It'll be a rainer of a winter, alright.

Well done, AP:


Socialized Hate

Why does it hurt to even see the words?

“Should Obama Be Killed?”

Maybe because no one ever asked them of an Iraqi child who died with shrapnel in his chest.
Maybe because we don’t ask the question of our valiant soldiers’ lives, who signed up for wars they should never have had to fight.
Or maybe because we remember the pain of thousands dying on September 11th or one who died in Dealey Plaza.
Maybe because we care more about death panels than we do the death of our own President.

Maybe for none of these reasons.

But because of all of them, it hurts just the same.

There’s not much left to laugh about anymore. I shed a tear and wonder how Molly Ivins managed even a chuckle. But it was, indeed, a different time, when our President’s malapropisms were the bulk of our concerns, not his life being threatened by way of a Facebook poll. Social homicide. There’s a new term.

There’s nothing funny about swastikas, or slit-mouthed Jokers or effigies of hanging men's bodies. You grimace and look away, or snap a picture and wonder later why you did. “Take a picture – it’ll last longer." We’ve got a ways to go. The TV keeps flashing signs to remind us – hate on the eights. Weather on the tens.

An arsenal of security, a lot of luck and, I hope, a little Elvis might see Obama out of this. And if you believe in prayer, start praying.

Austin Hit My Limits


It's almost here.

The one event I dread annually, more than a filling being replaced and more than Christmas shopping.

I have but three words for you:

Austin City Limits.

While most people come into town for this glorious three-day cacophonous sweatfest, I try to plan my way out. It's not that I hate live music. But in my opinion, live music should be an experience, not an event. Much like camping, I shy away from ACL because I just can't get behind something that doesn't have several basic amenities: a place to sit or lie down, somewhere to rinse off my feet (weird, I know), easy access to food and water and oh yeah, a bathroom.

Throw sixty five thousand people into that mix and you’ve got a campsite from Hell. So, I just say no. I haven’t been to ACL and, barring a Billy Joel appearance, I don’t plan on going.

Every year, my friends and coworkers dutifully buy their tickets and carefully plan out their weekend in advance. Friends from out of town (one year a friend from Zurich made the trek) suddenly are calling and wanting to meet up – a nice concept in theory. I gently remind them that I never go to ACL and that this year isn’t any different, at which point they say “Oh! Well, we’ll just meet up afterward.” Yeah, at around 3 AM at the after-after party after the other one that’s after Kings of Leon. That’s gonna happen. My small office is inevitably deserted on Friday and my boss usually feels sorry for me and lets me leave early.

By the way – a Texas music festival in the summer? Newsflash: It’s still hot in Austin right now. Just because we all threw our windows open and broke out the hot chocolate last week does not mean 95 degrees is some sort of cold front. Remember the year of the dustbowl in 2005? People’s diehard listening aptitude was judged by how much dirt they had outlining their flip-flops and the Zilker Park soccer “fields” were reduced to something more resembling a rodeo arena. If I have to make a burka out of a handkerchief to attend, I ain't goin'.

No, I don’t get into ACL – the afterparties, the pre-parties, the during parties, nothing. I use it as a time to catch up on things I can’t do any other time of the year in Austin, like drive down Mopac during rush hour or find street parking downtown. There’s never a wait at Guerro’s during the headliners at the festival and if you can get down to the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail, it’s practically deserted.

So here’s to you, ACLers! May you find your happiness darting from stage to stage and enjoy that beautiful “Great Lawn” that appeared to be underwater last week.

I'll be in the AC listening to iTunes, beverage in hand, with cleaner feet.

Rick Perry and His 140-Character Ignorance

For those of you just tuning in around the nation, Texas Governor Rick Perry has long been out of touch with everyday Texans. It's just unfortunate for Perry that the current economy happens to be leveling the playing field that Texans must play on. Last week, Perry went all Kanye West on people with his news-making remarks at a luncheon. In a twang of denial that reminded this Texan of our former Decider ("I encourage you all to go shopping more") Perry pitched "...Someone had put a report out that the first state that's coming out of the recession is going to be the state of Texas ... I said, 'We're in one?'"

