Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Brainy Texans of the Year

I chose to carry on the tradition this year due to declining interest from the TPA.  Before I bestow the inglorious award, however, let's run up a few of the 'honorable mentions'.

-- Progress Texas released their Worst list earlier in the week, and Ted Cruz won the gold medal.  The Cuban Canuck Schmuck certainly made my top five, but really, how do you miss with any of Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, and Sid Miller?  And that's just the statewide electeds.

-- The Texas House could have been its own list, with state Rep. Cecil Bell atop Texas Monthly's Worst from the last Lege, followed closely by Sen. Donna Campbell, Rep. Harold Dutton, Sen. Joan Huffman, and Sen. Jane NelsonFormer fetus Jonathan Stickland has surged in the standings like the price of an Uber ride home on New Year's Eve, and not just because he wears an AR-15 as a lapel pin, but that he's been recently exposed as a stoner and an advocate for marital rape.

-- The Texas Congressional delegation and its chief idiot Louie Gohmert could have won this award based on lifetime achievement, but Lamar Smith, the House's leading climate denier, wouldn't be far behind, and those two made former All Star Assholes like Joe Barton, Blake Farenthold, and Pete Sessions, along with retiring Randy NoogieBoogie and Rookie of the Year Brian Babin look like amateurs.

-- Then there are the Texas Democrats, and they're no slouches when it comes to competition for the worst.  Just look again at the state House of Representatives, and the Dirty Thirty Democrats who voted to let Denton's fracking ban be overturned.  Or Senfronia Thompson, who was miffed that the Texas Automobile Dealers Association didn't get a meeting with Mr. Tesla, or my own state rep, Borris Miles, who earned a dishonorable mention from TM for drunk and disorderly conduct.

-- Or look back at Congress, with Blue Dogshits Henry Cuellar, Marc Veazey, up-and-comer Filemon Vela, and the petro-whore Gene Green, being challenged by Adrian Garcia, whose inability to clean up the Harris County jail during his time as sheriff is now a national disgrace and not just a local one.  Even Sheila Jackson-Lee kept doing what she does.  From TM's Bum Steers ...

(SJL) called Republican threats to sue the president over Obamacare a “veiled attempt at impeachment,” moralizing that the Democrats who controlled the House of Representatives during George W. Bush’s presidency had never stooped so low. Soon after, an online news source cited a 2008 resolution that Jackson had co-sponsored calling for Bush’s impeachment.

-- There was Chris Bell going rogue, lining up behind Bill King for H-Town mayor, and there was Nile Copeland turning red in hopes for a state district judgeship after running for the Court of Appeals as a Democrat four years ago and getting 46%.  This was the wrong year to change parties, fellows.

-- I could have easily selected Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, whose defiant attitude in the wake of the death of Sandra Bland in his jail has added to the many fatal failures of law enforcement and criminal justice in 2015.  Smith also sat in a restaurant having lunch for two hours, oblivious to the stealing of an arsenal of weapons in broad daylight from his county vehicle.  That puts him easily in the top three for Texan of the Year.

-- Abel Reyna, the McLennan County district attorney overseeing the prosecutions of whatever crimes the various biker club members who assembled in Waco may have committed that resulted in their summary execution by law enforcement, may win next year's TOY.

-- But there were also a few bright lights that I shouldn't overlook: Sylvester Turner holding on to the mayor's office for Team Blue, Cecile Richards keeping up the fight against the hordes of anti-choice extremists in Texas.  Texan of the Year in years past hasn't been about who was the biggest jerk, after all.

-- And the winner has not always been relegated to an elected official: Wallace Hall, the odious UT regent who is still dug in like an Alabama tick (thanks for that, Jesse) and who was immortalized in cartoons by the Chron's Nick Anderson two years ago, gets points for longevity.  The loons who made sure the Operation Jade Helm 15 conspiracy made a laughing stock of the state have to be in my top five.  Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County, an even more radical offshoot of Open Carry Texas, issued death threats to legislators if the law allowing Texans to pretend it is 1885 all over again did not pass.  (It did, unsurprisingly.)

-- The ongoing saga of Rick Perry's felony indictments -- which now include the judge in the case's assassination attempt -- are worthy of some special recognition.

-- In the category of Extreme Irony, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson joined a NIMBY lawsuit to stop the construction of a water tower meant to fill trucks for fracking well sites.  His company was also found to have hidden the truth they knew about the dangers of climate change for almost forty years.

-- But I've buried the lede deep enough.  The come-from-behind winner of this year's Texan(s) of the Year are Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya, who made the holidays merry and bright for the victims of his affluenza.

Just imagine how privileged you have to feel to think that disguising yourself as Mexican in order to avoid arrest is a good idea.

Carrot Top Mom's going to jail, Sonny Boy is going to avoid it for some while longer.

Authorities in Texas said an arrest warrant was being issued for Tonya Couch on charges of hindering an apprehension, a third-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison.


The ruling (to delay extradition) earlier Wednesday by the Mexican court gives a judge three days to decide whether the younger Couch has grounds to challenge his deportation based on arguments that kicking him out of the country would violate his rights.

Hunter said the legal maneuver basically takes the decision out of an immigration agent's hands and asks a higher authority to make the deportation decision. He said such cases can often take anywhere from two weeks to several months, depending on the priorities of the local courts.

"It also depends on the fact the Couches have legal counsel. And it seems to me, if they wanted to, they could pay them as much money as they want to drag this thing out," Hunter said. "We're hopeful that's not the case."

Couch and his attorneys apparently believe he's better off in a Mexican jail than an American one.  I sure hope they're wrong about that, too.

"Couch continues to make a mockery of the system," said Fort Worth attorney Bill Berenson, who represented Sergio Molina, who was paralyzed and suffered severe brain damage in the crash.

A very Unhappy New Year to Ethan and Tonya Couch.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Perils of Plutocracy

Appropriating part of Mark Kleiman's title (and fixing his many typos):

1. Billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson is involved in a lawsuit in Nevada about the corrupt practices of his casino in Macao. (Technically, it’s a wrongful-termination case brought by someone who claims to have been fired for blowing the whistle.)

2. Adelson has been fighting with the judge, Elizabeth Gonzalez.

3. Through a cut-out, Adelson bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the dominant newspaper in the state, keeping his ownership a secret until others broke the story.

