Saturday, October 24, 2015

WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE ABOUT THE TEXAS TRIBUNE - PART II - MORE ON MOORE & MITCHELL

"Truthiness" trademarked. Image courtesy of PoliticusUSA
The tyranny of trying to be even-handed! It may be more insidious than being in-the-pocket of some corrupting funder.

Case in point: my previous post, the initial installment of this series.

In my desire to allow the reader to weigh the evidence for themselves, I fell into an old trap. Of necessity, I reiterated the allegations against the Trib, giving them legitimacy. Balanced - but is that fair? I'm afraid I've violated Issac Asimov's maxim "never let your sense of morals keep you from doing what is right."

The reality is that, despite James Moore's legendary reporting back-in-the-day confronting George W. Bush and his enablers, he is simply off-the-mark in his attack on the Texas Tribune. He is most definitely wrong in his allegations and insinuations against the Cynthia and George P. Mitchell Foundation (CGMF).

Since, Moore has sent me a message raising numerous objections, most for my

failure to mention in the first installment things that are slated for forthcoming ones. He did not, however, take issue with the focus of Part I - that he's wrong about CGMF. I have issued him this challenge:

So, just to confirm, you do not take issue with the problems with your accusations against the Mitchell Foundation.


Thus far, no reply.

If he cannot make good on proving his accusations, then he should issue a public retraction/apology.

Meanwhile, I have run across others who have looked into CGMF's funding patterns. Their findings? According to Greenpeace researcher Jesse Coleman, "While the Mitchell family's finances are tied to the success of the gas industry in general, the Foundations funding of efforts to limit pollution from fracking appears genuine."

Let's unpack this a bit.

Way more reputable than I am

Last April, Inside Climate News and Greenpeace's Coleman expressed confusion
over the revelation about CGMF's hiring David Blackmon, an energy industry flack, in 2012. "(Blackmon's) career has been dedicated to obstructing and delaying regulation on the oil and gas industry, especially in regards to fracking. While working for Mitchell, he led industry-funded groups that opposed the very methane regulations he was hired by Mitchell to promote," says Coleman. 

Not a lot of mystery here when you think about it. According to Coleman, Blackmon was hired "to start a dialogue between fossil fuel concerns and environmentalists around natural gas." 

Why would an organization interested in promoting environmental/sustainability issues hire such a partisan player? The truism's dated, yet timeless: "Only Nixon could go to China."

Also, be sure to check the ICN piece. The reporters tracked down CGMF's Marilu Hastings for comment, much as I did. They give her the last word to point to the awkward place she finds herself in:

"We have a really tough time being the Mitchell Foundation," she said. "We've been thrown out of meetings with environmentalists, and shut down by industry. The last thing I would do is do anything to doubt my integrity or the foundation's integrity."

In any case, it's worthwhile putting Moore's portrait of a corrupt, corrupting charity connecting with a corrupt news organization alongside these pieces. When you find yourself far out in left field, left of Greenpeace, you may be in foul ball territory.

Interesting note: I ran into these pieces AFTER the last posting while digging into Blackmon's activities to fill in some follow-up research around my interview with Evan Smith. As it happens, a piece Blackmon published in TribTalk to "balance" another by noted climate scientist/evangelical Christian Katherine Hayhoe was a matter of some consternation both inside and outside the Trib. 

More on that in my forthcoming interview with Smith, providing insights to the possibilities for evolution in the Trib's ethics. 

Oh, speaking of evolution, Moore also noted my failure to attribute credit to him for the Trib's enhanced disclosure policy last year. Yes, it came in the wake of his accusations. When I asked Emily Ramshaw and Ross Ramsey about this, they didn't credit him - said this was already in the works beforehand. I leave it to you, gentle reader, to sort this out. One thing seems sure. Moore wasn't out to provide constructive criticism, to improve the Trib. Let's see if we can do better.  
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE ABOUT THE TEXAS TRIBUNE - PART I

A Tribfest promo on Facebook
It's the eve of the Texas Tribune's 5th "Tribfest" - "the SXSW of Politics" as they call it, and time - long overdue -to take care of some unfinished business here.

It's been over 18 months since James Moore's broadside in a blog posting also published in the Huffington Post that seeks to demonstrate that the Trib's business practices are fundamentally corrupt. 


As I wrote back in March last year:

Moore seems to have hit a nerve with it. His criticism has been widely read. I've chatted about it on background with several people in the news business while reaching out for on-the-record comments. At the very least, this raises fundamental issues about the Trib's business model - and practices.

