Monday, November 29, 2010

This molehill we call a mountain.

Is it desperation to wring some drama out of what's sure to be a pretty boring legislative session*? Or is it the result of a slow, s-l-o-w news period?

Whatever it is it's got the State's lackluster political media in a tizzy. What is it you're asking?

(Two Freshmen Reps Pledge to Paxton for Speaker, Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune (Maybe they NEED all that hip eyewear?)
Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, is also in the race, though Paxton appears to have more support. Last week, two of Chisum's fellow West Texans — Jim Landtroop of Plainview and Charles Perry of Lubbock — announced their support for Paxton.

Counting the candidate himself, that brings Paxton to nine votes. Straus claims pledges from more than 120. It takes 76 to win.

Nine. The leader of the conservative "groundswell" to unseat Speaker Straus currently counts his supporters at nine (9). According to this report Wayne Chisum has even less. To put this in perspective: Rep Paxton has approx 5.92% of the vote. That's less than Chris Bell for goodness' sake.

Even if you assume that Chisum's supporters number six (6) that would still leave both challengers with 9.87% of the total vote. Yes, that's creeping up into Democratic down-ballot territory, but it's not really threatening that low bar.

In other words, this "internal clash" really isn't, despite what Texas poor political pundits think. Unless something happens that greatly cuts into the support of Straus the only thing to take away from this is that the social Conservatives are going to make a lot of noise, but the actual numerical strength of the movement is somewhere around the listenership of KDAN Patrick's radio station.


*By "boring" I don't mean things aren't going to happen. To the contrary, I think that there's going to be a LOT that transpires during the 82nd that will be meaningful (in a good and bad way) to Texans. What I don't think we're going to have is much hullabaloo surrounding it because the opposition party has been reduced to the political equivalent of a party-blogger.

The Noise Machine (11/29/10)

And we're back at it....

So far the bulk of the media's education stories have been dire predictions of doom should schools not get everything they wish for. While there probably would be some things lost what you don't ever see is that schools could choose to make other cuts, would that they wanted to. (Of course, it's easier to cry "Doom!!" than cut pet projects isn't it?) I'm not looking forward to this next legislative session if this is going to be the tone of the debate.

Nice to know that a storage device is considered a storage device by Texas courts. What's amazing is that this had to go in front of a judge at all.

This is a hope that could die with no argument from me. Of course, the World Classiness crew will be salivating over this prospect. (Including the pandering to FIFA reps that inevitably comes with it.)

When I was in High School Band we payed for our own instruments. Not today however.....(My parents sacrificed a LOT when I was in school. Today's parents seem to want all of the sacrifice done for them by others.)

Ah the beginnings of the budget debate. Furloughs, staff cuts, fire & brimstone. And we don't even know how much needs to be cut yet. (Yup, I can't wait for this next Lege session, and the media and blogger coverage that's going to surround it.)

It's good to know that Republicans are just as prone to wasteful distraction as are Democrats. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Green Houston. Or, at least, green-ish Houston with just enough baubles to keep the World Classiness, trinket-loving set quiet.

A lesson for BARC from Dallas. Something lost in the "no-kill shelter" debate is the animal control portion of the agency's charge. Certainly, you want to minimize euthanasia cases, but their existence is a sad reality in a world that places little value on the lives of animals.

Rick Perry as the harbinger or death? Perry derangement syndrome lives.

And finally,

Perhaps the problem is not with changing times but with short-sighted, restrictive laws that are always championed by myopic groups such as the Apple Dumpling Gang? (If every problem requires a new, big-government solution -typically one that reduced the rights of the people- then too much is never going to be enough.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend Update (11/27/10)

Stuffed.....can't move.....

The battle over red light cameras continues. The city's revenue grab could end up costing Mayor Parker a 2nd term.

Oh boy, here we go again. I can't wait until people start pulling the race card again....

Get ready for the anti-2nd Amendment groups to fire up again after this....

Tom Delay made redistricting political? Gotta love historical revisionism done in the interest of forwarding a point of view. (Redistricting has ALWAYS been political, when Democrats ruled the State they were political as well.)

A Republican speaks on Voter ID, Democrats respond. I can't think of any reason (political or otherwise) that Democrats would want to give-in on this issue. Right now their stance should be one of "vocal opposition".

The e-slate voting machines are coming back. Putting an end to the theory that whatever comes next may have the ability to provide a paper receipt.

Why is it that the Government's default response to a problem is suddenly to decrease the civil rights of everyone?

Willie arrested...Again.

And finally.....

SEC guy is the best local radio character bar none.....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are a lot of things to be thankful for this year. Here's just a few of the things on my ledger.....

My family - Especially my wife, who's learned to put up with last-minute blog meet-ups, poker trips, political rants & long nights researching for blog posts. Not to mention standing in line at Downtown Spec's for an hour making sure I get three six packs of the latest Divine Reserve. Yup, pretty great she is. (And a huge football fan, which does NOT make the Fall and early winter suck)

BlogHouston. Kevin, Anne, Callie and everyone over at bH were my first contact with the Houston blogosphere, back when I was writing Isolated Desolation just for the fun of it. Over the next several years I've developed friendships with all of them.

Living in Houston - Yes, during the Summer, the weather sucks, but it's late November and we're all going to be wearing shorts (until tomorrow). There are tons of things to do, a vibrant restaurant scene, and the economy is (relatively) good. The Government is entertaining enough to keep a local blog in content, and (last but not least) there's an ethnic diversity in this town that rivals anything you'll find in the South. I love Houston, and I'm always reminded how much I love living here.

ChronBlog - Yes, I constantly give them grief, and they're standard of journalism has fallen over the years to barely above that of a College newspaper, but I look at the Chron as a bloggy-type version of job security. If they ever go down, I'm betting 1/2 of Houston's blogosphere disappears right behind them.

The Houston Press - You can tell a lot about the soul of a City by taking a look at the health of their alt-media. Houston's alt-weekly is chugging a long with a bare-bones staff of professional journalists while increasingly leaning on the, upper-middle class sensibilities of a growing group of amateur bloggers. The result is a homogenized, relatively bland, trend-chasing product that fails to push the envelope and fails to offer up much but cliches. Amazingly, in Houston, it's the same groups that are behind the movement to "re-make" Houston into a reduced, less culturally deep, less original, version of New York City. That alone makes it a great resource for watching the dismantling of the things that have made Houston great.

Texas Watchdog. - Houston's #1 shop for hard-hitting, investigative journalism. They're also a great advocate of citizen-journalists and local blogs. One of Texas Watchdog's missions is to provide support and training for local bloggers. This is a great resource that I encourage everyone to take advantage of. I've also made many friends at Watchdog for whom I'm very thankful. Great group. (Even Lynn Walsh, who's an Ohio fan but I don't hold that against her too badly)

Texas Tribune. Without whom I'd be ignorant in regards to eye-wear options for the young and hip. Oh, and their Lege reporting is pretty good as well.

Chris Bell - It's always good to be thankful for a content driver. (See also: Dan Patrick, Bill White, Houston Metro, the InterLeft, Bloggers O' the Right, etc.)

Miller Outdoor Theater, The Houston Zoo and Houston's Museum District - Hours of low-cost (or free) entertainment that was helpful after my wife got laid-off and the entertainment budget was reduced.

And finally....My two (or so) regular readers. Thanks guys for following me around from blog to blog. I realize my writing style is not conducive to a big audience. That you've stuck around speaks volumes.

Happy Thanksgiving all. Take some time today to remember what exactly you're thankful for, and leave the political arguing to the truly sad and hollow. I'm off to eat some turkey and stuffing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 'new journalism' revolution marches on!

