Friday, December 30, 2005

Kathi Thomas for Texas Senate

More on election filings. Kathi Thomas an activist from Dripping Springs will be filing against Jeff Wentworth in Senate District 25.

I don't know much about Thomas, but she is one of a recent list of announcements. Currently the Northside of San Antonio has John Courage for CD21, Rick Bolanos for CD 23, Larry Stallings for HD122, and now Thomas in SD 25. This is in conjunction with David Liebowitz in HD 117 running for re-election.

It appears the Run Every Race crowd is getting more expansive by the day.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Democratic Primary in HD 122

Frank Corte went from having no opponent since 1992 to having a possible Democratic primary in House District 122.

The buzz on the street is that current Democratic County Chair sees a chance to move up to a paid position and an opportunity in HD 122. Rudy Casias is definitely not running for re-election as the County Chair, but is eyeing the HD 122 race.

Larry Stallings stepped up when nobody would, myself included, and I respect the work he is doing. A primary challenge will help identify who the democrats in the area are and will make the general a little easier.

However, Casias's recent court problems and problems with the County Executive Committee will make him a very weak candidate.

More as it develops...

More on Texas/Oklahome Wildfires

To say it has been a warm, dry winter would be an understatement and according the National Weather Service this was nearly inevitable.

Severe drought, wind gusts of 40 mph and temperatures reaching the low 80s earlier this week set the stage for the fires in Texas and Oklahoma, which authorities believe were mostly set by people ignoring fire bans and burning trash, shooting fireworks or throwing out cigarettes. At least 73 blazes were reported in Texas over two days, and dozens more broke out in Oklahoma.

While the wind and high temperatures eased after the outbreak of fires Tuesday, the SEARCH
National Weather Service
predicted a return of the hazardous conditions on Saturday — prompting fears that New Year's fireworks could spark another round of fires.

With New Years coming up, North Texas and parts of Oklahoma are still very at risk.

While the wind and high temperatures eased after the outbreak of fires Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicted a return of hazardous conditions on Saturday — prompting fears that New Year's fireworks could spark another round of fires.

"It's not going to be a good day to throw up fireworks," meteorologist Alan Moller said. "This could lead to some really nasty fires."

There is a bit of confusion of the total amount of damage done, but this round is out and under control.

Remnants of several of the burned-out houses still smoldered Wednesday evening, blanketing the air with a smoky haze and burning odor. Texas Gov. Rick Perry planned to survey the Cross Plains damage by air Thursday.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management had said there were four deaths in the state, but Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said Thursday those figures were wrong and there were only three.

The grass fires destroyed more than 100 buildings across Texas, including 78 homes, the state emergency management agency said. About 50 homes were destroyed in Oklahoma, authorities said.

Among the Oklahoma fires was one in Seminole County that burned more than 9,000 acres and 50 homes, said Herbert Gunter, the county's emergency management director.

This year has been the fifth-driest year on record for north and central Texas, where most of the fires happened. The annual rainfall in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is about 16 inches less than the average of about 35 inches. Oklahoma has received about 24 inches of rain this year, about 12 inches less than normal.

The Agonist On-Air

John Courage, along with David Van Os will be on 550 KTSA tonight. Check out The Agonist for show details.

John will be on the air and in the studio for one hour. So, PLEASE CALL IN IF YOU WANT TO. 599-5555 or 800-299-KTSA The live stream is This is a great chance for Texas progressives to be heard on AM talk radio.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rick Bolanos Announcement Today

From the Jeffersonian

Henry Bonilla will get his first opponent:
Rick Bolanos Announcement For 23rd Congressional District Seat
28 Dec 2005 (Wed), 1PM
Omni Hotel, 9821 Colonnade Bllvd
Please invite your friends!!
For more information call 915-630-3036

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Texas State of Emmergency

After spending my holiday in the Dallas/Fort Worth area this is sad but not surprising. Kennedale in Tarrant County had a severe grass fire occur today.

Perry's office said 73 fires were being fought around the state as of Monday, mostly in North and Central Texas. His office didn't have an updated number Tuesday because the situation is "in flux." There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

One of the largest fires was in Kennedale, a bedroom community of about 6,100 people just south of Fort Worth. Large plumes of white smoke rose above the town. Television footage showed homes damaged, outbuildings in flames and residents spraying hoses and dumping buckets of water at the fire.

