Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Thursday, September 30, 2004


A wonderful parody of T. S. Eliot, called "The War Song of G. Dubya Bushrock", starting:
LET us vote then, you and I,
When the evening news is spreading lies
to the patients etherised upon a fable....

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Long-time local Democratic activist Tom Blackwell emailed me this copy of an endorsement of a local Democratic candidate, Diana Lackey, against a Republican incumbent. This is utterly astounding, because it comes from the only major daily "newspaper" we have, which Jean refers to as the "Dallas Morning Nothing". Usually, to preserve their fatuous claim of being an independent voice, they endorse one or two Democrats each year, almost invariably incumbents who have absolutely no chance of losing. That way they get to call them up and say their endorsement helped. This endorsement means that the incumbent Tax Assessor must be really, really bad -- unless he just personally irked some member of the Belo family which owns that rag.

Only the passage of federal civil rights laws which are actually enforced (sometimes) has made that paper change from its long history of supporting segregation and racism (feel free to look it up in the old copies at the library). They still remain a willfully reactionary shill for the local wealthy establishment, unrelenting in their distaste in practice for personal freedom, civil liberties, social progress, separation of church and state, political dissent against Republican Presidents, and peaceful resolution of any conflicts. The few good reporters who have worked there hardly make even a scratch on the stone wall of their editorial troglodytes.

I refuse to register with such a scummy company even to read their editorials on line, so I'm taking Tom's word for this. Here's the copy he sent me. [And you know the usual routine: "This contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law."]
Dallas Morning News Editorial - September 29, 2004
Tax Assessor-Collector:
Lackey can give office boost it needs

In Texas, county tax assessors perform many functions, including collecting fees from vending machine operators, issuing auto license tags and registering cars and boats. But the heart of the job is collecting taxes owed by property owners to the county and to other local jurisdictions that contract with the county to collect their taxes.

In the last year for which statistics are available, the Dallas County tax office, headed by 15-year GOP incumbent David Childs, collected 95.8 percent of the taxes owed the county. That sounds good, but it puts Dallas County fourth among Texas' five major urban counties. (Only Harris County was less effective.)

One year might be a fluke, but for the past 10 years Dallas County's collection rate has consistently lagged those of Tarrant, Travis and Bexar counties. If Mr. Childs' office had been as effective as the other three, averaged, Dallas County's coffers would have been fatter by $43 million over that period.

When we asked Mr. Childs about the other counties' superior performance, he said he was unaware of it. Democrat Diana Lackey indicated on her online questionnaire that she understands the usefulness of such comparisons. That's one reason we recommend her for tax assessor-collector.

The 51-year-old challenger, who has a bachelor's of science in accounting from San Diego State University, comes with an impressive resume and glowing recommendations from her former employers in California's Santa Clara and San Diego counties. Between them, she worked in those counties' tax offices for 24 years, working her way up from a trainee in San Diego to the No. 2 person in the Santa Clara office. (Santa Clara, site of San Jose, is California's fourth-most-populous county.) During her six-year tenure there, the county's collection rate jumped substantially over previous years'.

Mr. Childs, who is 50, taught high school history and worked in the Dallas County clerk's office before winning the assessor's post. He subsequently earned a doctorate in administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. He also holds a bachelor's degree in education from Louisiana State University and a master's in history from the University of New Orleans.

It may be time for a change in Dallas County. This sentiment was affirmed when we discovered that Mr. Childs has not filed a statement of his personal financial holdings with the county clerk's office as required by law. He left the multipage form blank, saying in a cover memo that anyone wanting information about his holdings could make inquiries of his bank and his accountant. He told us he intends to file the document with the county clerk but, because of short staffing in his office and his busy schedule, did not do so by the deadline as required by law.

That's not good enough.

Fortunately, voters have an excellent alternative. We feel confident that Ms. Lackey can take the tax office to the next level. The presidential election may get most of the attention, but Americans will have a full ballot on Nov. 2.

Early voting begins on Oct. 18 and ends on Oct. 29.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

This week's Texas Tuesdays looks again at Democratic Congressman Martin Frost's hot race here in Dallas against the Repugnant Pete Sessions. It has lots of astonishing stuff about that fool's record. Read it HERE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

For the past month, Kathryn Harrington has stared down the possibility of a criminal trial, a $10,000 fine and the stigma of being deemed a security risk at Tampa International Airport. The reason? She had a bookmark with her as she passed through airport security screening. ... She'd carried the $9.99 bookmark on several flights since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, even through Tampa International Airport, but screeners had never noticed it. ... Harrington was questioned about the bookmark, then handcuffed and driven to an airport police holding cell. "I pretty much cried throughout the whole thing," said Harrington, a Sunday school teacher with a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Read it HERE. (Thanks to Life or Something Like It.) "First they came for the almanacs...."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


