October 26, 2004, 05:00 PM

Zero more days until the new site is launched.

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 25, 2004, 05:00 PM

One more day until the new site is launched.

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 24, 2004, 05:00 PM

Two more days until the new site is launched.

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 23, 2004, 05:00 PM

Three more days until the new site is launched.

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 22, 2004, 05:00 PM

Four more days until the new site is launched.

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 22, 2004, 06:00 AM

Astros still waiting to fulfill their destiny

By Dan Patrick

I have been boldly predicting that the Astros would be in the World Series this year. I said they would win it. As I've said before, my prediction was based on their great hitting, two great pitchers, a great reliever and destiny. Last night their great hitting let them down as the “Killer Bs” went 2 for 14. Their veteran ace, Roger Clemens, pitched a great game for 5 and two thirds innings. However, with two outs and two strikes on Albert Pujols, and a 2-1 lead, Roger couldn't get that third strike or third out before the Cards had taken a 4-2 lead. The Astros were one pitch away, by Clemens, and one great catch by Edmonds, that robbed the Astros of a 3-0 lead in the second inning, from fulfilling their destiny. They say baseball is a game of inches and last night it was. Clemens just missed with his pitch and if Ausmus's ball was one inch farther to the left of Edmonds, the outcome would have very likely been different. The Astros, nor I, are complaining, it's just the facts; they were that close to the World Series. The Astros have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of by the loss. They had one of the greatest runs in baseball history. And I'm not ashamed by my prediction. I would make it again. The Astros had it all going their way. It seemed destiny was on “their” side. An inch here or there and they would be in Boston today instead of Houston. The Astros will have to make some tough business decisions this off season in order to field a team next year that can go all the way. They must re-sign Carlos Beltran, who along with Craig Biggio, signed a letter endorsing President Bush yesterday. (they were joined by 22 other sports figures including Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Banks and John Elway.) I knew I liked that guy. The Astros will also need a healthy Andy Petitte next year and convince Roger to come back for one more season. If the Astros can bring backtheir key people for next year and add 2 or 3 more role players, they will have one more shot at fulfilling their destiny.

Permalink | News and Views

October 21, 2004, 05:00 PM

Five more days until the new site is launched.

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 21, 2004, 03:15 PM

Ohio Poll

By Rob Booth

Dayton Daily News: Poll shows dead heat in Ohio
The race for president in Ohio is a statistical dead heat in the latest Ohio Poll, released Tuesday. The poll, conducted by the University of Cincinnati, found that 48 percent of the likely voters support Democratic challenger John Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, and 46 percent support Republican President Bush.
I think Ohio is the state to watch on 11/2. I don't know how reliable this poll is.

Permalink | News and Views

October 21, 2004, 11:28 AM

HISD Board of Education District VI Trustee

By Rob Booth

I've been remiss in not mentioning this race. You can go here to read HISD's take on it. I've gotten a few e-mails about this campaign. It's very strange that HISD will be conducting a special election in the same polling places as the county, and the county refused to conduct the election for them. Anyway, I can't find a web site for candidate Mike Andries, please e-mail me a link if you find one or post it in the comments. Greg Meyers has a web site. The candidates will be appearing in a forum here:
MEET THE CANDIDATES - The Parents for Public Schools of Houston and the League of Women Voters are sponsoring a forum to meet the candidates for HISD School Board Trustee District VI. On October 25 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. you are invited to the Bayland Community Center at 6400 Bissonnet to hear Mike Andries and Greg Myers explain why each would be our best replacement for outgoing board member Laurie Bricker.
Do you need to figure out if you're in this district? Check the list of precincts here.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 21, 2004, 09:30 AM

Correction Please

By Rob Booth

The Chronicle has this thing about flu shots. Houston Chronicle: At least 9 Texans in Congress got flu shots
WASHINGTON - At least nine Texas lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, got quick and free flu shots from the Capitol's attending physician days after the government announced a vaccine shortage, aides confirmed Wednesday. [snip] A spokesman for Cornyn, 52, said Frist extended an invitation to get flu shots before the disclosure on Oct. 5 that roughly half of the 100 million doses that U.S. officials had expected would not be available this year. “The physician said come down and get it and he went down and got it,” said Don Stewart.
Emphasis added. No media bias against Republicans, my @#$%! Read paragraph one again, then read paragraph two. Ask yourself one question. When did Senator Cornyn get his flu shot? Before or after the shortage was announced? Judging by paragraph one, he's a horrible so-and-so who cheats widows and orphans out of flu shots and wants them to die. Judging by paragraph two, he was told to get it by the physician before the shortage was announced. How many people are going to read that far and that closely? [start rant] This is what keeps me going. This is why I'm doing this. The Chronicle can correct these things in the back pages of the print edition and apologize all they want. I'm going to keep, metaphorically, beating them up on the Internet until they quit pulling this crap. [end rant]

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

October 21, 2004, 06:01 AM

Destiny-just like I predicted

By Dan Patrick

Before the regular season was over, when few experts or fans picked the Astros to make the playoffs, I boldly predicted the Astros would make the playoffs and advance to the World Series. I also predicted they would likely win the championship once there. I based my prediction on my expert analysis of raw baseball data and a bit of magic: the Astros had the hottest hitters in baseball over the last month of the season, they had the best relief pitcher in the game, Brad Lidge, they had the best two starters, Clemens and Oswalt and they had “Destiny” on their side. I was obviously correct on all of my baseball comments and I don't need to go over the multiple signs of destiny again; but it has all played out as I forecast. We are now at destiny's door in a big way, with the best pitcher in baseball, Roger Clemens taking the mound today to pitch the Astros into the World Series for the first time in franchise history. For his entire career, Astro fans have dreamed of Roger Clemens pitching for his hometown team. He retired last season only to come out of retirement to join the Astros. Now, just one win away from the World Series, it just so happens that after all of these years, the pitching rotation works out that Roger Clemens will take the mound for Houston. It is clear that destiny, as I always predicted, is playing a major role in the Astros incredible run. The only thing I'm not sure about is, was it Roger's destiny or the Astros destiny, that in the greatest of Astro seasons, in one of the greatest of playoff series, it is that Roger has come back home at just the right time? Bring on the Red Sox.

Permalink | News and Views

October 21, 2004, 06:00 AM

Chilling

By Rob Booth

B4B: Democrats: We Win, No Matter What
Let that sink in for a moment - two weeks out from the vote, a senior Democrat is stating boldly that if every vote is counted, Kerry wins. How can he possibly know that? Has he gone 'round to every person who is sure to vote on November 2nd and asked? Of course not - so, what is he up to? He's setting up what the Democrats consider the real election of 2004 - their lawsuits post-November 2nd in which they hope to litigate their way into the White House.
Go read it.

Permalink | News and Views

October 21, 2004, 05:32 AM

Cragg Hines bashes Bush on flu shots

By Owen Courrèges

As usual, Chronicle columnist Cragg Hines is hopelessly mired in a swamp of distortions and hypocrisy. In his latest debauched offering, he condemns President Bush for not responding to warnings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding a potential shortage of flu vaccine:
...Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, one of the more garrulous members of the Cabinet, entered the contest this week by claiming that the shortage of flu vaccine “is not a health crisis.” Tell that to the 36,000 people who die annually in the United States, or the 200,000 who are hospitalized, from causes associated with influenza. Those are yearly averages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported by the Government Accountability Office, the agency formerly known as the General Accounting Office. Formal name changes aside, it's the same GAO that has warned repeatedly over the last four years about the perilous state of vaccine production and distribution. Academics and health professionals outside the government have been as pointed in their periodic alerts. The government response has been anemic.
First of all, a shortage of flu vaccine isn't a 'health crisis.' Although the flu can and does cause hospitalization and sometimes death, it is still not a serious disease and thus its effects do not constitute a 'crisis.' Heck, heart disease kills nearly a half-a-million people per year. That's a crisis. Influenza is an irritant by comparison. Secondly, there is no reason why the executive branch should respond to GAO reports. The GAO is, after all, a Congressional agency, established to assist Congressmen in their deliberations — not the president. The Department of Heath and Human Services doesn't depend on the GAO for research. And finally, if Cragg Hines is so trusting of the GAO, then why doesn't he agree with them concerning the merits of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) relative to light rail? According to the GAO, Bus Rapid Transit provides comparable service with vastly lower capital costs and generally lower operating costs (with some exceptions). Given this, why would anybody support light rail? C'mon Mr. Hines, you can't have it both ways... Are you really this intellectually dishonest?

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 20, 2004, 05:00 PM

Coming soon...

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 20, 2004, 10:45 AM

Bush and Kerry actually distant cousins

By Dan Patrick

On the ABC morning talk show today, the View, an expert in genealogy, says he has solid evidence that President Bush and John Kerry are actually distant cousins. The expert, from MyFamily.com, claims he has traced both men back to a common marriage in the early 1500's. He also said that Tom Hanks is related to Abe Lincoln. I guess you might call this, “Patrick's Believe It - If You Dare” column.

Permalink | News and Views

October 20, 2004, 09:49 AM

Welcome to the party, pal

By Rob Booth

After yesterday's letter to the editor from District Attorney Rosenthal, the Chronicle gets into the act. Houston Chronicle: Theft conviction appeal faults DA candidate
The Democratic candidate for Harris County district attorney did not adequately represent his client in a 2003 trial, the man's current lawyer argued to an appeals court Tuesday. At issue was Reginald McKamie's failure to keep a juror who said he would be biased toward law enforcement off the panel hearing the theft case. His client, Lance Biagas, was convicted in connection with problems at the office of former Precinct 7 Constable Perry Wooten, who himself was convicted of theft.
It looks to me like a fair, factual article that reinforces one of Mr. Rosenthal's challenges to their endorsement of his opponent. Since it looks fair, that of course starts my BS detector. Why are they doing this? This is either a really fair piece that the reporter got through the editing process (if so, bravo Rama and the Chronicle!) or they're putting down the groundwork for a hit piece on Mr. Rosenthal. Then they can point back at this piece and say “See, we're fair!”

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 20, 2004, 07:36 AM

Feds to give Boy Scouts greater access rights

By Owen Courrèges

This development has the San Francisco set fuming. Despite all the controversy over the Boy Scouts's policy banning gays and atheists, the federal government is pushing forward to ensure that the BSA has even greater access to public properties:
Three years after the federal government ordered public schools to keep their doors open to the Boy Scouts of America, the US Department of Education is poised to revisit its rules regarding “patriotic youth groups” - a move likely to grant the Boy Scouts even more access rights. [...] Considering the timing of the announcement about the policy change - including a press conference at an Arkansas elementary school featuring the state's governor - some critics see political considerations at work. “Politics is politics, and it probably has something to do with the campaign and all that,” says Scott Cozza, president of the Scouting for All organization, which supports opening the Boy Scouts to gays. “It's a disgrace that our public schools are forced by our current administration and the federal government to support an organization that discriminates against its own citizens.”
Well, sure it's political — but it's also good policy. Cozza and his ilk are just frustrated because they haven't managed to bring down Scouting, which was their apparent goal all along. With these folks, anything wholesome and pure has to be sullied and debased. I'm just glad that this time around, we have a Congress that sees things differently.

Permalink | News and Views

October 20, 2004, 06:20 AM

Letter from Mayor's Office Highlights Problem of Politicking on City Time

By Rob Booth

If you were listening to Dan Patrick's show yesterday you may have heard Paul Bettencourt discuss Mayor White's office putting out a news release in which the city government campaigns against Proposition 2. Proposition 2 is the ballot measure that Chronically Biased, the Harris County GOP, Let the People Vote, Citizens For Public Accountability, and thousands of Houstonians are supporting. It will limit the growth in the city's expenditures to increases in population and inflation. In a nutshell, the news release is based upon a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration, which Mr. Frank Michel from the Mayor's office agreed was based upon a faulty premise. The faulty premise is that the FAA was told that airport revenue could be used for property tax refunds. According to Mr. Bettencourt, and Mr. Michel agreed, this is not correct. Dan and Paul talked about the campaigning aspect of the news release with Mr. Michel on the air yesterday. Mr. Michel expressed the opinion that the letters did not constitute campaigning by the Mayor's staff. Well, I wouldn't want to tell you what to think. You can go look for yourself. We have copies of the news release and the letter from the FAA that the city is distributing in an effort to scare voters into defeating Proposition 2. I scanned in a high-resolution version and a low-resolution version for those of you on dial-up connections. When you click on the links below, some versions of Internet Explorer will compress the image so it fits completely within your browser. This makes it hard to read. Put your cursor over the image and wait for a button to appear in the lower-right corner of the image. Click on it to make the image expand to its full size. City of Houston Press Release (Page 1 - high res) City of Houston Press Release (Page 2 - high res) FAA Letter (high res) City of Houston Press Release (Page 1 - low res) City of Houston Press Release (Page 2 - low res) FAA Letter (low res)

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 19, 2004, 04:41 PM

Letter to the Editor

By The Staff

I am not particularly upset about the Chronicle's endorsement of my opponent. It has been very clear that they believe that law enforcement and justice are mutually exclusive. There are some issues in the editorial that I would like to address. I have consistently said that I authorized seeking the death penalty in the Andrea Yates case, because I felt that it was appropriate that jurors have the full range of punishment available in a case where five innocent children were murdered for no apparent reason. At the time when Ms. Yates reported the crime and confessed to police, she said nothing about satanic influences. She was competent to stand trial and the jury found that she was sane at the time of the commission of the offense. I believe that the jury's findings were appropriate and should deter others from committing similar offenses. On the issue of the establishment of a public defenders office for Harris County, neither Mr. McKamie, nor myself, have anything to do with whether or not the Commissioner's Court establishes such an office. Apparently neither the Chronicle or Mr. McKamie appreciates the separation of powers in this county. Many of the people who leave my office to represent indigents do so because they need to make more money than I can pay them or leave, because they need more flexible time than a county job allows. Unless the county fathers want to give public defenders more money and latitude, they will not attract the quality of lawyers for indigent defendants than they enjoy now. The Editorial Board says that I have not wanted transparency in the HPD lab investigation. Chronicle reporters correctly reported that when the problem surfaced, I called for a joint city/county commission to review the process that HPD and I had established to review DNA analysis. Judge Eckels supported the plan, apparently Mayor Brown did not. When I pointed out that Mr. McKamie had lost the only felony jury trial that I know he tried [and] that he filed an affidavit saying that he had made mistakes during the trial, he said that he was proud to acknowledge his mistakes. One can only wonder why the editorial board would choose to endorse a candidate with little or no criminal law background to lead the finest prosecutor's office in America. Perhaps there is a clue in the fact that their editorial expresses great concern for those who are accused, but expresses no concern for the victims of [the] crime. Chuck Rosenthal Harris County District Attorney

Permalink | Letters

October 19, 2004, 11:28 AM

Letter to the Editor

By The Staff

Dear Chronically Biased: I was surprised to read the Chronicle's endorsement of incumbent Republican Representative John Culberson in District 7. Culberson is a man whom I greatly admire and I am glad to have him representing my district. Did you happen to catch the outrageous slam on Christians that the Chronicle threw into this endorsement? I almost couldn't believe it when I read it, but this is the Chronicle, after all. “Culberson's district now includes the Texas Medical Center, and the congressman has promised not to let superstition and ignorance be obstacles to federal support for the most advanced and promising forms of medical research.” This is a reference to embryonic stem cell research, and the Chronicle is calling anyone who objects to this research due to deeply held religious beliefs “superstitious” and “ignorant”, which I deeply resent. I think the Chronicle owes Christians an apology, but I certainly won't hold my breath. I lost my beloved grandmother to Alzheimer's two years ago and it was an agonizing 10-year disease process. In spite of that, I do not support embryonic stem cell research. I am not ignorant or superstitious. I believe the researchers and doctors when they say that adult stem cell research shows more promise, and I believe them when they say there is no proof whatsoever that embryonic stem cell research would be more effective in finding treatments and/or cures for most diseases. Sincerely, Caroline Young Houston, TX

Permalink | Letters

October 19, 2004, 11:17 AM

Kerry Takes On Dr. Kevorkian As Campaign Adviser (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Wisconsin (CB) — Stemming from a Bill Clinton suggestion, Democratic challenger John Kerry accepted assisted suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian (Dr. Death) as his new campaign adviser. Claiming the candidate is too G.Q. to keep hidden away, Kevorkian immediately had Kerry go out for more photo ops.
Clinton said, “If Kevorkian does his job, I know he'll live up to his reputation.” (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

October 19, 2004, 10:59 AM

Abbott: Flu vaccine price gouging 'intolerable'

By Owen Courrèges

Geez... This just goes to show you that some people do indeed have no consciences:
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said today that his office will investigate complaints that flu shot distributors are marking up vials of the vaccine by as much as 1,000 percent. A vial of the vaccine typically holds about 10 doses and costs about $80, Abbott said. But in one recent complaint, a vial was sold for $950. “Incredibly, we now have reports that some suppliers are taking advantage of this health care emergency to make a quick dollar. That is intolerable,” Abbott said.
What kind of scumbag looks at a public health emergency and sees dollar signs? I mean, I'm a fervent advocate of the capitalist system, but there are limits. When you can't look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, there's definitely a problem. I would have thought that these guys would have reached that threshold by now.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 19, 2004, 08:43 AM

Have you voted early yet?

By Rob Booth

14 days. Go here. Harris County voters can see a precinct-specific ballot here.

Permalink | News and Views

October 19, 2004, 07:23 AM

Drug reimportation scheme failing miserably

By Owen Courrèges

I could have told you this would happen. The new law permitting the reimporatation drugs from Canada, thus applying Canadian price controls to American pharmaceuticals, is failing to have the desired effect of providing Americans with low-cost prescription drugs:
More than 30 Canadian internet pharmacies have decided not to accept bulk orders of prescription drugs from US states and municipalities. The move delivers a potentially serious setback to US politicians most notably Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry campaigning to give Americans easier access to cheap drugs from Canada.
This was predictable. In the ideal market, the cost of producing drugs is self-contained. This means that research and development, which incurs enormous costs due to the risks involved, is spread out over the cost of the individual drug. However, when one market imposes cost controls, as Canada has done, it reaps the benefits of R&D without paying the price. Drug companies still want to reap a profit, no matter how slight, and so they still sell pharmaceuticals with high R&D costs in that market in spite of price controls, just so long as they can recoup those costs in another market — to wit, the American market. In this sense, the Candadian market is parasitic. It feeds off American innovation while giving nothing in return. But if you let American consumers benefit from Canadian price controls, well, from the Canadian perspective, that just screws up the entire system. After all, American drug companies won't sell more drugs in Canada just to make up for the increased demand from American pharmacies for reimported drugs — that would be stupid, since they'd be applying Canadian price controls to the American market. So instead they sell the same amount of drugs, which sends an unmistakable ultimatum to Canada: Either refuse reimportation, or face massive drug shortages. As the article indicates, Canada is choosing the former strategy. They like the deal they're getting — American innovation with no cost to them. And American drug companies don't want to sacrifice profits by cutting research and development. So they'll restrict drug production in Canada, and Canada will refuse to export to the US. Thus the effect of drug reimportation will be virtually nil. Would somebody mind explaining to me, then, why Senator Kerry harped on this issue at the debates? Methinks he doesn't comprehend basic economics, which doesn't bode well for our country if he succeeds in November.

Permalink | News and Views

October 19, 2004, 06:14 AM

Compare and Contrast

By Rob Booth

Houston Chronicle: Texas remap sent back to lower court
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday ordering a Texas court to revisit its approval of a controversial redistricting map won't change the November election but keeps alive hope of overturning the map by 2006, said lawyers who sued the state.
BeldarBlog: SCOTUS decision today on Texas redistricting case is no big deal
So what's this mean? The Associated Press story on today's ruling, as republished in the online version of the Houston Chronicle (beware, the Chron has a nasty tendancy to edit, replace, or simply make content disappear at the same URL), spins this as if it were a big win for the Dems:
The Supreme Court handed Democrats a victory today, ordering a lower court to reconsider a Texas redistricting plan that could give Republicans six more seats and a firmer hold on their majority in the House.
I suppose from the standpoint of the Democratic plaintiffs, today's ruling is slightly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But it's a shallow, technical, procedural, and — in all probability — a purely temporary victory for the Dems that at best gives them one more bite at an apple they've already gone hungry on before.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 18, 2004, 01:05 PM

Updated: NAACP recruit buys voter registrations for crack

By Matt Bramanti

In Ohio, a woman by the name of Georgianne Pitts was recruited by the NAACP's National Voter Fund to get people registered to vote. Ordinarily, I'd commend her for her contribution to the electoral process. That is, if she wasn't a complete scumbag. You see, Pitts gave 22-year-old Chad Staton crack cocaine in exchange for a fat stack of fradulent voter registrations:
The Sheriff's Office alleges that Staton filled out over 100 voter registration forms that were fictitious. Staton was to be paid for each registration form that he could get citizens to fill out. However, Staton himself filled out the registrations and returned them to the woman who hired him from Toledo, Ohio. Deputies allege that Staton was paid crack cocaine for the falsified registrations.
I'm waiting to hear the satisfying “thud” when prosecutors throw the book at both of these reprobates. Update, 2:00 p.m.: The scumbag list is getting longer. Thaddeus J. Jackson, the NAACP official who recruited Ms. Pitts, has a shady political past, including a number of allegations regarding improper political funding, voter-registration improprieties, and even a conviction on a fund-raising charge. Here are some references from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Permalink | News and Views

October 18, 2004, 11:44 AM

P's Fright Fest

By Matt Forge

This has got to be the lowest and most bizarre campaign message I've ever seen. You know - the one that states, "Vote or Die!" It's posited as a "get out the vote" drive, but is it really just a "get out the Democratic vote" drive?

Its main salesperson is that hip-hop star Sean "P. Diddy (former Puff Daddy)" Combs, and it is a project of his organization that calls itself "Citizens for Change". Their website states the following:

Citizen Change is a national, non-partisan and non-profit organization created to educate, motivate, and empower the more than 42 million Americans aged 18 to 30 that are eligible to vote on November 2nd --also known as the "forgotten ones."

Okay, so the are non-partisan. And what about the "Vote or Die" slogan? Again, from their site:

While the Vote Or Die! message is an alarming one, so too are the conditions affecting our communities. It truly has become a matter of life or death, The "forgotten ones" will not be able to survive if the current issues of unemployment, failing education and denial to proper health care continue to be ignored.

Okay, so they've already defined the "forgotten ones" as eligible voters between 18 and 30, and said they will die if certain conditions don't change. This is fear mongering at its worst. And what about all the other people whom don't fall into their defined demographic? Are they immune from the coming catastrophes? How imminent are these threats anyway?

