Sunday, October 31, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I came across Michael Atkinson’s Hemingway novels on the new books shelf and they have been a treat. (Got that Blizz?) “Hemingway Deadlights” and “Hemingway Cutthroat” are mystery novels with Ernest Hemingway as protagonist. Atkinson nails him. From the Spanish Civil War to his Gulf Stream hangouts, Hem makes his gin-soaked way, the celebrity author, meddling reporter, impossible husband, bumbling after his megillahs through cantinas and copshops; brawling, soused, and often in over his head. His escapades also gave new light to his nickname ‘Papa.’
I can’t say how these would read for the uninitiated, but for the Hemingway buff, they go like rum and cocoanut water on a tropical afternoon, potent, nourishing, and gone before you know it. They bring to mind Stuart Kaminski’s Toby Peters novels, more humorous than hard-boiled, with a familiar voice to engage you. Good stuff.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Chupacabra Report: News that Gets My Goat
Rick Perry in the News
-The Dallas Morning News reported earlier this month that Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund has awarded $16 million to companies owned or controlled by big donors to Perry’s campaign.
Perry says that politics doesn’t figure into these awards, as they are vetted by his 16-member advisory committee (which Perry appoints) and then must be approved by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the House Speaker.
Subsequent reports show that the Governor side-stepped this process to award $4.5 million to Convergen Lifesciences, a company owned by David G. Nance, who has given Perry $80,000.
-And The Houston Chronicle’s Rick Casey reported Wednesday on allegations that the Texas Retirement System ignored
“the analyses and recommendations of staff members in order to hire outside investment firms whose principals had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Gov. Rick Perry.
“the White campaign produced an e-mail, apparently written in 2009, from a TRS executive to the chairman of the board of trustees laying out instances of staff members being told to change their recommendations and quoting a top TRS executive as repeatedly saying: "I manage a fund with billions of dollars in assets. Upsetting a board member or friend of the fund over the investment of a few hundred million dollars doesn't make sense.”
-Meanwhile, the business section has a story about the Houston Port Authority preparing to meet new EPA requirements for NOX emissions three years ahead of schedule. If Rick Perry and Greg Abbott ran the Port of Houston their response would have been to sue the EPA.
-And this week PBS ran Frontline’s first show of the season, Death By Fire, about Todd Willingham, executed for the arson murder of his three young daughters. Willingham was convicted with questionable evidence from fire investigators and testimony of the witness-for-hire known as “Doctor Death,” who cited the satanic posters in Willingham’s home as evidence that Willingham was unfit to live. The posters were of album art from Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden.Rick Perry appears in the story; first denying clemency before the execution, preventing arson experts from presenting new testimony; and after the execution, firing three members of the State’s Forensic Science Commission before they could review the case, almost keeping the story out of the news in this election year. Thank you PBS and WGBH in Boston.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Perry thinks you don't care about debate
By PEGGY FIKAC
AUSTIN — GOP Gov. Rick Perry seems to think you don’t much care that he’s skipping Tuesday night’s debate.
Make no mistake, Perry still blames Democrat Bill White for this Texas governor's race shaping up to be the first without a general election debate since 1990 (Perry said he wouldn't debate unless White released more income tax returns. White said that he had released enough and that Perry didn't get to set the ground rules).
But Perry recently went further. As my colleague R.G. Ratcliffe reported, Perry said voters aren't asking him to debate and that the panelists asking questions pose some queries that don't matter to Texans.
Perry's dour assessment came as a Rasmussen Reports national survey found 48 percent of likely U.S. voters said they had watched at least one debate this campaign season, but 45 percent hadn't. Forty-nine percent said political debates are informative, 36 percent called them useless and 16 percent are undecided.
Not quite a ringing endorsement of this eat-your-vegetables sort of campaign tradition.
But it's a higher percentage than the 33.64 percent of registered voters who turned out for the 2006 gubernatorial election (and higher than the 39 percent Perry got in a crowded field that year to win re-election).
Political scientists say debates are important because they give voters a chance to see the candidates think on their feet. You might not get out to a campaign rally, but you can turn on a debate and, just maybe, see something other than a canned message from a candidate.
You'll still get that opportunity Tuesday, just not from Perry.