4. Three staffers at the paper were then ordered to do a hit piece on the judge. No story resulted.

5. The editor of the Review-Journal then learned, by reading the front page of his own newspaper, that he had “accepted a buy-out.”

6. Michael Schroeder, who runs Adelson’s media empire and who also publishes a small paper in Connecticut, went straight to the printer of that paper, over the head of the editorial staff, to order a 2000-word piece critical of Judge Gonzalez to run there.

7. People quoted in the story say they were never contacted by the reporter whose by-line appears on the story, Edward Clarkin.

8. In fact, no one seems to have ever met Edward Clarkin in person. However, Schroeder’s middle name is “Edward,” and his mother’s maiden name was “Clarkin.” (No, seriously.)

9. A reporter for Schroeder’s paper quit in disgust.

Despite its comic-opera aspects, this story is truly scary. If plutocrats can buy newspapers to intimidate judges, what happens to the rule of law? And how much of Adelson’s media power will be exercised on behalf of his business partners in the Chinese Politburo? They made him a billionaire by giving him the casino concession in Macau, and they can take it away at a moment’s notice.

Here’s hoping this gets to be an issue in the campaign. I’d love to the Republican presidential candidates say what they think of Adelson’s behavior. Come to think of it, I’d love to hear Hillary Clinton do so.

Update: A timeline of the events from Jay Rosen's Pressthink.

Seen The Big Short yet?  Read the book if you want to know the names of the actual players.  In short (no pun), a few very prescient broker/banker/hedge fund types saw the mortgage meltdown coming a couple of years in advance, and then ran out and "shorted" -- bet it would drop -- the mortgage industry's secondary loan market, even as the Goldmans and Lehmans of the world laughed at them and gleefully took their money for those bets.  Those two or three guys also understood that the global economy would collapse as a result, ruining millions of common people's lives, and some of them felt a little nauseous about that, but still went on and made hundreds of millions of dollars on the collapse anyway.

And now the dude who first saw it coming sees it coming down the pike again, the big banks are bigger today than they were when they were Too Big To Fail almost ten years ago, and Hillary Clinton's response has been "9/11" -- just like Rudy Giuliani -- and ""I told them to cut it out".  Except she didn't.  Not really.

Maybe this will help people understand why so many people say they won't vote for her.  It's not just Shelley Adelson or the media or the GOP presidentials drooling on Adelson's shoes that's the only problem here.

The top fundraisers for Clinton include lobbyists who serve the parent companies of CNN and MSNBC.

The National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group that represents the television station industry, has lobbyists who are fundraising for both Clinton and Republican candidate Marco Rubio.
Presidential campaigns are obligated by law to send the Federal Election Commission a list of lobbyists who serve as “bundlers,” collecting hundreds of individual checks on behalf of a candidate’s campaign.

CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, is represented on Capitol Hill by Steve Elmendorf, an adviser to Clinton during her 2008 campaign, who is also known as “one of Washington’s top lobbyists.” He’s lobbied on a number of issues important for media companies like CNN, including direct-to-consumer advertising policy.

Elmendorf, according to disclosures, has raised at least $141,815 for Clinton’s 2016 bid for the presidency.

Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal, which includes cable networks NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC, has a number of lobbyists on retainer who are working to raise cash for the Clinton campaign, including Justin Gray, Alfred Mottur, Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino.
Much of the $5 billion expected to be spent over the course of the 2016 presidential election cycle will be on cable and network news advertisements. The election-related spending bonanza is singularly boosting the profit margins of many media companies, as we’ve reported.

“Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS,” Les Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, memorably said.

Money isn't fixing any of the problems with our politics, our political parties, or our politicians.  More money is only making things worse.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Year-End Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance gets ready to flush the bowl on 2015 take a cup of kindness in celebration of 2016, as it brings you the last blog post roundup of the year.

Off the Kuff had some thoughts on the primary in CD29 between Rep. Gene Green and Adrian Garcia.

Libby Shaw, contributing to Daily Kos, insists that Texas lawmakers must be held accountable for their bad decisions and blatant bigotry with regard to health care in the state. The Texas Blues: Living in a place run by GOP jerks, saboteurs and spiteful bigots.

People are starting to get the fact that the only practical alternative for progressives -- once Bernie Sanders is eliminated from contention for the Democratic nomination -- is a vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

SocraticGadfly notes that if the Paris climate change deal has any hope of being real, and not just warm-fuzzies aspirational, we need negative carbon emissions — and now.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Greg Abbott goes for a two-fer in hate. No health care for you. What a guy.

Neil at All People Have Value took a nice picture in Galveston. APHV is part of

Egberto Willies says it's time to call out the pro-life faction on their opposition to Medicaid expansion.

TXsharon at Bluedaze wants the Big Gas Mafia and all of their shills to know that fracking other people's children isn't going to make their own children proud of what they do for a living.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports on the citizen referendum that would institute a cite-and-release policy for possession of small quantities of marijuana.

Dos Centavos recounts a time in the recent past when the phrase "Happy Holidays" didn't evince so much hate from arch-conservatives.

nonsequiteuse, writing at BOR, calls for the Houston Chronicle to apologize to Mayor Annise Parker.


More great Texas blog posts here!

Progress Texas names their Top Ten Worst Texans of 2015, though how they stopped at only ten remains a mystery.

Lone Star Ma focuses on the fourth of the United Nations' new Sustainable Development Goals, an inclusive and quality education for all.

Rick Campbell tells the story of Texas City blues singer Charles Brown, and his original recording of "Please Come Home For Christmas", later made famous by The Eagles and Don Henley.

BOR points to the real culprits in the case of cancer patients losing insurance.

John Jacob and Jen Powis advocate for Texas's endangered wetlands.

Prairie Weather believes Trump has a fatal electoral flaw: his supporters love the demagoguery and the spectacle, but do not exhibit the capacity to caucus for for him in Iowa.

Somervell County Salon thanks HEB for prohibiting open carry in its Texas grocery stores.

When a cartoonist exploits Ted Cruz's children, it's shameless and inappropriate... but when Cruz does it, it's just fundraising, explains What Would Jack Do?

Grits for Breakfast names his top Texas criminal justices stories for 2015.

Rocket Kirchner at Dandelion Salad has the exclusive Socrates interview with Hillary Clinton.

