Biden Farewell to Texas*

Well, I'm off. I have packed my bags and am headed to some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where the the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano...I'm talking about a little place called the Democratic National Convention.

Tomorrow I will be arriving at a MeanRachel unapproved hour of 8 AM in Denver, where Cash will pick me up and I will get to see a softer side of Denver over the weekend. And by "softer side" I mean "the piano bar Sing Sing."

Starting Monday, I'll be blogging the DNC action over on the Texas Observer blog which you can follow here. Add it to your Google readers, your bookmarks, or just tattoo it on your arm.

Next Friday, after what promises to be the most exciting four days of my life, I am headed up to Juneau (that's Alaska) for my cousin's wedding. It will be a bit of a shift in scene but I will return to my MeanRachel hovel and update you accordingly on how cold I will be because I didn't pack enough sweaters.

And with that, from the great Senate District 25, home of ElliottNaishtatforPresident.com and the world's most boring Mexican bat colony, birthplace of yours truly and another girl named Rachel Farris who is also my age, I move to adjourn this blog for the next six days!

*My most favorite pun I've ever conceived.
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Update: Valinda Bolton Answers the Call!

Wow. I've got to hand it to Representative Bolton, Elizabeth Hartman her campaign manager, and all the other players who somehow made a sign appear overnight 1.23 miles from my residence and on my morning commute route. That's some serious action!

Every morning at 8 AM I will think "Vote for Valinda!"


Also thanks goes to Rep. Bolton for her Highway 71 Improvements, making my commute safer!



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Hot Bloggers: Urban Myth or Exercise in Futility?

If this is the kind of lingerie photo you'd like to see in the Hot Blogger Calendar, then I suggest you nominate me post-haste.

Miss April: "Sexy flight attendant meets organ grinder monkey."

Shout-out to Credentials and FUBAR for the tip, who heard about it from Pink Lady shilling for noms and wine (as usual) on her blog.
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An Open Letter to B-Rock

Barack,

It's now 12:20 AM and I'm done. At least for the night. I've been staring at my phone waiting for you to text me all day, but it just blinks back at me: 0 new text messages.
My friends say that it probably has something to do with you having ego issues, but I'm thinking maybe you just had a long day and didn't get a chance to fill me in on your veep choice. Maybe your cellie broke? I hear those new iPhones are kinda buggy.
Either way, I'm done making excuses for you, at least for tonight. Everyone said you'd text me by today. They always say "Wait three days after a date, four if he's a real player." Well, it's been three days. I'm sorry for bringing up children so early on. But a woman has to have priorities! In this day and age, you've got to vet your BBFs as carefully as you vet your VPs.

Love you, miss you. Call me. Or just text me. Whatever works best for you.

xo
MR

p.s. B-t-dub, that whole smoking thing? Total turn-off. But I'm willing to work through it with you. I texted you my number again, just in case you lost all your contacts or something.
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An Open Letter to State Rep. Valinda Bolton

Dear State Rep. Valinda Bolton,

Might be time to put up some signs. I passed by two, 4'x6' signs for the Politician Formerly Known as Terry Keel yesterday -- one at the corner of Hwy. 71 and Bee Caves, and one when you come off the frontage road off of Davis and Mopac.
Sign at 71 & Bee Caves (calm down, I was at a light).

You've got a lot of presence at all the TCDP events but it's time to start reaching out to the Hybrid Suburban-driving masses (has anyone seen these, by the way? Talk about oxymoron)!

Just trying to get a majority.

Your constituent,
MR
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Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round-Up

It's Monday, and that means it is time again for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly round-up.

To kick the week off right, the TPA is unveiling its newly redesigned website where you can connect with the Alliance and our member bloggers via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, DFA, Party Builder, Ning and other social networking tools.

Mike Thomas of Rhetoric & Rhythm looks at a week's worth of opinion columns from the San Antonio Express-News and determines there is a nearly three-to-one imbalance of conservative/Republican columns compared to liberal/Democratic ones.

On Bluedaze, TXsharon busts the myths that Natural Gas is cleaner, that shale drilling will make us safer, and that Domestic Drilling can make us Energy Independent.

There was no attempt of a citizens' arrest of Karl Rove while he visited Houston last week, raising money for Texas House Republicans. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs hoped it would happen, to no avail.

WhosPlayin is concerned about operators wanting to drill for gas in Lewisville's urban forest area near Central Park.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why sexual assault equates to perjury - wink, wink - if you're a person of power in Texas.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on HD-52 Democratic candidate Diana Maldonado's opponent Bryan Daniel sharing his campaign office with a local charity, IRS Complaint Filed Against Round Rock Charity.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the possible effect Libertarian candidates may have on some close State House races.

