Friday, April 29, 2016

Scattershooting while mourning Blackie Sherrod

Felix McKnight (seated) joined co-publisher James Chambers Jr. (left), 
Blackie Sherrod and A.C. Greene as the staff of the Dallas Times Herald 
worked on coverage of the JFK assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. (Courtesy DMN)

Blackie Sherrod, the greatest Texas sportswriter of his generation or any other, now and forevermore, died Thursday afternoon at age 96.

Sherrod died at his home in Dallas of natural causes, said his wife, Joyce. He had been in hospice care for the past week.

Sherrod was voted Texas Sportswriter of the Year a record 16 times and was honored with the prestigious Red Smith Award, national recognition for lifetime achievement. He won so many awards over more than six decades at Texas newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News starting in 1985, that he stopped keeping plaques or certificates for anything other than first place.

But his greatest trophies may have been the lasting memories he created for legions of readers and his peers, in particular.

He was nicknamed "Blackie" by a newsroom boss when he came in to the office one morning having absorbed a little too much sunshine, a story that speaks to the extraordinary unacknowledged white privilege of his era.  His soft bigotry didn't suffer from low expectations; it was just soft bigotry like most everybody else's in the '40's up to the present day, but especially in the '60's.  You'd have to read a lot written by and about the guy to get to that POV, and I have.

You might like to start here with this 1975 Texas Monthly piece.

Blackie Sherrod inspected the three or four manicured acres surrounding A. C. Greene’s semi-mansion in a much-advantaged section of Dallas, cocked his head to monitor the sweet calls of summer-morning birds, and sat down at an outdoor table loaded as if to accommodate a threshing crew: platters of eggs, bacon, cantaloupe slices, exotic breads, jams and jellies, coffee, pitchers of fruit juice, and maybe assorted samples of caviar or candied yak’s ass. He took in the grandly bent weeping willows, the sun-dappled swimming pool and bathhouse, the tall hedges hiding the green grounds from the gazes of Democrats or other riffraff. Sipping a spiced bloody mary, he said, “Boy hidy, A. C., all this sure is . . .”

Sherrod hesitated, as if determined to choose the exact right word—it is, after all, the way he makes his living—and you could see ol’ A. C. Greene, a Depression-era Abilene boy who was not born fast friends with money, puffing with the pride of ownership and preparing to respond to some record-breaking gracious compliment.

“. . . totally,” Blackie said, “and completely . . .”

Out of this world, he might say. Or beyond belief. Somesuch. A. C. nodded and beamed like a politician being bragged on, patting a well-shod foot as if impatient to deliver his own pretty little acceptance speech.

“ . . . vulgar,” Blackie Sherrod finished.

Before the manor’s lord could blink good, Sherrod smote him again: “What’d you plant the most of this year, A. C.? What time you commence whupping-up on them slaves?” A. C. Greene, knowing when he’d been out-country-boyed, threw up his hands and laughed a crippled giggle.

He was indeed the best there's ever been, at a time when good newspaperin' was at its best, when people read the Fort Worth (and Dallas) papers for news about the Cowboys from all over the state of Texas and probably all of Oklahoma and certainly parts of Arkansas and Louisiana.  Sherrod also covered Democratic conventions when Democrats were still riding high 'round these parts, which tells you how blessed he was with longevity.

He spawned a legion of great writers like Larry King (who wrote that TM piece forty years ago) and Dan Jenkins and many more, not necessarily including those of us who cribbed from him.

A columnist on the Texas Gulf Coast so persistently thieved from Sherrod’s column that Times Herald authorities ultimately complained and the would-be genius was fired. In 1950, when Sherrod was a columnist for the Fort Worth Press and I was the rookie one-man sports department for the Midland Reporter-Telegram, it was my urgent habit to be on hand at the Scharbauer Hotel each day to buy all six copies of the Press left at the local newsstand. Five were pitched into the handiest trash can. This wasteful practice guarded against my bosses and readers learning where I got those many little funnies shamelessly sprinkled throughout a daily column carrying my own by-line. Had the Midland paper observed a policy of granting raises, I’m confident Blackie would have earned me one.

