Is this a secure line?

January 27, 2010

It’s been a few months since he showed up at an ACORN office posing as one half of a pimp-and-ho duo in search of managerial advice, but James O’Keefe is back and up to his old tricks (no pun intended). The 25-year old journalist was arrested Monday, along with three others, for allegedly tampering with the phone system at Senator Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office.

Bugging phones? This isn’t 1972 and you’re not at the Watergate. Does anyone even talk on the phone anymore? O’Keefe et al attempted to carry out their scheme in the middle of the day by showing up at Landrieu’s office pretending to be phone repairmen (extra points if they wore fake mustaches and spoke with accents), and were taken into custody later in the day.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis could barely resist gloating about O’Keefe’s arrest (so barely, in fact, that she didn’t resist at all). “Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving soul,” said ACORN’s Twitter feed (they’re just bitter that Landrieu’s staff was able to avoid ending up on YouTube looking ridiculous).

Leaving jail on Tuesday, O’Keefe had only one word to say: Veritas (“truth” in Latin). That doesn’t sit well with me: this is America and the day we stop speaking English upon getting released from jail after being arrested for possible political espionage is the day the terrorists have won.

Strange bedfellows in Senate special election

September 14, 2009

Estimates that  a special election to fill the seat of soon-to-be-outgoing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison could cost as much as $30 million have fiscal watchdog group Texans for Fiscal Responsibility calling for Hutchison to resign as soon as possible, arguing that holding the special election to replace her in November in conjunction with city elections taking place in Houston and statewide referenda on constitutional amendments would mean big savings for taxpayers.

The irony is that if KBH heeds the nonpartisan conservative group’s call to leave office in time for a November election (September 28 would be the latest she could do so), she would be making another group of people very happy: Democrats supporting Bill White’s Senate campaign.

Turnout for special elections is even more tepid than that of regular elections, and conventional wisdom is that Republicans tend to have an edge in these races because their constituents (particularly the elderly) are more likely to vote in general. But holding the special election alongside Houston’s races would be a major boon for the Democrats. It’s the largest city in Texas, and if you include the metro area outside of the city proper (whose residents cannot vote in the mayoral race but will be aware enough of it to turn out for the constitutional amendments and the Senate race), the result is more than 4 million people of voting age. White would win hands down in the City of Houston, his deep-blue home turf, but he would also do well in the suburbs, where independents and moderate Republicans like him.

While constitutional amendments can often help the GOP by inciting conservative activists to come out of the woodwork, this year’s ballot is relatively dry, mostly dealing with eminent domain and other land use issues. There is no hot-button God-guns-and-gays issue to get people worked up (unless term limits for EMS district board members really gets your blood flowing). So if few people outside the Houston area show up for a November special election, the end result could be Senator Bill White (D-TX). And White would have, at least in part, a conservative group that probably doesn’t like him very much to thank for it.

TFR has always offered a sense of fiscal conscience to Texas legislators, and now I have to applaud them for sticking by their principles in calling to save taxpayers money even when it conflicts with their own political goals.

Joe Wilson: In retrospect, that was a poor choice

September 10, 2009

Dennis Thatcher, husband of Margaret, often said of life in politics, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.” Unfortunately, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) didn’t get that memo last night during Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress regarding his healthcare plan.

Obama’s speech was well-delivered but vague, and his remark that “there remain some significant details to be ironed out” might have sufficed in lieu of much of what he said. He threw bones to his party, but also to the Republicans, giving a nod to malpractice reform and cautioning against “government bureaucrats.”

This wouldn’t have been a game changer. It wouldn’t have been an especially memorable speech had Joe Wilson not failed to know when to keep his mouth shut. Wilson felt compelled to respond to Obama’s assurances that illegal immigrants would not be covered under his health plan by shouting, “YOU LIE!” and prompting boos and jeers that temporarily turned the United States Congress into the British House of Commons.

It was these two words that tilted the sympathy of Congress, the media and the public towards Obama. Congressmen getting shouted at by foaming-at-the-mouth constituents get little sympathy. But what Joe Wilson and those who condone his boorishness don’t seem to get is that even as Americans continue to oppose the status quo in the Democrats’ healthcare plans, even as many are growing impatient with stimulus packages that have not yielded much bang for their buck, the fact is that the American people like Barack Obama, not necessarily as a policy maker but as a public figure, and they expect a certain level of decorum and respect at formal events such as joint session addresses. Barack Obama is America’s Head of State; he, and anyone who has or will hold that office deserves to be treated with a certain level of respect.

Joe Wilson’s behavior was akin to that of a hyperactive nine-year-old whose family cannot afford his ADHD medication. And like a child having a tantrum, Wilson has not gotten anything from his misbehavior. Instead, he has allowed the Democrat planning to run against him in 2010 to raise more than $500,000 in donations. He has made his party look ridiculous. And he has made himself look ridiculous, spawning the website JoeWilsonIsYourPreExistingCondition.com, which turns the tables and lobs accusatory statements at the Congressman including…

  • Joe Wilson canceled Arrested Development.
  • Joe Wilson hates America.
  • Joe Wilson peed in your soup.