It's bad enough that ChronBlog feels the need to comment on America's most 'hated' cities without realizing that Houston, yes our Houston, is probably at the top of that list for most others due in no small part to the inferiority complex that our ruling and chattering classes continue to display to the rest of the world......

Then they have to go and do things like this, this and this.

Austin, Shreveport and Beaumont? Really?

Because, where Houston lives is somewhere in that dark place where a city of approx. 2.5 MM gets its jollies by picking on the 200K - to 500K set. Has our collective sense of we suck grown so large that we're left picking on the Golden Triangle? What's next, a discussion of the many ways Galleria Houston Prada is superior to Marfa Prada? Are we going to hear that Houston has better dining options than Mart? Boy I tell ya, you think Houston is bad you should take a look at Durant, Oklahoma. The Bayou City has all of them beaten COLD..... Thankfully, except for the occasional "libs are evil" commenter, most people advised ChronBlog just how wrong they were, including my favorite comment here:
77007 12:41 PM on November 23, 2010

A perfect example of why the Chronicle is the largest big-city paper to never win a Pulitzer.
It's also a perfect example of why many people want to change Houston to be more like other places....because, as a city, our self-confidence sucks. It sucks so bad we actually pay attention to the new urbanists who insist our community, full of despair, want and woe, can be magically healed if only we build a park that contains giant chess-board pieces, that we can all live happy productive lives if we just shoe-horn everyone into monochromatic apartment units within a relatively small geographic area, thus allowing the split-tongue toe lizard to make his return to the marshes that will re-surround the city. Why all we need to do is save that historical outhouse over there and tourists will come flocking to our doors. As a matter of fact, the key to a long and happy life is doing things exactly like they want you to do things with no deviation and no independent thought. McDonald's, it goes without saying, is right out. So is Thanksgiving, pick-up trucks, personal freedom and the right to not have to worry about playing in your living room without covering the neighbor's bed with a hail of plaster.

Yup, if we could just do that (and maybe bomb Beaumont) Houston would finally be a city deserving of the news daily it calls its own.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When Customer service isn't.

Spent part of my Sunday (the part during the second half of the Texans game thankfully) store hopping up in the Woodlands. Popped into Barnes & Noble to have a look at their Nook reader. I'm in the market for either that or a Kindle from Amazon, haven't decided which one yet.

One tablet that I'm definitely not interested in is a Nook "color". Not only is it $100 more than the regular Nook reader, ($249 vs. $149) but it doesn't have the e-ink technology which makes reading doable on a standard black & white reader. And that's primarily what I want this for: To read e-books. Despite my many attempts to convey this to the sales clerk at the kiosk, my appraisal of the black & white Nook was continually interrupted by a sales pitch for the Nook Color.

I now know that the Nook Color can stream movies (not what I'm looking for), it can connect to the NY Times (for a fee, as can the Nook B&W) or a host of other magazines and dailies, and it has the memory to download more books than I'll probably read in my lifetime. It's also not available right now. It's recommended that you reserve one on the release day just in case you MIGHT think you want one. Whether or not you actually buy one, just reserve one, you know, just in case.

Get the picture? (I'm sure we'll all be shocked, SHOCKED! when B&N announces supply shortages of the Nook Color right before Christmas won't we?)

I came in to look at a e-reader in which I was interested, only to be told by the staff supposedly selling said reader that it wasn't that great, they had a better (more expensive) option that I couldn't even GET right then, having instead to wait until December something-or-other, and that didn't really even do what I wanted it to do.

All things being equal I'm now leaning toward the Kindle. Which I will purchase on-line from the comfort of my own home. Oh yeah, it's $10 cheaper than the Nook B&W as well....Probably because Amazon isn't paying someone to talk me out of buying what I came in for in the first place.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Noise Machine (11/19/10)

Bad media....bad....

Wayne Slater should stop with the political analysis. But hey, at least he didn't mention Karl Rove.

Of course, the Houston Press should probably try and stay away from political 'reporting' as well. Their talent, with the current roster, is more suited toward top 5 lists and Richard Connelly's bitterness anyway. (Let us keep our memories of the Press' salad days please.)

So, Perry and Bush W. don't like one another all that much. Giving them something in common with their political opponents.

Invade Mexico!?!?!? Let's not and say we did. (Somebody loan Perry a medal, he won't know the difference.)

There was a guy on Twitter going nuts over this story. Of course, he typed in all caps and couldn't Tweet without resorting to vulgarities so everyone pretty much laughed at him. (Speaking of laugh, why is it that the Texas Interleft thinks it's OK to use vulgarities that have typically been used derisively toward gay males is an OK way to attack their political opposites? I don't see the allure.)

A going away present from Cynthia Dunbar. Yeah. Thanks for that. (And good riddance)

Down with Straus!! Who, it seems, made the unforgivable mistake of not treating Democrats like dust under a boot heel, instead choosing to try and work with them in a divided House chamber to get things done. (As well as revenge for ousting Craddick, who no one liked anyway.)

I don't buy this argument. An area may lose some seniority in the Government when they elect new representatives but they don't lose their clout. An effective legislative group can restore political clout almost immediately if they're smart and do a good job representing the interests of the community. ("Clout" is code-word for we're mad the side we like lost.)

If Houston black clay is named the State's official soil does that mean that Houston will finally be "World Class"?

And finally.....

If Ken Salazar has his way the American West will become Disneyland. Unbelievable this man eh?

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sunlight shining on the Sunset Commission.

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission is either making friends or cultivating enemies, depending on your feelings toward The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the The Texas Railroad Commission, the subject of the commission's two most recent reports.

The immediate take-away from both reports is that the folks over at Sunset Advisory feel that the two Commissions need to do a better job enforcing the rules and regulations pertaining to the industries over which they are charged. For the TCEQ it sort-of ends there. Oh sure there's a lot of wordiness to be found in 124 pages but, for the most part, the TCEQ got off with a stern scolding and advice to do better....pending the outcome of a current audit and several legal dust-ups with the EPA that is. Kate Galbraith* of the Texas Tribune (apparently, wearing no hip eye wear) offers up her take on the report choosing to focus on the side-stepping of the EPA issue by Sunset Advisory.

Of more interest, to me, was the Sunset report on the Texas Railroad Commission. Most surprising was Sunset Advisory's suggestion that the Commission move from elected positions to those of gubernatorial appointment. This was especially curious on the heels of the latest gubernatorial election, where one of Democrat Bill White's campaign arguments was that incumbent Rick Perry had grown too powerful due to the power of appointment.

Despite the fact that there's not much they can do about it, I cannot imagine Democrats would welcome this new power vested in a candidate they can't seem to beat, and who doesn't seem to be inclined to go anywhere. One concern that I have is the potential for political chicanery in a commission that's responsible for the biggest chunk of Texas' economic pie. Yes, political elections are imperfect, and sometimes (as in 2010) there's a head-scratcher of a result that puts a relative novice in a position of authority. This is a weakness that appointments cannot fix. The main difference is the voters would have a chance to fix their error, should one occur, within four years. With appointments the appointed can often fly under the radar, held unaccountable to the voters. Still, appointed wouldn't be that bad if the terms were kept relatively short and bad actors could be flushed from the system immediately.

One other benefit of staggered elections is this: It becomes very difficult for the RRC to change focus quickly, needing at least two election cycles to change the make up, plenty of time for the citizens to right the wrongs. Currently the RRC is one of the more agreeable regulatory organizations to deal with, although (contrary to news reports and partisans on the Left)they're still not pleasant. They're just less unpleasant than most. I would hate to see that change. I would also hate to see Texas' economic advantage suffer under a wave of industry-hostile appointments which decimate oil & gas production in Texas, we're already seeing just how much trouble that can cause in the Gulf.

