Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Texas Seventh developments

(This is part three of the Resistance versus the Revolution.  Part one, about the candidates for governor, is here.  Part two, regarding the US Senate candidates, is here.)

From l to r: Westin, Pannill Fletcher, Triantaphyllis, Moser, Sanchez, Butler, Cargas.

I had hoped to get this posted earlier, but today's "wintry mix" day in Southeast Texas enables me to catch up with last night's CD-7 candidate forum in Bellaire (video from last night is here).  As blogged previously, my top two in this race -- neither, to be clear, fully meets my definition of 'progressive' -- are Jason Westin and Laura Moser.  At the 1:12:53 mark on the video, a viewer indicates that a Moser supporter in the audience made a remark that some in the comments at that link are inferring to be racist.  I am unable to hear the audio, so listen for yourself and tell me what you think in my comment section here.

Update: upon clarification, the comment isn't on the videotape but on the Facebook page itself, but it still is not visible to me for whatever reason.  I am told that it has something to do with Ivan Sanchez and ESL classes, so yes, that would indeed be entirely out of line.

My deafness also makes Kuffner's interviews with the candidates last week useless to me, unfortunately, so if someone wants to give those an ear and give me their opinion that's not of the cheerleading variety, feel free.  I would be particularly interested in stances on single payer, the environment, and anything else that might meet the definition of progressive (or not, for that matter).

As I have repeatedly blogged, James Cargas has indicated in his past three defeats to John Culberson that he supports fracking.  And unless he's moved recently, he still lives outside of District 7.  So with everything else I have discovered to be odious about him aside, he's not worth anybody's vote, much less mine.  Some Democrats being the dumbest of asses, he appears to be holding a base of support.

Joshua Butler and Ivan Sanchez are engaging young men with a few progressive bonafides.  As the only two people of color in the contest, they should get a good share of the primary vote.  Good on him if one emerges to square off against Cargas; my vote will be easy.

Also as I have written, by process of elimination I've excluded Alex T and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher for raising metric shit-tons of money, early and often.  These simply aren't the kind of Democrats that will show up, if elected, as supporting people who need Medicaid, much less Medicare for All, and their vague platforms indicate to me they won't be advocates of anything approaching universal single payer.  With the Texas Medical Center bordering the district and so many physicians as potential constituents, it's a certainty that caucus has weighed in with their checkbooks on T's and Pannill Fletcher's campaigns.

The same likely holds true of Westin and Moser, but at least their language suggests they're more amenable to healthcare reform that favors people over profits (Westin certainly).

I'll get to find out more about how they stand on the environment at the end of this month.

This forum should have invited Sema Hernandez to participate, but word comes to me that they have declined to do so (one of the sponsors is giving "Bob" an award).

Please join us at the Houston Climate Forum 2018 with Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Texas' 7th District Congressional candidates: Joshua Butler, James Cargas, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Laura Moser, Ivan Sanchez, Alex Triantaphyllis, and Jason Westin, M.D.

Saturday, January 27, 2018 -12:30pm-4pm

West University Elementary School, 3756 University Blvd. Houston, 77005. Parking available around school and neighborhood. Front doors to the school will be locked, as entrance to the forum will be in the back, via Edloe/Goode St.

Learn Congressional candidate positions related to climate, energy, and environmental issues and solutions, nationally and locally, in an open forum. Bring your questions!

Your hosts: 350.org-Houston, Pantsuit Republic-Houston Climate and Environmental Racism Committee (CERC), Indivisible TX7-Houston, and Texans For Climate Change Action, will facilitate the open forum. The forum will be moderated by Daniel Cohan, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice University.

Tickets are free but limited; register here.

The statewide candidates scheduled to appear in Houston tonight as part of the county party's Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner kickoff has been postponed.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The MLK Day Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog blog post and news round-up, the Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Downwinders at Risk chronicles the holiday in the aftermath of the cancellation of the Arlington MLK Day parade (the one Greg Abbott was supposed to be the grand marshal of).

Neil at All People Have Value blogged about the Houston Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

PoliTex reminds Texans that we are first in the nation with our primary elections, and that the deadline to register to vote in them is two weeks from today.

