Monday, February 29, 2016

A few things to watch for on Election Day

-- Which Democrat gets to take on Harris County Republican DA Devon Anderson in November: Lloyd "homosexuals and lesbians have hijacked the Democratic Party" Oliver, Kim Ogg, or Morris "George Soros' money" Overstreet?

-- Will it be Brandon Dudley for Harris County tax assessor/collector/voter registrar in the Democratic primary ... or Ann Harris Bennett?

-- Can Adrian Garcia pull off the upset in CD-29 against Gene Green?  If he can't, is it a walk or a close shave for the longtime incumbent?  If it's narrow, does Garcia (or some other Latin@) start licking their chops for 2018?

-- Are either Kevin Brady or Louie Gohmert seriously in danger of getting primaried out?

-- Which two of these four -- Randy Bates, Jerry Ford Jr., Jarvis Johnson, Kimberly Willis -- is moving to an April runoff to replace Sylvester Turner in the Texas House?  Is the disgraced Rep. Ron Reynolds going to be bumped off by Steve Brown or Angelique Bartholomew or Chris Henderson?  Will there be a runoff (probably)?  Who's going to make it?

-- Do San Antonio Democrats give the fighting progressive, Trey Martinez Fischer, or the Republican-leaning Democrat, Jose' Menendez, a full term in the Texas Senate?  Chris Hooks says the party needs both.  More on Texas legislative races across the state from the TexTrib.

-- My selections were offered at the start of early voting and can be found here.

-- With fourteen states, one territory, and Democrats Abroad caucusing or holding their presidential primaries tomorrow... is it curtains for Bernie Sanders, or does he fight on?

How will the GOP establishment feel about the election returns tomorrow night?

-- Will Ted Cruz win big enough in Texas to slow Trump's roll?  What's the over-under on his margin of victory?  Five points?  Six points?  Ten points?  That will be the spin.

Quoting myself, again ...

The bantamweight Rubio and the middleweight Cruz did an effective job of pummeling the Oompa Loompa-colored pinata hanging between them. Alternately screwing his face into a tight grimace and unleashing his regularly-scheduled torrent of insults, with a reeling Wolf Blitzer having lost control of the affair in the early rounds, Trump landed no counter-punches to speak of. 
But will it matter once we see the returns roll in Tuesday night?

Great minds ...

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to rumble for November as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff examines Ken Paxton's latest appeal of his fraud charges.

Nonsequiteuse saw everyone else getting in on the open letter game, and figured hey, I can write an open letter, too!

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know what McAllen has to fear from their auditor?

Socratic Gadfly, using someone else's opinion piece, explained why this year -- as in previous elections this century -- he won't be "enabling" the Democratic Party in the presidential race.

The GOP debate in Houston made room for a lowly progressive blogger, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs was a first-hand witness to the culinary carnage.

Bay Area Houston and Texas Leftist also had news and views of the Republican debate at the U of H ahead of the event.

jobsanger graphs low Democratic voter turnout ... and blames it on Bernie Sanders.

Dos Centavos wonders if Texas Latinos are splitting between Hillary and Bernie.

Egberto Willies has the video of Ted Cruz accusing Donald Trump of mafia connections.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that the gas lease auction for Lake Lewisville may not be legal.

Neil at All People Have Value said that kindness, patience and empathy are forms of resistance in this society. APHV is part of


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

Russ Tidwell figures that the presidential election and the 2021 redistricting effort will put an end to gridlock one way or another, Juanita Jean looks to the last contentious presidential primary for context on this year's, and Dan Solomon finds another example of Republican politicians getting slapped for using a song without permission for campaign purposes.

Trailblazers takes note of the single political group funded by one donor that has poured over a million dollars into Texas House races to oppose Speaker Joe Straus. And Texas Vox sees rideshare competitors Uber and Lyft throwing lots of money into Austin political contests.

Chris Hooks at the Texas Observer reviews the state Senate race in San Antonio between Trey Martinez Fischer and Jose' Menendez.

Grits for Breakfast details the data on arrests in Texas: most are for pot, and most of the charges get dismissed.

CultureMap Houston lists the hassle-free ways to get to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Lone Star Q is following the DISD sports transgender ban, which is being both lied about and ignored by officials there.

Better Texas Blog adds up the tax revenues that undocumented immigrants provide.

BOR points out that the cost of implementing campus carry are falling on students and their families.

The Texas Election Law Blog calls the Court of Criminal Appeals "soft on crime" for letting Rick Perry off the hook.

The Lunch Tray dissects the socioeconomics of picky eating.

Pages of Victory says, "Don't force it; get a bigger hammer".

The Alliance encourages voters to support Jessica Farrar in HD-148, especially in light of her opponent’s intentionally deceptive and hateful, anti-gay mailers.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

I hate to say I told you so, but ...

... I told you so, last summer, before the Independence Day holiday and a couple of weeks before anybody had heard the words "Black Lives Matter".

So while neither her convincing victory nor the associated demographic splits surprise me, what has been demonstrated in South Carolina (and will likely be in Texas next Tuesday evening, and several other southern states) is that Democratic voters have made up their minds, and did so long ago.  Sanders' core message (some would incorrectly say his single issue) was even transferred onto Clinton in the Palmetto State.

Large crowds at rallies and marches are, alas, not the same as voting.

Clinton supporters on social media have toned down the gloating to some degree, but my humble O is that reconciliation between the winner and the loser's campaigns isn't going to happen to the extent that Team Hillary may be hoping.  Then again, maybe they're not hoping that at all.

When (a Sanders volunteer in SC) finally finds someone willing to talk to her about the presidential race, it's an elderly man named Joel. "I'll be honest with you, I already made my decision," he said. "I voted for Kasich last week, because I'm so anti-Trump." (South Carolina has an open primary system, meaning that voters can choose which of the two party's primaries to vote in.) 
A Democrat, Joel said that he has a "lot in common" with Sanders, and that as a younger man his political views were further to the left. He told (her) that he likes Clinton's foreign policy experience, but there's a "trust factor." "I agree!" (the Sanders vol) explained. 
After we bid farewell to Joel and get back into the Prius, I asked (her) if she'll support Clinton if she's the Democratic nominee. "Hell no," she said. "Even if Clinton is running against Trump?" I pressed. "No!" she repeats. "I'll vote for Jill Stein!"

