Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Methodists Still Rallying to Stop Bush's Library

Thanks to Somervell County Salon for pointing us to the New York Times article regarding controversy at Southern Methodist University over plans to build Bush's library on the campus. Opponents of the project think it should be put to a vote.

The Rev. Andrew Weaver, a research psychologist in New York who said an online petition drive against the project had drawn 11,200 signatures, said about 35 percent of the delegates were “progressives” opposed to the plan. “We need to inform and recruit 16 percent of the moderate delegates to block the project,” Mr. Weaver said.

More so than the library, that pesky Freedom Institute is causing some indigestion. What could be controversial about a policy institute dedicated to "compassionate conservatism?" Well, everything, really, but apparently there are some procedural issues as well.

The nature of the policy institute stirs much of the debate. In outlining the project to prospective universities in 2005, two officers of the foundation, Marvin P. Bush, a brother of the president, and Donald J. Evans, said the institute would be answerable to the foundation, not the university. [emphasis added.]

You didn't think the unitary executive theory would end because of term limits, did you? That would be an oxymoron.

The Rev. Weaver's insistence on a vote is admirable, but it's not clear that the library can be stopped at this point.
But officials at Southern Methodist, which is owned by the [South Central Jurisdiction], say they already have the church’s approval, through the jurisdiction’s Mission Council and College of Bishops, to lease land to the George W. Bush Foundation and are close to an agreement to do so.
You were expecting a democratic process? Did you not learn anything from this administration?

Personally, I think the idea of Bush and his cronies coming home to roost makes perfect sense. It started with a little seed of corruption that just kept expanding until it took over the state of Texas, then the U.S. and finally the world. And then, starting with the Libby trial, it began to contract in on itself until it has finally turned into a big, black hole in the heart of Dallas. Just call it the big bang theory of Texas politics.

Another Presidential Signing Statement

When scholars discuss the steps that will be necessary to "unwind" a Bush presidency, one issue that is raised repeatedly is reassessing the use of the signing statement. John Dean describes this administration's use of the signing statement as an abuse of power comparable to Nixon's - or worse.

Gary Hart has an editorial in the Huffington Post expounding on the President's latest signing statement, issued upon passage of the Defense Authorization Bill.

Yesterday, President Bush signed the Defense Authorization Bill, including Section 1222 prohibiting permanent military bases in Iraq, with the now customary "signing statement" declaring that he has no intention of enforcing the law of the land, including this provision, though bound by oath and Constitution to do so.

Anyone paying attention has known for years that our plans for Iraq included permanent bases to facilitate a longterm occupation. We posted this in May of 2006.
We're not planning to stay in Iraq past the completion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We'll stand down as Iraqis stand up. There are no plans for permanent bases in Iraq. Yes, framing is really nothing more than the marketing of political ideas. In truth, we are mired in a military operation without clear objectives and no definable endpoint. Yes, we're going to hear a lot of noise about "troop drawdowns" this year, but they are merely window dressing designed to get the GOP through the 2006 elections without having to actually address the issue of withdrawal. By President Bush's own admission, finishing this business will fall to his predecessor.
Fast forward not quite two years later, and the only thing that has changed is the date. Clearly, the boy prez plans on riding the "surge" all the way to his last day in office.

To protect our access to Iraq's oil, Bush will do everything in his power to ensure that we not only complete those permanent bases, but that we are bound by our own treaty to occupy them. As Hart states:
To seal the deal, with the expectation of binding future presidential successors, Mr. Bush and Iraq president Nouri al-Maliki are in the process of negotiating a "status of forces agreement" that would commit the U.S. military to combat any internal or external factions the Iraqi government deemed a threat. This represents a one-directional security treaty cloaked in the form of an agreement not subject to Senate ratification. And it guarantees U.S. involvement in age-old Iraqi sectarian conflict for decades to come.

The key to the Democrats winning the oval office this fall is forcing the Republicans to have the debate, not about some nebulous "victory" which the administration has purposefully never defined, but about the costs of empire.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just When You Thought You Were Safe

Those counters tracking down the last days of the Bush presidency have taken on new meaning for those of us in the DFW area. After months of speculation mayor Tom Leppert seems be confirming the notion that Bush may be coming home to Dallas upon his retirement next year.

The same articles that keep hinting at a Dallas residency also mention that Bush wants to further his legacy by building the Freedom Institute alongside his library at SMU.

According to google, the Freedom Institute is a resource center for families dealing with drug and alcohol dependency.

Whoops, my bad! Wrong one. It's the Center for Democracy, Nationalism and Market Economy Studies. No, wait, that appears to be Indonesia.

Okay, how 'bout the one "dedicated to teaching Individuals, Families, and Small Business owners how to find true freedom?" Hmmm, something tells me Bush isn't going to dedicate his golden years to teaching time management.

