Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wendy Davis is TPA's 'Texan of the Year'

Big surprise, eh?

The Texas Progressive Alliance, the nation's largest state-based association of online and netroots activists, today named State Senator Wendy Davis recipient of its Texan of the Year Award for 2013.

"Senator Davis' actions this year made her a clear choice. Our vote was unanimous," said Vince Leibowitz, Chair of the Alliance. Leibowitz said Senator Davis' June filibuster of Senate Bill 5 on behalf of Texas women and the preservation of reproductive rights was a courageous action that served to galvanize and energize Texas Democrats. "Senator Davis' courage to stand up and block this outrageous legislation helped raise awareness in Texas of the assault on a woman's right to choose that our legislature has waged for the last decade, as well as the extraordinary measures right-wing Republicans in Texas will take both to trample the rights of women and their own colleagues in government," Leibowitz continued.

Not only did Davis' actions draw national attention to Texas, but her filibuster and subsequent campaign for Texas Governor have galvanized Texas Democrats. "We have not seen this kind of excitement for a non-presidential election in Texas in many years. We see Democrats are energized, organized, and ready to take back our state for the people. To a great extend, we have Senator Davis and her courageous actions to thank for this; she served as a unifying figure for our party to rally around, and her actions will both strenghthen the party in the long run and serve to expand our base," said Charles Kuffner, Vice Chair of the Alliance.

Previous Texan of the Year recipients are: Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC (2006); Texas House Democratic Leaders State Reps. Jim Dunnam, Garnet F. Coleman, and Pete Gallego (2007); the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign (2008); Houston Mayor Annise Parker (2009); Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns (2010); and the protesters of the Tar Sands Blockade (2012). There was no award given in 2011.

We also had to briefly consider a non-Texan named Cruz, who got somewhat more than 15 minutes' worth of fame out of reading Green Eggs and Ham during a filibuster of his own... but humbly chose to give all the glory to God President Obama instead.

So Ted's the biggest loser.  Again.

Honorable mentions for Texan of the Year have to include Leticia Van de Putte for her own significant role in Davis' filibuster; Sarah Slamen, aka @VictorianPrude, who burst on the national scene just prior to LVDP and Davis doing so; Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood; Annise Parker (as previously mentioned, the TOY winner in 2009); and Beyonce' (yes, Beyonce').

There's a clear trend with these selections, just in case you're not seeing it -- in which case, and to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a Republican.  I saw a great button the other day, and it said: "Women brought every single politician into this world... and they can take them out."

Here comes the future.

Picking your ducks, and picking your battles

There's not too many country-ass expressions I'm unfamiliar with, but recently I had to ask myself WTF does "pick your ducks" mean.  And I found the answer.

Before (Phil) Robertson issued these disgusting immoral words, I knew what 'picking ducks' meant. My Mama had told me a story that illustrated what a nasty task this was.

Chickens, ducks, and other birds have to be picked of their feathers before they are eaten. This is not an easy task. I have picked chickens and that's enough for me. The big feathers you see are the easy part. The real work begins when you remove the pin feathers. They are the tiny new feathers just breaking through the skin. You can torch them with a brûlée torch, use hot wax, or just pull them out with pliers one by one.

Ducks are especially hard to pluck because of the number of pin feathers. Once the larger feathers are removed, the duck is basically covered with down. Those are the pin feathers you have to get rid of. They are endless. The story my Mama told me involved a lot of these elements.

The first thing you need to realize when reading this is that my Grandmama didn't cuss. She wasn't a goody-two-shoes, but cussing was just not in her repertoire. I never heard her cuss and none of the relatives I grew up with had either. That made it all the more remarkable when she did.

One summer, my Mama, her sister, and my Grandmama were on the back stoop of the house picking chickens. Of course they gossiped the entire time and it was not such an unpleasant task. They had finished picking the chickens, and were beginning to clean up the area.

My uncle appeared at this moment and dumped 6 ducks he had killed on the back stoop. The three women just looked at a pile of hours that had been added to their day.

This is when my Grandmama uttered her immortal words. She looked at that pile of ducks for a looooong time. Then she said "I'll be shot with shit and killed for stinking." The other women were now in complete shock after hearing her speak.

So 'picking ducks' was a bad enough task that my Grandmama cussed about it. That's what Robertson meant. Marry the girls young before they realize what a nasty task it is. They'll be more pliable about doing it and a lot of other things.

Since Robertson has added 'pedophile' to his resume' alongside 'racist' and 'homophobe', it's safe to say that this culture war is on for 2014.  So with that, let's all get ready to welcome the Fucked-Up Dynasty crew to Houston this spring.

Stars from the hit A&E reality television show "Duck Dynasty" are coming to the Bayou City in March.
Northland Christian School is bringing the famous family to Houston for a special event called "Dynasty Forever." It will be hosted at Champion Forest Baptist Church.

The main event will feature testimonies from Willie and Alan Robertson. They will be joined by Willie’s wife Korie, their teenagers Sadie and John Luke, and Alan’s wife, Lisa. All six family members will take part in a Q&A session led by event emcee Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm.

The event is scheduled for March 22.

I picked this off of Ray Hill's Facebook feed, and he has some choice words for those who may or may not be planning a protest... that will surely gain momentum now.  Hill also has a piece in the Chron with greater elaboration (link to come).

I hope HPD's equestrian brigade gets plenty of rest before spring break.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Why a 2013 Houston mayoral candidate is running for a West Texas Congressional seat in 2014

After I posted the list of Texas Green Party candidates running for office next year, I had a query from Charles in the comments here -- and saw this post of Ted's -- questioning the rationale of former Houston mayoral candidate Don Cook running for US Representative in CD-13, a west Texas district that includes Lubbock and Amarillo.  I reached out to Cook and received the following reply from him (with minor edits for style and brevity)...

1) The narrow political agenda:  As always, I want to promote the party that is out to save, or at least help maximally, humanity.  What this means to me, from where I am in Texas, is maximizing the GP's electoral presence in Texas.  I intend to mainly help other candidates, but since we have ballot access in Texas I wanted to add one more candidacy to the list.  Seeing that all our stay-on-the-ballot bases were otherwise covered, but fearing (without cause it turns out) that we might actually fall short of our record breaking numbers in the previous cycle of county, state, and federal elections, I was looking for the right office for me.

2) The personal comfort zone:  I found the mayoral race in Houston this year rather exhausting, financially expensive, and humbling -- not to mention the stress on my family life -- for the miniscule (which is to say virtually nonexistent) rewards.  Monetary obligations at this point are not great, but they are still not totally resolved.  I wanted a low maintenance race.  If you are just going to be a name on a ballot, nothing is more low maintenance than a Congressional race.  One doesn't have to live in the district to run; one must only relocate if one wins, so one can file for any Congressional seat in the state.  You don't have to file any campaign finance reports until you raise over $5,000, and I don't plan on raising any money.

