Thursday, August 16, 2018

DNC 2020

There's a (neoliberal) party goin' on right here this morning.

From everything that's been happening recently, I do not get the impression that when Bernie Sanders comes to town to accept the party's nomination two summers from now, he will be wildly greeted by the party's local centrists.

Alex Wukman at Free Press Houston isn't a fan of the city hosting, regurgitating the same tired historical reasons about why Texas isn't a blue state.  Not really a good excuse.

I'd be cool with the Donks coming to town, Bernie or Biden or some other being crowned.  It's an open question as to whether the nationals would credential me as media; you may recall the state party cut those out for blogs this year in Fort Worth.  Ted argued with them until he got one, but I wouldn't have bothered.  It would not stop me from covering the convention.  The problem would be all of the lazy, half-ass, intermittent local and state sycophant bloggers who would suddenly want to fanboi and -girl their way in, squeezing out someone who writes critically of the party.  Like I said, wouldn't stop me from being there and writing about it.

So best of luck to the Chamber of Commerce and I hope all of the Blue Dogs' dreams get dashed.

Update: This list is about the farthest thing from 'definitive' I have ever seen.  Positively hideous.  Cillizza is always this dumb, but Harry Enten has no excuse.

I bet you could name 1-5 in the left column and #6, top right, but can you name #7 without clicking the link?  I could not.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hot Texas takes about Beto, Pelosi, and Stormy's attorney

-- The blue worm is turning for Bob.

Yes, one point.  Yes, kos getting all giddy.  Go ahead and read the replies for a sense of what's happening on the ground, and try to ignore the consultants, wannabe consultants, and associated "Ahmanexpurt" pundificating.

(I'm surprised Kuffner is so slow on this.  Just the other day he said he wasn't buying that the race was close and that he'd need to see a poll with O'Rourke in the lead.  He should eventually resemble some eagerness once he finishes with campaign finance reports, I guess.  I have to say it again: that blog is a shell of its former small-handed, pear-shaped, obsessive-compulsive, number-nerdy self.  Which is to say it is still all of those things, just completely unreadable now.)

Texas Democrats fell in love with Bob early on, and are now so frenzied with Betomania they're about to leave a wet spot on their chairs.  Yes, that is as disgusting as it sounds.

He's rolling out positive TV ads, he's already spending more on Facebook than anyone except Trump, and the debates are coming.  The race will be much closer than I thought just a few weeks ago.

-- Nancy Pelosi is in town again today, with SJL and Congresswoman-in-waiting Sylvia Garcia.

Pelosi and Jackson Lee will participate in an event organized by Jackson Lee called the Mom’s Summit. That event starts at 10 a.m. at the Houston Community College central campus at 1300 Holman Street. Later, Pelosi attends a town hall meeting with Garcia’s campaign that is focused on immigration, gun violence and health care. That event is at 2 p.m. at Talento Bilingue, 333 S. Jensen Drive, Houston.

Keep an eye out for other local Congressional hopefuls who might be in attendance, like Dayna Steele, Mike Seigel, and Sri Preston Kulkarni.  These are the Dems who have presented themselves as progressives, and could be more likely to join the 50 others (including 9 incumbents, list here) who say they will not support Pelosi for Speaker should the Ds take back the House.

On the other hand, expect to see Blue Dogs like Todd Litton and incumbent Al Green.  Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, in avoiding giving John Culberson a cudgel to hit her with, refuses to say whether or not she will support Pelosi; so do Texas Democrats Colin Allred, Adrienne Bell, Gina Ortiz Jones, and MJ HegarSteven David (the sacrificial lamb for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady), who desperately needs some publicity of any kind, ought to show up.

There will be a ton of local candidates, judicials, and perhaps a few statewides as well.  Attendance and the Tweeting of photos can be inferred as endorsements.  "Make of that what you will."

-- Last, Michael Avenatti, better known as Stormy Daniels' lawyer, was in H-Town yesterday.