Socratic Gadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to take a political stance.  And in a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump's alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what's new on Gorilla Channel viewing, both run with Ken Silverstein's Washington Babylon.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best chance at getting elected, and Lion Star has video of some of the CD-16 candidates (he seems to like Norma Chavez).

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas cities and towns. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

In his latest "water is wet" post, jobsanger bar-graphs a poll that show race relations in the US are still a problem.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer notices that life has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

Texas Standard's regular aggregation of state news includes the story at the Statesman that justices of both the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard in a symposium from experts on how to better serve defendants with mental health issues.

Leah Binkovitz at the Urban Edge ponders the Houston region's transit future.

Sarah Martinez at the San Antonio Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster, and Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly profiles some Texans, well known and lesser known, that we lost last year.

Somervell County Salon laments the pending reuse of sodium nitrite to control the feral hog population.

DBC Green blog has his mind blown by a conservative host on RT.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Harry Hamid approaches Ludditia.

And Millard Fillmore's Bathtub reminds you to fly your flag today.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sema versus Beto

(Part two of The Revolution as opposed to The Resistance.  Part one is here.)

Once more we find a corporate media blackout on the most progressive candidate in a statewide contest.  To paraphrase Sarah Silverman: frankly, it's ridiculous.

Sema Hernandez is told she is the first Texas Latina ever to qualify for the ballot for US Senate.  She has an enthusiastic Twitter following that was instrumental in raising the funding necessary to get her on the ticket.  Her story is powerful.  And yet ... if all you did was watch teevee or read the newspapers, you might believe that there was just one person standing up to challenge Lyin' Ted Cruz in November.  (There are three, but the third one is a ghost.  Only this site has the slightest bio of him, an 'ex-pressroom manager'.)

Exhuming the lede: the more I have researched Bob O'Rourke, the less likely I am to be voting for him.  Today I'm including the general election in that assessment.  There's much time and many opportunities for improvement on his part should he emerge as the nominee, and lots of unexpected things can happen.  But if November 6, 2018, was tomorrow, and the options were Cruz, O'Rourke, and a bunch of nobodies on the extreme right ... I would undervote the US Senate race here in our beloved Texas, and here is why.

-- There is no Green candidate running, or attempting to qualify to run, by all indications.

-- The gaggle of Libertarians dueling for that party's nomination are, to be kind, completely insufficient candidates, and the independents declared with even so much as the slightest profile -- Dale Bible of the Constitution Party, Bob McNeil of the American Citizens Party --  are far to the right of the GOP and the Libs.  This research was comedic relief: finding Texans who think Cruz is too liberal helped clear my lungs of a small bucket of phlegm, screaming and coughing in laughter.

-- It shouldn't have to be mentioned, but Cruz or any of the four Republicans who might upset him in their primary are non-starters.  I only wonder if disgraced prince of darkness Steve Bannon's support of Cruz helps or hurts the incumbent at some point.  Texans Republicans are both forgiving of all sins and massively hypocritical when they can manage to acknowledge them, so there's probably nothing for the lazy corporate media to find even if they looked.  If televangelist Bruce Jacobson is to gain any traction, he would be wise to go after Cruz's porn Tweets, the Bannon free pass, and anything else that can leverage Trump's MAGATs against the senator.  It's quite possible that Cruz has to go to a runoff, and that helps the Democrats.  So does so many freak right-wing others in the general.

So then ... can Sema run strong enough in south Texas, among other places, to push O'Rourke into a runoff?  If Edward Kimbrough, whatever and whoever he is, can collect some vote share above 1 or 2%, then the chances increase.  That's her best bet today.

So why can't you vote for "Beto" again, PD?

For starters, he comes from a excessively privileged background, and it's been my experience that people like him don't have a lot of genuine empathy for the less-than-fortunate.  His parents were well-off and well-connected; he attended an all-male boarding school, went to Columbia University (was on the rowing team), drifted somewhat aimlessly and in bohemian fashion for several years after graduation.  He would rather you think of him as the punk rocker who got busted twice in the '90's, once on a forcible entry charge at UT and also for DWI.  Both charges were dismissed -- lucky him -- but he apparently earns 'street cred' from the repeated mentions of his criminal record.

What he really doesn't want you to know is that he has a long reputation as a phony.  This excerpt from Texas Monthly has details about his El Paso real estate fronting for his father-in-law.

