Archive | March, 2010

Hutchison’s delusions of relevance

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has scheduled a 10 am media availability in San Antonio to announce her 12th story on what she plans to do – stay or go. She will announce that she’s staying. This marks the first time in her previous 11 fictional tales regarding her future in which she has decided to play straight with Texans – all her previous utterances on the subject were obviously lies.

Not a single one of my Democratic colleagues is surprised. In fact, most if not all of us who are frequently quoted in news stories have long been on the public record that she would ultimately not resign. I’m not sure who Hutchison thought she was fooling. By the looks of the Republican primary election results, in which she lost by over 20 percentage points, it appears she wasn’t even fooling many Republicans.

But now it’s clear to all Texas voters that she wasn’t shooting straight with them. What remains is to see whether she will go forward from this point and shoot straight with Texas voters. During her failed primary election, she leveled charge after charge at Rick Perry. Will she now take all that back too, cynically supporting the man she accurately described as a failed governor…or will she pretend for partisan purposes that the last 14 months never happened, and support the man she said all along wasn’t good for Texas?

Don’t hold your breath for her to do the right thing.

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It’s time we came to our Census

This is census week. I, for one, am celebrating by decorating the census tree, wrapping census gifts, and singing census carols. If you don’t get a census card from me, it probably means I think you’re annoying.

Also, I requested a bunch of extra pages from the Census Bureau, and mailed in my forms yesterday. I claimed to have over 650,000 people living in my house, and they’re all Hispanic. That way, my address will ultimately be its own Congressional district and most of a state Senate district, and it’s all covered under the Voting Rights Act. My back yard will soon be the site of a new post office, a Federal courthouse, an entire school district, and a hot lesbian strip club frequented by Republican operatives.

Apparently the rest of you are lagging far behind. A glance at the Census Bureau website this morning says that the national participation rate is currently at 46 percent, while Texas’ current participation rate is currently at 39 percent, which mirrors Rick Perry’s supporters’ participation rate in his last election.

According to projections, if Texans are well-counted, we should get an additional four Congressional seats. If we’re not, we’ll only get three. If Texans aren’t well-counted, we will be short-changed a cool billion bucks in federal funding for crucial programs.

At the moment, the only thing holding Texas back is Texans. And the Texan holding us back the most is Rick Perry, who couldn’t be bothered with appointing a state “complete count” census committee early in the process like 18 other states did, to help make sure Texans return their census form. This, despite Texas being the second to most undercounted state in the 2000 census.

Get off your ass and mail in your census form. It’s important.

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Political organizing is elementary, my dear Watson

Through literally thousands of candidate-generated emails, tweets, Facebook posts, blog mentions, and even print ads in Democratic Senate District Conventions in some areas of the state last weekend, you may have already heard about Kirk Watson’s “Monopoly Busters” contest.

In fact, you’re probably being stalked by at least one Democratic state representative right now on the issue. It wouldn’t be a surprise if you started getting robocalls about it before the end of the contest (even now I can practically see a House candidate somewhere reading that and thinking, “hmmmm….”).

Here’s the deal: Watson announced a few days ago that anybody can go to his website and vote for any one of the 28 House Democrats opposed on the ballot this fall. He said that the top 5 winners of round 1, which ends at 5 pm today, will go on to compete against each other in round 2. The ultimate winner’s campaign gets a $10,000 contribution from Watson, and the runner-up gets $1,500.

Watson will ultimately hand over to all 28 contestants the names and email addresses of the folks who voted for them, so the harder they work for the support, the bigger the list they will get. But clearly, the immediate motivation to House candidates is the money, and fair enough: $10k will pay for a lot of radio spots in a House district.

But here’s the kicker: the contest has been so wildly popular so far that Watson is announcing this morning that 10 House candidates, not just 5, will progress to round 2. I know there’s a House candidate somewhere who has been working his or her ass off to get into the top 5, who upon hearing this announcement will think this is the biggest pain-in-the-butt change-of-plan they’ve ever heard of.

That grumpy House candidate, whoever it is, will thank their lucky stars in November that Watson encouraged more of them work harder. In fact, if you’re a House candidate who at this point believes you have a fighting chance of even coming close to winning, it might be worth it to consider investing $10k to win the $10k, because while the immediate motivation is in the money, the lasting benefit is in the supporter list.

