Monday, November 20, 2006

Scarlett Johansson as much as calls herself a slut...

In the midst of criticizing President Bush for his "staunch conservative views on sex", Scarlett Johansson made some of the dumbest statements I've heard in a while. To wit:

* She is so "socially aware" that she gets an HIV test every six months. No, honey, that just means you sleep around a lot.
* The article doesn't make this completely clear, but it appears that Ms. Johansson thinks President Bush wants to make abortion illegal in all states. I don't remember him bringing that up in the last, well...ever.
* This is an actual quote, referring to President Bush's so-called views: "Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions." Or maybe you'd have to learn something called personal responsibility. Anyway, I don't seem to recall the president stating this desire, either. If you're going to make up someone's views, try making up worthwhile viewpoints for yourself first.

Anyway, why do we have to rely on schools for our sex education? Why is it that so many people are unwilling to teach their own children, well, anything? Why are so many willing to let their kids watch badly written, badly acted "love scenes", but won't say a word to them about the subject?

Perhaps if parents, collectively, would grow a spine and have the kinds of talks with their children that life demands, they would learn that "love" in the media has nothing whatsoever to do with real life love. Real life relationships, romantic or not, require character development. TV, by and large, doesn't show this. And Ms. Johansson could use it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The votes are in...

Once again, after the votes were counted, countless people were complaining about the results, saying the fix was in, and calling the whole thing simply a popularity contest.

Of course, we all know what I'm talking about here: Dancing With the Stars!

I've never watched the show myself, but I did find the suggestion of a "dance-off" between the two finalists (Mario Lopez and Emmitt Smith) to be an interesting idea. Why can't we have this type of redo for our election? I don't think seeing the Democrats and Republicans dancing would change anything, but it would give me a good laugh. And that's really what's important here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

More Tony Romo fallout...

Don't you think Dish Network is kicking themselves over paying for a full season's worth of ads featuring Drew Bledsoe? At least one local station (okay, it was 101X) took to offering a disclaimer before airing one of the ads the other day.

265th District Court: Get rid of this guy!

Tonight's "20/20" discussed the completely unequal treatment given two offenders. Both received ten years probation, and both violated the terms of that probation. One offender, who has connections, is caught with cocaine twice, and gets nothing. (Incidentally, he murdered a man and got a really nice plea bargain.) The other, who did not have connections (and happens not to be the same race as the first guy), smoked one joint, and was given a life sentence. (He, as you might expect, didn't murder anyone.)

How in the world is this equal treatment under the law?

By the way, the judge for both cases was Keith Dean, who ducked all questions about the case when asked about it, at least once misstating the law regarding discussing cases in his court. (He certainly could have discussed a case in which all appeals had already been exhausted, but he tried to hide behind a law that didn't apply.)

And here's the kicker: Per the Dallas Morning News voter's guide, Judge Dean's stated views on punishment don't match his actions. His statement on punishment was, "A judge should never impose more punishment than is necessary and never for the wrong reason." Try reading your own statements, sir.

Judge Dean's opponent is someone named Mark Stoltz, who doesn't appear even to have a campaign website. This race, from the small amount of research I did, appears to be over already, but this guy deserves to be tossed.

(If 20/20 ever gets around to putting this story on their webpage, I'll link to it.)

TX-Gov: Bell & Strayhorn: Real Men of Genius?

I wouldn't have believed these ads existed, had I not been tipped off by a co-worker this afternoon. Apparently the ad mentioning Ms. Strayhorn bothered her by its use of the word "woman". (Would she have preferred the term used for Mr. Bell, "guy"?)

TX-22: A completely useless poll

Last we heard, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was facing a long, uphill fight in her write-in campaign against Nick Lampson for Tom DeLay's old seat, with Bob Smither showing appeal as an alternative.

Surprisingly enough, the write-in campaign now seems to be doing better than expected. Pollster shows Dr. Sekula-Gibbs only down eight points, 36% to 28%, with Smither apparently not showing.

Well, that's all well and good, but it's completely useless as a poll. A quick look further down the page, the percentages of Democrats and Republicans in the 504 likely voters is shown. Guess what: the distribution is Democrat 36%, Republican 28%. That is not even close to the actual distribution in TX-22, according to Wikipedia. (Determining whether Wikipedia is accurate today or not is left as an exercise to the reader.) Perhaps the pundits who have already called this district (that would mean you, Robert Novak) might want to rethink things.

TX-Gov: Kinky on Letterman tonight

Apparently Kinky Friedman will be on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight. (The transcript may be found here, courtesy Texas Politics.) If you're awake, check it out, even if you don't plan to vote for him. Of course, if you watched the debate, you'll already have heard a few of the laugh lines, but somehow I doubt the debate and the Late Show have many audience members in common.

In a related note, there is no truth to the story that a confused Phil Angelides showed up at the Ed Sullivan Theater and demanded equal time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

HD-47: why isn't Welch's idea getting attention?