3) Why District 13?

a. I won't say 13 is a lucky number for me -- earlier this month, on Friday the 13th, I fell off a treadmill and knocked a cap off one of my front teeth -- but the superstitious part of me seems to expect and enjoy challenge from the number.

b. Wikipedia described CD-13 as the most conservative congressional district in Texas.  It occurred to me that the Dems might not have a candidate, and that maybe I could get a boost from being the only liberal-progressive-radical on the ballot in that race.  Unfortunately there is a Democrat running.  So it goes.  If some other Green had wanted that race, I would have as gladly sought another.

4) Advantages of District 13:

a. No other Greens were running for it

b. It is in a part of Texas where the GP is thin.  Voters in those counties will see one more GP candidate on the ballot than they would have had I not declared.

c. It is too far away for me to consider door-to-door campaigning or expect any debate invitations.

d. I and others are considering comedy and other performance material to promote the GP in the coming year, and this could be a source of material. "Hi, I'm Don Cook and I'm the Green Party candidate for Texas Congressional District 13, in northwest Texas because it turns out you don't have to live in a congressional district to be elected to represent it..."

e. I can make the case that since you don't even have to live in the district you represent when you run for Congress, we should go a step further: eliminating all Congressional districts and, using a single transferable vote in the multi-seat or proportional representation model, allow all the voters across the state to vote for all 36 seats.  (Winners only need 1/36th of the vote plus one vote to win!)

5) If my fellow Greens are appalled by my action, they have only to vote for "None of the above" rather than me at the nominating convention, and I will not get the party nomination.

Many Democrats and Republicans over the years have run for Congress while living outside the boundaries of the district which they chose to seek... though typically they do so in districts closer together than those which represent Houston and Amarillo/Lubbock.  Here's just one recent example (click to enlarge).


The "carpet-bagger" argument against this sort of thing is only slightly less effective in election seasons following redistricting, especially in 2012, when district maps underwent several court challenges and revisions.  The final result so confused Mr. Cargas (above) that he advocated for the Texas Medical Center -- in neither CD-7 where he was running nor CD-2 where he resides, but CD-9 -- in his meeting with the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle, a comedy-of-errors circumstance I detailed in this post.

But I'll stop making a piñata of Cargas for now -- he will present plenty of opportunities to do so later on, after all --  and wait for the inevitable tsk-tsking of Cook's filing from others, mostly in the blogosphere, to apend here later.

I can appreciate the case Cook makes: that it is absurd not to require someone running for Congress to live in the district they seek to represent.  It goes without saying that Cook is an unconventional candidate running for office in a political party that gets mostly overlooked by mainstream media outlets across the state.  If all that is left for him to do in order to call attention to himself is things like bridge blogging and skits, then he seems well-seasoned to endure the ridicule of the conventional "wisdom".

God forbid the corporate media write anything about Green Party candidates or races; the Texas Tribune (yes, corporate media) still hasn't updated their brackets with all of the Greens' statewide candidates.

So anything beyond the historical response -- ignoring alternative parties, races, and candidates, in other words -- probably qualifies as progress.

And Harold Simmons makes three

Leo Linbeck Jr. and Bob Perry were the other two who bit the dust this year, ICYMI.

Dallas billionaire and heavyweight GOP political donor Harold Simmons, who has given tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has died. He was 82.

Simmons managed some contributions to both Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ organizations, but will be best remembered for funding what became known as the Swift Boat attacks, along with Bob Perry and T. Boone Pickens.

Simmons donated $2 million to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose advertisements against Mr. Kerry, the Democratic candidate for president, included one impugning his military service as a Swift boat captain during the Vietnam War. The allegations were later discredited. Mr. Simmons gave heavily to other groups through the Dallas-based Harold Simmons Foundation, which is run by two of his daughters, Lisa Simmons and Serena Simmons Connelly.

Funny thing about Mr. Simmons' daughters.

It turns out that at least one of Simmons' daughters, Serena Connolly, is a max-out donor to both Senators Clinton and Obama. She wrote her first check to Senator Obama in the 2nd quarter of 2007.

Another Simmons daughter, Lisa Epstein, has donated to Democrats in the past.

So Rick Perry and Greg Abbott and all the rest of the Republican one-percenters sucking at the moneyed teats of these recently-deceased men are going to have their heir-groveling work cut out for them in 2014.  Leo Linbeck III might also be a difficult mark for them; he's cut from a similar bolt of cloth as his dad, but appears to be the Republican equivalent of a disruptor company.  From a two-year-old Mother Jones story about the man and his PAC...

... (T)he Campaign for Primary Accountability isn't your typical super-PAC, and its top donor, Houston construction magnate Leo Linbeck III, isn't your typical conservative sugar daddy. While groups like American Crossroads and Priorities USA have sprouted up in the last two years to boost specific values and candidates, the CFPA has a different goal entirely: electoral mayhem.

Led by Linbeck, the group's aim is to use the power of the purse to do what political parties and state redistricting panels won't—make congressional races competitive again. CFPA, which has raised $1.8 million to date, is targeting at least 10 Republican and Democratic incumbents in half a dozen states, with plans to increase that number over the next few months. And it's starting to work. The group has taken credit for the Super Tuesday defeat of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and the retirement of another Republican, Dan Burton of Indiana.

Much more worth reading at that link.  If indeed there aren't other conservative billionaires willing to step up to replace these three, then the GOP is in even bigger trouble than previously imagined.

Update: Chris Tomlinson of the AP has more.

2013's final Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance bids farewell to 2013 and wishes everyone a happy and healthy 2014 as it brings you this week's roundup.


Off the Kuff has stayed on top of the legal action in the Utah same sex marriage litigation and related matters.

Texpatriate picks Annise Parker as its 2013 Person of the Year.

DosCentavos gives us the last Thoughts on Viernes of 2013 which includes his Top 10 posts of 2013.

From the media's impression, it's pretty easy to think that all faith communities are against LGBT people and the struggle for equality. But in reality the religious debates are just as diverse as the ones going on elsewhere, with opinions changing just as rapidly as any other segment of society. Texas Leftist takes a look at one Houston church that is affecting this change while enlightening hearts and minds. As they would say: "traditional worship for contemporary people".

The Texas Education Agency totally ignores South Texas. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is outraged, but not surprised at Republican denial of education opportunities for Texas Hispanics.