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, who gained national fame for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, appeared in a Houston immigration court Tuesday to reunify a 9-year-old immigrant boy with his mother, who had been deported to Guatemala.

The attorney and cable TV fixture visited early-voting Iowa over the weekend after announcing a potential presidential bid. In Houston, he urged the goverment to immediately release Anthony Tobar Ortiz so that he could return to Central America with Avenatti that same day.

A lot more about the child's case he argued at the link.  I join the opinion that the mainstream media is doing the same favor for Avenatti that they did for Trump about four years ago.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance again took a break from the most rabid Washington-related political news -- no Manafort, no Rudy, no Omarosa, no Kellyanne, thanks -- and focused on environmental, educational, and social issues occupying the public domain over the past week.

David Collins has some post-Midwestern primary election thoughts, which included a measured response to the now-weekly unhinged rants of centrist Democrats blaming the Green Party for having the temerity to allow the sun to rise too early while simultaneously turning off their snooze alarms.

Meanwhile the DNC quietly (but almost unanimously) aborted their two-month-old moratorium on accepting PAC money from fossil fuel companies, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs learned that a brand-new DNC member from Houston was probably instrumental in the move.

Reality-based Texas blogs addressed the worsening climate crisis before the DNC sold out.

Texas Vox described how cities in Texas -- beyond Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and hopefully Dallas soon -- can craft a 'Paris-friendly' climate action plan.

Downwinders at Risk advanced the hearing with the Dallas city council's Quality of Life committee on August 27th, with the current challenge being that city officials do not think that the public can "handle the truth" about air pollution in the Metroplex.

DeSmogBlog detailed how the fracking industry is cannibalizing themselves, setting up the next bust cycle via overuse of horizontal drilling, using the film There Will Be Blood's milkshake analogy to describe how it is happening.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub recalls the days when DDT was sprayed from airplanes in order to prevent the spread of polio.

In more recent poisonous aerosol applications by misguided public officials, the Texas Observer documented Sid Miller's crawfishing on cattle spray boxes.  (Just go read it.  Really.)

Depiction inaccurate; his head is up the other end.

The Culture Wars, in the diminutive form of beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions, came to Houston and promptly ate too much Mexican food, upsetting the delicate constitution of the city's liberals and conservatives.

El Jefe at the Beauty Shop also recapped the El Tiempo debacle.

UPDATE: Pro-level trolling by Montrose Tex-Mex competitor El Real, via Eater Houston.

Dallas city council member Dwain Caraway resigned after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.  The Dallas Observer compiled a few of his greatest hits, including his contribution to the QAnon controversy.

With the midterm elections looming, voter registration among millennials is surging -- just not in Texas, says the San Antonio Current.

"Texas seems to be moving backward in comparison to the rest of the country," said Zenen Jaimes Perez, communications director for the Texas Civil Rights Project. "This state, unfortunately, is becoming an outlier. … Very clearly, it’s motivated by state’s top leaders wanting to keep the same people in power."

As schools get set to open, the Texas Tribune takes note of students in Port Arthur who are still living a Harvey PTSD moment.

Texas Standard brings home the report card on Texas schools in the RGV earning an A, which defies the conventional wisdom about poverty and achievement.

In the wake of this past weekend's "Unite the Right 2" march, Jef Rouner at Free Press Houston believes that Houston should be preparing for its own white supremacist rally.

SocraticGadfly wants to know more about all the alleged Texas atheists the Lyceum poll on the Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race said the state had.

In a promising Texas media development, the Rivard Report has relocated its San Antonio offices, tripling the square footage, adding to staff and making conference space available for meetings with government officials and community leaders.

Harry Hamid has another edition of the Saint Christopher Chronicles, begun week before last and continuing with 'Breakfast with Buck'.

Carlos Sanchez at Texas Monthly eulogizes the liberal lion of the Texas Senate, A.R. "Babe" Schwartz.  He was an avid environmentalist and a civil rights advocate -- especially desegregation -- at a time when that was not a popular position.  He also pushed for open government, education, and state services for the mentally challenged.