There are other recommendations in the report including the cessation of propane marketing, an idea whose time has long passed. Again, Kate Galbraith of the Texas Tribune (Maybe she was edited by someone wearing hip eye wear?) has more.

One recommendation that I am in favor of is moving the regulation of gas utilities to the Public Utilities Commission. That just makes a lot of sense from a logistics standpoint. The RRC handles production, the PUC worries about distribution. That's a much more focused business model.

The last recommendation in place is one that, for sentimental reasons, I would be sad to see enforced, the proposed name change to The Texas Oil and Gas Commission would bring to an end a part of Texas history I don't want to see vanish. It'd be akin to changing the name of the Texas Rangers. Sometimes the old ways are the best.

*As the Texas Tribune notes, Gilbraith is a green energy writer and approaches the issue from a far different perspective than my oil & gas industry view. That's neither good nor bad, it just is. At least we both admit our bias on these issues.

Dogs and cats.... together.

Who would have thought that TX State Senator Dan Patrick's ideological running buddy would be Iowa Democrat (and staunch union liberal) Tom Harkin?

The real irony is that the Texas "blocker" bill is one of the single most conservative pieces of legislation out there, and it's Texas self-proclaimed leading conservative who wants to do away with it.

Harkin? OK, that's consistent with his rhetoric.

And here comes the art debate

Arguments like this happen when government coffers are full, so it should come as no surprise that folks aren't happy about a $360,000 vase.

(City spends $360,000 on sculpture despite budget problems, Gabe Guitierrez,
The city’s decade-old public arts ordinance is being questioned after the Houston Arts Alliance bought a $360,000 sculpture.
The sculpture, “Standing Vase with Five Flowers,” is the work of Texas native James Surls and will be displayed outside the parks and recreation department’s headquarters on Wayside Drive in southeast Houston.
Council approved the purchase back in August, before the city’s finance director announced that Houston could face a $50 to $80 million budget shortfall by the end of the fiscal year. There is talk of potential furloughs to close the gap and several departments are consolidating to save money.
I'm never a fan of overpaying for art in public spaces, although the trinket-based, world-classiness crowd seems to get all agog over them. For my taste however I'd be more interested in seeing the money deployed to critical departments to hire staff, the police department for instance.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the ordinance responsible for this expenditure is a relic of the Lee P. Brown administration, after all, we've seen this before. Hopefully this time a newly motivated city council will work to get this onerous provision stripped from the books.

On another note: This is more bad PR for the increasingly snake-bit administration of Mayor Parker. It's very rare for a Houston Mayor to not win re-election to the point they're term-limited out. Given her administrations generally unfocused, market unfriendly and unpopular start. (The dithering before turning off the RLC's was just odd) One wonders if she's destined for a second term*?



While I'm not too worried about it, there are many who will use Mayor Parker's appointment of a transgendered judge as proof she's pushing the so-called "gay agenda". There are many social conservatives who took her word for it that she wasn't going to push this. I wonder how ready they'll be to take her at her word the next time? (My position still is that if their good at being a judge....then who cares?)

The Noise Machine (11/18/10)

Chamber of Commerce weather.....

Straus speaks on a local Conservative blog. (Bypassing ChronBlog FWIW)

Bad Religion. (And the bad politicians that are suddenly decrying it.)

Whoops. Although, the way the media coverage has slanted on this case, it's hard to tell if this is really a big deal or no.

Imagine that, public universities running themselves like a business....(Instead of a playground for those who couldn't succeed in the private sector?)

It's been a long time since Houston has seen its mayor take a defeat on such a public issue. Bill White used to handle this behind the scenes. (There's real evidence that Mayor Parker is losing the respect of City Council)

Make it stop! (Alternative title: The continuing decline of newspaper media.)

More on Lost revenues for Houston from a program that's (ostensibly) all about safety.

On that note: The Texas taxpayer burden and your share of it. Yikes.

One of the problems of living in a "safe" political district is that you have to put up with shenanigans like this from your elected officials. Dan Patrick won SD 7 with almost 90% of the vote. In a decent district he'd be tossed for his grandstanding or, forced to tone it down at least.

The Tribune (Now, with MORE hip eye wear!) has a sit-down with Mayor Annise Parker. It's no surprise that they didn't grill her on some of Houston's more pressing issues.

In contrast, here's a good interview of Arlene Wohglemuth by the Trib's Ross Ramsey. We are unsure if he sports hip eye wear however. (His picture on line suggest his tastes are more traditional)

Amazing how an election will do that isn't it?

You've gotta hand it to the gambling lobby, they're persistent at least.

Does a Huckabee endorsement matter in Texas politics? At the ballot box my guess is not much, but this is insider baseball so who knows?

And finally....

We give you the most anticipated audit in Texas this year. Soon to be released (and spun) by partybloggers everywhere.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yes, it's news-ish....

but DAMN...

(Sen. Wentworth scolds new Rep. Simpson over campus carry, Mary Tuma, Texas Independent)
Longtime state Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) wasn’t too pleased to hear that freshman state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) had jumped the gun by prefiling a bill that would allow concealed firearms on college campuses. Wentworth has driven the issue in past years.

“The representative-elect doesn’t yet understand the procedure and traditional courtesies in the Legislature. You don’t come down here, when you haven’t even been sworn in yet, and introduce fanfare that your fellow members got passed,” Wentworth said Tuesday evening. “You don’t come in as a newly elected representative and take over a bill that has already been worked on by two senior members. You don’t come down here and think you’re going to be the author of major legislation in your first term.”
Emphasis mine.

Jeff Wentworth needs to remember just who and what he is. An elected official whose primary job is to serve the citizens of the State of Texas. Not some tarted up demi-royal doddering around the capital annex wearing nothing but a Texas Ranger star and some spurs. Obviously Sen. Wentworth's sense of entitlement is bigger than his ability. You're essentially a part-time employee when you're in the Texas Lege anyway. Which could be part of the problem, we're asking Summer temp help to run the State.

Get him and Dan Patrick in the same room and the egos involved would reach critical mass.....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kay goes all-in....

What else could this mean?

(Kay Bailey Hutchison backs tea party's earmark moratorium, Todd J. Gillman, Dallas Morning-News*)
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison – an ardent purveyor of earmarks throughout her congressional career – fell in line this morning behind a two-year moratorium demanded by tea party conservatives.
That Establishment Kay has seen the handwriting on the wall and is tweaking her campaign message for 2012 to something that is Tea Party friendly speaks volumes. For her to have a chance at surviving the Senatorial primary in 2012 the damage done in the Gubernatorial primary against Perry must be undone. I've no doubt Rick Perry will aid her in doing this, but she's going to have to make some concessions. I imagine this is just the first of many.

Here's the thing. If she adopts this message and sticks to it, she's probably going to win. The only people who are mad about her continual breaking of the "term limits" promise are Democrats who would love to get control of the seat. Speaking of Democrats, I wonder if Bill White knew something we didn't yesterday? He couldn't win either way, but I'd rather run against Dewhurst than KBH in a senate race, partially because she's not the best campaigner. Dewhurst is a merciless campaigner when he needs to be.

If she gains the Tea Party vote and can keep a hold of her moderate base however, all bets are off. If those things happen she's unbeatable....except by Perry. All bow down to the campaign focus of Rick Perry & team.

Expect the "news-ish" agencies to go mad running breathless exposes of pretty much every earmark she's successfully procured during her time in the Senate.

h/t to Kevin Whited of BlogHouston for the link.

