Monday, January 28, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas More-Centrist-than-Progressive Alliance solemnly noted Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday with remarks appropriate to the occasion.  Not so the Harris County GOP, which was quickly shamed into deleting its "Leftism kills" Facebook post.

A lack of understanding of Nazis and political history is the root cause of this oft-repeated error.  From the Chron link:

"Nazis, who killed left-wing activists among other victims, have traditionally been viewed by historians as a right-wing fascist movement."

Pages of Victory posted Janis Ian's song, "Tattoo", inspired by her thoughts about the Holocaust.

Here's the rest of the blog post and lefty news roundup.

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

Election day is tomorrow for two Texas House seats; early voting opens today in a third. TXElects:

Three seats in the House of Representatives were vacant when the Legislature convened two weeks ago:
  • HD79, an El Paso Co. seat vacated by former Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), who resigned in December, citing health reasons.
  • HD125, a Bexar Co. seat vacated by former Rep. Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio), who resigned earlier this month to accept an appointment to the Commissioners Court; and
  • HD145, a Harris Co. seat that was held by now Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) prior to her special election victory.
Tuesday is Election Day in HD79 and HD145. Early voting begins (today) in HD125. Early voting turnout in HD79 was 3.1% of registered voters, as a total of 2,705 people had voted through Friday. Turnout was lower in HD145, where just 1,528 ballots were cast through Friday, amounting to 2.1% of registered voters.

There have been nine expedited special elections for legislative seats since 2010, and turnout has exceeded 10% of registered voters in just one of them.


Dan Patrick's reprimand of state Sen. Kel Seliger carries some session-lasting ramifications.  The TexTrib's Ross Ramsey analyzes the unspoken messages being sent from both directions.

The government shutdown may have ended but the hypocrisy of Ted Cruz lasts forever.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer posted the smackdown from Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Trump's wall is a manufactured immigration crisis and is unnecessary, say two Texas sheriffs who police the southern border, reports Kate Groetzinger of the Texas Observer.  Jessica Reyes and Christina Sullivan at Texas Monthly compiled a list of Texas Congresspeople who refused to cash their paychecks during the shutdown.

At least 20 of the 36 Texas members of the U.S. House have confirmed that they are withholding their $174,000 annual salary for the duration of the nation’s longest partial government shutdown. [...] The remaining sixteen members of the House did not say that they were continuing to take pay; they simply have not yet responded to our queries. Sixteen of the House members from Texas who are withholding or donating their pay are Republicans. Ten of the sixteen members who did not respond are Democrats. Neither of the two U.S. senators responded about their intentions.

Patrick Svitek at the Texas Tribune brings word that the DCCC has announced its plans to challenge five incumbent Lone Star Republicans in 2020. 

As part of its first digital ad campaign of the cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin, Chip Roy of Austin, Pete Olson of Sugar Land, Kenny Marchant of Coppell and John Carter of Round Rock. They are among 25 GOP House members across the country included in the ad offensive, which the DCCC announced Friday.

The ads criticize the lawmakers for voting against recent Democratic-backed legislation to end the government shutdown without funding for a border wall -- a demand by President Donald Trump that prompted the closure.

Down With Tyranny says that Mike Siegel, McCaul's 2018 challenger who fell just short, has already declared he will run again next year.  Meanwhile a call has gone forth for a progressive to stand against the mangey Blue Dog in South Texas, Henry Cuellar.

Dubbed “Big Oil’s Favorite Democrat,” Cuellar is the first who Justice Democrats will be recruiting a primary challenger for ahead of the 2020 election. When he voted to lift the ban on crude oil exports in 2015, Cuellar said in a press statement that “with the Eagle Ford Shale in my district and the Permian Basin nearby, I recognize the great potential for our domestic oil industry, and I also understand the way in which it is being suppressed by this outdated export ban.” Lifting that ban helped clear the way for the rash of new fossil fuel development over the last few years and will continue to fuel the development analyzed in OCI’s report. In the summer of 2017, he was among the first to join the Congressional Oil and Gas Caucus intended, per inaugural chair Vicente Gonz├ílez, D-Texas, to “assure that there is support on this side of the aisle for the oil and gas industry.”

Cuellar has voted 69 percent of the time with Trump. In the 2018 cycle, he accepted $145,000 from PACs linked to oil and gas corporations and has taken $711,627 from the industry over the course of his career.

With so much progress being made so quickly on criminal justice reform -- and specifically cash bail reform -- it was inevitable that "LawNOrder" groups would start pushing back.  Grits for Breakfast points out that the organization representing Texas counties is lobbying the Lege about the costs of indigent defense with fake news.

Global warming developments topped bloggers' interest this week past.  Downwinders at Risk celebrated victory as the Dallas city planning commission voted to deny a permit to the concrete facility south of that city.  Texas Vox also saw Big D taking several important steps to mitigate the forthcoming impacts of climate change.  San Antonio's climate plan calls for the Alamo City to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2050, according to Brendan Gibbons at the Rivard Report.  The Texas Living Waters Project writes about reforesting stream banks.  But Progrexas has some ominous news: Permian Basin drillers are flaring almost twice as much natural gas as they are reporting to the Texas Railroad Commission.


“In 2017 alone, Permian oil and gas operators burned enough gas to serve all the heating and cooking needs of the state’s seven largest cities,” wrote Colin Leyden, the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior manager for state regulatory and legislative affairs, in a blog post describing the findings. “That’s roughly $322 million of natural gas that went up in smoke.”

Natural gas is a fossil fuel hitchhiker that comes up with oil. When burned off, it releases earth-warming greenhouse gases and pollutants that can wreak havoc on the human respiratory system.

Off the Kuff kept up with the census lawsuit news, now being fought in two courts.

The Somervell County Salon sees some similarities in the lack of governmental transparency between a death in the Travis County jail and the Texas Public Information Act violations she's covered in Glen Rose.

Raise Your Hand Texas highlights some of the many public school choice options available to Texas students and families.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston has some advice for would-be city council office seekers.  (My advice is to ignore his advice.)  Derrick Broze at The Conscious Resistance wonders why Mayor Sylvester Turner won't answer questions about the city's 5G plan.

