats know and will send money to." Think about it: An average Democrat gets a letter from Martin Frost or Howard Dean or any number of the candidates and it's going to have instant name recognition. Charities use the same principal. Remember the National World War II Memorial fund-drive? I must have recieved half a dozen letters from Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks asking me to send in $15. But was Tom Hanks the one running the day-to-day operations of the Memorial association? I think not. He's an actor.

Granted, it makes more sense to have a politician running a political party than an actor running a veterans' memorial, but does it--really? How many politicians--or even of the current candidates for DNC--really, truly know how to get in the trenches and run a campaign--not a race, mind you, but a campaign? Or a party?

How about Frost? How about Dean? Granted they've both run races, but who ran their campaigns? I dare say Martin Frost wasn't sitting in a back room somewhere with a database printout ID'ing potential donors. And I dare say Howard Dean wasn't sitting in a back room somewhere personally organizing and developing a strategy to attract Internet voters. Do these guys understand how to address the problems facing the Democratic Party in Lamar County, Texas or Dade County, Florida or Wayne County, Iowa?

And, why would they? As candidates and politicians, they've got better and more important things to do: They're the candidates, they drive the message and develop the policy, not organize the fund-raising, rallies and GOTV. That's what staff is for. The pols themselves may go out and glad-hand for the money, or make personal appearances for the money, but believe me, they aren't the ones running the data, sending out the mailers and wondering what in the heck a "carrier route saturation" is or how much radio advertising costs in Des Moines, Iowa.

I have no doubt that Martin Frost or Howard Dean could reform healthcare, fix Social Security, or combat terrorism. But I remain unconvinced that they are what the Democratic Party needs right now in the way of leadership. As DCCC Chair, Frost has proved he has what it takes to rake in the cash and win back House seats. As a candidate, Dean proved he had personality to unite the masses and the wisdom to try new and unconventional ideas. But being party chairman isn't just about raking in the cash, uniting the masses, and winning seats. It's about the Democratic Party fulfilling its promise and living up to its name. Winning seats isn't enough anymore. A unified party with a clear, concise message making a return to its roots among the rank-and-file citizenry is a must. We've got to rebuild our party in the people's image. And by that, I mean a return to our liberal, New Deal, Great Society roots, not a continuation of the stuck-on-high-center Republican-lite brand seemingly favored by many politicians.

So, does it matter who is at the head of the party, as long as it's a good and big name that will bring in the cash? No...and, yes.

No, because any marquee politician can perform that task adequately and perhaps very well. Yes, because it takes a special person--a special Chairman--to change the way the party does business.

So, as we bloggers tumble head-over-heels trying to predict the next Chairman of the DNC, let's consider the following:

If we're seeking change from the grassroots, don't we need more "grassroots" people on the DNC and in party leadership as opposed to ex-chairmen, ex-politicians, and current politicians?

If we're to truly change our party and rise out from the hole we're in, don't we need both a chairman who's a "marquee" fund-raiser and seasoned political junkie who knows how to oil and grease every nook and cranny of the political machine from behind the scenes?

If we're to truly change, should it not come from the bottom up and not the top down, anyway?

It we are to be successful at winning elections, don't we need a DNC--and a chairman--that looks outside the beltway and realizes the need for an operating strategy that involves everyone from the DNC down to the precinct chairs?

If we are to truly grow "from the roots," then do we not need a chairman who will pay as much attention and place as much importance on the Democratic Party in the most red county in the most red state as they do on the bluest counties in the bluest states? Don't we need a chairman to whom the voters and leaders of Van Zandt, or Travis, or Dallas or Smith County Texas mean as much as the voters and leaders of counties in blue states?

I haven't decided who to support for Party Chairman. I believe both Howard Dean and Martin Frost have some of the qualities I think a Chairman needs, but I'm not sure I'd be truly happy with either one.

But I do know this: whomever our party chairman is needs to realize that the red states and red counties need as much attention as the blue ones. After all, in the blue areas, they're growing their parties. In the red areas, we're building--or rebuilding--ours.

Whomever the new Chairman happens to be, they will have their work cut out for them. And, hopefully, after a couple of years on the job, we will be able to answer the question, "Does it really matter who is DNC Chairman?" And, hopefully, we'll be able to answer it by saying "Oh, yes. Yes, it does."

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 06:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

14 of 15 Texas DNC Members Endorse Frost

By Byron LaMasters

Martin Frost now has 15 public endorsements of DNC members. Today, Frost announced the endorsement of 14 of the 15 Texas DNC members along with the endorsement of New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid (also a DNC member).

The 14 Texas DNC members endorsing Martin Frost are as follows:

Chairman Charles Soechting, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hon. Yvonne Davis, Hon. Senfronia Thompson, Commissioner Oscar Soliz, Mayor Ron Kirk, Gabrielle Hadnot, Vice Chair, Norma Fischer Flores, Jaime Gonzalez Jr., David Holmes, Sue Lovell, John Patrick, Betty Richie and Bob Slagle

The fourteen members sent a letter to their fellow DNC members earlier today stating their reason for support of Martin Frost. The one Texas DNC member not endorsing Frost is Al Edwards. Edwards also sent a letter to DNC members praising Martin Frost, but as co-Chair of the Democratic Southern Black Caucus, he is bound by an agreement of the caucus to not endorse. For the letters sent by Edwards and the other fourteen, go on to the extended entry:

Letter to DNC Members by Texas DNC Members:

Dear Fellow DNC Members,

The next Chair of our great Party has to be ready to hit the ground running on day one. We are proud to endorse Martin Frost because he is the best qualified candidate for DNC Chair, hands down. He has worked his entire career for our Party at the local, state, and national level, and his commitment to our core values has shaped a winning record in the Congress and his community.

Martin Frost has a proven record that includes everything from local grassroots organizing to building a winning program at a national committee, where he led a DCCC effort that took back 14 seats in 1996 and 1998. Martin is both tough and smart, a skilled tactician, a proven fundraiser and a talented, capable spokesperson.

Throughout his career, Martin has reached out and involved people of all races, union members, professionals, conservatives and progressives, gays and lesbians, city and country dwellers, young people and seniors. And he knows how to use both Internet technology and old fashioned shoe leather to turn out the vote.

Martin Frost is the Democrat who knows how to beat Karl Rove and Tom DeLay, so they made him the top target of their corrupt redistricting scheme, which remains under criminal investigation and still faces a federal court challenge.

We respectfully ask that you join us in supporting Martin Frost for DNC Chair. He's a leader who will go to all 50 states and build a winning party organization in each one.


Chairman Charles Soechting, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hon. Yvonne Davis, Hon. Senfronia Thompson, Commissioner Oscar Soliz, Mayor Ron Kirk, Gabrielle Hadnot, Vice Chair, Norma Fischer Flores, Jaime Gonzalez Jr., David Holmes, Sue Lovell, John Patrick, Betty Richie, Bob Slagle

Letter to DNC Members by Hon. Al Edwards:

Fellow Members of the Democratic National Committee:

I am pleased that our Texas DNC Members have endorsed Martin Frost for Chair, and I certainly do not want my absence from the list of Texans endorsing Martin to be misunderstood.

As Co-Chair of the Democratic Southern Black Caucus, I am bound by a commitment to my fellow Caucus members to make no DNC endorsements until we have considered a Caucus endorsement. That said, I have known Martin Frost for many years and I can tell you without hesitancy that he has always worked with every group in our Party to stand up for our principles and turn out the vote to win elections. I have always been proud to work with Martin Frost in service to our Party and I assure you that he has skills, dedication and experience to be an outstanding DNC Chair.

State Representative Al Edwards,
Co-Chair, DNC Southern Black Caucus

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:43 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

No on Gonzales

By Jim Dallas

First off the bat, I have to say that I find it unfortunate that I am going to have to stick it to a former Houston adjunct and a highly-respected Houston young lawyer. I know that there are a lot of professors on campus that know and think highly of Alberto Gonzales. And I don't doubt for a second that they're sincere.

That said, really, in a country which is the center of the civilized world and the nominal leader of the free world, it is simply unacceptable for the Attorney General - the top cop - to condone (or, at best) try to have it both ways on torture.

Nothing would please me more than to be lectured by (if only because disagreeing with professors is just as important as agreeing) Alberto Gonzales. Nothing scares me more than him being confirmed as Attorney General.

So it's with a somewhat conflicted gut that I must join the bloggers that are opposing the nomination of Alberto Gonzales.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:42 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

To Infinity And Beyond

By Jim Dallas

Jesse tells us why Don Luskin is the "stupidest man alive" (according to Brad DeLong).

Actually, my qualm is this. If you assume this crazy infinite-horizon thing is the way to measure Social Security's financial situation, then is a $10.4 trillion deficit really that bad?

(Incidentally, what's the per annum cost: 10.4 trillion divided by infinity? That's, uhh, zero, isn't it?)

But for context, $10.4 trillion is the size of the U.S. gross domestic product. If we could commit five percent of GDP for twenty years to save Social Security FOREVER, would it be that bad?

And considering that our current budget deficit is nearly 5 percent of GDP already...and could easily be closed with a little common sprinkled into the pages of our tax code...

(Incidentally, that last off-the-cuff mathematical statement was economically wrong-headed; because GDP grows considerably faster than inflation - something like a percent or two annually - by the twentieth year $520 billion would be a lot less than 5 percent of GDP).

Needless to say, the point of this exercise is to point out that even a big scary like $10.4 trillion is neither big, nor scary, nor indicative of any rational reason to muck around with a Social Security system that is running a slight fever, but otherwise fit as a fiddle.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

Election Day is February 5th for the special election in HD 121 in San Antonio. It's a strong GOP district, but special elections are strange creatures, and anything can happen, so learn more about the Democratic candidate at RoseSpector.com. Special elections are all about turnout, and a good GOTV opperation needs cash - lots of it, and quick. So donate to her campain here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Dean Endorsements

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Following in the tradition of endorsements that actually matter, Blog for America has the latest series of inside baseball endorsements. Worried about Dean becoming the frontrunner and crashing again? I wouldn't, because this time around, there isn't much the media can actually do and the spotlight is so far removed from the race in comparison to the primaries.

This group includes voting members of the DNC, former chairs of the DNC, congressional members and an array of prominent Democratic leaders.

Supporters include:

Reverend Willie Barrow, DNC Member-at-Large

Don Beyer, Former Lt. Gov. of Virginia and Chairman, Kerry-Edwards Virginia Victory '04

Alma Arrington Brown, philanthropist and wife of former DNC Chair Ron Brown

Joseph Cari, Jr., Former DNC National Finance Chair

Yolanda Caraway, DNC Member-at-Large

Martha Dixon, Arkansas DNC Committeewoman

Bob Farmer, Former DNC Treasurer and Finance Chair of the Kerry-Edwards campaign

Hon. Yvonne A. Gates, Chair of the DNC Black Caucus

Steve Grossman, Former DNC National Chair

Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.)

Ben Johnson, DNC Deputy Chair

Wanda Lockridge, Chair of the District of Columbia State Committee

Hon. Gloria Molina, DNC Vice-Chair

Minyon Moore, DNC Member-at-Large

Mirian Saez, DNC Member-at-Large

Hon. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), DNC Member-at-Large

David Wilhelm, Former DNC National Chair

Looks like some new support from the "black and brown" category as well as past DNC chairs. In addition, that vote from California may be indicative of what supposedly is next week's endorsement of the California delegation of 'a particular candidate'.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SG / Senate and You!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Written in response to yesterday's story about Senate and SG bickering, a former Senate type wrote a very interesting Firing Line today. Here's a segment.

As an important first point, I separate the failure of the Senate from the successes of the individual college councils that are its members. The purpose, structure and membership of the Senate is a good foundation for better student representation and action, but Staha has failed to synergize its parts to achieve an effective position on campus. I do indeed feel that Student Government President Chaney does "respect and enjoy working together with the Senate," just not with Staha. The Texan, in its assumptions, failed to separate the merits of the Senate organization from its leadership.

As some Senate and SG insiders may know, several college councils openly called for Staha to resign last fall and others at least wanted him to defend or finally state what he had indeed accomplished. After searching Daily Texan archives and old SG minutes (Senate minutes are not made available on the Internet), I have a very short list. The Senate has apparently made progress on pushing the honor code, passed resolutions regarding tuition (note: resolution does not mean action), and unveiled a new Web site (without any real content).

Wow, Nick, students paying your $200 monthly stipend, providing you an office, and giving you a free parking garage permit sure got their money's worth. Lastly of note, readers should also know the Senate maintains two other offices on campus, so neither Nick nor the Senate would be without a home.

Most students don't know or care much about internal SG politics, though SG does end up getting a number of things done behind the scenes and need to better talk about those. But an even smaller total of students has a clue as to what goes on with the Senate, how it operates, and what it even does. I mean, I'm involved in comparison to a majority of students, and I don't really have a clue as to what Senate does.

This is one of the reasons why I will likely be moving away from Student Government some this semester and working with University Democrats instead who's first meeting is tomorrow night at 8 pm in GSB 2.124.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Missing Charlie Stenholm Yet?

By Byron LaMasters

Hit and Run notes some comments by Mark Shields on PBS's NewsHour:

MARK SHIELDS: Well, to say the president will be without one of the great Democrats that he could have relied upon for counsel and real help in this election because of the incredibly short sightedness of the White House and Tom Delay -- Charlie Stenholm, Democrat from West Texas, blue dog Democrat --

JIM LEHRER: Explain what a blue dog Democrat is.

MARK SHIELDS: A blue dog Democrat are Democrats -- the moderate to conservative Democrats in the South mostly, border states, who believe in things like fiscal sanity, who oppose tax cuts but oppose big liberal spending, but continue to be Democrats. And Charlie Stenholm of West Texas was a ranking Democrat, respected on both sides of the aisle, Jim. And he was in favor of privatizing part of Social Security, one of the principal advocates. If Charlie Stenholm was in the House of Representatives today, he would get a minimum of ten or a dozen Democrats to join.

But there is no Charlie Stenholm left in the US Congress, and no Democrat with the influence to move others in the caucus towards President Bush's position on Social Security, or most any other issue for that matter, especially while Bush's approval is sitting in the mid-40s. The GOP may have gained five seats in Texas, but they may have just as easily lost ten votes on several issues.

The Bush administration had the chance to make a gracious gesture towards Democrats by appointing Stenholm as Agriculture Secretary. Instead the White House's only interest in bipartisanship in the cabinet was if it could help them in picking up a Democratic Senate seat (hence the courting of Ben Nelson D-NE and Joe Lieberman D-CT).

The American people want Democrats to be a true opposition party, and hopefully the Democrats will do their best to make Bush's second term a miserable one.

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

Securing the blessings of liberty

By Jim Dallas

This new article in the occasionally-respectable New Republic is really all I have to say about why I am a dippy good-government liberal. Southern Nigeria may be as close to Hobbes' state of nature as we're likely to see these days (OK, except perhaps in Iraq or Afghanistan-outside-of-Kabul).

We've talked a lot about "Reform Democrats" around here; but sometimes it's worth keeping in mind that by world standards, America is already a pretty honest, virtuous, and efficient country. And I would tend to think that most everybody ought to be in favor of keeping it that way.

(Also worth pondering: should we increase our foreign aid budget? Would it be more effective and sincere than piecemeal efforts by multinational corporations? Or merely run into the same difficulties; to wit, corruption and a lack of security?)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pandagon Gets a Divorce

By Byron LaMasters

Ezra has left, relocating to Typepad, while Jesse will remain at Pandagon.

Best of luck to them in dividing their assests. I'll have to add Ezra to my Bloglines, and of course, I wish them well in their future blogging endeavors. They're both great writers, and I enjoy reading both.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Heflin v. Vo, continued

By Jim Dallas

Kuff and Greg are all over this.

The Daily Texan says Heflin should give up.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Academy Award Nominations

By Jim Dallas


The Aviator has been nominated for eleven awards.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What was that Billy Shakespeare said about all of us being actors?

By Jim Dallas

Colonel Tom Edwards: Why is it so important that you want to contact the governments of our earth? Eros: Because of death. Because all you of Earth are idiots. Jeff Trent: Now you just hold on, Buster!

~ Ed Wood, Plan Nine from Outer Space

CNN brings us the news that President Bush, Condoleeza Rice, and Britney Spears are being nominated for this year's Golden Raspberry Awards:

President Bush and some of his advisers received worst-acting nominations for their appearances in news and archival footage in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which assails Bush for his actions surrounding the September 11 attacks.

Bush was nominated for worst actor, while Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice got a nomination for worst supporting actress and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for worst supporting actor.

Wilson said that while "Fahrenheit 9/11" was a piece of anti-Bush propaganda, the president and his associates earned their Razzie nominations on their own.

"It wasn't Mr. Moore's editing," Wilson said. "It's the raw footage of these people just making fools of themselves."

Just a few seconds of screen time in "Fahrenheit 9/11" brought a nomination as worst supporting actress for Britney Spears, who sits for a moment blank-faced and chewing gum in the film before saying she thinks people should support the president in all decisions he makes.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's actually all a big lie

By Jim Dallas

Instapundit makes a funny and Kevin Drum agrees.

Actually, planets are not necessarily spherical in shape. Earth is pear-shaped, with an equatorial bulge of a few dozen kilometers (not enough to make it look out-of-round in pictures, mind you). And the southern hemisphere is a tad fatter than the northern.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 07:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

Loving the Koufax Awards

By Byron LaMasters

This is the first year where I've really paid attention to the Koufax Awards - the premier lefty blogosphere award. Perhaps it's because we were nominated for two awards, but it's also been a great opportunity to take a look at new blogs, and take a look at posts that I missed earlier in the year.

I'd like to specifically mention the latest Koufax Awards for best series. I should have read through more of the blogs before voting, because there are several great series in there. I voted for the Delay Rule Exit Poll by the Daily DeLay because I appreciated their work in exposing Republicans for their vote on the Tom DeLay rule.

However, I'd also highly recommend the two nominations of Annatopia. She received two nominations for blogging the GOP Convention and for her personal abortion story (1, 2 and 3). I was moved by reading her personal abortion story for the first time tonight, and it reinforces my belief that as a man, especially as a gay man, that I have absolutely no way of ever understanding what a pregnant woman must be going through. I will never have a personal or secondary understanding of what decisions a pregnant woman must go through, and that's one of many reasons why I'm emphatically pro-choice.

For what it's worth, I'd probably vote for Anna's personal abortion story for best series at this point, so hopefully someone of my readers can vote for her to make up for my vote. I'll feel better when someone does.

Anyway, I would encourage all Texans to support your fellow Texas bloggers the Daily DeLay (maybe not a Texan, but the topic is), and Annatopia... not to forget Norbizness.

Vote here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Showing Real Support

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From Natalie Dee...

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Student Gov. and Senate 'leaders' Squabble over Space

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Daily Texan reports on an issue I thought about raising last fall when I recieved the internal communications about the seemingly ongoing power plays between Student Government President Brent Chaney and Senate of College Councils Nick Staha.

After embarassingly disagreeing over the voting student on the Board of Regents issue, there was the rather curious announcment in December that SG needed the space occupied by Senate for SG purposes "to be determined" even though Senate has lived in that SG space since 1997.

In fact, at the same time Staha's eviction notice showed up in his office, another document was circulating in SG mailboxes. Several members of the SG executive committee received a copy of Staha's statement on the student regent issue, with objectionable portions underlined or commented upon by Chaney.

No direct correlation between Staha's dissent regarding the student regent and the Dec. 3 eviction notice can be made. Chaney said SG needs the space for its committees and agencies, perhaps for legislative relations, but a specific use has not been decided.

Still, without a specific plan for the office, Chaney leaves himself open to the criticism that he's acting upon a personal grudge.

But the original move-out deadline (Jan. 10) has come and gone, and Staha is still there. He may be able to ride this one out; if Senate can stall until a new SG president is elected in March, perhaps the whole issue will be dropped.


The two leaders should take care of this issue quickly. Facing an extremely important legislative session, rising tuition costs and decreased state appropriations to universities, SG and Senate have too much at stake to act like squabbling children.

I have a lot of respect for a number of SG and Senate people personally, but it's juvinile crap like this that damages any gains in the integrity of the organization in the eyes of students. And you wonder why people like Andrew think it's a joke.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:25 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Pop Quiz

By Jim Dallas

Do you support:

Our Troops?
Combatting Terrorism?
Our Veterans?
Higher Wages for American Workers?
Little Children?
Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs?
Election Reform?
Fiscal Responsibility?
Reducing the Number of Abortions?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then we have an agenda for you!

Update: [Byron] It's online at the Senate Democratic website here. You can become a "citizen cosponsor" here.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Texas, Georgia and Redistricting

By Byron LaMasters

Over the weekend, University of Oklahoma Professor Keith Gaddie of Sooner Politics sent me his thoughts on the latest case involving Texas redistricting. Professor Gaddie was an expert for the state of Texas on the 2003 redistricting case, but now has some different thoughts based on the recent decision regarding Georgia redistricting. Here are Professor Gaddie's thoughts, unedited:

I’m sending this along as a little guest blurb. You’ll recall that I worked as a state’s expert in the Texas redistricting. At that point in time, I noted that the new Texas districts did not violate the Voting Rights Act (true), that they did seek partisan advantage relative to the status quo map (true), and that the maps would translate a majority of votes into a majority of seats, unlike the old map (also true).

Now, I’m going to suggest that all of you go and read the dissents in Veith, and also the concurrent opinion from the Georgia case (Larios). In the Larios case, which tossed the Georgia state legislative districts, unjustified population deviations were defined by the effort to seek partisan advantage. Writing in a rare concurrence to an affirmation of a lower court ruling, Breyer and Stevens observed that:

"It bears emphasis however, that had the Court in Veith adopted a standard for adjudicating partisan gerrymandering claims, the standard would have been satisfied in this case [...] the District Court’s detailed factual findings regarding appellees’ equal protection claim confirm that an impermissible partisan gerrymander is visible to the judicial eye and subject to judicially-manageable standards [...]

"drawing district lines that have no neutral justification in order to place two incumbents of the opposite party in the same district is probative of the same impermissible intent as the ‘uncouth twenty-eight-sided figure’ that defined the boundary of Tuskegee, Alabama in Gomillion."

In other words, the factual presentation of the pairing of incumbents, the unequal continuity of representation through district cores for incumbents of different parties, and the odd shapes and lowered compactness all indicated evidence of an illegal partisan gerrymander under the standard adopted by the majority.

Every justice except Scalia voted to uphold the Georgia case without a hearing. And, in Texas, we can only assume that the majority sending the case back down is Kennedy plus the Gang of Four from Veith. The question is, if the district court looks into the Texas maps and sees the same kind of evidence that was presented in Georgia, then they might be positioned to overturn the Texas maps, or at least create enough of an appeal point to have the new majority take a look at the districts and make a determination on their own.

There might be enough evidence to overturn those districts, except for one critical difference between Texas and Georgia: In Texas, the old maps made a minority of votes into a majority of seats, whereas the new districts do not. In Georgia, the illegal map that was thrown out made a minority of votes into a majority of seats. Otherwise, these are circumstantially identical redistrictings, and they exhibit similar traits and attributes and motivations.

Go look at the Georgia case.

Keith Gaddie
Professor of Political Science
The University of Oklahoma

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dean Sweeps Texas Polls

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I told you something big was coming on Monday here at the Burnt Orange Report. The following was released from Democracy for Texas just now. Major points bolded. I have class so I will add my thoughts later.

I’m writing to you today to let you know about the results of two polls conducted by Democracy for Texas, the largest progressive grassroots organization in Texas, with over 40,000 members. These polls sought feedback from the grassroots on their preference for DNC chair.

We first polled DFT members. Not surprisingly, Governor Howard Dean won this vote in a landslide with 90% of the vote of those responding. I say “not surprisingly” because our organization is an outgrowth of the Dean campaign. In fact, the majority of our members are people who were never involved in politics before, but were so inspired by Governor Dean and his message that they became, and continue to be, active.

We decided that a more objective measure of grassroots support would be polling all people who were eligible to attend the State Democratic Convention in Houston last June, who would reflect a wider range of opinions. We sent emails to all of them who provided email addresses and we now have results from the respondents. They are compelling.

Howard Dean 69%
Martin Frost 25%
Others 6%

Many of those who provided comments mentioned Governor Dean’s commitment to a 50-state strategy (before it was fashionable), and his campaigning for Richard Morrison and David Van Os. Others talked about his amazing fund-raising ability. Some talked about the number of new voters, particularly young people, he brought into the Party. Still others said they were not Dean supporters during the primaries, but were impressed with the hard work he did on behalf of the national ticket and candidates across the country, including many “Dean Dozen” candidates who won in red states.

And there were many who talked about how the training in Austin last year subsidized by Dean’s PAC, Democracy for America, helped them organize, get out the vote, and win races in Texas.

The vote is yours, but we feel it’s important for you to know what your constituents are thinking.

Thank you for your service to the Democratic Party. Our steering committee looks forward to seeing you in D.C. in February.

Fran Vincent
Executive Director

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:26 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

The Manchurian Candi-debt

By Jim Dallas

Atrios is beating the foreign debt horse again. And this Kos diary seems to make things seem like they're ready to rumble.

My understanding is that the Chinese central bank's motive in buying so many U.S. bonds stems from the peg between the RMB and the dollar, and the likelihood that the failure to prop up the dollar would result in massive unemployment in China (or so I've been told). So it's not so much inspired James Bond-ian evil Chinese scheming (remember Goldfinger - the Chinese trying to destroy the U.S. dollar by irradiating our gold supply!) as it is political realism.

Nonetheless, it seems like we're being driven into a macroeconomic trainwreck by technocrats on both sides of the Pacific.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

The answers you seek

By Nathan Nance

DFA was helpful enough to provide a transcript of Gov. Dean's interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on their blog.

I thought he did a good job presenting his ideas and showing where he wants to take the party. My favorite part of the interview is where he discusses what we could do to start winning:

Look, Newt Gingrich—who I'd agree agree with almost nothing about in terms of policy—but Newt Gingrich decided that he was going to try to take back the Congress by drawing a clear distinction between Democrats and Republicans. And he succeeded. Before that, the minority in the House—Republicans—were really kind of around the edges of what the Democrats were doing and they weren't getting anywhere. I think we've got to draw a clear distinction.

We have different moral values than what the Republicans say they have. They say their moral values are about making sure gay people don't get ahead and making sure that women can't make up their mind about their own kind of health care. I say our moral values are feeding hungry children, having job opportunities and educational opportunities for every single American, and restoring a foreign policy which is not just based on a very strong military—which I'm very proud of—but also strong moral authority, which this president has abdicated in the world.

To me, that's the path to electoral victory. Drawing clear distinctions betwween where Republicans stand, and where we stand. Republicans stand for making rich people richer and for ruining the environment. They can come up with all the rhetoric in the world to say they're not but the policies they put forth show that is exactly where they stand. It should be our job as the opposition party to show that to the people and tell them how we're going to fix it.

I think Howard Dean is one of the few people running for chair who really understands this. Couple that with the other things we've discussed in the past (you're going to have to do your own searching) and I think Dean is just the best choice for DNC chair. Just one of the things to keep in mind as Feb. 12 approaches.

Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Social Security is $70.40 short

By Jim Dallas

While working as a substitute teacher, my employer (Galveston I.S.D.) diverted money that would have gone to Social Security to an alternative program.

This is, of course, legal and encouraged by the federal government; State and local employees can opt-in, but they're not automatically part of Social Security like most workers. But it isn't at all helping the long-term finances of Social Security.

Changing this is yet another way to improve OASDI finances without cutting benefits, as the President proposes.

P.S. Actually, after checking this, I see my 457 account has accrued $1.49 in earnings since June, when I hung up my hat. Obviously, I am on my way to being a zillionaire; Boca Raton, here I come!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Newsweek updates on the somewhat-overlooked story involving Judge Crain, Alberto Gonazles, and George Bush's non-answer answer on his 1996 jury information sheet.

Arguably, this is a minor issue, but if they could call Clinton's alleged indiscretions "Troopergate," well, I guess I can call this "Craingate."

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Previous Wars on Terrorism

By Jim Dallas

For the younger readers, a brief reminder that terrorism has been an issue in politics since at least the 1950s, when Puerto Rican terrorists shot up Congress and tried to kill Harry Truman.

Some observers have noted the parallels between the 9/11 hi-jackings and earlier hi-jackings in the 1960s; and we now learn that the 9/11 scenario was actually considered by government terrorism experts as early as 1972.

(Additionally, we learn, the United Nations has been ignoring terrorism for just as long).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Social Security and Young People

By Byron LaMasters

For once, I feel average. Ordinary. On the issue of Social Security, my thoughts probably mimic that of the typical 22 year old in America. Social what? I take pride in the fact that I’m more politically active, more involved, and research the important issues of the day far more than your average 20-something American. However, on the recent Social Security discussion, I’ve only glimpsed at the debate, even on this site.

Why? Because on a personal level, it’s not an issue I’ve really thought about. My thoughts are surely influenced by the fact that I’m still enjoying my final semester as an undergraduate, and I’ve yet to join the workforce in a meaningful way. I’m much more concerned about finding a decent job when I graduate – the last thing on my mind is retirement. My guess is that the average 20-something year old cares much more about how they’ll pay for school and debts. If you’re lucky enough to be able to save any considerable amount of money in your twenties, that money is much more likely to go towards saving for a new car or buying a house / condo than to savings for retirement.

It boggles my mind that President Bush and Republicans think that young people will rally to the idea of private accounts for Social Security. The people that such accounts would potentially benefit the most are probably the least likely to vote on Social Security. The past three election cycles I’ve spoken to hundreds of young voters face-to-face about important issues of the day, and how Democrats best represent the values of young people. This past election I emphasized three issues almost universally when speaking to young people: Jobs, Iraq and higher education. Those are the issues young people care about – Social Security never comes up.

While every poll should be taken with a grain of salt, I finding it very telling that the 18-30 age bracket has the least confidence (by a 27 point margin) of any age group in President Bush on Social Security. At first glance this seems counterintuitive. Young people have the most potentially gain from a partial privatization of Social Security, so why do we oppose the idea by a larger margin than anyone else. My hypothesis is simply that young people generally don’t care about Social Security too much, and we certainly don’t vote on the issue. Thus, I think that when most young people look at the issue, they trust their initial partisan instincts. The 18-30 age group was the group most likely to vote against this president, so it makes sense that they would also be most likely to distrust this president on an issue that most would probably otherwise feel indifferent towards.

On the other hand, I’m increasingly seeing the path to Democratic victory in 2006 and beyond as claiming the mantle of reform on big issues: Redistricting, campaign finance, fiscal responsibility, recorded votes, etc. Social Security will surely need reform at some point, but right now it’s not in crisis, and the problem can be solved by some minor changes like raising the cap for wages taxed to support Social Security.

Of course, Republicans have done their darndest to claim the cause of reform. The first Bush term saw “tax reform” that bankrupted our budget, and “education reform” that largely resulted in unfunded mandates. Now, the Bush administration is attempting to claim the side of reform in what is likely to be the most notable and debated domestic issue of the 109th Congress. Having said that, Democrats shouldn’t fall for the trap. There is no Social Security crisis. Social Security is arguably the best domestic program ever enacted by congress.

It’s a promise that reminds me of this Hubert Humphrey quote: “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped”. Social Security has done more to pass that moral test than any other legislation in American history. I believe that any attempt of privatization is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to failing that test. For that reason, I added a link to the site There is no crisis on the left-sidebar. It’s not an issue that I intend to talk about too much, but I did want to throw in my two cents for what it’s worth.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:21 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No Guarantees

By Jim Dallas

I'm not entirely sure how to apply Brad Plumer's thoughts on Southern politics to Texas, except to say the following:

(1) Texas is very different from Tennessee; and

(2) The 2002 Sanchez campaign presents an example of good ol' boy technocrats not only not winning, but losing. Big.

(On the other hand, the relative success of the 2002 Sharp campaign may well tend to prove the "Warner/Bredesen" rule that Plumer is, I think, trying to assert).

P.S. And don't forget Ed Kilgore.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Oh, God, I thought redistricting was... absolutely dreadful

By Jim Dallas

Kuff fills us in on the status of the re-hearing of Jackson in the shadow of the Supreme Court's ruling in Vieth.

Of course, that wasn't the only re-hear-ing to make waves this weekend:

TV viewers couldn’t wait for their American Idol fix, turning out 33.5 million strong for its season debut.

No other show this season has attracted so large an audience, and it represented the third-highest ratings night of entertainment programming in the Fox network’s history, Nielsen Media Research said Wednesday. The 33.5 million was a preliminary estimate.

“I’m as awe-struck as anybody,” Fox entertainment president Gail Berman said. “We thought we would do well, but nothing like this.”

Without further adieu, the official Burnt Orange American Idol/Jackson v. Perry comparison chart!


Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Protecting the Stem Cell from Research

By Byron LaMasters

Rick Perry will protect our stem cells from research as long as he's governor:

Republican Gov. Rick Perry reaffirmed his anti-abortion stance Saturday and, in a stark disagreement with potential rival Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, said he doesn't support embryonic stem cell research.

"As long as I am the governor of this great state, I will oppose any taxpayer dollars being used and spent on research that ends a human life," Perry said.

Hutchison, a Republican who is considering a run for governor next year, said last month that state leaders should develop a stem-cell research policy that keeps Texas from being "left in the dust by California." That state recently approved a $3 billion initiative to fund stem-cell research.

Personally, I have a hard time seeing the moral equivalence between a stem cell that will never develop into a human being, and a human being with cancer or Alzheimer's disease whose life could potentially be saved by stem cell research.

The article goes on to address pharmacists to refuse filling prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraceptives:

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is more concerned about another bill that Wheat said would allow a pharmacist to refuse to fill birth control or emergency contraceptive prescriptions.

I respectfully disagree with pro-life advocates on many issues in the abortion debate, but the idea of allowing individual pharmacists to decline to provide emergency prescriptions is just asinine. If you have a moral or religious objection to birth control, then you shouldn't be a pharmacist.

What's next? Laws allowing bartenders who object to drinking alcohol to decline serving alcoholic drinks? Laws allowing butchers who are vegetarians to object to cutting and serving meat? If you have a certain religious or moral objection to the demands of a certain profession, then find a new job.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ever Wonder What Your Legislators Do For A Living?

By Vince Leibowitz

Glancing through one of Van Zandt County's five newspapers a few days ago, I ran across the name of a State Representative in a story about Canton ISD's search for a new superintendent. Only, it wasn't our local Rep, Dan Flynn. It was none other than Bob Griggs (R-North Richland Hills) of HD 91.

It seems Dr. Grigg's company, Bob Griggs & Associates, is conducting a superintendent search for the district--and for districts all across the state, of which 47 currently have superintendent vacancies.

For some reason, I have a problem with this. Everyone's got to make a living, and a lot of retired superintendents form consulting companies to do everything from employee searches to administrate controversial "retire/rehire" programs that are the bane of groups like the Texas Retired Teachers Association. In fact, my counterpart in Wood County, Democratic County Chairman Dr. Charles Thompson has his own company and forms superintendent searches, too.

What I question is whether a sitting state representative (or his company) should be doing business with school districts throughout the state in this manner. Granted, it's not lobbying, and the "& Associates" in the company name means he obviously has other people working with and/or for him. It's also oddly suspicious to me that there is no mention of Griggs' owning or any association with his company in his House bio.

Should Griggs not be required to file some special disclosure that he's working for and with other government bodies in Texas--especially since those governments recieve most of their money from the state?

Not surprisingly, the Texas Government Code is silent on this point.

The Government Code does, however, note the following about various activities by legislators and regulations governing the activities of legislators in various professions:

§ 572.025. INFORMATION ABOUT LEGISLATORS' REPRESENTATION BEFORE EXECUTIVE STATE AGENCIES. A member of the legislature who represents another person for compensation before an executive state agency shall report on the financial statement: (1) the name of the agency; (2) the person represented by the member; and (3) the category of the amount of compensation received by the member for that representation.

CONTINUANCES. A member or member-elect of the legislature
licensed to practice law in this state who represents a party to a
civil or criminal case for compensation and on that party's behalf
applies for or obtains a legislative continuance under Section
30.003, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, or under another law or
rule that requires or permits a court to grant a continuance on the
grounds that an attorney for a party is a member or member-elect of
the legislature shall report on the financial statement:
(1) the name of the party represented;
(2) the date on which the member or member-elect was
retained to represent the party;
(3) the style and cause number of the action in which the continuance was sought and the court and jurisdiction in which the action was pending when the continuance was sought;
(4) the date on which the member or member-elect
applied for a continuance; and
(5) whether the continuance was granted.

officer who is an attorney shall report on the financial statement:
(1) making or receiving any referral for compensation for legal services; and
(2) the category of the amount of any fee accepted for making a referral for legal services.

In fact, a while back, Texans for Public Justice made a big deal about legislative continuances, and even sued a couple of legislators to force them to disclose the continuances they requested.

So why is a State Representative (or his company) doing such cozy business with Texas school districts no big deal? I can't answer that. But, I know if I was a school board trustee, and a Democrat, I wouldn't hire a Republican legislator's search firm to shine my shoes because I'd be afraid of the reccomended candidates. Although, I must note that, by all accounts (and Griggs was Superintendent in Canton for a time), Dr. Griggs was an excellent school administrator, and I seriously doubt he'd do something like present a school board with a slew of right-wing job applicants.

