Pity and loathing

I'm still working through my feelings about this Newsweek piece regarding George W. Bush's not-exactly-triumphant return to Texas. I don't know if the author realized he was basically writing about Norma Desmond, but that's the main impression I got from the piece, even as it went out of its way to be as sympathetic to this pathetic little man as it could. I guess I'm glad that he's decided to remain in the bubble he's inhabited for this century, as it likely reduces the odds of there being more written about him any time soon. At the very least, he's not following Dick Cheney's example for how to behave post-Presidency, and for that we can all be grateful. Thanks to Elise for the link.

05/27/09 | permalink | comments [2]

One more reason to be glad he's in Dallas and not here

I don't need another reason to be glad that former President Bush chose someplace other than Houston to retire to, but if you do, here's one for you.

The tab to provide crowd and traffic control at the new Preston Hollow home of former President George W. Bush could reach $1 million a year, Police Chief David Kunkle said Wednesday.

For now, the department will probably post officers in the neighborhood around the clock to deal with crowds of onlookers.

The $1 million figure is based on the cost of providing two officers in a squad car on a 24-hour basis for one year.

"We have had officers out there frequently because of the crowds and traffic," Kunkle said. How long the department will post officers in the neighborhood "depends on the amount of interest and curiosity. I don't know how long we will have to commit people."

City Manager Mary Suhm said the city does not plan to ask the federal government to reimburse Dallas for police patrols of Bush's neighborhood.

"I don't believe that it'll be a massive expense," she said. Dallas "is going to take care of the president like we would take care of any of our citizens."

I'm just glad he's someone else's problem now. And I'd be a failure as a blogger if I didn't include this:

Oh, yeah.

01/27/09 | permalink | comments [1]


I just love the way Whitehouse.gov looks now, on just about every level. And they have a blog, too, though as some people have noted, one without comments. Not that there's anything terribly unusual about a commentless blog, mind you. Besides, can you imagine how much spam and troll filtering they'd have to do?

I also love this picture. The Olmos Pharmacy in San Antonio is walking distance from the Trinity campus, and they make the best milkshakes - the old-fashioned, ice cream kind - in town. Seeing that photo makes me wish that's how I watched the inauguration, while downing a massive chocolate shake. Mmmm...

In reality, I watched the inauguration and Obama's speech from our company cafeteria, where the TVs there that are usually tuned to some idiotic daytime program were put to good use for a change. How and where did you watch?

01/20/09 | permalink | comments [7]

Hail to the Chief

As of today, we can stop saying "President-elect Obama" and start simply saying "President Obama". I'm wearing a really goofy grin just typing those words. We can also finally start the really hard and long-term work of undoing the incredible damage that now-former President Bush (and it's mighty sweet to type that, too) has wrought. The polls show that the public appears to be ready and willing to do that work to get back on track. President Obama appears ready to hit the ground running and be the leader we need. May we all be up to the task.

UPDATE: Nothing says "Presidential inauguration" like an oatmeal party.

01/20/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Evan Smith's 2012 reality check

Evan Smith has a brief essay in Newsweek in which he takes the position that Texas will not be truly competitive at the Presidential level until 2016 at the earliest. He invited people to argue with him on this; Democratic operative Glenn Smith was the first to take him up on it. I'm going to throw in my two cents' worth here.

Couple of things first. One, I actually think Smith is making the smart money bet, at least if we're wagering on who will win Texas' electoral votes in 2012. Being competitive is a more nebulous concept, but let's not get bogged down in that. I think we'll know it if and when we see it. I'm making two assumptions in my argument here. One is that the economy has substantially improved by 2012. If not - if things are as bad as they are now - the question won't be whether Obama can win Texas but whether he can still win Illinois. And two, that Team Obama will make some kind of genuine effort to compete here. I agree with Glenn Smith that the result this year could have been better had the Obama campaign directed resources here instead of using the locals to help efforts in Ohio and New Mexico and wherever else. On those assumptions, I see three ways in which Obama can improve his performance here.

1. He'll do better in East Texas and in general in the counties where he underperformed John Kerry. I believe one of the effects of not running a campaign here was that there was nothing to counteract the underground campaign - forwarded emails, talk radio blather, etc - that painted Obama in a dark and scary light. I suspect that helped contribute to the abnormally large number of people in Texas who still thought he was a Muslim. Even if Obama runs no formal campaign in Texas in 2012, I think some of this antagonism towards him will soften, if for no better reason than he'll be on TV and in the papers every day as The President instead of some newcomer on the scene with a weird name. At the very least, I'd expect him to run closer to the Democratic baseline vote in these counties.

