Wednesday, May 31, 2006

carter out of touch on israel

Former President Jimmy Carter recently lashed out against Israel in USA Today. A former Carter employee, Ira Forman responded in Washington Jewish Week calling Carter's erroneous claims detrimental to Israel's and his own image.
Carter has long been known for his one-sided reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But even by Jimmy Carter’s standards, this article is breathtaking in its willingness to ignore facts, bend reality and invent history to fit a twisted analysis of the conflict.

He describes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s unilateral withdrawal plan as one “which would take about half of the Palestinian West Bank and encapsulates the urban areas within a huge concrete wall ... .”

Where does he get this stuff? Olmert’s government has not produced any definitive unilateral withdrawal plan. However, every report of possible plans assumes that if there continues to be no Palestinian peace partner, then Israel will withdraw its population behind the security fence — taking in about 8 percent of the West Bank.

Moreover, it is astonishingly disingenuous to talk about concrete wall encapsulating Palestinian urban areas. Of the seven cities that the Palestinian Authority lists as having more than 100,000 people, only in Jerusalem will concrete barriers run through the middle of urbanized land.
The National Jewish Democratic Council points out that the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, still fervently supports Israel's endeavour. Pelosi and the majority of the Democrats continue to maintain voting records supportive of Israel. The Republicans tend to support Israel, as well. Rep. Pelosi spoke before Congress after Prime Minister Olmert addressed a joint session and spoke in favor of Israel.

We just heard on the floor of the House a speech that was a triumph of hope, optimism, and peace. Mr. Prime Minister, it was sad for us to hear you reflect upon Prime Minister Sharon - our thoughts and prayers are with him; our hopes and dreams are with you.

And those dreams as you say are not enough. We have to work to make the future better and to continue with what Israel strives for. Many of us believe that in the 20th century, many bad things have happened, but one of the great ones, a shining moment, was the establishment of the state of Israel. In recognizing the state of Israel immediately, President Truman not only identified our country with yours, he brought luster to our great country as well.

This is a commitment of values, a commonality of interests in terms of peace and democracy. You are a friend in the region, and a friend to the world. The cooperation that you spoke of, the hope, not hate, that you strive for, is a mission that we all share.

In a nutshell, President Carter doesn't know what he's talking about on this issue. In other ares, he may be an expert, but his claims about Israel hold no water. Ira Forman is the executive director of the NJDC and served as field director for the 1976 Carter-Mondale campaign in Ohio. Forman admits that Carter is a reputable individual with flawed views on Israel.

As someone who once worked for Jimmy Carter, it brings me no pleasure to criticize the former president. His commitment to such praiseworthy projects as Habitat for Humanity brings much credit to his post-White House years. No one disputes his right to criticize Israel. Few pro-Israel activists will argue that Israel is always right.

President Carter unfairly damages Israel's worldwide image when he resorts to distortions and falsehoods about her actions. He damages any realistic prospects for reviving the peace process when he ignores the deeply dysfunctional nature of Hamas ideology and policies. But perhaps the most tragic outcome of his charges is the damage it does to his own reputation and legacy.

President Carter should continue in his great works that have established his reputation as a fantastic post-presidency president. Unfortunately, he is not really known as the go-to guy for foreign policy and it looks as if it needs to stay that way.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

the delay strategy

Can Texas Democrats use Tom DeLay as a strategy in this year's midterm elections, even with the absence of DeLay as a candidate or even an incumbent?

There on the screen was Tom DeLay – 30 feet tall, flickering in black and white like the man who wasn't there in a film noir.

For political activists intent on highlighting the message of political corruption in this year's House and Senate races, it did not seem to matter that Mr. DeLay was actually no longer a candidate and soon won't be a congressman, either.

To the crowd that gathered Friday night for the premiere of The Big Buy, a documentary about the former House majority leader's precipitous rise and fall, Tom DeLay is still big box office.

"DeLay becomes a symbol," said Glenn Smith of the liberal advocacy group Drive Democracy. "And the symbol floats free of his particular circumstance in or out of power. That's a political fact."

The Democrats couldn't have asked for a better Republican poster child. Tom DeLay, the embattled U.S. Representative from Sugar Land, Texas, has become the face of political corruption. As President Bush witnesses an erosion of his conservative base (yes, even in Texas), more and more people are also opening their eyes to the Republican leadership that has railroaded the Bush agenda through Congress.

Some Republicans have suggested that Democrats stop harping on DeLay now that he has agreed to resign from office this summer, months before the midterm elections take place. Democrat Nick Lampson, a former U.S. Representative that was ousted from his seat due to DeLay's redistricting, is running for DeLay's vacant seat in the 22nd Congressional District of Texas. Lampson's campaign has heavily focused on Tom DeLay and his gerrymandering, elitist, neo-conservative ways.

It's clear, though. American voters won't tolerate people like DeLay anymore. Even the conservative pundits are catching on to the new political tides (for example, Bill O'Reilly thinks he may have been "a little unfair" to Hillary Clinton). Texas Democrats, especially Nick Lampson, cannot stop talking about Republican corruption or its king... Tom DeLay. They need to employ "the DeLay strategy" from now until November. Texans are smart people and they will recognize that it's time for a little "House-cleaning." DeLay left of his own accord, but we'll have to vote out his cronies on our own.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Musings

We cherish too, the poppy red,
That grows on field where valor led.
It seems to signal to the skies
that blood of heroes never dies.
Monica Michael -1915

I literally grew up on Main Street, in the heart of the Midwest, and Memorial Day celebrations there were always marked by a community parade right past my front door. Main Street itself was only two blocks long, but the parade was a little longer than that, winding by the community park with its war memorial and the rusted metal sign of Uncle Sam pointing solemnly-- "I WANT YOU for the U.S. ARMY".

No self-respecting person would be caught dead appearing at the parade without first buying a Buddy Poppy, bright red crepe paper flowers with wrapped wire stems. They were fairly fragile things, so if you had the change, you bought a few, one for a boutonnière and another to intertwine in your bike spokes and maybe a couple to give away. After the parade, we would ride to the family cemetery and plant geraniums on the graves of "Momma", the grandmother who died before I was born, and a few other kin. The graves of veterans would have already been decorated with small flags.

Monica Michael was inspired to write her poem after reading John McCrae's "In Flander's Field." She also popularized the idea of wearing Flanders Field poppies to honor the war dead, a tradition that later became known as the Buddy Poppy. The Memorial Day parade is still a tradition in many communities and Buddy Poppies are still sold, although it's been years since I've seen one.

If you weren't able to attend a Memorial Day commemoration in your area, take a moment to think about our veterans, to thank them for their service and honor their sacrifice. Texas Monthly keeps an updated list of solidiers lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, "Fallen Heroes" (subscription required). And the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has a multi-media tribute, by columnist J. R. Labbe and photographer Rodger Mallison from the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

And if in your wanderings you should be lucky enough to come across a Buddy Poppy, buy one for me.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Leininger's Edgewood Myth

Dr. James Leininger has been getting some bad press lately, what with the brouhaha over the primaries and all, so he decided to come clean. In the June issue of Texas Monthly, Evan Smith interviews the elusive "sugar daddy" of the Republican party. Turns out he's just a kindly old grandpa with some money and a deep love of children. And the first line of the article reveals that this reclusive man initiated the interview:

It's rare for you to talk to the press, yet your office approached TEXAS MONTHLY about doing this interview. Why now?

