Monday, December 10, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

In bringing you this week's round-up of the best blog posts and news from the left of Texas last week, the Texas Progressive Alliance understands the value of standing fast for -- and not compromising, or negotiating -- progressive principles.

l to r: Alvarado, Hernandez, Mia Mundy (D), Martha Fierro (R)

The special election to fill the #SD6 vacancy left when Sylvia Garcia was elected to Congress in November concludes tomorrow, but is widely expected to feature a runoff between the two Democratic state representatives vying for the job (among four candidates).  Ana Hernandez, this blog's endorsee, and Carol Alvarado have the short odds to move on to a head-to-head matchup for the right to go to Austin for a seat in the upper chamber; the loser will return to the Texas House.

The state legislature is still Republican but a fresh moderate breeze might be blowing through the Pink Dome, writes Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune.  Whether it's a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" or not remains to be seen next year.  In another preview of the forthcoming legislative session by Ramsey and republished at Progrexas, freshmen lawmakers are about to find out exactly what they won.

Texas Vox takes a first look at the environmental bills filed for the 86th Lege.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that funding public schools is the state's responsibility.

Andy Canales explores how Latin@ schools are performing, particularly those in the RGV.  (Since 2005, there’s been an increase of 800,000 Latino students in Texas.  Their success -- or lack thereof -- will influence the future of our state.)

Texas Standard links to the sickening report in the Austin American Statesman about the 3000+ cases of abuse and neglect in children's day care centers, many of them unlicensed.  The worst news was that nearly 900 kids have died over the past ten years.

Tony Plohetski and Sean Collins Walsh are members of the team investigating an alarming series of incidents at Texas day care centers, and what the state is and isn’t doing to respond to allegations of abuse, poor conditions and child deaths. The Statesman series is called “Unwatched.”

After a state district judge issued a temporary restraining order halting the implementation of the voter-approved 'pay parity' proposal, Houston attorney (and mayoral candidate) Tony Buzbee offered to mediate the dispute between the city and the firefighters.  That drew a quick 'no comment' from the incumbent mayor Sylvester Turner, who was recently praised for his ability to reach across the aisle in Texas Monthly's 'Power' issue.

By these and other appearances, Turner again reveals himself as enjoying the working company of Republicans more than that of rank-and-file labor, a Democratic constituency.  This is one of the hallmarks of neoliberalism, which this blogger deems to have been a failure for Democrats, through and through.  (More to be blogged later.)

Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson made a rare public appearance at a Houston fundraiser for MD Anderson, and made news when he talked about some of his conversations with the president in a dialogue with retired CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer.

"So often, the president would say here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can't do it that way. It violates the law," Tillerson said.

Trump would get very frustrated when they would have those conversations, he said.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer writes about Texas voter turnout in the 2018 election: much improved, but with a long way still to go.

Grits for Breakfast rephrases the question of whether not jailing people for failure (or inability) to pay the fines associated with Class C misdemeanors excuses the punishment of those crimes.

We're left to wonder: why is debt to the government somehow such a big deal that it warrants incarceration of those who cannot pay? Clearly, non-carceral methods are sufficient for these same judges to declare "justice" done if the beneficiary of court-declared debt is a person, not the government.

The government has created a double standard to benefit itself. Ethical qualms about the private sector excessively squeezing the poor are routinely ignored in the public sector when it comes to criminal-justice debt, particularly Class C misdemeanor traffic fines.


The use of incarceration to punish the poor for non-payment of traffic fines appears flat-out ironic when one considers that wealthier people are more likely to commit traffic offenses. So the class of folks facing the harshest punishments for Class C misdemeanors is also the least culpable. In a nation where 40 percent of the population, according to the Federal Reserve, cannot afford a surprise $400 bill without going into debt or selling something, that makes little sense.

There's nothing sacrosanct about debt to the government, certainly from the point of view of the debtor. From the perspective of the stone, it doesn't matter who wants to squeeze blood from it; none is forthcoming. 

Better Texas Blog warns of the dangers of short-term health insurance plans.

