Sunday, January 31, 2016

A-Skeered uh Soshulism

Ted (he's blocked me from commenting at his shop, so I'm going to be a little rougher on him even than usual).

Bernie Sanders (and his supporters) think they can explain his socialist identity to the voters, and that voters will flock to him once they understand his "democratic socialism". I am a democratic socialist myself, and I wish that was true -- but I don't think it is.

We'll stop there and let you read the rest if you choose.  I really and truly feel sorry for Ted; he suffers from the very worst case of "Battered Democrat Syndrome" I have ever observed.  Be sure and follow the link therein to Molly Ivins declaring in 2006 she wouldn't support Hillary Clinton.

John (who is only occasionally full of wit, and not this particular time).

Now Socialists across the country have found their re-emerging leader, Senator Bernie Sanders, to carry their flag and to possibly lead a major party with established infrastructure and resources. Sanders, the former 8-year Chairman of the Liberty Union Party has given them a once in a lifetime opportunity for their socialist ideas of free health care, free college, and never ending peace and love. 
The Affordable Healthcare Act is no where near socialism. Not even close. It was nothing more than an overhaul of our insurance industries policies and regulations. Unfortunately facts don't matter to the hoards of ignorant voters the GOP has learned to manipulate. Just one shout of SOCIALISM! and the battle is lost, the ideas are dead. Sanders should know this. After spending over 2 decades disguised as an independent his socialist ideas have failed in Congress.

Update (2/1): Two posts in two days on the same topic -- on a previous schedule of about one post every two weeks -- qualifies as an obsession.

I think he was going for the insult but was overcome with passive-aggressiveness, not to mention he's just plain wrong about Sanders' legislative record.  For his part, though, John gets the point that Ted misses; "soshulism" is an equal opportunity smear.  Those hammer-and-sickle ads Claire McCaskill has ominously warned us about will be employed irrespective of whether Sanders can pull out the nomination or not.

And once more for the sake of clarity: I support Sanders' campaign, have donated and planted a yard sign, but do not think he can be nominated for reasons that do not include "soshulism".  And I was on the record about that two weeks before Black Lives Matters inserted itself into the national conversation.

What's being used here is -- as we know well by now -- garden variety fear, a motivational tool the Republicans use constantly and the power of which fearful and intellectually lazy Democrats understand.  On evidence in the GOP primary: Ted Cruz has been stunned to watch Donald Trump get to the right of him by using the worst possible language, and that has turned into the success model for 2016: say anything, push the buttons of people's worst instincts, and let the chips fall.

It's sad to see Democrats Red-scaring and Red-baiting, but hey... as long as our gal wins, right? That's just politics, after all.  Exciting our base, driving up turnout and all that.  About the best thing that can be said about the 2016 primary battles is that we're not hearing that "too much money" complaint.  Reuters, from last summer:

"There's growing public awareness about rich people trying to buy elections and that makes the task of winning all the more difficult," said Darrell West, the author of "Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust," and the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Once we get Trump against Clinton in the general, he can use that "I can't be bought" tactic on her. Won't that be something to see?

How bad does socialism look compared to plutocracy and fascism?  That's the right poll question.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Clinton and her e-mails again

The issue:

The Obama administration confirmed for the first time Friday that Hillary Clinton's home server contained closely guarded government secrets, censoring 22 emails that contained material requiring one of the highest levels of classification. The revelation comes three days before Clinton competes in the Iowa presidential caucuses. 
State Department officials also said the agency's Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus are investigating if any of the information was classified at the time of transmission, going to the heart of Clinton's defense of her email practices.

The scalded, scolding response from the Hillary sycophant.

The response from the White House:

Asked Friday if he had "certainty and confidence" that Clinton will not be indicted over the email controversy, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said any decision to prosecute Clinton would rest with the Justice Department. 
"That is a decision to be made solely by independent prosecutors," Earnest said. "But again, based on what we know from the Department of Justice, it does not seem to be headed in that direction."

The response from former federal prosecutor Joseph DiGenova:

However, as we previously noted, the implications are tough for the DOJ: if they indict, they crush their own candidate’s chances of the presidency. If they do not, someone will leak the details and the FBI will revolt… The leaking of the Clinton emails has been compared to as the next “Watergate” by former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova this week, if current FBI investigations don’t proceed in an appropriate manner. The revelation comes after more emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal email have come to light. 
“[The investigation has reached] a critical mass,” DiGenova told radio host Laura Ingraham when discussing the FBI’s still pending investigation. Though Clinton is still yet to be charged with any crime, DiGenova advised on Tuesday that changes may be on the horizon. The mishandling over the classified intelligence may lead to an imminent indictment, with DiGenova suggesting it may come to a head within 60 days. 
“I believe that the evidence that the FBI is compiling will be so compelling that, unless [US Attorney General Loretta Lynch] agrees to the charges, there will be a massive revolt inside the FBI, which she will not be able to survive as an attorney general,” he said. 
“The intelligence community will not stand for that. They will fight for indictment and they are already in the process of gearing themselves to basically revolt if she refuses to bring charges.” 
The FBI also is looking into Clinton’s email setup, but has said nothing about the nature of its probe. Independent experts say it is highly unlikely that Clinton will be charged with wrongdoing, based on the limited details that have surfaced up to now and the lack of indications that she intended to break any laws.

And the characterization of DiGenova by Media Matters.

Right-wing media are reporting discredited Republican lawyer Joseph DiGenova's baseless claim that Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committed "numerous federal crimes" with her private email use, failing to note that Clinton is not the target of the FBI's investigation and that the probe is not criminal in nature.