The issue at hand, which is school choice for poor children in the inner cities of Texas, is much more important than my personal preference.

The primary races were a mixed blessing for Dr. Leininger. Now he's taking his message directly to the public. That would be the same public that repeatedly has refused to support public funding of private school vouchers. Maybe they just don't realize what an effective tool vouchers are.

The critics of voucher programs insist that they're an incentive for kids to flee public schools. That's not a fair criticism?

No, it's not.We offered a scholarship to every child in Edgewood. It was among the poorest-performing school districts. More than 90 percent of its students were classified as economically disadvantaged. Its dropout rate exceeded 40 percent. And it had a high teen pregnancy rate. Any way you look at it, it was the worst school district around, and still, only 12.5 percent of the student chose to leave. And the ones who stayed benefited greatly, because the public schools so dramatically improved. Let me tell you what happened in Edgewood. In 1996 they had two schools that were ranked "low performing" [the lowest classification by the Texas Education Agency], and the district had the next-to-lowest
classification, which is "academically acceptable." Two years after our program started, they had no failing schools, and they were a "recognized" district for the first time in history.

Wow, pretty impressive. Except not everyone agrees with that assessment. Kathy Miller, of the Texas Freedom Network has this analysis of the Edgewood turn-around.

Of course, Leininger has spent millions of dollars over the past decade trying to buy a Legislature that will pass a voucher scheme. In 1998 he even began funding a pilot voucher program in San Antonio's Edgewood Independent School District. Schools in Edgewood, one of the state's poorest districts, have improved over the past decade. But that progress began long before the voucher program was in place. In 1993, the Legislature moved to equalize funding between poor and wealthy school districts. According to Texas Education Agency records, Edgewood had nine "low-performing" schools that year. By 1997, Edgewood no longer had any "low-performing" schools. Two schools had even managed a to earn a "recognized" rating. That was a year before the Leininger-funded voucher program was created.

You have to wonder if Leininger ever really understood the challenges faced by Edgewood's students. If he cared, he would ask the teachers and parents of students who attended schools there. He would learn about the crumbling buildings, overcrowded classrooms, poorly paid teachers and the lack of library and technology resources before school funding was equalized. Challenges remain, to be sure, but they are not so steep as before 1993. Leininger, however, arrogantly declares the solution to such challenges is to take millions of dollars from neighborhood public schools to subsidize private and religious schools. To most Texans, that's nonsense, which is why the Legislature has refused year after year to pass a voucher program.

And some parents at Edgewood have also weighed in:

Last week [Feb. 2003] , a couple of hundred parents from Edgewood ISD in San Antonio visited the Capitol to lobby legislators on behalf of public schools....

The Edgewood folks have more reason than most Texans to be suspicious of vouchers, since they were the initial target of the anti-public-education lobby working to establish a statewide voucher program. Beginning in 1998, the private Children's Education Opportunity Foundation's Horizon program (underwritten primarily by fundamentalist tycoon James Leininger, though he's put in only half as much as initially promised) has been offering private school "scholarships" to students who agree to leave the Edgewood schools. Since Texas school funding is based on the number of students enrolled, every student who leaves costs the district money -- while leaving its fixed costs largely unaltered. The district is 95% Hispanic and 97% "economically disadvantaged" -- i.e., underpaid working people. Thanks to Leininger's targeted "philanthropy," the district estimates it lost $4 million in the first year, and possibly as much as $7 million this year.

But the parents weren't here to talk only about money. They made it clear they believe strongly in public schools, and some had rejoined the fold after being burned by Leininger's vouchers. A mother of four, Gloria Zapata, said she discovered that the private school she tried didn't have the standard programs -- tutoring, after-school care -- taken for granted and free at Edgewood, and that her children were not being fully prepared for high school. Ritabel Garza learned that the private school would not accept her child with special needs ("It's not our choice, it's the school's choice") and that the teachers in the "nondenominational" school were in fact teaching fundamentalist doctrine. "I made a big mistake," Zapata said.

Edgewood ISD Supt. Luis Gonzalez ...asked simply, "If we can't fund public schools, how can we fund private ones?"

Dr. Leininger wisely decided not to make school vouchers an issue during the special session. The primaries may not have been an unqualified success, but with every election, his influence within the legislature grows. We're happy to see him stop hiding behind the shell game of PACs and finally speak his mind.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The State Chair Race

The Democrats this year are running on a fifty state strategy. But in Texas, that doesn't translate to a 254 county strategy. Why? Texas' population is a bit unevenly distributed, to say the least. In fact, Texas has the distinction of having some of the most and least populated counties in the country.

There are five candidates running for state party chair at the upcoming convention, but it's safe to say that the frontrunners are Boyd Richie and Glen Maxey. Boyd Richie is from Young County, population 17,843. Glen Maxey is from Austin. In the Burnt Orange Report, former Denton County Chair Edra Bogle responds to someone who suggested that Maxey might focus too exclusively on Travis County:

In 2004 the eight counties with the largest populations contained over half of the registered voters in the state. The situation probably still applies. Of these, Travis County was fifth in size, with 555,565 registered voters of the total 12,722,671 registered in the state. Young County had 11,337 registered voters, or 2.04% of those in Travis County and .09% of those in the state...

What makes Mr. Teal believe that a small-town lawyer with a background limited to West Texas even for his college work (except for a couple of years as a young man in Washington, DC) will be able to understand the problems and interests of the large urban counties in the state? Of the African/American population, since it is only 1.32% of the population in Young County with Hispanics at 10.62% and "other" at .81% (2004/05 Texas Almanac, 294)?

Good question.

Denton County is the ninth largest in Texas. But as any candidate with a "D" by their name can tell you, we don't rate very highly in the priorities of either the national or the state party. That probably has something to do with the fact that we're also the second or third most Republican in the state. So a question for Mr. Richie and Mr. Maxey: What are you gonna do about that?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

taking the long way

The brand new album from the Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way, hits stores today. I bought the CD this morning at Target for only $9.98 and it included an early access coupon for Dixie Chicks concert tickets for the North American tour.

These Texas girls are ready to make a stir with their newest CD. In the song "Not Ready to Make Nice," the Dixie Chicks take a jab at the fiasco that ensued when lead singer Natalie Maines made anti-Bush remarks at a London concert on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. Another song that fights back is "Lubbock Or Leave It," a catchy tune that exposes the hypocrisy of small towns in the Bible Belt.

For more on the Dixie Chicks and their politics, see our previous post about them back in March. The Chicks are back in full-swing... all they need now is our support. Get out there and buy the album today to show the conservative country music establishment that they haven't won a war against free-thinking. You may enjoy the music even if you aren't a fan of country... the Chicks collaborated on this album with John Mayer, Pete Yorn, Keb' Mo', Sheryl Crow, and many others to create a new sound for a new era. Let's help them usher it in! As Texas liberals, we should give them a warm reception.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fan Mail for Congressman Burgess

In the latest issue of The News Connection, writer and columnist Stephen Webster has an op-ed entitled "An Open Letter to Congressman Michael C. Burgess." Mr. Webster, it seems, has a few issues with his representative, and it's personal.
Our workers - MY friends - who toil away hours upon hours, have lost their overtime pay protections, and you helped that happen. Our military reservists and National Guard members, nearly 40 percent of whom do not have health care, really needed that expansion of TRICARE, but you did not see fit to give it to them. And what was with that vote to cut federal student aid by $12.6 BILLION? One of my own siblings was thrown off the Pell Grant fund because of that. Not to make things personal, but family is family.
Looking over your list of contributors, one cannot help but wonder what it is like to enjoy the support of today’s Reigning Oligarchs. Corporations like TXU, AT&T, Pfizer and General Electric are not your constituents, nor do they represent the interests of any of those who reside in your district. Despite this, your War Chest is full of their dollars; your votes, seemingly directed by their financial interests. Perhaps that is why you have accepted nearly $60,000 from big drug industry interests since you began your political career. One only has to look at who you were most swayed by when it comes to the debate over Internet Neutrality: you supported the telecom giants in their effort to set up toll booths across our lines of communication. It is the People’s Internet, Congressman. Remember that. Should this bill pass the Senate, and our digital first amendment lies in pieces, we will be angry. Very angry. Rest assured.