(Editorial note: I made numerous postings here last year on this issue in February and March, and some followup in April looking more generally at non-profit news)


Since, Bill Minutaglio addressed the fracas in The Texas Observer. Minutaglio's point is that if it looks sketchy, that's problem enough:

Moore makes the case for guilt by association...He might not have proved that the Tribune’s reporting is sullied by the money it receives, but he sure suggests that readers can’t be faulted for noticing a perception problem.

Unlike Moore, Minutaglio's upshot is cautionary, not condemnatory. "...how fine a line the brave new world of nonprofit journalism has to tread in the search for viable business models,” he observes.

But Moore says that the "Trouble with the Trib" isn't just bad optics. So what about his allegations? In my conversations with journalists across the state - many off-the-record - several pointed to one specific constellation of claims about the Trib's relationship with the Cynthia and George P. Mitchell Foundation (CGMF). I was repeatedly encouraged to see what I could find out. So I started digging. 


CONNECTION = CORRUPTION?

Moore sketches a portrait of a corrupt, corrupting charity connecting with a corrupt news organization. His core claim has two aspects. First, that there is "a connection between the non-profit's giving and the family's business interests," and second, that CGMF is an instrument for furthering those business interests.

To be sure, the Mitchell family fortune comes from the energy sector, and the foundation is interested in energy/environment/sustainability issues. That's not altogether different than, say, the Kaiser Family Foundation's focus on healthcare. Despite the connection to Kaiser Permanente, the non-profit's funding of healthcare reporting and policy analysis is accepted a legit. In fact, the world of philanthropy is full of such "connections" as well as profound ironies like the Nobel Peace prize paid for by munitions money.

So exposing a "connection" between the business interests and those of the non-profit is hardly a revelation. It is a far cry from demonstrating the second point - the intimation that the non-profit is just a cynical ploy, a bogus charity that is little more than a marketing communications vehicle for a for-profit enterprise.

Take the specific business ventures Moore cites. It seems that if profitability alone were the goal, Todd Mitchell could have done better than to invest his time and effort in solar energy. Is it possible that something other than money motives him? What comes to mind is Rick's business savvy in Casablanca:

Captain Renault: In 1935, you ran guns to Ethiopia. In 1936, you fought in Spain, on the Loyalist side.

Rick: I got well paid for it on both occasions.

Captain Renault: The winning side would have paid you much better.


GETTING AN INSIDE LOOK

Still, this is all supposition. If the Trib was a willing partner to such a fraud, one "tell" would be the internal documents that, in fact, define the relationship between the foundation and grant recipient. So I asked the Trib's Ross Ramsey for them. Till then, he'd been forthcoming in my inquiries. This time, he paused at the request and promised to come back with an answer. Then, a few days later, he turned me down. Of course, that just piqued my curiosity. How could I get those internal documents?

Some time after, I did a story about an event sponsored by CGMF (see the written version here, and radio version here) and the solution to my quandary was obvious. I sidestepped Ramsey and reached out to Marilu Hastings, CGMF's vice president, sustainability programs. She leads all of the strategic grantmaking programs. This was the first she'd heard of Moore's accusations. She handed over all the internal docs I requested without protest. What do they show? I've crafted such documents for another not-for-profit news organization and these appear to be as they should be. In fact, I found the reporting from the Trib on what was done to fulfill its commitments rather bland. Grant recipients often try to butter up grantors. This isn't even greased with margarine.


TROUBLES WITH THE TRIBFEST TRACK

As far as Moore's specific allegations, the strongest is about the undisclosed relationships on a panel sponsored by CGMF at the 2013 TribFest. First, CGMF funded the entire energy track - the problematic panel was just a part of it. Still, the panel was moderated by the Trib's reporter funded by the CGMF grant, and featured former state senator Kip Averitt of the Texas Clean Energy Coalition, another CGMF grant recipient. No doubt, these relationships could have been stated clearly for the audience. The optics for not doing so are sketchy. Though the funding was not secret, you'd have to make a significant effort, as Moore has, to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Of course, that effort is really just a few clicks on the Internet. Still, this information should be explicit.

But does this make the case that this was an underhanded public relations coup? Is "The Road to Energy Efficiency" panel the road to ruin for the Trib's integrity? Check the full panel here. Is Averitt, former Chairman of the state Senate's Committee on Natural Resources, out of place? Check his credentials here. Also, listen to how Jim Malewitz, the Trib's CGMF-funded reporter, directed the proceedings (see track #3 here) and judge for yourself.