White will appear along with Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto. Watch the debate, which is being sponsored by media including the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle. And eat your vegetables.
(The debate will be live-streamed on chron.com. It also is airing live at 7 p.m. Tuesday on KUHT's digital channel 8.2 in Houston.)
Ten Die in Temple Stampede
Ten people were killed and more injured Saturday when a crowd gathered for the Navrati Festival at Tildiha village in the Banka district of India stampeded. Some 30,000 people had gathered to witness the traditional sacrifice of goats. Various reports suggest the stampede was caused by the spillage of goat parts, the partial collapse of the temple, or a snake.
This should serve as a warning to people not to incorporate goats into their religious rituals. Goats are notorious for being omnivorous butt-heads. Remember; “He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”
-I found some surprises in the Sunday Op-Ed section. First Kathleen Parker describes the political conversation as “silly and absurd,” and draws examples from both parties, calling them “cynical and corrupt;” Maybe she’s more circumspect after hanging out with Eliot Spitzer for a while. Watch out for your goodies Kathleen.
And Charles Krauthammer, who usually seems to be inciting world war three, delivered an unusually even-handed column, the sort of round-up Bill Safire used to write. He calls would-be N.Y. Governor Carl Paladino the “most suicidal candidate,” Chris Coons, who drew Christine O’Donnell for an opponent, is named the “luckiest guy on the planet,” while Beau Biden, who didn’t run, the “unluckiest guy on the planet.”
Krauthammer then goes on to fawn over conservative women candidates, representing “an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot,” and to deny that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is using foreign money to fund campaign ads.
Well, as to feminist conservatives, I’ll again quote former NOW President Eleanor Smeal, “identifications have to be rooted in reality, you can’t just eat at Olive Garden and call yourself Italian.” And about the money, thanks to Citizens United v FCC, this will be the year we totally lose track of where the money’s coming from. I only hope the would-be plutocrats make such a hash of things that we’re finally embarrassed into doing something meaningful about campaign finance.
Rick Perry Caught in Bed with a Live Boy or a Dead Girl
Is this what it’s going to take? I heard one analyst say that Bill White should hope to be the underdog up until the last day before the election. Well, early voting starts today and White trails Perry in the polls by something over the margin of error. Got him where he wants him?
My own observation, from working the phones at the local Bill White for Texas HQ, shows about an equal number of supporters for each candidate, and a surprising number of undecideds. Undecided!?
Problem with undecided voters is that they are also unmotivated. Even if they fall our way, they are unlikely to make the effort to actually vote. Please impress on your friends and family the importance of voting Bill White for governor. Texas can ill afford four more years of Rick Perry’s partisanship and cronyism.
Rick Perry’s career as a corporate tool took off when as a state legislator, he went to bat for the chemical industry to stop the state from regulating pesticides. This got him industry backing to be elected Agriculture Commissioner. Next he encouraged the Cattlemen to sue Oprah Winfrey under Texas’ Food Disparagement law because she did a show that told how the cattlemen’s practice of feeding downer cattle to other livestock put us at risk for mad cow disease. Once Bush resigned and made him governor, it’s been off to the races. Want to lease Texas tollroads? Write ‘dead peasant policies’ on retired schoolteachers, buy the Texas Lottery, or sell HPV vaccines for every schoolgirl in Texas? Maybe you just want to charge high fees to administer pension funds, or invest them in connected companies. Perhaps you want the Enterprise Fund to cut a $20 million deal with sub-prime mortgage giant Countrywide Financial, or want the governor to call a special session or three so Tom Delay can pack the Texas Congressional delegation for his “permanent majority.’ The list goes on and on, pay to play is the name of the game, and the revolving door is open.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
-This from Jocahontas, daughter of Chief Charly Hoarse..
Oh goodness, Sarah Palin just doesn't quit. Shoot, that falls right into something Elena White said yesterday: Perry's campaign is trying to make this race about Washington, while Bill White is making it about Texas.
I was very impressed with Miss Elena. It was thrilling to meet someone so young and so informed. She explained the work that she had been doing for the campaign such as speaking at conventions, schools and campuses across the state, and also block-walking and phone-banking just like you and I did.