Paradise in Hell wants to see that Confederate plaque in the Capitol taken down now.

Zachery Taylor is concerned that the conspiracy theories have been overtaken by the absurdist mainstream media narratives.

David Collins joined the chorus those calling for a halt to the canonization of GHW Bush.

The hunt for Bigfoot in Daingerfield State Park, 136 confiscated snakes in San Antonio, and revenge on a 12-foot alligator in Livingston top the Texas Observer's 'Strangest State' stories from December.

And Sir Elton John's farewell tour passed through Houston Saturday night (no fighting, all right?) and was a rollicking march through five decades of songs for all time.  Both Matthew Keever of the Press and Johnston Farrow of CultureMap documented the history.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Sunday Funnies

"Faster than a sinking stock market!  More powerful than many GM factories closing!  Able to incite an international trade war and crash the economy in a single bound!"

Backlash as more radio stations ban "Baby, It's Cold Outside" over lyrics

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

In the spirit of not saying anything mean about someone when they pass on, the Texas Progressive Alliance stands agog at the hagiography surrounding the demise of the nation's 41st president, and wonders what the media will report when Trump finally dies.

Funeral services in Washington, Houston, and interment at College Station will occur all week.

SocraticGadfly takes a critical look at the public service of George H.W. Bush; then describes his visit to Tsarskoe Selo, where an ex-spook told him a conspiracy theory about why Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, eventually triggering Bush's Gulf War.

Tarrant County Republicans, still gasping for breath after being swamped in 2018's blue wave, seem intent on doubling down on their mistakes by whipping up a bad batch of Islamophobia ... just in time for Christmas.

Barack Obama, speaking at the 25th anniversary of Rice's Baker Institute, gave himself a pat on the back for not having anyone in his administration indicted for crimes.  He also reminded the crowd of wealthy philanthropists -- many of whom have no doubt made fortunes in the oil and gas business -- who was responsible for America becoming the world's largest producer of petroleum products.

“American energy production ... went up every year I was president. And ... suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer, that was me, people,” eliciting cheers.

Fossil fuel's effects on climate change, meanwhile, remained the elephant in the room.

The surge of oil and gas flowing to the refineries along the Texas coast has produced a boom of construction projects ...

More than 80 plants, terminals, and other projects are in the works up and down the state’s Gulf Coast, from Port Arthur to Brownsville, according to a Center for Public Integrity and Texas Tribune review of corporate plans. Companies have been laying enough pipeline in Texas in the last several years to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific three times over, more than 8,000 miles in all.

... while simultaneously straining local infrastructure and creating concerns about livability.

Heavy (petrochemical) industry pumps out greenhouse gases warming the climate, upping the risks of powerful storms that in turn endanger those same facilities and everything around them. Harvey, which dumped more rain than any other U.S. storm on record, damaged hundreds of thousands of homes in Texas last year, killed at least 68 people and, particularly around Houston, sparked industrial spills, air pollution, and explosions.

How long will it be before we elect leaders that understand you cannot breathe or drink money?

Early voting in the #SD6 special election to replace US Rep.-elect Sylvia Garcia in the Texas Senate continues this week.  Pathetically low turnout to date suggests that the winner -- or the two runoff finalists -- will be the campaign(s) that can most effectively turn out just a small base of supporters.

Off the Kuff did a deep dive into straight ticket voting from the 2018 election.  (Straight ticket voting was eliminated by the Lege for the 2020 election.)

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer thinks the 2019 race for mayor of Big D is too boring and suggests a few potential candidates who ought to jump in.

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton is celebrating the 8-year prison sentence of a woman convicted of accidentally voting illegally.

Although Paxton has presented (Rosa Maria) Ortega’s conduct as evidence that voter fraud is a genuine problem in Texas, her case bears no resemblance to the paranoid myth of immigrants covertly swinging elections. Ortega is a lawful permanent resident who was brought to the United States as a baby. She has a sixth-grade education and did not know that she could not legally vote. In October 2014, she sent a voter-registration application to the Tarrant County Elections Administration, in which she indicated that she was not a citizen. When the office sent her a rejection letter, she called to ask why. An employee, Delores Stevens, explained that Ortega had checked the “No” box for citizenship and could not register unless she checked “Yes.” Ortega mailed in a new application, this time checking the “Yes” box to indicate U.S. citizenship.

