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December 14th, 2012:

Friday random ten: Did the Mayans predict the fiscal cliff?

One more week till the end of the world, which one must admit would be a neat solution to the so-called fiscal cliff. Here’s a Friday random ten that combines the two:

1. Close To The Edge – Yes
2. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – Great Big Sea
3. Argument – from the soundtrack to “Chess”
4. We Just Disagree – Bob Dylan
5. Going To Hell In A Bucket – Grateful Dead
6. Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down – Lyle Lovett
7. 1999 – Asylum Street Spankers
8. On The Other Shore – Austin Lounge Lizards
9. Money – Pink Floyd
10. How Many Times A Fool – Trout Fishing In America

I must confess to some cheating here. As far as I know, the Spankers never recorded a version of their awesome “1999” cover, but I saw them play it live many times. If the world really is about to come to an end, the least they could do is reunite to play it one last time. Also, I don’t own “Going To Hell In A Bucket”, but I heard it on the radio the other day and it’s what inspired this idea. I figure “How Many Times A Fool” is what both Republicans and Democrats are singing to President Obama about now, though with perspectives on it. I could have also included “How You Carry On” by Marcia Ball, which would be Obama’s response to them both. Assuming we’re not actually doomed, I’ll have another Random Ten next week as usual.

Hall inches closer to running

He’s still qualifying it, but Ben Hall sounds like a candidate for Mayor.

Ben Hall

Former city attorney Ben Hall says this time, he’s really ready to run for mayor.

“I intend to be on the ballot, if the Lord gives me good health in 2013,” Hall said.

The longtime trial lawyer has flirted with politics before, almost jumping into the mayor’s race four years ago, when Parker was running for her first term. This time, he says he’s in it to win, and he’s sounding confident.

“We have a strong coalition between moderate conservatives, liberal Democrats, African Americans and Hispanic voters,” Hall said.

Less equivocal than before, but still with an out clause, just in case. Nothing is truly official until the filing deadline, of course, but we’ll know soon enough if Hall really does mean it this time.

But Hall may have company. James Noteware, the city’s former housing director, has confirmed to Eyewitness News that he is seriously considering running for mayor. Mayor Parker hired Noteware in 2010, but he quit earlier this year.

I know even less about Noteware than I do about Hall. To be honest, I don’t know anything about him. Here’s a story about Noteware’s resignation, and a story about HUD rejecting the city’s fair housing effort, which the writer of that piece says is highly unusual. A blog called Harris County Conservative Politics mentioned Noteware as a possible candidate a couple of weeks ago, while also uncritically passing along the rumors of Mayor Parker being appointed to some unnamed position within the Obama administration, which was mentioned in this story and emphatically denied by the Mayor. I first heard that rumor last week, and all I can say is that it makes no sense. Anyway, that’s what I now know about James Noteware after a cursory Google search. As with Hall and the possible Latino candidate Campos alludes to, anyone can say they’re running. Actually running is a whole ‘nother thing.

Perry’s abortion obsession

I suppose the only surprise to this is that it’s taken him this long.

Never again

Proclaiming his ultimate goal to eliminate abortion at any stage, Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday said he would back legislation to ban abortion in Texas after 20 weeks, the point at which he said a fetus can experience pain.

He said he also wants lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to pass a law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges with nearby hospitals, and he wants abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.

“Over the last decade, Texas has taken extraordinary steps to protect the lives of the unborn, but when 80,000 lives are lost to abortion each year in our state, we know our work is far from over,” Perry said, speaking at the Source Pregnancy Center in west Houston.

“Let me be clear, my goal – and the goal of many of those joining me here today – is to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past,” Perry said. “But while Roe versus Wade prohibits us from taking that step, it does allow us, the states, to do some things to protect life if they can show there is a compelling state interest. I don’t think there’s any issue that better fits the definition of a compelling state interest than preventing the suffering of our state’s unborn.”

As the Trib notes, the evidence for “fetal pain” is “unlikely”, but hey, who are ya gonna believe, Rick Perry or a bunch of pencil-necked scientists? Really, I have to wonder why, if this is such a moral imperative, Perry didn’t push it in 2011 when he had the largest majorities in the Lege he’ll ever have, not to mention a Presidential campaign to launch. What was he waiting for? Be that as it may, I’m too tired to be outraged today, so I’ll just point you to Craig Malisow, who lets you know just how awful the people at that Source Pregnancy Center are.

One more thing:

Elizabeth Graham, director of the state-based anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, said her group supports the 20-week ban, but no bill has been filed yet.

