Archive | September, 2011

Stupidly hysterically funny video of the day so far

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Complaint Department, can we help you?

Note to readers: we here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters don’t just get complaint letters, we get fine quality celebrity complaint letters. The following priceless gem came in today from Mary Mapes, former long-time producer of CBS’ 60 Minutes, and author of Truth and Duty.

Harold Cook may be hazardous to your health.

I am writing this because I have very real concerns that this blog is dangerous to the physical safety of Texas progressives. And apparently, there aren’t that many of us out here, so the needless injury of even one of us is a danger to all of us.

The other night, Harold Cook’s thoughtless choice to post the dangerously funny Rick Perry lip-synch video led to my breaking a toe. I know I may have some responsibility, as well.

But he started it.

Mary Mapes:
Celebrity Complainer

Look, I’m childish. I’ll admit it. I like laughing uproariously at silly things. I am completely in touch with my inner 11-year-old boy, the goofy kid at the back of the class who can’t stop snickering when the science teacher begins talking about Uranus.

You know the type.

Anyway, Sunday night, I was in bed with my iPad, roaming mindlessly around the internets when I checked in with Letters From Texas.

Big mistake.

I clicked on the BadLipReading video of Rick Perry, where a Perry impersonator spouts a list of nonsensical words that it appears Perry is saying. At various points, Perry appears to be yelling “Hot Yella Kool-Aid,”  or murmuring “ice cream” apropos of nothing, or ending a triumphant speech with the ringing words “save a pretzel for the gas jets.”

I wish I could say I thought it was hilarious because it expanded on the already burgeoning meme that Rick Perry makes no sense, that he just spews.

But that wasn’t it at all.

It was just stupid funny. And I snorted and guffawed and wheezed and howled. Then I foolishly decided that I needed to send the link to a large assortment of friends and family who I just KNEW would think it was as funny as I did.

Leaping out of bed, still staggering with laughter, I ran into my darkened office to my big computer where I knew I could send my missive more easily.

Unfortunately, I never made it to the computer. I stubbed the little toe on my left foot on the leg of the couch. I broke it. The toe, not the couch leg.

I hit the deck so fast that if someone had been watching through the window, they would have believed I’d been taken out by a sniper.

As I was writhing on the floor clutching my foot, my self-consciously cool 14-year-old son strolled in, looking at the spectacle disdainfully. “My God, Mom. What is wrong with you NOW?”

The next day, I found out what actually was wrong. I had broken my little toe in three places and I didn’t even know a little toe HAD three places.

So now I can’t wear shoes for a while. Actually, I can wear one shoe, but that is a difficult look to pull off, so I am essentially living my life barefoot.

Driving is a challenge. I  don’t dare go to any restaurants for fear of being escorted outside.

And my son is more embarrassed by me than ever. My husband has been working later than usual. I think he is avoiding me.

Now the video is running on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, along with TheDailyBeast and Gawker.

Undoubtedly, more sites will pick it up and more people will get hurt.

I am warning you not to watch that video – unless you are insured. And don’t watch it while eating. Or in church. Or at a funeral. Or just before a job interview.

That thing is dangerous.

And Harold, so are you.

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Pundits’ Perry problem perpetually persists

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Rick Perry’s political death are greatly exaggerated.

True, between his incoherent debate performance, and his pathetic showing in the Florida straw poll, Perry had an absolutely miserable week last week, following by an even more miserable weekend during which all the conservative pundits Fox News could cram onto their set morphed into coroners, pronounced him dead, then kicked the body around for sport.

Piñata of the week

Don’t believe it for a minute. Here’s why:

Choosing a nominee for President is a comparative process. The Republican primary process seldom if ever picks a wonderful human being. They merely pick the least unacceptable goofball, from among the unacceptable goofballs available.

Yes, Rick Perry can be completely incoherent. Yes, he has big problems with the Republican wackadoodles on immigration and HPV and probably five other issues they haven’t even figured out yet. I said from the start that Perry would look great at first glance, and that he’d have big problems on further review. I am not – I repeat not – above telling you people “I told you so.” Thus, I told you so.

But remember, it’s a comparative process. At the end of the day, Republicans still won’t see Bachmann as rocket surgeon (or a brain scientist) worthy of tier one status. They’ll still be unable to forgive Romney for his Massachusetts health care plan, and still won’t understand his vaguely-scary faith. Gingrich still won’t have a real campaign, and none of the other candidates have shown an ability so far to capitalize on Perry’s pain and move up the ladder into the top tier.

