Stace at Dos Centavos reports that the city of Farmers Branch passed an ordinance requiring all renters for housing in the city to get a "renters permit" from the city, which expects to use a "federal database" to check to see that the renter is not an illegal alien.
One problem: No such database exists. Does the Farmers Branch City Council do any research at all before passing silly ordinances?
Tell me again how that "Bush-o-nomics" voo-doo is working? Just what substance is it that has "trickled down" upon us?
Of course, there will be those who refuse to face facts and believe that more of the same will be the solution. That's right - pouring gasoline on the fire has failed to extinguish it so far, so we must not be using enough.
"According to the Federal Reserve’s large-scale econometric model, a one percentage point drop in the federal funds rate enacted immediately would add nothing to the level of GDP in the current quarter, 0.1 percent next quarter, 0.4 percent by the end of the year, and 1.0 percent by the end of next year."
(emphasis mine) Hang on. This could be a tough ride.
It's Sunday night again and that means it's time for another weekly roundup of Texas Progressive Alliance blogs. This week's roundup is brought to you by Steve at WhosPlayin while Vince recovers from his wild weekend of covering the AFL-CIO Convention
Yesterday, a friend of mine called me to bring my attention to a website spoofing Denton County Commissioner Cynthia White’s campaign website. The real website for Republican, Cynthia White’s campaign is www.cynthiawhite.com. It seems that someone bought cynthiawhite.info, (purposely not hyperlinked) then copied some images and layout and made it look like a very poorly done campaign website, complete with ignorant misspellings and grammatical mistakes.
I will admit that at first, I had a bit of a chuckle. After all, Cynthia White is a very outspoken and controversial figure who is quite often in the public spotlight. She was one of the figures behind attempting to sell state highway 121 to the Spanish company Cintra to operate the new toll road. WhosPlayin has written previously about her using the County website for self promotion. We also gave her some encouragement for her music career.
But this spoof website was really over the top, and way beyond parody. It was the kind of bitter vitriolic stuff that just turns most people off of politics. Whatever you may think about Cynthia White, there are more civil ways to disagree. This particular website was just very juvenile.
Even worse is that if you sit idly on the main page of the spoof site for 40 seconds, your browser will be directed to www.hughcoleman.com - the campaign website of Hugh Coleman, a Denton attorney challenging Ms. White in the Republican primary this March. When I saw that, I had two immediate impressions:
1. Republicans in Denton County are fighting each other. Good for the Democrats! 2. This Coleman fellow must be a really mean or really stupid.
I wanted to fire off a quick blog post, not so much to defend Cynthia White, but to blast Coleman for such a dirty trick.
But as you know, things aren’t always what they seem. It quickly occurred to me that perhaps someone wanted to make people think that Coleman did this. Maybe it was a misguided Coleman supporter. Perhaps it was even Cynthia White trying to make Coleman look bad. Nah, I can’t imagine Ms White doing that to herself.
Since I’ve published things before that I later regretted, I figured it would be best if I got in contact with Mr. Coleman and Ms. White to ask them what they knew. I dashed off a couple of emails and went about trying to determine who might have put up the site.
The “whois” information for the cynthiawhite.info domain shows that it is registered privately through a different registrar than Mr. Coleman’s website. The two websites are hosted on entirely different networks. I examined the HTML source code of the two websites, which can differ like handwriting, and the sites are not similar. The spoof website contains "meta" tags which assist search engines like Google in placing the content in search results.
So, early in the day, Hugh Coleman called me. He had been unaware that the spoof website redirected to his own website until I inquired about it with his campaign. I could tell from his voice that he was fairly upset about it. He was concerned that others would have the same impression that I did. I asked him directly whether his campaign had anything to do with it, and he categorically denied it saying, "Why on Earth would I do something like this, when there is plenty of material out there on Ms. White’s public statements and voting records. I have signed the Fair Campaign Practices document, and I intend to stick by it."
I asked if he might know of any of his supporters who might have done such a thing. He didn’t have any ideas about who that might be, but asked that I let him know if I found out anything.
I did some research to see if perhaps there were any other political websites in the county similar to cynthiawhite.info, but perhaps associated with another officeholder or candidate. I noted that the .info top-level domain name is fairly uncommon. So when one of my sources pointed me to dentoncounty.info, it quickly became apparent to me that whoever did the Cynthia White spoof also did this website, which contains various links to sites named for former Denton County District Attorney Bruce Isaacks, his wife, Judge Vicki Isaacks, pedophile and former Constable Larry Dale Floyd, Former County Judge Scott Armey, former Sheriff Weldon Lucas, and a litany of others.