There was some gay marriage news made at the end of 2013, and it had nothing to do with Duck Die Nasty, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value took a walk on the Texas City Dike. Neil says that the TCD is a great place to get some thinking done. All People Have Value is a part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Laura Mayes sets a goal of spending more quality time with the children in her life.

Lone Star Q rounds up the top Texas LGBT stories for 2013.

Texas Redistricting collects some recent news stories relating to election law.

Grits for Breakfast reminds us that "Santa was in prison, and Jesus got the death penalty".

Greg calculates updated Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) totals for Harris County.

Andrea Grimes reports on a Texas law that is forcing a hospital and a family to keep a pregnant woman on life support against her stated wishes.

New Media Texas outlines the six steps to getting a job in politics.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Gay Marriage Headlines

-- First let's acknowledge that while the conservatives have won Duck Dynasty, the progressives won New Jersey, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Hampshire, Hawaii, New Mexico... and Utah.

I suppose we can live with that record.  So while there are many fronts across the country in the War on Marriage Traditional Family Values Bigotry, let's see what developed in Houston over the past week.

-- Annise Parker busted two moves: she filed to transfer the lawsuit against her decree to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees out of that family court...

City Attorney David Feldman filed a “Notice of Removal” on Friday saying the lawsuit belongs in U.S. district court instead of state court because it raises federal questions, including the guarantees of equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution. The notice of removal says (GOP Judge Lisa) Millard, who presides over the 310th State District Family Court, failed to notify Parker and the city before holding a hearing at 5 p.m. on Dec. 17 — the same day the lawsuit was filed — and issuing an order halting the benefits.

... and she asked her partner, Kathy Hubbard, to marry her next month.

The source, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Parker and Hubbard plan to wed in Palm Springs, Calif., in January. "I heard it from her own lips," the source said.

The mayor's wedding plans were reported earlier Friday by the website CultureMap.

Congrats to the happy couple.

-- Texpate notes that city employees have already filed suit over benefits they are paying for that the family court judge blocked.

KPRC reports that a local couple has sued the City of Houston after their full spousal benefits have been revoked. As the astute may recall, last month Mayor Parker announced that all legally married couples (includes those of the same-sex) could provide full spousal benefits from the City if one member of the couple worked for the municipality. Only three couples initially signed up for these benefits, including Noel Freeman (a City employee) and Brad Pritchett. Many will probably remember Freeman, the President of the Houston GLBT Caucus and previous candidate for the City Council, and Pritchett, an official with the Harris County Democratic Party. Shortly thereafter, officials with the Harris County GOP sued the City of Houston in attempt to enjoin the offering of these benefits; they were successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order to this effect until mid-January.

Here's the News2Houston video.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Charles has more on lawsuits and such.

-- The 1993 Houston Oilers, subjects of an NFL documentary and some more recent extended play in the Chronic, had at least two gay players.  Their teammates knew, and it wasn't a big deal.

See, acceptance and tolerance isn't something new and progressive.  It also isn't 'in anybody's face' or 'crammed down their throat'.

Greg Abbott is soooo going to hate it when this becomes an issue in the 2014 governor's race.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Regulators axe Texas super PAC that lived up to its name

Secretive Politics.

In a letter dated Dec. 4, the Federal Election Commission tells Secretive Politics that it faces "administrative termination" for what amounts to its refusal to file mandatory financial disclosures.

Since registering with the FEC in August 2012, Secretive Politics has lived up to its name. It's been incommunicado with federal regulators. Repeated calls and emails by the Center for Public Integrity to its only known official, treasurer June Walton, have likewise gone unreturned.

The super PAC also uses a "virtual office" in Sugar Land, Texas, a Houston suburb. There, operators charge clients $350 a month for a mailing address, live receptionist and access to a conference room — but no physical office space. Its listed website and email address don't work.

Sugar Land.  Home of Tom DeLay and Kesha Rodgers.  The most diverse MSA in the nation, on the verge of turning blue, is also the home of King Street Patriots and True the Vote founder Catherine Englebrecht.

It's unclear whether Secretive Politics has engaged in political activity. It may have been raising and spending money, flouting federal regulators all the while. Or, just as likely, it existed in name only — like several hundred effectively dormant super PACs that have materialized since 2010, when the Citizens United v. FEC and SpeechNow.org v. FEC federal court decisions gave rise to such political committees.

I'm sure it's nothing. They probably only wanted to gauge the swiftness and harshness of the regulatory response. "Secretive Politics" is likely just another conservative pile of crap in a cow pasture that sprouts psychedelic mushrooms after a hard rain.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Malala Yousafzai and Jon Stewart

Worth revisiting.

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for womens rights and access to education, appeared on the Daily Show (in October), ahead of Friday's announcement for the 2013 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her answer to one of Jon Stewart's questions left him speechless.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning News of the World

-- In light of yesterday's Christmas card from Banksy, this.

Israeli military forces launched a series of attacks in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to suspected Palestinian sniper fire that killed an Israeli civilian doing repair work on the border fence, military authorities said.

A 3-year-old Palestinian girl was killed and members of her family were injured in an airstrike on the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, according to local reports.

They were some of the heaviest strikes in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since a weeklong Israeli military campaign ended with a November 2012 cease-fire.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and As-Salamu alaykum to everyone in the Middle East.

-- Three Wise Women:


-- Remember that the reason for the season is that on or around the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, people decorated trees, gave each other gifts, and had a feast... which eventually morphed into Christians celebrating the birth of a poverty-stricken Jewish boy who grew up to become a carpenter.  Or a fisher of men.  Or something.

-- Last, Merry Christmas from Edward Snowden.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Little Wall of Bethlehem


"Dammit Mary, I'm not lost! Get off your ass and lead us somewhere else, then. Maybe you can ask the Father of the child for some guidance ..."

"You putz! I'm having labor pains here. Jesus CHRIST, this kid is going to be born in a barn at the rate we're going ..."

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Christmas Eve Eve Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes its readers a very Merry Christmas. Here's the roundup of blog posts from TPA members as we prepare to celebrate the holiday with friends and family.


Off the Kuff wants to know why no one is taking responsibility for enforcing voting rights in Texas.

Eye On Williamson digs deeper into how the Democrats in Texas must move the policy discussion back to the left, so it can get to where it needs to be. More on Democratic message strategy in Texas in The Overton Window.

After the blogosphere's sudden realization that next year's Houston City Council will have just two female members, Texas Leftist decided it was time for a more in-depth look at diversity in the Bayou City's municipal government, with some invaluable help from Charles Kuffner. And surprisingly, we're not as diverse as we appear to be.

