27 August 2007
Steady, watch me navigate, hahaha.
Michelle Middle City in today's Chron:
[Congressman Ron] Paul's advocates offer several explanations for the gap between Web support and the polls. Among them: Many Paul supporters won't be picked up on standard polling because of their youth or lack of participation in previous GOP contests.
You mean the ones who powered Kinky Friedman to victory? [Well, Kinky still hasn't conceded. --ed]
20 August 2007
But she is still drawn to a governor's race. She played with the idea for months last time around but ultimately decided to avoid an anticipated bitter primary race against Gov. Rick Perry.
"Running for governor is certainly an option," Ms. Hutchison said. If she decides the timing is right for the 2010 race, nothing and no other candidate Ė even if Mr. Perry decides to run for a third full term Ė would hold her back, she said.
"Whoever else is in the race is really not a factor," Ms. Hutchison said.
I think she said that pre-2006, didn't she?
17 August 2007
my new favorite disclaimer
As I write this, I'm in the middle of a 7 hour wait for a plane. Because of the delay, the airline is offering us peanuts. On the wrapper for the peanuts:
produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.. Thank you, trial lawyers!
That's the National Republican Congressional Committee, there is no "Republican Congressional Campaign Commitee". Moritz is conflating the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with the NRCC. In my experience, it is Democratic partisans who make that mistake.
Republican state Rep. Robert Talton of Pasadena, who was in the thick of several battles during the recent legislative session, has filed the paperwork necessary to raise money for the federal race. And on Thursday, former Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula Gibbs, who briefly held the seat before losing to Lampson as a write-in candidate in 2006, formally launched her candidacy to win it back.
"Regaining that district hovers around the top of our list of priorities for 2008," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, which will not take sides in the GOP primary.
Yeah, angering Republicans across the state is always a great way to kickoff your campaign for Congress. Maybe he's running for Congess because Republicans and Democrats are both ready for him to leave Austin.
Talton, a firebrand conservative who has served in the state House since 1993, completed a high-profile legislative session in May that was marked by his uncanny ability to derail measures he opposed by finding technical flaws in bill language or in the procedure by which the bill had wended its way through the process.
And he allied himself with a solid bloc of Democrats and a handful of Republicans who unsuccessfully maneuvered to oust Republican Speaker Tom Craddick during the waning days of the 2007 session.
"I thought I had a pretty good session," Talton told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm not sure I can improve on that."
There are two Americas...the one where people lose their houses to foreclosure. And the one where John Edwards profits from foreclosures.
By the way, anyone remember the time when John Edwards had positioned himself as an optimistic moderate? Now he's the angry liberal populist.
11 August 2007
A desalination plant that officials say is the world's largest outside a coastal area and is expected to supply this desert city with water for 50 years opened for business Wednesday.
The opening of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant, named for Texas' senior U.S. senator, marked the end of a 15-year project to design, fund and build the plant that eventually will be capable of supplying 27.5 million gallons of drinking water daily.
Whoa. When did we become West Virginia? At the least, how about we try to name infastructure after people who aren't currently serving? But at least we're not naming things after KKK members like Robert Byrd.
Personally, I like Fred Thompson's stance better:
I read where the naming of a segment of U.S. Highway 43 in Lawrenceburg after me is under consideration. I cannot blame anybody if there is hesitation to name another thing for another politician or former politician. But I must say that I am very appreciative of my friends in Lawrenceburg and Lawrence County who originally had this idea. The fact that they would want to do this is more important to me than the naming itself. My daddy's car lot was on that stretch of road, so it's special to me, but the fact is that I didnít build it and I didnít pay for it. The taxpayers did.
Reasons to be governor
Coach Dennis Franchione said his team deserved an "A" for what he called "an awesome practice" Thursday morning after a difficult practice Wednesday afternoon.
Gov. Rick Perry was in attendance and visited with the players, Franchione said.
"It's always nice to have the leader of our state here to visit with the guys," Franchione said.
