27 April 2010

Just in case you were feeling safer from terrorists...

This is pretty far afield, but a Russian company has put together a video showing a cruise missile system that fits into the standard 40 foot shipping container, and thus is easily transported by boat, rail or truck. Now any tyrant can move missile systems around without attrracting attention.

As my friend says, "feel safer?" According to Reuters, the missiles are for real, and only costs $10 to $20 million.

Posted by Evan @ 04/27/10 07:15 PM | Comments (0)        


Is an in-law a parent?

Morgan Smith:

Texans for Public Justice says $20,100 the Fort Worth district court judge received from her mother-in-law, Norma J. Talley appears to flout the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act's $5,000 cap on individual campaign contributions and "may have shaped the outcome of the race for the Place 3 open seat." The law excludes immediate family members — defined as children, parents, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents — as well as bank loans from the limits imposed by the act.

Such a shocking ethics violation! Little ticky tacky technical violations of an increasingly byzantine system of campaign finance rules.

Posted by Evan @ 04/27/10 04:01 PM | Comments (0)        


Leppert still running for Senate?

Hat tip to the DMN's City Hall blog, where Rudolph Bush noticed that Tom Leppert appears to be gearing up for a 2012 race by launching a new website.

It doesn't look like it is aimed at another mayoral race, nor does this Youtube video. It has a fairly social media-heavy front page, which is ok, but maybe you don't want to make a social-media heavy front page that highlights that you only have 35 supporters? Yikes. And that you've only tweeted once?

Posted by Evan @ 04/27/10 03:48 PM | Comments (0)        


26 April 2010

Why Bill White's dropout attack is unlikely to work

From Terrence Stutz's DMN article:

A report from Texas A&M University last year projected that the dropout rate for the class of 2012 will range between 12.2 percent and 22.2 percent. And the U.S. Department of Education, in a report last year, said Texas had a graduation rate of 72.5 percent.

That was below the national average, 73.4 percent, but better than California, Florida and New York.

So, measured against its peers, Texas outperforms. That's usually a good sign.

Meanwhile, while Rick Perry has been governor, Texas has significantly trended downward in the dropout rate used by Bill White in his attack. Texas drop out rate declining

Finally, Texas received praise on many fronts by the bipartisan National Governors Association in October 2009.

As teacher and principal incentive pay programs begin to take hold in states such as Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas, states should provide financial bonuses not only for increasing student achievement, but also for decreasing dropout rates.


One approach governors can take is to speak about the importance of high school graduation in their state-of-the-state address. Several governors did exactly this in 2009. For example, Texas Governor Rick Perry highlighted the collective goal of ensuring that "every student graduates from Texas high schools."


To ensure that state investments in dropout prevention strategies are effective, states should target their investments using data and support evaluations of their efforts. For example, Texas launched a 9th-grade transition program in 2009 to provide 8th graders identified as being at risk of dropping out with summer programming followed by increased monitoring and support at the start of 9th grade. The state is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the program through an external, third party. This evaluation will inform the state’s policymakers as they decide whether and how to move forward with the program.


States can also offer new sources of funding to schools and districts focused on dropout recovery. In 2008, the Texas Education Agency created a Dropout Recovery Pilot Program, making it one of the first statewide efforts to focus specifically on recovering out-of-school youth. The pilot program provides eligible entities with grants to identify and recruit students who have dropped out of Texas public schools. School districts, nonprofit education organizations, and education service centers are eligible to apply for grant funds. The entities receive financial incentives up to $2,000 per student above base state funding, including $250 for each interim student achievement benchmark met, such as earning enough credits to advance to the next grade level. Grantees receive $1,000 for each student who earns a high school diploma, obtains a GED plus college credit, or gains advanced technical credit.


The goal of all high schools is to prepare students for college and careers. Unfortunately, many current high schools are not meeting this goal. To meet the challenge of college and career readiness, states are supporting models that create a direct bridge from high school to postsecondary study. States such as Indiana, North Carolina, and Texas have obtained private financing to create rigorous high school models that focus on college preparedness. The Texas High School Project has created 91 new schools in high-need districts statewide, with an emphasis on urban areas and the Texas-Mexico border. In 2008, more than half of the schools received accountability rankings of "Exemplary" or "Recognized" -- the two highest ratings given by the state.

Posted by Evan @ 04/26/10 11:13 PM | Comments (0)        


Rick Perry in Newsweek, surrounded by Evan

Rick Perry newsweek cover I've had the Newsweek stories open in my browser for the last week or so, but haven't really felt like there was much to comment on. Here's a blip from the accompanying interview:

ES:You've been in public office for more than 25 years, and you are the longest-serving governor in the history of the state. Yet you've managed to run for the last few months as an outsider.
Rick Perry: I disagree that I paint myself as somehow outside. Now, I did run a campaign as us—Texas—versus Washington. Washington is the center of bad public policy in most people's opinion and has been for some time—not just in this current administration, though this administration is carrying it to new levels. Do you want Texas to be run the way it has been run, with a Texas-centric philosophy, or do you want this person from Washington, D.C., to come down here and use Washington-style policies and philosophies? I think the people sent a pretty strong message.

ES: A couple of different times in this conversation, you've alluded to having to battle problems that predated the Obama administration. I can't help but notice that you have a bust of Ronald Reagan, whom you consider to be a great president, over your shoulder. I don't see a bust anywhere of George W. Bush.
Rick Perry: Um, I don't know whether George's gotten any busts done yet.

So now, I, Evan, am commenting on Evan's interview that accompanies Evan's cover story. It's an Evan world out there.

Posted by Evan @ 04/26/10 09:57 PM | Comments (0)        


Clearing out open tabs in my browser

* The Senate GOP created an ad-hoc 'counsel' position so that Kay Bailey Hutchison -- a member of the GOP leadership before she decided to run for Senate -- is back on the leadership team.

* Meanwhile, KBH is promising to get funding for the DFW Trinity River project.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison promised Wednesday to secure federal funds for the Trinity River projects in Dallas and Fort Worth and to see the massive redevelopments through to completion.

"Nothing great ever happens easily. This is not easy," she said. "But it is so important to the development of our two cities that I'm not at all giving up."

Both Trinity projects rely heavily on earmarks, and Hutchison told business leaders from the Dallas Regional Chamber and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce that she will use earmarks, among other methods, to ensure both projects receive the money they need.

Hypothetical: if Hutchison were to decide to run for re-election in 2012, would these help or hurt her get re-elected? KBH put $1.2 billion in earmarks into the 2010 federal budget. Keep in mind that she would get more of a test in the primary than in the general.

* Peggy Fikac profiles Debra Medina and gets her on record saying she plans to run for office again. Here's a prediction: she won't win.

* The AP headline, "Perry still courting right at Glenn Beck event."

* Finally, Senator Hutchison gave the response to Obama's radio address last week. If you are so inclined:

Posted by Evan @ 04/26/10 09:00 PM | Comments (0)        


25 April 2010

In only a year?

Paul Burka:

Remember that comment Perry made a week or so ago, when Obama talked about adding jobs at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida but remained mum about the Johnson Space Center in Houston? Perry said that Obama had "put a target on Texas's back." One hardly expects Obama to love a state that he failed to carry in 2008 by 43.68% to 55.45%...

This is an interesting comment to me, because Obama rose to fame by saying things like "there are no blue states and red states, only the United States."

We've apparently arrived at the point in a year where it's expected that Obama punishes states that didn't give him their electoral votes? That was fast.

Posted by Evan @ 04/25/10 01:50 PM | Comments (0)        


24 April 2010

If Rick Perry were running for president...

I have a question for the Rick-Perry-is-running-for-President-I-can-feel-it-no-matter-what-the-facts-say! crowd, and I'm serious: if Rick Perry were really running for president, would he be appearing with Glenn Beck?

