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March 22nd, 2006:

Where the box turtles come from

When I read that the Washington Post’s new Republican activist blogger was once a speechwriter for Sen. John Cornyn, I wondered if he had a hand in some of the more, er, colorful things that our junior senator has said lately. Via Atrios, it turns out that young Ben was, at least indirectly, responsible for the infamous box turtle statement that was in a prepared speech Cornyn gave to the Heritage Foundation. (Cornyn, in a rare moment of restraint, skipped that remark when actually delivering the speech. But someone wrote it for him, and it would seem that someone was Ben Domenech. I’m sure his new colleagues at the Post are so proud.)

Next question: Did Domenech have a hand in this embarrassing chapter of Cornyn’s career?

Perry speaks about TTRC

And believe it or not, he’s saying the right things, at least for now.

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday solicited business support for an overhaul of state taxes and said it would be a mistake for legislators to simply use a $4.3 billion surplus to provide limited cuts in school taxes when they convene April 17.

“I say let’s not substitute speed for substance,” Perry told the Texas Association of Manufacturers, a new business group that offered support for the concept of a broad-based business tax that the governor is expected to offer to lawmakers.


Perry noted that a number of legislators would rather use a $4.3 billion surplus, forecast by Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, as a “ticket on a fast train” out of town.

But, he said, that approach would provide for a lower, one-time-only cut in school taxes that could soon disappear.

“It may be more of a challenge to reach an agreement on comprehensive tax changes, but it is a challenge we should take head-on because it is the right thing to do,” Perry said.

I’ve expressed plenty of skepticism about Rick Perry’s willingness to actually push the concept of a broad-based business tax in the past, so I’ll give credit where it’s due. This is what he needs to be saying going into the special session. Good on him for that.

It’s just a start, of course. There will be plenty more pressure from the “don’t tax me, I’m special!” forces, and it remains to be seen how Perry reacts to that. There are still forces that favor shifting more of the burden to sales taxes, despite the utter inequity of such a shift and its abject (and well deserved) failure last time around. And just because Perry may have finally gotten religion on the need for a saner tax system doesn’t mean he’s serious about properly funding schools. His fixation despite all reason on the idiotic 65% rule, plus other ideological agenda items like vouchers, leave him plenty of room to continue being the bad guy that we’ve known since 2001. This may be a good start, but there’s a long way to go.

UPDATE: In the Pink adds just the right touch to the discussion.

UPDATE: A twofer from Eye on Williamson.

Radnofsky headquarters opening Friday

Barbara Radnofsky will hold an event at her new campaign headquarters on Friday, at which several candidates and officeholders, including gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell, will formally endorse her for the runoff. I got a robocall from the Radnofsky campaign last night, and I understand there are three statewide mailers in the works, so they’re clearly focused on winning that race. That’s good to see.

Anyway, the details of the event Friday:

Place: Radnofsky U.S. Senate Campaign Headquarters
Address: 1770 St. James Place, Suite 660A, Houston
Date: Friday, March 24
Time: 1:30 p.m.

Full press release beneath the fold.


Richie responds

Boyd Richie has now responded to South Texas Chisme’s questionnaire, meaning that all three announced candidates for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party have given answers – you can see Glen Maxey’s here and Charlie Urbina-Jones’ here. Kudos to the candidates for their responsiveness, and to STxC for taking the initiative to ask the questions.

Meanwhile, Richie picked up some nice endorsements, and Maxey continued his online campaign for support. I’m going to need to read all these answers again and see if I have a strong preference. Right now, I can’t say I’d be unhappy with any of these gentlemen, and that’s a very good thing.

Texas Criminal Justice Coalition to Testify Before House Committee

I got the same email as Matt, but he posted first so I’ll quote him:

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition today announced it would testify on Wednesday, March 22, before the House Corrections Committee in the Texas Capitol. The Coalition is expected to tell committee members that the current prison overcrowding problem cannot be sustained and that practical, cost-effective, and pro-family solutions to Texas’ probation system should be pursued.

Coalition Executive Director Ana Yanez-Correa and Ann del Llano, also of the Coalition, will address the cost of Texas’ probation system and offer recommendations to reduce revocations and recidivism. Coalition representatives Molly Totman and Dominic Gonzales will also testify and make recommendations related to the Governor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council’s recent report. Coalition partners are also expected to testify on other aspects of the committee’s interim work.

For more information on the Coalition’s work, click on

What: Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Testimony, House Corrections Committee
When: Hearing Begins 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 22
Where: E2.016, Capitol Extension, Texas State Capitol, Austin, Texas

Scott, of course, has way more on this. Be sure also to read Aaron Pena’s piece on abuses in the juvenile justice system.

UPDATE: Notes from the morning’s testimony from Scott here and here.

Luke Skywalker: The early years

You’ve seen the movies. Now, ready or not, here comes Star Wars – the TV show.

The series will be set between episodes three and four of the film saga.

It would cover the 20 years in the life of Luke Skywalker growing up that remains a mystery to most film-goers.

[Producer Rick] McCallum said there would be “a whole bunch of new characters” and the series would be “much more dramatic and darker”.

So, basically, we’re talking Smallville set on Tatooine, except that Clark Kent doesn’t know that he’s anything special yet. Sounds like a ratings bonanza to me!

Link via Atrios, who notes that Luke didn’t exactly lead an exciting life on the home planet. Ah, but what’s a little continuity among fanboys?

Fundraiser for Shane Sklar in Houston

If you live in the Houston area and have not had the opportunity to meet Shane Sklar yet, there’s going to be a fundraiser for him next week. Here are the details:

You Are Cordially Invited To A Fundraiser For Shane Sklar

Democrat for U.S. Congress, 14th District of Texas

Thursday, March 30

4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Texas Mediation and Arbitration Center Courtroom
One Riverway, 11th Floor
777 South Post Oak Lane
Houston, Texas

Hosted by

The attorneys of Kacal, Adams and Law P.C.

Endorsed By

National Education Association
Texas State Teachers Association
Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND

For More Information, Call 361-575-2006

If money is what it takes to put a Congressional race on the media radar, then I think this one may make it. I could see Sklar raising a half million dollars or so and forcing Ron Paul to start hitting up his national network for support. If you want to help make that happen and meet a dynamic young candidate in the process, give a call and make plans to be there next Thursday.