Monday, November 12, 2018

The 2018 Post Mortem Wrangle

Everybody's got an opinion the week after the landslide, and the Texas Progressive Alliance rounds up the best (and worst) of them in a ride around the Texblogosphere to celebrate the Democrats' big wins -- and mourn the losses -- from last Tuesday.

It's also the day following the Armistice Centenary, or the celebration of the ending of WWI, a hundred years ago.  As Caitlin Johnstone noted, the best way to thank veterans for their service is to not make any more of them.


This synopsis of the US Senate race -- from January of 2017 to last Tuesday -- by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune is the best ten-minute read on how the most important election in Texas unfolded.

RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly corrected the knobs at Politico about O'Rourke's shunning the use of political consultants as a reason why he lost.  RG also had the best morning-after quick takes.

Beto's extremely long coattails for a losing candidate were the focus of many stories: Tarrant County turning purple, Fort Bend and Hays turning blue, the appellate courts flipping, the sweeps in Harris and Dallas Counties.

And as several media outlets predicted going back to September, the cult of Beto grows larger with his defeat as 'O'Rourke 2020' trial balloons are being floated all over the country.
While early voting was under way, Politico also took the liberty of introducing us to the next Ted Cruz, aka Lamar Smith's successor in TX-21, Chip Roy.

Jeff Balke at the Houston Press wants to know if Lizzie Fletcher will do for METROrail what John Culberson refused to do.

There will be another chance for voters in Harris County's East End to cast a ballot before the end of the year: the special election to fill the state Senate seat relinquished by US Rep.-elect Sylvia Garcia was quickly set by Governor Abbott for December 11.  Two statehouse representatives, Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez, announced their intentions to run for SD-6 way back in March (after Garcia won her CD-29 primary).

A handful of old TPA friends were on the ballot last week: Trey Martinez Fischer goes back to the Lege to represent HD-116, but Nick Lampson came up short in his bid to unseat party-switcher Jeff Branick as Jefferson County Judge.  And the Alliance salutes former blogger KT Musselman on his election as Justice of the Peace in Williamson County.

Socratic Gadfly had a three-part election wrap. First, a look at general hot takes, trends, and issues from various races. Second, he observed that conservative writers at centrist political mags were getting out the long knives for Beto, maybe in fear of a 2020 presidential run. Third, noting successful Democratic Socialists of America campaigns, he wondered if they would stay true to ideals once in office and other issues; above all, the use of the word "socialist."

Grits for Breakfast examined the 2018 results through his criminal justice reform lens.  Scott Henson followed that up with a wrangle of more CJ news, leading off with a profile of Harris County's Judge-elect, Lina Hidalgo, and her reform platform.

For more background: Charles Kuffner interviewed Hidalgo before the election, and here's a profile and slideshow the Chronicle ran this week. Also related, from the Texas Observer: "The midterms triggered a seismic shift in Harris County courts."

Law and Crime talked to State District Judge-elect Franklin Bynum, one of three DSA members elected in Harris County.

Harris County's new Clerk, Diane Trautman, has plans to replace the county's antiquated eSlate voting machines with new ones that provide a paper trail.  The problem, as always, will be finding the money to do so.

Even as Texas House Republicans begin to consolidate support for Rep. Dennis Bonnen as Speaker, a larger Democratic minority will hopefully push the lower chamber -- and the Lege overall -- more toward the political center.

David Collins has three posts on the progressive POV of the election results, all linked at Part I, while Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current has a thirty-second take on how Democrats of a progressive bent hope to build on 2018.

Off the Kuff had some fun with the Harris County Republican Party and its ridiculous whining about straight-ticket voting.

Funnier still were the accusations of 'Communist' by HCGOP leaders against a losing county commissioner candidate.  Jef Rouner at the HP:

The idea that Penny Shaw, who ran against (incumbent Republican Jack) Cagle, is a Communist appears to be a right-wing conspiracy theory. There is no evidence that Shaw, a Democrat, is a member of the Communist Party of Texas. The idea seems to be based on Shaw's attendance at events the Houston Communist Party attends, such as the state Democratic convention this past summer. Sources "proving" her link to communism are either broken or do not actually contain the quotes that some alt-wiki authors contend they do.

In the lousiest political take/least progressive category, we have Blue Dog Democrat consultant Colin Strother making the case for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 2.0.  Sample:

Unlike many politicians, Pelosi doesn’t have an ego.

AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher vents about the Saturday Night Live/Dan Crenshaw apology.

Paradise in Hell interprets the presidential appointment-making process.

