Monday, October 31, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

Have you voted yet?  In bringing you this week's round up of the best of the Lone Star left, the Texas Progressive Alliance wants to know.

Off the Kuff compares current and older poll results to evaluate the argument that Texas Democrats should not get too giddy.

Socratic Gadfly calls Mark Miller, the Libertarian candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission, a dangerous alternative, and calls out any and all state-level Democratic fixtures endorsing him instead of Green Martina Salinas over Grady Yarbrough.

As if to contradict Gadfly, Texas Leftist changed his endorsement from Green to Libertarian after receiving Mark Miller's candidate questionnaire.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos learned that elections are rigged in a certain way. The rigging is called voter suppression and gerrymandering: Where the Real Rigging Takes Place.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why Texas Republicans hate women and children so much. Funerals for miscarriages? Giving tax cuts to corporations while stiffing health care for children?

Turnout in Harris County and across Texas and the country swelled as Americans chose to end the 2016 presidential election as early as humanly possible. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wrote about his personal experience voting early at one of Houston's heaviest polling places.

Dos Centavos advanced the "Tacos and Votes" rally held this past Saturday to assist GOTLV efforts in Houston.

Egberto Willies trotted out the Daily Beast's tired "privilege" argument against Jill Stein, and both got "straight up butchered" for it by Caitlin Johnstone at the Inquisitr.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston thinks he sees Texas Republicans abandoning Trump.

Texas Vox reports that Public Citizen and three other groups are urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to halt their review of the license application for a high-level nuclear waste dump in Andrews County in West Texas.

Neil at All People Have Value said that if you see a gap, you should fill it in yourself. APHV is part of

And Lewisville gets its first ramen restaurant, reports the Texan-Journal.


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

Culturemap Houston helped reveal Anthony Bourdain's Houston myth-shattering in the most recent episode of Parts Unknown, and Eater Houston has the five best moments from the show.

The Rag Blog eulogized Tom Hayden, one of the nation's most influential liberal political activists, who passed away last week at the age of 76.

David Collins advanced Ajamu Baraka's visit to Houston over the weekend, where the Green Paarty's vice presidential candidate spoke at Texas Southern University and campaigned at the Palm Center early polling place.  (More photos here.)

Somervell County Salon asks if Texans believe in good government.

Lone Star Ma wants to know what your voting plan is.

Grits for Breakfast despairs over the degraded state of Texas high criminal court elections. (This is about the truly awful candidates for the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, about which I have railed repeatedly.)

The TSTA Blog calls on Dan Patrick to put his money where his mouth is on special education.

Mimi Marziani argues that Texas still has a long way to go to get it right on voter registration.

Paradise in Hell wonders how many more Republican judges will switch parties.

Zachery Taylor is convinced that Hillary Clinton is a greater threat to democracy than Trump.

Ashton Woods at Strength in Numbers has the third installment of his Chronicles of an Angry Black Queer: "The Big Ole Fag".

And Pages of Victory gets to vote in person, instead of by mail as in years past.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

More early voting analysis

Whopper, supersized.

Harris County residents cast more ballots in the first four days of early voting than five states did in the entire 2012 presidential election.

Locally, the number of ballots cast over those days was 45 percent higher than the same period four years ago. Other parts of the state, which sported the nation's lowest turnout in 2014, have seen similar growth.


In the 15 most populous Texas counties, turnout in the first three days of early voting equaled one-third of total turnout in 2012, said Derek Ryan, an Austin-based Republican data consultant. In some less populous counties, he said, polling places have been "just completely swamped, they aren't used to seeing this many people show up to vote."

And it's not just Texas.

"We're seeing reports of record turnout for this point in time across the country," said Michael McDonald, director of the United States Elections Project. "You (Texas) are really off the scale compared to the other states."

I got the following off the (Democrats') Senate District 17 Facebook page, posted there by their chairman, Tom Gederberg.

Updated Harris County Early Voting and Mail Ballot Results for Friday

So far 374,679 people early voted in Harris County (and each days number was greater than the previous day: 67,471 on Monday, 73,542 on Tuesday, 76,098 on Wednesday, 76,329 on Thursday, and 81,239 on Friday) and 77,445 people have so far turned turned in a mail ballot!

There is a slight lag in getting the data loaded into VAN. So far, VAN has data on 276,292 early voters and on 63,293 mail voters. If you assume that people who have a 2016 DNC Dem Party Support v2 score of over 50% is a likely Democrat and those with a score under 50% is a likely Republican, here is how the voting looks in Harris County so far:
VAN Early Total: 276,292
Likely Democrat: 150,530 (54.48%)
Likely Republican: 125,762 (45.52%)
VAN Mail Total: 63,293
Likely Democrat: 35,063 (55.40%)
Likely Republican: 28,230 (44.60%)

One note of caution. Our percentages have gone down from yesterday. Yesterday, our early vote percentage was 56.47% and our mail vote percentage was 56.26%. Also, these percentages are only as good as the 2016 DNC Dem Party Support scores in VAN.

I am disinclined to believe that Friday's development w/r/t Hillary's latest email thing is going to influence a measurable amount of those who have not yet voted.  This is not the October Surprise some have been waiting for, and even if it were, I simply don't think it will sway many people.  The Democrats I know have demonstrated a remarkable ability to ignore, minimize, or give credence to her many scandals, flaws, foibles, and policies that are anathema to progress.  They have applied their own coat of Teflon to Madam President, and I do not expect their beliefs are going to change very much over the next ten days ... or even the next four years.

Back to the turnout: the EV numbers have indeed been increasing every day, and today's total will be the highest perhaps seen for the period.  With more data and more granular analysis, the easier it becomes to divine a wave election.