If I were a big Aggie fan, I'd want to get a pre-season look every year. How'd the slimmed down Jorvorskie Lane look, Governor?
Ames Straw Poll
It's awfully hard to take seriously results where the order of finish is 1) Romney, 2) Huckabee, 3) Brownback, 4) Tancredo, and 5) Paul.
Sucks for Tommy Thompson. People once thought he was presidential material. He has an impressive background and a history of getting results. But his time has passed.
I'd note that Fred beat both Giuliani and McCain. But as my friend notes, "it's kinda hard to take that seriously when you're talking tens of votes." Touche.
On the ethics bill, Cornyn joined 13 other senators who voted against the bill.
Cornyn had voted for the Senate ethics and lobbying reform bill passed early this year. But he complained the final bill fell short on earmark reform.
The approved bill requires lawmakers to publicize plans to seek earmarks 48 hours before a vote and certify they have no direct financial interest in the funding they seek.
But the bill also allows the majority leader and Appropriations Committee chairman to certify that legislation meets the rule without earmarks being disclosed to the public, Cornyn said.
"The principle we are standing for here today makes it clear I am on the side of reforming the system, not the status quo," Cornyn said at a news conference.
"John Cornyn had a chance to show leadership on a bipartisan issue today, but instead he sided with a tiny fringe that opposes ethics and lobbying reform," said Matthew Miller, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman.
Cornyn dismissed his critics on ethics, pointing to an open government bill he has pushed for years. The Senate passed it just before the summer break.
The bill sets time limits on agencies for responding to Freedom of Information Act requests and requires agencies to provide tracking numbers and status updates for requests, among other things. The House has not considered the bill.
"I just always wondered why conservatives weren't more at the vanguard of this fight (for open government) because it is to me the most conservative of all principles and that is the people have the right to know and the legitimacy of government flows from their consent," Cornyn said.
I love the DSCC quote. Cornyn wanted a stronger ethics bill...so clearly he must be vulnerable on ethics, according to the DSCC. Orwell would approve: up is down.
Cornyn has had a longtime interest in FOIA. Which happens to be near and dear to my heart, since the first political campaign I ever worked for was for a local candidate with a penchant for filing lots of FOIA requests against the city council she was a part of. Oh...and the local establishment media types hated her. Good times, that campaign.
"The resurgence of Democrats in Texas is not dependent on winning this Senate race, but winning it will give it a huge boost," said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, formed to try to rebuild the Democratic Party in Texas.
That's not the sort of nuance normally seen in press release soundbites!
Keep the dream/marketing alive.
Kinky Friedman might run again for governor in 2010, conceivably as a Democrat.
"I'm open to running," Friedman said Wednesday before cautioning that he won't settle plans until after the 2008 elections.
"Had I run as a Democrat last time, I think (Gov.) Rick Perry would already be (out of office as) a lobbyist for a cigar company," he said.
Serious rumination? Marketing ploy?
10 August 2007
Stop Hillary Clinton!
But probably not for the reason you think.
Am I the only one a little freaked out by the idea of our presidency going Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton? Americans have this tendency to act as if our Republic has been around forever, and will be around forever. Let's hope it's so; but there's little historical support for the idea. I'm just a kid and I've been alive for more than 10% of the days of the USA. We're still a very young nation in the grand scheme of history.
This is not a jeremiad; I'm an optimist. And it's not even really about Hillary Clinton. It's about avoiding bad precedents which lead to slippery slopes.
So yes, I think electing Hillary is a risk to our democracy in the long-run (much more so than the short-run). Were I a Democrat, there's no way I'd even consider supporting Hillary.* And let's be honest -- if liberals are so concerned about our standing in the world, looking like a oligarchical alternating dynasty is hardly the message we want to send.
* In case you're wondering, I've also never thought that Jeb Bush should be considered as a presidential or vice presidential candidate. If you read between the lines of Jeb's public statements, it sounds like he's realized it too. Now that's a statesman.
09 August 2007
Lots of people seem to think that Attorney General Greg Abbott should avoid opining on the propriety of Speaker Craddick's refusal to recognize.