And Fascist Dyke Motors culls out her sock drawer.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I was wrong about Trump.

So admits Matt Bai of Yahoo as well, but we'll get to his take in a moment.  Here's what I wrote way back on November 13, six weeks ago.

Despite what I have said repeatedly about polls, I'm anxious to see what they reveal about a week or two from (the time Trump asked 'how stupid were the people of Iowa').  This feels like a turning point for a couple of candidates.   The conservative Borg has been completely unpredictable to this point, but a settling-out of the real lunacy of Trump and Carson to the regular loons of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio is somewhat overdue.

Ben Carson has indeed faded, but Trump's position in the polling has strengthened in the days since.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, in time spent with family and friends, I asked the considerable number of conservatives and Republicans among our brood what they thought about the Donald.  All but one cringed and shook their head.  The one supporter -- who received his most recent book as a Christmas present and was delighted -- posed for a photograph at our Turkey Day meal at a Beaumont hotel ballroom, and just before the snapshot, I yelled, "Smile and say BERNIE SANDERS!"  A few minutes later she leaned over and told me quietly, "I get his e-mail; I like him".  I replied, "there's hope for you yet!"

So from an anecdotal perspective, I truly don't know what to make of the Trump phenomenon.  Matt Bai agrees with my status today, however ...

For many months now, like the anxious producers of some hot reality show, the American media has been waiting for Donald Trump to get up onstage and say the one thing that will lead to his swift and inevitable unraveling. (Waiting is not quite the same as hoping, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Sometimes it seems that Trump himself is trying frantically to find that edge of acceptable rhetoric and hurl himself over it, maybe because this business of running for president is a lot more tedious and exhausting than, say, crowning Miss Universe.

This week, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Trump told an audience in Michigan that Hillary Clinton had been “schlonged” in 2008 (a variation on the Yiddish word for penis that he seems to have invented on the spot, but that is now assured to outlive the Yiddish language itself), and he made fun of Clinton’s bizarre habit — “too disgusting to talk about” — of having to occasionally relieve herself in a bathroom.

He also clarified his difference with Vladimir Putin when it comes to these “lying, disgusting” reporters who cover him. “I hate some of these people, but I would never kill them,” Trump volunteered. “I would never kill them. But I do hate them.”

Well, that does it. If granting journalists a right to live doesn’t puncture Trump’s standing among conservative voters these days, then trust me, pretty much nothing will.

(By the way, note that Trump didn’t actually go so far as to condemn such violence, or even discourage it. He just declined to kill anyone himself. The man is busy.)

It’s time for me to admit I was wrong about Trump’s staying power. And it’s time for the rest of my industry to take a long look in the mirror and consider what we’ve wrought.

And so goes a fairly lengthy condemnation of the media coverage of Trump, which a week ago stood at approximately a 23-1 ratio to its coverage of Bernie Sanders.  I don't wish to enumerate once more all of the faults with corporate media news and politics coverage, especially since Bai does such a good job of it himself in the next excerpts.  He is most assuredly on point with the self-examination.

Because it’s clear now that Trump’s enduring popularity — his relentless assault on the weathered pillars of our public civility — is in no small part a reflection of an acid disdain for us.

Trump has always understood this. Look at the graphic terms in which he once attacked Fox’s Megyn Kelly. Or the way he viciously mocked Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter who excels despite a physical disability. Or how he publicly berated Katy Tur, an NBC reporter, for sport.

Playing off the media isn’t novel, of course. When George H.W. Bush ran for reelection back in 1992, somebody — maybe it was his campaign, since in those days there weren’t any super-PACS — made a bumper sticker that read “Annoy the media. Re-elect Bush.”

For many years after Bush lost, you could still see those bumper stickers on any highway in America. It had little to do with the candidate.

They lasted on bumpers of pickup trucks in Midland, Texas (where I was) well into the mid-90's, as Bill Clinton's election began the Republican descent into fury and rage.  Nineteen-ninety four also marked the last year a Democrat was elected to a statewide office in Texas.

But that was a statement on liberalism and elitism, a kind of cultural homogeneity inside the nation’s largest media institutions. It was almost respectful. Bush would never have used the word “hate,” and neither would the people with the bumper stickers.

This is something more visceral, an emotion that’s been building in all segments of the electorate, to some extent, for decades.

This is a simmering reaction to smugness and shallowness in the media, a parade of glib punditry unmoored to any sense of history or personal experience. It’s about our love of gaffes and scandals, real or imagined, and our rigid enforcement of the politically correct.

It’s about the reflexive partisan fury we’ve been inciting in this country ever since the earliest days of cable TV, and more recently on the blogs and op-ed pages of newspapers that once set the standard for thoughtful deliberation but now need the clicks to survive.

This is dead on, and a little nauseating personally. 

And yet somehow, when the perfect and professional reality-show star comes along, utterly lost on policy but brilliant at harnessing resentment in long, incredibly watchable tirades, observers like me think his success must be short-lived. Why?

(And before you tell me Trump is more qualified to be president than a first-term senator from Illinois was, consider his final answer, after much evasion, when asked about the country’s “nuclear triad” in the last debate: “I just think nuclear — the power and the devastation are very important to me.”)

Trump is entirely different from a Barry Goldwater or a Pat Buchanan. He isn’t a conservative populist penned in by the outer boundaries of what’s politically constructive, bred ultimately to admire the same institutions he assails. I don’t think Trump has any fierce political conviction that couldn’t be abandoned overnight, just as fiercely.

Trump is an emotional extremist. He’s a pure performer, trained to manipulate the audience and mindful of no consequence beyond the ratings it produces.

Just don't believe the Facebook meme.

(I)t’s clear there’s a powerful symbiosis between Trump and the media. We need him for the narrative power, for the clicks and debate ratings and sheer fascination factor. He needs us for the free publicity and the easy, evocative foil.

Trump’s most useful opponent, the one who causes his most fervent following to stick, isn’t Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or even Hillary Clinton. It’s us.

So when I say there’s a difference between waiting and hoping, this is what I mean. This is the essential paradox that the American media has created for itself, and you can feel it becoming less and less tenable right now.

On one hand, we’re bewildered by the reality that a man can so debase our politics and continue to rise in polls, as if all the rules we’ve inherited and enforced are no longer remotely relevant. But at the same time, we need our standout contestant to hang around for sweeps week. He’s the star of the show.

