Saturday, October 31, 2015

VICE: "How Houston is Being Duped by Bigots and Zealots"

Nails it right to a cross.

The first half of the article resets the history, the middle portion reveals -- as if we did not know this already, too -- what and who we are dealing with.  And Annise Parker's cogent analysis identifies the root of the problem: ignorance and fear.

"Most Houstonians, like most Americans, have gay and lesbian friends, family, and coworkers. Yet most people don't personally know a transgender person—at least that they know of," Mayor Parker told VICE via email in an attempt to explain the oppositions' effectiveness. "That lack of familiarity means that it can be easy for people to have questions, or concerns, or made to be afraid. People often respond that way to something they haven't experienced before. The fact that they are facing this attack affirms the need for this ordinance."

If you somehow missed it, there's been a national campaign to teach HERO's tolerance that went viral on social media the past month.

Chris Valdez is the co-founder of Primer Grey, a Houston-based design and marketing company that has joined the fight in support of HERO. Along with photographer Lauren Marek, Valdez is tapping social media with a powerful, image-heavy project called we are HERO. The project's goal is to shine a light on a diverse array of Houstonians who would be protected under HERO. They've seen much success since the website's October 1 launch. "Facebook has spread this project further than we could have ever imagined," Valdez says from his Houston office.

"... The main reason was that we had a stance as a company on this, and we knew that as communicators—and often times visual communicators—we had the tools in our toolbox to correct the story. We wanted to talk about the 15 different categories of people that are protected by HERO and what was at stake for them," he says. "We wanted to put faces to those stories and have them look people in the eye and tell them who and what was in jeopardy. It's a lot harder to tell people to their face that you're not interested in protecting them from discrimination. More specifically, we wanted to point out that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is a civil rights conversation; not about one group."

That last point is an important one, and something the mayor recognizes as well: "I don't believe the public is aware that half of the complaints filed during the time HERO was in effect were for racial discrimination," she told us.


"We'll win this," says Valdez. "It's a shame that we're putting equal rights on the ballot, but I know that Houston will come out on the right side of this, because that's the kind of city this is.

Support Houston Unites in any way that you can so that becomes a reality.  If all you can do is make a few phone calls to those who have not voted yet this weekend, while the rains keep us indoors, then that's enough.

(I would rather have fought on the "H-Town: Good for Bidness" turf, but we'll get to fight this battle again if the forces of hate win out.  It WON'T be over after next Tuesday, no matter the outcome.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Local chattering class predicts HERO goes down

Not 'too close to call' as in the headline.

Turnout is up sharply from previous Houston municipal elections, with the largest increases occurring in predominantly Republican and African-American precincts, where a majority of voters are likely to oppose HERO, according to Bob Stein, a political scientist at Rice University. 

“I’ve actually looked at the scenario, and think [HERO] could go down, and go down by a big margin,” Stein said. “That’s the worst part. If it goes down closely, the council members and the mayor might try to amend it, but if it goes down by a big margin, it really becomes difficult to do much with.”

I've thrown rocks at Stein's polling conclusions and then been wrong before, and it's accurate that he called the Bill King surge -- though I still think he has oversold it.  Campos gets King's email and he's been bragging about "he and Turner pulling away" of late.  I'm hoping Stein's misreading the entrails, because even the city's worst political pundit is less committed to a HERO fail.

Mark Jones, another Rice political scientist, agreed that early voting returns, along with public opinion polls showing only a slim margin in favor of the ordinance, should be cause for concern for HERO supporters. 

“If I had to do an even-money bet, I’d say it may not pass, but I think it really is too close to call,” Jones said.

Not Dr. Richard Murray at U of H is less than sanguine also.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political scientist, said the rare ballot presence of a viable Republican mayoral candidate, Bill King, is driving up GOP turnout. Meanwhile, well-known Democratic state Representative Sylvester Turner, the mayoral frontrunner, is fueling an increase among African-American voters, who polls show as less likely to support HERO than whites, or Hispanic or Latino voters. 

“There are significant splits in communities that are otherwise inclined to vote more with Democrats or vote more liberally on HERO that create problems for its passage,” Rottinghaus said. “We’ve had kind of a perfect storm of alignment between conservative politics and conservative voters in a way we don’t normally see in Houston mayoral elections.” 

And finally some turnout analysis that makes sense. 

Through Wednesday, 133,594 Houston voters had cast early or mail-in ballots. With two days left in early voting, that figure was already nearly double the number who cast early or mail-in ballots in 2009, the last time the mayor’s seat was open.

HERO supporters suggest the increase in turnout is part of a historic trend toward more voters casting ballots early as opposed to on Election Day.

But Stein countered that much of the increase has been among “unexpected voters,” which he defines as those who haven’t cast ballots in at least two of the last three mayoral races. A significant number of those unexpected voters are from heavily GOP and black precincts.  

Stein said he now expects overall turnout to be as high as 230,000 of the city’s nearly 1 million voters, up from fewer than 180,000 in 2009. 

Charles thinks Stein's number is too high, at least from what I can tell.  But Stein definitely gets this next premise correct.

Stein said Houston Unites should have done more to highlight the potential negative economic consequences of repealing HERO, an argument the KHOU/KUHF also found to be persuasive, rather than trying to humanize transgender people or characterize the ordinance as “the right thing to do.”

I did my part in this regard.  So did Doug Miller at KHOU.  The LBGT folks focused on a Beyonce' hashtag, and that got them nothing.  Campos is already blaming Houston Unites for not buying teevee on Spanish-language stations.  (This FG always has a ready-made excuse for losing, and it's always because somebody didn't kiss enough Latino ass.  It's sickening how he so consistently plays the La Raza card.)

There's more gloom and doom at the link, but note this at the very end from Rottinghaus.

