Archive | November, 2010

If it’s good enough for Australia…

…it’s good enough for Texas.

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Austin News Briefs

Members of DeLay Jury Speak Out

Several jurors who sat in judgment of once-powerful former U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay were speaking out for the first time today, despite the judge presiding over the case having ruled against releasing their names to media at the close of the trail. The jury ultimately convicted DeLay of both charges against him.

Courthouse speculation during jury deliberations had been that jurors were wandering off-track, as a series of increasingly odd questions was being sent from the jury room to the judge. At one point, the jury asked the judge to explain the details of a crime DeLay wasn’t charged with, and which isn’t recognized as a crime under Texas law.

One juror, Max Sandlin, said that some jurors wanted to ask questions even farther afield, including why DeLay would not be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Two other jurors, Nick Lampson and Martin Frost, were reportedly in favor of sending the judge a note to ask if the Nuremberg Trials could re-convene, and DeLay’s fate instead be considered there.

But another juror, Charlie Stenholm, said he was content with the proceeding, and satisfied that DeLay got a fair trial.

“I think we calmed any doubts about whether a man like Congressman DeLay could get a fair trial in Travis County,” Stenholm said. “There’s no doubt that the trial was fair, and my fellow juror Chris Bell completely agrees with me,” he said.

Stenholm also offered an explanation of why deliberations stretched over several days, explaining that one juror, whom he identified as Ralph Hall, kept switching sides as deliberations continued.

Other jurors said their deliberations were further hampered because of the room in which they met. Apparently, the so-called “Lloyd Doggett Jury Room” is a difficult space in which to work, since it is only two feet wide, but almost 80 feet long.

State Representative Elliott Naishtat Briefly Hospitalized After Thanksgiving Buffet Incident

State Representative Elliott Naishtat was released from the hospital this afternoon, after a mishap involving multiple visits to several Thanksgiving holiday buffets caused him to explode.

Naishtat, moments before mishap

Naishtat, well known for accepting dinner invitations and for being a frequent visitor to buffet lines, was reportedly attending his ninth Thanksgiving dinner of the day, when witnesses say they heard a loud pop, just before Naishtat collapsed onto the pumpkin pie table.

“I don’t know how this could have happened,” said one witness. “One minute he was filling up his Ziplock Baggie-lined suit pockets with leftover turkey and dressing, and the next minute we were resuscitating him and calling for an ambulance,” she added.

Police at the scene said that no one else was seriously injured, although several were overcome by baby carrots.

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As you arrive at the airport for your holiday travels…

…please try to keep in mind that those pesky delays and annoyingly intrusive procedures are for your own safety and that of your fellow passengers.

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Murderous, immoral marauders stalk Big Bend

George Covington is among the more colorful characters living in Big Bend. A regular columnist for the Alpine Avalanche, he is both legally blind and a photographer, and was a White House advisor to, of all people, Vice President Dan Quayle. He penned the following essay, which I am reprinting here with his permission, because it is further evidence toward my long-standing opinion that since deer are a menace to society, there should be more of them in my freezer.

By George A. Covington

Prepare yourself for a tale of terror.

Robbye Stokes, a conscientious and vigilant resident of Alpine Manor, was witness to one of a number of vicious attacks that have occurred in Alpine and will occur again unless we can stop the vicious beasts. Her Westie, Nieve, was sleeping quietly on her back porch when the wee beast let out a blood-curdling scream. Robbye rushed to the door and discovered that a deer had stomped the sleeping pup. Robbye grabbed pots and pans and chased the deer away. She has had to repeat the tossing of pots and pans on numerous occasions since the vicious attack. Little Nieve was forced to wear a cast on her hind leg for weeks.

If this were only the story of one malcontent deer it wouldn’t have the element of terror we now know it possesses. Radio Ray Hendryx, media mogul of the High Desert, says his Beagle, Sweetie, came off the loser in another confrontation with the giant, four-legged rodent berserkers. He explained that Sweetie was not the brightest dog in the pack and had been known to attack lawn mowers, weed whackers and 18-wheeler trucks. Sweetie was ripped from stem to stern but damage was done only to her coat and the vet quickly sewed her up and sent her back.