Make of it all what you wish.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The elephant WAS in the room

But he left shortly after the opening and ambled over to MSNBC and CNN, where the circus reconvened.

Moderator Megyn Kelly asked Senator Cruz to address “the elephant not in the room,” referring to his absent rival. “I’m a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly,” replied Cruz, getting the “Trump portion out of the way.” Read more.

It will be a long time before Ted says something I agree with again.  Or maybe just a few minutes.

Cruz later criticized the moderators, suggesting that they were trying to incite his rivals to gang up on him. “If you ask one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage,” said the Texas senator, in another mocking reference to the absent GOP frontrunner. Read more.

Despite these clever moments, it was not Cruz's finest hour last night.  It actually may have been his worst, in a nasty exchange with Marco Rubio on immigration.  And it almost surely was Rand Paul's best, as well as Jim Gilmore's in the undercard.  John Kasich and Chris Christie did not advance whatever their remaining prospects are.  Carly Fiorina was terrible and Ben Carson is just out of his element.  There's a reason these two candidates' numbers deflated just as rapidly as they inflated.  Even diehard Republicans see them for what they are.

As for Trump's counter-event, it seemed both understated and overblown, certainly in the eyes of his supporters.  Later this morning the ratings for both of last night's reality shows will be announced, and one side will have something to brag about.

Update: Nothing for anybody to brag about.

Thursday night’s Fox News/Google GOP Debate attracted better ratings than candidate Donald Trump’s counter-event and the previous Jan. 14 Republican presidential debate on Fox Business that featured the billionaire real estate investor and reality TV star. 
According to CNN Money, the main stage portion of Thursday night’s debate on Fox News drew in 12.5 million viewers. The previous Republican presidential debate on Fox Business attracted 11 million viewers. MSNBC and CNN reported a combined 2.7 million person viewership during Trump’s fundraiser for veterans. 
Though last night’s debate beat out the previous contest, it was the second-lowest rated GOP debate of the 2016 campaign season.

Ted Cruz will emerge from Iowa next week as the last chance to stop the Trump train, because he's doing all the little things a politician has to do to win there.  If he upsets the Donald next Monday night, you shouldn't be surprised.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Democrats also squabble about their debates

Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Hillary Clinton - Caricatures

Two days ago the Manchester (NH) Union Leader, the newspaper of record in the Granite State, got together with MSNBC and scheduled a "unsanctioned" (not approved by the DNC) Democratic candidates debate, to be held on February 4 and moderated by Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd. That prompted Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley to say yes, and Bernie Sanders to say no, rationalizing...

“DNC has said this would be an unsanctioned debate so we would not want to jeopardize our ability to participate in future debates,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told the AP.

Yesterday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz shot the idea down.

“We have no plans to sanction any further debates before the upcoming First in the Nation caucuses and primary, but will reconvene with our campaigns after those two contests to review our schedule,” she said in a statement.

Late yesterday, Sanders made a counter-offer.

Sanders’ campaign released a statement late Wednesday calling for additional debates in the Democratic primary, but with specific provisions.

They want one each in March, April and May. All three must not be scheduled on a Friday, Saturday or holiday, and all three must include Martin O’Malley as well as Sanders and Clinton.

“If the Clinton campaign will commit to this schedule, we would ask the DNC to arrange a debate in New Hampshire on Feb. 4,” the Sanders campaign’s statement said. It noted that Sanders has called for more debates since the beginning of the race, and accused Clinton of wanting few.

Sanders’ campaign said Clinton now wants more debates because “the dynamics of the race have changed and Sen. Sanders has significant momentum.

“Sen. Sanders is happy to have more debates but we are not going to schedule them on an ad hoc basis at the whim of the Clinton campaign.”

No response yet from Deb.  More from The New Civil Rights Project on this development.  Martin O'Malley saw an opening and took a shot.

Martin O'Malley is pissed at Bernie Sanders. With the Democrats on track to add a new debate for their presidential candidates between Iowa and New Hampshire, the long-shot candidate ripped into Sanders (who has yet to agree to this debate, while Hillary Clinton has) with an odd charge. He claimed that Sanders' public calls over the summer for additional debates had been "totally disingenuous" and that Sanders had privately worked against more face-offs being added to the lineup. "Bernie Sanders didn't want any more debates, from the beginning," O'Malley said following an event in Grinnell, Iowa, on Wednesday night. 
Speaking with reporters from Mother Jones and MSNBC, O'Malley seemed to fault Sanders more than Clinton for the limited number of debates on the Democratic side. The number of debates was set by the Democratic Party, and the rules it established prohibited candidates from participating in debates that were not sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. O'Malley claims that, once these rules were announced, his campaign reached out to the Sanders camp seeking their support in pushing for more debates. But, O'Malley says, Sanders declined. "We knew as soon as those rigged rules came down, we knew that if [Sanders] would agree to do more debates, we would have more debates, but he would never agree," O'Malley said. "He didn't want more debates." O'Malley's charge, however, is a bit hard to square with Sanders' actions at the time. The Vermont senator was in fact sending letters to the DNC and posting petitions to his website rallying supporters behind more debates.

Because it's MO'M, nobody's paying attention.  I feel bad for the guy that even his temper tantrums are under the radar.  I'm figuring that the next time I blog about him, it's that he's dropping out.  Less than a week from now.

As for Clinton... it's all going to be okay.  Really and truly.

"Let's watch losers debate the man who isn't there"

One No Trump.

Whee, one more Republican debate before Iowa votes, after which somebody will win the Iowa caucuses and nobody will drop out and we’ll have a million more debates, even after Hillary Rodham Clinton’s two terms as president are over. And it’s tonight! What’s going to happen? We don’t know, do you?