Not that the whole world was fooled. No, for when I moved on to the Odessa American, a resident sports scribe named Ben Peeler wigwagged me into a neutral corner to whisper that our newspaper wasn’t big enough for both of us to crib from Blackie Sherrod, and, by gum, he claimed certain inalienable seniority rights. Within the last fortnight I enjoyed a magazine piece by a freelance writer who’d stolen enough lines from a single Sherrod column to retire on. All that doesn’t bother Blackie much more than the running colic, “seeing as how I’ve robbed ole Shakespeare and S. J. Perelman purty good myself.”

He was just as solid when he wrote about moonshots and presidential assassinations.

There's more at both links above and I'll stop here before I get in the way of myself.  I've long needed an editor and now I'm afraid Blackie's gonna be looking over my shoulder.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We're set for November. Woo hoo.

In a front-runner's rout, Republican Donald Trump roared to victory Tuesday in five contests across the Northeast and confidently declared himself the GOP's "presumptive nominee." Hillary Clinton was dominant in four Democratic races and now is 90 percent of the way to the number she needs to claim her own nomination.
Trump's and Clinton's wins propelled them ever closer to a general election showdown. Still, Bernie Sanders and Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich, vowed to keep running, even as opportunities to topple the leaders dwindle.

Trump is a little further away but is bragging louder as usual.

Trump still must negotiate a narrow path to keep from falling short of the delegates needed to seal the nomination before the Republican National Convention in July. Cruz and Kasich are working toward that result, which would leave Trump open to a floor fight in which delegates could turn to someone else.
Trump was having none of that. "It's over. As far as I'm concerned it's over," he declared at his victory rally in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. He now has 77 percent of the delegates he needs.

In the clearing stands a boxer.

News organizations called all five states for Trump within 30 minutes after the polls closed – a victory that should net him around 100 delegates when the counts are finalized. However, analysts believe Trump will be hunting for at least 250 more delegates even as his celebratory boasts Tuesday oozed confidence. Indeed, he went so far as to declare, “I consider myself the presumptive nominee.”

His rationale: “When a boxer knocks out another boxer, you don’t have to wait for a decision. That’s what happened tonight."

If you take him at his word, he'd rather be fighting... someone else.

“If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” he said to close out a press conference after sweeping five northeastern primaries. “And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her.”

Yeah, that's just gorgeous, Donald.  Women like you even less (shocking, isn't it).

This is going to be such a hideous path through the summer and early fall to the bitter end.

With Clinton's four victories — she ceded only Rhode Island to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — she now has 90 percent of the delegates she needs to become the first woman nominated by a major party. Clinton kept her focus firmly on the general election as she spoke to supporters Tuesday night, urging Sanders' loyal supporters to help her unify the Democratic Party and reaching out to GOP voters who may be unhappy with their party's options.
"If you are a Democrat, an independent or a thoughtful Republican, you know that their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality," Clinton said of the GOP candidates. She spoke in Philadelphia, where Democrats will gather in July for their nominating convention.

We'll see how that goes.  Still sounds like condescension and scolding to me.

"I applaud Senator Sanders and his millions of supporters for challenging us to get unaccountable money out of our politics and giving greater emphasis to closing the gap of inequality," she said, "and I know together we will get that done."
She acknowledged that "too many people" feel powerless, and worried "that those of us in politics put our own interests ahead of the national interest." But she reminded her supporters, in a message to Sanders' supporters as well, that bold goals must be "backed up by real plans."
"After all, that is how progress gets made," she said. "We have to be both dreamers and doers."

Doesn't seem to register that her definition of 'progress' isn't what Sanders folks are looking for.  How much of his support transfers to her is essentially the last question left to answer, and it will be six months before we know for sure.

Robert Reich observes that the endgame for anti-establishment forces in the GOP and the Dems are mirror images of one another (which is not to say that they're the same), and invokes the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy to make his point.