Posted by Evan @ 04/24/10 12:20 AM | Comments (0)        


21 April 2010

Prediction: Kinky Friedman won't be running again soon as a Democrat

Kinky Friedman thinks Democrats have lost their populism in opposing the Tea Parties:

Some in [Democrats] referred to them as "tea-baggers", a rather kinky slang term that titillated a few college students but otherwise accomplished very little. Then they began calling the Tea Party folks ignorant. (Recent polling shows the Tea Party to be better educated and more affluent than most Americans.) The Democrats did not hold their fire, however. It wasn't long before some of the misguided among them began attacking this windmill like a misanthropic, maniacal Don Quixote.

Finally, because the growing crowds of Tea Party people were mostly comprised of whites, they called them racist. They didn't call NASCAR or Jimmy Buffett racists, although their audiences are mainly white. Besides helping me campaign for governor of Texas as an Independent in 2006, the last time I checked, Jimmy was a good little Democrat. Calling the Tea Party racist is like saying that because there are no Orthodox Jews in the crowd at the Grand Ol' Opry, it must be anti-Semitic. The truth is that the Grand Ol' Opry crowd is probably more pro-Israel than the Obama administration.

Posted by Evan @ 04/21/10 06:22 PM | Comments (0)        



- Boone Pickens has filed suit against the Texas Water Development Board. AP:

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens wants a court to derail state approval of a water management plan that he claims would take $10 million off the value of his groundwater rights in the Texas Panhandle.

Pickens' attorney, Marty Jones, said Tuesday that the oilman filed a lawsuit against the Texas Water Development Board last month.

Leading the story with a loaded word doesn't seem like quality journalism to me, especially when the word isn't relevant to the story.

- Roger L Simon was on hand to hear Perry proclaim, "In Texas, we love our guns, religion and NASCAR!" Not exactly three things you'd associate with the novelist, but he is impressed with Perry.

- A Fort Worth area rancher named Billy Mitchell recently bought some anti-Perry newspaper ads for $2700 saying that the Governor is completely full of excrement, reports Bud Kennedy.

Mitchell's ad included the required disclosure "Political ad paid for by Billy Mitchell." He called the ethics commission to ask whether he needed to file more paperwork. They told him yes. They also told him he was eight days late.
"I said, 'What about my freedom of speech?'" Mitchell, 52, said Wednesday.
"They told me, 'You have to fill out our documents before you get your freedom of speech.'"

- Ross Perot on the Tea Party movement, from the AP:

"Time will tell how effective it is," Perot told reporters Tuesday in Kansas City, where he was receiving a leadership award from the Army's Command and General Staff College Foundation. "Just as a layman looking at it from afar, it seems to me they are pretty well-organized and getting the crowd."
While I read journalists talking about a potential 3rd party, I rarely see any sentiment from those that actually consider themselves Tea Partiers.

Posted by Evan @ 04/21/10 06:11 PM | Comments (0)        


Politipinion strikes again!

I was going to criticize Politipinion's latest poorly supported opinion, but Rick v Kay has already given the smackdown.

I really don't get it. Instead of taking substantive factual assertions, Politipinon has appointed itself the arbiter of such things as the meaning of Soviet-style. If you're going to call someone a liar, best to stick to things that non-partisans would agree to.

Posted by Evan @ 04/21/10 05:56 PM | Comments (0)        


A quick data point on internet polls

You may recall that I do not favor internet polls, which I wrote about when Texas Tribune decided to do an internet poll without making it clearly obvious that it was an internet poll.

The current outlier in the UK election polls is an internet poll, from the same/related firm that did the Texas Tribune poll. Now perhaps they'll be correct, we don't yet know. But given that the LDs are probably weakest in a demographic that internet polls would likely underrate? It doesn't look good for the internet polls.

Posted by Evan @ 04/21/10 01:22 PM | Comments (0)        


That Mark Sanders knows how to pick them

Peggy Fikac reports on one of the folks she likes to quote:

Texas political consultant Mark Sanders is temporarily moving to Arizona to be communications director for GOP former congressman J.D. Hayworth's effort to unseat former presidential nominee John McCain. One Hayworth quote reported by the Arizona Daily Star: "Just like the liberals, John opposes waterboarding captured terrorists like the Christmas bomber."
Tony Sanchez to Carole Strayhorn to JD Hayworth.

Wow. Mark Sanders sure knows how to pick candidates.

Posted by Evan @ 04/21/10 12:19 AM | Comments (0)        


20 April 2010

He obviously doesn't care that much

I'm not exactly sure why a few statewides decided to attend the rally of George Pataki for President to repeal ObamaCare when he isn't even doing the one thing (run for Senate) that might actually lead to that result.

But hey, some of our statewides have shown a strange penchant for endorsing strange presidential bids from New Yorkers!

Posted by Evan @ 04/20/10 06:15 PM | Comments (1)        


In his own words: Perry not running for President

Gobernador Perry le dice a una periodista de los Eventos Humanos que no va a postularse:

I'm not being coy. I don't want to go to Washington, D.C.," Perry told HUMAN EVENTS in an exclusive interview. "I have great interest in who will be the presidential candidate in 2012, and I’ll be active and I'll be engaged and I'll be helpful and do all of the things that a governor of a major state can do and should do, but it won't be me… I have a great bully pulpit."

I'd submit that the facts conform closer to Perry's explication than they do with a decision to run for president.

Posted by Evan @ 04/20/10 06:00 PM | Comments (0)        


Dodd's financial regulation bill is a disaster of a clunker

There's alot I disagree with in Chris Dodd's regulation re-write. He has pretty much gotten it wrong on every point. But maybe the worst parts are the parts requiring venture capital firms to report to the SEC for systemic risk reasons (absolute nonsense!) and the regulation strangulation for angel investors:

A bigger problem is that a section of the reform bill from Senator Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.) has three provisions that, taken altogether, could dampen angel investing far more than the Great Recession did. Currently, fledgling companies can raise money from accredited investors—high-net-worth individuals—without regulatory approval. The Dodd bill would require money-raising startups to register with the SEC, which would get 120 days to review the filing. The wealth and income baselines for angels would also double. The bill proposes revoking the rule that allows angels to follow federal regulations, rather than various state rules, in funding companies.

Let's just regulate anything that actually causes economic growth and new jobs! Sounds like a plan! Seriously, do they even pretend to think these things through?

Posted by Evan @ 04/20/10 05:27 PM | Comments (0)        


Cornyn and Crist

Besides being a fascinating race in its own right, it's pretty interesting to watch Sen Cornyn's handling of Crist.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which endorsed Crist over primary challenger Marco Rubio last May as the most "electable" candidate in the race, concluded Monday in a memo sent to party operatives that "there is a zero chance Governor Crist continues running in the Republican primary."

"It is our view that if Governor Crist believes he cannot win a primary, then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day," wrote NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer in an e-mail obtained by POLITICO and first reported by CNN. "If the Governor decides to run independent, regardless of any public commitments he makes regarding organization, we will support Marco Rubio in any way possible."

Jesmer noted in the memo that the message has been communicated to Crist's team and would have been delivered to the governor directly, had he returned a phone call from NRSC chairman John Cornyn.

Awhile back recruiting Crist was a big score for Cornyn. Not only was he an extremely strong candidate to keep the seat under Republican control, but he would be able to raise enough money so that the NRSC could use its resources elsewhere. Having recruited Crist, Cornyn endorsed him. Then rose Rubio, and you can track in public comments the waning NRSC enthusiasm as Rubio's poll numbers rise. Now the NRSC is essentially begging Crist to drop out and not run as an independent.

It sure looks like he's going to go independent, but if he does and loses, he's done. As I wrote previously, if I were Crist I would have switched back to the gubernatorial race and ran for re-election. I still might do it if I were Crist, as McCollum isn't exactly the most inspiring candidate.

Crist once had a shot at being president. Now it looks less than likely that he'll ever be elected anything ever again.

