Thursday, November 15, 2007


If a better movie trailer has ever existed right here on God's Green Earth, Billy Clyde damn sure hasn't seen it.

In less than three minutes, Director Extraordinaire Mike Nichols gives us Charlie Wilson one-liners, a hot tub scene, anti-Ruskie stuff, Jimi Hendrix guitar riffs, secret CIA war insight, Julia Roberts, cursing, hot chicks in bikinis, genuine Texas swagger, the defeat of the Soviet Union, and Don McClean singing "Bye Bye Miss American Pie."

The naysayers can all go to Hades. This state is still strong and proud. Now watch the best talkie trailer of all time, right here, at ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Pretty much everyone knows that Billy Clyde doesn't pay attention to presidential politics until it really counts.

I usually check in -- briefly -- about mid-November. Then do another look-see in early December. I give the race my full attention during breakfast on my birthday (December 19th; six days before Jesus!; shop early and often!; 39 years old again!) and send out the BC preliminary analysis to my old spy friends and party apparatchicks in the former Soviet Union.

The tried and trued evaluation meter has to be recalibrated after today's somewhat shocking news that Rudy Giuliani, a former U.S. Attorney, and Hillary Rodham, a former corporate lawyer in Little Rock, have both dropped out of the race. Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, John Edwards and some guy name Barack Obama quickly followed suit. Bill Miller, who was Barry Goldwater's runningmate in 1964, and former vice president Walter Mondale jumped into the race to fill the void.

But of course you knew all that. You have radio.

It's a little premature to make any kind of formal announcement. But Billy Clyde just might enter the fray. First things first, though. Gotta figure out if I'm "natural born". Heard something as a kid about a C-section, but that could just be my imagination playing tricks on me. I'm pretty certain, however, that I am not the product of an immaculate conception. So I got that going for me.

A Democrat has a chance of winning in 2008. Maybe Oprah? A moderate Republican like Claytie Williams also looks good. But I have something that Oprah and Claytie don't: a poorly thought-out 10-point plan.

1) Blackjack will be proclaimed the Official National Gaming Sport. Also, dealers must hit hard 17s, 18s, and 19s.

2) The Bush Twins, who have White House experience, will be my unofficial First Ladies.

3) Every member of the Texas House (except Leo Berman, Roberto Alonzo, and Linda Harper-Brown) gets a high-ranking federal post -- if they want one.

4) Through a untried yet true use of the Presidential Signing Statement, I shall grant the Houston Astros the unchallenged right to one player on every other MLB team.

5) O.J. Simpson gets a blanket pardon. I mean, he was found Not Guilty of decapitating his wife and killing her boy toy. Now they want to give him life in prison because of an ownership question about signed footballs. Enough's enough.

6) The United Nations will not get a nickel of U.S. taxpayer money unless the headquarters is moved to Huntsville, Texas, USA.

7) Congresswomanperson Mary Bono, who is marrying Congressman Connie Mack The Junior, will be in my Cabinet. But I won't go skiing with her.

8) The White House speech-writing office will bust the union strike and go to work for the Late Show With David Letterman show -- but only if Ralph Hall is the permanent host.

9) War with Iran will be a top priority. No more messin' around.

10) Your Federal Government will insist that Bird Flu be eradicated by 2025.

Ambitious? Populist? Self-Serving? Yes Yes Yes. Early polling shows this platform enjoying overwhelming support amongst men in the the critical 31-32 age bracket and women who are 43 but claim they are 38. That gives Billy Clyde a huge-ass lead over other supposed frontrunners like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinch.

So the wannabes of 2008 will just have to wait. This is mine, baby. If I want it.

Monday, November 12, 2007


While reestablishing my Texas roots this weekend, I reverted to an old habit that I just can't seem to break. I read the clips.

One article (available on the Internets for those with on-line high-speed World Wide Web digital high-tech computer access at caught my eye. Now R.G. Ratcliffe is not as dim-witted and uninformed as people claim. He's actually pretty good. I'll fill in a few of the blanks he left in his piece that daringly revealed that 1) Tom Craddick is Speaker of the House; 2) he wants to keep that gig; and 3) he's actively campaigning to retain the post. As a general rule, I'm reluctant to mix "facts' and "math" and "the obvious" with politics. But the inner egg-head in me felt that I should share this with you -- and at a reasonable price.

