There's just not enough popcorn in the world.
As if to magnify what are already major differences between elected Republicans and conservative activists on the question of Sonia Sotomayor, check out what conservative senator (and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Judiciary Comittee member and former Texas State Supreme Court Justice) had to say on NPR yesterday.
"I think it's terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent."
Republican leaders may not have as much sway over their own interest groups as Democratic leaders do over their, so don't expect the attacks to stop. But it's a bold statement. He even lashed out at Newt Gingrich and the unassailable Rush Limbaugh.
"Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials [and] I just don't think it's appropriate and I certainly don't endorse it. I think it's wrong."
You can listen to the entire interview here.
Of course, any time a Republican official says anything unflattering about Rush, it's worth asking a couple questions: Will he apologize for it? And how long will he wait?
UPDATE: Forgot to add that there's video of Big John taking on his foes. And as we know, the Rushmeister was in town last night. Here's a photo of him and some of his fanboys from that event. BOR has more.
The Texas Senate on Thursday refused to confirm Don McLeroy as State Board of Education chairman after an impassioned floor debate.
The 19 to 11 party-line vote was not enough to get McLeroy across the required two-thirds threshold. Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, abstained from the vote.
McLeroy, a Republican from Bryan, was first elected to the board in 1998 and will remain in that position.
But Gov. Rick Perry will now need to appoint another leader from the 15-member board. Critics said McLeroy's nearly two-year tenure as chairman has been dysfunctional and divisive.
San Antonio Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who chairs the Senate Democratic Caucus, said all 12 Democrats in the Senate plan to vote against the nomination [of Don McLeroy as Chair of the State Board of Education]. It takes 11 votes to block consideration of nominations.
Several other Democrats [Monday] evening confirmed the tally of 'no' votes.
"At this point, I think they've got the votes to block," acknowledged one GOP senator, who asked not to be quoted for fear of retribution by colleagues who are trying to get McLeroy approved. "I'll be a little surprised if (the Senate GOP leadership) push the vote."
How can you tell that sine die is approaching? Governor Perry starts getting involved in the legislative process.
Perhaps state lawmakers are fatigued by Gov. Rick Perry's long tenure or maybe they're just balking at his leadership, but the Republican-led Legislature this year has turned its back repeatedly on the governor's decisions and policy positions.
The Senate has rejected a Perry appointee to the parole board as incompetent for the job. His nominee for Board of Education chairman is in grave danger. The House last month stripped Perry's office of most of its funding in the budget debate, and the money had to be restored in a joint conference committee.
House lawmakers also voted to abolish the Texas Department of Transportation, which is chaired by Perry's former chief of staff, and replace it with an elected commission. Not to mention the controversial $555 million in federal stimulus money that Perry wants to reject and lawmakers seemed poised to accept.
Publicly, Perry responds by exuding a "what-me-worry?" attitude.
"I don't ever get concerned about what goes on in the Legislature," Perry said recently. "I've been doing this for 20 years. It ebbs and flows."
However, this past week, the governor engaged in a major effort to salvage his legislative agenda and public persona.
Perry threatened a special session if his emergency item on windstorm insurance reform does not pass. In state and national publications, he sought to clarify his nationally publicized remarks on Texas secession from the union. And Perry lobbied lawmakers on the House floor for passage of major restrictions on top 10 percent admissions to state universities -- a bill that had not been on Perry's list of priorities previously.
Perry's staff also had to spend part of the week distancing him from his chief campaign consultant, who told the Dallas newspaper that expanding the GOP philosophical base is like opening a "whorehouse." Several prominent Republican women denounced the statement in a letter to Perry as "in keeping with how you've governed -- through division and an appeal to fear."'
"The governor is clearly distracted by an upcoming battle in the Republican primary and is probably is somewhat less focused on the range of issues that he might have been focused on," [Sen. John] Carona said.
Many believe that Perry, by attacking the federal government and the Obama administration, is trying to shore up hard right support for his expected GOP primary re-election challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
"A lot of decisions, from my vantage point, appear to tempered by what appeals to the far right element in a Republican primary, and that can wreak havoc on the system," said state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.