“How much can the Democrats push Texas to be more liberal?” he said, pointing to an anti-HERO TV ad from GOP Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. “The fact that he’s put his own money behind this shows there’s a growing concern amongst Republicans that as the demographics in Texas change, that some of the politics will change, and the Republicans need to find ways to counteract this progressive movement before it starts.” 

My humble O is that the liberal and progressive non-voters of Houston, Harris County, and the entire state of Texas simply aren't interested enough in the future of this city, county, and state to make the effort to move away from the conservative ways bidness has always been done.  And in my personal precinct mobilizing experience, they do not try hard enough to overcome the obstacles to voting that the TXGOP throws in their way.  Because of outfits like True the Vote, and all the way to the harshest photo ID law in country, too many potential liberal voters have just quit.

(If I'm wrong, please prove me so on Election Day next Tuesday.  It's your last chance.)

Nobody outside Texas is going to help us fix this fucking mess until it looks like we're trying to help ourselves.  Hillary Clinton/Julian Castro supporters need to keep this in mind for next year. 

Update: More scary stories from Texas Monthly.  At least the Texas Progressive Alliance's nonsequiteuse got quoted (though she is not upbeat either).

Update II: Charles throws a little shade on the professors too.

Updates to yesterday's "Last minute Houston elections developments"

Too many to add there so we start fresh.

-- Sometimes I have a little trouble understanding what these two guys are trying to say with respect to voter turnout, and wish for an executive summary.  The dude at the newspaper isn't much more helpful in telling us -- or maybe just me -- What It All Means.

So what I'm divining from all this number-crunching is that voter turnout is goosed up a little all over town, and particularly in Republican strongholds that ring the city.  If Election Day turnout is good -- most of the cautions about turnout note behavior modification, i.e. former ED voters now casting ballots early -- especially in Democratic neighborhoods like Meyerland  (see Kuff about this in the link above), then things might look better for the blue team.  But we can't really know until Stan Stanart flashes some Election Day numbers to, and that might not happen until 9 p.m. (as is his typical).  The five-day weather forecast predicts a rainout for Halloween activities but a gorgeous day on Tuesday.

So in the meantime, work those phones to GOTV, you pizza-eating millennials.

-- The ReBuild Houston referendum was invalidated by a state judge yesterday.

Visiting Judge Buddie Hahn ordered the city to hold a new election on the drainage fee, though that is unlikely to happen any time soon if the city appeals the decision. Hahn sided with a ruling issued by the Texas Supreme Court in June that said the city had obscured the ballot language surrounding the drainage fee, a major funding source for ReBuild Houston.

By omitting the drainage fee, the Supreme Court said, the city failed to adequately inform voters about the intent of the ballot measure.

In a brief court hearing Thursday, Hahn said he had little discretion because the "Supreme Court has just about said as a matter of law" that the election should be voided.

"Has just about said".  That sho' nuff is a Texas judge talkin'.  This is a late hit on the prospects for Steve Costello, the godfather of drainage in H-Town, but the Republican who is most unlikely to be in the runoff for mayor.

And yes, fodder for debates between the two of the four below that are.

-- Watch Isiah Carey's 30-minute forum taped last night with Chris Bell, Adrian Garcia, Bill King, and Sylvester Turner at this link.  And for a couple of good laughs, turn on the subtitles for "lost in translation" errors.

-- HERO added endorsements from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton yesterday alongside the one from Sally Field.  The Houston Unites supporters are worried about being outspent by the haters on teevee, so throw a few bucks their way.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Last minute Houston election developments

Did you get your vote on yet?

-- Via Free Press Houston, the most progressive candidate in the running to be Houston's next mayor talks about "cite and release," a law enforcement policy that would keep first-time offenders out of jail on small-quantity marijuana possession charges.

Sylvester Turner passed on the question "like a hot roach" (as NewsFix Now has related) at the beginning of this year's legislative session, but seems to be evolving, much as he has on marriage equality.  The rest of the field stands in opposition to local control of this kind.  Should make your choice somewhat easier, yes?

-- I received the Houston Black Dems slate card this week, and not only did they endorse the worst candidate for controller running, Carroll Robinson, but also picked Michael Kubosh, a Republican, over three better progressive options.  They inexplicably made no recommendation in AL 2.

These two endorsements of Robinson and Kubosh are the crappiest I have seen in this cycle (and there have been a few misfires on the HGLBT Caucus slate, by the Chronicle and others).  The rotund council member who voted against HERO has worked pretty hard to suck up to the black vote.  Republicans have both castigated and defended Kubosh -- sometimes comically -- in previous elections because of his association with the African American community.

Some in that community have bought what this scoundrel is selling.  It's going to make ousting him all the more difficult.

-- By the way, Fox 26's Isiah Carey -- in the Kubosh photos linked above and at his birthday party last week -- is hosting an 'Uncensored' mayoral forum tonight with "the top 4 candidates only who we determined" (scroll to the bottom): Bell, Garcia, Turner, and King.

-- She's not Beyonce', but The Flying Nun Norma Rae the lady who was married to Mrs. Doubtfire came to Houston to endorse HERO.  We could still use a few more heroes, just to be safe (pun on the haters intended).

Republicans find something new to be angry about

Debates.  Moderators.  Questions.  The media generally.

Republican presidential candidates and their party leadership sharply criticized CNBC moderators who hosted Wednesday night’s debate, and Ted Cruz said the event showed "why the American people don't trust the media".

At the conclusion of the two-hour event in Boulder, Colorado, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus derided the moderators and their questions - an unusual move for the leader of the party that sanctioned the event for candidates seeking the party's nomination for the November 2016 election.