It gets a lot NSFW after that, Wonky-style.  Here are YouGov's polling results on Trump's boycott; while he continues to lead in Iowa, even pulling the evangelical vote there, a plurality (43%) in the YG survey deem his withdrawal from tonight's Fox debate  'unacceptable'.  But like many others at this point, I think Trump is going to win the Republican nomination, mostly because nothing he has done has slowed his roll.

As for tonight, Rand gets back on stage, while Carnival Cruz takes the center. And look who the cat dragged in; why, it's Jim Gilmore, fighting his way back to the kiddie table.  Too bad it's way too late to matter; the world in which Ted Cruz is looking like the only alternative to Trump is causing some queasy stomachs in the GOP.

Some powerful Republicans are dismayed at what this election cycle has yielded. Party officials (last) week declared themselves against Ted Cruz. But none, with the exception of the former Alaska governor, will endorse his top rival — Donald Trump. 
Cruz and Trump kicked off their campaigns as radical candidates pit against the stale "establishment," then rose to take the top spots in national and early state polls. Now "the establishment" must choose which they'll support for the nomination. 
Cruz's week of hard hits got worse (last) Thursday. Five Republican senators told CNN they didn't want Cruz to win, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn expressed concern with the race. The AP reported one Republican senator vowed to vote for Democrat Bernie Sanders before Cruz, though the senator denied it, according to the Charlotte Observer. 
That comes after the Republican governor of Iowa, the first state to host a primary caucus, announced he wanted Cruz to lose, and after Bob Dole, a former Republican presidential nominee, said he preferred Trump, who also (last) week got the endorsement of Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin.

Tonight's spotlight dance for the Cuban Canuck may come at a perfect moment for him to surge as the voting is set to begin ... or it could just be another missed opportunity.  Don't watch tonight; I'll do that for you and Tweet some of the best laughs in the top right column.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The stingers get stung

The news broke late yesterday afternoon, and every media outlet has posted a story about it, so consider this one a coda.

A Harris County grand jury on Monday indicted the videographers behind undercover recordings of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston and cleared the women's health provider of any wrongdoing. 
The indictments — part of the county prosecutor's investigation into allegations that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue — include charges against anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. The grand jury handed down a second charge for Daleiden for “Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs," according to the Harris County District Attorney's office. That charge is a class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail. 
The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston of breaking any laws.

The Republican district attorney, appointed by Greg Abbott (and subsequently re-elected against a worthy Democratic challenger) investigated the national women's healthcare organization for wrongdoings associated with the undercover and heavily edited videotapes by the two folks named above.  It was the Texas lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who pressured the DA to bring charges to a grand jury.  She did, and the grand jury returned an indictment.  Just not against Planned Parenthood.

The irony is so rich it must be fattening.

"We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson said in a statement. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."

Rarely do you see a group of right-wing freaks get clocked this badly all around the horn.  It reminds me of the kind of embarrassment inflicted upon themselves -- and the rest of the state of Texas --  by the advocates of the Operation Jade Helm conspiracy.  Except in this case, women's lives and health have been endangered by their rabid, frothing extremism.

On to the next outrage, patriots!  You have lost the Battle of the So-Called Baby Killers.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance, in bringing you this week's blog post roundup, hopes everyone stays safe in the Northeast as the socialist snowplows come to the rescue.

Off the Kuff interviewed Harris County Sheriff candidates Ed Gonzalez and Jeff Stauber.

SocraticGadfly questions the mainstream media narrative that the GOP presidential race is down to a Trump-Cruz two-person event with this analysis and has a follow-up skewering of the Trump-Palin fun coming.

McBlogger goes the full 'pragmatism' on Bernie Sanders.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, three current and one former Houston city councilmen all want to take the place of the recently-departed Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee on the November ballot. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the latest on the most highly contested 2016 race that you won't be eligible to vote for.

Of course the frackers are big GOP donors. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows that the Texas Republicans don't work for you. They work for their rich buddies.

In additional fracking developments, Texas Vox has the details on the teleconference open to the public on EPA's assessment of hydraulic fracturing and its effect on drinking water, and TXsharon at Bluedaze has more environmental news from across the country.

Texas Leftist writes about the legal challenge to Obama's executive action on immigration moving toward the SCOTUS.

nonsequiteuse attended the HISD meeting where Confederate heroes, and the schools named after them, were on the agenda.

Neil at All People Have Value took a Martin Luther King Day picture of two different types of birds sharing space in peace. We could learn from these birds. APHV is part of


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

Democratic Blog News has this pointed reminder: "Texas primary early voting starts on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 and runs through Friday, February 26, 2016. [...] Texas early voting voters will likely have cast about half of their total primary ballots by the time SC Democrats vote in their primary on Saturday, February 27th."

Prairie Weather helps out with a good definition of 'progressive'.

Zachery B. Taylor asks whether academia is helping or hurting democracy.

Jonathan Tilove noted that Greg Abbott flew Air Adelson to Israel and then Davos.

Ty Clevenger appealed the slap on the wrist given US Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. in his judicial misconduct investigation.

Keep Austin Wonky interviews Texas House candidate Huey Rey Fischer.

The Current advertises a movie screening to raise money for the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint with the FEC against Ted Cruz for his failure to report those Goldman Sachs and Citibank loans from 2012.

Anastasia Hansen tells you things you may not have known about Houston's bus system.

And Progress Texas documents four decades of Texas abortion laws.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Rodney Ellis wants to fill vacancy on Harris commissioners' court

But he doesn't want the interim job.

