Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The P Slate for the runoff

I believe I have spent enough time on these to go ahead and release them now.  My list is much the same as the Tejano Dems with one exception: no endorsement in AL 5.  Sharon Moses missed it by a country mile; see below for the reason.

For Mayor, Houston: Sylvester Turner (can any Turner campaign people get me a yard sign, maybe a walk list for my two precincts?  Get in touch with me, please).

For Controller, Houston: Chris Brown.

For Houston City Council, District F: Richard Nguyen.  This incumbent needs the most help, and the Republicans will flip the seat if Democrats don't find enough Vietnamese-speaking campaign workers to turn out his vote.

For District H: Jason Cisneroz.  As mentioned before, I would prefer someone younger and more enthusiastic over someone who married into a Latino surname and is using Marc Campos as a consultant (scroll down to the end).  That guy has turned into a permanent deal-breaker for me.  No voy a votar por cualquiera de sus clientes. Nunca más.

For District J: Mike Laster.  One of the most valuable members needed back on Council.

For At Large 1: Georgia Provost.  She would be better than Mike Knox by a far cry, even if there aren't enough good reasons to elect her.  A 'hold-your-nose' pick.

For At Large 2: David Robinson.  CM Robinson needs to raise his profile a lot in order to avoid this runoff precariousness next time (if there is a next time).

For At Large 4: Amanda Edwards.  Your best choice anywhere on the ballot.  If you only voted in two citywide races -- the mayor's and this one -- your ballot would pass muster with me.

For At Large 5: NeitherHere's why I'm not voting for Moses.

For HISD Trustee, District II: Rhonda Skillern Jones.

For HISD Trustee, District III: Jose Leal.  Let's get rid of the homophobe on the board, folks.

As for predictions, the fate of many Democrats down the ballot turns on how well Turner's team gets out the vote.  This should especially be the case for candidates on the bubble, like Laster and Provost and Robinson and Moses, perhaps even Brown in the controller's race.  If Dems stay home, it could get really ugly.  I don't want to think about how ugly, either.

Early voting for the Saturday, December 12 runoff election begins on Wednesday, December 2nd (that's next week) and concludes on Tuesday, December 8.  It's already crunch time, folks.

Scattershooting World War III, and more important topics

-- "World War III" is trending again on Twitter (mostly because some dude has predicted apocalypse in June, and also because people are reTweeting 'WWIII is trending on Twitter').  But there is trouble:

I wonder if I have time to eat breakfast before we all go up in a flaming mushroom cloud.  Please be reminded, via Ted Rall, that everybody has the blood of innocent victims on their hands.

People in the West wonder where the Islamic State will strike next after the Paris attacks. Some commentators wonder aloud whether ISIS would strike a hospital, ignoring the irony that the U.S. blew up a hospital in Afghanistan recently.

-- While we wait for The End, Killer Mike had lunch yesterday with Bernie Sanders...

... and endorsed his candidacy for president at an Atlanta rally.   Egberto thinks it's a big deal, and certainly it is.  There's still a lot of ground to cover between now and, oh, Super Tuesday in March.... if you believe that the polling has not excluded a lot of millenials.

Maybe it has and maybe it hasn't.  If the polls get flipped on their ear by massive numbers of young and minority voters turning out for Sanders, then our political revolution may finally have arrived.

I'm still skeptimistic, but have a bit more hope today.

-- Worth repeating: Poor white voters aren't voting Republican; they're not voting at all.  First Draft with a little more (caustic) insight.

Nobody is talking to them. Nobody. I’m goddamn sick of hearing the condescending crap that poor white people vote against their own best interests. NO THEY DON’T. They don’t vote, period, because nobody has made them a priority. Not Republicans and not Democrats who are trying to act like Republicans, not for the last 40 years at least. Nobody has given a shit about these people since RFK and we’re gonna sit here and talk about how they’re just too dumb to know they’re going to get screwed? Thank you, no.

Where exactly are they supposed to get their information, by the way? If these people have been abandoned by politicians they’ve also been abandoned by news organizations that are supposed to be making a good faith effort to inform them. Who covers poor communities? I used to do it and I’ll tell you who does it: No one. Unless there’s a shooting, a convenient lesson to package up as a cautionary tale for scared rich suburbanites, no one covers the poorest communities in America. There’s no advertising to be sold there, no subscriptions, and certainly nobody there is signing up for the newest hyperlocal app, so fuck those places and those people, they don’t deserve the news.