"What the Duck?!" asked PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. The reality show quacks opened a new front in the culture wars, and just in time for Christmas! While everyone quarreled about it on Facebook and Twitter, the US Senate quietly re-authorized the federal government to continue detaining Americans indefinitely. The real outrages again get supplanted by the fake ones, as the USA! USA! hurtles toward Idiocracy.

The Republican war on women continues with voter ID cards. Who wouldn't love to see their ex-husband's name branded on their voter ID. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to you imagine the horror.

Neil at All People Have Value said resistance to a wicked culture is an everyday thing and is hopeful.  All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texpatriate releases a list of Best and Worst members of the Houston City Council.

And here's some more of the best of the left of Texas from last week.

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Progress Texas released their Ten Best List, and Bay Area Houston posts his Christmas Wish List.

The Salon of Somervell County notices that Obama and the Democrats in Washington are moving on immigration reform.

Socratic Gadfly observed that Rick Perry crony Phil Wilson, the former head of TXDoT, got appointed to another post in the final year of the Goodhair administration.

This payday lending post is for you, Greg Abbott, says nonsequiteuse.

New Media Texas has Beyonce's Guide to Increasing Civic Engagement.

And finally, the TFN Insider has 2013's War on Science year in quotes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

While you were quarreling about Duck Dynasty, the Senate passed NDAA

It still includes the indefinite-detention-for-Americans provision, and omits Sen. Gillibrand's clause on prosecutions of military sexual assaults.

Yesterday the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act was fast-tracked through the Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments. And you know, it's Christmastime, so they just passed it so that they could recess for the holidays. The new version of the NDAA has already been quietly passed by the House of Representatives.

It authorizes massive spending, including $527 billion in base defense spending for the current fiscal year, funding for the war in Afghanistan, and funding for nuclear weapons programs.

The indefinite detention allowed by the original NDAA is still there, and it’s actually worse now, because there are provisions that will make it easier for the government to target those who disagree. Section 1071 outlines the creation of the “Conflict Records Research Center”, where the unconstitutionally obtained information that the NSA has collected is compiled and shared with the Department of Defense. The information, called in the wording “captured records,” can be anything from your phone records, emails, browsing history or posts on social media sites.

I see on my Facebook wall this morning that people are still staking claims to righteousness, for and against the Duck Commander and his God-fearing brood.

Personally, I have had my fill of that "controversy".  If Americans left and right cannot pull their heads out of their asses and start talking -- and doing something -- about the things that will make an actual difference in their lives, then there's no hope for this nation.

None.  It's only Idiocracy that lies ahead.

Texas Greens release full 2014 candidate list

The statewide top-of-the-ballot was previously revealed; this latest list contains statewide judicials and downballot Congressional and local races.  A press release is forthcoming, but for now the spreadsheet has the names, offices, and contact data.  Some of the highlights...

-- As surmised, the Greens filed for three statewide judicial slots left unfilled by the Texas Democratic Party. Those are...

  • Jim Chisholm of Houston, for Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Place 8.
  • Judith Sanders-Castro of San Antonio, for Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4.
  • George Joseph Altgelt of Laredo, for Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9.

In addition, Charles E. Waterbury of Dallas is running for Place 7 on the Texas Supreme Court.  Waterbury and Chisholm stood for office in 2012; I wrote about them both, and those SCOTX races, in this post.

-- The Congressional Greens include -- as I was tipped -- Remington Alessi, who is challenging Sheila Jackson Lee in CD-18.  (Jackson-Lee has also drawn a repeat Democratic  primary foeUpdate: He's not actually a Democrat, which you can verify if you click that link and listen to him being interviewed by Michael Berry.)  Mark Roberts will again run against Ted Poe in CD-2.  George Reiter, the co-chair of the Harris County Green Party and a UH professor (he also has a radio show on KPFT) will take on Congressman Al GreenDon Cook, fresh off his bid for Houston mayor, submits his name in CD-13, where the incumbent Mac Thornberry has two Republican primary challengers, and then a Democrat and a Libertarian in the fall of 2014.  And kat swift of San Antonio, the GPTX's matriarch, filed against Lloyd Doggett in CD-35.  The Greens will also have a candidate in the race to replace Steve Stockman in CD-36; he is Hal J. Ridley Jr. of Bridge City.

-- Austin legislative candidates include, for District 10 of the Texas state Senate (the one being vacated by Wendy Davis), John Tunmire of Fort Worth.  David Courtney, the husband of the Green Party's lieutenant governor nominee, will run once more against Joan Huffman in SD-17.

State representative challengers are eight in number across the state and include Art Browning, again challenging Republican Allen Fletcher  in HD-130, and Morgan Bradford, the only opponent to Rep. Borris Miles in HD-146.

-- There are four Green candidates for County Judge across the state: David Collins in Harris (Ed Emmett, incumbent), Paul Pipkin in Bexar (Nelson Wolff, inc.); Jeff Questad in Travis (Samuel Biscoe, inc., retiring) and Frank Cortez in Webb (Danny Valdez, inc.).

There are also four Greens running for County Clerk: Earl Lyons in Bexar (Gerry Rickhoff, incumbent); Bill Stout in Travis (Dana DeBeauvoir, inc.); Matthew Hanson in Comal (Joy Streater, inc.); and Schyler Butler in Denton (Cynthia Mitchell, inc.).

-- Houston attorney Clint Davidson is a candidate for for Harris County Court of Criminal Law #13.  He has a blog titled "Trouble is My Business".

-- All of the 51 Texas Green Party candidates on the 2014 ballot can be found here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What the Duck?

-- As far as Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty goes... well, God has spoken.

Robertson is a run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen Southern fried bigot and Bible thumper, but he also has a master's degree in education.  If you don't think he is manipulating the gulliblemics who watch his show in order to get more money from whichever broadcast outfit picks it up when they all quit A&E... then you might not have all the facts.

Republicans slobber all over themselves when these culture "wars" break out.  It's yet another opportunity to distract their base from the screwing they're being given by the likes of Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and all the rest.  The best thing that can be said about this latest eruption is that there will be fewer Fox News "exposayz" on the "War on Christmas".

The best thing the rest of us can do is to stop responding with anything but ridicule to these obvious distractions.  If it's not handshakes, it's selfies.  Last week it was Megyn Kelly, this week it's Robertson.  There will be something and someone new next week too, because stubborn ignorance never takes a holiday.

Republicans won't have a chance of winning any contested elections next year unless they can sustain the Tea Party outrage for the next twelve months.  Let's stop letting the morons and bigots set the ground rules for 'discussion'.  And the best way to do that is to just laugh at them.

Really.