"The first four days looked pretty good for local Democrats," said (UH's Dr. Richard) Murray, who has studied Harris County voting patterns since 1966. "More female, more ethnic, less Caucasian."

The county's turnout so far has been 57 percent female, Murray said, compared with the typical 54 percent, which he called "probably something of a Trump effect."

Stephen Klineberg, founder of Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, said the county's Democratic shift was a long time coming.

He pointed to a 2016 study by the Institute, which showed Harris County had been evenly split between Democrats and Republicans since studies began in 1984.

In 2005, 35 percent of respondents identified as Democrat and 37 percent identified as Republican. In 2016, 52 percent identified as Democrat and 30 percent as Republican.

That change was mostly due to population growth and changing party affiliation among Latinos, who make up 51 percent of the population under 20 in Harris County, he said.

"Pundits have been predicting this for years," Klineberg said. "There are some indications that we are beginning to see signs of that inevitable transformation in this election year, earlier than most pundits expected."

Let's hope all these Democrats are NOT voting straight-tickets.  Too many lousy statewide judicials that don't deserve a single vote, after all.  More at the Chron's link, and more later as the numbers come in from over the weekend.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Election scattershooting

-- Harris County and Texas turnout continue to break records.  Marc Campos still doesn't know what's happening, so here's the breakdown for Harris County's five heaviest boxes, my guess as to how they lean, and from the SoS, Texas' fifteen-largest counties' turnout as of Wednesday.

  1. Metropolitan Multi-Service Center (known colloquially as 'West Gray') with 12,802 (heavy D).
  2. Juergen's Hall Community Center with 11,945 (heavy R).
  3. Bear Creek Park Community Center with 11,625 (heavy R).
  4. Champion Forest Baptist Church with 11,488 (heavy R).
  5. Bayland Park Community Center (where I voted Monday) with 8,656. (more D than R).

Close behind are Jersey Village City Hall (R), Kingwood Library (heavy R), and Nottingham Park (heavy R), all with more than 8000 early votes cast as of last night.

Since we're just spitballing, I'd have to say that the Republicans in Harris County might not be in as much trouble as we've been portending.

Click on it for a clearer picture or go here. Note that Harris County's turnout is 50 percent larger than second-place Dallas County.  This is why the emphasis on the state's largest county is so great.  The metro counties -- Harris and Dallas, then Bexar and Travis -- are more blue than red, but third-largest Tarrant and the suburban DFW counties of Denton (6th) and Collin (7th) are crimson-colored.  The three counties that round out the top ten are blue: El Paso, Hidalgo, and Fort Bend (which is actually purple, but trending azure and there are high hopes for a flip).

-- Alas for excited Democrats, a glob of recent polling appears to show the the prize of Texas' 38 Electoral College votes just out of Clinton's reach.

-- Still think there's a big difference between Democrats and Republicans, especially in Texas?  You really need to revisit that thinking.

-- One of the more under-reported stories of late has been the polling deflation of the Libertarian ticket.  This week Johnson-Weld hit three percent; less than two months ago it was ten.  It appears that's one of the places Hillary Clinton has siphoned votes from as she has surged, and the message to millennials about moving over from Gold to Blue seems to be working.

Update: Johnson's more recent meltdowns, captured on camera by HBO and The Guardian, aren't going to help him.

-- The Justice Department is coming to monitor Houston polls for 'irregularities".

Six teams of Justice Department officials will be dispatched to observe Election Day voting at 75 polling locations in Harris County as part of an investigation into allegations that the county failed to provide reasonable access to mobility-impaired voters.

Harris County will field its own teams on Election Day as part of an arrangement approved Thursday by U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett.

Bennett, however, told county officials that he found it "deeply disturbing" that Justice Department observers saw a visibly armed county investigator with a badge filming an elderly African-American woman with a walker entering a polling place this week for early voting.

"That's voter intimidation," the judge said, ordering the Harris County Attorney's Office to provide written notice explaining how it plans to avoid a repeat of the scenario.

-- Texas Leftist's endorsements were mostly Democrats, but he did work in a couple of Greens -- Martina Salinas (Texas Railroad Commission) and Joe McElligott (HD-127) -- and a couple of Republicans.  He apparently missed the memo on the shitty Dems running for the state Supreme Court and Court of Criminal AppealsSocratic Gadfly knocked down the fervor for the Libertarian running for the Railroad Commission.

-- Wonder Woman flies her invisible plane to Houston to stump for Hillary today.

On Friday, October 28, Actress Lynda Carter, television’s original Wonder Woman, and Hillary for Texas will host a phone bank with supporters in Houston. Carter knows that Hillary Clinton will continue to lift up American children and families while fighting against Trump’s dangerous and divisive rhetoric. At the event, Carter will discuss how supporters can mobilize from now until Election Day to ensure that Hillary Clinton becomes the next President of the United States.

With more people voting in this election than any in history, Carter will urge Texans voters to take advantage of in-person early voting. Voters can check their registration status and learn more at

Media planning to cover the event are asked to RSVP to Miryam Lipper at

Hillary for Texas - Phone Bank with Actress Lynda Carter
WHEN:  3:00 pm  Friday, October 28
WHERE: Headworks International, 11000 Brittmoore Park Dr Houston, Texas 77041
I'd absolutely be willing to get roped with the Lasso of Truth, but the words coming out of my mouth would still be "I have already voted for Jill Stein".

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ajamu Baraka at UTD on Friday, TSU on Saturday

Say this for the Greens: they clearly understand that because the Texas Democratic Party is so lame, the best opportunity for collecting the most votes is right here.

