Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said on Thursday he was resuming his campaign with a new sense of focus after a mass shooting in his Texas hometown, while rival John Hickenlooper ended his bid ...

Both men have struggled with low opinion poll numbers in the historically large field of candidates running for president in 2020, and both have faced mounting calls to run instead for competitive U.S. Senate seats in their respective states.

O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso, rejected the idea. After a gunman targeting Mexicans killed 22 people at a local Walmart store on Aug. 3, O’Rourke said he would now use his platform as a presidential candidate to highlight the plight of immigrants and confront what he characterized as Trump’s racially charged and divisive rhetoric.

“There have even been some who have said that I should stay in Texas and run for the Senate,” O’Rourke said in El Paso on Thursday. “But that would not be good enough for El Paso and that would not be good enough for this country.”

Said blogged my piece yesterday.

Hickenlooper, on the other hand, left open the possibility of a pivot to a Senate campaign. In announcing his withdrawal from the White House contest, the former Colorado governor said he would give such a run “some serious thought.”

Democrats need at least three pickups in the 100-member Senate next November to regain a majority. Party leaders know achieving their legislative agenda would be difficult without control of the upper chamber -- even if they win the White House and maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democratic strategist James Manley, previously a spokesman for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said he hoped Hickenlooper’s departure from the White House scrum would “break the dam to show what is possible” to the other candidates.

“The time for these vanity projects is long gone. Some of these folks, including Beto, have got to face reality, realize they’re not going to be president of the United States and look at alternatives,” Manley said.

Another Democratic presidential hopeful with low poll numbers, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, is also facing pressure to drop out and focus on a Senate run he is seen as having far better chance of winning.

“For those that are thinking about dropping off and moving into another race, it’s much better to do it now than ... right up against the filing deadline,” Manley added.

A source close to O’Rourke’s campaign said he believes a Senate candidate cannot win Texas without a Democratic presidential nominee who is also competitive in the state. As a Texas native and former congressman, O’Rourke thinks he would be such a nominee.

State primary polling shows Beto trailing Sundowning Joe Biden, and losing to Agolf Shitler head-to-head.  National polling, the easiest to do and the most inexact, is similarly harsh.  Beto's premise, coming to us second-hand and anonymously, suggests a Democrat -- him -- might actually win Texas (extending "competitive" out on a limb).

About all I can buy of this today is that Beto as somebody's veep turns a lot of the Lone Star blue, but not our Electoral College.  The Senate contest might stand alone, or it might be part of huge tidal wave.  And things will always change.  Let's give him credit for what's going to be his Bobby Kennedy impersonation.

His campaign restart will take him on Friday to Mississippi to spend time in a state where roughly 680 food-processing workers were arrested in immigration raids last week. He will then head to Arkansas.

O’Rourke told reporters he would still campaign in traditional early-voting states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. But he said he could not return to the “corn dogs and Ferris wheels” at traditional campaign events such as the Iowa State Fair, which he skipped after the massacre, given the serious issues facing the country.

“To those places where Donald Trump has been terrorizing and terrifying and demeaning our fellow Americans, that’s where you will find me on this campaign,” O’Rourke said in the speech in El Paso.

Moving on ...

"MSM smears Sanders for saying MSM smears Sanders"

“Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?” Bernie Sanders asked the crowd.

“Nothing!” the crowd answered back.

“See, and I talk about that all of the time, and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why,” Sanders said.

The reaction has been swift and furious. Outlets ranging from NPR to CNN to Fox News have claimed that Sanders’ comments are “Trump-like” and “echoing Trump”. CNN’s segment on the story insinuated multiple times that there is no evidence for Sanders’ claims of biased coverage by WaPo.

“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians -- of every ideology -- who complain about their coverage,” reads a statement by WaPo Executive Editor Marty Baron. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

Lots more there, if you can handle the truth.  If you can't, too bad.

If you're one of those Democrats who loves Rachel Maddow, thinks everything bad is ultimately the Russians' fault, declares you're voting #BlueNoMatterPoo ... you're the Resistance, and what you hate on your left is the Revolution.  You probably think Bernie's a grumpy old man who yells all the time, is too socialist to get elected, can't see yourself voting for him despite your  #VBNMW harping ...

At the extreme, you despise him and all who support him, think we're the same Russian bots as Trump's minions, get just as teeth-grindingly angry when you see him on your teevee as you do President Vulgar Yam.  So you're probably unconvinced that the corporate media has it in for him.

No matter.  As he did four years ago with fundraising, he's changing the game again.  That's the thing about change; it doesn't care whether you like it or even acknowledge it.  It happens just the same; with you, or to you.  By the time some people realize the tide has come in, their shelter is flooded and their fire is out, while the smart ones are catching fish for supper.

Maybe they'll share a bite with you if you're sociable.