When some conservative brags about how strong Fox News' ratings are, remind them that a great deal of that audience is liberals tuning in for the comedic value.  When they post pictures of Obama bowing, remind them that it was W who kissed the Saudi leader, King Abdullah, on the mouth and held his hand.  (Sure, W is gay, everybody knows it except him, but the King isn't.  You can bank that.)


And when they scream that suspending Robertson is a violation of his First Amendment rights, just remind them that A&E -- and parent companies Hearst and Disney -- are not the federal government. Tell them to pull out their pocket copy of the US Constitution and read it, for God's sake.

And last, when they call Robertson a God-fearing Christian, show them this.

Mrs. Michael Berry now Texas Secretary of State

Congratulations on the appointment, and let's expect things to work out for the best.

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday appointed Houston lawyer Nandita Berry to be secretary of state, succeeding John Steen Jr. of San Antonio, who announced his resignation this month.

Berry's appointment, effective Jan. 7, will make her the first Indian-American to hold the position of chief elections officer for Texas, Perry said.

"Nandita Berry personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication in the state of Texas," Perry said in a statement announcing the appointment. She was 21 when she arrived from India "with nothing but $200 to her name" and has become "one of the most accomplished attorneys in the state."

"I am truly humbled to follow in the footsteps of Stephen F. Austin, Texas' first secretary of state," Berry said in a statement. "Like him, I came to Texas in search of a better life and the limitless opportunities to be found across our great state."

Berry has been on the University of Houston board of regents as a Perry appointee but resigned that post to become secretary of state, according to the governor's office. She is senior counsel at Locke Lord LLP, a position the firm said she also will resign.

Mrs. Berry will be the state's 107th SoS.  In years past it was a springboard to statewide elective office, with people like John Hill, Martin Dies, Bob Bullock, and Mark White serving in the post.  George W. Bush's appointees included Alberto Gonzales.  Rick Perry has appointed eight different men and women to the position in his 13 years as governor; they have been less than stellar individuals, as he has used the office -- like all the rest of his appointments -- to reward loyal cronies.  Perry's most infamous SoS to date was his first: Geoff Connor, a man around whom the governor's own homosexuality controversy has swirled.

The problem with all the turnover is that it is a tough and controversial job, and those who serve in the position seem to tire quickly of it and quit.

As secretary of state, Nandita Berry will be the state's chief elections officer as well as the governor's liaison on border and Mexican affairs and the state's chief protocol officer for state and international matters. The secretary of state's office also is the repository for business records, among other responsibilities.

Yeah, that elections oversight thing.  Kind of a biggie.  Mrs. Berry will be working with county elections officials like Harris County tax assessor/collector Mike Sullivan next year on things like interpreting and applying the photo ID statutes, a contentious enough task in its execution in 2013.  That probably won't be her biggest immediate kerfuffle, however.

She is married to radio talk-show host and former Houston City Councilman Michael Berry, who drew attention in 2010 for saying on his show he hoped that if a mosque were built near the New York City site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that it would be blown up. He later apologized for his words but maintained that the mosque should not be built. He also has referred to Houston Mayor Annise Parker as Annise "Porker," and refers to liberals as "libtards."

In 2012, Berry -- a one-time candidate for mayor of Houston -- struck another vehicle as he was leaving a gay bar.  HPD investigated the incident as a hit-and-run, but the Harris County DA's office declined to press a charge.  Video cameras in the bar caught Berry on his way in to watch a drag show.  (I blogged about the incident here; that post is among the top ten most-clicked in Brains' ten-plus-year history.)

That's not the only dirt one can find on Mr. and Mrs. Berry, however.  Here's a link from 1992 and the archives of the Daily Cougar, the University of Houston's newspaper, about Michael and Nandy when they were students there.  (The formatting on the web page has all but collapsed; scroll to the end and then up to the headline "SA CANDIDATES TRADE BARBS, CLAIM 1991 ISSUES FORGOTTEN", written by Frank San Miguel.)  I'll just excerpt the relevant portion; you can click over if you want the full context.

Last summer, (SA Vice President Andrew) Monzon accused (SA President Michael) Berry of overpaying executive secretary and girlfriend Nandita Venkateswaran and causing problems with former Administrative Secretary Doris Ayyubi. Monzon told senators that he had written a letter to Dean of Students Willie Munson, SA advisor, that the organization was being "split into two factions of untrusting parties."

Michael Berry is the kind of fellow who creates controversy everywhere he goes.  Has all his life. He thrives on it, in fact.  Will his spouse allow his reputation for antagonism, dissension, strife, and poor judgment affect her administration of one of Texas' most important offices?

We'll just have to wait and see.  Nandita Berry seems to be an accomplished person in her own right; whether she allows or enables her husband to influence her work in the Office of Secretary of State remains to be seen.  If she wants to be in the headlines for something other than running a good, clean election next year... well, some of us will be waiting to write about that.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Republican Senators, the budget deal, and the unemployed


Profiles in Cowardice.

Eleven of the 12 sitting Republican senators facing re-election next year voted against the bipartisan budget agreement, which passed Wednesday with 64 votes. 

The “No” votes included:

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana
Sen. James Risch of Idaho
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma
Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi

The only Republican senator facing re-election in 2014 who supported the agreement was Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate who will likely not face a serious primary challenge next spring.

The budget deal -- the first one passed by the Senate in over four years in almost nine months -- did not fund benefits for the long-term unemployed, but does blunt the short-term effects of the sequester, particularly for defense contractors.  The conservatives moaned and groaned anyway.

Before the vote, many outside groups on the right, notably the Club for Growth, Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, panned the budget plan and promised to punish lawmakers who supported it. (The bill, which sets spending levels through fiscal year 2015, would replace much of the budget caps instituted in the Budget Control Act. The move would effectively loosen up much of the spending restrictions under “sequestration,” a policy many conservatives generally liked because it reined in federal spending.)

When the attitude of some in the GOP is to put children to work mopping floors at their schools in exchange for lunch, you can understand why the Scrooges and Grinches this holiday season seem even more hard-hearted than usual.


Egberto is much harsher on the Democrats in the budget negotiation than I am.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Payday lenders lose

They don't lose much, but at least they got beaten.

It wasn’t even close. Today, the Houston City Council voted 15-2 to join every other major Texas city except one (hello, Fort Worth) in regulating payday loan companies.

Last month, Houston Mayor Annise Parker dropped a compromise plan, saying she wanted “a united front” with other Texas cities.

The lopsided vote surprised some Council observers, who had at least expected a procedural move to delay the vote. Instead, seesawing councilmembers said they felt city action was necessary in light of the Texas Legislature’s failure to do much of anything to rein in the payday loan industry.

The "procedural move" would have been a 'tag' by CM James Rodriguez, who has distinguished himself in the worst possible way with regard to the payday lending ordinance.