What Senator Watson is really accomplishing has shockingly little to do with the money. Rather, he’s encouraging House candidates to organize harder, faster, and earlier in the process. And at the end of his contest, he’s prepared to hand over to all the House candidates all the people who have already demonstrated support for that candidate, and who have already decisively acted on that support. Candidates have spent far more than $10,000 on voter I.D. programs to identify far fewer supporters than they’ll end up with in this contest. Plus, since the contest has been hyped exclusively through social media (email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs), it’s also reasonable to assume that voters in the contest have their own social media networks – their own email lists, Facebook friends, and twitter followers.

What Watson is really contributing is invested supporters who will work for their favorite Democratic candidates for the rest of the year, keep contributing their time and money, and involve their own social networks, all to help that candidate succeed.

In a state House race, the $10k would last about 3 minutes – long enough for the campaign to write the check for that radio time, or that piece of direct mail. But at the rate Texas Democrats are voting in Watson’s contest, by the end of round 2 it wouldn’t be a surprise if the top few candidates’ supporter lists don’t exceed 8,000 – 10,000 people apiece.

Would you invest a dollar to know the name and email address of a supporter who is likely to contribute his or her time, money, and social network to you for the rest of the year? Businesses pay more than that for hot leads all the time. Whether your own answer is yes or no, what Watson is very wisely doing is encouraging candidates to re-think political organizing priorities, opportunities, and timelines, and the Democratic House candidates will reap the benefits of his innovation – at Watson’s expense.

It will be obvious which candidates didn’t miss the point, because they’re the ones in closely contested races who are about to survive round 1. By extension, because they’re working hard to reach out to potential supporters so early, they’re also the candidates most likely to win in some very tough re-election battles, in marginal districts. And it ain’t just because one of ’em ended up with an extra $10k.

Go to Kirk’s website and vote for the candidate of your choice. And next time you see Senator Watson, thank him for helping to bust the Republican monopoly, and build something important.

If you want to help Kirk and the House Democrats spread the word, click on the Facebook button below to share this post with your own social network.

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Rick Perry writes a letter to his health insurance company

From the Desk of Rick Perry

To:         My Health Insurance Carrier

From:     Rick Perry

Subject: Changes to my Health Insurance Policy

Because of that nasty little rash last month, you will no doubt recall that you are the health insurance provider for my family and me. Thanks for being so responsive – the itching was driving me nuts. Also, please keep that under your hat, I know you understand.

However, as you’ve probably read in the papers, this National health care reform thing really gets my tightie whities in a bunch. I don’t know where Obama and those pesky Congressional Democrats get off.

I’m a firm believer in some stuff. As a stuff believer, I think change, frankly, is bad. I’ve always believed it was bad for Texas, but the more I think about it, the more I know change is bad for me too.

I know that under the reform bill, most of the Texans to whom I’ve denied health insurance for all these years are soon going to have access to affordable health care, and that’s bad enough. I mean, I’ve got a great health care plan through the state, so what’s the big deal? What really gets me even more riled up is that the reform legislation will change my own health care coverage.

Therefore, I request that the following changes to my own health insurance policy NOT be put into effect. These are all changes mandated by the Federal health care reform legislation which will be effective immediately or over the next few months.

1. My kids were cut off from my policy when they reached 21. Under the new plan, they could stay on my plan until they’re 26. I don’t like that. I want them to pay through the nose – it builds character. Plus I’m still pretty miffed about that whoopee cushion stunt they pulled in the middle of my dinner party with Glenn Beck. Leave ‘em off my policy.

2. Speaking of my kids, if I had any trouble getting them onto my policy because they had any pre-existing conditions, that’s fine – just leave ‘em off my policy. The Democrats have a lot of nerve trying to do away with this fine insurance company tradition. If God had wanted kids to have affordable health insurance, he wouldn’t be giving them juvenile diabetes or a heart murmur in the first place.

3. I have a “blind” trust, since I’m the Governor and all. Some of the holdings in the trust may include small businesses. Please direct those businesses to not accept the new tax credits available to make it more affordable to provide their employees health insurance. They’re probably lazy and should probably be laid off immediately before Christmas later this year anyway.

4. I’m all about good business practices, so I completely understand the desire of a commercial health plan to drop my coverage in the event I ever get sick, so please ignore the new prohibition against doing that sort of thing for my own health plan. Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out – I know people. And speaking of good business practices, that new requirement that 80-85 percent of what people pay in premiums be used on actual health care? As far as I’m concerned, you deserve a heftier profit than that – you can keep the change.

5. What’s up with the legislation increasing the number of primary care doctors? We have too many doctors now, and every damn one of ‘em opposed me in my 2002 re-election. So screw that – don’t add them. If I have trouble getting in to see a doctor when I get sick, it’s a small price to pay for doctors annoying me.