Will Bernie Sanders’s supporters rally behind Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination? Likewise, if Donald Trump is denied the Republican nomination, will his supporters back whoever gets the Republican nod?
If 2008 is any guide, the answer is unambiguously yes to both. About 90 percent of people who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries that year ended up supporting Barack Obama in the general election. About the same percent of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney backers came around to supporting John McCain.
But 2008 may not be a good guide to the 2016 election, whose most conspicuous feature is furious antipathy to the political establishment.
Outsiders and mavericks are often attractive to an American electorate chronically suspicious of political insiders, but the anti-establishment sentiments unleashed this election year of a different magnitude. The Trump and Sanders candidacies are both dramatic repudiations of politics as usual.
If Hillary Clinton is perceived to have won the Democratic primary because of insider “superdelegates” and contests closed to independents, it may confirm for hardcore Bernie supporters the systemic political corruption Sanders has been railing against.
Similarly, if the Republican Party ends up nominating someone other than Trump who hasn’t attracted nearly the votes than he has, it may be viewed as proof of Trump’s argument that the Republican Party is corrupt.
Many Sanders supporters will gravitate to Hillary Clinton nonetheless out of repulsion toward the Republican candidate, especially if it’s Donald Trump. Likewise, if Trump loses his bid for the nomination, many of his supporters will vote Republican in any event, particularly if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton.
But, unlike previous elections, a good number may simply decide to sit out the election because of their even greater repulsion toward politics as usual – and the conviction it’s rigged by the establishment for its own benefit.
That conviction wasn’t present in the 2008 election. It emerged later, starting in the 2008 financial crisis, when the government bailed out the biggest Wall Street banks while letting underwater homeowners drown. 
Both the Tea Party movement and Occupy were angry responses – Tea Partiers apoplectic about government’s role, Occupiers furious with Wall Street – two sides of the same coin. 

Pick it up from there over here, where he adds in the mega-bank bailouts, Citizens United, and the rest of the past eight years' worth of history.

My mission beginning a year or so ago was to more actively facilitate the departure of progressives -- what we can now call BernieDems -- away from Team Blue and toward Team Green, or Team Red as the case may be.  Contrary to Kos' latest change of tone, a revolution within the Ds -- as Sanders has learned the hard way -- just isn't the most effective tool to affect change (no fear of loss on their part if you just slouch slowly back into the fold).  So I'm going to keep doing that in my own signature style around here, which ought to further alienate my old pals in the blues party some more (too bad about that).

As a result I'm going to be posting excerpts and links to articles that reinforce that message and much, much less about the he said/she said bullshit.  You'll see more like yesterday's about intriguing matchups downballot in states other than Texas, because Texas is once again a foregone conclusion.  Just not that interested in what the world's worst conservatives will do, and plot to do, with absolutely no political consequences whatsoever.

Update: Charles cites the Houston Area Survey's latest revelation -- which I had read before posting here and wasn't nearly so encouraged by -- as reasons for the local Donkeys to be hopeful.  Its conclusions about Houston turning slightly more purple are not based on turnout, just a mild 'leaning' affiliation, and links to Campos, who again blames Dems for not getting his community to vote for them.  My question for soft Latino/a Ds who aren't voting is: WTF are you waiting for?  Us regular folks, white and black alike, aren't sitting around for engraved invitations to perform our civic responsibilities.  Whatever it is that's holding you back, you might consider not waiting for somebody to knock on your door and/or send you a mailer.  And please don't blame anybody but yourselves for the policies Republicans are going to continue to inflict upon you if you're staying home on Election Day.

That's the most I can do to help Hillary get over the Trump hump.  (She really shouldn't need it.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Moving on

There are some more presidential primary elections today, all of them in blue Northeast states.  You may hear something today about Facebook outages limited to Bernie Sanders pages and groups as discussed overnight on Twitter.  I don't find that newsworthy but hey, whatever floats your personal watercraft.  Let's look down the ballot up north for some more interesting elections.

The presidential primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will get top billing on Tuesday night, but there are several other down-ballot contests to pay attention to as well.

One Senate primary in Pennsylvania will impact how competitive the race there might be in November, while in Maryland a bitter Democratic contest that's turned on race and gender will likely decide the state's next senator.

Two incumbent Pennsylvania congressmen are in danger of losing their primaries amid questions about their ethics and personal relationships. And in Maryland, another open House contest has reached record spending levels after a self-funding candidate spent more than $12.4 million of his own money to win the seat.


