Thursday, October 18, 2018

On the whole I'd rather

... watch an Astros-Brewers World Series but I don't think that's going to happen.

[Long sidebar: When Jim Crane purchased the Houston franchise from Drayton McLane in 2011, he not only paid an inflated price (among other reasons, for reneging on a 2008 handshake deal to buy the team) and a small -- comparatively -- penalty to settle a racial discrimination case against his trucking company, he also had to agree to switch leagues with Bud Selig's franchise ... the Brew Crew.  Crane had already missed on buying the Texas Rangers in 2010 despite being the apparent high bidder because Bud didn't like him.  You can read about all of this here, except for the NL-AL flip-flop part, which you can find at Crane's Wiki page.  It says (original link there is dead) McLane had agreed with Selig to do this before selling, but Crane wrangled $35 million back from Uncle Drayton and the league -- presumably the other owners -- to hold to that arrangement.

One more thing: Crane sued McLane a few years later because Comcast couldn't sign up cable and satellite carriers for the fees they wanted to charge for the games.  This was during the bad years, when the 'Stros lost 100 games in three consecutive seasons.  How the lawsuit eventually worked out is of little consequence -- just another quarrel over a few million dollars between two billionaires, after all -- but Comcast's sports network for Astros and Rockets games eventually went defunct and was replaced by ATT.  The team improved, people wanted to watch again, the rest is history.

So a Houston-Milwaukee Fall Classic would contain some elements of retribution -- or poetic justice if you prefer -- for the winner and the loser.]

I'm not as mad about the blown Joe West/Altuve home run call as everybody else is.  That's a hard one to get right in real time.  Slow motion replay showed, to me, that Mookie closed his own glove before the ball got there (pick it up at 0:25); no fan interference.  Even if West gets it right the first time or it gets overturned, and all else being equal from there, Benintendi's bottom-of-the-9th grab sends the game into extras.  Point being: teams of destiny seem to get the breaks like that, as well as diving catches with the bases loaded for the final out, and the other stuff.

Verlander tonight, hopefully back to Boston with Gerrit Cole, who looked a little intimidated last time in Fenway, and then Keuchel, who's been no great shakes all season, but if it even gets to seven I'd be shocked.  As for the Dodgers, they will have Kershaw again in a seventh game should that be necessary, which I doubt.

Dodgers-Red Sox, the networks are thrilled.  Kenley Jansen wears tighty whities.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Whataburger defeats White Castle in split decision

It was a close contest all night, as both men spoke rapidly, sweated profusely (Ted guzzled more water than Brett Kavanaugh), and lashed at each other like a couple of guys with bullwhips.

Yes, Beto brought the boxing gloves, although there were only a few knockdown punches thrown by the challenger.  Ted's smirks, snorts, and chortles were his defense.  This review summarizes the conservative POV as well as any I found: accurate in its description of Cruz's obnoxious condescension, amiss in its interpretation of how the Cuban Canadian's authoritarian demeanor goes over with anyone not a MAGAt.

Just consider the stunning hypocrisy of the Zodiac Killer's close.

Also painfully unaware of the studio's lighting away from his podium.

Yes, Ted Cruz is as tough as Texas a stale bag of shitty out-of-state hamburgers.  A man who eats his own boogers (when he's not eating Trump's ass, that is) but who cannot stand the taste of avocados is simply not someone to be trusted on his culinary decisions, to say nothing of his judicial or legislative ones.  We have nevertheless been blessed by Jeebus with all three of these wisdoms for the past six years, and if that's not enough to convince you that there is no God, you aren't open to persuasion.

When the local Fox affiliate loses you, you've lost.

I simply don't have confidence -- as many of you are already aware -- that Beto will represent my interests often enough to give him my vote.  I just can't bear to watch him be more Joe Manchin than Bernie Sanders should he make it to Washington.  For many of you reading this, he's good enough, so good on ya.  Like most of our options this election year, "not the GOP" comes up aces more often than not.  We're all going to make as best of the situation as we can.

Last night a poll revealed the numbers may be tightening back up, so that development bears watching.  Here's some related reading.