In 2006, (city councilman O'Rourke's group of politicos cynically named the Progressives) championed a public-private redevelopment that would welcome a sports arena, hotels, big-box retailers, and an arts walk to downtown and southside El Paso. O’Rourke saw the plan as a way to “bring life and energy and vitality” to an area of the city that had long been characterized by abandoned buildings and shuttered stores. But entrenched property owners believed the plans represented an existential threat to their businesses; Chicano activists saw an aggressive gentrification that would “de-Mexicanize” the historic Segundo Barrio neighborhood, some of which was slated to be razed and rebuilt; and soon both groups mounted an offensive against the council members, accusing them of doing the bidding of a cabal of billionaire developers. O’Rourke responded by attending forums hosted by the business owners and walking door-to-door in the Segundo Barrio neighborhood to hear residents’ concerns—he found that most of them supported some kind of redevelopment—but the battle lines had already been drawn, and his opponents saw his listening tour as a cynical act.

“He was the young Kennedy progressive going to slums, offering a better perspective,” David Romo, a historian and activist who fought against the plan, told me. “That was the narrative that he was very good at promoting, but it was all false, it was all a mask. He made himself the absolute good guy and everyone who was fighting against displacement was the bad guy.”

That May, another El Paso activist initiated a recall campaign against O’Rourke. When the recall fizzled, the downtown property owners filed two ethics complaints against him, citing conflicts of interest because his father-in-law, prominent real estate investor William Sanders, was one of the key businessmen behind the plan. After an independent ethics-review commission dismissed the charges against him, O’Rourke denounced what he saw as a coordinated campaign of “character assassination and political intimidation.”

To this day, the fight produces strong reactions. Romo refuses to call O’Rourke Beto, because he sees the name as an act of cultural appropriation by “someone who betrayed our trust.”

Watch this video of the Segundo Barrio residents and activists confronting O'Rourke about the project.  Read this extensively researched blog post from 2012 at Deep Inside El Paso regarding the pattern of displacement of minority communities for 'economic revitalization' demonstrated by real estate developer and O'Rourke's FIL, Sanders.  Note that as an El Paso city council member. O'Rourke recused himself from many votes on real estate projects in the city ... but not Segundo Barrio.  Even when former mayor John Cook suggested that he do so.

And if you like your snark wicked, read this send-up of 'Beto 4.0'.  Excerpt:

“This is pretty alarming,” says CNET analyst Amado D. Kompuradoras. “The Betobot has had a series of problems since its initial outing as Robert O'Rourke.1.0. At that time, that version was sufficiently Republican until you got the BetoBot released in Version 3.0, name change and all, now a Democrat.”

Learning all this gave me a greater understanding for the Congressman's duplicity -- there's no other word for it -- on single payer.  He declares that healthcare is a human right, but it's a right he expects everybody to have to pay for, and that hospitals have a right to profit off of.

O’Rourke supports universal coverage and sees a single-payer approach as the “only clear path” to get there. He’s not signed on to the House bill (HR 676, 'Medicare For All', the Conyers bill), even though he likes its goal, because he disagrees with the requirement that providers be public institutions or nonprofits. “If you like the way Medicare works today, I don’t know why you wouldn’t use the same model in what is being called a Medicare for All bill. Instead, Conyer’s bill changes that model fundamentally, takes a big chunk of potential providers out of the mix and starts out with some entrenched opposition,” O’Rourke told the Observer. “I think we can do better.”
O’Rourke likes what he’s read of Sanders’ bill, but disagrees with having no copays for anyone and no premiums for low-income families he’d prefer everyone pay in to some extent.

That's the equivalent of favoring a poll tax for the right to vote.  Which is bullshit, Bob.

The prevaricating doesn't end there; PolitiFact caught him in a half-truth regarding his piousness about "not taking PAC money".  It's long, and complicated by the usual hurdles in tracing political contributions, so here's the nut graf.

O’Rourke said: "I’m one of two members of Congress out of 535 that takes no corporate cash, no political action committee money."

Unsaid: no candidate can take corporate cash; that’s illegal. Otherwise, we found, O’Rourke was one of at least five (not two) House incumbents to keep no PAC contributions in the run-up to the 2016 elections. He also hasn’t accepted PAC aid into 2017 though he drew on about $297,000 in PAC donations in his House bids of 2012 and 2014 -- actions not recapped in his Dallas call for contributions.

