Archive for November, 2011

Rick Perry’s “Oops”: There’s an app for that

Exactly 10 days following Perry's gaffe, Lunagames released Oops: What's the third agency again?

Imagine a world where you control how Rick Perry’s "oops" moment plays out, over and over again. The combinations of the different phrases the GOP presidential hopeful exchanged that night are endless. Come to find out, this app has some competition. There are a total of four apps that center on candidate Perry. Who knew?

Well actually, I did know of the first one listed. It’s his official 2012 campaign app I downloaded a few months back when he made his run for the White House official. The app acts as a hub for all things Perry – listing every article he’s mentioned in in key media publications.

The next three, gaming companies conjured up. Two allow you to orchestrate the dialogue that filled those 53 seconds of the CNBC debate November 9 in Michigan. That night, after listing Education and Commerce, Perry blanked on the third agency of government he’d eliminate, if elected.

Now, with the tap of the screen, you decide what happens first – the ‘Oops,’ his turn to Rep. Ron Paul for help in remembering the third agency or Perry’s side note about the EPA.

The gamers at Epic American Apps Inc. thought up Thumbs Up Republicans.

It’s all in good fun. Hours after Perry’s infamous brain freeze, he was poking fun at himself on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Funny or not, the fourth and final Perry iPad app takes you back to the arcade. "Thumbs Up Republicans" is a classic Whack-A-Mole style game where the heads of different GOP figures take turns randomly popping up on the White House lawn – just long enough for you to bop them with your finger(s).

It teaches great hand-eye coordination and quickens your reaction time. I’ve made it to level 13.

Like politics, it can be tricky.

On the Agenda: Gingrich has long dominated national conversation without big dollar budgets

Commentary:It has been fascinating watching Newt Gingrich surge in the polls in his quest for the Republican nomination.

Gingrich has a long history of re-framing the national debate with no financial resources. He relies more on his formidable rhetorical skills than multi-million dollar campaign budgets.

In one respect, Gingrich was lucky. He and CSPAN both arrived in Congress at the same time three decades ago. Gingrich would use a parliamentary device called special orders to speak to an empty House chamber attacking Democrats. He so angered Tip O’Neill, the Democratic speaker ordered the cameras to pan the chamber to show Gingrich was speaking to an empty room.

Well the room may have been empty but the country was listening. Within a decade, Gingrich was the new Speaker.

This time, the new free platform projecting the under-funded Gingrich into top tier status has been the candidate debates. Voters started tuning in to take the measure of the much heralded Rick Perry. Perry has since imploded, but a staggering thirty million Americans have watched at least some part of the debates.

Ironically, Rick Perry’s campaign team quit Gingrich last summer because they thought the Speaker was undisciplined and unable to raise money. They underestimated Gingrich and over-estimated Perry. To be charitable, the Texas governor seems one dimensional compared to the more thoughtful and complicated responses of Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and even John Huntsman.

Seventy percent of Republicans apparently would prefer someone other than Romney.

While there have been all kinds of dynamics in these debates, it is clear that Newt Gingrich has earned a second look with nuanced, real-world answers while largely refusing to pander.

But Gingrich is also a seriously flawed candidate. His personal character is questionable and he is perfectly capable of self-combusting with over the top inflammatory rhetoric.

I have no idea whether or not Newt Gingrich can win. He may simply be the flavor of the day. Nevertheless, it is somehow heartening to see the power of ideas still has a role in political campaigns

Reacting to redistricting

The three-judge panel out of San Antonio rolled out the final court-ordered Texas House map the day before the holiday. Representative Aaron Peña was among those who took time around the turkey table Thursday to discuss the map with friends and family, and his future in public service.

According to YNN Political Contributor Harvey Kronberg, of the Quorum Report, Peña’s decided not to seek another term in office.

"The district I have been placed in is a 75% Democratic seat. It is unwinnable by me or any Republican candidate and I will not move into another legislative district to run against a colleague," Peña said.

The court-ordered map will dictate the March and November 2012 elections here in Texas, that’s if the judge’s panel in Washington, DC doesn’t act in a timely fashion. They have, after all, been told to take their time.

Attorney General Greg Abbott weighed issuing a request to stay the enforcement of the House map, knowing full well doing so would likely delay the primary elections for the Texas House of Representatives.

Abbott said, "While all unaffected primary elections will continue as scheduled on March 6, 2012, the State is prepared to delay its Texas House of Representatives primary elections in order to ensure that it is not forced to conduct elections using a legally flawed map."

Click here to see the maps.

Guest Post: Redistricting reaction from the cheap seats

Commentary: As I write this, the Federal three-judge panel in San Antonio has just released a preliminary interim Congressional map, and has just released its final ordered interim maps for the state House and Senate.

Republican reaction to the maps released so far has been scathing and instant. They are shocked – SHOCKED – that "activist federal judges" would go so far.

It’s both amusing and sad to watch the Republican gnashing of teeth in reaction to the court’s maps. The Voting Rights Act to which Texas must adhere should be no surprise – it was enacted in the 1960’s. The system of judicial review is not new either. What seems to be new is the Republican arrogance that they can draw anything they want, mowing down any group of voters who oppose them, and expect rubber stamps from the folks charged with reviewing the maps for legality.