#TexasDebate: Three key moments (Vox)

Scott Braddock at QR: Beto learns to make a fist

TexTrib: O'Rourke swings harder

With respect to tomorrow night, two updates about whether it will be Beto-only or that Cruz will join.  From RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly (first link, top) with the CNN Tweet embedded (via Patrick Svitek at the TexTrib).

This likely was the final debate between Cruz and O’Rourke. CNN is hosting O’Rourke to a town hall in McAllen on Thursday. Cruz turned down the offer of one of his own, but asked Tuesday if the Thursday event could be converted into another debate. CNN officials said the network would agree if O’Rourke would. Since Cruz at the close of this debate referred to it as their last, that does not appear to have worked itself out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"The biggest stadium in Texas we can find"

As big as his hands.

Not only is the arena Trump picked not the biggest in the state, as he promised, but it’s not even the largest in the neighborhood. Nearby NRG Stadium – different from NRG Arena – holds tens of thousands of people.

As the Dallas News pointed out, “At least one venue in Texas holds more than 180,000 and NRG Arena isn’t even the biggest venue in Houston, let alone in Texas.”

But it is the biggest one they could find.  Allegedly there's something like 50 high school football stadiums in the Lone Star State that can seat 8,000, so settling for the place where the Houston Rodeo holds a horse competition is probably due to the fact that Poop just isn't very familiar with Texas, as Texans already knew.  Sometimes it's hard to believe Trump called Cruz "Lyin' Ted" because Ted wasn't smart enough to nickname Trump that first, isn't it?

Ashton Woods has a terrific idea for you disruptors out there.

(Don't use your real name.  Trump is having peaceful protestors arrested, you know.  Has been since his inauguration.  So be careful out there.)

Whataburger vs. White Castle tonight

In San Antonio, or on your teevee (or laptop, or tablet, or cellphone).

This was to be the third debate in the closely watched race, but the second debate, scheduled for Sept. 30 in Houston, was canceled because of Cruz's participation in the Senate's confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. While the first debate in Dallas was focused on domestic policy, this one is expected to cover domestic and foreign policy.

All the same advice I gave Beto for Thursday night's CNN townhall solo (so far) applies to this evening's debate.  Whether he takes my advice or not, for the sake of Texas Democratic fortunes down the ballot and across the Lone Star, let's hope he has upped hs game.  This is still too weak, IMO, to cut the mustard.  Don't bring a pillow to a gunfight, Bob.

W/r/t Thursday night ... this message is approved (and maybe even paid for) by Ted Cruz.

In what he is calling the largest single campaign complaint in history, Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Neal Dikeman is alleging that a planned town hall meeting by CNN amounts to an illegal $10 million in-kind campaign contribution to Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

Dikeman filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on the heels of news last week that O’Rourke shattered fundraising records with a $38.1 million take in the final quarter before the November 6 election. Dikeman alleges in his complaint that a town hall scheduled for Thursday in McAllen violates federal election law because it will give O’Rourke an hour-long prime time forum worth millions of advertising dollars.

“Politics should not be about money, and corporations should not be funding politicians,” Dikeman said in a prepared statement. “Particularly in this race as Congressman O’Rourke is running fundraising campaigns touting his exclusion of special interest money. Excluding a Libertarian nominee from the debates because you think I’ll take more votes from you than the other guy is one thing, politics is politics. But violating campaign finance laws, especially on this scale is much bigger than that. The scope of this violation should give every American pause.”

Neither the O’Rourke or Cruz campaigns responded to a Texas Monthly request for comment.

That's one way to get the publicity you seek.

Third-party nominees being left out of the conversation is, as everyone already knows, a chronic condition in our so-called democracy.  Just can't have the duopoly questioned, challenged, or so much as casually intimidated.  Texas is one of the worst states in the Union at this shitty disenfranchisement game.  Texas Democrats, with a helpful assist from the TXGOP in the state Lege via the Election Code, are the primary reason you don't have any Texas Greens on your ballot this season.  But the corporate media, which is making millions upon millions of dollars in advertising revenue this autumn -- at a time when they cannot lose or squander so much as a dime -- is the two-party systems' partner in these electoral crimes.  If you'd like to suggest some other reasons for the traditional electoral blackout of any party other than the two that can afford wall-to-wall television advertising, I'll advance your premise here or feature it in a follow-up post (your choice).  Because try as I might, I have not been able to come up with any good ones myself.

