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October 15, 2006

Fred Head, Anti-Porn Crusader
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:05 PM *

Presented for your consideration: Fred Head, Democrat of Texas. He wants to be the next state comptroller. To that end, he’s decided that there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned smear against his Republican opponent, Susan Combs.

Now there’s lots that you could say about a Republican. She belongs the party of corruption, incompetence, and cronyism. The party of Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, and Mark Foley. The party of torture. The party of warrantless surveillance. The party of indefinite detention without charges. The party that canceled habeas corpus. The party of aggressive war. The party of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

The Republicans are the party that’s trying to dismantle social security, the party that forced through a drug plan that increases costs to seniors, the party that’s turned a surplus into the biggest deficit in history. They’re the party that cut taxes for their rich friends, while presiding over the slowest job-growth rates in forty years.

With all that, you’d think that Fred could come up with something bad to say about Susan that wasn’t Totally Stupid. But no. Fred went his own way. He invented Susan Combs, Pornographer.

Y’see, back in 1990, Susan published a romance novel (A Perfect Match, Kismet #23, Meteor Publishing Company, ISBN 1-878702-22-X). That gave Fred his opening: a real meaty, relevant campaign issue. Seizing his opportunity with both hands (I wouldn’t want anyone to think Fred was reading Susan’s novel one-handed), he put up a quasi-literate screed on his webpage:

Susan Combs claims to be a person of high moral standards. Her record of writing, having published and selling a pornographic book clearly shows that Susan Combs is a two faced, hypocrite who was obviously more concerned with her literary career and seeing her name in print than the morals of the young People of Texas who are exposed to her 222 page book, A Perfect Match, which has her name at the top of every other page - - - a clear testament to Susan Combs’ insatiable ego and desire to see her name in print.

Susan has her name on the top of the even-numbered pages? He’s never seen a running head before? What that tells me is that Fred hasn’t opened a book in years. Possibly in his life.

Then there’s the content (which he’s helpfully posted). In eight breathless (if clumsily-written) paragraphs, Fred uses the words “pornographic” or “pornography” a dozen times to describe a pretty standard spicy romance. It doesn’t even rise to the level steamy romance, and as to it being pornography … well, if he thinks that’s porn Fred needs to get out more.

The first breeze of this brainstorm seems to have been in June. This is Fred speaking at the Texas Democratic Party Convention:

Now, you would think that your governor, your Republican governor, would know about that. In fact here’s this little book right here called “The Perfect Match.” (Book entitled “A Perfect Match” by Susan Combs held up and shown to the crowd by Fred Head). And, and Mrs. Susan Combs in 1990, my opponent wrote this book. Now, she was only forty-five years old at the time, so I’m not sure that she was mature enough to know that she was really making a serious mistake by doing it. But there’s some other interesting questions. Uh, I think it would be nice to know how many more she wrote. Whether she wrote any more in assumed names. Whether or not she’s got some that were published in other areas that we don’t know about. I think this sort of thing is what we need to find out about these people that are on the other side. And I think you’ve gotta tell that story.

Now, I told you I wanted to talk to you about truth. The truth is, as I’m telling you about her, she’s been in a public office now for a long time, eight years as Agriculture Commissioner. She hasn’t tended to her job there, but she’s had time in her previous life to write this trashy novel. We need to get rid of this lady! We need to get rid of all those kind of folks!

Just to show you how high-profile the Comptroller race is, no one noticed Fred’s unusual preoccupation for another four months.

Then the Burnt Orange Report noticed it on 5 September .

Soon after, romance readers and writers got the word. Last Monday: http://joliemathis.blogspot.com/2006/10/any-texas-voters-out-there.html. By Tuesday it had gone here (with a letter to Fred) and here (with a song). Wednesday it was over here, Thursday here, and here on Friday among other places.

A typical response was at “Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels”:

I was really enjoying my morning glee, and along came a heaping cup of what-the-fuck to make me glare and seethe. Although we mentioned this issue in passing back in August, the reminder made me growl enough to rant about it.

Seems a man named Fred Head is running for State Comptroller in the state of Texas. His website accuses his Republican opponent, Susan Combs, currently the state agriculture commissioner, is a writer of pornography.

Guess what she wrote? You get one guess. Seriously.

Oh, the joy of reading romance. I had no idea it was so powerful. It makes me stupid AND it makes me a prurient partaker of pornography. Perhaps I should feel guilty about enjoying the genre so much, but somehow, I feel sexually empowered, confident, and more intelligent.

Head’s website is kind enough to offer “extraxts” (sic) should you wish to examine how Combs’ “pornographic book” disputes her claim of being a “person of high moral standards” and is a “two faced hyprocrite who was obviously more concerned with her literary career and seeing her name in print than the morals of the young People of Texas.”

My personal jaw-dropping favorite part of this nonsense is where he accuses her of having an “insatiable ego” because her name appears at the top of every other page.

I have to wonder if this man has ever read a book.

About the kindest comment was this one from yesterday:

As an artist, a mother, and a citizen of Texas, I’m seriously struggling. The choices set before us in the upcoming election are an abysmally sad comment on the state of our state. Seems like every race features the loser who will lose and the loser who will end up in office. … we have the comptroller’s race, in which we can vote for either Democrat Fred Head (who appears to be an idiot) or Republican Susan Combs (who I suspect has no reflection when she stands before a mirror.)

With the snark level five feet high and rising, with thousands of ticked-off voters (including former straight-ticket Democrats saying that they were planning to vote Republican for the first time in their lives just for this race), someone variously calling himself “anonymous” and “concerned citizen” came slinking along, posting this note in assorted blogs on Saturday the 14th:

I think everyone is missing the bigger picture, Susan Combs wrote a book with sex and then Susan Combs took a public position during debate on a sex education (ABSENCE ONLY) bill while she served as a State Representative. The point, Susan Combs is a hypocrite.

Fred Head is clearly stating the facts.

Please debate how you can write a book of this nature and then took a public position of sex education (ABSENCE ONLY) bill. Can’t have it both ways.

That quasi-illiteracy (ABSENCE rather than “abstinence”), that attempt to invent Google-bombing, that frantic desire to answer everyone who’d commented on his mistake — the suspicion quickly arose that this was Fred Head in person. Alas! That suspicion was soon confirmed.

Here’s what Fred says in his web page screed:

Susan Combs has shown no remorse and made no apology for writing her pornographic book. Fred Head hereby challenges Susan Combs to fully explain to the People of Texas why she wrote a pornographic book, apologize to the People and withdraw from the race for Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Here’s how I’m going to finish up this post:

Fred Head has shown no remorse and made no public apology for attacking 50% of the fiction market. If he wanted to lose the election, dissing romance novels, their writers, and their readers, is one of the best ways he could have chosen. I hereby challenge him to explain fully exactly what he’s been smoking.

[UPDATED TO ADD:]

The Ballad of Fred ‘n’ Sue

Come and listen to my story ‘bout a man named Fred,
A good ol’ Texan boy with the last name o’ Head.
Seems one day he was fixin’ to be elected
When he heard about a book that could get a man erected.
Porn, that is…evil…a one-hand read.

