Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trump picked the wrong weekend to stop sniffing glue

Other than being distracted by his sniffling, I was amused by the evening's developments (not highly entertained, but I always keep my expectations pretty low for these).

Yes, Clinton won, and her polling should reflect that in a few days.  Historically the underdog has usually won Round 1, so that's another plus for Clinton.

And my candidate staged a very busy and effective virtual debate in real time, lifting her into the Trending on Twitter before the debate began with her expulsion from the Hofstra University campus, and sustaining that momentum late into the evening.

There's a lot of spinning and some good analysis that I'll update this post with later.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The First Debate Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance passes along Heat Street's exclusive betting guide, Moms Rising's bingo card, and the drinking game rules for the first presidential debate this evening.  But before it begins, Houston-area partisans, show up at the Harris County District Attorney debate, between Kim Ogg and Devon Anderson, from 6:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the near southwest side.

Socratic Gadfly "invites" members of Anonymous to hack the TV feed of the presidential debate on Monday, and John Coby at Bay Area Houston has the media's guide for delivering a win to Trump.

Off the Kuff marvels at the latest order from Judge Nelva Ramos in the voter ID lawsuit.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is thrilled by the poll that shows Hillary Clinton ten points ahead of Donald Trump in Harris County: Hot Damn, Houston! We can do this.

A discomfiting conclusion about Ted Cruz folding to Dan Patrick and endorsing Trump was drawn by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

As the Republican Congress fiddles, the Zika virus marches on Texas. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is continually appalled at the Republican war on health care and the well being of citizens.

Neil at All People Have Value pointed out that Ann Harris Bennett would be a far better Harris County Tax Assessor-Voter Registrar than failed incumbent Mike Sullivan. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Asian American Action Fund advances a fundraiser later this week for one of its favored candidates, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-US Senate).

State Rep. Ron Simmons will address the Lewisville Chamber of Commerce regarding the forthcoming legislative session and various transportation matters, reports the Texan-Journal.

Texas Leftist is a little taken aback by the number of teachers slated to lose their jobs under Trump's education plan.

And Dos Centavos humble-brags about the two albums he reviewed that were nominated for the Latin Grammys.


More blog posts from around Texas!

The Houston Communist Party, in coordination with the Houston Socialist Movement, plans a counter-protest against the "White Lives Matter" protest next Saturday, at the Anti-Defamation League's southwest Houston office.

Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer laments the state of the media, but not that of journalism.

Karisha Shaw at Strength in Numbers has a view of intersectionality through the lens of a queer black woman.

Grits for Breakfast offers a suggestion to the Texas House committee contemplating a racial profiling aspect to police stops: limit searches to reduce public dissatisfaction.

Swamplot updates the court room battle between two oyster harvesting companies over Galveston Bay's reefs as the bay recovers from the spring flooding.

Pages of Victory explains why the Trans-Pacific Partnership exemplifies his loss of respect for the Democratic Party.
Lone Star Ma focuses on the twelfth of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Colleen Aune (a former member of the Rice Marching Owl Band) and Dan Solomon have their say on the MOB's controversial halftime show during the Rice-Baylor game.

Raised On The Rail provides a handy map of Houston restaurants near light rail stops.

The Lunch Tray alerts us to a disturbing report about teens and hunger.

The Austin Chronicle and the Texas Freedom Network both remind us that SBOE member David Bradley is a huge jerk.

And the TPA wishes Tom "Smitty" Smith a happy and healthy retirement.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ted Cruz, Trump, and Dan Patrick

I don't care whether Ted Cruz has suffered any damage -- any at all, in any way -- with his endorsement of Trump.  It's obvious to me that the man cares about nothing except the next election he's running in.

But it's instructive that it was our lieutenant governor who pushed him off the fence with notice that he would be "left in the rearview mirror" if he didn't endorse the Republican nominee.  What that tells me is that Cruz was intimidated by the realization that he might be primaried in 2018 by someone running to his right.  (Fear is a mutha, ain't it?)

But.  Someone running to the right of Ted Cruz.  Who could win.

Let that sink in.

"Keep Calm and Vote Green: Fascism is not coming"

Thanks to Paul Street at Truthdig for telling it like it is, using the boy who cried 'wolf" analogy:

Every four years, liberal-left politicos scream wolf about how the Republicans are going to wreak plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and war-mongering hell if they win “this, the most important election in American history.” The politicos conveniently ignore the plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and military-imperial havoc that Democrats inflict at home and abroad in dark, co-dependent alliance with the ever more radically reactionary Republicans.

