Monday, November 30, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/30/2009)

Back to the grind.....

It's cute when the local art community gets mad. Meanwhile Wayne Dolcefino laughs all the way to the ratings bank.

While you don't want your church to be partisan, if they can't take a stand on issues, then what can they take a stand on? (Without admitting that you're pushing for Gov't controlled religion that is?)

Much ado about personalized plates. (And little ado about Holiday transit schedules, updates on construction etc.)

There's still little heat surrounding the City of Houston Controller's race. Which is sad for a position that's so vital to good municipal government.

Guaranteed with taxpayer funds. (Which, when you think about it, is the ultimate guarantee) *Probably not ideal, but very safe*

How good a Mayor was Bill White really? - An interesting idea for a series from the Bill White (I keed) Tribune. *You should check back on this often as more e-mails fly back n' forth* (Full Disclosure: I've e-mailed with Benzion extensively on this issue.)

Of course Bill White is running for Governor. (The question now is, can he stand up to Rick Perry's infamous campaign style?)

Are West Texas Democrats in trouble? (Is West Texas Flat?)

After a lifetime in public office, Rick Perry's got this travel thing down. He also knows how to spin. Look for that here.

Ah the Houston Press Turkeys of the Year. If you need any further evidence that Houston's (former) alt-weekly was mailing it in, you can stop at this story. Now, I'm no fan of Rick Perry, but naming him Houston's top turkey? Lazy, lazy journalism. Why not just link to Texas Monthly's (far better) Turkey story and save readers the hassle. (Or, as BlogHouston has suggested: Name themselves Houston's Turkey of the Year for the increasing amateurization and sloppiness of their content.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/29/09)

How can something so bad taste so good?

The Republican version of the "L" word. (Typically rolled out when a candidate is getting nervous.)

Loren Steffy, sales pitch?

College TV tries to grow up & (more importantly) get some viewers.

The new head of the Texas Forensic Science Panel argues with his family. In other news, it's hot in Houston in the Summer.

Bill King on crime. (It's too bad he didn't throw his hat in the ring for Houston Mayor, if for no other reason than to expand the dialogue from the "me too" rut.)

Slampo deconstructs the "sensible" tab and realizes that he's grown more sensible over the years as well.

I missed the CCTT's citing of an East Anglia professor days after the leaked climate e-mails. Thank goodness Texpat from Lone Star Times didn't. (Hee!)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/28/09)

Back on the grid (so to speak)....

Today's candidate for Humanitarian of the Year.

Kevin Brady's star is a-risin' Speaking up being the very low bar for Republican representatives these days.

Expert political commentary (Subject to change if the economy improves)

Love is in the air.... (Question for the day: Is White considered an excellent candidate because he's so good? Or is it because what he's being compared to is so poor?)

Council, Council, Council...

After some prodding, Gene Locke releases his tax returns on the Thanksgiving Week news equivalent of "Friday @ 5 PM."

BlogHouston continues its focus on stories surrounding the CoH Parking Commission. (Unelected, and with an awful lot of power)

Remember the free downtown Metro trolleys? Well, they're back...for a bit....until the DangerTrain forces them to go away again...Ah the state of public transit in Houston

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/24/09)

First, I'd like to point out a couple of important stories, before the oxygen gets sucked out....

Here's an interesting primer on the budget woes that will confront the next Texas Lege. It's not pretty.

Those who teach the teachers are not doing very well. That's a problem for all save teacher apologists whose default answer to the problems are schools are facing is "raise teacher pay". Some teachers certainly deserve higher pay, some don't however....It'd serve us well to remember that.

What happens when the Lege writes a bonus bill that's not intended to be paid? Not surprisingly, the AG rules that he cannot approve the payment. *Cue partisan mud-slinging now*

Biodiesel is pissed. It seems they're not getting the tax breaks that their political backers are telling the oil companies to grin and bear losing. *Viability be damned*

You just can't run out and start fiddling with embryonic stem-cells willy nilly.

And now, the big* story:

By now it's been well documented that Bill White is (possibly) making the jump from TX-Sen to TX-Gov. In a lazy media State such as Texas these are the stories that stir the souls of reporters and bloggers everywhere....Commence la festivale...

Houston's biggest political blog informs us that Bill White's speaking to pastors, that the path is clearing for his switch to the gubernatorial and provides a lazy man's version of why he's switching. Not much of a value add, but there you go.

The Bill White Tribune is still cranking them out. From Bill White's (considerable) campaign fund to Evan Smith's umbrage to a scorecard (because reporters LOVE scorecards) keeping track of the winners & losers from the White Decision Texas' newest political blog is all over this story.

I noted yesterday that there was much rejoicing amongst the InterLeft. Today I offer proof. From pleas to plow the filed for White to new, invigorated, down-ballow wish-lists to pronouncements of endorsements and candidate crystal ball gazing there ain't no party like an InterLeft party 'cause an InterLeft party don't end.

Finally, Texas Monthly....Burka name drops (and takes another shot at Hutchison) and Swartz reports...Nothing to see here. (of much use anyway)

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bill White-A-Palooza (Gubernatorial Edition)

In case you haven't heard:

White's making the jump from the (someday)TX-Sen race to the (Certain) race for TX-Gov.

According to the report on the Texas Tribune, the State Democratic Party is working to clear the field for the primary.

Good move. The last thing White supporters want is to be stuck in a run-off with a no-name candidate or even worse (for Democrats) a run-off with Kinky Freidman.

UPDATE: Texas Tribune hits the ground running with Moderate 2.0 or...Why White could win.

UPDATE Deux (Pt 1): They might as well call themselves The Bill White Tribune.

UPDATE Deux (Pt 2): Texas Watchdog gets into the act.

UPDATE Deux (Pt. 3): In the InterLeft there was much rejoicing.

