CD 22 Update: Get Off the Tracks

So, in our continuing saga of the CD 22 candidate replacement process, it’s time for another update. This time, in a departure from the norm, I will be contributing since I actually went and sat in the back in the visitor section. If you cast your mind back to high school, in every class, there was some guy who was half asleep and only woke up to provide commentary, usually of the sarcastic or funny variety. That was me, all the way through graduate school. Expect more of the same, tempered only by the fact that J has to go back and deal with all the other precinct chairs. My unedited thoughts on them will not win her any friends. My opinion of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has not improved with further exposure. Also, keep in mind I am not an efenant and have no dog in the hunt. Anybody this process produces is going to be way too statist for my taste. Enough said, on to the meeting.

I don’t make a habit of going to these things, mainly because I loathe people and they bore the hell out of me. So I’ll give a slight overview of the process for those unfamiliar with how the meetings are run. The precinct chairs arrived, presented ID, and got their badges. These serve as their identification. Once the clock hit 7:00 PM, the meeting started. Quorum was 23, they had 40 chairs show up, so it’s good. Then it was on to an invocation, the national anthem, and the pledges (US and Texas). Then, the chair quickly moved to have some supplemental rules adopted to govern the process. Cheryl Berg (SD-11 Chair) threw out the usual boilerplate about RONR and complying with the law that always opens these meetings. The only interesting part was the rules for elector candidates. Executive committee members only could nominate or speak. Candidate speeches were to be given after all candidates are nominated, 3 minutes total for your speech, time may be yielded to others. I think I’ve hit the highlights.

The first comedy moment came when someone stood up to make a motion to amend the agenda. That got slapped down with the quickness. This should have been the first clue that the core group in the Harris County Republican Party had made their decisions and were going to railroad the rest of the executive committee. I can sum up the whole meeting as get on board or get run over. Next was nominating candidates. Since, in my opinion, Jared Woodfill was going to recognize Cheryl Berg first no matter what happened, Kathy Haigler was nominated first. The same woman who tried to amend the agenda then nominated Steven Williams. Nobody else got nominated, so it was on to candidate speeches.

Candidate speeches were given in nomination order. I didn’t try to take exact transcriptions, so I’ll only hit the points I wrote down. Kathy Haigler had a prepared speech. Half of it seemed to be sucking up to Tom DeLay. I have no great love for Tom DeLay as a representative, so that part fell pretty flat with me. Of course, I had no vote. It seemed to go over well with the actual precinct chairs. Notable points were that she wanted a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice for the position so she has room to "negotiate". She also made a big deal about telling everyone she wouldn’t run for any office vacated by this process. For the clueless, that’s a response to the repeated rumor that she wants to run for Robert Talton’s state rep seat if he gets the nod.

Steven Williams gave a much shorter prepared speech in which he used the word liberal about forty-leven times in the first 4 sentences. He wanted the executive committee to commit to a nominee, who he would then go and fight for at the actual elector meeting. I will make a few critiques about his performance. First, he gave no compelling reason why anyone should have picked him over Kathy. Given that everybody in that room with a vote knows Kathy, that’s a serious gap in your strategy. His next problem was that he didn’t use enough of his time. If they give you three minutes, use it. If this is your only shot to sway people’s minds, you’d better make the most of it.

My next comment applies to both elector candidates. It’s great that you’re reading from your prepared notes. Just make it a little less obvious, okay? Steven did a better job of that than Kathy, if you ask me, which you didn’t. Also applying to both candidates is the comment that you should show a little more emotion. If you’re not excited, why should anybody else be? Kathy got a little fired up at one point, but as I recall, it was during the "Tom DeLay is wonderful" portion of the speech.

So then the voting commenced, and predictably, Kathy won 31 to 10. Hmm. This implies that someone showed up after the quorum check or the people who were counting the ballots can’t count. Kathy then gave a short speech where she told us all "I’m here not to do my own will, but yours." Umm, okay. I was kind of wondering how she knew what the will of the committee was, but that got addressed. After the meeting was adjourned, Kathy handed out candidate evaluation forms and asked precinct chairs to rank their top three candidates. So if you bailed immediately, you lost out.

Other scribbled observations included the note that the candidate who must not be named was in attendance, along with a decent number of her supporters. David Wallace was there as well, as were a number of other elected officials. Somebody was also there with a video camera taping the whole thing. I dunno who the hell that was or why he was taping it. He interviewed somebody after the meeting, which ended about 7:30.