Democrats fail to acknowledge their preferred party’s responsibility for sustaining the Republicans’ continuing power, which feeds on the “dismal” Dems’ neoliberal abandonment of the nation’s working-class majority in service to transnational Wall Street and corporate America. They commonly exaggerate the danger posed by the right-most major party and (especially) the progressivism of the not-so-left-most one.

It’s not that the liberal and progressive politicos lie about the presence of wolves. The wolves are out there. But they include Democratic wolves in fake sheep’s clothing joined with Republicans in what Washington journalist Mark Leibovich calls “the ultimate Green Party.” The nation’s capital, Leibovich notes, has “become a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made. … ‘No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore,’ goes the maxim, ‘only millionaires.’ ” 

I watched Bill Maher last night (something I haven't done much ever since he came out as one of those Paul Ryan/Chris Christie/chicken or fish fuckwads).  One of the panelists was Lanhee Chen, a Republican who cannot vote for either Trump or Clinton.  His response to Maher regarding who he was voting for began with "I live in California, just like you" before he was interrupted and attacked by World War Z author Max Brooks with "Supreme Court".

Chen gets most everything about policy wrong IMO, but gets it right about the Electoral College; Maher and the rest of his panel (save the odious Neera Tanden, who gets it completely and exploits the fear factor associated with not voting for Clinton) do not.

The more American liberals and progressives (vote for the lesser evil; it has a track record, after all), the more the Republican right wing is emboldened, the further the Democrats move into ideological and policy territory formerly held by Republicans, and the more dire the American and global situation becomes. LEV is a viciously circular, self-fulfilling prophecy that itself holds no small responsibility for the ascendancy of horrible Republican presidents and other terrible things like the tea party and Donald Trump phenomena. [...]

I am not so inured to the quasi-neofascistic evil of the Trump phenomenon and the ugly prospects of a Trump presidency—especially on the ecological level—that I cannot understand why many fellow leftists would mark a ballot for the hideous imperial corporatist Hillary Clinton to block Herr Trump. The intra-left bloodletting that takes place on a regular quadrennial schedule over the difficult question of how best to respond to the United States’ plutocratic electoral and party system certainly does not serve the progressive left cause. Let us join together after the latest quadrennial extravaganza to build and expand a great popular movement with a list of demands and the introduction of an election and party system that deserves passionate citizen engagement.

The debate is Monday.  Clinton's polling has gathered strength again.   Don't be one of those cowards who is too scared to vote for a better Democratic Party -- by voting for the Green Party -- in a non-battleground state.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I see your Charles Blow and raise you Ralph Nader

Blow blew it here with his lecturing, primarily aimed at African American millennials but scattershot at everybody who thinks like me.  So in corresponding piss-value response to everybody that thinks like him (and is sharing it on FB and shit), let's feed him some Nader.

"Sanders hasn’t returned a call from me in 18 years. He is a lone ranger. He doesn’t like to be pushed into more progressive action than he is willing to adhere to. As a result, millions of his voters now are in disarray. They don’t know where to go. They’re cynical. Some will go Democrat. Some will support Libertarian, Green. Some will stay home. And so this huge, wonderful effort that he launched is now aborted. It’s dissipating."

If Sanders doesn't like being pushed to the left, then why would he dare try to push his caucus to the right?  This is the entire premise set forth over a year ago, when he was rumored to be 'exploring' a run for president.  That it would end with him sheepdogging progressives onto the Clinton bandwagon.  We all saw this coming.  We hoped for something different, but no.

"And the idea of calling a third party 'spoiler,' using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people, because everyone has an equal right to run for office. Everyone is going to get votes from one another. So they’re either spoilers of one another or none of them are spoilers.


"Well, it’s wrong from a First Amendment point of view, first of all. You should never tell anybody to shut up. And when you run for office, it’s free speech, petition and assembly. It’s the consummate use of the First Amendment. But here—it’s a scapegoating. The Democrats could never get over how they couldn’t beat this bumbling governor from Texas, who couldn’t put a paragraph together and has a horrible record—children and women and pollution, etc., policy, right?"

AMY GOODMAN: "You’re talking about George W. Bush."

