Tuesday, January 31, 2006

He survived Iraq only to be shot by trigger-happy local police

Elio Carrion, a senior airman with the U.S. Air Force, just got back from a six month tour of Iraq without a scratch.

He was pulled over on Sunday night in Chino, CA and was shot four times for obeying an order to "get up."

Following the strong tradition of accountability amongst rogue police officers, the deputy who shot Carrion is taking a paid vacation.

Do As We Say, Not As We Smoke


After being the toast of the global anti-smoking movement, Spanish PM Jose Zapatero finds himself getting burnt.

While denying Spaniards the right to smoke at the workplace (outside), Zapatero must address charges that he and a Catalan official spent the entire autonomy negotiations chain-smoking Ducados in the PM's office.

Papa Newt and the Al Qaeda News Network

A nice piece from a former Reagan official and WSJ opinion editor regarding the inexplicable desire of both Republicans and Democrats to invade Iran.

From Counterpunch:

Fox is aggressively agitating for war with Iran. On shows such as Hannity and Combs, guest after guest--Newt Gingrich, Ollie North, various retired generals, pundits, and even Democratic politicians--agitate for attacking Iran.

For example, on January 26th and 27th Liberal Democrat Bob Beckel said on Fox that the US must "absolutely" attack Iran if for no other reason than "for the sake of Israel." Democrat Bill Richardson affirmed that "we need to renew and re-strengthen our commitment to Israel." Newt Gingrich said that it is so urgent to attack Iran that it must happen within the next few months. According to Gingrich, Iran not only cannot be trusted with nuclear technology, but also Iranians "cannot be trusted with their oil."

On January 27 Democratic strategist Pat Cadell expressed mystification as to how strongly the polls surged, literally overnight, in support for attacking Iran. One wonders if Americans ever think of the consequences of the rash actions that they say they favor. . .

Compared to attacking Iran, attacking Iraq was a small if reckless risk. Nevertheless, the unexpected consequences of the US invasion of Iraq have prevented the Bush administration from achieving its goals.

Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda must be marveling at the rank stupidity of the American people. Maybe Fox "News" only pretends to be the Ministry of War Propaganda for the Bush administration and is really in the employ of al Qaeda.

Your Obligatory SOTU Drinking Game

If any of you are actually going to watch the SOTU tonight, the least you could do is get piss-drunk with your friends and throw things at the TV. In honor of that fine tradition, here are the "buzzwords" and their appropriate drinking amounts.

Every time you hear these words, you must drink (or fill another line out on your Canadian citizenship application):

Level One Boozing Terms

* Terror = 1 drink
* Terrorism = 1 drink
* War = 1 drink
* Jobs = 1 drink
* al Qaeda = 2 drinks
* Evil = 2 drinks
* War = 2 drinks
* authority/constitutional = 2 drinks

Level Two Boozing Terms

* Sept. 11 = 3 drinks
* Surveillance = 3 drinks
* Iran = 3 drinks
* "make the tax cuts permanent" = 3 drinks
* Social Security = 3 drinks
* alternative fuels = 3 drinks

* "Nook-u-lar" = 4 drinks
* "Terrorist surveillance program" = 4 drinks
* "al Qaeda monitoring program" = 4 drinks
* "whatever it takes to protect the American people" = 4 drinks

Level Three Boozing Terms (aka Kill Your Beer)

* "The state of the union is strong" = kill
* "our economy is strong/on track/growing" = kill
* "civil liberties" = kill
* "lessen our dependence on foreign oil" = kill
* "our newest Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito (cut to shot of Alito in box)" = kill your current beer and the next one

(please feel free to comment with your own suggestions as I'm sure I've missed some good ones)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Talking Points: NSA Domestic Spying

The Democrats are losing the NSA domestic spying issue. Why? Because they are ignorant about the program, the law, the technology, the entire agency, and the history of Bush's program.

Here are some Talking Points that crystallize the issue:

*Phrases to continue using: "Domestic spying operation," "illegal wiretapping," "Snooping on Americans" -- keep using the word ILLEGAL (put the onus on THEM to prove it's not)

*Phrases to avoid like the plague: "Terrorist surveillance program"

1) Using the NSA to spy on any communications in which one of the parties is an American citizen is illegal without a judicial warrant from the secret court that was formed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). Note the term "foreign surveillance" in the name of the act versus "domestic surveillance".

2) Just because Bush and his lawyers say it's legal doesn't make it so. Even president's break the law (gasp!). Take this gem from one Richard Nixon in response to questions about his "Huston Plan" which supposedly authorized similar wiretapping provisions:

"Well, when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."

3) There is something known as "intent" when referring to legislation. Bush may believe he was given the authority to run amok over the Constitution and our federal privacy laws in FISA, but Congress had no intention of giving the president that power.

In fact, Congress actually tried to file legislation (written by REPUBLICAN senator Mike DeWine) in 2002 that would have specifically given Bush the authority he now claims he has to spy on American citizens. Why would his own Justice Department oppose such a bill and EVEN REFER TO THE BILL AS 'UNCONSTITUTIONAL.'???

4) By definition, the NSA domestic spying program works by listening to EVERY PHONE CALL COMING IN AND OUT OF THE UNITED STATES. It then "listens" for key words such as "al Qaeda" or "jihad" and them sorts those calls into another pile where those are analyzed for possible terrorist links.

So... that means that millions of phone calls every day are listened to by the NSA. To argue, pathetically as Bush has, that this program is only "listening" to al Qaeda and its supporters is patently false. The program wouldn't work if that's all it's doing.

**If you need more information or would like to be educated about this whole issue, please read James Bamford's "Body of Secrets" or "Puzzle Palace."

Similar Leaders

I find it interesting the similarities in both Iran's president and our own president. Like in the U.S. President Ahmadinejad is the subject of jokes and comedic bits within his own country. Both were not expected to win their nation's elections, which is still being debated in some circles weather he actually won or not. I am just waiting for Ahmadinejad to start wearing a Persian equivalent of a cowboy hat and start digging holes with his trusty dog Al-Barney-lamabad
From the NY Times:
Since he took office as Iran's president nearly six months ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been the subject of many jokes sent via text messages on cellphones across Iran. He has been spoofed on television and radio, here and abroad, as a bumpkin and a bigot for declaring the Holocaust a "myth" and causing international outrage over Iran's nuclear program.