This week TEXAS TUESDAYS covers two Democratic candidates. Morris Meyer is running against Republican Joe Barton, who certainly acts as though he never met a smokestack he doesn't like. Even more fun to read about, though in a hopelessly uphill filed write-in campaign, is UT Austin math prof Lorenzo Sadun. His opponent in a new Perrymandered district is Republican Michael McCaul, whose father-in-law is Lowry Mays, CEO Clear Channel Communications, whose PAC and top execs have given over $30,000 to his campaign. No doubt you remember them stirring up "patriotic" hatred against anyone questioning Gulf Preemption II. McCaul will beat the write-in effort, barring the old cliche of a dead woman or a live boy (though one Republican incumbent in another state got burned on that one earlier this year), but he needs to be opposed to keep our consciences clear. Who wants to have to say someday "When they came for the Dixie Chicks, I did nothing...." Go read about both campaigns at THE USUAL PLACE.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


If you are among the lucky who survive, remember this and tell young children about it, when you sit around the campfires at night. This comes via The Blue Bus, by way of The American Street. It is a frightening account of how our protectors have deserted us, by the always interesting and humane Bill Moyers. Go read the whole thing HERE:
This "zeal for secrecy" I am talking about — and I have barely touched the surface — adds up to a victory for the terrorists. When they plunged those hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon three years ago this morning, they were out to hijack our Gross National Psychology. If they could fill our psyche with fear — as if the imagination of each one of us were Afghanistan and they were the Taliban — they could deprive us of the trust and confidence required for a free society to work. They could prevent us from ever again believing in a safe, decent or just world and from working to bring it about. By pillaging and plundering our peace of mind they could panic us into abandoning those unique freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of the press — that constitute the ability of democracy to self-correct and turn the ship of state before it hits the iceberg.

I thought of this last week during the Republican National Convention here in New York — thought of the terrorists as enablers of democracy's self-immolation. My office is on the west side of Manhattan, two blocks from Madison Square Garden. From where I sit I could see snipers on the roof. Helicopters overhead. Barricades at every street corner. Lines of police stretching down the avenues. Unmarked vans. Flatbed trucks. Looking out his own window, the writer Nick Turse saw what I saw and more. Special Forces brandishing automatic rifles. Rolls of orange plastic netting. Dragnets. Pre-emptive arrests of peaceful protesters. Cages for detainees. And he caught sight of what he calls "the ultimate blending of corporatism and the police state — the Fuji blimp — now emblazoned with a second logo: NYPD." A spy-in-the sky, outfitted "with the latest in video-surveillance equipment, loaned free of charge to the police all week long."

Friday, September 17, 2004

We'll go walking out
While others shout of war's disaster.
Oh, we won't give in,
Let's go living in the past.
One of the replies when I sent my posting of "How To Beat Bush (Again)" to my local email list was this note:
I'm glad you sent this e-mail and wish that we could get it out to Kerry's team that's making decisions. I, too, have been saying this months, but I fear that many of our fellow Dems and Kerry's team are just too focused on the past. We must have a positive message and one of hope...the future is what matters. Why can't we Dems get focused in that direction? Your thoughts?
The reason for the obsession with the political crimes and alleged lies of former years was well expressed by a writer whose 107th birthday is next Saturday. One of William Faulkner's characters said in Requiem for a Nun:
"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
This is true to many active Democrats, and one can harly blame them. Even a puppy which loves you may turn and bite you if you accidentally step on its tail. The pain blocks the brain from thinking of anything else. There's been a lot of pain willfully imposed by this misadministration, beginning with stealing the 2000 election. Turning the attack of 9-11 into the U.S. Reichstag Fire, using it to demonize any disagreement and rachet down a society ruled by paranoia, has been much like stepping on that puppy's tail. There is a righteous outcry demanding punishment of this spreading evil and its perpetrators.

Faulkner said another thing which applies very well to today, in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech in 1950:
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up?
That the current fright being manipulated by the politicians is of being blown up by religious fanatics instead of atheistic communists is only an irrelevant surface detail. The power grab works the same way. To move on to a better world, we have to steel ourselves to ignore the pain and be positive. No one has appointed us the avenging angel whose task it is to punish evil on earth. Can we, as a party and a nation, rise to the strength needed to overcome the only thing FDR said we have to fear? Faulkner finally thought so, and I agree:
I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Over at Opinions You Should Have is a news story which might become all too real, with unaudited on-line voting:
Missouri officials deny that spam or other email voting improprieties played any part in Missouri's election of Viagra and Cialis as President and Vice President in yesterday's national election.
Someone has posted at DailyKOS this report on "Bush's imaginary conversations":
But there I was, last week, hanging out with ol' George. And so I said to him, "well, how are you going to get our soldiers out of Iraq? And he said, with that frat-boy smirk of his, 'that's easy -- in body bags and wheelchairs.'" We cracked a few jokes about OB-GYN practicing their "love" on their patients, when I suddenly turned serious again....
I explained Monday why I thought the issue of old Vietnam records was irrelevant, but that was before I read the erudite Professor Michael Bérubé's careful dissection of the whole thing at "Conference report":
Moreover (and this should be dispositive), during the period 1967-71, Kerry routinely and repeatedly forged his own signature on letters, contracts, and checks....
My own recent trouble with Blogspot was noted by Omnium, which has had similar difficulties:
I don't know if maybe it's because the archives run to almost 700 posts, but making changes to and even accessing this blog has become an enormous problem this summer. The glitches in the new Blogger program introduced last spring, far from being worked out over the last few months, have steadily gotten worse -- more annoying, harder to deal with, more persistent, more often.
My own archives had over 900 posts. I don't know if that was part of this. Omnium is frustrated enough to consider giving up blogging. I hope not, because that site, previously unknown to me, has lots of good stuff, like this discovery of a 2500-year old quote from Thucydides, which seems to apply to America today:
"What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one's unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man. ... Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. ... Society was divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Updating Gilbert's "Major General" lyrics to apply to Bush, Steve Bates gives us "I am the Very Model".

