Right Wing Valentine to Vlad

Photo by David
Valdimir Putin might be the "great white hope" for conservatives.
The Conservatives recent love affair with Russia's Vladimir Putin is a mysterious contagion from a fever swamp; an odd combination of My Funny Valentine and Jungle Fever, rebranded as To Russia, With Love. It's an odd reversal of the McCarthy era, sixty years later.

Sarah Palin seems deeply enamored as she oozed on Fox, "People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates."

Add Rudy Giuliani to Putin's fan club too: "In contrast to Obama, Putin is what you call a leader."

Franklin Graham, son of respected pastor, Billy Graham, has a declaration of love for him also. He praises Putin and says he wishes our president was more like him.

On and on, Breitbart gushing over Putin's "traditional values". Fox News producer Jack Hanick injected God into the Putin-love also; saying that God called on Russia to stand up for traditional values. Fox News' Ralph Peters gushed with praise for Russia who has a "real leader".

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Ted Cruz Writes a Thank You Note to Obama. Seriously.

Screengrab from CNN via Youtube
Just when we were sure we'd seen it all, Ted Cruz hits the brakes and surprises us again. How so? He wrote a letter of appreciation to President Barack Obama.

Yep, that's it. The Texas senator who has made opposing everything the folks across the aisle come up with (as well as his own party) found it in him to say something nice. In an essay published in Politico, Cruz committed to paper more than 600 words of thanks to the president for signing Senate Bill 2195 into law last week.

Thanks to President Obama for joining a unanimous Congress and signing S 2195 into law. This bill gives the president the authority to deny visas to United Nations ambassadors who are known terrorists, such as Iran's recent nominee Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a participant in the 1979 hostage crisis. The government of the United States has thereby sent an unequivocal, bipartisan message that we will not tolerate the ongoing campaign of insult and antagonism from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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Hucksters and Texas Tent Revival Politics

Photo by J E Theriot
No keeping religious talk out of Texas politics.
Religious liberty is at the very heart of what it means to be an American, yet Texas conservatives and our state's activist pastors have conveniently forgotten that.

Lately, it feels as if Texas is waging some sort of religious war on a number of different fronts.

Throughout history, politicians have embedded a few religious references in their speeches, but nothing close to what we're seeing lately. Beginning in earnest with Ronald Reagan's nomination in 1980 and continued by Bill Clinton, "Religispeak" has evolved into a must-have tool for every conservative's campaign rhetoric and policy effort.

In the same way that sex sells in the media, politicians discovered that religion does also.

It was last fall when Tom Delay's conviction was overturned and an article in the Dallas Morning News quoted him as saying God is calling him to lead a constitutional revival. He referred to his legal battle and sentencing as his "time in the wilderness."

And then...he remarked how glad he would be to get his concealed carry license back.

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A Few PAC Names Better Than Houston Bookkeeper's 'Boats 'N Hoes'

Photo by Reisende64
The name for the PAC with ties to GOP strategist is so disrespectful to women and boats.
This week state Republicans caught some bad press when the 'Boats N' Hoes' Super PAC was shut down Thursday. The Political Action Committee was started by a bookkeeper with Houston-based political strategy firm Blakemore & Associates, according to the Texas Tribune.

Houston consultant Allen Blakemore confirmed Wednesday evening that his firm's bookkeeper, Shaun Nowacki, started the PAC, which is a reference to a song from the 2008 film Step Brothers. The committee will be dissolved on Thursday, Blakemore said.

We can't really blame Nowacki for trying to be cheeky, perhaps to try and bolster interest from those apathetic millennials. Still, not a smooth move when the GOP is being called out again and again for disrespecting women. Maybe Nowacki needed to just put a little more thought into the name, rather than lifting it wholesale from a movie.

So, with that in mind, here are some better variations on the Boats 'N Hoes PAC theme that might have passed under the radar of the press.

Humvees N' Hynas
Our inner 15-year-old likes the way this sounds. Take notes GOP, it wouldn't be bad if you're looking to attract Latino voters.

Broads N' Bugatti's
The latest car model to be all over urban radio. This is a potential win for attracting young voters.

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Van de Putte Isn't One of Those Serape-Wearing, Tortilla-Tossing Candidates

Photo by Texas Military Forces
Leticia Van de Putte, who comes from a military family, is getting strong cross-party support in her bid for office.
At the beginning of her campaign for Lieutenant Governor, most voters connected Leticia Van de Putte with the now-legendary Wendy Davis filibuster to stop SB5 and her frustration at being ignored by the presiding chair and bravely remarking, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"

Her courageous remark elicited deafening applause and cheers from the gallery above, which David Dewhurst labeled an "unruly mob." She refused to be silent.

Her struggle to be heard began a long time before that early summer night in Austin. She's been a determined force in Texas politics for 23 years, in both the House, from 1990-1999, and then the Senate.

She's a sixth-generation Tejana of a military family (her maiden name is San Miguel) who grew up during the dark era of segregation in San Antonio. She's raised six children and had a 30-year career as a pharmacist, alongside her husband, Pete Van de Putte.