Fort Worth Fire Department Lt. Kent Worley said the department was helping battle the blaze in Kennedale, which jumped U.S. Highway 287 and prompted officials to temporarily shut it down.

In Arlington, fires threatened new housing developments and apartment complexes. Strong winds were the biggest obstacle for about 20 firefighters trying to contain the blaze, Deputy Fire Marshal Keith Ebel said.

The situation is under control at this point, but the unusually hot winter has caused these fires.

"It was a matter of time this was going to happen," Ebel said. "By no means are we out of the woods. This fire's just occurred in one small area of town. We have a whole lot of other areas."

They are not just in Tarrant, but fire chiefs and emergency response to have their plan in place and working.

In Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, a fire near Canyon Creek forced at least 100 people to evacuate, said Jerry Lind, chief deputy for the Hood County Sheriff's Office. He said several structures were on fire, and propane tanks have exploded.

Cities where fires were reported included Colleyville, Boyd, Joshua and Denton. Blazes were also reported in counties including Parker, Hood and Tarrant.

Perry's disaster declaration activates the state emergency management plan and authorizes the deployment of any forces, equipment or supplies required for the response.

The governor deployed four Texas Army National Guard helicopters, and obtained two air tankers and two helicopters from the U.S. Forest Service.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays!

I am currently in Dallas, so expect very light posting until Monday or Tuesday. I did want to take this time and ask for a couple of things for the holidays.

First, donate to John Courage. I want a new Congressman, and I am tired of Lamar Smith.

Second, donate to Larry Stallings. Stallings is an amazingly passionate candidate and if only 40% of that gets to the legislature, then we will have 100% more passion than Frank Corte is giving us now. Plus, like John Courage, we will have an amazingly talented person in office.

Third, get active after New Years. Find your candidate and give them your time, experience, and make a difference in your community. Running for precinct chair, electing a president of your neighborhood association, or getting involved in a political campaign at any level makes huge impact for many years after the campaign is over.

Finally, enjoy your family, friends, food, and football. Charlie Brown has taught me much. Christmas and the holiday seasons are not about the presents, nor is it about the wrapping paper or the stress. This time of year is the time we should all sit together and simply enjoy the moment.

I wish you all very Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is Safe

I did a little work for the Alaska Coalition, so I have been keeping my eye on the Defense Budget Bill all day today.

The day started with the Democrats and moderate Republicans whipping votes and trying to secure a 60 vote majority to ensure a filibuster.


Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska attached the measure to a $453 billion defense-spending bill that pays for U.S. troops and Top of FormSEARCH
Bottom of Form Pentagon weapons programs in the coming year. Furious Democrats threatened to block the measure with a filibuster, saying the ANWR measure has no connection to military spending and violates Senate rules.

That’s right! There are still two budget appropriation bills that have not been done for the year, which means that our troops and our medical systems are still yet to be funded. The House has gone on recess for the year and now the Senate is right behind them, and we still have not funded our war in Iraq and Afghanistan. All because of back door scheme to slip drilling (at any cost) into an unrelated bill.

No worries though. Democrats successfully rallied a bipartisan effort to reject the bill this afternoon. So Senator Stevens will simply take the rider off the budget bill to ensure our troops get the tools they need, right?

Not likely.

Stevens, who has fought since the 1980s to pry open the refuge, gave mixed signals. Initially he said he would drop ANWR from the bill if Democrats successfully filibustered it, but later said he would force the entire bill to be renegotiated. (AP)

What did the Democrat’s have to say?

"Our military is being held hostage by this issue, Arctic drilling," fumed Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader. The Nevada Democrat said the Senate could move quickly to pass the defense bill once the refuge issue was resolved.

"We all agree we want money for our troops. ... This is not about the troops," said Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), a strong critic of letting oil development disturb the refuge in northeastern Alaska.

In the end the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was saved until Senator Stevens tries again.

Keep in mind, not only was this irresponsible by Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist and the Republican majority, but it is also bad environmental policy

Because this bill was rejected by Republicans and Democrats (including Frist himself) there will be some major political fall out.