2. He'll do better in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. Not that he didn't do pretty well in these counties to begin with - places like Hidalgo and Cameron and Webb went much more Democratic last year than in 2004. But again, as I noted in my analysis of Obama's performance in Harris County's Latino-majority State Rep. districts, he lagged the Democratic field. Here's a peek at what I mean:

County Obama Noriega Houston Yanez
Cameron +17,809 +23,797 +25,562 +30,002
El Paso +60,238 +61,572 +68,217 +70,077
Hidalgo +50,593 +52,809 +54,927 +60,599
Nueces - 4,479 + 120 + 7,695 + 7,035
Webb +20,333 +26,176 +25,561 +28,236

The numbers represent the vote margin in each county for Obama, Rick Noriega, Sam Houston, and Linda Yanez. Add it up and there's a potential 50,000 vote swing sitting there. There's also the potential for better turnout. We saw what happened in places like Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico with the Obama campaign's Latino outreach strategy. What might happen if they use that strategy in Texas?

3. There's still room to grow in the big counties, especially Harris. You know that I believe the coordinated campaign here did a great job. There's always room for improvement, however, especially if there are more resources available as there would be with a national campaign here. There's a lot of voters out west and northwest in Harris to be tapped into. Most importantly, the 2012 campaign will have the benefit of two things the 2008 did not have: The experience of doing this before, and a whole lot of incumbent countywide officeholders running for re-election. Harris in particular may take another big step in the Democratic direction in 2012.

Does this put Obama over the top in 2012? I won't go that far - it is a big gap to close, after all. But I think this puts Texas firmly into the "in play" category, and in a competitive environment, who knows what can happen? Again, it comes down to whether or not Team Obama chooses to make an effort. If they don't try, then we're all wasting our time even thinking about it. For now, let's get our new President inaugurated, and go from there.

01/19/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Hand over that BlackBerry, Mister President

That does it. I don't want to be President when I grow up any more.

Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry.

Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days.

For years, like legions of other on-the-move professionals, Obama has been all but addicted to his BlackBerry.

But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about keeping e-mail secure, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A final decision has not been made on whether he could go against precedent to become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

Boy, do I feel his pain. There are solutions for encrypting email on a BlackBerry, over and above the normal encryption of BlackBerry-transmitted emails, but I suppose a higher level of paranoia than even that would be called for here. As for the public records stuff, it's not the BlackBerry per se that's the issue here, it's the personal email correspondence, which falls into a grey area and is subject to abuse by the unscrupulous, that's in question. Better to be above suspicion and do things the prescribed way, even if that means unhooking from the grid. Being President may be a great gig, but that's a high price to pay if you ask me.

11/20/08 | permalink | comments [2]

When will it be Texas' turn?

The LA Times looks at the national coalition Barack Obama built in winning the Presidency and considers the next obvious target for expansion of the political battleground.

Texas, the nation's second-most-populous state and home to 34 electoral votes, was not a 2008 presidential battleground, and Republican nominee John McCain won there by a comfortable margin. The Obama campaign spent little money there, apart from recruiting volunteers to work in other states.

But strategists believe the large and growing Latino population there remains untapped, along with a large black electorate, which could make Texas competitive with a major investment of time and money from an Obama-led Democratic Party.

Similar possibilities exist in Arizona, another heavily Latino state that leans Republican, and Georgia, with a growing Latino population and a black electorate that grew from one-quarter of the overall voters four years ago to nearly one-third on Tuesday.

In turning Florida and Ohio, among other states, this year, Obama organizers focused for months not only on registering new voters but also on tracking down blacks, Latinos and young people who had been registered but never voted.

One top Obama strategist said the campaign had already sought to build the Texas state party, handing over a database with hundreds of thousands of voter names and phone numbers gathered when Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton competed in the state's Democratic primary. Much of the campaign's attention in that effort focused on Latinos in the Rio Grande Valley.

The strategist, Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Figueroa, Obama's top Latino outreach official, said the state could be taken seriously as a presidential battleground if Democrats could win statewide races there in 2010. "I don't know if it's four years or eight years off, but down the road, Texas will be a presidential battleground," Figueroa said.

