Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rove and Cornyn Want States to Leave Immigration Policy to Feds

Senator John Cornyn and Karl Rove were in East Texas on Monday to discuss immigration at a panel sponsored by the Texas Employers for Immigration Reform.

It's interesting to watch Rove's moves on immigration. As a political strategist, he's always happy to have a wedge issue to focus voters and the media on something besides the president's shredding of the constitution or his own close calls with justice. But the immigration issue has backfired on the GOP. It's red meat to their base, and at the same time, backlash from the increasingly virulent rhetoric surrounding this issue threatens to undermine a decade of improving relations between the GOP and Latino voters. If the GOP pushes for laws that would please the anti-immigration base of the party, it would also alienate the business world and its funding base, who argue that without immigrant labor, their businesses would shut down.

So the Republicans have been trying to have it both ways - paying homage to the anti-immigrant wing in theory while catering to the corporate world in practice. If you have any doubt about how hard it is to walk that tightrope, take a look at the feedback that Cornyn and Rove received on the right-wing blogs covering the East Texas Panel.

Cornyn was pillaged for suggesting that immigration policy should be left to the federal government, but the biggest backlash came over Rove's comments regarding the question of deportation.
If you think we can take 5 percent of our work force and throw them out, you're kidding yourself," Rove said. "We would suffer serious economic damage. There's a moral cost. There's a practical cost."
Here is the response from a Lone Star Times commenter to Rove's quote.
What Cornyn and Rove mean is: “Monied GOP interests need cheap labor to exploit, so we have to consider the ‘economic’ impact.” Let’s at least tell it like it is.
As with so many other issues that can only be solved through complicated, "nuanced" policies, (think global warming or mideast peace) the GOP doesn't really want to solve this problem. So the best they can do is send the former deputy chief of staff out to try to soften the worst of the rhetoric and hope that the blow-back isn't too bad. And maybe they can blame it all on the Democrats. So far no one seems to be buying it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Texas Blog Roundup: November 26, 2007

It's Monday, and that means it's time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round Up, compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Dealing with recalled toys that contain lead is putting a damper on charities' holiday toy drive efforts. Muse discovers some charities are not accepting toys or are throwing donations away.

Despite the Dallas Morning News article claiming the Texas Railroad Commission is stepping up Barnett Shale inspections, an injection well in N. TX remains seriously out of compliance. TXsharon has pictures, history and solutions at Bluedaze.

Who wont be President in 2009? John Coby at Bay Area Houston compiles an obvious list of Who wont be President in 2009 Any Republican candidate. The Republican party must have worked overtime to find this bunch of losers for President. White. Old. Dull.

McBlogger takes a brief look at the concerns of a Republican Bexar County Commissioner who doesn't realize the Republican Party of Texas is already known as the Tolling Party of Texas.

North Texas Liberal reports on President Bush's loss of an ally in staunch conservative PM John Howard of Australia, whose Liberal Party lost handily to the Labor opposition in Saturday's elections.

The Texas Cloverleaf visited Capitol Annex for Thanksgiving with a guest blog about Turkey, Football, and JFK. Oh my!

Off the Kuff looks at mass transit versus highways for dealing with traffic congestion.

Vince at Capitol Annex reprises his holiday tradition begun last year by reprising his Laws of Thanksgiving--with a 2007 update.

In "Giving Thanks for the Corporations", PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has a few choice words from David Van Os, Jeff Cohen, and John Edwards.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson notices the conspicuous absence of Rep. Mike Krusee since a rumor surfaced that he may be retiring in Where's Krusee?

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes Lyndon Johnson was right, but demographics are having the last laugh.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Some Perspective on the Surge

The administration is launching a full-scale PR campaign now to hail the latest statistics in Baghdad. Citing a 55 percent reduction in violence over 2006, when the sectarian violence began escalating out of control, the war proponents have quieted many critics by claiming the "surge" has been a success.

Successes in Iraq have been few and far between, and while conservatives claim critics simply can't stop looking at Iraq as a glass half empty, some parts of this story simply don't add up.

For the moment, put aside all the questions that have been raised about the accuracy of the military's reporting of casualties, and let's accept that violence is down. Various sources, including some administration critics, seem to agree that significant progress has been made since summer in reducing both levels of sectarian violence and attacks in U.S. forces.

When the surge was first being discussed, the military brass went on the record against the surge, in part because the strategy lacked a clear and achievable objective. But the surge is working, right? How could they have been so wrong?