-- See Ajamu Baraka speak at the University of Texas-Dallas on Friday, October 28.  Details here.  Introduced by one of my very favorite Congressional candidates, Gary Stuard, running in the 32nd (incumbent Pete Sessions, no Democrat filed).

-- And on Saturday, October 29, at Texas Southern University.  Details here.

In his own words, speaking about the Green Party's Southern Strategy.

We have to recognize, as we struggle to dismantle this system, we also have to survive. We have to build dual power where we confront and utilize the state and local level to win real concessions for the people, while we also make sure that we have independent structures outside of the state and we’re building within these independent structures additional survival programs. So what we have for example is Cooperative Jackson in Jackson, Miss., that’s committed toward building real worker co-ops. Those kind of efforts we need to support, and if we had nominal state power, we have in our platform a program to provide real, direct federal support to worker cooperatives and businesses as part of a transitional program.

We also believe we’ve got to have federal intervention to address the astronomical rates of unemployment among people of color—both in the urban area but in the parts of the country that people seem to forget about, the rural areas. And the grinding unemployment and grinding poverty that we find. We have to force local and state governments to address this specific reality that face black youth and black working-class people in general. While we struggle, we have to build structures, and one of the structures there for the taking is, in fact, the Green Party structure.

What I’m engaged in right now is a Green Party Southern strategy where we suggest specifically to black folks in the South that you have an instrument that can be used if you want to challenge the power of the Democrats in the various states to mount a real opposition to the control of the Republicans. Even in those states where you have Republican political control, there’s still a lot of collaboration with the Democratic Party. People are comfortable playing that role and they’re not really providing a real challenge to these Republican governors. If you want to have real opposition, you have to have a structure in place to engage in real oppositional politics. The Green Party can be that force that provides an instrument of direct challenge and to also place pressure on those black Democrats that continue to sell out the interests of black communities by collaborating with white power in the South.

Does this sound like white privilege to you?  All your conceptions about what the Green Party is and stands for have been turned on their ear.  If you're still undecided on whom to vote for at the top of your ballot -- but especially if you're thinking about writing in Bernie Sanders (just ten states will count those, and none of them are Texas) -- take another look.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Turnout swollen as voters wish to be done with this election

Pro tip: voting early stops the flood of junk to your mailbox.  (The state runs a program every night marking early voters each day as out of the pool, so for example, I cannot go back and vote again today.  Or tomorrow.  Or on Election Day.)

Monday's turnout of 67,471 in-person voters shattered the (Harris) county record of 47,093 set in 2012 for the first day of early voting. Another 61,543 mail ballots had been returned as of Monday, bringing the total number of early voters so far to 129,014 in Texas' most populous county.

Records were also broken by substantial margins in counties such as Dallas and Tarrant, which reported first-day turnouts of about 43,000 each. Bexar and Travis counties reported about 30,000 first-day voters apiece.

Also in Nueces (heavy D not so much) and Denton (formerly blood red but these days a little more purple).  Update: And via Chisme: Williamson, Bastrop, and Hays, the suburban (R-dominant) counties surrounding Austin and Travis County.  Charles's post keeps us up to date on the minutia of the first voting day in this cycle; my experience yesterday at the Bayland Park EV location in southwest Houston has me rethinking what I should be forecasting as to how things might turn out for Texas and Harris County.

That photo above (courtesy Chron) is what my usual EV poll, the Fiesta Mart on South Main at Kirby Drive, in the shadow of NRG Stadium, looked like yesterday about 1 p.m. as I pulled in to find parking.  Out the door, across the front, and wrapping around the corner of the building to some distance I could not see.  That photo -- and this next one more clearly -- shows the line doubling back, serpentine-style.

I don't know whether that was earlier or later in the day.  All I know is when I saw that queue -- again in just single file, not back and forth as the photos show -- I turned my truck toward the exit and headed for Bayland.

Experience has taught me that Fiesta has a small area for voting, a smaller number of voting machines (less than 24) and that a line out the door generally means a line snaking down the aisles inside the store.  In 2008 I waited 45 minutes to cast my ballot during EV's first week, the longest I've ever stood on queue to vote, and my wife waited about the same time on the only Saturday of early voting.  In 2012, a larger turnout than four years' previous, it took us both about half an hour to vote together at Fiesta.

Bayland has more parking, more e-Slates (yesterday, about 36), which means an extra election clerk manning a third JBC, the machine that prints the four-digit access code the voter uses to sign in to access his or her ballot.  (A more detailed description of this process is here.)  As I parked and walked in, I asked some of the card pushers outside if they were getting any reports about the wait time.  I also asked some voters as they made their way past me to their parked cars.  The consensus was an hour-ish, in some case 90 minutes, and one person said 'two hours'.  That gave me pause, but I ambled on toward the end of the line anyway.

It became rapidly clear to me that this would be a long wait, but it appeared to be steadily moving along and so I queued up, read my phone for 10 or 15 minutes and then took note of the fact that the Bayland poll also had the line folding back on itself through several meeting rooms inside the community facility.  The longer I waited, the more I wished I had not, although there were many voters much older than me sticking it out, and there were plenty of chairs in each room to sit and wait, so I hung on, though my feet and back were both aching after the first hour.

The rationale for enduring this should be obvious by now.

"We just want to get it over with," Sam Tabb said as he stood in line at a polling station in Pasadena. "We will be glad when this whole thing is over. It's just been a real zoo. In my lifetime, it's probably the worst election ever."

Brandy Holmes, a 31-year-old engineer who said she'd marked Monday on her calendar weeks ago, echoed that sentiment. "Let's just get this over with."