The audience even booed a follow-up question to Ben Carson about his business relationship with a shady vitamin outfit (based in Texas, no surprise).  The exchange:

Carson has been tied to Mannatech, a nutritional-supplement company based in Texas. He appeared in a promotional video and spoke at two conferences hosted by the company, whose supplements have come under fire.

"This is a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplement, with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer. They paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas. And yet your involvement continued, why?" CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked Carson, also questioning whether it spoke to his "vetting process or judgment."

Carson dismissed the question.

"That's easy to answer. I didn't have an involvement with them. Total propaganda. I did a couple speeches for them. I did speeches for other people — they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it's a good product," he said.

The moderator then pointed out that Carson was on the company's webpage. Carson said he didn't give them permission to do that.

After the audience loudly booed the follow-up question, Carson simply said: "They know."

The audience cheered.

CNBC quickly cut to a commercial.  Even Fat Bastard got in on the smackdown. 

"Do you want me to answer or do you want to answer?" he said. "Because, I've got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you're doing is called rude."

Well, he would certainly be the expert.  I've never  -- never -- left watching a debate early, but twenty minutes from the finish line, and further annoyed by the simpering of like-minded, butthurt conservatives on Twitter, I threw in the towel. 

Hey, boys and girl: it's not us.  It's you.  It's your stupidity any arrogance and obnoxious behavior all rolled up into a tiny fist you're shaking at the clouds.  You're not just morons, you're assholes too.

Even one of your brethren at the JV debate gets it, fer crine out loud.

“One of the things that troubles me about the Republican Party is too often we question science that everyone accepts,” (former NY Gov. George Pataki) said during the CNBC economic policy debate.

“It’s ridiculous that in the 21st century, we’re questioning whether or not vaccines are the appropriate way to go,” he continued. “Of course they are. And it’s also not appropriate to think that human activity — putting CO2 into the atmosphere — doesn’t make the earth warmer.”

I guess this is why he doesn't register in the polling.  He's sane.  The mods were nonplussed about the vitriol spewed at them afterwards.

Wednesday night’s event was moderated by CNBC’s Becky Quick, John Harwood and Carl Quintanilla. The audience booed loudly at them several times - sometimes at the encouragement of the candidates.

“There were a lot of conservatives urging them to go hard after the media and that’s what they did,” Harwood said in response to the criticism. He argued that moderators were needed to ask the candidates hard questions about economic policy.

The moderators had little tolerance for candidates trying to interject and respond to another candidate’s answer, frequently cutting off anyone who tried to chime in. That, in turn, drew more jeers from the audience and criticism from the candidates.

It's a long-standing beef, these hurt feelings between Republican presidential candidates, debate moderators, formats, etc.  Remember that Rubio and Christie even whined about their green room accommodations beforehand, and besides Cruz, Trump got in a few good licks about the event while it was happening.

When former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was asked whether Donald Trump has the “moral authority” to be president, the crowd booed.

“Such a nasty question,” Trump said in response.


In his closing statement Donald Trump chastised the network for trying to extend the debate past the two-hour mark, which he and Carson had teamed up to stop.

"In about two minutes I renegotiated it down to two hours so we could get the hell out of here," he bragged.

The candidates were joined afterward by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who told reporters he felt the debate had included too many "gotcha" questions.

"I'm disappointed at the moderators and I'm pretty disappointed at CNBC," he said.

Priebus added that he felt the moderators had done "a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters."

All of the bitching and moaning can be summed in the one-line response from the network.

NBC spokesman Brian Steel responded with a one-sentence statement: "People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions."

Yes, I believe that's really the complaint, isn't it?  If you care to see how the conservative media is reacting... well, it's worse than this, naturally.

After a performance by CNBC moderators that Republicans characterized as both biased and inept, a manager for a top GOP campaign says he will try to organize other campaigns to force the Republican National Committee to make "wholesale change" in the debate process.

In an interview shortly after the debate, Barry Bennett, manager of the Ben Carson campaign, called the session here in Colorado "unfair to everyone" and said the current debate structure should not remain in place. "I think the families need to get together here, because these debates as structured by the RNC are not helping the party," Bennett said. "There's not enough time to talk about your plans, there's no presentation. It's just a slugfest. All we do is change moderators. And the trendline is horrific. ..."

I admire the Mafia reference.  That's some truth.

In coming days there will be many more denunciations of CNBC. But for the campaigns, the bigger issue could be the party. In an effort to avoid repeating the perceived problems of 2012, Priebus took control of the debate process. Now, if the Carson campaign and others unite, Priebus could lose some of that control.

I'll look forward to debates that focus exclusively on whatever the candidates want to talk about: whether that's a border wall, or denying the existence of climate change, that vaccines cause autism, that Planned Parenthood needs to be destroyed and so on and so forth.  You know, matters of serious concern not to the nation but just the GOP base of angry white guys.  I'll anticipate that they will have moderators who'll ask them tough questions, like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.   And I hope it will all be televised on Fox, so I don't have to watch anything but the Twitter feed of circle-jerking conservatives isolated in their giant soap bubble, mansplaining everything to the rest of the world.

It's a shame Jeb Bush won't be there, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Third GOP debate tonight as Carson rises, Trump and Bush falter

The Republican candidates for president will gather Wednesday for their third debate amid fresh volatility in an already chaotic race, with Ben Carson surging past Donald Trump in Iowa and one-time front-runner Jeb Bush under pressure to prove he's still a viable candidate for the GOP nomination.

We'll hope for fireworks, but the two guys going in opposite directions are pretty low energy.

The soft-spoken Carson has been a low-key presence in the first two GOP debates, but the retired neurosurgeon is likely to get more attention from moderators — as well as his fellow candidates — after a series of preference polls show him atop the field in Iowa.

Trump has already shown he's eager to take on Carson, jabbing him for his speaking style and raising questions about his Seventh Day Adventist faith.