Well, something seems to have quelled the insurgency, but it probably wasn't the increase in troops, which were widely considered too little too late. What apparently has been effective are the bribes that Patreus has sprinkled on Sunni militias.

A report by independent filmmaker Rick Rowley noted that tossing around large sums of cold, hard cash had an immediate impact on violence in the Anbar province.

The U.S. is funding Sunni militias. They already funded the Shia militias. They're now funding all sides of this sectarian war......

Anbar is their big success story. They don't think that anyone who comes up there is going to go to the refugee camps and see the other side of it, or going to speak enough Arabic, which David Enders and Hiba Dawood do, to figure out what's going on. I think they were desperate to get people up there. It was all good news to them. And it was truly amazing. We were able to walk in the street and take our flack jackets off in a neighborhood, which just six months ago had been one of the most dangerous places in the country, where tanks couldn't even go. And that image is the image they wanted to circulate. Of course that's only possible because the people who were shooting at them six months ago are now on the payroll.

Anbar Province then became the model for Baghdad. Having staked future funding of the war on showing some "progress," and knowing that the number of troops deployed during the surge were never going to be sufficient to have a meaningful impact on the outcome, our war strategists simply bought the enemy off.

Well, if that's what it takes.....

Now that we know the key to peace in Iraq is giving bribes directly to the insurgents and bypassing all the bureaucratic middlemen, can we bring the troops home? After all, how many soldiers does it take to drop off bags of money?

Of course, there is a question as to whether this peace can hold, especially with the administration admitting that political progress in Iraq remains as elusive as ever. It also raises the issue as to how the Shia will respond to being two-timed.

.....Shiite "special groups" were believed responsible for a series of rocket and mortar attacks against American bases in eastern Baghdad on Nov. 18.

In addition to those attacks, an estimated 10 rockets or mortars fired from Shiite areas slammed into the Green Zone last Thursday in the biggest attack on the U.S.-protected area in weeks. U.S. officials said the barrage wounded an undisclosed number of people but caused no deaths.

Baghdad was generally calm Saturday, with no major incidents reported by police. But the recent uptick in attacks raised questions whether anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Mahdi Army militia, would call off the six-month truce he ordered last August.

U.S. officials have said the truce was generally holding and partly responsible for a 55 percent decline in attacks nationwide since June.

It may not be a long term solution, but so far it has been used effectively to quell critics of the war and the administration's incompetency. And every time the intensity of criticism against Bush's war eases, he buys a little more time in his goal toward long-term occupation.

When considering the U.S. shift in alliances from Shia to Sunni, keep in mind the goal of this war is to secure the oil rights. As the debate over the oil law drags on with no resolution in sight, the administration rhetoric against the Maliki government is picking up. Perhaps there is more than a little threat implied in the latest U.S. actions. A strong, united Iraqi government would almost certainly not support the oil law being pushed on them by U.S. corporate interests. But by backing Sunni militias, many experts think the U.S. may be weakening the long-term chances for Iraqi political stability. Maybe such an outcome isn't unintended. If the U.S. can't get Iraq's parliament to bend to its will and let Exxon Mobil and company plunder Iraq's oil fields, maybe a weaker government is seen as desirable. There are many levels of intrigue at play in Iraq, and the official scenario surely doesn't begin to explain it.

In the meantime, violence may keep falling, or go back up. The Iraqis may come together in a consensus government, or more likely splinter even further. Whatever happens, the events will be woven into the rationale for keeping troops stationed in Iraq indefinitely. And we will all continue to pay the price.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

bush-friendly liberal party loses in australia

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq War, and his Liberal Party are predicted to lose to Kevin Rudd and the Labor opposition, according to Reuters.
Early counting in Australia’s election pointed to solid support for Kevin Rudd’s Labor opposition on Saturday, as an exit poll showed voters were ready for a change of government after 11 years of conservative rule.
The Kevin07 campaign gave the following six reasons for Australians to vote Labor this year: "an education revolution, fixing our hospitals, decisive action on climate change, balance and fairness in the workplace, maintaining our national security, and a strong economy that delivers for working families."

Australian Broadcasting Corp predicts that Labor will take at least 78 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, earning a clear majority. Even Howard's Liberal party is ready to admit defeat:

But Howard's communications minister, Helen Coonan, said: "If this trend continues we have to accept the voters think that it's time for the prime minister to go."

If Howard loses his own seat he would be the first sitting Australian prime minister since 1929 to be dumped by voters.