I encourage those interested to listen through then make their own judgment. It seems to me that if there was manipulation, it wasn't very skillful. As Hastings observed about Moore's claim that they've been pulling strings, "if we had that much power, things would be a lot different!"

Stepping back, the question is - is Averitt on-the-scene because he is funded by CGMF, or is he funded by CGMF because he's on-the-scene? The situation here seems quite different from Evan Feinberg's appearance on PBS' Newshour. Feinberg is the front man for a front group with no real experience or authority on his "expertise." It would seem that the only real qualification he has is a willingness to promote his backer's agenda.  


(Side note: Averitt, too, was a participant at the CGMF event I reported on. I'd forgotten his funding as I wrote & produced by coverage. I'm not sure it would have made the final edit if I had. But then, I wasn't funded by CGMF. If I had been, I hope that I would have been more - not less - inclined to do so.)

WHAT THE INTERNAL DOCS SAY

So how much influence did CGMF exert over who was selected to participate in the panel or how it was conducted? The internal reports give some clue. Typically, there's three documents. The first is the grant proposal that makes specific requests; the second is the acceptance document from CGMF detailing what's expected; finally, the Trib reports back on what was actually delivered.

Here's the pitch for the panel - actually for the larger energy track - included in the larger grant proposal dated March 11, 2013:

Texas Tribune Festival: Energy Track Sponsorship

As an extension of our mission to improve civic engagement in Texas, we created The Texas Tribune Festival to bring together the state’s most prominent thinkers, politicians and public servants for a weekend of debate, discussion and dialogue on the subjects that matter most to all Texans. The Texas Tribune Festival helps citizens can gain an understanding of the issues that the leaders in our state are grappling with and an appreciation for the stakes involved.

The 2013 Festival will be held on September 28 and 29 at the University of Texas at Austin. It will include 9 tracks: public education, higher education, immigration, transportation, health care, criminal justice, energy, environment and keynotes. The energy track will include major addresses and panel discussions by a wide range of experts (link to last year’s program: http://www.texastribune.org/festival/2012/tracks/energy-environment/.) Nearly 2,000 people from Austin and across the state attended the 2012 festival, a 66% increase over 2011. We expect the growth to continue in 2013.


The "executed grant award letter" of May 21, 2013 is more general:

The grant is to be used exclusively by Texas Tribune Inc. of Austin, Texas for Energy and Water Coverage, Texas Tribune Festival, 'In the Flow' newsletter.

Finally, the grant award stipulates that a report on deliverables will be due within a year. there's the report after-the-fact dated May 22, 2014:

Texas Tribune Festival – Energy Track

Held on September 27-29 at UT-Austin, the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival was by far our most successful. In year three, the three-day public policy festival drew 2,500 registrants (50 percent more than last year) and generated nearly $135,000 in ticket sales (60 percent more) and nearly $590,000 (50 percent) from 58 corporate and foundation sponsors (35 percent), not counting inkind contributions.

There were four sessions on Saturday in each of the eight program tracks, leaving two time slots dark in each one, so that attendees had greater flexibility in mixing and matching their sessions across the tracks. The festival opened with an interview with U.S. senator Ted Cruz and closed with state senator Wendy Davis. Energy programming at the festival included the fours panels: Regulating Energy, The Shale Boom: What Now?, The Road to Energy Efficiency and The Fight Over Electricity. This full weekend of civic engagement, spirited discussion and lively exchange elicited many positive comments from attendees such as: “The Texas Tribune Festival is the most exciting and engaging political activity I’ve ever attended. Truly democracy in action.”

Of course, the report came out after Moore's accusations. So if there were even a whiff of malfeasance, it seems unlikely they would document it. However, this report is quite similar to previous ones. There's no attempt to butter up the charity by underlining how their presumed interests are being served.

MORE THAN JUST THE TRIB IN TROUBLE?

There's a few more things for the conspiracy-minded to consider in making a reasoned judgment here.

That Hastings hadn't heard about any of these accusations before I reached out to her is telling. If she was in cahoots with the Trib, it stands to reason that they'd have connected to get their PR act together.

Still another problem with Moore's portrait of purported corruption is how it would reach beyond the Trib. According to Hastings:

We help fund other journalistic outlets as well - Texas Climate News run by Bill Dawson, the former environmental reporter at Houston Chronicle. We certainly don't have anything to do with his reporting. I can tell you one thing - If I tried to, he and Evan (Smith) both would tell me to go straight to Hell. Even if I lacked integrity, they don't.