Posted by Evan @ 04/20/10 04:50 PM | Comments (0)        


19 April 2010

Rasmussen: Perry 48, White 44

Rasmussen, 4/14/2010, 500 LV. Number in ( ) are from 3/4/2010 Rasmussen poll.
Perry 48 (49)
White 44 (43)
Other 2 (3)
Not Sure 6 (6)

Obama Job Approval
Approve 36% (27% strongly)
Disapprove 63 (55% strongly)

Perry Job Approval
Approve 54% (17% strongly)
Disapprove 44% (22% strongly)

Bill White favorable impression
Favorable 54% (25% strongly)
Unfavorable 34 (13% strongly)

79% think voters should have to show ID to vote. 17% say no, 5% aren't sure.

Posted by Evan @ 04/19/10 01:15 PM | Comments (0)        


17 April 2010

As California goes...

Phil Martin criticizes Paul Burka for saying:

The message sent by voters in the Republican primary is that they have little use for establishment politicians...All of the energy right now is being supplied by angry Republican voters who can't wait to get to the polls and kick out incumbents.

Democrats should be very worried about this political climate.

Martin doesn't exactly claim that Burka is wrong that it will be a bad year for Democrats. On the other hand, I'd have to agree with him that there is very little to be drawn for general elections from primary data. Still, just because you can't draw conclusions from primary data doesn't transform the underlying conclusion backed by the rest of the evidence: 2010 is a bad year for Democrats.

Apropos of this subject, let's have a gander at California:

Hints of re-election trouble for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer come from a 65-year-old travel agent from this leafy Los Angeles suburb [Westlake Village] who's a fellow Democrat.

To Helen Sargent, taxes and the national debt are too high, President Barack Obama has proved a disappointment and the Democratic Party needs new faces.

Boxer, who's seeking a fourth term this fall, "has been there too long," Sargent said. "All politicians have a shelf life."

Boxer carried Westlake Village by 56 votes in 2004.


More troubling: More than half the state's independents, the swing voters, have an unfavorable opinion of the senator.

Boxer "is part of the political system that wants to grow the government," says John Millrany, 71, a semi-retired public relations executive and political independent who once was a Democratic Party volunteer.

"I think the government is growing too large," he said outside the library. "The entitlements and the taxes are bound to go up."

This is California. If people feel that way in California, how do you think they feel in Texas?

Posted by Evan @ 04/17/10 06:19 PM | Comments (0)        


The one in which I defend Bill White from Politipinion

In mid-January, the governor, the lt gov, and the speaker sent a joint memo telling agencies to submit plans for 5% budget cuts. As I noted at the time, "of $182.3 billion in the budget, the cuts only apply to about $32 billion. Still, that would cover $1.6 billion of the hole."

On March 9, Bill White criticized "just [cutting] across the board, Soviet style...you know, budget management that only career politicians seem to embrace." He did so in the context of saying that he didn't agree with one-size-fits-all budget cuts, because he would cut some departments more than others.

Today, April 17, Politifact gives its "pants on fire" liar rating to White's statement. Yikes.

Bill White didn't lie. He gave an opinion. Maybe he used a loaded word, but so what? Most words in the English language bring some connotations. He thinks that a standardized dictate from up high reminds him of the Soviets. That's not a factual assertion, it's his not-unreasonable opinon. Rather than investigating what academics think of the phrase "Soviet-style," how about we actually investigate Bill White's record as a manager?

Posted by Evan @ 04/17/10 12:10 AM | Comments (0)        


Another Houston Metro scandal

KHOU drops the bomb on Paul Magaziner and Gayla Hamilton's sleuthing:

It all dates back to November of 2009, when Metro filed an application for that $900 million [federal grant]. Magaziner says to qualify for that grant, Metro had to prove to the FTA that it could afford to build all five lines of its proposed light rail expansion. Just proving it could afford three, or four lines was not an option he says, pointing to Metro’s own statements in its federal filing.

But he says Metro knew full well it could not afford to build all five lines, but instead, he claims, tried to fool the federal government into thinking it would be possible. Metro did that, he says, by replacing newer, more up to date financial forecasts for sales tax revenue with older outdated information created back in 2008 before the financial crash ever took place.

In other words, to quote Tory Gattis' summary
[Metro] intentionally used out-of-date pre-recession sales tax revenue estimates to "prove" it could afford to build all five lines (which was required). UH Dr. Barton Smith gave them updated numbers in June 2009, but they chose to submit the old June 2008 numbers with the November 2009 application.
The difference in numbers is just a mere $2.5 billion. 2,500,000,000.

We have a mess of a transit agency in Houston because of Bill White. the Mayor of Houston controls Metro. In other words, these are Bill White's handpicked people, and Metro is not exactly a low-profile agency with a noncontroversial history.

Posted by Evan @ 04/17/10 12:07 AM | Comments (0)        


16 April 2010

Winners and losers of primary season 2010


The Democratic establishment
Recent Senate primaries have made the case that the Democratic establishment backing wasn't worth much. Radnofsky couldn't avoid a runoff against a guy who didn't campaign in 2006. Bentsen and Kirk ran behind Victor Morales in 2002 (though Kirk came from behind to take the runoff), and Victor Morales upset two long-time congressman in 96 as well. Though establishment candidate Tony Sanchez won in 2002, it doesn't really count, as Morales had been MIA for a few years, Sanchez spent tens of millions more than Morales, and in retrospect Morales appears to have been running only to fight off the corruption charges that would send him to jail for a few years. So for White to avoid the runoff so convincingly was a good sign that they can still be worth something in primaries.

I started this blog by saying that the media had it all wrong. Despite universal agreement among Texas media in early 2005 that Hutchison was the overwhelming favorite, I said she wasn't even the favorite. No one believed me. I've now been proven correct twice -- once when she ran and once when she didn't. Plus I applied to work at a venture capital fund recently, so clairvoyance can't hurt my application!

Rick Perry
Duh? He beat the state's previously most popular politician, and not just beat her but overwhelmed her. He even avoided a runoff. Obviously he really wanted to convince Kay not to run, but short of that, this was about as good a result as can be imagined.

Bill White
Avoided a runoff by a long shot. I've said a million times that I'm not expert on the Democratic primary, but there was substantial doubt among other analysts as well that he would avoid a runoff. He did by alot.

I haven't added up the numbers conclusively, but he appears to have the votes to get re-elected Speaker. He lost some folks like Delwin Jones and Brian McCall, but I think he'll

Ted Cruz
Intuitively you would put him in the losers section, right? The shuffle didn't happen and he now has no office to run for. On the other hand, he's known by activists, he's got seven figures in the bank, and he's shown that he'll be a force to be reckoned with in the future. I for sure wouldn't want to be working on an opposing campaign.

Texas Tribune
It's true that they occasionally revealed their left-leaning ownership, but they also were one of the first places to get news...as was DMN's Trailblazers blog.


Debra Medina
I'm cutting against the grain on this one, as most people would say she helped herself. But did she help herself with anyone in her party who will still be around in 6 years? Color me skeptical. For someone who is already not even close to being within the mainsteram of Republican thought, she managed to repeatedly let us know that she was okay having people around her who deny the Holocaust question whether 9/11 was directed by former President Bush.

The Bushies
In the ongoing Perry vs Bush cold war (both sides would deny the existence), this proxy battle in Afghanistan was won by Perry (who plays Charlie Wilson?). George HW Bush, Jim Baker, and Dick Cheney all came around to endorse Kay Bailey. Many of Bush's political team was (theoretically) advising KBH informally. But the Bushies who have come home from DC won't be running things for at least another four years...

Kay Bailey Hutchison
Is there really anything left to say that hasn't been said? She didn't articulate a reason why people should make her governor. I refuse to rehash the rest.

Political Junkies
For a supposed clash of the titans, Rick v Kay really underperformed, didn't it? I would've liked to have seen a stronger performance from Kay, but such is life.

Farouk Shami
I took him quite seriously when I learned about him, but wrote him off afterwards when it became obvious that the ship was never seaworthy. It's hard to say whether his consultants took him for a $10+ million ride or whether he ran exactly the campaign he wanted to run because it made him feel important. I'm leaning towards both.

