Friday, March 31, 2006

Hold The Bumper Stickers....

It looks like a great new slogan:
Impeachment, hell no. Impalement.
The author vents why here.

In Our Own Backyard

Jaye brings it home in "you don't have to go all the way to South Dakota":
Texas ranks 45th in family planning. Texas also ranks 1st in pregnancies in young women under the age of 13. ...

This isn't about babies. Because if it were, women would have paid leave, insurance, pre-natal care, and every child would have insurance until they or their employers could pay for it themselves. It is about men controlling women. It is about wealthy people making damn sure that they can have sex and birth control and abortions because they can afford to and the poor can have children, drop out of school, have fewer educational opportunities because someone has got to cut madame's lawn and clean madame's toilet.

I blame men, but I also blame women. Republican women. Republican women who went to Planned Parenthood because they didn't want mommy and daddy to know about how they terminated their pregnancy. And they vote Republican because President Clinton got a blow job.

Maybe The Air's Too Thin In Colorado

PinkDome properly teased the office of this bigoted loon:
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo says he is so dissatisfied with the pace and direction of immigration reform, he is considering running for president to deal with it himself.

"If no one is willing to pick up the banner... yeah, I'll run," the Colorado Republican said Saturday during a visit to the state with the earliest presidential primary. ...

He said federal prisons overflow with illegal immigrants, some of whom aim to hard [sic] people.

"And they need to be found before it is too late. They're coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren," he said, pointing at people in the audience. "It's just despicable."

Je Blogue, Donc Je Suis

The Panhandle Truth Squad reminds us that this is also the birthday of René Descartes. As a friend used to say when I quoted Voltaire, "And where is he today?" La la, "prior certainty of consciousness", pffft!!

Why We Fight #23,456

Juanita spotted this revealing admission from Texas's senior assolon:
How worried are you about the deep divide within your own party over this issue?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I really am not worried about it. I think it's actually healthy.

BASH: You think it's healthy? In an election year it's healthy?

CORNYN: Well, you know, that's the problem in America, we're always having elections.

The Bottom Line

In the Pink Texas ponders the real important mystery about the Gov's scamquest:
Some business groups are opposed to Perry’s tax plan because they don’t think they should pay the tax if they haven’t turned a profit which begs the question, why are they in business if they don’t make any money? Are they bloggers?

Somebody To Loathe

Best comment of the day, found on a post about a Texas Republican primary loser contemplating a lawsuit over suspicious election results, at my favorite source for news of vote-rigging, The Brad Blog:
Well, just ask Alice ... one electronic voting machine makes you larger, another makes you small ...

If He Were Here Today....

Denton's Hugo Zoom points out that today is also the birthday of Cesar Chavez, remembering that Bobby Kennedy appeared with him during the Presidential campaign of 1968, adding:
"But can you imagine John Kerry or Hillary Clinton or any other senate democrat meeting with a figure like Chavez today?"
No, but I can imagine Chavez being arrested with the students protesting Republican immigration hate-mongering in Houston this week. Plus ça change, plus cest la même chose.

Best Served Cold

The Texas Observer gives deserved credit for todays ending of the funding for drug task forces like the horrorshow in Tulia to the ACLU and to Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast. They also mention Dallas State Representative Terry Hodge's role.

Joyeux Anniversaire!

On March 31, 1889, La Tour d'Eiffel was dedicated in Paris.

Why November Matters

Easter Lemming catches some rightist fear and trembling. Let's hope they're correct this time.
Most senior Democrats have attempted to remain noncommittal about censure and impeachment. They are waiting to see which way the wind blows.

The answer may be found at the local level. So far, 11 town councils have taken up resolutions supporting impeachment; eight have passed, the largest being in San Francisco. State Democratic parties have adopted similar resolutions in California, Nevada and Wisconsin. ImpeachPAC, a political-action committee devoted to supporting pro-impeachment candidates, lists 14 Democratic candidates mounting congressional campaigns centering on impeachment. ...

The odds are at least even that Democrats will win the House in 2006. That would make Conyers chairman of the Judiciary Committee, free to push through resolutions and hold hearings as he sees fit.

Feingold is running for president, and as he reaps political gains from the base by pushing for censure (with the possibility of impeachment), other Democratic contenders will gravitate toward his position. Remember that in 2003 the Democratic field was uniformly pro-war until Howard Dean made hay from the antiwar movement, causing the serious candidates to vacillate.

Impeachment is still in the distance, but make no mistake: Eventually the circus is coming to town.

When It De-reigns, It De-vours

Yet more bad news for Unavoidable Delay: not only has he been indicted, not only are his aides pleading guilty already, not only did he lose his concealed gun permit because of his indictment, not only does he have a former Congressman running against him as a Democrat in a new district the the Dem once represented part of (and one who has been praised by St. Hillary herself), not only does he have a far-right theocratic ex-Republican Congressman running against him as an independent to split his vote, but now a somewhat-known person has been nominated against him by the Libertarians. Off the Kuff points out this report:
The Libertarian Party nominated Bob Smither, founder of the Friendswood-based Laura Recovery Center, to be its candidate for the seat now held by Republican Tom DeLay. ...

