Archive | April, 2009

SWINE FLU ALERT

Health professionals have developed a website so that you, the crap-reading public, can know immediately beyond a shadow of a doubt whether you will be a victim of swine flu.

I strongly suggest you visit doihaveswineflu.org immediately!!

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Funny thing happened on the way to the legislative dumpster

Irony reigned supreme in the Senate yesterday, involving my new best friend Dan Patrick.

Senator Patrick’s SB 357, which is a bill I’m not so sure I’m in favor of dying because it has such a catchy bill number, went down in flames in a vote in the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee yesterday morning. The vote was a tie, 4-4, and a tie is a fail, since it doesn’t have a simple majority of those voting. Since there is no way to revive a bill once it goes down unless one of the Senators voting “no” quickly changes his or her mind and moves to reconsider, SB 357 is deader than my granddaddy’s dog.

But wait, not so fast. Later in the day yesterday, 47 days after the Constitutional deadline for filing new legislation, Senator Patrick filed a shiny new bill, SB 2568, a duplicate of the bill which already failed. On one single day, the bill was filed (requiring suspension of the state constitution), referred to committee (in record time), announced for consideration by the committee (requiring Senate rule suspensions), and considered in committee, again.

Oh yeah, by the way, Patrick, who is bypassing all kinds of Constitutional and Senate rules because he didn’t muster up a simple majority vote on his bill, is the Senator who fought to raise the bar for debating legislation up to a 3/5′s super-majority.

And incidentally, the bill is anti-immigrant, and anti-small business.

Unsportsman-like?

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They call him “The Hammer”

Earlier today, House Speaker Pro Tem Craig Eiland’s son Tucker was “presiding” in the House, when the gavel splintered. This…um…hard hitting investigative report might explain why.

While I realize that this post is not up to the International Letters From Texas Standards regarding sarcasm, snark, and sleaze, it was just too adorable to pass up.

[thanks to Creative Havoc]

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Dear Texas Senate:

While you were busy doing all that Senatoring, what was the House doing? Entertaining my favorite comedian, of course. What did you think they were doing, passing your bills?

[thanks for the video, Statesman]

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Housekeeping Issues

Issue 1:
There have been a few days worth of RSS feed issues to deal with, and now that it seems to be cleared up, it seems like a great time to urge you to subscribe to Letters From Texas in your favorite reader.

You can also subscribe to get updates via email, if that’s your preference, by entering your email address in the form near the top of the right hand sidebar.

Issue B:

This would be a great time to go here and wish Mean Rachel a very happy birthday today!

Thanks, as always, for giving a damn.

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LFT Worldwide Headquarters Austin City Election Endorsements

I can’t count the number of times in recent days in which somebody has walked to up me and asked, “FUBAR, who are you voting for in the Austin city elections?” Well actually, yes I can: zero. But despite lack of demand, we herein present…

FUBAR’s Election Picks

Mayor

Lee Leffingwell. The choice is clear. Austin is not ready for a mayor named “Brewster.” Or, rather, Austin may have been ready 100 years ago, but not now. Similarly, Austin isn’t ready for a mayor who can’t even keep up with her last names or political party affiliations.

Place 1

Perla Cavazos. The other guy doesn’t even have a car, for Christ sake. This is Texas – get a car, then we’ll talk. Plus, Perla is f’ing HAWT, and that’s good enough for me. And oh yeah, she’s smart too, but apparently that’s not very important.

Place 2

Mike Martinez. Why are we even discussing this? Who the hell is that other guy? Get off my ballot, silly other guy.

Place 5

I remain firmly undecided in this race. There are rumors that Bill Spelman is favored by some.

Place 6

Sheryl Cole. She’s my neighbor, and that should be good enough for you. Vote for Sheryl, or the terrorists win.

This has been your Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters Austin City Election Endorsements. These are not suggestions – the choices are mandatory. You have been instructed.

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The Vice Chair of Vice

The Texas Legislature has always been focused on your sins, and this session is no exception.

So as a service to you, the crap-reading public, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters herein presents the LFT Sin Legislation Search Engine.

Click here for pending bills regulating sex.

Clink here for pending bills regulating gambling.

Click here for pending bills regulating smoking.

Click here for pending bills regulating drugs.

Click here for pending bills regulating alcohol.

(if any of the results generated seem a bit off-topic, don’t blame me – it’s what comes up in the applicable Legislative Council bill search)

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iDon’t think this is a very good iDea

Clearly, the folks at Apple’s iPhone division briefly lost their minds.

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The Incredible Shrinking Political Party

About that Rick Perry guy.