And Harry Hamid is in a time machine at the end of the hall.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Funnies


(as always, click it to big it)

"How were you feeling last Wednesday morning?"
(More answers to this question here.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The hangover

Not mine, yours.  Or maybe it's theirs.  Those guys -- pardon me, women -- on the other side who beat your team.  They're the ones waking up this morning celebrating victory ... and agonizing about defeat at the same time.

The duopoly does make for simple analogies.

Can we say the blue wave rose up in the cities, swept out to the suburbs and exurbs, but crashed into the crimson dikes in the boondocks?  Yes we can, at least in Deep-In-The-Hearta.

Never forget that rural Texas is where the baboons with their swollen asses all live.  And vote.

They kept Texas red.

After the early and mail ballots were reported and most of the GOP statewide slate (save Governor More Powerful Than Putin) found themselves in much tighter races than has historically been the case -- at least for a generation -- some of my good neighbors assembled just down the road at the Redneck Country Club surely put down their nachos, went to the bathroom, and vomited.

Things improved within the hour, so maybe they didn't go home and turn in early.

That is, as long as they didn't care too much about John Culberson (or Pete Sessions or Konnie Burton or Matt Rinaldi) or any of their judicial pals at the many Harris County Courthouses.

We already know they didn't care too much about Ed Emmett, after all.

Commissioners Court has a blue majority this morning, with Lina Hidalgo and Adrian Garcia replacing Hunker Down and -- in what had to feel like some pretty sweet payback for Senator US Rep. Sylvia -- Jack Morman.

Stan Stanart finally got fired, so did Chris Daniel and Orlando Garcia and every single judge, despite the pleadings of the Houston Chronicle's op-eds.  (The midterms used to be the last refuge for Republican judges; it was always presidential cycles where they washed out before.)  Let's see if Harris Democrats can hold their monopoly for a few years, and more importantly bring some justice -- like ending cash bail -- with it.  Poor Gary Polland just lost half a million bucks' worth of income.

More later.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Night updates


All of your regular online resources will be overwhelmed, so hang out with me and your favorite food or beverage.  I'll post something that breaks news, irregularly, once in awhile.


For the obsessive-compulsive in you (and me), keep an eye on the Twitter feed, top right, and the blog feed, also in the column on the right but below the 'endorsements'.  Those will be coming off shortly after the polls close in most of Texas -- looking at you, El Paso -- and Stan Stanart is (supposed) to have the mail and early voting results up on HarrisVotes.com.


The news on the corporate media at the moment has to do with some concerns about all the troubles Georgians are having in trying to vote.  But that's also true across the country.  It just may affect her race more than others.


Meanwhile, here's a good piece on how seriously to take those exit polls, which we should be getting some results from in short order.

More below here throughout the evening.

===============

Update 1: About 7:30 p.m. Central

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly is losing, fairly badly.  In Florida, Ron DeSantis has pulled ahead of Andrew Gillum and Rick Scott noses in front of Bill Nelson, with 91% counted.  In Kansas, Kris Kobach is losing his bid for the governorship.

In Texas, early returns look good for Beto O'Rourke, Gina Ortiz Jones, and all of the Dallas County Democrats.  Harris County returns are delayed due to a judge's decree holding some polls open late because they opened late this morning.


Update 2: About 9:20 p.m.

There are a lot of racists in Florida.  Georgia is looking grim for Stacy Abrams.

All of the US Senate races for Democrats are a nightmare.  The House is still moving toward a flip.

Harris County and Fort Bend are blue, with much of Election Day tallies still to count.  But it appears that there will remain no statewide D elected, although so many came so close.

Update 3: 11:30 p.m.


Ed Emmett did not hunker down low enough.


I'll have more tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Election Eve Wrangle

Whatever happened to 'vote your hopes and dreams'?


There will be a blue wave, unless there isn't.  The red firewall will break the azure tsunami, unless Trump's hate spew has punched suburban holes in it.  The US House flips (but maybe not), and the Senate stays in Mitch McConnell's terrapin-like appendages, except maybe for a systematic polling error, a la 2016.

No wonder Team Donkey is experiencing some cognitive dissonance.



Who, or what, gets the blame if the Ds can't get it done tomorrow?  Voter suppression, from Georgia to North Dakota to Texas college campuses like Prairie View A&M and Texas State?  Voting machines flipping straight-ticket votes (to Ted Cruz?)  There will still be plenty of finger-pointing at Russian hackers and Green candidates, I feel certain.  Even if some dropped out of their race and endorsed the Democrat.