Whoever this person is, their M.O. appears to be buying domain names and setting up spoof websites.
I spoke with Cynthia White about the spoof website. She had been aware of the website for some time, but it was news to her that it was now redirecting to Coleman’s website. “It’s unfortunate that we have this type of tactic,” she noted. “But, it’s not totally unexpected. I’m familiar with the tactics of that faction, and it is about par for this county,” said White. She indicated that she suspected it was probably someone affiliated with Coleman’s campaign, though she couldn’t be sure. White explained that she stays too busy to deal with things like this, but that the tactic seemed to be a violation of ethics rules and that she was weighing her legal options.
I asked Ms. White whether she had seen any of the other spoof sites mentioned above, and she said she hadn’t, but that she would take a look. (She wasn’t near her computer at the time) When asked about Coleman’s denial and denouncement of the spoof site, she wondered aloud why “[Coleman] had been seen telling people about the site”.
As it turns out the practice of spoofing a website might not be an entirely new concept for Ms. White. In 2004, Cynthia White was challenged for her seat by former Sheriff Weldon Lucas. In January of 2004, a Lisa Polster, apparently acting on Ms. White’s behalf bid on weldonlucas.com domain name, which was at the time for sale.: http://web.archive.org/web/20040131050403/http://weldonlucas.com/
Ten minutes after Lisa Polster bid $300 to rent the site for 3 months (just long enough for the primary), someone with an email address beginning with "campaign@" offered $500.
Lisa Polster is a Republican political operative who formerly worked for Congressman Dick Armey, for whom Cynthia White was a constituent liason from 1989 – 1995.
The very next snapshot of the weldonlucas.com domain, taken on March 26, shows the same type of format used in the cynthiawhite.info page. Note the web counter used on the bottom of the page. There are other clues embedded in the HTML source which correlate to the spoof website. Though sources say that weldonlucas.com redirected to the White campaign website, the archived versions do not contain the code that causes a redirect, or any defamatory text. The removal of the redirect could be a feature of the archive system.
Update: Cynthia White had the following comment regarding the Lucas website redirection:
"I 'inquired' about purchasing the domain but never did and unbeknownst to me the company, (I didn't know the name of the person I was dealing with as they didn't release that information to me) re-directed it to my campaign website...I was the victim but somehow came out looking like I had authorized the actions of this company."
Phyllis Wolper, the Democratic candidate who will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election in November returned our call, but declined to comment specifically on the spoof website issue, other than that it had only been brought to her attention very recently. Ms. Wolper stated that she preferred to talk about serious issues facing the residents in her precinct. (We’ll post those separately later...)
I further investigated the similarities between the spoof websites and the personal website of a former Denton County employee who at one point had a lawsuit against the county, and whose name was mentioned in several news articles. At this point, I’m not going to release his name, but I’d say that I’m about 95% certain who put up this spoof website and several others like it. I mentioned the name to Ms. White, but she said that she knew the name, but did not know him personally.
As of Friday night, Coleman’s website had a notice on the bottom of the front page:
“It has been brought to our attention that an unknown party has created a fake website regarding our opponent that has directed people to this site. We are not responsible for the website nor do we condone such actions.”
Coleman said that his website designer would take technical steps to prevent the redirection, and that if he could find out who put up the spoof site, he would ask them to cease and desist.
Points for creativity, but the spoof website is not cool. Though we can certainly understand why people are unhappy with Cynthia White – especially the person who felt he was wronged in a legal matter – we prefer to keep politics more civil.
I suppose there may be some of my fellow Democrats who might have seen this situation pragmatically as Republicans tearing each other up in the primary, and wonder why in the hell I would become involved. The answer is that I believe in the Democratic process and that to keep it alive, we must keep it honest. Allowing something like this to reflect on Coleman, if he's not involved, is as bad if not worse than what was done to Ms. White. It would have been one thing to express opinions regarding Ms. White's abilities, professionalism, or record. But to simply mock her by making it look like she can’t spell is childish and counter-productive. It’s the type of thing that turns off regular citizens from participating. I think you have to judge it from the standpoint of “What if everyone did this?”
In the course of investigating this, I uncovered way more crime, corruption, and cronyism than we should have for a county of this size. I really hope that the voters of Denton County will take the time to research ALL (and I do mean ALL) of their elected officials before they vote.
I'll try to publish updates if I learn anything more. If you have information, please shoot an email to the webmaster, or leave a comment. Lets hope we can get through the campaign season without any more dirty tricks.