"We'll see how Ben holds up to the scrutiny," Trump said Tuesday on MSNBC.

Sounds like fun.  As Jeb spent the weekend here in Houston with the clan, and they all spent the weekend on the phone dialing for dollars, most of us see a ship with its ass high up in the air.

Meanwhile, Bush will be grasping for momentum after one of the most trying stretches of his White House campaign. Slower-than-expected fundraising has led Bush to slash spending and overhaul his campaign structure, and he's voiced frustration with the way the unusual race has progressed.

If the election is going to be about fighting to get nothing done, he says, "I don't want any part of it."


Early on in the campaign, he tapped his father's campaign finance network, and they gave ... but now, they've given to the limit, and he's not collecting new donors. The base of the party has turned its collective back on him. His cash flow is an ebb tide; in the third quarter fundraising period, he spent nearly as much as he took in, and has a pittance, given the realities of modern campaign financing, left on hand.

This is what happens you place too much emphasis on the viability of a candidate by virtue of how much in campaign funds they can raise.  Remember that the committee on endorsements for the HGLBT Caucus made this mistake, and was overruled by their membership.

On Friday - the news day when these people hope no one is looking - Bush announced a major evisceration of the campaign. Mass firings of staff members, and a 40 percent cut in payroll, including funds for travel ... and if you can't travel as a candidate, you're not a candidate; you're just a guy on TV with an exclamation point after your name on the campaign posters you can no longer afford to print.

Bush's fall is no surprise, and neither is Trump's, really.  That they are being eclipsed by a low-talking, sleepy-eyed, real black brain surgeon who seems blissfully unaware of Godwin's Law is.

While Carson is unknown to many Americans, he's built a loyal following with tea party-aligned voters and religious conservatives. His campaign has started running new television advertisements in early voting states that center on his experience as a doctor and highlight his status as a political outsider.

Carson has raised eyebrows with his incendiary comments about Muslims and references to Nazis and slavery on the campaign trail, rhetoric he's made no apologies for. His standing in early states has only appeared to strengthen with each controversial comment.

Carson's biggest weakness may be his glaring lack of specific policy proposals. The issues listed on his campaign website are vague, including a tax plan that calls for a "fairer, simpler, and more equitable" system. On foreign policy, he's said, "all options should remain on the table when dealing with international bullies," such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carson could be pushed Wednesday on domestic policy, with debate host CNBC promising to focus on economic issues, including taxes and job growth.

With Trump after him, with his fairly glaring lack of communication skills, I don't see this as being a good night for the doctor.  As usual I'll be watching Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for their abilities to pick up the pieces from Carson, Trump, and Bush when it becomes more apparent that they are losing causes.  With respect to Rubio...

The Florida senator’s campaign high command probably couldn’t have planned their candidate’s trajectory to this point any better. Actually, they did plan it, and they’re right where they want to be: still out of the harsh spotlight that comes with being the frontrunner but right in striking distance as the race heads into the final three months before Iowa. Rubio’s formula for these debates is incredibly simple: deliver his talking points with ease and style, crack a few jokes and flash that easy grin, and avoid squabbles with other candidates. One problem this time: Jeb Bush may be looking for a fight.

With respect to Cruz...

Cruz has been waiting a long time now for Trump and Carson to implode so he can snatch up their supporters. He can wait a while longer. He’s got plenty of cash. But of anyone in the field, he has the greatest incentive to sow doubt among conservatives about Carson’s conservative credentials. Iowa is fertile ground for Cruz, and he won’t want Carson to get too much momentum there.

I won't care much what any of the rest do or say unless it's crazy enough to make social media waves, and I'll be watching a lot more of the second game of the World Series anyway.

Update: Here's the full schedule from Mediaite.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Reading the turnout tea leaves on the mayor's race

First, this hit my mailbox yesterday.

Campos has already whined about it, so I'm just posting to let him know that an English-speaking household received it.  As he notes, the CWA, whose name is on it as sender, is supporting Sylvester Turner, and the "Vote 'No' on Adrian Garcia" piece -- which for the record is not possible; one cannot 'no' on a mayoral candidate, only for some other one -- is indeed designed to do what Turner wants it to do.

"For me, it doesn’t matter who’s in second or third," Turner said after shaking hands at a retirement community on the city's southwest side. "My deal is on November the third, I want to make sure that we’re No. 1 and that No. 2 is so far behind that it really doesn’t matter."

He's not shaking off Bill King, however, and that's the fellow all the pundits are predicting will join the former state representative in the runoff, based on the surging early vote in certain parts of town.

"We're seeing heavy early voting turnout in places like the west side and Clear Lake (which are traditional Republican strongholds)," Stein said. "We're also seeing heavy early voting turnout in African-American precincts." [...] "I assume that's due to two things: the mayor's race where Sylvester Turner's a very prominent black (candidate) and a very large number of African Americans voting for controller and at large (council seats). So I think they're moving the early vote. Any candidate who knows who their base is likes to get their vote out early."

Why conservative black voters wouldn't be turning out for Ben Hall, who has sold himself as the candidate most strongly against HERO, is part of Stein's predictive analysis based on his previous poll -- which I castigated but which has been verified to some degree by later polling -- in which he raved about King's surge, and does so again.

Meanwhile, polling has indicated Republican voters have been breaking for King over Steve Costello, who's also angling for GOP votes. So a high turnout at traditionally Republican polling places like the Trini Mendenhall Sosa Center on Houston's west side, is good news for King, Stein said.

"There were so many undecided Republican voters who were breaking in our poll very clearly towards Bill King," Stein said. "That would be a real indication that he's likely to be in the runoff."

This is the safe bet (a black Democrat, long the front-runner by every measure, and a white Republican) and we'll just wait to see if these professional prognosticators are right.   I am hoping they are wrong, and so do the supporters of Costello and Garcia, too.  Both of those last two have had their troubles.