[The old Catch-22: "Greens should run in state and local races and build up to presidential races" instead of playing spoiler (sic) every four years.  "Greens should drop out and endorse Democrats because this is the most important election of our lifetime".  You know, since the one two years ago.  That was their fault Democrats lost.  Blah blah.]

There may be some less nefarious, more legitimate reasons the election will be won -- or lost; for example, the strength of women voters.  Notable for the demographers, moderate Republican women who live in suburban America turning out to cast their ballots against Trump and the GOP.  No, wait; it's the youth vote.  That's it *snaps fingers*, the children are our future.  Either is better than blaming the Latinxs, after all.  We're all tired of hearing that.

Hold on a minute: this is a midterm election, and Texas Democrats who haven't elected one of theirs since, you know, Jim Hightower was Ag Commissioner always lose because they can't raise any money for consultants, advisers, pollsters, etc.  Except they did, a shitpot full of dough, in 2018 -- at least those running for Congress; not so much the statewides save Congressman SuperBeto, whose massive Bernie-like ATM machine reversed both the prevailing Texas narrative and the cash flow, doubling the take of Senator Serpent Covered in Vaseline.


The Cult of RFO'R aims for the upset tomorrow evening.  Rumor has it happening.


So as President Shitler is fond of saying: we'll see what happens.  I'm ready for it to be over; how about you?  Here's your roundup of lefty blog posts and news from the final week before E-Day.

==================

One unplumbed premise that the midterms might reveal is whether the strength of the Lone Star grassroots has shifted from one major party to the other, either because of 'outsiders' becoming 'insiders' or because there needs to be a "bad guy" to focus on and motivate the base.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, says Democrats nationally — and in some parts of Texas — have unleashed the kind of intensity we used to see from the tea party.

“So the question of whether there is still that ability to motivate Republican voters on the other side is the big question going into this cycle,” Henson said.

Henson believes one reason the tea party’s galvanizing force has slipped in local and congressional races is that conservatives no longer have Barack Obama to target. And Donald Trump has taken over the role of chief agitator of conservatives.

Tea party-backed candidates have also been elected. In Texas, the movement has been changed by that success.

“I think once you have people who are part of institutions, it inevitably looks different, because you aren’t banging from the outside,” Henson said. “Like it or not, you are part of the status quo, and you are part of the establishment.”

Perhaps the only competitive statewide contest down the ballot shows signs of GOP panic, as indicted felon/AG Ken Paxton digs in to the deepest pockets of the friends he has left.

In addition to the TV ads, Paxton’s recent campaign finance filings have indicated that Republicans in high places are tuned in to the race in its home stretch. In recent days, the attorney general has received a $282,000 in-kind donation from Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign; more than $350,000 in in-kind contributions from Texas for Lawsuit Reform, the political arm of the tort reform group; and $10,000 each from two of the biggest donors in the Republican Party: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub linked to a picture of Sweaty Beto, which may have been the Halloween costume of the year.


Stirred by Trump's call, armed militia groups head south to welcome the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free intercept the invading (sic) migrant caravan.

Asked whether his group planned to deploy with weapons, McGauley laughed. “This is Texas, man,” he said.

Off the Kuff examined a pair of statewide judicial races.

In Harris County, the Texas Observer foresees a day of reckoning for Republican judges who have held fast to the money bail system, rewarding their friends and penalizing the poor.

Isiah Carey of Fox26 was first with the news that Houston mayor Sylvester Turner's first announced challenger next year will be former Democrat*, now (?) not-Trump Republican, non-DWI-convict and megawealthy trial lawyer -- Rick Perry's defense attorney, for those catching up -- Tony Buzbee.  *Lookie here, from Texpatriate:

(D)espite being the one-time Chairman of the Galveston County Democratic Party, a two-time Democrat nominee for the State Legislature and the once rumored Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. However, of late, Buzbee has been appointed to the Board of Regents of his alma matter, Texas A&M University, and become a key financial supporter of both Perry and (Gov. Greg) Abbott.

Durrel Douglas at Houston Justice blogged the 2019 Houston City Council District B early line.  And in an excellent explainer, described how the local activist/consultant game -- getting paid to do politics, that is -- is a lot like having the app on your phone for the jukebox down at the local bar.

Socratic Gadfly, returning from a recent vacation, took a look at a major nature and environment issue that fired up up opposition to Trump — the Bears Ears downsizing — and offered his thoughts on the value of the original national monument site versus critics of several angles, and things that could make it even better.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher also leavens the politics with some Game of Thrones news.

