Saturday, October 10, 2015

Your headlines as the Longhorns prepare to be butchered, packed, and shipped back to Oklahoma

I'm so old I can remember when OU-Texas was something to look forward to.  Now they're ready to lynch tar and feather fire Charlie Strong in Austin, even as Jeff Davis sulks in a crate somewhere.  Just remember: when Red ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

That's what they call progress in Austin.  Where even the Democrats speculate in real estate, drive up the cost of living, and exercise fiscal austerity during the legislative session.

-- Hillary Clinton lost ten polling points in the past week, four to Bernie Sanders and four to Joe Biden.  The other two went back to the GOP.  This is not a poll you will see bar-graphed on jobsanger.  Still, nothing for her supporters to worry about.  On the bright side, she had a good meeting with the Black Lives Matter activists.

Johnetta Elzie, who focuses on police militarization and violence, attended the meeting. She told Business Insider that while the conversation was frank and productive, Clinton didn't always have direct answers to questions posed by different attendees.

"Hillary is a good listener. But she still has lots of room to grow when it comes to listening to black people actually talk about the issues that are affecting them, vs. how she perceives the issues to affect us," Elzie said.

Really: don't we all (that aren't black, I mean)?  That gets an 'amen' from this atheist.

-- Donald Trump is secretly looking for a way out of the GOP horse race.  But he's probably going to snarl and rant and spend a lot more money before he finds the right reason and takes it.

In unmistakable ways over the last two weeks, whether he has intended to or not, Donald J. Trump has started to articulate a way out of the presidential race: a verbal parachute that makes clear he has contemplated the factors that would cause him to end his bid.

It is a prospect that many in the political establishment have privately considered as the actual voting grows closer.

Go on, read them and see if you're buying. 

While Mr. Trump still leads major national polls and surveys in early voting states, that lead has recently shrunk nationally, and the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed his support eroding in New Hampshire, the first primary state. His recent comments have lent credence to the views of political observers who had long believed the perennially self-promoting real estate mogul would ultimately not allow himself to face the risk of losing.

“Even back in the summer, when he was somewhat defying gravity, somewhat defying conventional wisdom, it seemed to me there would be a moment when reality sets in,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican political strategist who is based in California. “He would not leave himself to have his destiny settled by actual voters going to the polls or the caucuses.”

Yes.  He does the firing, not you. 

Stuart Stevens, who was the chief strategist to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, also doubts that Mr. Trump will stay in over the long haul. “Trump’s the only person that pre-spun his exit — it’s rather remarkable,” Mr. Stevens said.

He pointed to one of the issues that has nagged the Trump candidacy from the outset — how much he is willing to spend on the race, particularly if his polling numbers start to sag. “I think we would all say this is a more serious endeavor if he was spending $2 million a week out of his own pocket, and I think it’s another sign that he’s not in this to win,” Mr. Stevens said.

No.  It's not about the money and never has been.  It's about Trump's ego.  If he can get someone else elected, that's what he'll do and enjoy it just as much as if it was him getting sworn in.  "The Apprentice", starring Ted Cruz as the President of the United States.

Stuart Stevens: I have HBO, I've watched 'Game Change', and sir, you're no Woody Harrelson in a fat suit Steve Schmidt.  Get out of politics and go back to writing travel books.

That's all the conservative BS I can stand for the weekend.  Now I'm going to enjoy the rest of the Indian summer weather we're having.  Please do the same.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Not Trump and Carson but Rubio and Cruz

Maybe you had not noticed, but the real black neurosurgeon who has been performing a frontal lobotomy on himself all week has drowned out The Donald's rants.  And even the Democrats have gotten more chatter because of their upcoming debate.  Be sure and remind Debbie Wasserman Schultz again about that.

I've worked to limit the outrage and/or snark about stupid things Republicans say every single day (Juanita Jean's always there for you) not because it's so much fun but because it's so time-consuming trying to keep up.  There's not much blogged here about what Stephen Colbert or Trevor Noah or Larry Wilmore say each night because Egberto's on that beat.  The Speaker's race is indeed a hilarious clusterfuck, but in the grand scheme of the local election we have coming up and then the presidential one next year, not all that B a FD to me.  And as you know by now, campaign finance reports and teevee commercials are best left to the geeks, wonks, and consultants who thrive on that.

So with three Hillary Clinton posts this week, and traffic sagging until I returned to the municipal elections yesterday (and with traffic back through the roof), I want to get in a few elbows on the GOP presidential field.