Some additional points:

-- No change from the last Update in the number of qualifying debaters here in Our Fair City in just a few short weeks.  One week ago, in the polling wake of the Detroit debate:

Jonathan Bernstein: “On the surface, the main development was a slump for Kamala Harris, who has now dropped back to fourth place in the polls. But I’ll stick with what I said going in: Harris, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren didn’t really have much at stake in this round of debates. None of them had much to gain or lose from a modest shift in the polls. They’ll all be around for months, and will probably compete seriously in Iowa. And if Harris had to have a bad debate, this was probably the time to do it; she can learn from the experience and do better when more voters are paying attention.”

“The candidates with the most at stake were those who were in grave danger of failing to qualify for the September debates but might have still have had a realistic chance if they did well. None of them came close to doing what they needed to do. Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee? None of them is any closer to qualifying, and that may mean the end of the road for them.”

Major Gabbard is in Indonesia for a couple of weeks, doing her National Guard duty.

Tom Steyer has almost bought his way in, but he still needs one more poll.

-- This is where we are with the leader of the pack.

What is there to say?

-- There's about fifteen more links to other candidates news I could have included, but these posts are tl;dr already, to say nothing about having to eventually include Pres. Trumplethinskin.  So I'll stop here, and may add updates later.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

How many Democrats are running against Cornyn?

Is it five?  Is it "at least seven"?  Is it eight, as the Tweeter below has repeatedly pointed out?

Or is it nine?  That's also how many Ballotpedia has.

... former Congressman Chris Bell, Pastor Michael Cooper, Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards, failed judicial candidate Jack Daniel Foster, Jr., failed congressional candidate MJ Hegar, Berniecrat Sema Hernandez, failed gubernatorial candidate Adrian Ocegueda, civil right activist Christina Ramierez (sic) and state Senator Royce West ...

I believe the point would be that none of them -- however many you choose to believe exist -- are named Beto O'Rourke.  Nor will be, if you simply take his word for it.

A few more corrections:

Howie Klein (he's the blogger known as DWT) might have pointed out that Bell is also a failed gubernatorial, Congressional, state senatorial, and mayoral candidate who endorsed the Republican, Bill King, over Sylvester Turner in the 2015 runoff.  I should know.

Klein does have a lot of issues with spelling, grammar, logic, and knowledge of the situation here, as Gadfly has already pointed out in the comments there, though someone he references as Nancy -- presumably not Pelosi -- being the "worst brain-lacker" could have been more coherent, particularly for someone whose job title includes the word 'editor'.  But Howie can at least count higher than five, and he does not have a degree in mathematics, which means he doesn't have a blind spot the size of his ass or the color of what comes out of it.  (Klein may or may not have an issue with parentheses.)

Seriously.  You think it might be racial?  Or is it just about the money?

Cooper also fell short in his bid for D lite governor two years ago.  And Hernandez, with less than $5,000 raised, earned nearly 25% in the last US Senate primary against ... you know who.

A few more disclosures:

Hegar, the early money leader, was exposed as a GOP voter in the 2016 primary and a supporter of Libertarian causes and their presidential candidate that year, Gary Johnson.  As best as I can tell, this escaped notice during her near-miss for Congress in 2018.  Hegar is by far the most conservative candidate in the race: no on M4A, no on GND, come and try to take my guns, etc.  I truly hope we have seen the last of these DINOsaurs in the Texas Democratic primary after 2020.

Edwards is flush with consultant-speak, particularly on healthcare.  She and West both advocate for expanding the ACA, not Medicare for All.  If I were moderating a debate with either of them standing before me, my question would be: "What are your plans for healthcare if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare next summer?"

Tzintzún Ramirez has become the most intriguing candidate to state media of late, as she has hired several of the folks that worked on O'Rourke's landmark run against Ted Cruz.  This would be everybody's final clue that it's Democratic presidential nomination-or-bust for Beto.  More importantly, Tzintzún Ramirez appears to be coat-tailing Democratic progressive Elizabeth Warren, a candidate whom establishment Donkeys and teevee talking heads love much more than the real deal, as has also become obvious this week.  More about this point of contention in tomorrow's 2020 Update.

I think everybody knows where I stand in this race.

If you're going to be in or around the Metroplex before Labor Day weekend, you can catch five of the candidates at this forum.  (I'd be willing to bet there will be more than five in attendance by then.)

Does anyone have questions?

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has lots of juicy political news this week.

The map above illustrates why Harris County and Texas Democrats are so excited these days, and why Texas Republicans are so worried'Texodus' is happening for a variety of reasons, none more obvious than Trump fatigue among college-educated women living in the exurbs of the state's metros.  Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer connects the dots between the El Paso shooter -- who hailed from the Metroplex suburb of Allen -- and the changing demographics fueling white angst (and racism, and domestic terrorism).

Statehouse Donkeys, stealing a line from the Trump playbook, are going to use "drain the swamp" analogies against the GOP monolith in Austin.  With the Democrats filing suit against Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Empower Texas' Michael Quinn Sullivan, the controversy moved from tempest in a red teapot to the legislative committee investigation and courtroom phase.

