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June 14th, 2004:

Ted rocks

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ted Barlow, the nattering nabob Nostradamus with the mostest.

The other MOB

You may have seen their BlogAd, now here they are in the mainstream media: Mothers Opposing Bush.

Casual chats about Harry Potter matinees and the best places for family vacations were peppered with a very different conversation topic Sunday afternoon in Dallas: politics.

A group of mothers gathered at a local park for a play date and political meeting. Its aim: Get President Bush out of the White House in November.

The Dallas chapter of Mothers Opposing Bush, or MOB, formed last month to stand up for what members call “mom issues” such as education and health care.

The play date attracted about 50 people at Dallas’ Reverchon Park.

“We have a lot of moms who are concerned about everything from the deficit to air quality, particularly in North Texas,” said Melody Townsel, a member of the group.

[…]

Fathers and grandparents also joined the rally Sunday. Organizers said that the group is nonpartisan and that several people in the grass-roots effort voted for Mr. Bush in 2000.

“My mother has always voted Republican, but she says she just can’t do it this year,” said Dallas resident Marsha Fishman.

She said she joined Mothers Opposing Bush because she was disappointed in the Bush administration’s stance on gun control.

Ms. Townsel said the group – part of a national effort – is planning voter registration drives and hopes to sponsor children’s health screenings – and more play dates.

Carol and Owen Ware of Poetry, in northern Kaufman County, said they attended the event to meet like-minded people.

“These moms are gathering not because they have degrees in foreign policy, not because they are experts, but because they have a gut feeling that this administration is wrong,” Mr. Ware said.

I’m very curious what real-world effect a group like this will have. By putting up a web page and getting free media mentions, it can reach a lot more people than grassroots organizations used to be able to do, but will they bring more voters to the polls? Will they change anyone’s mind? I’m not attempting to belittle here – hell, I love seeing stuff like this – I’d just dearly love to know of a metric that could be used to calibrate their outreach. There’s gotta be a dissertation or three for some PoliSci grad students in all this.

Bone!

Nice article on the conclusion of the “Bone” and “Cerebus” comic sagas. I’ve been a big fan of “Bone” since my ex-roommie Matt introduced me to it a few years ago. I have all of the bound collections of the “Bone” comics, since they’re much easier to store and keep track of than the comics themselves, and I’m glad to see that the last chapters will be available soon, though of course I’m sorry to see it come to an end. I totally agree with this:

More than any other current comic title, “Bone” deserves — and could support — the kind of popular attention that elevated Harry Potter from the rank and file of children’s books.

Yep. I’d love to see this adapted as a full-length animated feature, though sadly I know it’d never get the support it needed to justify the expense. Anyway, do yourself a favor and check out “Bone”. You’ll be glad you did.

RIP, Brenda Flores

Brenda Flores, the woman involved in the bizarre “other Bill White” incident from last year’s Mayoral election, has passed away from cancer at the age of 51.

Flores made an unsuccessful run for City Council in 1997, had served as a Democratic precinct chairwoman, and attended numerous demonstrations.

[…]

In Houston’s last mayoral election, Flores was in the news for arranging to enter a second man named Bill White in the race. The Bill White who later won the election learned of the plan, talked Flores out of following through with it, and paid her $5,000 from his campaign funds.

Dennis Keim said he met Flores in 1992, and the two became close friends and often were allies despite being members of opposing political parties. He said he helped to keep her computer running so she could update her Web page, www.housnitch.com.

“When it came to government spending, she was the watchdog,” Keim said. “One little renegade lady who was taking on the City of Houston.”

He said she had “a network of people who fed her information,” and her “biggest, latest fight” has been trying to get the city to pass an ordinance to protect whistle-blowers.

Rest in peace.

Bell v. DeLay

Outgoing Rep. Chris Bell, a casualty of the DeLay-engineered redistricting, is fighting back by filing an ethics complaint against The Hammer. This is sure to send shock waves around DC, as it is the first real ethic complaint since the House rules were changed in 1997.