RALPH NADER: "George W. Bush. So they scapegoat the Greens. So here’s how it goes: 300,000 registered Democrats in 2000 in Florida voted for Bush—blame the Greens. Thousands of people were misidentified as ex-felons by Katherine Harris, the secretary of state for Jeb Bush, governor of Florida—blame the Greens. The butterfly ballot, which was very deceptive and got people to vote for exactly the opposite candidate in South Florida—blame the Greens. Scalia’s political 5-4 decision, which blocked the Florida Supreme Court’s full recount in Florida—blame the Greens. The Electoral College took the victory in the popular vote from Gore—blame the Greens. Gore loses his Tennessee state, where he represented in Congress for years—blame the Greens. It’s total scapegoating. It’s disgusting that extremely smart people, who happen to be Democratic Party apparatchiks, like Howard Dean, who’s now in a corporate firm that lobbies for the healthcare and drug industry, by the way, and never identified as such by The New York Times and others who quote him—he is now reviving this 2000 nonsense."

Two things seem real easy to understand to me: Hillary Clinton is Jeb Bush, with Poppy and all of W's neocons on board.  And if Trump still manages to win, it's Clinton's fault exclusively for being a bad candidate running an even worse campaign.

The more people like Blow (and Charles Pierce) want to play hardball with a candidate drawing 3%, the harder the ball is going to get.  It might come to a head next Monday night in upstate New York.

These fucking Jackasses are wearing. me. out.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

UH releases poll with 10-point Clinton lead in Harris County

If you recall, I made fun of the lady at the beauty shop over a week ago for advancing this exact rumor.  So she gets to feed me some crow.

Poll results released today by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs show that Hillary Clinton has a 10-point lead over Donald Trump among registered voters in Harris County, the largest county in Texas and third largest in the nation. Clinton leads Trump 42 percent to 32 percent, with nine percent supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, two percent backing the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and 15 percent undecided.

If the numbers hold, it would represent the widest margin of victory for a Democratic presidential nominee in Harris County since 1964, the year Lyndon B. Johnson was elected president. He received 59.5 percent of the Harris County vote.

Clinton’s lead narrows to only four points, 43 percent to 39 percent, among voters who say they are extremely likely to cast a ballot this November.

The "extremely likely" screen, with the four-point lead, is probably the closest to accurate, FWIW.  Even if ten is the margin, I simply don't think it can hold all the way to Election Day, but it's more than enough to give blue partisan hopes a big boost.

The rest of the poll's results, however, won't (bold is mine).

The UH Hobby School poll finds no evidence of national Republican concern that Trump’s unpopularity within the party will negatively effect down ballot races. In the race for Harris County District Attorney, among the voters extremely likely to cast a ballot this fall, incumbent Republican Devon Anderson narrowly bested Democrat Kim Ogg, 30 percent to 29 percent, while incumbent Republican Ron Hickman led Democrat Ed Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent in the contest for sheriff. A plurality of voters is unsure about their preference for district attorney (47 percent) and sheriff (36 percent).

A year ago during the mayor's race, UH returned a similarly strange polling result:  Sylvester Turner with a ten-point lead, Bill King and Adrian Garcia tied for second, Chris Bell a close fourth, and a massive quantity of undecideds.  The November general election results were wildly different, with Turner 32%, King 25, Garcia 17, Ben Hall 9, and Bell 7.

I pooh-poohed their poll then, and I'm pooh-pooh-ing these two county results now.

Update II (9/23): Charles says I'm confusing my Cougar polls here.  Fair enough; I sit corrected.  I still pooh on both.

For one thing, that's an enormous number of GOP split tickets.  Even with the high unsure/undecideds, something appears to be very off if Hickman is leading Gonzalez by six while Clinton leads Trump by ten.  I would have expected the opposite in the sheriff's race to be true, in fact, irrespective of the presidential.

This is a data point, but an awfully strange one.

Update (9/23): The mighty Kuffner has weighed in, and disapproves of the poll to some greater degree than I do.   No issues with his take.  But I thought about these numbers awhile overnight, and did some back-of-the-envelope math: if 100% of the Harris County electorate represents 1,000,000 voters (Charles will probably have a guess at turnout later and it will be higher than this; my number is extremely conservative) then by virtue of UH's poll, Clinton is ahead of Trump by 100,000 votes, and Ron Hickman leads Ed Gonzalez in the race for sheriff by 60K.

This doesn't seem plausible in a sampling that is 50% D, 45% R, and 5% I (page 5).  It would suggest there is a very large number of Democrats in Harris County -- joined by Republicans, for that matter --  who would be splitting their tickets Clinton and Hickman.  (Significantly less so Clinton and Anderson in the DA's race; everybody understands that one will be very close all the way to Election Night).