The fight for who will take on Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in the fall is the most consequential of Tuesday night's battles for the Senate. This Keystone State slot is one of several GOP-held seats in White House battleground states that went for President Obama four years ago — and that Democrats are aiming to flip in order to take back the upper chamber.
National Democrats have rallied behind Katie McGinty, a former state secretary of environmental protection and gubernatorial chief of staff, who they believe is the stronger general election candidate over former Rep. Joe Sestak.
The retired Navy admiral Sestak has had bad blood with both state and national Democrats ever since his 2010 run for Senate, when he declined to step aside for the party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary. Sestak won the Democratic nomination, but lost that November to Toomey.
Now, most Democrats feel Sestak is still too much of a loose cannon and generally a weaker candidate than McGinty. They've poured plenty of money and resources into helping her in the race, and a poll released Monday showed her with a very narrow advantage. President Obama has endorsed her and Vice President Joe Biden was in his birth state to campaign with her on Monday, too.
But Sestak shouldn't be underestimated — he still has grassroots support and never really quit running for the Senate. He even walked 422 miles across the state when he launched his campaign last year, and he's argued that national Democrats' overt support for his rival will backfire.
There is a third candidate running, too, who's in single digits: Braddock Mayor John Fetterman. The long-shot hopeful has endorsed Bernie Sanders in the state's presidential primary, and has publicly wondered why the Vermont senator hasn't returned the favor.
"I'm sitting here with my corsage, waiting," Fetterman told Slate.


There hasn't been an African-American woman in the Senate in nearly two decades — and that absence, coupled with her personal story as a struggling single mother, is a central part of Rep. Donna Edwards's pitch to voters.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen has argued that voters shouldn't decide based on gender or race but instead on who's the best qualified to succeed the retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving female senator in history.
In fact, he's released a list of 100 African-American women leaders who are backing his candidacy over Edwards. Van Hollen's supporters have also highlighted stories questioning how effective Edwards has been in the House and how well she works with other members of Congress. In response, Edwards allies have said such criticisms are sexist.
About 40 percent of the electorate is expected to be African-American, and who wins the bitter contest could come down to the Baltimore region. The city was roiled last year after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody; trials are now pending against several officers. And a competitive mayoral primary also featuring two black women could help drive up turnout in the city.
"It's not that the black community doesn't like Chris Van Hollen. The issue is that there's little ideological daylight between the two," Mileah Kromer, a professor of political science and a pollster at Goucher College in Baltimore, told NPR. "Now you have an opportunity to send someone who actually looks like you to the Senate, and that's not lost on a lot of black women in Baltimore City."
Whoever wins the Democratic primary will be the heavy favorite in the general election in the blue state.

Also in MD: Will gobs of money make the difference?

Most Maryland voters had never heard of wine retailer David Trone before, but it's a good bet they know him now after the Total Wine & More co-founder spent $12.4 million of his own money blanketing the expensive DC-area airwaves and mailboxes in this suburban Maryland district.
The open seat to succeed Van Hollen has become the most expensive House race this year, and Trone is now the largest self-funding candidate in history after dipping deep into his own pockets in this nine-person race.
Trone told NPR the investment was necessary to make him competitive with his better-known main rivals: former local TV anchor Kathleen Matthews (who's married to MSNBC's Chris Matthews) and state Sen. Jamie Raskin. Most observers believe it will be a close contest between the three top candidates.
Trone has defended his decision to self-fund his campaign and, like another deep-pocketed GOP businessman running for president, has said that by paying for the race himself he isn't beholden to anyone. But his rivals have charged Trone is trying to buy the seat.
While Trone's slickly produced ads in high rotation have certainly raised his name in the region, some say his blanketing approach could backfire.
"I think that your primary campaign was over the top. It was just too much, too often," one voter told Trone outside a metro stop last week. "It was like getting a phone call from your girlfriend asking you if you still loved her every 15 minutes."

PA again.

Rep. Chaka Fattah is fighting for his political life after he was indicted on 29 counts, including racketeering, bribery and mail fraud, for allegedly misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds — some from his 2007 bid for Philadelphia mayor and his congressional account.

The 11-term Democrat could face significant jail time if he's convicted, but his immediate concern is staving off a strong primary challenge. He has three opponents, but the biggest threat is from state Rep. Dwight Evans, who has served in the state legislature for nearly four decades.

