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December 27th, 2009:

Weekend link dump for December 27

Merry day after Boxing Day!

Who owns the interview? Both of you, I guess.

You may now call him Sir Patrick.

The best and worst Christmas specials of all time.

Phone hacking.

The least essential albums of 2009. For once, I’m glad I don’t have anything on one of these lists.

Yet another reason to root against the Sooners: They’re a bunch of wimps.

I remember a hymn we sang in church when I was a kid. The refrain went “And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love”. I can only presume this guy never learned that particular song. Unless it was all a hoax, of course.

The most and least valuable Democrats.

The ethics of Santa Claus.

Hooray for The Yule Log!

Some people never get tired about discussing the politics of Star Trek. Me, I just enjoyed the shows.

Time for the airing of the (sports) grievances.

What public service is all about.

Our Sarah Palin problem.

It’s always reassuring to know that you can count on David Broder to be a babbling, clueless fool.

Colbert speaks.

Some silly Christmas jokes.

Ninety years ago this week, the course of baseball history was changed.

State to audit food stamp delivery process

Better late than never.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs has asked [state auditor John] Keel to audit the food stamp program to improve accuracy and efficiency.

“We must fix our system so that it works for everyone. I’m asking the state auditor to help us identify both immediate and long-term solutions to make sure all Texans are able to get their cases processed on time,” Suehs said.

Keel assigned a team to start the review as soon as he got Suehs’ letter on Tuesday.

“It’s an audit that needs to be initiated immediately,” Keel said Wednesday. “We’re going to study the process and look for efficiencies. We do want to look at other states.”

Employee recommendations also will be considered, said Keel, who would not speculate on how long the audit would take.

I’m sure it will take months, because there’s got to be a ton to find that needs fixing. I feel certain that there’s only so much that can be improved without legislative action, perhaps spurred by a lawsuit verdict, an infusion of money, or a trip through the time machine to prevent the disastrous privatization scheme that has decimated HHSC from ever occurring, but this is not a stone that should be left unturned, so kudos to Suehs for taking the step.

You have a funny definition of “fiscal conservative”, Senator

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Our junior Senator calls himself something that doesn’t describe him accurately at all.

“I am a fiscal conservative, so I approach all of this from that perspective,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle in an interview. “Obviously at the same time where it’s appropriate to help entities like NASA in the state of Texas, I’m going to try to make sure that they are fairly and adequately funded.”

Cornyn, who has helped orchestrate Republicans’ anti-spending chorus as chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, says he’s merely echoing “the anger and aversion that most of my constituents have about out-of-control spending up here” in Washington.

This is the same John Cornyn who happily voted for the Iraq war, all of President Bush’s tax cuts, and Medicare Part D, which was called by the head of the GAO “probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s… because we promise way more than we can afford to keep”. This John Cornyn, who by his voting record bears responsibility for trillions of dollars of national debt, has the nerve to call himself a “fiscal conservative”. And thanks to newspaper headlines that talk about his “fight” to “cut debt”, something he never cared about while a Republican was in the White House, he gets away with it. Pretty nice racket he’s got going for himself, that’s all I can say.

The debate over Burka

I generally find debates between candidates who are already well known to be tedious, often mechanical affairs. So I’m glad for an event that provides a little interest outside of the usual aspects, which is apparently the case for an upcoming Perry versus Hutchison debate.

Paul Burka, the dean of Texas political writers, won’t be asking questions when the Republican gubernatorial candidates debate next month. He’s been banned.

“I didn’t like the idea of it,” says Terry Sullivan, campaign manager for candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison. “He’s got his mind made up on the race.”

Texas Monthly, where Burka works as executive editor, writer, and a popular blogger, was a sponsor of the debate. When the chief sponsor — KERA-TV in Dallas — told the magazine they were welcome to send any panelist except for Burka, the magazine not only declined to substitute someone but also pulled its name off the January 14 event. Other sponsors — KERA, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, KTVT-TV in Dallas, Univision, and the Texas Association of Broadcasters — remain.

“We were dismayed at what they decided to do, and surprised, given Paul Burka’s involvement in past debates,” says Jake Silverstein, the magazine’s editor. “We stand behind everything he does, and we consider his voice our voice on Texas politics.”

Silverstein tells his side of it here, while Burka himself weighs in here. I think KBH’s campaign overreacted and is being petulant. As commenter Stevie F said on Silverstein’s post, how could Burka write about this race and not say anything about what a hash KBH has made of it? This is bush league. Now I hope one of the moderators brings this up and asks KBH to counter Burka’s criticisms about her campaign. She’s made it an issue, let her defend it. Come and Take It has more.