SocraticGadfly had two different pieces on just how real and how strong the national "jobs miracle" is.  First, if as much as half of Internet traffic is fake and bots, then how "real" are many Internet-driven jobs such as SEO marketing?  Second, he advised people not to believe semi-legend pieces about the ease of job-hopping.  The reality is different; it's driven by IT-tech jobs, followed by sales, and doesn't apply if you're over a certain age.

In Texas media news, the federal bankruptcy court has approved the reorganization plan for iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel).

The company once was a great San Antonio success story. Businessmen Lowry Mays and Red McCombs founded the company in 1972 with a purchase of a local radio station. It grew over the decades to become Clear Channel Communications and then iHeartMedia with 850 stations on its roster, including KJ97 and WOAI 1200 locally.

Mays and McCombs sold Clear Channel in 2008 to two private equity firms in a deal reported near $25 billion, but it has struggled under the weight of growing debt since the acquisition. It was renamed iHeartMedia in 2014.

Mike McGuff blogs on the demise of a hyperlocal news outlet in Katy, Texas, and extends his thoughts about the state of today's corporate media.

From my vantage point of running a little Houston media blog for a decade plus, no one is getting rich doing this - even if you see ads running around these very words. And it's not just the little sites - the big dogs in publishing are hurting too. In fact, if you follow me on Twitter, I just tweeted a New Yorker article that asked Does Journalism Have a Future?

I should note however, that the Houston Chronicle just posted the article "Houston Chronicle parent reports record profits, again". So don't cry for Hearst, Houston. 

David Collins explains cognitive misers, useful idiots, and how multiple complex narratives get reduced to two boxes ... and one narrative.

Texas Rural Voices sees the state's doctors looking for other treatments for opioid addiction available under Medicaid.

And Texas Standard has a profile of 'cosmic cowboy' Michael Martin Murphey on his induction into the Texas Music Legends Hall of Fame and the release of “Austinology: Alleys of Austin.”


Murphey teams up with old friends Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Gary P. Nunn and others to recreate the soundtrack of a vibrant scene that somehow emerged in the Texas Capital City.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Weekly 'Latest on 2020'

Until the news calms down, I may have to do this more often than weekly.

-- For all Donkeys who tend to dismiss Glenn Greenwald.


-- Flavor of the Kossack Week: Kamala.

You might recall that two weeks ago in the cycle's first sample it was Liz Warren on top.  The top five -- those two plus Beto, Biden, and Bernie -- shifted around a bit but remain at the lead.

Much has been written, broadcast, blogged and otherwise bloviated before and after the junior Cali senator's declaration.  It's a good thing I got my post about her up on Sunday; it looks like my (revised) prediction about her is accurate.  The reporting isn't all peaches and cream.

The Hillbots got on board with Harris long ago.  She'll be the first candidate to get a CNN townhall, this coming Monday.  In Iowa.  That's called a in-kind contribution, folks; earned media worth millions of dollars.  Her run-up to kickoff has been slick, almost too slick.  She's one of a handful of frontrunners who has some past tuff-on-crime issues in the Black Lives Matter era.

But so far it's all tailwinds and smooth seas.

-- When last we heard of Pete Buttigieg, he was losing the race for DNC chair a few years ago.  Now he's ready to lose again.  On the bright side, the gay white male millennial caucus has their candidate.  That's pretty close to all identity politics covered, although we might need a few LGBTQ POC in the race at some point.  Somebody check in with Moni at Transgriot now that Serena is out of the Australian Open.  There's always room for an angry black trans woman, I suppose.

-- Everybody heard enough about Beto's sabbatical in the wilderness?  I know I have.  Yes, there was good snark, here and  also here ...


... (O’Rourke), wandering the countryside after his loss to Senator Ted Cruz, threw it back to the classics with a little beat poetry. (Add that to the list of ways he’s eerily similar to your college boyfriend.)

“A lot of big trucks rolling down Pancake Blvd and there aren’t any sidewalks. Gloomy early morning sky in Liberal Kansas. Snow melt on the side of the road where I’m running,” he wrote on Medium.

Later, he visited a community college where students were learning to be wind energy technicians. “I looked up and imagined the courage it takes to climb out onto the face of these giant turbines, 250 feet up in the air.” He visited another college class and rambled, “Bring people together, over coffee, over beer.” Then, when the day was over: “I left and it was dark.”

Am I supposed to snap between paragraphs? Have you noticed that if you scramble the letters in Robert Francis O’Rourke, you can spell out “Beto Is Kerouac?” What’s going on?

After a few focused read-throughs, and a couple tabs of acid, we think we got the point: Wind energy is the future. Hey, is this Beto guy running for president or what? It’s not clear that he even knows the answer to that — “as is ever so on the road,” or whatever. But it got us musing about what we might hear if some of his potential competition went all beatnik on us, too.

... and there was shitty.

Let Beto live! And if it turns out he is actually doing this all as a stunt while his big-money consultants are putting together a manipulative, shallow campaign to attain the presidency by using regular people as props, we can all justifiably bury him in an avalanche of cynical snark and go back to the regular order of business: criticizing Hillary Clinton for being too focus-grouped and robotic.

How about the revelation that he is a public employee union buster -- sort of like Sylvester Turner?  (Grits seems to have found a silver lining to this episode.)

What I did not hear of was this.  I am so glad I didn't vote for Bobo last November, unlike a former friend of mine, who seems to have had the blue scales fall from her eyes at last.

Update: More strange Beto-band outfits, this time with video.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The MLK Day Wrangle

The Texas Wish-It-Was-Actually-Progressive Alliance supports the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this federal holiday, and denounces the attempts to usurp and reassign them for their own lousy conservative purposes by charlatans like Mike Pence.


Social justice events, and news spawned from them, dominated the past weekend. A quick review:

-- The 2019 Women's March carried on with rallies across the nation despite accusations of anti-Semiticism directed at some of its organizers.


Robin Paoli, writing for the HouChron, spells out why Houston women keep marching.

-- The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington was marred by a group of high school students from Covington, KY who squared off with Nathan Phillips, an Omaha tribal elder and Vietnam veteran.  The smirking young man captured in video has been identified as Nick Sandmann.


-- And today, the two MLK parades in H-Town draw national focus as one of the parade organizers has invited the two conservative electoral challengers to Mayor Sylvester Turner, Bill King and Tony Buzbee, to lead his parade ... competing with the city-sanctioned one.


