Some pictures from Galveston’s Moody Gardens Aquarium and Rain Forest.  Very nice; however, I would recommend going on a weekday rather than the weekend (especially in the summer).


Fundraising Number Fun in Texas

Living in Texas, I’ve followed - with obvious interest - the reporting regarding the recent fundraising totals in the gubernatorial race. The good news for Wendy Davis: she’s been raising money. The bad news for Davis: it appears she’s overstated how much she raised (Source).

The campaign originally claimed they had $13.1 million cash on hand, but it’s more like $12.8 million. The reason for the drop was Battleground Texas’ numbers (which Davis’ camp is apparently including in their total).

Aside from the discrepancy in claims versus the actual amount on hand, the real problem lies in the fact that she has $500,000 in in-kind contributions, including a $250,000 in-kind for a Willie Nelson concert.

Why is that a problem? Well, because she’s at a 3-1 cash on hand disadvantage, and the in-kind concert isn’t going to help you going to stay up on statewide tv and radio or help you do much of anything else (though I’m sure the concert was awesome - it was Willie after all).

The Texas press hasn’t really been that impressed with Davis’ campaign for things like what’s described above, and apparently neither is the Washington Post's Reid Wilson, who called Davis “the most overrated candidate this cycle.”

Speaking of fundraising, I wonder how much money the President raised while he was in Texas last week (that’s money that is flowing out of state rather than into Wendy Davis’ campaign coffers).


Now if I could only take off from work and go.


We made three stops in Alaska: Juneau, Skagway and Tracy Arm Fjord. Great experiences all around. We toured two breweries: Alaskan Brewing (Juneau) and Gold Rush Brewery (Skagway), as well as visiting other local brewpubs, such as Skagway Brewing for great local craft beers. We were the only people on our cruise visiting the state capitol (but given my interest, I have to see how things operate in other states). In Skagway, we met a dog sled team and their handlers, as well as hiking up to Lower Dewey Lake.  And finally, we got to see the awesome splendor of the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord. Along the way we saw whales, harbor seals, eagles, etc. The cruise was nice, but when we come back, we’re going to do things on our own time table so we can experience more that Alaska has to offer.


We had a great time in Seattle as part of our vacation.  We stayed two days in town (one day prior to our cruise and one day after). We got to visit Pike’s Place Market, the Underground, the aquarium and the Space Needle.  Lots of great food and awesome things to do. We’re already planning for a trip next summer, so we can experience more of the town, such as the zoo and some of the museums.

More vacation photo spam headed your way (this trip kinda inspired me to buy a new camera and maybe take a photography class).


The last stop on our cruise was Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria is home to British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly, which meets in the Parliament Building - an incredibly beautiful structure as the above pictures reveal. We also spent time in the Royal BC Museum, exploring the Viking exhibit as well as the First Nations exhibit, which was fascinating, particularly the section on native languages.


Some Elections and Voting Reading

Since I’m going to be on vacation for a little over a week, I wanted to leave y’all with some thought provoking stories relating to voting and elections (as well as a promise to post pictures of the beautiful scenes from my vacation once I return).

The Top-Two Primary:

Could the top-two primary tame the tea party threat?

California’s jungle primary: Tried it. Dump it.

Top-Two System Again Excludes All Minor Parties

I’ve previously written about the jungle primary (see here, here and here). The argument in favor of the jungle, or top-two, primary is that it will decrease partisanship; however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. David McAdams argues it could help the GOP rid itself of TEA Party candidates like David Brat (not sure that’s a pay off that’s really worth it, and previous studies suggest that top-two primaries do not have a moderating effect).

Voting by Mail:

Does a postmark deadline really help vote by mail voters?

It appears that allowing an Election Day postmark deadline for voters is better than an earlier deadline. It’s an interesting issue to consider with more people taking advantage of mail ballots (see here and here).

No excuse needed to vote absentee in Minnesota

Minnesota is currently one the 20 states that does not have no-excuse absentee voting (Source); however, that is about to change. While I was looking up the states that have no-excuse absentee voting, I found an interesting interactive from the New York Times showing how many people voted by mail in each state in 2010 (Source).

Election Fraud (Really):

Vote-Farming In Texas

This short post by Joseph Kulhavy is a good introduction to an issue that has a long, sordid history in South Texas that has affected several elections, including Archer Parr’s re-election.


In honor of Eli Wallach who passed away today.


First Homerun in TD Ameritrade Park

In case you’re not watching the College Word Series, one of the amazing stats is that since the opening of TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha no one has hit a homerun.  Well that just changed, and fittingly it was the Longhorns who hit the first homerun.

Hook ‘em

"Imagine, he [Al Smith] said, a day when “you may find yourself unable to stand at Forty-Second Street and Broadway and smoke a cigar.” Most in the crowd no doubt found this unthinkable, but Smith insisted it was possible."

Terry Golway, Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern Day American Politics, p. xvi

Picked this book up today, and this was in the introduction; I chuckled a little.  Smith was attacking Prohibition in his speech when he made this statement.  Oh Al, if you could see us now.