Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Daily Jackass: Barack Hussein Obama

This space had been reserved for Howard Dean and his diagnosis of Trump's sniffles Monday night as evidence of a cocaine problem, but in a come-from-behind victory at the wire ... congratulations, Mr. President.  You earned it.

“If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump,” Obama said in an interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. “If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.”

This might be too complicated.  Let's check in with Ted (Keanu).

Still a little deep.  What say you, Most Interesting Man in the World?

Obama's having a pretty rough final year, what with being the lone ranger supporting the TPP, getting his veto overridden yesterday, a disturbingly silent voice on the increasing number of racial confrontations in the nation's streets as police continue to gun down unarmed black men like it's open season, scolding people about tarnishing his legacy and now this.

And can anyone explain the genesis of the idea that the Hatch Act should exclude the president and vice-president?  The law is all but toothless anyway; those who violate it -- like Julian Castro -- can simply say they didn't mean to and suffer no consequence (save a political one, of course).

Here's hoping the president can avoid pulling any more Kanye Wests from now to Election Day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trump's male chauvinist piggery

That's what we called it back in the day.  Today the preferred words are 'sexism' or 'misogyny', and Trump is certainly a misogynist.  Both words apply to much of Trump's base -- I won't use the d-word; think that's a step too far -- and the tea party/alt-right/whatever they're calling themselves this week.  He long ago maxed out this voting demographic, and now this bit with Miss America might be sealing the losing deal for him.

Tuesday, Trump refused to back down from his criticism of Machado, telling "Fox and Friends" in an interview that she had "gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem."

"She was the winner and you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem. We had a real problem," Trump said. "Not only that, her attitude, and we had a real problem with her, so Hillary went back into the years and she found this girl -- this was many years ago. And found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Theresa. And it wasn't quite that way but that's OK. Hillary has to do what she has to do."

Hard to see that temperament resounding with 53% of the electorate.  Statistical note: that 53% figure is from 2013 and is likely to increase in five weeks.  And of the nine states where men make up more than 50% of the population, only two are battleground states.  So there's a whole lot of wasted Trump votes in those red states.  The gender gap is real, and Trump is expanding it.

I know that there's a cottage industry full of bankruptcies predicting the demise of Hair Furor (I went real early myself), but there's precious little time for the Barking Yam to recover from his debate faceplant, no matter what the online polls say.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trump picked the wrong weekend to stop sniffing glue

Other than being distracted by his sniffling, I was amused by the evening's developments (not highly entertained, but I always keep my expectations pretty low for these).

Yes, Clinton won, and her polling should reflect that in a few days.  Historically the underdog has usually won Round 1, so that's another plus for Clinton.

And my candidate staged a very busy and effective virtual debate in real time, lifting her into the Trending on Twitter before the debate began with her expulsion from the Hofstra University campus, and sustaining that momentum late into the evening.

There's a lot of spinning and some good analysis that I'll update this post with later.


Who lost the debate? America.

Expanding the Debate: Jill Stein "joins" Trump and Clinton in Democracy Now!'s virtual merge

Monday, September 26, 2016

The First Debate Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance passes along Heat Street's exclusive betting guide, Moms Rising's bingo card, and the drinking game rules for the first presidential debate this evening.  But before it begins, Houston-area partisans, show up at the Harris County District Attorney debate, between Kim Ogg and Devon Anderson, from 6:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the near southwest side.

Socratic Gadfly "invites" members of Anonymous to hack the TV feed of the presidential debate on Monday, and John Coby at Bay Area Houston has the media's guide for delivering a win to Trump.

Off the Kuff marvels at the latest order from Judge Nelva Ramos in the voter ID lawsuit.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is thrilled by the poll that shows Hillary Clinton ten points ahead of Donald Trump in Harris County: Hot Damn, Houston! We can do this.

A discomfiting conclusion about Ted Cruz folding to Dan Patrick and endorsing Trump was drawn by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

As the Republican Congress fiddles, the Zika virus marches on Texas. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is continually appalled at the Republican war on health care and the well being of citizens.

Neil at All People Have Value pointed out that Ann Harris Bennett would be a far better Harris County Tax Assessor-Voter Registrar than failed incumbent Mike Sullivan. APHV is part of

Asian American Action Fund advances a fundraiser later this week for one of its favored candidates, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-US Senate).

State Rep. Ron Simmons will address the Lewisville Chamber of Commerce regarding the forthcoming legislative session and various transportation matters, reports the Texan-Journal.

Texas Leftist is a little taken aback by the number of teachers slated to lose their jobs under Trump's education plan.

And Dos Centavos humble-brags about the two albums he reviewed that were nominated for the Latin Grammys.


More blog posts from around Texas!

The Houston Communist Party, in coordination with the Houston Socialist Movement, plans a counter-protest against the "White Lives Matter" protest next Saturday, at the Anti-Defamation League's southwest Houston office.

Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer laments the state of the media, but not that of journalism.

Karisha Shaw at Strength in Numbers has a view of intersectionality through the lens of a queer black woman.

Grits for Breakfast offers a suggestion to the Texas House committee contemplating a racial profiling aspect to police stops: limit searches to reduce public dissatisfaction.

Swamplot updates the court room battle between two oyster harvesting companies over Galveston Bay's reefs as the bay recovers from the spring flooding.

Pages of Victory explains why the Trans-Pacific Partnership exemplifies his loss of respect for the Democratic Party.
Lone Star Ma focuses on the twelfth of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Colleen Aune (a former member of the Rice Marching Owl Band) and Dan Solomon have their say on the MOB's controversial halftime show during the Rice-Baylor game.