What would Dr. King do?

(Organizer Charles Stamps) rejected the idea that his selection of Turner's rivals as grand marshals was a political swipe at the mayor, though he acknowledged he would like Turner to lose his bid for a second four-year term in November. Stamps said he sees nothing wrong with having two parades and that King would support the idea.

"He would join our parade and say there should be a thousand of these things," Stamps said.

(Wayne Dolcefino has been busy piling on Turner, claiming the mayor is trying to hide the use of federal disaster money earmarked for Harvey relief.)

In a landmark criminal justice reform improvement, Harris County misdemeanor judges -- joined by Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Rodney Ellis -- announced measures that effectively spell the end of cash bail in the county.


The new slate of Democratic judges have approved comprehensive revisions to Harris County’s bail system that could clear the way for thousands of people, regardless of income, to avoid spending time in jail while awaiting trial on minor offenses.

The county judges plan to present their new court protocol to a federal judge, in a joint request with the sheriff, the county and poor defendants, in a historic class action over bail practices, asking that she implement the revised system as a foundation for a settlement.

[...]

“What it means is that no one will be in jail because they cannot afford to get out,” said Court at Law Judge Darrell Jordan, the presiding judge, who has been on the bench since 2017. “This is a history-making moment for civil rights, not only in Harris County but for the US, because as the third-largest county in America, larger than 26 states, what we do here will be watched by all and can be emulated or replicated by all.”


In Galveston County, a lawsuit brought by the ACLU to eliminate the practice of wealth-based detention continues to move toward injunctive relief.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Planned Parenthood and for the state of Texas (as represented by AG Ken Paxton).

A federal appeals court has lifted a lower court order that blocked Texas from booting Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid, potentially imperiling the health care provider’s participation in the federal-state health insurance program.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Sam Sparks, the federal district judge who preserved Planned Parenthood’s status in the program in February 2017, had used the wrong standard in his ruling. The appeals court sent the case back to him for further consideration.

The case stems from a long-running flap over a misleading video released in late 2015 by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, which suggested that abortion providers at Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue for profit. The sting video included edited clips of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for research. A string of investigations that followed the video’s release were unable to confirm its claims, but it energized a crusade against the health care provider and sparked outrage from the state’s Republican leadership.

Women's reproductive freedoms are under assault all across the country.  Demonizing Planned Parenthood is simply another front for stigmatizing poor women seeking birth control.  Just two women's clinics remain open in San Antonio after the closing of Whole Women's Health in the Alamo City last week.

“Whole Woman’s Health has been a heroic advocate and provider of women’s health," said Mara Posada, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Texas. "We regret that the state of Texas has made it increasingly difficult for providers of abortion care to be here for women who need them. Abortion is health care and health care should be accessible.”

[...]

“What changes is how people get access to those services,” (WWH corp. v-p Andrea Ferrigno) said. “Our decision to close the San Antonio location stems from the stricter regulatory landscape we have seen across the state for the last few years that disproportionately affected smaller providers. The regulations make it more difficult to access care and increases the cost of the services, making it unsustainable.”

After the US Department of Justice changed sides in the Texas redistricting lawsuit (the case argues that the state's long history of racial discrimination demands it be placed back under pre-clearance), the plaintiffs responded that the DOJ missed the deadline, and didn't follow the rules.

An op-ed by a group of Houston area faith leaders gives a rebuttal to Trump's warning about his self-created immigration crisis at the southern border being 'an emergency of the heart and soul'.  Groups like the Texas Pastor Council have come out in full support of the Trump agenda, and their shrill voices may be heard by some as speaking for the whole of the religious community.  These leaders provide the counter-weight.

There are two special elections under way to fill vacant Texas House seats, but you wouldn't know it judging by voter turnout.

HD79 special: Through Friday, the last day for which numbers are available, a total of 1,083 people had voted early, amounting to 1.2% of registered voters. Polls were closed today (Sunday) and will be closed tomorrow (Monday) for the holiday.

HD145 special: Through today (Sunday), a total of 637 people have voted early, amounting to 0.9% of registered voters. Polls will be closed tomorrow (Monday) for the holiday.

Both TXElects and the SA Current have the contenders for the HD135 empty chair.

Five filed for the HD125 special election to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio), who resigned to accept an appointment to the Bexar Co. Commissioners Court:
  • Steve Huerta (D), a San Antonio social justice advocate
  • Ray Lopez (D), a former San Antonio council member
  • Fred Rangel (R), a San Antonio commercial construction business owner and former State Republican Executive Committee member
  • Coda Rayo-Garza (D), a San Antonio education policy advocate; and
  • Former Rep. Art Reyna (D).
Early voting begins January 28 for the February 12 special election.

There are municipal elections galore across the state; Fort Worth Democrats are encouraged by their candidate for mayor, Tarrant County Dem chair and former AT&T VP Deborah Peoples challenging Republican incumbent Betsy Price in May.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer is tracking that city's mayoral contest, with former state Rep. Jason Villaba the latest in, and former city attorney Larry Casto the first out.  He's made no mention yet of the Socialist Workers Party's Alyson Kennedy, however, whose announcement in The Militant indicates she's been campaigning since January 12.

Off the Kuff ran down the elections Houston has on the calendar this year.

Twenty-twenty presidential campaign developments caught the attention of Texas bloggers.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had a piece on five of the women getting ready to run, focusing on the enigmatic Tulsi Gabbard.  He followed up with "The Corporacrats" (Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar).  SocraticGadfly saw the Gabbard announcement and examined the recipe for the Tulsi Kool-Aid, and who's mixing and pouring itDavid Collins also had something brief to say about Tulsi's bid.  And Zachery Taylor has several presidential candidates who are being censored by the mass media.

And Texas Lege business is getting serious: Better Texas Blog takes their first look at the opening state budget proposals, while Raise Your Hand Texas has a toolkit to navigate the legislative session.  The TSTA Blog explains the problem with merit pay for teachers.  And Frontloading HQ takes note of Rep. Lyle Larson's "flamethrower" bill, so called because it would move the Texas primary from March to the end of January in an attempt to make the Lone Star State more relevant in picking the presidential nominee.  (It's not given any better odds of passing than it has had in legislative sessions past.)