Two of the three candidates for Texas State House District 47, Valinda Bolton and Bill Welch, were recently at the Oak Hill Cruise and Blues festival. (Yvonne Schick, the Libertarian candidate, was not there, pretty much as I expected.)

I spoke with Ms. Bolton at last year's festival, and she is definitely concerned about education. But this year, I met Mr. Welch, and his idea is one I had not heard before. Mr. Welch's proposal is to fund the state's education priorities and expenditures first, before the rest of the state's spending. That could be a really good thing, if it is done well. The education budget should be funded before the rest of the budget is considered. This would present a marked difference from how other "education first" proposals have worked, particularly in Nevada, where with its law, everything can still be considered all at once, just so long as the education spending is done first. My understanding of Mr. Welch's proposal is more like how it should be; I seem to recall his saying that the education needs would be apportioned before the Legislature even touches anything. If so, why isn't this being touted? As far as I can tell, the less the Legislature can mess something up, the better it is for Texas.

(It should also be noted that Mr. Welch's tent was much more festive, with free ice cream sundaes and water bottles, while Ms. Bolton's booth seemed rather subdued when I stopped by, and not really giving out anything except stickers. I wonder if the moods I saw reflect how the respective campaigns are going.)

I never thought I'd miss Christmas commercials...

But I'd rather have Christmas ads instead of the onslaught of political junk now polluting my television. (During the morning news, it seems to get worse as a half-hour is neared, as if the candidates think people will leave on the half-hours. Strange...)

Here are the highlights and lowlights I've seen around Austin:

1. Far and away the worst: Mina Brees. Her ad is lame, with or without her son in it. That is, the son who told his mother to remove his image from her ad. (See the report for yourself, courtesy the Statesman.) Wow, your family's in sports! Big deal. It still doesn't mean you're a good choice for a judicial role.

(By the way, her son's doing pretty well this year.)

And yes, I know, the State Bar voted Ms. Brees more qualified than David Puryear. The question is, how much credence should one give to a bunch of trial lawyers?

2. Kinky Friedman: I finally saw an ad for Mr. Friedman this morning. Was he holding them back until now, or is this a last-ditch effort to get out of fourth?

3. Valinda Bolton and Bill Welch: Both have now gone negative in at least one ad. But Mr. Welch's ad rings much truer than Ms. Bolton's. First of all, Ms. Bolton's first ad places the blame for education in Texas solely on the Republicans. Let's see...who ran this state for 150 years? And by the way, where were the Democrats during some of these sessions of the Legislature to which she refers? Oh, yes: in another state. Nice try.

Anyway, Mr. Welch pointed out that Ms. Bolton moved into this district solely to run for the Legislature. Ms. Bolton just released an ad trying to tie Bill Welch to, among other things, Rick Perry's toll road advocates and Tom Delay. It's 30-seconds full of half-truths and false implications. For example, Mr. Welch is on record strongly opposing the tolling of already-paid-for roads. Nice try.

One more thing, before I forget again: Ms. Bolton claimed in her first ad that nothing had been done about education. The other day, this ad ran on either KEYE or KVUE immediately before Mark Strama (HD-50) came on and talked about what he helped accomplish for...get! Get your talking points straight, people.

4. And why does everyone have to use black-and-white, slow-motion videos of their opponents when they want to make them look bad? It's a massive turnoff, at least for me. (Then again, at this point all the ads are annoying me.)

Bring on Santa already!

TX-21 and TX-25 update

With five days to go (and thank God for that!), TX-21 and TX-25 pretty much remain the way the conventional wisdom has called them: fairly safe seats for their incumbents. Lamar Smith, who still doesn't have a campaign website, and Lloyd Doggett, who still doesn't have much of one, seem content to coast through November 7. Mr. Doggett, in particular, was painted by the American-Statesman (in this article) as having no "real opposition".

However, to win, the incumbents (or anyone, of course) must receive over 50% of the popular votes in their district; otherwise, we get another month of ads and a runoff. Most sources seem to paint both districts as safe for their incumbents, but we'll see soon enough.

Neither incumbent, however, seemed to help their causes with their rather pompous statements in declining to debate their challengers. Both of them basically stated that since they are set to win at this point, they did not want to bother possibly upsetting the tea cart. (That was pretty much a paraphrase of the Smith campaign statement; Mr. Doggett's statement of not debating because he hadn't seen his opponents really just sounds lame.)

That said, KEYE has the best voter's guide I've seen for Texas, allowing you to find the races for your address. It also has position statements for many of the candidates, allowing you to compare two candidates at a time. I know it does leave out some races, particularly the judicial ones, but it's better than what Texans have been getting to determine which races apply to them. (California, I'm told, sends out a sample ballot to voters; why can't Texas take this online voter's guide and allow people to view their sample ballot online?)

Oh, I did promise earlier to have more on Jim Strohm in TX-21, even though the race remains basically Smith vs. Courage, as it was before the redistricting. Mr. Strohm wants to introduce articles of impeachment against the his first act. At least he's honest about it.