Howard, 68, has trailed in opinion polls all year. A staunch U.S. ally committed to keeping Australian troops in Iraq, he offered voters A$34 billion (US$29 billion) in tax cuts, but few new policies.

Rudd has pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and sign the Kyoto Protocol, further isolating Washington on both. The Mandarin-speaking former diplomat would also be expected to forge closer ties with China and other Asian nations.

Rudd, 50, has offered voters a generational change, saying Howard is too old and tired to lead Australia.

Note: Despite the name, Australia's Liberal Party is more aligned with American conservatives. Australia's Labor Party stands for many of the same values as America's progressives.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy thanksgiving


We hope you get the chance to spend Thanksgiving with those you care about and love. Eat lots of green bean casserole and cheer for the Cowboys. And stay warm! We'll see you after the holiday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Texas Blog Roundup: November 19, 2007

It's Monday, and that means it's time for the pre-Thanksgiving edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

The Texas Cloverleaf examines the ongoing feud between TxDOT and NTTA -- this time the funding for the Hwy 161 project Dallas County may face its wrath. To toll or not to toll? That is TxDOT's question.

Hal at Half Empty wants to ask John Cornyn just one question: "When are you going to stop flip flopping on a border wall?"

XicanoPwr reports on the noose found hanging from a scaffolding on separate occasions over at the Exxon Mobil facility in Baytown, TX.

NYTexan at Bluebloggin discovers that some things will just never go away. Tom DeLay Will Launch Activist Group. Two stellar citizens, Tom DeLay and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell have teamed up to promote the Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM).

Kay Granger pretends to care about the environment by sponsoring an Energy Expo but TXsharon at Bluedaze points to her ZERO score on environmentally friendly votes and begs to differ.

Harris County election officials adjusted the vote at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, after Tuesday's final election results had been released to the media. The Democratic Party's observer, a long-time voting rights activist, was stunned to watch it happen. What does this mean for the integrity of electronic voting in all of Texas? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has questions without answers.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston reminds us that Texas is #1 in sucking with tuition for Texas University up by 63% since deregulation in 2003. The high cost of college tuition deregulation. Tuition increases again.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme complains that Texas keeps money meant for hospitals in 'state funds'. You can hear the Republicans yammering for another tax cut.

Muse wonders why Tom DeLay can't seem to stay away from Fort Bend County when he is supposed to be a Virginia resident. His new Coalition for a Conservative Majority kicks off there and has Ken Blackwell as its chair. Yeah, that Ken Blackwell. SOS in Ohio during the 2004 elections.

Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger asks What part of "interfaith" was not clear? in his post detailing the actions of Hyde Park Baptist Church.

Why can't Rudy Giuliani talk about baseball any more without pandering? Off the Kuff takes a look at his latest shenanigans.

Vince at Capitol Annex explores Texas Congressman Ron Paul's "surge" in the polls and in online contributions and wonders why his Republican supporters haven't bothered to examine his terrible record on behalf of the middle class in Texas.

WhosPlayin brings back the Texas Dim Bulb Award for Cracker-Barrell Craddick.

On The Texas Blue, David Gurney explores the total absence of integrity displayed by the Religious Right's endorsements of Giuliani and Thompson.

Easter Lemming watched the Pasadena mayor's race candidate forum in some amazement: How often do you hear a Texas candidate say: "He's just told me the position pays $102,000. I had no idea. If I had known that, I would have put out more yard signs." And Easter Lemming gets the candidate reply in the comments.

Texas Toad of North Texas Liberal explains why the Chicken Pickens of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth owes Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a sum of $1 million.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kerry to Chicken Pickens: You Owe Me $1 Mil

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are back in the news today, after one of their funders, Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, told a conservative audience at an American Spectator gala that he would pay $1 million to anyone who could disprove even a single charge levied by the group regarding John Kerry's war record.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) immediately took him up on it.

"I would be more than happy to travel to Dallas to meet with you in a mutually agreed upon public forum, or would invite you to join me in Massachusetts for a public dialogue and then together we could visit the Paralyzed Veterans of America in Norwood and see firsthand how we can put your money to good work for our veterans," the senator wrote in a letter addressed to Pickens’ Dallas home.