Op-ed boards
Op-ed endorsements are fairly archaic by this point. It's one thing if they get the candidates to sit down, ask them pressing questions and then post the video. That'd be useful! People would watch! Instead a declining industry 100% unanimously backed a candidate who got 30% of the vote writing the same old 3 paragraphs on the side of the editorial page.

Posted by Evan @ 04/16/10 06:14 AM | Comments (0)        


Tea party day

[for the record, I had to file 5 or 6 different schedules and forms and what not. We can thank our Congress for how difficult it is.]

Republican activists have been throwing tea parties on April 15th since I can remember. But now reporters are going to them.

Gromer Jeffers talks of the tea parties last year and says:

A year ago today Rick Perry won the Republican nomination for governor. At the time, we just didn't know it.

Perry attended several tea parties last April 15, including the event in Austin where he told reporters that he understood the views of those who wanted Texas to leave the union.

I think Perry won because Hutchison looked at her husband when she heard of Perry's remarks and said something like, "we just won." It showed that Hutchison was out of touch and incapable of running a solid campaign.

Meanwhile, though Perry participated in a tea party planning call, he didn't actually speak to one (although Newt did). Last year, if I recall correctly, he scrambled to speak to several. This year he was hanging out with a former Democratic state senator:

Perry appeared with Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, NASCAR Champion Bobby Labonte and others in downtown Fort Worth to promote NASCAR weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Afterward, the governor and the mayor posed for photos in front of Labonte's Chevrolet Impala SS, sponsored by Perry's re-election campaign and emblazoned with his campaign logo. Despite the photo op, Moncrief said he wasn't making an endorsement in the governor's race.

Have you ever noticed that Perry has usually done a pretty good job at charming Democrats he used to work with?

Posted by Evan @ 04/16/10 12:15 AM | Comments (0)        


15 April 2010

Burka might be right, but I'd like factual support

Paul Burka wrote almost 800 words on why he thinks Rick Perry is running for president. But in those 800 words the only factual support that he gave was that 1) he asked people to text fired up to his campaign, and 2) he talked about the federal government being too big.

Well, I grant that number 1 is evidence to be weighed. A fundraising network outside of Texas is important to running for president. On the other hand, campaigns require money and Perry is in a campaign now. If we're talking about running for president, Perry has served as Chair of the Republican Governors Association and currently serves as Finance Chair. Those two pieces of information probably weigh more towards Perry running than the fact that the tried to expand his campaign text message database. All in all, I wouldn't put too much importance on Perry asking people to text him. He can use that to raise money, and that's what politicians do: they raise money.

As for Perry saying the fed government is too big, well that's kinda par for the course isn't it? He does that in every speech, and has over the past year, if not beyond. Are there any Republicans giving speeches that don't say this?

Burka could be right. Maybe Perry is running for president. Maybe his whole story about not wanting to go to DC is just a coverup for the fact that he's running. But all in all, the facts seem to suggest much more strongly that Perry is not running for President.

Posted by Evan @ 04/15/10 03:57 PM | Comments (4)        


One Crazy Grandma returns!

You didn't think she was going to stay away did you? I sure didn't!

The Austin City Council is considering a plan to get 35% of its power generation through renewable sources by 2020. A group called Austinites for Action is protesting that, claiming that it would be a 57% rate hike. Who's the executive director? That's right, Carole Keeton Strayhorn! The Austin Chronicle has the plan's authors saying:

That 57% figure is a far cry from the city's rate increase estimate of 20%. "Their numbers are just wrong," says Chris Herbert, chair of the city's Resource Management Commission. Aside from obscuring the fact that the 20% increase wouldn't be fully in place for another decade (and again, it's only a long-term policy proposal at this point, inevitably subject to further revision once it's adopted), AFA also includes other costs the utility will face, green plan or not – such as, notably, energy transmission riders and inflation, wholly unrelated to the generation mix. "If Carole has a plan to eliminate inflation," says Herbert, "I would like to meet with her. ... If you don't do a damn thing, inflation's going to happen.

The AusChron also reports that the group's leaders have ties to the right...is Carole planning another party switch to run for office?

Posted by Evan @ 04/15/10 12:43 AM | Comments (0)        


Twitter -- Add me

You may have noticed that I added a Twitter link on the sidebar. I've gotten a bit more active on Twitter lately, and I might occasionally put some content there that I don't here.

It's interesting, although I tend to be an early adopted of most new technological things (especially if they're not on the hardware side), I've never gotten into Twitter until recently. Perhaps partly because when it first came out I thought it was essentially mainly for texting, and I've always hated text messages. And then just no one in my circle used Twitter much, so there there was no 'network effect' for me. But I've started to appreciate it. So, if you might grant me a favor, follow me so I have more of a reason to use it. @PerryVsWorld

Follow PerryVsWorld on Twitter

Posted by Evan @ 04/15/10 12:33 AM | Comments (0)        


14 April 2010

Rice alum Rep. John Kline is leading recruitment for Tim Pawlenty's prospective presidential campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 04/14/10 05:03 PM | Comments (0)        


Mrs. White likes Mr. White

Chron columnist Lisa Falkenberg jumps on quick when Bill White talks about the dropout rate. I don't seem to recall her caring much when Kay said it though.

Posted by Evan @ 04/14/10 04:57 PM | Comments (0)        


12 April 2010

Rick Perry for President?

I don't get the state media's obsession with promoting the idea that Rick Perry is running for president.

What evidence do we have of this? Running for president is a 2+ year job these days. The folks running are largely already planning how they want to do it. Mitt Romney is already organizing for straw polls.

Yet the Texas media is obsessed with it. Is it to sell papers and magazines? I guess some promote it because they think it will hurt Perry?

But there's not alot of evidence out there. Let's review what evidence we have.
1. I haven't heard a single rumor that Perry is telling people, "maybe" or "we'll keep the door cracked just in case."
2. Perry asked that his name be taken off the SRLC straw poll.
3. He did the same thing at Value Voters '09.
4. He turned down an invite from the Iowa Republican Party to speak up there.
5. Endorsing Rudy Giuliani. This is not a smart move from someone who is planning a future run for president.
6. The legislative session runs until mid-year.

So what's left? An "I'm mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore!" run? Well, maybe, but I think someone will probably try to grab that particular message...and it's probably not a message that even gets you the VP slot.

I just don't see it. There's not enough time that after the legislative session Perry can turn around and say, "hey, I'm running for president." So, for me, the bottom line is: Rick Perry 1) says he isn't running, 2) says he doesn't want to run, 3) is taking no steps to run, and 4) will have some significant logistical steps if he tries to run.

To be honest, the only people who seem really convinced that Perry is running for president are people who work for Bill White.

Posted by Evan @ 04/12/10 09:35 PM | Comments (0)        


Had Chris Bell already announced for dogcatcher?

Peggy Fikac:

There's no Democrat running against GOP state Comptroller Susan Combs, who reaped consumer complaints and bad headlines when an appliance rebate program's phone line and Web site couldn't keep up with the demand (her office demanded a performance review from the company that got an $876,525 state contract to handle the program.)

Sure, names were floated for the Democratic nod -- former congressmanNick Lampson, state Rep. Mike Villarreal of San Antonio and even Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-2006 independent gubernatorial candidate (and former comptroller)Carole Keeton Strayhorn -- but no one pulled the trigger.

"There was a lot of effort made to recruit a candidate for comptroller," said Democratic strategist Ed Martin, who said either Lampson or Villarreal would have been good.

Nick Lampson and Chris Bell will run for just about anything. When you can't get out-of-work career politicians after lots of effort, maybe Matt Angle's recruiting isn't up to snuff. Or maybe he was just spending too much time recruiting Linda Chavez-Thompson.

Posted by Evan @ 04/12/10 06:53 PM | Comments (0)        


Punish your friends, reward your enemies: Germany

Dirk KurbjuweitDer Spiegel

Angela Merkel is traveling across America this week. It's a country she loves, but the German chancellor is still having trouble connecting with Barack Obama. Her political style couldn't be any more different from that of the US president. She's fighting to prevent the US from disregarding or dominating the Europeans.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is traveling around the United States this week. She loves the country, but she has a few problems with its president, Barack Obama. Her political style is vastly different from that of the US president, but she also has something else to contend with: Washington's disregard for and attempts to dominate Europeans.