Well that leaves an "urban think tank that focuses on public policy issues that affect the quality of life for African Americans in particular and other minorities in general." Yeah, who are we kidding? Okay, I'm back to the first one.

Apparently, the Freedom Institute is a secret society, like Skull and Bones, only instead of Geronimo's skull, they'll use Milton Friedman's. Karen Kwiatkowski has some further insight into this mysterious organization.

Whatever it is, I'm sure the concept is as original as the name. I'm looking forward to deep, insightful policy papers telling us why the middle class needs to shoulder more of the tax burden and finance an endless war, so that Bush's profiteering patrons can fund the shills who want to convince us they have the perfect solution to all the problems Bush's incompetency has laid upon our country.

Do you think they'll add us to their blog roll?

Friday, January 25, 2008

david beckham has "largest carbon footprint" ever

According to Carbon Trust, a UK-based environmental group, international soccer star David Beckham has accumulated "the largest carbon footprint in human history."

Apparently, Beckham traveled over 250,000 miles by plane last year alone. He also owns 15 cars, including SUVs and sports cars, and maintains several residences around the world. The group claims that Beckham is "responsible for 18 times more tons of carbon dioxide than the average person."

Beckham reportedly produced 163 tons of carbon dioxide, while the average Brit produced a mere 9.4 tons.

"He should use his celebrity status to make people aware of the damage that traveling can cause to the planet," a Carbon Trust spokesman told the Daily Star. "With all his money he should be using it at least to reduce his own footprint. He has more freedom of choice when it comes to methods of traveling. He could also choose greener cars."

Beckham, who has played professionally for England and Real Madrid, recently moved with his family to the U.S. to play midfield for L.A. Galaxy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

fox news host makes insensitive remarks about heath ledger

In case you somehow missed it, 28-year-old Australian actor Heath Ledger, best known for his groundbreaking role in the Oscar-winning drama Brokeback Mountain, died in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday.

After hearing the news, the classy-as-ever John Gibson of Fox News decided to mock Ledger's death on his broadcast.
Opening his radio show with funeral music yesterday, Fox News host John Gibson callously mocked the death of actor Heath Ledger, calling him a “weirdo” with a “serious drug problem.”

Playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, “I wish I knew how to quit you” from Ledger’s gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, Gibson disdainfully quipped, “Well, he found out how to quit you.” Laughing, Gibson then played another clip from Brokeback Mountain in which Ledger said, “We’re dead,” followed by his own, mocking “We’re dead” before playing the clip again.

Later on the show, Gibson speculated that perhaps the actor killed himself because he had "a serious position in the market" or that he had seen "the Clinton-Obama debate."

Think Progress has uncovered that in 2006, Gibson called Brokeback Mountain "a gay agenda movie."

On Morning Joe, a political talk show on MSNBC hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Gibson's comments were condemned and called "callous" and "totally out of line."

"So, if you make a movie, this is now -- it's not that if you are gay, then your death is a punch line. If you make a movie about being gay, that's a punch -- your death becomes a punch line. ... This is -- I don't know who syndicates this guy, but that is absolutely stunning," Scarborough said.

"I don't know how you stay on the air after doing something like that, quite frankly," Brzezinski added. "I don't know who would listen to you."

Scarborough was also outraged by the "incomprehensible" and "sick" attacks, because the cause of Ledger's death, which may have been drugs or alcohol, is something that many Americans themselves have been touched by.

Ledger was also a young father. His daughter Matilda was born in 2005.

Davis Wins Challenge in Appeals Court

Tarrant County native Wendy Davis is free to continue her run for Senate District 10 against incumbent Kim Brimer (R-Fort Worth.)

Matt Angle, of the Lone Star Project, issued a statement after the ruling:
Today, the Texas 2nd District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth rejected an effort by allies of State Senator Kim Brimer to remove former Fort Worth City Councilwoman, Wendy Davis as his Democratic opponent in November. For several weeks, Brimer has been engaged in a frantic scramble of administrative and legal maneuvers to avoid facing Davis and allowing Senate District 10 voters a choice next November.

The merits of the case clearly favor Wendy Davis who, in keeping with State Law, resigned her post on the Fort Worth City Council in order to seek the Senate District 10 seat (See Lone Star Project Report and copy of Democratic Party brief here). Ironically, however, Kim Brimer’s sneaky tactical maneuver whereby he sought to hide his personal involvement in the case by enlisting surrogates to file the complaint on his behalf, gave the Court an easy avenue to deny the claim. Brimer’s "hide and watch" strategy backfired when the Court threw out the case ruling that Brimer surrogates do not have standing and that only Brimer himself can make a legal challenge of this type.

Unfortunately, no one seems to think this will be the end of it. The FWST hints that the firefighters may appeal the ruling.

West and Clear reminds us why the firefighters might have a dog in this hunt.

