Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

November, 2004:

Back tomorrow

Today was a travel day – we returned home from a week in Portland to visit my parents and siblings. It was a great trip, and Olivia is already a better flyer than I am; for sure, she whines and complains less than I do. I’ll be back to my usual posting schedule tomorrow, and for sure there will be much to talk about.

More Heflin-pounding

The editorial reviews on Talmadge Heflin’s House challenge to overturn his electoral loss to Hubert Vo are coming in, and it’s as you’d expect.

The Statesman says “Heflin is asking his House colleagues to give him the seat he didn’t win anyway”.

The Chron says Heflin will “clearly do anything to retain possession of the District 149 seat he’s held for two decades, even if it includes thwarting the will of the district’s voters”. Note how they also pick up on the implicit questioning of Republican County Clerk Bev Kaufman’s competence.

Even Dan Patrick’s boyos are telling Heflin to pack it in.

Andrew D has some related stuff. The official recount, which does not affect the challenge, begins today. There are two other challenges giong on in the House as well – I’ll have more on this later. I’ll post more editorials as I find them.

The usual BCS mess

With the college football season drawing to a close, we can turn our attention to our real favorite sport, the game of What’s Wrong With The BCS This Season? We’ve got a twofer this year, as one of three undefeated teams (Auburn) will get shut out of the championship game, while the mandated inclusion of a crappy Big East titlist – Pittsburgh, perhaps – forces the likes of once-beaten Texas and unbeaten Boise State to the lower bowls. Even the sop to the second-class conferences is causing heartburn, as Utah’s guaranteed spot thanks to their top-six BCS ranking helped do in the Longhorns.

The system is what it is, and it will do what it’s designed to do, even after all the ad hoc jerryrigging, which is to have the #1 team play the #2 team. It’s a stupid and arbitrary system, in my opinion, but that’s what it’s supposed to do. Personally, I think it should be clear that a better system would recognize that more than two teams could be legitimately considered championship contenders. You could simply pick a top eight, or you could let in the champs of all eleven major conferences – would anyone argue this year that Utah, Boise, and Louisville are less deserving that whoever the Big East sends? – plus five at-large choices to get sixteen; either way would be preferable. Every other division of college football, from 1-AA down to III, does this sort of thing. If that means enforcing an eleven-game schedule to ensure that the teams who ultimately play for the title don’t have a longer season than the pros, so be it.

But hey, what do I care? College hoops have started, and it’ll be pitchers and catchers before you know it. Enjoy the mess, fellas. I’ll enjoy laughing about it.

Don’t pave paradise

I obviously missed the story that spawned this editorial, but I agree 100% with its arguments and conclusions. Building a toll road through the Heights so that commuters from the far reaches of the 290 Corridor can get downtown a little faster is head-slappingly stupid.

Does it really make sense to damage the quality of life in inner-city areas where residents have chosen to raise their families so someone who lives in the suburbs can shave a few minutes off their drive-time? What is the purpose of the city’s new mass transit strategy if not to reduce the volume of cars coming into the city?

This is the toll road version of folk singer Joni Mitchell’s famous lyric: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

District H Councilman Adrian Garcia says such a toll road would “wreak havoc” in the area. He also believes citizen groups should have been consulted before the county approved negotiations to take over the rail line.

Harris County Toll Road Authority spokeswoman Patricia Friese claims the hubbub over the possible use of the former rail line as a toll road is “premature.” Yet she also admits that if her agency gets the property, it would likely build the road. “The worst-case scenario,” comments Friese, “is that you’ll have a toll road instead of a rail line.”

That ignores the reality that the rail line is long gone. The city shouldn’t sit back and allow a worst-case scenario to unfold in the Heights.

The message I get from this is that the suburbanites matter more than the Inner Loopers. Needless to say, I think those are some seriously out-of-whack priorities.

I should mention there’s already a freight train that runs through the Heights, too. It’s on a track near Washington and Center Streets, and though it’s a bit more than a mile from my house at its closest point, I can still hear the train whistles from my bedroom. They’re usually blowing in the predawn hours. Just so you know.