Quick and dirty observations: Kathy passed out her questionnaires and collected them. I’m presuming she’ll count them and do the tally of who the 1, 2, and 3 candidates are. My preference would be for that process to be a little more transparent to the rest of the chairs, but once again, it ain’t my club. If the precinct chairs are happy with it, more power to ‘em. My other observation is borrowed from J. If for whatever reason, the Gang of 4 can’t get reach agreement, it goes to the State Republican Executive Committee. Guess who’s on the SREC? That’s right, Kathy Haigler! Is that a little strange, or is that just me? I figure if you can’t do the job the first time, you don’t get another whack at it.

Deep analysis and insight will have to wait for someone more capable than I. Have a nice weekend.


Vicious Irony Alert

Over at Porkbusters, they have a guest post from Sen. John McCain (R-Batshit Insane). I have no great desire to disagree with the substance of his message. It is agreed around YPS that the government spends way too much money and needs to quit. It will end up doing damage to the Republican party. The grassroots, as exemplified by J and other folks, are pissed off. Whether the anger can be meaningfully transformed into some form of effective action is the question. Given that one of the front runners for the CD22 seat is not conservative in any meaningful sense, I’m guessing not.

However, I would like to point out one glaring statement. Cast your eyes upon this line:

I'm afraid it's because at times we value our incumbency more than our principles.
Excuse me for just one second.


John McCain is telling me politicians value incumbency over principle? The proud and self-satisfied sponsor of the most incumbent-protecting principle-trampling piece of legislation to come down the pike in my lifetime feels a need to lecture anybody about the issue? Oh, man, the irony is so thick you could cut it with a dull spork. Somebody needs to go back and reconsider what principles he really stands for before he starts spouting off about placing incumbency before principle. Seems to me you made that trade a long time ago, Johnny Boy. I’m not saying it’s too late for him to live up to his fine words now, but he’ll have to walk the walk for a long damn time to make up for his evisceration of the Constitution.

If he really believes the crap he’s spouting, his voting record should reflect. I ain’t holding my breath until that happens.


BBQ Fixed

Back on Mother’s Day, we were planning on cooking some burgers and stuff on the grill. I had used my charcoal grill to smoke some ribs, a process that went very well. Since the smoking takes so long, I planned on using the gas grill for cooking the smaller pieces which don’t need to cook as long.

My plan fell apart right about the time the gas grill caught fire. On the outside. This is somewhat less than an optimal situation. My only consolation was the realization if it hadn’t been for the plastic gauge catching fire, I wouldn’t have noticed the leak in the hose. I’d rather deal with replacing a few parts than a 20 pound propane cylinder exploding.

Anyhow, I sprayed my grill with my handy kitchen fire extinguisher and retreated to the house to cook the burgers and dogs. I have since ordered replacement parts for the grill and installed them. Friday night I got brave and fired up the grill. I managed to not set myself or anything else on fire, so I guess I’m doing okay.

I started off fixing the grill this summer by replacing the burners. I thought my pathetic flame performance was due to the burners being cast iron, and after 4 summers outdoors in Houston, they had become more interesting burner-shaped lumps of rust than actual burners. In retrospect, it was probably due to the gas leak in the feed line. Oh, well. At least I have new burners to go with my pretty new hoses. One more piece of grill and all should be back to normal, or as least as normal as things get around here. All of this is in preparation for the big 4th of July party we throw. Can’t have a 4th Party without a grill, you know.


Campaign Mail

A funny thing about this CD22 process is that my daily mail load has increased exponentially with kindly letters from well-meaning folks who don't get a vote, but are trying so to influence mine. One of my favorites thus far is a creepy letter I received over the weekend, sent completely anonymously, with no signature or return address, letting me know that Robert Talton is in the back pocket of the evil Trial lobby, and that one of the individuals who wants to be elected to the "Committee of 4" from Harris county has a personal motive for getting Talton the seat because she wants to fill his State Representative position. Our anonymous letter writer didn't take the 1 minute that it would take to find out that the individual with so-called designs on Talton's seat doesn't even live in his district and is thus ineligible to run, but hey, someone has an anonymous opinion dammit! (HA, almost kind of like me)

There are more than quite a few folks who believe that the letter came from David Wallace's camp, which I have no means by which to confirm either way, except just to say that he has recently been the most ignorant and boorish of all those seeking the seat. He's started running radio ads, as if he's the nominee already, with the caveat that you need to visit his website, and sign up, in exchange for which he'll provide you with the personal contact information for your precinct chair so that you can call and harass them.