But even with criminal charges looming over the race, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that the contest has been a surprisingly cordial affair. Fattah has reminded voters of his seniority in Congress and his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Evans has racked up the most money in the race and netted endorsements from major Democratic figures, including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and former Gov. Ed Rendell and Gov. Tom Wolf. But if the other challengers split the anti-Fattah vote, the embattled congressman could still hang on.

And last, this PA GOP affair.

Tea Party candidate Art Halvorson's primary challenge against Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster is also worth watching, though the seven-term incumbent is probably safer than his Democratic colleague Fattah.
At issue is the divorced Republican's relationship with airline lobbyist Shelley Rubino, which his detractors have said is a conflict of interest given the major committee he chairs.
Shuster has argued there's no conflict since he's implemented a rule in his office that blocks Rubino from lobbying him or his staff.
"It's a private and personal relationship," the congressman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's a private matter. Let's move on to something else, some other questions."
But to his challenger Halvorson, who lost to Shuster in a 2014 primary by nearly 20 points, that's exactly the kind of Washington-insider coziness he's running against.
While Shuster has dwarfed his incumbent challenger in fundraising — bringing in $2.6 million to Halvorson's $64,000 combined with $200,000 in self-funding — the anti-Washington, anti-establishment tide could boost his underdog bid.

That's more than I've posted about any Texas races in awhile.  Speaking of that, there's a local runoff election happening at this very moment, but the newspaper of record doesn't much care about it so why should I?  Oh, and my state representative is acting completely unaccountable to his constituents again, much like the statewide Republicans do.

No news here.  What is there about Texas Democrats and Republicans both being petty crooks and thieves that's worth discussing?

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Weekly Purple Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is gathered here today to get through this thing called mourning the loss of Prince as it brings you this week's blog post roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the different reactions to Houston repealing HERO and North Carolina passing its harsh anti-equality law.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos insists that something has to be done about Houston’s serial flooding.  Bold political leadership and action are woefully lacking. Houston: We really can’t do this every year.

Socratic Gadfly notes there's no "old lace" in the GOP race, just arsenic vs cyanide, and speculates on how it might play out.

The greater Houston area has received four '100-year" storms in the past twelve months.   PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks it's either time to find a new name for these apocalyptic floods, or perhaps address the various root causes (climate change, too much concrete, greedy land developers) of them.

Many people in McAllen cannot travel. Why? Crazy immigration rules terrorize families. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants immigration reform.

Egberto Willies observes that even a Koch brother is afraid of a Republican presidency.

Texas Leftist returns after hiatus with two posts this past week, regarding Texas Republican leaders' wanting to refuse their Medicaid expansion cake but eat it too, and a 'wake up and smell the coffee' post about Houston's serial flooding.

Bay Area Houston asks Sid Miller where his campaign manager Ted Nugent might be hiding these days.

The HugGate scandal in Denton grew more significant in a two-part story detailed at TXsharon's Bluedaze.

Lewisville's Lake Park won't be open in time for Memorial Day weekend, due to flooding and for the second consecutive year, reports The Lewisville Texan Journal.

Neil at All People Have Value took note of the hopeful 2016 Texas Green Party convention. APHV is part of


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

The Houston Press marks the occasion of the first-ever appearance of Star Trek android Data -- err, Houston's own Brent Spiner -- at Space City Comic Con on Memorial Day weekend.  (Spiner's character also resurges in the 'Independence Day' sequel, forthcoming.)

And if there are any Star Wars fans among Wrangle readers, you have an opportunity to be an extra in scenes for that series' next movie, to be filmed near Victoria, Texas (sometime in 2017, so plenty of time to get prepared).

Beyond Bones takes a stand against shark finning.

The Makeshift Academic urges Democrats to accept a lame-duck confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if it is on offer.

Better Texas Blog celebrates Tax Day.

Grits for Breakfast dismisses talk of a "crime wave" in Texas.

Paradise in Hell just can't even with Sid Miller.

Somervell County Salon noticed some paychecks getting delayed at Glen Rose Medical Center because the local bank wouldn't approve the short-term loan used to pay employees.

Prairie Weather asks what a blogger is supposed to do when he/she is fed up with the news, and answers the question.