The Rick Perry love-fest

Question One: How do you know it's the slow political season?

Answer: Lazy political pundits are busy banging out 'won/loss' opinions on campaign ads.

Question Two: How do you know your political pundit is lazy and/or not especially creative?

Answer: See above.

In retrospect, we shouldn't really be all that surprised. Burka's best political days were spent kow-towing with the Bush inner-circle. Once they left Austin for D.C., his days as a tuned-in political reporter came scratching to a halt. Casey's best days were spent in San Antonio writing stem-winders about the criminal justice system there. He doesn't have the institutional knowledge of Houston government, the Rolodex (obviously) or the desire to become a really good Metro/State columnist, so he obviously skims the interwebs for column ideas. That's great...if you're an unpaid blogger, but not so great if you're being paid to be the lead Metro columnist at the biggest political blog (and former newspaper of record) for America's fourth largest city. (With an editorial board that's turning getting it wrong into an art-form.)

This is the second news non-story that I'm surprised is garnering so much attention in the media. When you consider the other, more important local and state-level issues that would benefit from the in-depth treatment a columnist can provide, one wonders whether good, issues oriented column-writing is going the way of the newspaper industry?

Most bloggers, self included, lack the resources to provide the level of in-depth reporting found in a well-researched column*, most lack the sense of journalism as well. The fact is most bloggers (not all) are ideological and partisan in nature. It's very rare to find someone willing to do something for free without the strong, motivating influence that political ideology provides. The upside to this is spirited debate. The downside, as we've seen here, is lackluster, predictable political commentary when the established media decide to punt.

The Noise Machine (11/23/09)

Unplug yourself for a's refreshing.

The law of unintended consequences: Part One

Part Two

Part Three What's not mentioned in this story is the fact that, once federal subsidies run out, these states are going to have to raise taxes again to cover the increased federal mandates to their unemployment system. Federal unemployment subsidies are a band-aid for the cancer of a wheezing economy.

Don't look now, but those eeeevil Christians are coming for your history. As opposed to those 'enlightened' scientists, who wish to change things as well. (History being the victors' account of past events after all)

Sometimes I wonder if the problem isn't that Sen. Carona is wrong (I tend to agree with him that something needs to be done in regards to transportation funding) but that, from all accounts, he's kind of comes acrross (in the media) as a pompous, self-righteous, abrasive asshole?

They say saving more but earning less as if it's a bad thing....Isn't one of the primary goals of "Change" the eradication of the consumer economy? (And, by definition, a reduction in the income and consumption of every American?) *I know, I know, it wasn't framed like that but still...*

I'm not sure if dropping open admissions is a serious proposal or just more noise from UH-D, but I like the idea. It'd be nice to end the illusion that there's a place in today's University system for everyone. Some people would do better learning a trade. (Of course, they wouldn't be pumping thousands into the University system is probably a good thing for their lifetime balance sheet as well.)

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again (Alternatively titled: Once the government decides they want something, they'll keep trying until they get it.) Or, get voted out of office....whichever comes first. *Well-crafted rebuttal here*

You can't make an omelette without first breaking some eggs.

Sometimes I wonder who writes headlines like these: "Non-Profit needs donations for Thanksgiving Big Feast" Of course they do....need donations that is...Fortunately, based on the news today (suddenly the link on ChronBlog is gone) Houstonians stepped up

1/4 of 1¢ will save Metro. Until those declining revenues fail to cover the interest payments on the bonds that is. Declining revenues driven by Metro's ignorance of their core service FWIW. *Screw-it...trains are prettier*

The ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank goes all-in for Parker, choosing to go against the establishment for the first time in recent memory. There will be plenty of time after the election for a post-mortem, but for now I think it's safe to say that the negative of associating with Republican groups > the positive of being the establishment least in the eyes of the CCTT (And, probably, the voters as well)

Continuing the endorsement theme: Historic preservation & unwise development > flooding and drainage, at least, as far as the CCTT is concerned. (Derr's opponent, Costello, is viewed as being well-versed in the latter issue, Derr in the former) *There's an alternate theory: that Derr is supported by the local InterLeft which makes her more palatable to the CCTT, but I don't subscribe to that, because (for all of their faults) the CCTT endorses outside of the wishes of the InterLeft almost as much as they endorse outside the wishes of the HCRP*

The rise of the plug-in hybrid? Could-be. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't agree with White's assessment of the vehicles as the future of personal transportation. Where we probably differ is that I'm much more enthused about micro-grid power generation than most. That being said, I'm not sure if it's cost-effective to push this program down taxpayer throats, during a time when you're lecturing others about the perils of new spending. *Senate-Candidate White however will probably find this program very useful when campaigning for the Sierra Club endorsement.*

Hutchison basically proves what I've said all along: The entirety of the Republican health-care plan is "tax-cuts and tort reform". That's OK as a first step, but it doesn't do enough to cover those that are being priced out of the system.

Houston's Parking Commission strikes again. Unelected executive-branch bodies given the power of the purse never work out well do they?

Unca Darrell tells you why it's bad when journalists view themselves as the gatekeepers of truth. Give me the facts, let me sort out the truth.

BARC is at it again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Bill White-a-Palooza

Sidd Finch didn't get this much positive press, and even he was to have signed with the Mets during the current year. Such is the moth-to-the-porchlight attraction of the Texas media to the campaign of do as I say, not as I do Houston Mayor/Senate aspirant Bill White.

The attraction to White I can understand, for Texas Monthly White is viewed as a return to the Caucasian Dixiecrats that rode herd over the State from the time of reconstruction up until the ascension of Dubya. (When, ironically, almost all of the conservative Texas Democrats jumped ship to the Republican Party and cast off the vestiges of populism that made the State work. [See: Perry, Rick for more]) The Chronicle has a long history of standing by her man even when her man's been trying to yank the welcome mat away from charity groups. Outside of InterLeft support, White's next strongest ally has been ChronBlog. Viewed from that angle This and this makes sense. Another ChronBlog angle is to view this as the journalist-education of new politics writer Joe Holley. After all, a ChronBlog political gig has to involve a man-crush on White. Were we given access to their employment contracts I'm sure it'd be in the fine print somewhere.