Nevertheless, he's making a living off of (or at least supplementing his state retirement and legislative pay with) taxpayer dollars, since schools are funded with tax money. So, why shouldn't he have to disclose this?

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on the Wilmer-Hutchins ISD Saga

By Vince Leibowitz

While most of Texas is focused on what the Texas Legislature is going to do this time around to make a (further) mess of education, health care, our court system and the state in general, folks in the Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District in Dallas are facing problems of their own.

If you've never attended a school board meeting anywhere in Texas, you know that school board politics (the trustees are elected) is as nasty, dirty and disfunctional as most other brands of local politics (water boards, city council, etc.). However, in the case of WHISD, it seems to be much worse indeed--and it's not just political infighting such as what plagued Dallas ISD during the Yvonne Gonzalez days:

Dilapidated buildings, a $3 million debt and allegations that students cheated on state standardized tests have pushed the Wilmer-Hutchins school district to the brink.

And there's more: an indicted school superintendent, local and state investigations into possible misuse of tax money and a desperate plea to taxpayers to save the school system.

"This thing's like an onion," said attorney Phillip Layer, who filed a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of several residents. But as you peel back the layers, "it keeps growing though instead of getting smaller."

Wilmer-Hutchins' survival likely hinges on voters approving a referendum, likely in May, to allow the school district to tax property owners at a rate higher than a nearly 50-year-old local law allows. The district also must restructure a $3 million loan due in March.

Taxpayers have already paid a higher rate for at least 20 years, even though school officials can't prove they ever got voter permission to exceed the 1956 local cap of 90 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Over time, the rate has gradually been increased to about $1.50 per $100, right at the maximum allowed by the state.

If the referendum fails, Wilmer-Hutchins will lose about 30 percent of its revenue, or about $6.1 million per year, interim superintendent James Damm said.

"It comes to a vote of survival of the district," he said.

Wilmer-Hutchins is located about five miles south of downtown Dallas, where gritty urban decay meets cotton fields. The district draws from the tiny cities of Wilmer and Hutchins, along with part of Dallas and the south suburb of Lancaster.

Its 3,070 students are overwhelmingly black or Hispanic, and poor — 78 percent of them received free or reduced-price lunches during the 2003-04 school year.

Eliminating about 80 jobs and closing three small schools should result in a balanced budget for this year, Damm said. But there's nothing left to chip away at the roughly $3 million fund balance deficit the district built up over the past two years.

Although I think a local tax cap of 90 cents per $100 valuation is beyond nuts, I can't figure out why the district "can't prove they ever got voter permission to exceed the 1956 local cap." Did election results magically dissappear? Was an election ever held? Did the trustees just forget about the cap? Did previous counsel tell them such a cap was unconstitutional?

This isn't the first run of trouble for WHISD. State monitors have been in and our of the district since the 1980s, and took over the district's operations in 1996 and 1998.

According to the Denton Record Chronicle, the most recent problems became apparent in August, when storm damage exacerbated years of accumulated maintenance problems and delayed the start of classes at the high school. Following that, official investigations of the district's finances resulted in corruption allegations, "document shredding, double payments for expenses and the illegal use of property tax revenue to pay off a loan. The FBI and the Texas Rangers joined the district attorney's investigation in September."

To me, though, the worst part of all of this is the move to dissolve the district all together:

Longtime resident and former school board member Lionel Churchill said he's cautiously pleased with the district's progress under Damm and the TEA team.

But, he said, "when the monitors leave, will there be behavioral modification in this district or do we go back to business as usual?

"We will, unless we see some really significant changes in the culture of this school district," Churchill said.

Churchill said his group, Wilmer-Hutchins ISD Concerned Citizens, has collected 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for the district's abolishment.

But Damm urges residents not to give up on the district as it works to boost achievement by restructuring the curriculum, renovating school facilities and raising teacher salaries.

"We can make those kind of changes here and make this a quality instructional program that everyone can be proud of," he said.

Although I'm sure most residents in WHISD are most concerned about losing their autonomy, I'm more concerned about what type of precedent a dissolution election could have on other districts across Texas.

For example, Van Zandt County has seven independent school districts--all with instruction for grades k-12. Two are very tiny, 1A schools--one doesn't even have football, the other has six-man. There are a lot of districts scattered across the state. Anti-tax advocates seem to have problems with little school districts like these because their property taxes are almost always set at the $1.50 cap (soon to change, given whatever the Lege does) for local property taxes (excluding debt service). A lot of anti-tax advocates seem to believe they'd get more for their money of operations were consolodated with nearby larger districts. What they don't seem to realize is that those districts would have to increase their tax rates significantly to pay for facilities operation, instruction, personnel, busing, etc. in the event of such a consolodation. And, if I remember correctly, voters in both the district wanting to consolodate and the district absorbing the other school have to approve of such a measure, which makes it at least a partial long-shot.

In my mind, whatever the Lege does with school finance this session, steps need to be taken to ensure the survival of smaller ISDs.

As for Wilmer-Hutchins, I don't think they're beyond help, but I do think they need some serious changes.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County. As a former journalist, he's covered numerous school board meetings, and was twice named to the Texas Association of School Boards Media Honor Roll for his coverage of the Van Independent School District and the Canton Independent School District.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 12:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Something EPIC

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offline.
The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned.
What happened to the news?
And what is EPIC?

Watch this future history of the media.
Think News. Think Blogs. Think Different.

And then see this cartoon, Fossil Fuel Terrorists.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DNC California Round-Up

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

There seems to have been a lot of on the ground reporting out of the California Western DNC Caucus this weekend so here are all the links we could find.


Live from Sacramento
The Most Detailed Report
Add-on Observations

Adriel Hampton blog: writer for this SF Examiner DNC article

Bob Brigham, BlogPAC consultant, on the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee: “With Howard Dean we will get a movement, with Simon Rosenberg we'll get an empire, with Martin Frost we'll get an exodus, with Donnie Fowler we'll get a monarchy and with Tim Roemer we'll get a Republican.”

Daily Kos

100% Dean Endorsements at DNC/CDC Meeting

"Some of you in the DNC may see us as barbarians at the gate. Some of us see ourselves as the cavalry. The truth is, we are fresh horses."

Marisa's Report (a good read)

Swing State Project

Caucus Update 1
Caucus Update 2
Caucus Update 3
Caucus Update 4

If you find anything else out there, leave links in the comments. I encourage you to read through these, or at least glance over them and pick out the parts that are of interest to you.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

Nuke the Pinkos

By Jim Dallas

Sometimes, yes, the ISO folks are a little dippy, sometimes downright frustrating, and often treading on the road to sedition (not like that's a crime or anything). I'm sure they think the same thing about me. (Although for what it's worth, I've also come to the opinion that a lot of the ISO folks are good people.)

But really, is there any justification for this?

No, what I needed to counter this speaker was not a Democrat like me who might argue that elections were, in fact, important. What I needed was a Republican like Arnold who would walk up to him and punch him in the face.

These weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.

Maybe sometimes you just want to be on the side of whoever is more likely to take a bunker buster to Arundhati Roy.

Really, it shouldn't be necessary to advocate violence - three times! - to note that you really disagree with the far left.

The New Republic, of course, probably won't do anything to censure Tom Frank's vicious red-baiting.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Memes and things

By Jim Dallas

Professor Mixon is a big fan of memes, if only because it allows him to say "it [a particular meme such as democracy] has infected your brain like a virus!" every class.

Oh boy, and I thought I was getting bored of the "memes" meme by reading blogs...

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fetch me a coffee and a beignet, Dubya.

By Jim Dallas

Normally, I'd presume that the American people will always tell pollsters (by large margins) that they oppose partisan bickering and support "compromise" and bi-partisanship as a general principle.

Ruy Teixeira prattles off a list of recent poll results, two of which stick out:

[WSJ Poll] How should the Democrats conduct themselves in Congress? By 57-33, the public thinks Democrats should provide a balance so Bush and the Republicans don't go too far, rather than work in a bipartisan fashion to pass Bush's legislative priorities.

[L.A. Times Poll] By an overwhelming 71-25 margin the public believes Bush should compromise with Democrats on his issues, rather than proceed as if he has a mandate to push through his agenda.

So, presuming these samples are accurate reflections of current public opinion, a large majority of Americans think that the President and the Republican majority they just elected by larger margins should cave in to the Democratic minority - and the Democrats are not being encouraged to reciprocate the favor. That is truly weird, especially considering the conventional wisdom that Democrats like us are now tainted with "loser" status.

It's never too early, I guess, to officially kick the left-blogosphere's biennial ritual of making ridiculously over-optimistic projections about Democratic performance in the next election, so here it is:

We are so totally going to own you in 2006! LOL 2 TEH MAX!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:29 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Maybe we'll get some answers

By Nathan Nance

In answer to Byron's earlier post, I'll let the good doctor speak for himself. He's appearing on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning. That's 9 a.m. on KVUE in Austin.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 02:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005


By Jim Dallas

Kevin Drum links us to what may very well be the lowest form of human life: a whiney Big Pharma hack.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush, the Great Crusader

By Jim Dallas

As the old proverb goes, one is a fluke and two is a trend. Looks like we got a trend - even conservative pundits are expressing skepticism of Bush's new liberation theology (perhaps manifesting the traditional conservative's (i.e. Edmund Burke's) skepticism of anything bold or revolutionary-sounding).

Peggy Noonan (via Greg Wythe):

The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike. Rhetorically, it veered from high-class boilerplate to strong and simple sentences, but it was not pedestrian. George W. Bush's second inaugural will no doubt prove historic because it carried a punch, asserting an agenda so sweeping that an observer quipped that by the end he would not have been surprised if the president had announced we were going to colonize Mars.

A short and self-conscious preamble led quickly to the meat of the speech: the president's evolving thoughts on freedom in the world. Those thoughts seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty.

No one will remember what the president said about domestic policy, which was the subject of the last third of the text. This may prove to have been a miscalculation.

It was a foreign-policy speech. To the extent our foreign policy is marked by a division that has been (crudely but serviceably) defined as a division between moralists and realists--the moralists taken with a romantic longing to carry democracy and justice to foreign fields, the realists motivated by what might be called cynicism and an acknowledgment of the limits of governmental power--President Bush sided strongly with the moralists, which was not a surprise. But he did it in a way that left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance.

The administration's approach to history is at odds with what has been described by a communications adviser to the president as the "reality-based community." A dumb phrase, but not a dumb thought: He meant that the administration sees history as dynamic and changeable, not static and impervious to redirection or improvement. That is the Bush administration way, and it happens to be realistic: History is dynamic and changeable. On the other hand, some things are constant, such as human imperfection, injustice, misery and bad government.

This world is not heaven.

The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. "The Author of Liberty." "God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul."

Peter Robinson:

Aw, gee. He’s our guy, I like him, and his performance since 9/11 has proven brave, steadfast, and completely admirable. But this speech? It was well-written — in places actually beautiful — and well-delivered. (I dissent from Jonah Goldberg and others who fault Bush for his delivery on the ground that they’re forgetting to multiply his score by the degree of difficulty. Just try standing outdoors, in freezing weather, using a sound system that echoes, and then delivering a speech to an audience that consists of more or less the entire planet. Denny Hastert couldn’t even administer the oath of office to the vice president without misspeaking. Bush delivered his entire text without a flaw.) But the speech was in almost no way that of a conservative. To the contrary. It amounted to a thoroughgoing exaltation of the state.

Bush has just announced that we must remake the entire third world in order to feel safe in our own homes, and he has done so without sounding a single note of reluctance or hesitation. This overturns the nation’s fundamental stance toward foreign policy since its inception. Washington warned of "foreign entanglements." The second President Adams asserted that "we go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." During the Cold War, even Republican presidents made it clear that we played our large role upon the world stage only to defend ourselves and our allies, seeking to changed the world by our example rather than by force. Maybe I'm misreading Bush — I'm writing this based on my notes, and without having had time to study the text — but sheesh.

On domestic policy, a "broader definition of liberty?" Citing as useful precedents the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G. I. Bill? Compare what Bush said today with the inaugural address of Lyndon Baines Johnson and the first inaugural address of Ronald Reagan and you'll find that Bush sounds much, much more like LBJ. He as much as announced that from now on the GOP will be a party of big government. I can only hope that Chris Cox, Dana Rohrabacher, and other Republican members of Congress standing on the platform behind the president today were thinking to themselves, "Not so fast, buster." Bush may yet win critical conservative victories in this second term — notably by managing to enact private retirement accounts. But his "broader definition of liberty" makes me mighty nervous.

Tell me I'm wrong. Please.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Aaron Peña Replies

By Byron LaMasters

Via comments, State Rep. Aaron Peña (D-Edinburg) replied to our post regarding his blog:

Guys, I appreciate your taking notice of the blog on my website. I have been a longtime reader of the Burnt Orange Report. Your blog along with many of the others noted on your homepage inspired me to break free of the traditional modes of political communication and join the revolution.

This really is Democracy unbound. Wow! You can actually hear the shudders in the boardrooms and corridors of power. Keep up the good work! I will link you up soon.

Aaron Peña

Good to hear from you, Rep. Peña. Thanks for joining the revolution! Again, check out his blog here.

So what was Rep. Peña been doing while his Republican colleagues were partying in Washington D.C. this week? Peña went back to his district to pay his respects for a soldier who died in Iraq:

The House of Representatives adjourned until January 24, 2005 so that some house leaders and members could travel to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration. For me, coming home to pay my respects to Lance Corporal Juan Cisneros Alvarez (22) who died in Iraq.

Cisneros had only been in Iraq five months before he was killed. I have attended nearly every funeral for our fallen soldiers who once called the Valley home. You never quite get used to comprehending the pain and loss you experience when a young life is stolen away. You look for logic and you find none. You search for God's plan and cannot see it. I only pray that the grace of the almighty is visited on this family, as it was extremely painful for all of us there who attended the funeral to see the pain inflicted upon them. [...]

As to myself, I am having difficulties containing my emotions. I have seen too many young lives snuffed away by this war. These people deserve better. We owe our respect to these families. As a community, we have to come together to assist them in time of need. I will not forget Juan, nor his sacrifice, nor allow his memory to fade. Washington, the inauguration and its celebrations seem so far away right now. I'm glad I came home.

God bless you, Juan.

Aaron Peña's sentiments echo the best of what we should expect from all of our lawmakers. His thoughts embody the compassion that all of us share for the families of those whose lives have been cut short by this war. It's just such a shame to me that so many other lawmakers, and most significantly, our President, do not share that commitment or interest in serving the families of the men and women that have fallen in service to our country.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bush a Satanist?

By Byron LaMasters

Well, I am amused with the press the whole thing is getting. Apparently, the Norwegian press translated President Bush's "Hook 'em Horns" hand signal with the similar motion that is a Satanist signal in Norway. It's always amusing how different signs mean different things in different cultures.

However, while I think it's great that the President is a Longhorn fan, I can't help but note that the University of Texas rejected him for Law school, so he had to settle for Harvard Business School instead. Nor is President Bush a native Texan. He was born in Connecticut, and he went to school at Yale. So, who knows? Is President Bush really a Longhorn fan after all? He might just be a Satanist. You never know...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:41 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

More Changes

By Byron LaMasters

As I started last week with my Texas blogroll updates, I'm continuing with site updates here at BOR. Since we're a group blog, and especially since we've been expressing our varying viewpoints on the DNC Chair race, I made changes today intended to make it easier for our readers to know whose post they're reading. Instead of having to read or scroll down to the end of each post to figure out which one of us wrote the post, you can now see the author of each post directly under the title of the post. Tell me what you think, and if there are any further changes along these lines that we can make.

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

More Texas Redistricting...

By Byron LaMasters

Vince reports on Political State Report:

The merry-go-round saga of Texas congressional redistricting heads back to a federal court today as Democrats and minority plaintiffs try once again to get the Republican plan pushed through the Texas Legislature by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) thrown out.

Naturally, the state will attempt to show the three-judge federal panel hearing the case that the map is legal and should be used until after the next scheduled round of redistricting in 2011.

Democratic plaintiffs failed in their attempt to block the use of the congressional redistricting plan before the same three-judge panel last year. [...]

Appeals in the case were pending before the U.S. Supreme Court last year when that panel rejected a Pennsylvania redistricting case in a split decision. Four of the justices in Vieth v. Jubelirer said the courts have no business deciding partisan redistricting cases.

Five judges said the courts could intervene but disagreed on how courts should decide whether a partisan gerrymander is not just unfair but unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court then sent the Texas case back to the three-judge panel for reconsideration.

The panel is made up of two Republican appointees, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patrick Higginbotham and District Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston, and one Democratic appointee, District Judge John T. Ward of Marshall.

Controversal attorney Andy Taylor, who is representing the state and has cost Texans thousands of taxpayer dollars, told the panel in briefs that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Pennsylvania case made the Democrats' lawsuit against the congressional map moot. [...]

Lawyers representing Democratic congressmen and some of the minority plaintiffs looked on the same Supreme Court case in a more positive light: Five of the justices had said courts could decide partisan gerrymandering cases but were looking for a standard of review.

More at Kuff, Election Law Blog, The Stakeholder, and A little Pollyanna. Also see the Austin Chronicle and the Daily Texan.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Why I can't stand to Listen to President Bush

By Byron LaMasters

Aside from the content, the over-the-top religiosity, the dishonesty and hypocrisy on the liberty and freedom talking points and the whole lying in his oath to uphold the constitution, it's more basic than any of that. Mike points out what a professor of speech communications said about Bush's inaugural speech that makes a lot of sense:

There is something about Bush’s speeches that has always bothered me (aside from the content) and until the other day I couldn't quite say what it was. But yesterday NPR interviewed a professor of speech communications who analyzed Bush's inauguration speech and I think he nailed it. He replayed specific parts of Bush's speech and showed how Bush puts the emphasis on the wrong words. For example, when Bush says "At this second gathering..." he puts the emphasis on the word 'gathering' rather than on the word 'second.' He also pauses at awkward moments and doesn't have a natural rhythm in his cadence. What is sounds like is somebody struggling to read a difficult passage for the first time, with no idea how the sentence is going to end before they start reading it.

The professor noted that past presidents like John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton could make a speech sound better than it read on paper. Bush, he said, is the opposite. His speeches are better when you read them and sound worse when you hear them.

The professor speculated that Bush just doesn't like public speaking and is perhaps daydreaming about being back on his Crawford ranch in the middle of his speeches. He certainly doesn't make me want to continue listening. I am usually upset by some of the things he is saying, but then hearing him struggle through the speech like a junior high school kid being forced to read aloud from his textbook in front of the whole class is just painful.

Well, I'm glad that I missed it. Jon Stewart informed me as to the highlights of the event - Freedom defeated Liberty 27-15, Dick Cheney still has a LESBIAN daughter, Bill Clinton still can't dance, and Joe Lieberman will stand up for Social Security. That pretty much covers it.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:25 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

George W. Bush, the Constitutionalist

By Byron LaMasters

Yesterday, President Bush put his hand on the bible and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. If his first term is any indication, he won't. Juan Cole gives us a pictoral overview of how Bush upheld the constitution in his first term.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Liveblogging of the Inauguration Protest

By Byron LaMasters

From an Austinite...

St. Edward's University senior Jake McCook is studying in D.C. this semester, so he liveblogged the Inauguration protest yesterday on his blog here. Check out the other posts as well for lots of pictures of the festivities.

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

Sheriff Holcomb is, Odd.

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In the category of odd things I have read, this trascript takes the cake. It is in reference to this website for the Sherrif of Guntersville, Alabama where he states...

I was raised in era, the 1940's as a child and the 1950's as a teenager, which I remember with great affection. During this era, love of God, family, and country abounded. Men were men and women were women and there was no mistaking which was which. Both were proud of their individual roles. Homosexuality was very queer and a despicable act… an abomination.

AmericaBlog has the audio of an interview between Sirius radio jock Mike Signorile and the Sheriff while The Last Midnight has a full transcript. A couple of choice parts to get you started?

H = Sheriff Holcomb; M = Michael Signorile

M: Well, do you believe that gay men and lesbians should be protected against being fired in their jobs? Do you believe there should be anti-discrimination laws?
H: Oh, yes! I don't-- I'm-- I've had four homosexuals work for me in my administration. Knowing. I hired them knowing. That doesn't mean that I'm for it. I'm against [unintelligible]

M: Ah, So you believe they should be protected with anti-discrimination laws and with other laws that protect them and their families?
H: Sure. But no special rights. I don't give anybody any special rights.

M: Okay. So what do you mean by--
H: --If a straight person or a homosexual breaks the law in Marshall County, Alabama, they're going to-- they're going to go to jail.

M: But do you think there should be a law? Cause there's not one in Alabama. There are in six states.
H: Giving them special rights?
M: No. Not a special right. A law that says it is illegal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation.
H: There is a Federal law against that, my friend.
M: No, there isn't. There's no Federal law protecting people who are gay.

Which is correct, there is no Federal Law (or law in Texas) that protects workers from being fired based on their sexual orientation. But of course, it wouldn't be an interview if the Sherrif didn't dig himself a deeper hole.

H: What you're talking about, Michael, here, and you audience (I hope Hillary Clinton's listening), is a most despicable, most despicable act. I don't have to go into it, because apparently most of your audience understands this and are for it, and they know what homosexuals do. Nothing could be more despicable. If there was no God, if there was no Bible-- Even animals don't do this despicable act. If a dog, a male dog, tried this with another male dog, he would probably lose a vital organ.

M: Don't you believe that-- First of all, there are male dogs who do that with one another. There are gay dogs. There are -- Homosexuality exists throughout the animal kingdom.
H: You guys never got dogs in New York we got down here, cause our Southern dogs don't -- male dogs don't do that to one another.

Remember, the full transcript is here and the Sheriff's e-mail address happens to be sheriff@marshallco.org

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 07:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Some Questions for Dean

By Byron LaMasters

I blogged last week on the reasons why Howard Dean is not my first choice for DNC Chair. A lot of folks have asked open questions to Martin Frost on this blog and also over at Kos, MyDD and Annatopia. A lot of the questions for Frost are quite legitimate. What type of reforms would Frost like to see at the DNC? How would Martin Frost engage and utilize the netroots? Why did Martin Frost run those ads featuring President Bush and other Republicans? Well, I've asked Martin Frost those very questions, and I should be getting responses sometime soon.

Now, I have questions that I would like to ask Howard Dean and his supporters for DNC Chair:

What did Howard Dean actually do for the candidates which Democracy for America endored - i.e. "Dean's Dozens"? I've not been involved with Democracy for America, and I'm very pleased that it has brought so many new people into the process. However, I think that we should judge an organization by their results. What did Democracy for America do for the candidates they endorsed? As I wrote earlier, with the exception of Richard Morrison, I believe that DFA was ineffective in the races it targeted in Texas. What would Howard Dean do differently as DNC Chair?

To follow up, what was the process of targeting for races for Democracy for America? One of the races targeted by DFA was that of David Van Os for State Supreme Court. Now, Van Os is a nice guy, and a damn good Democrat, but he really never had much of a chance. DFA's endorsement of Van Os seems to be more about payback for Van Os's endorsement of Dean's presidential bid than of well thought out targeting.

Another one of Dean's endorsements was of May Walker, a candidate for Constable in Houston. It was an overwhelmingly democratic district, and Walker won with over 80% of the vote. Was she worthy of support? Sure. But should it have been a race to which Democratic resources were poured into (that could have gone to a competitive race)? I would say no.

I'm all for a 50-state-strategy, and a 254-county-strategy for Texas. As Democrats we should never concede a state, or even a county for that matter. Having said that, we need to invest our resources where they can have the largest impact. I would argue that DFA's endorsements of Walker and Van Os were ineffective uses of resources. Imagine if someone like Kelly White (for state representative) were targeted. She lost by less than 200 votes, but a few thousand more dollars, and things might have turned out differently.

My question is quite simple. What was the targeting process of Democracy for America in 2004? Did Democracy for America consult with state and local parties as to how they could best make a difference? My guess is if the Texas Democratic Party had been consulted, the targeting choices might have been different. Dean advocates working with state and local parties now in his DNC Chair race, but is that a strategy that Dean practiced as the leader of an influential Democratic organization? I'd like to know.

Amy Sullivan's article on consultants in the Democratic Party made quite a splash this month. Howard Dean certainly wasn't immune to getting sucked into bad strategic decisions in his presidential campaign by various consultants. As Anna notes, lots of us remember some of Howard Dean's horrific television ads during the Democratic primary campaign. I'd be interested in learning what Dean learned from his primary loss. What mistakes did Howard Dean make, and how has he learned from them?

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:49 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

SD 24 Democrats on the Move

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If the Democratic Party in Texas plans to come back statewide sooner rather than later, it is going to be because Democratic County and Precinct chairs, in every part of the state have the resources to help drive turnout in their areas. Travis County has gotten on top of the game, but there are 253 other counties that need help.

I am proud to say that some of the County Parties are taking matters into their own hands and expanding on past success, originating from my home region of Gillespie County and company in Senate District 24 (where I was elected out of as the youngest Democratic National Convention Delegate last summer).

Headed by Gillespie County Chair, George Keller, the Chair of the Chairs of SD24, a united strategic planning process is underway, county by county, as the Hill County Coalition expands to more local parties. From the Burnet County Democrats newsletter....

Chairs from Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Kerr, Llano, and Llano counties met Thursday, January 6 along with other interested Democrats, to begin developing a strong and united grassroots voice to persuade the Texas Democratic Party to provide counties the resources they need in order to win elections in 2006 and beyond.

Dave Collins, a management consultant, leader of Vietnam Veterans for Kerry, and dedicated Democrat from Blanco, led a workshop on strategic planning to help develop that united voice.

He said “Democrats have been doing the same things over and over again and expecting different outcomes.” He said that to create different outcomes, we must change our assumptions, and then change what we are doing. For example, Democrats have long assumed (1) if out voter turn-out was increased, Democrats would win; and (2) if we raised more money, Democrats would win. As the last two general elections showed, increased spending and increased voter turnout does not guarantee Democratic victories.

Mr. Collins said that the way to change what we have been doing requires a plan and a plan requires the answers to the following: What are we trying to do? What is our situation? What are we going to do? What are our priorities? When are we going to do it? The answers to these questions will more than likely differ by county.

Once these questions have been answered, a plan must be written.

The group agreed that:
(1) each county will develop a written plan and submit it to George Keller, chair of Senate District 24 county Chairs, by March 15;

(2) counties will coordinate events and activities within Senate District 24. This avoids adjoining counties planning events on the same date. It also provides a forum to attract a wider range of speakers or entertainers when we can promise 300 to 400 at the event instead of 25. (This happened when three of the counties worked together to sponsor events last Fall.); and

(3) we will establish a speakers bureau to coordinate the resources and talents within our Senate District and make it available to other clubs on topics of particular interest to progressives and Democrats.

Mind you, these are some of the same rural Democrats and County Chairs that held an unofficial vote in favor of Howard Dean as DNC chair and urged our SDEC members to carry that message to Austin. I talked to many of these chair personally in my bid for National Delegate, and no, most of them were not rabid Deaniacs by any means. But they were committed Democrats who wanted to fulfill their duty to the Party and wanted to do their fare share in some of the reddest of red counties in Texas. Remember, if a Democrat is running for Governor, it doesn't matter where their votes from, be it 90% Democratic Austin Precincts that have been mined for all the votes they are capable of, or 23% Democratic precincts in the Hill Country which have been ignored for years.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DNC Polls Released Monday / Dean +1

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I attending our Democracy for Texas / Democracy for America House Party tonight to help raise some money for Dean's DNC Chair race and meetup with our Dean leaders in the state.

Of interest are the results of two polls that have been run in Texas regarding the DNC race. These numbers, while announced on the conference call, are not yet public (though I know them) and will become available to DNC members and the press on Monday. I have gained permission from those who ran the poll to publish the results right here on Burnt Orange Report on Monday. One of the polls should turn some heads for sure. Until then, anything you hear are just rumors and should not be given credibilty or passed around as tends to happen on the Internets.

Also, it appears that Dean has picked up the endorsement of yet another actual voting DNC member, Robert Bell, from Democrats Abroad Canada.

I have endorsed and will vote for Howard Dean for Chair of the Democratic National Committee because I believe he has the proven experience to manage the organization, the vision to successfully direct and enlarge our party, and the presence and personality to be a respected voice rebutting the Bush Administration.

I founded Democrats Abroad Canada in the late 1970's. I have been Treasurer and then Chair of Democrats Abroad Canada, Vice Chair of the Americas Region, and DNC Member representing the DPCA. I am in my second term as DNC Committeeman.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Taking Off from Work

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

So we needed a $40 million dollar event to let the world know that Bush will be our president for the next four years, just in case you missed it a couple months ago. Of course, this highly important activity which affects people's everyday lives here in Texas was more important than actually doing the business of the people of Texas, in Texas.

The legislature adjouned for 10 of their precious 140 days of session to attend today's partying. Education needs to be fixed. Health care needs to be revisited. By golly, even re-re-redistricting might rank a notch higher in importance. But no, it was time to go Party, leaving us with stories like this to be written instead...

On Inauguration Day, while hundreds of Texans who made the trip to Washington captured history, a little bit of Texas history was lost.

Images of state Rep. Rob Eissler’s family Christmas, his swearing-in on Jan. 11 in the Texas House of Representatives chamber, sights of a festive Washington before a Texas president’s swearing-in, all gone in the back of a cab.

“I don’t even know the name of the cab company,” Eissler, R-The Woodlands, said by cell phone today on the way to a hotel to watch the inauguration on television.

Eissler and his wife, Linda, and another couple from Eissler’s district were in a cab Wednesday on their way from their hotel to the Congressional Office Building. They were shuttling to the kind of meeting and greeting that is part of a $40 million week in D.C.

Oh boo hoo, cry me a river and get back to work.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Advice for New Bloggers

By Byron LaMasters

I just wrote an email to a new blogger asking for advice on how to build his traffic. I wrote him back with some suggestions for him, but they could just as easily be applied to any new or aspiring blogger out there, so I'll post it here (with a few modifications):

We've been at this blogging thing for almost two years now. Keeping and maintaining a blog regularly helps build traffic. It also helps to have a niche. Ours is Texas politics. My goal is to be one the best Texas political blogs. If your goal is to be the best blog anywhere, you'll fail. Find a niche and try to be the best at it.

The best way to get noticed is break a big story and get lots of linkage. That doesn't happen too often, so most of us have to resort to other methods. As for building traffic, the best way to get noticed is to post a lot (hopefully with your own thoughts, not just rehashing those of others), comment a lot on other blogs, and post on other people's posts, and ping them in trackbacks. People won't just magically come to you, but if you make yourself known on other blogs, you'll see some inquiring minds wander over. If they like the content, they'll stay and come back.

Finally, be patient. Lots of traffic doesn't come overnight. Don't blog because you want to make money off of it, or you want to be famous. Blog because you like blogging. There are much easier ways to make money or get famous. I average $150 / month through advertising now, but even after two years, that's still less than minimum wage if I divide that by the number of hours I spend blogging a month.

Anyway, best of luck.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:01 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Ooh! Pick me! I know the answer!

By Jim Dallas

Noticed on Air America's "Morning Sedition" blog:

U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) will tell us about his inauguration, and fill us in on how a Democrat got elected in the ultimate red state!

Maybe because he represents liberal urban precincts in Houston?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 06:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

FOX News Meltdown

By Byron LaMasters

Haha. This would be hilarious if it were not such a shame.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Worst. Movies. Ever.

By Jim Dallas

Kuff asks us how many bad movies I've seen.

The answer? Eight.Nine.

(Battlefield Earth, Spice World, The Master of Disguise, Street Fighter, Mr. Nanny, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Surf Ninjas, The Avengers)

I object to the inclusion of many of these items; Battlefield Earth was funny as hell, and Master of Disguise was too, in a sort of unintentional way.

"Am I not turtley enough for the turtle club?!?! Turtle, turtle, turtle!"

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Absorbent and yellow and porous

By Jim Dallas

Kos reminds us that no sponge is safe from intolerance.

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

Cracking Down on Beer?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

There will be a few bills filed this session dealing with Underage drinking in Texas, all to be opposed by the Beer Industry of course, but this time, I feel like I might have their backs.

The Statesman gives us a preview...

A House bill filed this week would require Texans who buy kegs of beer to fill out a state registration swearing they are 21 years old and promising not to serve the beer to minors...

Another bill would limit the amount of alcohol that may be served in any one drink by licensed retailers to a half-ounce of pure alcohol or the equivalent. A police investigation into Wagener's death confirmed that he had been served eight or nine 4-ounce shots of liquor in 30 to 45 minutes, roughly the amount of a one-liter bottle of liquor...

And then the what seems to be the silliest one...

A second Eissler bill would punish vendors who sell alcohol to people during the early morning hours of their 21st birthdays...

From what I have heard about this last bill, it would supposedly make it illegal for the vender or bar owner to sell alcohol to those who have just turned the legal age 21 on the first day. Meaning, you are gonna party like it's your birthday, but you can't until noon of that day, or if it is Sunday, then not until 8 pm. (Considering that as it is now, the day you turn 21, you can legally drink at 12:01 am of that day.

Sounds like a lot of paperwork and hassel to me that isn't going to cut down on drinking but simply delay it for half a day, frustrating businesses and young people.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

Via Matt Stoller, Terry McAuliffe puts it best:

Departing national party chairman Terry McAuliffe: "If I truly wanted to match Bush's accomplishments, I would max out my credit card, take out a second mortgage and steal my mother's Social Security. Instead, I'll just spend it with my five kids and, in the spirit of the second Bush administration, we're going to rent 'Titanic.'"

It's hard to top that. The only inauguration coverage I plan to watch is whatever The Daily Show puts together tonight. My friend Chris is attending some of the Inauguration protest activities. It's not something that I'd spend 16+ hours in the car to do, but to each his own. I'm sure that he'll have an interesting report on the trip when he returns to Florida.

There's not too much news out of Texas this week, because our state legislature is adjourned until next Monday. They've simply abdicated their responsibility to the voters of Texas by going to this weeklong party in Washington D.C. when Texans have such important issues such as the budget and school finance (and of course, the critical need to re-defend marriage from the all those gays). Why are all the Republican state legislators going on the lam? I just don't understand it. At least the Democrats went somewhere boring like Ardmore. I don't remember any high-dollar parties or lavish balls in Oklahoma.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:31 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

And an Update

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

To show my point from the previous entry, this post over at Blog for America came up while I was writing it. Stories from the Washington Post (front page of Section C), LA Weekly, and the Boston Globe.

I begin to wonder how long it will take for a repeat of Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean...

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

A New Perspective

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If there is one thing that I have noticed about this DNC chair race (and isn't it a wonderful thing that for the first time in about 15 years, we are having a true public debate over the operation of our Party) it is that there is one person driving the media coverage (outside of the blogosphere). If you haven’t noticed, every time Dean makes a move, whether it is his formal announcement or endorsements he drives a media response from the press. It makes the front page of Yahoo and CNN, it gets discussed on cable news, and of course gets batted about on the Net. And in these stories, there is a choice quote or two from (usually) Frost (and earlier Roemer) and the obligatory listing of "also running are..."

My point in this is not to yammer on about Dean, it is to point out that aside from an occasional story on Frost now, and less so Rosenberg or Fowler, the media won't lead or write a story about the DNC race. And even if they do, what do you find? The second quote in the story is almost always from Dean.

The media knows what sells. The horserace sells, but even better, a horserace with a well known figure outside of the Democratic Party sells even better. Now, just for a minute, I would like to ask you to picture all of the DNC Chair Candidates as actual Chairs. In each case, they release a press statement or get scheduled for an interview or "crossfire" like event on cable. Of all the candidates, who do you think will get "message airtime"? Who will the media actually pay attention to? More importantly, who do you think average viewers are going to see and listen to, and then go "I remember that argument, because I know who is saying it and it sticks in my mind for longer than 3 minutes"?

You get my drift. Though it may not be a primary reason to support someone for DNC chair, there are other far more important issues, Dean does get attention because average people, even if they didn't agree with him in his Presidential bid, know who he is and will, if anything, give him credit for "changing the way politics is waged". Yes, there are some that think Dean and go "howling Vermont Liberal" but these are partisan Republicans who continue to push this line to discredit a threatening Democrat, Democrats supporting other candidates for Chairman, or people who have bought the story, don't believe it personally, but fear everyone else does. It reminds me of the "must vote for Kerry because he's supposed to be electable, even if I don't like him and don't know personally know swing voters that truly think he is more electable."

The DNC chair should be partisan, they should be bold, they should take the Party down the path of Reform, and they should make waves and get noticed. Having the right message does no good if you have no spokesperson to carry it that people will stop and listen to. We have these people in our Party. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton should continue to be loud in the Senate and carry the Democratic message there. Bill Richardson should keep speaking up as a Governor. Other leaders like Al Gore or most of the 2004 Democratic Primary field should speak up and not be afraid to offer their input. Having our Party's Operational Chief coordinate and also be a key speaker is an important factor, something that is not going to exist if someone like Leeland or Roemer or even Rosenberg or Fowler is the 'voice'.

I know it doesn't seem to be important, but step back from the echo chambers of the Internet for a minute, put yourself out in the fresh air where the TV is running all day while middle class families are putzing around the house doing chores, and tell me who they are going to stop and listen to. These are the busy citizens, casual voters, people that care about issues but are not set in partisan ways.