Touting “Conservative Values” will get you only so far. Big talk requires bold action, yet you voted for the Bush Budget, which authorized the accumulation of the most debt in the history of all this nation’s presidents, combined. With the passage of this deceptive bill, we, the citizens, are responsible for paying in excess of $30,000 per person. And then, to top it all off, Bush altered the bill, adding more pork-barrel spending to it, AFTER it passed Congress. He signed it into law without the approval of your governing body. You do know that is a violation of the Constitution, right? Every sixth grader knows the process of how a bill becomes a law. You have remained silent despite this illegal action; a direct violation of everything this nation stands for. That is inexcusable.
And Webster's still only getting warmed up. In the Bush administration's pay-to-play congress, Representative Burgess has been the most obliging of rubber-stamps. It's an amazing record, really, considering he was only elected to congress in 2002.

North Texas deserves better. This fall, there is an alternative. Tim Barnwell is running against Michael Burgess for the Texas 26th Congressional District. Tim supports restoring the original PAY-GO rules to curb the growth of government spending. He doesn't believe we should bankrupt our government to provide tax cuts to the ultra-rich. He wants to keep the internet free of the corporate power grab that would curtail free speech and innovation. He wants restored funding to our veterans' programs so that those who serve their country will receive the benefits we promised them. He believes it's time to wake up and get serious about our energy dependence, and the vulnerability in which it leaves our country. Visit his website, and if you like what you see, make a donation. Help put someone in Congress who speaks for you and your interests, not big business and the penthouse elite.

Disclaimer: I volunteer for the Barnwell campaign. Join me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

scalia rebukes republicans in congress

About three months ago, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her support for the use of foreign law in court decisions public. In South Africa, she told the constitutional courts there that the use of international law was necessary because the U.S. Constitution is "a document frozen in time."

This past Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed with Ginsburg's assessment, but still asked Congress to stay out of the issue. In a speech to the National Italian American Foundation, Scalia made it clear that while he held the same position as those fervent conservatives in Congress in opposing the use of international law in court decisions, he didn't need their help.
Scalia dissented vigorously from the court's recent decisions that invoked foreign law to help strike down the death penalty for juveniles and laws against consensual homosexual conduct. In Congress, conservative Republicans responded angrily to the rulings and introduced bills that would either condemn or ban the court's use of foreign legal authorities.
He told the crowd (where a few House members happened to be present) that "no one is more opposed to the use of foreign law than I am, but I'm darned if I think it's up to Congress to direct the court how to make its decisions."

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who has co-sponsored a nonbinding resolution against the use of foreign law, said that Scalia's comments were "like being told your favorite baseball player disagrees with your approach to hitting."

Scalia's "brilliance," Feeney said, "has not convinced a majority of the court. He needs our help, even if he doesn't want it."

After telling Congress that "it's none of your business," Scalia joked that "part of my charm is that I tell people what they don't want to hear." Five of the sitting Supreme Court Justices support the use of international law to create a transnational link between courts and give judges legislation that informs them without binding them. Justice Ginsburg does not think that the anti-international law legislation will pass. Some conservatives agree, now that Scalia has made his position clear on congressional intervention.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

blogosphere roundup

Because rounding up the best blogs in the span of a week is just impossible with so much material, and because I simply do not have the time or energy to devote to a daily "blogosphere roundup," this feature has become a periodic thing. I'll post a roundup whenever I've recently seen quite a few good blogs. That way, I'll only be passing on the best of the best.

Here are some excellent and recent blogs from both a local, state, and national level:
  1. Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post offers advice to "poll-drunk Democrats" about the upcoming congressional midterms.
  2. Stop Kinky! asks if Kinky Friedman is simply a trojan horse for the Perry campaign and gives several more reasons not to vote for the comedic independent challenger.
  3. In the Pink Texas reports on the U.S. Senate vote to build a 370 mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  4. Vince at Capitol Annex makes some great points in an interview with State Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo).
  5. South Texas Chisme tells us that Speaker of the House Denny Hastert seems to think that those earning $40,000 per year or less do not pay taxes.
  6. The informative Grits for Breakfast fills us in on a rejected jail bond measure in Tyler.
  7. Stephen Webster, aka the Gonzo Muckraker, reports on a controversial meeting of the Denton County Republican Women's Club.
  8. Right of Texas reports that Governor Perry has signed a law that would make funeral protests illegal (which is only relevant to nutcases like Fred Phelps).
  9. PinkDome says goodbye to State Rep. Mary Denny (R-Flower Mound).
  10. Burnt Orange Report discusses a new poll that finds Bush at a low 42% approval rating in Texas, with only three states showing a positive rating: Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Politics and Religion in the Lone Star State - a Texas Freedom Network Report

Vince at Capitol Annex highlights the first of what promises to be an annual report from the Texas Freedom Network: The State of the Religious Right: 2006. The sixty page report is fascinating, and worth a careful read, but what caught my eye was Chapter Two, "James Leininger: Sugar Daddy of the Religious Right."

The religious right's takeover of the Republican Party of Texas in the 1990s succeeded largely through the efforts of legions of grassroots foot soldiers who began their campaign at the precinct level. Yet it has taken money - a lot of it - to solidify that control and push a hard-right political agenda in the halls of Texas government. No other political donor on the religious right has been more important to that effort than Dr. James Leininger.....

Since the 1990's, for example, tens of thousands of dollars have flowed from Dr. Leininger and political action committees he has funded into the campaigns of social conservatives seeking seats on the State Board of Education (SBOE)....

As a result, pitched battles over controversial social issues now overshadow the board's primary responsibility to ensure that text books confirm to basic curriculum standards. Indeed, social conservatives on the board continue to use debates over textbook adoptions - in courses such as health, literature, history and science - to press campaigns against homosexuality, sex education, the theory of evolution and other demons of the religious right.

A list of PACs founded or backed by Leininger include: Texans for Justice, Texans for Judicial Integrity, the Committee for Governmental Integrity, Entertainment PAC, Texans for Governmental Integrity, and one that played an important part in the Republican primary and run-off elections for State Representative District Seat 63, The Future of Texas Alliance.

During the March 2006 primary election campaign, Dr. Leininger poured more than $2.3 million into just two new political action committees, the Texas Republican Legislation Campaign Committee and the Future of Texas Alliance. His contributions accounted for all but a tiny fraction of each PAC's receipt. Those PAC's then spent that money to support challenges to five anti-voucher Republican incumbent House members as well as pro-voucher incumbents who were trying to fight off challenges from advocates for public schools.