But if you've ever taken a look at Rick Perry's Twitter page, you'd know that he's often late to the game. He's like the Michael Scott of Texas politics, the one who doesn't realize that all of his employees are laughing at him because he's too busy screwing up something else.

"Waiting for me when I got home...Rory and Lucy...and the lovely First Lady!"
There are some things wrong with this. First of all, where is the lovely First Lady? Did she turn into a pile of monkey grass or a limestone paver? As for the dogs, Rory and Lucy, I'm not too sure they're waiting for you, Governor. They look like they're either having a discussion with the monkey grass you call the lovely First Lady or they're waiting for the cast of the 101 Dalmations to answer their prayers and save them from the DeVilles.

"Great grassroots meeting in Rockwall...100+ crowd inspite of the downpour...but we do love the rain!!"
That's two words, Governor - "in spite." As in, "Texas' unemployment numbers are tanking in spite of the fact that Governor Rick Perry refuses to say they are."

"Final interment of Red River 44 at DFW National Cemetery today. Weather may cause problems/delays. God Bless em"

Twittering about "em" and their memorial service? Stay classy, Governor.

Mayor Giuliani and America's finest...our beloved Texas Rangers.

This tweet linked to this picture:

America's finest is a black Labrador? And is that the lovely First Lady I see off to the right? She could use a trim.

Perhaps most revealing, though, was this name-dropper of a tweet:

Would this be the same Bill Bennett who gambled millions of dollars away in Las Vegas? Because if so, it means he's also the same Bill Bennett who once said on his radio show, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." And if it's the Fred Barnes I'm thinking about, who must have had to suck up hard to earn the nickname "Last Bush Loyalist," he'd also be the one who said in regards to the war in Iraq: "The war was the hard part...and it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but not as hard as winning a war."

If these are Rick Perry's dining partners, and Perry's A-list of "most intellectual conservatives," is it any wonder that he wouldn't know Texas is in a recession? His mishandling of our state and mindless Twitter remarks has led me to believe that there are many, many things he doesn't know.

But for future reference, Governor, you might want to tweet -- and govern -- with a bit more discretion.

Bill White Liftoff Party, New Candidates and Gubernatorial Gossip

Had some good times at the Bill White for Senate campaign kick off party on Saturday. It was the second time last week I saw Mr. White speak.

I spied with my Democratic eye: Olga Seelig (she'd left by the time I got there), John Lipscombe, Amy Clark Meachum (got to chat with her a bit! Nice meeting you Amy), Lainey Melnick (who said "Don't write anything mean about me!"), Karen Sage (who wasn't happy about the weather!), Cliff Brown (who said I looked nicer than my name tag, which of course said Mean Rachel) and a few electeds who were there to introduce Bill White, including Representatives Patrick Rose, Rafael Anchia and Pete Gallego.

Good sign for the White campaign? Molotov co-owner Jason Carrier, who is a bit of a news junkie I'm told, immediately zeroed-in on the Bill White sticker I was wearing when I stopped in at Molotov later in the evening. "What's he running for?" Carrier asked. "He used to be my Mayor!"

Another person I ran into was Michael Flowers, a national delegate I wrote about in The Texas Observer who had gotten involved in politics because of Obama and was thinking about running for office. And now he is. Michael Flowers is running for County Commissioner out in Elgin -- and even has a website. Representative Naishtat would be jealous.

Speaking of which, has anyone heard about Draft Naishtat for Governor? Rumor has it, it's in the works. I took a very informal and equally inebriated poll at the Netroots bash the other night and I will point out that not a single person I talked to, among some significant movers and shakers in attendance, said they wouldn't support him. One person did qualify their statement by saying they would only support him if he got a website.