On Labor Day weekend at the AFL-CIO barbecue in Pasadena, somebody asked me if Scott Walker still had a chance to be the nominee.  I told her it was at least possible he could regroup, blow some Koch up his nose and reignite.  Go back and look at the September archives to see that he was carried out feet first two weeks later.  Since then all the rage among conservative pundits and prophets has gone from "who's next to quit" to "ZOMG is it really going to be Trump or Carson".

I'm gonna say that if either one of those two winds up being the Republican nominee, even a ticket of Lawrence Lessig and Jim Webb could beat that.  Like a red-headed stepchild.

So with the tenuous assumption that Republicans are smarter than this -- that's why they're so rich, of course -- somebody else is going to be at the top of the heap when the walls fall and the guns are silenced.  My take today is that it will be either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, and here's why.

By process of elimination, it won't be Bobby Jindal or Lindsey Graham or Chris Christie or George Pataki or James Gilmore or Rick Santorum or Rand Paul.  Mullah Huckabee still has the longest of realistic shots thanks to Kim Davis, but he's being eclipsed on the strength of his own foibles.  Picking a fight with a bag of chips is a dead-ender.

That leaves Jeb!, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and Ted and Marco.  You could scramble these five every possible way except with Bush and Rubio together (two candidates from the same state can run together but it gets problematic in the Electoral College, so discount the possibility of a pair of Floridians to zero), and you'd have a decent enough Republican duo to be a threat to Clinton-Castro or Sanders-Warren.  Since we're dreaming, after all.

But for the purpose of this exercise, let me veer away from my previously stated prediction of the top two and make it Kasich-Rubio (I've suggested previously -- scroll to the bottom -- that Kasich-Condoleeza Rice might just be too tough for the Democrats to beat, and I still believe that).  Rubio would be better as a VP than Rice not because of his Latino appeal but because of his evangelical cross-breeding.  Condi claims to be a libertarian on choice, and that damages her with the brand in this cycle.  The Bible-thumpers love Ted too, of course, and here's where you should disregard the rain-making reporting; Cruz doubled up Rubio in money in the third quarter.  Cruz excites the TeaBagger base with outbursts like "hate slaw!", but he's alienated too many inside players.  He's not going to settle for second place, either.  Ever the gladiator, he will affect the presidential process just like he does the Speaker's race, but in the end he'll content himself with going back to the Senate and taking another shot at Hillary in 2020.  He needs to mend some fences, make a few friends in the process.

If I'm wrong, though, and Cruz is at the top of the ticket, Clinton beats him like a drum.  Even Bernie Sanders beats Ted Cruz, and it wouldn't be all that close.

It goes without blogging but I'll write it anyway: Bush and Fiorina don't have the wherewithal to get it done this time.  Both have a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, and Bush has a peculiar "finger-in-the-air" ailment.  Four years ago the GOP exhausted all the certifiably insane options -- Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Santorum -- before settling back on Mitt Romney.  Bush isn't going to be that lucky, no matter how many favors he thinks he can call in.  The base simply will not allow that to happen again.

Kasich (Ohio) and Rubio (Florida) are both from swing states the GOP has to have to win.  Cruz and Fiorina don't help enough electorally.  Condi, like Carly, is also from Cali; that's a non-starter for one but not the other.  Rice is a DC insider/gravitas pick as much as she checks off the right demographic boxes.  And like Dick Cheney, nobody really knows where she came from (born in Alabama, raised in Colorado, much of her adult life associated with Stanford University when she wasn't in Washington).  But I think, again, that she's not extreme enough for the bottom of the ticket when they tap a so-called moderate for president.

Rubio is Tea Party without the tricorn hat.  He's said enough crazy things -- climate change, border walls, etc. -- to earn some street cred.  Ultimately he's just less sour than Cruz, and when it comes to coconuts, that's important.

So the ticket will be some combo of "moderate" and rabid dog, with the assumption that Rice cannot be recruited for V-P.  Kasich-Rubio is my story today and we'll see how long it sticks.

Update: I could be just as wrong as either Ted or Donald.  Or both.  We shall see.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

New mayoral poll same as the old one; HERO is winning

The poll finds Adrian Garcia and Sylvester Turner tied for the lead, with a second tier of closely-clustered candidates, including Chris Bell, Bill King and Stephen Costello. Digging deeper into the numbers yields more insight about those candidates with stronger name identification and favorable ratings, along with those candidates whom the voter would even consider supporting. Complete polling results may be found at

Specifically, the Houston Association of Realtors commissioned a DC firm named American Strategies for this poll conducted over three days in the fourth week of September.  It found Turner and Garcia tied with 19%, then Bell and King at 10%, then Costello at 9%, and then Ben Hall with 6%, Marty McVey 1%, and the rest at statistically nothing.  "Undecided" actually won with 25%.  In late June, it was Turner 16, Garcia 12, Bell 8, Hall and King 3, Costello 2, and poor McVey stuck at 1%.  So everybody except McVey has moved a few undecideds into their column (that figure was 53% in the old survey).  Charles has your deep dive; I'll add these impressions.