6. Under the reform plan, you’re required to provide preventive care without requiring a co-payment, and also to exempt preventive care from deductibles. I think this is wrong – I consider paying out of my pocket to help you make a fat profit to be my patriotic duty, and I intend to keep doing it. Plus, if the Democrats dreamed it up, it must be bad.

7. Except for my hair, I’m not getting any younger, so I’m already concerned about this new commie move to do away with Medicare co-payments and high deductibles for preventive care. I want to pay high deductibles and co-payments, as should all good patriots. So ignore that – make sure they keep charging me.

8. Speaking of Medicare, if I ever get to the “donut hole” threshold, just let it ride, despite the reform legislation closing the gap. I’d rather go broke paying the entire cost of my prescription drugs than have to admit the Democrats solved a serious problem.

9. This health care coverage for early retirees required under the legislation? I don’t want it. If Bill White beats me this fall and I become one of those so-called “early retirees,” I’m just going to get hired by Fox News like everybody else anyway. I’ll just jump on their group policy.

10. The new ban on lifetime and annual coverage limits is wrong-headed – it would just encourage me to get cancer, since under the health care legislation I could afford that kind of extravagance. Keep my limits in place, and if I ever hit a limit because of a catastrophic illness, dismiss me like a bad waiter. It’s the American way.

Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

PS: just chatted with my BFF Greg Abbott. Same goes for him.

[and, of course, Rick Perry will never send this memo, and Greg Abbott wouldn’t join him in it. Perry and Abbott want the benefits of health care reform in their own health coverage – they just don’t want other Texans to be well-covered, or covered at all, like Perry and Abbott already are. It’s a shame they are both putting their need to grandstand ahead of the needs of Texas families]

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Here’s a novel approach: a REAL governor

Washington State, like Texas, has an Attorney General who is suing to prevent health care reform from being implemented.

Washington State, like Texas, has a huge percentage of citizens who will benefit from health care reform.

However, Washington State, unlike Texas, has a governor who understands the issues in depth, and isn’t afraid to fight for her peeps.

Meet Washington State’s Governor Christine Gregoire, who in questioning from her state’s press corps, very effectively places her shoe deeply up the ass of her state Attorney General.

When was the last time you saw your Texas Governor passionate about fighting for you? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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This just in…

I really think that the President’s initiatives are getting the best of the Republicans.
The piece originally appeared here.

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Circle the wagons and gather up your women and children

During one of the debates in the Republican primary for Governor between Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Debra Medina, in response to somebody’s concern about Texas’ looming budget shortfall, Perry responded (and I’m going by memory here) that he’d already faced this in 2003, and that he wasn’t worried about it this time, because he’d take care of it now the same way he took care of it in 2003.

Problem is, in 2003, the way Perry and the Republican leadership took care of the budget shortfall is that they cut programs benefiting folks who don’t have deep pocket corporate lobbyists. Most notably, children and lower- and middle-income working Texans don’t have those kinds of lobbyists. In a related story, in 2003, they slashed funding for children’s health care, and hundreds of thousands of Texas children went without health insurance coverage, so the Republican leadership could brag that they balanced the budget.

So it’s notable that Perry recently said in the debate that he’d attack the problem now the same way he attacked it then, because then, Texas families felt like they were the ones under attack.

Except that now, the just-passed health care reform bill passed by Congress apparently contains a provision specifically prohibiting states from cutting kids off CHIP or Medicaid.

So who will the Republican leadership victimize next, if they can’t cut health care? What’s important to you? How effective is the lobbyist paid to protect that program? Does your priority even have a lobbyist? How much money did that lobbyist contribute to the Republican leadership?

Are the lobbyists trying to make sure we have quality neighborhood schools as good as the ones representing multinational corporate interests? Can the lobbyists fighting ever-rising college tuition rates go toe-to-toe with the lobbyists representing the big oil and gas companies? Will the lobbyists who want to make sure rural Texans have access to health care be able to prevail against the lobbyists fighting on behalf of electric utility companies?

Rest assured, when a budget shortfall looms, every decision a legislature makes is a zero-sum game: everything one interest gets will be at the expense of another interest. For every dollar I convince the legislature to invest in my deal, they will subtract $1.75 from your deal. So who do you think is protecting your deal, Rick Perry?

Governor Perry is the one who said he’d do it now like he did it before. The Governor should be asked the specifics of what that means between now and November, before Texans wake up the following June after the legislature meets, and sees the price tag of Republican legislative priorities.

When it comes down to it, it will be a lot easier to lobby voters to cast their ballots for Democrats in November, than it will be to lobby legislators to vote for Texas families’ priorities in January.

