Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: March 2006 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Friday, March 31, 2006

Runoff Rundown

First of all, it should be noted that Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting, in an unusual move, throws his endorsement behind Barbara Radnofsky for the Senate seat nomination against Gene Kelly (not the Hollywood guy). According to Soechting (and many others), Kelly is not a viable candidate, and is only on the ballot because of name recognition. The sentiment was also echoed by gubernatiorial hopeful Chris Bell. This solidifies the argument that everyone who is serious about electing a leader, and not just a name, needs to get behind Barbara Radnofsky and do whatever they can to insure that she runs against Kay Bailey Hutchison in the general election.

Also in runoff action is the race between Borris Miles, lifetime resident of HD 146, former law enforcement officer, and self-made businessman who not only renovates and provides professional office space for other bootstrap businessmen in his district, but also serves on several boards for civic improvement and sickle cell research, against Al Edwards, whose crowning achievement was legislation to curtail provocative performances by adolescent cheerleaders.

So the choice in this race is between a guy who has worked to improve the quality of life for residents of his district, and a guy who monitors teenage girls for tittilating gyrations. Personal preferences aside, who would you want representing your district?

By the way, the award for best Al Edwards post goes to PinkDome, for U-G-L-Y, You ain't got no alibi...You Ugly! Not because the post told us things we didn't already know, but because it has such a cool title.

In other primary news, Henry Boehm Jr. of Brenham won the democratic nomination for Texas Senate District 18. Unfortunately, Dr. Boehm withdrew from the race a month before the election, leaving Republican incumbent Glenn Hegar without a challenger. Another Senate seat lost to ignorance and apathy.

So let's make informed decisions, y'all, and not just vote for familiar names on the ballot. Learn about your candidates and what they stand for, and help bring in government leaders who believe in the same things we do.

The alternative is too u-g-l-y to contemplate.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

BBQ Saturday with Morrison and Van Os

If I had to describe David Van Os in one word, I would probably have to say "momentum". The dude never stops. Now he's coming to Houston to one of my favorite venues, and he's bringing some heavy hitters with him.

Van Os, best known for his Filibuster for Independence at the Texas State Capitol, is running for Texas Attorney General, and is well into a marathon speaking tour through Texas.

Mark your calendars. This Saturday, March 25th, he'll be at Drexler's BBQ.

That's right, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler's Mom's and Pop's place at 2300 Pierce, a downtown landmark.

With him will be Master of Ceremonies Richard Morrison, who is running against Tom DeLay for District 22 in this year's election.

Music will be provided by David Rovics, who's show has been described as "the musical version of Democracy Now", and a musical political comedy called "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime".

Advance tickets are cheaper, but you can pay at the door.

See the flyer here.

See you there!

Correction: PDiddie rightly pointed out that Nick Lampson is running against DeLay in the upcoming election. He won't be at the BBQ, because hopefully he'll be out there convincing the lemmings in District 22 not to reelect an ethically-challenged, power-hungry Charlatan. The non-lemmings in District 22 don't need convincing.

Richard Morrison ran against DeLay in the 2002 race. I guess I'm still living in the past, 'cause the present is so surreal. Doh! I was saving that for therapy! Now I'll have to think of something else...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Voter Alert: Gene Kelly died (ten years ago)

The name you'll see on the ballot for the Democratic Senate runoff election on April 11 does not belong to the beloved singer and dancer you visualize when you hear the name. The Gene Kelly you'll see on the ballot belongs to an 80 year-old former lawyer named Eugine Kelly who has run unsuccessfully for state office 10 times in the last 14 years. He has no credentials, runs no campaigns, participates in no debates, and gives very few interviews. He simply relies on name recognition - that of the Hollywood icon - to get him on the ballot in the general election.

Then he loses miserably, as he did in the 2002 Senate election against Kay Bailey Hutchison and three time previously, causing a loss to Texas Democrats that is felt all the way down the ballot. Those who might have voted the straight-party ticket (as is the wont of the typical Republican voter) break the pattern at the top of the ballot when they see his name, and don't carry through to vote for worthy Democratic candidates for other offices within their state and county.

So what can a voter do who's tired of the corruption and apathy that's rampant in the current crop of elected representatives? He or she can start by learning about Kelly's runoff opponent, Barbara Radnofsky, and going out and voting for her on April 11.

Unlike Kelly, Radnofsky is not afraid to tell you where she stands on the issues. And where she stands looks pretty good. She has strong positions on education, immigration, veterans rights, health care and the war in Iraq. Kelly, on the other hand, has expressed opinions on very few of these issues; though we do know, via, that he supports organized prayer in schools, the death penalty, the "Star Wars" missile defense system, the war on drugs, and subsidizing a church-controlled welfare system.

Barbara Radnofsky is smart (she entered U of H at age 16), she's a partner at Vinson & Elkins (Houston's premier law partnership), and a mother of three with a strong history in health-care legal circles. She has spoken out against the Republican incumbent, Kay Bailey Hutchison, with valid arguments as to why Hutchison is ambivalent to the plight of middle class Texans and beholden to special interests.

Barbara Radnofsky has also been endorsed by the Dallas Morning News, . the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and the Houston Chronicle as the best candidate to oppose Hutchison in the 2006 Senatorial race.

