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October 25th, 2004:

Great article on Morrison

I’ve been sent an excellent article on the CD22 race, which mostly focuses on Richard Morrison. No link for the piece, which appears in the October 25 issue of “Texas Lawyer”, so I’ve reproduced it below.

Kos reports a rumor that Tom DeLay is gearing up to sue Democracy for America for libel over this ad. Hard to believe, given DeLay’s obviously public stature, but you never know.

Here’s a clip from that fabled Clear Lake candidates’ forum. Looks like Morrison landed a pretty good punch there, if you ask me.

Quote of the day: β€œIt’s time now for the American people to understand that we (the GOP) are a permanent majority.” — Tom DeLay, speaking to the Pearland, TX Chamber of Commerce August 18, 2004. You can see him say it at that link. And if you want to prove him wrong, you know what to do.


September traffic report

September was a busy month here, with about 49,000 hits, nosing it past June for the second busiest month. October looks to be even better, thanks in large part to the election, which appears to be driving everyone’s traffic up. Thanks to everyone for stopping by. Top referrers are beneath the More link.


Early voting roars along

After the first full week, the early voting totals this year for the Top 15 counties is nearly double what it was in 2000 after a week. And it’s not just the big counties, either – it’s all across the state. And in other states, too.

What does that mean? Conventional wisdom is that high turnout generally benefits Democrats. I’ve already given my reasons for why I think a high turnout in Texas will mean a better showing for Kerry than for Gore. Since Texas’ 34 electoral votes are not in doubt, the more interesting question is what effect this will have on the Congressional and State House races. Travis County’s strong showing so far has got to make backers of Kelly White and Mark Strama feel good. Beyond that, I just don’t know.

Early voting runs through Friday, with all sites open from 7 AM to 7 PM. After that, it’s Tuesday or nothing. Don’t miss out!

Chuck Norris wimps out

“Walker, Texas Ranger” runs from a political fight.

Actor Chuck Norris, who for years played a tough Texas lawman on TV, has ducked for cover in a real-life brawl β€” the race to become the next Dallas County sheriff.

Norris stopped in the city recently to record two radio ads for Lupe Valdez, the Democratic candidate in what has shaped up to be a spirited race for sheriff.

The spots would have been a small coup for Valdez given that Norris is a convincing law-and-order type and, more importantly, a well-recognized Republican.

Thursday, though, Norris informed Valdez in a brief letter from his lawyer that he was withdrawing his support.

Susan Hays, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, said Republicans got wind of the endorsement and leaned on Norris to withdraw it.

“I’m restraining myself from calling him a weenie,” Hays said of Norris, a martial arts black-belt who never flinched as Walker, Texas Ranger.

John Hensley, a former U.S. Customs agent who was Valdez’s boss when he ran the agency’s Dallas regional office, was the one who asked Norris to endorse Valdez.

“I’m sure Chuck’s mad at me for ever bringing this up,” said Hensley, who described himself as a longtime Norris friend.

Hensley said he thought Valdez was a “good, competent and loyal agent” and approached Norris on her behalf.

Hensley said backers of GOP sheriff candidate Danny Chandler pressured Norris. “Rather than get in the middle of it he just said, ‘I’m not gonna be involved,’ ” Hensley said.

Michael Forshey, Norris’ lawyer, confirmed that Norris is officially neutral in the race.

More here. Any Dallasites want to comment on this?

Cell phone jamming

Saw this interesting article on cellphone jamming last week and have been pondering the implications of it.

Purchased for about $2,000 each, they can be turned on by remote control and emit low-level radio frequencies that thwart cell phone signals within a 100-foot radius.

Users get a “no service” or “signal not available” message on their cell phones.

Although Mexico has no law against the devices, the private use of cell phone blockers is illegal in the United States and most Western countries.

But the tide is turning.

Japan allows public places such as theaters and concert halls to install jammers, provided they obtain a government-issued license. And last week, France’s industry minister approved a decision to let cinemas, concert halls and theaters install them — as long as provisions are in place so emergency calls can still be made.

Canada had considered allowing blocking in similar situations. But Industry Canada, which regulates the country’s telecommunications, decided against it, saying the devices could infringe on personal freedom and affect public safety by crippling communication with law enforcement and security agencies.

Officials at Netline, which sold its first jammer in 1998, say they are selling thousands of jammers a year and have expanded their business throughout the world.

