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June 29th, 2008:

The end of the quarter is upon us

Monday is the quarterly reporting deadline for campaign finances, and if you haven’t been buried under an avalanche of emails soliciting donations, you probably don’t follow politics that closely. If you are at all inclined to donate to a campaign, sometime before midnight tomorrow would be best. If you’ve got a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket and need someplace to send them, here are a few recommendations. This is nowhere close to a comprehensive list, just a couple of suggestions.

Rick NoriegaActBlue page. He’s approaching 10,000 online donors, and $900,000 raised via ActBlue, both mighty impressive numbers for a first-time statewide candidate in Texas. You can help move him past those milestones.

– Congressional candidates Michael Skelly (CD07), Larry Joe Doherty (CD10), or Eric Roberson (CD32).

– State Senate, a usually quiet arena for competitive campaigns, has a bounty this year with Wendy Davis in SD10, Joe Jaworski in SD11, and Rain Minns in SD16 (ActBlue page here). And that’s before we consider the possibility of the SD17 special election.

– There’s way too many good candidates to list in the State House. You can give to the TexBlog PAC (ActBlue page here) as a proxy, or browse ActBlue for a candidate near you, physically or issues-wise. If you believe in rewarding moxie, consider helping out the guy who’s running against Tom Craddick, Bill Dingus, whose brand new ActBlue page is here. I can’t say that’s on any list of truly competitive races, but you’ve got to admire the courage.

– And of course, your candidates for county offices, all of whom you can find here for Harris County.

Every little bit helps. Thanks very much.

Big Bad John

I’m really rather amazed at how long this has been in the news.

Is U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s Big Bad John campaign video a big black eye for him?

His staff says absolutely not, painting the attention-getting video as a “winner.” But Democrats are reacting with glee to the video, which includes Cornyn in a cowboy hat and fringed jacket, plus a rewrite of the song to include lines: “He rose to the top in just one term, kept Texas in power, made lesser states squirm. Big John. Big John. Big John. Yeah, Big Bad John.”

Rep. Rick Noriega, the Houston Democrat challenging Cornyn, posted his own version of the video on his campaign Web site as a fundraising tool.


Political scientists don’t think it’s a turning point.

“My guess is this is all going to turn out to be much ado about nothing,” said political scientist Bruce Buchanan of the University of Texas at Austin.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, said it’s likely “a blip” and thinks Cornyn is heavily favored to win but added, “I don’t think it was especially good for his reputation, either. … It will stay with him.”

While I agree that the original Cornyn video, as ridiculous as it is in a Dukakis-in-a-tank kind of way, is unlikely to sway many voters, it has had the effect of raising the profile of this race nationally, and I daresay has helped Noriega’s fundraising, which is a critical matter for him. The bad news about this being such a great year to run for office as a Democrat is that there’s a lot more competition for buzz and funding. On that score, given how widely these videos have been linked, often by bloggers who’d had no previous interest in the race, it’s definitely been a boon for Noriega.

Texas Republicans reacted with outrage after Matthew Miller of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee distributed a link to The Daily Show segment and said that Cornyn, in donning the fancy jacket, “appears to have raided the wardrobe closet for the Kilgore Rangerettes.”

State GOP spokesman Hans Klingler described the moves as “ethnic and racial assaults,” and Texas Republican Hispanic Association President Reggie Gonzalez called the remarks insensitive because, the party explained, Cornyn was wearing a “Tamaulipeca jacket … designed in the Hispanic tradition” at a Charro Days celebration in Brownsville.

Miller said he’d let The Daily Show defend its own humor and added, “No one is making fun of the clothes. They’re laughing at how silly Rhinestone Cowboy John Cornyn looks in them.”

(Stewart did question how Cornyn found the jacket in an adult size.)

Of Beckwith’s suggestion that those who don’t like the video are anti-Texan, Miller said, “I grew up in Amarillo and went to school in Austin. I don’t know a whole lot of Texans who would look at that … and think that it helps John Cornyn.”

