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The debate over Governors race debates

Where we are: Rick Perry insisted that he would talk about debates only after Bill White released tax returns which Bill White has now released. Now Perry has issued a new set of hoops which he wants Bill White to jump through before Perry will agree to debate.

How many days ago this blog precisely predicted this would happen: 49

You thought I was kidding?

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Political dirty tricks may bite ’em on the butt

Kudos to the Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater for staying on top of the mystery money Republicans used to attempt to put Green Party candidates on the Texas ballot. It’s amazing that Rick Perry’s camp thought nobody would notice this obvious attempt to syphon votes from White – using the votes of the very people who most disagree with Rick Perry’s environmental record, and who would most benefit from Bill White’s environmental policies.

What isn’t amazing, however, is this solid evidence that Perry must indeed be worried about the race being that close.

It would probably surprise and dismay casual observers that there are people around the country who specialize in getting seemingly-unrelated stuff on the ballot they don’t care anything about, or even things they oppose, to artificially manipulate voters and turn-out patterns to benefit that which they really do care about. In this Texas example, they hope to skim about two percentage points off of Bill White’s totals, to help Rick Perry squeak by in a close race.

Nobody faults the Green Party for wanting ballot access, although it’s hard to see how they sleep at night these days, given who’s in bed with ’em on this particular effort.

But when the end result is that some of the voters who care most about the environment will get duped into voting for a candidate who won’t get more than 5% of the total vote, helping the guy who calls the BP oil spill disaster an “act of God” win? That just plain dirty pool, played at voters’ expense.

Most troubling is the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to accomplish this is secret, and quite possibly illegal, money, which nobody will admit to contributing. Since the obvious beneficiary is Rick Perry, well, you figure it out.

Meanwhile, back to the folks who do this sort of thing for a living in various states.

Apparently, the Republican operative who organized the Green Party petition effort intends to list “Take Initiative America” as the donor of the in-kind contribution to the Green Party. That entity was organized in Missouri by a guy named Charles Hurth.

Who’s Charles Hurth? I’m glad you asked. Meet Charles Hurth:

Despite numerous attempts, the victim’s butt was unavailable for comment.

That news story appeared in the Weekly World News, and the butt-biting incident was also covered in the San Francisco Chronicle, which also takes an in-depth look at the shady business of manipulating election outcomes without changing a single heart or mind – which is exactly what’s going on here in Texas right now.

And with this bit of butt-biting news, I once again renew my request to Comedy Central: in the interest of saving money on Daily Show and Colbert Report segment budgets, please open up a permanent Austin bureau. You will never run out of material. I’ll even offer my services at your Austin correspondent, and I’ll work for tips. Just sayin’.

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It sucks to be you

I bet that most Governors in major populated states think they have pretty tough jobs.

Have you ever wondered what Rick Perry would say about it privately, if he could say what he really thinks?

Yeah, some friends of mine and I wondered about that too. Enjoy.

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I love the video, but there are Japanese soldiers hiding in that beard who have not been informed that the war is over.

Originally posted on MeanRachel’s blog.

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Texas News Briefs

Houston pounded by Arizona

Despite trailing in early innings, the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Houston Astros 9-1 last night, in a game that featured Diamondback Chris Snyder hitting a 3-run homer, embarrassing the Astros at home before 20,370 fans.

Immediately after the game, the Arizona team reported that they started deportation proceedings against 7 “ambiguously Hispanic-looking” players on the Astros roster, as well as 7,392 fans who, according to Arizona team officials, “look pretty dad-gum iffy.” In addition, Arizona officials had driven Astros infielder Kazuo Matsui halfway to the airport for a direct flight back to Japan before Matsui managed to dig his green card out of his wallet, and was subsequently released on the service lane of Interstate 45.

Perry calls oil spill “act of God”

Texas Governor Rick Perry in an interview yesterday characterized the BP drilling rig explosion and subsequent oil spill an “act of God,” warning against those who might use the catastrophe to cease drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The incident killed 11 rig workers and threatens the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

“From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented,” Perry told an audience at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Perry went on to list other things he believes to be acts of God, including when hundreds of thousands of children were cut from the Children’s Health Insurance program in Texas in 2003, Texans suffering under the highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation, and tuition rates at Texas’ colleges and universities skyrocketing under Perry’s tenure as Governor.