In this week's "Texas Republicans Behaving Badly" news, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reports that Louie Gohmert took Steve King's side in his latest racist brain fart.  The Current points out that Ted Cruz, Kevin Brady, and former US Rep. Lamar Smith provided lots of financial support to King in recent years.  And Juanita Jean has an update on the employment status of Blake Farenthold.

Ty Clevenger at Lawflog blogged about the DPS releasing the report about demoted Texas Ranger Brent Davis of Tyler.

Mike McGuff, the Houston media blogger, published the press release from Hearst Newspapers announcing the Chronicle's new president, Mike Medici.

Sarah Martinez, again at the San Antonio Current, has some lighter fare, reporting on Dr Pepper's effort to become the official soft drink of Texas.

Harry Hamid had a party in the panic room, and it may or may not have been in the panic room but only in his head, and it may or may not have involved alcohol.

Ken Hoffman at CultureMap gets all the great perks: he caught a free flight to Manchester, took in a soccer match, then rode the train to Liverpool and got his Beatles fix taken care of.


The Beatles bus takes you past John Lennon’s boyhood home on Menlove Avenue and Paul McCartney’s family home on Forthlin Road. We stopped at Strawberry Field for a photo op. We drove along Penny Lane and saw the barbershop, bank, and fire station in McCartney’s song. The tour guide carries a guitar and sings Beatles songs as the bus approaches places in John, Paul, George and Ringo lore. 

And here's a slideshow of the best eateries to visit during Galveston Restaurant Week (lasting nearly a month), starting this weekend.

Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar
 Lunch: 12, Dinner: $20. See the menus here.
Brains and Eggs endorses!

(From) January 26 through February 20, 33 participating restaurants will offer either a breakfast, lunch and or dinner 3-course meal for a steal. According to the Galveston Restaurant Week website, two- or three-course dinners will be priced between $20-$35 and two-course lunches, breakfasts and brunches will cost between $10-$20.

Proceeds from the meals go to Access Care of Coastal Texas to provide lunches for persons with HIV or AIDS.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Corporacrats: Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar (and that's just the women)

Too many of the guys to list in one post, but we'll get to them soon enough.

What say we open with the junior senator from the Empire State?  She made the rounds on all the Talking Heads programs this morning.  Did you watch any of them?


Cartoonist Jim Margulies captures her 'all things to all people' pandering better than anything I could write.  (It could have just as easily been Kamala Harris; but we'll get to her in a minute.)

More than any other candidate, Gillibrand carries the #MeToo flag for women, a badge of distinction and somewhat of a cross to bear for the crucifixion of Al Franken.  I'm not one who holds it against her; Franken behaved badly for many years.  What we laughed at in the Eighties and Nineties isn't funny at all now, and he shouldn't have made a habit out of grabbing constituents' asses at photo ops with him.  He earned his fall from grace.  His resignation was on him, not on Gillibrand.

I could blog about her Wall Street groveling or her decade-old gun flip-flops -- today's WaPo, from Taegan Goddard, has your thirty-second summary -- but Gillibrand's biggest shift has been her ... shall we call it, evolution on immigration.  Andrew Kaczynski at CNN, with the Tweet thread below and the long read here.  It's detailed and even-handed (IMO).


Read both entirely (OK, skip some of the Twitter comments).  Here's an excerpt from the end of the piece, presenting her conversion in the most favorable light.

In January 2009, Gillibrand was appointed to replace Clinton, who had been confirmed to be President Barack Obama's new secretary of state. Her appointment was met with backlash from New York-based immigration activists.

El Diario Nueva York
, one of the largest Spanish language newspapers in the state, published a cover story on Gillibrand. The headline "Anti Inmigrante," ran under a photo of then-congresswoman. The newspaper's editorial board called her "an unfortunate selection."

Gillibrand sought to quell the concerns by meeting with immigration groups. After meeting with activists, Gillibrand announced that she supported several more liberal positions on the issue, like a moratorium on raids until comprehensive immigration reform was achieved.

The meetings seemed to work.

"We saw a very positive shift in attitude in the way that she looks at immigrant constituencies," said Chung-Wha Hong, former executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, who met with Gillibrand, to the New York Daily News at the time.

New York Assemblyman Peter Rivera was going to have a press conference announcing his "total opposition" to Gillibrand before it was canceled after aides to the new senator reached out. Rivera soon announced he no longer saw her as anti-immigrant.

[...]

Gillibrand moved in the Senate to support policies advocated by the activists, including in March 2009, when she signed on as a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act.

Gillibrand was asked about her past positions in a 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, where she said, "I just didn't take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn't right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I'm embarrassed about and I'm ashamed of."

She added, "I just think as I've gotten older I've learned more about life and sometimes you're wrong. And you've gotta fix it. And if you're wrong, just admit it and move on."

So is she a chameleon or a thoughtful, deliberative pol?  Someone who revisits her thinking on the basis of new information or enlightenment, or on political expediency?

I think if you're the kind of person willing to give Tulsi Gabbard a second chance, then you'd have to be intellectually dishonest not to do the same for Kirsten Gillibrand.  As for me, they're both near the bottom of my list.

-- So where does that leave Kamala Harris, the ultimate identity politician in the 2020 race?  She is heavily rumored to be announcing this weekend.  She checks all the boxes: daughter of a Tamil Indian mother (a breast cancer research doctor) and a Jamaican American father (a Stanford University economics professor).  No hardscrabble background, that.  She stands a full five feet two inches tall; an attribute she seems to have camoflaged fairly well to those of us who only glimpse her occasionally on teevee.  (Other famous people at that height include Kelly Ripa, Reese Witherspoon, Prince, Shirley Temple, Alyssa Milano, and Eva Longoria.)  She's also been engaged in working both sides of the Democratic political street for some time now.  For example, Harris claims to support M4A, but ...


Her record as an LA prosecutor and as California AG has been well-scrutinized, and she comes up short.  At the end of this post just over a week ago, I wrote:

Kamala Harris was on Colbert, said "she might" run for prez, is gutted vetted as her side of the story regarding the 2012 settlement for bad mortgages in California -- the cause of the Great Depression in 2008 -- gets spun back over her.  It's long, a bit in the financial weeds, and a very bad look for the junior Cali senator.  On top of her bumpy (well-hidden; look for the graf with David Sirota mentioned) record (scroll to the end, past the puffery) as a prosecutor, I have trouble seeing how she gets to the nomination.  Tough-on-crime and easy-on-banks Democrats pretending to be progressives doesn't sound like the winning ticket to me.