From all accounts Bill White is a likable guy who enjoys occasionally cursing at the hired help. Something that places him in the wheelhouse of great Southern Democrats such as Lyndon B. Johnson'd say Rahm Emmanuel but he's not really Southern is he?) All Bill White is really lacking is a "Great Society" style legislative package for America. Unfortunately for him, Obama has stolen the LBJ thunder and is currently letting Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid dump a big ol' sack of incompetence all over it.

This poses a small problem for White, who is now going to have to dust off Safe Clear, Houston Hope and the Mobility Response Team, otherwise known as "slackers on scooters" before they got Dolcefinoed into productivity, in his pitch to voters. Then there's the whole Kay Bailey Hutchison factor. Will she or won't she jump-ship eventually and push her stack all-in to a gubernatorial race where she's probably not going to escape the primary? Because, if/when KBH loses to Perry, why would she have any interest in giving up her cushy D.C. office so that someone else can move in and order new drapes?

In short: She won't. Which is why I think she won't be leaving the Senate any time soon and why she might even decide to run for a fourth term in 2012. If recent history is any indication, she'll run, win the race, and then resign 2 months after she's sworn in thus allowing a Rick Perry to appoint whatever Republican recently got shoved out of office by the voters into that seat to fill the unexpired term, or until a 2014 Special depending on the timing.

What none of the news stories has the guts to say is what every Texas Democrat is thinking: "Please, please Mayor White, in the name of all that's progressive and holy (and by holy we mean in the non-exclusive, non-religious, non-judgmental sense) please stop chasing KBH's coattails and throw your hat in the ring where it could do our Party some good. Please run for Governor."

ADDENDUM: "My Pal" that anything like My Buddy?

The Noise Machine (11/20/09)

It's a free-for-all.

It seems that Gene Locke "hearts" Mary Benton and can't stand Texas Watchdog...Stay Tuned. (BlogHouston is predicting a Locke Tax Return release on Wednesday @ 4:30 in the afternoon, which is the Thanksgiving week equivilent of a Friday evening press release -news the candidates wish to sweep under the rug-) HCA is throwing it's wager behind 5:00 PM, after most people have left town or have started cooking turkeys.

He who hesitates is the tune of $82 Million dollars.

Dumb move.

Yeah, OK, Gene Locke's wife is the bee's knees, but is she a ChronBlog Dim BrightBulb? Because until she is count us as less than impressed.

Hey, Roy...can you spare a few thousand voters?

So Houston voters waited a week for this? (More importantly: Can we get a refund?)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/19/09)

Thor's Day special edition....

The ChronBlog provides coverage of the stimulus mess without giving so much as a nod to the non-profit news organizations that got to the story earlier, and have provided more in-depth coverage. (Re-hashes of 'olds' hearken back to the Washington bureau days of old, welcome back folks!)

For the next two years we will control all that you see and hear. (And if you don't do it our way, we'll threaten your funding. Got it?)

Brandi Grissom and Matt Stiles of the Texas Tribune co-auther a nice piece on the downside of short-term, high-interest loans. (Back when usury laws were enforced, these would have never gotten off the ground.)

The easy framing of the Farouk Shami Gubernatorial campaign is to focus on his Muslim name and the recent Fort Hood shootings. Not surprisingly, ChronBlog's R.G. Ratcliffe chose that path in his obligatory story today. A more in-depth analysis might note that the early chatter coming from the InterLeft is focusing on his Republican ties moreso than his Palestinian ties. (Then again, we're talking about ChronBlog)

I'm not a death penalty opponent, I see a use for the punishment in certain cases. That being said, I feel that Texas is a State that over-applies the statute in many cases. This is one of them. Commute the sentance already.

It's always funny when the media botches a story, and then starts finger-pointing after the fact. "Connecting the dots in hindsight" being a particular specialty of the ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank

What's that? It's a jitney.

How can we miss you if you won't go away? *Kidding...database crashes are a royal bitch*

Yeah...but can they force me to drive a GM? That's where I draw the line

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Government we deserve...

We either elected them, are going to have the opportunity to elect them, or they're given opinion-maker status by the media...*

Radnofsky questions the legal status of marriage in Texas (And blames current AG Abbott for making it so)

That's right, more anti-homosexual rhetoric. (This time by many time failed political candidate Dave Wilson who, in a sane society, would be laughed off the reservation)

Did the City of Houston just spend $600K to aid Senate-Candidate White's campaign? (The "Houston Hope" project is being listed by his campaign as one of his successes) {This after warning the next Mayor about spending money the City doesn't have}

Whoever the next Governor is, will be looking down the barrel at a financially unstable school system.

*Depressing isn't it?

The Noise Machine (11/18/09)

Colder than a witches.....

How DARE you not let me stay in Gov't funded housing for as long as I damn well please!

Vote for me and I will wear Ronald Reagan's underwear on alternate Thursdays.

A paper recovery?

If you own a Ford or a Subaru, good news for you. *My wife loves her Forester*

Bela Lugosi err....Dick Cheney endorses...KBH...Next up the Bride of Frankenstein err...Sarah Palin stumps for Perry.

In politics, longevity is often mistaken for competence. *True also in the Blogosphere*

Is it just me or is a survey regarding lap-top reliability from a company that sells warranties just a little to the minus side on the 'trustworthy' scale?

Ha!!! We're getting fatter slower than you Missouri and Michigan!