I think "half-true" was generous.

In the past week, one thing O'Rourke did that he had to quickly backtrack on was his call for a mandatory national service program for millennials.  Because, as blogged above, he did so much in his own youth to serve his country.

Stace and Wayne were both quick to make excuses for him.

All this is forcing me to take a hard pass on Bob.  By sharp contrast, Sema is from the Democratic Socialist wing of the Democratic Party, she's for Medicare for All without conditions, also tuition-free college, the good kind of comprehensive immigration reform (she's the daughter of immigrants), a $15 minimum wage transitioning to a universal basic income, and a whole lot more that I find genuine and direct, not to mention meeting the definition of 'real progressive'.

Please don't give me any crap about pragmatism over purity.  I am so worn out by logic represented by "if everybody who voted for Jill Stein would have voted for Hillary Clinton, Hillary would have won" that my stock response turns that inside out: if everybody who voted for Hillary would have voted for Jill Stein instead, Trump wouldn't be president.  And we'd all be even better off than that.

So you vote your principles in the primary and I'll vote mine.  Don't expect me to vote for your neoliberal shitholes in November if you wouldn't vote for a Democratic Socialist now, or then.  There's gonna be a Revolution inside the Democratic Party sooner than later; I'm voting for now.

If you're in the Houston area, you can meet Sema next Friday.  The following day is the 2018 Women's March in Houston (last year more than 20,000 participated) and Sema will host a meet-and greet prior to it.  She'll also have a community town hall at U of H on February 7.  If you're elsewhere in Texas, she's raising funds for a state tour right now.

She is as solid as a progressive populist can be.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Resistance is Democrats against Trump. The Revolution is ...

... actual progressives -- Berniecrats, #DemExiters, Democratic Socialists, Greens, and nonpartisans, the commonality being those who have been failed by the Democrats -- against the entire corrupt, corporate-influenced establishment.

This is part one of three regarding how the Democratic schism betwen the Resistance and the Revolution is going to affect the 2018 Texas Democratic primary, happening in less than sixty days, with deadlines for requesting a mail ballot and registering to vote closing fast.

If you read here regularly then you know my bias; there will still be some 'YMMV'.  Part two will flesh out the differences between Ted Cruz challengers Irasema "Sema" Hernandez and Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke, and part three will expose some of the pros and cons of the various Democrats vying to take out John Culberson in CD-7.  I'll tease a bit of those two future posts below.

Once again for the record: being LGBTQ or an ally doesn't make you a progressive.  (Many of the members I know in The Caucus are as far from being progressive as any Republican on nearly every other issue other than the one most important to them.)  Being a feminist, a supporter of women's reproductive rights, an ally of #MeToo and #TimesUpNow, likewise does not convey automatic progressive bonafides by itself.  If you're both of those but think that the Houston firefighters lied on their ballot petitions last summer, for example... you probably work in Sylvester Turner's administration.  And that means you ain't no MF progressive.

The term 'economic and social justice' applies pretty well, but is not universal.  Progressivism is color-blind, gender-blind, identity politics-blind.  Progressivism fights the class war but calls for the end of all shooting wars, opposes the brutish, brutal aspects of capitalism and free markets, and discriminates harshly, but solely on the basis of ideas.

The premise of the title is to mean that the Resistance is comprised mostly of Clinton Democrats (aka neoliberals, conservaDems, Blue Dogs, and just a decade ago, Joe Lieberman Democrats).  A Resistor is the kind of Donkey who may vote for a progressive in the primary, but generally votes for a mush-mouthed moderate, too often the one who has raised and spent the most money or has the simplest name, and insists on voting a straight Democratic ticket in the fall, even when that ticket is populated by Texas *cough* Democrats *cough* like Grady Yarbrough and Jim Hogan.

A Resistance member -- beret tilted jauntily -- wants Oprah, or Joe Biden, to be the party's 2020 nominee as of this week.  In weeks past it was Kamala Harris or Cory Booker.  Next week it could be Julian Castro.  In short, the Resistance is about being a Yellow Dog Democrat.  Been there, done that, all I got was fleas and mange.  (From this point on I will Resist Talking About 2020.)