That last sentence made me laugh. Europeans once longing for Bush's presidency to be over are now learning an age old lesson: be careful what you wish for.

Posted by Evan @ 04/12/10 01:42 PM | Comments (0)        


09 April 2010

Perry speaks at SRLC, asks not to be on straw poll

I find it strange that in an article titled "Perry speech fuels 2012 talk," Elise Hu at the Texas Tribune didn't mention that Perry specifically requested to have his name left off the presidential straw poll.

Posted by Evan @ 04/09/10 06:43 PM | Comments (0)        


Texas Watchdog stories

* Mark Lisheron at Texas Watchdog reports on our federal deficit at work:

If the people of Bedford, Texas, are still borrowing whatever they are calling books in 72 years, they may find themselves in the public library on the very day the energy saved by the library's planned solar power system finally equals the cost to build it.

The solar plant in Bedford, between Fort Worth and Dallas, would not have been built at all without a nearly $2 million Department of Energy stimulus grant.

The same could be said of nearly all the other 31 projects in Texas given approval for stimulus funding by the State Energy Conservation Office.

* Meanwhile, Steve Miller at Texas Watchdog finds that

South Texas is rife with agents from local political camps who prosper by organizing mail-in ballot fraud, elections administrators and other observers in the region say, even after a state-level push to curb the wrongdoing.
Signatures requesting ballots and signing ballots were different. Yikes.

Posted by Evan @ 04/09/10 09:08 AM | Comments (0)        


Odds and Ends

* That post below took a surprising amount of time. This is why bloggers are so prone to snarky comments, I guess. And while I frequently criticize journalists, it underscores the need for original writing. That's why I try to put journalists names in posts and avoid over-excerpting.

* Dave Berri's first book (see interview) has probably kept my interest in the NBA alive significantly more than it would have been. I remember getting so annoyed at reading in the paper things like "Jordan leads Bulls with 24" and then seeing that he took 26 shots. My metric for the time was 1 shot (with 2 free throws equaling a shot) needed to bring at least a point, on average. This seemed obvious to me but was missing from all popular commentary. I was glad to see that my boxscore musings were close to being right.

I'm excited that Berri is doing research on soccer. If I had money right now or was a partner in a private equity fund, I would buy one of the English teams (Portsmouth essentially recently sold for assumption of debt if I recall correctly) and bring statistics into every aspect of the club's sporting operation. If successful, the branding from becoming a big club could be worth a billion dollars. I actually have something of a team of people in mind.

* I wrote a post off-line in Spanish, we'll see if I get around to typing it up. Maybe I should put something provocative in there to see if anyone actually reads it?

* Currently in the works is a magazine-length piece. Not sure if I'll post it here, try to sell it, or not ever get around to finishing it because I don't have time. It's about a specific special interest in Texas Politics; I think it'll be a pretty good story if I get it done.

Posted by Evan @ 04/09/10 06:51 AM | Comments (0)        


Bill White is recycling Hutchison's attacks on Perry

Jared Janes in McAllen's Monitor:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White criticized Gov. Rick Perry for a high school dropout rate in Texas that White says hampers economic growth.

The gubernatorial hopeful said 30 percent of Texas high school students don't graduate within four years, limiting the state's workforce pool.

That sounded awfully familiar to me. It was a common theme for Hutchison's speeches.
She said she wants to move to Austin to combat a 30 percent high school drop out rate that imperils Texas' ability to attract next-generation jobs.
It's not true. Although I've been critical of Politipinion, they published solidly researched report.
First, researchers and governments have many different ways of measuring how many students leave school before graduating. Analyzing different data with different methods yields statistical results that vary -- a lot. To add to the confusion, any of those measurements might be termed the "dropout" rate in public discourse, depending on who is wielding the terminology.

Hutchison's campaign pointed us to several news stories that quoted the nonprofit Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio, which has its roots in the legal fight for school funding equity.

In other words, not exactly a disinterested just-the-facts group, but one with a predisposition to see things negatively. Politipinion's summary:
Our conclusion? If you ask how many Texas students drop out of school, you'll get wildly different answers. In our own analysis, we found dropout rates that range from 3 percent (the one-year rate) to 33 percent (the attrition rate), and each one had its defenders.

Hutchison's dropout reference is based on student attrition, a simplistic measurement that is not the way the state prefers to count dropouts but is nevertheless accepted by some experts.

To quote Janes again:
A study released last year by Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service projected the dropout rate for the class of 2012 to be 12.2 percent to 22.2 percent -- or 40,519 to 73,692 students -- using the various measures.
Nonetheless, since Hutchison used this line of attack for awhile, lowering the drop out rate is something we can all agree on. Surely Bill White has a plan to lower the dropout rate, right?

Er...no, according to Gary Scharrer's reporting.

White, the son of public school educators, conceded there is no single or easy answer to the problem.

"You need to start early with early childhood education," he said. "You need to offset summer learning loss (programs) for those elementary school kids who do not have access to books and computers at home during the summer. You need to have more flexible programs that accommodate and support those students in their attempt to graduate who must work when they are in high school."

I got 3 things out of that: 1) spend more money on early childhood education, 2) do something about summer learning loss, and 3) flexible programs to keep kids in school.

That's not really a serious proposal, it's a few off-the-cuff suppositions. Bill White's supporters continually impute that the former mayor is a first-order wonk, but if so, where's the beef?

Spending more money on early childhood education is theoretically a great thing, but if I recall correctly, most studies show gains evaporating long before students make it to high school. In other words, it probably makes more sense to make the schools that we have work before adding more years of ineffective schooling. In a world of limited resources, we need to choose programs that work.

As to summer learning loss, if I recall correctly studies fairly solidly show that the loss over the summer is mostly felt by students from low-income households. The only thing likely to have any impact is year-round schooling, and while 10-year-old-Evan can't believe what he is hearing from me, it's probably something worth looking at because it might actually be effective, especially in some school districts. And improving education for the poor would be HUGE. But of course, White didn't propose that. And let's be honest, anything short of that isn't going to change anything.

As for flexible programs to keep kids in school? Scharrer reports that Perry already proposed that:

Perry advocates "virtual high schools" to keep students in school.

"Give them the flexibility to be able to stay in high school. And I really like the idea of using the incentive that if you are of high school age and you are not either in a bricks-and-mortar or a virtual high school that you will not get a driver's license. It will be directly connected to whether or not you are in a school working toward getting that diploma," Perry said.

I remember Paul Burka arguing that this was a horrible proposal. I'm not convinced: it's an attempt to keep would-be dropouts within the system, and hopefully funnel them into virtual high school which help them make progress towards a GED. I think whether it turns out well or bad would largely depend on the incentives given. But it is a more serious proposal to combat the dropout rate than anything that Bill White has proposed to date.

Posted by Evan @ 04/09/10 12:56 AM | Comments (2)        


Rick picks up a Kay education idea?

Do you remember when Kay Bailey Hutchison proposed putting Kindles in the classroom? Sounds like the Governor liked her idea. Kelley Shannon, AP:

Gov. Rick Perry proposed Wednesday that Texas abandon using traditional textbooks in public schools and replace them with computer technology.

"I don't see any reason in the world why we need to have textbooks in Texas in the next four years. Do you agree?" Perry asked participants at a computer gaming education conference in Austin.

During his wide-ranging speech, the governor offered some new ideas for boosting student performance and defended his education record.

I'll admit that when I heard Kay proposing a Kindle, I thought: what? But it would make it substantially easier to keep textbooks up to date. Plus with the capability of accessing the internet, teachers could potentially bring in current events to make things up-to-the-minute and relevant.

Sounds like Perry liked Hutchison's idea.