An even more terrible tale of terror is told by Andy Cloud, Director of the Center for Big Bend Studies and Alpine’s answer to Indiana Jones. “I live adjacent to Ray and Rita Hendryx and actually warned them last February after I had a massive buck attack my mid-size dog (Blue Heeler-Australian Sheppard mix). Although pushing 11 years in age, she was barely able to duck the attack (so no blood)—the behemoth went over her—but she was severely traumatized over the incident. I was standing in very close proximity to her (with a four-foot cedar stick in my hand) when it happened. After the pass he stopped and looked at me like I was next. I then mimicked the ape-man in ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ and went ballistic and successfully chased the deer out of the yard. If he had charged me like he had my dog I would have been toast. He kept coming back to my backyard desert garden over the next two weeks. I had 5-6 more incidences.”

This season we must be united in our goal of controlling the rampant violence, disease and other social disorders caused by deer. Annually, 1 million deer attack 1 million vehicles, causing $1 billion in damage nationwide.

These vandals are responsible for illegally crossing our borders carrying innumerable diseases, encouraging illegal immigration, drug running, and possibly global warming. They carry dear tick fever, which causes illness among harmless ticks and the dreaded Lyme disease. For years I thought Lyme disease was an aversion to limes, until somebody spelled it for me. There may be relief on the horizon thanks to a condition called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Hope is on the horizon. Shortly, deer season will open. Men who couldn’t carry groceries twenty feet will miraculously develop the strength to carry guns, ammunition and tons of beer up steep mountainsides and down narrow canyons. We must direct this ominous force in a new direction. Rather than forcing these fearless warriors out into the harsh environs of the High Desert, everyone with a deer problem should leave a six-pack of beer on their front porch and we can watch the deer disappear.

This year we can enlist the entire family in this true war of righteousness. Don’t go lurking off into your usual hunting grounds Men of our Mountains. Teach your wife, your sons, your daughters to sling lead at these four-legged monstrosities. Remember the motto from the cult classic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”? It should be over the mantle of every home in the West. “The Family that Slays Together Stays Together.”

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TPA weekly blog round-up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is slightly distracted by thoughts of pie but still brings you this week’s blog roundup.

Off the Kuff examined the effect of straight ticket voting on the city of Houston’s ballot propositions as well as the partisan breakdown of those propositions.

Letters From Texas temporarily abandoned Texas politics in favor of seeking answers to the important questions surrounding the Transportation Safety Administration’s touching of our junk.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders how the Cameron County Judge’s race can get any weirder. Who won and how did things get so messed up?

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy takes a look at the bills concerning immigration that have been pre-filled in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

WhosPlayin posted a two-part series following air quality complaints in a neighborhood in North Texas near Barnett Shale gas wells and facilities.

Bay Area Houston wonders if Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole reported his free money to the IRS as income.

At TexasKaos, liberaltexan looks at what the prefiled bills tell us about the Texas Legislatures will try to do about the trumphed up problem of illegal immigration. Check it out : Texas Legislative Watch: Pre-Filed Immigration Bills (Part I).

Snapshots from the Conservative Freak Show: Bristol Palin and voter fraud, Louie Gohmert and the SFA instructor he got fired, and John Ensign’s million-dollar earmark.

A new contributor to Texas Liberal, a woolly mammoth named Extinct, noted that Just Kids by Patti Smith was the winner of the National Book Award for 2010. Just Kids an account of Ms. Smith’s youthful relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. As a woolly mammoth, Extinct has a long experience with both life and loss.

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TPA weekly blog round-up

Letters From Texas projected out the grim possibilities for state representative Aaron Peña as he contemplates switching to the Republican Party.

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Attention Tea Party activists who elected all those “no new taxes” legislators

There seems to be a teenie weenie snafu in your little plan there, buddy.

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If you touch my junk, I’ll leave $50 on the dresser and give you coffee in the morning

Have you been felt up by the TSA yet?

More Americans are lashing out at the new full body scanners, and especially at the resulting intrusive pat-downs from false positives, as more airports move to the new level of airport security.