The diversity of “Lost”

Nice atricle about the diversity of the cast of “Lost” and how it happened more or less naturally. And here’s a word about Staten Island’s newest breakout star-to-be:

“What’s cool about that, actually, is that on an international flight, you have people from all different countries, so it doesn’t feel forced at all,” agreed Daniel Dae Kim, a Korean-born, American-reared actor whose Lost character, Jin, speaks no English whatsoever.

Kim owes his job in part to Yunjin Kim, the Korean-born actress who plays his wife, whose audition for another role in the show “blew us away,” said executive producer Damon Lindelof. “We realized that she spoke fluent Korean and decided that we should have a Korean character on the island. And maybe it was a husband and wife.”

Lindelof’s fellow executive producer, J.J. Abrams, added that “one of the things we were talking about before then was we knew we wanted to have a couple that didn’t speak English.”

For Daniel Dae Kim, it’s “an opportunity because I haven’t had a chance to speak any Korean in any of the projects I’ve done.”

I can’t wait to see what happens next on this show. However long they maintain it, it’s been a fun ride so far.

Another lawsuit in the wall

The kids who sang the chorus in Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” are suing for royalties.

Twenty-three teenage pupils from Islington Green School secretly recorded vocals for the track, which became an anthem for children with the chorus “We don’t need no education.”

On hearing the song, the headmistress banned the pupils from appearing on television or video — leaving them no evidence and making it harder for them to claim royalties — and the local school authority described the lyrics as “scandalous.”


Royalties expert Peter Rowan told Reuters he was appealing to a music royalties’ society on behalf of a former pupil and was working with other members of the class. He said he was still trying to contact the majority of the group.

“They are owed their money and we lodged the first claim last week,” Rowan told Reuters. “I’ve been working on it for almost two years.”

Assuming they win, I’m curious to know who owes them the money. Pink Floyd itself? If so, is that David GilmoreGilmour or Roger Waters? The label? I figure that’s more likely, but what if it had gone belly-up? It’s an interesting question.

UPDATE: Spelling corrected. My apologies to David and his kin.

Another hidden danger of the holiday season

I just heard a Neil Diamond version of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”. If the Republican Party wants to use its complete legislative hegemony for good and not for evil, they would take immediate steps to ban such things forever.

And that was followed by Jessica and Ashlee Simpson doing “The Little Drummer Boy”. Just shoot me now…

Legal costs for indigent defendants rise

With the passage of the Fair Defense Act in 2001, this should be no surprise.

The cost of providing lawyers for poor defendants in Harris County has risen about 80 percent since the Legislature set new criminal defense standards in 2001.


For the 12 months ending Sept. 30, indigent defense costs in local felony, misdemeanor and juvenile courts neared $20 million, compared with $11 million three years ago.


The number of indigent cases in Dallas is falling, but in Harris County it has shot up 75 percent in the past two years, from 42,667 to 74,879. The number of defendants who are indigent rose from 38 percent to 61 percent.

Troy McKinney, who was president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association when the act was implemented, said one reason for the latter increase is that judges are setting higher bonds, causing people to remain in jail longer.

“Five years ago a first-degree felony might have a $20,000 bond,” McKinney said. “Today, it may have a bond of $50,000. So the odds of remaining in custody are greater.” Defendants in jail “get an appointed lawyer almost automatically.”

Yet another cost of Git Tuff On Crime. Maybe a wee bit more judgment here would be helpful, you know?

The question of court-appointed defense attorneys versus a public defender ysstem is something I’d like to see studied in more detail. My opinion is that for a county as big as Harris, a public defender system would make more fiscal sense, but that’s just my opinion. I’d like to see someone delve into the data and come up with some decent facts before I commit on that. I’d also like to hear Scott‘s opinion when his holiday hiatus is over.

Muusings and the Sideshow

Sarah Berel-Harrop, a frequent commenter around here of late and a member of the Hubert Vo campagin team, has her own blog now. I promised her I’d give her some publicity when she got started, and I’m pleased to do so for an intelligent, progressive Houston voice like hers. Check it out.

Elsewhere, Avedon Carol has a new home. She still needs to get a working RSS feed, but update your blogrolls, and hopefully that will follow.

