Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Pardoning Climate Change" *updates*

As with the rest of Trump's executive actions, it won't actually solve any problem.  But as long as it gets 'far higher' teevee ratings ... mission accomplished.

Update: Predictable; just another political rally.  No cause for concern on his part.

A few Harvey headlines:

-- Many Harvey-damaged homes and businesses do not have flood insurance

-- Gas prices could rise $1 or more in the wake of Harvey

A large part of the nation's refining capacity has been powered down, and may be severely damaged, requiring more idle time.  Short supplies in the coming month will undoubtedly drive up prices.

-- Looters shoot at Houston police, fire fighters responding

HPD had to divert officers from rescues to the scene.  If I ever again see or hear Mayor Turner or a member of his staff denigrate the city's first responders, their requests for a pay raise, or continue fighting them to cut their pensions, I am seriously going to lose my shit.

-- Turner has made some good calls, like correcting Greg Abbott's unwise suggestion that Houston might ought to evacuate, and shown compassion and a fighting spirit for the undocumented, who fear seeking help from the storm because of Trump's odious efforts to deport them.  SB4 (the anti-sanctuary law) is scheduled to go into effect September 1, and until the courts deal with it, there's going to be extra tension between Abbott, AG Ken Paxton, and the mayors of the state's largest cities, mostly under Democratic authority and parties to the lawsuit against compliance.

Update (8/30, evening): A preliminary injunction issued late Wednesday by US Judge Orlando Garcia will prevent parts of the law from going into effect while the lawsuit moves forward.  Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton will appeal.

But there remains no corresponding sympathy for the homeless in this crisis that I can see.  At least they had first dibs on a cot at one of the shelters.  Hope they took it, unlike this gentleman.

Update: Shelters are jammed, even as the NRG convention center opens for evacuees late Tuesday evening.  Logistics are troublesome, and Judge Emmett throws the Red Cross under the bus.

Emmett said the (10,000-bed NRG Park) shelter was needed both because the George R. Brown Convention Center is overflowing with people displaced by historic flooding, and also because of logistical problems and delays he had observed working with the Red Cross at shelters around town.

"I don't want to throw anybody under the bus but the Red Cross, they couldn't get anything done," Emmett said.

-- Homeowners have only a few days left to file a claim with their insurers in order to be grandfathered in under existing law.  The new laws are, to put it mildly, favorable to the corporations and unfavorable to the people.

The relatively obscure law, House Bill 1774, was passed in May and is designed to discourage so-called “abusive” lawsuits that occur when policyholders sue insurance companies over certain weather-related claims. Proponents say the law will target scams and frivolous lawsuits that have caused insurance premiums to skyrocket in the state. But critics argue that the law guts important homeowners’ protections, while relieving insurance companies from having to pay for penalties such as late fees incurred with overdue insurance claims.

“It’s a David v. Goliath battle from the start,” Dallas lawyer Brian Lauten told the Dallas Morning News. “They have basically taken away David’s slingshot.”

The law has become especially relevant this week, when Texans attempt to assess the colossal damage in Harvey’s wake, and forecasters predict the state will be battered by a second wave of flooding mid-week. Displaced Texans may be unable to return home before the law’s September 1 implementation.

Maybe a few more Republicans with their houses under water will be disinclined to vote GOP next spring.  Or maybe they'll just keep whining to Dan Patrick about their property taxes.

-- Environmental catastrophes are springing up right and left along the Houston Ship Channel (separate post coming).  Yesterday's 'shelter-in-place' of La Porte and Shoreacres, alongside the Ship Channel, was triggered by a pipeline rupture.  Allegedly all is well now, though the authorities responsible for these things long ago earned a 'no confidence' vote from me.

Update:  A chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, faces the threat of explosions after floodwaters and power outages.

Late Monday night, the facility lost power from both its primary supply and its backup generators due to flooding. Employees moved highly volatile organic peroxides into back-up containers to keep them cool. If this class of chemical gets too hot, it can cause fires or explosions.

Update (8/31, very early a.m.): Explosions are being reported at the facility.  One Harris County sheriff's deputy has been taken to the hospital after breathing fumes; nine others drove themselves there for observation.  This excerpt is worth noting:

(Arkema CEO Rich) Rowe refused to release the company's federally mandated risk management plan or its chemical inventory to reporters.

-- Even as Harvey finally moves out, floodwaters in creeks, bayous, and rivers will keep rising, and many of Houston's already-flooded streets will stay that way for another few days, perhaps a week or two.  The next calamity involves one of broken distribution channels: the big trucks cannot get from the warehouse to the grocery stores to restock them, and there will be crowds of people fighting over meager quantities of groceries.  Not sure how that is going to be mitigated today.

Plan on dining out more than usual; you know, if you can afford it.