Dr. Leininger succeeded in knocking off just two anti-voucher Republicans in the primary.

Many pro-education groups interpreted the weak showing of Leininger-backed candidates as a sign that the tide is turning in favor of moderates in the education debate. Unfortunately for Denton County, one of Leininger's targets was Anne Lakusta, who lost to Tan Parker in an incredibly close run-off election, losing by just 48 votes. According to the news reports, Lakusta's name recognition and school board experience fell to Parker's superior fund-raising. The majority of Parker's contributions came from donors outside the county, including Leininger, whose Future of Texas Alliance gave a $8,025 in-kind contribution used for research.

For the six degrees of separation of James Leininger, check out the TFN's web of influence chart. Other chapters in the report cover God's Own Party, the Texas Restoration Project and David Barton.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

the rick and carole show

With the news that Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman will join the other candidates (challenging Democrat Chris Bell, incumbent Republican Rick Perry, and potential Libertarian James Werner) on the ballot, it looks like 2006 will be an interesting election year. (According to the Secretary of State, Green Party candidate Jerry Larson has not obtained access to the ballot but he may choose to run as an independent backed by the Green Party.) Five people vying for the same gubernatorial position... four of them traditionally conservative? This can only mean good things for Democrat Chris Bell. Right?

Chris Bell has called for an end to "the Rick and Carole show." We all understand what he means... the antics are getting a little old. The fact that Strayhorn and Friedman are even challenging Rick Perry show that there is some discontentment within the Republican establishment. Instead of wasting time on the independents, though, voters really need to focus on researching their Democratic candidate. The only way to really affect change in Texas would be to elect a Democrat. In the end, voting for one of the independents in this race would be a vote for the status quo. Friedman and Strayhorn are still conservative: Friedman's just a different kind of conservative and Strayhorn feels Perry's not conservative enough.

Something Bell really needs to court is the college vote. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Friedman has fired up young people in Texas. Friedman's MySpace account has been "friended" by nearly 15,000 MySpace users and boasts that Kinky Friedman is different from the establishment Republicans and Democrats. He has collected signatures for his ballot petition at college campuses across the state. To add to the confusion, the Dixie Chicks, a country music group from Texas that has spoken out against President Bush and Iraq, endorsed Friedman for governor. Of course, the diehard college-age Democrats will vote for Chris Bell, but as it stands many young voters have been duped by the Friedman campaign. Bell needs to work like mad to win them back.

Bell also needs to continue his constant criticism of Governor Perry. Currently, those voters that have become disenfranchised with a governor they likely voted for will be won over by the fiery Strayhorn. As PinkDome reported a while back, Bell's remarks go unnoticed when they are coupled with the same criticisms from Strayhorn. Bell needs to distance himself from both Perry and Strayhorn while maintaining a stream of attacks against the sitting governor that inform the public of the wrongdoings of the Perry administration.

Three conservative candidates (two reformed Republicans and a Libertarian) should spell success for Bell's campaign if he plays his cards right; however, he cannot sit back and hope that the conservative vote is split in three parts. He must actively campaign and court all Texas voters or we'll end up with another four years of "the Rick and Carole show."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wake Up America!!!

On a radio program , they played a portion of a Bush speech where he is talking to his supporters and he says something like "some people call you the elite, I call you my base." I think that says it all. Bush only cares about the small minority, with the greatest wealth.

He will do anything to ensure that their wealth grows, while everyone else continues to see their income decrease or are eliminated due to job outsourcing. Kanye West said "Bush doesn't care about black people." To that I would add, Bush doesn't care about poor people, working middle class people, gay people, all minorities (except the few misguided ones who continue to vote for him and his cronies- and he really doesn't care about them), the elderly, anyone without affordable healthcare, etc. or to sum it up, George Bush doesn't care about anyone not in the top 1% of the wealthy- his policies certainly demonstrate that. In the Dallas Morning News on 5/16, an article outlined his wealth as well as the wealth of Cheney. I am sure that any tax cut or policies he promotes are to ensure that he will benefit and continue to live on "easy street" along with his elite base. Wake up America and vote for American values and that means VOTE DEMOCRAT!!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tax Cuts- More Fuzzy Math

The $70 billion tax cut bill received final approval last week from the Senate, and now awaits President Bush's signature to become law. The President is expected to sign it sometime this week. The bill was approved largely along party lines.

Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voted for the tax cut bill. Senator Hutchison expressed confidence that the two-year extension of the sales tax exemption, important for states like Texas that lack an income tax, would be included in a follow-up bill expected later this year.

The bill was roundly condemned by economic think tanks and the Democratic leadership.
Saying the bill "caters to an elite group of wealthy Americans at the expense of the middle class," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said extending the cuts was fiscally irresponsible, especially during an era of high budget deficits. "I've heard, and I always thought, Republicans were the party of fiscal integrity," Reid said. "This has been blown sky high."

But Frist fired back that almost half of the tax returns declaring capital gains and dividends come from people with adjusted gross incomes of less than $50,000.
According to the Brookings Institute, if you make $50K or less, your share of the cuts amount to an average of $46. Compare that to $42,000 in tax cuts for anyone making over $1 million. Many more wage earners make $50K than one million, so Dr. Frist is technically correct. But the suggestion that these cuts represent tax relief for the middle class is typical of the lies and distortions that have used to sell this house of cards since before President Bush even took office. When Vice President Al Gore pointed out that candidate Bush's plans amounted to a tax cut for the wealthy, Bush accused him of "fuzzy math."

Yes, President Bush campaigned on tax cuts, and he's kept his word. This tax cut package represents the sixth in as many years. The result is that federal revenues have slipped since 2000 from 21 percent to 17.5 percent as a share of GDP. During the same period, federal spending increased from 18.4 percent to 20.8 percent of GDP. The difference is made up with borrowed money, and the debt is rising year by year. The deficit has grown fifty percent under Bush's watch. In the not too distant future, Congress will be asked to raise the debt ceiling to an unfathomable $10 trillion.

David Broder highlights a speech on the Senate floor by George Voinovich, who earned his political chops advocating fiscal discipline as governor of the Buckeye state. Voinovich was one of three dissenting Republicans to vote against the tax cuts.

Some members believe that the solution is to grow the economy out of the problem, that by cutting taxes permanently, the economy will eventually raise enough revenue to offset any current losses to the U.S. treasury. I respectfully disagree with that assertion....In November 2005, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the Joint economic Committee and told Congress: 'We should not be cutting taxes by borrowing.'...Instead of making the tax cuts permanent, we should be leveling with the American people about the fiscally shaky ground we are on...."

The question I ask is, what sacrifice are we making? Anyone in the know who is watching us has to wonder about our character, our intellectual honesty, our concern about our national security, our nation's competitiveness in the global marketplace now and in the future, and last but not least, our don't-give-a-darn attitude about the standard of living and quality of life of our children and grandchildren.

The question is, are we willing to be honest with ourselves and the American people and make these tough decisions?