For a half-dozen Republicans who have long opposed ANWR drilling, the defense bill represented a difficult choice. Few politicians wanted to be seen rejecting a defense bill that pays the salaries of U.S. soldiers in SEARCH
Iraq. The defense bill also includes funding for Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, the potential bird flu pandemic and a program that helps poor families pay winter heating bills.

In the end, Steven’s caused all this because of hope of getting six months of oil years from now. This is such a insignificant amount of oil that it would do NOTHING to decrease the cost of gas.

Instead, fair minded Republicans and Democrats worked to protect an entire eco-system. Which has been described as calving ground for caribou and home to polar bears, musk oxen, and the annual influx of millions of migratory birds.

Today I am very proud of what the Senate was able to do.

Injunction Filed to Stop Illegal Toll way

Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AQUA) and People for Efficient Transportation (PET) are moving to round two.

Today, AQUA and PET filed an injunction in federal court to hault the state action converting US 281 into an unwanted toll way.
This injunction is the next logical step following a lawsuit filed by AGUA and PET on December 1, 2005 that asserts that an Environmental Impact Statement should have been prepared for the expansion of highways over the recharge zone. In the meantime, TxDOT has been clearing trees and vegetation from the right of way.
Not long ago both groups filed for an environmental impact analysis to be done, but the state and the courts are both dragging their feet. Annalisa Peace says that people are already hearing and seeing the problems with the Tran-Texas Corridor.
“People are already experiencing increased traffic noise levels in their neighborhoods due to the loss of trees in the proposed right of way.” said Annalisa Peace, Vice President of AGUA. “Unless we stop this project soon, irreparable damage will be done to this sensitive area and its residences and businesses.” Documents filed by the Texas Department of Transportation show that residences will experience noise levels from the toll road in excess of federal health standards. At these levels, traffic noise is more than a nuisance, it causes hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular and physiological effects, and mental health effects. Not surprisingly, residential property values plummet.

Unlike most injunctions, AQUA and PET sees actual viable solutions to this problem, and want some time to see an environmental impact study and talk through a better plan.
“TxDOT already has a lower cost and less damaging plan than what they are building, “said Bill Barker, local transportation consultant, “and there are other options that would probably be even cheaper and quicker to build while in the long term helping to preserve the residential character and natural assets of the Hill Country. It doesn’t make sense that a massive, 16-lane toll road is the only feasible alternative.”

"The US 281 project is totally funded by taxpayer dollars, and the charging of an unnecessary toll by TxDOT will only hurt local businesses and residents who have invested in the corridor. This is double taxation and taxation without representation.” said Sal Costello, founder of People for Efficient Transportation Inc. “It is time for people to stand up to the special interests who will profit from these tolls.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Something Fun

Your Political Profile

Overall: 15% Conservative, 85% Liberal

Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

And Then There Were Two...

...bloggers that it is.

Let me introduce Glenn. Glenn is a close friend and young local activist in San Antonio. Glenn has started a youth focused political action committee, worked on a presidential campaign, has been involved in a handful of local campaigns, and is generally outspoken about politics in Texas and the country.

After hearing him rant about Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens and his back door scheme of getting arctic drilling in the defense bill, I told Glenn he had to start writing here at JAB.

Glenn will not post frequently, but I am sure he will post jewels.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Victor Morales Is In

The Jeffersonian breaks the story, but the long and short of it is Morales is in.

The Jamie Castillo has this at the Express-News:

The Crandall schoolteacher, who first made headlines by crisscrossing the state in a white pickup in a 1996 bid to unseat then-Sen. Phil Gramm, said he will officially file his candidacy Thursday in Austin.

His entrance into the race comes two weeks before the Jan. 2 candidate-filing deadline and months, even years, behind the typical schedule for a major congressional campaign.

" What is the problem of giving the people of District 28 another choice?” the Pleasanton native asked during a swing through San Antonio. “Let the people make their choice and if it's not meant to be, I can live with it.”

The two primary combatants in the race – Rep. Henry Cuellar and Ciro Rodriguez – have been politicking for the position since Cuellar won the seat in a disputed 2004 election.