So now the kids in the toy store have tired of their new Perry doll and the grown-ups are desperately looking for a new shiny object to distract them with. Enter Chris Christie.

Not the look of a Republican nominee

Setting aside for a moment my strongly-held theory that we will have no way of knowing whether Christie will enter the race until after Saturday Night Live announces that John Goodman is scheduled to guest host, let’s assume that he will.

Then what? Then Christie will quickly become the next Rick Perry – entering with unrealistically high expectations, looking great at first glance, then disappointing the angry mob of Republican primary activists because he hasn’t been pure enough either.

Guess what, America? Nobody is pure enough for these clowns. Nobody can ever be pure enough to satisfy the lunatic fringe that applauds uninsured Americans being left to die, and jeers active duty deployed military soldiers.

So within minutes of entering the race, Christie will be unceremoniously dumped into the same rubbish pile with Perry and the rest of the crowd, leaving the entire crowd of candidates in the same rubbish pile.

Sooner or later, Republican primary voters will realize that there will be no magic candidate with whom they agree on all issues, and they’ll be forced to pluck one of the candidates back out of their rubbish pile. And Perry will still be in the game, no matter how many conservative pundits on Fox News predict otherwise.

Perry’s opponents may well have a bigger Perry problem than they had before. The unsustainably high expectations voters earlier assigned to Perry are gone now. It doesn’t get any worse than last week for Perry unless he falls off his tricycle into a fresh steaming pile of dog poo, and the cameras are rolling at the time. His next performances will be seen as a pleasant surprise.

While Perry will never satisfy Republican voters on the issues of immigration, vaccinating girls, or any of several other issues, he is bound to find his footing and better explain himself. As long as he avoids drooling in public, he’s bound to get better during debate performances. And sooner or later, he’ll succeed in getting back to his original “jobs in Texas” narrative.

Meanwhile, his opponents still haven’t taken the time and trouble to poke holes in that original Perry jobs narrative – the main issue that carried Perry to the top of the heap in the first place. The holes have always been there to poke, but Perry’s opponents have failed so far. They instead keep changing the subject. Until that central jobs message is in doubt, Perry will still be in the game.

So, bad news buckaroos – Perry’s not going anywhere for a while. Trust me on this – we Texans have been trying to get rid of the guy for years. It ain’t that easy.

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More of the Texas “miracle”?

Ah, Rick Perry’s Texas, where they take money away from schools to give back to oil refineries.

What could be more ‘Merican than that?

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TPA blog round-up

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks Alec Baldwin’s hair does a pretty decent impersonation of our Governor as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses the latest Texas polling data and what a Rick Perry candidacy might mean for downballot Democrats.

On a night during which both Georgia and Texas put men to death, Letters From Texas visits the moral and practical implications.

Amy Price, the progressive running for Houston’s city council at large #4 seat, had a great week of news coverage. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected the stories, audio, and video.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shows how state Sen. Steve Ogden’s retirement announcement this week has shaken up the county’s politics, The changing election landscape in Williamson County, creating opportunities.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Rick Perry is having a bad week. Boo hoo.

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy asks how do you support reproductive rights? Left of College Station focuses on reproductive rights all these week as the anti-choice 40 Days for Life Protest begins. From the state of Texas funding so-called crisis pregnancy centers, to the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Texas.

At McBlogger, we take a sniff around LCRA’s decision to privatize some of their assets and don’t like the smell.

Neil at Texas Liberal noted a new phone app that will show the amount of forced labor used in many of the everyday things that we buy.

Libby Shaw over at TexasKaos brings us up to date on Rick Perry’s limelight moment. Called upon to demonstrate his cool under fire before a national audience at the last Republican debate, he showed his true mettle. He melted down. See all the details here: Rick Perry Bombs Presidential Debate.

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Rick Perry has never made more sense

[h/t: Mark McKinnon]

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On a night during which both Georgia and Texas put men to death, Letters From Texas visits the moral and practical implications.

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Buzz from the TV show

On this week’s Capital Tonight on YNN Austin, the conversation turned to a high production-value edgy YouTube ad that Rick Perry’s campaign released this week. On this week’s episode I appeared with my friend Scott Braddock, CBS radio – Dallas, and the Texas State Network.