As you can see, the three subjects listed, unemployment, education and health care are traditionally considered strong Democratic issues. Even though these issues are important, what about the threat of terrorism? A search on every page of their site for the word "terror" ended in the following result:

Isn't terrorism the number one most dangerous and imminent threat to all Americans? Of course it is, but it's also an issue that favors Republicans. Maybe they just forgot about it.

And just exactly what "change" do these "citizens" want ­ a change of administrations maybe? Ya think?

Guilt by association - Also consider who they've partnered with: MTV "Choose or Lose", Rock the Vote (Bruce Springsteen), Jay-Z, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Ellen DeGeneres, Ashton Kutcher, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige and Drew Barrymore.

This is not necessarily a non-partisan mix of "luminaries." At least the could have thrown in a token conservative or two to present a better "non-partisan" facade.

This whole "Vote or Die" thing is obviously a masked partisan fear tactic to scare young voters with skulls full of mush who get their political information from the liberal pop-cultural to go and vote against President Bush and conservative Republicans.

So I thought I'd come up with an even scarier slogan to help their cause. Hey Democrats, don't ever say I didn't do anything for you.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

October 18, 2004, 07:27 AM

Yet another endorsement shocker!

By Rob Booth

The Houston Chronicle endorsed District Attorney Rosenthal's opponent. This comes after the Chronicle edited Mr. Rosenthal's letter to the editor and changed the meaning of it. They did correct their error.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 18, 2004, 07:26 AM

Surprise! Surprise! Chron endorses DeLay's left-wing opponent

By Owen Courrèges

I know this will come as a shock to our regular readers, but the Houston Chronicle has endorsed Rep. Tom DeLay's Democratic opponent, Richard Morrison. Expectedly, the editorial embodies a great deal of embellishment, as well as a fair amount of unabashed DeLay bashing. Let's start at the beginning:
A Democrat who promises to place the district's interests above grasping for partisan power in Washington, Morrison seeks to unseat the long-serving Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay. Morrison, an environmental lawyer and Sugar Land resident, vows to do a better job in securing federal funds for Houston-area transportation and homeland security.
That's profoundly dumb. Essentially, Morrison is saying “I'll do a better job of getting my district money than the current House majority leader, even though I'll be a freshman Congressman that nobody will listen to.” And the Chronicle actually has the audacity to print it (although I doubt that they did so with a straight face).
Morrison says he would work to close corporate tax loopholes and invest more in education and health care.
Of course, we all know that corporate taxes come out of corporate profits, so that's all good. Oh wait — that's not what happens at all. Corporations pass on their expenses to consumers, so “clos[ing] corporate tax loopholes” will really mean higher prices for you and me. And as for investing more in education and healthcare, I'll simply point out that DeLay has already done that (much to my personal chagrin). Today we have a prescription drug benefit in Medicare, and federal education funding has considerably. But I suppose what Washington really needs is a freshman congressman from Sugarland to try and increase spending further in a time of record deficits. That sounds really intelligent.
He is personally opposed to abortion.
...which is the same as saying that he's a dyed-in-the-wool pro-choicer. The Chronicle doesn't mention that particular fact, hoping to confuse voters into thinking that Morrison is pro-life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although Morrison professes a belief that abortion is wrong, he supports the “right of adult women to make their own reproductive health choices.” This would be like me saying that I believe shoplifting to be wrong, but that I support the “right of teenagers to swipe CDs from Blockbuster Music.”
DeLay is the powerful House majority leader, perhaps more influential than the House speaker. The District 22 election thus has national implications that bear heavily on the race.
The 'national implications' being that the Chronicle wants more Democrats in Washington. Oh, and they have a bizarre fixation on Tom DeLay. I wouldn't be shocked to find that Cragg Hines was stalking him.
DeLay has been reprimanded several times by the House ethics committee for an indifference to the rules that reflects poorly on the House and on Texas. Most recently, the committee's bipartisan membership admonished DeLay for offering a favor in exchange for a colleague's vote; giving the appearance of wrongdoing by exchanging access on the golf course for campaign contributions from energy executives; and improperly trying to use federal aviation officials to locate Democratic legislators who had fled Texas.
Of course, these charges were brought exclusively by Democrats near the election for the sole purpose of hurting DeLay politically, but that shouldn't have any bearing on how we view them, right? And speaking of “an indifference to the rules,” wasn't it the Chronicle that condoned the actions of those Democrats who broke quorum over redistricting, flouting both the House and Senate rules, and costing the state millions? It appears to me that “the rules” only matter to them when it involves a politician whom they despise.
DeLay's misplaced priorities were most evident in his previous ban on federal rail transit funds for Houston, causing the funds to go to other cities. DeLay was behind the redistricting effort in Texas that displaced badly needed property tax relief and school finance reform as the Austin leadership's top priorities.
Rail transit is cost-ineffecitve, and wasn't brought to a vote before construction began. Despite the failure of earlier referendums, Metro pursued it without voter approval. That's why DeLay opposed it. As for redistricting, wasn't that really the fault of those Democrats who broke quorum by scampering off to New Mexico and Oklahoma? It's odd that they continually escape responsibility in the Chronicle's eyes.
Morrison faces an uphill battle in this race. The Houston region and the entire country will be better off if he succeeds.
That would be true, but only if we were in the 'bizarro-universe' of Superman comics, where everything is the opposite of the real world. Then perhaps a freshman Congressman could actually accomplish more than the House Majority Leader, and a politically-motivated ethics inquiry would be a credible basis for condemning a powerful and respected politician. Thankfully, we don't live in bizarro-world. DeLay will be re-elected, and Chronicle can go on slandering him on a weekly basis.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 18, 2004, 06:39 AM

Early Voting

By Rob Booth

In Texas, we don't have to vote on Election Day. We can vote during a two-week period prior to the election with no questions asked. If you don't like to put things off to the last minute, go vote early. Click here if you vote in Brazoria County. Click here if you vote in Chambers County. Click here if you vote in Fort Bend County. Click here if you vote in Galveston County. Click here if you vote in Harris County. Click here if you vote in Jefferson County. Click here if you vote in Liberty County. Click here if you vote in Montgomery County. Click here if you vote in Waller County.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 16, 2004, 11:29 PM

New PW video to debut Sunday night

By Matt Forge

Below is the text of an e-mail I received from Protest Warriors with details of their latest project...
LIBERTY RISING live premiere Sunday, 10.17.04, 8:00pm Texas time, liberty will rise, as ProtestWarrior debuts our new film chronicling our battle against the Left at the RNC. An hour long, you'll see the true fascist, violent nature of anti-war protesters, and how they respond when confronted with truth. You're about to see what happens when you take their principles all the way. It's not a pretty sight. In conjunction with our good friends at TheRightWay (www.therightway.tv), we're piping this out on a server utilizing a new technology that allows for quality live internet broadcasting. The film will run from 8pm to 9pm CST, and will be followed with a live video interview with Kfir and Alan, where we'll take your questions and talk about, oh I don't know, Liberty Rising? You'll be required to register with a credit card to pay a $3 fee (to cover the bandwidth costs) for your all-access pass, and as always PW policy is to never sell your info to anyone and never send you ads. The film will be available in three separate streams: T1, DSL and dialup. We'd like to strongly recommend that you watch this on broadband, and with a good sound system. For the bandwidth impaired, look for a screening party going on in your area. Check with your local chapter at HQ, or use the Command and Control section of our Forum for finding or hosting a screening party. This will be a great way to meet fellow liberty-lovers in your area. Go to www.protestwarrior.com/premiere.php for detailed instructions on getting your ticket, and we've uploaded 'Crashing the Protests' (our first 7 minute film of March 2003 that started it all), which you can use to test settings and confirm that you have the latest versions of all the requisite software. Liberty Rising will be available in all formats for free download on Monday, but you won't want to miss the live premiere Sunday night when we first introduce it to the world. It'll be a night you're sure to remember. Get ready for LIBERTY RISING. Set your expectations to HIGH. -Kfir & Alan www.protestwarrior.com

Permalink | Letters

October 16, 2004, 05:47 PM

Chron: Catholicism analogized to Scientology

By Owen Courrèges

The Chronicle has just sunk to a new low. In a review of 'Me-sci-ah,' a film by Infernal Bridegroom Productions (IBP) aimed at debunking Scientology and mocking Tom Cruise's affiliation with the pseudo-religion, the Chronicle actually intimates that the traditionalist Catholicism of Mel Gibson is equally worthy of mockery. The review, written by Everett Evans, starts out innocently enough:
Movie stars who share their spiritual revelations — particularly those perceived as even vaguely New Age-ish or cult-connected — run the risk of becoming objects of ridicule. Just ask Shirley MacLaine or any of her former selves. Now it's Tom Cruise's turn. Me-sci-ah, the latest indescribable something from Infernal Bridegroom Productions, is IBP mainstay Troy Schulze's merciless ribbing of Cruise's involvement with the Church of Scientology.
But then at the end of the piece, Evans asks the following question:
Now when will IBP get around to Mel Gibson?
The real question is why Evans believes that Gibson's faith is worthy of such satirical disdain. We all know why Scientology merits such derision — it's based on the writings of a 50's science fiction writer operating out of Los Angeles, and conducts itself as a cult (who else has copyrighted religious texts?). This is no way analogous to pre-Vatican II Catholicism, which was practiced by most Christians worldwide prior to the 1960s. Moreover, the basic tenets of Gibson's faith are the same as those of all Christians. But apparently for Evans this doesn't matter, simply because he has a problem with Gibson. Sickening.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 16, 2004, 12:47 PM

Sen. Kerry and the Draft

By Rob Booth

Here are two interesting posts about Senator Kerry and his insistence on talking about the draft. Instapundit Blogs for Bush: John Kerry's Secret Draft Plan

Permalink | News and Views

October 15, 2004, 07:31 PM

Profound Statement of the Day

By Matt Forge

Comedian Jon Stewart provides this metaphor for what he calls a mistaken Iraqi war...

"If one guy drove me into a ditch and said, 'Don't worry, I know how to get us out of this,' I'd give the keys to a 7-year-old."

Hey Jon, hows 'bout getting yourself out of the ditch? Leave it to a liberal to want somebody else to do the work.

Questions for Jon: Are you sure you're in a ditch? How big is the ditch? Is the ditch wet or dry? What kind of vehicle are you in - a Hummer or a tank maybe? Who owns the vehicle? Would you have to fight the driver for the keys? Do you know the 7-year-old? Was the 7-year-old in the vehicle at the time of the crash? If so, was he hurt? Or was the 7-year-old just walking down the road at the time? Is the 7-year-old your child? If not, would his/her legal guardian(s) want you to allow their child to illegally operate a motor vehicle? Did the airbag deploy? Did you try calling OnStar? Is the "7-year-old" reference a metaphor for the U.N. or John Kerry?

Permalink | Humor

October 15, 2004, 07:23 PM

Gaffe of the Day

By Matt Forge

Clothing designer Eileen Fisher said this through a spokesbabe...

"If every woman urges two women to vote and those two women tell two more, so many voices will be heard. There is power in women's connection and the way we share information. If we apply that energy towards the vote, we will make a great difference."

Hey Eileen - if "every woman" were to urge two other women to vote, it wouldn't make any difference because "every woman" would already understand the importance of voting (evidenced by their willingness to urge others to vote). By default, this would leave no other women available who didn't understand the importance of voting.

There would be women all over the country saying, "How ironic, I was going to tell you the exact same thing! By the way, I just LOVE your shoes."

Permalink | Humor

October 15, 2004, 07:19 PM

Snobbish Insult of the Day

By Matt Forge

Oliver Stone says these things in the November issue of Playboy...

"He (President Bush) looks like he shops at Wal-Mart."

Stone also said this about the people who lined up to show their respects for President Reagan at the tributes following his death:

"Parades with people in baseball caps and shorts and ugly T-shirts."

Hey Ollie, you talkin' 'bout Michael Moore?

You have to go see the story and read all the other bizarre comments made by this condescending twisted "progressive" aristocrat.

Permalink | Humor

October 15, 2004, 05:41 PM

Early Voting (Harris County)

By Rob Booth

Click below for links to information on early voting in Harris County. Early Voting Dates and Times (Harris County) Early Voting Locations - Harris County (West) Early Voting Locations - Harris County (North) Early Voting Locations - Harris County (East) Early Voting Locations - Harris County (Southeast) Early Voting Locations - Harris County (South) Early Voting Locations - Harris County (Central) You can get the latest information at the Harris County Clerk's web site. A particularly helpful feature is this link where you can generate a sample ballot for your specific precinct. Also, there's an HISD election in some precincts (west Houston). Here's a link.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:40 PM

Early Voting Dates, Times, and Locations (Montgomery County)

By Rob Booth

Click here to see the early voting schedule and locations for Montgomery County.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:37 PM

Early Voting Dates, Times, and Locations (Fort Bend County)

By Rob Booth

Click here to see the early voting schedule and locations for Fort Bend County.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:36 PM

Early Voting Dates and Times (Harris County)

By Rob Booth

Click below to see the early voting schedule for the November 2nd election. Monday, October 18 8:00 AM 4:30 PM Tuesday, October 19 8:00 AM 4:30 PM Wednesday, October 20 8:00 AM 4:30 PM Thursday, October 21 8:00 AM 4:30 PM Friday, October 22 8:00 AM 4:30 PM Saturday, October 23 7:00 AM 7:00 PM Sunday, October 24 1:00 PM 6:00 PM Monday, October 25 7:00 AM 7:00 PM Tuesday, October 26 7:00 AM 7:00 PM Wednesday, October 27 7:00 AM 7:00 PM Thursday, October 28 7:00 AM 7:00 PM Friday, October 29 7:00 AM 7:00 PM

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:33 PM

Early Voting Locations - Harris County (Central)

By Rob Booth

Click below for early voting locations in central Harris County. There's a link below each item to a Yahoo! map of the polling place. MAIN OFFICE 1310 Prairie (16th Floor) Houston, TX 77002-2045 Map State Representative, District 142-K Kashmere Multi-Service Center 4802 Lockwood Houston, TX 77026-2941 Map State Representative, District 148 Moody Park Recreation Center 3725 Fulton Houston, TX 77009-4757 Map State Representative, District 134 Metropolitan Multi-Service Center 1475 West Gray Houston, TX 77019-4926 Map State Representative, District 147 Palm Center 5300 Griggs Road (Enter JP/Constable door) Map State Representative, District 145 H.C.C.S. Southeast College (Eastside Campus) 2524 Garland at Rustic Houston, TX 77087-2708 Map State Representative, District 146-F Fiesta Mart Inc. 8130 Kirby Drive Houston, TX 77054-1706 Map Early Voting Dates and Times

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:32 PM

Early Voting Locations - Harris County (South)

By Rob Booth

Click below for early voting locations in southern Harris County. There's a link below each item to a Yahoo! map of the polling place. State Representative, District 147 Palm Center 5300 Griggs Road (Enter JP/Constable door) Houston, TX 77021-3715 Map State Representative, District 146-F Fiesta Mart Inc. 8130 Kirby Drive Houston, TX 77054-1706 Map State Representative, District 131 The Power Center 12401 South Post Oak Road Houston, TX 77045-2007 Map State Representative, District 137-B Bayland Park Community Center 6400 Bissonnet near Hillcroft Houston, TX 77074-6520 Map State Representative, District 146-S Sunnyside Multi-Service Center 4605 Wilmington Houston, TX 77051-3333 Map State Representative, District 145 H.C.C.S. Southeast College (Eastside Campus) 2524 Garland @ Rustic Houston, TX 77087-2708 Map Early Voting Dates and Times

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:31 PM

Early Voting Locations - Harris County (Southeast)

By Rob Booth

Click below for early voting locations in southeastern Harris County. There's a link below each item to a Yahoo! map of the polling place. State Representative, District 145 H.C.C.S. Southeast College (Eastside Campus) 2524 Garland @ Rustic Houston, TX 77087-2708 Map State Representative, District 129 Clear Lake Freeman Branch Library 16616 Diana Lane Houston, TX 77062-5812 Map State Representative, District 128-P Harris County Courthouse Annex #25 7330 Spencer Highway Pasadena, TX 77505-1824 Map State Representative, District 144 I.B.E.W. Hall #66 4345 Allen Genoa Road Pasadena, TX 77504-3701 Map State Representative, District 143 Galena Park Branch Library 1500 Keene Street Galena Park, TX 77547-2400 Map State Representative, District 128-B Remington Park Assisted Living 901 West Baker Road Baytown, TX 77521-2398 Map Early Voting Dates and Times

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:30 PM

Early Voting Locations - Harris County (East)

By Rob Booth

Click below for early voting locations in eastern Harris County. There's a link below each item to a Yahoo! map of the polling place. State Representative, District 141-H Octavia Fields Branch Library Annex 1503 South Houston Avenue Humble, TX 77338-4822 Map State Representative, District 142-K Kashmere Multi-Service Center 4802 Lockwood Houston, TX 77026-2941 Map State Representative, District 127 Fire Station 102 4102 Lake Houston Parkway Kingwood, TX 77339-5203 Map State Representative, District 148 Moody Park Recreation Center 3725 Fulton Houston, TX 77009-4757 Map State Representative, District 141-C BeBe Tabernacle Methodist Church 7210 Langley Houston, TX 77016-2724 Map State Representative, District 142-W North Channel Library 15741 Wallisville Road Houston, TX 77049-4607 Map Early Voting Dates and Times

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:29 PM

Early Voting Locations - Harris County (North)

By Rob Booth

Click below for early voting locations in northern Harris County. There's a link below each item to a Yahoo! map of the polling place. State Representative, District 139 Acres Homes Multi-Service Center 6719 West Montgomery Road - 2nd Floor Houston, TX 77091 Map State Representative, District 135 City of Jersey Village - Epiphany Lutheran Church 8101 Senate Houston, TX 77040 Map State Representative, District 138 Bear Creek Park Community Center Bear Creek Drive at Patterson Road Houston, TX 77084 Map State Representative, District 140 Hardy Senior Center 11901 West Hardy Road Houston, TX 77076-1220 Map State Representative, District 126 Barbra Bush Library 6817 Cypresswood Spring, TX 77379-7705 Map State Representative, District 130 Tomball Public Works Building 501 B James Tomball, TX 77375 Map State Representative, District 150 Ponderosa Fire Station No. 1 17061 Rolling Creek Drive Houston, TX 77090-2411 Map Early Voting Dates and Times

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:28 PM

Early Voting Locations - Harris County (West)

By Rob Booth

Click below for early voting locations in western Harris County. There's a link below each item to a Yahoo! map of the polling place. State Representative, District 149 Alief Regional Branch Library 7979 South Kirkwood Houston, TX 77072-4701 Map State Representative, District 138 Bear Creek Park Community Center Bear Creek Drive at Patterson Road Houston, TX 77084 Map State Representative, District 137-B Bayland Park Community Center 6400 Bissonnet near Hillcroft Houston, TX 77074-6520 Map State Representative, District 137-T Tracy Gee Community Center 3599 Westcenter Drive (One Block East of Sam Houston Tollway - off Richmond) Houston, TX 77042-5213 Map State Representative, District 133-M Courtyard By Marriott - Board Room 12401 Katy Freeway @ Dairy Ashford Houston, TX 77079-1401 Map State Representative, District 136 Harris County Courthouse Annex #35 1721 Pech Road, 2nd Floor Houston, TX 77055-3308 Map State Representative, District 132 Harris County M.U.D. No. 81 805 Hidden Canyon @ Cimmaron Katy, TX 77450 Map State Representative, District 133-V VN TeamWork 11210 Bellaire, Suite 118 Houston, TX 77072-2527 Map Early Voting Dates and Times Also, there's an HISD election in some precincts (west Houston). Here's a link.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:25 PM

Early Voting Dates, Times, and Locations (Brazoria County)

By Rob Booth

Here's the early voting information for Brazoria County. The information is from the County Clerk's office. Sorry about the all caps, but that's the way they posted it and I don't have time to retype it. NOTICE OF EARLY VOTING BRAZORIA COUNTY, TEXAS FOR THE NOVEMBER 2, 2004 GENERAL ELECTION AND BRAZORIA COUNTY SPECIAL BOND ELECTION EARLY VOTING BY PERSONAL APPEARANCE LOCATIONS: ANGLETON MAIN LOCATION: BRAZORIA COUNTY COURTHOUSE WEST ANNEX, 451 NORTH VELASCO ST., ROOM 144, ANGLETON CLUTE BRANCH LOCATION: CENTERPOINT ENERGY BUILDING 202 HIGHWAY 332 WEST, CLUTE MANVEL BRANCH LOCATION: JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, PCT. 2, PL. 1 COURTROOM 20351 HIGHWAY 6, MANVEL ALVIN BRANCH LOCATION: ALVIN LIBRARY 105 S. GORDON STREET, ALVIN BRAZORIA BRANCH LOCATION: PRECINCT 4 COMMISSIONER HEADQUARTERS 1001 MARKET STREET, BRAZORIA PEARLAND BRANCH LOCATION: JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, PCT. 3, PL. 2 COURTROOM 3801 E. PEAR, PEARLAND, TEXAS 77584 PERSONAL APPEARANCE TIMES AND DATES: Monday – Friday October 18 – 22 8:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Saturday October 23 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday October 24 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday October 25 – 29 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EARLY VOTING BY MAIL: Applications for voting by mail should be mailed to be received no earlier than September 3, 2004 and no later than the close of business (5:00 p.m.) on October 26, 2004. Applications should be mailed to: JOYCE HUDMAN, COUNTY CLERK 111 EAST LOCUST, SUITE 200 ANGLETON, TX 77515-4654 REASONS FOR BEING QUALIFIED TO VOTE BY MAIL ARE: 65 years of age or older; Confinement in jail; Disability; Absence from the county on election day and absence during the Early Voting period. JOYCE HUDMAN, COUNTY CLERK BRAZORIA COUNTY, TEXAS

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:19 PM

Early Voting Information (Galveston County)

By Rob Booth

Click here to see the early voting schedule and locations for Galveston County.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 05:11 PM

Early Voting Dates, Times, and Locations (Jefferson County)

By Rob Booth

Click below to see information on early voting in Jefferson County. Info via the County Clerk's office. Early Voting by personal appearance begins October 18, 2004 and continues October 29, 2004. In accordance with Article 84.007 of the Texas Election Code the last day the County Clerk may receive application to vote by mail is October 26, 2004. The date and time for the following locations are: ===== Beaumont Courthouse, 1149 Pearl Street, Bmt. Sub-Courthouse, 525 Lakeshore, Pt. Arthur Rogers Park Community Ctr., 1455 Dowlen, Bmt. Nederland Recreation Center, 2300 Ave. H, Nederland Lucky 7 Store, 3330 Ave A, Beaumont (Portable Bldg.) October 18 - 22 (weekdays)......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 23 - (Saturday)......... 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday 24 - (Sunday)........... 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. October 25 - 29 (weekdays)......... 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ===== Groves Activity Building, 6150 39th St., Groves October 18 - 22 (weekdays).......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 23 (Saturday).......... 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 25 - 29 (weekdays).......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ===== Stilwell Tech Ctr., 4801 9th Ave., Pt. Arthur October 18 - 22 (weekdays).......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 25 - 29 (weekdays)......... 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ===== Precinct 1 Service Ctr., 1201 W. Hwy 90, Bmt. October 18 - 22 (weekdays)......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 25 - 29 (weekdays)......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ===== Sterling Pruitt Activity Center, 2930 Gulf Street, Bmt. October 18 - 22 (weekdays)......... 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 25 - 29 (weekdays)......... 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Permalink | News and Views

October 15, 2004, 02:59 PM

Teresa-tini: Equal parts gin and lunacy

By Matt Bramanti

Teresa Heinz Kerry demands five doses of “arthritis remedy.” (Photo by Marilyn Newton) In speaking to a community center in Reno, Nev., Teresa Heinz Kerry discussed her national health care strategy:
Heinz Kerry ended with what she called “a highly effective” remedy for arthritis that drew laughter and some skepticism from the audience. “You get some gin and get some white raisins — and only white raisins — and soak them in the gin for two weeks,” she said. “Then eat nine of the raisins a day.”
Then, apparently, you slam back the rest of the bottle of gin and give a speech on health care policy.