“No question, he simply failed to respond to this, and voters penalized him accordingly," said Bob Stein, a Rice University political scientist who predicted last week that Garcia would continue to be haunted by the slide through Election Day.


"... Costello, I think, is just not able to win support from the base Republican vote that's out there that he should have been able to win as a three-term incumbent councilmember."

Down the ballot, if King makes the runoff and you have two At Large Republicans -- Michael Kubosh and Jack Christie -- in runoffs with Democrats, that December dynamic (Turner vs. King) may help them stay in office.  Both may avoid the runoff altogether if HERO is indeed driving scads of fearful, angry conservatives to the polls.  If two Democrats -- Turner and Chris Bell, Turner and Garcia -- move on to the final round, then the fortunes of those two AL CMs change entirely; Republicans without a mayoral hopeful stay home for the holiday voting.  Those two races, AL 3 and AL 5, are what I'll watch on Election Night.  Their outcomes will determine whether Democrats have a good night or not (and we may be castigating liberal non-voters again on the morning after).

Who else is helped by continued strong turnout among white conservatives and African American voters?  Perhaps Chris Oliver in AL 1, Andrew Burks and Eric Dick in AL 2, and Laurie Robinson in AL 3 4, all with a measure of name recognition and some with elected experience.  Who's hurt?  Maybe the white progressives: Lane Lewis in AL 1, incumbent David Robinson in AL 2, Doug Peterson in AL 3, and even not-Caucasian Philippe Nassif in AL 5.  GOTV efforts need to be energized now for these campaigns.

Still, the electorate for Houston municipal contests has historically skewed old, white, and Democratic, so if there's any trend left to discern, it's whether that one holds or gets revised after this election.

I'm watching things closely, just like you.

Update: Texas Leftist bemoans the missing millennial vote.

Update II: An email from the Turner campaigns ups the ante.

More than 15,000 people who haven't voted in a mayoral election in years have already voted early in this election.

We don't know why they're voting this time around, but we do know that makes this election unpredictable.

They're zombies, and they're voting against HERO, because they don't like heroes of any kind.  So for God's sake, get out there and cancel them out -- I mean, their votes.

Halfway through EV and HERO supporters are nervous

First there's Greg and then there's Charles.  Carl Whitmarsh also mentioned the boost in numbers from Republican city council districts that put them well ahead of Latino ones.  As everyone always says at this point in the election cycle, it could mean something or not.

The Chron primes the pump, stoking some scary stories about the Homophobe Apocalypse.

In an incendiary, lengthy address, (good old Doctor Steven) Hotze went on to link America's war against Nazi Germany to the war on gay rights, urging all gay Houstonians to flee to San Francisco. The sword, he said, was meant to represent God's word, the strongest weapon against the gay community.

"The homosexuals are hate-mongers," Hotze said at the time. "They hate God, they hate God's word, they hate Christ, they hate anything that's good and wholesome and right. They want to pervert everything."

Fear is, as everybody knows by now, a primary human motivator.  In my post from January of 2014 -- in which I predicted the Wendy Davis/Texas Democratic debacle ten months ahead of time -- my advice then was for Democrats to go long on fear.  I'm not certain whether they took my advice or not, but they got wiped out anyway.

And here we see history perhaps on the verge of repeating itself in Houston, one of the nation's great and diverse cities, but with an ugly, hateful underbelly that dresses up and goes to church in order to magnify its hatred -- not of the "sin" but the sinners, despite what their Bibles tell them -- in a way that is sometimes difficult to comprehend.  (It's not so difficult if your history book reflects the fact that Christians and crusades are frequently mentioned in the same sentence as "just wars", but that's a digression.)

So the fear might come from stupidity or it might come from ignorance (two different things; ignorance suggests being uninformed and a willingness to learn), but wherever it originates, it's hard to defeat in a short, quick battle.  When the haters led by the pastors obfuscate and prevaricate about the ordinance, the rational response is to answer with the facts.

The Rev. Becky Edmiston-Lange, co-pastor of the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, dismissed concerns over sexual predation as "displaying a fundamental ignorance of transgender reality."

"It tries to raise the specter of fear of children and women being molested," she said. "People don't stop and think we have transgender children who have to be protected, and, frankly, are more at risk of being attacked for non-conforming gender identity than straight kids."

Edmiston-Lange said her church "historically has thought of God as a God of love, and that all human beings are God's children. God doesn't discriminate, and neither should the law."

Or as Mayor Annise Parker broke it down...

"They have taken a misunderstood group, demonized them, and then flat-out lied about the consequences of the ordinance," Parker said. "They are less understood. And I can't say - even with transgender friends and acquaintances and a long association with the transgender community - that I completely understand it. But I don't have to understand it. I just have to give another human being respect."

The pacifist in me understands that love conquers all, that tolerance is the way.  The warrior in me says that you need to fight fire with fire, drive out the stupid, educate the ignorant.   With less than a week to go in EV, before Election Day in one week, now might be a good time to focus on fighting and winning.  We can work on healing the divisions after the mongrels have been vanquished.  Once love rules, we can focus on understanding.  For now, let's abandon peace.

Go back to work and don't stop until the polls close next Tuesday night.  That's what the haters are doing, after all.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Frightful Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is scouting out pumpkin patches as it brings you this week's roundup.  Here's 14 Halloween costumes you really shouldn't wear this year (or any year).  The Great Trumpkin is fair game, but may be too popular and thus prevalent.  I'd go as Bernie Sanders if I were doing any cosplay myself (just shave the top of of your head, spray paint the rest white, and put on a suit).

Off the Kuff looked at early voting trends for 2015.