Texas Liberal uses the ancient epic Gilgamesh to discuss reactions to vulnerability and innocence in both the ancient and modern world.

McBlogger takes a look at the latest Republican fundraising pitch and finds that it's only appealing only to the same geriatric patients who are McThuselah's base. And those elephants are very tacky.

This week jobsanger is outraged by an Arkansas city that's trashing the Constitution and a small Texas country school that's allowing teachers to carry guns.

refinish69 awards the Infamous Cheese Tray Awards over at Doing My Part For The Left.

Mean Rachel supports Obama but argues against Maureen Dowd's assertion that Hillary Clinton's appearance in Denver will "dampen the dreams of our daughters."

Libby Shaw puts the pieces together for us over at TexasKos in his dairy Military Contractors Charge U.S. Taxpayers $85 Billion. Not only are we NOT saving money by outsourcing military support functions, we are pissing off people worldwide. Worst of all? Eisenhower's worst fear has come to pass, the MIC is real , alive and in control....

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog marvels at the coming Charlie Wilson Chair at UT, which will become the first Pakistan Studies chair in the nation.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at a scandal that links State Sen. John Carona (D-Dallas) to a condo development in Houston that is falling apart.

Don't forget to check out other TPA member blogs for the latest news on Texas and national politics:

The Agonist, Asian American Action Fund, B & B, Bay Area Houston, Beginning to Wonder, BlueBloggin, Bluedaze, Brains & Eggs, Burnt Orange Report, Capitol Annex, The Caucus Blog, Common Sense, Dallas South Blog, Dig Deeper Texas, Doing My Part For The Left, Dos Centavos, Easter Lemming Liberal News, Eye on Williamson, Feet To Fire, Grassroots News U Can Use, Half Empty, In The Pink Texas, jobsanger, Latina Lista, Lubbock Left, Marc's Miscellany, McBlogger, Mean Rachel, MindSpeak, MOMocrats, Musings, North Texas Liberal, Off The Kuff, Para Justicia y Libertad, The Red State, Rhetoric & Rhythm, Same Blog, Different Day, South Texas Chisme, StoutDemBlog, The Texas Blue, The Texas Clover Leaf, Texas Education, Texas Kaos, Texas Liberal, Texas Truth Serum, There... Already, Three Wise Men, TruthHugger, Who'sPlayin'?, and Xpatriated Texan.
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Barack Roll

You know what they say about idle minds...

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Breaking News from Elliott Naishtat's Office!

An anonymous source has reported that Naishtat's 92 year-old Aunt Charlotte in Brooklyn, upon hearing the news that Rep. Naishtat doesn't have a website, exclaimed:

"Get with it!"
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The Dowdy Woman.

My mom emailed me a link to Maureen Dowd's New York Times op-ed today titled Yes, She Can. There was no subject line to my mom's email, no comment, no "Love, mom." Just the link. The piece starts off with Dowd doing a little fly-on-the-wall imaginary reporting on what "Hill" must be up to right now -- while Obama frolics in Hawaii, Dowd thinks Hillary is "busy planning her convention."

Dowd paints Senator Clinton as the American Girl doll that everyone wishes she'd hurry up and be, but knows she never will, because American Girl dolls don't live through sex scandals. She makes a few references to the speech lineup for Denver, which puts Senator Clinton headlining Monday night and Bill Clinton stealing the show on Wednesday night, before the "genteel veep choice."

At the end of her SlimFast-fueled analysis of Hillary's "solipsistic behavior," Dowd springboards off of the Obama-authorized statement that was added to the platform saying that sexism in the media will "dampen the dreams of our daughters." You can practically hear Dowd stomping her stilettoed feet when she insists that instead of media sexism, Democrats should have called out Hillary Clinton herself in the platform:
It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

Hold your Hermes.

I may be an Obama supporter, but I bristle when a woman who doesn't even have children (in fact, has never been married -- I smell Eau de Bitter) starts making blanket statements on what will dampen the dreams of our daughters.

Senator Hillary Clinton -- she does have a formal title, Maurie, you'd be wise to use it --may not have won but that certainly doesn't mean she's failed women across the country. Someone coming within a Tweezerman's length of being nominated for President does not "wildly mismanage" make. She ran against one of the most well-spoken, well-timed candidates ever. Both candidates proved that at least half of America is ready for someone other than an old, white male -- but Hillary did it while carting around the pasty carcass of her old, white male husband, him trailing behind her like last season's Prada luggage.