Explain that one to me again

OK, so UT muffs an extra point attempt against Texas A&M. The ball, which was never held properly, is kicked into the end zone, where an Aggie falls on it. The refs then award UT a one-point “safety”, which apparently must be kosher since A&M Coach Fraudchione isn’t blowing a gasket over it. I know that if the Aggie had picked it pu and run it back it would’ve been two points their way, but I’m boggled as to why this isn’t simply a touchback/dead ball.

Like the announcers, I’ve never seen or heard of this before. What would the call have been if a UT player had fallen on the ball? If the only good outcome for A&M after this kind of blown PAT attempt is for the ball to roll out of the end zone on its own, then maybe this is a dumb rule. Anyone out there have a better perspective on this one?

UPDATE: Lynn Swann finally gave an explanation that made sense. Apparently, the muffed kick was picked up in the field of play by an Aggie, and in the course of bringing it back, he fumbled it into the endzone. When another Aggie fell on it there, it became a one-point safety by rule 8-3-1. That’s still the weirdest play I’ve seen in a long, long time.

UPDATE: The Chron explains the play.

Baby blogging

No, this is not a feeble attempt to one-up all those catbloggers. I’m just noting a story about Yet Another Trend In Blogging.

Baby blogs are fast becoming the new mommy (or daddy) must-have. Like other kinds of blogs, they vary in quality and style, but at their core are oodles of adorable baby pictures, practical parenting advice and such nuggets as “Bobby did the cutest thing today.”

They may have started as a way to keep distant relatives in touch with a new baby in the family, but they often are read by complete strangers, thanks to myriad Web links connecting baby blogs worldwide.

The sites, with names such as Daddyzine and Bloggingmommies, are this generation’s baby books, though many bloggers also scrupulously record every burp, giggle and bottle in book form as well.

Of course, it’s impossible to know how many baby blogs there are, but “they’ve taken off faster than other blogs,” said Clancy Ratliff, who is writing about gender-specific Web logs for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Minnesota.

I actually suggested to Tiffany that we set up a baby blog as an easy way to share pictures, but I’ve been sending out links to uploaded pix via email instead. I may still push for it some day, though the idea of having to explain what an RSS feed is to my parents is a bit daunting. We’ll see.

Exploding cellphones

Great. Another thing to worry about.

Over the past two years, federal safety officials have received 83 reports of cell phones exploding or catching fire, usually because of incompatible, faulty or counterfeit batteries or chargers. Burns to the face, neck, leg and hip are among the dozens of injury reports the agency has received.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is providing tips for cell phone users to avoid such accidents and has stepped up oversight of the wireless industry. There have been three voluntary battery recalls, and the CPSC is working with companies to create better battery standards.

“CPSC is receiving more and more reports of incidents involving cell phones, and we’re very concerned of the potential for more serious injuries or more fires,” said agency spokesman Scott Wolfson.

U.S. phone makers and carriers say most fires and explosions are caused by counterfeit batteries and note that in a country with some 170 million cell phone users, the number of accidents is extremely low.

“Is it a problem? It has turned up, you bet. But statistically it is extraordinarily rare,” said John Walls, spokesman for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. “But the fact that it has happened certainly has the industry’s attention.”

Some consumer advocates say the cause goes beyond bad batteries making their way to the market. They point to the increasing pressure on battery and phone makers to fit more capabilities into small instruments.

“If you’re cramming more and more power in a small space, what you’re making is a small bomb,” said Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based Wireless Consumers Alliance, which has been tracking incidents of cell phone fires and explosions.

A lovely thing to contemplate as I sit here with my cellphone in my pocket, no?

Must it always be about religion?

Meet Al Hartman, the man behind City Proposition 2.

“I’m doing this because it’s right versus wrong,” says Hartman, 52, an attentive, mild-mannered real estate developer who proclaims he has been “on fire for the Lord” since becoming a born-again, evangelical Baptist 10 years ago.


[Mayor Bill] White, a Methodist, said he deeply appreciates religious faith but doesn’t understand what it has to do with competing revenue caps.

“In my faith, there’s not too much about airport revenues in the Scriptures,” he said.