And the biggest music news last week was rapper Travis Scott dropping 'Astroworld' and scheduling a new jam fest in H-Town in November.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Funnies

The editorial board of the Boston Globe is proposing that newspapers across the nation express their disdain for the president’s rhetoric on Aug. 16 with the best weapon they have: their collective voice.

"Bipartisan Agreement" flavor is back!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Texas Democrat leads on un-ban of fossil fuel $$$

Let's cut to the chase.

The strength of the fossil fuel donations ban seemed in question almost immediately after it passed. The DNC refused to announce the resolution, declining to comment to HuffPost for a story that made the vote public.

At the Texas Democratic Party’s convention two weeks later (this past June), a state party official opposed a state-level proposal to ban fossil fuel donations and oppose new gas extraction, arguing that the DNC’s own resolution was not set in stone.

A.J. Durrani, a retired engineer and manager at the oil giant Shell who recently joined the national party committee, said the DNC did not include the earlier vote in the minutes from its last executive committee meeting.

“There was no mention in it,” Durrani said by phone in June. As far as he was concerned, he said, “As of right now, the DNC has not voted.”

Durrani did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Texas Democrats ultimately voted down their proposed resolution.

A. J. MF'n Durrani.

I've known him from my earliest days (2002) as a Democratic Party activist in southwest Houston (though I will wager he doesn't know me, even though we served on some SD-17 committees together).  You can read about that activism of his here, and his professional life since retiring from Shell hereOil Patch Democrats (old link but note the names), SDEC, one of the first members of the Asian American Democrats club, then state caucus, and eventually growing that into DNC membership and super delegate status in 2016.  Yeah, he's done some shit.

Needless to say, he's no progressive.

He may or may not be the ringleader behind this; Durrani has without a doubt been pulling thick strings behind the scenes.  He lives in CD-7, the home of most of Houston's O&G; long been butt buddies in the OPD with James Cargas, and has likely used every method available -- light, dark, and in-between -- to bundle contributions from Shell and other Houston-based oil companies, oil company executives, and the like for Democrats up and down the ballot for the past decade.

Not that it's done them any good, of course.  (I'm not counting state representatives Hubert Vo and the Green-hating Gene Wu in the 'good' column, either.)

It's likewise difficult to imagine an old company man, top management, bucking up for the Steelworkers -- the hardhats in the refineries -- here, as Perez has suggested.

Obviously if California weren't burning, if there weren't a global heatwave, if the alarm bells weren't sounding as loudly as they ever have about tipping points tipped and 'Hothouse Earth' ... maybe the Jackass Party could have slipped this one by.

But everybody sees you, A. J.  Did you work closely with Gilberto Hinojosa on that whole "helping fund state parties" part?

We'll wait and see if "Houston's oldest continuously published" blogger, himself a Shell employee, has anything to say about this beyond a few tut-tuts -- on his most progressive day -- every time the Donkeys in charge take a shit on everybody on the left.  Somebody let me know if he does.

In the meanwhile, I just have one question: if the oil companies and the banks and the drug companies and all the rest of the corporations can buy off both the Republicans AND the Democrats ... then why would they GAF who wins?

More from Shadowproof.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday White Elitist Racist Toon

It's not just Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson and the rest of Fox News; racism has a long-standing and under-acknowledged white elitist component, and Kris Kobach is proof.

We have an unfortunate tendency in America to treat racism and racial resentment as a pathology of the white underclass. Takes about the need for Democrats to abandon woke “identity politics” typically cite a desire to win back the “white working class,” not white members of the Harvard Club.

But while there’s some survey data backing the idea that working-class whites are likelier to harbor racial resentment (see table 3 here), the racism that kept Jews and blacks out of country clubs (and out of Harvard) for generations is still around. And Kobach is a great example of how it can continue to have real political consequences.