Clinton is already bleeding progressive support, and further antagonism of that bloc by her network is not going to cauterize the wounds.  Neither will using a "SCOTUS" cudgel to beat them onto the bandwagon.  But since this "support" isn't translating to votes, is it possible that Clinton's crew thinks they can win without them?

Repeating myself:

While Bush v. Gore was still winding its way to a legal conclusion in 2000, Jim Hightower wrote that 308,000 registered Florida Democrats voted for George W. Bush in (and some people still blame Ralph Nader).  Those Sunshine State Blues -- 191,000 of whom were self-described "liberals" -- must not have gotten Barbra Streisand's memo that year.

Does repeating 2000's mistakes seem like the definition of insanity to you?  Because it does to me.

The only rationale I can get to is that Clinton's 2016 PUMAs think they can recruit enough GOP voters who can't stand Trump to make up for what they will lose from the left wing of the Democratic Party.  That seems like a very dangerous strategy.

While Sanders' fate was apparent to me eight months ago, the future for a Hillary versus Trump matchup is much less clear.  A Ted Cruz victory in Texas in two days -- perhaps by a lot -- shakes up the Etch a Sketch.  And Team Rubio is counting on that split between the dueling Demagogue Caucuses to continue, as he can make hay with the Not Trump and Not Cruz Republicans who think he's brilliant (really, that's what I have read them write), and by asserting that the Democrats are afraid to run against him (he's pushing this line in Houston teevee ads airing this morning).

Mitch McConnell thinks Trump is not only a sure thing but radioactive for the GOP, and if he is correct then a lot of money that would have otherwise gone to the presidential candidate will flow into Senate races, strengthening the hands of Republicans clinging to the majority in that body.

According to the New York Times, McConnell is assuring Senate candidates running for reelection that they should feel free to run ads against Trump if they feel he is hurting their own campaigns. According to senators attending private lunches with the Majority Leader, McConnell is taking the approach that Trump will lose badly in the general election and that senators should sell themselves as a bulwark against a Hillary Clinton presidency. 
Pointing out that he still won easily when President Bill Clinton was reelected, McConnell reportedly told colleagues that the party will drop Trump “like a hot rock” if he is the nominee. 
News of the party’s preemptive rejection of the potential nominee comes after a luncheon meeting attended by Republican governors and donors in Washington on Feb. 19 where political guru Karl Rove warned that Trump may be unstoppable for the GOP — and that his nomination could destroy other Republican candidate’s chances in November. 
According to people who attended a private presentation hosted by the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch,  Trump’s record was deemed utterly unacceptable, causing high profile donors to hold back on donations out of fear it will be money that will be wasted.

So a worst-case scenario for Democrats is that turnout for their standard-bearer remains unenthused and flaccid.  Even in Harris County, usually reliably blue in presidential years, is seeing a 60-40 split R to D with early voting in the can.  That could translate into a Trump defeat of Clinton, a Republican Senate that still holds a bare majority after November, and a status quo, red rubberstamp House of Representatives.  And a whole lot of Clintonoids blaming Sandernistas for it.

If Clinton wins the presidency and the Democrats can capture the Senate, we will have circumstances not far removed from where they were in 2010, when Obama called the Congressional races a shellacking and the GOP first won the House and then gerrymandered their way into permanent control of it.  In 2012, when Democrats held on to the Senate but with a 55-45 majority, the Republicans filibustered everything, rewarding us with more hindrances to governing.  But that wasn't enough to get Democrats to vote in 2014, and we saw Shellacking, the Sequel in the wake of historically low midyear turnout, which allowed the GOP to take back the Senate ... producing even more unprecedented obstruction.

So as it always does, the answers turn on who and how many turn out to vote in 2016.  Will Democrats who supported Bernie cross over to Trump, fall in line for Clinton, vote for the actual progressive woman running for president, or do something dumb like stay home or write in Sanders?  Will Republicans nominate Trump and then vote for Hillary, as Houston council member Paul Kubosh claims he has heard?  Will turnout ratios at 2-1 for the GOP result in a downballot wave washing Team Blue out to sea?  And if that happens in a presidential year, how much worse can it get two years from now?

For somebody who's predicted things pretty well up to this point, I have to say that I don't have a clue about how 2016 is going to go.

Sunday Funnies

(Click it to bigot-- errr, I mean big it)

Union Leader publisher: Christie told me he would not endorse Trump

"So I sent a message off to Gov. Christie and he called me right back and I told him what I'd heard, and he said 'No, no, I would never do that,'" McQuaid recalled. "[Christie] told me to tell the other guy to 'take his head out of his ass' for saying he would support Trump."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Palmetto primary results tonight, more than just the W for Hillary

Hope you're going to the BBQ cookoff or doing something else fun on this glorious weather weekend, but for those of you who can't put down your politics, here's a few things to read ahead of tonight's election returns.

-- Bernie Sanders needs to slow Hillary Clinton's roll to the nomination, but the polling gives no positivity to that.  Ted has the truth (a rare thing, credit where it's due).

Clinton is widely expected to win -- and potentially win big -- in the Palmetto State. 
Her margin of victory, though, is the crucial number to watch in order to forecast what lies ahead on Super Tuesday, when 11 states vote -- turning what had been a state-by-state slog into a truly national contest. 
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are all Southern states with large portions of African-American voters, just like South Carolina. That makes South Carolina a critical test of Clinton's strength in those places. 
Sanders is focusing his efforts on five Super Tuesday states where he stands a better chance of winning: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont.
If she wins in a blowout, Clinton can expect a big Super Tuesday. If she just ekes out a win, that would be more troubling for her campaign.