I'm glad we have Rick Casey on the beat to inform us that "anti-gay" is a quintessential Houston issue. *Because those issues never show up in other Cities. *Presumably those that are more "world class" than the Bayou City don't you know?*

There's weak, and then there's "recycled from Sunday" weak. *Which is also known as "declining business" weak*

Oddly enough, the current Democratic Health Plan accomplishes none of Garnet Colman's goals:
The best plan for health insurance reform is one that affordably covers most uninsured Texans, preserves the insurance of those already covered and lowers health care costs.
Yet he supports it anyway.

Unfortunately, for us (remember us: the citizens who are going to have to pay for this mess?) The Republicans are still trotting out next to nothing as their 'fix'. You wouldn't think this would be hard....Increase competition, encourage Flex-Spending & Health Savings accounts which allow people more control over their health expenditures* and fund a system of low-cost clinics and catastrophic care allowing people who cannot afford insurance to have access to basic care as well as a safety net should disaster strike. No big, costly public option needed, and a plan that goes a lot further than the standard "cut taxes, tort reform" boilerplate that Republicans are doling out.

*Personal control is a huge cost suppressor. If you're paying for procedures (with pre-tax funds, which is the same as pre-tax deductions for health insurance when you think about it) then you're more likely to engage your Doctor and have a say over what you do. Plus, you're paying a cash equivilent, which means less paperwork for the provider, no insurance filing etc. It's a win/win. (except for the Government and Insurance companies, who would lose)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creative Omissions

Houston Mayoral Press releases are flying back and forth today, with each candidate seemingly anxious to cast themselves as the "true financial reformer" in the race.

Annise Parker got the ball rolling questioning Locke's "conflicts of interest" stemming from his many connections (or, past connections, according to the Locke campaign) with Houston area insider organizations, many of whom have had a large role in crafting Houston public policy for three decades.

True to form, Locke responded by pointing out Parker's votes against the tax-rate decreases proposed by Mayor White during her time sitting on City Council. In response to that, the Parker camp fires back that Locke should "come clean" regarding his financial relationship with Andrews-Kurth and throws out the "cloud of impropriety" card....(Crowd: Ooooooh)

Two things:

1. Locke's ad only tells part of the story. For one, Mayor White's tax-rate 'cuts' were very controversial at the time. Not only were there revenue desires by districts that led to 'no' votes, but there was a legitimate gripe that the cuts were cosmetic, and only meant to buy votes. Second, Locke leaves out Parker's strong record of good fiscal stewardship when running her department at City Council and as Controller.

2. Parker's ads contain some pretty creative omissions as well. For one, to date there has been no taxpayer bailout for the financing bills surrounding Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center. Taxpayers have not been left "holding the bag". While I believe the potential is still there regarding an eventual taxpayer bailout, we're a long way from that point and it could still be averted by some wise decision-making by the next Mayor. Second (and possibly most importantly): Who was the City's "fiscal watchdog" during the time Andrews Kurth was taking advantage of City taxpayers by billing $604/hr? Oh, that's right....Annise Parker.

The take-away from this should be that each candidate is bringing some pretty strong negative baggage with them into this run-off. Gene Locke has to shed the "insider" mantle if he wants Hosutonians to believe that the age of running the City for the benefit of a few select interests has really come to an end. Annise Parker has to convince voters she'll do a better job minding the entire City than she did minding its finances during her term as Controller.*

It's connections vs. competence in the home-stretch. I'd like to say the person who does the best job answering the big question their campaign faces will be the winner, but I think we all know better than that...

The winner will be the candidate who does the best job rallying their base and getting out the vote to what's sure to be a very low turnout run-off.

*See!?! An entire post about the Mayoral and not one mention of the whole gay thi....oh wait....nevermind dammit.

Call it a sign.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Alexander Tytler (unverified)

It seems 57% of the American people have figured this out.

The good news? The lowering of America's ceiling reflects the will of the majority and not the whims of a strong-man government.

Of course, that's the bad news as well.

The Noise Machine (11/17/09)

Drums from the deep.....

Read this. And then read it again.

V for Vendetta is great as a graphic novel, OK as a movie, not so hot as a means of controlling crime.

Sensing weakness? Parker begins the offensive. (Which leads us to our Question of the day: Parker's charges, dirty politics or legitimate issue?)

If you thought the County Clerk's office was hyper-partisan during Kaufman's tenure....hang on.

Pity the poor Landry's shareholders, if for nothing else than being gullible.

An ethics primer, in four seperate, distinct parts. *Jennings is rapidly climbing to the top of the local Bloggers O' the Right mountain, especially on local issues*

Never before has a blah political website received so much media attention. *Surely the media coverage (in Houston anyway) of the Governor's race won't be as soul-suckingly shallow as it was for the Mayoral?*

Expensive is not always better. *Most of the time it's just more expensive.*

NO. *That is all*

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our National Humor Deficit.

This is supposed to be funny....
[Lia Eustachewich, NY Daily News]
"The Stupid Virus" mockingly breaks news about a lab monkey claiming that President Barack Obama was not born in America, spawning the virus "Fearus Ignoramus" among Americans, who break out into a frenzied fear that their President is an illegal alien.

So is this....
[David Reyes, Laugh 101 @ ChronBlog]
I'm sorry if your 401K tanked and you have to work the graveyard shift at the old Orange because of Wall Street. I don't care if you have hairy knuckles with the word love on one and hate on the other Ma'am, get the order right.

Don't forget this.

How far away are we from sitting in a theater watching butts?

The Noise Machine (11/16/09)

It's R-A-D-N-O-F-S-K-Y & H-U-T-C-H-I-S-O-N for the love of it all....

From what I understand, the Tea Party participants aren't surprised that their targets are Republicans, despite the meme that was forwarded regarding their motivations. *Effective? Useful? No. But neither were they the astroturf movement that InterLeft bloggers portrayed them to be.*

Public support of health care's on life support.

