Abrupt end

June 22, 2011

News reports say Sarah Palin quit her bus tour of America less than halfway through.

Sarah Palin's custom-painted bus, parked

Sarah Palin's custom-painted bus, parked -- is this abandoned parking lot the last stop?

That’s rather unusual, don’t you think?  Our Band of Merry History Teachers stuck to our bus tour last week until the bus wore out.  I’d expect Palin to keep it up so long as the air conditioning held out.

No, I’m not running.  I may be better prepared than some of the candidates, but I have a job to do, and I can’t speak Mandarin.

Ed Darrell practices with a teleprompter, to avoid writing on his hand.

Ed Darrell wrestling with the Presidential Seal and a balky teleprompter.


Rick Perry is the new Corrupt Bargain

November 1, 2010

The fiercely independent Democratic Blog of Collin County compiled a series of Burnt Orange Report posts that make the case that Rick Perry should be retired from the governorship, at a bare minimum.

Will voters wake up before Tuesday, and do the right thing?

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption

From the BOR:

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Texas’ Dropout Crisis

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Texas Forensic Science Commission

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Ethics Complaints

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Emerging Technology Fund

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Political Appointees

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Secret Schedules

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: The $500,000 Land Deal

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Texas Youth Commission

Rick Perry’s Cover-Up and Corruption: Teacher Retirement System

Rick Perry to Launch National Book Tour, Won’t Commit to Full Term as Governor

Bonus points if you know off the top of your head where “corrupt bargain” plays in U.S. political history.


Bill White for Governor of Texas

October 30, 2010

Even the conservative, often stuck-in-the-mud Dallas Morning News endorsed Bill White to take the governor’s chair.  Texas needs people to be smart about this race.

Bill White with Texas guys

Bill White with Texas guys - KVRX photo

According to the DMN editorial on October 16:

Record of pragmatism

Democrat Bill White is better-suited to steer this ship of state through the challenges ahead.

The former mayor of Houston is a fiscal conservative with a progressive bent. He’s more pragmatic than partisan. He’s proven himself competent in business and in public office. Indeed, he’s a bit of a throwback – in the best Texas tradition of the businessman governor.

We don’t make this recommendation lightly. This newspaper has a long history of recommending Rick Perry for office against Democrats ­ from agriculture commissioner to the governor’s office. But Texas requires a different kind of leadership at this important juncture.

Bill White is an entrepreneur and an energy expert who succeeded in the private sector before branching out into public service. White, 56, has no use for Perry’s swashbuckling, coyote-shooting style. The Democratic candidate is meticulous and analytical, hesitant to overpromise but determined to solve Texas’ most pressing problems.

As Houston’s mayor, White proved himself to be adept at balancing budgets, managing to cut property tax rates repeatedly. He drew national acclaim for his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And White laid waste to the idea that environmentally friendly policies inevitably were bad for business – a myth that Perry perpetuates as he fights to maintain Texas’ right to pollute with impunity. In Houston, White struck a careful balance, proving that a city could go green and still be open for business.

As governor, White would be well-positioned to deliver in areas where Perry has fallen short.

For example, Texas’ transportation infrastructure needs are daunting and urgent. Yet Perry seems to be stumped when it comes to offering workable funding options for building roads. The governor’s go-to move is to blame Washington – and he does, for not sending more money. That’s a fine lament, but it won’t pay for any new lane miles.

White recognizes the need for new revenue sources and supports allowing counties to call elections to raise funds for transportation projects. This local-option approach has the support of North Texas transportation leaders but would stand a better chance in the Legislature with the backing of the governor.

The editorial took nearly a half-page of the newspaper — read the whole thing.

Texans, mark your ballot for Bill White (if you haven’t already).


Reason enough to vote Bill White, Texas Governor: Robert Earl Keen fan

October 22, 2010

Every major newspaper in Texas endorsed Bill White for governor, over incumbent Republican Rick Perry.  For the rest of us, Robert Earl Keen’s endorsement should be reason enough, no?

 

Robert Earl Keen and a Texas highway - Keen endorsed Bill White for governor of Texas

Robert Earl Keen, in this publicity photo standing on a Texas highway, endorsed Bill White for Governor of Texas -- no doubt to keep the Texas road going on forever.

GO VOTE!

Release from Bill White’s campaign:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bill White bands together with Robert Earl Keen

White, Keen ask students to vote for Bill White

DENTON — On Friday, Bill White and Robert Earl Keen, legendary Texan singer and songwriter, will roll into Denton, Nacogdoches, College Station and San Marcos for special early vote concerts. The concerts are free and open to the public on a first come basis.