Four more things to watch for, from CNN: African American voter turnout, Slick Willie's redemption, Bernie's message, and the Big Mo.

The upshot of that is that expectations for Sanders are now low enough that if he even gets somewhat close to Clinton, the press will cover it as a surprisingly strong result for him. The polls show such a blowout that even, say, a 13-point win by Clinton might be viewed as good news for Sanders. And there's some logic to that — Democrats allot all their delegates proportionally rather than just to a state's winner. So it's not just about whether Sanders wins or loses, it's about how close the margin is. 
But if Sanders does lose in a landslide, that's not a great headline three days ahead of "Southern Super Tuesday" on March 1, when Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas will all go to the polls (as will a few non-Southern states). So we'll see how he and Clinton do tonight.

The Salon of Somervell County has a brain dump on Sanders-Clinton developments from the week just passed.

-- Melissa Harris Perry is finished with MSNBC.  And I don't blame her.

In an unusually public flare-up, one of MSNBC’s television personalities clashed with the network on Friday in a dispute about airtime and editorial freedom and said she was refusing to host the show that bears her name this weekend. 
The host, Melissa Harris-Perry, wrote in an email to co-workers this week that her show had effectively been taken away from her and that she felt “worthless” in the eyes of NBC News executives, who are restructuring MSNBC. 
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote in the email, which became public on Friday. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”

She experienced a horrifying incident in Iowa earlier this year, as you may recall.  That may be impacting her decision, along with all these microaggressions from the suits at Comcast in rehashing MSNBC as "the place for politics".

The former liberal talk bastion has been silenced, shedding Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz and now MHP in recent years.  In their places, the rise of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and the shilling for Trump has reduced my personal teevee news option down to CNN.

-- But it's allegedly not a systemic racial thing, like the Oscars or Flint.

Ava DuVernay, the critically acclaimed director of Selma, will be in Flint, Michigan this Sunday and will not be attending the Academy Awards. Instead she’ll joined in Flint by a group of artists to lend their voices to the #JUSTICEFORFLINT concert and event. DuVernay spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric on Yahoo News Live to talk about the event and the need to raise awareness around the water crisis in Flint. She also discussed the fact that it’s happening on the same night as an Oscar Sunday where, for a second year in a row, all 20 acting nominations went to white actors and actresses. 
... DuVernay said: “I guess I can see how people are making the connection, but we didn’t have anything to do that night. We were free. We are basically saying on this night, there are other things going on around issues of justice and dignity.” 
Ryan Coogler, director of the Academy Award-nominated film Creed, singer Janelle Monae, actor Jesse Williams, and comedian Hannibal Burress will also be joining DuVernay in Flint. On the purpose of the event, she said: “This is a trauma that has been going on there for several years now. We want to continue to shed a light and amplify the voices on the ground there in Flint. We are bringing in some of our friends, to come and perform for a night of empowerment and enlightenment and community-building and togetherness. It’s free for them, but we are asking people who watch on the live stream at to donate. Those funds will go to the people of Flint.” 
DuVernay agreed with director Michael Moore, who is from Flint and called the crisis a “racial crime.” DuVernay told Couric: “I think its environmental racism, absolutely. We wouldn’t have seen this problem if this was in a community with more voice.”

Nothing to add here.

-- "#NeverTrump trends worldwide in revolt against Donald Trump":

Donald Trump has won three straight election victories, secured a major endorsement from Chris Christie, and appears to be moving toward the Republican presidential nomination. But on Friday, thousands spoke out on Twitter, vowing to never vote for him. 
The #NeverTrump hashtag grew rapidly Friday evening, eliciting tweets from across the political spectrum to become the top trend on Twitter in the U.S. and one of the top trends worldwide.

Indeed, after I tweeted it to my 2000+ followers at 4:41 a.m today, I got reTweeted over four dozen times in half an hour, by far the most responses ever for my participation.  From Rubio lovers to Sandernistas, it was still Twitching uncontrollably as day broke.

Probably doesn't mean much.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Swiss cheese, fruit salad, and giant hot dogs

They weren't throwing these things.  There was some good verbal sparring by the two Cubans at the opera house at U of H last night, but the media was crowded into a converted gymnasium across Cullen, thus the prodigious boxing metaphors.

Seriously about the groceries, though.  A couple of times I thought someone had changed the channel and we were watching the Food Network.

The bantamweight Rubio and the middleweight Cruz did an effective job of pummeling the Oompa Loompa-colored pinata hanging between them.  Alternately screwing his face into a tight grimace and unleashing his regularly-scheduled torrent of insults, with a reeling Wolf Blitzer having lost control of the affair in the early rounds, Trump landed no counter-punches to speak of.

But will it matter once we see the returns roll in Tuesday night?

The tenth Republican presidential was a good show, as it always is with Donald Trump on the stage. 
But for the first time in this unprecedented primary election, Trump could have used a little more winning. He left the stage in Houston, Texas, having been pushed around for most of the night. 
Standing between the two U.S. senators who remain the only obstacle between him and the GOP nomination, Trump was under assault from both Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for a large part of the two-hour spectacle. 
A little more than halfway through the raucous back-and-forth, Trump was clearly tiring, and angry at being under so much duress. When the radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt directed another question at Trump, the businessman and reality TV personality snapped at him in anger. 
“Every single question comes to me? I know I’m here for the ratings, but it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he complained. 
Rubio was relentless. He pushed, prodded, provoked and badgered Trump as no one else during the campaign has been able to do on a stage. Rubio, smiling much of the time, interrupted and talked over Trump rather than standing by and waiting for him to insult or belittle him. 
And Cruz followed up on many of Rubio’s attacks or criticisms.

That Trump-Rubio ticket might be in a little trouble after tonight. While Rubio did do the best punching up, Cruz got under his heavily-powdered skin by needling him about his tax returns.