This ignorance isn’t about anything other than we threw these people out and we get mad that they don’t care about what we care about. It’s nonsense. When is the last time a presidential candidate spoke to them? When is the last time a campaign put resources where it never had before and got poor people to vote? When is the last time anyone fought for them?

Democrats and/or Greens: this is your wakeup call.  Don't hit the snooze.

-- Five Republican presidential candidates will receive 60 minutes of equal time -- in exchange for Trump's SNL appearance -- during Black Friday weekend.  Via Ballot Access News and Rick Hasen, the blog linked in the excerpt below (and streamed via RSS feed into the right hand column).

Arizona's Politics is learning details on how NBC and its affiliates are giving equal time to five of Donald Trump's GOP presidential rivals, in response to his November 7 "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig. The requesting candidates -- none of whom are among those closest to him in the current polls -- will receive their 12 minutes of free airtime spread out in small chunks this coming Friday and Saturday.

A reliable source with knowledge tells Arizona's Politics that the time will be allocated on the NBC affiliates in the three earliest-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Each candidate will receive network commercial and promo time during primetime hours on "Black Friday" and Saturday, November 27 and 28, as well as during SNL on the 28th.

There are five settling candidates: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former NY Gov. George Pataki, and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

With each receiving slightly more than 12 minutes of unfiltered airtime, NBC's tab will run to approximately 120 30-second spots. No word yet on how the candidates will be using their 12:05.

Hilarious.  What will they do for Bobby Jindal, I wonder?  I suppose the front-runners will wait to get theirs later.  Update: More here, and indicating Pataki hasn't agreed to the terms, though NBC has offered the same settlement the other four took.  Which suggests the leading candidates -- and Jindal -- weren't part of the original complaint, and won't be granted any free airtime.

-- Fort Bend-area state representative and disgraced Democrat Ron Reynolds has been sentenced to a year in jail for soliciting legal clients via paid recruitment.  AKA ambulance-chasing.

According to the Houston Chronicle, which first reported the sentence, Reynolds was escorted out of the Montgomery County courtroom by deputies and taken to jail after jurors returned the sentence.

The charges stem from a 2013 sting that nabbed Reynolds, who was initially charged with felony barratry, and seven other Houston-area attorneys accused in an "ambulance chasing for hire" racket. According to prosecutors, the attorneys enjoyed the services of a four-time felon named Robert Ramirez Valdez, Sr., who would scour police reports for the names of accident victims and persuade them to sign on for legal representation. Prosecutors claimed that Valdez, who testified against Reynolds last week, was paid on average $1,000 per client referred to Reynolds' Bellaire law firm.

While the other attorneys accused of using Valdez, who's currently serving a five-year prison sentence for his part in the scheme, struck plea deals with prosecutors and avoided jail time, Reynolds insisted on taking his case to trial. He was convicted on six counts of misdemeanor barratry last year, but a judge tossed the conviction and ordered a retrial after a juror on the case claimed her decision was influenced by the fact that other attorneys had already admitted to being involved in the scheme. 

He's appealing.  Let's see if the voters in his district can get him replaced in the statehouse with someone who is less dumb and less corrupt.  Which is the same thing as saying 'not a Republican'.

-- "Why Turkey is So Awful, and How You Can Make It Better".  You still have time, Chef.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Weekly Chill Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone -- including Syrian refugees -- a happy Thanksgiving as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at Rick Perry's day in court as he tries one more time to quash the indictments against him.

Libby Shaw, contributing to Daily Kos, says the Houston Chronicle's editorial board perfectly describes Greg Abbott's stand on Syrian immigrants: "Never one to hesitate when he sees an opportunity to pander to the nativists and the narrow-minded among us, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday became one of 11 Republican governors (as of this writing) to declare his state would shut the door on Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris." Shaw writes Greg Abbott Brings Out the Worst in Texas. Again.

Stace at Dos Centavos offers a tribute to his uncle, Sheriff Jose Serna. Sheriff Serna was the first elected Mexican American sheriff in Zavala County.

There may be some lessons for Democrats to learn from Louisiana, where they elected a Democratic governor on Saturday, but PDiddie at Brains and Eggs suspects the biggest one is "Run the Bluest Dog you can find against the worst Republican you can find". And that's just a tired recipe for the same failed election results in Texas over the past twenty years.