One joke has the president combing his hair in a mirror and saying, "O.K., male lice to the left, female lice to the right," ridiculing him as a religious extremist who wants to separate the sexes in public places.
Those dynamics have compelled even people who oppose him (sounds like the Democrats after the September 11th attacks)to give him room to maneuver.
While sprinkling like-minded people into positions of power across the country(much like Bush's Supreme Court and federal court nominees) , Mr. Ahmadinejad and his allies have demonstrated that they are undeterred by the complaints of the establishment, whether liberal or conservative. (Much like the Bush administration when anyone from either party disagrees with their policies)

They have instead taken their appeal directly to the poor and middle-class masses who are generally disgusted with a system widely viewed as corrupt and uncaring.
He has adopted the phrase "world oppressor," (He says 'world oppressor' Bush says 'terrorist')in place of Great Satan, and his speeches are laced with religious references, including an emphasis on one of the central principles of the Shiite sect of Islam: an appeal for justice.

Friday, January 27, 2006


A blog to recommend, news on HD 48, and a crazy old Austinite running for Congress

So check out The Texas Whip, which has been keeping close track of the special election for HD 48 in west Travis County.

They note that an ethics complaint has been filed against Bentzin. If I had to guess it won't be the last.

Way to go Andy Brown for doing the right thing:

Brown gives Howard campaign money
By Jason Embry Monday, January 23, 2006, 10:38 AM

Andy Brown, who had been planning to run in the Democratic primary for the House District 48 seat in the House, took a formal step today to throw his support behind fellow Democrat Donna Howard for the

Brown said he would give Howard $10,000 from his campaign account to help her in an upcoming runoff election against Republican Ben Bentzin. Howard and Bentzin are vying to see who will finish the year left on the term of former Rep. Todd Baxter, a Republican who resigned in November. Brown could not compete to finish Baxter’s term because he has not lived in the western Travis County district for a year.

Brown said he’s “not planning on running in the primary,” regardless of whether Howard wins the runoff and captures the seat.

Also give Texas Whip credit for alerting us this crazy old guy running for Congress in Austin.

Smith has very little love loss for Delay stating

"I think (DeLay's) the biggest fraud that left Texas in years, and I think the district attorney Ronnie Earle's going to put him in jail before he's through," Smith said. "I think jail's too good for him. I think they ought to castrate the son of a . . . "


"Look, I've been president of the Board of Realtors; is that a good recommendation? And I've been a Kiwanian for many years, so I'm not as radical as you might think."

Patrick Rose takes yet another step towards the Dark Side

As Quorum Report tells, the manufacturers of Texas have a new friend in the lege, which is great because they had been sorely under-represented previously.

Of course, what do you expect from a Democrat who tries to advance his career by gay-bashing?

If he's like this at 26 years old, what kind of jackass is he gonna be at 30?

January 26, 2006 5:44 PM
Copyright January 26, 2006 by Harvey Kronberg, http://www.quorumreport.com/, All rights are reserved

Already 36 charter members

Ways and Means Chairman Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) and Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) sent a letter to colleagues a few days ago announcing the formation of a new House caucus focusing on manufacturing in Texas.

Rose says the idea was inspired at a recent briefing he gave to the Texas Alliance of Manufacturers Associations. The membership of the alliance is wide ranging from formal regional associations to loose groups of like-minded businesses. After the briefing, one of the folks asked Rose why there was no manufacturing caucus in the House.

Rose says he got to thinking about it and it was a question he couldn't answer. After all, there are all types of caucuses currently in the House, even including one concerned with tourism. He shared his thoughts with Keffer, himself a manufacturer, and found an enthusiastic ally in proposing the idea to his colleagues.

Rose describes manufacturing as an essential component in the Texas economy and cites Dell, AMD, Hewlett Packard and Samsung at one end as major employers and small highway beam manufacturers in his district at the other end.

He said manufacturing is a very broad, diverse category which includes all regions, races, ethnicities and political persuasions. Issues ranging from taxes to last session's asbestos and worker comp fights could all benefit from having this caucus Rose said.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Katie Couric SUCKS and not in the "good way"

Ah, yet an another example of the "liberal media" sticking it to the Democratic party. It would be nice if these " journalists" went after the Bush administration and/or GOP with the same sort of zeal and determination.


"Excuse me Mr. President, um, with all due respect where the FUCK are those Iraqi WMDs?"

"If I may follow that with, how the FUCK did a gay male escort gain access into the White House press corps without any credentials?"

"Finally, what is our FUCKING exit strategy for Iraq?"

After her episode this morning it is no wonder the same news organization that brought us "memo-gate" is considering hiring her as the evening news anchor

Ben Bentzin, a spitting image of #10


Hopefuls prepare for runoff
'I'm Vince Young, and it's halftime,' Bentzin said.
The Daily Texan

Democrat Donna Howard and Republican Ben Bentzin, both candidates for Todd Baxter's vacated Texas House District 48 seat, began revamping their campaign efforts Thursday in preparation for a head-to-head runoff.All of the candidates in Tuesday's special election failed to win a majority of votes, resulting in the pending showdown between Howard and Bentzin.


Bentzin noted the low voter turnout, which was about 14 percent, and said that a higher turnout would be in his favor. He said that his campaign plans to promote the importance of this election in order to increase voter turnout."I'm Vince Young, and it's halftime," the former Dell executive said.

Candidate goes long, invokes Vince Young
For voters, will comment be seen as sign of confidence or torn hammy?
Austin American Statesman
Thursday, January 26, 2006

The trailing candidate in this year's first race for the Texas House proclaims: "I'm Vince Young, and it's halftime."

Ben Bentzin's identification with the celebrated Longhorns' quarterback, printed in The Daily Texan, could help or hurt.


The con: Who is Bentzin zooming? Young's champion Longhorns led at halftime of the memorable Rose Bowl. For Bentzin's Young-ism to make sense, voters will have to embrace the last time Texas trailed at intermission before roaring back (against Oklahoma State in late October).