Does that mean the firefighters won’t appeal? No. Does that mean that Brimer won’t jump in and file suit? No. However, if that happened, it would sort of undermine the position that these three “Democratic” firefighters were acting on behalf of fellow District 10 Democrats. Of course, the fact that the firefighters have already endorsed Brimer and the fact that the firefighters’ union paid Brimer’s consultant Bryan Eppstein $224,000 for his assistance in their collective bargaining campaign would seem to undermine the firefighters’ credibility anyway. Now, $224,000 isn’t exactly Kay Granger kinda money, but it ain’t chump change. Those firefighters must need to pass the boot around a bunch of times to raise that kind of money.

In the meantime, the Davis campaign can be thankful for weeks of free publicity. By contrast, Brimer looks almost desperate. We can't blame him. You'd be worried, too, if you were running against a candidate with Hollywood good looks and a degree from Harvard Law, an experienced public servant known for her honesty and "raw political courage."

Aman Betheja has a complete rundown of the testimony at the FWST's political blog, Politex.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

DFW Election Officials to Testify at Voter ID Hearing

The DFW area will be very well represented at Friday's hearing by the Texas House Elections Committee on the highly charged issue of voter ID and voter fraud.

The committee was previously chaired by Denton Rep. Mary Denny (R) before she stepped down in 2006. The current committee is chaired by Leo Berman (R-Tyler) and includes Rep. Kirk England of Grand Prairie, who recently changed party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) as well as Tom Craddick's favorite Democrat, Lon Burnam from Fort Worth.

Capitol Annex has the scheduled witness list, which includes the elections administrators from three counties in the DFW area:

Bruce Sherbet, Dallas County Elections Administrator
Steve Raborn, Tarrant County Elections Administrator
Don Alexander, Denton County Elections Administrator

Check out the rest of the witness list here. Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie and his Republican counterpart, Tina Benkiser, are also scheduled to testify.

UPDATE: You can livestream the testimony starting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 25th.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Denton County Democratic Club Chili Supper

Save the date! Save the date! Save the date!

If you're a Democrat in Denton County, you simply can't miss the Annual Chili Supper and Candidates Forum on the 26th of January.

Tickets are only $15 and include chili, cornbread and brownies, not to mention the company of hundreds of your fellow Democrats. This is also a critical fundraiser for a club that continues to play a vital role in maintaining a strong Democratic presence in this county.

Our local slate of candidates will be there. Let's show them our appreciation and support!

What: Annual Chili Supper
When: Saturday, January 26th from 6:00 pm. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Center for Visual Arts, 207 S. Bell, Denton 76201 (corner of East Hickory and Bell Ave.)

Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. For more info, contact Marsha Keffer at 940-387-9068.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jesus Carrillo Runs for State Rep in District 63

Ponder resident Jesus Carrillo has filed to run for state representative.

After originally exploring a candidacy for Texas Railroad Commissioner, Mr. Carrillo has filed to run for Texas State House District 63.

As railroad commissioner, I could only enforce the laws,” he said. “I couldn’t change the laws. I can better represent my community, their interests and let their voices be heard by running for state representative."

Carrillo's sense of civic duty was awakened when he served on the Ponder Planning and Zoning Commission. We at NTL have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Carrillo in person on several occasions. He expressed his belief that his jobs in aircraft maintenance and the oil and gas industry make him very suited for public office, because he shares the ambitions and concerns of the average family. Mr. Carrillo is deeply committed to reversing the elitism that has clouded the legislature for so many years.

From the DRC article:

.....Carrillo said some representatives have forgotten why they are in office, and they push their own agendas and opinions rather than trying to find solutions to problems. As a representative, he said he would set aside his own interests.

“It is all about the citizens that are affected,” he said.

District 63 represents Denton County, including Flower Mound, Highland Village and Trophy Club, Krugerville, Aubrey, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Corral City, Double Oak, Justin, Krum, Marshall Creek, Northlake, Pilot Point, Ponder and Sanger as well as parts of Lewisville, Argyle and Roanoke and a small sliver of Denton and Southlake.

District 63 is currently held by Republican Tan Parker. In 2006, Parker defeated Ann Lakusta for the primary, and then ran unopposed in the general election.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Texas Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Davis

Vince Leibowitz at Capital Annex is reporting that the court challenge filed by three firefighters against Wendy Davis' run for Senate District 10 has been denied by the Texas Supreme Court.

.....the Court denied the motion of some Fort Worth firefighters challenging former City Councilman Wendy Davis’ candidacy under resign-to-run laws, instead essentially dropping the ball back to the regional appellate court.

This is good news for Davis. But what's next? says the Supreme Court simply indicated that because there was time, the more appropriate venue was the local Court of Appeals. Latham said that Davis’ name will appear on the ballot for the March 4 primary.