Well it turns out, you see, that this filthy book was writ
By gal named Sue who he called a hypocrite,
‘Cause she was runnin’ for that Texas post as well
But page one-oh-two sez she’s goin’ straight to hell.
Sex, that is…nekkidness…doin’ it.

But if y’all take a look, you will find to yer surprise
What looks purty raw to our saintly Freddie’s eyes
Turns out to be an ol’ fashioned kind o’ read
A sweet li’l tale that won’t make yer eyes bleed.
Romance, that is…makin’ love…commitment!

Why would he tell everyone she wrote a porn?
Are voters down there dumber than the newly born?
Or maybe lit’rate folks are poor Freddie’s greatest fear
Bein’ that he posted “Read an Extraxt here.”
Spellcheck…proofread…idjit.

So you figure ol’ Fred is a good Republican
A fine upstanding conservative gen’leman,
Turns out instead she’s the GOP’s lass
It’s her opponent who’s the real jackass.
C’mon Texas…don’t fall for this…bull-hockey!

M J Pearson
Comments on Fred Head, Anti-Porn Crusader:
#1 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 11:53 PM:

WTF? You're kidding, right? I've had a rough week end and must be hallucinating because I could swear you just wrote that........oh forget it, you're talking about Texas. Yikes.

#2 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 11:58 PM:

Well, damn it, it IS pornography. And the sooner we get people to call a spade a spade and admit that the biggest consumers of porn in the U.S. are middle-aged women, the sooner we can get these silly moralizing brigades to go away.

#3 ::: ksGreer ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Believe me, there are days I really wonder why I moved to this state. Okay, I admit it, entire months, starting from about the point I signed the mortgage contract to...now.

On the up side, we have almost as much local entertainment in the politics as we used to get living in DC.

#4 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:13 AM:

There really is a guy named Fred Head? Wow. Twenty-some years ago, the Canadian comedy group
The Frantics had a regularly-appearing character with that name on their radio show... a moronic, chronically-stoned loudmouth who most frequently was announcing "Rock Club Updates". Art imitates life again, it seems.

#5 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:22 AM:

Er. "Life imitates art", I mean. Sleepy-time...

#6 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:26 AM:

Jim, thank you so much! I have been obsessing in a very unhealthy way about this election -- this post reminds me that despite the seriousness of the political situation, it's still wacko out there.

As you say, Fred needs to get out more. Or not.

#7 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:24 AM:

I should have known it would turn up here eventually. :-)

Mike at #2: Romance readers react to the P word in much the same way as some sf people react to the word sci-fi -- and for much the same reason. Nowadays I am careful to call my stuff erotic romance (which it is), and not publicly use the description which I was once wont to use on rasfc.

#8 ::: L M B MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:43 AM:

Just out of curiosity, I did a Google Image search, and found Head's public image (apparently, there's only one) to be only sixth in the queue, after the image of a solar power circuit, a magician, an electric tart warmer in the shape of the head of Frosty the Snowman, a horse, and a kittycat.

I can assure you that we, the exquisitely rare Democrats of Texas, hold Fred Head in the same regard. He's really pretty much of an embarrassment. And if most local and state Democratic pols weren't running as Republicans these days, in order to be considered, I can assure you he'd have never been on the ballot.

#9 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:49 AM:

It's a measure of the late night, that I have this ill-gotten desire to make bad jokes about Fred who, despite his last name is most likely not getting said... and then degenerate into still more misfortune about comb overs.

Alas, such are far more amusing to grade-school humour than reasonable political discussion ...

#10 ::: Samantha Joy ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 02:28 AM:

Aaaahhh, Texas politics. One of the ways in which we manage to be bigger--no, wait, that's not the word--better--no, not that one--ah, here it is--kookier than just 'bout any other state.

You missed some of the real homur happening in this election cycle, and that's the vitriol being spewed in the race for the incredibly-weak position of Governor.

Chris Bell, the Democratic candidate for governor, has decided that his best chance to win is if the Independent candidate Kinky Friedman (former front man for the country western group Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, detective novelist, comedian, B-movie star and general Texas icon) gracefully steps out of the race and throws some support Bell's way.

Kinky politely declined. I believe his exact words were "We don't negotiate with terrorists, so we're not going to meet with Chris Bell."

In response, a bunch of Democrats have created an ad campaign casting Kinky as a racist; they're using material from Kinky's comedy routines from two and a half decades ago to prove their point. Because, lord knows, anyone who has ever used the word "nigger" in any context is clearly a racist.

"He did say it," Mr. West said. "A lot of people always say it's satire. I take it seriously, and a lot of the good people of Texas take it seriously."

I do love my state. The antics here can keep me entertained for months on end, especially when the Legislature is in session. Be nice to me, and some time I'll tell you about the time the Texas Lege outlawed the sale of the Louisiana-made Blackened Voodoo Lager on the ostensible grounds that it promoted witchcraft and Satanic rituals--its outselling Texas Lone Star had nothing to do with it. The Legislature of Louisiana promptly outlawed the sale of Lone Star Beer on the grounds that the Texas Legislature is a pack of fools--oh, wait, no, they said that the beer sports a pentagram on the label.

#11 ::: Fred A Levy Haskell ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 03:05 AM:

And people wonder why I am not totally enamored of my first name. Besides the fact that it seems to be disproportionately used when people are trying to think of a name for their dog or some random body part or an especially dumb character in their book or comic book (think Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers). I mean, it is not just a first name not normally associated with great wit and status, it is, in fact, one carried by all too many people who become infamous for their appalling stupidity. Like this guy. *sigh*

#12 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 03:24 AM:

The comptroller's race is not insignificant. Texas has a weak governor, and the comptroller has the power of the purse.

#13 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 04:54 AM:

IIRC there's a lot more recent evidence than just some old songs for Kinky Friedman being a racist. Also, a pompous blowhard horse's ass riding an Arnold-like wave of uncritical celebrity-luv -- in this case from a crowd that thinks it's hipper than Arnold's crowd, but the process is the same -- to political power.

#14 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 05:01 AM:

11: On the other hand, Chopin, Nietzsche, Astaire, Douglass, Pohl, Frith, MacMurray, Mercury.

#15 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 05:27 AM:

The trouble is, this Frederick wasn't even 'prenticed to a pirate.

#16 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:36 AM:

Unfortunately I'm going to have to hold my nose and vote for this jerk. Susan Combs is even worse news. AFAIK she hasn't even distanced herself from the Traitor-in-Chief. We really don't want her writing the state budget!

#17 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:38 AM:

"Please debate how you can write a book of this nature and then took a public position of sex education (ABSENCE ONLY) bill. Can?t have it both ways."


Well, I guess Fred has no children. I mean, how can you, as an adult, have sex at all and then take a public position of sex education.

Can't have it both ways.

Bwhahahahaha.

Politicians are stupid.

#18 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:44 AM:

TexAnne, would you want Fredless Headless writing the state budget either?

Please tell me there's some sane third choice, even if it's write-in!

#19 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:53 AM:

Raven, I hope so, but I'm at the point of preferring stupidity to meanness. Maybe we should all write in Cthulhu.