Longtime state Sen. Rodney Ellis has begun making calls to local Democratic Party leaders and plans to run for the Harris County Commissioner seat left vacant after the death of El Franco Lee, a spokesman said Thursday night. 
County Judge Ed Emmett will announce and swear in Lee's temporary replacement in Precinct 1 on Friday and Lee's name will remain on the ballot for the primary. 
But Ellis' campaign spokesman David Edmonson said late Thursday the Houston lawmaker was not pursuing Emmett's interim appointment. Ellis has researched the statute, and has asked an aide to lay out the steps a candidate like him would need to take to get his name removed from the November ballot for senator should the Democratic Party chairs choose him as the general election candidate for the commissioner's seat.

I take this at face value; Judge Emmett will appoint someone to serve for the rest of this year who is not named Rodney Ellis, and that is a little surprising.  Whatever it means, Emmett will announce his pick at ten a.m. this morning, and I'll update here (but not until this afternoon, so watch your Twitter for breaking news at that time).

Update: It's Gene Locke, former city attorney, former mayoral challenger.

Locke, 68, a senior partner at the Andrews Kurth law firm, served as city attorney under the late Mayor Bob Lanier in the 1990s and ran for mayor in 2009, losing in a runoff to Annise Parker. 
"I plan to be a hands-on, on the ground, let's get with the program commissioner, which means that I will follow in El Franco's footsteps," Locke said. 
He added: "This precinct belongs to El Franco Lee, and anything that I do over the next several months is dedicated to him." 
Asked if he intended to run for the post in November, Locke said, "My intention is to go back to the practice of law and enjoy my family."

Locke tried the old "black, brown, and red" (names you'll recognize) route to the mayor's office in 2009, made the runoff but didn't come all that close to City Hall.  In a related development, Quorum Report notes that another powerful state legislator is thinking of challenging -- in whatever fashion that happens to take, since at this point it's the Precinct One chairs who will vote to select a permanent replacement this summer -- for the seat on commissioners' court.

... Rep. Garnet Coleman tells QR he is looking at it as well: "As chair of county affairs, it’s something I’ve looked at for a very long time. I didn’t think that Rodney would pursue it, but he decided to."

Update II:

City Councilmen Jerry Davis, Dwight Boykins and Larry Green said Friday they have begun campaigning, such as it is, under these unusual circumstances. Councilman C.O. Bradford said constituents had encouraged him to run, and he's considering it. 
A legal memo prepared for county Democratic chair Lane Lewis outlined a path by which Ellis said he could seek the (November) ballot spot. In mid-June the Democratic party chairs for Precinct 1 will vote for a candidate to replace Lee on the ballot. 
If the party chose him for commissioner, Ellis could withdraw his name from the ballot for state senator, which would trigger a second process by the Democratic leaders to pick a Democrat for state Senate.

Presumably there will be six months of schmoozing the precinct chairs with votes in the contest.  We can start the Ellis/Coleman replacement watch to ticking, and Borris Miles is allegedly the early front-runner in a potential SD-13 special election.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Medicare for All and the Hyde Amendment

What does Bernie Sanders' 'Medicare for All' do about the Hyde Amendment?  This is the conversation we should be having about his healthcare initiative, and there's a cogent (though somewhat caustic) discussion happening over at Balloon Juice about it.

One of the issues that is being elided over by (Sanders') plan is the assumption that the Hyde Amendment won’t apply.  The Hyde Amendment is a long standing restriction on federal funds for abortions.  The Stupak Amendment in the House Bill and the Nelson  Amendment in the passed PPACA enshrined Hyde into PPACA. 
My company offers full coverage for elective abortion for commercial, employer sponsored coverage unless the employer specifically requests that we don’t cover it.  Most insurers offer full coverage with only normal co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles for elective abortion because it is a simple and straightforward medical procedure. 
Going to single payer in a universe where Hyde/Nelson applies means the vast majority of women who don’t have $500 to $1,000 in spare cash lying around lose access to affordable abortion options.

I'm pretty sure that they need that much money, or more, now (2009 statistic) if they don't have any (or very limited) healthcare coverage now.  That's to say nothing of the expense associated with onerous restrictions within the Texas law, such as hospital admitting privileges that resulted in closed clinics across the state, necessitating 300-mile one way trips, two times, to satisfy the waiting period.  And so on.

And this is where Larry Levitt’s comment comes into play.   Our political universe has a demonstrated durable anti-female sexual autonomy majority of 240+ votes in the House during the most liberal Congress in two generations.  Any Democratic House majority on current maps will have dozens of representatives from districts that are more Republican than the nation.  Better maps in 2022 will still have a marginal House seat be a Republican leaning seat.  Even deep Blue seats are not guarantees to produce pro-female sexual autonomy votes (Lipinsky, Lynch etc). 

This is part of the larger objection Clintonites, i.e. 'pragmatists' have about electing Sanders, which is essentially culled down to "he won't be able to get anything through Congress" (as if Obama has, or Clinton would).  And that reveals another of my many objections to a second Clinton presidency (or a third Obama one, if you prefer): that one of her 'grand bargains' with Republicans in Congress whittles, privatizes, or eliminates more of the New Deal programs that first created an American middle class, dooming this nation to an austerity so severe that a shooting revolution becomes more possible than a political one.

If you still don't get that, then read this.

In related news, and apparently in response to my challenge, Ted steps up and applauds the DNC.  He just steadfastly and stubbornly refuses to comprehend that 'progressive' and 'politically correct liberal' are two very different things.