Ken Leach announces for CD26

Listen to Mr. Leach announce his candidacy against Michael Burgess at a press conference earlier this month.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Texas Progressive Alliance Announces First Slate of TexRoots 2008 Endorsed Candidates

AUSTIN—The Texas Progressive Alliance today announced it first slate of endorsed candidates for the 2008 election cycle. The six candidates endorsed today will become the first TexRoots candidates to benefit from the Alliance’s endorsement and online fund-raising efforts for 2008.

“This is a slate of true progressive candidates,” said Texas Progressive Alliance Chairman Vince Leibowitz. The list of six candidates includes both incumbents and challengers in Democratic Primary races ranging from Texas House of Representatives to United States Senate.

“We believe that these men and women will best represent the interest of Texans and will take the lead on progressive issues,” Leibowitz continued.

The TPA’s first slate of 2008 TexRoots Candidates is as follows:
Rick Noriega, United States Senate. On March 4, Texas Democrats have a clear choice for their nominee for U.S. Senate: Rick Noriega. Noriega has the experience necessary to serve as a United States Senator and to take on Bush lap-dog U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the fall. Faced with three token primary opponents, only one of whom is even running what could be called a “legitimate campaign,” Noriega is the clear choice not only because he is right on important issues such as the war and CHIP, but because he is a true progressive who has a proven record of accomplishment for the people of Texas.

Joe Jaworski, State Senate, District 11. Joe Jaworski (D-Galveston), a former Galveston City Councilman, has taken a very strong stance on environmental issues which are especially important in Senate District 11 and statewide. Jaworski faces token primary opposition and will likely face State Sen. Mike Jackson (R-LaPorte) in the 2008 General Election. Jackson has one of the worst environmental records of any legislator in the entire Texas Legislature and has failed for several sessions to make any meaningful legislative headway on issues important to his constituents.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, State House, District 147. Coleman (D-Houston), is one of the leading progressives in the Texas House of Representatives, and has been at the forefront of important progressive issues including the Children’s Health Insurance Program, reproductive freedom, and gay rights. A member of the House Democratic Leadership, re-electing Coleman is key to ensuring that the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature has a strong, progressive voice. Coleman faces a primary opponent.

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, State House, District 148. Farrar (D-Houston), is another strong progressive voice in the Texas House. Farrar was a leading voice in the 80th Texas Legislature on issues including the HPV vaccine, stem cell research, and against Governor Rick Perry’s arrogant Homeland Security power-grab. Farrar is one of a handful of Democrats who voted against Craddick in 2005 and, as a result, was relegated to the Agriculture Committee for taking her stand. Farrar faces a former staffer from her office who is believed to be supported by anti-progressive forces in Austin. Farrar is a progressive leader and Texans across the state need her back in the Texas House in 2009.

State Rep. Paul Moreno, State House, District 77. Moreno (D-El Paso), is the Dean of the Texas House of Representatives and one of the House’s strongest voices on civil rights issues. Moreno, a seasoned veteran of many progressive struggles, faces an unknown opponent with no experience in government. Moreno deserves re-election, and Texas needs Moreno’s leadership on civil rights and progressive issues in the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature.

Armando Walle, State House, District 140. Walle (D-Houston), is seeking to unseat Rep. Kevin Bailey (D-Houston), who has been ineffective for his district on progressive issues. Unseating Bailey is a necessary step toward a new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Walle has worked for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Gene Green, and has strong ties to his district and, we believe, will be a better voice for District 140 than its existing representation.

Brian Thompson, State House, District 46. Thompson (D-Houston), faces State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) who has cast a number of votes which are against the interest of her district. A win in this district is yet another step toward electing a new Speaker of the Texas House in 2009. Thompson, an attorney, has strong ties to his district and will be a much needed progressive voice in a district which, for too long, has been governed by a member who consistently votes against the interests of her constituents.
“We strongly believe these candidates are the best men and women to shape the future of Texas,” said Charles Kuffner, Vice Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance. “These men and women are ready to fight for the interests of ordinary Texans in Washington, D.C., and in Austin,” Kuffner said.

“As progressive activists, we believe it is important to support those who will, when elected, work to further the progressive cause and fight the Republican machine tooth and nail to do what is best for the people of Texas and not the special interests,” Leibowitz noted. “We must continue to elect not only more, but better Democrats to office in Texas,” he concluded.

To view the 2008 TexRoots slate, or to make an online contribution, please visit

Texas Blog Roundup: January 14, 2007

It's Monday, and that means it is time for another Texas Progressive Alliance weekly blog round-up. This week's round-up was compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Muse found the potties at the Harris County D.A.’s office – right next to Chuck Rosenthal’s office – thereby making her qualified to be District Attorney (according to D.A. candidate Kelly Siegler). Muse 2012: Qualified and Potty Location Trained.