-- Finally, this piece in MJ about Ben Taub Hospital's crisis contains links to KTRK's website and Twitter feed that have been removed by them.  It's a good thing the author interviewed the spokesperson for the Harris Hospital System; else this might have fallen down the memory hole.  I haven't made time to research what exactly is happening over there.

Anybody got something I haven't found?


An earlier concern that the facility would run out of food by Tuesday night was eased when a partial delivery was made and the kitchen became functional again. In addition, staffing concerns were also partly alleviated as health care workers were beginning to relieve those who had been on duty since Friday.

Update: Watch out for phishing scams.  And floating fire ant balls, pads, and ribbons. And in the days ahead ... mosquitos, polluted water, mold, and disease.  And get a tetanus shot if you've spent any length of time wading in flood waters.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

This week's lefty blog post roundup is heavy on Harvey news.  Below you'll find a link to help out with a donation to your favorite relief effort, but something given to the American Red Cross -- you can text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation -- or the United Way Houston Relief Fund is always appreciated.

The Texas Progressive Alliance "welcomes" Donald Trump to Houston Texas tomorrow, and has no expectation of his doing anything but grandstanding and photo-opping with Greg Abbott.   We hope they both evacuate the city quickly once they're done.  Update: One no Trump here.

Houston's real estate developers -- the people who coined used terms like '500-year flood' coined by the USGS to sell swampland as the place to build the home of your dreams -- and their corresponding replacement of prairie wetlands with concrete and asphalt have left the nation's fourth-largest city vulnerable to catastrophic flooding.  More than 6,000 pleadings for rescue from rising waters came into Houston's 911 call center as of 5 p.m. yesterday.  And the dams holding back the reservoir water in what are now the western suburbs are old and beaten up, but still provide the last line of defense for the heart of the 181-year-old Bayou City.

Houston, though, gets a little too much of the nation's attention because of its size and importance to the state.  Corpus Christi, Rockport, and surrounding communities bore the brunt of Harvey's fury, and these photos illustrate the suffering of those living there and the wisdom of evacuating from wind and surge.  Wendy Lane Cook has good memories of, and good wishes for, the city and people of Rockport as they deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

Those who are hurting the most are always those with the least to lose, most often people of color and the seniors, the disabled, and their communities.  I personally find my empathy somewhat lacking for the rich people's problems I've been reading about.

Here's more Texas blog posts and news.

Off the Kuff celebrates the legal demise of Texas' awful voter ID law.

SocraticGadfly looks at the antifascism movement, and thinks a lot of it is the old Black Bloc, repackaged.

Senator Ted Cruz goes all in for symbols of racism and slavery. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme suggests checking out Beto O'Rourke, who is running against him.

There was a lot of news being broken elsewhere while Harvey was banging walls, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected some of it.

San Antonio is welcoming evacuees and sending support groups to areas south and east as requested, according to the Rivard Report.

Texas Monthly's Daily Post offers some ways you can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey -- the kids, the pets, people with medical needs, the homeless, the displaced.

Houstonia features the unsung heroes of Harvey: the first responders, the volunteers, and the media.

ProPublica collaborated with the Texas Tribune to explain why Houston wasn't ready for Harvey.

The Anti-Media aggregated some of the before and after-Harvey pictures of Houston roads and bayous that have been circulating on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that the Denton County Republican Party passed a unanimous resolution demanding all Texas GOP state representatives withdraw their support of Speaker Joe Straus.

Grits for Breakfast rounds up some compelling criminal justice news from around the state.

In a righteous rant, Stace at Dos Centavos goes off on Democrats, pointing out that it's not just about Trump pardoning that fiend Joe Arpaio.

Amy Howe, via SCOTUSblog, summarizes where we stand in terms of the latest developments in the Texas congressional redistricting court decisions and appeals.  Michael Li analyzes the ruling of intentional discrimination in the statehouse redistricting, and RG Ratcliffe explains how that ruling could affect Speaker Straus' future.

Paradise in Hell translates Trump's Phoenix speech.

And jobsanger liked it better when Harvey was a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Funnies

No worries about catastrophic rainfall here.  My street and home are high and dry, electricity is on, family is secure.  The greater Houston area, generally, is experiencing a 500-year flood event, with my neighbors near and far enduring crises.  It's going to be a few more days before the rain ends, and we'll need help cleaning up and rebuilding.  For the moment, I can chuckle...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

While Harvey was wall-bangin' ...

-- Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio and fired Seb Gorka. That's how you makes every white nationalist in the United States happy and sad at the same time.  Oh, he's also using Harvey as an opportunity to deport people.

Guy's got a gift for chaos.  Probably could call it god-given (if there was a god).

-- The city of Houston failed to certify the signatures on the petitions collected by the firefighters in time to put their pay raise proposition on the November ballot.

Despite weeks of outcry, the push by Houston firefighters to put equal pay with police officers on the November ballot will not be coming to fruition, as the deadline for City Hall to validate the petition has elapsed.