The Noise Machine (11/16/10)

Hoo boy.....

HISD is dipping its toes into the single-gender campus well. Good luck with that.

Wait, I thought it wasn't about revenue? So how come all of the concerns are about revenue now?

No, MORE belt-tightening, MORE dangit!!!! Suck it in fellas.

Kirk Watson vs. David Dewhurst. Dewhurst does a good early job of making Watson look like he's grandstanding.

It's Not that tough of a decision Ms. Hutchison. Retire and save yourself from an embarrassing defeat in the primary. (Unless she thinks the primary defeat to Rick Perry wasn't all that damaging to her politically.)

How close is Mexico to becoming a failed state? It's hard to tell from our media reports, (most of them pushing an agenda) but it has to be pretty close. (Which begs the questions: What is our Government doing about it? Or, more accurately, what CAN they do?)

Rep. Fred Brown is going after the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. I'd be very surprised if the check scratchers at UT-Austin and aTm-College Station let him succeed.

And finally.....

The idea that pension funds are not Ponzi schemes destined to fall is taking on more and more water.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another way to posture politically.... to make a lot of noise and then call for the creation of a "Blue Ribbon Commission" to figure things out.

Which leads HCA to this question: If part of your campaign plea is that you're the experienced and competent choice who has the ability to "make the tough decisions" for Texans...then why are you now asking us to trust the words of others when it comes to the budget? Why didn't we just elect them in the first place?

If there's a more useless thing in politics than the Blue Ribbon Commission we've yet to find it. Guess what that makes politicians who repeatedly call for them in our eyes?

Do the job you were elected to do, stop fawning it off on others.

The Noise Machine (11/15/10)

Slightly abbreviated this morning.....

You have to give it to Chronblog, they've got political fluff down to a science.

Happy 50th Houston Baptist University.

The Texas Tribune (Now, with even MORE eye-wear!) provides us with this look at the two GOP's in Texas courtesy of Ross Ramsey. The whole idea is a little ridiculous, considering that both parties have major factions within that are constantly in a fight for ideological supremacy. Still, it matches the InterLeft narrative that the GOP is continually infighting and not focused on the 'people's business'. (What, you don't see the same thing going on with the Nancy Pelosi/minority leader spat?)?

And Texas shall lead them.....

Yeah, but Robin Hood always gave to the poor.

Ed Hubbard takes a peek at the race for Texas Speaker of the House. It seems that Straus has committed the unforgivable sin. He tried to get things done in a Lege that was almost 50/50.

Charles Kuffner looks at straight-party voting and the City Propositions. And comes to the conclusion that....well, to be truthful I don't really know. At the end he suggests that the under vote didn't have much of an effect on the Prop outcomes, but he hedges a lot in the body of his post.

and finally.....

Have W will protest. *sigh*

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A heretics view of DR 10

It's always wildly anticipated, and it's been praised by most but I'm finding myself underwhelmed by St. Arnold's recent entry into Divine Reserve territory.

Divine Reserve Ten is a barleywine, and there's little I like better than a good, malty barleywine. Unfortunately I struggled to find the notes of malt in the nose of this, and the taste reminded me of a beer that was a little unsure of itself.

I drank two over the weekend, both at the traditional temperature of around 55 degrees F. The first one I drank on its own, letting it breathe after pouring for just a bit, and had a lot of difficulty identifying it as a barleywine.

To see if I was imagining things, I tried another bottle the next night alongside a Bigfoot barleywine from Sierra Nevada brewing, and a personal favorite of mine, the Sisyphus barleywine from Real Ale. (Real Ale makes my favorite ale: Devil's Backbone, St. Arnold's makes my 2nd favorite: their Texas Wheat) When first opened I thought the Bigfoot smelled like OFF insect repellent. Again, to make sure I wasn't hallucinating I checked with my wife and she noticed the same thing. I poured it into a room temperature glass and waited for two minutes, the next sniff was malty and sharp and good. The barleywine in the bottle was good as well. After this I poured and smelled the DR10, still nothing. I let it sit for a couple of minutes and thought that I got a slight whiff of malt but still nothing much. When tasting I still noticed the same confusion that I had noted the night before. Finally, I tasted the Sisyphus, it was just as I remembered and a great example of the type. The smell was right on, the head was perfect (I found the head of the DR10 to be thin, the BigFoot was right on) and the color was caramel.(as was the BigFoot, with the St. Arnold's coming in just a tad lighter, but equally rich in texture)

I'm hoping that 5 or 6 months in the bottle will help to settle this beer down a bit. That's what happened with DR9. (Which I couldn't drink immediately due to it's overwhelming bitterness but am really enjoying this fall due to it having mellowed.) If anything, DR10 reminds me of an immature barleywine that just needs some time to organize itself and find out what it needs to be. Since these are beers that are meant to be laid down I'm not that concerned. (After all, the great Bordeaux wines are borderline undrinkable in their youth) Maybe some time in a dark, cool place will do them some good.

Divine Reserve 10:

11% ABV

NOTE: On the St. Arnold's website it recommends laying these bottles down and letting the beer age. I'm hoping they're right.

Katy Fresh Market Closes its doors.

You won't find it on their web-site but this past weekend was the last for the Katy Fresh Market, who blamed slow business and poor farmer crops (a result of the recent drought) and difficulties receiving stock as among the reasons they were closing.

The wife went there on Saturday morning (I was not feeling well that morning and stayed home unfortunately) and said the shelves were almost bare. All they had left were a few onions, some potatoes and a few tomatoes left on the shelves. For the first time in several months we purchased most of our produce from HEB.

Too bad. The staff at the Market gave hints that their might be an attempt to come back in the Spring, but that would depend on the willingness of the financial backers to fund what has, so far, been sluggish consumer response.

It's back to Georgia's and the various Farmer's Markets around town for us I guess. Or a heavier reliance on HEB's organics.*

*There's nothing wrong with HEB's organic section mind you, except that it's somewhat limited. The quality of the produce there is typically pretty good.

Or maybe the issue is overblown?

First we hear that A new law to prevent discrimination passed last year has resulted in.....absolutely ZERO indictments or convictions. Most of us would conclude that, possibly, such a law was a solution in search of a problem and wasn't needed. If, however, you were an activist, the problem is with the law itself, specifically that it was written in a manner that didn't catch enough people who.....well, it just didn't catch people OK?

Then we hear that an "unexpectedly small" crowd turned out for a summit that was offering "solutions" to bullying. Again, with no attendance one might assume that that the problem is not as prevalent as experts would have us to believe. Unfortunately, the problem dear reader, is probably going to be that UH or someone else just didn't do enough to promote the summit or that people were afraid if they attended someone would bully them? A more likely scenario is that most people realize that much of what's going to be done about bullying is not going to be done in an auditorium talking to the editor of a magazine and other academics.

Until then, expect these mini tempests in teapots to continue to boil.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Local news, ChronBlog style.

It's bad enough they didn't think to look for themselves.....

(Image captured from front page of ChronBlog, Thursday, November 11, 2010 @ approx. 10:30 AM.)

Note the highlighted headline: "Web site claims to have key docs on UH strategy to KTRU deal:. At the time, clicking the link (now gone) immediately directed the interested reader to the original story at Texas Watchdog.

Let me make sure I get this straight: A local watchdog news organization does original reporting on something that ChronBlog should have thought of (pertaining to the sale of KTRU, a reasonably big story locally), ChronBlog then links directly to their piece (possibly giving the false impression that Texas Watchdog and ChronBlog are somehow related) all while questioning the legitimacy of the story through a stand-offish headline.