Raised On The Rail provides a handy map of Houston restaurants near light rail stops.

The Lunch Tray alerts us to a disturbing report about teens and hunger.

The Austin Chronicle and the Texas Freedom Network both remind us that SBOE member David Bradley is a huge jerk.

And the TPA wishes Tom "Smitty" Smith a happy and healthy retirement.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ted Cruz, Trump, and Dan Patrick

I don't care whether Ted Cruz has suffered any damage -- any at all, in any way -- with his endorsement of Trump.  It's obvious to me that the man cares about nothing except the next election he's running in.

But it's instructive that it was our lieutenant governor who pushed him off the fence with notice that he would be "left in the rearview mirror" if he didn't endorse the Republican nominee.  What that tells me is that Cruz was intimidated by the realization that he might be primaried in 2018 by someone running to his right.  (Fear is a mutha, ain't it?)

But.  Someone running to the right of Ted Cruz.  Who could win.

Let that sink in.

"Keep Calm and Vote Green: Fascism is not coming"

Thanks to Paul Street at Truthdig for telling it like it is, using the boy who cried 'wolf" analogy:

Every four years, liberal-left politicos scream wolf about how the Republicans are going to wreak plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and war-mongering hell if they win “this, the most important election in American history.” The politicos conveniently ignore the plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and military-imperial havoc that Democrats inflict at home and abroad in dark, co-dependent alliance with the ever more radically reactionary Republicans.

Democrats fail to acknowledge their preferred party’s responsibility for sustaining the Republicans’ continuing power, which feeds on the “dismal” Dems’ neoliberal abandonment of the nation’s working-class majority in service to transnational Wall Street and corporate America. They commonly exaggerate the danger posed by the right-most major party and (especially) the progressivism of the not-so-left-most one.

It’s not that the liberal and progressive politicos lie about the presence of wolves. The wolves are out there. But they include Democratic wolves in fake sheep’s clothing joined with Republicans in what Washington journalist Mark Leibovich calls “the ultimate Green Party.” The nation’s capital, Leibovich notes, has “become a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made. … ‘No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore,’ goes the maxim, ‘only millionaires.’ ” 

I watched Bill Maher last night (something I haven't done much ever since he came out as one of those Paul Ryan/Chris Christie/chicken or fish fuckwads).  One of the panelists was Lanhee Chen, a Republican who cannot vote for either Trump or Clinton.  His response to Maher regarding who he was voting for began with "I live in California, just like you" before he was interrupted and attacked by World War Z author Max Brooks with "Supreme Court".

Chen gets most everything about policy wrong IMO, but gets it right about the Electoral College; Maher and the rest of his panel (save the odious Neera Tanden, who gets it completely and exploits the fear factor associated with not voting for Clinton) do not.

The more American liberals and progressives (vote for the lesser evil; it has a track record, after all), the more the Republican right wing is emboldened, the further the Democrats move into ideological and policy territory formerly held by Republicans, and the more dire the American and global situation becomes. LEV is a viciously circular, self-fulfilling prophecy that itself holds no small responsibility for the ascendancy of horrible Republican presidents and other terrible things like the tea party and Donald Trump phenomena. [...]

I am not so inured to the quasi-neofascistic evil of the Trump phenomenon and the ugly prospects of a Trump presidency—especially on the ecological level—that I cannot understand why many fellow leftists would mark a ballot for the hideous imperial corporatist Hillary Clinton to block Herr Trump. The intra-left bloodletting that takes place on a regular quadrennial schedule over the difficult question of how best to respond to the United States’ plutocratic electoral and party system certainly does not serve the progressive left cause. Let us join together after the latest quadrennial extravaganza to build and expand a great popular movement with a list of demands and the introduction of an election and party system that deserves passionate citizen engagement.

The debate is Monday.  Clinton's polling has gathered strength again.   Don't be one of those cowards who is too scared to vote for a better Democratic Party -- by voting for the Green Party -- in a non-battleground state.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I see your Charles Blow and raise you Ralph Nader

Blow blew it here with his lecturing, primarily aimed at African American millennials but scattershot at everybody who thinks like me.  So in corresponding piss-value response to everybody that thinks like him (and is sharing it on FB and shit), let's feed him some Nader.

"Sanders hasn’t returned a call from me in 18 years. He is a lone ranger. He doesn’t like to be pushed into more progressive action than he is willing to adhere to. As a result, millions of his voters now are in disarray. They don’t know where to go. They’re cynical. Some will go Democrat. Some will support Libertarian, Green. Some will stay home. And so this huge, wonderful effort that he launched is now aborted. It’s dissipating."

If Sanders doesn't like being pushed to the left, then why would he dare try to push his caucus to the right?  This is the entire premise set forth over a year ago, when he was rumored to be 'exploring' a run for president.  That it would end with him sheepdogging progressives onto the Clinton bandwagon.  We all saw this coming.  We hoped for something different, but no.

"And the idea of calling a third party 'spoiler,' using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people, because everyone has an equal right to run for office. Everyone is going to get votes from one another. So they’re either spoilers of one another or none of them are spoilers.


"Well, it’s wrong from a First Amendment point of view, first of all. You should never tell anybody to shut up. And when you run for office, it’s free speech, petition and assembly. It’s the consummate use of the First Amendment. But here—it’s a scapegoating. The Democrats could never get over how they couldn’t beat this bumbling governor from Texas, who couldn’t put a paragraph together and has a horrible record—children and women and pollution, etc., policy, right?"

