Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why Texas Is Still Frakkin' Red

OK, I was at the Bexar County CEC meeting last night; and of course their was lots of talk about Ciro's campaign, complete with resolutions, checks being written (started by a whopping $2,000.00 check by the Courage campaign), the whole ball of wax. Gina Castaneda, his campaign director was there, and as usual, she reflected Ciro himself, being quiet, patient, courteous.

Then David Van Os showed up, to a show of respect I haven't seen in a while. Right in the middle of a vote, everybody stood up and clapped as he walked in the door. He courteously waited until the end of the meeting, asked for the floor, and then began to talk about how Boyd Ritchie and his cabal are sitting on their assses while Ciro is facing Bonilla's Army.

Ciro is facing that Army with loyal but exhausted troops who have not had one single bit of help from the TDP, now or during the Special Election, a fact verified by Gina. She said that the campaign has asked for help in the run-off, but Boyd says they have no money and no people to help. Ciro is on his own, folks, in the most important frakkin' election left this year, and no-frakkin'-body, from the TDP to the DCCC is doing shit about it.

David went on to say that all the candidates in Texas faced the same ho, hum during the election; the TDP entering no fray, sending no personnel to any candidate from Barbara Ann on down the ticket. He told us that after Gregg Abbott was caught using official equipment and personnel in his campaign material, they did nothing, even though he pleaded with them to issue a press release, come out against Abbott. They refused to back their own candidate! And this happened all over the ticket, all year long. And you know why?

It's because what the TDP fat-cats do is, they take our money and then send it out of state to the DCCC, the DSCC, the Big Boys'Campaigns and PACs. The national groups get fat and sleek while the Texas Democrats, fightin' at home, don't even get left-over WWII C rations. We have to make our own frakkin' ammo and our own frakkin' guns, while the TDP sends all the good shit to John Edwards, Rahm Emmanuel and the Beltway Boyz.
Shame on them for asking when we are in such dire straits, and shame, shame, shame on Boyd Frakkin' So-What-If-I-Left-A-Candidate's-Name-Off-The-Convention-Program Ritchie.

You know what to do. Look into those sad Ciro eyes, then send a check - one more this year - to the last Texan Standing.

Then, call these people today, and let them know what frakkin' tools they really are.

(Cross-posted on Texas Kaos)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The bitchin' is gonna begin, now.

Bills filed yesterday by Frank Corte:

HB 16 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to certain municipal development programs involving areas having characteristics of blight or a slum.

HB 17 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to the establishment of a pilot program to provide a ballot by electronic mail to military personnel serving overseas.

HB 18 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to creation of a public education voucher pilot program for certain children.


HB 19 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to a school choice program for certain students with disabilities.


HB 20 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to the expulsion of students for assault of school employees.

HB 21 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to informed consent to an abortion.


HB 22 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to the regulation of certain physician's offices where abortions are performed.


HB 23 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to disclosing information to persons obtaining emergency contraception.


HB 24 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to a fee on sales of alcoholic beverages in certain municipalities to fund fire and emergency services and related educational activities.

HB 25 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to punishment for the sale of an alcoholic beverage to a minor.

HB 26 Author: Corte, Frank
Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed
Caption: Relating to liability for injury arising from a motor vehicle accident.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Common Cents Up In Smoke

Some reposted goodness from the Larry For Lege blog with updates.

I think there are some things that we can all agree, unequivacably, are Bad. We may not always agree on how to fix these things, but we all agree there is a problem. Poverty is Bad. Hurricanes are Bad. Kicking puppies is Bad.

Smoking?

Isn't smoking Bad too?

I haven't met a person yet who thinks smoking is a really, really great idea. Even people I know who do smoke tell me it is the stupidest thing they have ever done, it makes them feel like sick, and dizzy and perpetually unable to breathe. It makes them smell like the bottom of a barroom floor and the money they have spent on cigarettes could have put all their kids through college. Twice.

They all want to quit. Everyone one of them. All of them who have been able to do so say it's the hardest thing they have ever done. I have a friend who is literally dying of cancer. It has crept through her whole body, was found in her spine this summer and moved into her brain this fall. She is currently living in a hospice facility and I wonder every day if this is the day she won't wake up.

But she still smokes.*

The following information comes from TxCancer.org:

In Bexar county, cancer was the second leading cause of death in 2000. An estimated one in three Texans will develop cancer sometime in their lifetime. It is estimated that up to 80% of all cancers may be preventable.