As we know, the Senate confirmation of Don McLeroy as Chair of the State Board of Education, which we all thought had been scuttled back in April, got new life earlier this week when Senate Nominations Committee chair Mike Jackson, who had originally said he wouldn't bring the issue up if the votes weren't there to confirm McLeroy, brought it up and got committee approval. The full Senate will take it up next week, and the question is what if anything has changed. Elise Hu games it out.
So the Dems think they can effectively block with commitments of twelve senators to vote no. Meanwhile, TEA sources say they've heard something different.
"I've heard two or three Democrats [would vote for McLeroy]," said TEA Commissioner Robert Scott. "I've also heard one Republican is a hard 'no', so no one really knows for sure."
The timing is everything, considering the number of votes to confirm McLeroy depend on how many members are present at the time of the vote. Assuming all the Republican members will vote in favor, it would take at least three Democratic senators to leave the floor and not cast a vote in order for McLeroy to make it through.
Scott and TEA General Counsel David Anderson reminded us that this might be one of those "devil you know is better than the devil you don't" situations, saying it's unclear who McLeroy would be replaced with as chairman, and it's unknown whether that would be more or less satisfying to McLeroy's detractors.
What happens if McLeroy is not confirmed? Governor Perry gets to appoint someone else from the SBOE as Chair. He could certainly appoint someone who is equally as bad - Dunbar, Cargill, Mercer, Leo or Bradley. Or he could appoint a moderate Republican like Bob Craig, who has the best interests of Texas school children top of mind instead of a far religious right agenda.
But another question is whether McLeroy's defeat will really save the state of Texas any further embarrassment?
Maybe not. According to another bit of scuttlebutt from a lawmaker and few e-mailers today, it could actually make things worse. I always thought if McLeroy were ousted, Perry would pick one of thoughtful, sensible Republicans who serve on the board. There are several good choices: Bob Craig of Lubbock, Geraldine "Tincy" Miller of Dallas and Patricia Hardy of Weatherford.
But the name I heard mentioned today was none of those. It was Cynthia Dunbar of Richmond.
Yes, that Cynthia Dunbar.
It's certainly makes me wonder if, under at least one scenario, McLeroy's miracle could actually save us from a curse far worse.
What's an enlightened Texan to do?
As far as McLeroy himself is concerned, if I thought there was a reasonable chance that Perry would take this failure as a lesson in the need to moderate, I'd go all in on torpedoing him. But when has Perry ever done that? I believe he'll just double down on the crazy, since that's clearly his electoral strategy and this would present him with another opportunity to stroke the aggrieved paranoia of his base while giving KBH another opportunity to not address a hot button issue because she's too damn wishy-washy. Given that, I say the Dem Senators can do whatever they think is best. Draw the line in the sand, curry favor with Finance Chair Steve Ogden (who happens to be McLeroy's Senator), come down with a newly-evolved 24-hour virus and miss the whole sorry spectacle, I'm giving a free pass. Just put us all out of our misery and get it over with.
UPDATE: Muse notes that Republicans are calling Democratic senators to implore them to vote to confirm McLeroy. She also has a list of Dem senators whose position on McLeroy's confirmation are unknown.
UPDATE: And more from Muse, who clearly disagrees with me on this.
Shorter Rick Perry: "I never actually used the word 'secede'."
Fine, whatever. The judge grants your motion to dismiss on the technicality. But we all know that you've raised your national profile while gaining ground in the polls, because the voters you've been so assiduously courting like the secession talk just fine, whether you've been doing it explicitly or just making with the winks and the nudges. It's been more than a month since the teabagging parties, at which the Governor didn't quite say the word "secession" while addressing a crowd that clearly loved the idea, and he's just now writing a letter to the editor to set the record straight? That's some kind of decisive action right there.
It's too early to say how much of Rick Perry's self-proclaimed agenda will get enacted this session, as much of it hinges on the budget reconciliation process as well as on legislation that hasn't been taken up by one chamber or the other.
Some of his top goals were resupplying the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund, which he uses to
create jobs in Texasreward his cronies while making grandiose and unverifiable claims about job creation; changing the state business tax to exempt small companies with less than $1 million in revenue; and approving a voter identification law.