Whatever. I’m with the Mayor on this one, and you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that Prop 2 was more “moral” than Prop 1 or opposition to both measures. I respect Hartman’s faith, but I wish he’d respect mine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

No news is good news today. Enjoy the food, family, and football, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Ronnie Earle fights back

I’m thinking we might have ourselves a theme in this.

Politicians in Congress are responsible for the leaders they choose. Their choices reflect their moral values.

Every law enforcement officer depends on the moral values and integrity of society for backup; they are like body armor. The cynical destruction of moral values at the top makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job.

In terms of moral values, this is where the rubber meets the road. The rules you apply to yourself are the true test of your moral values.


There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.

The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt.

I don’t think I can improve on that. Via Josh Marshall.

Still doing the Convention Center shuffle

Carlos Guerra writes about the continuing effort to develop a bigger and badder convention center hotel in San Antonio, and follows it up with a look at the numbers game. This is a topic I’ve touched on before. You’d think experience would eventually be a good teacher, but you’d apparently be wrong. Via Lasso.

Heflin to challenge election

You know, I try not to curse or swear on this site, but I’m having a hard time controlling myself.

State Rep. Talmadge Heflin will ask the state House of Representatives today to overturn the results of his failed re-election bid and either order him returned to the Legislature or call for a new election.

Heflin’s attorney, Andy Taylor, said the election results in state House District 149 in southwest Harris County were fraught with voting irregularities and potential fraud, most of which occurred in predominantly Democratic precincts.

“The true outcome of this election was stolen from the voters in House District 149,” Taylor said Tuesday. “We will prove that Representative Talmadge Heflin was re-elected.”

Bastard. I cannot begin to express the contempt and enmity I have right now for Andy Taylor, Talmadge Heflin, and any other Republican who would join in this cynical and power-hungry coup. A pox on them all.

Greg has the information you need to take action. And for the record, Kevin owes all the readers of this blog a beer.

UPDATE: More from Sarah.

What’s it worth to me?

In the comments here, Kevin asks:

If the e-slate totals change significantly, maybe even enough to justify a new election under House procedures, would it be worth it to you because it would drive home the need for a transparent (paper) audit trail?

I think Vo wins a new election anyway. But I do think it would be a GREAT opportunity to shore up some of our concerns as citizens (not partisans) about e-voting machines. If it happens, that is. Thoughts?

That’s a hard question, and not because I’d be concerned about a Heflin-Vo rematch. If the tradeoff were simply a new election in return for the discussion, then my answer is an unqualified Yes, it would be worth it. However, much as I want this issue on the forefront, I’d be afraid that exposing a problem in this manner would cause electoral chaos nationwide, and that for sure is not a prospect that I relish. On the other hand, I doubt we’ll ever really have this discussion without a demonstrably screwed-up election as the catalyst. Maybe it’s better to have it now where the contest in question is relatively low profile, I don’t know.

I guess I want to force the question but I’m more than a little scared of what lies behind the door. I do know that even if the manual recount here gives us the same result again, the concerns about non-verifiable voting haven’t gone away. Maybe Andy Taylor’s blustering will help break down some of the partisan divide on this. If that happens, I’ll take back the nasty things I’ve said about him. Well, the nasty things I’ve said about him in this case, anyway.

Here’s what I missed

Chron TV writer Mike McDaniel recaps the missing episode of “Desperate Housewives” and notes that it still got a pretty good local rating, despite not starting until midnight. I’m still mad at KTRK, though, and I still think it’s lousy that they won’t show a decent-hour rerun. Retrogrough has kindly offered to mail me a videotape, so at least I’ll get to see it one way or another before it does run again.

Light blogging ahead

Family obligations through the weekend and into next week mean a light blogging schedule for me during that time. I plan on enjoying my holidays and hope you will do the same. I’ll check in occasionally, and I’ll be back to normal in a week. Happy Thanksgiving!