Permalink | News and Views

October 15, 2004, 10:26 AM

Chron bias evident in black and white

By Matt Bramanti

Today's business section parrots a liberal advocacy group's claim that blacks are systematically denied for mortgages, regardless of their credit.
“Good credit, a strong work ethic and a desire to get ahead didn't help single mother Alana Hill qualify for a home loan. Like 29.6 percent of African-Americans in Houston who applied for mortgages last year, Hill was turned down by bankers. ”I feel like because I'm a minority, I'm automatically struck off,“ said Hill, who rents a home in the mainly black neighborhood of Independence Heights.”
Let's pull the old Media Bias Indicators off the shelf, shall we? Unchallenged assumption — Writing a news story from a point of view or an assumption that is not challenged in the story or analyzed for accuracy. The story completely fails to address the validity of Ms. Hill's claims. Expert selection — substituting issue advocates for “experts” in news stories without noting their bias: The study was put out by the Association of Organizations for Community Reform Now, an awkwardly-named committee that supports a host of ultra-liberal positions, including ordering utility companies to provide power for free. Airbrushing — making a non-credible source credible by cleaning up a quote or failing to disclose relevant associations. The story doesn't mention that Ms. Hill is an ACORN member, or that she has addressed City Council meetings in that capacity.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 15, 2004, 09:29 AM

Fort Bend ISD: “Not much you can do” to 6-year-old molester

By Matt Bramanti

Get ready to become very, very upset. At Palmer Elementary School in Missouri City, a six-year-old boy sexually molested his classmate. What's the punishment for this budding monster? He was moved to another class.
The incident illustrates the legal constraints facing school systems because the law does not allow those under age 10 to face criminal charges. School districts are limited legally in the disciplinary actions that can be taken against pupils. “Certainly the punishment for a 15-year-old would be different from the punishment for a 6-year-old. There is not much you can do with a 6-year-old child,” Fort Bend School district spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson said Thursday. Simpson said the punishment was proper for the boy's age but would not disclose the nature of the disciplinary action.
While I don't know the specific home life of this kid's family, I would suspect it's less than ideal. This child shouldn't just be removed from the classroom; he should be removed from the parents who raised this warped little mind. I've got a six-year-old brother, and I can't believe any small child could be that innately evil. Behavior like this is learned at home, and that's where culpability belongs.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 15, 2004, 07:33 AM

Kerry wrong on homosexuality

By Owen Courrèges

Since Wednesday's presidential debate, many pundits have focused on Kerry's comments addressing the homosexuality of Vice President Cheney's daughter. However, none of the pundits, as far as I have seen, have noted that his comment put forth a viewpoint that, albeit popular, is factually incorrect:
“And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.”
You see, homosexuality isn't genetically-determined, so gays are definitely not 'born that way.' It's a fact. We know this because we can study persons who have the same genetic code — identical twins. And for identical twins, there is a mere 31.6% concordance rate for homosexuality. So homosexuality isn't like eye or skin color, which would have a 100% concordance rate. It isn't even primarily determined by genetics. Does this mean that homosexuality doesn't have strong genetic influences? Of course not. Many human characteristics have strong genetic influences. But if a person is habitually grumpy, or exceptionally intelligent, we don't immediately assume that he was 'born that way.' We don't make the leap from genetically-influenced to genetically-determined. So why did Kerry imply that homosexuality is inborn? It's because he wanted to implicitly analogize homosexuality to gender and race, areas where society has deemed discrimination inappropriate. But his 'analogy' was based on a falsity, which should come as a surprise to nobody.

Permalink | News and Views

October 15, 2004, 06:15 AM

Early Voting Dates, Times, and Locations (Chambers County)

By Rob Booth

Look below for early voting info for Chambers County. Info via the county's web site. EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS CHAMBERS COUNTY, TEXAS MAIN BRANCH: Location: Office of the County Clerk Chambers County Courthouse 404 Washington Ave. Anahuac, Texas Dates: Monday, October 18, 2004 through Friday, October 29, 2004 Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday WINNIE BRANCH: Location: Justice of the Peace, Pct. No. 1 Courtroom East Chambers County Courthouse Annex 211 Broadway Ave. Winnie, Texas Dates: Monday, October 25, 2004 through Friday, October 29, 2004 Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday MONT BELVIEU BRANCH: Location: Justice of the Peace, Pct. No. 4 Courtroom West Chambers County Courthouse Annex 10616 Eagle Drive Mont Belvieu, Texas Dates: Monday, October 25, 2004 through Friday, October 29, 2004 Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday CEDAR BAYOU BRANCH: Location: Justice of the Peace, Pct. No. 6 Courtroom Cedar Bayou Community Building 7711 Hwy 146 Baytown, Texas Dates: Monday, October 25, 2004 through Friday, October 29, 2004 Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 15, 2004, 12:19 AM

New Swift Vets ad features Medal of Honor recipient

By Phil Magness

Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth has released two new advertisements directing scrutiny upon the Vietnam era record of John Kerry. The latest ads feature nearly a hundred Swift Boat Veterans and former POWs contesting Kerry's version of events and condemning his wartime protest activities which, they argue, prolonged the suffering of prisoners of war being held at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” The latest ad notably features a statement by Bud Day, a former POW and Medal of Honor Recipient, and shows dozens of other highly decorated veterans including many with service careers far more distinguished than Mr. Kerry's. The Massachusetts Senator's defenders have long attempted to dismiss the Swift Boat group by accusing them of dishonesty and impugning their own records.

Permalink | News and Views

October 14, 2004, 06:48 PM

Revelations and Prophecies

By Matt Forge

Props to Phil who provided the inspiration for this piece.

Update: I guess I should have spelled all this out when the piece was initially posted. This is a spoof of the last scene in the move Dr. Strangelove (you should rent it). Kerry keeps saying, “I have a plan.” The man in the wheelchair to the right is Dr. Strangelove, a crazed German scientist. The quote is verbatim from the movie - He said he had a plan, Kerry keeps saying he has a plan. When he says, “Mein Fuehrer!” it's an exclamation/explicative from a crazed German. This is in no way comparing anyone to Hitler - it was just a verbalized expression from the fictional character. Edwards said people like Reeve are going to walk again if he and Kerry are elected. That's the tie-in to the crippled scientist standing up and realizing he can walk. I placed Reeve into the scene to challenge thoughtful viewers to maybe ponder a couple of questions: Would Kerry or Edwards have said that if Reeve were right next to them at the time? If so, what would Reeve's reaction be? Placing Reeves image in the picture puts a face on just how disgusting the quote was. Visualizations can sometimes drive the point home where mere words and concepts fail to do so. This is why some have had such a recoiled reaction from the piece, but I urge them to think about what is really offensive in all this. Oh, and remember. We can't fight in here - this is the WAR room.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

October 14, 2004, 06:46 PM

Profound Statement of the Day

By Matt Forge

Springstein hurled these pearls before a crowd at the Vote for Change finale...
“America is not always right. But one thing America should always be is true. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.”
What the heck does that mean?

Permalink | Humor

October 14, 2004, 06:40 PM

Freeze Frame

By Matt Forge

A humorous roundup of Kerry photo-ops can be found here.

Permalink | Humor

October 14, 2004, 03:45 PM

We blog, you decide

By Rob Booth

For City of Houston Proposition 1 For City of Houston Proposition 2

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 14, 2004, 11:19 AM

Chron: Blame “deranged” docs and “greedy” insurers

By Matt Bramanti

The Chronicle's editorial board has fired the latest salvo in its campaign of class warfare. This time, the targets are hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies. The Chron's editors claim that malpractice lawsuit caps are a plot to profit off the misery of low-income patients:
Under Texas' new law, patients without high salaries to recoup are routinely turned down by lawyers regardless of their cases' merits. Often, the families of such patients are unable to cope with the death or destruction wrought by bad medicine. Stay-at-home mothers, frail or debilitated elderly, and low-income breadwinners are among the most likely to search vainly for legal redress: Following tort reform, their poverty makes them defenseless against injustice. There are more surgical ways to protect doctors from frivolous lawsuits and astronomic insurance rates. Among them: qualified panels to vet malpractice cases' merits, and reform of the insurance industry's most greedy habits. A review of the records of the State Board of Medical Examiners indicates that the problem is not so much high jury awards but the high number of drugged, deranged, impaired and incompetent physicians.
At some point in this tort-reform debate, doctors will just be fed up, and the old maxim will be realized: you can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 14, 2004, 09:28 AM

The polls don't match up

By Owen Courrèges

Dan was correct to be suspicious of the Gallup snap poll showing Bush losing the last debate to Kerry by 13 points. The ABC News poll is reporting a virtual tie, with Bush at 41% and Kerry at 42%. This is well outside Gallup's margin-of-error, so one of these polls must be misleading. Judging by Dan's reaction, I'd say that it's probably the Gallup poll that's faulty. If you believe Gallup, Bush's performance was far worst than in the first debate (losing on five out of six characteristics), and I haven't seen the pundits saying that. Color me suspicious.

Permalink | News and Views

October 14, 2004, 06:32 AM

One angry mother

By Rob Booth

Foxnews.com: Lynne Cheney Outraged by Remarks
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — Lynne Cheney accused Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of pulling a “cheap and tawdry political trick,” apparently for invoking her daughter's sexuality in his debate with President Bush.
Further down in the article they note that Sen. Edwards brought up Ms. Cheney's sexual orientation as well in the VP debate. One word describes the Democrat team's tactics here — classless.

Permalink | News and Views

October 14, 2004, 06:30 AM

CNN's debate poll results are just crazy

By Dan Patrick

I watched last night's debate with a non-biased eye, as I did the other debates. I said that Kerry won the first debate and that the second debate between Kerry and Bush was at least a draw, even though I thought Bush actually had a slight edge. Last night I believe the President won the debate by a wide margin. However, the immediate polling that CNN reported after the debate had Kerry winning the debate 52%-39%. What were these people watching? Even if Kerry won the debate, it was only by a very small margin, not 13 points. These numbers reflect about the same numbers as the first debate. The President was clearly much better than the first debate and Kerry was not as sharp as he was in either of the first two debates. The polling makes no sense. Over the next few days we will see more poll results and I expect those numbers to be different. Bill Kristol appearing on Fox, said he thought the President won on all 20 questions and easily won the debate. My opponent on channel 2 last night admitted to me off air that he thought the debate was a draw at best for Kerry. This election gives America a clear choice. Kerry is more liberal than any other President of the last 50 years. He is out of touch with mainstream America as the President charged last night. However, this election will come likely come down to 2 or 3 states with Ohio being the key state. Whoever wins Ohio will likely win the election. One recent poll has Kerry up in Ohio and another has the President ahead. However, with polling samples like CNN reported last night, one has to question the methodology and accuracy of some fo these polls; 52%-39% last night for Kerry, no way.

Permalink | News and Views

October 14, 2004, 06:21 AM

Go ahead Mr. President, we don't mind....

By Rob Booth

KERRY: Well, two leading national news networks have both said the president's characterization of my health-care plan is incorrect. One called it fiction. The other called it untrue. [snip] SCHIEFFER: Mr. President? BUSH: In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about — oh, never mind. Anyway, let me quote the Lewin report. The Lewin report is a group of folks who are not politically affiliated. They analyzed the senator's plan. It cost $1.2 trillion.
Mr. President, maybe I'm a right-wing yahoo and not the most objective source on this, but you could have ripped into CBS, et al. I would have liked that.

Permalink | Media Watch

October 14, 2004, 06:13 AM

CLOUT Update - Thursday, October 14, 2004

By Rob Booth

CLOUT Members: In preparation for the upcoming 79th Texas Legislature Session, CLOUT has been very busy for the last two weeks as we have begun a process of getting our Texas Representatives and Senators on record to support meaningful property tax reform including lowering the property tax appraisal cap rate. We began this by making 5 lists of our elected officials and presenting them with the CLOUT pledge.
Click here for the whole thing.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 13, 2004, 10:12 PM

He's Back!!!

By Phil Magness

The Chronicle's favorite fake Republican turned sounding board pundit has returned to give his take on debate #3! Thursday's edition contains another debate analysis from J.C. Lanau, an individual presented twice previously by the Chron as a “Republican” who was disappointed and angry at his own party. In reality, as CB first reported, Mr. Lanau is formally affiliated with the Democratic Party under Texas law, having voted in the last two Democrat primaries. It appears that the Chronicle finally wised up this time as they neglected to quote Lanau's erroniously purported GOP affiliation, which appeared after the last two debates. Simply concealing the falsehood that they printed twice previously though does not excuse its blatantly deceptive nature.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 07:39 PM

The Secrets of John Kerry's Service Record

By Phil Magness

Both the New York Sun and the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web section are reporting on a new mystery surrounding John Kerry's military service record. It appears than the process by which Kerry was discharged from the Navy Reserves was less than ordinary, though the exact nature of the discharge remains sealed in Kerry's military records. Contrary to the Democrat candidate's public claims, Mr. Kerry has not released the full volume of his military records for public scrutiny. Reports the Sun:
An official Navy document on Senator Kerry's campaign Web site listed as Mr. Kerry's “Honorable Discharge from the Reserves” opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service... ... It describes Mr. Kerry's discharge as being subsequent to the review of “a board of officers.” This in it self is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers. According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the “authority of reference” this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was “Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. ”This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry's status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.
In addition to this mysterious discrepancy, the discharge document is dated in 1978 - 6 years after Kerry's original term of service, 1966-72, expired. Unlike President Bush, Kerry has yet to sign a Standard Form 180 releasing all of his military documents. The Sun observes and the Washington Post recently reported that some 100 or more pages of Kerry's military records have not been released.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 05:59 PM

Jewish Dems stereotype selves, depict VP as robot

By Matt Bramanti

It's getting weirder all the time. The National Jewish Democratic Council has created an Internet cartoon slamming Republicans. The ad features a caricature of a nagging Jewish mother haranguing Bush Administration officials in what appears to be a secret meeting chamber. Everyone is listening to a spooky, hooded figure, revealed to be Karl Rove. The podium has a cross on it, implying some sort of political struggle between Christians and Jews. Oh, but that's not all. The cartoon also features the decapitation of the vice president, who is shown to be a cyborg. I told you, this is just plain strange. I urge the readers of Chronically Biased to take a shot of Pepto-Bismol before looking at this monstrosity.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 03:31 PM

Schieffer: objective or opinionated?

By M. Wildes

The Media Research Center has done another report using quotes of the Presidential Debate moderators to determine their objectivity. Up for review this time is tonight’s moderator, Bob Schieffer. Here is an example of his analysis, with Dan Rather, after Friday’s debate:
“I thought the President did a little better tonight than he did in the first debate, but John Kerry is a very good debater, Dan….I think that John Kerry is very comfortable in this kind of a setting. He’s a very good debater.”—Bob Schieffer right after the town hall debate, October 8.
I did not graduate from the CBS school of journalism and ethics, but should the moderator of the next debate, between the same two candidates, (or any journalist for that matter) be giving his thoughts and opinions on the candidates’ performance in the previous debate?

Permalink | Media Watch

October 13, 2004, 02:48 PM

Add infanticide to Saddam's rap sheet

By Matt Bramanti

Archaeologist Michael Trimble and attorney Greg Kehoe look into a mass grave under excavation in Iraq. (Reuters) Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq ruthlessly tortured and killed political dissidents, wayward military officers, and even soccer players who left their “A” game at home. We all knew that. But the brutality extended to women, children and infants, as well:
“It is my personal opinion that this is a killing field,” Greg Kehoe, a U.S. investigator working with the Iraqi Special Tribunal, told reporters in Hatra, south of the city of Mosul. Nine trenches have been located containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds executed and then bulldozed into trenches during Saddam Hussein's repression of 1987-88. (snip) The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face, the BBC reported.
Opponents of the war claim that Iraqis were safer under Saddam's murderous regime than they are now. I wonder what the surviving family members of these murdered Kurdish innocents would say.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 12:10 PM

Chechen terrorists entered US through Mexico, report suggests

By Owen Courrèges

If correct, this report is profoundly disturbing:
U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen terrorists illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.

The Chechen group is suspected of having links to Islamist terrorists seeking to separate the southern enclave of Chechnya from Russia, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports.
Chechen terrorists, of course, are heartless monsters willing to attack schoolchildren to get their point across. They are among the worst of the worst. I'd hate to think that they've become Russia's newest export to the United States. In any case, this is yet another reason why we need to do a better job of securing our southern border. We obviously cannot depend on Mexico.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 07:50 AM

A major tax savings for all Texans

By Dan Patrick

It isn't often that elected officials actually pass legislation that puts big bucks in your pocket. This week the House and Senate passed a bill that included major tax relief for you and every Texan. Since Texans do not pay a state income tax, along with several other states, they have been at a tax disadvantage compared to other states that have a state income tax. In those states, citizens are allowed to deduct their state income tax from their federal tax return. Congressman Kevin Brady led the way in the House with the strong support of Tom Delay. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson led the way in the Senate. All of these Texas representatives have tried in vain for years to get this bill passed. This year they got it done. How much you save depends in part on how much you make and what you buy. Today, only 1 in 4 Texans itemize their return. Now almost everyone will want to itemize to take advantage of this deduction. You will not have to keep your sales slips, except for major items. There will be a table that shows how much you can deduct based on your income. However, if you purchase a big item like a car, boat, furniture or other major item, you can add that to your standard deduction. A person or a family with an income of $50,000 could save as much as $900. The deduction is retro-active to this past January meaning you will be able to make this deduction when you file in 2005 for 2004. There is another side benefit of this new deduction. I have been pushing for a reduction in your property taxes and the appraisal cap for several years. One option that has been considered in Austin is to lower your property tax bill by expanding and increasing the sales tax you pay. An argument against that plan was that since Texans could not deduct the sales tax they pay on their federal return, sales tax should not expand or increase. This new deduction will give Austin more options in which to consider as ways to reform school financing and property tax relief. This was a big deal and yet many in Texas aren't aware of the major bucks that will stay in their pockets and in Texas. It is estimated that over a billion dollars will now stay in Texas instead of going to Washington. Those dollars will help create 16,000 new jobs as people spend that money in our local state economy.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 07:37 AM

Poll update: Race tied or Bush winning

By Owen Courrèges

If you'll check Pollingreport.com, you'll see that all the polls taken the day before yesterday, October 11th, show that Bush is either tied with or leading Senator John Kerry in the presidential race. The CBS News poll, which came closest to the actual result in the 2000 election, shows Bush leading by three points. So take heart, fellow conservatives. It's less than a month before the election, and our boy is apparently ahead.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 06:52 AM

Senate passes bill allowing sales tax deduction without Kerry’s help

By M. Wildes

On Tuesday, the Senate passed Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS) Act, which among other things, allows Texans and citizens of other states without state income tax, to deduct sales tax for both the 2004 and 2005 tax years. Senators John Kerry and John Edwards finished their pitiful attendance record during the 108th Congress, 2nd Session, by not showing to vote for the bill that will certainly benefit the middle class. Even the Chronicle’s skeptic shows that people making between $75,000.00 and $200,000.00 (the fictional Kerry/Edwards middle class cut-off amount) will benefit from the new law:
“Most Texas families gain nothing from this change,” said Dick Lavine, a senior fiscal analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. Federal tax data indicate that of the 9.2 million returns filed by Texans in 2001, the most recent available, less than 2.1 million itemized deductions, and most of those are in the income brackets over $75,000 a year. Among Texans with incomes under $30,000 — or about half the state's tax filers — about 5 percent itemize their deductions.
It appears that plenty of people making below $75,000.00 a year and even $30,000.00 per year will benefit as well. The bill now moves to President Bush’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law. Let’s just hope Kerry gets another chance to vote on the sales tax deduction when it is up for renewal in late 2005.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 13, 2004, 06:42 AM

Freudian?

By Rob Booth

Congratulations to blogHOUSTON and the many people who e-mailed for catching the Houston Chronicle getting Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai's name quite wrong. They've “corrected” it. Hmmph.
An editorial on Page B8 of Tuesday's City & State section incorrectly identified Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

October 13, 2004, 06:15 AM

CNN electoral map has Bush at 301

By Dan Patrick

I have predicted since the summer that the President will win the election with somewhere near 300 electoral votes. With less than 3 weeks to go before the election, CNN has the President ahead by a large margin on their electoral map. Their map, based on state by state polling, has the President winning the following swing states: Ohio, Florida, Maine, New Hamshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They admit that several of these states are still close and could swing either way. I agree. I have tried to become a student of the electoral map and have explained on KSEV that the President will be tough to beat on election day based on the math of the map. While I don't totally agree with CNN on each state they have colored red for the President at this point, I think their map is close to what the final results will show. I'm not sure if the President will win New Mexico, (he lost that state by only 366 votes to Gore) Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Maine. The key states are obviously Ohio and Florida. If the President wins those two states and Kerry does not pull off an upset in another red state, Bush wins. The republican insiders that I talk to on a daily basis are concerned that Kerry is closing the gap in Ohio and that many republicans have literally been displaced in Florida's panhandle by the hurricanes. At the same time Bush could pick off a blue state in an upset. Few people thought Bush would win Gore's home state of Tennessee or the normally democratic leaning West Virginia on 2000 With 20 days left until the election, tonights debate is very important. The President must once again perform as he did last week. It is his election to lose at this point, despite what the media is saying about Kerry's comback. However, the President cannot fall flat tonight as he did in the first debate. There are two other signs that show the Kerry campaign is in trouble. First, they have pulled advertising in several states including Missouri. Once you quit spending money in a state you are admitting you have lost it. Secondly, if you watch the Kerry-Edwards campaign on a daily basis, you see that they have a different message each day; that strategy is that of a team behind. Yesterday, for example, Edwards said that if he and Kerry are elected they will find cures for diseases. That was a weird statement. It shows they are desparate and trying to make anything stick at this point. I realize many of you will skip the debate tonight, or only listen with one ear, as you watch the Astro game. I will be on channel 2 again today at 4 and then after the debate at 10 to tell you what you missed and of course on the radio with Edd, Laura and Bill to talk about the debate tomorrow.