I’ve no idea if the claim about a “Tamaulipeca jacket” is true or not. What I do know is that this is exactly the sort of imagery most of my high school classmates in New York City had in mind when they heard I was going to college in Texas. As a lifelong urbanite, as well as a naturalized Texan, the whole cowboy-mystique thing has never moved me. Texas is an increasingly urban state, populated more and more by people who weren’t born here or who were born to people who weren’t born here, so I have to think there’s a lot of folks here for whom the same is true. Maybe I’m wrong about that – Lord knows, the automotive industry still drowns us in rural/cowboy motifs as it tries to sell pickup trucks and Suburbans – but I’d bet this is more true now than ever before. All I know is that the “Big John” video strikes me as an anachronism, like it was made by people from one coast or the other based on their limited perception of the state of Texas and its people. Oh, and that the fringey attire looks silly and completely out of place on Cornyn, authentic or not.

Anyway, here are the videos, in case you haven’t seen them. Here’s the original:

And the Noriega response:

Rumor now has it that David Beckwith, the consultant who made the “Big John” video, has been fired by the campaign. That would not be the first time he’s gotten himself in trouble with Big John. Some people never learn, I guess. Anyway, seeing as how the quarterly reporting deadline for campaign fundraising is tomorrow, now would be a good time to contribute to Rick Noriega. There’s more than one way to measure the impact of a campaign event, after all.

Weekend link dump

Just some interesting links from other folks to check out…

Deadspin has a new executive editor. To no one’s surprise, it’s not a woman.

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell says that James Dobson does not speak for him.

The Top Ten Ways to get yourself discriminated against at the Department of Justice.

Will first-term City Council Member Jolanda Jones draw a serious challenger in 2009? Maybe, but you’d have to do a lot better than that to impress me.


It’s taken him a long time to work through the first of the “Left Behind” books, but Slacktivist’s take on them is still some of the best writing on the Internet.

If you insist on “teaching the controversy”, then by God, teach the controversy!

Hey, did you know that Norbizness was blogging again? Well, now you do.

No castration without representation!

East End rail opening ceremony

The East End (Harrisburg) rail line had its official kickoff on Thursday.

As streamers and fireworks shot into the sweltering air and opponents picketed outside, elected officials and East End community leaders today celebrated the impending start of construction of a light rail line in their historic neighborhood.

“It may have been said in the past, but it can’t be said now that the city of Houston is overlooking the East End,” Mayor Bill White said to applause from about 200 supporters.


State Sen. Mario Gallegos said his grandfather had ridden a trolley on Harrisburg and he looks forward to having rail there again.

Councilmen Adrian Garcia and James Rodriguez thanked Metro and fellow council members who grilled the agency about its plans before voting June 18 to allow it to build on city streets.

“Thanks for making sure we pay attention to detail,” Garcia said. “Let’s make sure we keep construction moving fast and effectively.”

You can insert your favorite cliche here about there still being a long way to go, but it’s still nice to acknowledge how far we’ve come. May we have many more reasons to celebrate soon.

It means “Suave and Debonair”

Michael brings me some good news.

[I]t was with great surprise and pleasure that I heard from [Tom Beard, lead singer for Houston’s strangest blues bar band, Feo Y Loco]. Feo is in the studio working on re-recording old classics and new songs. Politically Incorrect is on iTMS (and amusingly not marked Explicit Lyrics), it’s on CDbaby, and the web site makes current and impressive promises:

We are re-mastering the original Feo cassette album, released in 1992. Along with the original songs on the cassette will be 3 new “surprise” tunes Feoheads everywhere will enjoy. This will also be available as a CD on, or at gigs. This should happen in June, and probably sometime in July, this CD will be available for download on iTunes and the other music download services.

We will also be releasing a live CD, as well as at least 2 more CD’s of material never before recorded, before the end of 2008. There will also be videos available as well. And you thought Feo Y Loco was lazy! Shame on you. Check back often for updates.

I actually already own a digitized version of the original cassette, thanks to Michael and Ginger, but I’ll be downloading the new one, because whatever that new music is, I need to have it. I wasted many years of my life had a heck of a lot of fun attending Feo shows back in the day, and am pleased as punch to hear they’re still active, in some form. If you’ve never had the pleasure, check ’em out. It won’t be the same as one of their live shows, but they’re a hoot however you hear them.