Amend but not for Arnold

I think Byron is right about the potential trap in the “Amend for Arnold” movement, and I approve of his solution:

If Republicans are smart, they’ll turn this into a campaign about supporting immigrants, and enlist prominent Hispanic elected officials and donors to bankroll the campaign. They’ll turn this into a wedge issue to paint Democrats not supporting the amendment as anti-immigrant. And frankly, there’s no reason Democrats should be running from this issue. After all, we’ve historically been the party of immigrants.

So how do we balance the concerns of supporting immigrants and of not wanting an amendment to our constitution designed to benefit one particular person? I see an easy solution that would take the politics out. As long as this amendment is seen as benefiting one politician or one party or another, there’s no way that it will pass. There’s no way it gets two-thirds majorities in both houses and three-quarters of the state legislatures if this is seen as a partisan issue. So take the politics out of it.

Pass an amendment that allows naturalized American citizens to run for president that are born after 34 years prior to the amendment’s enactment. For example, should the amendment pass in 2005, any naturalized citizen born after 1971 would be eligible to run for president (assuming they meet the other requirements). Thus, no current politician would benefit, but within a few decades most leading non-U.S. born politicians would be eligible to run for president.

One can quibble over the details, but I think the basic concept is right on – the Constitution should not be amended for the primary benefit of one person, but for the benefit of a whole class of people. Amending “for Arnold”, or on the Democratic side, for Canadian-born Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, is wrong. Since it’s also wrong to single people out for exclusion, the best compromise is to aim the amendment for the Presidents of the future, namely those who aren’t old enough to qualify yet.

Rosenberg for DNC Chair

I heartily approve of this. Rosenberg has just about everything I’d want in a DNC Chair – non-recycled insider, creative outside-the-box thinker who makes things happen, and non-controversial (sorry, Howard). If only it weren’t almost too hard to believe the powers-that-be won’t screw it up…

Not off the hook

Reports that anyone may be off the hook in the Travis County grand jury investigations are premature.

Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox, who is leading the investigation, said all individuals associated with Texans for a Republican Majority are still potential suspects in the case. But Cox said no further grand jury investigation or potential indictments will occur before January.

“No one has ever named Tom DeLay or any other individual as a target in this investigation. Nor have we ever said that anyone is off the hook,” Cox said.

Cox said District Attorney Ronnie Earle “has repeatedly said that anybody who committed a crime is a target in this investigation. And this investigation is ongoing.”

Cox reacted to a CBS News report that said DeLay is unlikely to be indicted in the case by saying, “It would be premature to talk about who may or may not be indicted at this point.”

Three of DeLay’s political associates have been indicted on charges of illegally flowing corporate money into 2002 Republican campaigns for the Texas House.

The GOP takeover of the House in that election set the stage for DeLay to push a major congressional redistricting bill through the Legislature.

Cox said prosecutors in those cases have been too busy to present any additional information to the current grand juries.

“Given the limited amount of time left in the term of these grand juries, combined with the time off for the holidays and other interruptions that we expect, it’s not feasible to start with anything with these grand juries,” Cox said. “So we will probably wait until January to begin any major action in the grand jury.”

Which is consistent with what they’ve been saying all along about who is and isn’t a target. It doesn’t specifically refute what the anonymous source said, but neither does it confirm anything. So sit tight for awhile, they’ll be back after the holidays.

In maybe-related, maybe-not news, the President and CEO of Bacardi, one of the TRMPAC Indicted Eight, has resigned to “spend more time with his family”. Make of that what you will.

Desperate programming

You know, it’s bad enough that local ABC affiliate KTRK bumped “Desperate Housewives” to 11:35 PM last night so it could simulcast the Texans-Packers game, but what really cheeses me off is that they couldn’t bother to wrap up their endless highlight show in time for that rescheduled slot. As such, unless you set your VCR or TiVo to record for an arbitrary length of time, or you stayed up well past midnight, you turned on the tube today to learn that you did not record as planned. And there’s no rebroadcast set for this week, so pretty much everyone in the Houston area who didn’t take extraordinary measures got screwed out of seeing this week’s episode. Thanks for nothing, guys.

Recount for Heflin

Talmadge Heflin has asked for a manual recount of the votes in his electoral loss to Hubert Vo.

State Rep. Talmadge Heflin has asked the state to order a manual recount of all ballots cast earlier this month in Heflin’s unsuccessful bid for a 12th term in the Legislature.