To see a list of where the concerts will be, visit: http://www.billwhitefortexas.com/blog/001712.php

“College students have a huge stake in the governor’s race,” Garry Jones, Students for Bill White Director, said. “For many of us, Rick Perry is the only governor that we’ve ever known, and we don’t like what we’ve seen. College tuition rates have jumped by 93 percent under Perry’s reign, and we understand that our teachers are being forced to teach us how to take multiple choice tests and not prepare us for college or careers.”

“Texas students are lucky that we have a candidate who will put our needs first,” continued Jones. “Someone who will be more concerned with fighting for our future here in Texas than battling the federal government to raise a national profile. That candidate is Bill White!”

Robert Earl Keen is one of Texas A&M’s most famous graduates. Last weekend, the Bryan-College Station Eagle, endorsed Bill White. The editorial board wrote:

“[W]hy any loyal Aggie would vote for Rick Perry is beyond us . . .  Ten years of Rick Perry as governor are more than enough. It is time for a change and Bill White is that change. He is a strong fiscal conservative who proved as mayor of Houston that it is possible to do more with less. We’ve had the less. Now it is time for the more.”

Early voting started Oct. 18 and continues through Friday, Oct. 29. To find a polling location near you, visit http://www.billwhitefortexas.com/ev/

###


Republican proposal: Double the deficits!

October 22, 2010

What’s worse that “double or nothing?”

Republican tax-cut proposals would double our deficits, some conservative sources report.

Robert Schesinger, in U.S. News and World Report:

In fact the GOP’s deficit-detonating tax-cut proposals make the Democrats with their spending look like pikers. The stimulus bill, remember, cost $787 billion. The tax-cut bill that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled last week—a combination of making permanent the Bush tax cuts and throwing in a host of other tax credits—has a price tag of around $3.9 trillion. For those keeping score at home, the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility wants to blow a hole in the budget nearly five times larger than the alleged profligacy they have spent the last year or more condemning.

Who is listening to the facts anymore?


TARP saved my nation, and all I got was this bitter, cold tea party

October 5, 2010

Remember TARP, the Toxic Asset Relief Program?

Oh, that’s right — we hate it.  Big hole in the federal budget and all.

Then you should be dancing that it died Sunday night, right?  Yeah, that’s right:  TARP expired.

But, maybe we should be lamenting its passage, and celebrating it.  It ended up costing us almost nothing but the problem of having Tea Party, ignorant ingrates involved in the campaign.  It might even have turned a profit.  In any case, it didn’t leave a big hole in the federal budget, and there is little doubt that it saved us from the Greater Depression.

See the story at NPR:

What do we do with the end of TARP?

And what do we do with the news that TARP will not have cost anything like the $700 billion we thought it would? What if it really cost $50 billion, or less?

What if, in the end, the Toxic Asset Relief Program so controversial at birth and vilified throughout its two years of life turns out to have turned a profit for the government and the taxpayer?

We — most of the news media this is — simply don’t know what to do with this news.

The suggestion that TARP did not blow a hole in the federal budget potentially blows a hole in some other presumptions as well. Economists will argue for years over the necessity of TARP, and the rest of us can argue over the bonuses investment bankers still got (and continue to get).But we won’t argue about whether the government could or should have done more to prevent the collapse of the credit markets and the mass failure of banks in 2008. Because the government did do TARP, and those other things did not happen. We did not go back to 1929 or worse. And, unlovely as it may be, TARP remains the closest thing we have to an explanation for that.

Still, the expiration of the program as Sunday turned to Monday passed largely unremarked. And insofar as the media have noticed the story of TARP’s apparently much-reduced cost, that tale has been anything but ballyhooed.

(For an exception, see the package offered Sunday evening by Guy Raz and the crew at Weekend All Things Considered.)

On the last business day before TARP expired, The New York Times and The Washington Post did report the much-reduced cost figures — mentioning the potential for the program to actually make money for taxpayers in the final accounting.  But the Times put the story in the Business Section, and the Post played it on the Federal Page.

What other “common sense” delusions will misdirect this year’s election vote?

What thanks do we get?  What thanks do we give?


Are we mice, or fully-functioning human brains?

September 21, 2010

I’m still smiling about Ed Brayton’s post at Dispatches from the Culture Wars — here in its entirety:

From the utterly delusional Christine O’Donnell [Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware], said on the Bill O’Reilly show in 2007:

“They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.”

Which gives those hypothetical mice a sizable leg up on O’Donnell.