To which I say...SWEEET.

Newsflash geniuses: all the information you need to contact your precinct chair is right on the HCRP website, so you don't have to call Wallace or his slick sales staff to get it.

Prelude to the Harris County CD22 Proceedings

To catch up a bit, the Democrats, trying to steal the CD22 seat in the courts instead of having to earn it at the polls, obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) prohibiting the Republican Party from taking any legal steps toward replacing Tom DeLay on the November ballot. Late last week the TRO expired, so multiple meeting calls have gone out in each of the four affected counties for the CD22 Precinct Chairs to meet and select their respective representatives for what I believe the rules call the "District Executive Committee". Most just call it the "Committee of 4". This "Committee of 4" are the actual people who will select the Republican Nominee for the ballot; however, most will go in under some agreement with their county precinct chairs to select the candidate that the county precinct chairs prefer.

Each county meeting, as I understand it now, is scheduled as follows:
Harris County: 29 June
Fort Bend County: 05 July
Galveston County: 06 July
Brazoria County: 07 July (Tentatively)

Admittedly, I don't know much about any of the meetings, except for the one in Harris County, which will be held in Judge Ditta's courtroom in Clear Lake. And no, I'm not posting any great secret, as these meetings are open to observation by the public. I think because I will be a participant, that T is considering blogging the event just for your edification and enjoyment, and because he'll see things that I won't.

What I have found to be the most interesting is the backroom bullshit leading up to this thing. In Harris county, there are 2 major factions of which I am aware. If there is a third, please e-mail me, make yourself known, and I'll update the post. One faction, which seems to consist mainly of the party leadership and officers within the Senate District (State SD11 makes up the vast majority of CD22 in Harris County), is supporting Robert Talton. The other, which seems to be a surprisingly respectable number of precinct chairs from the South, Southeast, and Clear Lake areas, is firmly behind Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.

There has been some discussion over the last couple of days that the Talton faction intends to introduce some type of supplemental rules at the meeting that would allow Jared Woodfill, the Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, to act as chairman of the Thursday caucus, and in essence allow the Talton faction to control the direction of the meeting. Please understand that this is nothing more than an interesting rumor, that I will add that I'm having a hard time believing, because I don't believe that our County Chairman would want to compromise the integrity of the proceedings by attempting to chair this particular meeting.

Mainly this is because it seems to me that he isn't eligible, as participation in this meeting should be limited to CD22 precinct chairs in Harris County, and he doesn't meet the definition. Further, Robert Talton is employed with Mr. Woodfill's law firm, Woodfill & Pressler, which creates a conflict of interest, and an appearance of impropriety that I don't believe Mr. Woodfill would want to affect the proceedings. This is especially the case since Mr. Woodfill has seemingly failed this round to maintain an across the board neutrality when it comes to endorsing candidates who work for his firm for other open ballot positions. I personally wish that Mr. Woodfill had observed Reagan's 11th Commandment and had remained neutral, but since he has already made endorsements of other employees, it stands to reason that he would have a preference for Mr. Talton, but I digress.

On the flip side, I think the Sekula-Gibbs faction is preparing in case this rumor turns out to be true, and may be ready to counter with some rules or proposed procedure of their own. The Sekula-Gibbs folks I've spoken with genuinely seem to have an interest in just making sure the proceedings run as neutrally as possible. My take on this is that I think the Sekula-Gibbs faction honestly and passionately believes that if precinct chairs are allowed to vote for their candidate of choice by secret ballot, that Sekula-Gibbs has a lock on the majority of the precinct chairs' votes. They obviously know something I don't.

As today is Monday, who knows what will come of any of it yet. We have a meeting tonight to fill both a vacated judicial slot and the nomination for County Treasurer, which was filled by the late Jack Cato, so I'm sure the maneuvering will run crazy in preparation between today and Thursday. Being a person who is more interested in issues and policy than the petty politics that goes on around the crafting of issues and the making of policy, this is little more than an annoyance. But, alas, it is an annoyance that I am compelled to share.

Update: Many thanks to Chris over at Texas Safety Forum for the traffic! Let me clarify, however that I am not so sure that the Talton person will end up being the person elected to the Harris County Committee of 4, especially if someone else has the majority approval of the precinct chairs and that person cannot wholeheartedly commit to the majority choice. I see a very convincing "dark horse" on the horizon, and a lot of people will be standing around thinking, "who the hell is this guy?"