So best of luck to Mr. Dikeman in his legal challenge.  I suspect it may become moot, as I'm betting Poop Cruz winds up on stage in McAllen Thursday night with Beto and Dana Bash.

Somebody order a bag of White Castles delivered to the debate hall, please?

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

As Pages of Victory noted last Thursday, his mail ballot is already in the can, no doubt alongside thousands of others across the state.  That's right; many Texans are voting at this moment, and the rest of us still have to wait one more week before we can cast an early ballot in person.  The Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly roundup of lefty blog posts and news collects the final arguments from the candidates -- and the opinions from the poiliticos -- as the end of the 2018 midterm cycle draws near.  You'll still have to look at Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott way too much on your teevee, unless you're better than Quick Draw McGraw with your remote than he was with his gun.

The McAllen Monitor caught up with Beto O'Rourke as he made his latest swing through the RGV, this trip with Rep. Joe Kennedy III, which prompted a predictably shitty joke from Ted Cruz.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had some unsolicited advice for O'Rourke on how he should be counter-punching the Zodiac Killer.

The San Antonio Express News joined the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News in endorsing Kim Olson for Agriculture Commissioner over the incumbent, Sid Miller.  (This is a low bar, considering Miller is hot garbage as both elected official and human being.)

DNC chief Tom Perez comes to Houston this afternoon for a schedule of events.

Stace at Dos Centavos was at the GOTV rally/concert with Little Joe y La Familia, hosted by Sylvia Garcia and attended by Lupe Valdez, Lina Hidalgo, Adrian Garcia, a throng of other Harris County candidates and electeds and about 200 voters and activists.  (Photo slideshow at the link.)

Progrexas links to Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib for his ten hottest state races.

After the clusterf in Waller County last week regarding voter registrations and an arrest of Mike Siegel's campaign employee for complaining about it, everything turned out well in the end.

The debate between John Culberson and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, originally slated for this evening, has been rescheduled for October 21 -- the night before early voting begins.

NYT's Upshot poll is back in the field surveying TX-23 (Will Hurd vs. Gina Ortiz Jones) and the early results are predicting a walk-off for the Republican incumbent.

After a two-week hiatus, Off the Kuff comes back to the Wrangle with a pair of interviews: Attorney General candidate Justin Nelson and Harris County Judge candidate Lina Hidalgo.

SocraticGadfly was at an education-related campaign forum for a group of statewide and Northeast Texas regional candidates and offers a few takes.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer sees that with Dwain Caraway off to prison, the Dallas City Council is once again up for sale to the highest bidder.

Texas Vox blogged about the shocking news from the International Panel on Climate Change.  The Texas Tribune's collaboration with ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, and others was a long and disturbing read about the Permian Basin's contributions to the problem.  And the Houston Chronicle's piece about surging wind power generation forcing coal plants in Texas to close is a bright spot among the dark clouds.

Grits for Breakfast collated criminal justice developments for the week and led with the story from Huntsville about a prison guard who murdered a handcuffed inmate.  The correctional officer has been charged only with aggravated assault to this point.

The (guard) had been ordered by a supervisor to stay away from the inmate after a confrontation earlier in the day, but he allegedly violated orders, took the inmate into an empty shower area, and beat him to death.

Five death row exonerees will speak at this Saturday's March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin, reports the Texas Moratorium Network.

David Collins wrote about Facebook and Twitter's censoring of progressive and anti-war websites.

Harry Hamid blogged about what he did on his summer vacation.

The San Antonio Current saluted Texas sorta-legend Joe Bob Briggs.

Finally, the TPA wishes Texas Leftist all the best as it transitions from blogging to podcasting.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

38 million bucks, 50 million yard signs, 9 points behind

And here comes the Zodiac Killer to finish him off.

As you may be reading and hearing from the chattering consultant class, Beto is going to have to start punching back.