AMY GOODMAN: "You’re talking about George W. Bush."

RALPH NADER: "George W. Bush. So they scapegoat the Greens. So here’s how it goes: 300,000 registered Democrats in 2000 in Florida voted for Bush—blame the Greens. Thousands of people were misidentified as ex-felons by Katherine Harris, the secretary of state for Jeb Bush, governor of Florida—blame the Greens. The butterfly ballot, which was very deceptive and got people to vote for exactly the opposite candidate in South Florida—blame the Greens. Scalia’s political 5-4 decision, which blocked the Florida Supreme Court’s full recount in Florida—blame the Greens. The Electoral College took the victory in the popular vote from Gore—blame the Greens. Gore loses his Tennessee state, where he represented in Congress for years—blame the Greens. It’s total scapegoating. It’s disgusting that extremely smart people, who happen to be Democratic Party apparatchiks, like Howard Dean, who’s now in a corporate firm that lobbies for the healthcare and drug industry, by the way, and never identified as such by The New York Times and others who quote him—he is now reviving this 2000 nonsense."

Two things seem real easy to understand to me: Hillary Clinton is Jeb Bush, with Poppy and all of W's neocons on board.  And if Trump still manages to win, it's Clinton's fault exclusively for being a bad candidate running an even worse campaign.

The more people like Blow (and Charles Pierce) want to play hardball with a candidate drawing 3%, the harder the ball is going to get.  It might come to a head next Monday night in upstate New York.

These fucking Jackasses are wearing. me. out.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

UH releases poll with 10-point Clinton lead in Harris County

If you recall, I made fun of the lady at the beauty shop over a week ago for advancing this exact rumor.  So she gets to feed me some crow.

Poll results released today by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs show that Hillary Clinton has a 10-point lead over Donald Trump among registered voters in Harris County, the largest county in Texas and third largest in the nation. Clinton leads Trump 42 percent to 32 percent, with nine percent supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, two percent backing the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and 15 percent undecided.

If the numbers hold, it would represent the widest margin of victory for a Democratic presidential nominee in Harris County since 1964, the year Lyndon B. Johnson was elected president. He received 59.5 percent of the Harris County vote.

Clinton’s lead narrows to only four points, 43 percent to 39 percent, among voters who say they are extremely likely to cast a ballot this November.

The "extremely likely" screen, with the four-point lead, is probably the closest to accurate, FWIW.  Even if ten is the margin, I simply don't think it can hold all the way to Election Day, but it's more than enough to give blue partisan hopes a big boost.

The rest of the poll's results, however, won't (bold is mine).

The UH Hobby School poll finds no evidence of national Republican concern that Trump’s unpopularity within the party will negatively effect down ballot races. In the race for Harris County District Attorney, among the voters extremely likely to cast a ballot this fall, incumbent Republican Devon Anderson narrowly bested Democrat Kim Ogg, 30 percent to 29 percent, while incumbent Republican Ron Hickman led Democrat Ed Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent in the contest for sheriff. A plurality of voters is unsure about their preference for district attorney (47 percent) and sheriff (36 percent).

A year ago during the mayor's race, UH returned a similarly strange polling result:  Sylvester Turner with a ten-point lead, Bill King and Adrian Garcia tied for second, Chris Bell a close fourth, and a massive quantity of undecideds.  The November general election results were wildly different, with Turner 32%, King 25, Garcia 17, Ben Hall 9, and Bell 7.

I pooh-poohed their poll then, and I'm pooh-pooh-ing these two county results now.

Update II (9/23): Charles says I'm confusing my Cougar polls here.  Fair enough; I sit corrected.  I still pooh on both.

For one thing, that's an enormous number of GOP split tickets.  Even with the high unsure/undecideds, something appears to be very off if Hickman is leading Gonzalez by six while Clinton leads Trump by ten.  I would have expected the opposite in the sheriff's race to be true, in fact, irrespective of the presidential.

This is a data point, but an awfully strange one.

Update (9/23): The mighty Kuffner has weighed in, and disapproves of the poll to some greater degree than I do.   No issues with his take.  But I thought about these numbers awhile overnight, and did some back-of-the-envelope math: if 100% of the Harris County electorate represents 1,000,000 voters (Charles will probably have a guess at turnout later and it will be higher than this; my number is extremely conservative) then by virtue of UH's poll, Clinton is ahead of Trump by 100,000 votes, and Ron Hickman leads Ed Gonzalez in the race for sheriff by 60K.

This doesn't seem plausible in a sampling that is 50% D, 45% R, and 5% I (page 5).  It would suggest there is a very large number of Democrats in Harris County -- joined by Republicans, for that matter --  who would be splitting their tickets Clinton and Hickman.  (Significantly less so Clinton and Anderson in the DA's race; everybody understands that one will be very close all the way to Election Night).

Could there really be tens of thousands of blue and red partisans in the county voting Hillary for president and Ron Hickman for sheriff?  I'm just not buying that.

The Swarming of the Jackasses

'Stampede' perhaps better?

These donkeys were braying everywhere you looked earlier this week.  I tend, after having refuted so much of it this year, to see this ad hominem as inflicting a similar amount of damage to that of a swarm of midges.  There has been some pushback, and now that Clinton has stabilized -- still ahead in the polling, and by more than slightly going into the weekend and next Monday's debate -- maybe these nervous, frightened, antagonistic mules can calm back down again.

