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November 15th, 2009:

Weekend link dump for November 15

Maybe “citizen journalism” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

I expect to be a Title IX dad, too. Probably starting next year.

Sometimes it’s okay for art to not be able to imitate life.

Bar brawls and beauty queens: Two things that don’t go together.

Want Windows 7 but don’t want to pay full price? Here’s how to do it.

Facebook: Friend or foe for home sellers?

The GOP’s problems with women.

No, seriously, I don’t need to know anything more about Carrie Prejean.

Free WiFi at a bunch of airports this Christmas season, thanks to Google. Almost, but not quite, makes me wish we were traveling this year.

Failure does not breed success. Yeah, I can’t believe it either.

Is this the end of the line for the Zagat guide?

2012: It’s not the end of the world.

My very best wishes to Kareem Abdul Jabbar as he battles leukemia.

The Palin fantasy.

You don’t like the term “teabaggers”, you probably shouldn’t have adopted the tea bag as your symbol. I’m just saying. Oh, and when teabaggers litigate.

Up with Chuck!

It’s time to reclaim the cupcake.

sigh Goodbye, “Dollhouse”.

What is it that bipartisanship is another word for again? Maybe there’s a better descriptor now.

Why, Google, why?

When great minds think alike. It’s pretty scary, actually.

A Lou Dobbs timeline.

The long term effects of day care.

I was gonna TiVo the “Prisoner” remake, but now I’m not so sure. Still, even a lame explanation of What It Was All About is better than what I’ve got now.

If we’re gonna do “Security Theater”, we should do it right (via).

When even Third Way thinks you’ve bent over backwards too far…

The Chron on Hotze, Welch, and Locke

The Chron editorializes today about the forthcoming hatemongering in the city election to be aimed at Annise Parker, and Gene Locke’s tepid response to being its intended beneficiary. And they fall just short of getting it right.

We’ve been here before. In 1997 a small-minded ballot initiative would have ended the city’s affirmative action program that helped minority and women contractors. Mayor Bob Lanier went on the air in an ad that bluntly stated his opposition to a proposal that would “turn back the clock to the days when guys who look like me got all the city’s business.”

Lanier couldn’t have been more clear: Discrimination is just not right.

It was a powerful moment of leadership. The referendum went down to defeat, and news outlets around the country marveled that a “wealthy white developer” had taken the lead on affirmative action.

It’s time for another such moment of leadership.

Saturday afternoon, Gene Locke issued a statement rejecting “the style of campaigning that was the subject of an article in the Houston Chronicle.” He urged the people of Houston to choose a new mayor based on the issues and avoid being “swayed by divisive rhetoric.”

The rhetoric of people like Steven Hotze and Dave Welch carries a high cost. Their support should not be purchased at the price of bigotry.

Well, they do correctly note Locke’s courting of Steven Hotze. And they seem to be saying that he ought to be more like MayorBob and take a real stand on this rather than just put out a wimpy press release that never acknowledges his own role in this crapstorm. Just one more sentence, to call on Locke to specifically disavow Hotze and his ilk, that’s all I ask. Guess I need to wait for Rick Casey to write about it next week.

A poll from Locke

Via email from Bill King, who gave me permission to reprint it, comes word of a post-election poll done by Team Locke. I had it queued up for yesterday, but in light of yesterday’s news, I put it off for a day. Here’s the full email:

Gene Locke’s campaign has released the first poll taken since November 3. The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday nights (November 9 & 10) by Paul Maislin, who also polled for Lee Brown and Bill White. The poll showed Parker leading by a 43-39% with 18% undecided. The margin of error was 4%.

The poll shows that Parker and Locke are splitting Peter Brown votes fairly evenly with most white Democrats shifting to Parker and Brown’s African-American supporters moving to Locke. The undecided voters at this point are mostly suburban, white and Republican leaning. The suburban-white-Republican-leaning voters that have made up their minds about the race are breaking strongly in Locke’s favor by about a 70-30 margin. This group is primarily been responsible for Locke moving from 10% down in the election to within the margin of error of Parker.