Did I leave anything out? (Other than the obvious "What the hell were they thinking?" question that is.)

How Metro could work

According to Bill King writing in today's ChronBlog editorial page.

I love the "prominent local blogger" riff as well as many of his ideas. It's a good look at how Metro could provide real transportation solutions while living well within the bounds of the 2003 voter referendum.

Which, of course, means that none of it has much of a chance of getting completed*.

*Most telling is the first comment. Someone angry because King is focusing on people outside Loop 610. What the resident of A Place Called Perfect is forgetting is that MOST people in the region reside beyond the confines of the Loop. That may not be Perfect, but it's reality

The Noise Machine (11/11/10)


Starting off with a note for bosses everywhere. Treat 'em right.

This is the sound of political desperation. After the mid-term shellacking you knew this was imminent.

I wonder if Steve Mostyn was at this meeting? He dumped a ton of cash into the election after all and has zilch to show for it.

On another front: How to handle this story from a "news-ish" perspective courtesy of Jesse Zwick writing for the American Independent:
It looks like the left-wing independent spending infrastructure, long moribund, is starting to show its first signs of new life.
Independent? Hardly, coordinated is more like it. Just as all of those conservative 527 organizations are parroting the R message.

Imagine that: Poor disclosure surrounding the stimulus. Nah, that could NEVER happen.

Bad Radio-gate? And where the hell is our classical station?

If you listen to some, the cause of the Democrats downfall was, in part, those damn, greedy Democrats.

Your Ooops! moment of the day.

Full of ambition and ready to...... Well, OK, so they don't really know what they're going to do yet, but hey....they're ambitious! Right?

To quote Houston's sexiest blogger: Good. It's a bad planned designed on dodgy science.

Fight! Fight! At least it's not boring.

Glory, Glory Hallelujah! Their truth is marching on. Or something like that.

The return of the Republicans to power. With Texas getting a nice boost as well. (Which will, hopefully, put an end to the "if you would have only voted the right way you wouldn't be getting screwed" meme) Or not, calling voters ignorant is the new campaign yard sign.

Note to the students staging hunger strike: Many of the people who oppose the DREAM act would consider your demise to be a good start. Just sayin'. (Either that or they'll call for ICE to go and round you up.)

There already IS a ban on texting and driving. It's called distracted driving laws. If police would enforce those.....

And finally,

For all of the talk about Texas dirty energy, we sure have a lot to teach the Chinese about how to get at it cleanly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is "News-ish"? (Part II)

This is news-ish...

(Will the Tea Party Go Nuclear?, Sue Sturgis, Texas Observer)
From Facing South, where this story was first published.

Among the special interests that see the outcome of the mid-term elections as a win for themselves is the U.S. nuclear power industry.

NRG Energy, the New Jersey-based power company that's seeking federal subsidies in the form of Department of Energy loan guarantees to build two more reactors at the South Texas Project near Bay City, has already told Bloomberg that it expects to benefit from Republican gains in Congress:

What is Facing South? I'll let their website tell you...
Since our founding in 1970 by veterans of the civil rights movement, the Institute for Southern Studies has established a national reputation as an essential resource for grassroots activists, community leaders, scholars, policy makers and others working to bring lasting social and economic change to the region.

The Institute draws attention to the national importance of the South and offers an exciting vision of the region-a place brimming with a capacity for progressive change that challenges its reputation as a monolithic, conservative stronghold.
An organization that advocates for progressive policy change. Which is fine, encouraged even. After all, people and organizations have a right to champion their views.

For that matter, news organizations have a right to advocate for views*. Provided they're shooting straight. The problem with the Observer is that they are play-pretending to be a straight news site....
We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy.

Except when they're running stories from Democratic-aligned, progressive groups that is right? THEN they might serve a group or a party. Maybe.

The Texas Democratic Trust may have failed, but their legacy lives on.

*As a matter of fact, I wish more of them did. I just wish that the Texas Observer, the Texas Tribune (Now, with more HIP eye wear!!) and the American Independent would just be open and honest with everyone about what positions they are advocating.

What is "News-Ish"?

THIS is "News-ish"...

(Denying in-state tuition to undocumented college students would ‘be stamping out hope,’ Noriega says, Karie Meltzer, Texas Independent)
When Rick Noriega heard that Texas A&M University’s student senate voted to keep illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition rates, he was surprised –- but not angry.
Rick Noriega?

It's illustrative of how deep the hole is for TX Democrats that progressive news-ish organizations are starting to look to marginal candidates for leadership on big issues. What's next? Chris Bell on Education Finance? (Another moon-shot perhaps?)

Another telling point you're dealing with news-ish and not news? Unfair treatment of the opposing side's opinion:
Noriega said about 20,000 students –- not just immigrants, but students from other states — have gained access to higher education because of this law.

“I don’t know any rational argument that could refute the fact that that’s a good thing as it applies to our values as Texans,” he said. “Education and higher education are core fundamental values of Texas.”

IRCOT’s petition claims at least 8,000 illegal immigrants are attending Texas colleges and universities and receiving in-state tuition. However, a 2006 report from the Texas Comptroller’s office says the number of undocumented immigrants who attend Texas colleges and pay in-state tuition is unknown, so estimating the cost associated with HB 1403 is difficult.

State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) is confident the court will reverse the law. IRCOT’s attorney, David Rogers, said the case is still in discovery mode. But if the state law is upheld, Berman plans to file legislation to reverse it on purely economic grounds.

“The $42 million we’re spending on these illegal aliens should be benefits going to Texas students in the form of loans or grants which they aren’t getting,” he said. “The law says we have to educate these students from K5 through 12th grade; we don’t have to educate them in college.”

David Hinojosa, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, is defending the state in the case.

“We think this is a frivolous case. People like [Rep.] Leo Berman don’t like undocumented immigrants,” Hinojosa said. “They want to make lives as miserable as possible for these people.”
Bracketing an opposing opinion with two opinions the writer favors, thus allowing the favored position to both frame, and respond to the argument, is a tactic employed not just by news-ish organizations, but by actual news organizations themselves. You find a lot of this on Op/Ed pages and in opinion columns: 1. There can be no reasonable argument against the favored position. 2. The opposing position says ..... 3. But they're wrong because.....

To be fair, it's also found a LOT in blogs and other amateur writing, on both sides of the political aisle.

To their credit, these news-ish sites (and the InterLeft that's increasingly using them for source material) are very good at latching on to the approved narrative and beating readers over the head with it. They did a very good job of establishing the truthiness around Perry's actions in the Cameron Todd Willingham case, and they maintained the fallacy that Bill White was a credible candidate up until the obvious. Now they're playing right along with the tune "Bill White was a bad candidate".

When they're not calling Texas voters ignorant that is.

What I'll be watching during the next Lege session.

As I type this, the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature is less than one business quarter away from dropping the gavel. After last week's election I've given some thought to some of the possibilities and this is what I'll be watching for....

The success rate of Sen. Dan Patrick. It's no secret that Patrick's goal is to remake Texas politics, with himself set up as a major regional power-broker. It will be a bell-weather session for him if Voter ID, anti-illegal immigration and appraisal-cap bills get passed. It will be a nightmare for future Texans if he's successful in repealing the Rosebush/Blocker Bill.

Does Warren Chisum win the speakership? Possibly the biggest question is going to be answered early. How Republicans are going to attack the significant problems they'll be facing will be revealed in this vote. For my part, I'm rooting hard for Straus.

How much of Debbie Riddle's legislative agenda passes? Riddle is setting herself up to be the darling of the anti-immigrant, social-values "the sky is falling" because people that don't look or talk like us are ruining the country crowd. At the same time some of the elephants are starting to make noise about minority outreach, the pass/fail rate of Riddle's bills will be telling.