And Harry Hamid's midnight tale from last week moves ahead to 1 a.m. (with no accounting for Daylight Savings Time and 'falling back' noted).

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

5th Annual Dia de los Muertos Block Party

This annual block party in the historic Houston community of Magnolia Park honors the neighborhood’s cultural heritage by hosting a fre  family-friendly celebration all can enjoy, highlighting the holiday of Dia de los Muertos and its traditions. In its fifth year, the party is going to be bigger and better than ever!
Enjoy these activities:

  • LISTEN to live music from local artists Los Skarnales, Zenteno Spirit, Sister Sister Y Los Misters, Mas Pulpo, mariachis, and more!
  • MEET & GREET internationally acclaimed artist Leo Tanguma, whose mural "The Rebirth of Our Nationality" at 5800 Canal St. has celebrated the East End's cultura for decades
  • LEARN about the rich history of the Magnolia Park neighborhood in the exhibit "Magnolia Park, Houston's First Barrio"
  • PARTICIPATE in traditional Dia de los Muertos altar-building and ofrendas-offering by bringing photocopies of loved ones you want to honor
  • SHOP gifts, clothes, and more, from over 60 local vendors including apparel from Magnolia Grown and handcrafted accessories and jewelry from Las Ofrendas
  • EAT amazing food from local restaurants including tacos, BBQ, desserts, more
  • TAKE PHOTOS with your friends in our photo booth and the lowriders on view, courtesy of the Houston chapter of Texas Lowrider Council

Concessions available for sale by cash or card, and services for concessions offered in English and Spanish. Block party area is accessible to people with limited mobility. No outside food, drink, or coolers allowed. Bring lawn and tailgating chairs!

The Facebook event page, with a short video. A longer video at YouTube of the Selena tribute singer, Jocelyn Gonzalez.  A schedule of the entertainment.


And the Diddies' participation, as part of Barrio Dogs' sponsorship, includes adding our Holly to their altar with the other perros who have gone over the Rainbow Bridge.

Working for better lives for Houston’s homeless animals is full of highs and lows. Finding loving homes for our furry friends is almost euphoric. Seeing them pass over the rainbow bridge after an amazing “adopted” life is bittersweet. We recently lost 2 beautiful former Barrio Dogs, Cleo and Holly. We will honor their lives this weekend at the 5th Annual Dia de los Muertos Block Party where we will have a special altar dedicated to our Barrio Dogs in heaven. Please come out and join us and take a look at our tribute.


Going to be an up-and-down kind of day.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Still Early Voting Wrangle

In breaking developments late last evening in the Texas House Speaker's contest, Rep. John Zerwas of Richmond -- probably the most moderate Republican in the unofficial race for the post -- announced his withdrawal.  Forty House Republicans declared their support for Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen, who had previously told the Texas Tribune he wasn't running for the job.  There will be more news in the days ahead as Democrats are huddling today to determine their course.

And with that as an opener, the Texas Progressive Alliance wants you to be sure to encourage your like-minded friends to get to the polls this week since we know you've already voted yourself.


Ahead of the midterms, NPR notices that our indicted felon/state attorney general Ken Paxton gets busy chasing ghosts ramping up efforts to "combat voter fraud" (sic).

Voting experts say actual instances of fraudulent ballots knowingly cast are extremely rare, leading to accusations that the effort is intended to intimidate voters.

"I think it's all politically motivated," said Greg Westfall, a Texas lawyer currently representing a Hispanic woman who was charged this month with voter fraud. "If you look at the timing, that's what's breathtaking."

[...]

"The fact that there is this concerted effort in Texas to prosecute these cases to the full extent – particularly against people of color – is supremely troublesome," (Beth Stevens of the Texas Civil Rights Project) said. "And then we know what happens in Texas goes to the rest of the country as a model."

Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the communications director for the TxCRP, said the attorney general's own numbers show that his office was tackling an issue that wasn't a growing problem, as shown by the small number of cases in the many years before the crackdown.

"They have prosecuted an average of around 30 election violations since 2004," PĂ©rez said in an email. "To be sure, the AG started the Election Integrity Initiative in without evidence of increasing elections violations," PĂ©rez said.

Beto O'Rourke's plan to maximize the African American vote in H-Town hit high gear over the weekend, with Say Something appearances by musical artists at EV locations around town, the Souls to the Polls rallies, and other efforts accounted by Justin Miller at the Texas Observer.