#20 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:54 AM:

Er. I meant "I hope there's a sane write-in." Perhaps I'll just go back to bed and start over.

#21 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 07:37 AM:

Fred's policy on education in general seems to be one of absence only. I've seen more grammatical rants from seven-year-olds. And he seems to have gone to, the Captain Carrot School, of Punctuation.

Also, he talks about himself in the third person. Ajay distrusts such people. ("WHAT AJAY SAY?" "Uh, except Hulk. Ajay like Hulk!" "HMM. GOOD. OKAY, MAYBE HULK NOT CRUSH AJAY TODAY THEN.")

And I'd like to add "the Great" to the list of Famous Freds.

#22 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:08 AM:

"more concerned with her literary career and seeing her name in print than the morals of the young People of Texas.?

Actually, so am I. The morals of young people in Texas is way down on my list of priorities, especially compared to my concern with finding a publisher for the next book.

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:22 AM:

Contra Samantha Joy, no one needs an "ad campaign" to discern that Kinky Friedman--the man who asserted that Katrina refugees, every one of them, are "crackheads and thugs"--is a racist sack of shit.

Friedman is selling a variety of Know-Nothingism (look it up) carefully burnished to appeal to people who think they're smart. He's a dangerous and very bad man, and the extent to which he's indulged by people who ought to know better is truly awful.

#24 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:24 AM:

Well, this just shows that there are idiots in every party. I don't know if State Comptroller rises to the level of having a full-time campaign manager and consultants, but if it does they should either be abandoning this campaign or probably look into an exciting career in telemarketing, just like Fred.

As an elected official at the local (aka loco) level, I've often thought of running for state office because one, they actually pay and two I think I could make a bigger impact at that level. So I've rummaged though the closet to see what skeletons might be in there. Other than deeply personal attacks (raised by a single mother) the worst I can think of is being writer (hopefully soon to be published) of science fiction and fantasy.

Now that I've seen how poorly that attack would happen and the traction it would get, I'm not that worried anymore.

#25 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:32 AM:

If Susan Cooper had been smart, she'd have only put the naughty bits on the odd-numbered pages.

Well. Heck of a choice for Texas. The dimbulb or the Bush Republican. Well, okay, maybe it's not all -that- hard, but it'd still be aggravating, having to vote for such a lame-o.

#26 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:12 AM:

This is yet another shining example to the rest of the world that there is nothing quite like the politics of the US of A. For which small mercy we are all rather profoundly thankful.

#27 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:33 AM:

Politics is rapidly becoming the number one spectator sport in the state of Texas. Football? Nah, they done went and made that the official state religion years ago.

#28 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:39 AM:

"If Susan Cooper had been smart, she'd have only put the naughty bits on the odd-numbered pages."

I'm trying hard not to imagine a naughty bits version of The Dark Is Rising now. Something else rising... -- must resist train of thought!

#29 ::: Mel Francis ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:42 AM:

I just can't believe he's a Democrat.

And someone should teach the man to use spell check. Really.

(she says, triple checking to make sure there are no spelling errors in this post....)

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:56 AM:

He spelled "ABSENCE" just fine. It's just that the word doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

Politicians who think they invented sockpuppetry, and that no one will ever find out... aren't there any consultants out in Texas that Fred could have talked with first?

He could have called me on the phone.

FRED: They're sayin' all kindsa bad things 'bout me out there on that there intarweb, how I'm a fool and an idiot and an illiterate buffoon.

ME: And you want to know what a buffoon is? It's a kind of clown.

FRED: Nope! I want to know if it's a good idea to post like I was a concerned citzen about how wrong all these folks are 'bout me and Susan, how she's really a hypocrite an' everything in all these folks' blogs.

ME: Don't do it.

FRED: Why not? No one'll know it's me.

ME: Folks will figure it out. About one second after you post the first time. And you'll look like an even bigger buffoon.

FRED: That reminds me ... what's 'buffoon' mean?

===============

The biggest trouble is the folks who will say (and there already are such folks) that if this is the worst thing he can find about Combs, if this is what he's making the cornerstone of his campaign, that there isn't much wrong with her.

#31 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Meg #26: After hearing that prize ratbag Ruddock telling people that sleep deprivation is OK, I wouldn't get too cocky about politicians outside the USA, either.

#32 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:14 AM:

Either that or he knows exactly what he's doing. Let me take you now, on wings of thought as 'twere, to a Head for Comptroller campaign strategy meeting earlier this year...

"There's got to be some foolproof way to win the Texas voters over! As Democrats we start at a disadvantage. How do we beat that?"

"I know. I'll say, in a succession of ungrammatical and badly-spelt statements, that Cooper's authorship of a romance novel makes her a vile pornographer and a corrupter of youth."

"With respect, sir, that'll just make everyone think you're a semi-literate, knuckle-dragging, mendacious, moralistic, authoritarian, fundamentalist redneck buffoon."

...

"Oh my God. Sir, you are a genius."

"Yep. State house here we come."

"Hell, never mind that. White House here we come."

#33 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:31 AM:

Also, she had her name printed on the COVER of the book! First thing on the cover, too! Can you believe the ego?

This Fred guy's the kind of character I wouldn't dare to invent for a story because I'd be afraid people wouldn't find such an enormous amount of stupidity credible.

#34 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:33 AM:

What I'd like to know is why a perfectly respectable light-pornographer is associating herself with thugs and supporting a creed as harmful to children as "Abstinence-Only Education".

#35 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:38 AM:

On the other hand, Chopin, Nietzsche, Astaire, Douglass, Pohl, Frith, MacMurray, Mercury.

...Olmsted, 's of Hollywood, Hoyle, the Great, Saberhagen, Gwynne, Fender, and, not looking too bad these days, Wilpon.

#36 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:48 AM:

I dunno, Jim. I think absence-only sex really would cut down on teen pregnancy and the spread of venereal disease.

#37 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:59 AM:

You'd think a guy with a last name like Head would know better than to open up the Pandora's Box of sexual wordplay.

#38 ::: S.R. Chamberlain ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Ah, it's back to who do I hate most: torture-loving, power-mad Republicans or weasely Democrats willing to co-opt the language of the right to score a few partisan points (cf. Fred Head, Mark Foley and the "connection" between pedophilia and homosexuality).

This feels so natural, so right.

#39 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 11:35 AM:

I'm looking forward to Molly Ivins' treatment of this -- she's usually great at turning Texas Politics into High Comedy. Or Low Comedy, as the case may be (and usually is).

#40 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:03 PM:

Samantha (#10):

The Legislature of Louisiana promptly outlawed the sale of Lone Star Beer on the grounds that the Texas Legislature is a pack of fools--oh, wait, no, they said that the beer sports a pentagram on the label.

Enh. They should have outlawed it just because it's a terrible, terrible beer.

/Shiner Bock should be the official state beer.
//Ooo, slashies! On ML! Hope this doesn't bring on the apocalypse...