"Elliott Naishtat for Governor - He's Not from Texas and That's a Good Thing."

Dare Devils: Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Death Panel

Cross-posted on The Huffington Post

I’ve chosen to ignore most of the health care rhetoric. I know what I believe—the health care industry is so clearly broken that a thousand monkeys typing explanations of benefits could come up with that conclusion—and I’m sick of hearing Republicans argue otherwise.

But on the subject of death panels, which Sarah Palin dropped into her recent Wall Street Journal op-ed with a wink, like a twelve-year old flashing a passing car—“Dare me, guys?”—I find the conservative argument bordering on the edge of delusional. Republicans like Sarah Palin need to stop playing truth or dare with people's lives.

Since when do conservatives care about anyone dying? With the exception of their fetish for protecting a few eggs produced by women’s ovaries every twenty-eight days, the Republican Party has historically shown zero regard for whether anyone lives or dies. People die every day, buried with medical bills and coughing blood from their graves. The slaughter of Iraqis is neither shocking nor awesome. Immigrants scrambling across the border are not deserving of a life in this country, legal or otherwise. Former Republican Party of Texas vice chairman David Barton, now enjoying an appointment by the Texas Board of Education, has so little regard for a human’s life that he wants to strike Cesar Chavez from the history books. In Barton’s “expert” review of Texas schools’ social studies curriculum, he says Chavez “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of others.” He forgot to add, “Who are white” after that statement.

But the most disturbing representation of a life lost was the one sentenced to Cameron Todd Willingham, who in 1991 lost his three children in a house fire in Corsicana, Texas and was sentenced to death after refusing a plea-bargain for life in prison. The New Yorker recently took an in-depth look at the case, asking, “Did Texas execute an innocent man?”

Willingham, who maintained his innocence up to his death, spent twelve years in prison going through the government’s appeals process. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, whose presiding judge is conservative Sharon “We Close at 5 O’Clock” Keller, “was known for upholding convictions when overwhelming exculpatory evidence came to light.” The court denied Willingham of his writ of habeas corpus and a month before his execution, his file landed on the desk of Dr. Gerald Hurst, an Austin scientist and fire investigator who began reviewing the case. Hurst’s report, which concluded there was “no evidence of arson,” (a conclusion which has since been reached by three additional investigations) was sent to Governor Rick Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles along with Willingham’s appeal for clemency. The board members are not required to review any submitted materials, and “usually don’t debate a case in person.” Instead, they cast their votes by fax—a process which, the New Yorker article states, “has become known as ‘death by fax.’” Even more troubling: “Between 1976 and 2004, when Willingham filed his petition, the State of Texas had approved only one application for clemency from a prisoner on death row.”

It is, in fact, Texas’ own death panel.

Health care reform, or the more conservatively acceptable “Obamacare,” at best will offer an alternative to the people who need it the most, stymie medical costs, and create change within an industry that has been allowed to run rampant. At worst, it would at least be a symbolic piece of proof that the option can be supported and improved from there.

In either case, it is not going to create a government panel to put people to death. We already have one.

“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for twelve years for something I did not do. From God’s dust I came and to dust I will return, so the Earth shall become my throne.”
- Cameron Todd Willingham's final statement, February 17, 2004

Update: From the comments below, I am putting a link to a petition asking for Rick Perry to clear Willingham's name, as well as stop executions while the methods of our appeals panels are reviewed. Please make your voice heard.

Josiah is BACK!

An Open Letter to Josiah Ingalls:

Go get 'em, tiger!


Y'all don't come back now, y'hear?

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie, who isn't afraid to bust a move, was quoted today by the Dallas Morning News as calling teabaggers "fools." He also said they garner "too much press."

Sounds more like Miley Cyrus to me, but I'll take it. Some heat from the Party Chair outside of the dance floor has been needed for a while.