The Libertarians get the same treatment from Republicans, but that seems like small consolation compared to these Shillbots and their incessant whining and use of trope and myth as substitutes for logic.  Whaddaya gonna do, though?  Punch them in their (deserved) faces?  We're supposed to be the pacifists, after all.  (I'm sort of a militant peacenik, personally.  You know, "peace in our time or I'll kill you muddahfackas".)

As if their incompetence needed further public demonstration, both camps trotted out their managers to show off to the media their unique ability to duck questions.  It was exquisite failure.  Here, for example, is some analysis of the Syrian catastrophe Robby Mook didn't want to talk about.

Still on track for 'worst election ever', and certainly the worst set of debates ever.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Scattershooting fear, Gary Johnson, and more blog updates

-- My Nextdoor (neighborhood social forum) is filled lately with posts about crime: burgled homes, gunshots, suspicious people driving or walking the 'hood.  It seems as if my neighbors are crapping their pants about everything, even packs of stray dogs roaming the streets.  Put this together with the weekend bombing in New York and the discovery of another pressure cooker bomb in New Jersey, Trump's ratcheted-up fascist rhetoric, the continuing escalation of war in Syria despite "cease-fire" agreements, repetitive micro-aggressions between the US and North Korea and China and Russia, the queasiness reflected by a lot of my old Democratic friends about Hillary's gaffes, prevarications, and stumbles that have squandered her polling lead, and I believe we're about one actual terrorist attack away from President Donald Trump in an eruption of panic by the electorate.

Buck up, Americans.  This is supposed to be the home of the brave.  Start acting like it.

And please stop with the updates on Rick Perry and the Dancing With The Stars and the indignant outrage directed at football players who aren't standing for the national anthem, or holding up their fists instead of putting their hands over the hearts.  Let's focus more on the things that matter and less on the ones that don't.

-- You may have noticed that the blogroll in the right-hand column is back to "latest posts".  And Blogger is canceling the "Slideshow", top right, so I'll see if there's something I can come up with that will appear shortly in that space.

-- The news lately has exposed, in embarrassing detail, the Libertarian presidential candidate as an intellectual lightweight.  It began with "What is Aleppo" last week, and continued Sunday night on 60 Minutes.  The man just looks to me as if he has smoked too much pot over the course of his life.

Position-wise, the Libs get it right on a few things: decriminalizing weed and normalizing work visas, for example.  But Johnson's stand on other issues is an exercise in Trump-Lite.

  • He supports TPP.
  • He supports fracking.
  • He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
  • He thinks Citizens United is great.
  • He doesn't want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
  • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
  • He opposes net neutrality.
  • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he's open to privatization.
  • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
  • He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
  • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
  • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • He opposes any government action to address climate change.
  • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
  • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
  • He wants to remove the Fed's mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
  • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
  • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

Johnson got the full Mediaite snark for his appearance yesterday morning on CNN.  He's previously -- as in 2000, before the election that year -- had a good laugh with W. Bush about how ignorant both men are.

Since protest votes seem lately to be the preferred cudgel Democrats are using to beat those who aren't on the Hillary bandwagon, let's be certain your progressive friends aren't making this mistake.  Here's the whole 60 Minutes enchilada, video and transcript.  Greens are on when, CBS?

-- It is a surprise, as Kuff has noted, that the Chronic endorsed Ann Harris Bennett for tax assessor/collector on the basis of incumbent Mike Sullivan's epic fail on voter registration.  I had previously commented that it wasn't likely to happen, but if newspaper endorsements still mean anything, this one should.  This is the local race to watch on Election Night (Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzalez should win, Jenifer Pool ought to in a just world), as it will likely be construed by talking heads as a harbinger of the length of Hillary Clinton's coattails, the GOTV effort of the Harris County Dems and Repubs, and other morning-after armchair-quarterbacking like that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Democratic statewide judicial slate is a farce

Last week in this post I gave my old buddy Kuff a bad time about his unforced error linking to the wrong Betsy Johnson, the one who isn't running as the Democratic nominee for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5.  This week the Dallas Morning News editorial board -- perhaps in payback to the GOP for endorsing Hillary Clinton -- exposed nearly the entire D statewide judicial slate as a joke.  First, their kudos for the Republican in Place 5, Scott Walker (no, not that one).

To our readers who have a natural inclination to generally favor Democratic candidates, please give these next few sentences great heed. A vote for Betsy Johnson, of San Antonio, who may or may not be earning a livelihood as a lawyer these days, strikes us as reckless.

She doesn't return our phone calls nor respond to requests to fill out a candidate questionnaire or attend an interview. She was removed from the Bexar County appointed attorney list by the criminal district court judges in June 2011 after multiple cases of refusing to represent defendants who declined to plead guilty.

Not only can we find no shred of evidence that she's qualified for this job, reports from the Bexar courthouse indicate her conduct was boorish and unrestrained.

This person is on the ballot for a single reason: to try to deny the Green Party a 5% capture and knock the party and all of its candidates off the ballot beginning in 2018.  Vote for Judith Sanders Castro if for no other reason than the worst of the duopoly in Texas badly needs the competition.  (With very little in the way of online presence herself, you might be reminded that she long ago paid a political price for fighting for Latin@ voting rights and the environment.)

The DMN similarly trashed the CCA Place 2 incumbent, Lawrence Meyers, who as it turns out is more of a death penalty advocate than Chief Justice Sharon "Killer" Keller.

Meyers, 68, was elected as a Republican but switched parties in 2013 for a failed run at the Texas Supreme Court, the state's highest for non-criminal cases. He remains the only Democrat in statewide office.

He since has formed something of a faction with conservative Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. Interestingly, while the appeals court granted an unusual eight stays of execution in 2015, Meyers, the court's lone Democrat, dissented on half.