Everybody works harder than Rick Perry

September 19, 2010

Bill White is rising in the polls, and, according to some watchers, has a good chance to unseat Texas Gov. Rick Perry, seeking an unprecedented fourth term in office (he succeeded George W. Bush when Bush won the presidency).

Perry is scared, as illustrated by his chickening out of debates (he said that he wouldn’t debate White unless white released tax returns dating back nearly two decades, more than Perry has by a long stretch; plus, the period covered includes White’s service in the federal government, which required an annual report of financial information more detailed than tax returns).

White’s been combing Perry’s record to document where he and Perry differ — and in the doing, White’s team discovered that the official records from the governor’s office show he puts in fewer than ten hours of work a week.

If just half the Texans who put in more work hours than Rick Perry were to vote for White, White would win in a landlside.

At a minimum, it makes for an interesting political ad.


“Here’s to the troublemakers”: Labor Day letter from Linda Chavez-Thompson, candidate for Lt. Gov.

September 6, 2010

Worrying about education on Labor Day, with good reason — I get e-mail from the woman who would make a great lieutenant governor in Texas:

Queridos Amigos,

As you light up the grill and enjoy some well-deserved relaxation with family and friends, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on a question I like to ask myself every Labor Day. 


What kind of trouble am I willing to cause?

We forget how indebted we are to a brave group of forgotten heroes, all of who were labeled troublemakers in their day.  They bucked the status quo, stepping out of line to stand up for the dignity of every human being. Their bravery was often met with a baton, or the butt of a pistol, but they showed that the human spirit can not be silenced.

Their names seldom make the history books, but we owe these troublemakers for many of the blessings we take for granted today —including the 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, vacations, and child labor laws.

So what are we willing to step out of line for?

This past Saturday a group of over 30 volunteers joined my campaign team to go door-to-door in Brownsville, Texas.  I want to send a special thanks to County Commissioners John Wood and Sophia Benavides, as well as Jared Hockema, the Vice Chair of the Cameron County Democratic Party for helping inspire the crowd.

Stirring up their own brand of trouble, they got South Texas parents to sign the “Linda Chavez Thompson Today, Tomorrow and November 2nd Pledge” — pledging to do more to help kids succeed in school, to stand up for candidates who support education, and pledging to show up a the polls on November 2nd.

Today millions of jobs are being created in science, technology, engineering and math.  But instead of investing in education so our kids can compete for these jobs, Rick Perry and David Dewhurst and have led the Texas economy to the greatest share of minimum wage jobs.

We can do better. And in real conversations in Brownsville, Texas, parents and grandparents told us time and again they want more for their kids.

Labor Day is here folks.  Enjoy your time with family today.  Give thanks for all your blessings.  And then get ready to step out of line and challenge the status quo.

Here’s to the troublemakers,

Linda Chavez-Thompson

Teachers make great trouble, as everyone knows — which is why Socrates was condemned to death, why Booker T. Washington is so feared, and why the world’s greatest democrats always support education — like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, to mention a few education-supporting presidents.

Strike a blow against ignorance:  Give a few bucks to Chavez-Thompson’s campaign, or sign up to help out if you live in Texas.


Republicans in trouble in Texas

August 18, 2010

Four years ago, while few were watching, Democrats took every county post in Dallas County, Texas, previously a bastion of Republican votes.  Not even normally-Democratic-leaning Harris County (Houston, nor Bexar County (San Antonio), went so blue.

In Corpus Christi in July, Democrats were wowed by a slate of powerful state-wide off candidates — Bill White, very successful, pro-business Mayor of Houston nominated for governor, a firebrand of a woman named Linda Chavez-Thompson to make Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sweat and run from debates, and Hector Uribe for Texas Land Commissioner, and others. White is leading Gov. Rick Perry in fundraising.

The rest of the state is waking up, too.  A blog at the Austin American-Statesman looked around the ethical challenges to Texas Republicans, and figured out that the Texas House of Representatives could very well go Democratic.

Lots to get to today as [Joe] Driver takes a hit, we learn more about the state’s budget problems and thousands of prison workers could be out of work.

While the split between 77 Republicans and 73 Democrats in the Texas House is close enough that there has always been a legitimate battle for partisan control in 2010, most objective observers have long said Republicans are likely to keep a House majority heading into next year. For one thing, it’s a Republican year, and for another, GOP groups seem better-organized and better-funded than usual, and for another, we already know of one seat (Wichita Falls) that is likely to switch from Democrat to Republican because of an incumbent’s retirement.

Well, this thing just got more interesting.