It was another hour and fifteen minutes before I reached the clerk's tables, and having performed this pollworker task myself in many elections in the past, immediately noted the bottleneck: the clerks at the sign-in table were moving the mass of weary voters far too slowly.  While there were three rows of twelve e-Slates, each row with its own JBC clerk, the e-Slates themselves were mostly unoccupied; at least eight of the voting machines on each row were standing vacant, waiting for a voter.  I found that to be inexcusable but did not offer a complaint.  (At Fiesta, a voter typically has to wait a minute or two for an e-Slate to become available after signing in and getting a PIN).

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said he'd expected a record-breaking turnout of as many as 55,000 voters, but that even he was surprised by the number who actually came out.

Stanart said his office did receive numerous complaints about long lines at early-voting spots. He recommended that those planning to vote this week check the turnout numbers by location at and head to a spot with low turnout to avoid long lines.

Elections officials will be sending extra laptops to select locations on Tuesday in order to speed up the process, Stanart said.

The lines started forming early and stayed long throughout the day, snaking around buildings at polling places at several locations. By the afternoon, Harris County election officials said voters were casting 6,000 votes per hour. As the polls closed, people were still in line at some places.

It turns out I probably would have had a shorter wait had I stayed at the supermarket: as the County Clerk's spreadsheet revealed last night, Fiesta processed under 1300 voters, well behind its usual top ten heaviest county boxes, while Bayland had over 1900.  No telling how many folks saw long lines at both polls, and elsewhere throughout the county, and did not bother.

Perhaps the slowdown wasn't those clerks' fault, though.  Some voters had questions that bogged things down a bit; some were slow to produce ID, but none that I saw were being forced into the 'affidavit of reasonable impediment' to producing photo ID-route.  While my wait was about to come to an end, I asked one of the officiating clerks about that process and she said those voters would have to defer to a side table, complete the affidavit... and then go to the back of the line.  The clerk at that table was playing a game on her phone.

Here it is important to note a truism with respect to long waits at polling places.

We've known this sort of thing has happened at least since Election 2004, when despite the HAVA's enactment in the wake of the debacle that was Election 2000, several factors -- among them Ken Blackwell, Diebold, and specifically black precincts in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati -- threw Ohio to George Walker Bush.

Voter suppression, you see, is even more difficult to prove than so-called voter 'fraud'.

(Is the system 'rigged', as Trump has stoked the fears of?  The right answer is: it always has been, in some form or fashion, small or large -- from the time of Landslide Lyndon and before -- all the way to the present day.  It's just that the only people complaining about it are the ones who think it's rigged against them, and that changes from one election to the next.)

So let's hope that this blue wave poised to sweep Texas, boosted perhaps even by the so-far mythical Latino surge, isn't going to be intimidated by Republican efforts to build -- or hold their fingers in -- the dike against it.  And speaking of water, bring a bottle with you, maybe a snack, possibly your medications, to the poll when you get ready to cast your ballot.

So for the money shot: that ten-point lead in Harris County no longer looks like an outlier, and it's a pure tossup that Texas flips, unless voter turnout starts to wane through the rest of the EV period or on Election Day itself.  Nate Silver still doesn't think so, but I feel like I need to hedge my longstanding skepticism.  I think it's within the Democrats' grasp ... but they could still fumble it.

Update: DBC with "Texas Swingin'? I Ain't Buyin' It."

Update II: Here's more goat-entrail reading from EV Day One from Texas Monthly and the Chron (tl;dr: it's still too early to say, but the trends are interesting).

Monday, October 24, 2016

The 2016 P-Slate

-- For President of the United States:

-- For US Congress, Seventh District:  None.

Jim "Frack You" Cargas is en route to a third consecutive beatdown at the hands of John Culberson.  Frack both of these rotten fellows.  This race is left blank, again, on my ballot.

-- For Texas Railroad Commission: Martina Salinas, Green Party.

Picking between the two major party candidates for this office is actually worse than choosing between Trump and Clinton.  So for all you straight-party voting morons out there on both sides, wise up and split your ticket.  The Libertarian has been praised, but Texas needs an environmental steward and not another corporate stooge on the board that regulates the oil and gas industry.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 3: Rodolfo Rivera Munoz, Green Party.

Munoz seeks to become the first indigenous American elected to the state Supreme Court.  He elucidates the reasons he has for running in videos on his Facebook page.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 5: Charles E. Waterbury, Green Party.

The Democrats have a strong candidate, but I won't be voting for her.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 9: Jim Chisholm, Green Party.

The Republican incumbent is heavily favored, and the Democrat is a placeholder (no updates to her FB page since January).

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Adam King Blackwell Reposa, Green Party.

The Democrat is a former Republican who favors the death penalty to a greater degree than even the notorious chief justice of this court, Sharon Keller.  Pass.

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Judith Sanders-Castro, Green Party.

The Democrat is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.  A complete and total embarrassment.

(Betsy) Johnson filed in the last hour of the last day to put her name in contention, the Texas Democratic Party confirmed.

State District Judge Sid Harle of Bexar County - who lost a bid for the GOP nod for the Place 5 seat - said he met Johnson after she was dropped from the appointment list for indigent defendants facing felony charges in 2011.

He said other criminal court judges pressed for the action. Since he was the presiding judge, she came to his office to dispute it.

"I hear this clomping outside my door, and she comes storming into my office in, of course, combat boots," said Harle. He said he advised Johnson to work as second chair without pay in a couple of trials to prove to the judges she could try a case, but she refused with an expletive.

Johnson, who is described as partial to unconventional attire such as the combat boots noted by Harle, couldn't be reached for this story. She didn't respond to an email inquiry, and there was no answer at the telephone number she has listed with the State Bar of Texas.

I've covered this previously.  If you vote for this person -- and especially if you're voting for her as a result of a mindless straight-party ticket -- then you're just as bad as she is.