This year, he was the only dissent to a stay for Robert Roberson III, whose attorneys argued that his conviction was based on "junk science" and false testimony. Meyers also unsuccessfully opposed the recent stay for Jeff Wood, sentenced to death despite not being the gunman in a 1996 convenience store killing in Kerrville.

In 2012, Meyers refused to pay a speeding ticket until an Austin municipal judge issued an arrest warrant. Last month, Meyers and some neighbors in Fort Worth tried to bar TCU students from parking near their homes with fake "no parking" signs until the city took them down.

Another race where sensible Democrats -- even those who have been scared into voting for Hillary Clinton just recently -- should be splitting their tickets.  (If you like your judges flamboyant in the Texas style, then the Green, Adam "Bulletproof" King Blackwell Reposa, is your man.)

Finally, the Democratic challenger for TXCCA Place 6 earns plaudits for being a good judge but demerits for being a truthfully lame political candidate.

Count Democrat Robert Burns among the critics who contend that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is too reflexively tough on crime. The question then is whether Burns should replace Place 6 incumbent Republican Michael Keasler.

This newspaper says no. This is not an easy call, since Burns, 52, is a strong Dallas County trial judge, by reputation and by Dallas Bar Association ratings. He runs an efficient court, and his rulings are well-reasoned.

Our problem is that his run seems half-hearted. He isn't raising campaign money, he expects to spend less than $1,000 for a statewide office, and he tells us he expects to lose.

That hardly makes a case to oust a judge with a background and resume' like Keasler's. If he won re-election, Keasler, 73, would reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 during the next six-year term; by law, he could serve only four years. Gov. Greg Abbott would appoint his replacement for the final two years on Texas' top appeals court for criminal cases.

He clearly has moved toward a more reasonable position, indicative of a judge who weighs the law more than ideology in reaching decisions.

In May 2012, for instance, Keasler shot down arguments from Abbott's AG office and wrote that death row inmate Hank Skinner should be allowed to have DNA evidence from the crime scene tested. "You really ought to be absolutely sure before you strap a person down and kill him," Keasler said.

I don't believe that Greg Abbott is capable of picking a qualified, dispassionate, unbiased jurist as Keasler has been -- by the DMN's account -- four years from now, and there's no Green in this race, so I'll be voting for the "indifferent Democrat" on the off chance that he can get lucky, overcome his own negativity, and that Hillary Clinton can find and reattach her downballot coattails.  (But if you're inclined to go Libertarian, Mark Bennett is IMHO a good enough choice.  He writes a great blog.)

Better luck securing candidates in two years, Democrats.

The Weekly Wrangle

At least one member of the Texas Progressive Alliance thinks that, in desiring to represent all Americans, calling some 'deplorable' was simply a bad gaffe.

Off the Kuff encourages you to read the Houston Chronicle's story about how special education services have been systematically denied to Texas families.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is not in the least bit surprised to know that Greg Abbott threw his hat into the ring with the The Grand Wizard of Birtherism.

On Sept. 11, Socratic Gadfly looked back at 9/11 and reminded readers of many repeated, recurring causes of death that kill almost as quickly as 9/11, some with political connections, that still don't get truly addressed.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme blames Republicans for playing mean political games instead of addressing real problems like the spread of the Zika virus. Cruel like Texas Republicans denying services to disabled children

Political polling wizard Nate Silver tells Democrats they can start to panic this week, as passed along by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value took the Harris County volunteer deputy voter registrar class this past week.  It takes a long time to really be able to register anybody after you take the class because the Republicans who run the county don't want you to register anybody. APHV is part of

Egberto Willies has Tim Kaine's five reasons for millennials to vote for Hillary.

The gap between the lives experiences of white Americans and Americans of color is significant. With this in mind, Texas Leftist offers a viewpoint on and justification for Black Lives Matter.  Most that have lived the experience of being unlawfully detained (or worse) by police see the movement as not only valid, but necessary.

The Agonist says that fastest-growing region of the country for labor organizing is the South, but there's no media around to cover it.

And Lewisville's Western Days festival is this weekend, report the Texan-Journal.


More posts from around the state!

Meagan Flynn at the Houston Press writes that Harris County's defense of its bail system is going to cost county taxpayers a lot of money, and Grits for Breakfast interviews Rebecca Bernhardt, executive director of Texas Fair Defense Project, one of the plaintiffs suing Harris County over its bail practices.

City Lab, via Houston Strategies, praises The Cisterns, Houston's once-forgotten underground city water storage that has become its own art exhibit.

The Digital Heretic thinks that bashing a large swath of the electorate is a counter-productive get-out-the-vote strategy.

Better Texas Blog has a bit of good news in the fight against food insecurity.

The Lunch Tray packs up six years of lunch packing advice.

Streetsblog wonders why TxDOT doesn't believe its own data that show Texans are driving less per day on average than they were a decade ago.

Bonddad encourages Clinton Democrats to buck up.

Eileen Smith has a few questions about those charitable Trump portraits.

The TSTA Blog sounds the warning about school vouchers again.

And Somervell County Salon has the H&M spot that turns the word 'lady' on its ear.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nate Silver says it's almost time for Democrats to panic

Might be time to refill those anti-anxiety prescriptions, Hillbots.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls has been declining for several weeks, and now we’re at the point where it’s not much of a lead at all. National polls show Clinton only 1 or 2 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump, on average. And the state polling situation isn’t really any better for her. On Thursday alone, polls were released showing Clinton behind in Ohio, Iowa and Colorado — and with narrow, 3-point leads in Michigan and Virginia, two states once thought to be relatively safe for her.