A sure sign a boondoggle is in the future: Something! Must be done!

I realize Hank Gilbert is making early waves, the real question (not answered in this Fikac column) is whether or not he's still in his back yard, surrounded only by those whom he has invited to the party? *With a blogger/campaign manager who's de-friending people on facebook who hold different political beliefs*

All you need to know about transportation, provided you're not really all that interested in those pesky local transportation issues. *Sort-of fits in with the guiding mission of ChronBlog doesn't it?*

If you're not reading Slampo, why not?

We love jobs, yes we do, we love jobs, how 'bout you?

The sounds you hear are the heads of the folks over at Politifact exploding.

First they came for the car companies, then they came for the Doctors, next it was the bankers, now they're coming for the airlines (again) soon there will be no one left to protest. *Get ready big oil*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Conservative Group fires first shot in the Great 2009 Houston War O' Gay...

Led by Dr. Stephen Hotze, State Sen. Dan Patrick and the other usual gaggle (pack?) of conservative noise-makers from the "agin' it" arm of the ever-shrinking local Republican Party has decided to throw their weight against the rising tide of rampant gayness that's threatening to wash over Houston Municipal Governance.

The leading lesbian in this charge on the gates of the straight monopoly on registering at Macy's, overpaying for outfits you'll wear once, bad dancing, cheap liquor, bad food and (50% of the time) extra-marital affairs is one Annise Parker who, to be fair, has been happily cohabiting with her partner (despite no official designation of "marriage") for longer than most local conservatives have been well....while not exactly 'conservative' something closer to society prudes who are very concerned about what lurks within the hearts and minds of men (and women) that's in anyway different than how they think and love and feel.

Presumably, if you believe the players in this drama, the real problem is not Parker by her lonesome. The problem is adding openly gay City Council candidates (and probable winners) Lane Lewis and Sue Lovell to a mix that somehow equates (in the minds of the anti-gay group) to some vast and grand conspiracy of gays to take over and dominate Houston city government.

Aside from better interior design at City Hall, the scourge that our city's social guardians are hell-bent on protecting us from is the extension of benefits to same-sex partners. After all, we can't have the government providing health-care to the partners of gay office-holders...obviously this is one of those federal jobs...oh no wait....they're opposed to federal health-care as well.

By way of a public service, and as a means to try an inject some life into this heretofore boring-assed campaign, might I humbly suggest that the three GLBT candidates pool their resources and release a joint campaign commercial utilizing this song: Broadway and frothing's a win/win for all of us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/12/09)

Give a man a fish...

Should we add walking to "Stuff White People Like"?

OK, let us get this clear. No...We're NOT asking you to apologize. You're reading all of that into it yourself.

Veterans Day means a lot of things to different people: A chance to thank the veterans, a day to reflect, a day to tell veterans to piss off...your choice.

Michel's out, waiting for the ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank to suddenly care about the Texas Heart Institute. (A heartfelt, wistful goodbye would be nice, maybe a full-blown editorial?)

Most experts agree that higher oil prices will stunt the growth of the global economy. True to form, our Government is debating legislation that would drastically increase the price of oil.

The motivation for the Ft. Hood shootings either is NOT about religion (as opposed to the recent abortion Dr. slayings, which were all about religion) or all about religion (again, as opposed to the abortion Dr. killing which was, most certainly, about so much MORE than religion) depending on your position on the political spectrum.

In the same vein, the Federal stimulus is either a good or bad thing depending on which base group you are trying to appeal to in the campaign.

How's your spending?

Perry floats a flawed argument. If Texas had voted "for" Obama the resulting legislation would have been exactly the same. The target of the Democrats is Big Oil and the health industry, NOT Texas. It just so happens that those are the two biggest employers in the State. It's not about Texas, it's about dismantling consumerism and modern capitalism. *More ideological than personal if you will* (We'll find out if they're overreaching next year)

How to tell if you have no viable future in politics 101. Note to Scozzafava: You lost. Get over it. Crying 'foul' in your soup after the fact is something best suited to perennial candidates.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/11/09)

Hug a veteran...

There's going to be much political play over today's news that employers are going to face a tax hit to fund shortfalls in the unemployment fund. What won't be mentioned (because it's not politically adventageous to do so) is that the deferred tax hit that would come from accepting the federal funds and increased obligations would be much, much bigger.

Well...what ELSE do you expect him to say?

A "kinder, gentler" Black Friday? *At least at WalMart*

Casey keeps mailing them in. *Hey, it's good to have constants in this world right?*

Sometimes they're too easy
[The ChronBlog's Caucasian Think-Tank]
Most juveniles grow up to become responsible adults
The rest grow up to write editorials for the Houston Chronicle....*Thank you...I'll be here all night. Be sure to tip the wait staff and order the prime rib.*

Kevin Whited notes that the City of Houston is graciously subsidizing the communications charges for Bill White's Senate campaign. That's nice of them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's the jobs silly...

Ignoring fanciful predictions of huge GOP gains in the 2010 elections for a moment I'd like to highlight the writings of others for a moment illustrating how silly it is to make pick-up projections on low-turnout off-year elections.

1. No Matter what Happens, the top Issue is Jobs [Byron York, Washington Examiner]

2. Fed officials warn weak recovery won't spur jobs. [AP via ChronBlog]

At 10.2% unemployement Democatic approval ratings are dropping to the floor faster than an NFL player's dollar bills at a strip club. It's ugly, and only going to get uglier if key Democratic legislation is passed and enacted. Things are so bad among the Democratic leadership right now that even supporters are starting to have doubts, to say nothing about the Euros.

It's really pretty simple: If the Democrats want to stay in power they'd better take their eyes off of progressive brass rings and focus them on passing legislation that will put people to work. In the end, liberal goals like the Government takeover of your health and money while lining the pockets of Al Gore and his investors need to take a back seat to what the people need.