(Fireman's union president Marty) Lancton said he had offered the city financial assistance verifying the signatures if it needed to pay more employees for overtime (the mayor's office accused him of an ethical violation and asked the city attorney to open an investigation; the city attorney concluded no action was necessary). Former KTRK reporter Wayne Dolcefino's consulting firm also offered help, and Lancton said at least two council members offered district resources; but "the mayor smugly ignored the offers and the City Council took no action on the issue," Lancton wrote.
City Secretary Anna Russell, who has held her post for 45 years, said earlier this month that her office could not begin verifying signatures on the firefighters union petition because it hadn't finished verifying a petition submitted in April related to pension reform, filed by an outside political group, Texans for Local Control. Alan Bernstein, spokesman for the mayor, maintained that Mayor Turner had no influence in this process, saying she has always verified petitions in the order they're received.

How convenient for the mayor.  Let's point out that he also lost in court in his effort to legally prosecute the homeless, but at least he's making some progress on that bullet train to Dallas.  And he needs to cut HillCo loose and do his own lobbying, enlisting his governmental relations staffer Bill Kelly, who worked for Mayor Pro-Tem Ellen Cohen when she served in the Texas House.  Those three could squeeze a few phone calls onto their calendar, maybe a drive over to Austin during the session a couple of times, saving the city a little money.

Kuff is wrong again.  That's been happening a lot lately.

-- At least the mayor is smarter than Greg Abbott, so there's that.  The goobner calls for an evacuation of Houston, but Turner and County Judge Emmett say, "hold on there".

Abbott urged all Texans to heed any mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders issued by local city and county officials—but even urged people to "strongly consider" evacuating even if no evacuation order has been issued.

He made comparisons to Houston's catastrophic Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, saying that Harvey is bringing rivaling amounts of rain. The National Weather Service has forecast between 18 and 24 inches of rain for the Houston region. As such, he even urged Houstonians to consider evacuating farther north, a suggestion that contradicts advice from local officials and Mayor Sylvester Turner.
"I would urge people to strongly consider the evacuation process," he said, "because there is the possibility that people may have to go a long time without access to basic necessities, without access to water, food, power. If you have the ability to evacuate and go somewhere else for a little while, it would be good."

At a 4 p.m. press conference, Mayor Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett re-emphasized that there has not been nor will be any evacuation order for Houston, nor would they recommend voluntarily evacuating. Turner had recalled the disaster that a mandatory evacuation order during Hurricane Rita created in 2005, when people died of heat exhaustion on the highway and had to be rescued during the immense gridlock. At the presser, he and Emmett said that, given Houston is not in Harvey’s hurricane path and is dealing instead with a large rain event, this is not the type of storm that would prompt evacuations.

“In the City of Houston, this is a rain maker,” Turner said of the tropical storm that Harvey is bringing to Houston. “There’s no need for people to be thinking about leaving, getting on the road and putting themselves in danger. Quite frankly, you can be putting yourself in more danger by getting on the road.”

Turner said he and Abbott have not spoken on the phone, but Emmett said when he talked to Abbott this afternoon, Abbott assured him the message to people would be "listen to your local officials" about evacuations.

Abbott is a stone cold moron.  Someone should have told him that Houston's masses attempting to evacuate from Rita -- a week after Katrina -- resulted in virtually the same number of deaths as the storm itself did over the entire region.

In the Houston area, the muddled flight from the city killed almost as many people as Rita did. An estimated 2.5 million people hit the road ahead of the storm’s arrival, creating some of the most insane gridlock in U.S. history. More than 100 evacuees died in the exodus. Drivers waited in traffic for 20-plus hours, and heat stroke impaired or killed dozens. Fights broke out on the highway. A bus carrying nursing home evacuees caught fire, and 24 died.

The story later became about whether the haste was an over-reaction to Katrina. Houston Chronicle science writer Eric Berger argued (on Sept. 22, 2015; ten years after) that the pre-storm anxiety made sense. Rita looked terrifying and was headed straight toward Houston with 175 mph winds and worst-case scenario potential.

Nevertheless, Berger wrote, “state, county and city officials were unprepared.” The haphazard evacuation plan –  no contraflow lanes; inadequate policies to keep gas flowing – created bedlam. 

I blogged extensively about my own attempt to get out of town at the time, 11 years and 11 months ago.  Berger now blogs at Space City Weather, and is the only source I consult for hurricane-related news (though I look at the maps at Accuweather and Weather Underground, nobody has demonstrated more predictive reliability than Berger).  My teevee has been on the Travel Channel or the movie channels; no local weather hypesters nor panic-inducing hysteria for me.

-- The fraud lawsuit against the DNC was dismissed yesterday.