I feel like I've covered this ground before, so let me just reiterate that until we see an actual, fully-funded, all-out effort by the Democrats to try and win in Texas, we won't know what is possible here. If you want to bring up 2002, I'll simply note that we're not living in 2002 any more, and the political landscape in the state with its increasingly blue urban areas has shifted considerably. It would be nice to have some proof of concept by winning a statewide race, say the Governorship, in 2010 as a dry run. It would be nice if someone could design and implement a real strategy for turning out Hispanic voters at a higher rate instead of just everyone talking about how nice such a thing would be. Most of all, it would be nice if the national establishment would regard Texas as an opportunity for expansion rather than just a cash cow. Team Obama has proven it can win, or at least come close, everywhere it has really made the effort. Texas is the next logical step for them to take. BOR and MyDD have more.

11/11/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Endorsement watch: Colin Powell

It had been rumored for months, but today it happened: Former Secretary of State for President Bush Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama.

"I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Powell said he was concerned about what he characterized as a recent negative turn of Republican candidate Sen. John McCain's campaign, such as the campaign's attempts to tie Obama to former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.

"I think that's inappropriate. I understand what politics is about -- I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for," he said.

More here, with video clips here and here. As far as endorsements go, this is huge, as it undercuts even more just about all of McCain's arguments for his election. I mean, if even a loyal Bush Republican like Colin Powell thinks we need the change of direction that Obama represents, then who's left to advocate for the status quo?

UPDATE: MyDD puts it in perspective.

10/19/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Endorsement watch: The WaPo and the ChiTrib for Obama

I figure this Sunday we'll see a bunch of Presidential endorsements, as it's the day before early voting begins here. I don't have any faith that Barack Obama will claim even one major paper recommendation in Texas, though I'm sure it'll be amusing to see what justifications they come up with for touting John McCain and the ugly, repellent campaign he's run, but that's not my problem. While we wait for that, let's take a look at what they should be writing, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good.

And here's the Chicago Tribune:

On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.


This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

Yes, you read that right - this is the first time they've endorsed the Democratic nominee. Surely that means that a Texas paper or two can follow suit, right? Well, here's the Lufkin Daily News:

Today through Sunday, we're making our endorsements for the 2008 election. Our endorsements are not partisan -- we supported George Bush in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Our choices reflect whose policies and strengths we think, after careful consideration, will mean a better, stronger economy and way of life for Angelina County, Texas and the United States.

To that end, the choice for this year's president is clear: Barack Obama, senator from Illinois.

His strength has been to appeal to a broad range of people, including the vital youth who are tomorrow's leaders. After watching an inflexible president go overboard in a $700 billion bailout on loyalty for his nominee, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, we think it's time for a changing of the guard.


It's the working class that are the backbone of this country, and we need someone to help us share the wealth while still encouraging a free market economy. We believe Obama has shown more interest in helping the middle class, and has proposed plans to make that happen.

Another consideration is that we should elect a president whose vice president would be ready to lead if, heaven forbid, the president were to die in office. We think Joe Biden's experience overwhelms Sarah Palin's limited appeal as a candidate who would instill confidence during a national crisis.

But just as a reminder that we're still in Texas, here's a reality check from the Amarillo Globe-News:

Barack Obama mirrors the tax-and-spend philosophies of liberal Democrats, which is not the type of change the nation needs.

John McCain has built a more conservative track record during his service in both the House and the Senate, with just the right mix of moderation, to lead the country in a positive direction.

It must be tough to hold onto the cherished old ideals these days. Who knows how much effort it must have taken to look past the outgoing two-term Republican President, who had a Republican House and Senate for much of his tenure, and the looming trillion dollar deficit he's bequeathing us, while still believing that Democrats are fiscally irresponsible? You just have to admire their tenacity in keeping the faith.

Both links come via Evan Smith, who has managed to convince himself that the big five in Texas will all endorse Obama. Evan, I love you, man, but that's just crazy talk. I'll pay for all your purchases at Starbucks for a week if that prediction pans out. Hell, I'll pay for Eileen's, too. Not gonna happen.

Meanwhile, I forgot to note yesterday that the Chron made the easy calls of endorsing incumbent State Reps. Patricia Harless in HD126 and Senfronia Thompson in HD141. Both were expected, though in Harless' case you have to wonder what changed, besides Chad Khan's disappearing act as a candidate, since 2006. At least they accurately portrayed her record and positions, unlike some other Reps I could mention.

UPDATE: Sorry, Eileen. Didn't even get a chance to work up a little suspense. Maybe next time.

10/18/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Don't mess with Alaska

Andrew Sullivan notes that Texas Republican activist Kelly Shackleford is among the litigants in Alaska trying to forestall the Troopergate investigation. To which Evan Smith asks:

Why the devil is a Texan -- and a Texas-based organization -- messing with parochial Alaskan affairs?