The engineering consultant is known for the tragic case that involved the kidnapping and murder of his daughter Laura Smither. The 12-year-old Friendswood girl was out for a jog in April 1997 when she was abducted.

Her body was found a 17 days later in a pond not far from her home.

Smither and his wife, Gay, helped found the Laura Recovery Center, a nationally recognized center that helps search for missing children. The center also serves as a national advocate for laws to keep children safe.
Even more unfortunately for Ever More Terminable Delay, this candidate doesn't take the hard-core anti-tax approach of the more radical Libertarians. Instead of simply opposing any taxes at all, he wants to shuffle the deck:
Prior to his nomination, which was done in a party district meeting and not via a primary election, Smither said one of his main campaign issues would be pushing for the Fair Tax, or national sales tax system, to replace federal income taxes. On that issue he finds himself on the same side of the issue as DeLay who is leading an effort to get the Fair Tax plan passed within the next two months.
This practically guarantees that he will take votes from Delay's Republican and conservative base, not from the anti-war or anti-drug-prohibitionists he might have otherwise grabbed from voting Lampson as the lesser evil. Tommy, you're looking more like toast.

Putain d'Orléans

Stolen from 100 monkeys typing:

Outsourcing Everything

It seems that one company wants to fulfill a Libertarian dream, sort of like: "If defense is privatized, then it will be cheaper, and there will be more of it."
Stepping into a potential political minefield, Blackwater USA is offering itself up as an army for hire to police the world's trouble spots. ...

Under Black's proposal, it would take on an overt combat role.

"We're low-cost and fast," Black was quoted as saying. "The issue is, who's going to let us play on their team?"

Unlike national and multinational armies, which tend to get bogged down by political and logistical limitations, Black said, Blackwater could have a small, nimble, brigade-size force ready to move into a troubled region on short notice.
Wait, hasn't this been tried somewhere before? Oh, yes:
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy.

The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were. ...

The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way.
--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Sorry, Ben, We Couldn't Keep It

Statement of Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) to Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On the Call to Censure the President:
Where we disagree, apparently, is whether the President’s authority under Article II of the Constitution allows him to authorize warrantless surveillance without complying with FISA. You have said you think this is a close question. I do not believe he has such authority and I don’t think it’s a close question. We will continue to debate that I’m sure. But I think the fact that you have proposed legislation on this program undermines your argument that such presidential authority exists. Because if it does exist, then nothing that we can legislate, no matter how carefully crafted, is worth a hill of beans. For starters, your proposed bill may or may not cover what the NSA is now doing. You and I have no way of knowing because we have not been fully briefed on the program, and I am a member of the Intelligence Committee as well. But regardless, if the President has the inherent authority to authorize whatever surveillance he thinks is necessary, then he surely will ignore your law, just as he has ignored FISA on many occasions.

If Congress doesn’t have the power to define the contours of the President’s Article II powers through legislation, then I have no idea why people are scrambling to draft legislation to authorize what they think the President is doing. If the President’s legal theory, which is shared by some of our witnesses today, is correct, then FISA is a dead letter, all of the supposed protections for civil liberties contained in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act that we just passed are a cruel hoax, and any future legislation we might pass regarding surveillance or national security is a waste of time and a charade. Under this theory, we no longer have a constitutional system consisting of three co-equal branches of government, we have a monarchy.

Well That's Okay Then....

Tom Gilroy points out one phony problem:
And the way to stop it is impeachment.

STOP right now, all you supporters of inertia that instantly cry, 'but that means Cheney will be president!' and consider these three facts;

1) Cheney already is president.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I've Never Kippled....

Fortunately, Roy has:
Goldstein, bless him, is channeling Kipling: It's Dubya this, and Dubya that, and "Dubya, you're on drugs!"/ But it's "Mr. Bush will save us" when Al Qaeda sprays th' bugs!

A Splash In The Potomac

The Supreme Court plays sultana over the detainees.
Ce sont des sacs pesants, d’où partent des sanglots.
On verrait, en sondant la mer qui les promène,
Se mouvoir dans leurs flancs comme une forme humaine...
La lune était sereine et jouait sur les flots.
--Victor Hugo, "Clair de lune"

Monday, March 27, 2006

No False Modesty Here

We welcome some new visitors and citers to recent posts. Wick Allison, in D Magazine's FrontBurner picked up on "Dallas Is Drowning -- Help!!" in this note:
If a perennial loser named Gene Kelly beats out Barbara Radnofsky for the chance to run against Kay Bailey Hutchison, all down-ticket Democratic candidates will suffer in November, according to this analysis. The fact that the argument is made by someone who calls herself the "Bride of Acheron" only adds to its piquancy. [Insert joke about Democratic wing-nuts here.]
I am reminded of a bit in a very old satire (whose author I don't recall) about the second Constitutional Convention, when all the far right-wingers gathered to work their will, and H.L. Hunt made a pass at Ayn Rand, "who blushingly rabbit-punched him to the floor." (Such tales of course have their modern analogues.) Thanks for helping spread the word, Wick.