Reform will win the day, internal technical operations will be enacted, and our message will be reframed. But after all that, we still have to make sure that citizens notice us.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

"Tuff-on-drugs" GOP DA Faces Drug Charges

By Byron LaMasters

Our friends over at Panhandle Truth Squad have all the juicy details via the Pampa News.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Lyon Reportedly Considering Run For Governor

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

Sources close to former State Senator Ted Lyon (D-Mesquite) say he is considering a run for Texas Governor in 2006.

Lyon served four years in the Texas House and ten years in the Texas Senate until he was defeated by Florence Shapiro (R-Dallas) in the 1992 race for Senate District 2 during the redistricting debacle of the early 1990s.

Lyon, a Mesquite attorney, gained some measure of statewide name recognition as Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and the Interim Task Force on State and Local Drug Control, as well as serving as co-chair of Ann Richard's Punishment Standards Commission in the 1980s and 1990s. His firmm has handled a number of high-profile environmental including one relating to the contamination of Lake Tawakoni--a major source of water for the Metroplex--with the pollutant MTBE, and even worked with Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong recently.

Though Lyon has been out of the political arena for more than a decade, his resume from his days in the Legislature is still quite impressive. It includes "legislator of the year" awards from groups as diverse as the Texas Farmer's Union, CLEAT, Texas District and County Attorney's Association, Texas Association of Home Health Agencies, Sportsmen's Clubs of Texas, Sierra Club, Common Cause, and the Texas Catholic Conference.

Though Lyon clearly has the funds to start a campaign on his own--and a good amount of support in counties he once represented, he will clearly have to start early to gain name recognition statewide, especially in a field that could include former Texas Comptroller John Sharp, former candidate for governor Tony Sanchez, former Congressmen Chris Bell and Jim Turner, and more.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 06:59 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

The first step is admitting that you have a problem

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I guess all our fussing and feuding over accountability has sparked someone's interest, Harvard is hosting a conference called Blogging, Journalism & Credibility this weekend.

In order to promote the event, the organizers started a blog. There will be relatively few people actually there, but it is being Web cast live and will apparently be interactive. I'm going to check it out. This is something of interest to me and to I guess most of you as well. How do bloggers continue on their path to changing the world and not end up the whipping boys of the mainstream media? Find out this weekend.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 06:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Google-Bombing for the Blue Team

By Byron LaMasters

Social Security

Update: Well via BOP News we can elaborate further...

Social Security? Wow, that's weird! I was just thinking about Social Security, and how ignorant trolls like to pretend that the forecasts for Social Security in the 90's can somehow be whored out by those who opposed Social Security all along as an excuse to use Social Security as a giant, socialist subsidy for American equities markets, thus ending Social Security as we know it.

Poor Social Security. So many dishonest enemies, so few friends. Who will save Social Security from those who would destroy Social Security to save Social Security?

Just doing my part to help the blue team...

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

Context Context Context

By Andrew Dobbs

I just watched that Channel 11 (Dallas) story about how Frost wouldn't say that he was a Democrat and was sucking up to the GOP leadership. Looks pretty damning, particularly if you are willing to do anything to keep Martin Frost from winning.

But as Byron has noted, you have to keep it all in context- that portion of the ad shown was taken out of context. The ad wasn't there to show that Martin Frost loves the GOP, but rather that Pete Sessions is out of the mainstream of his own party.

What bill was Frost talking about? Was it some abortion ban bill? Was it some corporate giveaway? Was it gutting social security or some other respected and helpful program? No- it was a bill that made airline companies fortify the doors on airliner cockpits so that terrorists can't break in. Frost- along with virtually every Democrat and almost every Republican- voted for the bill while Pete Sessions joined only 8 other members of Congress in voting against the bill, which he feared was "too tight." That is what the ad shows before the part culled by Channel 11- Pete Sessions is an extremist out of touch with the mainstream, Martin Frost is willing to side even with political opponents when its for the good of the country. Sounds like a great ad and a great message.

DNC chair is a partisan position, and I am about as partisan as they come. But as the GOP moves further and further to the Right, we should be the party that envelopes the rest of the spectrum, until we have one mainstream party and one extremist party. We should make it clear that country comes before party, and that is what distinguishes us from Republicans. That Martin Frost joined every congressional Democrat and all but 9 Republicans in supporting a bill introduced by the President doesn't disqualify him, and that he pointed out his opponent's inability to lead doesn't disqualify him. Martin Frost will do what it takes to win, and he has proven himself many times over.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 01:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Cuellar Receives Cold Welcome from some in D.C.

By Byron LaMasters

The Austin American Statesman reports:

Few first-term representatives arrive on Capitol Hill carrying more political baggage than U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat with much to prove in the next two years.

Already viewed with suspicion for joining Republican Gov. Rick Perry's administration as secretary of state in 2000, when the Texas Republican Party was working hard to woo Hispanic voters, Cuellar defied Democratic leaders last year to challenge, and defeat, a popular four-term incumbent in Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio.

Cuellar emerged victorious in the primary after 419 additional ballots were discovered in two of his stronghold counties, erasing Rodriguez's 145-vote win — but only after two recounts, four court decisions and five months of controversy. He easily beat a Republican and a Libertarian in November.

It wasn't an ideal way to start a congressional career, and Cuellar's challenges didn't end with the defeat of Rodriguez.

In Texas, members of his own party are already working to unseat him from a district that stretches from Buda to the border with Mexico.

In Washington, Democrats say they will monitor Cuellar's votes before deciding how warmly to embrace a man who calls himself pro-gun, pro-free trade, anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. Several House Democrats, hearing rumors that Cuellar might switch parties, took the unusual step of asking him to confirm his party loyalty.

There's more, but you get the idea. Ciro Rodriguez was one of the best congressmen in Texas, and he lost because he took his reelection for granted, and Henry Cuellar worked his butt off. Cuellar still hasn't given many Democrats a reason to forgive him for being Rick Perry's Secretary of State, and for being a right-winger in a Democratic district. Look for Ciro Rodrieguez or State Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) to challenge Cuellar in the 2006 primary. Either would have my support.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:54 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Football metaphors!

By Jim Dallas

Ezra at Pandagon reminds us how to react to the blitz:

Democrats need to learn that this isn't a scored debate, the public isn't an attentive judge marking points and evaluating arguments. This game is about volume, about coverage, and about disruption. You want your message out and your opponent's intercepted. The way to do that is not, is never, to engage their charge and answer its particulars. If their push hurts you, the answer is to punch back with something that hurts them worse and titillates reporters more. Because so long as they set the terms of the debate, we'll never win. So long as we keep ADD'ing away from our arguments and chasing their every talking point, we'll never win. Until we begin ignoring their attacks and focusing on our own, nothing we throw will ever stick. And when they blitz us, the answer is always to rush forward at them, not step back and weigh the merits of their offense.

Here are some other reminders (feel free to add others) --

For centrist Democrats! There's only so many time you can option right before you get sacked with a big loss.

For grassroots Democrats! Ground yardage is often the hardest to pick up; it is earned, not given.

For Democrats generally! Always be watching for the fake punt and the misdirection.

For advertisers! You can't get yards through-the-air if nobody's open.

For the risk averse! The team that wins is the team that succeeds in moving the ball.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:35 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Slap! I'm Joe Biden beyotch!

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I watched some of the confirmation hearing for Condi Rice today on C-SPAN. It was day 2 and it seemed to me that the questions were a little more pointed. It probably had something to do with the good press Sen. Boxer got for her words yesterday.

But, Sen. Joe Biden (who I'm totally convinced is running in 2008) got the most meorable line in today. He said (and this is from memory because it is damned near impossible to find a transcript on the Web) "and don't listen to Rumsfeld, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about." Or something to that effect.

Could it be that our elected Democrats are finally getting their backbones in the mail?

Of course, he followed that up by admitting that he was going to go vote yea for her confirmation in five minutes, so the answer is probably no. But it made me wonder if maybe senators should vote no for the confirmation of people they don't think would do a good job in the position they've been nominated for. I know there's "politics" involved, I'm not blind to the fact that voting nay could get them in trouble later on. But I would rally like to see some of the Democrats just be the opposition. Vote against the Republicans. Do something. Don't get get in lines like that and them capitulate because you think it is inevitable that she's going to be confirmed.

Biden's office, and indeed lot's of people, has serious concerns with her assertion that 120,000 Iraqis have been trained to fight the insurgency there. He's stated that the number is closer to just 4,000, which is a big difference. If she's going to be the Secretary of State, she's got to know this and be more forthcoming with the American people about our chief foreign entanglement.

But that didn't happen and Rice has been approved by the foreign relations committee.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

Posted by Nathan Nance at 11:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Netroots activism in gear

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

BlogPAC has joined the cause to fight against the Social Security "reform" push. There is no crisis is a Web site set up to inform people about fundamental untruths in what the administration is claiming in its rhetoric on Social Security. They go so far as to even call it "fraud."

From what I've seen, it's a good site and its got lots of blogger support from guys at dKos and MyDD. And I like that it is netroots initiative that isn't reliant on AARP or other groups to get our message out for us. Lord knows relying on other people, like the chairman of the DCCC to get a message out against privatization is a losing proposition.

So check it out and support it if you can.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spector in the Race for HD121

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Former State Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector has officially entered the race for the now-vacant HD121 seat in San Antonio. The race includes two former office holders — Democract Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector and former Democrat (but running as an Independent) Rep. Paul Silber. They will be joined on the ballot by Republican businessmen Joe Straus III and Republican Glen S. Starnes.

Hat tip to Greg, who makes a comment I agree with when he gives kudos to whomever got her into the race (Charles Soechting?). Maybe Andrew can help us out on that one.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I heart Jib Jab

By Byron LaMasters

You gotta love it. It's the Bush second term. Among the idiocy of the Bush administration, it's nice to be able to laugh once in awhile.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On Kos, Jerome Etc.

By Andrew Dobbs

If anyone ever doubts that Kos and Jerome are loved, check out the defenses poured out on the posts I put up about their blogs. Even though I was the guy "attacking" them, I was bending over backwards to be nice to them. And don't get me started on their defenders- damn if they aren't passionate about the men. You gotta respect a man that can drum up that kind of support. And I do.

What I said was probably written in a bit too much haste. My point I think is valid- even if there could be the appearance that Frost's abandoning Kos' website last year could influence Kos' coverage, he should say something. Its not about whether Kos is a good guy or a bad guy- I know he is a very good guy. It is whether not-so-good guys on the other side will use this to discredit and harm us and our cause. I'm not attacking Kos, I'm trying to look out for him.

But I can understand why you all would interpret that differently, and I respect that. I apologize if I offended anyone, particularly Kos and Jerome. It wasn't intended as a cheap shot and that it was interpreted as such is distressing.

But I will say this- Kos is dead wrong about Frost. Martin Frost has done far more for this party and this country than any other person in this race. 14 congressmen, millions of dollars for state campaigns, revitalizing Dallas County Democrats, grassroots organizing all over this country. He may not have "net roots" cred, but this guy isn't the kind to throw a bunch of money at media consultants and kick back and expect the votes to roll in. He has provided for the training of thousands of door to door, grassroots activists. If you want a party that is democratic as well as Democratic, Martin Frost is your man.

Kos and others have gone to town on these TV ads, but they don't demonstrate Frost's devotion to the GOP- they show his ability to run a campaign. First rule is to know your audience, know their values, know their interests and use this to craft a message that will convince them to support you. He knew that most of those people were Bush supporters, most of them because he was tough on "homeland security," and that these people weren't interested in some liberal type. So he spoke to them, and guess what? In a 65% GOP district he got 47% of the vote. That means that almost 1 out of ever 5 solid Republican voters crossed over for Frost. If that happened nationally, we would win in a landslide every time. He has the skill to win, and he's the right man for the job.

Martin Frost is a fine man- one who has demonstrated time and again his devotion to this party, this country and our cause- people-driven government. I will not hesitate to jump to his defense, and today I probably should have paused for at least a moment.

I hope you will all keep visiting, all the other guys are nice people. I apologize again if I hurt Kos or Jerome- that was not my intent. Everyone have a great week, and let's try and put this behind us.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:21 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

6 More Votes for Dean

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Blog for America reports today (in addition to Florida) 6 state party leaders from 5 more states have announced their support for Dean for DNC.

Florida: Chairman Scott Maddox, Vice-Chairwoman Diane Glasser
Mississippi: Chairman Wayne Dowdy
Oklahoma: Chairman Jay Parmley, Vice-Chairwoman Debbe Leftwich
Utah: Vice-Chairwoman Nancy Woodside
Washington: Chairman Paul Berendt
Vermont: Chairman Peter Mallary

So much for the Chair's Association giving a united endorsement. I went over the full list of DNC members by state and have noted them below for these states. It's no sure bet that fellow DNC members will follow their state chair, but this is the world of Party Politics we are talking about and they do have influence. These numbers do not reflect Members at Large and other positions, just the average State by State elected DNC members.

Florida: 11
Mississippi: 4
Oklahoma: 4
Utah: 4
Washington: 6
Vermont: 4

That is 33 possible total votes of which we know 17 officially have endorsed Dean. And here is the thing, these endorsements matter because these people actually vote and are closest to the other voting members. You can have as many Congresspeople and Governors as you like (and it doesn't hurt) but as far as direct impact, well, you get my drift.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Oppose Frost for DNC?

By Byron LaMasters

Fine. Just do it for the right reasons.

Some examples of good reasons to oppose Frost?

Off The Kuff, Greg's Opinion, Southpaw, The Scarlet Left and TAPPED are a few examples. So are some of the thoughts posted by Karl-Thomas and Nate on this blog.

Martin Frost has some weaknesses that I'm uneasy about. As I've said before, Frost is not the most tech/net-savvy guy around. He's not the most reform-oriented candidate in the field, but overall on the balance, he's one of my top choices. I've said all this before.

I'm no Martin Frost hack, but I do think that the many of the blogosphere attacks against him have not been intellectually honest. Throwing up a picture of Frost and a Republican doesn't prove that Frost endorsed a Republican. It doesn't even prove that he's a conservative or a Blue Dog. It only proves that he was fighting like hell to win a seat where he should have gotten 35% of the vote.

It especially annoys me that the same people that attacked Tim Roemer for not standing up and fighting in 2002 when he would have had a tough reelection are attacking Martin Frost for doing exactly what Tim Roemer did not do - standing up and fighting the race of his life.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Strayhorn not Invited to State GOP Fundraiser

By Byron LaMasters

Very interesting:

A letter inviting Republican supporters to a state party fund-raiser next month promises it will be "an especially memorable occasion."

It has already made an impact with GOP Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the only non-judicial statewide elected official outside of Washington who’s not part of the invitation letter.

Her spokesman, Mark Sanders, said she "was not invited in any shape, form or fashion to sign this invitation. Furthermore, she was not even invited to attend the event."

There's more...

Sanders lashed out at Gov. Rick Perry, who is being honored at the "Fourth Biennial Banquet" along with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland. Strayhorn, a frequent critic of the governor, is mulling a Perry challenge.

"The governor is doing the party a disservice by excluding the top vote-getter in the state last time and one tough grandma who has proved herself to be one phenomenal fund-raiser. His fear of her presence is a truly self-absorbed disservice to the electorate," Sanders said.

Perry campaign director Luis Saenz said, "This is not our fund-raiser. This is a Republican Party fund-raiser, and the Texas Republican Party knows how to best raise money from true Republicans."

State GOP spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester also noted it was a party fund-raiser.

"I’m not going to comment on this," Sylvester said. "Our fund-raising team has a variety of strategies. I’m not going to try to second-guess them."

The invitation letter is addressed "Dear Friends" and is signed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Railroad Commission members Victor Carrillo, Michael Williams and Charles Matthews.

I guess that Carole Keeton Strayhorn isn't a true Republican.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

And there's more attacks on Frost...

By Byron LaMasters

Now it's these ads. Martin Frost ran ads at the time attacking Pete Sessions for being an extremist. Pete Sessions was one of nine congressmen who voted against supporting reinforced cockpit doors, putting air marshalls on our airplanes, toughening security in our airports and ensuring that our baggage screeners are well-qualified professionals.

Frost did join George W. Bush, Kay Bailey Hutchison, John McCain and Dennis Hastert in supporting this legislation, but he also joined just about every member of the Democratic caucus in supporting it as well. Just about everyone supported the legislation... except Pete Sessions.

I did a post on this in October. Here's part of the Frost press release on the ad:

"Too Tight"

Our second ad this week reinforces the advertisement we aired last week highlighting Sessions' vote against President Bush's major air safety plan to fight terrorism. 510 Members of Congress voted to support the anti-terrorism plan, while Sessions joined a band of only nine dangerously out of touch Members who voted "no". What's more, the ad shows Sessions himself explaining his vote by saying security at our airports is "too tight" because people like "even Senator Ted Kennedy" might be delayed.

"Stronger vs Weaker Homeland Security"

Virtually every American knows that everything changed on September 11, 2001.... but not Pete Sessions. While Republicans, Democrats and Independents came together to fight terrorism and protect America, Pete Sessions continued following an overtly partisan and dangerous ideology that puts raw politics ahead of American security. It's an attitude President Bush has described as a "September 10th mentality." Throughout his career, Congressman Frost has been willing to stand up to the leaders of either party in order to make sure that our Nation's defenses remain the strongest in the World and that the safety of those he represents comes before any partisan or ideological pursuits. Sessions' voting record and his own words demonstrate clearly that he can't be trusted to keep America safe.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:39 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Knocking down the straw man

By Nathan Nance

Guest post from Nate Nance

One of the central arguments for privatization of Social Security is that we will begin drawing more money out of the system than we put in in 2018. It's mostly to do with the baby boomer generation retiring and there are more of them than there are of us. To combat this problem, the bipartisan commission led by Alan Greenspan raised the payroll tax more than was needed to cover expenses so that we would run surpluses in the system and buy government bonds to stash away in the Trust Fund for the rainy days in 2018 and beyond.

But some people claim that because the government bought the government bonds, it means that the Trust Fund is just filled with IOUs from one part of the federal government to another, making it meaningless. So the system will be in deficit starting in 2018. There's no money. We need privatization now!

First of all, privatization doesn't really address the problem of not having enough money in the system. In fact, it means even more money will be out of the system, so how this is a "fix" I've never understood. It's the benefit cuts that they plan to make to the system are what will "solve" the iceberg yada yada. The private accounts and fancy rhetoric about an "ownership society" are really just fancy window dressing for the really big cuts in benefits.

But it doesn't really matter because they are wrong about the trust fund.

The reason that I know this is because of the Constitution. That's right. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment says "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." Roughly meaning that debts incurred by the federal government (i.e. to the payment of the bond) shall not be questioned because we are obliged to pay it (in other words we have to pay our debts). Those bonds are promisories from the federal government to be paid back with interest at a later time. The government has to pay it's debts, so the bonds will be paid, even if we have to pull money out of the general fund and put it in the trust fund. The word promisory should be familiar as well, since our currency is a promisory note, for the government to pay you back at a later time.

And the bonds must be good (probably because there is almost no risk of them not being paid, short of a revolution), so good, in fact, that President Bush is heavily invested in them right now.

Once we realize that the trust fund will indeed be paid and actually exists, the 2018 date becomes essentially meaningless in the Social Security discussion. Now, how we get the money into the general fund to pay off the bonds is a seperate issue, and one I'll be happy to discuss with anyone who emails me.

A friend of mine, who supports privatization, had a small argument just yesterday over the next point. She left before I got to give her the coup de grace, but her point was that private accounts were a higher return on investment than the government run pension plan. I pointed out the CBO's projections that traditional Social Security will pay more than private accounts coupled with price-indexing, even assuming a pretty low 1.9% average growth over the next 75 years.

Now, this person is a smart woman I've known for many years. She even has a business degree. But I was shocked as she actually asked "but what if we don't have that high growth?" That's when she left and by the time I was over my shock at being asked such a ridiculous question, I couldn't answer her. If we average less than 2% growth over the next 75 years, we have much bigger problems than Social Security. If there is not enough money going into Social Security, and SS comes from taxes on wages that means... no wages. Good job class. That kind of economic growth would be very bad, and if you remember the last time we had similar growth was the recession in 2001, and the stock market didn't exactly have a high return on investment then did it?

These are just a few of the things that we're going to have to understand as the debate over Social security heats up. I'm trying to do my part to help us all understand what this debate is actually over and what it may mean.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

UPDATE: It took me three hours and several dozen phone calls about high school basketball to write this, so if anything is amiss or you don't understand what I meant, feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will try to clarify it. Thanks.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 09:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Andrew's Comments Earlier today

By Byron LaMasters

I called Andrew earlier this evening and told him that I thought that this post was inappropriate. I timedated it down a few slots, because I felt that it distracted from several other posts this evening. Every writer of this blog is free to express their own opinion, but at times we disagree. I think that Andrew's criticism of Kos and Jerome was a cheap shot and unfair. Andrew's not by a computer at the moment, but he might have some comments later on this evening.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:14 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Another Attack on Frost

By Byron LaMasters

Kos goes on the attack again. Kos attacks Frost for running a television ad where he mentioned that the Dallas Morning News endorsed both Frost and George W. Bush. I don't particularly see a problem with the ad. Frost did not endorse Bush. Frost did have to appeal to Independent and moderate Republican voters though. The rest is copy+pasted from comments on Kos:

The Dallas Morning News is one of the most conservative newspapers in the country. They endorsed Barry Goldwater in 1964. I'm sure that they've endorsed every Republican nominee since then. They rarely endorse Democrats, and when they do, those endorsements are almost always token endorsements in noncompetitive races. Everyone in Dallas knows that. The fact that Frost won the DMN endorsement in a highly comptetive race was quite significant. When the DMN endorses a Democrat in a competetive race, it gives that Democrat instant creditability among Independent / Moderate Republican voters, because such an endorsement is so rare. Frost was smart to emphasize that.

Frost was running in a 60-65% GOP district that was going to support Bush by a large margin. So what did he do? He ran a campaign that played up his moderate credentials while trying to paint his opponent as an extremist. It's not what a lot of us Democrats would like to see, but that's the race that Frost had to run in that district.

Finally, if you think that Frost's ads hurt Democrats in the Dallas area, just take a look at the results. Frost's media campaign spent $4 Million on putting up a Democratic message on the DFW airwaves. It didn't hurt Kerry. It didn't hurt local Democrats -- in fact, Frost's media campaign and GOTV opperation helped Dallas County Democrats to their most successful election in decades.

Dallas County Democrats elected a Hispanic, lesbian Sheriff, Lupe Valdez and three judges countywide (giving Democrats 4 judges countywide, Democrats won their first judical race in Dallas County in over a decade in 2002). Finally, John Kerry was not hurt by this ad. Even though Texas was not in play, Kerry lost Dallas County by only 10,000 votes, compared to Gore's loss of the county by 47,000 votes.

Bush/Cheney - GOP - 322,283 52.55%
Gore/Lieberman - Dem - 275,281 44.89%

Bush/Cheney - GOP - 346,246 50.32
Kerry/Edwards - DEM - 336,641 48.93

Anyway, there are legitimate reasons to oppose Martin Frost. He's not as reform oriented as someone like Dean or Rosenberg. He's not as tech/web savvy. Oppose Martin Frost for those reasons, but don't distort his record. He's a good Democrat.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Steny Hoyer Endorses Frost

By Byron LaMasters

Via Martin Frost Press Release:

WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) - the 2nd-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, chair of the DNC's Democratic Business Council, and a former Democratic leadership liaison to the Democratic National Committee - today endorsed former Congressman and former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Martin Frost to be the next DNC Chair.

"Martin Frost is one of the most successful political strategists and organizers in either Party because he is as innovative as he is pragmatic," Hoyer said. "He focuses on the bottom line - beating Republicans - and he challenges conventional wisdom and embraces new strategies to get it done. That's how he reinvented the DCCC after the debacle of 1994, leading Democrats to the historic victories that drove Newt Gingrich out of Congress. No one in this race can match his track record of successfully building and managing Democratic Party operations at all levels."

Frost and Hoyer served together in the House Democratic leadership, and worked together in the House of Representatives for more than two decades.

Frost said, "Steny Hoyer's support is so significant because he personally has seen me deliver for Democrats, and because he knows how to win without sacrificing our Party's principles."

Again, Hoyer's not a DNC member, but he certainly has some sway among the House Democratic Caucus and the Maryland delegation. Josh Marshall has some interesting thoughts on the endorsement.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

ITS ups UT Mail Storage!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Props to Chris Kennedy in Student Government for pushing to get UT to add more e-mail storage space. From 10MB to 100MB. We owe you our thanks for one of a few common sense bills to come out of Student Government this past year!

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rosenburg fighting for 3rd?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I like Simon Rosenburg. I met him in Atlanta and was impressed by his thoughts and ideas. If he wins the DNC race, I'll be happy. If he loses, I hope that he's brought on board anyways.

His latest e-mail sounds like something from someone still behind in the race. And while he is, I don't know if I'm supposed to get that impression...

Dear Karl-Thomas,

Our very strong week last week and good performances at the first two regional DNC meetings have put us in the upper tier of candidates to be the next DNC Chair.

"Dean, Frost and Rosenberg have been cited most often as front-runners among party leaders." ...

Last week our endorsements ran from Alaska to Alabama to New York to California, including leaders from all parts of the party and from across the country. Chris Heinz joined us from the Kerry world, former DNC Chair Joe Andrew from the Gore world, Mike McCurry and Christine Varney from the Clinton world and of course Joe Trippi joined us from the Dean campaign. Ron Brown's former Chief of Staff Rob Stein also came aboard. Ben Chandler, Artur Davis, Jonathan Miller and Michael Thurmond joined us from the South; Tony Knowles, Loretta Sanchez and Adam Smith from the West; Joe Andrew from the Midwest; and Adolpho Carrion and Jack Markell joined from the East. And this is only the beginning.

Endorsements do not elect a DNC chair, DNC votes do. Maybe in their respective states, it will make those DNC delegations look at Rosenberg. Unless they are calling members in support...

And as to the Hotline Poll, here is the campaign's Spin on it (even if they claim to No Spine Zone it)...

Finally, we learned a few things from a "poll" conducted by Hotline that ran last Friday. Stripping away the spin, the data shows that three-quarters of all DNC members are undecided; this race is wide open. Of the quarter that have a preference, those candidates with the best name ID -- unsurprisingly -- are doing the best during this early stage, yet they too have only a tiny fraction of the votes needed to win (as little as 15 percent). And despite my relative late entry into the race and the fact that the poll was conducted before all of last week's endorsements were unveiled, I am tied for third. The bottom line is: we are in a strong position to win this race.

It is true that the race may be open, but I don't know if anything is fundamentally changing as these DNC meeetings go on. People know Dean, old-partyline-steppers are slowly getting the drift that Frost is "the man" even if he doesn't excite, and the rest are left scrambling to put together a come from behind second/third choice strategy, because I'm sure they are seeing that they aren't going to come out ahead of Dean on the early ballot rounds.

Should be fun to watch as always, and maybe Hotline will throw us another poll conducted after the Regional Caucuses.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:30 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Statesman Blog on the Session

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have been very impressed by the Austin American Statesman's blog on the Texas Legislative session. Little odds and ends, insider bits and stories of the day to day happenings. I only wish we had as much access to write stories like this non-stop for BOR.

One interesting story to note...

Rep. Carlos Uresti, a Democrat from San Antonio who served in the Marines, offered the amendment... saying lawmakers should be required to do what they required all Texas children to do with a law passed last session: Pledge allegiance to the national and state flags.

But Uresti’s amendment didn’t pass before Rep. Terry Keel, the Republican from Austin who introduced the rules changes, objected...

“The working group felt like all of us are patriotic,” Keel said. “This, as a floor vote, is going to politicize it, because we already had a concern in the working group that we have wasted too much time with resolutions among other things. … Once we start adding to our daily pomp and circumstance other meritorious things such as this, that it is putting form over substance and slowing us down.”

Uresti defended his proposal.

“Saying the pledge of allegiance and the pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag takes a total of 20 seconds,” he said. “That’s not going to delay the proceedings of this House.”

Gasp! Can you imagine the attacks that would be coming from the Right if the Party labels had been reversed? It would be much ranting about those unpatriotic Liberals giving excuses and being un-American. They would question "form over substance" because as we all know, every school child looks forward to starting the day with Pledges and stands up tall and embraces them with overflowing pride. And since they don't view it as "going through the motions" they why shouldn't the Representatives of the People be held to the same standard. Such shame, such outrage! Damn America hating Liberal Democrats!

Or should that be Texas hating Conservative Republicans Rep. Keel? Since it's just all pomp and circumstance to you...

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 02:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Where Are the Disclaimers?

By Andrew Dobbs

Anyone who has been to MyDD or Daily Kos over the last couple of weeks have noticed that in their coverage of the DNC Chair race a couple of things stand out: a pretty intense support (even if left unstated) for Howard Dean and a pretty intense opposition to Martin Frost (stated loud and clear). This is their right, and though I disagree with them it doesn't make me think any less of them as bloggers. What does make me worry is their lack of disclosure on a couple of points.

First, that both of them are business partners in a consulting firm that counted Howard Dean as one of their clients, at least in the past. Once you've had financial ties to someone, you can't very well call yourself a journalist if you don't tag that onto every statement about the person- particularly when your statements appear contrived to make the person look good.

Secondly, that after Kos made some very foolish and hurtful remarks about private military contractors in Iraq (a position my Dad now holds- training Iraqi police commandos in Baghdad for DynCorp) Martin Frost withdrew his advertisements from Daily Kos. Once again, the guy essentially took money out of Kos' pocket and Kos never mentions this potential source of bias when he is reporting on the DNC Chair race.

This isn't meant to bash them or crib a page from the right wing talking points, but I think they should either give full disclosure or stop writing on this topic. As their coverage has been pretty good (if, as noted, a bit slanted towards one candidate) I would hope that they wouldn't give up reporting on the subject. But it is important that anyone who casually saunters onto their sites knows that this isn't just a couple of earnest progressives speaking their mind- they are two businessmen who are commenting upon former clients and unfriendly business associates.

If we ever want blogs to be taken seriously we have to live up to very high standards. When I talk about party matters I note (as I will note here) that I am an employee of the Texas Democratic Party and that nothing I say is meant to be representative of the views of the party, its staff, its chairmen, candidates, office holders, executive committee or contractors. Kos and Jerome should do the same, for the good of blogging.

I hope I didn't piss anyone off, but it needed to be said.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:09 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Looks like I'll have to start Defending Martin Frost....

By Byron LaMasters

I was going to do a post responding to Nate's post on Martin Frost, especially after anti-Frost posts have popped up on MyDD and Kos. I have to say that Kos is off the mark on this one. Frost is not a conservative Democrat, he's a moderate Democrat. Look at his lifetime voting record. I'll do some research, and hopefully I'll have time to respond to some of the charges against Frost in the next day or so.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:24 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Complete Summary: Donnie Fowler Conference Call

By Byron LaMasters

Donnie Fowler made a compelling case for DNC chair in the conference call today. Fowler’s strengths are clearly his understanding of grassroots organization and technology, and his commitment to reform. I’m still a little bit concerned how he would fare in the party spokesman role. Fowler clearly represents a new generation of leadership, and he definitely will have a seat at the table for years to come.

An interesting comparison came up in several of my conversations with friends today about Donnie Fowler. I don’t think that 37 is too young for a DNC Chair, but I just have a sense that Fowler is significantly less polished than someone like Simon Rosenberg – who is only about three years older than Fowler. It might just be my own biases, but I know I’m not the only one who’s thought this. Anyway, overall, Fowler’s an impressive guy. Take the jump for my full summary of the conference call.

Fowler first addressed the fact that we were celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and that King represented the values of the progressive movement in our country. Fowler noted that the liberal tradition in America has in many ways been one of radicals. Our founding fathers were radicals – suggesting that break allegiance to the British monarchy. The abolitionists, the Suffragettes, and the leaders of the Civil Rights movement were all radicals in their time, but today they are part of the liberal tradition that represents the best of America.

Fowler repeatedly touts his grassroots expertise. He likes to note that he was “grassroots before grassroots was cool”. He got his start in grassroots with Dick Gephardt, then Jesse Jackson in the 1988 presidential campaign. Fowler praises Terry McAuliffe as the right chair for a time when fundraising needed to be revamped. He credits McAuliffe and the netroots for the Democrats ability to nearly match Republicans in small donors this cycle. Now, Fowler says that his skill set matches the needs of the DNC. Those needs, Fowler notes, are rebuilding state parties and speaking to the grassroots.

First, Fowler thinks that we need to formulate a national message that speaks of our Democratic values – tearing down boundaries, opportunity, access, a fair shake, hard work, etc. Second, Fowler wants to ask strong state parties, and elected officials, especially those who have won in red states (i.e. Sen. Ken Salazar D-CO, Gov. Janet Napolitano D-AZ, Gov. Brian Schweitzer D-MT, etc) what works. Also, Fowler intends to bring the net/grassroots to the table, and ask how the DNC can embrace their issues. Finally, Fowler seeks to “build the pipeline” for communications with a two point approach. First, he wants to build a “message delivery system” to counter FOX News and right-wing talk radio. Second, Fowler thinks we should have training and resources for ground organizers, phone programs, mail, email, blogs, etc. Ultimately, the job of the DNC is to win elections, regain power and enact a progressive agenda.

Fowler took questions from everyone that wanted to ask one. He repeated the talking points that everyone is using on a “50 state strategy”. He expanded though to say that we should move organizing out of D.C., and that we should look to the successful organizers, consultants and state parties outside of D.C. to set benchmarks and find the best practices. Fowler also wants the DNC to show the netroots more respect, and bring the netroots into a decision-making role at the table, instead of just seeing the netroots as a source of money.

In another question, Fowler expanded upon why it was critical to moving organizing out of D.C. First, local organizers better understand local issues. Fowler noted that what the D.C. consultant / pundit class considered important – the Washington Post and Tim Russert, rarely reflected the concerns of those outside the beltway. When Fowler worked in Michigan this past cycle, he noted how Michigan had several unique issues such as Canadian garbage and a disproportionate number of Arab-American and Muslim voters that were best understood by local activists. Fowler used Spanish-language advertising to make another point. Simply hiring a translator and making an ad in Spanish isn’t enough. Before making a Spanish-language advertisement its critical to understand the composition of the local Hispanic population as Mexican-Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans and Cuban-Americans speak in somewhat different dialects.

When I had a chance to ask Fowler a question, I first thanked him for coming to the state democratic executive committee (SDEC) meeting in Austin last Monday. Most candidates probably skipped the event as Martin Frost will likely win most (if not all) of the Texas DNC delegate’s votes. However, Fowler spoke to the SDEC and asked to be considered as a second choice. It may not win him any votes on the first ballot, but if Frost falters early in the balloting for some reason, Donnie Fowler certainly won some brownie points with the Texas delegation, and would certainly receive strong consideration.

Before the conference call, I asked a few people what more they would like to know about Donnie Fowler. Since Donnie Fowler’s strength is his grassroots and work in the field, I decided that I’d ask him more about his communications skills. He admitted that he’s not as experienced as some others, and that his television appearances were more limited to state and local television, public radio, etc. However, Fowler pointed out that the next RNC Chair, Ken Mehlman is 38 – only a year older than him.

I also asked Fowler to elaborate on his proposal for a “message delivery system”. He repeated much of his previous points with more detail. His agenda focused on reaching out to local news as opposed to just the national news, regionalizing local and communication operations through forums and meetings and dramatically improving technology.

After some more questions, Fowler concluded that the DNC must change, and that he had the skill sets needed to implement the changes needed in 2005.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Florida DNC Delegation for Dean

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

First a short note to point out a post by Scott Goldstein on Blog for America, whom I was traveling with on his book tour over the winter break. He goes into more detail about out meeting in Birmingham concerning a homeless man and Martin Luther King, Jr.

And now, word that that all 11 DNC members of the Florida delgation have come out and endoresed Dean for DNC Chair. Some of the best quotes in the piece...

The Florida delegation to the Democratic National Committee has voted unanimously to endorse Howard Dean to be the party's next chairman, bucking an effort to orchestrate an endorsement of one candidate by all 50 state party leaders at the same time later this month.

The decision, announced yesterday by Scott Maddox, the Florida Democratic chairman, is a major lift for Dr. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, and it is a shift in a contest where most Democrats have been holding back from endorsing any candidate in the crowded field.


"The only knock against Howard Dean is that he's seen as too liberal," Mr. Maddox said. "I'm a gun-owning pickup-truck driver and I have a bulldog named Lockjaw. I am a Southern chairman of a Southern state, and I am perfectly comfortable with Howard Dean as D.N.C. chair."

If you like, the entire list of the 440 DNC members is available here. Texas has 12 members if I remember correctly. (PDF)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

#9 Texas 75, #6 Oklahoma State 61

By Byron LaMasters

It's always fun to beat anyone from Oklahoma. Go Horns!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Frost's race to lose?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post from Nate Nance

If you'll remember the Jan poll of the DNC members, the second choice of the respondents was Martin Frost. I'm sure that some of that sentiment involves an Anybody But Dean mentality, as well as taking into account the time Frost put in as head of the DCCC.

And I'm sure his position in that poll has everything to do with some posts about his recent run for re-election in a gerrymandered district against Pete Sessions.