“They are saying because (MQS and Bonnen) got together and drew up a plan to elect or not elect certain candidates, that makes them a political action committee,” (KUT's Ben) Philpott says. “That makes them an organization trying to influence an election and they did it without registering as a (PAC).”

Forrest Wilder at Texas Monthly attempts to sort it all out.

The race to stand against John Cornyn gained another entrant this morning.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a longtime workers rights advocate who launched a nonprofit that champions Latino voters, announced Monday she's running for Senate -- a move that's likely to shake up a crowded Democratic primary field that is still taking shape.

Tzintzún Ramirez, 37, plans to run as an unapologetic progressive, supporting Medicare for All, aggressive action on climate change and a “massive disinvestment” in Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She has hired organizers from Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign and has drawn the support of some of his financial backers.

All of that will likely make her a target of incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn, who has already taken to branding several of the six other Democrats vying for the party’s nomination as Elizabeth Warren-style progressives.

This development undercut a couple of Texas bloggers who begged Beto last week to abandon his presidential bid and run for the Senate.  He was quite adamant over the weekend, as he mourned victims of the El Paso Walmart massacre, that he wasn't going to be doing that.  And this blogger will continue to support the Bernie progressive in this primary.   

Kuffner, meanwhile, pooh-poohed on Emerson's recent polling of Texas races, including the presidential head-to-head matchups and the Democrats in the Senate primary.  And the Intercept revealed MJ Hegar's recent past as a Republican voter and a Libertarian supporter.

A lawsuit to protect the votes of those who use mail ballots from disqualification over the signature verification process drew attention this past week.

The Texas Civil Rights Project last week filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) on behalf of two Texas registered voters whose mail-in ballots were rejected based on mismatching signatures. The suit claims state law violates the Fourteenth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“Current rules authorize untrained local election officials to arbitrarily and subjectively reject mail-in ballots if officials believe, based on their own layman analysis, that the signature on a ballot is not in fact the voter’s signature,” the suit alleges. “No advance notice is given to voters before their vote in rejected, and the decision to reject a mail-in ballot is final.”

The suit claims nearly 2K mail-in ballots were rejected during the 2018 general election based on local election officials’ determinations that the signatures did not match. The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and League of Women Voters of Texas, among others, joined the suit.

More from HuffPo.

As part of their review of mail-in ballots, local election officials can set up a committee to review the signatures on them. The committee members, in turn, compare the signature on a mail-in ballot with the one on the ballot application to try to ensure it came from the same person. These officials also can compare the signature on the ballot with at least two signatures on file from the prior six years.

If the ballot is rejected, local officials don’t have to notify the voter until 10 days after Election Day that their vote wasn’t counted.

In their complaint, lawyers for the plaintiffs noted that the Texas election code outlines no process those officials, who aren’t handwriting experts, are supposed to follow in comparing signatures.

The state relies “on untrained officials to ‘eye-ball’ a signature, leaving the sacred right to vote up to chance,” said Hani Mirza, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project who is helping represent the plaintiffs. “It’s time that we modernize this process and ensure that not one single Texan has their ballot thrown out for arbitrary reasons.”

In Harris County, that committee is called the Ballot Board, and its members do precisely what is described above.  This blogger performed the duties of Ballot Board Election Judge -- one of approximately thirty, appointed by the chairs of the political parties -- in 2013 and 2014.

Greg Abbott gets to fill another vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court, and everyone is hoping he won't select another white man.

Currently there are just two women on the state’s highest civil court, the same as the number of justices named Jeffrey B.

That makeup could shift, if marginally, after last week, when one of those Jeffs -- Justice Jeff Brown -- was confirmed as a federal district judge in Galveston. That will give Gov. Greg Abbott, himself a former judge on the high court, his third opportunity to appoint a judge to the state’s highest civil court. His first two picks were Justices Jimmy Blacklock and Brett Busby, both white men.

As attention nationwide turns increasingly to inclusivity and representation in the highest branches of government, the Texas Supreme Court has actually become less diverse over the last decade.

Advocates and former judges are looking to this vacancy with hope that that will change; many in Texas’ legal circles were quietly surprised that Abbott didn’t choose a woman or a person of color for either of his appointments so far. Appointments are a powerful tool for addressing disparities in the court’s makeup and elevating diverse voices in a field that remains largely white and male.

The high court is “not just a little unbalanced, it’s a lot unbalanced,” said former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Elsa Alcala, who was the only Latina justice on the state’s highest court for criminal matters until she left the court last year.

G. Elliott Morris looks at one of the battle lines for 2020: immigration.

Gus Bova at the Texas Observer reported on the kidnapping of the director of a Nuevo Laredo shelter after he shielded some Cuban immigrants from being ransomed themselves.

Houston's Antifa found a supporter of the El Paso shooter who hails from Sugar Land, and whose father, a Koch Industries vice president, bankrolls his son's antics.