Howard's showing in the Republican-leaning district was flat-out stunning, especially impressive since another Dem tallied 10 percent, possibly denying Howard a knockout.

If this bothers you, give to Donna Howard.

The US Senate finally got something right

Congressional Record, Thursday, January 26, 2006


Congratulating University of Texas Longhorns Football: Senate agreed to S. Res. 352, commending the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns football team for winning the 2005 Bowl Championship Series national championship.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Warriors and Wusses

This was a great piece in the L.A. Times:

"Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there — and who might one day want to send them somewhere else. Trust me, a guy who thought 50.7% was a mandate isn't going to pick up on the subtleties of a parade for just service in an unjust war. He's going to be looking for funnel cake.
Besides, those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops. They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of "Laguna Beach."
The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day. Though there should be a ribbon for that."

Ken Mehlman is a Monkey-Faced, Mouth Breathing Fascist

The latest email from Kenny "Ladykiller" Mehlman:

After September 11th, we heard so often that our government failed to connect the dots. So, the President signed the Patriot Act, which had been passed overwhelmingly by Congress. He took appropriate action to connect the dots. He reformed the government bureaucracy, enabling it to fight a different kind of war.

Now, the Patriot Act is up for renewal. How do Democrats respond? They play politics, brag about "killing" the Patriot Act, and accuse the President of breaking the law and violating civil rights. These are not the actions of a party that can be trusted to safeguard our national security.

"Safeguard our national security" = Rob all Americans of their civil liberties

He then urges the goose-steppers to "write a letter to the editor" supporting Our Glorious Leader. Of course, as a brownshirt-in-training you'll need help thinking for yourself so the RNC has been nice enough to tell you what to think. Some of your "options" include:

Victory Plan in Iraq

President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists. We are making tremendous progress towards this objective. Earlier this year, Iraqi forces led the fight in clearing out terrorists during the crucial battle of Tal Afar, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and every day, Iraqis are taking more control of the situation on the ground. Withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats in Washington propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough. President Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix.

Safety & Security

President Bush is committed to keeping the nation strong and secure through strengthening our military, deploying a missile defense, strengthening the NATO alliance and supporting military families and veterans. The President is committed to promoting an independent and democratic Iraq to ensure further stability in the Middle East and the world on the whole.

Jobs and Economy

America's growing economy requires a flexible, highly skilled workforce, and the President is committed to providing American workers with the training that they need to succeed. President Bush has put forth an ambitious agenda to ensure that America's economy remains the most prosperous in the world and believes we must ensure every adult can access the training necessary to close the skills gap in America.

How To Disappear Online

The White House is watching you.

Know your rights. And know how to "anonymize" yourself.

Reporters Without Borders's Handbook For Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents is a great resource for anyone reading this blog or with their own. Or download some software like this.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A modern day "Gay Place"

But, of course, not supposed to be as good. But it is about Austin, and politics, and by a former Observer writer, so worth a mention:

Waterloo : A Novel (Hardcover)
by Karen Olsson

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers WeeklyIn Olsson's intricate, ambitious debut novel, the titular setting, an undisguised Austin, Tex., figures just as vividly as her sympathetic slacker protagonist, Nick Lasseter. A news and politics reporter, Nick, at 32 years old, suffers a faded sense of purpose. He's hung up on his ex-girlfriend, Liza, who just got engaged to her now wealthy childhood friend, Miles. The Sunset, Nick's favorite dive bar, is closing down, another sad sign of the times since the tech boom altered the city's landscape. Jaded by political rhetoric, Nick is tired of his beat, and his editor at the Waterloo Weekly warns him he's underperforming. But Nick is assigned to profile Beverly Flintic, a newly elected Republican state legislator, whose story the narrative follows alongside Nick's. Beverly, a middle-aged married woman, is having an affair with beefcake gubernatorial candidate Mark Hardaway. She's also embroiled in an urban planning scheme, a boondoggle Nick's alcoholic uncle Bones tips him off to. This story, along with a growing romantic interest in fellow reporter Andrea Carter, might be the key to restarting Nick's engine. With clean, brisk prose, Olsson brings a specific, authentic sense of character, time and place to this story of Texas politicians and muckrakers.

Operation Filipino Freedom

So I took Molly's advice to "look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines" and wow:

Mark Twain in Iraq?
The Famous Writer Championed a Proud Tradition of American Anti-imperialism

by Mark Engler

It was autumn, electoral campaigns were in full swing, and U.S. intervention abroad represented a crucial issue separating the political candidates. Amidst the excitement, one of America's foremost literary personalities made a homecoming that was both celebrated and politically charged.

The writer was Mark Twain and the year was 1900. The nation was engaged in an intense debate over its military action in the Philippines, a country that it had recently bought for $20 million dollars at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. Twain, who had been living abroad for nearly ten years, brought a prescient analysis of the situation.

Initially, he had supported the war. "I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered," Twain explained, echoing the White House's rationale for action. "We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat... start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world."

"But I have thought some more, since then," he said. Upon reading the 1898 Treaty of Paris and questioning the official motives for war, Twain concluded: "We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem."

"And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land."


And when apologists for the White House, like General Frederick Funston, argued that anti-imperialist critics should be "hanged for treason," Twain retorted that he was "quite willing to be called a traitor -- quite willing to wear that honorable badge -- and not willing to be affronted with the title of Patriot and classed with the Funstons when so help me God I have not done anything to deserve it."

Palestinian politics

Now admittedly I know very little, if anything, about Israeli and Palestinian party politics. Although everytime I read something about the Hamas political party the members are always referred to as a "radical Islamic movement" . This is in the "liberal" New York Times too. If it is "radical" why did 13 of the 15 local counsel seats go with the Hamas party in last month's elections, including the mayor of the city Nablus? For a novice in Palestinian politics it would appear to me this is a quite popular party among the voters.

What I do find funny is the fact that the United States paid, uh, err, I mean spent $2 million on "dozens of quick projects" strenghening the opposing party Fatah hand. This is the same Fatah whose reputation, according to the NYT's, is known for corruption.