Update: Briahna Gray at The Intercept, under the headline "Can a Prosecutor become President in the Age of Black Lives Matter?"

(Harris) is running for president as a progressive, but as attorney general of California, she criminalized truancy -- making it a crime for kids to be late for school and dragging into the criminal justice system even more disproportionately low income, predominantly black and Latino families. She’s overlooked the misconduct of her prosecutors and fought to uphold their wrongfully secured convictions. She defended California’s choice to deny sexual reassignment surgery to a trans inmate, and in 2014, appealed a federal judge’s holding that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

The list goes on and on. But in some ways the details don’t matter. The problem isn’t that Harris was an especially bad prosecutor. She made positive contributions as well -- encouraging education and reentry programs for ex-offenders, for instance. The problem, more precisely, is that she was ever a prosecutor at all.

There's also a lot of people starting to speak up about their experiences with her, and it is seemingly all negative.  She has a similar staff/sexual harrassment problem as Bernie Sanders, but he apologized for his, while she has made excuses for hers.  Her memoir, The Truths We Hold, is thin on accomplishments, as reflects her overall curriculum vitae.  Despite all of this, I expect Harris to be one of the last left standing at the end.  Nate Silver's analysis using five Democratic voter metrics -- Party Loyalists, The Left, Millennials and Friends, Black Voters, and Hispanic Latino Voters (sometimes in combination with Asian voters) -- shows her with the most upside.

Harris ... was easily the top choice in the survey of influential women of color that I mentioned earlier. So while I don’t automatically want to assume that nonwhite candidates will necessarily win over voters who share their racial background -- it took Obama some time to persuade African-Americans to vote for him in 2008 -- Harris seems to be off to a pretty good head start. And her coalition not only includes black voters, but also potentially Asian and Hispanic voters. Harris did narrowly lose Hispanic voters to Sanchez, a Hispanic Democrat, in 2016 (while winning handily among Asian voters). But her approval ratings among Hispanic voters are high in California, a state where the group makes up around a third of the electorate.

If black voters and the Hispanic/Asian group constitute Harris’s first two building blocks, she’d then be able to decide which of the three remaining (predominately white) Democratic groups to target to complete her trifecta. And you could make the case for any of the three. Harris polls better among well-informed voters, which could suggest strength among Party Loyalists. She’s young-ish (54 years old) and has over 1 million Instagram followers, which implies potential strength among millennials. (And remember, Democratic millennials highly value racial diversity.) Harris’s worst group -- despite a highly liberal, anti-Trump voting record -- might actually be The Left, the whitest and most male group, from which she’s drawn occasional criticism for her decisions as a prosecutor and a district attorney.

Overall, however, this is a strong position for Harris. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie points out, it may actually be a strategic advantage to be a black candidate in this Democratic primary in 2020.

Here's where I amend myself from last week: dyed-in-the-wool Donks simply want to see Trump defeated.  They won't consider the shortcomings listed too severe to hold her back.  Kamala Harris is just superficial enough to pass muster with Democratic Party constituencies and skate onto the November 2020 ticket.  Whether her name appears first or second is the only thing left to be determined.  It's very early, but she's on the lead with the gents.

-- That's going to leave "Minnesota nice" Amy Klobuchar somewhere out in the cold a year from now, I'll wager.  Though her in-laws are onboard with a presidential run, and she could bring a state the Dems need (Hillary barely carried it) and the Midwest in general needs to be shored up by them after the 2016 Clinton debacle, Klobuchar shows up lukewarm on some of the issues that will generate blue enthusiasm.

She has not signed onto (Bernie) Sanders’s single-payer health care bill, commonly called Medicare for All; she said it “should be considered,” but prefers “a sensible transition” such as allowing people to buy into Medicare, or expanding it to cover those 55 and older. Her push to make college more affordable is not as expansive as the left would like. While she has denounced Trump’s border policies, she has not joined the movement to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Once more, 538.com.

... I’m not quite sure how she builds a winning coalition. Klobuchar is potentially a near-perfect choice for Party Loyalists, who are liable to see her Midwestern moderation as being highly electable, especially after she won her Senate race by 24 percentage points last year in a state where Trump nearly defeated Clinton. Beyond that, though? Minnesota is a pretty white state, so Klobuchar doesn’t have a lot of practice at appealing to black, Hispanic or Asian voters. Her voting record is fairly moderate; she’s voted with Trump about twice as often as Booker has, so she’s not an obvious fit for The Left. Millennials, perhaps? Her social media metrics so far are paltry — she has just 140,000 Twitter followers, for example — although (not totally unlike Warren) she has a goofy relatability that could translate well to Instagram ...

I think mild-mannered centrism is a deal-killer for a vice-presidential contender, which is the best Klobuchar can hope for.  Almost every man or woman with a real shot at the top of the ticket is going to have a better option for their running mate.

Just my humble O, as always.

Sunday "Hamberder Helper' Funnies













Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Women's March: Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar join Kamala Harris and Liz Warren

The 2019 Women's March this Saturday may have been abandoned by the DNC on account of perceived anti-Semitism (it still has plenty of sponsors, and the one in Houston is on; keep an eye on the weather), but the 2020 run is almost full.  Of the rumored, declared, and 'exploring' female presidential Democratic contenders kept track of by Axios, all have moved to the starting blocks.

And all have promptly undergone preliminary vetting, Gabbard the most of all.  This post will focus on her; the other women I will put in one post (my thoughts on Warren are here) later this week.  Let me throw up a few links -- no pun -- and sprinkle in some opinion.

Vox: How she went from rising star to pariah -- and then presidential candidate

Zack Beauchamp's history is the best place to begin if you're still learning about the Congresswoman.  Here's a few excerpts.

On paper, Gabbard is the perfect Democratic candidate. She is an Iraq War veteran who vocally criticized American wars, an outspoken economic progressive, and the first Hindu member of Congress. After her 2012 election victory, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called her an “emerging star”; MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow predicted that “she is on the fast track to being very famous.”