#41 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:06 PM:

Here in Virginia, one of the TV ads George Allen's campaign is running is an attack ad against Jim Webb that starts out "This writer of fiction..." spoken in a voice that sends chills up your spine. OH NO! Not a writer of fiction!! Webb has written:
"Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America", 4 stars on Amazon.
"Fields of Fire", 5 stars on Amazon.
"A Sense of Honor", 5 stars on Amazon.
"A Country Such As This", 5 stars on Amazon.
"Something to Die For", 4 stars on Amazon.
"The Emporer's General", 4.5 stars on Amazon.
"Lost Soldiers", 4 stars on Amazon.

Real subversive stuff! God help America if he's elected!

Also, please indulge me; I'd like to add one more to the list: Howes, my late husband.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:09 PM:

My sis-in-law had an uncle named Fred. Nice guy. One of my grandfather's cousins was a Fred; he was a mechanical engineer at, among other places, RIT.

#43 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Re #39, Don Fitch:

I'm looking forward to Molly Ivins' treatment of this -- she's usually great at turning Texas Politics into High Comedy. Or Low Comedy, as the case may be (and usually is).
But in this case... what's left for her to do?
 

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Absense only sex ed, huh? Lessons in phone sex?

Skwid, speaking as someone who was never on [wherever those come from], I'd like to know what slashies are supposed to indicate?

#45 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:22 PM:

On the other hand, Chopin, Nietzsche, Astaire, Douglass, Pohl, Frith, MacMurray, Mercury.

...Olmsted, 's of Hollywood, Hoyle, the Great, Saberhagen, Gwynne, Fender, and, not looking too bad these days, Wilpon.

And Fred Rogers! Don't forget Mr. Rogers!

Now, if anyone wants to rehabilitate Debbie - not Debra or Deborah - I'd be eternally grateful. 'Does Dallas' has worn rather thin.

#46 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:24 PM:

JulieB #27:
Politics is rapidly becoming the number one spectator sport in the state of Texas.

"Rapidly becoming"? It had already become, back 37 years ago when I first moved here. I think it started out that way.

#47 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:50 PM:

we can vote for either Democrat Fred Head (who appears to be an idiot) or Republican Susan Combs (who I suspect has no reflection when she stands before a mirror.)

Hm, idiot or evil incarnate... decisions decisions....

Given what our idiot, wooden-headed president has done to this country, I guess I'd have to take 'evil incarnate' for 300, Pat.

#48 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:50 PM:

Hold it. If Fred Head was always this dumb, he couldn't have had the political career he's had. I'm not saying he was any kind of shining light. His proudest boast about his fourteen years in office is his unblemished attendance record. What I'm saying is that his conduct of his current campaign is just too stupid, even for a former member of the Texas State Legislature.

Fred Head is 67 this year. I'm thinking microstrokes, early Alzheimer's, or a number of other conditions that cause dementia. He should be hauled off to a good GP/diagnostician and given a thorough going-over.

#49 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:09 PM:

Given a choice between a demented Democrat and any Republican at all, I'd vote for the Democrat. But still, he's going out of his way to sabotage his own campaign.

#50 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:44 PM:

The morals of young people in Texas is way down on my list of priorities, especially compared to my concern with finding a publisher for the next book.

Speaking as a former young person in Texas, I think you have your priorities in order. My own morals were hopelessly corrupted by the Dallas public library system's science fiction purchases.

#51 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Not being a Texan, I want to encourage those who are to think seriously about the write-in option. Cthulhu sounds reasonable. Also Rudolph (the Red-Nosed One), Hannah (Hannahannabobanna), and Buddy (Holly, of course.) Yes, I know he's dead. Why do you ask? I mean, if Arnold Schwartz-how-the-fuck-do-you-spell-the Governor's-name can be Governor of California, I see no reason why loyal Texans can't elect a dead Texan to be state comptroller. They wouldn't even have to assign him a parking place.

#52 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 02:12 PM:

Lizzie (#51) might be onto something. Maybe I'll write in "Ann Richards' corpse." *sigh* I always kind of hoped she'd make a Presidential bid this round just for symmetry's sake.

For Xopher (#44): Slashies!

#53 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 02:44 PM:

My own morals were hopelessly corrupted by the Dallas public library system's science fiction purchases.

Ah yes, the lost years of innocence...Heinlein and Russ spring to mind as prime corrupters of my morals. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

#54 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 04:13 PM:

Jonathan (37): I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking that!

Teresa (48): Actually, I think that could be an argument in favor of voting for him. If he falls over dead or becomes clearly incapacitated while in office, there will have to be a special election and we might get somebody competent running the next time. May I also mention just how much I hate that the Republicans have reduced me to this level of decision-making?

#55 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 04:22 PM:

Skwid: never woulda guessed you were a closet farker.

This Fred guy's a real class act. But, on the bright side for him, once he gets too bizarro even for Texas politics, he can always try Louisiana.

(Louisiana: all the benefits of a banana republic without all those messy military coup d'etats.)

#56 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 04:31 PM:

>sing material from Kinky's comedy routines from two and a half decades ago to prove their point.

As other people have pointed out you don't have to go back that far to find current examples of Kinky as racist. But I think using using jokes about bowling ball as n_____ eggs retrograde even back in 1972. Martin Luther King has already been shot. The Civil Rights legisation had already been passed. The "I'm a simple guy; I don't know any better" excuse was already past its sell-by date at the time Kinky made his "joke".

There are contexts in which N____ is not racist. There are not a whole lot of contexts in which white guys saying n___________ is not racist. This sure as hell was not one of them.

#58 ::: Suse ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:10 PM:

Actually, the way the Republicans are (not) financing education, we're in no danger of young Texans being corrupted by books of any kind.

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Jim, speaking of spelling, your fifth para in the original post misspells "seizing."

#60 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 07:09 PM:

Oh my aching head. I just got a robo-call from a Republican bigwig campaigning for Chet Edwards, paid for by the Edwards campaign. (Ha. I just typoed "Cheat.") Because Chet's such a good Republican that he supports organized school prayer and opposes gay adoption and tax-funded abortions. Because--get this--the official Republican candidate is lying about Chet in his campaign materials!

This is about a month after the Republican push-poll that convinced me Chet was liberal enough to vote for. And a couple of weeks after Chet's campaign called me to ask for money. I said, "He voted for torture! I'm not giving him money!" and the woman huffily said, "Oh all right" and hung up. (I think they took me off the list after that. If they had bothered to read the man's email they'd never have called me in the first place.) (Oh, wait. I should have sent my complaints to the campaign, not the Congressman's office. Silly me...)

Some days I really hate it here.

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 10:53 PM:

Clearly, Fred's parents erred in not naming him 'Richard'. (I've met a Richard Head, he's a charming Aussie).

Molly Ivins had me convinced that Texas politics is weird. This, however, takes weird to another level.

#62 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Well, much as I am eager to remove Republican control of the national (and state) legislatures next month, I'm not so eager to vote party-line all the way down.

See, in the big northeastern city where I live, it's the Democrats that are the party of corruption, incompetence, and cronyism in the city. They've managed that by maintaining one-party rule here for the last 50 years or so. (I wouldn't put it past the Republicans to try to outdo them if *they* had the dominant machine, as they did before the 1950s, and still do to a lesser extent at the state level, but they don't have enough political power in the city to pull that off.)