Lawmakers writing the two-year spending plan seemed willing to put money into Perry's job creation funds, but whether he gets the approximately $500 million combined he wanted for the accounts is far from certain. Lawmakers want more oversight of how the funds' money is spent. The House, in its version of the state budget, put restrictions on the enterprise fund money to try to force Perry to accept $555 million in federal stimulus money for unemployment benefits.
A House-Senate conference committee is working out a compromise budget plan, so several money items on Perry's wish list won't be known until that deal is finally struck.
An increase in the business tax exemption for companies from the current $300,000 to $1 million in revenue won approval in the House but has not made it through the Senate.
The Republican-backed voter identification bill, a highly charged political proposal that would require Texans to show additional ID at the ballot box beyond a voter registration card, won passage in the GOP-dominated Senate after grueling testimony and debate. Odds for the bill are slimmer in the House, where the partisan makeup is almost even.
There's another wild card in this, which the article doesn't discuss, and that's the possibility of a special session, which some people I've spoken to think is inevitable. Rep. Kuempel's health could be a factor in that as well - if he's at full strength, that bodes better for the chances of any legislation Perry would push in a special session. The advantage to calling a special session for Perry is that it gives him another 30 days to pander to his base, as well as the chance to pick up any agenda items that fall victim to the calendar. On the other hand, he can't raise money during a special session, and there's always the chance he'll still fail to get stuff passed, thus providing ammunition to KBH. Again, it's hard to say how this might play out, but the possibility is definitely there, and I'm a bit surprised the story didn't bring it up.
Grits has a link to the State Auditor's followup report on the Texas Youth Commission, which you can download here (PDF). In short: They've made progress, but they've still got some things to work out. Which may or may not bite them at their upcoming Sunset hearing. Read 'em for yourself and see what you think. Trailblazers has more.
Well, that's too bad.
Just yesterday the Texas House approved on second reading House Bill 710, which would have made the Texas State Board of Education subject to periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission. That vote was 74-68. But the House just voted down the measure on third reading, 71-73. Only one Republican crossed the aisle to vote for HB 710.
The vote came after religious conservatives -- rallied by a virtual "who's who" of right-wing pressure groups -- bombarded House offices with e-mails and phone calls opposing this common-sense bill. That pressure campaign didn't surprise us -- far-right groups have been thrilled that the state board is controlled by ideologues who keep dragging public schools into the culture wars. But the vote should be terribly disappointing for parents and other taxpayers who are tired of extremists using the State Board of Education as a playground for promoting ideological agendas.
In November of 2007, Chris Bell filed a lawsuit against Governor Rick Perry's 2006 re-election campaign and the Republican Governor's Association claiming they illegally hid $1 million in donations from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry. The suit alleges that the RGA was not legally set up to make donations at the time of the contributions to Perry. More information on the allegations in the suit is here. On Tuesday in Austin, the plaintiffs survived a motion to dismiss.
District Judge John Dietz late [Tuesday] denied efforts by Texans for Rick Perry and the Republican Governors Association to throw out a lawsuit brought against them by Democrat Chris Bell, who ran against Perry in 2006, said Bell lawyer Buck Wood.
Wood said the Dietz ruling did not address Bell's own effort to have a summary judgment in the case. If that effort is also denied, the case will move closer to a trial.
Donations and appointments
I hate you! I need disaster relief!
First they came for the science books...
I hate you! Now gimme some money!
I hate you! Please help me!
It would be OK with me if all those who favor it decide to leave
Texas secession: Views differ
Voter ID must be reviewed
"With Brinkley and Huntley describing contrapuntally the cities we have lost"
Perry walks back secession talk
Perry says "Look at me!"
Dems versus Vasquez
Not dead yet
It's the end of the world as Louie Gohmert knows it
"Play to extinction"
Win some, lose some for science
Strengths and weaknesses fails
The "strengths and weaknesses" showdown
The dentist in charge
There is a solution, you just don't see it
On gerrymandering and partisanship
If you're going to reform it, reform it right
Pete Sessions and the Taliban
That Gallup poll of partisan preferences
So how's the state of our state?
The state of the state 2009
Chron coverage of yesterday's SBOE actions
Update on yesterday's evolution happenings
Evolution remains legal in Texas
You there! Stop evolving this minute!