Pickens has responded. It seems he forgot to mention the fine print.
In his response, Pickens wrote: “I am certainly open to your challenge,” but he said he would not pay Kerry unless the senator first provided him with copies of his wartime journals, as well as movies he shot while on patrol and his complete military records for 1971 to 1978.
Kerry's war records were made available on his campaign website during the election, and the undeleted version was released after the election.
Many of the records contain praise for Kerry's service. For example, the documents quote Kerry's former commanding officers as saying he is ''one of the finest young officers with whom I have served;" is ''the acknowledged leader of his peer group;" and is ''highly recommended for promotion."
In the Forbes poll of the America's richest men, T. Boone Pickens ranked a mere #117th. He donated $2 million in funds to the SBVT, along with fellow Texan Bob Perry, who donated over $4 million. Of course, Pickens and Perry have plenty of money to throw around, thanks to the Republican's laissez faire economic policies and his yearly tax cuts to the rich.

By the way, Warren Buffet had a bet of his own for Pickens and his well-heeled friends. Buffet thinks we should up the taxes on the rich.

But if we don't reward folks like Chicken Pickens for raiding corporations and greenmailing the companies, or buying up our water rights to sell back to us for a profit, how will we encourage all those predatory capitalists, er... entrepreneurs who keep greasing the palms of our congressmen, um.... wheels of our economic engine?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Iraq War Bridge Fund to Nowhere

Yesterday, the Democrats in the House managed to pass an Iraq war funding bill with strings attached. The $50 billion emergency funding bill requires that the monies only be made available if the President establishes a clear timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives defied a White House veto threat Wednesday and inserted timelines for an immediate troop withdrawal in a 50 billion dollar Iraq war funding bill.

The House voted 218 to 203 to pass the emergency war budget, calling for a pullback of most combat troops to start within 30 days, with a goal of completion by December 15, 2008.

President George W. Bush, who has thwarted every previous Democratic attempt to change his war policy, has repeatedly warned he will never accept mandated troop withdrawal timelines.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill as early as tomorrow. It is doubtful that enough Republicans will side with the Democrats to provide the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and force the bill to a vote.

On Wednesday's session of the Newshour, Representatives John Larson (D-Conn) and Dallasite Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who looks more like Alfalfa from Our Gang every day, debated the bill and the criteria for redeploying troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Here are some excerpts:
REP. JOHN LARSON: ....It's unconscionable for us to continue this war in Iraq, a war of choice, where this administration continues only to want to run out the clock on its term in office, in a very self-serving way that I think does not serve the American citizens or our troops extraordinarily well.....

REP. JOHN HENSARLING: .....I agree with John. I want to bring the troops home, too. But I don't want to bring them home until they're able to achieve their mission and we give them an opportunity. [Which mission was that again? Eliminating WMD's, uh..establishing freedom, er... making progress....?]

I mean, your reporter had it right. The Democrats are yet again trying to attach strings to our warfighters....... [Warfighters. Don't you love the way Hensarling throws around the military jargon? Keep in mind, neither representative served in the military, but Hensarling was an Eagle Scout.]

And, listen, the Democrats have pointed out all the bad news that has happened in Iraq in the past. They ought to at least admit the good news. Violence is down precipitously. Deaths are down precipitously. People who used to fight the U.S. Army are now in concert with the U.S. Army against al-Qaida.

I mean, we have to remember the threat that we're up against. This is the greatest national security challenge of our time: radical Islam. I mean, these leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq have previously said that they want to kill four million of our citizens, two million of them children.

Now, listen, two of those children are mine. I'm a father of a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old. I take this very, very seriously. [Sure, now kids are important. Too bad you didn't feel that way when you voted against the SCHIP bill.]

There's more, including Hensarling trying to accuse the Democrats of fiscal irresponsibility. Sorry, but Bush has taken that issue off the table with his "taxcut and spend" policies of the last six years. Even the Cato Institute has thrown in the towel.

Larson does a good job of pointing out the obvious - that the Democrats have made considerable progress at cleaning up the fiscal mess made by Republicans, through pay-go and reforms on earmarks, among other things. Go read the rest here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Texas Blog Roundup: November 12, 2007

It's Monday, and that means it is time once again for the Texas Progressive Alliance's Texas Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up is brought to you by Vince from Capitol Annex.

TXsharon at Bluedaze sounds an alert about an investigative report exposing The Most Toxic Substance on Earth and the Barnett Shale gas exploration.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is disgusted with UT Southwestern Medical Center's policy of using state funds to give the 'elite' special treatment while the rest of us languish.

McBlogger wants to know why Barney Frank is loving on big banks with his Kill The Mortgage Market bill, HR 3915.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men says be on the look out for how credit card and home mortgage lenders will screw you by making you pay debts you don't actually owe.

Muse finds herself in the middle of a massive police presence and wonders if she has wandered into a manhunt. Nah, not an escaped convict, just W in town to get slobbered on by his lapdog, John Cornyn, at a fundraiser.