And Pages of Victory describes some of the artists and songs among his old record collection.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sanders is a Democrat, and this makes Clintonites seethe

So at least something good has come out of it.

66% of Democrats said the primary contest is "energizing" the party...

Feels like negative energy to me, but that is allegedly good for you, so what do I know?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fidel Castro still not dead, but close

By his own acknowledgement.

“I’ll be 90 years old soon,” Castro said in his most extensive public appearance in years. “Soon I’ll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them.”


“This may be one of the last times I speak in this room,” Fidel Castro said. “We must tell our brothers in Latin America and the world that the Cuban people will be victorious.”

Es demasiado dramática.

Fifty-five years after Fidel Castro declared that Cuba’s revolution was socialist and began installing a single-party system and centrally planned economy, the Cuban government is battling a deep crisis of credibility.

With no memory of the revolution’s heady first decades, younger Cubans complain bitterly about low state salaries of about $25 a month that leave them struggling to afford food and other staple goods. Cuba’s creaky state-run media and cultural institutions compete with flashy foreign programming shared online and on memory drives passed hand-to-hand. Emigration to the United States and other countries has soared to one of its highest points since the revolution.

A nation's leaders completely out of touch with its citizens.  Imagine that.

The ideological gulf between government and people widened last month when President Barack Obama became the first U.S. leader to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years and delivered a widely praised speech live on state television urging Cubans to forget the history of hostility between the U.S. and Cuba and move toward a new era of normal diplomatic and economic relations.

The Cuban government offered little unified response until the Communist Party’s Seventh Party Congress began Saturday, and one high-ranking official after another warned that the U.S. was still an enemy that wants to take control of Cuba. They said Obama’s trip represented an ideological “attack.”


Jon Lee Anderson, a staff writer at The New Yorker who is writing a biography of Fidel Castro, called the day’s events “a way of restoring some kind of essential revolutionary presence or muscle in the room after the star-struck effect of Obama.”
The Cuban government appears to be engaging in “overcompensation for being bowled over a little bit by Obama’s unexpectedly elegant and charismatic performance in Havana,” said Anderson, who covered the visit. “Cubans who aren’t prepared for the full extent of what he was saying, it took them aback.”

I posted mi Cubana's story -- following the passing of my father-in-law -- with the title of the phrase he and his wife (and I presume many other Cuban expatriates) often used to describe Fidel: "bicho malo nunca muere".  There's going to be a yuuuge party at our favorite Cuban restaurant on the evening of his demise, and I won't miss it for all the tea in China.

Not sure where we will celebrate on the day Dick Cheney finally dies, but that might be just as big a deal.  Maybe both guys are drinking the same blood of Camp Fire Girls, who knows.

New York, New York. SMH

Trump and Clinton smash their challengers and reassert control of their nominations.

A preview of the face-biting to come

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton scored sweeping victories in nominating contests in their home state of New York, and immediately cited them in arguing they are all but unstoppable as their respective parties' presidential nominees.

Trump's crushing defeat of Ted Cruz in Tuesday's primary election tilted the energy in the Republican race back to the front-runner, just as Republican National Committee members begin meeting in Florida on Wednesday to discuss their July convention, where the nominee will be chosen.

For the Democratic favorite, Clinton's more narrow victory over Bernie Sanders snapped a string of victories by the 74-year-old democratic socialist and gave her a much-needed lift with more tough fights ahead.

The eventual victors of the Democratic and the Republican nominating campaigns will face each other in November's general election.

Trump's win, celebrated to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" at Trump Tower in Manhattan, marked a rebound from his Wisconsin defeat two weeks ago. It set him up for another big night on April 26, when Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Maryland will hold primaries.

Sanders lost NY for the same old reason: black voters (22% of the electorate there) went 75-25 for Clinton.  They made up their minds a long time ago and they ain't changin' 'em.

Those same five states mentioned in the last graf of the excerpt above were also named in Sanders' most recent e-mail overnight as where the battle would go on, so it appears neither he (nor Ted Cruz) is ready to throw in the towel.  In fact Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign chief, still seems more than a little defiant despite various calls for his man to quit and fall in line.

By the (CNN) numbers ...