And yet, the mayor, who pretty openly prsides over a "pay to play" system that's sapping the life out of the city, managed to get re-elected in the midst of an FBI investigation by invoking the Bush bogeyman, even though the political issues at the municipal level here have little to do with those at the national level. Likewise, the city councilpeople good and bad can count on winning the general just by the folks who reflexively hit the D-button. So, just as happens at the national level with the other party, we get bad government with little or no accountability.

Now, I don't know a lot about Texas politics; it may well be that given the overall state political scene (which I believe is rather R-dominated) it may still be preferable to vote in a D moron in this instance. But in many areas, politics is quite different at different levels of government. And I'd much rather have voters that try to instill accountability and good government, splitting their tickets when that's called for, then voters who always stick with their party right or wrong. Too much power corrupts the "good guys" too.

#63 ::: Samantha Joy ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 12:27 AM:

#23 Patrick -

My post was not meant to imply that I think that Kinky is the best candidate for governor, or that I support his candidacy in any way. I generally think he's a loud mouthed know-all, a very entertaining person from a distance, someone who mistakes aphorisms for wisdom. The fact that he's even in this race is amusing the hell out of me; the idea that other candidates think that what he says or does might influence the outcome significantly is testament to what a group of twits we have in the running this time around.

That all said, the fact that his opponents are creating ad campaigns to discredit him is funny; the fact that they're digging as far back as a 25 year old comedy routine that wasn't funny even at the time is just Hy-larious.

#64 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 01:16 AM:

The story has hit the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

Karen Whiddon of North Richland Hills agrees that the book issue is one she's thinking about, but one that has motivated her to vote against Head. Whiddon has written 18 romance novels and has a new one, Missing Magic, due out in November. She said none of her books, or those of her fellow romance novels, are pornography.

"I find [the suggestion] highly offensive," she said.

Whiddon also said many local writers have sent complaints to Head's campaign. "They're up in arms about this; they're going nuts about this," said Whiddon, 45. "It seems like a really cheap shot."

#65 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 01:19 AM:

Teresa@48:
"Fred Head is 67 this year. I'm thinking microstrokes, early Alzheimer's, or a number of other conditions that cause dementia. He should be hauled off to a good GP/diagnostician and given a thorough going-over."

Teresa, you sometimes have the habit of explaining away people whose actions you find otherwise inexplicable by declaring that they must be insane or demented. (Several examples come to mind.)

Dare I suggest that this is... disrespectful? Shouldn't our first choice, simply on grounds of common respect for our mutual humanity, be that someone who acts like a fool... is a fool?

(And by the way, have you heard what your own old home-town's state representative, Russell Pearce, has been up to?)

#66 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 07:33 AM:

Teresa wrote:

Fred Head is 67 this year. I'm thinking microstrokes, early Alzheimer's, or a number of other conditions that cause dementia. He should be hauled off to a good GP/diagnostician and given a thorough going-over.

Bruce Arthurs responded:

Teresa, you sometimes have the habit of explaining away people whose actions you find otherwise inexplicable by declaring that they must be insane or demented. (Several examples come to mind.)

Several examples may come to mind, but this isn't one of them, because Teresa patently didn't "declare" that anything "must" be the case. Rather, she suggested that something ought to be looked into.

She made a speculative remark, clearly labelled as such. You know the difference between that and a categorical assertion. You also know that, morally and rhetorically, it's not a trivial difference

#67 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 08:52 AM:

Thing is, Fred doesn't have a long history of being bug-fuck crazy. Sometime between March and July of this year, though, he got ... bizarre. We had native Texans at first considering that this web page of his was a Republican dirty trick, up until video footage of Fred saying it himself surfaced.

A sudden personality shift is a warning sign. It isn't like we're talking about Mad Dog Mengden, a Texas Legislator who was so ... well known ... that when he rose to speak the rest of the representatives would start barking and howling.

This campaign issue of Fred's (he's put it on the front page of his web site three different places, with no other issues mentioned) has got to be the single stupidest theme of all time. Isn't there anything in Susan Combs' record as Texas Agriculture Commissioner that he can bring up? Anything from her time in the legislature? Does he agree 100% down the line with everything she voted for, against, wrote or sponsored? Anything about the Republicans in general? I mean, she's been photographed standing beside Laura Bush. That ought to be worth something.


#68 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 09:16 AM:

Patrick@66:
"She made a speculative remark, clearly labelled as such. You know the difference between that and a categorical assertion. You also know that, morally and rhetorically, it's not a trivial difference" [emphasis added]


(Thinks about that for a moment...)

True. Point to Patrick. Apology to Teresa.

#69 ::: Scott D-S ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 09:55 AM:

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald He spelled "ABSENCE" just fine. It's just that the word doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

When I read this, the first thing that went through my mind was Inigo Montoya's "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means" said to Vizzini right out of Princess Bride (TheGreatestMovieEverMade, ideally said along with the title in one breath)

#70 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:05 AM:

If it's a sudden onset of bizarreness frome someone who was perfectly reasonable beforehand, then yes I can see a medical problem, or a personal crisis leading to a mental health emergency, or something of that sort possibly turning out to be the explanation for the behaviour of this guy...

...however, as well as the people who are just generally bug-fuck crazy, there are many more of us (possibly most of us?) who are bug-fuck crazy over one particular specific issue. The "Oh my god, don't get him started on $ISSUE, or he'll unleash his inner kook!" factor.

Since the 'Ev1ls of the Romance Novel1st', don't normally come up as a subject of debate by politicians -- unless Texas political debate is even more different from that here in .uk than I had previously thought -- then presumably Mr.Head, if this is an 'inner kook' problem rather than a medical problem, would not have previously been subject to the temptation to pontificate on the matter publically, until it turned out that his opponent was one of the dread tribe who must be destroyed.

For instance, how would you know by looking at someone's legislative record, or their everyday political statements, if they were a hardcore follower of Veliokovsky (sp?), a believer in The Ancient Astronauts of Atlantis, or bore hideous mental scars from exposure to the writings of Dame Barbara Cartland during their impressionable youth?

They're just not the sort of things tend to come up in most legislative sessions as far as I can see; unlike perfectly mainstream and standard obsessions such as the need to teach our children the god-given rightness of Intelligent Design Creationism, the immense sympathetic magical powers inherent in making said children peform loyalty oaths to pieces of coloured cloth that are not for burning, the conviction that Tony Blair once of non-Evil alignment, or a firm belief in the moral soundness and functional utility of torture, detention without trial, and preventive war.

#71 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Princess Bride (TheGreatestMovieEverMade

I think that should either say:

PrincessBrideTheSecondGreatestMovieEverMade or

BuckarooBonzaiTheGreatestMovieEverMade

(ducks. runs.)

#72 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:15 AM:

Bruce, have you forgotten that I'm a neurology case myself? I'm not dismissing Fred Head as a mere crazy. Quite the opposite: I'm saying that when someone that age alters his behavior over what seems to be a relatively short amount of time, and insists on pursuing an ill-judged and self-defeating piece of folly like this smear campaign, it's appropriate to check his health before we write him off as someone who's just being stupid.