The initial post and ensuing comments over at MyDD give a pretty good example of what I've been seeing in other blogs. The jist is that Frost shouldn't be DNC chair because during his campaign he repeatedly asserted that he supported President Bush and even made fun of some liberal Democrats. Some people are also arguing that the things we Democrats say we want to do won't get done by Frost and his staff. The emphasis on netroots will be the opposite of emphasis since this isn't a tech-savvy crowd. And the money that he raised as head of the DCCC was mostly corporate money; that's money that he can't get since McCain-Feingold is now in effect. Our greatest new source of revenue is the netroots, so see grievance two.

I'm going to do something a little bit unprecedented, I'm going to admit I don't know that much of the specifics of Frost's last campaign. I kept up-to-date on the sign scandal and some of their speeches, but I never saw any of their TV ads or campaign press releases. So I'm not going to begin to make any kind of value judgement on this. I don't know what Frost said, but I know he said it in a very Red State home to the Republican President who was running for re-election and he was in a Republican-heavy district. Sometimes you just gotta not commit political suicide. I can also see why that would be a very bad thing for the DNC chairman to have done.

So I 'm just here to get the ball rolling on the discussion. I'm actually soliciting other people's comments instead of giving my own. I know several of the other writers here feel strongly about Frost and support him, so this is their moment to step up and set us straight or rethink their support. Whichever. The point is to discuss it openly and rationally.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 09:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Everyone Loves Hillary

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

MyDD has a post over a recent rumor that has popped up on the net today about Hillary Clinton running in '08 for sure.

I've been pretty silent on the issue, but I seem to feel that the conventional wisdom is right in assuming that she wouldn't be able to win. I've never been really sure why I think that, but I do.

Chris' post basically is a takedown of the conventional wisdom, offering a new sort of view of the junior senator from New York than most of us would think of.

And I would also like it if we stopped being so hypocritical about demanding that our leadership fight hard against Republicans but grow squeamish at the thought of their most hated figure being our standard bearer. Quite frankly, I really like anyone who can piss off Republicans as much as Hillary does.

Chris isn't endorsing her candidacy just yet, though. He admits he doesn't want Hillary to be the nominee. After reading this, I felt like reassessing my views on the Clintons and I've come to the conclusion that I don't want her to be the nominee, either.

This isn't from conventional wisdom, either. As progressive as her senate voting record may be, she does represent that third way brand of politics. It seems to me that is going by the wayside as we younger Democrats begin moving up through the party with different ideas about how to do things. That will inevitably cause friction and presidential campaigns are already tough enough without a media fight between different groups within our party. I just don't see her getting broad-based support, even if it is just people buying into the conventional wisdom and not supporting her when they otherwise might.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My thoughts on Fowler to be posted tonight

By Byron LaMasters

I just got off the conference call with Donnie Fowler. Overall, I was quite impressed, but I have to run some errands, then it's Big Monday Basketball. Go Horns!

I have about six pages of notes from the conference call, so I'll post my thoughts on Donnie Fowler sometime tonight. For now, again, check out Annatopia.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 04:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Donnie Fowler Conference Call

By Byron LaMasters

I'm on it. Annatopia is liveblogging it. I'll have some thoughts when it's over.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roemer and the Big Tent

By Jim Dallas

Tim Roemer's fussing about litmus tests. Personally, I wish the focus was on Tim Roemer's votes on Bush's tax cuts, his position with a right-wing libertarian think-tank, etc. were taking priority over his position on abortion.

Our senate minority leader and many members of Congress are opposed to abortion-on-demand, which I'm perfectly fine with that. In fact I thought we were going to get some peace from the old pro-life canard that Democrats are excluding anti-choice people from power. If we're going to have litmus tests, how 'bout one that makes some sense, e.g. sticking with the New Deal consensus?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:48 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Justice Rose Spector Looking to Run in HD121

By Byron LaMasters

Andrew noted earlier that a high-profile Democrat was considering a run for the House seat being vacated by Elizabeth Ames Jones, who was appointed by Rick Perry to the Railroad Commission. Now, we hear that former State Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector is looking to make a run for the seat:

Former State Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector appears to be on the verge of jumping into a race for an open Texas House seat in San Antonio. So does former State Rep. George Pierce, who represented a neighboring district as both a Democrat and a Republican. So do others in a special election contest that has free-for-all potential in the wake of Elizabeth Ames Jones' last-minute decision to forego a third term in the House so she can take an appointment to the Texas Railroad Commission instead. [...]

Spector, one of the last Democrats to hold statewide office in Texas, is the second potential Democratic contestant for the special race in a district that is stacked with Republican voters. Melissa Kazen, the wife of a county court-at-law judge, is also weighing a possible bid in the special election for HD 121. [...]

Democratic strategists do not want more than one candidate in the special state House campaign. The Democrats' hopes will hinge on getting a candidate into a runoff and then trying to beat the top Republican vote-getter in a one-on-one match. That won't be easy - considering that almost 70 percent of the voters in HD 121 backed the GOP's statewide ticket in 2002. The district contains the old-money enclaves of Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills and Olmos Park - all Republican bastions - along with suburbs that have more GOP voters than Democrats in the northeast part of Bexar County.

But Democrats see Spector as a potential dream candidate for that particular district. She was a highly-respected Texas Supreme Court member for six years until falling victim to the Republican statewide avalanche in 1998. She was a state district judge for a dozen years before winning a seat on the state's highest court and a Bexar County court-at-law judge for five years before that. Spector, whose children attended Alamo Heights schools, fared better than all other Democratic statewide candidates except John Sharp and Paul Hobby when she lost to Republican Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill in the general election six years ago.

As Andrew noted last week, the deck is stacked against us in that district, but a creditable Democratic candidate could make things interesting:

In the Elizabeth Ames Jones affair, it is true that her district is largely Republican, and it will be an uphill battle one way or the other. But its very nature is encouraging several Republicans to run- all of whom will surely be sniping at one another- and at least one Democrat (whose name I can't talk about quite yet- I'll have it later this week at the latest) has enough creditability in the district to make a real run at it. The deck is stacked against us by GOP gerrymanderers, but let's just say that the district isn't a total wash for us. Keep your eyes on BOR for all your updates!

Rose Spector certainly would have creditability in the district, even though the district is over 60% Republican. Still, anything can happen in a low-turnout special election, and with a strong candidate, there is no reason why Democrats shouldn't throw some resources into the race. We'll know more after the filing deadline tomorrow afternoon, so stay tuned. Kuff and Vince have some thoughts on the topic as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Once bitten...

By Jim Dallas

Old Man Wythe says it's time to stop fighting. Agreed. Texas Democrats unite! The only thing you have to lose is... umm, well, what haven't we lost yet...

(OK, we can agree to lose the cabal of Beltway consultants -- but let's do it in a productive way. Jokes about incompetent Democratic party consultants are only surpassed in antiquity by the old "circular firing squad" joke. That probably tells you something about the way things go down in Dem circles, doesn't it?)

I still haven't met Greg; although I should have, had I gotten down to the HCDP's Sharpstown voter reg drive (with which Greg did a wonderful job) instead of doing the campus drive instead. I've always imagined though that he might wear a monocle and a top hat and enjoy shaking a walking stick at younger people, especially hippie-Deanies (but in a "it's for your own good" kind of way). Sort of like the Monopoly Guy or Scrooge McDuck. Not that there's anything wrong with that; after all, without Uncle Pennybags you can't pass go and collect $200.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DNC St. Louis

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Another on the ground report has popped up in this MyDD diary.

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

January 16, 2005

New job

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I just noticed on CNN/SI that Major Applewhite has been named the quarterbacks' coach at Syracuse today.

Applewhite is like my personal hero. I had a hard time believing that the NFL didn't want such an excellent quarterback and didn't take him the draft. I was also always upset that Chris Simms got more snaps than Applewhite did his senior year.

Anyway, I just thought I would update you all on the progress of the best quarterback ever at the University of texas.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:33 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

The "Declining Sovereignty" Of Professional Journalism

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

Via "Blogging, Journalism & Credibility," which I came across through this post by Atrios, some of Academia is hosting a conference entitled "Blogging, Journalism and Credibility," at which this paper by Jay Rosen of PressThink will be delivered.

Rather than re-hash much of the content, I just wanted to post a few interesting quotes from the paper I thought other bloggers and blog readers would enjoy.

Here they are:

And so we know they're [blogs] journalism-- sometimes. They're even capable, at times, and perhaps only in special circumstances, of beating Big Journalism at its own game. Schwartz said so. The tsunami story is the biggest humanitarian disaster ever in the lifetimes of most career journalists and the blogs were somehow right there with them.

The question now isn't whether blogs can be journalism. They can be, sometimes. It isn't whether bloggers "are" journalists. They apparently are, sometimes. We have to ask different questions now because events have moved the story forward. By "events" I mean things on the surface we can see, like the tsunami story, and things underneath that we have yet to discern.


They all sense it, what Tom Curley, the man who runs the Associated Press, called "a huge shift in the 'balance of power' in our world, from the content providers to the content consumers." If there is such a shift (and Curley didn't seem to be kidding) it means that professional journalism is no longer sovereign over territory it once easily controlled. Not sovereign doesn't mean you go away. It means your influence isn't singular anymore.

Orville Schell, dean of the University of California at Berkeley's journalism school and a conference particiapant, told Business Week recently: "The Roman Empire that was mass media is breaking up, and we are entering an almost-feudal period where there will be many more centers of power and influence."

When 90 percent of the op-ed style writing was done on actual op-ed pages, editorial page editors had sovereignty over that region of public diaogue. With blogging and the online space generally, that rule is gone. Opinion in reaction to the news can come from anywhere, and the bloggers are frequently better at it than the sleepy op-ed page ever was. Newspaper op-ed pages can still have influence; they can still be great. But they are not sovereign in their domain, and so their ideas, which assumed that, are under great pressure.

When Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and a figure in the news, wants to speak to fans, players or the community, he doesn't do it through the reporters who cover the Mavs. He puts the word out at his weblog. For the beat writers who cover the team this is a loss; Cuban hardly deals with them anymore. Here, however, the balance of power has shifted toward a figure in the news, once known as a source. (A weblog helped shift it.)

If my terms make sense, and professional journalism has entered a period of declining sovereignty in news, politics and the provision of facts to public debate, this does not have to mean declining influence or reputation. It does not mean that prospects for the public service press are suddenly dim. It does, however, mean that the old political contract between news providers and news consumers will give way to something different, founded on what Curley correctly called a new "balance of power."


Here is one advantage bloggers have in the struggle for reputation-- for trust. They are closer to the transaction where trust gets built up on the Web. There's a big difference between benefitting from a built-up asset, the St. Petersburg Times "brand," and building the asset from scratch. Bloggers are "building their reputations from the ground up," as Hiler said, and to do this they have to focus on users. They have to be in dialogue. The connection between what they do and whether they are trusted is much alive and apparent. In journalism that connection has been harder to find lately. Journalists don't know much about it. They do know their rules, though.


The price of professionalizing journalism was the de-voicing of the journalist. The price for having Big Media was the atomization of the audience, who in the broadcasting model were connected "up" to the center but not "across" to each other. Well, blogging is a re-voicing tool in journalism, and the Net's strengths in horizontal communication mean that audience atomization is being overcome.

In particular, I liked the comments about the "almost feudal period" of shifting influence and the "de-voicing" of the journalist.

And, for all bloggers, the discussion about building credibility is important. It's true that bloggers--unless they already come from the mainstream media or political power structure (or the power structure of whatever parts of society they blog about)--most often have to start from ground zero in terms of building credibility. I think that's done most often by breaking news first, getting the story right, with many little "exclusive," and especially when bits of well-connected "gossip," is reported and shortly thereafter comes to pass. Obviously, if the blogger was in on the gossip and trusted it well enough to report it and it comes to pass, that blogger has boosted their reputation as being "connected" and "credible."

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 03:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Broken clocks break speed record

By Jim Dallas

I use FireFox a lot when I'm using Windows (continuing my avoidant behavior to IE).

I found a blog comment linking to this Freep post which explains how to make Mozilla run a lot faster. And boy does it work!

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

From the DNC in St. Louis...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Some thoughts have been offered up in this Daily Kos diary.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Civilians and their darned blogs

By Jim Dallas

Brad DeLong points to this article about the positive role of bloggers and other citizen journalists.

I think the more appropriate term is "civilians," since obviously professional journalists are also citizens, whether they admit or not (unless they're big into civic journalism, but that's a different story), but that's just my opinion. And of course, in war, a civie can shoot you dead just as sure as any professional soldier (they're just not paid to do it).

Regardless, the article asks some big questions about how to integrate new and old media, which makes it worth reading.

Though I'd note that, in it's discussion about news aggregation, it fails to mention IndyMedia, which, despite it's radical tendencies, is (in my humble opinion), an overlooked model of structuring a medium.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Models for health care reform

By Jim Dallas

The Washington Monthly's cover story this month suggests the VHA as a model for health care reform.

I've got a better idea - the United Federation of Planets:

KIRK Doctors, doctors, this is highly unprofessional --

He gives the Doctor a swift, sure, Judo chop. Gillian and the nurses gasp...

Bones, muttering as he passes the device over Chekov.

Chemotherapy... fundoscopic examination... dealing with medievalism here!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Is Longman correct about the need for a technological revolution in medicine? Yes. Although sometimes he sounds like Dr. McCoy, ranting about the Dark Ages.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DNC Second Round

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

MyDD has some information on the second regional meeting for DNC members. I'm not sure how much new information policy wise will be coming out from candidates at this point, but I'd look to MyDD for horserace information.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crazy, reckless, and anti-social, in an honest sort of way.

By Jim Dallas

Mark Kleiman, The Poor Man, Atrios, are all flabbergasted at a recent column whereby Gregory Djerejian argues, in essence, that it would have been horribly polarizing for John Kerry to condemn torture (quoting world-famous mental contortionist Andrew Sullivan), but the fact that he didn't showed that he was a wuss and wasn't worth voting for.

Apparently after taking enough pot-shots, Dejerejian shot pack with a little post-script:

Spare me the flames that my position is absurd--ie, voting for the guy who presided over the torture mess--and against his opponent, simply for not condemning it more loudly. This episode was merely one of many (if a significant one for me) revelatory of Kerry's character. Here, in case you missed it then, is a piece on why I supported Bush contra the Massachusetts Senator.

And therein lies the key; Dejerejian knows that he's being non-sensical, but it doesn't matter because it's really about "character."

And that pretty much fits the profile. For example, "Democrats don't really mean it when they say they care about the poor" (despite, well, an occasionally decent track record) somehow justifies, for one relative, voting for the Republicans which loudly and proudly proclaim their indifference or outright antipathy towards social justice.

Now, say what you will about Kerry, but we already knew what the script was going to be before the campaign started. Because it's the same script that was applied to Gore, to Clinton, to Dukakis, and Mondale. That they're lilly-livered limousine liberals who don't believe in anything, are at best spineless debaucherers and at worst criminals.

If I ever go on Jeopardy! and Alec asks me, "this was the Republican party line about the Democratic candidate in [random year]," I know with certainty that the answer will be "what is 'he's an untrustworthy, flip-flopping extreme libertine?" (Now give me my "Cliches for $400, bee-yotch.")

See, it's not about results at all. If it were about results, a reasonable person would say, as the Poor Man does, that:

[T]he way to oppose torture is by opposing torture. That's how you do it. You don't do it by voting for the torturer, attacking the people who won't, and then saying "oh, but torture is bad." You don't do it by sitting above it all and denouncing those with more courage for their unsightly partisanship.

It really boils down to the buying into of crude stereotypes about liberals and Democrats (Kerry is a nominal member of the former group and the archetypal member of the latter), perpetuated by years of demonization and demagoguery (as well as an inability to fight back and creater a positive image by said liberals and Democrats). And now it's built up to the point that people are willing to put up with torture - even rewarding its architects! - just so long as they don't have to put up with those "lie-beral demon-crats." For a brief reminder of what I mean by torture, go here.

Now, can we agree that it's time to fight back? Do we really need any more examples of just how things have gotten out of hand?

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

Karl-Thomas just noted it, but 60.7% turnout in last November's election. That's really super, especially considering we still have one of the world's largest prison populations, and we don't have mandatory voting like some countries or even same-day registration (in almost all states, that is).

All Americans should pat themselves on the back for their commitment to democracy and patriotic fervor.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Michelman Won't Seek DNC Post

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Buried in this otherwise interesting article discussing the 60.7% national turnout in the 2004 election which also tells us...

The organization also found that Kerry ran behind his party's statewide candidates -- governors and senators -- who were up for election in 30 of 37 states. Bush fared much better, winning fewer votes than Republican candidates in just 16 of 37 states.

The report noted that although turnout reached new heights, more than 78 million Americans who were eligible to vote stayed home on Election Day. The group estimated that Bush won just 30.8 percent of the total eligible voters.

At the end of this story was the unrelated nugget..

Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, has decided not to enter the race to lead the Democratic National Committee and instead will lead, as she put it, an "effort to reassert the party's leadership on women's fundamental rights."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Radnofsky for Senate Online

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Our first Democratic Announced Official for an office statewide in 2006 has her web-opperation up. Looks like there will be a blog titled Rad-Note-Sky's. It seems fairly personal, but there are no comments and it is difficult to link to any particular post. I still think it's something that she's including it as part of the website, but it really does seem to be more "notes" than blog in nature at this point.

I like the design, but just a a comment, it really irritates me for some reason that the top graphic seems to be cut off. I keep wanting to scroll up to see the rest of it and can't. It's a over a year until the primaries, so plenty of time for that to change. *hint hint*

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 04:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My Thoughts On The Kos Non-Scandal

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

I hate to give any more bandwith to a non-story than it's already getting, but I felt I had a few important points to make on this particular issue--given that I've worked in the realm of both the "traditional" media and for politicians, and been a blogger.

JimD noted in his earlier post on this subject:

What's really at issue is whether employment should (ethically) bar bloggers from writing about their employers. This is really a matter of following procedural ethical norms, not one of substantive honesty.

Jim is correct. This is a personal ethics issue for the blogger, not something that should have any impact on a blogger's credibility in any way, shape or form.

And, as I believe blogs fall under the category of jornalistic media, ethics can be a complicated, slippery slope to navigate when it comes to issues like this.

I firmly believe Kos took all the necessary steps to stay on the right side of the long gray line that is journalistic ethics. He clearly pointed out his affiliation, as mentioned in earlier posts, and acted responsibly.

However, this entire situation brings to light a much more important point: that Bloggers have become and will remain part of the "mainstream" media, thus subject to the close inspection and scruitany of our counterparts. Further, this very "non-scandal" shows just how much credibility blogs have gained in the United States. Since Kos is obviously one of the leaders in the field, it's no surprise to me that he's in the spotlight right now. Though the Kos stuff is a "non-issue," the style of coverage is similar to what happened with the New York Times and Jayson Blair. The NYT is one of the nation's leading newspapers. Any hint of scandal in its hallowed halls is a huge story. Since Kos is so popular, credible and essentially what many other bloggers strive to be, he's become the focus of the media spotlight.

This also points out that there is--and should be--somewhat of a different standard of ethics for bloggers than for mainstream media when it comes to specific areas like conflict of interest.

No one at a major newspaper would likely be allowed to consult for a candidate or be on their payroll while writing for that publication.

However, in the blogsphere, many of us are or have been on candidate's payrolls, worked on campaigns as volunteers, or hold leadership positions within our party. That said, some of us may have an inherant bias going into specific stories which may color what we do. But, the same is true in journalism. Though most mainstream journalists aren't simeltaniously working in campaigns or holding party leadership posts, they all have their opinions and biases and--regardless of what is said about the "unbiased media," those biases often show through in journalists' work.

Does that make them less credible? In most cases, no. While it might make them "muckrakers," who needlessly go after people, agencies, etc., it doesn't make them less credible. Facts are facts, though sometimes the benefit to the public of those facts becoming part of a front page story is debateable.

During my tenure as editor of the Van Zandt News, Canton Herald, and Wills Point Chronicle in Van Zandt County, I was put in the spotlight on one occasion in particular for a story I did about a county commissioner.

The commissioner, Ricky LaPrade (R-Grand Saline), hired his father to do dozer work for Van Zandt County and submitted bills to the County Treasurer to have him paid for that work. Obviously, that's a no-no (it's called nepotism). The County Auditor refused to pay the bill, and sent him a strongly-worded letter about nepotism.

I got wind of this, and secured the documents in question. I wrote a story about this incident with comments from the Auditor, District Attorney, and other officials. However, the Commissioner in question never returned my calls.

At the next meeting of the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court, County Judge Jeff Fisher (R-Martins Mill)--now the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas--criticized me, my story, my ethics, and my truthfulness in open court at the conclusion of the meeting and without provocation. He--a sitting judge who hears criminal cases mind you--put his arm around the commissioner in question and proceeded to say he'd done nothing wrong and was innocent of my trumped up, muckraking charges.

At the time, I was sitting in the jury box in the county courtroom, where the press usually sat. I decided I'd had enough of this garbage, and stood up and asked Fisher if I could now respond in the same fashion since he'd taken about five minutes to slam me in open court. Stunned, he agreed, so I walked out of the jury box to the court table and sat at the mic reserved for those speaking to the court. I launched into a five-minute recitation of the facts, noted that they were all from public records, and (perhaps my biggest mistake) criticized Fisher for so openly and loudly criticixing me, proclaiming LaPrade innocent, and intimating that I had a hidden agenda in writing the story. Keep in mind that at this time I was not the party activist I am now because of my job at the newspaper. In fact, I don't think that, up to this point (sometime in 2001), I had attended a single meeting of the Democratic Party in this county.

The other local media had a field day with this story, and wrote about it on their front pages--including when Fisher followed me to the hall continuing our exchange, which, at that point, was really rather polite. I, on the other hand, wrote nothing of it. Since our papers were the "big dog," (wealthiest, highest circulation, most awards, etc.) they couldn't wait to smear this exchange on their front pages.

Overall, it had little impact on me, my job, or my credibility. I was seen as defending myself by the public. Oddly, one local journalist who published a monthly newspaper focusing only on politics, compared Fisher to Nixon and made me out to be the hero in his column.

However, from that point on, I was hated by Fisher loyalists and most of the local GOP-establishment--in spite of the fact that they got just as much good press as they got bad press, which is the same thing that happened with Democrats during my tenure.

The point is that, as a journalist, blogger, or whatever, when you express a strong opinion, present stirring facts, or even get a lot of attention for simply doing good work, you're going to come under tremendous fire--sometimes from all sides.

When I was a journalist, the wall of awards I'd earned (including the Nancy Monson Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the Texas Press Association) doesn't make any difference to the people who disagree with your or who are looking for a reason to bring you down. To those folks, credibility isn't the issue--you yourself are the issue.

As a blogger, on the other hand, I took a decidedly different appropach when I went to work for the Bob Glaze for State Representative Campaign as its Communications Director. I stopped blogging, period. I did't blog on my personal blog, Free State Standard, and I didn't contribute to the Political State Report, either. I stopped cold. Why? Not because I didn't want to promote my boss, that's for sure. In fact, if I had been blogging, I would have blogged on all of our opposition research and had a field day. Whould that have been credible? Yes, I had all the facts and sources to back it up. Would it have been considered a conflict of interest? Likely yes, by many, even if I stated I was working for Glaze. Would it have been useful? Without a doubt.

However, I stopped blogging for another reason entirely. I stopped blogging because I didn't want the campaign to be hurt or criticized for anything I published. I am, after all, quite opinionated, and tend to call things as I see them. And, most often, the GOP is the main source of my "wrath," so to speak. So, knowing this, I didn't want Glaze being painted as having hired a liberal member of the " liberal blogsphere" (or whatever) who had become a lightening rod for the campaign.

If I had to do it over again, however, I probably would have kept blogging during the campaign. For one thing, I'd have kept an online but private daily campaign journal. And I would have exposed Dr. Glaze's opponent for what he really is when it comes to his votes on the issues. Maybe it would have helped, maybe it wouldn't have helped. But, I think I would have felt better doing it.

The bottom line is that this entire Kos affair is a non-issue. It's pointless for the media to engage in it. But, it's something we should all come to expect. As we become the prefered source of news, opinion, and information for so many people, bloggers will begin to be attacked and will be put in the spotlight in ways we've never before thought about.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 03:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OMG, look. it's Halley's Comet!

By Jim Dallas

While we were getting all hot and bothered about bloggers, more of your tax dollars were diverted to political propaganda.

From the New York Times Via Atrios (who, lo, says the same thing, but it's worth repeating).

Over the objections of many of its own employees, the Social Security Administration is gearing up for a major effort to publicize the financial problems of Social Security and to convince the public that private accounts are needed as part of any solution. The agency's plans are set forth in internal documents, including a "tactical plan" for communications and marketing of the idea that Social Security faces dire financial problems requiring immediate action.

Social Security officials say the agency is carrying out its mission to educate the public, including more than 47 million beneficiaries, and to support President Bush's agenda.

"The system is broken, and promises are being made that Social Security cannot keep," Mr. Bush said in his Saturday radio address. He is expected to address the issue in his Inaugural Address. [Story, Page A20]

But agency employees have complained to Social Security officials that they are being conscripted into a political battle over the future of the program. They question the accuracy of recent statements by the agency, and they say that money from the Social Security trust fund should not be used for such advocacy.

"Trust fund dollars should not be used to promote a political agenda," said Dana C. Duggins, a vice president of the Social Security Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 50,000 of the agency's 64,000 workers and has opposed private accounts.

Deborah C. Fredericksen of Minneapolis, who has worked for the Social Security Administration for 31 years, said, "Many employees believe that the president and this agency are using scare tactics to promote private accounts."

I mean, really, it's pretty useless to debate ethics these days. What we're dealing with are people who will get you debating whether pornography is wrong while they're raping you.

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

The idiocy of kos-gate

By Jim Dallas

This is not going to be a well-linked, well-worded post because the point I will be making is a simple one, and doesn't need lots of URLs to be self-evident.

Anyone alleging that the Dean campaign had an interest in surrepitously "buying" Markos or Jerome as a sort of fifth-column doesn't understand how Democratic politics work.

Do I think that the hiring of two well-known, well-read bloggers was calculated to improve Dean's standing among bloggers and grassroots activists. Obviously! When you hire consultants, you are not just buying a service, but also a bundle of things like respect and the power to intimidate. That's why, given two consultants (or lawyers) with equal talent charging an equal fee, the one who is better-known and more "intimidating" to others will be hire. It makes a statement about your intentions, gives your candidate more leverage within certain "in-groups", and garnishes more free media coverage. These things, while intangibles, do have economic value. Would you hire Johnny Cochrane or a no-name defense attorney, if both wanted the same amount of money?

Moreover, this is why, for example, Kerry and Edwards fought over Bob Shrum (who, presidential record aside, does carry with him a certain prestige within consultant circles).

With that said, it only makes sense that there'd be a strong positive incentive for Kos and Jerome to - at every point - note their connection to the Dean campaign. And for the most part, that's what they did.

To me, it's self-evident that this was the Dean campaign's motive for hiring them, because that's what big-time campaigns do; they're not looking for propagandists, they're looking for people who are, shall we say, connected. And from what I've read, I think Zephyr's statements can be inferred to mean that.

What's really at issue is whether employment should (ethically) bar 1bloggers from writing about their employers. This is really a matter of following procedural ethical norms, not one of substantive honesty. Reading both kos and zonkette, I think that's the issue, and rather than addressing it I think Kos is wasting a lot of time and effort trying to fend off what he perceives as a huge attack on his credibility using the "vigorous arm-waving" technique. I'm almost - almost - upset about the fact that this is being treated as a highly-personal issue by Markos, particularly as it regards a lot of dissing of Zephyr (who I met once, and who I know Andrew thinks highly of).

That point, stemming from the ancient bromides of the most-holy church of journalistic objectivity, is a debatable one. But the fact that the MSM is spinning this as a "truth-gap," implying that people were being lied to, is completely fabricated. I dare anyone of sound mind and body to come forward and say, "I read DailyKOS a lot in the late fall of 2003 and early winter and I didn't know - had not one single clue - that Markos was working for the Dean campaign."

Moreover, as noted above, you can explain this entire situation away without resorting to insinuations about dishonesty; a simpler explanation is that hiring Kos was done to get somebody who knew what he was doing as well as somebody who had a relatively-high level of prestige. It's a simpler explanation because you don't have to assume people are lying to you (are they or aren't they? and did they know they were? etc.); rather, straightforward economic motives explain people's behavior.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What the Hell is a Slog?

By Byron LaMasters

Apparently, it's a "webless log". At least that's what Houston Chronicle is calling their commentary on blogging - which is on the web, and not a log (as there is just one post). This is a great follow-up to some of the comments on my post last night that the mainstream media is pretty much clueless and belittling when it comes to blogging.

Hat tip to Greg.

Update: Nate and Charles add some thoughts as well. We all seem to be in agreement on this one.

More: Check out Blog Houston and Is Full of Crap.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

The SCLM in Action Today

By Byron LaMasters

I was going ignore the whole "Howard Dean Paid Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas to write good things about him" non-story, because it's just that - a non-story that somehow found it's way into the Wall Street Journal this morning after this post by Zephyr Teachout. The so called liberal media, of course, jumped on this non-story, and made an even bigger non-story out of it. The story was in the San Francisco Chronicle a year ago, and Kos had a prominent disclaimer post when he began working for Dean, and displayed another disclaimer prominently on the first screen of the Daily Kos for the duration of his consulting work with the Dean campaign. I've been a regular reader of Kos since 2002, and you would have had to have been stupid or blind not to notice the disclaimer at the time. Kos and Jerome were not paid to write good things about Howard Dean - both of them were already supporters of Howard Dean, and were already writing positive posts about Dean. As for Jerome, he completely shut down his blog while he worked for Howard Dean.

In terms of ethics and blogging, I think that it's rather simple. Lots of bloggers work for candidates, elected officials, party organizations or committees, etc. There's nothing wrong with that. I think that proper ethics should be full disclosure. That's what we do here. Andrew works for the Texas Democratic Party, and he's mentioned that on numerous occasions. While he does not speak for the state party, his posts are possibly influenced somewhat by his job. There's nothing wrong with that as long as readers know it.

What really pissed me off about this whole non-story though, was how the mainstream media has taken off and run with it. Some have treated this similarly to Armstrong Williams being paid by the federal government. They're two completely different situations. Williams took $240,000 in taxpayer money to promote the Bush administration agenda without disclosing anything. Kos and Armstrong took a total of $12,000 ($3000 per month for four months) of a candidate's money to help the Dean Internet organization. I would say it was money well spent. Dean went from being nobody to the frontrunner largely because of his netroots internet organization. To grasp how utterly ridiculous the comparison of the Dean bloggers to the actions of Armstrong Williams, read Simon Rosenberg's thoughts and the nonpartisan Columbia Journalism Review.

Even worse is that the media is now engaging in outright lies. Bob Novak (of all people!) suggested that there was no disclosure (and Paul Begala hadn't done his research to correct him), and Bill O'Reilly claimed that "no one knew [that Dean had hired bloggers as consultants]" when it has been public record for over a year! Finally, O'Reilly said that the bloggers were paid $300,000 a month instead of $3,000, which was conveniently dubbed out in the reairing of the show. Talk Left has more.

Anyway, much of the lefty blogosphere is pissed off at Zephyr Teachout for bringing forward a story that had the potential to allow the right-wing media machine attempt to bring moral equivalence of the actions of Armstrong Williams to that of Kos and Jerome. It's annoying to see something that was news over a year ago get twisted and distorted, but I doubt that this non-story will have much of a shelf life. Methinks it'll be the Wall Street Journal authors that will look the silliest within a few days.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Blogroll Updates

By Byron LaMasters

I made major changes to the blogroll this afternoon for the first time in... well a long time. One of the very few drawbacks to using Bloglines (which is a great service that makes reading about 50 blogs per day a managable task) is that I'm not forced to update my blogroll as often. I still need to update my "Everyone Else" blogroll, but I the Texas Blogs have been updated. I deleted everything that I either a) no longer read, or b) has not been updated in over a month, and then added some new blogs notably Aaron Peña's blog, Houtopia and The Red State.

Let me know if I'm missing anything.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dean Leads, Frost Second in DNC Poll

By Byron LaMasters

The Hotline polled all of the DNC members, and 187 (42%) responded. Dean leads with 31% to 16% for Frost (everyone else in the low single digits with 40% undecided) for first choice. When first and second choices are combined, Dean goes up to 40% and Frost emerges with 27%. Fowler comes in at 11% with Webb and Rosenberg at 8% and Roemer at 6%.

What should we make of all this?

Roemer has no traction. Roemer polls behind most everyone. Duh... because Roemer is a DINO on key issues that define the Democratic Party. Everyone except the D.C. leadership gets that. Time for them to wake up...

I think that some people will be surprised with Frost's strong showing, but I'm not. Frost has near unanimous support of the Texas delegation, and has contacts in most every state from his days of running the DCCC. Right now, Frost appears best positioned to consolidate the vote of those looking for someone other than Howard Dean. The endorsement of former DNC Chair Bob Strauss certainly helps as well.

Howard Dean is in a strong position, but after Tim Roemer, Dean is the most polarizing candidate in the field (the poll for last choice for DNC had Roemer at 16% and Dean at 11%). Both Dean and Roemer have the largest percentage drop in support from first choice to second choice. I can easily imagine a scenario where Dean leads the first round or two of balloting, but ultimately loses as the field shrinks. Dean supporters are the loudest, but I think that many DNC members (40% of those polled, and probably an even higher percentage of those who did not respond to the Hotline survey) are holding their cards until someone else emerges.

As for the others - Fowler, Webb, Rosenberg, etc. One of them may emerge into the top tier. I think Rosenberg is best positioned to be a compromise candidate (for example, if Dean realizes that he can't win, Rosenberg could be a potential compromise candidate if Dean threw him his support). Everybody seems to like Donnie Fowler, but he's not many people's first choice. Wellington Webb may get African-American support early, but I doubt that his support will go much deeper than that. More importantly is where African-American support will go after Webb drops out. I could see it going to either Dean or Frost.

Make what you want of it all. More at MyDD.

Update: More details now at MyDD (again) and Political Wire.

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

The DeLay Rule in the Texas House

By Byron LaMasters

I figured that this would be proposed by someone:

Rep. Paul Moreno, D-El Paso, caused a hush to fall over the House chamber Thursday when he proposed a rule that would require the Texas speaker or a committee chairman who is indicted to step down from that leadership role.

Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick has had records subpoenaed as part of a Travis County grand jury investigation, which has indicted three people — but not Craddick — in connection with 2002 legislative election spending.

After fairly lengthy debate, Moreno withdrew the proposal.

It would have been nice if Moreno could have gotten a recorded vote out of the issue, but remember, this is the Texas legislature. Speaking of recorded votes, the state house voted to change the rules on recorded votes in a non-recorded voice vote. I'm with Greg on this. It's still a farce.

Also via the Statesman is news of the date set for the special election to fill the seat of Elizabeth Ames Jones. The filing deadline is January 18th, and the election will be February 5th.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Opiela's Out

By Andrew Dobbs

Not official yet, but I just got word that Eric Opiela will be dropping his challenge of Yvonne Gonzales-Toureilles' victory over him in their South Texas race for the State House.

2 Down, 1 to go!

Update: [Byron] The AP is now reporting this as well, as is the Quorum Report and The Red State.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DNC Pictures

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I can't believe that I have taken as long as I have to get all the pictures loaded from the DNC Atlanta meeting. If you want to page through four pages of pictures from the Sleepless Winter Book Tour, start here.

And here are some selected photos that I know you will love...

The Missing Fish

Florida Ballot Box (funny)

Dean and Georgia for Democracy

Karl-Thomas and Al Sharpton!

Karl-Thomas and Simon Rosenberg

Donnie Fowler and us bloggers

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

The Money Primary

By Byron LaMasters

Republicans won't go to the polls to nominate their candidate for governor for another 14 months, but that hasn't stopped anyone from raising money. The Austin American Statesman reports on the financial situation of the top three candidates:

Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said Thursday that she has $5.7 million in cash on hand for her next campaign. [...]

Perry, who also filed his report on Thursday, said he has $8 million in cash on hand for his re-election bid.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, also thought to be a contender for governor, has $6.7 million available to spend on a state or U.S. Senate campaign.

Yay! Texans will be treated to tens of millions of dollars in television ads of Republicans attacking Republicans by the end of the year.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More Gay Linguists Discharged From the Military

By Byron LaMasters

Last year the military confirmed that seven Arabic translators had been discharged from the U.S. military between 1998 and 2003. Today, that number has been revised to 26 - 20 Arabic and six Farsi translators (between 1998 and 2004). It's an outrage when the military is discharging gay linguists at a time when we have a shortage of such experts in the military. This is also the best arguement to drop "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Those who support "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" are putting homophobia ahead of our national security. It's quite simple, and it's a damn shame.

Update: More at Oliver Wilis and Suburban Guerilla.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Have no fear, Nate is here

By Nathan Nance

Guest post from Nate Nance

I just wrote a comment in Jim's post on redistricting in California. The basic gist was that we're the minority party. We have no power under the Republicans in Congress. What are we so afraid of?

The idea that somehow we can have some impact if we're nicer to the GOP, or if we have candidates that they can't possibly object to or if we reach out in a bipartisan manner, I think all of that is just pointless. We're the minority party, we should understand an accept it. But we don't have to kowtow to the Republicans because of it. Americans like an underdog story, that's us. We need partisanship.