I'm not quite sure why. Hasn't Craddick asserted a constitutional defense? Doesn't the Attorney General issue advisory opinions about the Texas Constitution? My understanding is that the answer to both questions is yes, thus it seems quite proper that the Attorney General should address the constitutional question alone -- whether the Texas Constitution prohibits removal of the Speaker. It doesn't seem proper to address issues pertaining to House rules.
Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if Abbott decided to pass. Why insert himself into the matter? Let them re-write the House rules next session. Democracies are messy things after all, despite what newspaper editorial boards would have us believe.
Somehow, you knew this was coming...
[Kinky Friedman, t]he author, musician and failed independent gubernatorial candidate, who was never without his trusty, albeit smelly stogie, unfurled his new line of handmade cigars Wednesday.
"These are the first non-Cuban cigars that I've smoked in over 25 years," Mr. Friedman said.
Mr. Friedman will be rolling out his new cigars at shops across Texas over the next month and promises to sign cigar boxes while discussing "fine cigars, politics and virtually anything else."
I've spent a few minutes trying to come up with something witty to say, but I already said it in the title.
The former House speaker from Georgia said he will decide whether to enter the GOP presidential field in October. But in a wide-ranging speech at the National Press Club in Washington, he ridiculed campaign consultants and spin doctors who he said are extending the 2008 campaign. He said presidential debates have become "almost unendurable."
"These aren't debates," the former Georgia congressman said. "This is a cross between [TV shows] 'The Bachelor,' 'American Idol' and 'Who's Smarter than a Fifth-Grader.'"
"You begin to trap people," Gingrich said. "As the campaigns get longer, you're asking a person who's going to be sworn in in January of 2009 to tell you what they'll do in January of 2007, when they haven't got a clue -- because they don't know what the world will be like, and you're suggesting they won't learn anything through the two years of campaigning."
"For the most powerful nation on Earth to have an election in which Swift Boat veterans versus National Guard papers becomes a major theme verges on insane," said Gingrich, referring to 2004 campaign controversies that targeted Kerry and President Bush. "I mean, it's just -- and to watch those debates, I found painful -- for both people. They're both smarter than the debates."
He blamed the pressures of sound-bite campaigning for the recent controversy over Sen. Barack Obama's declaration that he would dispatch U.S. troops to Pakistan to attack leaders of the al Qaeda terrorist network if Pakistani authorities fail to get them.
Gingrich said the Illinois Democrat, one of his party's leading presidential candidates, "said a very insightful thing in a very dangerous way." But the response, he said, "was to attack Senator Obama, not to explore the underlying kernel of what he said."
Gingrich's answer to the problems would be to get rid of limits on campaign financing, which he said have made the problems worse by requiring more individual donations to meet the same goals, and to stage a series of "dialogues" among the major-party candidates -- once a week, for 90 minutes, for nine weeks before the elections.
Gingrich is one of the few people willing to speak up and say the obvious. Maybe he'll eventually realize that he's never going to be president.
Will Perry run again?
After raising almost $1 million, the Perry camp is spreading word that the Guv may run again in 2010.
I don't buy it. But they know that raising that kind of money begets the perception of power. And Perry isn't willing to be a lame duck.
08 August 2007
Short version of Suzanne Gamboa's AP article: trial lawyer Mikal Watts is a really rich dude.
A friend recently asked me why trial lawyers make so much money. My friend reasoned that the law of supply and demand should lead more people to be trial lawyers.
My answer: I think that it isn't an efficient market, because most lawyers are unwilling to be trial lawyers. Trial lawyers are largely viewed within the profession as sleazy, at best. And the perception among the general perception is probably even worse. If you're a good enough lawyer, you'll make plenty of money and the easy millions of mass torts aren't enough to compensate for the loss of social stature (plus possibly the law of diminishing returns with regards to wealth).
If this were 2000, the MSM would be all over it!
I'll link to almost any article that quotes Frank Guerra.