Kobach isn’t alone. White House adviser Stephen Miller didn’t have a Huntington figure during his time at Duke; in all the profiles written about Miller, I’ve yet to find one that mentions a professor who mentored him or even liked him. But it was Miller’s role as a conservative voice on campus during the Duke lacrosse scandal (a scandal that became a national affair only because of Duke’s elite status) that catapulted him into a career as a policy aide on Capitol Hill, and now in the White House. He, like Kobach, leveraged elite credentials to implement racist policies.

Further on the fringes of American life, Richard Spencer’s time as a Duke grad student, and Jared Taylor’s Yale pedigree, have helped lift them from obscurity into being commonly cited voices from the “race realist” movement. They got a patina of respectability, a sense that they’re a different, higher class of racist.

Working-class white racists can inflict a lot of harm; hate crimes in this country are a real thing, committed by people with all kinds of income and education levels. But economically unprivileged whites typically don’t cause damage on the scale of Miller or Kobach — or even Spencer or Taylor. That escalation requires elite credentials and connections.

... I hope Kobach can help change our mental image of an American racist from lazy stereotypes of manual laborers to a Yale-trained lawyer with a PhD, whose racial views come in part from a celebrated Harvard professor. That’s the bigger danger.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Culberson's questionable stock trades resurface in wake of Collins arrest

Congratulations to Lizzie Pannill Fletcher for the big break.

The arraignment of US Rep. Christopher Collins yesterday in federal court for violating the laws regarding insider trading is bad news for Trump, but five other Republican Congressmen, including  Texans John Culberson and Michael Conaway, are also caught in the undertow.

Via Raw Story, which counts them as six but that number includes Tom Price, who has cycled through the swamp faster than anyone, from Georgia Congresscritter to HHS Secretary to out on his ass cushy healthcare industry board job, i.e. lobbyist.  Raw Story's reporter also apparently didn't realize that the Houston Chronicle piece they mentioned but did not link regarding John 'Keeps His Word' first appeared in June of 2017 (it referenced Culberson's opponent only as a "research physician", aka Dr. Jason Westin).  Excerpt from the Chron:

Culberson says his interest in Innate was sparked by "press reports," though he has declined to specify which ones. News reports in January -- just before he and Conaway bought Innate stock -- focused on the controversy surrounding the purchase of shares at discounted prices by Collins and then-Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price, now (formerly) the secretary of health and human services.

An article in the New York Times in early January, two weeks before Culberson bought his stock, hardly inspired confidence. It described Innate as "a tiny pharmaceutical company from Australia that has no approved drugs and no backing from flashy venture capital firms." The piece also noted that the company had run out of money "more than once" and nearly folded.

On Capitol Hill, the focus was on Collins, who was being accused by Democrats of promoting Innate stock to colleagues in the halls of Congress. Collins has repeatedly denied the charge.

Earlier this month The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, published an "exclusive" report citing a half-dozen Republican lawmakers -- all speaking anonymously -- who said they heard Collins "talking up" Innate at various congressional gatherings.

Again, Collins denied it, telling The Hill, "I've never encouraged anyone to buy the stock. Ever."

A number of ethics watchdog groups and legal analysts say that if Culberson and other lawmakers were steered into their Innate investments with non-public information, they could be in potential violation of the Stock Act, which bans insider trading by members of Congress - whether or not they make money.

Culberson has declined repeated requests from the Chronicle to talk about the details of his Innate stock purchase, including whether he was still holding on to the stock Tuesday when its price plummeted. He has relied instead on a written statement that his investment was motivated by the death of a family friend from multiple sclerosis. He also acknowledged in a statement that he "rarely" buys or sells stock.

That admission has deepened interest in his decision to buy stock in Innate, a struggling biotech company that generally has been trading for less than $1 on the Australian Stock Exchange.

So Big Bad John has some 'splain' to do, and whether he does it to federal prosecutors or the Congressional ethics committee or the media or the voters of the 7th Congressional District ... well, we'll just have to wait a little longer and see.