How will the Freshman do? There are a LOT of freshman R's. Many of them lacking political experience. Fortunately for the GOP they are in a position of dominance and can overcome this by keeping the herd in line. Most people are saying the Tea Party is going to be a big driver, but even Tea Party politicians understand the need of party structure. How big of a roll will it play?

How effective a minority can the Democrats be? To answer this, my guess is that Scott Hochberg will be the key. Besides the stamping of feet and profane classification of political opposites that one expects to find amongst the InterLeft, at some point the Democrats are going to have to present a viable opposition legislative package. My expectation is that Rep. Scott Hochberg will offer up the best bills. He's a serious thinker on matters of budget and education who could actually squeak one or two bills through this session. If he can do that, he should be the guy Democrats look to in the future for direction.

Is Ardmore in play? In 2003 the TX Democrats famously absconded to Ardmore in an attempt to shut-down TX government and block the GOP legislative agenda. It was John Whitmire who eventually returned to Austin and broke the stalemate. What Whitmire rightly understood, and Democrats didn't, was that the ploy wasn't playing well outside of the far-left base, and they were going to be there anyway. Where Democrats were suffering was among the middle, voters who, while not crazy about the GOP agenda, understood the stalling tactic for what it was: Political grandstanding.

Oh that short-fall. By some accounts it's up to $25 Billion, the most reliable estimates peg it at around $18 Billion. The expectation is that the GOP is going to attack spending with a machete, all while trying to pass a tax cut which could exacerbate the problem. One are in which I find myself in agreement with TX Democrats is that TX Budget has a structural flaw on the income side, we disagree on how to fix it. I also agree with Republicans that government spending is too, too high. Where we disagree is what, where and how deeply to cut. My ideal scenario is a restructuring of the tax-code that is not revenue neutral (but which spreads a small increase over all residents and businesses with few (if any loopholes) coupled with small cuts in agencies whose budgets are full of projects and not recurring charges. For example: Road building would be a good place to cut, for now. We can go without new roads for a bit, we cannot go without education or assistance to the poor. Any tax code written should be designed with an eye toward future stability and made to be as free from future political class-warfare as is possible.

Who's going to provide the coverage? MSM newspapers are flaming out, and online sites such as the Texas Tribune (hip, urban eyeware and all) have, so far, been unable to fully fill that void. Last session the Trib (without as much eyeware) did a serviceable job but, as we saw during the last election, their limits are still being fleshed out. Harvy Kronberg's Quorum Report is a good source of information, but it's a pay-site that the general public won't read. One interesting issue of note is the rise of news-ish sites such as Texas Observer and the Texas Independent. Their agenda being the forwarding of progressive causes under the guise of straight news stories could be instrumental in framing the largest issues facing the 82nd, even before the first gavel drops.

The Noise Machine (11/10/10)

OK Look....

Imagine that, a call for the Tea Parties to reach out to minorities is being initially dismissed by white Republicans. (see the comments) is forwarding some of the best discussion on various issues in the Republican party today. It's a shame more people don't know about it.

Hearing that a new quasi-governmental agency has been created to oversee the "amateur" portion of the Dynamo sports stadium makes me happy that Houston's budget problems, crime-lab issues, police shortage and infrastructure issues have all been addressed. Wait.....What?

Why I think Tom Delay is going to skate courtesy of R.G. Ratcliffe from ChronBlog:
Prosecutors in the political money-laundering case against former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay are relentlessly building a circumstantial case, but as the sixth day of testimony ended Tuesday, they still had not directly linked DeLay to the alleged scheme.

You'd think a position this important would deserve tougher press scrutiny than the typically ChronBlog "Puff" special". You'd be wrong apparently.

A preview of the Democratic response to pretty much everything this Lege session. In summary: "The Republicans are (insert derogatory statement {or mild vulgarity} here)" (The thing is, I tend to agree with them re: "tough" anti-illegal immigrant legislation, it's just that they're not offering up thoughtful legislation either. Both parties are approaching the issue from the standpoint of political gain, not strength of the Country.)

More attacks on conservative government policy by so-called conservatives. Someone in the Republican leadership needs to remind Mr. Patrick why that rule was put in place to begin with. (Conservatism 101 would be a good place to start.)

And Texas and Nebraska shall lead them? Go figure.

Obsession typically makes for bad political journalism.

It appears the election is not "quite" over. At least not until the courts have had their say right?

Odessa GOP head Tisha Crow admits to minor election violations. At this point I just want to say........"No Relation".

Rick Perry vs. Social Security. The thing is: He's right. Some just don't want to admit the problems.

Speaking of Perry's book: this is why journalism is dying. Weak attempts at humor masking thinly veiled partisan shots all of which offer nothing of consequence to the reader. (Kind of like this blog really. The difference being I'm unpaid and reading this is free.)

And finally.....

And here we go again..... Expect there to be much wailing and gnashing of teeth about contract terms being upheld.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Noise Machine (11/08/2010)

Better late than never....

Want to see how your elected representatives are voting? There's an app for that. (Would like to see said app for Android phones)

Just what is a Conservative anyway? (For that matter, what is a liberal? Or a progressive? Political labels are meaningless when stands on issues fluctuate with "what does my party want me to do?")

It seems that Latino voters gave a lift to the GOP this last election cycle. Square that one with the political rhetoric.

Following their completely lack-luster coverage before the race (which included the laziest man in the world not finding him on Google and another reporter mis-spelling his name) ChronBlog offers a 'make-right' piece to Jack Morman.

Speaking of Garcia, her loss cost her more than just her elected position. Her leadership roles in various political groups is gone as well.

And so it begins....It will be time to see if Rick Perry was telling the truth when he said the Arizona immigration bill was wrong for Texas, because Riddle's bill is almost a carbon copy.

Bi-Partisanship is good especially when it's used to prevent laws meant for adults to be too-harshly applied to kids.

They still don't get it. And the beat in the State Senate goes on. (It's easy to do whatever you want to do when there's almost a 0% chance you'll be voted out.)

This is good news for the Trib whose reporting was in desperate need for editing. It will be interesting to see if a lefty editor from a lefty publications is able to improve some of the glaring errors at that shop. (I'm not expecting much, after all, he and Evan share tastes in eye wear.)

It's always funny to see sour grapes in action. Jason Stanford is an angry man. Maybe Chris Bell will give him some of his windfall and that will make him feel better?

And finally......

How bad has it gotten for Big Labor? Bad enough that they're having to result to puff-pieces ran in news-ish sites assuring Democrats that the disastrous election would have been even worse if not for them. That's pretty bad.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just like Democrats.....

....Texas Republicans just can't help themselves. Win an election, go away from what got you there and focus on social issues. This has happened before so I'm assuming it should come as no surprise.

What's sad is there are real financial issues that Republicans need to deal with.

Why do I have a feeling that while the financial situation in Texas is blowing up, Republicans will have their equivalent of the Democrat-led steroid in baseball hearings focusing on creationism in schools, or making the phrase "Pro choice Republican" a thing of the past?

Of course, there's nothing that says a social-issues Republican can't be a fiscal conservative at the same time, but there's nothing that says a liberal social-issues Republican can't be either. This will be forgotten in the fight over making sure one is ideologically pure.

Chin-up Democrats, there's hope for you yet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Noise Machine (11/05/2010)

Will he or won't he?

Rest in Peace Rep. Kuempel. Condolences and thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Burnout translated to mean "Hey, they said I'd get to see how cartoons are made."

