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Austin’s Largest Selection of International Folk Art, Silver Jewelry and Textiles FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD k 209 CONGRESS AVE AUSTIN 512/479-8377, 00, OPEN DAILY 10-6 es: .1.4 we weren’t exactly shocked when the consumer advocates at Texas Watch recently calculated that the state’s high civil court ruled against consumers in 84 percent of its cases last term. In fact, given the court’s makeup, we have to wonder how did John and Jane Q. Public manage to win 16 percent of the time? To compile its 10th annual “Supreme Court Consumer Scorecard,” Texas Watch examined all of the court’s 110 rulings from 2005 to 2006 and classified 69 as consumer cases. The Supremes sided with the little guy 11 times. Put another way, that’s 11 instances in which defendants like insurance companies or homebuilders had to pony up damages. The Texas Watch report hints that the court suffers from massive groupthinkall nine justices agreed with each other 90 percent of the time. A few justices occasionally wander off the reservation. Yes, that means you, Harriet O’Neill. Texas Watch rated O’Neill the most consumer-friendly justice; she sided with consumers in 39 percent of her rulings. Scott Brister, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, and newcomer Phillip Johnson tied for second at 24 percent. The worst of the worst were ing the 2005-2006 term, according to Texas Watch, showed an increase in anti-consumer sentiment from the previous year, when the court tossed out consumer plaintiffs at a 71 percent clip. That’s a long way from the bleeding-heart days of 2000 \(52 percent Alex Winslow, Texas Watch’s executive director, conceded that statistical analysis is an imperfect way to measure appellate cases involving complex legal issues. “I’m not going to suggest that consumers should win every case,” he said. “But when you see defendants winning 85 to 90 percent, that should raise red flags.” It should certainly raise red flags for any of the corporations that somehow managed to beat the odds and lose before the Texas Supreme Courtmight be time for a new legal team. TAKING THE MEDICINE During a recent stop at Austin’s famed Scholz Garten, Howard Dean delivered some good news and bad news to a slate of Democratic candidates running for office in November: “Not everybody who came up on stage tonight is going to win. But the first thing you do, the day after the election if you don’t win, is start again, or go to work on someone else’s campaign.” Dressed in wrinkled khakis, wrinkled shirt, and signature rolled-up sleeves, Dean looked more like a shoe salesman than a one-time presidential contender and current chair of the Democratic National Committee. In his usual blunt style, Dean hammered home the failures of the Bush administration: “Afghanistan is getting worse. Iraq has turned into a civil war. Osama bin Laden is still at large, and Iran is about to get nuclear weapons.” The Bushies are also incompetent, he added, when it comes to balancing the budget. “They borrow and spend, borrow and spend. The truth is, most people in this country don’t want to vote for Republicans. Now it’s a question of talking to them and explaining why they should be voting for us.” Dean’s frequent visits to Texas are part of his strategy to rebuild the Democratic Party in all 50 states. Dean pointed out that he had four organizers working in Texas and had sent similar numbers of organizers to other Red states, as well. “We are going to take back Texas before we take back some of the other states we lost over the last 15 or 20 years, but it’s going to be hard work and you can’t do it without candidates,” he said. “The bad news is you can’t just talk to people in Austin. You’ve got to go outside Austin and talk to folks who didn’t vote the way we did the last time around.” Dean said he thought that Chris Bell, the Democratic contender for governor, still had a chance of winning. “If we can get Bell to 36 percent, he wins.” When asked how he planned to do that, he responded, “It’s a classified secret.” Sulu Nagai International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar OCTOBER 20, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5