And if you think that Hills is dampening the dreams of our daughters, "our" being the collective America, then you obvs haven't checked the Facebook status feed lately. Dreams are being dampened not by politicians or feminists but by not getting the new iPhone or having the Exxon card confiscated for bad grades.

Wake up. Our daughters were raised by Carrie and Big, The Real World and Road Rules. How can you assume they even care about the real world when all they know is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped? The only way they'll ever wake up is if the process starts to get different, and if that difference creates actual change. We need more women like Hillary Clinton, more men like Barack Obama, more of anything but the same.

So love her or hate her, give Senator Clinton a little bit of respect, a little Aretha Franklin-style honor. You reducing a woman's razor-close race for the White House to a girl gone wild in Nordstrom's with an AmEx does nothing but...well, you know. The line about "our daughters."
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We've All Got Friends in Low Places

So there's been a lot of chatter about John Edwards and his "zipper problem" -- my favorite expression ever that some old woman said to me when describing Clinton's (President Circle-Arrow, not Senator Circle-Plus-Sign) infidelities. In Texas, everyone's been a-twitter (and not in the meta sense of the word) about the fact that Fred Baron allegedly paid to have Edwards' baby's mama floozy aide Lewinsky 2.o mistress moved "away from these folks."

Aside from the fact that I a) don't care about the moral implications of cheating politicians (um, quite frankly, there are enough cheating-regular-folk storylines that I have to keep up with) and b) don't care about the moral implications of cheating politicians, I think it's a little old. I mean, we've done the Clinton thing. We've done the Spitzer thing. Republicans really ought to take my own personal point of view on life which is that all men are lying assholes, and then they'd be way better off.

Bitter? Me?

No...I'm just a Democrat.

Anywho, whatever way you slice it, I find it rather uncanny that while all of this bru-ha-ha unfolds surrounding Fred Baron and John Edwards, who just canceled a keynote at a fundraiser here in Texas, Senator John McCain plans on attending a fundraiser sponsored by Ralph Reed, a buddy of the esteemed former lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.

I'm sorry, but the last time I checked, this isn't some Muslim country (right, Congressman McCaul?) where adultery, infidelity, or just general horn-doggery is a criminal felony. This Edwards business ain't exactly something that is punishable by stoning (as much as I would like to go three rounds with my ex and a few large chunks of granite).

But I am pretty sure that Abramoff is currently serving prison time for charges on conspiracy, tax evasion, and honest services (excuse me while I snort wine out of my nose).

I dunno. Seems like maybe the Republican nominee, aside from making sure he keeps his poker out of fire, should also be making sure he doesn't get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Am I crazy?

No...I'm just a Democrat.
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What If?

On Wednesday night in Denver, Bill Clinton introduced Al Gore as Obama's running mate for VP.

Just a thought.
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Note To Self: Schedule Blockwalking Hiatus Until October.

Yesterday morning I donned the lightest-weight clothing I could find, said a prayer to the Sun Gods to be forgiving, and drove out to Elgin, Texas, the BBQ capital of the world. I was blockwalking for Larry Joe Doherty and the rest of the Bastrop County ticket. We were also cross-promoting a "meet the candidates" event in Smithville that night, which I was unable to go to because my aunt was in the hospital, but I noticed that "Bastrop Builder" got some video footage.
Larry Joe Doherty talking to supporters and canvassers in Elgin.

The morning started off with coffee and donuts, before we heard speeches from Doherty, as well as Donnie Dippel, who is running for State Rep in HD17, and Chris Duggan, who is running for district judge.

Donnie Dippel and Chris Duggan with the OBAMA plates.

Then Tequila Ranch and I attempted to blockwalk through as much of Elgin proper as possible. In less than three hours. On an August afternoon. But without incurring heatstroke. Not an easy task.

We encountered old women in nightgowns, stray black Labs with bristling hair and angry barks, and a man standing on a NASCAR doormat, wearing a John Deere hat, who requested we put signs for all of the Democrats up on his corner lot. Take that, NASCAR Nation. One door we knocked on was answered by a man's voice from inside saying "It's open!" What's the protocol for that?

At one point we walked by what could only be described as a hole in the wall bar called Mando's and TR and I exchanged knowing glances. If it hadn't been for our desire just to get the blockwalking over with, I think we likely would have ended up escaping the heat and tossing back a few.