You can watch this episode, which also features former Dallas Mayor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tom Leppert, in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 am in Austin on YNN, or at any time on the web. You can watch Capital tonight live on YNN in Austin at 6 pm every Thursday, or on the Texas channel at the same time, channel 888 on Time-Warner systems in most Texas markets. 

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Headline of the day so far

From an Arkansas newspaper’s sports section: Conservative turkey season suggested

Personally, I think this is an outstanding suggestion. Let’s get out there and get some conservative turkeys!

It appears they got off to a great start at the Republican presidential debate in Orlando last night.

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Two deaths in America

Last night in Georgia, they executed a man. His name was Troy Davis, and he was convicted of killing police officer Mark MacPhail. In the years since Davis’ trial, 7 of the 9 witnesses against him have either recanted their testimony or contradicted it. Davis’ case was so problematic, even some death penalty advocates were urging that the brakes be put on this execution. The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily delayed the execution earlier yesterday evening, then mulled it over for hours before denying a stay. The world may never know whether Georgia put to death an innocent man, but there are deeply troubling questions which may never be answered.

Texas also executed a man last night. James Brewer was one of three men convicted of the brutal murder of James Byrd, a racially-motivated crime so vicious that both Texas and the U.S. enacted hate crimes laws bearing James Byrd’s name. Brewer’s guilt was not in question, and the day before he was executed, he said in a KHOU-TV interview that he had no regrets, and that “I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.” Brewer was a racist, and Byrd was an African-American man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For this, Byrd became the victim in one of the most savage crimes in modern Texas history.

On the same night, two executions in America. Two very different situations. One case on such a wobbly foundation that it has some death penalty advocates rethinking their position. The other case so utterly rock-solid and brutal that it has some death penalty opponents rethinking theirs.

This is a debate which is long-overdue in America. Your own answer to the central moral question rests on whether you believe government belongs in the death business at all. What it would require, in order to avoid executing putrid scum like James Byrd’s killer, is to answer “no” to that question. It is legitimately arguable – James Byrd’s own family members disagree on that point, and if anybody has earned a ticket to the discussion, it’s them.

But that central moral question depends on an error-free system. Sadly, we don’t even get to have that central moral debate. Instead, too often we are instead forced to debate whether the people we (yes, we) put to death are even guilty of the crime for which they were convicted.

Whether you’re for the death penalty or against it, that is truly a terrible thing to still be debating, even as we (yes, we) cause the deadly chemicals to flow through the veins of those we condemn to die.

The guilt of several of those put to death is still being debated. Texas Governor Rick Perry appears to have recently done everything in his power to avoid even a public examination of the evidence convicting one man who was questionably executed, and the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed two other Texas executions in the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, there have been 37 post-conviction exonerations in Texas since 2001 according to the Innocence Project, including that of Anthony Graves, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering six people and was sitting on death row awaiting his execution when he was cleared of the crimes.

It is worth noting that Governor Perry and his ardent supporters are unabashed death penalty supporters, while at the same time are among those who profess to have little if any trust in government.

How is it possible that the people who trust government the least, are among those who are most confident of the government’s ability to execute only the guilty? How is it possible that those who strongly advocate against a trial by jury in civil cases which cost corporations money, are also enthusiastic advocates of the infallibility of the juries in criminal trials which cost people their liberty, and sometimes their lives?

Regarding yesterday’s executions, Mark MacPhail and James Byrd were the original innocent victims. If the government we’re in charge of created additional innocent victims, there’s something wrong with the government we’re in charge of. And since we’re in charge of it, there may be something wrong with us.

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Feral hogs prove to be smarter than Texas Legislature

Remember earlier this year, when the Texas Legislature gave their thumbs-up to hunting feral hogs from helicopters?

Apparently the hogs are smarter than we thought – now they’re just moving inside.

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Well, f darn.

If they start charging royalty fees, my friends and I are going to owe these people a lot of money.

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Headline of the day so far

Also, the award winner for “most wrong things you can cram into a single situation.”

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Republican debate #2 – my analysis on MSNBC

MSNBC was foolish kind enough to invite me back, this time to join my friend Jim Moore and Dave Weigel in analyzing the CNN/Tea Party debate.

Here’s the first segment, on social security:

Here’s the second topic: what of Michelle Bachmann?

And finally, the infamous Rick Perry jobs claims.

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FUBAR in the news

CNN’s Ed Lavandera was kind enough to include me in a piece on – what else – Rick Perry, airing today on CNN.

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