So the charges that Moore levels against Evan Smith and the Trib should apply equally to Bill Dawson and Texas Climate News since they both draw from the same (purportedly) poisoned well. But as far as I know, no one has leveled such accusations against Dawson.

This does point to another issue with Moore's accusations. They look narrowly at the Trib, and so miss the fact that this has a larger context. Moore is not alone in his extraordinary dislike that many professional journalists feel towards the Trib and like "Digital News" upstarts elsewhere. I've suggested before that this could well be just a generational thing. Is this simply a matter of taste? Or is there something more substantive?

As it happens, the Society of Professional Journalists wrestled with the core issues here in updating its ethics code last year. Let's look at that next, and then close out with my interview with Evan Smith.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

REBEL YELL IN TEXAS: CRUZ, ABBOTT CALL FOR SECESSION

Sen. Cruz, Gov. Abbott with AG Paxton, Lt. Gov. Patrick
Conservative outcry over the past week's Supreme Court rulings ensuring the survival of Obamacare and enshrining Marriage Equality as a fundamental right reached a fever pitch in Texas today as Governor Greg Abbott let out what state Attorney General Ken Paxton described as a "Rebel Yell" calling for secession from the United States. 

"Aside from dragging our feet, Ken here says we've run out of legal options," said Abbott. "What I am suggesting here is really not new, but is a time-honored approach that honors our heritage. We are calling for other Republican-led states who share this heritage to join Texas. This new nation will not just be free from Obamacare. It will be free from any healthcare coverage whatsoever for poor or middle class people. However, we will provide universal coverage for Reparative Therapy. That will resolve the so-called 'Marriage Equality' issue."

At the press conference in Austin, Ted Cruz resigned from the United States Senate and withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the President of the United States. Instead, he offered to serve as the President of the new nation, what he termed the "Neo-Co
n." He called for his former rivals for the Republican nomination including Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and "Bobbie" Jindal and Jeb! to join what he said was "the ultimate destiny of the Republican Party." 

"It's really what you might call the ultimate 'Southern Strategy'," said Cruz. "No more fooling around with code words and dog-whistles." 

When asked about whether GOP Presidential hopefuls Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, too, would be invited to participate, Cruz pointed to other contrasts setting the Neo-Con apart from the United States.

"I'm not sure whether women and African Americans will be allowed to vote much less hold public office," Cruz said. "I'm sure there are those that will misconstrue this, but what we're about is heritage, not hate." 

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said that he, too, wished to take a leadership role. 

"I'm not sure about a title for what I have in mind, something Old Testament to be sure. You know - 'Protector of the Faith' - that sort of thing," Patrick said. 

Patrick added that the Supreme Court's rulings simply precipitated what seemed to him to be an inevitable showdown following the coming Presidential election.

"Hillary is going to win anyway, and so we may as well secede now."


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Monday, January 19, 2015

NEW YEAR, NEW HORIZONS

New Horizons here, too.
Just a few loose ends to tie together here. I won't be posting regularly anymore in that I am about to pursue another project that will be consuming much of my time. 

What's left? 

Well, the long-awaited deep-dive into the Texas Tribune's ethics - that is long overdue. I've done significant, original research to fulfill my promise to numerous members of the community to get to the bottom here. I believe I've come to a comprehensive understanding that puts this in a context lacking in what I've seen elsewhere.

I'll also likely check in on occasion to chronicle the turn in the Texas economy. Is my thesis about the oil crash triggering a failure in the state's population-Ponzi scheme right? We will see.

Meanwhile, I've trimmed my archives here since the details of the past political season are like clouds passing in the sky. What's more substantive for me and my ongoing work is media criticism. I've kept those postings, as well as a few other chestnuts.

So, this isn't quite goodbye. Still, thanks to all that helped with this little project, and to the gentle readers that gleaned some small value from it.   

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BIG, HOT, CHEAP, and BROKE

Reality writes the sequel to Grieder's work
Forget the economic indicators, the sure sign that the so-called 'Texas Miracle" is set to tank is Erica Grieder's reassurances that, really, there's no problem.

Like Rick Perry and The Texas Public Policy Center, trouble with the Texas economy puts Grieder's reputation at risk. Best known for her book about the "strange genius" behind the "Texas Miracle," what if the "genius" is really little more than a dressed-up scam?