I can't answer that question, but I can ask another one: What do you suppose the reaction here would be to an out-of-state organization coming into Texas to throw sand into some aspect of our state's business? Probably not too pleasant, I'm thinking. Just something to think about.

10/06/08 | permalink | comments [0]


09/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Supreme Court denies Barr lawsuit

09/24/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Are you ready for some football with Barack Obama?

09/21/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Barr to county clerks: Don't mail those ballots!

09/19/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Bob Barr FTW!

09/18/08 | permalink | comments [2]

The SNL Palin/Clinton sketch

09/16/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Paul 2008, Nader 2000?

09/11/08 | permalink | comments [2]

The Palin effect

09/04/08 | permalink | comments [2]


09/02/08 | permalink | comments [3]


09/01/08 | permalink | comments [0]

More thoughts on Palin

08/29/08 | permalink | comments [5]


08/29/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Why solve a problem when you can define it away?

08/29/08 | permalink | comments [4]

There's a reason some people can't make up their minds

08/29/08 | permalink | comments [1]


08/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Not one and done

08/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

It's Biden

08/23/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Houses houses everywhere

08/22/08 | permalink | comments [3]

And the VP nominee will be...

08/20/08 | permalink | comments [3]

The candidates on immigration issues

08/15/08 | permalink | comments [0]

One and done?

08/14/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Be the first kid on your block to know who Obama's VP is

08/11/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Winning the iconography battle

08/11/08 | permalink | comments [4]

More on Obama and the downballot races

07/27/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Obama still doing well among Latino voters

07/26/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Obama's Latino outreach

07/24/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Obama's haul in June

07/19/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Cisneros and Obama

07/11/08 | permalink | comments [0]

You there! Quit whining!

07/10/08 | permalink | comments [1]

It's not a dead heat if someone is leading

07/02/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Obama to do something in Texas

06/25/08 | permalink | comments [3]

The bounce

06/23/08 | permalink | comments [0]

A tale of two headlines: Veepstakes

06/21/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Obama and Latino voters

06/19/08 | permalink | comments [0]


06/15/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Unity watch: Republicans (not) for McCain

06/13/08 | permalink | comments [0]

DeLay versus DeLay

06/13/08 | permalink | comments [3]

What will Obama do in Texas?

06/10/08 | permalink | comments [3]

Unity watch: McAuliffe and Moeller

06/09/08 | permalink | comments [0]

It's unity time

06/07/08 | permalink | comments [2]

McCain's good buddy Phil

06/06/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Hillary Clinton to suspend her Presidential campaign

06/05/08 | permalink | comments [1]


06/04/08 | permalink | comments [0]

And on the Seventieth Day ...

05/23/08 | permalink | comments [0]

The middle name game

04/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

The delegate count

04/01/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Goin' to California

03/17/08 | permalink | comments [0]

"Taking Obama to the Heights"

03/02/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Polls here, polls there

02/29/08 | permalink | comments [0]


02/25/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Clinton rally was mediocre

02/21/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Bill Clinton in Houston tonight

02/20/08 | permalink | comments [0]

This is our country, but it's not your song

02/08/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Obama will debate Hillary...somewhere

02/07/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Hillary versus Obama in Houston?

02/06/08 | permalink | comments [5]

Edwards drops out

01/30/08 | permalink | comments [3]

"Plus these babies are high in fiber, and what's the fun of becoming an immortal demon if you're not regular, am I right?"

01/05/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Mitt Romney Got A Lump Of Coal In His Stocking

12/25/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Hostages taken at Clinton NH headquarters

11/30/07 | permalink | comments [1]

"The Evolver"

09/06/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Republicans no hablan espaƱol.

08/31/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Run, dammit

08/10/07 | permalink | comments [1]

What their bumper stickers say about them

07/23/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Independent at last!

06/21/07 | permalink | comments [4]

Heck of a job, Joshie

05/23/07 | permalink | comments [2]

House approves TYC reform bill

05/09/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Elizabeth Edwards

03/22/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Ron Paul is off and running for President

03/12/07 | permalink | comments [5]

John Edwards to visit San Antonio

03/04/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Edwards stands up

02/08/07 | permalink | comments [1]

If you want me to vote for you, here's what you've got to do

02/07/07 | permalink | comments [1]


01/20/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Ron Paul for President

01/12/07 | permalink | comments [4]