Hide the silver! Off the Kuff says Tom DeLay is back in town.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes that Kay 'Bye Bye' Bailey Hutchison is getting grief from the knuckle draggers in her own party for the recently passed fence amendment. Apparently, even a little bit of sanity must be stamped out by the Republican base.

Early Voting, Hal at Half Empty says, may just be something ALL Democrats need to consider this time, in order to avoid confusion at the polls when polling sites at schools are moved this coming March 4th.

The FairTax (Mike Huckabee's 30% national sales tax scheme), Texans for (Tort) Reform, and Houstonians for (Ir)Responsible Growth all have one billionaire in common: Leo Linbeck Jr. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs provides the 411 on his various conservative-populist activist fronts.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson points to an Inane AAS Editorial On AG's Health Care Gambit.

Harry Balczak at McBlogger found and interesting take on the candidates in the Presidential election.

Jaye at Winding Road notes that these are the times that try Democratic souls.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News wants Obama or Clinton to pay the $2,000 and and establish a precedent of auditing and hand-counting machine counted ballots. The complete series of the New Hampshire results and reasons it why may be a good idea to audit is here.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott is testing the waters for his 2010 run for Lt. Governor with his asinine child insurance program.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin reviews the History Of US Backed Dictators - Redux. A historical look at the US setting up and backing corrupt dictators to serve our agenda.

Stace at DosCentavos bids a fond farewell to the history-making candidacy of Bill`Richardson. His thoughts and feelings on supporting the first Latino presidential candidate.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston wonders why State Representative John Davis in HD129 was a no show in the local paper write up concerning the race. State Rep John Davis a no show in Clear Lake news.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Castle Hills Democrats

All you South County Dems, take heart. There is a new kid on the block in the world of Denton County political blogs. With a productivity that puts us to shame, Judith Ford, a precinct chair in 227, has launched Castle Hills Democrats.
Castle Hills lies northwest of Dallas between Plano and Carrollton in the Lewisville ISD, approximately three miles east of Interstate 35 East. It is generally bounded by State Highway 121 on the north, Hebron Parkway on the south and Josey Lane on the east and Old Denton Road on the west. It is approximately 8 minutes west of the Dallas North Tollway and Park Blvd.

Judith describes her blog as a mixture information pertinent to Castle Hills residents, plus Democratic commentary, news and viewpoint. Even if you're not from southeast county, bookmark it. There is a calendar of countywide Democratic events that you'll want to return to often.

Oh, and did I mention that there's a presidential poll?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cornyn's Ode to Carya

Take the quiz. Our state nut is

A) John Cornyn
B) the pecan

If you don't know the answer, read Cornyn's article here.

Cornyn must be considering a job with Texas Parks & Wildlife when he retires from the Senate next year. How else to explain his passion for Texas' flora and fauna?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tom Love at Denton County Press Conference

Tom Love, candidate for the Texas Congressional District 24, introduced himself to Denton Democrats with a heart-felt speech about the Democratic legacy.

Here are some excerpts:
"I'm a concerned parent and grandparent. My name is Tom Love. I'm announcing that I'm running for U.S. Congress in district 24. I'm a working man. I'm a UT grad. I'm a basic man that loves his country and loves his God. And I think it's time we turned the American dream back into the American dream...
Over forty years ago, John Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Now the Republicans say it's not my problem. I've got mine; you go get yours. And I think we're heading in the wrong direction.

We have a crisis of competence. We have a culture of corruption. We have indifference in our government, because folks, Republicans don't want to make our government work. They see government as an inherent evil. But in those words, "we the people," it is you - you're the government. Don't ever let them take that away.

We are the party of the 40 hour workweek, of child labor laws, of overtime pay. We are the party of the rights of the individual......

We have never claimed to be perfect, only to strive for a more perfect union.....

I urge you to vote and vote Democratic. And if you do vote for me, I will guarantee you my hand will be your hand, my heart will be your heart and together we will live in a shared dream of the American reality. I thank you.
For the entire speech, check out the video at WhosPlayin. To show Tom some love, click here. To meet Tom at his next event, check out his calendar.

Texas Blog Roundup: January 7, 2008

It's a New Year (and a Monday), and that means it's time once again to bring back the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly blog round up. This week's round-up was compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex, who offers a thousand apologies for it being tardy this week.

TXsharon burned despair's chair. See Bluedaze for an inspirational New Year's message of hope.

Off the Kuff asked a variety of interesting people to write a post for him called Looking Forward to 2008. Topics ranged from music and television to local, state, and national politics. The entire series, which wrapped up last week, can be found here.

Barfly at McBlogger says thank you to our neighbor to the north for giving us some of our most cherished celebrities. Like Celine Dion.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston lists who is running for office and who is not in Clear Lake.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News saw the Iowa results as a Progressive sweep and picked out the winners and losers.