The office was fully aware of the discrepancies between her two applications. It still registered her to vote.

In his weekly aggregation of criminal justice news, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast takes note of the indictment on murder charges of the Dallas police officer who shot and killed Botham Jean in his apartment.  And also advances the premeire, on HBO this evening, of the documentary of the life and death of Sandra Bland.  (Here's a review from the SAEN.)

Progrexas sees the Trump administration looking admiringly at Texas as a model for its criminal justice reform bill.

The Texas Observer reports new revelations about the source of the drugs used in Texas executions -- specifically a small compounding pharmacy nestled in-between West University and Bellaire in Houston -- underscoring the risks of a capital punishment process shrouded in state secrecy.

In inspections by state regulators, Greenpark has been cited for 48 violations over the past eight years, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The violations included keeping out-of-date drugs in stock, using improper procedures to prepare IV solutions, and inadequate cleaning of hands and gloves.

HPM says that Harris County officials plan to fix the area's floodplain maps with new topographic and predictive rainfall data.  The end result will likely be that more people's homes will be mapped into the floodplains.

Ty Clevenger at Lawflog files suit against the Texas DPS, alleging corruption and cronyism.

David Collins carefully explains the concept of dichotomism to the chronic sufferers of acute binary thought disorder.  (It's easily cured; no medication necessary.)

Raise Your Hand Texas lists the five things needed in any school finance plan.

Texas Vox gives courage to the cautious Capital Metro leaders, showing them that Austin is indeed ready for a mass transit plan.

The Texas Standard has details about the Tyler Loop.  Not a transportation story but a new media one, and perhaps a model for small-town newspapers that need help filling their investigative-reporting gaps.

The Austin Chronicle has the news about Jim Hightower's syndicator balking at his recent column critical of hedge funds that own newspapers, like Gatehouse Media and Digital First Media.

The Rivard Report laments San Antonio's 20th-century mindset for urban planning and design.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher is all over the 60 Minutes report on the damage caused by family separations.

Julien Gomez, opining for the Chron in the wake of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, implores allies of the trans and nonbinary community to speak out.

Harry Hamid writes about the new emperor.

And Sarah Martinez at the San Antonio Current has important Buc-ee's restroom news.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

Alongside the Cyber Monday roundup of lefty blog posts and news from a short week last, the Texas Progressive Alliance can't decide between turkey tetrazzini leftovers or turkey enchilada leftovers, so we're going out to rake the forest.

Lisa Gray at the Chron wrote a moving pre-obituary for Houston activist and civil rights icon Ray Hill last Tuesday, whose heart ultimately did give out on Saturday.

Update: Funeral services are scheduled for Sunday, December 2, on the steps of Houston City Hall.

The event will feature speakers, including former mayor Annise Parker, and six honorary pallbearers -- two felons, two police officers. and two Alcoholics Anonymous members.  But after, according to Hill's end-of-life caretaker Amy Morales, there's a free-for-all open mic in Hermann Square.

The passing of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair on Friday, and his complicated legacy as both philanthropist and Trump Republican, prompted this cogent Tweet from Evan Mintz of the Chronicle.

Reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Transgender Day of Remembrance last Monday, Lou Weaver from Equality Texas pondered the resistance of the '-isms'.  And Texas Standard covered the US Department of Health's proposed changes to the definition of 'sex', observing the challenges added to being trans.

Early voting in the December 11th special election to replace US Representative-elect Sylvia Garcia in the Texas Senate begins today for voters in #SD6.  State Representative Carol Alvarado gets the endorsement of the Chron, three former Houston mayors, and several past and current elected officials, while state Representative Ana Hernandez has collected endorsements from Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, many of the labor unions, and the Area 5 Democrats club.

