Archive | August, 2009

Letters From Texas Pop Quiz

Circle the most appropriate answer:

I’m really glad I’m not this Republican judge in Houston, mainly because:

A)  He’ll probably be out of a job very very soon.

B)  He allegedly solicited sex from a defendant in his court, in return for favorable treatment.

C)  He was indicted today for official oppression.

D)  He has a butt ugly Ron Jeremy-style mustache.

E)  All of the above.

[photo: KHOU-TV]

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The Lion rests

The last time I saw Senator Ted Kennedy in person was exactly one year ago today. Very ill and against his doctor’s wishes, he traveled halfway across the country to address the delegates of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

I, like most in attendance, was awed as I heard the great roar of the Lion of the Senate that evening. I was on my feet, and moved to tears. I’m sure everybody in the hall felt that way.

Many my age, born as the turbulent 60’s began, might feel as I do about the Kennedys. They of enormous family wealth, each clearly believing that their own family’s opportunities weren’t worth as much, unless everybody else had the same opportunities – those Kennedys certainly worked at a fever pitch. The tremendous victories and stunning personal failures of the Kennedys played out on the world’s front pages for decades.

But today was the very first day of my entire life that I woke up knowing that there is no longer a legendary Kennedy fighting for me…fighting for everybody.

Those born into the Kennedy family were highly unlikely to themselves be in dire need of a responsive and responsible government. But each of them realized that other Americans need one, and they dedicated their lives to working for those other folks. Three of Ted Kennedy’s brothers even gave their lives in service to the country.

The youngest of that legendary generation of brothers is now gone – and shamefully, with important work unfinished. Who knows what leaders will fill the giant void of unshrinking and unapologetic higher purpose, when the headlines these days are filled with examples of Congressional Democrats who return home and immediately wilt like delicate flowers under the slightest crush of a single unpleasant town hall meeting?

Ted Kennedy didn’t blink, and worked tirelessly for what he, that night in Denver, called “a better country, and a newer world.” When he couldn’t run toward the finish line anymore, he walked toward it. And when he could no longer walk, he crawled, with unwavering clarity of purpose and uncompromising dedication to those he served. His enormous body of work, and lifelong record of accomplishment on behalf of others, speaks well of him, and also speaks volumes about the shortcomings of some others currently in Congress.

So, how’s your Member of Congress doing, in between all those ribbon-cutting ceremonies?

Rest in peace, Senator, after a job well done. Your equal may be a long time in coming.

Update: here’s the podcast of KRLD Radio in Dallas, during their discussion of Senator Kennedy this afternoon. The station was kind enough to include my thoughts.

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Happy statehood birthday, Hawaii!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the statehood of Hawaii.

A bit of a history lesson: A series of islands in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is our 50th state, having been granted statehood on this date in 1959.

In recent months, Hawaii has become better known to right-wing Republicans as “Kenya.”

Today is also the first day of Ramadan. I’m guessing those same Republicans don’t consider this a coincidence.

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Is that an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, or are you just happy to see me?

One Midland County sheriff’s deputy has reportedly been fired, and another four disciplined, when they asked a scantily-clad waitress in Williamson County to go outside the “Twin Peaks” restaurant and pose for pictures with the assault rifle the officers had in the trunk of their vehicle. They were apparently in Central Texas for a “criminal interdiction” training class.

Amazingly, some witnesses said there may have been alcohol involved.

There’s really no punch line here. I’m leaving that up to you. Have at it.

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Dear state legislators:

Everybody realizes that there are certain perks that come with the job. We get it. It’s no big thing. But, I’m sure it’s tempting at times for you to just pick up the phone and request one more perk.

However, it is without hesitation that I urge you in the strongest possible terms to avoid picking up the phone and requesting that on-duty police officers be diverted from their regular crime-fighting duties, so that they can stage a fake raid on your boat, during which they will “find” the engagement ring with which you will dramatically propose to your girlfriend.

You can thank me later for this crucial advice; this nuance had probably not occurred to you.

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I hear some Republicans are looking for a death panel?

I got your death panel right down here, buddy: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia criticized his colleagues for the nerve of their majority opinion, and instead says that if a guy is convicted of murder, but then is later found to almost certainly not be guilty of the crime for which he was convicted, just kill him anyway. Justice Thomas joined him in that lovely piece of jurisprudence, naturally.

Thus, Republicans: spare me your fake lectures on death panels in the future. Thanks in advance.

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Letters From Texas News Flash

Are you effing kidding me??!!

(and, they’re also changing the rules in the middle of the game, as Tom DeLay enters the picture. Gee, where have I heard THAT one before??)