SocraticGadfly appreciates the intent, but questions the wisdom of states making a state-by-state attempt at single-payer type national health care.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme doesn't understand why some Texas pastors go out of their way to spew hate.

Neil at All People Have Value said the value of everyday life is a good foundation for a broad movement demanding that our everyday work and relationships be given proper regard. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

TXsharon at BlueDaze says, "To Hell with your fracking indignation!"

Texas Leftist asks the right questions as to whether Houston needs a UT medical school.  (It does, but it seems to want one affiliated with the University of Houston.)

And John Coby at Bay Area Houston closes the casket lid on Chris Bell's political career.


Craig Malison writes that animal rights advocates would like you to skip the elephant rides at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Grits for Breakfast calls for police disciplinary files to be opened.

At Burnt Orange Report, Rep. Lloyd Doggett tries to walk back his vote against Syrian refugees, where he and four other Texas Democrats voted with Republicans to block their entry into the US.

Juanita Jean goes biblical on Greg Abbott's shameless announcement blocking refuge to people from Syria, Robert Rivard notes that Abbott's decision is in contradiction to Catholic teaching and practice, and Paradise in Hell annotates our governor's surrender to the terrorists.

Haley Morrison says it is our American duty to show compassion to refugees.

The Texas Election Law Blog mocks the three-federal-judge panel for its refusal to act on the ongoing redistricting litigation.

Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman touts his city's non-discrimination ordinance.

Mary Pustejovsky says no one should have to lose a loved one to an automobile accident.

Austin On Your Feet provides five lessons from the passage of a "granny flat" ordinance.

TFN Insider mentions the SBOE's defiance of fact-checkers for school textbooks.

Houston real estate blog Swamplot returns after hiatus, and is looking to ramp up with some additional reporters.

Last, Fascist Dyke Motors continues with her evolution as a Grim Reaper, but is thwarted to some degree by a date with the Crown Princess of Pareidolia.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lessons for Democrats in Louisiana

Or not.  One parable from yesterday in the Sportsman's Paradise appears to be:"Run the Bluest Dog you can find against the shittiest Republican you can find".  That should be a target-rich environment in Deep-In-The-Hearta.  But as we know, even when you pretend to be pro-gun but are still pro-choice, you can't win here.

This post is about Lou-weezy-ana, though.

... Democrat John Bel Edwards defeated disgraced Louisiana Senator David Vitter in his bid for governor to replace failed presidential candidate Bobby Jindal. Vitter was famously the center of several scandals, especially including a prostitution debacle in which he reportedly engaged in not-so-vanilla interests.

Vitter had been trailing heavily in the polls for quite some time, and pulled out all the usual Republican dogwhistle tricks, from scaremongering over Syrian refugees to his own version of the racist Willie Horton strategy, claiming that his opponent would assist President Obama in releasing “thugs” from jail.

None of it worked. Jon Bel Edwards isn’t the sort of Democrat progressives will croon over anytime soon: he is anti-abortion, pro-gun and opposed President Obama on refugees. But he’s the first Democrat to win major elected office in the South since 2009, and his victory will mean that a quarter of a million people will get healthcare who would almost certainly have been denied it under a Vitter administration. That’s definitely a good thing.

Yes, Houston and Texas Democrats are already patting themselves on the back, looking for winning clues from across the Sabine.  It's revealed in this FB post (you may not be able to see it because of his settings) that 15-minute-famous Internet star Sarah Slamen -- who went back to the Fort Bend County Democrats in 2014 after leading the campaign for Green Party's Houston city council prospect Amy Price -- helped GOTV for Edwards. (Disclosure: I knew her when we worked on Price's campaign, when she was a Green progressive.  Her hard-right turn, motivated by her personal economic and career limitations, resulted in her blocking me on social media long ago).

Anything for a paid gig, I suppose, although there has to be a lot of abandonment of progressive principle involved in going from Green to Blue to Blue Dog.  Do you suppose if they pay her enough, she'd pull a Chris Bell and work for the Republicans in 2016?  Not referring to the Goldwater Girl.