Asked to similarly characterize recent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornados, and draughts across the globe, Perry said they were “acts of Obama.”

Despite repeated attempts, God could not be reached for reaction regarding Governor Perry’s defense of an oil company by blaming him.

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In which Rick Perry shoots stuff

Damn it, governors always get all the cool toys.

As was reported yesterday, Rick Perry shot a coyote while jogging back in February. As any rancher in my little piece of heaven will tell you, one shot coyote is barely a good start. Texans shoot coyotes every day, so the only thing that makes this news is that a governor bagged one.

The main reason I don’t have a concealed weapon permit is that even if I went to the time and trouble to get the permit, I’d still be too lazy to carry. Handguns, even the ultra-compacts, tend to be heavy and bulky. But still, once you get where you’re going, it’s fun to plink at some cans sometimes.

But when I got to looking at the small print of the “Perry shoots a varmint” stories, I saw where he was carrying a Ruger .380 with laser sights. Not knowing much about Ruger .380’s I googled it, and it turns out to be a pretty cool deal. Weighing in at just 9.4 ounces, it’s much lighter than the lightest gun I ever owned.

The gun is so compact that you’d pretty much need laser sights to hit the broad side of a barn. Plus, laser sights are just cool anyway, as anyone who has ever watched any action-adventure movie will attest.

Why do I bother to bring any of this up? Several reasons…

1. A Texas governor shooting a coyote is just fundamentally interesting.

2. I like disappointing Republicans who assume that Democrats are anti-gun, or pro-coyote.

3. I like pissing off PETA, which as you know, stands for “People Eating Tasty Animals.”

4. I’m secretly hoping somebody will buy me a Ruger .380 with laser sights. There are only 237 more shopping days ’til Christmas.

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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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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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Races to watch on election night

Here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, War Room Division, it occurred to us that you, members of the crap-reading public, would be torn as to how to divide your attentions on election night as the returns come in. On one hand, there are races you care about. On the other hand, one shouldn’t let that get in the way of the massive amounts of alcohol you intend to consume, probably on some poor hapless candidate’s tab.

Thus, we herein present this handy guide on which races in Austin and around the state are worth watching as election returns come in tomorrow night. Hopefully this will save you enough time so that your political activism can remain balanced with your alcoholism.

And if this isn’t enough to whet your appetite for politics, if you’re in the Austin area on election night you can tune into News8Austin, where I’ll be joining Republican Ted Delisi, Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg, and news anchor Paul Brown for news and analysis on the election returns throughout the evening.


Republican Primary: Perry vs Hutchison vs Medina. Perry will lead. Will it be a run-off or a clear Perry win? Perry clearly thinks he can win it out-right, or he would have pulled down much of his TV traffic in recent days and instead saved it for the run-off. If he’s wrong, that means that more Republicans will have voted against Perry than for him.

Democratic Primary: White vs Shami vs a whole bunch of folks nobody ever heard of, including two Hispanics. White will lead heavily. Run-off or clear White win? Even with so many candidates on the ballot – seven in fact – the smart money’s on a clean win for White.

Lt. Governor

Democratic primary: Linda Chavez-Thompson is favored to win. Does Ronnie Earl’s history as the man who brought down Tom DeLay have any impact? If so, does Marc Katz become the spoiler that creates the run-off?

Agriculture Commissioner

Democratic Primary: Hank Gilbert versus Kinky Friedman. This is similar to situations such as when a car dealer or newscaster runs for office: Gilbert has the substance, but Friedman has the name I.D. Which wins?

State Senate Races

(both are Republican primaries)

SD5 (College Station to North Austin suburbs) Republican primary. Incumbent Steve Ogden, the chairman of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee, should be ok. But challenger Ben Bius has been very aggressive, and this could be a test case for whether the “anti-insider” teabagger sentiment runs deep, or if they’re just messin’ around.

SD22 (Waco to Southern D/FW suburbs) Republican primary. Incumbent Kip Averitt is on the ballot whether he likes it or not (hint: he doesn’t like it. He quit campaigning a couple of weeks after the filing deadline), and many if not most folks in Waco are going to vote for him anyway. Will a popular incumbent who didn’t suit up for the game win it anyway, against fringe nobody Darren Yancy?