Permalink | News and Views

October 13, 2004, 02:25 AM

Crawford paper's readership nosedives after Bush smear piece

By Phil Magness

Today's Chronicle has an interesting article about the Lone Star Iconoclast, a tiny weekly publication in Crawford - the home town of President Bush. Earlier this month the Iconoclast printed a shrill endorsement of John Kerry that reads more like a Michael Moore speech than an intellectual case for a given candidate. They accused the president of pushing a “hidden agenda” of cuts and “slash[es]” to government programs after his election. Halliburton conspiracies, economically misinformed tirades about job losses, and a litany of demagogic arguments of the 'Republicans want to starve grandma and strip mine the rainforest' style typify the piece. The editorial unequivocally assaults Bush's handling of the war on terror by stating “He let us down.” They even went so far as to attack Bush's leadership in the hours and days after the attack despite the fact that it was almost universally praised at the time:
When he [Bush] finally emerged from his hide-outs on remote military bases well after the first crucial hours following the attack, he gave sound-bytes instead of solutions.
Needless to say, the good people of Crawford did not react kindly to their hometown paper's far left wing tirade against the President. All three stores in the tiny town of Crawford stopped selling the Iconoclast and almost half of the paper's subscribers cancelled, dropping its circulation from 920 to 482. Advertisers have subsequently stopped their purchases in the paper and hundreds of readers flooded the editorial page's mailbox with complaints. The Iconoclast's publicity stunt for the radical left decimated their circulation virtually overnight because readers became fed up with the garbage it was feeding them. In short, the residents of Crawford resoundingly “voted with their pocketbooks” and decided to take their business to other news outlets. Finding themselves without a sustainable business model, the paper's editor has now taken to blaming the readers for his self-inflicted wounds:
The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community.
In reality, the readers evidently decided that enough was enough and exercised the latter of the two options of expressing an opinion that all consumers have: voice and exit. When voice is no longer effective as the Inconclast's unusually vitriolic and factually challenged editorial indicated, people exhibit their disapproval by exit, and it is their indisputable right to do so. The second Iconoclast editorial also claims that a number of unspecified threats have been made against the paper. If true, actions of this sort would fall far outside the responsible exercise of either voice or exit. That said, the paper remains laughably clueless as to the nature of their self-imposed business woes. Interchangably referencing the perfectly reasonable decision of over 400 people to cancel their subscriptions along side the comparatively isolated alleged threats, the paper angrily retorts that “to herald one of the options should be no cause for persecution” and likens their editorial to displaying a candidate's yard sign. They seem to be mistaken as to the nature of the first amendment. The Constitution protects their right to speak, but it does not guarantee them an audience - especially not when that audience is expected to endure an irresponsible and bilious rant full of left wing talking points, half truths, and innuendos against a sitting president. Other newspapers, the Chronicle included, should take due note of the lessons exhibited by reader exit in the case of the Iconoclast. As thousands of former subscribers are showing around the nation every day, there is only so much of a left wing editorial tilt that readers will endure. When that tilt becomes ubiquitous in the newsprint or on the airwaves and exhibits itself in over-the-top editorial diatribes, consumers of news will switch to another source. They will switch away from CBS, they will switch from ABC, they will switch from the Lone Star Iconoclast, they will switch from the New York Times, and they will switch from the Houston Chronicle. When the quality of a given good declines people seek out a substitute - it's Economics 101 at play.

Permalink | News and Views

October 12, 2004, 06:09 PM

Edwards pledges Parkinson's cure, leaves flu victims sniffling

By Matt Bramanti

During a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa, Sen. John Edwards made a number of campaign promises, mostly dealing with economic issues. But one key portion of the speech dealt with the American health care system. Apparently the Democratic Party has given up on making the system better, so they want to make it completely unnecessary:
Edwards took time to honor a recently-deceased actor while outlining one health care goal. “We will do stem cell research,” he vowed. “We will stop juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases. America just lost a great champion for this cause in Christopher Reeve. People like Chris Reeve will get out of their wheelchairs and walk again with stem cell research.”
Unfortunately, Edwards' medical expertise doesn't extend to treatable diseases like the common cold. You see, the senator wants tight federal control of Sudafed:
Edwards said he and presidential nominee John Kerry would propose legislation to limit consumers to two standard packages per day of cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used in Sudafed and other drugs. Bulk sales of cold medicines would be more closely monitored to track suspicious sales.
Fortunately for meth-heads, they can still steal all the Sudafed they want.

Permalink | News and Views

October 12, 2004, 10:11 AM

Today Show Gets Punk'd

By Matt Forge

This is not new, but I thought it was a hoot when I first saw the video.

Permalink | Humor

October 12, 2004, 07:34 AM

Martin Frost is a dirty, lowdown scumbag

By Owen Courrèges

There's gutter politics, and then there's politics that seek to crawl underneath the gutter, plowing the depths of the sewers too seek a new low of rhetorical debasement. Rep. Martin Frost (D-Dallas), who is currently fighting to keep his seat against Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas), has clearly been practicing the latter variety:
The gloves have come off in the match between U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions and Martin Frost. And every other article of clothing appears to be fair game as well. Democrats today circulated old newspaper clippings of a 1974 college streaking stunt staged by hundreds of students at Southwest Texas State University, including an 18-year-old Pete Sessions. [...] Sessions' campaign isn't denying the congressman's public nudeness. “Congressman Sessions' old school days are long gone,” said Sessions' spokesman Chris Homan. “He recognizes it as an immature action of an 18-year-old college freshman.” But Frost's campaign is holding Sessions' bare bod to the fire. “Pete Sessions exposed himself to children and strangers,” said Frost spokesman Justin Kitsch. “He's exposed himself as a hypocrite as well.”
Geez... How wretched does a campaign have to be in order to appeal to an incident that happened more than thirty years ago when Sessions was in college? And we aren't talking about Sessions walking around in a trench coat and flashing himself on playgrounds, despite what Frost's people imply. For Pete's sake, it was a college streaking — the immature act of a college freshman. Sessions won't be registering under 'Megan's Law' anytime soon. Frankly, though, I'm not shocked that this garbage is coming from the Frost campaign. They're desperate, and it's becoming downright pathetic.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 12, 2004, 06:00 AM

Biggio and Bagwell--a night to celebrate-a night to cry

By Dan Patrick

I think I was the only person in the media, or maybe in the country, that confidently predicted the Astros would make the playoffs and get to the World Series. I realize they have to beat the Cards, but no matter what the experts say, beating the Cards is just formality. Last night, in a bitter night of irony, the two veteran cornerstones of the Astros, Bagwell and Biggio, finally did something they have wanted to do for a long time, win a playoff series. Both were major keys to the win last night as Biggio had one of the biggest two out, two strike hits of his career that started a 5 run rally that put the game out of reach. Bagwell homered a few batters later. It was over. The final score was Houston 12 - Atlanta 3. However, on a night that should have been all celebration, there was great sadness for Bagwell and Biggio, as both lost one of their closest friends, Ken Camaniti, who died of a heart attack on Sunday. Those three players were inseparable when all three played together for the Astros. Bagwell and Biggio never made excuses for their friend and his drug addiction, however, they never abandoned him either. How ironic that on the very day they learned of his death, they finally broke through and led the team to a playoff victory. Before the game both said they had a heavy heart and wanted to play for him. You see these type of story lines in movies, but this time it was real life. Bagwell and Biggio, who have both struggled in past playoffs, put the team on their shoulders and carried it to victory. I have said all along that this is a team of destiny, that also has power hitting and two great pitchers. Last night it was destiny again when with two outs and two strikes, Biggio hit a line drive to right field that fell just 1 foot in front of the right fielder; one foot higher and the inning was over. Bags would not have had a chance to hit a homerun in the inning and the outcome could have been in question. Two outs and two strikes--a ball falls one foot in front of the right fielder---their best friend dead at the age of 41--- this is a season that all Astro fans will remember forever. This isn't Hollywood, it's real life.

Permalink | News and Views

October 11, 2004, 05:00 PM

Pro-abortion advocates vandalize 'Cemetery'

By Matt Bramanti

Every year at the University of Notre Dame, the Right to Life Club sponsors the “Cemetery of the Innocents,” an installation of 1,200 small white crosses on the campus' South Quad. Each cross represents three abortions performed in the United States every day. The powerful display, which commemorates Respect Life Week, really drives home the destructive power of pro-abortion policies in this country. Notre Dame's student newspaper, The Observer, reports that this year's demonstration was vandalized by unknown thugs, who knocked down most of the crosses, damaging hundreds:
Of the 1,200 crosses included in the demonstration - one for every three abortions that takes place in the United States each day - about 900 were knocked down, said Caitlin Shaughnessy, a Respect Life Week co-commissioner. “Three hundred of those were broken, and 100 were completely destroyed,” Shaughnessy said. All of the crosses were re-assembled by Right to Life members by 3 p.m. Friday, Daufenbach said. While the damage done to the display was extensive, Shaughnessy said this has not been the first time it has been vandalized.
And this was at a Catholic university. I urge all our readers to pray for an end to the violent and extreme worldviews that fuel the abortion movement. Also, please pray that justice is served upon the perpetrators, and that this instance may only galvanize the resolve of pro-life activists at Notre Dame and around the world.

Permalink | News and Views

October 11, 2004, 04:55 PM

From the Stan

By Rob Booth

Sgt Hook is serving in Afghanistan and provides this reasoned perspective on the recent elections there.

Permalink | News and Views

October 11, 2004, 08:33 AM

Rice practically begging students to use light rail

By Owen Courrèges

Rice University's new president, David Leebron, has an op-ed running in today's Chronicle in which he speaks of the “symbiotic relationship” between Houston and Rice, and how he plans to encourage it. Specifically, he announces the following plan:
Whether it is attending an exhibition in the Museum District that neighbors our campus, participating in a public service internship with a government or nonprofit organization, or hopping on the light rail to enjoy any number of Houston's diverse cultural and culinary offerings, Rice students must view the city as an integral part of their experience on an urban campus. To foster this, we plan to provide to all our undergraduate students next year a Metro pass, coupled with museum memberships and cultural information that together we will call a “Passport to Houston.” It will, in fact, be a passport to an important part of their education.
I don't buy it. It's no secret that Rice's former president, Malcolm Gillis, was a major supporter of light rail. It's also no secret that the Rice Design Alliance was integral in boosting the choice of Main Street for Metro's 'starter line.' Sadly, my alma mater has been clamoring for light rail from day one. It doesn't end there. My senior year, Rice instituted considerable fees for parking, even in the stadium lots. They claimed that it was to reduce the number of students bringing cars to campus, which could no longer accomodate all of them. This argument was not believable — the stadium lot is never full. Heck, it never even got even half full while I was there, and I parked in the stadium lot every day for two-and-a-half years. Given all of this, I'm having difficulty trusting Leebron when he claims that his motivations, and thus those of Rice, are more than merely to get more students riding the rail line. I mean, Rice never considered giving students Metropasses prior to the Main Street line's construction, nor did they charge for parking in the commuter lots. So what gives? I certainly hope that I'm reading the evidence incorrectly....

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

October 11, 2004, 08:16 AM

Houston has cheapest gas

By Owen Courrèges

In the midst of record crude prices that are working their way to the pump, there's one silver lining for Houstonians: Houston has the cheapest gasoline in the country:
Gasoline prices have climbed nearly 8 cents a gallon in the past two weeks because of record-high crude oil prices, and they are likely to continue rising, an industry analyst said today. From Sept. 24 through Friday, the combined national average for all grades of gas rose from $1.94 to $2.02 a gallon, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations across the country. [...] The most expensive gasoline was sold in San Diego, where self-serve regular was $2.35 a gallon. The cheapest was in Houston, where self-serve regular was $1.84.
Now we can start thumbing our collective noses at California...

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 11, 2004, 06:37 AM

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

By Rob Booth

A reader named Howard wrote in to tell us about the John Kerry signs he spent his free time putting up. He put the 4X8 signs up on private property and within one day, they were gone. I could commiserate with him, because the Bush-Cheney yard sign I bought for my parents was stolen on Friday night. (For any Democrat lurkers on this site, as Texas is not a battleground state, we have to buy our signs with our own cash. The BC04 campaign isn't even making a pretense at giving us signs.) I've spent some time on campaigns, pushing in yard signs and putting up the big 4X8s. It's not hard work, like digging ditches, but it does take up time. When you put up a sign, it makes you quite angry when someone steals it. Fellow Republicans have done it to my candidate in primaries, Democrats have done it as well. I know the odds of these sign vandals reading this post are slim. As we get closer to the campaign, however, I'd like to make a request. Please don't mess with anyone's signs. Thanks.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 11, 2004, 06:10 AM

Former Astro dies suddenly

By Dan Patrick

On a day when the Astros will play the biggest game in franchise history, they play with the knowledge that a friend and former Astro has died suddenly of a heart attack. Ken Caminiti, National League M.V.P. in 1996, three time All Star and popular Houston Astro, died late Sunday in New York. He also played for the Atlanta Braves, today's Astro opponent, as well as San Diego and Texas during his career. Caminiti's story was one of the more tragic in baseball. He was a great player who could not beat back his addiction to drink and do drugs. He admitted to using performance enhancing steroids in his M.V.P. year, in 1996. He hit 40 homeruns that year. Although no one is linking his steroid use to his heart attack, at least not yet, his sudden death will once again put the issue of steroids front and center in sports. Other players, who have admitted using performance enhancing steroids, have also died at an early age. Currently major league baseball is investigating a major steroid scandal that has included the names of current players including Barry Bonds. The players' unions in all sports and the leagues themselves have been slow to focus on the steroid issue. There are rules in place in college and pro sports, however, it is believed that with so much money on the line for players and owners, some are looking the other way when it comes to the steroid issue. Ken Caminiti must ultimately be held responsible for his own actions. However, until those in control of sports on all levels crack down hard on the steroid issue, players will use them and some will die before their time.

Permalink | News and Views

October 11, 2004, 06:05 AM

Have we seen the last of Roger Clemens ?

By Dan Patrick

As you know from reading my posts in the past, I predicted the Astros would win the World Series this year. I based my decision on great baseball and destiny. I actually thought I saw destiny take center stage yesterday, when a Biggio foul ball was caught after hitting the roof. It is rare when a ball hits the roof at “ex-Enron” field. The Braves thought they were out of the inning. However, the ground rules state that if a ball hits the roof, it is a dead ball. (Most other fields allow a ball to be caught if it hits the roof-declaring it dead only if it is not caught) A few pitches later Biggio hit a homerun; destiny I thought. Despite the Astros loss yesterday, remember I said you need destiny and great baseball, I am still confident the Astros will win today. It will just be more exciting! However, in the event the Astros fail to play great baseball, destiny can only take them so far. Was yesterday's game the last time Roger Clemens will ever pitch? I was amazed that no one on the broadcast mentioned that if Atlanta came back to win and then went on to win game 5, that we may have seen the last of the great Roger Clemens. I am convinced that if the Astros win the World Series this year Roger will retire. He will have nothing left to prove. He will retire on the ultimate high note-winning a championship for his home town team. If the Astros get to the World Series and lose, he may well come back to finish the job next year. However, if the Astros lose today, we may have seen the last of Roger. Roger doesn't need the money, although everyone can use an extra 5 million for a year's work. He surely has a lot of talent left. However, the reason he retired this year was due to two factors. Roger wanted to be with his family and he was tired of the grueling workouts he must go through 4-5 hours a day, 10 months a year, to stay in shape in his advancing years. Will Roger ever pitch again? A lot will depend on the outcome of today's game.

Permalink | News and Views

October 11, 2004, 05:55 AM

Superman dead

By Dan Patrick

Christopher Reeve, who was best known for his role as Superman, died last night in New York, when he fell into a coma. He had been wheelchair bound since falling from a horse in 1995. He was 52. Kerry mentioned his name just last week in the debate in the discussion of stem cell research. I remember his accident well. A few weeks earlier I had also fallen from my horse. At the time, I thought I had suffered major injuries. I broke my wrist and my arm. My elbow shattered into 17 pieces. I still have a metal elbow today. However, weeks later, when I saw Reeve fall and learned of his injuries, I realized how lucky I was and how minor my injuries really were. Reeve seemed like a quality person who loved his family. The question I had at the time was why him and not me. Many of us have had the question at times in our lives. At some point most of us come to realize that at any given moment our lives can change forever. Why is it that one person is severly injured or killed in an accident while another walks away unscathed? Why does one Marine come home alive from Iraq and his buddy does not. These are questions man has asked since time began. We ask the question, “why me Lord,” whether we are on the hurting end or the favored end of a situation. In my book, “The Second Most Important Book You Will Ever Read,” I devoted a chapter to try to answer the question, why do bad things happen to good people. One thing I know is that God does not want any of us to suffer. At the same time, people have free will. Reeve, as well as myself, made the decision to get on our horse the day we fell. Accidents happen. Some believe, as do I, that God knows how much any one person can handle. He says he will never give us more than we can handle. I also believe, as have other scholars on the subject of pain and suffering, that if you are selected as a special person in God's eyes, you may be called upon to suffer more than others. The Bible is filled with stories of those who suffered, only later to serve God in an important way. Jacob suffered the loss of his son Joseph for almost 40 years. Eventually, the family was re-united and Joseph became a great man in Egypt. His role led to Moses, the 10 Commandments and Jesus. I know that I personally look at every day as a gift from God. I can't explain all that happens on this earth. We are not expected to know all of the answers. I sign all of my books with the following scripture, Prov. 3:5-6. It simply says that we should not lean on our own understanding, but in all ways trust God. With all of the calamity that is happening in the world it is good to remember this passage. I can't explain why Reeve suffered and died at such an early age. I only know that today I hope to be given another gift of life and make it the best day I can.

Permalink | News and Views

October 10, 2004, 08:05 AM

October in the Republican Districts

By Rob Booth

You can tell that an election is coming. The weather is turning cooler, people start calling you on the phone asking for whom you will vote, political ads dominate the TV and radio, and these strange signs start sprouting up next to curbs all over the county. The media's thoughts turn to “How can we attack Republicans even more than usual and get away with it?” Case One: DeLay! Ethics! Hammer! Corruption! Let's pick a story on Congressman DeLay at random from the Chronicle and see how they're doing: Democrats call for DeLay's resignation
WASHINGTON - Tom DeLay should quit his congressional leadership job after another rebuke from a House ethics panel, top Democrats said Thursday. And while Republicans rallied around DeLay, Democrats accused their longtime antagonist of creating an “ethical cloud” over the Capitol. “Mr. DeLay has proven himself ethically unfit to lead the Republican Party,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California. She accused the Republicans' No. 2 man in the House of “a pattern of unethical behavior by a man determined to win at any cost.” It was the strongest rhetorical assault yet by Democrats against DeLay, whose aggressive style has earned him the nickname “The Hammer,” used with admiration by supporters and with disdain by those he has bruised in political battles.
The article, in the context of what we see in the major media, is okay, but if you were to read the actual documents from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, you would get a different impression. House.gov: Recommendations for disposition of the complaint filed against Representative DeLay I'll sum this up after this whole quote.
1. Count I of the complaint alleges that Representative DeLay violated both criminal law and House Rules by soliciting and receiving campaign contributions from Westar Energy, Inc. “in return for legislative assistance on the energy bill” in 2002, and that his actions constituted the dispensing of impermissible special favors. In particular, the complaint references a $25,000 contribution that Westar made in May 2002 to the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (“TRMPAC”), a PAC with which Representative DeLay was affiliated. The information we obtained indicates that (1) neither Representative DeLay nor anyone acting on his behalf improperly solicited contributions from Westar, and (2) Representative DeLay took no action with regard to Westar that would constitute an impermissible special favor. However, we also obtained information indicating that Representative DeLay’s participation in and facilitation of an energy company fundraiser in June 2002 is objectionable in that his actions, at a minimum, created the appearance that donors were being provided with special access to Representative DeLay regarding the then-pending energy legislation. Accordingly, our recommendation is that this count be disposed of by means of a letter of admonition to Representative DeLay that states that while, on the basis of the information before the Committee, a formal investigation of the violations alleged in Count I is not warranted, his actions with regard to the June 2002 energy company fundraiser raise an appearance of impropriety under House standards of conduct. 2. Count II alleges that Representative DeLay used TRMPAC, the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, to “funnel” corporate funds to Texas state campaigns in 2002 in violation of provisions of the Texas election code. Our recommendation is that action on this count be deferred under Committee Rule 15(f) pending further action both in the cases that were initiated by the recent TRMPAC-related indictments in state court in Texas and in the District Attorney’s continuing investigation TRMPAC’s activities in 2002. 3. Count III alleges that the contacts of Representative DeLay’s staff with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Justice Department in May 2003 regarding absent Texas state legislators constituted an effort to use federal resources in a political issue and hence were improper under Committee guidance on contacts with federal agencies. Our recommendation is that this count be dismissed insofar as it concerns the contacts with the Justice Department, and that insofar as it concerns the contacts with the FAA, it should be disposed of by means of a letter of admonition to Representative DeLay that sets out the serious concerns that those contacts raise under House standards of conduct that preclude using governmental resources for a political undertaking.
Count 1 - dismissed. They decided to issue a letter of admonition for a fundraiser that he participated in. They didn't charge that he did anything specifically wrong, but that it gave the appearance of impropriety. Count 2 - deferred as there is a grand jury investigating this. Count 3 - dismissed. They decided to issue a letter of admonition for using government resources for a political undertaking. Here's a quote from the Chronicle story describing the disposition of this case:
The House ethics panel — composed of five Republicans and five Democrats — voted unanimously late Wednesday to admonish DeLay, citing two instances.
Another way to put it would be: The House Ethics committee dismissed two of the three charges and deferred the third. They decided to issue letters of admonishment, a lesser punishment, but they ruled the charges did not warrant further investigtion. The only place you'll find the word “dismissed” in the Chronicle article is in this quote:
House GOP members filed a request Thursday for an inquiry into Bell's behavior to determine whether he'd violated House rules or ethical standards in bringing the complaint, something Bell dismissed as a “shoot the messenger” strategy.
Well, in the same memorandum about Congressman DeLay, the Committee said this:
Two additional matters are addressed in this memorandum. First, Representative DeLay’s submissions raised three major objections to the complaint and Representative Bell’s conduct in this matter. For the reasons set out below, our conclusion is that two of those objections – that the complaint was not properly filed under Committee Rule 14(a), and that Representative Bell’s acceptance of assistance in drafting of the complaint violated House Rule 24 – are not valid. Representative DeLay’s other major objection – which is that the complaint includes innuendo, speculative assertions and conclusory statements in violation of Committee Rule 15(a)(4) – is a matter that should be taken up separately by the Committee, and we intend to bring it before the Committee in the near future. In addition, in the last section of this memorandum, we address the requests made by various entities that the Committee employ outside counsel in its consideration of the complaint.
So, Representative Bell is now under investigation by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, the same as Representative DeLay. You may want to note three interesting dates in the Ethics Committe memo. Count 1 concerns activity that took place in May/June 2002. Count 2 concerns activity that took place in 2002. Count 3 concerns activity that took place in May, 2003. Representative Bell did not bring his complaint until June, 2004. Were these charges politically motivated and timed? Also, buried in all this flurry of “DeLay is corrupt” stories, you may have missed this:
Sales tax deduction closer to becoming law Bill moves ahead with the break for Texans intact By JOHN C. HENRY Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau WASHINGTON - A major rewrite of corporate tax law moved closer to passage late Wednesday, setting up the possibility that Texans will once again be allowed to deduct state and local sales tax payments from their federal income taxes. If cleared by lawmakers, officials estimate that Texas families that itemize deductions on their federal tax returns could save an average of $310 a year. [snip] “This is a huge economic boost for Texas,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, who worked with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to secure the federal tax break for Texans.
So Rep. DeLay helped push through a measure that will lower the taxes of everyone in Texas who itemizes on their income tax returns. You might have missed that. Case Two: A Lattice of Coincidence There have been two interesting stories that appeared in two different media outlets in Houston this week: Houston Chronicle: Ex-judge criticized by victims' group
Ted Poe failed to follow through on his sentencings, members charge By KRISTEN MACK Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Texans for True Sentencing claims that former judge and congressional candidate Ted Poe failed to follow through on creative sentencing he employed on the bench. Poe, a Republican who stepped down last year after 22 years on the bench, was a headline-grabbing jurist who gained national attention for his sentencing. He once sentenced a man to clean the Houston Police Department's stables for stealing two antique pistols. Texans for True Sentencing members Barbara Davis and Carolyn Hardin said they think Poe let convicted killers off the hook without fulfilling the terms of their probation.
Houston Press: After Oprah
The audience of The Oprah Winfrey Show was incredulous. Barbara Davis was telling them about the judge who had just let her husband's killer out of jail — and she was defending him. Winfrey explained the background: Michael Hubacek Jr., 18, had slammed into the Davis family's minivan on the eve of Thanksgiving, 1996. The crash virtually bisected the van, killing Davis's husband and their nanny. It almost killed Davis, too, who was catapulted across four lanes of traffic. [snip] Hubacek pleaded no contest to intoxicated manslaughter the following May and was sentenced to ten years in prison. But after six months in jail, state District Judge Ted Poe granted Hubacek shock probation. Even then, Poe was famous for his shame-based “creative sentences.” He claimed they helped to rehabilitate offenders — and they didn't hurt Poe in getting media coverage, either. The punishments made for great TV: A teenager who stole a Nintendo game was forced to ring bells for the Salvation Army. The guy who stole pistols from actor Clayton Moore, famous as TV's Lone Ranger, spent 600 hours cleaning the Houston Police Department stables.
Figure the odds. Two different media outlets print very similar stories about a Congressional candidate less than a month before the election. Do you think the reporters for the Chronicle and the Press just happened to both go out and search for people who had an experience with Judge Poe's tenure on the bench? And they found the same person? So, it's either that remarkable set of coincidences or that these ladies are shopping the story around Houston. They might have a legitimate gripe, but it looks funny that these stories are coming out right before the election.