Senator Voinovich, you are so living in the 20th century. The Republicans haven't stood for fiscal responsibility at the federal level in at least a quarter century. That's why you have to keep switching sides to vote with the Democrats in support of fiscal reform. Remember PAYGO? Too bad your fellow Republicans didn't leave it alone. From the March 2005 release of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Last year, the House Budget Committee approved legislation that would fundamentally alter PAYGO by applying it only to increases in mandatory programs. Under that approach, tax cuts would not have to be offset, regardless of their size, economic justification, or impact on the deficit. That proposal was not aimed at controlling deficits. Rather, it was more narrowly designed to control spending by requiring that entitlement expansions be offset with cuts in other entitlement programs. Since tax cuts would be exempt from fiscal scrutiny under such a proposal, deficits could rise substantially even if the spending restraint in the proposal proved effective....

There is no good reason to exempt tax cuts from budget enforcement rules. In the absence of a compelling case to provide short-term economic stimulus, if Congress wants to pass particular tax cuts, it should either reduce mandatory programs or raise other revenues to offset the cost of the tax-reduction measures, not simply give itself a free pass to enact tax cuts without financing them. Doing otherwise
merely provides an open invitation to keep our existing government services without fully paying for them and then send the bill to our children.

We're already cutting our existing services, but let's not quibble. The conservative pundits argue that Bush is a liberal because they don't like his fiscal policies. But those policies have been soundly renounced by the Democratic leadership. And what does that make the Republican House and Senate who have voted in lock-step to follow the President over the cliff?

If after all this, you're still hankering for more discussion of the tax cuts and fiscal policy, go to Brad DeLong's website and click on "Morning Coffee Videocasts: Time for a Fiscal Stabilization Board to Deal with the Deficit?" It sounds like a sleeper, but it's pretty quirky.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

north texas municipal election results

In Dallas County, things are looking up. Irving residents overwhelmingly approved a new tax on fans and players at Texas Stadium to be used for redevelopment.

Coppell residents approved bonds that would buy land from developers near North Lake in Dallas. The incumbent Mayor Doug Stover was able to easily defeat his challenger to secure another term.

Carrollton voted to return all incumbents to the city council: Tim Hayden, Larry Don Williams, Pat Malone, and Herb Weidinger all held off challengers to keep their seats.

In Lancaster, voters approved of their incumbent by electing Joe Tillotson to another term as mayor of the city, but turned down a $93.6 million bond package.

In the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, Howard Fisher will replace retiring Robert Harris in Place 3. In the Irving Independent School District, Place 3 incumbent Randy Stipes will retain his seat and newcomer Valerie Jones will take Place 4 in the stead of retiring Ruben Franco.

Richardson supported their city and their schools by approving two bond packages, totalling around $200 million. The majority of the city's package will be focused on street improvement and the school's package is mainly aimed at facilities.

Over in Collin County, Plano Mayor Pat Evans retained her seat. "I am just thrilled," she said. "I think they [voters] are really happy with the direction the city is going."
In Plano's only contested City Council race, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Johnson fended off substitute teacher Linda "Lynn" Johnson for the Place 2 seat. The two are not related.
The Plano Independent School District chose to keep Vice President Melody Timinsky in Place 6. In Place 7, Missy Bender will replace the retiring Allan Bird.

McKinney voters decided to re-elect Mayor Bill Whitfield. In District 1, voters retained incumbent councilwoman Gilda Garza. Bill Cox won an at-large seat on the council.

Out in Ellis County, Mayor Russell R. Thomas of Ennis will retain his seat. Incumbents Joe Jenkins and Ron Wilkinson retained their seats on the Waxahachie City Council and and newcomer Joe Gallo will join them.

In the Dallas Independent School District, voters ousted the head of that governing body, Lois Parrott, and replaced her with Leigh Ann Ellis. Mrs. Ellis said, "This is not just a win for me; it's a win for our district – the PTAs, the principals, the parents."

District 9 voters returned Ron Price to the seat he has held for nine years. Mr. Price, the board's first vice president, defeated Bernadette Nutall in a close race.

In District 1, incumbent Edwin Flores easily defeated challenger Linus Spiller.

None of the seven candidates in District 6 won a majority of the votes, forcing a runoff election next month between Carla Ranger, who received the most votes, and Jordan Blair.

Mr. Blair beat out candidate Carol King Arnold by three votes. Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said it's possible that Ms. Arnold will ask for a recount.

"That's about as close as I remember for a runoff," Mr. Sherbet said of the vote margin separating Mr. Blair and Ms. Arnold.

Kathy Coffman, past president of the Dallas Council of PTAs, said Ms. Ellis' win signifies a new day in DISD.

"This is a historical day in DISD when an incumbent gets beat," Ms. Coffman said. "The sun is coming up in DISD. The fact that voters are taking enough interest to say, 'Enough is enough.' "

For Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, the election results mean he can probably move forward with his ambitious plan to transform DISD into one of the nation's top urban school systems.

In Denton County, the incumbent Mayor of Lewisville, Gene Carey, held off an interesting political challenger named Brandon Cooper, an eighteen-year-old senior at Lewisville High School. Mayor Carey also faced a high school student in 2001.

Incumbent Mayor of Flower Mound, Jody Smith, was able to easily defeat the former economic development director for the town, Jim Lang.
Ms. Smith said she'd focus her second term on finding money to fund a senior citizen center and expand the town's parks and trails. The mayor said she'd prefer to pay for her priorities by expanding the tax base with more economic development rather than increasing the sales tax, as Mr. Lang suggested.
In Highland Village, voters surprised the candidates by splitting the balance of power on the city council. Dianne Costa, former Mayor Pro-Tem and city councilwoman, was selected to serve as Mayor, but her voting bloc was dismantled when voters chose to elect Louis Robichaux to Place 4 over Costa ally and incumbent David Watrous. In Place 6, voters chose Costa ally and Wal-Mart supporter Scott McDearmont.

The Colony will see a runoff for Place 2 between John S. Marshall and Jeff Connelly. Place 1 will be filled by Allen Harris, who barely avoided a runoff himself.
In the Lewisville Independent School District, retired teacher Vernell Gregg will replace the retiring Anita Nelson in the Place 2 seat.

Perry McNeill will become the new Mayor of Denton. Outgoing Mayor of Denton Euline Brock reached her term limit this year and supported Mr. McNeill. Denton voters also chose to keep incumbents Bob Montgomery (Place 5) and Joe Mulroy (Place 6) on the city council.

The Denton Independent School District retained incumbent Curtis Ramsey in a close race for the Place 1 seat. In Place 2, voters rejected the incumbent and elected newcomer Sterling L. Smith.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

municipal elections: vote today!

It's election day again across North Texas. Many registered voters will have the opportunity to choose new or retain sitting city council and school board members. In North Richland Hills, Flower Mound, Richland Hills, and Bedford, voters will decide the winner of mayoral races.

The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram reports on some of the important races being decided today in North Texas:

The hottest council races include Trophy Club’s, where nine candidates are competing for four Town Council slots just after a controversial D.R. Horton housing development was approved this week.

In Keller, three contested seats are up for a vote, as is a controversial proposition to fund a new $7.6 million library in Keller Town Center.

Voters will also decide on five Tarrant County bond proposals, which would pay for road improvements, jail facilities, county and district court buildings, a juvenile court complex, as well as medical examiner’s and crime lab facilities.

The bond proposals will be the only item on the ballot for residents in Hurst, Euless, Southlake, Watauga and the Grapevine-Colleyville school district. Their council and school board elections were canceled because of the lack of contested races.

Another controversial race that the article neglects to mention is taking place in Highland Village, as NTL previously reported. Voters will decide whether to retain or oust the rest of the bloc on the council that notoriously approved a Wal-Mart development in what is planned to become an upscale retail district in the small town.