But it would be extremely premature to declare that this result bodes well for a Democratic resurgence in the South. Democrats fared far more poorly downballot from the governor’s race, proving that the John Bel Edwards’ victory owed more to Louisiana voters’ disgust with David Vitter than to sympathy for his own agenda. The example of Matt Bevin’s recent election in Kentucky shows that at least the voters who turn out in off-year cycles in the South are more than willing to deny hundreds of thousands of people their right to healthcare and other benefits. It was David Vitter’s personal troubles that hurt him badly enough to hand a Democrat an overwhelming victory.

Even Steve Stockman, Louie Gohmert, and Greg Abbott aren't as lousy as David Vitter.  Or to be clearer, David Vitter's morals.

And that itself is yet another indictment of Republican voters. David Vitter’s prostitution scandal is weird, creepy and untoward for a U.S. Senator. But a legislator’s fidelity and sexual proclivities have very little bearing on their job as a representative of the people, which is to protect the Constitution and do a responsible job providing the greatest good for the greatest number of constituents. Scapegoating refugees and denying medical care to hundreds of thousands are objectively both far greater moral crimes against common decency than a thousand trysts with sex workers. That the latter is illegal and the former is legal is a testament to the twisted moral value system perverted by puritan Calvinist ethics. Vitter should have been ousted for his overtly destructive public morality, not his far less consequential private failures.

But that’s not how Republicans roll. In their world, causing the needless deaths of thousands is fair game. Having sex with the wrong person, on the other hand, is unforgivable.

God, guns, and hatin' the gays trumps economic self-interest.  More from Tennessee, and next up is Kentucky.  First, this old toon everybody's seen.

But the actual truth -- and Dems know this as well, even if they don't want to understand why -- is that many of them are not voting at all.

It is one of the central political puzzles of our time: Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net.... The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.

But this reaction misses the complexity of the political dynamic that’s taken hold in these parts of the country. It misdiagnoses the Democratic Party’s growing conundrum with working-class white voters. And it also keeps us from fully grasping what’s going on in communities where conditions have deteriorated to the point where researchers have detected alarming trends in their mortality rates.
In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.

Why do you suppose that is?

The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.


Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans — think of Ronald Reagan’s notorious “welfare queen” — in places like Pike County [KY] it’s fueled, more and more, by people’s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families.

“It’s Cousin Bobby — ‘he’s on Oxy and he’s on the draw and we’re paying for him,’” [Jim] Cauley [Democratic political consultant] said. “If you need help, no one begrudges you taking the program — they’re good-hearted people. It’s when you’re able-bodied and making choices not to be able-bodied.” The political upshot is plain, Mr. Cauley added. “It’s not the people on the draw that’s voting against” the Democrats, he said. “It’s everyone else.”

'There's no greater hater of tobacco than a reformed smoker' syndrome.  Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice (where I found the NYT link with the excerpts posted above).

One of my much-beloved aunts is a GOP voter of the exact type described in the article, a woman who bootstrapped her way into the middle-class via education — with help from the state! — and who has nothing but contempt for the “sorry” (her term) individuals who don’t follow a similar path and only scorn for any politician who wants to redirect a portion of her income to assist them.
How do we reach people like her? Well, it has been a multi-decade project of mine, and here’s my conclusion: We can’t.
You can point out a thousand times how minuscule a portion of government spending actually goes toward welfare assistance like food stamps. You can provide irrefutable evidence that the GOP uses wedge issues to keep the flow of cash and goodies channeled upward while doing fuck-all to address working-class concerns. You can emphasize that the country, indeed these folks themselves, prosper under Democrats and take a hit during Republican administrations.

It doesn’t matter. None of these facts has the visceral weight of the example of the never-married cousin with five children who lives down the road in a squalid trailer with her pill-head, disability check-collecting boyfriend. 

Write them off; they're stupid.  But don't write the ignorant ones off, because there's at least a chance they can be educated.

I agree with the folks who advocate writing these voters off. But it’s important to remember they are only a subset of the white working class.

The NYT column’s author visited an Appalachian health clinic, where he met another subset:

In the spring of 2012, I visited a free weekend medical and dental clinic run by the organization Remote Area Medical in the foothills of southern Tennessee. I wanted to ask the hundreds of uninsured people flocking to the clinic what they thought of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, whose fate was about to be decided by the Supreme Court.

I was expecting a “What’s the Matter With Kansas” reaction — anger at the president who had signed the law geared to help them. Instead, I found sympathy for Mr. Obama. But had they voted for him? Of course not — almost no one I spoke with voted, in local, state or national elections. Not only that, but they had barely heard of the health care law.