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Clueless radio talk show caller of the day, Part 2

Great news! “Allan” In Euless called back Scott Braddock’s show today! (see the post immediately below this one)

This is an example of what makes our country great. It seems Allan, who is against health insurance reform, doesn’t have health insurance, doesn’t want health insurance, and if he gets sick, would rather die than have treatment.

So, ladies and germs, I herein present to you Allan, the voice of the opposition to health insurance reform. Ain’t his mamma proud?

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Clueless radio talk show caller of the day

Meet “Allan” in Euless, a caller to Scott Braddock’s radio show on KRLD in Dallas last week. He is upset that the gu’mint is going to make him buy health insurance. Sadly, it has turned him into a frothing-at-the-mouth  rabid dog.

While “Allan” was hollering at Braddock about how the gu’mint can’t make him buy anything, Allan was driving. Presumably, he was driving on a road, in a vehicle with seat belts, air bags, a padded dashboard, anti-lock braking system, and a windshield with safety glass. Allan was talking on his cell phone, which was developed utilizing components invented by NASA. Allan’s vehicle is powered by unleaded gasoline, which is much more expensive than standard leaded gasoline used to be, but the gu’mint thought it might be important for Allan to have clean air to breathe. If Allan gets in a tight spot, he will be very pleased to be able to call the gu’mint by dialing 9-11, where a very nice person will quickly dispatch a government employee, probably a police officer or firefighter, to help Allan.

But most of all, Allan is very proud that the gu’mint can’t make him buy anything. Have a nice day, Allan.

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FUBAR-Cam update

My friends State Representative Carol Alvarado and State Senator
Rodney Ellis left the Gage Hotel in Big Bend a few minutes ago on
their cross-Texas bike ride, raising money for the Rise Schools. The
trip started a couple of weeks ago at the Louisiana border and ends in
a couple of days and 800-something miles later on the Mexican border.
Now THAT is dedication!

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Attention Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, and legislative budget writers

So you think there’s nobody on earth more dedicated to figuring out how to wade through looming multi billion dollar budget shortfalls, and ensuring that government continues to serve its citizens well?

You’re wrong.

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We go the extra mile

Burnt Orange Report? I guess they’re ok, if all you want to be is a sheep, like the rest of their 12,000 readers per nano-second.

Off The Kuff? I’ll admit that his blog has more production from their single writer than the entire Huffington Post, if you’re into things like “news” and “information” and “facts.”

Capitol Annex? Are you kidding? Vince stops writing every time he gets a paid gig. Well ok, I admit that was only twice in the last 12 years.

But clearly, when it comes to Texas’ political blogs, Letters From Texas is the place to be. Especially since we here at LFT Worldwide Headquarters go the extra mile. Sure, all those other folks will give you politics, but you want more. Like, perhaps, instructions on how to most effectively collect whale snot.

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Debra Medina trashes Texas

I live within 500 yards of two election day precinct polling places, and about five blocks from one of the most popular early voting locations in Travis County, so it’s no surprise that by election day, my area is well-populated with political yard signs of all persuasions.

Since there were so many contested judicial races in Travis County this time, and since the nomination for Governor was contested in both parties’ primaries, this was a banner year for signs. Or is that a sign year for banners? Whatever, you get the point: my neighborhood was packed with yard signs.

But after the primary election, all the campaigns, both Republican and Democratic, were very good about going through the neighborhood and removing their signs. By 48 hours following the election, there wasn’t a yard sign to be found. Literally thousands of political signs had disappeared.

Except for one candidate: Debra Medina.

Debra Medina’s yard signs are still everywhere. Up and down Cherrywood Road. Scattered on 38 1/2 Street. A metric ton of them up and down Airport Blvd., for miles.

After tweeting about it, I got a reply from a Medina supporter a couple of days ago, asking me where the errant signs are. Although my first thought was “why does that matter – her campaign should be removing her signs wherever they are,” I meekly replied to her and explained where they are. Two days later, the signs are still there.

For the record, Debra, you’re trashing up East Austin. But if you’re still trashing up my area, I’m guessing you’re still trashing up many areas around Texas. What happened to that big enthusiasm your supporters claimed on your behalf?

Note to the City of Austin: it’s clear that the Medina-istas aren’t going to fulfill their legal obligations, so how’s about you taking a break from the important work of searching out the dastardly criminals who are texting while driving, and instead collect the Medina signs, then fine Medina for every one of ’em you collect?

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Those wackos on the SBOE might have a point afterall

…especially since actual scientists can take the fun out of anything. Those pesky facts.

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