You've probably heard about her anti-LGBTQ family upbringing.

Despite her conservative social views — she also opposed abortion — Gabbard was a Democrat, albeit not one likely to succeed on the national stage. But in 2004, Gabbard deployed to the Middle East for her National Guard unit, serving as a combat medic in Iraq and a counterterrorism trainer in Kuwait.

This was, according to Gabbard, a transformative experience. During her 2012 campaign for an open seat in the US House, Gabbard supported both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. She explained her change of heart in a December 2011 blog post on her campaign site. It’s worth reading her statement at length ...

Take a moment and consider that.  Continuing:

Gabbard made a name for herself during the 2012 campaign as a Democrat to watch. The strength of her campaign — she won an upset primary victory after initially trailing by 50 points — and her compelling personal background caught the eye of national Democrats pretty early. That summer, Pelosi tapped her for a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention.

She effectively moved beyond her controversial stands on social issues, situating herself as an economic progressive and critic of the Bush-era wars in the Middle East. The latter was particularly important, as she grounded her anti-war arguments in her personal experience witnessing the cost of war. This immunized her from the “soft on terrorism” charges so many Democrats were terrified to court, making her a powerful critic of “nation building” and “wars of choice.”

Another famous biracial Hawaiian politician, President Barack Obama, endorsed her congressional run. After her victory, Gabbard was given one of five vice-chairmanships of the Democratic National Committee, a sign of the party’s faith in her.

From there, it's been all downhill for Tulsi and establishment Democrats.  First, she consistently put herself on the wrong side of the Obama administration in the War on Terra.  That wasn't a bad thing at first ...until she undermined her 'anti-war' reputation.

As early as January 2015, she started going on every cable channel that would have her — including Fox News — and bashing Obama’s policy on terrorism. She sounded indistinguishable from a Republican presidential candidate.

“What is so frustrating ... is that our administration refuses to recognize who our enemy is,” she said in a January 2015 interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “And unless and until that happens, then it’s impossible to come up with a strategy to defeat that enemy. We have to recognize that this is about radical Islam.”

Ah yes, 'radical Islam'.  You'd best go get the full context that follows.

The term is not analytically precise, not necessary for designing a strategy against specific groups like ISIS, and insulting to the vast majority of Muslims around the world. President George W. Bush’s counterterrorism team refused to use it for precisely these reasons.

Yet this was the hill that Gabbard had chosen to die on. Time and time again, she went after the Obama administration for its refusal to say “radical Islam,” each time pushing herself away from the party mainstream.

This overwhelming focus on the threat from terrorism culminated in what’s now her most infamous policy position: quasi-support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the dictator responsible for the outbreak of the Syrian civil war and the conflict’s worst atrocities.

Gabbard argued, along with a small minority of foreign policy analysts, that the best way to defeat ISIS in Syria was for the US to align itself with Assad’s regime. Gabbard argued that the US should cut funding to the rebels fighting Assad, even sponsoring a bill in Congress to cut off US support. In the fall of 2015, when Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria, Gabbard celebrated it as a win for counter-terrorism.

This scorched her.  But she kept going.

Gabbard’s pro-Assad behavior only escalated as her time in Congress went on. In January 2017, she traveled to Syria and went to meet with Assad personally, blindsiding the Democratic leadership in Congress. After returning to the US, she went on CNN and parroted the regime’s line that there was “no difference” between the mainstream anti-Assad rebels and ISIS.

When Assad’s forces used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in April 2017, Gabbard said she was “skeptical” that Assad was responsible, aligning herself with conspiracy theorists against both US intelligence and the overwhelming majority of independent experts.

The “radical Islam” and Syria debacles doubly damned Gabbard. To the leadership, they showed her to be disloyal; to the party’s policy experts and rank-and-file, they revealed her to be someone who had worrying affinities with Syria and Russia.

That's what drew Neera Tanden and Howard Dean's vitriol.  More from Salon.  Tulsi's benefit-of-the-doubt granted Assad isn't supported by the overwhelming evidence against the dictator, despite his vehement denials (and Putin's excuses for him).

These controversies unraveled the principal promise of Gabbard’s candidacy from a progressive point of view: that she’d be a consistent, effective anti-war voice.

It became clear that her position wasn’t that endless war was bad, but rather that wars for regime change should be replaced with a beefed-up war on terrorism. In addition to suggesting the US should intervene in Syria on the same side as a murderous dictator, she proposed a policy of US special forces raids around the world and even expressed a willingness to authorize torture of terrorism suspects if she were president. She referred to herself in one interview as a “dove” on regime change but a “hawk” on terrorism, neatly summarizing her actual positions.

'Nuance' on torture is a deal-breaker for me.  Let me wrap the Vox profile with this.

If Gabbard were estranged from the party leadership as a result of her views on terrorism, a full-on divorce came in 2016 when she became one of a handful of prominent Democrats to endorse Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. To do so, Gabbard resigned her position as vice-chair of the DNC, a hard break with the party that she claimed was motivated by reservations about Clinton’s foreign policy instincts.

[...]

Much like Gabbard’s postwar conversion on abortion and gay rights, this seems both plausible and politically savvy. Gabbard’s positioning on Syria and fights with the Obama administration had already alienated many people in the party’s more mainstream wing; courting the party’s insurgents seemed like a smart way to build a new base of national support.

In the years since, Gabbard has cultivated this relationship. She has endorsed a $15 minimum wage, Medicare-for-All, and the Green New Deal. When she faced a primary challenge in 2018, motivated in part by her Syria position, the pro-Sanders group Our Revolution endorsed her (as did actress Shailene Woodley, an Our Revolution board member). She has a vocal group of online fans from the so-called “anti-imperialist” left, a loose group of writers — like the anti-Israel gadfly Max Blumenthal — who share her position on Syria.

But on the whole, the left isn’t nearly as pro-Gabbard as you might think. Some of Gabbard’s harshest critics come not from the party mainstream, but rather the party’s left and democratic socialist flanks.

In 2017, the socialist publication Jacobin published a brutal takedown entitled “Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Your Friend,” focusing on dispelling the myth of Gabbard as an opponent of America’s wars abroad.

