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October 22nd, 2002:


Inspired by this article in the MIT Technology Review (sadly, only a preview is available here), I’ve finally decided to enable Trackback. If a fellow MT user would care to ping me so I can verify I’ve done this correctly, I’d appreciate it.

Will Hispanics vote for Tony Sanchez?

Josh Chafetz has questioned some of my implicit assumptions in the comments on this Matt Yglesias post. I had expressed my skepticism of the recent DMN poll that gave a 10-point lead to John Cornyn over Ron Kirk and a 15-point lead to Rick Perry over Tony Sanchez.

Josh makes the following assertion about Hispanic voters and the likelihood that they will vote as a monolithic bloc:

Or, to look a little closer to home, consider the 2001 Houston mayoral race. There, conservative Hispanic Orlando Sanchez lost by less than 1.5 percent to incumbent Lee Brown. And, as the Houston Chronicle article I just linked to notes, “Sanchez cobbled together the same coalition of conservative whites and Hispanics that put Bob Lanier in office in 1991.” Lanier is white — suggesting that Sanchez wasn’t simply attracting the Hispanic vote because he himself is Hispanic.

It’s true that the Democratic Party doesn’t have a lock on Hispanic voters, in Texas or elsewhere. President Bush is quite popular here with Hispanic voters. It’s true that Tony Sanchez has had to fight some early disinterest among Hispanic voters in the race – some 44 percent in a Houston Chronicle poll taken in September had “little interest” in the race.

But it’s also true that the Orlando Sanchez example is exactly what Tony Sanchez is hoping for. Here’s an excerpt from a Chron story written on November 26, 2001, by Lori Rodriguez, a few days before the runoff between Orlando Sanchez and Lee Brown:

And on Nov. 6 in Houston, Orlando Sanchez , a first-generation immigrant from Cuba and a Republican, drew more than 60 percent of the mainly Mexican-American and historically Democratic Latino electorate in his bid to be the city’s first Hispanic mayor.

From the venerably Mexican-American barrios of the east side to the more integrated Latinos in middle-class enclaves, a majority of Hispanic voters shrugged aside partisan ties and political ideology to cast a vote for ethnic pride, for “La Raza.”

“Some of them considered the politics, saw the last name and said `that’s good enough for me,’ ” says University of Houston political scientist Adolfo Santos.

“Sanchez certainly let everybody know that he’s a Republican and conservative.”


In the first flex of Hispanic muscle in the early 1970s, Mindiola served as Harris County chairman of La Raza Unida, a political third party forged from the ranks of disgruntled Hispanic Democrats. For decades, he has monitored the community’s political maturation via exit polls in key races; the most recent was District I, Houston’s first Hispanic -majority council seat.

Of 233 Hispanic voters in the district surveyed on Election Day, 62 percent voted for Sanchez , 25 percent chose Brown and 11 percent went with Councilman Chris Bell, who was eliminated from the runoff. More tellingly, in a city where the mostly Mexican-American Hispanic political establishment energetically opposes Sanchez , 72 percent of Hispanics voting for Sanchez identified themselves as liberal or moderate Democrats.

“District I tells us that party loyalty doesn’t mean a damn thing when you get to vote for one of your own,” says [Tatcho] Mindiola, [director of the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican-American Studies]. “It tells us we don’t care what our leadership is doing, we’re going to vote for a cousin.

If Hispanic Democrats disregarded party and ideological identity to vote for the potential first Hispanic mayor of Houston, is it hard to imagine the same thing among Hispanic Republicans and the potential first Hispanic Governor of Texas? I don’t think so.

Obviously, Tony Sanchez will need a much higher percentage of the Hispanic vote than Orlando Sanchez got. I believe the hope is for 75%. Given that more Hispanics are Democrats to start with, that’s a smaller hill for him to climb.

Again, I’m not saying this will happen. I’m saying it’s what Tony Sanchez is trying to make happen. If he drives the turnout, he’ll reap the reward.

Wallace and Gromit are back!

Woo hoo, a new Wallace and Gromit short film is out, with a full-length feature due in two years! Via the Donk.

Wimmin playin’ f’ball

Texans, schmexans. Houston already has a championship football team. And their owner plays cornerback. Take that, Jerry Jones!

Robin Howington awakes on a Saturday, makes a pot of coffee, turns on the VCR and studies a game film for the third time in a week.

Howington plays defense on the Houston Energy, the two-time national champions in the Women’s Professional Football League — and undefeated again this season.

The Dallas quarterback mostly throws slants to the right, Howington notes as she sips her coffee. And the receivers don’t run patterns out to the sidelines. Her job as a starting cornerback will be easy — even for a rookie.

Satisfied with her observations, Howington turns to her more challenging role on the Houston Energy — as owner.