And both should have significant fundraising advantages over Morales, who plans to commute from his North Texas home during the primary campaign. There is no residency requirement for congressional candidates.

I have said it before and I will say it again, this hurts Rodriguez’s fundraising but should mobilize the troops after March. Morales should have some pretty good name recognition, but Cuellar is the incumbent and Rodriguez has been campaigning since he lost.

My prediction is that Morales increases turnout and gets in a dog fight to be the second guy in a three man race. Rodriguez will squeak past Morales who is running on the “these guys stink” strategy.

There is no way Rodriguez will not raise as much money now, but Morales will invigorate the progressive and anyone but Cuellar and help push Rodriguez to a narrow victory.

The most important thing is that Morales will be talking to people that aren’t the targeted voting machines that Rodriguez and Cuellar will be hitting with direct mail, phonebanks, and blockwalking.

He is the picture of helping the party by expanding the base and while I am confident in my predictions, when you create new voters you never know exactly what will happen.

I am very excited to watch CD 28 over the next few months.

Wilderness Society- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Drilling

Take Action -- URGENT!!
Arctic Refuge Drilling Added to Unrelated Defense Bill -- Your Calls Still Needed

Last night pro-drilling members of Congress took the outrageous step of adding Arctic Refuge drilling to the unrelated appropriations bill that provides funds for the Department of Defense and relief for the states suffering from hurricane Katrina. The House leadership then pushed the bill, with Arctic Refuge drilling added, through the House of Representatives.

The bill now goes to the Senate. Please call your Senator immediately and let them know that they should do everything in their power to remove Arctic drilling provisions from the Defense Appropriations bill so that it can be passed.

Talking points are below. Phone calls are urgently needed. Even if you have never called Congress before, we ask you to do so today. And if you've called in the last few days, please do so again -- and then ask your friends and family to make calls as well.

Your Senators and their phone numbers are:

Sen. Kay Hutchison
(202) 224-5922

Sen. John Cornyn
(202) 224-2934

This maneuver, made on the brink of a holiday recess, is evidence that pro-drilling forces will go to any lengths to pass their controversial pet projects. They are willing to complicate the passage of funding for our troops and for hurricane relief to further their personal agenda.

The Senate can quickly call a halt to this pre-holiday brinksmanship and ensure passage of defense and hurricane relief funds by voting to reject the addition of Arctic Refuge drilling to this bill. There are likely to be several votes in the next few days that provide the opportunity to take the arctic drilling provisions out and move the defense and hurricane relief funding provisions expeditiously.

Talking Points for calls to your Senators:

If you've never called before, it's easy. You'll either leave a message with a staff member, or on a voice message machine. Some points to make:

  • It is outrageous that Arctic Refuge drilling has been slipped into the defense appropriations bill. This kind of legislative action is the height of cynicism and bad politics. Major national policy priorities must not be hijacked for the sake of personal political agendas.
  • Drilling proponents have shown time and again that they are willing to do or say anything to get their hands on the Arctic Refuge. Nevertheless, this takes them to a new low. It would be particularly tragic if one of our last wild places were sacrificed through such an unprincipled ploy.
  • A vote to remove the arctic drilling provision does not threaten funding for the troops, but rather is a vote to move defense funding quickly and in the normal course of business.
  • Please do everything in your power to remove this provision from the defense bill and show your constituents that these cynical, last minute maneuvers are not the way the Senate does business.

Multimedia Monday!

Since my hard drive decided to die again… I spent a lot of time watching DVD’s this week. There is nothing more relaxing than popping in a movie, opening up a beer, and doing data entry. Sadly, this is my idea of a relaxing evening.

Movie(s) of the Week:
Batman Begins
40 Year Old Virgin

Book of the Moment:
Legislative Rule Book- I know what you are all thinking… and I agree.

Album of the Hour:
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall- If you are a jazz fan, then you need this album. This is an album that was "unearthed" at the Library of Congress, and it has quickly become one of my favorite Jazz albums

Any suggestions for the holidays?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Weekend Wrap Up

This is now my third “new” hard drive in 6 months. This is the fun part of working with a laptop I guess. Since I have been gone a lot has happened. Here is a brief re-cap of what has happened this week:

1) Bob Gammage is running for Governor and is starting to put together staff.