Update (1/23): Sanders calls for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that Alan Rickman is attending a David Bowie concert in heaven as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff describes the qualities he wants in a county commissioner to succeed the late El Franco Lee.

Libby Shaw, contributing at Daily Kos, continues her series on the state’s top three leaders, their hopeless pandering, and lack of vision, in The Texas Blues: Living in a place run by the Three Stooges of Bigotry, Snake Oil and Malfeasance.

SocraticGadfly, anticipating last Sunday's Democratic debate, took a cold look at the new heat -- primarily on Hillary Clinton's side -- between her and Bernie Sanders on single-payer health care vs. gun nuttery.

Before the last GOP debate, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs sensed desperation in the air. After it, the smell of fear lingered like... well, you-know-what.

Egberto Willies shared the video of Ted Cruz being carpet-bombed with facts by none other than Fox's Chris Wallace.

CoudBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is glad that there are regulations to keep our food, air, water, pharmaceuticals, workers, and consumer products safe. We need more and better, not worse and less.

TXsharon at Bluedaze shares the information on the D-FW public hearing regarding the region's air quality.

McBlogger has some more advice for the Clinton campaign in going after Sanders. (Hint: McB's a banker and doesn't care for Bernie's 'tax Wall Street' plans.)

Neil at All People Have Value noted the passing of baseball Hall of Famer and Negro League star Monte Irvin. APHV is part of

The TPA is greatly saddened by the loss of Florencia "Flora" Medellin, and extends its deepest sympathies to her family and many friends.

And in commemoration of the Martin Luther King holiday today, Ashton Woods at Strength in Numbers posts the video and transcript of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech.


And more blog posts about Texas goings-on...

Christopher Hooks, writing for Gawker, watched 13 Hours -- director Michael Bay's movie about Benghazi -- with 30,000 of his closest conservative friends at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and lived to tell the tale write the review.

The FWST's PoliTex blog has details on Speaker Paul Ryan's swing through North Texas to help Congressional Republicans there, along with some related political quick hits.

David Saleh Rauf at the SAEN sees the San Antonio politicos buying up teevee air time well ahead of the March primary contests.

Grits for Breakfast pinpoints the underlying legislative problem that proponents of police body cameras will have to solve to achieve real transparency.

Better Texas Blog reviews the changes in penalties for not having health insurance.

Tamara Tabo laments how little we all know about our rights when we are pulled over by a police officer.

TransGriot reminds Caitlyn Jenner that changing hearts and minds in the GOP about LGBT issues is a waste of time.

The Great God Pan Is Dead selects his favorite art books from 2015.

Paradise in Hell ponders Greg Abbott's constitutional tantrum.

And Juanita Jean revels in the latest Ken Paxton revelations.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tonight's #DemDebate

Lot of chances to watch the fur fly.  Let's read Vox's executive advance summary:

The next Democratic debate is on Sunday, January 17, at (8 pm Central). The debate will take place in Charleston, South Carolina, and air on NBC. A free online live stream will be available to all on NBC's YouTube channel
Like the last debate, this one will feature all three of the remaining Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley. It will be the fourth of just six debates that Democrats are planning. And, like the last two debates, it will take place on the weekend (a three-day weekend, in this case) — when fewer people are expected to watch.

No DWS response to her many critics about this, and it's too late for her to provide one that addresses it.  I have seen no defense of this ridiculous and somewhat dictatorial action by the DNC chair from Clinton supporters.  If someone else has, please point me to it.

For much of 2015, it appeared Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination without too much trouble. 
Not any more: Bernie Sanders has been surging in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote. He's been leading in the Granite State for most of the past few months, but his Iowa momentum is more recent — and the unique dynamics of the caucuses could give him an advantage over Clinton.

Reverb Press reveals Bernie's hurdle in Iowa: university is under way, and college students, one of the most critical vertebra in his campaign's backbone, may not be able to fully participate.

So Clinton is now faced with the possibility that she could lose both of the first two states to vote — something that would be hugely embarrassing for the supposedly inevitable Democratic nominee. It's unclear whether Sanders' success in Iowa and New Hampshire will translate to other states, but it's obvious Clinton has gotten nervous: this week her campaign started lashing out at Sanders's support for a single-payer health care system — using attacks that many commentators dubbed misleading. Expect a great deal of discussion on the candidates' health care positions at the debate. 
Another topic that will surely be discussed is electability. With the Republican nomination contest lurching so far to the right, many Democrats are anxious to nominate a candidate that will ensure their party keeps the White House this November. And some believe that Sanders — a "democratic socialist" who holds far-left views on several issues — wouldn't be able to win.

Clinton's campaign has been running ads suggesting she's the only candidate who can stop the GOP, while Sanders has responded by saying early polls show him doing better than she would. So it's likely that electability will be hotly debated on Sunday.

Robert Reich has Bernie's rebuttals to these. And here's the twelve most effective TV ads so far in the campaign, as judged by Business Insider (take note of who dominates).

Finally, there's the core issue motivating Sanders's campaign and indeed his entire political career — his desire to check the power of the super-wealthy and corporations. Sanders has been laser-focused on this for decades, while Clinton has been much more of an ordinary mainstream Democrat — willing to push for policies that improve people's lives, but also eager to win the business community to her side. 
In a recent ad, Sanders said there are "two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street," and that "one says it's okay to take millions from big banks and then tell him what to do." So expect a serious debate around whether Clinton is too close to the wealthy. 
As for the other candidate in the race — Martin O'Malley, who's way far back in last place — this may be the last time we see him in a debate. If polls of Iowa are anywhere close to accurate, he'll perform so poorly there that it's difficult to imagine him continuing his campaign. Vox's Matthew Yglesias has argued that O'Malley should be taken more seriously — so this may be the last chance for that to happen.