Make your voice heard and vote in your city elections. It's more important than you might think! Getting involved in local politics is the best way to promote progressive values in North Texas. Research the candidates and proposals, find what or who best represents you and your ideals, and cast your ballot by seven o'clock tonight at city hall.

Friday, May 12, 2006

DeLay Sets Date for Departure

So would anyone care to wager on who will be the first out the door, Karl Rove or Tom DeLay? The odds at the moment favor DeLay, who has set a date of June 9th as his last day representing Texas Congressional District 22. And to be honest, I'm getting kind of worried here. We've only been blogging for three months, and already we're losing our number one favorite target--not to be confused with subject, as in the subject of an investigation, which brings us to Mr. Fitzgerald. If the rumors about Karl are true, it could be any day now...

Fortunately, the Bush administration is the gift that keeps on giving. I'm pretty sure we're still going to have a few scandals to chew on around here. And although the Houston Chronicle article doesn't mention him, Texas House Representative Robert Talton is reportedly still in the running for DeLay's seat. To my mind, Talton taking over DeLay's seat is a little like John Roberts taking Rehnquist's on the Supreme Court -- it's not so bad as long as you're replacing a conservative with another conservative, right?

Talton, as you may recall, is infamous for his introduction of legislation banning gays and lesbians from serving as foster parents. The legislation failed, but for a little insight into Mr. Talton's psyche, I quote from a House Committee on State Affairs in 2003:
[Rep. Mike Villareal, D-San Antonio]: You're talking about the sexual orientation of the parent, not the child.
RT: Right. Of the foster parent, or the alleged foster parent.... Some of us believe that's a learned behavior; you're not born that way. And so if it's a learned behavior, then if you're taught that that conduct is OK, then that's what they're gonna do. We know that it's a learned behavior on sex offenders ... same thing with this, it's a learned behavior. Same thing with pedophiles -- it's all a learned behavior.
Groans of disbelief from the audience.
MV: Is that a religious opinion?
RT: No, I think that's probably the majority of Texans.
Audience laughs; committee Chair Ken Marchant, R-Coppell, scolds the crowd.
MV: I also sit on Human Services [Committee] and our number one priority is placing children with caring, nurturing, loving parents, period. ... Are you concerned that we are going to be holding this value of yours above this other priority?
RT: Quite frankly, I don't look at those that may be homosexuals as parents as such. ... We think of a parent -- y'all heard DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] -- as a mother and a father and not persons of homosexual conduct. And I would put that value ahead of the value of foster care. Quite frankly, if it was me I would rather [leave] kids in orphanages. ... At least they have a chance of learning the proper values, and if that's not important, than I don't know what is.
Values are important, but there's something missing here. Bonding. It's the key to the emotional development of a child, and it depends on the relationship between caregiver and child. And orphanages sucked at providing it. That's why we did away with them. If bonding doesn't take place, the child fails to develop a conscience, becomes obsessively focused on meeting her own needs, and has trouble empathizing with others.

Now I know what you're thinking, but there is no way that the entire Republican legislature was raised in an orphanage. Anyway, we're anxiously awaiting Tom DeLay's replacement. We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

highland village municipal elections

Nestled near the ever-growing Flower Mound and only a short drive from DFW International Airport is the town of Highland Village, Texas: a small community that has caused a big uproar over the status quo in their municipal government. The citizens are banding together to vote for a change.

Last year, a controversial development plan that included a new Wal-Mart store as its anchor franchise infuriated residents. A survey was conducted and the majority of Highland Village residents opposed the Wal-Mart, but the city council approved the plan. Subsequently, a recall campaign began to circulate and the council members that approved Wal-Mart were voted out during the next election cycle.

Despite the outrage of the citizens, Wal-Mart continued to push their plan. It is a constant reminder to the concerned residents now that construction has begun on the super-size franchise store. As Saturday's municipal election draws near, the Wal-Mart remains a pivotal issue for city council candidates.

An interest group called Highland Village Unite, an organization that opposed the construction of the Wal-Mart and the extension of FM 2499, has endorsed three candidates in the municipal elections: Dave Bunnell for Mayor and Louis Robichaux and Dan Ford for City Council. These three candidates have also received the endorsement of sitting council members Brian Fiorenza, Austin Adams, and Fred Busche, who were all elected last year because of their opposition to the Wal-Mart plan.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the candidates sparred off on the Wal-Mart issue during a candidate forum. The biggest issue at hand was whether the city government should make decisions based on public opinion or personal judgement.
"It's evil to disregard what the majority of citizens tell you to do," mayoral candidate Dave Bunnell said.

His opponent, City Council member Dianne Costa, responded: "Where would Moses be if he took a poll in Egypt? Where would Jesus Christ be if he took a poll in Israel?"
Highland Village Unite feels that Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Costa and the candidates trying to get elected on her coattails (newcomer Scott McDearmont and incumbent David Watrous) will abuse their power if elected and disregard the will of Highland Village citizens. Dianne Costa herself has affirmed this: "My public charge in a representative form of government is to do my due diligence and, with all possible information gathered, make decisions not based on my personal preference, but on what my conscience tells me is the best possible decision." In other words, she is willing to vote against the will of her constituents if her conscience tells her to do so. It must have really been an issue of conscience when she decided to vote in favor of the Wal-Mart development deal.

Candidate Louis Robichaux is employing the same strategy, saying that incumbent David Watrous did not make a decision that was aligned with the will of the people when he voted for Wal-Mart. Robichaux wants to open communication lines even further to be sure that, when elected, he votes according to popular opinion.

Mr. Robichaux said the city should use a scientific polling system to gauge residents' views on important issues. The council would vote based on what residents want.

"If I thought Wal-Mart was a great idea and our statistically valid survey showed two-thirds of the people did not want big-box development, I'm going to let the citizens determine the future of the city," he said. "Who am I to substitute my views for the views of who elected me?"

Mr. Watrous said the council receives plenty of feedback through public forums, e-mails and conversations with residents.

"The goal was to do this in the best interest of the entire community and provide retail outlets closer to home that provide much-needed sales tax revenue," he said of the Wal-Mart decision.

In essence, Watrous has no qualms about putting aside what the majority wants. Instead, he will vote on important matters to the city without input from the people that have chosen to live there.

Some, like Costa, may point to other times in history when a majority opinion was wrong. At one time the majority held an opinion that was pro-slavery. Unfortunately for her argument (and her campaign), Wal-Mart is not as monumental an issue as slavery. This is simply a case of a town that had a master plan and held an anti-big box retail mentality that was thwarted by its elected officials. Highland Village realizes that it is time once again to "throw the bums out" and finally have an entire city council dedicated to the will of the people of their city.