One of the ‘nay’ votes came from Councilmember Helena Brown, aka “Helena Handbasket,” who rails against funding for things like AIDS prevention. The other ‘nay’ was Councilmember James Rodriguez, who evidently was unpersuaded by a withering column this morning (“This payday loan column is for you, Councilman Rodriguez”) by the Chronicle‘s Lisa Falkenberg in which she checks out Rodriguez’s claim that his constituents are unconcerned about the issue by, you know, talking to his constituents.

[...]

Rodriguez, who is on his way out of office and is tied to a Cash America lobbyist, has been real cute about his post-council plans, laughingly telling Falkenberg that he’s “keeping all options open” when asked whether he plans to go into the payday loan business.

My friend Neil called it like it is on FB yesterday.

Is it any surprise that Councilman James Rodriguez -- who was a force behind the repulsive anti-food sharing ordinance -- is now leading opposition to City of Houston regulation of the payday lending industry? I've long thought Mr. Rodriguez a lousy public servant. His imminent departure from City Council will benefit Houston. 

To refresh: Rodriguez is a member of the Carol Alvarado/Marc Campos gang, affectionately referred to as "We Know How to Lose and Not Get Things Done", which just lost another city council race last week.  Some serious self-examination is long overdue among that crew.

Update: Rodriguez completely lost his mind on Twitter yesterday evening after the vote, lashing out at Falkenberg, Chron sportswriter Jose de Jesus Ortiz, and Texpatriate's Noah Horwitz. See his Tweets embedded at the end of Texpate's post here.  That's a person who needs to take their medication.

Update II:  You know you've struck a nerve when Marc Campos is calling somebody "chickenshit".

Texas Leftist runs down the changes the ordinance mandates, and Stace gave the instructions this morning that helped predict the outcome.  Here's to more progress like this in the new year.

Affluenza... and Gulliblemia

Well-written here by Ben Sherman at Burnt Orange.

Two weeks ago, Burleson teen Ethan Couch killed four Texans. He got behind the wheel of his car with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, mowed down several pedestrians, and now four families are without their children. One victim is crippled for life. "I'm Ethan Couch, I'll get you out of this," said to one of his friends in the car afterward.

The judge let Ethan off with 10 years probation and prescribed therapy. The defense argued that Ethan has "affluenza," a condition by which rich people don't understand and are thus not responsible for the consequences of their actions. State District Judge Jean Boyd didn't say she agreed with that particular argument, but Americans everywhere have balked that the deaths' circumstances resulted in such a relaxed punishment at all. Wendy Davis spoke out against the decision, calling it a "disgrace". Even Greg Abbott says his office is looking into it.

"Affluenza" is a term popularized in 1997 by a documentary of the same name. It is about the warped worldview of Americans in uppermost echelon of financial holdings -- and the consequences for the rest of us. The documentary was turned into a popular book. What the filmmakers and then authors never intended is for the term to be used, successfully no less, in defense of a killer. John de Graaf, "Affluenza" co-author, wrote an excellent piece for TIME about what this case reveals about the United States:

Liberals and conservatives alike have condemned the Texas decision. But before we cast the first stones, let's admit that Couch's actions do reflect our national "affluenza." After all, we have exalted consumerism above other values. And while we pride ourselves for our "exceptionalism," we have for years been exceptionally irresponsible in our naked pursuit of wealth.

We refuse to increase taxes on millionaires while cutting food stamps for the poor, and advocate cutting social security while ignoring the obscene bonuses of bankers whose speculation caused the 2008 crash. We allow thousands to die each year for lack of health insurance. We strip the mountains of Appalachia and poison our water to continue our addiction to fossil fuels.  We have made war under false premises while our drones kill civilians with impunity. We have supported murderous dictators -- think Pinochet or Rios Montt -- to assure continued profits. We could virtually end world hunger at an annual expense equal to what we give our military every week, but we refuse to do it. And we deny our role in changing the climate in drastic ways. All of these actions flow from affluenza, greed, and refusal to consider consequences. We rage about the Couch decision but ignore our greater responsibility to the world and future generations.

In 1877, the Sioux chief Sitting Bull spoke of the light-skinned people who were overrunning his lands: "They make many laws which the rich may break but the poor may not, and the love of possession is a disease with them."

That's the real "affluenza."

Via this, affluenza has a symbiotic yet diametrically opposed condition known as "gulliblemia".   It causes a person to think and act in ways that are disassociated from their self-interest, thus keeping them in poverty.


The symptoms include:

-- Thinking that higher taxes on the affluenzant will hurt the gulliblemic.

-- Confusing the debt ceiling with a limit on how much the government can spend.

-- Thinking Medicare and Social Security are not government programs or are causing the deficit.

-- Thinking that shutting down the federal government is a good thing.

-- Watching Fox News for some reason besides comedic value.


-- Logic centers of the brain aren't the only ones affected; lobes that control spelling and grammar are also damaged, and the comprehension of irony is nonexistent.


-- There is demonstrable confusion between religious law and federal and state laws. Here's an example of a chronic case...


There are other associated symptoms that are not included in this list, and the good news is that gulliblemia is not contagious and in fact is quite curable. It sometimes requires an intervention, and there are some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

But people can -- and are -- being healed every day, and some gulliblemics are capable of making the journey to better health with only a small amount of absorbed ridicule, combined with heavy application of critical thinking.

So the next time you hear someone say "liberalism is a mental disorder", just look at who's doing the talking.

HCRP gets TRO on same-sex benefits

Double your outrage.

Harris County Republicans, led by their chairman, sued the City of Houston Tuesday over Mayor Annise Parker's extension of health and life insurance benefits to all spouses of legally married employees, including same-sex couples in November.

"This is one of the most egregious acts by an elected official I've ever seen," said Jared Woodfill, chairman the Harris County Republican party. Woodfill, is the lead lawyer on the lawsuit. "They just decided to, unilaterally, as a lame duck, thumb their nose at the will of the people and just spit on the U.S. Constitution."

Woodfill said state District Judge Lisa Millard signed a temporary restraining order late Tuesday, putting the new policy on hold until the matter goes before a judge on Jan. 6.

As Noah has pointed out, Harris County Democrats failed to field a challenger to Judge Millard for next year.  We can only guess as to whether her actions would have been different if they had.  And let's disregard the hyperbolic and misrepresentative exaggeration that Barrister Woodfill, like so many of his conservative ilk, employs.

Noah's best point, one that deserves repeating, is that the GOP is still going to lose next year, irrespective (mostly) of what the Democrats do or don't do, because of stunts like this lawsuit.