A year-long legal battle over the Democratic National Committee’s handling of the 2016 presidential primary came to an end Friday, with a federal judge in Florida dismissing a class-action suit brought by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“To the extent Plaintiffs wish to air their general grievances with the DNC or its candidate selection process, their redress is through the ballot box, the DNC’s internal workings, or their right of free speech — not through the judiciary,” Judge William Zloch, a Reagan appointee, wrote in his dismissal. “To the extent Plaintiffs have asserted specific causes of action grounded in specific factual allegations, it is this Court’s emphatic duty to measure Plaintiffs’ pleadings against existing legal standards. Having done so . . . the Court finds that the named Plaintiffs have not presented a case that is cognizable in federal court.”

Caitlyn Johnstone at Medium speaks for me.

The oldest political party in the world has died. It doesn’t know it yet, it isn’t acting like it yet, but it is dead. By successfully getting the DNC fraud lawsuit dismissed by Judge William J. Zloch today, the Democratic party has succeeded in killing any argument for its continued existence as a legitimate political party.

The premise of the DNC fraud lawsuit was simple: the Democratic National Committee promised voters an impartial party primary, and in 2016 it did not deliver them what it promised. By taking donations from people who believed its promise of impartiality, it committed fraud, in the same way a company selling a product labeled “sugar free” would be committing fraud if its product was loaded with maple syrup.


Documents released by WikiLeaks such as the conversations in the more egregious DNC emails, the Podesta emails showing that the DNC and the Clinton camp were colluding as early as 2014 to schedule debates and primaries in a way that favored her, then-DNC Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile acting as a mole against the Sanders campaign and passing Clinton questions in advance to prep her for debates with Sanders all demonstrate a clear and undeniable violation of the Impartiality Clause.

The DNC Charter was revised with this promise to the American people in order to prevent a DemExit after the 1968 fiasco in Chicago, and in 2016 they undeniably broke this promise.


If you are American, whether Democrat, Republican or otherwise, you should read through Judge Zloch’s Order of Dismissal in its entirety when you have time, because this is a historic moment in your nation’s history and this ruling affects you personally. Had the case been allowed to proceed, it could have seen the DNC suffer tremendous consequences for its blatant Charter violation with the promise of more penalties should they repeat the behavior again. Former DNC leaders could have been forced to testify under oath about their behavior, and people who donated to the Sanders campaign could have been refunded their money. The DNC would have been forced into a situation where it could no longer actively sabotage progressive candidates without expecting severe consequences for that behavior.

Instead, the DNC has elected a virulently pro-establishment replacement for Debbie Wasserman Schultz in its new Chairman Tom Perez, and has to this day admitted no wrongdoing nor given any indication that it will make the massive, sweeping changes that would need to be made to prevent Impartiality Clause violations from happening in the future. There is no reason to believe that 2016 was the only time the DNC weighted its scales for a preferred candidate just because 2016 was the year it got caught, and there is now no reason to believe it won’t do so again, since it has no incentive not to.


The DNC violated its Charter, and it will not be penalized for doing so. It will march right into 2018 and 2020 using its same dirty tactics and its same fake primaries to sabotage progressive candidates and make sure that America remains dominated by not one but two right-wing parties. It therefore deserves to die.

And die it will. People like myself and countless other voices in US political commentary will forevermore be able to legitimately say that the Democrats run a novelty joke party which does not feel any obligation to hold real party elections. The Dems now have as much party legitimacy as Vermin Supreme or the Rent Is Too Damn High party. Stop taking these people seriously. DemExit and do not look back, because it’s only going to get worse from here.

You are right back where you were in 1968, America. Don’t let them fool you again.

In Texas, the Green Party has been unable to capitalize (pun intended) on the ineptitude of the Texas Democratic Party because of their own incompetence and infighting.  That leaves a small band of Democratic Socialists, who seem to be gathering a bit of momentum of late.  Should be of some interest as to whether a group of progressives -- Greens, DSA, independents running on the Donkey line, like Tom Wakely -- can muster candidates to the 2018 ballot.  I'm not holding my breath.

As I peruse my early options for next year, I do find some Democrats I could vote for, though not in their primary: Beto O'Rourke, Wakely, Almost Anybody But Cargas in CD-7, Judge RK Sandill running for SCOTX.  With Deb Kerner out of the scrum to replace John Culberson, I need to vet the candidates bidding to replace my shitbag Congress critter.  Alex Treehousesyphilis seems progressive, at least as Democrats go, but he has raised a metric shit-ton of money and that does nothing to elevate him in my eyes.  Laura Moser would be a good choice if she weren't so attached to Hillary Clinton last year.  Jason Westin abruptly unfollowed me on Twitter, probably because he figured out I'm well to the left of where he is.  Joshua Butler has some promise as the African American millennial in the race.  So if any of these managed to escape to a runoff next spring, I could swallow hard and wheel in the red square beside their name if I had to.  But there's plenty of time for the field to winnow itself before next March (or April).