Could there really be tens of thousands of blue and red partisans in the county voting Hillary for president and Ron Hickman for sheriff?  I'm just not buying that.

The Swarming of the Jackasses

'Stampede' perhaps better?

These donkeys were braying everywhere you looked earlier this week.  I tend, after having refuted so much of it this year, to see this ad hominem as inflicting a similar amount of damage to that of a swarm of midges.  There has been some pushback, and now that Clinton has stabilized -- still ahead in the polling, and by more than slightly going into the weekend and next Monday's debate -- maybe these nervous, frightened, antagonistic mules can calm back down again.

The Libertarians get the same treatment from Republicans, but that seems like small consolation compared to these Shillbots and their incessant whining and use of trope and myth as substitutes for logic.  Whaddaya gonna do, though?  Punch them in their (deserved) faces?  We're supposed to be the pacifists, after all.  (I'm sort of a militant peacenik, personally.  You know, "peace in our time or I'll kill you muddahfackas".)

As if their incompetence needed further public demonstration, both camps trotted out their managers to show off to the media their unique ability to duck questions.  It was exquisite failure.  Here, for example, is some analysis of the Syrian catastrophe Robby Mook didn't want to talk about.

Still on track for 'worst election ever', and certainly the worst set of debates ever.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Scattershooting fear, Gary Johnson, and more blog updates

-- My Nextdoor (neighborhood social forum) is filled lately with posts about crime: burgled homes, gunshots, suspicious people driving or walking the 'hood.  It seems as if my neighbors are crapping their pants about everything, even packs of stray dogs roaming the streets.  Put this together with the weekend bombing in New York and the discovery of another pressure cooker bomb in New Jersey, Trump's ratcheted-up fascist rhetoric, the continuing escalation of war in Syria despite "cease-fire" agreements, repetitive micro-aggressions between the US and North Korea and China and Russia, the queasiness reflected by a lot of my old Democratic friends about Hillary's gaffes, prevarications, and stumbles that have squandered her polling lead, and I believe we're about one actual terrorist attack away from President Donald Trump in an eruption of panic by the electorate.

Buck up, Americans.  This is supposed to be the home of the brave.  Start acting like it.

And please stop with the updates on Rick Perry and the Dancing With The Stars and the indignant outrage directed at football players who aren't standing for the national anthem, or holding up their fists instead of putting their hands over the hearts.  Let's focus more on the things that matter and less on the ones that don't.

-- You may have noticed that the blogroll in the right-hand column is back to "latest posts".  And Blogger is canceling the "Slideshow", top right, so I'll see if there's something I can come up with that will appear shortly in that space.

-- The news lately has exposed, in embarrassing detail, the Libertarian presidential candidate as an intellectual lightweight.  It began with "What is Aleppo" last week, and continued Sunday night on 60 Minutes.  The man just looks to me as if he has smoked too much pot over the course of his life.

Position-wise, the Libs get it right on a few things: decriminalizing weed and normalizing work visas, for example.  But Johnson's stand on other issues is an exercise in Trump-Lite.

  • He supports TPP.
  • He supports fracking.
  • He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
  • He thinks Citizens United is great.
  • He doesn't want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
  • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
  • He opposes net neutrality.
  • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he's open to privatization.
  • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
  • He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
  • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
  • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • He opposes any government action to address climate change.
  • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
  • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
  • He wants to remove the Fed's mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
  • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
  • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

Johnson got the full Mediaite snark for his appearance yesterday morning on CNN.  He's previously -- as in 2000, before the election that year -- had a good laugh with W. Bush about how ignorant both men are.

Since protest votes seem lately to be the preferred cudgel Democrats are using to beat those who aren't on the Hillary bandwagon, let's be certain your progressive friends aren't making this mistake.  Here's the whole 60 Minutes enchilada, video and transcript.  Greens are on when, CBS?

-- It is a surprise, as Kuff has noted, that the Chronic endorsed Ann Harris Bennett for tax assessor/collector on the basis of incumbent Mike Sullivan's epic fail on voter registration.  I had previously commented that it wasn't likely to happen, but if newspaper endorsements still mean anything, this one should.  This is the local race to watch on Election Night (Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzalez should win, Jenifer Pool ought to in a just world), as it will likely be construed by talking heads as a harbinger of the length of Hillary Clinton's coattails, the GOTV effort of the Harris County Dems and Repubs, and other morning-after armchair-quarterbacking like that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Democratic statewide judicial slate is a farce

Last week in this post I gave my old buddy Kuff a bad time about his unforced error linking to the wrong Betsy Johnson, the one who isn't running as the Democratic nominee for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5.  This week the Dallas Morning News editorial board -- perhaps in payback to the GOP for endorsing Hillary Clinton -- exposed nearly the entire D statewide judicial slate as a joke.  First, their kudos for the Republican in Place 5, Scott Walker (no, not that one).