From the NYTimes:

Fatah, the mainstay of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, is in trouble, even here in Nablus, one of the West Bank's toughest and largest cities, and a longtime stronghold for the group. Fatah is struggling to beat back the radical Islamic movement Hamas - which won an astonishing 13 of Nablus's 15 local council seats a month ago, and elected an efficient, worldly yet devout mayor, Adli Yaish.
Then again Hamas' history looks to be a little sketchy too.
Although in light of today's events I wonder if some of that U.S. $2 million for "quick projects" got into the hands of some "black ops"? Israel does seem to be fond of this policy
United Press International 06/18/02
Richard Sale:
According to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.According to documents United Press International obtained from the Israel-based Institute for Counter Terrorism, Hamas evolved from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in Israel and Palestine were "weak and dormant" until after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab enemies.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Molly and Marvelle Agree. . .

... Hillary Clinton sucks.

I know Mark Warner wouldn't be much better but at least he's not trying to out-neocon the Bushites on Iran to bolster his national security "rep" (not yet at least).

From Ivins's (unusually fiery) column:

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief. . .

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls?

Here's a prize example by someone named Barry Casselman, who writes, "There is an invisible civil war in the Democratic Party, and it is between those who are attempting to satisfy the defeatist and pacifist left base of the party and those who are attempting to prepare the party for successful elections in 2006 and 2008."

This supposedly pits Howard Dean, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, emboldened by "a string of bad new from the Middle East ... into calling for premature retreat from Iraq," versus those pragmatic folk like Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emmanuel, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman.

Oh come on, people -- get a grip on the concept of leadership. Look at this war -- from the lies that led us into it, to the lies they continue to dump on us daily.

You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine you have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom DeLay is going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't got enough sense to OWN the issue of political reform, I give up on them entirely.

Go Molly!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Israeli-DoD Spy Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

And the judge says he gave him the "low-end" of the sentence for his actions because he "appeared to want to help the United States, not hurt it."

So listen up future treasonists! If you're ever caught peddling sensitive documents to foreign powers.... it was to help US not THEM!

I doubt you'll see one front page story about this MASSIVE scandal involving one of the top PACs in the United States.

And, if I have to connect the dots for you... this has to do with classified documents being smuggled to the Israelis regarding Iran.

The more you know about Bentzin...

...the less you like him.

Consider, in 2002, he got 58% of the vote in HD 48 in his unsuccessful state senate bid.

In 2006, he got under 38%, a drop of 20 points.

Take a hint.

Someone In Touch With Mississippi

"We're going to cut meals to $20 a meal. Where are they going to eat? McDonald's?" -- Sen. Trent Lott (CNN, 1/18/06).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bentzin goes down

When you run the most shameful campaign Austin had seen in decades in 2002,
get beat, but come back to run in a special election for House District 48,
a special election especially rigged by the Governor, the R establishment, and the outgoing state rep specifically for you to run in and at an advantage,
when the Ds can't even settle on a candidate or get their shit together to run any opposition 'til the last minute,
when you can't even get Rich Oppel to endorse you because of your dirty ties with John Colyandro and TRMPAC,
when you're too pussy to debate (probably because Gonzalo -- far from the best debater -- kicked your ass last time you went before a public forum),
when you outspend your opponents using your personal wealth,
and take a last minute infusion of cash from the likes of Jim Leininger and Bob Perry,
but you still can't break 40% in a district that is 53-54% Republican,
You suck.

The election results from the special in Western Travis County are cause for celebration:

Ben Bentzin

Ben Easton

Donna Howard

Kathy Rider

Bentzin goes down. Howard within 75 votes of winning outright.

Kathy Rider did the right thing by withdrawing from the March primary. Andy Brown -- never a promising candidate -- should do the same.

And Bentzin should take this for what it is -- a message from the good people of Travis County that we don't like you, that we want you to go back to Arizona and fulfill your college dream of acting in musicals (no shit, this is what the guy wanted to do at age 20). Take your Dell money and fuck off.

Seriously, withdraw from the runoff. Save the taxpayers and the people you presume to want to represent the expense and hassle of an election with a foregone conclusion.

Baxter fucked his constituents (as did you by helping arrange this rigged special election), now let those constituents have a real state rep for this special session. Let Donna take the seat now.

Run in the general if you want your hat handed to you again, but back down.

Bentzin quoted in Statesman saying,

"In the special election, I was running against a field of several other candidates," Bentzin said. "In the runoff election, now we have a clear choice between two candidates, and that's what we'll be communicating to voters."

What? 60% plus voted Democrat. Clearly.

Baxter would never back out though. It'd be a classy move and that's totally out of character for him.

So we have a runoff coming up, and the fuckers on the right will play dirty. Travis County Dems did a great job at the end of this race, and deserve a hearty congratulations, as do Donna and her campaign (you can contribute here).

Enjoy this, enjoy the recognition that Austin is still Austin, and then let's get ready to pop Bentzin in the mouth again when the dumbass gets off the mat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The $2 Trillion Bomb

I've been hearing that the Iraq war has cost U.S. taxpayers $200 billion. Curiously, I've been hearing that figure for 2 1/2 years now, ever since I was working on the Hill to oppose the resolution for force in Iraq.

Finally, a US media outlet is brave enough to address the REAL COST of the Iraq war. And the figure is (drumroll)... $2 trillion. What?? Yeah, that's right... $2 TRILLION (with a T).

If you're one of those IDIOTS (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) who actually thought the Iraqi oil profits would pay for our little incursion, please... go kill yourself. This little financial analysis wasn't done by those "liberals" at the LA Times either. One of the co-authors is the former president of the World Bank.

From the LA Times:

Last week, at the annual meeting of the American Economic Assn., we presented a new estimate for the likely cost of the war in Iraq. We suggested that the final bill will be much higher than previously reckoned — between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, depending primarily on how much longer our troops stay. Putting that into perspective, the highest-grossing movie of all time, "Titanic," earned $1.8 billion worldwide — about half the cost the U.S. incurs in Iraq every week.