Permalink | Media Watch

October 09, 2004, 08:44 PM

Bremer: For the task before us now, we have enough troops in Iraq

By M. Wildes

An entire week of gloating by the mainstream media and the left has come crashing down. It must have been like manna from heaven last week, when reporters heard Paul Bremer and Donald Rumsfeld seemingly making harmful comments about our efforts in Iraq. For a week the two quotes were used as headlines, stories, editorials and campaign rhetoric. The press could hardly contain its delight that Bremer had admitted that we did not have enough troops in Iraq. Earlier this week I explained the manipulation and contortions used by the media to take Rumsfeld’s comments out of context. Now Paul Bremer has written a piece that has appeared in a handful of publications world wide, explaining his accurate beliefs about Iraq and our troop levels. In a responsible move, the Chronicle printed the piece (kudos for doing what you are supposed to do), but in my opinion, they had little choice as they helped spread the story earlier this week. Please read the piece in its entirety, but here are a few highlights I am sure we will not see as headlines and stories:
(snip) The military commanders believed we had enough American troops in Iraq and that having a larger American military presence would have been counterproductive because it would have alienated Iraqis. That was a reasonable point of view, and it may have been right. The truth is that we'll never know. But during the 14 months I was in Iraq, the administration, the military and I all agreed that the coalition's top priority was a broad, sustained effort to train Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own security. This effort, financed in large measure by the emergency supplemental budget approved by Congress last year, continues today. In the end, Iraq's security must depend on Iraqis. Our troops continue to work closely with Iraqis to isolate and destroy terrorist strongholds. And the United States is supporting Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in his determined effort to bring security and democracy to Iraq. Elections will be held in January and, though there will be challenges and hardships, progress is being made. For the task before us now, I believe we have enough troops in Iraq. (snip) Bush has said that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. He is right. Zarqawi's stated goal is to kill Americans, set off a sectarian war in Iraq and defeat democracy there. He is our enemy. (snip) Kerry is free to quote my comments about Iraq. But for the sake of honesty he should also point out that I have repeatedly said, including in all my speeches in recent weeks, that Bush made a correct and courageous decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam's brutality, and that the president is correct to see the war in Iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism.

Permalink | News and Views

October 09, 2004, 11:55 AM

Scientist try to predict Mt. St. Helens' eruption

By Terry Bohannon

According to a news report published today by the Seattle Times, “The top of the new bulge is now slightly higher than the lava dome built up by a series of eruptions in the mid-1980s.” This bulge leads most scientist to believe that an eruption is imminent; however, they disagree on how precisely the magma is settling under that dome. According to the Seattle Times, scientist believe that there are two likely possibilities. If the magma is “sitting just below the surface,” the “resulting eruption may be relatively placid because the magma may have already lost much of the gas that would make it more explosive.” However, “magma may still be nearly a mile underground,” they say, it's possible that the magma “could be explosive because it would still contain high levels of gas.” Whatever the outcome, the safety of those families near Mt. St. Helens and all the scientists and photographers studying the mountain is in the prayers of many Americans. Let's hope the eruption is not as explosive as the 1980 blast.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 09, 2004, 06:30 AM

America sees Kerry for the liberal he is

By Dan Patrick

Last night, I was once again asked to give my instant analysis of Bush-Kerry II, on Channel 2 News, immediately following the debate. I had given my instant review after the first debate and after the V.P. debate on 2. After the first debate, I was honest and told the audience that Kerry was the clear winner and that the race would tighten. I felt Cheney clearly out-classed Edwards in the second debate. Last night the pressure was clearly on the President. A very well known and high placed source in republican circles called me before the debate last night and told me the party insiders were very nervous. They knew if Bush fell flat again he would be in big trouble. Despite what some so-called experts said prior to the debate,that the President had to score a knock out win, I felt all the President needed to do was to either tie or slightly win the debate. A tie or slight win would re-establish his grip on the race. He did just that. The President was more focused and more energized than the first debate. This time it was Kerry who seemed to tire in the last 30 minutes. The President also performed better in this format that allowed him to inter-act with the audience and to move around. Remember the famous scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when Robert Redford is asked to shoot a coin in the dirt? He and Newman were applying for jobs as payroll guards. Redford misses and then asks if he can move. The boss says, “move, what do you want to move for?” Redford, as the Kid, says he shoots better when he moves. The President communicates better when he moves. The turning point of the debate came at about the 45 minute mark when Bush criticized Kerry for adding a trial attorney to his ticket. It was the first time in the two debates that Bush truly attacked Kerry. After that Bush attacked Kerry as a liberal, actually calling him Kennedy at one point. (easy to see how he could mix those two up isn't it) Those attacks were followed by the key moments in the debates to date. The audience, who asked some good questions, asked each candidate to talk about stem cell research and the abortion issue. Kerry dodged both questions and sounded like the liberal politician that Bush accused him of being. Bush answered clearly and from the heart. At that moment it was clear to all to see the vast difference between the two; one a striaght talking conservative and the other a slick talking liberal. Kerry lost the debate and any chance for the Presidency at that point. There are many voters who are not totally happy with the President on a number of issues. However, Kerry leaves those same voters with too much doubt. These voters may consider Kerry, but in the end they will stay with someone they believe is a straight talker and someone, who over-all, they trust. There is simply too much at stake to turn over the oval office to someone that leaves too many questions unanswered for most voters. Kerry showed his true liberal colors last night as he tried to side-step his way around several key issues. There is one more debate next week. It will focus on domestic issues. It is clear that only two debates are really needed. What else can they say that they haven't already said? Many people will skip watching the last debate. The undecided voters saw enough last night to stay with Bush. The race is over. As I have predicted since Kerry became the nominee, Bush will win with about 54% of the vote and 285-300 electoral votes.

Permalink | News and Views

October 09, 2004, 06:12 AM

My view: Bush did better

By Owen Courrèges

Since my opinion of the last debate failed to comport with public opinion polls taken the weekend following, I'd like to instead discuss my mother's opinion this time around. You see, after the last debate, she felt that Kerry had done the better job, hands down. She simply didn't think that Bush came off well. Yet after this debate, she felt that Bush was stronger and better. To wit, she said that Bush seemed to have found his voice. The polls seem to agree. Gallup shows the debate as being a statistical tie, but on the most important issues — terrorism and Iraq — Bush gained significant ground, while Kerry lost it. Moreover, viewers still viewed him as having more credibility and showing more strength than Kerry. It was a good day for the president. We now leave the first and second debates with a clear edge on foreign policy (i.e. Iraq), and a tie on domestic policy (i.e. the economy). That's a win in my book.

Permalink | Owen's View

October 09, 2004, 12:30 AM

Chron uses same fake Republican to attack Bush again!

By Phil Magness

After the first presidential debate the Chronicle introduced a highly slanted “focus group” of voters to give their reactions to the performances of each candidate. One of the longest statements they printed in response to the debate was from a self-professed “Republican” named J.C. Lanau who sang praises of John Kerry, mercilessly slammed President Bush as a “phony,” and claimed that the GOP “deserves” to lose the election. Something was fishy about this statement, and as CB first reported last week, Mr. Lanau, is in fact a partisan Democrat! The Chronicle's focus group returned to print after Friday's debate and sure enough, Mr. Lanau's back and the Chronicle is still passing him off as a Republican. Democrat-in-disguise Lanau repeated a similar line of attacks on Bush yet had the nerve to present himself as a Republican once again:
They were both quite good. The president was much better than last time in performance at least if not in substance. “If you cannot dazzle with brillance, baffle them with bs” — on that subject the President won. I did not buy his scare tactics, his tired lines, his stubborn affirmation that Iraq invasion was right, that he was right on the tax cut. What will be the state of stem-cell research, of the Supreme Court, of the deficit, of our civil liberties if we gave him four more years, and after tonight, and the vice-presidential debate, as a Republican, I am convinced we need a change. His final statement made me wonder what is he smoking ? I need it to see through rose-glass windows. No, this present team got to go!
The reality, however, is that Lanau's claim of being a Republican - repeated twice now by the Houston Chronicle without correction - is simply not true. Public records reveal that Lanau is an active Democratic Party voter who participated in the Democrat Primary in both the 2002 and 2004 elections. This means his voter registration card should also be stamped with his party membership - Democrat - and that the Democratic Party is his official and formal party of affiliation in Texas as defined by the Texas Election Code's Section 162.002. That the Chronicle continues to print this individual's blatantly deceptive attacks upon the President suggests complicity of a similarly nefarious kind. The tactic, simply put, is designed to undermine the confidence of Bush's own support base by falsely suggesting to real Republicans that even members of their own party are showing doubts.

Permalink | News and Views

October 08, 2004, 11:25 PM

Gibson: Neutral?

By M. Wildes

The Media Research Center has done an eye-opening report that documents slanted quotes from newsman Charles Gibson, the moderator of Friday's second Presidential Debate:
No Compassion on the Right. “Bush is using this term 'compassionate conservative' as he campaigns, which is an interesting juxtaposition of two seemingly contradictory terms,” Gibson complained to New York Times columnist William Safire back in November 1999.
The entire report can be found here. Let's just be thankful it was not Katie Couric.

Permalink | Media Watch

October 08, 2004, 08:06 PM

Drudge: ABC memo urges double standard reporting

By Phil Magness

A memorandum allegedly coming from ABC News political director Mark Halperin has surfaced on the eve of Friday night's presidential debate. The memorandum, reportedly to ABC staff, directs them to employ a double standard in holding presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry accountable. The barely legible memo, obtained by the Drudge Report, admonishes reporters NOT to “reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable.” Other statements from the memo read
“Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.” “The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.” and “I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.”
Attempts to verify the authenticity of the memorandum are underway. CB will do its best to keep our readers updated on this story as it unfolds.

Permalink | News and Views

October 08, 2004, 07:45 PM

Nick Lampson: favored candidate of the gay lobby?

By Phil Magness

The congressional race in Houston's District 2 is one of the closest and most important in the State of Texas this fall. The Democrats are running Rep. Nick Lampson, redrawn out of his old seat in East Texas, against long time district judge and GOP stalwart Ted Poe. Though District 2's geography could easily qualify it as one of the most socially conservative seats in the state, Nick Lampson has found himself on the top of a “priorities” list for the Human Rights Campaign, a powerful D.C.-based homosexual rights lobbying group. The Texas Conservative Review reports:
Nick Lampson is one of six candidates the HRC has targeted as “quality” candidates to advance their anti-family agenda.
A form to solicit contributions toward Lampson's election is also featured prominently on the organization's website. Given that the issues supported by HRC are not especially salient in the minds of voters from suburban northern and eastern Harris County or neighboring counties to the east for that matter, a question arises as to whether Lampson will represent his constituents on these issues if elected.

Permalink | News and Views

October 08, 2004, 04:46 PM

Illegal Left Turn

By Rob Booth

You know, I've made left turns in my car plenty of times. I've even accidentally made an illegal left turn. I've never hit anything. Strange that the train seems to pick off all these folks. KHOU: Auto, METRO rail car damaged due to illegal left turn
A METRO rail car has to be repaired after yet another accident. The 64th incident occurred Friday at Main at Franklin in downtown Houston, and happened much like the others.
Thanks to the anonymous reader who sent this in.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

October 08, 2004, 09:50 AM

Teresa admits fetuses have souls

By Matt Bramanti

Drudge is running a transcript of Sen. and Mrs. John Kerry's appearance Wednesday on “Dr. Phil.” Among the highlights is Mrs. Kerry's declaration that the souls of her miscarried babies are in heaven:
THK, asked if she ever wanted daughters: “Yes. ... I had some miscarriages. I have several pinkies in heaven. I call them pinkies.”
That's interesting, considering her husband received a 100% pro-abortion rating from NARAL, which staunchly opposes any restrictions whatsoever on abortion. So is Teresa pro-life? Don't bet on it. Heinz Kerry told Newsweek in April that she's pro-choice. Sort of. You see, the way she put it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic:
Teresa Heinz Kerry says she's pro-choice but believes abortion is “stopping the process of life,” it was reported yesterday. (snip) “I ask myself if I had a 13-year-old daughter who got drunk one night and got pregnant, what would I do. Christ, I'd go nuts,” Heinz Kerry said.
Wow. Who else could mix underage drinking, pro-life and pro-abortion messages, and blasphemy in one article? Fortunately, her wackiness ends at the polling place:
Asked if he shares his wife's views, Kerry told Newsweek, “I do not know the answer to that. We've never - she's never had to vote.”
Thank heaven.

Permalink | News and Views

October 08, 2004, 08:28 AM

Why I don't vote for third parties

By Owen Courrèges

The Libertarian and Green Party presidential candidates debated in Austin yesterday, which I'm sure was a grand contest. Alas, the AP article covering the debate contains this little nugget at the end:
Perhaps the biggest applause in the debate came near the end. A supporter stood up to give a one-man ode to smoking pot. The crowd went wild.
Uh, yeah... See, this is why I'm utterly uncomfortable voting for a third party candidate. There seems to be a disturbingly close correlation between third party voting and smoking too much pot. Just an observation.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 08, 2004, 08:18 AM

Chron upset over execution of Peanut

By Owen Courrèges

The Chronicle has an editorial in today's edition calling for a moratorium on executions, citing problems with the Houston crime lab. Specifically, they allege that it was a mistake to execute Edward Green III this past Tuesday, a.k.a. 'Peanut.'
Tuesday, after a two-hour delay as attorneys fought to stop the execution of any prisoner convicted in Harris County, the Texas criminal justice system ran its course for convicted killer Edward Green III. He was put to death despite the unreliability of evidence processed by the Houston Police Department crime lab. He was executed despite HPD's discovery of a mountain of poorly handled, mislaid evidence relating to thousands of cases. Gov. Rick Perry on Monday refused to authorize a temporary halt to executions of convicts from Harris County. Perry also refused to grant Green a 30-day reprieve.
It's my understanding that Peanut later confessed to the double homicide of two senior citizens for which he was convicted. So why the heck should I care about the reiability of the ballistics evidence used at his trial? The issue of fact was resolved. He did it. And why is the Chronicle whining about Governor Rick Perry? It's the fault of the Democrats that have been running this city since time immemorial that the Houston crime lab was permitted to operate in such a slipshod fashion, particularly Democrats such as former Mayor and Police Chief Lee Brown. But of course the Chron doesn't mention that, because they've supported these jokers over the years. That, along with their total lack of journalistic vigilance, makes them partially to blame as well.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 08, 2004, 06:30 AM

Well how 'bout that!

By Rob Booth

The Houston Chronicle made a very good change to their web site. Yep, you read it right — the Chronicle did a good thing. Remember the post where I pointed out that the Chronicle's correction to a story wasn't visible to the web surfer who happened upon the original article? Well, they've updated that page to include the correction. Good for you guys, thank you! This would be a great thing to make a permanent policy. I'd like to grab all the fame and glory that this event entails, but really it all belongs to a Chronically Biased reader who wishes to remain anonymous. (No, it wasn't Rep. Talmadge Heflin or any of his campaign team.) So, Mr. X, thank you. You may have caused a very good change at the Chronicle.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 07, 2004, 06:15 PM

Lucas Wall stands up for the lost

By Matt Bramanti

In his latest rudely titled “Move It!” column, the Chron's most prolific rail apologist, Lucas Wall, tackles a pressing question from a reader:
Q: Why aren't all public buildings required to have addresses on them so as we're looking for a particular building we don't have to slow down and figure out which building it is? — David Sanders, Houston A: Houston ordinances require all commercial and residential buildings have their address numbers posted in a visible location. “Numbers must be at least 3 inches high and of a contrasting color with the background,” said Wes Johnson, spokesman for the city's Department of Public Works and Engineering. City code inspectors verify compliance with this regulation. If you see a building in violation, phone a complaint to 311.
I would love to overhear that conversation. If the folks at Public Works can't find a gaping pothole in the middle of the street or a traffic signal that's been blinking red for 96 hours straight, I doubt they can find an address-less building any better than Mr. Sanders. But seriously, why are asinine questions like that put into print and dignified with an answer? We have serious transit issues that should be discussed in Houston's only major newspaper. You know, questions like “why is MetroRail a combination money pit and death trap?”

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

October 07, 2004, 12:53 PM

Democrat Crime Wave Sweeps the Nation

By Phil Magness

A bizarre string of incidents involving violence, intimidation, and even criminal activities has swept the nation in the last month. It's target? President Bush, his supporters, and Republican campaign offices. The alleged culprits? John Kerry supporters. Kerry backers and other Democrats have been implicated in a string of physical confrontations at Bush/Cheney offices around the nation. Suspicions similarly run strong with regard to other acts of vandalism against the property of Bush supporters. Other recent potentially criminal activity with ties to the left includes voter fraud and the infamous memo forgeries. A few of the incidents:
Madison, Wisconsin: Large swastikas burned into the yards of Bush supporters Duluth, Minnesota: Kerry-supporting teenagers paint swastikas on the property of a Bush backer Washington State: Watergate-style burglary at a Bush campaign headquarters West Virginia: Bush placard ripped from the hands of 3 year old Sophia Parlock by an angry Kerry supporter Huntington, West Virginia: Shots fired into GOP HQ Knoxville, Tennessee: Shots fired into GOP HQ Gainesville, Florida: Democrat activist charged with battery against a Republican Party official after entering GOP HQ with a protest mob Orlando, Florida: Kerry-backing labor union protesters sack and vandalize GOP HQ Tampa, Florida: Kerry-backing labor union protesters enter GOP HQ, intimidate volunteers Miami, Florida: Kerry-backing labor union protesters enter GOP HQ, intimidate and allegedly shove volunteers Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: GOP HQ vandalized Greensburg, Pennsylvania: Police called as Democrat protesters invade GOP HQ, harass workers Abilene, Texas: Forged national guard memos faxed to CBS News in attempt to discredit President Bush. Howard County, Maryland: Arsonists set fire to Bush/Cheney signs Nashville, Tennessee: 2 teenagers with anti-Bush agenda steal 71 Bush Cheney yard signs Vail, Colorado: Arsonists destroy several billboards of Bush Cheney, Pete Coors (Republican candidate for US Senate), and other local Republicans Ohio: Evidence of massive voter registration fraud uncovered, appears to be linked to pro-Kerry organizations including the NAACP and a George Soros-backed political group Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Democrat protesters invade Bush/Cheney HQ and harass volunteers

Permalink | News and Views

October 07, 2004, 10:45 AM

Bush goes on offensive:

By Terry Bohannon

Yesterday, President Bush went on the attack during a speech he gave in Pennsylvania. He even explained why he made grimaces and faces in reaction to what Kerry was saying last week:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Last week in our debate, [Kerry] once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war. He stated that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that America had no business removing that threat. Senator Kerry said our soldiers and Marines are not fighting for a mistake — but also called the liberation of Iraq a “colossal error.” He said we need to do more to train Iraqis, but he also said we shouldn't be spending so much money over there. He said he wants to hold a summit meeting, so he can invite other countries to join what he calls “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He said terrorists are pouring across the Iraqi border, but also said that fighting those terrorists is a diversion from the war on terror. You hear all that and you can understand why somebody would make a face. My opponent's endless back-and-forth on Iraq is part of a larger misunderstanding. In the war on terror, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous. His — Senator Kerry approaches the world with a September the 10th mind-set. He declared in his convention speech that “any attack will be met with a swift and certain response.” That was the mind-set of the 1990s, while al Qaeda was planning the attacks on America. After September the 11th, our object in the war on terror is not to wait for the next attack and respond, but to prevent attacks by taking the fight to the enemy.
If President Bush comes out on the offensive like this on Friday during the second presidential debate, he may very well gain the momentum that will put media and (maybe) even Kerry off guard. That is, if they continue to 'misunderestimate' him.