Repeating myself: the more money a Democrat raises, the less likely I am to vote for them.  This is the kind of Democrat who is NOT likely to be attentive to the concerns of the common people, but rather those of his/her donors.  One example is campaign language rooted in phrases like "access to healthcare".  Everybody has access to healthcare already, ladies and gentlemen (see 'emergency rooms'); not everyone has the ability to avoid being bankrupted by their hospital bills, by the cost of their medications like insulin and other life-saving drugs, or even by the co-pays and caps in their shitty employer plans.

And that's when they're not busy dying.  Because of the lack of affordable healthcare.

'Access to healthcare' is consultant-speak.  It is a dogwhistle to large donors -- or potential ones in the medical, health insurance, and pharmaceutical fields -- who prefer their medicine with a healthy profit margin, such as "Bob" O'Rourke. (And if the corporate media is going to keep up the candidate's pretense that Beto is his real name and not his nickname, then I'm just going to have to set off his birth name in quotes.)

Revolutionaries of tired of all this shit.

The Democratic candidates for governor, from top left: James Jolly Clark, Lupe Valdez, Grady Yarbrough, Andrew White, Cedric Davis, Demetria Smith*, Joe Mumbach, Thomas Wakely, Jeffrey Payne, Adrian Ocegueda.  
Courtesy/illustration by Sunny Sone/Texas Observer
Note: A more recent photo of Grady Yarbrough is here.

The best example lately of the friction between the factions -- it's a little under the radar, but you should trust that it hasn't gone away in the last year -- includes the developments in the race to challenge "MLK Parade Grand Wizard Marshal" Greg Abbott.  First, from the recent debate that featured most of the gubernatorial candidates -- even the one eliminated* because her filing check bounced -- in San Angelo this past Monday (the same night as the college football championship game between Alabama and Georgia, a surefire way to have everyone's attention.  The next one, no doubt, will be scheduled during the Super Bowl).

In a Texas Tribune event this morning, even as this blog post was composed, White pushed back on his reputation as being pro-forced birth, signaled that toll roads should be a solution to Texas' traffic woes, and reiterated his support for fracking, saying the process was "important to the Texas economy" and could be done safely, with environmental concerns in mind ("you can have safe fracking", LOL) but if local governments wanted to ban or restrict it, he'd be fine with that.

Only that last is even marginally acceptable.  The other positions are simply incompatible with Democratic policy, and White's belief that fracking is safe is just delusional.  It represents neither an informed reading nor a sane comprehension of the science.  The Texas Lege has, of course, already cut the guts out of local control -- from fracking to plastic grocery bags -- so a (thankfully fictional) Governor White would be reduced to a veto of future legislation.  The rest of us would remain at severe risk from the other hot gases billowing from his lips.

By this measure, a service dog is qualified to be a candidate for governor.  But still not White, as all he's got going for him is his father's name and the money he's made as a financial advisor.  Yet the corporate media seems to think White is/should be a front-runner, while castigating Democrats as Bum Steers for their generational ineptitude.  This is what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The state of the TDP being what it is, however ... should White make a runoff for governor, I'll be shockedIsay, but not surprised.  (See Grady Yarbrough and Jim Hogan above.)

Update: As predictable as an Austin lobbyist with a concealed carry license (to avoid the long screening lines at the Capitol, doncha know), the Texas Tribune tosses White's salad for calling for the end of the death penalty while soft-pedaling his "deep, personal" anti-choice views.  Progress Texas' Ed Espinoza gets credit for an assist.  Not so much as a peep from the greasy, fossil-fueled Trib about fracking.

White's policy positions (he does have a good idea on raising teachers' pay and how to do it) are considerably more disclosed than alleged/anointed co-frontrunner Lupe Valdez has managed to this point, as Gadfly has blogged.  Valdez gets an 'I' for Incomplete as of today.

You should already know that my candidate is Tom Wakely, who has extensively detailed and unequivocally progressive populist policies, has barnstormed the state, yet still fails to get much in the way of corporate media mention.  I will point out that Joe Mumbach is a second option.