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6: Robert Burns, Democratic Party.

Finally a statewide Democrat I can support.  Let's hope Hillary Clinton's coattails in Texas are long enough to get some balance on the CCA.

-- First Court of Appeals Democrats Jim Peacock and Barbara Gardner should be elected, as should be Fourteenth Court of Appeals Democrats Candace White and Peter Kelly.

The only Harris Democratic state district judge you should not vote for is running in the 215th, Elaine Palmer.  I'll cite her Republican challenger (but won't be voting for him myself).

-- Harris County District Attorney: Kim Ogg.

-- Harris County Attorney: Vince Ryan.

-- Harris County Sheriff: Ed Gonzalez.

-- Harris County Tax assessor/Collector: Ann Harris Bennett.

-- Harris County Commissioner, Place 1, Rodney Ellis, and Place 3, Jenifer Rene Pool.

-- Here's a great resource that lists all the Harris County candidates, all races and parties.  Among them, and if I could do so, I'd be voting for Joshua Darr (G) in CD-02 (Ted Poe, incumbent), Hal Ridley (Green, no Democrat running) against the odious Brian Babin in CD-36, Joe McElligott in HD-127 (G, no D running against R incumbent Dan Huberty) and Brian Harrison (G) in HD-147 (Garnet Coleman, incumbent).

-- I'll be voting Against on HISD Prop 1, aka recapture.

Here's the League of Women Voters' Guide, here's the HGLBT Caucus card (very useful for Harris judicial contests) and Deb Russell -- the Green Party's Travis County Sheriff candidate -- also has a progressive's voting guide posted at Facebook for the state capital region.

Questions about other races elsewhere in Texas?  Leave 'em in the comments.

Update: Two hours and twenty minutes on queue at Bayland Park to vote this afternoon.  A 'longest ever' record for me.  I voted there because the lines looked longer at Fiesta on South Main, where the longest I ever waited to vote before today was 45 minutes in 2008.  I believe anybody who might be waiting until Saturday or next week to vote early might be in for a longer wait.  IJS.

The Polls are Open Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the opening of early voting -- and the beginning of the end of the very worst election in our nation's long history -- as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the state of the polls in Texas.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos encourages all Democrats to show up at the voting polls. Texas Democrats have a fighting chance this year. We can right a boatload of Republican wrongs. Nasty Ladies of Texas Unite! Houston is not impressed by Trump.

Socratic Gadfly, given ongoing recent problems in his (Deep East Texas) area, says it's time to nationalize the Internet.

Can Hillary Clinton actually carry Texas in the Electoral College?   PDiddie at Brains and Eggs notes that blue teamers are desperately trying to squeeze out the 1 or 2% the Green Party is polling in order to do so.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Sean Hannity's pick for speaker of the US House, Louis Gohmert, isn't the worst East Texas Republican this week. Brian Babin is.

Bay Area Houston has instructions for those who plan on voting illegally.

Texas Leftist has his first candidate questionnaire posted: Matt Murphy (R), HD-147.

Two Lewisville ISD Special Olympics volunteers were feted, reports the Texan-Journal.

And Neil at All People Have Value admired the urban amber waves of Houston. APHV is part of


Jonathan Tilove passes along the thoughts inside Donald Trump's head, as foreordained by South Austin's very own Alex Jones.

Zachery Taylor wonders if Hillary Clinton is indeed rigging the 2016 election (with Trump's help).

The Rag Blog's David Hamilton, one of its original contributors, endorses Jill Stein for president.

Cody Pogue thinks that a bad president is better than a revolution.

BOR is crowdsourcing Texas Republican elected officials' support of Donald Trump, and Kyrie O'Connor and Eileen Smith are #NastyWomen.

Daniel Williams and Leah Binkovitz explain the options in the HISD recapture referendum.

The Texas Election Law Blog rounds up some good reads on voter registration and resistance to it.

Keep Austin Wonky does a deep dive on the “Go Big” mobility bond.

PoliTex reports that candidates are lining up to file against incumbent Fort Worth city council members for next spring's municipal elections.

Lawflog notes another day and another judge's ethical whitewash.

The Lunch Tray wants to know why it's hard to find out information about sugar in school food.

Transgriot reminds us that it is not incumbent upon the people who are being oppressed to forgive their oppressors.

John Wright at the Texas Observer rounds up the latest LGBTQ news from around Texas, including Lite Guv Dan Patrick's push for an anti-trans bathroom bill in next year's legislative session.

Ashton Woods at Strength in Numbers turns in his 'gay' two weeks' notice.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"How charges of 'voter fraud' became a political strategy" and more last-minute election scattershooting

-- Republicans believe many more urban legends than Democrats do.

In asserting that the presidential election has been rigged against him and casting accusations of widespread voter fraud, Donald J. Trump has tapped deep into an increasingly prevalent theme of Republican Party politics: that Democrats try to steal elections, not win them.

It is the culmination of roughly two decades of alarms, investigations and political gamesmanship in which remarkably little voter fraud has been documented, but the conviction that it is widespread has gone from a fringe notion to an article of faith for many Republicans.

Many facts to read and absorb there, defanging the wolves cried about by little boys.  Some of which we already knew ...

(A) study by Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who currently works in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, uncovered only 31 credible claims of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2014, out of one billion ballots that were cast. An Arizona State University journalism project reviewed 2,068 allegations of election fraud between 2000 and 2012 and concluded that only 10 had involved misrepresentation.

Greg Abbott is a disciple of this sub-religion, and we're still waiting for the big reveal in Tarrant County.  I'm surprised we've had to wait this long, frankly; there's a lot of early votes that need suppressing beginning Monday. 