It pains me to have to write a post like this, but occasionally people abuse internet hyperlinks or "links" to make it look as if a given website is associated or affiliated with another. Case-in-point: Say you're an aspiring politician and someone posts a nasty and illegal attack ad regarding your opponent, then links from this site to your website? It can make you look bad.
Well, luckily there is a solution that allows the webmaster of one site to basically disallow or redirect links from a site they don't approve of.
Here's how it works:
1. Copy and paste this code in the HTML of your webpage:
2. Customize the line in RED, that begins with "checkLink". Replace "badwebsite.com" with as much of the URL of the linking website as you want. Generally, if you want to block the whole domain from linking, just include the domain name. The second argument is the link to a page of your choice that will explain to the user why the link is being denied. You may use the link provided, or send in "" (a blank value), or insert your own special web page. You must include the full URL of the page that you want to redirect to.
3. Repeat only step #2 as needed by inserting as many checkLink() lines as you need to.
Let us know how it works for you.
THIS SCRIPT IS OFFERED FREE WITH ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTIES EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
I was awakened this morning by squeals of joy from my sons, having discovered that their fish tank has a couple of new residents. We've had a 20 gallon tropical tank for years, but this was the first time we've ever noticed surviving offspring. We have a breeding pair of yellow and red guppies. The fry are less than a centimeter long, but otherwise just look like smaller versions of their mother.
The kids are trying to decide what to name them. I hope the other fish don't eat them.
It's been a shitty day. As I sit down to write this, I don't know for sure what I'll write. For all I know, I may delete this post just like the dozens of others I've started and left unfinished.
First, I haven't posted much lately. I know that. It's not that I feel obligated, but it's frustrating to me because it's not that I haven't been working on it. I've got a whole stack of unfinished posts.
What I keep finding lately is that the more I dig, the more obscure the truth becomes. Funny thing Truth is. One thing I don't want to do is add to the bullshit out there clogging up the inter-tubes of the net. And I'm not just talking about political shit either. I mean basic things like science that should be fairly easy and unambiguous. As an example, the most popular post on this website - by orders of magnitude - is something I dashed off one day about "ionic foot baths" of all damn things. I'm amazed at the lack of critical thinking shown by the American public when it comes to shit like this. Here you have a pseudo-scientific "treatment" that at best has a placebo effect. There is not one single peer-reviewed clinical study on this, yet people line up to throw money at it.
Further, if someone merely points out the lack of evidence, they are accused of being in the pockets of the "medical establishment". (They don't know me, do they?)
Anyhow, just about any subject you want to look up - if somebody stands to gain something from spreading disinformation - you'll find loads of unsubstantiated crap.
For instance, I started to write last week about a weird problem I'm having with my electric blanket. As I do research to find what other people think, I discover that there is a bit of controversy about electric fields that these things generate. Good grief. You've got folks who think that power lines and electric blankets cause electromagnetic fields that uh - "do bad things" to the human body. Then you have other folks who say that's all a hoax. Then you have people who say the hoax is a hoax and cite unspecified studies that prove the assertion that they're dangerous. WTF?
So earlier tonight we had CNN on, and the Republican presidential candidates pandering in Michigan were spewing such utter nonsense to the poor folks over there who have suffered so badly under Republican policies. I'm not talking about subjective things that are even arguable. Nope - I mean shit that doesn't even make sense. Tell me something: If you don't have a fucking job, how is "tax relief" for other people going to help you? And suddenly this talk about change? Give me a damn break. They were all tripping all over themselves kissing George W. Bush's ass the past few years.
I'm tired, dammit. I wonder sometimes why I should even give a crap. Why do I care so much about where my country is going when most of the American public is making a head-long dash into a new self-imposed serfdom that worships the rich and feeds itself on the crack and heroin of xenophobia and celebrity voyeurism.
Yep, I guess you could say that I'm discouraged. There are better ways I could be spending my time if I didn't care so much. Sometimes I do just feel like saying to hell with it all. I could focus my time on making money, or I could find a hobby where I don't get attacked by ignorant assholes who can't possibly fathom why someone might have an opinion that differs with theirs.
The following is a press release from the Texas Progressive Alliance - of which WhosPlayin.com is a member: Texas Progressive Alliance Announces First Slate Of TexRoots 2008 Endorsed Candidates
AUSTIN — The Texas Progressive Alliance today announced it first slate of endorsed candidates for the 2008 election cycle. The six candidates endorsed today will become the first TexRoots candidates to benefit from the Alliance’s endorsement and online fund-raising efforts for 2008.