. . . Spending up to $2 trillion should make us ask some questions. First, these figures are far higher than what the administration predicted before the war. At that time, White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey was effectively fired for suggesting that the war might cost up to $200 billion, rather than the $60 billion claimed by the president's budget office. Why were the costs so vastly underestimated? Elsewhere in the government, it is standard practice to engage in an elaborate cost-benefit analysis for major projects. The war in Iraq was a war of choice, an immense "project," and yet it now appears that there was virtually no analysis of the likely costs of a prolonged occupation.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Trouble Brewing at DC' s Cheesiest Lounge

As far as I'm concerned, the quicker this place burned to the ground, the better. Nevertheless, this Washington City Paper story highlights the absurdity of nightlife restrictions that plague D.C. (much like Austin, Texas).

From the story:

In 2005, upscale D.C. lounge Chloe was cited for several potential liquor-law violations, including illegal use of a DJ, and—worse—providing a place for people to dance.

Promoters of the weekly party called Hush at Chloe in Adams Morgan like to emphasize the event’s groove factor. “Our Deejays are second to none,” states the organizers’ Web site. “Move yourself to euphoria while listening to the music you LOVE to hear.”

Patrons who turn out for Chloe’s gay-themed soiree each Thursday, though, get a very different message from club management. Directly beneath the cagelike elevated platform where resident DJ Kadem Carson often works the turntables, employees have posted a warning to potential head-bobbers and foot-tappers: “NO DANCING.”

To sum up: The promoters talk about euphoric movement. The club has a turntablist, not to mention a designated DJ booth. He plays stuff like funky Mary J. Blige and Madonna remixes. And clubgoers have to sit still? If the apparent boogie ban strikes you as a bit baffling, you’re not alone. . .

Actually, it’s supposed to be a restaurant, a distinction that neighbors in this town take seriously. Nearly two years ago, fearing an all-too-typical restaurant-to-nightclub transmogrification, activists strong-armed Chloe owner Alireza “Haji” Hajaligholi into signing a “voluntary agreement” outlining the anti-prancing policy. Of course, if you go by that document, Chloe isn’t supposed to have a DJ, either.

Yet as the Chloe situation illustrates, it’s hard to regulate hip movement. Witnesses have reported multiple dancer and DJ sightings since the two-level venue on 18th Street NW opened last February. . .

But perhaps most damning is the evidence offered by city regulators. On April 23, an undercover investigation by the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) uncovered some illicit vinyl-spinning and a whole lot of shaking going on at Hajaligholi’s place. Though “[n]o specific dance floor was observed,” according to an agency report, ABRA secret agent Kevin Lee did spy “a DJ playing music and approximately 120 patrons drinking, dancing, and watching each other which is a violation.”

Ricky Gervais Podcasts

Fans of the BBC's original hit "The Office" will like this series of great 30-minute podcasts from Ricky Gervais & Co. available free on the Guardian's website.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A little too perfect?

From Jack Straw re: Iran:

"The Iranians themselves must recognise that by this impetuous action and by other foreign policy decisions made by President Ahmadinejad, they have achieved what I didn't think they would achieve a year or so ago, which is almost universal criticism by the international community," he said.

That's what I've been saying. Ahmadinejad is just too perfect for Bush and Blair.

He's a plant by Western interests designed to pave the way for an invasion of Iran.

Here we go (again)!

Oh Snap! Ain't No Party Like a GOP Party Cuz...

...a GOP party don't stop.

Stock up on the non-alcoholic beverages, polish your crucifixes, cover any inappropriate art, and let yourself go as Our Glorious Leader delivers the GOOD NEWS!

Ken "Funboy" Mehlman is urging the troops to invite George Bush into your home for the State of the Union. Those not inviting George Bush into their homes will have him forced into their homes regardless and will be reported for reeducation and for "interrogation."

From Funboy's Party Guide:

If you didn't participate in those House Parties and don't really know what a house party is, let me explain. A House Party is a great way to carry the President's message into your community, while having fun with friends old and new.

Then comes the best part:

You've stood strong with President Bush as he has expanded freedom around the world and made America more prosperous.

Please review today's other posts to get the joke.

Interesting tidbit: Apparently GOP house parties can get jiggy despite the presence of any African-Americans but by instead being chock-full of painfully-Stepford white people. Watch the slide show here and see.

So bask in the divine glow of our Leader but don't get too crazy. Seriously, don't get too crazy or they might "render" you to Egypt or Uzbekistan.

Ladykiller Ken Mehlman cuts a sticky
at Smith Point with a stage prop.

Uh-Oh Spaghetti-o's

A former NSA employee tells Nightline that the agency routinely broke the law (and violated the Constitution of the United States) and is currently spying on millions of American citizens.

Fascism is a slow boil.

The Big Easy gets screwed AGAIN

I love how Bush & Co and others of his ilk harp on "property rights" almost as much they harp on the need for more anti gay marriage legislation, or the need for permanent tax cuts for the rich. I guess that "property rights" only apply to the rich and white. It is almost like the administration is taking the New Orleans nickname, "The Big Easy" to heart in how they are screwing the people of New Orleans.

From Houston Chronicle:

"The proposal includes an equally controversial, federally funded forced buyout of homes in neighborhoods deemed unlivable."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

So much for the Lampson/BDA third-party strategy

Channel 13 pulls TV ad linking DeLay, lobbyist

WASHINGTON - A day before a television ad linking Rep. Tom DeLay to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was set to hit the airwaves in the Houston area, lawyers for his campaign told local stations Tuesday that the ad contained falsehoods and hinted that it could lead to court action.

At least one station, KTRK (Channel 13), quickly decided against broadcasting the commercial, which was scheduled to start today.

Oh, click here if you want to see the ad (that has each allegation attributed to a credible source).

Best Kinky Article So Far

From the Express-News:

Great quote: "I don't think Rick Perry is the devil. I think he's the devil's valet."

Interesting fact: Kinky is polling at 21 percent right now, Perry at 41. Jesse Ventura was no where near 21 percent at this point in his campaign.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Nick Lampson: Part II

As an extra feature regarding today’s earlier slam of Nick Lampson's campaign strategy, I am offering two bits of information:

1) The opinions on Political Asylum represent those of the posters and that’s it (so, in our case that would be BDA or me). In fact, unless we are expounding on Texas football, we often disagree on these posts.

2) I’m including some suggested talking points for Nick Lampson.