Meanwhile, two distaffers previously unknown to me have cited that Confirm Delete box I got from the People's Republic. I'll have to steal more there. Thanks and welcome to the sidebar to Zen Zoo (a "liberal lesbian living in NE Ohio") and to Karen Page of Peripetia, both of whom spotted the credit to me by the already-permalinked Blue Gal. Liberté, Égalité, Sororité.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Green With Envy I Didn't Think Of This First

Dan Tynan does Mr. Dodgson at Chickenhawky:
'Twas Cheney and the Slimy Rove
Didst Rice and Rumsfeld in the shade
Convince the mimsy Bush to go
And to Iraq invade

Beware the Chickenhawks, my dear
They'll start new wars ad infinitum --
As long as someone else will fight 'em --
To keep us all in fear
Go smile at it all.

Escape From Sub Dakota

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

"To me, it is now a question of sovereignty," she said to me last week. "I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."
(Spotted by Tennessee Guerilla Women.)

Being A Good Neighbor

Lots of refugees from Katrina are here in Texas. With their own primaries coming up, the Secretary of State there says
"If you are a registered voter of Louisiana who has been displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Rita, you are eligible to vote in your home parish if you have not registered to vote in another parish or state."
If you know some of those who are still here, point them to the info on this post at BlondeSense.

Movies Shouldn't Fear Their Reviewers; Reviewers Should Fear Their Movies

Since the new fashion on the right seems to be writing critiques of films without bothering to see them, I thought I'd join in by commenting only on the "graphic novel" version of V For Vendetta.

First, the art is so murky that it not only fails to contribute to the book, but actually confuses the reader about what is happening in several places. You can see some great unexploited possibiities for a movie there, though, where clear photography and good color could have great impact. (Strangely, I've seen several reviewers saying the movie reminds them of the Phantom of the Opera, but not the first thing I saw: Zorro.)

Second, the writing is not up to Moore's best work in Watchmen or From Hell, though it is just as dark and gloomy. He still has lots of his brilliant connections, such as the whole V is prisoner Roman numeral V, the start of Beethoven's Fifth being the Morse code for V, the tie-ins with then-current anarchist graffiti, and so on. One minor flaw is the title. This is not a vendetta (by the family of the victim), but simple revenge by the victim himself. V For Vengeance would have worked just as well and been accurate. Worth reading, and probably makes a better movie than book.

That said, there is a real moral problem here, one seen in more than one anti-establishment work of fiction. V makes the heroine believe she has been captured and imprisoned by the tyrannical state, at least psychologically torturing her with an inquisition. That's okay, though, because that causes her to break through her old mental barriers against killing the fascists. Hogwash.

Torture is torture, and it cannot be justified no matter what mental blocks anyone is suffering from. This role-playing brainwashing is no more tolerable than involuntary shock therapy. As for (NOTE: Warning -- spoiler ahead!!) using that as a tool to convert someone into another anti-government activist, that is neither acceptable or needed. If you want to see how it should be done, read Mike Resnick's wonderful novel Santiago.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


(Stolen from the People's Republic of Seabrook, among other places.)

How To Vote At Convention

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. --Revelation 3:15-16.
At this year's State Democratic Convention in June, my choice for State Chair is ____________. Fill in the name of the candidate who does most to make sure Barbara Ann Radnofsky defeats Gene Kelly in the Runoff for U.S. Senator. (No, I have no idea, yet, which one that will be.)

Nothing is more important to the party and all of its other candidates than a Radnofsky victory in this race. I've already said why I think that, in Dallas Is Drowning -- Help!!.

I will vote on the same basis for other state party officers, for SDEC, for DNC, for Convention officials, and for committee memberships. I will vote the same way at the Senatorial District Conventions, and would vote the same way at County Conventions in less urban areas. I urge all other Democrats concerned about winning local races this fall to take the same pledge.

If anyone wants our votes for any party leadership position, then they need to show some leadership in this, the single greatest threat to our success this fall. No, the party may not take any "official" stand in the contest, but individual party officers can and should make their choice clear.

Not to fight against ignorance and apathy, not to do everything possible to prevent the voters from making the same mistake they made nominating Do-Nothing Kelly in 2000, would be a gross abdication of responsibility that should disqualify a person from ever holding any office again. Neutrality now is surrender to dismal defeat in November.

This is a question of moral courage. Display some, find some, or get out of the way.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Dallas Is Drowning -- Help!!

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, to nominate a do-nothing candidate for Senator once may be regarded as a misfortune; to renominate him again looks like carelessness.

The Democratic candidates for Judge and other county-wide offices in Dallas County may all be doomed this fall. It won't be their own fault, but that won't save them. Their fate is now in the hands of voters in Democratic Runoff on April 11. If the wrong person wins that election, then no Democrat is likely to win county-wide in Dallas.

The reason is that the very first office people will see on the ballot in November is not President, or Governor, but United States Senator. Pundits assume incumbent Kay Hutchison will pick up lots of independent voters because by contrast with other Republicans her style seems more "moderate". (Her voting record does not, however.). If so, other Democratic candidates still can win some of those swing voters back.