NTL recommends that Highland Village residents vote for Dave Bunnell (Place 1, Mayor), Louis Robichaux (Place 4), and Dan Ford (Place 6). Show the status quo the door and prove that you mean business. Vote this Saturday, May 13, at the Highland Village Municipal Complex.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

BP: It's Not Easy Being Green

Since the late 1990s, British Petroleum has been trying to woo the public as the oil company with an environmental awareness. The company changed its logo to a green and yellow sunburst and bought a significant stake in solar energy. Vanity Fair's recent green issue profiled Lord John Browne, the CEO of BP, alongside environmental champions such as the Natural Resources Defense Council:
The best chair in the boardroom of the world's second-largest oil company is not where you expect to find a committed environmentalist. But Lord John Browne of Madingley, chief executive of British Petroleum, is exactly that. Soft-spoken and highly regarded, he has vowed to take B.P. "Beyond Petroleum." It is seemingly contradictory, if not somewhat perverse, for an oil giant to place itself at the forefront of efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Old-style environmentalists may convulse at the idea of a "green" oil company, but under Browne, who sits on the board of the influential U.S. group Conservation International, B.P. has pledged to invest $8 billion in solar-, wind-, and hydrogen-energy technologies over the next decade. That's still minute compared with B.P.'s business in traditional oil and gas, but who has better resources, expertise, and incentive to forge our energy future than a profit-driven energy company? Since 1990, B.P. has reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions by 10 percent. Says Browne, "The whole point is that no one should be able to use the environment without restoring it."
Okay, when you are in competition with the likes of Lee Raymond of Exxon Mobil, sounding more progressive isn't hard to do. But even environmental groups like the Sierra Club rank BP among the better energy companies on environmental policies. Which isn't to say there haven't been concerns. BP has extensive holdings in Alaska and has been criticized for failing to report spills at its Prudhoe Bay operations and in 1999 was fined $22 million related to dumping of hazardous waste there.

Safety has been an issue, as well. On March 23, 2005, fifteen people were killed and 170 injured at BP's Texas City refinery when a "distillation tower flooded with hydrocarbons and was overpressurized, causing a geyser-like release from the vent stack." An investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration led to a $21 million fine.

This week the Texas City refinery is back in the news. In an article in the Houston Chronicle, BP reported to the Environmental Protectional Agency that its emissions in 2004 tripled over the previous year, raising questions about the accuracy of its past self-reports. The controversy revolves around the method the plant used to calculate emissions, specifically formaldehyde and ammonia, common components of smog and soot, respectively. The newly reported numbers make the Texas City facility far and away the worst polluting refinery in the country, three times worse than the second-most polluting plant, Exxon Mobil's refinery in Baton Rouge.

As the Houston Chronicle article notes:
In 2004, a report from the EPA's inspector general concluded that the government was not ensuring that the nation's refineries were reducing emissions, despite a court order to do so. Part of the problem, according to the report, was that the agency was not monitoring pollution to double-check the industry's numbers.
How can it be that company compliance can be based on theoretical calculations, not actual sampling? Harris County ranks among the worst in the country for toxic air emissions. The implications for increased emissions are significant.
But the pollution review also could have ramifications for the Houston region's efforts to clean up smog, plans based, in part, on emission estimates provided by companies to the government. If BP's estimate to the EPA turns out to be correct, the additional and previously undocumented pollution could be enough to influence the state's plan to reduce the region's smog, experts said.
For a company working hard to convince shareholders and the public that energy production and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive, the refinery report represents a dark smudge on the reputation of BP and its media savvy CEO. And also a golden opportunity to prove that being green goes deeper than the pages of the latest annual report.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

the texas blogosphere defined

Vince Leibowitz, contributor to Burnt Orange Report and founder of Capitol Annex, contributed a guest blog at called A Guide to Texas Blogs Left and Right. It defines the Texas blogosphere and presents links to what Mr. Leibowitz calls some of the best political blogs in Texas. Of course, the obvious "A-listers" were mentioned, but Mr. Leibowitz also talked about some newer blogs all across the state, including NTL.
In North Texas, Three Wise Men, a group Blog, College Democrats of North Texas, and North Texas Liberal, are three Blogs that address issues of national and state significance.
Thanks, Vince! We appreciate the publicity and we're glad that someone has finally taken a real and comprehensive look at the Texas blogosphere.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

candidate profile: jody smith

Jody Smith is the incumbent Mayor of Flower Mound, Texas. Before that, she served on the Parks Board from 1991-1994 and the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Comission. Since taking office in 2004, she has created a structural reorganization. "Projects were being completed by using reserve funds. We have a charter that says we have to legally stay at greater than 10 percent of our budget set aside as reserve. Our constituents feel that 10 percent is not enough. Numbers like 15 and 20 have been tossed around. But with items like 9/11 happening, and Katrina and Rita, we feel much more comfortable to have our reserves up to about 20 percent."

Mayor Smith's next concern is beautifying and modernizing the town. She wants to oversee the addition of new landscaping along Morriss Road, as well as flowers and land markers at the entrances to the town. She has pointed out that economic developers are now attracted to the area and will oversee the development responsibly. For example, Flower Mound is now anticipating the addition of a four-star hotel on Lake Grapevine as well as lakeside business and retail. Flower Mound can also expect a new JCPenney department store along the bustling end of FM 2499, near Target and Lowe's.

Mayor Smith is also a strong transportation advocate, citing her plan to provide nature trails that link schools, homes, and businesses. She notes that the new stretch of Flower Mound Road (FM 3040) was completed while she was in office. She will make certain that the planned extensions of FM 1171 and FM 2499 are completed with respect to Flower Mound neighborhoods.

Jim Lang, the former Director of Economic Development, is opposing Mayor Smith in the May 13 non-partisan election. Lang has proposed a new sales tax, which Mayor Smith thinks would be opposed by the town's constituents. As a real estate developer, Lang attempted to install an apartment complex in Flower Mound, but he admits that his plan failed. He believes that his becoming Mayor of Flower Mound is "God's plan" for his life.

Under Smith, Flower Mound has "cut costs, legal fees, and parts of the government that haven't worked, while continuing to finish park, infrastructure and road projects." She also plans to continue her fight against Lake Ralph Hall to secure fair water rates for Flower Mound citizens.

Early voting will continue through May 9. Election day is May 13. (For more information on the election, visit a local blog: Flower Mound Road.) Secure a strong Flower Mound by voting for incumbent Mayor Jody Smith. She provides the best path for the town of Flower Mound, as proven by her record of conservative spending while getting things done.

Friday, May 05, 2006

strayhorn ready to join bell, perry on ballot

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Carole Keeton Strayhorn has turned in 115,000 signatures by stacking twenty-one boxes of completed petitions in a courthouse, well over the required 45,540 signatures required to be placed on the ballot. Strayhorn's attorney, Randall "Buck" Wood, is saying that over 30,000 more signatures are in waiting at campaign headquarters, with over 600 more being signed every single day.

Strayhorn is currently the State Comptroller and is seeking to jump into the gubernatorial race in November. Strayhorn is leaving the Republican Party and hoping to be added to the ballot as an independent candidate. If she is verified by the Secretary of State, she will join Republican Rick Perry, the incumbent governor, and Democratic challenger Chris Bell on the ballot.

But [Wood] said Secretary of State Roger Williams, a Perry appointee, is hurting her campaign by refusing to accept signatures as they are gathered and by certifying every signature rather than following the past practice of using a statistical sample.

Until the petitions are certified, Mr. Wood said, "My client cannot credibly report to the media, people, contributors and volunteers that she is going to be on the ballot."
Mrs. Strayhorn is hoping that U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will force the Secretary of State to use a statistical sample, which would certify her candidacy much sooner. There is no word yet on how many signatures Kinky Friedman has gathered and whether or not he will meet the May 11 deadline. Strayhorn's attorney compared the campaigns by suggesting that Strayhorn was "soliciting signatures among teachers" with Mr. Friedman "soliciting signatures in bars and dance halls." Mr. Friedman quickly responded: "Whether the signature comes from the country club or the homeless shelter should count exactly the same."

