Monday, April 24, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance Marched for Science in celebration of Earth Day this past weekend. Here's the lefty blog post roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzed the Texas Lyceum poll of attitudes towards Trump and 2018 races.

Easter Lemming remarks on the great Houston Chronicle endorsement for Pat Van Houte for Pasadena mayor and tells you a bit about city election political funding.

SocraticGadfly writes about — with photos — Earth Day 2017 and climate change reminding readers that time is running short, and that a carbon tax, a strong carbon tax, must be the baseline of any solution.

Back a week early from his fishing trip, CouldbeTrue at South Texas Chisme draws a bead on the TXGOP letting the lobbyists roam free range in the Lege.

Texas Leftist comments on the "cracked and packed" gerrymander of Texas House redistricting schemes that were struck down again by the courts.

Ted at jobsanger, like too many other devoted Clinton supporters, keeps driving the wedge deeper between that faction in the Democratic Party and the Sanders coalition.  Presenting the opposite point of view, the Houston Communist Party watched Bernie Sanders describe how his 2018 strategy for Democrats should terrify Trump ... but is likely to enrage Blue core constituencies.  And following on that, Ally Boguhn at Rewire wants to know why the DNC is supporting an anti-choice Democrat.

The popular political drama from the last decade The West Wing turns out to be a lousy model for the Democratic Party, observes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Txsharon at Bluedaze wonders aloud how far Apache Corp.'s harassment and intimidation in Toyahvale (near Balmorhea) will go.  And Texas Vox reports that the EPA will hold a public hearing via teleconference today.  Let them know how Trump's war on regulations affect real people.

The Lewisville Texan Journal has city council and school board races on its ballot and early voting for the May 6 election begins this morning.  That's true across Texas for your local elections, too, and don't forget: you still need your photo ID, or be prepared to sign an affidavit attesting as to why you don't have one.

While on vacation in his hometown of Cincinnati, Neil at All People Have Value found the Grim Reaper supporting Trump at the March for Science in that city ... and Abe Lincoln speechless.  APHV is part of


More Texas news and blog posts!

As we commemorated the 181st anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto this past weekend, the Rivard Report has two articles  about the recently-revealed plans to restore Alamo Plaza, one from the historic preservation view, and one looking forward to connecting the plan with the goal of having a vibrant public space.

Even with Greg Abbott's support, the "bathroom bill" still faces an uphill battle in the Texas House, writes Peggy Fikac at the San Antonio Express News.

Better Texas Blog looks favorably on school finance bill HB21, and the Houston Press notes the TXSBOE's softening of creationist language in the science text standard.

Texas Watch describes HB 1774 and SB10 as the "Blue Tarp" bills, reducing incentives for home insurers to pay claims in full and on time.

Somervell County Salon sees 'strike two' called on Sid Miller's Hogpocalypse bill, and and the TSTA Blog isn't having it with Dan Patrick's spin on the budget.

Michael Li compares the 2011 and 2013 statehouse maps in the wake of the Fifth Circuit ruling that the 2011 map was passed with discriminatory intent. 

Dan Solomon introduces us to Student Body Armor.

Paradise In Hell attended the Ted Cruz town hall (which Cruz did not).

Lone Star Ma presents an Earth Day-themed reading list, and DBC Green Blog asked the March for Science to please give his Earth Day back.

Lisa Gray eulogizes longtime Houston preservationist Bart Truxillo, and Save Buffalo Bayou has the details of Terry Hershey's memorial service.

And Purple City says goodbye and leaves us with a few of the ideas it didn't get to finish exploring.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The West Wing is a poor model for the Democratic Party

While my rant on Houston's criminalization of the poor simmers (Marialuisa Rincon at the Chron has the latest, and there will be another hearing this afternoon at Bagby, assuming weather permits), this piece by Luke Savage at Current Affairs crystallizes some of my thinking about the callous breed of Donkey we have here on Houston city council and elsewhere across Texas.  (Sam DeGrave at the Texas Observer has tuned in to this neoliberalism in recent days as the Blue Dogs have resurfaced at the Legislature.)

I'd like to excerpt long but you'd need to be familiar with The West Wing to a greater degree than I am, so let me begin and end with the following sentence, which explains more about Democrats' ineptitude in fewer words than I have read anywhere:

“The belief that politics is about argument rather than power is likely a symptom of a Democratic politics increasingly incubated in the Ivy League rather than the labor movement.”