A huge MeanRachel shout-out goes out to el viejo Fernando, who saw us walking by at around 1:30 PM and cautioned "It's too hot to be out walking around." We sat in Tequila Ranch's car, which we'd parked under about three square inches of shade provided by a large bougainvillea bush outside of Fernando's house, and gulped down warm water and naranjas which TR had been smart enough to bring with her. Moments later, Fernando appeared with two ice-cold Dr. Peppers and muffins. Democrat or Republican, I don't care, that man was a godsend.

Dios mio
. Blockwalking during a Texas summer sure isn't fun, but it's about as close to walking uphill both ways to school in the snow as I'll ever get.
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I hope he eats his Wheaties!

If anyone cares to go hear about "issues" that McCaul has been working on (which would be...lowering pay for women? Voting against CHIP? Being a tool?), and likes waking up at the crack-ass of dawn to be pandered to, I suggest you head down to the good old UT Club.

I'll pass. There aren't enough Tums in the world to get me through a breakfast like this.




Congressman McCaul speaking at MBC Breakfast, Wed., Aug. 6th, 7:00am-8:30am, UT Club at Darrell K. Royal Stadium, $15, can pay at door.
Since 1984, the Metropolitan Breakfast Club (MBC) has provided a weekly
forum for Members and Guests to hear community and business leaders speak
out. It is also a place to enjoy good company, do business, and have a
great buffet breakfast at the University of Texas Club. Time:
7:00am-8:30am

August 6: Congressman Michael T. McCaul - will give a congressional update
highlighting the issues he has been working on in Washington D.C.

$15 breakfast to register: http://www.mbcausti n.org/reservatio ns.html
meets at UT, at Darrell Royal-Memorial Stadium, free parking.

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Put the "Obama Sucks!!!!" Note On My Car Last Night


Dear Person Who Put the "Obama Sucks!!!!" Note On My Car Last Night,

Thank you for weighing in with your political perspective on a piece of dual-column legal paper last night. I appreciate you taking the time to find the most yuppie-way in the world to air your grievances. Whatever happened to keying someone's car or slashing their tires?
I will be submitting a copy of your note to Passive Aggressive Notes, but I don't even think you achieved passive aggressiveness, just plain blissful ignorance.

Peace,
MR
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Hello Smoke. Meet Mirrors.

It is easy, on a painfully hot day in Texas, standing at the pump and watching the mirage of dollar bills evaporate in front of your very eyes as gasoline gurgles out at $3.89 a gallon, to feel a sudden hot-flash of absolute rage towards the gas situation. Sometimes while driving home from work, I daydream about how much further my current paycheck would go if I was making it in 2002. Or, heck, even six months ago. But it's best not to ponder these things, especially when you pull up to a stop light next to a homeless person dripping with sweat, or drive by vacant strip malls whose "For Lease" signs advertise a homeless economy. So I just keep repeating my daily affirmation: I'm lucky to have a job, I'm lucky to have a job.

Our world is so consumed by the gas prices right now that it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. Or the responsibility for the dependency. It's too easy to go down the rabbit hole of "Drill now!" and allow ourselves to get distracted by our text-message-trained, I-wanted-relief-yesterday psyches. And the Republicans have realized this. They've spent this week capitalizing on the very sense of urgency that Americans are most prone to responding to in their favor: fear of America's demise, fear of our own status-symbol empowerment fading, and -- the classic Republican stronghold -- the sense that the only way to be Rich Like Them is to side with Them.

So the Republican Congress made a bunch of noise on Friday about Speaker Pelosi not holding a vote on offshore drilling before the August recess, staying on the floor of the House long after the lights went out and demanding a special session be called to allow the vote. One of Texas's most vulnerable Congressmen, John Culberson, even "Twittered" from the floor of the House, attempting to give the showdown a team mentality:

This is a huge peprally to give America a vote - just let us vote - to drill here drill now to get us through the next 10 to 15 years

01:35 PM August 01, 2008 from TwitterBerry

To which I say: Then what?

Incidentally, Culberson made no reference to his vote, along with my other favorite soon-to-be-ex-Congressman Michael McCaul, against the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill ended up passing, thanks to every Democrat and 14 running-scared (and wisely so) Republicans, despite the fact that 178 Republicans voted against it. From Feminist Majority Foundation:

Dr. Evelyn Murphy, a PhD economist, the former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, and current president of The WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) Project, also testified at the hearing. Dr. Murphy explained that the existing gender wage gap will result in a young woman graduating from high school today making $700,000 less over the 35 years a woman typically works than a young man graduating at the same time. The disparity increases for women college graduates, who will lose $1.2 million over their work lives, and for those with law, medical, or MBA degrees, who will make $2 million less than their male counterparts.
So, here's the thing. And this is important.
I'm a woman. And I am dependent on gasoline. But I'm also dependent on a salary, and on equal rights, and on fair pay. And if you're going to give me, a woman, the option between drilling offshore in the hopes of "getting through" the next 10 to 15 years, or creating a fair and equal paycheck for me to get through those 10 to 15 years with, I'd go with option B. Because while I'm not exactly in favor of paying $4 a gallon to get to work, I'd like to hope that once I got there, I'd be making the same amount as (or more than) my male counterparts.