After 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney trolled The Donald by saying that Trump won't release his tax returns because he has something to hide – which, remember, is exactly what Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid said about Romney four years ago – the other candidates took the baton and ran with it during the latest GOP debate Thursday night. 
For instance, Sen. Ted Cruz said, "He can release past year's tax returns. He can do it tomorrow. He doesn't want to do it, because presumably there's something in there."
Sen. Marco Rubio said, "Here's a guy that inherited $200 million. If he hadn't inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? … Better release your tax returns so we can see how much money he made." 
And moderator Wolf Blitzer even got in on the act, starting a fracas by asking "Romney said either you're not as wealthy as you say you are, said maybe you haven't paid the kind of taxes we would expect you to pay, or you haven't been giving the money to veterans or disabled people. Are any of those accusations that he has leveled true?"

There were good scrapes on healthcare and immigration.  Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox's retort that he wasn't going to pay to build "no fucking wall" was the best.  But Rubio's best lines were used during the "if no Obamacare, then what?" exchange.  (It's too far along in the cycle to just say 'repeal and replace', after all.)

This all led up to the most punishing blow Rubio landed, again refusing to let Trump get away with a superficial answer on how he would reform the U.S. health care system. Casually but with a touch of disdain, Rubio pressed Trump on what his plan for health insurance reform would be, other than allowing customers to shop across state lines for a plan. 
“What is your plan, Mr. Trump?” Rubio said. “What is your plan on health care?” 
“You don’t know,” Trump replied. “The biggest problem —“ 
“What’s your plan?” Rubio asked again. 
“The biggest problem, I’ll have you know…” Trump said, before being interrupted once again. 
“What’s your plan?” Rubio said. 
Trump gave up, instead mocking Rubio for his near-catastrophic debate performance Feb. 6 in New Hampshire, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie badgered the Florida senator into repeating himself multiple times in a way that was subsequently mocked as robotic. 
But as Trump once again invoked purchasing health plans across state lines, Rubio used Christie’s tactic against him. 
“Now he’s repeating himself,” Rubio said. The audience cheered loudly and knowingly, acknowledging that Rubio was not only demonstrating a toughness that he had not shown under fire from Christie, but was using against Trump the accusation Christie used against him. 
Trump was flustered.

But the $64,000 question remains.

Hours before the debate, a Quinnipiac University poll sounded what could be a death knell for the hopes of party elders intent on blocking Trump's advance: it showed Trump handily winning in Florida, Rubio's home state. 
It found that 44 percent of Republicans there would vote for Trump, compared to 28 percent for Rubio. Cruz would place third with 12 percent, according to the February 21-24 survey of likely Republican primary voters. 
"If Rubio can't win in his home state, it is difficult to see how he can win elsewhere," said Peter Brown, the poll's assistant director. 
The March 15 Florida primary is among the juiciest prizes of the Republican nomination race because it is the first big battleground where the winning candidate scoops up all of the state's delegates. 
Some within the party still expect a long fight and cling to a scenario in which Trump, Rubio and Cruz stay in the race until the convention, with none gaining an absolute majority of delegates. In this case, after a first round, delegates would be released from their initial commitment and could vote for the candidate of their choice in a second round, thereby reshuffling the electoral deck.

If Cruz wins Texas next Tuesday by some significant percentage, and Rubio forges a comeback in the Sunshine State, it could happen.  I'm not betting -- today -- against PredictWise's percentages on it, though.

 Ben Carson begged someone to attack him and whined about not being asked enough questions again. Kasich may have moved into the understudy role for the vice-presidential nod, if he didn't ruin it by saying "we're not going to break up families".

Not a shitshow and not a food fight.  There was lots of laughing and ooo-ing at snappy remarks and chucking and giggling at double-entendres, like Apple's back door and the like.  The event was logistically executed without a flaw, the feed and swag compliments of Google memorable, but being in a room with maybe four or five hundred media types was a bit overwhelming at times for this reporter.  I can't listen to what's being said and Tweet it out as fast as the kids can, which is why I rely on the snark or others.  And the snark was a buffet all its own.

Now we wait for fresh polling and some election returns next week.

Update: Worthy reaction from Kevin Drum ...

Scorecard: I think Trump took some real hits tonight. He could start to lose a few points in the polls, especially if he spends the next week fending off questions about his tax returns and his $1 million fine and his health care plan. Rubio and Cruz both did well, but I give Rubio the edge. His attacks were a little sharper and the rest of his debate performance was a little better. Carson and Kasich were, of course, nonentities. Never has it been so obvious that no one cares about them anymore.

... and Newsweek ...

No one seems to go after Trump for not caring about the little guy. His opponents didn’t make enough of the old woman who lost her home to make way for a casino parking lot Trump was building in Atlantic City. But it quickly turned into a debate over eminent domain, not a woman at the end of her life. 
There’s plenty to use against Trump, namely the way he’s treated the help. The writer Mark Bowden once depicted him as a rich maniac screaming at his gardeners and handymen. As long as people see Trump as outrageous in service of America, they love him. If they see him as indifferent to or hostile towards the little guy, then he’s going to hurt. That’s a battle Hillary Clinton with her fighting-for-you message could win. 
Instead, Cruz and Rubio fumble soundbites. “The Palestinians aren’t a real estate deal,” Rubio kept repeating, even though it’s a malapropism. (I’m pretty sure the Czechs aren’t a real estate deal). And if Trump sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a kind of real estate deal, he’s no crazier than every president since 1967. But in their effort to try to portray him as a mogul in a keffiyeh, Cruz and Rubio stepped all over themselves without likely picking up a single vote in Boca Raton. 
Maybe a year from now when President Rubio is in his first 100 days, these criticisms will seem lame, fleeting. But I suspect it’s much more likely the first 100 days of the new administration will belong to a president from New York—Trump or Clinton.

... and the Chron's compilation of spinmeister takes.

Update II: Here's how it reads when I play it straight down the middle.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


There will be some words blogged later.