These are the House members who were chairmen last session but have since split the sheets with the Speaker:
The Honorable Byron (short order) Cook, Civil Practices
The Honorable Joe Deshotel, Economic Development
The Honorable Jim Keffer, Ways and Means
The Honorable Patrick (by any other name) Rose, Human Services

These former Craddick chairmen were busted before the session started:
The Honorable Craig (born on the) Eiland, Pensions and Investments
The Honorable Jim (life's the) Pitts, Appropriations
The Honorable Allan Ritter, Ways and Means
The Honorable Robert Talton, Urban Affairs
The Honorable Buddy (go) West (young man), Energy Resources

These Chairman just upped and quit:
The Honorable Dianne (Scott and) White Delisi, Public Health
The Honorable Fred (mountain out of a mole) Hill, Local Ways and Means
The Honorable Robert "Bobby Bridge" Puente, Natural Resources

And these Chairman have more than hinted that they are off the reservation:
The Honorable Kevin (Barnum and) Bailey, Urban Affairs
The Honorable Tracy (it's good to be) King, Border and International Affairs
The Honorable Mike Krusee, Transportation

Throw in a Speaker Pro Tem who wants your job and a freshman Republican who switched parties. Add five chairmen -- Chisum, Swinford, Driver, Smithee, and Hardcastle -- whose first loyalty was with Pete Laney. And consider that certain delegations (El Paso, Travis, and Nueces counties, for example) have no Speaker loyalists and ... well, you get the picture.

Billy Clyde ain't saying that Tom Craddick can't go out and get himself re-elected as Speaker. The point, if there is one, is that losing supporters when you're hanging on by a thread makes thing pretty darn tricky. I'd suggest that, with all the opposition already out there, you might want to think real hard hard before throwing any more friends overboard.

As they taught us in the Piney Woods, you can't kill your parents then beg for mercy because you're an orphan.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Billy Clyde is a longtime fan of The Reverend Gerald Mann, who served as House and Senate chaplain for many years. One of his books was titled "Wait To Worry." The basic theme was don't sweat the small stuff, cuz it's all small stuff.

But I have to gripe about (1) the sheer inaness of trying to predict a Texas Governor's race this far out; and (2) the utter lack of historical context that the supposed "pundits" show in providing insider analysis.

Here, in my opinion, are the least credible persons on the subject of politics:

1) Actors, actresses, and the people who direct and produce them

2) Television anchors and reporters (Elise Hu is good -- the exception to the rule)

3) Newspaper reporters (Karen M. Brooks, however, rocks)

4) Lobbyists (Machree Gibson gets it)

5) Government/Political Science professors (though Jim Henson at UT seems bright)

6) Political Party officials/staffers (okay, I like Hans; who doesn't?)

7) Conspiracy theorists

8) Talk radio hosts

9) Bloggers

10) Dave McNeely (never even close to correct in 40 years; A RECORD!!)

Here, in my opinion, are the best barometers of electoral success or failure:

1) Bankers

2) Call girls

3) People who describe themselves as "self-employed investor"

4) Bartenders

5) Pollsters

6) Country singers

7) Novelists who don't base stories in outer space, ancient times, or China

8) Real estate agents

9) Mexican consul officials

10) Nude dancers

Every newspaper pundit type person portrays Kay Bailey Hutchison as the front runner. I'd agree. She has a track record of getting elected, the connections that win elections, the puff and the stuff, the polish and the shine and the meal on which you want to dine. Her work ethic has made her a hero to local city and county officials and Chamber-type folks -- a pretty decent base for a statewide election. Plus the red-clad Republican women.

Though for the life of me, I can't understand why Roger Williams is not at the top of the list on the GOP side. The guy has business, political, and sports experience. He's rich, and can raise tons of money. He's smooth and friendly. The dude is very smart and can play the good-ol-boy routine like the harp.

Rick Perry is the only Republican Governor who served in elected office before getting the top job. GOP voters don't vote for people who have won previous elections (see Bill Clements, Clayton Williams, George W. Bush; don't see Ray Hutchison, Kent Hance, Tom Leoffler) and prefer business types and outsiders -- although a modicum of tangential government experience is tolerated.

Roger Williams is smooth as silk. Great public speaker. Good in small groups. Unparalleled network of business people, community leaders and donors. David Dewhurst is shy, isolated, strange, and unproven. Roger is outgoing, plugged in, down-to-earth, and accomplished. So why do the papers and newsletters keep mentioning Dewurst as a gubernatorial candidate and ignore Roger Williams? Dumbassedness?

Of course, anything can happen in two years. Just a year ago, everyone with a brain just assumed that Don Evans would be our next governor. And the road is littered with people who Kay Hutchison has beaten (the loss to Steve Bartlett was her sole defeat). Her name on the ballot against a popular figure like Roger Williams could produce the first 1 million+ voter turnout in a GOP primary since 1988.

Capitol Establishmaterians can print and say whatever they want. The truth, however, is that David Dewhurst, despite his personal money, doesn't have a cut dog's chance of getting elected governor. Kay could very well get elected. Roger probably will.


This is painful to say. It goes against my very fabric and fiber. Yet I must speak the truth, so that it shall set us free.

The voters in Texas this week were a bunch of weak-kneed painty-waist sheeples.

There. I said it.