Bell’s move against DeLay is unusual in that it defies an unofficial but widely acknowledged truce among House lawmakers against filing ethics complaints against each other.

Under House rules, only a member can file an ethics complaint against another member. In seven years, there has been little activity in House ethics investigations, said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“I think this filing will really push the ethics committee to take a hard look at this,” said Sloan, a federal prosecutor who worked with Bell in drafting the complaint. “When no one has been willing to do this for seven years, it is not an easy thing to suddenly go and file a complaint against DeLay, who is known to be one of the most vindictive people in government.”

[…]

[Bell spokesman Eric] Burns declined to provide the document until it is filed and would only confirm that the complaint is in the works. However, two people who have seen the complaint say it will allege, among other things, that DeLay:

· Improperly accepted campaign contributions from Kansas-based Westar Energy Corp. in exchange for help securing a special exemption from federal regulation.

· Funneled illegal corporate contributions, including from Westar and others, through the Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee to GOP candidates for the Texas House.

· Solicited the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration to track more than 50 Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled from Austin to Ardmore, Okla., in 2003. Their exodus denied the state House a quorum and temporarily stalled work on the DeLay-backed redistricting program.

In each instance, DeLay has denied any wrongdoing. [DeLay spokesman Jonathan] Grella said Bell’s allegations rely on a shopworn “caricature” of DeLay as an ethics violator.

[…]

Norman Ornstein, a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said Bell’s filing against DeLay will be a test of the House ethics system.

“It’s not like the Republicans are suddenly going to say, `Oh, we have this bad guy in our midst,'” Ornstein said. “What it will do is provide yet another story about DeLay, and it puts him right back into the controversy that he has courted for so long.”

Under rules of the House committee, members have between five and 14 days to determine whether a complaint meets the committee standards. Members can ask for successive 45-day periods to consider the matter.

“The odds of the committee doing anything in the short-term are very slim,” Ornstein said. “What is also true is that the last thing House Republicans want to do is rush to judgment against Tom DeLay.”

Well, this will surely be worth keeping an eye on. Democrats have maintained this truce despite all kinds of Republican misbehavior lately, even coming under some criticism for it by good-government types. Will Bell get the tacit or not-so-tacit support of the leadership, or will he get pressure from his own team to back off? I hope The Stakeholder, which also noted this story, will have some insider scoop in the coming days.

Check out the comments in this Kos diary entry for some more background on the House Ethics Committee and the longstanding ceasefire that Bell has broken.

Kinky op-ed

Kinky Friedman makes another pitch for his gubernatorial candidacy on the Sunday Chron op-ed pages. I’m a bit reluctant to say this, but having followed the Kinkster’s as-yet-unofficial candidacy from the beginning, he’s either going to have to keep coming up with fresh material, or he’s going to have to start taking it seriously. I’m at the point where I can recite most of his standard campaign quips, and for a candidate whose raison d’etre is based on one-liners, the last thing he needs is to sound like an old rerun of himself.

I know, every politician that ever was has a stump speech, and anyone who follows that politician at all closely hears that same speech a jillion times. It’s just that most politicians can’t get the bulk of their stump speech quoted by reporters or printed on the Sunday op-ed pages, so it’s way more noticeable here. Kinky did have a little bit of policy in his piece – his “I’m not anti-death penalty, I’m anti-executing the wrong guy” bit is brilliant and something I’d like to hear a lot more of – and for that I’m grateful. But the bottom line for me is this: If Kinky Friedman is going to be on the ballot, I want him to either play to win, or simply serve as comic relief. I do not want him to be somewhere in the middle, serving as a place for anti-Rick Perry voters to let off steam while hurting the chances of a serious Democrat. I’m a big Kinky Friedman fan now, but I’ll be much less of one if he turns out to be our local copy of Ralph Nader in 2006.