Jay Root of the Associated Press reports in this morning’s papers that Rep. Joe Driver, an 18-year-legislator, has been getting reimbursements from the state for legislative-related travel and other expenses paid by his campaign, to the tune of $17,431.

From Root’s story: “A north Texas state representative who rails against the evils of runaway government spending admitted Monday that he has pocketed thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for travel expenses that his campaign had already funded. Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, faced with findings from an investigation by The Associated Press, acknowledged in an interview that for years he has been submitting the same receipts — for luxury hotels, airline tickets, meals, fees and incidentals — to both his campaign and to the Texas House of Representatives. He has also been collecting thousands of dollars in state mileage reimbursements for travel in vehicles for which his campaign has shelled out more than $100,000 since 2000. The AP’s review of hundreds of pages of state and campaign travel records found that Driver double-billed for at least $17,431.55 in travel expenses, much of it at fancy out-of-state hotels, since 2005. The number could go higher, but House travel records before mid-2005 have already been destroyed. Driver has been in office for 18 years. The double-billing figure does not include the vehicle expenses.”

What’s almost as amazing as the story itself is Driver’s reaction to the findings. His initial effort at damage control made Linda Harper-Brown look like Karen Hughes.

“Now you’re scaring the heck out of me,” Driver told the AP, adding: “It pretty well screws my week.”

Ya think?

Later in the story, Driver says, “If I knew it was wrong, I wouldn’t have done it that way. I wouldn’t have done it just to make money.”

In Driver’s defense, he did warn us that he wasn’t a numbers guy.

Driver’s campaign actually did put out a real defense Monday night. Here it is, in its entirety:

“After reviewing the facts with ethics specialists in the Texas House it is clear that an inadvertent mistake was made in my campaign expenses.”

Republicans grow desperate.  Stay tuned to Texas, and send money to Democrats if you can.

Here’s Hector Uribe at the State Democratic Convention:


Texas Democrat candidate won’t shake Obama’s hand

August 9, 2010

Some e-mail is more entertaining than others.

Linda Chavez-Thompson, the firebrand candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor who has incumbent David Dewhurst so rattled he can’t debate her, was scheduled to introduce President Obama at an appearance in Austin today.

Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson

Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson, on the view screen, addressing the Texas Democratic Convention in June - photo by Ed Darrell

Chavez-Thompson might be expected to shake his hand first, but she said no.  Let her explain it:

Friends,

As you may already know, President Obama came to Texas today. And no, I didn’t shake his hand.

I walked up straight to him, stared him in the eye, and greeted him with a warm abrazo (hug).  Because that’s the way you greet a fellow laborer.

And yes, I consider Barack Obama a laborer.  As I told the crowd while introducing the President at the DNC event:

“He’s taken on the economy.  He’s taken on health care.  He’s taken on Wall Street.  And he doesn’t back down.

What he does do, and Texans respect this, is extend his hand across the aisle in a spirit of bi-partisanship.  After all, the challenges Americans and Texas families face don ‘t come with a Party label on them.

But when his offer is not reciprocated, he does what any Texan would do. He does the work himself, because at the end of the day the work still has to get done.

There’s nothing brave about ignoring problems.  We had eight years of that.  Bravery is going out in the hot sun and doing the hard work it takes to make things grow.

And that’s coming from the daughter of a cotton sharecropper, so I know what I’m talking about.”

For too long Rick Perry and David Dewhurst have been ignoring the problems in Texas.  Today Texas has the highest share of minimum wage jobs in the country, and even the Texas Association Business has warned that we will not be able to compete for the higher paying jobs because too many students are walking out of high school without a diploma.

I’m traveling across Texas to hold Rick Perry and David Dewhurst accountable.  And believe me, this isn’t about politics — it’s a responsibility we all owe to our children and grandchildren.

I’ve never been afraid to go out into the hot sun and do the hard work it takes, but I need your help.  Your contribution of $25, $35, $50, or whatever you can afford will help me spread the word and let Texans  know what’s really at stake this election.

As I told the President when I welcomed him to Texas, I wasn’t just speaking for myself, but “for the millions of Texans who voices are too seldom heard.”

Please contribute what you can today and together we’ll make sure the voices of working Texans are heard.

Un abrazo a ti también,

Linda Chavez-Thompson

You might do well to send her campaign $5.00, or $500 if you can afford it.

Linda Chavez-Thompson wowed the 2010 Texas Democratic Convention - IMGP4286

Linda Chavez-Thompson wowed the 2010 Texas Democratic Convention in Corpus Christi - photo by Ed Darrell


Republican fear tactics driven by cowardice?