Permalink | News and Views

October 07, 2004, 09:24 AM

Chon reports black gay couples 'doubly-harmed' by marriage laws

By Owen Courrèges

I'm used to the Chronicle spewing forth inane editorials proclaiming the particulars of the secularist, liberal agenda. We see those on a frequent enough basis, and it's pretty easy to become desensitized. However, when the Chronicle sees fit to publish a news article that appears to have come straight from a left-wing press release, I must admit that I'm still a bit shocked. For Pete's sake — in the interests of unbiased journalism, no matter what your stance on gay marriage, this is surely one 'news article' that should never have been written:
The Rev. Carolyn J. Mobley and her partner, Adrain Bowie, say they consider themselves “thrice blessed” as black, gay women. Not everyone they encounter shares the sentiment. “Those who don't want to acknowledge the whole of me, God bless them,” Bowie said Wednesday. “They've missed out on the blessing of me.” Black same-sex couples such as Bowie and Mobley would be disproportionately harmed by anti-gay marriage policies, says a report released Wednesday by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Institute and the National Black Justice Coalition.
Now for my succinct response: “Who cares!” These are two far-left organizations trying to lend credibility to the notion of gay marriage by connecting the issue to race, and it's positively inane. Policymakers should consider many factors when contemplating gay marriage — but the idea that black gay couples, on average, benefit from the legal and tax benefits of marriage more than white gay couples — should not be on the table. It's too remote a concern, and invoking it reeks of political desperation. So why on earth does the Chronicle print this rubbish? Don't they know how stupid it sounds? I would think that even the biggest proponent of gay marriage would balk at this piece. Ridiculous.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 07, 2004, 07:33 AM

Clara Harris: 'I accidently ran over my husband... three times!'

By Owen Courrèges

Ok, I'll grant that David Harris suffered from a major case of “had it coming,” but Clara Harris's latest defense that she accidently ran over her husband treads well beyond the limits of believability:
A woman who ran over her cheating husband outside the hotel where they married a decade earlier wants her murder conviction overturned, saying evidence that she accidentally struck him was excluded from her trial.
Goodness, so long as we're in fantasy-land, why not just claim that David Harris ran himself over? Or that Clara Harris's car was somehow 'alive' like Disney's 'Herbie,' and decided to murder David for the wrong inflicted against its owner? Folks, the possibilities are endless!

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 07, 2004, 06:38 AM

Vast unpaid research department

By Rob Booth

Folks, I need your help. The release of the Iraq Survey Group's report on WMD in Iraq has caused me a lot of confusion. If you listened to Edd Hendee on KSEV this morning, you would have heard that he's confused too. Consider the following quotes: Houston Chronicle: Debates can be informative, but certain facts concerning the war in Iraq are almost beyond dispute.
On Wednesday, the top U.S. weapons inspector reported that he did not expect to find any stores of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Charles Duelfer, a CIA expert and former U.N. weapons inspector, concluded that Saddam Hussein had destroyed his chemical and biological weapons in 1991 and 1992, and had not resumed production.
Washington Post: Weapons That Weren't There
THE NEW REPORT from the Iraq Survey Group has confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt what most people have assumed for the past year: At the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion, Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, and most of its programs to produce them were dormant. In more than a year of investigation, the survey group found “no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart” the Iraqi nuclear weapons program that had been halted in 1991; there were “no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions” after 1991; and there was “no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW [biological weapons] program.” Iraq was secretly working on banned long-range missiles and hiding both those programs and clandestine laboratories from U.N. inspectors. But the estimates by the CIA and most other Western intelligence agencies that Iraq held large stockpiles of dangerous weapons were wrong, as was much of what President Bush said about the threat.
Washington Times: Saddam worked secretly on WMDs
Mr. Duelfer said it is “still difficult to rule” on whether Iraq had a mobile biological-weapons production effort, but he noted that Iraq secretly destroyed stocks of biological weapons in 1991 and 1992, after having denied to weapons inspectors that it had such a program.
There's a variance between the different accounts of what exactly the report says and what WMD programs Hussein had or did not have. We can't count on the media to filter this news for us. We need to go to the source. Would you all please be so kind as to help us out? Here's the link to the Iraq Survey Group report: Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD. Here's the link to the reports that UNSCOM (UN inspectors in the 90s) turned in: UNSCOM Documents. If you have some time, see if you find inconsistencies between:I'll be reading what I can, but there's thousands of pages of documents there. If you find an inconsistency, please quote the sources and provide a link to them in the comments. Maybe together we can find the truth.

Permalink | News and Views

October 07, 2004, 06:17 AM

Another pedestrian hit

By Rob Booth

Houston Chronicle: Man knocked over by light rail train downtown
A man was injured Wednesday when he was knocked over after stepping in front of a light rail train, Metro officials said.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

October 06, 2004, 08:53 PM

CBS: Election Reporting Unlikely Until After Election (Satire)

By Matt Forge

NEW YORK (CB) — Any reports having to do with any aspect of the two Presidential campaigns will probably not be aired until after the November election so as not to interfere with the presidential race, a top executive said on Tuesday. Les Moonves, the co-president of CBS parent company Viacom, announced to an analyst meeting that the normal political reports done at this time during election years by Dan Rather or anyone else on the staff had no timetable for completion. However, he stated he did not want them, whether potentially favorable or damaging to Bush, Kerry or Nader, to interfere with the election in November. “Obviously, they should be done probably after the election is over so that they don't affect what's going on,” he told a Goldman Sachs media conference in New York.

This comes on the heels of an earlier announcement by CBS News that an external review of how they came to display faked memos in a hit piece on President Bush's military record will probably not be finished until after the November election so as "...not to interfere with the presidential race."

“We want to be consistent,” said Moonves. “Otherwise it would look like we're partisan political hacks who had previously attempted to damage the President and are now trying protect his liberal opponent at all costs. And we certainly don't want to look like that.” “Courage.” (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

October 06, 2004, 04:17 PM

Democrat effort to reinstitute draft fails

By M. Wildes

The Chronicle is reporting that a Democrat bill to reinstitute the draft, introduced by Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel of New York and co-sponsored by Houston’s own Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, has been defeated. Due to rumors that the Republicans and President Bush would reinstitute the draft, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay brought the stale bill to the floor for a vote and it was quickly defeated 402-2. Not even Rangel and Jackson Lee voted for it. Now Democrats are accusing DeLay of using the vote for political reasons. Of course, the Democrats did not introduce the bill for political reasons. I suppose that is why, when called on their bluff, they voted against it. In case anyone wants to claim the Democrats were not using the bill politically, save your breath. Jackson Lee could not hold her poker face very long:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who originally co-sponsored the legislation, then voted against it Tuesday, said, “This was a protest to say to the president, 'What is your exit strategy? What is your strategy to win the peace? We have none.' ”

Permalink | News and Views

October 06, 2004, 03:45 PM

AP’s out of context quote becomes debate question

By M. Wildes

Yesterday, I explained how the Associated Press took a statement by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld out of context, in effect, taking a sound bite over the substance. Rumsfeld was quoted as saying, “To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two [Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein].” The quote was used without addressing the rest of his comments and with a mischaracterization of his clarification statement issued later (for statement links see yesterday’s post). However, the quote’s misuse did not stop at the AP, but appeared as part of the first question of last night’s Vice-Presidential Debate. The quote’s use by the debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, further exemplifies the media’s abuse of the sound bite:
Gwen Ifill: (snip) Donald Rumsfeld said he has not seen any hard evidence of a link between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein. Was this approved — of a report that you requested that you received a week ago that showed there was no connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein?

Permalink | News and Views

October 06, 2004, 02:51 PM

Chron: Don't limit city spending

By Matt Bramanti

As expected, the Chronicle endorsed Proposition 1 today, probably because it will do nothing to limit the growth of city government. At the same time, the Chron's editors slammed Proposition 2, because it might force fiscal responsibility on City Hall. (gasp!)
Proposition 2 would put the entire city budget, including separate enterprise funds, on a diet, no matter how slim some areas of the budget might be already. The growth in total city revenue from taxes, fees, fines and rentals could not exceed the combined rates of growth in population and inflation. The problems this would cause are limitless. The city could not pay steeply higher health insurance premiums for its employees without reducing their number. When the expanded convention center gets new business, the city could not spend the additional revenue on maintenance and other costs without reducing spending for basic services such as public safety and solid waste.
Yeah, that's the idea, guys: no more bottomless cookie jar. Prop 2 will force city officials to set priorities, while Prop 1 will only spur Houston bureaucrats to get more creative with their tax and fee increases. The Chron's endorsement of the do-nothing Proposition 1 should only steel the resolve of voters who want to see real fiscal responsibility. Chronically Biased supports Prop 2, and so should you.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 06, 2004, 10:12 AM

Updated: Union members trash Bush-Cheney office

By Matt Bramanti

In yet another instance of anti-Bush protesters run amok, 100 AFL-CIO members stormed a Bush-Cheney campaign office in Orlando, Fla.
Local 6 News reported that several people from the group of 100 Orlando protestors face possible assault charges after the group forced their way inside the Republican headquarters office. While in the building, some of the protestors drew horns and a mustache on a poster of President George W. Bush and poured piles of letters in the office, according to the report.
Update: Drudge is reporting that anti-Bush protesters likewise raided a Bush campaign office in Milwaukee. Here's a photo of the cheap stunt. Here's a statement from the Wisconsin GOP chairman, asking Sen. Kerry's campaign to condemn the acts. Ah, graffiti: the hallmark of reasoned political debate. Democrats' reaction to this story will be to deny that the protesters speak for the majority of left-leaning people, that they're just on the fringe. But incidents like this have been happening more and more: Bush-Cheney offices have received gunfire on at least two occasions, and they've been broken into. One has to wonder when several isolated incidents begin to form a pattern. This snippet from one of the union thugs is just priceless:
“We want to send a clear message to Bush, we want him to take his hands off our overtime pay,” protestor Esmeralda Heuilar said.
This story was on the 6:00 p.m. news, meaning it happened sometime during the day. This woman is skipping off her job to commit a crime, and she's worried about overtime pay? Hey Esmeralda, here's a little tip on how to make some money: get back to work.

Permalink | News and Views

October 06, 2004, 10:10 AM

ABC linked Osama to Saddam in 1999

By Terry Bohannon

January 14, 1999 for ABC News' show Saturday Night, in the wake of the embassy bombings, a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein was made, as Michael Reagan's research team uncovered. This story was brought to light in the wake of cynical reporting from Reuters (UK) that has the headline, “Cheney persists in seeing Qaeda-Saddam link”. Reuters continues:
Cheney, often criticised for saying Iraq and Al Qaeda were allies to justify last year's invasion of Iraq, said of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: “He had an established relationship with Al Qaeda.” Cheney's opponent, Democrat John Edwards, repeatedly said the vice president was trying to mislead the public because there were no definitive links established between al Qaeda and Saddam or Iraq and the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Many media sources today are cynically contradicting Cheney's words last night. Yet, having an 'established relationship with al Qaeda' has not been what the 9/11 investigation denied. Specifically, they denied a collaborative relationship, where there were not specific evidence showing that al Qaeda worked with Saddam in organizing the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 commission said “There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship,” as a CNN article quotes. The ABC News report from 1999 suggests that there were contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda, perhaps even an established relationship. Michael Reagan's research team linked to a video, but we will bring you the transcript as well:
SHEILA MACVICAR: In Germany, Mamdouh Salim, alleged to be a key military advisor and believed to be privy to bin Laden's most secret projects, is also apprehended. The U.S. government alleges he was under secret orders to procure enriched uranium for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons. These are allegations bin Laden does not now deny. OSAMA BIN LADEN: (through translator) It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims. But how we could use these weapons if we possess them is up to us. SHEILA MACVICAR: (voice-over) With an American price on his head, there weren't many places bin Laden could go, unless he teamed up with another international pariah, one also with an interest in weapons of mass destruction. VINCE CANNISTRARO: Osama believes in “the enemy of my enemy is my friend and is someone I should cooperate with.” That's certainly the current case with Iraq. SHEILA MACVICAR: (voice-over) Saddam Hussein has a long history of harboring terrorists. Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, the most notorious terrorists of their era, all found shelter and support at one time in Baghdad. Intelligence sources say bin Laden's long relationship with the Iraqis began as he helped Sudan's fundamentalist government in their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Three weeks after the bombing, on August 31, bin Laden reaches out to his friends in Iraq and Sudan. Iraq's vice president arrives in Khartoum to show his support for the Sudanese after the U.S. attack. ABC News has learned that during these meetings, senior Sudanese officials acting on behalf of bin Laden ask if Saddam Hussein would grant him asylum. (on camera) Iraq was, indeed, interested. ABC News has learned that in December, an Iraqi intelligence chief, named Farouk Hijazi, how Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, made a secret trip to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Three intelligence agencies tell ABC News they cannot be certain what was discussed, but almost certainly, they say, bin Laden has been told he would be welcome in Baghdad. (voice-over) And intelligence sources say they can only speculate on the purpose of an alliance. What could bin Laden offer Saddam Hussein? Only days after he meets Iraqi officials, bin Laden tells ABC News that his network is wide, and there are people prepared to commit terror in his name who he does not even control. OSAMA BIN LADEN: (through translator) It is our job to incite and to instigate. By the grace of God, we did that, and certain people responded to this instigation. SHEILA MACVICAR: (voice-over) In detail, his terrible call to arms is on the Internet, relayed through some mosques, handed out at demonstrations. It can inspire thousands beyond anyone's command.

Permalink | News and Views

October 06, 2004, 09:23 AM

Burkett: My attorney negotiated the deal with CBS

By Phil Magness

A blog site set up by embattled Rathergate figure Bill Burkett to explain his role in the scandal is now suggesting that a formalized deal was made with CBS, possibly involving a legal agreement in the process. Writes Burkett:
I did not negotiate the deal between myself and CBS. My private attorney of six years did.
Though Burkett did not specify the name of this attorney, it is likely that the reference is to his longtime attorney David Van Os. As CB first reported Van Os is a well connected figure in the Democratic Party of Texas and is currently their nominee for a statewide office. Van Os previously served as Burkett's attorney in a medical lawsuit he filed against the military. Many have speculated that Van Os is a key link between Burkett and the CBS memo scandal's other figures. Van Os, who is still stumping for Kerry in Texas, is a well known associate of Howard Dean. The two appeared on stage together at Kerry rallies in Houston and Austin two months ago. Dean is also one of several high profile Kerry backers who has admitted to participating in a conversation with Burkett prior to the September 9th CBS broadcast. Assuming what Burkett's blog claims is accurate, and assuming, as is likely, that the referenced attorney is Van Os, the posting seemingly confirms Van Os' involvement with the memorandums well before they became a scandal following the CBS broadcast.

Permalink | News and Views

October 06, 2004, 07:37 AM

VP debate goes off without any gaffes; zingers

By Owen Courrèges

I watched the VP debate last night and was impressed with Cheney's performance, although overall the debate seemed to be a draw — no major gaffes, no major zingers. Both Edwards and Cheney lodged attacks, but neither added new lines of attack we haven't already seen. And let's face it — VP debates in general tend to have no significant affect on the campaign. Personally, my favorite line of the evening was this:
“Frankly, senator, you have a record that's not very distinguished,” Cheney said to Edwards, citing him for a pattern of absences during his single term in the Senate.
Never has an understatement nonetheless said so much.

Permalink | News and Views

October 06, 2004, 07:36 AM

“Peanut” executed

By Owen Courrèges

Well, it's nice to know that cold-blooded murder is still punishable by death in the state of Texas. After all, I don't think the demise of “Peanut” leaves the world any poorer:
[Edward] Green, 30, known on the street as “Peanut,” said he was high after smoking marijuana and embalming fluid when he and a friend confronted a car that had pulled up to a stop sign. When Green, brandishing a pistol, ordered Edward Haden, 72, out of his Lincoln, the man tried to throw the car into reverse. Haden and his passenger, Helen O’Sullivan, 63, were shot.
Yeesh. If the actions of this “Peanut” get you down, then by all means, seek some relief with the dancing feet of Mr. Peanut.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

October 05, 2004, 09:25 PM

The Great Uniter

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

October 05, 2004, 05:11 PM

HISD to sell excess land

By Matt Bramanti

Near the end of Nancy Sarnoff's real estate column, she points out another instance of eminent domain abuse. Apparently HISD officials now admit they condemned too much land for a school site:
HISD could end up selling about 8 acres of vacant land near the Galleria area it has held onto for almost a decade. Gary Hansel, who handles real estate for HISD, said an elementary school planned for the 18-acre former Lamar Terrace site will occupy only about 10 acres. So selling a portion of the land “is something the district is considering,” he said. Nearly 10 years ago, HISD started buying the 18 acres, about half of it through eminent domain — forcing some property owners to sell. After the land sat vacant for a few years, the district was criticized for using its eminent domain powers to buy land it never developed.
The Fifth Amendment declares, “nor shall any person...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Evidently the brass at HISD have deemed stealing land for speculative investment a legitimate public use.

Permalink | News and Views

October 05, 2004, 04:51 PM

Chron runs positive piece on Scouts

By Matt Bramanti

Now and then, the Chron does something right, and I'm happy to point it out. It's kind of like finding a penny in a pile of glass shards. Today, the Chronicle ran this AP piece online about a young man who distributed child ID kits in memory of a local girl who was kidnapped and murdered a few years earlier:
As his neighbors organized search parties to look for Opal Jennings in 1999, Chase McKinney thought about what he could do for a little girl he had never met. He decided that some day he would do a Boy Scout project for Opal, whose remains were found earlier this year. Five years later, McKinney, now 17 and living in Grand Blanc, followed up by handing out child identification kits to 202 families for his Eagle Scout project, The Flint Journal reported.
As an Eagle Scout, it's refreshing to see a piece on Scouting that doesn't brand the movement as a bunch of paramilitary homophobes. I congratulate Chase on his acheivement of Scouting's highest honor. The movement has done a lot of good for a lot of people, and I sincerely commend the Chronicle for running the story.

Permalink | News and Views

October 05, 2004, 04:40 PM

AP takes Rumsfeld quote out of context

By M. Wildes

In a story posted to Chron.com this morning, the AP continues its commitment to being a weapon of mass confusion with the misleading headline, “Rumsfeld: No evidence links Saddam, al-Qaida.” The AP took Rumsfeld's statement out of context, then claimed he “backed-off” his original assertion. The reality is that Rumsfeld was clear the first time and in his second statement he was simply reiterating the same point due to misreporting. This is a great example of taking the sound bite over the content. Part of the AP's account:
NEW YORK — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech that he knew of no clear link between the al-Qaida terror network and Saddam Hussein, although he later backed off the statement and said he was misunderstood. Asked to describe the connection between the Iraqi leader and the al-Qaida terror network at an appearance Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Pentagon chief first refused to answer, then said: “To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two.” Several hours after his appearance, Rumsfeld issued a statement from the Pentagon saying his comment “regrettably was misunderstood” by some. He said he has said since September 2002 that there were ties between Osama bin Laden's terror group and Iraq.
Actual transcript text:
SEC. RUMSFELD: I tell you, I'm not going to answer the question. I have seen the answer to that question migrate in the intelligence community over the period of a year in the most amazing way. Second, there are differences in the intelligence community as to what the relationship was. To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two. There are — I just read an intelligence report recently about one person who's connected to al Qaeda who was in and out of Iraq and there's the most tortured description of why he might have had a relationship and why he might not have had a relationship. There are reports about people in Saddam Hussein's intelligence service meeting in one country or another with al Qaeda people from one person to another, which may have been indicative of something, or may not have been. It may have been something that was not representative of a hard linkage. What we do know is that Saddam Hussein was on the terrorist list. We do know they were giving $25,000 to suicide bombers. So, this is not the Little Sisters of the Poor. (Laughter.) But, what I would — to answer it, when I'm in Washington, I pull out a piece of paper and say “I don't know, because I'm not in that business, but I'll tell you what the CIA thinks,” and I read it, the public version of it. If you want a — not terribly current now, but George Tenet did testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a version of it was unclassified — declassified — later, which you can get and read if you want to see the answer that he gave. But it is — it is — the relationships between these folks are complicated. They evolve and change over time. In many cases, these different networks have common funders. In many cases, they cooperate not in a chain of command but in a loose affiliation, a franchising arrangement almost, where they go do different things and cooperate but they're not, in the case of al Qaeda, most — my impression is most of the senior people have actually sworn an oath to Osama Bin Laden, and even, to my knowledge, even as of this late date, I don't believe Zarqawi, the principal leader of the network in Iraq, has sworn an oath, even though what they're doing — I mean, they're just two peas in a pod in terms of what they're doing. So, it is too complicated for me to try to pretend I'm the expert analyst on the subject, and for that I apologize.
The AP also butchered Rumsfeld’s clarification statement saying Rumsfeld “backed-off the [original] statement.” Its text can be found here.

Permalink | Media Watch

October 05, 2004, 03:56 PM

Chron praises private sector (briefly)

By Matt Bramanti

The Chronicle's editorial board, faced with flagging circulation and the prospect of a bloody restructuring, has endorsed the free market economy as a vehicle for progress:
SpaceShipOne's flight marks a major milestone in aerospace history, made poignant by the death the same day of Gordon Cooper, one the first seven astronauts. The private team did for about $25 million what the world's most powerful governments decades ago spent billions to accomplish. The giving and winning of the Ansari X Prize also confirmed that this is an era of great personal fortunes. A $50 million prize for the first private orbital flight is in the works. Some of those fortunes were earned by people willing to put them to use to advance the human experience.
Has the Chronicle turned the corner? Can we expect our hometown rag to stand up for the free markets, as opposed to government regulation and bureacracy? I wouldn't bet the ranch. You see, in the other staff editorial, the Chron's editors decry tax breaks as a mechanism for luring business to town. What we really need, they claim, is more government intervention in economic planning and private life:
The report released last week called on Houston leaders to, among other things, continue working for a more diversified, less oil-and-gas-dependent economy; encourage alternative fuels research; create incentives to target particular industries; and put together a regional economic development strategy council. (snip) Moreover, elected officials and leaders in the private sector should concentrate on enhancing Houston's quality of life — by reducing pollution, improving education, developing new and larger parks, upgrading and adding libraries, investing in the arts and increasing public safety.
Oh well. What more could we expect from a paper whose idea of “investing in the arts” is slapping a four-inch star on the Houston section?