At Half Empty, Hal questions whether Congressmen Lantos' and Smith's excoriation of Yahoo! chiefs for releasing information to the ChiComs, is just the pot calling the kettle black.

Burnt Orange Report is all over the runoff for HD 97. Todd Hill gives an analysis of on the ground action and why Democrat Dan Barrett came in first place to secure a runoff spot in the HD 97 race this past week. Phillip Martin breaks down the numbers and price-per-vote, while also looking at some possibly illegal practices by the Republican in the runoff, Mark Shelton.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston writes about Bay Area Houston State Representative John Davis being slapped by the Ethics Watchdog. Again.

The Texas Cloverleaf's hide is chapped by the abolishment of the hide inspectors and calls for a new Texas Constitutional Convention.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin points out how the Bush administration shows their support for veterans and the troops in US Tax Dollars NOT Spent on Homeless Veterans - Words Are Cheaper.

Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal fills us in on Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson's announcement of the delay in the sale of the Christmas Mountains, as well as the reaction of Environment Texas.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos tells that gigantic slurping sound from a few acres of scrub in north Texas was just T. Boone Pickens stealing water rights..

Vince at Capitol Annex has some reservations about the fact that the Bill White 2010 bandwagon is already rolling down the tracks.

WhosPlayin takes a look at an aspiring new "non-partisan" political party - the GOOOH party.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News had one of his (in)famous what I did election day posts.

PDiddie is fed up with Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and intends to support only members of the Democratic Party such as Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards. He clarifies the distinction in "The Democrat Party vs. the Democratic Party", at Brains and Eggs.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson has video of the TCRP's Scott Medlock Discussing Williamson County, T. Don Hutto, & CCA.

Off the Kuff does a little after action review by examining his Election Day predictions to see how they turned out.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Moratorium on Christmas Mountain Sale

After Monday's announcement from Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson that the land board would be accepting one of two bids received from private owners for the Christmas Mountains, Wednesday's meeting brought yet another delay.

The School Land Board postponed action on two bids for the Christmas Mountains Ranch near Big Bend National Park Tuesday and gave the National Park Service 90 days to make a deal for the 9,270 acres, apparently in response to public outcry over the sale.

State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson wanted the three-member board, which he chairs, to accept the best proposal before giving the National Park Service time to match the offer. Patterson also had established a condition that firearms and hunting be part of any deal.

But the board left the bids pending and did not put conditions on its offer.

"There is no consensus except for the 90 days for the National Parks Service to put something on the table," Patterson said, after the board met in closed session to consider bids.

The delay is good news, but it doesn't mean the sale to the National Park Service is a done deal. Still, conservation groups that had lobbied hard to consider transferring the land to NPS ownership applauded the moratorium. Environment Texas, who submitted 6000 signatures to the board, issued this statement on the land board's decision to delay the sale:
Today's decision by the School Land Board to postpone the sale of the Christmas Mountains for ninety days is encouraging news. Yesterday, Commissioner Patterson announced that he would push the two other members of the School Land Board to accept one of the two private bids for the Christmas Mountains and gave an ultimatum to the National Park Service to change their policy on hunting or lose their right to try to add the property to Big Bend National Park. That did not happen, so clearly the other two board members are not comfortable with this deal. We thank Todd Barth and David Herrmann for respecting the strong public opposition to this sale and for seeking out a better solution. We look forward to working with the School Land Board, the National Park Service, and Congress in the coming months to find a final solution that will keep the Christmas Mountains in public hands and that will maintain the integrity of Texas' word.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

kentucky elects democratic governor, big cities elect mayors

We focused on Texas elections, but big news was made across the country last night as the nation's faithful voters took to the polls.

The AP and MSNBC tell us that the Republican governor of Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher, lost his re-election bid to a Democrat, Governor-Elect Steve Beshear. Fletcher's first term was marred by scandal.
Beshear cruised to a 20-percentage-point victory in Kentucky after a campaign in which he repeatedly reminded voters of accusations that Fletcher directed the hiring of political allies for jobs protected by the state's merit system.

"Tomorrow begins the time when I call on every person in this state to come together with us, join hands with us, because together, folks, we can make Kentucky a much better place to call home," the 63-year-old Beshear told supporters.
On a different note, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a Republican, sailed to re-election victory last night. Barbour defeated his Democratic opponent by twenty points after a campaign that focused on his deemed successful Katrina recovery efforts in the state.