Remember when Bush & Co were in charge and the "subserviant to corporations" charge was bandied about?

Guess what? They were correct. Bush was a corporatist who pretty much gave them the keys to the treasury.

Guess what else? Obama & Co. is turning out to be just the same, only with a different set of grubby hands requesting the keys.

The Noise Machine (11/10/09)

It's the countdown to nothing much really....

I'm confused....Is the Fort Hood service about the soldiers and their families, or about Obama?

OK, so walking in Houston is dangerous. Got that. What's unfortunate is that ChronBlog keeps going back to the CTC Houston and HGAC wells for answers how to solve said problem. *We GET it. Give Metro more money to build more at-grade rail and smart-growth. OK, but could there be ANOTHER way?* Unfortunately, in the lazy, mail-it-in world of Houston transportation debate the answer is "No". (At least according to ChronBlog)

This guy would be a good addition to the ChronBlog's limited rolodex on transportation issues. *And he's banging away on the rare smart 'reader blog' right there on ChronBlog*

Question of the day: Will a pro-Dynamo stadium stance result in a net GAIN of votes or a net LOSS of votes for Gene Locke?

Brown to endorse Parker? No word yet on that highly anticipated Morales endorsement. /sarcasm

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/09/2009)

Hope is an empty shell lived in by hermit crabs....

What does it mean that the opposition to Health Care reform was more bi-partisan than the support? *And does it matter?*

Today, the Tea Party movement should be embracing Cao, who voted the will of his district rather than the will of the National Party. *Isn't that what they say they want? Politicians "in touch" with their constituents?*

Somehow...the shootings at Ft. Hood are our fault. At least, that's how the story is being framed early on. *The shooter was "taunted" etc. by uncaring, unfeeling (read: redneck, unsophisticated) Caucasians for his religious choice.*

Your benefit is someone else's first step to having our power usage controlled by third parties. *Just sayin'*

Much ado about the Hispanic vote *And...rightfully so FWIW*

What does it say when The Board of Education is concerned that "increased choice" is bad for quality content?

The more things change....the more they stay the same. *Especially when it comes to Houston's "For/Against" model for transit debate.*

Mr. Gorbachev....Tear down that wall!

“Given the huge federal deficits facing our nation, I believe there is too much new spending in this bill,” - Chet Edwards, D-Waco *Courtesy of the Texas Tribune*

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/06/09)

Outside of the obvious....

Thoughts and prayers to the people of Ft. Hood. *I know the default for bloggers is to get either speculative or angry at political opposites, but I've got nothing more to say* (Nor should you read this as a disparagement toward those that do. We all deal with tragedy in our own personal ways. For some its speculating, for some it's lashing out through words. Whatever works, provided you don't feel the need to grab a gun and shoot someone)

And the economic hits just keep on coming...Now it's being speculated that the coming pollution standards crackdown could cost Millions of jobs. Supporters of the legislation claim that 'clean energy' jobs will replace them....but when? (And then there's this little jewel, which will slow domestic production-all in the name of 'weaning us from foreign oil') It's official, we're living on the other side of the looking glass.

David Wolff sounds like a man running a company that's heading toward bankruptcy. Often, the dots connect back to leadership when a company pursues a fiscally irresponsible plan. (h/t: *Who looks forward to hearing what the Mayorals have to say on the issue...but will they address it?* (This elections history says probably not)

Professor Barton Smith is bullish on the local economy....I wonder if he'll feel the same way if Cap 'n Trade & Healthcare 'reform' is passed? *Both of which will target, and negatively impact, the two largest sectors of Houston's economy*

Abbey Rappaport's Don McLeroy profile in the Texas Tribune sums up nicely what's wrong with political discourse today: "“There’s a battle in education,” he says, “and there are people lined up against us." - Politics as battle, instead of politics through statesmanship. When people who have no idea what it means to truly fight start casting their soft, pathetic barbs as "going to war" you know you've got problems. *"I will fight for you" should be a disqualifying statement when you're deciding on which candidate to vote for in a given race. I don't want you to fight for me. I want you to represent me.*

Comedians these days.

You might be surprised who tops the Texas Senate travel expenditure list. I know I was. *Zaffarini not striking me as the wasteful, extravagant type* (A Democrat I would have no qualms about voting for FWIW were that she lived in my district.) {Unless she fought for me that is}

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/05/09)

They call it election fatigue, there is no known cure.

Proving that point that, It's not government that's bad but bad government that's typically the problem. This ordinance is certainly NOT bad government.

It's getting a little more difficult to get admitted to the University of Houston. Non-qualifiers will be referred to UH-Downtown, the open admission campus in the University system. *And my Alma Mater by way of full disclosure*

Hi..My name is (insert candidate name here) and we need your money help and support to bring about a Houston we can all be proud of. Please make a donation today. *A better idea, give the money to the Star of Hope Mission and let the candidates fend for themselves*

Because, you know, Eversole is just too strong...

T-t-t-talkin' 'bout my segregation....

From the meeting rooms of the ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank: Hey! I've got an idea. Let's write an editorial on a racial issue that's a week past it's expiration date!

Texas Watchdog is at it again.

Charles Kuffner gets an answer to the "Why are some elections not going to a run-off?" question. Courtesy of Mike Sullivan.

I give you: (via KTRK) The prayer. I'm expecting some happy blog fodder to come from this one.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Noise Machine (11/04/2009)

What happens when a few of us elect the worst of us to govern all of us?

Of course, the big story is the elections. (By "big" I mean sucking up the most oxygen) Which means that She with an Unusual Affinity for Sunday Church Services and The Establishment Candidate (Redux) are going to be all over the airwaves today. This also means that election season isn't done despite most citizen's deeply held belief that it should be.