Elena talked about education a great deal, because education has only been getting worse in Texas since Perry took office. Texas currently has the most Fortune 500 companies located here out of the states, but if we cannot produce intelligent young people to join the workforce, then these companies aren't going to stay. Bill White wants to improve education at every level, starting with making pre-school more available and allowing grade-school teachers to teach real skills and not just standardized tests. I learned about project "Expectation Graduation" that Bill White and his wife began in Houston to encourage teenagers to complete high school, and he will continue work like that for the whole state. He wants to make college more affordable too, because, once again, we need educated Texans going out into the workforce. There is no reason that it should be cheaper for Texans to go to college out-of-state than in-state, yet this is often the case. He wants to make textbooks cheaper, because, again, there is absolutely no reason that a new edition of a calculus book should be required every year, nor that the books can't be available online at discounted prices. It was really motivating to hear Elena tell us about topics like this, because it's what is affecting us right now. We are the Texans that are paying tuition and buying textbooks at ridiculous prices, so being armed with Bill White's ideas to make college more affordable is very useful when I'm talking to people on campus.
Like I said, I was very impressed with Miss Elena. She is bright and quick, and has a sense of humor too. She assured us that she has seen her dad speak at a podium in front of cameras and thousands of people, and she has seen him speak at home at the dinner table too, and he's the same man. I was thrilled to meet his daughter, introduce myself and shake her hand. It was a great experience and so great to have it right on my campus.
I love you dad, thanks for thinking of me. You know, I would have a lot of great things to say about you too if you let me go around the state to promote you.
-And this to my neighbor, who gave me a screed about Bill White from Bonzer Wolf, a retired Feeb and Randroid..
Well, I've been looking at that sheet you printed for me. I found a couple of his points to be half-true. A couple more are irrelevant to this race or this state, and the rest are just plain wrong. Whether the writer is misinformed, or is being disingenuous or dishonest I can’t say. It’s too bad that the Governor won’t debate his opponent or even talk to reporters; a more open discourse might clear the air.
Have to say first that this is an example of the "wedge issue politics" I was decrying this morning. I liked White’s work as mayor because he didn't get caught up in party politics and hot-button issues, but instead found consensus among the fractious city council to address the business of the city. I believe that we have more pressing problems in this state than "God, guns, and gays."
Remember that you said that you prefer engineering issues to politics, more cut and dried, less dicey. Consider that an engineer does measurements and calculations to make a project fit the problem; I think that political science requires some yardsticks too. I try to find them by studying history and following current events. By these measures, I find our current governor sorely lacking.
Monday, October 11, 2010
In my district, Texas 22nd, right-wing dweeb Pete Olson is running unopposed, almost.
“LaRouche democrat” Kesha Rogers, having snuck past a couple of in-the-weeds candidates in the primary, is on the ballot. Like most LaRouchers, we haven’t heard much from her, but Chronicle reporter Matt Schwartz did get a press release from her last week.
Rogers actually has some good ideas. She and Lyndon LaRouche want to go to Mars; I want them to go to Mars, too.
She wants to restore the depression-era Glass-Steagall regulations that kept the US economy from melting down for sixty years; until they were repealed by a bill out of Phil Gramm’s banking committee that was unfortunately signed by Bubba Clinton.
She also wants to resurrect the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. This is an excellent idea. We could put people to work building schools, roads, parks, water projects, wireless networks; spinning boondoggle into infrastructure. As a bonus we could see Glen Beck blow a gasket when he sees those millions of unemployed setting up work camps (Nazis!).
But Kesha Rogers knows how to stay on message, and the message is from cloud cuckoo land:
“Lyndon LaRouche warned you on April 11, 2009, that the narcissistic personality of President Obama would self-destruct. That is now happening, and so we must use the 25th Amendment, to get Obama out now, and save the nation. The Vice President must now act, the Senate and Congress must now act, to come back into session on an emergency basis, take the appropriate measures to keep Barack Obama safe from himself, and then deal with the hyperinflationary blowout of our Federal banking system.
“The Democratic and Republican Parties must stand up like real men and women, as patriots of this nation, and act to relieve our psychotic President.”
Kesha Rogers thinks Lyndon Larouche is a genius and Barack Obama is psychotic. Pete Olson thinks Phil Gramm is a genius and Barack Obama is a socialist.
I think I’ll sit this one out.