Bush Found Some Balls Today

I've been pissed at the guy for hosing us on immigration, but kudos to him for this.

Perfect Food?

Sigivald, in the comments over at Asymmetrical Information, makes this statement:
Corndogs are Quite Possibly Nature's Perfect Food.
Or would be, if wrapped in bacon.
Actually, I think a batter-fried sausage wrapped in bacon would be better. The corndog breading is a little too thick and doughy. Anyway, it's a damn fine idea. Big props to Sigivald for the concept.

The Beatings Will Continue Until the Horse Improves

Seeing as how we’re never ones to avoid contributing to the incessant beating of deserving deceased equines, here’s a lovely fisking from Publicola of some euroweenie sucking up to the Turtle Bay Mafia.

No-Knock Wins Victory or Police State Ahoy

Radley Balko has been doing yeoman work over his site deconstructing the bullshit that is the recent SCOTUS decision on the Hudson case. He’s also been doing a long-running series about botched SWAT raids. The whole thing has got me thinking pretty hard.

What is the proper response of the armed citizen to an invasion of his house in the middle of the night to masked men wielding guns and claiming to be police officers? I’m not trying to be facetious, I just don’t know. Let’s take YPS Manor and the residents thereof as our example. I’ll start off with the fact that to the best of my knowledge, I am not committing any felonies and I have no stockpiles of illegal goods or illicit substances in my house. One would think that this, in and of itself, would protect me from an armed invasion by agents of the government. One would be spectacularly wrong. If the cops can go to some judge and make a less-than-credible case that I am, say, making meth out in my garage, they can get a warrant. By less-than-credible case, I mean an anonymous tip from somebody with a vendetta.

Once they get the warrant, things will quickly spiral out of control. I am known to own guns, so they will probably ignore the fact that I have no arrest record and no criminal history and try to get a SWAT team for the warrant service. Or it could just be standard policy, like in Fairfax County, VA. Either way they’re going to send a tac team in. Even if they do knock and announce, it’ll be on the order of less than a second after the announcement before they break down the door. They’re pretty much guaranteeing that I will wake up just in time to hear my front door being kicked in. I’m also well aware they’re probably going to shoot my dog, who is 13 years old, arthritic, and weighs all of 25 pounds. So what then? What’s the appropriate response, given that I know I’m not doing anything to warrant a raid? I can’t see any reason why I should presume anyone kicking my door down in the middle of the night does not have malign intent, no matter what they’re shouting.

I freely admit my paranoid tendencies are coming out again, but I simply don’t trust the government. There seems to be less and less reason to every year.


Hurricane Preparedness

I haven’t had anything interesting to say lately, so I have wisely held my counsel and said nothing. Not that I usually have anything to say of interest to anyone else, but blogging is an exercise in solipsism more than anything else. I’m interested, so y’all will just have to endure my meanderings.

Hurricane season is well upon us now, with Alberto dreaming up ever more reasons to restrict our constitutional rights using dubious arguments about executive privilege and security. Umm, wait, wrong Alberto. Alberto is washing ashore in Florida, having decided he’d rather be a pathetic slacker and not become a hurricane. One of his cousins did a considerable amount of damage around these parts with the same career path, so maybe he’ll amount to something after all. Allison proved to everyone in the greater Houston metro area that locating essential and or valuable items underground when the elevation is only a skosh above sea level was a stunningly bad idea. Given the regular pounding Florida takes from hurricanes, I would hope everyone there understands this lesson, but perhaps not.

Anyhow, J and I have been discussing our plans for hurricane prep this year. I can summarize them as follows: board up and wait. It’s the same plan we followed last year for Rita. We made the command decision early on that we weren’t evacuating. Our reasoning was simple. Our house didn’t flood during Allison, when the city got two feet of rain. We are far enough inland so we won’t get storm surge. So all we have to worry about is the wind tearing the place up. Based on the logic of "run from water, hide from wind", we should be good.

I have been buying plywood anchors up on random trips to the hardware store and have enough for the main house. The garage and guest house are as yet screwed. I’m thinking another bag or two will cover me. Then it’s time to get some more plywood and trim it to fit. I’ve put together a small tool bag with some general purpose tools, but I can add hurricane specific items from my collection as needed. I have the odd looter deterrent about the house and enough ammunition should law and order in our sleepy middle class community break down completely. I’m not betting on that, but one does like the option.