I hate dismissing people or actions as "just stupid", because it says we can't understand them any better than we already do. I hate dismissing them as "just crazy" for the same reason. There are kinds of stupidity. There are kinds of craziness. Some are the symptoms of treatable conditions.

Fred Head is a Democrat in Texas. He may not be a rocket scientist, but he couldn't have gotten elected to seven terms in the Texas Legislature if he'd been this dumb all along. He certainly couldn't have ignored standard political strategies in favor of pursuing whatever random campaign issue took his fancy, while ignoring the responses he got from the voters and the media.

If nothing else works for you, consider that he's an experienced legislator who's getting national attention -- in the middle of an election campaign! -- for what's probably the first time in his career, and he's blowing it off. It's no big jump to wondering whether there's something the matter with the man.

#73 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:23 AM:

The Houston Chronicle had this on Saturday the 14th (the same day Fred Head or someone who looks just like him was running around putting sock-puppet posts on romance writers' and readers' blogs), under the headline An embarrassing race for state comptroller:

So we are left with a candidate who's in tight with our unpopular governor, and a guy whose campaign is so insulting to voters' intelligence that the thought of electing him is appalling. Not much of a choice, I'm afraid.

It isn't so scary that Fred's campaign contains this issue as it is that it contains only this issue.

#74 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:37 AM:

SKapusniak, it's not just that he's embarked on a truly loony crusade. He's ignoring all the real issues, and he's sticking with an issue that's not only a proven failure, but has no relevance to the office, and is of no concern to his voters. Habits like that don't get you elected to seven straight terms.

#75 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:39 AM:

If I were a voter there, I'd vote for Fred Head, on the grounds that his condition might be curable.

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:49 AM:

...and is of no concern to his voters.

I dunno about that. Search on "Fred Head" on Icerocket and Technorati. You'll find he's getting blistered from one side of blogdom to the other, even on blogs that had no political content previously. I'm seeing respectable middle-aged ladies who say that they're life-long Democrats but are going to be filling a van with their friends on election day just to go to the polls to vote against him.

Unless this is a crazy-like-a-fox strategy to get Democratic voters who'd might have stayed home into the voting booths, I can't see an upside to it.

#77 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Okay, I've been wandering around the links on this one for a while, and I've got to ask: Has anyone posted any evidence that the semi-illiterate anonymous poster actually is/was Fred Head? All that I've found is that some server logs show that the messages were posted from Dallas, which is not exactly conclusive. The anonymous messages have a ridiculous misuse of language ("ABSENCE ONLY"); Head's official messages have some gross spelling errors. To me, that's not very conclusive either -- language-bungling is all too common. My "ear" for writing style isn't good enough to detect significant similarities or differences between the sets of messages.

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:12 AM:

If I were a voter there, I'd vote for Fred Head, on the grounds that his condition might be curable.

And being a Bushite GOPper is not. This post captioned for the humor-impaired.

#79 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Or maybe the PSP is copying resurgent Soviet tactics and poisoning the opposition. (What former Soviet Union constituent became independent country was it that a politician running for office became very ill, claimed that the opposition was poisoning him, and taken to a western European country for diagnosis and treatment, turned out to actually have been the recipient of a massive dose of toxic chemicals the administering of which had to have been intentional and surreptious?)

Given that this is a country where there have been such spectacles as the kneecapping of an national champion skater directed by a competitor, murder of a political rival running for a law enforcement-related position (situation in Georgia months ago), lots of murders of spouses (usually wives but not always) by spouses who either want the spouse out of the way to get a relationship openly with someone else or objects to being divorced, etc., it's not unthinkable.

#80 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:43 AM:

It's not unthinkable, but it is unnecessary. True, Republicans are evil incarnate, but Combs had $3.5 million to Head's $0. With that kind of advantage all Combs had to do is ignore Head, which is pretty much what she's been doing.

Head's got lots of people talking about him, but this is a case when "The Only Bad Publicity Is No Publicity" isn't true. You don't want folks' first reaction to hearing your name to be "Moron!"

#81 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Paula at #79 - was that Ukraine? Or Byelorus?

#82 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 12:39 PM:

Viktor Yushchenko was the poisoned presidential candidate, now President of Ukraine.

#83 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Teresa wrote:
If I were a voter there, I'd vote for Fred Head, on the grounds that his condition might be curable.

I did read your earlier posts, so I know where this is coming from, but for some reason this strikes me funny.

"Vote Fred Head. He Can Be Cured."

I should point out that my boyfriend's father has symptoms of dementia from a head injury suffered in a car accident, and that his mom recently recovered from a stroke caused by an aneurysm, so I am well aware that brain injury is no joke. Mom recovered fully, but she has changed -- she giggles like a maniac whenever she's under stress (according to the doctors, the alternative is uncontrolled weeping, so at least it's not that).

Teresa may very well be spot on about Fred's head.

All the same, Dad gave up his driver's license voluntarily after getting horribly lost a few times (wound up hours away from home).

I'd vote for Fred, but I'd hope like hell that his doctor picked up on whatever is happening, pronto.

(Now I'm off to Smart Bitches to see if Candy has been kicking ass and taking names in her elegantly scathing fashion. It's not so much what Fred said as the reaction he was hoping to get from the audience that will be the subject of fury there, I think.)

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 05:09 PM:

"Vote for the moron, it's important."

For a while the town I live in was represented by someone whose antics enlivened the Massachusetts House of Representatives. I wouldn't exactly call him a moron, but "flake" may have been too centered. The townsfolk had been annoyed by Politics As Usual and voted in Michael Rea as a different face with things to say other than the usual. However, his actions proved to be continuingly controversial because he was went beyond new idea into uncalibrated inanity territory. It was however for one term a welcome respite from Politics as Usual.

#85 ::: Tobias J ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 09:30 PM:

One could note that, given Head having problems with "extraxts", he may have thought it said "Susan comes" on every other page of the book.

That would indeed make it blunt, boring and repetitive, like most porn.

#86 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:50 PM:

It turns out there's a word for such confusions as abstinence → absence : erronym.

("As long as I can remember the word aphasia, I don't have it." — Jeannine R. Schaefer)

#87 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:54 AM:

Oh, I can frequently remember aphasia without remembering other words. Most of my friends know I'm sometimes aphasic, so I don't have to say it often.

#88 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 01:19 AM:

I want to object to "erronym" on the grounds of its being a Latin ('error') - Greek ('nym') bastard. "Misnomonym", mentioned on the same page, is much better; I suggest, alternatively, "amartanym". And I'm not yet such a classics geek that I don't think "malapropism" works perfectly well.

#89 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 03:45 AM:

Point awarded to Greg at #71. The distinction is fine but by no means trivial. Forcefeed Buckaroo Bonzai to your friends today!

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 07:15 AM:

David Goldfarb #88: Do you object to 'automobile' and 'homosexual' as well, given that they're both Greco-Latin hybrids?

#91 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Greg @ #71, Nicole @ #89: I don't think I know that movie. Iz decorative hedge-pruning involved?