Heflin’s attorney, Andy Taylor, said that the Heflin campaign had uncovered “deeply disturbing evidence of voter fraud and election irregularities” and that the problems may have contributed to Heflin’s 32-vote loss to businessman Hubert Vo earlier this month.

“Illegal votes were counted, and legal votes were rejected,” Taylor said this afternoon.

Officials with Heflin’s campaign filed a petition with the Texas Secretary of State’s office today asking that the Harris County Clerk’s Office hand-count the approximately 42,000 ballots cast in the race for state representative in House District 149 in southwest Harris County.

That recount could be complete by the first week of December, Taylor said.

Although Heflin and his supporters decided to seek the recount, Taylor said no decision has yet been made on whether to contest the election results in the state House of Representatives. Campaign officials have until the end of the day Thursday to decide that issue, he said.

This request is no surprise, and it’s perfectly appropriate. As noted before, this is really a hand count of the paper ballots, since the eSlate votes can only be done on the computer. As also noted, no recount has ever changed an electoral result in Harris County, Andy Taylor’s bloviating notwithstanding. Good luck to you, Talmadge, but don’t throw out your resume just yet.

One more thing: I’ve said this before, but I do hope someone in HCDP is writing down all these nasty things Andy Taylor is saying about Bev Kaufman so we can use them against her in the 2006 election. Feel free to search my archives, fellas, it’s all there for you.

UPDATE: Vince points out something I (like Greg) did not know:

Electronic balloting seems at issue for Heflin’s camp. His attorney, Andy Taylor–who figured prominently in the state’s congressional redistricting saga last year–said Harris County’s e-Slate voting machines allow election officials to print out an image of each vote that was cast.

If that’s true, then the full manual recount Taylor spoke about makes sense. Obviously, this will cost more than just a recount of the absentee ballots, but obviously, Heflin can afford it. I tell you what, though, if this turns the election – hell, if it changes the eSlate totals by one lousy vote – there will be a huge stink raised about their reliability and the need for a verifiable paper trail, and rightly so. That’s a mighty big can of worms you’ve got there, Talmadge.

Off the hook?

Via Political Wire, an anonymous source has told CBS News that Tom DeLay will not be indicted in Travis County.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, appears to have dodged a bullet.

The powerful GOP chieftain is unlikely to be indicted by a state grand jury probing alleged campaign finance violations in Texas, according to an official involved in the investigation.

“No, no, I really don’t think DeLay will be indicted,” the official told “And to be quite honest, [DeLay’s] lawyers know that.”


A review of documents made public through civil litigation indicate DeLay was kept aware of the fundraising activities that were taking place. (DeLay’s daughter was a paid consultant to two fund-raising committees that pumped money into the races.)

Nevertheless, the official familiar with investigation said investigators would have to establish that DeLay “acted to promote” the illegal activity, and that such evidence had not been forthcoming.

“To indict and prosecute someone, we have to be able to show not just that they were aware of something,” the official explained. “We have to show that they engaged in enough conduct to make them party to the offense.”

There were also jurisdictional hurdles, the official said.

“For a penal code offense [such as money laundering] we would have to find something done in Travis County, Texas, to be able to indict,” the officials said. “And [DeLay] wasn’t here very often.”

One wonders if an anonymous source to CBS News will be a bright unimpeachable beacon of truth to Republicans now. If whiplash is contagious, we’d all better get ready to buy neck braces.

Anyway, back when the indictments of Jim Ellis, John Colyandro, and Warren Robold were handed down, it was noted but not widely reported that Travis County DA Ronnie Earle might not have jurisdiction over DeLay because he doesn’t live in Austin but does live in Texas. I’ve never seen anything to contradict that, so I can’t say this surprises me even if it is for a different reason. But this raises the question that Josh is asking – if it’s such a poorly kept secret that Earle can’t touch DeLay, then why bother implementing the Tom DeLay Scoundrel Protection Act? (Possible answers: They know there’s evidence out there and it’s just a matter of time; they figure the three indicted conspirators will roll on DeLay rather than go to jail; they did it because they could and what are you wimpy treasonous liberals gonna do about it?)