-- The Republicans in the race strengthened the most over the summer, but still don't appear to be a threat for the runoff.  That is, if you don't consider Adrian Garcia a Republican, which I do.  He is certainly the most conservative Democrat running, and he has significant conservative financial backing.  Most importantly, he's not being scuffed by his terrible record as Harris County sheriff.  Of all the data here, that's the point I most disbelieve.  But hey, if I'm wrong and his incompetence doesn't catch up to him by Election Night, I'll own it.

-- Correspondingly, if it turns out to be Turner and Garcia in the runoff, that should be a pretty easy choice for us lefties in December.  I'm still going to vote for the most progressive candidate in the general, and that's Bell.

-- Undecideds appear to be mostly white conservative women.  Who gets the most help if and when they do decide -- King or Costello?  I suppose the teevee ads they run will get refocused (fewer football and baseball games and more Fox and Friends).

-- HERO stands at 52% in favor.  That is, in a word, awesome.  The haters muster just 37%, and only 10% are undecided.  That lede is essentially buried in both the HAR press release and the Chronicle article, and the newspaper, in its otherwise-tired fundraising analysis, notes that HERO supporters have doubled the money of Hotze and ilk.  More and better on this topic, as usual, from Kuff.

Grand Old Professor Mark Jones is always available to piss on the parade.

... Rice University political scientist Mark Jones cautioned that the poll does not account for non-traditional city voters who may show up at the polls this year to vote on the ordinance, known as HERO.

It also likely under-represents support for Turner, Hall and potentially Garcia, Jones said, as it surveyed lower percentages of African American and Hispanic voters than are expected to turn out in November, given that there are two black candidates and one Hispanic candidate in the top-tier.
Sixty two percent of respondents identified as white, 20 percent as black, 10 percent as Hispanic and 2 percent as Asian.

"This survey would appear to be underestimating African American turnout by at least 10 percent and perhaps a little more," Jones said.

"If there are people who are being driven to turnout by the HERO ordinance or by Adrian Garcia's mobilization of the Hispanic community, they would not be represented," he added.

I cannot wait to see if this conservative jackass is right or wrong.

Updates: Via Mike McGruff, the top seven mayoral candidates will debate on teevee on Friday, October 16 -- that's the weekend before early voting begins the following Monday --  to be telecast by KPRC and Telemundo.  That debate is also sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Houston Baptist University's law school.  Get tickets to the event or live-streaming info and more at the link.

And a second mayoral poll came out today, sponsored by the conservative Houston Realty Business Coalition (they've endorsed Bill King) and it shows...

  • Sylvester Turner with 24%
  • Bill King with 18 (LOL)
  • Garcia with 14
  • Bell with 11
  • Costello and Hall with 8
  • three percent unsure, four percent someone else.

And as you might have guessed, it also thinks HERO is losing, 31-40 with 13% undecided and 16% declining to answer.

"We're still not sure what the electorate will look like, so polling the electorate has been a little dicey," University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said.


Rottinghaus said HRBC's poll likely over-represents younger and Republican voters, while under-representing African-Americans. "That's probably why you see King doing better in this poll, because Republicans tend to be more heavily represented."

In other words, it's garbage.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Clinton comes out against the TPP and against Glass-Steagall

Somewhat equivocal, but we expected that.

"As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about (the Pacific Rim trade pact). I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set."

We'll get to Val's bar in a minute.

Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t support reinstating a Depression-era banking law that separated commercial and investment banks because her forthcoming proposal for U.S. financial reform is “more comprehensive.”

Two items, same note: 'I can do better'.  Let's see about that.  First, on the trade bill she formerly supported...

Clinton explained her skepticism by mentioning two of the most common objections to the deal among left-leaning critics: that it's too favorable to pharmaceutical companies, and that it doesn't include language prohibiting other countries from manipulating their currencies to gain a trade advantage.

Thanks, Bernie!

The lack of currency manipulation language is a key concern of the labor movement, whose support could be crucial in next year's Democratic primary elections. Meanwhile, public health groups have raised concerns about language in the TPP that could raise the cost of medicines worldwide.

Obama faces a tough vote on the trade deal next year, and Clinton's comments won't help. They will give political cover to wavering congressional Democrats who want to help Obama but are also feeling grassroots pressure from labor unions and other liberal groups.