#92 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:04 AM:

I am 89.3433% certain that it is not (I'm hedging here because I haven't watched it in awhile).

*pause for realization of inadvertant pun and decision to leave it in anyway*

However, watermelons under electrowhatsis are. Also rocket-powered vehicles of conveyance that almost certainly can't be a good idea and, as it turns out, aren't. And lots of aliens named John.

#93 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:10 PM:

Do you object to 'automobile' and 'homosexual' as well, given that they're both Greco-Latin hybrids?

Tom Stoppard had this to say about 'homosexual'...two characters are discussing the word, which has just been invented:

C1: What's wrong with it?
C2: It's half Greek and half Latin!
C1: [musingly] Sounds about right...

I usually tell this as "Sounds good to me!" but let's give Stoppard the courtesy of an accurate quote.

#94 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:38 PM:

"absence-only"?
Looks like a misprint.
Should say "obstinance-only"

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Xopher #93: Sounds good to me...

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:29 PM:

Erik Nelson #94: That would depend on whether people were being obstinately abstinent or not.

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:31 PM:

I have more trouble with my BF being obstinately absent, actually. :-(

#98 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Not being a Texan, I want to encourage those who are to think seriously about the write-in option. Cthulhu sounds reasonable.

I wish we could, but the lengths we went to to get ten thousand people to vote for a Dem in McCaul's Rep seat (the people who had signed up for the primary apparently weren't really Democrats, as shown by their dropping out of the race after the deadline had passed) was a nightmare. The computer machines require something like three separate clicks and buttons to vote for someone not on the ballot. And the same to return to where you were on the ballot. It was confusing, and I had read up on the technique before I got there.

Yes, Texas politics is amusing in a cynical sort of way. But there's the flip side -- Combs was a rancher with a dedicated interest in making things easier for ranchers -- so she got on the Ag Commission. Think Bush appointee type. Her stop before that was also a flirtation with public service. And now she wants to be comptroller. (This is, right now, perhaps the most powerful place in Texas. The other important role is Lt. Governor.) The comptroller, of course, tells you where the money is, where it's coming from and where it's going...and s/he does not have to verify the budget if the legislature is playing ducks and drakes with the balanced part of the budget.

The current comptroller, who is running for governor, is a tough grandma who could teach them all a bit about defending the people's money and rights. Yes, she's a professional politician, but her departments work, her staff is courteous to work with -- and so on.

So...I can vote for special interest Susan, whom I've always voted against before -- or I can vote for the idiot who may not be literate, and is judging a book by its cover.

No abstaining this year. Maybe enough Dems will be swept in that her lonely Elephant voice (along with the current governor, whose opponents will fracture the vote into many pieces and re-elect pretty boy the VetoMan) cannot be heard above attempts to re-draw the voting districts once again.

Sometimes I am so embarrassed to live in Texas. But Austin is the next best thing to almost anywhere else I like.

I should add that my button says I've been voting for Cthulhu for President for a couple of decades.

#99 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 07:21 PM:

Kathi: no no no, Carole Keeton Last-name-of-the-week is as bad as, well, every other Texas Republican. She's never yet served a whole term in any of her offices. She resigned from the Austin City Council to run for mayor, then went up the food chain. Do _not_ trust the woman. (Also, her father, Dean Keeton of UT, swore up and down that he'd never let minorities into the UT law school. She's proud enough of that legacy, obviously--it's the only name she's kept, though I suppose it's a good thing that she changes last names every time she changes husbands. What was that about the sanctity of marriage, again?)

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 08:25 PM:

Xopher #97: Have you tried epoxy?

#101 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 09:59 PM:

#97 ::: Xopher wrote:
I have more trouble with my BF being obstinately absent, actually. :-(

Is it dreadful that my mental image is all about european grandmothers shaking their fingers at you, and telling you to settle down with a nice young man?

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:22 PM:

Fragano, you don't understand. It's not getting him to stay put, it's getting him to come here in the first place.

xeger, I'd really like to. And I have one in mind. And I think he feels the same way. There are difficulties, though. Not quite Shards of Honor-level difficulties, but then, we're not fictional characters, and it's not at all clear that the author is on our side.

#103 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 02:53 AM:

Fragano @ 90: Those two get grandfathered in because I got used to them before I had the education to know better.

(Incidentally, that should have been "hamartanym" rather than "amartanym". Although I still favor "malapropism".)

#104 ::: Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 10:27 AM:

He may not be a rocket scientist, but he couldn't have gotten elected to seven terms in the Texas Legislature if he'd been this dumb all along.

There is ample historical evidence to prove that being an imbecile is in no way incompatible with a long career in the Texas Legislature.

#105 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 10:56 AM:

#91: I don't think I know that movie. Iz decorative hedge-pruning involved?

Buckaroo Bonzai is a cult SF movie. It is dated in that the low budget effects clearly radiate a strong "I Love the 80's" carrier wave. But you don't watch it for high power CGI. You watch it for the characters, the one-liners, a dozen actors that are now famous that are in it, and becuase it's just good.

One line from the movie that seems to ahve made it into mainstream is "Wherever you go, there you are." Whether the movie invented the line or not, I'm not sure, but it gave the line a character who would normally say such things and seem completely sensible.

In the end, you cannot explain Buckaroo Bonzai. You will either watch it or you wont. And if you do, you will either love it or hate it. Those in the saw-it-loved-it category might find trying to explain the movie to others who haven't seen it or who did see it and didn't like it to be in a situation similar to a zen monk who suddenly achieved satori, and now tries to explain it to the other monks. It doesn't communicate well.

#106 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 11:23 AM:

"Banzai", not "Bonzai". No very small trees were harmed in the making of this movie.

#107 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 11:50 AM:

(Re #106, ajay)     ... though that might explain some wooden performances....

#108 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 11:54 AM:

To give slightly more precise sourcing for Xopher's quote in #93, it's from Tom Stoppard's play _The Invention of Love_. C2 is A. E. Houseman. I'd have to look up who C1 is and my copy of the play is at home.

#109 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 11:54 AM:

My allergy medicine is making me groggy.
Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

#110 ::: Bozoer Rebbe ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 11:58 AM:

What defines something as pornography is the presence of Y chromosomes in the reader. Explicitly erotic writing read by women is never to be considered porn.

Do an experiment. Ask the HR department at any large company if it's okay for a male employee to read Playboy or Penthouse at his desk. Then ask them about women reading Cosmopolitan.

At least Penthouse and Playboy don't have teasers about "the sex act he's dying for you to try" on the cover.

#111 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 12:07 PM:

I think you missed the point.
It was about three exits back.

#112 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 12:19 PM:

Greg London #105 One line from the movie that seems to ahve made it into mainstream is "Wherever you go, there you are." Whether the movie invented the line or not, I'm not sure, but it gave the line a character who would normally say such things and seem completely sensible.

It's not original to the movie; I remember it being a local (central KY) DJ tagline in my misspent youth in the mid-60s. (Followed by "Always hang by your toes".) Presumably not his own invention, either.

#113 ::: Peg C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 12:24 PM:

As a conservative I find it hilarious that the Republican party seems to have become the party of sex, while the Dems are turning into disapproving Puritans.