I'm using kind of an interesting model for this idea. I'm using the Republicans themselves. The Newt Gingrich Revolution in 1993 should be our game plan on this. The GOP was in the minority, did they beg to be let into conference committees? No. They attacked attacked attacked. Relentlessly. We might decry it, but it is effective.

Kevin Drum has a post on this very thing where he references Bill Kristol from 1993:

Bill Kristol’s famous strategy memos [urged] Republicans to reject any and all health care proposals from the White House “sight unseen.”....Kristol penned these memos as head of the Project for a Republican Majority, launched in November 1993 to “frame a new Republicanism by challenging not just the particulars of big-government policies, but their very premises and purposes.”

Kristol warned of the political and ideological repercussions of a successfully passed health care bill — it would revive the Democrats’ reputation as “the generous protector of middle-class interests” and “relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation” — but he also promised that a successful and total defeat of Clinton’s plan, if handled in the correct way by the Republicans, would mark “a watershed in the resurgence of a newly bold and principled Republican politics.”

We've got to be willing to embrace crazy, bold new ideas. The old ones don't work. People can scream all they want that we'll lose elections, but I've got news for them. We're losing elections now. We are at the point that we can say or do anything and we can't go much lower. Somewhere out there is someone with a bright idea we can embrace that will make us win, though.

Whether it is non-partisan redistricting schemes or universal health care or whatever, we can't be the old party on this. Things have got to change in a big way or nothing is going to change. I don't know about you, but I would rather have a discussion about how to keep power 4 years from now. That's going to take a big change and the first step has to start right here, right now.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 10:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

State Representative and Blogger

By Byron LaMasters

Cool. State Representative Aaron Peña (D-Edinburg) has a blog. Peña wrote his first post on January 1, and has written five posts since then. Even better is that it looks like Peña actually writes the posts himself. Anyway, check out his blog here.

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

Don't Cry For Me California

By Jim Dallas

Pandagon's Ezra Klein says California shouldn't adopt common-sense redistricting reforms because it would be tantamount to "unilateral disarmament:"

Arnold's proposals for government reform have a lot of problems, but they're absolutely positive on the whole. Such a shame, them, that I can't support them. Ending partisan redistricting is the centerpiece of his package and, rightfully, the most crucial one. But so long as DeLay is redrawing Texas for the benefit of his party, I can't support redrawing California for the benefit of both. It's sad to oppose good reforms because your opponents are unethical, but it's necessary to refuse unilateral disarmament.

California's Democrats have a slight advantage under the current district (32 of the 52 districts). Assuming that in a neutral environment, Democrats have a roughly 55-60 percent to 40-45 advantage over Republicans (Kerry won California 54-45, though lost the national election by 3 percentage points; Democratic congressional candidates won 54 percent of the two party vote in 2002, which the Democrats lost nationally by 4 percentage points), completely "fair" redistricting would mean a loss of a couple of seats by Democrats (one lesson of the Texas redistricting debacle is that the statewide DPI/RPI is the definition of "fair").

So, yes, being fair would probably mean a minor victory for DeLay, in the short term.

But would that really be so bad? A number of California's House members are dinosaurs or worse. On the Republican side, goober-heads like Bill Thomas, Darrell Issa, etc. could end up vulnerable. On our side, we might finally be able to put some of our most-out-of-touch careerists out to pasture (both of the lame-o centrist variety and the moonbat-left variety).

But why should this solely dictate what we as Democrats support? If this reform were adopted nationally, Democrats stand a better shot at taking back Congress. And regardless which party wins, it's a sure bet that the American people will be better served, and that's the bottom line.

Americans look to California as a source of progressive reforms, and it's no coincidence that many ideas that start in the Golden State end up going national (sadly, this includes such nonsense as Prop 13 and term limits).

I think California should do what California has always done - serve as the gold-standard laboratory of democracy that Texas (usually) is not and cannot be.

Coupled with kos's prescription (also made earlier by Kuff) for Congressional reapportionment, writing the abolition of gerrymandering into a bill to renew the Voting Rights Act would greatly enhance our nation's democratic experiment. If Californians embrace Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan, it will help to drag the rest of the country along.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Speaking of the DNC Race...

By Byron LaMasters

Annatopia liveblogged the Blog PAC interview with Howard Dean.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why I don't support Dean for DNC

By Byron LaMasters

I've meant to write this post for awhile now, but I wanted to wait until I could better express my thoughts. I proudly join Karl-Thomas, and probably every writer for this blog as a "Reform Democrat". I also think that I can speak with some creditability as a member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party on most issues. Why have I not engaged in the general blogosphere euphoria over Howard Dean's campaign for DNC? It's really pretty simple. It's all about the record.

First, I should state my criteria for a DNC Chair. The chair must be a creditable spokesman for the Democratic Party on the core issues that define our party. That immediately eliminates Tim Roemer, who does not have creditability to be a spokesman for Democrats on the important issues of choice, a balanced budget and social security. Next, a Democratic chairman should be refom-minded. We cannot continue running elections as if it were still the twentieth century. We're in the twenty-first century. We need to throw out the consultants that suck and learn from the folks that actually win elections (and if you haven't read the Washington Monthly article yet, you should read it). A DNC Chair should understand how to use the Internet and know something about blogging. Finally, the DNC Chair should have a record of results. This final criterion is where I have a problem with Howard Dean.

It's not that I think that Howard Dean would be a bad DNC Chair. I think that he would do a good job as chair. He is clearly reform-oriented, and would probably steer the party in the right direction. Having said that, I think that we have better choices. Howard Dean brings some baggage. Ezra has more on the issue of Dean baggage that I tend to agree with. Dean has been unfairly pegged as a screaming liberal, but fair or not, that's the image that many Americans have of Howard Dean. That image is not one that I want for DNC Chair.

However, I have more substantial concerns about Howard Dean's candidacy as well. On the record of results, Howard Dean doesn't really have the profile I'm looking for. Yes, Howard Dean understands the Internet, knows how to raise money off the Internet, and has mobilized countless thousands of new people into politcs. That's great, and there are some good reasons for Dean to be DNC Chair. Kevin Drum's post outlines the best ones. But lets take a look at the results of Dean's fundraising and of the candidates which he endorsed in his "Dean's Dozens".

Dean raised tens of millions of dollars in his campaign for president, but he fell into the same consultant trap that has plauged many Democrats over the past few cycles. After New Hampshire, Dean had squandered all of his money, and had no backup plan in case he lost Iowa and New Hampshire. That's not a record of sucess.

Of the Dean's Dozen candidates, 33 won and 58 lost. Sure, that's a losing record, and I don't fault him for that. After all, whether you're a fan of Kos or not, Democrats ought to praise the Daily Kos for its work in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates for Congress, even if none of the Kos Dozen candidates won. As for Democracy for America, it's a great organization that has mobilized thousands of new people into politics and the Democratic Party, but what did Democracy for America actually do for the candidates that it endorsed? I can't speak for the entire organization, but looking at the Texas candidates endorsed by DFA - I don't really see what DFA did. DFA endorsed four Texas candidates: David Van Os for State Supreme Court, Katy Hubener for State Representative, Richard Morrison for Congress and May Walker for Harris County Constable. David Van Os never really had much of a chance, May Walker was going to win regardless, and Richard Morrison surely received a good deal of money from DFA, but he got money from many Internet sources, so big deal.

Where I really have some insight into the activities of DFA is with the Katy Hubener campaign. In a debriefing with some folks that worked for the campaign, they said that the DFA folks didn't really do too much for the campaign. DFA sent out an email endorsing Katy Hubener, but that was about it. A couple of hundred bucks came in, but that was all. That's no way to help candidates - send one email with a dozen candidates on it, asking for donations? The only way that the Katy Hubener campaign capitalized from the DFA endorsement was by looking up Texas donors to the Dean campaign and sending them a seperate fundraising letter. That raised several thousand dollars, but that was something that should have been done by DFA.

I tend to agree with Joe Trippi that there are others who better understand the climate of 21st century politics than Howard Dean. Trippi writes this in his endorsement of Simon Rosenberg:

If our party is to win in the 21st century, we have to have a strategist who knows how to practice 21st century politics. That means expanding participation, embracing technology, and building an apparatus that can counter the Republican machine. Simon Rosenberg was among the first in politics to acknowledge the power of the movement we built with Dean for America and he wasn’t afraid to speak up about how we were fundamentally changing politics. He knows that in the age of the Internet, our politics must be interactive and participatory to engage citizens. He knows the Internet is not just an ATM for candidates and parties, but a tool for bringing in millions of Americans who want to be a part of the political process. For Simon, building a new progressive politics for our time is not just lip service, it is a passion backed up by his record. I’m backing Simon for chair because I know I can work with him to help build a modern, winning Democratic party.

Simon Rosenberg and Martin Frost are my top two choices for DNC Chair. Why? Because they're the only two candidates in the race who actually have a record of success. Frost oversaw the DCCC efforts of unprecedented gains for the incumbent party in the sixth year of a presidential term. I'm a little bit biased to Frost as I'm a Democrat from Texas, and I know that Martin Frost understands first hand how important down ballot statewide and state representative races are in determining national politics. Had Democrats won the races for Comptroller and Lieutenant Governor in 1998, or had we won another state senate seat or two in 2002, re-redistring would never had happened. If the DNC had been there, things might have been different, but they weren't. Martin Frost wouldn't allow the DNC to make that mistake again. Like him or not, Martin Frost is a pit bull and a fighter. As for Simon Rosenberg - he has been an innovative leader for change in the party as Joe Trippi notes above. Read more about Simon Rosenberg - he's one of the folks that really gets it in terms of strategy and in understanding the net/grassroots.

I've been in touch with folks in both the Rosenberg and Frost campaigns, and I hope to have some more material from both campaigns in the near future. I won't be endorsing in this race, but Frost and Rosenberg are my top choices by far, because I believe that they are the candidates that have the best records of actually achieving results in the field.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:32 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Blogging the Session

By Byron LaMasters

Is the United Ways of Texas. Check it out, via Sarah.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

This makes me cry:

A number of other well-known and bright conservative judges, including Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit and Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit, are unlikely appointees in light of their libertarian bent and occasional departures from social conservative doctrine. Indeed, it seems likely -- given the sharp and close divide in today’s political world, in which one or two votes on the Court could made a significant difference in constitutional interpretation for years to come -- that the heavily ideological Bush administration will do everything it can to ensure that its nominees are clearly and consistently conservative. At the very least, it will seek to avoid a repeat of what it views as the catastrophic Republican appointment of Souter, who lacked a conservative “paper trail” and, subsequently, addressed cases with an open mind once he got the Court.


My humble experience in reading Judge Posner's opinions is, that he has a tendency to make even natural dissenters agree with him by using sweet pragmatic reason (which is why about every other assigned reading has a footnote to the effect of, "and Judge Posner said this, and lots of people agree with him"). That, of course, doesn't necessarily mean he's right, but sometimes it's the appearance that counts.

Judge Easterbrook (in Hill v. Gateway 2000, Inc., which I had to read for a class), at least, made me laugh.

I've heard good things about Kozinski.

Typical. We're gonna get stuck with a winger and the Supreme Court is going to drift on, bereft of any titanic legal minds, a mere pawn in the political chess between Washington extremists.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ye shall (not) know the Truth

By Jim Dallas

Jesus wept:

How did this happen? How did one of the most religious countries in the world become a nation of religious illiterates? Religious congregations are surely at fault. Churches and synagogues that once inculcated the "fourth R" are now telling the faithful stories "ripped from the headlines" rather than teaching them the Ten Commandments or parsing the Sermon on the Mount (which was delivered, as only one in three Americans can tell you, by Jesus). But most of the fault lies in our elementary and secondary schools.

In a majority opinion in a 1963 church-state case (Abington vs. Schempp), Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark wrote, "It might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion … and its relationship to the advance of civilization." If so, the education of nearly every public school student in the nation is woefully inadequate.

Because of misunderstandings about the 1st Amendment, religious studies are seldom taught in public schools. When they are, instruction typically begins only in high school and with teachers not trained in the subtle distinction between teaching religion (unconstitutional) and teaching about religion (essential).

Though state educational standards no longer ignore religion as they did a decade or so ago, coverage of religion in history and social science textbooks is spotty at best. According to Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., "It is as if we got freedom of religion in 1791 and then we were free from religion after that."

Now that the religious right has triumphed over the secular left, every politician seems determined to get religion. They're all asking "What Would Jesus Do?" — about the war in Iraq, gay marriage, poverty and Social Security. And though the ACLU may rage, it is not un-American to bring religious reasoning into our public debates. In fact, that has been happening ever since George Washington put his hand on a Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. What is un-American is to give those debates over to televangelists of either the secular or the religious variety, to absent ourselves from the discussion by ignorance.

Via Kevin Drum.

This isn't necessarily surprising. Religion for many Americans today is largely about experience and about personal identity.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 10:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What we need is some Aggies

By Jim Dallas

One of the mysteries of the last few years for me is why R.C. Slocum doesn't get more respect in football circles. He did a pretty good job at A&M, had a few rough years, and got canned. Nonetheless, he still sports a pretty good career record - 11 bowl games, a .721 win-loss percentage, etc.

In the ultra-competitive world of college football, though, everyone - particularly those everyones who are members of the 12th Man Foundation - is a critic. And after losing enough times to Texas, it was just inevitable that he'd lose his job.

In the "bizarro world" of Democratic politics, of course, things aren't so cut and dry. Amy Sullivan now joins the gaggle of grassroots gurus who are calling for the heads of the Consultant Class.

Why? Well let's just say that if Bob Shrum had R.C. Slocum's win-loss percentage (or alternatively, if Democrats had as much self-respect as the A&M alumnis), we'd be living in a much different country.

P.S. Of course the same principle (sortof) applies to Mackovic, but that was longer ago, and if I'm going to use a metaphor, it'll be one that's easier to remember.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 08:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gallegos Contest Dismissed

By Byron LaMasters

Most of the focus has been on the three state house contests (now two) by Republicans Talmadge Heflin and Eric Opieda. The contest by Jack Stick against Mark Strama was dropped last week. But there was a fourth contest as well - this one on the senate side. It was a frivolous challenge against Sen. Mario Gallegos (D-Houston) which was dismissed today:

The Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday dismissed an election challenge filed against state Sen. Mario Gallegos by a former opponent who is his former mistress.

The panel found that Susan Delgado "failed to state the grounds necessary to maintain an election contest" against the Houston Democrat. Committee members voted 9-0 to send the report to the full Senate for a vote.

Delgado had contended that Gallegos lived in the 11th District, although he represents the 6th District. Gallegos, who has represented the eastern Harris County district since 1995, was overwhelmingly re-elected in November.

Delgado, a former stripper who claimed that she had a 17-year affair with Gallegos, ran as a write-in candidate against him. She contended that Gallegos took a homestead tax exemption on a house outside of his district. But Gallegos is registered to vote at his mother's house within the 6th District and claims to live there.

So, what's that? Two down, two to go?

As for the Hubert Vo contest, I attended the rally for Vo on the south steps of the capitol yesterday, and I'll post some pictures when I have the chance. For the latest on the Vo challenge, read the posts of Off the Kuff and Greg's Opinion from yesterday.

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

Rathergate, a response

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

A commenter asked where was the BOR reaction to the Rathergate firings that happened this week in my Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson post. I can't speak for all teh writers here at Burnt Orange, but I can say this, I didn't really have much of an interest in it.

I know, what's wrong with me that I don't care about this huge story? Well, it's not that huge of a story. CBS wasn't ready to air the story because they were still in the dark about the memos origins and some people got fired for not doing their jobs. It has nothing to do with whether the memos were fake or not. We know Bush did not complete his time as he was supposed to in the Guard. The one eyewitness that has stepped forward to say he saw Bush doing drills in his "missing year" said he saw him in Texas when Bush says he was in Alabama training. The one piece of documentary evidence that proves he was in Alabama are dental X-Rays from January 1973, two months after he was suppossed to have reported back to Houston. The memos aren't even a key piece of the puzzle.

Like I said, not an important story. I believed that until I read this Newsweek piece by Howard Fineman. The point is, the old order, the mainstream media, is dying and the new order, the blogosphere, is set to take its place. But the establishment press won't go quietly and the "Blogger Nation" is still dependent upon the mainstream press. If either is to perpetuate, I think we'll see a new hybrid, a mix of the mainstream press and the bloggers. It would be mutually beneficial in a lot of ways, and I think we are already seeing that in the popularity of cable news shows (cable was the forerunner of the Internet) and the merging between cable and the blogosphere in blogs like Hardblogger and Bloggerman. Granted, the merging of those two would be a lot easier than say a newspaper and a blog, but it's an experiment that seems to work.

I say down with the old order, hello new news paradigm. I'll be watching and blogging the revolution, as always.

Guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On The "Surplus" and Jones

By Andrew Dobbs

Yesterday was a busy day in Texas politics with the commencement of the 79th legislative session, the announcement that we have a surplus (or maybe not) and the appointment of Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones (R-Alamo Heights) to fill a vacancy on the Texas Railroad Commission. A little more should be said about each. I have a good vantage point here at the State Party, and as always nothing I say should be interpreted as representing the positions of the State Party, its staff, contractors, Chairman or other officers.

Let's begin with the surplus. Perry is tooting his own horn claiming that we have more than $6 billion more in state coffers than this time 2 years ago. That much is true, but to keep our stripped down services running at the same level with population increases since 2003, we would need about $5.6 billion of that money- leaving us with a rather paltry $400 million surplus (less than 1% of the entire budget). Perry claims that he wants to overhaul Child Protective Services and school finance. CPS alone would devour the surplus, leaving nothing for schools or restoring some of the more draconian cuts in 2003- still requiring some tax reform. The San Antonio Express News editorial board called him out today for "misleading" Texans with his statements, and Carole Keeton Strayhorn claimed that our problem isn't a budget shortfall but a "leadership shortfall" on the part of the governor. So don't start getting excited yet- we don't have enough to do the things Perry et. al have already promised to do- new taxes or budget cuts are on the table.

And in the Elizabeth Ames Jones affair, it is true that her district is largely Republican and it will be an uphill battle one way or the other. But its very nature is encouraging several Republicans to run- all of whom will surely be sniping at one another- and at least one Democrat (whose name I can't talk about quite yet- I'll have it later this week at the latest) has enough credibility in the district to make a real run at it. The deck is stacked against us by GOP gerrymanderers, but let's just say that the district isn't a total wash for us. Keep your eyes on BOR for all your updates!

Just thought I should throw all of that out there, and like I said- keep up with Burnt Orange Report for all your Texas political news!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 12:33 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Who Is Elizabeth Ames Jones?

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

Am I the only one who's spent the last day or so asking "Who is Elizabeth Ames Jones?"

Maybe I am. Perhaps I am the only Texan who hadn't heard much of Ames Jones prior to her being mentioned as a Perry appointee to the Texas Railroad Commission. On the other hand, perhaps others are as curious as I am about who this seemingly anonomous member of the House Republican majority is and exactly why Rick Perry picked her for a spot on the RRC.

Sadly, I'm probably not the only one who is in the dark about Elizabeth Ames Jones. So, for the benefit of BOR readers and the politically inquisitive everywhere, I tried to do a little research on Mrs. Ames Jones.

Google turns up little. Her reports to the Texas Ethics Commission seem uneventful (unless I've missed something--anyone who personally knows the names of every energy lobbyist in Texas, feel free to browse the reports here), except for a donation back in 2000 from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry. However, she evidently maintains her own "527" group, and has given to Craddick's Stars Over Texas PAC ($1,500), and Paul Stevens campaign for Texas Supreme Court (two $500 contributions).

The biography on her House Web page notes some pretty obvious stuff and a few interesting but not terribly revealing tidbits.

First off, she's a sixth-generation Texan "born and raised in District 121." She was elected in 2000, and represnts northeastern Bexar County.

She's an Alamo Heights High School grad (if I recall, one of the more posh public high schools in Texas) and holds a journalism (???) degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Her husband is Will C. Jones, IV. I thought surely, with a name like that, he'd be officing within the oak paneled offices of one of Central Texas's more prestigious firms. Not so. He's a Commercial Escrow Officer for Stewart Title of San Antonio, (a division of a national company of the same name) according to the State Bar of Texas.

Evidently, he's dabbled in politics himself, having served as "a former City Councilman of a local community," according to his Stewart Title bio.

According to her House bio, Ames Jones' key legislative issues are "are education and health care reforms, as well as the promotion of economic development and responsible growth in her fast-growing district." Not sure where that fits in with service on the Railroad Commission, but OK.

More appropriate for RRC service include her stints on Appropriations and Committee on Energy Resources, for which she served as Chairman of Budget and Oversight during 2003. And, of importance for partisans, she was Vice Chair for the Texas House of Representatives Republican Caucus.

She's got some Texas Association of Business connections, too, having recieved a "Fighter for Free Enterprise" award from that group.

Thank God for the Texas Observer, though. TO provided a little more insight on Ames Jones, though not much.

Back in 2000, TO noted:

San Antonio Republican Bill Siebert offended his constituents by moonlighting as a lobbyist at City Hall. He lost by a 66-34 margin to Elizabeth Ames Jones, who questioned the ethics of a state rep lobbying before his hometown city council. Siebert said his legislative credentials in no way provided him with an advantage as a city hall lobbyist. He will have an opportunity to prove that next year.

Oddly enough, that same article mentions another San Antonio politician's first campaign: David Leibowitz, who was sworn in as a House member Tuesday. He lost a Democratic Primary race for Senate back in 2000.

Former Texas Observer writer Karen Olsson (who wrote one of my all-time favorite Texas Monthly articles) revealed a little more about Ames Jones when she named her "Homecoming Queen" of the Lege's "Class of 2001:"

A homemaker and freelance interior designer, Ames ousted former Republican Rep. Bill Siebert after questions were raised about his lobbying on behalf of private clients before the San Antonio City Council (a practice which is not illegal and which other current Representatives engage in, but it still smells bad). Jones resembles a slightly older Cameron Diaz, with just a touch of Cindy Brady thrown in, and she dresses way better than Siebert ever did. She says she’s a person who doesn’t take no for an answer. "I do my best to change things that I personally think are broken, sometimes to a fault. Maybe sometimes you shouldn’t send the meal back to the kitchen–at least, I’ve been harassed for that by my children before."

Though she hasn’t been professionally active in politics for some time, Jones did work for former Governor Bill Clements’ campaign in 1979 and 1980, alongside future Bush guru Karl Rove. More recently, she’s been a strong supporter of Republican Congressmen Henry Bonilla and Lamar Smith. She says she first started thinking of running for office a year and a half ago. "I thought my standards of practice would be more in keeping with good business practices," compared to those of her predecessor.

Ah HA! Some useful information: interior designer (freelance--guess she didn't like journalism), Bill Clements, Bush, Karl Rove, Henry Bonilla, Lamar Smith. For a Bexar County Republican, that'd make a heck of a Friendster entry.

As for her legislative record, Jones did author a couple of interesting bills in the last session:

In particular, as one of the House leaders on judicial reform issues, she authored a bill which would have instituted non-partisan retention elections for appointed judges (remember the short-lived judicial reform campaign of 2003?).

She also authored one of the thousands of bills one could read and immediately wonder "What the....", which related to allowing the state to produce and sell prints of work by the state artist for two-dimensional media (does Texas have an official artist for three dimensional media?).

And, finally, at long last (perhaps I should have looked here first), are some actual energy/communications/etc., regulatory issues:

HB 2956 Author: Jones, Elizabeth
Sponsor: none
Last Action: 04/30/2003 H Meeting cancelled
Relating to a franchise tax credit for oil and gas
producers that make financial contributions to institutions
of higher education.

HB 2301 Author: Jones, Elizabeth
Sponsor: Armbrister
Last Action: 05/22/2003 S Committee report printed and
distributed relating to the collection of oil-field cleanup
regulatory fees.

HB 2006 Author: Jones, Elizabeth / et al.
Sponsor: Fraser
Last Action: 06/20/2003 E Effective on 9/1/03
Relating to the construction and maintenance of utility,
common carrier, cable operator, and energy transporter
facilities along, over, under, or across a railroad

In the prior session, she introduced a strange bill which would have evidently made it more difficult for communications between citizens and some public officials to be released as "open records."

All in all, it's not a terribly impressive record for someone appointed to statewide office, at least based on what I've discovered. Though she may have--at long last--broken that terrible glass celing for freelance interior decorators who allegedly look like Cameron Diaz, the jury's still out on Ames Jones.

Vince Leibowitz, an award-winning former newspaper journalist, is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 12:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson: Minor complaints on a rather well-run PBS show

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I don't know if it's because I'm excited about seeing Tucker with his own hour-long show on MSNBC or because I'm too pissed about other things, but I've been letting Tucker off easy lately with his PBS show. So this is going to be another post of just mild complaints about a conservative commentator that I consider my arch-enemy.

Tucker's First Up segment featured former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. I've read Suskind's Price of Loyalty too many times to not like O'Neill, but he is in favor of private accounts (and he was CEO of Alcoa, a very bad thing if you're a Texan). He and Bow Tie Boy had a five-minute discussion about what kind of private account system O'Neill would like to see. They talked about guaranteed million dollar annuities for everybody and all too soon time was up. I say too soon because they never got around to addressing the actual debate over whether or not to go with some half-assed partial plan like Bush wants or to keep the old system solvent. It was just a really long discussion of "wouldn't it be great if everyone had a million dollars when they retire?"

His Plus 2 segment wasn't any better. To discuss Gonzales' confirmation as AG, Tucker brought in nut-job extraordinaire David Frum and Katrina vanden Heuval. Frum did something that Gonzales was criticized for not doing, defending torture in certain circumstances. My liberalism won't let me get passed moral absolutism on certain things, like "torture is wrong". But Frum's conservatism does no such thing. But my main beef is not with Frum. He makes himself irrelevant very easily. Vanden Heuval is my problem. I've seen her go on two different shows the past week and call Alberto Gonzales "Antonio Gonzales". Each time there is an awkward silence by the other people because they don't want to be rude and point out she has no idea who she's even talking about.

Katrina is just a bad spokesperson for the Left. She always seems like she doesn't have a full grasp of whatever it is she is supposed to be discussing. Plus, me being a fairly liberal person, I always feel llike she might be taking things a bit too far. When she is explaining something, I really don't think she is speaking for the majority of us in the Democratic party.

Tucker, you have got to get some better people on the show. Heck, I'll go on the show to discuss things with you. Just quit putting vanden Heuval in for the liberals. I don't want her representing us anymore than you would want a crazy guy like David "I invented axis of evil" Frum representing your views.

The show ended with a piece on animals who ran away to higher ground just before the tsunami hit the coast of the Indian Ocean. I'm sure psychic animals is interesting to someone, but I really didn't feel like learning some stupid, inane fact about Indian elephants. So I turned the channel.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk for the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Revenue Surplus?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If Craddick's statement today on the House website is any indication, looks like there won't be a shortfall for the legislature to deal with this session. Maybe we will have money to fund health and education?

"Comptroller Strayhorn is forecasting substantial revenue growth for the FY06-07 biennium, and the Legislative Budget Board staff will release its recommended budget within the next few days, which will be within the revenue predicted by the Comptroller. Although I have not seen the details of her estimate, it is encouraging to hear that the Comptroller anticipates significant revenue growth for the biennium compared to the situation we faced last regular session. Had we not held the line on spending in the face of the $10 billion shortfall last session, we probably would not have seen the kind of economic recovery that we are now experiencing and hope to see in the future. I look forward to working with the Governor and with my colleagues in the Senate to craft a budget that will maximize the positive impact on Texas' economy."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 06:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

An honest debate

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I'm all for an honst debate on the merits of privatization. Andrew and I don't agree one bit, but we're able to have a serious discussion because we're both reasonable and we'll use facts to back up our arguments.

But I'm getting really sick of the crap the Republicans are trying to pull on this. As I was getting ready for work today, I managed to catch Sen. John Sununu on Lou Dobbs talking about the benefits of privatization. Sununu made several assertions, everyone one of them demonstrably false. Things like "The system will go bankrupt in 2042" which it won't. The trust fund will go bankrupt in 2042 (or 2053 if we have better than 2% economic growth over the next 40 years). But since the trust fund was a temporary fix to the fiscal hurdle of the baby boomers retirement after increasing benefits for retirees throughout the 60s and 70s. We all planned on the trust fund ending, which is why we are going to quit paying into it in 2018. Sununu knows this and is trying to mislead people with lies, or if he doesn't and he's just reading talking points, he doesn't deserve to hold an office higher than dog catcher.

I'm pissed about this kind of thing because they keep getting away with it and people like Lou Dobbs don't correct the record on their own damned shows. Dobbs has a responsibility to his audience to let them know the truth about the subject they are debating. If he isn't going to do his job, then I don't see why he has a job. It's unethical to allow people to lie on your show like that. Blatant lies that Dobbs, who I assume knows as much about how the Social Security sytem works as a 22-year-old sports clerk, should have been all over.

Sununu also talked about the lowered interest rates that come from a good ecoomy where people are saving more and investing in the market. He doesn't bother to tell us that has nothing to do with Social Security. We have a three-legged stool of retirement to stand on in this country. One leg is Social Security, which at the moment, is the sturdiest because the other two, private pensions and private investment accounts, are too risky because they rely on the market. That hasn't turned out too well so they want to do it to Social Security. He also doesn't mention that borrowing $2 trillion dollars is going to significantly raise interest rates.

And finally, Sununu peddles the $12 trillion shortfall in the system number. That number was reached because the Trustees were asked to calculate what the shortfall is to infinity. The final tally at the end of infinity (I know, end of infinity?) is $10.2 trillion dollars. I have a lot of problems with this, the least of which is that Dobbs didn't call him on rounding up $1.8 trillion, which is not an insignificant sum. It is literålly impossible to calculate the economic situation of the US infinity from now, making the number totally meaningless. We can make reasonable assumptions about the state of our economy 75 years from now, which the actuaries of Social Security and the Congressional Budget Office did. They found that the number is actually $2 trillion to $3.7 trillion, which over 75 years is pretty good. If we raise the cap on payroll taxes to $100,000 and don't make the Bush tax cuts permanent, we've literally covered our shortfall in the system. Problem solved.

Well not really. When the trust fund goes bankrupt there will be an abrupt drop in benefits to about 80% of what they would be. That's still going to be more than what people get in full benefits now, but we can lessen this shock by doing a few things. But privatization does nothing to address any real shortfalls in the system and it doesn't address the lack of savings in the other two legs of the retirement stool. All privatization does is destroy the solvency of Social Security and put dangerous pressure on our economy. It's time to have an honest debate, but we can't do that if the Republicans are going to keep lying.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 06:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Craddick Elected Speaker -- 4 Nay Votes

By Byron LaMasters

Two years ago, Tom Craddick was elected speaker with only one Nay vote - that of Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth). The election of the speaker in Texas is rather silly, because everyone votes for the speaker so that they can get good committee assignments, etc. Hopefully, the Texas legislature will soon get to the day where both parties put forward a candidate for speaker, and the majority party candidate is elected. That's the way it should be, but a four-fold increase of votes against Craddick is a start. I'll post the names of the four voting against Craddick when I get them.

In comments are the names of the four Nay votes on Craddick:

Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth)
Jessica Farrar (D-Houston)
Joe Moreno (D-Houston)
Paul Moreno (D-El Paso)

Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) was present, not voting.

Kudos to them. The final vote was 142-4.

In other news, Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones (R-San Antonio) declined her seat in the legislature as she was nominated by Gov. Perry earlier today for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. Jones will replace Charles Matthews, who resigned his seat in order to take a position as chancellor of the Texas State University system.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Rooting for the home team

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Most people who know me, know that I'm a big Texas fan. I practically bleed burnt orange.

But I have to give props to my hometown girls, the Baylor Lady Bears, who are now ranked No. 2 in the AP poll. That, of course, is coming off a win against Texas and LSU's bad week last week. But if anyone deserves to be ranked 2nd, it is Baylor.

The Texas Lady Longhorns are ranked 12th, just ahead of Texas Tech. On the men's side, UT is ranked 10th in the AP poll and 9th in the coaches' poll.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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It's Official: Radnofsky Has Filed For U.S. Senate

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

HOUSTON--Barbara Ann Radnofsky (D-Houston) made it official Monday that she will seek the Democratic Party's nomination for U.S. Senate in 2006.

Radnofsky, 48, officially declared her candidacy today after sending the necessary paperwork to the United States Senate formalizing her intentions. Candidates for U.S. Senate are required to file a declaration of their intentions with that body. Radnofsky mailed the documents today after formally incorporating her campaign committee with the Texas Secretary of State late last week. She is the first Texas candidate to formally declare her intentions regarding a state-wide race in 2006.

Though Radnofsky has taken the necessary steps to formalize her candidacy at the federal level, she won't be able to officially file for the Texas Democratic Primary until December of this year.

Radnofsky first came up on the political radar last year, when she began an exploratory campaign. Most Texas Democrats were first exposed to Radnofsky during the Texas Democratic Party's State Convention last June, where she held a meet-and-greet and delivered a speech seconding the nomination of State Party Chairman Charles Soechting, a longtime friend, for a full term as the head of the party.

In an exclusive interview with this writer Monday night, Radnofsky said she was excited to launch her campaign, which she says is a grassroots effort that will focus on issues important to the people of Texas.

"After a year of touring our state and meeting with real people and studying the issues they face everyday, I have decided to formally become a candidate for United States Senator," Radnofsky said.

During her year of exploration, Radnofsky traveled the state spending a great deal of meeting with people, government officials and leaders in business in industry, as well as raising thousands on behalf of other Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In preparation for entering a primary that is more than a year away, Radnofsky said she believes 2006 is a great time to run.

"I believe Texas is ready for a Democratic senator who will focus on making our economy stronger and putting Americans back to work, making our country secure, and ensuring that our government is the best in the world," she noted.

A partner in the Houston law firm of Vinson and Elkins, volunteer and community leader, Radnofsky notes that serving the citizens of Texas is something close to her heart.

"Public service has always been a part of my life, and I believe the United States Senate is the place where I can best serve the people of Texas. I know how to represent and fight for people. I know how to bring people together, which is what I have done for many years as a mediator and a volunteer teacher," she said.

Radnofsky said her experience--especially as a mediator--has prepared to become part of the solution to problems plaguing the Beltway.

"Washington is choked by conflict and partisanship. This has been a particular problem in Congress. I want to focus on problem-solving and solutions because I know I can make a difference," she noted.

"I think people see the need for a problem-solver in the boxing ring that Washington has become," she continued.

Though Radnofsky knows she faces a long road ahead, she notes she is very thankful to the many people who have encouraged her to seek public office.

"Serving as a United States Senator is an awesome responsibility, and I am gratified that so many people across Texas have encouraged me to seek this position. Texans realize we need new ideas and new faces to tackle tough issues like healthcare. I am deeply humbled and extremely proud to enter this race and prepare to do the people's work," she noted.

As a 'people's candidate,' Radnofsky notes she is running very much a "grassroots" organization, having hired no political consultants. Radnofsky noted it is particularly important to her to ensure that her campaign and fund-raising are conducted with dignity given the current political climate in the state.

"I'm able to do this due to many people who've helped me this past year as I've traveled the state and learned. I've got a nearly -all-volunteer organization, with a professional fundraiser who is enthusiastic, decent, and honest," she said.

Radnofsky confirmed that she will remain a partner with V&E while she campaigns, and will continue her law and mediation practice.


Though a political novice when it comes to electoral politics, Radnofsky--a partner in the prestigious Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins--is no light-weight. A National Merit Scholar, she holds a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Houston (which she entered at age 16) and a Doctor of Jurisprudence with Honors from the University of Texas School of Law. With more than 140 publications and speeches to her credit in the U.S. and abroad, Radnofsky has also been named Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas. All this has helped her earn the catch phrase, "tough name, smart dame," which she used on the stump last year.

In addition, she has a lengthy record of community service including as a Board Member of the Friends World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, on which she serves at the request of the discoverer of the AIDS virus, Professor Luc Montagnier. She also serves as vice chair of the Anti-Defamation League for the Southwest Region as well as a Board Member of the Friends of the Texas Medical Center Library. She's taught mediation to public school, Upward Bound, and developmentally disabled students. Her husband, Ed Supkis, is a medical doctor.

Her 25-year legal career has seen her gain certification in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Trial law from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She has served as lead counsel in trials ranging from commercial dispute and medical malpractice to contractual indemnity, false arrest and malicious prosecution. From 2001 to 2003, she served as Chairman of the American Bar Association's Managed Care Litigation Section Subcommittee.


When Radnofsky announces her candidacy, she will be the first person in either party to formally announce a 2006 candidacy for U.S. Senate. Currently, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is toying with a run for governor against fellow Republican Rick Perry, though some Austin insiders say Hutchison will retire to spend more time with her young children rather than face the possibility of enduring a primary which is sure to be a crippling blood-bath for both.

Last summer, Congressman Chris Bell (D-Houston), the first casualty of the 2003 redistricting plan when he lost to Houston justice of the peace Al Green in the Democratic Primary, was reportedly considering a run for Senate, as were U.S. Congressmen Jim Turner. Turner declined to seek re-election in 2004. Late last year, however, Bell announced he was considering forming an exploratory committee to run for governor. Turner is reportedly also considering such a run.

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, however, remains a wildcard. He lost the race for Senate in 2002 to then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. Late last year, he announced he would seek the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. However, this week he withdrew to support former U.S. Congressman Martin Frost (D-Oak Cliff).