A Williamson County sheriff's deputy under investigation for sexual assault was found to have made and shared Facebook posts of a racial and misogynistic nature, KXAN via Political Dig reported.

Rey Saldana at the Rivard Report has a San Antonio lesson on climate change.

SocraticGadfly used the most recent anniversary of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) to give his most detailed refutation yet to some leftist and liberal claims about WWII in the Pacific and the use of the atomic bomb.

Ken Hoffman at CultureMap Houston says that remediation projects at Houston Astrodome have been moved back to square one.

Two activist meetings of note on the calendar for tomorrow: Green Party Houston with its first public meeting, and the Feminist Action committee of Austin's Democratic Socialists host a panel discussion on "Before Roe and Now".  Details on both meetings at the links.

And San Antonio jazz legend Jim Cullum, who played at the Riverwalk's very first nightclub and many other venues around the Alamo City, passed away on Sunday.

(Cullum) and his ensembles also performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, among other high-profile venues.

Cullum also was the star of Riverwalk Jazz, a long-running live music program syndicated to dozens of public radio stations.

Friday, August 09, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is the ninth Democrat to qualify for September's next presidential primary debates.

Yang crossed the threshold on Thursday after a Monmouth poll in Iowa put him at 2% support. He had previously hit the donor requirements of 130,000 unique donors from 20 different states. His campaign had said he qualified outright based on an earlier poll, but the Democratic National Committee said it wouldn't count that poll. 

The other eight are Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Sanders, and Warren.  Those that have cleared the donor threshold are Castro and GabbardSteyer has the polling but not the contributor numbers.  None of the others -- and they're all shown here; this is a great resource, bookmark it -- have met either the poll or the donor requirement yet.

Castro is closest to being tenth on the Houston stage as of this posting.  If Gabbard or Steyer qualify, they'll make eleven and/or twelve debaters ... and the field will be split for September 12 and 13.

(The contestants ought to be broken up over two evenings even if there are just ten IMO, but there is probably a cost consideration for everyone involved.)

-- Enten/Cillizza at CNN's weekly ranking has them in what is now a familiar order: Biden, Warren, Harris, Sanders, Buttigieg the top five.  Bernie is ahead of Kamala on my scorecard, but whatever.  This caught my notice.

We aren't convinced that Sanders will be able to put together a coalition to win the primary. Sanders' chances go up, however, if this turns into a contest in which caucus and primary winners are taking a low percentage of the vote. The reason is that Vermont's junior senator seems to have a solid base of about 15%. One way you can see that is Sanders' voters are far more likely than others to say that issues matter more than electability.

That's more Enten than Cillizza, FWIW.  I laugh at loud at statisticians ignoring the obvious:

About those indy voters: Joe Rogan's audience.

Sanders' support is under-reported and under-measured, as with Castro.  I would not expect Julián to do well in Iowa or New Hampshire but at this rate he is going to stun some corporate media types on Super Tuesday (Nevada, California, Texas).

-- Speaking of the Hawkeyes, there will be lots of pictures of candidates fellating corndogs at the state fair this weekend.  Goofy Joe is already choking on a corncob.

As I blogged after the second debate, there's still plenty of time for his supporters to wake TF up.  If for no other reason than to make the motherfucker earn the nomination and not just be crowned in an "inevitable" consent decree issued from the corporate media, like Hillary.

-- Back to future debates for a moment.

Democratic presidential hopefuls at risk of being elbowed out by the debate rules may have gotten a last-minute reprieve.

The deadline to qualify for the September debate is August 28, just a little over three weeks away. To reach the stage, candidates have to poll at 2 percent in four Democratic National Committee-approved surveys and have 130,000 unique donors. That’s a bar the majority of the field has not hit and isn’t on track to do so.

But a DNC memo sent to all the campaigns on Monday essentially gives those candidates who miss the September debate more time to qualify for the October debate, which could very well feature more candidates, not fewer.

Bold and italic emphasis in the excerpt is mine.  The DNC hasn't even scheduled the fourth debate yet, so to call this speculative understates it.  Something to keep in mind, however, especially considering all those proposed climate town halls next month (first reported in the 7/26 Update and which apparently dodge the DNC penalty for participating in unsanctioned "debates").  Recall that Mike Gravel -- who dropped out this week and endorsed both Bernie and Tulsi -- said he would sponsor a debate around this time -- between the second and third debates -- as well.  So it's possible that a) he's not going to do that after all, and b) this move by the DNC is designed to short-circuit that effort anyway.

There will also be a forum in Iowa later this month dedicated to the concerns of the First North American People.

So far, five of the 24 official candidates vying for the Democratic nomination have confirmed they will participate in a forum devoted entirely to indigenous peoples’ concerns on August 19 and 20 in Sioux City, Iowa. The conversation will include four familiar faces for those who watched the first Democratic National Committee debate: Vermont Senator and 2016 almost-nominee Bernie Sanders, author and meme fodder Marianne Williamson, Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián “Do Your Homework” Castro, and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney. They will also be joined by Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democratic candidate who did not meet the qualifications for the first Democratic National Committee debate, and Independent candidate Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation.