Nationally? It was somber night for President Obama. His supporters who bend over backwards to act like non-partisan independents are bending over backwards to convince you otherwise but, the truth is, there's probably not much joy this morning in the political strategy room of the White House. Of course, knowing they're facing the Republicans, there's probably not much panic either.

Locally you can read the election ruminations of the usual group of InterLeft chatterers or possibly even the thoughts of OK no, no...Oooh! Uh...not yet, of course not there really...well, you can get the Democratic perspective of the local elections from a variety of sources and some National chatter from local Republican blogs if you're so inclined. UPDATE: Big Jolly politics weighs in. (Probably the only local Republican blogger doing local political commentary on a regular basis.

I give you: The laziest columnist in Houston.

Can some political wonk tell me when was the last time a proposed Constitutional Amendment failed?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The HCA election night post.

This post is being written to comply with Section 1(d) Sub 8.2 of the Election blogging manual.

Tough night for the ChronBlog headline writer*: As Matt Bramanti notes: Dewey defeats Truman! Maybe someone should be monitoring these real time?

For those of you wondering "huh"? Here's some quick math:

29.8-25.9= 3.9
25.9-23.8= 2.1

The "tighter" race is between Locke and Brown for the second spot in the run-off.
Third time's a charm.

Best (relatively higher profile) race of the Night: Palm Holm (31.6%) and MJ Khan (31.5%) at 39% of precincts reporting to see who gets to challenge Ronald Green (35.9%) in a run-off.

Sign that the apocalypse is upon Houston: C.O. Bradford (he of the crime lab fiasco and K-mart debacle) is nearing election with almost 52% of the vote.UPDATE: With 58% reporting Bradford is down to 50.1% (And with that I'm going to bed)

Sign that Houston might be OK: Both Jolanda Jones (41.9%) and Sue Lovell (48.8%), who spent as much time arguing and bickering as they did governing, probably will have to go into run-off elections to keep their seats. (Way to go Houston) * least...around 200,000 of you.*

Proof that Internet polls are worthless: Roy Morales won the HCA "best of the worst" poll by one vote. (Margin of error +/- pretty much infinity)

My thoughts are: What part of town is still out? What polls there were in this race seemed to show Peter Brown leading among minority groups. Is the 40% that's "in" from the more Anglo West Side? Or the more diverse East/South side of Houston? I figure around 20% is the absolute ceiling for Morales. Still, I'm wondering what kind of odds you could have received before the election that he'd end up that high?

*To be fair, real-time results in elections move pretty quickly, so these are more humorous than anything else.

The Noise Machine (11/03/09)

Dis is de part on Sprockets when we vote....

The media lives for election day. ChronBlog's got itself a cluttered, hard-to-read election page set up. A lot of information there (about 1/2 third party) if you care to sort through it. *The link to the candidates social media feeds is nice, as is the links to various blogs*

TV News jumps in on the act as well, covering the news from all angles.

As is their custom, The ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank waxes parental admonishing Bayou Citians to get out there and practice their civic duty.

Meanwhile, Kevin Whited reminds voters of the sophisticated party needs of today's political hobby blogger. *Some sandwiches would be nice, maybe burgers?*

Trying to find a Republican blog doing local in Houston is like looking for the Yeti. Think about that the next time you hear them complain about a lack of balance on local issues. *Well, pay attention then*

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles.....

The fun surrounding the Tea Parties is often in the signs....and the Democratic response to them. *Today's show: "Show me where someone has broken the Constitution!"* (Lesson learned: Constitutional outrage is a partisan value)

2nd lesson learned: Your lunatic fringe is their principled opposition and vice/versa.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Day Eve

What, you want predictions?


But you can find them here, here and here. I've been out of the pick the winner game for a couple of elections now, and I'm sure not going to pick this snoozer of a race to hop back in.

What I will do is hand out some awards. Just for grins, I think I'll call them the Significant Houston Internet Triumph awards. Recognizing significant Internet triumphs by Houston bloggers everywhere.

Best Polls: musings... I mean...come on...

Best Use of Awards designed to highlight the author's status as an "insider", Best use of the Mayoral race as an excuse to build up one's future campaign consulting prospects & Best shameless self-promotion

Mayoral Musings by Nancy Sims.

Here's just a sample...
I would consider my household to be a “habitual voter” address. If there is an election, at least one of us votes. Bonds, specials, generals and run-offs, we are there. We also live in a high-voting, transitional inner loop precinct. It is genuinely a “swing box”, meaning it splits the vote between Republican and Democratic voters. Given that, we have not received as much mail as one might have expected. We have seen other mail pieces though and feel confident in our assessment.
I mean, it wasn't even close.

Best Blog Value-Add to the current election

Charles Kuffner's Candidate Interviews.

Agree or disagree with the man's politics all you want....his interviews are solid.

Best running election commentary

Slampo's Place. Again...A sample:
We've finally realized what it is we've found subconsciously bothersome about mayoral candidate Peter Brown, and the revelation came via the hand of whichever artful contriver fashioned his plentiful television commercials. What Brown promises is magic, that with a stroke of his drafting pencil he can transform blueprints into reality, without the intercessionary messiness of politics, or the application of political skills (neither of which––politics or political skills––we're fully convinced he possesses).

His truly are some of the most honest political advertisements we've ever seen.

Worst polling by someone who should know better

Bob Stein and KHOU - Not only is there a weak screen for likely voters, but it just feels like Stein is mailing it in these days. His recent work has been almost indefensible even by those who supports the results he's been producing.

The "true" winner of the Houston Mayoral Race

Let's be honest with one another here....None of the candidates on the ballot hold a candle to don't know/undecided. That's right "None of the Above" is the winner.

Best political endorsement:

The ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank's weak-assed co-endorsement of both Annise Parker and Gene Locke. - If the former newspaper of record-Houston's largest political blog, who has more access to the candidates than any one Houston citizen can't take the time to make an informed choice....why the hell should anyone else? I reserve a space here for the "best show of hubris" award when the CCTT screams at Houstonians for not voting.