Clinton's comments also represent something of a flip-flop. During her time as Obama's secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013, Clinton repeatedly promoted the trade deal. While the final text is different from versions being considered when she was in office, neither of the concerns she's raising today — about benefits to pharmaceutical companies and the lack of language on currency manipulation — have changed since then.

More from HuffPo, and the following from the BBC.

(Sanders) was likely to bring the topic up during the debate and use it against the former Secretary of State, who once called the agreement the "gold standard" for trade negotiations.

By backing away from the TPP, Mrs. Clinton could also be anticipating the arrival of another, more formidable opponent for the Democratic nomination: Joe Biden.

The vice president has made increasingly clear moves toward a presidential bid, and given his current job it would be extremely difficult for him to oppose a key piece of his boss's presidential legacy.

Mr. Biden's campaign would be likely to rely heavily on working-class, union support -- a segment of the Democratic electorate that is firmly opposed to new trade deals. Mrs. Clinton could be digging her trenches now, before the battle commences.

Pretty much a pure political move, designed to appeal to the interests of and/or avoid the criticism of those who would rather be voting for her challengers.  Savvy and craven, a Clinton hallmark.

On Glass-Steagall, the post-Depression law that got banks out of the investment business, created the FDIC, and which was repealed in 1999 by her husband, leading ultimately to the Second Great Depression of 2008...

Who supports it? Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — two of Clinton’s challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination — as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who along with Arizona Sen. John McCain, reintroduced legislation to revive Glass-Steagall this year.

“Despite the progress we’ve made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten our economy,” Warren said in a statement introducing the legislation. “The biggest banks are collectively much larger than they were before the crisis, and they continue to engage in dangerous practices that could once again crash our economy.”

Both Sanders and O’Malley have hit Clinton for her close ties to Wall Street.

“Her closeness with big banks on Wall Street is sincere,” O’Malley said in July. “It’s heartfelt, long established and well known.”

Why doesn’t Hillary? “The big banks are not the only thing we have to worry about,” Clinton said in Iowa Tuesday. “I’ve studied this real closely, and what I am proposing is we go after the risk, and if they are too big to manage, that is a risk and they should not continue. If they are so big that they are causing disruptions on the marketplace, that’s a risk.”

Clinton continued, “If you only reinstate Glass-Steagall, you don’t go after all these other institutions in what is called the shadow banking system — hedge funds and other financial entities that have too much power in our economy. I have what I consider to be a more comprehensive approach to what we need to do to rein in these institutions, including the big banks.”
The Democratic frontrunner also took a swipe at her rivals, like O’Malley, who are seeking to tie her to her husband’s repeal of Glass-Steagall.
“I’m going to go after what I think are the real problems, not the problems on the past,” Clinton said, “because what I’m interested in is stopping something like this from happening again.”

Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall has bipartisan Senate support, as the bill sponsors Warren and McCain would indicate.  The House is probably a different story.  If a Madam President thinks she can get a more rigorous financial regulation bill through the Congress a year and a half from now -- especially with a Democratic Senate led by Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) -- then the next policy announcement we will hear is that Mrs. Clinton supports full legalization of marijuana, because she's high.

Other than the obvious pandering, we seem to have her moving in the left direction.  Which is, again, the most I believe we could hope for.

Scattershooting more of Hillary's email

Lest anyone think I am a convert from yesterday's post, here's more headlines the front-runner (Clearly! Just ask Ted!) doesn't want to see...

Drip: "Second IT firm agrees to give FBI Clinton server data"

Hillary Clinton hired a Connecticut company to back up her emails on a “cloud” storage system, and her lawyers have agreed to turn whatever it contains over to the FBI, a personal familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

The disclosure came as a Republican Senate committee chairman, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, also asked the firm to turn over to the committee copies of any Clinton emails still in its possession.

There were conflicting accounts as to whether the development could lead to recovery of any of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails, which she said she deleted from her private server upon turning over her work-related emails to the State Department, at its request, in December 2014.


The controversy seems sure to come up on Oct. 22, when Clinton is scheduled to testify to a House committee investigating the fatal 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. It was the panel’s chairman who first declared last March that she had “wiped” her server clean based on a letter from Clinton’s attorney.

For chronological perspective, that hearing will be the week after next week's Democratic contenders' debate, and we'll be a few days into early voting here in Houston for the mayor's and city council races.

Drip: "Hillary's #2 at State twice forwarded now-classified email to Clinton Foundation"

According to a new email chain shared with POLITICO by Citizens United, Cheryl Mills — Clinton's former chief of state at State — forwarded State Department background information about Rwanda and the Congo to the Clintons' philanthropic organization. Citizens United, a conservative activist group, obtained the messages via a Freedom of Information act lawsuit.