Way back here, I posted Charles' campaign video.  It's worth watching if you haven't.  A few more quick hits:

-- Buttigieg is already courting superdelegates in case there is a brokered convention next summer.  What have I written about this guy playing king- or queen-maker?

-- Warren is bulking up in Nevadade Blasio needs to go ahead and join Gravel on the sidelines, endorsing Bernie on his way out the door.

-- Williamson and Gabbard elicit the most unhinged, foaming-at-the-mouth responses from the Democratic establishment, and from one or two obsessive/compulsives far away from it, too.  Both women plus Yang have factions of support for their views that are -- putting it kindly -- well outside the mainstream of conventional politics.  Candidly I find all three entertaining at minimum, and would vote for any one of them over shitheels like Biden, Delaney, Ryan, Bullock, Hickenlooper, Bennet, or Moulton.  "tHATZ hOW wE gOT tRUMP", the centrists will bray.

Yes, it is.  And whose fault would that be?

Monday, August 05, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance mourns the carnage in El Paso (and Dayton, OH).

Unlike Governor Abbott -- who'd rather not talk about it -- or Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick -- who at least isn't blaming doors this go-around -- Texans will be taking action on our state's out-of-control gun crisis quickly.  The white nationalist problem will take a little longer.

Lone Star Congressional GOPers are rushing for the exits.

The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin reported that U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell) is expected to announce his retirement (today), which would make him the fourth Texas Republican in Congress to forego seeking re-election in less than two weeks. He would join U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Midland), Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) and Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land).

Texas Republicans are trying to make some lemonade.

“Of course, it’s hard to lose strong incumbents, but there is good reason for optimism: it will create a needed sense of urgency beyond the GOP and the base that will be critical to keeping Texas red and reminding Democrats that their movement toward socialism has no place in the state,” said Catherine Frazier, a veteran of the Rick Perry and Ted Cruz political operations.

“These open seats are a great opportunity to put our best candidates forward, to instill a shot of energy to Republicans statewide and lay waste to the tens of millions national Democrats will spend in a futile effort to win Texas,” she added, echoing many of her colleagues.

But Texas Democrats are cackling with glee at 'Texodus' and mocking the GOP reaction to it.

“What’s necessarily good for Republican consultants may not be good for the size of the Republican conference come January 2021,” said Avery Jaffe, a spokesman for the House Democratic campaign arm.

“Jerry Jones should check on his stadium because that is the most shameless incident of moving the goal posts Texas has ever seen," he added.

His state party counterpart concurred.

“That is complete spin,” said Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party. “It’s something where everybody knows it’s easier to run with an incumbent than with an open seat.”

Sophia Tesfaye at Salon suggests 'Texodus' may offer the opportunity to finally change our nation's gun laws.  And Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer is celebrating the entrance of the original Trump Republican into the race to replace Marchant.

Shifting to the Donkey race for president, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs previewed and recapped the two nights of #DemDebates last week, so his usual 2020 Update focused on the weird antics of presumed Libertarian front-runner John McAfee.  SocraticGadfly called out the cult of the #TulsiTwerkersDos Centavos is ready for the Dem presidential field to be winnowed down.

With all of these developments, it was easy to forget that one of the largest US refineries, the Exxon olefins plant in Baytown, exploded and burned for several days.

And that the Dallas Morning News won their three-year court fight to get the body cam videos which revealed that DPD officers "accidentally" murdered a homeless man who had summoned them for assistance.  They also stood over his lifeless body and made jokes.

In more recent "cops behaving badly" events ...

And Grits for Breakfast finds the irony in the arrest of DPS' former chief of intelligence.

In the latest on Houston's municipal elections, the self-appointed, self-absorbed arbiters of all things neoliberal and Democratic held their day-long endorsement quarrel meeting on Saturday.

Neil Aquino, center, listens to political candidates speak to members of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in Houston. “There are so many issues of social justice, topped off by climate change,” Aquino said. 
“You’ve got to be strong for the fights ahead.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner won the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus Saturday, overriding a recommendation from the group’s screening committee to not back any candidate.

The endorsement concluded a feisty seven-hour meeting that stirred up divisions among caucus members over race, gender and whether the group should favor LGBTQ candidates over straight candidates who the group considers “allies.”

Also at issue was the caucus’ enthusiasm for Turner, a longtime Democrat who received its endorsement in 2015. Several caucus members, including those who screened mayoral candidates, raised concerns about Turner’s strategy to buy caucus memberships and alleged he did not have a clear vision for implementing an equal rights ordinance.

The group nonetheless voted overwhelmingly to back him, with some members vouching for Turner’s LGTBQ advocacy amid allegations from some members that Turner’s actions did not match his campaign rhetoric.

“I don’t think he deserves the endorsement of the caucus, because he hasn’t been for us, period,” said Ashton Woods, a candidate for the open At-Large 5 seat on City Council.