Socratic Gadfly told people who had not yet been to the polls to vote No to 6 of 7 on the constitutional amendments propositions.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos explores the devastation to women's health care options in Texas, compliments of the state's far right Republican policies: The Texas GOP and its unforgiving War on Women.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is horrified at the Republicans use of state power to abuse Planned Parenthood, their patients, their employees, their associates and the people of Texas.

All of the political mail, door hangers, and assorted communication from the upcoming election for 2015 was photographed, discussed, and then recycled by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Texas Leftist makes his endorsements in the 2015 Houston elections.

Egberto Willies branded the corporate media "failed" as their sluggish response to the Big Pharma Bro's immoral price hike of an HIV medication revealed them as complicit in the scamming of Americans by the drug companies.

The Lewisville Texan Journal had more information on the road rage shooting incident in that city.

Realizing the value of everyday life, which when asserted against the elite and insider absence of values of the establishments of both major parties is a possible starting point for an uprising or people's movement, Neil at All People Have Value took two pictures of traffic in Houston. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas Blog analyzes State Propositions 1 and 7, and Streetsblog advocates against Prop 7.

The San Antonio Current reports on the 30.06 signs that Rep. Diego Bernal is providing local businesses who do not want to allow open carry on their premises.

Fascist Dyke Motors voted and feels good about it.

Texas Watch provides five things to know when filing a wildfire insurance claim.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub watched with mouth agape as Greg Abbott took the side of cancer against Texans, and then bragged about it.

Bekah McNeel vents her shame and outrage at being fooled by Volkswagon.

The Texas Election Law Blog answers your questions about homeless voting.

Prairie Weather once again observes that Congressional and state Republicans are coordinating their attacks on healthcare, specifically Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

Yellow Doggerel Democrat noted the pro-immigration protestor at a Trump rally who was kicked and dragged from the room as the audience chanted "USA, USA".

Somervell County Salon remembers why she dislikes Hillary Clinton so much.

And Kate Braun at the Rag Blog wants to be certain we all celebrate Samhain -- err, Halloween, in the proper pagan way.

Friday, October 23, 2015

All the political literature I received this cycle

I think that's all of it, anyway.  In the bottom right corner you see the three door hangers I got during the summer.  As best I can tell my door hasn't been knocked upon since Labor Day.

It should be noted that I am a "Triple-D" household according to the public voting records.  That means I have voted in the three most recent Democratic primaries -- 2014, 2012, 2010.  To the best of my knowledge, I have not received a telephone call from any campaign.  At least if they called me, they didn't leave a message.

I'm not sure why the Christie and Hall campaigns would drop literature at a DDD home, but there you have it.  My precinct is purple; blue in presidential years and red in midterms.  Can you imagine the volume of mail those dumbass Democrats who vote in GOP primaries have gotten?

I finally managed to vote on Wednesday, so if any of these campaigns are still mailing me after that, then they're more stupid than I can comprehend.  The SOS can merge/purge voters from the non's overnight, at least as I understand it, so that campaigns aren't still trying to persuade people who have already cast a ballot.  And to be fair, direct mail consultants still have to deal with the lag of a few days between printing and dropping (into your mailbox).

Tom McCasland wins largest mail piece; two 8 1/2 x 11s.  They stick up the highest out of my green recycle bin.  Amanda Edwards wins for frequency: three.  Statewide Prop 1 backers spent the most out of the subset of non-candidate-related mailings.  Chris Brown should look at the camera more often (all those shots of him looking down or away project weakness, IMHO).

One other thing: my next door neighbor -- not a Democratic primary voter for at least the past six years; remember I've been a precinct captain and worked the walk lists -- received an Adrian Garcia mailing (letter, probably donation solicitation) so either the former sheriff is wasting his considerable sum of money to a far greater extent than everyone else, or is soliciting Republican voters.  I'm guessing it's the latter.

I can count on one hand the teevee commercials I have seen; two for Steve Costello and one for Garcia.  But I don't watch much teevee either, certainly not local, news or otherwise, so I'm not a good barometer of that medium's reach.

Is anybody besides me embarrassed about this?  That this is what our local demonstration of democracy plutocracy/oligarchy looks like?  Frankly I would rather be bum-rushed by ten people with pushcards at the polling place.  At least I can say 'no thank you'.  I can't do anything with all of this crap except recycle it.

What would seven million bucks -- and that's just the mayorals, mind you -- have been better spent on?  How many potholes would that have filled if you stuffed them with cash and just topped them off with asphalt?

We need a better democracy than "who has/raises the most money".  Keep in mind that Costello, Bill King, and Ben Hall -- all losers, hopefully -- self-funded their campaigns.  If they're so rich, why ain't they smart?  But is it better to be held captive by the wealthiest, like Garcia and Sylvester Turner could be?

A better political system is needed, please.  One without so much money.

"What Time is the Coronation" scattershooting

-- Make way for the Queen.  I wonder who the Republicans will run in 2020?

#FreeHillary became a trend after eleven hours of Q&A.  This one, though, is best.


-- Trump lost his lead in Iowa, and promptly blamed Monsanto.

Later, he deleted it and blamed a "young intern".  Oh, those millennials.

-- The real black brain surgeon takes over front-runner status in the Hawkeye State, and naturally gives all the glory to God.

You know, the draft movement built and I finally said, "Lord, I don't particularly want to do this, it's not on my bucket list, but if you want me to do it, you open the doors and I'll walk through them and if you close the doors, I'll sit down."

And the doors began flying open, much to the consternation of all the professional class and all the pundits who said, "It's impossible, you can't possibly put together a national organization as a political neophyte, you don't know any of the people, there's no money. You can't do it, it's impossible, forget about it."

And yet, you see, it’s happening. And they don’t understand the power of God.

Who does God pick in the World Series, Doctor?