Tobacco related cancers are reponsible for 87% of lung cancers. Tobacco use also contributes Tobacco-Related Cancers. Smoking also associated with cancers of the
mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney, and bladder. Smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, is a major cause of heart disease (the first leading cause of death in Bexar County), cerebrovascular disease, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, and is associated with gastric ulcers.


If we can all agree that smoking is Bad, then why is our legislature doing so little to control it? Yeah, I know. It's a free country and we will never get rid of Big Tobacco but there are certainly things we can do to keep them in check. Some public servants fight for these checks and balances, but many others support Big Tobacco.

Why? When everyone agrees, even smokers themselves, that smoking is Bad, why are certain members of the lege still supporting these tobacco companies?

There is a really good study from the Center For Tobacco Control, Research, and Education about tobacco control policy making in Texas. The document is also 157 pages long so I distilled some of the main points for you.

The tobacco industry has been actively involved in Texas politics for over 25 years. Although their involvement extends as far back as the 1950s and 1960s, they solidified their position in the mid-1970s when Texas passed its first and only state Clean Indoor Air Act. From that time forward, the industry has attempted to buy influence in the legislature, recruit smokers and fund grassroots organizations, ensure that their product and company names are well known to school children and young adults, and defeat any smoking regulations introduced throughout the state. Only recently have substantial tobacco control efforts been sustained to work against
the tobacco industry’s influence. Most of the effective tobacco control efforts have been enacted at the local level by concerned community groups and public health advocates. The state legislature in Austin—a bastion for big money and big business—has not been consistent or committed to passing statewide smoking restrictions or tobacco control programs and public health groups have not been aggressive in pushing the legislature or administration to do so.


...

The role that tobacco industry campaign contributions play in this inactivity is difficult to determine. Texas has no contribution limits for individuals donors. While corporate contributions from inside the state are technically banned, corporations are allowed to create political action committees (PACs) and funnel money through these sources directly to the candidates. Corporations headquartered outside of the state are under no restrictions to create PACs or even report their donations to the Texas Ethics Commission, the organization which nominally tracks in-state contributions. Because of this situation, it is very difficult to represent
accurately the amount of tobacco (and other corporate) money that goes into Texas campaigns from the out-of-state tobacco companies.


...

The role of money and campaign contributions in Texas politics is pervasive and the tobacco industry is a large contributor to this atmosphere....The tobacco industry injects money into the system each year in the form of contributions to
legislators, political parties and lobbying expenses.



Now starting on page 12, of this document is an actual Phillip-Morris memo about how they are going to continue to target the Texas Lege:

House: We will always concentrate on the Senate but there are things we can do in the House that will be of major benefit to us. We will continue to cater to the Speaker [Gib Lewis] and his pet projects, as well as to the five or six committee chairs that have and will help us. We must keep in mind that one of these committee chairs will be speaker in 1993. That covers leadership changes, now for specifics.

We will spend $16,000 in Sept. - Dec. 1989 and will request another $15,000 for 1990. We will concentrate on the races for Governor, Comptroller, key Senators, and key House Committee chairs. Where profitable, we will also give to Republican House races because those types are more likely to be “no new taxes” candidates....

Events: In Texas, some events are worthwhile, but the benefits are so much greater with trips and campaign contributions. I give out tickets to PM events and they are much appreciated but don’t have much of an impact. However, we continue to try and develop inventive ways to ingratiate PM with legislators. As one example, immediately upon adjournment of the regular session, we distributed to each of the 181 Senate and House members a copy of The Capitol Story, which is an attractive photographic history of the statehouse. This unusual gift was much appreciated by
legislators and their families. I even got 4 or 5 phone calls to thank us....

Organizations of Elected Officials: We always give to the various caucuses and this type of contribution does buy political clout.


Boiling mad yet? I am.

And remember, this is Phillip Morris ONLY.


For those of you thinking that now that Little Larry is not running against Frank Corte for office we will stop poking at his soft white underbelly? Oh hells no! Not only does it aggravate him mightly, it also aggravates the hell out of his pet Express-New lackeys reporters.

So in keeping with tradition, check out page 137 to see how much good ole PM had donated to Frank Corte's campaign in 1998 and 2000. A total of $1000.00

500 bucks every couple of years doesn't seem like that big of a deal, though. Right?