As an aside to David w/r/t his passive aggressive screed from a couple of weeks ago, a Texas gubernatorial candidate does not need to have a position on Yemen.  That's outside the purview of the Texas Governor's responsibility and accountability.  Nobody on the 2018 ballot needs a position on the Jewish-Palestinian question either, unless they are running for federal office.  We all have enough to evaluate in keeping the focus on the people and the issues that matter, so avoiding pointless distractions by the ones that don't is crucial.

I just don't know why Greens do this same dumb thing over and again.  Anyway ...

Next week the Harris County Democratic Party will host several statewide candidates in an event that sounds more meet-and-greet and stump speech than debate.  (I'll try to attend but will live-reTweet if I don't, and if it's relevant beyond the typical pom pom-waving.)  The event is billed as a Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner kickoff; it's free but it's promoting the county party's most important annual fundraiser, which fetes as its keynote speaker this year ...

... wait for it ...

... Nancy Pelosi.  Pelosi is about as popular as shingles, as everyone knows, and that's without comparing her to Bernie Sanders, so it's no wonder some journalists have characterized Texas Democrats as *ahem* demonstrating reluctance to embrace the nation's most popular politician (remember, he's not a Democrat) and his movement to help Democrats get elected.  Note that the Chron's Austin bureau reporter writing the article at the link-before-last has just a few clues about the goings-on within Team Lone Star Donkey, and repeats every single bromide that I've refuted above, but does find some of the acorns that a blind hog would.

More coming, sooner than later, on the US Senate and the Congressional District 7 contests, and with this same prejudice in favor of the progressives and against the not-so-muches.  I've enjoyed my blogging respite more than you know, but with the primary elections a short sprint away, it's time to put some of these tired, diseased Blue Dogs out of their misery.

And ours.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's blog post and lefty news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance tips their cap to all you very stable geniuses.

The Rivard Report covered the opening of Dream Week 2018 in San Antonio.

Socratic Gadfly blogged about Beto O'Rourke's visit to Northeast Texas.

RH Ratcliffe at Burkablog got reactions from some Texas mayors regarding US ICE director Thomas Homan's threat to lock up elected officials in 'sanctuary' cities.

Dos Centavos wonders if Latin@s will roll with Trump on the basis of him actually doing something -- no matter how terrible it might be -- on DACA.  (Senate Democrats who folded on a fix at the end of last year left the DREAMer activist community outraged.)

PoliTex saw and heard the backlash in Fort Worth to that city's selection of Governor Greg Abbott as the grand marshal of the MLK parade next week.  And the Houston Press is still wondering why there are two different MLK Day parades in the Bayou City.

The Lewisville Texan Journal has a profile of Willie Hudspeth, the civil rights activist and Vietnam vet running for Denton County Judge.  And from the Texas Observer: Austin community organizer and self-described 'democratic socialist' Lewis Conway Jr. wants to find out if a convicted felon can get elected to, and then serve on, city council.

The Lion Star blog sees a state district court judge in El Paso who wants off the 2018 ballot, and DBC Green blog links to Kuff regarding all the Democrats who have filled the primary that are gunning for a seat in the US House.  And Elliott Morris at Decision Desk HQ also has five numbers that frame where the 2018 Congressional elections stand.

With so many candidates on the primary ballot, Texas Leftist has his candidate questionnaire, TLCQ 2018, up and ready to go, so check it out and look for responses to come in soon.

The TSTA Blog urges teachers to be the voting bloc some state legislators fear they can be.

A Trump social media guru previously based in San Antonio (having relocated to Florida in preparation for the 2020 re-election campaign) has been called to testify before Congress in the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, reports the Current.

Neil at All People Have Value noted that Trump was making a case for street protests against corrupt government in his tweets about demonstrations in Iran.  APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

The Texas Tribune takes a look at the furniture rental outfits across the state who threaten their customers with jail time, and follow through on it, if they miss a payment.

Mike Snyder at the Chron wants to consider the question of how Houston should grow post-Harvey.

The Texas Living Waters Project talks to Dr. Andrew Sansom about his freshwater environmental activism.

And Harry Hamid reported some issues with an arson investigation in his 'hood.

Monday, January 01, 2018

2018's first Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone reading this has a happy, healthy, prosperous, and very progressive 2018.  (No substitutes or pretend-progressives will be accepted.)

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs picked his Texan of the Year, and unlike the Dallas News, neither Joe Straus nor white supremacist Richard Spencer were ever in contention.