With 93% of the vote in at 12:15 a.m ET, Trump was in the lead at 60% while Ohio Gov. John Kasich was at 25.2% and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was at 14.8%.

With 94% of the Democratic vote in, Clinton was leading Sanders 57.7% to 42.3%.

Clinton outperformed the advance polling, including the exit polls taken just before voting concluded last night, which showed a very tight race.  If Sanders' campaign funds start to dry up as reality slowly sinks in, he'll take a powder and call it a day.  At this point that's the only trend to watch for.

So what next, revolutionaries?

Could you be more specific?

Good.  This is the right idea.  Writing him in is wrong.  Write-in votes aren't counted in many states because of onerous pre-certification requirements (see this from the TXSOS, this from Ballotpedia, and this handy start-to-finish slideshow on the process here in Texas).

It's starting to get a little boring at this point, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Houston now receives a hundred-year storm on a quarterly basis

Perhaps we should rename them.

Houston (was yesterday) in the midst of an unbelievable deluge, with already more rainfall in a single day than any hurricane to ever hit the hurricane-prone city. The National Weather Service has called Monday’s flooding “historic.”

More than 21,000 square miles of southeast Texas is now in a flash flood warning, but the worst flooding seems to be occurring in western parts of the Houston metro area. More than 17 inches of rainfall has fallen in just the past 24 hours in some neighborhoods, with about 1 foot of rain coming just since midnight—already making Monday the rainiest day ever in Houston before noon. At Houston’s George Bush International Airport, 11.16 inches fell by 10 a.m., breaking the all-time daily record of 10.34 inches set on June 26, 1989. And it’s still falling. More rain is in the forecast for the next 36 hours or so. Update, 6:35 pm ET: The rain has stopped for now, with 11.75 inches measured at George Bush Airport on Monday.

5 dead, 900 rescued from floodwaters in their homes or on the highways and roads. 

Officials in Harris County, where Houston is located, have declared a disaster area and estimate at least 1,000 homes have already been flooded. More than half the watersheds in Harris County are experiencing significant flooding, with at least one cresting above its estimated 500-year flood mark, a new all-time record. Bayous and creeks have overtopped levees in some parts of Houston, and the water continues to rise, with downtown Houston also in the direct path of some of the worst floodwaters.

Emergency personnel in Houston have already performed hundreds of water rescues, with firefighters taking to boats. With lightning crashing overhead, one journalist helped rescue a man after he had driven into floodwaters that threatened to overwhelm his car. Another image of a man rescuing an armadillo was widely circulated on social media, and there’s also video of people teaming up to save a stranded horse.  

Horses, plural.

They saved more than 70 of the 80 or so at the stables in the northwest portion of the county, but not all of them.  Very upsetting video here if you can take it.

Honestly though, it's just situation normal for us old hands around here.  The main thing you have to do is stock up and hunker down.  This is obviously not feasible for the working class, those who must travel to jobs via public transit, and others of the least fortunate among us.

The poor always bear the brunt of nature's temper tantrums, exacerbated in H-Town by poor planning and decisions made long ago by short-sighted elected officials and greedy real estate developers.  But that's a digression.

The National Weather Service had been warning of the potential for very heavy rainfall in southeast Texas since at least last Tuesday, as a continental-scale blocking pattern—in which an unusually stable jet stream locks weather systems in place—made conditions favorable for a stalled weather front to unload copious amounts of tropical moisture.

I went to the grocery store on Friday, had some ice chests as backup in case we lost power.  (We did not.)  The only times I so much as opened the outside door yesterday was to let the dogs out to pee, and they didn't want to go outside either.  Because both I and the wife telecommute, we don't ever worry about traffic or flooded roads nor experience the accompanying stress.  (This may be white privilege; it's certainly a benefit of our class status.)

I think it's a rite of passage living here; you have to get your car flooded out at least once in order to learn your lesson about these things.  Ours was in 1994 and this old NYT account is accurate.  This was before blogging, and there's a great tale I have to tell about getting through that storm, but not today.

Since the 1950s, Houston has seen a 167 percent increase in the heaviest downpours—defined as the number of days where total precipitation exceeded the heaviest 1 percent of all local events—one of the fastest rates of increase anywhere in the country. That’s exactly what’s expected to happen as the climate warms, since warmer air can hold more water vapor than cooler air.