In all the undignified events surrounding the Harris County District Attorney's office, the announcements on KHOU-TV and KPRC-TV regarding assistant district attorney Kelly Seigler's run for her boss' job has taken the proverbial cake. Jaye at Winding Road in Urban Area notes that it is just charming that Ms. Seigler said on camera, that aspects of being district attorney "sucks." Nothing says "get to know me" the first time a voter may see a candidate like saying the job I want, "sucks!"

nytexan at BlueBloggin points out the newest GOP stunt to block the Senate and screw up another presidential election. With the primary season underway for the most important presidential race the Federal Election Commission has shut its doors.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes James 'Rick' Perry ignored ceremony for fallen Texas military hero. That's how Republicans support and honor our troops!

It was a bad start to 2008 (if you happened to be a Republican), no matter if your name was Vicki Truitt, or Chuck Rosenthal, or Jared Woodfill, or Mitt Romney. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has more on the conservative misery.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson opines about the death of Ric Williamson and who will be The Next Leader Of TxDOT.

To start 2008 off for Texas Kaos, Lightseeker takes a look at some of The Big Texas Issues we'll be talking about in the coming year.

Muse is only now able to get her bulls---t detector to quiet down after Harris County DA, Chuck "Romancethal" Rosenthal, told the Houston Chronicle that he was only sending romantic emails to his secretary because she had personal problems. Right (wink, wink, former FBI agent wife). What else happened? Pity sex?

Phillip at Burnt Orange Report takes a preliminary look at some numbers on filings for the Texas House, including the large number of Republicans that are facing both a primary and general election opponent.

Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal introduces the new slate of Denton County Democratic candidates, as revealed at a press conference promoting the strength of the local party with high hopes for 2008.

Capitol Annex (complete with a new look following a weekend redesign) tells us that a federal court has upheld Texas' moment of silence law passed for school children in 2003 and notes that another major lawsuit related to the new pledge to the state flag still looms.

The TexasCloverleaf cautions some to smoke 'em if they got 'em, but they still might go to jail. DFW area law enforcement is ignoring the new option to give citations to pot smokers.

On The Texas Blue this week, contributor David Gurney explains that he doesn't really buy this business of a "war on Christmas."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Denton County Democrats Introduce 2008 Candidate Slate

The Denton County Democrats held a press conference Tuesday evening at a packed headquarters in Denton to introduce its slate of candidates for 2008. The message of the evening was the resurgence of the local Democratic Party.
"We are back,” said Neil Durrance, the county Democratic Party chairman. “We are here to offer Denton County residents choice, balance and accountability. It is our intention to bring balance and good government to Denton County.

Here is the list of Democrats announced at Tuesday's press conference.

  • County Democratic Chairman - Neil Durrance, Denton
  • District Judge, 16th district - Karen Guerra, Carrollton
  • Constable, Pct. 5 - Mike Ballard, Denton
  • State Board of Education, 14th district - Edra Bogle, Denton
  • Commissioner, Pct. 1 - Phyllis Wolper, Denton
  • State Rep., Dist 63 - Jesus Carrillo, Ponder
  • State Rep., Dist 64 - John McClelland, Little Elm
  • U.S. Rep., Dist 24 - Tom Love, Arlington
  • U.S. Rep., Dist 26 - Kenneth Leach, Gainesville
For more, see the Denton Record Chronicle and Whosplayin.

Also, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting Melvin Willms has filed to run against Chris Harris for state Senate District 9.

Chairman Brender Concludes Davis Eligible for Senate Dist. 10 Run

Art Brender, Chairman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, has issued a statement clarifying the eligibility of Wendy Davis' candidacy for State Senate District 10.
At about 2:30 p.m., on December 31, 2007, I received a challenge from three Fort Worth Firefighters, pursuant to the Texas Election Code, claiming that Wendy Davis who had filed as a candidate in the 2008 Democratic Primary for State Senate District 10 was ineligible for the office pursuant to Art. III, § 19, of the Texas Constitution, which provides as follows:

No judge of any court, Secretary of State, Attorney General, clerk of any court of record, or any person holding a lucrative office under the United States, or this State, or any foreign government shall during the term for which he is elected or appointed, be eligible to the Legislature.

This provision has resulted in a landmark decision here, in Tarrant County, that resulted in former State Senator and State Representative Doyle Willis being excluded from seeking election to this same Senate seat in 1964, In Willis v. Potts, the Texas Supreme Court strictly construed this section of the Texas Constitution and excluded Doyle Willis as a candidate despite his resigning from the Fort Worth City Council. In 1982, Woodie Woods, Mayor of Fort Worth, was excluding from the ballot in his attempt to run as Republican Senator in Senate District 12 by this same provision. In 1992, a decision by the Texas Supreme Court, Wentworth v. Myer, 339 S.W.2d 766 (Tex. 1992), modified the ruling in Willis v. Potts. Wentworth involved another challenge to a Texas Senate seat where the nominee, Jeff Wentworth, had resigned his position on the Board of Regents, but had not sought or been subject to the holdover provisions contained in Art. XVII, § 17, of the Texas Constitution. This provision provides that an office holder who resigns his or her office continues to serve until a successor has qualified to hold the office.