Harvey is hurting South Texas, but not Houston (yet)

The floods are coming.

There are several tornado warnings, most expiring, as this posts, around the southwest metro area (Fort Bend County and thereabouts).

A few of the same to the east of Houston (Liberty County).  Plenty of rain and wind overnight but nothing spectacular.

Worst of the rain still to come, especially if Harv decides to double-back and come at us from Corpus.

My go-to weatherman says there's still no predicting where he goes next.  So we wait.

Friday, August 25, 2017


It's always best to leaven pending calamity with a little humor, after all.  We're all hoping Harvey turns out to be that large invisible rabbit from that old Jimmy Stewart movie.  Probably he's going to show up as something considerably more real.

No, it's Friday, Steve.  All the way to Monday, and maybe a few days after.

The petrochemical industry from Galveston to Houston is an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen, according to scientists who have used models to predict a worst-case scenario for the Gulf Coast. Roy Scranton, an assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, described their efforts in a Times opinion essay last year.

Among the predictions from one modeled scenario: “More than 200 petrochemical storage tanks have been wrecked, more than 100 million gallons of petroleum and chemicals spilled. Damages for the region are estimated at more than $100 billion. More than 3,500 are dead.”

Read more if you feel like it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nobody tells him what to do

"Don't look!"

It's not like he needs vision for reading anyway, since he doesn't read.  People read things to him.  He watches television, and you don't need 20/20 eyesight to watch Fox, unless you're trying to look up skirts.  But he might miss looking at catalogues of golden draperies, or clippings of articles favorable to him selected by his aides.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance supports the employers who feel their workers deserve a break today to view the solar eclipse.

And screw those lousy management consultants who are whining about lost productivity.

Here's the blog post and news roundup from last week.

Off the Kuff notes a new lawsuit filed to protect spousal benefits for Houston city employees against an assault by anti-LGBT zealots.

SocraticGadfly writes about another personal experience with age discrimination.

Texas (aka Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton) are going to take their chances with a new, conservative Supreme Court rather than have the Lege redraw Congressional and statehouse maps ruled unconstitutional for the umpteenth time, reports PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

A Texas Republican legislator thinks running over protestors should be encouraged. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks he and his party are deplorable.

Texas Vox celebrates the end of the special session.

Texas Leftist reminds us that Trump also tossed out his infrastructure advisory council last week.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston remembers a time when "not all Republicans were racist".

The Lewisville Texan Journal shares the announcement that longtime Democratic activist Amy Manuel will run for Denton County Clerk in 2018.

As always, Neil at All People Have Value took part in the weekly protest outside the Houston office of wicked-doing Senator John Cornyn. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


Confederate monuments came down on the campus of the University of Texas overnight.  Large rallies supporting their removal in Houston and Dallas were held over the weekend.  Six Flags Over Texas bowed to public pressure and announced that only the United States flag would fly at its front gate (but the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States of America would continue to fly -- and be sold as novelty items at gift shops -- elsewhere in the park).

Meanwhile Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner, has called for a study to help him decide whether or not the statues should be taken away in the Space City.

More news and blog posts from across the Lone Star State follow!

The CPPP Blog reflects on the special session, which sine died a day early last week.

Michael Li breaks down the redistricting ruling.

RG Ratcliffe wonders if the Republicans are going to start running the Lege like they do Congress.

Pete Von Der Haar rounds up ten movie scenes in which white supremacists get their butts handed to them.

Better Texas Blog calls the Senate-modified version of HB21 a step in the wrong direction that pits education against health care.

The Texas Living Waters Project calls for proactive drought response plans.

Somervell County Salon suggests Trump's various golf clubs and resorts as a great place to relocate the Confederate statues being removed in various cities across the country.

And Pages of Victory posts the letter from Rosanne Cash that reminds white supremacists NOT to associate their philosophy with the long legacy of social justice her father lived.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mayor Turner wants a study about Confederate statues in Houston

No.  No further "study" is needed to decide whether or not to remove the monuments to the Confederacy in the Bayou City.  I'm fisking Kuff here instead of there.

1.  This question suggests you believe that there is no existing record of statuary within the city's archives.  That would be a laughable premise.  If nothing else, the city requires permits and approvals before statues are erected, so if there is no listing, there is surely a history of permit approvals that should be easily searchable.  It might not be comprehensive to the city's 181-year existence, it may not be digitized, but the past fifty to one hundred years' worth ought to both exist and be easily found and poured over.  A list could be made in time for the next council meeting.

It's hard for me to believe this was a serious query, Charles.  If there were no list of statues, then a lot of city administrators have failed over a very long period of time, which is certainly possible but highly doubtful.  On the chance, however, that no list exists or can be found, I will agree that it is way past time for statues of every kind in the city to be documented.