That fake plastic optimism**
Vince writes, in a post on recruiting Tommy Merritt challengers:
You might wonder why Republicans are doing this. After all, it's pretty evident they are going to lose control of the House in 2008, if not then by 2010.
I don't suppose he'd like to put a sizeable sum on which party controls more seats in the Texas House in 2009? No, I don't think he would.
But his post is hilarious to me. It's entitled "Republicans Plan to Eat More of Their Own in 2008." Seems to me that the lesson of the last 2 election cycles is that Democrats have eaten plenty of their own...and seemed to enjoy it very much. So if there's a "statewide schism" in the GOP as Leibowitz suggests, then there must be a permanent cleave in the Dems.
Meanwhile, Leibowits is drawing this grand conclusion from one example: Tommy Merritt. But folks like Guv Perry and Speaker Craddick are longtime non-fans of Merritt. And that's why he's still in the House and not the Senate.*
*See the SD1 special election a few years back.
** I'm listening to Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees.
The benefits of seniority
The Federal Highway Administration will absolutely not penalize Texas for its handling of the Highway 121 bidding process.
That's the message from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who said in an interview this afternoon that she called U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters this morning after reading a story in Wednesday's edition of The Dallas Morning News about lingering uncertainty on the issue.
"I am convinced there will be no demand for a return of federal funds," Sen. Hutchison said. "I had talked to her before, during the (state) legislative session when all of this was being dealt with at the time. I told her today that we were told then that there would be no federal penalty at all for what the Legislature was doing. She said she'd call me back and she did within two hours. She said, 'You are absolutely right.'"
Many Texans were outraged when the multi-billion-dollar toll-road deal went to the Spanish company Cintra. When the North Texas Tollway Authority responded by suggesting they could have offered a better deal, many lawmakers seized on their statements and pressured the Texas Transportation Commission to clear the way for a late bid by the NTTA.
The Federal Highway Administration responded by sending Texas officials a series of letters saying the late bid could violate the federal bidding rules and that the state could lose more than $200 million in federal funds if the contract was awarded to NTTA.
Here's a nightmare scenario: Cornyn is defeated and Hutchison becomes governor in 2010. Texas is left with a Senate contingent consisting of a Democrat of 2 years seniority and a Republican of zero seniority.
The Texas establishment isn't too fond of Cornyn, but they're going to have to think twice before backing any Democratic challenger, given the very real possibility that Hutchison will be governor in 2010. Hutchison also will probably be focusing on her gubernatorial campaign in 2009, meaning that a Cornyn defeat would also leave Texas poorly represented in 2008 and 2009.
While the Texas establishment may not be fond of Cornyn, they'll have to respect the 8 years of seniority he'll have by 2010. Further, while many of them don't see him as their type of legislator, they're completely missing the fact that he's very well regarded among the Senate Republican Caucus. That will put him in position to deliver.
Glenn Reynolds links approvingly to a Daily Kos commenter:
Biden has single-handedly f****d more Americans than Wilt Chamberlain with his 2005 Bankruptcy bill. He can talk a good game from time to time, but don't kid yourself - he's playing for the other team.
Egads! Biden has home state constituents! He represents his state! Ohmygosh!
[I should note that I don't have a position on the bankruptcy bill.]
It's always hard to start posting again...
...so let's start off with the story of the LATimes religion reporter who became an atheist after almost a decade on the religion beat.
And I'm listening to Pedro the Lion as I read the article in LA. Interesting juxtaposition.
Anyone want to be a member of congress? Anyone? Bueller?
Riddle me this. The setting: a very vulnerable incumbent who had previously drawn a plethora of challengers. Due to some unusual legal rulings, the very vulnerable incumbent had managed to squeak through a victory against a weak write-in candidate despite vastly outspending the weak write-in candidate.
You would think that this very vulnerable incumbent would draw lots of challengers, wouldn't you? I would. And yet, as of today, we still only have Sekula-Gibbs running against Nick Lampson.
What a bizarre world we live in. I'm almost ready to declare my candidacy. Heh.