An increase in the frequency of heavy rain events has long been considered one of the likeliest consequences of global warming, and a recent comprehensive National Academies report endorsed this link. Blocking weather patterns like this weekend’s may be happening more often due to climate change, boosting the likelihood of heavy rainfall events, according to a new study published last week.

This is at least the fourth major flood in the Houston area in just the past 12 months, with previous flooding events last May, June, and October pummeling Texas hard. The triangle between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio is sometimes referred to as “flash flood alley” because of its dangerous mix of hilly terrain, sprawling urbanization, and frequent heavy downpours, adding to the region’s already considerable vulnerability to climate change.

This go-around it was north Houston (from Aldine to Greenspoint) and northwest Houston (from Spring Branch to Cypress) that took it in the neck.  Less than a year ago it was my side of town, Meyerland, which still got a pretty good hit (first drone video here).

There is a great irony in the fossil fuel capital of the world being forced to endure the calamitous side-effects of the fossil fuel industry's misadventures over the past hundred years or so.  Even as oil in tank farms in Cushing, OK fills to the brim, and supertankers line up off the coast of Basra, Iraq to bring over more, Americans -- and Texans -- have reduced their consumption by switching to alternative fuels like wind and solar, and protest the mineral barons who are trying to squeeze a few more drops out of their respective lemons.

"Leave It in the Ground" doesn't seem to be resonating with the Persian Gulf oil states.

This business is as dead a man walking as your nearest Republican neighbor.  You can't tell a fucking zombie anything, though.  He just wants to eat your brain.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Green Party state convention pics, update

Thanks to the Bexar County Greens for these photos.

David Collins had this review of the business conducted.

The Green Party of Texas just concluded a packed weekend at the Grey Forest retreat in San Antonio. On Saturday (April 9), GPTX held its nominating convention for statewide offices, including the selection delegates to August's Presidential Nominating Convention in Houston. On Sunday (April 10), the Party held its annual meeting, at which the delegates assembled elected members to the State Executive Committee and passed a few resolutions regarding policy positions and internal procedures.

According to Green Party Watch, here is the Texas delegation to the Presidential Nominating Convention:
Jill Stein: 15
SKCM Curry: 3
Darryl Cherney: 2
Kent Mesplay: 2
Bill Kreml: 1

The win for Stein continues a nationwide pattern: Among states that have had their primary elections, caucuses, or conventions, Stein has won all of them. Unless something changes radically in the next three months, she will likely be nominated resoundingly on the first ballot in August.

State Offices
David Wager, longtime treasurer for the Harris County and Texas Greens, reports that all the candidates for the various state offices had their nominations confirmed:

Railroad Commissioner: Martina Salinas
Supreme Court, place 3: Rodolfo Rivera Muñoz
Supreme Court, place 5: Charles Waterbury
Supreme Court, place 9: Jim Chisholm
Court of Criminal Appeals, place 2: Adam "Bulletproof" King Blackwell Reposa
Court of Criminal Appeals, place 5: Judith Sanders-Castro

​ At Sunday's annual meeting, the delegates elected Laura Palmer of Harris County to another two-year term as co-chair. She will continue to serve along with Dallas County's Aaron Renaud, who was elected at last year's meeting. Also elected to the SEC:

Secretary: katija assata gruene, formerly known as kat swift (Bexar)
Treasurer: David Wager (Harris)
Members at-large: Antonio Diaz (Bexar), Wesson Gaige (Denton), Ona Marie Hendricks (Dallas)

Three resolutions passed and were referred to the national convention's committee.  Among them was a review of range voting for elections to public offices.

Salinas, who debated her Libertarian opponent on the day before the state convention, appears to be both standard-bearer and dreamcatcher for the GPTX in this cycle.  Her challenge is to keep the Greens on the ballot for 2018 by achieving 5% or more of the vote this November.

There's a chance that presidential nominee-in-waiting Stein could get this done for Texas Greens, and that's essentially the only reason why I would also like to see some early polling of the Texas electorate, with Trump and Clinton as the red and blue team leaders.  The Bernie or Bust movement -- such as it is -- needs to come to Jesus, but that's likely later than sooner.

Better late than never.