He’s been pummeled from all fronts lately; from daily newspapers and the blogs, to the political satire shows such as Colbert Report; because of the dust-up regarding secession.

He’s been pummeled from all fronts, that is, except for the only front that matters to him. In the process, he’s in a better position than ever to win his race for the Republican nomination for Governor. In the process, he also stands to further erode the Republican brand in Texas, puts in danger his own election in November, and makes more tenuous the political positions of down-ballot legislative Republicans across Texas.

I’ve spent the last few months as a voice of dissent, explaining to those who asked why I think Kay Hutchison could, indeed, beat Perry in the Republican primary. On paper it makes perfect sense. The economy sucks. As a result, people feel threats which are very personal to their families.

With that background, it is easy to imagine that the hotbutton issues which usually drive conservative voters when times are good – abortion, prayer in schools, taxes, immigration, that sort of thing – would take a back seat to pocketbook issues. like the jobs these voters are losing, the health care their families lost along with the job, the resulting cash crush which prevents them from paying the notes on the houses they live in, and the cars they drive.

The traditional Republican hotbutton issues are to Perry’s benefit. The pocketbook issues may not be. And with the economy in a shambles, I believed for a while that the timing was right for Hutchison to find a solid base, even among ultra-conservative Republican primary voters in Texas.

Perry’s secession comments completely changed the game.

Perry’s comment (in reality, little more than a failure to refute) tapped into a deep-seated frustration among libertarian and ultra-conservative activists, and has put him solidly back into the game. But at what cost?

Let’s back up. The last time a Democrat won state-wide was in 1994. Through long years littered with losing Democrats, Republican pollsters have advised their clients on how to win their next election: by teaching them that general elections don’t matter. They’ve told their candidates that if they want to be successful as a Republican, they must win their Republican primary, period. Which means that the only voters one must be popular with - are Republican primary voters.

And for 15 years, fair enough – and true enough. Statewide Republicans following those instructions have all taken office.

What those instructions haven’t accounted for, however, is how to grow a political party. In fact, over time it shrinks it.


If all you do as a political party is have a discussion with the relatively small group of primary voters, about the issues most important to them (and in some cases, only to them), by definition you ignore all other voters. Sure, in the short term you win the election, and you take office. But, as a statewide Republican, you also become more irrelevant and out-of-touch to all but about 900,000 voters in a state with 25 million people.

Those at the top of the majority party’s ticket always have to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. They have a responsibility to themselves to win their own election, but they also have a responsibility to their party to ensure that the brand remains strong, so that their supporters – and not their opposition – win elections down-ballot. It’s the only way to further their policy agenda. It’s also the only way to avoid the personal blame if and when the majority party suddenly isn’t in the majority anymore.

There are Republican members of the Texas Legislature who won their last election by less than 4 percentage points in the last election. They’re running in the same real estate which elected Republicans by 14 percentage points a decade ago, and they’ve watched as their electoral advantage has eroded further in every subsequent election.

If I were one of those Republicans, I would be very upset with Governor Perry right now. Perry, in his zeal to attract those ultra-conservative voters, is alienating virtually all of the voters those legislators need. Perry’s pollster would call those voters “extraneous.” Down-ballot candidates call them “the winning margin.”

For those Republican candidates, consultants, and activists who would dismiss this, thinking that somebody like me doesn’t understand Republican Party politics: how the hell do you think we Democrats found ourselves in the minority in the first place? Did you think it was because you’re brilliant?

And for those voters who have been casting votes for Republicans for a decade or more, who increasingly believe the Republican Party is out of touch: they’re not out of touch at all – they’re just not in touch with you. They’ve been too busy sucking up to protesters.

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Small Business of the Day

Have you ever wondered why Texas Democrats* are always talking about protecting small business? Well wonder no more, because if we had more business people like this, the world would indeed be a better place. I proudly present to you Jones’ Good-Ass Barbeque and Foot Massage. Which, turns out, on review of the website, is associated with Jones’ Big-Ass Truck Rental and Storage Company. Makes perfect sense.

*despite the fact that this post has nothing to do with Texas or Democrats, it’s kind of clever how I justified this, ain’t it?

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Dear Stephen Colbert:

I was shocked and dismayed beyond belief this morning when I woke up, got my Austin American-Statesman off my lawn, and read about your show last night.

Well, ok, that’s a big lie. No actual human beings subscribe to the Austin American-Statesman, or any other newspaper in America. I actually read it on the interwebz like everybody else. But back to my shock and dismay.

Imagine my surprise when I read in Jason Embry’s First Reading that you have stolen my work product!