There will also be some sparring over gun safety and Sanders has already revised his position on gun manufacturer immunity in response to his critics on that.  Take an afternoon nap in order to stay up late and watch the whole thing, despite what Wasserman Schultz would prefer.

Here's more debate prep if you like.

-- GOP chair Reince Priebus would rather his party's nominee square off with Hillary than with Bernie.  His reasoning is faulty -- he predictably believes the Republican could win against either one -- but his conclusion is sound.

-- Clinton's questionable assault on Sanders' still-to-be-announced national health care revisions (even Ted thought it unseemly) gets called 'rotten'.  Actually it was Clinton herself labeled a 'rotten candidate'.  It's the WaPo's RWNJ Jennifer Rubin, but still ...

-- Howard Dean's blinding hypocrisy on single-payer further trashes her reputation with progressives in the Democratic Party on the topic of healthcare.  Clinton's various surrogates, from Chelsea to Dean to Joel Benenson are serving her poorly, and that includes the odious David Brock, who was Tweeted to "chill out" by none other than Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.  So one thing we should expect not to be debated this evening is the candidates' medical records.

-- Eight reasons for worry in the Clinton camp, all of them barely within or completely outside her ability to control or even influence.

-- In what could have been its own post, my personal outrage of the week against Clinton is this 2007 video of her blaming the victims for the Great Financial Crisis of 2008.  To be clear: there's plenty enough responsibility lacking in those folks who were just not credit-worthy enough to buy a home, and who simply never held the old-school value of high personal reputation (that's why they had bad credit to begin with).  Caveat emptor and all that.  But let's not dodge placing the fault for global financial apocalypse where it properly lies: with the unscrupulous mortgage lenders, the incompetent or malfeasant securitization of subprime loans rated AAA by the industry's so-called watchdogs, and the government handouts extended to the likes of Jamie Dimon (who then declined to stimulate the country's moribund economy by lending the money out) when their stinking chickens eventually came home to roost.

If you still don't get it, go watch The Big Short again, or read this.

Sunday Funnies

They really do think it's pronounced "suck-seed"...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Troubles deepen for Ted Cruz, Ken Paxton

Your Friday afternoon Texas two-fer.

-- Birther problems warming up for the Cuban Canuck.

A new lawsuit claims Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is ineligible to run for president, citing his Canadian birth. 
The case, lodged Thursday by Texas attorney Newton B. Schwartz Sr., says Cruz is ineligible to run as he isn't a "natural born citizen," Bloomberg reported. Cruz was born in Canada to an American citizen. 
“This 229-year question has never been pled, presented to or finally decided by or resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Schwartz says in his complaint. 
Schwartz has requested the U.S. Supreme Court expedite the case ahead of the Iowa caucuses and told Bloomberg he was surprised Cruz didn't file a case himself to avoid any complications.

The issue became heated during this week's GOP debate after a moderator asked Cruz about Donald Trump's accusations that the senator may be constitutionally prohibited from presidential office.

Oh dear.  Look at this from the Chronic:

A Reuters poll, reported Friday, found that a quarter of Republicans think Cruz's birthplace disqualifies him from the presidency.

Probably just a speed bump, causing a headache and maybe a little acid indigestion for our junior senator.  I suspect.  Except there's also a chance that he faces federal prosecution on that unreported Goldman Sachs loan.  From there, Martin Armstrong at The Burning Platform.

You do not forget to report a loan from Goldman Sachs when your wife is a managing director. Come on. How stupid do we have to be to entertain this excuse?

UpdateThe Hill is reporting that Cruz failed to disclose a second loan to his 2012 campaign, of $500,000 from Citibank.

-- Hotter water for our illustrious attorney general.  "Probe to look into more criminal misconduct allegations by Paxton":

Two additional special prosecutors have been appointed to look into other allegations of criminal misconduct involving Attorney General Ken Paxton, News 8 has learned.

The two Fort Worth attorneys – Miles Brissette and former state district Judge Bob Gill – were appointed Nov. 13 to investigate “criminal allegations” involving Paxton and others, according to filings obtained by News 8. The filings do not state who the “others” are.

News 8 has learned that the two men are looking into a 2004 land deal involving Paxton and other investors including Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis. That land would later become the site of the Collin Central Appraisal District.

And the Chronic again.

Ty Clevenger, a local blogger and former U.S. Department of Justice lawyer, wrote extensively about the land deal last year and sent a letter on the issue to the grand jury that indicted Paxton. Speaking from New York City, where he recently moved, Clevenger told the Chronicle he was glad the land deal was being investigated.

"The reason I kept pushing so hard on that issue is because I believe it went well beyond Ken Paxton," he said. "Greg Willis is involved in this and I believe a lot of other political players in Collin County probably had their hand in the cookie jar."

Crooked DAs in league with a crooked attorney general?  Let me clutch my pearls while you guide me to the fainting couch.

I'm celebrating the poor fortunes of two of our state's very worst Republicans with some champagne and caviar later this evening.  How about you?

The smell of fear

It's a stench, with this crowd.

With two weeks to go until the first contest of the 2016 presidential race, Republicans who fear their party has been hijacked by the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz found little to comfort them in the latest debate. 
Both candidates, one a billionaire developer with no political experience and the other a U.S. Senator from Texas with a reputation for clashing with his Washington D.C. colleagues, stood center stage Thursday night and, for the most part, dominated the proceedings. 
More mainstream hopefuls such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida were left nipping at their heels and squabbling among themselves.