2.  This isn't the part that requires study; this is the action item.  Several cities, such as Lexington, Baltimore, and New Orleans -- not to mention dozens of others across the United States and even Texas -- are way ahead of Houston in this regard.  Why is that?  Houston's reputation isn't one of waiting for others to "innovate", or progress.  Quite the opposite.  Now, when the issue has moved to the forefront of social consciousness, the mayor calls for a study?  I would ask, obviously: why?  How long?  For what purpose?

3.  Maybe you haven't been able to attend or watch on closed circuit television the city council meetings; that's understandable.  But that's where this sort of discussion takes place (besides on blogs, that is).  We elect city council members to make these tough calls.  Again, not sure why this is a question that requires an answer unless everybody in Houston needs it explained to them like they were fifth-graders.  Granted, there are all those home-schooled Republicans in the exurbs, but still ...

4.  My goodness, sir; the mayor and city council are the ones authorized to make this decision.  The bureaucrats you mention are tasked with executing their order.  Although if enough citizens want to sign a petition to put it on the ballot, there's that.

Four-for-four in really and truly dumb questions, Chuck-o.  You should, in fact, keep going until you ask a question that isn't Captain Obviously-answered.

The Mayor's Special Assistant had a better reply, or excuse for the mayor's recalcitrance, as I would define it.  But the answer there is also pretty clear: there shouldn't need to be much rumination involved for someone who has experienced first-hand the very worst of what the Confederacy represents in his own lifetime, to say nothing of his forebearers.

Now then, to demonstrate that there is some discussion, if not study, that's worth having -- considering both sides of the question in a careful manner -- let me paraphrase my friend David Courtney.  Oh hell, let me just quote him direct.

I think that we should rethink the removal of Confederate symbols. It does not improve long standing racial tensions. It does not address the predatorial business which suck the financial resources out of black communities. It does not address disparities in income or political involvement. It does not address the pressures which are being felt by African American owned business, or historically black universities. It does nothing to advance the well being of African American communities across the country. But it does advance the cause of the Alt-Right by providing them with a simple touchstone by which they can organise.

These are thoughtful and cogent words from a school of thought to which I am not enrolled.  I'll simply say that trying to accommodate, mollify, or otherwise negotiate in good faith with Nazis has not been demonstrated to be a successful tactic throughout the course of history.  IIRC we fought a war over that, the entire world was involved, and the Nazis got their asses kicked.

Among the Sixties memories I would choose not to re-live -- like imminent threats of World War Three and white power rallies -- add a Forties lesson our grandparents and great-grandparents all taught us with their lives, the ones lost and the ones forever impacted.

Never A-Fucking-gain.

Same goes for statues to Confederate "heroes" (sic).  They were traitors to their country.  History would be different if they had won the Civil War, but they did not.  Nobody wants to watch an HBO miniseries to see what it may have been like if they had, either.  No rewriting or whitewashing of history at any time, and never by the racist losers of a rebellion.

Take the statues to the Confederacy down from the public square and put them in a place -- a park in the most Caucasian of suburbs, or a museum -- so nobody can whine about their history being erased.  If it's private property, they can charge admission and not be obligated to condition their alternate facts, carefully chosen by white supremacists long ago to twist truth, logic, and reason far beyond its tensile strength.

How long ago?  Read Glenn Melancon's post linking to the New York Review of Book's piece on James McPherson's Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, published in 2001.  For the click-over-disinclined, here's your Cliff's Note:

Southern politicians didn't want states' rights, they wanted slave owner rights. Only after losing on the battle field did they create a States' Rights mythology to cover up their moral and treasonous crimes, but also to start a new one, Jim Crow.

This topic has been studied long enough.  It's time for our leaders to take action.  The Houston activists aren't waiting around, after all.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Bannon's Fired" Toons

It's remarkable to me how prescient the cartoonists can be; these aren't new.  You'll have to wait until Sunday for the fresh takes.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Texas wants expedited SCOTUS appeal on redistricting

Not reading this anywhere else.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday morning he plans to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Tuesday ruling that invalidated two congressional districts, including Corpus Christi's District 27.

The appeal will be filed this week, unless the state requests — and is granted — an extension on a three-day deadline imposed by the district court's ruling, Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General's office told the Caller-Times Wednesday.

The San Antonio court gave the state a three-day deadline to indicate whether the legislature would convene to consider redistricting, a move Abbott called "astonishing." 

First, I thought these appeals went through the Fifth Circuit before they got to the Supremes (thus the strike-through in yesterday's).  Second, it is a little wild that the three judges who invalidated the constitutionality of the two Congressional districts which Blake Farenthold and Lloyd Doggett currently represent would give the state until this Friday to decide whether to meet with the plaintiffs and start drawing new maps on the day after Labor Day ... or keep fighting it out in court.

Surely it will continue to be the latter.