The Legislature placed 16 Constitutional amendments on the ballot for the voters' consideration, and every one of them passed by a comfortable margin. By an electorate that writes letters to the editors, calls talk radio, yells at the teevee, litters the clear evening sky with shotgun pellets, joins fringe groups, shouts at small children who dare to step on on a well-manicured lawn, complains about taxes and the no-good politicians who assess them, and generally carry on in a grumpy disposition -- certain that the powers-that-be are out to get them and ruin the Texas Way Of Life.

But voting? Sending a message via the ballot box? Reminding the fat cats in Austin who's REALLY the boss?

Nah. Not so much.

I mean, why send a message to the governing class when Bill O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs will do it for you? Why get involved in the political process when you can sit around and bitch about Hillary Clinton's presidency at your Wednesday poker game? Who has time to vote when there's a 5-percent-off sale at the Wal-Mart?

It's like the old boy who was asked if he were ignorant or just apathetic. He replied: "I don't know and I don't care."

Okay, now let's return to today's subject: the recent additions to the guiding framework of our state government. About half of the proposed amendments were no-brainers. Another four or so were close calls. The remaining four were so awful that Homer Simpson and Al Bundy could have led a successful drive against passage. But for some reason the "no" button wasn't working on the voting machines this week. Now, I'm all for being polite and all. But casting a "no' vote doesn't make you rude.

To its credit, Texas has always been frugal in its public spending, taxing, and borrowing. This is good. I'd rather waste money my very own self than have politicians do it for me. Yet the majority of voters, while sticking with the low tax/low spending deal, seem to be whole hog crazy about borrowing money and letting others pay it back some day. It's the 30-year Wimpy Plan: I'll gladly pay you Tuesday in 2040 for a hamburger today.

Billy Clyde, your man on the scene here, was not actually on the scene here on Election Day (I did vote early and flat wore out that "no" button). BC was in Washington State, which also had an election on Tuesday. The raw turnout was roughly the same in the Lone Star State and the Evergreen State. Difference is, Texas is home to about 24 million fine folks; Washington has about six mil.

Washingtonians opposed new taxes, sided with plaintiff lawyers over insurance companies, voted against an expensive Trans-Texas-style road plan, handcuffed school boards' ability to raise new money, and just said no to all new debt programs. The voters there -- get this! -- actually went into the booth and played the pick and choose game, in a semi-educated fashion, and took it seriously. Hell, if I didn't know better, I would have thought it was a well-informed electorate participating in a functioning democracy.

But let's get back to Texas.

Texans -- particularly those, like me, who grow up in rural East Texas -- abhor debt. Overdraft protection on your primary checking account is considered Communist. We'd rather quit our jobs and personally go build a new school than incur a penny of bonded indebtedness. If you are ever faced with the personal humiliation of having to borrow a cup of milk from a neighbor, you repay the debt promptly with a fat dairy jersey.

Our esteemed lawmakers, and by extension the voters who keep sending them to Austin, seem to think they have found a winner in the low-tax/low-spend/heavy-borrow political model. I mean, why should I pay for something when I can send the tab to the half-wit 12-year-old down the street? By the time the piper comes a calling, I'll be living in my paid-for, property-tax-frozen house and going to the movies for half price on my AARP card. The only time I'll worry about inflation is when it comes time to calculate my Social Security COLA.

Billy Clyde used to get mad at national Democrats for criticizing Ronald Reagan for his deficit spending. See, Reagan had a plan. Spend so much on defense that the Soviet Union collapsed, make sure nothing was left over for domestic spending, and cut taxes. (Win, Win, Win) Reagan didn't create a lot of national debt on a lark. He had a plan. And a damn good one.

The Texas Legislature, on the other hand, doesn't have a plan. If it did, it would be a piss poor one. Riddle me this, Batman: Why run a multi-billion dollar surplus in a short-term budget cycle in anticipation of local property tax cuts that are unlikely to materialize and the people don't seem to care about much anyway (though they should) and leave huge chunks of available revenue in the state kitty while issuing debt for things like pencils and toilet paper?

Remember that Wimpy hamburger deal that your dude Billy Clyde talked about a while back? I'd rather just pay for Wimpy's five dollar hamburger than pay 75 cents for it each year for 30 years. Call me crazy! Call me brilliant! Call me handsome! Hell, just call me!

The last time Texans took on state-level debt of this magnitude was in the mid-to-late 80s, when the oil and gas, real estate and financial services industries all sunk lower than whale feces. Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby proposed the "Build Texas" program, a sorta low-rent WPA-type deal. Texas voters approved about half of it. Texas also approved some pretty big prison bond programs 15 years or so ago. But other than that, we have always prided ourselves in our pay-as-you-go mentality.

If the people of Texas really want to become a "borrow and spend" state and abdicate fiscal responsibility ... well, there ain't much Billy Clyde can do about it. Except bitch. And, dear friends, bitch I shall.