The judicial panel, made up of two Republicans and one Democrat, didn’t step in to help Democrats, or hurt Republicans. Neither did the Republican Federal panel in the D.C. circuit which precipitated the San Antonio panel drawing the interim maps. The federal courts stepped in to enforce the Voting Rights Act, to ensure that the rights of minority Texans are protected.

That so many in the Republican political establishment consider that to be terrible news is precisely why so many minority Texans reject Republican candidates for office.

If the Texas Republicans in charge didn’t work so hard full-time to alienate minority Texans, they would have nothing to fear in asking minority Texans for their votes come election time. Their preferred option, however, is to divide those minority voters and make their opinions meaningless. Thankfully, the court has reminded us this week that it is illegal.

Minorities are almost single-handedly responsible for Texas’ population growth. It’s time for Republicans to man-up and recognize their moral obligation to be responsive to the concerns of these dynamic and fast-growing communities.

Until they do, they will continue to be hammered at the polls by the voters whose voices they tried to silence.

You can find more writing from Harold Cook on his blog Letters from Texas.

San Antonio court releases final preliminary state House and Senate maps

Judges in San Antonio also released the final state interim maps, Wednesday. The state and Attorney General Greg Abbott objected preliminary interim maps released last week. Abbott said the court exceeded its authority.

Wednesday the court released only minor changes. These maps will likely be used in the November 2012 election, however it is still up to federal judges in Washington to decide on final maps for the next ten years.

You can see both sets of maps by clicking here.

In the upper right hand corner click on Select Plans–Base Plans.

In the drop-down click on Court-Ordered Interim Plans. You’ll see Plan H302 for the House and Plan S164 for the Senate.

Rep. Castro says he’s pleased with preliminary interim Congressional maps

In an email to supporters, State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said he is happy with the court’s decision.

"I’m pleased with the court’s decision today in this redistricting case. Their wise and fair judgement is a victory for Democrats and a map that best reflects the realities of Texas," Castro wrote. "As a party we are now called to unite in fighting Republican policies that are causing so much unnecessary pain to so many Americans."

Castro and his Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, exchanged harsh words over the maps. Doggett accused Castro of working with Republicans to draw the districts during the last legislative session.

MALDEF on interim maps, pleased with District 35

One of the minority groups which filed suit against the state over recently drawn Congressional redistricting maps, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said maps released by federal judges Wednesday will increase Latino electoral representation. MALDEF sued the state in July.

In a release MALDEF writes:

"Today, MALDEF’s tireless efforts in Texas federal courts have resulted in a court-proposed plan that promises increased Latino electoral opportunity throughout the state. A panel of federal judges in San Antonio has released a new redistricting plan that will improve representation for Texas Latinos, including the creation of an additional Latino opportunity district in South Texas. A Latino opportunity district is a district that includes a sufficient number of Latino voters to enable them to elect a candidate of their choice."

In its press release, MALDEF writes about Congressional District 35. That was the district incumbent Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, was running in against State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio. The preliminary interim maps give Doggett his district back and create CD35, in which Castro will likely continue to run.

"Congressional district (CD 35) along the I-35 corridor in South Texas will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice," MALDEF writes. "At trial, MALDEF argued that the significant population growth in this region warranted the addition of a congressional district in this area."

MALDEF is also happy about the creation of CD 33 in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, CD 27 in South Texas and CD 23 in West Texas which were changed during redistricting.

Interim map gives District 25 back to Doggett

A federal court has released the proposed interim maps for Texas Congressional districts for the 2012 elections.

The new maps released Wednesday will temporarily override maps drawn by the Republican-led Texas Legislature.

Republicans have until noon Friday to respond. The map gives District 25 back to 17-year incumbent Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. It includes East Austin and much of Hays County.

The Republican-drawn maps would have forced Doggett to run in the new District 35 against popular Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.

Congressman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, will represent more of Austin if the new maps hold.

State House and Senate interim maps were released by the court last week. Until now, candidates running in the March 2012 primary have been in limbo.

Lawmakers redraw maps every 10 years to reflect changes in population growth. This year, Texas picked up four additional seats in the House.

Experts say three of those new seats would have gone to Republicans under the legislative map, but minority groups mounted a legal challenge saying the map illegally weakens their voting power.

Republican leaders say they drew the map to benefit their party, not to hurt minorities. The court’s map was drawn with a focus on protecting minority voting strength. That will likely help Democrats, who must net 25 seats nationally to win back the U.S. House.

Check out a copy of the interim map below:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democrats respond to interim congressional maps

The Texas Democratic Party released a statement following the release of interim Congressional redistricting maps, Wednesday.

"As we begin to review these maps in more depth, we are pleased that Texas is on the road to fair elections in which the voters, rather than Republican mapmakers, will get to determine the outcome. The maps enacted by the legislature were an egregious example of Republican overreach and a complete disrespect of the changing Texas demographics.

After the insane proposals D.C. Republicans have put forth like eliminating social security and the Department of Education, we could not be more excited to be a step closer to an election in which we can hold Republicans accountable for their failed policies."

Former San Marcos mayor announces bid for Congress

Courtesy: Susan Narvaiz

CORRECTION: Susan Narvaiz is running for Congress as a Republican.

Former San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz, a Republican, announced she’s running for Congress Saturday morning at a "Texas Style Cowboy Breakfast."

Narvaiz served three terms as mayor from 2004 until 2010. She earned several awards including the Citizen of the Year and the Women of Distinction award.