Except our boy Frank is a pretty cheap date. If you check out the chart on page 19, you will see a list of the 12 most pro Big Tobacco legislatures in 2001. And Frank Corte is on that list.

Raise your hand if you are at all surprised.

Yeah, me neither.

Disgusted, maybe. Furious, definately. But not surprised.

You know what else is Bad? Political sellouts like Frank Corte. The man has run unopposed for so many years that it has allowed him to get away with so many enormously awful, stupid, ridiculous things that it takes my breath away.

Having opposition in this race really threw the man for a loop. Hells bells, if he thinks this was bad wait until next time when he LOSES.


* My dear fried Deb did die this year, not long after the writing of this entry. She was 49.

Fruitcake, Again

OK, here it is, doorstop fans. But I must apologize for a small error yesterday. You only need 1 pound of butter, not 2 pounds. I was thinking cups. You need 2 cups of real butter. You will need a lot of big bowls.

For dark fruitcake:

Mix your 4-6 pounds of candied and dried fruit together. Candied ginger is a good addition. Pour over the fruit about 1.5 cups brandy, irish whiskey, rum (if you must), sherry, madeira or porter. Mix well. Let stand a few hours or overnight. (Are you beginning to see why it's not too early to start making these monstrosities?)

You can mix these dry ingredients and set them aside: 4 C. flour, 1 T. each cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and 2tsp. salt. Adjust for your taste. I prefer allspice to cloves.

You can also separate and refrigerate your eggs if you wish - 16 of them.

You can also grease and flour enough loaf and tube pans to hold about 1.5 gallons of batter. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper, even the tube pans. Bundt pans don't line well with paper, which is why I don't use them, but I do cut out rings for my angel-food pans. Re-grease over the paper. Cover them in plastic, and refrigerate them, too, or put them in a relatively cool place.

When you are ready to complete the task, drain the fruit, saving any liquid.

Cream 1 pound of butter with 1 pound of dark brown sugar very, very well. (Feel free to use light brown, if that is what you have. Or white if you want lighter colored cake.) Good, light creaming is important because there is no leavening in this cake - what little rise there is comes from air beaten into both the butter and sugar and the eggs.

Beat the egg yolks you set aside yesterday. Beat them until they "ribbon" and are lighter in color. Add them to the butter mixture, first by folding, then by more beating. We are beating air in here. Beat in any liquid from the fruit now.

At this point, you gently fold in the flour mixture, using a light hand to keep as much air in the batter as you can. If your batter is too thick, add some booze. Combine with the butter mixture.

Beat the 16 egg whites until stiff. Gently fold them into the butter-yolk mixture, trying not to deflate them too much. Air, air, they need air!

Add two pounds of nut meats to the fruit, and sprinkle another 1 cup of flour over the fruit-nut mixture. Using your hands, be sure it is all covered by a few grains of flour.

This is when a lightbulb will go off in your head. You will be thinking, "Oh, now I see why I should have sterilized my sink before I started this. I have no bowls big enough for this job."

So, in your sink, or in an enormous bowl, using your hands, incorporate the fruit and nuts into to batter. You will see that there is very little batter for a lot of fruit and nuts. In the olden days, they liked it this way. You can always use less fruit and nuts next time. But, for now, onward. You are over halfway through!


Pour into prepared pans. I can't tell you how many, because I don't know what your pans hold, so that is why I warned you to prepare all your loaf and tube pans. I usually fill 4 small loaf pans and three 4X8 loaf pans with this batter. They do not rise a whole lot, so you can fill them 3/4 full, or more. I bake the small ones for about 1.5 hours at 300 degrees, and the larger ones about 3-4 hours at the same temperature.

Remove them from the pans when they are warm, not hot. Cool completely.

You aren't done yet.

Soak enough cheesecloth to wrap the cakes up in your liquor of choice. Wring out the cheescloth. Wrap each loaf individually in about four layers of cheesecloth. Wrap each one tightly in heavy-duty foil, and store in a cool, dry place, like your beer fridge. OR, do what my gran did - store them in a big crock completely covered with powdered sugar. Bury them in powdered sugar. They need to rest at least one month.

To serve, take out, unwrap, and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, then slice into very, very thin slices. Serve with Earl Grey tea. To store again, re-wrap in cheesecloth and sprinkle with brandy, then re-wrap in foil.