Woods said he block walked for Turner in 2015 but was disappointed the mayor did not do more to help the city’s homeless population.


Complicating Turner’s path to the caucus’ endorsement was former councilwoman and caucus president Sue Lovell, who launched her campaign for mayor last month.

“This is about you, and who do you trust? Who do you think will advocate for you?” Lovell told the caucus, before taking a swipe at Turner’s record on LGBTQ policy. “You know and I know that you want someone advocating for you. That is me.”

Though caucus members generally voiced support for Lovell’s long history with the group and said she would be a strong ally atop city government, at least one candidate screener raised questions about the viability of Lovell’s campaign and alleged she did not have a “cohesive vision.”


Meanwhile, the caucus decided Councilman Dwight Boykins, another candidate for mayor, was not eligible for the endorsement because he did not attend their candidate screening process.

Mich more on this topic in the days to come.  The filing deadline for city elections is in about two weeks.  Meanwhile, Nonsequiteuse went treasure hunting in the COH campaign finance reports.

The TSTA Blog stands up for the idea of a state income tax.

Paradise in Hell wrote what is now a museum piece about the DNI director that wasn't.

The $1.4 billion merger of two giant newspaper companies announced Monday affects a dozen Texas dailies across the state.

GateHouse Media, a chain backed by an investment firm, is buying USA Today owner Gannett Co. for $12.06 a share in cash and stock, or about $1.4 billion. The combined company would have more than 260 daily papers in the U.S. along with more than 300 weeklies.

In Texas, the merged company will control 12 daily newspapers. GateHouse properties are in Austin, Lubbock, Sherman, Amarillo, Stephenville, Brownwood and Waxahachie. Gannett newspapers are in El Paso, Corpus Christi, San Angelo, Wichita Falls and Abilene.

A Waco man faces potential jail time after sending a chocolate penis to the office of his former girlfriend's ex-husband -- who worked in the county sheriff's department.  (Photo at link NSFW)

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, (Thomas Roy) Gourneau mailed the edible genitalia to Tracy Chance's office at the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office in December 2017. Chance responded by subpoenaing Gourneau's financial records -- presumably to prove that he was the dick-sender -- and Gourneau was arrested and charged with misdemeanor harassment in December 2018. He was released from jail after posting $2,500 bond.

Gourneau has turned down a plea deal and the offer of a "pretrial diversion program," so the two men are going to court, where Gourneau could still face six months in jail and another $2,000 in fines. 

Finally, the San Antonio Current has a good list of Texas-based chain restaurants that don't suck. You've probably eaten at a lot them already.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Sunday Not at All Funnies

Too easy, Brittany.

This is, after all, who our governor is.

Friday, August 02, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

A short one today, as I have already posted about these ladies and gentlemen all week, and I'm somewhat worn out on them.

-- I missed this news last week, but two Updates before that I wrote that my guess would be that former Internet security software CEO John McAfee was best-positioned for the Libertarian presidential nomination next year.  I might be wrong.  But if I'm not, the Libs might have to be thoroughly baked -- as in really, really high -- to do that based on this media account, so I'll just assume that someone else has the inside track.

Millionaire John McAfee said (on July 24) that he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic along with five others.

The Caribbean island's armed forces and public ministry said earlier in the day that McAfee was taken into custody along with U.S. citizens Elizabeth McAfee and Richard Alan Gibson, Robert Whitfield of Germany, Oral Thompson of The Bahamas and Vasner Louis of Haiti.

They were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear, officials said.

McAfee tweeted: "I was well treated. My superiors were friendly and helpful. In spite of the helpful circumstances, we've decided to move on. More later."

The above would be the driest report of these events.  There's more details here.  If you'd like to go a little farther through this looking glass, see here.  If you'd like the play-by-play straight from the horse's mouth, check out the man's official Twitter.  Chock full of quality entertainment.  Now don't think this is a charade -- okay, some of it is -- or the ramblings of a delusional lunatic (okay, go ahead and think that, but understand: he is mostly serious) because his campaign website is only slightly less cheeky than his Tweet feed.  Finally, this link is NSFW due to language and not the pictures of cookies, but is the funniest thing you will read today.  You're welcome.

The Libertarian nominating convention is in our beloved state capital city next year.  Make Austin Weird Again, y'all.

-- Can't top that so I won't even try.  Told you this was a quick update ...

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Biden straddles the line

He opened with a flurry, sustained some momentum, but eventually got worn out and by the end of the evening looked like he just wanted to wander off the stage and lie down.

Joe Biden didn't wait until the debate even started to remind people how grandpa-esque he is.

"Go easy on me, kid," he said to Kamala Harris, as he shook her hand. Though a hot mic could have been to blame, Biden certainly didn't take long to use a condescending moniker -- just weeks after being critiqued for saying that a segregationist senator "never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son,'" invoking what many, including Cory Booker, considered to be a reference to a racist term.