Comment approval problem resolved

OK, I got a response to my support ticket, which seems to have resolved the problem of all comments needing to be approved before they appeared. I needed to delete the following old MT Blacklist files:

extlib/jayallen/*.* (three .pm files)

Note that the second file is in the plugins directory, not the Blacklist subdirectory from there, which you create when you install the MTB plugin. Hope this helps anyone else who may be experiencing this problem.

SNAPping back

File this under “Things Enron affected that you didn’t know they affected”.

After [Enron]’s collapse, SNAP’s budget fell from $3 million to $2.5 million.


SNAP ( has slowly recovered, and now has its largest annual budget ever, $5.5 million, after gaining a foothold in communities outside of Houston. It has contracts to provide free or low-cost spaying and neutering in poor areas of Los Angeles, Albuquerque, N.M., and Monterrey, Mexico.

It’d be nice to know what SNAP did to rebuild its budget. I suspect they’re among the better-placed right now of Enron’s orphaned charities.

Ron Artest’s suspension

Ron Artest has been suspended for the rest of the NBA season for his role in the arena melee from the weekend.

Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest, who led the charge into the stands and sparked a near riot at the end of the game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., was suspended for the remainder of the season without pay. He is the first player ever suspended for almost an entire season for fighting during a game.

Nine players in all were suspended for a combined total of 143 games.

I have no quarrel with the suspensions that Stern handed out. I’m not going to claim that had I been in Ron Artest’s place I’d have been able to react rationally after being hit in the face by a cup of beer, but the league cannot tolerate players charging into the stands any more than it could tolerate fans storming the court. Stern’s response was harsh but fair.

That said, if equally harsh sanctions are not levied on the morons in the stands who helped precipitate this travesty, then Ron Artest got screwed and ought to consider a lawsuit himself. I totally agree with Eric McErlain here:

Here’s hoping the Pistons work with the police to identify any fan who was involved last night, and ban them from the Palace for life.

In addition, the NBA needs to take a cue from the NFL, and revoke the season tickets of any fan who provided tickets to anybody who was involved in the brawl last night. That’s the course the New York Giants took after the infamous “Snowball Game” at Giants Stadium back in 1995 where one San Diego Chargers assistant wound up being sent to the hospital.

Damn straight. Any fan who can be shown to have thrown something should never be allowed to set foot in the arena again. If I were a Pistons season ticket holder, I’d be demanding a refund if that didn’t happen. I’d also want to know why there wasn’t more security around the players’ benches.

Finally, I heard some commentator on NPR this morning who put some blame on “antagonistic” attitudes in stadia towards opposing teams. He said that the way player intros are done nowadays demonizes opponents, and that there used to be more “respect” in the older days. I have to say, that’s a load of crap. Ugly confrontations between players and fans are a part of our history, from the ancient days of Ty Cobb to the days of my youth to now. Sports is an aggressive, confrontational business, and this sort of thing is bound to happen now and then. The best we can do is be prepared for it, by having the resources on hand to deal with it, and by making the price for causing the problem to be steep enough to deter most people from succumbing to the temptation. The NBA has done its part; now it’s up to the Pistons and the local DA’s office to do theirs.

UPDATE: Tom Kirkendall remembers an incident from the 1970s at the venue formerly known as The Summit.

Dubose on Abramoff and Scanlon

This is the chapter that Lou Dubose and Jan Reid would have added to their book “The Hammer” if publication had been delayed until now. It’s a good overview of where things stand in the Senate investigation of DeLay cronies Mike Scanlon and Jack Abramoff regarding their Indian tribe lobbying ripoff. Will John McCain be the man to take down DeLay? He may have a better shot at it than you think. Check it out.

Keep your hands off my tax returns

The Istook Amendment. Is this what those of you who supported Republican candidates in the election were voting for? How about the Presidential yacht? Somehow, I don’t recall that being a theme in the campaigns. It sure as hell isn’t something I stand for.

John McCain is right: The system is broken.