On New Year's Eve, three firefighters who vote in the Democratic primaries, made a citizen's challenge, as permitted by the Texas Election Code, to Wendy Davis as a Democratic nominee to the State Senate District 10. The firefighters claimed that Wendy Davis had not resigned as that term is defined under the Texas Constitution, since she had continued to serve on the Fort Worth City Council and received a weekly salary after she had filed as a candidate for the Texas State Senate. The effect of remaining as a holdover candidate and continuing to serve in that capacity was specifically exempted from the Supreme Court decision in the Wentworth case. I have thoroughly researched this matter and consulted, as I am required to do, with the Secretary of State's Office, for an opinion concerning whether or not any Court since 1992 has decided this issue. I am advised by the Secretary of State, as well as by my own research, that this issue has not been addressed by the Texas appellate courts since the Wentworth decision. Since decisions to determine the eligibility of the candidate must be strictly construed AGAINST INELIGIBILITY, I have followed the law strictly and to the letter and have declared this date that Wendy Davis is eligible to run as a candidate in the 2008 Democratic Primary for the position of State Senate District 10. A copy of my decision follows this announcement.

A number of inquiries have been posed by Democrats since this challenge was presented and discussed in the news media. Under the Texas Election Code, if a candidate is declared ineligible to serve in an office by order of a court prior to the 74th day before the General Election, the Executive Committee of the Party whose candidate is disqualified may replace that candidate.

At this time, there has been no lawsuit filed to determine this issue. I am hopeful that none will be. In many instances over the past twelve years I have served as your County Chair, I have represented the Party's and its candidates in challenging the eligibility of Republican candidates, such as Representative Bill Zedler. In this instance, however, I am the official actually making the decision, under the Election Code. Thus, I will not serve as an attorney in the event of any legal challenge to my decision to declare Wendy Davis an eligible candidate. That duty would be undertaken by the Secretary of State's Office and/or the Texas Attorney General's Office. My connection with this matter has officially ended with this decision. Any defense of my decision will be undertaken by the Texas Attorney General or the Secretary of State......

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

No Ruling on Davis' Eligibility in Senate District 10 Race

The Fort Worth Star Telegram is reporting that Wendy Davis' eligibility in the Senate District 10 race is still murky.
The secretary of state's office said today that it will not make a ruling on whether Democrat Wendy Davis is ineligible to run for state Senate, placing the issue in the hands of Tarrant County Democratic Chairman Art Brender.

"Our office has talked to Mr. Brender and let him know that since he is the filing authority for this election, that ultimately it's his decision to make," said Scott Haywood, a spokesman for the office.....

Haywood said state law appears "to be a bit unclear" on whether an elected official is eligible to run for higher office upon resignation or must wait until a successor is sworn in.

There is a bit of risk in this strategy for the Republicans. As Steve Smith at Pegasus News remarked, "never do your opponent a small wound." If Davis ends up unable to run and the Democrats field no one else, the GOP has protected a vulnerable Republican in a crucial race. But if Davis' candidacy goes forward, the Republicans will have been too clever by half.

Davis isn't facing disqualification over incompetence, corruption or morality. She was required by law to serve in some statutory role until Joel Burns was officially sworn in. If she's allowed to run, there will be references to the eligibility question for the rest of the campaign. And what voters will remember is that Republicans tried to trip Davis up over a technicality.

The party diehards might admire this, but the average voter isn't that strongly affiliated with a political party. They will rightfully perceive this as an attempt to deny them a choice in this election. One of Brimer's vulnerabilities as a candidate is his low voter recognition. It's hard to imagine that having this issue define him throughout the campaign helps his image.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Wendy Davis' Eligibility for Senate District 10 Challenged

According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, a challenge has been made regarding Wendy Davis' eligibility to file for Texas State Senate District 10 against Kim Brimer.

Three Fort Worth firefighters delivered a letter Monday afternoon to Art Brender, Tarrant County Democratic Party chairman, calling on the party to disqualify Davis from running because she is still a Fort Worth City Council member.

State law forbids sitting council members from running for the Legislature. Although Davis resigned in August, local law requires her to keep her seat until a successor is sworn in. Joel Burns, who won the special election runoff Dec. 18 to replace Davis, is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 8.

The letter left Brender scrambling for legal clarification and appealing for an eleventh hour backup candidate "in an abundance of caution."

Steve at Caravan of Dreams has some speculation as to who could be behind the challenge.