-- The Homo Haters return to Houston once again for some last-minute GOTBV (Get Out the Bigot Vote).  This is protest-worthy, so I hope some of the HERO organizers and HGLBT Caucus folks have some energy left over after all of the blockwalking for Landslide Hillary to represent for themselves outside the Marriott Hobby next weekend.

-- Was your internet broken yesterday?  Mine wasn't.  Gadfly has been complaining about his for awhile now and has gone the full socialist about it, as in 'Wifi is a human right'.  Seriously though, it's probably not the Russians but somebody's smart thermostat gone sentient like the Hosts in Westworld.  This is probably what we have to look forward to in a brave new (overheating) world, and a good enough reason why we shouldn't be voting online.  Paper ballots, goddammit.

Off to enjoy this beautiful day; back tomorrow with the Funnies.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Latest UH poll has Clinton, Ogg building momentum

The blue wave is gathering strength.

A survey released (October 20) by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs illustrates Harris County’s continuing move toward the Democratic Party, with Democrat Hillary Clinton beating Republican Donald Trump by seven points and several high-profile down-ballot Democratic candidates showing similar momentum.

Clinton received support from 43 percent of Harris County voters who said they are certain or very likely to vote, compared to 36 percent for Trump. If those numbers hold, they would mark a far higher margin of victory for Clinton in Texas’ largest county than that for Barack Obama, who beat Republican John McCain by 1.63 percent in Harris County in 2008 and Mitt Romney by less than 1 percent in 2012.

Gary Johnson gets 6%, Jill Stein has 1%, and 15% are 'undecided', 'none of the listed candidates', or declined to answer.  Not wild about this poll or its mostly undisclosed demographics, but the results don't feel particularly wrong to me, save the high number of undecideds for a "certain to vote/likely to vote" screen.   For example, look at these:

  • Among Republican voters, 4 percent are voting for Clinton while 1 percent of Democratic voters are voting for Trump.
  • Ten percent of Democrats are undecided about who to vote for in November’s presidential contest. Only 6 percent of Republicans are undecided. 
  • Almost a third (31 percent) of all independents are undecided about who they will vote for in the presidential contest.
  • Third party candidate Johnson is receiving 18 percent of the independent vote.
  • Among independents, Clinton leads Trump 32 percent to 14 percent. 
  • Forty-three percent of Johnson’s supporters identify themselves as ‘leaning Republicans.’

But the screwiest part includes this item:

  • Males support Clinton's candidacy over Trump by 39% to 38%

Really?!  Some ethnicity was oversampled (and it wasn't white men over the age of 50).

In the race for Harris County District Attorney, Democratic challenger Kim Ogg leads incumbent Republican Devon Anderson by 7 points, 40 percent to 33 percent. Incumbent Republican Sheriff Ron Hickman is in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Ed Gonzalez, with Hickman ahead by 1 point, 37 percent to 36 percent.

The latest survey appears to show a decided shift toward the Democratic Party in Harris County over the past four weeks, when an earlier Hobby School survey showed district attorney candidates Anderson and Ogg in a virtual tie, 30 percent to 29 percent, and Hickman beating Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent. Because the wording of questions on the two surveys was not identical, Hobby School officials said it is difficult to draw direct comparisons.

Gonzalez is the last candidate I would have thought would need to come from behind, but it looks as if he's doing exactly that.  I think these results bode well for other county executive races, like Vince Ryan's and Ann Harris Bennett's, and certainly the Democratic judicials.  Since early voting begins on Monday and so many folks that I know are ready to get it over with, it's going to be interesting to see how the EV totals match up with Election Day.  (That's what we have Charles for, thankfully.)  One last thing to note about this poll.

A Hobby School statewide survey released Tuesday found that Trump leads Clinton by only 3 percentage points in Texas, equal to the margin of error.

I just don't think it's going to be that close.  More like Trump by six or seven points, almost certainly less than ten, but not three or even four.  Who among you reading this is waiting until the last minute to decide?  Who's holding out until November 8 just in case there's an October (or November) surprise?  Let's hear from you in the comments.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Can the Dems flip the House in 2016?

The few prognostications available show it remaining out of reach.  Nate Silver has nothing new that I could find, but Larry Sabato is on the case.

Last updated Oct. 20, 2016. Current outlook: Democratic gain of 10-15 seats, short of the 30 net seats they need to gain to win the House.

You can use's map to go granular and fiddle with the numbers.  The best-case scenario for the Blues that I could come up with is 232 R and 200 D (there are three House seats awaiting a special election after November to be filled.)  Sabato's projection above matches mine, and has those vacancies blue for a fifteen-point swing, still short of Democratic control by the same number.  So the Dems are only halfway to the count they need to take the gavel away from Paul Ryan and give it back to Nancy Pelosi.

Could it get better for them in the remaining two-and-one-half weeks before Election Day?  Does Trump have any more suicide bombs to detonate?  Could the Republicans retreat and retrench using the 'block President Clinton' maneuver?  We'll just have to wait and see, but I'll go ahead and predict that the House stays in conservative hands.

Downballot Repubs try to avoid going down with the SS Trump

They got on the Trump Train, now they're fleeing the sinking ship.

Republicans are despondent that Donald Trump threw away his third — and final — chance to win votes for himself and GOP congressional candidates at Wednesday night’s presidential debate.

Trump appears increasingly unlikely to win the 270 electoral votes needed to gain the White House, but the party that nominated him is growing more concerned that they’ll lose majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House, reported Politico.

“The biggest loser (Wednesday) was not Trump — the presidential race is over,” said GOP pollster Robert Blizzard. “Instead, down-ticket Republicans lost tonight. They needed some help and got absolutely none.”

