Friday, December 29, 2017

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

Harvey, naturally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 25, 2017

Unwrapping the Final Wrangle of 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays Toons

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Everybody Hates Jill

Not everybody, but a whole bunch of Jackasses who still need a dog to kick 13 months after their shitty presidential candidate snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Honestly, just when I was feeling good about where Democrats (certain Democrats, anyway) were headed ... they had to fuck that up with a fresh round of Jill Stein/Green Party hate.  The New McCarthyism is starting to suck harder.

David has already gone there, and Gadfly has followed suit.  I'll just say that there are suddenly a lot more Donkeys I won't be voting for as a result of this week's pile-on.  Shame all those blue-dick dogs can no longer say their she-ro isn't being investigated as of this morning.

Cover your ears before the braying about "witch hunt" drowns everything out.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Weekly 'Week Before' Wrangle

With this week's Texas Progressive Alliance blog post and news roundup, it appears that the War on Christmas is on again ... and Christmas is losing.  Or perhaps it's just evangelical Christians, burned by Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who are the losers.  Wait ... no, it's Christmas.

In that vein, Zachery Taylor blogs that evangelical belief in the Apocalypse is influencing domestic and foreign policy.  We all lose if our leaders want to bring on Armageddon.

In lighter political reading, Off the Kuff looks at the statewide and Harris County Democratic primary filings, and SocraticGadfly takes a look at the candidate filings and the backstory for the Texas Green Party.

Doug Jones' victory over Roy Moore was made possible by the surge of African American voters in Alabama, a trend Democrats in Texas and across the country would be wise to duplicate, blogs PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

After a shocking Democratic victory in Alabama, Texas Leftist is also left to wonder if something similar could happen for the Lone Star State. What lessons, if any, can be learned by the Jones campaign, and could they apply to Texas?  Here's Part 1 of that question, with some surprising observations.

DBC Green Blog also had some thoughts about the Alabama special election. 

Dos Centavos noticed that Democrats nationally appeared to be folding like a cheap card table on supporting DREAMers, a critical miscalculation if the party wants Latin@ turnout to surge in 2018.

Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog reports that the private plaintiffs -- but not the US DOJ -- in the voter ID lawsuit before the 5th Circuit asked those justices to immediately lift their stay of the lower court order blocking the (revised) law's implementation.

Texas Vox covered one of the many conferences talking about the future of the Lone Star State post-Harvey.  Planet Texas 2050 (part of UT's Environmental Science Institute's 'Hot Science, Cool Talks' series) focused on the environmental stress associated with climate change, a rapidly growing state population, and the effects on our health, economy ... and even the supply of barbecue.

It's Big Spring versus Big Oil as the frackers go after the scarcest of resources in West Texas (their water), and Christopher Collins of the Texas Observer is is ringside.

And in his every-day posting of goofy polling news, Ted at jobsanger says that 59% of Americans think Santa Claus is a Democrat.  (Not sure what this says about a fictitious old white man with a long white beard, or Americans polled, or even Democrats.  Maybe it's all just a joke.)


Elsewhere in Deep In the Hearta ...

In his aggregation of criminal justice news, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast mentions the lack of oversight of 'forensic hypnosis', updates to the appalling report that a TDCJ teacher was raped by an inmate due to chronic understaffing, life sentences without plea bargaining, executing people who didn't actually commit murder (the law of parties doctrine), and more.

Better Texas Blog reminds you that if you were affected by Hurricane Harvey, your deadline to enroll in an Obamacare insurance plan is December 31.

Nonsequiteuse warns of Republican dirty tricks in HD-134, while Houston Justice profiled Richard Bonton, the primary challenger to longtime 5th Ward state representative Harold Dutton.  In SD-10 (Fort Worth area), PoliTex hears the war of words flaring up between the Republican incumbent Konni Burton, the Wendy Davis-endorsed Democratic conservative challenger Beverly Powell, and the progressive Democrat, Allison Campolo.

The Austin American Statesman has news of the Texas GOP filing suit to remove disgraced Cong. Blake Farenthold from the March primary ballot.

A seminar at the Day for Night festival in Houston on art and activism pulled no punches, as Texas Monthly's Michael Hardy listened to Chelsea Manning and Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova talk Trump, Putin, and the Resistance.  More on two of Day for Night's lesser-known musical acts from CultureMap Houston.  Meanwhile, the San Antonio Current gives you the heavy metal Christmas playlist you've been waiting for.

Houstonia spotlighted a northeast Houston institution, Current Cuts, celebrating their 30th anniversary over the weekend.

And Harry Hamid wrote about Liminal House.