To our readers who have a natural inclination to generally favor Democratic candidates, please give these next few sentences great heed. A vote for Betsy Johnson, of San Antonio, who may or may not be earning a livelihood as a lawyer these days, strikes us as reckless.

She doesn't return our phone calls nor respond to requests to fill out a candidate questionnaire or attend an interview. She was removed from the Bexar County appointed attorney list by the criminal district court judges in June 2011 after multiple cases of refusing to represent defendants who declined to plead guilty.

Not only can we find no shred of evidence that she's qualified for this job, reports from the Bexar courthouse indicate her conduct was boorish and unrestrained.

This person is on the ballot for a single reason: to try to deny the Green Party a 5% capture and knock the party and all of its candidates off the ballot beginning in 2018.  Vote for Judith Sanders Castro if for no other reason than the worst of the duopoly in Texas badly needs the competition.  (With very little in the way of online presence herself, you might be reminded that she long ago paid a political price for fighting for Latin@ voting rights and the environment.)

The DMN similarly trashed the CCA Place 2 incumbent, Lawrence Meyers, who as it turns out is more of a death penalty advocate than Chief Justice Sharon "Killer" Keller.

Meyers, 68, was elected as a Republican but switched parties in 2013 for a failed run at the Texas Supreme Court, the state's highest for non-criminal cases. He remains the only Democrat in statewide office.

He since has formed something of a faction with conservative Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. Interestingly, while the appeals court granted an unusual eight stays of execution in 2015, Meyers, the court's lone Democrat, dissented on half.

This year, he was the only dissent to a stay for Robert Roberson III, whose attorneys argued that his conviction was based on "junk science" and false testimony. Meyers also unsuccessfully opposed the recent stay for Jeff Wood, sentenced to death despite not being the gunman in a 1996 convenience store killing in Kerrville.

In 2012, Meyers refused to pay a speeding ticket until an Austin municipal judge issued an arrest warrant. Last month, Meyers and some neighbors in Fort Worth tried to bar TCU students from parking near their homes with fake "no parking" signs until the city took them down.

Another race where sensible Democrats -- even those who have been scared into voting for Hillary Clinton just recently -- should be splitting their tickets.  (If you like your judges flamboyant in the Texas style, then the Green, Adam "Bulletproof" King Blackwell Reposa, is your man.)

Finally, the Democratic challenger for TXCCA Place 6 earns plaudits for being a good judge but demerits for being a truthfully lame political candidate.

Count Democrat Robert Burns among the critics who contend that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is too reflexively tough on crime. The question then is whether Burns should replace Place 6 incumbent Republican Michael Keasler.

This newspaper says no. This is not an easy call, since Burns, 52, is a strong Dallas County trial judge, by reputation and by Dallas Bar Association ratings. He runs an efficient court, and his rulings are well-reasoned.

Our problem is that his run seems half-hearted. He isn't raising campaign money, he expects to spend less than $1,000 for a statewide office, and he tells us he expects to lose.

That hardly makes a case to oust a judge with a background and resume' like Keasler's. If he won re-election, Keasler, 73, would reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 during the next six-year term; by law, he could serve only four years. Gov. Greg Abbott would appoint his replacement for the final two years on Texas' top appeals court for criminal cases.

He clearly has moved toward a more reasonable position, indicative of a judge who weighs the law more than ideology in reaching decisions.

In May 2012, for instance, Keasler shot down arguments from Abbott's AG office and wrote that death row inmate Hank Skinner should be allowed to have DNA evidence from the crime scene tested. "You really ought to be absolutely sure before you strap a person down and kill him," Keasler said.

I don't believe that Greg Abbott is capable of picking a qualified, dispassionate, unbiased jurist as Keasler has been -- by the DMN's account -- four years from now, and there's no Green in this race, so I'll be voting for the "indifferent Democrat" on the off chance that he can get lucky, overcome his own negativity, and that Hillary Clinton can find and reattach her downballot coattails.  (But if you're inclined to go Libertarian, Mark Bennett is IMHO a good enough choice.  He writes a great blog.)

Better luck securing candidates in two years, Democrats.