Paul Ryan is busy trying to unshackle R-bots like Will Hurd from Trump, but I think it's too late.

With polls showing Trump is headed for a resounding loss, Republicans may start trying to salvage their congressional races by promising to serve as a “check and balance” against a likely Hillary Clinton presidency.

“Trump was already behind,” said Bill Kristol, a Trump critic and editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard. “He didn’t help himself (Wednesday), indeed he hurt himself. He’s very likely to lose, and to lose badly. He’ll drag the Senate and House down with him unless Senate and House candidates can make the case they’re needed to check and balance Hillary.”

Nate Silver sees the US Senate flipping with R incumbents Mark Kirk (IL), Pat Toomey (PA), Roy Blount (MO), Kelly Ayotte (NH), and Ron Johnson (WI) all losing.  Indiana (D Evan Bayh) and Nevada (D Catherine Cortez Masto, recently surging) are holds for the Blue team, while Florida (Little Marco Rubio) and Ohio (Rob Portman) stay Red.  North Carolina (incumbent R Richard Burr and D challenger Deborah Ross) is rated a toss-up, but Burr has maintained a small lead throughout.  That would also be a hold for the Pachyderms if he hangs on.  All of that coming true leaves a Senate majority going to the Democrats by a count of 52-48.

Click the map to create your own at

Later: Is the House in play or not? (The Dems need thirty seats).

"I'll keep you in suspense"

Donald Trump looked more prepared for policy questions and attacks Wednesday night than he did in the first two presidential debates.

But after the final debate in Las Vegas, commentators and even Trump's fellow Republicans focused mostly on one moment. Trump repeated his assertion that he may not accept the outcome of the presidential election.

"What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense," Trump said when asked if he would accept the election results.

No presidential candidate in our history has ever done more damage to himself than Hair Furor.  It's testament to our American division that 40% of the nation's electorate eats this shit up with a spoon, and the rest of us draw back in revulsion.

Even after the most substantive debate of the general election, GOP lawmakers, commentators and cable news shows focused mostly on Trump's statement about the election results. Public officials have alleged election tampering before, but not weeks ahead of the results are known, as Trump repeatedly has this week.

After the debate, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt told MSNBC that Trump won almost all of the debate but "hit himself in the head and knocked himself out" with the comment.

Former and current Republican officials also seized on the comment. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was among the Republican presidential hopefuls during the primaries, called Trump's comments about a "rigged" election "a great disservice" to the party and the United States.


Trump's statement may appeal to his anti-establishment followers, but it was unlikely to reverse opinion polls that show him losing, including in key states that will decide the election.

"That is not the way our democracy works," Clinton said during the debate. "We've been around for 240 years. We've had free and fair elections. We've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election."

Later she told reporters: "What he said tonight is part of his whole effort to blame somebody else for where he is in his campaign."


Neoconservative Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard political magazine, tweeted: "I deplore what Trump said and refused to say about accepting the election results. Confirms one's judgment he shouldn't be president."

Trump's running mate, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, said Trump "will accept the outcome" because he is going to win.

But Republican strategist Ryan Williams found Trump's statement "deeply concerning."

"You have to accept the results of the election unless there are grounds for a recount and at this point it does not appear that we're heading for a close election," he said.

The GOP is going to have to get a divorce from itself.  Irreconcilable differences.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona tweeted that Trump's inability to say he would accept the results is "beyond the pale." Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called his comments "dumb."

Many lawmakers and commentators have challenged Trump's comments about election rigging because state and local officials — many of whom are Republicans — control voting.

Trump will accept the results "absent irregularities and widespread fraud," his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC after the debate.

Ivanka Trump said earlier in the day that her father would 'do the right thing'.  The Trump camp is having a special kind of discordant moment, and I'll assume that cooler heads within it will soothe the savage breast, but The Barking Yam has spoken.  And We The People are about to silence him.

It's a good thing this election isn't close; it frees up people from voting their fears instead of their hopes.  There are lots of Democrats and Republicans who will do the opposite, of course, but that's just shallow thinking.  There are going to be many teachable moments coming out of 2016 that can be analyzed without the din and roar of the present clouding folks' judgement.

There was more last night about other topics, many of them with greater substance than the two previous encounters, but Trump's deflation of democracy is the only one that mattered.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump's last stand in Vegas

You know he'll be betting it all.

The final presidential debate of the 2016 campaign here Wednesday night is shaping up to be the last substantial opportunity for Donald Trump to fundamentally alter a race that is breaking demonstrably in favor of Hillary Clinton.

A ream of battleground state polls released three weeks from Election Day is showing Clinton as a sturdy front-runner with consistent leads and an array of pathways to 270 electoral votes. Trump, on the other hand, is sounding increasingly morose, claiming he no longer trusts the polling he heralded for so many months and blaming a likely loss on a "rigged system."

Yeah yeah, boo fucking hoo.

The final presidential debate is (tonight) at 9 p.m. It's the last chance either candidate will have to make their closing argument before tens of millions of voters.

It follows yet another unprecedented week in the campaign, in which Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the election, predicting that it will be stolen from him through media bias and massive voter fraud.

Hillary Clinton has a lead in the polls nationally and her battleground map of opportunities appears to be growing. The Clinton campaign is even talking about making an aggressive play for Arizona.
Here are 4 things to watch for as the two candidates meet in Las Vegas.

1.  Will Trump go high or low (take a wild guess);
2.  Will Trump commit to accepting the results of the election (and stop fomenting revolution)?

3.  How does Clinton answer the questions revealed in the Wiklieaked emails (about her campaign's obnoxious pandering to Lloyd Blankfein to petty dismissal of the concerns of 'radical environmentalists'), and ...