The problem for those lower on the ballot is if the Democratic candidate actually loses a lot of Democratic base votes, who either crossover in the first race listed, or just refuse to vote a straight party ticket, because they won't support that Democrat for Senator. Could this happen? Yes, it did happen six years ago -- with a candidate who is running again in this year's runoff.

Gene Kelly is a perennial candidate, who files for something almost every two years in the Democratic Primary. In years with no opposition he has actually won the nomination for offices like the Supreme Court. He never won in the general election because he never campaigned. Not at all. Not one bit. He simply relied on the familiarity of his name, because of people vaguely remembering the late dancer and actor. In 2000 he tried for even higher office by filing for U.S. Senator. His capacity for delusion was shown by his comment to virtually the only reporter who managed to actually get to talk to him. Kelly said Al Gore needed him on the ballot to help Gore win.

Unfortunately, the state party that year had adopted a strategy of not making a serious race against incumbent Senator Hutchison, so as not to stir her up to a massive campaign effort. Several unfunded unknowns entered. Kelly's false name ID put him in the runoff with a former one-term State Representative named Charles Gandy. Gandy did the best he could, campaigning and winning endorsements from everyone who looked at the race. But with no money, and no other statewide runoffs to draw voters out, Gandy failed.

That fall, Kelly refused to campaign, as usual. When the votes were counted it turned out that he had not helped Gore win. Running in the home state of both Bush and Cheney, Gore still got over four hundred thousand more votes than Kelly, while 130,000 people skipped the Senate race altogether, and the Libertarian and Green Senate candidates each got big jumps from protest voters shunning Kelly. The other two statewide Democratic candidates, both for the state Court of Criminal Appeals, got half a million more votes than Kelly did.

This had a terrible effect in local races. In Dallas County, the only Democratic candidate for Judge, Mary Ann Huey, lost by just 0.74%, while actually winning at the polls on election day by 23,000 votes. The Democratic candidate for Sheriff (an office the party went on to win just four years later) was just behind, again winning at the polls on election day by 5,000 votes. The difference was the drop-off in straight party voting because of Gene Kelly.

Democrats have been gaining ground in Dallas County. Encouraged by changing demographics, a win in 2002, and several in 2004, there are forty-seven local Democrats running county-wide this year. All of them will suffer a serious loss of the straight ticket voters that are vital to down-ballot races if Gene Kelly is once again the Democratic nominee for Senator. The effect is likely to be even worse this time than in 2000, because Kelly's name would be the very first one voters would see on the ballot. Instead of electing several more Judges and other local Democrats, the growth of the party would be set back by years.

Fortunately, this time Kelly does have a serious and credible opponent in the Runoff, who actually does have some money to spend. Barbara Ann Radnofsky has been campaigning for months, and has already earned the endorsements of every paper, organization, Democratic club, elected official, party officer, and Democratic web log which has endorsed in this race. I have not found a single exception anywhere. She almost beat him (and a third candidate, who advocated making Mexico the 51st state) without a runoff, but underestimated the memory of the state's Democrats about Kelly's disaster in 2000. She will make a very good candidate against Hutchison, and will not cause hundreds of thousands of Democrats to desert the ticket and leave those candidates for Judge and other offices hanging in the wind.

"What are you prepared to do?" --Sean Connery's dying words in The Untouchables

If you want those many fine down-ballot people to have a real chance to win this year (not just in Dallas County, but across the rest of the state as well), you need to do all you can to remind Democrats about Kelly's Crash Landing in 2000. You need to make sure Democrats do go back to vote in the Runoff, and vote for Barbara Ann Radnofsky. Endorsements don't vote; people do -- if they are reminded to.

Since Kelly got most of his unknowing support from rural counties where she had not campaigned, it is especially vital to spread the word in any of those areas. If you know any good Democrats in those places, email, call, write, and plead with them to go vote for her, and to drag as many others as they can to do the same. Turnout will likely be much smaller and a few votes may make all the difference, between a serious statewide campaign with a lot of local victories, or a disaster the people will be suffering from for a long time to come.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Putting In The Fix?

SDEC member Ken Molberg reports at DallasBlog:
San Marcos attorney Charles Soechting will step down as Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party ...

Plans currently call for Soechting’s replacement to be selected by a majority vote of the SDEC at its April 22 meeting in Austin. That replacement will serve until June, when the state Democratic Convention will elect a chair at its Fort Worth convclave.
Why now, instead of waiting for the Convention? Could it be because he (i.e., the real powers behind him) see this as the best way to preclude the election of announced candidate Glen Maxey? Could this possibly be homophobia by the Texas "appease the rural bigots at all costs" types? Potential delegates want to know....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

US Is For Usurped Symbol

Wasserman breaks our hearts at The Boston Globe:

The Lone Star Steal

It wasn't just Laredo that had suspiciously late returns in Tuesday's Texas primaries. Ever watchful of the "in counting there is strength" people with their electronic Tweed Machines, the Brad Blog has posted three items with a large collection of links about strange doings last week. Go see E-Voting Woes: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet..., and E-Voting System Adds 100,000+ Votes in One Texas County During Tuesday's Primary Election!, and scroll down for more in 'Daily Voting News' For March 09, 2006. The virus spreads slowly. After all, Rome wasn't bilked in a day.