Boom and thud.  Read the whole thing.  I wasn’t a West Wing watcher -- I spent the Aughts working nights and watching Sopranos when I had time and energy left to watch teevee -- but I am not a fan of fantasy politics anyway.  (House of Cards is a non-starter for me also.)  Had I understood the show was all about the neoliberals reinforcing the duopoly I would have gotten disgusted and abandoned it quickly anyway, but I may be speaking in my current state of mind and not the one I was in ten years ago, as a Democratic activist slowly becoming disillusioned with corporate conservative Dems and their political consultants.  We didn't call them neoliberals then; they were 'Lieberman Democrats' and such.  But they've always been with us: from Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson all the way back to Harry Truman.  Even JFK and LBJ were war-hawking neoliberals, no matter their devotion to domestic social engineering.  Some would say the Cold War times demanded that.  But the Democrats did manage to nominate a peace advocate in George McGovern ... and they still live with the terror of that defeat to this very day.

You never hear anybody say "I'm afraid we might be Gore'd", or "Hillary'ed", do you?

The Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated their worthlessness to working people, poor people, people who want affordable healthcare and not just affordable health insurance (take note that the two leading Texas Ds for US Senate in 2018 still have not signed on to Medicare for All), people who want less war, more clean air and water, are in support of women's reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights and immigrants rights and all the rest.  And the sooner that Democrats who want those things to come to reality -- and not just to hear words favoring those things spoken and no action taken -- realize they've been had, the sooner we can get started on changing this political system for people at the bottom rather than the top.

Of course, between a warming planet and North Korea we may be short on time.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has nothing to hide in its tax returns as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff contemplates a contested Democratic primary for the Senate in 2018.

SocraticGadfly, with apology and hat tip to T.S. Eliot, offers up some snarky Trump poetry.

The Texas House will give a committee hearing to their version of the 'bathroom bill' this week, in a nod -- or something more -- to the concerns of rural and exurban members, representatives of those Texans least likely to encounter a transgendered person anywhere, much less a public restroom. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wishes tolerance and love was something taught in the state's churches on Easter.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that the TCEQ has tentatively approved an expansion of the landfill in Farmer's Branch, adding 100 acres and allow it to rise 675 feet above sea level.

Texas Vox sees El Paso Energy renewing its attack on solar customers.

Prior to the Tax March this past weekend, jobsanger bar-graphed three national polls that show a majority of Americans still want to see Trump's tax returns.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the great big Houston march and rally to demand that Trump release his taxes. We must oppose Trump each day. APHV is part of

John Coby at Bay Area Houston attended a Resistance meeting and heard former Rock Goddess Dayna Steele talk about her pending bid for US Congress, challenging Brian Babin in CD-36.

And Grits for Breakfast shares the song by Just Liberty that pays tribute to HB 81 (the decriminalization of marijuana bill).


More Texas news and blog posts!

The Waco Herald Tribune takes note of the fact that Trump's border wall could leave some Americans on the 'Mexican side' of it.

With six weeks remaining in the legislative session, Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib finds lots for representatives and senators still to fight over.

The Texas Observer finds two Democrats in the Texas House voting to phase out the franchise tax, squeezing billions of dollars out of a state budget that doesn't have any dollars left to spare.

Andy Hailey at the WAWG Blog reminds Democrats again that simply complaining about the opposition does not incentivize voter turnout, which will be vital in 2018.

On the eve of his child custody court fight, Jonathan Tilove at the AAS' First Reading blog hears Alex Jones suggesting Obama's daughters aren't his.  (Performance art, indeed.)

The Texas Election Law Blog sums up the latest voter ID ruling, and Gerry Hebert and Danielle Lang do the same from their perspective as private plaintiffs' counsel in the lawsuit.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that retired educators need more than kind words and fond memories, and Raise Your Hand Texas highlights the dangers of special education vouchers.

Megan Hix at Burkablog gives a preview of the forthcoming movie about the disastrous Texas City harbor explosions seventy years ago.

Cort McMurray laments the "Erasing Texas History Act".

Anastasia Hansen explains Houston's German heritage.

Scott Elliff imagines a future day at a fictional Texas county courthouse.

And the Houston Press reveals the excuse an Aggie football player had for exposing himself to two female tutors: he had a case of 'jock itch'.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Texas House breathes life into bathroom bill

I am as mad as a hornet about Houston's latest assault on homeless people, but that rant is still being formalized, so here's a little fresh outrage at the Lege and the bathroom bill.

Oh, but they do. They really do.

(Texas) House lawmakers will debate a so-called "bathroom bill" next week that supporters hope will be less worrisome to business interests concerned the measure could hurt the Texas economy.

The decision to debate the House bill, and to set aside a more severe version passed last month in the Senate, marks the latest split the two chambers have endured during a particularly divided legislative session. The House bill will probably get the backing of the Dallas Cowboys, their lobbyist said, but the state's largest business group is withholding its support at this time.