If there’s any hope of turning red states blue again, it lies in mobilizing those non-voters. And as red regions implement shitty policies and turn into Kansas-style failed states, there will be an increasing number of red state citizens with a lot less to be complacent about.

Maybe that’s what happened in Louisiana last night — I don’t know. But I do know this: (Democrats) need those votes. (Democrats) can’t wait for demographics to save (them).

Spot on.  It's going to take a lot of hard-working young people like Sarah Slamen to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Good luck to her with that, as I'm sure she'll soon be moving on to a Hillary Clinton gig, and for Dems down the ballot it's an imperative that Hillary's GOTV efforts pay off.  Not just in the swing states but in Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, throughout the South, and all across the country.  Clue to them: the SCOTUS argument is useless.  Too complicated for the uninformed.  This article contains some real seeds of wisdom about the art of political persuasion.

Losing perhaps five or ten percent of potential Democratic voters -- whether to the Green Party or to the sofa -- because Bernie Sanders doesn't get nominated is a crumb compared to the tiered cake: the vast numbers of people that need to be re-engaged, registered, and turned out a year from now.  That's where the focus should be, not assigning blame in advance by replacing the name "Ralph Nader" with Jill Stein and holding a bitter grudge for another fifteen years.

Learn from your mistakes, Democrats.  The best place to begin would be nominating Bernie, but I don't believe you're capable of it.  So you seem to be stuck with the Aegean task of saving the heathens from themselves (and the rest of us).

Once again, best of luck.  I've done all the helping I can do in this regard.  It's on you now.

Sunday Home of the Brave Funnies

Friday, November 20, 2015

Day-after analysis of Sanders' speech

Despite the media's studious ignorance of the Georgetown event yesterday -- none, not even MSNBC, covered any of it live, and in light of the fact that several outlets televised Hillary Clinton's 'jihadism" trope-athon earlier in the day, which any Republican could have given -- the stemwinder blew up social media.  It's also spinning off a variety of conversations, one being that his young fans have to prove themselves as a voting bloc in order to be taken seriously.

But Vox has the best breakdown in this morning's Sentences, and I'll break in with some thoughts.

That link is the full text of yesterday's remarks. If you haven't already seen the video or if you don't have time to read them at the moment, jump over and give Socratic Gadfly's summary a perusal.

Might be too cerebral for the average Democrat, not to mention anybody to the right of them.  Read it anyway; it's written for fifth-graders.  Let's underscore the fact that when you hear Clintonites say, "we can't elect a socialist because of the batshit Republicans", that they are part of the problem and not the solution.  They don't get, or refuse to acknowledge, that they will be called "soshulist" also, and that if they were just bold enough to reclaim the label -- as Sanders does -- rather than continue to allow conservatives to frame it as a pejorative, then they might win an off-year election somewhere down the ballot.

And that would be something to build on.  But that's a digression.

I think I just mentioned that.

Maybe the most important history lesson Sanders conveyed.  Again, it's worth your time.  I'll note simply as matter of housekeeping that I have written that the world really turned for the worse in 1944, when a bunch of pro-business Democrats (among them Jesse Jones of Houston) gathered in a room full of smoke and pushed Henry Wallace off the Democratic ticket in favor of a stooge named Harry Truman.  It's all been slippery slope since then.  Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick tell this story better than me in their seminal series Untold History of the United States, and that's also worth binge-watching.  (If you want more along these lines then go here and here.)

The comparisons to today's state of public affairs -- with Islamophobia replacing McCarthyism as just one analogy -- are striking.

And could be -- perhaps needs to be -- more radical still.  IMHO and without much doubt, the political revolution Sanders speaks of is ultimately going to have to take place well beyond the 2016 ballot box.  Look to this recent speech by Bolivian president Evo Morales for the clue: 'To solve climate change we must abolish capitalism'.

That should be scary enough for a few oil patch Houston Democrats, yes?