Good to see that The Apple Dumpling Gang is back on form. It really shouldn't bother you that the editorial board for the biggest political blog in Houston's largest city is terrible. The old saw about no expectations coming to mind....

What if Tom Delay skates? As many expect he will?

I still can't figure this one out: Wouldn't it make sense that Congress members on regulatory committee's have some experience and contacts in the industries they're regulating?

Post mortems....Or, what the media does best, coming in after the fact and telling people what they should have done after things go wrong.

He might run, he might not. One thing is certain we're all going to be just as fed up with it as he is by the time this is over.

I don't think Perry ever said "Hate" Reject, distrust maybe but never 'hate'. That seems to be a media creation.

Of COURSE they found a bag of uncounted ballots for Ortiz. It was only 7, but would you be all that surprised if more turned up?

It's official, The Tea Party has been co-opted by the Republican Party. Specifically, they've become a new branch of the values voters. What a shame.

So, Keith Olbermann is a Democratic donor. Who, really is surprised by this? (It is mildly amusing considering his over-the-top wailing against NewsCorp's Republican donations.)

State political reporting 101: Get quotes from Burka and Stein, throw in a Democratic consultant and call it a day. You'd think there were other Democratic voices out there, but they're not on speed-dial I'm guessing? (The State's political media needs as much of an overhaul as the Texas Democratic Party.)

And finally......

Just in case you were wondering where all those championship t-shirts for the losing team goes....Now you know. (This means there are thousands of people World Wide who believe the Astros were World Series champions in 2005.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The thing they're forgetting..... that many people view climate change as an economic issue.

(Why the election wasn’t a referendum on climate change (and why the press flubbed the story), Andrew Restuccia, American Independent)
Exit polls indicate that jobs and the economy were the top issues on the minds of voters on Tuesday when they trotted off to the polls. While climate change and energy issues played a role in a number of campaigns — with environmentalists running advertisements in key districts criticizing Republican candidates for their support of drilling, for example, and praising other candidates for their environmental records — at least one poll shows that it was not a key issue for voters.
This theory only works if you think most Americans separate Cap and Trade from the economy, since that question wasn't asked (Whether or not the respondent viewed Cap n' Trade as an economic or environmental issue) the results they're touting are useless.

Plus, 27% of respondents said they opposed "Nancy Pelosi's agenda" which includes (you guessed it) Cap and Trade legislation.

Just another of the many stories by news-ish organizations that masquerade as straight news while all the time being de-facto op-ed pieces for progressive issues. Anyone who's trying to separate Cap and Trade from the economy is either naive, intellectually dishonest, or a little of both. (In hindsight, like the Red Light camera supporters who assured us it "It wasn't about the money, it's all about safety." Sure it is....)


When the subject is Rick Perry, the nuts come out to play:

All excerpts from the comments (and are produced as-written with no editing):
TheAllKnowningOne wrote:
LOL at anyone that would vote for this man for POTUS or Governor. He talks about fiscal issues yet we're in the hole billions and billions. Whose to blame for that? The hypocrites called republicans.
This person must be constantly laughing, 'cause 55% did vote for Perry.
kalki wrote:
His big driving point to conservatives is going to be on the decent economy here in Texas, but that is not his credit to claim when the state is set up to rough out economic downturns better than other states and Perry wasn't responsible for that. Perry is going to be an easy target on immigration because he will scream against the Feds and rage about our porous border...when in all the time as Texas Governor, he has come up with zilch to deal with immigration. He will defend that by saying it is up to the Federal government to enforce immigration and they failed...but...this from the same mouth that believes that states should be allowed to control immigration. Perry can't have it both ways...immigration can't be up to the federal government to manage while he wants states to be able to do it. If someone confronts Perry on that, his tiny brain inside all that skunk hair will implode.
Yup, an easy target, so easy that Bill White, the smartest man in the room, constantly missed him. (So...what does that say about White?)

Cort wrote:
Did you see Perry's acceptance speech? The strange bouncing on the balls of his feet, the long pauses between statements, the slightly paranoid glances, quite possibly the most forced acknowledgment of a political spouse since Al kissed Tipper: Rick was high. How else do you explain it?

His genius is for making irresponsible statements that appeal to a tiny, lizardy part of voters' brains. Seceede! Close the borders! Small Government! Down with Washington! It all sounds good, but it's all completely ridiculous.
That one was probably my favorite.

Lest you think Republicans are immune:
Why doesn't someone grill our idiot-in-chief obaaaaaaaaaaama regarding the outrageous spending for his India trip? This hasn't been covered anywhere in MSM and heaven forbid the Houston Komical would cover such a story.
$200 million PER DAY for this idiot to take 3,000 people with him on a state visit. Guess he has to pay back his dumb0crat cronies and the union thugs who support him.
With the economy in shambles and over 15% actual unemployment, it's a travesty for obaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaama to spend this kind of money for basically a vacation. He should be impeached for this. All the dumb0crats who support this idiot should be ashamed of yourselves. Where is your outrage? If this would have been GW Bush, the dumb0crat controlled media would have been screaming at the top of their lungs.
I point these out to note that you should tune them out. If the height of your political discourse is "idiot" or intentional mis-spellings of the other party's name.......

Oh, and it's secede.

ADDED: One more, because it's too funny to pass up:
D: as long as the woman that didn't realize what the second amendment said lost, I didn't really care one way or the other. My views are entirely too divided to be classified under either red or blue. :)

Posted by: Jessica at November 4, 2010 08:18 AM
My only comment is "heh".

What now for Texas Democrats?

Charles Kuffner, the dean of InterLeft blogging and "Houston's Sexiest Blogger"* made an interesting comment in his election review yesterday:
I don’t mean to be indelicate, but party chairs usually don’t survive results like these. I hope whoever succeeds Boyd Ritchie has a strategy in mind.
Like Mr. Kuffner, I assume Ritchie is gone. Unless you're Harris County Republicans (and Jared Woodfill) the idea that the person in charge of a political drubbing should hang around is probably not a winning strategy.**

I don't pretend to be an insider on Democratic State political wrangling so I've no idea who might be a suitable replacement. Were I a Democrat however I would think about picking someone from Dallas, because the Austin-centric model has not been working out very well. It will also be interesting to see if Gary Birnberg survives as the HCDP leader. As bad as it was Statewide, Harris County Democrats lost all of their hard-fought gains.

Another question that I have is this: What's going to happen to Matt Angle? If you're not familiar with Mr. Angle, and his influence in State Democratic politics, read this overview by Evan from Rick Perry vs. World.

In short, Angle was brought in to implement the Colorado Model, which (for now) failed. By failed I mean "didn't succeed in turning Texas Blue". Where they did succeed is in recruiting high-dollar donors, namely Steve Mostyn, who (by some accounts) spent upward of $10 Million in the current election cycle and now has nothing to show for it. Will this loss short-circuit fund-raising efforts in the future? Will big-time donors think twice before pouring personal fortunes into campaigns that are unlikely to break 40%? Tough questions for Democrats that will need answers in the future.

Another area of success is in the establishment of what I'm calling "news-ish" organizations. The Texas Independent, The Texas Observer and (most successfully) The Texas Tribune**** all were established to report progressive issues as "news" alongside a mix of straight stories which serve to drive the political narrative and provide fodder for InterLeft bloggers and commenters across the State. It was a Texas Tribune*** story that I linked to regarding the failure of the Texas Trust, a story that allowed Angle to put his own spin on the loss FWIW.

Going forward all of these questions will need hard answers if Texas Democrats are going to remain a serious player Texas Politics in the near future. They also must address issues relating to their appeal to moderates and reigning in, or reducing the importance of, some of their more extreme players. It's never a wise strategy to insult the electorate before asking for their vote.