"It's a bill that's trying to strike a balance between all the interested parties," Rep. Ron Simmons, the bill's sponsor, told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday. "It's our belief that discrimination issues related to privacy should be handled at the state level."

House Bill 2899 will be debated in the State Affairs Committee (next) Wednesday. The amended bill would ban cities, school districts and any other "political subdivisions" from passing local laws that protect certain people from discrimination in an intimate space. This would render local nondiscrimination ordinances that protect the rights of transgender people to use bathrooms that match their gender identity unenforceable.

Guess what this bill is modeled on.

While the language isn't an exact match, Simmons' bill looks quite a bit like the revised bathroom law recently passed in North Carolina. Both ban local governments from regulating use and access of restrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms.

Unlike the North Carolina law, Simmons' measure would not affect colleges campuses. It also would not restrict bathroom use based on biological sex, which the Senate Bill does. The House bill is co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, Cole Hefner of Mount Pleasant, Jodie Laubenberg of Parker, Valoree Swanson of Spring and Terry Wilson of Marble Falls.

I'm going to expect that Speaker Straus is going to hold fast his coalition of sane business and corporate types inside and outside the Dome, and is just accommodating the rural and exurban back-benchers aligned with their extremist counterparts in the Senate by giving this bill a committee hearing.  And nothing more than that.

Too much to expect?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bill O'Reilly takes a vacation

Let's hope he's on an overbooked United flight.   To nowhere.

In the midst of an ongoing scandal surrounding Bill O’Reilly in the wake of a NY Times report that he’d paid out $13 million in sexual harassment settlements, O’Reilly is going on vacation. O’Reilly, however, insists that it is not a suspension, and that he had been planning the vacation since last fall. It is merely a coincidence that the vacation falls in the middle of the week. After over 60 advertisers have dropped his program. 

Could it have happened to a more deserving cad?

New York Magazine, however, is reporting that (Tuesday night)’s show may be his last. Fox News is conducting its own investigation into sexual harassment allegations against O’Reilly, and there is a battle between Rupert Murdoch and his son, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, over whether to keep O’Reilly around. Rupert wants him to stay, while James does not.

More from Think Progress.  Watch for news about Billo and Roger Ailes getting a new conservo-news network going with Steve Bannon (as soon as Trump fires him).


In the New World Order, there's always room for one more authoritarian overlord.  To emulate the president, everybody thinks being the biggest, baddest bully is the way to go these days.

The company prevented two girls in their early teens from boarding their flight just a couple of weeks ago because they were wearing leggings.  They added surcharges -- 'tiered' ticket pricing -- for fliers who wished to use the overhead bins a year ago.

It seems obvious to me that the invisible hand of the free market needs to remove a large number of United's paying customers.  Unless we don't actually have a choice, in that the airline industry has become an oligopoly, like our media, our food supply, etc. 

Oh wait, they already are.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance would rather be taking in a baseball game than covering the Lege with this week's lefty blog post roundup.

Off the Kuff has a bunch of updates about various Texas voting rights-related lawsuits.

SocraticGadfly took note of the centennial of American entry into World War I and noted why, in detail, we never should have gotten involved.

The 59-Tomahawk Tweet Trump sent to Syria isn't paying off in polling dividends just yet, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, and jobsanger sees the Syrian bombing as a publicity stunt.

Neil at All People Have Value commented on the Republican universal access plan for basketball. APHV is part of

Texas Leftist thinks the GOP is cracking up.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston takes a swipe at the Harris County Republican Party.

In Lewisville, the Education First High School Year Exchange and their good works are acknowledged by participants in the Texan Journal.


More blog posts and news from around Texas!

The Texas Observer, on the scene at the #Megamarch for immigrants rights in Dallas yesterday, saw Joaquin Castro and Beto O'Rourke and thousands of others.

Meagan Flynn at the Houston Press recorded five highlights from the 15-hour debate over the state budget in the Texas House last Thursday.

Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn celebrated the defeat of Dan Patrick and school vouchers in the House, but despaired that the assault on women's health goes on.

Raise Your Hand Texas introduces us to Mr. Voucher III: The Frankenvoucher.

PoliTex (the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's blog) rounds up a few Lege items, including one state lawmaker whining about politics stalling his effort to outlaw abortions in Texas.

Texas Watch names the all-stars on the fantasy sports industry's lobbyist team.

Burkablog reported on Hillary Clinton's keynote speech at the Annie's List fundraiser luncheon in Houston, where she gave unqualified support to Trump's missile attacks in Syria.