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and speaking of East Texans…

One of them, obviously, has now escaped to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

(Note to KRQE TV in New Mexico: you failed to specify the make and model of the vehicle. While I realize that it’s common for news organizations to omit the name of the victim, couldn’t you make an exception this time? Because, I bet the vehicle was a Dodge Ram.)

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When antlers are outlawed…

…only outlaws will have antlers.

Note to East Texans: one of your ilk has obviously escaped and is in Austin. We’re getting tired of these unacceptable security breaches.

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South Austin destroyed in fire??

Who needs to dream up satire, when we have the crack staff down at the Austin American-Statesman’s website writing headlines like this? Gosh, I hope all my friends down in greater 78704 have survived this tragic ordeal. When will this hit CNN?

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Austin News Briefs

Austin man dies after injuries sustained at “tea party” protest

An Austin man was pronounced dead today after he sustained unspecified injuries at a so-called “tea party” anti-government protest.

Witnesses say the man, whose name is being withheld pending notification of kin, was dressed in drag, wearing a pink shock wig, fishnet stockings, high heels, and a mini-skirt. A check on publicly-available records also revealed that the man is listed on the sex offender database, and that he has three previous felony convictions, after being found guilty of swindling little old ladies of their life savings. At the time of his death, witnesses report he was burning an American flag, while holding a “Rick Perry for Governor” sign.

Police said that to avoid needless embarrassment to the victim’s family, they would likely omit from their police report the fact that the victim was displaying the Perry sign.

Austin American-Statesman sold after all

After announcing last week that they were taking the Austin American-Statesman off the market, the Cox Newspaper chain, in a stunning reversal, announced late yesterday that the Statesman has been sold after all.

Cox announced that the newspaper had been traded in through the Federal government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.

“Turns out, all we had to do is prove that we were trading in this old worn-out newspaper for a new newspaper with 10 percent more relevance, and the government would sweeten the deal,” said a Cox spokesperson. He added that finding such a publication to purchase wasn’t difficult.

Austinites depart for annual Netroots convention

Local bloggers Karl Thomas Musselman and Matt Glazer, both associated with the popular Burnt Orange Report blog, are among the Austinites who left town yesterday to attend the annual liberal political bloggers’ “Netroots Nation” convention in Pittsburg.

Over the weekend, Netroots organizers announced that attendees will be welcomed this year with a speech from former President Bill Clinton, who recently returned from North Korea on his successful diplomatic mission. Clinton is expected to discuss that and other issues.

Clinton’s speech will mark the first verifiable incidence of a blogger getting to hear about a man taking home two hot Asian women for a happy ending, without the blogger having to first log onto a subscription-only porn website.

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They’ll get my gun only when they pry it from my cold, dead…

…ginormous flabs of disgusting tummy fat.

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Scintillating stripper seeking Senate seat senses sordid shenanigans

One of the first posts ever on this blog was the story of a porn star running for public office in Italy, in a Rome city council race. Months later, we even did a follow-up post on it, complete with a campaign poster. At the time I thought Molly Ivins had been writing about politics in the wrong country. This stuff practically writes itself.

Apparently I was wrong about Molly’s geographical choices, because she needn’t have traveled very far from Texas. Meet Stormy Daniels, who has reportedly launched an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana, against David Vitter.

You remember Vitter, don’t you? He’s the family values guy who likes prostitutes. I know, I know – there are so many of those guys in D.C. these days that it’s hard to keep up. That’s why we here at Letters From Texas Worldwide H.Q. work so hard to keep you up-to-date on the seedy side of things. You can thank us later.

But, back to Stormy Daniels. See, the thing is, Ms. Daniels is also a porn star. And apparently, things are already a bit too stormy in Louisiana, because Ms. Daniels’ political consultant’s car was blown up last week. He thinks maybe it was somebody trying to send a message. It was either that, or he ignored that little warning light on his dashboard one too many times.

But also last week, Ms. Daniels was arrested, on a battery charge, thus making Ms. Daniels the only candidate for public office who can kill an advantageous news cycle faster than Kay Bailey Hutchison. It seems she (Daniels, not Hutchison, we think) may have hit her husband after some issues came up between them about unpaid bills and who was going to do the laundry.

I have questions. Many, many questions.

First: what exactly is it that qualifies her to be a United States Senator? I mean, I completely appreciate that her Wikipedia page lists many prestigious awards, including the 2003 Adam Film World “Contract Babe of the Year” award; the 2006 award from AVN for Best Supporting Actress for her amazing portrayal in Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre (which I can’t believe I missed – I NEVER get to see the movie before the nominations come out, damn it!); and as a two time winner of the F.A.M.E. Award for Favorite Breasts, in both 2007 and 2009. But still.