It’s also become clearer that Clinton’s “bad weekend” — which included describing half of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” on Friday, and a health scare (followed by news that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia) on Sunday — has affected the polls. Prior to the weekend, Clinton’s decline had appeared to be leveling off, with the race settling into a Clinton lead of 3 or 4 percentage points. But over the past seven days, Clinton’s win probability has declined from 70 percent to 60 percent in our polls-only forecast and by a similar amount, from 68 percent to 59 percent, in our polls-plus forecast.

That’s not to imply the events of the weekend were necessarily catastrophic for Clinton: In the grand scheme of things, they might not matter all that much (although polling from YouGov suggests that Clinton’s health is in fact a concern to voters). But when you’re only ahead by 3 or 4 points, and when some sequence of events causes you to lose another 1 or 2 points, the Electoral College probabilities can shift pretty rapidly. A lot of light blue states on our map have turned pink, meaning that Trump is now a narrow favorite there instead of Clinton:

Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida have all gone pink of late.  Give the polling time to catch up with popular opinion, and this time next week we'll see if this momentum of Trump surging and Clinton falling is sustained as the first debate -- Clinton and Trump only, as you may have heard -- looms on the calendar.

When a candidate has a rough stretch like this in the polls, you’ll sometimes see his or her supporters pass through the various stages of grief before accepting the results, beginning with a heavy dose of “unskewing” or cherry-picking of various polls. In this case, however, the shift in the race is apparent in a large number of high-quality surveys, and doesn’t depend much on the methodology one chooses. FiveThirtyEight, Real Clear Politics and Huffington Post Pollster all show similar results in their national polling averages, for example, with Clinton leading by only 1 to 3 percentage points over Trump.

This potentially ignores a more important question, however. Sure, Clinton might lead by only a percentage point or two right now — with a similarly perilous advantage in the Electoral College. But is that necessarily the best prediction for how things will turn out in November?

Silver goes on with the deep dive; I'm an executive summary kind of guy.

This is a complicated question, and one that we might want to revisit over the next couple of weeks. But the short answer is… I don’t know. We know that many news events — most notably, the political conventions — produce short-term “bounces” in the polls that partly or wholly reverse themselves after a few weeks. There were also some examples of this in 2012. Mitt Romney’s position improved by several percentage points following his first debate in Denver against President Obama, but his gains soon proved fleeting. Media coverage of the campaign — which tends to rally behind whichever candidate is gaining in the polls until it tires of the story and switches to scrutinizing the frontrunner — could also contribute to such swings back and forth.

So it’s plausible that Clinton’s “bad weekend” could be one of those events that has a relatively short-lived impact on the campaign. As if to put to the question to the test, Trump upended the news cycle on Friday by relitigating the conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. (Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was born here, but only after falsely accusing Clinton of having started the “birther” rumors.) If voters were reacting to the halo of negative coverage surrounding Clinton rather than to the substance of reporting about Clinton’s health or her “deplorables” comments, she could regain ground as Trump endures a few tough news cycles of his own. Over the course of the general election so far, whichever candidate has been the dominant subject in the news has tended to lose ground in the polls, according to an analysis by Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley.

All of this is tricky, though, because we still don’t have a great sense for where the long-term equilibrium of the race is, or even whether there’s an equilibrium at all — and we probably never will because of the unusual nature of Trump’s candidacy. Perhaps Trump isn’t that different from a “generic Republican” after all. Or perhaps (more plausibly in my view) he is very poor candidate who costs the Republicans substantially, but that Clinton is nearly as bad a candidate and mostly offsets this effect. Still, I’d advise waiting a week or so to see whether Clinton’s current dip in the polls sticks as the news moves on from her “bad weekend” to other subjects.

So is there anything that Clinton can do to take the initiative and regain the lead instead of just reacting to how awful Trump is, hoping that will somehow rally undecideds to her cause?  Two sources may have that answer.  First, Glenn Thrush at Politico, in "Five reasons Trump might fall in autumn" (I'm excerpting just the last two):

4. Terrified Democrats are Clinton’s secret weapon. This is the big one, the factor upon which the election truly hinges. Raw, small-mammal fear. Trump’s success might be the only thing that gets many Democrats (or anti-Trump moderates outside the party) to hold their noses and vote Hillary.
The wow in recent national polls is not Trump’s rise, but the fact that more Trump voters are psyched about their candidate than Democrats are jazzed about their less-than-exciting nominee. In the Times survey, 51 percent of Trump supporters were enthusiastic about him vs. 43 percent of Clinton supporters who were thrilled about her. But fear is as powerful an emotion as love in politics (it’s why negative ads work and the decision by Jeb Bush’s super PAC to dump tens of millions into positive ads was so bad) — and Democrats are panicking, in a way that could be good news for their underperforming nominee.

Ultimately, Trump Terror has been at the core of Clinton’s strategy since the end of the primary, and it’s why her comment about half of Trump supporters being in a “basket of deplorables” probably won’t do any long-term damage: It’s basically still a base election, and she needs to get them out to win. A more vexing problem is her continued meh performance with younger voters who are flirting in the 25 to 30 percent range with third-party candidates.

The endgame strategy, here, in a quote: I ran into a top adviser to Clinton at a social event earlier this week, and asked him how things were going. “How the hell do you think it’s going? We’re probably going to win, but there’s a 30- to 40 percent chance we are going to elect a f---ing madman for the White House.” Then the guy headed for the bar.