We are looking at generators. I think a generator will be handy all around for some things, plus if the power goes out we can blog assuming the cell network stays up. Other than that, we have perused a number of the disaster prep lists and have stocked up where necessary. Not much was actually needed for us. Aside from the generator, we just need to stock up on a few more canned comestibles and we’ll be good.

I full well realize we may not need all of the stuff. However, as last year proved beyond any shadow of a doubt, once you need things, you can’t get them. Disaster supplies are like guns: when you need them, you need them badly. Of course, in the perverse way of the universe, having the supplies will help to ensure that no hurricane comes anywhere near us this season. I don’t harbor any illusions that my actions will determine the course of a storm, but it does seem that if you’re prepared it’ll go elsewhere. Unless you live in Florida, in which case you’re pretty much screwed.


"Illegal Immigration - No amnesty! No how. No way."

The GOP state convention is on (I didn't make it due to illness during district convention), and last night, the "temporary platform committee" has issued this platform proposal on immigration. This proposal will be approved this evening at the meeting of the "permanent platform committee" and will be presented on Saturday for ratification by all committee delegates.

I'm interested in other opinions on this. I think it is a pretty good start.


CD 22 Update: Meeting with David Wallace

I met with Mr. Wallace, Sugar Land Mayor, today. Please note that he is the only one of the CD22 hopefuls who I have met with personally, so I'm sure my scrutiny will be a little harder on him, and I give him big bonus points for being willing to put himself in front of me like he did. So, let me state at the outset: he's impressive, very polished and attractive. I fear, however that this is so to the point perhaps of being a little smarmy.

He does likes to name drop a little, which with the names he dropped, I kind of can't blame him too much, as he apparently worked with Lady Thatcher for a time and was very involved in high level circles. He apparently almost died in the bottom of a swimming pool because he mentioned it 3 times as proof of how much he values the sanctity of life. Of course points for him because he didn't go into the whole "that's how I found Jesus" schtick, because those people bug the crap out of me. Guess what, Jesus ain't lost, but I digress.

With regard to some issues, he was brutally honest, for example, he stated that he was strongly pro-life but understands that the public will only take so many abortion restrictions. He made an odd, but astute comparison to coming out in favor of the 5% appraisal cap because he doesn't believe that the State Legislature has the political will to go with 3%, so you have to take what you can get. I can see his points and was interesting how he recognizes the political realities of our shitty system. On a few issues, however, he kicked around my questions without actually answering them.

These are some of my concerns, based on the questions I asked.

**He didn't know the Brady Bill so couldn't say whether he would've supported it, which to me makes him weak, or at the very least, a tad unknowledgeable on 2nd Amendment issues. His other 2nd Amendment answers were fine though.

**He didn't know which 3 federal government departments or programs he'd abolish. For any traditional conservative 3 is the bare minimum no brainer, and that spelled potential big spender to me.

**He couldn't explain to me why he wouldn't totally defund the UN and kick 'em out of NYC, only that we need something like the UN but perhaps it should be with only free and democratic nations. I personally don't see the need for any world body debate clubs where we're constantly kicked in the balls and then are expected to pay the bills.

**He also couldn't explain what the Department of Education was really good for, and why it shouldn't be abolished, even though he conceded that private industry could handle student loans.

**He danced like an old disco pro on a question about a guest worker program but says he doesn't like either the House or Senate bill because both are too compromised. I know he favors strict border enforcement, but other than that, I didn't get much.

As a constitutionalist, however, in my opinion this was very telling. He didn't know what the Enumerated Powers Act was and wasn't sure if he'd support it. He went into this diatribe about making sure you know the impact of your legislation, but seemed to have no concern for the actual constitutionality of what Congress was doing. He stated that the way he saw it, if a law is unconstitutional then it will be challenged. At that point, I simply stated, "well that didn't really work for McCain-Feingold now did it?"

[Chirp Chirp]

At this point, his assistant who came along with him to take notes gave me this kind of "who farted at the table" look.



All that stated, based on my post from the candidates forum, here's how I'd rank the candidates I have had contact with, in order, if I were the Philosopher-Queen of CD22 and the decision was all my own:

1. Charlie Howard
2. Mike Jackson
3. David Wallace
4. Robert Talton
5. Shelly Sekula-Gibbs
6. Andy Meyers
7. Tom Campbell
8. Tim Turner

I will, however, be the first to state that I don't think it will go that way, at least in Harris County. With all the rumor mill I'm hearing, I think the primary race in Harris County will be between Talton and Gibbs. Of course after the convention this weekend, it all could change. We'll just have to wait and see.