For my part I hope the Democrats succeed. Right now Texas is dangerously lacking a strong counter voice to uber-corporatist politicians like Dan Patrick. There needs to be a strong voice that speaks up for the other side. One party wielding too much power is a recipe for disaster. It should be an interesting drama to watch unfold.

*Thanks to Slampo for the moniker

**You KNOW Woodfill is going to try and take credit for this win. Despite the fact that none of it is attributable to anything he did.

***Of all of those "news-ish" outlets, I consider the Trib to be closest to a legitimate news source. They have areas where they really excel in reporting. I was expecting more from their election coverage, but the fickleness of web-servers dealt them a bad hand. Their coverage of the Lege is typically second to none. Their biggest coup was their hour-long interviews with each Goober candidate. It singlehandedly rendered the newspaper editorial board interview moot and was the closest thing Texans got to a debate. For that reason alone they deserve to be taken seriously and their content is meaningful.

****It should be noted that these three media organizations are, by all appearances, not connected. Except in mission, which they all share. Right now I don't know who is donating to their operations (something I'm looking for) so I'll say they're not financially related at this time.

The Noise Machine (11/04/2010)

Get your coffee ready

Nothing like a Speaker's race to get the blood flowing. A disputed, controversial speaker's race at that.

From zeroes to heroes? Suddenly the Texas congressional delegation is expected to have clout again.....

With Sessions and Cornyn expected to lead the charge.

It's good to be out in front of a movement, as opposed to lagging behind a movement. As said above, Texas should find this out in the coming years.

One thing about such a big win by one party, it's hard to avoid talks of a mandate. In Texas, there certainly is a conservative mandate, Nationwide? It will be easy for the Republicans to overreach.

Conservative or not the next Lege session is going to be a doozy. What with budget short-falls and a restive populace it my be a good time to buy stock in Grecian.

And what do Republicans have to thank for their huge win? The straight party ballot option for one.

And rookies will lead them. Not a bad "get to know" piece by the Tribune. (Speaking of, I wondered why their election coverage was lacking, it appears to be related to web gremlins. Suck.)

It may be good to be the king, but it's not so good to be linked to the Prez. Edward's VP dalliance damaged him.

Uh Oh You know what "no concession" means.....

Those, civil, professional Democrats, you know the one's who's supporters regularly use vulgarities and issue veiled threats to their political opposition? Yeah, them. (Newspapers seem to be at a loss right now don't they?)

As if on cue: A "sky is falling" news analysis piece from two of ChronBlog's Austin bureau reporters. Watching the print media come to terms with these election results is going to be entertaining. (The key is to bash, without appearing that you're bashing. It's not that easy to do.)

Don't count out Red Light cameras just yet. My favorite complaint is the revenue loss one. Because remember, RLC's were all about safety. Except when they weren't.

There are already rumors that the $5 per month residential drainage fee number was a low-ball. Once schools and non-profits are excluded by ordinance residents will have to pick up the short-fall. (I've heard that it's been decided your water service can be cut if you don't pay whatever the fee will ultimately be. Plus, the "opt-out" feature will go-away. Did anyone "read the bill?")

and finally.....

Perry's not going to Disneyland, he's hitting the road for his book tour. I shouldn't, but I find myself wanting to read the thing. If, for nothing else, the entertainment aspect.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election leftovers

Damage control.

If you listen to Texas Democrats, Obama did it. That's the story of Sylvia Garcia and Jim Dunnam and by golly they're sticking to it. Dunnam went so far as to say there's no Texas voter dissatisfaction with Democratic policies in Austin. I'm not sure if that's true (Bill White's anti-oil policies probably brought some blow-back for example), but Republican voters are a much more Nationally minded set then are their Democratic counterparts so it's probably 90% true. Of course, then Garcia went and ruined it by playing the race card. I don't see that as being a valid cause in her former precinct.

Don't look now, but the Republicans have gone and elected them a few minority representatives. Welcome to the early 20th century Republicans. Elect a few more and pretty soon you'll be caught up with the rest of us.

This is kind of a big deal. Now that the election is over those who won the job are looking down the barrell of huge budget shortfalls in almost every level of government. Yes, there's a structural debt problem but there's also a structural spending problem in State government. Both of those need to be addressed and addressed soon. I've no doubt the Republicans will try and put another band-aid on the spending problem, but I can't see them having the strength of will to approach the revenue issue with any seriousness. Let's hope I'm wrong.

As impressive as GOP gains were in Congress, they were even more impressive in Statehouses across the country. Texas was no different. Republicans picked up an unthought of 22 new seats Tuesday, still dominate every statewide office and have control of the Senate. Democrats in Texas have been reduced to a very small minority. All they have left is the filibuster, here's hoping that doesn't go away anytime soon for political expediency.

Speaking of the Texas House. You're ready for the next campaign for Speaker right? In the matter of Chisum vs. Straus I put Straus as a small favorite. I truly hope he wins because Chisum doesn't strike me as leadership material.

Last but not least....

I find little disagreeable in what Joel Kotkin said.

In the matter of California vs. Texas

California is making a lot of noise but Texas Is quietly winning all of the battles.

In real, measurable metrics (job growth, unemployment rate, cost of living) Texas is way ahead of California, forcing the Left coast to invent metrics (over most of which they have no control: climate, etc.) proving them to still have a chance.

Of course, if they were so great they wouldn't be bleeding jobs and citizens. Nice climate, nice place to visit, about to become impossible to live in.

I have to say I'm not real enamored with the idea of AG Abbott and other's filing a lawsuit (on behalf of big oil) against this law. If California wants to put worthless emissions caps (which will be ignored through the purchase of 'waivers', which will increase State revenue, which is what this is all about) on plants then so be it. Let California's residents pay 5 times the going rate for gas and gasoline. In other words: Let the market decide.


Some Californians are trying to make their votes out as wiser than the rest of the country. That works unless you consider that, in 2001, Cali Democrats pushed through the mother of all incumbent protection plans. The failure to understand where exactly the value of a vote was lost is not the height of intelligence. No matter how many times you try and convince yourself of such. Texas needs to guard against that in this next bout of re-districting. Republicans can do just as poorly as Democrats after all.

And no, I didn't vote yesterday...

Taking a peek at Nick Anderson's political cartoon from Monday I laughed because it offers up a rather simplistic view of voting, elections etc. It's easy to say "If you don't vote you can't gripe" etc. but sometimes it's not that black and white.

For example: Me.

I didn't vote yesterday for three reasons:

1. I already voted in the primary

2. I live outside the City limits and could not vote on the propositions

3. I live in the most conservative district in America. CD-7. There was no serious Democratic opposition to any candidate in my area. Once I voted in the primary, my selections had either won or lost.

So I did vote, and when it appeared that all of the races I was concerned with were well in hand (Lite Gov, Attorney General, Ag Commissioner, Land Commissioner etc.) there wasn't any reason to go vote a second time. Dan Patrick, my Texas State Senator, won with 88% of the vote. Eighty-eight percent. I would've skipped that race anyway because I'm unhappy with him, I wouldn't have voted for Culberson and I wouldn't have voted for TX Governor because I don't like either candidate.

In Cy-Fair, the school board fight was insider baseball and I don't have children....


Such is the problem with "safe" districts. Once you vote in the primary the election is, for all intents and purposes, over. Had I lived inside the Houston City Limits, where things were much more up in the air, I would have been at the ballot box putting in my 1/2 cent. As it was I stayed home knowing that I had already won or lost the argument in the primary.

In many districts that's the most important election anyway.

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