(He also) appeared to fumble on the specifics of his proposed healthcare plan. He seemed to confuse a $1,000 deductible cap with a $1,000 copay. Jokes were had.

Cillizza at CNN called Joe "barely" a winner ...

Boy, was this a tough call. I went back and forth on Biden's performance throughout the two hours. On the one hand, Biden was WAY more active, energetic and forceful in this debate than in the first debate in Miami. But that alone doesn't make him a winner. The truth is that this was a deeply uneven debate for the former vice president. He was, in places, quite strong -- particularly when he was going after Harris and Booker. But Biden was much less confident when he was under attack -- especially, again, when the topic turned to race and criminal justice reform, though as the frontrunner, he did withstand fire through the entire debate. Biden also struggled in several answers to spit out the right words at the right time. And he continued to stop himself in mid-thought and immediately stop talking when his time ran out. Add it all up and I believe that Biden wound up doing *just* enough to quiet -- if not silence -- questions about whether he is up to the job. That, plus Harris' struggles, get the former vice president into the win column. Barely.

... but most other pundits weren't as charitable.  Carl Gibson at Grit Post threw up the 'L'.

As he did in last month’s debate, Biden frequently hid behind President Barack Obama’s name as a shield, counting on the former president’s popularity among Democrats to carry him through. However, Sen. Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro exploited this defense by pointing out the ways in which Obama’s presidency fell short -- particularly on immigration.

There are two of the victors; we'll come back to them.

While Biden spoke, protesters with the group Movimiento Cosecha shouted “THREE MILLION DEPORTATIONS” to call attention to Obama’s record of deporting more undocumented immigrants than any other president -- including Donald Trump. Movimiento Cosecha previously stormed Biden’s campaign headquarters earlier this month, and demanded the former vice president apologize for the deportations that happened under Obama’s watch. He not only refused to apologize then, but still offered no apology on Wednesday night.

Biden seemed unable to recover the rest of the night, and wasn’t able to effectively communicate how America would fundamentally improve if he was president, except that he would “restore the soul of America.” As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pointed out after the debate, Biden wants to return to the “good old days,” but “the old days weren’t good for everybody.

And it’s here where Biden seems unable to get over the hump: For the families of the three million deported immigrants, for people who were still unable to get health insurance after the passage of Obamacare, for people who are still having to work multiple low-wage jobs to make ends meet after Obama’s failure to raise wages as well as lower unemployment, four more years of Obama-like policies aren’t good enough.

If that wasn’t enough, Biden failed to make a coherent closing statement to convince those not on board to support him. Not only did he make a gaffe in saying “eight more years of Donald Trump will change America in a fundamental way,” Biden also misstated his campaign’s text message ask as a website, leaving many on social media wondering what the hell he was trying to say.

Was this performance enough for him to keep going?  Of course.  Will he lose some ground in the polling?  Not much if any, and he'll gain it back by the time they come to Houston.  Unless, you know, his staff can't keep him away from reporters and hot mics for the next six weeks.

This sums it up:

They're probably not drunk but they are very, very old and they have landlines exclusively, so -- like their presidential choice who reminds them of their goofy, handsy brother-in-law -- they don't understand the "text 30330", either.  They're also scared by words like socialism -- they fought that shit in WW2, the Big One -- despite the fact that the US Postal Service brings them junk mail that is the highlight of their day, Social Security and Medicare pays their bills, Meals on Wheels feeds them when they can't, etc., etc.  (Yes, that was ageist and mean. Sorry.)

Kamala Harris had a worse night than Biden.  Cillizza again:

The California senator learned on Wednesday night how much harder it is to be the target rather than the targeter. From the start, Biden came at Harris on her record as California attorney general. But so did Gillibrand and Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado). And boy oh boy, did Tulsi Gabbard come after her -- dropping the opposition research book on Harris on her record in California. Harris at times effectively parried those attacks, but she didn't do it enough. On health care and criminal justice reform, she struggled to defend repeated attacks on her record; she wound up simply saying that everything everyone else on stage wasn't telling the truth about her record. Really, everyone? Harris didn't perform badly; she simply didn't live up to the high expectations that she set for herself in the first debate.

Wrong-o.  She blew it.  Gibson again:

What may have been Gabbard’s biggest moments was exploiting one of (Harris’) weaknesses. In a tense exchange, Gabbard accurately pointed out that while Harris was Attorney General of California, more than 1,500 people were incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. Gabbard also accused Harris of blocking evidence “that would have freed an innocent man from death row” until the courts demanded it.

According to a New York Times op-ed by Loyola law professor Lara Bazelon, Harris did indeed block death row inmate Kevin Cooper from seeking advanced DNA evidence that would have exonerated him until she was called out for it -- prompting her to reverse course on Cooper’s case. Bazelon pointed to another inmate, George Gage, who is currently serving a 70-year prison sentence due to a technicality exploited by Harris’ office when she was California’s chief prosecutor.