We want to see Trump get “schlonged” for the same reasons we can’t bear to lose him, and he understands that dynamic better than anyone alive.

Do I think Trump is going to be the Republican nominee? No, I don’t. At the end of the day, I still tend to think he won’t win a single state. But I’ve been wrong about him so far, and I’ve very little confidence that I won’t keep being wrong for a while.

I think Bai is wrong: Trump shows no sign of losing momentum that I can discern.  The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson, via Prairie Weather, thinks the same as Bai, mostly because Trump's support includes a number of people without a clue as to how retail politics actually works.  If those two get it right, I'll refer back to this post in some future one with a plate of crow in front of me.

What I get from the WaPo article is that they're mad, but they're still not mad enough to get even.

(Randy and Bonnie Reynolds,) the West Des Moines couple who have two grown children, had never been to a political event before. Bonnie works in a mailroom; Randy is a press operator. They don’t live paycheck to paycheck, but it would take just one small catastrophe to push them there.

“In the end, everything that he’s saying might not happen if he is elected — but I’m willing to give it a shot,” said Randy Reynolds, 49, who used to vote for Democrats but switched to Republicans a decade ago. “I will give him 100 percent. . . . It would be amazing if the majority of things that he said would actually happen. That would be amazing.”

So, obviously, the couple plan to caucus for Trump on Feb. 1?

“We’re going to see,” Reynolds said. “With kids and grandkids and all this, it’s kind of hectic. . . . We’ll look into it. If our time is available, then yeah, maybe we’ll do it. Maybe. We’ll have to see.”

And ...

Linda Stuver, 61, said Trump is her top pick, although she also likes Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. During the last election cycle, she went to a rally for Mitt Romney, her first political event. The Trump rally was her second.

“This is only my second time I’ve ever been to one of these — that’s how annoyed I am with what’s happening to our country,” said Stuver, who lives in Des Moines and says she raised four children by cleaning houses and working other low-level jobs. “I can’t even have Obama be on TV anymore — I have to shut it off, that’s how irritated I am. Us old folks have seen a lot, and what’s happening in our country is not right.”

Is she annoyed and irritated enough to caucus?

“I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head. “I never have.”

Caucuses have always rewarded the most committed activists, which is why Hillary Clinton and the Texas Democratic Party lackeys minimized the influence of precinct conventions in the Lone Star State after Obama won them, and a very slim majority of Texas delegates, in 2008.  Can't blame that one on Debbie Wasserman Schultz (her fingerprints aren't all over it, that is).

It could be that Trump's support is a mile wide and an inch deep, and if so, and Ted Cruz pulls the upset in Iowa because his crew outworked the Trumpers, then the establishment's last gasp might wind up being Marco Rubio or Chris Christie or even John Kasich in New Hampshire.

After that is South Carolina, and Cruz -- or Trump -- might be on too hard a roll to slow.

Refer back to here and consider how convoluted the circumstances might get if Trump or Cruz is the nominee, and the establishment withholds support and tries to broker a compromise candidate next summer.  And then Laugh Out Loud.

Update: Here's an interesting take from Eclectablog, who sees Cruz winning the nomination even as Trump maintains his lead in the polls.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Scattershooting some after-Christmas sales

-- Why try to understand complicated things like demographics for the decline of your faith when you can blame gays and liberals for waging a “war on religion?”

Among the Christian Right, and most Republican presidential candidates, it’s now an article of faith that the United States is persecuting Christians and Christian-owned businesses—that religion itself is under attack.

“We have seen a war on faith,” Ted Cruz has said to pick one example. “His policies and this administration’s animosity to religious liberty and, in fact, antagonism to Christians, has been one of the most troubling aspects of the Obama administration,” he said.

Why has this bizarre myth that Christianity is under assault in the most religious developed country on Earth been so successful? Because, in a way, it’s true. American Christianity is in decline—not because of a “war on faith” but because of a host of demographic and social trends. The gays and liberals are just scapegoats.

-- "Things are going great, and they're only gettin' better.  We just haven't sold it like we should." -- paraphrasing Barack Obama:

“Now on our side, I think that there is a le­git­im­ate cri­ti­cism of what I’ve been do­ing and our ad­min­is­tra­tion has been do­ing in the sense that we haven’t, you know, on a reg­u­lar basis, I think, de­scribed all the work that we’ve been do­ing for more than a year now to de­feat ISIL,” Obama said. Mean­while, he blamed “the me­dia” for “pur­su­ing rat­ings.”

The pres­id­ent also said dur­ing an off-the-re­cord con­ver­sa­tion with colum­nists last week that his Oval Of­fice ad­dress hadn’t gone far enough, a short­com­ing he at­trib­uted to his own fail­ure to watch enough cable news to un­der­stand the depth of anxi­ety.

In oth­er words, the strategy is work­ing, and the White House just needs to com­mu­nic­ate that bet­ter. The fights against do­mest­ic ter­ror and IS­IS alike are go­ing great, if only people would un­der­stand it.

I can't decide whether this astounds me or is just more of the same BS coming out of the White House for the past seven years.  A fairly constant refrain from partisan Democrats produces the latter of those two feelings: the "Look at everything the president has accomplished, and imagine how MUCH MORE he could have done if it weren't for an obstructive Congress!" consistent Facebook meme-ology.  That ceased working for me in the fall of 2011.  You know, once Obama refused to spend any of his political capital influencing the recalcitrant conservative Democrats in swing districts to vote for the legislation that bears his name.  Not just in 2009, but as late as 2013, when one of the many repeal votes came up prior to an election year.

This is humbl­eb­rag polit­ics: I’m not great at ex­plain­ing it, but man, am I great at policy. But does it ac­cur­ately un­der­stand the prob­lems, or what mes­saging en­tails? Obama views bat­tle­field suc­cess against IS­IS as the goal, and mes­saging as a simple pro­cess of tele­graph­ing that. Mes­saging can be something great­er than just the wrap­ping pa­per on the policy solu­tion he has chosen. It’s about per­suad­ing people to come around to your side, not just telling them why your side is right.