Cut to the chase; third place and the 'moderate' mantle is between Rubio and Christie.

All of it left some Republicans worried that time to stop Trump, or Cruz from seizing the inside track on the nomination was evaporating and that the establishment candidates were doing little to slow either man’s momentum. 
“They are digging themselves a bit of a hole,” said Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. “It’s entirely possible the final two candidates will be Trump and Cruz, and people like me will be despondent.” 
New Hampshire holds its primary about a week after Iowa’s and perhaps offers the best chance for a more moderate option to surface as a prime challenger. Iowa Republicans historically tend to favor more conservative candidates.

Yeah, what I said yesterday.

But in New Hampshire right now, “the mainstream Republicans are as splintered and scattered as ever,” Cullen said, leaving open the possibility that Trump could win that state as well. 
Indeed, there seemed to be some acknowledgement during the debate that only one more serious contender might emerge from the rest of the field. It had Christie and Rubio, both of whom hope to win New Hampshire, repeatedly locking horns. 
“They know what lane they’re in and who their (sic) fighting,” said Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist in South Carolina, which also holds primary next month. “It’s Trump and Cruz, and the other four jockeying for some momentum.”

Cruz projects the confidence of a used car salesman reeling in a rube with a dollar bill on the end of a fishing line (yes, a Kurt Russell reference.  He's a hardcore Libertarian, doncha know).

“More and more, this is coming down to a two-man race. The polling, the support, it is more and more looking like it is Donald Trump and me,” Cruz said in an interview on the Fox Business Network after the debate. 
“We have the resources to go the distance. And one of the things we’re seeing, more and more people are coming behind us saying, listen, you guys are the only campaign that can beat Donald Trump,” he added.

I'm going to leave the play-by-play to others and just link to the fact-checking.  This Tweet speaks for me.

Wish I had listened to them.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Desperation time for the Republican debaters tonight

With Rand Paul eliminated, it's going to be "bomb them all, all the time" this evening.

Fox Business Networks’ decision to drop Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul from the main stage at Thursday night’s Republican debate, as well as Paul’s decision not to participate in the undercard event, has eliminated the sole dissenting voice from what could be called the “bomb the shit of them” consensus in the Republican field.

Yeah, too bad about that whole non-aggressionist thing.  It doesn't even play all that well in the Democratic primary.

On to the main event, where Ted Cruz may have some tight-collar moments over the high-dollar loans he forgot to report from 2012.

Republican Primary Lineup December 2015

It's the home stretch in the presidential campaign before people actually start voting in less than three weeks — and that raises the stakes for Thursday night's Republican presidential debate in Charleston, S.C. (After this debate, there will be just one more before the Iowa caucuses.) 
In the past, Trump and Cruz have pulled their punches in these debates. After questioning Cruz's temperament last month, Trump famously said, "He's just fine. Don't worry about it," at a debate in Las Vegas. That was enough for Cruz, who has cleverly, if not transparently, waited for Trump to implode while not offending him, aiming to inherit Trump's supporters. The detente may be over. Or, who knows, maybe the alliance continues.

Politico lights some fuses.

... Republicans are bracing themselves for a circular firing squad as the 2016 GOP candidates gather (in Charleston, SC) for Thursday's debate. 
A cluster of contenders in a fierce competition to command the mainstream GOP lane are almost certain to collide, campaign aides and strategists say. Most of the heat is expected to be directed at Marco Rubio, who, with time running out until the first votes are cast, is anxious to position himself as the establishment front-runner. 

They break it down man y mano, but let's just look at the also-rans err, "mainstream" (sic) candidate four-car pileup.

Establishment candidates have so far been stymied in their efforts to slow down the Trump-Cruz train — in no small part because they’ve been busy fighting amongst themselves. 
That dynamic is almost certain to play out again on Thursday night. With Bush, Christie, Rubio, and John Kasich all competing aggressively in New Hampshire — and all within striking distance of one another — there’s simply little incentive for them to play nice.

“That group of people that are bunched up need to separate themselves,” Wiley said.

That's what I will be watching and Tweeting, because IMO the early stage has already been set: Cruz wins Iowa, Trump wins New Hampshire, and whoever comes in third behind them in each state becomes the story.  South Carolina is the proving ground for Trump and Cruz, with two others left standing out of Rubio and someone else.

The Nevada caucuses are the wild card; the Dems go before the Rs and a week before SC, while the Rs meet three days after the Palmetto State votes.  Historically the Silver State lines up with the favorite (in 2012, Romney and Clinton) and latest polling reveals Clinton and Trump with big leads (although Cruz and Rubio are surging).  Nevada, in short, may not tell us much.

March 1 -- Super Tuesday -- hosts Alabama, Alaska (caucus, R), American Samoa (caucus, D), Arkansas, Colorado (caucus, both parties), Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota (caucus, both), North Dakota (caucus, R), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming (caucus, R).

We should know who each party's standard-bearers for November are by that evening.

Powerball scattershooting

-- In the wake of Chelsea and Hillary Clinton's lying and fear-mongering about Bernie Sanders' as-yet-unannounced healthcare plan, Bernie's campaign raised a quick $1.4 million.  That's just slightly less than one-tenth (one-thousandth; math is hard) of the annuity-option Powerball amount, split last night by tickets sold in California, Tennessee, and Florida.  A poll released last month by Kaiser indicates that 81% of Democrats -- and 60% of independents -- support a Medicare-for-all, single-payer national health care plan.

It feels like the earth moved, and not just for the lottery winners.

-- Speaking of money problems... Ted Cruz.