A blogger famously videotaped his experience with the pat-down, during which he told them, “if you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” The comment led to him not being able to get on his flight. He was also detained at the airport for a while, and threatened with a $10,000 civil fine. Airport security had apparently insisted, even after he went back to the ticket counter and got a refund for his unused flight and had already given up on going anywhere that day, that he go through airport security prior to being allowed to leave the airport. Sheesh.

Sensing the presence of The Big Story, Letters From Texas, Investigative Reporting Division, went to the airport and attempted to go through security. We are horrified to report to you, the crap-reading public, that we were completely and totally violated. So we went back a couple more times that week, hoping to be violated some more.

By the third trip, we arrived at the security line with flowers, candy, and a dry martini to put on the conveyor belt, with Sinatra playing softly on the ipod, hoping to break the ice. But apparently the TSA employee was just not that into us. And who can blame ’em – those rubber gloves totally kill the mood.

Nate Silver says the backlash against the new security procedures is probably over-blown.

I’m guessing that at some point, TSA is going to snap to the fact that most of the airport passengers in a cranky mood because of intrusive security measures would be happy as clams with their experience, if the TSA employees had to line up for inspection, and the passenger got to pick which one gets to feel ’em up. Call it “The Nevada Security Plan.”

Meanwhile, I also pity the poor TSA employees, who probably end their shifts with plenty of complaints of their own, because they had to feel up the junk of passengers who just aren’t their type.

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Glenn Beck to kiddie porn: I’m just not that into you.

Not that anybody asked, but Glenn Beck abruptly announced on his radio show the other day that he is not into child pornography.

Well ok then, ain’t his mamma proud?

Since Mr. Beck has apparently decided it’s time to announce without provocation what people are not into, I thought I’d better jump on this bandwagon too.

— I’m not into bandwagons.

— I’m not into sheep. And if that sheep over there says a thing, she’s a damn liar.

— I’m not into mega-church ministers who are suddenly discovered to be gay, unless they out themselves in which case they’re way cool. Attention, members of Six Flags Over Jesus: your minister is a man of conscience.

Ok, that’s three things I’m not into. I guess that’s enough for today.

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Weekly TPA blog roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance is beginning to feel the holiday spirit as it brings you this weeks’ blog roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses the issue of Latino turnout in the wake of last Tuesday’s elections.

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy takes in the landscape after the storm and presents a way forward for Texas Democrats. Left of College Station also begins the Texas Legislature Watch by looking at the bills that Representative Fred Brown has pre-filed. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

Letters From Texas explained a fundamental truth to state Senator Dan Patrick: democracy is about more than two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

Killing medicaid and CHIP along with Grandma and the kids will devastate the Texas economy. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why the evil Heritage Foundation wants to hurt the Texas economy.

Mean Rachel wondered when the Democratic Party decided to become the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Republican Party.

Bay Area Houston says the GOP is giving poor Hispanic kids the bird.

Over at TexasKaos, libby shaw gives her take on “Fixing the Federal Deficit” or rather how NOT to do it while distracting a nation. Check it out : Fixing the Federal Deficit.

Neil at Texas Liberal says that where there is smoke you will not inherently find fire. Yet the smoke alone may be enough to do a great deal of damage.

This week at McBlogger, Captain Kroc takes a look at one of the newest members of the Texas Legislature.

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The system always crashes when you need it the most

Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, I.T. Department, was called to the Speaker’s office on an emergency basis last night because they’re having computer problems. We’re still having trouble isolating the issue, but here’s the error message they keep getting.

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Dedicated government employees – gotta love ’em


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It’s hunting season

So let’s get out there and bag the big one!

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Wolves versus sheep in the Texas Senate

Ok, I admit it: I secretly kind of like Texas Senator Dan Patrick.

We agree on virtually no policy of note. But it was now-Texas Trib Managing Editor Ross Ramsey who said when Patrick was first elected that Dan Patrick would liven up the Texas Senate, which had become, prior to Patrick’s arrival, “a statue park.” Texas politics is one of the finest spectator sports in the history of spectator sports, and on Ramsey’s measure, Patrick is a crowd-pleaser.