Former U.S. Congressman Ken Bentsen (D-Houston), nephew of former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, is also a possible contender for the Senate seat. Last Fall, former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes was also mentioned as a possible Senate candidate, but that's unlikely.

On the Republican side, the scenarios regarding who may run for the seat border on dizzying. Aside from Hutchison staying where she is in the Senate, one scenario favored by many Republicans has Hutchison retiring and not running against Perry, and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is also considering a run against Perry, dropping out of that race to seek the Lt. Governor's position held by David Dewhurst. Dewhurst would in turn run for Senate, the position he reportedly favored in 2002 over the one he holds now. Still others favor Dewhurst staying where he is and the outspoken Strayhorn or AG Greg Abbott making a run for Senate.

Speculation regarding which Republicans may seek the U.S. Senate seat in 2006 are almost as dizzying as speculation surrounding which Democrats will run for Governor. Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez, who lost to Perry in 2002; former Texas Comptroller John Sharp (who has lost two races in a row for Lt. Governor); Dallas Mayor Laura Miller; Former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson (who lost to Greg Abbot in the AG's race in 2002); Austin advertising magnate Roy Spence; and Ken Bentsen are all possibilities along with Bell and Turner.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 07:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Today's SDEC Meeting

By Andrew Dobbs

SDEC stands for State Democratic Executive Committee, the governing body of the state Democratic Party. The meetings are usually interesting, but this one took the cake because two DNC chair candidates showed up and a phenomenal new face in state politics had his "coming out party" (no, not that kind, he was accompanied by his beautiful wife). Here's my take. Note that I am an employee of the State Democratic Party, and my thoughts are in no way meant to indicate nor represent the opinions of the State Party, its staff, chairman or executive committee.

First up was Congressman Martin Frost. In all my time in Texas Politics, I had some how never gotten to meet him and he was very friendly and gave a heck of a speech. The crowd was clearly on his side, despite what some Deaniacs would like to think. The most important issue isn't ideology- the chairman has no say in that- but is "What Will You Do For Me/What HAVE You Done For Me?" and Martin Frost is one of the state party's best friends. There have been several occasions where the Party was flat broke until Martin Frost came to our rescue. His total contributions and funds raised are likely in the several hundred thousand dollar range (if not in the million dollar range) over the last 20 years or so. Martin Frost has long been our best friend in the congressional delegation and frankly, the guy is a consumate pro. He was a political consultant for several years before he served in Congress, has always been one of Congress' top fundraisers and in his 4 years as head of the DCCC he gained 14 seats in two cycles right after the Gingrich Revolution, which proves he can win even when the deck has been stacked against him. He's perfect for the job, in my opinion, and a lot of Texas Democrats are grateful to him for his long time support.

The other candidate who came was also quite impressive- Donnie Fowler. His speech got rolling a little slowly but when it took off, he took off. He had some great applause lines that got the crowd going and his closer- "I want to be your second choice"- was perfect for the crowd. It worked with me, as I think that he'd be my second choice if I had a vote. He's a good-looking young guy with a South Carolina accent and a lot of experience under his belt. He has a great message about turning the DNC into a clearinghouse for successful strategies to rebuild state parties by providing resources, training, staff and the like. I think he'd be good for Texas too, and even though I'm not supporting him outright, I hope he sticks around and gets to do something important sometime.

I think that a "National Chairman/Executive Chairman" set up like in the Mid-90s might be in order. Fowler would look better on TV and whatnot while Martin Frost is more of a pro at the campaign strategy. But I doubt that that will happen. I support Frost as of right now.

Another pleasant experience was meeting the man who I have bestowed the sobriquet "Gov" on- Lt. Cmdr. Juan M. Garica (USN-Ret.) of Corpus Christi. Sounds great, right? A Military guy. But his resume only begins there. LCDR Garcia is also a graduate of UCLA, Harvard Law and the Kennedy School of Government. In terms of charisma he is second only to John Edwards in people I have met. He had ladies (and some of the guys) turning their heads and the rest of the guys (and all the ladies) ready to open their wallets. His family is great too- his beautiful wife Danielle came with him, though they left their 4 kids (straight out of a commercial cute) in Corpus. He is also bilingual. Garcia was approached by the Republican Party to run for office, but made it clear that he was not on their side and is now planning to take on Republican State Rep. Gene Seaman in 2006. Keep your eye on this guy- he is going places. The Latino John Kennedy I called him.

There was never any talk of a "resolution in support of Frost" to my knowledge, I have no idea where Karl-T. got that (not to impugn Karl-T., just a misunderstanding on the part of his sources), and as Chairman Soechting noted- no matter who wins it will be better than it is now. Texas is like the DNC's Daddy's credit card- they take and take and take and take and provide nothing in return. If I might crib one of Reagan's better quotes in regard to their recent behavior they are like a big baby- an insatiable appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. Any of the candidates would improve upon that it seems, but Frost has been there for us in the past and he'll be there for us again in the future. If you want Texas to be Democratic again, you need to support Martin Frost.

So things went very well, the meeting was great, a lot of wonderful people came out and some good candidates are percolating. Just thought you'd like the update.

(P.S.- To say something nice about my former employer, Howard Dean, he gave us $2500 for our big fundraiser tomorrow night- the Salute to Our Democratic Elected Officials. So Thanks Governor! And there was some talk of Tim Roemer showing up as well, as he was apparantly around town. He didn't show, and I don't like the guy. Say what you will about Frost- when his district got torn up, he stood tall and ran a tough race. It took guts. When Tim Roemer had his same district but a tough Republican [who he had beaten before] announced, he dropped out. The guy doesn't have the guts to be chairman and he's hanging around with the wrong crowd- the congressional types who could give a damn if we are in the minority or not, as long as they have a limo and a nice office. He's last on my list as of right now.)

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 04:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

DNC Atlanta Report: Part 3 of 3

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Having finished up parts one and two from my time at the Atlanta DNC Southern Caucus meeting, now for the bit about Texas.

Of the dozen or so DNC members from Texas, it is likely that they will end up voting for Martin Frost in the early rounds, not because they may believe that he is the best candidate, but because he's a Texan, and it's just the proper thing to do. What was causing some consternation is that our State Chair, Mr. Charles Soechting, planned on introducing a resolution of support at today's State Democratic Executive Committee meeting to be voted on. The SDEC has 60 odd voting members, of which many are Dean folk that won elections for the seats at last year's State Convention.

No one likes to be railroaded into having to vote a particular way. In fact, my SDEC district representative met with 11 of the 21 county chairs in our region this weekend. I was proud enough that they had put forth a strategic planning statement and program to be submitted to the chair about how to work with counties for future success. Then I was told over the phone that the 11 County Chairs endorsed Howard Dean for National Chair and urged our SDEC rep to make that known.

This was shocking to me. Those County Chairs weren't Deaniacs or swept into office in local coups. They are hard working, older Party folk who want to win and restore the Party in the very rural areas which they represent. The fact that this crowd at the bottom of the ladder is in favor in Dean could be an indicator that there is more support out there for real reformers than we are seeing on the surface. It also jives well with ruminations that Dean is actually the fallback choice of much of the Texas delegation should Frost be knocked out.

Below are some thoughts from David H., one of Texas's DNC members whom had given me permission to share some of his relevant thoughts.

Make an effort to meet Simon Rosenberg. If there wasn't a Texan in the race, he would get my vote straight-away.

The Austin meetup went pretty well last night. Most of the people there were for Dean, of course, and I am not opposed to him, but there are and were elements who get pretty militant about Dean and his cause.

Like I say, I'm not against Dean in this. I have known Simon for ten years and after seeing his talents I think he'd make a great chair. He is part of a think-tank that is forefront on Progressive issues and his organization spent more on Hispanic targeted ads than either the Kerry campaign or the DNC, from what I understand. He gets the new activist dynamic.

And Frost, being a Texan, would mean great things for Texas and red states like it. He ran the DCCC like most people are saying they want to see the DNC run. He has a great record of working with candidates in every state - not just battleground - and candidates far down the ballot. He surrounds himself with great people.

So, Dean comes in somewhere after them for me, personally.

I think all Texans will vote for Frost as long as he is in it.

Frost as chair would probably mean more for Texas as far as money and support go (instead of it being sucked out of Texas to other states). But in this case I have to be a Democrat before a Texan, and to put 1 state ahead of the other 49 is shortsighted.

(Should there me more to report on after today's SDEC meeting, I'll be sure to file an additional Burnt Orange Report.)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:23 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 09, 2005

DNC Atlanta Report 2 of 3

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This is the second of three posts on my experience at the DNC Southern Caucus meeting in Atlanta. The third post will be on events related specific to Texas and Texas candidates.

As far as message is concerned, it's starting to remind me of the Democratic Primary where Dean ended up defining the message and other candidates, seeing where the Party was, ended up with similar thoughts. For me, a Reform minded Deanocrat, this of course is encouraging and the question now becomes, of those pushing for reform, how much is politics and how much is sincere. For me at least, it seems if the battle is not Dean v. Anti-Dean, it's Dean v. Dean light...

That being said, I attending the Atlanta meeting with an open mind, and an intent to report on what I saw to better offer a view into a decision that isn't ours to make in this type of election.

In the order that the candidates spoke, below are my thoughts on style and my personal meetings at their separate events.

Simon Rosenberg

I attended Simon's Meet and Greet event earlier in the day, and was able to personal chat with him some about blogs, technology, and the interface of the DNC with the lower levels of the Party. The Tennessee crew came in as well and held a Q and A with him. His passion for the job was much more apparent in this meeting than in what was visible in the general meeting that C-SPAN captured. His answers were complete (if at times a bit too long) and he did focus on relating his job experience running the NDN to the DNC saying he was ready to step into the job without a learning curve.

Being one of the younger candidates, he comes off maturer than Fowler does, but this is likely due to his executive position and background. His Chair Campaign had raised about $150,000 and had recently been endorsed by CraigsList, with supposed other endorsements coming this week. He had little 'campaign material' though and mentioned at one point how he supported the invasion of Iraq. He "gets it" though on the question of reform and if were elected chair would have my support and confidence. I feel that his positive aspects were not as well conveyed to the DNC audience though in the panel Q&A, and they are the voters, not me.

Tim Roemer

Tim Roemer, as hard as he may try, sounds like the ex-Congresscritter that his is, and seems artificial. His "meet and greet" event was centered on food and Max Cleland's endorsement. He had zero campaign materials. He did the traditional "Thank you for that very good question, I appreciate your question, That is perhaps the most important question" shtick in the Panel Q&A. Draped in security and patriotism in excess, he was one of the few asked specific questions about his negative points (being outside the mainstream of the party on Choice, Social Security, voting against Clinton Economic reforms, etc.) In his responses, it appeared that he was trying to set himself of as an "anti-Dean" candidate, such as saying he would not "run the party to the Left (Dean sitting on his left as he waves in that direction) or take it to the right." But so long as both he and Frost are in the hunt, they split up similar voters, helping the real reformers.

Howard Dean

The most well known of the candidates, there is less of an education issue with the delegates when it comes to policies or who the candidate its. In that sense, he has an "incumbent advantage" on those fronts one could say. DNC members that are paying less attention to the specifics of the race but are looking for reform, could quite possibly go Dean's way simply because they don't know of any alternatives. As knowledgeable as I would wish every member of the DNC would be, I get a sense from talking to some of them, that those of us racking this race online in the blogosphere have collectively a better understanding of the people and the issues at hand.

Dean drew crowds in the lobby when he would be sanding around, and was very at ease on a person to person basis He gave fresh insightful remarks in the Q&A round, much to my surprise as I was expecting something more along the lines of his stump speeches. Dean was the only candidate to be interrupted (twice) by applause in his 90 second opening remarks. Though he won't officially announce until a day or two, his campaign was in gear. The other candidates know it just as Dean does, that if he doesn't get elected, it will only be because Dean comes in second place in the final ballot between himself and the winner. His name is not one that will be dropped off in some earlier stage of balloting on the way to finding the next DNC Chair.

Wellington Webb

The former Mayor of Denver, Wellington Webb likes to tell you that his name is Wellington Webb. In the Q&A session, it was brought up about three times. Though his speaking style is clear and direct, I kept trying to figure out if he was still trying to increase his name ID. His meet and greet event was rather sparsely attended, not physically organized, and the only delegates seemingly supporting him were members of the Southern Black Caucus. Webb is a good man, and he cares about whom he represents. It appears though, that he represents the African American voice in this election, which is not enough to elect him as the Chairman. Seeing Al Sharpton in Atlanta (and getting an obligatory picture with him), it made me hope that at some point, the Democratic Party will have Black candidates for these National level offices that represent more tan "putting forth the issues and concerns of the Black community."

David Leeland

Former director of Project Vote and Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, David Leeland is otherwise unknown. Entering the race so late that he had no name placard for the event or and meet and greet, little is known about his policies. His answers did not go far in answering the question of what he brings to the race or what he stands for. For the most part, his responses were bland and repetitive (at least twice he stated "I think all of us up here have the same view on the answer to this question..."). Other than gaining Ohio's DNC votes, I don't see a base of support or unique appeal. I can see hi being one, if the only, of the 7 candidates in attendance to drop out before the February vote is actually held.

Donnie Fowler

Son of former DNC Chair Don Fowler, the younger Don is also one of the candidates that "gets it". I had a chance to personally speak with him up in his suite with blogger Scrutiny Hooligans. While one of his volunteers was very hot under the collar about Dean (not exactly the best thing to do talking to Dean campaign bloggers), Fowler actually got a question into me first, asking off hand, "I bet you want to know if I can code an HTML e-mail?" Fowler's answers were not canned and he draws energy and knowledge from his fieldwork and I much appreciated the openness of his meet and greet.

In the general session, he was quick, witty, charming at times. While some of his jokes didn't get the laugh lines they deserved (tough crowd) he identifies with this Regional Caucus. There is a concern I have though, and that in a race where DNC members' votes may be cast on identity (on race, ideology, relative time in the party) that quite a few won't identify with his enthusiasm or youthful unkempt vigor. I do, but then again, I'm 20, a blogger, and not a DNC member which makes it all quite pointless unless DNC members are reading the blogosphere. And if they are, they are probably already true Reform Democrats. Fowler probably gained more ground than most, and is now a better known quantity that sticks in your head, but this was also some of his more friendly turf. If Mr. Fowler wins, I will have every confidence that the Party will be better because of it. But first he would have to win.

Martin Frost

Martin Frost is the other former Congresscritter in this race. His meet and greet consisted of many Texans (not that those votes are unexpected). He seemed to be interested only in those in the room with official white DNC Member nametags, and if you were anything else... Hard to approach, disconnected, and not particularly compelling in his later answers to the full session, where he regularly cited Congress or people he knew as ways to answer questions.

While he may have headed up the DCCC for a couple cycles, I do not remember those being the most recent ones where the Internet and the issue of Reform has come into play. Plus, as the lead man on Democratic Redistricting after the 2000 census, I find it a bit ironic that he lost his seat in Dallas due to redistricting here in Texas. In response to a question on seeking higher office after being DNC chair, he responded "I am no longer interested in offering my name for public office" which should be interesting to Texans as his name has been bandied about as a Statewide candidate of some sort.


Not in attendance, but with their name placards sitting empty on the table were Molly Beth Malcolm former Chair of the Texas Democratic Party and Mr. Blanchard whom I thought had already officially pulled out. Molly Beth would be a bad choice, but it is unlikely that she would enter so long as another Texan was in the race (Ron Kirk dropped out as there were too many Texans as it was).

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 08:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DNC Atlanta Report: 1 of 3

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In this entry I will present some of the points that were made by the "introduction" speakers at the general session. The following entry will be a DNC candidate by candidate discussion. The third entry will be on the Texas angle and the "Texas Tussle" that is ongoing.

The Southern Regional Meeting of the DNC on January 8 almost ended halfway into it as those in charge claimed that seating to the general session was limited and only those with preapproved credentials would be allowed in, and if there was space after that, others would be accepted. By the time I was reluctantly let in, there still appeared to be dozens of open chairs and I am thankful that the obstacle was "fire codes" rather than disallowing bloggers, as was the case in Florida.

Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee gave a good speech in which he said we "need not a regional strategy but a national message that speaks to a culture of America because the people we need to reach out to are beyond the South".

He gave two suggestions to the party.
1) Get out of Washington! "The aspirations of the people are out in the nation, in red states and blue ones."
2) We need some Focus. "It needs to come from the top; we need a coherent world view."

Next up were proposed DNC Rule Changes put forth by Don Fowler, former DNC chair and father of DNC candidate Donnie Fowler. He offered them saying that he had been in charge before and sometimes responsible for the very rules which he is now proposing to alter, which would take power away from the Chair and put it in the Regional Caucuses and States. In summary they are...

1) Reduce the number of At Large DNC Members appointed by the DNC chair from the current 75 to 25 (out of the 440 or so total members) and give 12 or 13 to each Regional Caucus to appoint.

2) Reduced from 11 to 7 the number of executive committee appointments made by the DNC Chair, giving one to each Regional Caucus.

3) Related to making the management of the DNC budget to be more open and accountable.

A presentation was made by Pollster Dave Beattie on targeting. His quotable line? "Like Vietnam, Democrats cannot hold the cities and lose the countryside, and expect to win the war." His suggested target groups...

1) Catholics "We don't need to change who we are for this one."
2) Small Business "We can be the Party of Main Street over Wall Street".

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 05:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rally for Hubert Vo on Tuesday

By Byron LaMasters

The rally to suport Hubert Vo is at 2pm on the South steps of the capitol. If the session, which starts at noon, goes beyond 2pm, then the rally will be 30 minutes after it closes.

Please come help show solid support.

Hubert Vo's Campaign Manager

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DNC Atlanta News

By Byron LaMasters

Karl-Thomas will surely post his thoughts on the Atlanta meetings soon, but here's two other takes on the Atlanta meetings while we wait:

MyDD with comments from Matt Stoller who is working for Simon Rosenberg.


Scutiny Hooligans who spoke with Karl-Thomas, and has some thoughts.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dr. Deuell's Tax Tonic

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

Leave it to my state Senator, Dr. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) to think "outside the box." Way, way, way outside the box.

In Sunday's Tyler Morning Telegraph, Deuell offers forth a plan that "could allow businesses to choose the type of tax they pay, as part of a school finance fix that would also lower property taxes for homeowners."

The TMT notes:

Businesses could pick from a list that might include payroll tax, a tax on net profits, a tax on business activity, explains Deuell, a Greenville Republican. Most legislators agree that some kind of business tax is inevitable, but they're divided on what form it should take. Each form has supporters and critics.

"There's no one tax that is completely fair to all businesses," Deuell said. "Every tax is a little more and less fair to certain types of businesses."

That's where Deuell's plan comes in.

"I've gone to Lt. Gov. (David) Dewhurst and suggested we give businesses a choice on how they pay," said Deuell, who is readying for the start of the legislative session on Tuesday. "Perhaps we could give a cafeteria-style list to them and just say, 'pick your tax.' Some might choose payroll, others might choose net profits. It would be up to them."

Ah, yes. A virtual buffet of taxation choices.

Though I'm not a Nobel-prize winning economist, I see some serious problems with Deuell's plan. First of all, wouldn't it be human nature to pick the tax which would require your company to pay the least possible taxes? I have serious trouble believing that a company would want to pick the tax that gives them the greatest tax burden just to be a good corporate citizen, which brings me to my second point: wouldn't such a Luby's/Wyatt's/Furr's/Golden Corral style buffet of choices mean that we'd depend on the consience of corporate Texas to pay its fair share? (Wonder which option Enron would have picked?)

I'm fond of a plan advocated by former State Rep. Bob Glaze, which came out a few years ago after the Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance co-chaired by former State Representative Paul Sadler,released its report, which discussed a combination of a gross reciepts tax and a value added tax for school funding. As I recall, the taxes would affect the state's largest businesses more than any others.

Though Deuell seems to have thought out his plan, I can't find any actual legislation that he's filed concerning it for the coming session.

Strangely enough, in the same issue touting Dr. Deuell's Tax Tonic (take one giant swig straight from the bottle prior to every legislative session) there is an article quoting yours truly about taking back Senate District 2, the very seat held by Dr. Deuell.

I'm slightly miffed at the writer of this article (Roy Maynard, though it's unbylined) because he intimates that our SD2 Summit is somehow affiliated with the Democratic Party of Texas and its Take Back Texas campaign. He gets this from our logo, on which I put the phrase, "Take Back East Texas." While we're working with TBT and TDP, we aren't "affiliated" with them. We'd love to be and would be if they ask, but it rubs me the wrong way that the Tyler paper's saying we are, because I never said we were. (It's always great when ex-journalists are misquoted. We can get militant about it).

Anyway, since I know a lot of "party regulars" read this blog, I'm sorry about that, even though it's not my fault!

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County. He owns t-shirt on which is imprinted the following: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you."

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 12:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2005

DNC Atlanta Report On its Way

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I am now in North Carolina after spending the last two days in Atlanta, learning a heck of a lot about what is going on in the DNC chairs race and getting a much better personal read on the candidates, their styles, ideas, and interests.

Dean will be announcing his official candidacy on Monday; the campaign to be headed by a Tom .... from outside his Democracy for America leadership. Blanchard and supposed new entrant, Mary Beth Malcolm were absent and had no materials on their respective tables today. Mr. David Leeland of Ohio was unimpressive, had no campaign organization present, no separate "meet and greet" event during the day, and lackluster answers that added nothing that wasn't already said or represented by the current candidates.

I managed to attend all the meet and greets with the candidate, have pictures (one with Al Sharpton who attended for some reason) all of which I will post on Monday evening. In addition I will have a report on some Texas maneuvering and issues that involves Texas DNC candidates, DNC members, and the State Democratic Executive Committee.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Perry Endorsements Roll in

By Byron LaMasters

Run, Kay, run! This is getting even better. All the statewides are endorsing Rick Perry, all the sane people will vote for KBH in the Republican Party, and thus she will lose, and Democrats will have a shot at both the Governor and Senate seats. Anyway, via Rick Perry Vs. The World is a list of endorsements that Rick Perry rolled out today:

The following statewide elected officials have committed their support to the governor in his 2006 reelection race: David Dewhurst, Lieutenant Governor of Texas; Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General; Susan Combs, Commissioner of Agriculture; Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the General Land Office; Victor Carrillo, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission; Michael Williams, Texas Railroad Commissioner; and Charles Matthews, Texas Railroad Commissioner. Texans for Rick Perry did not seek the endorsement of statewide elected judges.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2005

In other news, Santa Claus does not exist

By Jim Dallas

(I'm sorry if any kids under the age of 12 are reading this).

Mike Huben links us to classic Krugman on the nature of economic fundamentalisms.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 03:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Radnofsky Expected To End Exploration, Enter Senate Race

By Vince Leibowitz

After almost a year of operating an official exploratory campaign, Houston Attorney Barbara Ann Radnofsky is expected to end her exploration and officially announce her candidacy for U.S. Senate within the next week, according to sources close to her exploration.

Radnofsky, who began her exploration last year and made a splash at the Texas and National Democratic Conventions, is vying for the seat currently held by U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican who is considering a run against fellow a fellow Republican, Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2006 when her seat will be up.

After a year of traveling the state, appearing at rallies, and fund-raising on behalf of other candidates, Radnofsky, 48 is reportedly ready to enter the electoral frey formally--after having secured well-known Texas talents to assist her campaign in the all-important area of fund-raising and spending last summer and fall researching and on the stump.

Described as a moderate Democrat, Radnofsky already enjoys a good deal of support from top party leaders including Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting. When Radnofsky told Soechting she was starting her exploration last year, she recounts him telling her she could "tell people I hurt myself doing back flips doing this, I'm so happy you're doing this."

She is expected to be endorsed by a wide-range of people, including Olympic gold medalists, and former DNC officials.

Though Radnofsky has never held elective office--and never attended a state party convention until this year, her profile has risen considerably in the past few months with fund-raising on behalf of candidates like Richard Morrison, the Democrat who attempted to unseat Tom DeLay, and positive press coverage generated from her stump speeches across the state.


When Radnofsky announces her candidacy, she will be the first person in either party to formally announce a 2006 candidacy for U.S. Senate. Currently, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is toying with a run for governor against fellow Republican Rick Perry, though some Austin insiders say Hutchison will retire to spend more time with her young children rather than face the possibility of enduring a primary which is sure to be a crippling blood-bath for both.

Last summer, Congressman Chris Bell (D-Houston), the first casualty of the 2003 redistricting plan when he lost to Houston justice of the peace Al Green in the Democratic Primary, was reportedly considering a run for Senate, as were U.S. Congressmen Jim Turner. Turner declined to seek re-election in 2004. Late last year, however, Bell announced he was considering forming an exploratory committee to run for governor. Turner is reportedly also considering such a run.

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, however, remains a wildcard. He lost the race for Senate in 2002 to then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. Late last year, he announced he would seek the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. However, this week he withdrew to support former U.S. Congressman Martin Frost (D-Oak Cliff).

Former U.S. Congressman Ken Bentsen (D-Houston), nephew of former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, is also a possible contender for the Senate seat. Last Fall, former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes was also mentioned as a possible Senate candidate, but that's unlikely.

On the Republican side, the scinarios regarding who may run for the seat border on dizzying. Aside from Hutchison staying where she is in the Senate, one scinario favored by many Republicans has Hutchison retiring and not running against Perry, and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is also considering a run against Perry, dropping out of that race to seek the Lt. Governor's position held by David Dewhurst. Dewhurst would in turn run for Senate, the position he reportedly favored in 2002 over the one he holds now. Still others favor Dewhurst staying where he is and the outspoken Strayhorn or AG Greg Abbott making a run for Senate.

Speculation regarding which Republicans may seek the U.S. Senate seat in 2006 are almost as dizzying as speculation surrounding which Democrats will run for Governor. Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez, who lost to Perry in 2002; former Texas Comptroller John Sharp (who has lost two races in a row for Lt. Governor); Dallas Mayor Laura Miller; Former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson (who lost to Greg Abbot in the AG's race in 2002); Austin advertising magnate Roy Spence; and Ken Bentsen are all possibilities along with Bell and Turner.


Though a political novice when it comes to electoral politics, Radnofsky--a partner in the prestigious Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins--is no light-weight. A National Merit Scholar, she holds a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Houston (which she entered at age 16) and a Doctor of Jurisprudence with Honors from the University of Texas School of Law. With more than 140 publications and speeches to her credit in the U.S. and abroad, Radnofsky has also been named Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas. All this has helped her earn the catch phrase, "tough name, smart dame," which she used on the stump last year.

In addition, she has a lengthy record of community service including as a Board Member of the Friends World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, on which she serves at the request of the discoverer of the AIDS virus, Professor Luc Montagnier. She also serves as vice chair of the Anti-Defamation League for the Southwest Region as well as a Board Member of the Friends of the Texas Medical Center Library. She's taught mediation to public school, Upward Bound, and developmentally disabled students. Her husband, Ed Supkis, ia a medical doctor.

Her 25-year legal career has seen her gain certification in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Trial law from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She has served as lead counsel in trials ranging from commercial dispute and medical malpractice to contractual indemnity, false arrest and malicious prosecution. From 2001 to 2003, she served as Chairman of the American Bar Association's Managed Care Litigation Section Subcommittee.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 02:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Is Representative Democracy Dead in Texas?

By Byron LaMasters

Via Kuff,, Keir Murray of Houtopia writes of speaking with an unnamed state senator who says the Texas House GOP is likely to seat Heflin, dump Vo, and get on with the people's business:

I spoke last night with a state senator, who shall remain nameless, who now believes the State House GOP may decide to seat Heflin and bump Vo out, overturning Vo's legitimate win in District 149. Like most folks familiar with the Legislature, until recently he didn't think there was any chance of that happening. He's changed his mind. The reasoning is as follows:

The legislative session begins next week, and Democratic House members begin baiting Craddick from the back microphone -- "Mr. Speaker, if you are indicted, will you step down from your leadership post?" -- and so on. The session quickly dissolves into a partisan lockdown, and Vo loses on a party-line vote.

Sound far-fetched? Think for a moment about what the GOP, at both the state and federal level, has had the audacity to do in the last couple of years -- redistricting, ethics changes, now trying to eliminate the filibuster from the U.S. Senate, etc -- and you may reach the same conclusion the state senator has. "These guys just don't give a sh*t." Bad press? Who cares. Public outrage? They'll get over it. Politically dangerous? Not a chance -- all we have to do is win a GOP primary anyway. Democratic retribution? (After several moments of laughter) Who?

The senator (and I) believe the GOP will make every attempt to do this for one reason, they can. They have the votes and they value power above all else. If they can take a little bit more, they will, integrity and the public be damned.

The short term consequence of such action would be rather minimal. Democrats would be outraged, Asian-Americans would be outraged, and Talmadge Heflin would get his butt kicked in 2006. The long term consequences would probably see an alienation of the Asian-American community in Houston from the Republican Party for a generation, and significant challenges to Martha Wong and Joe Nixon for years to come. Is one seat really worth it to Republicans? Yeah, probably. They don't care. They consider lots of new people registering to vote to be a voting irregularity. They hate Democracy, and they've decided that Democrats are irrelevant.

More thoughts about this with Greg, Kuff and Houtopia.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:59 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thus Saith DeLay

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

This morning, I recieved several e-mails from Democratic lists I'm on attacking Tom DeLay over a scripture reading during the Congressional Prayer Service earlier this week. Always weary of e-mail rumors from listservs, I decided to investigate further to see if Tom DeLay did, in fact, hop on the Religious High-Horse. Sure enough, he did.

The only major media outlet I could find mentioning Tom DeLay reading scripture which many are interpreting as him saying the Tsunami victims got what they deserved was the "Quick Takes" column in the Chicago Sun-Times, which noted: "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [read] from Scripture at [the]Congressional Prayer Breakfast Wednesday comparing those not faithful to Christianity to "a fool who built his house on sand," noting that "the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined."

Why has the mainstream media been silent on DeLay's latest gaffe?

Bloggers have been far from slient on the issue. Via various bloggers like American Coprophagia, we know that DeLay read the following scripture, but I'm unsure of the version of the bible he used (it appears to be the King James Version):

"Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?

"Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you: depart from me, you evil doers.'"

Everyone who listens to these words of mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man, who built his house on a rock:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set solidly on rock.

And everyone who listens to these words of mine, but does not act on them, will be like a fool who built his house on sand:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined."

Scott over at DemWatch had this to say about DeLay's latest folly:

I know what it sounds like DeLay is referring to. A Christian nation is like a house built on a rock -- solid. A non-Christian nation is foolish, built on a foundation of sand. That's rhetoric I don't agree with one iota, but still just metaphoric rhetoric. But in the aftermath of the recent Indian Ocean tsunami, with so many houses collapsed and completely ruined when the floods came, in a largely non-Christian part of the world, it's rhetoric that is completely unacceptable. Tom DeLay is either blindingly stupid or heartlessly cruel. Either way, he should be ashamed of himself.

Oddly enough, right-wing Focus on the Family stayed away from the DeLay affair entirely when it published its sappy press release about the Congressional prayer service.

You can view the entire prayer service via C-Span. You can also right click on this link to save an MP3 of DeLay's reading, via DemWatch.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County. He is a regular contributor to the Political State Report and founder of the now discontinued Texas politics blog, Free State Standard. He and his two dogs, Ellie and Lyndon, reside in Canton.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 01:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Warner 2008?

By Byron LaMasters

He's a southern governor, the only winning strategy for Democrats in the past 40 years for the presidential ticket, so take a look at Draft Mark Warner.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:14 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Mandela speaks out on HIV/AIDS

By Zach Neumann

Nelson Mandela once again displayed the courage and resolve that made him famous. The NY Times reports:

Nelson Mandela, who has devoted much of his life after leaving South Africa's presidency to a campaign against AIDS, said Thursday that his son had died of the disease in a Johannesburg clinic. The son, Makgatho L. Mandela, 54, had been seriously ill for more than a month, but the nature of his ailment had not been made public before his death on Thursday. At a news conference in the garden of his Johannesburg home, the elder Mr. Mandela said he was disclosing the cause of his son's death to focus more attention on AIDS, which is still a taboo topic among many South Africans. To keep the illness secret would wrongly imply that it is shameful, he said. "That is why I have announced that my son has died of AIDS," he said. "Let us give publicity to H.I.V./AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of H.I.V./AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary."

I am glad to see prominent African leaders being upfront about the HIV/AIDS crisis. I hope that Mandela’s behavior will inspire others to take a more personal approach to victims.

Posted by Zach Neumann at 02:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bush Election Certified, But Not Without Dispute

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

For the first time since 1977, the U.S. House and Senate were forced to separately debate the Electoral College vote count following challenges by Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California. Though the results were never in doubt, two Texans--Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) were among the 31 House members who voted against certifying the results.

The Houston Chronicle notes:

The Democrats said they were not disputing the election outcome, in which Ohio's 20 electoral votes went to Bush and tipped the balance of the national election against Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

Rather, they said they wanted to press Congress to fix what they called a flawed election system that led to voter disenfranchisement in Florida in 2000, and in Ohio and perhaps other states last year.

"We, as a Congress, have an obligation to step up to the plate and correct (irregularities)," said Tubbs Jones.

Of course, Republicans including none other than U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land), were appalled:

"Rather than substantive debate, Democrat leaders are still adhering to a failed strategy of spite, obstruction and conspiracy theories," DeLay said.

The Senate voted 74-1 to uphold the election results, with Boxer casting the only dissenting vote. The House voted 267-31.

The challenge to the Ohio vote began in the House, after Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and Congressional Black Caucus members raised questions about inadequate and jammed voting machines in Democratic precincts, the Chron noted.

Interestingly, Boxer and other Dems agree that a stronger election challenge would have been had four years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court cast the deciding votes in Bush vs. Gore. Boxer said she didn't challenge the election in 2001 because Gore asked her not to.

John Kerry was absent from the Senate Thursday while touring in Iraq, but said he supported a close examination of the Ohio vote.

The last time the House and Senate were required to separately debate the electoral vote in 1877, when Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 02:02 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sleepless Winter Book Tour: Birmingham

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'm reporting in for Day 2 of the Sleepless Winter Book Tour with Scott Goldstein, 19 year old author of The Tea is in the Harbor ($8.96), a book on Democracy, the Dean Campaign, and the future of our country. I was asked to write a subchapter for the book, and have now joined him on the second half of his tour. Complete schedule is here. Our next meeting will be Friday evening, in Atlanta, at...

Quaker Meeting House - 7 PM
701 West Howard Ave, Decatur Georgia 30030

But as for today, we departed from Nashville around noon, traveling south to Birmingham. We made a noticeable transition into Alabama when the Interstate suddenly became very poor in condition and a billboard asked us... "Are you going to Heaven or Hell? Follow the straight and narrow path!"

But Birmingham is not like the rest of the state. The part of the city we traveled through was quite urban, and reminded me a bit of Austin, as if this was the closest thing to it in this state.

Before we went to the event held at the Safari Cup Coffee Shop (a wonderful place owned by what seemed to be a South African), Scott and I walked downtown towards the historic 16th Street Baptist Church (picture there). As we were crossing the memorial park, the most interesting event occurred.

A homeless African American man named Juan, noticed us looking at the MLK, Jr. Statue and approached us. He began to tell us about it, and then proceeded to tell us about the park, and the symbolism of all the statues there. From what we could gather he was quite young at the time, six or so maybe, and went to school nearby. We told us about the Children's March, and the dogs, and the Historic Black Business District, and the history behind a number of the building in the nearby area. He spoke from experience and the heart, and pointed out the cracks still visible on parts of the Baptist Church. It was something that cannot be described very well in words, and less so in pictures, though I do have some which are posted in this gallery of pictures from the Tour so far. It was one of those experiences that you don't forget, and could never plan or expect to have in life. He just asked that we remember, and in return we offered him some cash in return. Sharing his story, for now, is his way of sleeping each night.

Soon after that, we were back at the Coffee house for the Book Tour stop. Over a dozen people were there, progressives from the local area, a more urban and younger leaning crowd than in Nashville, people concerned about their party and their state. These are not people who have given up home because they are in Alabama, but they are people quite dissatisfied with the way their state party is run, though they have more confidence in the Jefferson County Party apparatus.

Scott and I will of course be taking on our collective knowledge on the tour to Atlanta tomorrow and to the DNC meeting Saturday. Until then, and with the hope I find Internet access once more, goodnight.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

DNC Candidate Meetings

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

So far, the following is what I am aware of as far as candidate meetings in Atlanta. More may appear, and if you know of any, please leave a comment.

DNC Caucus Held in Atlanta at...
Sheraton Gateway Hotel
1900 Sullivan Road
5:30PM - 7:00PM

Howard Dean
Private Event on Friday (7th) around 3-4 p.m.
I'll be there for Burnt Orange Report

Simon Rosenberg
Saturday, January 8, 2005
10:30 am – 11:30 am
1900 Bar and Grille
Sheraton Gateway Hotel
RSVP event, not sure if public

Donnie Fowler
Saturday, January 8
Noon - 12:45 PM
Sheraton Gateway Suite 1034
public, open to "grassroots and netroots activists"

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Drink More Libertarian Kool-Aid Or Else

By Jim Dallas

The Wall Street Journal informs us that America has slipped six places in the "Economic Freedom Index" since George W. Bush took office in 2001:

For the first time in the 11 years that the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have been publishing the Index of Economic Freedom, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 freest economies in the world.