The federal judges ruled Congressional Districts 35 and 27 violated racial discrimination prohibitions in section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The 107-page ruling, handed down in San Antonio, could lead to a battle to redraw the districts in time for the 2018 elections. 

If Texas does not respond within three days and the Supreme Court does not intervene, the two sides are scheduled to meet Sept. 5 to begin drawing new maps, the ruling states.

Or Abbott's appeal to Justice Sam Alito is taken under advisement by him and he alone decides, or he refers it to the full Court, in which case we're back on the slow track.  If Abbott's appeal is not granted, then Abbott calls another special session for redistricting (rather than leaving it to a squadron of lawyers from the state and MALDEF, etc., and under the supervision of the federal judges of the Western District of Texas).  A special may be coming anyway, since Goobnur Wheels is now grousing about his agenda being derailed by Joe Straus.

IANAL so feel free to weigh, lawyers.

While I was blogging the above, Meagan Flynn at the Press posts an update, beating all the corporate news media outlets and Kuff and the rest of those who are usually on top of these things.  Maybe later today, or tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. in Kuffner's case, with whatever the Chronic or the TexTrib have to say, preceded by "Wow' or something similar.

The ruling means both maps will need to be redrawn in time for the 2018 election, and that lawmakers can't kick the can down the road until the next session. The federal judges gave Texas three days to decide whether it wants the court to redraw the maps for it — or let the Legislature do it. Which would require a special session.


Expect to find out by the end of the week whether you'll have to watch lawmakers tear up the state Capitol all over again this fall. Who knows, given Abbott's philosophy during this past special session was cram as many bills as possible into 30 days, maybe the bathroom bill will even make an appearance on another ambitious agenda.

Hellza poppin'.

Update: KUT touches base with Brennan Center attorney Michael Li, who is also advising the plaintiffs, and he explains the current situation as I have.

“It’s possible that everything gets put on hold until the Supreme Court decides, but it’s also possible that the court lets that go forward,” said Li ... “I think everyone is sensitive with the close timing of the election and everything that it may make sense to go ahead and redraw the maps now.”


“The question now is who redraws the maps.”


“So the normal practice is that a Legislature gets the first shot at redrawing maps," Li said, "and the court has given the Legislature that shot." If they don’t agree to hold a special session to redraw the maps, then the state and plaintiffs go back to court for a hearing in September to hash it out.

The court also still has to rule on the statehouse maps, which could also delay a special session.

Li said legislators will probably want to wait to see if they have to redraw both sets of maps before going into another session. He said it is possible, however, that all this could be sorted out in time for the 2018 elections.

“If all the cards align, and the changes aren’t that massive, then it’s possible that maps could be in place by September or early October,” he said. “But right now everything is up in the air.”

Update (8/18, late p.m.): There will be no special session to address redistricting ... for now. Governor Hell on Wheels reserves his right to call one before 2019 if the Supreme Court lets the air out of his tires.  Ken Paxton's pompous dismay at having judges draw maps -- i.e. his disgust at the governor for failing to take matters into his own hands -- is duly noted for the record.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sine Died

Buy us another round, Governor?

Texas House members huddled near the dais on Aug. 15, 2017. 
Thanks to Marjorie Kamys Cotera at the TexTrib for the pic.

The special session of the Legislature came to an abrupt end Tuesday night, a day earlier than expected, when the Texas Senate adjourned without acting on a House-passed version of a property tax bill.

The House began the late-session drama when it unexpectedly closed the special session with one item pending — a conference committee on Senate Bill 1, which would have required larger cities and counties to get voter approval for property tax increases.

Senate Republicans wanted automatic elections for increases of 4 percent or more. The House settled on a 6 percent trigger, and by adjourning early, House leaders told the Senate to take the 6 percent rate or leave it.

Later Tuesday night, the Senate chose to leave it.

The RWNJs are up in arms tiki torches, but Greg Abbott is signaling 'success'.

"Our office believes this special session has produced a far better Texas than before," said Abbott press secretary John Wittman.

If you're a woman who wanted a choice as to whether to give birth or not, or even be able to have your insurance company pay for your choice under standard polices ... no.  Not at all.

For his part, Gov. Greg Abbott was silent on the session’s end. He signed three bills on Tuesday, bringing the total number of special session bills he’s signed to five. Four more bills await his signature, including a House measure relating to tree regulations on private property that’s a far cry from what he demanded and similar to a bill he vetoed in June. The only other bill to reach his desk relating to reining in municipal powers was one that restricts the annexation authority of cities in large counties.

Likewise, lawmakers didn’t pass bills restricting transgender bathroom use, an emphasis of social conservatives, or limiting state spending, a cause of fiscal conservatives.

Abbott has asked lawmakers to pass bills related to 20 issues. Just nine and a half of those reached his desk.