Harold Cook, a Democratic strategist in Texas, said the reality at the moment is that "two candidates are defining Beto, and only one candidate is defining Cruz." He said O'Rourke is "going to have to present a compelling reason why voters should fire their incumbent."

"Against a candidate like Cruz, I don't think it's even that tough and it doesn't take that long," he said, pointing out that Cruz's hardline approach has rankled some Texans. "But it's time to do it."

Miller, the GOP consultant, agreed that "if you want to bring Ted Cruz back to Earth, you're going to have to go after him."

He said he didn't know if that tactic would ultimately succeed, given that time is starting to run short to make a real difference. But he made clear that if O'Rourke doesn't put his money into a "real aggressive, kind of mean campaign," then the "race is lost."

More from Cook, who's been grifting off Texas Democratic politics for so many years that he certainly understands what losing entails.  So he's credible here.

O’Rourke in campaign appearance after campaign appearance and in interview after interview since entering the race in March 2017 has said repeatedly “I’m not running against anyone” as a way of telling voters he prefers the high road.

But it also reinforces an image that Texas Democrats of the past two decades can’t seem to shake: They seem to prefer losing honorably to getting their hands soiled in a winning effort.


Here's a little unsolicited advice that goes beyond what Richard Linklater and Antonio Arellano,, have already been doing on your behalf, Beto.

-- Re-invite Cruz to the CNN townhall debate next Thursday before he bullies his way in.  Have some boxing gloves ready to put on; circle his podium in a shadowbox-punch routine.  Or challenge the pudgy Cuban to a 5k run after the debate.

"How about a guacamole eating contest for all the marbles, Ted?"

-- Educate this dumbshit Republican on the differences between communism, socialism, democratic socialism, and social democracy.  Remind Poop that you're a Blue Dog, which is why all the actual socialists in Texas aren't voting for you.  (I'm not a legitimate socialist myself; more of a social democrat, and for that matter, a lousy Democrat and kind of anti-social these days.  These labels are hard; it's no wonder Cruz and his home-schooled ilk can't get them correct.)

-- Raffy, like Trump, has a seriously bad addiction to hypocrisy and prevarication.  A quality oppo research effort should be able to produce  -- should already have produced -- reams of examples to throw in his face next Thursday.

Start there, Bob, and hurry up.  I hope somebody who reads this blog uses the 'email post' link at the bottom and sends this to the campaign.  Sort of like Kuff, they have chosen to completely ignore me over the course of the past year; can't imagine why.  Maybe it's time for a new strategery, fellas.  Who knows?  If you take my advice for once I might even be able to vote for ya.

Friday, October 12, 2018

GOTV postpourri

And just like that *snaps fingers* the campaigns re-focus for the sprint to the finish.

-- Besides the now-tentative TX07 debate on Monday (take note of the update) and the Beto-only CNN townhall next Thursday, there's a few more things going on in H-Town that merit comment.  First, Senator Sylvia -- soon to be Representative Sylvia -- does her part to get out the Latin@vote tomorrow.

(Click the image for a clear view; go here to RSVP for free)

Consistent readers of Brains will remember that I have written on a handful of occasions that 2018 should be a no-excuses year for Latino/a turnout.  And at least one of the times I blogged that was when the Trump administration had already declared war on immigrants, acting essentially as if all people of slightly brown pigmentation were an enemy of the state, and started sending them out of the country, whether they were legal citizens or not.

So there are circumstances under which historically low Latin@ turnout, due to the terrorism of the neo-Nazis currently in charge in Washington -- to say nothing (yet) of their junior partners in Waller County -- can be excused.

But I still don't think Stace's excuse is a good one.

And that shouldn't be interpreted as reneging on the advice that I gave everybody back here.

The simple fact, as reported now in repetitive fashion in corporate media and non-, in the mainstream and out, is that Latinxs probably cannot be turned out to vote in numbers that can sway elections in favor of Democrats.  Certainly some local elections in some states, but what these articles are telling me is that it is time to stop beating this semi-dead horse.  (No offense to the hard work of the excellent young folks of Jolt.)

There is ample evidence in Texas that it is a pretty red horse, anyway.