2) John Courage is the Progressive Patriot.

3) David Liebowitz is running for re-election.

4) There are a couple of people running for Uresti’s old house seat in HD 118. However, none of them stand out as the candidate.

5) Larry Stallings continues to impress with a brand new website.

6) Victor Morales may be in, but Richard Raymond is definitely out in CD 28.

7) And the Indianapolis Colts will not be undefeated this season.

8) John Spencer of West Wing fame passed away Saturday.

The most amazing thing to me is the milestone JAB hit on Friday. Thanks to you all, we have hit the 5,000 hit mark. It's nothing compared to some, but it means a lot and I hope to hit 5,000 more soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

CD 28- Richard Raymond OUT!

And then there were two?

Richard Raymond announced today that he will be seeking re-election for his state legislative seat. Raymond contends that the Supreme Court case in June or July and the failing education system in Texas dictate his return to the house. I doubt it.

This leaves Henry Cuellar and Ciro Rodriguez as the two remaining candidates for now.

The real speculation has to be one of two things. One, Raymond was number three in a three man race and the thought of being $200k in the hole (San Antonio Express-News) was too scary to deal with. Or two, the rumor is true and Victor Morales is about to run. If Morales runs, then Raymond goes from last in a three man race to dead last with no way to recoup his funds.

No matter what, this is good news for Cuellar and eh news for Rodriguez. The announcement gives Rodriguez a window to raise money as the "anybody but Cuellar" candidate, but if and when Morales announces his candidacy those hopes fly out the window. For Cuellar it eliminates the Conservative vs. Conservative/Moderate match up. The votes Raymond was going to shark were going to mostly affect Cuellar. Not anymore. If Morales gets in the races, he is going to take votes from both men, and maybe more from Rodriguez.

Rodriguez needs to hope for this to stay a re-match, and Cuellar needs hope he can keep raising money and that Morales gets in and loses in the March primary.

All of a sudden this race just got very interesting...


Progressive Patriot Voting Ends at Midnight, December 14!

This is it! Thanks to your help, John is in the lead for the Feingold Progressive Patriot Poll.

The Progressive Patriot Award is an online competition between 11 Congressional candidates put on by the Progressive Patriots Fund (Senator Feingold's PAC) , and comes in the form of $5,000 for the campaign (to be spent in TEXAS) and a little bit of nice national recognition.

John currently leads Colleen Rowley of Minnesota by 3 points, 23%-20%!

Voting ends at MIDNIGHT, DECEMBER 14!

If you have not yet voted, please do so by clicking here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Texas Tuesday Two-fer

"Two-fer" Texas Tuesdays Update:

Apologies for the week off. Technical difficulties got the better of us, but we're back now with two candidates to profile for everyone. As usual, if you're a blogger, feel free to give the candidate some publicity on your blog. If you're not a blogger, feel free to share this email with a few dozen of your closest friends. And of course, everyone can donate to the candidates.

Mary Beth Harrell, candidate for Texas' 31st Congressional District, is the wife of a retired military officer and mother of two active-duty soldiers in the war on terrorism. She is running to restore the kind of accountability, integrity, and faith in the future the citizens of Central Texas demand – and deserve.

Recently, Mary Beth posted a must-read entry on DailyKOS upon sending her oldest son off to Iraq:
On the day the President delivered his speech to a captive audience of Naval Academy cadets, we said good-bye to our oldest boy, Rob, as he headed off for the war in Iraq. My husband, Bob, a Reagan Republican and retired Army warrant officer, was furious. He's fed up with the empty rhetoric that is sending our son to fight what we now know is a meaningless war.

My opponent, John Carter, recently called the war "a huge success." Over 2000 American soldiers killed. At least 15,000 wounded, many grievously. Over 200 billion of our tax dollars spent to invade and occupy Iraq, while the insurgency grows daily and the killing skyrockets.

I don't know one soldier who has served in Iraq - or any military family - who believes the Iraq war is a success.