-- One-third of the members of Congress just forced Speaker Paul Ryan to back down from one of his signature rule-making decisions.  From the nauseatingly conservative Fiscal Times:

On Wednesday, Ryan took one of his first high-profile steps toward instilling a little discipline in the chamber, before promptly backing down in the face of anger from members. 
A defining characteristic of the John Boehner era was that while floor votes almost always had ostensible time limits attached to them, they were almost utterly without meaning. A vote would be held open as long as House leadership felt like it, leading to 15-minute votes taking two and three times as long. 
It was a practice that, by all accounts, annoyed Ryan. And he recently warned the members of the House that he would no longer abet members being late to votes by holding them open. On Wednesday, he made good on his threat. 
The House was scheduled to vote on a bill that would toughen oversight on the Iran nuclear deal that the Obama administration, along with other world powers, struck over the summer. The bill was brought to the floor and a 15-minute vote was declared. And when the 15 minutes was up, the vote was closed. 
The problem was that 137 members of the House, from both parties, hadn’t made it to the floor on time. The bill had the votes to pass, 191-106, but that wasn’t the point. The Iran deal is highly charged politically, all the more so because of the detention and return of 10 U.S. sailors by the Iranian Navy overnight Tuesday. Members were anxious to be on the record voting on the bill, and weren’t at all happy when they sauntered onto the floor after the 15 minutes had expired and were informed that the voting had concluded. 
As members began complaining, Ryan quickly conferred with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Democratic leaders. Not long afterward, McCarthy requested unanimous consent to “vacate” the results of the vote, with a promise that the vote would be rescheduled for later this month, in order to give all members a chance to go on the record.

The reign of the new poker-faced Speaker isn't going to end well, unless of course he emerges as the Republican presidential nominee -- A team or B team -- in a brokered party convention this summer.

-- Still flogged on right-wing sites for the most part, the Clinton Foundation's pay-to-play business slowly being disclosed via Hillary's e-mail investigation lurks as a nomination time bomb.  It's at least worth throwing back in the face of any Shillarian who claims 'electability' now that they can't cling to 'inevitability' so much (at least until Iowa and New Hampshire returns come in).

For my part, I'll wait for the FBI to finish up.  If I keep hearing about it on any of the recently-engaged Rupert Murdoch's media outlets, I'll ignore it.

In other 'sky-is-falling' news, McBlogger has some ground-game complaining.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chelsea and Hillary Clinton's ill-advised comments about healthcare

“I never thought that I would be arguing about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare in the Democratic primary,” (Chelsea) Clinton said at an event in Manchester (NH). “Senator Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare and private insurance.”

She then went on to say that she believes her mother has a “more robust" record on health care than anyone else in the race.  

That's two of the biggest lies told during the campaign so far (and getting to the lead past Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is quite a despicable accomplishment).  Chelsea's just doing what her mother asked her to do, though.

"His plan would take Medicare and Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program [CHIP] and the Affordable Care Act health-care insurance and private employer health insurance and he would take that all together and send health insurance to the states, turning over your and my health insurance to governors," Hillary Clinton said Monday. "I don't believe number one we should be starting over. We had enough of a fight to get to the Affordable Care Act. So I don’t want to rip it up and start over."

She echoed the argument on Tuesday, the same day a Quinnapiac poll showed Sanders overtaking her in Iowa, 49 percent to 44 percent. Reiterating her claim that Sanders' plan would jeopardize the Affordable Care Act and effectively turn over health coverage programs to the states, many of them led by Republican governors, she said: "If that’s the kind of 'revolution' he's talking about, I'm worried, folks."

"I'm worried" at least is probably true.  The rest is BS.

In a statement on Monday, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs hit back: "Secretary Clinton is inaccurate in suggesting that Republican governors would be able to circumvent the law and deny implementation in their states." Referring to a single-payer proposal he put forth in 2013, Briggs added: "The bill Sen. Sanders introduced was very clear. It is national legislation for all states."
National Nurses United added its voice to those defending Sanders' proposal, accusing Clinton of deliberately distorting the facts.

"Surely Hillary Clinton knows that Medicare and Medicaid are national programs, and that they would be funded as national programs," said NNU co-president Jean Ross. "To claim that expanding Medicare to all would hand it over to state governors is a crude, inflammatory distortion, and shows an indifference to all those people who continue to be harmed by a broken system."

Perhaps this foreshadows a line of attack Clinton will use in Sunday evening's debate.  The Nil Admirari's satire doesn't fall far from the truth, does it?

'Medicare for all' is not dismantling Medicare.  More truth: there is no place for for-profit health insurance companies in a single-payer world.

“So to answer your question: What I believe, is in comprehensive, universal health care for all people with a Medicare for all, single payer program. And when you do that, by the way, because you take private insurance companies out of the system, whose only function in life is to try and make as much profit as they can, when you control the costs of prescription drugs, you end up providing healthcare to all — comprehensive — and saving middle class families thousands of dollars a year. That’s why I believe in a Medicare-for-all system.”

Single-payer was too much for Obama to manage in 2009, so I feel certain Clinton isn't going to even give it a try.  She got spanked once about it back in 1993, after all.  That was millions and millions of dollars ago.

This is quite obviously the political revolution she should be worried about.

Update: Mediaite...

...(O)n CNN this afternoon, Jake Tapper confronted Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon over an angry statement Clinton made in 2008 when Barack Obama‘s campaign criticized her for her health care plan. She called it false and made these (interesting in hindsight) remarks: 
“It is destructive, particularly for a Democrat, to be discrediting universal health care by waging a false campaign against my plan… It is undermining core Democratic principles. Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care?” 
It appears 2016 Hillary Clinton has now answered her own question.