This predictable action by the Harris County Republican Party is just helping to dig its own grave. The Republicans have very weak competition in this county, as it simply campaigns against a party that -- despite being lead by venerable forces -- is filled with members too incompetent/lazy to fill the ballot. Taking up such a disastrously unpopular position as homophobia does nothing to dispel the notion that Republicans are simply old and bigoted folks; in fact, it actively perpetuates it. If the Democrats win in 2014, it will be because of things like this.

Homophobia is a disease that's on the wane, and it is the growing acceptance and tolerance that all people are equal -- even by many long-time Republican voters -- that is the clearest signal yet that the Republican Party, as currently constituted, is a bunch of dead (straight, white) men walking.  2014 might bring their reign to a close, but my guess is that we'll still have a few soreheads to kick around in 2016.  It's a process that is happening organically, but Democrats would be wise to do what they can to fertlilize the composting.  Maybe squirt some lighter fluid on the immolation.

Just don't get too close to them as they self-destruct.  Those stains are hard to get out.

Update: Jeff Balke at Hair Balls piles on.

This is a classic example of someone (or some group) not knowing when to let go of a particular issue and simply move on. A majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court has upheld multiple challenges to state laws allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot. It's only a matter of time before states like Texas will have to come to the same conclusion most other states have: if homosexual couples want to marry, they should have every right to do so, and preventing them from obtaining the benefits heterosexual couples have is a violation of the Constitution Woodfill is so hungry to defend.

The other question that keeps running through my head is, "Why do you care?" What difference does it make to Woodfill or any member of the local GOP if people they clearly don't associate with have an opportunity to share in the same rights as they do? Same-sex partner benefits are provided by most American corporations already. For a group that is hell bent on protecting individual rights, it sure seems this flies directly in the face of that ideal.

Uber gouges customers in bad weather (again)

The two previous posts here about Uber and its pending entry to the Houston market are among the most heavily-clicked in this blog's history.  Here's the latest on the transportation phone app, first from CNN Money.

Luxury cab app Uber is under fire for charging New Yorkers insanely high prices during last week's snow storm.

Uber, which sends private cars to your location with a tap of a button, raised fares by as much as eight times (last) Saturday, as New York was blanketed with four inches of snow. Minimum fares surged well above $100, and per-mile charges were upwards of $30.

There were no surprises: Uber notified users what the prices would be before they ordered their cabs. Still, the Twitters were ablaze with angry Uberites crying foul. 

Uber calls it "surge pricing".  And from Bloomberg.

Uber is the darling of the technology industry—unless it’s raining. That’s when it raises prices and becomes the whipping boy of the Twitterati. The latest round of outrage over the company’s surge pricing came over the weekend, when rates increased by a factor of seven in New York because of a snowstorm. At one point, Uber was asking riders for a rate of $35 a mile.

An article in Wired on Tuesday broke down the thinking behind surge pricing, as explained by Travis Kalanick, the company’s chief executive officer. It’s basically the first lecture from an Introduction to Economics class:

“To understand the economics of surge pricing from Uber’s point of view, think of drivers as supply and riders as demand. Especially in bad weather, demand goes up: Would-be passengers don’t want to be out in the snow and rain. Meanwhile, supply goes down: Drivers don’t want to be out in the snow and rain, either.

“In that scenario, higher prices are meant to accomplish two things. First, by offering drivers more money, it gives them more incentive to get out on the streets—at least in theory—thereby increasing supply. Second, higher fares price out some riders, and demand goes down. Calibrating supply, demand, and price to get the most people the most rides for the least money is the math problem that Kalanick says Uber is always trying to solve.”

Kalanick told Wired that higher prices facilitate more rides in situations of high demand. “We are not setting the price. The market is setting the price,” he says. “We have algorithms to determine what the market is.”

Now that's as invisible as the hand of the free market can get.  Don't like being gouged in bad weather by Uber? The author of the CNN Money piece says 'get over it'.

Uber has a dynamic pricing model, in which fares rise when demand for cars is higher. That encourages more cabs to get on the road -- few chauffeurs want to drive around the city in the middle of a blizzard, but a guarantee of a $200-per-ride fare might be incentive enough to change their minds.
 
It also ensures that users don't have to wait around for hours for an Uber cab, which would defeat the purpose of the luxury service. If you're willing to pay $350 to go from Midtown to Brooklyn, there will be a cab at your location when you want it.

[...]

"Nobody is required to take an Uber, but having a reliable option is what we're shooting for," Uber CEO Travis Kalanick blogged last year. "It's not about gouging."

It doesn't matter how rich you are; nobody wants to pay $200 for a cab ride. But the wonderful thing about a free market is there's always another option. You can still travel 25 miles from Yankee Stadium to Rockaway Beach for just $2.50 if you take the subway.

Everything is now a commodity. The Bloomberg writer suggests a more, shall we call it, existential rationale.

Whether or not this is outrageous isn’t a question of economics. It’s a question of values. The ethical discussion can get a bit Talmudic. For some things, like the price of publicly traded stocks, society has decided to strive for as close to a perfect market as possible. For others, market forces are interrupted in one way or another. Restaurants, concert venues, and movie theaters all accept less than full market value for their goods and services at times of high demand, because they think it’s good business. At other times, the government sees a social good in dulling market forces through regulation or subsidies.

Kalanick, on the other hand, is a free-market fundamentalist. This isn’t surprising: Rationality has long been the religion of Silicon Valley, and what’s more rational than having a computer constantly calibrating prices? But a free market is always defined by scarcity: Not everyone who wants something can have it. So even if Uber is facilitating more rides, building a system where there is what amounts to continuous bidding for services will aggravate inequality.

[...]

Uber’s approach is effectively the opposite of the existing car-service industry’s model, where prices are largely regulated. Then, when it rains or snows, people manage to get rides mostly by being lucky. Uber’s riders can trump luck by being wealthy. Which one is unfair?

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog recently wrote a glowing advertorial about his maiden voyage on Uber.  He used his space not only to praise the service -- no problem there -- but to help himself get a few $10 credits.  Sorry John, but that's unethical too.

I think anybody who uses this service has to steel themselves for the eventuality that they are going to get ripped off, and sooner rather than later.  So have it, lemmings. It's all yours.  I'll stick to the folks that provide actual local jobs, give back to the community, are just as reliable and dependable without the predatory capitalistic supply/demand price gouging, and play by the rules that were established decades ago to weed out unscrupulous businesses (like Uber).

Update: More from Gawker, and a Los Angeles victim, in The $357 Uber Ride.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Daily Stockman

I get the feeling it's going to be a daily series, anyway.