One From The Vaults

Just as one more excuse to mention the handiwork of Bill Napoli, I see that kundalini kat has spotted Sloth Dakota's Abortion Application Form.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Day Late And 49% Short

Yesterday was a day to recover from the primary election Tuesday (and the late returns that night -- especially the suspiciously late ones from Laredo, but that's another story), and to celebrate victory: This blog went three for three in local races.

Following our excellent advice, the Democrats nominated Jack Borden for State Representative (see A Whitened Résumé In A Pink Car Nation), Mike Dupree for Constable (see Gay -- It's The New Black!), and Sally Montgomery for Judge (see The Last Grasp Of Good Old Boys). Of course the statewide voters foolishly put Gene Kelly in a runoff for U.S. Senator again, just like they did in 2000 when he lost dismally and helped drag down other Democrats in close races. Let us hope this time they wise up and reject him on Tuesday, April 11 in favor of Barbara Radnofsky.

Drafting (and sending out) my anti-Kelly poem took up most of the evening after recovering from all the celebrating. Thus I missed completely another important date: Yesterday was also Blog Against Sexism Day (which I spotted at wonderland or not). To that end, you should read an article at The Independent: This is your life (if you are a woman). This includes incredible figures like "1% of the titled land in the world is owned by women". (Hence the title of this post; and if you adjust for the female majority of the world population, it is even more than just 49% short of equal.)

It is easy to become depressed or angry over such stats. Let me instead encourage everyone with a website to make one small gesture of retaliation against the overly-testosteroned theocrats of the state I now suggest we call Sub Dakota. A site named Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels is proposing a little "google-bombing" with the name of the Republican state senator there who said he thought an acceptable exception to his abortion ban would be
"a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."
Henceforth his name should be linked to a site defining it as "To brutalize and rape, sodomize as bad as you can possibly make it, a young, religious virgin woman who was saving herself for marriage." So whenever possible, be sure to mention (with the following handy link) Senator Bill Napoli.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mr. Nobody Runs Again, 2006

I know a stealthy candidate,
Who throws us off the track.
He makes good people split their vote --
And some do not come back.
Since no one's ever seen his face
They simply stare at you
When asked, "For Senator, please vote:
Gene Kelly." --"Mister WHO?"

He does not answer questionnaires
Or give out interviews.
He does no mailings, runs no ads,
And shuns the TV crews.
Debates will have an empty chair,
So no one there will see
A reason they should ever vote
Gene Kelly. --"Who is HE?"

His absence dampens rally fires
And start the crowds off cold.
Since none of us have seen his feet
They could be clay or gold.
He may be short or very tall;
He may be thin or fat;
But he's first upon our ticket --
Gene Kelly. --"Who is THAT?"

He's done this to us once before,
Just riding on his name,
And if we all forget that flop,
This time will be the same.
When we go walking door to door
And plead with folks, "Give Dems a try",
They'll ask "Who's yours for Senator?"
"Gene Kelly." --"Good lord, WHY?"

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I Spoke Too Soon....

A day after I mentioned (in Dallas Democratic Soap Opera, Continued) how a Republican candidate for judge a couple of decades ago appealed to unreconstructed racists by circulating a picture of his black opponent, the media report that they are still at it over there:
The Republican candidates include former prosecutor and misdemeanor judge Dan Wyde; former district judge, prosecutor and defense attorney Vic Cunningham; and Toby Shook, a DA's office supervisor.

...Cunningham and Shook said that Wyde offended minorities at forums by waving a blowup of his black Democratic opponent, defense attorney Craig Watkins. "It was obvious race baiting," Cunningham said. "Obviously, the tactics offended some people and he quit doing it after that," Shook said.
"Ils n'ont rien appris, ni rien oublié."

Capturing The Theocratic Swing Voter

Shakespeare's Sister spotted this blast from the past:
Merrill Keiser, Jr., is a trucker by trade ... His goal is a seat in the US Senate, but first he has to make it through the primary that will determine which Ohio Democrat will be the November ballot. ...

He tells News 11 homosexuality should be a felony, punishable by death.
She also points out a handy voter's guide for Texas Republican primary voters today by one of Perry's opponents for Governor, Larry Kilgore, who favors
* Execution for crime of murder including abortion
* Execution for crime of adultery
* Execution for crime of homosexual acts
* 1-40 lashes for crime of maliciousness, like graffiti, porn, strip clubs
* Eliminate TX budget for government indoctrination of children. (public education)
* Illegal immigrants should receive a minimum punishment of five lashes, $3,000 fine & deportation
Could it be a plot to make Governor Goodhair look like a moderate?

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Unmindful Is Father To The Child

Digby is quoted by firedoglake:
I just realized that those nuts in South Dakota might be having an unanticipated effect. ... I said "I hope you're ready to be daddies, boys. Last time abortion was illegal they didn't have DNA testing" and they all looked stunned.