“This is a slate of true progressive candidates,” said Texas Progressive Alliance Chairman Vince Leibowitz. The list of six candidates includes both incumbents and challengers in Democratic Primary races ranging from Texas House of Representatives to United States Senate.
“We believe that these men and women will best represent the interest of Texans and will take the lead on progressive issues,” Leibowitz continued.
The TPA’s first slate of 2008 TexRoots Candidates is as follows:
Rick Noriega, United States Senate. On March 4, Texas Democrats have a clear choice for their nominee for U.S. Senate: Rick Noriega. Noriega has the experience necessary to serve as a United States Senator and to take on Bush lap-dog U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the fall. Faced with three token primary opponents, only one of whom is even running what could be called a “legitimate campaign,” Noriega is the clear choice not only because he is right on important issues such as the war and CHIP, but because he is a true progressive who has a proven record of accomplishment for the people of Texas.
Joe Jaworski, State Senate, District 11. Joe Jaworski (D-Galveston), a former Galveston City Councilman, has taken a very strong stance on environmental issues which are especially important in Senate District 11 and statewide. Jaworski faces token primary opposition and will likely face State Sen. Mike Jackson (R-LaPorte) in the 2008 General Election. Jackson has one of the worst environmental records of any legislator in the entire Texas Legislature and has failed for several sessions to make any meaningful legislative headway on issues important to his constituents.
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, State House, District 147. Coleman (D-Houston), is one of the leading progressives in the Texas House of Representatives, and has been at the forefront of important progressive issues including the Children’s Health Insurance Program, reproductive freedom, and gay rights. A member of the House Democratic Leadership, re-electing Coleman is key to ensuring that the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature has a strong, progressive voice. Coleman faces a primary opponent.
State Rep. Jessica Farrar, State House, District 148. Farrar (D-Houston), is another strong progressive voice in the Texas House. Farrar was a leading voice in the 80th Texas Legislature on issues including the HPV vaccine, stem cell research, and against Governor Rick Perry’s arrogant Homeland Security power-grab. Farrar is one of a handful of Democrats who voted against Craddick in 2005 and, as a result, was relegated to the Agriculture Committee for taking her stand. Farrar faces a former staffer from her office who is believed to be supported by anti-progressive forces in Austin. Farrar is a progressive leader and Texans across the state need her back in the Texas House in 2009.
State Rep. Paul Moreno, State House, District 77. Moreno (D-El Paso), is the Dean of the Texas House of Representatives and one of the House’s strongest voices on civil rights issues. Moreno, a seasoned veteran of many progressive struggles, faces an unknown opponent with no experience in government. Moreno deserves re-election, and Texas needs Moreno’s leadership on civil rights and progressive issues in the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature. Armando Walle, State House, District 140. Walle (D-Houston), is seeking to unseat Rep. Kevin Bailey (D-Houston), who has been ineffective for his district on progressive issues. Unseating Bailey is a necessary step toward a new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Walle has worked for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Gene Green, and has strong ties to his district and, we believe, will be a better voice for District 140 than its existing representation.
Brian Thompson, State House, District 46. Thompson (D-Houston), faces State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) who has cast a number of votes which are against the interest of her district. A win in this district is yet another step toward electing a new Speaker of the Texas House in 2009. Thompson, an attorney, has strong ties to his district and will be a much needed progressive voice in a district which, for too long, has been governed by a member who consistently votes against the interests of her constituents.
“We strongly believe these candidates are the best men and women to shape the future of Texas,” said Charles Kuffner, Vice Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance. “These men and women are ready to fight for the interests of ordinary Texans in Washington, D.C., and in Austin,” Kuffner said.
“As progressive activists, we believe it is important to support those who will, when elected, work to further the progressive cause and fight the Republican machine tooth and nail to do what is best for the people of Texas and not the special interests,” Leibowitz noted. “We must continue to elect not only more, but better Democrats to office in Texas,” he concluded.
Here is a video of Ken Leach's announcement speech for the Denton County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign kickoff on January 2nd, 2008:
In the past couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to sit with Ken Leach and get a sense of who he is. I've got to say that one-on-one, he's a very engaging and intelligent fellow. He's not slick and polished, but he's done an incredible amount of work and research. He actually got on the ballot by collecting signatures from about 700 voters, rather than just paying the filing fee like most folks.
In the coming months, I hope to be able to bring you more information about Ken and what his priorities will be if he is elected.
My kids are already sold on Ken Leach - not because they know politics, but because they are good judges of character, and Ken is good with children. Ken does magic tricks for a hobby, and the kids love that stuff.