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March 31st, 2012:

Saturday video break: Wichita Lineman

Song #75 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Wichita Lineman”, originally by Jimmy Webb and covered by Glen Campbell. Here’s the original:

Obviously a more recent recording than his original, but it’s the best I can do. Here’s Campbell’s cover:

As was the case last week and as will be the case for the next three weeks we have a cover version (not necessarily the featured one) that is way better known than the original, to the point where you may be saying to yourself “Huh, I didn’t know s/he didn’t write that”. Sometimes that’s because of a change in genre or arrangement, but that’s not the case here. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I suppose as long as the royalty checks come in, the song’s writer isn’t complaining. By the way, am I the only one who can’t help but hear “Like a rhinestone cowboy” whenever I hear Glen Campbell’s name? Damn those K-Tel commercials.

Harris County rejecting fewer voter registrations

In other lawsuit-related news:

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

The only voter ID anyone should need

Harris County officials have rejected far fewer would-be voters since 2008, but Democrats are demanding more proof that voter rolls are not being illegally suppressed – particularly among Hispanics – as another U.S. presidential election approaches.

The two sides [met] in secret mediation Friday as Democratic officials seek assurances the county is following the terms of a 2009 settlement reached after the party challenged Harris County voter reviews in a federal lawsuit. The county’s voter registrations have remained fairly flat at about 1.9 million since 2008, failing to keep pace with a boom in the eligible voting population.

“Harris County continues to fall behind other large cities. Harris County rejects far too many applications and removes far too many eligible voters from the rolls,” Chad Dunn, an attorney for the Democrats, told the Houston Chronicle.

The Chronicle’s own analysis of voter registration data shows county officials denied about 39,000 applications in the last three years – far fewer than the 70,000 rejected as ineligible or incomplete in 2008. Of applications received in 2009 to 2011, about 14 percent were not immediately accepted. A slightly higher percentage of voters with Hispanic last names had applications denied, the Chronicle’s analysis shows.


U.S. District Court Judge Gray H. Miller, who oversees the settlement, ordered both sides to meet with a mediator Friday. If the dispute is not resolved, a hearing has been set next week.

County records show that most unsuccessful applicants from 2009-2011 -35,800 – provided incomplete information, such as leaving parts of the form blank.

As part of the 2009 settlement, Harris County officials agreed to be more flexible in reviewing voter addresses and accept those submitted from so-called commercial properties. However, about 3,000 voters’ applications apparently were red-flagged because of address-related issues in 2009-2011, according to data. In at least a few dozen cases, officials rejected valid addresses mostly from voters living in newly-built homes, the Chronicle found.

They did some good analysis of the rejected applications, so be sure to read the whole story. This action resulted from a followup complaint in 2010 by the TDP, which was itself a result of then-Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez getting in bed with the KSP. If the Tax Assessor’s office is now doing a better job of accepting valid registrations – and sorry, but I’m not going to just accept Don Sumner’s word for that – that’s great, but there’s still a long way to go before they earn any trust. PDiddie has more.

HBU wants a name change

Always a challenging task.

Half a century after being founded by the Baptist General Convention of Texas as “a Christian college of the highest order,” Houston Baptist University may soon erase the religious designation in its name.

Saying that the Baptist tag creates a barrier for potential students, university officials are exploring a name change for the 51-year-old school – a prospect that concerns some alumni who fear HBU’s religious identity would be de-emphasized.

Although an alternative name hasn’t been chosen, one possibility mentioned at an HBU town hall meeting last Thursday was “Morris Christian University,” after Stewart Morris, a founding father and major donor.

At the town hall meeting, one of two held last week, HBU board member Ray Cox Jr. argued that “the name Houston and the name Baptist are somewhat limiting to a national Christian university. … That’s why we are considering changing the name.”

I don’t know, “Morris Christian University” sounds limiting to me. It sounds like a school in a small town. Maybe that’s just me.

In recent years, the school’s profile has shifted significantly from its origins with an inaugural freshman class of 193 students. Only about one-third of HBU’s 2,500 students are Baptist.

Last year, the university voted to add three non-Baptists to the board of trustees, making HBU the first university affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas to allow non-Baptist trustees.


The HBU-commissioned survey of 1,129 current and prospective students and faculty showed that the current name wasn’t the best fit with the university’s vision of becoming “a comprehensive national Christian university,” Mark Denison, a board member and chairman of the name change committee, said at the town hall.

Denison said officials are also considering dropping Houston from the university’s name because the geographical term is limiting. He noted most of the students come from three surrounding counties.

The timing of the change coincides with the school’s transition to the Southland Conference and the addition of football in 2014, Denison said.

I suppose they could go the TCU route and decide that the acronym is the name. As we know from the UH-Downtown experience, it’s not easy finding a new name that enough people like, or at least don’t dislike. The committee will present its findings in May, so we’ll see what they come up with. Greg has more.

Presidential Pinterest

A while back I wondered if political campaigns would try to leverage Pinterest as part of their social media strategy. At least one well-known campaign has now jumped on it.

Obama cupcakes

In case you missed it, Barack Obama [Tuesday] officially became the first U.S. President to launch a Pinterest page. His campaign staff announced the move on Twitter today.


Obama is not the first to use Pinterest for political purposes. Groups like liberal-leaning Think Progress have employed it to poke at GOP candidates. Ann Romney, wife of GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, has a page of her own to collect recipes and post campaign photos.

So what will the president use his page for? Well, if his current social media strategy is any indication, he will use it to disseminate his popular memes — catchy images and videos designed specifically to spread virally on the web (His campaign Tumblr page also is used for the same purpose). Already, Obama’s Pinterest page has some pep to it. The page features photos of dogs wearing Obama gear, cakes shaped like Obama’s campaign logo and even disarming photos of the president himself.

Welcome to Political Campaigns circa 2012.

Indeed, and note that the fact that there’s also a Presidential Tumblr page wasn’t even worth remarking on. As long as your campaign has the resources to ensure these different campaign platforms remain lively and updated, I’d say you can’t have too many ways to communicate with voters. Who do you think will be the first Texas officeholder or candidate to climb on the Pinterest bandwagon?