I'm not quite there yet, I guess. I'm not quite ready to sacrifice a few thousand oil-soaked birds in order to be able to buy some new bookshelves at IKEA with my paycheck that I can only assume is equal and fair.

So stop trying to distract me. I'm a fair woman, but (in the words of Colonel Jessup) this fucking heat, well, it's making me absolutely crazy.
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Breaking news from The Onion!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled weekend to inform you of the grand opening of Linens-N-Shit.

Gotta run. There's a wreath-box and some other shit with my name on it for 20% off. As my dad would say, a bargain at half the price.
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Noriega Town Hall Meeting Starts at 1:30 PM CST.

Streaming .TV shows by Ustream
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Wise Words from Watson

Good stuff. Kirk Watson's "Watson Wire" emails are always insightful, well-written (seemingly by him instead of some staffer) and have depth beyond the "Hey, remember me?" B.S. that so many (read: the McCaul Minute) choose to put out.

This one is especially worth the read.




At some point, a tragedy is more than an isolated mishap.

With this week's stunning report of negligence and neglect leading up to the fire at the Governor's Mansion, the time has passed to ask serious questions about competence in running state government.

To start, let's reject the notion that this was an isolated, unpreventable act. Let's not allow claims that the Texas Department of Public Safety – and, more than that, the leadership of the State of Texas – is nothing more than a victim.

No, for once, let's look at things more broadly. Here's a short, sobering list of only the scandal and incompetence that's made headlines recently:

-- The Texas Youth Commission, the agency charged with rehabilitating young Texans who break the law, is under receivership like some bankrupt Savings & Loan because some state employees, who were supposed to protect these kids, are instead accused of physically and even sexually abusing them. Just this week, we learned in the Dallas Morning News that after more than a year of the strongest reform the leadership could muster, many of these kids are receiving "poor schooling from overwhelmed teachers plagued by badly designed programs."

-- The Texas Department of Transportation – once an agency so effective that we bragged about it to the world – has become a rogue element in state government: "losing" a billion dollars, enraging citizens and legislators regardless of party or constituency, and drawing its own recommendations for receivership.

-- The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees the state's meager efforts to ensure its citizens stay healthy, turned vital operations over to a private vendor that wasn't nearly up to handling them. In the process, tens of millions of dollars have been wasted and dedicated state employees are scrambling to pick up the pieces.

It goes on and on. Stroll among the committee rooms during a legislative session, and the conversations weave a dreary tapestry of the failures by Texas' leaders to protect, serve, and meet the needs of the People of Texas.

At some point, leaders must take responsibility. And if they won't, the people of Texas have to take a long look at what's wrong.

We remain the state with the most uninsured, yet the legislative leadership refuses to pursue all available federal dollars for children's health care.

Our universities can't keep up with our state's growth, yet the leadership cuts funding levels, cynically decries tuition increases, and vetoes increases for community college budgets.

Our small businesses fret about huge tax increases and homeowners can't find their promised property tax relief, yet the leadership can't find a way to seek out solutions or even basic information in a timely manner.

And there's the Department of Public Safety, the umbrella over the Texas Rangers and the one-time ideal for Texas law and order.

But now, according to its state reviewers, we have an agency that has a phobia for technology, doesn't look at all of its own data, and would sooner ship its people across the state than modify its habits to be more effective.

And, according to this week's report on the Mansion fire, we have an agency that forces good officers to beg for adequate protection of the state's treasures; that doesn't check or repair its security equipment; that employs senior officers who won't even ask for needed resources; and that fails to prepare its people for potential emergencies.

Taken together, it all resembles a fantasy of someone looking to drown the people's government in a bathtub – or, if you will, burn it to the ground.

But the Mansion fire isn't only a symbol. It's a symptom of the self-interested neglect and mismanagement that have come to define those who purport to lead this state. While Texas is blessed with dedicated, hard working, public service-oriented employees, they have been denied the tools and leadership they need.

Texas, and every Texan, deserves better. It's time to demand a government that works.

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