Which...of course...leads us to....

Best political ad:

Gene Locke's use of the dramatic pause - You may not be voting for the guy, but that ad was campaign poetry in motion.

Because of the general below-averageness of this race one prediction I will make is a low turnout. A very low turnout. I for one don't blame Houston one iota for not caring....If this is the best we can do God help us.

A quick discussion of the issues surrounding healthcare.

If you rely on ChronBlog's Washington Bureau, you won't see this. (Them choosing to rely on a select few news resources these days)

But, in case you missed it, Politico offered up several "ideas" pieces today illustrating the special-interest filled, legislative mess that has become healthcare reform in America....

The AARP wants to ensure that Medicare payments are not reduced, thus ensuring their members don't have to share in the sacrifice with the rest of the Country. The American Medical Association is also concerned about Medicare cuts, wanting to ensure that the Doctor's share of the sacrifice is less than other elements of the Country. Let's not forget the hospitals who are loving the idea of universal coverage which would mean that their number of unpaid treatments would plummet, thus ensuring their sacrifice is less than that of the rest of the Country. Then we have the Drug Companies who want to ensure that Federal grants for drug research keeps pouring in at unprecedented rates, thus offsetting the amount of sacrifice that they would have to make. Finally, we have the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is very concerned about controlling costs, which makes sense, and would ensure that member businesses don't take it on the chin.

The point to be skimmed off the top of all this chatter is that no-industry, group or cross-section of citizens wants to be the financial loser in health-care reform. That's not to suggest that they are wrong to think that, but that there can be no true reform unless someone is willing to pay.

What's not been openly discussed during this entire mess of a healthcare debate is that, eventually, there's going to have to be an infusion of cash into the system at some level. Where this level is created will say a lot about whether the system will ultimately succeed or fail. Right now the level is being artificially manipulated to be at the corporate level and (ostensibly) the bank accounts of that most mythical of American citizen: The wealthy.

As long as every interest group stays determined to have their cake and eat it too? We're looking at a plan that's destined to fail.

The Noise Machine (11/02/09)

All's quiet on election eve as a sense of foreboding falls on the populace of the Bayou City....(Or maybe that's just indigestion from too much Halloween candy?)

We got spirit! Yes we do! We got spirit! How 'bout you!?!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! (And without a dollar of bailout money to boot.)

Training the trainers to teach to the test. (It's the Texas Way!)

Ooohhh..Apple's *supposedly* got an e-reader, stop the presses and let's re-think an entire industry!

College rolls are at an all-time high, and graduation rates are at an all time low. (What does that tell you?)

The Chron's Caucasian Think-Tank is positively giddy over a plan to have $5 of each hotel stay given to charity. The Chron.commenters? Not so much. *Honestly, I don't see where the beef is here? It's not as if the program is mandatory....deserving of an Op-Ed? Well, probably not that either* (A mention in the Real Estate blog might have been warrented)

Wait...A college professor against tax hikes??? Printed in ChronBlog no less?? *Cue eruption in 5...4...3....*

Due to illness I missed this story from last week outlining how another influential local group scuttled plans for so-called "new urban" development in Houston. Apparently the proposed residents wouldn't own nice enough cars....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Third Ward News Repurposed


[Claudia Feldman, ChronBlog]
“This is my home,” he says. “Everybody is welcome who wants to help sustain and protect the community.”

Those who don't share the sentiment, he(Ed. note: State Rep. Garnet Coleman) seems to suggest, should stay away.

Hearkens back to this:

[John Bunkin,]
And Coleman, an intense, chain-smoking power broker who represents the neighborhood in the Texas legislature, isn’t happy about it. “You can tell a neighborhood’s turning,” he says with dismay, “when you see them out at night walking their dogs.”

Coleman is determined to stop gentrification in Houston’s Third Ward before it gets out of hand. “I understand how this happens,” he says. “I understand how to stop it.”

Which leads to this question.

[Brian Phillips, Live Oaks Blog]
We must wonder about the values of a man who finds it disheartening when people are walking their dogs at night. I suppose that he would prefer that they be huddled in their homes, afraid to walk the streets for fear of being attacked.

The article that Phillips linked to was three years old, proving that so-called "new" ideas (limiting redevelopment to certain areas of town while leaving others untouched) are not really. Neither is the news in the area. Not that my problem is with the article written by Claudia Feldman, it's a good article that I suggest you take the time to read in its entirety.

The issues, however, have been with us for quite some time. That's important to remember in an age when news is often provided absent of historical context.

The Noise Machine (11/01/09)

Nothing like the sugar rush after Halloween...

What I like most about blogs: The grand potential for high comedy. (Bonus points if someone could translate that rant into coherent English for me) *Do I still like babies? Huh? Dubya? What? And, yes bartender, I'll take an old fashioned, damn good drink.*

Bradley Olson & Mike Snyder take a look at the municipal elections and reach the same conclusion I did a while ago: These candidates are weak sauce.

Eric Berger of ChronBlog also notes that evidence is suggesting that soda taxes won't do much to lower our collective BMI, they will however, fatten Gov't coffers, which is why they'll probably be enacted anyway.

Hey, the candidates may be uninspiring but the ads are getting interesting at least. Gene Locke needs to come out with a "bread products" ad now just for fun.

Rick Casey takes a look at the Mayorals and, amazingly, manages to leave out every one of their real "strengths and weaknesses" in his strengths and weaknesses post. (Nothing about Gene Locke's hand in the stadium deals as a potential weakness? Really?)

OK, Eversole is running, at least now you know one person on the ballot to not vote for right?

Yup, the Ashby High-Rise folks are speaking out managing to sound both populist and corporatist at the same time. (That takes some doing)

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