SocraticGadfly riffed on the idea of the Twelve Days of Christmas and found 12 jobs even better than knitting for Hillary Clinton.

In its own state news roundup, Texas Standard wants you to know that the Parks and Wildlife Department is hosting more than 75 hikes in state parks across Texas today.

Texas is leading the nation in flu cases, reports the San Antonio Current.

Grits for Breakfast has Brennan Center data that shows murder rates were down in the largest Texas cities in 2017, but violent crime was up slightly.

Save Buffalo Bayou asks more questions about Houston's 'flood czar', Steve Costello.

A poll graphed by jobsanger indicates that the American public wants action on gun safety legislation in 2018.

A poll reported in the Dallas Observer shows Mark Cuban leading Trump in Texas.  The poll, conducted by PPP, has the billionaire investor listed as a Democrat, but Cuban has said that if he runs for president in 2020, he will do so as a Republican.  (There's a point about shitty polls or dumbass Texas Democrats -- or both -- to be made here, but I'll save it for later.)

Jeremy Wallace in the SAEN's Austin bureau sees Texas Democrats in a quandary as to whether to embrace the Bernie Sanders/Our Revolution progressive movement ... or not.  The article details the awkward fence-straddling of presumptive Senate front-runner Bob "Beto" O'Rourke, who got another puff piece in Texas Monthly's latest issue.

Neil at All People Have Value thinks Democrats running for office at every level of government in 2018 should be asked how they will respond to the threat of authoritarian government in the US. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Down With Tyranny was first with the news about gubernatorial candidate Tom Wakely, who will be rocking out in South Texas in late February as part of a Latin@ GOTV effort.  There will be six free concerts -- in six cities in six days -- by Comba, led by Jorge Guevara, the former lead singer with Elefante, and past and current members of Maná, a Gualdalajara rock band who own 4 Grammys and 8 Latin Grammys.

Blogging El Paso Democratic politics (not new but rediscovered, and added to the right-side column) is Jaime Abeytia's Lion Star blog, while Off the Kuff took a closer look at Democratic Congressional candidates around the state.

DBC Green blog has some thoughts on killing one's inner Trump, and Zachery Taylor has a long and righteous rant about Trump's unqualified judicial appointees.

Michael Agresta at the Texas Observer writes about photographer David Taylor's exhibit (at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, through January 28) documenting the monuments marking the true Texas-Mexico border, and the pictures tell their own story of how the line between the two countries has shifted through the years.

The Texas Tribune passes along the details about a South Texas bureaucrat who became a multi-millionaire when the federal government ordered construction of sixty miles of border fencing ten years ago.

And as crude oil climbs back to a profitable range for drillers, frackers, and refiners -- the Permian Basin shattered production records going back to 1973 -- Texas Monthly's Energy Report prefaces Lawrence Wright's long piece in the New Yorker about the resource's long Texas history and influence on everything in the state.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Brains and Eggs' Texan of the Year is ...

Harvey, naturally.

Within a mile from my house -- which stayed high and dry -- people were being rescued from flooded cars on I-610 by raft and by helicopter.

Harvey by the numbers (as of Sept. 1, four months ago):

More than 20 trillion gallons: That's the total amount of rain that fell across Texas and Louisiana, a staggering deluge that represents enough water to supply New York City's needs for over five decades.

51.88 inches: The amount of rain recorded at Cedar Bayou on the outskirts of Houston in just under five days, marking a new record for the heaviest rainfall for a storm in the continental U.S., according to the National Weather Service.

$125 billion: (Texas Gov.) Greg Abbott said his state will need federal relief money "far in excess" of that total. Moody’s Analytics has estimated $97 billion in destruction alone and some $108 billion in total damages, counting lost output.  More recent estimates put the tally close to $200 billion.

There are ongoing quarrels about the relief funds raised and how, and if, they are being spent.  

Ninety people in the US died as a result of Harvey.  Over 185,000 homes were damaged, and more than 364,000 people filed for FEMA relief.  A number well in excess of 42,000 went to shelters.  Ten thousand were rescued just by federal forces, among them 24,000 National Guardsmen.  At least 300,000 lost power for some period of time, and there were some 120,000 people in Beaumont who had to go without clean water for several days, as the public water facility there flooded.

