Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: Signs that the new year may be better .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Signs that the new year may be better

Primary Season Promises Fireworks
The Candidates

I know, I'm an eternal optimist, but hey - exciting things are happening already. Yeah, some of them have been in the works for awhile, but they're now beginning to come into fruition.

The best reason to celebrate is that Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion charges today. Yes, it was expected, but now it's official. He'll plea and hopefully sing like a bird, bringing down everyone from GOP Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, through his buddy, the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, up to and including top officials in the White House. Dubya's already denied ever meeting the guy, but you know there's dirt to be dug up. There's plenty of dirt under Abramoff's fingernails from all through the political spectrum, so this isn't a partisan thing. Crooked is crooked no matter which side of the fence you're on, and I hope we get them all. Or at least enough of them to send the remainder into hiding.

Another reason to celebrate is that Bill White will serve another term as Houston's Mayor. Almost from day one, he cut through the red tape to work on our traffic and environmental problems, and proved adept at listening to advisors who actually knew what they were talking about. Sure, he made some mistakes, but unlike typical politicians, admitted and then corrected them. Too bad we can't find more public servants that would do the same.

Speaking of public servants, Nick Lampson has thrown his hat into the ring for the 22nd Congressional District race. As you may recall, he got squeezed out of a neighboring district when Texas Republican leadership, headed by Tom DeLay, rearranged the Districts, which left Nick with predominantly Republican constituents. Needless to say, he lost his next election.

Now he's moved to Sugar Land and is taking on DeLay, and it seems as if he's got a good shot at unseating the Hammer for the first time in DeLay's more than 20 years in office. Throw into the mix that DeLay is fighting money-laundering and conspiracy charges, and that he faces three other Repubicans in the primary, and it should make for some interesting theatre. People are already suspicious of Republican ethics (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), and once the mud starts flying, it can only make them seem dirtier.

In other good news, District 7's Jon Lindsay is retiring. Although his district is heavily red-state, there are four candidates vying for his seat, among them professional loudmouth Dan Patrick, which should again insure plenty of mudstorms and more disillusionment being washed away among the constituents in northwest Houston.

The race for governor just got less interesting, with Carole Keeton Strahorn, aka One Tough Grandma, announcing that she'll run as an independent. Strayhorn has been one of the most vocal critics of incumbent Rick "Adios Mofo" Perry. With her running as a Republican, it promised excellent theatre and a good chance of widening the chasm between the GOP and it's lemmings. Now, as an independent, she'll have to convince the reddest of states that it really is time for a change in ideology. Not an easy task, with most of the electorate blindly swallowing the bull shoveled at them without question.

Ironically, Strayhorn was originally a Democrat, then switched tracks to the GOP twenty years ago. Now she's defected again and become an independent, along with satirist Kinky Friedman. The Libertarian party boasts one candidate, and the Democrats and GOP four each.

On the downside, District 18 - largely suburban and heavily Republican - is being vacated by Democratic Senator Ken Armbrister, leaving the district open and contested by four Republicans and one Democrat. If the Republicans take this district, it would give them 20 of the 31 seats - one short of the two-thirds majority required to advance legislation.

All in all it promises to be an interesting election season. If there wasn't so much at stake, it might even be entertaining. This season will be a big step towards putting someone decent, or even intelligent, in the White House in 2008. Let's not make the same mistakes we've been making - actually believing what the candidates say - and do a little research on their actions before we decide to vote for them. I know I will, and will do my best to spread the word. Because, as an uninformed electorate, we become victims not only to sound bites, but to the actions of the politicians that benefit not us, but those that hire lobbyists to get favorable legislation.

Happy New Year, Y'all!


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