State House races

HD83 (Panhandle) Republican primary. They’ve written Republican Delwin Jones’ political obituary many times, and he’s survived them all – the only legislative race he ever lost was to Pete Laney, but that was in a Democratic primary back when the earth cooled. Jones later came back as a Republican, with Laney’s goodwill and friendship. Jones is in a big fight this time against challengers Zach Brady and Charles Perry. Will he survive this time or is he done?

HD11 (East Texas) Republican primary. Democrat Chuck Hopson switched to the Republican Party, for fear that he couldn’t win the general election. But now he’s in the fight for his life in the Republican primary instead, against 2 challengers – Michael Banks and Allan Cain. Does Chuck go or does Chuck stay?

HD76 (El Paso) Democratic primary. Incumbent Norma Chavez was previously thought to be doing well in her re-election bid against two challengers, until the El Paso Times released a poll over the weekend showing her neck-in-neck with one of her challengers, Naomi Gonzalez. Has the home town newspaper’s dislike for Norma gotten the best of their editorial judgment, or might Norma’s challenger get the best of her?

HD92 (Tarrant County) Republican primary. No-holds-barred cage fight pits incumbent Todd Smith against Jeff Cason. Some Republicans blame Smith for the death of voter ID, and have used the issue effectively. Then he got caught calling Republican women in his district “too stupid” on an answering machine message. We’ll see what Republican primary voters call Smith.

HD146 (Houston) Democratic primary. This is the re-re-match between (this time) incumbent Al Edwards and (this time) challenger Boris Miles. Both candidates have had their issues, but which one can convince voters that he’ll get it right this time?

HD43 (South Texas and Rio Grande Valley) Democratic primary. This is geo-politics at its best. Tara Rios Ybarra won the district 2 years ago because her base, the south end of the district, out-voted the incumbent’s base, the north end of the district. J.M. Lozano is challenging her this time, and similar to Rios’ last race, his base is in the north end of the district. Early voting this time suggests that last election’s voting trend hasn’t continued – the north end is out-voting the south end. Has she made in-roads in the north end or not?

HD36 (Rio Grande Valley) Democratic primary. This is the open seat that Kino Flores vacated following his indictment, and the race to take his seat got dicey in a hurry, featuring an abortion TV spot so rough I’m surprised the local stations didn’t reject it. Sandra Rodriguez is running against Sergio Muñoz Jr., with the bulk of the Flores organization apparently backing Muñoz. Money is pouring in from all quarters, and the race totals are nearing $1 million.

Local Travis County races

(all Democratic primary races)

County Commissioner Precinct 4: Margaret Gomez vs Raul Alvarez. Gomez supporters are happy as clams because they say she’s solid. Alvarez supporters aren’t happy as clams, because they say she’s not proactive enough. Both candidates are spending a lot of clams.

Judge, 201st District. This is a race defining which candidate has Democratic Party cred. Amy Clark Meachum, the challenger of sorts, is said to be leading against Jan Patterson, who has held a different judgeship for a decade. But Patterson was caught playing footsie with Rick Perry, which would have resulted in handing a Democratic-leaning court of appeals to the Republicans. Patterson has been explaining herself for the entire primary election, and you know what they say about candidates – if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

Judge, 299th District. This is a toss-up race with 4 candidates, but it’s likely to result in a runoff between Mindy Montford and Karen Sage. Who will lead going into a likely runoff?

County Court-at-Law #3. The race features John Lipscomb versus Olga Seelig. Lipscomb has most of the club endorsements, but Seelig got the Statesman. Both candidates are qualified, either though judicial experience or longstanding Democratic activism. This, along with the race for the 201st district court above, could be an indicator of whether the institutional strength of the local Democratic clubs remains solid.

J.P. Precinct 1. This is a toss-up race (if only in my mind) between Yvonne Williams and Daniel Bradford. Will voters see this generically as two qualified Democrats running, or at an Anglo gay Democrat (Bradford)  against an African-American Democrat (Williams), in what is largely an African-American district? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

What races are we missing? Sheila Jackson-Lee? Ralph Hall? Terri Hodge? Some random incumbent nobody knew was in trouble who suddenly looks retired by 8:30 pm? Throw in your two cents.