A better batting average than I predicted last Saturday, but the ultracons are still howling. We'll have to wait for the governor to decide whether his wheelchair seat cushion feels too warm after he gets off the phone with the Porters.  They don't stay up late, but they do get up early to feed the chickens and milk the cows.

Jane Nelson (Senate Finance chair) says we can do whatever we want; she's going to Italy.  Not quite Davy Crockett at the Alamo.  Not even Billy Bob Thornton in the movie, for that matter.

I'll go out on a limb and predict that Abbott feels comfortable enough with his $41 million to declare victory and go home, leaving Dan Patrick to go after Joe Straus, et.al. now and next spring.

(Patrick) placed the blame for almost all of Abbott's failed special session priorities on Speaker of the House Joe Straus.

"Thank goodness Travis didn't have the speaker at the Alamo," Patrick said. "He would've been the first one over the wall."

Patrick said the San Antonio Republican had treated the governor's agenda "like horse manure," blocking votes on measures like the "bathroom bill," private school vouchers and defunding Planned Parenthood.

"We missed some major opportunities, but what I'm most upset about is the House quit tonight," he said. "With 27 hours to go, they walked off the job."

Sounds like the proverbial line in the sand to me.  It's possible that the federal judicial panel that found two Texas Congressional districts unconstitutional yesterday compels a special session before 2019 if the Supreme Court ultimately agrees, and in turn orders a fix before elections in 2018, but we'll have to wait for that on the usual unpredictable timeline.  The Fifth Circuit is the next stop, whoever loses appeals again to the Supremes, and even on the fast track the SCOTUS doesn't take the case under consideration until the high court reconvenes on the first Monday in October.  It's possible that any redistricting simply waits until the legislative session in 2021, as the regularly-scheduled decennial mapmaking process occurs.

So if I had to guess right now ... no more specials.  But I could be wrong.  Update (8/17): I'm probably wrong.  Read this post for the latest on how the redistricting decision affects the probability of another special session.

Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib has more inside baseball.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has no room for hate in its heart, no matter what it calls itself.

Here's the roundup of blog posts and news from last week.

Off the Kuff looks at July finance reports in key state Senate districts.

Socratic Gadfly examines Consortium News' latest in-depth piece on how Putin did NOT "do it" on the DNC hacks and and ties this together with Sy Hersh's comments about Seth Rich.

With only a few days remaining in the special legislative session, it appears that Greg Abbott won't come close to getting everything he wanted out of it, says PDiddie at Brain and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out the Texas Republican hate on display this week, from LGBTQ bashing, immigrant bashing to the kicking of the poor.

The Lewisville Texan Journal profiles John Wannamaker, a former Marine and prison inmate, one of four Democrats competing to challenge US Rep. Michael Burgess (CD-26).

Texas Watch asks the TDI to investigate the automobile insurance collision repair industry's practices that appear to be short-changing Texas drivers.

Ted at jobsanger posts some statistical facts about Muslims in the United States.

Texas Vox needs some help for its challenge to one of Trump's deregulatory executive orders.

Neil at All People Have Value went to the monthly meeting of the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The meeting was well-attended and many tangible actions were discussed. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


More Texas blog posts and news!

Houston, Austin, and cities across North Texas all held vigils for Charlottesville last evening in the wake of white supremacist provocations, animosity, and violence in that city.  Meanwhile in College Station, so-called alt-right leader Richard Spence has been scheduled to appear on the campus of Texas A&M in September.

In San Antonio, Gus Bova of the Texas Observer reported that hundreds pf people clashed over the removal of a Confederate monument in Travis Park.

Armed militia members surround a “mobile command center” near Travis Park.

Leif Reigstad at the Daily Post reports that the guy who quit after 37 days as Corpus Christi's mayor, Dan McQueen, is running for the US Senate against Ted Cruz in the GOP primary.

Marc Campos eulogizes former Governor Mark White, while the TSTA blog remembers his legacy.

The Rivard Report notes San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg telling Greg Abbott to back off the attack on cities.

Durrel Douglas at Houston Justice has been covering the Houston ISD goings-on of late, beginning with a post about the candidates challenging board president Wanda Adams, and the possibility of several black legacy high schools in HISD threatened with closure due to failing grades by students.

In a tale reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984", the Texas Senate's Education Committee claims that a $1.8 billion cut to Texas public school funding is part of a long-term remedy, reports the Texas Standard.

Ty Clevenger at Lawflog wonders why the FBI is still protecting Hillary Clinton.

Bonddad takes another look at "The Changing of the Guard", a 1980 book that foretold the rise -- and destructiveness -- of neoliberalism.

Pages of Victory posts part 2 about why he left the Democratic Party.

The Texas Living Waters Project frets about the zebra mussel invasion.

Lone Star Ma makes the case for breast pumps.

And Harry Hamid fears the incoming hordes of killer babies.