Barefoot And Naked gives us a story whose headline doesn't exaggerate very much at "Cheney Predicts More Hurricanes if Polls Stay Close".
This week Texas Tuesday looks again at on Richard Morrison, who is challenging the worst member of the Texas delegation in Congress, Tom DeLay. Read about him at the usual place.

Monday, September 13, 2004


This weekend someone recited for me the arguments he uses against right-wingers who claim the memo proving Bush ducked military duty is a forgery. All he said was true.

None of it mattered.

Ask yourself this. If Bush had volunteered for combat, lost three limbs and one eye saving the lives of his fellow soldiers, and won the Congressional Medal of Honor, but still had the same views and the same record as President -- would that change your mind, and make you vote for Bush instead of Kerry? If Kerry had really ducked the Vietnam War, hiding in Sweden under a phony name, but had the same views and the same record as Senator -- would that change your mind?

No? Try reversing the situations and ask determined Bush backers if that would change their minds and make them vote for Kerry. That wouldn't matter to them either.

Everyone who cares most about 30-year old military records has already made up their minds. As long as we waste time arguing about the long dead past, we are not doing anything to convert the microscopic numbers of voters who haven't decided yet. That's just the sort of spinning our wheels that Karl Rove wants to see. A principle we Parliamentarians learned long ago is "If you get them arguing about the wrong question, then you don't have to worry about their answer."

Not even the more recent past matters. Forget "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Everyone deciding on that basis has already done so.

The question both of those remaining undecided voters out there want answered is "With which President will I be better off four years from now?" Talk to them about the FUTURE. Tell them who'll do more to reduce the deficit, support the starving schools, cut the high price of prescription drugs, or encourage more jobs here instead of India.

The Republicans can't win a contest about something positive. That's why they campaign by trashing their opponent, scaring the public, and stirring up hatred. If we fight on their own swampy ground, we will LOSE -- because they are frankly better at slime than we are.

To win, we have to choose our own battlefield. We can triumph if we offer those undecided voters something they want and need, but can't get elsewhere. Don't be distracted arguing about which person was bad long ago, or who's lying about what. Just tell them we can make a better world for them and their children and grandchildren, it they'll just vote for HOPE.

--Bill Howell, former Dallas County Democratic Party Chair

Sunday, September 12, 2004

DUBYA'S SCAM, By Bill Howell:
[You can find the original lyrics to Dylan's Maggie's Farm HERE.]

I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scam again.
No, I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scam again.
I queue for unemployment,
In a line out in the rain,
With nothing for enjoyment
But the other fellow's pain.
My job? It left on the outsourcing train.
I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scam again.

I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scold again.
No, I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scold again.
He carts away our coffers
In a Halliburton truck,
And when he faces scoffers
All he ever says is @#$%.
His pillages would comprise a lengthy chain.
I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scold again.

I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's screw again.
No, I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's screw again.
He curtains off a statue,
Jails dying folk for drugs,
To cover coming at you
With hard drive grabbing thugs,
While he chooses not to risk a trip by plane.
I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's screw again.

I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scheme again.
No, I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scheme again.
His bro drops you from vote lists
If your skin might be black.
They fear that you might be pissed
When they take your rights back.
His judges throw your chads all down the drain.
I ain't gonna vote for Dubya's scheme again.
I have gone through weeks of frustration with Blogger, which first would not let me log in at all, then would not republish new items, or access any of the archived ones. After three emails seeking help, I've finally got it working again only by changing to a new template. I'm sure I'll be tweaking this one in days to come. About the only good thing about the change is that now it has Blogger's version of Comments enabled. We'll see how that works out.

I have already restored all my blogroll links on the sidebar. All those old archives are gone from Blogger now, which is why they show nothing between May 12, 2003 (when this blog started) and September 07, 2004. I have the old entries saved (even the wrong ones, like predicting that Kerry was going to lose the Democratic nomination -- oops), and will be putting them up in weeks to come on my old original site at Geocities, for the unlikely person who cares. Manually recovering them, I was pleased how good a few of the entries were, so I may put some individual links to those "greatest hits".

This blogging thing is dangerously addictive, I conclude from the frustration I felt when I wanted to rant about something and had no place to do it. I don't think the absence of my tiny voice would make any difference to the upcoming election or the world at large, but it does give me a place to rage against the snuffing of Liberty's torch, and to note darts of humor being thrown at the self-important would-be bosses of us all. Glad to be back on line.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004