Posted by Evan @ 04/09/10 12:05 AM | Comments (0)        


08 April 2010

Espanol para todos

I'm thinking of writing blog posts in English and Spanish, mostly for the fun of it. Maybe also because of the folks who would get angered by it.

Posted by Evan @ 04/08/10 10:57 AM | Comments (0)        


Losing an election isn't an easy thing

Rick v Kay writes:

[Kay's behavior towards Rick] is a really weird situation... usually the loser has to grovel and beg for forgiveness and suck up to the winner... but in this case the loser Kay is acting a little like a sore loser.

I'm not so sure it's abnormal, and from Kay's position she has very little on the line personally, while she . She'll probably do an event eventually, because if she completely sits it out and Perry loses by a nose, she will lose some friends and alot of respect. But I don't think too many people begrudge her taking a little time -- although Hutchison immediately endorsed Perry...which is a pretty classy move after losing an election.

And George W. Bush didn't exactly grovel to McCain, but I seem to recall that he ate a little bit of crow and played nice to John McCain in 2000. Of course, the media was also quite fixated on the Bush and McCain relationship.

Posted by Evan @ 04/08/10 06:32 AM | Comments (0)        


Interview with David Berri, author of _Stumbling on Wins_

Today features something a little different. Sports economist David Berri has a new book out, Stumbling on Wins. I was a big fan of Berri's first book, Wages of Wins, and regularly read his blog. I sent him a few short questions.

PVW: Whenever I read you write about your work, you seem to put it in terms of behavioral economics, but I've never actually heard you use the term. Do you identify yourself within that camp as an economist?

To answer your questions I am going to refer to the summary of behavioral economics offered by Alan Krueger at Princeton.

Krueger offers the following description of behavioral economics:

As Krueger notes, this is one of the fastest growing fields in economics. Stumbling on Wins is but one book drawing upon research from this field. For example, in Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely presents evidence – drawn from laboratory experiments -- that human beings frequently fall short of the rational ideal. Nudge – by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein -- show how once we understand that people are not perfectly rational better policies can be designed. And How Markets Fail (by John Cassidy), The Myth of the Rational Market (by Justin Fox), and Animal Spirits (by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller), all demonstrate how behavioral economics can explain the causes of our recent economic downturn. So this is not just a field that is growing, it's also an important area of research.

PVW: It's been a few years since I read your excellent first book, Wages of Wins. As I remember it, the book was disproportionately weighted towards basketball, though it certainly had some chapters in other sports as well that would have been worth the price on their own. Does this book contain a similar percentage about basketball?

Stumbling on Wins covers research from baseball, hockey, basketball, and American football. The NBA is the primary focus of Chapter Two (Defending Isiah), Chapter Six (The Pareto Principle and Drafting Mistakes) and Chapter Eight (Is it the Teacher or the Students?). Hockey is the primary focus of Chapter Three (The Search for Useful Stats). American Football is the focus of Chapter Four (Football in Black and White), Chapter Five (Finding the Face of the Franchise), and parts of Chapter Seven (Inefficient on the Field). And baseball comes up in Chapter One (Maybe the Fans are Right) and parts of Chapter Six and Seven.

Essentially the book is trying to show that the Moneyball phenomenon (decision-makers in baseball were not valuing players correctly for much of baseball history) is something we see in all the major North American sports.

PVW: Did any parts of your new book surprise you when you first did the research?

Let me refer to what has become a classic cliché in answering your question. Specifically, it was Albert Einstein who said, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

I think that quote captures the unpredictability of research. For each study we are asking some basic questions: What determines draft position of an NFL quarterback? What factors determine the pay of an NBA free agent? What factors determine wins in the NBA? How consistent are NHL goalies across time?

The answer to each question isn't known before we start investigating the issue. And the answers – given what we understand of the conventional wisdom – are all somewhat surprising.

PVW: What parts of the new book do you think will cause the most controversy?

This is hard to answer. The story that was picked up on first was the story on the impact a Final Four appearance has on an NBA's players draft position. I would not have guessed that story was going to be noted first and that demonstrates how hard it is to predict how people react to the stories you tell.

PVW: In 5 years, what overvaluations and undervaluations in the NBA do you think will persist?
This is one of the key questions addressed in behavioral economics. How quickly does new information get adopted by decision-makers? In traditional economics it is imagined that information is adopted instantaneously. In reality, though, the process seems much slower. We note in the book, baseball had the data to calculate on-base percentage since the 1860s. But it doesn't appear that it was correctly incorporated in the valuation of players until the 21st century. That record suggests that the overvaluation of scoring in the NBA might persist for some time to come.

PVW: If charges drawn was kept as an NBA stat, do you think it would improve the explanatory power of Wins Produced?

No, the explanatory power is based on the connection offensive and defensive efficiency has to wins. But it would allow us to connect part of what is currently counted for the team to the individual players. So our evaluation of players would be improved (although I doubt it would be much of an improvement).

Let me offer a few more details on Wins Produced:

The model used to measure player performance begins with the simple notion that wins in the NBA are determined by a team's offensive and defensive efficiency. From this statistical model we can derive the value – in terms of wins – of much that is in the NBA box score. These values tell us that wins in the NBA are primarily determined by shooting efficiency and the ability of a team to capture and maintain possession of the ball. This means that an NBA player helps his team win when he is an efficient scorer, grabs rebounds, captures steals, and avoids turnovers (i.e. the possession factors). Blocked shots, assists, personal fouls do matter. But shooting efficiency and the possession factors matter more.

The model explains 95% of team wins and is much more consistent across time than the plus-minus models. But it does tell us that players who score inefficiently, and/or who are below average with respect to the possession factors, do not help a team win very much. And this can be true even if the player scores more than 20 points per game. As a consequence, Wins Produced can produce results that contradict what people generally believe about NBA players. Again, popular perception is driven by scoring. So as we argue in the Stumbling on Wins, perhaps what we see from Wins Produced shouldn’t be that surprising.

PVW: Now, for a change of pace: which do you think will be easier to model: american football or football (soccer)?

I am currently doing more work on both sports. My sense is that soccer will be easier. But then again, research is often surprising. So I am not sure that will be my answer when my co-authors and I finish our research.

Thank you, Professor Berri.

Note: for the sports fan clicking through, this is a blog about Texas politics, so you'll probably be disappointed. The only post even remotely related is Rick Perry sponsoring Bobby Labonte. Although I'm not sure that the sabermetric statheads are NASCAR fans, perhaps they are.

Posted by Evan @ 04/08/10 12:09 AM | Comments (0)        


07 April 2010

David Jennings on LinkLetter's payola

Props to David Jennings for publicizing the LinkLetter's pay-for-play. That has always been one of my least favorite parts of Harris County Republican politics. Every campaign I've ever been part of in Harris County has internally called it pay-for-play, whether they played ball or didn't.

Posted by Evan @ 04/07/10 10:48 PM | Comments (0)        


People care about Rick Perry sponsoring Bobby Labonte

My post isn't even terribly high up in the rankings for Rick Perry sponsors Bobby Labonte, but there are a fair amount of people coming to vist anyway.

Given that Perry has trended towards a different model of voter turnout, this spending looks better every time I think about it.

Posted by Evan @ 04/07/10 10:11 PM | Comments (0)        


I'd rather be a Republican in Texas in 2010 than in 2006

Karl-Thomas Musselman at BOR kindly links to me in his Texas blog roundup (which is usually a good finger on the pulse):

A debate over the median Texas voter as it relates to Bill White's campaign strategy. It's right and wrong. Wrong in that Bill White doesn't have to worry much at all about his left flank in going after middle of the road voters- the left flank needs a win more than it needs a champion. Rick Perry vs the World is right in the sense that White may have not strayed much from Barack Obama- but he's wrong in saying that makes him a liberal. I mean, come one, Barack Obama is not a liberal champion so White's pretty in line with the middle of the road.
Karl-T and I agree that Bill White has not strayed much (if at all?) from Obama. So substantively, liberals should be quite happy with him. I'm not sure why Karl-T says I was wrong when I agree with him on that 100%.