Underneath those tarps at the entrance to the media center, there are about 8-10 strapping young men checking bags and backpacks.  They are wearing "Secret Service"- emblazoned bomb vests. Additionally, there seem to be a thousand HPD officers, a hundred of those with bomb-sniffing dogs, swarming the U of H campus.  Cullen Boulevard is blocked and barricaded to cars and pedestrians. Super Bowl security has nothing on the RNC.

Click on these for larger views; they get a little fuzzy if I post them any larger.  It's time for a new celly with a better camera.

More later.

Update: These pictures were taken between 12:30 and 1 p.m. today, and the atmosphere was already crackling with electricity.  These debates are always tense for the candidates and campaigns and supporters, but the nonchalant and cynical seen-it-all vibe from the corporate media lining the bullpen is apparent.  The locals and especially the millennials among them are trying to look serious but they're bubbling over, three hours before kickoff.

There are three hundred of the cheap seats where I am, with the chili mix package and a Google pen and a Cardboard YouTube viewer.  Google fed the mob breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The only thing that really impressed me so far is when I logged in on the WiFi, and Android instantly updated 16 app drivers on my phone.  Oh, and I need a nap; I've been up since 3 a.m.  Unless somebody does something crazy, no further updates here.  Follow the Twitter feed, top right hand column, and look for the wrap-up early tomorrow morning.

Fight Night in Houston tonight

Republicans are in a frenzy.

As Houston readied to become the center of the Republican universe, hosting a crucial presidential debate to be aired on CNN and Telemundo, the GOP hopefuls lined up, holding rallies and headlining dinners. 
With Trump still missing on the eve of the debate, Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio spent the day firing up supporters, some of whom drove halfway across the state to hear from their preferred presidential candidate. 
However, fresh polls released Wednesday provided conflicting takes on who's in front in the Lone Star State. One had Cruz up 15 points on Trump, while another showed the contest was a dead heat. 
"Cruz should win the state, but he can't be a credible national candidate if he can't win his own state, and his campaign has hit a lot of turbulence lately," said Richard Murray, a University of Houston professor who co-directed the poll showing Cruz in the lead. 
A full 19 percent of respondents to that poll had yet to make up their mind, however, and another poll, commissioned by WFAA-TV in Dallas, had Trump and Cruz tied with 32 percent each.

Bold emphasis mine.  That 'undecided' figure suggests some awfully heavy Election Day turnout for the GOP.  Your top two questions: If Cruz loses Texas, why does he carry on?

Most (of his supporters at yesterday's rally) said they supported Cruz because of his strict interpretation of the Constitution, his commitment to religious values, his proposal to repeal Obamacare and his proposed immigration policies. (As of Monday, that plan is to, somehow, round up and deport all 12 million undocumented immigrants estimated to be living in the country.) Still, a couple said they wanted to vote for “whoever could stop Trump.” Others called Trump “a conservative by convenience.” But when it came down to it, most pledged to vote for him anyway should Cruz lose the nomination, because Trump has an R next to his name.  
“If our party picks him, then there you go, we have to stand behind our guy,” said Tex Christopher. 
One man, Blake Insel, said that Trump as president would “drive me to prayer,” saying that he has no reason to trust Trump and has never been given one. But when asked if he would still vote for him over Clinton, he said, “absolutely.”

Fall in, lemmings.  Q #2: If Rubio finishes third, what's the point of his campaign?

With no wins to show after the first four contests in the Republican presidential primary, Marco Rubio's supporters are growing nervous that their candidate's chances of becoming the party's nominee may already be slipping way.  
"He's got to do something, he's got to stir up the mix a bit," said Steve Hosheinz, a 55-year-old accountant from Houston who was among 2,000 people who waited to hear Rubio speak to a rally here on Wednesday. "He's a true conservative but he also as a very positive message. He's someone who can appeal to the middle. He's got to show that."

Neither one is dropping out any time soon; both have oodles of cash to burn through and a measure of "not Trump" support that continues to hold the front-runner in the mid-thirties even as he keeps winning.  This is still a primary that could go all the way to the convention; it's just taking on a Clinton-esque air of inevitability.  (Or is that an odor?)

Besides being this week's big deal for the GOP, it's kind of a big deal for the U of H, too.

The university won the event in a whirlwind competition against unnamed Houston venues after the Republican Party dumped NBC in favor of CNN, setting up a frenzied schedule with just two weeks to get the campus ready. 
In that time, Google turned the Yeoman Fieldhouse, an indoor track-and-field venue that could fit about 60 single-family homes, into a giant media center. The RNC doled out 500 press credentials for 1,000 requestors, vetting them all in days. The university figured out how to get wireless signals to a parking lot for throngs of reporters and visitors while converting its Cullen Lawn into a broadcasting hotspot. Police and the Secret Service did secret things. And nearly 4,700 students, staff and faculty vied for 25 randomly drawn tickets to get a seat inside the Moores Opera House, where the school's symphony orchestra was still practicing a week ago and where Wolf Blitzer will wrangle the candidates to keep them on point tonight. 
Viewers won't see the 16 cameras swiveling about, or appreciate the three days that shoulder-held camera operators spent getting their footwork down, so as not to stumble. They won't see how 320 super-high-resolution display panels were pieced together behind the podiums, or the hours of color balancing and lighting tests. They won't see (Trump stand-in and cruz flack Matt) Wiltshire or other student volunteers doing their best Trumps, Rubios and Carsons. 
The Student Government Association received 550 volunteer applications in about a day -- for everything from general runners to audience coordinators - then interviewed 240 applicants in 16 hours, weeding out potential tomato-throwers and ensuring those chosen would professionally represent the Cougars to an audience of millions. 
The stand-in jobs went to the biggest politics nerds -- and not just Republicans, Wiltshire said. As they stood around while technicians checked sounds and lights, they traded barbs over issues of the day - campus carry, Jeb Bush dropping out of the race, John Kasich's recent comments about women in their kitchens. Those discussions spilled over into the faux debate as CNN checked camera angles and practiced cutaway shots when other stand-ins interjected.