In 1998, the U.S. was the fifth freest economy in the world, in 2001 it was sixth, and today it sits at 12th, tied with Switzerland. The U.S. drop in ranking is explained in part by a slightly lower score, but mostly by the good performance among its competitors. The lesson? Stand still on the highway to economic liberty and the world will soon start to pass you by.

The 2005 Index, released today, ranks Hong Kong once again as the world's freest economy, followed by Singapore and Luxembourg. But it is Estonia at No. 4 that makes the point. This former Soviet satellite is a model reformer, setting the standard for how fast countries can move ahead in the realm of economic liberalization. Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., Denmark, Iceland, Australia and Chile, all relatively recent converts to free markets, also outpace the U.S. this year.

Incidentally, it seems that the tax cut juju isn't making us more free:

Most alarming is the U.S.'s fiscal burden, which imposes high marginal tax rates for individuals and very high marginal corporate tax rates. In terms of corporate taxation as an element of economic freedom, the U.S. ranks a lowly 112th out of the 155 countries scored, and its top individual tax rate ranks only slightly better at 82nd. U.S. government expenditures as a share of GDP increased less in 2003 than in 2002, but the rise since 2001 is what explains the U.S.'s decline in score over the period.

The Wall Street Journal also expresses shock and horror over such communistic ideas as corporate responsibility and not being raped by the global economy:

The U.S., with its strong property rights, low inflation and competitive banking and finance laws, scores well in most. But worrying developments like Sarbanes-Oxley in the category of regulation and aggressive use of antidumping law in trade policy have kept it from keeping pace with the best performers in economic freedom.

Somehow, I get the idea that the slippage will (1) be treated as a major catastrophe in Washington; and (2) is largely the product of ever-more ridiculous expectations by ascendant market fundamentalists. But you know, gotta keep up with the Joneses.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

DNC Regional Meetings

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Southern Caucus Meeting
Saturday, January 8th
Sheraton Gateway Hotel
1900 Sullivan Road
Atlanta, GA 30337
5:30PM - 7:00PM

(Attending in Atlanta will be me for Burnt Orange Report, Georgia's Blog for Democracy and Scrutiny Hooligans.

Midwestern Caucus Meeting
Saturday, January 15
St. Louis, Missouri
(no other information yet)

Western Caucus Meeting
Saturday, January 22
Radisson Hotel
500 Leisure Lane
Sacramento, CA
1:00 PM - ?

Eastern Regional Caucus
Saturday, Jan. 29th
Roosevelt Hotel
Madison Ave at 45th St.
New York City
10 AM- 12 PM
To attend, apparently you must register with the NY state Dem party

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I didn't know that they existed...

By Byron LaMasters

Wow. A liberal, homeschooling mom in Texas with a blog. Not something that you see everyday...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rose Bowl Pictures

By Byron LaMasters

I finally sent myself the cell phone camera pictures that I took at the Rose Bowl. They're tiny, but a few of them turned out.

Here's a few taken at the end of the game after the Longhorn's winning field goal:

Here's pictures of two fourth quarter Longhorn drives:

A third quarter Michigan drive:

And the pregame flyovers:

For some better Rose Bowl pictures, here's some places to check out:

Boi From Troy
Mack Brown Texas Football
Austin American Statesman
Lynxus Domain
Burnt Orange Fan Zone

That's about all that I can find except for Laura Bush and the President showing their support. Laura got her master's degree at UT, but George? He's no Texas fan. That's a bunch of bull. George's a Yalie, not a Longhorn. We rejected him, but not his daughter. Hehe.

Update: More pictures at Prochein Amy via Trackback.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Mark Strama's Statement on the Withdraw of Jack Stick's Election Contest

By Byron LaMasters

It's kind of long, so check it out in the extended entry...

After hiring lawyers, political consultants, phone banks, and even a private investigator – and after accusing thousands of Travis County residents of criminal voting behavior – Jack Stick has finally withdrawn his effort to overturn the outcome of the November election.

In deposition testimony last week, Stick admitted that he could not provide evidence to substantiate even one example of his allegations of illegal voting. Yet, though he has withdrawn his contest, Stick continues to challenge the integrity of the election and refuses to concede that he lost. See the Austin American Statesman's coverage here.

Before we put this issue entirely to bed, we should pause for a minute to take pride in some of Stick's more outlandish accusations in his election contest. Below is an actual quote from his legal petition to overturn the will of the voters:

"Contestant alleges the registration of 2,300 voters on the last possible registration date, and 8,000 voters within the 90 days prior to the election, is so implausible that it represents violations of [...] the Texas Election Code and is part of a pattern of conduct designed to alter the outcome of the election."

You bet it was part of a pattern of conduct to alter the outcome of the election! But there's nothing illegal about getting new people to the polls – it's the right thing to do, and it made the difference in this election. Those of you who worked so hard in our grassroots effort to turn out the vote in this election should consider Stick's protest the highest compliment!

Stick also alleged that the high number of straight-ticket voters indicated some sort of fraud. He failed to check that in House District 50, there were actually hundreds more Republican straight-ticket voters than Democratic straight-ticket voters!

As hard as it may be for him to believe, Stick lost because voters wanted a state representative who would focus on the issues that are important to the people, rather than on partisan political power struggles – like last session's redistricting fiasco. And instead of absorbing that lesson and moving on, Stick launched yet another partisan power play.

The good news is, my Republican colleagues in the coming legislative session show every sign of wanting to focus on the voters' priorities this session. The Republican "Master of Discovery," Representative Will Hartnett, did a great job managing the process of gathering evidence – and pointed out on more than one occasion that most of Stick's case appeared to be based "entirely on speculation."

I am encouraged by the way the Contest was handled that we can achieve speedy resolution to the two remaining election contests in Houston and South Texas, and approach the serious challenges facing the state with the bipartisanship and deliberation the people of Texas deserve.


Mark Strama

[I've omitted the second half of the email which has swearing-in and office information.]

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let Me Bump Up Our Ashlee Simpson Traffic...

By Andrew Dobbs

Interestingly enough, I used to go to the same church as Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, as they are from Richardson, TX. I never knew them, but interestingly enough their father was a pastor there (the youth minister) and he baptized me when I was 16.

That's right- the man who sired two emptyheaded sexpots who use foul language on national television was the minister who baptized me. That explains why I despise them so much- while I am certainly not a pure person, I expect those called by God to the ministry to be (as much as is possible) and when a minister who was an integral part of one of the most important decisions of my entire life turns his back on those ethics in order to personally profit off his own daughters' sexuality ("Rev." Joe Simpson is their father and manager), I take offense.

So go Orange Bowl attendees for booing Ashlee Simpson. Perhaps this turn for the worse in her career will convince her Dad of the error of his ways.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 05:44 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The Koufax Awards

By Byron LaMasters

Cool. We got nominated for a Koufax award, the premier lefty blog award (no offense to The View From the Left). BOR was nominated for Best Group Blog. Other categories include Best Overall Blog (by a non-professional) and Most Humorous Blog. You are allowed to vote once for each category in the comments section. We would certainly appreciate any votes for BOR in the Best Group Blog category, but there are a number of other well-deserving blogs in that category as well, so vote for your favorite. Vote here.

Update: Wow. Another nomination for Best Single Issue blog (Texas Politics). Lots of well-deserving blogs in that category as well, including several of interest to Texas readers - Off the Kuff, The Daily DeLay and Grits for Breakfast. Vote here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Oh, fudge

By Jim Dallas

The New Republic has got a story up debunking the allegedly wide-spread belief that global warming is related to last month's tsunami.

I'm not sure how wide-spread this actually is (and I only get to see the first couple grafs, since I haven't been crazy enough to, you know, actually subscribe to TNR in years).

Nonetheless, the fact that such a story exists in an occasionally-respectable magazine greatly reduces my faith in humanity.

FYI, tsunamis are low-frequency waves generated (usually) by seismic activity. In other words the earth shakes, and the ocean sloshes around. None of this has anything to do with greenhouse gases.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Color me Amused

By Byron LaMasters

Since last night, traffic at BOR has been about twice our average amount. Why, you ask? Our coverage of the DNC race? News about Jack Stick's contest? Our coverage of the Ohio challenge, Karl-Thomas's Sleepless Winter Tour, or our Koufax Award nomination?

No, no, no. Don't be silly. Our traffic is up because everyone is doing a Google Search on Ashlee Simpson getting booed at the Orange Bowl. Sorry to disappoint, but check out Boi From Troy's take on Ashlee Simpson getting booed and his Orange Bowl recap if you're interested.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

DNC Chair Liveblogging

By Byron LaMasters

Annatopia is liveblogging a blogger conference call with DNC Chair candidate Simon Rosenberg. Some interesting material there...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gonzales Hearing Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Read all about the confirmation hearings for Al "Torture" Gonzales here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Congresswoman Tubbs, D-OH, managed to talk Sen. Barbara Boxer into signing the written objection withher when Ohio's ballots wer being certified during the joint session. I'm watching the 2-hour debate in the House right now. Some Democrats are debating that the objection is right because of voting irregularities that they want addressed, knowing full well that they are not going to overturn the election. And then some Republicans are talking about demagoguery and comparing certain congressmen to Michael Moore because they are extremists.

So this is either a really good day for democracy or a really bad day. It'll probably be a while before I'm sure which one.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 12:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ohio Electoral Votes Challenged

By Byron LaMasters

I'll probably get bored with it soon, but I'm flipping between the House and Senate debates on C-SPAN. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) and Sen. Barbara Boxer signed the objection to Ohio's electoral votes forcing each chamber to seperately debate the claims. I'm basically indifferent towards the challenge - I think that there were serious problems with the vote in Ohio, but not enough to have changed the outcome. However, if such a challenge raises awareness on electoral reform, then I guess it could do some good. There was legitimate cause to challenge Florida's electoral votes in 2000, and it's a shame that no senator stepped forward then, but this time there doesn't seem to be much point.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:38 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 05, 2005

Sleepless Winter Tour: Nashville

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I flew into Nashville this afternoon, after a slight rain delay and being pulled aside for a security screening in Austin. Of course, I seem to get pulled aside for security checks most of the time, I'm not sure why, but I did have a good chat with the 70 year old in a wheel chair who was pulled aside right after me. Together we must have been a formidable duo in attempting to take down national security.

I met up with Scott Goldstein and his sister at the airport and continued on to the SEIU local #205 for the night's book tour stop. About a dozen people gathered, including the interim state director Mark Naccarto for Democracy for Tennesee.

Scott should soon have a report up on Blog for America, so I can offer a couple thoughts on events in Tennessee. Like other places, former Dean people have managed to gain a level of control over their couny apparatus, but at the state level, less so. Still, and this seems to be something that Scott has found so far, at the local level, the greatest complaint with the party is that there is not enough support for the county operations. But the DFT folks here are running people for local officers, such as Road Board, and understand the idea that sometimes you have to simply start running candidates, even if they lose, and then have them run again, and again, building the base and the local party.

Of course, in many counties in Texas, we are not even running people against Republicans, but if we start to, or even run people for non-partisan offices, we can build up candidates that have bonded with their communities just like the Republicans did 20 and 30 years ago.

It is indeed early in the trip, but I feel that "All politics is local" might be one of the themes that develop.

So, tomorrow night (Thursday) we will be in Birmingham, Alabama at 7 pm. Come see us, or buy the Tea is in the Harbor at...

Safari Cup Coffee Shop
300 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N
Birmingham, Al 35023

Upcoming Tour Schedule

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 11:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is liberal democracy three laws safe?

By Jim Dallas

I'm not providing an answer to that question, but I will note that watching I, Robot on DVD was more than a little bit like sitting through the political philosophy course I took in college.

Of course, further reading only brought up more flashbacks from lectures about social contracts and consent-based government.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Everything in a nutshell

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Over at Political Animal Kevin Drum has some nice visual aids that explain why the possible Bush plan for Social Security "reform" doesn't actually improve the system.

Kevin uses the Congressional Budget Office's own projections and comparisons to Plan 2, which is what is widely believed to be the foundation of Bush's partial-privatization scheme. Assuming the CBO's conservative projections of economic growth hold true. Assuming the SS trust fund goes bankrupt in 2053 and benfits are suddenly cut by 20%, you're still going to be better off with traditional Social Security than with Plan 2's draconian cuts due to price indexing and private accounts.

I think the economy is going to grow more than the CBO's projection, I think the revenue base will expand and I think we will eventually start paying down the deficit with surpluses again making traditional Social Security all but immortal. Give it a sword and push it off a cliff, it will still be around.

AARP held a press conference today to discuss their legislative agenda for the year and they put Social Security at the top of the list. Their Web site has some suggestions as to what should be done to "strengthen" Social Security and not dismantle it. They are advocating minor changes phased in over a long period of time to balance out the equation, which fiscally makes sense to me.

Also, hat tip to Greg for pointing out that some of us are happy that the DLC and Third Way are opposed to privatization.

Guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Update on the Withdraw of Jack Stick's Contest

By Byron LaMasters

KXAN has an article with more details here. Stick is still whining that too many people voted, but he's at least sort of accepting the results of the election now.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 07:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What about Timmy?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

With all this talk about Frost's sudden consolidation of support, Fowler campaigning hard and Murtha supporting Dean, we've forgotten about Tim Roemer.

Roemer has two people supporting him that show, ithink, the kind of battle the DNC chair race really is. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi seem to be the only ones endorsing him, and they're the suits. What most people seem to want is a change, something anti-establishment. That's not Roemer.

Josh Marshall also points to two votes Roemer made as a congressman that point to why he definitely should not be in a leadership position.

Roemer was one of the Democrats that voted against the Clinton budget of 1993 -- the one that in the end won by a single vote and cost Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky and so many others their seats. (Not just the big vote, but a number that led up to it.) Then he was one of an even smaller number of Democrats who voted for President Bush's 2001 Budget bill. If I'm not mistaken, he was one of only 9 Dems in the House to vote to make the Bush cuts permanent the following year.

That really leaves us with Dean, Frost, Fowler and Rosenberg. I haven't really heard much from Rosenberg. He's had a lot of support from bloggers, but he seems to have fallen prey to the early-frontrunner syndrome. Talk of him burned out too early while Dean hasn't really made a move to run or announce that he is not running, thus leaving us anticipating it. He learned his lesson. I had all but discounted Frost, but I'm glad to see him still maneuvering like a skilled politician.

The way I see it now, Roemer is the congressional leadership's choice because they want to have control over the DNC's money. I think the Anybody but Dean group will put their support behind Frost because he is a little bit reform a little bit establishment. Dean will have support from those who want serious changes while Rosenberg and Fowler will siphon votes away from him. That leaves us with a Frost chair, which should make some BOR readers happy.

Of course, there is still lots of time before the DNC members vote and I've got to do what I can to win that bet with Andrew.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

IF only I had the time

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Christie Todd Whitman's new book looks like it blasts Bush and Rove and paints the Republicans as being run by "extremists." I think it is because of the way she was portrayed in Price of Loyalty and her appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher, but I've always kind of like Whitman. Sure she's Republican scum, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends, does it.

Seriously though, I'm going to have to find some free time and read this book. Books by ex-Cabinet officials are always interesting to me and this one is not to be missed.

Via PolitcalWire.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 06:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson: It's still Tuesday in the 5th Dimension

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Tomorrow should be Tucker Carlson's last day at the ill-fated Crossfire. CNN's new president apparently wanted to keep Bow Tie Boy on by giving him his own show, but TVNewser is reporting that Carlson will be getting his own show in the 9 PM timeslot (that's 8 PM for us in Texas) at MSNBC. So he'll be replacing Deborah Norville, which is good because she sucks. I watched her show once before the election. She had a segment on 'Security Moms' and how they were going to swing the election for Bush because security was the president's strongest hand. The security mom favoring Kerry was more worried about the war in Iraq and that mess, the security mom for Bush was not that concerned about security and the poll in the women's magazine she cited showed most women were concerned about Iraq and Health Care. Terrorism was rated fifth. So I'll be glad to see her go.

That does mean a lot more Tucker, though, and he just upsets me so much sometimes. When he made that "jacuzzi case" comment about the little girl who was evicerated by a defective pool filter and was represented by John Edwards, I literally started throwing stuff at the TV and yelling very ugly words.

Hopefully, without Bob Novak's bad influences he'll mellow out a little, and so will I. However, if he wears that damned bow tie every day, I might write a letter of complaint.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 06:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stick Withdraws Election Challenge

By Andrew Dobbs

Just saw this come up on Quorum Report. It says that he withdrew the challenge but "wants House to consider voting irregularities." Details are to follow soon. Keep checking BOR for your 100% free updates on Texas politics.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 02:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Slap me silly

By Jim Dallas

I was in the Houston airport a few days ago and saw the cover of this year's Time "Person of the Year" edition. I thought it was pretty cheesy to call Bush an "American Revolutionary." I didn't buy it though, because I'm more of a Newsweek person and also I was running short on cash.

Matt Taibbi, via James Wolcott, on the other hand, did buy the magazine, and here's what he has to say:

Every damned year we go through this.

But this year, Taibbi writes, was the worst.

"The 'Person of the Year' issue has always been a symphonic tribute to the heroic possibilities of pompous sycophancy, but the pomposity of this year's issue bests by a factor of at least two or three the pomposity of any previous issue. From the Rushmorean cover portrait of Bush (which over the headline 'An American Revolutionary' was such a brazen and transparent effort to recall George Washington that it was embarrassing) to the 'Why We Fight' black-and-white portraiture of the aggrieved president sitting somberly at the bedside of the war-wounded, this issue is positively hysterical in its iconolatry. One even senses that this avalanche of overwrought power worship is inspired by the very fact of George Bush's being such an obviously unworthy receptacle for such attentions. From beginning to end, the magazine behaves like a man who knocks himself out making an extravagant six-course candlelit dinner for a blow-up doll, in an effort to convince himself he's really in love.

Now I'm thinking I should have bought the magazine just to see the train wreck myself.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Morrison Gears Up for 2006

By Byron LaMasters

Richard Morrison all but announced another run at Tom DeLay in 2006 in his fundraising email yesterday. I'm pleased to hear the news. Morrison was one of those candidatates that started off a bit slow, but got better with time. He gave Tom DeLay his first real challenge in years, and laid the groundwork for another run. This time, he'll have 23 months to raise funds and build up an organization, as opposed to about six months last time - Morrison wasn't really taken seriously until around last May. It's an uphill battle, but Morrison has developed significantly as a candidate, and we can count on Tom DeLay to continue his ethically challenged behavior. Speaking of DeLay, check out David Donnelly's column in the Houston Chronicle today:

Monday's stunning reversal by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and the Republicans in Congress on the so-called DeLay Rule caught all by surprise, including those of us in the midst of the effort to hold politicians accountable for these types of actions.

But it shouldn't have. There are three reasons why DeLay caved on the provision, which was enacted by the House Republican conference back in mid-November and was designed to protect him if he gets indicted for his role in the on-going investigation into corporate fund-raising in Texas politics: constituent anger; a measurable rebellion among House members that emboldened House Democrats; and the growing sense that DeLay is becoming politically radioactive. [...]

Faced with citizen pressure from all over the country, DeLay blinked. The first reason he did was that members of Congress were hearing from constituents that they didn't like the DeLay Rule. One member of Congress, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., summed it up in two words: Constituents reacted.

Fueled by bloggers, enterprising journalists and public interest groups, thousands of constituents called members of Congress throughout November and December to ask where they stood on the DeLay Rule vote. The issue wasn't going away.

The second reason DeLay & Co. backtracked was that they simply didn't have the votes to win on the floor of the House. While the DeLay Rule only applied to Republicans, Democrats smelled an opportunity and were preparing a straight up-or-down vote on whether House rules would allow any member of Congress to maintain a position in leadership after being indicted. That vote was to have happened Tuesday, the day after DeLay proposed revoking his rule. [...]

Lastly, DeLay's capitulation in the face of pressure signals his increasingly negative public image, and the rising wariness moderate Republicans and those in competitive districts have about being too closely associated with him. In short, in the past DeLay's ability to raise big money was an unqualified plus. Now it is becoming more of an ethical albatross. In the words of Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., "I feel like we have just taken a shower."

Let's send Tom DeLay to the showers in 2006. Donate to Richard Morrison today.

More from the Houston Chronicle editorial board, the Daily DeLay and Off the Kuff.

For the full text of the Morrison email, jump to the extended entry:

When I sent the last email of our 2004 campaign to unseat Tom DeLay, I said it would only be the beginning.

We were just getting started.

To jumpstart our new challenge to DeLay, please click here to contribute.

Holding DeLay to his narrowest win ever was only the beginning.

Compelling him to stop backing a chemical company that wanted to freight hazardous cargo on a rail-line thru the heart of area neighborhoods in Clear Lake was only the beginning.

Forcing him to outspend me almost 10 to 1 was only the beginning.

This time we're starting early, we're staying on his trail, we're working the district and we're going to win. When we win, District 22 will have a representative in Washington who will serve the interests of the people, not the corrupt corporations.

In 2004, over 10,000 patriotic Americans donated almost $500,000 to this campaign. If each of you can recruit one person, in the next two years, 20,000 of us can raise enough money to defeat a weakened DeLay.

Since the election, DeLay and the House GOP have stayed in the papers by shamelessly watering down House ethics rules. But just last night, DeLay reversed course and asked GOP members to undo the "DeLay Rule" that would have allowed him to keep his position even if indicted. This is a clear indicator that he knows he has overreached.

By keeping the campaign going non-stop for the next 23 months we can:

Keep him honest in Washington.

Make him responsive to constituents at home by pounding the message that a Congressman should serve the people of his district, not corporate contributors.

Build Democratic strength and organization in Texas.

And most importantly, we can end the reign of the most corrupt machine politician of the last one hundred years.

With your help, we can win this race, please click here to contribute:

Fight on,
Richard Morrison

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 02:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Judge Mack Kidd

By Byron LaMasters

I didn't know him, but he was the former Travis County Democratic Party Chair, and was serving as a Justice of the 3rd District, Court of Appeals in Austin. Here's the message from the current Travis County Democratic Chair Chris Elliott on Judge Mack Kidd:

Tuesday, January 4, 2005 Travis County Loses a Great Man and a Great Democrat With the sudden passing of Mack Kidd, Justice of the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Austin, Travis County has lost one of its finest jurists and a loyal Democrat. "Justice Kidd was a great judge, a staunch Democrat and, most of all, a wonderful human being," said Travis County Democratic Party chair Chris Elliott. "It was my great pleasure to know Mack on a personal as well as a professional level. It is difficult to convey how much respect I had for him." Justice Kidd was a former chair of the Travis County Democratic Party and was active in local, state, and national Democratic Party affairs. But, says Elliott, he left his politics at the courtroom door. "While Judge Kidd was a proud Democrat, he did not let politics enter into his decisions on the 3rd Court of Appeals," said Elliott. "He had a keen sense of justice and applied that to his work on the Court. He will be greatly missed."

The makeup of the 3rd Court of appeals remained three Democrats and three Republicans after the 2004 elections where Democrat Jan Patterson and Repulican Bob Pemberton retained their seats. Rick Perry will surely appoint a Republican to shift the balance of the court to 4-2 GOP.

Update: More at Grits for Breakfast. I certainly join Grits in wishing the family of Judge Kidd my condolences.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 01:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


By Jim Dallas

I've always found Social Security discussions to be a fun parlor game. So please forgive me for continuing on with my half-baked musing on the topic.

The real battle-line right now seems to be forming over the re-indexing of benefits, from wage indexing to price indexing. Because we're told (although I'm somewhat suspicious given recent economic conditions, and because I am an awful pessimist) that wages will grow faster than prices, changing from one to the other will necessarily result in a reduction, over time, of promised benefits.

We're apparently calling this a "cut", although that's sort of like George Bush calling not-making-his-tax-cuts-permanent a "tax increase." At any rate, I'm satisfied in knowing that fixed benefits for someone of my age will probably be less under any Bush plan than under the status quo (with or without an influx of cash). For what it's worth, though, current seniors probably won't see much of a difference if the only reduction in benefits comes from a change in indexing, since the difference takes years - decades - to accrue.

Ironically, for many moons we have heard that Social Security privatization was about "saving the children," but the children will end up bearing most of the cost of "reform." Although "reduced" benefits may very well end up being about the same as today's, I would prefer to think that the world is getting better.

Anyway - I think there's an important nuance that's getting missed though in the current debate over indexing, and it is this -- that not once in the history of Social Security (or any other program that I can think of) has the United States government made a reform that stuck for 60 or 70 years.

From the 1940s until the late 1970s, Congress made an almost-annual ritual out of increasing the genrosity of Social Security benefits, and in fact this may very well of helped keep Democrats afloat for so many years. These expansions were not entirely done in a fiscally responsible manner, and the result was the last Social Security crisis, which was actually a crisis, in 1983.

For twenty years Congress has been amazingly steadfast in not tinkering with Social Security (except around the margins); but of course as Groucho Marx noted, "politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies." And that leads us to the current situation in Washington.

How long, exactly, does any reasonable person think that any new "grand consensus" (which, given the high likelihood of near-total Democratic opposition)would survive, before Congress raised benefits or did someother such pandering (for better or worse)?

Talking about the distant future is always going to be a parlor game, because you've got several intervening generations of politicians to muck everything up.

Incidentally, where's my bleepin' flying car? And why haven't robots enslaved humanity (yet)?

I'm sure 70 years from now, we'll all look back (god willing I'm still here) and laugh about how ridiculous the entire 2005 Social Security debate was. Provided of course that we haven't been enslaved by robots (yet).

Please keep this in mind.

At any rate, I think a more compelling argument for rejecting private accounts as a silver bullet is that it relies on incoherent, internally contradictory economic assumptions.

Why debate the detailed merits of a program that casual observation would suggest won't even get off the ground? This is like debating how far a penguin can fly.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Scandal in State Agencies

By Andrew Dobbs

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of posting lately. My personal computer is on the fritz and I try not to post too much from work, but this story is a big one that people need to hear about, so I'm going to put it out there.

On Sunday and Monday of this week the Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratcliffe put out two stories detailing widespread cronyism and corruption in at least two state agencies- the Department of Health and Human Services and the Texas Workforce Commission.

From Sunday's article:

When Deputy Health and Human Services Commissioner Gregg Phillips and private consultant Chris Britton helped write the $1 billion legislation to privatize Texas' human services system, they apparently did so partly with an eye on profit — their own.

A Houston Chronicle investigation into the activities of Britton, Phillips and Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director Larry Temple found weaknesses in Texas ethics laws concerning conflicts of interests and cronyism. Their relationships and how they benefited from state business illustrate how Texas law has overlooked the power of lower-level bureaucrats who are often charged with crafting laws.

Current laws force state agency chiefs to disclose their financial interests but do not apply to their subordinates.

And a private consultant such as Britton can help write a state law, then try to profit from it without being subject to either the state's lobby-registration laws or revolving-door prohibitions.

That's just a taste, read the whole thing. On Monday:

During Larry Temple's tenure at the Texas Workforce Commission, the state unemployment agency has become the conduit for more than $4.1 million in state and federal jobs, grants and contracts for friends of his from Mississippi.

Temple began facilitating the flow of government money to one friend's company just months after they worked together on a project in Mississippi.

He directed another Texas job-training grant to a Mississippi nonprofit corporation run by a friend of his mother's.

And his agency hired the ex-wife of the mayor of Vicksburg, Miss., after her divorce.

Temple, the commission's executive director, said he played a role in those situations.

Oh, by the way, that ex-wife of the mayor of Vicksburg also happens to be the sister-in-law of Gregg Phillips- the other main culprit in these crimes.

The articles can be rather complicated and hard to follow everything, so I diagrammed it out the other day and culled the important information. To make it easier, I can give that info, but please read the articles as they are very well written and give a much deeper understanding of the issue.

The story starts in the mid-90s when Gregg Phillips was named the top dog for welfare reform in Mississippi under Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican. His deputy and long-time friend was Larry Temple. In 1995 the Mississippi legislature felt the need to investigate Phillips for a series of questionable activities, first and foremost among them being an $875,000 contract given to a company shortly before Phillips left government to work for that company. The investigation concluded that "Mr. Phillips' actions create the appearance of impropriety, facilitating an erosion of the public trust." Phillips went into the private sector and in 1997 Larry Temple went to Texas to begin working for the Texas Workforce Commission.

In 2000 Phillips started a company called Enterject, Inc. which made its money lobbying for companies seeking Health and Human Services contracts and consulting them on how to win these contracts. His business partner on this deal was a young lady named Paige Harkins. Harkins is the daughter of one Gary Harkins of Mississippi- a close friend of Larry Temple's. Over the last 3 years Temple distributed $2.7 million in job training contracts to clients of Enterject, as well as $670,000 in immigrant labor certificates given to the company when Phillips (who by then was the Deputy Commissioner of Health and Human Services) and former Deputy Chief of Staff to Rick Perry Chris Britton merged his company with Enterject to get a part of this action.

The hiring of Phillips here in Texas occurred in November of 2001, and nobody who would have been a part of his hiring can remember who hired him and each is passing the buck. His personnel file is missing key documents like letters of reccomendation. Its not surprising that they would want to avoid admitting to hiring a guy essentially censured by the Mississippi legislature. Phillips was supposed to cut off all ties to Enterject, which he claims that he did. But Phillips' wife was listed as the #2 person at Enterject (its CFO), their website was registered under the name GHT Development Inc.- which has Gregg Phillips listed as their CEO, and anonymous sources claim that the new head of Enterject- Paige Harkins- could not make any decisions without checking them with Phillips. This would explain the 90 hours of calls he logged to Enterject on his state cell phone and desk phone in a 16 month period. So Phillips was essentially secretly and illegally running a lobbying firm while working as a top official in state government.

Two of his clients- Texas Home Health Care of America and D&S Residential Services Inc.- were awarded $167 million in contracts by Phillips. His former employer DeLoitte Inc. was given a $1.7 million contract and Accenture, a client of Harkins when she started a Texas lobbying firm (while still being essentially employed by Phillips) won a $1.2 million contract. She started this lobbying firm on the express suggestion of Phillips, who told her he could help her set up contracts and set up meetings between her clients and himself. As if all of this weren't enough, he went out of his way to prequalify a company that he was a partner in- Scribe Inc. of Illinois for contracts under HB 2292, the Health and Human Services privatization bill. So literally hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on friends and business associates of Phillips- some of whom were surely kicking back quite a bit of money to the DCHHS.

Temple on the other hand gave an $800,000 contract to an old family friend for job training contracts when the friend had no experience in the business. He gave Phillips' sister-in-law a $55,000 a year job and in between the $670,000 immigrant labor certificates, the $2.7 million in job training grants and $800,000 to his friend in Mississippi, almost $4.2 million was questionably appropriated.

So let's do the final math here. Phillips gave out $167 million to Texas Home Health Care Services of Americ and D&S Services Inc. (two of his clients), $1.7 million to DeLoitte Inc. (former employer) and $1.2 million to Accenture (client of his business partner and subordinate). Temple gave out $4.2 million as we just said. Add it all up and that is $174.1 million given out under highly questionable or outright illegal circumstances. Even if only 5% of that money made it back into Phillips' and Temple's pockets (and that is certainly an underestimate), that is $8.7 million of taxpayer money in the pockets of two "public servants."

This scandal reaches to the top as well. In May of this year Temple's secretary blew the whistle on him, claiming he was giving out state contracts to personal friends. Top state officials appointed an auditor- Jose Garcia- who found absolutely no wrongdoing either ethically or legally. But come only a few months later and little ol' R.G. Ratcliffe, who probably had less access to the information, found $4.2 million worth of shady deals. The term for this is a coverup.

It's like Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting said about who is responsible for Phillips and Temple's hiring and the blind eye turned towards their crimes, "One thing is for sure- it was someone near the top and it was a Republican." How far this one reaches will be interesting to watch. One close personal associate of Rick Perry was involved- Chris Britton became a subcontractor with Enterject in order to win a $670,000 contract given out by Temple to his old friend- and state reps and others are keeping their mouth shut. Ratcliffe reported on Tuesday that the House General Investigating Committee will open an investigation of the scandals during the session. While the committee is chaired (of course) by a Republican, he was prompted to open the investigation by Democrats and seems to be serious about the effort. Keep your eyes open for this one.

I just want to hear a legislator say the words "What did the governor know, and when did he know it?" once this session. If Ratcliffe's work pans out, we might be hearing a lot more than that.

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at 09:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DNC Race and Another Political Adventure

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Democratic Party news for the next month or so will be centered on discussions about where the party needs to go and what it wants to do organizationally as the DNC Chair vote approaches.

Well, being a loyal Burnt Orange Reporter (and the fact that I seem to have this urge to travel the country each January) I'm going East and will be attending the Southern Regional Meeting of the DNC in Atlanta. In stunning DNC speed, the time and location of the meeting had been announced 5 days in advance of the actual meeting.

Thanks to the Blog for Democracy Blog in Georgia...

Mayor Shirley Franklin & the Democratic Party of Georgia is hosting the Southern Regional Meeting of the Democratic National Committee.

The Southern Caucus members of the DNC along with the newly elected Democratic Party of Georgia State Committee Members and the candidates for DNC Chair are the main attendees of this meeting, but as always, Democratic Party events are open to the public.

Here's the date, time, and location:

DNC Southern Caucus Meeting
Saturday, January 8, 2005
Sheraton Gateway Hotel
1900 Sullivan Road
Atlanta, GA 30337
5:30PM - 7:00PM

Here are all the DNC members in the Southern delegation. From Texas, member David Holmes will actually be attending the Wednesday (Jan 5) Democracy for Texas MeetUp at Sholtz at 7 p.m. before he heads out. Ron Kirk, who dropped out and endorsed Frost today, is a DNC member himself.

The official Dean Blog has been quite silent on the issue, offering us such choice nuggets as...Governor Dean continues to hear from people across the country about the race, and is making calls seeking advice. Stay tuned for more news about the race and thoughts on the future of our party. If he's learned anything, it's not to be the frontrunner for any office at the beginning of January. Ha.

So stay tuned here at Burnt Orange as well as the Georgia Blog since Dean will be arriving in Atlanta the day before and will be at a book signing. Which of course brings me to the real reason for my flight from Austin to Nashville tomorrow.

I'm joining up with Scott Goldstein on his book tour, for his recently published (second book at the age of 19) titled, The Tea is in the Harbor. Buy it here for less than $10!

Why? Because I'm in his book, four pages (33-36) of print as a "Sons of Liberty" chapter. He has already driven from New York through Ohio and Indiana as part of the tour, and I'll be joining him for Nashville, TN then Birmingham, Alabama, and then to Atlanta, where we will be having an extra meeting with Howard Dean who is coming in earlier in the day (say 3-4 pm) to speak with the local Democrats and Dean folk, and will hopefully be signing some copies. I'll try to buy/snag a few to bring back to Austin and maybe then you'll come to a MeetUp or something.

So if you are in Nashville on the 5th, Birmingham on the 6th, Atlanta on the 7th, come out and see us (locations available here, all events should be at 7 pm) There may (but very well may not, be an event in North Carolina as we head back to DC but I will let you know).

So look out for reports from the road coming to a blog near you.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Unbought, Unbossed

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

Many Democrats across the country this week were saddened to hear of the passing of former Democratic Congresswoman and 1972 presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm.

Black or white, male or female, Democrats everywhere owe a great deal to the "unbought and unbossed" Congresswoman from Brooklyn.

Not only was Chisholm the first black woman to serve in congress, and the first woman to seek our party's nomination for president, she was a true liberal who fought for what she believed in, fought for her constituents, and symbolized a better America.

The Arizona Republic summed up Chisholm in an excellent editorial this week, noting:

Many Americans remember Shirley Chisholm as an outspoken liberal, a symbol of Democratic politics in the 1960s and 1970s.

They know that she was the first Black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to run for her party's presidential nomination in 1972.

But they don't know that when George Wallace was shot that same year, she visited him in the hospital, a gesture of such respect and kindness that Wallace, the prototypical segregationist Southern politician, was moved to tears.


Chisholm was respected--and despised--as a loud and unbending advocate of minorities and women, a critic of the political establishment of her day.

Some may recall how she challenged House leaders when, in 1968, they assigned her, a first-term congresswoman from Brooklyn, to the agriculture committee.

She later had the pragmatism to support Hale Boggs of Louisiana over fellow Black John Conyers for majority leader. She was rewarded with a seat on the Education and Labor Committee.


Whether you agreed with her politics, she made a difference. She cleared a path for others, Black and White, male and female, to follow.

The New York Post noted of Chisholm, "She was, appropriately, a trailblazer — and she made clear from the outset that she was not one to sit quietly and mind her place. Her fiery passion made her someone to be reckoned with."

But more than being a trailblazer, more than being an expert on early childhood education, and more than her firey passion, Shirley Chisholm had the heart of a true public servant.

She was fond of saying, "Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth."

Chisholm serves as an excellent example for those of us who aspire to serve our counties, our state, our nation and our party. Hopefully, from her example, we can rest assured in the knowledge that we must challenge convention, work to clear the path for the next generation, and safeguard the less fortunate among us.

In our state, nation and party today, we need people like Shirley Chisholm: people to challenge, people who won't take "no" for an answer, and people with a firey passion for the people.

It's time for us all to pay our rent.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County. He formerly published the now discontinued blog Free State Standard. He is presently a regular contributor to the Political State Report.