The second is particularly ironic, given Wilson himself accused a fellow Representative of hating America when he pointed out, during a 2002 discussion about WMDs in Iraq, that the United States had provided weapons to the Hussein regime during the Iran-Iraq War.

The Republican Party needs to engage Barack Obama on healthcare. They need to negotiate with the White House and the Democrats to avoid the “public option” proposal and some of the other overarching elements of healthcare reform. But there is an appropriate time and an appropriate manner in which to do that. And heckling the President when he gives an address to Congress on live national television is poor timing and poor judgment. Wilson did the right thing by apologizing in a timely manner (after urging from John McCain and others), but the damage is done.

Joe Wilson has done nothing but hurt his own party and efforts to pursue healthcare solutions that are better than the ones the Obama Administration has offered. Maybe next time the President gives a major speech, Mr. Wilson should do what many schoolchildren in his district did earlier this week – just stay home.

Washington Kay, Austin Kay, now East Texas Kay?

September 9, 2009

On an otherwise uneventful campaign stop in Longview last week, KBH decided to turn herself into a native son (daughter?) of the Piney Woods.

Gubernatorial candidate U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, stopped in Longview to gather support from local business and civic leaders during her second East Texas tour within a month.

The self-proclaimed “East Texas girl,” who stopped in Tyler and other regional towns in mid-August, continued her campaign to dethrone the longest-serving governor in Texas history, Rick Perry. Sen. Hutchison said, “we are treading water better than any state that is moving ahead, but that is not good enough.”

The senator assured attendees that she is no stranger to the region and its needs.

“I have been here many times, and I know the issues of East Texas and will certainly be a representative of this area because I know it so well,” Mrs. Hutchison said.

Not to nitpick here, but Kay grew up in La Marque. And like any good Houstonian, I know that anything south of I-10 and/or west of the Gulf Freeway is most certainly not East Texas. Our state’s tourism website concurs.

Granted politicians always try to find the six degrees of separation between themselves and the locales they visit and have nothing to do with. But I would certainly hope Kay has “been [there] many times” in the sixteen years she’s been in the Senate.

The full article is here, courtesy of the East Texas Girl herself.

Tom DeLay getting his 15 minutes of fame

August 17, 2009

tom_delay_mugshot

The disgraced former House Majority Leader will be joining other has-beens including Melissa Joan Hart, Aaron Carter and Donny Osmond on Dancing With The Stars. Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?

Rick Perry is back from Israel, having been named this year’s Defender of Jerusalem.

KBH kicked off her gubernatorial campaign this morning in La Marque.

Sharon Keller has her first day in court.

Which one has better hair?

July 31, 2009

 

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Note the hairdryer poster in the background.

Is she or isn’t she?

July 29, 2009

It appears I spoke too soon when I said this morning that Kay Bailey Hutchison would be resigning from her Senate seat in the fall. Now, KBH says she’s not going anywhere unless Governor GoodHair drops out of stays in the race. (which is Capitol-speak for “I will resign when Hell freezes over.”) This can get confusing (like most of KBH’s behavior lately) so here’s a better way to explain it:

If Perry drops out of the race, Hutchison will remain in the Senate (and ostensibly campaign at the same time).

If Perry does not drop out of the race (and why would a man who’s well ahead of an opponent increasingly prone to bizarre behavior do such a thing?), Hutchison will commence her “leaving of the Senate,” as she put it.

Perry may be able to call Hutchison a liar, but he won’t be able to call her a quitter.

The march of the birthers

July 29, 2009

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) has jumped on the birther bandwagon.

The bill in question, HR 1503, would require presidential candidates to produce a valid birth certificate in order to file as official candidates. That we have gone 233 years without this measure in place and have had no royalists or crypto-Nazis make their way into the White House is apparently irrelevant. So is the fact that Barack Obama has already released his birth certificate for all the world to see, and state officials in his home state of Hawaii have confirmed for the umpteenth time that it’s legit.

At this point, I don’t think the birthers will be willing to remove their tin foil hats unless Obama can produce a home video of himself emerging from his mother’s uterus, and a lei-wearing doctor cutting the umbilical cord while hula dancers sway in the background and Diamondhead erupts outside, maybe with one of those giant wooden tiki heads in the corner for extra effect.

Gohmert joins fellow Texans John Culberson (R-Houston), Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), John Carter (R-Round Rock), Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton) and Ted Poe (R-Humble). Should we be concerned that 6 of the 10 co-sponsors of this thing are from Texas?

KBH resigning from the Senate

July 29, 2009

Kay Bailey Hutchison has officially reached a point of no return in her bid to become the next Governor of Texas. This morning, she announced she will be resigning from the Senate in “October or November.”

Hutchison to Sotomayor: Nay

July 29, 2009

Kay Bailey Hutchison will be joining John Cornyn in voting against Sonia Sotomayor’s SCOTUS confirmation.


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