God is also telling Carson that Medicare should be abolished and that the Queen is going to jail.  (That's probably Sean Hannity doing the talking there, to be fair.)

-- Turnout for Houston's elections looks a little stronger than years past, but not all that much.  Some of the EV boxes in Republican parts of town are heavy, and in predominantly African American precincts as well, which might be good for those candidates (black and/or conservative) in close races.  With the understanding that Latino voters don't live in clustered neighborhoods so much as they live all over the city, I don't see anything suggesting a "historic turnout" for "the community" that might be helping Adrian Garcia.  And it's still far too early to divine any significant trend.

When Campos says "don't focus on the votes, focus on the percentages", remember that percentages don't count in the tabulation of election winners.  I wish I didn't have to keep pointing out what a moron this guy is, but he just makes it necessary.  He was a joke ten years ago, and it's still not funny after a decade.  One of his clients may be replacing Ed Gonzales on council; she has no primary voting history going back three cycles (scroll halfway down to District H).  The Chronicle endorsed her, but they also endorsed Mitt Romney for president and Ted Cruz for the US Senate.  She might be a nice lady and even a qualified candidate, but why would you vote for someone who has held office as a school trustee and now wants a promotion to city council who can't be bothered to vote in primary elections?  Her questionnaire says she is not educating voters on photo ID.  That's real helpful for a Latina candidate in a predominantly Latino/a district.

Update: Please note Edward Ybarra's remarks in the comments section.

Seems to me there are better options for District H representative (except for one, that is).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More from Jill Stein's Texas tour

McAllen (click to enlarge all photos):

At Texas A&M International University:

Jill Stein, pre candidata presidencial por el Partido Verde (Green Party) visitó Laredo el fin de semana para detallar su plataforma política.

Bajo el nombre de “Green New Deal” (Nuevo Compromiso Verde), la plataforma política de Stein proyecta crear millones de empleos con un sueldo suficiente para vivir, a la vez que propone crear energía renovable 100% limpia para el 2030.

El domingo por la noche, y durante dos horas, Stein se presentó en un evento organizado por TAMIU Normal y el Partido Verde del Condado de Webb.

“Muchos de ustedes se preguntaran ¿qué hace una doctora en un trabajo sucio como la política? Bien, me veo a mi misma como una médico política”, dijo Stein. “Con generacionales ciclos de pobreza, guerras interminables, familias sin hogar, abusos a los derechos de los inmigrantes y mucho mas, es necesario hacer algo”.

Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein got a first-hand look at illegal immigration and the robust oil and natural gas activity just south of San Antonio during a Monday visit to the Eagle Ford Shale.

The presidential hopeful visited U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's Karnes County Residential Center for illegal immigrant families, the site of an oil well blowout near Karnes City and the location of a proposed oil and a natural gas waste dump in Nordheim.

San Antonio:

And more from Houston, last weekend.

And starring Biff Tannen as Donald Trump

October 21, 2015: The future has finally arrived, only hoverboards aren't commonplace, DeLoreans still don't fly, and the Mets -- not the Cubs -- won oops, made it to the World Series.  There's another thing from the seminal BTTF films that we have to hope doesn't come true: Biff Tannen getting elected president.  John Vibes at AntiMedia.

We have now officially surpassed the future date foretold in the Back To The Future films, and with the series back in the news, many have noticed a striking similarity between the antagonist “Biff,” and recent presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In Back To The Future Part II, Biff Tannen is seen as a casino tycoon who uses his riches to influence the Republican party. Biff’s casino was called the Pleasure Palace Hotel. Trump has numerous hotels and casinos. Biff was also known to have been married and remarried on many separate occasions, just like Trump. If photos of the two are placed side-by-side, they even look alike.

In recent months, the similarities between Tannen and Trump have been pointed out a number of times, but a recent interview with one of the film’s original writers shows the character of Biff Tannen actually is based on Donald Trump. The connection is no coincidence.

Bob Gale, writer of Back to the Future Part II, told the Daily Beast in a recent interview that Trump was their inspiration.

“We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding? You watch Part II again and there’s a scene where Marty confronts Biff in his office and there’s a huge portrait of Biff on the wall behind Biff, and there’s one moment where Biff kind of stands up and he takes exactly the same pose as the portrait? Yeah,” Gale said.

“Yeah. That’s what we were thinking about,” he added.

Additionally, on the Internet Movie Database trivia page for the film, Trump is listed as an inspiration for the character.

This is really kinda scary.  Make sure you are voting next November, and as a trial run, go ahead and vote this year, will you please?

Biden and Webb and the next GOP debate

-- Joe Biden shocked his own team with his announcement.

Many of the rumors about a potential Biden campaign suggested a decision would be tied to Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the House Benghazi committee on Thursday. Because of Clinton’s impending hearing and the fact the first Democratic presidential debate took place on October 13, the chatter in the vice president’s office was reaching a fever pitch. Biden’s staff had been engaged in constant speculation and was aware that the various deadlines that had been thrown out in media reports about his potential campaign had come and gone.

From the link embedded above, what I wrote on the morning of October 14: "(I)f Clinton can hold her own against the rapidly crumbling Benghazi witch-hunters later this month, Joe Biden will not enter the race."

(Yesterday) morning, many members of Biden’s staff figured he would make his move on the weekend. They wondered whether his remarks would be pegged to the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday. Others thought he might make a statement in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Suddenly, Biden’s secretary made an announcement. He would be speaking in the Rose Garden shortly after noon. Biden’s staff had approximately a fifteen minute warning. Based on the location, they assumed that, if his statement was related to 2016, he would be exiting the race. They ran over to hear him speak. After exhausting their minds and bodies, Biden’s team officially learned the vice president would not enter the fray along with the rest of the country.

-- Jim Webb dropped out on Tuesday -- sure seems like old news already, doesn't it? -- but still might run as an indy. 