Dallas Democratic Soap Opera, Conclusion

"It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared."
--Sherlock Holmes, "His Last Bow"
Part 3. Statistics: The Last Grasp Of Good Old Boys

County Court at Law # 3 (and some other races) -- Once Texas was a one-party state. Only Democrats ever won elections. The conservatives all voted in the one-party primary, and kept poor whites and almost all black and brown folk from voting by devices like a poll tax. Then the Civil Rights revolution happened. Suddenly *shudder* liberals began winning some Democratic primaries. A Democratic President from Texas ended the old regime with new laws and programs. The racists, the corporatists, and the fearful fled to the Republicans. They began working with turncoat Democrats to elect Republicans whenever liberals did win the Democratic primary. This began to grow like a snowball. When Reagan threw open the doors to the theocrats, the reactionary effort peaked. By 1999 frightened Texans had replaced every single statewide elected official with Republicans. In the big cities, nouveau suburban voters marched to the tunes spun by their reactionary ministers and did the same outside of minority-packed districts. Dallas County reelected its last countywide Republican in 1992. It was a one-party state again, run by the same kinds of people as before. Only the label had changed.

It wasn't enough. When power is used just to exploit people, it has to keep growing and showing momentum, or it collapses like a house of cards. The reason for the national Republican insistence on voting machines which are hackable and have no printed receipts, the reason for the intensity of the hatred they direct at anyone who questions the slightest part of their program (see the right-wing's attacks this week on their own Bill Buckley now that he has said Iraq can't be won), the reason for the unprecedented and gross midterm gerrymandering in Texas and other states, is that Delay, Rove, and their co-looters know they must never give up a single inch. If anyone points out that the Emperor is not wearing a glove, someone will get up the courage to question his entire wardrobe.

Part of the way these political monopolies work is by controlling the selection of judges. With every judge beholden to the Republican primary, the party got to insist on decisions which their big backers found agreeable. Sometimes this was to help a favored company, and sometimes it was to help some old friend. When there is no real challenge beyond the one-party primary, the judges who go along get along -- and serve a long time on the bench, until they collect their pensions. The network of abuse grows, from a slight nudge to the scale of justice, to an open fist on it, until real objective law is only a dream. The good old boys (and they are mostly boys, even with a few token women and minorities) are in total control, and even brag about it at their country clubs.

The crack in the wall these corporate enablers erected was their own exclusivity. The tokens were not enough to hide the truth. Black voters almost universally, and Hispanic voters by a huge margin, could smell the patronizing attitude and know they were not really welcome with the Republicans, unless they were willing to turn on their brothers and be trustees in the economic lockup. Unfortunately for the white good old boys, their birth rate was declining with prosperity, while the minorities were still increasing their numbers at a higher rate. This began catching up to the immigrant-bashing hate-mongers in California a decade ago. Now the numbers are catching up in Dallas County as well, as the frightened racists flee to outlying counties, thus accelerating the demographic demise of the Republican machine. In 2004 Democrats elected a Sheriff and some Judges, putting the writing on the wall.

Some of the old clique are still trying to hang on, by running Republicans in the Democratic primary. You've all seen the pictures of George Bush embracing a certain Democratic Congressman from south Texas who supports his whole program (likewise a Democratic Senator from Connecticut, but he's another state's problem). They notably used such a stalking horse to beat the President's most scathing Congressional critic in her own Democratic primary in Georgia, by getting Republicans to cross over there. (It didn't last -- Cynthia McKinney's back in the House again now, and still unbowed -- but it worked once.) They would love to work the same game in Dallas County, to stretch out their dying grasp on power by donning donkey's clothing over their dulling claws.

The most notable target of the vengeful Republicans dreaming of political Parthian shots is the first judge to break their monopoly, four years ago. Foolishly, they shot themselves in the foot in their own mouths in that case. In the late nineties their monopoly was rolling right along, but then someone started getting greedy. ("Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power....") It wasn't enough to get most of the rulings their way, they wanted judges to be totally under their thumb. When a few differed just a little from the desired outcomes, the party ran a serious campaign against them in the primary. They clobbered the designated sacrificial lambs with their army of little old ladies in tennis shoes and on phone banks. The others slunk away to private practice, but they underestimated one of those they had allowed on the bench as a token. They were to pay for it later.

According to later testimony, a party leader called the husband of one Republican judge and urged her to rule one way. Outraged, she refused. They ganged up on her and threw her out in their primary. Two years later, she switched parties, ran as a Democrat, and with help from a lot of Republicans (especially women) angry over the party's bullying of her, she became the first person to be elected countywide as a Democrat in ten years. That was the first crack in the wall. Once that momentum falters, once that sense that victory by the machine is inevitable fails, then people are no longer afraid of the naked Emperor. So it was: two years later the Democrats elected several people. That first person to put a break in the dam was Judge Sally Montgomery. She is the one person vengeful Republicans would most like to see beaten this year, when she runs for reelection.