Texas Leftist wishes Cougar Town was getting more of the focus.

There will be protests galore.  The parties last night were hyper also.  I'm going to wade through it all tonight, read some goat entrails, see if anything makes sense.

I'm skeptimistic.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rick Perry skates

Justice purchased once again.

The state’s highest criminal court dismissed the indictments against former Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday morning, apparently ending the case that started with his threat to veto state funding for a local prosecutor if she refused to quit her office. 
After Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, Perry threatened to veto state funding for her office unless she first resigned. The Travis County DA's office was home to the state's public integrity unit, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting state corruption. 
Lehmberg, who served a short jail term, refused to quit. Perry followed through on his threat to veto state funding for her office. 
He was indicted by a grand jury, accused of using his office to coerce a public official. He and his lawyers argued — successfully, as it turns out — that he was acting within the powers of a governor and did nothing criminal.

Here's the only news we need more of.

Two of the courts nine judges dissented; one abstained. 

Here are the nine Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judges.  They include Chief Justice Sharon "Killer" Keller, Bert Richardson (about whom I have written extensively and endorsed in 2014) Larry Meyers (the only Democrat on the bench), and six other greasy no-name Republicans.  Until I know for sure, I'll wager that Richardson and Meyers were the dissenters -- or the abstention.  Meyers (Place 2), Place 5 (open) and Place 6 (Keasler, R incumbent) are on your November ballot.  We'll be blogging a lot more over the next eight months but for now, keep in mind that this court needs fresh, uncorrupted faces.

Watched neither the #DemTownHall nor the Nevada GOP caucus returns

There don't seem to be any surprises ... if you don't count Hillary's added condition of releasing transcripts of her Wall Street speeches 'if the Republicans do' a surprise.

Is it really any surprise so many people deem her untrustworthy?

Democrats like Hillary (well, at least Democrats over the age of 50 like her), but that's pretty much it.  Outside of AARP-eligible blue partisans, Hillary is strongly disliked and disbelieved.  Even Ted Cruz scores better.  Let's establish that she can win the nomination with the solid support of middle-aged and senior Democrats, but that is not a demographic that can -- all by itself -- take the White House.

The prevailing sentiment in 2016 is fairly clear: turnout is skewing downward, and the majority of Republican -- and nearly 50% of Democratic -- voters and caucus-goers are choosing the anti-establishment candidate.  The anti-insider vote is showing up in far larger numbers than the status quo, incrementalist caucus.

So what are Democrats going to do?  Run the ultimate insider establishment figure against the ultimate anti-establishment candidate.  Clinton owns all the baggage that the ruling class is carrying in this cycle's zeitgeist.

Seems very dangerous.

What happens if the judge in her e-mail investigation starts ordering subpoenas?

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that U.S. State Department officials and aides to Hillary Clinton should be questioned under oath about whether the former secretary of state's use of a private email system was an effort to skirt open records laws.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is likely to add to the uncertainty hovering over Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the November U.S. presidential election, about the legal consequences of her decision to exclusively use a private email server in her New York home for her government work.

More from CNN.  For the record, that judge was appointed by Bill Clinton.  Hillary could be severely damaged goods if things keep going south for her on the e-mail matter.

Are these personal attacks or are they factual observations?  Far too many Clinton supporters believe the former, in fact take them on as personal attacks to themselves.  So they respond with shit pulled out of their ass.  Voter turnout -- as referenced a couple of days ago -- is a universal Democratic problem.  Charles and the Chronic have more on lagging voter participation.

Update: If you'd rather believe that limp Democratic voter turnout is not going to be a problem, Jeff Stein at Vox is there for you with the comforter.

-- Trump sails in Nevada, Cruz and Rubio battle to a draw over second place.  The spin is that's a loss for both of them.  Duh.

The Republicans are streaming into town for tomorrow night's debate.  Hide the children.

Much of the Republican presidential field is set to appear in the Bayou City on Wednesday, ahead of their debate the following day at the University of Houston.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will hold a 1 p.m. rally at Mach Industrial Group, in the 6100 block of Fulton. 
Wednesday evening, Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are scheduled to speak at the Harris County Republican Party's Lincoln-Reagan dinner, which Gov. Greg Abbott also is expected to attend. 
The reception at the Bayou City Event Center in southwest Houston is set to begin at 6 p.m. 
Two hours later, a candidate town hall with Megyn Kelly, filmed in Houston, is scheduled to air on Fox News. Cruz, Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have confirmed their participation, though real estate mogul Donald Trump will not be joining, according to CNN.  
Rubio also has organized a 4:30 p.m. rally at Houston Marriott South, near Hobby Airport. 

I have a media credential for the set-to Thursday evening and an invitation to Chris Cuomo's party at an undisclosed location.  Cuomo, for the record, is a jackass.  He's setting the stage for a Cabinet appointment, or for his brother's run for president in 2020 ... when Clinton loses in November.

That won't stop me from eating his food, drinking his whiskey, and screwing his women (the latter only figuratively speaking).

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

UT/TexTrib poll: Clinton 54, Sanders 44

A consistent pattern: the numbers close up as Election Day approaches.

Hillary Clinton’s lead over Bernie Sanders has narrowed considerably in Texas but remains in the double digits among the state’s likely Democratic primary voters, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. 
“This race is narrowing, but not narrowing in a way for the lines to actually cross — especially in Texas,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin and the poll’s co-director. Clinton will win, he said, but the question mark, is the state’s Hispanic voters and their relatively low propensity to vote. “This will be a double-digit race, but I don’t think it’s going to be a 20-point race.”

Mrs. Diddie reported seeing four Clinton teevee spots during the course of last evening, all the same, very positive: one on MSNBC and three on the Travel Channel.  Like Nevada, her campaign is going to leave it all on the field.

“It’s her state to lose,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. “Whether this race is 10 points or 18 points rests almost entirely on your opinion of whether Hispanics are going to turn up to vote.”