This isn’t the first time Obama has in­sisted that everything’s go­ing great and it’s just the wrap­ping pa­per that needs spru­cing up. After the 2014 midterm elec­tions, which saw de­feats for Demo­crats on all fronts, Obama told Bob Schief­fer the prob­lem was that he hadn’t com­mu­nic­ated how well his ad­min­is­tra­tion was do­ing:
One thing that I do need to con­stantly re­mind my­self and my team is it’s not enough just to build the bet­ter mousetrap. People don’t auto­mat­ic­ally come beat­ing to your door. We’ve got to sell it, we’ve got to reach out to the oth­er side and where pos­sible per­suade. And I think there are times, there’s no doubt about it where, you know, I think we have not been suc­cess­ful in go­ing out there and let­ting people know what it is that we are try­ing to do and why this is the right dir­ec­tion. So there is a fail­ure of polit­ics there that we have got to im­prove on.

Policy as a product to be sold, via teevee advertising and brand research marketed by consultants (polling, etc.).   I'm so old I can remember people complaining when we sold the actual politicians like laundry detergent during a soap opera.

Nobody watches those any more -- if you're a monolingual English speaker, that is -- because the writers and actors cost too much to produce the shows.  Five hosts on a chat-and-chew, or just one, offering free media to the celebrity of the moment is a real budget-maker for those cost-cutting networks with falling ratings.

Thank goodness for SuperPACS and multiple presidential candidates coming to the mainstream media's financial rescue, amirite?  Back to Obama and messaging.

After the 2010 midterm “shel­lack­ing,” Obama had been some­what more con­cili­at­ory, say­ing, “I think that what is ab­so­lutely true is voters are not sat­is­fied with the out­comes.” But even then, he wasn’t say­ing Re­pub­lic­ans were right to op­pose his stim­u­lus; he was say­ing he hadn’t en­acted an ag­gress­ive enough ap­proach to cre­ate enough jobs. He wasn’t say­ing the price tags for the stim­u­lus were too large; he was say­ing they seemed too large to many people.

In fact, many eco­nom­ists agree that he should have pur­sued a lar­ger stim­u­lus. There is wide­spread sup­port for many com­pon­ents of the Af­ford­able Care Act taken singly, des­pite the many more people who op­pose the law in total. But it’s likely that many people would have op­posed these ef­forts any­way. Some would have done so out of par­tis­an, tri­bal loy­alty, which mo­tiv­ates many people’s polit­ic­al po­s­i­tions. Oth­ers would have done so out of es­sen­tial op­pos­i­tion to big-gov­ern­ment pro­grams. (Obama ac­tu­ally got at this, say­ing, “I think people star­ted look­ing at all this and it felt as if gov­ern­ment was get­ting much more in­trus­ive in­to people’s lives than they were ac­cus­tomed to”—though that “ac­cus­tomed to” seems to again pre­sume that with enough time and the right wrap­ping, they could be con­vinced.)

Many Demo­crats have long thought that white, blue-col­lar voters, who have gradu­ally deser­ted the party since Ron­ald Re­agan was run­ning for pres­id­ent, were just wait­ing for the right ap­proach to lure them back. Demo­crats look at them as clear al­lies who are vot­ing against their own in­terest, if only they could be made to see that. Obama touched on that idea in his In­s­keep in­ter­view, too:
But I do think that when you com­bine that demo­graph­ic change with all the eco­nom­ic stresses that people have been go­ing through be­cause of the fin­an­cial crisis, be­cause of tech­no­logy, be­cause of glob­al­iz­a­tion, the fact that wages and in­comes have been flat­lining for some time, and that par­tic­u­larly blue-col­lar men have had a lot of trouble in this new eco­nomy, where they are no longer get­ting the same bar­gain that they got when they were go­ing to a fact­ory and able to sup­port their fam­il­ies on a single paycheck, you com­bine those things and it means that there is go­ing to be po­ten­tial an­ger, frus­tra­tion, fear—some of it jus­ti­fied but just mis­dir­ec­ted. I think some­body like Mr. Trump is tak­ing ad­vant­age of that. That’s what he’s ex­ploit­ing dur­ing the course of his cam­paign.
This is really just a more del­ic­ate ar­tic­u­la­tion of Obama’s in­fam­ous com­ments in 2008 about voters who “get bit­ter, they cling to guns or re­li­gion or an­ti­pathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-im­mig­rant sen­ti­ment or anti-trade sen­ti­ment as a way to ex­plain their frus­tra­tions.” (In­s­keep, in fact, men­tioned those com­ments later in the in­ter­view.) And it’s not un­like Tom Frank’s What’s the Mat­ter With Kan­sas? thes­is, about cit­izens vot­ing against what lib­er­als see as their own self-in­terest.

Many of the dis­agree­ments here are about more than mes­saging. Per­haps those white, work­ing-class voters aren’t get­ting what they want out of the Demo­crat­ic Party. (Group iden­tity, rather than policy ig­nor­ance, prob­ably goes a long way to ex­plain­ing the dis­crep­ancy.) Maybe people wouldn’t be rad­ic­ally more sup­port­ive of Obama’s do­mest­ic-policy agenda if they just un­der­stood it bet­ter. The fact that no one else has a bet­ter idea for com­bat­ing IS­IS may in­dic­ate the mag­nitude of the chal­lenge, not vin­dic­a­tion for Obama. Ex­plain­ing to voters why you’re right of­ten re­quires first tak­ing ser­i­ously why they think you’re wrong, and ad­apt­ing un­der­ly­ing policies to ad­dress their con­cerns. Someone should fig­ure out how to mes­sage that to the pres­id­ent.

-- And that leads to this.

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, "very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is," Dunning told Life's Little Mysteries

You can't reason with the Idiocrats, so you might as well push their fear and greed buttons.  Seems to be working for the GOP pretty well, yes?  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

People are starting to get it

Thanks to Gadfly, via Twitter... this.

If Hillary Clinton ends up winning the Democratic nomination for president, some Bernie Sanders supporters will vote for her anyway. I can respect that decision. While the differences between Democrats and Republicans are often overstated -- to give just two examples (there are many), the same people advise Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz on foreign policy and Hillary Clinton is at least as cozy with Wall Street as most Republicans -- there are some real and important reasons to worry about a Republican White House. The Supreme Court and heads of agencies are, in my view, the biggest concerns in this vein. I'd have low hopes for Hillary Clinton's appointees but no doubts that they'd be better on balance than those offered by a Trump, Cruz, or Rubio.