Howington has been chief cook and bottle washer for her team, which she’s run at a loss since the WPFL doesn’t have a whole lot of fans or any kind of corporate sugar daddies. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some things in common with the better-known sports leagues:

The first two years as owner were rough, so overwhelming she didn’t have time to play the game. Howington changed her coaching staff early in the first season, parting ways with former Houston Oilers wide receiver Haywood Jeffires.

Meanwhile, she dealt with the invariable problems of leading 60 people. Players complained they weren’t playing enough, others demanded money or special perks for their talent. One even hired a lawyer to make Howington pay for her Super Bowl ring.

I assume the writer meant “inevitable” problems, but whatever. Howington has spent $100,000 of her money on the team. I wish her luck in getting funding for the future.

Another Dem endorsement

Amazing. The Chron has endorsed Kirk Watson for Attorney General, meaning that they went with the Democratic candidate in three out of the four big statewide races. And they threw in an endorsement for Debra Danburg in her State House race against Martha “No Thong” Wong (see the comments here for the etymology of the nickname) for good measure.

The Chron has endorsed very few Democratic candidates in major races in the past decade or so. Some of that was, admittedly, due to a lack of good candidates at the state level in recent years – the last serious Democratic candidate for Senate was probably Lloyd Bentsen in 1988 – and some of it was not. This is the strongest top-to-bottom slate of Democratic candidates in awhile, and I’m pleased and more than a little amazed to see the Chron recognize it.

Now if only their crappy election section had some info on early voter turnout…

North Korea confesses additional misdeeds

The Noose has the scoop:

PYONGYANG — Following on the heels of last month’s admission that his country had kidnapped Japanese nationals, and last week’s extraordinary revelation that North Korea possessed a secret nuclear weapons program, leader Kim Jong Il disclosed on Monday that his nation was guilty of additional malfeasance.

“We sank the Lusitania,” Mr. Kim admitted. “Also, we shot down Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. We killed J.R. We stole Fizzy Lifting Drink.”

You read it here first, folks.

When will the home version be available?

Scott points me to some cool news:

Seattle-based computer maker Cray is collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories here on a new, faster supercomputer – Red Storm – that will be seven times more powerful than the federal weapons lab’s current supercomputer.

Red Storm, expected to go into operation sometime in fiscal year 2004, will have a theoretical peak performance of 40 trillion calculations per second.

Excellent. I didn’t know Cray was still in business, what with Seymour Cray’s death and all those advances using parallel PC processors. Nice to see they’re still around and making headlines.

Here is the text of a speech Seymour Cray gave in 1996. Here is a slide show overview of the man and his computers. Here is a 1995 interview with Seymour Cray.

Sandia’s Jim Tomkins and [Sandia’s director of computers Bill] Camp were the architects of the Red Storm design, which Sandia said was strongly influenced by the successes of the Cray T3E and ASCI Red supercomputers.

Tomkins said Red Storm could be upgraded to 60 trillion calculations per second, and the system architecture is designed to scale up to hundreds of trillions of calculations per second.

Cray was just talking about cracking the teraflop (one trillion floating point operations per second) boundary in 1996. This machine will be fairly close to doing petaflops (1000 teraflops), something that Cray thought would be another 20 years off.

Fastow mansion sold

Sometimes snarkiness is no substitute for the actual text of a newspaper story:

The River Oaks mansion of former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow has sold for $3.9 million to another local energy company CFO.

Thomas Hook, the CFO of privately held Hilcorp Energy, purchased the home at 3005 Del Monte with his wife, Laura. The 11,493-square-foot home was on the market for about $4.3 million through Greenwood King agent Karen Garrett.

Pause for a moment to marvel at how many times your own house could fit into 11,493 square feet.

Federal prosecutors claim Fastow built the home with laundered money, according to court documents, so the proceeds will be turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service until a judge rules on whether it was looted from Enron Corp.

Hmm. We may be onto a way to combat the federal budget deficit here.

Hook, the son of former American General Corp. Chairman Harold Hook, previously worked for Goldman Sachs in New York and in the Houston office of accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

Man, Enron and Arthur Andersen just go together like Denny’s and La Quinta, don’t they?

The house was built with the finest materials, but about $300,000 worth of work remains to be done before the house is finished, said Martha Turner of Martha Turner Properties.

The three-story house has six fireplaces, Italian blue flagstone flooring, a state-of-the art security system, museum-quality lighting for artwork, a large outdoor pool with whirlpool, a screened summer house and an oversized three-car garage with living space above.

Never would have guessed that the deed restrictions in River Oaks allow for garage apartments. Maybe they list it as servants’ quarters.

The Fastows still live in a Southampton home worth $700,000.

Life’s a bitch, ain’t it?