Thursday, February 28, 2008


Major GOP contributors and party activists have devised a strange new strategy for failure: When you find yourself in a hole, dig deeper.

Twice in the past ten years, Republican turnout in the primaries exceeded Democratic turnout. In 1988, at a time when the GOP was emerging to make Texas a true two-party state, more than a million votes were cast in the R primary. Twenty years later -- after a complete political realignment, twelve years of total Republican domination, and massive population growth -- expect about 600,000 Texans to ask for a Republican ballot.

You can spin this baby all you want. But backwards is backwards is backwards. And that's precisely where Texans Republicans are heading. And some of the biggest donors and consultants are the mechanics rolling back the odometer.


The best explanation your man Billy Clyde can offer comes from a conversation I had with a big-time GOP contributor at an Associated Republicans of Texas dinner about seven years ago. This fellow explained the gameplan like this: "First we get the majority, then we purify."

Purify, of course, means going after those pesky liberal Republicans. I bet people in places like New England and the Great Lakes states would be mortified to learn that there are people to the right of Charlie Geren, Pat Haggerty, Brian McCall and Jim Keffer.

The current House map was drawn to create about 93 Republican districts. Entrenched conservative Democrats like David Farabee, Robby Cook, Jim McReynolds and Mark Homer can't be beat. Rs will just have to wait for retirements. But even taking that into consideration, 93 is a long way from 79, the number of seats currently held by House Republicans.

Democratic strategists can pat themselves on the back all day long, but it doesn't change the fact that this mini-re-realignment is the product of Republican self-tacklezation. The smartest thing Democrats could do is pack a picnic basket, be quiet and watch the opposing team trip all over themselves.

Here's a good anecdotal example of how average Texans think. One of my best buddies is a coach in a suburban Houston school district. His wife practices law part-time in a small insurance defense firm. They have three kids, a dog and a golf cart. They aren't very political, but they always vote. I talked to him on the phone earlier this week.

He recited a litany of things that the Legislature had (or hadn't) done, and I acknowledged that he got it about right. "So," he asked, "why do we keep voting for the Republicans?"

Man, BC was stumped. When the best answer you can come up with is that the Democrats would f*uck it up even more -- well, that's not much of an answer. And certainly a far cry from a ringing endorsement.

I don't foresee Democrats winning a statewide office this year. And the partisan makeup of the Legislature won't change much. But at some point, Republicans better put on their favorite pragmatic hat and quit eating their own. That, or else go back to meeting in a phone booth.

(editors note: Billy Clyde will be making his House predictions tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that. So stay tuned.)

Monday, February 25, 2008


Since Billy Clyde is only 29, he has a limited personal perspective about Texas primaries. But here goes.

First, people keep chiming "move 'em, move 'em up! We want a pony like like the kids in all those other states." Well, for most of Texas' history, we either didn't have primaries or they were held in September. Then, sometime in the 1950s I believe, the state moved them up to May. Where the stayed until 1988.

In 1987, Senator Chet Edwards went on some legislative junket. And he and a bunch of state lawmakers from the South and Southwest got to visiting and hatched up a scheme for a Super Tuesday, to be held on a ridiculously early date in March. The theory went something like this: (1) we band together and give our part of the country major mojo; and (2) produce a more moderate/conservative Democratic nominee (code for no more McGoverns or Mondales, please). Republicans fell in love with the idea, because it would produce an early big-state win for George H.W. Bush.

The Edwards bill sped through the upper chamber faster than a Senator accepting an invitation for free steaks and booze at the Tri-Delt House.

The House was all set to do the same, except someone pointed out that it was gonna be really expensive. And the state was really broke. So instead of having a split primary (March primary for Prez, the traditional May primary for everyone else), someone over at the Cloakroom said, "Just move all primaries to March. That'll solve your money problem right there." I wasn't there, but that innovative soul allegedly got his rather large tab picked up for many, many nights after that.

So the House passed the bill, the Senate concurred, and then-Vice President Bush rushed to Austin to personally sign the bill before Governor Clements could get back from the ranch.

All the the major Democrats came to Texas and started begging -- just begging -- for support. A few went with Dick Gephardt, a few with Bruce Babbitt. But the big winner was a young Congressman from Tennessee named Al Gore.

Speaker Gib Lewis endorsed Gore, and assigned his designated errand boy Representative Rick Perry to organize Gore's Texas effort. The summer before the election, everyone just assumed that Al Gore would sweep the South and Southwest. Ha! We would pull one over on those damn Yankees!

The only non-crazy elected official who backed Michael Dukakis was John Sharp. All the political people went running to him and begged him not to do it.