Yet I will not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. While I understand the lesser-of-two-evils mentality, I disagree with it; most of Clinton's policy positions are unacceptable to me. If Sanders loses the primary, I will probably vote for Jill Stein.

I don't know if Ben Spielberg of 34justice reads the same things I read or came to the conclusions I did months ago by reading Brains, but it's not all that big a stretch if you value actual progressivism and do some thinking.

Wouldn't that be a strategic blunder, some friends and family ask me? Democrats who aren't quite as polite ask if I'm an idiot. Don't I realize that this type of thinking led to George W. Bush becoming president in 2000 and that I may similarly "blow this election" by deciding to vote my conscience?

The premise of these questions, however, is completely wrong, and not just because, as Jim Hightower documented at the time, voting records show that "Gore was the problem, not Nader," in the 2000 election. In fact, refusing to vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election is both a principled and strategic decision that I encourage more people to embrace.

There are two possibilities when it comes to my vote: it will either impact the outcome of the election or it won't. If my vote won't impact the outcome of the election, I might as well vote for the candidate with the best policy positions, regardless of his or her supposed electability.

If my vote will impact the outcome of the election, I may have to decide which matters more: (a) the differences between a bad Democrat and worse Republican over the next four years or (b) the degree to which I'd undermine our chances to enact fundamental change to a broken political system in the long-run by pursuing a lesser-of-two-evils voting strategy.

I'm going to do the linear, bipolar Democrats a favor here by making their argument -- the one they need to make to non-voters, not to people like me and Spielberg.

"Not a dime's worth of difference."  "Don't vote; it only encourages the bastards."  (I have a Facebook friend -- a former Democratic precinct chair, then a former Green, now a voting atheist who uses that second phrase s good bit.  THE most argumentative person, in the harshest of various ways, I have ever encountered.  And that's quite definitive, but it's also a digression.)

Back on point.

... (T)he type of political "pragmatism" that would lead someone to choose (a) undermines power-balancing policy goals. Because politicians and Democratic party officials know that many voters think this way, they have little incentive to listen to our concerns. Instead, they can pay lip service to progressive values while crafting a policy agenda and decision-making process more responsive to wealthy donors than to their constituents.

That dynamic is on full display already in the 2016 Democratic primary election. Clinton is campaigning against priorities, like single-payer health care, that Democrats are supposed to embrace. While early union endorsements for Clinton initially improved her rhetoric on education issues to some degree, she is already backtracking to assure corporate donors that her positions are unchanged. The unions who endorsed Clinton early have no negotiating power relative to rich donors who make their support contingent on Clinton pursuing their interests; given that fact and her record, she seems unlikely to keep her promises if elected.

The Democratic National Committee's actions are also illustrative. The party establishment lined up behind Clinton before the race even started, and the DNC's debate schedule is, despite their protestations to the contrary, quite obviously constructed to insulate Clinton from challenge. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz's recent decision to suspend Sanders' campaign's access to its voter data (in response to a data breach by a since-fired Sanders staffer; the access was restored after the Sanders campaign sued the DNC) has caused even party loyalists to believe that the DNC "is putting [its] finger on [the] scale" and pro-Clinton journalists to acknowledge that the DNC's behavior "makes Clinton's lead look illegitimate, or at least, invites too many 'what ifs.'"

What is developing for 2016 -- and I thought it was obvious before I wrote yesterday's post -- is that the 'status quo' candidate(s) are going to be, indeed already are, at a strategic disadvantage.

Both Clinton and party leaders are making a mockery of many of the principles the party is supposed to stand for. And pledging to support Clinton in the end -- no matter what she and the DNC do -- enables this kind of behavior. It's hard for me to see how we will ever fix our political process and reclaim our democracy by refusing to draw some lines in the sand.

I could accuse those who disagree with that assessment of propping up a sham political system. I could say that, by downplaying the unfounded smears the Clinton campaign has spread against Sanders and insisting that we must support Clinton in the general if she wins the nomination, they are destroying the Democrats' credibility and thus helping to ensure ever more privilege-defending and corrupt elected officials and government policy. But it would be a lot fairer of me to acknowledge that a lot of the Republicans are really scary, that my strategy isn't guaranteed to work the way I think it will, and that people evaluate the risks differently than I do.

That last sentence is the kindest acknowledgment that can be extended to the Clinton folks.  Spielberg is about to make up for it, though.  Bold emphasis is mine.

Similarly, those who disagree can continue to accuse people like me of "helping the GOP" in the 2016 election by pointing out that the Democrats have extreme flaws and don't always deserve our support. But it would be a lot fairer of them to acknowledge that millions upon millions of people have suffered at the hands of lesser-of-two-evils candidates over the years, that an open commitment to support a lesser-of-two-evils candidate robs voters of bargaining power, and that the Democratic Party has brought voter discontent upon itself.

Bottom line: if Hillary Clinton loses to Donald Trump, it won't be anybody's fault but HERS.  I had to defriend someone on Facebook just yesterday who couldn't understand this, kept typing "Trump/GOP thanks you for your support," etc. and so on.  There's no time to waste with horses' asses, led to water, who refuse to drink.  Too many people outside the current electorate that need persuading to forfeit effort teaching swine to yodel.

Here is another olive branch.

Hopefully Sanders will win the Democratic primary and this discussion will become a moot point. In the meantime, it's good for those of us who believe in social justice to push each other on our tactics. We would just do well to remember that reasonable people with the same goals can disagree about which electoral strategy is most likely to help us achieve them.

Clinton people can do their thing, Sanders' people can do theirs, at least until he is disqualified.  It  makes more sense than to continue antagonizing each other on social media, no?  I don't think not voting sends the right message -- somewhere around 75% of Americans already do that, and I don't get that the powers that be are listening.  I also don't think writing in Sanders' name in November is a good way to go, but at least it's a protest vote and not a protest non-vote.

An alternative to vote in favor of, and not against some objectionable candidate or party -- outside the 'left-right, left-right' -- that matches up best with one's progressive populist principles.  I also think that the movement -- a political revolution, thanks Bernie -- makes the strongest statement when it advocates for a living wage.