This is the kind of candidate we need in the upcoming elections. If you really want to cast off the yoke of the ethically-challenged Republicans in our state leadership, this is your best opportunity. By knocking Kelly out of the runoff election, you'll help pave the way for someone with some brass cojones to run for the U.S. Senate and make headway in our quest for honest and forthright leadership in Texas.

Visit her website at and learn about her. If you like what you see, vote for her. If you really like what you see, send her some money, because the run against Hutchison, the Republican incumbent, will not be cheap, and without big money from special interests behind her, she'll need all the financial help she can get.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Game on!

There's a new game in town, and it's a hoot. Although it pokes fun, it's a serious statement on the state of our union.

It's a Monopoly-like game called " Patriot Act: The Home Version".

Instead of losing cash for landing on certain squares, they lose civil liberties. And the "Mr. Monopoly" character at the center of the board is replaced by a scowling former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The object of the game is to be the last player with any civil liberties left. The "Go" space has been replaced with "Bring It On", in reference to Bush's challenge to the insurgence early in the Iraq war.

Players roll the dice to determine how many civil liberties they start out with, accumulating them from a variety of categories: U.S. citizens get 5; non-citizens 1. Whites and Asians get 5; Arabs 1. Ultra right-wingers get 6; Democrats 3 or 4.

Instead of landing on, say Oriental Avenue, players land on a color-coded spaces corresponding to the national terror alert. A player who lands on a red space loses one civil liberty, as does anyone else within five spaces. A player who lands on an orange space gets to designate another player to lose one civil liberty.

"Chance" cards are now "Homeland Security Cards," with orders such as, "FBI wants you for questioning; Lose one turn;" and "You provide the local authorities with speculative information on your next door neighbor; Collect one civil liberty from each player."

The game's creator, Michael Kabbash, is a graphic artist and civil rights activist. He obviously has a sense of humor, but also a message to get across.

"I've had people complain to me that when they play, nobody wins. They say `We're all in Guantanamo and nobody has any civil liberties left,'" he said. "I'm like `Yeah, that's the point.'"

The game board and cards can be downloaded for printing at

Kabbash says his next project will probably have something to do with the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program. He is reasonably certain "there's a file on me somewhere."

Asked if the FBI keeps a file on Kabbash, a bureau spokesman refused to comment.

Game on!

It was 20 years ago today...

Okay, it wasn't 20 years ago - it just seems like it. It was three years ago today that Bush launched the war in Iraq. It began as a "shock and awe" campaign, literally blowing up large portions of the Iraqi landscape, then progressed to ground troop pushing toward Bagdad, and then the symbolic toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue. It received favorable press, and prompted the Bush administration to predict a rapid cessation of hostilities. A year later, dubya announced "mission accomplished" and declared that major fighting was at an end.

A few months after that, though, the insurgents arose, and havoc ensued. Military leaders initially estimated that 700,000 troops would be needed to "liberate" Iraq. They were scoffed at, particularly when we took Bagdad with only 150,000. Now, three years after the start of this debacle, there are still 150,000 American troops in Iraq and the end is not in sight.

Sure, Cheney and Rummsfelt insist that we're winning, but the numbers tell a different story. Over 2300 American soldiers dead, thousands more injured - and that doesn't count the cost in Iraqi lives. The insurgents seem to get a second wind about every three months, and daily attacks cause untold death and destruction. In the same newscasts where we hear American generals tell us about Iraqi traffic cops wearing shirts and ties instead of body armor, another segment tells us of new attacks and more body counts.

Protests are occuring all over the world this week. Countries who supported us in the "alliance" are watching their citizens march in the streets, calling Bush a terrorist. Worldwide, we're seen as a bully, whose leader lied to get his war and is causing American and Iraqi deaths just so he can be remembered as a wartime president.

He'll be remembered as a wartime president all right, but not in a favorable way. His approval rating is again at an all time low, with more that half of the country seeing him as incompetent. In 2004, he called 51% of the votes in the election a "mandate". Now that 51% of people have disavowed him, that should constitute a "mandate" that he be removed.

Hey, I'm just using his logic. Or doesn't the logic work both ways?

Our soldiers are fighting and dying for a bogus cause. If dubya wanted to spread democracy around the world, he could have chosen to dethrone any number of despots other that Hussein. He chose Iraq because 1) they have oil, 2) they tried to kill his daddy, and 3) he wanted to deflect criticism from his dealings in the Arab world that should have been brought to light when one of the Bin Ladens, former business associates of his, planned and executed terrorist acts on American soil.

Now, almost four years later, Osama bin Laden is still at large, and we are three years into an endless battle with a country that had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

63% of the people who were mesmerized by Bush's rhetoric are now waking up to the fact that we were lied to - Saddam was not behind 9.11, and had no weapons of mass destruction - and now we're mired in a war that we can't win, and can't withdraw from.

Maybe when the other 37% wake up, we'll have enough collective intelligence to find a solution for this mess. Because now, it doesn't seem there is one. The administration's solution is to blow more smoke up our skirts, which isn't going to end the war anytime soon, and will most likely extend it. There has to be a better solution than trying to salvage the political career of someone who never should have been given power in the first place.

Friday, March 17, 2006

From the folks at!

Stop in an amuse yourself
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