-- We have been reading for some time now that Beto O'Rourke's fate lies in the hands of these intractable non-voting, mostly RGV-dwelling brown voters.  But so does that of Gina Ortiz Jones, a little further up the Rio Grande along the Big Bend, and it appears she will suffer the same fate as Pete Gallegos did in SD-19's special election last month.

Yes, seemingly everybody except Charles Kuffner understands that it's not just a Latin@ problem ... it's a Texas Democratic Party problem.

-- On the bright side for Team Donkey, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett became the latest moderate (sic) Republican to endorse Democratic lieutenant governor challenger Mike Collier.  He did so in his interview with the Houston Chronicle op-ed board, which endorsed him.  I can't believe I'm agreeing with Campos; their comments are condescending and offensive.

Vote for Collier if you choose -- I cannot -- and vote for Lina Hidalgo over Emmett.  Still wondering if any of those local Republicans incensed at the incumbent over the Astrodome will betray him.

With respect to the Chronicle's endorsements generally ... disregard.  Yes, blind hogs find acorns like Diane Trautman, and you should be voting for Dem judges without me telling you to or them not.

For example, they endorsed James Horwitz's GOP opponent in the Harris County Probate Court #4 race, which made me laugh out loud.  I'm voting for neither in this contest; what's hilarious to me is thinking about how mad this must have made little Noah, who marks himself as making some progress in not voting for any Republicans this year (LMAO).

Note: If the Chronic has cut you off from seeing these articles by trying to force you to buy a subscription, I apologize.  Let me know in the comments if that's the case.

-- Finally, guess who's coming to town Tuesday.

  • Rockstar Activist: 1 Ticket, Cash Bar and Lite Bites
  • Phone Bank Captain: 1 Ticket, VIP Reception With Open Bar and Lite Bites
  • Block Walk Organizer: 2 Tickets, VIP Reception With Open Bar and Private Dinner Reception with Mr. Avenatti

That's $250, $500, and $2500 respectively, in case you were interested.

I sorta doubt whether any of the attendees are going to mention that there are some Democrats who hold him responsible for the Kavanaugh Comeback, and the subsequent Kavanaugh Bump in Republican enthusiasm that recent polling appears to reflect.

Brandon Rottinghaus, political science professor at the University of Houston, says the Kavanaugh confirmation fight has probably hardened the already deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans.

“That hardening is really translating into what we see in the Senate race in particular,” Rottinghaus says. “I think that right now, Ted Cruz has got a slight lead, and the likelihood is that’s going to continue.”

This has led to both RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly and Justin Miller at the Texas Observer performing Beto's last rites yesterday (something this reporter did on Monday).

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

We have debates

-- Cumbersome versus LPF, as a warm-up to MNF.

GOP incumbent John Culberson and Democratic challenger Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, candidates for Houston's 7th Congressional District, will debate on Monday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at the University of Houston's Student Center Theatre.

The race has escalated into a slew of personal attacks over health care issues, a potentially decisive issue in the race. The Cook Political Report considers the race a toss-up. The event will be streamed online at and Univision.

#TeamLizzie is hosting a couple of far west side potluck watch parties.

Update: Culberson's been in the hospital so this debate might not happen.

-- Beto versus ... Not-Tough-Enough-to-Show-Up Ted Cruz.

The still-ongoing NYT poll gives the Zodiac Killer an eight-point lead.  Sometimes it's difficult to comprehend how so many Texans can be so willfully ignorant about something so obvious as the glaring fraud that is Cruz.

-- A week ago, HPN covered a debate between TX02 challengers Todd Litton and Dan Crenshaw which occurred the week before that.  In this excerpt, you'd be somewhat hard-pressed to tell which one was the Democrat and which one the Republican.  I'll just black out their names and you can check the link to see.

“Nobody seriously thinks that we’re going to put a wall across every single inch,” Xxxxxxx said. “It’s just a geographic impossibility. ... ”

“Government should be staying out of the doctor’s office,” Xxxxxxxx said. “We don’t want government in the doctor’s office telling women, or anybody, what they can and should do ...”

This district will either get redder or bluer in 2022, after the Census and depending on what the Texas Lege looks like following the presidential election.