4.  Will Clinton make a positive case for herself (one that is believable, not full of the usual political tropes and promises she has no intention of keeping)?

Her top strategist, Joel Benenson, wrote to other campaign strategists, "Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?"

Watch the Twitter feed to the top right if you can't stand to watch it live.  Ted Rall, as he has from the beginning to the end of this cycle, says it best.

Whether you support or oppose her, there’s no question that the one thing she doesn’t represent is love. The bombs that she voted to drop on the people of Iraq are not full of love. When she made jokes about watching the deposed dictator of Libya being (sodomized with a) bayonet, she didn’t seem to be oozing with love. So what the heck are they talking about?

Politico has five more (some are the same as those above) things to watch for, if you happen to have strengthened your immune system enough to be watching.  I say let's get this over with and get on to the voting.   How about you?

Can Clinton win Texas? And can her surrogates squash the Greens in the process?

I've been saying 'no' even as she steadily closes the gap between her and Trump, and today I'd give the odds at something just under 50%.  Steve Brown, Democratic candidate for Texas Railroad Commission and also HD27 in prior cycles, has a blog-worthy report leading the cheers for his team (the following is from his latest email blast):

Recent polls indicate that the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is tightening in Texas.  A Survey USA poll last week has Sec. Clinton within the margin of error...behind by just 4%! . For perspective, Mitt Romney won Texas by 16%.

Clinton is performing strongest in Central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
In the country's 3rd most populous county, Harris, a September 22nd UH poll had Clinton 10 pts ahead of Trump...and that was before audio was released where Trump brags about sexual assault.  Nate Silver's website names Fort Bend County as a Clinton "surge county" poised to flip this cycle. Not only is Fort Bend the country's most diverse county with the state's largest population of Asian American voters, but it also represents an area where many key swing white educated women reside.

The polling suggests that Trump could be indirectly lifting the fortunes of down ballot Democrats. For instance, District Attorney and Sheriff candidates, Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzalez, as well as a legion of qualified Democratic judicial candidates in Harris/Fort Bend might benefit "bigly" from Trump.

Finally, the state's voter universe has changed significantly this cycle in part due to Trump's xenophobic rhetoricA record breaking 15 million Texans are registered to vote this cycle.  Further, this will be the first election since 2012 where the effects of Voter ID won't result in over 600,000 Texans being disenfranchised. 

All of this has Democrats really frothing to turn Texas blue, and it would be an awfully big deal if they can pull it off.  I'm still inclined to believe that Clinton comes up short, but Democrats down the ballot ought to be able to ride her wave throughout the state's urban and suburban counties.  That will certainly be something for the Donks to celebrate.

If I were still a Democrat, I'd be enthused.  But I no longer am, and it's not just because I think Hillary Clinton would be comfortable in a saner GOP, or even because most of her supporters are Helen Keller when it comes to her many flaws.  It's because of their animosity and condescension to those on her left, the Greens and Jill Stein.  This week there's been a full-court press waged against progressives from everybody from John Oliver to Glen Maxey.

Stein has responded to Oliver (so that I don't have to).

We were pleasantly surprised when John Oliver’s research team reached out to us regarding several statements that have been frequently taken out of context to ask if we felt they were missing any context, which we promptly provided. It was beyond disappointing to see that our responses were completely ignored. The same tired, misleading attack lines were trotted out, and Oliver chose to misrepresent our campaign on the lone substantive issue that he addressed: our plan to cancel student debt.

When Oliver’s fact-checkers asked if canceling student debt via quantitative easing was the campaign’s current position, we replied that we are considering a range of options in consultation with our economic advisors. Regardless, Oliver singled out canceling student debt via the Federal Reserve, implying both that this was our only option and that it would be technically impossible. In reality, experts say that it is technically possible, even if politically difficult, for the Fed to play a role in student debt forgiveness. And Oliver simply ignored the fact that we had other proposals to cancel student debt on the table. Coming from someone who made a stunt of buying and canceling medical debt on his show, and who claims to want alternatives to the failed two-party system, this disingenuous attack on the idea of cancelling student debt is both puzzling and hypocritical.

And so has David Collins, the Green who got over 80,000 votes and 16.6% in his run for Harris County Judge in 2014 (and does so in a much kinder and gentler way than I ever could).  But then Lisa Gray at the Chronic reposted UT's Per Erlaub and his little bomblet on the Greens even as Stein barnstormed through Texas this past weekend.

This stuff has the feel of a coordinated attack in the David Brock style, but only if you can dismiss the Clinton campaign's numerous exercises in dumbass douchebaggery, like having a conversation with Lloyd Blankfein in a room full of bankers about bombing Iran, or playing the race card against white progressives in the Sanders camp, both revealed in their own internal communications.  (I'm sorry I ever blogged anything praiseworthy about Tom Perez.)

"But the Russians ... !"

Accusations of being weirdos aside -- this is the Chris Hooks/Jackass argument -- the Greens have always punched above their class in terms of instilling fear in Democrats.  Now that the Mules don't (shouldn't) have anything to be scared of, the premise has shifted to "Blue Texas!" "A vote for Stein means Clinton might not carry the state!"

I weary of shooting down all these bullshit rationales.  This one will die writhing on the ground whether Hillary flips our beloved Texas or not, and whether Stein gets 1%, 2%, or the 5% goal the Green Party seeks nationwide for continuing ballot access and federal matching funds.  It is DOA on this basis alone: Clinton will either win the Lone Star or not -- and it doesn't seem to have the potential of Arizona flipping -- exclusively on the heat generated by Donald Trump's self-immolation, and not because of any teevee ad buys or blockwalking or phonebanking or anything else her campaign does or does not do.

The end (in sight).