Harris County GOP turns to the Internet
TRCC escapes the axe
Statesman calls on Dunbar to resign
TxDOT gets sunsetted
The Cynthia Chronicles
Is that really how much it costs?
More on the Hill survey
Poll shows Democrats gaining ground in Texas
SBOE urged to not weaken science standards
IBM is the new Accenture
Lone Star Times calls on Dunbar to apologize
Travis County Attorney investigating Dewhurst
Making financial disclosures public
Don't you know who I am?
TPJ files complaint against Dewhurst
Email secrecy, Alaska style
The "John Sharp Newspaper Speculation Mentioning Act of 2003"
In the box provided, he listed "Wealth"
Newspapers win against Perry in court
Where in the world is Rick Perry?
School board campaign finance reports
Still more elected offices
More elected offices
The Nation on the state of the state
Why not just register as a lobbyist and be done with it?
The state of electronic voting in Texas
Dallas City Council says "No loonies, please"
Another year, another Secretary of State
Help Max crash the parties
Those grumpy Republicans
All I want for election season
On welcoming converts
KTRK interviews Texas DNC Rules Committee member
Settlement in vote suppression lawsuit against AG Abbott
The party to attend in Austin next week
Abbott's partisan efforts
Gotta watch those nuns
New flash: Trial lawyers weren't the problem
News flash: Professors are people, too
Supreme Court upholds Indiana voter ID law
The rise of Hispanic voting power
You may say it's not about tort reform, but it is
Prairie View voting problems, the continuing story
"Vote by mail, go to jail"
Kelly Fero: the man, the myth
Another lawsuit against Farmers Branch
Meet the new Solicitor General
The Census and the Congress
Noriega to deliver Democratic radio address
More on the Supreme Slacker Court
Abbott-instigated voter fraud cases dismissed
An interview with Rep. Hubert Vo
Term limits in San Antonio
Medina's messy finances
At long last, the Governor's emails
Ethics complaints filed against Medina and Hecht
Did you save the receipt?
The Governor's inbox
Background checks for school board members?
Your Voter ID card is in the mail
Never tell a geek it can't be done more efficiently
Truthiness in briefs
GOP will use paper ballots in Wharton County
Washburn fires back
What's in a headline?
They charged for a CD?
Lance Armstrong's political future
Still more on "The Purge"
Bell files lawsuit against Perry
Netroots Nation in Austin
Voter ID by the numbers
Email retention revisited
Ronnie Earle to retire?
Lawsuit filed over allegations of voter fraud
Don't delete that email!
Spellings for Governor?
KBH: I hate blogs!
Melissa Noriega With DFA's Jim Dean Thursday Night
AusChron gives TexBlog PAC a mention
First TexBlog PAC fundraiser a smashing success
Why recorded interviews?
The Rick Perry Road Show
Welcome, new citizens. Now get ready to vote!
TexBlog PAC fundraiser
News flash: Hispanics abandoning GOP
Lawsuit filed by ex-SOS lawyer
On Latino political power
Waiting for Kay Bailey
First, you have to admit that you have a problem
New TDP website
Burka on Heflin
Back to the future with Talmadge Heflin
Support ActBlue on Blogosphere Day
One of these officials is not like the others
What's it to Wikipedia?
Meet the new SOS
More on Roger Williams
Roger Williams steps down as SOS
An overview of TEAM
Why do they call you "Hot Tub Tom", Hot Tub Tom?
On the wrong TEAM
How about those centralized voter databases?
Why don't you come back here and say that?
Big Governor is watching you
Fort Bend Democrats barbecue
Ratliff: Change how we rate schools
TDP town hall in the Valley
39 << 100
On the radio again tonight
Perry speaks to Texas Monthly
Danno versus TAB
Of molehills and mountains
Meet Rep. Rick Noriega
CPPP urges Abbott to rule against Perry
What does the Constitution say?
McCown on the HPV order
Where were you in 2005, Jane?
Perry's needle problem: Day Three
More pushback on Perry's vaccine order
Perry's vaccination order
Bye-bye, Cassidy & Associates
The Guv and The Nuge
Perry's bipartisanship, take two
Lampson's return to Congress