I also devour romance novels (along with thrillers and political non-fiction).

I'd still move to TX from NY in a heartbeat if I could.

#114 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 01:14 PM:

Peg, the Dems are ragging the Reps over their hypocrisy.

Had the Reps not been so self-servingly "Puritanical" about others' scaaaaaandalous sexual activities, it would not be so amusing to see their own scandals dragged into the light and up and down Main Street and all around the walls of Troy three times daily and with an extra performance on Saturday.

Mark Foley was the Reps' front man denouncing sexual predators as "animals". Don't you enjoy the sheer irony?

#115 ::: badducky ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Ah, Texas.

An accused pornographer versus a man named Head (mind if we all collectively rename him "Richard"?). Kinky running for the big house against someone both Stray and Horny.

I remember driving home from work in the next town over. I drove north past the city dump. Then I took a right at the second strip club (they've built a third, now). Then, I took a left at the second Tongan Missionary Baptist Church, drove past the Coptic Orthodox Church (among others), and turned just before the SaeBit Baptist Church. From my backyard, I looked out at the giant "JESUS" flag flying over a shopping center in the distance.

Texas. Gotta love it.

#116 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:34 AM:

Kathi: no no no, Carole Keeton Last-name-of-the-week is as bad as, well, every other Texas Republican. She's never yet served a whole term in any of her offices.

It's okay -- I know all that. That's part of the amusement factor -- she's bailed on every other position she's had in government. That adds to the amusement of the comptroller stuff being halfway decent. I'm not about to vote for her -- I'll take Chris Bell over any of the other three, but I'm not sure he can pull it off.

You must remember that a bunch of the old guard were ready to elect Clayton Williams, seriously wealthy oil man, in the run against Ann Richards (1st time.) Only when a late debate was broadcast close to the election did things start to accelerate for Ann. Clayton made it so obvious that he knew NOTHING about the job of the governor that the good ol' boys went for sassy, sharp Ann instead.

It took the Bush name to push her out the second term. May those who voted for him receive their karmic due.

#117 ::: sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:53 AM:

Ummm, much as I love the chance to pick on a politician, I don't see that the comments were shown to be from him? From Dallas, yes (not unreasonable, it's a Texan issue). From a single user, without a doubt. Someone who was searching for posts on the subject in order to post the viewpoint, agreed.

That doesn't make it Fred, though, unless I've missed some piece of information...

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 08:25 AM:

Xopher #102: In that case, I'd recomment magnetism.

#119 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 08:26 AM:

David Goldfarb #103: So you don't say 'homoerotic' or 'ipsimobile' then....

#120 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 09:27 AM:

Reasons for thinking it's Fred Head himself rather than some other dingbat who's posting to blogs?

1) Poor grammar and spellng skills, just like on his web page. Fred doesn't have the money for a staff, so it's likely home-brewed.

2) Obvious attempt at google-bombing leading back to his web page.

3) The biggest reason is this: any time you see some anonymous person running around defending a book everywhere it's mentioned and answering every post, it's turned out to be the author himself behind the sock puppet. There have been some high profile cases recently, but even in the small and silly world of the self-published it's proved true.

#121 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 11:29 AM:

Carol Keeton (Insert Name Here) has actually had a starring role around these parts before. I don't really care if most of the time she did a decent job as Comptroller (I don't really know anything about her performance, I know of her only what was in that thread and what I can glean from her ubiquitous ad campaigns), from everything I've seen she's a bigot, an attention whore, and a Bush crony of the first degree. She's definitely my least favorite "Tough Grandma."

#122 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Skwid # 121:

She's also literally a danger to the public. Back when she was mayor of Austin, it seemed like every time she was supposed to do a grand opening thing, something got broken. Ceremonial scissors cut that which they should not, hammers broke pieces of the building, etc.

You do not want somebody with that sort of ability doing ceremony at the gubernatorial level.

#123 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 12:54 PM:

JC #108: Chamberlain, the play's only invented character. And it seems there's no e in Housman. When I went to see the play in NYC, I was one of perhaps four people in the theatre who laughed at the Catullus jokes. I'm sure I'd be instant friends with the others if we met, but I couldn't find them. (Actually Moshe Feder might have been one, and we're already pals.)

Fragano #118: I don't get it.

Ibid, #119: I believe I've seen 'autokinetic'.

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Xopher #123: It'll pull him towards you. You've got to use really big magnets....

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:34 PM:

Well, he does have a pin in his leg...unless he's a Cylon! That's it! I bet he's a Cylon!

Hmm.

I wouldn't care. If he's a Cylon, I'll make the choice of Hilo.

#126 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Just remember, folks, while it's fun and games to talk about how lame Fred's campaign is, a vote for a Republican is a vote for torture.

I endorse Fred Head for Texas State Comptroller.

#127 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 06:08 PM:

Peg C. at 113: the Democrats are not claiming to be scandal-free. They are just pointing out that the Republicans can't claim it either, and never could.

Those of us who watched Newt Gingrich savage Bill Clinton for having sex with a woman not his wife and lying about it while he -- Newt -- was having sex and lying about it (but not under oath, which presumably made it all right) are, to say the least, unsurprised. Karma.

Way in the back of my mind there's a loop of Danny Kaye singing gleefully, "The King is in the altogether, the altogether, the altogether, he's altogether as naked as the day that he was born...and it's altogther too chilly a morn!"

#128 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 06:25 PM:

#123: Xopher: When I went to see the play in NYC, I was one of perhaps four people in the theatre who laughed at the Catullus jokes.

Hmm... it seemed to be more than four when I saw it in NYC. (Of course, since I never formally studied Catullus, I might have missed them completely and not known.) However, I had the bizarre experience of translating the Latin in my head just in time to hear Richard Easton lambast the translation I came up with. It was all rather intimidating.

#129 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:01 PM:

The only Fred Head I ever met was a life-size mechanical head used for teaching CPR... At a command from the instructor, Fred will barf on you from his high tech Barf-O-Matic Pumpalot 3000 stomach (really... he barfs on you unless you're REALLY fast...)

I'm not sure which imitates who or which came first, but in this case the chicken and the egg taste the same...

#130 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Xopher, that's Helo. As in helicopter. They don't know about Hawaii.

#131 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Not only did she put her name at the top of every other page, but on the front and side of the cover! And in big letters on page 3!

Someone should clue him in to the real pornographer: Lynne Cheney.

One can only dream what he would have done if he were Peruvian and running against Mario Vargas Llosa.

#132 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 01:07 PM:

Robert L #131: In that case he'd have accused Vargas Llosa of setting up a string of brothels in the Amazon under the name 'Pantiland'....

#133 ::: Jim B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2006, 02:29 AM:

It seems old Fred Head is really in the Democratic mainstream, as his campaign theme has been picked up by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

(snark) One would never see anything steamy, or even warm and moist, in fiction written, or published, by Democrats. (/snark)

#134 ::: cd sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2006, 06:10 AM:

In three instances, too.

#135 ::: P J Evans sees the same spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 05:01 PM:

here, too.

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