Agree or disagree, one thing that Texans do deserve is a voice of those affected by the war in Iraq to be heard in the halls of Congress. We presently have the collective wisdom of the handpicked handmaidens of Craddick & DeLay heard in the Texas delegation. By helping candidates like Mary Beth Harrell get heard louder and more clearly in central Texas, we move the debate forward.
Mary Beth Harrell
for Congress

John Courage has already made his mark on the race for Texas' 21st Congressional District, going so far as to be nominated for Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriot Fund as a potential recipient of a $5,000 donation to the Courage for Congress treasury. Already, John has won the endorsement as Democracy for America's Grassroots All Star.

This is a two-fer opportunity in and of itself, since can donate directly to the Courage campaign and then help them earn another five grand by showing others that Texas is the front line in the battle against Tom DeLay's Congress. Do either quickly, though ... voting ends tomorrow.
John Courage
for Congress

Monday, December 12, 2005

Supreme Court to Hear Texas Redistricting Case

It appears that the Supreme Court is not done with the Texas redistricting cases, and Texas is not done with the Supreme Court (AP).

Three states (Colorado, Georgia, and Texas) redrew their boundaries mid-decade and none was more political than Texas. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) agreed to hear 4 of the remaining 7 cases on the issue of Texas redistricting.

SCOTUSblog has the details. BOR writer Jim Dallas has a great analysis of the first SCOTUS decision and KT Mussleman has the review.

In light of the recent Department of Justice claims that the redistricting suppresses minority voters (Washington Post), I doubt that the high court will simply toss it back down to Texas again, and some see the fact that the case is even being heard as promising. I remain weary. With Sandra Day O’Connor possibly being replaced by Alito and with the Chief Justice John Roberts still a big question mark, this could be a situation were the high court will simply take the cases to affirm the current standards.

If the court does do the shocking and overturns the Texas redistricting then what? How will this affect 2006 races?

While some districts were negatively affected for Democrats, Republicans had to pay the price in at least a few districts. Congressional District 21 went from being 14 counties in 2002 to just 5 now. This is definitely a benefit to Democratic challenger John Courage. However, overturning the current districts will help elect another Democrat in Martin Frost’s former Congressional District 32.

This is a bit premature, but if the Supreme Court rules against the redistricting do the districts automatically go back to the 2002 standards? Do we simply wait until the 2008 panel is commissioned to do the census again? What are the true impacts other than a new precedent established?

The two most important things in the 2006 elections seem to be happening in the courts. Tom DeLay’s trial and now this.

Gabe Quintanilla Bows Out of Judge Race

A week after announcing a desire to run for County Court Judge #1, former Bexar County Democratic Chair Gabe Quintanilla has decided not to run.

Here is his e-mail:

Last week, I announced that I would be seeking elective office toCounty Court Number One in the March, 2006 Democratic Primary.

This weekend, while doing research on Judge Alonso’s record, I have come to realize that the citizens of San Antonio indeed are fortunate to have a deeply religious, spiritual man in Judge Alonso. In researching his work on the Drug Court, I found a moving passage wherein Judge Alonso spoke from a deeply spiritual basis regarding his work with persons afflicted with alcohol and drug-related problems.

While I feel that I would have been a good judge, I admit that Judge Alonso’s spirituality makes the type of public servant in which we all should aspire. Please disregard my previous announcement and join with me in supporting Judge Al Alonso for another term as Judge of County Court Number One.

Gabe Quintanilla

Multimedia Monday!

Movie(s) of the Week:
Aeon Flux- I am going to go out on a limb and say this is the WORST MOVIE EVER! If you have to see this movie, go to Alamo Drafthouse or go with a bunch of friends that are okay with you talking all the way through it.

Rent- This on the other hand is a fantastic movie. It's not like Chicago, in the sense that the sort of hides the musical background of the film, instead they embrace the rock opera and it is amazing for that reason.

Book of the Moment:
To lazy to read this week

Album of the Hour:
I put my iPod on shuffle and sang loudly and off key.

What about you?

Mistrial in Houston Vioxx Case

The first of possibly 7,000 trials against Merck & Co ended in a mistrial this morning. The jury had been deliberating since Thursday and could not come to a unanimous decision on whether Vioxx had lead to the death of Richard Irvin Jr.

