Friday, January 25, 2008

Michael Skelly for 7th Cong. Dist. of Texas...

Those of us who live in the 7th Congressional District of Texas were hoping for a good candidate to vote for in 2008 - it looks like we've found one:

Michael Skelly for Congress

Skelly is is a successful energy entrepreneur - focusing on green energy - with a track record in building businesses. Skelly serves on Houston Mayor Bill White's Green Building Advisory Committee, is a longtime member of the board of the American Wind Energy Association, and has served on the boards of several other nonprofits and companies.

Mr. Skelly seems an exceptional candidate. The 7th Congressional District - and the entire Houston area - suffers from the staid, Bush-buddy, career politician John Culberson. Culberson simply does not meet the needs, nor the demands of such a vibrant, growing district.

What does the 7th District need? We need real answers to real transportation challenges. We are growing, growing, growing - and we need new solutions, not the same old re-tread stop-gaps favored by Culberson and his cronies and contributers. Skelly can provide new perspective, highlighted by a career in green energy and green city planning, that can truly lead on these local issues in the national Congress.

We need actual oversight over the outrageous handling of the war in Iraq and the mind-numbing spending in Congress. I don't care if the majority party is Democratic or Republican - we need someone who will bring a prudent approach to management, spending, and accountability. Culberson is merely a rubber-stamp for Bush mismanagement and wasteful spending. Skelly will provide an business-builders accountability and oversight - understanding how to lead on spending and efficiency.

We need genuine leadership on important energy issues facing our entire nation - and hit home right here in the 7th District with high gas prices, utility prices, and so many energy workers/businesses/executives. Culberson has never led on energy, in fact, he has been a stumbling block to creating a 21st Century energy policy. Skelly will be a leader on energy - maybe THE leader on energy in Congress. He knows how green energy works, he has made it work, and he can make it work for the entire nation. He can lead on creation of a national energy policy that moves our nation forward, make us a world-wide leader, and will create thousands and thousands of new jobs, even as so many of our traditional manufacturing jobs fade into the past.

Jim Henley was a good candidate in 2006. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Henley and found him to be a good candidate. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Henley decides to run again this year, after putting up a strong fight - for being such an underdog. If so, I would hope that the primary victor would be made that much stronger going to battle against the entrenched, well-funded, and national-party protected Culberson.

But for now, Michael Skelly is not just a good alternative to Culberson, he is a leader with a record of entrepreneurship, job creation, getting things done and solving problems.

Skelly looks like just what the 7th District needs.

Here is some media:
Houston Business Journal - Energy entrepreneur leaves business to pursue politics

Houston Chronicle - Energy exec Skelly vies to unseat Culberson

And some blog opinion:
Off the Kuff - "Skelly will make for an interesting candidate in this district. He's a businessman with a background in energy, and should be able to run as a technocrat, which I think will be appealing to the mostly well-educated constituency in CD07. Being well-funded won't hurt, either..."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


...That's it. Wow. Clinton's win tonight is the biggest political story of my lifetime.


Grace and legacy...

If today's New Hampshire primary is as bad for Sen. Hillary Clinton as it looks like it could be - say a double digit loss to Sen. Obama - the next weeks/months will be highly instructive as to the genuine nature of the Clinton's.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I am one of the three people left (it sometimes seems) that believes the Clinton's are genuine. That they strive and live for public service. And they are more interested in the future of America than in amassing power. Maybe I am naive, maybe I am simple. But, in some ways, I have to believe that they are sincere.

I grew up in small towns in Arkansas. I came from no connections and no family name. My parents were teachers and I grew up middle-class/lower middle-class. The story of Bill Clinton is the great America dream. A boy with no name, no connections, no money, from no where of import - works hard, studies hard, and makes it. I have always seen a tiny bit of myself in that story. In the summer of 1991, I attended Boy State in Arkansas - and that weekend, while Gov. Bill Clinton was campaigning in New Hampshire and other places in anticipation for the 1992 election, I must have seen the Boy State picture of the young-Bill Clinton shaking the hand of President John Kennedy 50 times. I also grew up watching Hillary Clinton work on important causes long before there were any cameras or press people following her around. She didn't do it to seek power or fame, she worked because children and other folks needed help.

I always felt a connection to that story. I never had much, but (at least, I would say so myself) I worked hard, had a great first-career, began a wonderful family, went back to law school and had some success, and am basically living my life's dreams right now. In my own way, I made it. Just like the Clinton's made it. And yes, there are flaws and failings. For all of the mythology and inspiration of the story of Bill Clinton - which I am in awe of, there is also the character flaws and poor personal judgment - which I also know is true. And yet...

I have never bought in to the right-wing created charicature of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Manipulative, cold, calculating, out for nothing save more power. It's such an easy story, and the media has beaten us over the head with it for so many years now that - because perception is reality - it is accepted as true. But I've never bought it. They are vilified because they win. They are vilified because they exposed the falsity of conservative politics - that you don't have to use fear to win, that you can balance budgets while increasing social responsibility, that you can balance free markets and reasonable regulation - the list goes on and on. They were successful, so the right-wing had to paint them as monsters in order to offset the success. They are power hungry. They are manipulative. They mercilessly pounce on anyone who dares oppose them - and leave a trail of broken careers, hopes and dreams in their wake. But that is not what I see.