But there’s something that Patrick just doesn’t understand. He’s never really gotten that participatory democracy isn’t about two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

Democracy decides who gets to lead the charge. But once the election is over, there should be a fundamental understanding that nobody gets left behind. Political philosophers call it preventing the tyranny of the majority. Texas legislators call it “avoidin’ a good screwin’.”

Patrick is trying, again, to do away with the two-thirds rule in the Senate, which is the rule that says that a bill cannot be brought to the floor for debate unless 21 of the Senate’s 31 members agree that it should be debated. Doing the math, that also means that 11 Senators can block a bill from debate. Patrick’s opposition to the rule is because there happen to be 12 Democrats in the Texas Senate.

The rule was weakened last session when the Senate Republicans voted to exempt Voter ID legislation from the rule, which signaled to Democrats that the two-thirds rule only exists when the Republicans have their two-thirds in the bag. The Republicans had originally wanted to include redistricting legislation in the exemption, but dropped that.

The effect of the rule is to force broad support for any measure passing the legislature, which of course makes it harder to pass legislation. Ironically, in a saner world this would be the conservative view – the fewer bills pass, the less government intervention a legislature would impose on its citizenry.

Dan Patrick’s mistake is that he believes in a winner-take-all system, which also means a loser-lose-all system. If you lost the last election, you should have no effective voice in the process. Just sit at your desk and STFU, please.

Patrick’s miscalculation is that he assumes that all legislative squabbles are partisan – Republicans versus Democrats. Now if you’re just some Joe Schmo living in East Egypt, Texas, you can’t be faulted for assuming that, since R versus D fights dominate what gets reported in the newspapers and on TV.

But Patrick doesn’t have an excuse, since he works in the building. He should know that most Senate debates aren’t partisan. They’re rural versus urban. Pro-gambling versus anti-gambling. Broadband versus cable. UT/TAMU versus every other university. Docs versus insurance companies. Road contractors versus property rights folks.

The coalitions shift 15 times a day, depending on the issue at hand. And the two-thirds rule not only forces the debate to a place in which broader interests are served, but also increases the power of every individual Senator.

Senators are more powerful than House members only because each is 1-of-31, instead of 1-of-150. And under the two-thirds rule, they’re even more powerful than that, since depending on the issue, they’re actually 1-of-21 in a coalition to pass a good bill, or even 1-of-11 in a coalition to kill a bad bill. It shows up in the attention lobbyists pay them, in the amount of constituent communications they get, and in the massive fundraising advantage they have over other officeholders.

Senators joining with Patrick to do away with the rule will be doing so to make it easier to pass whatever their agenda will be. But in so doing, they’ll be voting to do away with much of their own power. For example, a rural Republican senator voting to do away with the two-thirds rule will also be voting to some day be mowed down by their urban colleagues on a future vote they could have otherwise prevented.

No, democracy isn’t about two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. But even if it was, one would at least expect the sheep to vote against eating the sheep.

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Olbermann bites dog.

Democrats and/or Republicans have been stewing and/or cackling about MSNBC’s suspension of Keith Olbermann, since the cable news host made personal campaign contributions to candidates he supports. Olbermann’s network announced last night that his indefinite suspension gets pretty darn definite tomorrow, when he’ll return to his show. So basically, all of political Earth was up in arms about what essentially amounted to Olbermann taking a long weekend in the Catskills, taking long walks with that special someone.

Did I happen to mention that it’s sweeps month? I’m thinking his show “Countdown” takes a spike on Tuesday. Yeah. Go team.

Olbermann’s frequent co-conspirator in socialism and/or The American Way, Rachel Maddow, put things in perspective pretty well on her own show.

As articulately as Ms. Maddow put it, and as much as I agree with her bottom line, do you ever get the idea – perhaps even the hope – that MSNBC and Fox News will eventually morph into attacking each other full-time, in the process forgetting all about the rest of us?

A girl can dream….

Meanwhile, forget all that, because I’m pretty sure this is where all the trouble started anyway.

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