The unexpected outcome leaves Merck with a 1-and-1 record in state trials and an undecided in the first of four federal trials overseen by Fallon. The company faces about 7,000 pending state and federal lawsuits and its liability has been estimated at up to $50 billion.

In the first case, a Texas state jury slapped Merck with a $253 million verdict for negligence and for failing to warn of Vioxx dangers in the 2001 death of a Texas man who took the drug for eight months. In November jurors in Merck's home state of New Jersey absolved Merck of liability, leaving nothing for an Idaho man who survived a heart attack after taking the drug intermittently for two months. (AP)

This is good news for Merck is that they may have shown they have an edge in federal courts (which tend to be more business friendly). The bad news is this is not a clear win for the corporation that has already lost one trial.

Watch for the markets to rally for the pharmaceutical company a little. Merck has been hit hard the past few weeks because of patents expirations, and any sign of life will help. However, with 7,000 complaints filed and no verdict today, expect this to be one chapter in a very long story.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Reggie Bush Wins Heisman

Color me not surprised. The man was a machine this year, and the votes show it. Bush received 2,541 points to finish 933 points ahead of Young, with Leinart a distant third.

The 784 first-place votes received by Bush was the second-most in Heisman history, topped only by another famous USC runner O.J. Simpson, who had 855 in 1968. Bush was first in all six regions and appeared on 99 percent of the ballots, also a Heisman record. (AP)

I had hoped that Vince Young would surprise the world but alas, at 8 pm last night Reggie Bush took the coveted Heisman Trophy.

Congrats to Bush (probably the only time you will read that on this blog), but I am standing my Rose Bowl prediction. The Longhorns are going to go in there, and their defense will help push Texas to an upset. I LOVE this time of year!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

UTSA Makes it on CNN

Every now and then there is just nothing extra I can add...

Monday, December 05, 2005

John Courage: Progressive Patriot?

That depends on you (CLICK HERE TO VOTE!)... This came in from the Courage for Congress Campaign. Not long ago the blogosphere nominated, supported, and elected John Courage as the Democracy for America All-Star.

Now we need to do the same thing here:
John Courage was named one of 11 finalists for the Progressive Patriot award by the Progressive Patriot Fund, which is Senator Russ Feingold's PAC.

The winner receives $5,000 and a big leg up into receiving national attention and assistance. John could really use this money to help campaign in the district, and spend money in TEXAS!

All you need to do are two things:

Click this link:
to be taken to the voting location. Each user can only vote once, and must have a valid email address.


By spreading the word virally, to your email lists of friends, family and neighbors, John Courage can win this award.

In a campaign where we have a very legitimate chance to knock off "Tom DeLay's best friend..," we need to turn to you, TEAM COURAGE, for assistance with this effort.

Click that forward button, and send away!

John was incredibly honored and grateful for your help in becoming the Democracy for America Grassroots All-Star, and he is hoping that with the help of Team Courage, he can also attain the title of "Progressive Patriot."

Please let us know if you are helping to forward this request, so we can be informed as well as thank you. You can either forward this email, or write a personal note of your own. Either would be great!

Include in your list. We hope Nick's mailbox fills up fast!


If you are tired of the way things are, then you have a chance to make a difference. GO VOTE!

AQUA and PET File Lawsuit to Stop Toll Ways

Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AQUA) and People for Efficient Transportation (PET) filed a lawsuit Friday to request a environmental impact statement for the San Antonio section of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC). Read the release here.

The last environmental assessment done in the area was in 1984 before the TTC was started, but ground broke to actually build the "tolled freeways" last week with no impact statement being done.

Annalisa Peace puts it best when she describes the area and the reason for the lawsuit

The Edwards is a karst aquifer and therefore is highly vulnerable to water pollution because surface water quickly enters the aquifer through recharge features without significant filtration. Chlorinated solvents, toxic metals, and pesticides are regularly detected in the Edwards Aquifer, at times in concentrations that threaten human health and sensitive plants and animals. Many of these pollutants, such as benzene, are common components of highway run-off.

GEAA and AQUA has done amazing work in their short lives to protect the Edwards Aquifer. They have successfully advocated two different bonds to protect recharge land and Peace and Richard Alles were recently named activists of the year by the San Antonio Current.