Elsewhere, big cities came out to vote for mayoral races.

Houston re-elected Mayor Bill White. In Baltimore, Sheila Dixon became the first black woman to be elected mayor. Philadelphia chose a new mayor, Michael Nutter, that promised to reduce gun violence. Pittsburgh chose to keep the youngest mayor of a big city in the nation, 27-year-old Democrat Luke Ravenstahl. San Francisco re-elected scandal-plauged Mayor Gavin Newsom, who admitted this year to cheating on his wife and having a drinking problem.

trinity parkway will proceed as planned

Via Capitol Annex, we learn that "with all but a handful of Dallas precincts counted late Tuesday, a ballot measure to kill the high-speed highway inside the Trinity River levees was losing by a 53-47 margin."

We reported earlier that the early voting totals indicated this result, but now it's official.

The much-maligned and oft-discussed Trinity toll road will proceed, per the voters of Dallas.

Update: View a DMN video here of Council Member Angela Hunt of the "Vote Yes" camp conceding defeat and pledging to hold the mayor and his supporters accountable for each of the promises made about the project.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

fort worth area early results

From the Star-Telegram:

In the Fort Worth City Council race to replace Wendy Davis, Joel Burns was leading with almost 45 percent of the votes.

Juan Rangel was second with 21 percent, followed by Chris Turner (15 percent), Jim Beckman (13 percent), Bernie Scheffler (5 percent) and Mark Pederson (1 percent).

A proposition to allow Fort Worth firefighters to collectively bargain was winning 56 percent to 44 percent, according to early voting totals.

A crime tax proposal in Arlington was losing 59 percent to 41 percent.

A $593.6 million bond package for the Fort Worth School district was winning with 71 percent support.

All 16 amendments to the state constitution were winning with 62 percent or better. A $3 billion proposition for cancer research in the state was winning with 64 percent support.

You can find more results here.

star-telegram predicts runoff in district 97

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram thinks a runoff election is likely in the race to replace retired State Rep. Anna Mowery, a Republican, in District 97. According to early voting totals, Democrat Dan Barrett is in the lead in that race with 32 percent of the vote.
Fort Worth attorney Bob Leonard, who held the seat before Ms. Mowery, was second after early voting with 22 percent of the votes. Pediatrician Mark M. Shelton was third with 19 percent, and Craig Goldman, a former aide to retired U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, was fourth with 16 percent. Jeff Humbert, Chris Hatch and James Schull each received 5 percent or less of the early votes cast.
Yeah, depending on what the final numbers look like, we may be looking at a runoff election. Congrats to Dan, though! He's got a ten point advantage over his next closest competitor.

early voting results: flower mound, southlake, carrollton and more

The early vote totals from today's elections have been released. You can view full early voting results at the Dallas Morning News site.

Early voters in Flower Mound passed all of the propositions on their ballots, including crime reduction programs, street maintenance, and emergency services.

Southlake's early voters handily denied a proposition to impose term limits on the mayor and city council members. Alternately, they passed four other measures.

In Carrollton, all seven propositions were passed by early voters. The measures were primarily concerned with improving the city's infrastructure as well as economic development.

Coppell decided on two measures: one involving crime reduction and the other street improvements. The early voters there passed both measures.

Richardson's propositions all had to do with the city council: term limits, public meetings, etc. All three propositions passed by early voting totals.

More info coming soon...

early voters: keep trinity toll road

Early vote totals show Prop 1 failing.
A proposal to kill the Trinity toll road was losing handily in early voting.

The “no” vote on Dallas Proposition 1 was winning by about a 56-44 margin. “No,” in this election, meant preserving the toll road that is planned inside the Trinity River levees.

There were 21,911 early votes cast in Dallas on the toll road question.

Proposition 1 would forbid construction of any road inside the river levees unless that road were four or fewer lanes, had a speed limit of 35 mph or less, and provided direct access to the riverside park.
We'll keep you updated on the elections as the votes come in tonight.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Texas Blog Roundup: November 5, 2007

It's Monday, and that means it is time once again for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Texas Blog Round-Up. Before we get down to this week's edition, however, TPA members want to encourage all of our readers to vote for two TPA member blogs in the 2007 Weblog Awards: Three Wise Men and The Agonist. Vote for Three Wise Men here and The Agonist here.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the final installment of Trinity Trickery and implores Dallas residents to Vote Yes on Prop 1 on November 6th!

At Bluedaze we learn from TXsharon that the FWISD Participates in a Web of Deceit with Barnett Shale Producers and how the school district helps spread oil company propaganda at the expense of education.