Appearing with Perry in Houston, she said her organization would back a measure that includes exceptions for women whose lives are in danger, but not for victims of rape or incest.

Please, by all means, let’s spend the next year or so talking about why women who are raped should not be exempted from this. I’ll pay for Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock’s plane tickets to come and tell us all what they think myself.

The Hall of Fame and guilt by association

John Royal hits on one of the least admirable traits of Hall of Fame voters.

There are some voters out there once again claiming that Jeff Bagwell used ‘roids, and these same folks are claiming that Craig Biggio used them as well. How do they reconcile these statements with the truth that there’s no evidence that either cheated?

They use the eye test and the guilt by association standards. So because Bagwell bulked up and started hitting homers. He’s guilty. And while Biggio didn’t really bulk up, his power numbers also spiked; ipso facto, they both used PEDs. They were also teammates with Ken Caminiti, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens, thus they must have used steroids.

This extreme stupidity has so far kept Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame, and could possibly keep Biggio out this year. And while this line of thinking is moronic, it’s kind of interesting to see if it’s going to keep being applied over the next several years, and if it is applied, will it be applied to all eligible players.

Take next year’s ballot. Among those on the ballot will be Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, two of the best pitchers of the ’90s — they’re also acknowledged as two of the best ever. There have never been any allegations of either of these two taking steroids. Just as there was no suspicion on Biggio while he played. But what makes Maddux and Glavine any different than Biggio?

Both Maddux and Glavine played on teams with Ken Caminiti, Gary Sheffield, and David Justice, who used steroids. Sure, neither Maddux or Glavine looked like they used steroids, but by the unwritten rules being established, neither Maddux or Glavine should be inducted into the Hall of Fame because they are steroid users. And that same argument should apply in about five years when Chipper Jones appears on the ballot.

And if Craig Biggio is supposed to have used steroids because he played with Caminiti, Clemens, and Pettitte, then watching the fools explain why they won’t apply the rule to Derek Jeter when he’s up for induction is going to be like watching a train wreck.

Let’s look at the list of superstar PED users Jeter has been teammates with: Clemens, Pettitte, Justice, Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Chuck Knoblauch, and the Johnny Appleseed of steroids, Jose Canseco. If the excuse for Biggio is guilt by association, then it must be a without a doubt fact that Jeter juiced, and as such, he can’t go into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But the national media and the New York baseball writers will have the vapors if anybody attempts to besmirch the sainted Jeter like this.

I have heard the Bagwell/steroids “accusations”, though I don’t know how much effect that has had on his enshrinement prospects. Honestly, there are a lot of baseball writers out there who just flat don’t get how good Bagwell was, and how much his stats were depressed by the Astrodome early on in his career. The type of voter who never votes for anyone in his first year of eligibility will probably be enough to keep Biggio out this year, but if the same steroids silliness gets attached to his name, who knows what could happen after that. As if I needed another reason to hold this process in contempt.

Don’t write off the University line

Metro certainly hasn’t, judging by what they’re saying.

“Dallas has almost 100 miles of light rail,” Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia told a business luncheon Tuesday. “Certainly we can get to The Galleria.”

What hasn’t been figured out, yet, is how to pay for the project. Federal money was heavily leveraged to get the North Line and Southeast Line to construction, but Metro is assuming a lot of the costs. And the agency is building the East Line without federal money.

In order to attract more federal funds, Metro will still have to pay up to get the University Line going. With a price tag of $1.3 billion, according to the project’s environmental report, that won’t be easy.

That’s what leaves a lot of opponents to the referendum fearing that it will ultimately doom rail. The overwhelming decision by voters to continue general mobility payments to the cities, they worry, will leave Metro with the money to run what it has, but little else.

I never thought the University line would disappear – it’s too useful, and too necessary, for that – but it was clear it would be delayed. I mean, it’s already delayed, but even if Metro could have gotten the full penny of sales tax revenue, there were and are numerous obstacles in its path for this line. The question is how long will it take before Metro feels it can start pushing forward on this again, and what will the status of the existing obstacles be when that happens. I figure the next time to check on that is after the last of the lines that are currently under construction is finished. By that time, the modified GMP will be in place, Metro’s sales tax projections will hopefully be back to where they were before the economic downturn of 2008, and there will be no other big capital projects out there. In the meantime, it’s good to hear Metro talk like this. See the Metro blog for more on their status, and on a tangential note be sure to see Jeff Balke’s story and slideshow about the construction of the other rail lines. Link via Houston Tomorrow.