Justifiably so.  Greens and actual socialists like Kshama Sawant in Seattle (she pointedly avoided specific criticism of his war hawkishness in that link) think Bernie Sanders sold out by running as a Democrat.  They think he sold out long before, really, with his votes for an F-35 production facility in Vermont and his stance on guns.  I agree with some of this and some I do not; that's another long conversation.  For this post I'll focus on the issue of the day: IS, Syria and its war refugees, and what the appropriate US and Western response should be in light of the Paris attacks.  The most telling pull-quote from Sanders yesterday was this one, from the Q&A after his speech:

Yeah, I'm a pacifist.   In fact, to coin my own oxymoron, I'm a militant pacifist. "There will be peace in our time, and I'll kill any motherfucker that tries to break it."

Something suggests Sanders will cave to the war mongers if he were to somehow be elected.  As with "not wanting to be a spoiler like Nader", this is evidence of Bernie's misguided political calculations.  He is simply not as far left as people would believe.

I'm not buying that.  His coalition is still too Caucasian to win, there's little time left to change that, and he's doomed by the Democratic establishment even if it suddenly did change.

But he's done as much as I ever hoped and expected he would do: change the conversation in this country about real political change.  Pull Hillary left a little.  It's up to those younger ideologues to keep all of it going.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bernie Sanders to speak on socialism

Democratic socialism, to be precise, although most people (including far too many Clinton Democrats) won't be able to understand what he's saying.  Regardless of Americans' glaring lack of listening comprehension, Sanders has a lot riding on the speech.  PoliticsUSA -- a somewhat unreliable outlet for news, even when it's biased my way -- reports that speech will be today.

The future of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign will be defined by a major speech that he is giving on democratic socialism and defeating ISIS at Georgetown University on Thursday.

According to the Sanders campaign, “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday will deliver remarks on democratic socialism and his vision for creating an American future based on economic and social justice and environmental sanity. His remarks will also include specific ideas on U.S. foreign policy, how the U.S. can lead the world in defeating ISIS and a long-term strategy to promote a safer and more peaceful world. The speech will take place at The Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Following his address, the Democratic Party presidential candidate will respond to questions from Georgetown University students.”

The section on defeating ISIS was added to speech because the Sanders campaign understands that many people may not be familiar with his foreign policy positions. The speech will be a major moment in the Sanders campaign. The views of Sen. Sanders have been twisted by Republican presidential candidates and misunderstood by much of the media throughout his campaign. In their view, democratic socialist has become socialist. Many in the press don’t see the distinction, so Sen. Sanders needs to educate them.

So we'll apparently learn about how hawkish Sanders is going to present himself.  His support of the F-35 and his views on gun safety have been tells in that regard.

The Paris terrorist attack has pivoted the race for the Democratic nomination away from the strength of the Sanders campaign. Bernie Sanders is at his best on the campaign trail when he is discussing income inequality and the economy, but the biggest hurdle that Sanders still needs to overcome involves name recognition and his democratic socialism.

His aides are comparing (today)’s 2 PM ET speech to President Obama’s speech on race, and the stakes are similar. This is a sink or swim moment for the Sanders campaign. If Bernie Sanders puts the questions about his democratic socialistic beliefs behind him, he could gain a new burst of momentum. If he fails, the current trajectory of the Democratic primary may accelerate towards Hillary Clinton.

No other media outlets are yet reporting the speech will be today (in a perfunctory Google search).  Their stories are all a month old, but still worth reading as they assess the challenge he faces.  Politico has fourteen things he has previously said over the years about socialism.  Here's one.

“I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have health care; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that’s the goal that we have to achieve.” 

As said previously, I don't expect any Republicans, and certainly not enough partisan Democrats, to get it.  Their reactions to the Paris terrorism, the Syrian refugees, and a lot of other history suggests to me that it's too late for them to get it.  But I'll try to be a little more optimistic.

Update: Livestream the speech here.  And full text of prepared remarks here.  Excerpt:

So the next time you hear me attacked as a socialist, remember this:

I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.

I believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of shipping jobs and profits overseas.

I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes – if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally pay the taxes they should.

I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1%, but I do believe in equal treatment for African-Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that Black Lives Matter.

I despise appeals to nativism and prejudice, and I do believe in immigration reform that gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life.

I don’t believe in some foreign “ism”, but I believe deeply in American idealism.

I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity not for some, not for the few, but for all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chris Bell and betrayal

I confess, I fell for it.  The whole "most progressive candidate in the race" thing.  The seemingly unwavering commitment to the HERO, and all the rest.  I know exactly when it began: when he hired the guy who helped Bill DeBlasio win in New York.