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Rick Perry: The Rise and Fall of a Boy From Paint Creek

Photo by Ed Schipul
The "we gotcha" moment might be coming for Perry.
After the news of a grand jury's seating and Rick Perry's hiring of defense lawyer David Botsford, the word on the street is, "What took you so long?"

The last time a Texas governor faced possible indictment was almost 100 years ago. In 1917, James "Pa" Ferguson's past shady dealings, which were common knowledge among the well-connected, finally came to light via a quarrel with the University of Texas about removing faculty that "Pa" disliked. When the Board of Regents refused to do Ferguson's bidding, he vetoed practically the entire appropriation for the university.

Is any of this sounding familiar?

Just like Ferguson, Rick Perry allegedly attempted to coerce Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to leave office and upon her refusal, he vetoed $7.5 million in funds to the state Public Integrity Unit. The kicker being that the TCPIU was in the process of investigating him for his laundry list of misdeeds of his 14 years in office.
It went to a grand jury last year, but that panel's term expired.

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Ted Cruz Is Writing a Memoir: Ways He Can Make It Even More Awesome

Really Big Coloring Book
Could this be the cover of Ted Cruz's memoir? Please?

It's finally happening! After all his time in Washington D.C. (he's been there almost two whole years now, folks) Sen. Ted Cruz is finally going to put pen to paper and write about his own oh-so-personal experiences fighting the good fight against pretty much everything that might get him media coverage in D.C.

As one would expect, a bidding war erupted between publishing houses when Cruz started shopping this whole thing around. Totally makes sense. After all, who wouldn't want the privilege of ushering what is sure to be a best-seller literary masterpiece into the world? For a cool $1.5 million HarperCollins has ensured that the honor will be all theirs. Now, Cruz (or, you know, his ghost writer) just has to find time in his busy schedule of lecturing his own party to make the memoir a reality. We, thoughtful and eager future readers that we are, have a few suggestions on what he should include:

5. Canadian Ted. Yes, we know that Cruz has already disavowed his technical Canadian citizenship repeatedly during that slow news cycle last August, but he hasn't actually gotten around to formally renouncing his actual Canadian citizenship. We would like the Cruz memoir to include an alternate reality chapter on Canadian Cruz. What would he have been like if his parents had chosen to raise him in Canada instead of the United States? What would the United States have been like? Also, we want proof at the end of the section that Cruz is definitely for sure not Canadian. And maybe a connect-the-dot puzzle that will allow us to conclude for sure he isn't anything but as American as apple pie. After all, most politicians who write memoirs at this point in their careers tend to end up making a run at the White House. If the book settles that whole Canadian question now, life will be easier for everyone.

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Is Jim Hogan a Trojan Horse in Democratic Runoff?

Making a move for Ag Commish.
Just as we predicted in our cover story on the Texas Agriculture Commissioner race last November, it has turned into one of the best political circuses since Claytie Williams went on his dove hunt, opened his arrogant, chauvinistic pie-hole, and handed Ann Richards the last statewide Democratic victory.

Since the March 4 primary, Democrats have had to face some rather unpleasant realities. Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III, the party's regal-sounding Anointed One, was embarrassed by maverick Richard "Kinky" Friedman and unknown Jimmie Ray Hogan, a Cleburne insurance salesman.

Candidates such as lieutenant governor hopeful Leticia Van de Putte who closed ranks behind Fitzsimons didn't even bother to address Hogan's candidacy, but she not only trashed Friedman in the press, she also hired a phone bank to bad-mouth him just prior to the election.

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Mayor's Anti-Discrimination Proposal May Not Be Wide Enough

Photo by Camilo Smith
Opening the door to more LBGT protections.
It'll be a public statement about discrimination in the City of Houston if a planned anti-discrimination ordinance gets through the council. For her final two years in office, Mayor Annise Parker wants to be working on greening Houston and cutting deeper into the homelessness problem, but it may be the so-called human rights ordinance that gets all the attention.

The wide-ranging anti-discrimination proposal looks to prohibit discrimination in "city employment and contracting, housing and public accommodations." It would include bars, restaurants, retail stores and businesses that serve the public. It's nothing that's different from federal discrimination laws, except for one thing: It adds protections to the gay and transgender community.

"Every other mega city in America has local laws and ordinances that govern how we treat each other. Houston doesn't have any, we default to the federal standards," she said at a press conference on Thursday following her State of the City speech.

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Mayor Parker Talks Crime Lab, Rape Kits and Human Rights at State of the City

Photos by Camilo Smith
Mayor Annise Parker at a press conference following her third State of the City speech.
The biggest applause for Mayor Annise Parker's third State of the City speech probably came when she talked about creating an independent forensics crime lab and when she talked about the work in helping to eliminate a backlog of untested rape kits.

That was part of the speech she gave this afternoon before the Greater Houston Partnership, but later according to her, they weren't the main points of her agenda. Those would be greening the city and improving the situation for the city's homeless. Still, she closed out her speech, and dedicated a press conference to, talking about a draft ordinance she's putting together to protect citizens civil rights, especially for the city's LBGT community.

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