Monday, November 19, 2018

The Pre-Turkey Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is grateful not to have to wrangle any actual turkeys for its holiday meal in this weather.  Wrangling these blog posts and news items -- not all of which are turkeys -- is difficult enough.

Off the Kuff looked at the results of the Congressional races to find some themes about what happened and what we can learn from them.

David Collins also did some Congressional Kuffnering, along with a TX-23 follow-up, and wants you to know that he is down with the MPP (which is not the Marijuana Policy Project).

Progrexas blogs that Texas Republicans and Democrats who barely won their Congressional and Lege contests in 2018 will be the top targets for their opposition in 2020.

Robert Garrett at the Dallas News documents the rapidly-concluded Texas House Speaker's contest and profiled the breakaway victor, Dennis Bonnen.

Texas Standard took note of the first bill filing day for the upcoming Texas legislative session (in January), seeing items regarding public school financing, property taxes, and marijuana policy changes among the flurry.

Better Texas Blog explains the spending cap that the Legislature adheres to.

Houston Justice, reporting from the NAACP Houston chapter's elections, saw the Old Guard prevail over the Young Turks (in the vernacular), a story the Chron and KPRC also had.

Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noticed pastor Ed Young of Houston's Second Baptist Church (also losing CD-7 incumbent John Culberson's church) being so upset about Democratic gains in the wake of the midterms that he condemned the victors as "godless", a passing of judgment echoed by other so-called Christian leaders.

About one-fourth of Texas voters this month were white evangelical Christians. According to CNN’s exit poll, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a faith-and-values Southern Baptist from Houston, won 81 percent of that vote.

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville is taking the the Trump administration to court over the location of the proposed southern border wall passing through the historic La Lomita mission site.

Houston Legal has the details of the public reprimand issued by the State Bar of Texas against former Harris County GOP chairman/homophobe Jared Woodfill.

Nonsequiteuse urges Beto O'Rourke to take another run for the Senate in 2020.

Four Texas Libertarian candidates broke records for the number of votes received in the 2018 election, writes the Independent Political Report.

Downwinders at Risk blogs about San Antonio and Houston moving forward with new regional air monitoring networks, while Dallas does not.

TPA charter member Sharon Wilson, now the Texas coordinator for Earthworks, is still fighting the good fight against fracking in the Permian Basin.

Wilson, an outspoken anti-fracking activist, has advocated for better regulations to rein in the fracking industry, which utilizes horizontal drilling and fluid injections to crack open shale to release oil and gas trapped inside. But she no longer believes regulations are the answer because state and federal governments aren’t prepared to enforce them. “The only way to save the planet from climate change is to stop fracking now.”

Socratic Gadfly remembers the centenary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Along with indulging in counterfactual history, he says people should stop romancing war in general.

Paradise in Hell tells you more than you cared to know about Trumpy Bear.

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly is happy that Austin did not get Amazon's HQ2.

Harry Hamid's brother cut his first record album.  And Travis Scott's 'Astroworld' music festival defied the trend, collecting a huge and enthusiastic crowd despite uncooperative weather.  The rap celebration of the long-gone-but-warmly-remembered theme park capped a breakout year for Scott, who made his star shine in 2018 as much as did Beto O'Rourke.

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.


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

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).