Bernie Sanders has many of the right economic ideas, but he's also still too beholden to the military industrial complex as well as an abbreviated version of the Second Amendment (truncating the "well-regulated militia" part, like the NRA and all of its adherents do).  And I simply don't think that his social justice message is going to reach enough minorities to help him get to the lead, and even if he got a sudden groundswell of support that pushed him to the front after winning Iowa and New Hampshire, that the DNC establishment would allow him to claim the nomination.

So the question remains: cast no vote, cast a symbolic protest vote, or cast a vote that really sends the loudest message to the DNC.  The choice has always been, and will continue to be, yours.

All the best of the holiday season to all my readers.  A few Toons posts lie ahead but nothing serious -- unless circumstances warrant -- until after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Schlonger he leads the race...

.. the more terrified the RNC gets.  Terrorism is, after all, the only thing that motivates Republicans, whether they are giving it or receiving it.  Bold throughout Jeff Greenfield's intriguing Politico piece is mine...

Donald Trump may have eased some Republican fears Tuesday night when he declared his intention to stay inside the party. But if their angst has been temporarily eased at the prospect of what he would do if he loses, they still face a far more troubling, and increasingly plausible, question.

What happens to the party if he wins?

With Trump as its standard-bearer, the GOP would suddenly be asked to rally around a candidate who has been called by his once and former primary foes “a cancer on conservatism,” “unhinged,” “a drunk driver … helping the enemy.” A prominent conservative national security expert, Max Boot, has flatly labeled him “a fascist.” And the rhetoric is even stronger in private conversations I’ve had recently with Republicans of moderate and conservative stripes.

This is not the usual rhetoric of intraparty battles, the kind of thing that gets resolved in handshakes under the convention banners. These are stake-in-the-ground positions, strongly suggesting that a Trump nomination would create a fissure within the party as deep and indivisible as any in American political history, driven both by ideology and by questions of personal character.

Indeed, it would be a fissure so deep that, if the operatives I talked with are right, Trump running as a Republican could well face a third-party run—from the Republicans themselves.

Shrillary fans, you should be able to sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads.  I know it's more fun to be angry at Sandernistas...

The history lesson continues.

The most striking examples of party fissure in American politics have come when a party broke with a long pattern of accommodating different factions and moved decisively toward one side. It has happened with the Democrats twice, both over civil rights. The party had long embraced the cause of civil rights in the North while welcoming segregationists—and white supremacists—from across the South. In 1948, the party’s embrace of a stronger civil rights plank led Southern delegations to walk out of the convention. That year, South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond led a National States Rights Democratic Party—the “Dixiecrats”—that won four Southern states. Had President Harry Truman not (barely) defeated Tom Dewey in Ohio and California, the Electoral College would have been deadlocked—and the choice thrown into the House of Representatives, with Southern segregationists holding the balance of power. Twenty years later, Alabama Governor George Wallace led a similar anti-civil-rights third party movement that won five Southern states. A relatively small shift of voters in California would have deadlocked that election and thrown it to the House of Representatives.

In two other cases, a dramatic shift in intraparty power led to significant defections on the losing side. In 1964, when Republican conservatives succeeded in nominating a divisive champion of their cause in Barry Goldwater, liberal Republicans (there were such things back then) like New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Michigan Governor George Romney and others refused to endorse the nominee. More shockingly, the New York Herald-Tribune, the semi-official voice of the GOP establishment, endorsed Lyndon Johnson—the first Democrat it had supported, ever. With his party split, Goldwater went down in flames. Eight years later, when a deeply divided Democratic Party nominated anti-war hero George McGovern, George Meany led the AFL-CIO to a position of neutrality between McGovern and Richard Nixon—the first time labor had refused to back a Democrat for president. Prominent Democrats like former Texas Governor John Connally openly backed Nixon, while countless others, disempowered by the emergence of “new Democrats,” simply sat on their hands. The divided Democrats lost in a landslide.

There was also Ted Kennedy's insurgent 1980 bid for the nomination against Jimmy Carter, and at the end of yesterday's post, I mentioned Connally, Allen Shivers and the Shivercrats who abandoned Adlai Stevenson in favor of Dwight Eisenhower, and Bob Bullock, who endorsed George W. Bush for governor of Texas in 1998 and for president in 2000, as he retired from the lieutenant governorship.  What we are seeing in 2015 -- and will see in '16 -- is an updated version of the same old shit from the duopoly.

Except maybe a little different.

Would a Trump nomination be another example of such a power shift? Yes, although not a shift in an ideological sense. It would represent a more radical kind of shift, with power moving from party officials and office-holders to deeply alienated voters and to their media tribunes. (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham have not exactly endorsed Trump, but they have been vocal in defending him and in assailing those who have branded Trump unacceptable.) It would undermine the thesis of a highly influential book, "The Party Decides", which argues that the preferences of party insiders is still critical to the outcome of a nomination contest. This possibility, in turn, has provoked strong feelings about Trump from some old school Republicans. Says one self-described 'structural, sycophantic Republican' who has been involved at high levels of GOP campaigns for decades: “Hillary would be bad for the country—he’d be worse.” 

Greenfield has more on Lyndon LaRouche, and David Duke, and a few other of the two parties' least desirable elements threatening the respective establishments.  My fascination, as you might imagine, is going to be with the potential independent 2016 presidential candidates.

... Rob Stutzman, another veteran of California Republican politics—he helped spearhead the 2003 recall that put Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Governor’s Mansion—foresees a third party emerging, both as a safe harbor for disaffected GOP voters and to help other Republican candidates.

“I think a third candidate would be very likely on many state ballots,” he says. “First of all, I think most GOP voters would want an alternative to vote for out of conscience. But Trump would also be devastating to the party and other GOP candidates. A solid conservative third candidate would give options to senators like (NH's Kelly) Ayotte, (WI's Ron) Johnson and (IL's Mark) Kirk to run with someone else and still be opposed to Hillary. In fact, I think it’s plausible such a candidate could beat Trump in many states.”

Any candidate attempting a third-party bid would confront serious obstacles, such as getting on state ballots late in the election calendar. As for down-ballot campaigns, most state laws prohibit candidates from running on multiple lines; so a Senate or congressional candidate who wanted to avoid association with Trump would have to abandon the GOP line to re-run with an independent presidential contender. The (Adlai) Stevenson example shows that leaving a major party line is fraught with peril—although the write-in triumph of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2010 suggests that it can sometimes succeed.