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 05, 2004, 11:54 AM

Quite A Resumé

By Matt Forge

To view Kerry's resumé in his own words, go THERE.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

October 05, 2004, 10:22 AM

SpaceShipOne breaks barriers

By Terry Bohannon

Without billions of dollars, private entrepreneurs reach the edge of space. Yesterday, SpaceShipOne made its second flight breeching 100km only five days after the first breech. This time, according to estimates, the craft approached 111km, breaking the altitude record set in 1963 by an X-15. This is unprecedented; this is what dreams are made of. Virgin, which began as a record label, now owns Virgin Atlantic, and budget airlines Virgin Express and Virgin Blue. Richard Benson wants to pick up the technology, as the AP reported last week:
The company said it planned to begin construction of the first vessel, VSS Enterprise, next year, and would invest about $108 million in spaceships and ground infrastructure for the venture. “Virgin has been in talks with Paul Allen and Burt throughout this year and in the early hours of Saturday signed a historical deal to license SpaceShipOne’s technology to build the world’s first private spaceship to go into commercial operating service,” Branson told a news conference.
This is great news, not only because private investment instead of national economies is bringing us to space, but because people like Paul Allen and Richard Branson are confident enough in our economy to make long term investments. If our economy was in shambles, as John Kerry would suggest, investments like these would hardly be made. Personally, I am very excited at this new development. With their investments, Paul Allen and Richard Branson are pushing private flight to a new frontier.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 05, 2004, 07:39 AM

Chron says Houston needs more rail... zzzzzzzz.....

By Owen Courrèges

Surprise, surprise! The Houston Chronicle has published yet another editorial supporting the extension of light rail throughout the Houston area:
For a decade, Houston was arbitrarily and wrongly barred from receiving federal funds for rail transit. It now proposes to make up for lost time with an innovative, efficient project to extend rail throughout the central city. Metro's first rail line, paid for with local funds, has outperformed ridership expectations. It is spurring development. Both experience and fairness commend Metro's rail expansion proposal to federal transit officials and influential Texans in Congress.
'Outperformed ridership expectations?' Does the Chronicle suffer from chronic short-term memory? Ridership expectations are calculated by the transit agencies themselves, which means that they're infinitely manipulatable. In other words, whatever Metro wants the figures to be, that's what they are. Heck, former DART exec Roger Snoble admitted as much to the Chronicle in 1996:
In a March 1996 interview with the Houston Chronicle, DART executive director Roger Snoble said DART had been purposely conservative on its ridership projections, so that the system's actual numbers would look better once it opened.
As for 'spurring development,' I'll merely point to Allen Parkway. Far more high-density development is occurring there than on the rail line itself. Why? Well, probably because even the yuppies living in downtown lofts prefer to use automobiles to get to work as opposed to electric trains. Besides, light rail doesn't spur development, at best it merely reorients it. It's not as if builders would build less if transportation choices were different, and in fact the lost opportunity costs that are part and parcel of building rail probably inhibit development more than anything else. To put it another way, highways would probably 'spur' more development than rail, and so the selection of rail over more freeway miles is actually itself a net loss for the city. But that's logic, something that's apparently lacking at the Chronicle.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

October 05, 2004, 06:38 AM

A correction no more...

By Rob Booth

An astute reader points out something about the Houston Chronicle that needs fixing..... On September 16, the Houston Chronicle ran a Kristen Mack column that disparaged Rep. Talmadge Heflin's knowledge of his district: White courts Republicans to boost revenue measure. We pointed out that the info used in the column wasn't correct: Congratulations Kristen Mack! (Updated). The Chronicle ran a correction: Correction. If you go back to the original article, though, you'll see that it has nothing on it that indicates the information is incorrect. If you go to the Corrections page this morning, you won't find the earlier correction. Suggestion for the Houston Chronicle: If you have to correct an error in an article, you should link to that correction from the original article on the web. You did that with this story, that's a good thing to implement as policy.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

October 05, 2004, 06:30 AM

Kerry calls Christians extremists

By Dan Patrick

Yesterday, I was stunned by a statement by John Kerry. While talking about stem cell research, Kerry accused the President of following “an extreme right wing ideology” in not allowing government funding of research from embryos. The Pope has endorsed the President's stand, as has most of the Christian community. The Christian community sees this issue as an issue of faith. Senator Kerry apparently feels that a person's Christian faith is an extreme ideology. This is a major story. By making this statement, the Senator, who is Catholic, is also calling the Pope an extremist by inference. The Christian community should be alarmed by Kerry's statement. The Pope and every member of the clergy should be offended, speak out and denounce Kerry for his statement. Most importantly, the President should make Kerry's statement a focal point in the next debate on Friday. The President can simply repeat the quote and explain that the Pope and much of the clergy support his position. He then should ask the Senator if he is also calling the Pope and extremist, since the Pope agrees with the President. During the last debate the President took the high road and allowed Kerry to go unchallenged. It is time the President put Kerry on the defensive on a number of issues, including this issue. My instant analysis on Channel 2 last week, after the debate, was that by taking the high road and allowing Kerry to go unchallenged, the President had not only lost the debate, but that the race would tighten and the democrats would be energized; both predictions were accurate. Kerry was clearly speaking to the un-Godly left yesterday in his remarks. The Christian right needs to hear and understand what Kerry said. The President missed the chance last week to lay out Kerry's anti-military record in the Senate. Kerry has now given the President a new and powerful issue to attack him on with his remarks calling Christians extremists. Mr. President, Senator Kerry is once again open to a knock-out punch. Are you going to take a swing or just play defense?

Permalink | News and Views

October 05, 2004, 06:25 AM

Catch me if you can

By Dan Patrick

Channel 2 has invited me back to give my instant analysis on tonight's debate. My immediate analysis last week, after the first Presidential debate, turned out to be exactly on target. The next day when the reviews started rolling out, everyone agreed with the position I took. I had stated that Kerry clearly won the debate. I said Bush seemed reluctant to attack Kerry on his anti-military voting record and that the race would tighten and the Democrats would be energized. I still believe the President will win the election. However, he will have to be more aggressive in the next two debates. Tonight, the men who will be a heartbeat away from being President if there man is elected, will square off in their only debate. Normally the V.P. debate doesn't mean much. However, because of the Kerry-Bush debate, this debate takes on more importance. The democrats want to keep their momentum. Republicans want Cheney to make the attack on Kerry that Bush did not; especially his Senate record. It should be an interesting debate given the difference in age, appearance, style and experience. I expect Cheney to do very well. However, I also had expected the President to do well last week, only to be disappointed. As one pundit put it, Edwards is used to swaying juries in hot southern courtrooms cooled by ceiling fans, while Cheney is used to being on the big stage. While there is a lot of pressure on Cheney to do well tonight and regain some “big mo” for his team, Edwards cannot come off as an inexperienced politician whose only asset is his hair. Cheney will need to take on Edwards like Bentsen took on Quail in their 1988 debate. Remember the line "you're no Jack Kennedy? This debate will probably draw more attention that usual. Watch the debate and then catch my analysis in the channel 2 news at 10. Tomorrow catch Edd and me and let us know your opinion here on ChronicallyBiased.com and on KSEV.

Permalink | News and Views

October 05, 2004, 06:24 AM

Hey Jack Kerouac!

By Rob Booth

The Lowell Sun, hometown newspaper and onetime employer of the late writer Jack Kerouac, has endorsed President Bush. Oh, one more thing: Lowell is in Massachusetts. Link via Blogs for Bush.
It's about national security. That's the key issue on the minds of Americans planning to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election. They must decide whether Republican President George W. Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry, a Democrat, can provide the leadership to safeguard America from foreign terrorism. Americans aren't fools. They know that without safe cities and towns, America will lose its greatness. Our cherished freedoms and sacred liberties will be diminished, along with our opportunities for economic prosperity and our basic pursuit of happiness. Our children and their children will live vastly different lives if we fail to guarantee a future free of turmoil. Islamic extremists, both here and abroad, have one purpose: To destroy America and halt the spread of democracy and religious tolerance around the globe.
A paper in Massachusetts declines to endorse the candidate from the same state. Presumably, they have been watching Senator Kerry for his whole career. Jack Kerouac was a writer back in the 50s/60s who is one of the founding fathers of the Beat Generation, often refered to as “Beatniks.” This cultural movement is credited with inspiring the hippie movement, of which Kerouac was not enamored. Some say that Jack Kerouac ended up a political conservative at the end of his life. (He was a National Review subscriber.) He was serious in his Catholic faith, although he mixed in other religious traditions (e.g., Zen Buddhism). It's serendipity that his old paper would endorse the conservative in the presidential race.

Permalink | News and Views

October 05, 2004, 06:21 AM

Train vs. Woman

By Rob Booth

KTRK: Pedestrian hit by METRO's light rail train
A pedestrian has been hit by METRO's light rail train. The accident happened on Fannin around 8am Monday.
Click 2 Houston.com: Police: Pedestrian Walks In Front Of METRORail Train
HOUSTON — A pedestrian was taken to a hospital Monday morning after she walked in front of a METRORail train, officials told Local 2. Police said a METRO train in a northbound lane of Fannin near the Reliant Stadium rail stop struck a pedestrian at about 8:15 a.m. south of the station.
In an e-mail, John Gaver points out that this is the fifth time a pedestrian/wheelchair occupant has been hit by the train. The national average for this length of rail is four.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

October 04, 2004, 04:10 PM

Infringement on the right to travel imminent

By M. Wildes

The Chronicle reported today that our driving mileage may soon be metered and billed according to use. This sort of taxation will not only increase our overall burden but will be used to track and impact our behavior. In their own words:
Fees for miles traveled would be measured by Global Positioning System receivers embedded in vehicles. The system would track which roads a motorist uses so the virtual tolls could be distributed to the appropriate agency. (snip) “We're hoping this is a theory that can go into practice,” Lettiere said at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials meeting. “It has a lot of useful benefits.” Researchers love the idea that driving taxes could be adjusted to promote or discourage certain actions. The system could charge more per mile during peak hours, for instance, or add a surcharge for heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles. (snip) “Why shouldn't transportation be seen as a utility like electricity, water, etc.?” Hal Worrall, a consultant for Transportation Innovations Inc., asked during a panel at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Toll Road Association conference. “It's perceived as free in America and thus produces a large demand.”
(Emphasis added) Do not let them fool you. We already pay a usage fee. If you drive and use one tank a week, but I drive and use two, we are being taxed according to our usage. This new plan just allows them to charge more on different roads, in different jurisdictions, at different times of the day or even during special events. Perhaps the cruelest trick is that they will be taxing our mileage and not the number of gallons we purchase. For instance, if your vehicle can travel 20 miles per gallon of gasoline you will be taxed for each of 20 miles and not just once per gallon. I am not sure whether these taxes would be equivalent, however, with all of the different cost scenarios and taxing authorities, I would be willing to bet it will not work out in the citizen’s favor even if they tried. It is even less likely that the tax will be equivalent to what we are paying now, when we consider that the proponents are comparing the tax to a toll rather than pennies on the dollar. I think the Beatles put it best:
If you drive a car-car I'll tax the street If you try to sit-sit I'll tax your seat If you get too cold I'll tax the heat If you take a walk I'll tax your feet

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

October 04, 2004, 12:19 PM

Kerry camp: suspicious object was a black pen

By Phil Magness

John Kerry's campaign is claiming that the mysterious object their candidate removed from his coat pocket in seeming violation of the debate rules was a black pen, reports the New York Post. Even if true, the use of an outside pen would still be a violation of the rules agreed to by the two campaigns, which specifically prohibited writing utensils other than those already provided on the podium. Bloggers have been quick to challenge the Kerry campaign's pen claims. For one, the object Kerry is holding appears to be white and square shaped rather than a pen. The pen that Kerry was using throughout the debate was also visible many times on camera. That pen appears to have been white or silver, as this video reveals, not black. Needless to say, Kerry's hands appear to have been very busy in the opening moments of the debate. As Jim Lehrer asked him the first question Kerry can still be seen frantically moving or arranging something on his podium and glancing down at it several times. Whether this was a “cheat sheet” as some have suspected or an innocent object that was nevertheless in violation of the rules remains to be seen.

Permalink | News and Views

October 04, 2004, 11:05 AM

Good news from Iraq

By Terry Bohannon

This weekend, US Commanders have claimed victory in Samarra, as a Reuters press press release shows:
U.S.-led forces backed by warplanes tightened their grip on the rebel stronghold of Samarra yesterday, saying they had killed 125 rebels in one of the largest offensives since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The two-day offensive to retake Samarra, some 100 km north of Baghdad, also resulted in the capture of 88 insurgents, the commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division said. Major General John Batiste told CNN that operations in the town would continue for several days.
Yet this seems to be only a first step in a broad offensive against the insurgents, as the press release continues:
The U.S. military has vowed to wrest all rebel-held areas from insurgents before the end of the year so elections can be held in January. Iraq's defense minister said the offensive would begin in October and Samarra appears to be the first major step. As well as Samarra, a town of more than 100,000, U.S. forces will have to retake Falluja and Ramadi, west of Baghdad, and several areas of the capital, including the Shi'ite district of Sadr City, if the nation is to be pacified before elections.
The US and Coalition Forces deserve our confidence. With their victories, freedom will reign in a culture many said could not handle freedom. We must not let the Iraqi people down, they deserve freedom and President Bush is determined to give it to them. Kerry, however, has not talked about the freedom of the Iraqi people in a way that shows he's determined or even cares to give it to them. The Iraqi people don't deserve that, and the American public deserves better: we must make the right decision on Nov. 2. A wrong one may very well bring tyranny back to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Permalink | News and Views

October 04, 2004, 11:03 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Jeremy Weidenhof gives an update on Marine Lance Corporal Casey Owens and says Houston has stepped up to help one of their own; Dan Lovett talks about the biggest comeback of the baseball season and highlights the Texans' weekend win; Barry Chambers gives kudos to teeny-bopper films and Dick Morris critiques the first presidential debate. Read these articles and more in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

October 04, 2004, 07:39 AM

Chron: Why wait for the market when government mandates are quicker?

By Owen Courrèges

In a staff editorial supporting a citywide a smoking in bars and restaurants, the Chronicle includes the following line that truly crystalizes the problem with liberal approaches to regulation:
The executive director of the Houston Restaurant Association says customer demand has caused restaurants and hotels to move toward nonsmoking policies. If the result is both desirable and inevitable, why wait?
Why wait? Well, the obvious answer should be that the government shouldn't force this, because the market can already handle it. If non-smokers are truly so irate about bars and restaurants allowing smoking, then they'll show it by refusing to go to bars and restaurants that allow smoking. And if they're already doing this, resulting in increasing numbers of bars and restaurants banning smoking voluntarily, then I fail to see where the pressing need is for government intervention. You see, government intervention is heavy-handed. It is the use of collective force to control individual action — in this case, the actions of bar and restaurant owners. Basically, society is saying: “if you don't comply with this smoking ban, we'll shut you down, and if you resist, we'll shoot you.” That's different from being compelled by market powers, which work through persuasion. This is why it's usually best to leave these things up to the market. The market uses efficiency; the government uses the threat of violence. That's why we should wait. Sadly, I'm not at all surprised that the Chronicle cannot understand this.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 04, 2004, 07:36 AM

Gallup: Bush/Kerry now tied

By Owen Courrèges

Regrettably, it seems that many Americans didn't view the first presidential debate as I did. Gallup's first post-debate poll reveals that Bush has gone from an eight-point lead to a dead tie:
President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, are about even among likely and registered voters in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, released Sunday. The poll showed Kerry and Bush tied at 49 percent each among likely voters interviewed. Among registered voters Bush had 49 percent and Kerry 47 percent. Independent candidate Ralph Nader was favored by 1 percent in each group. The margin of error in each case was plus or minus 4 percentage points. By contrast, Bush was ahead of Kerry among likely voters 52 percent to 44 percent in the Gallup poll conducted September 24-26. Among registered voters in that poll, the spread was 53 percent for Bush and 42 percent for Kerry. Nader had 3 percent among each group.
As much as I hate to say it, I do trust this poll. Gallup does tend to have some wild shifts now and again, but I don't doubt that this race has evened to a tie. As indicated by the post-debate snapshot polls, President Bush didn't lose by a huge margin, and even beat Kerry in terms of likability and strength. However, he lost the post-debate spin badly. For some reason, people were expecting better from Bush and worse from Kerry. That, and the fact that media attention shifted away from the Swift Vets and 'Memogate,' lost him several points. I was expecting some tightening, since that seemed to be the trend already. Bush had dropped from a double-digit lead to a single-digit lead in many polls, so trends were running against him. However, I didn't expect his entire eight-point lead to be wiped out by a debate with no significant gaffes by either candidate, even with all the negativity surrounding his performance in the post-debate coverage. The only thing about the Gallup poll that strikes me as unbelievably odd is the fact that Bush's margin increases with registered versus likely voters. It's commonly accepted among pollsters that likely voter polls favor Republicans, since persons leaning Democratic tend to be less likely to vote. I know that Gallup uses a statistical formula to determine who is a “likely voter,” but I can't understand how it could reach this kind of result. It just strikes me as odd. Anyway, onward to the next debate... I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a better result, considering that expectations have now shifted. It's Kerry who has the most to prove this time around.

Permalink | News and Views

October 04, 2004, 06:36 AM

I'm sorry, but....

By Rob Booth

I normally wouldn't dream of belittling someone who wrote a letter to the editor at the Chronicle, but in this case I'll make an exception. Houston Chronicle: Letters
Kerry won debate easily CCORDING [sic] to the polls, the majority of people think Sen. John Kerry won the first debate easily over President Bush, despite the media trying to spin it to the contrary. Thanks to the Chronicle for continuing to be a responsible media source. C.L. SMITH Houston
What planet are you living on, C.L. Smith? The only place where I saw people say that President Bush won the debate was on the Bush-Cheney 04 web site. Even KSEV hosts agreed that Senator Kerry won the debate, or rather that President Bush lost it. Repsonsible media source? Wait a minute, that has to be the relative of someone on the editorial board.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 04, 2004, 06:30 AM

Astros-destiny rides again

By Dan Patrick

On Friday, just prior to the Astro-Rockie game, I wrote an article on why the Astros would be world champs in 2004. I wrote the article before the game, when the playoffs were still in doubt, to illustrate my confidence in my prediction. “Destiny” and the Astros did not let me down. The Astros head to Atlanta for game one of the playoffs on Wednesday. On Friday, I called the Astros a team of destiny; they are. Along destin's road, they have also played 6 weeks of some of the greatest baseball in the history of the game. Every time they needed an out, a hit, a great catch, another team to lose a game, it happened. This past weekend was more of the same. Going into the weekend the Astros and Giants were tied. Both teams won on Friday. On Saturday, the Giants were on their way to another win with a 3-0 lead over the Dodgers in the ninth. The Giants gave up 3 walks and made a critical error, by a defensive specialist just inserted into the game, and lost the game; opening the door for the Astros on Sunday. The Astros needed just one more win to clinch the playoffs. They had Roger Clemens scheduled to pitch against a very bad Colorado team. A piece of cake, right? Wrong. Instead, the Astros needed Brian Backe, who has only been pitching for 3 years, to pitch when Clemens became ill. Backe not only threw a great game, he drove in two runs with two outs and two strikes on him to give the Astros an early lead. The Astros won 5-3 to make the playoffs. Clemens is now set to pitch the first game against Atlanta on Wednesday and game 5 if needed. The weekend could not have worked out better for Houston. I call it destiny. On August 15th, the Astros were 4 games under 500 and given up for dead as far as making the playoffs. Here is what the Astros would need to do during the next 6 weeks to make the playoffs: 1. win 12 in a row 2. win 36 out of the last 46 3. come from 7 runs down to beat Philly during the streak 4. come back in the 9th inning against San Francisco in the most important game of the season 5. win their last 18 games at home ( the most in baseball in 10 years) 6. win 9 out of their last 10 games 7. win the last 6 straight (including 3 against the first place Cards) 8. have Chicago find every possible way to lose It took all of this and the Astros still only made the playoffs by one game over the Giants. The last 6 weeks of this baseball season is something you would normally only see in the movies. The Astros looked like the “Knights” from the movie, “The Natural.” At times every Houston batter looked like Robert Redford's character, Roy Hobbs from the same movie. However, this isn't Hollywood, it's Houston; it's not fiction, but real life. Houston, get ready for the World Series; it's “destiny.”

Permalink | News and Views

October 04, 2004, 06:25 AM

It's party time

By Dan Patrick

The Astros are hosting a “free,” yes I said free party for all the fans today at the ballpark. There will be free food and drink as fans send off the team to Atlanta. Parking is also free at all of the Astro parking lots adjacent to the stadium.

Permalink | News and Views

October 03, 2004, 09:44 PM

A True Weapon of Mass Destruction

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

October 03, 2004, 01:32 PM

Did Kerry break the rules?

By Terry Bohannon

Today, the Drudge Report has highlighted charges that Kerry slipped something out of his pocket and placed it on his dais. A video clip from The Daily Recycler appears to demonstrate the validity of the charge. Drudge reports:
Section 5, pages 4-5 of the binding “Memorandum of Understanding” that was negotiated and agreed upon by both political campaigns states: “No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by either candidate.... Each candidate must submit to the staff of the Commission prior to the debate all such paper and any pens or pencils with which a candidate may wish to take notes during the debate, and the staff or commission will place such paper, pens and pencils on the podium...” So what did Dem presidential contender John Kerry take out of his jacket as he approached the stage [with his back to the auditorium's audience]? What did Kerry place on the podium?

Permalink | News and Views

October 03, 2004, 10:45 AM

All praise be to the mainstream media!

By Rob Booth

Instapundit points to this AP article where Tom Brokaw says this:
Brokaw blasted what he called an attempt to “demonize” CBS and Rather on the Internet, where complaints about the report first surfaced. He said the criticism “goes well beyond any factual information.” “What I think is highly inappropriate is what going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad ... that is quite outrageous,” the NBC anchor said at a panel on which all three men spoke.
I have seen the error of my ways. I'm going to forget about reading critically and I will take anything the major media says on blind faith. I will quit looking things up and seeing if they're true, I'll rely on NBC/ABC/CBS to do that for me. Not!