It’s clear what Nick Lampson and his handlers are thinking. Tom DeLay’s ethical problems are common knowledge and why get into the gutter with Tommy D when he’s in there all by himself right now. So, they must figure, we’ll focus on “the issues” and let the media (Houston Chronicle and surrounding weeklies and dailies) make short work of The Hammer.

It’s the Patrick Rose strategy retrofitted for a congressional race. The only thing is that Patrick Rose, despite all promises otherwise, did spend the last few days of the campaign almost exclusively mentioning Rick Green’s ethical troubles. I can only hope the Lampson folks do the same. Nevertheless, it’s not clear that a strategy employed in a dead-even split Texas House district will work on a congressional campaign with such a high-profile and (unfortunately) beloved incumbent.

Some points on the Patrick Rose strategy:

1) It’s total wishful thinking. The Houston Chronicle and surrounding papers have been slamming DeLay for years over his votes on pollution and mass transit. The reason it doesn’t work is that TX 22 likes Tom DeLay more than they care about those issues (or for that matter, any of the issues Nick Lampson addresses in his release). And Tom DeLay, hate him or really hate him, was the Majority Leader in Congress. Rick Green was just a dip.

2) The same people that blindly vote for Tom DeLay aren’t what we call “readers.” To just assume that they will be saturated with anti-DeLay messages in their daily lives of non-stop Rush Limbaugh blather and casual surfing of NewsMax is totally idiotic. If anything, their own internal news filters will lead them to read the very publications that are attempting to make DeLay look like a political martyr for the conservative revolution – reaffirming their connection to him and creating the desired "rallying" effect that DeLay's people are counting on.

3) The more you remind people that all DeLay is doing with his TX 22 seat is enriching himself and his cronies (possibly criminally) to the detriment of themselves, the better.

4) Bush polls 10 points better than DeLay in TX 22. So, DeLay would like nothing more than for Nick Lampson to "focus on the issues" that made Bush so popular in TX 22. A campaign spent talking about "wacky liberal Nick Lampson" and not spent discussing DeLay's scandals will not work.

5) And, for those of you expecting third-party groups like MoveOn.org to ride in like the cavalry can keep hoping. Only in Tom DeLay's wet dreams would MoveOn enter this race so that he could remind everyone that Lampson is supported by the communists at MoveOn.

Talking Points:

1) While I’d love nothing more than for this campaign to be about the pocketbook issues that affect every single person in TX 22, my opponent seems hell-bent on making himself and his years of political corruption the centerpiece of this campaign. I would be negligent to the people of TX 22 if I didn’t remind them what a waste their vote for Tom DeLay has been over the years.

2) Rather than coming to Congress simply to enrich myself and my buddies, I plan to enrich the people of TX 22 through cheaper prescription drugs, more access to health care, better and safer schools, and economic development at the local level.

3) It’s time we the people of TX 22 decide whether we want our elected voice in Congress to spend the next two valuable years defending his own indefensible schemes or if they would rather their representative spend those two years undistracted by scandal, fighting for the people of TX 22 and for the issues that matter to our daily lives.

Nick Lampson's Horrible Campaign Strategy

You are a relative unknown Democrat in a heavily Republican district. The incumbent is the ringleader of the biggest bribery and corruption scandal in the history of Washington D.C. (and that is saying A LOT).

What is your strategy to knock him off his throne? Well, if you're Nick Lampson, you pledge not to even discuss your opponent's staggering ethical problem and instead focus on "issues."

From a Pasadena (TX) Citizen article included in the latest Lampson press release:

Lampson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for congress, brought up DeLay's name only in the context of policy differences -- keeping his speech focused on his core issues: fiscal spending, education and homeland security. Even during a Q&A session with reporters after his speech, Lampson downplayed the DeLay factor.

Here's a Tip: When the majority of your potential voter pool disagrees with you on the "issues" of abortion, tax cuts, fiscal discipline, affirmative action, the merits of George W. Bush, mass transit, and foreign policy -- you don't run a campaign on the fucking issues!!!!

Here's a damn "issue" Nick: Tom DeLay, the current congressman from District 22, is a thug politician who is solely responsible for the largest congressional corruption scandal in the history of the American Republic and may in fact be an indicted felon before next year is out.

(Extra tip at no added cost: When your opponent's campaign homepage is a letter apologizing for his potential felony money laundering indictment... the "issue" is fair game!!)

Just to recap: District 22, an overwhelmingly Republican district, has repeatedly voted for and vehemently defended Tom DeLay's awful positions on "fiscal spending, education, and homeland security." The only reason they would think to vote otherwise now is because Tom DeLay is a shady S.O.B. and they're embarassed by his repeated scandals -- NOT because 51 percent of the voting population has suddenly had a Democratic ephiphany in the last two years.

I hope there is some great internal polling that shows Nick has the luxury of wasting his time talking about health care instead of his felonious opponent.

AP punks Chris Bell

In a story about the TX governor's race, Race for Texas Governor Gets Wild, the AP pretty much forgot Chris Bell even exists.

First consider the photo and caption that went with the story:

The top contenders in the Texas Governor's race are from left: humorist Kinky Friedman running as an independent; state comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn also running as an independent and incumbent Rick Perry, a Republican. (AP Photo/file)

The story starts:

AUSTIN, Texas - Republicans fought for years to win control of Texas. Now they rule and are ripping one another in a ruthless race for governor.

The squabbling got so bad that Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn pulled out of the March GOP primary, opting to run as an independent. That means her attacks on Republican Gov. Rick Perry could last until the November election.

Humorist Kinky Friedman, declaring himself the "anti-politician," also wants on the ballot as an independent.

Bell doesn't even warrant a mention until the 10th paragraph. And then the article asserts that Friedman is the main beneficiary of Rs splitting between Perry and Strayhorn in the general and implies he has a better shot than Bell.

Strayhorn and Perry could split the Republican vote, and Friedman could end up being Perry's greatest threat, Polinard said.

"The anti-Perry (voter) might decide, 'What the hey, if it's good enough for Minnesota, it's good enough for us," Polinard said, referring to the 1998 surprise victory of former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura for governor of Minnesota.

Friedman's campaign manager, Dean Barkley, helped engineer Ventura's victory, and Ventura has showed up to support Friedman's candidacy.