They have a tool to use, if they want to crossover vote this year (but they may not get a lot of support for that, since they have a fierce battle for District Attorney on their own side). Judge Montgomery was challenged in the primary by a man who had voted in Republican primaries, but never on the Democratic side. He had the gall or cluelessness to claim -- falsely -- there was no contested judicial primary on the Democratic side in 2004, when he still voted in the GOP primary, and went even further to denounce Judge Montgomery for being an ex-Republican. This goes beyond mere chutzpah. It turned out he has a personal antipathy to her, for an incident in her courtroom where he claimed (to no result) an opposing attorney grabbed him. So he has run across the county, calling the kettle black from deep in a mine shaft of his own.

One of his big claims was that other lawyers don't think she is a good judge. That is denied by her own defenders (including former Democratic Chair Ken Molberg, a signer of a fact-filled letter at this page). Strangely enough, when the Dallas Bar Association did their poll this year in contested primaries, with attorneys able to vote for the best contender of either party, she was the only Democratic candidate to win a plurality, against two Republicans and her "Democratic" opponent (who finished in an embarrassing last place, beaten by her six to one). You can read the results at this page. Yes, those mostly Republican lawyers may still vote for one of their own candidates this fall -- but they like Judge Montgomery's opponent even less. That probably doesn't bother him, since his attitude seems to be that defeating her is more important to him than becoming a judge himself (since there were several other unopposed Republicans he could have run against).

This is not the only race where Republicans have decided to switch sides while they can; at least two more with GOP voting histories are running this year against longtime Democrats. We have no evidence (yet) that this is an organized effort by the other party -- these may just be the first rats to flee down the ropes to the dock as the rotten ship sinks. Not having all their voting records in front of me (I am taking the word of others who did the research), I shall not point specific fingers at those candidates whose Democratic credentials are curiously new compared to their opponents. I will say that you won't go wrong on that score if you follow the local endorsements of the Dallas County Young Democrats, which can be found at their website. Those are:
State House District 107: Andy Smith

195th Criminal District Court: Heath Harris

District Attorney: Larry Jarrett

County Court at Law #3: Judge Sally Montgomery

County Criminal Court #6: Alan Barr

County Court of Criminal Appeals #2: Jeff Rosenfield

County Clerk: Greg Allbright

County Commissioner, District 4: Scott Chase

Constable, Precinct 5 : Constable Mike Dupree

Dallas Democratic Soap Opera, Continued

Let me explain -- No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
--Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
Part 2. Damned Lies: Gay -- It's The New Black!

Constable Precinct 5 -- Amidst the gleaming skyscrapers with jets passing overhead it is easy to forget that Dallas is part of the old South. People still living today were here when open Klansmen ran the county government. The power of the reactionary racists only began to crumble with the end of the poll tax, single-member districts, and the Voting Rights Act in the late 1960's. More than a decade later a candidate for judge was still winning his primary by circulating a flyer showing his opponent's black face. Of course, by then, that racist effort was in the Republican party. But as Kristofferson sang, "Everybody's got to have somebody to look down on." The forces of bigotry have only changed their target, not their method. If the charge of "n-word lover" is no longer socially acceptable, they have found a new bugaboo to scare the timid with: homosexuality. Hence campaigns against gay marriage, gay adoption, or even against gay candidates as such.

A few years ago the Dallas County Commissioners were forced, by lawsuits under the Voting Rights Act that Delay & Co., Inc., are trying to kill, to redraw districts for Justice of the Peace and Constable so that minorities could win. This precinct was designed to be heavily Hispanic. Unfortunately, Hispanics in Dallas County have a very low percentage of registration or voting. When one Aurelio Castillo finally won the office, he turned out to be a debit to his constituency -- so much so that one new Hispanic JP refused to let his office serve her orders, since he was accused by many of being incompetent or worse. Next time out, awaiting possible trial, he drew several opponents in the Democratic primary in this very un-Republican district.

An early front-runner was a former deputy named Mike Dupree. Seeking to bump him out of the expected runoff, a less well known opponent went over to the dark side. Vile campaign literature, much like the old racist garbage, appeared attacking Dupree because he was gay -- and reminding folk that gay sex was still -- horrors! -- illegal in Texas. (This was before the U.S. Supreme Court finally struck down that absurd law.) Unfortunately for the old demagogic methods, the worst of the bigots had defected to the Republicans. Local Democratic elected and party officials denounced those filthy tactics, the backlash may have helped guarantee Dupree was one of the top two finishers, and he won the office.

The open manure spreader went away (and failed to win anywhere else either). Next time the hate-mongers were more covert. Nobody put their name on the gay-bashing stuff this time, and most of it was spoken, not printed. Dupree still won. You might think that would demonstrate that such tactics don't work in the Democratic primary in this millenium. Unfortunately, just about the time he was winning nomination to his second term, Dupree has a lover's spat with a man who decided to hurt him by calling the police and accusing the Constable of sexual assault on him, with lurid descriptions. The Dallas police hauled him in, but dropped the never-credible charges. The false accuser has since repented.