Permalink | Media Watch

October 02, 2004, 06:15 PM

What we'll really get:

By Terry Bohannon

Permalink | Humor

October 02, 2004, 10:45 AM

President Bush fights back tears, Kerry points to his website

By Terry Bohannon

At the debate, when asked “Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost of American lives”, President Bush immediately dropped all of his talking points to answer this question from his heart. Fighting back tears, he spoke directly to the families of those who have lost loved ones in Iraq. His comments immediately contrast with John Kerry's response. His opening statement, although he was trying to be sympathetic, lacked emotion while retaining his overbearing haughtiness. Kerry immediately went on the attack. The crux of his message was when he told people that he has a plan for Iraq that he's laid out in four points. Then demonstrating that he can't even be specific as to what his plan is, he tells people to go to his website. President Bush, however, was not focused on Kerry in his response. He didn't even seek to contrast himself with his opponent. He showed himself to be a man that deeply feels each loss. He truly understand what it means to commit troops in harm's way. As could be seen when watching the debate or reading that section of the transcript:
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, every life is precious. Every life matters. You know, my hardest--the hardest part of the job is to know that I committed the troops in harm‘s way and then do the best I can to provide comfort for the loved ones who lost a son or a daughter or a husband or wife. You know, I think about Missy Johnson. She‘s a fantastic lady I met in Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her son Brian, they came to see me. Her husband PJ got killed. He‘d been in Afghanistan, went to Iraq. You know, it‘s hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm‘s way. I told her after we prayed and teared up and laughed some that I thought her husband‘s sacrifice was noble and worthy. Because I understand the stakes of this war on terror. I understand that we must find al Qaeda wherever they hide. We must deal with threats before they fully materialize. And Saddam Hussein was a threat, and that we must spread liberty because in the long run, the way to defeat hatred and tyranny and oppression is to spread freedom. Missy understood that. That‘s what she told me her husband understood. So you say, “Was it worth it?” Every life is precious. That‘s what distinguishes us from the enemy. Everybody matters. But I think it‘s worth it, Jim.
Then Kerry's response:
KERRY: I understand what the president is talking about, because I know what it means to lose people in combat. And the question, is it worth the cost, reminds me of my own thinking when I came back from fighting in that war. And it reminds me that it is vital for us not to confuse the war, ever, with the warriors. That happened before. And that‘s one of the reasons why I believe I can get this job done, because I am determined for those soldiers and for those families, for those kids who put their lives on the line. That is noble. That‘s the most noble thing that anybody can do. And I want to make sure the outcome honors that nobility. Now, we have a choice here. I‘ve laid out a plan by which I think we can be successful in Iraq: with a summit, by doing better training, faster, by cutting--by doing what we need to do with respect to the U.N. and the elections. There‘s only 25 percent of the people in there. They can‘t have an election right now. The president‘s not getting the job done. So the choice for America is, you can have a plan that I‘ve laid out in four points, each of which I can tell you more about or you can go to johnkerry.com and see more of it; or you have the president‘s plan, which is four words: more of the same. I think my plan is better. And my plan has a better chance of standing up and fighting for those troops. I will never let those troops down, and will hunt and kill the terrorists wherever they are.

Permalink | News and Views

October 02, 2004, 09:05 AM

Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle

By Rob Booth

Houston Chronicle: Fox News site posts falsified Kerry quotes
A story containing false quotes attributed to Sen. John Kerry was posted on Fox News Channel's Web site for hours Friday. The article was pulled Friday afternoon and Fox News apologized.

Permalink | Humor

October 02, 2004, 09:00 AM

WSJ Editorial should not be missed

By M. Wildes

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com published an excellent editorial, “Why We Back Bush; Five elected black Republicans make the case for the president.” The Editorial, written by J.C. Watts, a former congressman from Oklahoma; Michael Steele, lieutenant governor of Maryland; Jennette Bradley, lieutenant governor of Ohio; J. Kenneth Blackwell, secretary of state of Ohio; and Michael Williams, a Texas railroad commissioner, is a must read for any conservative fed up with liberal lies and misrepresentations about Republicans and race. (You will have to give an e-mail address to read it.)

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 11:13 PM

ABC post-debate poll shows no change in voter preferences

By Owen Courrèges

An ABC News poll shows that the debate made no difference in the preferences of those who watched the debate. Both before and after the debate Bush held a slim 4% margin over Kerry, even though respondents thought Kerry won the debate by a 10% margin. I believe this lends further credence to my theory that Bush performed better than believed simply because he came across as the stronger leader. People may have a better opinion of Kerry now than they did before the debate, but he still isn't seen as being the superior to Bush in terms of his ability to serve as commander-in-chief. Kerry was articulate, there's no doubt about that. But that won't win Kerry this election.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 11:00 PM

Chron uses fake Republican to slam Bush

By Phil Magness

Today's Chronicle contains a lengthy “sounding board” article in which the paper purports to take reactions from a wide cross section of citizens. The very concept behind this type of article is unsurprising deceptive. Specifically, the cross sections they tend to take are not random samples of the population at large but rather an attempt to gather as many contrasting viewpoints, groupings, and demographics imaginable - even if the opinion expressed represents a statistically insignificant portion of the population - and presents them concurrently. A true random sample of voters in Harris County, for example would probably reflect a solid preference toward President Bush on the basis that it is a Republican county in the president's home state where he is expected to win handily. Here's a breakdown of the Chronicle's sample though: Supportive of Bush/Hostile to Kerry: 4 comments Supportive of Kerry/Hostile to Bush: 8 comments Indeterminate: 1 comment In other words, their representative sample was about as representative of the Massachusetts electorate. another more disturbing characteristic may be observed in one particular comment they used. One of their “Republican” voices provided the most anti-Bush quotes of the batch, but it turns out that he isn't a “Republican” at all. The Chronicle quotes a lengthy tirade against Bush from J.C. Lanau. Mr. Lanau opens his comment by claiming to be a Republican then proceeds to pile on Bush with every imaginable grievance from every possible angle:
Let's talk about the real issues. As a Republican I am appalled to see $190 billion surplus turned into a $450 billion-plus deficit. But concerning Iraq ... I did not buy the president's lachrymose reference to his meeting with the family of a dead soldier. It was too phony for words. His performance was dismal, he kept repeating the same thing and appeared out of sync. I found Senator Kerry much more poised and efficient in his delivery. I am convinced we will lose this election and probably deserve it. Iraq was a mistake, Iraq is in shambles...we have destabilized the Middle East, our credibility is at low ebb.
Put another way, Bush = bad, Kerry = good and “we,” the Bush people, deserve to lose. Some Republican this guy is! Well this line all seemed a little too fishy even for the Chronicle's low editing standards. Sure enough, the Chron's star “Republican who dislikes the Republican candidate” insta-pundit is not a Republican by any measure! Under Texas Law Mr. Lanau is a formally affiliated member of the Democratic Party, having voted in both the 2002 and 2004 Democrat Primaries and thus also having the word “Democrat” stamped across his voter registation card. Of course the Chron also gives us the analysis of Tom Pugh, a “conservative” who just happens to be voting for the guy with the most liberal senate voting record in the country. Word is they also have a bridge in Brooklyn up for sale.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 01, 2004, 06:42 PM

Astros win 2004 World Series - it's destiny

By Dan Patrick

The Astros will get underway in less than an hour to begin their series with the Rockies. As they enter this weekend they are tied with the Giants. The Astros will win the wildcard race and they will advance to the World Series. I think they will also win that series and become champions after one of the most improbable seasons in Astro and baseball history. The Astros have played the best baseball in either league since mid-August. However, it is still a miracle that they are going to make the playoffs. In mi-August they trailed 4 other teams by as much as 6 games. Even if the Astros could win 17 out of 20, 15 in a row at home and come up with every clutch hit, diving catch and key pitching performance in team history, it was unlikely that all of the four teams ahead of them would falter; that's exactly what happened. The Marlins faded, as did the Padres, as the Astros kept winning. The Giants had a chance to sweep the Astros and close out Houston, but could not win the last game, keeping the Astros hopes alive. The Cubs were still the team to beat and only last week it didn't look possible that the Astros could over-take Chicago. Houston trailed the Cubs by a few games. Chicago had a few games to make up. And with a Cubs schedule that had the lowly Mets and Reds on tap for 7 games, the Cubs were in perfect position to increase the lead and put the wildcard crown out of reach for Houston. Then destiny struck. The Cubs had a win in the bag last Saturday against the Mets. With two out and two strikes on a batter, who had never hit a major league homerun, the Cubs closer gave up a 3 run homer that tied the game. The Mets won in extra innings. Then a few days later, the Cubs had another game in the bag and gave up a homer in the 9th to the Reds; once again with two out and two strikes. The Cubs went on to lose 3 games in extra innings in 4 days to two of the worse teams in baseball. Meanwhile, Jeff Bagwell dribbled a ball 20 feet down the third base line that defied foul territory, putting him on first after a single by Beltran. That set up a Berkman homerun to win the game. Two nights ago, the Cards had runners on first and third with none out in a 2-1 game. The Reds pitcher lined a sure hit to center that would have opened up a big inning. Somehow Beltran caught the line drive and made an acrobatic throw to the plate for a double play. The runner was clearly safe at the plate, but the ump made a bad call; call it destiny. Now the Astros are poised to make the playoffs playing the best baseball in the majors. Oswalt and Clemens are the two best pitchers in baseball. With solid defense, hot bats and one of the top relief pitchers in the game, the Astros are the team to beat. So you see, I'm not a homer with unrealistic expectations, I just know when the odds are in your favor and the stars are in alignment. It's called destiny. In just a few weeks the Astros will be crowned World Champions!

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 05:32 PM

Bush HQ in Washington state burglarized

By Matt Bramanti

The eruption of Mount St. Helens isn't the only explosive news to come out of the Evergreen State. Thursday night, burglars broke into the Washington state headquarters for President Bush's campaign, stealing three laptops with sensitive political plans.
Missing are laptop computers used by the campaign's executive director, the head of the get-out-the-vote effort and one that had been set for delivery to the campaign's Southwest Washington field director, said Jon Seaton, executive director of the state's George W. Bush campaign. (snip) State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance called it a “Watergate-style break in” and said he suspects Democrats are behind it. “If you're just some burglar looking for computers to sell to buy drugs you take every laptop in the office maybe,” he said. “But they knew exactly whose computers to get. They got the executive director's computer and the get-out-the-vote director's computer.”
Now, this could be just a “third-rate burglary.” I could also win the lottery while being struck by lightning.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 02:23 PM

Mount St. Helens erupts

By Matt Bramanti

(Photo courtesy of Drudge Report) Reports indicate a cloud of steam has erupted from the crater of Mount St. Helens in Washington.
A steam eruption has started at the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state. A cloud has risen above the crater rim. Earthquakes have rumbled under the volcano in recent days, and scientists said Friday they still believed there was a 70 percent chance of a small eruption. An eruption could shower the mountain with rocks, send up a cloud of ash, or ooze magma in the crater. But scientists do not expect a repeat of the 1980 blast, which killed 57 people.
We pray the scientists are right.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 01:05 PM

Re: The Chron's anti-gun screed

By Owen Courrèges

I read Matt Bramanti's post below on the Chronicle's latest anti-gun screed with total dismay. The Chron's logic is utterly simplistic, and ultimately quite flawed, but what struck me the most was their reckless misuse of statistics:
Typically, the impulse to keep a shotgun under the bed or a pistol in the night-table drawer reflects nothing more than a parent's wish to fend off intruders. But it's an impulse, not a rational decision. Unfortunately, the very presence of a gun in a household markedly increases the risk of a homicide taking place in that house — anywhere from 30 percent to 300 percent.
Wow! Having a gun in the household increases the risk of a homicide taking place from 30 to 300 percent? That would be pretty impressive, if it were remotely accurate. First of all, as I have repeatedly said in the past: correlation is not causation. For all we know, gun owners could be concentrated in higher crime areas, which would certainly go a long way to explaining why they have guns to begin with. But living in a high crime area may also increase your chances of getting killed overall. That's just speculation, and it may be wrong. But here's an analogy; it is a fact that ice cream sales correlate with crime rates. Does this mean the police should run around shutting down ice cream stands because they're obviously causing crime? Heck no. The truth is that crime increases in warm weather for a variety of other reasons. More people are outside wearing less clothing, which makes for more opporunities. Juveniles are out of school. Warm weather makes people more agitated. The list goes on. But the Chronicle's statistic is also flawed in one other respect — it doesn't explain how these homicides occur. Do they occur with the gun kept in the home, or is the gun from an outside perpetrator? In cases where the gun kept in the home is used, why is it used? Is it in a family fight, an accidental shooting, what? I know that I wouldn't plan to shoot anybody save an intruder. So why would anyone forgo buying a gun for their home in the expectation that they'd shoot a family member with malicious intent? Nobody expects to do that. It's like refusing to buy a car because it makes you more likely to intentionally run over innocent people. Alas, the Chronicle's simple-mindedness doesn't end there. This line particularly sounds like it was written by a kindergartner:
Gun owners are not inherently violent, but guns, when they are fired, can be lethal. Any mistakes, whether by a curious three-year-old or a fearful dad, are likely to be permanent.
Guns can be lethal when fired? Thank goodness I have the Chronicle around to tell me this! All this time I've been shooting people and wondering: “Why on earth do they slump over dead?” That may sound flippant given the seriousness of the subject matter, but the Chronicle did not see fit to write a serious editorial. Their argument seems to be that because guns can be lethal, people shouldn't own them. That naive simplicity could be used against any number of useful objects. Having steak knives in the kitchen probably makes it more likely that I'll injure myself. But since I want to cut my steak, and I have no plans of accidently lopping off my fingers, it's perfectly rational for me to own steak knives. But hey, if you don't like my argument, here's a link to a more statistically-based refutation of the gun/homicide correlation. Go nuts.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 01, 2004, 12:50 PM

Update: CBS' Mapes supports forged memo study

By Phil Magness

The Dallas Observer is reporting that embattled CBS News producer Mary Mapes has been forwarding a fraudulent study by Dr. David E. Hailey. The pseudo-academic study purports to confirm that of the Rathergate memos were produced on a typewriter, contrary to overwhelming evidence. Hailey's study was analyzed and quickly debunked by bloggers after appearing on the web earlier this week. The study contains evidence of its own forgeries and photoshop editing to “replicate” the CBS memos by what was orginally claimed to be a typewriter. Hailey has since altered the study, suggesting his replication efforts were done by computer. From yesterday's Dallas Observer:
CBS News didn't return calls for comment, and Mapes declined to discuss Hodges' charges. “I can't, I just can't,” she says. But she did forward a study by Utah State University Associate Professor David Hailey disputing the contention that the memos were created on a word processor using digital type rather than a '70s-era typewriter--the key challenge to their authenticity. “I really believe they are not digitally produced,” Hailey says. “I'm not saying that they're authentic. I'm saying they were probably typewritten. That doesn't make them authentic. But it does take CBS off the hook a little bit.”
Nice try, Mary, but your new source has been busted just like the last one. You'd think they would learn...

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 12:30 PM

Contrary Kerry

By M. Wildes

Last night, in the battle between the mind-numbing stiff and left it at home, it became apparent, that after flip-flopping for months on every issue, John Kerry has settled into a master plan of proclaiming whichever position he thinks is opposite of the President’s. However, the problem for Kerry is that after misleading voters as to Bush’s positions for so long, he does not know what Bush's positions actually are. He ends up trapped in contradiction. For Iraq, Kerry wants to form international alliances (he has been telling us for months that Bush has not done this), but for North Korea he wants to go it alone (dumping Bush’s diplomacy efforts which include other nations in the region). Finally, he wants to give Iran nuclear fuel and technologies in an effort to placate them (because that worked so well with North Korea?). Kerry's problem is compounded by the fact that Bush’s positions are consistent. Bush favors international diplomacy and working with other nations in every situation, but if diplomacy fails and the risk is too high, then we must work with our willing allies to take care of any situation. As for the debate, let’s use a bad football analogy. Nobody scored last night in this year-long match up. Bush is up by a touchdown. Bush has the ball on Kerry’s 40-yard line. Kerry held his ground last night, but Bush lost no yardage. It is second and ten with time running out.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 11:46 AM

Chron: gun ownership 'not a rational decision'

By Matt Bramanti

Here we go again. The Chronicle's editorial board shows its anti-gun colors once more, as they write this piece accusing gun owners of being trigger happy and irresponsible.
Typically, the impulse to keep a shotgun under the bed or a pistol in the night-table drawer reflects nothing more than a parent's wish to fend off intruders. But it's an impulse, not a rational decision. Unfortunately, the very presence of a gun in a household markedly increases the risk of a homicide taking place in that house — anywhere from 30 percent to 300 percent.
I get a little suspicious when I see a huge range in a statistic and no citation to back it up. At best, it reflects the author's laziness. At worst, it's baseless and misleading speculation. The recent occurrences of parents mistaking their children for intruders have produced tragic results. But blaming guns in homes is an ignorant response. In one case, the weapon in question wasn't even kept in the home. The Chron's editors, of course, ignore that fact, since it doesn't help their case. Furthermore, the Chronicle distorts existing, documented statistics to further its own agenda.
To the Texan organizing a playdate with another child's parents, the question sounds odd, even insulting: “Do you keep a gun in your house?” a parent who did not grow up in Texas will ask. In a city that so easily absorbs out-of-towners, the awkward inquiry is one of the enduring marks of cultural difference between the gun-owning West and the less guncentric Midwest and Northeast.
This brings up a few questions. Namely, where does the South fit into the Chron's little geography lesson? I don't know how the Chron compiles its guncentricity figures, but I know how ABC does:
Large majorities in all demographic groups agree with the Justice Department's new view on gun rights, peaking among men, whites, Republicans and residents of the South and Midwest.
For people who slam irrational behavior, the Chron's editors aren't making a lot of sense.

Permalink | Chron Bias

October 01, 2004, 09:29 AM

The Gallup insta-poll: Kerry wins debate; Bush appears stronger leader

By Owen Courrèges

According to Gallup's snapshot poll of registered voters who watched the debate, Kerry beat Bush 53% to 37%. That's a solid, 16 point margin-of-victory, which is significant even in a poll with a relatively large margin-of-error (4 points). Kerry 'won.' That's the end of the story, right? Well, no. Gallup also gauged the debate with six other measures. Kerry won one of them handily ('expresses himself more clearly'), tied on one other, and lost on every single other factor. Ouch. Even worse for Kerry, only 37% of Americans felt that he “demonstrated he is tough enough for the job,” compared to 54% for Bush. Here's my opinion: This was a debate on foreign policy. Kerry came across as more articulate, which 'won him the debate,' so to speak. Yet Bush came across as more likable, more credible, and as a far stronger leader than Kerry. So I will reiterate: I think that overall, Bush won.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 08:48 AM

New Poll

By The Staff

We have a new poll question up today: “What is your opinion on last night's debate?” You can answer this question here. The results from our previous poll are here.

Permalink | Staff Notes

October 01, 2004, 07:45 AM

America's latest craze - making yourself look stupid on television

By Dan Patrick

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of these morons who stand behind people being interviewed on television, making fools of themselves in the background. The latest craze is to be on your cell phone talking to someone in TV land who tells them when they are on camera. Then they talk to them, while they are in the background TV shot, laughing and acting stupid. You also see these people at news and sports events. Just watch the next Astros game. There are always a few people sitting behind home plate talking on their cell phone and looking stupid. These aren't kids. For the most part these folks are adults. At the conventions I saw the same people moving from reporter to reporter, with cell phone in hand, appearing on various networks. They were back out in force last night after the debate. Do these people realize that they are not only distracting from the main action in front of the camera, but that they are making fools of themselves at the same time? Most of America doesn't know who these people are, but somebody does. Their friends and family members need to tell them they look like idiots and to knock it off.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 04:04 AM

Rathergate II - liberal professor forges study to defend the forgeries!

By Phil Magness

Wizbang blog has uncovered a new chapter in the Rathergate story. Approximately three days ago a Dr. David E. Hailey of Utah State University posted an academic-looking “study” of the forged Rathergate memos on his university website server. Hailey offered his expert opinion and purported to conclude that the documents were not forgeries after all by way of what appeared to be scientific examination. He purported to replicate the memos by way of a typewriter, including the infamous “th” superscript. Reports from the blogosphere suggest that several major media outlets including the Boston Globe were about to seize on Hailey's new study as vindication for Dan Rather and their own respective national guard stories. And they probably would have done so except for one key thing: Hailey's study itself now appears to be a forgery! The superscript he “replicated” shows evidence of photoshopping when zoomed in and it now appears that, rather than employing a typewriter to replicate the documents, he used a computer font that mimics a typewriter (which begs the question of why he even bothered to begin with considering that bloggers have been doing that as proof of the forgeries since the day after CBS' broadcast). Hailey was also tipped off to the blogger discrediting of his study and hastily changed it to hide the evidence of fraud...but not before several screen captures were taken of his website. We'll keep an eye on this one as it unfolds.

Permalink | News and Views

October 01, 2004, 12:30 AM

President reluctant to attack Kerry - a big mistake

By Dan Patrick

If you watched my comments on channel 2 last night, you know that I felt the President did not deliver a knock out blow to Kerry. I thought the President looked tired, ran out of talking points mid-way through the debate, and most importantly, refused to be critical of Kerry. The President had many opportunities to slam Kerry on his anti military record since returning from Vietnam and continuing through his senate career. The President said he didn’t like Kerry’s senate record, but did not elaborate. The President should have lain out, vote by vote, all the military programs Kerry voted against. He could have used this against Kerry’s argument that he is a strong advocate of the military. The President could have criticized Kerry’s anti military actions after coming home from Vietnam and how that could impact morale now. The President could have pointed to the fact that Kerry missed 75% of the intelligence meetings after 9-11; he did not. The President simply did not engage. The President focused on selling a positive message on why he should be elected and seldom criticized Kerry. Kerry not only sold his own message on why he should be elected, but he also attacked the President on almost every question. Kerry’s points often scored because the President did not respond. In the end, this one debate will not cost the President the election. However, instead of ending the race, the democrats and Kerry have been energized. The next two debates between Bush and Kerry will be important. The President will no doubt come back with a stronger attack on Kerry in rounds two and three. While many democrats are celebrating Kerry’s win in the debate, almost every poll shows him being declared the winner, that does not mean his message changed many minds or votes. Kerry’s message was one of globalism, the President’s message focused on an “America First” policy. In the key battleground states in the Midwest, the “America First” message will resonate with the majority of voters.

Permalink | News and Views

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