Ventura and Friedman offer a similar style and approach to politics, said Larry Jacobs, a political scientist with the Humprhey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

In a final dis to Bell and the Dems, the story reminds us in closing:

In the last three governor elections, the winner of the GOP primary has gone on to become the state's chief executive.

Houstonians: Good judges of character

Lay, Skilling Seek New Enron Trial Venue, Citing Juror Pool Vitriol
Kristen Hays
The Associated Press

Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling say potential jurors' answers to questionnaires in their fraud and conspiracy case are so vitriolic the men can't get a fair trial in Houston.

Prospective jurors called Skilling a "high-class crook," who "would lie to his mother if it would further his cause." He "projects a high sleaze factor," he's a "thief," and a "cheater," according to a filing Wednesday in which his lead attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, asked again to move the trial to another city.

The filing noted some of the potential jurors called Lay "the biggest lying crook of all," a "career Enron leader who conveniently looked the other way as his lieutenants bent and broke laws in pursuit of profits and ever greater stock prices" and "did a lot of injustice to a lot of good people."

"These are not the hasty responses of random people who participated in a test survey. These are actual responses from actual prospective jurors in this case who took time to carefully and thoughtfully write out their answers," Petrocelli said in the filing.

Tee time is at noon

Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, 12 noon

Judiciary to hold hearings to examine the nomination of Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Does anyone think the Dems will use this effectively? Expect long, self-aggrandizing speeches. Especially in light of the Texas re-redistricting case, I hope they focus on Scalito's voting rights record. As NYT reported:

In his 1985 job application, Mr. Alito said that his interest in constitutional law was motivated by disagreement with some decisions of the Warren Court, among them those concerning reapportionment. The decisions, from the 1960's, required states to draw voting districts with equal populations. Some legal scholars at the time contended that the decisions did not have a basis in the Constitution.

Judge Bork, too, was critical of the decisions at his confirmation hearings. "There is nothing in our history that suggests 'one man one vote' is the only proper way of apportioning," he said.

In November, after the disclosure of the 1985 job application, the White House said that Judge Alito now believes that one person one vote is "bedrock principle."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ben Bentzin Supports Police Brutality

As expected, the Austin Police Association -- the Sinn Fein of the Austin Police -- has endorsed Austin-hater and dirty campaigner Ben "Austin Sucks" Bentzin in his pathetic bid to hold some form of elective office.

The APA has made a name for itself by helping cover up Mala Sangre, a decade-long investigation into rampant police corruption and possible drug-dealing by APD officers and higher ups. APA is also the reactionary public relations arm that defends any rogue APD officer from their often-abusive actions, regardless of the facts.

Unfortunately, every politician in Austin lines up to kiss big, fat Mike Sheffield's ring mistakenly believing that his support is a good thing.

From the Bentzin release (via the Quorum Report):

“Ben Bentzin will represent the law enforcement community with honor and distinction in the Capitol” said Mike Sheffield, President of the Austin Police Association. “We look forward to working with Ben on many of the important issues that face our members when he is the next State Representative for House District 48.”

I wish I could quit you!!

Thursday, January 05, 2006


"I can't even breathe."

-- Vindicated Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds after the greatest Rose Bowl performance of all time.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

outside the TX capitol now

THE Vince Young Video

Beautiful. That's all I can say.

Rose Bowl, baby!

It's time for the Rose Bowl
After a month of hype, the day of reckoning is finally at hand.

By Suzanne Halliburton

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Texas has had a month to relish the idea of playing Southern California in the Rose Bowl in its first Bowl Championship Series title game — 31 days to contemplate why it's been 36 years since the Longhorns last brought a national football championship home to Austin.

They've had a little more than four weeks to figure out a way to thwart the Trojans' offense, which is being hyped as the best that's ever toed a cleat on grass. They've heard that no team has won three consecutive national titles. They know that no team has featured two Heisman Trophy winners in one backfield.

The hype has been everywhere. Now, finally, the game is here.

You know it's getting bad...

...when even Bush is distancing himself from you. Bush deals daily with liars, scoundrels, tax cheats, war-profiteers, fraudsters, draft dodgers, felons, megalomaniacs, and treasonists.

But in no way, shape, or form will they associate themselves with one Jack Abramoff.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

UT rocks, SC sucks.

If you've been following ESPN's sycophantic coverage of USC, you know they've been comparing the Trojans to the best teams in college history.

In an aptly titled piece in Slate, Why USC is overrated, Jonathan Chait exposes the farce:

For instance, the ESPN crew discussed a hypothetical game between USC and the 1997 Michigan Wolverines. That Michigan team had a spotty offense, but its defense was phenomenal, allowing less than nine points a game. The Wolverines had probably the best pass defense in college history, with 23 interceptions and just five touchdown passes allowed. It had Charles Woodson, who bucked history by winning the Heisman Trophy as a defensive player, along with three other future NFL cornerbacks. They held what was then the highest-scoring team in the history of the Pac 10 to 16 points.

What did ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit predict as the final score? 34-17, Trojans. ESPN's Mark May? USC, 49-14. Will the reader please note that mediocre defenses like Arizona State and Notre Dame held USC well below 49 points this year?

My favorite, though, was the matchup with the 1991 Washington Huskies. That team outscored its opponents by a staggering average margin of 42-9. Herbstreit's conclusion? "There's no way that that defense could stop SC." May: "It wouldn't even be close."

For amusement, also see Horn Fans' coverage of USC vs the Greatest Armies in History.

On a serious comparison, ESPN's own bowl preview notes that in close games (7 points or less, since 2001), Texas does far better:

USC 6 - 7
TEX 10 - 2

And Chait adds:

Nor is it clear that USC is better than this year's Texas Longhorns. Both teams have fantastic offenses. (USC averages 50 points a game, Texas 51.) But Texas' defense is very good (allowing 14.6 points a game), while USC's is barely above average (allowing 21.3.)

Also, from a NYT article on Julius Whittier (now a trial lawyer!), the first Black player to play for UT, an interesting anecdote about LBJ's involvement in football recruitment:

It was Whittier's engaging personality that made him one of Royal's favorites and got him on Johnson's guest list. Johnson was crazy about Texas football and occasionally asked Royal to take players to his ranch. It was Johnson who suggested that Whittier continue his studies at the university's new school of public affairs. He earned a master's degree there, before he became a lawyer.