Former President Bill Clinton was visiting Africa, including Rwanda, around the time that Mills sent the email, which was mostly redacted. Former president Clinton was also considering giving Rwandan President Paul Kagame a plenary role at the Clinton Global Initiative, according to the emails.

If you still need to understand why this is something and not nothing...

Meanwhile, the FBI is currently investigating whether classified information was ever mishandled via Hillary Clinton's private email server. For months, Clinton maintained that she did not have classified information on her homemade email server, until government watchdogs unveiled that she did. After those reports, the campaign maintained that Clinton had not received messages that were "marked" classified at the time.

The State Department has agreed with that assessment, but the intelligence community inspector general does not and has argued many of the emails were indeed classified at the time in 2012.

Beyond the classification issue, Republicans and other transparency groups have questioned whether the foundation’s work, funded in part by foreign donors, ever influenced what happened at the State Department. Or if the foundation received preferential treatment.

Mills sat on the foundation’s board before becoming the department’s No. 2 official and returned to the board after leaving State in 2013. And she appeared to continue to advise the foundation while at State, according to other emails revealed by the Citizens United lawsuit. Republicans say those connections between Mills and the Clinton Foundation raise questions about whether the relationship was too close. 

Bold emphasis in the excerpt is mine.  Mishandling and/or willfully disclosing classified data is a federal crime, under various statutes.  Just ask David Petraeus.  Or Chelsea Manning.  Or Edward Snowden.

Drip: "Employees at company working with Clinton email server expressed concerns"

(T)his past August, a Platte River Networks employee wrote to a coworker that he was, "Starting to think this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy (sic) s**t."

"I just think if we have it in writing that they told us to cut the backups, and that we can go public with our statement saying we have backups since day one, then we were told to trim to 30days (sic), it would make us look a WHOLE LOT better," the unnamed employee continued.

The email was sent shortly after news emerged that the FBI was looking into the security of the server, and several months after it was revealed that Clinton exclusively used the private account to conduct State Department business.

Now Clinton has to be concerned about whether one of these IT people rats her out to the FBI in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Not to worry, Hillaryians: Bernie Sanders' campaign has a fatal flaw, and it's the candidate himself; he simply has too much integrity to win the White House.

“Bernie Sanders’s failure to become a member of either major political party excludes him from the network of cronyism and backroom deals required under our system to be elected,” said Davis Logsdon, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. “Though that failure alone would disqualify Sanders, the fact that he is not beholden to a major corporate interest or investment bank would also make him ineligible.”

Because of his ineligibility, Logsdon said, the Vermont senator would be unable to fund-raise the one billion dollars required under the current system to run for president. “The best source of a billion dollars is billionaires, and Sanders has alienated them,” he said. “Clearly he didn’t think this through.”

Logsdon said that Sanders might persist in his quest for the White House despite his ineligibility but that such an effort would be doomed to fail. “Our political system has been refined over the years specifically to keep people like Bernie Sanders out of the White House,” he said.

“The system works.”

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Clinton machine finally rumbles to life

She's had a few good days, maybe she can string together a few more before the debate next week.  First: Saturday Night Live, Val the bartender, and her imitation of Trump.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's starring role on the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live," as usual, comes down to the same old question: Did she do herself any favors? "I've had a hard couple of 22 years," her double, Kate McKinnon, told the real-life presidential candidate. A hard couple of 22 months as well.

What was unique about Clinton's role on "SNL" was in fact that it was a role: Val, the bartender. Usually the idea is just to play a funnier, nicer, more human and more ironic version of one's self.

If at all possible.

Coming from an incorrigible Clinton non-supporter, she managed it.

She, or Val, even tried impersonating Donald Trump, and it's fair to say most viewers had seen or heard better.... But that didn't mean the skit didn't work for Clinton. It actually did because it broke down a standard go-to joke, of having the politician come face to face with their alternate-universe "SNL" version. That's almost always guaranteed a quick laugh. Not much else. Recall Tina Fey and Sarah Palin, or Amy Poehler and Clinton.

And turning the joke however very gently back on Clinton -- as someone late to her convictions on issues such as gay marriage or even the Keystone XL pipeline -- didn't hurt her, either.

Viewers got to see Clinton laugh, too. They don't see that often either. There hasn't been a lot to laugh about. "I wish you could be president," said the Hillary-McKinnon character. "Me too," said Hillary-Val the bartender.

Critics will argue that Clinton got a free campaign commercial (they won't be wrong). Or that she diminished her stature as a serious candidate (wrong -- many politicians eventually find their way to Studio 8H, including President Barack Obama in 2012).