Hal and some friends attended Nick Lampson's (TX-22) NCLB Town Hall Meeting this past week and reports from Half Empty.

Bill Howell of Stoutdemblog quotes from and links to the firestorm on the web over Barack Obama's knowing use of a homophobic hatespeaker as emcee of a campaign rally in I Love A Tirade.

Upset about the enthusiasm of some in Congress for an AG that thinks torture is OK and views Constitutional check and balances as 'quaint'? So is McBlogger.

Off the Kuff looks at the fate of the Astrodome now that the Texans and the Rodeo have come out against a plan to redevelop it as a hotel/convention center.

North Texas Liberal's Texas Toad tells us a Halloween horror story about global warming deniers Fred Singer, Don Erler, and their ilk in Planet Purgatory Parts One and Two.

Would you feel honored if a city named a street after you? What if the street was broken into non-continuous segments and wound its way through backwater sidestreets of town? What if no one even knew where the street was? Well, that's how Lubbock has "honored" Cesar Chavez, notes Blue 19th.

Over at Texas Kaos, there's a report on Texans giving Darth Cheney a well deserved reception up in Dallas. Succinctly put, Don't Iraq Iran!

David Van Os has an opposing viewpoint of several of the constitutional amendments on Tuesday's ballot, and shares it at Brains and Eggs.

Over at Three Wise Men, Nat Wu analyzes the situation in Africa, particularly renewed talk of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, while Xanthippas takes on Scott Horton's view that being "grown-up" Democrat when it comes to foreign policy is giving Bush what he asks for.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that if screwing the middle class was a Congressional sex scandal, Texas' GOP Congressmen would be making serious headlines.

NYTexan at BlueBloggin explores Bush's endless veto pen and his continued disregard for the Katrina victims.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson asks why is every former Bush administration official from Texas always rumored to running for public office in Texas? In The Definition of Insanity.

This week's episode of TheTexas Blue's Who's Blue interview series features former Texas Congressman and Attorney General Jim Mattox, who shares with us his observations on Texas campaigns throughout his career and how the national mood may affect the coming election cycle.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Patterson Promises News on Sale of Christmas Mountains

If we go by the hints he's been dropping, today is the day Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson unveils his plans to sell the Christmas Mountains.

Patterson wants us to believe that the land board will be approving a bid so superior to the option of placing the land with the National Park Service, as was originally intended, that it will make the public forget that Patterson is selling our public land to a private developer.
“[T]he outcome I have in mind WILL result in better stewardship, and better access than a simple transfer to the NPS. All of this will become apparent after the bids are recd [sic] and the winner is selected (assuming we have a winner).”
Last week's profile of Jerry Patterson in the Dallas Morning News was a fawning piece with a title that tells it all: "Texas Land Commissioner Patterson keeps cool, packs heat." The gist of this article is that Patterson is an ideologue who is just standing by his principles.
He has already taken quite a bit for telling National Park Service officials that if they wouldn't let people carry firearms on the property, he wouldn't sell it to them. No guns, he told them, no deal.
That's as close as the article gets to explaining the real reason Patterson has drawn the ire of environmentalists. By buying into Patterson's argument that he comes in for so much criticism because of his stand on guns, the author completely misses the point - Patterson is selling public land, donated and designated by the donor for preservation and the enjoyment of the public, to private developers in defiance of common sense, contractual obligation and ethical responsibility.

Patterson is moving forward with this sale despite that fact that the sale doesn't comply with a key provision in the original contract and breaks a promise made by the state's previous land commissioner to the donors. Whether it's pure cronyism, or some misguided libertarian impulse, it's a flagrant misuse of public office.

Patterson, who said the state won't comply with a provision in the contract giving the original donors a say before anyone else acquires the property, is pushing forward with the sale. The land office reported two bids before a 10 a.m. deadline on Wednesday. The School Land Board, over which Patterson presides, is expected to select a winner next week.

Conservation Fund President Larry Selzer said Wednesday that it was at the request of state officials that his organization donated the property to the General Land Office in the first place. He said the state wanted to preserve the property and so specifically committed to the donors that the mountains would remain in public hands.

Glenn Smith at BOR sums it up when he asks:

How is it Jerry Patterson believes this land that's our is his land?

He was greatly offended last year when I raised objections to the sale of the most pristine part of the Black Gap Wildlife Refuge. He went so far as to alter a map he gave to reporters to try and show he land he wanted to sell was not part of the Refuge, which everyone knows it was.