Or, you can buy some fantastic fruitcake at Costco and go to a spa for the day with the time and money you save at Costco.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

We Texans Are A Part of the Victory

We have not turned Texas Blue yet but we are part of the Blue Army. Texas candidates forced the Lone Star rethugs to spend millions of dollars to protect their sorry asses instead of sending their dollars elsewhere. We who fought without a real chance of winning may be the greatest heros. Our fight was for the cause not personal benefit and we are now organized for 2008. Let us be very proud and continue the battle for true equality.

Let's do some celebrating!!

Swingin' Off The Tail Of The J

It have been a sad week for blue Texans, but we have to dry our eyes at the good national news. We've taken back the House and the Senate. Not to mention Nancy Pelosi proving once and for all that a woman's place really IS running the house. Or in this case, The House.

Probably not what the Republicans had in mind, eh?

This is a repost of something from our old Larry For Lege blog, predicting the takeover that we are just now begining. A little political theory never hurt no-one, now did it? At least not for those of us in the reality based community.


Have you ever heard of the Davies J-Curve theory? Yeah, me either until just recently. Essentially, and you can read a bit more about it here, the Davies J-Curve theory is a theory of revolution and uprising from a sociological perspective.

Here’s the thing about revolution and why people revolt:

It isn’t for political ideology or religion freedom or being beaten down by The Man one time too many.

Revolution occurs when a society’s citizens enjoy a time period of increased prosperity and well-being and then find it all snatched away.

Really, it’s surprising that the Bush administration’s whole Wag The Dog spin campaign clunked along for as long as it has. But, as Davies showed, Rove’s fear and terror campaign was doomed from the start; kinda like trying to create a Marxist society in an agriculturally-based economy such as Russia. No matter how hard you try, you really didn’t have the core ingredients you needed to start with.

This is why Americans are getting so damn mad. This is why I get emails from people in the district telling me they are going to vote against every incumbent on the ballot and what can they do to help support the Bulldog Dems.

People are willing to work hard to improve their quality of life. Americans are, historically and currently, known for pulling themselves up by the bootstaps and earning their prosperity. The Clinton administration understood this and made opportunities available for Americans to suceed. The Bush administration snatched them all away in order to give handouts to those who were already prosperous.

The Davies J-Curve is named such because a time of prosperity followed by sudden collapse looks like an upside down J when graphed. And here we are, swinging off the tail of the J just waiting for the revolution to begin.

The Kitchen Is Now Re-opened. Let The Bitchin' Begin! (And The Beginning of Fruitcake Season, As Well)

Well, the campaign is over, no more good girl. It's time to tell it like it really is. But first, a word about fruitcake.

You know, that stuff that only your great-uncle liked, but your grandmother made literally, 20 pounds of every year? Because that was the recipe yield? Well, I want to talk a little bit about it. You see, my grandmother made it, rice pudding, and roast lamb. That was all she could cook. Well, she made soup with the leftover lamb and called it hotpot...

Anyway, I have a son-in-law that really loves fruitcake. He loves the cheap-ass stuff wrapped in clear plastic that is on the shelf with the Little Debby as much as he likes the homemade stuff wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in brandy and aged in a tin for two months. But I want to talk about the latter.

My dad hoarded my gran's brandy-soaked, cheesecloth-wrapped, tin-stored fruitcake. And he kept it in the fridge in the garage; the fridge we stored the beer in and the fridge he fermented the kosher dills and kraut in. So the fruitcake needed a good, tight tin in that fridge. My dad, Bill Kasser, did like his drink. And he had a bedtime snort of about 3 inches, followed by a ever-so-thin slice of that fruitcake, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. He made a 4 pound fruitcake last. 'Til I discovered fruitcake when I was about 16. And that's when he started making it, using Ann Gillan's recipe, which I will share tomorrow. But this is what you will need:

About 4 pounds of your favorite glace'd fruit. I use cherries, pineapple, golden raisins and orange peel. No figs, no currants, no lemon peel, no angelica and no citron. But feel free to use that shit if you want to.

About 2 pounds of nuts. I like pecans since I married a Texan, but walnuts work.

About 4 cups of middlin' brandy. You can use rum, but I think it overpowers the fruit, especially the dark rum.

About 2 pounds of butter.

Your favorite spices - easy on the cinnamon - and include the nutmeg.

And literally, your sterilized kitchen sink. Also, take out all your loaf and tube pans. Wash them, dry them well.

Oh, I forgot the cheesecloth.

No, it's not too early, trust me on this!

See you tomorrow.