A Texas SuperPAC with close ties to Sen. John Cornyn is launching a “Shady Stockman” social media campaign to spotlight ethical questions dogging Rep. Steve Stockman, the senator’s top rival in the March primary.

The political action committee, Texans for a Conservative Majority, has plenty of funds to bolster Cornyn, thanks to a $2 million donation last spring from Houston home builder Bob Perry.

You know, I might start to feel sorry for Steve if this keeps up.

A Twitter handle, @shadystockman, has only one follower so far. The website and Facebook pages are also in the early stages. But there’s enough to get the gist of the attacks on the Friendswood Republican ...

Under the heading “Finances,” the site refers to a recent Houston Chronicle investigation that found Stockman had failed to sufficiently explain the source of $350,000 in income over the last two years. Under “Ethics,” it notes his failure to file required congressional disclosure forms, and a scandal involving illegal donations that prompted him to fire two aides.

Under “Criminal history,” it notes that Stockman had been jailed repeatedly and was even caught once by jailers with Valium in his underwear – an admission he made to Texas Monthly in a 1996 profile, explaining the hell-raising days of his youth, before he found Jesus and conservative activism.

Website visitors can spread the message at the click of a mouse, tweeting out such taunts as “@StockmanSenate can try to run for Senate, but he can’t run away from his past. See more at: http://www.shadystockman.com/#sthash.FIj2ji6O.dpuf

Sorry, but I'm not going to do any more than what I just did in order to help John Cornyn get re-elected.  I wonder how the Tea People feel about Big John brutalizing their boy like this?

-- Under the headline "Tea party candidate selling Obama ‘barf bags’":

Texas Republican Senate candidate Steve Stockman has nowhere near the millions of dollars his GOP opponent Sen. John Cornyn has, but the tea party congressman has a novel fundraising ploy: selling Obama “barf bags.”

Stockman unveiled the bags Tuesday on his website alongside a letter that touts the candidate as a “proud, principled conservative Tea Party Republican” who has spent “the last few years defeating liberals by helping train and launch the Tea Party.”

Every $10 donation comes with one bag printed with an image of the president and a tagline that reads, “Socialism Makes Me SICK!”

“If I win this race, you and I will be able to spend decades repealing Obama’s radical bills, unseating Obama’s radical appointees and ripping out Obama’s radical regulations,” Stockman writes in his campaign letter. “Obama’s socialism is too dangerous to send timid backstabbers to the Senate.”

Supplies are limited!  Get 'em while they're hot!  Puke your guts out!

Now puke some more!  You've only got about three months to get it all out of your system.

Update: You might need a barf bag for this.

Those looking for dirt on Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) need look no further. TPM has obtained photographs taken by the local officials who recently shut down Stockman's campaign office in Webster, Texas. And the images are dirty. And dusty. And grimy.

The story, to recap, was reported last month by The Houston Chronicle. According to the Chronicle, officials in Webster, Texas in November ordered the emergency closure of Stockman's campaign headquarters, citing multiple safety violations. The newspaper reported that various campaign staffers and volunteers were working and sleeping in the office, located in a former a former motorcycle shop considered unsafe for habitation.

Dirty dozen vie to replace Stockman in 36

In extending the deadline to file an extra week, the Texas GOP still couldn't come up with anyone known outside their respective district communities. Harvey Kronberg with the subheadline and teaser.

No big surprises but Houston businessman Ben Streusand joins the fray

There are many little-known candidates, but some of the top names include longtime Chief of Staff to Rep. Kevin Brady Doug Centilli, former Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald and Dave Norman, who is a prominent insurance agent.

Further research reveals the full list.

Streusand and John Manlove, both of Houston, Robin Riley and Jim Engstrand, both of Seabrook, and Pat Kasprzak of Crosby filed for the seat on Monday. Riley is a former Seabrook mayor. One other Republican, Brian Babin, a dentist and former mayor of Woodville, also took advantage of the deadline extension, filing on Friday. They joined six Republicans who had filed for the seat before the original deadline: Nassau Bay City Councilman John Amdur; Doug Centilli, a longtime chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands; former Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald; Lumberton lawyer Charles "Chuck" Meyer; former Seabrook City Councilman Kim Morrell; and insurance agent Dave Norman.

Manlove might be this ad guy, but is probably the former mayor of Pasadena, which has been in the news recently for trying to water down the Latino representation on their city council.  That Manlove also ran in 2008 for CD-22, then occupied by Nick Lampson.  He lost to Shelley Sekula Dracula Cunt Gibbs.  Also this, from Roll Call last week.

In 2012, Meyer unsuccessfully ran against Stockman in the 12-person open primary and earned about 4 percent of the vote. He has, as of this writing, 27 followers on Facebook. From that account, he has attacked Stockman from the right and advocated for the impeachment of President Barack Obama.

Dave Norman unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2012.

Back to the Trib piece for this.

The filing extension only applied to the Republican Party, and anyone who had already filed for another race could not withdraw to join the CD-36 race. That shut out people like state Rep. James White, R-Hillister, who was interested in running for Stockman’s seat. His district, House District 19, encompasses the northern half of CD-36. Texas Republican Party officials said the decisions were based on state election law.

White criticized Stockman for withdrawing his re-election filing at the last minute. Though most were not aware of Stockman’s decision ahead of time, three of the six original CD-36 candidates — Centilli, Norman and Morrell — said last week they had advance notice that Stockman was planning to withdraw from the race.

“It is unfortunate that Congressman Stockman and some Washington insiders have decided to do D.C.-style power politics and inject them into southeast Texas,” White said.

David Bradley, a member of the State Board of Education, had filed for re-election but, like White, explored switching to the CD-36 race. He expressed frustration that the secretary of state’s office and the Texas Republican Party had interpreted election law as such that he could legally withdraw his earlier SBOE filing but could not join the CD-36 race under the filing deadline extension. He plans to continue with his original plan and run for for re-election.

“I talked to a couple of [state Republican Executive Committee] members, and I had an election attorney looking at it,” Bradley said. “It wasn't worth a food fight.”

White and Bradley shouldn't be underestimated in terms of electoral prowess; it was White who knocked off longtime Texas House incumbent Tuffy Hamilton when redistricting forced the two conservatives to run against each other in 2012.  And Bradley is well-renowned for his efforts to take the SBOE back to the 1960s.  They are forced to stand by and watch, and wait for 2016.

Of those who jumped in, the ones that spend the largest amount of their personal wealth ought to move on to the runoff next April.  Today, my bet would be on Streusand and Norman (he's close to Stockman and will likely serve, if elected, as de facto Stockman).

I said before I didn't want to blog about this race unless the candidates began roasting and consuming each other.  I am delighted to see that remains a distinct possibility.