According to the Startlegram, the letter was sent by Cullen Cox, Rickey Turner and Javier Cerda, three firefighters who support the Democratic Party, according to Rob Gibson, second vice president of the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association. If these guys truly support the Democratic Party, why would they derail a candidate who looked to have an excellent opportunity to unseat a very vulnerable and disliked Republican?

As one local Democrat told me this morning, the dots are pretty easy to connect. The political consultant for the Fort Worth Firefighters is Republican political consultant Bryan Eppstein. The political consultant for Kim Brimer is -- you guessed it -- Republican political consultant Bryan Eppstein.

If Eppstein's name is familiar, it's because his fingerprints are all over the North Texas political landscape. He made news last year when J.D. Granger, son of U. S. Rep Kay Granger (R- Fort Worth- a client of Eppstein's), hired him for a lucrative consulting gig with the Tarrant Regional Water District board. The appointment was made without an RFP.

No word on who might replace Davis if her filing is declared invalid.

UPDATE: The FWST is reporting this evening that Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns was sworn in today, one week earlier than scheduled.

Burns said he was told by Fort Worth city attorneys that because the runoff election results were canvassed last Thursday, making them official, he could be sworn in any time.

John Hill, a retired appellate judge, administered the oath of office Tuesday at Burns' home in front of a small group of family and friends, Burns said.

There is still some question as to whether this paves the way for Davis to run. Davis filed for office in early December.

Brender said he also notified the Texas Secretary of State's Office regarding challenge.

"It's an issue, unfortunately, that the courts have not ruled on," he said. "The actual issue regarding an officeholder resigning and staying on as a holdover candidate has not been decided by the courts. Although I don't think there would have been any issue had she filed tomorrow and Joel had been sworn in today."

Another Angry Democrat

The "angry" Edwards theme has really picked up steam this week heading into the Iowa caucuses. Apparently the beltway punditry is trying to lighten their holiday workload by recycling old editorials from the Howard Dean campaign.

You remember the warnings about Howard Dean? Disregarding everything we knew about his decade as Vermont's governor, the media painted him as angry, alienating, and gaffe-prone. Talking heads predicted that a country run by such a volatile leader would surely result in endless gridlock and political meltdown.

When Dean ended up chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2005, the GOP revved up the spin machine into high gear. They gleefully reported his fundraising efforts were lagging, and forecast his imminent impeachment.

....the good doctor has worked with such zeal alienating voters and contributors that Republicans can only sit back and enjoy. The Democrats would be crazy to keep him, but they may prefer to let him and the DNC become irrelevant rather than suffer the public-relations crisis of a party purge.

Funny thing with Dean, though. His 50-state strategy emphasizing reform helped re-energize the Democratic base. Instead of a tenure marked by controversy and contention, his leadership has led to a remarkably unified and successful Democratic Party, which has set records for fundraising. The results of the 2006 election are hard to argue with. So maybe, just maybe, all that hotair about Gov. Dean being a hothead was a bit overblown, eh?

So with that in mind, Stuart Rothenberg's recent editorial evokes a little anger and a lot of deja vu. Rothenberg derides an "angry" John Edwards as divisive, and predicts an Edwards presidency would incite warfare between the middle class and the working class.

With all due respect, Stuart, you really need to get out more. White collar workers are every bit as much at risk in today's economy as blue collar, as companies outsource more and more high tech jobs and cut back on pensions and health care to squeeze profits. And while three dollar gasoline leaves the working poor choosing between transportation and utilities, in the tony suburbs, government's failure to take even the smallest baby steps in securing energy independence or curbing greenhouses gases is seen as a threat to the future of our children. The soccer moms and the waitress moms are on the same page on more issues that one might think.

Recent articles on Edwards even refer to his campaign theme as strident, a slap also frequently taken at Hillary Clinton, but one which still makes those of us old enough to remember Geraldine Ferraro grit our teeth. It behooves us to remember that this is the same media that in 2000 endorsed a Texas governor, who couldn't put together a coherent sentence on the campaign trail that wasn't prescripted, because his frat boy antics and pet names made him more fun on the campaign bus. Then they defended all his subsequent bone-headed policies by interpreting ideological stubbornness as leadership, saying "well, at least you know where he stands."

NTL hasn't endorsed any presidential candidate and doesn't plan to do so. Truth is, like much of the Democratic electorate, we're pretty happy with our choices and looking forward to the end of the primary season when the real debate begins. In the meantime, though, we call foul on any attempt to make personalities (or race, gender or religion) the central issue in this election. To do so is to do the GOP's dirty work for them. And frankly, we think the American people are smarter than that.

For more, see Eye on Williamson's "It's Not the Polarization, It's the Lack of Choice that Keeps Voters at Home" and David Sirota's "Gauging the Fear Inside the Palace Walls."