Here’s what the Austin American-Fishwrapper said about what happened on your show last night, April 20th:

Stephen Colbert on Monday weighed in on Gov. Rick Perry’s slight hint that secession isn’t out of the question for Texas. (It really is by the way). Colbert said, “Oklahoma better get to work on that border fence.”

Meanwhile, here’s what I said here, on April 17th, which was also published with my permission on Burnt Orange Report the same day:

…we must take issue with the border wall your country is now constructing, segregating us from the American states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Well, we don’t mind the Oklahoma wall so much, but you get the point.

Even as we speak, my massive team of lawyers at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters is gearing up to sue the dog snot out of you, Comedy Central, parent company Viacom, and the Austin American-Statesman. We will then quietly drop the Statesman from the suit, because they haven’t actually done anything wrong, plus they’re dead broke anyway. We will be seeking damages well into two figures.

You have been warned, bucko.

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Desperate Cries for Help: Your Faithful Correspondent in the News

Here’s Republican consultant Ted Delisi, Statesman reporter Jason Embry, and me discussing everything under the sun Sunday morning on KXAN’s “Session ’09 In-Depth” with the lovely and talented Jenny Hoff.

Also standing by in the studio, having been on the show in the previous segment, was Senator Dan Patrick.

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Politics makes for strange studio-fellows

Add your snarky opinion to the comments section on what you think Texas Senator Dan Patrick and I may have been discussing when this photo was snapped at the KXAN studio this morning.

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A Travelers Guide to Wackadoodleonia

Cross-posted at Burnt Orange Report

Dear Foreign Visitor:

As your guide to the sovereign state of Wackadoodleonia, welcome!

Yes, we realize you probably made your travel plans to “Texas” long before former Texas Governor Rick Perry, now the President And Supreme Commander of Wackadoodleonia, seceded and formed our own country. But despite this abrupt change, we think you’ll find your stay here in Wackadoodleonia to be an enjoyable one.

We can’t fault you for a bit of unease. We, too, thought at first that El Presidente Perry was kidding, when his comments suggested that he doesn’t blame people a bit for wanting to secede from the United States of America – our neighbor to the North. But then, nationally-renowned statesmen Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay weighed in, the concept caught on, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We hope you will enjoy your time visiting Wackadoodleonia, but as with travel to any foreign country, a few precautions should be taken.

First, if you’re traveling with children, please be aware that their health insurance coverage was declared null and void at our border. Please contact the Wackadoodleonia Department of Insurance for a rider which will cover your child during your visit. Unfortunately, coverage is very expensive here, when it’s available at all, so good luck.

Also, please be aware that here in sunny Wackadoodleonia, we have instituted a “no tolerance” policy on crime, including instituting the death penalty for parking violations. There are no appeals, since there are no court houses. We tore them down after we deported all the lawyers. We now settle our disputes as a civilized and free people should – with guns.

We love our U.S. neighbors to the North. However, we must take issue with the border wall your country is now constructing, segregating us from the American states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Well, we don’t mind the Oklahoma wall so much, but you get the point. Wackadoodleonians only want good paying jobs to feed their families; the fact that we are sneaking across the border into the U.S. is testament to your good-paying jobs and great employee benefits. Plus, we Wackadoodleonians are doing the jobs Americans don’t want to do anyway. So please keep that in mind and try to be a little more sensitive, mmm-kay?

Also, as a U.S. visitor to Wackadoodleonia, please keep in mind that we have very strict laws against Americans voting in our elections. That’s why we require that all voters show a valid Wackadoodleonia drivers license and an NRA Lifetime Membership card prior to being allowed to cast a vote for the Republican of their choice.

And finally – it’s true what they say, “you can go to Wackadoodleonia, but don’t drink the water!” Please note that even before Texas broke away from our oppressors to the North, Wackadoodleonia had the hightest amount of toxic chemicals released into our water anywhere in the U.S.

With those details aside, we hope you enjoy your stay, and hope you enjoyed Lee Greenwood’s rousing “I’m Proud To Be A Wackadoodleonian” over the loudspeakers as you arrived at the airport! As President Perry says, “we’re proud of Wackadoodleonia – how ’bout you?”

PS: we realize that we kind of messed up the whole look of the American flag when we withdrew from the Union. 49 stars instead of 50 just looks like crap – our bad. May we suggest that you take in Puerto Rico a state, if only to maintain the symmetry? Just a thought.

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Letters From Texas News Flash

Capitol watchers were shocked Wednesday when Lt. Governor David Dewhurst discovered Senator Florence Shapiro making out with Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy.*
*this entire post is complete fiction. My apologies to all involved. But holy crap Dewhurst has great posture.
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