As I read it, Karl-T is suggesting that Obama is middle of the road, so thus White should feel comfortable running with Obama as he has been doing? I don't think Texas voters would agree in any way that Barack Obama is middle of the road.

Perhaps that is why Bill White is running the campaign he is. As I said, the only time I've found him differing from Obama was to criticize Obama for not being liberal enough. I don't think that's a winning strategy in Texas in any year, but especially not in 2010.

Posted by Evan @ 04/07/10 10:07 PM | Comments (0)        


06 April 2010

I don't think William McKenzie understands the median Texas voter very well

William McKenzie analyzes Rick Perry vs Bill White:

Will White be able to get enough of its more liberal members to give him cover so he can go out and try to win more moderate-to-right-leaning independents? If the independents were hard right, they would be in Perry's camp. But they aren't hard right, so they are up for grabs.

White can't win them, though, if he runs a campaign that appeals mostly to Democrats, especially the party's base. He needs freedom to wander off the reservation, if you will.

The only way he can do that is if the Garnet Colemans, Jim Dunmams and Leticia Van De Puttes give him room. As the party's more established liberals, those state legislators can deliver the message to fellow Democrats that White needs room to win over independents, especially those influential suburbanites who turn out at the polls in droves.

I thought about one-lining this with a snarky: so that is why Bill White is going around talking to reporters about how liberal he was growing up?

But in truth, I don't agree with McKenzie on this at all. He presents a false dichotomy that smart campaigns reject.

Apart from that, to this point in the race, where has Bill White substantively strayed from his party or from Barack Obama? Perhaps I've missed it, but the only time I remember him disagreeing publically with Barack Obama it was to criticize his cap and trade legislation for not being liberal enough. Does that sound like a winning formula for getting to 50%+1 in Texas? Is the Median Texas Voter going to vote for Barack Obama in 2010?

Finally, Mr. McKenzie, your rhetoric suggests that Republicans are "hard right." That's a loaded phrase, essentially used only to criticize Republicans. I did a quick search for any instances where you use the phrase "hard left." I couldn't find any. It's probably not a good idea to use language more often used by liberal bloggers than by thoughtful journalists, especially when Republicans and Republican-leaners are a majority of your potential customers.

Posted by Evan @ 04/06/10 06:15 PM | Comments (2)        


Rick Perry to sponsor Bobby Labonte's 71

Rick Perry has sponsored Nascar driver (and Texan) Bobby Labonte's number 71 for the April 18th Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 race at the Texas Motor Speedway. The ad on the front bumper asks folks to text 71 to 95613 which goes toward Perry's strategy of being able to contact folks for free electronically. They paid $225,000 for the privilege, and apparently think it's the first time a candidate has bought ads on a driver's car.

April 10th is the last day for the Perry's tour with Labonte's race car.

Here's the Rick Perry video talking about the activities they've got planned:

History of politicians with NASCAR:
It's not the first time a political logo has been appeared in Nascar. Kirk Shelmerdine put the BushCheney '04 logo on his race car because he didn't find an advertiser for the space. His exercise of free speech earned him an FEC investigation for a few years, an admonishment, and assuredly lots of legal fees.

Also, Democrat Kendrick Meek, a Florida Congressman running for Senate sponsored Mike Wallace at Daytona in the second-tier Nationwide series, as did former Florida Senator Bob Graham's presidential campaign.

Update for the folks searching here: Bobby Labonte's 71 car is taking a trip around Texas for the next few days. That schedule is at the end of the post. They're also auctioning off two race day VIP passes.

This post has also been edited so that people coming in on search engines can hopefully find some of the stuff they are searching for. Below is the full press release:

[Read More]

Posted by Evan @ 04/06/10 05:50 PM | Comments (0)        


05 April 2010

Week 4 of Bill White not releasing his tax returns

Peggy Fikac notes:

It's week four of waiting for White to release his income tax returns for the time he served as Houston mayor. He has said he won't release any except for the time he's been running for statewide office (that's 2009 so far). Perry has released returns since 1996

I am fascinated by the fact that Bill White thinks he can get away with not releasing his tax returns. He's running for governor of an economy that is one of the top 10 in the world. Not only is it customary for any major candidate, but White has been talking about his success as a businessman (ignoring the fact that he had more success as a trial lawyer than as a businessman). It's pretty reasonable for voters to want to know about potential conflicts of interest. As a heuristic, it's probably also reasonable that voters assume that if a candidate doesn't release his tax returns, he probably has something to hide.

It's not an issue that will go away. The press will keep talking about it. Even if the press were to neglect to mention this fact again, the fact that Perry's campaign can put it in ads means that it's a losing issue for White.

I assume White will release his tax returns soon. In the meantime, he is looking silly refusing to release them and losing media cycles. And, he is defusing any potential ethics charges he might try to throw at Perry later.

Posted by Evan @ 04/05/10 07:14 AM | Comments (0)        


Peggy Fikac does the state of KBH - Perry relations, one month after the primary.

Her office isn't making any promises: "I don't think we're even thinking about fall campaigning right now. Politics doesn't come into focus at this point at all. She's focused right now on doing her job in the Senate, because it is intense up there," said Hutchison spokeswoman Lisette Mondello.

Political scientist Jerry Polinard of the University of Texas-Pan American noted it would be the political norm for Hutchison to campaign for Perry:
"During the primary campaign, your opponent has three sixes behind their ear," he said. "But after it's over, it's time for a group hug." Polinard said Hutchison could help Perry appeal to her primary backers who'd be more inclined to sit out the general election than vote for Perry or White.

This is the standard line, and it is certainly not wrong. But it is more right in some contexts than in others. All things considered, I think KBH's 2010 primary campaign showed that she 1) did not inspire a significant core of ardent supporters, and 2) did not attract new voters to the process. Even so, Perry is clearly hoping for an event or two, and he should, because Hutchison brings a warm, fuzzy "Good Housekeeping" moderate seal of approval. Plus it keeps newspapers from writing constantly about the state of the relationship.

It would be great for the GOP if Hutchison campaigned for Perry, said political consultant Mark Sanders, but he added, "It's hard in this business to run against someone and then go stand with that person at a political rally or campaign fundraiser. Sometimes we forget it, but these people are human."

As I read this line, I remembered that a reporter at one of the big dailies had recently labelled Mark Sanders a GOP consultant, which is clearly non-factual. I checked, and it was in fact Peggy Fikac. So kudos to Fikac for changing her label.

With that said, quoting Sanders when talking about Perry is a perilous endeavour. Sanders once mostly did GOP campaigns, until he switched to the Democrats to run against Rick Perry. Then in 2006, he switched to independent Carole Strayhorn to run against...Rick Perry. He also did some unusual (to say the least) candidate recruitment once upon a time. Given all that, there are probably better sources for unbiased Rick Perry analysis than Mark Sanders. This is a pretty innocuous quote, however; not exactly a situation that called for insightful analysis.

Posted by Evan @ 04/05/10 12:14 AM | Comments (1)        


03 April 2010

I didn't mention this when it came out a few weeks ago, but...what?

Former Houston Mayor Bill White's service on the board of an oil field services company now facing a congressional inquiry is not illegal, but it is unusual.

Only White and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert showed up as serving as directors of major corporations.

White, the Democratic nominee for governor, made $2.6 million during his tenure as Houston's mayor by also serving on the board of BJ Services Co. The firm now is part of a congressional investigation into hydraulic fracturing techniques in gas drilling and whether it leads to groundwater pollution.

That is very rare to be a director of a corporation while mayor of the 4th largest city in America. How did that never get published until now?

Folks like Richard Murray like to talk about how brilliant Bill White is, but his duration at mayor was pretty clearly focused on higher office. Why wouldn't he be perspicacious enough to avoid this? I guess he figured $2.6 million bucks was worth the negative hit when the news came out in a campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 04/03/10 11:31 PM | Comments (1)        


02 April 2010

Perry vs KBH, after


Perry said he "would suspect you've heard the last of that" when asked Thursday about [the moniker Kay Bailout Hutchison].