"Millennial pandering" was the rap she got recently from a Salon Daily Beast columnist for doing an interview with Lena Dunham and her "Lennyletter" newsletter. (But don't all politicians pander?) She even introduced Miley Cyrus -- who was on her best behavior Saturday for the occasion -- for the show's first musical performance.

OK, pandering.

This is really all we've come to expect from our politicians.  Contrast her performance with one Bernie Sanders might make on the show in the near future.  Maybe he can be funnier, or more warm, and compared to his gruff Brooklynite demeanor, it would be hilarious.  We'll have to wait and see.

More importantly, the prohibitive favorite to replace John Boehner gave her a gift and she's using it to full advantage.

Hil­lary Clin­ton doesn’t want voters to for­get that a top Cap­it­ol Hill Re­pub­lic­an last week cred­ited the House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Benghazi with hurt­ing her pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign is launch­ing a new na­tion­al cable TV ad that high­lights the re­cent com­ments by House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy—re­marks that Demo­crats call proof that the GOP-led pan­el is de­signed as a polit­ic­al weapon against her.

“The Re­pub­lic­ans fi­nally ad­mit it,” states the nar­rat­or of the ad that will be­gin air­ing Tues­day. It then shows the re­marks last week by Mc­Carthy, who is seek­ing to be­come the next speak­er of the House.

“Every­body thought Hil­lary Clin­ton was un­beat­able, right? But we put to­geth­er a Benghazi spe­cial com­mit­tee,” Mc­Carthy said on Fox News late Tues­day night. “What are her num­bers today?”

The ad’s nar­rat­or then states: “The Re­pub­lic­ans have spent mil­lions at­tack­ing Hil­lary be­cause she’s fight­ing for everything they op­pose. From af­ford­able health care to equal pay, she’ll nev­er stop fight­ing for you, and the Re­pub­lic­ans know it.”

McCarthy may have shit the bed in more places than one.

The re­marks, which were badly out of step with long-stand­ing GOP claims that the com­mit­tee is not polit­ic­al, irked Re­pub­lic­ans in­clud­ing Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz, who is mount­ing an up­hill can­did­acy against Mc­Carthy for the speak­er’s gavel.

Rarely does a political opponent hand you such a large cudgel to beat them with.   But these are House Republicans, after all.  The best and brightest among them just aren't as smart as a fifth grader.

Then there's next Tuesday's debate, which won't have Joe Biden as part of it.  That is, as someone once said, a BFD.  Biden would steal the limelight to some degree simply by being there.  If Clinton triumphs in the debate, rumors of his jumping-in might lessen.

All five declared candidates have been invited to participate, but expect three -- Clinton, Sanders, and Martin O'Malley -- to do the most talking.  There's going to be some good cop (Sanders) - bad cop (O'Malley ) beating on the front-runner.  If James Webb, Lawrence Lessig, and Lincoln Chafee don't go after Clinton as well -- no guarantees that Chafee or Lessig won't -- then she might be able to withstand the onslaught from Bernie and Martin a bit better.  Webb is well to her right on nearly every issue, including the Confederate flag, Chafee is a gimmick and Lessig is a one-trick pony.  A very important single trick he has, as even the Houston mayor's race has revealed, but still more sideshow than serious candidate.

I personally will look to see if Clinton goes after Sanders on gun safety.  This could be the thing that turns Sanders' polling south, after his slow, methodical surge upward.  She could be judged the winner of the forum based on this issue alone, almost irrespective of any other one.  The Black Lives Matter incidents and concerns should draw the full scrutiny of each candidate, but I don't see them quite as pivotal at this time; that is, absent a protest during the debate.  This analysis assumes no obvious gaffes by her or anybody else, for that matter.  Update: More from Reverb Press, who reminds me that O'Malley has long touted his record on strict gun laws.

I can almost guarantee gun control will be a prime topic in the first primary debate on October 13. My prediction: O’Malley and Clinton will not hold back on berating Sanders about his relaxed position on gun control throughout his (political) tenure.

Finally, Clinton needs to take a position on the TPP now that it's back in the news.  If she doesn't, she'll pay a price for it.  Expect her to shilly-shally right up to the last minute, then come out against.

That rumbling you heard that started over the weekend wasn't just thunder.  Hillary Clinton's campaign finally seems to be coming together.

Update:  More on everything I wrote and a little more here.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Weekly voting registration deadline/MLB playoffs Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance, thankful for a cool snap, reminds those who wish to vote in next month's elections to register today, not tomorrow, and congratulates the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers for scooching into the MLB playoffs beginning later this week.