Four years later, the campaign of fear and prejudice is being tried again, with a personal twist. The first anonymous flyers were mailed out to Democratic voters even before the filing deadline, all quoting from the discredited incident report. Verbal denunciations of Dupree are being made again out in the precincts. The Constable is running for his third term, facing opposition from the brother-in-law of the embarrassment he had first defeated. It is a family feud writ large. Their standard-bearer in their campaign of revenge against their old enemy denies having anything to do with hate literature, but he is the only other one in the race. Qui bono?

You can read part of this in an article in the Dallas Observer, but it should be taken with a large grain of salt. They seriously underestimate the level of bigotry being fomented out there. After all, this is just some silly fight over in that poor brown part of town, so nobody they know would do anything nasty like that. The only thing needed for the triumph of evil....

Friday, March 03, 2006

Dallas Democratic Soap Opera, Part One

Those who miss the old TV soap "Dallas" can console themselves by watching the most remarkable substitute: the 2006 Democratic Party Primary in Dallas County, Texas. Sex, money, power, revenge -- it's all there. The entwined subplots include one candidate revealed as a former prostitute, a family who may get their revenge on an old enemy because of a jilted lover's tantrum, and an obsessive electoral stalk as the most visible element of a dying grasp to keep power. Let's sum up the scandal in three parts: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.

1. Lies: A Whitened Résumé In A Pink Car Nation

State House District 108 -- Everyone who endorsed in this contest went with a salesman ("recognized as one of the top recruiters and sellers with Mary Kay and one of only 3 men to ever earn the use of the highly coveted Pink Cadillac") named Tom Malin. That included the Dallas News, before they found proof of rumors that he had been a male prostitute. Their stories are here and here. (Yes, they may insist on a free registration to read them.)

When this came out, the board of the Stonewall Democrats (the LGBT group) promptly withdrew their endorsement (read about it here), an action confirmed at a general membership meeting the next week, and so did the News (read their sour grapes here). Forgotten in all the furor is the fact that Democrats still have another candidate in the primary that they can nominate for the legislature instead if they choose, long-time party activist and former State Senate candidate Jack Borden.

Amazingly enough, when the News asked a former Dallas Democratic Chair about Malin, she told them "He's got more honesty and energy than his Democratic opponent and [Republican incumbent] Dan Branch," thus demonstrating the same tone-deafness that caused the palace revolt of Precinct Chairs when she endorsed a Republican judicial nominee. In fact, what most upset the Stonewall Democrats was that, according to their President, Malin had lied to them about his background when asked.

Malin is now following the example of a Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker -- saying God has forgiven him, so voters should too. His website now thanks voters for "unconditional love", objects to "judgment", and claims "Today I am the man whom God intended me to be." To paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide, this must be some new and strange form of divine plan that I am unfamiliar with.

As one person wrote in the News, "it's worth pondering whether or not sending a former prostitute to Austin would raise or lower the status of the Lege." And at least one hooker was sucessful in politics before. In California, former San Francisco madam Sally Stanford became a restaurant owner and ultimately the Mayor of Sausalito. Of course, she never denied her past. Dallas Republicans have been gleefully promising to hang Malin around the neck of all the other Democratic candidates this fall, if he wins the primary.

The Bush administration burned their fingers over a dishonest "escort" just last year. Web surfers discovered that the phony "reporter" the White House was using to ask helpful leading questions at press conferences was secretly, under another name, an active gay hooker. This embarrassment led to his departure in disgrace, and even inspired a proposed opera at a political satire site, complete with a guest appearance from a certain candidate for Governor of Texas; smile at a synopsis (scroll way down the page) at La Triviata, Or, Why Did JimJeff Really Resign?.

The politicians who seek to deploy such human tools should remember another incident from history. At the height of the French Revolution, a celebration was staged at Orléans during New Year's week of 1794:
"La belle Rosalie, a young prostitute who worked the rue Soufflet, had been costumed as a goddess, with a pike in one hand and a Revolutionary red cap on her head, so that she might be paraded through town on a tremendous chariot bedecked with tricolor flags and pulled by twelve white horses led by six young men in togas. All the town's citizenry had followed, wearing Roman attire. At one point, the float had to squeeze under a low portal and the goddess was heard to shout, "Hey, you bastards! Hey, buggers! Stop, you fuckers, I'm falling off!" before she hopped down into the crowd so as to clamber back up on the other side." --Ken Alder, The Measure Of All Things
The moral is: whores may be politically useful, but you do have to watch carefully what they say.

Next: Part 2 -- Damned Lies

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From An Immaterial World

SAN FRANCISCO - City supervisors passed a resolution asking their Democratic congressional delegation to pursue the impeachment of President Bush for mishandling the war in Iraq and cutting civil liberties.

"I think the case is clear, and I think it's appropriate for us to weigh in," said Supervisor Chris Daly, who sponsored the measure.

The Board of Supervisors voted 7-3 Tuesday night in favor of the resolution, which also calls for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.

...Mayor Gavin Newsom took the latest vote in stride. "It's probably going to shatter the status quo in this country when it passes," Newsom joked. "I imagine, immediately, Congress will probably convene into session and begin impeachment proceedings." ...

The House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who represents much of San Francisco, repeated Tuesday what she has told her constituents: "Win the election. Then you can change the policy of our country."