This is a promising shift in tone coming from the Party and on the heels of the You Lie outrage could not come at a better time.

The $400,000 Two Word Mistake


From ActBlue (emphasis mine):

Today the nation watched you raise $400,000 in one day to help show Republican Congressman Joe Wilson the door. Rep. Wilson made waves last night by heckling President Obama, shouting, "you lie!" in the middle of the President's address to Congress.

Starting at 9:30 last night, you stepped up to say you wouldn't tolerate that sort of disgraceful, boorish behavior in our nation's capitol. For almost 3 hours this morning, you were raising $1,000 a minute for Democrat Rob Miller, Wilson's opponent in 2010. And by mid-afternoon today, you'd hung a $200,000 pricetag on each word of Rep. Wilson's outburst.

The momentum is still building. CNN, the Washington Post and the Nation noticed your efforts, and are reporting them to an even larger audience. As of this email, 10,000 of you have raised more for Rob Miller than the entire pharmaceutical industry gave to Rep. Wilson last cycle.

That's real grassroots fundraising.

It wouldn't be possible without ActBlue, and a $15 recurring donation is all it takes to make sure we're there the next time a Republican does something stupid.
Keep it going!

A healthy discussion

Those who carry the message have been trying to convince us that the above images are not of hatred but patriotism, that their sentiments are not disturbing but rational and this behavior is not disrespectful but acceptable.

Tonight, by Rep. Joe Wilson calling President Obama a "liar" during his address to Congress, we got to see a very tame example of what happens when hatred is encouraged to run rampant under the guise of political expression.

Rep. Wilson quickly apologized
, at the urging of Sen. John McCain and because -- oh yeah -- Obama wasn't lying. From the statement issued by Wilson:
"I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks."

I'm not too concerned about Wilson. He's got to be feeling incredibly disrespectful at this point and his political fate lies in the hands of his constituency. But someone needs to make it clear that this is not okay. And while Wilson's apology is nice, what happens when emotions get the best of someone with a gun strapped to their ankle?

Update: To send a message that this is unacceptable, donate to Rep. Wilson's opponent Rob Miller. Miller ran against Wilson in 2008 and got 48% of the vote. He has received over $22,000 in donations on ActBlue since the end of tonight's speech. Click here to donate any amount.

Welcome to the jungle!

There's a new site in town -- just don't call it a blog, 'cause only kids are bloggers in Texas. Political consultant Glenn Smith, whose posts often read like fulfilling discussions you've been wanting to have for a while, rolled out Dog Canyon today amid great fanfare from the blogosphere. Collaborators like slam poet and the-woman-I-want-to-meet-me-in-Hell Genevieve Van Cleve will join Smith from time to time to add other facets to the overall tone of the site.

The anchor -- Smith's writing -- is relevant, close to the heart (or at least the conscience), and will no doubt become a "must visit" for political insiders across the nation. Years of data and key talking points mined from a career in politics back up thoughtful, vibrant prose as a reminder that this political game we play always comes back to the human core.

Subscribe and enjoy.

"Hi, I'm Lt. Governor Mark Katz! Try the Reuben!"

Mark Katz is running for Lt. Governor of Texas!

The Fox article doesn't say what party he will be affiliated with. If we're lucky, it'll be the Fried Pickle Party. I once scheduled a meeting with him for 9 PM at his West 6th diner. He didn't show. He called me back the next day, apologized and said he'd "had an early drunk."

More frightening than the idea of the Kapitol Never Klosing is the fact that he wants to run the state like a business. Other officeholders have tried to use their business model to "make" government work and it's usually a huge, smelly failure, like a grilled cheese left on the sidewalk at 2 AM.

Alas. Democrats might end up with Kinky as Governor and Katz as Lt. Gov. Or we might stick with Goodhair and secede. Either way, these are looking like two options that I'm not really ready to confront. The Lone Star state is starting to look pretty loony.