Whittier's success on and off the field -- he was a three-year letterman and a starter his junior and senior year -- paid immediate dividends for Texas. Roosevelt Leaks came here in 1971 and Earl Campbell in 1974, and they became all-American running backs. Soon, one of the set pieces for prospective players was Johnson's landing by helicopter on the lawn of his presidential library on campus to tell them why they should play for Texas.

Chronicle slams Rs on pollution votes

Five bids to control pollution kept at bay
Houston-area lawmakers voted to table legislation that was aimed at public safety

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

The majority of Houston-area lawmakers in the Texas House voted against legislation intended to protect the public from toxic air pollution, a Houston Chronicle analysis of 2005 voting records has found.

The five rejected amendments would have made the state's health screening levels for pollution more strict, required companies to continuously monitor emissions and set fines for the periodic releases known as "upsets" that plague fence-line neighborhoods.

Yet 20 of 34 representatives in the eight-county region, where toxic pollution problems have been well-documented, particularly along the Houston Ship Channel, voted to table these actions.

All 20 of the dissenters are Republicans, some of them representing industrial districts such as Pasadena, Baytown and Seabrook, where people and industry exist side by side.

Typically, a party-line vote on legislation to increase regulations on industry would not be surprising. However, legislators during this year's regular session were presented with increasing evidence that toxic pollution was a problem locally and that Houston residents were more concerned than ever about its impact on health.

Kudos to the Chronicle for reporting this straight up. Rs voted against pollution standards. Most papers would have buried the actual story with an effort to seek a false balance. Call a spade a spade. The truth is not always halfways between what the two parties say and the media has an obligation to search it out.

Several local lawmakers said they voted against the amendments solely on the legislation's merits, not because they were unconcerned about pollution or influenced by industry donations.

"We can always do better. We just want to do better fairly," said Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, whose district includes the massive ExxonMobil refinery. "I do believe we should have good quality air to breathe."

When you have to assert you support clean air, you don't. It's like when Bush says we don't torture.

In January, both the state and the Houston Chronicle released data showing several communities had levels of chemicals that could increase the risk of contracting cancer. The findings prompted community meetings and special Houston City Council hearings.

Cancer! Brings to mind the quote attributed to Pericles in 430 BC: "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."

Republicans=Cancer! (new bumper sticker)

Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, whose tabled amendment would have lowered the levels the state uses to screen pollution's health effects, agreed.

"I didn't need many more votes. I am a mainstream Republican member and a lot of mainstream Republicans follow me," Goodman said. "I get closer than anyone else, but I still don't win. Industry is the reason you don't win, the mindset of the members of the House against further regulation, and the misguided perception that if you vote for an amendment to clean up the air and water you are some sort of liberal activist."

Voting Republican (with few exceptions like Goodman) means giving industry free rein to do whatever the hell it wants.

Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, who chairs the House committee on Environmental Regulation and who raised the motion to table the amendments, said his "significant contributions" from the industry had nothing to do with it.

Yes, and we don't torture.

His votes, he said, are in line with his constituents, who view the risk posed by pollution very differently than residents of east Houston.

"In the Ship Channel, these are big corporate companies that have no benefit. The people that live by those plants have no connection to them and just live there, and they view" pollution as a nuisance, Bonnen said.

"The people (I represent) work in these plants and live here," he said. "We understand these things, and we don't think they are dangerous."

Bonnen, an insurance agent with a liberal arts degree who works for a bank, is not an environmental health expert, but he plays one in the Texas lege.

Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, said he has seen no proof of an increased risk of cancer from pollution.

"I have been around this all my life, I have been up to my waist in the levee which holds dredgings from out of the Ship Channel, and I don't have cancer yet," Talton said.

Brilliant logic, Talton. Talton, you might guess, lacks a background in simple statistics (sample size=1 is usually not so definitive), but is an attorney who has made a crusade out of banning adoptions by gay people.

Anyway, good reporting by the Chronicle, shameful votes by Houston legislators.

Carole [INSERT LAST NAME HERE] enters election Kinky-style.

Strayhorn to run for governor as independent

AUSTIN — Declaring that "it's time to shake Austin up," Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announced Monday she'll run for governor as an independent, abandoning the Republican primary for a direct shot at the state's top job in November.

Her decision, announced hours before the candidate-filing deadline, requires Strayhorn to earn a ballot spot by gathering more than 45,000 signatures from people who don't vote in the GOP or Democratic primaries and don't sign a petition for independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman.

Asked why she thinks she can win, Strayhorn said, "Tough times might just need one tough grandma to shake Austin up," a reference to her self-description.

Perry, she said, "has so politically fractured this state that the only way we're going to get anything done is to have independent leadership."

This is great, assuming she gets on the ballot, which, as referenced above, is no small feat. I think it will be easier for Kinky to get the signatures than for Strayhorn. She'll have to tell her supporters not to vote in their local Repub primaries, whereas Kinky supporters probably have less history of primary voting.

This is good news, because 1) it clearly hurts Perry, and 2) it indicates a moderate will continue to have a hard time in R statewide primaries in Texas, which hopefully indicates that if the Ds get our shit togther maybe we can knock one off.

I think this helps Kinky, by splitting the vote and making it more of a free for all. More of a circus. Kinky makes the best ringmaster, which increasingly is what the governor is: an essentially powerless showman wielding a wand surrounded by the wild beasts of state government that dance for the audience while shitting all over the floor and then leave town.

How does this affect Bell? You could argue that true independents looking for a responsible non-Perry choice go with Strayhorn now, which hurts Bell. She's a much better candidate who has won statewide. You could also argue that she splits the R vote and Bell runs away with the Ds. Or, I'm afraid most likely, he just gets lost in the shuffle.

Abramoff sings

So far 2006 is looking up. As NYT reports:

Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to three felony counts in Washington today as part of a settlement with federal prosecutors, ending an intense, months-long negotiation over whether the Republican lobbyist would testify against his former colleagues, people involved with the case said.

Mr. Abramoff, 46, is pleading guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case.

Who will he rat out?