What I see are a supremely politically gifted, exceptionally intelligent, and improbably resilient couple. I see two people who - instead of pursuing lucrative careers in the private sector with those prestigious degrees they gained - choose to devote their lives to public service. State government service, children's defense, federal government service - the list goes on. They have lived lives of public service. I can't imagine that this was the easiest way of getting ahead - because my supposition is not that their primary motivation was to get ahead - rather to serve America.

But maybe I'm just naive.

I think that we'll find out for sure over the next month or so.

If indeed Obama wins NH today by double digits, I think he is without doubt in the driver's seat to be the Democratic nominee this year. How will the Clinton campaign respond? Although this may be an over-simplification, there are basically two options:

1. She can close this campaign with grace, work to unify the party, and both Hillary and Bill can take comfort and encouragement in the fact that Obama really is the continuation of the Clinton legacy. He is the new generation taking the torch from the last - as JFK spoke of so many years ago. Although for me, it seems too soon for such a generational shift in leadership, I was astounded to hear Jonathan Alter last night on the Charlie Rose Show mention that it has been 16 years since Clinton won in 1992, and it was 15 years between the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 and the election of John Kennedy in 1960.

Obama is, in many ways, the political descendant of the Clinton's. Unity, hope, fresh perspective. An understanding that ideological division is not what makes America great, but rather pragmatic ideas that work. That's what the Clinton's were in the 90s - a shift away from cold, trickle-down theory toward tangible, pragmatic action. Bill Clinton won because he was able to "re-find" those "Reagan Democrats," he appealed to Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans. That is Obama today. His new vision for America embraces progressives but reaches out to and welcomes those independents and Republicans who really are looking for a third-way. He is now the torch-bearer.

But that has to be very hard for Sen. Clinton (and the former President) to accept - because I'm sure they still believe they have so much service yet to give to America. But, if Obama does win big today, it likely means the Clinton era is ending, and a new generation begins. If Hillary accepts this gracefully, and pours herself into completing a positive campaign, unifying the party, I think it will do wonders to cement the legacy of public service that defines Bill and Hillary Clinton. Yes, she needs to continue in the campaign - if Obama stumbles, she needs to be the alternative (not John Edwards). But she needs to continue with grace, dignity, and with party-unity being the higher calling. She can go back to her work in the Senate with her legacy intact, if not strengthened.


2. She can prove the right-wing critics right. She can go desperately negative. She can fight and scratch and claw her way back into contention on Feb. 5. This might actually "work" in the sense of winning her the nomination. She might be able to sling enough mud to pull him back to the field and make him beatable. But it will lose the general election - so many Americans are energized and uplifted by Obama, that they would react strongly negatively to her. And, maybe more importantly, it will crystallize the legacy of Bill and Hillary as exactly what they are characterized as - power-hungry, manipulative, and with their own personal glory above that of their party and country.

Maybe none of this will apply. Maybe she'll surprise tonight and lose by 5 or legitimately right back in it, and run her campaign on to victory. But if she is well-beaten tonight - I think we will really learn a lot about the true nature of the Clinton's.

Maybe I'm naive.

I really, really hope not.

UPDATE: Here is Alter's piece in Newsweek that he referenced last night on Charlie Rose: How Tomorrow Became Yesterday.

The 16 years since the Clintons grabbed control of the Democratic Party is the same amount of time that elapsed between the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945 and John F. Kennedy's Inauguration in 1961. It's a longer period than many of us would care to admit. Kennedy operated "in the shadow of FDR," as the historian William E. Leuchtenberg put it, and he updated the New Deal to the New Frontier. But Kennedy's main argument was that "the torch has been passed to a new generation." So it is today, with the aging baby-boom generation—symbolized by the Clintons—under pressure to move aside.


...I think not. Yesterday afternoon driving home from work I was listening to right-wing radio. In, literally, less than 15 minutes on two different shows, I heard three right-wing commentators use the word "narcissism" to describe Hillary Clinton's emotional moment yesterday. Three in less than 15 minutes. The first two came from the guest host of the Hugh Hewett show and his guest, Bill Kristol at around 6:10-12. The host said that he thought it was just an example of Clinton narcissism, and Kristol popped up and said great minds must think alike because he was on FoxNews earlier and had made the comment there that he felt this was simply the narcissism of Hillary Clinton. Then, at 6:17-20 Michael Savage made almost the same comment, chalking the moment up to "Clinton narcissism."

The right wing is nothing if not disciplined and on-message.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Let's HOPE this is a Beginning of something big...

It is an exceptionally good night to be a Democrat. I have no idea if these types of voter turnout numbers can be maintained, but if so, it's the beginning of something big. And something great for America.

Congratulations to Sen. Obama. As long as I'm at it, congratulations to Sen. Edwards, Sen. Clinton, Gov. Richardson, Sen. Biden, and Sen. Dodd. The absolute '27 Yankees of political lineups.

Also, congratulations to Gov. Huckabee - I've never really hid my respect for him. I think he is genuine. I respect that - it doesn't mean I agree with everything he does, but the way he demonstrated that genuineness without organization and money can still overcome calculation and millions has my respect.

On to NH, and (hopefully) to more and more people coming on board the progressive bandwagon. There is still a long way to go, and now it will be much more interesting with Obama and Hillary going head to head.

It is an exceptionally good night to be a Democrat.