In ongoing Beto O'Rourke developments, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs adapted the opening line of Hamlet's soliloquy for his blog post title while predicting the now-former Congressman's political future, and Off the Kuff analyzed his performance in Harris County.

In more Election 2018 recaps, Mean Green Cougar Red had a few belated, shallow post-election thoughts.  Thankfully, David Collins had a deeper analysis, congratulating ranked-choice voting on its victory for Democrats in Maine, and waits to see if any of the Donkeys who saw their candidate win because of RCV will thank the Green Party for the idea.  (Don't hold your breath, Dave.  As with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bringing the Green New Deal to the attention of the House Democratic Caucus as a way to begin to address the existential threat of climate change, Democrats who eventually get on board will find a way to take all the credit.)

Meanwhile in Deep-In-The-Hearta, the recent concern is less about the dangers of fossil fuels to human existence and more about the threats to the state's economy.

Many Texans may be paying attention to the stock market right now, as energy companies continue to lead a downward charge. In fact, the energy sector worldwide lost about $1 trillion in value during a 40-day period that began in early October, reports the Houston Chronicle. This means some energy companies may have a difficult time borrowing money, and hiring and retaining employees. For tens of thousands of Texans from Houston to West Texas, this impacts job security, retirement plans and confidence for buying homes, cars and holiday gifts.

James Osborne, energy reporter in the Houston Chronicle’s Washington bureau, says the market decline is simply due to plummeting oil prices.

“Production around the world has been pretty high lately,” Osborne says. “There’s a lot of expectation with Iran sanctions going back into place that oil would come off the market and it seems in some countries, producers were anticipating that and getting ready for it, but that hasn’t really happened. The Trump administration handed out a number of waivers to different countries so they could continue to import Iranian crude. There’s just a lot of oil on the market right now.”

Oil and gas companies have started to pump more oil out of the ground to maintain profits as supply grows and prices drop.

“That’s been the pattern again and again,” Osborne says. “When they get in these sort of situations they tend to get as much oil out of the ground as they can as long as they can. They’ve sort of been on shaky financial ground for a while, spending far more money than they’ve been taking in. They have been reigned in a bit by Wall Street lately. There was some concern that they were sort of overspending and could get themselves into a bubble situation.”

And the Texas Observer reports on how the Koch brothers' free-market utopia operates its refineries in Corpus Christi.

Socratic Gadfly noted that Thanksgiving Day was November 22 this year, and reminisced about a previous Thanksgiving anniversary visit to Dealey Plaza and other things Kennedy and Camelot.

Grits for Breakfast took the Houston Chronicle to the woodshed over its 'Distracted Driving' series.  It's a recurring theme, as Scott Henson was one of the few who critically examined the scandal behind the scandal of the Chron's firing of Austin bureau head Mike Ward over sources that could not be verified.

Andy Hailey at The WAWG Blog wants to know if, as a progressive, he is too extreme. 

Jeff Balke at the Houston Press identified five social media trends he didn't see coming.

Bryce Hannibal at the Rivard Report wants us to be more mindful of food waste.

Harry Hamid picks up his story again at 2 a.m.

And Julia Jones from Texas Monthly suggests a few places across Texas for you to celebrate the Christmas holidays.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

To Beto or Not to Beto *Update*

(Get 'em while they're hot if it's your thing.)

*Update, Monday 11/26.

"Amy and I made a decision not to rule anything out." 

O'Rourke's wife, Amy, said that the couple has not spoken with any political strategists, and said that the possibility of her husband running a presidential campaign was flattering and “scary.”

“To me that just seems like you have to give up so much,” she said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t know if this is a line that I or we really want to cross.”

Asked if his position on 2020 is different than it was before the November election, when he said he would not run for president, O’Rourke said, “Yeah, yeah it is.


Original post:

Beto for president?

"I will not be a candidate for president in 2020," the El Paso congressman told MSNBC. "That's I think as definitive as those sentences get."

Let's take him at his word, despite the fact that he has already won the media/political consultant 2020 primary.  Recall that he hired none of the body politic's parasites despite his $70 million haul, $38 million of it in the third quarter.  He can't run for president and do that again.