Long-shot candidate Jim Webb said Tuesday he is dropping his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and will explore the possibility of an independent bid.

"Our country is more important than a label," the former Virginia senator said during a news conference held a week after the first Democratic debate of the 2016 election cycle.

Webb, a former Republican who won election to the Senate as a Democrat in 2006, said both parties are too influenced by big money that tends to favor "extremes" and promote gridlock. He said he has agreements and disputes with policies in each party and would be a strong independent voice.

"Our political process is jammed up," Webb said. "It needs an an honest broker."

While saying "this country needs a new dynamic," Webb did not formally declare an independent candidacy, saying that "I'm thinking about all my options." Webb did not give a time frame for a decision, saying he wants to talk to a variety of people first and see how much support he could garner.

I just don't see the smallest opening in either party for a moderate Republican to run for president.  Do you?

-- It's still a week off, but the rumblings of the next GOP debate are already being heard.  You might recall that the co-leaders last week briefly held it hostage before CNBC ceded to their demands.

(Donald) Trump and another Republican candidate, Ben Carson, submitted a letter to CNBC stating their opposition to the debate criteria. “Neither Mr. Trump or Dr. Carson will participate in your debate if it is longer than 120 minutes including commercials and does not include opening and closing statements,” said the letter, which was written by Michael Glassner of Trump’s campaign and Ed Brookover of Carson’s.

Okay, you win.  It looks like Christie and Kasich and Paul are still registering a beep or two on life support, so they get to be on the varsity stage.  Not Bobby Jindal again, though.  The biggest news seems to be the rapid deflation of Carly Failurina.

In the CNN/ORC survey published Tuesday, Fiorina garnered just 4% support, behind six other Republican candidates and tied with two others.

"Fiorina's decline comes across the demographic and political spectrum, with her support now topping out at 8% among those with college degrees. Last month, she stood at 22% among the same group," wrote CNN's polling director, Jennifer Agiesta.

"Fiorina has dropped 11 points among women and 12 points among men, fallen 18 points among independents, 17 points among those age 50 or older, and 15 points among conservatives."

Fiorina surged to become a top-tier contender after breakout performances in the first two Republican debates. She was at 15%, in second place behind Republican front-runner Donald Trump, in a mid-September CNN/ORC poll.

Let's hope her lies about Planned Parenthood clandestine videotapes have done her in. 

-- The most remarkable development in my humble O is Trump devastating the candidacy of Jeb! Bush, with their Twitter war over 9/11.

I don't know if Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination. But even if he doesn't, it's increasingly clear he's going to destroy Jeb Bush before he loses.

Over the past week, Trump and Bush have been in an argument that basically boils down to the question of was George W. Bush president on 9/11/2001?

Trump insists that Bush was president both prior to and during the 9/11 attacks, and he was therefore at least partly responsible for the security failures that permitted the tragedy. And to Trump's credit, there is considerable evidence that George W. Bush was president on 9/11/2001.

Jeb Bush's position is harder to parse: He argues that his brother was only responsible for what happened after 9/11, suggesting, perhaps, that someone else bore the responsibilities of the presidency on 9/11/2001. Or, to be a bit kinder to his position, he argues that the measure of responsibility as president isn't whether something like 9/11 happens, but whether it happens again.

This, as we know, has been the Democratic argument for as long as there has been a 9/11 to have a discussion about.  Presidential daily briefings in mid-August of 2001, at the Crawford 'ranch', entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack US", anyone?

The result is this absolutely brutal interview CNN's Jake Tapper conducted with Bush. "If your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all," Tapper asks, "how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?"

Bush's response is almost physically painful to watch.

Go watch it.  Nutgraf:

Trump has a bully's instinct for finding someone else's true weaknesses. His continued crack that Bush is a "low-energy" candidate is devastating precisely because it identifies a weakness not just in Bush's campaign style, but in the nature of his campaign.

Just nails it.

Now Trump has pulled Bush into an even more dangerous quagmire: his brother's presidency. Trump is reminding every Republican voter that nominating Jeb Bush will mean running a general election campaign with two disadvantages. First, Republicans will have to answer for George W. Bush's failures in a way they wouldn't if they nominated Marco Rubio or Carly Fiorina or Donald Trump; and second, they'll need to somehow explain why they're holding Hillary Clinton responsible for Obama's presidency even as they don't hold George W. Bush responsible for George W. Bush's presidency.

And Trump, having realized how weak Bush is on this issue, isn't stopping. He's moved from 9/11 to the Iraq War:

Update: More from Steve Benen.

More than 14 years after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush/Cheney administration’s handling of the crisis is generally untouchable for much of the domestic political world. This is especially true in Republican politics, where George W. Bush’s documented 9/11 missteps are not only ignored, his response to the terrorist attack is actually seen as a triumph.
The “Bush kept us safe” line, despite its conflict with the real world, is actually quite common in Republican circles.
And yet, Trump has no use for GOP orthodoxy and has no qualms about broaching a line that most Republicans go out of their way to avoid. For his part, Jeb Bush was not only caught off-guard trying to explain why Obama should be blamed for Benghazi but his brother shouldn’t be blamed for 9/11, the Florida Republican also finds himself once again replacing his usual campaign message with a public defense of his brother’s failed tenure.

Don't kid yourself, ladies and gentlemen: Jeb Bush is NOT going to be the nominee of the Republicans.  On that you can make bank.

Marco Rubio -- who was in town just yesterday and played to an adoring throng that rained cash on him -- or Ted Cruz.  The two currently running just behind Carson and Trump, like I said on October 9.  Kevin Drum at Mother Jones caught up with me a week later.

If you're reading this blog (or if you're reading everything I'm reading), then you look smarter than all your friends.