Ten petrochemical refineries in the region were shut down for days, accounting for 3 million daily barrels -- nearly 17% -- of the nation's refining capacity.  The most infamous was the Arkema plant in Crosby, near Baytown, which had volatile chemicals that exploded and burned when the plant lost power due to flooding.  The facility had no contingency plan for an emergency of this nature due to relaxed enforcement of environmental regulations by Trump's EPA.

My wife and I were not personally affected by Harvey's wrath.  We were among the lucky ones.  My mother was forced to evacuate, twice, the second time by jet ski, and finally made it to Houston several days after the worst of Harvey moved east to torment others.  My childhood home, her home of 57 years, was inundated by 21 inches of water.  She lost everything: home, auto, clothing, valuables, keepsakes and mementos.  She is now safely ensconced in one of the finest assisted-living facilities in the city, the Village of River Oaks, but not without having endured the physical and emotional stress of so much upheaval and loss.  On Christmas Day my wife drove her around to see the Mecom Fountain and Hermann Park and other parts of town between where she is and where we are.  She remarked, "I finally feel like a Houstonian."

As for those who were less fortunate, it will be years -- decades perhaps -- for the Texas Gulf Coast, from Rockport to Orange, to recover from this year's 500-year flood event (Houston's third in three years).  Then again, Harvey is now being called a 1000-year event

What about next year's?  Or the year after?

I certainly hope I don't have to award any more TOYs to environmental catastrophes.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Unwrapping the Final Wrangle of 2017

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and all other appropriate greetings of the season.  Here comes the last blog post and lefty news roundup of the year!

SocraticGadfly took a look at various regional election filings by both D's and R's in Northeast Texas and in the Metroplex, while wondering when and how Joe Straus is going to stay active in GOP politics.

Dos Centavos lists the members of the #DeportationCaucus, the Democrats in the House and Senate who voted 'no' on a continuing resolution which would have provided relief for DREAMers.

The Lewisville Texan Journal has the listing of candidates that are on the ballot for the March 2016 primary in that city (and Denton County).

Off the Kuff looked at Democratic filings for state Senate and for races in counties neighboring Harris County.

jobsanger apparently wants Joe Biden to run for president in 2020.

Texas Leftist blogged about holiday stress extending all the way out to the store parking lot.

And Neil at All People Have Value wrote about a great work of public art in Houston called Hubcap in Grass. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


It's that listicle time of year again: 'best of', 'worst of', and plaudits honorable and not-so-much.

Texas Monthly's highly-anticipated Bum Steer Awards placed "glorified bathroom attendant" Dan Patrick at the top of their list this year.  Other Bums of distinction were "the entire" Texas Democratic Party, "Prison Warden" Bob McNair, and "fake news faker" Alex Jones.  (Sid Miller, Matt Rinaldi, Briscoe Cain, Joe Barton, Blake Farenthold, Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Yuli Gurriel, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz did not avoid dishonorable mention.  Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton somehow did.)

The Texas Observer's best feature stories, their choices for the ten best Texas books, and the seven most pressing issues facing rural Texas are spotlighted.

The Texas Tribune summarized their 2017 political coverage, from the bathroom bill to the wave of Lege members retiring.

More than two hundred events are scheduled in conjunction with the 2018 DreamWeek Summit in San Antonio next month, and the Current has a rundown.

The Urban Edge focuses on CHIP's uncertain future, and its impact on Houston and the state.

In the latest post-Harvey developments, the Texas Standard and the Houston Chronicle's Lise Olsen connected the dots between Houston's 'flood czar', Stephen Costello, and the real estate developers who sold homes built in the flood pools of west Houston ... without disclosing that information to buyers.

"I certainly was surprised when (Costello) told me that he had never calculated what engineers call ‘the maximum flood pool’ for the Barker and Addicks reservoir. And he said he had no idea that the subdivision his firm had built was inside that area,” Olsen says. “And curiously, he didn’t remember that his own firm had also done a very comprehensive study of the potential dangers of the reservoir flood pools to homes and calculated, in fact, that more than 5,000 homes were inside the flood pools back in 2000. He said he didn’t remember that in the interview I had with him.”

And Cory Garcia at the Houston Press hoped Santa Claus was able to find everybody who got scattered after Hurricane Harvey washed them out of their homes.