“Gabbard’s almost singular focus on the damage these wars inflict domestically, and her comparative lack of focus on the carnage they wreak in the countries under attack, is troubling,” Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic writes. “It is nationalism in anti-war garb, reinforcing instead of undercutting the toxic rhetoric that treats foreigners as less deserving of dignity than Americans.”

Reached via email, Marcetic told me that he believes many in the American left share his view of Gabbard.

“My sense is there’s a pretty big cohort of the Left that distrusts Gabbard,” he said. “Her anti-interventionism isn’t quite as peaceful as she makes it out to be.”

Just two weeks ago, the Intercept, a left-aligned anti-war outlet, published a deeply reported expose on Gabbard’s ties to Hindu nationalists. Gabbard has long supported Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an anti-Islam right-winger who had previously been barred from entering the US due to being personally implicated in deadly anti-Muslim riots. In turn, American Hindu supporters of Modi had become some of Gabbard’s biggest donors — including some disturbingly Islamophobic groups.

“Hindu-Americans have supported Gabbard since the start of her political career, and that support has increased substantially since Modi’s election, much of it coming from Hindu nationalists,” Soumya Shankar writes in the Intercept’s piece. “Dozens of Gabbard’s donors have either expressed strong sympathy with or have ties to the Sangh Parivar — a network of religious, political, paramilitary, and student groups that subscribe to the Hindu supremacist, exclusionary ideology known as Hindutva.”

Hitting pause: See yesterday's Tucker Carlson/Glenn Greenwald interview -- where the two agree that Tulsi is being maligned by the Washington establishment; never mind what else may be going on with her political positions -- if you need some more cognitive dissonance.



These attacks in the left press underscore how divisive a figure she is even among the party’s insurgent wing. It’s hard to see why a faction that was troubled by Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record would be open to someone who had engaged in borderline Islamophobic rhetoric about “radical Islam,” called for escalations in the war on terrorism, and backed anti-Islam populists and dictators abroad.

What’s more, the Bernie camp has a candidate they’d obviously prefer to Gabbard: Bernie. If the senator from Vermont runs, as many expect, there’s no way his biggest fans in the party would pick Gabbard over him. There isn’t room for multiple left outsiders, and Sanders is just more popular and has far better name recognition.

And even if he doesn’t run, it’s not obvious that his supporters would automatically pick Gabbard over another progressive.

That's bingo on my card.  I'll wish Tulsi good luck but she won't be my second choice, or third, or ...

Still to come: Senators Kamala (pronounced like 'Pamela'), Kirsten, Amy, and one for the boys next week, Sherrod Brown.  For now enjoy this 'top ten' by Mehdi Hasan of the Intercept, which is kind of a joke and kind of truth at the same time.


I'm not counting on Oprah, or her pal Marianne Williamson (who'd be better off running Green) as being serious contenders.  Nevertheless, MW has "something" scheduled for the end of this month.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas so-called Progressive Alliance had a very busy week watching the Lege get open for business again, a handful of Democratic presidential announcements and developments, and the usual mix of of issues, developments, and opinions inviting our comment.

Early voting begins today in two special elections for vacancies in the Texas House of Representatives.  There are eight candidates who have filed in HD-145 (Houston), including Democrats Melissa Noriega -- an Alliance favorite -- Christina Morales, and Republican Martha Fierro, and three in HD-79 (El Paso), including Democrats Art Fierro (no relation), Michiel Noe, and Republican Hans Sassenfeld.  More from TXElects, including this:

Morales’s campaign team includes consultants Marc Campos and Jaime Mercado, who helped guide Alvarado’s outright special election victory last month.

As the Texas Legislature began its 86th session, Lite Guvnuh Dan Patrick was nowhere in sight, having been summoned to Washington by Trump in advance of the president's dog and pony show at the southern border.  Upon returning to work he declared that the country didn't need a border wall that ran the full length of the Rio Grande, and that he told Trump to give Texas the money and the state would build it.


As if things couldn't get more stupid and venal, Ken Paxton joined a roundtable with John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and promptly lied his ass off.


And in a weird "watch me top this" lying game with Trump that reminded some of Vietnam, Patrick declared a belated victory in the 2017 session's bathroom wars.  Off the Kuff congratulated him.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer sees Trump and Patrick as a match made in heaven.

In a long-overdue and welcomed development, the state Preservation Board (comprised of Patrick, Governor Abbott, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, one state senator, one Texas House member, and one citizen) voted unanimously to remove a plaque in the Capitol which lied about the cause of both the Confederacy and the Civil War.


The Texas Lege has a brand-new LGBT caucus, thanks to Reps. (from l.to r.) Celia Israel, Mary Gonzalez, Erin Zwiener, Jessica Gonzalez and Julie Johnson.

Raise your mug for Texas' craft breweries; they scored a win on opening day.


Grits for Breakfast gave the Lege a to-do list for criminal justice reform.  And in two round-ups of other CJ developments included the news that the new Harris County misdemeanor judges have dropped the appeal of the bail lawsuit their predecessors fought, and linked to The Appeal about the fallacy of "failure to appear".


Democrats deciding to run and thinking about running for president had a full week.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs went long and link-heavy on 2020 Democratic developments on Thursday, then updated that on Saturday.

In an expected declaration in San Antonio on Saturday morning, Julián Castro (don't forget the accent mark) made his bid official.


In a surprise announcement Friday night on CNN's Van Jones program, Tulsi Gabbard said she would form an exploratory committee and make a formal announcement "within the next week".  And while Bernie Sanders is still deciding whether to get in the race for the Dem nom, his supporters held more than 400 house parties across the country on Saturday afternoon urging him to do so.

All of this added to the speculation that had the supporters of Beto O'Rourke asking: "What are you waiting for, dude?"

O'Rourke barged into last year's Senate race almost laughably early, in March 2017, insisting he was a credible contender against the incumbent, Republican Ted Cruz, when almost no one nationally knew of O'Rourke.

Now he's doing almost anything to keep people paying attention to him without formally starting a presidential campaign for 2020. He's not expected to decide until next month at the earliest whether he's running.

These days, that counts as playing hard to get. Influential activists in Iowa and elsewhere are clamoring for him to get in the race while some potential rivals move their timelines earlier. So far, interest in O'Rourke has held after his near upset of Cruz, but for how much longer?