Now, I've written extensively before debunking the "Texas Miracle" - in fact, that's how I launched this blog. More recently, I raised doubts about the endless bonanza promised by fracking proponents. Now that the boom is turning to bust (albeit for reasons other than I suspected), the upshot is simple: the whole house of cards will likely come down. I give it about 18 months.

But how can that be? Grieder says that the drop in oil prices won't trigger a deep recession like what happened in the 80's because the state's economy is now more diversified ---

The problem is that this diversity is largely illusory. Yes, Texas has changed its core business from oil. But it has been replaced by something even more unstable and unsustainable. Texas is now in the GROWTH business. If the steady stream of people into the state stops, it will fold like a Ponzi scheme. You see, Ponzi schemes, too, are in the growth business. Such schemes falter when the growth slows. Collapse comes when the reality that it depends on unsustainable growth cannot be ignored.

Grieder & DeVore: separated at birth? 

Till now, the state's remarkable growth has been based on an unsustainable business practice. The low costs that have attracted people comes from exhausting the vital infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Now, deferred costs for transportation, water, power and education are coming due. For the past few years, the oil boom allowed the Perry regime to put off this day of reckoning. Now, the drop in oil prices will bring the long-deferred moment-of-truth. 

So it won't be the oil bust that brings a deep recession to Texas. That's merely the trigger that will take down the Texas GOP's unsustainable growth scheme.

It's unfortunate that little of this was part of the public debate in the recent election. 


What of Gov.-elect Abbott, the "continuity candidate" assuming office to carry out what essentially would be Rick Perry's 4th term? He's akin to the hapless Herbert Hoover taking the helm from Calvin Coolidge as the Roaring 20's peaked. In 1928, Hoover enjoyed a landslide victory (nearly 20 points) over the Democrat opposing him. After the Crash of '29, the country had to wait till '33 to get leadership capable of addressing the problem. 

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO WENDY

Dear Senator Davis,

Please forgive me for making this unsolicited suggestion of what I feel you are now uniquely suited to accomplish. What I have in mind is better than simply some fall-back to your aspiration to lead Texas as our Governor. Outrageous as it sounds, this could BETTER advance the causes you champion in the long term.

Please take a moment to let me share a Vision with you. But first, some context.

If you were a Republican, a world of well-paid opportunities would be yours to choose from. Maybe you'd head a so-called "think tank," perhaps augmented with a fat contract from Fox News to serve as a "commentator." You see, the media-driven conservative machine understands the importance of branding and name recognition. Once you've spent millions in a campaign to develop these, you don't just throw that investment away. They find some place to let their former candidates cool their heels, stay in public view, and position themselves to best advance their cause. That's how they turn campaign spending into a long-term investments that pay rich returns.

How different it is for Democrats! 


Here in Texas, they lack anything like this infrastructure. After a campaign's over, candidates are typically left to fend for themselves. You may simply return to private law practice, and that would be a great loss. The same is true for others on what's easily the best slate of Democratic candidates fielded in at least a generation. What a shame to let Mike Collier go back to industry after he's shown such promise for public service!

Despite the disappointing (and questionable) results from the election, the goal for progressives remains: take the legislature in 2020, in time for redistricting for the next decade. To get there will require significant infrastructure investments. That brings me to what YOU can - and should - do next.

One of the things most needed to realize this "2020" vision is to create a new kind of organization to counter what is the backbone of the Texas conservative machine, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). TPPF is part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a national organization with affiliates in every state. They refer to themselves as "think tanks," but that is intentionally misleading. These outfits, despite their not-for-profit status, serve as thinly-veiled lobbying and public relations firms. Often, their work is to localize and market legislation generated by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Counsel. The term "Spin Shop" more accurately captures their true nature.

There really is no progressive counterbalance. That needs to change.

For years, Democrats have been under the mistaken impression that legitimate public policy organizations like the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) are the correlate to SPN affiliates. They are not. In fact, what CPPP needs most is a new kind of progressive organization to properly leverage its work, to raise public - and legislative - awareness of the economic realities revealed by its research. That's one function of this new kind of organization, along with exposing the difference between legitimate policy research organizations and "Spin Shops" like TPPF. 

Another role is to consolidate and expand existing progressive organizations in the state. Standalone groups unaffiliated with national organizations like the Texas Freedom Network, Progress Texas, and Texans for Public Justice waste precious resources by having separate fundraising, marketing, and public relations functions. Consolidation within a single organization would also yield significant savings by sharing office space and administrative costs.