Former Sanders supporter (and Trump voter) Digital Heretic joins the chorus of those denouncing the Syrian Tomahawk strike.

Paradise in Hell has a few choice words for former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss.

Lila Mankad explains why the Legislature should let cities regulate plastic bags if they choose to.

Michael Li has the latest updates in the Texas redistricting litigation.

And CultureMap Houston and Houston Streetwise collected some snapshots from the Art Car Ball and Parade.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Syrian bombing not yet helping Trump's low approval ratings

Initial reports in fact reveal some Trump Train passengers are disembarking.

Some of President Trump’s most ardent campaign supporters were among his most vocal opponents on Thursday after he ordered the missile strike against Syria, charging him with breaking his promise to keep the United States out of another conflict in the Middle East.

Prominent writers and bloggers on the far right attacked Mr. Trump. They accused him of turning against his voters by waging an attack that he had for years said would be a terrible idea. They also criticized him for launching the strike without first seeking congressional approval — something he said on Twitter in 2013 would be a “big mistake.”

The most vocal in their outrage were leaders from the small but influential white nationalist movement.

Well.  Who cares what those racists think anyway?

Nothing rebuilds bipartisanship post-nuclear strike in the Senate like a war.  Marco Rubio, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton all agree.

Business as usual for the neoliberals and neoconservatives.  It does also help with that pesky Kremlin buddies problem he's been having, so there's something gained for Cheetolini by starting a proxy war with Russia this week, the latest worst of his presidency.

You may recall his namesake offspring once compared the Syrian refugee crisis to a bowl of Skittles.

And if that guy's dad keeps bombing Syria, there will probably be many more Syrian refugees bowls of Skittles.  Unfortunately that can't be considered progress.  On the other hand, Pops did get to start his Mar-el-Lago golf weekend early, so hey, this may all turn out well by Monday.

At the very least, we should have a new Supreme Court Justice by this evening.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has a story it wants to tell you in this week's roundup, and it doesn't require a guarantee of immunity for that.

Off the Kuff looks at the Beto O'Rourke for Senate campaign and how it might be successful, and jobsanger also feels encouraged by O'Rourke's candidacy.

SocraticGadfly looks at Texas Senate Democrats all voting FOR Dan Patrick's budget, and the ugh "fear the police" bill from Whitmire-West, and for those who want to #resist, suggests another voting option.

A couple of somewhat dubious sources reported that Michael Flynn's offer to flip had Trump thinking about resigning the presidency.   PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has lots of corn ready to pop just in case.

Neil at All People Have Value continues to attend weekly protests outside the Houston office of wrongdoing U.S. Senator from Texas John Cornyn.  Never let up against Bannon/trump and all the wicked servants of Bannon/trump.  APHV is part of

Before leaving on a month-long fishing trip, CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme points to the McAllen Monitor's op-ed accusing Texas legislators of using religion to discriminate.  That's not what Jesus would have done.

Lewisville ISD's handling of a sexual assault allegation by a student requires some improvement, editorializes the Lewisville Texan Journal.

Alex Kotch at Rewire reports on the political action committees of three law firms, one trade association, and eight other companies that signed the letter against SB 6 (the bathroom bill) that have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Republican state senators who sponsored the bill.

And Texas Vox highlights Rep. Rafael Anchia's resolution committing the state to lead the way in ratifying an amendment to the US Constitution that overturns Citizens United.


More news of interest from across Texas, focusing on the legislative session ...

Texas Freedom Network takes note of SB522, which allows county clerks to exercise religious discrimination against virtually anyone.

Better Texas Blog reviews where we are in the state budget process, and Raise Your Hand Texas tells the truth about vouchers and school district costs.

Conservative state legislator Jason Villalba lines up with Equality Texas -- and not Dan Patrick -- on the bathroom bill, and Scott Braddock reminds us that where there is bigotry and hatred in Texas politics, there's Steve Hotze.

The Texas Election Law Blog answers your questions about the redistricting ruling, and Michael Li examines how CD35 could be changed by it.

Grits for Breakfast wonders if the Trump administration's pivot on the opioid crisis might spur Greg Abbott to change his position on 'Good Samaritan' legislation in the Lege, which he vetoed in 2015. 

Maggie Gordon documents the efforts of Ted Cruz's constituents to find him doing his job, and DBC Green Blog reads some of Cruz's weekly email blasts and wonders why he subscribed to them in the first place.

Therese Odell has a Monday morning wrap-up of the Trumpcare debacle, and Paradise in Hell takes a guess at how low Dear Leader Trump's approval rating can go.

And Zachery Taylor has the Walmart crime report from March.