5. Gary Johnson? Really? Very, very few Clinton voters are leeching directly over to Donald Trump — but a substantial number are visiting the pot-loving, socially liberal, bean-bag decorated Libertarian halfway house run by 2016’s chilliest third-party candidate, Gary Johnson. Johnson is a smart ((Ed. note: LOL), iconoclastic critic of both candidates who has been making a broad pitch for Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and it now appears he’s drawing skeptical former Clinton supporters in substantial enough numbers to affect the race.

Clinton’s Brooklyn brain trust is in a quandary on dealing with this: Attack him, and Clinton allies have compiled oppo files on the former New Mexico governor, and raise his low profile; let him roam the firmament snatching up progressives in his VW van and lose votes.

Fortunately for Clinton’s team, support for Johnson seems relatively soft (as opposed to the smaller, but more militant following attracted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein), and Clinton’s team expects many to drift back to her cause, as third-party defectors often do in October and November.

Barring an unexpected Johnson boomlet, this will be their anti-Johnson strategy — claiming that a vote for the mild-mannered Libertarian is, in fact, a vote for President Trump.

That might work.

Just ask Al Gore, who made the same case against Ralph Nader in 2000.

Priceless.  Now Angry Bear, who's already freaking out.  Too long to excerpt in context, so here's the bottom line.

 I just desperately wish she would run a campaign that is grounded in the economic and anti-campaign-funding-corruption populism in tune with 2016.  A.k.a., a strong desire for change.  Instead she’s running a deplorable one and turning a lot of us former Sanders supporters into basket cases.

Turns out that a substantial percentage of millennials think there’s no difference between Clinton’s policy preferences and Trump’s.  Not all that surprising, I guess, given that Clinton spent the summer campaigning for Republican votes.  Brilliant idea!

Clinton has abandoned the hard-negotiated Sanders platform as if on cue.  The Democratic fear factor is one of the few options left for her to try to hang on and run out the clock.  A 'prevent defense', as the best football coaches say, only prevents victory.  And an inevitable coronation suddenly finds itself flailing.

I don't have any insights that Nate Silver doesn't already have, and he admits he doesn't know where this will wind up.  But to me it feels like the Titanic's unsinkable hull has been breached, and she is slipping under the waves.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Why is Clinton losing to Trump?

Is this just a natural, cyclical closing of the huge gap that existed a month ago?  Is it something more significant?  I think the answer is mostly fundamental and as simple as 'people don't like her and don't trust her'.  Matt Yglesias explains.  Bold emphasis is mine.

Hillary Clinton’s ongoing campaign to paint Donald Trump as unacceptable in the eyes of most Americans is working. It’s just not good enough. That’s the message of the spate of recent polls showing a dramatically tightened race that Trump may even be narrowly winning.

The truth is that Trump is not doing well. Even Trump’s very best recent polls (which, by definition, are outliers that likely overstate his true level of support) show him receiving fewer votes than Republican candidates usually get. A recent CNN poll of Ohio, for example, that gave him a 5-point lead in the crucial swing state also shows him only getting 46 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney and John McCain both did better than that. Clinton’s attacks and Trump’s well-known weaknesses seem to have him losing the support of some GOP loyalists, even in his best polls.

The problem is that Clinton herself is doing worse. Because despite her campaign’s emphasis on Trump’s weirdness and unpopularity, that isn’t the only force shaping this race. It’s profoundly unusual across two other dimensions — the strength of third party candidates and the weakness of the frontrunner — that will probably prevent Clinton from ever opening up a sustained comfortable lead unless she can do something to make herself better-liked.

"A freakishly unpopular frontrunner".

Despite a couple of days’ worth of bad polls, Clinton still leads in national polling averages. It remains the case that if the election were held tomorrow, she would win.

In that context, her 42-56 favorable/unfavorable split in national polling is truly, freakishly bad. Political junkies have probably heard the factoid that Clinton is the least-popular major party nominee of all time — except for Donald Trump. But conventional dialogue still underrates exactly how weird this situation is. John McCain, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bob Dole were all viewed favorably by a majority of Americans on the eve of presidential elections that they lost, and Mitt Romney was extremely close.

It is totally unheard of to win a presidential election while having deeply underwater favorable ratings, and it is actually quite common to lose one despite above water favorable ratings.

Since there are only two major party nominees in the race and they are both far underwater right now, it’s pretty likely that precedent will be shattered. But we are in a bit of an undiscovered country in terms of the underlying opinion dynamics.

Here I am given hope that the two "major minor" candidates (since there are almost a dozen others that will appear on someone's ballot somewhere), more commonly referred to as third-party candidates, are still to rise.

RealClearPolitics’ four-way polling average shows Gary Johnson at 9.2 percent and Jill Stein at 2.7 percent.

If those numbers hold up (which of course they might not), they would make Johnson the strongest third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1992. That’s a big deal. Stein’s strength is, however, even more unusual. She is polling ahead of where Ralph Nader did in 2000 and is the strongest fourth-party candidate we’ve seen in a 100 years, besting both the Thurmond and Wallace tickets from the infamously four-sided election of 1948.

To find a fourth-place candidate polling higher than Stein’s current results, you need to dial all the way back to the 6 percent of the vote Eugene Debs earned in the bizarre 1912 election that saw the GOP nominee (the incumbent, no less!) finish in third place behind a third-party bid spearheaded by ex-president Teddy Roosevelt.