Off the Kuff highlights a new poll showing a gap between what the people of Texas believe and what their government stands for.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos, and contributing to Daily Kos, is grateful to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner for revealing his party's false prophets. She is also grateful a Republican presidential candidate's whopper about an abortion that did not happen is exposed.

SocraticGadfly cleans up the climate change trash that Erica Greider at Texas Monthly threw all over the ground.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme has had it with Republicans who treat workers like so much used toilet paper.

Lize Burr at Burnt Orange Report wonders how Texas got into this mess of Medicaid cuts to therapy workers.

The Lewisville Texan Journal expands its print distribution locations.

Both Egberto Willies and Millard Fillmore's Bathtub noted the Texas mother who read in her child's textbook that slavery had been redefined as immigration, and got the publisher to agree to revise it.

The Harris County Green Party endorsed four Democrats in Houston municipal elections, bypassing the only announced Green member who was declared, in At Large 3. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says there's a story about that, but he's not telling it.

Neil at All People Have Value took note of a nebulous campaign slogan posted on a yard sign.  Asking for specifics from our elected officials might be the proper question as we move toward new leadership in Houston at City Hall.

And McBlogger offers a better understanding of the leading GOP candidates' tax plans (as opposed to self-immolation).


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Grits for Breakfast notes that statewide judicial candidates no longer have to get petition signatures from each appellate district.

Andrea Grimes, now writing for the Texas Observer, found herself aghast at the state of Texas' legal argument that denying some children their birth certificates has more to do with the Mexican government than it does the state's.

Carol Morgan says prayers are useless because stuff happens.

Tamara Tabo has some helpful hints for the Gaslamp and other (allegedly) racist nightclubs.

Lone Star Ma went pink in support of Planned Parenthood.

The TSTA Blog warns about bullies.

Eric Berger explains what the discovery of water on Mars means for the future of space exploration.

Zachery Taylor has the Walmart crime report for last month.

And Fascist Dyke Motors paid her kids back for passing along their bug by telling them scary stories about the things inside the walls.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

How much of this should Adrian Garcia get the blame for?

Over the past nine months, the Houston Chronicle has reviewed more than 1,000 disciplinary reports provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Nearly half of those internal affairs investigations from 2010 through May 2015 resulted in discipline against jail staff who often brutalize inmates and attempt to cover up wrongdoing but rarely lose their jobs. Court records show jailers seldom faced criminal charges even in cases where they used excessive force.

"It was like an animal shelter," said Jamarcus Hill, who was jailed in 2013 as a 19-year-old on an auto theft charge. "You do anything - you get punished, you get pepper sprayed. You got to fight for your food, you even have to fight for your shoes."

In June 2009, the Justice Department concluded after its own yearlong investigation that inmates' constitutional protections had been violated by excessive violence and by substandard medical care that led to an "alarming" number of prisoner deaths. The Justice Department has taken no public action since then despite what records show are similar instances of unreported beatings, inmate deaths and medical neglect. Officials provided a letter indicating that the Civil Rights Division has an "ongoing law enforcement proceeding," but provided no specifics.

What policies and procedures -- specifically --  did Garcia put in place to address these atrocities while he was sheriff, from January of 2009 to May of 2015, when, after more than six months of rumor-mongering, he resigned to run for mayor of Houston?

In a recent interview, (Garcia) said that hundreds of disciplinary cases reviewed by the Chronicle resulted from his "commitment to transparency and accountability." He said he put systems in place that addressed Justice Department findings and notes that the average number of annual deaths dropped from about 16 per year from 2001-2006 to roughly 11 during his administration. Still, the jail has become more violent in recent years, with fights, assaults and attacks on staff escalating, the Chronicle's investigation has found, based on the sheriff's own statistics as well as custodial death reports, autopsies, lawsuits and interviews with current and former jail officials, former inmates and attorneys.


In one of his first acts as Harris County sheriff in 2009, Garcia consolidated two separate internal affairs operations -- one that policed the jail and the other that investigated complaints against patrol officers. He formed an Office of Inspector General with a staff of nearly 50. Garcia said he needed to take action to show the Justice Department that his office would address alleged abuses. He also had inherited a "tremendous" backlog of 160 un-investigated complaints that had piled up during the previous administration, he said. The deputies organization supported the move.

The OIG he created had a reputation for conducting thorough investigations.

In one of his final acts as sheriff before resigning to run for mayor, Garcia fired six supervisors, suspended 29 jailers and demoted a major for a neglect case involving a mentally disturbed inmate, Terry Goodwin. Initially jailed for marijuana possession, he was later found incompetent to stand trial.

Yeah, we know all about that.

Garcia said he first learned about the case in 2014 when a whistleblower made it public and an internal investigation began. In a recent interview, Garcia said he was furious after learning of the long-term neglect.