Let's review his comments from the CNN town hall in late October, which to my reading addressed both potential future bids for public office (italic emphasis is mine).

When the question (of a 2020 presidential run) was put directly to O’Rourke during a CNN town hall last month in the Rio Grande Valley, a crowd made up mostly of young college students cheered wildly. O’Rourke’s response was purposely brief:

“The answer is no,” O’Rourke said, citing strains of public life on his wife and three young children. “It’s a definite no.”

Pressed by CNN host Dana Bash as to whether “no” meant “never,” O’Rourke seemed to put a potential expiration date on his promise not to run for president.

“Let me put it this way,” O’Rourke said, “I promise you, and most importantly to the people of Texas, that I will serve every single day of a six-year term in the United States Senate.”

Then, making a not-too-subtle comparison to (Ted) Cruz, who launched his White House bid half-way through his Senate term, O’Rourke added, “I won’t leave the state to go run for president.”

“If I don’t win,” the three-term congressman added, “we’re back in El Paso” — his home town.

Beyond what may have been campaign fatigue doing the talking, a presidential campaign runs on very different terms than a Senate one.  One example would be the opening shots fired by the now-eclipsed Castro twins, running to O'Rourke's right for the crossover Republican in the 2020 D primary vote.  Or something.

While party leaders were urging Democrats to remain focused on healthcare, taxes and other pocketbook issues, O’Rourke was calling to impeach Trump and abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, putting him at odds with even would-be political allies.

“I know right now people think of ICE and they think of immigration and removal, but ICE also does things like enforcing human trafficking laws,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, another rising star in Texas’s Democratic circles, said in a recent interview. “We’re not going to just do away with all those other functions.”

(Sidebar: Both Castros, the Congresscritter quoted here and his brother, the one with the actual White House dreams, are no longer rising stars but stale, burnt toast.  Their overly-cautious x 10 approach to running for something statewide -- being too afraid of losing political viability by risking electoral defeat -- lost them their credibility with Texas Democrats tired of waiting around on them.  And their misreading of the political tea leaves of Team Donkey this year was a yuuuge opportunity cost; they waited so long for their Raza to turn out that they missed the bus.  Julian's meager political capital accrued as Obama's HUD secretary has expired, like the milk pushed to the back of the fridge.  Beto O'Rourke ran them both off the road and into the bar ditch, and they're still waiting for a tow truck.  The state's corporate media, the only thing keeping them inflated now, ought to be ready to move on in favor of some of the fresher, bolder flavors of the month.)

So ... Beto for Senate 2.0?  Wise guys have pointed out that all those yard signs had no date on them, after all.  I say look again at what he said about family.

(T)hose close to O’Rourke say his denials are sincere. The congressman spent the better part of the last two years away from his wife, Amy, and their three kids as he traveled the dusty backroads of Texas. A friend said the separation had weighed heavily on O’Rourke, particularly in the final weeks, and that he genuinely had no appetite or deep ambition to embark on a campaign that would take him away from his family for another two years.

In an emotional moment on his livestream as he raced around the state in search of the last few votes, O’Rourke spoke of how much he missed his wife. He said he was dreaming of the moment where he could just sit down with a cup of coffee with her in their backyard and not have to be anywhere. 

Those with the candles still lit for him will point to his thank-you email to supporters a few days after the election, about enjoying his family's company but "already miss(ing) the road".

So ...?

My humble O:

Beto 2018 was lightning in a bottle, a perfect storm.  The phenomenon of O'Rourke's fresh appeal and somewhat unique campaign (at least for Texas), combined with the almost universal disgust of his opponent, allowed him to leverage nationwide Obama-like free media coverage and force-multiply his fundraising to Bernie Sanders proportions.  Though he managed consistently close polling results throughout the year, he never had one by a credible source showing him in the lead.

As the race moved into the Indian summer homestretch, Cruz finally pulled together a serious effort to hold on to his seat, and the polls revealed his small lead growing.  Then ...