Today I feel duped.  Misled.  Gypped (to use a racist term).  The hornswoggling continues with statements like these:

"This runoff election is not about HERO, and it's not on the ballot," Bell said. "To try to paint Bill as some kind of right-wing zealot or hater is absolutely absurd."

That's not just false, it ignores the reality.  It is a deeply disingenuous and cynical remark that insults the intelligence of any Houstonian who's been paying attention.  Here's the infamous anti-HERO ad, reworked and on the air right now:

You see, Bell isn't stupid.  Craven, opportunistic, and for sale to the highest bidder, but not stupid.

As hard as I try not to be swindled, sweet-talked, or manipulated by the apparently insincere entreaties of candidates who seek out my advice and counsel, I am occasionally betrayed by my own naive willingness to find one who stands for something.

This is one of those times.  I drank the Kool-Aid.

This is the kind of thing that ruins politics for everybody.  Ruins friendships, trust, you name it.  These political calculations damage not only sellouts like Bell and King, but brands like "progressive", "liberal", and Democrat".  Enormous and somewhat incalculable damage is done to the body politic when deceptions of this kind are passed off as expediency.  I would go so far as to say that it's a primary reason why Democratic turnout keeps dropping, election cycle to cycle.

Frankly it's the kind of thing I held against Sylvester Turner, with his Craddick-crat business ten years ago, his reaching across the aisle repeatedly to strike deals in the Lege, etc., not to mention his latecomer status to the marriage and equality rights of the LBG and especially T community.  African Americans who voted against HERO comprise some significant portion of the electorate who put him in the runoff, and are being counted on to put him in the mayor's office.  But those who fit that description will, I suppose, have to swallow hard and hold their nose because of Turner's support of the ordinance, however muted I believed it to be during the general election period.  King, on the other hand, is wasting no time working both sides of the street, attempting to swindle HEROes and haters alike.  He's mouthing now about seeing if there's a way forward.

“I think we need some time to heal the bruised feelings on both sides,” King said. “But I absolutely intend to call all the stakeholders together at some point in time and begin a discussion about how do we best go about demonstrating to the rest of the world the kind of city Houston really is.”  

That's to the left of Turner.

Sylvester Turner has supported the equal rights ordinance throughout his campaign. But he sounds less inclined to bring it back — even a modified version — saying the voters have spoken.

“This is a democratic process,” Turner said. “The people voted on Nov. 3, and I think it’s important now to deal with a whole host of issues that are important to every Houstonian.”

Turner's also playing to his base.  'Let's stop talking about this' defines the Houston black Democrat/social conservative voter to a T.  But this post is about betrayal, and Turner's consultant Sue Davis sums it up quite well.

"Houstonians who voted for Bell are unlikely to go to King in the runoff because King's values are not theirs," Davis said in an email. "Bell got their votes because he positioned himself as a progressive. Just because Bell has changed his stripes doesn't mean his voters will."

Bell's only base of support was Meyerland in southwest Houston, my general neighborhood.  It's home to Houston's most prominent and active Democratic club, one filled with Jewish Blue Dogs.

They're not voting for Bill King no matter what Chris Bell says.  And neither am I.

Update: Charles has more (and his commenters are somewhat more than their regular delusional).

Transgender Day of Remembrance in Houston today

This evening, and at two locations on the weekend.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorates all the transgender people lost to violence during the year and is an important memorial. TDOR is normally recognized on November 20th; however, vigils and events take place during the entire week.

Here in the Houston-area there are several upcoming TDOR events. We encourage you to support the transgender community by attending one or all of these upcoming TDOR events. TDOR is incredibly powerful to participate in and will give you a deeper understanding of the reality that our transgender brothers and sisters face every day.

TDOR hosted by Trans Women of Color United for Change
Location: Progressive Open Door Christian Center
(Inside St. Luke Episcopal Church - 3530 Wheeler St.)
Date: 11/18/2015
Time: 7pm

TDOR hosted by VA Medical Center
Location: VA Medical Center
(4th Floor Auditorium, 2002 Holcombe Blvd.)
Date: 11/20/15
Time: 10am-11am

TDOR hosted by TFA/HTUC
Location: A.D. Bruce Religion Center
(at U of H - 3841 Cullen Boulevard)
Date: 11/21/2015
Time: 7pm-9:30pm

In order to dispel the hatred engendered by ignorance, there needs to be more than just one day, or one week, to acknowledge the victims of senseless violence.  And those forces of fear and loathing in Houston are, as we know, powerful and prevalent.  So Houston, again, presents itself as ground zero for change needing to be made.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First debate between King, Turner tonight and other Texas political goings-on today

In less revoltin' developments...