A Rose by Any Other Name

I recall a marketing consultant for a telecommunications company making the following statement during the wireless build-out in the nineties: "Customers don't like roaming charges - so we don't call it that." This quote came to mind as I was reading Michael Hirsh's article in the May 1st Newsweek, "Stuck In the Hot Zone," about the construction of the Balad Air Base.
...this 15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots is one of four"superbases" where the Pentagon plans to consolidate U.S. forces, taking them gradually from the front lines of the Iraq war. (Two other bases are slated for the British and Iraqi military.) The shift is part of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plan to draw down U.S. ground forces in Iraq significantly by the end of 2006....

U.S. officials routinely deny that America intends to put down permanent bases. "A key planning factor in our basing strategy is that there will be no bases in Iraq following Operation Iraqi Freedom," says Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for CENTCOM in Baghdad. "What we have in Iraq are 'contingency bases,' intended to support our operations in Iraq on a temporary basis until OIF is complete." But according to the Congressional Research Service, the Bush administration has asked for more than $1.1 billion for new military construction in Iraq, roughly double what it plans to spend in Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates combined. Of that, the single biggest share is intended for Balad ($231 million).

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.

Which brings us to a quote President Bush made Wednesday on the emergency supplemental spending bill:
"This bill is for emergency spending and it should be limited to emergency measures."
The President is out to prove his fiscal chops by threatening his first veto if the supplemental bill that includes funding for the Iraq war exceeds a $92 billion cap. The concept of funding the war through supplemental bills is just one of the financial shenanigans this administration has perpetrated to avoid criticism for the true costs of the war. From the beginning, Rumsfeld refused to project a budget, citing the "known unknowns" and the "unknown unknowns." But how is it that after more than three years, we are still treating the war budget as an unexpected cost? As the Newsweek article points out,

But the vast base being built up at Balad is also hard evidence that, despite all the political debate in Washington about a quick U.S. pullout, the Pentagon is planning to stay in Iraq for a long time -- at least a decade or so, according to military strategists.....

Officials in both the executive branch and Congress say they are unaware of any serious planning, or even talk inside the national-security bureaucracy, about a full withdrawal.

If we are planning to be in Iraq for the next decade, why can't we prepare a budget that reflects these goals? By limiting our access to information, this administration seeks to limit the public debate regarding our military policy, hoping that most Americans will be too busy to notice that contingency bases are permanent, or that troop drawdowns mask plans for a long-term occupation.

If the vast majority of Americans think this war is a mistake, what are we going to do about it? The President insists we can win this war. Do we agree? Are the costs of empire justified, when continuing this campaign shortchanges programs that invest in our future -- education, health care, energy independence, for starters? Do we seriously want to repeat this policy debacle in Iran? If not, then it's time to stand up and make a little noise.

blogosphere roundup - april 29 - may 5

Let's take a look at some of the best blogs of the week, both on a local and national level.
  1. Burnt Orange Report shares a comprehensive economic profile of the city of Dallas.
  2. Capitol Annex features a fantastic guest blog from Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.
  3. The Huffington Post blogger (and former Dittohead) Jim Derych says that the Republicans are officially out of ideas.
  4. Pink Dome reports on former porn star Anna Nicole Smith's victory, booting her case to the California courts, in the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices voted 9-0 in Smith's favor.
  5. Chris Bowers at MyDD debunks common myths about the bloggers in his post about "the emerging anti-netroots narrative."
  6. Bay Area Houston Blog reports that the Texas Senate has failed Texas teachers yet again, denying a proposed raise and stipend.
  7. Rechan at LiveJournal Democrats shows that Bush's criticism of "The Star-Spangled Banner" being sung in Spanish is hypocritical. Read more about flip-flops from Lamar Alexander and Laura Bush.
  8. Dallas Blog tells us that Texas Democrats are winning the blog war.
  9. At the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington speaks out about Net Neutrality filling us in on why it's important and why it should be renamed.
  10. In the Pink Texas explores a possible change in the high school curriculum that's being spearheaded by Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

new german car gets 157 mpg

If you haven't heard the buzz, a new German car called Loremo is being premiered at the Motor Show 2006 in Geneva. This ultra-efficient car will get a whopping 157 miles per gallon. This lightweight sports car is being called "the car of the future." It will be available for purchase in 2009.

Can you imagine owning a car that got nearly 160 miles per gallon? The current gas prices wouldn't even cause a flinch... you could put $3 worth of gas into your car and have it last you three days. I don't think I'd mind spending $1 a day on gasoline. I still support researching alternative forms of fuel, but this is definitely a step in the right direction that will provide excellent fuel economy until the scientists unveil the expensive hydrogen-powered car within the next couple of decades.

An Air Quality Primer

Hot weather is upon us, and soon we'll be checking the local paper to determine whether being outside is hazardous to our health. Every summer brings ozone alerts, issued when the level of ground-level ozone exceeds standards considered to be healthy. Meeting federal standards has become a quest for local governments due to the possibility of sanctions if the air quality does not improve.
In 2006, the American Lung Association (ALA) once again ranked Dallas/Fort Worth as the eighth most ozone-polluted metropolitan area in the country, and Tarrant County as the 11th most ozone-polluted county. It was the sixth consecutive year that the ALA gave the region a grade of “F” for air quality.
We'll look into the challenges for the DFW metro area in future posts. Let's begin with an introduction to the AQI (Air Quality Index). This index is compiled by the government and provides daily status on key pollutants: ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and two sizes of particulate matter (2.5 and 10 micrometers, respectively.) To read more about these pollutants and the effects they can have on your health, click here. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality posts results by metro area. If you click on the specific metro section, you can see the results for Dallas, Denton, Collin, and Tarrant counties, among others. Today's air quality in the DFW area was generally good.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

save commander in chief

Please help save Commander in Chief!

Several news outlets are reporting that Commander in Chief is in serious danger of getting the axe from ABC execs. If we rally together and let ABC know that we want this show on the air, perhaps things will change. Geena Davis was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today and she said that the ABC bigwigs do listen to emails from viewers, so maybe we really can make a difference. As it stands, this show is in danger of being pulled for May sweeps, having the last three episodes air this summer, and then being dropped from the schedule and not being renewed for a second season.

If you haven't heard of it, it's a primetime drama on ABC that stars Academy Award winning actress Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen, the first female president. President Allen is also the first Independent to take the high office. It comes on at 9 central on Thursday nights if you'd be interested in tuning in... even if you aren't, please go here and choose "Commander in Chief" from the dropdown menu. Then leave a brief message for ABC letting them know that it's a great show that presents a positive message to everyone, especially young people. ABC has moved the show around quite a bit and put it on an extended hiatus, meaning that ratings have not been steady. That's no reason to cancel an amazing show, though. It deserves a second season. After all, Geena Davis won a Golden Globe for her performance on this show!

I personally believe that the show exhibits progressive values. President Allen is not decidedly liberal, but she is fair-minded and makes her decisions based on the facts and a raw compassion for all people. She considers every possible scenario before making foreign policy decisions. She also considers the impact on people that her decisions will make rather than obsessing with what sort of political consequences she might face. I may love this show so much because it's such a stretch from reality... I certainly wish we could elect President Allen over the current goon we have in office. Anyway, thank you so much for your help in saving this show.