Sharp was right. Super Tuesday didn't go precisely as planned. And everyone -- even the left-handed homeless anti-nuke save the lesbian whale crowd -- voted for Bush.

But the statewide officials, county officials, and legislators figured out that Super Tuesday did have an upside: it provided almost no time for a potential challenger to beat an established, non-indicted incumbent. Texas may be the deciding state in the D primary this year, but lawmakers will call it a fluke. Look for the Legislature to move it up next session in the name of presidential influence -- with the unspoken added benefit of alleviating members with those pesky campaigns, allowing them to focus their full, undivided attention on fundraising and collecting per diem.

Now, enough of this nerdy stuff. On the heels of Senator Barack Omama's electric, overwhelming events in Austin and across Texas, Billy Clyde started thinking about his electric primary experience.

In 1984, Reagan did nothing and Gary Hart issued a dare -- and that was pretty much that.

The very first stop that President Reagan made after the GOP Convention was right here in Austin. It was an afternoon event on Auditorium Shores that drew 20,000 screaming fans. It reminds me of the afternoon Town Lake event Obama held last year when throngs of people went out in the rain and saw first-hand that yes, indeed, Barack Obama is a rock star. Big time.

If Obama was 25 years older, a former movie star, governor, and white, he'd be Ronald Reagan. They both give great up-lifting speeches, play great theme music, and just create that atmosphere that makes you damn proud to be an American.

BC got a ringside seat four years later, when Houston got to show off its brand spanking new George Brown Convention Center. All the major candidates were still in the race, and it was the debate of the season. There was no alphabet soup of cable news channels (CNN's motto was: The Only Game in Town; Take It or Leave It) and so maybe two or three primary debates was it. Man we had fun that week.

Then there was 1992. As Hillary Rodham will tell you, things don't always go as planned. Bush had an approval rating of 90 percent at the beginning of 1992. Unknown Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton had been in the race two months and was already mired in scandal. But ... well, you know the rest of the story. But it's a good lesson for prognosticators who think their crystal balls don't stink.

The GOP fell into it usual mode in 2006 and picked the guy who was next in line, Bob "Bob" Dole. That didn't worked out too well for Dole, who did manage to parlay his loss into major endorsement deals for Doritos and Viagra.

The primary of 2000 was odd. All the Democrats had to travel around the country and campaign. Bush hung around the Mansion and made everyone come to him. My only real involvement in that campaign was happening to office caddy-corner from the Mansion during the recount, and our parking lot made for a convenient place for the national media to congregate. Lesson learned: the national media are a bunch of litterbugs.

Best I recall, Texas didn't have any presidential primaries in 2004.

Now it's 2008, and Barack Obama seems close to sowing it up and Texas will get the credit. McCain will do better than expected because the New York Times reported that he gets it on with hot blondes in gold cocktail dresses. (Team McCain planted that story.) John Tower must be proud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Craig Watkins releases new John F. Kennedy assassination information and Fidel Castro resigns the same day.

Coincidence? I think not.

Where's Jim Garrison when you need him?

Here are the facts as I understand them. Watkins, the Dallas County District Attorney, learned of a safe full of JFK shooting info that's been sitting around the DA's office for 45 years or so. They include at least some physical evidence (clothes, brass knuckles, a holster -- you know, the usual stuff) and an alleged transcript describing pre-assassination conversations between Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby conducted Ruby's strip club.

Moreover, the DA's office has known the stuff was there all this time and, I suppose, just never got around to telling anyone. Now Billy Clyde understands that there's a backlog in our criminal justice system. But am I the only one who thinks this is a little extreme? It strains credulity to think NO ONE in Dallas County government caught wind of the Warren Commission or the three major Congressional inquiries or the scores of books and movies on this subject.

I challenge the biggest conspiracy theorist on the planet to suggest that the Dallas County District Attorney's office was in cohoots with Cuba, the Soviets, the CIA, the Tri-Lateral Commission and the Mafia. That's not a secret that the gossip hounds at the courthouse could keep for a day -- much less half a century.

As they say on late night infomercials .. but wait, there's more!

Some law enforcement and professional JFK buffs said that what was released was not an actual Oswald-Ruby transcript but -- now fasten your seat belts for this one -- a movie script written by legendary Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade.

Man, I find that hard to believe. Although Billy Clyde only briefly met Mr. Wade a few times, he sure didn't come across as a Hollywood wannabe. If I had to bet, my best guess is that he never even went to the movies -- much less aspired to be a part of the Tinseltown scene.

Governor Connally, who got himself shot up pretty that day, never believed in the Lone Gunman theory or the Magic Bullet theory.

Billy Clyde has no idea what to believe. Except that the DA's office ouught to take all its decades-old files out to the Grassy Knoll every so often and have a look-see. Call it an office picnic.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


You will think that Billy Clyde is just making this up. But I'm not

It was even in the paper.