He applauds Hutchison for staying in the Senate, noting she's on some "very important committees" that can help Texas. Perry, who faces Democrat Bill White in November, also says he anticipates Hutchison's help with his re-election.

In his words, "We're on the team. We just had an intramural scrimmage, and we got that over with."

I always love the post-primary quotes.

Posted by Evan @ 04/02/10 09:26 AM | Comments (0)        


Could Kay Bailey Hutchison win re-election if she ran?

I think I'd put the odds at more than slightly against her. Now, I know this is hypothetical, but I like hypotheticals. [Side note: it was also a hypothetical when I started this blog to write about KBH would be an underdog against Perry if she challenged him.]

KBH would have to first decide to run, of course. And I have no idea about that. She certainly has been lusting after being governor for the last 8 years or so, with rumors that she was frequently telling people that she wanted to stop travelling, spend more time with her family, etc. She also sold her house in Virginia.

But I think anyone who has paid attention over the last 8 years has also been inured to her words about running for office. She once promised to serve only 2 terms in the Senate. Then she thought about running for governor in 2002. Then she flirted for years with running in 2006 for governor. Then she's changed her mind innumerable times about resigning from the Senate; let's not relive them all, shall we?

On the other hand, if she was absolutely not running for re-election, why bother flying in John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell? Why bother laying out reasons which could plausibly be the reason to run for re-election in 2012?

So, let's start with the obvious: she will get a primary challenger. I'd be shocked if she avoids a serious primary challenge. And I do mean shocked. (Thought exercise: if for some fluke, no one ran against a KBH, wouldn't Ted Cruz jump in? In today's political environment, I think he'd beat her even more soundly than Marco Rubio is beating Charlie Crist.) Lots of people were planning their runs and she promised many of them personally she'd resign. They won't forget.

Then the second obvious fact: Perry just showed her challengers how to beat her. There are some mitigating factors, of course. For one, Kay doesn't need as much of a reason why she's running, which she utterly failed at explaining in her run for governor. Second, running against earmarks in 2012 may not play as well as it did in 2010, plus the issue played slightly better against her in a state race than it would in a federal run.

But then, her answers on abortion will also stand out more in a Senate primary, since it is more of a federal issue than a state issue. And there are so many attack ads that write themselves. The abortion ads, the pork ads, the termlimits pledge turned resigned pledge. I think that alot of people would spend more time calling her a moderate, whereas Rick v. Kay didn't end up as a conservative vs moderate pledge. That's a strategy that gets her into a runoff but loses her the runoff. And one final problem: plenty of folks joined and gave money to Kay for Governor at the time because it looked like a winner. I don't think those people would be there for the re-elect.

All in all, if I were advising Hutchison, I'd tell her to serve her term out and retire gracefully without considering running for even a second. But, as we've learned, nothing seems too certain with KBH until the filing deadline has passed.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, last 6 months or so excepted, was never an outspoken, partisan leader in DC. If she really starts leading the charge, then we'll know that something is up.

Posted by Evan @ 04/02/10 08:38 AM | Comments (2)        


01 April 2010

More on "_Is Houston a sanctuary city_?" (Answer: Yes)

In 1979, the Los Angeles Police Department issued Special Order 40, prohibiting police officers from investigating or arresting illegal immigrants, a policy quite similar to what Houston has today.

in 1985, Chicago became a sanctuary city under Mayor Washington. The policy was then reaffirmed in the late 80s by Mayor Daley.

In 1989, San Francisco's city council as well as some other big cities around the nation passed a resolution calling themselves a "sanctuary city." This is akin to Congress passing a non-binding resolution proclaiming Michael Jackson to be a great American: it has zero legal impact. It is only ceremonial.

In 1992, the Houston Police Department issued General Order 500-5. According to the National Immigration Law Center (a left-leaning, Soros-backed group who approves of policies like these), Houston's policy is as follows:

Establishes that undocumented immigration status on its own does not constitute a matter for local police action, and unlawful entry is not to be treated as an on-going offense occurring in the presence of a local police officer.
- Prohibits police officers from stopping or apprehending individuals solely on the belief that they are in the
country illegally.
- Officers may not make inquiries as to the citizenship status of any person, nor detain or arrest any individual
solely on the belief that they are in the U.S. illegally.
- Police officers are prohibited in participating in INS raids where the primary purpose is the arrest of persons
for their undocumented status.
- Police officers may assist INS agents on criminal matters of mutual concern only when
* they have been requested to do so by INS agents,
* they will be clearly exercising their police powers under Texas state laws, and
* they have obtained authorization from an Assistant Chief prior to participation.
This excerpt was taken from a list of cities with policies similar to Houston's. Most of them have a long history of claiming to be sanctuary cities.


In 1996, Congress passed Section 287(g) which authorized the federal government to perform immigration law enforcement functions, among other things. Bill White chose not to be on the list of jurisdictions who joined Section 287(g).

Rudy Giuliani sued and lost:

In 1996, the Republican Congress outlawed outright city bans on reporting immigration status to federal officials. Giuliani challenged the law in court and lost.

Somewhere in this time period, the Mayor of the Worst-Run Big city in the US, San Francisco's Gavin Newsom, decided to actively try to do anything possible to thwart federal immigration arrests.

In 2005, Bill White opposed Houston City Councilman Mark Ellis' plan

Ellis's resolution would permit police to check the citizenship status of people arrested for Class C misdemeanors, such as traffic violations, and would require such inquiries for anyone involved in more serious crimes. Those found to be in the country illegally would be referred to immigration officials.
Bill White also told the Houston Chronicle that he supported the current policy, because he didn't think the matter was worth the police's time.

Houston is a Sanctuary CityThis graphic is taken from Wikipedia.

With all that in mind, it's not too surprising that the Congressional Research Service named Houston a sanctuary city several times, including in 2006...even after Bill White had been protesting that Houston is not a sanctuary city.

Bill White and Annise Parker claim that Houston is not a sanctuary city, apparently because Houston doesn't actively work against federal immigration policy to the extent that San Francisco does. But of course, the term "sanctuary city" dates back far before Gavin Newsom, and even before San Francisco decided in 1989 to ceremonially make themselves a ceremony city. Houston isn't as extreme a sanctuary city as San Francisco; I don't think anyone will quibble with that.

But the common list provided of sanctuary cities are those jurisdictions that have limits on information that can be obtained or disclosed about a person's immigrations status. Houston has one. Under current policy, Houston is a sanctuary city, even if, perhaps, a more moderate one than San Francisco.

Posted by Evan @ 04/01/10 10:19 PM | Comments (0)        


Petraeus for President*

Mark Bowden is one of my favorite authors. Beyond just Black Hawk Down, he's written lots of engaging profiles stories. He profiles General Petraeus for Vanity Fair, and it's pretty clear he was very impressed.

* The title isn't really serious. No way he's running for president unless Obama really angers him.

Posted by Evan @ 04/01/10 05:10 PM | Comments (0)        


Perry's April Fools joke was "Bill White releases his tax returns."

Bill White has a pretty simple way to defuse the story: release his tax returns.

So far, aside from impressive fundraising numbers, I've been underwhelmed by Bill White's campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 04/01/10 04:48 PM | Comments (0)        


Rasmussen reports that 80% of Texas media mentions for Bill White were positive. Meanwhile, Perry had 55% negative mentions.

Texas media didn't like Perry before, but after he slighted them by refusing to appear before newspaper editorial boards? Oh boy!

Posted by Evan @ 04/01/10 11:54 AM | Comments (0)        


What _would_ Martin Frost do?

Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar says he briefed Speaker of the House Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on a redistricting compromise whereby the Democrats get 2 seats and Republicans get 2 seats. He claims that they agreed in principle.

Maybe I'm the only one who asks myself: what would Martin Frost do? Yeah, I don't think Democrats are going to get an easy 2 seats.

Posted by Evan @ 04/01/10 10:48 AM | Comments (0)        



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