The Adrian Garcia/Gene Green Congressional 29th race takes on added significance in this light.  Houston's East End turnout in EV locations might be a barometer, but to this point Harris County turnout overall for Democrats is underwhelming.  That may hurt Garcia but it probably won't damage Clinton; voting in the RGV is what to watch for.  As Charles has provided and noted, Texas Democratic votes in the fifteen largest counties (with the exception of Hidalgo) is down about 50% from 2008, but way ahead, almost double that of 2012.  There are no tea leaves to read in this data, beyond what I mentioned yesterday.

Update: Stace has some observations and a suggestion for the Sanders campaign.

For Texas Republicans, Ted Cruz still holds a 37-29 lead over Donald Trump, but it might not matter if he finishes first.  Second place should be enough for Trump to declare victory.

"If he (Cruz) can't win Texas, where does he win?" asked Trinity University political scientist David Crockett, who counted Trump's primary victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina as carrying more weight than Cruz's win in the Iowa caucuses. 
"Caucuses are weird animals," said Crockett, pointing out that they require energy and a big commitment from voters. "Most of the contests are primaries, and Trump has won the first two, in both cases by double digits. That's a recipe for victory in the end if that dynamic doesn't change." 
With Texas considered not only a must-win but a must-win-big state for Cruz, Republicans concerned about Trump's rise are looking closely at the Lone Star State. 
"Trump's got momentum. He's got a lot of support. He could do well in Texas," said Republican consultant Brendan Steinhauser. "Personally, I'm worried about it. I think a lot of Republicans are."

Fear is a primary motivator for conservatives, after all.  To that end, I have seen much discussion among my Republican friends and family about moving to Marco Rubio.  The establishment is also pushing all in on The Robot.  If Rubio closes the gap between himself and the two Texas front-runners, that will be the story next Tuesday night.

Let's stand back and see if things get interesting.  At the moment, they're not.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Low Democratic turnout finally gets noticed

Vox blames it on Bernie Sanders.

It was bad news for Bernie Sanders that he lost in Nevada Saturday. But there may be a bigger crisis embedded in the loss: It suggested he isn't delivering on a key ingredient needed for his "political revolution." 
On Saturday, about 80,000 voters participated in Nevada's caucus — roughly two-thirds of the total that came out in 2008. 
Sanders's reason for running, as he describes it, is to upend how money and special interests shape American politics by empowering voters. This means bringing out an unprecedented number of people on Election Day. 
So as bad as it was to lose Nevada on Saturday night, the tepid voter turnout in itself is almost a more significant problem for him.

Yeah, not going to be Bernie's problem much longer.  He's leaving that soon to Hillary.  nailbender at Daily Kos faults the chair of the DNC.

The bad news (and yes, it is bad) following the first three Dem presidential primaries of this cycle, is that Dem turnout is lower than it was in the wave election year of ‘08, and (this is the really bad part) that the GOP turnout is commensurately higher. This, indeed, does not bode well. 
But to attribute the problem (and yes, it is a problem) totally to the incompetence of the two remaining Dem candidates’ campaigns is an extremely blinkered notion, especially since this very outcome was predicted months ago, based on the strategic idiocy of the Debbie Wasserman Schultz-led DNC.

He (or she) goes on a quite a rant directed at Wasserman Schultz there, so I'll leave it for you to finish.  It may or may not be DWS's fault, but Hillary Clinton is the one -- the only one -- who's going to have to answer for it.

She's as big a part of the problem as Bernie or Debbie, after all.  "Those mean Sanders people do it too!" is the wrong and juvenile response.  Again, why Clintonistas would still be throwing the kitchen sink full of lies at her almost-vanquished opponent remains a mystery to me.  It's almost as if the model for success they are employing is Ted Cruz's.

This bodes poorly for Democrats in November.

Update: This is essentially the reductio ad absurdum that the Democratic primary has come to.  Two links: The Hill, with Hillary asking herself a question -- and not answering it directly -- about trust...

“I understand that voters have questions,” Clinton said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’m going to do my very best to answer those questions."

"I think there’s an underlying question that is really in the back of people’s minds, and that is, you know, ‘Is she in it for us or is she in it for herself?’” she added.

“I think that’s, you know, a question that people are trying to sort through."

... and Ron Fournier at The Atlantic, clarifying it.

Voters learned not to trust Bill Clinton to tell the truth about his private life. But they believed him when he said he got up every morning determined to work for them. “Is he in it for us or is he in it for himself?” Even when Bill Clinton disgraced himself and faced impeachment for lying about sex with an intern, most voters believed he was still in it for them. 
Most voters don’t feel that way about Hillary Clinton, and it’s a dangerous matter of trust. She can’t convince voters that she’s always been honest—not in an era that equips people to be their own electronic fact-checkers. She can’t give today’s voters the authenticity they crave. 
Her challenge is to convince them that even if she’s mendacious, she’s their liar—she’s on their side—and the other side lies almost as much. 

Hillary and her people need to be certain that the definition of 'the other side' they're using is the Republicans ... and not Bernie Sanders.

The Weekly Last of the EV Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that early voting for the 2016 primaries continues through Friday as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at how cases involving Texas may be affected by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Harold Cook sees no winning scenario for Republicans in the SCOTUS vacancy.

Libby Shaw, contributing to Daily Kosurges Bernie and Hillary supporters to kiss and make up. Don’t be Swindled by a Ham Head.

Not understanding the vitriol of the Clinton campaign's supporters toward their primary challenger, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs provided the polling numbers for the ten states voting on March 1 in hopes that Clintonoids might be able to calm down a little.

Meanwhile, Ted at jobsanger doesn't understand what Bernie Sanders' campaign is all about.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says buckle up for a gay-bashing, theocracy-pushing Texas legislative session.

As Apple debates whether to give in to the FBI and supply programming code to unlock an iPhone, Socratic Gadfly moves past the company's civil liberties PR claims to take a skeptical look at its past and its hypocrisy.