Did you know that Perot was only polling in the eight-percentage-point range when he was allowed to be in the debates with GHWB and Bill Clinton in 1992?  In context, he had polled as high as the thirties and forties as a tease candidate, before announcing that July he would not run, and then declaring as an independent on October 1, ten days before the first debate.  If not for Perot's help, we might have never seen the first Clinton in the White House.  (To be certain, Bush lost in '92 because of his own mistakes.  Just like Al Gore, eight years later.)

But back to Hillary.

Lambasting Trump while being unpopular herself would be a clear winning strategy in a zero-sum, head-to-head race. But in a four-sided race, where the two lesser candidates aren’t receiving much scrutiny from the press or the campaigns, it tends to have the side consequence of pressing a lot of people to Johnson or Stein. The fact that there are two different third-party candidates in the race — one for people who think Clinton’s too left and one for people who think she’s not left enough — makes it really difficult to avoid bleeding voters.

If polls stay very tight or Trump pulls into a lead, then anti-Trump messaging to Johnson and Stein voters could take the form of classic warnings about spoilers and wasted votes.

But the fact that Clinton has been consistently leading in the polls — and in August was doing so by a large margin — has itself undercut purely tactical arguments for voting Clinton. If she is overwhelmingly likely to win, which is what people have been hearing, then you may as well not vote for her if you don’t like her.

It’s simply going to be very hard for Clinton to open up the kind of stable lead that her supporters think Trump’s awfulness deserves while she herself is so little-liked. September of a general election year is probably not a great time to turn that around.

But the fact remains that her basic problem in this race is almost painfully simple. Over the course of her winning primary campaign she became a deeply unpopular figure. And it’s hard — indeed, unprecedented — for such an unpopular person to win the presidency.

The polling this weekend and next week will reveal the trends in more detail.  Clinton's campaign is already preparing "a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Trump" messaging, a demonstrative failure.  Here's your Daily Jackass, by the way.  These mules are not even going to get a featured post from here on out.

The first presidential debate is Monday, September 26, ten days away.  I don't know where Gary Johnson is going to be, but I expect Jill Stein will be outside the Hofstra University hall in Hempstead, NY, getting herself arrested, just like four years ago.

Here's Jeff Feldman, of Framing the Debate fame, with the "more".

Clinton is not just disliked for some abstract reason. She went out and actively made a key group hate her and her people. She alienated a key block that she now needs. She has not secured the Left that's tipped to Stein. Clinton's strategy with that part of the Left has been to shame them. It was a segment of the Sanders base. For months and months her campaign did it. They even hired people to do it under the guise of online commenting, etc. They're still doing it. The result is that a now significant percentage has left the party. She could have done something different. She could have gone after the Left -- brought them into the fold, worked more in public with Sanders, etc. She made no moves in this direction. And now it's probably too late. It will likely go down as a historic misjudgment on her part: believing it was still the 1980s and she could win by distancing herself from the McGovern wing. But it's not the 1980s. She alienated one of the most active, nimble and contemporary segments of the big tent. Take them back and she is on top. The crucial part of the vote that doesn't like her -- she invested time and money into making them hate her more, instead of doing the opposite.

Clinton will hold more of the Berners than she loses to Stein, but more than those two combined will choose the worst possible course of action and not vote (or write in Sanders).  Stein has increased her numbers from four years ago by a multiple of at least nine -- but that only gets her to three percent.  If her November tally winds up at four or six percent nationally ... well, that's still not saying much in the grand scheme.  But it is certainly something to build a foundation upon.  If the sheer number of people that Sanders pulled back to the Democrats, plus former Dems like me, have faded away -- this time forever -- we can now better calculate Clinton's opportunity cost, whether she wins the presidency or loses it.

Can she overcome all of this adversity and these setbacks of the past two weeks and still capture the White House on the strength of Republican crossover votes?  That's essentially what she has gambled on, almost from the very beginning.  If she can, then she will owe that caucus a very large debt.  And won't it be swell to watch her pay that back over the next four years.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Colin Powell agrees with me

This election sucks all around.

 "A national disgrace" and an "international pariah."  (Indeed he is.)

"Greedy", "unbridled ambition", and "everything (she) touches she kind of screws up with hubris".

It does make you wonder if Powell might vote for the stoner who blanked on Aleppo, though.

It's disappointing to me, as you may have previously suspected, that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein haven't gotten more traction in the past month or so.  Duopolists would rather just call them unqualified, but I cannot find any redeemable qualities in either Trump or Clinton to merit my vote.  Is 85% of the electorate so deplorable or terrified that the only option they see outside the blue/red box is to tap out?

Seems to be the case.  While we wait for polling that will reveal whether Clinton's lead has been further dented by her own hand, some of the goat entrails available to us push the needle back to the right and forth to the left (not the actual left, but as represented by the Democratic Party.  I consider that an important distinction to make, since I don't consider the Democrats to be all that left any more except on a few social issues).

Hillary blew a lead to Obama in 2008, beginning in January that year in Iowa.  She almost choked up the "inevitable" nomination to Bernie Sanders this year.  There is certainly enough doubt that she could not have won without all of the DNC's cheating on her behalf.  In historical context, why should we be surprised that she's giving way to Trump?

She really is that bad.  She's lucky she's running against Trump.  I'm still not going to be choosing either evil, however.  And whether you would vote for a third-party candidate or not, they should be allowed to participate in the debates (and a majority in a recent survey of likely voters agrees).

So sign the petition.  Unless you just like the system the way it is.  Rigged.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cartoonists go off on Hillary

You won't see any of these at Ted's Shill shop or Juanita's beauty salon, after all, and the week is still young.  There'll be many more.

And here's some "equal time" ...