-- Here we go.

Representative Senfronia Thompson and The People’s United Summit are partnering with civic clubs, precinct chairs and community leaders to host "Progress Houston: A Mayoral Runoff Forum", this evening at 7 p.m. at Forest Brook Middle School (7525 Tidwell Rd, Houston, TX 77016).

Viewers will be able to watch the forum live-streamed by My Fox Houston (click to watch on November 17 during forum). Social media enthusiasts can follow up-to-the minute updates on candidates’ responses by searching the #HoustonMayorRunoff hashtag on Twitter. 

In light of Bell's endorsement, King's whisper campaign accusations of Turner being homosexual and other negative campaigning already blasting out, this promises to be a lively event.

-- John Nichols of The Nation will also speak tonight in Houston.

The Houston chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State will host The Crumbling Wall: Religion in Today’s Presidential Politics on Tuesday, 11/17, at 7:30 p.m. John will discuss the role of religion in presidential politics today and how we arrived at a point where it's hard to tell the difference between the podium and the pulpit.

Find out more at auhouston.org

-- The Texas Drought Project hosts a presser in San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and H-Town this afternoon.
Texas groups come together to announce diverse coalition
supporting Climate Resolution

Texas Drought Project will take 220+ organizational signatures
to U.N. Climate Conference
Houston—The Texas Drought Project, a non-profit founded in 2008 to educate Texans on climate change, will announce in Houston November 17th at a press conference at 1PM at the offices of T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service), 6733 Harrisburg Rd, that they have succeeded in obtaining the signatures of over 220 organizations for their resolution on climate change. The resolution calls for climate negotiators at the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris, set to begin November 30th, to heed the recommendations from the world’s top scientists in setting emissions cuts and asks that negotiators quickly move to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Co-founders Jere Locke of Austin and Alyssa Burgin of San Antonio networked through Texas environmental, human rights, educational, religious, labor, civic, student and political groups for over three months to obtain the endorsements. Signers include the League of Women Voters Texas, Lone Star Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility Texas, TEJAS, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Texas State Employees Union, Environment Texas, Texas Farmers Union, Earthworks, Public Citizen Texas, Maryknolls of Houston, Franciscan Action Network, SHAPE Community Center, Air Alliance Houston, Houston Peace and Justice Center, and many, many more. “But we couldn’t have done this without the help of Texans across the state,” Locke emphasizes. “People think of Texas as this conservative, oil-dominated state, but people understand the dire threat we face from climate change unless something is done now.” Burgin agrees, “We were gratified to see the response, and we’re hoping that this resolution will generate a major discussion—proving that citizens in the reddest-of-the-red states care about the future of their children and their grandchildren.”

Speakers at the Houston event include representatives of the following endorsing organizations: League of Women Voters of Texas (Laura Blackburn), Sierra Club Houston(Evelyn Merz), National Nurses United, T.E.J.A.S.(Bryan Parras), Rice University Student Association (Michael Donatti) and the Texas Drought Project(Jere Locke). Each will discuss the concerns which brought their organization to join this effort. The importance of this U.N. Climate Conference will be outlined, providing a preview into events taking place later this month. Lists of signers will be furnished, along with a copy of the resolution.

I plan on being at the the second two events and not the debate, but will reTweet some of the faceoff between Turner and King as it happens.

Update: Let's not overlook the Clinton campaign's Dallas event today.

Tomorrow, November 17th, Hillary Clinton will return to Texas for a grassroots organizing event in Dallas. During the event, she’ll lay out why she’s running, who and what she’ll fight for as President. Clinton’s trip will be her latest effort to build and organize support ahead of the March 1st Texas Primary.

Clinton visited Houston in June for a speech on voting rights, and held a ‘Latinos for Hillary’ grassroots event in San Antonio last month.

Members of the public interested in attending can RSVP here

WHERE: Mountain View College, Gymnasium, 4849 W Illinois Avenue, Dallas, TX 75211

WHEN: Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 at 1:15 PM CDT