Even as another 'Beto as Superman' mural was unveiled in Houston ...


... the first, in East Austin and mentioned in this 'scattershot' post from Brains and Eggs, was defaced by MAGA vandals shortly after it debuted.

Rogers’s mural has been defaced phrases like "El Paso gentrifier supports Israel" and "No hero” spray-painted onto the artwork in red and white.

Socratic Gadfly does some number-crunching on the early voting surge and offers a quick hot take on what it might mean for the Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race.

Progrexas carries the piece from the TexTrib about how the statewide judicial candidates will win or lose solely on the basis of their party affiliation.


If anyone is poised to spoil (yet another GOP) sweep, it’s R.K. Sandill, a long-serving Democratic district judge in Harris County who’s consistently outraised his opponent, Justice John Devine. In addition to an impressive cash-on-hand tally, an endorsement from the Houston Chronicle and victories in the Houston Bar Association and Texas Bar Association polls, Sandill faces perhaps the most controversial incumbent on the high court. Before being elected to the high court in 2012, Devine was sued for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. Devine has also boasted publicly that he was arrested 37 times protesting outside abortion clinics.

See also this post at Brains and Eggs for the 'vulnerable, least discussed' Republican -- Presiding Judge Sharon "Killer" Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals -- if the blue wave crests high enough on November 6.

Rewire writes about how a federal court in Texas -- Judge Reed O'Connor's in the Northern District -- will shape the legal fight under way over transgender rights.

Brandon Formby at the Texas Tribune describes the collision of rural and urban values as the high speed rail line between Houston and Dallas continues to move ahead.

Think Progress has details on far-right activists and militia groups headed to the southern border to stop the caravan of Honduran migrants (that are still a thousand miles away).

Earlier (last) week, the U.S. Border Patrol warned landowners in Texas that they could expect “possible armed civilians” on their property because of the news about the caravan. The exact details of when and where the militia would deploy are unclear, but one militia leader told the Associated Press that they would have upwards of 100 members guarding the Mexico-Texas border.

David Collins added some thoughts to Nick Cooper's (he's the drummer for local band Free Radicals) about the border wall.

Stace at Dos Centavos reflected on his weekend of politics y cultura.

The TSTA Blog resorts to begging teachers to support public education at the ballot box.

Texas Standard updates the story of the city of Houston's legal tussle with Southwest Key, the operators of a proposed child detention facility on the northeast side, in reporting that the city has rejected a settlement offer from the company.

A political sign opposing Prop 2 -- the Houston firefighters' pay parity proposal -- was tastelessly posted at the vacant site where five died and thirteen were injured fighting a terrible motel fire just a few years ago.  Fox26's Greg Groogan captured the reactions of HFD union head Marty Lancton and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

"I don't know how you walk up here and see five flags flying, the thin red line and the 13 that were injured and not understand that this is not the place to show your disdain and your vindictiveness toward Houston Firefighters," said Lancton.

[...]

At City Hall, Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is bankrolling the PAC and leading the fight against pay parity, stopped short of an apology.

"I don't know who put it there. I'm just saying whoever put it there, it's important to be respectful and not just of places, but family members as well," said Turner.

Stephen Willeford, the Sutherland Springs "good guy with a gun", is profiled by Michael J. Mooney in Texas Monthly.

Dallas City Hall has stonewalled a pair of open records requests by Downwinders at Risk regarding a mysterious clean air fund and a Joppa polluter.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer thinks it's great that a rec center was renamed for Santos Rodriguez, the boy who was killed by a Dallas policeman in 1973 (updated by the Militant in this Wrangle from August).

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current reminds us that some Christians do support progressive liberal ideas and politics.

CultureMap Houston describes how 'Old Spanish Trail', aka old Highway 90 connecting El Paso, San Antonio, and Houston and built over hundred years ago missed its intended history ... but created a new one that's now old enough for us to celebrate all its own, particularly in the Alamo City.

Grits came to Houston and took in a Contemporary Arts Museum collaboration by artists about the justice system (highly recommended).

Both CNBC and The Verge covered the news about the Sam's Club in Dallas which will be a cashier-less operation, similar to the five (so far) Amazon Go stores in Seattle and Chicago.

And Harry Hamid went out for a bottle of wine at midnight, took in the 'Trose scene, and got ready to tell another story.

Overflow to Monday Funnies

The Weekly Wrangle will appear, as it did last week, later today.



(click on the smaller ones for a clearer and larger view) 




Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Frightful Funnies

See, you just can't let the monsters scare ya too much.


"Squirrel Hill"