TXsharon at Bluedaze suggests that choosing not to have one more fracked gas power plant is not a hard choice to make.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that two city council incumbents drew no challengers for the upcoming municipal elections there.

Neil at All People Have Value took a good picture of colorful things in Newport, Kentucky. Everyday life has a lot of value. APHV is part of


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

In GOP primary news, Trail Blazers  notes that Marco Rubio picked up the endorsements of two former statewide Texas officials. And Texas Freedom Network hears Pastor Robert Jeffress' call for an apology from the Pope to the 'martyr' Donald Trump.

David Ortez contends that Antonin Scalia would support President Obama nominating a new Supreme Court justice in his last year in office, while Steve Russell at The Rag Blog runs down some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the SCOTUS justice's demise.

Kathy Mitchell calls for transparent policies regarding police body cameras.

Progress Texas gives three reasons why the Railroad Commissioner race matters.

Primo at Juanita Jean's gives an overview of the Democratic presidential primary in Texas, Prairie Weather identifies the 'dirty trick' that gives Hillary an edge and insults Democratic voters, and Somervell County Salon adds a Sanders-Clinton brain dump.

Mark Reynolds advocates for finally putting a price on carbon.

Paradise in Hell is unimpressed with UT's campus carry compromise.

The Texas Observer attended a symposium on campus sexual assault hosted by an Austin right-wing think tank, and the takeaway was: sex is risky, rape is bad, and be safe. Also, underage drinking might be a problem.

Finally, Dallas Morning Views wants the over/under on the number of days "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch can stay clean and sober while out on (now-adult) probation.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The morning after Nevada and South Carolina

-- Progress.

Harper Lee was also laid to rest yesterday.

-- Delores Huerta got Snoped on her "English-only" chanting smear and failed the truth test.

I don't understand why people say they don't understand why Clinton is accused of lying when there's so much videotape evidence of it, and when her surrogates also lie repeatedly for her.  Just this past week, John Lewis claimed he met the Clintons in the '60s and implied Bernie Sanders was never present during the decade's most seminal civil rights activism, when he was.  WaPo reporter Jonathan Capeheart continues to insist that a photo of Bernie Sanders during the time period isn't him, when it quite clearly is.

Is this 'ends justify the means' politics?  Is it "just" politics?  Is winning the only purpose of all of these lies?  Does it depend on what the definition of the word 'lie' is?

I suppose making up lies is better than what Barney Frank is doing: scapegoating people who aren't voting for Hillary eight months in advance for her (potential) November defeat.

Clinton's going to move to her right in order to capture the voters she perceives she will need to win the fall election.  All of the effort people made in terms of "pulling her to the left" is set to be flushed, in about three weeks, shortly after March 15 when her nomination appears more inevitable than it does today.  Will Bernie Sanders' supporters meekly fall in line, threatened into submission with the "Supreme Court" whip?

There's a conversation people need to be having with themselves.

-- Jon Ralston, the big dog in Nevada politics, gives the credit for Clinton's win to Harry Reid and the Culinary union workers.  Lots of people rightly share kudos, however.

Sanders outspent Clinton 2 to 1 on TV ads in the state, and managed to build up his campaign operation to rival hers in size. But Team Clinton, which had been in the state since April under the direction of Barack Obama campaign alum Emmy Ruiz, was better organized. Clinton’s female-focused outreach strategy in Nevada paid off, with exit polls showing Clinton winning among women by 16 percentage points, reversing the embarrassing New Hampshire trend of women choosing Sanders. Clinton once led the state by large margins, but a poll last week showed she and Sanders in a dead heat. The former secretary of state canceled a campaign rally in Florida this week and spent an extra day campaigning in Nevada. 
Her high-profile surrogates, including actress Eva Longoria and Cabinet member Tom Perez, flooded the state and held multiple events every day, out-campaigning Sanders’ team.

There was also longtime Clintonite America Ferrera, who raised eyebrows when she said she wanted to "Netflix and chill" with Hillary (if you don't get why that's eyebrow-raising, then Google the phrase and read the Urban Dictionary's NSFW listing), and Will Ferrell, who until yesterday morning was listed on Sanders' website as a supporter but was out encouraging caucus-goers for Clinton.

Total team effort IMO.

Clinton finally arrived at Texas Southern University after midnight, rallying her Houston troops.

-- Can Cruz stop either Trump or Rubio?  Doubtful.

Now the GOP establishment looks fearfully forward to a new phase of the primary contest. It moves to Nevada in just three days, and then to a slate of a dozen states on March 1, 10 days from now. Of those March 1 states, seven are in the South or Midwest, and are likely to tilt strongly toward Trump 
Trump, with 33 percent in South Carolina, cleared the 30 percent bar that many had pegged as a barometer for showing whether or not he had lost momentum over the last few days. Rubio and Cruz were locked in a dead heat for second place, at 22 percent each, before Rubio was projected as the second-place winner by less than two-tenths of one percentage point after midnight.

Rubio probably inherits the bulk of whatever Bush's campaign has to give.  He may get oodles of money from every establishment source.  But Bush didn't make that work for him, and Rubio is wet behind the ears for a Republican presidential contender.

Cruz can regain some momentum from a Texas win and perhaps a few other states on March 1, but he's still Plan B behind The Donald for the anti-establishment caucus.  His best shot is continuing to hope Trump implodes, and that looks less likely every day.

-- So for today's prognostications, let's call it Clinton-Castro versus Trump-Rubio in the fall.  Unless the GOP establishment can tube him at the convention with someone other than Ted Cruz, whom they also despise.  The only man left standing for that job is John Kasich.

On the chance that I have called it correctly, we'll see a vice-presidential debate (heck, maybe more than one) in Spanish, and a record-low turnout for Democrats across the nation, which may or may not mortally wound Clinton's presidential prospects but is likely disastrous for down-ballot Democrats in red states like Texas.  Harris County (unofficially the fifth-largest city in the country, right behind Houston incorporated) is looking ominous for Harris County Dems.