When confronted with this, Harris angrily responded that Gabbard was only capable of making “fancy speeches” and never had to be in the position to make significant decisions on prosecution. However, she did not refute the individual examples Gabbard brought up. The Root reporter Terrell Starr -- who interviewed Harris last year -- said Harris was incapable of defending herself from Gabbard’s attacks because they were “all true.”

Like Biden, Harris was unable to break through in Wednesday night’s debate in any meaningful way, and was confined to playing defense when attacked whether it was in defending her healthcare plan, or her record as Attorney General. Harris is already assured a spot in the September debates given her polling position as one of the top five candidates and her fundraising haul, but she’ll have to prepare even harder for the next debate this fall.

The 'Kamala is a cop' label has been sticking to the senator from Cali like toilet paper on her shoe for quite some time.  It's preventing her from breaking out with the voters bulwarking Biden's numbers: African Americans.  I hate making short-term polling predictions but I'd be very surprised if she didn't slide down a bit.

This was also a very bad look.

Harris' press secretary and assorted sycophants were so enraged by Gabbard that they briefly got "Assad" to trend last night.  Now that's a smear.  Gabbard's network -- probably more Harris' critics -- clapped back with "KamalaHarrisDestroyed".  These are the food fights CNN's debate moderators have been stoking with their ridiculous questions.  I noticed many Democrats objecting to this, FWIW, whether it was directed at Biden or others.

So with that blogged, hand out some blue ribbons to Booker, Castro, and Gabbard.

... Booker became the breakout star after taking Biden to task multiple times on Wednesday night, particularly during the criminal justice reform portion of the debate.

In one exchange, the New Jersey senator laughed when Biden brought up his record when Booker was mayor of Newark, New Jersey. This gave Booker an opportunity to delve into Biden’s highly problematic record of supporting so-called tough-on-crime legislation when Biden himself was in the Senate.

“Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community, ‘you’re dipping into the Kool-Aid, and you don’t even know the flavor,” Booker said.

Booker's charm and easy grin is a winner.  He encouraged unity by dissuading attacks, saying it helped Trump, even as he blasted away at Biden.  His 'happy warrior' style should get him a polling bounce, especially from those jumping off the K-train.

Castro was methodically devastating, just as he was at the end of June.

Two times is a trend. And it's been two straight debates where the former San Antonio mayor has stood out -- in a good way. He probably had the line of the night, hitting back on Biden with this hammer: "It looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't." Castro was forceful and effective on immigration and really stuck it to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on how to handle the officer who choked Eric Garner. The challenge for Castro now is to qualify for the September and October debates, which could be a heavy lift given his polling thus far. If Castro can make these next two debates, he could really make noise in the race.

If I were to ever so slightly consider voting for a steaming moderate, of all the people on both stages it would probably be Castro.  But I do not find him strong enough on M4A or the Green New Deal, my two signature issues.  His public statements are vague and conflicting on both, reminding me somewhat of the vacuousness/cloaked deception of Beto O'Rourke.  I have long considered both Castros far too plodding in their personal calculus, weighing every single twitch against their nebulous future viability.  They've squandered more opportunities between them with their Hamlet-esque dithering than most aspiring politicos would get in ten lifetimes.  Both men are competent and confident but too hesitant to make bold decisions.  That's not a good leadership quality.

Perhaps if they had inherited a bit of their mother's radicalism.  Oh well.  I still think that Castro's support is seriously under-polled.  He's bound to be doing better than 2-4 % in Texas, as this week's two most recent polls say.

Tulsi Gabbard -- the focus of Bernie-ish hate from the establishment -- will be, I sincerely hope, Secretary of Defense in a Sanders Administration.  The Assad bullshit is exactly that, and so is the ad hominem of her upbringing by religious homophobes.  She was a rising star in the Democratic Party until she spoke out against Bernie getting shafted by the DNC in 2016.  Now she is mocked, slammed, smeared, ridiculed and endures it all with the poise of a debutante and the quiet fury of a gunnery sergeant leading an assault on a machine gun nest.  I hope she gets some payback, of the fuck-'em-and-feed-'em-fishheads variety.

Another loser: Gillibrand.  She blew her shot against Biden by calling it too soon.

The New York senator needed a moment. And she might have had one with her opposition research hit on a Biden op-ed in which he expressed concern about the deterioration of the family if a woman was working outside the home. But she telegraphed it six days ago! And so Biden was completely and totally ready for it -- and gave a solid answer, citing his own personal experiences as a single dad and noting that both his deceased wife and his current wife had and have always worked outside the home. I'll never understand why Gillibrand told Biden what she was going to hit him with days in advance. Giant missed opportunity for a candidate who can't afford one.

Another winner: Yang.

Also a loser.

Talk about being glued to your message ...

Last night was almost everything I hoped for.  Biden showed out a second time as less likely to defeat Trump in a general election than the polls are telling us, but far too many centrist Democrats aren't paying attention.  There's still plenty of time for them to snap out of it.