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The Empire Smokes Crack

Top Secret Intergalactic Communication

From: Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas

To: Supreme Chancellor Rick Perry, AKA Darth Sidious

My Lord, I fear that our plot to create a clone army has failed. Obi-Wan Kenobi has discovered our plan. I’m pretty sure he read it in the Texas Tribune.

The future of The Empire is at risk. Please advise.

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Need to get away?

It’s been a bad few weeks for Hutchison on the Republican side, and Shami on the Democratic side. They’re way behind in the polls, and can’t budge an inch of opposing candidates’ supporter. Even Perry looks a little stressed, what with Medina coming up in the polls and threatening to force an embarrassing run-off.

Frankly people, you could each use a vacation. Here’s one suggestion.

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The Odd Couple

Rudy Giuliani, the pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-gun control former Mayor of New York, campaigning in Texas for Rick Perry, the anti-fun governor?

It makes about as much sense as this.

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Remind me – what makes these people “conservative?”

Do you remember when Rick Perry turned down $555 million in federal stimulus money for our bankrupt unemployment system, because he said the so-called “strings attached” would cost the state of Texas more?

Well guess what – now they’re borrowing $2 billion from the feds, to make up for the shortfall in Texas’ unemployment system.

Governor, the strings associated with a loan is that you have to pay back the money. That’s why they call it “a loan.” So what was the big deal with those “strings” on $555 million that bothers you, which doesn’t bother you with $2 billion worth of “strings?”

And Kay…honey…stop gloating. Where were you when Perry was beating his chest about not accepting the FREE money from the feds? I don’t remember you stepping up to the plate at the time to provide a little leadership when Our Only Governor didn’t seem to be able to find any.

How many days until voters in a general election can get rid of all of the above? Sheesh.

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Austin News Briefs

Local man killed in traffic accident involving bicycle, Smart Car

An Austin man was killed today when a Smart Car collided with a bicycle on Lamar Blvd.

Police say Nathan Winters, 23, was pronounced dead on the scene following the accident. The bicycle rider, however, escaped with only minor injuries and was treated at the scene and released.

Winters’ family said that in addition to Winters being the proud owner of the Smart Car, he was an active member in Greenpeace, PETA, Earth First, NORML, and the Travis County Libertarian Party.

While the motor vehicle was a total loss, the bicycle will only require minor cosmetic repairs, police said.

Texas Tribune hires all remaining Capitol reporters; Austin bloggers

The non-profit news start-up Texas Tribune announced today that they have hired every remaining reporter in the Capitol bureaus of all Texas’ major state newspaper, radio, and T.V. stations, bringing their total number of reporters to 248. They also announced the hiring of 58 liberal and conservative bloggers, and have have put on retainer every identifiable surviving relative of Walter Cronkite. Also announced was the hiring of Leslie Cochran, the famous Austin homeless man, who will write a regular fashion column for the online publication.

“I’m proud of the team we have amassed,” said Trib C.E.O. Evan Smith, who has also reportedly hired an auto mechanic, a space shuttle astronaut, and “The World’s Most Interesting Man” from the Dos Equis beer commercials.

In a related story, the Texas Press Association reported that the Tribune has already inadvertently succeeded in their goal of reinvigorating the news business in Texas. The association says it’s because Texas newspapers’ personnel costs have been slashed in half, due to the Tribune hiring everybody they ever met.

Gov. Perry continues ceremonial bill signings

Texas Governor Rick Perry continued to travel the state this week performing ceremonial bill signings. The governor’s latest event, held in Brownwood, included the ceremonial bill signing of H.B. 3995, which Perry conceded he never read, but which “some conservative guy somewhere” said was “a mighty fine piece of legislation.”

Perry, who frequently criticizes federal stimulus dollars, is paying his travel expenses with federal stimulus dollars. Officials in Washington confirmed that Perry’s travel efforts seem to be working in re-invigorating the entire Texas economy.

Meanwhile, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who says she’s running against Perry in the Republican primary for Governor next year, continued traveling across the state this weekend as well, ceremonially saying little or nothing.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, rumored to be running for Hutchison’s Senate seat, is also traveling the state with his new bride, ceremonially reenacting their wedding ceremony in all major media markets.

Update: somebody briefly took the Smart Car piece seriously.

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