August 4, 2010

Soon-to-be former-Representative, Bob Englis, R-South Carolina, has a story to tell about Republican politics going off the rails, told in Mother Jones magazine:

For Inglis, this is the crux of the dilemma: Republican members of Congress know “deep down” that they need to deliver conservative solutions like his tax swap. Yet, he adds, “We’re being driven as herd by these hot microphones—which are like flame throwers—that are causing people to run with fear and panic, and Republican members of Congress are afraid of being run over by that stampeding crowd.” Inglis says that  it’s hard for Republicans in Congress to “summon the courage” to say no to Beck, Limbaugh, and the tea party wing. [emphasis added]  “When we start just delivering rhetoric and more misinformation  . . . we’re failing the conservative movement,” he says. “We’re failing the country.” Yet, he notes, Boehner and House minority whip Eric Cantor have one primary strategic calculation: Play to the tea party crowd. “It’s a dangerous strategy,” he contends, “to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to Sara Ann Maxwell.

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White men gave civil rights to women, blacks and Hispanics?

July 16, 2010

It’s maybe an apocryphal story. Republicans in Texas hope so.

It was at a very large, mostly African-American church in Dallas. The social action committee, or whatever it’s name is, was meeting. The only white guy in the room was there to try to get them interested in the elections for the members of the Texas State Board of Education. Normally these races are sleepers, down ballot, and off the radars of almost all interest groups. The social action committee was just as tough an audience as any other group with limited resources and limited time to try to get good political action.

Besides, a good chunk of Dallas is represented by Mavis Knight, an African American who is a pillar of common sense on the Texas education board, and Ms. Knight’s seat isn’t being contested in 2010. Why should Dallas voters be interested in any of these races?

“Before we start talking,” the lone white guy said, “I’d like to show you some of what has been going on in the Texas State Board of Education over the last year, in their work to change social studies standards.”

And he showed the video below. The entire committee grew quiet, silent; and then they started to shout at the television image. “What’s that?” “Is he crazy?” “He said white men gave us civil rights?”  “HE SAID WHAT?”

A 58-second video clip that could greatly animate electoral politics in Texas. The comments came fast and loud.

“That was part of the debate?  What, are they crazy down there?  Don’t they know history?  Don’t they know the truth?  They aren’t going to tell our children that Martin Luther King didn’t work to get civil rights, are they?  They aren’t going to say Martin Luther King died, but some white man gave rights to African Americans — are they?”

It’s a video clip that every Republican candidate in Texas hopes will be hidden away.  The Democratic tide that has swept Dallas County in two consecutive elections threatens to stop the Republican stranglehold on statewide offices in November, if those who voted in such great numbers in 2008 turn out again.

There are other stakes, too — the Republican stranglehold allowed the state education board to gut science standards, to eliminate Hispanic literature from language arts standards, and to try to change history, to blot out Thurgood Marshall and as much of the civil rights movement as they could hide.  So Texas children get a second-rate, incorrect set of standards in social studies, in English, and in science.

Republicans have declared war on good education, war on the children who benefit most from good education.

So, according to Don McLeroy, who lost the primary election to keep his seat, this little piece of history, below, is inaccurate. Tough for McLeroy — the Schoolhouse Rock video sits in too many Texas school libraries. Sometimes, the facts sneak through, defying the best efforts of the Texas State Soviet of Education to snuff out the truth.

But don’t you wonder what every woman, African American, and Hispanic in Texas will think about the importance of the 2010 elections, when they see what Gov. Rick Perry’s appointee to chair the SBOE, thinks about how civil rights were achieved in the U.S.?

Over at Republican headquarters, they hope that story is apocryphal.

Video of the Texas State Board of Education from the Texas Freedom Network.

Here, you can make sure other voters see this video that Don McLeroy hopes you will not see:

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What scares Texas Republicans? How will Texas Democrats push into the future?

July 14, 2010

Scholars & Rogues summarized the Texas Republican Party platform.  It’s all about “deviant sex,” S&R finds.

Compare it to the Texas Democratic Platform (education planks only, here — rest of the platform here).

Bill White, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Barbara Ann Radnofsky and others are clearly superior candidates running on a real, pro-Texas, pro-business, pro-family platform. Help Texas, help America, help yourself:  Support them and give them your votes in November.

Texas Democratic Party platform word cloud

Texas Democratic Party platform word cloud


BP Republicans

July 12, 2010

Heh.  The facts are leaking out, so to speak:  BP Republicans.


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