Two items worthy of note:

-- GOP Senators have quietly abandoned not just Trump but Ted Cruz (he doesn't play well with others, as we know) in favor of Marco Rubio, and the rumors of a brokered Republican convention are being discussed on Thom Hartman's radio program, where he has already advanced the postulate that Speaker Paul Ryan will emerge from the split, possibly with Rubio as running mate.

-- Christina Tobin of Free and Equal -- they sponsored the 2012 televised debate between the Green's Jill Stein, the Libertarian's Gary Johnson, the Constitution's Virgil Goode, (who recently endorsed Trump) and the Justice's Rocky Anderson -- has taken a ballot-access qualification job with an as-yet-unnamed independent candidate for president.  That candidate is rumored to be... Jim Webb.


R (a): Trump/Cruz, either/or at the top, maybe both together
R (b): Ryan-Rubio?
D: Clinton-Castro
G: Stein
L: Johnson
C: Possibly former Cong. John Hostettler
J: Poll on website asks if the JP should endorse Bernie Sanders 
I:  Webb
Other very minor party and independent candidates TBD

Won't this be fun?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The local Democrats' chairmanship squabble

Not even an anthill -- much less a molehill -- in the grand scheme, but worthy of some brief commentary.  Stace has already weighed in; let's begin here by republishing the full letter from the challenger and the leader of the Gang That Couldn't Get Signatures Straight.

Last week I wrote to all of you announcing that I had filed for a place on the ballot to run for Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party.

I was informed late Friday and again via official letter over the weekend by the chairman of the party Lane Lewis (my opponent) that my petition signatures were invalid and that I had failed to make it onto the ballot for the primary election this March. With my name not on the ballot and the deadline passed, I will not be running for party chair.

Even as I accept the decision, I was very disappointed to receive this news. The signature process is a precise one and requires 48 legible signatures from current precinct chairs. It also requires that none of these chairs sign more than one petition for a single race, yet some had forgotten they had signed Lane Lewis' petition during the summer.

Here in Harris County, our democracy has been dealt a setback. The process to challenge a sitting party chair is convoluted and flawed, and the number of signatures I received displayed a level of anxiety with our party leadership that needs to be addressed immediately. My challenge of Lane Lewis's chairmanship was never personal, but it was meant to send a strong message that change is needed in order for our party to start growing again and winning big.

That message has been sent.

I look forward to remaining a leader in our party and working with all of you to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, promote diversity, fight for equality, and move our city forward.

Thank you, Happy Holidays to you and your family!

-Philippe Nassif

In the bold emphasis above (which is mine), "legible" is not the word used in the election code but "eligible".  Perhaps this is just an unfortunate typo or autocorrect error, but it tells a story about the competence of the very abbreviated campaign Nassif was running.  Also take note in the third paragraph that the description of the process of gaining ballot access for the county chairmanship is described as "precise", and in the very next graf "convoluted and flawed".

It can be both of those things at the same time, which I believe was the author's intent to convey.  But he communicated it poorly: the rules is still the rules, and if you don't like 'em, you need to follow 'em at least long enough to get elected and change 'em.  Don't blame the rules if you can't abide by 'em.  Herein lies the more nuanced dilemma: if precinct chairs can't remember whether they signed a ballot petition for your opponent before they signed yours... whose fault is that?  But more to the problem-solving point: if you're savvy enough to anticipate a potential shortfall, what is your strategy to overcome it?  Anyone who has gathered ballot petition signatures -- which is to say, every single judicial candidate who has run for office in the last several years -- could tell you, and probably at no fee.

Was there an attorney versed in election law on Nassif's campaign?  If there was, did that person give good counsel to the candidate and his team?  Did the campaign not only understand but heed that advice in this regard?  We know the failure was in execution but only Nassif and his Gang of Three (or Four) know the answers to the rest.

I am not a lawyer, as everyone knows, but I did stay at a nationally branded hotel chain recently.  Not last night.  Anyway, best of luck to the rebel faction in 2018, and I hope everybody learned a lesson.  Insert that tired "if you strike at the king" parable here.  Comparing Lane Lewis to Debbie Wasserman Schultz is most assuredly the wrong tack, but when you lose in embarrassing fashion there's always a good excuse or two; just be sure to pick the right one.  I wonder if they would blame a member of the Green Party for their defeat if they could.

Had Nassif cleared the very low bar for ballot qualification, there's an analogy that shows up in Kuff's very cogent post about Adrian Garcia and his challenge to Gene Green: if you can't offer a sensible, demonstrable reason for changing out an incumbent, then the voters simply aren't going to make a change.  The attacks on Lewis were that his bid for Houston city council "caused (TeaBagging Republican) Mike Knox to be elected to AL 1", and he "abandoned his job as chairman" in the process.  The first part of that premise is a laughable fail; using this logic, Knox's election could just as easily be blamed on Tom McCasland, whose city council campaign was funded in large part by Amber and Steve Mostyn.  The second half of the premise simply fails on the evidence: nobody has worked harder to elect Democrats in Harris County than Lewis, with but one possible exception: Art Pronin, the president of the Meyerland Area Democratic club, who poured himself out on the streets and sidewalks of southwest Houston in the mayoral runoff.

As for Nassif, he still has a bright future in Democratic politics, but should be more cautious about who he falls in league with, generally exercising greater due diligence.  As a hint, any bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Young Turk wanting to get a job for Team Blue should look to the Mostyns, who are assimilating all aspects of Texas Democratic and Harris County Democratic politics, internal and external.  Just last week, the their 'longtime advisor', Jeff Rotkoff, was installed at the Texas AFL-CIO as campaigns director.  The power couple are currently hiring loyalists, like the fellow who recently moved from BGTX into the candidate recruitment directorship at the TDP, and the former Steve Costello campaign operative who has taken a high-ranking position at the HCDP, at three times the salary of the previous person in that slot.

Kindly note that GOP experience has no negative bearing on future Democratic leadership positions.  Especially when confronted by progressive Democrats, and especially in Texas, where there is a long history of what we call Blue Dogs today -- Allen Shivers, John Connally, Bob Bullock -- holding themselves out as the last of the Mohican moderate Republicans in the nation.