A sitting Governor of the Great State of Texas is traveling to El Paso to campaign against a sitting House member of his own party. Governor Rick Perry, the Al Gore For President campaign manager here in Texas, now wants to go after Saint Patrick Haggerty because ... well I don't know the because part.

There used to be a rule that incumbents didn't campaign against another incumbent. And certainly not incumbents of your own party. But Governor Perry has spent his tenure in the Governor's Mansion (actually a fancy house in Barton Creek) to eliminate all these rules. Why? It worked so well for so long.

Sure, there's not much I can do about it. But I sent Representative Haggerty a $2,5000 check this morning, Because I'm pissed off. There's no excuse for this kind of behavior. None at all. Why does Rick Perry give a rat's ass about what one-fifth of El Paso County voters think about a part-time citizen legislator? (Part time assuming Perry doesn't call numerous meaningless special sessions.)

Politics is a gross sport. Count me out.

Monday, February 11, 2008



TO: The Honorable Rick Perry

FROM: (redacted) TxDot, (redacted) Tx Dot, (redacted) TxDot

Operation Hide The Ball has come under attack. Pesky House and Senate members are snooping around and have sent the State Auditor our way.

Of course, we have no intention of showing the auditors our real books. Still, with your permission -- and those us here at TxDot never do anything without you permission -- request a slight alteration in our game strategy. A new play in the playbook, you might say. But it requires a pledge on your part to ensure that your forward-looking, ingenious plan to make Texas a leader in transportation strategies becomes the reality that we so much desire.

We need an iron-glad promise of immunity from prosecution. Or at least a guarantee of a quick pardon. Your choice, wise one.

Elected officials and ordinary peons are suggesting that we are hiding money to promote private road building. More troubling, some of the folks are suggesting that the public servants at TxDot are lying -- as if extreme spinning to support your worthy goals is a lie!

We need some direction from our supreme commander. Everyone here is as loyal and committed as a dog seeking table scraps. Should we put our heads down and run through the line of srimmage? Play hide the ball? Run the statue of liberty play? Take our multi-billion ball home and just ignore these pests?

Just give us our marching orders, and we shall march to wherever you take us. Rest assured that none here will be happy until you can totally dominate us like the HHSC, TDI, PUC, etc. We agree with you that legislators, judges, and so-called "citizens" and are bottom-feeders with too much time on their hands.

We just our piece of the pie. And immunity.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


For weeks, if not months, it seems like people with normally good sense and judgment have become obsessed with all this presidential race nonsense. You can't open the morning paper or cut on the teevee set or radio with being deluged with McCain this or Obama that.

So in the interest of diversity, let's talk about the upcoming (okay, it's two-plus years from now) Texas gubernatorial race. There's some interesting stuff going on that front. And it affects us a heckuva lot more that some White House deal.

Here's Billy Clyde's latest news on Governor's Race 2010: Passion For The Mansion.

This came up because someone pointed out to me today that Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan has been hired as the new president of the Texas Rangers organization. That's a job formerly held by Tom Schieffer, who I have a sneaky suspicion just might be the consensus candidate to proudly be the Lone Star State's next main man.

A lot of Texans probably think of Schieffer as nothing more than the former U.S. Ambassador to Australia and the current Ambassador to Japan. But Tom has serious political credentials, including a stint as a real-life duly elected sitting member of the Texas House of Representatives. He also has major business, educational, and charitable cred. And let's face it, if you don't like Tom Schieffer, you just don't like people.

While he may not have the name ID of his brother, who hosts "Face The Nation" and anchored the CBS Evening News, people in the baseball and Metroplex communities know him well. In the Fort Worth area, the Schieffer name is almost as golden as Bass or Geren. While I'm not privy to polling data on the subject, I'd bet he is better known up there than Roger Williams, the former baseball standout and coach at TCU, from which the Schieffer boys hail.

Now I know what some of you skeptics might be thinking: A man of Tom Schieffer's stature would never subject himself to the indignities involved in a gubernatorial race. Plus he'd have to pick a political party and campaign and whatnot. But I bet if we got him in a room with Gib Lewis and Richard Rainwater and Amon Carter and Dan Jenkins and a few other Fort Worth bigwigs ... well, the deal would get cut. Count on it.

To those out there who are members of the "Ye of Little Faith Club," let me give you two really good reasons why us red-blooded salt-of-the-Earth Texans should line up behind Tom Schieffer and nail this thing down: (1) Tom would clear the field and be our next governor; and (2) Rick Perry would get that ridiculous notion of running for another term out of his system.

'Nuff said.