Second: who won that Favorite Breasts award in 2008, thus robbing Ms. Daniels of the triple crown? And what precisely did Ms. Daniels do to climb back on top in 2009?

Third: how do we know that her consultant’s car bombing was related to this political race? I mean, he could have just gotten some folks unrelated to this race P.O.’ed at him, you know? We are talking about Louisiana here.

Fourth: how did this so-called “political consultant” land the gig with Stormy Daniels (porn star), while I’m schlepping around Texas on behalf of people like Judith Zaffirini (honorary nun)? Does this seem fair to you?

Fifth: is the debate between Daniels and Vitter going to be televised nationally, or is there some website I have to join to make sure I don’t miss it? And will this site make it past my firewall?

Sixth: porn stars are married and do their own laundry??! Total buzz kill.

We will be hearing more about this. I’m sure of it.

(H/T to Karie Meltzer, who had the good sense to give me a heads up on this, and the bad sense to want credit for it)

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When you yell, we can’t hear you.

A construction guy has been doing a little work for me. The first thing I discovered about him when he arrived is that he is a proud Republican. Similarly, the first thing he discovered about me when he arrived is that I’m a proud Democrat. Hilarity ensued, and continues.

We’ve been giving each other good-natured ribbings constantly, all in good humor. He turns up the volume of Rush Limbaugh on his truck radio extra-loud, to make sure I have to listen to it. At one point I begged him to locate an old “McCain-Palin” yard sign, so I could put it in another friend’s yard as a practical joke. He said he was going to watch Sean Hannity on a fellow Democrat’s TV, just to see if the TV would break.

It’s all in good humor, and very respectful. He believes what he believes, and so do I. Neither of us is stupid; we just happen to look at the same set of facts and arrive at different conclusions sometimes. It makes neither of us evil, and doesn’t upset either of us. We haven’t concluded that the other is some sort of “inferior species” as a result of this. If anything, we’ve had more fun getting the project done, because of our differences and how we’ve handled them. None of that has required any particular effort on our part, it’s just the way we’ve handled it. It’s called “respect.”

On the other hand, there’s the recent experience of Lloyd Doggett. Apparently while I was out of town, Congressman Doggett was in town, back in the district from D.C., hosting town hall meetings to stay in touch with his constituents.

Best I can tell from talking with those who were there, the express goal of the attendees who oppose Doggett’s actions and views was not to challenge him on the issues, to express their own opposing views, or to seek understanding of his views or votes. It was simply to disrupt the meetings, and disrupt Doggett’s attempts to communicate with his constituents. In other words, to be rude. Because they have a right to be.

Far be it for me to look down my nose at civil disobedience. At times, great things have been accomplished in the history of the nation, or great evils stopped, as a result of it.

But honestly folks: chill.  Yes, you have an absolute right to get mad at what your government is doing in your name. Lord knows my peeps spent the last eight years seething, back when Molly Ivins urged us to bang the pots and pans. But just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean you should do it. Didn’t the Supreme Court also say you have the right to burn the American Flag in protest? Have you burned one lately? Me either. I bet the reason you haven’t (aside from the fact that you love the flag) is because it is in terribly poor taste and you see it as being very wrong. That’s a judgment call – to not to exercise a right, even though you can. And at the heart of your decision is probably your conclusion that you won’t do it, because it won’t work.

Here’s another judgment call worth considering: just make your case. Calmly. In a considered thoughtful way. And in your effort to communicate your views, don’t drown out competing views. You can even be heated and angry when you do it. You can, that is, if you have an actual case to make. If you’re merely whining because your team lost the election, well that’s a different story. You’re not just whining, are you?

Like my construction guy does, I believe what I believe. But on these matters, I also try to remember what a friend once said to me:

No matter how much you believe your position to be well thought-out, and fundamentally true, there’s somebody somewhere who is just as smart as you, who believes the opposite thing.

I would like to think the events of the weekend had a constructive purpose, although I suspect it had more to do with some conservative organization building its membership and enthusiasm than it did in communicating any ideas to those who might not agree. If you were part of that, very sincerely registering your frustration, please consider the likelihood that you’ve been duped, by those who urged you to behave that way.

Meanwhile, if you have ideas, maybe next time you’ll consider sharing them, in a way they can be considered. And while you’re sharing them, it might work better if you don’t treat the folks you’re sharing with as if they’re stupid for disagreeing with you. How well did it work out last time somebody treated you that way?

I’d totally listen to my construction guy’s ideas. Even if he didn’t find that yard sign for me.

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