The upgrade so far

I’m liking the new version of Movable Type so far, and other than the sheer drudgery of FTPing all the new files to my webhost it was pretty darned easy to do. One problem I have noticed, and I’ve got both a support forum question and a support ticket open for it, is that all comments have required my approval, even though I do not have “Enable Unregistered Comment Moderation” selected. Bottom line is that until I get this cleared up, you won’t see your comments here until I see and approve them. Needless to say, I want to get this fixed soon. I’ll post something when it is. Thanks for your patience.

“Ruby shot Lee Harvey, TV proved he did”

Here’s your chance to learn more about Jack Ruby, the man who shot the man who shot the President in 1963.

Even if you’re still not sure who killed Kennedy, you’re probably pretty certain who killed his alleged assassin.

After all, strip club owner Jack Ruby was caught on live TV and in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph firing the shot that killed Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 24, 1963, two days after President Kennedy was gunned down in a Dallas parade.

But — in the eyes of the law, at least — Ruby died an innocent man.

That’s just one of the facts explored in a new exhibit at Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum, which seeks to set the record straight on Ruby’s life, crime and trial. “Jack Ruby: Voices from History” debuted earlier this month as the nation prepares to mark the 41st anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination on Monday.

Though a jury convicted Ruby in 1964 of murder with malice and sentenced him to death, an appeals court later reversed the verdict on the grounds that a police sergeant gave false and inadmissible testimony and that the trial should have been moved outside Dallas County.

Ruby became ill and died in January 1967, a month before his new trial was set to begin in Wichita Falls.

The temporary exhibit, separate from the permanent exhibit on Kennedy’s assassination, is expected to run at least six months, organizers said. It’s a patchwork of photos, newspaper pages, artifacts and quotes from witnesses, key players, Ruby’s acquaintances and Ruby himself.

“Every time we talk to people about Jack Ruby, we find that not many people know much about him,” said museum curator Gary Mack.

Check it out.

KLOL still in the news

The local ABC affiliate did a story on the KLOL format change, with an emphasis on the online reaction to it all.

Christopher Jones was one of the impassioned Rock 101 listeners. After the change, the Kingwood College student jumped on the internet looking for answers but found little out there. So he decided to create a website to help himself and others cope with the situation. The following Monday, was born, a site that tried to provide answers to puzzled KLOL listeners and with an online petition, maybe bring the station back.

“I had only told one person the first day and I had signatures from people that I work with that I hadn’t even told about it yet,” Jones told “Word has spread like wildfire.”

Jones was a big fan of the former station. He listened to the long time rocker every day as he ran errands. While he knew that radio stations go through changes for business reasons, he was surprised that Rock 101 disappeared with no explanation.

“Rock 101 KLOL had been on the air for 34 years with the same format,” Jones said. “Some families had two or three generations of KLOL listeners. It is hard to believe a company would end that overnight.”

Brandon Goetz had the same feelings. Wasting no time, Goetz created hours after the station flipped formats. The site lets fans talk, sign a different online petition and mobilize. A post on the site claims it organized a group that passed out 10,000 flyers demanding rock radio’s return to Houston during the recent Metallica concert at the Toyota Center.

“I have my doubts about Clear Channel Communications bringing back Rock 101 based on their past dealings in Houston and around the state,” Goetz said. “But if you can make enough noise, somebody will have to listen.”

And this group of displaced Rock 101 listeners is making plenty of noise. So far these two petitions are nearing 20,000 signatures. Message boards from to our own message boards have been full of chatter too.

Blogs like and started to speculate the demise of the station immediately. Some posts even pondered if the switch was a big publicity stunt.

Ah, fame. Based on the number of comments I’ve gotten – I lost count after 200 or so – I can totally believe that those sites have had heavy traffic on this. I’m still getting Google referrals by the boatload.

Not that any of this will matter, of course.

Ken Charles, Vice President of Programming for Clear Channel’s Houston stations, says he’s noticed the web uproar and is not surprised by it.

“KLOL has been around for 34 years. It has great heritage and is a piece of history,” Charles told “When a piece of history changes, it’s going to get a reaction. We respect that, but its time had come.”

I suppose it did, but as we well know, it didn’t have to be that way. More’s the pity.