They’re far from the only manufacturers. The devices are sold the world over, with dozens of suppliers selling them on the Internet.

It’s certainly satisfying to contemplate the prospect of going to church or a movie and not have to worry about an obnoxious ringtone suddenly emanating from the person sitting next to you. I think, though, there’s a good reason for the general ban in the US. The nuisance potential of a cellphone jammer is pretty high. Imagine a candidate’s campaign headquarters, set up in a little strip center somewhere, and the business next door decides to install a jammer for himself. These things have a range of 100 feet, so now none of Candidate Smith’s campaign workers can get a signal. Do they have any recourse? What if they suspect it’s a dirty trick? I’d hate to be the judge for that lawsuit. You could build in exceptions for churches or theaters or whatnot, but then what happens when someone releases a jammer with a range of 500 feet? The law always lags behind new technologies.

Anyway. I’m actually a bit surprised that there hasn’t been some kind of clamor to allow jammers in the US. It’ll be spirited when it happens, that’s for sure.

Yard signs in San Antonio

I note with some interest this story about yard signs in Alamo Heights.

[In Alamo Heights], one of the city’s more affluent enclaves that has long been considered a conservative stronghold, residents are noticing a roughly equal smattering of Bush and Kerry signs.

Political experts say it’s yet another indication that neither candidate has a lock on this year’s vote.

“The wonderful thing about Bexar County is it’s still a two-party county,” said Larry Hufford, a political scientist at St. Mary’s University.

Hufford had one explanation for what appears to be a split in places like Alamo Heights.

“In communities where, economically, one would think it would be overwhelmingly Republican, you find mainstream Protestants and Jewish people very concerned about the influence of the Christian right,” he said.

Alamo Heights is to San Antonio more or less as West University Place is to Houston, with fewer speed traps.

In Bexar County, during the first six days of early voting, 107,167 people cast ballots, compared with 56,218 votes cast during the same period in 2000, said Christian Anderson of Election Support Services.

The early voting period runs through Friday.

Although local early voting is strong everywhere in the county, it is mostly being driven by North Side poll sites. Typically, that indicates strong support for Republican candidates, including President Bush.

But this year, things are too up in the air to rely on that kind of assumptions.

“The thing we wonder about now is has there been an increase in percentages of support for either Republicans or Democrats, or are we just seeing a higher volume?” Anderson said. “It’s hard to tell yet.”


Both campaigns have stepped up outreach efforts and voters hungry to participate routinely visit campaign offices asking for bumper stickers, signs and anything else they can get to show their support for their candidate.

The Bexar County Republican Party has handed out about 10,000 Bush yard signs, officials there said.

Meanwhile, Bexar County Democratic Party officials estimate that more than 11,000 Kerry yard signs have been doled out at their six area offices.

“It’s like they’re playing chess with their neighbors,” said Jesus Huerta, with the Democratic Leadership Council and the party’s West Side office. “Their neighbor gets a sign and then they want one.”

Jim Lunz, a longtime Republican activist, lives in Alamo Heights and said the three precincts that make up the community usually vote about two-thirds Republican.

He agrees there are more Kerry signs in the area than he would have expected, but doesn’t think that necessarily means a stronger Democratic vote this year.

“It may just be that the 33 percent who normally vote Democratic are just expressing themselves openly this year,” he said. “I would look for Bush to at least maintain the level of support he had last time.”

Maybe, but I see a high level of interest as a rising tide, in the sense that if the partisans are more involved then everyone else will be to some extent as well. There’s evidence of that everywhere, and not just in yards or on cars.

Nielsen Media Research reported 62 million viewers watched the first presidential debate; only 51 million tuned in to the “Friends” finale earlier this year.

And even if it is just the case that those who already support one side are just being more vocal about it this time around, isn’t that still a positive sign for the Democrats this year? Compare to 2000: The lack of enthusiasm over Al Gore, the presence of Ralph Nader, the belief that it didn’t matter – surely all of those things depressed Democratic turnout, especially in Texas, last time around. Sure, maybe most of those Kerry/Edwards sign-planters in Alamo Heights are people who would have voted for Gore in 2000, but the question is how many of them actually did vote for Gore back then. And yes, George Bush will likely get some benefit from the same fervor, but ask yourself which group in Texas is larger: The people who would have voted for Bush in 2000 but didn’t get around to it, or the people who would have voted for Gore in 2000 but didn’t bother. Seems pretty clear to me.