Trump came to Houston to stump for Cruz in a pep rally of what appeared to be immense proportions and intensity.  But it had the opposite effect on our Senate race; the Texas polls tightened, with Trump's national approval ratings tanking as Election Day came closer.  Then the swollen early turnout numbers started coming in, and gradually we learned that across every demographic, Democrats -- Latin@s, millennials, and women, especially suburban women who had previously voted GOP -- produced the same kind of surge (or backlash, if you prefer) that had given Republicans a boost from the Kavanaugh confirmation.  That outrage by liberals, which temporarily enhanced the fortunes of conservatives, petered out (sorry) because it did not happen late enough in the tempestuous '18 cycle.  Go to this TexTrib link for their take on the last few weeks (scroll to the 7th graf from the bottom if you don't want to read the whole thing).

I just don't think this scenario can be re-created for Beto, certainly not a Castro or anybody else in 2020.  Red rural Texas saved the day for Ted, as everyone knows.  Anybody taking on Cowboy John in two years has to run better, harder, faster, stronger, with even more than $70 million and maybe even some hired help plus get a few more lucky breaks than Beto did this year.  Awfully tall order.  Cornyn ain't Cruz and Trump might be in jail, ya know.

But Beto is telling his closest pals that everything is on the table, so there you have it.  I think he marks himself as Just Another Egotistical Politician if he does.  Run, that is.

With respect to 2020's White House sweepstakes: if Trump faces a primary challenge from John Kasich he probably still wins but goes into November two years from now even more of a wounded, snarling animal than he is now.  And that presumes Nancy Pelosi means what she says about impeachment, which sort of means Mueller has less than everybody believes.  Even if it's President Pence, Democrats should have a better than even shot at taking back the White House ... unless they nominate a geriatric milquetoast like Biden, or some identity politician working both sides of the street but sweeping up nothing, like Kamala Harris or Cory Booker.  I am not enthused about Liz Warren or Bernie any more, either.  They can't pull the centrists, moderates, Hillbots and assorted shitlibs in behind them to win.  Those POS would rather see Trump win again than vote for a progressive or a so-called socialist.

On the whole, methinks Beto makes a better running mate for almost every other Democrat who would be president save Bernie or Biden.  And -- to allow them some redemption -- there might even be a place for a Castro with either of those in order to keep the Lone Star State's 38 electoral votes in play, forcing Repubs to play defense.  That might be the one thing that actually jeopardizes Cornyn; Beto or a Castro running against him while the other runs as veep.  That's a similar recipe to 2018's down-ballot blue wave, with the fortunes of those at the top of the ticket inconsequential to the success of the Congressionals, statehouse, and courthouse candidates.

Twenty-twenty is not just a presidential year and a census year but a year in which Texas will be electing a legislature that will be drawing the lines for three new Congressional districts, to be filled in 2022.  So more than just the usual 'most important election of our lifetime' will be at stake.

All of those US and Texas House seats that were barely won (and some that weren't) plus these Texas Senate chairs (scroll to line 36 to identify).  As far as the US Senate goes, there are only a handful of pickup shots for the Blues: Maine (Susan Collins), Colorado (Cory Gardner), maybe AZ, NC, IA.  They don't need many to flip the Senate, but they won't get John Cornyn's unless Texas gets another perfect storm.  Since we get 500-year storms every year now, I suppose it could happen.

Can O'Rourke do it his way again and get a different, better result in a presidential cycle?  Does he want to do it all over once more, just to be the guy that everybody else thanks for helping them get elected?  Can a Castro or Beto get picked veep, setting the table for the Senate nominee and positioning the Donks to flip the state blue just in time for redistricting?

Trump says: "we'll see what happens".  There's your very early line, courtesy me.

Sunday Thankful Funnies

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More Turkey, Less Talking

Like every other MFer on the Internet, I'll have something to say about Beto O'Rourke running for President, or Senate -- or both in 2020 -- at some point before the holiday weekend is out.  Until then, enjoy your tryptophan coma.

Beware Black Friday at the Renaissance Festival...

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Pre-Turkey Day Wrangle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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