Posted by Vince Leibowitz at 12:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Letter from Ron Kirk Endorsing Martin Frost for DNC Chair

By Byron LaMasters

Dear Fellow DNC Member:

Over the past several weeks, I've been honored to discuss the DNC Chairmanship with many of you. But after consulting with my family, friends and supporters, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for DNC Chair, and will instead endorse my friend Martin Frost for that position.

I care deeply about the future of the Democratic Party and of the DNC, and so I've given this decision serious consideration.

During my service as Mayor of Dallas and as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate from Texas, I've had the opportunity to meet Americans from all walks of life and from coast-to-coast. I'm convinced that the majority of Americans share the values and priorities of the Democratic Party. I intend to continue working to build a stronger Party, and to elect Democrats across the nation.

My relationship with Martin Frost transcends partisan politics. I consider him a friend, a wise counselor, and a gifted and dedicated public servant. I sincerely believe he is the best choice to lead a reformed Democratic Party. Martin is the complete package for DNC Chair - a winning strategist, innovative grassroots organizer and tough, disciplined spokesperson who has proven Democrats win in Red States by fighting back, energizing the base and engaging new voters.

Moreover, Martin combines an unshakeable commitment to core Democratic principles with the proven ability to win in the reddest of the Red States. He understands that a "50-state" strategy cannot be an "either/or" strategy. He knows - because he's done it himself - that the only way Democrats can defeat Republicans in tough territory is by energizing our base and winning over new voters.

Together, with Martin's experienced and trustworthy leadership, I am
confident in the future of the Democratic Party.

Ron Kirk

You can read Martin Frost's letter to DNC members here.

Update: The Martin Frost for DNC Chair website is under construction here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ron Kirk Drops DNC Bid, Endorses Martin Frost

By Byron LaMasters

[I just noticed posts on the same topic below, but I'll keep all the posts up as we take somewhat different angles on the news.]

The AP is reporting that both Ron Kirk and Harold Ickes have dropped their bids for DNC chair. Kirk wrote a letter to DNC members urging them to support Martin Frost. I'm a bit surprised that one day after Ron Kirk got some renewed blog buzz that he would decide to drop out. Then again, Ron Kirk never showed complete interest in the DNC job. Kirk seemed more interested in having a spokesman role, and letting someone else handle the inside-the-beltway, day-to-day executive director type duties of the job.

For Martin Frost's letter to DNC members announcing his run for chair, click here. More thoughts at MyDD on Kirk, and MyDD also gives Martin Frost a big up arrow this week. It appears as if Frost has consolidated some insider support this week.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The race narrows

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Apparently Ron Kirk and Harold Ickes are both dropping out of the race for DNC chair, which is kinda funny because they didn't exactly officially declare they were running for it. But that's all technicality stuff.

The person who seems to be working the hardest to win right now is Fowler. Check out his offical DNC chair campaign Web site. It's a lot of fun.

And popping over to NDN's site shows that Simon Rosenberg has a lot to say. Really easy to find links to his remarks in Orlando and his statement about the future of the party and about Simon.

Hat tip to Greg.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yhaoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 12:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

A Good Start to 2005

By Byron LaMasters

I got in from Los Angeles tonight, and so far 2005 is going pretty well. Of the Bowl Games I cared about, the teams I supported went 4-0. The Longhorns won and the Red Raiders beat Cal big time giving the Longtorns vindication for their Rose Bowl birth in the first place. Finally, the hated Aggies and Sooners both got embarrassed, which is always a pleasure to see as a Longhorn fan.

I can't even complain too much politically so far. President Bush got shamed into vastly increasing our tsunami relief funds, and House Republicans have dropped their bid to loosen House ethics rules. So far, so good. I'll get back to regular posting tomorrow.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 11:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

That's what I get for rooting for Oklahoma

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I was going to cheer against arch-rival OU, but then I thought "I hate the Trojans and I love the Big 12." Silly me because Oklahoma was spanked 55-19 in the national championship game.

The most interesting BCS game was without a doubt UT-Michigan. I really want my money back on all the others, it just wasn't worth it.

This is a guest from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 11:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They have a word for that

By Jim Dallas

I'm more impressed by Atrios's indignation than by Senator Frist's inconsistency on judicial filibusters.

Why? Because we know these guys are lying liars, and I'm plum out of indignation. I wish the Senate Majority Leader would give us a few good months of honest, effective government so that we can recharge our snark cannons.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cognitive dissonance watch

By Jim Dallas

Color me confused, but why is switching from wage-indexing to price-indexing of Social Security benefits such a big deal if wages haven't been going up?

OK, granted, the time frame on these two phenomena are slightly different, but let's just say that the picture isn't quite as bad as liberal economists paint if you assume the same bunch of morons will be running the economy for the next 70 years. Which of course is a fundamental political assumption in any policy proposed by the modern Republican Party (what, them worry?).

For what it's worth, I feel a little bad for even imagining that Model 2 could be worth it. MaxSpeak pretty much disects that one, although I'd like to see where he's getting his numbers from.

(I'd like to see a middle-ground position on benefit indexing, personally. Under a pay-as-you-go system with wage-indexing, each individual retiree effectively lays claim to a certain percentage of the productive output of America. The more retirees (relatively speaking), the bigger the chunk for the entire retiree cohort. With price indexing, the individual and cohort shares of GDP eventually get whittled down. What I'd like to see, perhaps, is a benefit-indexing scheme where each retiree cohort lays claim to a constant share of economic output, because, after all, that's what the revenue-base is tied to - a constant share of wages paid in FICA taxes. I'm not sure, of course, how to define such a system in convenient terms.)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

My Republican Relatives: A Field Investigation

By Jim Dallas

Obviously, I have an infinite amount of love and respect for all of my peeps, but can I make an observation? I think most of us recognize the family unit as the first and most important source of social education. And it's never out of session.

When the holiday politics truce breaks in my family* , I'm usually at a pretty steep disadvantage since I'm the only one who voted - nay, voted and actually supported (within the limits of respectability, of course) John Kerry last year.

Normally the tendency is to talk back, but this year was different. This year was a time to listen. Not to sulk, but to understand.

So what did I learn from watching Loxodonta republicanensis?

First of all, there's different levels of partisanship (at least in my totally non-random sample of people related to me by blood or marriage). If you get them lulled into a sense of complacency, they'll concede they're not happy with the way things are going with Washington.

Secondly, they really just don't seem to like Democrats or any Democrat that isn't a Zell-Out. Piece together the puzzle here: It's a badge of honor to say "I was a Democrat in the 1950s!" and the constant stream of epitaphs towards major Democratic leaders (Kerry's a fraud, Dean's a headcase, etc. etc. etc.).

Naturally, I think this sort of bitter partisan animosity is present on the other side of the aisle (but perhaps in smaller doses). Regardless, it bites.

Finally, there are actually people who are swayed by accusations that Democrats are in bed with trial lawyers. Like all the doctors in my family, for example.

Previously I thought that was just another manifestation of the Texas GOP's Don Quixote complex, but no, it's actually pandering to special interests! Zounds!

At any rate, I didn't get any closer to figuring out how to persuade mi familia in 2005. But as the sun sets over the savannah, we will have plenty of notes to study back in the lab for months to come.

* Except for my mother's side of the family, of course, because we're mostly all Democrats. But I usually spend less time with them because they're farther away.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 12:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

One more on Social Security tonight

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Since I was so pleased by the Times' editorial, I guess I was just asking for a letdown with the Washington Post's story on the proposed plans for price indexing and private accounts.

Essentially, the first step in the partial-privatization plan is to index the benefits payouts to prices instead of wages. Since wages rise faster than prices, it would save tons of money. It also means that anyone who retires halfway through this century will get about 54% of what is currently promised. Even the Trustees say that doing nothing means you get 70% in 2042.

The whole point of this change in indexing is, of course, to make you have no choice other than to invest in a private account. Fifty years from now, you can't possibly retire on 54% of what is promised by Social Security.

I know some of us will say that the return from the private accounts will make up for the shortfall. The article has this little nugget buried in it that sums up why this is all a very bad idea.

"If this was a case of just price indexing and doing nothing else, frankly, some of the [opponents'] charges are pretty valid," John said. "But if you give the personal accounts as well, you're giving people the opportunity to make up the difference. Not everyone will do that, but a substantial number will."

Even they are telling you that not everyone is going to come out ahead on this, and I'm sure plenty of economists will agree that the "substantial number will" claim is dubious at best. I'm all for investing in the market, that's what 401ks are for. That's what pensions are for. It's not what Social Security is for.

Some people may do really well and retire with plenty of money in their golden years with this plan. But a great number of people will not. They will retire with nothing to show for the years of hard work, let alone enough to pass on to grandchildren like the $40 million dollar ad campaign to come promises them. No, fundamentally changing a safety net program so that a few will retire with plenty while others have to pay for it is immoral and it is wrong. We can't let that happen.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Times gets down and dirty on Social Security

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Today's NY Times had a great editorial on the Social Security "crisis" that Bush has been on about for a month. Basically they just reiterated everything I've said about fixing the small shortfall projected 75 years from now and that Bush is being disingenuous when he talks about "reforming" the system by using private accounts, which the editorial points out is a trememdously bad idea. Everything I've said before, only it's the OpEd page of the Grey Lady and not my blog with all its 5 readers.

It's hard to try and pick out a graf that sums up the whole argument, but this one will give you some idea of the tone the editorial takes:

As it often does with dissenting professional opinion, the administration is ignoring the actuaries. But that doesn't alter the facts or common sense. If the $10 trillion figure is essentially bogus, so is the claim that Social Security is in crisis. The assertion that doing nothing would be costlier than enacting a privatization plan also turns out to be wrong, by the estimates of Congress's own budget agency.

It stays snarky right on until the end, which made it a lot of fun to read. It is full of really usefull information, so read up. There will be a quiz tomorrow.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GOP Chicken Little

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

We've all heard about the Republicans and their planned repeal of ethics rules for the start of the new session. Atrios made a list of things that the ethics repeal would no longer punish, among them taking bribes, fixing parking tickets and having sex with House pages. Wow.

Not surprisingly, after tons of groups have publicly chided them on this very stupid ethics repeal idea, ABC News is reporting that they are dropping the ethics package and things will remain as is for now. I guess someone remembered that sex with interns is just too much of a hassle.

Why they thought they would get very far with lowering the bar on ethics violations in the first place, I'll never know. Only supremely greedy, corrupt people like Tom DeLay would try to do this and their hubris and hatred for their fellow countrymen will be their undoing. I've often said that DeLay is just a big cockroach, working in the dark to get what he wants. Everytime we shine a light on his activities, he'll scurry away like the coward he really is.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's James Dobson when you actually need him?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

As much as I disagree with and am totally creeped out by James Dobson and his ilk in the Christian Right, I have to give them props for being able to raise huge amounts of money for their causes. you know, things like gay bashing and fundamentally altering the Constitution to take away freedoms. But they do raise money.

So where is the Christian Right and where is their money to help out with tsunami relief. Digby has a listing of several Christian Right Web sites that, as of today, still have nothing about where to send money or to donate anything. I mean, come on, a disaster of Biblical proportions, these guys should be all over this. The only person on the Christian Right I've heard mention anything about the tsunami was glad it killed so many gay Swedish people. What the hell?

Before I totally come off as a hypocrite because I haven't really mentioned anything about where to send donations (or send cash as our Dear Leader might say), I just assumed that you're all geeks like me and you play around with goofy Google searches in your spare time. If not, then this should take you where you need to go. I'm sure you've got at least five bucks in your checking account that can be spared for the Red Cross or one of the other relief agencies. I've heard members of the Indonesian govt. claim that 400,000 people lived in one affected area alone and that has been totally destroyed and there is no way to find out if anyone is still alive, so this 155,000 could be way below the mark. Not to mention the untold billions of dollars worth of damage.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GOP Proposing House Rule Changes

By Byron LaMasters

Not only is the House GOP ousting the relatively moderate House Ethics Committee Chair Joel Hefley, but they're going to try to make it more difficult to file an ethics complaint in the first place. The AP reports:

House Republicans on Monday considered ways to make it harder to discipline members of Congress, prompted by a rebuke of Majority Leader Tom DeLay that infuriated some GOP colleagues.

Preparing for a meeting to consider rules changes, some Republicans were ready to push for a new standard of conduct - a move that would base any future rebukes on more specific information than is required now.

The change would continue a partisan feud over the House's method of disciplining lawmakers. The outgoing Republican chairman of the House ethics committee, Rep. Joel Hefley of Colorado, joined Democrats opposing the change.

The House will debate all new rules proposals Tuesday, the first day of the 109th Congress. Another Republican proposal would allow relatives to accompany a House member on a trip financed by a special interest group or nonprofit organization. Current rules specify a spouse or child.

Current rules require lawmakers and employees to conduct themselves "at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House." Some Republicans believe the standard is too general and want discipline to depend on a more specific finding of wrongdoing.

"Reflecting creditably on the House" is too general? How would House Republicans like their members to behave? Geez...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hubert Vo's Journey from Saigon to Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Great story in the San Antonio Express News on Hubert Vo's journey from Vietnam as a young man to the Texas legislature (Via Kuff):

Planes crashed to earth, rockets screamed across the sky and bombs exploded as 19-year-old Hubert Vo began his long journey. Three decades later, he's preparing to take the floor of the Texas House of Representatives as the state's first Vietnamese-born lawmaker.

"I remember my father gave each one of us a gun and said: 'Use it if you have to,'" said Vo, recalling how he, his five siblings and his parents fled Saigon in 1975 as their country collapsed. "It was chaos. The day I left, I stood on the boat, looked at horizon, seen airplanes falling from the sky."

That far exceeds any turmoil Vo has experienced following his election to the Houston-area District 149 seat he captured by a mere 33 votes over longtime Republican incumbent Talmadge Heflin. [...]

Vo worked as a busboy and a cook. He assembled digital watches and video games. He was robbed more times than he cares to remember as a convenience store clerk. He went door to door updating listings for telephone books. He's been a steelworker and a goldsmith, built computers and formed a computer company. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston, where he met his wife. And they're raising three children.

He got into real estate, built shopping centers, manages apartment complexes and even earned a license as an air-conditioning technician.

"I worked at different places, getting understanding of a worker, of a manager, of a supervisor," Vo said. "From the ground up, I have that hands-on knowledge, different classes of society. Hopefully I can understand the people of my district better than anybody else, because I've been through all those things myself."

In war-ravaged Vietnam, where his father worked for the Vietnamese navy and coast guard and had ties to the CIA, Vo was a freshman in college studying economics and politics when their world imploded.

Read the article for more. Hubert Vo's had a heck of a journey through his life, and the election contest is nothing compared to his past battles.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sheriff Lupe Valdez has an Agenda for Dallas County

By Byron LaMasters

Here's is the agenda of Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D-Dallas) as it appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

As the new sheriff of Dallas County, I have spent the past two months analyzing and assessing the department's strengths and shortcomings. Some people could label me an "outsider" to the department, but my 23 years of experience in law enforcement, from the military to immigration agencies, have given me the skills to manage an urban sheriff's department in a professional manner.

The voters of Dallas County elected me for many reasons, but throughout my campaign and during this transition period, it was clear that they wanted a new way of doing business in the Sheriff's Department.

My transition team is a bipartisan group of community leaders helping me analyze and assess how to rejuvenate the department. In so doing, we are also mindful of the department's mission: To protect and serve the community with integrity, pride and professionalism; to operate a safe and humane jail system; and to deliver on our commitment to swift, fair and effective enforcement of the law.

To fulfill that mission and to re-energize the department, I have resolved to meet the following goals in 2005:

Continued after the jump...

• To restore the confidence of the citizens of Dallas County in their Sheriff's Department. The vast majority of deputies are competent and caring, but their morale has suffered because of scandal, inattention and incompetence in the higher ranks. My first priority is to restore the good reputation of the department and, by doing that, restore the morale of the deputies.

To keep this resolution, I have interviewed many of the department's fine officers, including the major deputies in the department, and I have made one message very clear: If an officer is good for the department and committed to meeting these goals and changing the direction of the department, I want that officer on my team. The time for politics has ended. The election is over.

• To implement an audit, by outside accountants, of all major activities of the department. This audit will include the scandal-plagued commissary contract, which will be rebid or renegotiated, as appropriate, in accordance with proper standards for government procurement.

Dallas County has internal auditors, but the citizens of Dallas County deserve to know that outside, independent auditors have looked at the operations of the department and made appropriate recommendations.

• To modernize personnel policies. The Sheriff's Department must attract and retain the most qualified officers and deputies. Current policies do not give the department the flexibility or opportunity to staff its needs in the most effective manner.

• To engage a full-time community relations coordinator. Part of the restoration of citizens' confidence will be establishing outreach into the various communities we serve. We will be better equipped to meet our mission if we are more community oriented. Not only will the coordinator be the eyes and ears of the department, but that person will also be able to coordinate the receipt of nonprofit grants for law enforcement projects.

This is an optimistic agenda for changing the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, but with the public's help and good will, it can be done. The citizens of Dallas County expect a revitalized department, and that's what the deputies and I are going to give them.

If you have the chance, also check out a long profile of Lupe Valdez from the Dallas Morning News this week.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Proof that Blogs are a "Growth Industry"

By Byron LaMasters

The AP reports on the growth of blogs in 2004...

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 06:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

KBH Editorial on CHIP

By Byron LaMasters

She basically blasts Rick Perry and the legislature for cutting the CHIP program without explicitly saying so. It was in Saturday's Houston Chronicle:

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), created in 1997, provides federally matched funds to states with insurance programs for low-income children. The program is designed to provide preventive care, annual doctor visits, vaccinations and developmental screenings that may well prevent children from being rushed to emergency rooms for routine needs. The recipients are low-income working families that have slightly higher income than allowed under Medicaid. In most cases, their employers do not offer insurance, and they have difficulty paying for it directly.

CHIP requires cooperation between the state and federal government. In 2005, for example, for every dollar the state puts into CHIP, the federal government will provide $2.65 in matching funds. (This program is particularly beneficial to state health systems, because the match is greater than Medicaid. For every state Medicaid dollar, the federal government supplies $1.56.)

I'm concerned that, despite the best efforts of our congressional delegation, Texas has not maximized its use of CHIP to support our state health care system. Since 2000, Texas has turned back about $700 million in unused federal funds to the U.S. Treasury, and those funds are now being used by other states, to help their working families pay for health insurance. In the recently ended fiscal year, the Congressional Research Service estimates Texas turned back more than $50 million in unused federal funds.

This money should be used to assist our county hospitals and the property taxpayers who fund them. Dr. Ray Perryman, an economist, has concluded that whenever Texas fails to take full advantage of Medicaid and CHIP, the state's economy is weakened. For every state dollar removed from these plans, he notes, local taxes must rise by 51 cents, insurance premiums on those with coverage must rise by about $1.33, and retail sales decline by almost two dollars. Perryman suggests the state treasury is also an ultimate loser, because the decreased economic activity causes a drop in state tax revenue.

As a matter of simple fiscal conservatism, I hope Texas will, in the future, take full advantage of available federal matching funds to bolster our state health care system, and relieve increasing pressure on taxpayers who fund county hospitals. CHIP, given the available federal match, makes sense for our children's health and economic sense for our taxpayers.

I mean, if the Texas legislature doesn't take advantage of the federal tax dolars we're entitled to through the CHIP program, it'll go to a bunch of liberals out here in California or something. Is that what the Texas GOP wants?

More at Rick Perry vs. the World, Off the Kuff and Greg's Opinion.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rose Bowl Pictures

By Byron LaMasters

There's lots of Longhorn fan pictures from the game at this site.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 05:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Will Kerry run in '08?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Newsweek has a special interview with Sen. John Kerry online that I found very fun to read. Among other things, Kerry felt that he didn't "connect" with voters, but that he did run a good campaign nonetheless. He also felt that he wasn't well-served by Bob Shrum. Go figure.

Whatever you think of the failures of Kerry's campaign, George W. Bush's re-election was caused more by the failure of both campaigns to educate voters about their positions. An uninformed electorate will make the wrong choice every time.

KErry says he plans to learn from his mistakes which could be interpreted to mean he plans to run again in 2008. He'll have a national platform from which to announce, he'll remain a senator until his seat is up in '08, and he still has people in place for another go around. And about $15 million in the bank leftover from the '04 campaign.

With no popular incumbent to run against, he could very well win it. The question is, will Democrats vote for him again? We seem to have a one strike and your out policy for our nominees, so the liklihood of Kerry getting the nomination again is slim. I think it's worth asking why we always seem to want to start over from scratch with our candidates, but the consultants keep getting recycled. Don't we want some kind of name recognition and brand loyalty?

Like I said, his chance of regaining the nomination is slim. As evidence, I offer how fast some Democrats were quick to criticize him after we lost in November. Or how Kerry staffers quickly became the best source of gossip about Mrs. Keinz-Kerry and her role in the campaign. If we didn't like the guy, why did we nominate him?

We've got four years to really think about how we nominate our party's standard bearer and how we campaign for the presidency. Kerry says he will learn from his mistakes, I think we should learn from them, too.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

I can't believe I missed this

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I must have been revelling a little too much over the past week to have missed that AARP will begin lobbying against Bush's partial-privatization scheme for Social Security. They are planning a $5 million, two week advertizing blitz to coincide with the start of the new Congress.

"This is our signature issue," said Christine M. Donohoo, chief communications officer for AARP, which represents 36 million Americans 50 and older. "We will do what it takes."

The full-page advertisements, to appear next week in more than 50 newspapers around the country, say the accounts would cause "Social Insecurity."

"There are places in your retirement planning for risk," the advertisements say, "but Social Security isn't one of them."

One advertisement shows a couple in their 40's looking at the reader. "If we feel like gambling, we'll play the slots," the message says.

Another advertisement shows traders in the pit of a commodities exchange. "Winners and losers are stock market terms," it says. "Do you really want them to become retirement terms?"

This is great! I couldn't dream of a better lobbying group to fight privatization. In fact, I've said before that we should work with AARP to fight the Republicans to save Social Security. AARP has tons of moeny and activist members, not to mention that the biggest single voting bloc is still seniors. The GOP may have made a strategic mistake in moving ahead on partial-privatization. With AARP on the Democrats side, it could cost Republicans more than they have in the trust fund, so to speak, during the midterm elections.

This gives us a signature issue to oppose them on and we have major backing in large groups like AARP who are willing to spend money to educate seniors and young people that there is no crisis in Social Security. This could be what starts the turnaround for the Democratic party.

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 08:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Martin Frost's Letter to DNC Members

By Byron LaMasters

This is the letter that Martin Frost has sent to DNC members in the past weeks stating his reasons for running for DNC chair. I'll probably be posting a good deal on the DNC race this month, and especially the Texas candidates. I'm not supporting one candidate or another, but I hope that we can use this opportunity to have a discussion on BOR about the future of the Democratic Party. Karl-Thomas's post on Reform Democrats yesterday is a great start. Anyway, for the full text of Martin Frost's letter to DNC members, take the jump to the extended entry.

Dear Fellow Democrat,

The decision on who will serve as Chair of the Democratic National Committee is critical not only to the future of our party, but to the future of our country as well. The current GOP leadership in the White House, Congress and dozens of States is driven by the very worst influences in public life and dependent upon political choices made out of fear rather than hope and narrow self interest rather than public good. Too many times in too many places, we have allowed Republicans to organize unchallenged, define patriotism and morality on their own narrow and partisan terms and then dominate the political exchange at every level.

I have been honored and gratified by the many calls suggesting that I run for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. It is an effort that no one should take lightly. After speaking with many DNC Members and other party leaders, I have decided to join the race for DNC Chair. While others of talent and promise are seeking the post, I believe I am the candidate whose perspective, experience and abilities combine the most important qualities needed in a new Chair.

First and most important, I believe in, and will fight for, the fundamental issues that define us as a party and separate us from the Republicans. I¹ve run competitive Congressional races for over 20 years. I¹ve gone toe-to-toe with Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay and the worst the GOP has to offer. And, through it all, I never backed down in my support for civil rights, a woman¹s right to choose, collective bargaining and workplace rights, access to the civil justice system or a strong and secure Israel. It would be a fundamental mistake to turn our backs on our traditional friends. We must build on the loyalty of traditional Democratic constituencies and reach out to new voters and those rural and suburban voters who have drifted away from us in recent years.

In this connection, we should have a forthright discussion of moral values vital to our nation and make it clear that there is room for people who hold differing views under the Democratic tent. Too often, we have been unwilling to even enter into a dialogue on these issues.

However, some would use the election of DNC Chair as a symbolic gesture to win non-traditional support. Should we follow that approach, America will have little more than two Republican Parties, and we would forfeit our responsibility to be an aggressive, hard-hitting opposition that speaks to the core values of a majority of the American people. While our candidates must always be able to run on a broad and tolerant platform, it is critical that our Party Chair believe deeply in our party¹s basic values. Our party cannot be adequately led by someone whose primary qualification to serve as Chair is his opposition to core Democratic beliefs.

The new Chair of the Democratic National Committee must be someone who can rebuild the party structure from the ground up in all 50 states, utilizing the best talents from within both our elected leadership and our party leadership. The Chair must be able to articulate our views
persuasively, but also understand that there are many strong voices within our party and that often the best messengers don¹t sit in Washington, DC, but rather live throughout the nation. The new DNC Chair must have a keen and deep understanding of our party¹s base and its foundation built upon opportunity, fairness, justice and love of country. There are elections to run and races to be won in every state. We must challenge Republicans everywhere ­ even on their own turf - and never concede the moral high ground.

I am the only person seeking the DNC leadership post who has successfully chaired a national party committee. I served as Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from January 1995 until December 1998. I took over as Chair just weeks after Democrats had lost the majority in Congress. Politicians and pundits alike were predicting even more dramatic losses in the years to come. However, I refused to accept conventional wisdom and immediately went about the work of transforming the committee. Both the political and finance divisions were restructured. For the first time, the DCCC invested heavily in small donor direct mail, a new national large donor program was instituted, a new strategic polling program was implemented and, for the first time ever, the DCCC invested directly in state party campaign programs designed to maximize minority turnout in specific congressional districts. Over the four years that I served as DCCC Chair, Democrats picked up a net total of 14 seats and raised a then-record $80 million. No subsequent national party committee has performed as well.

At home in Texas, I took the lead in working with my state and local parties to mount multimillion dollar campaigns to hold a narrow majority in the State House, protect a majority in our Congressional
delegation and hold key State Senate seats. During the height of the Bush era in Texas, we held our majorities in the House and Congressional Delegation. In fact, these majorities were lost only after Tom DeLay¹s illegal redistricting scheme that is currently under criminal investigation and court challenge.

I have a proven track record of successful party building with mainstream sensibilities and a deep understanding of the party leaders and candidates who must run and win in the most challenging areas of our nation. The DNC must start the rebuilding process at the state and local levels in every area of the country, rather than focusing on a narrow scope of battleground states that may or may not determine the outcome of a Presidential election. Our efforts should be focused on statewide, legislative, local and Congressional races that will be held in 2005 and 2006. Winning those races will allow us to go into 2007 ready to work on the 2008 Presidential race from a position of strength and with a party strong enough to win elections for the remainder of the decade.

DNC Chair is an important job, and I do not enter this race lightly. I will devote myself full time and all my energy to rebuilding our party. In doing so, I not only best serve the Democratic Party, but best serve our country as well. I respectfully ask for your support and your vote.

Martin Frost

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rose Bowl Thoughts

By Byron LaMasters

Sorry for the delay in posting on the Rose Bowl, as I've been busy in LA. Going to the Rose Bowl was a phenomenal experience, and the game certainly did not disappoint. Unfortunately, I left my camera in Austin, and my friend forgot to bring his, so I had to resort to trying a few low-quality camera phone pictures. I'll post those later if any of them turn out. Boi From Troy has some good pictures of the scoreboard, the pregame festivities and flyover.

Both Boi From Troy in his post, and the Michigan fans behind us at the game mentioned the "sea of Burnt Orange" at the game. Perhaps some may have thought that Texas fans would be a bit less inclined than Michigan fans to travel out to the Rose Bowl, as this was the first time where Texans participated in the Rose Bowl tradition, previously reserved for Big 10 and Pac 10 teams. But considering that football is like a religion in Texas, I would have been surprised if their had not been a "sea of Burnt Orange" at the Rose Bowl. Overall, Longhorn fans were probably in the slight majority, but both teams were well represented.

As for the game itself, Texas fans can thank Vince Young. Young carried the team on a day where Cedric Benson and the entire defense had a subpar performance - and don't even get me started with the kickoff coverage team. Watching Vince Young run is absolutely dazzling. I had not yet had the opportunity to watch Young in person (only on TV), and he's just a thrill to watch.

The Longhorn defense finally started holding the Michigan offence led by Braylon Edwards and Chad Henne to field goals, and due to poor timeout calling / clock management on Michigan's part, we had the opportunity to kick a winning field goal as time expired. I was sitting in row 13 of the end zone where typically reliable UT kicker Dusty Mangum kicked a wobbly kick that I doubted would make it from the second it left his foot. Somehow, it made it through the uprights, the officials in the endzone raised their hands, and we all went nuts. The Eyes of Texas are upon California (and Michigan).

As for the BCS... well, it sort of worked out this year, except for the fact that Auburn won't have a shot at the national title. Texas proved that it deserved to be in the Rose Bowl, and Cal proved nothing in its loss to Texas Tech. The BCS still needs to be changed in favor of a real playoff system, but for now, I'll just savor a great Longhorn victory and the opportunity to see a damn fine football game.

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

Congressman Matsui dies

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I didn't know much about him other than he was a California Democrat and and as the third-ranking member of Ways and Means, he was our pointman against privatization of Social Security. But there was way more to him. He was born in 1941 and a year later, his family was put in a Japanese internment camp for the rest of the war. He was one of the members of Congress who helped pass legislation years later to officially apologize for the internment and give survivors compensation.

He also had some issues he was at odds with the part over, like global free trade. But he had given ever indication the passed few weeks before his death that he was going to fight against Bush and his partial-privatization scheme. I think Nancy Pelosi said it best, "With the passing of Bob Matsui, our country has lost a great leader and America's seniors have lost their best friend in Congress."

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 07:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Two notes.

By Jim Dallas

I've been harping my relatives on this and I'll harp you too (oh, and I doubt I am the first one): relief agencies need money for the tsunami victims. Google has a lot of links.

Also, I am finally getting around to reading Benjamin Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld which, I think, needs a post-2004, post-Jesusland updating.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reform Democrats

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I am a Reform Democrat. And I think it's a message that works here in Texas as well as nationally, considering that much of the mess in DC is tied to this state in some way at the current time. What I'm talking about is that the Democratic Party should take the opportunity going into 2006 to make Reform part of, if not, THE Theme for the party.

It's a simple idea. Dean got us started on the path to thinking about it. Candidates like Mark Strama or Hubert Vo won on it here in Texas. Betty Castor and Company out in Florida are getting behind it for 2006, endorsing a proposed statewide referendum to take redistricting out of the hands of their overwhelmingly Republican legislature (in a 50-50 state). It's the hot topic for the DNC Chair race for good reason.

People are frustrated with government, in this state as well as others, and are frustrated with Washington (when are they not!) But because of what Bush and Delay are doing to the Republican Party and the Nation, almost effortlessly stripping away ethical guidelines, or real democratic choices by means of redistricting, people become less in control. Voters (and non-voters) feel powerless to change it. And that's part of their plan as well. Disempower voters and force down turnout while making it unattractive for the unregistered or occasional voter to actually bother to vote.

By running on reform, by talking about their "ethics" in terms of their "actions", the Democratic Party can undermine the GOP stranglehold on values. By championing reform and putting forth proactive solutions under the theme of reform, we can create a simple, united vision for our Party of reform, and a more honest government that work for people again, instead of against them and for a select class which the masses have a hard time identifying with.

A thematic vision, it's something that I still feel Kerry never created or articulated clearly, and our party in general hasn't done for 4 years. (And let's drop this "change" crap; it sounds weaker than "reform" and reform is tame enough to sidestep association with some dramatic revolutionary coup).

Dean had a message/theme of empowerment and reform. Edwards had a vision of Two Americas which he tied his ideas back to. They almost got our Party a vision for a presidential platform. We need a vision for the next four years that isn't dependent on Bush alone, but is associated with his form of government.

Reform Democrats. It allows us to be inventive in strategies that empower citizens to stay involved and get involved with our party and our democracy. It forces us to be thoughtful by offering up solutions and new ideas, instead of endlessly defending the status quo from slipping away into the 19th Century. It holds us to a higher moral standard. It brands us and gives us the theme under which a progressive vision can be actualized.

I choose to be a Reform Democrat.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:23 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

January 01, 2005

Cotton Bowl Round-Up

By Jim Dallas

I had a wonderful opportunity to go to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas this morning, between the Aggies and the Tennesee Volunteers.

First time (and probably last) I'll get stuck in the Aggie cheering section and accidentally get caught up in the Aggie War Hymn.

Oh, to think of what would have been had I gone to Aggieland instead of Texas (and, for "mild loud," which is how the crowd was described by my Aggie relatives, the Aggie fans are LOUD.)

Anyway, the old man is a Tennessee alumni and Vol fanatic, so that quickly put the maroon visions to rest.

From Tennessee's second possession onwards, it was pretty much a smack-down, with five Aggie turn-overs (compare that to 8 in the entire regular season) and a lot of missed opportunities. Tennessee (particularly Rick Clausen) played a better-than-average game, and A&M's mistakes coupled with Vol momentum combined to seal the Aggies' fate. By the early fourth quarter Big Orange was up 38 - 0, with the only real question whether the game would end as a shutout (it didn't; the Aggies finally scored a touchdown with about 5 and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter).

Nevertheless, there were a few moments where Reggie McNeal looked pretty formidable, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Ags learned the lessons from this season and shock us all when the fall rolls around. There is a lot of talent on that team, as a whole.

Also, Oklahoma State's coach, Les Miles, is departing for LSU.

I'll let Byron do the wrap on the Rose Bowl, since he's there. But here's the cliff-note version: Texas won on a last-second field goal, 38-37, in a very competitive game. Vince Young rocks. Michigan's freshman QB, Henne, rocks. Cedric Benson almost got hurt in the first quarter, but managed to play well (although the stats would say otherwise).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 09:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How I spent my New Year's

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Something interesting happened to me tonight that I have to share because I think I'm supposed to.

After chauffering a drunk friend around town as the designated driver while listening to her problems, and listening to an alcoholic talk about his relapse on New Year's Eve, I stopped at a convenience store to get a soda so that I could go home and finally have a drink for myself.

As I was walking out the door, a lady asked me to come over and talk to her. At 5 in the morning, people don't want to talk about good things and I almost had had my fill of listening to people's problems. But I did. It wasn't an unusual story. Two homeless women sitting at bus stop begging for change so that they could get something to eat and maybe a cheap motel room so they could have a bath and warm place to sleep. I didn't have any cash but I had plenty of change and some leftovers that Suzanne had left in the car when I took her home.

After the tsunami hit the Indian Ocean beaches and the death toll began to climb, it became a bit surreal. I mean, 150,000 dead people because of an earthquake and some water, it's really beyond the human imagination to comprehend just how much suffering that entails. The numbers are just too big. But one person at a bus stop begging from the bottom of her heart for some help, that's impossible to ignore.

It is so easy to get lost in politics. It's so easy to just get wrapped up in the day to day fighting over things and to forget why you're fighting. I think I'm a religious man, and I'd like to think God took the time to remind me why I'm a liberal Democrat. I believe that government is fundamentally a force of good in people's lives. Great things can be accomplished when all the resources of our republic are put behind something; we know because we've done it before. Conservatives feel that it is the individual's responsibility to do great things. But I ask you, what is a government but the representation of all the individuals that make up the citizenry?

We may never be able to help all the homeless people. We may never be able to feed and shelter them all. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. And we shouldn't forget why we fight the good fight. We shouldn't forget why we are here.

I'll wake up tomorrow a little more eager to fight and help those who can't help themselves. And the next day I'll be more eager still. I will challenge myself to be more eager to help all the helpless people . I hope we all do the same. Great things can be accomplished; we know because we've done it before.

This is a gust post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

Posted by Nathan Nance at 05:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What's the Matter with Kansas

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Welcome to 2005. Or 1955 if you happen to be the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Apparently large quantities of homosexuals attracted God's wrath in the Indian Ocean. It makes perfect sense doesn't it? Why else would California and especially San Francisco get hit by quakes as well? (Other than the fact that it's sitting on fault lines)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:49 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Rose Bowl Bound

By Byron LaMasters

Happy New Year from California. I just got to my friend's place in West Hollywood, and we have Rose Bowl tickets. Even better, is that my whole Rose Bowl trip so far has just cost $110.50 (although since my father gave me $100 before I left, this has technically cost me a grand whopping total of $10.50). I challenge any other Rose Bowl bound Longhorn to beat that =) It cost me $48 for the airplane ticket after my travel voucher, $62.50 for my Rose Bowl ticket (yeah, it's in the End Zone, but in row 13), and free lodging as I'm with my fabulous friend Sam. Ok, time to shut up and enjoy the New Year. I hope that all of yall are doing the same, and whatever you do, be safe tonight.

Here's to a peaceful and [insert your own Hallmark adjective here] 2005!

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 12:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Happy New Years (almost)

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Because I'm sure that the Burnt Orange Crew will be doing other things at midnight, and some of them may not be, um, sober enough to post, here is your New Years Greeting, dated at midnight thanks to the power of Movable Type timestamps!

Here's to a better year.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 12:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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