In past cycles, such a contest in Texas’ 2nd Congressional District wouldn’t even be close. Poe regularly won reelection by double digits. But in 2018?

“It is competitive, I think,” says David Branham, a professor of political science UH-Downtown who attended the debate. “You have to do well if you’re a Republican if you expect to win. If you run poorly, I think there’s a very good chance that you could lose this district.”

The district includes wealthy, conservative suburbs in northeastern Harris County, like Kingwood. It also has more liberal Houston neighborhoods, like Montrose.

“But in that center part, where it connects in the northwest side, I think you’re going to see a lot of change in that part of the district,” Branham says. That’s because the district’s demographics are changing. Hispanic residents now make up about a third of the population, and that percentage is growing.

This is also an area hit especially hard during Harvey. Rice University political scientist Bob Stein says Litton has been aggressive in courting the votes of flood victims.

“I’ve seen some of his public meetings where he goes around telling people, ‘Have you gotten your small business loan application in? Have you gotten your FEMA money in?’ He’s sort of kind of replacing, ′cause there’s no incumbent here, what Ted Poe would normally do as a congressman,” Stein says.

Crenshaw certainly hasn’t ignored the issue of Harvey. During his debate with Litton, Crenshaw said he’d seek a seat on the House Armed Services Committee, where he could pressure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete flood infrastructure projects. But that’s not the central message of his campaign.

“The campaign has played up, ‘I’m a Republican, I support the party, and I support Donald Trump,’” Stein says. “That may be enough, but it’s not enough, I think, to kind of inspire what I will call a heavy turnout in the district.”

Even with a lower than usual turnout, Stein says Republicans probably hold the edge for now, “but nobody’s putting a lot of investment in the future. Nobody thinks this district is going to be here in 2022.”

Why? In between now and 2022 is the next census. “We’re going to get three new congressional seats in Texas, and they’re going to have to go somewhere,” Stein says.

It will most likely be Republicans who will decide where those seats go during the next round of redistricting. But in drawing safe GOP seats, they’ll still have to work around growing minority populations that are more likely to vote Democratic.

“The configurations will be to protect longer-term (Congressional) veterans,” Stein says. “If Crenshaw wins this time, he’s not high on the seniority list.” Which means that Crenshaw needs to do more than just win this November if he’s hoping to last in Congress. He needs to win big.

-- And way back before Labor Day, Joseph Kopser and Chip Roy, TX21's combatants to replace Lamar Smith, went head to head.  The Libertarian in this race is at least interesting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

PAC $$$ to Beto's rescue

And not a minute too soon.

Isn't it a good thing he said he wasn't going to accept any?

On the bright side ... couldn't the same be said of Greg Abbott?  And Dan Patrick?  And Ken Paxton?  And Sid Miller?  Every last one of these sorry sumbitches are just like Trump: a weak man's idea of what a strong man looks like.  All talk.  All hat and no cattle.

(Keep an eye on that Upshot poll going on right now.  The early numbers look grim.)

Monday, October 08, 2018

Beto's bad news

Last Friday morning at the top of this brief aggre-post, I summarized what appeared to be some dark clouds moving across the Second Coming's horizon.  Yesterday the CBS News Battleground Tracker poll revealed Cruz in the lead by six points ...

 ... and this shocker from the crosstabs, courtesy Evan Smith's Twitter feed.

Gotta say: if those numbers are not as reliable as all of the polls taken the day before Election Day 2016 (which showed Hillary Clinton winning the presidency), then your man Beto is dead in the water, Democrats.

Still, it's a little early to quit on the last best hope (no matter what Mike Collier keeps saying) for the Donks next month.  And in addition to Latinx turnout, whatever strength or weakness exists in African American votes is going to get an assist tonight from some of Houston's biggest and brightest stars on the hip-hop front.

Now that is going to be a party.

(One more thing worth noting: when it comes to winning, Republicans put aside whatever grudges they have with each other, however great or small, and focus on the end result.  If you want to understand why they keep winning and Democrats keep losing, right there is a great place to start looking.  I have never known a group of people that could cling to a grievance any harder, for a longer period of time, than liberals.)