SocraticGadfly saw the names already making 2020 presidential announcements, along with the speculation about many others, and offered his initial oddsmaking take on Democratic candidates along with other assessment.

As the confirmation hearings for attorney-general designate William Barr get set to begin tomorrow, Texans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will help him run the gauntlet of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee seeking to draw attention to themselves and their 2020 presidential aspirations.  Watch Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and to a lesser extent Amy Klobuchar for signs as to whether Barr will have a rough time getting confirmed.  (The Senate's Republican numbers are in his favor, never mind the likes of Joe Manchin.)

Media news was huge and ominous: The Dallas Morning News laid off 43 employees, 20 in the newsroom, including some longtime journalists.

“Arts and entertainment sustained the heaviest cuts, among them Chris Vognar, who’d been a critic at the paper for 23 years; Dawn Burkes, a longtime entertainment writer and editor; Sara Frederick Burgos, editor for Guide; and Kelly Dearmore, who was hired as a part-time music critic in 2016,” wrote Teresa Gubbins in her dispatch at CultureMap Dallas. “News staffers include Jeff Mosier, an environment & energy writer; Tasha Tsiaperas, a sharp metro reporter; and Dianne Solis, who wrote about immigration. Longtime photographer Louis deLuca was also let go.”

[...]

The story attributed the need to a decline in print revenue from advertising, which has been bigger than the drop in circulation revenue. The company says it is focusing on digital subscriptions. A.H. Belo is a publicly traded company, and its fourth-quarter financial reports are due soon. Revenue declined nearly 19 percent in the first three quarters of 2018, and the company’s loss jumped to $5.58 million from $2.66 million the prior year.

As word got out, some began to dissect the latest travails of Dallas’ daily paper. One pointed out a recent stock buy by the hedge fund Minerva, while Matt Pierce, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, pointed out that corporate leadership had gotten “some nice raises in recent years.

More from D Magazine.

Talking Biz News reports the News will no longer run a standalone print business section, with the exception of its Sunday edition. Business coverage will otherwise fold into Metro. Further details to be announced in a DMN column on Wednesday, says TBN.

Texas Monthly named veteran journalist Dan Goodgame as its new editor-in-chief, and scored an interview with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on the band's 50th anniversary.


A few days after New Year’s, Gibbons left Austin for Houston to join bandmates Dusty Hill and Frank Beard to rehearse for the band’s first-ever residency in Las Vegas—an eight-show series at The Venetian that runs through early February. The Vegas gigs are the first real acknowledgment of the band’s 50th anniversary for 2019. Indeed, short of the first few singles and tours, it’s been what Gibbons describes as the “same three guys, same three chords” for a half-century.

“Someone asked recently, ‘How did you three guys manage to stay together for longer than most marriages?’” Gibbons says. “Two words come to mind: separate buses. It’s made it all go all right. It’s a good team.”

Stace at Dos Centavos started the New Year off busy, providing context to the recent prison release of La Raza Unida Party's Ramsey Mu├▒iz, reviewing the new Little Joe video San Antonio, posting twice about the border boondoggle, and again regarding a Houston city council candidate's 2019 campaign.  He also got his endorsement of Juli├ín Castro out of the way early ('mano, you forgot the accent mark):

As attacks on Julian Castro will escalate, we will be hearing more about other 2020 prospects. Whether it’s Kamala Harris’ jailing of poor moms because of their kid’s truancy; Klobuchar’s selling out on border wall; Joe Biden being, well,  Joe Biden; and the list will go on, Democrats will get to choose among candidates who have some bad marks. I just want to say ahead of time that criticism should not be thrown only at Julian Castro.

Texas Leftist finally closed up shop at the blog and invites his fans to listen to his Ingressive Voices Podcast.

David Collins sees Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shaking up Washington in the best possible way: driving Republicans insane and making establishment Democrats mad.

Wayne Dolcefino filed another complaint against Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, alleging non-disclosure of public records.

Tarrant County's GOP vice-chairman survived getting removed from his post by the party because he is Muslim, accounts Texas Standard.  However, as John Coby at Bay Area Houston laughed, this means that the Republicans in one of Texas' largest cities are only 25% religious bigots.

State Representative Erin Zwiener has a guest column for the Texas Observer, asking us to take sexual misconduct seriously.

Pages of Victory blogged about two walls, one at the border and the one that keeps men from treating women as equal people and partners.

Miao Zhang, a junior at Rice University and recent intern with Public Citizen, guest-blogged at Texas Vox about metal recycling in Houston's Fifth Ward.

The financial plight of the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon -- the best little museum in the state, according to the Texas Observer -- is perilous.

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly sees that Marfa is now famous enough to be mocked by The Simpsons.


Last, after CBS Sunday Morning featured the Green Book, a directory of African American-friendly businesses for black travelers in the Jim Crow era (that spawned the hit movie of the same name)...

"It was after the Depression, before the war, when the auto culture was really burgeoning, and there were more jobs for black people," said cultural historian Candacy Taylor, whose book about "The Green Book" will be published this fall. "By the '40s, the second wave of the Great Migration was underway, and so you had 1.5 million black people leaving the South during that time."

At risk if they owned nice cars. Taylor told the story of her stepfather's family being stopped and relying on a tried-and-true subterfuge for avoiding trouble: "His dad worked for the railroad, had a good job. And his mother was sitting in the front seat. So, the sheriff comes to the door and says, you know, 'Who's this car? Where are you going? Who are these people with you?' And his father says, you know, 'This is my employer's car.' And he looked to his wife. And he said, 'And she's the maid. And this is her son.'

"And then the next question was, 'Well. where's your hat?' Meaning the chauffeur's hat. And he said, 'It's hanging right in the back, officer.'"

Essentials for driving in and out of the Jim Crow South: A chauffeur's hat, and the Green Book. "The 'Green Book' was like a Bible. You did not leave home without it," said Alice Clay Broadwater, who was a teacher traveling with her lawyer-husband and small children between Boston and the South. She relied on the book.

"Black travelers in those days, in the '50s, had to carry the Green Book if they needed to stay overnight someplace, or if they wanted to know where they could eat," Broadwater said.

... Swamplot gathered the Tweets from Urban Edge's Leah Binkovitz and the piece by the Chron's Craig Hlavaty that featured the diners, motels, and more that were listed in Houston.