"The framework was there, the system was there to protect the inmates," he said. "Had they followed those policies, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Harris County recently settled a legal claim filed on Goodwin's behalf for $400,000.

Not Garcia's fault, you see.  Bad apples.  And anyway, jails are terrible places made worse by the crazy people who shouldn't even be in jail, but somewhere being treated for their mental illnesses.  But there is of course no money to fix that, and hasn't been since the Reagan years -- the late '60's in California, when he was governor, and then in the '80's when he was president.  (If you want to do a deep dive into deinstitutionalization, here's a timeline and here's the Wiki.)

The Republican sheriff appointed after Garcia resigned isn't, as you could have guessed, helping Garcia's cause.

The effect that poor training and high turnover have had on the jail's workplace culture has been at the center of a debate Adrian Garcia and Ron Hickman -- the man who replaced him as sheriff -- have waged in the media since Garcia resigned in May.

Both believe low pay is an issue. Detention officers' starting pay is $18 per hour, less than any other county worker except entry level clerks. The guards are forced to work mandatory overtime. Jailers need only 92 hours of training, which they must complete within a year.

In one cost-cutting effort as sheriff, Garcia closed the jail's training academy, saying the department wasted too much time and money on wanna-be jailers who flunked out. Instead, Garcia allowed new-hires to complete training online and slashed overtime pay for detention officers from $26 million in 2009 to $4 million in 2015, according to sheriff's records.


The one thing both men agree on is that the jail has far too few resources to deal with mental illness among its inmates. About 2,000 take psychotropic medications, while there are only 200 mental health beds.

So there's this huge disaster down at the HCSO, one Garcia inherited, a mess which he claims to have improved, but that the statistics seem to disagree on.  Just a guess, but the FNG Hickman isn't going to make dramatic strides in improving these problems either.

Does Adrian Garcia deserve a promotion to mayor as the result of his record at the SO?  Houston voters get to decide in a few weeks.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Harris County Greens endorse four Democrats in Houston elections

How's that for outreach?

HCGP Endorses Turner, Peterson, Edwards, McCoy, Proposition 1

At the Harris County Green Party’s September general membership meeting, the members voted to endorse four candidates for local offices and one ballot initiative:

•    Rep. Sylvester Turner for Mayor of Houston
•    Doug Peterson for Houston City Council At Large, Position 3
•    Amanda Edwards, JD, for Houston City Council At Large, Position 4
•    Ann McCoy, PhD, for Houston ISD Board of Trustees, District IV
•    A Yes vote on Proposition 1 to restore the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

The HCGP Green Screen Committee helps members determine whether a candidate’s views and record adhere sufficiently to the Green Movement’s Ten Key Values and makes recommendations to the general membership regarding a candidate’s identity (party affiliation and general ideology), integrity, and electoral viability. Current Green Party members who run for public office already have affirmed their commitment to the Ten Key Values, as membership requires.

HCGP understands that State Representative Turner and municipal finance attorney Amanda Edwards have received contributions from corporate entities. While the Green Party as a whole opposes corporate campaign contributions in principle, these candidates have demonstrated progressive bona fides and are less likely than their major opponents to legislate on behalf of their corporate benefactors. In addition, Edwards has identified herself as the only candidate, among seven for Position 4, who supports Proposition 1.

Doug Peterson, retired NASA communications specialist, has devoted himself to transformation of communities to more livable places through citizen-input projects like "Exploration Green Conservancy".

Dr. McCoy, an educational research specialist in the University of Houston System, is running to represent the southern-central portion of the Houston Independent School District. Longtime trustee Paula Harris has opted not to seek re-election for that seat.

Campaign websites:,,,,

For more information please contact Harris County Green Party Co-Chairs:
David Collins - Bernadine Williams - - (713) 734-0820

So Turner's a good enough pick, and his campaign expressed their delight for the endorsement and asked for the party's logo to put on their supporters page, but I still think that Chris Bell is the most progressive candidate in the race.  Peterson in similar fashion, and because the Greens chose not to endorse the only candidate running under their banner, there might be a story there.  I'm not going to be telling it, however.

Edwards and McCoy make three African Americans out of four on the G-slate, and two women.

This is a good start for the new, younger, more diverse regime for the local Green Party chapter, and something they can build on for the future.  Speaking of that, it looks as if Jill Stein is going to be coming back to Texas -- again -- later this month, about the very same time Hillary Clinton is.  That could be interesting.  And the GP's presidential nominating convention will be also held in Houston next year.  I'll have more details on all these things as they develop.

Update: More from Neil, and don't miss the comments and link from co-chair Collins.