Also from Bloomberg: "Charges Against Rep. Chris Collins Highlight Lack of Trading Limits for Congress".

At least one of the lawmakers, John Culberson of Texas, reported selling his holdings a few weeks before the company was privately informed in June 2017 of negative results from a clinical drug trial. When the news was announced, the company’s share price tanked. He said in a statement Wednesday that he didn’t have any inside information when he sold.

As for Conaway, the 11th District of Texas is a pretty safe one.  A quiet backbencher for most of his seven terms, Conaway took over in April from Devin Nunes (who you might have seen and heard on the news just last night) the Congressional 'investigation' into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, which includes collusion as well as election-related meddling.  Prior to that, he would have been in charge of investigating Collins, Culberson, and himself on these stock trades, as he was the House Ethics Committee chair.  And his Democratic challenger, Jennie Lou Leeder, while seemingly a good progressive -- the words 'single-payer' show up in the first sentence on her healthcare issues page -- is still, sadly, a long way from getting some traction.

But Ms. Fletcher and all the centrist Democrats in the Seventh ought to be waking up this morning feeling elated at their good luck and the fortuitous timing of these developments.

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance blogs less about polling, fundraising, and the forthcoming November election and more about the social justice issues that are focusing our attention at this less-sweltering, less hurricane-threatened start to August.

Meanwhile, Harris County voters should not overlook the $2.5 billion dollar flood bond election, which has early voting beginning today Wednesday, August 8.

Here's the blog post and lefty news roundup.

In ordering the Trump administration to immediately begin locating immigrant parents and reuniting them with their children, a federal judge declared that the danger of creating "permanently orphaned children" will be "100% percent" the responsibility of the federal government.

Calls for a state investigation and to cease approving licenses for immigrant detention centers were made after a report that a toddler died after being released from a facility in South Texas, and allegations of sexual abuse of at least eight immigrant boys at centers in Arizona run by Southwest Key, the company that wants to open a "baby jail" in Houston.

Texas Standard wonders if Pope Francis' call to eliminate the death penalty will change any minds among Texas Catholics ... like Greg Abbott.

The Texas Observer has a report (.pdf) that shows that two-thirds of the state's high schools have failed to comply with a decades-old law to register their seniors to vote, leaving over 180,000 Texans off the voter rolls.  The problem is statewide, but concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley.  Texas Leftist has more.

At Texas Rural Voices, they understand that arming teachers is dangerous.  Yet they see it happening all over the state.

SocraticGadfly wonders why 25 House Dems and a Gang Greenish environmentalist group are recycling an old Ryan Zinke idea for new National Parks funding.

David Collins has some candid revelations about the state of mental wellness -- his and others'.

Pages of Victory defines his progressive and liberal terms.

The Militant reports that more than 500 people attended a July 24 screening of the new film “Santos Vive,” which documented the murder of 12 year-old Santos Rodriguez at the hands of a Dallas policeman on that day in 1973.

Officer Darrell Cain played Russian roulette with his gun, killing the handcuffed Rodriguez in the back of his patrol car.  Cain had arrested Santos and his brother David at their home, accusing them of stealing $8 from a soda machine at a local gas station.  Cain was convicted of “murder with malice” but served only half of a five-year sentence.  DNA tests conducted after the boy's death confirmed Santos was innocent of the burglary.

Alice Embree at The Rag Blog contributed her history to that of other '60's and'70's-era women activists in Austin in "Fight Like a Girl", featured in the recent edition of Life & Letters, a publication of the Liberal Arts College at the University of Texas.

Very Smart Brothas, one of the blogs at The Root, caught the mural in the Trinity Groves neighborhood of Dallas that depicts the Cowboys' Dak Prescott as being in 'The Sunken Place'.  (It was the quarterback's 'house Negro moment' in supporting his owner's and the NFL's position on national anthem protests that inspired artist Trey Wilder.)

And a Tom Waits song serves as muse for Harry Hamid's latest short work of mostly fiction.