Thin-skinned and mule-headed, Patterson plays Chupacabra to Texas natural treasures. Like the legendary Mexican monster does to chicken blood, Patterson sneaks around at night sucking the land right out from under our feet.

Now it's the Christmas mountains he wants to sell, and Patterson is more full of stuffing than a Christmas turkey. Today's NYT piece on this tragedy by Ralph Blumenthal is solid. Read it.

According to the FWST, the announcement may come this afternoon.
In a tantalizing news release issued Friday, Patterson vowed to make a "surprise announcement regarding the sale of Christmas Mountains." He called a news conference for 2:30 p.m. Monday.
We'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Planet Purgatory: Part II

Research any of the skeptics on global warming, and the name Fred Singer is sure to pop up. Among his many publications, Dr. Singer recently co-authored a book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years.

As Don Erler notes in his recent editorial, Singer has a burr in his saddle about Al Gore.

Singer has called Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, most "bunk," based on "really shoddy" science. For example, in attempting to show that global warming (which nobody denies) is man-made, Gore uses a "trick" by pointing to glaciers melting. According to Singer, "any kind of warming, from whatever cause, will melt ice. Whether it's natural or man-made warming, the ice doesn't care."

Now it's interesting that Erler concedes that global warming is now an accepted fact. Because Dr. Singer is on record denying that the earth's temperature is increasing. From a letter in 1998, Singer claims:

The weather satellite data, the only truly global data set we have, actually show a global cooling trend during the past 19 years.

And again, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in July of 2000:

There is no Appreciable Climate Warming. Contrary to the conventional wisdom and the predictions of computer models, the Earth's climate has not warmed appreciably in the past two decades, and probably not since about 1940.

Of course, Dr. Singer's testimony came before the sea change in public attitude that resulted once Hurricane Katrina gave us a preview of coming attractions. So now the skeptics are willing to admit that global warming is a fact, while still denying that human activity has anything to do with it. And as for shoddy science, Singer has been known to solicit a few critics himself. A climate scientist at realclimate provided a rebuttal of Singer's key points:

The existence of climate changes in the past is not news to the climate change scientific community; there is a whole chapter about it in the upcoming IPCC Scientific Assessment. Nor do past, natural variations in climate negate the global warming forecast. Most past climate changes, like the glacial interglacial cycle, can be explained based on changes in solar heating and greenhouse gases, but the warming in the last few decades cannot be explained without the impact of human-released greenhouse gases. Avery was very careful to crop his temperature plots at 1985, rather than show the data to 2005.

As a paid gun for corporate interests, Singer isn't new to attempts to influence public policy on controversial issues.
In 1995, as President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (a think tank based in Fairfax, Virginia) S. Fred Singer was involved in launching a publicity campaign about "The Top 5 Environmental Myths of 1995," a list that included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's conclusion that secondhand tobacco smoke is a human carcinogen.
Singer claims his studies are non-partisan, but he has extensive ties to the fossil fuel industry. Erler suggests that we should ignore the money being paid by these vested interests because the amount is insignificant. His article doesn't include specifics, but the money appears to come from several sources.
In a February 2001 letter to the Washington Post, Singer denied receiving funding from the oil industry, except for consulting work some 20 years prior. SEPP [Science and Environmental Policy Project], however, received multiple grants from ExxonMobil, including 1998 and 2000. In addition, Singer's current CV on the SEPP website states that he served as a consultant to several oil companies. The organizations Singer has recently been affiliated with - Frontiers of Freedom, ACSH, NCPA, etc. - have received generous grants from Exxon on an annual basis.
On the one hand is the testimony of a handful of industry shills, and on the other, decades of research by hundreds of the world's most prominent scientists. Denyers like Erler want you to believe that this constitutes a balanced debate.

Unless we are willing to educate ourselves at least somewhat on the science behind global warming, we will remain vulnerable to the snake oil sold by hucksters like Singer. When you weigh these arguments, it's important to remember what's at stake. As Joseph Romm describes it in Hell and High Water:
If we permit this Planetary Purgatory to occur, the nation and the world would be forced to begin a desperate race against time-- a race against the vicious cycles in which an initial warming causes changes to the climate system that lead to more warming, which makes adapting to climate change a never-ending, ever-changing, expensive, exhausting struggle for our children, and their children, and on and on for generations.
Surely the greatest threat to face humankind since the threat of nuclear annihilation warrants moving past the increasingly marginalized skeptics and their phony debates to a discussion of the hard choices we may face in the very near future.