The poll is modeled on a 170,000-voter turnout in the election. About 180,000 voters voted on November 3. Turnout normally falls in a run-off election, however in the 2001 mayoral election, when Lee Brown was challenged by Orlando Sanchez, the turnout actually increased from 280,000 to 310,000. UH political science professor and long-time Houston pollster, Dick Murray, thinks this could happen again this year. The general consensus is that a low turnout in this election helps Parker because of her relatively small, but very loyal base. Conversely, if turnout is higher, Locke will be the likely beneficiary because additional voters will more likely be African-Americans or Republic leaning voters.

Here in my mind are the critical factors to watch over the next four weeks:

1. African-American Turnout/Enthusiasm. Locke got just under 70% of the African-American vote with almost all the rest going to Brown. This poll indicates that Locke will virtually shut Parker out of the black vote. The question is how many African-Americans will vote. On November 3, probably only about 45,000 African-Americans voted. In the 2001 election, when Lee Brown was besieged by Orlando Sanchez, nearly 100,000 voted in the run-off. As a result Locke has huge up-side potential in the African-American vote.

2. The Suburban-White-Republican-Leaning Undecideds. The suburban-white-Republican-leaning voters do not have an ideal candidate in this race. The ones that decided quickly broke to Locke. One can speculate that these were likely social conservatives for which Parker’s lifestyle and liberal activism are automatic disqualifiers. The balance of these voters will be more likely motivated by policy specifics such as crime, immigration, city finances and traffic. How the candidates differentiate themselves on these issues will likely be the deciding factor. The debates could be very important in competing for these voters. Locke has some advantage in that a number of high profile Republicans such as Robert Eckels, Ned Holmes and Chase Untermeyer have already endorsed him. Parker has few offsetting Republican endorsements.

3. The Suburban-White-Republican-Leaning Turnout. The second question with respect to suburban-white-Republican-leaning voters is will they vote. Of course, historically this group turns out at very high rates. However, there is also the possibility that with two clearly identified Democrats in the race they may declare a pox on both their houses and stay home. Based on how this vote is breaking so far, a higher turnout will likely favor Locke.

4. Fundraising. It is likely that both campaigns will be reasonably well funded. Locke has enjoyed the support of most of Houston’s business establishment and Parker has the ability to raise national GLBT money. Parker’s first-place finish has also won her the support of some traditional City Hall vendors such as the engineers and contractors. Having a war chest will be critical. The race is likely to turn highly negative in the home stretch. Each side will need to have funds to respond to the negative ads you will undoubtedly be seeing soon.

I think the main take away from the poll is that this race is very much up for grabs. Parker has the inertia but Locke has the momentum. However, neither is an immoveable object or an irresistible force.

I had some analysis to go as well, but again the news from yesterday superseded that. So the question I have, in light of those events, is does this analysis change as a result of Locke’s courtship of Steven Hotze and the hatefest that is apparently queued up and ready to go? Or, was this the plan all along? I’ll leave that up to you.

Uncle Dan wins re-election

For some more pleasant election-related news, I’m happy to note that my uncle Dan Kuffner was re-elected to the Dutchess County (New York) Legislature.

In District 7, Legislator Dan Kuffner, D-Hyde Park, beat Republican Yancy McArthur.


On Nov. 3, Kuffner led by only 44 votes. After 118 paper ballots were counted Friday, Kuffner had 1,325 votes and McArthur had 1,283, a difference of 42 votes, according to unofficial results.

Kuffner, 62, said, “I got into this job because I enjoy service. I’m thrilled that the people are asking me to continue the job.”

He was elected in 2007 after a long career as an elementary school teacher; he had also been the president of the local teachers’ union. This was a bad year in Dutchess County for his fellow Democrats, as they went from a 13-12 majority to being down 18-6, plus an independent. But he won after a tough campaign. Congats again, Uncle Dan!

Easing eligibility requirements on food stamps

I suppose you could consider this to be a small benefit of the food stamps snafu.

Texas is easing a requirement that most families on food stamps must be interviewed every six months, a step that will relieve pressure on the system for determining who receives state aid, officials said Tuesday.

The story doesn’t go into any detail about what that “easing” of the requirement means. My guess is that it means the review of eligibility will be pushed back to a 12-month cycle instead of every six months for the recipients. I say this because we’ve done that before, also for the purpose of relieving a backlog. Makes you wonder why we didn’t just leave it at that, but that’s Texas for you. We do 12-month re-ups with CHIP, though it was a struggle to get there, but we don’t do it with Medicaid. I guess it’s not a sufficient crisis for that yet.