Another group fighting the TTC is Corridor Watch. For more information on the TTC and its negative impacts visit Corridor Watch or check out B and B (a great environmental blog).

Here is the story in the Express News and Kuff has this post with some links of the greatest hits on the TTC. Something that just hit me is the possible ramification on this lawsuit too. NO impact analysis has been done yet, and if AQUA and PET win this, it could tie up the TTC well into next year.

The route is expansive to say the least, and an impact analysis would have to be done for the entire state if the state loses. This has the makings to be a huge issue for the 2006 election cycle because the municpal and county governments will be campaign contrary to the wishes of some state rep, state senator, and statewide races.

Joe Straus Seeks Re-Election

Rep Joe Straus (R) filed papers this past Saturday to run for re-election for HD 121. Straus won the seat after defeating Rose Spector (D) in a run-off. The seat was once held by Elizabeth Ames Jones who vacated the seat after being appointed to the Texas Railroad Commission.

Straus is a more moderate Republican that represents the northeastern part of San Antonio, and he is in a fairly safe seat. Currently Straus has no challengers from either party.

As a side note, this area seems ripe for interesting 2006 politics, as contests are fleshing out for HD 122, CD 21, possibly SD 25, and CD 28.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Texan of the Year: Carter Casteel

I am a little late on this, but...

Texan Of The Year: Blogger Style

State Representative Carter Casteel.

Rep Casteel is a moderate Republican who takes her job seriously and appreciates the chance to make the state better every day she serves her district and the Lone Star State.

Year after year she tirelessly attempts to pass legislation that would give counties more control on zoning and protecting their land. Session after session she attempts to foster compromise and consensus when bipartisanship is often a luxury that few try to foster. Rep Casteel is an impressive legislator in a time when we have to many politicians.

Rep Casteel took the time to answer a few questions, and rather than screening which questions intrest me, I have included them all for your enjoyment.

Congrats to Rep Casteel, and thanks to everyone involved.


That’s fine. That’s an admirable goal. Depending on how you count it.
But here’s the question…what is the classroom? Are you talking about the teacher, the aide, the nurse, the librarian, the counselor? You have to include some of the support for the teacher so the kid is in the classroom in the first place.

How does one balance voting one's district, one's party, and one's personal feelings when those three points are not all in line on a single issue?

I’ve got a brain and a background so I know that’s important to use.
I’m also in a district I’ve lived in for thirty something years. I have a fair understanding of my district, but it is critical that I communicate with my district. It is a struggle because you going to vote your district and your conscience and every two years you have to answer to them. I’m comfortable with my party platform.

What concerns me is how public education became a liberal issue!
That’s a conservative value.

I balance all those things and make my decision. It can offend people, but I can stand by my decisions. Don’t forget, I listen to the debate.


I think adequacy is still on the table and will come up in the next special session


Competitive teacher pay and health care benefits. I don’t think it’s fair to ask our teachers to help shape the future of Texas and not compensate them in a fair way.


I think everything is on the table. I’ve met with John Sharp and I believe we are all eager to see solutions that are fair from district to district. I think there is a growth and interest among the people of Texas that are paying attention and I think that is a good thing. People are concerned about our lack of progress and stepping up to the plate to get in front of the right people.


First of all, you just have to be honest about how you conduct yourself. You have to be a straight shooter and have the willingness to get along with people. You can’t agree with everyone all the time, but you have to be willing to talk and to listen. If God had intended for us to talk all the time he’d given us two mouths and one ear. Lastly, you have to have humor. You have to have the attitude that “I don’t care who gets the credit” you just have to care that it gets done. Dig in the mud and not care who cares who find the diamond ring.


How in the world can the Ed. Community communicate with the legislature without coming up there and talk to them. If you want to call it lobby, fine. But people go on their own time and write letters. People have made the same complaints against everybody that comes up to the legislature.
being said, I’d rather see my tax dollars being used to educate children. If that’s not happening, then I want my tax dollars to communicate with the legislature on behalf of what’s not happening. I don’t know what the rule is, but we’ll see if a rule is going to be proposed.

How is it being done? Can we invite the Education Community to the legislature in a different way? They’ve been shut out so maybe a lobbyist is the only way to get in the door.