What's keeping these like-minded groups from doing such a sensible thing? When I floated this idea past someone connected to these groups, they gave me a one-word objection: EGO.

That's where YOU can play a unique role. You have the stature to found this new organization, to draw these groups together into it. Given your visibility and fundraising capabilities, you can reach out to your national network to gather the resources necessary to fund this properly. Under your leadership, they will achieve far more than each is able to do now individually. 

Why would progressives across the country want to support this? 

First, they already know that when Texas goes blue, the Republican party is finished. That's why they've already invested in your campaign and also in the Battleground Texas organization. The need for this new kind of unified progressive group is at least as great. Also, while focused on Texas, it will serve as a model for others across the country. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that this would also give you a platform to continue to engage in public policy debate and discussion. We need to hear your voice, loud and proud, in the coming legislative session and beyond. This would be a megaphone for it.

So will you take on the challenge of creating this new kind of organization? If not, I hope it is because you are manifesting another vision at least as crucial and compelling.

                                                                       Sincerely,

                                                                                Carl Lindemann

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

GOV-ELECT ABBOTT: THE LANCE ARMSTRONG OF TEXAS POLITICS

Too good to be true
The lopsided election returns are too good to be true for Texas Republicans. The outsize results are like the stats in sports distorted by performance enhancing drugs. The dope boosting Republican numbers? Governor-elect Greg Abbott's unconstitutional Voter Suppression Law, aka "Voter ID". Winning with it makes Abbott the Lance Armstrong of Texas politics. 

As Texas Attorney General, Abbott used his public office for personal and partisan advantage by successfully petitioning the Supreme Court to keep Voter ID alive for his election. This came just before early voting began and on the heels of the court's ruling that a similar law in Wisconsin was unconstitutional. Why strike it down there but not here? Abbott argued that since the law had previously disenfranchised eligible voters, the last-minute change would cause chaos. Apparently, voters are accustomed to having their constitutional rights violated in Texas. It would cause confusion to stop doing that suddenly. Or, is it that conservative voters are accustomed to seeing the rights of Hispanics and others in Texas violated - and their tranquility should not be suddenly disturbed? Either way, this left as many as 800,000 voters without the credentials needed to vote - more than the margin for victory in past gubernatorial races.

As intended, Abbott's Voter Suppression Law proved toxic to his opponent Wendy Davis' campaign by undermining its core strategy. Legions of volunteers working in Battleground Texas, its sister organization, spent the past year beating the bushes for the very voters disenfranchised by Abbott. So the election was over before it even began. Still, Wendy Davis soldiered on, holding out for the miraculous. After all, she faced a similar situation as Republicans tried to shut down her celebrated filibuster.

That evening, her GOP Senate colleagues sought to inflict a humiliating defeat by whatever means necessary. They discarded decorum and decency, trampling Texas Senate traditions. This literally triggered a public outcry. A shout rose up in the gallery, spontaneous outrage at the misconduct. The shout was loud and long and made it impossible for Republicans to deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce. The so-called "Unruly Mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics" ran out the clock, finishing Davis' filibuster for her.

Nothing like The Shout happened on Election Day. Davis, a true statesman, encouraged voters to head to the polls to "respect and honor...those voices who want to be part of this process but who Greg Abbott denied the opportunity to do so." Still, a different kind of public outcry may come when the Supreme Court strikes down the law. At the very least, Abbott's tainted victory will be seen for what it is. Perhaps an asterisk will have to be placed next to the results on the Secretary of State's final tally, just like the stats for sports seasons tainted by doping.

Wouldn't Abbott and other Texas Republicans have won with-or-without robbing voters of their rights? Lance Armstrong, no doubt, would have been a champ without cheating, too. Unlike Armstrong, Governor-elect Abbott will not have his title taken from him. Certainly he should be stripped of whatever laurels he and his cohorts may claim for a mandate based on their boosted election results. Worse, it casts a shadow over his administration. Abbott opened his victory speech addressing everyone "whether you voted for me, against me or didn't vote at all..." He forgot those he denied the vote, a telling omission. The Governor-elect is NOT for all Texans.

Far from being humiliated by the seeming magnitude of the Republican sweep, Wendy Davis and the other Democrats on the ticket should be emboldened by it. It is a sure sign of the unconstitutional swindle that defines this election, and a true reflection of the dishonest characters behind it.

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